***Elrond’s House – The Library
Rían had enjoyed the day immensely! While they had toured the buildings and gardens, Rúmil and Orophin entertained her with stories of their childhood, subtly throwing in extra tales on Haldir. She tried to act as if it made no difference who they spoke of but the brothers saw the hint of a pink flush to her cheeks.
They had just sat down for lunch in the library when Rían froze in mid-motion; her hand over her heart and her face gone deathly pale.
“Rían?!” Rúmil asks in alarm. “What is wrong?”
“I-I do not know,” she answered, genuinely puzzled as she rose to her feet.
Rían found herself heading down the corridor, Rúmil and Orophin close behind her. She felt as if danger was near…danger not to herself or anyone in the house. It was as if she was feeling someone else’s danger!
Suddenly she felt her heart lurch and she gasped Haldir’s name. Gripped by panic and acting on instinct she began to run. She ignored Rúmil and Orophin’s frantic questions and she was unaware of the curious stares from other elves as they hurried out of her way.
She ran silently but swiftly to the stables; pausing briefly at the stall to her mare. She stroked the animal’s muzzle and told her of their task. With a toss of the horse’s head, Rían leaps upon the mare’s back and guides her outside. They come to an abrupt halt as Glorfindel draws near, leading Haldir’s horse.
“What happened?” she demands.
“He fell off,” Glorfindel answers with a smile. “Do not worry, the walk back will do him good.”
“What have you done?” Rían practically whispers, her voice trembling with fear.
The smile disappeared from the seneschal’s face when he saw the stark panic in her eyes. Without another word, Rían’s mare burst into a gallop.
Wargs! By the Valar, wargs!! Haldir cursed. He truly hoped this was not part of Glorfindel’s twisted plan. If so, there would definitely be a kinslaying.
A group of six feral wargs raced his way and Haldir realized he would not get to a large enough tree in time; the closer, smaller trees were too easily pushed over by the wargs.
Drawing his bow and fitting an arrow, the marchwarden waited for his shot. He knew each shot had to be perfect. He knew he could not afford to miss.
As she drew closer, Rían saw the wargs closing in on the lone archer. One warg was already dead and a second slid to the ground with an arrow protruding from its eye.
Rían’s heart screamed in relief that Haldir was still in one piece. At that moment, he turned as if he had heard her shout his name. He ran toward her and the horse and in a blur of motion, Haldir grasped her outstretched hand and swung up behind her. As the mare practically spun a half circle, the galadhel fired at the closest warg.
Glorfindel appeared, firing arrow after arrow at the remaining beasts. A quick glance told him Haldir was not harmed but Rían refused to slow down and they continued toward home.
Once the stables came into view, the mare eased into a jog; which gave Rían time to calm her own self.
He was safe! Her entire being rejoiced at that thought. She had been so frightened she would be too late! But he was safe now; his arms wrapped around her waist, that chest she had seen earlier molded to her back — Sweet Elbereth! What was she thinking?!
“Are you all right?” he asked, his breath fanning gently across her ear.
She felt a tingle go straight through her being at the sensation and at the sound of his voice. She managed to nod as an arm tightened slightly around her.
Rían then saw what he did; a crowd had gathered around the stables. No doubt her panicked run through the Last Homely House and been reported to Lord Elrond. Yes, there he was, right in front along with her uncle and Haldir’s brothers. Everyone watched the two elves on horseback, silently wondering what had happened.
Fortunately, at that moment Glorfindel returned. He hopped down from his horse as Elrond marched toward him.
“My study. Now,” Elrond practically growled then turned to go inside, the seneschal followed quickly.
Erestor stared long and hard at Haldir before softening his gaze at Rían. He nodded his head once then joined Elrond and Glorfindel.
Seeing that everyone was in one piece the crowd began to disperse except for Rúmil and Orophin. They waited anxiously but did not rush Rían and Haldir.
“You can get down now,” Rían says, her voice devoid of emotion.
Haldir slid off the horse, looking bewildered at the elleth. How did she know he had needed help?
“Y-you are uninjured?” she asked, taking Haldir by surprise.
“I am. Thank you.”
Rían looked down into grey eyes that mirrored her own puzzlement and wanted to weep. What was happening to her?!
Swallowing past the lump in her throat, Rían turns to put away her horse; Haldir’s brothers immediately rushing to his side.
Rían took her time brushing the mare, making sure she was comfortable.
“Hannon le, mellon nin,” she said softly to the horse.
As the adrenaline worked out of her system, Rían felt the full effect of what had happened. She was unaware she was now sitting in the corner of the stall, her mind remembering. Remembering how scared she had been knowing Haldir was in danger; how her heart thundered with fear and then recalling the absolute relief of finding him safe! Tears trickled silently down her cheeks…he was safe.
“By the Valar! How did wargs get into Imladris!?” Elrond snapped. “If those creatures can get by my sentries then what else has slithered in?! Can you tell me this, Glorfindel?”
“Before the sun sets I will have those answers for you, Lord Elrond,” the seneschal answered, his tone subdued before the anger of his leader.
“Does anyone realize the tragedy that was averted?!”
Glorfindel knew he deserved this. Although he had no idea of the danger that was so close, the marchwarden should not have been left alone. When he returned to the stables and saw Rían riding out he could not help but smile, but his delight quickly turned to anxiety when he saw the fear in her green eyes.
If anything had happened to either one…the Elda shook away those thoughts. One thing good did come out of this and for that alone he would endure whatever punishment Elrond mete out; he had been right about Rían and Haldir. And knowing that, he would step up his plans.
As Elrond continued to vent, Erestor watched Glorfindel. What was the Elda up to, he wondered seeing the slight smile. The Lord of Rivendell is raking him over the coals and he is smiling!
Sensing he was being watched, Glorfindel looked up to see Erestor’s midnight gaze fixed on him. His smile fades and his expression becomes one of a truly chastised elf.
Erestor was convinced Glorfindel was plotting. No elf, no matter how inexperienced a horseman, is ever left afoot for long; the horse would return if able. Which meant Glorfindel had taken Haldir’s horse, but why? What was Rían’s part in this?
As Erestor waited with Elrond and the others for Rían’s return he listened to Haldir’s brothers relate what had happened. She had ran, they said, not listening to them but seeming to listen to something within herself. Elrond lifted a brow at that and glanced to see Erestor’s reaction.
When the mare returned carrying the two elves, Erestor thought he saw a faint shimmer of energy between his niece and the marchwarden. It could not be true could it, Erestor asked himself as his heart lurched against his chest with a sickening thump.
Elrond’s dismissal of Glorfindel brought Erestor back to the moment. As the Elda left the study, the chief advisor intercepted him.
“Whatever you are plotting leave my niece out of it,” Erestor’s tone invited no argument.
“Plotting? What gives you that idea?”
Erestor took a step closer, his features a hard mask.
“Rían will not be a pawn in your games, Glorfindel. Leave her alone.”
With that, Erestor left the seneschal alone in the corridor.
“Ah, Erestor,” Glorfindel sighs. “I have never thought matters of the heart a game.”
Sighing again, he went to find Elrohir. He would have to take care of the laundry without him.
Rían had no idea how long she sat in the stall. All she wanted to do was hang on to that warm feeling she had when Haldir returned with her. She did not want to analyze what happened right now, there would be plenty of time for that. For now, she just wanted to bask in the peace, the calmness, the security that wrapped about her soul. So as it was she did not hear the light footsteps approaching.
“Rían, are you well?”
Looking up suddenly, she sees Orophin leaning across the stall door, his eyes filled with concern.
“I am well, Orophin. You did not have to check on me,” she said quickly, getting to her feet and brushing the straw from her clothes.
Rían patted the mare one last time and exited the stall. She came to an abrupt halt as Orophin was blocking her way. He studied her for a moment, his blue-grey eyes noting every detail, especially the fact that she had wept. Rían felt her throat tighten seeing his worry for her so open upon his face. She remembered the first time she had met Orophin. That tiny elfling had wanted to comfort her though his own hurt was still fresh and he had gazed upon her with the same expression she saw now.
“Gwathel,” he whispered softly. “Hannon le.”
Rían was unprepared for the emotion that choked her and made her eyes sting with fresh tears. Sister, he had named her. Her tears came faster as Orophin gently held her until she calmed.
“When I saw you in Lothlórien so long ago I wished then for you to be my sister,” he said with a smile and brushed back her hair from her cheek. “I wanted to trade my brothers but Galadriel would not let me.”
Rían laughed at Orophin’s teasing then looked at him solemnly. “I would be honored to name you Gwador.”
The young warden smiled and brought her hand up to briefly press a kiss to it.
“Are you truly well, Rían? Would you like me to leave you to your solitude?”
“I am well. I did need some time to gather my thoughts but I would have been in shortly.”
“Everyone was fussing over Haldir and Glorfindel but I saw you had slipped away.”
Orophin watched as Rían paced a couple of steps, struggling with a thought.
“How is he?” she finally managed to ask, her voice soft, hesitant.
“He is well, grouchy as usual. He chased away Rúmil and I, said he wanted time alone. I see a pattern developing here.”
Rían shot a glare at Orophin that brought him up short. Why had he the feeling he had seen that look before?
“Peace, Rían. I did not mean anything untoward. However, I am curious. How did you know Haldir was in danger? How did you know where he was?”
Orophin sighed heavily as Rían turned and walked away from him. He was afraid he had offended her and that was the last thing he wanted. She came to a halt several paces from the stable’s entrance, her features clearly showing her distress. Orophin walked silently up behind her, giving her time to sort through whatever she was fighting. When she turned to face him, her hand was resting lightly over her heart.
“I felt him, Orophin,” she said in a voice so quiet his elvish hearing barely caught the words. “I do not know why, I do not know how…but I felt him.”
Hannon le, mellon nin – thank you , my friend
Gwathel – sworn sister
Gwador – sworn brother