Haldir of L'Oreal - Chapter 5

As Haldir and his brothers made their way through the towering mallorns, they heard the faint sound of horse's hooves coming down a path nearby. Hidden among the shadows of the trees, their cloaks dappled with warm sunlight and grey shadow, they waited to see who it was.

Some moments later, a maiden of rare beauty came into view, riding a glossy chestnut horse. She wore robes of flame-coloured satin that shimmered in the golden light that shone all around her. Her hair, glossy black as a raven's wing, floated softly down her back like a river of silk. And her eyes... her eyes were such an unusual shade of blue... the iridescent blue-green of a peacock's feather. Her name had been lovingly carved on the bark of countless mallorns in the realm of L'Oreal. Her name was Mary Sue.

Her diminutive stature hinted at her mysterious heritage - half elven, half hobbit. But her tiny form hid the fact that she was a warrior of no mean accomplishment. In battle, Mary Sue could, with effortless ease, make short work of creatures five times, even ten times, her size. The most fearsome creatures that Mordor sent forth would be ruthlessly returned to sender. They would crawl back in abject humiliation, licking their wounds, wondering to themselves whether the Unnamed himself could withstand her in battle.

She did not notice Haldir or his brothers, standing in the shadows of the trees, clad in their grey elven cloaks, and would have ridden past, had Haldir not called out her name. At the sound of his voice, she stopped at once and dismounted.

Looking out for his familiar, overdressed form, crowned with ridiculous braids, she was startled to see a tall elf dressed in a plain cloak, his beautiful golden hair tied back in neat marchwarden fashion.

Now that her attention was no longer distracted from his face by strange coiffure and attire, she noticed for the first time how handsome that face was.

Rumil and Orophin had tactfully vanished up a nearby mallorn that, however, commanded a good view of Haldir and Mary Sue.

Mary Sue was looking up at their brother in undisguised admiration.

"Haldir," she breathed.

Haldir was startled too. She had never looked at him like this before. He wondered for a moment whether she had mistaken him for someone else. But the one word that she had uttered so far was sufficient to indicate that she had identified him correctly. She had clearly called him "Haldir."

Was it his poetry that had impressed her? No, it couldn't be. Honesty compelled him to admit that his talent in that direction was limited. What then was the reason for her look of admiration? The only possible explanation appeared to be that there was something incredibly alluring about Rumil's old clothes.

Haldir fixed Mary Sue with a stern eye. "Fickle woman," he said, "to change your opinion of a person because of the clothes he wears."

But he thought to himself that he wouldn't mind going about in Rumil's old clothes for the rest of his life if their effect on her was going to be this satisfactory.

Mary Sue looked a little distressed at his accusation. "No, it's not like that at all," she said. "Haldir, if a jewel is beautiful in its own right, certain settings show it off to advantage and certain settings detract from its beauty."

Rumil and Orophin looked at each other, high up in their hiding place.

"Would you believe it, this is Hal she's talking about," whispered Rumil with a grin.

"Love is blind," chuckled Orophin.

But they both looked pleased. Haldir smiled down at the diminutive Mary Sue in embarrassed gratitude.

"Say something, Hal," urged Rumil from his mallorn branch, although he knew that his brother could not hear him.

But Haldir, for once, could not think of a thing to say. The usually voluble Haldir of L'Oreal was speechless.

Mary Sue wanted to kiss that embarrassed face. But there was a practical problem. She couldn't reach.

"Haldir, would you mind bending down a little, please?"

"Why," he asked, his vivid blue eyes suddenly sparkling with mischief.

She did not answer, but smiled up at him. He knew very well why.

"I have a better idea," he said, picking her up in his arms. A sudden unrelated thought occurred to him. "Mary Sue, if you're half-hobbit, how come you don't have hairy feet?"

"I'm just lucky," she said.

"No, I'm the one who's lucky," smiled Haldir. "I'm the luckiest person in the world."

Haldir and Mary Sue spoke no more for a while.

Perched high up on the branch of a golden mallorn, Rumil and Orophin sighed with satisfaction.

"Where did he learn to kiss like that," whispered Orophin admiringly.

"Hal is an individual of many talents," whispered back Rumil, with the air of a proud parent.

Haldir gently set Mary Sue back down on the ground and explained to her about the Orcs and the summons of the Lord Celeborn. "...and so I'm off to Caras Galadhon," he finished.

"Good luck, Haldir," she said, her jewel-like eyes full of concern. "Be of good hope, and may the stars shine upon the end of your road!"

He smiled and bowed. "Thank you, Mary Sue," he said.

He stood watching until the sound of the horse's hooves had died away into the distance, the rosy evening light playing on his golden hair.

Rumil and Orophin waited a while, giving him time to himself before they joined him again. "Our company's going to be a poor substitute for hers," said Orophin as they climbed down to rejoin their brother, who was lost in thoughts of Mary Sue.

When he saw them, Haldir hurriedly snapped out of his pleasant daydreams and assumed a look of stern determination. "Lets get going," he said.

They smiled at him. "Well, it looks like everything's all right now," said Rumil.

"Was it the poetry that did the trick, Hal," asked Orophin innocently.

"Oh, no, it wasn't that," said Haldir. "It was...er...something else."

"Hal, we have a confession to make," said Rumil. "We were sitting up in that mallorn over there, listening to every word."

Haldir jumped. "You heard every word? You were sitting up there snickering at me..."

Rumil wrapped a long arm around Haldir's shoulders. "Tell me, Hal. You've known us for years and years. Would we snicker at you?"

"Yes," said Haldir, simply.

Rumil nodded soberly. "It's shameful," he said. "Shameful."

Haldir looked at him enquiringly.

"Hal, we never take the time to appreciate the people we value most. Because I've spent all these years snickering at you, you've had to wait for a total stranger to tell you that you're devastatingly handsome... something I could have told you years ago..."

"Rumil," said Orophin patiently, "he cares about Mary Sue's opinion. But I don't think he cares about yours."

Rumil grinned. "You're right, I suppose..."

"No," interrupted Haldir, "you're wrong."

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