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This story is No. 4 in the series "Return of The Key.". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Dawn Summers, now known as Tindómë, leaves Lothlorien for a trip to Minas Tirith, with Rumil, Orophin and the twin sons of Elrond... a tale of discovery, orcs, intrigue, kidnap... and occasional sex... COMPLETE.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Lord of the Rings > Dawn-Centered(Recent Donor)curiouslywombatFR1534146,6671710950,66926 Apr 0917 Feb 10Yes

Leaving Lorien.

Tindómë was excited. As, however, none of her companions seemed to be excited she was trying to stay calm. But she was going on a trip; she was going to leave Lorien and go to Minas Tirith – by way of Rohan! There would be shops, and she would be able to visit Gimli, and maybe Legolas if they did a detour, and she would see Aragorn again and…

‘Calm down,’ she told herself, ‘and don’t behave like a freakin’ teenager!’

But she was going to see people. People who weren’t elves or Gimli or Gandalf! What Lord Celeborn had called her ‘bright, intelligent and enquiring mind’ wanted to find out more about the mortals of Middle Earth. From the day she had regained consciousness after her injuries, sustained as she fell through the Hellmouth in the act of closing it, Gandalf had kept her away from almost everyone who might ask questions about this strange young woman.

She had seen very little of Gondorian culture and even less of the Rohirrim. All the way from Minas Tirith to Edoras, in the great cavalcade taking Théoden King’s body home in state, Tindómë had stayed in the middle of the elven cortege. She had not spoken a word to any of the horse warriors even though they had looked fascinating – in a hairy sort of way.

It was a month or so since Tindómë’s conversation with the twins about ‘brotherhood’ amongst the elves. She hadn’t said anything about that conversation to Rumil but she still found it difficult to totally accept that Orophin had encouraged other ellyn to ask her for dates. When Orophin had been back from his turn of duty ‘on the fences’ for a few days Rumil had asked her what his brother had done to upset her, as she seemed uncomfortable with him, but she had shrugged it off and said ‘nothing’ and that she had just been tired.

Rumil had given her ‘a look’ which implied that he didn’t really believe her and so she had tried to be as normal as she could around Orophin, but every time one of the other wardens came near her she found herself wondering if they were going to hit on her. Then she wondered whether to be insulted if they didn’t, while worrying about what to do if one of them tried chatting her up and she was tempted by him.

She almost thought it would be easier to say that she had decided they should become betrothed right now; except that if Rumil had wanted to do that he wouldn’t have suggested that they wait a while, and maybe she did want some time to be a free agent, after all when ‘for ever’ means exactly that it’s a long time to wonder…

But now she was going on a visit to Minas Tirith, and as none of Orophin’s patrol were coming she wouldn’t have to think about possible motives every time one of them spoke to her, she’d probably feel okay about it by the time they got home… the fact that Orophin was coming himself excited her less than it would have previously done.

But hey! She was going on vacation! She’d got her bags packed. Yay!

Lord Celeborn had asked Rumil to go to Minas Tirith to draw portraits of Arwen, Aragorn, and their baby. Lady Galadriel would never see them again, neither would Arwen’s mother Celebrian, and Lord Celeborn wanted the pictures for his wife to take West when she sailed. He did not want something by the Gondorian court painter; he wanted portraits of them seen through elven eyes.

The twins were heading to Minas Tirith to see the new baby – which they assured everyone had not been born yet – before looping back to Imladris. Lord Celeborn had decided that Rumil, with Orophin for company, was to accompany them. And so was Tindómë!

His Lordship had suggested that it would be useful, as she spoke the Common tongue better than either Orophin or Rumil, and that she might find the experience educational. She had wondered whether Gandalf would have been happy about this now. Lord Celeborn said that he had not asked him – but he, personally, thought that people would probably see her as an elleth and no-one would see her as The Key, so she should go with Rumil and see a little more of this world in which she now lived.

He had added that his wife would probably appreciate a female’s report on the new babe anyway! Tindómë wasn’t sure that she’d really be any good at that bit – she really wasn’t that into babies. She couldn’t even say that she’d once been one herself…


The twins were laid back about the forthcoming trip – they were simply going to visit their sister and brother (brother-in-law? They still called him ‘brother’), and go home. Rumil had seemed really pleased to be asked to do the portraits, Orophin less excited – he said he would miss the trees.

They were to go by way of the Hornburg where many of the elves who had been sent from Lorien to aid the Rohirrim, including Haldir, were buried. Carefully wrapped and protected in Orophin’s saddle bag were seedlings from Lorien to mark the elven gravesite. As Rumil had, quickly, become less excited by the trip Tindómë wondered if both brothers were apprehensive about going back to the site of the battle.

Therefore, by the morning of their departure, Tindómë was trying to be as cool and calm as her companions – all of whom were expressionless and about as excited as if they were going to a funeral. Although, she thought, two of the ellyn were saying what might be their last farewell to their grandmother, and the other two were going to visit the grave of their brother, so funereal was probably a reasonable attitude.

The horses were ready; saddled and bridled. Elves often rode bareback; but the light saddles, much smaller than any Tindómë had seen in California, held stirrups in place and so made for greater comfort over long distances. They also made it much easier to take luggage. ‘Thank goodness,’ she thought, as she fastened the saddle bags in place.

She wore leggings, soft boots, a shirt and tunic like the ellyn; with her hair braided, and a bow and her sword also fastened to her saddle, it is unlikely that a casual observer would have noticed that she was not an ellon herself.

The twins swung themselves up into the saddles of their own horses and waited quietly for the others. Rumil rode Hirilmith, the grey mare he had been given by the Rohirrim, and Orophin rode his own grey Rohirric horse, whose name (White Hammer) had also been translated into Sindarin – he was now Damfain.

Tindómë did not have her own horse – few of the Lorien elves did – but the stable master had saddled up Sidh (Peace), the mare she had learnt to ride on, and as she settled herself onto the horse she looked at the five of them and, despite her companions solemn expressions, began to laugh.

She was met with five sets of raised eyebrows; those of her fellow riders and those of Lord Celeborn waiting with his wife to see them off.

Eventually Tindómë stopped laughing for long enough to say “Hey! Colour co-ordinated much, folks?”

Even her Ladyship had got used to Tindómë’s occasional outbursts of ‘Valley Sindarin’; she suddenly smiled and nodded.

The twins’ horses were both the same shining black as the Els’ own hair, the two Galadhrim warrior brothers had moonlight blond hair and rode pale grey horses, and Sidh was brown, perfectly matched to Tindómë’s own colouring.

So it was that, as all five travellers placed their hands on their hearts to say farewell to Celeborn and Galadriel, they left with a memory of Her Ladyship, although looking rather fragile, happily smiling.


The days were long as it approached mid-summer and the elves could easily have ridden until dusk or later. At the pleasant walking pace the horses could easily have kept going until then as well but the ellyn had decided, when planning the journey, that it made sense to only go as far as the border of Lorien the first day and to spend the night in the company of the wardens.

Tindómë was actually looking forward to this. She had travelled inside the woods of Lorien to some of the small ‘villages’ outside Caras Galadhon but, she was quite surprised to realise, she had not been outside the woods, nor even near the edges, since her arrival. An evening spent in the company of the wardens was the equivalent, as she had said to Rumil when told of the plan, of ‘take your girlfriend to work day’. It would be interesting to see just how he lived when out on the fences.

“It will save us carrying or finding food for the first night,” he had said, followed by one of his characteristic pauses before, “and prevent your adel-bein suffering too badly from a long day in the saddle!”

‘Your beautiful behind!’ She had blown a raspberry at him and ended up some little time later with matching sets of fine elven teeth marks on both cheeks of the anatomy in question. When she had pointed out that these were so not going to improve her ability to sit in the saddle all day, he had retorted that the marks would be gone before they set out, and then offered, most solicitously, to kiss them better.

The memory made her smile as they rode quietly along the path through the trees.

She was startled when Orophin whistled in answer to the call of a passing bird. Then, as figures in wardens’ grey suddenly and silently appeared in front and behind their group, she realised that they were now into the wardens’ patrol area and she could soon dismount and give her ‘adel-bein’ a rest.

The Patrol Leader greeted the twins and the brothers by name, but he was not familiar to Tindómë or her to him, although he clearly recognised her name when introduced by Elladan. He glanced at Rumil, with one of those fleeting facial expressions that elves often used and that she couldn’t always read – yet. Well, at least he associated her with Rumil in his mind. She wondered what he knew about her, and then she wondered if she was going to get totally paranoid about every male in Lorien since she knew Orophin had been, to her mind, pimping her.

They continued on; Orophin moved to the front, Rumil rode beside Tindómë and the twins brought up the rear. A couple of times she heard soft bird-song, only for Orophin to answer it – their progress was certainly being followed.

Orophin led them into a clearing and the ellyn all dismounted as a couple of other wardens approached them. Tindómë went to swing her leg over Sidh to dismount, and realised that she was, indeed, stiff. Rumil was there almost instantly to help her down so that she ended up held close to him and, instead of letting go, he turned her to face him, slid both hands down to her butt, and rubbed it firmly.

By the time he kissed the tip of her nose and set her away from him there were about half a dozen ellyn in wardens’ garb in the clearing.

“It will ease over the next day or two,” Elrohir said to her, “but if you need a healer I will happily massage your aching muscles for you…”

She stuck her tongue out at him and Rumil also pulled a face while keeping a hand on her waist.

“Seriously,” Elrohir continued, reaching into his pack and handing over a small jar, “this will ease you if you are a little stiff – Rumil can show you the bathing pool and rub it in for you.”

Which he did.

When they returned to the clearing the horses had been unsaddled and were happily grazing, there was no sign of their companions, but there was an enticing smell of food.

Rumil led her to a tree with a rope ladder and she was glad that the ointment had worked as she climbed up into the canopy where, unseen from below, there were a couple of large talans.

A few hours later she was sitting half asleep, full of tasty food and wine, on a serviceable but comfortable settle. Her head was cushioned on Rumil’s shoulder, his arm firmly holding her there, as conversation swirled around her. She decided that, even if they were not betrothed, he was clearly giving out ‘hands off’ vibes to the other ellyn around them.

Rumil explained to someone that she needed more sleep than most as she was ‘not quite an elf’ and, as she drifted off, she wondered why she could feel that worrying him now when it hadn’t since Gandalf had explained the immortality of The Key.

That thought was still bugging her when she woke as she was being carried across a walkway to the other talan. Rumil put her down, still drowsy, on a bed and pulled off her boots then her leggings. As he unfastened her shirt she began to reciprocate, saying “Mmm –pretty elf…”

Rumil laughed quietly, then put his mouth right to her ear and whispered “Melethril-nín I would happily spend the night making love to you, but when you woke fully you might be embarrassed – there are eleven other beds in this room and they almost all contain a resting ellon…”

“Bummer!” said Tindómë.

She woke as the early morning light filled the dormitory; her head pillowed, as it often was when she awoke these days, on Rumil’s bare chest as he played with her hair. Sure enough, four ellyn in various states of undress were preparing for the day, Orophin stood beside them in his leggings quietly talking to Rumil, and a dark head on a nearby pillow suggested that at least one El was still not ready to leave his bed.

Breakfast was fresh bread, honey, jam and fruit laid out on the tables where they had eaten the night before. Tindómë found herself thinking of Sam – he would have considered it to be more of a pre-breakfast snack, but probably also been surprised that the wardens ate anything more than the odd crumb of lembas. She wondered when she would see the hobbits again.

As Rumil stood a little distance away, talking to a couple of friends, an ellon with copper coloured hair and dark, almond shaped, eyes gestured to the seat beside Tindómë and raised his eyebrows in an unspoken question.

“Hi, sure. I mean, I’m the guest, it’s your talan!”

She smiled at him. He smiled back and sat.

“Not exactly my talan, but you are a very welcome guest,” he said, adding “I am Emerlas, and I know that you are Tindómë. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

As breakfast and the conversation continued Tindómë realised that Emerlas was definitely flirting with her.

Comments such as “The beautiful peredhel that Orophin and Rumil brought home to Lorien,” (‘Peredhel? Yes, that makes sense as an understandable description,’ she thought) and “How long will you be gone? I hope that I will be on the fences to greet you on your return,” tended to give that impression. Coupled with such sentiments were those sideways looks, from beneath slightly lowered lashes, that she recognised as a feature of elven flirtage.

She glanced over at Rumil and realised that he was actually watching them. When she caught his eye the corner of his mouth quirked up briefly.

‘So no ‘hands-off’ signals this morning then,’ she thought and smiled at Emerlas deciding that, actually, she rather enjoyed the attention.


The ride from the edge of the Golden Woods to the Rohirrim stronghold of Hornburg, site of the battle of Helm’s Deep, would take three or four days, Rumil had told her before they left Caras Galadhon. It depended on how much of the trip was done at a walk and how much at a canter; also, he had added with a grin, on how well her ‘adel-bein’ held up to days spent in the saddle rather than hours.

As they set out from the wardens’ base she thought that the latter may, indeed, be a factor. The last time she had spent more than a couple of hours in the saddle had been on the journey from Minas Tirith to Lothlorien, almost three years before, and then she had ridden in front of someone rather than being in control. Not that Sidh needed much ‘control’; Tindómë could probably have slept in the saddle and come to no harm.

She remembered that, sometimes, when she rode with Rumil or Orophin on that journey they had sat her side-saddle, and held her in place, so changing her position. She wondered if Hirilmith would mind if she needed to do that again on this trip…

Rumil had reassured her, over the past couple of months, that although ‘the fëar thing’ definitely meant that they were sometimes aware of each other’s emotions, he really couldn’t ‘hear her think’… not yet, anyway! But she did wonder, sometimes, and this was one of those times.

His voice broke into her thoughts. “If you get uncomfortable, meleth, we can dismount and walk for a time, or you can come and ride with me for a little.”

“I’m a big girl now, I’ll cope,” she answered, “although walking might be nice for a while later, and riding with you is always… pleasurable.”

Elladan joined in the conversation, before Rumil could answer, from his position a couple of horse-lengths ahead. “You might be a big girl now, little one, but you are not used to days in the saddle and we want you to be able to walk into the Hornburg gracefully!”

‘Damned elven hearing,’ Tindómë thought, ‘No chance of a private conversation, and there were things I wanted to ask Rumil.’

“If you get too uncomfortable just say so,” Elladan went on. “There is no timetable to keep – a rest, a walk, or the chance to lean on Rumil’s chest and whisper in his ear, all will help.”

‘Gaaah! Another mind-reading elf!’ she thought.

Elladan turned further in his saddle and continued, “Although Mórril (his own horse) is bigger than Hirilmith, so perhaps you should ride in front of me, and whisper tender words in my ear instead…”

The sight of a Galadhrim warrior and The Key both sticking their tongues out at Lady Galadriel’s grandson was uncommon enough to cause the other two in the party to burst out laughing.


As they rode south out of the wood the bright sun almost dazzled Tindómë and it occurred to her that she had never seen a pair of shades in Middle Earth; just now she wished she’d had a pair of Ray-bans in her pocket when she fell down the Hellmouth.

‘Probably have just broken and left splinters in my butt,’ she thought, ruefully.

Behind them a bird called and she knew they had left the protection of the wardens. The open land rolled in front of them, to their right could be seen the foothills of the Misty Mountains, and she laughed with sheer pleasure as the horses broke into a canter and the breeze ruffled her hair.

A little after mid-day they stopped, in a hollow beside a rocky outcrop, to allow the horses to graze and their riders to stretch their legs and empty their bladders.

Rumil insisted on rubbing more of Elrohir’s ointment into her butt and thighs while she had her leggings down.

“This is so undignified!” she complained, as she stood leaning against Sidh’s side and resting her head on her arms.

“Ah, but meleth,” he answered, fingers ghosting along the very faint teeth marks that only the original perpetrator would have spotted, and making her shiver, “this is so that you can make your way amongst the Rohirrim with proper elven dignity.”

“Huh!” she retorted, “I reckon it’s just so that you can get your hands on my ‘adel-bein’!”

“That too…”

She laced her leggings and walked back to the others with as much proper elven dignity as she could muster, only to find the Els deep in conversation, with their backs to her, and Orophin, bow slung on his back, sitting on the outcrop keeping a look out.

There was little chance for more private conversation as Elladan turned to ask Rumil a question and they joined the twins to eat.

“We should be able to camp by the river on the outskirts of Fangorn tonight,” Elrohir said, as all five remounted, “We are making good progress.”


As they rode Tindómë considered Emerlas flirting with her and how she had felt. Actually it had been fun. A little more serious than when the Els offered to rub her butt or suggested that she whisper sweet nothings in their ears – probably more serious than when they had suggested giving her a demonstration of why they were in demand for threesomes.

Maybe Rumil was right and flirtage, at least, was part of growing up. She still wasn’t sure whether she would want anything more – but perhaps having the option left open for a while was sensible, just in case. She remained uncomfortable about Orophin ‘offering her around’; or maybe, she thought, it was actually that she felt uncomfortable about Rumil discussing with his brother the possibility of her making out with someone else.

Although if Rumil was really happy about her and other ellyn why was he clearly showing that she was ‘with him’ the evening before? And why was he worrying, again, about her being ‘not quite an elf’ as he put it?

When she did get a chance to talk to him, as they walked for a while, she asked him about the ‘hands off’ signals.

“I wanted you to feel secure,” he said, rather to her surprise.

“We learnt from men that a mortal woman would feel intimidated, or even frightened, if she was the only female surrounded by many male warriors. I did not want you to feel that way.”

“Oh! Uh, I don’t think I would have done, they were all elves, and I feel safe with elves,” she said, and then realised that what she had said was absolutely true – the elves made her feel safe. She felt more like an elf in this world than she did like a human.

While she thought about this revelation she could see that Rumil was also thinking about what she had said and it had pleased him.

He smiled. “Also, I wanted every ellon in the patrol to envy me…”


That night they camped at the edge of Fangorn forest as planned. It was a rather gloomy looking forest and the ellyn said that the trees were not happy about anyone, even elves, straying far into it.

Tindómë had gathered firewood, from the very fringe, as the ellyn had hunted for a couple of rabbits and caught fish in the river. Well fed, she slowly drowsed off to sleep to the sound of the four elves singing quietly; safe in the knowledge that they would keep watch in pairs all night and there were no orcs left anyway.


adel-bein – Beautiful behind
Melethril-nín – my lover
Peredhel – half-elf


The BtVS characters do not belong to me, but are used for amusement only. All rights remain the property of Mutant Enemy, Joss Whedon, and the original TV companies. The same is true of the LotR characters for whom all rights remain the property of the estate of JRR Tolkien and the companies responsible for the production of the films.
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