24. Chapter 23 ~ Trust
A/N -Thanks once again to my wonderful beta, Viv. This chapter is dedicated to Binka. I promised her when I killed Haldir in the Prologue I would make it up to her and I hope she can forgive me after this.
Haldir staggered down the path trying to remember to keep one foot in front of the other. He could not recall the last time he had drunk enough wine to feel so affected by it. Hearing soft sobbing, he stopped, swaying slightly. Had he imagined it? Once again, he heard the sobs, now muffled. He carefully walked in the direction until he found Laurëanna sitting on the ground behind some bushes. He looked around for Elrohir before he approached her.
"Laurëanna? What is wrong? Did you and Elrohir argue?" he asked softly, not wanting to startle her.
Quickly she wiped her face and shook her head. "No. He and I are wonderful. I am well. Nothing is…" Her voice caught in her throat before she continued. "Nothing is wrong."
"I do not know you well, but I would have to be blind to not see that something is troubling you." Haldir sat beside her and smiled gently. "Do you wish to speak of it with me, or should I go find your husband for you?"
Laurëanna was silent for a long time as she looked hard at the ground. Haldir waited patiently. Finally she shook her head. "No, I do not think I should see Elrohir now. He will want to know why I am so upset, and I cannot tell him yet. It is bad enough I know."
Haldir furrowed his brow in confusion. Gently he took her hand. "Sometimes it is easier to talk to a stranger than to someone you love. I know I am not quite a stranger to you but very close to being one."
"I should not have looked. I should have told Lady Galadriel that I did not wish to see," Laurëanna said with a sob. "Why would anyone want to know the bad things that are about to happen to her or her loved ones? So she can worry each night about stopping that future?"
"Ah. I understand now. You looked into Lady Galadriel's Mirror and saw something horrible." Haldir nodded sympathically. "Would it make you feel better to know that I too looked recently and I saw myself die in a horrible attack on these woods? The Golden Woods burned all around me as I was shot by a poisoned orc arrow. It was quite troubling to think of Lothlorien being burned down."
Laurëanna glanced over in surprise. "You saw Lothlorien burning? And it did not, so perhaps I can stop what I saw from happening too!"
"Well…" Haldir paused. "I am not certain you can stop these things or if it is in Eru's power alone. You must place your faith in him."
"I always have, but…I am afraid that is not enough this time. Things happen according to His plan I know, but I worry that this is a test of my strength. I am not strong enough to endure it if all this comes to pass." Laurëanna began crying again, pulling her knees up and laying her forehead on them.
Haldir heard a noise behind him and turned to see Elrohir materializing from the darkness itself looking very worried. Giving his friend a signal to wait, Haldir turned back to Laurëanna. "Part of your strength will come from Elrohir now. That bond will be enough to weather any storm. You must tell him what troubles you and let him help you through this."
After a few moments of listening to her sob quietly, Haldir whispered so only she could hear, "Are you ready to tell him? He is here now and very concerned about you. You must trust in him and allow him to help you."
Nodding her head, Laurëanna looked up and said, "Thank you. Rumil was right about how wise you are."
"Rumil said I was wise? That is a surprise!" Haldir laughed.
Realizing she had slipped again, Laurëanna just smiled and replied, "I think it was Rumil but maybe I am confusing myself."
Haldir rose and bowed to her, placing a light kiss on her hand before releasing it. "I will leave you two. I wish you a wonderful night. I think I will rejoin the festivities rather than retiring so soon."
Elrohir nodded to Haldir as he walked by and waited for his wife to look up at him. When she finally did he saw the heartache in her eyes and wondered if just this once, she would share her secrets with him instead of pushing him away. He sat down beside her and pulled her into his arms.
"I will not push you to tell me what you saw, but know that I am your husband and should be the one to comfort you. When you are weak, you can rely on my strength. We will always be stronger together than apart, Laurëanna. I wish you realized that as I have."
She sniffled a bit before sitting up and looking at him. Her face still showed that she was conflicted, and he reached out to caress her cheek, wiping away the tears.
"I saw…oh Elrohir it was horrible. I saw three children that must be ours. At least I am fairly certain the boy with the golden hair was our son as well as the other two who called you Ada. There was also an elleth with a baby, and they seemed to be Elladan's wife and child. Then we were all standing near two graves, and those children were not there with us. Elladan and his child were devastated. And you looked so…empty and heartbroken. I have never seen you look that way, even in…I mean, even when things were at their worst. I do not want to have children only to lose them."
Elrohir sat dumbfounded for a few minutes. "Three children? But only two graves? Why would Elladan be more devastated than I? And…Laurëanna, there is a chance that it was not our children in those graves. We cannot assume that."
"I know it was frightening to see what you saw, but you have had visions before that have been wrong. Like the attack on the Corsair ships; remember you told Aragorn not to go, and if he had not, we would not have been able to defeat Sauron's forces on Pelennor Fields. My love, even my grandmother would warn you against living your life by your visions as if your actions do not affect them. We do not know what the future holds. The children were not in the vision, but that does not mean those were their graves." Elrohir rubbed her back and watched her trying to accept what he had said. He did not know how to feel, but he knew that many had seen things in the mirror that had not come to pass, including himself and Elladan losing a skirmish with orcs on the mountain passes on one occasion.
A small smile pulled at the corners of her mouth, to his surprise. "We are going to have at least two children. And they are beautiful Elrohir. Never have I seen anything so beautiful as those two elflings."
"Of course they are beautiful. They take after their father." Elrohir smirked and pulled her into his arms. "Thank you for trusting me and not pushing me away. We are meant to face our problems as one, not two alone."
"I know…I wish I could tell you everything about my past," Laurëanna said. "I promise you that one day you will know all, and I will not keep secrets from you about our present and future. But you must trust me about the past. In time you will understand."
Elrohir nodded and, standing up, held out his hand to help her up. "If you do not feel like rejoining the party, we could go for a walk."
"I prefer a nice quiet stroll to the party, I think." She wrapped her arm around his securely. Elrohir felt a sense of triumph that she trusted and confided in him. Hopefully her days of hiding things were coming to an end.
"My love, come to bed," Celeborn called from where he was already comfortably tucked into bed.
After the party, he had found his wife sitting alone by her mirror. She had told him what had happened with Laurëanna and Elrohir, and he could see the devastation on her face so he brought her to their room for some privacy and rest.
Galadriel stood, her back to Celeborn, looking off into the distance. "I should not have pushed her. She was not ready to see." Sighing, she turned to her husband. "I was not ready either."
"You know that the things she saw may not come to pass. Often they do not," Celeborn replied.
"To lose a child would devastate Elrohir and Laurëanna. And Elladan…to finally love only to lose…it would crush his spirit." Galadriel looked up and blinked away the tears accumulating in her eyes as she sat down on the end of the bed, but eventually a sob escaped, followed by tears spilling down her face. Lowering her head, she covered her face with her hands as if to shield him from her perceived weakness. Celeborn moved to her and wrapped his arms tightly around her.
It had been ages since he had seen her shed a tear. The last time had been over Arwen's decision to become Mortal and before that it had been her daughter's pain. To all of the world she was a strong, wise, and powerful leader of their people. But with him, she could allow her few weaknesses to show. She had seen many things come to ruin in her long life, and often news had come to her telling of the death of loved ones, but her face had never once betrayed her emotions to outsiders. Many had thought she was incapable of showing emotions and considered her cold and distant.
As a leader of elves, Galadriel knew she was, as all of the House of Finwë had been, a pillar of strength. Even King Thranduil had once accused her of being unsympathetic because she made her decisions based on what was the greater good, even if one person had to suffer. But she did feel pain as well as guilt for these decisions. Especially when it came to Celebrian and her children, Galadriel felt the pain as strongly as any other. Still, it was rare for anyone outside her own family to see these displays of emotions. To be a leader meant that her feelings came last, and she knew that. The mask of coldness and indifference did not come to her as easily as it once had; more proof to her that it was time to sail home.
"I will watch over them. I promise you. When you sail, I will go to Imladris until I re-join you. I will do all that is in my power to protect them," Celeborn reassured her.
Galadriel nodded and he kissed away the tears. "I am tired of knowing of things that I cannot stop. I feel so helpless."
Celeborn chuckled. "You are never helpless, Artanis." But he sensed his wife's weariness of fëa.
Soon she would return to Valinor, and he would be alone. He could not imagine a day without her beside him, but he did not wish to leave while Arwen and the twins remained. He knew the twins would delay their choice as long as Arwen lived in Middle-earth. Once she was gone… He shuddered to think of that day, but he felt certain that would be the day when Elladan and Elrohir would make their choices to join him in sailing to the Undying Lands or to remain and become mortal. Hopefully, marrying Laurëanna would encourage Elrohir to choose the life of the Eldar, and Elladan would follow his brother. Celeborn had no desire to return to Aman and have to explain to his wife and daughter why he had come alone.
For the next several days, Laurëanna made every attempt to avoid Lady Galadriel without being outwardly rude. When Haldir and his brothers invited them on a hunt that would take them away from Lothlorien for two or three days, she pushed Elrohir into the two of them joining along with Elladan. It was on this trip that she finally got to spend a lot of time with Rumil. He seemed so different to her, more carefree than she had known him to be in Aman.
When they returned to Lothlorien, they were greeted by Airemír. Laurëanna grew very confused because she knew she had been close to Airemír in Aman, yet she could not remember anything about her. Airemír brought a message from Lady Galadriel for Laurëanna, asking her to join her for tea when she returned and had time to rest. Knowing that there was no way she could possibly refuse, Laurëanna nodded and went to get ready, leaving Airemír talking with her husband, Elladan, and the three Lórien brothers. She could not help but notice how Elladan paid a lot of attention to Airemír and she to him.
After washing up and changing clothes, Laurëanna reluctantly went to see Galadriel. Two ellith ushered her into Galadriel's rooms, before leaving her alone with the Lady.
"I am glad you returned today. I was beginning to worry you would go back to Imladris in order to avoid me," Galadriel said, a gentle smile on her face. "Do not be frightened, my dear. If you do not wish to speak of what you saw, what I saw as well, we do not have to. However, many have called me wise, and perhaps I would be able to advise you. If you wish, of course."
Laurëanna was silent, studying her hands intently, as Galadriel poured both of them some tea and sat back, sipping quietly.
"In Rohan, you asked me to trust you even though I did not know you. And I did. All I ask is you trust me as well." Galadriel reached over and took her hand.
When Laurëanna looked into her eyes, she could remember all of the times she had come to Lady Galadriel for both love and advice. The bond they had once shared was so strong, and now all she wanted to do was pour out her heart and soul to the Lady as she had done so many times. She could not speak of their past -- she had made a vow to the Valar -- but the vision in the mirror was not about her past, and she had chosen to share it with Elrohir for that same reason. Why could she not do the same for Lady Galadriel? To show her that she trusted her in return.
"Will it come true?" she asked at last. "Will my children die?"
"I do not know. The mirror shows things that may happen, but often times, we change our future without realizing it," Galadriel explained.
"If we choose not to have children, then I will change the future and we will not have to mourn them."
"Yet some would say that it is worth the risk. Would you wish that you had not loved Elrohir if you had lost him in the War of the Ring?"
Laurëanna shook her head. "That is different. He was already alive. But to choose to bring to life three children, knowing they will die, is…"
"As we have said before though, you do not know they will die. You saw two graves, and you know that in your future you will lose someone close to you, but you do not know whom. I do not think you and Elrohir should decide not to have children to prevent yourself from possibly losing them. We all take that risk making the decision to create another life," Galadriel said with a faint smile. "I have watched my daughter have great happiness and great pain, but I do not regret her life, nor do I think it was a mistake. If someone had told me what would happen long before it did, I do not know that I would not have made the same decision."
Laurëanna chewed her lip and thought about what Galadriel was saying. She wanted a child and knew Elrohir did as well. She could not imagine not having one, but she was scared, scared to lose a part of her.
"It is all right to be frightened. Making a decision to have a child is always difficult in these times. You hope that the peace will last long enough that your child will not see the same evil you have." Galadriel reached over and brushed back her hair. In an unexpected moment, she hugged her, and Laurëanna felt safe and secure.
The time they remained in Lothlorien flew by, and when they left, Laurëanna felt like it had become a second home to her. Galadriel was once more the wise confidant she had known in Valinor. However, the most distressing problem for Laurëanna was not being able to discuss with her the fact that she was losing part of her memory. Each day it seemed like one more thing was slipping away. And the worst part was the fact that she could no longer tell which was her real past and which was the story she had been told to use in Middle-earth. She could remember her real parents, but she also remembered another mother and father just as much. It was confusing and she did not trust herself at times to not let something slip out.
One wonderful thing had happened in Lothlórien, much to everyone's surprise. Elladan had fallen in love with Airemír, and they had agreed to marry. Laurëanna realized that it must have been Airemír that she saw with Elladan when she looked in the mirror and wondered what it meant for their future as well. She was returning to Imladris with the three of them. Her sister had originally planned to join them but began courting Haldir and, therefore after a short delay, she decided to remain behind.
During one of the times when Laurëanna was battling her confusion, Elrohir had approached her once again about visiting Eryn Lasgalen before returning to Imladris. Without thinking, she had agreed. Once she had agreed she saw no way to convince him to not go straight home until their final days as they were preparing to depart. A messenger arrived from Imladris the day before they left to let them know that Glorfindel and Indil had returned.
"I want to go back to see our guests. After all, they traveled all that way to see us, we should return," Laurëanna insisted.
"I agree. Although I would not mind visiting King Thranduil and Legolas, I would rather go home. I wish to have father bless our union so he will see at least one of his sons getting married." Elladan winked at Laurëanna before pulling Airemír into his arms.
"Are you certain?" Elrohir asked her.
"Yes, most definitely."
Saying their farewells at last, they began the long journey home.
"I would like to welcome our guests and toast the union of Lord Glorfindel and Lady Indil as well as that of my son Elladan and his bride Airemír. 'Tis a joyous day in Imladris when we are graced with such happy tidings. May the Valar bless both of their unions." Elrond held up his glass, and the others at the table toasted the two couples.
Laurëanna watched her parents over the rim of her glass and smiled. Her mother literally glowed with happiness, and she had never seen her father look more in love than he did now. Airemír and Elladan were nestled into each other's arms as they listened intently to something Erestor was saying.
"What are you thinking about?" Elrohir asked her, and she glanced at him with a smile.
"Since we were joined, so many of our friends and loved ones have found love. Arwen and Aragorn married soon after us, then Éowyn and Faramir sent word a few moons later. Your father said that Eomer is betrothed now. Glorfindel and Indil are to be wed in spring. Even Elladan has found someone to overlook all his flaws and marry him!" Elrohir laughed with her before she continued, "I am merely hoping all of this happiness will last."
Elrohir's expression grew stormy for a moment before he tried to cover it with a smile.
"What is it Elrohir?"
"Nothing. Now is not the time to dwell on fears that may never come to pass. It is time to celebrate." Standing up he pulled his wife up beside him and after a quick kiss he drew her to where the dancing had already begun.
Elrond watched his sons closely, his heart filled with joy. Now that both of his sons loved one of the Eldar, certainly they would make the choice to join him and their mother in the Undying Lands rather than choose to be mortal. Watching Laurëanna laughing, he saw a glimpse of what was to come. He had known before Galadriel had asked her to look in the mirror what would become of their oldest son, if things did not change. He had hoped that sending Laurëanna to see Galadriel would allow her a chance to hopefully prepare herself for it. He berated himself for not having the courage to tell Elrohir himself, but he knew his son too well. Elrohir would make the decision to not have children at all if he knew their fate and would never tell Laurëanna why he had changed his mind. Losing his first-born son was a curse Elrohir would have to bear in order to have the strength to help Elladan through the death of his wife.
Airemír laughed, and the sound carried over the crowd to Elrond. It felt like it pierced his heart directly. Despite Glorfindel's words of comfort to him when he had sought out his advice, Elrond could not help but feel like he was betraying both of his sons by not telling them of their fate.
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