AUTHORS NOTES: "Daughter of Time" is a rollercoaster ride with an original female character, but Greenwood and I have tried very hard to keep her from becoming a MarySue.

The story is Alternative Universe because it takes place within a future LOTR universe and selectively uses canon for the purposes of set-up and backstory. It is also Alternate Reality because the characters are in another time and place (i.e., thousands of years beyond the ending of the books).

Among other things, the plotline plays fast and loose with this statement from Tolkien: "The view is that the Half-elven have a power of (irrevocable) choice, which may be delayed but not permanently, which kin's fate they will share. Elros chose to be a King and 'longaevus' but mortal, so all his descendants are mortal, and of a specially noble race, but with dwindling longevity: so Aragorn (who, however, has a greater life-span than his contemporaries, double, though not the original Númenórean treble, that of Men). Elrond chose to be among the Elves. His children - with a renewed Elvish strain, since their mother was Celebrían dtr. of Galadriel - have to make their choices (Tolkien Letter No. 153)."

We recognize the AU, AR and a few other elements will not be welcomed by some canon purists. If you think what we've written might offend you, please remember that we did try to warn you here.

FEEDBACK: Dreaded, actually. We ask that if anything in this flavor of tea offends you, please consider simply leaving it for someone else to enjoy rather than lashing out and hurting those who brewed it. Your beloved, original LOTR characters and world are just over there on your bookcase: pristine, intact and very much unharmed.

DISCLAIMER: Lord of the Rings and all character names are the acknowledged trademarks of the J.R.R. Tolkien Estate and/or its licensees. Character and other creative elements from these respective works are used in this story without permission for entertainment, not-profit purposes only and is meant for fun. Not blood. No money is collected or made off of anything on this site. Everything here is fictional (this means it never happened). Any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

# #


Memories become legend

Legend fades into myth

Myth is long forgotten

Until it all comes again

Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time

# #

The book of love is long and boring

No one can lift the damn thing

It's full of charts and facts and figures

and instructions for dancing

The book of love has music in it

In fact that's where music comes from

Some of it is just transcendental

Some of it is just really dumb

The book of love is long and boring

And written very long ago

It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes

And things we're all too young to know

The Book Of Love

by Stephin Merrit, from "69 Love Songs"

# #


Happy graduation to me, Ivy thought while racing the San Francisco rain for her front door. The December downpour cared nothing for finally-finished Masters candidates, and she reached the front porch of the old Victorian house just as the sky opened. Slamming the front door against the wind and the wet, Ivy almost stepped on a cream-colored envelope laying on the worn green carpeting just beyond the door's dull brass mail slot. Addressed to her mother, Marian MacLeod, the envelope gleamed in the gloomy half-light of the narrow hallway.

Scooping up the envelope, she didn't bother taking off her coat before passing into the living room. She could have turned up the heat, but that was an expensive luxury and she didn't want the financial burden. Everyone thought the historical Victorian homes of San Francisco were quaint and charming - everyone, that is, who didn't have to pay for their upkeep. Better just to wear the coat.

Ivy had no idea how she was going to pay to keep the 1880s worse-for-wear five-bedroom Victorian white elephant her mother had deeded over to her as a graduation present weeks before. Marian MacLeod-Matheson's second husband may have been wealthy, but Ivy seriously doubted if the racing stable owner wanted to take care of a grown step-daughter. She wasn’t even really sure he remembered he had one. The late-summer wedding had come as a surprise to Ivy, who had been so engrossed in trying to finish her Masters thesis that she hadn't realized her mother's five-year relationship with Reuben Matheson was that serious.

Regardless my mother's marital status, six years of school, and three-hundred thousand dollars in student loans, I'm supposed to be able to take care of myself, she thought. Hopefully, I can without selling this place.

Shoving aside her fears for the moment, Ivy called her mother's new home in Louisville, Kentucky. Reuben's maid or cook answered – Ivy couldn't tell them apart from their soft southern drawls. A brief exchange informed her that Marian was with her husband in Acapulco.

Acapulco? With a surge of resentment at her mother’s choice for a Christmas holiday, Ivy glanced out at the dark, dreary rain that made everything feel that much colder and gloomier. And then she was redialing and hoping her mother's cell phone worked in Mexico.

"Hello, Ivy," Marian chirped in her ear. "The phone said it was you, I was meaning to call you later tonight. Graduation day, isn't it? You're officially an artist now?"

"That's the theory. Mom, when I came home—"

"I feel terrible about our not being there to celebrate with you, but Reuben has business down here and, well, we did send you a gift. Did you get the money we deposited into your account?"

"Yes, Mother. You and Reuben are very generous." If I'm careful, that money will see me through until spring, when hopefully I'll have found a job in some gallery.

"I know the house isn't cheap to keep, so you must let me know if you need more."

"Thanks, Mom," she responded automatically, even while she thought, If? This thing sucks down money faster than a black hole, but I'm not going to ask for your charity.

"I'm so proud of you," her mother was gushing. "A Masters Degree! No one in our family has ever gotten one of those before, though I still wish you’d chosen to study something you could actually have a career in. How you think you can make a living drawing horses—"

"I paint horses, Mom, the drawings are only preliminaries. By the way, didn't you have all of your mail forwarded to Reuben's house?"

"Yes, dear. Why?"

"Something was waiting in the hall when I came home." She turned the envelope in her cold-stiffened fingers. "The return address is in Lairg, Scotland, but there's no stamp or postmark."

"There wouldn't be," her mother muttered.

Ivy traced the ornate calligraphy. "Whoever addressed it has beautiful handwriting."

"That would be Hald...Halden."

"Who's Halden?"

"Perhaps you should open it while I get myself into a room that's more private. Reuben is trying to watch CNN, after all. Read me the note inside."

Sliding a finger beneath the flap, Ivy ripped open the envelope and retrieved the card. Cradling the phone against her chin, she read aloud.

"Greenwood Limited, Winter Solstice Meeting of the Board of Directors. Tuesday December 21. The meeting will begin at ten o'clock and continue until the conclusion of the board's agenda. Greenwood Estate, Lairg County, Loch Shin, Scotland. Mother, what is this?" She waved the envelope about regardless her mother couldn't see it.

"Keep reading, please?"

"It meeting is closed and private. Matters to be considered are the approval of the agenda, minutes from the meeting last June, the chairman's report, president's...yeah, this is exciting stuff. You're supposed to confirm attendance with Halden Greenwood, acting Chairman of the Board, Treasurer and Secretary of the Corporation. Wait a minute. Halden Greenwood?" Ivy squeaked, "as in one of the richest men in the world? That Halden Greenwood?"


"Why is he in our front hallway?"

There was a long pause. "Actually, his name is Haldir."

Where do I know that name from? Ivy reflected. Haldir...she can't mean...

"Haldir of Lothlórien?" Ivy said, incredulous.


"So he's not that Halden Greenwood?" Ivy said slowly, trying to work things out. "He's just some nutty Scot pretending to be a rich Elf? Or some nutty rich Scot pretending to be a fictional Elf?"

"Ivy! Of course he isn't any of those things. Out in the world, he's Halden Greenwood. Inside his castle and to those living in the village of Lairg, he's Haldir."

"Haldir of Lothlórien has a castle in Scotland?"

"It's not his castle, it's Legolas' castle." Marian drew a deep breath. "Greenwood Enterprises is Legolas' company as well, but he's been on sabbatical for a number of years. I've never actually met him, but your grandmother Isabel and he had a falling out after they became lovers. Oh, it's a terribly sad story."

"My grandmother and Haldir were lovers?"

"Oh, Ivy, how could you think such a thing? Isabel and Haldir were never lovers. They were never even really friends. Isabel and Legolas were lovers. But the affair turned out badly, so very badly."

Ivy tried hard to absorb what her mother was throwing at her. "My grandmother had an affair with the Elven prince of Mirkwood, one of the Nine Walkers in The Lord of the Rings. That Legolas?"


"And you’re blaming the turning-out-badly part on Legolas?"

"Yes. You must remember that Elves are dangerous. You can trust Haldir - he's a darling - but I've been told more than once that Legolas is terribly dangerous, and he can be violent. You must avoid him if he comes back, for I doubt there's any love lost on his part for our branch of the family."

Legolas is dangerous and is going come gunning for our family for revenge or something? She's lost her mind, thought Ivy.

Laying the meeting notice aside, she said carefully, "Please don't take this badly, Mom, but you're starting to sound like you need psychiatric evaluation."

"I am not!" the older woman snapped. "I may be explaining things badly, but I am not crazy. Surely you remember those summers when you stayed with your grandfather in Montana while I went off to Scotland? That was for the Summer Solstice meetings in June. And you know I was always gone a few days before Christmas, for the Winter Solstice meetings. I let you and your grandfather think I needed time for myself."

"Didn't you?" Ivy inserted.

"Of course I did. But that's another story entirely, and I'm not going to tell it tonight. If you'll just call Haldir and give him your name, he'll take care of everything. His phone number should be on that invitation."

Ivy squeezed the bridge of her nose. "In case you haven't noticed, Mother, it's the middle of the night in Scotland."

"Haldir will be awake. Everyone knows that Elves don't sleep."

Of course they don't sleep, Ivy thought. Tolkien said so.

Sliding down in the chair, she tucked up her legs and settled in for the long haul. "Mom, could you try setting aside this fantasy for a minute and tell me, in very small words, exactly why I should call this pseudo-Elf guy?"

"Because you have to attend that meeting. I can't."

"You want me to go to Scotland in the middle of December when I should be putting in job applications for the new year?" she said, incredulous. "I have to start my life now, Mother."

"You don't have to worry about that."

"I do if the mortgage is going to get paid. Unless you and Reuben want to keep paying it for me?"

"The Solstice isn't that far away, so you'll need to get to Scotland as soon as you can," her mother pushed on. "You'll attend the meeting and vote on things. Don't worry about the mortgage, a trust fund comes with your seat on the board. Haldir will probably have it set up for you by morning if you call him tonight."

"A trust fund," Ivy ventured. "With real funds, or Lord of the Rings Monopoly money?"

"Of course with real funds!" her mother snapped. "Greenwood Enterprises certainly doesn't pay its board members with Monopoly money. It never has. You'll receive more than enough to pay for the house - which Haldir helped your grandmother buy back in the sixties, you know?"

"No, I didn't know. So the Elves got Isabel this eye-searing, ugly wreck of a house? How generous. Was that before or after she and Legolas broke each other's hearts? Y’know, maybe this was some kind of payback--"

"It was after, and the house didn’t look that way until your grandmother became a flower child in the sixties and redecorated. Elves have very classical tastes, as you’ll soon find out. You might treat this entire matter a little more seriously."

Ivy fought back the giggles that were trying to escape. "This entire matter sounds like a fantasy, so forgive me if I'm not showing the proper respect I should after you've announced I get to spend a great deal of money visiting real Hobbits, wizards and Elves, oh my!"

"You are being sarcastic."

"And you're making my head hurt. Can we just cut to the chase here? What is this really? Some sort of Middle-earth fantasy re-enactment group sponsored by this rich old guy that you’ve been playing with for God knows what reason, because my brain can’t come up with one that makes sense right now."

"It isn't a fantasy." Her mother sounded hurt. "And Haldir is not old."

"If he's Haldir, he's over eight thousand years old," Ivy pointed out. "That’s old. That’s really old. In fact, that makes him ancient – like dinosaur-old or something."

"Well, he certainly doesn't look it!" Her mother fell silent.

"So..." Ivy ventured cautiously into the breach. "This Haldir guy is willing to give me a trust fund full of real money just for sitting in on his board meetings twice a year?"


"Did he give you a trust fund?"


"Then what did you do with it? Why were we always broke? Why have I been borrowing myself into oblivion the last six years with student loans?"

"I never liked to use their money." Her mother sounded more than a little exasperated. "I never wanted to be...well...beholden to them."

"To...them. You mean to the Elves?"

"To anyone, especially Elves. Relying on anyone generally results in a bad outcome. I also didn't want to spoil you growing up, so that you became another Isabel."

Ivy snorted. "There was more wrong with my grandmother than just being spoiled. I'd have to be committable to be like her."

"Of course you're right. But still, I wanted to make sure you didn't turn out like her. But she's gone now, and you're not like her, so it doesn't matter."

I’m in debt for hundreds of thousands, and it doesn't matter? Ivy tried to look on the bright side. "Yeah, my grandmother lived in a few fantasy worlds as well, so it's best not to get tangled up with some Scottish roleplaying group that carries things too far and pretends to be real characters from Middle-earth. Or MacBeth."

"Once again, Ivy, they are not pretending, and you must mind your manners if you're going to deal with them. None of those Elves would appreciate being told they're not real. They are royalty in many ways, and you must promise to behave while you’re there."

"Right, okay. Don't yell. How many of them are there?"

"Thirteen are on the board, including you but not including Legolas, who's in Alaska."

"The Prince of Mirkwood is in Alaska?"

"He went there to get away from Isabel."

"Seems a bit cold in the extreme...or extreme in the cold," said Ivy, "but that's all right. He's a grown Elf, he can do what he wants."

"He didn't want your grandmother following him. Didn't want her finding him."

"Fine. Whatever." Tapping the meeting notice on the end-table, Ivy wondered if there was any aspirin left in the medicine cabinet upstairs. "So if you went to all of the meetings up until this past June, why can't you go to this one, too?"

"Because I'm married to Reuben now, and he can't find out I was involved with Greenwood!" her mother hissed on a whisper, as if secrecy were suddenly necessary, never mind she'd been practically shouting mere seconds ago. "He'd think I was spying on him for the enemy!"

"I beg your pardon? Greenwood's the enemy? Enemy of what?"

"Reuben and Halden are rivals. At least, their companies are."

"Did you know this when you married Reuben?"

"Yes, but I'm resigning from Greenwood's board as of right now, and you're taking my place. There's nothing unusual about that because daughters have replaced mothers on it for centuries."

Centuries? "Umm... all right."

"I know it sounds bizarre, but Haldir will explain everything. I wish that I could have warned you about all of this, but quite honestly I’ve been so busy with the wedding, and then traveling with Reuben, that I forgot about it. Please don’t tell Haldir that, though. He always makes a production of his missives, and I think he’s really quite proud of them. Every one has been hand-delivered, and he has lovely handwriting, don't you think?"


"I can't stay on much longer. Reuben will want his supper."

Ivy gritted her teeth. "Would you at least call this Haldir person, and let him know I'll be replacing you?"

"I can't, Ivy." A note of desperation crept into the woman's voice. "That number must not be on our bill, it's traceable to Lee's company--"

"Lee who?"

"Lee Greenwood. That's Legolas when he's--"

"Outside of his Scottish castle. Got it."

Her mother gave a deep sigh. "Promise me that you'll call Haldir."

"Fine," she sighed in resignation. "I'll call him." And you can bet it’s going to be collect. To tell him I'm not going. I don't really want to participate in this charade, I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money to just hop a plane to Scotland. I mean, pay the mortgage or fly off to play with the nutters? Not much of a choice there.

"Ivy? Are you listening to me?" Her mother’s strident tone managed to pierce all thoughts of resistance. "You must call him tonight. The meeting isn't that far off, and you'll need time to prepare."

"Yes, Mom, I said I’d call him. Tonight. Right now."

"That's good, dear." Her mother hesitated. "You must remember that these are Elves you're dealing with. They're not like you and me. They're volatile and unpredictable, so please be careful."

"Unpredictable how, exactly?" Ivy asked cautiously.

"You'll see. Enjoy your time in Scotland, and let me know when you get back. It's beautiful in Lairg this time of year, even if it is bitterly cold. Good-night, dear. Love you."

"Good-night, Mom. I love you too." Even if you have become a total loonie since we last talked.

Her mother hung up first: she always did.

# #

All right, Halden Greenwood. Let's see just who you are. Grabbing the invitation, Ivy pushed out of the chair and ran up the stairs. Turning on the computer in her bedroom, she waited with impatience for it to boot and signed onto the Internet.

'Halden Greenwood,' she Googled. The screen leaped to life as link after link flooded the screen.

"Okay, Mr. Elf, this one looks like it might hold some actual facts on you." She clicked one of one of Halden Greenwood's biographical links, this one through Fortune magazine.

Moments later, she rocked back in stunned amazement after learning Mr. Greenwood was the sixth richest man in the world, having a net persona worth of approximately 25.2 billion. And those were personal dollars, having nothing to do with Greenwood Enterprises.

Tapping a few more keys, Ivy further learned that Greenwood was a private company holding ownership in a fair number of companies including the likes of Jaguar, Trader Joe's, and a slew of environmentally friendly corporations.

If Halden's worth that much, then how much more is the entire organization worth? she wondered.

Further reading revealed that he had been educated at All Saints College, Oxford, and was well known for his philanthropy through the Greenwood Foundation. Established in 1885 by Halden's father, Lee Greenwood II, the foundation's purpose was to promote of academic, scientific and cultured research and development - whatever that was - throughout the world.

Eighty years old and reclusive in the extreme, Halden had been seen only a handful of times in public for over thirty years. He was also widowed and had one son named Lee Greenwood III.

So he's been playing Haldir in Scotland while his son has been playing Legolas in Alaska? And Legolas would be what...about fifty now? Oh, ick.

Aside from the company, the Greenwood family was rich through both inheritance and 'value investing principles' - whatever those were. The Greenwood family owned 17,000 acres of old-growth forest in Lairg County, Scotland, which accounted for eight percent of Britain's forests. The only available photo of Halden was said to date from 1970.

Amused blue eyes looked back at her from a classically handsome Celtic face with a high forehead and cheekbones to match. Ivy had no doubt that the hair had faded and thinned over the past thirty years: certainly Halden had to have a few more wrinkles now. Must be a really old photo.

Pushing away from the computer, Ivy sighed. I promised I'd call...whoever this guy really is...because I don't for a minute believe he's Haldir of Lothlórien.

I'm calling him collect, she repeated to herself, because there's no way that I can justify paying for a long distance call to Scotland when I can't even afford to heat this house. How do you call another country, anyway?

Last year's phone book was in a pile of magazines next to her bed, and it took only a few seconds to find the country code for Scotland. Within a few seconds more, she had communicated to the computerized operator the country and number she wanted.

"Please state the name of the party you are calling," the computer ordered.

"Halden Greenwood," she said, wanting very much to say 'Haldir' instead, if only in sheer defiance and frustration.

"Who is calling?"

"Marian MacLeod's daughter." See what he does with that.



The double-toned ring she heard next had the strange effect of producing butterflies in her stomach.

Stop it! she ordered her traitorous body. It's not as if you're going to talk to a real Elf, after all. It's not as if those Tolkien books you got for Christmas as a kid were non-fiction. You don't know what she's been mixed up in, but it's not as if Peter Jackson's world is suddenly going to come alive in your ear tonight. You're going to talk to a rich old Scot who will tell you point blank that his games are not for you. You'll be lucky if you can understand him through the burr.

That's reality, Ivy acknowledged. It's far too real, and I'm smack in the middle of it. Always have been, and it’s getting realer by the day. Except for tonight’s contagious madness.

If this guy really is Halden Greenwood, then I imagine he's rich enough to make anything come alive for his own purposes, even Middle-earth. He probably owns stock in New Line Cinema, and we all know what their last big hits were. The question is, how does Mom know him, really?

"Hello?" a British-accented voice answered the phone. Ivy's butterflies increased.

"Marian MacLeod's daughter calling collect for Halden Greenwood," said the computer. "Will you accept the charges?"

"Absolutely. Ivy..." He practically purred her name, and definitely did not sound eighty years old while doing so. "How good it is to speak with you at last. How are you? How is Marian?"

"She's the reason I'm calling." Ivy skipped the niceties. "Your meeting notice arrived, and my mother asked me to let you know she won't be attending. She's sending me instead."

"I trust she is all right?"

"Mom's fine, she married Reuben Matheson recently. It seems he's one of your corporate competitors?"

A slight pause. "I see."

"Mom said to tell you she's resigning her seat on the board and giving it to me."

"That is understandable given the circumstances." Another pause. "Do you know if she has told Mr. Matheson anything about us?" asked Halden.

"I’m sure she hasn't. She refused to call you herself, in case he recognized the number on the phone bill."

"That is well." The relief in that perfect-accented voice was slight, but definitely evident. "Having you join us is a delightful turn of events, albeit a bit sooner than expected."

"Actually, it's rather confusing," Ivy said carefully. "My mother informed me tonight that outside of your castle--"

"It may be more of a sprawling manorhouse now. We've remodeled extensively over the centuries, you see?"

"Oh. Mom called it a castle. She said that outside of're known as Halden Greenwood. Inside, you're Haldir of Lothlórien."

"Yes," came the simple admission.

"You're really Haldir of Lothlórien, marchwarden to the Lady Galadriel?"

"I was." His tone carried pride as well as a touch of sadness.

If a fictional Elf could speak, Ivy thought, I've no doubt he'd sound like this guy. He really believes he's from Middle-earth, so where does this conversation go from here?

"My mother told me tonight that Tolkien's books are real."

"Much in them is true, but much was also distorted. The individual character histories and the basic outline of events are essentially sound."

"So you’re telling me you're an Elf," Ivy said flatly.


That confirms it: he’s a nutter, a totally delusional soul who really believes this. What's worse is I’m starting to believe him. "You're all supposed to have gone to the Undying Lands," she challenged. "Why are you still here?"

"Some of us are not yet finished with this world."

She sensed the polite, emotional wall he raised with that statement. Not daring to pry, and uncertain if she was being rebuffed or stirring up bad memories in what may have been a mental patient, Ivy chose to wait until he spoke again.

"Your mother told you nothing of our existence, or of Greenwood's board, until tonight?"

"Not one word," she said quietly. "Mom kept your secrets, just so you know. Which means I don't know whether you're play-acting and need an audience, or if you're mental."

"Time will tell," he said cheerily, "Well then, Ivy. Let’s start at the beginning. Traditionally, someone from your family has always held a place in our organization. You can participate in the bi-annual meetings as much or as little as you like. Matters of consequence will be discussed this Solstice, as they are every Solstice, and votes will be taken. It's best to be familiar with what you're voting on, otherwise you could do a great deal of damage. If you do not wish to participate, you will need to assign a proxy to vote for you. This first meeting, you might consider designating a proxy and attend merely to observe."

"I'd rather participate, if possible," she challenged, feeling perverse.

"If that is the case, then we should arrange for your arrival in Lairg as soon as possible. We have only a few days before the Solstice, and it will take some time to prepare you for what will be discussed."

"My mother said there are other Elves."

"There are. Thirteen of us sit on the board, and you are our thirteenth member. It would be most expedient were I to send the company jet to bring you here. Have you a current passport?"

"Yes, I have'll send a jet?" she asked, incredulous. "You actually have a jet?"

"Of course I do. It's a Lear and practically brand new. I chose the fittings myself. You must watch for the fireflies-in-the-forest effect when the lights are low."

"The what? On second thought, wait." She yanked back her hair in exasperation to realize she was very much in danger of being caught up in this man's fantasy world. "Never mind. Don’t send the jet. Even though I'd love to meet your fireflies, I’m supposed to be looking for a job. I can't fly off to Lothlórien right now."

"We are in North Ithilien, actually, now known as Lairg. I regret that Lothlórien is no more."

"I'm so sorry," Ivy stammered, unable to bear the possibility he might be telling the truth, that the Lady's beautiful world had been lost. Shaking herself, Ivy struggled to remember Lothlórien was not real, and that she shouldn't join in the billionaire's private fantasy that it was.

"Wait. Wait a minute, please. Look, Mr. Greenwood. It’s nice of you to offer to fly me over to Lung or whatever, but I really cannot come. You may be well-off, but I've finally finished school, and I have to figure out a way to pay my student loans as well as the mortgage every month. I have to find a job. Right now, starting tomorrow morning. So no flying with the fireflies for me, okay?"

"Allow me to offer my congratulations upon the awarding of your degree." He sounded genuinely happy for her. "San Francisco State, wasn't it? A Master of Fine Arts in Art, if I remember correctly?"

"You're right, and now you're frightening me." She was only half-joking, and not all that certain about the half.

"You mentioned a mortgage. I assume then that, after remarrying, your mother turned the house and its expenses over to you?"

"Yes," Ivy admitted with reluctance.

"I see. Not surprising as she has never been fond of either the house or its location. Well, you needn't search for a job," Halden continued, "as a sizable trust fund accompanies your position on the board. If you will give me the name of your bank, I shall have your personal funds established by morning."

"It's Wells Fargo," she muttered, "and I don't believe this."

"Whether you believe it or not, it shall be done."

"Don't you need to know the name on the account as well?" she demanded. "What about the account number?"

"Did your mother not establish a checking account for you when you were fifteen, and is this not the same account? Is the mortgage not paid by automatic withdrawal from your account now, as it was paid from your mother's account in the past?"

"How do you know about that?" she asked, feeling more than a little panicky and suspicious.

"You are Marian's daughter," he stated simply. "We have always looked after you and your mother as we could. As best we were allowed in any case. Let's see..."

Ivy heard something that sounded suspiciously like tapping on computer keys.

"What are you--"

"A moment, if you will," Halden interrupted, rather rudely Ivy thought. She subsided into the commanded silence as the tapping continued for nearly two minutes.

"Your mortgage is now paid through February. An automatic withdrawal from your trust fund will take care of all future payments as well. If some time in the future you would like to pay off the entire mortgage as well as the equity loan your mother took out, I can see to it for you. Is there anything else you require?"

"No, that’s...that’s amazing right there."

"What about any outstanding bills? Are the utilities due?"

"The gas needs paid." She thought aloud and not all that clearly.

"Hang about while I take care of that." The clicking of keys once more.

"No, wait! I didn't mean for you to - Halden, I was joking. I was only thinking about what was due. I didn't call to ask you to pay my bills."

"I realize that, but I also realize that you were not jesting about the bill. Your gas bill is now taken care of and a generous credit added beyond that, so you may turn up the thermostat without fear. I am well aware the heating system in that house is rather ancient and not very efficient – it is perhaps even unsafe – so, given your mindfulness of economics, I strongly suspect you are less than comfortable at this moment. Are the fireplaces in good working order? Have you enough wood for fuel?"

"I only use the fireplace in my room," she offered with some bewilderment. "How do you know about the heating system?"

"I aided your grandmother in the original purchase of that house and tried for years to convince her to update it."

By the end of this, Ivy thought, I may actually owe Mom that apology she wants. "Mom never did anything about it."

"Of course not. Your grandmother was not given to tending mundane details, and I know your mother has...spending issues. Why is beyond me, when there was more than enough at her fingertips, she had only to write the check. I hope you will take a less benevolent view of your antique appliances and let me advise you? Or at least take a less suspicious view of your trust fund and actually use the money provided. Now, do you prefer burning cedar or pine in your fireplace?"

"It doesn't matter because you are not buying me wood." Ivy spoke through gritted teeth. "The stores are all closing, so it's too late to order anything. Besides, I am quite capable of buying my own wood."

"Nonsense. I know who to contact after hours."

"Why are you doing this?" Ivy asked in sheer desperation. I'm starting to understand why mother refused this Elf's...erm, guy' I asked a question about a meeting, and he's taking over my life – from Scotland no less!

"I enjoy taking care of people, and I flatter myself that I am rather good at it," Halden murmured. "Hang about, I shall be right back."

She thought she’d rather hang up than hang about, but knew he'd only call back. Such behavior wouldn't prevent someone showing up at her door with a load of fuel anyway.

"There." He was back. "I've ordered a cord of mixed wood for you. It should arrive within the hour, so you will be safe and warm during the night. Don't be shy of telling the delivery fellow where you want it, as he is being well paid for his service. Now, have you eaten?"

"I think I can manage to feed myself!" she snapped.

"Very well. I'll send over a pizza. I understand that is a favored meal in your culture, yes?"

She laughed outright at his persistence. "This is surreal. The marchwarden to the Lady Galadriel is ordering me pizza."

"I am. It really is best to simply give in, and let me have my way." He sounded amused. "Do you prefer thin crust or thick? They offer both on this web site."


"Very well. Is Papa John's all right? They are fairly close and take orders over the Internet."

"They're fine. Great."

"Is there anything else I can do for you?"

Laying back on the bed, Ivy let out the breath she'd been holding and willed herself to relax. "Perhaps you could answer a question?"

"If I can, I certainly will."

"Why did my grandmother think Legolas was dangerous? Why does my mother think the same thing?"

Silence answered her. Even the computer keys were quiet in Scotland.

"Legolas is in Alaska," Halden finally replied. "Your grandmother has passed from this world, and your mother has never met Legolas. Perhaps you should form your own opinions."

"I know. But this afternoon Mom danced around the details of our family's history with, your race, so nothing makes sense to me. She described you as a darling, someone I could trust, and she made me promise to call you."

"Oh, how sweet of Marian."

"But she also said that Elves are strange and unpredictable, and I must never forget they’re very different, and that Legolas in particular is dangerous and someone to be avoided at all cost. She also claimed my grandmother had some sort of an affair with him."

"It was nothing so tawdry as a mere affair because Legolas does not have those. Where to begin." Halden sniffed. "Legolas fell in love with Isabel Hamilton, and certain promises were made between them, promises I was not privy to. Legolas is an extremely private individual, he did not confide everything that happened between them. I do know your grandmother accepted him and his advances very quickly, only to reject him a short time later. Legolas tried very hard to please her and failed to do so, for Isabel could not handle his intensity. They hurt each other deeply, so much so that Legolas went into self-imposed exile during Isabel's lifetime. I thought he would return to Scotland after she passed on, but he has not. The hurts she caused were many and deep, and they remain tender."

"So that's why Legolas has no love for my family?" Ivy pursued. "If he returns to Scotland in my lifetime, it would be wise to keep my distance?"

"Legolas would never hurt you," Halden asserted. "What Isabel did to him is quite sad, but he would never blame you or your mother for Isabel's actions. In any case, he is in Alaska, and you have other things to worry about. You need to prepare for your visit with us. Have you warm things to wear?"

Nice change of subject. Ivy smiled to herself.

"I know how to stay warm," she assured him with another glance at the cold rain pelting against her window. "I have sweats and long underwear and some good snow boots. And wool socks. Rag wool socks – the best."

"I fear those won't keep you as warm as you need to be. The weather can be brutal this time of year, and we have no centralized heating. I shall lay in a few things for you from Inverness. What size do you wear now?"

She laughed. "First you feed me, and now you want to dress me?"

"I wish to have you warm. The wind off Loch Shin is very cold, and this manor is not warm, even on summer days."

"Trust me, I can buy my own clothes." The doorbell sounded downstairs. "Haldir, I think the wood has arrived. I’ve got to go - it’s raining really hard, and the wood is going to get wet before I can get it into the garage."

I called him Haldir. but he sounds like a Haldir, she argued with herself. Oh, Ivy, you are sooo riding for a fall.

"One more question." He spoke quickly. "Can you be ready to leave the day after tomorrow at eight in the morning?"


"A car will arrive for you at that time. You need not worry about anything other than being ready. I look forward to meeting you, Ivy MacLeod. Be sure your delivery-man brings some of the wood inside for you. Rest well, my dear."

"You too, Haldir. Or whatever it is Elves do."

He chuckled. "Pack warmly, and be sure not to forget your passport. Good-night."



Up before dawn and ready well before eight o'clock, Ivy paced restlessly before her front door. She’d tried to eat breakfast, but tea was all she could manage.

What had seemed like an adventure while talking to the mysterious, encouraging Haldir-of-Lung or whatever he called it, now seemed like the height of insanity in many different directions, including the questionable wisdom in getting into a car that hadn't yet arrived. Even though it wasn’t time for it to have arrived.

Checking her watch, Ivy pulled open the front door and peered out into the street on the off-chance that the car might be early. She'd had far too long to ponder the conversation she'd had with Halden, far too long after she'd packed to sit and do nothing but wait. She thought she'd feel better once she was on that plane and on her way to whatever fate had in store. Because no matter how weird the entire situation is, I am getting that car. If it arrives.

A trip to the bank the day before had offered evidence that Halden had been good for more than a pizza and a cord of wood. Going to a teller to find out what highway robbery she'd have to endure to exchange a few American dollars for British banknotes, she'd impulsively asked the teller to check her balance.

Ivy had been stunned when, seconds later, the bank manager appeared at her elbow. Unctuous and fawning, the woman had ushered Ivy into a private office and urged her in one of the ever-uncomfortable bank décor chairs before settling behind the manager's own executive monstrosity. She then slid a folded piece of paper across the desk to Ivy.

"Your balance, Ms. MacLeod."

From the whispered reverence accorded that slip of paper, Ivy thought it must hold all the secrets of the universe. Unfolding it, she all but stopped breathing at the total scribbled there.

My god, Halden did it. He said he'd do it, and he actually did. But he had to screw up, there are way too many zeroes here.

This would make me rich, but it's not my money. It's his money, maybe Elven money, definitely somebody else's, but not mine. I know some of it is supposed to be mine, but how much?

Oh, this is way wrong. Now what do I do? She smiled nervously at the manager.

"If there is anything I can do for you - anything at all--" the woman gushed, "please don't hesitate to let me know. Here is my card. Please call me directly."

Mechanically accepting the offered business card, Ivy focused once more on the paper with all the zeroes. "Yeah, I’ll...I'll do that. Thanks."

Go buy yourself a decent coat, a practical voice suggested. Surely Halden wouldn't begrudge you that?

Maybe not. Between his paying my bills, getting the wood delivered, and proclaiming wool socks inferior, he seems really big on keeping us non-Elven roleplaying types warm. If I don't show up with something warm to wear, he might drag me into Inverness to get one when he needs to get ready for that meeting.

Ivy's thoughts hurtled on as the manager continued prattling. How do I get away from this woman?

"That's really nice of you," she interrupted, "but I need to be on my way,"

"Of course you do. We're happy to have your business, Ms. MacLeod. More than happy. Have a simply wonderful day."

Huh. You were never this enthusiastic when it was just me and my student loans out there. Eager to leave Ms. Saponaceous behind, Ivy fled for the door and found herself out on the street, still clutching the small piece of paper.

"Right," she muttered to the drizzling rain. "I’ll tell Hal he goofed when I get there, but for now, I'm buying a coat. A good coat, not a Walmart coat. Where do I go for that?"

The Christmas shoppers had already snatched up the best heavy coats, but Ivy managed to find a suitable ski jacket and a pair of warm gloves at a very expensive sporting goods store. Part of her felt guilty for handing over her debit card even for such a worthy cause as warding off Scottish frostbite.

I'll pay it back, she promised herself. I'll pay off Haldir along with the U.S. Government.

Returning home early in the day, she'd resisted the urge to turn up the thermostat. Instead, she retrieved the cardboard box from beneath the stairway - all that remained on earth of the late Isabel Hamilton - and hurried upstairs to put a few Haldenian logs on the fire.

Setting the box in the middle of her bed, Ivy began sorting. The banker's box contained everything belonging to her grandmother that the executor/lawyer hadn't been able to sell, including Isabel's cremated remains. Ivy's mother hadn't bothered interring the ashes; she hadn't even obtained a proper vase for them.

Wrinkling her nose, Ivy set the heavy cardboard container full of ashes aside on the floor and inspected the rest of the banker's box. Bits of costume jewelry were scattered across the bottom. The only other inhabitant was a slender leather-bound volume. Opening the book, Ivy was thrilled to discover it was a journal.

Ivy skimmed the pages. So Isabel's in Scotland and someone is courting her. He's getting close to this really Legolas? After only two weeks?

Though Isabel didn't name the Elf courting her, it was all too obvious who she meant. So what exactly did Legolas do to her? Or she to him?

Ivy began reading in earnest. It looks like he was mad about her, courted her, promised her everything and forever, would have given her anything she asked. So what was the problem?

Held captive by the account, Ivy read throughout the afternoon and into the night until her fire died down, her stomach protested, and she went in search of leftover pizza. Less than an hour later, she threw Isabel's diary so hard against the fireplace that the dry spine split and pages fluttered loose.

"You rejected him," Ivy choked out, half-blinded by tears. "You said that you loved him, only to take him apart piece by piece."

Climbing out of bed, she gathered up the torn pages and stuffed them haphazardly back into the abused journal. Snatches of script leaped out at her.

'He is far too protective - annoyingly so,' Isabel had written. Entirely smothering and unbelievably violent. He's someone from another time and place, infinitely weird and all too seductive and nothing I want to involve myself with.

'He has inserted himself into my life without invitation, and constantly tries to imprison my feelings with some strange Elvish magic I don’t begin to understand and absolutely resent. Nothing else can explain how I ever thought I cared for him, even for the few days he held my interest. Having him near, with all his unnaturalness, is a violation to my very soul, yet he swears he loves me.

'I don’t love him – how could I love such a creature when I am in my own mind? He has his uses of course, but love him? How could I possibly love that? I don’t even want him doing things for me anymore. All I want is for him to go away and stay away. But he won't leave! He will not listen, he has never listened to what I want!'

"How the hell did he know what to listen to?" Ivy demanded of the pages. "One day you told him, 'Get away from me.' The next day it was, 'Get back here, how dare you leave me?' The next week you wanted to introduce him to your friends who had nothing but contempt for him – contempt they learned from you, no doubt.

"You didn't want his love, you wanted a lap dog. Something like Lassie who'd come, sit, stay, and then go away until you called him again to rescue you. And you expected all of this from one of the Firstborn?"

Ivy heaved what was left of the journal and the remains of her granny back into the battered box. She was still berating Isabel as she thumped the box back downstairs.

"Legolas offered you everything, and you messed with him to the point that after rescuing you and your friends from troubles in Greece—after you told him not to interfere, regardless you would have died if he hadn't—he left. Ditched you in 1951 during a plane refueling in Paris—his own plane that was taking you safely back to Scotland, no less. He disappeared into the darkness, and you had no clue where he went or why he left. Like Haldir said, he went somewhere you couldn't find or follow.

"You were crazy, and that's the bottom line," Ivy told the box once she had shoved it back into the cubby beneath the stairs. "I'm sure psychiatrists have elegant labels for what you were, but I think you were flat-out bugnuts. At least you were fair about it – you abused everybody who ever came near you.

"Your taste in costume jewelry was awful, too," Ivy added, slamming the closet door.

Ivy remembered her mother insisting that Isabel's perspective and mood had altered day by day, if not hour by hour. The woman had been egocentric and irrational to the point that she had never gotten along with another person her entire life through. Her way of seeing was the only way things should be seen, and those ways were entirely inconsistent, so that no one had a prayer of knowing ahead of time what she wanted.

It never occurred to her that she might be wrong about anything, Ivy thought. Not even after she managed to kill my sister.

Ivy had been four years old at the time, and her sister Lily a vulnerable seven months. Her father, Dylan MacLeod, had owned a travel agency in Phoenix and wanted to attend a trade show in Houston. Isabel had graciously offered to fly to Phoenix and take care of the children so that Marian could go with her husband. They'd only be gone five days, not very long at all. How difficult could it be for Isabel to tend two little girls for a mere five days?

Obedient to Marian's schedule, Isabel had taken Ivy to pre-school on Thursday and again on Friday. But upon returning home Friday morning, Isabel had rushed inside to escape the rising desert heat. It was August in Phoenix - 107 degrees outside and easily 140 inside the metal vehicle.

Heaven knew the heat was draining to an adult accustomed to the cooler environs of San Francisco, so Isabel had lain down for a nap after she got inside. What she had forgotten was to bring the sleeping baby in from the van. Three hours later, her daughter had called to check on her children. Only then did Isabel remember Lily.

The baby had been found unconscious and non-responsive, which was really a polite way of saying Lily was dead. The paramedics had been summoned, and a frantic Marian and Dylan had flown back from Houston.

The doctors said that Lily's body temperature had risen to 115. By the time Isabel had found her, the baby had no brain function and was not breathing. If she had been found earlier, or better yet, if she had not been left in the hot van to begin with...

"If you had called sooner," Isabel had snapped when told the news, "your daughter would still be alive!"

A heartbroken Marian managed to focus on her remaining child, but Dylan could not. He blamed Isabel­­, as well he might, and Marian by irrational relation. He blamed himself as well, believing he had somehow failed to protect his daughter. As for Ivy, she was left with a world turned upside down and only the vaguest memories of her sister when she looked at childhood photos years later.

Isabel Hamilton returned to San Francisco before Lily's funeral as the infant’s parents seemed 'unreasonably hostile toward me,' as she'd recorded in her journal. All contact between mother and daughter ceased. The police had investigated Lily's death, but no charges had ever been filed.

Ivy's parents had separated almost immediately and divorced a few months later. Except for the occasional check, her father kept no contact at all, so his suicide two years later had little impact on Ivy's life other than making her feeling a passing sadness over the subsequent years for a father who wasn't there.

Marian never shared her feelings regarding the death of her daughter or the destruction of her marriage, much less the suicide of the man she still loved, but Ivy remembered her mother had pretty much stopped smiling that summer. Even Ivy's best drawings hadn’t cheered her. Without Dylan's ongoing financial support, there was also no easy way Marian could keep the house in Phoenix and continue raising Ivy by herself.

Dylan's father, Cameron MacLeod, had emerged from his grief long enough to invite mother and daughter to come live with him on his ranch in Darby, Montana, which was about as far away from Isabel and San Francisco as they could get. Desperate, Marian accepted the invitation, so that when Ivy was seven her childhood had stabilized into something that included a loving grandfather along with cattle and sheep, horses and chickens.

It had also included walking a mile to the bus stop every morning that school was in. Even given the six-foot winter snowdrifts, it hadn't been a bad way to grow up. Ivy still wished she had been left alone to do just that, but Isabel Hamilton had once again managed to interfere with Ivy's life the summer she turned fifteen.

Granny finally met something that wouldn't bend to her will. Something she couldn't control, Ivy thought of the train that had barreled down on Isabel when she wouldn't get out of her car after it had stalled on the tracks.

Why she hadn’t left her car was a question looming large in the investigation of her death, but those who knew Isabel had no doubt she had expected the train to yield to her. It was a quick death, if messy, and Isabel had left everything she owned -including her ashes and a seedy Victorian house in San Francisco - to her only child.

From Darby, Marian had ordered the executor to sell everything but the house. And then, much to Ivy's misery and Cameron's sorrow, Marian had suddenly decided they needed to move to San Francisco so that Ivy could experience a wider world.

"There's more to life than 4-H competitions at county fairs and helping dress a deer each fall," Marian had told her daughter. Ivy and Cameron hadn't agreed, but Marian would not be moved.

Ivy dragged her thoughts back to her grandmother's diary while getting ready for bed. Her insanity has affected every part of my life. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, and I'm so sorry Legolas was sucked into her lunacy. She ruined everything she touched and scarred everyone who was with her for any amount of time.

By the time Legolas met my grandmother, hadn't he already watched everything he fought for fade away? Everything in Middle-earth went to the world of Men even before Aragorn died, didn't it? That can't be easy for him to live through, so why didn't he and the others leave for the Undying Lands?

Climbing into bed, she turned out the light. Maybe Halden...Haldir...doesn’t look back much, so his memories haven't the power to hurt him. Maybe he’s able to focus on the present. But maybe Legolas is one of those people who really feels things deeply. After all, he's the one still hiding out in Alaska because of things Isabel did to him fifty-three years ago. I'm glad he left her first, but I doubt that's any consolation to him.

What amazed Ivy was the realization that Legolas had somehow managed to preserve what was truly important to him in the form of a tiny, perfect corner of Scotland when all else seemed to have been lost.

Haldir said that Lairg is in what used to be Ithilien, and in those first happy days up there Isabel described Legolas' seventeen thousand acres as a paradise. How sad is it that only a few miles of Middle-earth have survived out of an entire world. I'm glad he has something to go home to, if he ever does go home.

Surprised at the fierce protectiveness she was feeling for an Elf she had never met and who probably didn't really exist, Ivy punched the pillows and settled down to sleep.

Why shouldn't I feel protective of Legolas? she pondered. He was always my favorite character and a really big part of my childhood. He could talk to trees and ride horses. It doesn't get any more perfect than that, so why shouldn’t I still care about him? I wanted to learn from Elrond, but I wanted Legolas to be my friend and let me travel with him.

Maybe nobody ever leaves their childhood completely behind. Then again, most of us don't have mothers who tell us out of the blue that Winnie-the-Pooh and Owl are real. Middle-earth was always a lot more exciting than the Hundred-Acre Wood, so I guess I should be grateful Mom didn't get mixed up in something like Pooh. Or Doctor Dolittle.

"I'm glad Isabel is gone." She spoke into the darkness to the unseen Elf she still believed was fictional, despite the intricate fantasy Halden Greenwood, her grandmother and her mother had woven. "I'm glad Isabel can no longer hurt you, whoever you are. I wish she’d quit messing with my life, though."

Six hours later, Ivy woke to meet the day with a scant five hours sleep. But who wants to sleep when a LearJet is taking me to Scotland where I'm going to meet an aging billionaire claiming to be an Elf?

The hand on her watch had just ticked over to eight o'clock when a black Mercedes rolled up outside Ivy's door.

That's freaky, and how did the driver do that, anyway? she marveled. Has he been idling down the block waiting to arrive at the very second San Francisco hit eight a.m.? Geez, but these people are scary.

Picking up her purse, satchel and sketch pad, Ivy paused long enough for one last check of the passport and money tucked inside her pockets. Taking a deep breath, she stepped out the door and into the cool morning sunshine. Leaving home to begin the journey to Ithilien, she hoped she looked braver and more grown up than she felt.


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