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In Aragorn's Safekeeping
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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11
Lothlórien

Author Notes: Words in italics are elvish and in this chapter and subsequent chapters there may be long conversations in elvish, I’ve found it easier to do it this way. I will still have a few elvish words sprinkled in here and there throughout the story and I will continue to translate those at the end of the chapter where appropriate.

Also, in what I believe is a departure from canon, Aragorn sees Celeborn and Galadriel as his grandparents and they see him as their grandson. Not only is he betrothed to their granddaughter but he was raised in Rivendell by their son-in-law.


~~~

Thomas stared for several moments in the direction Rebecca had disappeared. He was glad she would have a special place to stay, but it was strange to think they would be apart. Finally, he turned his attention back to the conversation Aragorn was having with these powerful elves.

“Daeradar, would you be able to give Thomas a sword? And a bow? As you can see he is ill equipped.”

Celeborn nodded as he looked at Thomas. “I did indeed notice. It is not often one comes into my presence with a drawn blade of any kind... let alone an orc scimitar.”

Thomas flushed and looked down at the blade he still carried loosely in his hand. It was so much a part of him now that he had forgotten it was even there. He swiftly set it down in front of him and backed up, “I-I’m sorry sir...my lord,” he fumbled for the right words. “I...I forgot I carried it.” He glanced briefly up at Celeborn and then stared down at his feet again.

Thomas felt rather than saw someone in front of him.

“Here,” a quiet voice reached his ear and he looked up, startled, to find Celeborn in front of him handing him the scimitar. Automatically, Thomas reached for the blade at the tone of quiet command in the one word uttered by Celeborn. He took it carefully, making sure the tip stayed pointed at the ground.

“Did it serve you well, Young Thomas?” The elf-lord inquired gravely.

Not entirely sure what Celeborn was asking, Thomas licked his lips nervously before replying, “Yes, my lord.” He glanced at Aragorn, but the Ranger was just standing nearby with his arms crossed, watching impassively.

“I meant did you fight well with it in the battle against the orcs?” Celeborn’s voice had softened slightly.

Thomas looked up at Celeborn then and held his eyes briefly before gazing past the elf-lord. He shivered slightly as images from the battle, images he’d tried to forget flashed through his mind. “Oh. I...I guess I did all right with it, sir. I mean, my lord. It... I killed two orcs... but Rebecca helped with one... she saved my life, sir... and” Thomas shrugged helplessly as he looked at Celeborn again. “I was slightly wounded,” He held up his arm, “sir... my lord,” he quickly amended, cursing himself inwardly for forgetting again.

‘Be at peace, Young Thomas. No one thinks you ill-mannered.’ Thomas heard Galadriel’s voice in his head once again and he glanced over briefly to see her gazing at him with a half-smile. He nodded in acknowledgement and turned his attention back to Celeborn who was watching him with an unreadable expression.

“You did the only thing that matters in any battle, Young Thomas... you survived it. I would say the blade served you quite well. However, I believe that an elven sword would serve you better on the journey you have ahead of you.” Thomas looked up at him gratefully to find a hint of amusement in the elf-lord’s eyes.

“Thank you sir... my lord.”

“You will continue to work hard on your training?”

“Yes, my lord. I have a lot to learn with the sword and Legolas is also going to teach me how to use a bow... if we are here long enough.” Thomas glanced at Aragorn who nodded.

“Good. You will need both those skills living in Middle-earth.” Celeborn’s voice had changed and was once again lordly and distant and Thomas wondered at the change. “Then you shall also have the bow that you will require to gain that skill. Now, I believe it is time for you to get some much needed rest.”

“Yes, my lord.” Thomas bowed and turned to leave before remembering Galadriel. “Oh. Good-night, Lady Galadriel,” he bowed to her before joining Aragorn.

The two of them descended the stairs rapidly, heading down to the lawn where a large tent had been erected for the members of the Fellowship. Thomas had so many questions he wanted to ask Aragorn that he almost asked if they could stop and talk, but he was just too tired. He knew he would just have to wait until tomorrow. He shrugged mentally, it didn’t sound like they were going anywhere soon. He wondered how Rebecca was doing and was so deep in thought that Thomas didn’t notice they had reached the ground and he stumbled slightly and had to steady himself on Aragorn’s shoulder to keep from falling. Aragorn looked back at him questioningly.

Thomas grinned sheepishly, “Sorry, I missed the last step.”

“I think you need to go to bed,” Aragorn grinned back. “The bathing pools are over there and then you can sleep.”

Thomas nodded eagerly at the thought of getting a ‘real’ bath. “Well, come on then, let’s get going.”

Aragorn just shook his head slightly in amusement as he strolled along after Thomas.

--

Following Brethil along the walkways between the trees, Rebecca kept carefully to the middle as there were no handrails for her to hold on to. They passed many elves along the way and while a few nodded or smiled at her, many seemed not to even see her. They descended several flights of stairs and after a ten minute walk they approached a talan.

It was small and sat in a cluster of five or six other talans that connected to the same tree. Rebecca glanced down and was relieved to see that it was not too far off the ground. Unlike the talan she had stayed on with Haldir and the hobbits, this one had walls and a roof. Those were made of leaves and vines and seemed to be alive as they were green and fresh. She wondered how that was possible, and how it stayed warm and private.

“This will be your talan while you are here, Lady Rebecca,” Brethil smiled as she opened the door. “My talan is right there,” she pointed to a larger talan directly across from Rebecca’s, “should you ever need anything.”

“Lady Brethil, may I ask you a favor?” Rebecca looked up at the tall elleth before stepping into the talan.

“Of course.”

“Would... would you please just call me Rebecca? I-I get tired of the ‘lady’ part. I’m not called that where I’m from and since you’re a girl...”

Brethil’s lips twitched in amusement.

“... well not a girl, but a female and I thought...”

“I believe I understand the general idea,” Brethil interrupted gently. “If it is your wish I shall call you Rebecca, but only if you call me Brethil.”

Rebecca nodded. “I would like that, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been around any girls... I’m sorry, I mean females. There are no elves where I live and I forget...”

Brethil laughed and it was such a silvery, musical laugh that Rebecca started giggling. “Rebecca, do not apologize for your words. I am not offended for I know what you meant. I would not enjoy traveling with all of those males either. That is why Lady Galadriel has given you this talan.”

Brethil led the way inside and they stopped in the main sitting area. From the inside Rebecca could see that the walls and roof were indeed vines and branches that were woven or trained to grow in intricate patterns. It was dense enough to provide privacy from others, but faint sunlight also filtered in.

The sitting room had two large windows, one to the right of the door and one directly across from it. There was a couch under the window along the right wall and a couple of chairs around a low table in front of it. There were also two cabinets against the walls to the left of the door.

There were two doors off of the sitting room, one to the left led to the bedroom, as Rebecca could see the bed through the open door. The other door in the far left corner of the room led to a bathroom.

“Now the first thing you need is a bath.”

Rebecca nodded eagerly, “Oh, yes. I have been dreaming about a hot bath for days!”

Brethil smiled, “Normally you would join the ellyth down at the bathing pools. But Lady Galadriel wanted you to have a private bath here so hot water has been provided for you.” She led Rebecca into the bathroom where a large wooden tub sat filled with steaming water. “These are soaps and things for your hair,” she pointed out several small containers. When you are finished there are clean clothes in the bedroom.” Rebecca’s eyes lit up at that. “I will wait for you to finish, to see if you need any help.”

“All right, but I’m sure I’ll be fine and I’ll wear anything as long as it’s clean!”

As the elleth left, Rebecca started peeling off her clothes as fast as possible. Her sweater and bra were easy, but when she took off her boots and socks she paused. She looked at the bindings Legolas had placed on her feet many days ago, wondering how to proceed. She tugged on the knot that held it together, but it didn’t budge. Too much sweat and dirt had hardened it into a densely woven mass of material. She tried pushing it down and off her foot, but that didn’t work either, if anything it seemed to tighten the material and she groaned in frustration. Grabbing her sweater she pulled it back on and walked back into the sitting room.

“Brethil, I need your help.” Rebecca walked over to the couch where she was sitting.

“What is the matter?” Brethil looked her up and down in concern.

“Legolas put these on my feet awhile ago and I can’t get them off.” Rebecca pointed to her feet.

“Here, sit down,” Brethil motioned to the table in front of her. She picked up Rebecca’s foot and looked closely at the knot. “This will have to be cut... it has been on here so long that untying it will be impossible.” She took a small knife from a pouch that was attached to her dress. “Did you hurt your feet when you broke your wrist and hurt your chin?” Brethil lightly touched the faded scar.

Rebecca shook her head, “No, my feet were just sore from all the walking and my boots aren’t very good. All my other cuts were from an accident.” She shrugged, “I’m fine now,” though her eyes were sad as she looked past Brethil.

“I am glad,” Brethil responded softly, patting her hand. “Now go and take your bath before the water gets cold.”

With a quick smile, Rebecca jumped up and ran back into the bathroom, flinging off her clothes and gingerly stepping into the hot water. She sighed in delight as she slipped down into the tub letting the water roll over her tired and dirty body. She lay back for a few minutes just enjoying the feel of the water and then sat up, took the soap and started the hard work of getting herself clean.

A half hour later, Rebecca stepped out of the tub cleaner than she had been in weeks. She shook her head in disgust as she gazed down at the filthy water that now filled the tub. She shuddered at the thought of all of the dirt that had been on her before she grabbed a towel and briskly dried herself. Looking around she spied a comb and started running it through her hair. She hoped she could buy one to take with her when they left.

Wrapping a towel around herself, Rebecca left the bathroom and headed to the bedroom. She stopped just inside the door gasping at the clothes lying on the bed. “Are these for me, Brethil?” she called. She gently rubbed the material between her fingers marveling at the soft smooth texture.

She glanced up as the elleth entered the room with a smile. “Yes, these are for you. The white gown is for sleeping and the blue is for you to wear tomorrow.”

“But this dress is too pretty to wear outside! I might rip it and I will get it dirty,” Rebecca frowned.

Brethil just laughed. “This is just a plain gown for everyday wear and if you get it dirty then you shall choose another from the cabinet.” She walked to a tall cabinet and opened the door to reveal several more of the dresses in different colors. “In that cabinet,” she pointed to a dresser under a window, “are leggings and tunics. Lady Galadriel thought you would have need of them.”

Rebecca smiled, “Good. I like to wear dresses, but being outdoors all the time like this, pants are better.”

“Is there anything else you require? Or should I leave you to rest now?” Brethil looked at Rebecca questioningly with a kind smile.

“No, I don’t need anything else.” Rebecca glanced at the bed, “Sleeping in a bed will be wonderful... though it will be strange to be here alone. But no snoring either!” she smiled, but the smile didn’t reach her eyes.

Nodding, Brethil looked closely at Rebecca. “They are nearby, Rebecca and I am just across the way. If you need me for any reason, even if it is just to talk or to take you down to your friends, then come and get me. No matter what time it is. You are not alone here,” she finished softly.

“Thank you,” Rebecca whispered, “I’ll do that.”

“Then I will leave you to rest and return in the morning to take you to breakfast.” Brethil smiled at Rebecca once more as she left the talan.

Alone for the first time since her arrival in Middle-earth, Rebecca didn’t know what to do. She looked around the room and her gaze fell on the clothes lying on the bed and she realized she was still wearing the towel. She swiftly changed into the nightgown, enjoying the feel of the fabric against her body.

Sighing, Rebecca took the dress and laid it carefully over a chair in the corner and then returned the wet towel to the bathroom. Returning to the sitting room she looked around and decided to look in the cabinets. One was like a desk and held paper... no... parchment she decided it was called. She fingered it longingly wishing she had a pencil or a pen so she could keep a journal. The other cabinet was quite tall and was empty though it had assorted pegs that suggested it was used to hold clothes or something.

Returning to the bedroom, Rebecca sat on the edge of the bed noticing the softness of the mattress. She picked up a pillow and it too seemed incredibly soft and the quilt was made from a material that was similar to the nightgown she was wearing.

Finally, Rebecca slipped beneath the covers knowing she would not be able to sleep, but the room was growing dark and there was nothing else to do. The sheets and blankets felt so good and she snuggled down into them, enjoying the sense of comfort they provided. Her eyes slowly closed as exhaustion overcame her and she drifted to sleep.

--

After they had bathed, Aragorn and Thomas walked to the tent that had been set up on the lawn for the Fellowship. Thomas had been given grey leggings, shirt, and a tunic similar to what the Lothlórien wardens wore.

“How long will we be here, Aragorn?”

“I do not know, we all need to rest and you need to practice,” he grinned at Thomas.

“Oh, I don’t know about that. I think I’m pretty good now,” Thomas answered smugly before breaking into a grin. “When do you think Lord Celeborn will give me my new sword? I’d like to practice with it. And a bow so Legolas can teach me...”

“Patience, Thomas! You will have them when you need them.” Aragorn’s eyes twinkled with amusement as he looked at Thomas. “I think a bath has done you good. I have never seen you quite so excited about practicing.”

Realizing he was being teased, Thomas wisely kept silent as they approached the tent and the others lounging around outside it talking quietly.

“Where’s Rebecca?” Pippin was the first to notice that she was not with Aragorn and Thomas.

“Lady Galadriel gave her a talan to stay in while we’re here,” Thomas smiled down at the hobbit. “She was nervous about being alone, but excited about sleeping in a real bed.”

“She will enjoy the privacy,” Legolas commented.

“Will we get to see her anymore?” Merry looked from Aragorn to Thomas questioningly.

“Of course we will, Merry! She will only be sleeping and changing there; she will eat with us and be around during the day. I doubt we could keep Rebecca away if we wanted to.” Aragorn laughed at the relieved expressions on all of the hobbits’ faces.

“Well... I guess it’s all right then,” Pippin sounded as if he wasn’t too sure about the whole thing, but was willing to give it a try.

Aragorn exchanged amused glances with Boromir and Legolas.

“I think it’s good for Lady Rebecca to have her own place after having to travel with us for all this time,” Gimli’s gruff voice was loud even around the pipe he was smoking.

“Indeed it is, she will appreciate it,” Boromir smiled softly.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you!” Thomas exclaimed. “Lady Galadriel also healed Rebecca’s wrist, it’s perfectly fine now.”

The others just stared at him for a moment before the hobbits burst into a flurry of questions for Thomas and Aragorn.

Suddenly their voices stilled as the sound of singing filled the air. It surrounded them in waves of pure, rich harmonies as it softly spilled down from the trees above.

“What’s that?” Sam whispered.

“It is a lament for Gandalf,” Legolas replied softly, gazing into the distance and blinking back tears.

“It’s beautiful,” Frodo breathed.

Walking by on his way to the tent, Aragorn clasped Legolas’s shoulder briefly, acknowledging their shared pain. Legolas followed Aragorn, ducking his head as he entered the tent. With a heavy sigh, he laid down on his bedroll with his hands clasped behind his head and stared blankly at the ceiling. Knowing his friend would speak of his sorrow in his own time, Aragorn left him alone with his thoughts. The others soon joined them, glancing briefly at Legolas before quietly settling down for the night, the soft sounds of elvish singing soothing them to sleep.

--

Rebecca awoke with a start. Lying in bed she looked around carefully as events from the previous day slowly came back to her. She smiled as she relaxed back into the soft mattress. Wondering what this day would bring, Rebecca was interrupted by a soft tapping at the door. Rising quickly she crossed to the door and opened it cautiously to find Brethil standing there with a gentle smile on her face.

“Good morning, Rebecca.”

“Good morning,” she stretched and yawned as she opened the door and gestured for Brethil to come in.

“Did you rest well? Was the bed comfortable?”

“It was wonderful! So soft and the sheets so smooth and satiny. And the pillow...”

Brethil’s light musical laughter interrupted her and Rebecca joined in somewhat sheepishly.

“Well, it’s been a long time since I slept in a real bed,” she defended herself weakly.

Brethil reached out and touched Rebecca’s arm gently, “Forgive me. I was not laughing at you. I love your excitement over such a simple thing. Things we elves take for granted. That is why I was honored when Lady Galadriel asked me to guide you. Mortals see things so differently than elves; I knew that you would give me a fresh appreciation for life.” She smiled at Rebecca’s look of confusion.

Rebecca stared at Brethil for a moment and then blurted, “How old are you?”

“As mortals count such things I am quite old, but among my people I am considered young. I am 1,509 years old.”

“Oh.” Rebecca sighed softly and stared at her feet.

“What is the matter, Rebecca?” Brethil inquired, gazing at the young girl kindly.

Rebecca glanced up nervously, “I knew you were older, but I was hoping you were a little bit closer to my age.”

“I am the youngest elf in Lothlórien.”

“The youngest?” Rebecca looked at her in disbelief. “There are no elf children? Why?”

The smile Brethil gave her was almost wistful, “These are dangerous times and our people do not want to risk the lives of their elflings.”

“But that is a long time not to have any… elflings.”

“Not if you are immortal. Many elves will have families in Valinor.”

Rebecca nodded thoughtfully and then smiled. “Well, as you are closest to my age, we will have to be friends.”

Laughing, Brethil gently took her by the hand and led her to the bedroom. “Yes, we shall. Now you need to get dressed so you may join your companions for breakfast.” Rebecca’s eyes lit up as she hurried off to change into the blue dress she had set aside the night before.

--

Aragorn sat leaning against a tree enjoying the pre-dawn stillness that engulfed Lothlórien. His pipe dangled from his mouth, but it had gone out some time before and now Aragorn just absently chewed on the stem as he thought about the future. The death of Gandalf had placed a huge burden on him and he wondered what path he should take. He did not know how he could break his word to Boromir to accompany him to Minas Tirith. Yet Frodo was the hope for all Middle-earth and Aragorn did not know what Gandalf had planned to do beyond Lothlórien and he knew that he could not send the hobbit alone into Mordor. And if Aragorn went with Frodo, there was still the problem of what to do with Thomas and Rebecca. Thomas could conceivably go with him, if he improved his sword skills during their stay here, but he could not take Rebecca to Mordor. So, what he could do with her, Aragorn did not know. He sighed softly as the thoughts tumbled through his mind.

“You are troubled, mellon nín,” Legolas stated as he sank down gracefully next to Aragorn.

Glancing at him with a wry smile, Aragorn nodded. “You can ever read my heart. Is there nothing I can hide from you?”

“No.” Legolas answered shortly, looking at him seriously before breaking into a smile. “But I will not press you on this matter, you can tell me or not.” The elf shrugged slightly as he gazed into the woods.

Aragorn snorted, “Will not press me?” He looked at his friend in disbelief. “I also know you too well, mellon nín. You will not leave me alone until I tell you what is troubling me.” He laughed at the indignant look that appeared on Legolas’s face. “You never do.”

“That is not true,” Legolas protested, though his eyes told another story as they sparkled with amusement.

“Yes it is...” Aragorn smiled at Legolas, “I think you take lessons from my brothers, they never leave me alone either. But it matters not because I was going to speak with you anyway.” He paused and his smile was replaced with a slight frown. He stretched his long legs out in front of him as he shifted uncomfortably against the tree. “I am unsure of my direction, Legolas,” he admitted quietly. “Without Gandalf everyone looks to me and I do not know the right path to take from here.” He looked up to see Legolas staring at him intently with understanding in his blue eyes.

“To go with Frodo or Boromir?”

“Yes,” Aragorn nodded. “Boromir expects me to go to Minas Tirith... but the Ring...” his voice trailed off.

“What does your heart tell you?”

“Nothing!” Aragorn laughed hollowly. “It is as confused as my head. I do not know if it would be better to take Frodo to Minas Tirith and then leave from there to go to Mordor. Or, go straight from here.” He shook his head in frustration.

“Aragorn you are weary and need to rest,” Legolas said gently. “We will be here some days yet. Enjoy the beauty here and let it sooth your heart and mind. Then make your decisions.” He smiled as he gripped Aragorn’s shoulder firmly. “Now come, we need to eat,” he stood and reached his hand down toward the man.

Grabbing the hand, Aragorn let himself be pulled to his feet. “I am rather hungry,” he commented as he put his pipe away and brushed the dirt from his leggings. Finally, he looked right at Legolas, “You are right, I do need to rest... for a day or two. Things will be clearer then.” He smiled, “You are becoming wise in your old age,” he teased.

“One of us must be,” Legolas retorted, smiling as they headed back towards camp.

--

Hobbit voices awoke Thomas from a dead sleep. He rolled over and pulled the blanket over his head and tried to go back to sleep, but it was no use. Pulling the blanket down he stretched and yawned as he slowly tuned in to what the hobbits were saying.

“When do you think we will eat? I’m starving!”

That can only be Pippin, Thomas thought with amusement.

“You aren’t starving, Pip! I wonder what we’ll have to eat. Everything here is so wonderful the food must be too!”

“What if it’s just that Lembas bread?” Sam sounded doubtful. “It didn’t taste bad, but I wouldn’t want to have it for every meal.”

“Well, I just hope it’s soon and I am starving, Merry! It must be almost time for second breakfast and we haven’t had breakfast yet!”

Thomas heard Pippin sigh dramatically and he started laughing as he sat up. He pulled on his new elven boots and walked from the tent still chuckling quietly. He caught the eyes of first Boromir and then Gimli and they too were smiling in amusement at the hobbits.

“Good morning, Thomas.” A chorus of hobbit voices greeted him cheerfully followed by the gruffer voice of the dwarf and a nod from Boromir.

“Good morning,” Thomas paused, “did I hear breakfast mentioned?” He smiled down at the hobbits as they started up again. Thomas moved over and sat down between Boromir and Gimli.

“Why’d you have to bring up breakfast? Gets them all riled up again,” the dwarf growled.

Thomas shrugged, “They’d have done it anyway.”

“That’s true enough,” he snorted as he watched the hobbits.

“I am always amazed at how much such little folk can eat,” Boromir shook his head. “You have not truly seen it, Thomas, because you have only been on the trail with us, but at Rivendell...” he paused in remembrance, “one hobbit ate more food than Gimli and I combined.”

“And we eat a lot!” Gimli laughed.

Thomas joined in their laughter as he continued to watch and listen to the hobbits.

“What is so funny?”

Thomas jumped at the sound of Aragorn’s voice, and he twisted around on the log to see the Ranger and Legolas standing right behind him. “How do you do that?”

Aragorn just smiled wickedly down at Thomas and nudged him in the back with his knee. “You need to pay more attention to your surroundings, Thomas!”

Thomas thought Aragorn looked more relaxed than he had ever seen him and decided that something about this place must calm and soothe him for some reason. An elbow to his ribs brought Thomas out of his musings.

“What?” he looked at Boromir with a frown. But he just gestured across the lawn and Thomas turned to see Rebecca slowly approaching the camp. She was wearing a blue dress and he was suddenly struck by her beauty. Since he had met her, he had admired her courage, had enjoyed her sense of humor and he loved her heart – the way she treated those around her. But he had never truly been aware of her beauty until now. Thomas swallowed hard as he gazed at her, taking in her expressive brown eyes, which at this moment looked slightly apprehensive and her soft pink lips which were curved into a shy smile. Realizing he was staring, Thomas looked down at his feet in confusion, missing the amused glances that flashed between Aragorn, Legolas, and Boromir.

Merry and Pippin rushed to greet Rebecca and pulled her towards the others, talking to her excitedly.

“Rebecca! There you are! I missed you! Did you sleep all right? Hey, you look beautiful! That’s a nice...”

“Pippin!” Merry interrupted his cousin, “let someone else talk to her.” He grinned cheekily as he looked her over. “Pip’s right you know, you do look pretty.”

“It’s just the dress. You just haven’t seen me in a dress before. Or clean either,” Rebecca laughed self-consciously as the three of them joined the others.

Boromir stood as they approached, kicking Thomas’s boot meaningfully as he arose. Taking the not-so-subtle hint, Thomas scrambled to his feet joining the others in greeting Rebecca.

Bowing slightly, Boromir took Rebecca’s hand kissing it gently as he said in his most courtly manner, “Lady Rebecca, you look most lovely this morning. The color of the gown suits you, fair maiden. I missed your presence last evening, but evidently your time apart from us was spent in worthwhile pursuits.”

Rebecca looked at him in disbelief, wondering who this stranger was, though he had always been most courteous to her. Still, if they were all going to treat her like this she was going to wear pants. Looking more closely however, she noticed the spark of amusement in his eyes and his lips starting to twitch.

“Boromir!” she started to giggle in relief. “It’s just a dress.”

“I know, Lady Rebecca and you do indeed look lovely, but you also looked so frightened...”

“I did not!”

“Boromir is right, Rebecca... you looked very nervous at least,” Aragorn grinned at her.

“Nervous maybe, but not scared,” she said firmly.

“Why are you nervous?” Legolas looked at her questioningly. “You look beautiful,” he added with a soft smile.

Rebecca blushed. “Be-because I’ve never worn anything like this before. It’s too fancy. And-and I don’t want to be treated differently because I’m wearing a dress.” She glanced at Thomas who had not spoken, but he only smiled briefly before looking away.

“Well, no promises about that, Lady Rebecca,” Aragorn smiled gently, “but we will try and keep in mind that you are still the dirty, ragged girl we all know and care for.”

Everyone, including Rebecca, laughed at that and then, much to the hobbits’ delight, they finally were served breakfast.

--

The Fellowship spent most of the day at rest. Some sat talking quietly, while others, most notably Frodo, slept for much of the day. It had been a long arduous journey filled with danger and all were exhausted and relished the chance to relax. Rebecca found herself pulled into conversations about her home which made her feel melancholy, so mostly she tried to listen to the others. Thomas had been quiet all day and she assumed that he was thinking about home too, although she had noticed him staring at her several times. But he had quickly looked away from her when she smiled at him. Puzzled by that, she mentally shrugged and turned her attention back to Gimli and his description of his home in the Lonely Mountain.

Late in the afternoon Haldir and Brethil approached the company where they were scattered in small groups across the wide lawn.

“Greetings, Lady Rebecca, my lords,” Haldir gave them a small bow as his eyes swept over the group. Murmured greetings and nods were returned as he continued, “I have been asked by Lord Celeborn to escort Thomas and ...” he paused as Aragorn’s eyes narrowed in warning, “Aragorn to the armory. Lady Galadriel also requests that Lady Rebecca visit her this afternoon.”

“Me? Why?” Rebecca squeaked, frightened at the thought of being alone with Galadriel.

“I know not,” Haldir replied gently. “Lady Galadriel did not inform me of her plans, only that she wished to see you. But fear not, Lady Rebecca...” he paused until she lifted her eyes and met his calm ice blue eyes. “My lady has incredible power and wisdom beyond what a mortal may understand. But she also has compassion...” Haldir touched Rebecca’s wrist lightly, “for those around her. You need not fear her.”

Rebecca bowed her head, ashamed to think that Galadriel would harm her after all she had done for her already. “You’re right Haldir. I was just being foolish I guess.” She watched a faint smile flash across Haldir’s face as he shook his head.

“No, not foolish, Lady Rebecca. We often fear what we cannot understand and with time you will gain understanding... though mortals have precious little time in which to do that. Now, if you are ready, Lady Brethil will escort you to Lady Galadriel.”

Nodding, Rebecca smiled at Haldir and moved past him to join Brethil. She followed her towards the large mallorn tree that led to the talan where Celeborn and Galadriel lived. They talked quietly about their day as they ascended the tree. Rebecca told Brethil how the ‘men’ had teased her about the dress which made the elleth laugh. The platform where they had spoken to Celeborn and Galadriel the night before was deserted, but Brethil just crossed it without comment.

“Where are we going?”

Brethil looked down at her in surprise. “To see Lady Galadriel.”

“I know that, but where? I thought it would be here.” Rebecca gestured around them.

“No, my lady asked me to bring you to her sitting room.”

“All right... is that...is that usual?”

Brethil paused in thought before shaking her head briefly, “I know not, Rebecca. Mortals come here so seldom that I do not know if she brings them to her private talan. Certainly elves go there.”

Rebecca nodded as they climbed several more sets of stairs and she knew she would stay in good shape for their journey just from all of the stairs she had to climb. Finally they approached a collection of talans that all seemed to be connected together in some fashion. Although each was larger than her talan, they had the same basic design and feel to it. Brethil led Rebecca to one of the smaller talans and knocked softly on the door. It swung open almost immediately and Galadriel beckoned them in.

“Welcome, Lady Rebecca, Brethil.”

Taking a deep breath, Rebecca followed Brethil through the door. Nervously fiddling with a button on her dress she bowed to Galadriel, “G-good afternoon, Lady Galadriel,” Rebecca’s eyes met hers briefly before looking around the room. It was similar in size to her whole talan and very simply decorated with a few couches, chairs and pillows. Though there was a desk and some books that quickly caught her attention. She looked back at Galadriel to find the elf watching her with a faint smile.

“You are nervous, child.” It was a statement not a question.

Staring at the floor, Rebecca whispered, “Yes.”

“Why?”

Rebecca shrugged as she struggled to put her feelings into words. “I’m-I’m not really sure. I know you won’t hurt me or anything... but...” she glanced up and saw only compassion in Galadriel’s eyes. “I’ve never known anyone like you... or this place before... so it scares me.” She shrugged again helplessly, “I’m sorry,” she added in a whisper.

“Be at peace, child. You need not be sorry for your feelings,” she said gently though an undercurrent of strength and wisdom flowed through her very voice as she spoke. “This world, Lothlórien, myself are all very different from your home, it does not surprise me that you feel nervous. And I am not offended.”

Rebecca looked up with surprise and relief clearly written on her face.

“Child, I have been around for a very long time and have been with many types of people during those years. It takes much to offend me.” Galadriel smiled briefly.

Sighing, Rebecca relaxed, noticing that it was now becoming a little easier to look at Galadriel.

Galadriel gazed intently at Rebecca for a moment and then nodded, as if satisfied with what she saw. “Now, I believe you are able to speak with me without fear.”

Rebecca nodded shyly, “I think so.”

“Good, come and sit, we have much to discuss.” Moving to the couch, Rebecca sank down into the soft cushions where she was joined by Brethil who smiled and patted her arm gently.

“Lady Rebecca I do not know the reason you were brought here from your world. Did Gandalf tell you anything? Did he have any ideas?”

Rebecca thought she detected a hint of sorrow in Galadriel as she mentioned Gandalf’s name. “No,” she responded, shaking her head and frowning slightly as she thought, “he said it... it would be revealed in time.”

“Yes, it will be. At times, I have been given what you would call precise visions of future events, but generally I only receive vague impressions. Like now with you and Thomas. The Valar have called you here for their own purposes and we cannot question that.”

I can, Rebecca thought sadly as images of home flashed through her mind.

Galadriel reached out and softly caressed her cheek. “Be at peace, child. Though I know this must be difficult for you, you must remain strong. The Valar are not cruel and they do have a plan for you. You must trust that.”

Sighing deeply, Rebecca nodded before looking up at Galadriel. “I just wish they’d tell me why I’m here and what I’m supposed to do so I can go home.”

Glancing at Brethil before responding, Galadriel gazed at the girl searchingly before responding. “Child, as I said, I do not know your purpose or your destiny,” Brethil took Rebecca’s hand in hers and squeezed it comfortingly, “But...” her voice softened, “what if you never go back home?” Galadriel paused. “What if your destiny is to live out your life in Middle-earth?” she added gently.

Rebecca just stared at Galadriel for a full minute, unblinking, as she thought about that, the possibility of not going home again. Of course she and Thomas had talked about marrying someone, but in her heart, she hadn’t really thought that would happen. Yet, here was this incredibly wise and powerful elven queen telling her it was a possibility. Rebecca couldn’t imagine not seeing her mom again, let alone her cousins and the rest of her family. She didn’t really care about anyone or anything else. Blinking her eyes several times, she shook her head, biting the inside of her cheek to hold back the tears that threatened. “Do you think that will happen to me, that I will stay here?” she whispered.

“I know not, child. But you need to think about that possibility. You need to prepare yourself if that is your destiny, the path for your life. Do you not agree?”

Reluctantly, Rebecca nodded while she still held tightly to Brethil’s hand. “What should I do?”

“I sense in you an empathy for others and great potential to be a healer.”

Rebecca laughed shortly and Galadriel looked at her inquiringly.

“Aragorn teased me once about being a healer.”

“Estel has great insight into people and their character. You would only have time to learn some basic skills here, but it would give you a sense of whether or not it would be something you should continue later.” She paused and her grey eyes became piercing and distant and Rebecca had to look away. “I believe this is extremely important for you. Are you willing to learn, child?” Galadriel gazed at her intently and again Rebecca had to look away, staring instead at the cabinet just beyond the elf.

Frowning slightly she slowly nodded, “I’m willing to try. Will you be teaching me?” She shifted her gaze back to Galadriel.

“No, my healing gifts are different than what you will be learning. What I did with your wrist is not something you could learn. You will need to learn practical healing skills so my head healer, Lord Thalion, will train you. I will send Brethil to help you.”

“Good, it will be nice to have her with me.” Rebecca turned and smiled at the elleth.

“Now, the other thing you need to learn is some skills with weapons...”

“I think Aragorn will teach me, now that my wrist is healed,” Rebecca interrupted. Realizing her mistake she quickly apologized, “I’m sorry for interrupting you.”

Galadriel’s eyes twinkled briefly in amusement, “It is all right, child, the young are often moved by excitement. Why did you say that Estel would teach you?”

“Because I asked him to when he started teaching Thomas. I couldn’t then because of my wrist, but he said I could someday. I’m healed now... so I think he would,” she finished uncertainly and with a small frown on her face.

“I think if you remind him of that he will teach you to wield a sword of some type. Estel will see the wisdom of you being able to defend yourself.”

“He gave me a knife already after some wolves attacked us,” she shuddered in remembrance.

Galadriel continued, “I also believe you need to learn to use a bow. I know not why. It is just a very strong impression I have. Estel will not agree and he can be rather... stubborn at times.” She smiled fondly. “In any case, I will not ask him or Legolas to teach you, nor will I tell them that you are being trained. I am going to have Haldir teach you, if you are willing to attempt this. I will warn you that it will not be easy.”

“I would love to learn! And I can keep a secret from them,” Rebecca’s eyes sparkled merrily.

“Good.” Galadriel nodded as she arose. “Then you shall start tomorrow. Ask Estel tonight about him teaching you and then Brethil will talk to Lord Thalion and Haldir about when you will work with them.”

Rebecca smiled, eager to have something to do, something to learn, something that would help the others in the Fellowship so that she would no longer be a burden. “Thank you, Lady Galadriel,” she bowed.

“You are welcome, child...and be at peace about your future. It is out of your control. Trust that it will work out as it was meant to.” She gazed down at Rebecca with a serene and understanding smile.

“I will try but-but it is hard when...” her voice quavered slightly and then Rebecca looked up at Galadriel, “I’ll try my best,” she said firmly.

Galadriel opened the door as she nodded, “That is all you can do, child. Brethil will take you to re-join your companions now, unless you have any questions.”

Shaking her head, she looked up at the tall elf and smiled, “No, not right now.”

“Then I wish you a good night, child.”

Rebecca bowed before following Brethil back down the stairs.

--

Thomas trailed after Aragorn and Haldir on the way to the armory. He only halfway listened to their conversation because he was busy looking at all of the activities and buildings they passed. There were workshops where elves were making cloth and another turning the cloth into clothes. Different sizes of woodshops where beautiful furniture of all kinds were being created. And shops for making baskets and pottery shops where plates, bowls, and cups were made. Thomas paused in front of that shop and watched the elf for a moment.

“Thomas!”

“Coming, Aragorn,” Thomas ran to catch up.

“What were you doing?”

“Watching the potter. I’ve seen them making pottery in movies, but never in person before...” Thomas started to explain, but stopped at Aragorn and Haldir’s confused looks. “Right. You don’t know what movies are.”

They both shook their heads though they exchanged amused glances at Thomas’s enthusiasm.

“Well, it’s sort of like a huge picture... only it moves and people talk...” at their stunned and disbelieving expressions Thomas stopped. “Well, anyway I wanted to watch the potter,” he shrugged and glanced away, hurt that Aragorn didn’t believe him. He started when he felt a hand on his arm and he looked up to see Aragorn’s intense grey eyes gazing at him with a slightly furrowed brow.

“Thomas, I do believe you, that you have seen this ‘movie’ in your world. My reaction was to this whole idea of a moving picture and how it could be done. It is not something I can imagine. The world you come from is so different than here and I think you know that.” Thomas nodded. “But I do believe and trust you, Thomas Morgan.”

Thomas blinked at the use of his last name, surprised that Aragorn even remembered it since he had only told him the one time weeks ago. “Thank you for explaining... I did think you didn’t believe me.”

“I know,” Aragorn smiled faintly. “Now the armory and your new sword await us.” He turned and walked on.

As he moved to follow Aragorn, Thomas glanced at Haldir who was regarding him steadily. He fell in step next to Thomas as they walked. They walked silently for several steps before Haldir spoke.

“I believe you as well, Thomas.”

Thomas nodded in acknowledgement of his words, but in truth Haldir’s approval meant little to him.

“If you would like to try your hand at pottery it can be arranged,” he offered.

“No, thanks, I really just wanted to watch. I think I’ll be busy enough with sword and archery practice.”

“Very well, but if you change your mind let me know.”

Arriving at the armory, Thomas saw that Lord Celeborn was waiting for them and he swallowed nervously. Following Aragorn’s lead, Thomas bowed to the elf-lord, “My lord,” he greeted him respectfully.

“Thomas.” Celeborn nodded in acknowledgement. “Hand me that scimitar so that you may have a proper sword.”

Carefully, Thomas handed over the blade and Celeborn gave it to one of the many elves who worked in the armory. “Destroy that,” he growled, his eyes dark and his expression fierce.

“Come, Thomas, I have made arrangements for you to try a variety of swords so that you may find one that suits you.” Celeborn strode off rapidly around the armory heading for a nearby training field and Thomas struggled to keep up with the tall elf’s long strides.

A small table had been set up at the edge of the field and it held four sheathed swords that were similar in appearance, but varied in length. Thomas looked at them closely wondering if length was the only difference or if other factors figured into selecting a sword. But he assumed that someone would tell him and he smiled, excited about having his own sword. He glanced around and saw that Aragorn and Haldir were leaning against a nearby tree, leaving him to deal with the elf-lord on this own.

“I know you have never chosen a sword before, but whose sword did you learn with? Boromir’s?”

“Yes, my lord, and Aragorn’s.”

“Aragorn’s?” Celeborn sounded surprised and the elf-lord glanced at Aragorn who shrugged slightly.

“There were no other options,” Aragorn admitted with a wry smile.

Clearly confused, Thomas looked from Celeborn to Aragorn and back again. “What’s wrong? Oh... Legolas mentioned it was a special sword. But Aragorn never told me why.”

Faint amusement lit the depths of Celeborn’s eyes, “Yes... special is one word to call that sword. I believe Estel will find time to speak with you and Lady Rebecca about the sword and other things in the next day or two.” Celeborn looked pointedly at Aragorn.

“Yes, Daeradar, I will.”

Turning back to the swords, Celeborn continued, “You know, then, that each sword has a different weight and ‘feel’.” Thomas nodded. “You need to choose one that best fits you. Try each of these before you decide.”

Thomas stepped forward and picked up the first sword. “It’s so much lighter than either Boromir's or Aragorn’s sword!” he exclaimed.

“It is an elven blade and we make them that way.”
Thomas looked up at Celeborn doubtfully; remembering Boromir saying that a sword must be heavy enough to pierce armor to slay orcs, but then he nodded, elves had a little more experience with this than he did.

“Elves use different materials and methods than Men, Young Thomas. We have been killing orcs with these blades for thousands of years.” Celeborn’s voice had grown cold.

Nodding, Thomas slid the sword from its sheath. The blade itself was thinner in width than the others he had held and there were engravings on it near the hilt. He held it loosely as he had been taught and took a few practice swings. While he liked the look of it, it didn’t ‘feel’ right. It was the shortest sword on the table and he realized it was probably a foot shorter than Boromir’s sword. Glancing down the table he saw that the swords were arranged by length, the last one being about the same length as Aragorn’s.

Thomas went down the line slowly, repeating the process he had done with the first sword. After the last sword he paused and glanced back down the table thinking about each sword. The first one he dismissed immediately, the feel was wrong. The same with the last one, it was too long for him. He was torn between the two in the middle so he moved back to them and re-tested them both for longer periods of time, finally settling on one.

“This one,” Thomas declared, looking up at Celeborn briefly before glancing at Aragorn who nodded in approval. “I like the length... and it just feels right to me.”

“Then it is yours. May it serve you well, Thomas, wherever the Valar may send you. Now, let us test it out. Come along.” Celeborn headed out on to the training field.

Thomas looked at Aragorn with wide eyes, “I can’t spar with him,” he pleaded. Aragorn just shook his head and gestured for Thomas to follow the elf-lord, though he and Haldir also followed.

Celeborn waited for Thomas with an unreadable expression that softened slightly at his hesitant approach.

“Be at peace, young Thomas. I am only going to spar with you a little and in my thousands of years of training I have only accidentally killed a handful of elves.”
Celeborn’s lips twitched in amusement.

Daeradar!” Aragorn exclaimed.

Fortunately, Thomas had caught Celeborn’s small indication of amusement since he was not looking at Celeborn’s intense eyes, but rather of the lower part of his face. Recognizing the comment for what it was - an attempt to relax him, Thomas smiled faintly at the elf-lord. Still, he nervously wiped his sweaty palms on his leggings as he prepared himself to ‘attack’.

This is just great, Thomas thought, he had barely learned the basics and now he had to spar with a thousands year old elf-lord. Thomas grimaced. Determined not to let Aragorn down, he approached his opponent slowly and for a few moments there was the clashing of metal before Thomas’s sword was flipped from his hand. Celeborn stepped back while it was retrieved and they went at it again with the same result. Never once was Thomas able to drive the elf-lord back a single step. He was continually being pushed back and lost his sword within a very short during each attempt, but he continued to try and would not give up.

Finally, Celeborn stopped and sheathed his weapon. “Well done, Thomas. For one with little experience, you do quite well. You have good teachers,” he glanced at Aragorn, “but you are also quick on your feet and you do not give up. Those things cannot be taught and will serve you well as you continue to train. But, you must work hard.”

“Thank you, my lord.” Thomas bowed, trying to suppress a grin.

“I must leave you now. Tomorrow when you need a bow, Haldir will supply you with the proper equipment.” Thomas nodded.

Taking his leave of Aragorn and Haldir, Celeborn turned and disappeared into the trees in the direction of the city.

Still flushed from the elf-lord’s praise, Thomas was unaware of the approach of Aragorn and Haldir until he heard Aragorn’s amused voice.

“Come, Thomas,” Aragorn pushed Thomas along in front of him, “do not let his praise go to your head. You still have much to learn.”

Glancing back at him with a grin, Thomas nodded in agreement, “I know, but still that was fun... and it was nice of him to say those things about me.”

They walked slowly back through the workshops as night started to darken the woods. Lanterns were lit, giving the area a festive air that was enhanced by the incredible beauty of the elves that worked in each shop. Thomas suddenly realized that he was becoming so used to seeing elves that they no longer stood out as unique or strange.

Haldir departed shortly before they reached the tents with a promise to return in the morning to bring Thomas a bow. They met up with Rebecca as she was returning from seeing Galadriel.

“Thomas! You got a new sword! May I see it?” Rebecca asked eagerly.

While Aragorn watched with a faint smile, Thomas carefully pulled the sword out and showed it to her. As she moved to touch the hilt, Thomas pulled it back out of reach with a frown. “Careful! Here, hold it like this,” he said gruffly. Rebecca looked at him, surprised he would let her hold the sword at all. But she took it gingerly as he directed her.

“It’s not as heavy as you said,” she narrowed her eyes accusingly, remembering back to his comment that she couldn’t fight because the sword was too heavy. She looked up as Aragorn unsheathed his sword.

“Try mine,” he said sternly.

Realizing she had unintentionally questioned Thomas’s honor, Rebecca sighed in frustration at the different rules they had in Middle-earth. Ignoring Aragorn for the moment she looked at Thomas who was watching the interplay between Aragorn and Rebecca.

Thomas wasn’t upset with her and if they had been at home or alone here he would have told her that. But he also knew that Aragorn wouldn’t let it drop, that things were different here and both of them had to change. He didn’t want Rebecca to say something to some stranger that would get her into trouble and he didn’t want to do things that would mark him as different, which is why he was working so hard to say ‘my lord’ instead of ‘sir’ because he knew that here ‘my lord’ was the respectful term.

“I’m sorry, Thomas. I didn’t mean to question your honor,” she said quietly. She handed him his sword and he quickly sheathed it.

“It’s all right, Rebecca. I know you didn’t mean to,” he smiled. “Yes, this sword is much lighter than Boromir's or Aragorn’s sword,” Thomas glanced up to see Aragorn dismissing him with his eyes. “It was made by the elves. I think Aragorn wants to talk with you,” he finished softly, reaching out and squeezing her hand gently.

“I’m sure he does,” she muttered as he walked away. She looked up at Aragorn with a heavy sigh, prepared to meet his disapproval only to find him regarding her with a small smile.

“That was well done, Rebecca.”

Rebecca looked at him in such confusion that Aragorn laughed quietly. “I meant the apology and the fact that you knew immediately that what you said cast doubt on his honor. You are learning.”

“Very slowly it seems. There is so much to learn. It is so different here and I make so many mistakes.” She sighed again before mumbling under her breath, “Thomas never makes mistakes.”

Aragorn glanced at her questioningly not quite sure he had heard her correctly, “What did you say?”

“Nothing... it doesn’t matter.”

He looked at her searchingly for a moment and then let it go. “Hmmm... yes, you do make mistakes, but you are learning, Rebecca. Now, come and sit down over here and tell me how your time went with Lady Galadriel.”

“It went very well. I was nervous, but we talked about that and it helped. She’s nice, Aragorn!”

Aragorn smiled at Rebecca’s enthusiastic endorsement of Lady Galadriel as well as her swift change in mood. “I am glad you liked her. Did she just want to visit with you or did she have something else in mind?”

“No she-she wants me to have some training as a healer.” Rebecca paused briefly, “I don’t quite understand it, but she felt I would need to learn it and I would be good at it. Someone named Thalion is going to train me.”

Aragorn’s eyes widened in surprise, “He is an excellent healer. He learned from Lord Elrond, the greatest healer in Middle-earth.” He suddenly smiled in remembrance, “I said you would make a good healer.”

“I remember. Do you remember what else you told me that morning?” Rebecca bit her lip nervously as Aragorn narrowed his eyes in thought.

“Yes,” he answered softly, “I told you that someday you could be trained in the use of a weapon.” Aragorn tilted his head as he studied her intently. “Is that still your desire?”

A smile lit up Rebecca’s face as she nodded, “Yes, it is, Aragorn.”

Aragorn picked up her left hand and closely examined the wrist, hand and fingers. “It is well healed,” he said absently. “Rebecca, I will train you because it would be wise for you to have at least some basic knowledge of how to wield a sword. But you know how I feel and I will pay any cost to keep you from being in a position where you would have to fight.” He looked at her closely to make sure that she understood what he was saying.

“I understand, Aragorn. After Moria I understand, but I will feel better with it in my hands.”

Aragorn nodded sadly as he stood and pulled Rebecca to her feet, knowing that she really did not know how bad things could get, that there could be far worse things. Aragorn had lived far too long and seen too many evil things to think that even Moria and a Balrog were the worst that they could face on this journey. “Let’s go and eat dinner, Rebecca, I am sure the others are waiting.”

--

As Thomas walked away from Aragorn and Rebecca he veered away from the camp where the rest of the Fellowship was gathered. He knew it would be awhile before they ate because he figured the ‘discussion’ going on behind him would take some time. Smiling slightly he shook his head as he recalled the resigned expression on Rebecca’s face as he walked away.

Hearing the faint sound of water, Thomas followed the noise to a small steam running through the woods bordering the lawn. Finding a comfortable spot Thomas sat down with his legs stretched out before him, leaning back on his hands. His mind drifted back through the day as he stared at the water flowing over and around the rocks scattered across the stream.

Picking out a new sword and sparring with Lord Celeborn had been an interesting experience. Listening to his friends talk about their homes was fun, but Thomas found his thoughts kept wandering to Rebecca. Thinking about how she doing right now with Aragorn. Wondering what Galadriel had wanted to discuss with her. He thought about how pretty she looked in her new dress. That last thought made Thomas pause and he tried to figure out why he was thinking about how pretty she looked. Rebecca was just his friend, so it shouldn’t matter how pretty she looked.

Determined not to think about Rebecca anymore Thomas turned his thoughts toward home, which he hadn’t allowed himself to do earlier in the day with everyone around. Images of his mom, younger brother, even his house and bedroom all quickly flashed through his mind. Thomas took deep breaths and used his sleeve to wipe tears away as the pictures faded. He wondered if he would ever see them again and if they knew where he was. He questioned whether he would ever go home and if he even wanted to.

Thomas shook his head slowly as he pondered that last thought. If it weren’t for his mom and brother, he would like to stay here in Middle-earth. Even with all the dangers, the orcs and balrogs... and whatever else he might face in the days ahead. There were men... well, people here, like Aragorn, Boromir, and Legolas that he could respect and trust... and who were willing to extend that back to him. There were no men like that at home. Then there were all of the other people he had met – elves, hobbits, dwarves. They were all fascinating and had such diverse cultures and yet they all seemed to have such inner strength and kindness. He knew he might change his mind after this trip, but somehow it felt like this place suited him.

Thomas glanced around, suddenly realizing that it was now pitch black and the only light was the dim glow from the moonlight reflecting off the water. He wondered how much time had gone by since he had left Aragorn and Rebecca and he hoped the hobbits hadn’t eaten all of the food. “Damn, I hope I can find my way back,” he muttered as he rose to his feet.

“I came to fetch you.”

Thomas spun around. “Legolas?” he asked uncertainly.

“Yes, it is me,” he sounded amused.

“How did you know where I was?”

“I followed your trail.”

“In the dark?!”

Legolas laughed merrily, “Yes, I am an elf, remember? Now, we must go, everyone has been quite concerned about you.” He turned to leave.

“Oh, I-I was thinking and lost track of the time.” Thomas carefully followed Legolas through the woods until they reached the lawn near the tent.

Legolas stopped and looked at Thomas intently, “It is easy to lose track of time, especially in a place like Lothlórien. But you are not used to being in the woods, knowing how to track or follow a trail. Until you learn those skills, you could get lost very easily, especially after dark. I think it would be wise for you to stay close to the tent area unless you are with Aragorn, Boromir or myself. At least until you know your way around, which you will very shortly.”

Thomas nodded while staring at the ground, embarrassed that he had caused the others to worry and that he was being scolded, however gently, by Legolas, someone he greatly respected.

“I would teach you those skills as we have time, Thomas, if you would like to learn,” he offered.

Thomas jerked his head up and met Legolas’s now sparkling eyes, “Would you really? I would like to learn to do those things,” he exclaimed.

“Good, then we shall start tomorrow. Now let’s go and see if the hobbits have left you any supper.”

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