Disclaimer: See Chapter one.
A/N: Thanks for the reviews on the last chapter, the three of you that did it. You rock.
A shout out and praise to one of my fav gals and friend Akat. She's got a new BTVS/LOTR fic going and it rocks. Go read it and review.
Now, another chapter.
Her eyes. His mind kept going back to her eyes. He could see them, even now, as though they had been burned into his mind. He knew little of mortals, even if she was no longer truly one of the race of men, but her eyes.
Old pain. Old wounds. Old scars and bitterness and rage and things that reminded him of ice and snow and shattered things.
And yet behind that. Something deeper, something stronger. Something brokenly wise and very intelligent and not what he had expected.
There was all the world in those eyes. Young and yet so old. Broken and yet still working. Innocent and cynical. She was everything he realized he had expected someone who wore the title Slayer like a cloak to be and yet her other name was like a shadow. Always there, part of her and yet not. Wilwarin. A butterfly.
Yes, she was both. Small and so seemingly easy to crush in one's hands. But first one had to get to that part of her. To get beyond the Slayer. The warrior who had turned a burden into a weapon. It was in her eyes, her words.
A smile. The Valar were indeed wise.
Imaldris January 7/48 Hrive 2972 III Age
Sweet sweet freedom. She absolutely hated it when she ended up confined. Usually it ended after a day, maybe two if she'd actually managed to really do something stupid, this time though had sucked more than any before. Nearly four days of being confined to a bed or out on her terrace.
Next time she was just going to stay away until she'd healed enough to escape being tortured by Arwen and Elrond. She knew enough about basic healing to keep herself from dying, more or less. And being forced to do nothing just left her with way too much free time to just sit and think.
And come to conclusions she didn't like. At all.
Which was a nasty reminder as she headed for the stables. She'd had time to think, to do some math and to reach the very unhappy conclusion that, even for an Elven bred horse, Beriadan was getting old. Way too old to deal with things like avalanches and three or four month long trips into the wild.
She didn't want to give him up. He'd been with her since he was little more than a colt but the fact was that he was getting old.
And he didn't deserve to spend the last years of his life being ridden into the ground by a half crazy slayer. Sure, he had a few years left. A good four to six at least, but that was only if she made sure he didn't have to endure what she put horses through.
She passed through the stable doors and headed for Beriadan's stall. The big warhorse looked bored and she could tell he'd been brushed down recently. Normally she'd have done it but she'd been held hostage until the Lord of Rivendell in all his eyebrow wielding pain in assedness had cleared her to leave her rooms. And he still had Arwen on 'feeding' detail.
One day, possibly sooner rather than later, she was going to end up drop kicking Elrond.
Possibly later in the afternoon if he didn't stop being a pain in her butt about 'meeting' Prince Legolas of Mirkwood. She'd already met him for Eru's sake. And while he wasn't like she'd expected, and she'd probably dropped him and his illusions about her right on their side, she still didn't want to do a formal anything.
She was not formal.
But she'd do it. She'd go. She'd make nice and then she wouldn't have to deal with it any more.
Besides, she had other things to worry about. Long term especially. Like getting herself a new horse. Because she did owe it to Beriadan, to give him the chance to spend his last years comfortable. She could still ride him, take him out on simple border patrols and when she went to help out in the yearly gathering of supplies for winter, but for the longer and harder rides she'd have to get herself a new horse.
Hand up and there he was. Her big dark haired and eyed monster sized horse. She was pretty sure Haldir had picked the temperamental stallion as a joke but in the end she'd ended up laughing. Beriadan had always been a good boy for her.
Well, more or less.
“Sut naa lle umien sina re, astalder?” she began to stroke him and he gave her a nudge with his nose that should have knocked her over. (How are you today, valiant one?)
“He's bitten two grooms and attempted to bite me as well.” why wasn't she surprised that Glor had zeroed in on her within half an hour of her getting free? Oh wait, she knew why. So that they could spar. It was like he was always trying after she got hurt to make sure she'd learned from whatever mistake she'd made that had landed her hurt in the first place.
Or he just wanted to annoy her. Possibly both.
Beriadan got a look “Did you do that you big old grump?” the stallion gave her a look that she swore said “Can you blame me?” Anyone who thought horses weren't smart had clearly never been around Elven bred horses. They were all freakishly smart and well trained. Even the horses that were used for labor more than riding were smart.
But then she could be wrong and all horses were like that. But she'd never seen a horse in Minas Tirith as well trained or half as smart as any Elvish bred horse. And she hadn't been around horses at all really before she'd left her old world.
No time and no reason to, really. Now, though, was a different matter all together. Horses and carts or walking were how people got around and she seriously doubted there'd be cars showing up in Arda any time soon. She went out to help gather up firewood, wild herbs and food and hunt deer every year for the coming winters for crying out loud.
So the sad fact of the matter was that she was going to need a new horse if she did what she planned and only rode Beriadan for the easier stuff for the next few years. She gave Glor a look as she kept stroking the black stallion. “I need to talk to you.” Glor wasn't the stable master per se but he did have a gift for horses and knew every single one that came in and out of Rivendell's borders. And she knew he bred horses as a sort of hobby. And that he was good at it.
Beriadan's sire had been one that Elven Lord had bred. “About?”
She gave Beriadan a look. The beast was way too smart and understood way too well for her to feel comfortable talking about replacing him with her within kicking or biting distance. Plus, it was just rude. “Not here. Let's go outside.” she made her way out of the stall and Glor let her proceed him out into the cobbled courtyard. “I've got a problem.”
A look. Eyebrows up. Well, that was annoying. “Don't look at me like that, Glor. I'm being serious for once.”
Different look. Better. “Beriadan's getting older and I don't want to...I don't.” she couldn't say it. She didn't want him to die because of her. Sure, Beriadan was just a horse but he was her horse and she loved him. And she didn't want his death to be on her head.
Another look, one she couldn't read and yet could. Or maybe she didn't want to. And then he gave her a small nod. “I have a horse that should have the...personality you seem to enjoy. A mare, very young and neither broken nor trained but she would suit you better than any other.” his tone, it said something. And so did his fast response.
It said that he'd been expecting her to need a new horse and he'd been getting ready for it.
Sneaky, sweet, and a pain in her ass. That was exactly what he was. “Le hannon.” she was thankful. And maybe, just maybe a little annoyed that he knew her so well. He gave her a small smile and then turned on his heel, heading for his smithy. His other hobby. He was about halfway across the courtyard when his voice drifted back to her. “You should go prepare for your meeting with Thranduilion, Hiril Dagnir. You would not wish to miss it a second time.” there was laughter in his voice.
And it took all she had not to stick her tongue out at him. Pain in her ass.
She looked up at the winter sky, then down at herself. He was right though. She didn't like to admit it but he was. She so didn't look right for a formal meeting dressed as she currently was in pants. Even if the pants she had on were more like something nice an Eldar male would wear rather than her assortment of worn and patched Ranger clothes.
Elrond would expect nothing less than a dress and a nice one at that. And Arwen was more likely to run through the Shire butt naked than let her go looking 'unladylike'. As if the last few weeks hadn't been torture enough.
Still. She didn't have much choice in the matter.
A shake of the head and a sigh. She'd act like the adult and go. She'd even go change clothes and let Arwen mess with her hair.
It did not mean she had to be happy about it.
She hated dresses. She hated formal winter dresses even more. Especially the one that had been made for the stupid meeting she was about to go to. The dress itself was dark green and fairly simple. A v-shaped neckline and close fitting sleeves with splits and silver trim. The coat was more ornate though. It went over the dress and belted. The coat was a lighter green with a high collar and the same trim on it as the dress. But the sleeves were big, wide and long, and the belt was intricate. Little silver butterflies had been tooled into the leather and she even had slippers, which she hated, to match.
Arwen had gone nuts with her hair and it was done in an intricate braided updo on her head compete with circlet and her Wilwarin pendant standing out starkly against her skin.
Basically she looked way too overdone in her own opinion. Though she'd have gone into squee mode about it when she'd been a teenager. Oh the times, and the slayer, had changed.
And Arwen was being mean to her. She scowled for the millionth time at the Elleth as they made their way to the Hall of Fire. She'd been told, in no uncertain terms, that she was not going to be allowed weapons at this little meeting. And Arwen had watched her get dressed just to make sure.
Apparently, she was “Dangerous enough unarmed.” as she'd been told.
True. Very unfair, but true.
And it wasn't like she was planning on killing the guy. She'd already met him and they'd gotten along fine. Ok, so she'd been buried under fifty pounds of blankets and had felt kinda crappy, but it'd been fine.
Today, fine wasn't going to cut it though. She had to be nice. Welcoming. A Lady.
She'd do it. She could do this. Really.
They reached the double doors and she stopped. She could do this.
Yep, and she'd seen Elrond do the Hustle and dance the Can Can.
This was so going to end badly. She was uncomfortable. She was being watched like a hawk and she'd more or less been strip searched. And if she heard even one wrong word out of the gwenyn she'd make sure there were four broken arms between the two of them and not just one.
“Ok, let's get this over with.” she plastered on a smile she was sure anyone could tell was fake and went through the doors.
No blood, no horribly snarky comments and she hadn't even had to threaten the gwenyn. More than once. She was pretty sure Elrond was going to give them both an earful later. And while it was a shame she wasn't going to get to see that she was still fighting the urge to happy dance around.
She'd done it. She'd made nice. She'd acted like a Lady. She'd even resisted the urge to smack the gwenyn. Whoot!
And Elrond said she had no self control. She was the queen, no the freaking master of self control. And now she was free! Free! She'd made nice and would have to continue to play polite when she was around Legolas but The Last Homely House wasn't exactly tiny and Rivendell was actually a city. She'd have lots of ways to avoid the Prince of Mirkwood.
Plus, she wasn't exactly confined to the valley.
Well, she was until some of the snow went away but beautiful and wonderful spring was just around the corner. Two months tops and she could head north for a few months and wait out the rest of the visit if she really needed to. And she had plenty she could be doing in Rivendell until then to keep her busy.
Not kidding either. Living in a world without the mass produced, well anything, meant lots of work. And while 'noble' she was, everyone worked. From growing food, raising livestock and hunting to weaving, sewing and household duties, there was always something to be done. And though she sucked at the 'girly' things she was decent to very good at a lot of the other stuff.
Plus, if Glor was serious about the mare he'd offered, she'd have to spend time bonding with her new horse. Having a horse for riding was one thing, but building a bond with an animal that could see you through a fight was another.
Oh, and then there was training with Arwen. If she forgot that then the Elleth would most likely torture her. And she was half crazy by everyone's standards except the gwenyn's but she was not stupid.
Or suicidal thank you very much.
Besides, teaching Arwen to kick the crap out of the gwenyn was fun. Not just because Arwen could and had used the skills already but because she found she liked to teach. A scary thought, that. As if her being a literal teacher in Minas Tirith hadn't been enough to make her truly appreciate her old Watcher. Or make her think he'd be laughing himself into a stupor at the irony if he'd have known.
She headed straight for her closet and started stripping off the overdone gown, bypassing the food laid out on the table she'd be forced to eat as soon as Arwen caught up to her. She couldn't escape the forced feedings but she could get out of the dress.
And she did. So fast it was scary.
She was halfway dressed again, in a simple tunic and pants with her boots half laced up when Arwen was on her like a hobbit at an all you can eat buffet. “And just where do you think you're going?”
Eyes kept on boot. Hands still moving. Maybe if she ignored Arwen the Elleth would go away. “Buffy.” well crap. Warning tone.
“Beriadan's taking chunks out of the stable hands again.” it was a fairly common occurrence if she didn't keep the stallion happy and she did not want to be held responsible if he actually hurt someone. Mostly because it'd get back to Elrond and then she'd get yet another lecture. And she was good enough at causing them on her own without Beriadan's help.
Though if the big war horse took a chunk out of the gwenyn she wouldn't mind.
“You're going to eat first.” an order. Softly spoken but that's all it had to be when it came from Arwen. Mostly because when it got to the loud point she ran like she had Nazgul on her ass and not a weapon in sight.
A sigh. But she sat. The food was still warm. What there was of it that had been cooked. Arwen lifted the lids from the trays that had been keeping the food warm and then poured them both some of the wine from pitcher with it's warmer. Beans, mushrooms, carrots, and salted pork along with fresh bread and honey and butter. There was cheese and boiled eggs as well. All in all, a lot of food. But she knew what would happen. Arwen would eat a little and force her to eat the rest. And then two or three more times over the rest of the day. Along with lembass and fruit for snacks in between.
Which was just nauseating because she'd already had a massive breakfast shoved down her throat. She was used to eating more than pretty much everyone else, had accepted that she had a freakishly high metabolism because she was a slayer but if Arwen kept this up for more than a week none of her clothes were going to fit.
Well they probably would because she liked to keep her clothing a lot less form fitting now but still.
“I'm going to blow up to the size of a cow.” it was a grumble but she still started eating. Arwen wrath was to be avoided at any cost.
“You will not. So cease complaining.”
A bite of cheese. And another grumble. “Bully.”
Imaldris January 8/49 Hrive 2972 III Age
How was it that she could take on an army of ubervamps or dozens of orcs at a time and not break a sweat but the second she started doing manual labor she ended up feeling like she needed a bath? Which she did, badly.
She wasn't just dirty and sweaty, she was covered, completely covered in mud. Why? Because she'd slipped down an embankment and landed in a mud hole. While helping dig the irrigation trenches for the spring crops. Sure, the Brunein flowed right through the valley. But just because they had an abundant water supply didn't mean the water went right where they wanted it to.
Hence irrigation trenches. Which had to be maintained.
So she got to dig dig dig in the mud mud mud. But at least this time it hadn't turned into a mud fight with the gwenyn. Which was exactly what had happened the last time they'd all worked together helping to dig. And the time before that had been....dying cloth. Which had ended with them all purple.
Actually any activity the three of them got involved with except for hunting, sparring, or patrolling ended up in them being banned from doing together again. And if they even looked at Glor's smith or Erestor's office then they were in trouble.
One fire. One. And everyone blows a gasket.
So she got to dig trenches alone this year.
And sweat. And get wet and muddy. And then end up freaking cold again even though the sun was shining brightly. At least she hadn't been one of the ones using the horse manure to fertilize the fields.
Still, she wished she could go back and smack everyone who had ever worked at Disney for being big fat liars about what being a Princess entailed. Cause this, so not in any movie she'd ever seen. Even Arwen had spent the day out in the orchards helping to get the spots for the new saplings ready.
Though she had looked a lot less dirty and grubby, even in pants, when the Elleth had come to force feed her a massive picnic style lunch.
Which so wasn't fair.
She kept trudging up the stone path cut into the side of the hill, her boots squelching the whole way. How the hell had she gotten mud in there? They went up to her knees!
Must not think about it. Must ignore. If she focused on it she was only going to get more grumpy. But at least she wasn't tired and grumpy. Just muddy, wet, sweaty, cold and stinky.
“Hiril Raina, manen nalyë?” a look up. Oh goody. The Prince. Legolas. And she looked like she'd gone swimming in that stupid mud hole. (Lady Raina, how are you?)
She stopped and the eyebrows went up. She was so not channeling Elrond. Or her naneth. Honestly. “Muddy.”
“What have you been doing?” he looked honestly amused and interested. Freaky.
“Irrigation trenches.” her boots were still squelching as she shifted her weight.
Now he looked confused. “That is not the duty of a lady.”
Sardonic smile. Her boots were squelching, she looked like she'd been mud wrestling and the cold was really starting to seep in. “I'll remember that if I ever decide to act like a lady for more than an hour.” she moved past him and up the steps. She needed a bath.
She didn't miss the surprised look on his face but the smile that came after was another matter.
***Feedback and reviews are love. If you want to see something say so now. Especially for the sequel. I'm outlining it now.