The Choice

By Aralinn

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter 9

Evelyn found herself walking down an old worn path, one she had not been on in a long time. It was a much older part of the forest, the trees here where larger than most, moss hung from many branches while vines twisted up their trunks. It was peaceful here; she often found solace and comfort in the quite company of the birds and other forest animals. Yet even the serene landscape could not keep her thoughts from plaguing her mind today.

In a just a week's time she would be leaving. How was the time already upon her? It was only just yesterday, it felt, she was being told of her fate with the fellowship. She desperately wanted more time. She would have preferred eternity, but that was not possible. Her nerves were starting to get the better of her, her sleep was becoming less and less restful, more oft than not she just laid awake in her bed. How was she going to survive? Sure Lord Legolas had continued to train her, but it was not enough. She was not good with a bow; it was a good day if she was in a foot of the target. With that skill she was not about to save anyone, let alone herself. And her swordsmanship, well, she was at least proficient enough she could at least hold the sword most of the time. Her mind would have kept wandering had not the sound of a throat clearing jarred her back to the present.

Before her stood Lord Aragorn. Sucking in a breath, she felt her body tense. 'Keep it together,' she told herself, forcing the air from her lungs, trying to make it as natural as possible, 'You can do this.' Tall and erect, he stood slightly to the side of the path, arms clasped behind his back. The tunic he wore was a dark burgundy, with a black over tunic to match his breeches. It was simple, yet the rugged man made it look regal. Though she knew it was the presence he exuded, more than the clothes themselves. Being more observant than she really should be, Evelyn could tell he tried to hide it.

"My Lady," he acknowledged with a slight tilt of his head.

Finding her voice was a challenge. Over the past few weeks The Lord had tried to talk with her, get to know her, but she had not made it easy. Every time she would make excuses, avoid him, and the first time all she managed was to nod her head and flee in the opposite direction. She was beyond angry with herself, she had made a promise that she would not give them a reason to question her, but she could not even do that, already she had failed. No matter how many times she told herself they meant her no harm, it never did any good, she could not get her fear under control. 'Well you better start soon, you have a week.' The sarcastic voice in here had reprimanded her. With a loud gulp, she knew what she had to do.

"Lord Aragorn," she replied, curtsying slightly.

Aragorn stood and watched the woman in front of him. She was very handsome for a human woman. Her hair was long with a natural wave, the color that of straw-much like the people of Rohan, though the resemblance stopped there. Her other facial features were much softer than those of the horse lords and her stature much too short, though she was thin and was more athletic than most women. Her eyes were of a deep blue, reminding him of the sea. He also noted the garb she wore. Her dress was a deep blue, but the style was different from most of the elves. He noticed she always wore dresses that had long fitted sleeves and a high collar, were most Elven women had scooped neck dresses and sleeves that flowed from the elbow. Then again she was not of their kind, maybe such was her culture. He looked back to her eyes.

 Looking at her eyes he could see the internal battle going on in her mind. Her body was tense and he feared she would flee yet again as she had all the others times. They left Lothlorien in just a few short days, and she would accompany them, however, he could not fathom how she would manage when she could barely stay in their presence for a few minutes. Fear was always present upon her features. What caused her so much fear? He was slightly surprised when her voice broke his chain of thought. Maybe he would have a break through after all; his hope had been growing thin.

"Will you accompany me?" He asked extending a hand.

She knew it was coming, knew he would ask her to walk as he always did, and still she jolted when he asked and offered his hand. He must have noted her reaction and dropped his hand to his side. Maybe he did want to help her be comfortable after all, 'then why agree to let me go? Everyone knows I won't be happy.' Biting her tongue, she dismissed the thought. No one was happy with the situation; she might as well accept it and get over it. 'Just walk forward.' She commanded herself and took a tentative step in his direction.

That was how she found herself walking beside him, at a much slower pace than she preferred, she wanted it to end soon, but she remained silent. He kept a good distance between them, letting her have her space, which was a gracious blessing to her. Ever so slowly, her body began to relax, though she was ever alert and vigilant to his body language should she need to flee. Her tremor, thou, remained.

"It is a lovely day." He finally spoke to her, not sure how to appropriately start a conversation or if he even should.

"Yes, most in Lothlorien are." She replied, her voice soft, but Evelyn was just happy she hid the quiver that threatened.

Aragorn took her reply as a good omen, she said more than he actually expected. He would have been thrilled with just a one word reply. He decided to continue, "You have lived here a while?"

"A little more than a year, if you consider that a while." Her voice was stronger with this reply, though she was not sure where he was going with their conversation and if it would be one she would enjoy. The thought halted her, enjoy? Was she actually considering in the back of her mind enjoying their company? She had to forget about that, all she needed to do was survive, not try and enjoy their company. She had the hobbits for that.

"It must be difficult for you to leave these woods."

His words were more a statement than a question, yet she found herself answering anyway, "I suppose. I have never left them before." It would be hard to leave their safety and comfort yes, but if those were not such a copious part of her current life, would it be so hard? Or would she relish at the chance of finding new places and people as she once did?

Upon hearing her answer, he found he was not hearing what he did not expect. From what he had learned from Haldir, and from the little he observed, she was more knowledgeable in horse training and handling than even some of Rohan's people, but she was a shy fearful thing and not one for traveling far from her comfort zone he was sure. But then again, she was not as shy as she seemed with the hobbits, she took to them quickly. Then he figured it out, how had he been so blind? He had not taken much time to think about it before, she was not scared of them, nor was she scared of the elves, she proved that by asking Legolas to train her, she was scared the rest of the group-Gimli, Boromir, and himself. The thought lead him to his next question, "You must be frightened."

So they came to it at last. A part of her knew it would be so. Though it was not a direct question of her fear, it addressed it none the less, and she was not keen on answering. "Are not you all?" Evelyn retorted rather bluntly, surprising herself slightly. She could see it in their faces when they spoke of their journey, albeit it was fleeting, the hobbits showed more than any. That being said, it was there, though very different from her own, they all still were scared of something. At the moment, she did not care to know what.

Aragorn look at her from the corner of his eye, she was staring straight ahead. He had to admit her reply did catch him off guard this time; maybe she was more perceptive than he gave her credit for. She was right though, they all had fear—most more than one. He knew he himself did. He feared the rings influence on the whole fellowship, he feared their failure and what would become of Middle Earth. What was he to say back to her? He was not sure, but he did not have to formulate a reply for at that moment for Legolas rounded the corner in front of them.

"Aragorn, a word?" Legolas' voice was brisk, and he did not bother to address Evelyn. He preferred to ignore her unless he was attempting to train her, which was a joke. Evelyn took notice of his attitude, but said nothing; he could act however he pleased. He was an arrogant pompous ass; she expected little else from him. She watched Aragorn quickly shift his gaze to her, earning her a cold glare from the elf. He did not want to leave her; at least he could be a gentleman. However, she saved him the trouble of making a choice and nodded to both lords before excusing herself. The whole way, she felt the elf's eyes on her back.

Before she was out of earshot she heard him speak to Lord Aragorn in Elvish, and against her better judgment, she stepped behind a tree to listen.

"You cannot seriously still consider taking her with us Aragorn?" He spoke harshly to his long time friend.

"It is the Lady Galadriel's wish and not for me to object her." He replied. He was not keen on her journeying with them, but was much less outspoken with his objections than the Gondorian and the elf.

"Nor is it mine, but surely she knows the girl will not survive."

His friend's words were harsh and seemed void of emotion, but he knew he cared. It was none of their wishes for the Lady Evelyn to be injured, which lead to his response, "We will have to make sure she comes to no harm."

She heard Legolas scoff at his companion before his voice reverberated through her ears, "Yes, and waste valuable time doing so."

Aragorn knew his friend was unhappy, but he felt his emotions were getting too high. Narrowing his eyes he spoke a little louder, "That being considered, you are the only one she trust that can watch over her, you had better accept it, there is no changing our plans." It made Legolas take pause, though he could see it in his face he was still unhappy and would remain so. The elf spoke true, they would all have to watch over another member with limited self preservation skills. Sadly, the hobbits showed more bravery than did she. But with those thoughts he turned to walk with Legolas in silence, both lost to their own thoughts.

Behind the tree Evelyn still stood still as stone. She had always figured their views on her addition, but until now they had not been verified. She had prepared herself, she thought, for the realization of the truth, but it still felt as a blow to the stomach. Aragorn had spoken true, the member she felt comfortable around that could protect her, wanted to do anything but. Pushing herself form the tree, she walked briskly to her flet, eyes watching the earth beneath her, paying little head to anything else, and once she was there she lay on her plush bed to stare at the wooden roof above her head.

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