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***

Call me a joker, call me a fool
Right at this moment I’m totally cool

***

Quickly and with accuracy, he put an arrow into his target and drew another from his quiver. The first long dart had not yet stopped its quivering, when its brother slid in quickly, just inches from the first one.

“There, little Miss Know-it-all!” Orophin stated. “Put yours in the middle of that, if you can!” He stared down haughtily at the young elleth.

Faeowynne arched a single eyebrow and sneered, “Really, Uncle Orophin! You make it much too easy!” Without taking a breath, she removed an arrow from her quiver and just as quickly as he, buried the point directly in the middle of his two.

***

Clear as a crystal, sharp as a knife
I feel like I’m in the prime of my life

***

Orophin let out a low whistle. “You are your Ada’s daughter.” Together, the two walked out to the target to retrieve their arrows. “He has done a fine job teaching you in my absence.” he stated with a grin.

“Hmmph! Who else would I be?” she scoffed. “And you know my Ada could out shoot you in the rain!” She yanked her arrow from the target and shook it at him. “With his eyes closed.”

***

Sometimes it feels like I’m going to fast

***

A single eyebrow shot up from the tall Elf. “Aye! You are your Ada’s daughter – complete with his arrogance!” But with her mother’s height, he added silently to himself. He also pulled his arrows from the target. “Put the target out another fifty yards?”

“Make it hard. A hundred.” Her smile was reminiscent of her mother’s grin.

***

I don’t know how long this feeling will last
Maybe it’s only tonight

***

Faeowynne studied her uncle as he picked up the target and proceeded to walk it off the necessary yardage. He had put weight back on and no longer looked haunted. His wife’s death had rocked him, and her Ada, along with Uncle Rumil and Adar Celeborn, had been afraid he would have faded had he not brought his youngest son, Tomasil , with him. The Elfling was younger than she and her twin, but he followed Anselm around like puppy. He was more in tuned with nature than he was with battle skills. She figured he would go crazy when the Twins arrived back from their time with the Rangers.

***

Sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I’m shot
Sometimes I don’t know how much more I’ve got

***

“You have a most puzzled expression on your face, tithen aras. What are you thinking?” Faeowynne’s hand went to her long blonde braid, pulling on it in an action her mother held dear of her Ada.

“A question, Uncle.” Dark blue eyes looked up into grey ones. “How could you fall in love with a human?”

***

Maybe I’m headed over the hill
Maybe I’ve set myself up for the kill

***

Orophin’s breath caught. Since his return some months back, no one had pressed him for information. All knew of his ladylove, his unconventional bonding. No one had tried to talk him out of it, tried to dissaude him from marrying with the beautiful healer who had helped Bronwyn so much late in her first pregnancy. Elrond’s great-granddaughter.

Lera Maere.

“One cannot decide who they will or will not fall in love with.” he answered quietly. “Your mother is a human. You might fall in love with a human.”

***

Tell me how much do you think you can take
Until the heart in you is starting to break?

***

“YRCH!” Her shoulders were up around delicately pointed ears. “Do not be crude. I have every intention on going to the Undying Lands with Ada and Mama. I will never fall in love and I will never marry.” She nodded to his bow. “Challenge me.”

Orophiin smiled and quickly shot off two arrows. This time, they were just apart enough for one arrow to fit. “Heh! Beat that!”

Faeowynne grinned. “Ah! Now that is a challenge!” She aimed carefully.

And set her arrow directly in the middle.

Orophin let out another low whistle. “I think I am done in for the day.” He headed towards the target. “So, you are going to the Undying Lands! What if you find a man you love and wish to stay with? I heard that you had attracted the attention of a certain Ranger.”

Faeowynne followed him to the target to help him take it down. “Who told you that awful lie? The only one I speak to is Ranald and he and I are just friends.”

“Well, that is how many loves begin.”

“Not my parents. Not you and Lera.” She looked down at her boots, toes scuffing in the dirt. “I am sorry, Uncle Orophin. I did not wish you to bring your discomfort.” Quickly, she walked up to him and put her arms around him.

Orophin’s arms went around her and he hugged her close. “Ah, tithen aras. My memories now are sweet, not sad. Our time together was short, but I would not trade it for anything.” He tipped her chin so he could look at her. “Now, why are you so determined NOT to fall in love? Why are you so determined to go to the Undying Lands?”

They walked slowly back towards Rivendell. Orophin quietly admired the tall trees. He heard her inhale.

“Because, if I do not go, Ada and Mama will have no one. No one but each other.” Faeowynne looked off into the trees. “None of Mama’s children will go and she will grieve.” She smiled inwardly. “She will grieve anyway. So will Ada, but he will not allow her to see it.”

Orophin heard rustling in the trees, and he peered closely, pulling his bow to ready. Faeowynne had heard the noise as well, and pulled hers to the ready. “What makes you so sure Beckett or Anselm will not go?”

With reflexes of a warrior, Faeowynne notched and released her arrow, an Orc falling from the tree, squealing in his death throes. “Simple. Beckett was born first. He will get Mama’s bow.” She never took her eyes from the trees. Quickly, she pulled a second arrow from her quiver and shot, a second Orc falling silently, dead before he hit the ground. Orophin looked at her askance.

“How old are you again?”

” 97.”

He shook his head. “Much too young to kill so unfeelingly.” Quickly, he turned, releasing his arrow, another Orc falling from the tree. “Anselm might go.” He shot again. Yet another Orc fell from yet another tree. The two circled, listening carefully for several minutes.

Quiet. Calm. They began to collect the bodies of the dead Orcs.

“Anselm will stay. She is like Mama. She wants to see the lands Ada would not let Mama explore. The Desert south of Gondor, The Easterling’s, and the lands East of Mordor.” Faeowynne was grunting with the largest of the Orcs, dragging him to the pile. “She wants to go back to the Golden Woods, back to Lothlórien and talk to the trees. She wants Treebeard to let her sit in on Ent meetings.”

Orophin was dragging his Orc as well. “Faeowynne! There was a reason why your Ada would not let your mother go to those places! There is nothing there! Two Isatari went into the East and never returned.”

The petite elleth dropped the leg of the Orc she was dragging in order to put her hands on her hips. “Well duh! I know that! I have told her that! She does not listen to reason! She is her Mother’s daughter!” She rolled her eyes. “She is so… fey!” She snarled her nose pointing at the dead Orcs. “These things are so… gross.”

Orophin laughed, a deep laugh, rusty from disuse. “Aye. They are rather disgusting. And they will stink past Valinor when we begin to burn them.” He looked at her ruefully. “We must stay until the fire smolders.”

“Yrch!” Shoulders around the ears again. “Can we not just let the werebeasts and banshees take them?” Apparently, she listened to the wild ghost stories her mother told of ages yet to come.

“Werebeasts? Banshees?” Orophin tested the wind and chose a spot upwind. “Nay, the stink will attract more Orcs and other nasty things we do not wish around Rivendell. Best burn them and sit for a few hours than to take the chance.” They started the fire and sat quietly for a long while a ways from the putrid mound.

“Anselm will stay?”

“Oh, aye. She will stay.”

“You are sure.”

“Beyond positive. I know my sister. We have shared a room and secrets for too long.” Orophin nodded in agreement. In many ways, Anselm and Faeowynne were very much like Elrond’s twins; they refused to be parted. Despite the size of the last Homely House, they shared a room, and were rarely separated for anything.

“Your Ada will not allow her to stay here alone.”

“Oh.” Faeowynne’s voice was soft, amused, “she will not be alone.”

“Ah!” Orophin’s smile lit his face and she realized why the lovely Lera had fallen in love with her Uncle. “Who has she picked out to be HER Guardian?”

“I am not telling. She has picked him out and he will not deny her, if he knows what is good for him.” Her eyes slid to the Elf sitting next to her. “Do not pester me, for I will not tell.”

Orophin’s grin widened, his head bobbing with his rampant thoughts. “So, Beckett and Anselm will stay and you will go to the Undying Lands so your parents will not grieve. Are you not the loving child?” he chided. This middle child of his brother, he decided, was the easiest to read. Eager to be the son Haldir would leave behind. Eager to be strong for her mother, for both parents. Eager to be the adult. Eager to give up all to be everything to everybody. Would she lose herself in the process?

***

Sometimes I lie awake, night after night
Coming apart at the seams
Eager to please, ready to fight
Why do I go to extremes?

***

“Nay. I will not have them grieve as you would have had Tomasil decided not to join you. I will not have them grieve forever as Elrond will.”

“You have never met Elrond.” Orophin’s voice was quiet, almost breaking. Elrond’s grief, he understood well. Bronwyn and Haldir’s upcoming grief, he understood as well.

Bronwyn’s knives were extremely sluggish in returning to her these days. She knew, Haldir knew, their time was growing short.

“Nay, I have not met Elrond. But I have heard Celeborn speak of him with much respect. I have met his children, how they speak of him.” Faeowynne had gone with Rumil just two summers ago to Gondor; Rumil had done drawings, portraits of Arwen, Elessar and their children and grandchildren; portraits to take to Elrond and Celebrian. “Mama and Ada speak of him in revered tones.” she continued. “Mama reveres very few. The simple fact that she and Ada think highly of him is enough for me.” The braid she tugged on, she slung over her shoulder. “I cannot wait to meet him.”

“He is an exceptional being.”

“So I hear.” She looked into the distance and saw riders approaching. Rangers. The Twins. “Perhaps, if I am able, I will be able to take Elrond a gift to ease his grief.”

Orophin was looking into the distance, following her stare. He saw the riders as well. “And what would that be, Tithen Aras?”

A dreamy, far-away look was on her normally well- schooled face. “Oh, we shall see, Uncle. We shall see.” She quickly reeled herself in. “They do not bring good news.”

Orophin’s eyebrow arched. “We have killed several Orcs close to Rivendell. That is news bad enough.” He stood up slowly, extending a hand she took. She grabbed him, hugging him around the waist.

“I am glad you came to home to us, Uncle Orophin. I am glad you brought Tomasil and came home. I am glad you did not fade.”

Orophin clasped the young elleth to him, the enormity of her words not lost on him.

***

And if I stand or I fall
It’s all or nothing at all
Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes

***

“I am glad I came home too.”

***

Fini

***

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