The Bard 2
Dedicated to Zoe – her birthday present
Summary: Two lonely souls find each other
Disclaimer: Not mine. Not none of it.
Notes: Thanks to CinnammonGrrl - she’s the best
Arwen found him waiting for her in her private chamber. He stood tall, gazing out the window across the plains, his hands clasped behind his back. She entered noiselessly, her elven grace masking her movements but somehow he heard her, perhaps sensed her and turned as she came to stand behind him. He inclined his head and wished her a good morning.
“I believe you wanted to speak of my lord Aragorn?” he said politely.
“Tell me of yourself first... how you came to be here... and then tell me of my husband.”
Tarna appeared with a maid following her, two trays loaded with fruit and jugs of wine. Giles waited until they had finished laying them out on a table near the fireplace where a gentle fire flickered, adding its warmth to the room. Arwen took a seat and Giles sat opposite her. She served him with her own hands, cutting the fruit for him and pouring the wine.
“The place I come from, Sunnydale, is a town. It is a very different place from here, very modern, all tall buildings and no trees. Saruman was obsessed with burning the forests and turning his back on the natural order of things. He devastated the beauty of Isenguard and, in many respects, Sunnydale is very similar. A beautiful place hidden behind ugly buildings, horseless carriages and electricity.”
“A power source my world uses. Not always good for the environment. I had friends and family, my status was that of Watcher.”
“In my world, there were demons, vampires, evil witches and wizards. Here, people are aware of the evil that roams the land – the orcs and goblins-- but in Sunnydale and the rest of the world, people remained blissfully unaware. But for the chosen few, the inhabitants of my world did not know that magic existed.”
Arwen could not believe her ears. A world that did not believe in magic? She could not comprehend such a place.
“As a Watcher, I had the responsibility to train and care for a Slayer.”
“A Slayer?” she inquired, gazing at him over the rim of her goblet.
He elaborated. “One girl in each generation is chosen to stand against the darkness, the oncoming tide of evil. The true title is ‘vampire slayer’, but Buffy? She wasn’t fussy. She pretty much dealt with anything that stood in her way. Vampires, demons, even a god on one occasion.”
“A god?” Then Arwen replayed Giles’ comments in her head. “Buffy?”
“I know. Hardly a name to strike fear into your opponents’ hearts. She was brave and funny, beautiful, and so intelligent…” His voice trailed away as he became lost in his thoughts. “I was so very proud of her.” he finished softly.
Arwen was struck by the look of longing on his face and asked tentatively, “You loved her?”
“As a father loves a daughter – she was everything a father and Watcher could hope for.” Giles sipped his wine and allowed himself to be lost among his memories for a moment before pulling himself back to reality.
“You mentioned a portal?”
“Usually Slayers and Watchers work together, just the two of them, but Buffy had devoted friends. Two of them, to begin with-- Xander and Willow-- and then others who were willing to fight beside her. Two girls named Anya and Tara, and Buffy’s younger sister, Dawn. Willow became a magic user, the term in my world is Wicca, but ‘witch’ describes her equally well. She became powerful. Too powerful – I didn’t realise, I should have kept a closer eye on her...”
“You were her teacher?” Arwen smiled at Giles. Of course he was a magic user, that would explain the frission of power she sensed from his presence.
“Not for long enough. I mentioned Buffy fought against a God. Glory-- that was the name of the God-- brought down the barriers between all the dimensions and Buffy, after defeating Glory, gave her life so that the barriers could go back up again.”
“She died?” Arwen was horrified. Despite her years of living among humans and even with the loss of her beloved husband, she still had trouble comprehending death.
“She died and passed away to what humans in my world call heaven. Paradise. Willow and Xander, in their naivety, dragged her out of heaven, mistakenly thinking that she was in hell.”
“Hell?” Arwen questioned curiously.
Giles smiled at her. He had forgotten that elves had no concept of hell or even heaven for that matter. He envied them deeply for that and tried to think of the best way to describe hell.
“Hell is a dimension that my world believes exists. It’s a mixture of Mordor and Mount Doom with everything evil you can possibly imagine.”
The horror on Arwen’s face was obvious and he hastened to comfort her.
“But we also believe in heaven. Which is the complete opposite of hell. It’s described as the place of the blessed, paradise, eternal rest. And that is where Buffy actually was.” A cloud passed over Giles’ face. “Until she was pulled out.”
“How did they do that?”
“It was Willow. She performed a spell which literally dragged Buffy out of paradise and back to Earth.”
Silence fell in the room as Arwen tried to understand why someone would do such a thing. She stared at Giles mutely, and he shrugged.
“I wasn’t there. I left them and returned to another part of my world called England. With Buffy dead, I had no real need to be in Sunnydale. I did not think – it didn’t even occur to me that Willow would do something so stupid.”
“She was very powerful.”
“She thought magic could solve everything,” Giles sighed. “Willow had a lover, the girl I mentioned earlier – Tara. Tara was killed brutally in front of Willow, who lost control completely. She delved into the dark magics of my world to gain her revenge on Tara’s killer.”
“What happened next?” Arwen whispered softly, entranced by his tale.
“The magic users that I knew in England contacted me and told me that a great evil had arisen in Sunnydale. They knew that I had been there and as soon as they told me, I realised who it was. I prayed it wasn’t her, but I knew it was.”
Giles rose and paced the floor rubbing the bridge of his nose and fidgeting with his fingers.
“The coven, the group of magic users I knew, imbued me with their power – good magic – and I teleported to Sunnydale. I managed to reach there in time to see Willow taking out her anger on Buffy, her best friend. I managed to hold her with magical bonds, but she broke free. She had sent a fireball after Dawn and Xander and Buffy went after it, trying to get there first. I faced Willow alone.”
Giles ceased his restless pacing and fidgeting and came to stand before the fire. His green eyes stared into the flickering flames as he relived those moments. Had he even realised the kind of power that Willow had already possessed, he might have thought twice about challenging her. She took the power the coven had given him without a second thought and with the flick of a wrist opened a portal to get rid of him permanently.
“Can’t have you hanging around causing trouble,” she’d leered. He lamented the loss of her innocence and remembered the vampire Willow, the callousness and cruelty she had displayed. Shuddering at the thought of his own Willow falling so far, he wished he knew what had become of Buffy and what had happened since he had been forcefully ejected from his world.
Arwen sat silently as he poured out his story, barely pausing for breath. The compassion and sorrow twisted in her heart and she could not help but stand and lay a gentle hand on his shoulder.
Green eyes stared into blue and he saw nothing but grief and unhappiness and sympathy in her lovely eyes. He blinked away the tears that suddenly threatened and allowed himself to fall back into the chair.
“And that is how I am here. I awoke somewhere on the edge of the Lorien Forest and was found by the elves who treated me with cautious courtesy. I was conveyed to the Lord Celeborn and the Lady Galadriel. They extended all of their powers but could not find a way home for me. I accompanied Gandalf to Rivendell on one occasion and met your father but even the power of the two of them could not summon up enough magic to look into my world, let alone open up a portal to send me home.”
“I did not meet you during that time,” Arwen said “Nor when I was residing in Lothlorien.”
Giles shook his head. “All I wanted was to get home. I was not interested in meeting people. After your father told me there was no option but for me to get used to living in this world, I went on a long journey. I travelled for a long time, and when I returned to Lothlorien the Lord Celeborn commented that I looked no older than when I had left. I had no idea that over forty years had passed while I had wandered the length and breadth of this realm.”
“Forty years? You are half-elven then?” Arwen asked, amazed.
“I am human, through and through. But I believe that time passes slower in the land I come from than it does here. Hence I appear not to age at all.”
“Amazing,” Arwen breathed.
Giles shrugged carelessly. “The years pass slower and slower. I found myself in Rohan at the time when your husband was riding through with the elf and the dwarf. It was Eomer of the Mark who persuaded me to join them and from then on I fought proudly at his side.”
“Tell me of him,” Arwen pleaded.
Giles spent the rest of the morning telling Arwen of Aragorn’s exploits in battle. She caught her breath as Giles re-enacted Aragorn’s skilful swordplay – he was a true storyteller and neither of them noticed that the sun had set until there was a quiet knock on the door and Tarna entered with more food for them.
Tarna took the opportunity to assess her mistress and was pleased to see that her eyes were lit with laughter and Arwen’s pleasant laugh could be heard from the other end of the corridor.
The two talked well into the night, Giles sometimes playing for her and Arwen singing elven songs for him. She told him of how she had first met Aragorn, her memories of him, how confused and bewildered and uncertain he had been before he had left Rivendell and how proud she was of the king he had become.
The moon was high in the sky when Giles took his leave of her but she did not let him go without his promise that he would return. He gave her the promise gladly and Arwen slept peacefully that night, her dreams filled with thoughts of her beloved husband, the images vivid in her mind from the stories Giles had told.
His “week” turned into a month, which turned into a season, and the two of them were often seen together. He became her companion but there was never any suggestion of anything untoward about their relationship. He was always courteous to her both in public and in private, and they came to consider each other good friends.
”I plan to leave here soon.” Arwen’s statement did not surprise Giles as she had intended.
“To return to Rivendell?” he asked casually as he framed a chord on the lute he was playing.
“I think not. Lothlorien beckons me.”
“It is a beautiful place.”
“The twilight of my years is upon me, Giles. I need the old familiar places and the softness of the forests.”
“You are as lovely as you have always been,” he complimented her. “I heard of your beauty from Aragorn and I thought, at the time, he exagerated but he did not.
“I am named for the Evenstar.” Arwen smiled into his eyes. “I think it is time for me to fade.”
Giles had never forgotten that Arwen had given up her immortality to be with Aragorn, but she had still had a longer lifespan than most. He hated to think that his friend would slip through his fingers and he would be alone again.
Not entirely alone, he amended. There was also that elf and dwarf who came wandering through every so often, Legolas and Gimli. Perhaps he could tag along with them at some point.
“I will accompany you, my lady,” he offered. “There are still bandits on the road.”
Arwen smiled at him. “Your company would be most welcome.”