In the Garden
Author's note: Legolas goes to one of Galadriel's gardens to meet Miredhel. This garden, however, does not contain Galadriel's mirror. That particular garden was on the southern side of the hill.
Chapter Five: In the Garden
A quiet ring of mallorn trees held the promise of Galadriel's garden. For countless generations of men, this garden had kept faith with the Golden Wood while the saplings grew solid and reached towards the firmament. An arch of latticework woven of many vines chased the edges of the trees, promising solitude. Many a skilled hand had labored there, nurturing the green and living. Many a love's promise had been murmured on the marvelous benches of carved white stone gleamed among beds of ivy and fragrant blossoms. The garden bathed in light streaming through the branches of the trees during the day, and in the evening the stars hung as jeweled beacons, burning above the sweeping forest.
Legolas thought the garden beautiful. He had been there before with Gimli. Dwarves care little for petals and leaves, preferring cold stone and metal, and Legolas had little time to explore the garden's subtleties. Once again, Legolas found that he could not enjoy the garden at his leisure. He must make amends with this unhappy maiden.
The garden was so quiet to his elf ears - for elves have a most uncanny sense of hearing - that he mistakenly thought the garden empty. The Lady Miredhel in her long white gown was caught between the fading dim and the sun's rays tossed to the garden by sweeping mallorn branches caught up in the forest breeze. She reclined on one of the benches, and her breath caught in her throat as the Prince entered the garden.
His sudden appearance vexed her. Legolas paused in the archway, tall and reserved, though his eyes spoke of concern as they inventoried the garden. She reminded herself that eyes could lie, and he had given her little reason to trust him.
Finally she broke the calm. "My lord, what brings you here?"
Her eyes pained him. As dark as the leaves of Mirkwood they were. He met her gaze for a moment, silently apologetic until she looked away.
"Did my brother send you here?"
"No, I came on my own errand," Legolas approached her. She straightened her posture and rested her slender hands in her lap, occasionally twisting a ring on her right hand.
"Do you come to tease me some more?" She asked evenly, her face expressionless. She twisted the ring again.
Legolas now stood directly beside the bench. "May I?" He gestured toward the seat. She nodded and slid down to the opposite end.
She stared into the garden, wishing he would leave, and told him, "I came here seeking solitude, my lord. I desire to be alone with my own thoughts."
Legolas nodded. He did understand and told her so at once, adding, "I do not wish to intrude." But rather than leaving, he placed his hands behind his head, letting his eyes scan the treetops. "I have something of great importance of which I must speak to you," he said. "so I will just wait, if my lady does not mind, of course." He stood up and moved to a different bench.
An hour passed, and now the sun had pushed the clouds toward the edges of the woods. Miredhel continued to sit on her bench, almost statue-like until an occasional movement of her hands betrayed her. Legolas was perfectly still. At first, he had blissfully surveyed the garden, admiring its many beauties, but now his eyes had an unfocused, far away look, as if he were reliving old memories and dreams.
Miredhel stole a glance at him. He seemed plenty relaxed. His hair strove with the sun for radiance, and his face was beyond fair. She envied him his serenity. Silently, she stood up. She would leave now while he slept. She crept past him, picking up the hem of her gown as to not rustle any leaves. She was almost to the archway when Legolas spoke.
"My lady, you are not leaving so soon?" His eyes were clear and bright.
"I thought you were asleep," she stammered. He had been awake the whole time. Miredhel felt like such the fool. "I did not wish to disturb you, but you are not, well, sleeping. Please, tell me of what you wished to speak." She crossed the garden again and returned to her seat.
"I came to apologize for any shame I might have felt by my words. I meant no dishonor, and I am sorry for any liberties I might have taken in our conversation. I did not mean to give offense." His voice and eyes seemed sincere.
Miredhel was not to be fooled. "My lord, what else could you have intended by serving such a falsehood in the guise of truth?"
"You are mistaken, Lady Miredhel. I have never lied to you or any lady for that matter." Legolas was adamant. "The story in all of its particulars is true. The blade does glow when enemies are near."
"Who was this friend with such a weapon?"
"One of the Fellowship," said Legolas softly and closed his eyes. He ran his hand across his forehead and through his hair.
"Does it pain you to speak of your friends?" asked Miredhel curiously. She had read grief in his eyes before he closed them.
"Only when I recall the great sacrifices that were made," Legolas replied and opened his eyes. The moment had passed. "Do you believe me, Lady Miredhel, when I said that I had never spoken an untruth to you?" He looked her fully in the eyes.
She felt petty and insignificant in his gaze. "Yes, I believe you, but I must equally beg forgiveness. I fear I misjudged you."
"All is forgotten," he said and smiled. He rose from the bench with the grace given his kind and made way to leave the garden. He stopped at the archway in afterthought. "Lady Miredhel, do you really intend to compete in the tournament?"
"Alas, I must. I already said so to Eledhel," she said and added, "I am not so ill at archery as my brother would make me out to be."
He laughed and then paused at the gate. An idea had just come to him, and he turned to ask mischievously, "Would you care to make it interesting, my lady?"
She rolled her eyes. "Such a suggestion is hardly fair when practically everyone believes that you will take first."
"Well…" Legolas thought a bit and then suggested, "If I manage to take first, then I win the wager. If you manage to place in front of Eledhel, then you win."
She steepled her fingers thoughtfully, frowned. "What if both events occur—you place first, and I beat Eledhel?"
"Then we tie, our bets against each other are null, and we shall split Lady Galadriel's prize evenly."
"What are our terms?" she asked.
"What do you want?" he replied, his eyes twinkling.
She bit her lip and hesitated. "If I win the wager, you must not allow my brother passage to Ithilien."
"We could not make such an agreement behind his back," countered Legolas. "It is unfair to him. Let it be something that is mine to give."
"What if he joined the wager and agreed to the condition?"
"Then I could not argue," agreed Legolas.
"Well, what would you have of me?" she asked demurely.
"A kiss!" The words flew out of his mouth before he could stop them. Ah, this was just another fine example of why his father hardly allowed him any diplomatic responsibilities!
But Miredhel only blushed and moved to join him under the archway. "Agreed," she said, and they shook hands. "Let this garden be our witness."
So they walked out of the garden together, each believing he or she had gotten the better end of the bargain.