The driver leaped out of the waiting Mercedes to open the rear door for Ivy and usher her into the foreign world of white leather seats and luxury motor-car experiences. It took the driver but a moment to gently stow her one bit of luggage in the trunk before heading into morning traffic.

The ride seemed endless, and she couldn’t quite shake the out-of-place feeling that overtook her. She, Ivy MacLeod, was being driven by a silent, uniformed chauffer to a private LearJet that was waiting just for her. It was exciting, but at the same time she felt like an imposter. She hadn’t sorted out those feelings by the time the driver announced their arrival at the airport.

Ivy's fingers tightened on the armrest in rising anxiety as the Mercedes bypassed the main terminal and turned onto a side road skirting it. Driving through the private aircraft gate and onto the tarmac, the car delivered her to the airport official waiting by the plane.

She was urged out of the car with the same silent service with which she had been stuffed into it. Her passport was then examined by the airport official before being returned to her with a quiet, "Have a safe journey, Ms. MacLeod."

The official all but saluted before driving off in his little cart and leaving Ivy alone on the tarmac. The wind blew at her, making her feel all the more alone and out of place. Turning, she stared up at the LearJet whose waiting stairway led up into the unknown in more ways than one.

The little jet was small and sleek, gleaming white and elegant, and obviously expensive. Ivy jumped as a man emerged from the open cabin door and bounded down the stairs. Tall and rugged with a great smile, the man at least looked halfway friendly as he rattled off something in a Scots accent that Ivy assumed was a greeting. She managed to catch, "'m Alastair, yer pilot."

"I'm Ivy," she murmured.

She thought she heard, "Take yer bag," and do...something..."wi' it," a moment before he snagged her satchel. Those words were fast followed by, "get y'self aboard," but her comprehension was intuitional rather than actual.

What was I thinking just the other day about Scottish burrs? She gave the pilot a nervous smile and nodded before climbing the stairs into the cabin and hesitating just inside the door.

Four broad, comfortable-looking, black leather captain's chairs waited within. Two small tables had been placed between each set of chairs, which meant a couple could fly facing each other and there was room to share a small meal if they so chose. The carpeting was thick and lush, the paneling made of gleaming ash.

Ivy's sneakers and jeans suddenly felt terribly inappropriate. Not daring to explore beyond the main cabin, she all but tiptoed to the seat closest to the door and up against the bulkhead. Shoving her purse beneath the seat, she slid her sketchpad in between the wall and the seat.

Alastair arrived seconds later to retract the stairs, secure the door, and say something else unintelligible. Ivy's blank expression must have identified the problem because he repeated himself. This time, he pointed to her seatbelt, which was dangling at the side of the chair.

"Oh, right. Thanks." She clicked the belt into place as he disappeared inside the cockpit and closed the door behind him.

Taking a deep breath, she made a conscious effort to let go the arms of the chair as the Lear's engines started. Moments later, she was being carried toward the runway and whatever adventures Halden Greenwood had planned for her.

When you’ve already jumped down the rabbit hole, it’s best not to consider second thoughts, she decided, wishing her palms would stop sweating. We’ll see what we get when we get there.

Within minutes, the Lear lifted into the sky, and Ivy was soon lulled to sleep by the vibration of its engines.

# #

Ivy awoke some time later when the undercarriage touched down and the plane engines roared in reverse thrust. Glancing out the window, she saw a bleak, overcast world featuring tall fir trees and great drifts of snow.

Are we in Scotland already? she wondered as they taxied to a long metal shed seemingly set in the middle of nowhere. A glance at her watch told her they'd been in the air only a few hours. Where are we?

Alastair emerged from his cockpit to open the cabin door and let in a rush of freezing air. Shivering, Ivy reached for her ski jacket and followed him down the narrow steps. The wind was bitterly cold, and her jacket didn't offer much protection.

"Don't be long, lassie," Alastair advised. "We'll be leavin' soon as I refuel and make a pickup."

My ears are either getting better, or he's speaking more clearly for my sake. I hope he doesn’t take off and leave me here. Taking the pilot's warning to heart, Ivy bowed her head against the wind and hurried toward the wind-rattled, isolated terminal at the edge of the icy runway.

Approaching the heavy steel door leading into the building, Ivy's nose was nearly taken off when someone shoved through from the other side. Leaping backward, she barely evaded the sharp end of the long stick the man had in his hand. Wrapped up in a heavy fur parka and carrying a duffle bag, he ploughed past Ivy only to stop and turn back to her as she caught the door before it blew closed.

"Sorry," said a muffled voice, all but lost against the wind.

"That's all right."

He went on his way while she went in search of hot chocolate and a bathroom.

# #

Pushing back his hood, Legolas approached the pilot as the fuel truck pulled up. "Alastair McCormack?"

"Aye, m'laird." The man shook the Elf's hand before handing the airport refueler his company credit card. "Apologies for keepin' you waitin', we were delayed a bit."

"I hear it's expected these days."

"Aye." Alastair glanced at the refueler who was well out of earshot. "My father knew you when he was a boy, m'laird. It's many a story I've heard, and a long time I've waited to meet you. It's an honor to be workin' for you, can I stow your gear and your bow?"

Legolas slung the weapon over his shoulder. "I'll secure the bow inside the cabin."

"Of course, m'laird. And your duffle?"

"A moment." Settling the long bag on the ground, Legolas pulled out his knives and quiver full of arrows before letting the pilot claim it. "Thank you."

"My pleasure, m'laird. Now why not get up out of the cold and make yourself comfortable upstairs? We'll take off as soon as the little one returns."

Little one? Legolas wondered. He must have brought his child with him on the flight. Irritation flashed briefly. I hope he doesn’t expect me to entertain his offspring. I have work to do.

Legolas studied the plane. "Will you check the wings for ice?"

"Aye, m'laird, but 'tis a precaution only. All during the flight here and before our next lift-off, the wings'll be heatin' themselves with bleed air from the engines."

"So we have an anti-ice system rather than a less reliable de-icing?" Legolas ventured.

Alastair nodded. "All Lears fly above the commercial jets at 40,000 feet where ice is common. But our lady flies so fast, her wings heat up from friction. So no worries."

"That is well."

Taking up his quiver, Legolas climbed the stairs and ducked inside the cabin. Shrugging out of his parka, the Elf tossed it across the chair closest to the door, set his bow against the other chair, and laid his quiver atop the parka. Moving about the cabin, he opened every compartment to inspect what was inside and locate the emergency equipment in case it was needed later.

Slamming one door a little too fiercely, the Elf smoothed the hapless wood in silent apology. He knew it was wrong to take his ill temper out on the cabinetry. Already, his irritation had resulted in his nearly running over someone as he had exited the terminal. Nothing can change the fact that I do not want to be returning to Scotland, but that does not mean I must throw a tantrum worthy of the Evenstar herself.

The only access in and out of Meyer's Chuck, Alaska - where Legolas had spent the last half-century - was by float plane. Those living there, including the Elf, had liked it that way. He had arrived fifty-three years before with nothing but the clothes he wore and the skills he'd learned in Middle-earth. He left sullen and resentful at the necessity calling him home, with only a few more clothes and his weapons in hand.

Having my knives with me is always an improvement. He glanced at the cabinets again. Best I store them out of reach of the child, who will hopefully share the cockpit with its father and leave me a little more time without the constant irritation of Mortal company.

Legolas knew he had been too long away, and he would have been longer away, except that Haldir had contacted him via e-mail a few days before. Trouble was brewing on the company board – trouble from a certain board member who hadn't been there when Legolas had been in charge. Trouble from someone Haldir wasn't certain he could handle by himself.

I can handle the board, Legolas thought. What I am fast losing patience with is my inability to handle my own emotions. I spent over fifty years alone, yet I return feeling no better than the day I left.

He had been furious that day in Paris when he had walked away from Isabel Hamilton and left her to whatever fate had planned for her without him. No matter how much he had tried to show his love, she had made it very clear she wanted nothing to do with him: she wanted neither his protection or his love.

Legolas had tolerated her abuse long enough, had walked away in a fury and cut himself off from his own kind in an effort to heal. While in Alaska, he had also resolved to never let down his emotional walls and make the same mistake again.

I wanted what I cannot have – to belong with someone and to someone, he acknowledged, pacing the jet's small cabin like a caged tiger. That's obviously impossible this side of Valinor. I have known that for millennia, so what foolishness made me delude myself into pursuing it with anyone, let alone Her?

Haunted by the past, Legolas was also held prisoner by it – and not only Middle-earth's past with its War of the Ring and Aragorn's death and most of the Eldar's departure. He had only to drop into memory, and it was as if Isabel still lived, still taunted him for his imperfections and failure to please her. She still rejected him for his vulnerabilities as well as his needs, neither of which had been shared by her.

Damn you to whatever hell exists for fallen daughters of time, Legolas thought, snatching open the next cabinet. And damn my waking sleep that will not let you go.

# #

The inside of Ivy's nose was freezing and so were her lungs as the cold air carried a burn all its own. Bounding up the jet's stairway, she re-entered the small cabin only to stop dead at the sight of a second passenger.

Oops. Is that the pickup? I thought the pilot meant a package, not a person. The cabin of the Lear suddenly seemed much, much smaller as she stared at the new occupant. Who is that, and why do I have to travel with him?

The new passenger was broad-shouldered and had an elegant back, all outlined beneath a tight black wool sweater. Hard muscles moved easily beneath it, and his waist-length blonde hair flowed with him as he reached into a cabinet. Slamming the door, he muttered in something that wasn't English.

He reached for the long-bow propped against the chair with a movement so fluid and graceful, Ivy thought she might never breathe again. Her heart skipped when a pointed ear peeked delicately through his hair and he half-turned toward her. Shadows dusted the skin beneath his high cheekbones, and all of him glowed in the cabin's dim lighting. Long, slender fingers secured the bow behind Ivy's chair, which led Ivy's gaze to the worn quiver waiting to be stowed.

She stared in disbelief at the faded blue peacock etched in the leather casing and holding court with a pair of long knives. Their metal glowed almost white in the cabin lighting. Long... white... knives....

"Oh, my God," Ivy whispered.

He glanced over his shoulder at the sound of her voice, and Ivy fell into eyes the color of the sea.

"Mae govannen," she breathed.


His voice was low and beautiful. He turned toward her, and his aura vibrated with contained power and a strange beauty Ivy realized no book could ever convey. This, then, was an Elven warrior, and Ivy no longer doubted their existence.

She wouldn’t have to reach Scotland to find out if Halden Greenwood was a crackpot wannabe. Before her was an Elf. Definitely an Elf. The first she had ever seen.

Nodding to Ivy in what felt like dismissal, the Elf reached to secure his quiver.

He has to be Legolas, Ivy's thoughts raced. I'm stuck in a LearJet with the most dangerous of Elves, that's what I get for not believing they exist. Haldir of Lothlórien really did buy me pizza the other night, and I owe Mom a huge apology.

Oh, look at him, he's like the finest of stallions - all fire and strength and pride. I'd give anything to sketch him.

"You should sit down," he said in what she now recognized as Sindarin. "We'll be leaving soon."

"Pardon me, lassie." A harsher voice intruded before Ivy could reply. A pair of heavy hands landed on her hips. "I need to get by."

Startled, she sprang forward.

"Haldir said to give this to you." Alastair handed a cell phone to Legolas.

"Tapadh leat." The Elf turned on the phone. "My old one died in Meyers Chuck."

"Aye, Haldir said that, too. He's the first number on speed dial.

Legolas glared at the small thing in his hand. "Where is speed dial?"

"That button and then that one will get you to Haldir. That's all you'll be needing for now." The pilot turned from the Elf studying the cell phone to retract the plane's steps and secure the door. "Buckle yourselves in. Our next stop is New York City."

Alastair retreated back into his cockpit.

"Please." Legolas gestured to the seat nearest him. 'Sit' was the inherent order.

He wants to sit closest to the door, Ivy realized. In case of what? A UFO attack?

Taking a deep breath, she frantically sought the right Sindarin verb tense and hoped she got it right. "I was sitting where you are now. Let me move my things."

Rather than step aside, Legolas reached down and searched the chair. Retrieving Ivy's purse and sketch pad, he all but shoved them at her. Ivy tucked away her things before sitting down in the chair farthest from him and was careful to never take her eyes off of him.

Long fingers snagged the seatbelt dangling at her side and thrust it at her. "Put this on. Now."

"Thank you," she whispered, again in Sindarin, and did as he ordered.

"Where did you learn the language you speak?" the Elf demanded in English.

"College," she whispered.

"Forget everything you think you learned."

She winced. "That bad?"

His smiled was tight, with the ghost of a dimple. "Yes."

"It's forgotten."

I wonder what I said? came the frantic thought. Did I address him in the wrong tense or as a child or something? Did I say something offensive?

Oooh, I forgot he hates my family. Mom warned me to avoid him, and she was right, but how can I possibly avoid him in here?

The engines came alive, and the plane rolled toward the runway. Ivy scarcely noticed.

"You stare at me as if you've never seen an Elf before."

"I haven't. Until two days ago, I didn't know you existed outside of books and a few New Zealand films."

That won his silence for a few seconds. His gaze on her was unnerving, though. "Who are you?"

It wasn’t a request for information, it wasn’t even a demand. It was a command she dared not defy.

"My name is Ivy MacLeod." It took two tries for her to get it out, and even then her voice was little more than a whisper.

The blue eyes narrowed, and Ivy could sense the Elf tensing as if preparing for a fight. "You are Marian's daughter."

"And she-bitch Isabel's grand-daughter."

The Elf made a noise somewhere between startled and disgusted. Turning away, he settled back and gazed out the window. His fingers curled tight around the arm of the seat until his knuckles showed white, and every line of his slender body was rigid.

There endeth the conversation, thought Ivy. Yup, I think maybe Mom was right about Elves, because this one does feel dangerous and very, very angry. If he were a stallion, I’d be waiting for his teeth to come at me.

She watched him out of the corner of her eye for a long time, wondering if he'd turn her way again, but he never moved or spoke. An hour turtled by. Ivy wished she had the courage to reach for her pad and sketch to whittle away the time, but instinct told her not to attract the eye of the predator.

Reason said her instincts were being ridiculous: he was an Elf, not an assassin. Haldir had said Legolas would never hurt her, and Ivy hoped Haldir was right. It wasn’t as though she could fight or run away, so Ivy settled for trying to breathe through the adrenaline rush and the butterflies in her stomach. She tried being as small and quiet as possible, so as not to draw his obvious wrath down on her.


Legolas thought the girl fell asleep somewhere over Ontario. Feeling her tension ease and hearing her breathing steady, he pulled out his new cell phone, punched the two buttons Alastair had pointed out, and waited.

"Yes, Legolas?" Haldir sounded far too amused for his own good.

"What is she doing on my plane?"

"You were both in the general vicinity and traveling to the same meeting," came the reasonable answer. "Have you frightened her yet into ripping open the cabin door and jumping?"

"Don't be ridiculous. You told me Marian was a member of our board. What happened to her? Why are we hosting this - this child?"

"Marian recently married Reuben Matheson of Louisville, Kentucky and resigned before her association with us could result in Mr. Matheson demanding a quick annulment, or in the board accusing Marian of sleeping with the enemy."

"I see."

"How are you and Ivy getting on?"

"We've barely exchanged two sentences. It shall stay that way."

"So that's why you're speaking to me in Sindarin and ignoring her? Surely your father taught you better than that. Where did you leave your manners?"

"In Ithilien, centuries ago." He ground out the words. "Besides which, the girl is sleeping. Not to mention what little Sindarin she knows is atrocious. What in all the hells of Angmar possessed you to put me on a plane with Isabel's grand-daughter?"

"The two of you had to meet some time. Better it happen now than the morning of our meeting. Reports delivered to us over the years suggest that Ivy is nothing like Isabel, so do try to give her some small chance? Had I allowed you to meet here in Lairg, you'd have spent entire days avoiding her."

"Considering everything her family has put me through, that is best. I have no wish to interact whatsoever with any more Queen’s Daughters."

Haldir sighed. "The girl knows nothing of us. She'll need someone to acclimate her to our ways."

"You have that task well in hand. Please continue as you began."

"Why, you little --"

"We will pass the night in New York. Once Alastair files his flight plan, he will let you know when we expect to arrive in Lairg. Good-night, Haldir. As always, I thank you for your efforts on my behalf, if not your thoughtfulness."

Legolas snapped closed the cell phone before Lothlórien's former marchwarden could sputter any reply, Doggedly ignoring his traveling companion, the Elf returned to brooding over the bank of clouds beyond the jet's left wing.

# #

Ivy jarred awake to a dark, chilled cabin. Uncurling painfully, she set her feet on the floor and winced as her back and neck protested the movement. Glancing at her watch, she saw that she'd been asleep for nearly four hours.

Serves me right for reading about Isabel and her lover so late last night. Stealing a glance at the Elf across the aisle, she thought, I swear he's in the same position as he was hours ago.

Squirming as an urgent physical need made itself known, Ivy glanced back at the narrow hallway behind their two seats. Two small sleeping bunks were visible at the aft end of the jet, but little else.

"Excuse me?" she whispered, hoping those elegant pointed ears would hear her.

Slowly, regally, the Elf turned his head. Cool blue eyes regarded her, but he did not speak.

"I'm sorry to disturb you, but do you happen to know where the bathroom is?"

"Haldir recently purchased this plane." He matched her quiet tone. "I have never before been aboard."

"Oh. I didn’t realize. I’m sorry to have bothered you."

"The facilities should not be difficult to find."

Rising in one smooth motion, the Elf stepped into the aisle, which sent Ivy leaping back against her seat to get out of his way. He didn’t react, but continued to eye the rich ash paneling running from cabin floor to ceiling.

Ivy gathered the courage to creep along in his wake, urgency making her bolder than she would have been otherwise. She caught her breath as she realized her companion was glowing softly in the darkened cabin. The sound caught his attention, and he turned, his gaze questioning.

"Um, Hald...Haldir said we should look for the fireflies," Ivy offered, thinking fast, "but I don’t know what he meant."

"I do." The Elf glanced upward, and Ivy followed his lead. Pinpricks of light sparkled on the ceiling.

"There are your fireflies." The Elf offered what might have been a smile, but to Ivy it more resembled a long-suffering grimace. "You'll soon learn that the marchwarden of Lothlórien indulges the whimsical."

"At the moment, I hope he indulged himself with some facilities on this plane."

"We shall see." He pressed a hand against the wood, and a compartment sprang open. "Closet."

Ivy explored a compartment on the other wall. "Flotation vests and flares."

The Elf moved farther down the corridor to locate another compartment. Longer and wider than the others, its door sprang open and the Elf pulled it back before nodding at Ivy. "Success."

"Thank you so much." She gave an embarrassed smile before slipping beneath his arm and inside the small compartment.

Thank you? Legolas stared at the closed closet door before turning to pad back up the aisle. She thanked me. And she sounded sincere. Of course, that may have been need increasing her gratitude, but still she did say it.

Isabel never thanked me for anything. Ever. He settled back into his chair. Perhaps Haldir is right, it would not kill me to exchange words with this girl before the meeting. He drummed his fingers on the armrest. I have welcomed and mentored Queen's Daughters in the past, does this one deserve anything less?

Isabel lies in her grave. My bitterness toward her should not be allowed to influence my treatment of a child who has so far offered me only respect. And she has only just learned of us? How ill-prepared she is for the coming confrontation. How brave she is to fly alone across an ocean to confront a bevy of Elves she has met only in realms of fantasy. She has no idea what awaits her in Scotland, or the Machiavellian board members she will meet.

I am certainly guilty of being in conflict with her these past hours, and my irritable manner cannot have been comfortable for her to endure. How foolish and rude of me to indulge in such temper toward her, as I may find myself needing her support in the days to come. I told Haldir the truth, my manners have been lost to me for some time. It seems this is the time to reclaim them.

# #

The girl in question returned a short while later. Looking puzzled, she remarked, "The soap Haldir provided is deep purple, and I don't recognize the scent."

"Elderflower. It is made in Lairg, as it was in Imladris."

"Lairg?" she ventured, recognizing the word as one Haldir had mentioned on the phone.

"The village below my home in Scotland. The scent is said to uplift the spirit."

"It's lovely." Ivy didn't voice her gratitude that the soap hadn't stained her Gentian Violet purple.

Settling back, she refastened her seatbelt before the Elf could order her to do so. Her fingers fumbled slightly as he never stopped watching her.

Is this what prey feels like? she wondered.

"I am told your mother did not prepare you for us."

His tone seems to have softened, Ivy noted, along with his mood. Maybe he had a nap, too? "My mother said only that Haldir is a sweetheart, and you are dangerous."

"Did she?" Narrowing his eyes, the Elf rested his chin in the palm of his hand. "Exactly who do you think I am, Ivy MacLeod?"

"Legolas Thranduilion."

His smile had the affect of softening his gaze and briefly revealing his dimples. "I am Legolas, but to the Mortal world I am Lee Greenwood the Third, and you must not forget to use that name while we are among Men. Did Marian tell you of our business endeavors?"

"No. My mother married Reuben Matheson recently, and she was afraid he'd catch her talking about Greenwood. So even if she wanted to tell me more, she was too afraid to try. She told me to contact Haldir, and I did a bit of Internet research before calling him. So, um...big and wealthy is about all I know." She took a deep breath and dared question the Dangerous One before his mood shifted again. "Did you really do everything Tolkien said you did?"

"A fair bit." He inclined his head. "So your mother thinks Haldir is...a sweetheart, but she has little use for the rest of us?"

"Mom seems really timid about anything to do with Elves," Ivy tentatively explained. "I'm sure Isabel told my mother some biased stories, but since my mother never met you, I don't think she has any right to judge. All I know is Haldir really took charge and fixed some stuff for me when I called him a couple of nights ago."


Ivy nodded. "He paid my mortgage and my heating bill and ordered me a pizza, all from thousands of miles away. It was pretty amazing."

"Haldir enjoys taking care of people. He will be happy to know he pleased you." The Elf studied her in silence for a moment. "Do you believe I am dangerous?"

She started to reply, only to hesitate before beginning again. "You're a warrior, so of course you can be dangerous. Violent even, when you need to be. Protectors usually are. Dangerous, I mean."

Legolas leaned toward her, and Ivy resisted the impulse to pull back from the intensity he projected. "Did you just now weigh polite Mortal society's need for empty words of reassurance against your instinct to speak the truth?"

"Um...yes," she admitted, feeling her color rise.

The Elf stretched his long legs before him, crossed his arms, and gave a lazy smile. "Never be afraid to speak your truth when dealing with Elvenkind, Ivy MacLeod. Falsehoods in the name of politeness are still lies. Only remember that, for us, words contain the power to create or destroy, so it is good for you to consider their effect before you speak. You must also know that I would never hurt you."

"Okay," she said, more because Legolas seemed to expect an acknowledgement than out of any real understanding of what he'd just said.

"Tell me again why you stare at me so," he all but commanded.

She immediately dropped her gaze. "I don't mean to. It's just that up until two days ago I believed you were only a fantasy character. I thought my mother had gone crazy when she told me you were real."

"And now?" The Elf's voice dropped to a dangerous purr.

She shivered slightly. "I believe in you. There's no mistaking you."

"I suppose not." His blue eyes studied her at length. "You offer me respect where Isabel offered none. She resented what she perceived as my superiority over her and fought long and hard to prove herself my equal."

"I...I don't think I'm...that I'd ever dare...I mean, you're Elven and immortal. Of course you're superior. Last night I read the journal Isabel left behind, so I have some small idea of what she put you through." She winced as his blue eyes grew hard. "I’m sorry, I know her journal is an invasion of your privacy, but I wanted to know how crazy she got with you."

His eyes didn't soften, so Ivy tore her gaze away to stare at her dirty sneakers instead. "She was really crazy with you. Oblivious and cruel. After everything she did, it hardly seems fair that you have to put up with me."

"I am not upset with you. You are not Isabel."

"But you're upset all the same."

"Not with you," Legolas repeated. "Haldir is experiencing some difficulty with a board member. I must return and deal with the problem, but I would rather have stayed in Alaska. I also stink. That is all."

Her head snapped up, and she stared at him. "You what?"

"I have not bathed properly since winter began because the ice was thick and the water most cold where I lived. I did not expect to encounter anyone else on this journey. It embarrasses me to realize I most likely smell of the bear parka I wore from the wilderness."

"I don't blame you for not wanting to bathe in ice, and I've smelled bear before."

He threw her a look of blatant disbelief.

"I grew up on a ranch in Darby, Montana," she explained. "My grandfather shot a few bears, and I don't think you smell bad at all."

"You are very gracious."

"Is there anything I can do to help? Stay out of your way, perhaps? Stay out of your life?

"You must vote as your conscience dictates at the meeting. Haldir will prepare us both for what is to come."

She shivered and rubbed her arms.

"Are you cold?" Legolas asked.

"A little. Haldir tried to warn me, but I don't think I packed very well for this trip."

Rising, the Elf retrieved the aforementioned bear parka and handed it down to her. "If the smell truly does not offend, you may wish to put this on. It will keep you warm."

Taking the coat, she shrugged into it. "Did you kill the bear yourself?"

"Yes. But only after he broke into my cabin in search of something to eat and tried to add me to the list." Sliding back a panel in the arm of his chair, Legolas briefly studied the array of colored buttons revealed there before pressing one. "Alastair."


"Please raise the cabin temperature a few degrees."

"Certainly, m'laird."

"If you were anything like Isabel," said Legolas, watching Ivy burrow into the parka, "you would have rejected that coat in favor of buying a four-thousand dollar Russian sable on Madison Avenue."

She wrinkled her nose, grateful for the warmth his smelly coat provided. "Madison Avenue really isn't my style. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?"

"The answers are yours if they are mine to give."

"Professor Tolkien's books...are they real? Accurate, I mean?"

"Essentially, yes." Steeping his fingers, Legolas swung his chair closer so that his knees were nearly touching hers. "I was living in Lairg when The Hobbit was published in 1937. The Elves remaining in this world thought it an innocuous revelation since it was a book written for children."

"How did Tolkien find out--"

"Julien Lovell is a member of our board. He is an Elf and was given an Elven name, but refuses to use it. Born in 1872, Julien was raised in London by parents who have since gone Oversea. Attending Judas College in Oxford as an amusement early in this century, he set about obtaining a seat at graduation in their ancient history department as a further amusement. During his tenure, he met a certain professor of linguistics and confided our history to the professor over a series of months.

"I was living in Alaska when The Fellowship of the Ring was released in 1954," Legolas continued. "Haldir wrote me with some alarm, but since the letter was delayed six months he was forced to deal with the matter himself, as well as with the matter of The Two Towers being published only four months later.

"The board disciplined Julien, who resigned his Oxford seat at their request. As the entire book was in the publisher's hands and two-thirds of it had already reached the public, there was little we could do beyond that. Luckily, it has been fairly simple for our communities to conceal themselves using a variety of techniques we've employed for many years. It also helped that some of the details Julien shared are inaccurate because he did not live through the events he revealed, and that he did not confide anything to the professor beyond the Fourth Age. We are also fortunate that the topography of Middle-earth has changed dramatically over the millennia, so that little to do with us is easily traceable."

"What's different now?" Ivy asked.

"For one thing, the forest entirely reclaimed Imladris after Lord Elrond departed to the Undying Lands, and the Celts settled in the area some centuries later. Located in Wales, what was Imladris became a coal mine."

"That's terrible," Ivy breathed, horrified.

"It is not so terrible to those of us who would prefer Middle-earth remain but a fantasy to the world of Men. Another example is that the extinct volcano of Mordor lies beneath Edinburgh. The castle is built on its remains."

"You're kidding."

"Would that I were."

"What about Ithilien?" Ivy asked cautiously.

Legolas' smile was immediate and warm. "North Ithilien has survived. You will see for yourself tomorrow, when we arrive in Lairg."

Ivy shook her head. "How in the world did your corporation become involved with my family?"

Legolas' expression grew solemn. "I made a promise to Aragorn."

"Oh, wow. He wasn't just a character in a book? He actually lived?"

"He lived," Legolas confirmed. "I promised to watch over and protect his line, and you are a descendant of that line. You are the Queen's Daughter."

Ivy blinked. "Even if I am related to Arwen and Aragorn, I'm obviously no half-Elven princess. There must be hundreds of generations between us."

"You are the Queen's Daughter," Legolas insisted.

"Um...okay." Unable to wrap her mind around what the Elf was telling her, Ivy sought to redirect the conversation. "Why is the Queen's Daughter on your board?"

"You are aware that some Elves came to live in North Ithilien after the War of the Ring?" Off of Ivy's nod, he continued. "Our board was originally a council was originally created to accommodate those Elves. After Aragorn died, the council decreed that the eldest Queen's Daughter of each generation was to hold a chair at our table."

"So your council replaced Elrond's?"

"As much as it could at the time without his wisdom to guide it. Lúthien was promised her line would never die, and the Evenstar's line has been preserved through every first-born daughter. Aragorn's mortal line continued through his sons to intermarry with the daughters of Men including the bloodlines of Gondor and Rohan. But those cities fell to ruin eventually along with the rest of Middle-Earth.

"North Ithilien's original holdings were entrusted to me by Aragorn during his reign as king of Gondor, but as the generations passed Eowyn and Faramir's people joined us as well. Ithilien became a closed community after Gondor fell some years later, and the people now living in Lairg are the descendents of those who lived in ancient Ithilien, Gondor and Rohan.

"We were sustaining for millennia. Our isolation ended after the Roman Empire invaded Britain and the world of Men intruded. We had to choose between accommodating them to some degree, or perishing as their evolution overtook us. In what you know as the Middle Ages, we established ventures in ship-making and distilleries, textiles and fair lending in times of usury. Much of what we began is still part of our subsidiaries to this day. Greenwood Enterprises was established as a holding company – a legal, umbrella entity that oversees everything else - and so the council evolved into a corporate board of directors."

Ivy tried to keep up. "So what you're saying is that for the past...however many thousands of've personally been responsible for looking after every Queen's Daughter that came along, any other descendents of the Telcontar line, and also any Elves and Mortals in general who came to settle in Ithilien?"

"Yes. Haldir and the twins helped."

"The twins. Elrond's twins? Elladan and Elrohir never went Oversea?"

Legolas nodded. "Their aid has been invaluable. Others involved themselves as well across the ages."

"Yeah, but I notice Haldir didn't send up a flare for the twins or anyone else when he needed help," Ivy noted. "You're the one flying home from your sabbatical to put out the fire."

"There are extenuating circumstances."

"Maybe. But it still sounds like you've taken care of everyone and everything for hundreds of years, but they can't take care of themselves for even fifty?"

"I made a promise, they did not. There are also other concerns at work, about which you know nothing." Setting his jaw, Legolas looked away. "Yet."

Ivy thought about that. "Things you can't tell me for fear of influencing my vote at this meeting?"


Expelling a sharp breath, Ivy thought it prudent to choose another topic of discussion. "The Internet said Haldir's personal worth is something like twenty-five billion pounds. Is that true?"

"I have been away since 1951 and so am not familiar with the figure. But it is probably close to that amount, which in turn should be similar to the worth of every other board member. Greenwood itself is worth a great deal more."

"You've done really well," she said quietly.

"I am glad you think so. The Queen's Daughters have sat openly on Greenwood's board of directors since British law evolved in the nineteenth century to allow women to hold property. Before that, they and the other female Elves on the board sat in secret."

Legolas leaned forward, his blue eyes intense. "Queen's Daughter is a position you hold by right of birth, Ivy. That right that has been passed in a direct line from Arwen and Aragorn's first-born daughter in an unbroken line from mother to daughter. The position is yours until you pass it on as your mother did, or until the time of your death. You are entitled to your share of the corporation's dividends for as long as you live, whether you actively serve on the board or not."

"Dividends?" she whispered.

"The monies are paid quarterly into your account, which Haldir will see to if he hasn't already. As you observed earlier, we've done very well for ourselves over the centuries. A few have dared called it 'insanely wealthy.' It is every Queen's Daughter's right to share in that wealth."

Ivy's eyes widened. "Simply by being born?"


She thought for a moment. "Did my mother know about this?"

"Marian was an active member in my absence, so she must have known."

"I don't think my mother has ever used any of the money Haldir provided."

"Perhaps she mistrusted Elven money as she mistrusted us," Legolas suggested.

Ivy nodded. "She worked as a legal secretary, and we struggled every year to pay the bills and property taxes on the house in San Francisco. The mortgage wasn't paid off when my grandmother died, and my mother also had to take out an equity loan to repair the roof when I was in high school. Mom used to tell me we'd never be rich, so I could forget that fairy tale."

"That fairy tale has now become truth."

"You're serious, aren't you?" Off of Legolas' nod, she pursued, "You're really that wealthy?"

He regarded her mildly. "How much did you say Haldir was worth?"

"Um... around twenty-five billion."

"We have been making money and compounding interest for a very long time."

"Congratulations. The mind boggles." Ivy grinned at him. "I still don't understand why you'd want a Mortal to sit on your Elven board. We're so inferior to your race, it must be like inviting a toddler to sit in with a group of nuclear physicists."

"You are no Mortal, Ivy MacLeod. You are one of us."

She shook her head. "No, I'm not. I can't be, even if I am related to Arwen and Aragorn. He wasn't immortal, and Arwen loved him so much, she gave up her immortality. I thought only Elrond, his brother and their kids were able to choose their race, or was the professor wrong about that, too?"

"He was not wrong. What the professor was not told, and therefore did not relay, is that for reasons unknown to all except Iluvator, the first-born daughter of every Telcontar generation has proven immortal."

"But that would mean there have been hundreds of Queen's Daughters!" Ivy exclaimed. "Why haven't I heard from any them, or at least gotten invitations to the annual family reunion?"

"Because every Queen's Daughter I have ever known chose to live in the world of Men and somehow gotten herself killed," Legolas said sharply. "Like Isabel."

"Every one of them?" Ivy echoed, a shiver running down her spine.

"Yes, with the current exception of your mother and yourself. And Arwen, of course, but we do not speak of her."

"You don't speak of--"Ivy sputtered. "Oh, come on, you can't stop the story there. Arwen followed Aragorn into death, didn't she?"

"She tried." Legolas shook his head and seemed both disgusted and amused at the memory. "Long she mourned Aragorn, for she did love him. A year after his death, her brothers and I escorted Arwen back to Lorien. She claimed to be fading, but we never saw any sign of it.

"Together, we approached Cerin Amroth and the Queen of Gondor lay down on the forest floor. Her skirts flowed gracefully across the leaves and moss, she closed her eyes and waited for death to claim her. Waited, that is, until I informed her at sunset that bugs had begun making a home in her hair for the night. Lurching to her feet, Arwen began dancing about, shrieking for me to get the bugs off of her. That was the end of that. She faded no more."

"So she's still around?"

"Yes. But as I said, we do not speak of her. She does not travel and is not a member of our board. You will not meet her in Scotland."

"Is she in seclusion, still mourning for Aragorn after all this time?" The question earned her an icy glare, so Ivy changed the subject. " you're telling is that I'm immortal as well as going to be rich?"


"How am I supposed to deal with this?" Ivy whispered as her stomach turned somersaults and her brain refused to process the news. "How did the other Queen's Daughters deal with this?"

The plane's engines slowed in the next instant, and the Lear began losing altitude.

"We seem to be approaching the airport," said Legolas, glancing out of the window. "Let us prepare to land and resume our conversation later. We'll be staying the night in New York, as our pilot must rest."

"Okay," Ivy agreed with reluctance. Her mind whirled with what she'd been told, and what her mother had not dared to tell her.

I can't be immortal. I mean, I’ve been getting older and aging right along. Right? A little voice in Ivy's mind pointed out that while her mother was forty-five, Marian didn't look a day older than thirty.

How does someone live forever in this world? Glancing at Legolas, she wanted desperately to ask him, as well as a hundred more questions he'd raised by dropping a series of bombshells on her psyche.

The plane dipped again, and Ivy chewed her lip as she sensed the rabbit hole into Elfland had, with Legolas' entrance, transformed itself into an emotional roller coaster.

There's no time to think about any of this right now, Ivy realized. All I can do is keep riding the roller coaster and hope it doesn't derail.


Where did the day go? wondered Ivy, staring out of the Lear's window to see that it was already dark in New York and lightly snowing.

"It's probably best if you leave behind the bearskin and wear your own jacket," Legolas observed as Ivy gathered her things and the plane taxied to a halt. "That smell is not first impression we wish to make on New York."

"I suppose not." She did as he suggested with reluctance, for as smelly as the parka was, it was warmer than her own ski jacket ever would be. And it's his, she thought. That makes it special.

Ivy followed Legolas down the jet's stairway and across the wet tarmac to where a gleaming black Phantom Rolls Royce waited in the night. A gray-suited driver emerged to nod politely at Legolas.

"You are Mr. Greenwood?"

"I am."

"Welcome to New York, sir." He opened the back door. "I have the honor of driving you in to the Four Seasons Hotel. Please make yourself comfortable while we tuck away your luggage."

"Thank you."

With a hand to Ivy's elbow, Legolas guided her to the elegant car and slid in beside her. The door closed and a silent world descended as Ivy sank into the plush black lounge seat. Soft instrumental music played from unseen speakers. This car leaves the Mercedes from this morning looking like a poor cousin. And did I leave home only this morning?

"One used to be able to hear nothing but the clock ticking while sitting inside one of these," he murmured.

"Most clocks have batteries now and don't tick at all." Ivy peered at the round clock featured prominently in the middle of the dash. "Even if this one ticks, you probably couldn't hear it through the privacy shield."


Within seconds, they were underway with Alastair sitting up front with the driver and the stately Rolls carrying them into the heart of Manhattan. With the press of a button, Legolas slid down the glass separating them.

"Would you mind turning off the music?"

"Certainly, sir."

The glass slid back up. Dead silence followed, by the Elf's command.

He must not like elevator music any more than I do, Ivy reflected.

The Elf drummed his fingers on the soft leather. "I should prepare you for what comes next, but I've been away so long I'm not sure what comes next. Have you ever been to New York?"


"I've not been back for years. Haldir told me that a few days ago the media was informed Halden Greenwood is in failing health. It was said his son Lee Greenwood the Third, who has been raised and educated in seclusion, is poised to take over his father's duties. Some people are greatly interested in the heir apparent to Greenwood Limited. From the moment we emerge from this car, we should expect the unexpected."

"What does that mean, exactly?" Ivy asked cautiously.

"It means we must not react in public, no matter what happens. Also, you must remember to call me Lee. At some point during our stay in New York, we will probably encounter a photographer seeking to obtain the first photo of Lee Greenwood. If you wish to preserve your privacy, you should stay with Alastair. The media will then dismiss and ignore you."

"I don't mind if I'm photographed with you."

Legolas gave a thin smile. "You say that now, but most people take their privacy for granted until they lose it. If you walk beside me, you will be on display whenever we are in public. Lee Greenwood's insane wealth and unmarried status makes him of interest and prey to some Mortals. That interest is likely to include any female companion. That is the nature of the media beast we will be facing, here in New York and elsewhere."

"You speak of Lee as if the two of you are separate."

"We are. I am not him; he is the mask I must wear in the world of Men." Legolas flipped open his cell phone. "I must speak with Haldir before we reach the hotel. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to interrupt."

The conversation was conducted entirely in Elvish, but no matter its seductive beauty, Ivy could understand only the odd word – mostly her own name – so she chose to watch the cityscape gliding by instead of trying to eavesdrop. The endless array of lights and traffic, tall buildings and people were more than a little intimidating.

New York feels nothing like San Francisco. I'm so glad I'm not on my own here. Laying back her head, she closed her eyes and let Legolas' low voice and the motion of the car soothe her.

I'm starving, she realized on the edge of sleep, recalling that the last thing she'd eaten was a couple pieces of toast and a diet cola before leaving home. Home is so far away now.

# #

Ivy awoke when Legolas gave her arm a slight shake.

"We're here."

Sitting up, she gathered herself to follow the Elf as the driver opened the door. Ivy's artist's mind recorded that the glittering light bulbs of the Four Seasons' canopy made Legolas' long hair flow like liquid gold as he stepped from the Rolls. The next thing that hit her was a cold gust of wind and the jarring noise of the street that was so much at odds with the Phantom silence she was leaving.

Legolas reached back a hand, and Ivy grasped it automatically. That the Elf himself was attached to the hand was something her weary mind only semi-registered as he slid an arm around her waist and pulled her against him.

"Remember," he murmured so close to her ear that she felt his warm breath on her skin. "Stay close to Alastair, and call me Lee."

Alastair stepped up beside her as Legolas' warmth slipped away. He strode boldly through the glass-and-brass entry held open by a black-gloved doorman, with Ivy and the pilot following in his wake.

Limestone columns, a high backlit ceiling, and furnishings like an upper-class living room's, her artist's brain dutifully noted about the Four Seasons' lobby. Gather around, children. You're about to experience a truly grown-up hotel, where lots of money is being made and spent all over the place.

Following at tall Alastair's side and trying to look everywhere at once but not be obvious about it, Ivy saw ties properly cinched, custom-tailored suits freshly pressed, and expensive shoes perfectly polished. Where's Legolas – no, where's Lee - in all of this?

There he was, loitering at the express check-in window and looking like a bored Ivy League undergrad in a pair of faded jeans and a black wool sweater with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. The Elf's mane of blonde hair cascaded down his back, rippling and flowing in the subdued lighting.

On any other man, Ivy thought, that hair would look effeminate.

Shoving his hands into his pockets, the Elf coolly regarded the model-thin clerk on duty while Ivy snuck closer, the better to eavesdrop.

"My name is Lee Greenwood. I believe you have a room for me."

The clerk's smile revealed teeth so perfect and white they had to be capped. Her makeup was as flawless as her teeth, her gray suit immaculate.

"Good evening, Mr. Greenwood. Your father called to arrange everything, and the three-bedroom Royal Suite has been prepared for your use." She handed him a card-key. "Please let us know how we can make your stay with us more enjoyable."

Staring at the card-key, he turned it between his fingers. "I would like a car to drop us off at the Catacombs later this evening."

"The Rolls has been reserved for your use," was the clerk's immediate response. "Unless you'd rather have the Maybach?"

"My father would never forgive me if I requested the Maybach."

"Two hundred thousand pounds, that Maybach cost," Alastair whispered, standing behind Ivy.

She whistled low in appreciation.

The pilot shook Ivy's elbow. "Here now, lass. Don't be drawing attention to us."

"Sorry. What are the Catacombs?" she asked, never taking her eyes off of Legolas.

"What's called the tunnels under Rockefeller Center. There's shops and the like under the street."

"Could you please recommend a good Italian restaurant near the Catacombs?" Legolas was now asking the clerk.

"Puccini's is located across the street from where the Rolls will be dropping you. May I call and let them know you'll be arriving soon?"

Peering fitfully at the bank of clocks displaying international time behind the desk, Legolas followed up his performance by squinting. "I'm a bit shortsighted. What time is it now?"

"Seven-forty, sir."

"Please make a reservation for three to arrive between eight-thirty and nine."

"Very well, sir."

Turning on his booted heel, Legolas set off across the lobby. He gathered both of his companions with an arched eyebrow and a disapproving look that suggested he'd heard Ivy's whistle and every word of the whispered conversation that had followed. Unrepentant, Ivy sprinted a little and fell into step beside the Elf. Alastair trailed behind.

"What floor did they put us on?" Ivy asked.

"The thirty-second. I trust it's private." He led the way to the nearest bank of elevators.

A flash of light startled Ivy.

"What the--" She drew back, only to feel Alastair fetching up against her back.

"Steady, lass. Don't stop moving, or they'll have the laird for sure."

"Remember that photographer I warned you about earlier?" Legolas murmured.

They halted at the elevator and suddenly said photographer was leaping between it and them, driving Ivy farther back against Alastair while the lens was very nearly in Legolas' face. Two more flashes of light, and the man melted back into the decorative foliage while Ivy ducked her head and blinked in a vain effort to clear the spots before her eyes.

"I can't see," she whispered.

Legolas made what sounded like a growl as he slid an arm around a still-blinking Ivy to guide her inside the elevator. "Don't look at the camera next time. And keep your head down, as next time seems to be right now."

Turning with Legolas, she stared at the floor to protect what was left of her vision as Alastair joined them and more white light popped.

"You need to use that card-key of yours to get to the floor we want," the pilot said, sotto voce.

"Right. Thank you, gentlemen," Legolas addressed the photographers. Stepping forward, he jammed the card-key into the proper slot and punched the close button on the elevator panel. It seemed to take far too long before the car began its stomach-lurching rise to the thirty-second floor.

"They got Ivy." Alistair's tone suggested he was announcing her death.

"I told you to stay back with Alastair. Why didn't you?"

"There wasn't time. That...person...jumped out of the bushes, and everything happened so fast."

"Elden won't be pleased," Alastair warned.

Finally able to see once more, Ivy glanced between the two men. "Who's Elden?"

Legolas shrugged and ignored the question. "He has been displeased with me before. In any case, the media will not be able to identify her and should crop her image from any photos they may publish."

"Aye, let's hope so."

Ivy lightly nudged the Elf beside her. "You didn't even have to check in. What's up with that?"

"My father took care of everything in advance, so the only thing required upon check-out is my signature. They'll send on the bill on to him."

"Why are they being so nice?"

"Nice?" Alastair snorted. "They're not being nice, they're groveling. Basking in Halden Greenwood's fame and hoping to get his son's custom and more gold in the future. Make no mistake, lassie. It's plenty of inns I've seen while flying the elder Greenwood about, and this Four Seasons is no more than a shabby innkeeper's assembly line."

"What?" said Ivy, lost between the Scot's burr and his meaning.

"I think Alastair is saying if we watch closely, it will be fairly obvious that this hotel runs on two tracks."

The Scot nodded. "One's for the anonymous, and the other is for the anointed."

"So they think Lee is anointed, and that's why they're being nice?"


Legolas sighed. "Ivy, since you have Peredhil blood as well as Telcontar, you will undoubtedly learn to be less than impressed with such efforts. I believe, however, this hotel is one of my father's favorites."

"Halden's favored it with his Manhattan custom since it opened," the pilot confirmed. "But I ken there's nae so much groveling at the Ritz."

The elevator deposited them on a narrow corridor with sumptuous royal blue carpeting with golden fleur-de-lis, at the end of which was a white door bearing a brass plaque brazenly announcing, 'The Royal Suite.'

"The only royalty hereabout about is imported," Alastair groused, following his companions down the corridor.


On to next chapters

Return to Story List || Contact

DISCLAIMERS: Blood Ties and its characters/teleplays are the property of Tanya Huff, Insight Film, Chum TV, Kaleidoscope Entertainment and, their associates and license holders. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel the Series and their characters/teleplays are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, UPN, 20th Century-Fox and, their associates and license holders. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and all character names are the acknowledged trademarks of George Lucas and Lucasfilm. 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 on this site without permission for entertainment, not-profit purposes only. This site contains only fan-produced fiction and artwork which intend no copyright infringement.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. By entering this site, you agree to hold the author and website owner completely blameless and liable for absolutely nothing.