By Starlight

To the bottle I go!

The golden hall was a pleasant sight after their visit to Isengard, short as it was, and they were greeted warmly by the people who had travelled directly back to Edoras after the battle at Help’s Deep. It seemed that there was going to be celebrations of their victory. The entire city seemed to be teaming with life as people bustled around preparing for a feast or a performance or whatever else was involved in Rohirrim celebrations. Banners were put up around the walls, where they had once fallen free, bringing with them a sense of pride within the city.

Elle took Eterien to the stables, where she came upon Brytta who offered to see to her horse, with a kind smile she agreed and made her way to Meduseld.

The Golden Hall was just as busy as the rest of the city and had Éowyn not happened by, Elle was sure she would have been trampled. She was led away from the madness and taken to a quiet room that was far grander than the chamber that she and her friends had been assigned. The White Lady offered Elle a seat that she gladly took, riding on horseback all day had made her legs sore and stiff, and after she had stoked the once dwindling fire Éowyn took a seat beside her.

“It was very brave of you to fight at Helm’s Deep.” Éowyn said with a mix of politeness, reverence and possibly some jealousy.

“Had they been able I’m sure I would not have been the only woman out there.” Elle replied knowing the woman’s desire for honour and glory. “Sometimes it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”

“But to have defeated a Nazgûl’s steed singlehandedly…”

“I did not do that on my own, had it not been for the archers and Haleth I would have died. A very horrible, bloody, painful death.”

“That may be, but few have survived a hell-hawk’s attack, fewer still have slain them.”

“Well, erm, by the time this war is done I’m sure I will not be the only one to have killed one of those smelly things.” Before Éowyn could say anything else Elle stood and looked over at the door. “So, we should probably get going. Don’t want to be late for the party.” She said knowing that if they stayed on that conversational path she would have slipped, saying something about Éowyn or her battles. The blonde woman stood and was about to walk towards the door when she stopped and looked over at Elle.

“Do you not wish to change before the celebrations?” She asked looking down at her pretty gown and then over at Elle’s slightly grubby elven tunic and breeches.

“I kinda left all my pretty dresses in Rivendall and unless they deliver I doubt I’ll have one in time.” Elle shrugged no longer bothered about her clothing after wearing variations of the same outfit for four months.

“Come. We look to be of a similar size, though you are taller, I may have something that will fit.” She smiled before walking over to her wooden carved wardrobe and pulling open the doors. There were many dresses within, some practical and some ridiculously over complicated. It was of the latter which Éowyn plucked the first dress and Elle gave a slightly intimidated sigh. “I know they are not of elven make but I hope you will find it suitable.”

“No, I mean yes, I mean… I appreciate the gesture but maybe something simpler.” Elle said as gently as possible, she didn’t want to offend but she really didn’t want to wear the monstrosity of a dress.

“Very well, what of this one?” she asked pulling out a much simpler green velvet gown with golden embroidery and a simple belt of silver knots. The enthused smile that crept across Elle’s face seemed to speak for itself as did Éowyn’s answering smile.

Dressed and ready to go the women made their way down into the main hall where people were beginning to gather for the King’s speech. Éowyn excused herself as she went to attend to her duties as hostess and Elle found herself looking for a familiar face. In a sea of blondes it felt hopeless to look for Legolas, so instead she focused on finding Aragorn or Gimli. The ones she came across however were two hobbits happily sat on a table top each with an oversized mug of ale in their hands.

“Ho! Ho! Ho! To the bottle I go,

To heal my heart and drown my woe.

Rain my fall and wind may blow,

And many miles be still to go,

But under a tall tree I will lie,

And let the clouds go sailing by.”

They sang slightly out of tune to each other. The sight was heartening and so Elle decided to sit with them for the time being as more and more people began to crowd the hall. When she sat upon the bench beside Pippin he handed her a frothing mug of ale, she gave him an appreciative smile before looking down at the liquid. Feeling that he had included Elle, Pippin return to singing with Merry while Elle made sure they weren’t looking before she handed the ale to the old man sat on the other side of her. He gave her a mostly toothless grin before downing the drink with gusto. Elle made a mental note to find the Middle Earth equivalent of a toothbrush and quickly.

After a few minutes the hall was silenced as Théoden stood before his throne looking regally at his people. She liked Rohan, what other place could claim to invite all its citizens to the king’s hall for a feast, no matter their station. Éowyn was stood before him offering some kind of goblet or chalice, it was difficult to tell from where she was sat, which he took and then raised to his people as Éowyn moved to his side.

“Tonight we remember those who gave their blood to defend this country. Hail the victorious dead!” Théoden toasted in remembrance for his people, to which the crowd responded with ‘hail’ before dinking deep from their flagons or mugs. Elle looked around quickly picking up a pewter goblet with what she assumed was wine and took a sip out of respect. She was quite surprised to find that the wine was far less abominable than the ale.

With the formality done with, the room settled into a roar of voices all trying to be heard over the din, wine and ale flowed freely and hot steaming roasted and salted meats were placed upon various tables. Elle couldn’t help but laugh as she saw the hobbits faces light up when the trays of food were placed before them. They stuffed their mouths so quickly they looked like hamsters. She stayed with them for a while enjoying their songs and their dancing before she finally decided to go socialise with others she knew.

A particularly loud ruckus caught her attention, a group of men were circled around a table making it difficult to see what was happening but one of them leant over to talk to someone and she saw a drinking contest well underway between Legolas and Gimli. More laughter bubbled forth as she watched them, causing Legolas to glance over at the sound of her laughter before he placed another mug down triumphantly before Gimli slammed down his own empty mug. Both were handed refilled drink starting the process over again. Seeing as they were clearly busy with their competition Elle turned to see if she could find Aragorn, Éowyn or Gandalf but instead was confronted with Brytta who held up a goblet of wine towards her.

“Westu Hlæfdige hál.” The boy, no older than seventeen, said in Rohirric looking up at her hopefully. For a moment she stared at him blankly. What on earth did he just say? The damn pendant works for Elvish but not Rohirric? That was just annoying. But he continued to look up at her hopefully, so gently she took the goblet and had a small sip. He looked thrilled at her action making her weary of what she may have unintentionally done.

“So, erm, thanks for the wine. See ya.” She said quickly making a beeline for the drinking contest. Elle slipped in next to Legolas and placed the goblet down on the table behind before turning back pretending nothing had happened.

“What was that about?” Legolas asked as he placed an empty drink down and reached for another.

“Honestly, I’m not entirely sure.” She admitted while shrugging her shoulders. Then loud slurping caused her to look down at Gimli who was sat on the opposite side of the table, almost hidden behind his pile of discarded mugs, and seemed to be rather unsteady. Though he had clearly drunk more than Legolas his fast pace had obviously quickened his inebriation.

“Here. Here.” Gimli slurred as he gestured for Éomer to hand him another ale. “It’s the Dwarves that go swimming, with little hairy women.” He garbled excitedly before belching loudly. Though it was not the foulest thing she had smelt whilst being in Middle Earth it was defiantly not pleasant, causing her to her wrinkle nose and angled her head away for a few moments. Elle noticed Éomer also had a brief look of disgust at the dwarf.

“I feel something, a slight tingle in my fingers, I think it’s affecting me.” Legolas said curiously rubbing his fingers together.

‘Clearly you have never played pub golf.’ Elle thought with a slight laugh, his wonder at being slightly tipsy, if he was even that far gone, was adorable.

“What did I say? He can’t hold his liquor…” Gimli slurred almost unintelligibly before his eyes crossed and he fell backwards onto the floor.

“Game over.” The princeling smiled triumphantly at Elle.

“Yeah, great… Now we have to get an unconscious dwarf to his bed.” She said not looking forward to the thought.

“Leave him where he lies. The dwarf probably thinks the stone is more comfortable than the bed anyway.” Éomer said before wandering way with the rest of the men that had been watching the competition like an experiment. It still felt too early to retire. Gently Elle intertwined her fingers with Legolas’ causing him to glance down at her fondly.

“What should we do now?” She asked looking around for prospective activities, the hobbits were still singing and dancing, Gimli was sound asleep and she caught sight of Gandalf with Aragorn watching the proceedings.

“Walk with me?” He asked before she nodded and lead her outside. It was pleasantly cool, the sound from the mead hall was muffled and the sky was clear, allowing the stars to shimmer with all their might. The two walked through the deserted dirt track streets simply enjoying the others company in a comfortable silence with only the sound of running water around them. He then led them from the path so that they could sit on an outcropping of rock, a little ways down the slope, so that they could look over most of the city from their perch. Carefully Elle gathered her skirts, not wanting to ruin Éowyn’s dress, and sat down. When Legolas sat beside her she reached out to entwine their fingers but he moved his hand. The gesture, seemingly small, stung.

“As always with you, events unfold too quickly, leaving little time to stop and think.” He said slowly with his cobalt eyes staring out into the dark planes that surrounded Edoras.

“You mean what happened at Helm’s Deep… you think it was a mistake.” Elle said slowly leaving a horrid sour taste on her tongue. Sharply his gaze locked with hers.

“No. But I have seen how often you do things without thought for consequence. I did not want any misunderstandings between us.” He said searching her eyes for something.

“If I thought it was a mistake I would have run. Do you see me running?” she slowly reached for his hand again, this time holding it gently within hers. “I don’t want to run from you Legolas.”

“You need never run again.” He said softly caressing her cheek.

“Until we’re attacked by the Big Bad again.” She laughed eliciting a chuckle from him.

“Until then. Melamin.” He smiled as the endearment flowed from his lips and for the first time since she had embodied Eircassiel, Elle blushed.

“I… think I might love you too…” She said feeling light as the words left her and seeing his eyes light up before he stole a kiss from her.

Westu Hlæfdige hál – Be thou well, Lady. (I think)

Melamin – My love.

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