Haldir stood next to the White Lady, who sat on an iron bench, located in a small garden outside of the House of Healing. He had begun to pace, and was slowly creating a worn path in the green grass.
Every so often, Haldir would gaze impatiently through the towering archways of the building, expecting the strange maiden to emerge.
“Be patient, Haldir.” soothed the Lady of Light, after watching him nervously shift his feet several times. “She will come when she recovers.”
“Forgive me, my lady, for doubting you, but will she? Fear remains in my heart as long as I am uncertain.”
Galadriel calmly looked up at the March Warden. “You have a right to doubt me, for sometimes I doubt myself…but there is always hope.” Her gaze slowly left him and was fixed intensely on the House of Healing.
Haldir turned, following her gaze, and stopped. A woman stood serenely at the top of the steps, staring silently at him.
Long black curls gracefully fell about her face and blew about her when a breeze came. Silver light illuminated her face and Haldir could see grey eyes behind her long lashes. Dark hues of midnight blue mixed with turquoise in her dress so discreetly, that he could not tell when one color ended and another began.
After a few moments, Haldir turned to face Galadriel, but found that bench was no longer occupied. She had gone.
Haldir sighed, approached the woman and bowed. He reached, grasped the maiden’s hand, and brushed his lips across her pale skin.
The woman remained wordless but pulled her hand away, took a step back, and glared at him suspiciously.
A smile played across Haldir’s lips. “Does the lady speak?” he asked quizzically. “Am I not to know who I have the pleasure of meeting?”
“I think you should tell me, for it was you who brought me here.” the woman replied stiffly.
“She speaks!” Haldir laughed and bowed again. “I am Haldir, March Warden to the White Lady.”
The maiden looked him up and down before she spoke again. “I am Vanmoriel.”
Haldir studied her and cocked his head. “What race of elf are you, Vanmoriel? You have grey eyes and hair that is black like a starless night.”
Now it was her turn to smile. Her whole body seemed to melt into the shadows cast by the archways. She then appeared behind Haldir.
“An elf of darkness. One of the Avari.” Her fingers touched his silver hair in distaste.
“Where are we, March Warden?” she asked cooly, and began to circle him slowly.
“Caras Galadhon. Home of Lord Celeborn and Galadriel, Lady of Light.” he answered.
“Galadriel?” Vanmoriel stopped. “I heard stories of her long ago. Bewitching everyone in her gaze. Intruding thoughts. Is this true, Master Elf? Are the stories true?” she asked mockingly.
Haldir’s lips changed from a smile to a firm line. “I must ask you not to judge her. I also ask you not to question our hospitality, dark elf, for you have not yet told us where you came from or your business in Lorien.”
“From Fangorn. Certain nuisances have been disrupting the trees and I had reason to believe that they started here. There are whispers of war. Orcs have been coming from the east and cutting down ancient wood that my kin had helped create. The trees spoke to me, asked me to stop the pain. As I left the Northern border, some straggling orcs caught my scent and chased me. Then I sought shelter in the trees that lay before me, and…well, you know the outcome of that.”
“Fangorn?” Haldir asked, suprised. “I thought all elves had deserted those cursed woods.”
“Only one lives there now.” she replied. Vanmoriel went down the steps and began walking away down a cobblestone path adjacent to the small garden.
Haldir followed her and when he had caught up to her, asked, “Why do you believe the evil started here?”
Vanmoriel looked at him, and whispered, “There has been talk of a ring. The ring that has been known to bring destruction. The trees told me that it had recently been here.”
“Well–” Haldir was about to answer but was cut off.
“Haldir!” shouted Rumil, as he drew near to the two. He bowed to each of them and smiled at Vanmoriel.
“I am glad to see that you are doing better, my lady.” He then turned to Haldir, “May I steal her from you, brother? Orophin and a few others want to meet this new dark beauty.” Without waiting for an answer, Rumil led her away from Haldir.
Vanmoriel looked back at the March Warden and her eyes locked with his. She quickly turned her head away and began conversing with Rumil. Haldir could hear him when he loudly began talking of himself.
Haldir shook his head and smiled slightly. His brothers were always trying to impress all of the she-elves.
His gaze followed the two until they were out of sight. Then he slowly made his way back up the path. As he walked he thought ,‘Dark elves…Fangorn…the ring…’. All of these things did not fit together in his mind. There was something suspicious about Vanmoriel, but he averted his mind from the thought, knowing that he would uncover her past soon enough.