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Don't Panic!  by Boz4PM

Chapter 21 - “The Prodigal Son”

It couldn’t be ignored for any longer. In fact this was now officially designated a ‘Non-Ignorable Situation’. It was revolting and something needed to be done.

Penny was standing in her bedchamber, one arm wrapped round the top of her head, as she inspected her underarms. She had been in Middle Earth nearly six weeks. The hair situation was beyond serious.

It was bath night tonight (that, like clothes washing, was done once a week since it was such a palaver to organise) and she was going to have to broach this one with Mireth, Eleniel or Lady Arwen – whichever of them she ran into first this morning. She was not looking forward to using a cutthroat razor on her armpits, and she suspected she would be covered with cuts afterwards (and no tissue paper to deal with it), but she could not put up with this any longer. Apart from anything else it was making her stink. She had even taken to using the lavender oil under her arms in desperation.

No, there was nothing else for it. She nodded in a determined fashion, dabbed on some lavender oil on her freshly washed armpits, got dressed and strode down to breakfast.

Mireth and Eleniel disappeared straight after eating before Penny could speak to them. She knew Erestor would be waiting for her but she was determined to speak to Arwen first. She waited at her seat, even though she had finished eating and Maura had finished testing her Sindarin, till she saw Arwen get up and go to leave the hall.

Penny stood and rushed after her, “Arwen? Hiril nin? Goheno nin, I need to speak to you.”

Arwen turned and smiled, “Pen-ii! Good morning. You wish to say something to me, my dear? Come, walk with me a little, then. I am on my way to my chambers.”

So Penny fell in step with Elrond’s daughter as they walked down the corridors and up stairs. As they did so Penny tried to explain what she needed. She used her limited Sindarin first of all. “Me. Bath. Washing. Today.”

Arwen smiled, nodded and wondered what on earth Pen-ii was about to ask of her. She knew it could not be her monthly bleeding had returned once more: it was too soon, and besides Mireth and Eleniel had dealt with that situation admirably.

“Go on, Pen-ii. Is there something you need, perhaps?”

Penny checked the corridor to see that no one was near them. She then pointed to her armpit and made shaving motions. Her brows were furrowed as she looked to see if Arwen, standing watching her curiously, had understood her. It was immediately apparent she had not.

“Okay, let’s try this a different way. Ummm. Adan. Edain.” As she said this Penny made ‘shaving’ motions on her face. Arwen nodded. “Me,” she pointed at herself, made the shaving motions again and then pointed to her underarms.

There was a gasped ‘Oh’ from Arwen as the penny dropped. She grinned, nodding, and Penny beamed in relief.

“So you understand me? Thank God! Lady Arwen, I need a razor.” She switched to Sindarin once more as she did the shaving motion again and said, “No there is. My bedchamber. No there is.”

Arwen understood completely. She was surprised and pleased to hear Penny indulged in such a practice. It showed a level of cleanliness and attention to grooming nearly unheard of in humans. Elves would indulge in such a practice if they needed to, but you had to be very old indeed to need to do so. Arwen knew of not a single elf – expect possibly Cirdan – who was old enough.

“I will see what I can do, Pen-ii. We elves do not shave, but I am sure there might be one somewhere here. Indeed there must be for our male human guests when we have them. Otherwise a sharp knife might serve just as well. My chambers, after lunch, Pen-ii.”

Penny nodded, having understood that last part.

So after lunch Penny made her way to Arwen’s chambers, which, while she knew where they were, she had never been inside before. Penny could not help but gasp as she entered them. They were stunning. The walls were painted and the furniture was exquisite. There were two large balconies in the first room, which was much like a sitting room and antechamber and off which was a bedroom as well as another smaller room which Penny could see, through the open door, was a closet and dressing room.

Arwen disappeared into the bedroom for a moment and then returned with a small leather case. She opened it and showed Penny what was inside. A cutthroat razor, the handle made of silver and inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

“For you, Pen-ii. A gift.”

Penny understood ‘gift’. It was a word she had learnt when Mireth had given her the sewing kit and when the carpenter had given her the box. When Erestor had given her the book to write in and her own quill with silver nib he had used the word also.

Penny shook her head, “I can’t, it’s beautiful. Bain, hiril nin. Le hannon, but no you can’t give me this.”

Arwen shook her head in return, “Please take it, Pen-ii. We have several here kept for guests’ use and I am happy to be able to provide you with something you need and will use regularly. It is yours. I will not allow you to refuse me.” She smiled and held it towards Penny insistently.

Penny realised she wasn’t going to win this one. “Le hannon, hiril nin. Really I mean it. Bain. Le hannon.” She took it.

As she examined it, without opening the blade, Arwen could see and sense she was a little nervous. “What is it, Pen-ii?”

Penny, understanding her question looked at her. “I have never used one like this before. Oh... I don’t know how to explain it.” She smiled. “Don’t worry. It’s nothing. I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

‘Yeah, if I don’t slice an artery or something,’ she thought.

Arwen smiled thoughtfully and nodded, realising Penny was trying to convince her everything was alright. Penny thanked Arwen for the razor once more and then went to her own room to put it away before heading off to do some weaving and basketry.

That night she sat in the bath with the leather pouch on the floor beside her. She kept picking it up, opening it, closing it, and putting it back on the floor again. After picking it up for the third time she muttered, “Oh this is ridiculous!” and took the razor from the pouch.

She held it in her hands, nervously. She gently took hold of the blade and opened it out. The blade was... well ‘razor sharp’ funnily enough. It glinted menacingly in the candle and lamp light. Penny suddenly wished she wasn’t doing this in the gloom but in broad daylight. Too late now.

She placed the open razor on the floor, soaped and lathered one armpit then picked up the razor once more.

Her hand was shaking.

She breathed out, slowly, trying to calm herself. She was not quite sure why she was so frightened. Then her brain reminded her there was a reason why the ‘safety razor’ was so-called. Even so, men had used these things for hundreds of years happily enough before safety razors were invented. If they could do it so could she. She steadied her resolve. She tried to stretch her arm up as high and as far back as possible to make it easier. She slowly drew her shaking hand towards her armpit. She hesitated, took a deep breath, and then gently scraped.

OW! Dammit that stung! Ow! Shit! Damn!

She looked. Only part of the hair removed and a small nick that was stinging like buggery. She needed to do it again. At least she hadn’t complete sliced her arm apart. Her hand shook much less the second time, though she still felt nervous.

Once done she lay back in the bath, letting the warm water sooth her stinging skin. She wouldn’t even begin to attempt her legs. Not today. Another day when she felt braver. Perhaps stay hairy for a month or two till she’d got the hang of using this thing on her armpits first. Anyway, hairy legs did not make you smell at least so it was not as urgent as this situation had been. Besides, she was wearing long skirts. No one would know. Not like she was trying to pull. Not like she even wanted to pull anyone. No matter what Boromir may think.

Oh, shit. She’d managed to forget about that briefly. She groaned.

When she got out of the bath she realised she had a problem. She had cuts under both arms and nothing to stop the bleeding. She did not even know what would be used in such circumstances here anyway. Certainly not sticking plasters and she could hardly bandage her armpits on the strength of five tiny (if profusely bleeding) nicks. She had to improvise. It was nearly supper time and she did not have much time. In the end she got out two of her ‘period cloths’ as she called them, lay them over her armpits as she lay back on the bed with her arms stretched out above her. She waited.

Realising what she must look like she muttered, “This is bloody ridiculous.” She shivered. She needed to dress.

Clamping each arm firmly to her sides with the cloths wedged in her armpits she pottered round to the other side of the room to decide which dress she was going to wear. She now had five since the two that had been made especially for her were finished. They were both of heavier material than the others for which she was grateful now winter was truly setting in, but it meant they were buggers to wash being that much heavier when wet, of course. Her strength was building though. All the hand washing, the gardening, the lugging about of water and generally being active was doing her the world of good. She could tell because the water pump outside the latrine was getting easier to use. She giggled remembering Halbarad’s pitying expression and amusement the first time she had struggled with it.

Halbarad. She wondered if he would come back any time soon?

As it was at the end of the first week of December the scouts began to return. Over the coming week Penny began to notice the odd elf or human she did not recognise suddenly sitting amongst them at a meal or wandering past her in a corridor. The men were dressed just as Halbarad had been. Both the elves and men were dishevelled, their clothes stained with travel. The elves managed to look less dishevelled than the men, though, smelt a lot better and had well combed hair, but you could still tell they had been on the road for a bit. Penny giggled as a thought flashed through her head: ‘It seems elves are human after all.’ The men did not stay. Often she saw them at one meal, perhaps two, and then they disappeared once again.

She did not know if Halbarad would come back or send his information with someone else. She tried not to think about him. She definitely did NOT miss him. Nope. Definitely not. No, siree. Not on your nelly did she. She had only known him for nearly a fortnight for goodness sake, so why would she miss him?

One afternoon before dinner she found herself with Gandalf and Legolas as they walked in the garden, enjoying the early stars already visible in the sky. They discovered Erestor and Arwen sitting on a bench in a clearing and the three joined them. It was a rare opportunity for Penny to be surrounding by those who knew her situation and yet be under no pressure to discuss it. Even so the conversation invariably turned to it.

“I understand now how you knew of Smaug and the Battle of the Five Armies, Lady Pen-ii. Your stories did not tell you I was there, I take it.” Legolas seemed intrigued.

“No, I’m afraid not, hir nin. There is no mention of you at all in... in the book that relates of it.” She had nearly said ‘Bilba’s story’ and had only just caught herself in time. Gandalf knowing was one thing, but it was probably better not known for the time being, if at all, by others. Gandalf had sensed it since he flashed her a warning look. The others caught his look but said nothing.

“What we know of you is from the Council of Elrond onwards, really. I only know a little of your father and grandfather. If it wouldn’t bore you terribly, I'd like to know more. In fact,” she turned to the others, “That goes for all of you, really. Erestor, I know nothing of you, really, other than that you are Lord Elrond’s Chief Advisor, and you know, Mithrandir, that there are many things I’d like to know about though much of what I’d want to know you probably wouldn’t want to talk about at the moment.”

They looked at her quizzically. “Such as what, Pen-ii?” Gandalf asked her.

“Dol Guldur, for example. How you knew it was Sauron. I suspect you may never wish to speak of the time you went there, but we have only the barest details of it: what happened between you and Thorin’s father and nothing else.” She could see Gandalf’s face was dark. “As I say, I realise you may never want to talk about such things. It is why I have not asked directly before now.” Gandalf nodded and briefly explained to the others what she had said.

Penny turned to Erestor, “I know Glorfindel fought against the Witchking here in Eriador, but I presume you were there also. Did you see the fall of Arnor? That is another thing we have little information about. We know little of the Second and Third Ages.”

Erestor nodded, his face serious. “I was there, Pen-ii, but with Nazgûl newly abroad I hope you will forgive me if I say I cannot speak of such things at this time. Perhaps, if Eru permits, after the war.”

Penny said nothing but nodded. “I understand,” she then said in Sindarin. They smiled at hearing her use their language, but they noted she had turned her face away from them so they could not read any reaction from her concerning Erestor’s hope that he and she might be around after the War to talk of such things and that there would not be darkness and despair at such a time.

Penny recovered herself. “Tell me about your father’s halls, Lord Legolas, if it wouldn’t make you too homesick to think about it. I know beech trees are a favourite amongst your people. Can I ask you about your mother? Do you have brothers or sisters? If so are you the youngest, the eldest, somewhere in the middle?”

Legolas was laughing as Gandalf translated. “You wish to know my life history! And why, Lady Pen-ii, am I so significant?”

Penny resisted the urge to say ‘I have no idea, you had better ask the several billion Mary Sues in my universe’ and instead said, “Of the nine we know the histories and the stories of nearly all of them. We have family trees for the kuduk, Gimli, Aragorn and the Stewards of Gondor. What little we know of you I told you the other day in Lord Elrond’s study, Lord Legolas. I only want to know what I already know about the others. Even though I can’t tell you who the last two will be I know who they are and their stories as well.”

Legolas nodded. “Very well, Lady Pen-ii, I understand.” So the hour before lunch Legolas held her captivated as he described Mirkwood to her and his father’s realm. She learnt more than she could have hoped about his family and his people. He was indeed an only child, just as his father had been before him.

“May I ask how old you are, my lord, if it is not a very rude question to ask? Forgive me if it is.”

Legolas grinned, “I notice you do not ask Erestor.”

“Oh, I know he has to be ancient,” Penny grinned at the advisor, who raised his eyebrows at her and laughed. “Well, you must be if you saw the fall of Arnor.”

“Ah, and that qualifies me as ‘ancient’, does it?”

“Well, perhaps not compared to Lady Galadriel or Cirdan but compared to me it does. Thinking about it, though, Aragorn is ancient compared to me.”

They all roared with laughter. “Very true, Pen-ii,” grinned Gandalf.

Penny hastily added to Arwen, “I didn’t mean to be rude.”

“Not at all, Pen-ii. I am sure his young years must seem ancient to you.”

“Well, Lord Legolas?” Penny was turned back to him now.

He grinned at her mischievously. “Well, how old do your books say I am?”

“They don’t. Which is why I am asking. There is no mention of you fighting with your father and grandfather in Mordor, so I presume you were too young or else not born at that time, though I could be wrong. There is much debate about this subject. You are more than five hundred years, that is all we know.” Legolas nodded that this was correct. “Other than that, your age is guessed to be from five hundred all the way up to near three thousand.”

Legolas grinned again, “Well it is certainly between the two.”

Penny looked at him for a moment. “That’s all you’re going to tell me, isn’t it?”

Legolas’s grin broadened. “I think it only fair I maintain a little mystery.”

Penny couldn’t help but smile. “Fair enough, hir nin. I shall not press you. I shall make it my mission to find out though.”

Legolas raised an eyebrow as he laughed softly. “Indeed?” He seemed to find this idea extremely amusing as did the others.

Penny grinned but didn’t get any further since the dinner bell rang. As they stood and headed off towards the halls she turned to Arwen. “Hiril nin, if it isn’t too much of a bore, I would love to hear about Lothlorien.”

As Gandalf translated Arwen beamed, “But of course, Pen-ii. Both Erestor and Mithrandir could tell you much, also. We shall make sure to describe it to you when we are next all together.”

Over the next few days Legolas began to take on a similar role to Gandalf with Penny. She often found him inviting her to join him in conversation with others, or else coming to join whatever crowd she was sitting with to keep her company. He too had started to sit with the hobbits at times during meals and was added to the list of those who taught or tested her Sindarin. She found that both he and Erestor would now steer her away from Boromir or else Boromir away from her. Admittedly they were both labouring under the impression that she fancied the pants off him and that things might be less awkward for both if they were kept as far away from each other as possible, but Penny was grateful nonetheless.

The hobbits had taken her under their collective wing even more, it seemed, since the ‘river incident’. As strangers in Imladris also they saw Penny as a kindred spirit in some ways and they had been delighted to discover she was a tea drinker.

They invariably had a pot of tea with them at breakfast but Penny had always been too shy to say anything or ask them for any. Then, one afternoon, she had been bringing a whole barrow of potatoes and carrots to the kitchen, with Sam brandishing two huge caulifowers behind her, when she saw Merry busying himself with boiling water and a large teapot in the middle of the kitchen.

As Penny watched Merry picked up a container beside the pot and, standing on a chair, placed it back on the shelf from where he had fetched it. The elves had tea! Penny had assumed the hobbits had brought it with them from the Shire since she had not noticed any of the elves drinking any at breakfasts.

She went over to the container, lifted it down from the shelf, took off the lid and sniffed. She beamed. “Tea!” she said. Now she could come in here and make herself some all the time. Fan-bloody-tastic!

Sam and Merry looked up at each other and then at Penny with huge grins on their faces. “You know this drink?” Merry was asking her. “Would you like a cup?” He proffered a mug at her.

She nodded. “Le hannon, Kali.” She used Sindarin since they knew a few words and, in addition, had learnt quite a bit during their stay in Rivendell.

Merry nodded, smiled and poured her a cup, adding milk. Then he loaded up a tray with the pot, milk, cups, a loaf of bread, pots of jam and honey, butter and two plates of cakes. He staggered under the weight of it as he lifted it, found his balance, said something over his shoulder to Sam who nodded in response and he then headed off towards the antechamber the other hobbits were in. As Penny sat to enjoy her second mug of tea in Middle Earth, Sam grinned at her, deposited his two cauliflowers on the table, picked up a bowl of fruit as well as a third plate with a large walnut cake on it and trotted off after Merry.

From then on she became an official member of the breakfast tea drinkers (namely the hobbits and Gandalf), which was wonderful since she had really missed her morning cuppa. Gandalf and the elves were very amused to see she knew this drink, which hardly anyone outside of the Shire had come across before. Even Legolas experimentally had a sip given he saw both Gandalf and Penny drinking it with obvious enthusiasm. He clearly didn’t think much of it though given the expression on his face and Penny and the hobbits couldn’t help but laugh.

So it was that, a few days later, she was invited to join the hobbits for afternoon tea.

The hobbits, including Bilbo, commandeered an entire small antechamber to themselves at about four every afternoon for tea. It involved huge amounts of said beverage and more cake than you could shake a stick at... and bread with jam and honey... and fruit... and even a plate of sandwiches, cold meats and cheese if Pippin could wangle them out of the cooks (translation: swipe them when no one was looking). Penny was fairly convinced that Pippin, though the youngest, could eat an entire horse at one sitting. If not an elephant.

That they could eat so much so soon after lunch and so near to dinner was astonishing.

The hobbits talked affably enough. Penny loved watching them interact: talking over each other, interrupting, finishing each others’ sentences, teasing, joking and laughing kindly at each other. Bilbo was treated only moderately differently by the other four (though Sam was far more respectful towards him than the other three were) and was still the butt of many a joke and jibe. Bilbo gave as good as he got, though.

Penny, and anyone else who would listen, was given chapter and verse on life in the Shire, on hobbit genealogy (which was every bit as complex and mind-boggling as Tolkien had presented it), as well as being regaled with tales of just about every embarrassing moment any of the five hobbits seemed to have ever experienced as well as those of most of their relatives and friends. Pippin seemed to have had more ‘incidents’ than the rest put together which did not surprise Penny in the least.

On occasion someone else would join them. Gandalf was invariably there. Sometimes one or some of the dwarves were invited (Penny had noticed they had fairly healthy appetites as well – what WAS it about shorter races in Middle Earth that meant they seemed permanently hungry?). Boromir came once. Penny did her best to treat him no differently from anyone else while limiting her interaction with him as much as possible. She felt him watching her sometimes, though, and it made her feel distinctly uncomfortable.

Speaking of Boromir...

It was inevitable, she supposed, but it was still bloody awkward when it happened. Penny was on her way from the garden to her chambers one afternoon when she turned a corner to enter the halls only to nearly walk straight into Boromir. He was alone, of course. She groaned inwardly.

“Hir nin. Goheno nin.” She smiled apologetically.

“Lady Pen-ii. Please. Forgive me. My fault entirely.” He returned her smile.

Penny made to move past him quickly but felt his hand fall gently upon her arm to stop her. Oh, bugger. What now?

She turned to find he was not quite looking at her, but was gesturing to a bench near them. “Lady Pen-ii. Please. I need to speak to you.”

Oh, please, no. This was going to be excruciating. Penny could feel herself cringing. ‘Oh, God. Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God.’ She nodded, trying to keep her face as impassive and non-committal as possible, and headed for the bench as he followed.

Once they were seated he was silent for a moment, as if trying to decide what best to say and how best to put it. “Lady Pen-ii, I realise you may well not understand me. I.. er.. I feel it only fair to tell you that I am afraid I cannot return the affection you seem to have for me, as flattering as it is.” He glanced at her. In a way her not being able to understand him made it easier to be frank with her. “I feel it best to tell you this now so that you do not entertain any hope. Forgive me if this seems too frank a conversation, but I am a man of my convictions. I do believe in speaking plainly, in speaking my mind.”

Penny did not understand him but could tell by his tone and general demeanour what this speech was all about. This was the ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech. This was the ‘I am not ready to commit’ speech. This was the ‘not in a million years with a barge pole if you were the last woman on earth’ speech. It suddenly flashed through her head that perhaps all those slash fanfics had been on to something after all.

He still couldn’t look her in the eye as he continued. “Lady Pen-ii, I will be leaving Imladris soon. Me, go, soon.”

Penny nodded. She had caught that much and now it was her turn to hang her head at the thought of it.

Boromir, seeing her react this way, completely misinterpreted it, of course. “It was never my intention to stay for too long. Forgive me, Pen- ii. I must return to Gondor, to Minas Tirith. Me, go, Gondor. My father needs me.”

Again Penny nodded understanding the gist of what he was saying. “Denethor,” she said to make it clear she understood.

Boromir smiled and nodded. “Yes, Denethor. My father. Pen-ii.. I..” He turned to her now and the expression in his grey eyes was one of deep tenderness and kindness. “There is someone waiting for me there. I love her.”

Penny understood that phrase. Completely. It brought tears to her eyes, which Boromir saw but, again, completely misunderstood their cause.

‘Time to be “The Understanding Woman-Spurned”, then,’ thought Penny.

In her fractured Sindarin she said falteringly, trying to keep her emotions under control, “I understand, Lord Boromir. Forgive me. Please. You walk Minas Tirith. Your love.” She gave him a quick smile, stood and went as quickly as she could to the halls.

The tears started falling before she even made it up the stairs to her chambers. She thanked God no one passed by her or saw her in such a state. When she got to her room she did not even get any further than sliding down the closed door to the floor with her head in her hands. It was true she wept in part due to the horrendous embarrassment and awkwardness she had felt throughout all that little scene but she wept mostly for Boromir. For Boromir, this kind, gentle and noble man, and for the woman who loved him and would never see him again. She wept bitterly and long, and even once she stopped the pain and despair she felt did not leave her completely.

Her sense of impending darkness and difficult times ahead was only increased at the end of the second week of December. She had just finished her riding lesson and was heading towards the halls for the midday meal when she saw a horse, a brown stallion with one white sock, brought to a halt outside the main entrance. She recognised the horse immediately. She knew, even though the man astride the animal had his back to her, who it was. His cloak was stained with mud, his hair was lank with sweat and dirt. She knew if she got anywhere near him what he would smell like... like nothing on earth. Still she couldn’t help break into a smile that quickly became a beam and then a grin as she walked towards him. She resisted the urge to run.

As he stepped down from the saddle and reached up to untie his pack he looked up and saw her heading towards him. He grinned and stopped what he was doing as she approached.

“Mae govannen, Halbarad.” God, she was pleased to see him.

“Pen-ii, well met indeed. You look well. I am pleased to see you.”

“I help you,” she said in Sindarin and started untying his bedroll from his saddle.

Halbarad looked at her in astonishment then grinned broadly. “Your Sindarin is coming along, I see. Good. Very good. I shall have to congratulate Erestor when I see him.”

Penny smiled. “Many. Maura help. Mireth, Eleniel, Celebdor, Lindir. They help my Sindarin.”

Halbarad nodded. He couldn’t stop beaming at her. He was amazed what nearly two months had done. He wondered what else she had been up to while he was away.

Lindir had not been far behind Penny in coming from the stables for lunch and now greeted Halbarad, taking the horse’s reins to lead the stallion back to the stables. He pointed at Penny as he headed off. “She is slowly improving in her riding, Halbarad. You should come and watch her. You would be pleased.”

Halbarad raised an eyebrow at her, “Riding, Pen-ii?”

She grinned and nodded, “Riding, gardening, sewing, pottery, weaving, baskets, carpentry, cooking. Many. I learn.”

Halbarad laughed. Well, this was a turn up and no mistake. He looked at her. She was a completely different woman. Suddenly before him was the sum total of all those flashes of the real Penny he had seen so rarely before but had made him wonder what she was really like. She was not the timid, nervous, utterly bewildered and terrified wretch he had brought here anymore and he was glad. More than he thought possible.

As they walked up the steps together, she holding his bedroll and him his pack and water-sac, Penny could not believe how excited and proud she felt at his reaction to her Sindarin and that she was learning new things. She mentally scolded herself but she could not help herself: she was ridiculously pleased that he was pleased.

‘This is not good, Pen. Get a grip. Get a bloody grip, woman,’ she was thinking as they headed down a corridor.

At last he turned to her, taking his bedroll from her while saying, “Forgive me, Pen-ii, but I must see Lord Elrond as a matter of urgency with my news. You understand, of course. I do not doubt you may even know what I am to tell him and what I have found of the Nazgûl. I will see you at lunch, perhaps, or afterwards?”

She understood enough of the last question to be able to nod and repeat ‘lunch’ at him. He grinned, nodded, and then turned to head off down the corridor in the direction of Elrond’s study in the hope of finding him there.

Author’s Note: I was going to have Arwen shaving her armpits as well since Cirdan has facial hair and JRRT made it clear that elves are physically similar to humans. However it was pointed out to me that facial hair occurs only in the third age of life for elves and it might, therefore, be safer to say they have no body hair. This is what I have opted for, therefore. But really there’s a case to be argued either way (but I won’t get involved – it’s like Balrog wings...).

In a similar vein: JRRT said Boromir, like the last king, showed no inclination to marrying but was more interested in soldiering (see the Appendices at the end of ROTK). He was 40 when he died, so a little old to be unmarried still, but not too old by a long chalk. He may well have had someone he was courting in Minas Tirith, even betrothed to or about to be betrothed to. He may have had someone he loved from afar who never knew of his love for them. It’s equally possible he said it simply to try and let Penny down gently. I offer no explanation at this time and leave it up to you, the reader, to decide.

Hir nin - my lord;

Bain - beautiful;

Hiril nin - my lady;

Le hannon - I thank thee;

Mea govannen - well met

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