Heart of the Storm – Chapter Eleven

Days passed quickly for Legolas in Lothlorien. He awakened each morning in Storm’s arms and kissed her gently until she roused and returned his kisses. He loved the smell of her hair, dark against his pillow, and the sound of her soft regular breathing as she slept. Reluctantly, they would part soon after waking so they could arrive separately for breakfast in the family dining room of the House of Lorien.

Legolas often wondered how Storm could tolerate watching her cousins vie for his attention and flirt as they did. As he got to know them better, he found that there was great competitiveness among Alkorewen, Bule and Brago and that winning him seemed more an elaborate game of strategy than an affair of the heart. Legolas could only imagine the difficulty Storm experienced, always maintaining a cool, detached exterior in front of her cousins, struggling to give no indication to anyone how deeply she felt about him. He knew that if the roles had been reversed, he would have found it beyond bearing to watch his brother vie for Storm’s attention so blatantly.

Legolas knew that the careful neutrality he and Storm expressed publicly did not fool Lady Galadriel in the slightest. Her gaze upon him was always one of rich understanding and thoughtfulness. He could see Galadriel’s affection for Storm in her eyes, and he felt he was frequently being assessed for his worthiness. Galadriel and Celeborn said nothing to Legolas about his purpose in coming to Lothlorien but through some unspoken agreement the Lord and Lady found ways for Legolas and Storm to be together without arousing undue attention. It had been Celeborn himself who had suggested that Legolas join Storm on her scouting patrols in order to see more of Lothlorien and to solicit Legolas’ thoughts about the growing darkness in that drew closer and closer to the borders Lothlorien.

Legolas had fought to keep a smile off his face while Storm and her uncle openly debated the pros and cons of him accompanying her that first morning of patrol. She finally acquiesced to her uncle’s suggestion, noting that Legolas skill with a bow and arrow would at least make him useful if trouble arose.

“Useful?” he teased her later as they made a sweep of the southern border. “Useful? Is that all I am to you, Storm of Lothlorien? A bow and arrow at your command if we sight Orcs?” Storm allowed him to tease her for some time before silencing him with a kiss, reminding him that he was many things to her. He was easily mollified. He sometimes wondered whose heart healed the most when they were together— he had not felt this happy in his heart and soul in many long years. His delight in their time together almost made him forget the growing feeling of menace rising from the East.

When they were not on patrol, Legolas would lay his head in Storm’s lap under the enormous Malloren trees and they would talk quietly about their innermost thoughts and hopes. With enough coaxing Storm would sing to him the songs of the her people in a rich alto and he would slip into waking dreams where Lothlorien’s past unspooled before his eyes.

Legolas found himself readily accepted by the other scouts. He suspected that Haldir had had something to do with that. Storm was not guarded about her feelings in front of her fellow scouts and they openly slept in each other’s arms on the sentry platforms. Haldir gave Legolas a long look one morning when they found themselves alone. “Legolas of Mirkwood, I believe your coming to Lothlorien has been a good thing. It has been a long time since we have seen a sparkle in Storm’s eye or the blush of happiness in her cheeks. She shines with a beauty we have not seen in some time. Does she also make your heart sing?”

Legolas was not offended by the personal question. Haldir’s brotherly affection for Storm was always evident. “She does make my heart sing.” He agreed seriously.

“And will you take Storm to Mirkwood and make her your royal bride?” little about such formalities. I believe Storm loves me deeply but I do not believe that being the Princesses of Mirkwood is a goal she aspires to. Truthfully, such things as thrones and crowns seem unimportant with the world changing so. The future is no longer clear to me. I would be content to know only that her heart and pledge are mine.”

Haldir nodded his understanding. “It is then as I believed, Legolas of Mirkwood. True love has come again to Storm of Lothlorien in the form of Legolas Greenleaf.”

The days slipped quickly into weeks and the weeks into months in the lands of Lothlorien. Storm and Legolas enjoyed many serene moments but troubled times as well. They encountered Orcs several times while on patrol, testing the skill of all of the scouts. Although the scouts claimed that Legolas had no peer with a bow and arrow, he was relieved to find them all swift and accurate when a particularly large band of Orcs crossed the Eastern border. No Orc survivors escaped elven arrows that night and no elven blood was spilled. Legolas knew that it always troubled Storm to extinguish life of any kind, healer that she was. She showed no mercy to the Orcs however, grimly mowing them down with deadly accuracy. The scouts of Lothlorien intended to lose no more of their own to these merciless evil beings.

A fortnight after the last Orc attack, a rider arrived from Mirkwood with a message from King Thandruil for his son. The messenger awaited Legolas in the great hall when he arrived fresh from the baths to join the House of Lorien for dinner after several days on patrol.

Berrylyn rushed to intercept him as soon as he spotted him. “Legolas, your father requests that you return home immediately. There is much darkness afoot in the woods of Mirkwood and your father may soon have need to send you to Rivendell to the House of Elrond. He apologizes for the haste but insists that you return home with me as soon as possible. He also asked me to remind you that your errand here remains important to him and that any arrangements that can be made on that front should be made without delay.”

Legolas gravely nodded his understanding and gave Berrylyn leave to seek food and drink. His father would never have called him back to Mirkwood unless it was urgent. To be sent to Rivendell also bespoke serious tidings. He had a sudden prescience that the world as he had known it was about to come to a sudden end. With a heavy heart and a troubled mind, he approached Storm who was already seated at the family table. Time had suddenly taken on an urgency that he had been unprepared for. Storm appeared to sense his unease from across the room and rose to meet him. Legolas felt her eyes on him, full of concern.
“You have had news from Mirkwood,” she stated with certainty, reading his face.
Legolas nodded. “I must return immediately. I leave in the morning and I do not know when I will be able to return.”

“So soon. . .” Storm trailed off.

Heedless of everyone around them, Legolas took both her hands in his and looked earnestly at her. “I know we have agreed to just enjoy the moments of happiness we have found together and not fret about the future but my heart tells me that our world is changing and I must speak my heart now lest there is no other chance. I love you as I have loved no other. I do not know what the future holds but I wish to know before I leave whether you will pledge yourself to me.”
“Are you asking Storm to pledge her heart to Legolas Greenleaf or are you asking if the Lady of Nevlotwen will pledge her troth to the Prince of Mirkwood?” Storm’s eyes were full of question. She, too, seemed to have forgotten the many others who filled the hall.

Legolas knew that the only barrier he ever truly feared was before them. He chose his words carefully. “I knew the first night that I dined in this hall that the Prince of Mirkwood would marry no one but the Lady Nevlotwen,” he felt Storm’s anxiety grow. “But it is Legolas, not the prince, who asks for the pledge. If a marriage between our houses with all that that entails does not make you happy, I will never push. I want you Storm, I want to know I have your heart, not just your hand given begrudgingly in marriage.”

Storm was silent for a long moment, seemingly lost in her own thoughts. Finally she spoke, “I, Nevlotwen of Lothlorien freely gives my heart to Legolas of Mirkwood. I bind myself to you and your fate. I will give my love, my support and my comfort to you. My arms will always be your refuge. I will be your friend, your lover, and if it pleases you, I will be your wife.”

The words marked a solemn vow, an exchange between the Elven people more binding and sacred than the legalities of royal marriage. Legolas felt his heart lift and looked at her tenderly. “I, Legolas of Mirkwood freely gives my heart to Nevlotwen of Lothlorien. I bind myself to you and your fate. I will give my love, my support and my comfort to you. My arms will always be your refuge. I will be your friend and your lover. And yes, Storm, it would please me to take you as my wife.”

It wasn’t until Legolas leaned in to kiss Storm to seal the vow that he remembered that they were in the crowded banquet hall. The crowd was completely silent, staring intensely at them. At some point their private exchange had become a very public one. No matter. He kissed her with love and passion and longing, damning everyone to think what they will.

With the vow sealed, there was nothing else to do but take Storm by the hand and approach Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel at the high table. Legolas could feel stunned silence from the ladies Alkorewen, Bule and Brago as they passed them. Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel radiated only curiosity. Legolas bowed deeply before them. “I have received word that I must return to Mirkwood tomorrow morning and attend my father on a matter of urgency. I have asked the Lady Nevlotwen to pledge her troth to me and she has agreed. I wish to have your blessing if I may.”

The Lady Galadriel looked at Legolas steadily. “I believe our blessing is belated and unnecessary as you have already pledged your hearts with vows our people consider the most solemn and sacred, as is your right and privilege. However, if you desire our formal blessing on a union between the Houses of Lorien and Mirkwood, it is yours.”

Legolas bowed again. “Thank you my lady, my lord. It is my understanding that I may soon be leaving Mirkwood again to go to Rivendell on a matter of haste. Although I know that my household would give Storm every welcome, I do not wish to take her so far from everything and everyone she knows only to leave her suddenly among strangers. I believe Storm would be happier here in Lothlorien until I can return and a formal wedding be arranged.”

“I will go with you to Mirkwood,” Storm interrupted. “I know that our parting is inevitable but I belong by your side for as long as practical. We do not know what the future holds, but I will not sit passively by and simply wait like a doll on a shelf for months or years until your return.”

Although she spoke to Legolas, it was Galadriel’s gaze that she met and held for many long moments. Legolas knew not what transpired silently between Storm and Galadriel, but finally, Galadriel dipped her head in acknowledgement.

“I know that two of you have much to discuss and many preparations to tend to this night, but please join us for one final dinner,” Galadriel said to Legolas and Storm, sweeping her arm toward open chairs at the table. “We will provide any assistance that we are able to ease your journey.”

It was only as Legolas and Storm took their seats at the table that the hum of conversation finally resumed around the Hall. The ladies Alkorewen, Bule and Brago were uncharacteristically quiet throughout the meal. A few times the Lady Bule appeared about to speak to Legolas and Storm before dropping her eyes back to her meal. Several times the ladies Alkorewen and Brago simply stared at Storm as though they had never seen her before. Storm ignored their attention at first but as she concluded her meal, she returned the stares briefly before turning to Legolas and firmly grasping his hand. Sensing his role, Legolas brought her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles gently. “I believe we must now excuse ourselves,” Legolas announced to the table.

After paying their respects to Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel, Legolas and Storm walked slowly out of the hall together, hand in hand. They could feel the stares on their backs long after they left the hall.

To be continued. . . maybe!

© Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved

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