13. The Lady of Light
It was only hours later, not so far from dawn, that a cold hand woke me from my sleep.
"Miss Ari, wake up."
I opened my eyes and blinked once or twice to shake sleep off my gaze.
Gandalf was stooping above my head.
I sat up as quickly as I could. "What is it?"
"Someone is here to see you."
I quirked an eyebrow. "In my room, in the middle of the night?"
He chuckled softly. "It is not so far from morning, mind you. We are in the middle of a meeting ourselves, and the lady wishes to see you before you departed at dawn."
My brain had some difficulties processing all these informations at once. The White Counsel, the Lady of Light, departure at dawn.
I stumbled off my bed and put on some shoes. "I have to light some candles."
The wizard shook his head and made a wide gesture with his staff.
Each and every candle lit at once, and I blinked again to get used to the sudden rush of light.
"I'm leaving you to it, then. I will see you soon, Miss Ari."
I nodded. "Thank you, Gandalf."
But as soon as his tall figure exited the room, all I could hear was the frantic beating of my heart.
The Lady in question could only be Galadriel, Lady of the Galadrim, Protector of the woods of Lorien.
An equally tall figure then appeared in the doorway, lit by the moonlight, glowing as in a halo.
She was clad in a flowing white dress, her golden hair bouncing onto her shoulders.
Two eyes as blue as a fair morning locked onto mine at once.
I felt under scrutiny. A rush of ice in my blood told me she was scanning my mind. I stayed still.
And then, the Lady of Light closed the door, and turned to me, a kind smile onto her lips.
"I was told you are the burglar in this affair." Her voice was light and high, clear as water-drops.
I nodded. "I am, my Lady. My name is Ariana."
"I knew that already. But you do know I knew, don't you?" I nodded again. "You are quite a riddle to those who have the sight, young one."
I sat back onto my bed. "What do you mean?"
She paced towards me, and I had to crane my neck to still stare in her eyes. "You do not belong here. Your place is in a land far from here, and so different... And yet, you know things you shouldn't. Your mind is flowing with thoughts of things that have yet to pass." Her voice echoed across the room, and she remained silent.
I took a deep breath. "What do you make of me?"
She didn't answer at first. Then, a long-fingered hand advanced and touched my neck. One passed under the chain hanging there, and lifted the necklace until the pendant appeared.
A soft gasp escaped her lips. "How?" Her blue eyes gazed at it, then at her own hand.
I knew what she was seeing there.
I smiled shyly. "Nenya."
Galadriel looked back into my face. "Not one soul knows of this. The Three have been hidden to all sights."
I sighed and pulled the necklace off her grasp, hiding the ring back into the depths of my cleavage. "I know of Nenya. And of Narya and Vilya."
Her blue eyes shone dangerously in the candlelight. "How?"
I stood, and even though I didn't reach her shoulders, I felt more confident. "See through my mind and know the answer."
She seemed to ponder my words at first, and then the same gush of ice ran through my body, and another soft gasp escaped the Lady of Lorien's lips. "This is...extraordinary."
My fingers closed around the ring bouncing on my chest. "I was given this as a present. A copy. But your ring always was the most beautiful, my Lady."
Her blue eyes locked back onto mine. "You must never talk of this to anyone. Certainly not to Gandalf."
I nodded. "I understand. The Three must be hidden at all times. I will not tell a soul, I swear on my life and that of the people I hold most dear."
She nodded again, and then the strange hue that was in her gaze faded into a more friendly one. "I came here to see who you were and what kind of person you might be. I am not disappointed."
I bowed my head in thanks.
"However, you are doomed to change the History of this world and others, young one. Do so with utter care, for if one thing changes, many others will suffer the change."
I nodded gravely. I had thought about that a thousand times already.
And then, Galadriel the Lady of Light walked back to the door, turning one last time to me. "I do know you bear a Leaf of Lorien as well. Keep it, and should you cross my lands, consider it a token of friendship between us."
I grinned brightly. "Thank you, my Lady."
She nodded once, and then she was gone.
I couldn't possibly go back to sleep after that.
So when, at dawn, Balin came to knock at my door for departure, I already was ready, clad into my familiar tunic and trousers, the dress I wore the previous evening smoothed down onto the bed.
As I entered the small "clearing" the other dwarves had been sleeping in, many a head turned to me, and for the first time since the beginning of this adventure, they were all friendly.
Fili waved at me for good-morning, and I answered in kind.
Kili, who was rolling back his bedroll, winked at me. "I think I will miss that dress, Miss Ari."
I rolled my eyes.
And then a figure I began to know well came to stand by me, the flops of his hat touching my shoulder. "And I think Miss Ari looks more 'erself in 'er breeches."
My eyes locked onto his grey orbs, and I grinned.
Next I was hauled by Oin. "Miss Ari, could you please help me?"
I hurried to his side. He was gathering many plants I guessed had been given to him by the Elves. "How can I help?"
"You have travelled lots, Miss Ari. Surely you know which one is athelas."
I furrowed my brow. "The King-leaf?" I looked down at the plants gathered there, and then pointed to the one I thought right. "This one. If I am not mistaken, athelas has red thorns."
Oin scratched his beard. "I never used these elven breeds before, I'm not even sure I know what they do."
I chuckled and patted his shoulder. "I am certain you will find out. And when in doubt, all you have to do is test it on one of the boys."
Oin's eyes snapped at me, and when he understood the joke, he erupted into a booming laugh. "Ah, yes, that I will!"
After we were all packed, Lindir appeared onto the balcony's stairs and escorted us back to the city's main courtyard.
Gandalf was still nowhere to be seen, but yet, if the White Counsel was still not over, it was understandable.
Thorin was deep in conversation with Balin, while Bombur was packing all the – green – food the Elves had provided us for the journey to Greenwood.
Arwen appeared at the very end, and saluted me in the ways of her people, using elvish words I understood at the back of my head and which moved me to my heart.
Estel was still clutched to her hand, and I smiled at him before turning back to my company.
"You shall be a great man, Estel. I am looking forward to see you grown up."
The child's grey eyes widened, but Arwen's enigmatic smile told me the words had been kindly taken.
I left Aragorn, future King Elessar, and rejoined my company.
Taking a spot next to Bofur and Ori, this morning started quite well.
I mean, the Misty Mountains could not really be as bad as in the book, right?