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eowyn and legolas

glimpses of the future

Haldir pulled back the curtain; the booth was lined with furs and heated with a glowing brazier.

“Come inside, and take a seat,” said the woman.

The sign outside said ‘Fortunes Told’. Haldir had heard of human wise women and their extraordinary powers, and had been expecting an old crone, bowed down by a lifetime’s experience, but the woman inviting him to sit beside her was no older than Eowyn—a vibrant beauty with hair the colour of carantaur leaves.

Something told him that to enter the booth would be to court disaster.

He stepped inside and sat down.

“You are troubled,” said the woman, gazing at him intently. “Let us see why.” She held out her hand.

Haldir gave her a silver piece.

She laughed, and it was a lovely sound. “We’ll worry about payment later, Master Elf,” she said. “First, I must see your palm.” She returned the coin.

“Oh...” Haldir fumbled the piece away, then laid his left hand, palm upwards, upon hers.

“By the gods,” she said, “what a lifeline!” She leaned in closer. “You have cheated death, quite recently, I see. And... More recently still, you have suffered some kind of... Transformation.” She looked up at him. “I have never seen anything quite like that before.”

Her eyes were of the palest green, edged with a grey that was almost as dark her pupils, and her gaze was like a wild creature’s. “All that is in the past,” said Haldir.

“Yes. But we must understand the past to predict the future.” She looked at his hand again. “Your love line... Branches. Two identical paths... One ends suddenly—you have loved and lost the same woman twice—lost her to the same man.”

“Elf,” said Haldir. “But, the second time—well, it does not matter. Is there any hope?”

“Of winning her?”

Haldir shrugged.

“There is always hope.” She stroked his palm with her slender finger; Haldir shivered. “Why do you value yourself so little?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

This one betrays you. And you permit it.”

“He is a king,” said Haldir. “And...” He watched a tendril of flaming hair slide over her creamy shoulder. “That does not matter, either.”

Gently, the woman folded his fingers over his palm, ‘closing’ his hand. “I can see no more,” she said.

“But you have told me nothing.”

“Of the future, no. Some things I cannot see.”

“See? Or tell?”

“It is the same thing.”

Without realising it, Haldir had raised his hand, and he lifted her wayward tress, and smoothed it back over her bare shoulder, and the woman, closing her eyes, turned her head and pressed her cheek to his fingers.

“This,” said Haldir, softly, “is what you saw...”

“Part of it.”

“Will you not tell me all?”

She shook her head. “I cannot. You must allow time to run its natural course.”

“What is your name?”

“Ayleth,” she said.

“Then until time brings us together again, Ayleth,” said Haldir, raising her hand to his lips.

...

Eowyn followed the direction of Legolas’ gaze, across the frozen lake to the far shore, where the sleigh bearing his father and Cyllien was just visible against the dull grey ice and the dark forest beyond. “Do not worry, my love,” she said, patting his arm—

The elf turned suddenly, eyes wide—startled—as though he had forgotten that she was standing beside him.

“What is it?” asked Eowyn.

“The woman,” said Legolas. “Over there.” He pointed.

Eowyn screwed up her eyes and scanned the shoreline. “My sight is not as sharp as yours, Lassui; all I can see is your father and Cyllien. No woman.”

“She...” Legolas looked about frantically. “She was there—she came out of the birch trees. She called to me for help.”

Eowyn frowned. “She called to you, Lassui? Singled you out amongst this crowd?”

“Yes, she...” Legolas stared across the lake again, confused. “I am sure I saw a woman. She was cold and frightened and calling to me for help.”

Eowyn was not entirely convinced, but she trusted Legolas’ elven senses. “Come, my love,” she said. “We will leave the skating to Hentmirë and Gimli, and we will go and find her.”

...

“Look!” said Valandil.

In the next booth, several young men, sitting at writing slopes, were carefully inscribing souvenir parchments. “Shall we buy one?”

Wilawen shook her head, laughing. “No one can match an elf for throwing money away.”

“Come sir—lady,” cried the proprietor, who seemed to be the scribes’ teacher, “look at the quality of our work. No obligation.” He pointed to the canvas wall behind the hunched figures, where examples of their writing were pinned up for customers to examine—some lettered in simple black, others illuminated with elaborate interlace borders—each bearing a blank space, at the top of the design, to allow the scribes to add their customers’ names to order.

The couple came forward slowly, Wilawen leaning heavily on Valandil’s arm. “Which do you like best, Faer vara?” the elf asked, referring to the different styles of lettering.

Wilawen shook her head, still amused. “You choose—it is you who wants one!”

“Very well—I like that one,” said Valandil.

“It will take a few moments, sir,” said the teacher. “Perhaps the lady would like to sit down whilst you wait?”

“Thank you,” said Wilawen, “that would be a relief.”

The man brought out a wooden crate, turned it onto its side, then laid a folded cloth upon it. “There,” he said, testing its strength by leaning down on it with all his weight, “it is quite safe.”

Valandil helped Wilawen lower herself onto the seat. She smiled up at him, gratefully, resting one hand upon her stomach.

“What names shall I write, sir?” asked the scribe.

“Wilawen, Valandil and Shortly Expected Babe,” said the father-to-be, happily.

...

Holding tightly to Legolas’ hand, Eowyn glanced over her shoulder. “We are a long way from everyone else, Lassui,” she said.

The ice they were walking on seemed thinner—less substantial—than the ice at the centre of the lake, and it occurred to her that, if one or both of them were to fall through to the freezing water, they would not survive without swift help. “We should have brought others with us, my love. Gimli and Haldir...”

You can go back if you like,” said Legolas.

“Lassui!” His words were like a slap in the face—never, in all the time she had known him, had he treated her with such indifference. Eowyn dropped his hand, and stood, arms akimbo. “It is time we both went back,” she said, firmly.

“She is here,” said Legolas. “She is alone and frightened and she asked me for help. So I am going to help her. You can go back.”

“What has happened to you?”—Legolas was approaching the steeply sloping shore—“Lassui! The ice is very thin there...”

Eowyn looked anxiously from the elf to the Frost Fair—perhaps a quarter mile away—and back again. Legolas was now climbing where she—lacking an elf’s physical grace—could not follow, but something else was worrying her, too. “You say that you heard this woman call to you over the crowd. But I do not think that even elven ears can hear across such a distance,” she said.

“What are you saying?” asked Legolas, climbing the snow-covered bank. “That I imagined her?”

“Well... Perhaps you were mistaken.”

“Leave me,” said Legolas. And without a backward glance, he disappeared into the trees.

“Legolas!” cried Eowyn. “Legolas, come back!”

 

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Yuletide Calendar 2005

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