Cinderella in the White City by Shire Rose

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Cinderella in the White City


 

Amarie looked out the dirty window, watching the rain weave tiny rivers through the dust. She tried not wince as she heard a clatter of heavy footsteps upon the stairs.

"Amarie, you lazy good for nothing!" She stood still and said nothing savoring her last minute of peace. The door flew open and a tall dark-haired girl entered.

"Amarie" she shouted "For the last time, the banquet is tonight! If our gowns aren't finished to perfection in time I will personally make sure that you regret it."

Listlessly the girl called Amarie turned away from the window; she was slender and on the petite side with thick dark curls bunching rebelliously about her face. If she had not been so decidedly dirty and ragged she would have been extremely pretty in a wild sort of way. "I am coming" she said "the gowns will be ready."

"They had better" the other girl threatened.

Several hours and hundreds of stiches later Amarie put down the two completed gowns. One was a dark forest green velvet with tasteful gold accents while the other gleamed in the torchlight, a silky shimmering light green with silver trimmings. They will both look lovely she thought. As she stared at the gowns she suddenly made a decision.

King Elessar had put no restrictions on who was invited to the feast and so she would go. She had always wanted to see the legendary king and his mythical friends, and here was her chance. There were five others she remembered; Gimli the dwarf, three hobbits, strange merry creatures who in spite of their small stature could eat mountains of food, Iorath had once told her that one of them, Sam was his name had helped burn down the dark tower before she had been born, the others, Merry and Pippin were valiant knights of Rohan and Gondor.

And then there was the elf, the reason for her sister's choice of gowns. He was a prince among his own people, but he bound himself to Gondor for the love of the king who he thought of as a brother. Now he dwelt in Ithilian near Prince Faramir and his wife, she sighed, Ithilian was a very beautiful place, the elves lived there now and where their feet rested and their fingers lighted life reawoke and thrived. Elves fascinated her, they were strange and mysterious lovers of the stars and nature and she longed to visit their woods.

Unfortunately her sisters were also fascinated with elves, or rather with one particular elf, Prince Legolas. She had never seen him, but according to her sisters and most of the other unwed maids in the city he was very handsome. Somehow, she thought that even beautiful gowns and lovely faces would mean nothing to one who had helped destroy Sauron and was willing to leave his kingdom for the sake for a friend and no doubt had many elven admirers, but she saw no purpose in sharing this thought with her sisters.

They entered all too soon and several more hours went by in the flurry of preparation for the banquet in honor of Prince Elderion's coming of age. By the time she had finished she felt weary and alone. Her sisters had left, looking beautiful as always, their hair braided in the elven style that had become increasingly popular since the king's marriage to Queen Arwen.

Still she rummaged through her old chest and found what she sought; an old but clean grey gown of her mother's. Swiftly she slipped it on and combed through her untidy hair, hustling it into one thick braid. Then she retrieved her old brown cloak, she would not enter the banquet hall but perhaps she would be able to see what she wished from one of the garden walls.

She breathed deeply as she swished passed the guards, in the dark they could not tell how worn her attire was and she entered the palace gardens easily. Enchanted at their beauty she forgot her earlier purpose and wandered aimlessly, surely the hand of the queen had been at work among the blossoms for never had she seen so beautiful and wild a garden. A light step on the path brought her back to reality and she straightened up as a strange elf clad in green and brown stood before her. He smiled at her amazed look.

"I was just admiring the flowers" she stammered "I hope I haven't disturbed anything." He shook his head "Not at all, the gardens were meant to be used not simply stared at."

"Are you sure? I truly meant no harm" she muttered trying not to stare down at her worn gown, though in all honesty the elf's outfit was hardly less worn.

"I helped restore them" he laughed "they will not wither at your touch, my lady…?"

"Amarie, my lord."

"Just Laiqalasse, my lady Amarie. Are you here for the banquet?" She shook her head sadly "I just came to watch" she admitted. "Would you like to attend it?" he asked. She smiled "I would love to, but alas I am hardly suitably attired."

"That makes two of us" laughed the elf "If you would have me, I can arrange for you borrow a gown and I can escort you" he bowed. Amarie felt rather stunned "Why?" she asked. The elf laughed again "You are honest, my lady Amarie, and you appreciate the beauty of the starlight garden. Also I have been ordered to attend the banquet and I would rather escort one who is not overwhelmed by the fact that I am an elf." "Then I accept you kind offer, Laiqalasse, thank you." she managed.

She found herself being lead rapidly through a maze of corridors and staircases. He threw open a beautiful anteroom. "Wait here." And then he was gone. She felt slightly nervous, what if he was playing with her? What if she was found in the palace without permission? Then she remembered the kind look in his eyes and felt reassured.


Amarie stood in the center of the room tying the sash of the gown the elf had brought. It fit perfectly, a beautiful deep brown velvet that complimented her dark curls and silvery grey eyes. She left the long braid since there was no time for anything more elaborate. She opened the door, and tried not to stare, the elf had also changed. He was still wearing green and brown but new and simply but elegantly cut. His hair which she had not noticed was a rich gold about his shoulders, held back by simple braids. He bowed low and held out his arm, leaving Amarie to feel as though she had stayed into a legend.

She felt rather than saw the staring eyes when they entered the great hall. She felt Laiqalasse guide her towards the dais, and she looked up into a pair of kind and noble grey eyes. She bowed quickly, King Elassar, Queen Arwen, Prince Elderion, the princesses and the rest of the nobles were all before her eyes. They were smiling merrily.

Beside her, the golden haired elf inclined his head slightly. "King Elassar" he started formally "I have come as you ordered" She could have sworn he was smirking at the king "Please meet my lady Amarie."

And then it began, she found herself at the high table seated next to the famous halflings and Lord Gimli, apparently Laiqalasse was rather important. It was a merry dinner. The hobbits and the dwarf laughed and joked like children, becoming only more excited as the night wore on. Two identical elves joined them and before she knew it she was laughing with them.

When the dancing started, Laiqalasse lead her to the floor and everything whirled around her in a beautiful dream. She was a fine dancer but the elf was magnificent, she guessed it helped to have hundreds of years of practice. She found herself dancing with heroes she had only heard of in stories, the elven twins, Elladan and Elrohir who had fought before the black gate, the halflings Merry and Pippin and then Prince Elderion. She spun and twirled oblivious to the rest of the world. The prince was tall and handsome like his father, serious grey eyes becoming merry as they whirled across the floor. He laughed with her when an elderly couple bumbled into them and finally breathless and flushed she sat down with him to rest.

Aragorn eyed the errant prince before him. "What have you done this time, Laiqalasse?" he groaned with a sarcastic smirk as he said the prince's nickname. "The prince seems quite enchanted" retorted the incorrigible elf "It brings to mind another young man whose thoughts seemed to always turn towards a certain dark-haired Tinuviel" he smiled across at Arwen. "Where did you find her? Or do I not want to know?" asked the king. "She was admiring the garden because she did not feel properly dressed for the banquet but still wanted to see it." returned Legolas "She looked so fair and lonely, that I had to bring her in and let her enjoy it."

"Is that all?" asked Arwen.

"Well, she also didn't faint when she saw me" the prince grinned "And that is a very rare and admirable trait." Elladan and Elrohir who had overheard the end of Legolas' defense laughed at the look on their sister's face. "It true" growled the prince "There was pair of girls dressed in green who fell over when we walked in. It horrible and ridiculous, Aragorn you have do something about your subjects' obsession with titles!"

"They don't fall over when Elderion or I walk in" observed Aragorn. "Speaking of which, where is our son?" asked Arwen ignoring the fact that Legolas was looking rather murderously at her husband.
"Ahhhh, he is enjoying some time with the green maidens" laughed Elrohir pointing towards the prince and turning to smirk at Legolas, but Legolas was gone.

Amarie wandered back into the garden. The prince had risen to speak with the many guests who wished to congratulate him and Laiqalasse was laughing with the queen and her brothers. Before long she was deep in the garden amid the trees and flowers. She began to sing softly.

"Well, look who we have found." a malicious voice broke in over her singing. She looked up into the eyes of her sisters.

"The girl who caught Prince Legolas." sneered Arian "How did you manage that?"

"What?" gasped Amarie.

"Don't you know?" scoffed Ellian "After all you entered the great hall on his arm in front of everyone."

"No, his name was Laiqalasse, he is not the prince" she argued but in her heart she knew that they were right.

"And where might I ask did this fine gown come from?" snarled Arian "Did you steal it?" she tugged at the sleeve ripping the delicate trimming.

"Please" pleaded Amarie her wonderful night crashing about her feet "Please, I am borrowing it, don't ruin it." They laughed and the other sleeve lay ruined about her arm.

"What do you think you are doing?" asked a stern and very angry voice.

A lithe form landed before the three. "Laiqalasse, I am so sorry" gasped a horrified Amarie. He smiled at her and turned to the sisters.

"Do you know who I am?" he asked authoritatively.

"Prince Legolas" they stammered bowing. "Very well, perhaps you have also heard that I have a sister, Princess Erynel." They nodded mutely.

"The gown that you were tearing up belongs to her" Amarie stared aghast. "Come to the palace in the morning" he ordered "and apologize to my escort who you have insulted and laid hands upon."

They nodded again and crumpled to the ground. Legolas grinned over their heads at Amarie "I think that will do for now."


The second night of festivities Amarie was stunned to receive an invitation as a special guest of the Prince and Princess of Eryn Lasgalen.

Arian stared at the invitation in her sister's room unabashedly jealous. Apparently her scapegrace sister had won the regard of both her dreamy prince Legolas who had written to her himself (she recognized the strong, graceful handwriting due to some disgraceful and illegal prying and bribery) and his beautiful sister who was betrothed to some elven lord or another. She slipped the letter into her sleeve and went to find Ellian.

Amarie looked for her shoes for hours with increasing desperation. The invitation had been so gracious and kindly and she wanted desperately to accept it. But how could she enter the palace asking for Prince Legolas and Princess Erynel shoeless and without their letter? She had no doubts about who had been responsible for the disappearance of both but she could hardly order them returned, and so she sat disconsolately in her room and lamented her short and sweet time at the palace.

Oddly enough it was the strong and handsome face of the mortal prince that remained with her and gave her courage as she watched the sun sink in the sky.

There was a soft knock on the door and she hurried to open it before her sisters could chide her for neglecting her duties.

She opened it and stared.

Prince Eldarion stood smiling in front of her.

She looked down at her dirty dress and shoeless feet her hair falling undone about her shoulders. She wished she could sink through the floor and vanish as her sisters were fond of asking of her.

"My Lady" he said with a bow completely unfazed by her draggled but decidedly attractive appearance. The rosy blush in her cheeks only enhanced her natural beauty.

"Prince Eldarion" she managed "I would ask you in but I am afraid that I have nothing suitable to offer you."

He smiled again, his white teeth flashing in the sun. "Lasse was afraid that you might be hindered from making an appearance so I volunteered to escort you."

"Lasse?"

"Prince Legolas, that is what I called him as an infant and it has stuck ever since. Will you join me my lady?"

She gestured down at her unshod feet. "Like this?" Eldarion laughed "How little you known of us Lady Amarie. My father spent many years in wild as a ranger. Surely you do not think a little dirt and bare feet will make him send you from the palace?"

"But Prince Legolas and Princess Ery…"

"Have both lived in the wild as well…in fact they still return rather dirty at times." She laughed at the wry tone in his voice. "And you Prince Eldarion?"

"According to Lasse I attract more dirt even then my father" he glanced down as though expecting to find mud clinging to his tunic.

"If you will allow me my Lady I will carry you until I retrieve a pair of shoes for you." Not knowing what else to say and unaccountably excited she nodded in agreement.

They found a lovely pair of silver and green slippers in a shop on the sixth circle. The prince set her gently on a stool and slipped them on for her. Side-by-side and rather bedraggled they made their way into the palace past the smirking guards who were used to the unorthodox guests of the kindly king and his generous friends.

Erynel and Legolas were waiting for them in one of the corridors. Erynel whisked Amarie away to dress and laugh over the trifling things that women talk of before a dance. She clung to the slippers though and refused to where anything else to the dance. Erynel smiled secretively and said she understood (as indeed she did, perhaps more than Amarie did) and so though she wore one of the princess' own gowns she wore Eldarion's shoes when she entered the great hall on his arm.

Aragorn and Arwen gave each other a knowing glance as they saw the handsome couple while Legolas smiled and laughed unashamedly at their worried looks.

King and Queen turned on their old friend and told him in no uncertain terms that they would be speaking to him after the banquet, at which information he merely laughed the more.


The silver and green slippers gleamed in the light of the tapers as Amarie danced with the prince that night.

They sparkled under the light of the stars on the clear and windless night he danced with her in the queen's garden and asked her to become princess of Gondor.

They shone in the light of the rising sun the day that they were married before the white tree heavy with blossoms.

They twinkled merrily in the hands of beautiful children that ran about the palace playing hunt the slipper with a golden-haired elf lord who frequently acted child-like himself.

And in after years long after knowledge of the great war had faded away and the names of princes and kings and elven lords and ladies had been forgotten, still the tale of the slipper was recounted though twisted by the long years of telling.

 




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