Mairen - A Life Once Lost - Chapter 11: Renewed

Chapter 11: Renewed

Mairen sat in the glade, illuminated by a shaft of sunlight that shot through the thick leaves overhead. She stared at her worry stone, the smooth rock warm in her hand. Haldir sat quietly across from her, his grey eyes as usual glittering but revealing nothing of his thoughts. Lord Celeborn stood several steps behind Haldir, his blue eyes studying her but she could not yet meet the intense gaze of the elven lord.

It was all so confusing, yet she understood what they were saying. But the effort to gain control of what was happening seemed insurmountable. She sighed, dropping the stone into her lap so she could rub her eyes. "The elf's past lies open to me, yet why? What purpose do her memories serve me? If she is a part of me, why suddenly manifest itself in such a way? Why could I not have remained ignorant of it and lived on as I was?"

The elven lord's expression was reflective and he answered her questions carefully. "We do not know why the Valar do what they do, Mairen. These things happen rarely to elves, never to my knowledge to a mortal. But with what experience we do have, the revelation of the soul comes at a time when the spirit feels your body has the strength and maturity to deal with the upheaval. The soul is yours, the memories are yours, but at this moment it seems like another person."

"One I have not found very pleasing."

"As you have said, Mairen," Haldir agreed. "But your knowledge of her is very limited, only to what you have yet remembered."

Mairen looked at him in surprise. "That is true, so tell me what she was like?"

Haldir shrugged. "I did not know her well, my time with her was limited."

Mairen smiled, remembering the night he rose up out of the ocean. "But what was your impression, Haldir?"

Haldir leaned back, folding his arms over his chest. But it was Lord Celeborn who answered. "She was a young, hardly past her elven majority. On the rare days when we arrived in the Mithlond, Seldwain, her father was often at the docks as the ships readied sail. Seothlindë often accompanied him as she was a harbor warden."

Mairen nodded, she had gathered that Seothlindë had been some kind of guardian. She waited for the Lord to continue.

"She was strong-minded, a very capable warrior. Her interest in Haldir was made known to me by her father, a subtle exploration of his options regarding her." The elven lord smiled, glancing at Haldir. "I was not surprised, for indeed Galadriel and I both had remarked that the warden seemed to have eyes only for Haldir. It was quite obvious."

Haldir remained aloof, his expression carefully controlled. Had he found the elf attractive? She rubbed the stone, picking it back up from her lap. "Did you consider her affections as inconsequential, Haldir?"

The March Warden considered her for a moment. "Insignificant? Indeed no, Mairen. I was interested, and flattered she was so adamant about her feelings, but she was very young. I thought her affections would be short-lived, gone once I had departed from the Havens."

"But they were not so brief as you expected," Mairen amended. "If I know anything, her sentiments regarding you affected her whole life. Her thoughts revolved around you, Haldir. Did she speak of this to you?"

Haldir took her hand, wrapping his fingers around hers, the stone clasped between them. "She did. You have only to look for the thought in your mind."

She was startled by that idea. She could pull back the memories on her own? It made sense, as the recollections were supposedly hers. She had only to focus. She closed her eyes and the images of that moment flooded into her mind. She pushed the scene away, opening her eyes. "So, I have knowledge of the elf, I have her memories. What more will happen?"

Celeborn rested a hand on Haldir's shoulder. "If your mind can accept that she is you, and you are she, then the body will give in, accepting the knowledge, and it will release the final essence that lies dormant in your mind."

"The essence, what is that?" Mairen asked irritably. "Will it be the rest of her memories, her knowledge? Will I suddenly know how to sail and navigate by the stars?" Mairen joked, yet found the two elves were not laughing.

"That is very true, Mairen. You have abilities that you are not yet aware of."

She squeezed the stone in her hand. It was all very unsettling. "All right, I believe you, so now what? I have no more reservations. The dreams and visions have been all too real, I cannot help but think of them as they happened."

Haldir unfolded her fingers, taking the stone from her. "Galadriel will continue to aid you. She will help you become one."

Mairen slouched slightly into her chair. The one person in Lórien who truly made her nervous was Galadriel.


Mairen sat up in her bed suddenly, shrouded by darkness, shivering despite the warm night. Another vision? She rubbed her forehead in a fleeting attempt to draw back the fading thoughts. Nothing. What had wakened her?

She slid off the bed, pushing aside the thin veil that fluttered beside the open window. Outside, the evening was awash with the scent of flowers, their fragrance drifting up from the many gardens below her. The cadence of the crickets was stilled, the absence striking in the sudden silence.

She released the curtain and pulled a thin robe over her nightgown, drawn by something outside. She could not say what drew her, but moved carefully down through city. She reached the main path that meandered through the maze of roots to the gates, and turned toward the tall fenced perimeter. The shadows were dark at the base of the trees; pools of shallow light glowed softly from lanterns placed along the path. Why did the elves use lanterns when they could see in the dark, she wondered absently. She paused when she heard voices, low-pitched but filled with agitation; something was happening.

She slid behind the trunk of a tree and peered around at the elves that gathered in front of the gate. The portal lay ajar as more elves made their way inside the city while the sentinels that stood above on guard watched with grim expressions. The wardens must have just returned from patrol since she noted several seemed wounded. Haldir must have been notified but she was surprised he was not yet there.

"Mairen, you should be in bed."

She flinched awkwardly and whirled around; embarrassed she had not heard him approach. "Something woke me, I had to come," she sputtered. His glance slid past her to the elves and he caught her arm, drawing her with him as he strode quickly into the center of the patrol.

"Haldir!" A tall elf turned as Haldir approached, his face pale, his tunic and leggings bloody. He touched his heart quickly, and then sent Mairen a curious gaze. She flushed when she realized many had stared as she approached with Haldir.

"What news, Élan?" Haldir demanded softly, drawing Mairen beside him.

The elf ran a hand over his eyes, in a manner of one who had pushed himself too far. "Orcs harried the western front. We have secured the area but lost two. I have been sent ahead to bring back reinforcements. The orcs have massed together in a group large enough to wreak considerable havoc. Runners from the south bring word of fires in Rohan." The elf looked at Mairen with a frown. "I fear they have brought destruction upon many outlying villages once again."

Mairen's hand went to her hip, but found it empty. The world seemed to spin around her and she struggled to push away the anguish that engulfed her. Rohan was in danger! Her people were dying and she was cavorting with the elves? She was needed at home! The elf staggered suddenly and Haldir wrapped an arm around the warden's shoulders.

"You need to rest, you've been wounded, Élan." Haldir turned to her. "Mairen, will you help Élan to the healing tents?"

She nodded, sliding beneath the elf's arm. She wrapped her arm around his waist and they moved slowly down the path. She could hear Haldir behind her, his orders decisive as the replacements arrived to head out. She would be gone soon as well. She would not sit by while her people died.


Élan slid down into the chair as several elves hurried to him with concern. Mairen stepped back and began to leave when the elf reached out, catching her sleeve.

"You are planning on leaving?" His eyes were narrowed, suspicious.

She stared at him defiantly. "I am not a prisoner. I will go to the aid of my people."

"It is too late for many. You are not yet healed, even I can see that." Élan grimaced as one of the healers pressed on his back. "Haldir will not allow it. I warn you in advance."

She pulled her arm free from his hand. "He has no hold over me."

The elf's gaze swept over her leisurely. "No? Do you generally meet the March Warden in the middle of the night in your nightgown? Or perhaps the news woke you both? It is not a secret the captain has an eye for you. I would think he would not agree to your leaving just yet." He flashed the healer an annoyed glance as she pressed on his back again and caught the elf's hand, holding her off. He turned back to Mairen as she stiffened.

Mairen took a step back, hoping the warmth of her cheeks was not too visible. "I do not sleep with Haldir, not that it is any of your business. It was just a coincidence that he met me on the path." She drew herself up, pulling the robe together tightly. "I must go." She swept aside the flap covering the door to the tent and then looked back over her shoulder. Both the healer and the elf were watching her, a mixture of amusement and disbelief marking their features.


So, they thought she was bedding the March Warden? Mairen hurried along the path, her robe dragging behind her as she headed back to her room. Foolish elves. She lifted the long skirt of the gown, striding up the few steps of a staircase to gain the arched span that led to her talan. Haldir might have kissed her once, well several times she amended, but that was all. She was quite certain the March Warden had little intention of anything more. He had become quite distant since her arrival, helpful in dealing with her dreams and such, but that was the extent of her contact with him. She would have been disappointed if she truly thought he'd been interested. It was quite laughable really, besides she was quite sure it was Seothlindë's emotions she felt when it came to Haldir. Her heart was Rohirran. She reached for the door, wondering suddenly if that were true why her heart seemed such a lead weight in her chest. She dismissed the thought and opened the door.

She was so intent on her feelings and determination to dress and find her way back to the gate, that she was taken aback when she found Haldir sitting casually in a chair by her bed. "Haldir? What are you doing here?" she asked, startled, and closed the door. "Shouldn't you be out directing your forces back to the border?" She sent him a covert glance as she crossed to the window to peer out.

"I have sent out another patrol. I wait for Rúmil and another runner. Would you like to take over my duties, Mairen? You seem to know what needs to be done." Haldir folded his arms over his chest and stretched out his legs.

He looked far too comfortable she thought as she turned from the window. "Of course I don't. I just am surprised you aren't in the thick of it, making sure things are getting done." Her eyes strayed to the tall wardrobe along the wall. "What do you want?" She crossed the room to another chair and sat down stiffly.

"You can't go home, Mairen."

Mairen forced herself to meet Haldir's gaze. The silver depths were cool; he had the same expression he'd had when ordering his wardens. "What do you mean? I shall go back to Rohan at some point." She rubbed her fingers together nervously in the folds of her robe finding he was far too perceptive.

Haldir only lifted an eyebrow, his grey eyes glowing slightly. Mairen realized with a start they had not lighted a lamp. She glared at him, turning to the lantern on the table. "I am not a prisoner," she maintained as she fumbled with lighting the lamp. "I can leave when I choose."

"To a certain extent. But you are not well. You cannot go."

She settled the sheath over the lantern and turned to face him. His eyes glittered in the light, flickering shards of ice. Her heart lurched, her toes curling underneath her gown. "I am much better," Mairen insisted. "There is nothing more you can do for me. I must go to my people."

She ignored the tingling in her hands and moved toward the tall cabinet that held her clothes. She opened the door but found Haldir had risen and now pushed it closed, using his arm to block the opening. Mairen, her heart thumping madly in her chest, took a deep breath. He reminded her of the day she had slapped him, unyielding and impassive. He could have been a rock his expression was so inflexible.

"What do you think you can do, Mairen?" he argued. "You are weak. You have no weapons. Do you think to walk? I hold Epona."

"So you keep me captive?" Mairen demanded. "I came here by free will. I will leave when I wish to."

"You came here to find healing. You are not yet healed," Haldir countered firmly. "The Rohirrim will have evacuated the outlying villages. Your border guards will have destroyed the enemies they have found and will be hounding those that try to hide. Your chances at meeting up with a patrol are slim. And what then, Mairen? Will you endanger your friends as you attempt to wield a sword or your lance with a less than capable hand? The danger is not only to you but to Epona."

"They need me, Haldir," Mairen persisted, but she was fast losing her determination, and backed up several steps as Haldir released the cabinet door and leaned against it.

"They do not need you as you are, Mairen."

Haldir moved toward her, following as she crossed to the window again. The city was awake now, and she could see many elves moving around the paths above her. His hands rested lightly on her shoulders, a gesture meant to comfort she was sure, but she felt only frustration. Would it ever be the same again? She folded her arms around her, willing him to leave but unable to voice the demand. He probably would have ignored it anyways she decided as his fingers tightened, and he forced her to turn to face him.

"You are angry. I did not mean that your people don't want you. You know this." Haldir gripped her chin, tilting his head to look closely at her. "This is a test of your determination, Mairen. Your people are in danger, but so are you. If I allow you to return, headstrong and obstinate, I put you and those around you in worse danger. You know this to be true," he insisted, his fingers pushing her chin up so he could see her eyes.

Mairen tried to control the tidal wave of despair. "Yes I know, but I don't have to like it."

Haldir released her with a small smile curving his lips. "No, I did not expect you to like it. We will offer what aid we can, but I think your cavalry can deal with this as well as we. You lose faith in your race."

Mairen shook her head, pulling her eyes from his. "Nay, I am quite confident of my brothers and friends. I only despair as I cannot be beside them, where I should be. I fear I may never belong at their side again."

"Your fear is uncalled for, Mairen. They will accept you as they always have." Haldir gripped her chin again, and she was surprised when he bent his head, pressing his lips to hers in a gentle kiss. "Be patient. I know this is difficult for you. I will find out as much as I can."

He was gone too quickly, the room felt empty. She pushed open the window further, and then sank to the floor below it. She had to get past the emotional upheavals. It was time to face the reality of what she was and go on. She glanced at the closed door. Much longer and she couldn't say where her heart would want to be.


Galadriel watched the elves pass through the gate from her vantage point high in the trees. She stood at the edge of the wide flet, the platform ringed by some of the largest of the Mellyrn. Haldir stood respectfully behind her, his stance relaxed to one who did not know him. She turned away from the forest.

"Your thoughts reverberate through my head like a waterfall rushing over the rocks Haldir, sweeping my own aside to tumble down the river alongside yours." She gazed at him, watching his expression intently. The March Warden's grey eyes rose slowly to meet hers, his emotions unreadable.

Haldir rested a hand on his sword, dressed for travel the warden only waited for her approval before leaving again with Rúmil. The younger guardian had returned, his report given and sent back out with additional guardians. Only a couple wardens remained behind, waiting to leave with Haldir to join up with Rúmil on the trail.

"Perhaps we have taken a wrong step, my lady," Haldir suggested carefully.

Galadriel studied him, noting the tiny clues that revealed the March Warden's carefully controlled feelings. He had reported Rúmil's information but she could see his mind had moved on to something more important to him. Something that he tried to hide, but she could see only too well. "Do you doubt my decision to have you bring Mairen to Lothlórien?"

Haldir dropped her gaze to turn and stare out into the shadowy canopy around them, folding his hands behind his back. Galadriel waited for him to explain his thoughts, sensing he was finding it difficult. It would be unsettling for Haldir for the loss of words rarely affected him. He turned back toward her, and ran a hand over his face in a gesture that revealed the depth of his concern.

"Why do you worry so?" she inquired quietly.

"I fear we have made things worse for her."

Galadriel smiled ruefully. "I must trust in my instincts, Haldir, and Celeborn's. Why do you suddenly doubt my judgment?"

Haldir shrugged elegantly, shifting his bow on his shoulder. Both were uncharacteristic of him "I do not mean to make such accusations, my lady. I am simply trying to put myself in her place. She has come to terms with the visions and memories, even considers the memories as hers at times. Yet with the news today she has been pulled apart again. I cannot allow her to leave, as she would like, but I see the pain I have caused her. She is torn, and I worry that she will lose what stability she has gained in her mind. But my worry is more a personal concern than a logical one."

Galadriel's vision grew hazy as she gazed into the distance. "We must be patient. I know your heart is troubled with the pain she has had to deal with. Mairen will soon reach the final test of her trials. My greatest concern is that it will be quite agonizing; Glorfindel was abed for several days with excruciating headaches. She has struggled much already, can you imagine what she will go through when she must merge together?"

Haldir sighed softly. "I fear that as much as anything."

"As you should. And your decision to refuse to let her go was based upon that concern. She is not well enough to ride to her people, and you know it and she knows this. Your reasoning may be driven from what lies in your heart but it matters not. Your feelings for Mairen are known to me, Haldir."

Haldir's grey eyes darkened, his expression growing bleak. "I can never hide such things from you. As usual you have laid my heart bare, but I do not know what will come of it, my lady."

"Indeed you cannot," she agreed, answering both statements. "Why do you hide it from her?"

Haldir's lips tightened and his expression grew determined. "She is confused as Seothlindë's emotions seem more real to her than her own. She has pushed what she once was into the recesses of her mind. She relates any feelings she has for me as part of the elf's memories. I do not want to complicate the situation any more than I have."

"She will soon be faced with much more than her affection for you. Do not be concerned Haldir. Have faith that the Mairen you love will return."

Haldir bowed slightly. "I will return from the border as soon as I can. You will send word if she needs me?"

Galadriel moved to his side to rest her hand on his arm. "I will send for you if there are any signs she begins the final transformation."

Haldir bowed his head and then strode quickly off the platform, heading down the flight of stairs to where the last of his wardens waited.


Celeborn watched the gate close softly, Galadriel beside him as Haldir disappeared into the wood. He turned to her with a frown creasing his brow. "The time grows short. Will he be able to return in time?"

Galadriel clasped the hand Celeborn held out, lifting her skirt as she walked beside him. "I can only hope he can. You were there with Glorfindel, how do you think she will pass the last trial?"

Celeborn pursed his lips, remembering the pain that had brought the great warrior to his bed. "She is but a slight child, a mortal. I have no sense of what strength lies inside of her, but somehow I feel she will bear it with great fortitude. I think she has a hidden courage that she does not realize she taps into. Haldir would be a powerful support for her with the worry stone she carries. They are tied in mind, and heart now."

Galadriel smiled wryly. "He would not like to know you see it so well. It is not often our March Warden wears his heart on his sleeve."

Celeborn squeezed her hand, pausing to place a finger under her chin. "There are times when we cannot but help reveal what lies deep inside our heart. My heart was laid bare at your feet the moment we met, do you not remember?"

Galadriel took his hand, pressing his fingers to her lips. "I remember it well, dear heart. Our love has withstood centuries. Haldir may not have such time."

Celeborn pulled her arm beneath his, pressing their hips together as they continued to walk. "I do not wish to give him false hope, but consider what is happening. Never before have the Valar done something like this. What the ramifications are to Mairen remain to be seen."

Galadriel nodded. "True. Seothlindë was so young to be taken, her life snuffed out before it truly began." She placed her hand on top of his arm, drawing closer to the tall elf. "More is at work here. Seothlindë somehow did not play into the Valar's plan. I believe they had much intended for the elleth. Perhaps Seothlindë's mistake was her lack of compassion for others of this world? She may have learned to change but was it soon enough? I wonder if the Valar had some hand in her death?"

Celeborn heaved a quiet sigh. "I think not or why bring her back? That is the most interesting question!"

Galadriel's gazed thoughtfully past him, her steps slow as she considered her words. "I don't know. Did the Valar intend the elf to be at Haldir's side as Seothlindë insisted she was meant to be? Why? The answer may lie in Haldir's plight during his ambush. Would Seothlindë have ridden to save him, not knowing what he was? Those concerns never entered Mairen's mind, only that she felt he was in dire danger and she must react. Would Seothlindë have followed that instinct so blindly?"

Celeborn nodded in agreement. "I do not think so quickly. And then it would have been too late."

"Indeed." Galadriel rubbed Celeborn's arm, her thoughts whirling. "She would not have willingly fought for the men and their alliance at Helm's Deep, had she been brought to Lórien. Mairen remembers how Seothlindë was and why. And, she said Seothlindë tried to change. But yet, perhaps the Valar doubted her. Had she changed enough? Or did they need someone totally opposite? Does this have some relation to the differences in the two personalities? I can only wonder, Celeborn. But I am certain she is tied to Haldir because of this. She must remember on her own and realize that it was Mairen, a Rohirran warrior that accepted the mantle once held by Seothlindë. She is bound to Haldir as strongly as Seothlindë once was."


Mairen sat in front of her mirror, her mind whirling as she forced herself to remember, pulling random images from within her mind. Days of her youth in Rohan flashed before her, sunlight reflecting off the sea, children playing... elvish children playing. The memories were becoming blurred, melding the two lives. Is this what Celeborn had meant in their last discussion. She would at some point forget the differences? She settled her chin onto her hands, staring at her reflection. Would the changes show?

She shook her head, annoyed at her own foolishness. She ran a hand over her hair brushing the long sandy locks over her shoulder. What had the elf looked like? Was she similar to Seothlindë at all? She pressed her fingers to her eyes, trying to remember but no image came to mind. Why couldn't she remember? Certain things seemed muddled, like they were hidden yet in a grey mist. Would that curtain ever be drawn back?

What did all of this matter, truly? If she lived another thirty years, she would still die. What good came of knowing she was once an elf? Would it really make any difference in her life? She sat back as she considered the ramifications, stunned for a moment.

"I wondered when the question would come to you," Galadriel said as she glided across the room toward Mairen. "You thoughts have lain open for me quite often of late."

Mairen rose quickly to her feet, but Galadriel waved her back to her seat. The lady sat gracefully on the edge of the bed, her blue eyes riveting Mairen as she settled back into the chair.

"I did not realize my mind was so exposed." Mairen turned the chair so she faced the Lady of Light. "My lady, can I be frank?"

Galadriel smiled in amusement. "I would have it no other way, Mairen. Ask what you will."

Mairen folded her hands into her lap. Her discussions with Galadriel always seemed stilted. The Lady intimidated her, Mairen never knew if Galadriel was reading her thoughts or not. It affected what she said, and made her worry about what passed through her mind. Some things were better not left open for the lady to see.

Galadriel's soft laugh brought Mairen out of her self-introspection and she blushed. "Mairen, stop worrying. I do not pry into your thoughts; I sense mainly your emotions. Please speak openly. I would answer the questions that have been bothering you."

Mairen took a deep breath, lifting her gaze to meet the Lady's evenly. "How do you know what I was wondering then? This last moment?"

Galadriel's head tilted to the side slightly and she lifted a finely arched brow. "Your expression, Mairen. It seemed like a revelation, and I suspect what you just wondered was whether you are immortal?"

Mairen bit her lip, and pushed away the uneasiness. She had questions, and the Lady hopefully some answers. "What are the ramifications to my life, my lady? If all of what you have told me is true, then inside I am truly an elf. I may have been born Rohirran, but my soul is elvish. What can that mean?"

Galadriel's gaze was quite piercing. "Indeed? We do not know for certain, Mairen. There are some very important things that you must consider, for they will affect the rest of your life."

Mairen nodded. "I must go back to Rohan. I know this. My life is there, my family; no matter that inside I am an elf. It is where I belong." Her heart seemed to constrict as she pressed on. "I understand that I will know certain things, remember how to speak to you in Sindarin, all of that. I only hope that it does not change how my people feel about me."

Galadriel rose from the bed, taking several steps across the room and then turned, the thin fabric of her dressing rustling with her movements. "They love you, and will accept you back. But consider Mairen, if you truly believe your soul is that of an elf, what this means. There may be choices to make."

Mairen moaned softly, rubbing her cheeks with hands that were cold and icy. "How will I know what affect it has on me? Galadriel, will I know it when my soul converges? And why? Will I know why I have been sent back?"

Galadriel came forward, drawing Mairen from her chair to the window. "Look, Mairen. This is my home, for thousands of years. Thousands. Do you understand? When you pass the final test, I believe you will know why the Valar sent you back. I also believe with that knowledge comes a new decision for you. You see if you hold the soul of an elf, then truly you are an elf. You may be immortal, Mairen. If so, you will have privileges of our race. The Valar gave you life, and with that comes the abilities of our people, and the call home." She turned Mairen to face her. "You may feel you belong to Rohan, for that is where you grew up. But how long? You may live far past the lives of your brothers, your king. One other had this choice before her."

Mairen felt the blood drain from her face. She had truly not considered what might happen. "But you do not know this for sure, my lady. I could still only live a normal life of my race."

Galadriel shook her head. "Nay Mairen. This is why Celeborn and I brought you here. You are one of us; you must change your perception of what you have before you. Thousands of years will pass, Mairen, not thirty, or fifty, or even hundreds. Think of the generations that you will watch grow and die."

Mairen drew back, shaken. "I had not considered that."

Galadriel pressed her fingers to Mairen's chin, forcing their gazes to meet. "Our time is nearly gone. The war of the ring is over my power fades every day. I will soon leave these shores, leaving few of us behind. You will have to choose quickly whether you will stay or leave. Once the last ship sails the elves will be no more in Arda."

Mairen shivered. "Arwen made that choice, didn't she? How difficult it must have been."

"Arwen has followed her heart. Her love for Aragorn is deep, strong enough that she was willing to face the despair of seeing him die and living on this earth alone until she fades. I hope it will be worth the pain in the end."

Mairen leaned on the window frame, gripping the wood sill tightly in her hands. "We don't know yet if I face that decision."

Galadriel's answer was disquieting. "It won't be very long, Mairen."

The sunlight sparkled on the water bubbling over the rocks. The stream was cold as it rushed over Mairen's bare feet as she sat on the edge of the bank. Two weeks since Haldir had left, two long weeks of constant remembering. She was pushing too hard, she knew it, but she was determined to press on. Her head was aching today; last night she had slept only a few hours. She leaned forward, trailing her fingers in the water. She drew her feet out, drying them off with the edge of her tunic. She was going to have a hard time giving up the elvish attire. She grinned, perhaps she would start a new trend in Rohan, but she didn't think her brothers would accept the style. They could be so stubborn and resistant to change. She sat back, leaning on her hands to feel the sun on her face. The stream was a short distance from the city, meandering through the sunlit glade. She had found it a comforting spot to dwell on her memories. The sun warmed the chill that some of the thoughts brought to her mind. Seothlindë's life had not always been easy. But it was the life of a warrior; death and fighting was something Mairen knew well.

Something she would go back to soon. She missed her brothers. Would she miss Haldir when she left? She sighed. Perhaps she was putting too much into his kiss the other day. Just when she had decided he wasn't interested he did that. She told herself her feelings about him were only her memories, but she knew it wasn't true. She'd lain awake too many nights since he'd left thinking about him. It didn't change her decision to leave, though. She had to go back.

She sat up, crossing her legs. Time to get on with what she had come here for. She was going to push again. She shivered; knowing the memory she wanted was one she really didn't want to remember. But she had to. Somehow she knew it was the final key. She just had to have the courage to face it.

She closed her eyes, willing the memory to come...


[I} I ran along the street, ignoring the surprised looks of the other elves, past storefronts and warehouses, finally reaching the outskirts of Mithlond to wait with impatience, my gaze for once trained on the dusty road instead of the sea.

It had been so long since he had come. I felt the rise of warmth on my cheeks as I remembered his disdain. He'd been right. I had been selfish and unkind. Arrogant. It had taken Cirdan's own words to finally make me see the truth. I'd been wrong, and I had made the effort to change. I had looked upon the races of the world, and tried to understand their value, their place. At least I had tried to, and I was certain Haldir would see it. He would know as soon as he saw me that I had grown wiser.

I moved past the outer walls, where the masons were repairing a broken section, using both elven and human workers to replace the large stone blocks of carved granite. It was a new design, ordered by the King, to replace an older marker above the gates. I looked up, smiling at the workers overhead as they heaved the large block onto the edge of the wall, readying the ropes that were to lift it into place. A call from the road made me turn, and my eyes grew wide in excitement as the first glint of the approaching party broke the horizon.

I was frozen with excitement, but then moved forward to peer down the road. I watched the elves approach, one in particular leading the way.

I closed my eyes, hearing the creak of ropes overhead, daydreaming of my upcoming meeting with Haldir. His eyes would widen in amazement, love . . . My eyes flew open as a brief premonition hit me. Above me, the sound of ropes snapping made me look up with a terrible sense of foreboding.

My scream must have brought them at a run for elves and men suddenly surrounded me, as well as the elves that were just arriving.

I felt my body shudder. Trapped beneath the large stone, I lay crushed beneath its weight, curiously free of pain while the elves rushed to remove it. I knew they were too late. I closed my eyes, unable to bear the horror and the looks of anguish that were all around me. Then a hand rested on my shoulder, and the low voice I'd dreamed of for so long caressed my battered nerves.

"Seothlindë!" Haldir whispered frantically, and I gazed into the grey depths of his eyes, seeing his sorrow as the others pulled away the stone.

"It is too late, Haldir," I told him. "I was waiting, I was ready to show you how much I had changed. So you would love me." I coughed weakly. A tall human stepped forward and bent down beside me.

"It's my fault," he said miserably. "I am so sorry. The ropes snapped. I could not pull it back!"

Haldir turned to him, but I reached out with a weak hand to touch the human's knee. "It's not your fault . . . I was not paying attention." I sucked in a now painful breath and whimpered quietly. "I am dying, but I do not want to go." My sight was growing dim Haldir was fading from me. "I fight it . . . I do not want to leave you . . ." I blinked away the mist taking over my vision, and saw Haldir lean over me, his grey eyes stormy as the sea.

And then I could only smile forlornly and close my eyes.{/I]


Haldir pushed the thick branches aside, drawn to the stream by a sense that Mairen was there. He could see the bright glade ahead of him, glowing beyond the darker shadows of the forest. He ducked another low branch and stepped into the brilliant sunshine just as Mairen collapsed to her side near the stream. It took him only seconds to reach her, kneeling down to gather her into his arms.

Tears streamed down her cheeks, and he found she was trembling violently. He didn't know what she was remembering and feared what it could mean. He brushed the wetness from her face, drawing his fingers gently over her pale skin. She had braided her hair back and he smiled at the thin braids behind her ears. Had she done it purposely? She wore the elvish tunic he'd given her as well. He liked her in it, liked the thin fabric as it molded to her body. She whimpered and Haldir felt a deep sense of horror wash over him. Where was her worry stone, did he dare join her thoughts, would she consider it as an intrusion?

He didn't have to make that choice as Mairen shuddered and then opened her eyes. She blinked in surprise and then sat up, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. He held her securely as she wound her fingers tightly into his hair, waiting for her to speak.

"It was too real, to open my eyes and find you leaning over me just as you did before." She tightened her arms, nearly choking him.

"Mairen, you must explain. Let go so I can breathe and I can look at you."

She relaxed her arms but didn't let go of his hair, nor lift her face from where she had it buried in his neck. He slid his hand up her back as she continued to tremble.

"I missed you terribly, I don't know why you affect me so," she mumbled into his shoulder.

Haldir smiled and grasped her arms, drawing her away from him. She met his gaze, her hazel eyes still awash with moisture, glistening in the bright sunlight. "I missed you as well, Mairen. You have been all right? Why were you crying?"

She brushed away the tears on her cheeks and frowned. "I am fine. I made myself remember, Haldir. It's the key. I had to remember how I died." She blinked as the tears welled into her eyes again, and she wiped them away irritably. "You were there, leaning over me, so sad."

He remembered that day all too well. "I was horrified by what happened, Mairen."

She nodded, shivering again. "I was waiting for you. You know this."

Haldir wrapped his fingers around her arms. "She was at the edge of the city. I did not know she waited for me."

Mairen pressed her hands against his chest. "You knew, whether you will admit it or not. I remember, Haldir. I remember your face."

He saw the bleakness in her eyes, but could not change what was. "I did not come for her . . . for you. She would have been disappointed yet again."

Mairen closed her eyes; he could see the pain reflected in her expression.

"But I changed, Haldir. I saw my mistake, and made the effort to grow and improve. Would it not have made any difference?"

She tried to move back, but Haldir tightened the hold on her arms, drawing her closer instead. "I don't know, Mairen. Does it matter? Your life as it was is over. You have a chance at a different life, how will you live it now? This is what you must decide. You must use what the Valar have given you to the best advantage."

He would regret that advice; he knew it as soon as he saw the change in her eyes.

"I never found any human men that interested me," Mairen said quietly. "I enjoyed their company, fought beside many that I loved dearly, as I loved my brothers. Yet I felt something was waiting for me. I had something more to do; yet what it was I could not say. Until I saw you. You said Galadriel feels I am still tied to you."

"And do you?" he asked softly.

Mairen lifted a hand to caress his face, a gesture he had wanted to do for so long. "I think she is right, but . . ."

Haldir caught her hand and pulled her palm against his lips, kissing it. "But?"

She took a wavering breath. "I don't know what else. I was meant to help you. I know this in my heart, Haldir. Whether it was saving your life and bringing you home, or meeting you at Helms Deep. I sense that I was meant to be there. I fear what more might lie in store, and I am also afraid you have no more need of me." She pressed his lips with her fingers when he began to speak. "I feel almost whole again. The memories of both lives are really mine. But I don't know where I belong yet, Haldir. I must return to Rohan."

He felt the despair eat at his heart, but pushed it away. "For how long?"

She started to answer but then glanced away, her face tight. "Does it matter?"

It was a foolish question, but then Galadriel had been correct that he had hidden much from Mairen. He gripped her chin, drawing her gaze back to him. "It matters very much. It may have been the Valar's doing that brought you into my life Mairen. But it is mine that wishes to keep you beside me. Have you given no consideration that you can stay here?"

She smiled, a tremulous curve to her lips that made him want to kiss her. "With you?"

"With me."

"Would you go with Galadriel when she sails to the West?"

He let go, dropping his hand at the surprising question. "I don't know. She has felt the call to go strengthen as her power wanes. Celeborn grows quiet and I fear he knows she will leave soon, yet I sense he is not yet ready. She does not need me as a guardian on the ship nor in Valinor. I would say that I am not ready to depart as yet, but I cannot say for how long."

She sighed, was it in relief? "So you would stay in Lórien with Celeborn."


Mairen rose onto her knees, and leaned forward, pressing her lips to his. "I have wanted to do that since you kissed me in your talan the first week I was here." She grinned sheepishly and he almost laughed. "I do not know what will happen, Haldir, when I go through whatever it is I must to finish this thing. But I miss my brothers and I must go back to Rohan. Whatever happens though, I know now that it is not just Seothlindë's memories I feel." She rose to her feet, placing her hands on her hips. "I do know that I expect a full report of what is happening in Rohan as you promised."

Haldir suppressed a grin and rose beside her. "Indeed. You are quite bossy, my lady. I will give you your report after I speak with Galadriel."

Mairen reached out to caress the leather strap that lay over his chest. "You still have your quiver and bow. You came to me first?"

Haldir caught her hand and kissed it again. "I did. Now come we must return to the city."

Mairen tucked her arm into his. "Élan thinks we are sleeping together."

"Élan should keep his mouth shut."

He felt Mairen's surprised glance and he gazed back sternly. "What his captain does or does not do is not fodder for gossip. He will regret mentioning it."

"You will not punish him, will you?"

"I do not think I will need to, I have a feeling you have done so already."

Mairen stepped back, pulling him to face her. "How did you know that?"

Haldir turned her around, facing the gates that lay ahead of them. "Élan is standing sentinel and he is about as white as the snow that caps the mountains. He will wonder all day whether you have spoken of it. I can truthfully say his anticipation of what I will do will be far more punishment than sending him to the fences for a few extra weeks."

"That is awful. Will you not relieve his concern? Or at least speak to him?"

Haldir swept her past the gate, nodding curtly to the pale sentinel who saluted promptly. "Indeed no, Mairen. I think I shall make him wait."

Mairen grimaced and would have turned back to look at Élan but Haldir had her elbow. He guided her to the stair leading to her talan. "Leave it be," he commanded softly. "I will return after I have spoken with Galadriel. But do not worry, your people are well."

Mairen stepped back when he released her elbow. "I will wait patiently then."

Haldir laughed. "You will wait impatiently or I do not know you." He took several steps and then turned back around to find her grinning, with her arms folded over her chest. "What did you say?"

"I just said that is a fine quiver you carry, that's all."

Add New Comment

Latest Forum Posts

Join the Conversation!