The Woman In Green
FIRST KNIGHT BY ASHA DREAMWEAVER
: I own nothing but the plot. Summary
: BtVS/LotR. Buffy gets sent to Middle Earth to help bring down Sauron. Her duty, like the Istari, is not to confront Sauron directly but to help those fated to face him bring him down. More specifically she’s to help the King of Gondor get on his throne. Will Arwen and Aragorn’s love stand against the shadow? Will Legolas be able to keep a secret, that if revealed, could shatter the lives of those he cares for? Will Buffy be able to fulfil her duty? Will Denethor be able to put aside his animosity for the man who would supplant him? Will the ringbearer reach Mount Doom, or will he be cut down before he reaches his goal? And will Boromir resist the lure of the ring? A/N:
And FYI, Thorongil is Aragorn in disguise, for all those who didn’t know. CHAPTER TWO: THE WOMAN IN GREEN
2971. Minas Tirith.
Buffy spent over nine months being put through rigorous training by Elrond, who seemed to be quite fond of her, but still all too willing to give her more work in her time with him than she had received in all her years of High School.
At last though, she had been deemed skilled enough to heal professionally. An accomplishment she was rather proud of, considering what she had to put up with. Elladan and Elrohir could be just way
too annoying when they put their minds to it. And apparently they missed having an Edain to play with, so in absence of their little brother, she was the one that got pranked in his stead.
It was a view that had exposed the twins to many a slayerly rage in the time she had spent there. Elrond didn’t bother correcting him, stating that it was good exercise for the twins and that he found it an altogether too amusing sight when Buffy chased his wayward sons through the valley.
She had been sad leaving the Elvish haven, knowing that her time of respite had come to an end and that she would now have to embroil herself not only in wars, but in that dratted topic that was politics.
Elrond had given her much advice on how to pass through the world of Men and how to actually be taken on as a healer in Gondor’s capital city. So she had travelled to and fro to small villages and had practiced and after gaining a sufficient amount of experience and a steadily growing reputation amongst the people of Lossarnach that she had helped, she now journeyed to the Houses of Healing in Minas Tirith.
Her horse, a gift (or more like an apology) from the diabolical twins, was a frisky mare who the twins swore had a temperament as hotheaded as herself. They had barely ducked the knife aimed at their heads.
‘Fireball’, as she was named, was quite good friends with Buffy. For a horse anyway. After all, when good ol’ Glorfindel, (who had so tried to edge in on her
title! What was a Balrog anyway? One demon, big whoop! She
was the Slayer! Not some upstart little Noldo!) had shown her how to train Fireball to be… unfriendly to all people not Buffy. The first time that Elrohir had tried to put some very sticky honey (‘all the better to glue you with, my dear’ was his reason) on Buffy’s saddle, Fireball had bucked him into a pond, thereby cementing Buffy’s good opinion of her. Plus, Elrohir’s face had been priceless!
So here she was riding into Minas Tirith, riding in these things called divided skirts, which she could only imagine (and shudder at) trying to slay in. Of course, they were really cute and pretty. And she may be a warrior but she was female, and most definitely liked pretty clothes. And Elrond (and her bestest buddy Arwen) had given her plenty of pretty clothes. Of course, that probably had had something to do with her arrival in Rivendell…
Galadriel had seen to it that she had an ‘escort’ to Rivendell, comprising of Haldir and his brothers. Buffy had grumbled about not needing protection, but Galadriel had said that she would most definitely need directions and that not even a slayer could handle a whole company of orcs if they assaulted her along the way. As per usual, she was right. So Buffy had given in.
By the time they rode into Rivendell, Buffy had been sick to death of travelling, desperately wishing for a bath and ready to lop off a few ever too cheerful Elven heads if they dared to sing that blasted travelling song in her presence again!
So as she jumped down from the back of Haldir’s horse, her own having gone lame a couple of miles back, she was not in the best of tempers. Not to mention that she was struck temporarily mute by the beauty of the Elven valley. It was just wow! Completely different from the Golden Wood but still wow. And then Haldir led her into the Last Homely House, (more palace than house in Buffy’s opinion) where Lord Elrond and his family were waiting for her.
Naturally, she came as a shock. People seemed to think that people as short as her couldn’t be much of a warrior. So a grumpy, travel-rumpled Buffy wasn’t what they had expected. Why did all Elves have to be so tall? She’d inwardly complained, it just wasn’t fair. But she’d been blown away by the House of Elrond. Those identical twins were real hotties! Troublesome hotties by reputation, but still scrumptious. She’d probably have some fun sparring with them and tossing them about. And their sister, the Evenstar, fairest of all the she-Elves in Middle Earth, dressed immaculately and serene of face, made Buffy feel like Attila the Hun in comparison.
Still, Elrond had been surprisingly nice (even if shocked that she hadn’t been all ‘Milord’ and curtsying, which equated to no manners in this world) and as Arwen led her away to her new rooms, Buffy thought that maybe this return to being a student mightn’t be so bad after all…
2971. Minas Tirith.
Buffy had been forced to stable Fireball in the first circle, horses not being allowed in the upper circles except for soldiers, traders and nobles etc. No such thing as democracy here.
So hefting her dark green skirts, nicely slashed with cream, so that she could both walk quickly and keep them out of the dirt, she trudged her way through the white city. She had only gotten to the fourth circle when trouble found her.
She’d been walking away, minding her own business, when this thrice-damned somewhat crazed horse had decided to come charging at her. Dodging it in a rather ungainly fashion, and landing on her rump after banging into a moving wagon, she was then nearly stomped on by a soldier in the black and silver livery of the citadel, who was running in pursuit of the horse. The horse, the smug little thing, had accomplished its mission and was now prancing about and chewing on some hay on the back of a wagon.
Buffy eyed the great beast distrustfully, at it stomped its foot and pawed the ground impatiently as it munched, wondering if it would be proper revenge to ‘accidentally’ help it get lost in a bog. A very deep bog. Another man clad in the uniform of a warrior of Gondor, and with a rather nice brooch on his cloak, ran up to her, looking somewhat mortified, “My lady! Are you well?!” he asked, even as he tried to help her up.
Buffy didn’t get much choice to accept the hand up as he just yanked but snatching her hand back, she brushed the dirt off her dress and gathered her things, “Some of us leave our horses in the outer circle,” she snapped, wondering how the idiot had gotten his steed in her when she hadn’t.
“I apologise for this accident, my Lady,” the soldier said contritely, dark hair falling into his eyes and partly hiding his face, “The horse is not yet broken in and is prone to fits of temper.”
Buffy’s glare darkened as she inspected the long cut, complete with splinter, stuck in her arm and the soldier shifted his feet nervously under her gaze before he realised what he was doing and straightened up to eyeball her back.
“Where do you go my Lady?” the guard asked, taking in the richly crafted garments provided for her by the Elves and assuming her to be nobility.
“I seek the Houses of Healing. It is in the sixth circle I believe.”
The soldier nodded, “Of course my Lady, you will want that cut seen to. As I am partly at fault, may I offer to accompany you to the Healing Houses and then on to your original destination?” he asked.
Buffy had to admit that this chivalry thing seemed to be everywhere. “I am
a healer,” she said frostily, “Hence me going to the Houses of Healing. And I don‘t need a babysitter.” She resisted the urge to tack the word ‘numbskull’ onto it. Barely.
The soldier actually had the gall to smirk, “Forgive me if I seem imprudent but it is rather ironic when the healer needs healing.”
“And forgive me if I seem sarcastic, but shouldn’t a big bad soldier be able to control a horse
? Or are you one of those men who just scream and run at the sight of danger?” She punctuated her words with an obnoxiously sweet smile and the man bristled.
“I am no soldier,” the man had said icily, grey eyes burning with anger, and some small hint of amusement, “You mock a Captain.”
Buffy’s hand flew up to her mouth, “Whoops. I’m so
scared.” she drawled, “Now if you could just move on out of my way, I might be able to get where I’m going sometime in the next age. After all, I’m sure you’ve got time enough to run down a few dozen more women before dinner.” Breezing by him, she resumed her trudging and muttered under her breath about the stupidity of men.
As the strange blonde woman walked away, Captain Thorongil of Gondor, also known as Strider of the Dúnedain and Aragorn, son of Arathorn, wondered if he’d missed something. No one in Gondor had talked to him that way, let alone a petite little woman that didn’t come up to his shoulder! Who did she think she was? She reminded him of his brothers in a strange way, what with their love of riling him with taunts and pranks. As Gutram led the troublesome horse in his direction, he shrugged himself out of his musing and back to duty. He’d probably never see her again anyway.
The Houses of Healing were large and airy, and the smell of herbs assaulted Buffy as she entered. Pushing back her light dust-cloak, she was approached by a young woman with dark brown hair. “Greetings, my Lady,” she said with a curtsy, “I am Ioreth. How may I be of service?” Blue eyes took in the cut on her arm, “Oh! Forgive me, it must be that cut you want tended!”
Buffy shook her head, “No, I am come to work as a healer. I am Eliza of Lossarnach. I believe I am expected.”
Ioreth’s eyes widened, “Oh, I’m terribly sorry. ‘Tis not often we have a Lady working as a healer. But I still must see to that cut.”
Again, Buffy waved her off. After all, the cut would heal in less than half an hour thanks to good old fashioned slayer healing abilities. She really didn‘t want to have to explain that so soon. “There’s no need. I can do it myself. If you could just take me to the person in charge here…”
“Of course,” Ioreth said, bobbing yet another curtsy. What was wrong with these people? Buffy thought, they must get a pain in their backs from all this bowing.
Ioreth led her to a rather matronly looking woman called Ethelle, with more grey in her hair than black, and a stern look. She surveyed Buffy with a critical eye, “A bit younger than I had expected,” she said, “But I’ve heard good things about you. You will start here tomorrow and ‘twill be best if you find lodgings close to the Houses. You will have to tell me the address so that you may be found if you are needed. With those blasted Corsairs terrorising our men, everyone must be prepared.”
Buffy nodded, pirates, just her luck. Did they have eye patches like the movies, she wondered. “Is it true that the companies are in need of field Healers?” she asked.
Ethelle sighed, “Rather desperately, I’m afraid. But men so seldom come to train as healers that there are too few for every company to have one.”
“Are the women not allowed go?” Buffy asked curiously.
“By the Valar, no!” Ethelle exclaimed, “All field healers must be able to defend themselves in battle, and what well-bred woman would know how to wield a sword?”
We’ll see about that, Buffy thought. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow then,” she said as she left, already planning to get appointed as a field healer to whatever company dear ol’ Aragorn was in.
Buffy found quarters in the sixth circle, a rather nice suite of apartments. They’d do the job and that was all that was really necessary. She was still reeling from the loss of plumbing, central heating, electricity and running water. The Elven realms were nice, at least they had come up with running water, some clever ways to heat it and these cool little lamps called glow-bulbs that didn’t need oil or candles.
Unfortunately, the cities of Men had none of these things. And poor Buffy was trying to learn how to do a thousand and one things on her own that had been rendered obsolete in her world for the past few centuries. Chamber pots were just eugh! Not to mention that the burning of petticoats had been a very good thing in Buffy’s opinion. They only thing they were good for was providing more places to hide her weapons. Still, all this stuff was called ‘acting like a lady’. Something Elrond had put great store in, much to her dismay…
Elrond stared down at the petite woman in front of him. This
was who Galadriel had sent to protect Estel? This
was the Valar’s choice? Eru must have been running out of warriors, Elrond thought in annoyance. He knew all too well that his son in all but blood wouldn’t accept a woman protector, yet alone one so small. And if he had the right view on Buffy’s (or was it Aralle’s? Celeborn really had been quite insistent on that name) temper, when she and Aragorn met, Sauron wouldn’t have to bother trying to kill the rightful King, this slayer would probably do it for him.
Still, there was yet hope. He had dealt with multitudes of scruffy, muddy and most often foul-smelling Dúnedain in his life. And if one could manage to get their chieftain into garments more fitting to his station, then he could handle the education of one woman. After all, Arwen would help him. If he could just keep Elladan and Elrohir from corrupting the slayer, he might just make it happen.
Looking over her, he could see the skill of a veteran warrior in her movements. That got a nod. Unfortunately her attire didn’t get the same approval. Travel-stained and rumpled breeches and tunic, quiver still strung across her back, knives and sword still belted around her hip. She didn’t know how to curtsey, obviously didn’t like using titles and had a rather… interesting vocabulary that was baffling at the best of times. And he had to make her look, act and speak as befitting a Lady of rank? And train her in the healing arts on top of it? His august second-mother had given him quite the challenge. Still, at least one born from magic as she was shouldn’t have too much trouble with healing. As long as she stopped inflicting wounds long enough to learn that was.
Still, Elrond Eärendilion, Scion of Lúthien, Herald to Gil-galad, Lord of Imladris, was not one to give up on anyone. If he had survived Oropher of Greenwood’s tantrums and tempers during the Last Alliance, he could stand against any this girl could throw at him. Plus, he had Vilya. If that wasn’t an advantage, what was?
Studying her with a critical eye, he noted the long blonde hair, sharp hazel eyes and elegant figure. There was potential there alright. Now, all he had to do was convince her of that.
Buffy had lost her patience with this little staring contest. “You gonna stand there all day like a statue or are you actually going to say something?”
Elrond winced at the language, “You are now in my charge, Lady Slayer, and before you leave this valley I will have made sure you can pass for Middle Earth born.”
Buffy’s hands slid down to rest on her hips from where she had had them folded across her chest, “Whadya mean Mr Elf?”
Elrond rolled his eyes, “I see you have no concept on how to behave as a Lady.” he observed.
Buffy glared at him, “Not exactly from this world, buddy.” Really, you would think one so supposedly wise would know that.
“Then it seems it is to be left to me to show you how to be one, before Ecthelion throws you out for insulting all his people!”
Buffy’s head cocked to one side, “Ecthelion’s the steward guy, right?” In the background, Elrond could hear Glorfindel laughing at him and he vowed right then and there that Buffy would be fit to audience with a Queen (or a King as the case may be) if he had to threaten to lock her in a room with Elladan and Elrohir, with her tied up and them loaded with honey, glue and various sticky and slimy substances.
Elrond grabbed the surprised slayer’s hand and hauled her off deeper into the house, calling for Erestor to fetch Arwen, prepare a bath, and a fire (for the clothes she had on) and to find the dressmaker. Within minutes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who had faced down countless demons, ghosts, Hell Gods, vampires and werewolves with nary a blink was trying not to cower as a whole swarm of household staff descended on her, all intent on making her ‘presentable’…
And so began Buffy’s education as a lady…
Oh, she’d learned all to well. She might not be able to bash every rude or condescending man over the head like she wished. But she could do better. A few little words to their wives, or betrothed or lovers. Or field commanders.
Or she could just be mean and have them hauled in for a ‘check-up’.
The very thought made her smile rather evilly.
"One often calms one's grief by recounting it." -Pierre Corneille
Alone amongst a small copse of mellyrn trees, Buffy Summers, furiously beat upon the punching bag that had been made at her request and hung in this sheltered grove in respect of her privacy. Her eyes were suspiciously bright due to repressed tears as she let her raging emotions find an outlet.
In all her long years upon the earth, Galadriel had counselled many but seldom had she seen many humans which such cares weighing upon them and such a horrific past. In truth, she knew little of Buffy’s past, the slayer being unwilling to speak of it, and what she did know came from flashes in her mirror, each one more incomprehensible than the last.
The girl’s plight tugged at her heart. There had been no children born to the Elves for centuries, their fading was upon them and the call of the forbidden West grew ever louder to her ears. She had not sought out someone like this since Arwen’s last visit. And even Arwen had never had such nightmares, even after dear Celebrían sailed.
“Buffy,” she called softly, and the girl spun to face her, eyes wet, face flushed and poised to fight. When she saw the Elf she relaxed, but there was a certain wariness around her still. “Your grief will not be assuaged by trying to beat it to death,” she said with only the faintest trace of amusement, “Will you not unburden yourself to me? I would know what horrors disturb your sleep and make you old before your time.”
“You don’t want to know my life,” Buffy replied, looking away from her, “It’s not exactly been a bundle of fun.”
“You cannot leave this wood with a death wish engraved on your heart. You did not come here to die. You were sent here to live.”
Buffy laughed bitterly, “To live where? Doing what? I’m gonna spend the rest of my life babysitting people? I’m in a world that puts loads of importance on titles, lands, being part of some kingdom or another, and what have I? Nothing, that’s what. And the PTB just expect me to take it like some well-trained puppy. I didn’t bow down to the Watchers Council, I’m not going to do it for some stupid… somethings
that want to make my life a living hell!”
“Did you ever consider that they sent you because they valued your skills?” Galadriel asked softly, “I have never known the Valar to be deliberately cruel and Tulkas, is a great champion for warriors such as yourself.”
“All they’ve ever done for me is curse me,” Buffy said, “And give out when I don’t follow the rules.”
Galadriel’s fabled foresight came to her in a flash of insight, “You left your world without settling matters,” she stated, “I cannot see it clearly but there was some trouble between you and your family. And some sort of.. mutiny amongst those you were charged to lead.”
Sharp hazel bored into jewel blue, “Do I even want to know how you do that?” she said somewhat shakily, “But I gotta give you marks for accuracy.”
Galadriel moved lightly across the distance between them, put a comforting arm around Buffy as the slayer sank to the ground to sit in a dejected heap, fighting back the feelings she had kept bottled up for nearly two weeks. “You were betrayed,” Galadriel said softly, “Betrayed by those you loved most, and those you who had tried to save. ‘Twas a cruel blow. Even worse when done by blood against blood.”
Pictures of Dawn, Giles and the scoobies flashed through her mind. “They wanted Faith to lead them. She killed a man, tried to kill them, was in jail and they still chose her.” Buffy said, her voice cracking on the last few words.
“That was not all, was it?” Galadriel asked, tucking a stray strand of Buffy’s hair behind her ear.
The mental dam that she’d erected to hold out her feelings about that day was wavering, being hammered and chipped by every word the she-Elf spoke. And then as sure as if she had bombed it, the dam burst into a million shards and the resulting flood left Buffy vulnerable and reeling.
The long withheld tears streamed down her face, and her story began to pour from her in between choking sobs and all through it all, Galadriel held her and comforted her, like her mother used to do when she was little and the biggest thing she’d had to worry about was the dog chewing on her teddy bear.
“It’s not fair!“ she choked out, “I protected them, I saved their lives, I died for them twice
and they still betrayed me! My own sister didn’t want me!” Visions of Xander’s patched eye, Giles’ disappointed expression, the accusing looks on the Potentials, the unforgiving grimness of Willow and the blunt blame of Anya, all topped off by the detached expression on Dawn’s face as she told her that she was being kicked out, that she had killed people, that they didn’t want her anymore and that they thought she thought she was better than them. All those accusations being reeled off one after another, giving her no chance to recover from the first sucker punch she’d been dealt.
“Maybe they were right. It was my fault the Master got loose, my fault that Jenny and Kendra died, my fault that Angelus came back. All because I wasn’t thinking like a slayer’s supposed to. It’s my fault Xander lost his eye, and my fault all those Potentials died and my fault that the First could even free itself in the first place! I was better off dead. All I do is bring the Reaper with me wherever I go.” Buffy sobbed, fat tears dripping down her face as she clung to the Elf in her pain. Her heart felt raw and bruised, dripping big great bloody tears of pain that wouldn’t leave her alone.
“The burdens of leadership are hard. And those who must fight the wars of their time are doubly pressed. Do not blame yourself for what was not within your control. Your witch friend brought you back from the dead against all reason, and loosed the First. ‘Tis not your fault. You had no choice in the matter,” Galadriel said soothingly, smoothing her hands through Buffy’s hair, “Do not take all the cares of the world upon your shoulders.”
She grasped Buffy’s hands and held them in her own, “And you do not have nothing. The blessings of the Elves shall always go with you and you shall always have a home in Lórien. The past is in the past. Your family and friends made their choice, but what is over is over. There is nothing you can do know if you dwell on it but make yourself ill. You have the chance to start over here, to build something that is yours alone and when your duty is dispatched to live in peace if you wish. This is a world full of warriors, the loss of one after the war is over will not change things. The Slayer can be left behind with your past, and Buffy can live without its burden.”
At Buffy’s puzzled expression, she elaborated, “There has never been a slayer here before. What vampires there were disappeared in the first age and the War of Wrath was the end of many of the demons of this world. A slayer was never needed here before. It is not needed. Buffy the woman is needed and if you should decide, you can hang up your mantle in this world, without ever being forced to reclaim it if you do not wish. You need not die young as was your fate before. I am not without influence with the Valar and I will not let your burdens be acknowledged without reward.”
Blue eyes filled with all the wisdom of the ages locked onto her younger companion’s. “You can't change the past.... but you can change the future..” Galadriel whispered. “I see much strength in you and in your future there shall be bountiful happiness if one is ready to seize it. Nai tiruvantel ar varyuvantel i Valar tielyanna nu vilya
And for the first time in a long while, Buffy allowed herself to hope…
2971. Minas Tirith.
Captain Thorongil walked into the houses of healing cursing that rabid horse he’d been saddle with (and who had landed a very successful kick on him). Why oh why couldn’t they have just bought horses from the Rohirrim like he’d suggested? At least, they all came broken.
Nursing his aching and possibly sprained wrist, he was directed into an empty examining room and told that someone would be with him in just one minute, if it pleased the captain to wait.
All thoughts of the pain went out of his head when a very familiar blonde figure walked in and stopped dead as she caught sight of him. “Well, well, well, look what the horse dragged in…” she quipped and then fixed him with a stern glare. “Are we regretting making fun of me earlier my dear over-arrogant captain?”
Aragorn forced himself not to ask the Valar if he’d done something to displease him to set this wench on him yet again. “My Lady, I did beg your forgiveness and would consider the matter closed if you would just tend to my injury and forgo the temptation to insult me.”
She smiled somewhat sinisterly, in his opinion at least, “Of course I'd like to help you out. Which way did you come in?” she said cheerfully.
Aragorn decided politeness was going to get him nowhere, “It is you duty as a healer to tend to the wounded. Or would you have me go to the one who pays you and suggest that you be released from service?”
The woman didn’t even look at him, instead she went to a nearby supply cupboard and started taking some things out. “Are you deaf woman?” he snapped.
“I'm not deaf.... I'm just ignoring you,” she replied and started mixing together a tonic to repel infection.
“May I at least have the pleasure of your name so I can know who am I about to get dismissed?”
“It’s Eliza,” she said icily, “And who are you besides ‘not a soldier but a captain’?”
“My name is Thorongil.” he said and was puzzled to see her nearly drop the next sachet of herbs.
Buffy nearly had a heart attack when the guy said ‘Thorongil’. That was Aragorn, son of Arathorn’s alias. The guy she had to protect was a moron. Looking him over, she decided that if he shaved, washed and brushed his hair, cleaned up somewhat and stopped scowling, he’d probably look like the guy she’d been shown.
But could they have gotten off to a worse start? she grumbled. She mightn’t have been so rude and Cordelia-like if she’d known she was gonna have to work with him. It was high time to start the lash-batting that Elrond had had her practice.
Moving over to him, she handed him the tonic with an order to drink it and started probing his hand. Looking him over, she said, “Looks like you’ve got a sprained wrist,” she said as she rubbed a poultice over it and swiftly bandaged it, “Is this your sword hand?” she asked.
He shook his head, “I use my right hand mostly for swordwork.”
“Well, no two handed sword play until this heals. And I wouldn’t recommend going with any company until it is either.” she warned, “Don’t make me label you off-duty due to injury.”
Aragorn eyed her warily. Why had she stopped jumping down his throat? “Then I am fit to go, Lady?” he asked , taking advantage of her sudden good temper. Women, he knew, were as predictable as a storm. You never knew where their fury was going to land.
“Yes, but no exertion on that hand,” she answered. As he left, she wondered exactly how she was gonna get in his good books so that she could watch his back. She only hoped that she wouldn’t have to act like some airhead to get his attention or else she’d end up killing someone, preferably him, before too long.
Buffy walked through the gardens of Rivendell with Arwen, enjoying her company. It was nice to have a girl friend again. Galadriel could be considered one too she supposed, but the Lady of the Wood was almost too majestic to be thought of in such terms, and tended to take over the role of mentor to Buffy at times.
With Arwen, things were less complicated. At first slightly intimidated by the beautiful Evenstar, things had quickly blossomed into friendship between them during Elrond’s ‘make-Buffy-into-a-respectable-Lady’ campaign.
They were comparing previous dating disasters and musing on what they wanted in the perfect guy. If such a creature existed.
“Well, the supposed love of my life was a vampire who turned into a monster when he lost his soul, which was when he was with me. I think it would be fairly hard to top that disaster.” Buffy said flippantly, her heart no longer hurting when she thought of Angel. Not even a twinge of regret. She was over him at last. And it felt good.
“’Twould be hard,” Arwen agreed, her arm laced comfortably with Buffy’s as they circled the gardens, “But I would not despair yet. You are young and mayhap you will find what you have been looking for here in Middle Earth.”
Buffy sighed, “Not likely to happen when I have to play minder to a man who’s probably going to try and get rid of me once he finds out.”
“I would not think Aragorn so unreasonable, and I have asked my brothers.”
“You haven’t met him?”
“I was residing in Lórien when he was brought here and he had left before I returned. I have not yet met him as a man, though I have seen him as an infant.”
“Enough talk about the wannabe king, what about you Arwen? When are you going to settle down?”
“I have yet to meet someone who catches my interest for long,” Arwen said, “But I am of the Eldar and the one meant for me might be in the West.”
“You’ll choose an immortal life, then?” Buffy asked.
“I have no reason to choose a mortal life,” Arwen said with a smile, “And I shall sail with my father when he goes.”
“Must be nice to not grow old. Me, I’m gonna get grey and wrinkly while you’re the same as now.” Buffy said. “Usually Buffy and immortals don’t mix. Just look at the Angel saga. But as I’m not angling to date you or anyone in your family, I think we can avoid that issue.”
Arwen smiled somewhat sadly, “I doubt it will come to that, my friend, as you have said no slayer ever grows old. They are slain far too soon. Grey hair will most likely not be your fate. A war is brewing as has not been seen since the last Age, and whether any of use shall live to see its end is uncertain.”
“Don’t worry your little head about it,” Buffy assured her, “I’ll whip Aragorn into shape, whether he likes it or not and then we should have a shot.”
“Your optimism is refreshing Buffy,” Arwen said happily, “My mother would have liked you very much. As I and the rest of my family do. Know that I consider you a sister of the heart, and I shall ask the Valar to grace you so long as you wander Middle Earth.”
Buffy’s heart skipped a beat, and a warm glow filled her. Giving in to the moment, she hugged Arwen and idly noted that Galadriel had indeed been right. She was picking up a family and friends as she went along and suddenly the world didn’t seem so bad.
2971. The Citadel. Minas Tirith.
Squaring her shoulders as the servant announced her, Buffy prepared herself for one over-healthy dose of male egos. Elrond’s favourite admonishment, ‘Act like a Lady, for Eru’s sake, not a drunken ranger!’ ran through her head like a mantra. She’d never been able to ‘behave’ around arrogant males (*cough* Quentin Travers) and she tried to keep her ‘unruliness’ (that came courtesy of Celeborn) in check.
As she was motioned to enter, she tried not to gawk at the sights. Of course, having lived in two Elven realms for a while really had dimmed the wow factor of other places quite a bit but the massive throne above the Steward’s seat was mighty impressive. Elves didn’t seem to go in for all the gilded shiny thrones Men liked, probably something to do with them doing the whole scary glowy thing that made them light bulbs look dim.
She resisted the urge to grown softly as she approached the grey-haired steward and saw Aragorn and some other guy in the room as well. All the more people to witness her imminent humiliation. At least she’d had experience acting like a wimpy little eighteenth century maiden when Ethan Rayne had spelled the Halloween costumes to change the personality of the wearer into whatever they were wearing all that time. All that screaming had given her a sore throat though.
Curtsying without tripping over her feet, (Elrond had made her practice it over and over again - the sadist), she spoke quietly but distinctly, “My Lord, I have come to petition you to allow me to join the field healers so I may serve Gondor to the best of my abilities.” (long-winded speeches came courtesy of the Lord of Lossarnach, who loved
to talk, the windbag.)
Aragorn was surprised once more to run into Eliza. In fact, he’d been rather glad to escape her the last time. A woman who was almost as mercurial of temperament as the twins was bound to be trouble.
Seeing her here though, in a formal situation, with her holding herself with a quiet sense of dignity and self-possession that he wouldn’t have expected of her, he saw her in a different light. There was something there he recognised, no matter how much he had dismissed her before. Perhaps that knowledge was what had made him dismiss her out of hand in the first place. For all her youthfulness, Aragorn had sensed something kindred within her: a burden that rested on her shoulders, a knowledge that lives were in her hands.
Her request surprised him even more and he winced visibly at the very thought. The skirmishes with the Corsairs were bloody enough without throwing a screaming maiden into the mix.
The healer called Eliza stepped into the room and Denethor’s breath caught. She was short, graceful of motion and light of step, with long golden hair and sharp hazel eyes set in a pretty face. And his mouth nearly fell agape at her request. A woman in the midst of battles? Did she think herself some kind of Shield-maiden? ‘Twas madness!
His father, Ecthelion, looked her over grimly. “I think you misunderstand the danger involved,” he said sternly, “All field healers must be able to defend themselves. While healers are always welcome, you cannot expect any company to expend resources to keep you safe at the expense of a victory.”
“My Lord,” Eliza began, “I assure you I am not defenceless. My mother died when I was young and my father insisted that I learn to defend myself.” It was true in a way. Her mom had died way too young, leaving Buffy with Dawn, and Giles, her only real father figure, had thought her to fight.
His father’s eyebrow rose and he barely masked his own snort of disgust, did she really think to fool anybody? He would be surprised if she could lift a sword, let alone wield it! Beside him that thorn in his side Thorongil shifted, obviously expecting an outburst of some kind.
Eliza’s back straightened and her chin lifted in defiance, “My Lords, I assure you I am most capable. In fact, I would challenge any man here to test my skills and see whether I am lacking or not before my Lord Ecthelion passes his judgement.”
Denethor had to give her points for brazenness, “The Men of Gondor do not fight with women in such a way,” he said firmly, “The women of this realm are not trained to fight. That is a man’s duty.”
The healer’s hazel eyes tried to bore through him from beneath a mask of impassiveness, “Those who do not wield a blade may still die upon them,” she said with conviction. “I have been trained, I am no green apprentice. My blade has seen blood drawn with it and I demand my right to prove it and defend my honour against your accusations of incompetence!”
“And where have you drawn blood, as you put it, Lady Eliza?” his father asked in bemusement.
“Do you think all the roads I have travelled are safe from brigands?” she replied sassily, “I can hold my own. I only ask you to let me prove it.”
To his surprise, his father was silent for a moment before nodding, “Very well. You shall be tested. Let it not be known that the Steward besmirches a Lady’s honour through prejudice. I shall set you against my best swordsman and Captain, Thorongil. He hath served in King Thengel of Rohan’s service and hath seen Shield-maidens before.” Denethor bristled at his words. Once more, Thorongil was shown to be the favourite, the best, the most adored and successful captain of Gondor. And he, Denethor, Heir to the Steward, was once more overlooked.
Noting Thorongil’s intense study of the healer’s lithe form, a study that lacked the detachedness of one sizing up a contender, but that shone more of personal interest. So the famed captain might have an interest in the healer. He would see about that. Thorongil from nowhere, was no match for Denethor of Gondor, and if Thorongil wanted the healer, then he would make sure he would never have her. Thorongil would see Denethor, his better, have the favour of the Lady.
See if he wouldn’t.
Aragorn was surprised at the woman’s audaciousness. There were few who used that tone with the Steward or his son and got away with it unscathed. He watched, somewhat bemused, as she took the nondescript sword offered to her and swung it experimentally a few times. He noted the practiced, fluid motion in which she did it and knew she had not lied when she said she was skilled with a blade.
Pulling out his own sword, he stepped forward to face her in the middle of the room. “You do not have to do this,” he hissed out of the corner of his mouth.
Her eyes were hazel chips of ice, her stance ready as she hefted the blade, “Afraid captain?” she taunted, “Now, stop stalling.”
In an unbelievable quick movement, she had swung and he found himself bringing up his sword in an instinctive defensive manoeuvre. The swords met with the clash of steel.
And then she was moving again, circling him, blocking, parrying, thrusting with an ease and abandon that astonished him. One of her size shouldn’t be able to move so fast and strike with such strength, especially not in a skirt.
Aragorn was considered a skilled swordsman, having been trained by the best at Rivendell and he knew another master (or was it mistress?) of the blade when he saw one. She veritably danced around him, the movements of her sword like infinitesimal flashes of steel that one saw coming too late, if they saw it at all. If he had not been trained by the Elves, and used to their swiftness, nimbleness and skill with blades, he wouldn’t have lasted the first minute.
He had intended to go easier on her at first but as she tried, and almost succeeded to back him into a corner, he started putting all his skill and desire to win into the sparring session. She met him blow for blow, not the least bit fazed, her face as calm and serene (and miraculously not flushed) as if she was merely going for a stroll on a balmy day.
He swung, he ducked, he used every trick of the blade he knew and he held his own. He knew he had the advantage in reach of arm, and his hand had healed with the swiftness of the Númenóreans, so his two handed grip put more strength behind his blows. He was also unhampered by heavy skirts as he moved but she was still as fast as a flitting Elf on the run.
As swift as a snake striking at prey from its shelter in the grass, she changed tactics and started reigning blows down on him. Their eyes met and he stared at one he could call his equal in skill, if not his better. And he knew that if he met her as an enemy on a battlefield, at that moment he would have seen his death coming towards him in a golden blur. Her lips twitched slightly and she flashed a glance at Ecthelion and Denethor, who watched with jaws agape and wide eyes at their display of prowess, blocking his own strikes through instinct.
Eliza looked at him strangely, and then with a sly smile and a challenging look in her eyes, thrown in with some other feeling he could not identify, she slowed her movements and allowed him to gain the upper hand. They exchanged a few more parries and then she ‘accidentally’ tripped over her skirts and went down with his blade pointed at her throat.
As Denethor and Ecthelion lauded her efforts, and the Steward granted her leave to join whatever company she wished, Aragorn stared at her with narrowed eyes and a bruised ego. She had thrown that match deliberately and so help him, he was going to find out why.
“The big won’t beat the small – the fast will beat the slow.” – John Chambers
“I don’t think this is a good idea my friend,” Elrond said, with a concealed smile.
Glorfindel humped in annoyance, “Afraid that I will bruise the little upstart?” he said snidely. “She insulted my honour, questioned my intelligence and downright dismissed my fighting skills. I took down a Balrog. The Chief
Balrog. I shall not hesitate to deal with one woman.”
“She’s the descendant of a long line of mystical warriors.” Elrond reminded him.
“And I’m a reborn Elf. Who lived in the First Age when Morgoth was loose.” he retorted.
“Ah, well, I tried to warn you my friend.”
_*_ How it all started….
“I’m the Slayer!” Buffy exclaimed. “You have all the wring equipment to be a slayer buddy! Anyone ever bother to tell you that impersonation can get your butt kicked?”
“I am legendary!” Glorfindel retorted, “I died slaying the Chief of Balrogs and I was reborn! I have whole ages on you, you arrogant little girl!”
“Hah! Well I died and came back *twice*! So there Glorfy!” she taunted, “And by the way, I have slain demons in their thousands, so what are you bragging about, Mr ‘let’s-steal-my-title’?”
“I can best you any day!” Glorfindel roared, throwing down the gauntlet, and in the background, Elladan and Elrohir started to laugh.
“Prove it so, Mr. ‘I-have-an-emu-the-size-of-Argentina-stuck-up-my-ass’!” Buffy challenged.
And so the Balrog Slayer Vs Vampire Slayer battle was agreed upon…
As Glorfindel picked himself up off the ground for the third
time that hour, he grumpily mused that Elrond had been right. He hadn’t known what he had gotten into.
The Vampire Slayer was good, very good, excellent even. And while he was also excellent, he’d underestimated her and a woman scorned in general and so had spent much of the last hour being thrown around.
You see, Buffy wasn’t very fond of fighting with one weapon only. So she used hands, feet, and her sword to try to trounce him. In public, no less.
Spitting out a blade of grass, he advanced on her menacingly and got a roundhouse kick in the chest for his troubles. The girl was just too damn small to pin down! One minute she was there, the next she was not. And every single time he landed a blow on her, he had managed to punch her in the side at one stage, she just shrugged it off if she bothered to shrug at all.
About halfway through their little tête-à-tête, she cheerfully told him that she hadn’t slain anything in months and was so hyperactive that she was thanking him for being her private punching bag.
While he was getting thrown around quite a bit, she was tiring and he wasn’t so gentlemanly as to not take advantage of it. As he went in for the killing blow, she did a backflip come summersault and got behind him, promptly kicking his legs out from under him and dumping him hard on his back with her sword to his throat and her boot on his chest. “One rule of slayage,” she said idly, “Don’t fall for stupid bait.”
The twins laughter rang hard in his ears and his face burned as she let him up and he got to his feet. “Well, it seems I am bested.” he said.
“Yep,” Buffy agreed, “Don’t mess with the slayer Balrog Boy.”
And so a rather unusual friendship began as Elrond led them into the Hall of Fire for a well deserved cup of Miruvor…
2971. Minas Tirith.
Denethor approached Buffy as she left through the grand doors. “My Lady Eliza,” he greeted, “If I could speak with you a moment?”
“Of course my Lord,” she replied, wondering what he wanted.
“I would like to congratulate you again on you showing in there. It was exemplary.” he said.
“Thank you, my Lord. You are most kind.” God, how she hated this long-winded stuff, though to her horror, she found her traitorous tongue was actually getting used to it.
“My father would have me extend an invitation to the next ball to you. You carry yourself like a noblewoman even if you claim not to be one. My father felt that leaving one so charming out of such a gathering would be a great injustice to the city.”
“It would be my pleasure to attend, my Lord.” she answered, wondering if city’s parties had anything on the Elves. In Lossarnach, it had seemed to be more drinking than dancing as the preferred choice.
“Then I shall see you there, my Lady,” he said, giving her a slight bow as he walked away.
Buffy stared after him. Men, she muttered, always trying to throw you off balance. But there was something funny about that one, it was almost like he was int… Nah, what was she thinking?
There was no way that Galadriel or Elrond wouldn’t have warned her about something so likely to cause a political incident, (or to get Buffy’s head on the chopping block).
August 2970. Rivendell.
“Sometimes Lady,” Elrond said, “It is better to accept aid freely given than struggle on alone in an attempt to prove yourself strong.”
“You Elves really love the cryptic advice, don’t you?” Buffy quipped. Really though, they seemed to spend their time thinking up ways to leave you guessing.
“You go now to the world of Men, and by Eru I hope you shall succeed in your task. I see two paths for you. In one you scorn such aid and struggle on to your doom. In the other, you embrace what is offered and glory follows you.”
“Well, gee, that’s helpful. Any chance you could tell me what this all important choice is? ‘Cos I would really hate for it to be something small, like ‘hmmm, what shall I wear today?’ Because if it is, that sucks.”
“May the Valar protect you,” Elrond said with amusement, “Because that tongue of yours is going to get you into all sorts of trouble.”
“Trouble’s my speciality, Elrond. You should know that.” On impulse she hugged him, “Thanks for everything,” she said fondly.
Crossing to the twins, she gave them hugs as well, after ascertaining that they weren’t hiding anything icky in their pockets to try and shove down the back of her clothes. “Thanks for Fireball,” she told them, “Try not to burn anything down while I’m gone and make sure to tease Glorfindel for me.”
“’Tis as good as done, Buffy,” Elladan said with a grin.
“Any excuse to annoy ‘Balrog Boy’ must be taken,” Elrohir added, using Buffy’s nickname for the other Lord.
Arwen and she embraced as near-sisters, “Keep an eye on them,” she cautioned, “You never know when you’re gonna find a snake in your bed with them around.”
Arwen laughed softly, “How well I know that. Take care Buffy and may the light of Eärendil light your way.”
“And may you find the happiness you deserve, sis’,” Buffy said, “Take care while I’m gone. And if anybody gives you any trouble, just give me their name and I’ll kick their ass for you.”
Tinkling laugher followed her statement, “Thank you Buffy.”
The goodbyes were hard, but she knew that she would come back someday. And it wasn’t as if they were gonna get any older. She’d do her job and then ask if she could torment Glorfindel on a regular basis.
She might not be able to forget what she had left behind but she was now starting to look at what she had and doing it made her feel all tingly inside.
She’d play minder to Aragorn, she’d place the crown on his head herself if she had to and then she’d find her new home.
What could possibly go wrong?
So? What do you think? Nearly ten thousand words! That’s twice the size of the first chapter!Next chapter:
Buffy proves her worth. But can Gondor survive it? Celebrían
- Galadriel and Celeborn’s daughter. Wife of Elrond. Mother to Elladan, Elrohir and Arwen. Sailed West in 2510.Eärendil
- Elrond’s father. Now sails the sky with a Silmaril. Can be seen as a star in Middle Earth. Eärendilion
- means son of Eärendil in Sindarin. Ethelle
- Head Healer in the Houses of Healing. Gil-galad
- Last High King of the Noldor. King of Lindon. Died during the final battle of the Last Alliance. Gutram
- a soldier of Gondor under Thorongil’s command. Ioreth
- During the War of the Ring, she is the oldest woman in the Houses of Healing, so here she is again, nearly sixty years earlier. Lúthien
- Daughter of King Thingol of Doriath and Melian the Maia. Born in the First Age. Married a mortal man and came back from the dead as a mortal after convincing Mandos with a song to release her and her love, Beren. Considered the most beautiful Elf-maid to walk Arda. Oropher
- King of Greenwood (now known as Mirkwood) in the Second Age. Was killed during the Last Alliance. Generally thought to be cantankerous. Tulkas
- one of the Valar. Likes fighting. Vilya
- the Ring of Air. Strongest of the three Elven Rings made by Celebrimbor. Borne by Elrond.
“Nai tiruvantel ar varyuvantel i Valar tielyanna nu vilya
.” - May the Valar protect you on your path under the sky.Timeline:
May 2970 - Lothlórien.
October 2970 - Rivendell.
September 2971 - Lossarnach
November 2971 - Minas Tirith.