Rían paused at the bottom of the stairwell and sighed. She closed her eyes for a moment and let the night breeze lift her still damp hair. She was glad to be back in the city, the past couple of days had been hectic to say the least!
She had woke this morning to find her head pillowed on Haldir’s thigh; the Marchwarden, thankfully, still asleep. She laid there for a moment longer, enjoying the feel of his hand on her shoulder before getting up to prepare for the day. Her shoulder had healed and true to Haldir’s word, she was moving through the mellyrn as if second nature. They spent all day travelling through the trees before returning to Caras Galadhon, weary but in good spirits.
Rúmil suggested having a late supper in the garden after they cleaned up so everyone disappeared into their telain. Rían shivered faintly recalling the feel of Haldir’s lips as they had brushed against her ear before leaving her at her door. She had quickly bathed and slipped into a clean dress, wanting to spend as much time as possible with her Marchwarden. *Her Marchwarden* She smiled, liking how that sounded.
What do you do now? she asked herself. Where do you both go from here? Oh, she knew they would have to talk about it…but they were both reluctant and besides, it was hard to have a discussion with his brothers shadowing them!
Just then, Rúmil raced past her and called out, “I am going to pick up our dinner. I will meet you there!”
Rían smiled at his fast retreating form, chuckling softly at his exuberance. He and Orophin had cemented a place in her heart and she could not imagine life without them. She had secretly wanted siblings and was grateful that she now had brothers, albeit having had to wait this long, but she was happy to have them now!
A few moments later, she felt her soul leap and turned to see Haldir descending the stairs. She found herself walking toward him and reached out to place her hand in his when he reached for her.
“I sent Rúmil ahead to gather our dinner,” he said pulling her closer as he tucked her against his body.
“Good. I wanted at least one moment without him hovering and grinning at us.” Rían sighed, breathing in deeply as she wrapped her arms around him. Haldir smelled of soap, fresh grass, and that intriguing scent that was his alone and Rían wanted to remember it until the end of Arda!
Haldir brushed his lips against her hair and closed his eyes, content in the peace of the moment; the warmth of her body against his, the matching tempo of their hearts.
They could have this forever, he thought. But what if –
Suddenly, a sentry rushed toward them. Haldir felt his gut clench as Rían tensed and turned to face the sentry.
“Marchwarden! I bring word of Orophin. There was an attack on his patrol…he was injured.”
Rían grasped tightly to Haldir’s hand as her heart threatened to halt. She felt his fear, his panic and it became her own.
“Where is he?” he demanded.
“He has been taken to the healers. They bid me to bring you and your brother.”
Haldir clenched his jaw and turned to Rían. “I should find Rúmil first.”
“You go. I will get him and bring him to the healers,” she said, feeling her heart pound sickeningly. She placed her hand gently on Haldir’s cheek, the fear in his eyes tearing at her soul.
Go, Beriadiren. [my guardian]
With a curt nod, he turned and raced to the healers’ talan. Rían hurried in the direction Rúmil had earlier, trying not to think the worst but failing miserably.
She stopped when she heard her name called and saw Glennodad running towards her. From his expression, she realized he had heard about Orophin.
“Rían, does Haldir -?”
“He is on his way to the healers. I am looking for Rúmil.”
“Aeglironion has told him and even now is taking him there.”
“Have you heard if -“Rían stopped and placed a hand to her face, willing the tears not to fall.
“No, I have not heard of Orophin’s condition,” Glennodad said, his voice filled with pain, too. Gently, he took Rían’s other hand and waited for her to regain her composure.
Swallowing hard, Rían looked up and saw her friend’s beautiful blue eyes glistening with tears.
“Orophin comes from a long line of stubborn elves,” he said with a smile. “He will not be injured too badly unless Lord Celeborn orders it so.”
Rían grinned slightly at his attempt to ease her worries. Glennodad tilted his head and returned the grin.
“Come. Orophin will be looking for you, too…he will want to know what he has missed!”
Nodding, Rían hurried along with the young elf.
Rían stopped outside the room when she saw Haldir and Rúmil sitting on the edge of the bed. Vaguely, she was aware of Glennodad’s hand at her back, silently supporting her as she took a step inside.
Orophin’s side and shoulder were bandaged and he still had some blood and dirt on him, but he was awake and coherent! Haldir spoke with him quietly, his and Rúmil’s relief plain to see. Rían felt her own tears of gratitude prick her eyes and turned to leave. They were family; she did not need to intrude.
Glennodad’s smile gave way when he realized Rían was going to leave. Should he stop her? Haldir would want her to stay!
“Rían. There you are,” came Orophin’s weak voice.
Quickly swiping at her eyes, Rían took a deep breath and turned back around…right into Haldir.
“Please stay,” he said quietly. “You belong here.”
Glennodad smiled as Rían followed Haldir into the room. He stood aside so she could sit next to Orophin, which she immediately did.
“What trouble have you gotten yourself into now?” she teased, holding his hand.
“You know me…” Orophin smiled.
“Precisely,” she returned the smile and gently brushed his hair from his eyes. “You get better and we will go on another Ru-bear hunt.”
Orophin’s smile grew brighter, realizing Haldir was sharing their stories with her. He looked to Rían then at Haldir and saw how he stood possessively behind her, his hand laying gently at the small of her back. Praise the Valar!!
“Rest, Gwador,”[sworn brother] she said, placing a kiss to his forehead. “Rest well.”
Standing, she watched as Haldir took her place. He resumed his gentle chiding, hiding the fact how worried he had been. Rían silently slipped out to the balcony and made sure she was far enough away from the door so she would not be heard.
Alone now, the tears burst forth. She leaned against the railing, her face upturned to the night as she silently gave thanks for Orophin’s survival. However, the sobs came harder and the pain in her chest almost unbearable as she realized that this, * this * was what she feared! Loving and caring for these elves!! If it hurt this badly with Orophin…it would surely kill her if anything befell Haldir! And what of Haldir? If she met her demise…his brothers needed him, he could * not * leave them!! She did not want to be the reason for breaking up their family.
Wrapping her arms around herself, Rían bowed her head. She wept and prayed for an answer; her only solace, the gentle murmuring of the mellyrn and the whispering of the leaves.
Haldir left Orophin in the healer’s care with Rúmil, Glennodad, and Aeglironion still visiting. He stood just outside the door and watched Rían. He had felt her sobs and it tore through him as easily as a sword. He did not know what to do at first, as his own emotions were still quite tumultuous!
The past two days had drained him! Remembering Rían’s fall from the mallorn still made his stomach clench in dread…then the news Orophin had been injured in the orc attack! Two close calls in as many days!! What was the Valar trying to tell him??
As he watched Rían, he felt his body come afire and it was then he knew.
Rían turned to see Haldir walking toward her. Her breath caught at the predatory look in his eyes, eyes that had darkened to midnight. He pulled her forcefully to him, his large hands twining in her hair to hold her in place as his lips descended to claim hers. Rían clenched a handful of his blonde mane and gasped, opening up to him. She pressed closer until there was no space between them as his lips moved upon hers and she was finally able to taste him.
Haldir growled deep in his chest at Rían’s response and crushed her to his body. He tasted her tears and the faint hint of berries and dipped his tongue deeper. He began to feel them both tremble and they clung more tightly to the other. Rían’s tongue met his own, eagerly dueling with him as they acted on instinct alone.
As their souls tried to crawl into each other, their bodies felt as if on the edge of a precipice. All the two elves knew was they wanted…no, needed, more while their hearts, their souls surged frantically toward their mate.
Suddenly, Rían felt lightning explode behind her eyes and warmth flood throughout her being. She thought she heard herself sob but at the same instant, Haldir released her mouth and gasped against her ear. He held her more tightly if it were possible, their bodies quaking uncontrollably.
After many long moments, Rían looked up and was startled to see tears in Haldir’s eyes. He caressed her face tenderly, his fingertips tracing the path her own tears made.
“Rían,” he said softly, raggedly, her name sounding like a plea.
She saw the question in his eyes, the longing and the hesitancy. She ran her thumb across his bottom lip then kissed him, putting every ounce of love she had into it. Rían parted only when the need for air grew desperate and carefully tucked his mussed braids back behind his ears.
“When we sail…I will bind with you. But know this, Haldir…I am already yours, as you are already mine.”
With a look of absolute joy, the Marchwarden picked her up and swung her around once before settling her back against him.
Aye, I *am* yours, Rían.
And you are mine…my Haldir.