LOTR 3: Celeb Amaurea: Silver Dawn

Erui Lú: First Time

"Celeb Amaurea" (Silver Dawn)

Chapter Two

"EruiLú" (First Time)

In that moment, time seemed a frozen thing, held in one moment. Mary's eyes slid closed, a slow warmth spreading through her center and out into her limbs, and where his hand rested on her neck the skin was shivering and hot. Gently he kissed her, though at first it had been harder. The kiss was tender and strong, and some subtle sweetness and spice was on her lips, at once familiar and foreign. Suddenly a million things now made sense to Mary, and her heart soared within her at the thought of it.

Pulling back Legolas' eyes were closed, his face barely hinting at his momentary loss of control as he attempted to collect himself. Then his eyes opened, and he had failed to return the mask to them, for they were now as deep as ocean pools, fathomless and full. There was love there, yet also there was remorse. "Forgive me." He said, dropping his hand from her neck as though it were a burning brand. A muscle worked in his jaw. "I should not– I should not have presumed–"

Mary's eyes flamed, but not with anger. By the Valar, she would dare to presume if he would not! Before Legolas could finish his words, Mary pulled on her reins, drawing Ædelstan to press against Arod, and she reached out boldly with her hand to catch the side of his face. The slight widening of his eyes at the forthright contact was not lost on her. "Hollen am." she said, her voice low and breathless. Shut up. Then she pulled him toward her, and leaned to him with an upraised face. Her kiss was gentle, but yet it was also hungry and full of fire. She had desired this for far too long: to have him return her affection. At first Legolas seemed frozen, inbred decorum and propriety reeling in shock, and were it anyone else he would have pushed them away and reminded them of their place. But she was not anyone else. And as far as Legolas was concerned, this was very much her place, and the ember in his chest flared and burned white hot in joyous exhilaration.

Soon, the urgency sated, the kiss became warm and slow. Yet the intensity and feeling was deeper than ever, savoring one another as they explored the sweetness and spice and taste.

The horses stood still beneath them, blinking patiently in the sunlight, sometimes giving a quiet gust of air as they waited. Then Mary placed her hand, small and warm, on his chest, and her lips pulled from his, and her head lowered so that her hair brushed against his nose and chin. He could not see, but her eyes were tightly shut as tears rose up, and she swallowed around a hard and painful tightness in her throat. "It's not fair." She whispered when she felt she could speak.

Legolas' hand held the back of her head, his fingers weaving themselves within her dark tresses. "What is, meld er?" he asked, his voice quiet.

Mary laughed then, but it was amidst tears as they spilled to her cheeks. "This." She said. "I have loved you for so long," she breathed. "Even before I met you I loved you most, of all in the Fellowship, and when I met you– I only loved you more." Her fingers fisted in the front of his shirt. "And it can't be."

She pulled back as Legolas' fingers freed themselves from her hair, and found his gaze on her marked by a frown. "Why?" he demanded, his eyes narrowed.

"You're a prince! An elven prince!" Mary exclaimed, her dark eyes wide with distress and amazement that he did not understand the situation. "I am nothing. I have nothing. I am the epitome of nothing– I make a beggar look rich! Even my clothes are borrowed. If you were to look up the word 'nothing' in a dictionary, it would say 'see Mary, page eighty-two.'"

Legolas frowned at the unfamiliar reference. "Aragorn also had nothing," he pointed out. "Yet look now at where fate has led him."

"Aragorn was also the heir to the throne." Mary responded shortly, taking up her reins as Ædelstan stirred beneath her, snorting and striking at the dirt with his hoof. "I have no such luck. I'm not even of noble birth. Your father would never allow it, much less your people."

Legolas sat still upon Arod, ignoring the horse– who had begun to toss his head, disturbed by the other horse's agitation. "I thought you knew little about the ways of the elves."

"Where I come from, in the medieval society, it was against the rules for anyone of noble blood– much less royal– to marry a commoner."

Legolas glanced to the side with a tolerant sigh. "Then I believe we are safe," he said, looking back at her with a tender and amused eye. "For you are anything but common, Mary."

She gave a disbelieving laugh, looking to the ground, but then she glanced at him again– and in her look was doubt. "Really?"

Turning Arod to draw them close together once more, Legolas looked into her eyes. "You can speak more than one language– the language of the elves, no less." He explained softly. "You can read and write. You are well versed in the history and knowledge of your world and Middle Earth. You can play stringed instruments–"

"Violins," Mary whispered.

"–as well as the greatest musician in any land." Legolas continued. "You are an able and skilled warrior, and able to dance and sing, and you have the bearing of a lady and know the manners of the court– which no commoner would know. And your knowledge of healing surpasses even the best physician."

"Liar."

Legolas knew she was thinking of Aragorn. "He only surpasses you in his knowledge of herbs," he said close to her, brushing her cheek with the back of his fingers. "And that only because he has lived here. You will soon know as much."

Mary was quiet, eyes opening as his fingers left her skin. "But all of that is common knowledge where I come from." She pointed out slowly, though she looked up at him with hope.

"But not here." Legolas said. He was unsure of whether he was growing amused or exasperated with her doubt of her self-worth. "Do you honestly believe that anyone could think you were a commoner?" His hands reached out to cup her face, and his thumbs gently brushed away the dried salt from her cheeks. "Besides," he said, and his smile was warm. "You are a prophetess, to be honored and revered above all others." He set a silencing finger to her lips as she started to protest. "You are. For what else is a prophet, but one who speaks truth of what is to come? It matters not how the knowledge is gained, only that you have it." He leaned forward, and their foreheads touched. "Who else could be more worthy than you?" he whispered.

A smile played now upon her lips, and all doubt had washed from her eyes as his words reassured her. Then her brows pulled together in a slight frown as a thought occurred to her. "What of your father? Will he see as you do?"

Legolas smiled. "I am a prince." He said. "And soon shall move from my father's halls to Ithilien. If he does not approve, what can he do?" His eyes glinted with a teasing light. "And since when has the opinion of others stopped you from doing as you wish?"

Mary smiled. Her eyes looked on him with all the luminosity of the moon, and all the warmth of the sun, and as the ember burned once more in his chest Legolas wondered how he had ever lived without it.

Gimli paused his pacing to peer over the wall, and seeing nothing– though in the evening shadows it was hard to see anything on the plain– he huffed and resumed his pacing. Gandalf stood still and quiet, his eyes like black coals beneath his bushy brows, and absently blew smoke rings from his pipe. The hobbits sat in a circle, eating a snack they had brought with them of apples and cheese and bread with honey, and as they ate they played a game of riddles. After a long while Aragorn joined them, and stood beside Gandalf, his face grave.

"Has there been any sign of them yet?" he asked.

Gandalf shook his head. "No." he said, releasing another smoke ring.

"What if something has happened?" Gimli exclaimed, pulling at his beard as he paced. "That crazy elf left without a single thing to defend himself with!"

"He was going to find one whom he loved," Aragorn said. "Not to fight."

Gimli huffed. "Says you, my liege." He muttered. "But he may very well find both, and a fight with Mary is no small adventure."

Gandalf frowned, his expression thoughtful. "Perhaps he should have taken his weapons." He said quietly to Aragorn.

A smile played at the king's mouth.

Suddenly the dwarf gave a roar. "There! Curse this darkness– they are almost to the gate!" Turning to the hobbits Gimli disrupted their game and began to herd them to the stairs. "Hurry! We have just time enough to greet them when they enter!"

Gandalf and Aragorn followed as the group made their way quickly and with much clatter and noise and shouting back and forth down from the wall and through city, until they reached at last the city gates. Just as they approached a horn sounded, and two riders upon a white horse– with a dark horse following– entered the city. Mary sat before Legolas on Arod, his arms close around her, and as they rode through the gates the elf prince turned his face against her dark hair to kiss her temple, his elven eyes closed. Mary's face was fair, and her smile content. When her eyes fell upon the companions, they were dark and sparkling, and a blush was upon her cheeks.

"Greetings, friends, my lords." She said, brushing a stray strand of dark hair from her face.

"Greetings." Gandalf answered, and there was amusement in his voice. "I take it all has been mended?"

Mary blushed, and a smile touched Legolas's lips. "Indeed." Legolas said, and his fair eyes glowed.

"That is good to hear." Aragorn said. His relief at their safe arrival was masked by his knowing and joyful gaze. "Congratulations, my friends."

Frodo laughed, and a smile broke on Sam's face while Merry gave a crowing cheer. Pippin glanced around, his expression excited but unsure. "What is going on?" he asked. Then his eyes widened. "Are they finally getting together?" he asked his cousins.

"Ah!" Gimli clapped his large hands together, his eyes bright with satisfaction. "It's about time, lad. And you, My Lady." He said, and laughed. "Ha ha!"

"Another wedding?" Pippin bounced, his eyes wide with excitement. "Merry! They're getting married!"

Legolas wandered the gardens of the palace, his bright eyes upturned to gaze at the stars above, their light pure and white in the endless blackness of the sky. Night birds sang softly to one another in the branches of the trees, and a fountain made gentle, crystalline music. Pausing a moment to close his eyes and breathe in the sweetness of the cool air, a quiet note reached his ears, rising and falling in a smooth melody. Listening closely he smiled, recognizing it, and followed the sound.

"We're both looking for something

We've been afraid to find.

It's easier to be broken,

It's easier to hide."

The stone walls rose up on either side as he left the garden, towering over him with ivy and vines spilling from their tops and hanging down in green showers, or crawling across the stones in a trailing pattern as they sought to reach the ground.

"I'm feeling alive all over again

As deep as the sky under my skin;

Like being in love, she said, for the first time.

Maybe I'm wrong, I'm feeling right

where I belong with you tonight,

Like being in love to feel for the first time."

The stone passage opened up into a small courtyard with a high wall and a stone archway. Under this Legolas passed, and found himself in the main courtyard before the palace. The White Tree sapling stood tall and straight in the center, it's leaves dappled with shadow and with silver light, its pale snow-white flowers luminescent in the moonlight.

"The world that I see inside you

Waiting to come to life;

Waking me up to dreaming,

Reality in your eyes.

Looking at you, holding my breath;

For once in my life I'm scared to death.

I'm taking a chance letting you inside."

The sweet melody, swaying with strength and deep feeling, hung on the cool breeze that blew through the courtyard and across his face, brushing his cheek with its words like a soft caress. Legolas stepped out into the moonlight, his soft grey boots making no sound on the cobbled ground, still following the song.

"I'm feeling alive all over again

As deep as the sky under my skin;

Like being in love, she said, for the first time.

Maybe I'm wrong, I'm feeling right

where I belong with you tonight,

Like being in love to feel for the first time."

Her voice dropped to a hush, her dark eyes staring out across the shadowed plains and the mist that shrouded them in sleep.

"Like being in love to feel for the first time." Legolas sang quietly, approaching the maiden from behind. He saw a smile grace her face, the blue of her dress rippling in the breeze, and then she turned from leaning on the wall to look at him.

"Veduí, Héri Mary." He said, smiling. Greetings, Lady Mary.

"Veduí, Haryon Legolas." Greetings, Prince Legolas.

"A manen ceri-le bein hi dú?" he asked. And how do you fair this night?

"Man. A le?" Good. And you?

"Man." He answered. Then he smiled. "Lothron-n-lá morning man." Good. Maybe more than good.

Her smile was instant, and Legolas felt the ember in his chest glow with a gentle warmth. Reaching out he touched the dark hair that fell over her shoulder, his fingers feeling every strand and memorizing their touch and their smoothness, like silken threads.

"Aragorn says that Éomer will be arriving in a few days."

Mary nodded. "To bear Théoden to Rohan."

Legolas tipped his chin, and then his clear eyes roved over her face, taking in everything about her, as though he were seeing her for the first time. Her lips parted as he gazed at her, and he could see her breath quicken ever so slightly.

Breaking the moment, Legolas pulled his hand back, and joined her at the wall with his hands braced upon the top. For a moment they stood in relaxed silence, enjoying each other's company. Then suddenly she spoke, her voice hesitant.

"When you first heard the cry of the gulls," she said, staring out across the plains. "Did it draw you in– uncontrollably?"

Legolas glanced at her, and saw the uncertainty in her face. "Almost." He admitted. "But not entirely."

Her lips pressed together, her brows furrowing between her eyes. "Then– why did it for me?"

Legolas thought for a moment. "Perhaps because you are not of elven blood." He said slowly.

She glanced at him.

"I have not always felt the call of the sea, yet there has always been a seed of it in my heart." He said, attempting to explain even as he tried to understand it himself. "It is something that every elf is born with. So while the longing is very great when we first hear the cry of the gull, we are yet able to withstand those first pains. As a mortal, one who has never experienced such a thing and never expected to…"

Mary nodded. "That makes sense." She said, almost to herself.

Legolas looked at her, and his eyes were searching. "Do you feel it now?"

Mary sighed, yet her face was relaxed, her eyes turning to look towards the Anduin. "Yes." She said. "The feeling was stronger as I rode along the river. But I know it now. Like a hunger that you put in the back of your mind until you can finally eat." She looked at him and smiled. "I won't go wandering out into the middle of the river again. I promise."

He returned her smile, but his eyes darkened slightly with the memory of her walking into the rushing water, almost being swept away as the current rose up to claim her. He closed his eyes briefly, pushing the thought away, and brought himself back to the present moment, reminding himself that she was here, with him. When he looked at her again she was watching him tenderly, a smile in her eyes. Reaching up he brushed his thumb against her cheek. "Im mel-le." he whispered. I love you.

Her lips parted, and her eyes suddenly shone very bright. Blinking rapidly, the corners of her mouth rose. "Inye mel-le, Legolas. Sie meld." I also love you, Legolas. So dearly.

Legolas smiled then, one of his rare, full smiles that spread across his face and lit his eyes like the sun, and he leaned down, holding her face in his hands, and kissed her.

In three days, as Aragorn had said, Éomer of Rohan came riding to the City, and with him came an éored of the fairest knights of the Mark. He was welcomed; and when they sat all at table in the Great Hall of Feasts, he beheld the beauty of the elven queen and the Lady of Lórien and was filled with great wonder. And before he went to his rest he sent for Gimli the dwarf.

"Gimli Glóin's son," he said, standing tall before him. "Have you your axe ready?"

Gimli looked at him, and his eyes narrowed ever so slightly. "Nay, lord, but I can speedily fetch it if there be need."

"You shall judge," Éomer answered. "For there are certain rash words concerning the Lady in the Golden Wood that lie still between us. And now I have seen her with my eyes."

Understanding lit Gimli's gaze, and he straightened, squaring his shoulders proudly. "Well, lord." He said. "And what say you now?"

"Alas! I will not say that she is the fairest lady that lives."

Gimli's eyes darkened. "Then I must go for my axe."

"But first I will plead this excuse," Éomer said, raising his hand. "Had I seen her in other company, I would have said all that you could wish. But now I will put Queen Arwen Evenstar first, and I am ready to do battle on my own part with any who deny me." He paused. "Shall I call for my sword?"

Legolas, who had been standing not too far off, turned when he heard those words, yet as he made to cross the room and intervene Mary laid a gentle hand on his arm. "Darth-a ethiri." she whispered. Wait and watch.

Gimli smiled at Éomer's words, and he bowed low. "Nay, you are excused for my part, lord. You have chosen the Evening; but my love is given to the Morning."

When at length it came time to leave, the knights of Rohan gathered with their captain, and with them went the Fellowship and Queen Arwen, and Celeborn and Galadriel and their company, and Elrond and his company, and Faramir and his men, and many captains and knights of Gondor, and together the great host bore Théoden from the City in silence and in reverence. Merry, being Théoden's esquire, sat upon the wain where the king rested, and he bore the king's weapons and arms.

As they traveled, Mary and Legolas rode side by side on Arod and Ædelstan, with Gimli riding behind the elf, and they spoke of many things and at length. On the third day of their journey Legolas rode ahead to speak and visit with Aragorn and his queen, and Mary rode alone and silent, lost to her own thoughts, her cloak wrapped close around her shoulders and covering her dark dress.

"It is well, to see such joy upon the face of one usually so grave."

Mary started at Gandalf's voice, and turned to see him riding beside her on Shadowfax. Looking ahead she saw Legolas, with Gimli behind, speaking with Aragorn, and there was laughter on his fair face as the dwarf's voice rose in protest, and the king laughed too. She smiled. "Yes, it is."

Gandalf looked ahead. "Oh. Yes. Legolas was always such a serious elf, less prone to the usual carefree nature of his people." His grey eyes turned to her. "But I was speaking of you."

Mary looked at him in surprise, then she dropped her gaze and she laughed, conceding his point.

"I have meant to speak with you for quite a while now." The wizard said. "It is a shame it has taken till now to find the time."

"Yes. Well," Mary tipped her head and shrugged. "Much has happened of late."

"Indeed it has." Gandalf agreed. "I am most curious. I have heard about your arrival many times over from our friends, yet there is much I still wish to know, and much I wish to ask. I wonder at your life before. What differences between your culture and here there might be."

Mary's eyes widened slightly, and her mouth opened to speak, but she could find no words, and she laughed at herself. "There is so much," she said. "I do not know where to begin."

Gandalf smiled. So he proceeded to ask her many things, and she answered them as best she could, and in this way another three days passed. She spoke of the many machines of her world, and of electricity, and of water systems and ships and airplanes and of cars. She spoke of the many different businesses and of politics and the history of her world– the wars and the times of peace and the creation of a great new country where people were free to live as they chose, and of the good things and the bad things of such a place. Then they spoke of her own life, and she told of her parents' death, and of the many homes she lived in as she grew up, and how the writings of Tolkien gave to her a place to run to where she could be safe.

"It is not that my life was hard, or the people who raised me unkind." She said quietly. "But it is hard to be a child with no father or mother, and even harder to wait and hope that someday, someone might want you for their own, only to realize that no one does. I found solace in reading of people who were connected by so great a bond of friendship that not even death could break it."

Gandalf was silent, his grey eyes piercing under his wild brows as he studied her.

She laughed, then. "It's almost as though fate willed it, isn't it? As though fate made it so that the one person to fall into this world would leave nothing of value behind, would not have loved ones who would grieve."

"Ah. That is one last question I wish to ask of you, my lady." Gandalf said, and his voice was quiet and grave, and though his eyes were searching they were kind. "Now that the war is over and won, and all is set right, do you not wish to return to your home? There are not the dangers there that there are here, it seems, and there is much there to make life as comfortable as can be." His grey eyes held her. "So I ask, now, at the end of all things, do you not wish to return?"

Mary at first said nothing, gazing into his eyes for long moments, before looking down to study her hands in quiet thought. Then a smile, slow and sure, spread across her face, and when she looked up again, there was no doubt in her countenance. "No. Not even if there is a way." she said.

"And why is that?"

Mary looked ahead, and as her gaze fell on Legolas her eyes brightened, and love shone in them for all to see. "Because compared to what I have here," she said. "There I have nothing. The epitome of nothing." And then she laughed as though at some private jest, and it seemed to Gandalf that Legolas as he rode ahead seemed to laugh as well, as though he had heard her words and shared in the jest.

Then Gandalf smiled, and he nodded in satisfaction. "That is good." He said, and then his eyes twinkled merrily, for he had a jest of his own.

It was on the fifteenth day of their journey that they finally arrived at Edoras in Rohan, and three days later they laid Théoden to rest beneath a mound of green grass and white evermind, together with his weapons and many other things that were dear to him in life, and then the Riders of the King's House rode round the mound on white horses, and sang a song of remembrance, and it moved even those who could not understand the tongue of Rohan.

At the feast that night was Éowyn, white and golden, and then it was announced by Éomer her brother of her betrothal to Faramir, and the steward and the lady stood before all with clasped hands, and there was a great cheer, and all drank and were glad.

As the minstrels sang and the men drank and danced, Mary stood to one side and watched it all with a smile, yet her eyes were sad, for she still felt grief over Théoden's death. Then she saw Éowyn coming towards her, dressed all in white with her hair falling golden down her back, and in her hands she held a great cup with wine. A small smile graced her fair features, but it trembled, and in her eyes was some emotion Mary could not read.

Reaching her, Éowyn held forth the great golden cup, and offered it to her. "Westu, Mary, hál." She said, and in her voice was a hint of some small hope. Be thou, Mary, well.

Mary smiled at her, and took the cup from her hands, and held it up. "Westu, Éowyn, hál." She said in kind, and lifting the cup she drank.

As she lowered the cup and Éowyn accepted it, the lady looked upon Mary with wide and fearful eyes. "I have done you great injustice and harm." She said.

Mary shook her head. "No…"

"Indeed, I have." Éowyn said, and nodded. "My words to you were harsh and meant to wound. And I am shamed. The blame for my uncle's death is not yours, but belongs to the dwimmerlaik of Sauron. You have done much for my people and my kin, and I… I would ask your pardon, Lady Mary, and your forgiveness."

Tears filled Mary's eyes then, but she smiled and clasped Éowyn's hands which were upon the cup. "And I give it." She said. "At that time there was nothing but shadow and darkness, and the grief and loss of loved ones. Do not feel shame, Éowyn. It is forgotten."

Then Éowyn smiled as tears fell from her eyes also, and it seemed that the last shadow left her face, and all was as clear and bright as morning. "Now," she said. "Will you grace our halls once more, as my uncle once asked of you, and play for us?"

So Mary took up a fiddle, and all fell silent and waited, and the song she played upon its strings reached into their hearts and spoke of the wind across the plains and the strength and speed of the stallions that rode upon them, and of the sun rising great and golden in the eastern sky. And some were silent and grave, and some smiled, and some dreamt, and others wept.

When at last the long feast was over, those who were to go took leave of Éomer, who now was King. Aragorn and his knights, and the people of Lórien and of Rivendell, made ready to ride; but Faramir remained at Edoras, and Arwen remained also, and she said farewell to her brethren. None saw her last meeting with her father, Elrond, for they went up into the hills and there spoke long together, and bitter was their parting that should endure beyond the ends of the world.

At long last the company that set out arrived at Helm's Deep, and as they rested there Legolas kept his promise to Gimli and went with him to the Glittering Caves; and when they returned he was silent, and would say only that Gimli alone could find fit words to speak of them.

From there they journeyed to Isengard, and saw the beauty that was the garden Treebeard had planted there in place of all else, and there grew there orchards and trees and a stream ran through it. And after Gandalf had spoken long with Treebeard it was time for the company to part, all save Legolas and Gimli, who traveled through Fangorn Forest. And Mary went with them, and there learned much of the way of the elves and the trees and the relationship between them.

Gimli sat on Arod, and beside him on Ædelstan was Mary. Both waited patiently, gazing up into the trees, whose heavy branches and dark boughs hung low, and wove together like the woven knots carved upon the doorframes of the great hall in Edoras. They had been on their way to the edge of the forest, to leave and continue on to Mirkwood, when suddenly Legolas had pulled short and flung his gaze to the leaves above, as though a sudden noise had sounded in his ears, and then he had stood upon Arod's back and leapt into the branches and disappeared from view. Then there had been a deep groaning through the trees, heavy and rumbling and quiet like the purr of a cat. That had been an hour ago.

Gimli gave a heavy sigh. "Elves."

Mary just laughed.

There was silence for a moment more. "From here we shall travel on to Mirkwood, I presume?"

Mary's eyes stared up at the dark canopy above. "I do not know." She did not speak for a moment. "I am nervous about meeting his father, King Thranduil." She admitted.

Gimli glanced at her in surprise. "Why, Mary?"

Mary's gaze went to him, and she shrugged. "I worry I will not seem worthy to him, to marry his son." She paused. "I wish to make Legolas proud."

Gimli looked at her, and his eyes were kind. "You will, lass." He said, and his tone was sure. "You will. There is not a bone in your body that is not noble and full of grace. Any king would be a fool to refuse you as a wife for his son."

Mary flushed, her eyes grateful. "Thank you, Gimli."

He smiled. "You're welcome, Mary." Then he looked up and studied the trees in consternation. "Now where is that blasted elf?"

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