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Story Notes:
This was formerly posted under the pen name Karlis Kimmer. Mundane life got the better of me and long story short I was unable to keep up with posting. WELLLLL drum roll please... there is now over 200,000 words in this story. I am pleased to start re-releasing this story for your enjoyment! PLEASE REVIEW! I would love to hear what you all think of it ;-)
Author's Chapter Notes:
This will take you until the girls leave with the Fellowship.
AVALANCHE AND RESCUE

The first sign of trouble was the rumble; I looked out my window and could not see anything but the moon through the trees. The sky was bright and clear and stars dotted it like tiny flames. I shook my head and went back to my bed. Then I felt a vibration coming through the floor. Did Maine have earthquakes? My heart increased its beat. I hated earthquakes. I became aware of a far off grumbling noise, which was getting louder by the second. I left my room as the vibrating in the floor increased.

“Karen!” I screamed, running for her room. She met me in the hall.

“What the hell?” Karen said, her face cloudy with sleep. “Lisa, what’s going on?”

“Earthquake!” I was beginning to panic. I ran into the great room trying to find a big enough piece of furniture to fit my fat ass under. The grumbling had become a growl and was thunderous. Karen was crying and she grabbed for me the same time I reached out to grab her. We stood crying and screaming in the center of the room as the entire cabin shook. “I love you!” I cried, “Thanks for being my friend!” I was positive we were about to be consumed by the very earth itself.

“I love you too! You are my sister to the end!” Karen replied sobbing into my shoulder. After what seemed like ages, the growl sighed down to a grumble again and finally stopped. We stood still, listening; the only sound was our sniffles. “We are alive, right?” Karen said pulling away to stand shaking a few feet away.

“I think so. God I hate fucking earthquakes.” I said feeling myself quiver all over.

“I don’t think that was an earthquake, Lisa. I think that was an avalanche.” Karen looked around.

I snorted, “It can’t be an avalanche. I mean… It can’t be…right?” I walked to the large window that looked back up the mountain. There was no light coming through. All I could see was blankness. “OH SHIT!” I turned and ran for my room while Karen sprinted to hers. I flung the curtain back. Blankness again. “Mother fucker!” I yelled, getting pissed. I survived an avalanche only to be buried alive under it? Hell fucking no! I ran out of my room.

Karen came out of hers, crying again. “Mine’s covered, and I heard you. Let’s check the front.” We held hands as we walked to the front door, neither of us really wanting to open it. I stretched out my hand; it was shaking uncontrollably. I grabbed the knob, turned it and yanked it open. The porch was dark and I could see nothing. I reached for the light switch, and then laughed nervously, “No power.” I said when it did not respond. Karen went to the table next to the door and retrieved the flashlight. She turned it on and shone it out. The light bounced off the snow, in a thousand little sparkles. I walked out onto the porch. I looked up and could not see the sky. The cabin was completely buried. We were screwed. I turned back to Karen, terror leaping into my heart.

“Kar, we can’t get out!” I flew back into the house and slammed the door. “Oh my god! We’re trapped here!” Karen began to cry again, and I followed. We wandered back into the great room and sank to the floor, the fire illuminating us in its soft glow. We cried and cried. Sometimes we’d get up run for a window and double check and come back to fling ourselves back onto the floor. After a while we had cried ourselves out.

The fire crackled in the hearth as Karen and I huddled close to it. It had been two hours since the avalanche. Karen made a sniffling sound next to me and I put my arm around her, “Honey, we survived! They will find us!”

“No one is gonna come looking for me.” She said in a small voice. I rolled my eyes, ok, enough of the pity party for both of us. Time to take charge and do what we could do. I watched the fire for a moment before I realized that it had never gone out. “Karen! The fire! It never went out!” Karen looked at the fire.

“What?” she asked distracted.

“There is no smoke coming back into the cabin either!” I grinned at her, “You know what that means?” She looked at me with a blank expression. “The chimney is above the snow! The rescue teams can see the smoke from the cabin!” I was excited. This was great! I looked at our wood stockpile and calculated. “We have about 24 hours of straight fire with the wood we brought in. So we need to keep the fire burning.”

“I’m going to go get dressed, ok. Don’t want any hunky rescue men seeing me in my night shirt.” She went off to her room. I grinned; yeah she had a good idea. I rose and went to dress myself. We met back in the great room a few minutes later. Karen had something in her hands.

“What’s that?” I asked her.

“Well if we have to wait, I figured a game of cards?” She showed me the deck. “You up for one?”

“Hell yeah!” I said and pulled the coffee table so that it was in front of the fire. Soon we were laughing and trading insults over the game. We were so involved that we didn’t hear the soft scraping near the door.

“There!” Legolas pointed toward a copse of trees near the edge of the snow slide. He could see a faint wisp of smoke rising from the snow. He began to move over the snow toward it, walking easily on the crust, his footsteps not even making impressions in the snow. He heard a curse behind him and turned to see Aragorn, who had fallen through the crust again and was struggling to get back up. Legolas walked back to his friend. “Aragorn, do you want me to go on ahead and begin digging them out?”

Aragorn swore loudly and fell back into the snow, looking up at his friend. “You had better; I will be a while making my way to them and we must make haste.” Gandalf had told them that whatever changes they made to this world would disappear as soon as they stepped back through the portal. He had said an incantation over them just moments before they had come to this world.

Legolas turned and ran lightly over the snow toward the smoke. He stopped when he reached it, looking up the mountain and then down the mountain, trying to judge the best way to dig them out. He remembered from watching the cabin last night that the door faced down the mountain. He paced out to where he thought the edge of the roof was, and using the shovel that he and Aragorn had stolen, began to dig. He dug at a fast pace, wanting to be sure that they reached the women before the other humans began combing the mountain for survivors. Aragorn arrived a short while later, and dropping down in the sizable hole Legolas had already created, began to dig with him. Soon they reached the edge of the porch roof; the snow had not packed underneath it because of its position, so they were able to knock a gap in the snow to slide through. When they created the portal back to Middle-Earth, the snow they dug out would instantly be back in place. The only difference would be that the occupants of the cabin would be gone. Aragorn felt a twinge of guilt; the rescuers would dig in and find the cabin empty and the women would be searched for but never found. He touched the Elf’s shoulder, “I will go first. I think that even though Gandalf swears that the people here are aware of Elves, after a fright like this avalanche, an Elf would be too much for any woman!” Legolas laughed, nodding. Aragorn slid down through the gap to land lightly on the porch. Legolas was quick behind him. “Legolas, be ready for anything.”

“Yes, let’s go.”

Aragorn stepped forward and grabbed the doorknob. He turned it silently and pushed the door open enough so that he could see into the cabin. It was dark, the only illumination coming from the fire in the hearth. That is when he saw them. There was a blonde woman sitting on the floor facing him. Her hair was pulled back into a knot at her neck. Between her and them was another woman sitting with her back to them. She had red hair pulled back into a ponytail. They were not at all what Aragorn was expecting. For one thing they were… well… rather large. He didn’t know exactly what he had expected, but these were supposedly the women who Elrond had seen.

Legolas looked into the room over Aragorn’s shoulder, his eyes taking in the women, their size and the fact that they were playing a game of cards. He looked closer at the blonde one whose face he could see clearly. She had an oval face, a straight nose, and a sensuous mouth. She was looking intently at her cards through spectacles when suddenly she smiled. He felt his heart skip a beat and his breath catch in his throat. That smile, those eyes… how could it be her, the woman from his dreams?

Aragorn pulled back out onto the porch pushing Legolas back so that the woman was not in his line of sight. He looked sharply at Aragorn. “Are you sure we have the right house?” Aragorn whispered.

“Yes, I am sure.” Legolas replied shortly. Aragorn looked at his friend. It was not like him to become irritated with a question. He shook it off thinking that Legolas must be wondering the same thing as he was. He nodded and shrugged and said, “Well then, let’s go get them.” They entered the darkness of the cabin and stopped short. The blonde now had a fire poker and was standing between her companion and themselves.

“Show yourself, or face the consequences!” she growled. Aragorn was surprised; she had a warrior’s heart, even if not the body.

“Peace. We mean you no harm, Lady.”

Lisa lowered the poker slightly and squinted into the gloom. Was she seeing things?

“Aragorn?” Karen asked in a small incredulous voice. Lisa looked harder, it sure looked like Aragorn. She took a step forward trying to see into the darkness, wondering who the second person was. Not daring to hope.

“Oh my god!” she whispered, “Oh my...” the poker tip hit the floor. “Legolas.” Her voice was tinged with amazement.

“You have the advantage Lady,” Legolas said. “Might we inquire your names?” He took a step forward, Lisa backed up a step.

“Karen? Are you having the same hallucination I am having?” her eyes were wide, and her voice trembled slightly.

“If you mean the one where Aragorn and Legolas are inside the cabin where we are buried under about a ton of snow. Yeah… it’s the same one.”

“Oh…Ok… Just checking.” Lisa never took her eyes off Legolas’ face. Finally after a moment she stepped forward putting her hand out. Legolas stood very still, not wanting to frighten her. He felt a thrill as her fingers encountered his face, brushing his skin lightly.

“OH SHIT!” She jumped back as if she had been scalded. “Karen! He’s solid! I mean, I can touch him.” She scrambled back to her friend and brought the poker back up to defend herself. Karen had jumped up when Lisa shouted and was now behind her, backing away from the men. “What the hell Karen? This cannot be possible. I mean… unless…”

Karen began to cry, “Do you think we…”

“No I sure as hell don’t think we’re dead. I don’t know what to think.” Legolas took another step forward, as did Aragorn. The firelight washed over them, bringing them into focus.

“Please, Ladies. We truly are not here to harm you.” Aragorn placed his hand over his heart. Lisa snorted and spoke before Karen even got a chance.

“Right, and what exactly are you here for then? Wild, crazy, passionate sex?” Karen began to laugh; Lisa’s mouth had the habit of running away with her when she was emotional. Lisa froze. “Did I just say that out loud?” she asked out of the corner of her mouth. Karen was now seized by the giggles and fell back on the couch.

“Oh yeah, babe, you so totally did say that out loud.” Lisa let the poker tip fall to the floor again as she hung her head. She could never look Legolas in the eyes again. Karen was laughing hard, on the verge of hysteria.

Lisa rounded on her, her face scarlet. “Damn it, Karen, it wasn’t that damn funny!” Karen, who was wheezing on the couch, began laughing again. Lisa sank to her knees on the floor. She began to laugh as well. Aragorn and Legolas looked at each other. This was not the reaction they had expected. They had expected hysteria and tears, but not innuendo and laughter. Well the women did think that they were a figment of their imagination. Maybe that was it. Maybe it was the way women were in this world. They had to wait until the emotion settled before proceeding. Lisa slid up onto the couch next to Karen, “You know, if this is a hallucination… mmmm… it’s a nice one.” She looked over at Legolas again. “Yummy! I get the Elf.”

Karen elbowed her hard, “Lisa what if it isn’t a hallucination? What if that really is Legolas and Aragorn? You really should start watching your mouth, it’s out of control.”

“I said that last part out loud again didn’t I?” Lisa felt the blood rush to her cheeks again. Karen nodded, and Lisa got to her feet. “OK I’m going to go kill myself in my room now. Have fun!”

She started to walk out of the room when Karen said, “Don’t you dare leave me alone out here… wait a tic… yeah go on…”

Lisa turned back to her grinning. “Ok, enough bull shit. If they are real this ought to prove it.” She lifted the poker and charged both of them. She had enough sword knowledge from her SCA habit that she didn’t look like a complete fool, until Legolas stepped forward and ducked her blow to come up behind her, grabbing the poker and jerking it neatly out of her hand. She fell back into him, solid and gorgeous. She wanted to relax into his arms, but she spun around. “Hey no fair!”

He cocked his head looking down at her. She lost all awareness of time or space as his eyes met hers. They were amused, not angry. “Battle is not fair, my Lady.” He backed away and the moment was lost. She finally remembered to breathe, and then she remembered that she was fat. She sighed deeply, and walked back over to Karen.

“I need a drink!” Lisa said, veering off toward the kitchen.

“Bring me one ok?” Karen yelled after her.

“I’ll bring the whole fucking bottle… better yet… two. One for me and one for you.” She could not believe that Aragorn and her Hot Elf number 1 were standing there… in her time. How depressing. I’m fat, she thought, grabbing two bottles of Wild Flings out of the fridge. We are a sorry pair, premixing our favorite drink, but oj and Wilderberry Schnapps was the best drink on the face of the planet. She didn’t think, but grabbed four glasses out of the cabinet, and walked back into the great room. She set the glasses down and poured four large servings. She picked hers up, and saluting the two still standing at the edge of the firelight, she knocked back the whole glass. Bending again, she poured another.

“Come closer, I won’t attack you again. I guess you guys really are here. Have a drink. I’ll warn you ahead of time, its liquor.”

Legolas watched Lisa drink her drink as if it was some form of spirits. Her next statement confirmed this. He could not speak; he was trying to come to terms with the fact that this woman had invaded his dreams in Middle-Earth, yet she existed here. She would not look at him now; her eyes were full of pain. His heart broke. Why did she hurt so?

Karen took a healthy drink from her glass. “Ok, we have come to the conclusion that you are not a hallucination. Why are you here?” She looked at Aragorn. His gaze set off her heart. It raced as his eyes met hers. She felt it in her toes. She wondered if he felt anything, then snorted in disbelief at the ridiculous notion.

Aragorn walked closer and sat on the floor across from the red-head. She was very lovely with big green eyes that were full of intelligence. Where the blonde was all spit and fire, the red-head was quiet, and ladylike. Well, more than her friend at any rate. “You are Karen? I am Aragorn.” He began trying to start this whole fiasco over.

“We know who you are. You are Aragorn son of Arathorn. Known as Strider, and Estel.” Aragorn’s mouth fell open as Lisa took up the thread.

“And you,” She looked at Legolas, “Are Legolas Prince of Mirkwood and son of Thranduil.” She stopped for a moment letting them take in the fact that they really did know them. Legolas stared at Lisa, Aragorn at Karen. Lisa finally spoke again. “I am Lisa, this is Karen. Now again I must ask you, why you are here?” She paused trying to find the right words.

Karen took over, “Your story has been told here in our world. It has been written into a book. I would show it to you, but I don’t think that I should.” She looked over at Lisa who nodded.

Legolas found his voice first, “So it is a fable here? We are a story like you would tell to an audience?” Lisa smiled at him. Every time she did that it about knocked him over.

“Yes, we call it fiction, because it isn’t supposed to be real. So when you walked in the door, well…” her voice trailed off.

Karen again picked up where she left off. “We thought you were an illusion. You have been in our imaginations for a very long time. We both love the books.” Karen blushed as she realized that she had admitted to thinking of them.

“Yeah, sorry about that.” Lisa said blushing as well. “I get… mouthy when I am stressed. I apologize for whatever I said earlier. Um…” Legolas reached over the table and laid his hand on her arm. She jumped but did not snatch her arm back, her eyes on his face.

“There is nothing to forgive, if I saw what I thought to be a story character walk in the door I might say things I should not as well.” He said, removing his hand. “Aragorn, I think that they should know why we are here.” He continued, looking at his friend.

“You know Gandalf?” Aragorn began. Karen nodded, leaning forward to rest her arms on the table. The fire glinted off her hair. Aragorn looked at her, intelligent eyes bored into his. He felt a flutter in his heart. He glanced at Lisa who had leaned back against a sturdy piece of furniture and had one knee raised so that she could rest the hand with the glass over it. She nodded and took another drink. She lounged like a man, interesting. He looked at Karen’s drink; it was still half full. “He opened a portal of magic from Rivendell to your world.” Ok, he hadn’t lost them yet, “Elrond has had a vision.”

“Really? Of us?” Karen asked, her face puzzled.

“Yes, of both of you. It would seem that he believes that you are needed in Middle-Earth and Gandalf has sent us to bring you back with us.”

Lisa sat up looking intently at Aragorn, her face calculating. “You are to bring us to Rivendell. Karen and me. You are sure?”

Legolas cut in. “Why not you? What Elrond has seen he has not even divulged to us, only that you two are vital to the events that are happening in Middle-Earth now.”

Lisa’s eyes narrowed, Karen put her hand on her friend’s arm, but Lisa took the bit and ran with it. The pain and hurt radiating from her friend broke her heart. “Have either of you two taken a really good look at us? I mean, really… I want so much to help you. Believe me, it would make me the happiest woman alive to fall out of this world and into yours. But…damn it all I… I’m fat! What the hell would Middle-Earth need with a fat, out of shape, woman?” Her eyes were full of angry tears and she would not look up at Legolas. Karen did though; she saw in amazement that it looked as if the Elf’s heart was breaking. It only showed in his eyes, but it was there just the same.

Before Lisa could go on Karen spoke up, “I am fatter than you are honey, come on! I can totally see them wanting to take you. You are strong and would be back in shape in no time. I’ve seen you at the Renn Faires. You know what to do with a sword. I don’t. I just sit there in a dress and watch. What do they need me for?” The men watched the two women in front of them. They were more than aware of their inabilities, and they were also extremely hard on themselves. Aragorn was watching Karen belittle herself and felt a hot spurt of anger rise in him. She was beautiful, why did she think so little of herself? He glanced over at Lisa and saw that she was angry now.

Her eyes sparked as she turned to face Karen, “Damn it Karen, how many times do I have to tell you to knock that shit off? You are beautiful, smart, funny as hell and if you would give yourself half a second you could do anything you set your mind to!”

Karen was now angry, “Then you have to shut up about yourself, you are way more beautiful than I am and you are strong and vibrant.”

“Whatever, Karen. You are needed in Middle-Earth according to Elrond… And I guess I am as well so we are going and that is final.” Lisa crossed her arms.

“I’m not going.” Karen said, glaring at Lisa. “I will not be humiliated when they realize they made a mistake and send me back!”

“Yes you are!”

“Nuh-uh!”

“Uh-huh!”

“Nuh-uh!”

“Uh-huh!”
Legolas looked at Aragorn who shrugged, the women were working it out themselves. If they waited a few more minutes he guessed they would have an answer.

“Fine!” Karen yelled glaring at Lisa.

“Fine!” Lisa yelled back, then sighed. “So we’re going?”

“Yeah, stupid poo-poo head!” Karen said. Lisa laughed and reached out to hug her friend. They suddenly remembered that they were not alone and turned to look at the men who were sitting there looking at them both with the exact same expressions on their faces.

“I guess you think we are crazy.” Lisa sighed again. “In this world, we are extremely normal. We don’t stand out at all. I promise.”

Aragorn thought that was extremely unlikely, but he held his tongue. “Well, we must away. We need to be gone before they come looking for you.” He rose. Lisa reached out and filled her glass again. “No Lady, no more. The trip is… unique and you will be sick at the other end. Do not add to your misery on the other side.” He offered his hand to Karen who took it, rising to stand next to him. Lisa would have gotten to her feet without help but Legolas offered her his hand. She reached past it to grip his forearm. He smiled and grasped hers and hauled her to her feet in one fluid movement.

“Do we need to bring anything with us?” Karen asked.

“Your needs will be met in Rivendell. Leave everything.” Aragorn replied. He walked to the door and took a pouch out of his pocket. He opened it and sprinkled some powder on the threshold. Light flooded the room as the doorway flared brightly white. It shimmered and sparkled like a curtain that had been hung over the black space. Aragorn stepped back.

“My Lady?” He held a hand out for Karen. She hung back, giggling nervously.

Lisa stepped forward. She held her head high and squared her shoulders.“Well, here goes nothing. Catch you on the flip side Kar.” She strode purposefully into the light.

Legolas watched her go. In her heart, she was a warrior. Now he just had to convince her mind. Karen, emboldened by her friend, walked quickly into the light after her. Legolas looked at Aragorn and they both entered the light together.

The light faded, and the door became blank again. The beat of helicopter blades could be heard in the distance. The fire burned itself out. All that was found was four glasses, one empty, two full and one half full.

Lisa floated forward, spinning and twisting through a rainbow tunnel that seemed to last forever. She could hear nothing, but felt warm wind rushing over her skin. She tried to look behind her to see if Karen was there, but she found she could not move of her own will. She finally felt as if she was slowing and suddenly her feet hit something hard. She stumbled forward into a grotto. The world began to spin and her stomach rebelled. Oh god, not here. I can’t puke here. She hunched over, taking step after step, trying desperately not to fall. Then she felt hands on her and the world went black.

Elrond stood to the side of the Portal with Gandalf. They should be returning any moment. The portal flared and a tall, stunning blonde woman stepped out. She staggered forward, fighting the illness he knew was overtaking her. He nodded his head as he saw she was about to pass out and Glorfindel swept her into his strong arms, whisking her up the steps to the room that had been prepared for Elrond’s guests. He was back again in seconds.

Elrond and Gandalf looked back as a petite, beautiful red head stepped out and began to slump immediately to the ground. Again Glorfindel rushed forward, catching her. He carried his charge up the stairs to join her companion.

Aragorn then stepped out, staggering slightly; he shook his head and looked around. Legolas came out right behind him. He gripped Aragorn’s shoulder for support but remained upright as well.

“Well done.” Gandalf said, coming forward.

Legolas looked around. “Where are the ladies? Are they alright?”

“They are indeed fine.” Elrond assured them. “Glorfindel has taken them to rest. You should go to yours; I will need you to find me in the morning. We have had word of Smeagol.” He walked up the stairs out of the grotto. Aragorn followed wearily behind him. Gandalf paused to look at Legolas; the Elf had changed somehow in his journey. He shook his shaggy head. Well, it begins he thought and followed the Elf up the stairs.



When they opened their eyes, they found themselves in a comfortable room in Elrond's home in Rivendell. Luminescent fluted columns and spires of ivory rose to form rooms open to the sweetly scented air, but still sheltered the inhabitants from the occasional misty rainfall. They knew right away where they were.

"Karen," Lisa could find no words to describe what she was feeling. There was a sense of belonging, as if they were being welcomed home.

"Um, Lisa, you’re...skinny..." Karen's voice was tinged with wonder.

"Look in the mirror lately?" Lisa shot back with a grin.

"Huh?" Karen turned around and saw a tiny woman in a long white nightdress and deep auburn hair cascading in rippling waves down her back. She jumped, at first thinking someone else was in the room with them. Then she did a double take. Then a triple take. "Oh. My. God. Lisa..." tears streamed down her face. "Lisa...I'm..."

Lisa smiled. "You're beautiful, honey."

"My God, so are you. You're gorgeous. Your hair - Lis, it's down to your ass." Lisa spun around, her hair whipping around with her. Then she looked back at Karen and cocked her head. There was something else different that she couldn't quite put her finger on. She shrugged, thinking it unimportant. Until she came to stand next to her sister-friend at the mirror. "Karen, you've shrunk!"

"Hmm?" Karen was busy studying herself. She even lifted the voluminous shift to check out her legs. She bent over and squeaked. "My thighs don't touch!"

Lisa bent over as well. ”Mine don't either!"

They looked at each other, giggling, then said together, “Susan Powter!”

"I can't believe it. It's all real...unless..." Karen said, tears streaming down her cheeks.

"Don't say it."

"But what if? What if we're dead and this is our version of heaven?"

Lisa linked her arm through Karen's. "And you're complaining?" her smart assedness had obviously lost nothing during the trip. "Just shut up and enjoy it while it lasts." There was a knock at the door. The friends threw on robes they found on their beds and opened it to see THE Gandalf standing there, gray robes, staff, and all.

Karen nearly fainted again, and had to sit on the bed to keep from falling to the floor. It was like meeting a celebrity.

"Ah, I see you are feeling better. May I come in?" He narrowed his eyes, which had a hint of a twinkle in them. "I think I may have some explaining to do.” Karen burst out laughing and looked over at Lisa. There was an answering grin on her friend's face. (RICKY RICARDO) Gandalf entered and took a chair by the window. Rivendell was spread out before them, shining brightly in the morning light. "You may be wondering how it is you are...different now," he began, trying to be tactful.

Karen couldn’t seem to stop crying - emotional woman that she was. “I don't think I care...I'm-"

"As you truly are inside," He said gently. Karen abruptly closed her mouth.

"If that's true," Lisa spoke up, grinning, "how come I’m not an elf?"

With an enigmatic smile, he answered in typically cryptic wizard fashion, "This is a journey the end of which none can foretell." Lisa rolled her eyes. They discussed many things that morning while they ate the simple but delicious breakfast they'd been brought.
Finally, Gandalf rose to leave, as the two friends obviously needed more rest. Traveling between worlds was very taxing on the mind, body and soul. As if they could sleep now! So when there was another knock at the door, they were still giggling and talking excitedly. Karen couldn't seem to stop jumping around. Her ankle didn't hurt at all! She felt as if she had wings; she could fly around the world and back. Lisa was already envisioning the battles she was going to fight. And win. Karen opened the door. Elrond was standing there. Oh shit. Another celebrity. How did you greet an elf King? Bow? Kiss his ring? Lisa bowed slightly, so Karen copied her. Elrond inclined his head and said, "May I enter?"

"Of course," Lisa replied.

"I am glad you made it here safely and that you are feeling better. You are most welcome.”

"Thank you," Lisa and Karen said together.

"The Council does not meet again for a few more days, so I hope that you will relax and gather your strength for the days to come. I also wish to invite you to a masquerade ball we are holding in two days' time, to celebrate Yenearsira – the winter solstice.” He explained when he saw their puzzled faces.

"Well, we'd like to but we don't have anything to wear - in fact, I was sort of wondering where our clothes were.” Lisa said, trying to sound respectful rather than rude.

Elrond smiled. "Forgive me. New clothes are being made for you. They should be ready later this morning. Your clothing was so strange, I thought it best that you wear traditional garb while you are here. The fabrics your clothes were made of caused quite a stir. What are they called?”

"Denim." Lisa answered. "It’s a serviceable fabric that is very tough, so that it takes a long time to wear out. And the other is just t-shirt material."

"Hmm..." Elrond said noncommittally. "Elves are not accustomed to such stiff, heavy, tight clothing. Anyway, I would be happy to have Aliniel make your costumes. She is an excellent seamstress and very quick. I'm sure she would have no trouble finishing in time.”

"That would be very kind of you. Thank you so much." Karen spoke up. Elrond nodded his head. "I was wondering..." Karen began shyly. "Are Aragorn and Legolas all right? We have not seen them and Gandalf did not mention them.” She sensed that it would be better to try to speak properly. No contractions and no slang. That way they wouldn’t stand out so much.

Elrond smiled. "They are well. Remember, this was their second time through the portal, so they recovered more quickly. They are on a short scouting expedition, searching for the accursed Gollum. They will return before the ball. Now," he said, rising, "I will leave you to your rest. I shall send Aliniel to you shortly. Please feel free to explore if you feel up to it." He nodded again and glided smoothly out the door.

Aliniel arrived about an hour later. Lisa already had an idea of what she wanted to be, if Aliniel could manage it. As she described it to the beautiful, silver-haired elf, Aliniel began to smile and nod. Then she said, "A helta ar caita caimanna."

"I'm sorry?" Lisa said.

“Oh! Excuse me. Please take your clothes off, so I can measure you." Lisa thought a phrase like that could come in handy with a handsome elf around, and she fully intended to have her way with Legolas before she had to go back to her own world. The two friends and the elven maid soon became comfortable with each other, so Lisa asked her to repeat the phrase, then practiced it, amid giggles, till she had it down pat. Karen knew what she wanted to be by then, something that would represent her journey into and through this world. Aliniel said it would be no problem. They spent the rest of the morning just wandering. Almost every elf they passed smiled and greeted them. They were a friendly, contented people, here in this haven. Karen almost wished she could stay here, rather than go on a quest with danger, and dirt, and possible...death. Same bubble, different scenery. No. She had an opportunity here. To change her whole attitude toward life. To become a different person. A better person. Someone who lived IN the world, rather than looking at it with her nose pressed against the glass.

The day of the ball, Elrond sent elven maids to collect Karen and Lisa and take them to get massages, and get their hair done and such. This was stuff that most certainly was NOT in Tolkien's books! Aliniel then brought them their costumes and helped them get dressed.

*************************************************************

Aragorn and Legolas had arrived back that morning, unable to locate Smeagol, but bringing news of stirrings in the south. They parted to prepare themselves for the ball, for there would be grand entertainment, good food, wine, women and song. Elven masquerade balls were really a chance for the female elves to show off their creative skills. The men just sort of dressed up and put a mask on. So Aragorn arrived in a black tunic embroidered with silver stars, black breeches, and polished black boots. Legolas was all in gray, embroidered with silver leaves, which set off his blond hair to perfection. They donned masks to match their outfits, and they were done. Fifteen minutes, tops. They met in the hallway and moved with the flow of the crowd heading toward the dining hall, all the while searching for two figures that were, well, not to be unkind, but larger than everyone else, as there was no such thing as a fat elf. They wanted to tell the two women they'd rescued from the avalanche all that they had learned, and to make sure they were completely recovered.


Lisa and Karen each took a deep breath. They had told each other at least ten times how beautiful the other looked, but...it only really started to sink in when they got appreciative looks from the elves - Lisa for her tall goldenness, and Karen for her petite pixie-ness. Aragorn had been standing near an archway leading to a small alcove when he looked up and saw what he thought was a breathtaking elven woman enter the hall. She was dressed in a stunning iridescent white gown, the bottom of which was made from phoenix feathers in various shades of pinks and lavenders; her mask was made of the same feathers. Her long blond hair hung in loose curls cascading down her back, all the way to her shapely rear. She shimmered every time she moved.

"Who is that?" Legolas asked, taking in the goddess's sky blue eyes. She seemed to be looking right at him, and her gaze burned him where he stood. "I know every elf here and I've never seen her before. I can tell you that even with the mask she's wearing. No elf has a body like that." The ranger was about to reply when another vision stepped out of the shadows. She was just as lovely as her companion, the Phoenix, but completely opposite. Where her friend was tall and curvy and lean, she was petite and shapely. She couldn't have been more than five feet tall, and maybe a hundred pounds. She was wearing a gown of fawn colored silk and a pair of electric blue butterfly wings was attached to her back by some invisible means. Her mask was of a pale blue material. Her deep auburn hair was bound up in braids. And even from across the room her startling jade green eyes found his and seemed to pierce his very soul. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, not only because of her beauty, but also because he had a strange feeling he knew her. His attention was broken when he felt a searing, burning sensation, as if someone had sunk a dagger into his breastbone. Involuntarily, his head turned, and he found himself unable to stop looking at Gimli, who was regaling a group of hobbits with stories of the famed treasures in the Mines of Moria. The Phoenix quickly found Legolas again with her searching eyes. It seemed he saw the summer sky above his home in Mirkwood in those eyes, and he lost himself in happy memories for a moment. When he focused on the present again, she smiled at him, said something to her companion, and they made their way through the crowd to join ranger and elf.

"Hello again," the Phoenix smiled. The Butterfly was shyly silent.

"Have we met?" Legolas tilted his head, trying to place her. He was sure he could never have forgotten the intensity of her gaze if they had encountered each other before. It seemed whenever he looked at her, he fell into her eyes, traveled through her soul, and came out the other side a different person. Every damned time. And that was just in the last few minutes! Aragorn's eyes were again drawn to the beautiful butterfly, and again forcefully drawn away, this time to Pippin, who had just set the hair on his foot alight by standing too close to a sparking fire.

"Yes,” the Phoenix, answered Legolas, “but unless you can guess, I will not tell you until the unmasking at midnight."

"Lle merna salk?" He asked with a smirk that was quickly wiped off his face when she answered as if she knew exactly what he'd said.

"Yes, thank you.” Legolas took her hand and led her out to the middle of the hall where an intricate dance was underway, with much weaving, figure-eights, dipping, and twirling. Aragorn bowed to the Butterfly. "Please forgive me, my Lady," he said softly, his eyes conveying the deep regret his tongue could not put into words. Then he walked away.

Well, that was a disaster, Karen thought. But what did she expect? He was already in love with an elf - who had just walked through the door. There was no mistaking who she was - Aragorn nearly ran several dancers down to get to her. Karen hung her head, trying to fight back tears. How stupid had she been to think that just because she was skinny, Aragorn would fall madly in love with her? She almost felt like just going back to her chamber and crying herself to sleep. But she couldn’t let Aliniel’s hard work be for nothing. She would have to find a nice, quiet corner to watch the festivities from.

"Pardon me, my lady," said a husky, sexy voice. Karen turned around. There was Hot Guy #2, Faramir. Right in front of her. "Would you care to dance?"

"Thank you. I would love to." Okay, if she couldn’t have Aragorn, she could at least enjoy herself with Faramir. Why not? It would be something to remember when they finally got sent home. The next dance was a slow one. Faramir pulled Karen closer and they floated around the floor to the music of flutes and harps. "I only arrived yesterday, to give news to my brother Boromir, who is here for the council meeting. You are not elven." He said thoughtfully. "Where is your home?"

“I wonder if you would believe me." She replied with a strange smile.

"I do not understand."

"My home is a place called 'America.'" She, who normally had two left feet was gliding to the music as if she were born to it. She looked up into Faramir’s handsome, yet sad eyes.

He smiled. “I have never heard of it, but there are many corners of Middle Earth that I have had to leave unexplored." The song ended. "Will you join me for a breath of fresh air?" he asked. She nodded and he took her hand to lead her out onto the balcony. Fire jumped from his palm to hers and spread throughout her body. God, he was hot. She'd love for him to take her right now, right here against the railing...oh great, now she was turning into a slut. Why not? She grinned. It had been such a long time. She and her husband had stopped having sex months before the divorce, which was over a year ago. Why not live a little?

***************************************************************

"Your scent is strange. I cannot place it, though it seems so familiar. You are not of the Dunedain. You are not an elf. You are certainly not a hobbit. Please...I must know who you are. Never before have my senses failed me in such a way."

"You'll find out soon enough," she replied with a secret smile. They didn't spend a moment apart the entire night. They discussed weapons, armor, battle techniques, life, and the journey Legolas was about to take...Lisa didn't tell him she would be on that trip too. Legolas talked a lot about his past and his life in Mirkwood, which only reminded Lisa of all that she knew about him. Their talk was easy, natural. Not an awkward moment or uncomfortable silence passed between them. They found they had many things in common. They also found that there was already an attraction between them - a connection that felt older than the universe, as if their souls had met many lifetimes ago and had just found each other again.


Faramir plucked a rose of palest blue from a bush overhanging the balcony. "My lady, do you know what this is?" he asked, opening her palm and placing the flower gently in it.

"A rose?" she ventured.

"Not just any rose. The rose of Tinuviel. The rarest and most beautiful of all flowers...just as you are..." he finished quietly.

"Thank you." she murmured, feeling a blush heat her skin. Who needed Hot Guy #1?

"Your lips look so soft and sweet, Karen." he said her name slowly, as if savoring the unique flavor of it. She reached up, put her arms around his neck, and pulled him to her. The first kiss was hesitant. He was so shy, so gentle. She wondered how he'd had the nerve to even ask her (or anyone else for that matter) to dance. "May I see you again tomorrow?" he asked as he walked her to her door.

"I'd like that very much." she answered, and this time, let HIM kiss HER. And even though she'd just met him, she knew that if he asked her, right now, to sleep with him, she would be all over him like white on rice. But no. Ever the gentleman, he turned and left. And she went inside, more than a little disappointed.

*********************************************************

"Let's go for a stroll, Legolas,” The Phoenix suggested, taking his arm. They climbed the hill behind Elrond's house. At the top, they found a gazebo and went inside to sit and admire the view. Just then the bell sounded that it was midnight. Time for everyone to remove their masks. Legolas reached up and gently took off the Phoenix's. He looked deeply into her eyes of summer as she relieved him of his mask.

"It is so strange. You would think I would remember those eyes. Your spirit is so old...please tell me now how we know each other."

"Are you sure you don't remember?"

"I'm sorry. I wish I did. I do not understand how my memory of you could be lost."

"You mean you rescue a lot of girls from avalanches?" she teased.

"No," he said, straight-faced, obviously not getting the joke. "Aragorn and I rescued two about a week ago - wait, how did you know?" He paused, searching her face. She remained silent. Anything to prolong such intense attention from him. Finally the light of recognition filled his face. "Lisa? But you were..."

"Yes, I know. Gandalf says we come out the other side of the portal as our true selves. What do you think?" she twisted, causing the phoenix feathers to float around her ankles.

"That you're beautiful. That you always were beautiful. But now I can see you believe it yourself, and that fills my heart with joy." She stopped twirling and he stepped in to kiss her before she could protest, which she had no intention of doing. Something clicked in her heart. Her old life fell away and there was only this moment. Like the phoenix she loved so much, she rose from the ashes of her former self and was reborn into Legolas's arms. She knew now that she would never go back. This was where she belonged. She was home. The kiss seemed to last as long as it took for the earth to revolve around the sun, the moon and stars to grow cold and die, then shine anew. Whole races became extinct and rose up again. It was a kiss to be shared only by two destined to be together for all eternity. When they finally broke apart, Lisa lost herself in Legolas's ageless elven eyes, realizing that she was already completely in love with him. She also saw, with all the joy her heart could hold, that he was in love with her. It was near one in the morning when Legolas finally left Lisa at her door with a brief kiss that promised so much more to come. She floated inside and began undressing to ready herself for bed. Karen was already asleep. Liquid silver moonlight beamed in through the open windows and Lisa stopped to examine her naked body in its soft rays. Her limbs were long and lean, taut and smooth. Not a blemish marked her golden skin...not a scar - she ran her hands over her flat belly, then around her perfect breasts, looking for the scars and stretch marks she had once borne. They were gone...all gone. Tears sprang to her eyes. She’d thought she would have to live with those for the rest of her life. She pulled her shift on and went to gently shake Karen awake.

"Hmm?"

"Please wake up!" Karen immediately sat up, thinking there was some emergency. Lisa was smiling radiantly.

Oh. Karen thought. She hooked up with Hot Elf #1. "What's up?" she asked aloud.

"Karen - my scars - they're all gone! My tattoos too...I'm a blank canvas. Think they do tats here?” She asked as she lifted her gown to show her friend. Karen gasped, then had to get up and check her own body. All her stretch marks had disappeared too. And something she hadn't noticed before...her breasts were perky instead of saggy. She no longer had to be ashamed of them. She'd always thought they were like an old woman's, but now...Karen turned from side to side, admiring everything. Then she stopped dead. There was one thing she hadn't looked at yet...she almost didn't want to...it had been such a part of her for so long...it was one of the things that made her unique...she stepped close to the mirror and smiled. Her teeth were blindingly white. Perfect. Except for one thing -she still had her snaggle-tooth. Her grin widened. They really were their true selves now! They finally settled down enough to sleep, but were up early. Neither had eaten last night. First they were too busy getting ready, then they were too excited, then they were too busy with Legolas and Faramir. They didn't bother even brushing their hair or getting dressed; they figured after the party last night most everyone would be sleeping in. So when Lisa yanked open the door, giggling at something Karen had said, she sure as hell didn't expect to see Legolas sitting on a bench across the hall from her door, calmly reading a book. And she REALLY didn't plan on finding Faramir just a few feet down the hall, staring out the window, obviously waiting for Karen to emerge. Lisa squeaked and slammed the door shut.

***************************************************

Legolas and Faramir both looked up when they heard the door open. Lisa took one look at them, squeaked, "Oh shit!" and slammed the door shut. Through the closed door, the men heard frenzied murmuring, and things being thrown around, but could not make out what was being said. Soon, though, they began to hear snippets as Lisa's raised voice came to them through the open windows. They heard things like "squirrels' nest" and "bed hair" and "furry teeth," which they didn't understand, but what made them burst out laughing was when they heard, loud and clear, "Who the hell does that elf think he is, looking bloody perfect at 5 fucking 30 in the morning!" and then the door opened. Lisa was standing there in an outfit similar to Legolas's but for the colors: a soft rose-pink tunic, fawn-colored breeches and soft leather boots. Her glorious hair hung around her in a golden cloud. Legolas couldn't help thinking she looked damn sexy in clothes more suited to a man. Karen followed Lisa out the door wearing a dark blue blouse tucked into a light blue skirt, and blue ballet slippers on her feet. Her hair was in a loose ponytail at the nape of her neck and she had put the rose behind her ear.

Faramir smiled. "Good morning, my lady. I hope we are not too early? I could not wait to see you again."

"No, that's fine!" Karen said, a little too cheerily. Her face was still flushed from rushing around to find something to wear. She quickly closed the door so Legolas and Faramir couldn’t see the clothes the girls had thrown EVERYWHERE in their haste to make themselves presentable. They all enjoyed an early breakfast out on the balcony leading off the dining hall, with that spectacular view of Rivendell as a backdrop. Their talk was easy and inconsequential. Soon after they had finished, Lisa decided she needed some alone time with Hot Elf #1, and could see that Karen was ready for the same with Faramir. Animal heat emanated from all four companions. It was obvious what all had on their minds. So no one protested when Lisa suggested to Legolas that he show her the practice field. They went happily off, leaving Karen and Faramir to finish the last of their tea.

"You said you liked to read, my lady -"

"Please, you don't have to be so formal." Karen was still trying to get used to all this, and she just felt...weird when he called her "lady"...she was NO lady!

He looked crushed. "My apologies." He was silent then. She had really hurt his feelings.

"I'm sorry, Faramir. But where I come from we are much more relaxed in relationships between men and women. We just call each other by our given names. Would you do me the honor of just calling me Karen?" She smiled at him.

"I understand, now. I would like very much to call you Karen."

"Thank you. Now, to answer your question, yes, I love to read. Back home I usually have a book in my hand before I even roll out of bed."

"I was wondering if you would care to see the Great Library of Rivendell. It's quite famous."

"That would be wonderful," she replied, her eyes shining.



Aragorn strode purposefully down the hall, his mind wandering far and wide as his feet took him automatically to his favorite place in Rivendell. He had gone to Lisa and Karen's room to escort them to the Council, which was to start in an hour, but they were not there. He'd asked around, and had been told that Karen was seen going into the library. As he entered, he heard giggling away at the back of the room, and was slightly aggravated. Did no one respect the power of the written word anymore? It seemed all this place was ever used for now was as a trysting spot for young elven men and women to sow their wild oats among the privacy of the stacks. He made to leave, but heard someone say "Karen," and turned back. There was only one Karen. Striding down the center aisle, he looked left and right, searching for the stranger, and whomever she was with. He also kept an eye out for the giggler, for he did not make the connection that it could be her...she had just arrived, she didn't know anyone here...with these thoughts in mind, he reached the last row and found Faramir with a very pretty maiden, huddled close together near the window. They looked up guiltily when they heard his footstep. "Forgive me. I was looking for the Lady Karen." he said, preparing to back away.

Faramir's face clouded in puzzlement. "This is the Lady Karen."

"Oh. Forgive me," he said again. "I did not realize..." His face showed the shock he was too gentlemanly to convey with words.

"Surprise!" Karen said, trying to lighten the mood. "Seems like this is a little side-effect Gandalf forgot to mention. He said something about being who we're meant to be or something. But, hey, I guess I look okay, so I'm not complaining."

Aragorn didn't know what to say, so he merely nodded his head. "The Council is to start soon. Where is your friend? We should find her as well."

"Oh, ever since she and Legolas were together at the ball last night, you couldn't get a piece of paper between them. They've gone to the practice field."

"The Phoenix last night? That was Lisa?"

"Yes, the travel through the portal did the same to her as it did to me, only a lot better."

"So...you're...you were the butterfly?" His voice held astonishment, but something else as well. If Karen didn’t know better, she’d have thought it was regret.

"Yep. Original, huh? But Faramir seemed to like it." She looked over at the man in question. He quickly turned his face, seemingly engrossed in the scene outside the window. But it wasn't fast enough for Karen to miss the intense jealousy that passed briefly over his handsome features. She knew she had no hope with Aragorn, so she felt no compunctions about taking Faramir's arm in front of the ranger.

A pained expression crossed his rugged features; a battle waging just beneath the skin. But Karen, being so inexperienced with men, didn't equate it with jealousy. Perhaps it was just the stress of the upcoming journey and having to leave Arwen behind. "Faramir, do you know the way to the Council chamber?" she asked, to spare Aragorn having to be in her company any longer. He'd made it perfectly clear last night that he couldn’t stand to be around her.

"Well, no, actually. I am afraid I must take my leave of you. I have some messages to send back home, then I must get my armor repaired...but I would love to have dinner with you this evening."

"I'd like that." A faint tinkling distracted her for a moment, but was soon forgotten.

"I will find you. It is nearly time, Aragorn. Are you well?"

Aragorn shook himself out of his reverie. "Yes, quite. Lady? Shall we go?" Somehow, Karen didn't mind when Aragorn called her lady. NO. That door was closed, padlocked, boarded over, and bricked up. She lightly kissed Faramir's cheek and followed Aragorn, who was already halfway to the door. Faramir had seen something fall from Aragorn's neck right after that tinkling sound. He bent to pick up the tiny object. It was a stone from the Evenstar. What could have caused something made by Elven jewelers - especially a jewel made for Elrond's daughter - to break? He made his way to the courier's office, lost in thought. He had a feeling there was more going on between Aragorn and Karen than either would admit - to themselves, or to anyone else. That would be just his luck. To find someone beautiful, exotic (well, exotic for Middle Earth, anyway), and intelligent, and not be able to have her.

**********************************************************

Meanwhile, Lisa and Legolas had been having their first sparring match.

Lisa stood there, red-faced and panting. That damn bloody elf hadn't even broken a fucking sweat! He was all calm, cool, and gorgeous, while she looked a right mess. She wanted him so bad, she could have fucked him right there in the middle of the field. She shook her head. That's when she noticed the bleachers that spectators used when there was a serious match going on. The space underneath was nice and dark; perfect for...a secret tryst...hmmm...she grabbed Legolas and pulled him to her. He smiled and kissed her, delving into her mouth with his tongue. Electric eels slithered down her spine. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed back, her passion becoming more and more evident. She grabbed the collar of his tunic and pulled him under the bleachers. They resumed their kissing, then Legolas trailed his lips along Lisa's jaw line. Goosebumps covered the hot flesh there, and she nearly came on the spot when he ran his tongue over them. She couldn't get enough of him. Her hands were all over his body, searching, exploring. She wanted to memorize him, so that she could make love to him all over again in her fantasies, in her dreams. Just when her hand found the laces that held his stiffening cock captive, he pulled away. "No," he said gently. "Not here. Not like this. We haven't the time. The Council will be convening soon, and I want time to explore every inch of you."

She said nothing, just tried to slow down her breathing. She loved that he wanted it to be special, but he really had no idea how long she had waited for him, lusted for him, been in love with him. She was ready NOW. She was sure she could convince him, and leaned in to do so when she heard "Lisa?" from out on the field. FUCK. She loved Karen, but that girl had the worst damn timing. She thought about not answering, but Legolas was already emerging from under the bleachers. She quickly pulled herself together -how did the elf do it? He had been almost hard! That took some serious control...- and went out to join Karen and Aragorn.

"Damn buzz kill," Lisa muttered in Karen's ear. Karen snorted laughter and rolled her eyes. The four of them walked back to the main building, where Elrond lived, and where all the important meetings were held. Gandalf beckoned to them as the sound of a bell ringing came from everywhere and nowhere.

"My lady," Aragorn solicitously took Karen's elbow. He was looking at her with a small, unfathomable smile on his face. Lisa cocked her head, squinting her eyes thoughtfully. But there was too much else to focus on to worry about her friend's possibly burgeoning multiple love life. She glanced around the large, open terrace as they entered. Bilbo, Gandalf, the hobbits, Glorfindel, Gloin and his son Gimli, Erestor - chief counselor of Elrond's house, and Galdor - from the Gray Havens, were all seated around the perimeter of the space. There were four seats open, which Aragorn and Legolas led Karen and Lisa to. The two friends sat next to each other with the men at their sides.

"Welcome," Elrond nodded to the assembled gathering. He turned toward Lisa and Karen. "We have brought you here because we believe you will be key players in the saving of our world.”

"That's absurd!" Borormir shot up from his seat as if someone had set off a bomb beneath him. Elrond's calm, cool gray eyes slowly fixed their intense gaze on Boromir, who turned red and abruptly sat back down. "Forgive me. I simply do not see what two mere women can do against the Dark Lord and all his forces," he muttered. It was a clumsy, obviously perfunctory apology.

“I’m confused. How do you think we can help? We’re just …I mean, we don’t have magic or anything…and I hardly think you needed to go all the way to another world to find an extra person to wield a sword – although Lisa would be excellent in that capacity.” Karen, who blushed at the drop of a hat, turned bright scarlet and sat down, wishing she’d not spoken up. Now all eyes were on her, and she wasn’t used to that. She was accustomed to people’s gazes sliding over her as if she didn’t exist, rather than acknowledge her and her bulk. She and Lisa had been discussing their purpose here ever since they arrived, but had never come to any conclusions, or been able to pin anyone else down for more information.

"A fortnight ago, a vision came to me. But there were too many confusing, disjointed scenes from your world to interpret it properly. Fortunately, Gandalf was visiting. He was able to enlighten me, as he'd been there once before." Elrond turned to his old friend and nodded.

Gandalf rose, an errant breeze tugging playfully at his long white whiskers. "He saw two ladies sitting in a field, having a picnic. Suddenly, they stopped and turned, as if attacked. The golden-haired lady rose and quickly made a tree branch into a weapon. The one with the hair of fire soon had a ball of energy crackling from her fingertips. A dark shadow seemed to cover everything in a false twilight. There was a blood red smudge in the center of it, like an eye. It searched the field, but passed over the two women, as if it could not see them." Lisa looked like she was ready to leave on the quest right now if they asked her. Karen looked a bit green, as if she hoped they would forget she was even there.

Elrond rose again, "We have discussed this vision, examining it for every possible meaning. We still do not know why it has to be the two of you, but something about the powers and skills you possess may well be instrumental in aiding our defeat of Sauron. His searching eye could not seem to find you. We need to use that to our advantage."

"When do we leave?" Lisa was stoked. "I'm ready to kick some orc ass!" Legolas and Aragorn uncharacteristically burst out laughing.

Gimli chuckled. "Are you sure you are not an unusually tall dwarf?"

Lisa bowed slightly before sitting back down and replied, "We can discuss my ancestry later, over a flagon of mead."

"Excuse me," Karen almost raised her hand, as if she were in school. "Um, Lisa may be all gung-ho to go adventuring and defacing orc anatomy - I fully believe she's capable of being a warrior, and would fit right in with your party, but I'd just hold you back. I have no skills in weaponry. I barely know which end of a sword to hold," Lisa snickered. Karen elbowed her and turned bright red, but continued, "You need to take someone who will be an asset, who can fight. Just send me back. I don't want to be in the way."

“Leave her!” Boromir spoke up as he sprang out of his seat again. “Women are nothing but bad luck, and a hindrance besides. We have not the time to keep stopping for…female…things…” He seemed not to be able to explain what these female ‘things’ might entail, so his voice trailed off. Lisa rose, shooting daggers at him, but before she could come up with an answering insult, or possibly deck him, Legolas and Karen grabbed her arms and pulled her back down. Aragorn rose and laid a calming hand on the burly man’s arm.

“Borormir, we must have patience. If Gandalf and Elrond believe them important enough to use big magic to pull them both from another world, we must trust their judgment. Besides, I sense hidden strength in Karen. She will soon prove herself. I am sure of it.”

Karen looked up at Aragorn with a look of utter disbelief and hero worship on her face. She couldn’t believe what he’d just said about her! Borormir sat back down, but it was evident he was still not convinced. “I will leave the decision to the Council, and abide by it.” He said grudgingly. Aragorn returned to his seat.

Lisa stood up, her arms finally having been released, hands on her hips, towering over her friend, “Karen, I’m getting tired of this routine. You’re going. And if you don't stop putting yourself down, I'm going to kick YOUR ass." Everyone at the council silently watched the two now glaring at each other.

Karen stood defiantly, refusing to back down from her friend’s forceful gaze even though the top of her head barely reached Lisa’s chin. "Nuh uh!" she retorted.

“Uh huh!”

“Nuh uh!”

“Uh huh!”

Every head moved back and forth from Lisa to Karen, as if watching a tennis match. Identical puzzled, doubtful looks adorned all their faces. What were they getting themselves into here? These were the people to save Middle Earth?

“Fine!” Karen finally shouted, then muttered "stupid poo-poo head." Lisa slapped a hand over her mouth. She couldn't believe Karen had just called her that in the middle of the council hall, in front of all these dignified, important people. In front of ELROND. Unfortunately, even though Karen had said it quietly, she sort of forgot about the elves' keen sense of hearing. Elrond cocked his head, a quizzical look painting his sharp features.

"Forgive me, but what exactly is a poo-poo-head?" His formal speech and refined tone made the phrase sound almost poetic.

Karen turned scarlet, as did Lisa. They looked at each other. How exactly would they explain this one without sounding like utter morons?

"Shit..well..um..." Lisa stuttered. She'd just said "shit!" Would they want that explained too?

"Well, in our world, we tease each other with insults," Karen tried to explain, since she was the one who had said it. “They don't mean anything, and we're never sure exactly who was the first person to put that particular combination of words together, but...literally translated, it means..." she snickered, trying not to burst out laughing, “excrement head.” Lisa just completely lost it and collapsed into her chair, beating her forehead against Legolas's shoulder. Again, the Council looked on silently at these strange girls from another realm and their even stranger actions.

"And you want us to take these two with us!" Boromir said triumphantly, as if his earlier point had just been proven. The other members of the Council began murmuring to each other, perhaps discussing the wisdom of actually trusting the future of Middle Earth to these bizarre, giggling creatures. But Legolas and Aragorn soon had them all glared into silence.

Elrond waited until it was quiet again. “Yes, Boromir. I want these two along on the journey. There is strength in their hearts and courage in their bones, despite appearances at the moment. I believe perhaps the stress of the last few days may be getting to them, but I have spoken to them both, and they are wise beyond their years. In fact, they are much older in their world than they appear here. They are not mere girls, but women warriors. I must ask you all to treat them with dignity and respect." Heads bowed; the members of the council were properly chastised. Karen and Lisa finally calmed down themselves, contrite, but still giggling a bit inside, which showed on their faces. Legolas wore an amused expression; Aragorn, one tinged with regret and a little pain. Lisa glanced over at him, noticing the necklace he wore, and that there was a stone missing. Interesting. Wasn't that jewel made by elves? Their craftsmanship should have been better than that. When things had settled a bit, they discussed more seriously exactly what would be involved in this journey. The dangers, the hardships, the sacrifices that would have to be made. Karen grew more nervous, but Lisa was practically bouncing in her seat. Elrond observed their behaviors, and after an hour, finally called a halt.

“I understand you’ve already agreed, but perhaps you should have the evening to think it over and talk things out.” He was specifically addressing Lisa and Karen. “You must do what you feel is best for yourselves, but I must tell you that my vision included both of you, and I am afraid this mission will fail if either of you decides not to go.”

“No pressure there,” Karen muttered.

Elrond heard the comment, but chose to ignore it. “You can be fitted for traveling clothes and get something to eat. We will meet back here at 10:00 tomorrow morning.”

The group rose to go their separate ways. Legolas walked beside Lisa as she and Karen headed to the elven version of a quartermaster. “Lisa, would you join me for dinner? There is a bridge called Iaur Lantaraana. Right behind it is the Brilthor Annun – the most beautiful and the highest waterfall in Rivendell. Will you meet me there at twilight?”

“Of course.” She smiled, touching his arm. “I can’t wait.”

“Nor can I. Cormamin niuve tenna’ ta elea lle au’.”

He kissed her gently, but with the promise of more to come, then regretfully started down a different hallway. Lisa looked up and saw that although Karen had gone ahead to give her and the elf some privacy, she had watched the entire conversation and was grinning like an idiot. Lisa stuck her tongue out. Karen returned the favor. Legolas, who had turned back for one last look at Lisa, witnessed this strange custom. He had to know what it meant. He came back to where he had left her.

“Why do you do that with your tongue? What purpose does it serve?”

“Oh, my tongue serves many purposes,” Lisa said, running said tongue over her top lip, hoping for a reaction. She so wanted to attack him right here in the corridor. She saw an answering flicker of fire in his ice blue eyes.

“Perhaps it’s a private joke?” he inquired dryly.

“Not so private. I’ll be glad to share it with you later.”

He grinned, kissed her again, and took his leave of her. Gimli, who had just come upon them, rushed to catch up with Legolas’s long strides, as he was already halfway along the corridor. “Legolas, a moment, please!” he called. “Those two are quite…spirited, are they not?” the dwarf said as he finally came alongside the elf.

“Yes,” Legolas answered noncommittally, smiling slightly as he deliberately took longer strides so that Gimli nearly had to jog to keep up.

“You seem taken with the tall one.” Gimli seemed to by trying to get a rise out of the mysterious Prince of Mirkwood. “I wonder if she’s as skilled as they say she is.”

“I hope to find out.”

“Seems a bit strange, though.”

“What?” Legolas couldn’t help himself. What was the dwarf blathering on about?

“That an elf should fall for a human. That would be like a dwarf falling for an elf!” Gimli chuckled. “Well, good luck with that! I am sure your father will be thrilled!” Legolas stopped short, mouth open, unable to think of a good retort, as the dwarf guffawed his way back to the dining hall.


“Hey, Lis, can I ask you a favor?” Karen asked quietly as they allowed themselves to be poked and prodded and measured up the wazoo.

“Of course.” Lisa was a bit surprised at Karen’s sudden shyness with her. This must be big.

“Can you teach me how to use a sword? I don’t want to be just some helpless female on this trip. I want to prove Boromir wrong. And when or if we ever get home, I want to remember that I at least held my own. I still think this is all your story, but…I want to have a good part in it too.”

“No problem. I just wish you could see how special you really are. I think you will, though. And when you’re ready, honey, you’re gonna shine.” They finished their fittings and were told their clothes would be waiting for them back in their rooms. Gotta love elven magic.


Karen wandered down to the dining hall in the new blue dress the elves had made for her as a surprise. Aragorn looked up from the chess game he was playing with Boromir. His heart skipped a beat. There was something so vulnerable and innocent about her, so that he felt an overwhelming desire to protect her from the evils of this world. Arwen evoked no such feeling. She could take care of herself. That was what had originally attracted him to her. He watched as Karen wandered out to the balcony. Where was she going? He rose to follow her. When he reached the archway that led outside, he stopped before stepping through. She was leaning against the railing. She seemed to glow, and for a brief moment, the sight of her filled him with an inexpressible longing…then he felt the familiar burning beneath the jewel he wore around his neck. A light began to shine out from it, so bright that he had to shield his eyes. But no one else seemed to notice. Then he turned back and rejoined Boromir by the fire, studying the chess board as if he’d never left.

Karen was waiting for Faramir. He’d said he wanted to dine with her, and that he would find her. He must know that the council was over for the day, so she figured the best place to meet him would be here. She’d gone out to the balcony, because that’s where they had their most intimate moments last night, and she wanted to replay them until he came to her.

She did not have long to wait. Someone tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around, and there he was. All tall and blond and rugged and yummy. He was carrying a picnic basket.

“I am so glad to see you. I could not stop thinking of you all day.” He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.

“Nor I you. What have you got there?”

“I thought we could find a private spot and have dinner under the stars.”

“That sounds wonderful.” She hooked her arm through his, feeling the muscles under the loose tunic he wore. OOOOHHHHH…she couldn’t wait to have him for dessert.


Lisa checked her dress once more, the pale pink fabric shot through with silver. It glimmered every time she moved, and she smiled to herself, hoping Legolas would like it. With soft slippers on her feet, and her hair brushed out, golden and gleaming, she hurried to meet her Elven prince. She had to stop for a moment and take a deep breath. She was going to meet LEGOLAS and have a quiet, romantic dinner…her face radiant; she could barely contain her joy. No matter what else happened while she was here, she would have this moment.

Aliniel had told her the English names for the bridge and waterfall where Legolas had asked her to meet him. ‘Bridge of the Setting Moon,’ and ‘Sunset Falls.’ Lisa found Legolas there, waiting for her. There was a table at the far end of the bridge, just beneath an overhanging tree. You could see the waterfall through the leaves and the gentle rush of the water was a soothing, sweet background music.

“That color suits you. You look…enchanting.” He reached out and twined his finger around a long curl. “It’s like liquid sunshine.” He reluctantly turned away and pulled out her chair. The table was spread with breads, fruits and cheeses, and a pitcher of cool, clear refreshing drink that was a specialty of the Elves of Rivendell.

“Elen sila lumen omentilmo.” Lisa said, meeting Legolas’s eyebrow with a mischievous grin.

“That was perfect.” He smiled and sat down. He didn’t seem surprised that she had learned something in his language so quickly. He poured some of the drink into a crystal goblet, then filled her plate with the choicest bits of fruit and cheese. Neither said anything, but there was a tension building, a longing that was almost tangible. And if it didn’t find a release soon, things were going to blow sky high.

“Legolas-“

“Lisa-" They stopped and smiled at each other. Looking deeply into each other’s eyes, they could see there what had not been said. Legolas stood and took Lisa’s hand. She rose and followed him to the nearby tree. There was a blanket spread out, and they sat down on it, with the stream rushing along next to them, whispering its secrets to the wind.

“I’ve wanted you from the moment I saw you, sitting by the fire in that cabin. You looked up, and smiled, the smile I had seen so many times in my dreams. I could see your soul. It drew me to you like a moth to a flame. I knew I had finally found the one person who could complete me. I did not care the reason we were there. I was going to bring you back with me, no matter what.” He reached out and caught one of her tears on his fingertip, then brought it to his lips and tasted it. “Sweeter than honey are the tears of my Elentari, my Star Queen.” He murmured, then reached out again and pulled her to him.

He kissed her tenderly, delicately, as if she were fragile and would break if handled too roughly. There was passion in the kiss, but also deep love that knew no bounds, no time. A breeze blew up around them with a great, contented sigh. Lisa’s hair was lifted on that breeze and wrapped around both of them, drawing them even closer together.

Gently breaking the kiss, Legolas said, “Close your eyes. Clear your mind. Breathe deeply.” He was inside her, taking over her mind and heart, bringing her to a place that didn’t exist on any map of Middle Earth. “Let yourself float up into the stars. Follow my voice. Find me, my love.” His voice was low and rhythmic, hypnotic and erotic. She opened her mind’s eye, and she was surrounded by the most luminescent stars, spread across the velvety black sky. She willed herself to move forward, and she flowed smoothly through space and time, keeping his voice in her heart, letting it lead her where it would. Soon, the air around her became lighter. She began to see shapes. She was coming to rest in a meadow of the most beautiful green grass, surrounded by lush, full elms and oaks – ancient trees that seemed to stand watch over this magical place. Legolas’s voice continued to call her to him, caressing her body as would a pair of hands – slowly and tenderly.

She shivered from nearly unimaginable pleasure. Goosebumps chased each other all over her body. She floated gently down into the meadow, the gentle breeze pillowing her, until she came to rest in a bed of flowers that were the most beautiful, sensuous color pink – a color that did not exist in nature, only here.

Legolas was beside her before she even thought to wonder where he was. “This place is called “Lon’dolen – Hidden Haven. No human has ever been here. It is sacred to the woodland elves. We only share it with our ‘Soul-Bonds.’”

Lisa found herself naked, the warm wind playing with her hair, skating across her skin. The elf’s cool blue gaze swept over her body, savoring every inch of her, stoking the fire building inside her.

“My Warrior Queen. I have never met a human like you. You are more like an elf – strong, independent, mysterious. There are so many layers, I can’t see or sense them all. Every time I look into your eyes, I sink deeper and discover yet another level.”

Lisa reached up and touched his face. There were so many things she wanted to say. She wanted to thank him for bringing her here. She wanted to tell him how incredible it was…but she didn’t want to waste time with talk, so she simply slid her fingers around his neck and pulled him down to meet her kiss.

His tongue teased her lips, sweeter than Lothlorien’s summer strawberries. At first he was tentative, and tender. But Lisa had waited long enough to get hold of her elf – there would be time for romance later. Right now, she just wanted explosions and fireworks.

He laughed as she pushed him back, then straddled him, her hand sliding down and deftly unlacing his breeches and immediately encountering his rapidly stiffening member. Hmm… she thought briefly, it’s true what they say about big hands…

He caressed her arms, but otherwise remained still, fascinated with her boldness. Elven women were not so forward. “H helta ar caita caimanna.” She murmured into his pointed ear.

Legolas was too caught up in the moment to realize Lisa had just spoken to him in his own tongue – again. He pulled his tunic over his head while she yanked off his breeches. His long, lean, tanned body was perfect – magnificent. She almost came just looking at it, and imagining the things they would do together. She leaned down again, nipping at his earlobe and stroking his cock to full hardness.

Just before he was sure even he (elves can usually control the moment of climax) couldn’t hold back any longer, he felt her velvet heat welcoming him. He didn’t even need to move. Lisa was doing all the work. She slid up and down his throbbing shaft; her head thrown back. The line of her jaw was somehow the most erotic thing he’d ever seen. As she rode him, he reached up to tease her hardened nipples. She covered his hands with hers.

Finally, he could no longer just be a bystander. He rolled her over with an easy grace, never losing contact. Covering her body with his, each curve and groove fit together perfectly. Their eyes locked and stayed that way until Lisa began to see gold and silver orbs spinning in a nebulous cloud, surrounding them.

The wind in this haven picked up, shaking the leaves of the trees, like a thousand tiny bells. Faster and faster, they moved together, the orbs picking up their rhythm, until they reached a crescendo. Legolas gasped, burying his face in Lisa’s shoulder. She clung to him, as if he would fly away. Her arms and legs pulled him closer still and she let go of everything else. Nothing else in the universe existed but the two of them. And it seemed to go on and on to the end of the world and back.

When Lisa finally was able to unclench her body and fall back, she felt as if she’d just run a marathon. And he was still hard inside her! He moved slightly. “No! Please, I couldn’t take it again right this second. I need a breather.”

He chuckled. “Who knew humans had so little stamina?”

She raised an eyebrow. “Is that a challenge?” She didn’t wait for a reply, just flipped him back over and got ready for round two; their laughter echoing into the starry night.


Afterwards, they lay in each other’s arms and slowly faded back into the real world, to their blanket under the willow in Rivendell. “Le meleth, my Elentari. Le no an-uin nin?”

Without even thinking about it, Lisa replied, “Lin ind nin. Le meleth, Legolas. Always.”

“Lisa – how did you –“

“What?” Like Harry Potter, she had no idea she’d spoken a different language.

Legolas decided to leave it be. Whatever was going on was something she was going to have to come to in her own time. “Nothing. Are you hungry, my love?”

“Starving!”

They returned to the waterfall, then went back to the main house, holding hands through corridors gleaming an ethereal white in the moonlight. When they reached the great hall, they discovered most of the population and all of the visitors gathered there. Lisa saw Karen, who had just said goodnight to Faramir, and was GLOWING. Lisa knew that glow. “I’ll be right back.”

Lisa went to Karen, while Legolas joined the group by the fire – Gimli and Boromir were playing chess tonight, while Aragon stood with his elbow propped on the mantle above the fireplace, smoking his long pipe, and surreptitiously stealing glances at Karen.

Lisa put her arm through Karen’s and steered her toward a quiet corner of the hall. “Oh. My. God, Kar…I’ve just had the most incredible experience! We went to another plane of existence – a hidden haven sacred to the elves. I can’t believe he shared that with me. And we made love – twice! And Kar – he said he loved me! And I think you had a little fun yourself, didn’t you?”

Karen grinned, then they started jumping up and down, turning and bumping their hips, wiggling their butts and singing “two pigs fighting in a blanket, two pigs fighting in a blanket…” It was their private celebration dance…that was so not private anymore.

The entire hall had fallen silent except for the two friends’ singing. Then there was good-natured laughter. The girls stopped and looked up. They had apparently become the night’s entertainment. Gimli, Legolas and Boromir were still a bit stunned – had they taken leave of their senses?

“Humans. I’ll never understand them.” Gimli grunted, then turned back to the game, which he discovered he was losing. Karen and Lisa turned bright red and ran, giggling, all the way back to their room. AAanndd…scene.


Karen opened the door early the next morning. She and Lisa were on their way to get some breakfast and ready themselves for the final Council meeting. They had learned their lesson about leaving their room without making themselves presentable, but it was still a surprise to find Legolas in his “usual” spot across from their door, reading a book, as if he never slept, merely waited for his next glimpse of his beloved. The only difference this morning was that Faramir was not there. After he and Karen had joined the night before, he had apologized and said that he had to return home immediately. He had not meant it to be a one night stand, but…sometimes these things just happened. Karen was secretly glad. She liked Faramir, but he was just too damned sensitive for her. She wanted a strong man, who would take care of her and protect her, and…manhandle her once in a while – keep her in line. It was nice, though, for what it was.

“Good morning, Legolas.” Karen said a little too loudly, so that Lisa, who was still inside, could make doubly sure she looked decent.

“Good morning, Karen. Sleep well?”

“Yes, after I got over making a fool of myself, thank you.”

Legolas smiled. “You are never a fool, my lady. Perhaps a bit…impetuous, but that may yet be an asset. Do not be so hard on yourself.” Then the elf looked up and his whole face radiated happiness and love. Karen sighed. He must have just seen Lisa. How she wished a man would look at her with that same intense affection. Someday, maybe…

They walked to the hall together. Aragorn, Gimli, Boromir, Gandalf, and the hobbits were already there. Easy conversation flowed as they munched on eggs, oatmeal, and toast. Karen couldn’t stop smiling as she looked up at Legolas and Lisa. They were so perfect together. Like matching book ends. She just wished she could do something to take away the strain that had etched itself into Aragorn’s rugged features. She really didn’t understand why someone with Arwen’s capabilities would sit back and do nothing while everyone else was fighting for the freedom of Middle Earth. Furthermore, how could Aragorn be in love with someone like that?


At the Council, Lisa and Karen announced that they would do whatever they could to help, and preparations were made for the Fellowship to leave that evening. Their packs were filled with the wonderful Elvish mixture that boosted one’s energy better and quicker than a straight shot of caffeine. Of course, Lembas was carefully stowed away, as well as bedrolls and other personal items. Elrond made the friends gifts of knives in sheaths etched with elven runes of protection, which they could attach to their belts, and swords and shields in proportion to their sizes, from his armory. Legolas gave Lisa his spare bow, quiver, and some arrows, promising to teach her how to make her own arrows later.

By dusk that cold Christmas day, they were ready to depart. They said goodbye to all their wonderful elven friends, hoping they would see Rivendell once more, but more than a little afraid that they would not.

Just before they departed, Karen pulled Lisa aside. “I wanted to tell you Merry Christmas, and give you this.” She handed Lisa a small velvet bag. Inside was a highly polished moonstone that glowed with a beautiful, secret inner light. “For luck, good fortune, and protection. I’m so glad we’re here together.”

“Thank you!” Lisa hugged her heart-sister. “I have something for you too.” She handed Karen a small rectangular package wrapped in dark blue velvet. It was small book of Bilbo’s stories. “I remembered how much you enjoyed listening to Bilbo’s tales so I asked him if he could write some down so I could give them to you. He really went beyond – but it turned out beautifully. He illustrated it too.”

“I love it! Thank you so much!” They hugged again.

“Why do you exchange gifts?” Gimli inquired.

“It’s a tradition on this same day every year.” They didn’t elaborate. It would be too hard to explain about the whole nativity idea on the verge of a possibly life-ending, definitely perilous, quest.
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