14. Things Get Complicated
“It isn’t what one would expect of them, is it?”
“No.” He responded in a monosyllable tone.
“Lord Celeborn suggested you could sleep here on this level and I could use the sleeping loft up there.”
His eyes followed her gesture and widened as he understood her meaning and returned to stare at her in disbelief.”
“My feelings exactly. To occupy their bed is not an option. I will sleep here also. There are more then enough divans and pillows, that a comfortable bed for each of us will not be a problem.”
“I will arrange a place down on the ground.” He muttered awkwardly.
“I am afraid that will not be possible, Haldir, Lord Celeborn made it quite clear that we were expected to use all of the retreat and should either one of us fail to observe the spirit of their instructions, I have no doubt they would know and take what they consider appropriate action.”
He sat down on one of the low divans and studied her before answering reluctantly. “I agree. Their instructions are not to be taken lightly. What do you suggest we do?”
Nurael turned in a circle studying the room, then pausing she stood with her hands on her hips and chewed her bottom lip as she sorted through several possibilities. Returning her attention to the March Warden she pointed over to the far end of the talan beyond the balcony opening.
“If we reposition that drape we can divide off that narrow end for one of us. I believe I noticed a standing screen of woven willows on the storage level that we could use to do the same here near the entry. If it is not large enough we can build additional ones from the willows just outside the main compound. With a little rearranging of the rest of the furniture we should be quite comfortable.”
He considered her suggestions and nodded. “It is a good solution. We often build such screens for the patrol talans to deflect wind or provide more cover when needed.”
“Then let us get busy. I would like to get everything arranged so we can get a good night’s rest. If there is time afterwards, we can begin to discuss what actions we will be taking in the next few days.”
Haldir soon found himself taking orders from Nurael about how and where she wanted things placed. At first he felt a low simmering anger at being ordered about by her doing such chores. Then suddenly he found himself grinning as he imagined his brothers’ reaction at his participating willingly in what they had always referred to as ellyth nesting activities.
Nurael noticed the change in his mood but said nothing. She was so relieved at his willingness to cooperate she was reluctant to do anything that could change it. When all was completed they both looked at the results and grinned at each other.
Nurael looked away suddenly. “It will do quite nicely now, I think.”
Haldir cleared his throat, “I believe it will at that. You can take the far corner behind the drape and I will take the one here by the entrance. I will be able to stop any intruders quickly if necessary.”
“Still insisting on being responsible for others, Haldir?” She laughed softly.
“It is alright March Warden, A life time of habit and training are never easy to change.”
“You intend to try?” Came the suspicious reply.
“No, just adjust a little part of it.” Nurael smiled. “Perhaps now is as good a time as any to get started.”
“I am listening.” Haldir stood with his arms crossed and his feet firmly planted on the floor, a mulish look on his face.
Nurael sighed, “Haldir, I am not your enemy, I told you we will talk about each step so that you understand and feel comfortable and cooperate of your own free will. I can do nothing if you insist on being stubborn.”
He suddenly deflated, “I know, I just….”
Nurael crossed to him and placed a hand on his arm. “Surrendering control to someone else is never easy. You have carried this load for a very long time. Lay it aside for a while. You will pick it up again soon enough.”
“How can you be so sure?” He asked forlornly.
“If there is one thing I am sure of, it is you will do so. I dare not fail you.” She grinned at him cheekily. “The March Warden of the Golden Woods would have me banished to Mirkwood or somewhere equally grim.”
He found himself smiling back at her briefly before he again assumed his usual stern visage. “Very well, what do you propose?”
“First let us sit down and eat our meal. We can talk as we eat.” Nurael gestured towards the table out on the balcony that was spread with a selection of fruit and sweet breads and a tall ewer of wine.
There was a period of silence as they dug in to the various delicacies. The wine was a rare delicate vintage neither had ever tasted before and both soon had consumed more then usual. Haldir found him self truly relaxed for the first time in years. Settling back he studied his companion and watched with fascination as she licked the juice of a peach from her fingers before wiping them on a napkin.
“Nurael, what made you decide to train as a healer? Has there been no ellon that captured your interest?”
She carefully folded the napkin and placed it on the table, before looking at him “What made you train and become a warrior? Why not a scholar, or metal smith?”
He frowned, “I never wanted to do anything else.”
“Has there never been an elleth that captured your interest?”
“There have been several.”
“But none that made you consider bonding.”
“No. What about you?”
She shrugged. “I have always wanted to be a healer. Even when I was very small I was tending to small birds and other animals. There was even a time or two I patched up one of your brothers because we dared not go back to Master Maenested again too soon after a previous incident.”
“No one you cared for? No lovers?”
“There is one I care for a great deal, but he does not return my affection. He considers me far too young and I have chosen not to seek others.”
“Does he know that you will be serving on the fences?”
“And he still considers you too young?”
“It makes no difference Haldir, he does not return my affection. I learned a long time ago few ellyn are intelligent enough to either see or appreciate what is right in front of them. They live for the present and only short relationships that will provide physical pleasure. You cannot force a relationship if one does not feel the same way you do and it is useless to try.”
“You sound bitter.”
“Do I? I am not, only realistic. I understand that for most, especially the warriors, that it is difficult for them to think or plan beyond the present facing death on a more consistent basis as they do.”
“He is a warrior then?”
“How have you learned all of this? The warriors of Imladris do not face the constant battles we do.”
“Do not judge them short, Haldir. Their battles are of a different sort.”
“Yet you choose to leave your lover and come to Lothlorien.”
“I left no one there. He is not my lover and is not likely to ever be. I do not believe he will ever bond with any ellon. In any event the need for my skill was greater here then at Imladris where there are many healers available.”
She studied him as he stare into his empty wine glass. “You have not asked Master Maenested about me or my training, have you?”
He leaned forward and poured them both another glass of the wine. “I will admit it was not something I worried about. If he was satisfied with your qualifications I saw no need to question them.”
She bristled. “I was one of the traveling healers in Imladris for the past forty-five years. I also traveled among the Dunedine rangers and with Lords Elrohir and Elladan on their patrols as healer as well. Lord Glorfindel trained me in the use of sword and bow and I can protect myself quite well, thank you.”
Surprised, he leaned back and studied her flushed face. “You traveled with Lord Elrond’s hin on patrol against the yrch?”
“Yes, and I have fought along side them as well. They, at least respect my abilities. There are warriors who are still fighting and a few less yrch that will threaten our people because of me.”
“My apologies, Mistress. I meant no insult.”
“No you never do, do you.” She rose from the table abruptly.
“We will begin in the morning. I find that I am more fatigued then I thought. Good night. March Warden.” With that she left him staring after her as she went behind the drape pulling it across her alcove.
Haldir continued to stare at the drape until finally he too rose and sought his couch behind the willow screens.
Nurael lay there for most of the night dry-eyed tossing and turning. She had no tears left to shed. How dare he question her about her love life and worse yet, why had she even answered? Finally deciding if any wine remained, it might help her sleep she slipped from the couch. Peering around the drape she saw no sign of Haldir and braved the short distance to the balcony.
She sighed quietly in relief. The ewer was still half full. Carefully filling her glass she leaned against the railing and savored the sweet sent of the roses and raised her face to gaze at the stars that spangled across the midnight blue velvet of the night sky.
“You cannot sleep either, Healer?”
She nearly dropped the glass as she jerked around at the sound of the deep arrogant voice. Haldir stood there lazily leaning against the doorway, an arm folded across his bare chest and holding a glass of wine in a relaxed grip. His eyes glittered an ice blue in the blackness. The night breeze tugged at the golden lengths of his unbound hair.
Nurael was suddenly very much aware that she wore the sheerest of nightdresses, and cursed silently. In her most casual voice she responded disinterestedly. “No, March Warden, I suppose it is being in a strange place.”
She turned back to the railing and gripped it with her free hand. She would not let him see her unease. Haldir moved up behind her. She heard him set down his glass. “Nurael, I am sorry. I find it difficult to understand ellyth. I have few serious discussions with them. I find it much easier to maintain a distance from them. That way they are less likely to take my attention seriously and do not get hurt.”
She forced herself to remain relaxed even as she felt the warmth of his body heat behind her. When he placed his hands on her arms and turned her around to face him, she whimpered and closed her eyes before he could look into hers. She knew he would see what she had managed to keep so carefully hidden for all those years.
“Nurael?” he said softly.
She swallowed hard and cautiously opened her eyes only to wish she had not. He found himself staring into deep wells of green and gold pulsing fire. Fascinated he watched as they changed from green to gold back to green. With out thinking he drew her close to him and with one hand relieved her of her wine, setting the glass next to his. Tracing her lower lip with his thumb, he lowered his head and took her lips in a tender, soul-shattering kiss. With a moan she opened her mouth letting his tongue plundered her. As she melted against him his hands moved over her shoulders and then lower caressing her hips before cupping her bottom and pulling her tight against him. She gasped as she felt his heated arousal against her belly and dropped her head back as he placed hot kisses against her throat and shoulders.
“Nurael,” He spoke softly, enticingly, pleadingly, “Let me love you. You want to. I need your warmth. Fill my emptiness.”
Nurael felt herself longing to surrender to that compelling voice that promised her everything she had ever wanted. Panting, she pushed back and gasped as his lips tenderly suckled first one tender bud then the other. Fighting her longing, she fought loose from his hold.
“No, Haldir, this cannot happen. I will not be just another casual mating for you.”
“If he does not love you, will you spend the rest of eternity without the comfort of passion then, Healer? Will you not lose yourself in another’s sweet attentions?”
“You have no concept of real passion or true love making, do you March Warden?” she spat at him. “ I would rather never know any physical pleasures at all then do so with a lesser mindless substitute.” At that she spun away from him, flew down the stairs and out through the glade beyond the fence and beyond his sight.
Cursing, he quickly armed himself with a knife shoved in his belt and grabbed his quiver and bow then followed her out into the night. “Elleth are so brainless, she goes out without proper clothes or weapons. It would serve her right if she ran into trouble.”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.