Lalaith's Younger Years
(2 centuries before the War of the Ring)
Lalaith leaned over the balustrade that edged the portico above the arched gate, impatiently seeking for some sign of the Mirkwood Elves who were to arrive today. Within her shifting hands, she held her new quiver gifted to her by her uncle Elrond, and laden with arrows, two shining knives, and a bow, similar to those carried by her dearest friend, the son of King Thranduil of Mirkwood, Prince Legolas, who was to arrive today. Yet he was not here, yet. Where was he?
"Patience, young one." A voice, soft and deep echoed behind her, and she turned smiling to see the warm eyes of Lord Glorfindel as he strode near, his golden hair flowing lightly behind him in a soft breeze as it lapped lightly along the walkway. "He will be here, soon."
"My lord." Lalaith murmured, dropping in a curtsey as she gave him a smile. "I am rather impatient, I know. But it has been several years since I have seen Prince Legolas last."
"Yes, indeed it has." Glorfindel smiled gently, stopping beside her.
Lalaith returned the smile, and turned her eyes to follow Glorfindel's gaze as he looked over the courtyard, as if he too, sought for some sign of the coming Mirkwood contingent. The years between their ages were vast, and Lord Glorfindel had seen the glory of Valinor yet by the mercy of the Valar had returned. But for some reason even she did not entirely understand, Lalaith did not feel awe at his presence as so many of the other younger elves of Imladris did. Indeed, his presence to her was comforting, almost as if he carried an essence about him that reminded her of something familiar and dear, yet long forgotten.
"It does my heart good to see you happy, young one." Glorfindel finished with a smile that turned at the corners of his eyes. "And while your heart is always merry, you seem all the more radiant whenever you are anticipating meeting Prince Legolas once again."
Lalaith smiled at his statement, and could not deny that it was so. Since she had heard from her uncle Elrond that he would be coming, she had sung through her days, dancing everywhere she went, hardly able to sit still for anything, so great had her anticipation been. But that was to be expected, was it not? Legolas was her greatest friend for as long as she had been alive. It had been his arrows, and his slender white knives that had slain the wargs and their orc riders that had meant to slay her and her mortal nurse. It was because of him that the orcs had killed only her nurse, and the answers to her past along with the mortal woman's death. She owed him her life. She had looked up to him for as long as she had known him, thinking of him as her friend, as an older brother from the moments of her first memory. And though the sight of him, especially for these past centuries had begun to twinge strangely upon the strings of her heart, she still loved him dearly. That was one thing she was and had always been certain of.
Legolas lifted his eyes to the high smiled in eager anticipation as the cool scent of the falls of Rivendell came wafting over his company of woodland Elves in welcome to their arrival. It had been over a decade since he had last come to Imladris, but it felt like more than a century.
Lalaith, his fair young friend had reached maturity many centuries before, so there would be little change in her appearance. Yet he would swear that every time he saw her, she seemed more beautiful than before. The shadow of the arching gateway passed over his head, bringing into his sight the sweeping view of Elrond's Homely House. Servants were waiting to see to his horse and the horses of his companions, and he leapt swiftly from his mount's back as his eyes lifted eagerly. Lalaith would be waiting for him, he hoped as he scanned the balustrade above him, eagerly seeking for her bright face along the porch that looked down upon the gateway. He saw Lord Elrond's two twin sons, and lifted a hand in greeting. The two male Elves returned the greeting, though theirs were drawn into knowing smirks. Legolas shook his head to himself, wondering if perhaps Lalaith's cousins guessed at the true nature of his visit. Yes, he could use the excuse that his father sent him once again as an emissary of goodwill between the Elven Realms of Imladris and Mirkwood, yet within his heart, he knew that he wished to come for one reason alone. And that reason was Lalaith.
He had known her from her infancy, for he had been the one to save her. He had slain the five wargs and orcs that had been after her and her mortal nurse, and had carried her back to his home, repeating to his parents and the astonished Elves of Mirkwood the charge the dying mortal woman had given him to return the baby to Imladris. For the first hundred years of her life, she had been but a child, as a little sister to him. But then, as all living things do, she had grown up. She had been a woman for over a thousand years now, and the friendship that had been forged the night he had lifted her tiny infant body from the arms of her dying nurse was as strong as ever. And though his feelings for her had become confused, and had remained so for over a thousand years, one thing he was yet certain of. She was dearer to him than anything or anyone he had ever known. She had always been. Her happiness mattered more to him than his own, and he would do anything to add joy to her life.
"Legolas!" A joyful cry erupted from nearer to him than he expected, and his eyes dropped to a bright figure, barefoot and clad in soft blue, flying toward him like a swift young bird, and he smiled as Lalaith drew to a breathless stop in front of him, her eyes shining with happiness, her face flushed.
"Legolas, see?" She chirped proudly, holding out something she had been carrying eagerly in her hand for his inspection.
"What is this?" He asked, his eyes flitting from her bright face sparkling with greeting to the quiver in her hand. It was laden with arrows of Imladris, and a bow, and two long handled knives peered up from the places fashioned for them to rest within when not in use.
"My quiver. Just like yours!" Lalaith announced proudly, nodding at the quiver upon Legolas' back. "A gift from Uncle Elrond."
Legolas smiled, not certain what to think. A weapon bearing maiden? He wondered within his mind. And Lalaith at that? But to see the flush of bright pride on the fair maiden's face, Legolas did not have the heart to speak his doubting thoughts. Elrond, her guardian clearly approved, if he was the one who had gifted the gear to her. And she would be a capable warrior in her own right if she were to be given the proper instruction. Though, he quelled at the thought, he hoped she would never be called upon to use such weapons against a foe.
"Now, you shall have to teach me all you know, my friend." She announced proudly, her eyes dancing with excitement. "Even my uncle admits that I am no longer a child. I am a woman now, and no longer can you deny it, Legolas."
"I cannot deny it." He agreed readily, casting his doubts aside. His heart leaped hard and fast, and he wondered at these new, exciting feelings that tumbled through his heart as he gazed upon her fair form. She had been a child once, in centuries past, but she was a child no longer. His eyes met hers, and he had forced a playful grin upon his face. "Never have I been able to deny you anything, Lalaith. You know this."
She laughed then, her bright, silvery laugh he had always loved. And his grin widened in return as she came forward to embrace him, throwing her arms around his neck as she had so many times before. His own arms went around her narrow waist, and he drew her close for a moment, his heart leaping as he felt the soft press of her youthful body against his chest, and felt her cool, quick breath against his neck. What was wrong with him?
"Come, Legolas." Lalaith offered cheerfully, drawing back far sooner than Legolas wished her to. "My uncle is waiting to see you."
"Lalaith, wait." He protested, his hand within hers preventing her from departing too quickly as he drew her back to him.
"What is it?" She asked, her eyes filled with innocent questions as he gazed down into her dear, beloved face.
He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing would come out. Instead, he drew a step closer to her, and bent his head, brushing his lips softly across her cool, smooth brow.
"What was that for?" She asked with a smile that made her eyes sparkle, and gently wrinkled her pert little nose.
"I've missed you." He finally managed to murmur.