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Butterfly-Cocoon

Chapter 10: Chapter Ten

by Rous

Chapter Ten

Adolescence Is A Curse To Bear- For Parents.

Ela came through the front door of the house. She went to her room and put her things away. Coming back out front, she stopped in the kitchen to grab an apple. She glanced into the pot over the fire to see what was for supper. Gariel came in behind her.

“If you keep taking the lid off, it will never get done.”

“Just trying to decide whether or not to eat here or at Meliel’s. Her mother is cooking venison. I think I would rather have the conies.”

“Especially since you brought them?” Gariel laughed.

“It does sweeten the taste. When is Rúmil due back down?”

“Next week. Now stop asking. You are quite capable of keeping track of time. How did your studies go this morning?”

“Lord Glordinel is finally happy. It seems all the preparation is paying off. I was able to heal a broken finger today. Oh, and Elldar is allowed to go on the boar hunt this weekend. Maybe I should have let him tell you.”

“He already did. He ran all the way back here this morning to tell me. Did you forget what tomorrow is?”

Ela rolled her eyes. “No. Is it necessary for me to go? It is so boring. Just sewing and gossip.”

“Yes, it is necessary. You and Meliel can sit back and ignore all of us older elleth.”

“That is proving to be a lot of fun. Is SHE going to be there? We would both rather skip that.”

“In all probability. You will just have to ignore her.”

“Easier said than done. How are the plans for my birthday party coming?”

“They are complete. The invitations are all sent. Lord Elrond sent his answer. He and Lord Erestor are coming. And your brothers will come. Did you see Lindelen? She wanted to see about your dress fitting.”

“It is too soon to bother with that.”

“Ela, you promised. You will go this afternoon. After practice. She found the most beautiful shade of blue.”

“Oh, I do not have enough blue already,” she laughed. “Rúmil would rather I wear grey. He says blue attracts too much attention.”

“Is he jealous?”

Gariel looked at the girl. No, girl was no longer the word to use. In fifteen years she had grown into a woman. Her full height was still far below normal. She stood just five-four. And her hair had lightened to a rich gold. The freckles were still there; she would carry them for the rest of her life. She had developed strong muscles in her arms from years of practicing with her bow. She had finally achieved contentment there. Although not as fast as most of the other archers, she never missed the target anymore. Her knife skills were creating a reputation. Only with a sword was she unsatisfied. She had completed her studies to her and Glordinel’s satisfaction. Her training as a healer was slower, but the ability was there. The biggest change in her, Gariel thought, was her attitude. She was more outgoing and vocal. If there was an underdog in the city, Ela would find them and fight for them. She did not tolerate injustice.

Ela shrugged. “Why would he be?”

Gariel shook her head. There had been rumors flying for the last year concerning the two of them. Neither would confirm nor deny anything. They both knew they were skirting a dangerous area. Ela was considered too young by some. Deladrieng had brought up the subject so many times, most of the ladies were inclined to disregard her. Although accepted by most, few really considered her an elf, so why bother? By human standards, she was old enough. Meliel was older by several years and had been keeping company with several different men. No one commented on that.

“How does the Lady feel about it?”

“I did not see the need to ask her. Nor Lord Celeborn. Nor Lord Elrond. Have I covered everyone? There is nothing there. We are just good friends. Nothing more.”

“Well, you will have to answer the questions, sooner or later. Deladrieng will not let it rest.”

“I am well aware of that. Her tactics have changed little. She is relieved that my attentions do not involve Haldir. Arda will fall before he returns hers.”

“That is too true. Go on to practice. You have other things to do this afternoon.”

“Goodbye, Nana,” she said, affectionately, reaching up to kiss her cheek.

“Behave yourself. Do not let Meliel get you into trouble.”

Ela waved her hand and left, munching on her apple, her bow and quiver slung over her shoulder.

Gariel watched her walk down to the gate. She had come to regard Ela as part daughter and part sister. The girl had filled an empty place that Gariel had not even been conscious had existed. Her heart ached every time she heard Deladrieng voicing her opinions about Ela.

-----

Down at the fields, Meliel was just finishing her sword practice. Her opponent had found out he could best her, but not without more than a few bruises. Delinfel stepped back and saluted Meliel.

She turned to see Ela coming down the road. She called out a greeting. She could not hear the answer. One thing that had not changed over the years was Ela’s voice. She was still too soft-spoken. It made arguing with her too much trouble.

“Are you coming over this afternoon?” Meliel asked when Ela was closer.

“For my fitting. But I am going home for supper. Conies.”

“You suck all the joy from my life.”

“Why do you not come to my house?” Ela had not noticed Haldir sitting on the sidelines checking out the younger city guards. It would be his decision which ones went on for training for the wards.

“We could ask, I suppose.”

“I can come,” said Delinfel.

“You are not invited,” answered Meliel.

“Elldar!” he shouted.

“Do not dare!” said Ela. “The two of you will drive me mad.”

“What?” shouted back Elldar.

“Supper tonight. Your house?”

“Sure. Let me get cleaned up.”

“Why did you do that?”

“To suck all the joy from your lives.” He laughed as he turned away. Haldir grinned.

“You could at least look like you are disappointed,” Ela pointed out, speaking to Meliel.

“Yes, but I am not. I am going down to the river for a swim. I will come back when I am done.”

Ela shook her head. Supper would be anything but quiet tonight.

Unimandil called her over.

“Let me see your knife,” he said. She handed it to him. He inspected it and found no rust or nicks. He handed it back to her.

“How about a little practice?” he asked with a smile.

“Not me!” Elldar exclaimed, with a grin, shaking his head. “You will need to find a much bigger fool. I barely escaped with my life the last time.” Del had come back over and was shaking his head, also.

Some of the older students and hunters out for practice gathered round. They laughed at Elldar’s words. She had gained the respect of most of the city guards. Her archery and knife skills made her lack of ability with a sword unimportant.

“Will no one help the poor girl out?”

“No one here is interested in moving on to the next world today.” Rúmil dropped onto the bench next to his brother. Ela looked over in surprise. Haldir noticed with a touch of annoyance that she looked pleased.

“I will,” Haldir said.

“No, brother. You have not seen her fight. She does not fight fair. I have told you that before.”

“How bad can it be? She is smaller and weaker.”

Ela just stood grinning at him.

“Practice knives?” she asked.

“No. And I will take it easy on you.”

She drew her knife and held it loosely in her right hand. He turned to get his knife from his pack. He found himself flying over the bench. Ela rolled past him and jumped to her feet. She circled, giving him time to stand up and draw his knife. They circled each other for three heartbeats, when she moved in, slashed at his guts and pirouetted back out of reach. He felt the knife slice his shirt and glanced down to see if she had cut him. She had not, but he had forgotten the cardinal rule of hand-to-hand combat: never take your eyes from your opponent. When he looked back up, she was gone. He twisted around just as she jumped on his back. He turned and threw her, forgetting how big he was and how small she was. She landed on her shoulder and winced, but was back up immediately. She ran in under his knife and swung with her left hand. She danced back out before he felt the burn in his side. He had been watching her right hand. She ran back in, aiming for his knees. She checked herself when she realized he was holding his right side. His legs buckled and he fell.

“What is going on?” roared Celeborn.

The horror of the situation was finally hitting the spectators, as they realized Haldir was injured.

Celeborn knelt down beside Haldir and pushed him back down when he tried to rise.

“Fool! Did no one warn you?”

Haldir glanced at Rúmil.

So, someone had.

“I am sorry. I did not mean to hurt him!” Ela was in tears.

Haldir tried to sit up and gasped. His ribs were on fire.

“Rúmil,” Celeborn ordered. “Get him to Glordinel.”

“You,” he said to Ela, “Come with me.”

Ela turned back to Rúmil for help. He shrugged, helplessly. She followed Celeborn back into the city. She hesitated at the base of the tree where his talan was.

“Come. You have been up there enough that I know you can do it.”

She followed. When they had reached the large open talan that served as the court, he pointed to a chair. She sat down without a word. What would they do? She had not meant to hurt him. It was all a mistake.

She looked up as Lady Galadriel come down the stairs. Ela stood and bowed, lower than was warranted.

“Lady,” she said.

“Child, we must talk. Come.” She led Ela into a small antechamber. She motioned Ela to sit down. The girl took the smallest chair in the room. Celeborn sat down beside her.

Nothing was said for several minutes. Ela was afraid they were going to make her leave Lórien. As much as she still missed Imladris, Lórien had become her home. She did not want to leave.

“Please. I am sorry. Do not make me leave Lórien!”

“Leave? Is that why you think you are here?”

“Well, yes. I did not mean to hurt him. He said he wanted to see what I could do. I did not realize that he was holding back. I would never hurt him.”

“Hush child. We know you would not intentionally harm anyone. It is not in your nature. You are here because Lord Elrond sent word that he requires you in Imladris.”

“Go back to Imladris? Can it not wait until my birthday? It will only be another two months.”

“You know he would not have sent for you if it were not important.”

“Yes, Lady. Is it safe to travel? I have heard there is much unrest in the Misty Mountains.”

“I do not believe he would ask you to come if the danger was great.”

“Is it permissible to ask someone to accompany me?”

“I do not think your father would deny that. Who did you have in mind?” Ela saw a small smile cross the Lady’s lips. Who else?

“I think that Meliel would not be adverse to the opportunity.”

“Nor do I. You may ask.”

“Thank you, Lady, Lord Celeborn. Again, I am sorry about earlier. May I have leave to withdraw? I would like to check on Haldir. I would not like him to think me not sorry.”

“Run along, sell,” said Celeborn. “You will leave in two days. I will inform Rúmil to get an escort ready.”

“Rúmil? Really?”

“Is there a problem with him”

“No!” she exclaimed. “I mean, no. He will do.” Her nonchalance made Celeborn smile. “Thank you. I will leave now.” ‘Before I stick my foot any further into my mouth’ she thought to herself.

“Did she not seem a little too eager that Rúmil is to accompany her?”

“Husband, you have heard the rumors, the same as I. I do not see anything coming of it. She is young and testing the waters. Her choice is yet down the road.”

-----

Ela practically ran down the stairs from the talan. When she reached the ground, she slowed down. She walked at a sedate pace towards the small building that housed the infirmary. She was almost to the door, when she encountered Deladrieng.

“How could you? Do you realize what you almost did?”

“I am sorry, why are you speaking to me?”

“You almost killed him, you stupid girl!”

“And I got closer to him than you ever will.”

“You impertinent little cur!”

Ela looked at the woman. Her face broke out in a smile when she looked past Deladrieng.

“I am sorry, I see someone I would rather talk to.”

She walked past her. The older woman turned to see Haldir standing in the door, Rúmil beside him. She watched the girl lay a hand on the elder brother’s cheek.

“I am sorry. Can you forgive me?”

“There is nothing to forgive. Come, I am hungry and Gariel is expecting us.” Deladrieng watched as the three of them went towards home. She did notice it was Rúmil’s arm she held.

-----

Everyone at Orophin’s clamored to get the details of what had happened. Gariel had set the table in the garden. Ela noticed Meliel and Delinfel nestled in a corner. She went over.

“Are you comfortable? I do not wish to disturb you.”

“How is the March Warden?” asked Meliel.

“He will survive. Not without a scar. I have news, but it will wait until after supper.”

“What news?”

“It is not important. It will wait. I am sure Delinfel is not interested in my goings on.”

“What is it, Ela? Just tell her.” Delinfel was irritated at the interruption.

“No, I cannot. I would not spoil your evening, Del.”

The exchange had drawn the attention of the adults.

“Just tell her!”

“Well, if you insist, I suppose I could go ahead and tell you.”

“I insist!” he almost shouted.

“I am going to Imladris. The day after tomorrow.”


“All of that because you are going to Imladris?”

“Yes.” She paused. “I have gained leave to take someone with me.” The adults had watched as Delinfel neatly walked into her trap. “I do not suppose you would like to go, Meliel?” Her eyes never left Del.

The older girl jumped up.

“Me? Go to Imladris? Are you sure? I have to ask my mother.” To Del’s irritation, Meliel was out the garden gate before any could stop her.

“Are you enjoying your supper now, Del?” Ela asked softly.

“That was cruel! Why did you do that?” He scowled at her.

“In the future, do not insinuate yourself into our plans. And besides, you insisted. I tried to wait until after supper.”

“Was that necessary?” asked Elldar, when she came over to the table.

“I think it was. He needs to learn his place. He was not invited tonight. Maybe next time, he will remember his manners.” She sat in the chair Elldar held for her. Haldir smiled. She had managed to bring not a few of the customs she had grown up with to Lórien with her. He was amazed that none balked at her demands.

“Why are you going to Imladris?” asked Orophin.

“I do not know. The message just said Lord Elrond required me to be there. Rúmil, you are taking us.”

“I am not sure that is a sound idea,” objected Haldir.

“I am sure it is. Who would you have go? Yourself? Your injury is too new. They will not allow it. Besides, I am sure I would move too slowly for you.”

Haldir bit back his answer and just sat and ate. He had watched the girl grow up and was not sure he liked it. She was no longer as biddable. She was making too many decisions on her own. Rúmil was one he did not relish. He had heard the rumors, the same as everyone else. Some had them already mated. He had tried to talk to his youngest brother, but was told it was none of his business. He decided to try again after supper.

Meliel came back in the middle of the meal. She was so excited she could not sit still long enough to eat. Delinfel finally left, disgusted. Ela just smiled.

Haldir cornered Rúmil while the others were cleaning up.

“I want to know what is going on between you and Ela.”

“That is none…”

Haldir cut him off. “If it affects my family, it is my business. You must know the rumors.”

“I have heard some things. Look, honestly, there is nothing there. We like each other’s company. It is not like there are many her age. We have fun. And it keeps others at bay.”

Haldir thought he finally had it.

“You are both hedging against suitors.”

“That is one way of putting it. She is not ready. I am not interested. It serves us both.”

“Be careful. It could backfire on you. She is young yet.”

“Do not worry about us. Whether you have noticed or not, we have left a clear field for another. She will not be long stepping into the gap.” Rúmil smiled. Deladrieng had not been idle in the last fifteen years. Her desire to catch the attentions of the March Warden had gone unfulfilled.

“It will cost her a trip then. I am taking an extended tour of the marches. I wait only until you leave.”

They went back and joined their brother. He was sitting with a cup of wine. He motioned to two more cups on the table.

Ela had disappeared with Meliel. They could hear those still in the garden through the open window of Ela’s room.

“What do you think of this?” Ela help up a light grey tunic and darker trousers. “This is Rúmil’s favorite outfit. He says it is all Lórien. No greens or blues. He thinks my blue suit is too gaudy. I will take it anyway.” She moved the cat from the bed to the chair and laid the clothes out.

“I like the grey. It shows off your pale skin. Mine is so dark it just looks bad. I will take my blue, also. I like your black one. Take it. What of a dress? Do I need one?”

“I can remember when you would not wear one. How many do you have now?”

“Just two, but that is enough. Del likes the dresses.”

“Del!” said Ela, derisively. “What do you see in him?”

“He likes me. How many have you seen beating down my door?”

“That would be one more than my door.”

“Yes, well, I do not have three March Wardens to discourage suitors. Nor Lord Celeborn.”

“They do not! Why would you say such a thing?”

Meliel looked uncomfortable. She squirmed a bit before finally answering.

“It is know among the younger elves that you are off limits. It is not exactly said, just whispered.”

“WHAT?” Ela stormed out of the house. She collected herself and walked to the table where the three brothers sat.

“Orophin,” she said sweetly.

“Ela,” he said hesitantly.

“Would it be much trouble, I mean, I would not like to put you out, but could you find me a talan of my own?”

There was shocked silence for several moments.

“If that is what you want. But why?”

“Well, I was thinking that if I had a place of my own, my cat would not be a bother.”

“No,” said Haldir. “The cat is always an excuse. She is not a problem. What brought this on?”

“Nothing,” she said with a look of innocence. “I am getting older. I am sure they need the room. Besides, I have friends. It would be less bother to have them in my own home, rather than here under foot.”

“They are no bother,” said Orophin.

“Well, what of male friends? I am of an age when I should be seeing to my future. As a matter of fact, I am surprised that there have been none around.” She let her lip quiver. “Who am I fooling? None think me pretty enough. I am just that mixed blood cur.” She turned and ran for the house, crying. Rúmil put a hand out to stop her.

“You are beautiful. Why would you think not?”

“Really?” she whispered. “Do you really think so?”

“Yes, I have always thought so.”

“Oh, then would you do me a favor?”

“Anything, little one.”

“Please,” her voice grew sharp, “Do not interfere in my affairs, again!”

She walked back into the house.

The three of them sat in stunned silence.

“What was that about?”

Gariel came over.

“You fools. You could not leave well enough alone. She knows about the warnings. I heard Meliel tell her. What were you thinking?”

“We were thinking of her own good.”

“She is thirty in two months. She is old enough to make her own mistakes. You cannot protect her forever. She has to grow up.”

Ela and Meliel collapsed, laughing, on Ela’s bed.

“Did you see that?” Ela said trying to breathe.

“Yes. You are wicked.”

“Well, they should not interfere.”

“You are not interested anyway, what is the difference?”

“It should be my choice, not because they decided what was best for me.”

“Come on, we need to get you packed and then get to my mother’s. She has your dress waiting for the fitting. We can do my packing while there.”

-----

The next day, Ela could barely sit through her visit with Galadriel’s ladies. The book she had brought laid unopened on her bag. Her sewing was not even out of the bag. She and Meliel whispered to each other. Finally, Gariel had to say something to them.

“I am sorry, Gariel,” Ela whispered. “I have many things to do. I do not want to sit here.”

“You have an obligation. Bear up to it.”

“Yes, Gariel.”

She sat quietly for ten minutes. Galadriel looked up when she started fidgeting again.

“Elrénia,” said the Lady. “Are you packed for your journey?”

“Yes, Lady. We finished last evening.”

“I am sure you are looking forward to being in Imladris once again.”

“I am, but I will also look forward to returning to Lórien.” There was just a trace of a question in her voice.

“But of course. The journey is always exciting, but it is good to return home.” The Lady smiled at the look of relief on the girl’s face.

“How is my March Warden today?”

“A little sore and a lot more cautious. Lady, I would ask for an audience later with you and Lord Celeborn.”

“Certainly. Come whenever you want.”

“Thank you.”

Ela sat back and spoke quietly with Meliel. She turned when she heard a rustle of whisper and her name mentioned.

“Do you have something to say to me, Deladrieng?” She kept her voice lower than usual.

“I have yet to figure out why we tolerate non-elves in Lórien. It has happened so seldom in the past, it is not worth remembering,” Deladrieng said, quietly. It seemed she also did not want to attract the Lady’s attention.

“You would have to ask the Lady that. It seems you believe she made an error. That is what you are saying, is it not?”

Deladrieng hesitated. This was not the direction she had wanted to go.

“I do not believe the Lady would make a conscious error.”

“Then maybe Lord Celeborn made the error.”

“You are twisting my words.”

“I am trying to understand why you hate and fear me so. I am no threat to you. If what you want is available, you will have it. I do not see it happening, but then what do I know, I am merely a child.”

“You are nobody. Just a stray taken in by misguided well wishers. Someday, they will see you for who you are.”

“No, lady, it is not who I am that is important. It is what I am.” She did not realize she had raised her voice. It carried beyond the few who were seated beside them. Her blue eyes had intensified to a deep sapphire. “Do not pursue you present course. You will never have him. You will only be vastly disappointed.”

“What do you know, child? You play at adult games, luring a man into places that are not safe for him to go.”

“Do we speak of Rúmil, now? Are you still angry about that? He saw you for what you are. Can you fault him for seeking out anyone else? He has made his choice. Leave it at that.”

“Then you admit that the rumors are true?”

“I admit to nothing. But then you know whether or not they are true. You are the one who keeps them to forefront. Take my advice and find another
to harass. Leave me and my friends alone. Oh, yes, I know you are the one who has made Meliel’s life miserable. She has done nothing to you. She is not even a threat to you. For all of your vaunted pure blood, you are no better than Caldelen. Wanting what you cannot have. Trying to take what is not yours. And destroying anything in your way, including what you desire.”

“How dare you? You will live to regret your words.”

“Probably. You, on the other hand will never have a husband to warm your bed. No child will ever fill your womb. I know that you fancy Haldir. ‘Ello burne tole sl’danna!’ You have chased him long enough. You debase yourself by your antics. He will never have you. You have not the wit to keep a ellon like him. I will tell you this, you will have better luck wooing an Orc. At least they are not particular!” With a nod to the Lady, she left the glade, leaving gasps in her wake. Meliel jumped up and followed her. Gariel apologized to Lady Galadriel and left.



The Hidden Bower And Thoughts Shared

Rúmil found her by the river. She had changed into her leggings and a tunic. He smiled at her hair. She had not bothered putting it back up. He liked it down.

“I heard what happened. Was that wise?”

“No. But it was a long time coming. As long as she confined her comments to me, I could take it, but when she started on you and Meliel, it was too much.”

He was quiet. He watched her pick up small stones and throw them in the Celebrant.

“Are you ready to leave?” he asked.

“No, but I am packed. I cannot help feeling that whatever he wants, it will change everything. I do not want things changed. I am happy. Why can it not just be left at that?”

“Even those who live far beyond the comprehension of humans must accept change. It comes much slower, but it does come. How bad can it be?”

“I do not know, but I do not feel good about it. It may have to do with my mother’s people.”

“It will do no good to dwell on it. How about a ride? We could go out to see Orophin.”

“I think I would rather just walk. Do you mind?”

“Not at all.” He took her hand and rested it on his arm. They followed the river a ways. The silence was a comfortable companion as they slowly left the city behind.

“Has my brother spoken to you?”

“Do you mean the little chat that begins with ‘What are you thinking?’? Yes, he cornered me last night. I told him it was none of his business. He muttered something about adolescents. Did he not raise the two of you?”

“Yes, and I heard the Lady myself tell him that girls are not the same as boys.”

She looked up at him.

“You would think he would have noticed that by now.”

“Oh, he knows, just not when it comes to you. You are still that little girl he brought here fifteen years ago. And in his defense, you do not look much older. You really shook them up last night asking for your own talan.”

“And I did not shake you up?”

“Well, maybe a little.”

“You are funny. I saw your face. You were as shocked. You know, someday it will happen. I will grow up and move on.”

“I do not want to think on that.”

“Putting it off will not make it go away.”

“It will not. But I will rest easier.”

“Males. You think that by putting it out of your mind, it will cease to be?”

“No, but putting it out of my mind, I do not have to dwell on it. You think too much.”

“It is a curse. Come on, I want to show you something.” Several hundred feet from the path was a small bower. She did not know who had built it, but it was old. The intertwining trees and vines formed an almost impenetrable barrier.

“Watch,” she said. She went around to the opposite side of the bower and pushed on a limb. A section swung open just wide enough for passage. She went through and waited for him.

“Listen.”

“I do not hear anything,” he said.

“I know. There are not many places this close to the city where you cannot at least hear distant voices. I come here when I want to be totally alone. Only Elldar knows about it. It is like another world.”

Rúmil walked around the large space. He could not see nor hear anything outside the bower.

“What do you do here?”

“I read. Sometimes I bring my studies. Sometimes I just remember. My parents. My life before. I dream. I dream that my da never found us. That my parents are still alive and talk to me. I wonder what my life would be like. Who I would marry. My mother holding her first grandchild. The things a girl dreams about.” She wandered around the space. “What do you dream about?”

“I, too, wonder about my parents. What they were like. Did they love each other? They must have, for her to follow him. Still, it left an empty hole in my life. I do not remember them at all. Orophin says he can, but I think he just wishes so.”

“Do you ever think of wedding?”

“Sometimes, but it is not time yet. I thought I found someone, but she is for another.”

“I am sorry. You deserve the best. Maybe she is a fool.”

“I doubt that. She is destined to wed another, but I cannot be jealous. They deserve each other.”

“Then she is a fool. If she would not even consider you. I would, if I were old enough.” She did not see the pain that flooded his eyes for a moment.

“She is not a fool, and you are too young. Come, we must get back. You have to see the Lady, and Gariel is planning a party for you and Meliel. She even asked me how to make that disgusting tea.”

“Alright. Maybe you will find another in Imladris. Anything is possible.”

“Maybe. For now, I will content myself with your company.”

“Oh, that is exciting. You could surely find better company than mine. You will never find someone while spending all your time with me. I know of not a few ellith who would not be adverse to your attentions. As a matter of fact, it is too bad Meliel is so taken with Delinfel. I do not see in him what she does. He is boorish and immature.”

He laughed, then started as she took off down the path. He could hear her laughing. When he caught up with her, she was looking down in her hand.

“I found a butterfly. Is it not beautiful? It is the first one I have seen this season.” She tossed it into the air.

“Sometimes I feel like a butterfly. I started out as this grubby little thing. Then I grew. Now I feel like I am cocooned, just waiting to burst forth. Is that not the silliest thing you have ever heard?”

“I do not know about the grubby part, but if the cocoon looks like you, I can hardly wait for the butterfly.”

She looked up at him quizzically.

“I do not know what you mean,” she started, then spied another butterfly. He shook his head as she was off again. She danced through the glade surrounding the path. He listened to her laughs and watched the sunlight filtering through the open space in the canopy glint off her hair. Her spinning cause the hair to fan out like a halo. He was so struck for several seconds, he did not notice the other watching her.

“What are you doing, brother?” came a quiet voice from behind him. He turned.

“Just enjoying the present.”

Haldir looked at him, surprised.

“I thought you were not serious.”

“I cannot be. She will wed another.”

“How do you know?”

“The Lady told me. It seems you are not the only one interested in our relationship.”

“Does she know who it is?”

“If she does, she did not tell me. What are you doing out here?”

“I heard what happened this morning. I wanted to make sure she was alright.”

“She is. Are you sure that is all it is?”

Haldir turned and cuffed his brother on the side of the head. “Mind your tongue, youngling. I can still drown you in the Celebrant.”

“Not without damage to yourself.” Rúmil smiled to himself.

“Rúmil, come, quick!” They both turned at her soft cry. They ran to where she was last. She was looking up into an oak. They glanced up to see what had drawn her attention.

“I think it is an eagle’s nest. I have never seen one before.” She continued to look up as she moved back for a better view.

“Ela!” Haldir called out as she stepped close to the edge of a drop behind her. He made a grab for her, but missed when the ground under him suddenly caved in. They both slid
down the steep decline. They came to an abrupt stop at the bottom. She ended up face down under him.

“Get off me,” she gasped, “I cannot breathe.”

He struggled to disentangle himself. He sat back as she turned over onto her back. She lay there propped up on her elbows looking at him. She saw Rúmil carefully coming down
the bank.
“Well, that was interesting!” she said, a strange glint in her eye as she looked at Haldir. He had a funny look on his face.

“What was?” asked Rúmil.

“Nothing,” she said, quickly. “It seems your brother’s skills at preventing injury have not improved. I will have to check and see what is broken this time. You do realize that I
am running out of limbs.”

“If you had not stepped so close to the edge, we would not have fallen.”


“If you had not put your considerably greater weight so close to the edge, it would not have caved in and I would still be standing up there. What were you thinking?”

“That you would fall.”

“What happened to ‘I will not push you’?”

“I did not push you!”

“But the results are the same. Now I will have to bathe before I can see the Lord and Lady. Not to mention washing my hair, again. Do you have any idea how long that takes?”

Rúmil noticed that her angry tone was offset by the gleam in her eye. The laughter in her eyes was lost on Haldir.

Rúmil gave her his hand. She took it and allowed him to pull her up. She flounced her hair around. She also made a big show of checking for injuries.

“Well, it seems I can still walk and maybe sit a horse. I guess I will not have to postpone my trip, after all.” She turned to the brothers. “Thank you for a lovely afternoon. We really must do it again. I have not had as much fun since, oh let me think, Caldelen pushed me out of the tree house, or maybe it was the ride in.”

“Your mouth will get you in trouble. I do not think a dip in the Celebrant would be unjustified,” growled Haldir. He winced as he stood up.

“Are you all right?” she asked, concerned.

“I am fine. Go play with your butterflies.”

“Let me see.” She reached for his side.

He swatted her hand away.

“I am not letting you see anything. Go away.”

She reached out and pulled at his shirt. He jerked away, but there was blood on her hand.

“Stop it! Let me see!”


He sighed and pulled the shirt up to let her see. His wound had opened just enough to start bleeding. She pulled around the small bag she always carried around her waist.
They watched as she took out a small flask and some cloths. Pouring some of the contents from the flask on the cloth, she took a drink from the flask. While Haldir was watching her drink,
she slapped the cloth on his wound. He let out a yelp.

“What was that?” he exclaimed.

“That stuff Dorga sends me. It makes tea, is a good astringent and will peel the bark from a tree. Did it hurt?”

“Why did Elrond let you leave Imladris? At least then you were polite. Now you are rude and uncontrollable.”

“It is the influence of the Lórien elves. You know the reputation. Inhospitable, dangerous, ill-mannered. And that uncivilized teacher, Glordinel. Now, hold still.”

She gently rubbed the cloth to remove the dirt. She laid her hand on his side and counted to ten. When she removed her hand, the seam had closed. The brothers looked at the
closed wound.

“I did not know you had advanced that far,” said Rúmil.

“Neither did I. The last thing I tried to heal was the broken leg of a coney. It did not go so well. But, it was delicious.”

Haldir stared at her.

“You did not know what you were doing?”

“Oh, I know how, I just have not been able to do it. Glordinel said it would happen when the time was right. I guess he knew of what he was speaking.”

“Why did you count to ten?”

“Actually, five would have done it, but I know how cantankerous and thick-skinned you can be, so I thought the extra time necessary. Why are you complaining? It worked, did it
not? The bleeding has stopped.”

“If we send her to Mordor,” Haldir said, turning to Rúmil, “We can relieve ourselves of her and she can just talk Sauron to death.”

She looked at him. “Something there is stirring again. It is awakening. Maybe it will return to its sleep.”

He looked for her laugh. It seemed she was serious.

“What do you know of Mordor?”

“Probably less than you. I can just feel something stirring. I told Lord Celeborn about it. He did not seem concerned at the time. Should I be?”

“You should concern yourself with a trip home and your birthday. That is all that need fill your thoughts for now.”

“I believe I would rather think on the future. I want to train for the wards.” She glanced over at Haldir to see his reaction.

“That is not necessary. We have enough wardens.”

“I do not recall asking if it was necessary. I simply stated that I plan on training. Whether I make it or not is up to you, but I will train. I have learned all I need. Glordinel is concentrating my education towards healing. I find I have much more time on my hands. Of course, if you think me not capable of learning well enough, then I can always find someone and settle down. Or maybe go see if I am needed in one of the Edain villages. I am sure they can find use for an accident-prone adolescent that can sometimes heal.”

“Who put this nonsense into your head?”

“Why is it that if Elldar wants to do it, it is fine? But if I want to do it, it is nonsense. That is not fair. I can shoot just as well as most of the city guards and better than some of
them. I am sure you can find somebody who will vouch for my knife skills. Is it because I am a girl? There are female wardens. Maybe because I am only half-Elven.” Rúmil hoped his
brother could see how angry she was getting. The subject of her bloodlines was touchy at the best of times. “I know, it is the eyesight. It is not as good. Well, you know, this is not the
only place to live. There is Mirkwood and the Grey Havens. Then again, I can always return to Imladris. Compared to your fairness, how bad can Caldelen be?” She turned and climbed up
the bank. By the time they had reached the top, she was nowhere in sight.

“You have created quite a mess.” Rúmil said, looking towards the city. “She will not let you forget this.”

“I do not have to deal with her for the next month, you do. She will have cooled down by the time you return.”

“The Lady was right. You know nothing of girls. You knew little enough of boys. You should not be trusted around either.”

“That would suit me just fine. I find they are tedious and do not follow orders.”

Shaking his head, Rúmil followed him back into the city.



****



Ela sat patiently waiting for permission to see Lord Celeborn. Her hair was still damp, but braided back from her face. She smoothed out an imaginary wrinkle in her dress. She
thought back on the incident in the woods. Something had happened. She was not yet sure what, but there had been something. And she was sure that he had felt it also. It had felt as
if she had swallowed all the butterflies and they were flying in her stomach. She had never experienced anything like it. Well, she thought as Celeborn’s page motioned to her, I have a
month to sort it out. She rose and followed him into the large reception room. Bowing, she straightened back up. She glanced at the empty chair beside him.

“Is the Lady not joining you?” she asked.

“She will be here. She was detained.” Celeborn detected just a hint of relief in the girl.

“Would you like to wait for her?”

“It is not necessary. By your leave, I have a request. I want to train for the wards. The March Warden will not allow it. Is there a reason for his refusal?”

Celeborn was silent. She knew from experience he was collecting his thoughts. She waited patiently.

“Elrond sent a courier after we left Imladris. He passed us during the journey. He had found some information about your mother’s people.”

Ela thought before speaking. She had to tread carefully. It was never wise to be rude to the ones who controlled your life.

“And it was thought best not to inform me? Why?”

“I have a question for you.”

“Yes?”

“Are you content here?”

“Yes. I have been very happy here. Orophin and Gariel have treated me like a daughter. Most have accepted me. I have friends.” He smiled. He knew what troubles she had
had, and exactly how many friends she did have.

“Elrond adopted you. He did not know it at the time, but you are actually related to him. He did it out of caring and concern for you. He was given things that belonged to your
father. He has been trying to confirm his suspicions since then. I believe he may know more and wants to share his findings.” He hesitated. “The courier came with a Ranger. They had
found your mother’s people. The Rangers were not met with hospitality. All the elves in the company were forced to withdraw before their leader could even talk to the men of the village.
They did not want you back. They had put you in that boat to die with your mother. As far as they knew, you had, until someone stumbled across the knowledge that you were in Imladris.
That was the first attempt to regain you. There have been several others, even as far as Lórien. It seems you stand between your uncle and something he wants. It is not yet clear what
that is. You are safe as long as you stay within the wards. Elrond feels that it is worth the risk for you to return to Imladris.”

“And the March Warden knows all of this?”

“Yes. Until now, there has been no need to discourage you. But he is concerned that you may pursue this course.” He turned and nodded to Galadriel, just arriving.

“Oh, he has already been to see you today?”

“Yes. He was upset that you were angry.”

“Well, I can fix that. If I have your leave, I will go now and pack the rest of my things. I will return to Imladris. That will remove the thorn in his side, and if I am to be caged,
better a gilded cage than a wooden one.”

She nodded to him and turned.

“Lady Elrénia.” She turned at the words from the Lady. She nodded.

“Do not act in haste. We do not want you to leave Lórien.”

“If I cannot pursue that which calls to me, of what use am I? I will not be another Deladrieng, a piece of fluff that delights in destroying people. I want to be able to defend my
home when the time comes. I want to help others. There is more to the wards than just fighting. You need healers. I am learning to use that skill. I am a better than passing archer. I
have other skills that would be of use. Why is it unreasonable? Is it because of what I am?”

Galadriel laughed softly.

“You will never be fluff,” she said. “Your time will come, but until Elrond deems it appropriate, we must abide by his wishes. You are still in your minority. Come back and see us
when you return. It may be he will have changed his mind.”

“You mean, if I return.”

“I have no fears. You will return,” replied the Lady, with a smile. She dismissed Ela, and watched as the girl left.

“Do you think she is who Elrond suspects?”

“I know she is. Her father’s name is in her memories, but it is still locked away. It will cause not a few problems for her and everyone involved with her.
involved with her.

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Chapter name
Chapter Ten
Created
28 Aug 2004
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28 Aug 2004
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