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Author: Kaylee Arafinwiel
Title: Encounter at the Temple
Rating: PG
Theme: Hearts and Flowers
Elements: Water Lilies
Author's Notes: The Greenwood Temple is an invention of Emma’s and mine.
Summary: Returning from the War of the Last Alliance without his father, a young warrior sneaks off alone, and tries to take stock of his feelings now he’s fallen heir to all his beloved adar governed before.
Word Count: 562

A lone ellon, cloaked in forest green, walked through the gardens of the Greenwood Temple - the sacred hallow to Eru where their people worshipped the Creator. The statue representing the All-father stood in a courtyard nearby; he paused only briefly to give reverence, not wishing to be stopped or questioned by the priestesses.

Not, he reflected, that they could really question him anymore, even as he drew nearer to the innermost garden, where one might find their high priestess, Elder Aermanis. His memories flew back to a long-ago day where he had sneaked through the hallowed ground with his closest friends. They had been seeking his gwador’s sister, a new acolyte, greatly missed, and been caught.

Now here he was, sneaking again after he promised he wouldn’t. Most Outsiders were never permitted to come this far. And yet…and yet. His heart beat faster as the thrill of rulebreaking washed through him, a shiver of apprehension rushing over him. What would Elder Aermanis say now?

Well, what could she say? It wasn’t as though she could punish him. He wasn’t an elfling anymore. Although to one as ancient as she was…

He laughed the idea off as ridiculous. No, she could not punish him for his behaviour. And yet, he was certainly breaking the rules. Still…
“May I help you, Lord Argil?”

The ellon yelped, spinning round, summer-sky blue eyes wide with shock. His heart was pounding; he stumbled backward, tripping and landing with a splash in the water-lily pool. The Peace Garden itself seemed to disapprove of his interruption.

He sat up, soaking wet, a lily pad perched on his sodden golden hair. The elleth who faced him now was not Elder Aermanis; indeed, the russet-haired, emerald-eyed priestess could not be much older than he, though old enough to impress him with her gaze. She seemed torn between censure and amusement, and he realised she was suppressing the desire to laugh with difficulty.

“I…sorry,” he muttered. She reached out a slender hand, and he grasped it, allowing her to draw him from the pool. He was soaked through and shook the lily pad off his head. “You called me Lord Argil,” he added suspiciously.

“That is one of your names, is it not?” she returned, eyebrow raised.

“Yes, Fainauriel,” he said dutifully. “Though I have only ever heard my Peredhel kinsman speak it. How do you come to know it?”

“It is my business to know things, aran veleg lin,” she replied in the same mild tone, and Thranduil blushed deeply, shifting from one foot to the other. “Such as why my king comes sneaking about my sisters’ demesne alone – again. Veassen is not here this time?”

"No," Thranduil managed, with effort; it was such a small word, but speaking was becoming difficult. He hadn’t intended to engage in conversation. "I came alone. I just...I needed some time."

Fainauriel’s gaze was one of deep sympathy. “Of course,” she replied. “Do not fret, Thranduil. You need not be alone to reign. My sisters and I, among others, are at your service.”

“Thank you,” Thranduil replied. “I will remember.”

Fainauriel nodded briskly. “Now, let’s get you dried off, elfling. Honestly, you look a fright.”

Blushing, Thranduil followed his friend’s sister inside. To his gwedyr’s families, he would always be a child, it seemed, but Fainauriel’s care was a balm to his broken heart.


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