"I am not sure about this," Dimoriel said hesitantly as they passed another wood elf home. They were almost to the king's palace.
"It will be fine," Legolas assured her, nodding at an elf that walked by. It took him a moment to realize that Dimoriel had stopped. He paused, looking around at her. Behind her, Duarthon stopped as well. "Dimoriel?"
"I can't do this. I can't risk it."
"You are already here, you mine as well stay," Legolas replied. "Until we find a place for you, you are more than welcome to stay in the palace."
"Perhaps I should just find a tree and camp," Dimoriel said, looking like she was about to turn around.
"If you want, you can stay with me and my wife," Duarthon offered. "We live out in the woods, and it is easier to get away without running into people than if you were in the palace itself."
Dimoriel was silent, thinking it over. She really just wanted to ride home, but she no longer had a home. She had come this far.
"Alright," she said finally. "If it is not too much trouble."
"Not at all. Lithiril will be happy to have you, and we have plenty of room where you don't need to worry about contact with others. We can go now instead of heading to the palace. I will meet you there later, Legolas." Legolas smiled and nodded, continuing on as Duarthon turned north, Dimoriel following.
"I really appreciate this," Dimoriel said softly after they had ridden some distance in silence. "I will stay out of your way as best I can."
"I doubt you will have any reason to worry in our house," Duarthon said, knowing that she was worried about her disposition. "Lithiril can make anyone smile. You have nothing to fear while you are with us."
"I still fear for your safety. I will leave as soon as possible."
"Just wait until you meet my wife. You will see."
Dimoriel did not have long to wait. They rode a short distance further down the path, when a dark haired elleth came into view, kneeling in a tidy flowerbed beside a sizable tree house. When she heard the sound of hooves, she looked up, her face breaking into a smile.
"Duarthon! You are home sooner than I expected. I am glad you are safe though. Who is this?" she asked, looking up at Dimoriel as her husband dismounted next to her. He kissed her cheek before continuing.
"This is Lady Dimoriel. If you do not mind terrible, she needs a place to stay for awhile and I offered to let her remain here."
"Not a problem at all! It is a pleasure to have you, Lady Dimoriel," Lithiril said, wiping her hands on her apron. "You are welcome in our home as long as you like."
"Thank you very much, my lady. I do apologize for arriving without notice like this."
"Think nothing of it. I do love visitors. Oh my!" she said, her eyes going wide as Lendis dropped out of nowhere and alighted on Dimoriel's shoulder. "Is this a friend of yours?"
"Yes, this is Lendis, but she will roost outside, so there is no need to worry about her."
"Of course, of course. Please, do come in. I am sure you are hungry after a long ride."
"Thank you, my lady," Dimoriel said, dismounting.
"Lithiril, I have to go meet with the king and give my report now, but I will be back soon. Do you think you can get Dimoriel settled?"
"Certainly," Lithiril replied as Duarthon mounted his horse again. "We will have everything settled by the time you get back.
"Excellent. I will see you later, melamin. Lady Dimoriel." Duarthon turned his horse and departed back down the path they had come, leaving Dimoriel alone with his wife. Dimoriel was nervous being left alone with the lady. If something should set her off, she would have no one to protect Lithiril from her rage. Feeling that she should get that piece of information out on the table, Dimoriel stopped her hostess as she made to enter the house.
"My lady, I feel I must warn you about myself before you decide to let me stay here." Lithiril turned and looked at Dimoriel with a puzzled look, waiting for her to continue. "I am not entirely stable, mentally I mean. I have suffered a great deal of pain in my life, and when I get angry, I lose control of my faculties. Just a few days previous, my home in the mountains was destroyed, and I hurt both your husband and Prince Legolas as they attempted to restrain me."
"My dear girl, if anger sets you off, then you will have no problems here. Duarthon looks quite alright to me, and if he thinks you will be fine in our home, then I trust his judgment. And if you do need to talk about anything, anything at all, I am here to listen."
"Thank you, my lady. I hopefully will not intrude for very long as it is."
"As I said, you are welcome as long as you need someplace to stay. And no more of that 'my lady' business. You are a guest and a friend, so simply Lithiril will suffice."
"Thank you," Dimoriel repeated, following Lithiril inside.
Legolas knocked on his father's study and waited patiently to hear "enter" from within before he opened the large oak doors. His father was sitting behind his desk as usual, but he did not have a hoard of advisors around him today. He simply sat, reading a leather-bound book. When his son entered, King Thranduil looked up and smiled, closing his book and placing it on the desk in front of him.
"Back so soon? What news have you for me? Where is Duarthon?"
"Nothing good, I'm afraid. Duarthon will be here shortly, he had to run home first."
"Very well, what news do you have to share?" Thranduil asked, gesturing for Legolas to take a seat and continue.
"The dark magic comes from Dol Guldur," Legolas said grimly, sitting in the indicated chair. "We met up with Radagast and he advised us not to go further south, as the wargs and spiders are spreading. They have started venturing as far north as the mountains."
"Those are ill tidings," Thranduil said, his face full of concern. "And what of Lady Dimoriel? Did she have any additional news?"
"Nothing new, but I do need to speak to you about her."
"Oh?" Thranduil said. Just then, there was a knock on the door. "Enter." Duarthon opened the door, coming over to sit beside Legolas after bowing to his king respectfully.
"I apologize for my belatedness, your majesty. I had to drop off Lady Dimoriel at my house."
"She is here?" Thranduil asked, his gaze shifting to his son. "Why did she return with you?"
"Her home was destroyed while she guided us through the southern forest in search of the brown wizard," Legolas said evenly. "She had nowhere to go."
"Are you fully aware of the reasons for her exile?" Thranduil asked, watching his son carefully.
"She did explain her situation to us," Duarthon said, causing the king's gaze to shift to him. "But she could not rebuild in time to survive the winter alone in the mountains."
"Did she explain how she nearly killed a prominent leader of Esgaroth?" the king asked, his voice betraying his concern. "It is not safe to have her live here."
"We are well aware of what she is capable of," Legolas said evenly. "When we returned to find her home destroyed, she had an episode. But as long as she is not angered, she will be fine."
"How do you propose to keep her from being angry?" Thranduil asked.
"She will spend most of her time alone anyway," Duarthon assured the king. "And I will keep an eye on her. She will be staying with me until we find her other accommodations, which she requested be far away from other people."
"I think the best thing would be to build her a new home deep in the forest," Legolas added. "She will be far enough away from people that she can live her hermitic lifestyle, but close enough that she can get supplies should she need them."
"I am not comfortable with the risk that she posses to my people," Thranduil said, folding his hands thoughtfully. "But if you both agree to keep a close eye on her, then I suppose I can agree to this. She is not to go anywhere near Men. I do not want another incident if we can avoid it. Anyway, is there anything else you need to report about Dol Guldur?"
"Radagast sent word to Mithrandir about the dark magic. With luck, he will receive it shortly and come to assist us. Radagast will send word when he arrives."
"I wish I could do more than wait," Thranduil said pensively. "Alright, if wait we must do, then wait we shall. Thank you both. And make sure you keep a close eye on Lady Dimoriel. She is your responsibility."
Legolas and Duarthon rode back to the latter's house after meeting with an architect about the construction of a home for Dimoriel. But before they made the final plans, they wanted to talk to the lady about it. But upon arriving at Duarthon's home, Lithiril informed them that Dimoriel was not there.
"I showed her where she will be staying, and then she excused herself. She's been gone for several hours now."
"Do you think she's just out riding, or do you think she is heading back home?"
"I'm not sure," Legolas said with a frown. "Did she leave anything in her room?"
"I didn't check," Lithiril said, walking into the hallway towards the guest room. She opened the door and let Legolas and Duarthon inside. Immediately, Legolas noticed that the small wooden chest on the bedside table.
"She'll be back," he said, confident that she wouldn't leave the box after she had made him retrieve it for her.
"Well since I do not know when she will be back, would you like to stay for dinner, Prince Legolas?" Lithiril asked as they left the room and shut the door once more. Legolas smiled down at her.
"It would be my pleasure."
Legolas began to worry when it got dark and Dimoriel had still not returned. Lithiril was equally concerned, looking out the window frequently. She was reluctant to serve dinner until their guest returned, but it had been ready for a long time, and there was still no sign of Dimoriel. Duarthon was the least concerned, constantly assuring the other two that she would come back when she was ready.
Lithiril was just about to suggest they eat without Dimoriel when she heard hooves from outside. Looking out the window, she saw the elleth galloping around the house to the front door.
"Oh good, she's back," Lithiril said, heading towards the door to open it and let Dimoriel in. "We were waiting for you, Dimoriel."
"Why?" she asked, looking around when she came in, her eyes falling on Legolas.
"We needed to talk to you about your housing situation," Legolas explained, watching her from the chair he occupied near the fireplace. "And we wanted to make sure you got dinner."
"Oh," Dimoriel said softly. "You didn't need to wait for me."
"Nonsense," Lithiril commented, taking Dimoriel's arm and leading her into the dining room. "We weren't going to let you eat alone. Come, you can talk over dinner."
It had been a long time since Dimoriel had shared a dinner table with other elves. She sat quietly, looking down at her meal as Legolas and Duarthon explained their plan for her home.
"You need not worry about being around people," Legolas concluded after giving her a detailed plan of what they intended to build. "We found a spot to the north which is secluded and away from significant traffic."
"How long will it take to build?" Dimoriel asked, still not looking up.
"It depends on want specifications you want," Duarthon replied. "It can be done at the end of the week if you want just a basic wooden design."
"I just want it done as quickly as possible," Dimoriel said flatly. "As long as I have a roof over my head I do not care. I would normally build it myself, but that would take longer than I would like."
"Very well," Legolas said, watching her stare into her soup. "We will have it set up for you in a week's time."
Dimoriel was absent most of the week, out riding through the forests by herself as Duarthon oversaw the construction of her home. Legolas frequently visited Duarthon, either to see how construction was coming or to check up on Dimoriel. He saw her only once, however, when he arrived early in the morning and happened to run into her as she was leaving.
"How are you doing this morning, my lady?" he asked, watching her mount Sulinte, her bow on her back.
"Well enough," she said simply. "Good day, Prince Legolas." He was forced to watch her gallop off without another word. He felt himself wondering why she avoided everyone like she did. He knew she feared being angered, but he felt that with Duarthon, Lithirin, and himself knowing her condition would make it easier to be around people. She had said herself that she was lonely. It didn't make sense to him for her to keep running away when she knew there were people who could respect her situation.
Despite the fact that they rarely saw each other, Lithiril had apparently developed an attachment to Dimoriel. She seemed to find it her personal mission to make Dimoriel comfortable and happy, which included trying to get her out into society. More than once Lithiril tried to get Dimoriel to join her and some friends for tea, but she did little more than nod in acknowledgement at the other elves before slipping out of the house and disappearing into the woods.
Lithirin had also tried very hard to send some extra furniture and household items to the new house, since Dimoriel had so few belongings to bring with her. Dimoriel had protested a great deal, forcing Lithirin to enlist her husband's aid in sneaking things into the new house before Dimoriel arrived.
It wasn't until Dimoriel was to move into her new house that Legolas saw her again. He arrived at the new house to inspect it before Dimoriel arrived with Duarthon and Lithiril, who had insisted on coming to see what her husband had done with the new place. As he dismounted Caranghir, Legolas looked up at the building, feeling that it could have looked much better given more time, but that it seemed fitting for Dimoriel based on what she had previously used as a dwelling.
Entering the building, he almost tripped over a chair that was sitting next to the door. It appeared Lithiril had been particularly generous, and there was very little room to walk through the small house now that it had been filled with furniture. Legolas made an attempt to bring order to the chaos, but quickly gave up. Dimoriel would undoubtedly redesign the layout anyway. He decided instead to browse the rest of the house.
The structure had been built more vertically than horizontally, a cylindrical building built around a sturdy birch tree. There were three levels, the bottom of which had a fireplace, a stove, and an open floor plan, which would undoubtedly be used as a sitting room and kitchen, though Legolas doubted many elves would be invited to use it. The second floor was divided into two rooms, one bathroom and one room which could be used as either a bedroom or a study. The top was divided between a small enclosed room and an open porch which faced south. It was a nice, simple home, and Legolas felt confident Dimoriel would find it suitable.
As he walked back down the thin spiral staircase, he heard horses approaching. Stepping outside he smiled at his friends as they approached. Lady Dimoriel looked up at the house, her face as unreadable as ever.
"I just gave it one last inspection, Lady Dimoriel. I do believe it will satisfy your needs."
"We will see," she said, dismounting and brushing past him into the house. Legolas watched her examine the structure silently as Duarthon and Lithiril came up behind him.
"So what do you think?" Duarthon asked, eyes following Dimoriel as she started up the staircase. "I think it turned out quite well for only a week of work."
"You certainly outdid yourself, Duarthon," Legolas said with a smile, listening to Dimoriel's quiet footsteps on the floor above. "And you were particularly generous with the furniture, Lithiril."
"Well I didn't know it was so small," Lithiril said, slipping between the two elves and entering the house. "I will certainly take back anything she doesn't want. It is a bit cramped, isn't it? Not a lot of room for entertaining guests."
"Entertaining guests is not something I intend to do," Dimoriel said, returning from her examination of the upper floors. "Thank you, Duarthon, for your efforts. I believe I will find this quite comfortable for the time being. And thank you, Lithiril, for the furniture. I will return what I don't intend to use once I have figured out how I intend to organize things."
"Keep as much as you'd like, my dear," Lithiril said with a smile. "Do you want any help moving anything?"
"No, I can manage," Dimoriel said, scanning the room thoughtfully.
"Do you want me to stay and make dinner while you organize things? I'd be happy to assist you."
"Not necessary," Dimoriel responded patiently. Despite their limited interaction over the past week, Legolas got the impression Dimoriel liked Lithiril. She used the same tone when she spoke to the other elleth as she had used when speaking to Radagast.
"Are you sure? I am more than happy to help with anything you need."
"I am alright, but thank you. I just need to figure out what my plan shall be."
"Okay then. Don't forget about dinner tomorrow night though. I expect you to be there, whether your house is organized yet or not."
"I will be there," Dimoriel said, giving the other elleth a small smile. "Thank you, Lithiril." Satisfied, Lithiril followed her husband back out of the house, leaving Legolas alone with Dimoriel. He watched her silently for a moment, her eyes still skimming across the room in thought.
"Do you need me to get anything for you?" Legolas asked finally. "You obviously have more than enough furniture, but is there anything else you might want? Pots and pans? Books? Plants? Clothing? Nails perhaps so you can put up some shelves?"
"I believe Lithiril has provided me with dishes and pans. I have already started collecting plants, and I think I better do my own shopping for books and clothes. As for nails, I can pick some up when I go to the market for other supplies."
"Well if you need anything let me know. I will come see how you are doing in a few days."
"You really don't need to check up on me," Dimoriel said, watching him. "I am far enough away from people that I shouldn't be a threat to anyone."
"I am not worried about you being a threat, I just want to make sure you are settled in comfortably," Legolas said with a smile. "And I mean it. If you need anything at all, I will do my best to accommodate you."
"Thank you," Dimoriel said after a moment of silence. Legolas nodded and excused himself, leaving Dimoriel to her work.