In Times Like These - Chapter 16- Darkness Looming

Title: In Times Like These

Author: Yih

Disclaimer: All characters are Tolkien other than my "OC."


For some reason my notes to all you reviewers were deleted so I was not very pleased to say the least since it took me a while to type them all up.

Thanks Nienna_Telrunya, PrincessofNúmenor, Iluvien, Lady_Shinigami, Dunwen (you didn't miss a chapter), angel_elf, gondorboromirbabe, karakie (three cheers, one of my betareaders!)


16: Darkness Looming (April 18, 2003 to April 21, 2003)

Everyone was doing something. Eowyn was sharpening her sword; Merry was tending to their food. All around her men were preparing for battle, getting ready for the dawn that was to signal the beginning of the start of a new age or the beginning of the end. Yet, she was the only one that wasn't doing anything. Unlike most cases in which she lost herself in the drowning absorption of her thoughts, this time her attention was directed toward something far more present.

She was tempted to slip the ring on, but she didn't. As she fingered the ring, memorizing every delicate line of the inscription, she felt the urge to put the ring on once more. If this was how the Ringbearer felt, she wondered how he didn't succumb to it when even this unremarkable and un-magical ring had such an affect on her. She didn't need to keep rereading the words, amin mela lle nin istelile, she could feel them on the tip of her finger as she caressed the mithril ring.

"You should put it on," Eowyn murmured softly, having stopped sharpening her blade to watch the loving way that Anaire held and touched the promise ring. She knew she had startled Anaire when the elf maiden glanced up at her, her eyes wide with uncertainty and the fact that she'd been caught in her adoration of the ring. "You will lose it if you don't wear it."

Eowyn was right. But if she wore it, that meant she'd accepted Haldir's troth and she wasn't sure if she was ready to move in that direction. There was no doubt in her mind that Haldir was one of the most important people in her life. That had never been in question, but she didn't want to hurt Haldir by not returning his devotion and love fully when she wasn't ready. And she knew she wasn't quite ready. There were still things she needed to do and experience. And yet, at the same time she couldn't bring herself to place the ring aside. She wanted it near her.

Understanding her predicament, Eowyn reaching into a pack and withdrew a piece of leather cord that she dropped onto Anaire's lap. "Why don't you wear it around your neck?" she suggested lightly. "That way you'll have it near and you won't have to fear losing it, at the same time you won't have to give him an answer yet if he should see it around your finger. But it nevertheless should please his male ego to see you wearing it so close to your heart."

Anaire nodded, her lips actually curved up in a small smile. "Thank you," she whispered gratefully as she threaded the ring with the leather cord and attempted to tie it around her neck securely. When she found she couldn't quite manage, she glanced toward Eowyn apologetically.

Eowyn shared her smile and moved to the elf maiden that she shared so many differences and yet so many similarities. If there was one thing that drew them together was that they were both fighters, survivors. If they made it through this battle alive, Eowyn wanted nothing more than to spend some time practicing their skills, exchanging thoughts, and becoming true friends. "Certainly," she responded.

She took the leather cord and with deft fingers she twisted a secure knot that wouldn't come undone in the middle of battle. That ring was there to stay as it nestled in the hollow of Anaire's throat. Eowyn briefly admired the ring that glistened silver in the dim firelight before she asked the one question that had been plaguing her since Anaire had received the ring. At this moment, it felt right to ask as if something had happened that had brought them closer when Anaire had asked her to help her. "Do you love him?"

It might have been the best time to ask, that still didn't mean that Anaire was inclined to answer. The silence that descended upon them lasted for several long minutes before Anaire decided that she might as well answer Eowyn. Anaire didn't know what she expected to see in Eowyn's eyes, but there was no amusement nor reproach. There was only acceptance as if she understood even if as Anaire knew, Eowyn had never truly been in love with a man in that way ever.

"May I give you my opinion?"

Eowyn rested her hands on both sides of Anaire's shoulders as if to brace her for what she was about to say. "I have never met this Haldir nor have I ever seen you two interact. But when you first received the ring, and when you first dropped the ring, there was something in you that was desperate to regain the ring into your hands. And to see you now, a few moments ago, holding and caressing the ring like it was the most precious thing--- I think that you do love him. Your mind," she touched Anaire forehead, "may not know it, but your heart," she rested her hand near Anaire's heart, "acts on it."

If Eowyn was going to say anymore, she wasn't given the chance because Merry was waving his cooking utensil in the air and gesturing for them to come over and sample the scrumptious soup he had concocted from whatever scraps of food he'd managed to forage for. "Come on!" Merry exclaimed. "You two need to eat if we are to wrestle a victory over Mordor, now!"

The moment was broken, but that did not mean that Anaire did not think of it. Even though she needed more rest than most elves, she still needed far less than Eowyn and Merry. Into the darkness of the night, she thought and thought more of Eowyn's insight. The more she thought of it, the more she had this feeling that Eowyn's aim was true. Perhaps, her heart did know. Yet, her mind did not.


"It is time," Eowyn declared, staring up at the gray sky that was beginning to lighten with the coming dawn. "It is time for me to prove that I am no maiden to sit and wait for man to return for I am a Shieldmaiden and I was meant to wield a sword as well as any man."

Anaire murmured with a soft voice of certainty.

"Do you think I do not worry for them?" she cried out. She was about to continue her tirade when she noticed that though Anaire was speaking through her mind, it wasn't truly Anaire that was speaking to her. It was like that Anaire had spoken to her from a higher being that was there to make her see that this battle was not about proving herself, it was more than that. As it should be, for it was the fight for Middle Earth. But then again, maybe it was really Anaire that was speaking. After all, Anaire had this ethereal feeling about her. "I am sorry."

Anaire shook her head and rested her finger over Eowyn's lips. She took Eowyn's hand and placed it on the sword sheathed to her side.

As those words left her mouth, she saw that though she was still gazing upon Eowyn, it was no longer the Eowyn that was standing before her that she saw. The Eowyn she glimpse at was bloody and bruised, but there a fire in her eyes to fight until death had robbed of her strength. It was this Eowyn that she saw attack through the battlefield, this Shieldmaiden that was destined for greatness that was beyond great.

"Anaire, are you all right?" Eowyn questioned, her voice threaded with concern as she stared into the unseeing eyes of her friend. She was even more anxious when Anaire stumbled and would have fallen if Eowyn hadn't wrapped her arm around Anaire's waist. "You saw something?"

Anaire nodded and allowed Eowyn to guide her to sit down for a moment so that she could catch her breath. Eowyn's eyes widened and when she was sure that she had her full attention, she continued onward,

Hearing Anaire tell her with such conviction what she had always believed inside of herself was an immense relief and confidence builder, it made her feel that anything was possible. "Thank you," she whispered softly, overwhelmed that someone believed in her like Anaire did. To do something great here, who would have thought? "It is nice to know that someone believes in me."

Anaire responded, standing up from where she'd sat down. She fingered Haldir's ring briefly before she tucked it into her shirt.

Anaire's warning coincided with the battle horn that was being blown at the center of the field. The last time Anaire had heard that sound was when Boromir had blown it to let them be aware of his position. It had been disastrous for him, did that signal a foreshadowing of doom? She hoped not, but she had this nagging feeling in her gut that something horrible was going to happen at Pelennor, something that was going to affect those close to her. It may not be today or even tomorrow, but it was going to happen.

"Come on, Anaire," Eowyn urged. "Merry is calling for us. We have to get ready. It is about to begin."

Indeed, it was about to begin. More was going to be determined in this battle than victory and defeat. True, the nature of a mêlée was that there was a definitive outcome, but that was not all. Even if they crushed Mordor's forces, that did not mean that Middle Earth saved. It only meant that they delayed the inevitable, especially if Sauron managed to regain his ring. If that happened, no matter the outcome of this skirmish, it was for naught.

And that would be that their sacrifice was for nothing. She'd not let that happened. No, she didn't want the horror she had gone through ever to torment those that meant everything to her. No, she wouldn't let that happened. Vaguely, at the back of her mind, she knew that Eowyn was putting her gear on her and handing her a sword. It was when a bow was placed into her hands that she felt ready, ready to wage the war to end the darkness that was looming.


Had it only been a few hours? That was Anaire's thought as she plunged her blade into the gut of an orc, twist and then pulled it back out. It wasn't the prettiest way to get the job done, but it was quite effective. Her arms were getting tired, another concern that crossed her mind as she thrust both swords she was holding into the two enemies that were charging her. Double twist then pull out and she had both lying on the blood covered ground.

"You shouldn't leave yourself open like that!" Eowyn exclaimed as she raised her sword to block the blade that was swinging over Anaire's head. Anaire watched with appreciation as Eowyn turned her sword and easily sliced off the head of the Easterling.

Anaire muttered.

Her companion's eyes were twinkling and she glanced down at Merry who was trying to take on three orcs at the same time. "Not as much as Merry," she remarked. "Shall we?" They'd traded aid like this for the past hours, helping and guarding each other's back against the common foe. It was because of this that all three of them were still alive.

Anaire nodded and they both raised their swords, charging to Merry's aid as a new onslaught of the enemy began. Even if the fight was futile, they would persist. If they did not struggle in this struggle, then all was lost anyway. That they would not allow, it was not in them to give up. As much as they wanted to, they wouldn't. Even if there seem to be no end to the armies that poured from Mordor to conquer and vanquish them from the face of this world.


The stench of blood was overwhelming, even from the distance that they still were. It would be a precious few hours before they were able to reach the front of the lines and given their renewed Allies a chance to breath against the furious attack that had come from Mordor. Hours until he saw Anaire again. How fraught his nerves were. To see her again and to see what she thought of his betrothal.

A comforting hand rested on his shoulders, when he glanced to his right he saw that it was Celeborn. "You have nothing to be worried about," the Lord of Lorien said soothingly. "I know you are worried about her, but I have confidence that my wife would never send Anaire into danger. She would not allow it to happen, not after Celebrian. And," he added with a knowing glint in his wise eyes, "if there is one elf that Anaire has always depended on for guidance and companionship, it is you."

"My fear is that she is not ready," Haldir murmured. "If she does feel for me, that is."

"She feels for you," Celeborn reassured. "I know she does. Did she not speak to you first? Has her eyes not followed you since she first saw you practicing outside with the young elves you sought to make hardened warriors?" A faint blush appeared on Haldir's cheeks. "She has always looked to you. I must admit, I envy how she wanted to interact with you when I felt I had to force her to be with me at times."

Haldir shook his head vehemently. "She needs you, Lord Celeborn! She needs you more than anyone else. You are her father. You were the only one she had to comfort her in her darkest moments. It was you she leaned on."

Sighing heavily, Celeborn removed his hand from his March Warden's shoulder. "There are times when I think that she does not need anyone, that the strength inside of her is made of something much more than even the strongest reserve of an elven warrior. She survived incredible torture and somehow remained sane. That is a miracle."

Truly, it was. "Do you think I am worthy of her?" It was a question that had plagued his heart for the longest time; it was the reason he hadn't asked for her hand sooner. It was because he didn't think that he was good enough for Anaire, the Istelile of Lorien. She shone like the purest ray of light in such a way that she seemed out of this reality, infinitely surreal.

"That is for her to decide," Celeborn stated firmly. "No one else."


"You are thinking of her," Gimli stated the obvious as he looked at Legolas's broodingly reflective face with his caring concern. Ever since they had made for the ships and set sail to the aid of Gondor, there hadn't been much for them to do but to sit and to wait for the coming battle. It left too much time for thought, something that Legolas had taken keenly to. "Are you going to tell her how you feel?"

How could he? He had run from her inquiring eyes when he should have gone to her and confronted her with his feelings for her. Was it love? He was sure that it was. There was no doubt that he felt something in him that burned for her, the question was if she felt that way about him. Even if she hadn't put on Haldir's promise ring, she hadn't exactly rejected the other elf's suit either. Any way he tried to take it, everything was in Haldir's favor.

"I ran away from her when I should not have," Legolas murmured in a weary voice of one that had spent far too much time in contemplation without doing anything about it. "How can I face her when I was the coward that turned away because I feared her rejection?"

"You can never know unless you try," Gimli responded steadfastly. "If you want her, you will have to fight for her." The dwarf's eyes were filled with confidence in Legolas that comforted the Mirkwood Prince. "I did not think that there was quit in you. I had thought you were willing to do whatever was possible to reach the target, the goal. Perhaps, I was mistaken. Maybe you are less resolute and firm than I had begun to think you were. Mayhap, you are like all the other elves, spineless."

Gimli knew what he was doing. He was trying to get Legolas to react, to do something about his thinking. It wasn't like Legolas to stand back and wait for a sign. True, he approached everything logically and methodically, but he wasn't one to let the action come to him. No, the famed elf archer that he had grown to know and to care about was a pursuer of action. He was the one that made the first charge.

It took a moment for Legolas to actually hear Gimli's words and when he did, the rage that swept over him caused him to glare at his dwarven friend and shove him away from him. He didn't take anymore action against his dear comrade because he knew that Gimli was only trying to get him to react and react he did. Even though, he knew Gimli was trying to help him, it still made him furious to think of how he was acting like a scared little elf. He wasn't that! He'd stopped being that many hundred of years ago!

And yet, here he was thinking about Anaire after having fled from her with the fear of the rejection and the thought of not being good enough. True, he'd looked away from her because he wanted her, but he'd also glanced away because he was almost certain that she'd turn him down. It was something that he couldn't bear. Yet, he was sure that was going to happen.

But Gimli's words kept ringing in his ears, that if he didn't try and that if he didn't fight, he wasn't being himself. Well, that was the main idea of Gimli's lecture that he got. The master dwarf did have one thing right, Legolas knew he wasn't the type to give up, so why was he so willing to let Haldir have her? Because, his conscious nagged at him, Haldir's love might be even deeper than his own. It bothered him since it might be true. How could his love, no matter how intense compete with a devotion that was years long?

He didn't know, but he was going to try. He owed himself that. It wasn't like he was stealing her away, he was just going to give her another option. Was that such a wrong thing to do? No, he didn't think so. It wasn't like she'd betrothed herself to Haldir. She was still available as long as she did not put the ring onto her finger. That worried him. Was he already too late? He hoped not.


This was Eowyn's element, Anaire observed her comrade in battle when she had a chance to catch her breath. Not only did she have the ability, she had the passion. It was what made her unstoppable on the battlefield. She was simply incredible, a golden ray of light against the hopelessness of the impending darkness. She felt she was more of a burden to Eowyn than a help when her friend blocked a blow that would have been crippling.

"Watch out," Eowyn warned as she gutted the Uruk. "You can't lose focus, Anaire. Not now." It was hard though, so hard to come to terms that everything was over. "Don't think, Anaire. Just fight, just keep going on. It's what we have to do."

Her words snapped Anaire's focus back to where it should have been. She took a deep breath and raised her twin blades to meet the attack of the assaulter, turning her sword to the side to rip the threatening blade away and end the danger. It'd been like this for the entire morning. As she glanced up to see the numbers of their enemy only increase, it was going to be a long afternoon.


She knew that her beloved thought that if she had allowed Anaire to accompany the fellowship that there was no danger for their adopted daughter, but she had no idea what awaited her pupil on the battlefields. The further that Anaire traveled away, the harder it was for her to keep watch over her Fanyarelisse. As it was, the Mirror had become vague, only showing Anaire's surroundings or only Anaire herself. She had no idea what was going on, what was happening. She could only have faith in Anaire's abilities to keep her safe.

All that she knew was that she had to let Anaire go. It had been the hardest thing she had had to do since she had let Celebrian go to the Undying Lands. But at least, she knew that Celebrian was going to be happy and safe. She could not say the same thing for Anaire. As much as she wanted to keep her Fanyarelisse at her side, she realized that she could not stop fate. It was Anaire's destiny.

That didn't stop her from being worried, anxious beyond anything. Her concern only increased when the Mirror failed to show her daughter's face. Only a few minutes before she had seen her beloved Celeborn's face as he reassured Haldir about plighting his troth to Anaire. Her husband had sounded so certain, but she wasn't so sure herself. She had seen that Anaire still had yet to slip the ring on. Nothing was certain, not in times like these.


"We cannot hold much longer!" Eomer exclaimed as he met each assault by the enemy with his skill and his bravery. "If reinforcements do not arrive, Gondor and Rohan are doomed!"

At Eomer's side, his Uncle Theoden was fighting with as much courage as his nephew. "That is true," he managed to respond when he had a brief respite from attacking. Unlike his young nephew, the length of the fighting had started to wear down on his stamina and strength. "There is no end in sight. As soon as we cut down enough to think that we are starting to have an edge, more of them charge at us."

Glancing at Eomer, Theoden saw that he wasn't the only one that was beginning to lose hope when hope was needed more than anything else. Even Eomer was beginning to feel the strain of the long day of fighting for what end, none knew. Yet, they had to push on and persevere. If they did not, then the end that none knew was going to be certainty. It was hard to think of another end though when a fresh wave of orcs, Uruks, Easterlings, and wargs poured from Mount Doom.


Author's Note: I finished this during Easter, but I really wanted to finish the entire battle of Pelennor before I started posting. But I'm positively sure now that I won't be rewriting this chapter. I am halfway done with the next chapter, but I'm going to be rewriting a good portion of that one, so I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm going to be going through a passel of AP exams this coming week and the week after with Prom the weekend between so now updates for a while. The 2nd story arc should be finished by Chapter 19 at the most, I'm going to try to do it by Chapter 18 ,_,, but we will see. I can't thank you reviewers enough. You've gotten me through this! Cheers for you! is my website (hasn't been updated in a while but that'll change when summer hits and i'll be making a story archive for myself... which i should have redone since a lot of my fanfics are available to read, but just aren't posted, like my Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood fanfics ,_,;.

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