One Man Shy

By San Antonio Rose

Summary: Take one Elven prince and one Indian princess. Add one time-garbled spell from Umbar.  Stir in the malice of a Dark Lord, a mess of anachronisms, and the flora of Lothlórien. Yield: One very worried Fellowship. (Written to prove a point.)

A/N: I know the general concept has been done to death. That’s part of the reason I wrote this. Although I do plan to put a fair amount of humor in, I don’t know if this is a parody or not. If the general consensus is that it ought to be, then I’ll re-file it. It is a Mary Sue (I checked my OC on two litmus tests), but my original intention when I came up with the idea was to write a Legolas romance to prove a point: Even Mary Sues can be original, canon-friendly, and well written. They don’t have to be formulaic, plotless tripe.  [I was aiming for a self-insert, but this seemed like a better idea.  I might still write the self-insert once I work out some rough spots, though; it’s a “Molly Halfwits” sort of story.  Only problem is that I’m not a Legoluster….]

So, as I said, I don’t know if this is a parody or not.  “A Tale of Two Tunas” is a parody, and I’m proud of it.  At the very least, I can say of this one that my OC is not your sister’s Mary Sue… and if I failed miserably, I’ll hand her over to the PPC myself.  Oh, and any help on historical research goof-ups on this first part is greatly appreciated; I was going off what little info there was in Encarta 97.  And in case anyone wonders, I’m not trying to take pot shots at whites or Indians.  I am both, and I like both.  (Don’t let the beginning throw you, though.  It will turn into a Legolas romance by the second chapter.  I was going to put the introduction to that section in with this, but it’s going to take me a while to get that part written because of the detail that I plan to put in the descriptions.)

BTW, for people who don’t know:  A mess is a double handful, and tripe is… well, for the technical definition, wait until you’ve had biology or ask your friendly neighborhood pre-med student.

Disclaimer:  All LOTR characters, places, etc., are © the Tolkien Estate and Three Foot Six/Tolkien Enterprises.  There’s a song coming up later that’s © whoever owns the rights to Glenn Miller’s music, and yes, there are some Monkees (© Rhino Records) and Beatles (© Sony Music, or Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono, I don’t know which) references tossed in here and there.  Other random references will be credited as they come up if I know to whom they can be credited.  It should be fairly obvious who the OCs are and who owns them (me).

Chapter 1
Prologue
When you believe in things that you don't understand, then it happens...

Dakota Territory
A.D. 1867
January 27
9:59 p.m. CST

Wolf crept silently through the darkness toward a convenient boulder.  Thankfully, it was far enough from the fire that he would not be seen, yet close enough that he could see and hear the meeting on which he was to spy.  Although it would have been nice to sneak closer so that he could be warmed by the fire—it was threatening to snow again, and the sharp prairie wind pierced even his thick wrappings of leather and fur—he knew all too well that secrecy was more important than heat.  Breathing a short prayer to the Great Spirit, the young Sioux warrior settled into a more or less comfortable position and waited.  As yet, only one man was seated by the fire.

Wolf had not been waiting long before he heard the jingle of spurs and the thud of hoofbeats approaching.  The newcomer, a white man in a cavalry uniform, dismounted at the edge of the circle of firelight and hobbled his horse.

“You late,” the first man said, a hint of reproach in his husky voice.

“Me sorry,” snarled the second.

“You laugh at English?  You not show respect, I not help you.”

“All right, all right.  I am sorry.  Got held up in town, but I got here as fast as I could.”  The white man stood and moved closer to the fire.  He then knelt and pressed a small bag into his elderly Indian companion’s hand.  The bag clinked, and Wolf guessed that it contained gold.

“This not all.”

“You’ll get the rest after you perform your part of the deal.”

The Ponca man sighed.  “What help you need?”

“Look, we’re planning an attack next week.  We need to throw the clan off balance somehow to break their resistance, and I figure the best way is to get the chief’s daughter away from him while the men are out hunting.”

“No can help,” the Indian interrupted.  “Ponca no attack women.  No can kidnap Singing Bird.”

“But surely you know of a way?”  At the other man’s confused look, he pressed, “Why do you think I wanted a medicine man?  Sure, my superiors may not approve, but I knew we couldn’t get an unfriendly tribe to just make off with the girl.  And I really don’t think any of our men would agree to the mission.  But who said we couldn’t use magic?”

Wolf’s blood ran cold, colder than the frosty air about him.  He knew that white men weren’t all bad; in fact, he had made a few friends among the settlers in the town and had begun taking interest in the God they served.  It was those people who had alerted him to this meeting.  Not even all of the cavalry soldiers were cruel and hateful, or even simply mistaken in their beliefs about the Sioux.  Yet he had heard tales about men like this one, people who viewed his people as enemies to be exterminated at all costs; they were the ones who so infuriated his people and who, along with the more hot-headed braves of his tribe, provoked an all-out war between their sides.  Still, never in his wildest dreams did he imagine the lengths (or depths) to which these men would go.

The medicine man shook his head.  “Not think so.  Most spells easy to take off.  Red Eagle have big medicine his side.”

“Think, man, think!” urged the white man, the light of madness creeping into his eyes.  “Surely there’s something you can do that they don’t know about!”

The Ponca man looked hard at the fire.  After a long pause, he replied in a low voice, “Is one.  Come over sea.  Not used many, many summers.  Not know if work.”

“What does it do?”

“Send girl to town.  Love first man she sees, he love her, get married.  Not go home again.”

“Who does the sending?”

“Not know.  Think just appears.”

Maniacal satisfaction spread over the white man’s face.  “Excellent.”

“If not work, heap big danger….”

“We’ll risk it.  Five suns from now, when the sun is overhead.  If it works, I’ll give you a heap big reward.”

“All right.  Will do it.”

Wolf hurried stealthily back to the clump of brush where he had hidden his horse.  His kinsmen would not be at all pleased to hear his report.  The question was, what could they do to combat this threat?

Red Eagle sighed heavily after Wolf gave his report and shook his head sadly.  “I do not like this at all,” he stated in his native tongue.  “Magic from over the sea that causes love at first sight?”

“I know,” Wolf agreed, leaning closer to the fire in the council tent to warm up.  “It sounds incredible….”

“I should like to know where the Ponca got this information,” frowned Wolf’s uncle Mountain Lion.  “If it came over the sea, it must have come from the white men.  But how?  He said it had not been tried for many summers… and how can the white soldier not have heard of it?”

“Many questions have no answers, Mountain Lion,” Red Eagle replied.  “These may be ones to which we can find no satisfactory reply.  Even so, we must answer one question of the greatest importance:  How do we save Singing Bird?”

“Prevent her from going into town,” shrugged Five Trees, another of the clan’s elders.  “Then perhaps the spell will not work, or else White Star could cast a counter-spell.”  (White Star was the band’s medicine man.)

“She does not normally go into town,” Mountain Lion countered.  “Forbidding it on that day would make no sense to her.”

“Yet she might be drawn there by the spell,” Five Trees retorted.  “It may cause in her an overpowering desire to ride into town.  It would be wise to guard her closely.”

“It might also be wise to send a brave into town just in case she gets away,” added Great Hawk, the chief’s cousin.  “He must place himself so that he is the first man she will see.  That way, should the spell go into full effect, she will at least be wedded to one of our own.”

Red Eagle nodded thoughtfully.  “I had hoped to have her marry one of Two Mountains’ band, but I do not know if we could reach them with the news in time.  Wolf, you and your brother Ram are good men.  You are both close to my daughter, and since your grandfather was my father’s cousin, it is safe for you to marry.  You shall go into town, and Ram shall stay here with the guard in case the spell of love takes effect even though she remains here.  We do not know yet if any counter-spells are known; from the words you reported, there may not be any.”

Wolf gulped.  True, they were third cousins and only one summer apart in age (he was nearing his twenty-first summer, she her twentieth), but he and Singing Bird were childhood friends, and he had often viewed her as one of his sisters.  The thought of a romantic attachment between them was awkward at best.  In fact, the thought of romance itself was awkward to him; although he was at a marriageable age, he had so far given no thought to taking a wife, since he spent most of his time and energy on hunting or learning from the white settlers.

“Why, Wolf,” teased Mountain Lion, “I do believe you’re blushing.”

Wolf truly reddened at that, and the elders laughed in spite of themselves.

“Come now, Wolf,” Great Hawk smiled gently, laying a hand on Wolf’s knee.  “I know it is not an easy thing for one such as you.  I know your heart is with the hunt, not the women.  But we cannot let Singing Bird be snatched away from us by the hatred of the white soldier and those like him.  She is too precious to us.”

Wolf sighed.  “Red Eagle has ordered, and I will obey.  I wish only Singing Bird’s happiness.  And perhaps, if it comes to this, we shall still love each other when the spell has worn off.”

Red Eagle nodded in appreciation.  “You are wise, Wolf.  That is why I trust you for this mission.  And do not think that we look down on you for what you have said and what we see you feel.  We are all afraid.  But this seems to be the only way to turn the evil to good.”

Wolf smiled back at his chief, somewhat relieved.  “I understand.  And I pray that I may be worthy of your trust.”

“You are, Wolf.  You are.”

Four anxious days came and went.  During that time, the elders and the few braves who knew did a remarkable job of hiding the impending danger from Singing Bird.  Yet on the fifth day, secrecy became impossible.  She began wondering what was going on when her mother set her no chores, but the moment she noticed Wolf riding toward town and Ram following her like a shadow, she confronted her father.

Red Eagle took her slim hand in his.  “We have word that someone will try to take you today,” he told her sadly.

Singing Bird frowned.  “Take me?  What do you mean?”

“Take you from us by force.  Kidnap you.  That is why Ram must always stay near you; I have ordered him to be your protection.”

“But, Father, have I no strength?  Can I not defend myself against these attackers?”

“No, my daughter.  You might be able to defend yourself against one or two, but they will not be unaided.”

“I do not understand, my father.”

“They have hired a Ponca medicine man.  He plans to cast a spell upon you.  We do not know how it will work, but it will help them take you from us.”  Red Eagle carefully avoided mentioning the darker part of the spell.

Singing Bird paled.  “Is there nothing we can do to prevent it?”

“Nothing.  White Star has searched through all his lore, and he cannot find any information.”

“Why then did Wolf go into town?”

“To catch you if they take you there.  He will bring you safely home, I know.”

Singing Bird sighed.  “I shall stay with Ram, then.”

Red Eagle hugged his daughter tightly.  “Thank you, my daughter.  I do love you.”

“And I love you, my father.”

With another sigh, Singing Bird left Red Eagle’s tepee and headed off with Ram to watch the young children play in the snow.

Watching the children, it turned out, was probably the best thing Singing Bird could have done.  Ram, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, talked the boys into having a snowball fight.  Before long, even the girls had gotten into the act, and everyone was so busy running, laughing, throwing, and ducking that no one noticed the sun climbing higher and higher into the sky.  Singing Bird forgot her anxiety, and Ram almost forgot his assignment.

Suddenly, Ram noticed that he could no longer see his shadow.  His first thought was that he had forgotten how quickly a day could pass when he was enjoying himself; his second was a panicked recall of what was to happen when the sun was overhead.  He dashed across the field toward the place where Singing Bird was standing to catch her breath.  To his horror, the smile on her face slowly faded away as her breathing slowed and became almost as regular as a warrior’s heartbeat.  Her body went stiff, and after one terrified glance at him, her eyes became glassy and her gaze vacant.

“Get White Star!” he ordered one of the older boys as he ran.  The boy nodded and ran back to the camp as fast as he could.

“What’s wrong with Singing Bird?” asked one of the younger girls.

“Bad medicine,” was all the explanation Ram could give.

It took only a few paces more for Ram to reach Singing Bird, and she still showed no signs of moving.  He positioned himself directly in front of her and grasped her arms lightly so that he could either restrain her or intercept her gaze when she came out of the trance.  Like his brother, he didn’t really want to fall in love with anyone, let alone Singing Bird, but the fear of losing her friendly company to a white stranger compelled him to obey Red Eagle’s command.

Terrified shrieks from behind him caused Ram to turn around.  The children were pointing at something in the sky and running for cover.  Ram then glanced up and felt even greater fear than he had felt at watching the spell take control of Singing Bird.  It looked as if the clear blue sky were twisting itself into a tornado… directly over the entranced young woman.

Ram pulled at Singing Bird, but to no avail; she stood stock still as if made of stone and rooted to the ground.  He could not even lift her.  By this time a rushing, sucking noise had become audible.  Sensing that he could not save his friend, Ram turned away, picked up two of the youngest children, and sprinted to safety.  With his heart in his throat and his stomach in knots, Ram turned back just in time to see the “tornado” come down over Singing Bird, touch the ground briefly, and ascend again, leaving only empty air in its wake.  There was a stunned silence before the young ones began crying in earnest.  Ram, staring at the spot in shock, was vaguely aware of a boy and a man running up behind him.

“She is gone?” Ram heard White Star wheeze over the wails of the children.

“She is gone,” Ram choked out.  “And only Wakan Tanka* knows where she is now.”

White Star sighed raggedly and placed a hand on Ram’s shoulder in empathy.  “There was nothing we could have done… such magic is born of darkness itself.  We can only pray that Wakan Tanka will preserve her and bring her back to us safely.”

“I must warn Wolf,” Ram said abruptly after a pause.  Shooting the medicine man a smile that implied that he really did appreciate the other man’s attempt to comfort him, he hurried back toward the camp, swung onto his horse, and started toward town.

“Ram!” Red Eagle called as the young warrior rode past.

Ram pulled up short and wheeled around to face his chief.  Neither man spoke for a moment.  The look on Ram’s face told the whole story.  Then Red Eagle, whose face now mirrored the anguish in Ram’s, bowed his head in sorrow.

“I am sorry, Red Eagle,” Ram replied in a broken voice.  “There was nothing… nothing….”

Red Eagle met his warrior’s gaze with a look of understanding that held no blame.  “Go,” he nodded.

Ram smiled his thanks and galloped away.  As he rode, he admitted to himself the other half of the reason he wanted to go to town:  Deep in his heart of hearts, he knew that none of the extremities of grief that would shortly fill the camp, as was customary for the Sioux, could bring Singing Bird back to them.  Unless she were in town with Wolf, which he doubted, only a miracle could return her.  And for some reason he did not fully understand, it made more sense to him to go to the white men’s church to ask for one than to seek solace in a peyote vision.

Meanwhile, in town….

“Stop pacin’, Wolf,” complained Jim Whittaker.  “You’re makin’ me dizzy.”

“Sorry,” Wolf sighed, leaning against a post.

The sandy-haired young deputy added with a twinkle, “’Sides, you’ll wear a hole in the boardwalk if you keep this up.”

Wolf laughed in spite of himself.

“Land’s sakes, Wolf, you’re wound tighter than a watch spring today.  What’s wrong?  All you’ve told me so far is that you’re supposed to meet someone here if that person shows up.”

“It is complicated,” Wolf said slowly.  He wanted to learn to speak proper English and not the broken phrases most Indians used, since he had a feeling that someday his tribe would need a liaison to help in dealings with the white folk, but he was still having trouble speaking correctly and quickly.

Jim looked at him shrewdly.  “Does it have anything to do with that meetin’ I told you about a few days back?”

“Yes.”

“What did happen that night?  You never have told me.”

“It is complicated,” Wolf shrugged.  “I understood, but I do not know if I can tell right in English.”

“But whatever it was—an’ I’m not gonna try to make you tell if you can’t find the right words—it makes you think someone’s gonna show up here today at noon that you hafta meet.”

“Yes.  I must be first person she sees.”

She?!”

With a wry smile, Wolf repeated, “It is complicated.”

“But who, man, who?”

“Singing Bird.  She is a friend of mine… Red Eagle’s daughter.”

“Red Eagle… that’s your chief!”

“Yes.”

“But why… oh, never mind.  It’s complicated.”

Wolf chuckled.

Jim shook his head and looked at his watch.  “Well, it’s noon now.  Is she walking, riding, on the stage….”

Wolf shook his head.  “Not the stage.  Walk or ride, I think.  I do not know for sure.  But it is not quite our noon yet.”

“What?  Oh, you meant local noon, when the sun’s overhead.  Yeah, I think you’ve still got a couple o’ minutes.”  As Wolf leaned against the hitching rail, he added, “And don’t you start pacin’ on me again.”

Wolf grumbled good-naturedly and began stroking his horse’s mane.  As he did so, the anxiety he had felt for the past five days returned unbidden.

Jim watched the young Sioux’s frame become tense again.  Whatever’s goin’ on with this Singin’ Bird, it’s not good, that’s for sure, he surmised.  He’s worried sick… an’ I think he’s worried about her.  He’s a good man, Wolf, even if he is an Injun.  I wish there were some way I could help.

“Jim?” Wolf asked after a long pause.

“Yeah, Wolf?”

“If I get married today… will you be… oh… best man?”

Jim’s jaw dropped.  “You get married?”

Maybe.  If Singing Bird comes, and if I am the first man she sees, then yes.  But she may not come.  Or she may see someone else.”

“Wolf, is this some custom you haven’t told me about?”

“No.  It is…”

“Complicated,” Jim finished for him.  “What if she doesn’t come?”

“Then she will marry either Ram or not at all.”

“Ram… your brother.”

“Right.”

“But you fellas don’t strike me as bein’ ready to marry.  Is Red Eagle forcin’ this on you?”

Wolf took a deep breath and thought.  “He sent me here.  He had Ram stay with her.  But this is not his wish, only a… precaution?”

“Yeah, I think that’s the word you want.  Lawks, this is complicated.”

Wolf looked at Jim with a twinkle in his eye.  “See, I told you so.”

Jim laughed.  “Now that’s one phrase you’ve got down pat!”

Wolf laughed as well.  “I do improve!”

“Yes, you do!”  Jim chuckled and shook his head, then looked around.  “Better get ready, ol’ buddy.  It’s noon.”

Wolf heaved a sigh, then drew himself up to his full height and walked slowly to the middle of the street.  He then turned and faced the direction of the road leading to the camp.  Jim took up a position at the end of the boardwalk that would enable him to watch the action without being seen.

They waited thus for roughly thirty seconds.  Then a female voice rang out from the upstairs window of the shop across the street.

“Jim!  Jim, looka there!”

“Where?” Jim shouted back.

“Up at the horizon!”

Jim and Wolf gasped in unison as they saw what the shopkeeper’s wife was pointing out.

“A tornado on a clear day…” Jim observed in a low voice as he moved out of the shadow of the building’s overhang to stand beside his friend.  “’Tain’t good, ’tain’t good ’tall.”

Wolf muttered something under his breath in Sioux.

“What’s it mean, Wolf?”

“I do not know.  But it is bad.  I fear Singing Bird cannot come now.”

“What?”

“We did not know what it would do,” Wolf continued, half to himself.  “Not even the Ponca man knew for sure.  But this… this is bad, very bad.  She is gone.  My heart tells me so.”

“Wolf, what the blue blazes…”

Wolf turned to face Jim.  “A spell.  The soldier hired a Ponca medicine man to cast a spell to take Singing Bird from us so that we would not be ready when they attack us.  It was supposed to bring her into town and make her fall in love with the first man she saw.”

“And it backfired,” Jim nodded, understanding—at least partly.

“I do not know.  But I fear that she is gone where none can follow.”

“Dead?”

Wolf pondered a moment.  “No,” he said at last.  “Not dead.  I do not feel that.  But only the Great Spirit can return her to us now.”

Jim frowned.  “How can you tell?”

Wolf shrugged.  He did not know himself.

Roughly half an hour later Jim and Wolf were still sitting on the edge of the boardwalk and talking when Ram came galloping into town.  Wolf called to him before he could ride past, and Ram halted and dismounted a few yards away.

“She is gone, my brother,” Ram choked out in Sioux as he ran toward Wolf.  “The spell… the sky….”

“I feared as much,” Wolf replied, standing to embrace his weeping brother.

Jim jumped up and led Ram’s horse to the hitching rail before it could run off.  It was the least he could do, and he didn’t want to interfere in the brothers’ conversation.

“I could not save her,” Ram sobbed.  “I tried, but I could not move her.  And the sky… oh, my brother, the sky….”

“Peace, my brother,” Wolf whispered, even as the tears ran down his own cheeks.  “We did not know.  How could we know?”

“She is gone… gone… we cannot save her…”

They stood there for a moment in a tearful embrace, broken-hearted.  Finally Wolf pulled away a little and wiped his eyes.  “Come.  Let us go to the white men’s church.  Perhaps there we may find answers… or at least a shred of hope.”

“What hope is there?  She is gone, and we cannot follow.”

“I do not know.  And yet… I think we may see Singing Bird again.  Don’t ask me how I know.  All I know to do is ask.”

Slowly, the pair headed down Main Street toward the building with the white steeple topped with a gold cross.  Wolf caught Jim’s eye and nodded in that direction, and the deputy silently fell in behind them and followed to make sure the Indians were not accosted by any of the town’s citizens who might be leery of these men.

When they reached the church, however, Wolf paused and Jim went in first.  “Rev’rend Brown?” he called as he entered.

“Yes, Mister Whittaker?” the pastor replied, leaving his attempt to center the new pulpit on the platform.

Rev’rend, there’s a couple o’ Indian fellers out here who were wantin to spend some time in here prayin’.  It’s Wolf an’ his brother; they just lost a friend o’ the family.  D’ya think it’d be too much trouble….”

“No, not at all,” Rev. Brown interrupted.  “I know Wolf well enough to know that he won’t be any trouble at all.  And his brother is welcome, also.  Bring them in.”

Jim stepped outside again and signaled to Wolf, who led a shock-weakened and sniffling Ram inside and introduced him to the pastor.  The latter assured them that he was there for them if they needed him and ushered them down to the front.

Wolf knelt beside the altar and bowed his head, and Ram followed his lead.  It felt awkward to both of them, but this was the way Wolf had seen the white men pray the few times he had been in the church during a service, and it seemed most considerate to honor the white men’s traditions.

After a moment’s hesitation, Wolf looked up at Rev. Brown.  “Uh… could you help us, please?  We do not know how to talk to your God.”

Rev. Brown was mildly surprised.  But really, I haven’t seen Wolf try to pray, he realized.  He’s asked questions, certainly, and he has come to worship before, but he never has really taken part… I suppose he was observing, mostly.  “Of course,” he said aloud.  “Allow me.”

The pastor lay a hand on each brother’s shoulder and began to pray aloud.  As he did, Wolf felt the tears begin to flow again, and his heart began to cry out to this God of Whom he had heard but to Whom he had never tried to speak.  It did not take long, however, for a curious thing to happen.  A sense of peace and comfort began to sweep over his soul, along with the certainty that he had been heard.

She is safe, a still, small voice assured him… in Sioux.  I will not let harm come to her.  Her life is in My hands, and she is in the company of My servants.  She will return to you safe and whole.

Who are You? Wolf asked, astonished that the white men’s God would know his language and address him personally.

I Am, came the reply.

Wolf was dimly aware that Rev. Brown had stopped praying, and he heard Ram slump forward onto the altar with a sob.

“Please,” Ram was pleading in English.  “Please…

Fear not, came the voice again, and Wolf could almost see the gentle smile on the Speaker’s face.  I am with you… and I am with her.

*Wakan Tanka—the Sioux name for their god (usually rendered “The Great Spirit” in English, but Encarta says it means “The Great Mystery”).  Not to be confused with Yahweh (“I Am That I Am”), whom Jews and Christians believe is the one true God.  The Sioux are more pantheistic than monotheistic.  I used “Great Spirit” in Wolf’s dialog/thoughts because Wolf is leaning toward becoming a Christian... and then, of course, he meets Yahweh at the end. (No flames about political incorrectness, please and thank you.)

Chapter 2
"I know that something very strange has happened to my brain..."

 A/N:  I don’t know what a group of elanor plants would be called, but if it were bluebonnets it would be called a stand, so that’s the term I’ve used.  I hope this makes the first chapter more understandable… as I said, I intended to include this section with that, but I didn’t have time.  It’s also a little shorter than I prefer to make my chapters, but the next chapters should be longer. (Oh, and I haven't gone through to fix some of the formatting... I hope it all shows up okay.)

Lothlórien, in the vicinity of Caras Galadhon
Third Age 3019 (Shire Reckoning 1419)
February 2
Noon

Singing Bird blinked slowly as she came out of her trance.  She didn’t know where she had expected to be, but she certainly didn’t expect to be where she was.  Not only was there no snow on the ground, but there were also trees of a size and type she had never seen before.  Some of them even had silver bark and golden leaves… not the gold of the aspen in fall, but a gold that looked almost like the gold the settlers brought with them for trading.  Wildflowers grew on the forest floor; some were as gold as the leaves, while others were snow-white or pale green.

Slowly, the Sioux maiden stirred and began to investigate her immediate surroundings.  Surreal as the forest seemed, she assured herself by touching several of the silver-and-gold trees that it was real.  She plucked one of the golden flowers gently from the ground and studied it closely; it looked almost like a miniature sun.

As she inspected this novelty, a fleeting memory of her dear friend Yellow Flower crossed her mind.  Deep down, Singing Bird wondered if she’d ever see Yellow Flower or any of her father’s band again… but somehow the thoughts were brushed aside as if by an outside will and replaced with nonchalance.  A tiny part of her mind wondered why this was so, but that, too, was quickly squashed.

A slight rustle behind her made her jump and turn.  Instinct told her to run, but something held her in her place.  She would not have had time to hide, anyway; a second later someone emerged from the trees and spotted her.

He was tall, and in many respects he resembled the white settlers from the town; yet his dress and demeanor were unlike those of the few palefaces she knew.  His long blond hair was caught back from his pointed ears by two small braids; the rest hung loose at his back.  His deep blue eyes held the sparkle of youth and the wisdom of great age at the same time, and his handsome face held the same paradox.  His clothes were unlike anything she had ever seen, but she saw that he carried a bow and quiver on his back and concluded that he must be a warrior of some kind.

Then their eyes met.

Instantly, and decidedly against her better judgment, Singing Bird loved him.

It had been a simple plan:  Gimli and Legolas were going for another stroll through the Golden Wood to talk about life in general and build their sudden friendship.  Aragorn thought it might be a good idea to get out of Caras Galadhon for a few hours, and the hobbits were all anxious for something different to do (not that anyone could be truly bored in Lórien.  Unwilling to be left behind in the company of so many elves, Boromir decided to join the group.  So they split up; they planned to go more or less in the same direction, but Frodo and Sam went with Aragorn on one path, while Boromir took Merry and Pippin on a second and Legolas and Gimli split the difference.  They planned to regroup in a certain glade at noon to return for the midday meal.

That was the plan.  But as Legolas and Gimli approached the appointed meeting place, a sudden sense of evil struck the pair like a lightning bolt.

“What was that?” Gimli asked, frowning.

“I do not know, mellon,” Legolas replied.  “But it lies straight ahead.”

“In our meeting place?”

“Aye.  It is odd… it feels evil and yet not so.  But how it could appear suddenly and past the power of the Lady….”

“I do not like this, Legolas.  It draws me, almost like the Ring, yet in a different manner.”

“I, too, am drawn.  But if we are drawn, then what does that bode for the rest of the Fellowship?”  Without waiting for Gimli’s answer, he continued, “I shall proceed and investigate.”

“Legolas….”

“I thank you for your concern, Master Dwarf, but it is needless.  If this is a trap, I shall walk into it with my eyes open.  Count to ten, and then follow.”

And with that Legolas slipped silently into the woods ahead.  Gimli grumbled something in Khuzdul but stayed behind long enough to count to ten.

Legolas proceeded with the noiseless grace native to the Eldar and the skill of a Mirkwood archer long used to hunting fell things in the forest.  The sense of not-quite-evil (or evil mixed with good; which he could not tell) grew even stronger, and he began to sense only one being in the glade ahead.  Yet just as he came within mortal earshot of the glade, he brushed against a stand of elanor with his leg.  While this startled the prince as being quite out of the ordinary—for an elf, anyway—the result it produced was even more extraordinary:  a female gasp.

Drawn now by his own curiosity, Legolas strode forward into the glade and beheld the most unusual sight he’d seen since he met Bilbo after the Battle of Five Armies.  A mortal woman stood before him looking like a startled doe that was unable to bolt; it looked as if she were wearing doeskin clothing, but a robe about her shoulders was made of another hide he could not identify.  Her skin was a deep reddish-tan that he had seen before only on some mortals who worked in the sun constantly, such as the boatmen in Dale.  Her long black hair was held back from her forehead by a band of brightly colored beads woven together in geometric patterns, and her almond-shaped eyes were as black as her hair.  Her cheekbones were higher than normal for the mortals he knew, but that did not change the fact that her face was lovely.  Yet although he felt that the aura of evil he had been following was centered around her, he inexplicably knew that she herself was not evil.

That was in the first fleeting moment of appraisal.  Then his gaze met hers… and locked.

Instantly, and decidedly against his better judgment, Legolas loved her.

“Who are you?” he asked at last.

“Who… what are you?” she returned.  She spoke a language he had never heard before, but somehow he understood.

“My name is Legolas, and I am an elf.”

“Le-go-las?”

“That’s right.  What’s your name?”

“Singing Bird.”

“Hmm… Singing Bird… that is a name I have not heard before.”

“And I have never heard of Le-go-las.  What does it mean?”

“Greenleaf.”

Singing Bird’s face lit up.  “Ah!  Green Leaf!  That I understand!  But tell me, Green Leaf, where am I?”

Legolas frowned.  “You don’t know?”

“No.  The last thing I remember is playing with the children in the snow and my friend Ram watching over me… and then I was here.”

“Ram?  Who is he?”

Singing Bird tried to think of a good description, but her mind was suddenly blank.  “Just… a friend,” she replied feebly.

Legolas’ fëa screamed for him not to believe her, but he could not help doing so.  He also couldn’t help inching forward a few steps even as he heard Gimli approaching from behind.  “You are in Lothlórien, land of the Lady Galadriel and the Lord Celeborn.”  At her confused frown, he prodded, “Have you not heard of them in your land?”

“No.  These names are all strange to me.  But I do not know the names of the white men’s places, only Washington where the Great White Father lives.”

“Great White Father?  Who is he?”

Now it was her turn to frown.  “You are white and you do not know who the Great White Father is?”

Legolas glanced at his hands as if unsure of their color.  “I… suppose I am not like your ‘white men.’  As I said, I am an elf.”

“Elf?”  She cocked her head and looked at him more closely.  “No… no, you are not like the settlers.  I do not know what elf is, though.  It must be some word from across the sea that we do not know yet.”

“Across the sea?  You mean you are not from Middle-earth?”

“From where?”

“I take that as a no.”

Singing Bird looked a little scared.  “There were no white men where my people live for many summers.  Then they came over the sea and lived in the east… that is where Washington is.  But there was not room, so they came west.  They are past the land of the Shoshone now.  They call my people Sioux.  The Great White Father said we could keep our land, but the white settlers do not want to honor his word.”

Legolas nodded, putting some of the pieces together.  “And the Great White Father is the leader of these men who came across the sea?”

Singing Bird nodded in turn.  “But why do you not know about this?  It has been more than two hundred summers since the white men came, or so we have learned.”

“Singing Bird, to me the new lands are only a song.  The mariners among the exiles from Númenor explored them before I was born and found no reason to remain.  The Eldar had no desire to seek them out, and so they became a part of the legend of Atalantë and nothing more.  We have had more than enough problems in Mirkwood as it stands.”

“I am confused, Green Leaf.”

“So am I,” Legolas admitted against his will… and suddenly discovered that they were standing only a few inches apart and that he was reaching out to take her hand.

What is going on here?! both elf and human wondered loudly to themselves.

Despite internal resistance, Legolas did take Singing Bird’s hand.  The sense of evil grew stronger, as did the strange idea that it was not her but something about her that was evil.  An odd sort of knot began to form in his stomach even as he contemplated the calloused yet helpless hand that lay in his own.

Singing Bird, for her part, tried valiantly to pull away… inside.  Her muscles would not obey.  He seemed trustworthy, and his surprisingly soft and strong hand imparted great encouragement, but something seemed to tell her that this was not the best idea in the world.  After an awkward pause, she began again.

“I am a stranger here, Green Leaf.  Could you… would you….

An elf is not normally tongue-tied.  Yet all Legolas could manage to say was, “Of course, Singing Bird.”

Even as he sensed Aragorn’s group approaching, Legolas found himself pulling her into a reassuring hug.  His fëa protested, but his hroa was no longer under his control.  As he wrapped his arms around her and felt her arms encircle his chest, the knot in his stomach grew tighter and was accompanied by a low-grade burning sensation around his heart, which was beating faster than normal.

She pulled away and gazed into his eyes for a moment.  He saw apprehension there that matched his own, yet she seemed not to be able to help herself anymore than he could help himself.

Now Boromir’s group was nearing the edge of the glade.  Deep down, Legolas cried out to Elbereth for help.

And suddenly Singing Bird kissed him.

A gasp of dismay went up from the Fellowship… and from Legolas’ own fëa.  It was a brazen act for a woman of any race to kiss a man, especially when they had just met.  But somehow, for Legolas, it seemed oddly right—although the knot, the burning, and the heartbeat all increased tenfold.

So he kissed her back.

Despite every fibre of his being screaming for him to run while there was still time, Legolas pulled away for a moment and, as if someone else were speaking for him, uttered the fateful words:  “Singing Bird, will you marry me?”

“Of course, my Green Leaf.”

He wanted to turn and run—or at least introduce her to the shocked Fellowship.  Instead, he found himself leaning toward her again.  Their faces drew inexorably closer together, and their lips met with something akin to the click of two magnets connecting.

The knot tightened, the burning exploded, his heart raced… and his mind shut down.

He was dimly aware of the shouts going up around him.  Firm but gentle hands pried apart their passionate embrace, and the grip grew stronger as his muscles resisted.  Someone—he thought it must be Aragorn—restrained him and tried to whisper reason into his ear, but his hroa turned of its own accord and began struggling to break free.  Boromir, he thought, was holding Singing Bird, who was weeping uncontrollably.

“Strider!” shouted one of the hobbits (Pippin?).  “Strider, she can’t understand us!”

At about that moment Legolas broke free of his old friend’s hold.  Fortunately, or so his fëa thought through the fog, he paused long enough to flex his muscles and yell, “A man in love has the strength of thousands!”

A blow from an axe-haft caused his knees to buckle, and a hobbit fist struck his jaw, knocking him backwards and causing him to hit his head on a mallorn root.

The last lucid thought his fëa produced before he slid into unconsciousness was, Thank the Valar for true friends….

Chapter 3
That old black magic has me in its spell...

A/N:  Anachronisms ahoy!  I’m planning to go through and give a complete list of references and credits at the end; the only thing that might or might not be an anachronism is a looking-glass, but since Frodo had one in Rivendell, I don’t see why the Galadhrim shouldn’t have them.  According to Ardalambion, “lindo” means “singing bird,” so I’ve rendered “Singing Bird” in Quenya as “Lindoriel” in the sections where canon characters other than Legolas are talking about her (such as this entire chapter); it’s also a sign, at least here, that she is not herself.  It’s a little awkward trying to dovetail history with fantasy; I figure that since Tolkien said that the 20th century was at the end of the Fifth Age (see Letters), 1867 would also be in the Fifth Age.  It was also a bit sticky trying to explain the effects of the spell; if what I wrote doesn’t make sense, please tell me and I’ll try to rework it.  Thanks to Jean, Desy, and ElissatheElf for your kind reviews; Elissa, your wish is my command! ;)  I’ll try to update every weekend until it’s finished.

Disclaimer:  I own nothing and nobody (except the OCs you’ve already met and Oroandúnë and Lalaith, who are also OCs.)

“Trothplighted!” Aragorn said disgustedly for the fifth time as he stopped pacing and settled briefly into a chair.

“Let me make sure I have this straight, Estel,” Celeborn frowned.  “This woman who looks like an Easterling or Southron but is neither suddenly appeared in the middle of the wood.  At the same time, you all felt drawn to the glade where she was for some minutes, but that ‘draw’ cut off abruptly, presumably when Legolas entered the glade.”

Aragorn sighed.  “Correct.”

“Legolas discovered her first, spoke to her, and apparently understands her despite the fact that she speaks no language currently known in Arda.”

“Correct.”

“They seem to have fallen madly in love with one another, have plighted their troth, and can think of naught but each other.”

“Correct.  We feared for their honour when they… well, began kissing one another so, and Boromir and I pulled them apart before they could… disgrace themselves.  Legolas reacted as if I had tried to steal his bow from him.”

“Decidedly odd behaviour, especially for Legolas,” Galadriel put in.

“His eyes had a wild, glazed look to them, too,” Aragorn continued.  “Now I fear not only for his honour, but for his sanity as well.”

Celeborn nodded slowly, much like a healer listening to a patient’s symptoms.  “I understand you had to render him unconscious in order to bring him back to the City.”

“That sat none too well with her, I must say,” Aragorn commented, rolling his eyes.  “Lindoriel wept and wailed so bitterly that Boromir had to carry her back.  Rúmil thought someone had died from the way she carried on.”

“Lindoriel.  That is her name, then?”

“More or less.  As Legolas was coming to, he muttered something about a singing bird, at which she brightened considerably, so we concluded that that must be her name.  Whether it is Lindoriel or Singing Bird or some other such name, we could not tell; she responds to Lindoriel, though.”

“Doubtless he called her that when they first met, so she would understand it coming from anyone else,” Galadriel ventured.

No one pointed out that it sounded awkwardly like Tinúviel.  They were all thinking it anyway—and knew this case did not fit the Beren-Lúthien mold, despite the surface similarities.

Celeborn cleared his throat and continued the summary of facts.  “When Legolas was able to speak sensibly, or as near as he could come, he said that she came from the new lands across the Great Sea, that her people were called Sioux, and that she seemed to come from a time far in the future, which you surmise as meaning sometime in the Fourth or even Fifth Age.  He also said that she had no idea how she had come to appear here and now.”

“Correct.”

“Most odd,” Celeborn sighed with a shake of his head.

“Oh, there is one more thing.”

“What?”

“Legolas has been saying the strangest things about love and people in love.  And the moment we got them separated to begin the wedding preparations, he started singing the most bizarre love songs.”

Celeborn leaned forward.  “What sort of things has he been saying?”

“Well, when he fought free of me, he struck a pose and shouted, ‘A man in love has the strength of thousands!’”

Celeborn and Galadriel looked at each other, recognition dawning on their faces.

Bright are the stars that shine,
Dark is the sky,
I know this love of mine
Will never die.
And I love her…

Deep down, Legolas hated this feeling.  Here he was, being prepared for a wedding he didn’t want, filled with a desire that felt as evil as a Warg’s presence, doing things he had no reason for doing, and spouting love songs that he had never heard and that had a distinctly mortal sound to them.  Despite his strongest internal resistance, his actions were becoming the exact opposite of his instinct, as if he were a puppet and Sauron were jerking the strings.   It was frustrating, embarrassing, demeaning, and frightening.  And there was absolutely nothing he could do about it.

Couple of jiggers of moonlight and add a star.
Pour in the blue of a June night and one guitar.
Case in a couple of dreamers, and there you are;
Lovers hail the Moonlight Cocktail.

“’E’s off again,” Merry remarked with a deep sigh.

“Legolas, it’s February, not June!” Pippin yelled.

All Legolas could do was shrug.

Now add a couple of flowers, a drop of dew;
Stir for a couple of hours till dreams come true.
As to the number of kisses, it’s up to you;
Moonlight Cocktails need a few.

“Good grief,” Sam and Frodo muttered at the same time.  If anyone noticed the stereo effect, no one mentioned it.

Cool it in the summer breeze,
Serve it in the starlight underneath the trees.
You’ll discover tricks like these
Are sure to make your Moonlight Cocktail please.

“Rather difficult, Master Elf, considering that it is still winter,” Gimli remarked.  He did his best to make it sound like an insult, but when Legolas didn’t respond in kind, he and Frodo shared a very worried glance.

Follow the simple directions and they will bring
Life of another complexion where you’ll be king.
You will awake in the morning and start to sing,
“Moonlight Cocktails are the thing!”

“If this is what it is to be an Elf in love, I am glad to be an unencumbered Man,” Boromir remarked dryly.

In a fit of unnatural giddiness, Legolas clapped a hand on the Adan’s shoulder.  “Boromir, when you’re in love, the whole world is Jewish!” he giggled before turning a pirouette and flopping down into his chair.

 “Jewish?!” asked six voices at once.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d think ’e was drunk,” Sam confided to Frodo.

“I’d say the same,” Frodo replied.  “Only it feels more like enchantment.”  He pointed significantly to the round bulge under his shirt.

Suddenly Legolas slumped forward with a groan, resting his elbows on his knees and burying his face in his hands.  Gimli moved around quickly to stand in front of him and gently placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder.  After a few seconds, Legolas looked up at him, the cloud gone from his face and the madness from his eyes.  In their place was sheer terror.

“Help me, mellon,” the prince pleaded, grasping the dwarf by the shoulders.

Their gazes locked for another brief moment, and the look in Legolas’ eyes spoke volumes.  Then, as suddenly as they had cleared, his eyes glazed over again, and the besotted smile returned to the elf’s face as his hands slipped from Gimli’s shoulders to hang limp by his sides.

“What a day for a daydream…” Legolas began singing again, staring off into the distance and moving his head from side to side as if he were under the influence of a drug.

The Fellowship let out a collective sigh of disappointment and frustration.

While the others continued their labors, Boromir pulled Gimli into a corner.  “What happened there?” he demanded.

“He was himself again,” Gimli replied in a low voice.  “He had a brief window of control.  And he called for help.”

“Frodo was right, then.”

“Aye.  And it must be very strong; from the panic in his eyes, he tries to resist but cannot.  I have not seen him that afraid since Durin’s Bane approached us in Moria.”

Boromir watched the others for a moment, then sighed.  “Aragorn and the Lord and Lady should be told of this,” he said.  “Perhaps you should go; I would likely be of more use here.”

Gimli nodded his agreement, and with a grim look at Legolas, headed toward the ladder.

As the dwarf reached the ground and began walking away, Legolas’ voice floated down to them:  “But get me to the church on tiiime!”

Gimli shook his head and headed off to find Celeborn and Galadriel.

Oroandúnë looked up and sighed.  It was bad enough that Lady Galadriel had instructed her maidens to look after this mortal Lindoriel and prepare her to marry Prince Legolas, an idea which scandalized the majority of the Sindar and Silvan Elves in Caras Galadhon.  The language barrier was insurmountable, which made things worse; a few of the maidens spoke the Common Tongue, but Lindoriel could not understand even that, and they had to make do with hand signals.  But worst of all was the fact that she kept giggling.  Her cheerful chatter made no sense, but one phrase kept cropping up, and Oroandúnë suspected that it was her translation of Legolas’ name.  Still, Lindoriel kept bouncing around like a child and refusing to hold still long enough to be fitted with more suitable wedding garments than her leather clothing, and the elves were growing impatient.

Oroandúnë, however, had occupied herself with weaving together a garland of elanor and niphredil to crown Lindoriel’s raven hair.  Everyone agreed that it would be far more appropriate and becoming than the beaded headband the young woman now wore.  Besides, the Periannath had said something about her holding an elanor blossom when they found her, and the elf’s sense of the romantic thought it a significant enough detail to be included in the preparations.

Securing the final stem, Oroandúnë rose from her place in the corner and crossed to the looking-glass, where the other maidens had finally managed to get Lindoriel into a flowing white gown that accented her dark skin.  With a smile, Oroandúnë gently placed the garland on Lindoriel’s head and turned her to face the glass.

Lindoriel gasped in delight and babbled something excitedly.  The elven maids congratulated each other.  And suddenly, the mirth and color drained from Lindoriel’s face as she stared at herself in the mirror.

Oroandúnë frowned questioningly and laid a hand on Lindoriel’s shoulder.

“Please,” Lindoriel said haltingly, turning to face Oroandúnë with a panicked expression.  “No want marry Le-go-las… help, please….”

Now it was Oroandúnë’s turn to stare.  She was shocked, not only that Lindoriel had worked out that much Sindarin, but also that she was suddenly so strongly against doing the very thing she had been so excited about when Galadriel sent her to them only a few hours earlier.

“I will try,” Oroandúnë answered slowly, hoping that Lindoriel would understand.

“Thank you,” Lindoriel smiled.  As Oroandúnë watched, the smile changed from genuine gratitude to silly girlishness.  Lindoriel’s dark eyes glazed over, and she began babbling in her native tongue once more as she turned back to admire herself in the looking-glass.

“What was that all about?” Lalaith, another of the maidens, asked.

“I’m sure I don’t know,” Oroandúnë sighed.  “But I do know one thing:  The Lady needs to know.”

“You’d best be off, then, to tell her.”

“Sure you can manage without me?”

“Of course.  Now go!  It may be important!”

Oroandúnë nodded and left.

Most interesting,” Celeborn stated after Gimli and Oroandúnë, who had reached the citadel at the same time, finished recounting their stories.

“Interesting, yes, but what does it mean?” Gimli asked, exasperated.

“There is a significance to all this?” Aragorn frowned, watching Celeborn’s face closely.

Celeborn nodded.  “It sounds to me as if Legolas and Lindoriel are under a spell we once came across that was the work of a Black Númenórean who had settled in Umbar shortly before the Downfall.”

Gimli, Aragorn, and Oroandúnë looked at each other with a single thought:  Uh-oh….

“This man had traveled to Pelargir on business, presumably to spy,” Galadriel continued.  “While there, he came across the beautiful daughter of one of the Elendili and thought that she would make a perfect wife for his son.  Yet he knew that an Elf-friend would not consent to marry a Black Númenórean, and his son had more love for the hunt than for women.  So he devised a spell that would bring the two together and cause them to fall hopelessly in love with one another.  He added to it a spell that would cause them to be able to understand one another regardless of any language difficulties, for while the people of Umbar spoke only Adûnaic, the Elendili preferred Sindarin and the fledgling forms of Westron.”

“I take it that this spell had its intended effect?” Oroandúnë asked.

“Aye, and then some,” Celeborn replied.  “It caused the pair to be transported instantly from their homes to Dol Amroth, which was odd to begin with.  They met and fell in love as expected—rather passionately so, I might add; but then they began singing strange songs and making bizarre comments about love.  ‘A man in love has the strength of thousands’ was one; another was ‘Love is the ultimate trip.’  It was rather unnerving for all of us.”

“It took quite a lot of study and prayer crammed into a two-day period, but we finally managed to trace the source of the couple’s odd behaviour,” Galadriel went on.  “Somehow we managed to get them to hold off on the wedding until the third day; it was difficult, since they did tend to want to cling rather tightly to one another, but we did it.  Celeborn reversed the spell, and after some explanations, apologies, and farewells, we got the poor girl back to Pelargir and the boy to Umbar.  He came back later, though.  The kindness with which we treated him made such an impression that he could no longer believe the lies his father taught.  I believe he may have perished in the Last Alliance.”

“What then was the cause of the strange comments, then?” Aragorn interjected, puzzled.

“Ah, that,” Celeborn smiled wryly.  “Apparently the transportation mechanism involved a sort of time warp.  This distortion had some rather interesting side effects, however.  Although the fëa was relatively unaffected, the hroa seemed to think that it was somewhere far in the future.  She giggled and simpered and carried on about someone named Britney Spears when she wasn’t talking about him; he talked about the ‘Summer of Love’ and came up with bizarre quotes and love songs.  This wresting of control over the hroa from the fëa, while not as traumatic as it would be for an elf, nevertheless left both of them visibly shaken when we finally reversed the spell.”

Gimli nodded thoughtfully.  “That would explain Legolas’ panic.  For him not to be in control of his own body must be terrifying.  But why would he be affected by the time distortion?  He was not transported anywhere.”

Celeborn shrugged.  “Perhaps it is part and parcel of being caught in the spell.”

“So it would appear that this Black Númenórean recorded his spell and that he or someone who knew it took it with him when an expedition of unknown origin or date explored and/or settled in the new lands,” Aragorn thought aloud.  “And somehow it was transmitted through the years to someone in Lindoriel’s time who used it against her, not knowing what it would do.”

“That seems a fair assumption,” Galadriel agreed.

“But why would Lindoriel be drawn here?” Oroandúnë asked, her voice rising in frustration.  “Why would she not be ‘taken’ by someone in her own land and her own time?”

“I can think of only one explanation,” Galadriel replied.  “The Ring.”

Adan, elf, and dwarf blinked.

“The Ring?  Why then did she not fall for Frodo?” Gimli frowned.

Aragorn studied the floor for a moment, deep in thought.  “Yes… it would make sense that she would be drawn here by the Ring, for it draws all evil toward itself.  As for Legolas… perhaps Sauron fears more from an elf than from a hobbit, not knowing the truth of the situation.  Perhaps the idea is to keep Legolas from continuing with the Fellowship for fear of the role he might play in the future.”

“But Sauron is not outside of time, nor is he omniscient.  How then could he know what we ourselves do not?”

Sauron is not outside of time, but Morgoth might have had cause to make use of the spell,” Celeborn cut in.

“Morgoth is not outside of time, either,” Oroandúnë argued.

“No, but he is in the Void and not completely powerless.  Assuming the success of the Quest, which is not yet a surety, Sauron will be powerless by the time of Lindoriel’s people.  If Morgoth thought there might be some chance that holding Legolas back would ensure the failure of the Quest, he could, through his unseen footholds that remain in Arda, direct the transmission of the spell in such a way that it altered enough to include directions for Lindoriel to be sent here.  Or he could simply have seized upon the time distortion and sent her back himself.”

“Regardless of how or why, the fact remains that Legolas is dangerously close to abandoning the Fellowship because of this spell, and both he and Lindoriel are about to be forced into a marriage that neither of them truly wants,” Aragorn sighed, standing and walking over to a window.  “The question is, how do we put a stop to it?”

“Do not worry, Estel,” Galadriel assured him, coming up behind him and wrapping a supportive arm around his shoulders.  “Celeborn and I will see to that.”

Aragorn smiled gratefully at her, and Gimli silently remarked again that Galadriel had to be the fairest, wisest, most wonderful being in the world.

I’m gonna get m-mu-mu…” Legolas stuttered, shifting his weight nervously from one foot to another and tugging at his collar.

“Steady, Legolas, steady,” Pippin said in what he hoped was a reassuring voice.

“Is this normal?” Boromir asked Frodo quietly.

“Oh, quite, at least for hobbits,” Frodo replied.  “Pre-nuptial nerves.  Happens all the time.  When my cousin Daisy got married, Griffo was so nervous he put on his brother’s suit and didn’t even notice that it didn’t fit until his mother caught up with him.”

Boromir laughed heartily.  It was the first genuine laugh he’d had in weeks, and it was likely to be one of his last.

Legolas turned to Aragorn with a worried look.  “How much longer?”

“Only a few minutes.  Just relax, Legolas.  Everything will be fine.”

Gimli coughed, and he and Aragorn shared a significant glance.

Sam caught the look.  “They’re up to somethin’, Mister Merry,” he whispered.

“I should jolly well hope so,” Merry returned.  “Lindoriel looks pretty nice, but it just doesn’t seem right somehow.”

“‘Looks fair, feels foul’… only it feels both fair and foul, if you take my meaning.”

“That I do, Sam.  That I do.”

Meanwhile, Oroandúnë tried to calm Lindoriel’s nervous fretting with signs and soothing noises.  Deep down, she hoped against hope that whatever the Lord and Lady were doing would work.  The fleeting glimpse of Lindoriel’s natural sobriety made Oroandúnë hate to think of her being doomed to spend her life as a giggling goof.

The minutes passed quickly, and Legolas was led before the seats of the Lord and Lady.  The crowd gasped when Lindoriel entered next; she truly did look beautiful in her wedding gown, and the garland of elanor and niphredil stood out strikingly against her ebony tresses.  Even the rational part of Legolas’ mind had to admit that she was lovely, and the part of Lindoriel that was still Singing Bird admired the handsome elf to whom she was about to be wed.

When both Legolas and Lindoriel stood before him, Celeborn rose from his chair and raised his hands as if in blessing.  But rather than beginning the traditional wedding litany, he chanted something in Quenya that no one quite understood.

The bewitched pair swayed, all shadow vanishing from their faces.  With it went the sense of evil that had been so pervasive throughout the whole affair.  And a split second later, both Legolas and Lindoriel bolted from the scene.

Oroandúnë and Lalaith took off after Lindoriel; Aragorn and Gimli chased Legolas.

“What was that all about?” Pippin finally asked, flabbergasted.

“I dunno, Pip, but I think we’ve got the old Legolas back,” Merry shrugged.

To Be Continued

Back Up

Appendix:  References and Additional Notes

“One Man Shy (Legolas and the Merry Sioux)” is, aside from a convenient excuse for a pun and a hint toward the reason for the Fellowship’s concern, a parody of “One Man Shy (Peter and the Debutante)”—the only Monkees episode wherein Peter gets and keeps the girl.

Chapter 1:  Prologue

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“When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then it happens…” – refrain of “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder (I always think it’s Sly and the Family Stone, but it isn’t)

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I didn’t think of it at the time, but Wolf blushing could be a reference to “What Makes the Red Man Red?” from Disney’s version of Peter Pan.

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“Wolf” and “Ram” are a half-conscious tribute to Wolfram von Eschenbach, whose Parzifal was the basis for Richard Wagner’s opera.

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“It’s complicated” is something of an inside joke… my cousins kept saying it when we had an impromptu family reunion a few years ago, and it stuck with me.

Chapter 2

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“I know that something very strange has happened to my brain…” – first line of “Sweet Young Thing” by the Monkees (written by Mike Nesmith, Carole King, and Gerry Goffin)

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Yellow Flower is a name I saw in a book I read when I was little.  It might have been in the Childcraft Encyclopedia volume about Indians, or it might have been in a read-along book about the Sioux.  I can’t remember now; it’s been at least ten years since I read it last, and probably more like 15.

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“Count to ten, then follow” is based slightly on similar exchanges in Hogan’s Heroes and The A-Team.  I was actually thinking of the A-Team ep “Children of Jamestown” at the time.

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“A man in love has the strength of thousands!” – statement made by Micky Dolenz in “Monkees Get Out More Dirt” and by Davy Jones in “Too Many Girls (Davy and Fern).”  They may not have originated it, but that’s where I got it from.

Chapter 3

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“That old black magic has me in its spell…” – first line of “That Old Black Magic” by the Glenn Miller Orchestra

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I don’t remember now if Celeborn and Galadriel ever called Aragorn “Estel” in LOTR.  I would think, though, that since he’s about to become their grandson-in-law, they would be justified in calling him by his first nickname.

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The superficial parallels to the story of Beren and Lúthien are a little obvious to anyone familiar with The Silmarillion, but since I’m reading Philosopher at Large’s excellent “Leithian Script,” I felt I ought to mention it.  I had planned to put in an exchange with Celeborn playing ‘Sauron’s advocate’ and Aragorn using “The Debate of Finrod and Andreth” as justification for opposing the romance (Finrod tells Andreth, who was in love with his brother Aegnor, that human/elf relationships simply wouldn’t work except in matters of great doom, such as the later cases of Beren/Lúthien and Tuor/Idril), but it didn’t work out.

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“Bright are the stars that shine…” – last verse of “And I Love Her” by the Beatles

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“Couple of jiggers of moonlight and add a star…” – Yes, I actually wrote out all the lyrics to this one.  It’s “Moonlight Cocktail” by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

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“When you’re in love, the whole world is Jewish!” – I’m not sure where this originated, but I’ve seen it as the title of a Jewish humor video.  General Burkhalter changed it to “the whole world is German” in the Hogan’s Heroes episode “Will The Blue Baron Strike Again?”, but I figured I ought to go with the original (and display a little Jewish pride while I was at it).

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“What a day for a daydream…” – Okay, so it’s a little obvious (“Daydream” by The Wallace Collection, also performed by the Lovin’ Spoonful).  I almost put “Got a date with a blender…” in homage to the Monkees episode “Monkees Watch Their Feet,” but I didn’t think anyone would get that.

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“Get me to the church on tiiiime!” – refrain of “Get Me To The Church On Time” from My Fair Lady.

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I guess I’ve been reading too much of Thundera Tiger’s excellent work; that’s probably where the Black Númenórean idea came from, as well as setting the first use of the spell in Dol Amroth when Celeborn and Galadriel were there (borne out by Unfinished Tales and much easier to explain than having the poor kids turn up in Lothlórien).

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“Love is the ultimate trip” – sentiment on a button worn by Micky Dolenz during a short sketch filmed at about the same time as “Monstrous Monkee Mash;” this was the original “Save the Texas Prairie Chicken” sketch, and while it didn’t make it into the final cut of that episode, it did show up in blooper format at the end of “Monkees on the Wheel” (I think).

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It seems logical that under such circumstances, Celeborn and Galadriel would have sought help from the Valar and even from Ilúvatar to be able to put their vast combined knowledge together and break the spell.  How would they know to do such a thing?  With Galadriel being a telepath and the obviously weird behavior of two mortals who appeared out of nowhere, I’d think it’d be readily apparent that something needed to be done.

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“m-mu-mu…” – reference to a Murder, She Wrote episode in which Grady is about to get married and is so nervous that he can’t say “married” or “marriage” (it’s really pretty funny… poor Grady. ;) )

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The suit incident really happened to my best friend’s husband.  He put on his dad’s suit and his brother’s shoes and didn’t notice that the shoes were too tight and the tux too big until other family members noticed for him.  Of course, part of it may have come from the fact that on the way to the wedding rehearsal, he had been too busy looking at her to watch where he was driving and rear-ended a truck.  It would have been funnier if it hadn’t been such a dangerous situation….

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