Never Say Never – Part Three
*** Flashback to the borders of Lothlórien, hundreds & hundreds of years earlier ****
“How much further until we reach the Golden Wood, Ada?”
“We should be there before supper, Rían.”
“I can barely stand it! I have always wanted to visit. Is it as beautiful as they say?!”
“Why do you not ask our esteemed escort? He has been there many more times than I.”
Laughing, Rían’s father watches as she urges her horse to catch up to the blond elf leading their small party.
“Glorfindel! Is `Lórien as —“
“Yes it is, penneth!” he answers with a short burst of laughter. “Come, ride beside me and I shall tell you all about the fair Golden Wood and your poor father can rest from your endless questions.”
As her kinsman regaled her with tales of Lothlórien, Rían looked back to see her parents sharing a brief kiss. She giggled then turned her attention back to Glorfindel.
“Your daughter will no doubt have Glorfindel begging off any more tales and questions within the hour, melamin,” smiles Celonë, her hand held by her husband.
“My daughter? Whatever could you mean?” came the innocent question.
“Ah, Thalos, she grows more like you everyday; adventurous, independent…”
“You say that like it is a bad thing,” Rían’s father grins, his emerald eyes sparkling mischievously.
“No. No, it is not,” Celonë concedes, reaching up to tuck back a lock of her husband’s raven hair. “But I do worry.”
“Worry? About what?”
“It is only a matter of time before her destiny calls to her. The shadow is growing in Arda, we cannot ignore it any longer…I worry.”
Thalos gently caresses his wife’s cheek, his eyes mirroring her concern as he shared the same worries himself.
“She still has many years before she reaches her majority. We still have time to enjoy her childhood,” he says, his voice warm and comforting.
As the trees of Lothlórien came into view, Glorfindel grew more somber, all his senses on alert. He ordered Rían back to ride with her mother and brought the other guards in tighter.
“Glorfindel, what is it?” Thalos asks.
“We are being followed. I cannot tell how many. If something happens, have Rían and Celonë run for the Wood. The wardens will protect them once they reach the trees.”
They continued riding in silence, bows readied, and horses steadily picking up the pace. Rían stayed close to her parents, her eyes wide with fright. Surely they would not be attacked so close to Lothlórien, would they?
A moment later a group of two dozen orcs and men charged out from their hiding places.
“Run for the trees!” Thalos commands, firing an arrow at the nearest attacker. “We will be right behind you!!”
Seeing the rebellious glint in her daughter’s eyes, Celonë grabs the reins to Rían’s horse and urges their mounts to greater speed.
Indeed, seeing her father rushed by the beasts had the elfling ready to stay and fight, but she also knew she had to get to the Golden Wood as her father ordered. Once they reached it the elves there would send help!
Rían could hear the comforting sounds of arrows being released as her father, Glorfindel, and the other guards protected their escape. But she looked up at her mother’s cry of alarm and saw that one of the men was on horseback and gaining on them quickly.
Celonë noticed the man was angling his mount towards her daughter. Did he think it would be easier to catch a child?! He would soon learn differently!
Drawing her sword, Celonë spins her horse to confront the man. She easily ran him through but during that time, two orcs burst from the underbrush.
Rían turned just in time to see the orcs swing their blades at her mother.
Through a red haze Rían drew her own small sword; a toy really, given to her by her father, and charged the orcs. She took them by surprise but when her sword sliced into the first creature’s chest, the blade snapped. The second orc grabbed her by her tunic, dragging her from her horse. Spinning in its grasp, Rían pulls the tiny eating knife from her belt and plunges it in the orc’s throat. Spraying blood blinded her as the creature squealed in pain, tossing her to the ground. She felt her head hit the ground and blacked out momentarily.
Rían’s name was called several times then she felt strong hands gently raise her to a sitting position. Blinking rapidly, she sees Glorfindel keeling before her, his azure eyes filled with concern and relief.
Remembering, she jumps to her feet looking for more of the attackers.
“They are all dead, penneth,” he says, reaching to steady her as the child staggers.
“Where is -” she began to ask then sees her father kneeling on the ground next to a golden haired form. She felt her heart stop. Blood. There was so much blood!
Thalos worked frantically tying bandages around the gaping wound to her mother’s side and stomach.
“Rían, are you injured?” Celonë asks in alarm, her hand reaching toward her daughter.
“No, I am not hurt,” she answers, dropping to her knees and wiping the orc blood from her face.
Thalos glances at his daughter then continues his work.
“You killed two orcs,” he said, his voice a mixture of pride and grief. “I will have Glorfindel get you that suitable blade you and he have been pestering me about.”
“I told you she was ready,” the Balrog slayer says, laying a comforting hand on Rían’s shoulder.
“I-I was too late,” Rían’s voice was barely above a whisper.
“No, my daughter,” Celonë clasps her hands around Rían’s. “You fought most bravely.”
Celonë’s skin was paling even as she spoke, her voice growing weaker and her eyes dimming.
“You were protecting me,” Rían says her throat tight.
“And you have avenged me,” her mother smiles.
The elfling felt her heart freeze at those words.
“We must get to `Lórien,” Thalos states. “I have done all I can.”
Within moments, everyone was mounted again, Celonë riding in front of her husband. Before anyone could stop her, Rían raced ahead for the trees.
The lady would help her! Rían thought to herself. My mother will heal; I just have to get her to Lady Galadriel!
Rían fought back the tears that blinded her and tried to ignore the fear that would choke her as she clung tightly to her horse. Abruptly, her mount slid to a stop and Rían realized she was in the Golden Wood. But why had her horse stopped?
That was quickly answered as a dozen figures appeared before her. She saw they were elves, all clad in similar grey and black. Lothlórien’s wardens.
“Let me pass! I need to see the Lady!” Rían demands, ignoring the fact all the elves had arrows trained on her.
One of the elves stepped forward and held her horse’s bridle so she could not escape.
“What business do you have in our Wood?” he asks his tone uninviting.
“I need to see the Lady! My mother is injured! We were attacked; she needs to see your Lady!!”
Motioning for another elf, the leader sends him to let the Lord and Lady know of the trespassers.
“Trespassers?!” Rían gasps in disbelief. “We were invited!”
“We shall wait for word from the Lord and his Lady,” he states calmly.
“Th-that could be too late!” Rían began to panic.
Looking at the elf that blocked her path she wanted to scream. He appeared unmoved by her dilemma. How could he stand there keeping her mother from help? He appeared bored as if he would rather be somewhere else. All she could think of was her mother bleeding and possibly dying because of her!
“Saes. Saes, warden,” Rían begs, not caring the tears she had fought so hard to hold back finally fell down her cheeks. “Allow us to see Lady Galadriel. Saes.”
For a moment, the warden appeared to be considering her words.
“When the detachment returns from disposing of the orcs and men that attacked your party, I will escort you to Caras Galadon.”
Rían did not hear the hoof beats growing closer; announcing the remainder of her traveling party had reached the trees. All she heard was the warden’s words.
“You saw!” she gasps, then more angrily, “You watched them attack us and did nothing! You sat in the safety of your trees and watched my mother bleeding in the grass!!”
Rían launched herself from the saddle, grabbed a handful of the guardian’s hair and knocked them both to the ground.
The galadhel rolled gracefully to his feet, his arms locked like steel bands around Rían to keep her from hitting him again. So she kicked and stomped any part of the elf she could reach instead.
“That is enough!” he hisses between clenched teeth as her foot connected with his instep.
“Brithon!!” Release her!” A command came from behind them.
Rían almost fell as Brithon practically threw her from him. She was about to renew her attack when her mother’s weak voice reached her.
“Rían, come here, Hênen.”
Hurrying to her parents, Rían watched Brithon and the other wardens take several steps back as Glorfindel bared down on them.
“They will not let us pass,” Rían says, feeling her mother’s hand on her cheek. “We were invited, why do they delay us?”
“It is the way of the Galadhrim,” Thalos answers. “They are too close to evil and they must guard their borders so possessively.”
“But we are elf-kind,” Tears of frustration and confusion glimmered in Rían’s eyes.
“You are so like your father,” Celonë smiles. “No matter the cause you fight with such passion.”
Thalos draws his wife tighter to his chest, his own eyes sparkling with unshed tears.
“We will see Lady Galadriel,” Celonë sighs as if suddenly weary.
Rían looked frantically to her father. Fear began to uncoil itself from the pit of her stomach as she could feel them withdrawing from her. She clutches at their hands, clasping tightly as if to force them to stay with her.
“Come! They will let us pass,” Glorfindel shouts as he hoists Rían onto her horse. For a brief moment, her tall, golden kinsman held her hand in his; reminding her he was with her, before leading the party away.
Rían saw the warden that had stopped her bow his head in apology as they rode past. Obviously the presence of Glorfindel had swayed the arrogant galadhel more than the heartbroken pleas of a mere elfling. Ignoring the guardians, Rían stared straight ahead and followed her family into Caras Galadon.
The small party had been expected. Elves rushed forward to take their mounts as others hurried Celonë to the healers. Rían followed blindly, the beauty of Lothlórien unseen by her. Even when Galadriel arrived, the child’s attention was on her parents. She sat in a corner, out of everyone’s way, her knees pressed to her chin her eyes not moving from the bed where her mother lay.
Briefly, she listened as Glorfindel told Lord Celeborn of the attack but turned her attention back to her mother. She couldn’t see Celonë amongst the healers that surrounded the bed but nonetheless kept her gaze there.
The night was almost gone and Rían had just drifted off to sleep when her father’s anguished cry rent the air. She raced to the bed to find Thalos weeping over his wife.
“Ada.” she whispers in fear.
Celonë laid still, so very still, her skin ashen against the sheets of the bed, her once vibrant blue eyes now void of any life.
Thalos looked up to see Rían standing beside him, her eyes liquid with unshed tears, begging him to explain.
“Rían, I am sorry I am not stronger for you,” he says between sobs. “But you are strong, my daughter, you will be strong enough for us all.”
“Wh-what do you mean?”
It was then the child realized how quiet everyone had become. She looked around, silently beseeching someone to help.
“Rían,” her father whispers taking her hand in his.
“Ada! Your hands are so cold!!” she gasped. Her heart lurched sickeningly as she looked upon her father’s grief stricken face and realized he was fading.
“No!!” she shouts in denial, throwing her arms around his neck. “No, Ada! I will not lose you, too. Saes, stay with me!”
For several long moments father and daughter clung tightly to each other, their heartbroken cries filling the night. Thalos finally disentangles himself from Rían, his hand caressing her dark hair from her eyes.
“One day,” he smiles sadly. “You will understand.”
“Understand what, Ada?” she whispers brokenly.
Rían shakes her head but her father continues. “One day you will find a love as great as your mother’s and mine. A love so wondrous you do not ever want to part. “
“Never!” she hisses through her tears. “Never would I want someone to hold that power over me! Never would I wish that doom on anyone!”
“Oh, daughter of mine, never say never,” he smiles again, but this time much weaker.
Swallowing hard, Thalos calls Glorfindel to his side.
“Care for her, take her back to Imladris to my brother.”
“I will love her and protect her as my own,” Glorfindel vows, his voice tight with emotion.
As Thalos said his farewells, all were unaware of a small audience. A tiny elf sat hidden in the shadows of the hallway, tears streamed silently down his face. He wasn’t sure exactly what was happening but he understood the pretty dark haired elleth had just lost her mother and his own little heart grieved for her.
“Orophin, what are you doing?!” a voice quietly hisses into his ear, causing him to jump.
Seeing that it was only Rúmil, the elfling turned back to the people in the room.
“You will get into trouble for being here,” Rúmil says.
“You’re here now. That means you’ll get into trouble, too,” Orophin answers wiping at his eyes.
“What is going on?” asks Rúmil settling down next to his younger brother.
“Her nana just died.”
Rúmil put an arm around Orophin’s shoulders and pulled him closer, the grief in his own heart still fresh.
They listened as Glorfindel promised to care for the girl, Rúmil understanding that Rían would lose both parents. He felt his throat tighten, remembering.
“What are you two doing out of bed?!!” Both elflings jump at the new voice.
“Haldir, shh!” Rúmil says.
There came an angry shout from the room and all three brothers look toward the source. Rían had tried to latch onto her father as he laid his head on Celonë’s shoulder but was intercepted by Glorfindel. He held her tightly as she cried out her grief and anger.
“You should not be intruding,” Haldir says, turning back to his brothers.
“We’re not,” Rúmil replies. “No one knows we’re here.”
“I do and if you do not get back to bed everyone else will know,” replies Haldir as he gently picks up Orophin.
“But she may need us, she’s an orphan, too,” says the youngest, resting his head on his brother’s chest.
Haldir looked down at his baby brother; his tiny face tear stained, and shook his head. This one! This one was always so sensitive to other’s emotions.
“No, tôren, she has the Balrog slayer to look after her. She will not need us.”
“Maybe,” Orophin whispers before falling asleep.
Looking back into the room once more, Haldir then takes his brothers back to their talan; all three unaware of Lady Galadriel watching them.
After putting his brothers back to bed, Haldir found he couldn’t sleep so he watched Rúmil and Orophin.
The scene they had witnessed earlier had reopened fresh wounds. He could still hear the girl’s cries of grief mingled tightly with anger and confusion. Cries he had heard from his brothers not so long ago.
As he had rushed out to find his missing siblings, Haldir had overheard bits and pieces of what had happened out on the border. How had the attackers gotten so close to Lothlórien? Why did the wardens not send out help?
`When I am march warden that will not happen again,’ he had swore to himself.
His thoughts are momentarily interrupted as Orophin whimpers in his sleep. Kneeling beside the small bed, Haldir gently rubs his youngest brother’s back.
“It is only a dream,” he whispers softly. “You are safe. I will make sure of it.”
Thank Eru he had his brothers! Haldir could not, would not, imagine surviving the loss of their parents alone. He had appointed himself his brothers’ protector even though Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn had taken them into their home. He spent every moment guarding them, caring for them; trying to make up in whatever way he could for the absence of their mother and father.
Haldir was still sitting beside Orophin’s bed, lost in thought, when he heard Lady Galadriel’s voice.
“Here, put her in the room next to the boys,” she said softly.
A single lantern was lit in the small room as Haldir watched the Balrog slayer carry in his young charge and place her gently on the bed.
Glorfindel watched for a few moments, making sure the sleep spell was still holding. When Thalos had died, Rían had lost control. She refused to leave her father’s side then when gently guided away she turned on Lord Celeborn.
Why had his wardens refused their entry?! Why did they sit back and watch? She had demanded in tears. Were elves from Imladris not good enough to enter his precious Wood?!
Celeborn ignored the words, knowing the elfling was beyond any rational thought. He folded his arms around her, held her firmly as she tried to get away, and then began to hum softly to her. Galadriel stood next to them, her hand caressing Rían’s hair as her voice joined her husband’s. Their hearts too grieved at the loss of Celonë and Thalos and for the agony their daughter was experiencing now.
Rían’s heart wrenching sobs began to subside and the exhausted form relaxed into Lord Celeborn’s embrace as the healing sleep took hold. Within moments she was sound asleep.
“Go ahead, Glorfindel,” Galadriel says. “Rían is safe here.”
With a bow of his head and a heavy sigh, Glorfindel turned and left.
A maid placed a pitcher of water and a washcloth beside Galadriel and asked if she needed anything else.
“No, you may go.”
Haldir watched as Lady Galadriel ever so carefully removed the girl’s boots.
“Will you bring me a towel, please Haldir?”
The young elf started, not realizing the Lady had been aware of him watching. He retrieves the towel and stands beside Galadriel as she washes the blood from Rían’s face; black, orc blood. He had heard the hushed whispers of the girl killing the orcs that had attacked her mother and was silently amazed.
“Yes, even elleths can be skilled warriors,” Galadriel says, knowing the boy’s thoughts. “There are even several helping to guard our borders.”
Haldir stared blankly at the towel in his hands, feeling his face grow hot in embarrassment.
Galadriel smiled then took the towel from her young ward. Of course she had known what he had been thinking. He was at that age where elleths began to draw more of his interest but were still thought of as nuisances.
“I believe you two are of the same age,” she continues, speaking to Haldir as she dried Rían’s face. “You killed your first orc last season.”
Galadriel immediately sensed the tension in Haldir. He did not like being compared to a mere elleth!
“She will be here for a little while, Haldir. It may give her some comfort to be around elves her own age,” the lady explains.
There were a few silent moments.
“But she IS returning to Rivendell?” he asks.
Haldir’s relief was evident at Galadriel’s nod. He had his brothers to take care of; he did not want to be burdened with an elleth to baby-sit also!
“If you will excuse me, my lady, I need to make sure my brothers get up on time.”
“Maer dûl, Haldir,” Galadriel says as the boy returns to the room he shared with Rúmil and Orophin.
`Ah, Haldir, you are much too serious for one so young,’ Galadriel sighs, then turns to Rían sensing the same barriers being erected even now around the girl’s heart.
The next morning Rían was awakened by one of Galadriel’s maids and taken to bathe. She was given a clean gown, her hair brushed, and then taken to breakfast. She moved as if in a trance; letting herself be led through the city, barely aware of her surroundings.
She did not remember getting there but she suddenly realized she was standing before a burial mound; her parents’ burial mound. Rían was then aware of Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel standing to one side of her and Glorfindel on the other, his arm around her shoulders holding her close.
Softly at first, then growing with strength, the air filled with the voices of elves as they sang a lament. Rían’s little body shook at the heartbreaking beauty of the song as tears trickled down her face and choked her throat.
Her parents were gone! She felt so alone and thought she would fall to her knees if it were not for Glorfindel and Celeborn on each side of her. She knew not how long she stood there or when the singing had stopped. But the loneliness she felt dissipated as Galadriel placed a kiss on her forehead and saw her own grief mirrored in the lady’s eyes.
Slowly, elves began to leave the clearing and Rían noticed two small boys, brothers obviously, watching her. The youngest had tears streaming down his face as the older tried to be brave but failing miserably. In some part of her mind she knew they, too, had lost their parents and she wanted nothing more than to take that tiny elfling and hold him tight. But it was not to be.
“Rúmil, Orophin, let us go home.”
Rían felt her heart break again as their oldest brother walked up to them. He looked in the direction his brothers were staring, his expression unreadable as he saw the elleth. Though he was still quite young himself, his body language spoke of authority and protectiveness as he took each brother by a hand and led them away. They followed Galadriel and Celeborn leaving Rían alone with Glorfindel to say her own farewells.
Nana – mom
Ada – Dad
Penneth – young one
Melamin – my love
Saes – please
Hênen – my child
Elleth – elf maid
Tôren – my brother
Maer dûl – good night