Chapter 2 – So it begins…
Elrond dismissed the other members of the council, giving me a slightly concerned look as he left. Only the members of the Fellowship remained. Spotting an empty chair, I sat in it, closing my eyes.
"We should leave as soon as possible. Tonight, I should think."
My eyes snapped open as Gandalf spoke. Everyone had sat down again. Merry and Pippin were sitting either side of me, as if protecting me from some invisible menace. Elrond had left with the other elves, giving me a concerned look as he left. The others were spread out in the semi-circle of chairs.
"Leaving tonight is not advisable, Gandalf."
I answered the wizard quietly, keeping my eyes on my hands, which were twisting round each other. I knew where my sudden nervousness had come from and I experienced a sharp flash of resentment towards the Elf that was causing my turmoil – how could he still manage to make me act like an Elfling barely in to adulthood?
"Surely leaving as quickly as possible would be best, my Lady?
Boromir questioned my words, voice not as proud as it had been earlier. I lifted my eyes to meet his gaze and smiled at him.
"My name is Seraphina, my Lord."
He smiled, and I continued, eyes flicking round the group, resting for only a moment on Legolas.
"Leaving tonight would spell trouble. Frodo has not yet fully healed; he needs time to rest."
Silence stretched after I spoke, the others musing over what I had said. Pippin shifted beside me, obviously bored, but before I could speak to him, Aragorn spoke out.
"What weighs on your mind, Seraphina? Something is bothering you."
His dark eyes locked with my own light ones and he suddenly nodded, understanding my hesitance in leaving under the cloak of night. Aragorn had always been good at understanding me. Normally, I would have distrusted anybody who could read me like I was an open book, but Aragorn had the ability to do it to anyone.
"Why? What's the reason we can't leave yet?"
Pippin directed the question at me, looking up curiously. I opened my mouth to answer but Gandalf spoke first.
"Frodo, Bilbo wishes to talk with you. Take Sam as well. Merry. Pippin. Go and see Lord Elrond. He has a task for you."
The Hobbits looked surprised, but did as they were asked. Frodo and Sam gave me a little wave as they walked through the archway. I lifted my hand in response. The courtyard seemed empty without them; I had never noticed how the four Hobbits had so much presence.
"You can talk freely now, Seraphina."
Gandalf leant forwards slightly, one hand on his staff.
"I must admit, I am confused as to why the hobbits should be sent away. They are part of the Fellowship, are they not? They should listen to whatever needs to be said."
Boromir looked confused as he spoke.
"What I have to say is not for their ears. They are not worldly like we are. Up until a few days ago, they hardly knew anywhere except the Shire. They do not know of the hidden dangers of Middle Earth."
I answered him, beginning to relax a little.
"They are not children to be sent away when we feel like it."
Aragorn interrupted me, his brow furrowed.
"I understand that. However, they are not hardened against the evil that is starting to crawl out of Mordor. We have all seen and fought against this evil, in some form, at some point in our lives. They have not. I do not wish to alarm them, or even frighten them. I have no doubt the Hobbits will experience fear on this quest and I would rather it be of something tangible, something they face themselves, rather than fearing words."
Aragorn inclined his head in agreement, leaning back in his chair.
"So, what have you to say, lassie? Or do we have to guess?"
Gimli spoke for the first time, eyes fixed upon me. I took a breath, and spoke in to the expectant quiet.
"The Nazgul hunt for the Ring. When they find it, they will kill whoever bears it and take the ring back to Sauron. They feel the presence of the Ring at all times. The Nazgul know that the Ring is here in Imladris. The power of my people protects us, but it only extends so far. As soon as we leave that protection, they will be on us like crows on carrion. Under the cloak of night, we will be helpless to defend ourselves against them."
I finished, and leant back against the chair. The sun was sinking, and gold streaks spread across the sky. I could hear the wind sighing through the leaves on the trees around us; the branches creaked slightly and I shivered: it was not a good omen.
"Well. That is agreed then. We will leave at first light tomorrow. I suggest we gather what we need and get some sleep; it is a long, hard road ahead of us."
Gandalf effectively ended our meeting with his words. Everyone nodded, and rose from their seats. I stayed where I was, brooding silently. Sets of feet passed by me until a familiar pair stopped in front of me. I looked up to see Aragorn staring down, mouth twisted in concern.
"What happened earlier during the Council? When Gimli tried to destroy the Ring, you looked as though you would faint."
I stared at him, heart beginning to pound. I hoped that he had forgotten the little incident, but Aragorn missed nothing. I bit my lip and averted my gaze. That was a part of my past I had not told my closest friend and I wanted it to stay that way; it was a past I desperately wanted to forget. I abruptly stood up, making Aragorn take a step backwards. I forced a smile on my face, hoping it looked genuine enough.
"It does not matter, mellon. I am perfectly fine now – do not worry about me. Now, go. Get some rest."
Several tense moments passed as Aragorn continued to look at me. Finally, he nodded and I breathed a silent sigh of relief. He gave me a quick hug before leaving the courtyard. I watched him go before turning to look at the archway on the opposite side of the courtyard.
"I know you are there, Legolas."
Slowly, the Elf materialised from the shadows and walked towards me. He stopped just in front of me and I looked directly at him for the first time. He had not changed at all in the years we had been apart, and a wave of longing crashed through me before I pushed it away.
"It is good to see you."
His words seemed a little strained and I searched his face, trying to find the truth there.
"You waited until now to say that? You seem to be forgetting your manners."
A ghost of a smile flitted across his face before it settled back in to the neutral mask he had worn ever since he had arrived. Silence stretched between us, the light slowly fading. The setting sun bathed the courtyard in an orange light, making it seem as though the leaves were ablaze.
Without warning, Legolas stepped forward and took me in his arms, pulling me close to him. Automatically, my arms wound round his neck, my face turning in to his chest. Even after all this time, it still felt natural for him to hold me. I breathed in his scent, nostrils filling with the smell of musky earth. Legolas pulled back a little so he could look down at me, and this time a genuine smile crossed his face.
"It is good to see you, Seraphina. It has been…too long."
I dropped my gaze and pulled away, his words reminding me of our separation. I felt his eyes on me and I forced myself to look up at him. His blue eyes were soft, simply waiting for me to speak. My throat felt dry and a voice in my mind told me to simply walk away but I stayed where I was, wanting to be close to him once more.
"Yes, it has."
My answer was short, the words all I was able to muster. Again, a silence filled the space between us and I shivered involuntarily as a breeze swept through the courtyard. Legolas drew closer, and I had to smile briefly at his need to make me comfortable.
"I want to start over again. What happened between us…shouldn't have. The Valar brought the both of us here, I know it. I want to try. I have spent sixty years thinking about it, about you. Len iallon."
I took in a sharp breath, hardly believing the words that I was hearing. How long had I spent contemplating going after him? How many times had I forced myself to not try and find him, to give him space? Now, here he was, asking me to try once more. Slowly, I let out the breath I had been holding and nodded. A blinding smile lit up his face and I felt an answering one spread across my face. Legolas stepped forward, but I held up a hand, moving backwards. On seeing the hurt that flashed across his face, I explained my actions.
"I want this as much as you do, but do not force actions you do not truly want to do. Let things happen as they will, and let the Valar guide us down our shared path."
Legolas nodded and I felt a relief spread through me. Slowly, he reached out and took my hand. Lifting it, he pressed a gentle kiss to my knuckles, holding my gaze. Releasing my hand, he gave me a short bow before turning and walking back through the archway. I stayed where I was for a moment longer, feeling a great happiness settle in my chest. Finally coming to my sense, I walked out of the courtyard, heading towards my room, my knuckles tingling.
I walked in to the entrance courtyard, my steps quiet. I had woken well before dawn, and had double checked everything: all that we needed had been packed up and was ready to be strapped to Bill, the sturdy pony we were taking with us. I had made sure everyone had their weapons repaired and sharpened, even the Hobbits. I chuckled as I remembered their faces on being given real swords.
My own twin blades had been repaired as I would not carry my bow and arrows. My skill with a bow was average at best; I preferred fighting with my blades. Besides, Legolas was an incredible archer; sometimes, I wondered whether his father had taught him to shoot an arrow before he could even talk.
I had dressed in simple travelling gear: dark brown leggings and boots that reached to just below my knees, and a white tunic that was clinched in at the waist. My grey, woollen travelling cloak was held together with a silver brooch in the shape of a flower, with a fruit in the centre of it: the symbols of Valinor.
I reached up and touched the handle of one of my blades; they had served me well since they had first been given to me, four thousand years ago. Like Narsil, Elendil's sword, a pattern of seven stars was etched in to the blades; the hilts were bound tightly in leather. When the sun shone on them, they glowed with a cold light, as if on fire, and their edges were sharp.
Dropping my hand, I seated myself on the ground, staring out at the horizon. I breathed in deeply, letting myself relax. The sun finally appeared and its rays broke out, sending stripes of light across everything. I heard the murmur of voices and the clatter of hooves. Ignoring the growing noise, I pushed myself on to my knees and clasped my necklace. Bowing my head, I started whispering a charm of power. It centered me, helped me to focus, cleared my head. It also charged me with energy so I was ready to fight. Looking down at my skin, I saw that it was shimmering gently. Looking up at the sky, I continued on. I could feel the fire in my veins: this was the power of my people within me. My voice deepened and I could hear thousands of voices: twisting, melting in to one until I was speaking with the voice of all elves. My whole body glowed brightly, pulsing with energy. The conflicting emotions that had been raging within me since last night faded under the weight of love and acceptance of my kin that I could feel through the words of the charm. I ended the charm, and the fire within me dissipated, the shimmer fading. I got to my feet, feeling refreshed. A cough from behind me had me whirling around, finding the rest of the Fellowship staring at me, a mix of surprise and bewilderment on their faces.
"Are you ready to leave, Seraphina?"
Gandalf spoke in to the silence and I nodded. He ushered the others forward, the Hobbits and Bill leading the way. I waited until I drew level with Legolas and Gimli at the back before I started walking. The blonde Elf merely sent me a small smile, knowing what I had been doing. It still felt a little surreal to me that he was here beside me, and not just an image my mind had conjured up to try and soothe the loneliness.
Walking through the archway out of the courtyard, sadness settled over me. I did not know when I would return to Imladris, or even if Imladris would still be standing. The Elves were leaving for Valinor soon: our time on Middle-Earth was coming to an end.
We walked along a natural corridor leading out of the courtyard. Gently sloping banks lead up to higher paths which branched off in different directions. I suddenly walked in to the back of Aragorn, who had stopped abruptly.
"What's going on?"
I nudged Aragorn, wanting to know why we had stopped. Aragorn merely pointed up the hill. Elves lined the corridor on each side. They were clad all in white, and each was holding a candle, which flickered in the growing light.
"Why are they here?"
I heard Frodo speak from the front but he sounded so far away. I stared up at the Elves, heart clenching.
"They have come to say goodbye to their Queen. They know that she does not leave for the Undying Lands with them."
Gandalf answered him in hushed tones, and Frodo's next question tore at me.
"Who is their Queen? Where is she going?"
Swallowing hard, I walked to the front of the group, still staring round at the Elves.
"She is protecting the Ring-bearer on his quest to Mordor."
My words were hoarse as I answered him, trying to hold on to my control. I heard slight gasps come from the Hobbits but I ignored the sounds. I turned in a circle, slowly taking in all the Elves above me. Their eyes stared down at me, and I could feel their pleading pulling at me; their silent begging for me to leave with them.
I had talked with Elrond when I had left the courtyard, knowing that my decision to accompany Frodo was one that would have consequences not only for me. He had assured me that it would not cause too much disturbance, and that my kin would still leave these shores, sailing for safety. That was all that I was worried about – that my decision would put my beloved Elves in peril.
Tears slid down my cheeks, no longer able to be stayed. The Elves were mourning me: as soon as they entered Valinor, I would be as good as dead to them. A hollowness opened up in my chest, and I found it hard to breathe. As one, all the Elves knelt down, and bowed their heads. One by one, the candles went out, the smoke trails curling in to the early morning air. Drawing in a shuddering breath, I placed my left hand over my heart and inclined my head.
"Cuio vae. Nínion ne gwad lîn. No glein a vellin idh raid lîn."
My words came out as little more than a sob, but I knew they could hear me. If I survived this, I would see them again, but my heart whispered that it was a slim chance I would ever be reunited with my kin.
"We must continue on. We are losing time as it is."
Gandalf spoke to me, his tone kind. I nodded and hastily wiped my eyes. I started walking forward and heard the others follow. As we reached the end of the path, and the plains opened up, the Elves started to sing:
"A Elbereth Gilthoniel,silivren penna mirielo menel aglar elenath,na-chaered palan dirielo galadhremmin ennorathnef aear, sí aearon,Fanuilos, le linnathonNef aear, sí aearon!"
I stopped dead and turned back around. The others filed past, their heads bowed respectfully. Legolas stood by me and without saying anything, he took my hand, understanding that I needed support. I didn't protest and clutched it tighter, drawing on his silent strength. The voices rose and sang louder, until all I could hear was their voices. My heart beat painfully hard and a small cry escaped my lips. Everything in my body was straining to run back to them, but I resisted. Shaking with the effort of staying where I was, I raised my hand. Without stopping their song, the Elves raised their hands in return.
Legolas spoke quietly to me, gently pulling me away. Still holding his hand, I turned and walked away from my people, leaving my future behind and heading back to my past.
Mellon – friend
Len iallon – I beg of you
Cuio vae. Nínion ne gwad lîn. No glein a vellin idh raid lîn – Farwell/Live well. I cry upon your leaving. May your paths be green and golden.
Gwaem – Let's go
And here is the translation of the song:
A Elbereth Gilthoniel,silivren penna mirielo menel aglar elenath,na-chaered palan dirielo galadhremmin ennorathnef aear, sí aearon,Fanuilos, le linnathonNef aear, sí aearon!
'O Star-queen Star-kindler,Glimmering white, sparkling like jewelsthe glory of the heavens slides down from the firmament.Having gazed afar at the distancefrom tree-tangled lands of Middle-earthon this side of the ocean, here, great oceanFanuilos, I will sing to youOn this side of the ocean, here, great ocean!'
(NB – the song is NOT about Seraphina; I just felt as though it was an appropriate song for this scene.)
Also, all Elven translations (apart from any songs I put in and Elvish that comes from the movie) comes from www. realelvish .net (miss the spaces between the dots) . I do not own it, or create it. All copyright goes to them.