Portals and Pointy Ears
DISCLAIMER: Goes for every chapter- Joss Whedon owns Dawn and all things from Buffy, and JRR Tolkein owns everything Middle-Earth-ish. Also references to works owned by Robert Frost and Aerosmith in later chapters.
Rating is at 18, for some violence, swearing and sex scenes, but it's all fairly tame, I think.
Buffy and Dawn stood atop the tower, watching the walls between realities rip. They were both crying silently.
Dawn softly spoke. “I understand so clearly now.”
Buffy looked at her, sniffling. “What?”
“That it had to come to this- it’s supposed to end this way.”
“What way? The end of the world!?” Buffy burst out.
Dawn’s voice was still calm and soft, her eyes staring straight ahead. “No. Not the end of the world.”
It suddenly dawned on the twenty-four year old what her younger sister was saying. “Dawny, no! I won’t let you!”
Finally Dawn turned to Buffy. “This is the way it was meant to be.” Buffy was shaking her head, but Dawn continued anyway. “I don’t belong here, Buffy. I never belonged, even when you made me feel like I did. But I have to go now. I’ll miss you, and I will always love you. Thank you for being my sister. But we both have our own paths to take now. You’ll find your way, and so will I. Goodbye, Buffy.”
With a final kiss to her sister’s cheek, Dawn turned and took a running dive from the tower’s platform.
“Dawny,” Buffy choked out in a whisper before crumpling in a heap, her body wracked with sobs.
Dawn closed her eyes. The air around her felt warm, she could feel the crackling of the portal.
Suddenly, the air was crisp and cool. She hit a surface hard, and felt no more.
* * * * *
“Aragorn!” Boromir called as, with Frodo struggling wildly in his arms, he made his way towards the exit of Moria. Refocusing himself, Aragorn followed, dodging Orc arrows as he went.
Once the Fellowship reached the open sky, they halted on the snow dusted rocks, overcome with grief.
The Hobbits were in tears, Boromir was straining with all his might to stop Gimli from charging back into the certain death of the mines. Legolas wandered in a daze, bewildered by Gandalf’s fall. Suddenly, his sharp eye caught a flash of purple against the deep grey of rock, and he went to investigate. What he saw when he looked down only added to his confusion.
There, crumpled on the unforgiving ground, was a very pretty young woman in a strange purple dress, trimmed with gold and black. She was unconscious, but breathing, and her face was an alarmingly pale shade. Legolas noticed a gash on her forehead, probably from where she had hit the rock and rolled over.
Furthermore, there were multiple tears in her dress, slashed with a knife that had slit the delicate skin below. She was covered in dried blood.
Aragorn, like the others, had not noticed the girl. He stood nearby, cleaning the Orc blood from his sword with deliberate strokes.
“Aragorn,” Legolas quietly called him over.
Aragorn came to stare at the girl. He shot his Elven friend a bewildered look.
“She yet lives. Though I don’t know how,” the Elf said.
The Ranger noted the gash on her face. “By the wound on her face, I’d say that she fell. But from where?” he asked, looking into the empty sky.
Legolas nodded his agreement. “Yes, but what do you make of these other cuts?”
By now the rest of the Fellowship had come to investigate. They crowded around the unconscious form. Legolas knelt and held the backs of his fingers to her cheek.
“She is icy cold!” he exclaimed in a worried tone. He was just about to remove his cloak and cover her over when she began to stir. They all started in surprise.
* * * * *
Dawn shifted uncomfortably and groaned. She wasn’t sure where she was, or what was happening, but she thought she’d just felt a hand on her face. She tried to think, but it hurt too much.
She felt a heavy lump rising in her throat and managed to somehow roll to her side before she was overcome with a fit of coughing. Dawn could feel the blood spewing from her mouth, and became dimly aware of the gasps of horror surrounding her.
Then a hand was on her shoulder, a cloth over her mouth to wipe away the blood.
“My Lady?” a gentle voice whispered.
Dawn forced her eyes to open. The glare of the sun was too much for her and she snapped her eyes closed with a hoarse cry.
She didn’t protest as she was pulled into a sitting position, a flask put to her lips. She swallowed what water she could, and this time tried a little more successfully to open her eyes.
As Dawn felt a little strength returning to her, she found herself staring at eight of the strangest men she’d ever laid eyes on, even after all her years on the Hellmouth. She tried to speak, but only managed to make a few surprised sounds.
The one holding onto her, with the long blond hair, dark blue eyes and pointy ears, shushed her. “Easy, my Lady. You have taken grievous injury and must rest.”
“Legolas, we must move on. By nightfall this place will be swarming with Orcs,” one of the men reminded him.
At last Dawn spoke. She had been staring at Legolas. “Your ears are pointy,” she blurted.
The Hobbits stifled giggles and Legolas looked at her, his expression surprised but his eyes twinkling with amusement.
“I am an Elf, my Lady.”
In her shock, Dawn began to cough violently once more. Legolas hurried to hold the cloth to her mouth again. When she was quiet, and had taken another sip of water, he spoke again.
“I am Legolas, of the Woodland realm,” he quickly introduced the rest of the Fellowship. Dawn smiled weakly at them.
“Hi... I’m Dawn Summers,” she replied.
“We must move. We must reach the woods of Lothlorien,” Aragorn insisted once more.
“Can you walk, Lady Dawn?” Legolas asked, still kneeling beside her.
“I hope so,” she muttered and began to pull herself up with the aid of Boromir and Legolas. Half way to her feet, something occurred to Dawn.
“Hey! Where am I?”
“On the eastern side of the Mines of Moria, my Lady.” Gimli answered gruffly. He was still enraged that the Mines had been left to ruin.
“Yu-huh. And what world am I in?” she asked simply.
They all stared at her as if she was insane.
“Your injury must have affected you more gravely than we first thought,” Aragorn decided, reaching out to hold Dawn’s face so he could closer study her wound.
Dawn pulled away. “Just answer the question.”
“You’re in Middle-Earth, of course,” Pippin spoke as if Dawn was an imbecile. She stared at him blankly, adding to his suspicions.
She drew in a shaky breath and felt her legs collapsing beneath her. Legolas, still holding her elbow from helping her up, caught Dawn easily and lifted her up in his arms.
“Thanks,” Dawn breathed, a little embarrassed.
The Fellowship began the journey to Lothlorien, Dawn still being carried by Legolas. She quickly took in Legolas’ fine features and smothered a smile as she felt his strong arms around her. This was definitely better than being paralysed by a creepy demon and dragged by her arms through the woods in Sunnydale by Buffy and Xander.
At the memory of her family so far away, a small, sad sigh escaped Dawn’s lips. Legolas looked at her, concerned.
“Are you all right, my Lady?” he asked.
She forced a smile in response. “Yeah, I’m good. But do you think you could put me down? Please?”
Legolas looked doubtful at her request. He did not think her fit to travel at the pace Aragorn was setting. “My Lady, I do not think it wise. You are weak and unwell. I should not like for you to fall behind.”
“Well,” Dawn huffed, taking offence to being called weak. “Nobody seems to mind that Frodo and Sam have fallen behind, do they Mr. Pointy Eared freak!”
Legolas stopped dead in his tracks and swung around, ignoring Dawn’s childish insult. Dawn instinctively clung to him tighter at the sudden movement. Seeing that Frodo and Sam had indeed fallen quite a ways behind the others, Legolas sighed and set Dawn on her feet. He went and spoke to Aragorn, who immediately called a halt. Then he and Boromir made their way back up the track to carry Frodo and Sam down to where the group was waiting.
Dawn was busy practising standing and walking back and forth without looking as shaky as she felt on her legs. She was contemplating giving in and allowing the incredibly hot Elf to carry her some more when her roving gaze met the curious stares of Merry and Pippin.
Unabashed, they continued to stare at the strange girl. Dawn, equally curious, stared back. Finally though, with Aragorn and Boromir arriving back on the scene carrying Frodo and Sam, she decided to break the stand-off.
She smirked. “What are you staring at exactly?”
They shrugged. “You are very strange,” Pippin commented.
Dawn’s smirk deepened. “I’m strange? Ok, coming from someone that’s three-foot-six and has hairy feet, that’s just freakin’ weird. What are you, anyway? Midgets? Munchkins?”
“We’re Hobbits,” replied Merry seriously. “What are ‘Midgets’ and ‘Munchkins’, please?”
To the consternation of the gathered Fellowship, Dawn burst out laughing. She did not care about the taken aback expressions she was receiving, the idea of someone asking in all seriousness ‘what are ‘Munchkins’, please?’ was hysterical.
As she looked over to Frodo, though, her laughter died on her lips. She quickly sobered and held his gaze with her own.
“Do not fear power when you have no control over it’s presence within you. The key is to remain yourself,” Dawn said with a grim smile. Her eyes betrayed her affinity with Frodo’s situation whilst knowing nothing of the particulars. “Believe me, I know.”
For a moment, Frodo looked as if he’d been slapped by the truth of her words. He nodded, wide-eyed. He understood her.
Dawn felt eight pairs of eyes staring at her and fidgeted uncomfortably. They all seemed weary of her now. ‘Well, least they aren’t looking at me like a weak pathetic child anymore,’ she thought.
Out loud she said, “Uh, maybe we should keep going?”
“Yes,” Aragorn agreed, breaking the Fellowship’s silence. “Let’s continue. It is not far to the borders of Lorien now.” His eyes did not move from Dawn’s face as he scanned it for signs of deceit and ill will. Dawn let him stare at her, not fearing him in the least.
Aragorn was easily convinced that no harm would be done by this girl, and he gave her a small smile before taking back to their path. Dawn followed, on foot, ever aware of Legolas following close behind, watching her every step intently. She pointedly ignored him, as she often did with Buffy when she was too overprotective. Aragorn was right, the arrived at a forest not long after he’d said they would.
Dawn wandered into the trees, gasping at their beauty. But as she walked, a strange feeling settled over her. She hadn’t exactly been warm since she’d regained consciousness, but now she was fast becoming dead cold. Within minutes she was shivering uncontrollably. Somewhere behind her, she could hear Gimli grumbling about an Elf-witch of great and terrible power, but paid him no attention, her mind incapable of thought beyond the basic ‘left foot, right foot, left foot...’
Legolas, still behind Dawn, noticed her condition worsening, but let it slide for a short while. He sensed she did not appreciate being coddled. Soon enough, though, he was fully satisfied that she was too unwell to refuse his care.
He sidled up to her to take a look at her face. He gasped in horror. Annoyed, Dawn flashed her fierce green eyes towards him. Legolas’ eyes were wide, taking in how her face had become even paler, almost translucent, and her lips had turned a frightening shade of blue. Without a word, Legolas wrapped his cloak around her.
Letting her annoyance go, Dawn nodded gratefully, even though the warm cloak could do nothing to dispel the ice that she felt was forming in her veins. Legolas had just decided he would carry her again, whether she allowed it or not, when on reflex he pulled an arrow from his quiver and aimed it. They had been surrounded by Elves.
“The Dwarf breathes so loud, we could’ve shot him in the dark,” the leader sneered at Gimli.
Gimli grumbled in response.
Aragorn moved forward and began speaking with the leader, Haldir, in a language Dawn did not understand. Legolas followed the conversation, in Elvish, intently. The rest of the Fellowship was just as clueless at Aragorn and Haldir’s words as Dawn was.
Haldir finally turned to them. “You will follow me.”
Dawn felt herself being swept up in Legolas’ arms once more. She didn’t protest, just rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes, wishing she could stop shivering. Her feet were still bare, from the ritual, which made matters even worse for her. They were like two lumps of ice attached to her legs. There were streaks of blood running over them like sick patterns, and they felt tender and bruised from walking over rough surfaces.
They came to the Elven city of Caras Galadhon, and were led up a staircase to a high flet in a grand tree. They stood waiting as a white glow approached them from a little higher up the tree. From the centre of the light emerged two figures. Elves, tall, beautiful, pale and regal. Dawn shivered. Instinctively, Legolas tightened his arms around her, trying to warm her cold skin.
Celeborn and Galadriel approached, the Lord of Lothlorien speaking first. “Nine there are here, yet not the nine that set out from Rivendell. Tell me where is Gandalf? For I much desire to speak with him.”
Galadriel read from Aragorn’s eyes. “Gandalf the Grey did not pass the borders of this land. He has fallen into Shadow.”
“He was taken by both Shadow and Flame. A Balrog of Morgoth, for we went needlessly into the net of Moria,” said Legolas softly, still focused on Dawn’s gradually worsening condition.
At Legolas’ words, Gimli hung his head, feeling a deep guilt that he had pushed so hard for the Fellowship to head into the perilous mines.
Galadriel’s words were stern, but kind. “Needless were none of the deeds of Gandalf in life. We do not yet know his full purpose. Do not let the great emptiness of Khazad-Dhum fill your heart, Gimli son of Gloin, for the world has grown full of peril and in all lands, love is now mingled with grief.”
Her sharp gaze locked onto Boromir, who began to sweat under the pressure, tears forming in his eyes. Gimli, on the other hand, was staring up at her, entranced by her words and her beauty. Frodo gasped as she spoke words of welcoming to him in his mind.
“Go now and rest, for you are weary with sorrow and much toil. Tonight, you will sleep in peace,” she dismissed the Fellowship.
Legolas stood rooted to the spot, cradling Dawn in his arms still, unsure of what to do with her. Galadriel beckoned him to her. Wordlessly, she led him to a chamber further up in the great tree.
She motioned for him to put Dawn on the bed and Legolas immediately co-operated. Galadriel moved to stand over Dawn, who was now so cold she was beyond shivering. Her eyes had glazed over, and she was looking without seeing.
The Elf Queen put her hand on Dawn’s forehead, using her magic to counter the effect that the supernaturalism of Lothlorien had had on her after her fall through the portal. But at the touch, Dawn became hysterical.
She began to scream, a bloodcurdling sound which caused all those who heard it to cringe. The sounds wound all the way to the forest floor, where the Fellowship was camped. Aragorn quickly bade the others to stay within their tent and ran up the stairs, sensing he was needed.
Back in the chamber, Dawn was still thrashing violently, and despite Legolas bearing down on her to hold her still with all his strength, he could not keep her stable enough for Galadriel to make a connection. Dawn’s blind panic was so forceful that though Galadriel could work her way into the young mind, Dawn did not register her presence and therefore Galadriel could not communicate with her.
The eighteen year old’s screams began to form into words, forgetting her pride and begging for her sister. “Buffy!” she was screaming, over and over, her legs kicking and her head shaking violently back and forth.
Aragorn burst into the room, making his way to the bed without a moment’s hesitation. He scooped Dawn’s legs up in an iron grip, gathering her hands in the hold, allowing Legolas to focus on keeping her head still. He was still amazed at how cold the girl’s skin was. Her voice faltered and faded to a whimper. “Buffy,” Dawn sobbed.
Finally, Galadriel was able to lay her hand over Dawn, and with a minute of intense concentration, Dawn’s sobs were silenced and her skin began to warm. The gash on her face faded and disappeared. Galadriel sat back, watching lips turn from blue to white to pink, the slightest hint of colour returning to the smooth cheeks. She was more interested in the rush of images she’d felt from Dawn with their connection.
Legolas and Aragorn let her go and Dawn no longer struggled. She was deeply asleep. They moved back to allow an Elf to cover her with a thick, soft blanket.
Galadriel rose. “Come with me,” she told them, leaving the room. When Legolas paused to look back at the sleeping figure, she spoke to his mind. ‘She will be well in the morning. Leave her to rest now.’
The two friends followed Galadriel to a secluded area, where she turned to face them at last. She did not speak.
Aragorn broke the silence. “What was wrong with her, my Lady?”
Galadriel gave them a chilling look. “She is dead.”
“Dead?” Legolas echoed.
Galadriel nodded slowly. “It was her death that brought her here. I saw it when I healed her. Legolas, you have had most contact with her since you came across her, I know you felt the ice in her skin. You did not understand that it was the lingering effects of her passing, which I have relieved her of. I also healed the wounds on her skin.”
Legolas nodded, his mind racing. “But why did her condition worsen the as we entered this land?”
“The mystical energy of the Golden Wood affected the mystical energy within her, and showed itself by enhancing the effects of her passing into Middle-Earth. You see, Dawn was no ordinary human in her world. She knew this, but even those who knew her best did not know a fraction of her power. She herself does not know it. It is the reason she fell into Middle-Earth upon her death instead of passing to one of the lands of mortal death of her world.” Galadriel’s words were cryptic, leaving Legolas and Aragorn more confused than when she had begun.
“I do not understand,” Aragorn admitted.
“Nor do I,” responded Galadriel. “I have seen much of her former world through her, and felt a great deal of Dawn’s power and strength, but there is yet much I do not understand. Such questions will only be answered upon her waking. Go now to your rest, and we will speak some more in the morning.”
* * * * *