Never Say Never - Part Nineteen
*It was raining, thick mud splattered everywhere as the Uruks charged the stone walls. Elves and humans drew back their bows and released wave upon wave of arrows. The air was rent with battle cries and the screams of the dying. The stone wall suddenly gave way with a deafening roar and flash of blinding light.
The rain had stopped...orcs, goblins, and Uruk-Hai swarmed from the trees. The elves cannot hold this position, the dark keep seemed to taunt from within the once pristine forest.
Celeborn turned to relay orders to his captain - but he was not there. *
Galadriel started as a hand was laid on her arm. She blinked to clear her vision and saw Celeborn staring at her with concern.
"What is wrong?" he asked quietly. "What did you see?"
"I truly do not know," she replied, truly confused. "I need time to sort my thoughts."
She looked up from the table just in time to see Rían and Haldir walk away. She found herself smiling, sensing the bond between them.
When Rían had made her way toward the marchwarden and the elleths moments earlier, Galadriel had smiled at Celeborn and looped her arm through his. She watched with joy until Rían had placed her hand in Haldir's hand. That was when the unsettling vision visited her.
Celeborn noticed how his wife watched the two younger elves and grew worried.
"What you saw - does it concern them?" he asked, although he did not want to hear the answer.
"My heart says yes, but I do not know why."
Celeborn got to his feet but a hand on his elbow stayed him.
"You are not to follow. They are safe in Caras Galadhon," she gently chided, knowing the vision had greatly worried her husband.
He swallowed hard, not able to shake the awful feeling that consumed him. Although he had not the visions of his wife, Celeborn was plagued with dreams and nagging worries regarding Haldir. There was never anything specific he could name...but with Galadriel's recent vision, he just wanted to be sure Haldir was all right.
"I only need to see them but a moment. Trust me, I do not want to interrupt them at this fragile stage...humor an old elf. "
"Be careful you are not seen," Galadriel smiled warmly before releasing him.
Celeborn frowned. He asked one of the elleths, which had been with the small group, what direction Haldir and Rían had gone. She pointed toward the arched entrance and said Rían had news from Lord Elrond that she needed to relay to the marchwarden.
What news? He was not aware of any such news from the peredhil! And if it had to do with his foster son, why was he not informed?
He stopped the moment he spotted them and his heart warmed at the sight. He could not hear what they spoke of but the expression in their eyes was unmistakable. They had truly missed the other; this time apart forced them to realize that if nothing else. However, he could sense they were still holding back and wondered if their old fears still haunted them.
Foolish younglings! Why question the Valar? Why hold back your hearts when everyone can see the truth?
Suddenly he smiled when Haldir kissed Rían's wrist.
Oh yes, there still was hope for these two! He smiled and turned to leave but noticed Haldir had cut his eyes in his direction.
Ai!! Celeborn cursed; he had been spotted. He could not flee now as it would only make him appear guilty of some offense. Gathering his composure, he stepped forward.
"What important matters concern my marchwarden?" he asked, pleased to see the irritation in Haldir's expression at the interruption.
He noticed that Rían appeared stunned at his question. Quickly, she schooled her features and answered.
"Lord Elrond wanted me to pass along his thanks for exchanging security tactics and procedures with Lord Glorfindel."
Although she appeared aloof, inside she felt like an elfling who had been caught sneaking sweets before supper! Haldir stood to her left, his hands folded calmly behind his back, his mere presence seeming to lend her strength.
Celeborn kept his expression neutral, not letting on he now knew there was no such message. But it did give him an idea!
"Ah," he nodded sagely. "I am sure Glorfindel updated Haldir on Imladris' defenses also."
"He did," Haldir stated, flinching at the memory of the warg attack. Rían glanced at him, her green eyes bright with that memory, too.
"We can do no less. Rían, since I will not be requiring your skills, what say you to learning of our patrols?" Celeborn said.
Rían fought back the excitement she felt, not only because it may mean spending more time with Haldir, but she also wanted to know more of the Golden Wood. She wanted to understand the dangers the Galadhrim faced and how they kept their home safe.
She kept all emotion from her voice she accepted. "I would be honored, my lord."
Celeborn hid the smile he felt tugging at the corners of his mouth. She acted as though it was no more important than deciding what to drink with dinner! Erestor would be proud to see how well she pulled that off.
"Very good! Haldir, take the next couple of days and familiarize Rían with our protocols and procedures. When next you are on duty, I am confident you will secure her a posting, also!"
"Yes, Lord Celeborn," Haldir replied reluctantly.
This time the Lord of the Golden Wood did smile. They were trying so hard to hide how pleased they were at this.
If they think to hide their blooming relationship from everyone...this could prove quite entertaining! He thought to himself.
"I am going to enjoy the remainder of this feast; I suggest you do, too."
Celeborn left with a very satisfied smirk in place.
"What have you done?" Galadriel asked when her husband returned. "You interrupted, didn't you?
"Not apurpose, I promise. Once I saw they were safe I moved to return but Haldir spied me."
"You should know better," she shook her head in amusement.
Celeborn told her of assigning Rían to a patrol and Galadriel, surprisingly, agreed. It would give the two young elves more time together and give Rían a sense of purpose.
A moment later, they watched the two return.
"They are indeed beautiful together," Galadriel said softly. "See how their eyes dance when they look upon the other now? They still hold to their fears...but it is a good beginning. Yes, this time together is what they need. They must see past their own foolishness; only together can they defeat the obstacles before them."
Sensing her husband's distress at her last words, Galadriel clasped his hand in hers. They smiled comfortingly at each other.
/It is in the Valar's hands./
Orophin watched as they drew closer and smiled. Although they appeared politely civil to each other, he saw the truth in their eyes, a peace that radiated from their very souls.
"Where did you go?" asked Rúmil. He had seen them leave and secretly celebrated, thinking they would talk and sort out whatever problems they thought they had. So what brought them back so quickly?
"We saw Lord Celeborn return just before you," Aeglironion said.
Haldir glared at him and Glennodad.
What were they doing still here? he wondered as he unconsciously took half a step closer to Rían.
Forcing herself not to smile at the gesture, Rían picked up two glasses of wine from a passing servant and handed one to Haldir. As he took the glass from her, she lightly brushed his fingers with her own and he could feel her amusement.
"Lord Celeborn advised me I would be joining the patrols. Obviously, I am not needed as an emissary on this trip," Rían explained after taking a small sip of wine.
"We have plenty of guardians. Why would he want you to do this?" Orophin was worried; he did not want Rían near danger, as the borders had grown more perilous.
"Care to explain, Marchwarden?" Rían asked, her voice devoid of emotion but her eyes flickered briefly with mirth.
Giving a bored sigh, Haldir turned to the others and briefly repeated Celeborn's declaration. "Perhaps she can take what she learns back to Imladris and they can at least keep out wargs."
His brothers rolled their eyes when it appeared Rían and Haldir were reverting to their bickering. If they had
bothered to calm and look closer they would have seen the mischievous glances exchanged between the elves in question.
"Wargs?" Glennodad asked, his bright blue eyes sparkling in anticipation of another story. "Lord Elrond has a warg problem?"
The music started another tune but the small group listened as Rúmil related the tale.
Rían took another sip of wine, trying to hide her discomfort as she remembered the fear she experienced that day. At the memory, her stomach roiled and her throat tightened.
Sensing her unease, Haldir ever so slightly angled toward her. His arm barely touched her shoulder but the contact was enough to calm her.
"I do hope Lord Glorfindel returned in time," Aeglironion huffed, offended at the treatment of one of their own.
"No, he did not," Rúmil shook his head.
"Then who came to your aid?" Glennodad asked Haldir.
Neither Haldir nor Rían spoke, not trusting their voices. Therefore, Orophin answered for them.
"Somehow, Rían sensed the danger. It was she who rode out to our brother."
Glennodad and Aeglironion stared at the elleth, more questions gathered on their tongues. But before any could be voiced, Arwen joined them.
"Haldir, my old friend!" she smiled radiantly. "How long has it been since we enjoyed a dance together?"
"Apparently too long," he answered politely. "Shall we remedy that?"
Rúmil bit back a grin when Haldir cast an almost apologetic glace at Rían as he led Arwen to the dance area.
Rían's calm expression hid the pleasure she felt as she realized he had not wanted to leave. But he had known Arwen for years upon years and it would have been rude to not dance with the lord and lady's granddaughter.
She continued to watch them for a few moments as she remembered her disbelief when Arwen told her of her engagement to Estel so many years ago. How could she give her heart to a mortal? Did she not realize the sacrifice that entailed?
For years, she was puzzled by her friend's choice, but now as she heard the soft, deep tone of Haldir's voice mingled with Arwen's she smiled brightly.
/I understand now./
"Since you have danced with Orophin already I believe it is my turn."
Rían smiled broadly at Rúmil. Apparently, he had mistaken her silence for brooding and thought to distract her.
"That is a fine idea," she said.
"I have not seen Rían smile as she does now," Arwen said. "Her eyes follow you even now; as I am sure yours would her if I were not taking up your time."
Haldir knew to deny it would prove nothing. Arwen watched the flicker of emotion in his grey eyes and grinned.
"I do not blame her for watching...you look very handsome tonight!"
She was delighted to see how uneasy the compliment made him. He took a deep breath to center himself before speaking.
"Thank you, Arwen, but it is only a new tunic, however, I did notice the seamstress had plenty of the same fabric," he replied dourly.
"Ah, yes! Rían's dress looks exquisite on her, does it not?" she asked innocently.
Exquisite?! Aye! Exquisite, alluring, ethereal; all words that could barely do justice to describe Rían this eve!
"Why do the Peredhil enjoy dressing us up to match?" he asked, changing the focus of the conversation. [Half-elves]
Arwen laughed freely. "Oh, Haldir! The first time was Glorfindel's idea and this time was my grandmother's!"
"So, it is not a Peredhil's proclivity to meddle...just ancient elves'," he snorted.
Again Arwen laughed. "My dear friend, you two need not be dressed similar to match...your hearts already are."
She smiled fondly as he avoided her gaze for a moment.
"Haldir, one last bit of advice and I will cease tormenting you."
This brought a hint of a smile to his lips.
"Enjoy your time together; for however long and wherever you both may be."
Grey, eyes filled with indecision met wisdom filled blue. Arwen sincerely hoped he would accept the wonderful gift the Valar had granted him and Rían...for it would be something strong to cling to in the darkness ahead.
"Aye, my lady," Haldir said softly. "Your words are wise and I know you speak from your heart. I will not ignore your advice."
"May I have the next dance?"
Rían and Rúmil look up to see Aeglironion standing before them. Rían took a quick moment to discern his motives but saw nothing shadowy in his manner.
"Yes, you may," she answered, curious as to the elf's reason for asking her to dance.
Rúmil paused by the older elf and whispered, "You will behave and treat her as my sister or - "
Aeglironion nodded once in understanding then turned to his dance partner. They danced in silence for a few moments before the galadhel spoke.
"I want to apologize for myself and Glennodad; our actions yesterday were disrespectful and foolish."
Rían remained silent, seeing that he had more to say.
"Rúmil and Orophin had told us of you and Haldir's dealings with the other. We misunderstood them."
They continued to dance, their movements as second nature while they spoke.
"When the brothers returned from Imladris...Haldir was not the same," Aeglironion continued.
Rían nodded once as she recalled Orophin's letters.
"To us, it sounded as if the two of you just needed some encouragement to realize what you denied."
Manipulating elves! Rían clenched her teeth and fought back the anger. He and Glennodad wanted to make her jealous with their words yesterday; which they did...she could not believe elves she had never met would be so scheming!
"We were wrong," Aeglironion said, his voice filled with remorse. "Seeing you two together, the way your souls shine, made us realize we had erred. Please accept my apology."
Rían managed to say yes, apology accepted, but her thoughts reeled.
Seeing your souls shine? Was it that obvious to everyone else? If it was so clear then why did she still have so many questions?!
Suddenly, she was aware they had stopped and Aeglironion was releasing her; a wide smile brightening his features.
What was he smiling for? she wondered. A moment later, she had her answer.
Silently, Haldir stepped before her, his hand held out in invitation.
"I believe I owe you a dance," he said, his voice low and silken as it wrapped around Rían's heart.
She placed her hand in his and revelled in the energy that flared between them when he placed his other hand firmly yet gently at her waist. With no further words, they began to move to the music.
Orophin smiled widely as he watched them. They moved as one, fluidly, elegantly across the dance area. He saw Arwen and Rúmil pause as they passed, both wearing pleased expressions.
"Just look at them, feä-mates," Glennodad whispered in reverence. [soul-mates]
Orophin glanced to his side when Aeglironion returned.
"They are magnificent together," the older elf said.
"They complement each other," Orophin found himself saying, "Lothlórien's golden sun and Imladris' beautiful moon."
Aeglironion nodded at the imagery. "Without one...you cannot have the other."