Actions

Work Header

Darkest Before the Dawn

Chapter Text

Summary: They craved the dawn but were granted dusk instead.

Pairings: Hmm, maybe! ;)

Timeline: “The Gift” BTVS, pre-Fellowship for LOTR

Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters. That’s the great Professor Tolkien and Mr. Whedon.


Mist surrounded her, effectively dampening her sense of sight. Hesitantly, Dawn fully extended her arm; blinking when the fog swallowed her hand. Apprehension settled into her gut and she pulled her arm back, pressing it tightly against her breasts.

“Hello?” Dawn called out in a tentative whisper.

Her voice was reflected by the thick fog before it was swallowed whole.

The mist felt good, strangely enough. It fell against her skin sweetly and the moisture was cool to the touch. Slowly, as if she couldn’t be sure of what was what anymore, Dawn pressed her fingers against her face and her body, smiling in relief that she was whole.

“Where am I?” she wondered out loud.

As if commanded, the fog began to roll back in waves. Revealed under a grey visage was a garden littered with trees, flowers, and strawberries. Everything here was natural except for an elegantly carved bench wrought from dark wood. It featured flowers and a word ‘Minuialwen’ – although Dawn did not understand what it meant, it was carved prettily enough.

A soft smile knit upon her face; for some reason the sight of this place made her happy. She was no longer afraid.

Her eyes took in a small cloud of fog collecting over the bench, swirling and warping, becoming denser, and finally becoming something much more than mere fog.

It was a man.

Although he was like no man she had ever witnessed before. Long black hair fell over his shoulders in waves, his jaw was angular but his features handsome, and the bench barely contained the length of his slim body. His clothes were peculiar and rather old-fashioned, a black tunic with rich gold threading and matching black leggings. But it was his eyes that captured her attention. They were so dark she believed them to be black, and the longer she looked into them the more she swore the darkness spread like the infinity of the galaxy and was peppered with bright stars.

“Soon you will be home,” he whispered to her in a low, gravelly voice.

Blinking, Dawn refocused her attention. “Home?” she inquired in surprise.

His thin lips tugged into a partial smile. “Home in Valinor.” The smile turned wistful. “We miss you, my Daughter.”

Dawn recoiled. This man was not Hank Summers. And…even if he was, Hank was not her father. Not really. She was just a blob of energy. “You’re not my father,” she informed him matter-of-factly.

The man remained impassive but the light in his eyes dimmed. “When they time comes, do not be afraid. It is in the tapestry of your mother, and in the plans of Eru Ilúvatar. You will rejoin us soon.”

Questions began to besiege her mind and Dawn opened her mouth to ask them, but the great mist rolled back, surrounding her, drowning her.

***

“Hey there kiddo. Wake up. We got a big day.”

The cheerful voice washed over Dawn’s eardrums like poison, and she glared up at Glory, the Hell Goddess.

Not wasting a moment, Glory yanked her upwards and began pulling her out of the room that Dawn had just fallen asleep in.

As Glory began transporting Dawn to the metallic tower that surely would be the place of her death and the end of the world, Dawn couldn’t help but wonder what her strange dream had been about…

***

Dawn wept openly as she fell to her knees, kneeling on the hard ground underneath Glory’s tower. They were all…no, not all, Dawn thought in anguish. But she, Spike, Giles, Xander, Willow, Tara, and Anya, were all there, staring at the ground in front of them.

Buffy’s last words flashed through her mind, like a looped record.

“Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I willalways love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles ... tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world ... is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.”

Warm arms enveloped her, and although Dawn did not want to be touched by anyone at the moment, she was too exhausted to move. So she let Willow and Tara huddle against her, hugging her, as each of them stared without speaking.

They were unable to take their eyes off of it; this empty patch of ground where Buffy’s body should have fallen…and each of them darkly wondered just which hellish place their sister, their friend, their lover, their slayer, had fallen into.

***

Bird calls streamed softly into her ears, dredging her mind from the darkness of unconsciousness. Something tickled her cheek and she brushed the softness away. Her eyes blinked open once, cringing at the bright sunlight that filtered through the canopy of elm trees and she quickly squeezed them closed. After a few moments she opened her eyes widely and discovered she was laying down in a grove of trees.

A loud yawn escaped her and Buffy shook her head slightly, forcing her sleepiness away.

She mused silently how beautiful this area was and wondered how she had gotten here. After all, Sunnydale didn’t have any pretty woods like this…

Alarm gripped her heart and Buffy leapt to her feet.

Glory! Dawn! The portal!

Adrenaline rushing, Buffy turned in every direction as her eyes raked across the landscape for sign of her friends – or her enemies. However, her eyes spied nothing but an endless vision of trees and no heartbeats but small animals sounded in her ears.

Agitated, Buffy began weaving in and out of the trees. Her body was tenser than a taut bow as she prepared herself to battle any more nasties that Glory sent after her – or Glory herself.

Actually, last time she saw Glory, Glory was Ben. So…maybe no more Glory?

That thought stopped Buffy in her tracks, her boots pushing deeply into the soft ground. If Glory was no more…then why was she here?

An image of Dawn sobbing in a tattered dress flashed through her mind, and longing squeezed her heart. Oh Dawn. Dawnie.

Now Buffy remembered. She had leapt through the portal intending to fall to her death and spill the necessary blood to close it, and now…now she was here.

“Am I in Heaven?” Buffy wondered softly.


A/N:

Since watching the trailer for The Hobbit I’ve been rewatching the Lord of the Rings and reading mostly only LOTR fanfic. This was the fandom that got me into fanfic 3 years ago (to the month! :) and I’ve been wanting to return to it.

This story is sketched out but I can’t promise quick updates, so don’t be cross with me. Full time job + part-time job + grad school applications + volunteer/life things = a crazy vida, ya feel me? :)

That being said, reviews are appreciated!

Chapter Text

Ted Nasmith's art of Tirion upon Tuna


If this was Heaven, it was definitely a ‘National Geographic’ style Heaven.

After a couple hours of wandering around the mysterious woods, Buffy couldn’t help but notice the lack of harps, angels, and puffy clouds. Truth be told, this area felt more ‘real’ than she would have expected. Soft breezes ruffled her long hair, the ground was soft beneath her feet, and her stomach rumbled with hunger.

Buffy’s lips pursed in annoyance. You’d think Heaven would have an Applebee’s or something…just where was she supposed to get something to eat around here?

Sighing, she sat down under an oak tree and leaned her tired back against its firm trunk. Maybe, she thought, this wasn’t Heaven after all. Maybe this was some wacky portal business…and if that was the case then she needed to get back home.

Gnawing hunger had her quickly moving again. She walked for a while before she found a bushel of red berries. Not quite trusting things that grew out of the ground, especially in a potentially evil portal-world, Buffy nonetheless ate a couple since she had no choice.

She found them to be quite tasty.

***

It was perhaps a week or so of living on berries, mushrooms, and fresh water from nearby streams, before Buffy glimpsed another living being.

He was crouched in the trees, amidst the towering branches, with a finely crafted bow in his hands. Long golden hair that reached his waist was pulled back into intricate braids. His clothing was old-fashioned, very Robin Hood-esque, complete with brown leggings and a green tunic. However, regardless of his less-than-stellar ensemble, he was beautiful with pale skin and high cheekbones.

Buffy couldn’t help but wonder if he was an angel.

Then, so quick that even her enhanced vision barely witnessed it, the man nocked an arrow and let it sail into the woods, striking a young buck that she had failed to notice earlier. The arrow embedded into the animal’s chest and red blood blossomed as the animal fell. Buffy couldn’t help but gasp at the disturbing image – she was fine with death but cute Bambi-like death was not her cup of tea.

Instantly the man’s blue eyes turned towards her at hearing her gasp; his eyes opened widely in surprise before narrowing dangerously. He leapt from the tree and, as his hair sailed behind him, she noticed that he had pointy ears.

‘Demon?’ Buffy wondered idly. As he stalked towards her, raising his bow and arrow in her direction, Buffy fell back into a fighting stance. She had no weapons and probably could not outrun this dude’s arrows, but she could try to evade them.

As her mind contemplated various fighting scenarios, the pointy-haired dude shouted in a foreign language – it sounded like a song, almost like Italian except, ya know, not – and suddenly there were five other weird looking guys pointing their arrows at her.

“Great,” Buffy muttered darkly.

The one who killed Bambi’s dad starting speaking in a low and threatening voice that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand straight up – she may not understand his language but she understood that this was one dangerous dude.

Luckily, she was pretty dangerous herself.

Unfortunately, since she was outnumbered and weaponless, she knew it was time to act more Giles-y than herself. ‘Don’t die’ was, of course, the number one rule she needed to follow.

“I don’t understand,” Buffy admitted in a soft voice as she raised her arms harmlessly into the air.

The pointy-eared dudes shared suspicious glances with one another before their ‘leader’ began speaking again. Hanyanten? Quetilyë Eldarin?”

Buffy just shook her head.

Frowning, the leader switched to a different language and his words were stilted, as if he was unused to the language, and it was far more guttural than his fancy Italian-type speech. It almost sounded German or English but it was definitely not.

“Sorry,” Buffy shrugged. “I have no idea what you’re saying.” Her lips lifted into a smirk as she gave the men surrounding her a closer look. “Which means, I bet, you have no idea what the heck I’m saying, so I can tell you that although you’re all pretty hot looking I’m not so sure about the long hair.” Buffy’s head tilted as she remembered a movie her and mom watched a long time ago. “Honestly, I think only Brad Pitt a’la Legends of the Fall can really rock the long hair, but you guys do give him a run for his money.”

Perhaps suspecting that she was saying something not entirely appropriate, the leader barked an order to his underlings and suddenly Buffy found her wrists bound with silky – yet incredibly strong – rope.

Buffy let out a suffering sigh. “I guess this is the part where you take me to your leader?” she asked in a dry voice.

Inwardly she smiled at the dirty look the men gave her. They couldn’t speak the same language but it looked like they understood her sarcastic tone well enough.


***

Plans were not Buffy’s specialty. When it came to plan-making that was definitely more of a Xander or Giles thing. Sure, during a fight she was pretty good at being opportunistic and using her surroundings to help her, but that wasn’t quite the same.

And she really needed a plan.

Way she figured, she was being held by the pointy-eared leader as she rode with him on his horse only to be taken to his leader-leader, or something. She was definitely outnumbered but she could probably do something if she needed to. Then again, these guys moved way quicker than she had expected so maybe fighting them wouldn’t result in an automatic win. At the same time, her spidey sense wasn’t picking up any evil vibes. They were not human, that was for sure, but they also didn’t seem like virgin-sacrificing murderous types.

So. Did she attempt an escape or just ride this out and see if she could find some answers – as in, she was now pretty positive this wasn’t Heaven, so just where was she?

Buffy leaned back a little, brushing against the leader’s back, and tested the strengths of her bounds. She was surprised when he whispered something, in a harsh warning tone, and she decided to set her escape plans on ‘pause’ for the moment.

After all, she could always run away later if need be.

***

Being a So-Cal gal, Buffy was used to beaches and had never seen many other types of geographic areas. So when the pointy-eared guys began leading her towards a mountain range that reached such great heights that her neck hurt fom staring at them, Buffy couldn’t help the look of awe on her face.

“Wow,” she commented breathlessly.

Wispy clouds partially covered the sky and appeared to wrap around the mountain’s rocky peaks, like cotton candy on a stick. The peaks rose and fell, with the highest peaks located in the middle of the mountain range and the lowest closest to her, indicating the slight change in terrain from the grassy plain they rode on. Straight ahead Buffy could see a narrow passage that led its way through the mountains. In the northern foothills, to Buffy’s right, was a great hall and smoke curled out of a chimney. She wondered where they were going to take her.

“Where we heading?” she asked the maybe-demon guy who had her strapped to his horse, with him sitting behind her. She turned her head slightly to look at him. “To the hall?” Buffy gestured towards the hall in the northern foothills.

The hunter looked at the hall she pointed at and his eyes widened in surprise. “Heru Námo? Lá.” He gave a resolute shake of his head and pointed to the path in front of them. “Calacirya, a Tirion.”

“Huh?” Buffy really hated not knowing what the heck these dudes were saying.

Apparently it irked her prison guard as well, because he gave her an annoyed look and gestured for her to face forward.

Letting out a huff of annoyance, Buffy turned – not because he wanted her to, but because she didn’t want to look at his stupid face anymore.

Hmmph.

Buffy just didn’t understand that after everything she has done with her life – even (seemingly) sacrificing herself – she still got stuck in a bad situation. Sure, she didn’t think these guys were evil but that didn’t mean they wanted to be besties either. She couldn’t wait to figure all this out.

They had been riding for so long that twilight had begun to color the skies in soft pinks and purples. Passing the hall on the northern foothills, which were still miles away, they began to enter the narrow pass between the mountains. It was odd, Buffy thought, that this path existed. Here was a giant mountain range and then a perfectly straight pass that almost appeared to be carved from the mountain itself.

At some point Buffy fell asleep – riding a horse was definitely uncomfortable and the worst feeling ever – but she was exhausted and the constant bouncing eventually had her falling asleep.

When she awoke she saw that the mountain pass led to a hill with a gentle slope that towered higher in the sky than most buildings. The stars and waxing moon lit up the terrain, allowing Buffy to see the many wooden and stone buildings that were scattered across the top of the hill.

Her prison guard said something but all she caught was “Túna”. Buffy snorted in amusement. “Who the heck names their home ‘Tuna?” she asked.

A few of the nearby riders glared at her, perhaps not understanding her words but definitely understanding her sarcastic tone and the mention of their home.

It was late now; the moon was near the western horizon – or so Buffy hoped because for all she knew this dimension had a solar system that was wackier than her own. Hopefully, however, some things remained the same.

Less than an hour later they were riding through town and approaching a palace that had all of Buffy’s princess dreams as a child come through. Made of stone, it featured several towers with tapering roofs that looked like rounded triangles, and had a set of wooden front doors wider than two cars and guarded by some very serious-looking warrior guys.

After some gesturing and talking that she didn’t understand but assumed meant “I have a strange girl, we should lock her up” etc, Buffy was being led into the palace. Her arms were still bound by the silky rope; the extra length of it was now being held by her silver-haired prison guard. Eight more warriors followed her, each holding a weapon, and Buffy’s idle thoughts about escape were effectively vanished.

They walked up two flights of stairs and she was taken to a little bedroom in the corner of the palace. The guard gave her what sounded like a very stern warning and then he untied her bound wrists. Grimacing, Buffy rubbed the skin that now stung as blood rushed back to circulate but luckily the rope’s impressions on her skin were not as deeply embedded as she would have thought – the rope was strong but silky smooth.

Immediately after her ropes were off a woman with long cascading black hair and wearing a pale blue neck-to-floor gown brought in a tray of food and water. Buffy instantly perked up as she noticed how tasty the food smelled and looked – some sort of meat, a biscuit, and veggies. Yay!

Grinning, she told the woman “Thank you!” It wasn’t until now that she realized how hungry she was – apparently her capturers were so anxious to get here that they didn’t even stop to eat.

The woman smiled and inclined her head. “Alassenya,” she replied. As she left the room, passing the leader of the men who brought her here, Buffy shot the leader an irritated look.

“Glad to know at least some people here have manners,” Buffy scoffed with a roll of her eyes.

The man just glared, snapped back at her with (probably) another warning, left the room and shut the door. Buffy heard the turning of a key; she figured they would lock it.

Sighing, she turned to her food. Today had been a very long day, she was hungry, and as soon as she finished eating, she was off to bed. Hopefully tomorrow would be better.


***

Buffy awoke to the sound of knocking on her door. Sprawled out on the very comfortable full-sized bed, she wrapped the periwinkle blue comforter tighter around her slender frame. After being in this strange land for a little over a week and sleeping on the ground, this plush bed was like a dream. Not exactly ‘nature girl’, living outside had been only tolerable because she thought, maybe, she was in a peaceful heaven – other than that, to be honest, it kind of sucked. Now that she was actually in a bed under a roof, she wanted to enjoy her time.

The knocking sounded again.

Buffy grumbled and, blinking away sleep, stared at the door in annoyance. It opened quietly, revealing the same dark-haired woman from last night. Her face was very fair and lovely with pale blue eyes and thin lips that seemed to be always set in a smile. A dress made of ocean blue linen with white ribbons tying the back, swished around her feet as she walked. She looked to be about thirty years old, very young except for a slight set of lines around the corners of her eyes that made her appear older than her years.

Suilanyel!” she said cheerfully as she set a tray of food and a new pitcher of water on the small table in the corner of Buffy’s room. Behind her the pointy-eared guy from last night entered the room, but he remained in the doorway. As usual, his face was a mix of impassiveness with a hit of dislike as he carefully observed Buffy.

“Hey,” Buffy said to the woman – she ignored her guard. Maybe his pansy tights needed to be loosened or something.

Manen nalyë síra?” the woman asked as she gave Buffy a bright smile.

Fortunately, words weren’t everything. Buffy could tell by the tone of her voice that she was asking a question. Considering that the woman was friendly, Buffy assumed she knew what she meant.

“Good,” Buffy shrugged. ‘Good’ because of the awesome bed, but not ‘great’ because she was basically someone’s prisoner.

The woman smiled and nodded. “Mána.” She gestured towards the food and spoke something so quickly that Buffy barely understood her – it seemed like the language of these people flowed quickly, like a song. It was hard to catch each word.

In the doorway, the leader of the pointy-eared guys grunted and emphasized with his hands that she should hurry up. Buffy just glared at him and took her time getting out of bed.

Spotting the man’s ire, the woman frowned at him. “Nalyë indolóra?” she asked unhappily him while gesturing towards Buffy.

He grimaced and crossed his arms. “Ú suilantammë, ya úcarner firima taurelmassë

Sighing irritably, the woman rolled her eyes. Buffy decided that she liked her.

When she was finished eating the leader only gave her enough time to wash her hands in a bowl of water – guess indoor plumbing wasn’t really a thing here. The woman left, which disappointed Buffy, and the leader led her through a maze of hallways. To be honest, she suspected that he purposely led her in circles in order to confuse her in case she tried to escape.

A while later they approached twin doors gilded with gold with two guards wearing scarlet uniforms – a tunic and leggings – standing in front of the entry way. Like all the other men she had seen, they also had long hair, elegant tall bodies, and pointy ears. Unlike the guy who led her, they had dark black hair. Strangely, she noticed that every person she had met so far had dark hair except the one who had captured her – maybe this was a ruling race of bitchy blond people?

With a command from the leader, the two guards stepped aside and opened the door – and Buffy sucked in a huge gulp of air.

The ceiling was easily forty feet high and was supported by marble columns that glittered with gold flakes. The floor was a smooth marble with elegant designs colored with gold twisting around the floor. At the end of the room, in the center, was a throne that would have made the Queen of England jealous. Created from silver metal, it was crafted into the semblance of a tree and finely carved branches and leaves sailed six feet higher than the actual seat of the throne.

In the seat was an imposing man – except Buffy knew this was certainly no man. The fact that he had pointy curved ears had nothing to do with it. His entire presence radiated power and his clear blue eyes held an intelligence and wisdom that Buffy had never seen before. Golden hair, so fair it was almost silver, was the same shade as the man who had led her here. His head held a golden crown that was simplistic in craft but still stunning; it caught the early morning light that came in through the windows that filled each side of the grand hall.

She found this king to be beautiful and thought that he may even be kind, but his eyes held a wariness as he watched her approach his throne. Feeling naked beneath his gaze, she turned her eye to observe the others in the room.

On the king’s right was a woman with hair that was so light it was more silver than gold, and atop her head was a finely crafted crown with a knot of golden metal at the center, similar to the king’s – Buffy assumed she was the queen.

To the king’s left was another woman, just as beautiful as the first. Buffy wondered if perhaps that was their daughter – and as the ‘man’ who dragged her here stood next to the king, she wondered if this was maybe the entire royal family..except…the king and queen? Really not that much older than the ‘kids’. Although…maybe they started having babies when they were really young? Hmm, no, that didn’t make sense.

Then the king began speaking and Buffy found her attention diverted from her mental musings.

Mallo nalyë?” the king asked in a slow and melodious voice; almost as if the king thought if he spoke slower, Buffy would be better able to understand.

Feeling incredibly frustrated by the language barrier – if only there were dry erase boards like Buffy used when the Gentleman came in order to communicate! – Buffy sighed heavily and shrugged.

“Look, I really have no idea what you’re saying. All I know is one second, I’m on earth, the next I’m jumping through a portal, and then I wake up here.”

The king frowned and shared a look with his (presumed) family members. Then, after a brief conversation, he spoke again. “O man dôr túliel le?

Buffy just shrugged again. “I’m pretty much clueless, guys,” she sighed.

Ma esselya ná?” the king asked. When Buffy just blinked stupidly at him, he pointed at his chest. “Nanyë estaina Finarfin. Finarfin,” he repeated with emphasis as he hit his chest.

“Oh!” Buffy grinned. “I’m Buffy. Buf-fy,” she repeated as she hit her chest. At least with names like ‘Finarfin’ these people couldn’t make fun of her name!

King Finarfin gestured towards the woman with the crown. “Eärwen.” He gestured towards the woman on his left. “Celebrían.” When he pointed towards the man who had captured her King Finarfin said, “Finrod.”

“Howdy,” Buffy said with an awkward wave – because, honestly, what was she supposed to say to the people who didn’t understand her?

“How-dy?” Celebrían repeated.

Buffy fought back a smirk and mentally rebuked herself for teaching these pointy-eared people how to talk like cowboys. Better make sure she never cursed around them either.

King Finarfin tried conversing with her further, even using a couple more different sounding languages, but nothing worked. Frustrated, Buffy shifted uneasily from foot to foot. These people didn’t seem evil, especially if they wanted to talk to her and not, ya know, kill her, but that didn’t mean everything was peachy keen. In fact – and maybe this because she was kind of snarky when he captured her – Finrod kept staring at her suspiciously and arguing with the king in a low voice.

Finally, King Finarfin gestured for her to come closer. Cautiously Buffy made her way towards him, being careful to watch his every movement – it wouldn’t do to get killed now.

Instead of attacking her, the king just stared into her eyes. Buffy found herself staring back, and it was like falling into a pool of water – all that existed was the blue expanse of his eyes. In them she could see the years pass like days and knew that this creature was far older than anything Buffy had ever met.

When he blinked, Buffy found herself back in the throne room feeling out of sorts. Breathing deeply, Buffy wondered what kind of mojo he had done on her – whatever he had done, it must have been good because King Finarfin finally gifted her with a smile. He spoke to the woman on his left; Celebrían, and gestured towards Buffy.

Finrod looked alarmed and tried to argue, but King Finarfin hushed him with a wave of his hand – which was actually pretty funny and Buffy did find a smirk playing onto her face.

Soon after, Celebrían was leading her to a different room on the first floor, one that actually had windows and a closet full of pretty dresses, and was definitely not like the quasi-prison cell that Buffy had been taken too initially.

Maybe, just maybe, things were starting to look up.

 


Author’s Notes:

Since the LOTR verse is rather complicated and the people and settings that I will be using are usually lesser known (at least, for quite a few chapters at first), my notes will be more extensive for those of you who are research-oriented and want to know more about my cast an sets.

As always, reviews are welcome! :)


References:
*Quenya: the first language of the elves. I’m trying to use it here, thanks to phrases from this website: http://www.realelvish.net/quenya_communication.php

*Sindarin: The second language of the elves; will be used occasionally here. Samples from: http://www.arwen-undomiel.com/elvish/phrases.html

*Tirion: Tirion was the city of the Ñoldor in Valinor in Aman. http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Tirion

*Túna: The big hill that the elves created so they could see the stars easier, located within a gap of the Pelori Mountains of Aman. Tirion was built on top of this hill. http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/T%C3%BAna

*Pelóri: also known as the Mountains of Aman, the Mountains of Defence and the Mountain Wall are a mountain range in Aman that separates the inner plains of Valinor from Eldamar and the wastelands of Araman and Avathar. Taniquetil is its highest peak and home to the throne of Manwë with Hyarmentir being its second highest. The Halls of Mandos were apparently in the northern foothills of this mountain range. The Calacirya is the only safe pass through the range. http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Pelori

*Calacirya: also called the Pass of Light was a narrow pass that led through the chain of mountains known as the Pelóri mountain range north of Taniquetil. http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Calacirya

*Finarfin: High King of the Noldor http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Finarfin

* Eärwen: daughter of Olwë, wife of Finarfin, and mother of Galadriel, Finrod, Angrod, and Aegnor. http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/E%C3%A4rwen

* Celebrían http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Celebr%C3%ADan

*Finrod: Son of Finfarin & Eärwen. http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Finrod

Quenya Translations
* Alassenya – My pleasure/you’re welcome
* Suilanyel- I greet you
*Manen nalyë síra? –how are you today?
*Ma esselya ná? – what is your name?
* Nanyë estaina ___ - I am named___
* mána – Good
*Nalyë indolóra? – Are you without heart?
*firima – human
*Ú suilantammë, ya úcarner firima taurelmassë – We don’t welcome humans into our forest
* Mallo nalyë?- Where are you from?
* O man dôr túliel le? – From what land do you come from? (Sindarin)

Chapter Text

Celebrían walked into the throne room where her grandfather Finarfin, King of the Noldor Elves; grandmother Queen Eärwen, and uncle Finrod, awaited her return. The former were seated exactly as before, but her uncle was anxiously pacing to the side of his father’s throne.

“I’ve shown her to her rooms. Erulissë is helping to tailor the dresses in the wardrobe.” Celebrían’s lips twitched in amusement as she remembered her handmaiden laughing outright when Buffy attempted to try on an elven dress. “She is rather short, even for one from the race of Man. One wonders if she is part dwarf.”

“Yes, she is certainly not of the race of Númenór,” Eärwen mused softly, deep in thought. “For while it has been many years since we have seen a mortal, the Númenórean women were at least six feet in height.”

“She should not be here,” Finrod spot hotly, his blond hair swishing over his shoulders as he went to stand before his parents. “Have we not forgotten when the Númenóreans, greedy for everlasting life, disobeyed the Valar and came to our shores? This Buffy may be an advanced guard, perhaps.”

Celebrían laughed, ignoring her uncle’s angry glare. “She is but a titta wendë! Valar knows how she came to be here, but I am sure it is not for any dark purpose.”

She understood her uncle’s trepidation about the mortal woman in their lands – mortals were forbidden to be in Valinor, the home of the Valar and the elves. Mortals had been especially mistrusted since the Númenóreans sought to sail to Valinor in the Second Age to seize their lands, only to be defeated by the might of Eru Ilúvatar, Father of All.

Yet…this mortal named Buffy did not feel like a threat. Celebrían could not understand why Finrod could not see this. Her uncle was one of the elves who had died in Middle Earth, his soul sent to Halls of Mandos, and reborn here in Valinor. Could he not feel that she was good and pure?

Finrod arched his brow and gave his niece a discerning look. “A little maiden she may be, but her appearance in our lands is suspicious at best and bodes ill for our people.” His nose wrinkled in distaste. “Plus, she is an aggravating creature.”

“What say you, husband?” Eärwen questioned as she observed Finarfin far-away look. “What did you see that made you decide to let the mortal live?”

Finarfin blinked as his mind came back to his surroundings, and he gave his family a careful look. A solemn air hung around him since gazing deeply into the woman’s soul, her fëa. “She is more than mortal,” Finarfin declared, the timbre of his voice deepening to indicate the seriousness of her words.

“An enemy?” Finrod immediately asked.

Finarfin paused and then shook his head. “No,” he decided. “Not to us. Witnessing her fëa I could see that she was warrior for the light and slayer of demons.”

“An ohtatyaro?” Finrod scoffed. “She does not look like she could even heft a sword higher than an elf’s shoulder!”

“If that is the case, then why does her presence worry you so much, my son?” Finarfin shot back, his eyes twinkling as Finrod immediately quieted himself, looking chagrined at his father’s well-placed words.

“I do not understand the reasoning behind her appearance,” Finarfin admitted, “but there is a spark of something within the girl and for one so young she has bore great struggles. I can only presume she was placed here by the Valar themselves. We will give her this time of rest and safe harbor, until we know more,” Finarfin decided.

“Celebrían,” Finarfin added with an indulgent smile towards the child of his daughter Galadriel who had sailed to their shores several centuries ago. “Please take the child under your wing. Teach her our ways and we will pray for guidance from Manwë, King of the Valar.”

Celebrían agreed to her grandfather’s decree and something, almost feared lost after her torture at the hands of orcs in Arda, began to spark once more within her.

 

Sitting at the cool and finely wrought metal desk, Buffy sighed and dipped her quill into the inkwell. Squinting at the delicately drawn pictures of fruits, animals, and other natural elements, Buffy began to copy the Quenya word for each item. The language of these people – elves, they were called – was a pretty script that was as complicated to write as Arabic, and Buffy was feeling frustrated. She had been in the city of Tirion for almost a week now as their ‘guest’ (with the way Finrod glared at her, she still felt like a prisoner) and gentle Celebrían had been assigned to teach Buffy the language.

Don’t get her wrong – Buffy knew it was important to learn the language. Maybe then she would be able to figure out exactly where the hell she was and how to get home.

Of course, what she really was hoping for was that Willow and the gang would figure out how to bring her back, stat. Buffy could only assume that she was in a different dimension thanks to Glory ripping holes through all the dimensions (at least there were no dragons here, that Buffy could see). Plus, none of the people here had heard of the words “earth” “Hellmouth” or “Brad Pitt”. So, Buffy was pretty certain of the dimensional travel issue. And the fact that she had zero ideas on how to hop back into her home dimension.

She hated this positively useless feeling of being stuck here unable able to do anything about it. Buffy was a doer and sitting around a fancy house was not exactly her cup of tea. Well, okay, maybe a little bit.

Glancing around her room, Buffy had to admit the place was gorgeous. It seemed like these elves people really liked metal – most of the furniture was wrought with iron, from her bed to her desk to a miniature sculpture of a tree that sat on her wooden dresser. Everything gleamed silver from the sunlight that streamed from her bay window that overlooked a garden.

Buffy smirked as her fingers played with the material on her satin blue gown. Celebrían and the elven woman she had first met, Erulissë, had openly laughed when Buffy’s slight form had tried on some of the dresses – everything was a good foot longer than she needed it! Fortunately the dark-haired Erulissë had mended everything and they had even added some shoes that fit her petite feet.

Buffy already missed her jeans but these flowy dresses were definitely easing that particular pain. The material was better than what was found in couture fashion and Buffy found herself more than once spinning in circles to see the dress flow around her – of course, she never did this around anyone else!

Her gaze traveled to her open window and while the sight of blossoming trees and flowers was nice, the sound of swords clashing traveled to her ears, causing her to grin.

Buffy doubted that the elves were in a war so she could only presume that they were sparring. Finally, maybe this place was going to be interesting after all.

 

Past the garden was a stretch of empty land almost two-hundred feet in diameter. No grass grew here, just soft dirt that bore dozens of footprints. Half a dozen male elves watched two central figures spar with great swords that glinted under the bright sun. They were cheering their comrades on and laughing. One of the central figures was Finrod, the elf who had originally found her in the forest, and he was currently besting his opponent.

Buffy approached the circle and no one noticed her, they were so engrossed in the sparring match.

When Finrod won after he kicked his opponent’s sword away, the crowd cheered. He reached down and helped his opponent up. They shared a smile and Buffy figured they were probably good friends. Then Finrod’s eyes caught her gaze, and his smile disappeared.

“Entulil?” Finrod frowned. He gestured for her to move back to the palace. “Vanyalyë.”

“Um, no,” Buffy scowled as she crossed her arms. Between his words and his gestures she figured he wanted her to leave. Well too darn bad! She was bored and the sound of a sword fight was more exciting than she had previously realized. Buffy pointed to the sword in Finrod’s hand. “Can I try?”

The sword was unlike anything she had ever seen. A beautiful weapon, it was almost as long as Buffy was tall, and had etchings of swirling designs and Quenya words etched into it. Her hands ached, desiring to grip it; she wanted to try it badly.

Finrod’s brow arched in surprise as he glanced between her pointed finger and his sword. He held it aloft with one hand. “Ala istan” Finrod laughed. The other warriors around the sparring area joined in his laughter; one of them said something so quickly that Buffy couldn’t catch it, and then they laughed harder.

Okay, that was it. Now Buffy was pissed.

She thought back to how Riley had always wanted to be ‘the man’ and didn’t like how she was so much stronger. She thought back to all the various bad guys who had laughed in her face once they saw her 5’2 self. She thought back to gym class in high school when she had to hold back her strength, like when she had to ‘practice’ self-defense moves on Larry.

Gritting her teeth, Buffy stalked over towards the center of the practice field, her body coiled like a snake waiting to strike. She glared at Finrod and the other elves, enjoying the surprise some of them showed on their faces at her aggressive action. Turning to Finrod, she took in his 6’5 frame and slender build, quietly assessing his potential strengths in agility and reach.

“Let’s make a bet,” Buffy drawled with a light, icy smile. She pointed at him, then at her, and mimed a sword fight. “You, me, we spar. I win, you gimme a shiny sword like yours.”

Finrod gave her a puzzled stare. One of his companions spoke in an amused tone and Finrod smirked. “Lá, titta Wendë.”

Buffy’s eyebrows furrowed as she gave the elf an aghast look. “La titty Wendy? My name isn’t Wendy and,” Buffy growled as she placed her hand over her chest, “don’t speak about my breasts like that, you obnoxious sexist jerk.”

Finrod’s blue eyes blinked in surprise. “Nalyë indolóra,” he commented in a light, dry tone. He called out to his men and they all began to walk away, chuckling softly in amusement.

Frustrated that he wouldn’t even spar with her, Buffy followed him. “Hey! I’m not some helpless little girl! I’m the freaking vampire slayer, you jerk! I know how to use a sword.”

Finrod ignored her and continued to walk with the others in the opposite direction of the palace, towards the valley below the hill of Túna.

Grunting in annoyance, Buffy stopped following them and went back to the palace. She had contemplated just stealing Finrod’s sword and showing him she knew how to spar, but with her luck she would just get him to think she was evil and he would actually try to kill her, which was not the kind of situation she needed at the moment.

Hmm. Maybe she could get Celebrían to teach her how to insult Finrod in Quenya.

 

“ Áso apsenë, Finrod,” Celebrían told Buffy after the slayer had ranted about Finrod that evening. She gave her a comforting pat on the hand.

To be honest, Buffy wasn’t sure how much of her rant the elven woman had understood but clearly she got the meaning thanks to Buffy’s tone and the way she said ‘Finrod’ like it was a curse word. Celebrían, however, seemed super sweet and nice, and Buffy bet anything she was apologizing on Finrod’s behalf or even telling Buffy to forgive him.

“Thanks,” Buffy said with a small smile. Celebrían was one hell of a task master when it came to teaching but she was really nice. For meal times the elf always sat next to her which helped to prevent some awkwardness of dining with the royal family and their friends. Not only were the meals fancy but she never had a clue about what they were saying, plus she always felt like an uncouth barbarian next to the elegant elves. Honestly, what was up with all those forks they used?

Celebrían gestured towards the quill and inkwell and commanded for Buffy to renew her attempts at writing the fancy language – except with Celebrían here, as Buffy wrote, the elf would also pronounce the words out loud.

Buffy groaned and gave her a pleading look. “Can’t I take a break? I hated school even when I could speak the language.”

“Avá yaia,” Celebrían stated in an admonishing tone. Her long fingers tapped insistently on the desk.

Sighing, Buffy continued her studies.

…it wasn’t like she had anything better to do.

 

It was maybe a week later when Buffy was roaming the palace grounds that she stumbled upon a place that had her lighting up with glee. There, in the back of the palace, was a shed filled entirely with weapons.

“Shiny!” Buffy called out in excitement as she broke the lock at seeing all the goodies inside the small window. She stepped inside the dark room and glanced around at all the fun that now surrounded her.

Swords hung along the walls like soldiers standing at attention. Bows and quivers lay in cubby holes against the back wall. Intense weapons, such a couple maces, hung at the opposite wall.

Humming happily to herself, Buffy trailed her fingers over the swords until she found one that had a grip that she liked. Pulling it free from its confines, Buffy gave it a practice swing, marveling at the perfect balance of the blade. Full tang, sharp enough to split a hair, and covered with more of those beautifully etched Quenya words, Buffy couldn’t believe how perfect the sword was. Squinting, she examined the Quenya words and tried to determine if she could translate it, or at least pronounce it. After going over it several times she said “Melyanna Qualmë.” Buffy wasn’t sure what it meant but there was something about the words, and this sword, that made something ‘click’ within her.

She wanted this sword.

Buffy wondered if that would be considered stealing. Hmm. The elves here all seemed pretty down with sharing – clothes, writing supplies, food – that Buffy couldn’t imagine that they would care if she took one teensy weensy sword…right?

Not able to help herself, Buffy began to practice with the blade, utilizing her tai chi techniques to get her breathing correct and memorizing the way the sword made her body feel. It had been a long time – okay, only two weeks – since she had done anything physical and her body was yearning for it now.

“Man nalyë sinomë?” a frosty voice asked from the doorway.

Stifling a gasp – and cursing herself for getting so lost in the moment – Buffy turned to look at the doorway. Finrod was standing there, his eyes ablaze as he watched her.

She really didn’t understand why he hated her so much. Okay, sure, maybe she used every opportunity possible to annoy him, but he had started it back with the Mr. cranky pants capture of her!

“Oh, uh, hi!” Buffy greeted him cheerfully. Kill ‘em with kindness was always a good method – she did not want him to take her shiny new sword away. She repeated his words in her head and tried to translate….something about ‘why’ and ‘here’.

Hastily trying to form words in her head, Buffy attempted to answer him in Quenya. “Tyalin…Carma.” I play…weapons.

Hmm, after watching Finrod frown, Buffy figured that wasn’t the best answer. But she didn’t know how to say ‘spar’ or ‘fight’ yet!

“A tula sinomë,” Finrod commanded softly as he held his hand out.

Buffy swung the sword back as she translated his words. “Come on, can’t I have it? Please? I just need to spar. I’m so tired of going so long without a fight.”

Finrod moved quickly to her side – dang those elves moved fast! – and yanked the sword away by its handle. He rolled his eyes at her and muttered something that she didn’t quite hear – not that she probably would have understood it, anyways.

Eyes narrowed, Buffy decided that this had gone on long enough. Pointy Ears over here needed to know he was messing with the Slayer. In one smooth motion she reached over to grab a sword from the wall and hit the sword – her sword – Finrod now held hard enough for it to fling out of his hand and onto the shed floor.

Shocked, Finrod stared at her. “Lá… ohtatyaro…Ta anwa?”

Buffy understood “No” and “Is it true?”; the latter only because Celebrían kept asking that incredulously whenever Buffy tried to cheat on her homework – it was crazy how hyper-aware that elf was. There was no tricking her.

“Listen, I don’t know what ohtatyaro means, but I need you to stop thinking I’m a titta wendë .” Last week Buffy had asked Celebrían what that word had meant and discovered it meant ‘little maiden’ – which was even more demeaning than Finrod talking about her breasts. “Lá titta wendë, okay?”

Gazing at her cautiously – but with a renewed interest that Buffy had not seen directed her way before – Finrod picked up her sword off the ground and held it aloft, readying his body into a fighting stance. “Mahta?” Finrod asked with an arrogant smile.

Buffy bet anything that it was only now that his manhood – er, elfhood? – was at stake that he was willing to prove she was just a silly little maiden. Well, she would prove him differently.

Feinting a lunge, Buffy pirouetted behind him and kicked Finrod in the back. The elf stumbled but easily used his momentum to step forward and swing his sword around. Buffy leaned back as the sword cut the air in front of her and she brought up her blade to catch it. The steel blades shrieked as they pressed against each other, both Buffy and Finrod testing the other’s strength. The elf seemed surprised that she was able to hold her own, and he ended their test by sweeping his leg against her side.

Not ready for a hit, when she was already being forced that direction by the pressure against her sword, Buffy fell to the ground. Finrod stood above her, grinning, and Buffy grunted as she swept her legs underneath his; feeling satisfaction as he fell to the floor.

Barely a two seconds passed before each of them were on their feet, continuing to spar with their blades. Buffy had to admit, the elf was good – and possibly even better than her. It didn’t help that his Sasquatch self could reach way further than she could. Eventually he had Buffy backed into a corner. Blocking his next blow, Buffy threw all of her energy into leaping straight up. She pressed her legs against the wall and shoved off, tumbling in the air over Finrod. Landing on her feet, Buffy pressed to her advantage – grinning now that Finrod was the one backed into the corner.

His long blond hair, usually so neat and tidy, was a mess and his face was flustered. He panted as he fought to keep up with Buffy – but Buffy was also panting from the workout as well. Somehow she managed to knock his sword away – her sword – and she pressed her blade closer to him.

“I win,” Buffy announced cheerfully.

The elf pursed his lips. “Nalyë huorëa ohtar,” Finrod told her begrudgingly.

“Nalyë huorëa ohtar” Buffy repeated. She grinned. “I’ll have to ask Celebrían what that means.” Then, humming happily to herself, Buffy stepped back and set the sword back on the wall, before grabbing her newly won shiny prize and heading back to the palace.

Maybe there weren’t demons or vampires she had to fight in this weird dimension – so far, Buffy had felt zero spidey-sense evil tingles. But if she was still able to spar with arrogant jerky elf guys and make them lose, then maybe her time here wouldn’t be too bad.

Chapter Text

In the few days that passed, Buffy noticed that Finrod no longer tossed her dirty looks during meals in the Tirion palace. He still avoided her, but she occasionally saw him inspecting her curiously, as if he was trying to figure her out.

There was a room on the third floor that was spacious enough for her to practice swordplay in private and Buffy had taken to working with her new sword there. Sure, maybe she could have barged in on one of the elves’ sparring matches down past the garden outside but Buffy – although she was loathe to admit it – didn’t feel like going back down there again to get rejected. Sure, she was strong and made it clear to Finrod that she was more than capable of kicking his butt, but she was also far away from her family and feeling lonely. She really didn’t want another rejection any time soon.

‘I wonder what they’re doing right now?’ Buffy silently mused as she worked through a series of drills. Her blade arced in the air and swung low as she dropped to her knees, then followed the motion back to a chest level position.

Did her friends realize she was in a different dimension? Were they trying to free her?

Well, yeah, probably. Clearly she disappeared right when dimensional rifts opened up. Clearly they loved her and all the Scoobies would be working on freeing her. So why was Buffy so worried?

‘What if it doesn’t work? What if the only thing that could open up to the door to elf-land was Dawn’s blood?’ Buffy halted her movements as a weight seemed to land on her chest.

If that was the case…Buffy would rather stay here. She wouldn’t risk Dawn’s life. Not again.

Buffy resumed her drills, relishing the force of effort she put into her movements.

Then there was another worry that Buffy had. One that she was afraid to voice and give substance because if it was true than she would never see her family again…

It wasn’t that long ago that Angel was plunged into a hell dimension. He was gone only what – three months? But in his reality it was over a hundred years. Buffy’s own experience during her summer in L.A. proved the same thing – that some dimensions, especially evil ones, operated at a slower pace.

But…this place wasn’t evil, right? So maybe not. Or! Maybe a year would pass here but only one minute would pass there.

Feeling frustrated Buffy began going through more elaborate drills, falling into a frenzied pace.

If that was the case, then it would work out great. Well, except, then again, maybe not. She needed Willow to bring her back and if earth time moved slower than here, then she would age and die first before they had a chance to bring her back.

Buffy’s steps increased in complexity and she felt herself become one with her new sword. She couldn’t be stuck here, never able to see her family and friends again. She couldn’t. There had to be a way out. Maybe the King or Queen would know?

That is, if Buffy could ever learn the Quenya phrase for “Hi, can you help send me back to my home dimension?”

“Arrgh!” Buffy yelled as she completed her drill by kicking off the adjacent wall and landing feet first with her sword pointed straight ahead.

Soft clapping brought her back to reality. Caught off guard, Buffy turned to the open doorway to see Finrod, his face expressionless, applauding her.

Nalyë huorëa ohtar,” Finrod told her in friendly tone as he nodded at her.

Tired from her drills, Buffy pushed back a tendril of hair that fell out of her ponytail. She remembered that was the phrase Finrod had told her after their sparring in the shed. After talking to Celebrían it seemed like – judging by the elf’s gestures of swordplay and bows and arrows, plus her smiling and nodding – that the phrase was a positive one about fighting.

Hantanyel” Buffy told him ‘thank you’ in response. The elf’s eyebrow rose in mild disbelief and then he presented her with a bemused smile.

Hanyalyen?” Finrod asked her if she understood him.

Buffy laughed and shrugged. “Istanyes” Buffy answered with a mild shake of her hand as she told him ‘I think so’.

Finrod smiled widely in response, surprising her. “ Tultuvalyë asinyë ohtanna?” he asked her as he drew his sword from its scabbard and held it aloft, as if he were readying for battle.

Hmm. The word ‘ohtanna’ sounded like ‘ohtar’, which Buffy knew meant something to do with being a fighter or warrior. So he was asking her to fight? Her lips curved into a sly smile. Now she got it – Pointy Ears was looking for round numero dos.

Buffy drew her sword back and agreed. “Istyanya ve sanwelya.”

Finrod bowed and she followed his lead. Then he took two large steps forward and his sword clashed against her own.

Already tired from practicing all afternoon, Buffy had to focus especially hard on performing well – there was no way she would let him win this round.

He was, she silently commented later in their sparring, very good. It was remarkable, really, since Finrod looked to be the same age as her – around twenty. Clearly elves had super strength and agility like her; Buffy had already born witness to that. She wondered if elves were trained at a young age for battle. Although she had yet to see any kid elves walking around – only ones in their twenties or thirties so far.

Finrod feinted to the left and Buffy was tricked; suddenly his sword was at her throat.

Hehtalyë túrë?” Finrod asked her with a satisfied smirk.

Judging by the situation Buffy assumed that he was asking if she gave up – maybe he was mocking her but his tone of voice was not quite at that level.

“Náto, Quendu” Buffy agreed through gritted teeth. She could not believe that she lost! Stupid elf and his stupid speed. And, although Buffy hated to admit it, Finrod was better than her with a sword. Still, fencing had never been a strength. To be honest, she really hadn’t used a sword much since she sent Angel to hell…

A queasy feeling overtook her and it must have shown on Buffy’s face because Finrod – of all people! – was gazing at her in concern.

Nalyë maravë?” Finrod asked as he drew his sword back.

Buffy recognized the phrase, ‘Are you well?’ from the examples of conversational phrases that Celebrían had been teaching her.

Náto,” Buffy replied positively with a nod.

Finrod gazed thoughtfully at her before he returned her nod. “Ani lasta.”

Buffy’s eyes stared up at him – geez she really couldn’t get over how tall all of the elves were! – once he told her to listen to him. She hoped it was important.

Speaking further, Finrod demonstrated a stance that kept his toe lined up with his hips and a different way that he held his sword when he made a forward thrusting movement. Slowly, Buffy began to realize that Finrod was teaching her how to use the sword better. At first she resented it – like she needed his help! But then she realized that, yeah, she did. He was definitely better than her and, although she loved Giles, he really wasn’t an expert on weapons (he definitely knew them but he was not a swords master like Finrod apparently was).

Thinking of Giles brought back a fresh wave of pain and Buffy immediately pushed it down and instead focused on Finrod’s lesson. She found it to be a useful distraction from thoughts on Sunnydale.


***

As the sun set, darkness blossomed over the sky, harkening the arrival of the stars and the moon. Celebrían gazed at the silver lights from her seat on a garden bench that was well-used. Grasping the smooth armrest to her left, Celebrían sought to quell the sadness that arose within her spirit. Since her arrival in Valinor, with her fëa darkened from the days of torture at the hands of orcs, Celebrían had to fight against the melancholy that sought to make her fade. Nienna, the Vala of Mercy, had comforted and counseled Celebrían following her arrival to Valinor, and it had helped. Greatly, in fact.

To be quite honest, Celebrían felt cured after her centuries here and Nienna’s companionship from the horrors of her ordeal with the orcs. No, her melancholy had more to do with missing her family…

The Star of Eärendil appeared in the sky just then, sparkling more than all the other sky lights, save the moon. An involuntary sigh went through Celebrían as she thought of her husband’s face and his gentle hands. Elrond was the son of Eärendil, the man turned immortal and set to sail the night skies.

Her fingers traced an invisible pattern on the bench armrest as she thought of her husband. They were together for over two thousand years before she sailed and knew each other intimately. Still, Elrond rarely spoke of his parents, Eärendil and Elwing, because they were taken from him when he was only a child. Celebrían did know, however, that Elrond had lamented being separated from his parents and had vowed before they even conceived that he would never leave his children until they were set to sail from Aman to Valinor.

Therefore, it made Celebrían feel guilty that she had left. That she hadn’t been able to emotionally heal herself. That Elrond and not even her parents, wise and powerful elves, could help her. She had been fading, her fëa escaping her body and turning her into a husk. Sailing to Valinor and seeking Nienna’s help was the only way she could live.

And yet.

Nights like this, long and dark, made Celebrían regret her decision. She missed her children. She missed her husband. Her parents.

While she had found family in Valinor – her parents’ families that she had never met before – and they were sincerely wonderful, it still didn’t quite fill the hole in Celebrían’s heart. She missed being a mother and wife.

Celebrían sighed and leaned back against the bench, turning her face against the cool light of the moon and stars. Then a noise, farther into the garden, caught her attention and she was brought out of her reverie. Listening closely, Celebrían heard the unmistakable sound of crying. Her heart clenched, for she understood the toll of sadness on an individual’s fëa. Mercy filled her spirit and she got up to investigate.


***


Sparring with Finrod had become a daily distraction over the last week, but during the nights her mind was unable to push away the dark thoughts.

Strolling through the garden that lay outside her bedroom window, Buffy trailed her hand over the leafy green plants and fragile flowers. Her feet knew the garden’s path very well – she tread it every night now – and Buffy shuffled along listlessly.

As the days passed she couldn’t help but think that she really never would see her family and friends again. Even if Willow did find her, there was no knowing how much time would pass here – or there. After all, Willow might find her in a week, but fifty years may have passed in Sunnydale, leaving her friends old – or dead. Giles would definitely not be alive by then.

Dammit! Buffy sunk down against one of the apple trees as traitorous tears escaped her eyes. She knew, she knew, that it was useless to worry about these things but she couldn’t seem to stop. Something dark and lonely chewed away at her soul and nothing could comfort her.

Buffy wondered…if she died here in elf-land, would she still be able to see her mother in the after-life? Or would she be forever separated from her?

That thought brought on a new flow of tears and Buffy found herself sniffling. All the stress of the past year – Riley leaving, her mother’s sickness and death, trying to protect Dawn from Glory – it had been weighing heavily on her. She never got a vacation, a time to process and relax from all of these ordeals. Nope, it was just one dang thing after another.

The rustle of fabric over the ground had Buffy glancing up in surprise. There, walking towards Buffy, was her tutor Celebrían. As usual, she wore a floor-length gown; it was so darkly blue that it was almost black under the midnight sky. Her silver hair flowed freely over her shoulders and down to her hips, shaking slightly with each step. A concerned expression knitted itself onto her features as she took in the sight of Buffy’s tearful face.

Buffy hastily wiped her face clean of her tangible misery.

Nalyë maravë?” Celebrían asked – same thing that Finrod had asked earlier after their sparring match.

Náto”, Buffy replied back, a twinge of frustration lacing her words. She just hated it when people asked her if she was okay.

Celebrían surprised her by dropping down to the soft earth and sitting next to Buffy.

“Uh, aren’t you worried about getting your dress dirty?” Buffy asked skeptically. For some reason the elves always looked super clean - she never thought an elf would actually sit in the dirt!

A little smile played along Celebrían’s lips as she observed Buffy’s surprised look. Then her expression sobered and the elf tucked Buffy’s blond hair behind her ear. “ Manen nalyë, Buffy?

Buffy was about to quickly say she was feeling just fine, thank you; but Celebrían’s motherly touch made the truth fall from her lips instead. Unfortunately, she didn’t quite know how to express herself. “I miss,” she said with a motion towards her chest, “my emya, my nésa, my meldo.” Buffy gestured out towards the sky as she said ‘mother’, ‘sister’, and ‘friend’.

Understanding flickered in Celebrían’s eyes and she ran her hand soothingly through Buffy’s hair. “ Nwalyan len.”

Buffy comprehended her words, ‘I’m sad for you’, and bit her lip. She liked Celebrían – even though the elf looked like she was only ten years older than Buffy, she had a very motherly way about her – but there was a part of her that didn’t feel comfortable telling her secrets to someone she had only known less than a month. Still, it wasn’t like the elf could really understand her.

“I miss my family,” Buffy told her in English – mostly because she didn’t know the verb for ‘miss’. Buffy preceded to rattle off her entire story – including Dawn, Glory, and the interdimensional rift – and was comforted that even though Celebrían had a rather blank look in her eyes, Buffy still had someone to listen to her woe-is-me moment. By the end of the tale Buffy was leaning onto the elven woman’s shoulder, Celebrían was stroking her hair, and Buffy was wiping the tears away from her eyes.

Áva peresta imle, min yeldë.”

Buffy gazed up at Celebrían, and smiled. Although she didn’t understand the woman’s words, her tone was soothing. Buffy realized that, while her life was not ‘ideal’ at the moment, she was glad to have someone like Celebrían to watch out for her.

Chapter Text

15 years later

There was a mirror in the hallway, right on the way to the palace’s family dining room. It stretched four feet across the wall, gilded in gold, and encrusted with red and green jewels. King Farfarin said that he had made it when he was a young adult, so Buffy knew that it was thousands and thousands of years old. Yet it still showed reflections as clearly as ever.

Every day Buffy saw her reflection as she made her way to meals. When she first arrived to Tirion her reflection had shown her face taut with worry. It lessened after she began bonding with Celebrían and Finrod; sometimes she even appeared happy, but once a year had passed Buffy’s visage had become more troubled. After she broke through the language barrier and explained her arrival to this land and her home dimension, she had become heartbroken to hear that there were no answers. No way to get back. The Vala were the only ones who would perhaps know and the god-like beings were silent to their requests.

Eventually Buffy moved on. She began a new life unwillingly but as time passed the ache in her heart diminished – although it never disappeared entirely. She hunted with Finrod and the other elves, learned the history of Middle-Earth with Celebrían, and even began to make a few friends in the city. Slowly, Buffy’s reflection showcased more and more smiles.

But today…today was different. As Buffy passed the mirror, her visage showed a frown developing on her face as she looked closer at her reflection.

Buffy could not be sure, because the calendar was different in this world (they didn’t have ‘months’, only seasons), but she should be turning thirty-five years this year – based on Celebrían inferring today to be Buffy’s Begetting Day once they reviewed and compared their respective calendars.

Begetting day, by the way, apparently meant the day that she had been conceived – which Buffy thought was totally ooky but apparently elves believed that the High Vala Manwë gifted a soul into each babe upon conception, hence the celebration. Whatever. Buffy liked celebrations and if they didn’t celebrate birthdays here, she would make do with a begetting day.

Speaking of begetting day, by her calculations, Buffy was thirty-five was old. Okay, not elven-old – elves didn’t even become ‘adults’ until they were fifty. Clearly they were the masters of getting to be super old while still appearing to be in their twenties (sometimes Buffy forgot the age difference when she spoke to her new friends, but other times it could not be any clearer). But still. Thirty-five was the time when people starting getting grey hairs and crow’s feet and other wrinkles.

Buffy…was not.

She peered closer at her image in the mirror, thinking about how she had not paid close attention in the past to her looks. She found this revelation to be incredible, welcomed, and yet terribly terrifying.

Buffy was not aging. And that worried her. What was wrong with her?

Hearing the family begin to congregate in the dining room, Buffy shook herself and walked away from the mirror, although she gave it a backward glance.

Family meals were the norm here. King Farfarin and Queen Eärwen sat at opposite sides of the rectangular oak table, Finrod sat across from Buffy, and Buffy sat next to Celebrían. Although Celebrían did not speak often of her family that lay on the other side of the sea, in Aman, Buffy knew a little about her relationships. Celebrían’s mother and father, Galadriel and Celeborn, lorded over a forest named Lothlórien. Her husband Elrond was the Lord of Imladris, where he resided with their twin sons Elrond and Elladan and their daughter Arwen. The king and queen here were Celebrían’s grandparents and Finrod was her uncle.

What was really kind of freaky about it was how they all looked to be in their twenties or early thirties.

She had gotten used to it of course; she had even gotten used to living here, more or less. At some point – maybe after her fifth year of living here – it had become ‘home’.

That didn’t mean Buffy didn’t miss her family and friends in Sunnydale, though. But she was starting to believe that she really never would see them again.

“Finrod, how did the hunt go?” Farfarin inquired as he broke a loaf of rosemary bread and began passing it around the table. The king’s silver hair glinted at the crown of his head from the sunlight streaming through the open window, making him appear regal even while just passing a plate of food.

“The does are in heat so there were many bucks out. We were able to bring home a fine amount for the city, enough to last us for at least half a season,” Finrod explained as he helped himself to some vegetables.

“A fine amount, only because I’m better than you at the bow,” Buffy smirked as she slathered butter on her rosemary bread.

Finrod, who had perfected the art of irritated facial expressions thanks to Buffy’s influence, arched an eyebrow. “Better than I? You jest, titta wendë.”

Buffy’s lips reared back in a sneer. “I told you years ago to stop calling me ‘little maiden’.”

Chuckling, Finrod just gazed at her in amusement. “And I told you years ago that your skills will never match mine.”

“Well, yeah,” Buffy admitted with a roll of her eyes. “But only because I’m not super old and gross.”

“What is ‘gross’,” Eärwen asked.

Buffy’s lips twitched. Without direct translations for all her Cali-ness, sometimes she slipped back into English. “It means…unwashed, I guess is the literal translation.”

“I’m not unwashed,” Finrod snorted in indignation.

“Only because you spend so much time shampooing and brushing your poncy hair,” Buffy smirked.

“My hair is not bloody poncy!” Finrod bristled.

Over the years Buffy had managed to teach the elves some of her words as well. Finrod rather liked ‘bloody’. Missing Giles and even, though she hated to admit it, Spike, had inspired her to teach that British-ism.

“Please,” Buffy snorted. “You look like you’re from a Pantene commercial.”

“Pantene?” Finrod repeated in confusion.

Celebrían hid a smile behind her napkin. Buffy had already told her the meaning behind that phrase after the two watched a group of male elves having an archery contest.

“Honestly, you two always bicker,” Farfarin commented dryly, so used to meals passing like this, as he began to cut into his venison. “I feel sorry for the other elves who join you on your hunting trips.”

“As you should, Father, for our little maiden has an incessant tongue,” Finrod agreed.

“Hey!” Buffy exclaimed. Pausing from cutting her own strip of venison, she wagged the knife in the air. “Don’t make me come over there.”

Finrod laughed. “Just eat your lunch, titta wendë. You will need all your strength for your celebration tonight.”

“True,” Buffy agreed. She cast them all a sly glance. “I’m sure my hands will get tired from unwrapping all the prezzies.”

“Buffy,” Farfarin stated in his most regal voice. “Your mutilation of our language does terrible things to my ears.”

Remembering that Giles once said something similar to her, Buffy smiled. She liked to be reminded of her past in little moments – remembering them all was important to her.

“And your thirty-fifth begetting day is not very large – it is at the age of fifty that we elves celebrate an elfling’s ascent into adulthood. So do not expect many ‘prezzies’, my yeldë,” Celebrían informed her fondly.

Celebrían was…amazing, to be honest. If there was one person in Buffy’s entire life that she considered a parental figure after her mom and Giles, it was Celebrían. So Buffy liked it when she called her ‘daughter’ in Quenya.

“But I am am adult in human years,” Buffy grumbled as she stabbed a piece of venison with her fork – okay, so maybe her tone was a bit as petulant as a child’s, but she couldn’t help it. Sometimes it got really annoying when others knew her age and treated her like a teenage child.

“Indeed you are,” Eärwen said smoothly. She may not look like it, but she was definitely a grandmother-type. “You have to forgive us, Buffy. You are the only human that many of us have seen in our entire lives. While Finrod and Celebrían at one time lived in Aman and associated with humans, most of us have not. Your age and youth can be deceptive.”

Buffy smiled. She appreciated Eärwen’s diplomatic words. It was understandable why her presence threw off so many of the elves. Celebrían had grown up in Middle-Earth, in the forests of Lothlórien. Finrod had grown up here in Valinor but he had sailed to Aman with his brothers a long time ago; once he died his soul passed into Mandos Hall and eventually he was resurrected back in Valinor to reunite with his family.

Yeah, Buffy didn’t get it either. Apparently the Vala were more involved in this world than the Powers That Be were in hers. There was this whole thing were elves were immortal – immune to sickness and disease – and if they were killed in battle their soul went to this great hall where a Vala named Námo judged the dead. Once he had deemed them all done with the judgment, they were reincarnated in Valinor.

Totally weird…but cool. Buffy didn’t know anything about Heaven or what would happen when she died, so it was interesting to hear about post-death experiences. Of course, when Celebrían explained that it was a mystery what happened to humans after death – the elves only knew about their own race – well, that hadn’t been a pleasant revelation.

Speaking of death and age…Buffy had to talk to her mentor.



They strolled through the main Tirion market, looking for flowers to purchase as gifts for tonight’s guests. It was tradition for begetting celebrations to include a gift of a flower in the hair for each guest. Flowers represented different colors and the honoree of the evening would weave the flower into each person’s hair – which that act in itself was always nerve-wracking for Buffy because these elves took their hair seriously and she was always afraid of tangling up people’s hair.

Red flowers were reserved for family by blood, but Buffy didn’t have any of those here (that reminder was always hard on her begetting days). Pink was for other family not by blood, blue for close friends, and white for other guests – with the idea that the white could darken to blue because it was always possibly for other guests to become close friends. Purple, Buffy did not need to worry about, because that was reserved for a significant other.

And boy, did Buffy not have one of those.

Not that she didn’t…enjoy herself upon occasion. Originally Buffy had assumed that the elves would be very conservative once she discovered how old they were. Later she found out that unmarried elves were quite alright ‘sharing the pleasures of the body’ with each other. This idea was nothing different from her American life, so Buffy had gotten used to the concept. Elves were fortunate in that men and women could, through deep meditation, only become fertile when they wanted, so there was no chance of unwanted pregnancies – yay! Plus elves were unable to become diseased, so that was another plus.

It wasn’t like Buffy was shacking it up like Hooker McHookery here in Valinor or anything. Actually, she was pretty conservative in comparison to the elves when it came to sex. The elven men who she did sleep with were always flirtatious acquaintances or even friends, but nothing more.

It was a bit hard to get a guy to like you when he was anywhere from two to ten-thousand years older than you. Buffy could never develop deep relationships with a male.

Except for Finrod. Although he had been skeptical of her in the beginning, he had become more accepting after spending more time with her practicing her fencing. Eventually, they became hunting partners and friends. But while they were fairly close and Buffy did harbor a crush on him, there was always a sense of aloofness with Finrod. It wasn’t atypical of the elves, especially the older ones, to behave that way, but it was annoying.

Basically, she had decided a while back not to even try anything with him – not even any ‘friends with benefits’ deal like she had with a couple males in the city. It would be awful if she ever made things awkward with them.

Celebrían squeezed Buffy’s hand as they walked around a florist vendor’s wagon (holding hands and touchy-feely-ness was pretty common among family members with the elves). They stopped in front of a display of purple passion flowers. “What do you think, Buffy? Are you considering a purple flower this year?” Her eyes twinkled. “Or perhaps even more than one?”

Letting out an audible sigh, Buffy gave the stupid purple flowers a dirty look. “No,” she sighed forlornly. “I gave up any hope of a romantic life once I realized I was stuck here.”

Pressing her lips together, Celebrían tried to hide the sadness that flickered across her face.

“Not that I don’t love being here with you!” Buffy explained quickly as she gave her mentor’s hand a squeeze. “I just…well, I don’t really see any immortals tying themselves down to a human.”

Celebrían nodded her head. “I know. You are in a difficult situation, my child.” Her voice dropped an octave. “Sometimes I wonder if I am being selfish.”

Curiosity lit within Buffy. Celebrían was one of the nicest women Buffy knew – like a combination of Buffy’s mom mixed with Tara. “How could you ever be selfish?” Buffy asked lightheartedly.

A shadow passed over the elf’s face. “I have kept you with me, here in the realm of the elves, when a moral person would send you across the sea to live with your own race, where you could have a husband and children.”

Balking at her suggestion, Buffy shook her head. “Trust me, a husband and children is something that was never a priority for me. Even in my own world I was too busy with slaying to really even consider it an option.”

Grey orbs gazed into Buffy’s eyes. “It may not have been an option when the safety of the world fell on your shoulders, but do not say it is not a dream. I have observed you when you spoke of Angel and Riley, Buffy. A ‘normal’ life is something you have always craved.”

Fidgeting uncomfortable, Buffy dropped Celebrían’s hand and crossed her arms. “Yeah, but it’s not something I’ll ever get,” she stated bitterly. Shaking her head, Buffy’s next words came out in a lighter tone. “But it’s just how it is. No big. At least there are no more prophecies about my death or Hellgods trying to kill my sister.”

Frowning, Celebrían brushed her hand through Buffy’s long hair; after fifteen years it was down to her waist, healthy and strong. “I just want you to be happy.”

“I am,” Buffy shrugged. “I mean, it would be nice if I could figure out how to see my sister and friends again…but things are good here. I’m good. Really. I don’t want to sail across the sea and meet some menfolk.” The thought of that terrified her. Buffy was unwilling to leave her new family and friends, and start all over again. More so, there was a part of her that still prayed her friends would be able to open a portal to this world. She could not leave where she originally arrived. What if they did manage to travel here, only to not be able to find her?

Celebrían nodded. “As you wish, Buffy.”

Things in her life were not perfect…but it was what it was.



Later that afternoon, Buffy was seated at her vanity with Celebrían twisting intricate braids into her hair. Her begetting day celebration would include a dinner and dance her in the palace – the elves may be uppity about their hair but they do love a good party.

“Celebrían,” Buffy began as she once again scanned her reflection. “Have you ever noticed how I still look just as young as I did when I arrived here?”

Pausing in her efforts, Celebrían scrutinized Buffy’s reflection in the mirror. “Hmm, I suppose. But quite honestly I am not used to observing the effects of age.” She stared at Buffy a moment longer. “Are your people long-lived?”

Buffy let out a bout of scornful laughter. “The human-me? Or the Slayer-me? ‘Cuz my slayer side is barely expected to make it to eighteen, much less thirty-five.”

Celebrían gave her an admonishing look. “Again, you speak so negatively about that side of you, Buffy. Being the slayer is clearly part of you. You should not scorn it so.”

Rolling her eyes, Buffy answered back in a sarcastic tone. “The only things I ‘slay’ around here are innocent deer and boars. I mean, you guys don’t even have anything evil here! I’m not much of a slayer anymore.”

After reclaiming her identity after Dracula visited Sunnydale, Buffy had embraced her slayer side. However, it was getting hard to not become bitter. She felt useless. Sure, she contributed to hunting but that wasn’t her Calling. It wasn’t who she was.

Buffy sighed when she saw how disappointed Celebrían appeared. She hated to make her sad. “As for humans, my grandparents lived until they were in their eighties. And my mom definitely started to get grey hairs and wrinkles when she was in her thirties.” Worried, Buffy bit her lip and continued to look at her reflection. “Is something wrong with me, Celebrían?”

Continuing with her braiding and stroking Buffy’s scalp soothingly, Celebrían gave a graceful shrug. “Perhaps it is an effect of living with only elves, I do not know. Perhaps you are aging slower. Or, perhaps it is a gift from the Valar – you are the only human to live in Valinor, after all.”

“Yeah. Maybe.” Buffy shrugged, feeling unsatisfied with the answer.

“As for your desire to be the Slayer again, to hunt dark creatures…” Celebrían trailed off and bit her lip. “I have told you the history of our world, of the Vala Morgoth’s betrayal of Eru, Father of All Things, and his brethren, the other Vala. How darkness covered our land after the extinguishing of the Two Lamps and how Morgoth created many beasts of darkness.”

There was something so fragile about Celebrían’s voice that Buffy’s eyes were instantly drawn to her. “Yes, I remember. Eventually Morgoth was expelled from this realm and imprisoned in another. His evil lieutenant Sauron decided to become the new big bad until your husband, other elves, and men took him out in a big war.” Buffy watched Celebrían’s distressed expression carefully.

Celebrían nodded, her long fingers still running through Buffy’s hair. “But those evil creatures…the orcs,” Celebrían supplied shakily. “They still exist. They still do harm to innocents.” Her grey eyes bore into Buffy’s green ones. “I would not have you face them, child. Never.”

Buffy noted that Celebrían never spoke of why she left Aman – suddenly Buffy had an idea why. “Celebrían, I am the Slayer. If I had to fight them, I would. Besides,” she grinned in order to lighten up the atmosphere, “they can’t be any worse than a crazy hell goddess.”

“I do not doubt your strength, yeldë,” Celebrían assured. “But I would not have you placed in those situations. The orcs…” she shivered and the light in her eyes dulled. “They are evil, wicked creatures.”

So many times Celebrían had comforted Buffy when she missed her friends and family. Now Buffy felt it was time to comfort her friend. Her hand reached up and clasped Celebrían’s. “What did they do to you?”

Eyes downcast, Celebrían replied. “I do not wish to burden you with my story. You are so young and already have borne so much.”

“Try me,” Buffy suggested seriously.

Taking a seat on a nearby plush chair, Celebrían turned her head to make eye contact with Buffy. “I was travelling from Imladris to visit my parents in Lothlórien. My daughter and husband stayed in Imladris and my sons were away travelling with the Dúnedain Rangers patrolling the Shire. I was not alone by any means, but not even the warriors accompanying me were any match for the endless hoards of orcs that attacked us.” Celebrían’s voice wavered.

“Did they…what did they do?” Buffy asked softly.

The ancient elf gave her a tearful look. “They captured me. Held me in their caves. Tortured me. R-raped me…for months.” She looked away. “Eventually Elladan and Elrohir found me, but the damage was done. My fëa was broken. No one could heal me.” Celebrían lifted her head, noticeably calmed. “Arriving to Valinor was the only way to heal me fëa. Nienna nurtured me back to life.”

Giving her a compassionate look, Buffy went over to give her friend a tight hug. “I’m so sorry,” Buffy whispered.

“Thank you,” Celebrían answered softly.

“I’m so glad that the Vala of Mercy actually helped you. I didn’t think they got that involved in people’s lives.” Buffy pulled away and squeezed her friend’s hand.

“Oh, but Nienna was the reason why I came here. I knew the Lady would help me,” Celebrían smiled. “I owe her a great deal.”

Buffy paused, her brain beginning to process something. “So wait, are you two like friends? Like, you actually hang out?”

Celebrían gave her a curious glance. “I see her less regularly during my time of healing. But, I have not seen her since your arrival – otherwise I would have ensured she met you. I think she would have been helpful to you, especially in your first years living here.”

“Yeah,” Buffy answered distractedly. Right not this moment was about Celebrían, not about her. So she would not say anything else on it, but she would wonder why she got yanked here with no way home, and the Vala were on radio silence even though it seemed they actually lived on this island and sometimes interacted with people.

Something weird was going on, and Buffy was going to figure it out.

Chapter Text

A map of Valinor, from the LOTR wikia.


Outside in the great garden of the Tirion palace, the area was becoming thick with elves as Buffy’s begetting party got in full swing. The band of musicians, playing flutes and woodwinds, enchanted the guests into dancing. Those who were hungry were able to choose from venison and wild boar, plus a bevy of breads, fruits, and vegetables. Decked in rich green, blue, and purple clothing, the guests swirling around the room made everything pop with color. Milling around the party and engaging the guests in conversation and dance were King Finarfin and Queen Eärwen, hostesses of this event for their foster great-granddaughter. Celebrían had adopted Buffy as her foster daughter when the slayer was presented to the greater elven society; and now her foster mother stood with Buffy at the entrance to the hall, assisting her daughter with the flowers.

Buffy flexed her fingers, mentally grumbling about how many flowers she was weaving into people’s hair tonight. She knew that it was tradition, but that didn’t mean that tradition didn’t suck sometimes! Fortunately, almost all of the guests had arrived – which was all of Tirion – and Buffy was looking forward to a break.

Spotting Erulissë walking towards the garden entrance, which was comprised of two great trees that bore sweetly scented purple flowers, Buffy grinned and immediately plucked a blue flower from Celebrían’s waiting hands. Erulissë had been the first elf that had been nice to Buffy when she arrived in Valinor and the two had become close over the past fifteen years.

“Hi Erulissë!” Buffy called with a wave.

“Buffy,” Erulissë smiled serenely. She grasped Buffy’s forearms and pressed her forehead against Buffy’s. “Happy Begetting Day.”

“Thanks,” Buffy grinned. She released the elleth and began to weave a blue flower into her hair, right above her left ear. “Enjoy the fiesta!”

A puzzled look crossed Erulissë’s face before she recognized that word as one of the ‘Buffy-isms’ that she had come to know. “Oh I will.” She grinned. “I do believe there are a few elves that I would like to dance with tonight at this ‘fiesta’.” With a wink, she disappeared into the crowd.

“I think that should be about it, yeldë,” Celebrían stated with satisfaction as she glanced around the party. “I will join grandfather. I am sure he will want to officially begin soon.” She left, her deep blue skirt swishing across the soft grass.

Buffy nodded and began to set the spare flowers back on the dark cherry wood table that sat near her.

“What, no flower for me?” a mockingly-sad voice sounded behind her.

‘Finrod!” Buffy exclaimed as she spun around. “I wondered where you were!”

He shrugged loosely. “My training session with the elflings ran long. Iren and Ilsa are more than I bargained for,” Finrod exclaimed with a small smile that quickly grew to a wide grin. “But now I am here. Happy begetting, Buffy.”

Buffy smiled, feeling warmth flood her at his smile. Finrod really did have a fantastic movie star-smile that always made Buffy smile in return. He was dressed-up today in a black tunic and silver=blond leggings; the black tunic contrasted nicely with his light hair that hung loosely over his shoulder, save two long braids that formed at his temples and met in the back.

“Thanks.” Her fingers fumbled for a pink flower – damn, suddenly she really was wishing that she could give him a purple flower. Getting control of herself, she gave him a bright smile and then began to weave the flower into his hair. Finrod smelled of wood and pine; likely from his lessons with the elflings in the nearby woods; and Buffy loved the fresh scent of him. She took extra care with his flower.

“So, where’s my prezzie?” Buffy asked cheekily, getting a hold of herself. She knew that it was no use to like Finrod like that because he had no interest in her, but sometimes she enjoyed the illusion.

He tapped her lightly on the nose. “You are ever irksome,” Finrod stated fondly.

Buffy shrugged and gave him an impish smile. “Well, I figure if you elves don’t even consider me an adult until my fiftieth begetting, than I may as well take advantage of being a ‘child’.”

Finrod paused, his grey eyes glancing quickly over her before he looked at the rest of the party. “Trust me, titta wendë, I do not know many males who are unaware of your adulthood. You have quite a few admirers.”

“Oh yeah? Like who?” Buffy asked boldly.

Finrod turned to hold her gaze for a moment before stiffly replying. “I believe that Arod was just commenting recently on your attractiveness.”

Arod was a pelt merchant that Buffy did a lot of business with after a good hunt. He was handsome with dark black hair and soft lips. They had been with each other on several occasions but Buffy could never imagine being with him in a relationship – nor did she ever think he would actually want such a thing. He was, after all, like a zillion years old and born in the First Age. Just like Finrod, actually.

“Ah.” Buffy nodded, only slightly disappointed that she really had zero effect on Finrod – but she was not terribly disappointed because she never really expected him to ever flirt with her. “Arod is a good guy. A little too into giving me lectures on skinning though.” Buffy shivered in distaste. “I just buy ‘em and he skins ‘em, I don’t need to know anything more.”

Chuckling, Finrod extended her arm. “Come, let Father introduce you.”

Buffy tucked her arm into his and began walking towards the dais at the end of the great garden. She had been surprised at how well the family had taken her in after her arrival. Celebrían told her once that her grandfather missed hearing young voices and that he considered her a gift from the Valar, so he took full control of presenting her to elven society as his foster relative. In fact, few elves celebrated begetting days every year but Farfarin wanted to do so for her – he knew that her human life would be but a blink of an eye to them, so he wanted to make the best of their time together.

Buffy definitely appreciated that…even though it was seriously creepy to think about mortality and even, she bet, how people would probably forget about her after she died – after all, how can an elf who is thousands of years old remember one brief span of eighty years?

Whatever. Party Face on. Happy times. No melancholy thoughts on her mortality.

After receiving hugs from Finarfin and Eärwen, Buffy was presented to the guests by Finarfin. Every year he gave the same speech about how she was a blessed gift from the Valar who mysteriously appeared one day and how much joy she brought to him and his family. Now, this speech was kind of like a pastor leading a wedding ceremony – you didn’t interrupt or object. Unfortunately, this year was a little different.

A sound like thunder struck the air and all eyes turned towards the sky.

Gasps echoed through the garden as a bird – a really, really, really big eagle – began to descend lower in the skies. It flew across the heads of the guests and paused in the air, wings flapping so hard that Buffy felt like she was next to a helicopter, right in front of the slayer and her extended family. With a wingspan of…oh god, at least a hundred feet, the eagle was the largest bird – no, scratch that, largest animal – that Buffy had ever seen.

“A Great Eagle of Manwë,” Finarfin gasped in awe. Slowly, each elf bowed their heads in reverence, and Buffy quickly followed suit, eyes furtively glancing around in attempt to figure out what the heck was going on.

A space had cleared for the eagle and he lowered himself to the ground. Scared at what this creature was, Buffy grabbed Celebrían’s hand and held tightly. Her mentor gave her a reassuring look, and Buffy faced the eagle again.

“Quildaraumo,” Finarfin greeted, pressing his fist across his chest. “How may we serve Manwë, King of Arda?”

Buffy’s eyes bugged out. The elves here took their gods and goddesses seriously and Celebrían had taught her all about the Valar. Manwë was the high king of the Valar and apparently resided on Mount Taniquetil, the highest mountain in the world. Buffy could see the mountain from her window.

The bird – who had a name, which Buffy thought was weird – fixed his eye upon Buffy…and spoke. His voice was soft and flowed softly like a leaf in the warm summer air.

“Manwë has ordained that the Slayer Buffy Summers must travel to Mandos Hall to meet with Námo and Vairë. She must make the journey this night and travel swiftly.”

First, Buffy was in shock from hearing a bird talk and next she was like “Wait, what?”

The bird just stared back at her. She got the feeling he wasn’t used to being questioned. Which was totally weird because he was a bird.

Celebrían gasped quietly and squeezed Buffy’s hand tighter. Buffy turned to here, wanting direction. “Wait, what does this eagle guy mean? Isn’t Námo your version of Death? Of the Grim Reaper? Shouldn’t I not be meeting with him for another, oh, say, eighty years or so?” Buffy asked frantically.

“Shh, , yeldë, it will be alright,” Celebrían reassured. She glanced towards her grandparents, as if seeking her own affirmation.

“Manwë’s will must be done,” Finarfin declared grimly, as if he liked the idea of sending his foster great-granddaughter to Mandos’ Halls any better.

Buffy shook her head and stared sternly at the eagle, Quildaraumo. “I don’t jump when someone says jump. Authority figures and me? Not a good Buffy mix.” Her eyes sought out the heavens, mildly wondering if these Valar guys were watching. “What does Námo want, anyways?”

The eagle flapped his wings once, sending a shock of wind through the crowd, causing Buffy to almost stumble backwards. “That is the business of Lord Námo and Lord Manwë,” Quildaraumo declared, his voice raw with power. It was almost as if Buffy could feel his connection to the higher powers leak into the air.

“Buffy, you must go,” Finarfin urged quietly. “You cannot disobey the Lord of the Skies. Consider this a request. If you disagree, he can easily make it a demand.”

Stubbornly, Buffy set her lip. She was not the kind of person to do something just because the Great and Powerful Oz told her to do it. Plus, she really had no interest in dying or anything.

Finrod’s hand brushed against her back and she turned to him. “Buffy,” he whispered in a low voice. “The Valar are the only one who can help you and give you some answers – since you arrived we’ve all prayed to the Valar for guidance in helping you get back to your family. Perhaps now you can find answers.”

Staring into his eyes, she could help but feel some of that certainty that he obviously felt. “Okay…I guess that would be a good plan.” She smiled wryly. “I can make it.”

Finrod maintained eye contact for a moment longer, pressing his lips together in deep thought. Finally he turned to Quildaraumo. “May she have a travel companion?”

Quildaraumo cocked his head to the side and gazed thoughtfully at the elf. “That would be permissible.” Then, without further words, he flapped his wings, and set off into the sky.

The entire garden was quiet as each guest stared at Buffy. While it was common for the Valar to visit with the elves, Námo was known for his silence over the millennia. He rarely interacted with any race of Arda, save Lady Lúthien in her quest to have her lover Beren returned to her – or at least, that’s what the stories said.

Buffy gulped, feeling incredibly self-conscious.

Noticing this, Finrod shot her a playful smile. “Happy Begetting Day, Buffy.”

Having a sudden epiphany, Buffy let out a quiet groan. “Great. The birthday curse traveled to this dimension, too.” She frowned thoughtfully. “At least there are no arms in wrapped presents this time.”

Finrod just gave her a strange look, wondering what sort of begetting day celebrations they had in Buffy’s dimension.



Hoisting her backpack on, Buffy gave Celebrían a bright, reassuring smile as they stood outside the Tirion palace. “Don’t worry, emmë. I will be fine. Besides, I’ve got big bad Finrod to help take care of me,” she smirked.

The elf in question, already ready with a pack of supplies and a bow and quiver on his back, gave her a grim smile.

“My yeldë,it is just…I worry for you. Save those who died and passed through his halls, I only know of Beren and Lúthien, Elrond’s ancestors, who have met with Lord Námo and left unmarked.” Celebrían frowned. “You must be on your best behavior. Your tongue is too sharp and you can be belligerent with authority. Do not toy with Lord Námo in such a way, or you may never return to me.” Blinking back tears, her foster mother gave her a soft smile and kissed Buffy’s forehead. “Be safe,” she whispered as they embraced.

“Do not fret, niece,” Finrod said. “Lord Námo is fair.”

Celebrían nodded gravely. “I do suppose you would know, uncle.”

Buffy flinched. She had totally forgotten about that! “Finrod!” she exclaimed. “You’re not going to get in trouble if you come with me? I mean, I would hate if Námo was all like ‘oh, time to hang out in my halls again until it is time to be reborn – again’!’”

Sighing painfully, Finrod shook his head. “My time there…is not something I want to – or can – speak of. But the Lord of the Dead is a fair one, Buffy. I am not worried.”

“Okay,” Buffy said uneasily. She really didn’t trust powerful god-types. They were usually evil.

The journey to Mandos Hall was about a two day ride. If they left tonight and rode until nightfall, they would may be able to hasten their journey. Not that Buffy was all ‘yay, let’s hurry and meet the Valar’ but after thinking on Finrod’s words, she knew he had a point. This was her chance to ask how to get home.

Technically, the ride to Mandos was almost a straight shot. However, because of the Pelori Mountains, the journey required difficult travels because the path was so convoluted, carved into the mountains long ago. She and Finrod rode through the passes in silence, with no noise except the sounds of hoofbeats against the rocky ground. Buffy’s horse had been a begetting day gift from, incidentally, Finrod this year, presented right after the eagle had left. A sleek chestnut brown mare, Buffy’s horse “Dorothy”, amazing. Sure, Buffy hated riding at first (her THIGHS, oh god did they hurt afterwards) but she got used to it and now was even excited to ride because in the past couple hours, she and Dorothy got along famously.

Of course, she would kill for a Corvette.

They made camp a few hours later in a narrow area of the passage and Finrod started a fire as Buffy tethered the horses. Traveling together was old hat for them thanks to their many hunting trips, usually with large groups but not always. After Finrod had gotten used to her presence in Valinor fifteen years ago, he took it upon himself to train her in hunting and warfare. Trips like this were just another aspect of that training.

Plucking some apples out her bag, Buffy began to feed the horses. “Here ya go, Alaco,” Buffy said as she offered an apple to Finrod’s black stallion. Its name meant ‘wind’ in Quenya which Buffy thought suited the athletic horse nicely. Moving on to her mare, Buffy patted her neck. “And here you go, Dorothy,” Buffy cooed.

Sue her. Her mother had never allowed her to have pets and after learning about Angel’s past she had been too afraid to have one. Henceforth, she was going to give her precious Dorothy lots of love.

The fire now crackling, Finrod rolled his eyes. “Dorothy is not a suitable name for a Meara.”

Buffy gave him a mock-scandalized look. “Dorothy is perfect!” Buffy nuzzled her mare’s neck. “Isn’t that right, girl?”

Dorothy whinnied in happiness. She loved her already.

“Besides,” Buffy grinned. “You gave her as a gift and said I could name her whatever I pleased.”

“I did not think you would name her in your native tongue, something that is so dull in comparison to the remarkable abilities of a horse descended from Felaróf,” Finrod commented dryly. He never really approved of her using the language or ways of her native world. To him, she lived in Valinor and thus should live according to the ways of life here.

“I’ll have you know,” Buffy sniffed haughtily, “that she named after Dorothy Hamill, only the greatest ice skater ever.” Buffy may not have the haircut anymore, but that didn’t mean she still didn’t love Dorothy Hamill and all things ice skating. Too bad there were no places to go ice skating here – or any that she had found, anyways.

“You are so strange,” Finrod murmured as he broke a loaf of bread and handed her half. Buffy took it and sat next to him near the fire. “You are unlike the humans I have previously met.”

Buffy’s ears perked up. Finrod didn’t speak often about his past – elves rarely spoke about past events, especially if it was from before their reincarnation. Erulissë has explained it once that elves lived so long that it would not do for them to live in the past, thus they only brought it up if it was necessary.

“Do you mean the humans you met in Middle-Earth?” Buffy inquired curiously. After learning about Morgoth’s Fall, Sauron’s rise and fall, and the fall of the great race of men through her history lessons with Celebrían, Buffy was curious about the land on the other side of the sea.

Finrod turned to her, the firelight making his silver hair glow ethereally and his eyes appear bright. “Yes.”

Buffy grimaced. Trying to get elves to talk about things was seriously more difficult than dealing with cryptic Angel. “Well, what were they like?”

“Two arms, ten fingers,” Finrod replied. His grey eyes glinted with amusement.

Annoyed Buffy swatted him on the shoulder. “Stop,” she demanded.

Swiftly, Finrod clutched her hand. “Titta wendë, please do not make me again demonstrate the inferiority of your fighting abilities with mine. I would hate to see the tears fall upon your cheeks upon your loss.” He smiled sweetly.

Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “Hey, give me some thousands of years and I could totally win. Actually,” she grinned, “I have won tons of sparring matches already, and I’m only thirty-five. I reckon by the time I’m a hundred, I could totally wipe the floor with you every day.”

Laughing, Finrod released her hand and leaned back on her arms, pressing his palms to the rocky ground. “Perhaps,” he smiled.

Satisfied, Buffy smiled and returned to her meal. Tonight they had venison, bread, and red berries – a decent travel meal. One thing was for sure, there was no way someone could live in Valinor and get fat. The food here was the healthiest ever.

They sat in silence – with Buffy mulling on her upcoming meeting – until the fire began to die out. It was a warm evening so they did not need the fire to keep warm during the evening. The stars were bright and the moon almost full, which was the only light they needed. To be honest, Buffy noticed that the elves preferred their land to not have lamps on during the night, in order to better watch the stars. They were really into star-gazing, or something.

“To answer your earlier question, the humans I met in Middle-Earth are most likely different from the sort that roam the land now – if the tales from Celebrían and other recent immigrants to Valinor are correct,” Finrod finally spoke, his voice soft.

“Oh yeah? How so?”

Finrod shrugged, a movement that was remarkably gracefully on him than compared to mere human movement. “When I travelled over the sea with my brethren, extensively travelling with my younger brothers Aegnor and Angrod and my younger sister Galadriel, I befriended members of the House of Bëor, as did my brother Aegnor. I learned their language, Taliska, and I taught them Sindarin. They were a noble people.”

Buffy’s brows furrowed in puzzlement. “Why teach them Sindarin when you could have taught them Quenya?” After teaching her Quenya, Celebrían had gone on to teach Buffy Sindarin as well. However, no one here really used that language.

“The High Language is akin to a holy language for us, Buffy,” Finrod stated seriously. “It is not meant to be used by everyone.”

“Then why me?”

“Because you are here, in the Final Realm of the Elves. If you are here, then there must be something special about you, and thus as my Father ordained, you are deserving of knowledge normally reserved for only the elves.”

“Gee, glad I’m special-gal,” Buffy said, knowing that learning Quenya may be an ‘honor’ but still feeling all of a sudden anxious about remembering how she was heading to see one of the important Vala dudes who maybe would have something different to say about her being special.”

“Indeed.” Finrod studied her closely, sometimes Buffy disliked how he stared at her – it always felt like he could see into her soul at these moments. And she didn’t know if she liked that idea.

“Anyways, so what were the humans like? Did you have any friends?” A sly look entered her eye. “Any girlfriends?”

Not that Buffy wanted to hear about any of Finrod’s previous romantic entanglements, but it would be interesting to know if he ever fell for a human before…and by interesting she meant good.

“I had friends. Barahir, who saved my life at the Battle of the Sudden Flame. His son Beren, who I sacrificed my life for in exchange for Barahir’s actions.” The light in Finrod’s eyes lessened and Buffy disliked how she made her friend feel sad, but curiosity pushed her farther.

“Wait, Beren? Like Beren and Lúthien? The Romeo and Juliet of the elves?” Buffy asked in excitement…she was beginning to realize something…

Finrod gave her a confused look – she forgot he had no idea who the Shakespearean heroes were. “Yes. Beren and I were imprisoned together by Sauron on the Isle of Werewolves, where he sought to discover our purpose.” Finrod gazed at her curiously. “What thoughts are running through your mind, titta wendë?”

“Well, the stories say that when Beren and Lúthien died, she begged Lord Námo for mercy – and he gave them both a second chance on life in Middle-Earth,” Buffy explained. “So, maybe he won’t be so scary…” Or so Buffy hoped.

Finrod wrapped a friendly arm around her and pulled her tight to his left side. “I understand your apprehension about this journey, Buffy. But I swear to you that Lord Námo is fair. It will be fine.”

His touch made her feel warm; unconsciously Buffy found herself snuggling up closer to him now. The fire was nothing more than cooling embers, and the starry night twinkled above them. “If it will be fine…then why did you ask to come with me if you weren’t worried?” Buffy asked him softly.

Frowning, Finrod raised his eyes to examine the stars. “I am…I was…I suppose I wanted to be here for you as a friend. I cannot predict what Lord Námo may say to you and I want you to have someone to speak with afterwards, if you need it.”

“Oh.” Sometimes she couldn’t figure out Finrod. There were times where he made her feel just like family, like a friend. And then there were times like now, how he held her and how his fingers trailed gently over her arm, which made her think something different.

It wasn’t until she was almost asleep that she realized Finrod never said yes or no to the girlfriend question.

Chapter Text

Two Trees of Valinor, retrieved from Tolkien Gateway Summary of art: This depiction by Roger Garland is whimsical and bright, as Tolkien would have appreciated. On the left is Laurelin the Golden with beautiful intricate blossoms. On the right stands Telperion, often called the "Eldest of Trees." This portrayal seems to show the trees during the mingling of the lights;a time of "day" when the light of both trees shone together. In the background rise the mighty Pelóri, the great mountain range raised by the Valar to protect their land. According to this work the trees are quite massive, whereas others have depicted them as the size of normal trees. One very interesting component of this painting is the Stonehenge-like ring about Ezellohar, the mound of the trees. While this is not necessarily canonical, it certainly emphasizes how ancient the trees are. 

 


Buffy and Finrod rode hard the next morning. Mearas were horses with almost miraculous abilities. Not only could they understand human/elven speech, but they possessed remarkable speed and stamina.

At mid-morning they stopped along a small hill that was blackened, as though burned. Although the sun shone brightly above them, the air felt cooler here. Sadness clung to the air and Buffy shivered in response.

“What is this place?” Buffy whispered. “This doesn’t feel like any other part of Valinor.”

The horses whinnied in response, shooting their owners fearful looks.

Finrod walked to the edge of the hill, stopping where the green grass of the meadow met the darkness of the scorched earth. “This hill is called Ezellohar. Before the First Age, there were the Two Trees of Valinor. Telperion gave off a silver light in the night and Laurelin was bright golden. They were well-loved by both the elves and the Valar – until Morgoth and Ungoliant destroyed them.”

Buffy nodded. “I know the story. Wasn’t the sun and moon created from them?” Truth be told, Buffy had a hard time believing that the sun was made from Laurelin’s fruit and that Telperion’s last flower became the moon. Heck, back home she didn’t even believe that some guy really parted a giant sea or that god was real and had a kid. Still…she had seen a lot in her short life and knew the elves truly believed the old tales. Considering that most of them were at least five thousand years old, they probably even were witnesses to the old tales.

“Yes,” Finrod nodded gravely. “After Ungoliant the Great Spider poisoned the trees, the ground turned back. It is a memorial now.” He knelt down and gazed up at her. “Here. Pray with me as we pay our respects,” he requested as he held his hand out.

Nodding, Buffy took his hand and knelt down next to him.

“Great Eru Ilúvatar, Maker of this World, Father of All, we pay our respects to Telperion and Laurelin, the Two Trees of Valinor. We thank you for the gift that you granted Arda when You created them, and we mourn their loss at the work of the Unspeakable One. We give thanks to Lady Yavanna Kementári and Lady Nienna for providing us with the sun and the moon and rescuing a small bit of the Two Trees. We humbly pay our respect for all of Your work.”

After a moment of silence, Buffy blinked her eyes open. She was never exactly nature-gal but she knew the elves were, and she had picked up a few of their traits along the way. Tentatively, Buffy pressed her hand to the blackened earth – and stifled a gasp. Instantly sorrow and pain shot through her mind and tears were falling down her cheeks. She saw gold and silver waxing and waning until they were ripped apart and swallowed whole by the most terrifying, largest spider of Buffy’s life.

There was warmth on her elbow and Finrod gently pulled her away and into his arms. “Shh, titta wendë, shh. I’m sorry, I should have warned you.”

“Warned me what?” Buffy sniffled.

“This land is dead and cannot be touched. It is filled with Morgoth’s evil, a scar on Valinor that is everlasting. To touch it is to bear witness to its tragedy. It is possible to weaken one’s fëa if they are not careful,” Finrod explained, his voice laced with regret.

Buffy leaned against him, trying to push away the grief that had filled her heart. She always felt so small with Finrod – he was slightly over a foot taller than her, with a firm chest and muscled arms forged from years of archery and sword work. Most of the time she hated it, because she hated him having the upper hand during their sparring matches. But moments like now, she liked it. Because he made her feel safe.

She fingered the soft fabric of his dark green tunic, trying to forget the sadness of the Two Trees and focusing instead on Finrod’s warmth. On his woodsy scent. On his heart beating inside his chest, steadily at first but increasing in pace as her hand moved to run through his long blond hair, so fair it was better to call it silver.

“Are you alright?” Finrod asked softly.

Hearing his words made her remember why she was so upset in the first place, so Buffy shivered and pulled tighter against him. Her face furrowed in the crook of his neck. “No,” she breathed quietly as she thought about how Morgoth and Ungoliant’s poison leaked through the innocent earth. It was like, upon her touch, the earth itself had cried out to her, lamenting its fate.

Finrod continued to hold her, brushing her hair with his hands. Finally, Buffy raised her head and attempted a watery smile. “I’m sorry,” she told him, her face just a few inches from his. “I shouldn’t have let it overtake me like that. That was…weakness,” Buffy added with a frown. In the back of her head, the slayer within snapped at how Buffy’s moment of weakness could have been deadly had enemies been around – hadn’t she learned not to touch mystical things?

“It is fine,” Finrod reassured, his fingers running through her hair again. “The touch of that cursed land would take down any man or elf.”

“But still—” Buffy protested weakly.

“No,” Finrod disagreed. “Buffy, you have one of the brightest and strongest fëar that I have ever seen in my life.” He cupped her cheek. “You are not weak.”

His words and his touch produced fire and suddenly Buffy was so tired of pretending she didn’t want Finrod. It was a game that had gone on too long. Besides, she was about to go see the Lord of Death and maybe she wouldn’t come back home to Tirion alive. So what if he didn’t like her? Hadn’t she told Willow at one time to ‘carpe diem’ it up and tell Xander about her feelings?

Heart pounding in her chest, Buffy wet her lips. “Finrod, I…I’m only strong because I have you.” She stared into his eyes, marveling at the depths of his grey eyes.

Finrod stilled, but his hand was still on Buffy’s cheek. “Buffy,” he whispered, his tone a warning. “We…”

But Buffy didn’t care. Carpe diem time.

She moved forward, her lips pressing against Finrod’s and her hands traveled along his shoulder blades, down his back, and through his hair. She was surprised, excited, and relieved when he returned the kiss. His tongue brushed against the opening of her lips, and Buffy moaned as she let him in, feeling him explore her mouth. His hands moved smoothly down the curve of her spine, cupping her bottom and pressing her closer to him. Heat flared through her and she clung to Finrod even tighter. “Finrod,” she gasped as she felt him harden against her. She wanted him, god did she want him.

So it felt like being splashed with cold water when Finrod suddenly pulled away and stood up, slightly shaking from the adrenaline, and began pacing.

Panting from the exertion of that kiss – that had been a hell of a kiss! – Buffy stared at him in surprise. “Wha-what is it?”

Slapping his hand to his forehead, Finrod shook his head. “Buffy, I am terribly sorry. Please forgive me.”

“For-forgive you?” Buffy exclaimed incredulously as she stood up. “For what?”

Finrod ceased his pacing and began very still as he gazed down at her. “That was not honorable. I should not have done that.”

“Finrod, what?” Emotions were running hot through Buffy and she almost felt feverish by the hot-cold treatment. “There was nothing wrong with that. We were just kissing. And, it’s not like the elves are Mormons – you guys do plenty of things with people you’re not married to. So, this was not not-honorable.”

“We should get going.” Finrod moved to his horse Alaco, but Buffy stepped into his path.

“Finrod, I don’t get it. What is going on?” Buffy was angry and hurt – it had taken quite a few years of living in Valinor to get over all the mental damage Angel and Riley had left her with, and she wasn’t about to let some other dude she liked be a jerk again. She pressed an open palm against his chest and spoke in a softer tone. “Just talk to me.”

Finrod’s eyes dimmed with regret. His hand covered hers. “Buffy, it is not honorable that I kiss you like that, when…”

“When?” Buffy prompted.

“When I feel the way I do, and you feel the way you do. It will not work.”

Buffy bit her lip slightly at the revelation he knew how she felt about him – she wondered how obvious it had been. Her feelings for him had grown as the years passed, but only finally cumulated to this very strong…feeling…towards him over the last two years.

“And how exactly do you feel?” Buffy asked.

Finrod looked away. “Buffy, I don’t think my answer will help this situation.”

Something sharp speared into her heart and Buffy pulled away from him. “Oh. Okay.” Of course. He didn’t feel that way for her. Of course. God! Who had she been kidding? He was at least six thousand years old, had born witness to wars and travels and so many things. She was like a child. No, to him she was a child. No wonder he couldn’t feel that way for her.

Buffy turned to go towards Dorothy. “Buffy!” Finrod called desperately. “I don’t mean—”

“You’re right,” Buffy said without turning, her tone mechanical. “We should get going. It wouldn’t do to be late to Mr. Death Guy’s house.” She hopped onto Dorothy and spurred her horse on without a second look back. She heard Finrod catching up to her, but she urged Dorothy to at least stay several paces ahead of Finrod.

She didn’t want him to see her crying.

Chapter Text

Chapter art was created by Moon-Blossom at DeviantArt. Moonblossom is a very talented artist, especially with LOTR images. I invite you to check out the website!



It wasn’t until nightfall that they stopped for good and set up camp. The ride to Mandos Hall the next day would take only a few hours – they were incredibly close but too exhausted to continue on. Even though Buffy would have loved to go see the Valar now because she would pay anything to get away from under Finrod’s scrutinizing gaze.

Buffy went through her duties mechanically – tethering the horses, setting up the bedrolls – and Finrod prepared dinner.

“We will arrive there by lunch tomorrow,” Finrod announced once they began eating dinner later on. His tone was unsure; he knew that Buffy was upset with him.

“Mmm-hmm.” Buffy chewed some smoked venison and stared into the fire.

“Buffy, we should talk. I know I’ve made you upset—” Finrod began in a docile tone.

“—Upset? No, I’m fine,” Buffy contradicted in a false bright voice. She was so insanely embarrassed at how she had thrown herself at Finrod that she wanted desperately to forget this had ever even happened.

“Buffy,” Finrod said pointedly. “If you were fine then you would be looking into my eyes right now.”

She did turn to look at him but she didn’t look into his eyes. Everyone knew that elves of certain lineages possessed special abilities. Celebrían had described that her mother Galadriel could read thoughts and have visions; while Celebrían could not read thoughts she did have visions. Buffy knew this because Celebrían would sometimes have visions about her daughter Arwen and cry, because she knew Arwen would become sundered from Valinor – but how, Buffy did not know.

So it made sense that if Galadriel had powers her older brother might too. Finrod swore he wasn’t anything special but she wasn’t going to look into his eyes and let him read her, no sirree.

Which got her thinking, by the way, of how crazy she was to have a crush on Finrod, the brother of Galadriel, Celebrían’s uncle. God, these elvish weird generational things were weird. Celebrían was like her mother. See, it was just bad news to like her ‘mother’s’ uncle.

Except…Buffy did. And honestly, she really didn’t care that he was Celebrían’s uncle. It wasn’t like he was an old looking creepy kind of uncle – he looked twenty-five, tops.

Noticing her refusal to look at him, Finrod sighed. “I’m going to tell you a story.”

Buffy’s ears naturally perked up; her curiosity was insatiable.

“When I lived in Middle-Earth, I often visited the House of Bëor. There was a mortal there that I befriended, a woman named Andreth by her people and called Saelind by the elves.”

Something cold and painful crawled into Buffy’s stomach and she turned away quickly. The last thing she wanted to hear about was Finrod’s ex-girlfriend.

“My brother, Aegnor,” Finrod continued cautiously. “He…He fell in love with her, and her with him.” Finrod sighed and Buffy looked over just in time for him to make eye contact. “Their love was beautiful but cursed – for how can an elf love a mortal? Time passes our kind so quickly, and too soon for mortals. Aegnor knew this and he never married her, knowing that it would be best if she married her own kind.”

Buffy crumbled under his words, her shoulders hunching, as she painfully recalled a very similar conversation she once had with Angel. That memory was almost twenty years old yet still frighteningly sharp as glass. Hugging her knees to her chest, Buffy bowed her head as she considered his words, pushing to fight against the immediate sadness that the words spilled into her soul.

Finally, she spoke back to Finrod in a managed and calm voice. “And what ever happened to Aegnor? And Andreth?”

Finrod’s eyes were drawn to the starry night, difficult to see over the bright light of the campfire. “Aegnor died along with my brother Angrod in the Battle of Sudden Flame. Andreth died in that battle as well, during a siege on her city,” Finrod replied in clipped, hollow tones. Speaking of his lost family members was painful and would be, until Lord Námo saw it fit to return his brothers to him in this life.

Pursing her lips, Buffy stared at him angrily. “And the moral of the story is…? You leave the person you love, immortal or not, and you still die. So why not live with each other for as long as you can and be happy?” Buffy honestly wasn’t sure if her anger was purely directed at just Finrod anymore – she wished, understanding herself better as an adult years later, she could have gone back in time and told Angel off for leaving her for ‘her own good’.

“It’s not so simple, Buffy!” Finrod retorted, his jaw tightened. “When elves die, we go through Mandos’ Halls and eventually awaken again. Humans? They are gone. Forever gone. I have no idea what even happens to their fëa after death. I just know that I—that my brother would never see Andreth again, had he taken that path. Can you even imagine how long an after-life could be without the one you love?”

Taken aback, Buffy watched him with wide eyes. Finrod, like most elves, spoke directly but never in long ranting, rambling ways like just now.

“Right, and I bet that Andreth loved that she was spurned from an elf she was in love with, just because he was a coward!” Buffy shouted as she jumped to her feet.

“How dare you?” Finrod questioned in a quiet rage as he stood to his feet to stare at her. “You are speaking of things that you cannot even understand.”

“Oh, I think I understand,” Buffy snapped as she propped her hands on her waist. She took several angry steps towards Finrod, noticing how still he had gone. “Your brother was scared – just like you. Which is ridiculous, because it was just a kiss, and god knows it’s not like I’m asking to get married or anything!”

Immediately Buffy pressed her lips together. She hadn’t expected to be so forward but it had just spilled out.

Finrod cocked his head to the side and stared at her, his face completely unreadable – it was like that was a secret elven power thing because elves had amazing stoic abilities.

“It matters to me,” Finrod confessed quietly. “I would rather we keep our relationship the way it is, Buffy. Before either of us head down a road that will only bring sorrow. Your mortality notwithstanding, you are not from this world and I suspect you will eventually find a way back home. Let us keep it simple.”

Buffy bit her lip, at once both overjoyed that she hadn’t been misinterpreting all the little signs over the years, but also devastated that he didn’t want to explore anything further.

There was a part of her, a very small logical part that she rarely listened to, that told her Finrod was right. Hooking up with immortals was one thing but falling in love was another. They should just remain friends.

Unfortunately for Buffy, in matters of love she never listened to logical-her.

“I don’t care,” Buffy said stubbornly as she marched up to him and laid a hand on his chest. “I live in the now. And now, I want you.”

He started to protest, his eyebrows drawing together and lips pursing to speak, but Buffy silenced him. “You’re the only one who gets the ‘slayer’ side of me and the need to hunt. You’re one of the few people I can joke with and honestly feel like myself around, without worrying about sounding like the ‘weird human’.” Buffy told him with a wry smile. “You…you make Valinor feel like home.”

“Buffy,” Finrod protested as she tilted her head up and licked her lips, readying herself for him. “That is the very problem. You live in the now. I…well, I have many years of ‘now’ and will continue to do so for a very long time.” He tenderly smoothed her hair past her ears. “I cannot…I cannot bear the thought of someday losing you.”

Buffy cupped his cheek, mirroring their positions from earlier today. “Then don’t. Don’t think. Just feel.”

Grey eyes turned stormy, gazing at her intently. Heat radiated from his body, making her flush. Finrod gently grabbed her shoulders as if he was going to pull her against him…but then he stepped away.

“We have a long day tomorrow, Buffy. You must rest in order to prepare for Lord Námo.” Without another word or glance in her direction, Finrod laid down on his bedroll and turned away from her.

Frustrated, Buffy was tempted – sorely tempted – to run over to him and kick him until he actually gave her a proper reason and stopped being a coward.

God! What was wrong with her? She was an idiot, that’s what. Cursed to fall for the idiots who happened to have immortal life spans.

Angry and hurt, Buffy set off away from camp. This land was open plains to the east and woods to the south. Needing to burn off her excess energy, Buffy set off for the woods. She just needed to walk…no, she needed to run.

The leather soles of her boots were quiet against the forest floor. The only sound was her lithe body cutting through the air, causing wind to stir the leaves and small branches of trees. Inhaling through her nose and exhaling through her mouth, Buffy sought to calm her mind using the mediation techniques that both Giles and the elves had taught her.

Finrod had taught her meditation.


Her memory flashed back to that day, not too long ago.

***

“Buffy,” Finrod chuckled. “The intent of meditation is to relax.”

Buffy couldn’t help it. She was feeling all squirrely from being cooped up in the palace for the last week. It had been raining every day – whoever had said Valinor was perfect was so totally wrong, because crops still needed rain and thus there was a good deal of stupid wet rain that sometimes hindered her hunting outings. If she didn’t hate the thought of going out camping in this dreary weather, Buffy would have left already.

“I’m sorry,” she whined slightly. Letting out a huff of air, Buffy dropped her arms to the cool floor of that palace’s training room; the same place that Finrod and her held their second sparring match. Cross-legged, Buffy rolled her shoulders and tried to get some of her energy out. “I just can’t focus.”

“I know,” Finrod said calmly – but Buffy would be damned if she didn’t see a glint of humor in his placid grey eyes. “That is why I chose today to begin your training. It is imperative that meditation can be reached even in the most turbulent conditions.”

“Blah.” Buffy frowned. “Can’t we do something fun? Your dad promised to have his chef work on figuring out how to make chocolate ice cream for me. Let’s go check on that!” she grinned.

“You are the worst student that I have ever had,” Finrod commented drolly.

“Yup,” Buffy smirked. “That’s why you love me.”

A smile tugged on Finrod’s lips but he sought to mask it. “Here. I will assist you.”

“How?”

Finrod stepped behind her and sat down. His legs spread, stretched out on either side of her body, and he began to gently massage her shoulders.

“Mmmm,” Buffy groaned in pleasure. “Good, good.”

“Just relax,” Finrod commanded softly as his deft hands travelled from her shoulders to massaging each of her arms. Shivers ran through Buffy as he moved to rub circles into her back, running his hands up and down.

After perhaps twenty minutes of this massage, Finrod whispered, his lips near her ear. “Now are you more calm?”

Buffy shivered once more at the feel of his warm breath tickling her ear.

And that was when it happened – that had been when she realized she was falling for him, her new friend, mentor, guide.

***

Buffy halted, the force of her movement sending her collapsing on the ground. Instantly she berated herself for being so silly. Here she was, her heart breaking all over again, and she was running in the dark in a strange forest like a fool.

Sniffling, Buffy forced herself to stop. She had to get a grip on herself. After hearing the stories about Lord Námo, she really doubted he was nice to crybaby girls – unless they had an awesome singing voice like Lúthien and could compel him to be nice…and since Buffy’s voice was pretty much the worse sound in Arda (seriously, this is what people told her here. It was like every single dang elf could sing so she was instantly a freak for not being able to), she didn’t think Námo would like her.

Buffy’s hand fished around the ground looking for some fallen leaves so she could wipe away her tears, when a handkerchief floated into her hand. It was a dark twilight blue with silver stars stitched around the edges. Scooting backwards in surprise, Buffy realized she wasn’t alone.

A woman stood near her, cloaked in shadows. Hair as silver as the shining moon framed a fair face that glowed with ethereal power, as if she were a ghost – or an angel. A gentle expression sat upon her face and her dark eyes glittered with unshed tears. She was gorgeous, greater in beauty than any elf met in Valinor, but there was an aura of sadness surrounding her.

Buffy’s throat closed – she was intimidated into silence by the presence of this unknown person. Her fingers clutched the handkerchief and slowly, afraid to even move lest this vision evaporate into thin air, Buffy wiped her eyes free from tears.

The woman gave Buffy a kindly smile. She knelt in the grass across from Buffy and gently trailed down Buffy’s jaw, her touch sending goosebumps flashing across Buffy’s arm.

“So much sorrow,” the woman lamented. She spoke Quenya but it was sounded archaic – it took Buffy’s mind a few moments to properly translate. “Too much sorrow for such a young mortal.”

The woman’s touch brought up a well of feelings from Buffy’s innermost being and she found herself crying again. But this time, she wasn’t just crying about Finrod – she wept for Dawn, for Giles, for Willow and Xander, for Tara and Spike, for her mother who was taken too soon, the father that seemed to forget she even existed, for Faith who was once an innocent, for Kendra who never should have been killed, even for Kendra’s murderer who had been tortured at the hands of Angelus and forcibly turned. Buffy wept for them all, finding compassion for even her most deadly of foes.

Buffy felt the woman’s arms wrap around her and soon their tears mingled together.

Eventually, Buffy cried herself to sleep from exhaustion. But she could have sworn she heard the woman say one more thing, but she was so tired and it didn’t make sense, so she forgot it immediately.

“I told my brother you were an innocent. Have hope, young Slayer. For all that serve will be rewarded.”

 


When Buffy woke up the next morning her back was killing her. Wincing, she rolled off the exposed tree root and gingerly got up, stretching her arms. Her back cracked and she grunted in satisfaction. While she was stretching, her hand touched something soft. Glancing down in puzzlement, Buffy picked up a dark blue handkerchief with silver stars dancing around the edges.

Last night was kind of hazy…she remembered running and then crying….and then the woman.

Buffy sat up straight as the memory hit her. Rubbing her eyes – which were still sore from all that crying – Buffy pondered on how that woman had been able to make her feel all that. That level of compassion…Buffy had even felt bad for Drusilla and even Glory.

“Weird,” she muttered with a shake of her head.

As she got up and began walking – and then jogging – back to where their camp was, Buffy thought on the mysterious woman. It was clear she was more than an elf – which meant she had to be one of the Valar.

Buffy wracked her mind trying to figure out who it was. She had trouble keeping all of the Valar straight since she didn’t really revere them like the elves did. Let’s see…Varda lived with Manwë and was top dog of all the goddess ladies… Vairë was the one married to Námo and since she would be seeing her soon, Buffy doubted it was her… Yavanna was all about plants, not people so it wasn’t her…

Then Buffy remembered – Nienna. The Vala of Mercy. The one who had helped Celebrían with her healing.

Swallowing heavily, Buffy tried to make peace with the fact that she just met a real honest-to-goodness god-person.

 


As soon as she exited the woods, she felt Finrod’s eyes on her.

“I was worried,” he expressed with furrowed brows.

Somehow, Buffy’s heart hurt less when she saw him. She had cried all she was able to, and now felt like maybe it was time to move forward. The logic-y part of her brain was winning out when it came to Finrod – she understood his reluctance, even if she didn’t like it. He was right. It would be cruel for them to deepen their bonds only to endure heartbreak upon death.

She smiled sadly. Maybe, she thought, this was growing up. Whatever Nienna had done last night, it had eased her heart and her mind.

“No big,” Buffy shrugged. Her eyes twinkled. “I was just, ya know, hanging out with one of the Valar. That’s all.”

“Wait. Truly?” Finrod asked in surprise. He nearly dropped the bag of supplies he was tying onto Arod’s back.

“Yeah,” Buffy nodded, a wistful expression on her face. “It was Nienna.” Buffy held out the gifted handkerchief. “She gave me this.”

Finrod came over and gazed at it in awe. “May I?”

Buffy nodded and handed it to him.

Reverence shone on his face and he fingered the fine fabric, disbelieving that it could be real. “By the sea and the stars.” He smiled at her. “Buffy, you have been given a great blessing. Nienna is one of the Aratar, the highest order of the Valar, and the sister of Námo. If she had granted you a token of good favor, then perhaps today will go well for you.”

He handed the handkerchief back and Buffy tucked it into her pants pocket, not wanting for it to leave her person. She gave her friend an earnest smile, feeling peace settle within her soul. “Maybe you’re right.”