AN: This is the prologue to my story Children of Destiny, and should be read first. If you came here after reading that story, it should explain some things.
Dislaimer: I own neither the X-Men nor the LotR
A young woman hurried down the hall, a small smile on her lips. She was ecstatic; another potential benefactor had come to the school, this one with, as Jubilee had put it, ‘loads of the moneys’. Ever since Xavier’s School for Gifted Children had been exposed as a school for mutants, the number of patrons had dwindled rapidly down to the rare eccentric and wealthy individual. As extensive as Charles Xavier’s estate was, it was being drained dry by the number of dependants it supported. Many of the students, children, had parents who had either abandoned them or lacked enough money to support an education at such an exclusive and expensive school. There was the occasional student who came from a rich family that wanted their mutant child out of high society’s view, but those were few and far between. Under these circumstances, anyone crazy enough to risk his reputation and money to help support the school was very welcome.
Katherine Jensen had been working at the school for almost ten months now, having gone to Dr. Xavier after the raiding of the school to offer her experience with children. Since then, she had served as nurse, cook, nanny, sister and mother to the students there, a willing pair of ears for the adults to rant into, and a soft shoulder to cry on. The school was her home, and the children, her own. It had taken several months before all the students had accepted her presence there, and even longer before the adults truly looked on her as being a friend rather than an interloper. Her empathic ability had been very helpful in endearing herself to both children and adults alike, and her secondary ability, that of changing into a large, shaggy red wolfhound, gained the good will of every dog-lover in the school.
As she walked, Katherine mused on the difficult position she had in the school, that of the only naturally motherly woman present for the younger children to come to for help and understanding, and the only one having had experience with actually living with a bunch of moody and hormonal teenagers. At the age of twenty-two, she had been working with children and teenagers for over seven years due to her adoptive father being extremely active as a foster father and the superintendent of an orphanage. Her credentials then being what they were, Dr. Xavier had been quite pleased to have her on staff, and offered her an outrageously high salary…hazard pay, as it were. The school was only a little more than an hour from her father’s home, close enough that she could escape the confines of the school when the stress became too much, and far enough away that her father couldn’t actually follow her to work as he’d threatened more than once.
Katherine shook her head in amusement at the thought of her father, and then focused on her surroundings once again. She could hear voices ahead in the west parlor, the smooth tenor of Dr. Xavier and the laughing soprano of Aurora Munroe intermixed with several unfamiliar, deeper baritones. When she peeked around the door, she caught sight of three men seated opposite her two friends, chatting comfortably amongst themselves. Katherine stared in surprise at the trio, eyebrows rising as she noted the very clear family resemblance in the clean-cut facial features, wavy dark brown hair, elegantly arched eyebrows and woman-killer smiles. The elder man, obviously the father, had gray patches at his temples, as well as subtle laughter lines around his mouth and eyes, and held himself with more formality, the very picture of a proud head of an old, well-established family. The two younger men were more than simply brothers, with their nearly identical facial features and rakish grins, a startling effect on both at once.
“Katherine!” She was startled out of her examination, and smiled sheepishly as she opened the door all the way and entered the room. Dr. Xavier smiled knowingly at her, and moved to introduce her to the visitors. “Gentlemen, may I present you with the matron of this school, Ms. Katherine Jensen. Katherine, this is Dr. Edward Peredhil and his sons Daniel and Robin. They are here to tour the school before finalizing their patronage.” Katherine stopped short at hearing the name, staring at the three men in disbelief as she froze with her hand partially extended.
No, freakin’, way. Her brain was momentarily paralyzed before she shook herself and examined the men more closely, extending her empathy to get a feel of them. Katherine’s eyebrows raised in surprise at the mental shields that were blocking the emotions of all three. Her eyes narrowed as she searched their facial features for the signs she knew must be there. Ah, there it was, a subtle shimmer over their skin, the invisible ripple of energy over their bodies, the restrained gleam of their gray eyes.
“It’s nice to meet you all,” the young woman spoke at last, a slightly amused smile hovering about her mouth as she nodded to the bemused-looking men. “Tell me, where does your last name come from? Is it of Oriental origin?”
“It is an old European name,” the elder Peredhil answered smoothly, gray eyes narrowed slightly in thought as he watched her face curiously.
Katherine nodded slightly as though he had confirmed something. “Are you, by any chance, related to anyone by the name of…” she paused briefly, “Elrond?” There was no visible reaction from either the father or the sons, but the empath sensed the hidden emotion that suddenly jumped behind their shields.
“No, I don’t believe so,” Dr. Peredhil answered, all emotion wiped from his expression. “The name is an unfamiliar one, I’m sorry.”
The young woman nodded, her expression showing that she had not been hopeful for his recognition, while inwardly she was laughing uproariously. “Oh, well, it was a long shot, I suppose.” She paused momentarily as though she had forgotten something. “Oh, dear, I was supposed to be teaching some of the girls how to sew. How forgetful of me.” It was with great difficulty that Katherine ignored the incredulous expression from Aurora. “It was a pleasure to meet you gentlemen,” she said with a smile as she shook their hands. “I must express my thanks for your patronage, sir,” she told Dr. Peredhil, covering her amusement with a polite smile. “If you’ll excuse me, please?”
Just as she reached the door, Katherine turned and regarded the three men with a thoughtful expression. “I don’t suppose you’re familiar with the name of Arwen Undomiel, either, by any chance?” Yes, that got the reaction she’d been expecting. All three men jerked as though they’d been stung, and fastened burning gazes on her. Without another word, Katherine fled the room, caught between laughter and a burning anxiety.
For the rest of the afternoon, she kept herself busy avoiding the visitors and the curious glances from both Dr. Xavier and Aurora. After dinner, she hurriedly informed Scott Summers that she was leaving to run some errands in town, and then fled the premises before the weather-manipulating African American could chase her down for some answers. Once outside the gate of the school, Katherine breathed out a heavy sigh of relief, and slowly began to relax. An hour later, as she was walking down the sidewalk, a limousine pulled up beside her, moving slowly to follow her movements down the street. The young woman halted to turn and look at the vehicle, raised an eyebrow, and approached the car.
“Can I help you,” she asked the tinted window, her tone light. The window slowly rolled down, revealing the expected face.
“Would you please join us, Ms. Jensen,” Edward Peredhil asked, his face a mask of gentlemanly politeness. The young woman gazed at him for a short moment, and then inclined her head in assent. The driver opened the side door for her, closing it behind her.
Inside the limo, Katherine pulled off her jacket and placed it primly over her knees, taking the time to examine the other occupants. The twins were there, seated next to her in the large interior of the vehicle, and opposite her were seated Dr. Peredhil and an older man. The unknown man was tall and lean, his gray hair swept back in a small ponytail, and his blue eyes twinkling with intelligence above sharp cheekbones on a clean-shaven face. He was the only one in the vehicle who seemed at ease with the situation. In the continued silence, Katherine looked at Dr. Peredhil in silent question. The ball was in his court, and he seemed well aware of it.
“Ms. Jensen,” the man began, his gray eyes sharp and burning with intensity, “Tell me, how exactly do you know the names of Elrond, and Arwen Undomiel?” The question hung in the air for a long moment as the four men waited for the answer.
“Why do you wish to know, Doctor?” At her question, the temperature seemed to drop dramatically, which, considering the occupants of the car, was quite a possible happening.
Edward Peredhil drew in a sharp breath to answer, and then visibly calmed himself before speaking. “Those names are from a history that is unknown to most people,” he said slowly, regarding her closely. “That history is very important to my…family, and should not be as well known as you seem to make it.”
Katherine raised an eyebrow. “Your family history is not as well guarded as you seem to think it, then.” She watched as all three Peredhil bristled. “Now, I will not be answering any such questions under these circumstances. I would prefer to not feel as though I had been kidnapped.” One of the younger men moved to protest, halting when the as yet unnamed man placed a restraining hand on his knee. Katherine watched the elderly man with interest, wondering who he was. He was not disguised as the other three were; the face he displayed was his own. A subtle power played over his skin, however, and the twinkle in his blue eyes bespoke an awareness that she had seen only once before in such undisguised abundance.
He noticed her gaze on his face, and smiled warmly at her. “I’ve neglected to introduce myself. I’m terribly sorry, Ms. Jensen; forgive an old man his forgetful rudeness. I am Matthew.” Katherine smiled at the old man, both of them deliberately ignoring the other three occupants of the space as they shook hands.
“Matthew,” she greeted him warmly with a nod of her head. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” A throat cleared pointedly, and the young woman grinned at Dr. Peredhil in cheeky impenitence. “Dr. Peredhil, I understand that you wish for answers, but this is neither the time nor the place for them.” She held up a hand to halt his protest. “Now, I don’t mind having this conversation tonight, but I want it to be held in the place of my choosing, and I want someone of my choosing there with me.” The man settled back in his seat, casting Matthew an inscrutable look.
Katherine grinned, and then dove into her jacket for her cell phone. “Hello, Dad? Hey, it’s me. Yes, that me. No, I’m fine, if you don’t count being held hostage against myself for information.” There was a small chuckle from Matthew’s corner of the car at that. The ‘hostage’ cast him a small grin as she continued speaking. “No, it’s really fine, Dad. Nothing serious, just some people wanting to know some things about some other things that I know. A Dr. Peredhil and his two sons.” She paused at the short moment of silence on the other end of the line. “Yeah, I thought so. We need somewhere to resolve a few issues, and I think you need to be there. Well, it’s the three Peredhil, and Matthew.” She snorted with laughter. “No, just Matthew, like Madonna. You’ll like him…he reminds me of you on a good day. Yes, yes, I dislike you as well. Yeah, we’re about half an hour out. I’ll see you then. Bye. Love you, too, Dad. Bye.” She closed the phone with great satisfaction. “One of you tell the driver that we’re headed for number 1347 North Jackson Avenue, outside the west part of town.” When none of them moved, she rolled her eyes. “Matthew, would you mind?”
The ride was silent from then on, interspersed with bemused looks from the Peredhil men, and cheerful grins exchanged between herself and Matthew, quite a delightful man who was not above pulling several amusing faces toward Dr. Peredhil when the other man wasn’t looking. Eventually, though, they did reach the small neighborhood wherein Katherine’s father lived.
Once inside, she looked around for her father. “Dad?” Katherine hung her coat over the back of the nearest chair, something which would get her yelled at later, and gestured for the four men to make themselves comfortable.
“In the kitchen,” came the answer from around the corner. “I’ll be out in just a minute. Make yourselves at home, and Katherine, pick that jacket up and put it on the hook where it goes. I remember how messy you are, even if you have been living elsewhere for a year.” Katherine grinned, and obeyed, before turning to the bar in the corner.
“You heard him,” she told the other four. “Can I get any of you anything to drink?” Bottles clinked as she began fixing what she knew was her father’s favorite drink. “Dad? Do you want double malt or single tonight?”
“Single,” her father answered as he entered the room. “I think I’ll need it tonight,” he spoke wryly as he looked over the other four men. Katherine rolled her eyes as the other five stared at one another in silence.
“Well, shall I do introductions?” The silence was getting tedious. “This is Dr. Edward Peredhil and his sons Daniel and Robin, as well as the wondrous no-last-name Mr. Matthew. Gentlemen, this is my father, Lars Jensen, who is also a doctor, only of psychology rather than of medicine.” She handed the whiskey to her father, and then sat down on her favorite chair. On a nearby sofa, Dr. Peredhil examined her father’s features, which were the standard blend of Dutch and German features that his name suggested.
Light blond hair that brushed the rims of glasses neatly obscured gray-blue eyes that were currently narrowed as Lars Jensen surveyed his guests. “I understand you wish to interrogate my daughter.” The statement was simple, and without antagonism.
“Yes.” One of the brothers answered for their father. “We simply wish to know how she came by certain information.”
“Please excuse my interruption,” Matthew spoke up, looking entirely unrepentant. “I couldn’t help but notice that you and your daughter look very little alike.” Katherine looked at the old man with a small smile, well aware that her dark auburn hair, bright blue eyes and fair skin marked her apart from her father.
“Dad adopted me when I was seven,” she explained briefly. “He found me in his orphanage and decided he couldn’t live without me.” She grinned at her father. “Masochist that he is.” Matthew laughed, deep and loud, and Lars’ face lit up in mute pleasure at the sound.
“Yes, well, by the time I’d realized what I’d done, she’d grown on me.” He grinned at his daughter. “Like a fungus.” Katherine stuck her tongue out at her father, ignoring their audience for the moment.
“Do you know that you two remind me of two others I knew long ago?” Matthew asked in amusement, his eyes twinkling knowingly. Lars stared at the old man for a moment, looking curiously as though he both longed for and dreaded the continuation of the thought. “Katherine has no beard, though,” the old man continued thoughtfully, watching her father’s reaction carefully. “So the resemblance is not so great, after all.”
“No,” Lars spoke quietly, a small catch in his voice. “The resemblance is great. I have noted it myself.” Katherine ducked her head at the emotion in her father’s voice, suddenly realizing what was being spoken of. The others, however, had not followed the conversation.
“Mith-Matthew,” the elder Peredhil corrected himself with a small frown, “Do you know Dr. Jensen?”
“Yes,” Matthew replied simply, his eyes regarding the blond man before them with a quiet joy. “But it has been many years since last I saw him.”
“Many years,” Lars agreed softly. “I am…glad to see you again…Matthew?” There was a small smile at the name, and the old man shrugged in answer.
“It was as good as any. Ah, but why am I blathering on? Edward, you wished to question Ms. Jensen. Please, forgive me for interrupting.”
Dr. Peredhil frowned as he looked between his friend and their host, and then turned his mind back to his questions. “I wish to know where you learned of the names Elrond and Arwen Undomiel.” Katherine’s father drew in a short breath at the names, darting his daughter a remonstrative look, to which she only grinned.
“I learned those names at the same place and time in which I learned the very language which your last name, Peredhil, comes from.” All three Peredhil regarded her in slight shock. “I learned the history of Elrond, and all the tales to do with his sons, and daughter Arwen Undomiel, as well as the stories of Elrond’s stepson, who became that lord’s son-in-law as well.” There was no movement in the room as the three men stared at her in frozen incredulity. “These stories, gentlemen, I learned here, in this house, from the time I was seven years old even until now, which brings a time when I hope I can hear those tales firsthand from those who lived them.” The silence continued, and Katherine shook her head ruefully.
“Who-” the nearest twin halted in mid question, then began again, “Who taught you those tales?”
“I did,” Lars spoke up, his voice carrying clearly. “I taught her those stories, because I wished them to continue in the hearts of men. I thought the characters spoken of would never hear mention of them, having left this world long ago, never to return.” The three Peredhil stared at Katherine’s father in consternation, and finally, she had had enough.
“Matthew, would you help me get some snacks from the kitchen,” she asked quietly, standing quickly to her feet. “Dad, we’ll back there if you need us,” the young woman spoke gently, resting a hand on her father’s shoulder for a brief moment before continuing out of the room. The old man followed her, entering the kitchen to find her leaning back against the wall, her eyes closed, a small smile on her face.
“How did you see them, my dear?” Her eyes flew open at the question, and she straightened.
“I’m empathic,” Katherine answered simply, and he nodded. “And the name was an attention-grabber, also. I knew what to look for in the way of disguises,” the old man cast her an amused look, “And the family resemblance…the twins! Rather a large hint there. After that, just dropping the two names clinched it.”
“You did a truly great thing in getting them to come here,” Matthew informed her seriously. “Your father…is a truly great friend to the Peredhil, as I am sure you are well aware, Ms. Jensen.”
Katherine grinned as she pulled a tray of wafers from the pantry. “Oh, I know, Matthew. And please, call me Katherine.” The old man favored her with a large smile.
“Only if you will call me Gandalf, my dear.”
Katherine froze for a moment, a faint expression of shock on her face. “Oh. I…suppose I might have guessed that, actually.” She looked at the old man…Gandalf! with a grin. “So…do you still make fireworks?”
In the other room, Lars Jensen faced the three Peredhil, his face expressionless. “I think that we can get rid of the disguises now, don’t you think, mellonamin? If you wish to get answers, I would like to see your real faces.” The other three men exchanged glances, and then nodded reluctantly.
“Very well, then,” Dr. Peredhil acquiesced, closing his eyes with a sigh. Even as Lars watched, the air around their bodies rippled slightly, as though a mirage was dissipating from around them. Skin lightened and gained a luminescent quality, eyes grew brighter and lighter, hair grew darker and silkier, subtle human blemishes disappeared, and ears tapered at the tips into gentle pointed tips. All three retained the obvious family resemblance, but the two brothers were now perfectly identical to most eyes.
Lars let out a gentle sigh, his eyes riveted on the three in almost longing fear. “Thank you,” he spoke quietly. “I…forgive me for my insistence on this. I just…I needed to see your faces.” The other three exchanged rather confused looks, and their host grinned wryly. “This is rather a shock for me, gentlemen, believe me. I never expected to see Elrond Peredhil and his sons here in the U.S. I didn’t really expect to ever see you, in fact. To find you here, in my home, is rather…” He pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes wearily.
“This is a rather unexpected happening for us, as well,” Elrond Peredhil, which meant Half-Elvin in the elvin language Sindarin, stared at the blond man before them penetratingly. “But your knowledge of who we are only makes the question of how you know these things of even more importance.” The four men stared at each other for a long moment. “Who are you, Dr. Jensen?”
The blond laughed, the sound a cross between bitter and nostalgic humor. “Haven’t you guessed yet? I am an elf, Elrond Peredhil, just as you and your sons are. I was one of the few who did not leave Arda for Valinor when the time of the elves ended, and I have lived among men ever since. I know the stories my daughter spoke of because I witnessed them.” Again, they were silent as the four regarded one another. “It has been over a thousand years since last I saw the face of another elf. I did not ever think to see the Peredhil again in Arda, nor Mithrandir. I had thought that once the last of the ships passed over into Valinor, the way was blocked?”
Elrond’s expression was wry. “That was the case in the beginning. After some time, however, the way opened for those who wished to enter the world of men once again. The Valar saw the desire of many among us to aid men as that race grew in knowledge and power, and permitted us to enter Arda again. Since then, many of us have established ourselves in the world so that we are well known among men. My sons were among the first to do so, and I followed them some centuries ago.”
“Centuries?” Their host was surprised. “You…have the elves been here for so long, and I have never come upon them?”
“Come on, Dad,” Katherine spoke gently as she entered the room, “If they were as good at hiding as you are, are you really so surprised? How many lifetimes have you lived among humans, and they never suspected, even those who had the ability to see?” She set the tray of wafers on the table. “Not to mention, you’ve always tended to live under the radar, so to speak. In the last several centuries, you’ve stayed the basic equivalent of a peasant.” At her father’s amused expression, she backpedaled slightly. “Not that there’s anything wrong with being a peasant. I mean, middle class existence is pretty nice. I should know.” She rolled her eyes at the grins targeted her way. “Never mind. Lembas, anyone?”
“Lembas? Really?” All three Peredhil straightened in interest.
“They’re not lembas,” Katherine’s father spoke wryly. “She just calls them that. I never managed to get the recipe for actual lembas from those stubborn Lorien elves, tight-lipped skinflints that they were.” His daughter laughed.
“I have yet to understand the problem you have with the elves of Lorien. Sure, I know there was that whole unfriendliness between Mirkwood and Lothlorien, but your father’s dislike of them isn’t much of an excuse.”
“Mirkwood?” Elrond was rather surprised. “You are a Wood Elf? And yet you live here, in New York?”
Katherine glared at her father. “You haven’t told them? Da-ad! Gandalf and I were in the kitchen for almost ten minutes! How long could it take?” Lars looked slightly embarrassed. “Just take off the disguise, and show them.” The young woman raised an impatient eyebrow. “Gandalf…Mithrandir…tell him!”
“She is correct,” the old man told the blond man cheerfully. “They have been waiting just as long as you have for this. I think everyone here would be grateful if it was out as quickly as possible.”
Lars sighed, and then smiled. “I have missed you, Mithrandir.” His gaze swept over the other three visitors. “I have missed you all, mellonamin.” Even as the Peredhil watched in bemused puzzlement, Lars’ face rippled and changed, much as their own had. Pale blond hair lengthened slightly and became a brighter gold, tan skin lightened to porcelain fair, gray blue eyes cleared to a piercing ice blue, age blemishes disappeared, and the pointed ears of the elves appeared. The unrestrained golden aura of an ancient, powerful immortal spilled across the room, brightening the dark corners and bringing a smile of pleasure to Katherine’s face.
“Legolas?” Both twin Peredhil stared at the blond elf in dumbfounded amazement. “Legolas?!!” The tableau froze for a brief moment, and then exploded into movement. The next moment, there was a pile of joyful, chattering elves on the floor, Legolas laughing ecstatically at the bottom.
Katherine laughed at the sight, and turned to smile at Elrond’s expression of incredulous pleasure. “He thought he was alone. He has been alone for so long. He thought you were all gone, and that he would have to go through his immortality without anyone at his side, much less one of his old friends. He told me so many stories about the time of the elves, even taught me to speak some Sindarin and Quenya.” She looked at the laughing elves fondly. “I’ve never felt him so happy,” the empath whispered, a small smile on her face.
“I never thought to see him again,” Elrond spoke quietly, smiling as well to see his sons’ oldest friend alive and well. “He taught you of our people? Our history?”
Katherine laughed. “I’ve been an empath for as long as I can remember. It didn’t take me long to figure out that he was hiding something big. I learned how to see through the glamour spell when I was nine, and that’s when he began teaching me in earnest. Since then, he taught me how to control my empathy, and how to use it in what I do.” At the questioning look from the elven lord, she laughed. “Dad is involved in orphans a great deal, and I got pulled into it. I’m at the school now, but before that I worked in a lot of orphanages and children’s shelters, not to mention with all the foster kids Dad has taken in over the years.”
“So, Legolas is a father,” Elrond mused, regarding the young woman with amusement. “Now I understand Mithrandir’s comment about you reminding him of someone.”
“Dad’s been a father many, many times over the centuries,” Katherine told him quietly. “He’s told me about many of his adopted children. You might be surprised how many, actually. I believe that I’m number seven hundred and fourteen of his kids.”
“Seven hundred and nineteen, actually,” her father’s muffled voice came from beneath one of the twins. “Elladan, get your heavy ass off my head. Let me up, you idiots.” The elf mentioned refused to move, merely said something rude in Sindarin. “Oh, go kiss an orc,” Legolas retorted, trying to shove himself up without much success.
“Right,” Katherine laughed. “And on that note, I’m going back to the school. Could I hitch a ride back to my car, please? I’m sure Dad wants you guys to stay and talk the night through, so if you could just have the chauffeur take me back into town, I’d appreciate it.”
“I will travel with you,” Mithrandir spoke up, eyes twinkling. “I fear that I will be superfluous at this stage of the reunion. I would like to meet this Dr. Charles Xavier, as well, so perhaps we could arrange to have your vehicle picked up, hmm?” Katherine grinned and nodded. “Very well then, we will take our leave of you all.” Gallantly, the old man held out his arm, which Legolas’ adoptive daughter took with glee.
“I’ll see you later, Dad, maybe without the extraneous limbs that you seem to have grown.” Ignoring her father’s mock glare, the two walked out of the house, exchanging embarrassing stories about the blond elf. Behind them, Elrond watched them go.
“She reminds me of Arwen,” he told Legolas softly. The blond elf chuckled softly.
“Yes, she has Arwen’s stubborn look about her, doesn’t she? And Gimli’s tongue in her head, as well, just as capable of driving me mad as he was.” Legolas’ voice was fondly reminiscent, too happy to become truly nostalgic. “Katherine was my gift from the Valar those sixteen years ago. She kept me sane, and provided the challenge I needed in training her gifts. I know that she is destined for great things.” His eyes clouded over slightly in meditation, seeing things beyond the sight of men. “Great things,” he repeated softly.