In Times Like These - Chapter 8- The Way Will Leads
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8: The Way Will Leads(February 20, 2003 to February 22, 2003)
Standing before the entering Fellowship were the golden couple of Celeborn and Galadriel. To Galadriel's immediate right was Anaire, cloaked and hidden. To Celeborn's left was Haldir, tall and strong. "Eight there are there, but nine there were set out from Rivendell," Celeborn noted. "Where is Gandalf, for I much desire to speak with him."
Galadriel spoke for the words of the Fellowship could not find a voice, "He is fallen into the shadow." She gazed intensely at all. "The quest stands on the edge of a knife, stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all." Her eyes settled on Frodo and Sam. "Yet hope remains as long as company is true. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Go now, and rest, for you are weary with toil and much sorrow. Tonight you shall rest in peace."
Despite that her eyes were veiled, Anaire saw all. She saw the worry in Boromir's eyes; she saw the astonishment in Gimli's; she saw the respect in Estel's; she saw the conflict in Frodo's; she saw the hope in Legolas's. Everything was fine as long as one remained to carry that fading light, that dimming hope. It was not only in Legolas, she saw the very same glow in Sam, Frodo's companion. In him, there was a greatness not yet found. At the end, she thought that his heart was to be tested to a like degree as Frodo's.
//Welcome, Frodo of the Shire,// Galadriel greeted, //one who has seen the Eye.//
The lament of Mithrandir had begun. The lyrical voices of the elves rose up in a dirge to remember the passing of a great ally and a true friend. They sang of his wisdom, of his deeds, how his heart had never corrupted, how it had stayed pure. As the song reached its height, they spoke of how they'd miss him, but that his sacrifice had not been in vain for those others that remained would carry the burden on.
Once this peak was reached, Anaire felt that it was okay to go off on her own path, to think of the route to take. Leaning against the mallorn tree that had been her refuge and sanctuary for many years, she thought about what Galadriel had told her not too long ago, that she'd know her destiny. She did not know it yet, she only hoped that she would realize it soon. Looking up at the stars, she prayed for Elentari to guide her.
"When you need to think, this is a good place to be," Legolas commented as he emerged before her hazy eyes. "I wanted to thank you for letting me see Lorien's splendor. I will not forget it, and I am glad I will carry this majestic vision onward."
He did not expect her to respond for she seemed lost in her own inner world. //How did you know your path?//
His deep blue eyes gazed intensely into her own. "I know," he began, "not why only that I must do what my heart was urging me to do. I was not conscious of what I was doing. All that I knew that was when I offered Frodo my bow, I meant every word. For the purpose, I would have laid down my life."
From the flickering emotions on his face, she surmised that he had told her more than he had told anyone of his choice. While what he told her was helpful, she needed more--- she needed to know everything. //I know this is much to ask from one that you do not know well, but will you open your mind to me?// She held her hand out for him to take. //If you take my hand, you allow me the privilege. If you do not, I understand.//
He took her hand without hesitation and with her surprising strength, she pulled him to her and rested her head on his chest as she poured through his available soul. It was a surreal feeling, this departure into his being--- her mind was infused with his. She had thought Arwen was the purest soul to glimpse into, but she was vastly mistaken for despite the road of shadows he had traveled, his psyche was pure.
It was his overpowering idealism, his undeniable courage, his faithful heart that had decided his path for him. It was not in him to not offer his bow, and though he feared not returning to see his father, Thranduil, he was filled with his strength of purpose that wiped all other fears aside. If she had his resolve, she too would know her path. He was absolutely certain, perhaps even coming off as condescending at times, after all he was a Prince.
She understood what had driven him, but though she read other minds and other hearts--- she could not read her own. No longer did she peer into his mind but her own. The longer she searched, the less she found. She did not know. Maybe she would have an epiphany like he had and simply decide at the moment what way her fate pointed. As of yet, the road before her winded and weaved, but was hidden by a haze that blocked her eyes from seeing.
"Haldir is here," Legolas whispered softly to her.
It took a while for her to drag her mind from the abyss it had fallen into. When she was aware of her surroundings, she found herself clutching Legolas with her arms, holding onto him like she'd been drowning. When she released him from her embrace and turned to meet Haldir's gaze, she saw the intent inquiry. But Haldir was not going to openly push her for an answer until she was ready to give it to him, he only pushed her with her physical skills.
There was explaining for her to do because she knew how it looked. It was compromising for her since she rarely embraced anyone and then it was usually only Adar that she allowed to hold her. //Good night, Legolas Greenleaf,// she said softly before she walked toward Haldir and together they disappeared down the pathway they always walked together. Legolas watched them leave with eyes that were enthralled by the link he again felt to her.
Both of them had walked to her flet without saying anything. It was not unusual for they were not the chattering type. He was busy thinking of what had happened, she was consumed with thinking of how to explain. //I know you are wondering what I was doing with Legolas.//
"It has crossed my mind many times in the passing minutes, I do not deny."
//I wanted to discern his purpose for joining the Fellowship,// she answered his statement. //I had to know how he knew to know my own.//
"Did you find your answer?" he inquired. She shrugged. She had not. He knew better than to pursue. "Do not think because the Fellowship is here that I will let you off in the mornings, Istelile. Be early and alert tomorrow morning. Be ready."
//I do not expect anything less from you.//
Haldir gave her the special smile that was reserved only for her. "That is good."
She saw her Amme at the Mirror. She was about to go to Galadriel when she noticed Frodo was there. It was not the time to disturb even if she wished to hear. She was about to drift away and return when it was time for her to confront her choice when her eyes met Galadriel's. There was acceptance and there was no admonishment, she was allowed to stay, to observe as long as she did not disturb. That she'd not do, she'd wait until she could tell her Amme what was plaguing her consciousness.
"Will you look into the mirror?" Galadriel inquired.
Frodo was not unwise to ask, "What will I see?"
"Not even the wisest can say, for the Mirror shows many great things," the Lady of Light murmured. "Things that are, things that were, and some things that have not yet come to pass."
Anaire saw that he glanced and that what he saw was no good. His face was a mixture of horror and tragedy as he saw what was to be. It was indeed the very likeness of what she had seen those many years ago. The terror, the destruction, the impending end that was coming--- that was approaching. Her heart went out to him, her soul wanted to comfort him. To see such a vision that was filled with such hopeless hopelessness was heartbreaking.
"I know what it is you have seen, for it is also in my mind," Galadriel remarked. "It is what will come to pass if you should fail. The Fellowship is breaking. Already it has begun. He will try to take the ring. You know of whom I speak. One by one, it will destroy all."
"If you ask it of me, I will give you the One Ring."
"You offer it to me freely," she noted with a tone of undeniable yearning. "I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired this."
From where she stood, Anaire watched the dark light cover the Lady of Light with its shadow and its power when she touched the One Ring. It was terrible to watch as her adopted mother transformed into a being that was above all else filled with the want, the longing to overpower and destroy all that was good. What was even more tormenting was to hear the awful beauty of Galadriel's declaration:
"Instead of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen, not dark but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Tempestuous as the sea, and stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!"
Yet, Anaire knew that this was not her Amme. This was not the Lady of Light; this was not the Lady of Lothlorien. This was not Galadriel, her adopted mother. It was with no astonishment that she watched Galadriel back away from the One Ring. Age passed over her features, a joylessness of doing right, but Anaire knew that when time had passed there was to be no regret in Galadriel.
"I passed the test," the Lady of Light whispered. "I will diminish, and go into the west, and remain Galadriel."
There was a weariness in Frodo as he cried out, "I cannot do this alone."
There was a sympathy in the renewed Galadriel, having chosen the light--- the remaining faith. "You are a Ringbearer, Frodo. To bear a ring of power is to be alone. This task was appointed to you, and if you do find a way, no one will."
"Then, I know what I must do. It's just I am afraid to do it."
A beautiful smile of reassurance and comfort grace Galadriel's lips. "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future."
//You have the strength, Frodo Baggins,// Anaire murmured as she appeared from the covering that had disguised her presence. //Do not fear the task that you have been given for it was given to you for you are the only one that is able to bear it. Trust in faith, trust in hope, it is all that is left to believe in.//
The hobbit was mesmerized by the silver light that surrounded Anaire as she knelt down before him. There was something even more ethereal about her at this moment than Galadriel had been when he had first seen her at their welcoming into Lothlorien. This Silver Lady was surreal, out of place in the imminent darkness to come. "I will," he vowed. "I promise."
"Rest awaits you, Ringbearer," Galadriel stated. "Go now and seek the solace that sleep gives." It was when he had made his departure, that she turned her eyes to stare at her Fanyarelisse. //I know what you wish to speak to me of, but there is nothing further I can be to guide you. Celeborn wishes to speak to you though, I will get him.//
//Amme?// Galadriel paused from the flight she was taking to fetch her husband so that he may speak to his Estelinde. //You say I know, yet I do not. But I will know before the night is over what my course I will take.//
There was nothing for Galadriel to say to her student, to her only remaining daughter.
She did not have to wait long for Celeborn. It was if when she lifted her head, he was--- the one she had allowed to be closest to her physical, and perhaps even mentally. It was a toss up in the mind, who truly was closest to her, was it Arwen? Galadriel? or Him? In intimate affection, it was him that she had turned to when Elrohir had left her all those many years ago. In him, she found her comfort. It was the same now as it was then as she ran into his open arms. //Adar.//
"Estelinde," he whispered tenderly, he still called her by the name he had chosen when they were alone, "Galadriel has told me that you do not know the way to go, that you are lost in an endless abyss with no idea of which direction to face. If there is indecision, you do not need to make a decision. Sometimes, Galadriel pushes when patience is necessary. If this is such a time, you must let me know."
She rested her head against the shoulder that he offered, allowing him to stroke her long flowing silver strands. Even if Amme knew her better, it was Adar that she trusted the most. Maybe it was that he accepted her for who she was without knowing who she really was. In Galadriel, she sensed still that the Lady was trying to find her Celebrian in her. It was an unconscious action that had faded with time but still managed to be vaguely present.
//Adar,// she responded, //what plagues my heart is that I want to know my will, but yet I am afraid of at the same time. What if the road I choose is not the one that I am meant to follow? What if the destiny I see is not the fate that is foreseen?//
"Nothing chosen is ever wrong," Celeborn answered, caressing her comfortingly. "There are better decisions and there are choices that are not so wise, but none is ever wrong. If it brings regret, that is tragic. For one is never to look back and wonder what might be, there is the present and the future. One cannot change what has already passed. If you are not ready, do not look ahead, merely look at what path the present has for you. It is never wrong to trust your heart."
He drew away from his adopted daughter and brushed a kiss on her forehead. //Thank you, Adar. Your words of wisdom have lightened the weight that is bearing down on my heart. I will not regret the way my will leads me, I will rely on my heart.//
"Anaire," he murmured, "my Estelinde, whenever times grow dark and the light fades into oblivion, remember that your voice has always, even with no voice, been uplifting."
"Adar," she whispered softly, wanting him to hear her true voice, the voice she had lost and found in tragedy. //You are too good to me.//
He shook his head, not surprised that she had spoken. He had heard Elrohir's story, he had been told of what had been spoken to Galadriel. It nevertheless touched him. It was not everyday a child muted by anguish regained enough of what once was to again speak. It was hard for her he knew, but it gladdened his heart to hear her speak to him. "I only wish that I could hideaway all the pain that is going to surround us from you."
//You cannot, Adar,// she responded. //No one can hide, not anymore. The decision made must be followed through. I will go where my heart leads me. I know what I must do. I am not afraid any longer. There are no regrets if tomorrow is to come. You are right. There is the present and the future, one cannot change what has already been.//
"Yes, there is only this present and that future, the future that must be saved from darkness. The present is filled with shadows," Celeborn observed. "It must be removed if what will come not be the doom that is Sauron's. If you have made your choice in your fate, I only hope that Elbereth keeps you safe until we see each other again."
Yes, there was an understanding between Celeborn and Anaire that went deeper than even Anaire's connection with Galadriel. It had been the Lord of Lothlorien that had stayed by her side during the years that it had taken her to recover enough to be semi-active in society again. During that time, Celeborn had been the main one to encourage her, to urge her to make a full return. It was two hundred years in the making, but she was coming back to them. Though, it was not in the best circumstances, at least she was regaining a sense of herself before the doom fell.
The Fellowship was ready to depart from Lothlorien after receiving their numerous parting gifts that was to aid them on their continuing perilous journey. The last gift given was that of Galadriel's to Frodo. "Farewell, Frodo Baggins. I give you the light of Earendil, our most beloved star. Namarie. May it be a light for you in dark places, where all other lights go out."
The members were about to board their boats when Anaire appeared from underneath the foliage of the forest, declaring in a weak, but strangely forceful voice, "I do not know what strength I have, but I know what I must do." She stared directly at Galadriel. //Amme, you knew what choice my heart was to make. You knew before I did what I must do. That is why you asked, not to push, not to force, but to make sure. I am sure. This is my fate.// She shifted her gaze to Celeborn. //Thank you, Adar. I will not forget.//
Without further ado, she went to Frodo and bowed to him as she would have bowed to him at the Council of Elrond in Imladris had her sworn father not prevented her from doing so. She saw, that what he had done was right. That Galadriel had stopped her from joining then to strengthen her in the situation with Elrohir first. First, she must be whole before joining. Now that she was whole, her path was cleared and made visible. //I have nothing to offer but my heart, Frodo, but that I give all freely.//
Frodo's hand touched her chin to lift her face up and said softly to her, "That is all that can be asked."
A glimmer of a smile graced her lips as she straightened up to stand tall by Frodo's side. The road was not going to be an easy one, but it was the way that she was to lead. With a heavy heart, she was saying goodbye to the only home that she had ever known, to the only parents she knew. But she was not going to back down, this was her fate, whether it was the best fate was remained to be seen. Her heart resolute, she placed her bag on the closest boat, incidentally the same boat that Legolas and Gimli were preparing.
"May the light of Elbereth shine upon you, my Fanyarelisse, the Istelile of Lothlorien," Galadriel murmured as she lifted her hand up to give them a farewell. "May even in times of darkness, the light that is within you overcome the shadows that surround."
The Lord of Lothlorien said nothing, he had said everything the other night. One elf that had known of her intentions, broke through the ranks and shouted, "If you are to go, I will go with you." It was Haldir. It was not a declaration to be taken lightly for he was not the type of leave his beloved Lothlorien. "I will protect you with my life, I vowed it--- it cannot be taken back."
"No," she said simply. //You cannot leave Lothlorien,// she told him regretfully. It would have been a comfort to her to have him go, but she knew that this journey, this route was not meant for him. If there was one place meant for him in all of Middle Earth, it was here in the ethereal beauty of Lothlorien. This was where Haldir belonged. //This is where you are meant to be.//
"It does not matter," Haldir responded. "Wherever you go, I will go. It is that simple. I will not leave you to the dangers that are waiting for the Fellowship. If I cannot convince you to stay, I know that I cannot, then I must go to make sure that you are safe."
It was then that Legolas stepped in. "I will lay down my life for her," he said solemnly in full seriousness. "Do not worry, the Fellowship watches out for its own. She will be safe."
"Like it protected Gandalf?"
A strain of unbearable pain appeared on Frodo's face at Haldir's carelessly meant rebuke. //I will protect myself.// Neither of the two male elves heard her mental assertion. They were still staring each other down, measuring each other with their eyes. //I do not need your protection,// she sent this clear message to both of their minds. //I will protect myself. I will.//
Having said that, she bent down on her knees in front of Frodo and held out her arms to him. //I know what pain is in you for it is the same pain I have felt.// It was then that her eyes filled with tears as the horrible epiphany overcame her at what she had unconsciously said. It was no wonder she had felt this strange connection to Frodo, their shared experiences were alike.
No, she did not remember who she was, what her name was. But the nightmarish vision was unmistakably from her past. It was right before the orcs had tortured her physically. She knew now why Celeborn meant so much to her because before her eyes she watched the orcs that were to abuse her murder her father--- yes, she knew the elf she saw being slaughtered brutally was her father. The tears slid down her face as she held Frodo in her arms for her reassurance as much as his.
Haldir was stricken to see his Istelile openly weeping. Legolas was also paralyzed in a like manner. But Galadriel assured them both that it was not their fault. "She partially remembers what has passed. But Haldir, she is right, you cannot leave Lothlorien." Her March Warden turned to her defiantly, but respectfully listening to what she continued to say, "It is her road to take, it is not yours." //Lorien needs you.//
Frodo did not know what to do, all he wanted to do was to comfort her as she had done the same to him yester-evening. His hear was much relieved when Celeborn came and took his Estelinde into his arms, soothing her with his soft strokes and calming caresses. "So you have seen what Galadriel has known for a long while," he murmured. "I had hoped that you would not, but now that you have you must let it go. It is the past, there is naught you can do."
Her tears subsided and she nodded. There was nothing she could do to change it. She took a shaky breath and drew away from Celeborn. //You are my Adar,// she told him. //You always will be.// He smiled at her and kissed her one last time on the forehead.
"And you are my Estelinde, always."
"I cannot help but go," Haldir responded to Galadriel with a heavy heart, turning to Anaire with earnest eyes. "I cannot let her go alone. She needs me." He was trying to convince his Lady as much as he was his Istelile.
//That is true,// she murmured, approaching him and letting him hold her tightly. //But you are needed here. Lorien needs you. And I must do this alone. You must understand Haldir. You must protect Lorien.//
It was same thing Galadriel had said in his mind. There was nothing he could do but let her go. It was what was determined for him to do, so he nodded and dropped his arms from her side. The last thing he did was stare Legolas straight into the eye. "You promise to watch over her with your life."
"That I will," Legolas swore. "That I will."
With the heaviest of hearts, Haldir let her go. His was not the only one that was suffering. If anything, Galadriel was the one that was tormented the most. Her inside felt like it was being gnawed out by the fact that she knew that this journey was doomed to end in doom. She had foreseen the end, the end that was destruction. She hoped, she prayed that it was not the end that would be. That was still to be decided, and yet it was a possibility. The Fellowship was setting out on the thoroughfare of disaster.
Author's Note: Wow, reviews are nice and they're getting insightful! Thanks! I really like it when you predict ahead, it makes me think as well! Especially if you're thinking ahead more than I am! Thanks for all the reviews thus far, they've been AWESOME! Everyone seems to want 2 things: Haldir x Anaire and that Haldir does not die. Well you will definitely get one of those things, of which I will not divulge ,-,;; quite yet. As that I'm undecided over many things, I am happy to say I've decided on one course of action! Will leads the way!