Caras Galadhon - 2253, The Second Age
She was kneeling before a statue of Estë in a small alcove, her dark head bowed in prayer, small hands pressed together in reverence. The dark cloak she wore spilled over her slight shoulders, forming a waterfall of moss-colored cloth around her and hiding her size, though he could guess that she was very small - it buried her completely. The words she murmured just under her breath were difficult to catch and what little Rumil could hear, he could not understand. They were, he could only assume, of a language that he was not familiar with nor spoken in these parts. The silence that followed lead him to believe that she was finished and he moved forward to help her as she opened bright green eyes and lifted her head.
"You won't tell," she said softly, "will you, Master Elf?"
Her eyes, which lifted to his face, were wide and bright, ringed thickly with dark lashes and set in a face so pale that the redness that covered her cheeks seemed exaggerated. He took hold of her arm and helped her to her feet, steadying her as her legs trembled. He could feel the warmth that radiated from her hand and, truthfully, the whole of her. It was too much to be healthy, and even as he shook his head and said that no, he would not tell, he was regretting bringing her out of the healing talan. Even for this one, small favor. The hesitant, conspiratory smile she gave him called an answering smile to his features. It was then that he realized that they had not moved a single step.
"Can you not walk, my lady?" A derisive snort was his answer, though it had not come from the young elleth on his arm. Faelwen, for that was her name, allowed her cheeks to flame an even brighter red when her eyes alighted on the source. Her elder sister, Merenwen, stood at the entrance to the small alcove, one eyebrow raised above a bright, emerald eye. Her flaming auburn hair, usually in a state of chaos around her aristocratic features, was pulled away with a ribbon, allowing a clear view of the exasperation that marked the corners of her lips.
"Of course she can't," she stated matter-of-factly. "Would you, if you had descended down three flights of stairs with a nine inch gash in your side?"
Rumil was not a particularly young elf, and his maturity, if not his age, allowed him to walk as an equal among those whose years rivaled his own. But Merenwen carried some quality about her shoulders like a mantle that refused to acknowledge any experience but her own. She consistently managed to make those around her feel like children caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar. This occasion was no different.
"No," he responded with as much dignity as he could muster, "I would not, Mistress Merenwen."
A smile softened her features for an instant, before she turned blazing eyes on the young one who now clung to his arm most tightly, as if letting go would allow her knees to buckle. A glance at her revealed sweat on her brow.
"Perhaps you should sit."
"Yes," Merenwen commented dryly, "Perhaps she should."
Despite the sharp tongue that she had prepared upon her discovery of Faelwen's empty sick bed, the stress at having found the youngest of her four sisters gallivanting about the Elvish city showed on her features. She crossed the space between them easily, on long legs, took the younger one's arm gently and guided her to a bench. Rumil's lips thinned as he noted the blood that had seeped through the fabric of her gown.
"Mistress Merenwen -" he started.
"Yes," she said with a sigh, "I know. "
"It should have healed - it's been long enough."
"You can not simply heal from a wound gained from such a blade, Master Elf." The silence that followed was heavy, thick and uninterrupted save for the occasional shuffle of leaves that originated at his feet. Faelwen was silent, her hands clasped tightly in her lap, large eyes unfocused and unseeing. Her sister could do nothing, lacking the expertise, except to watch as the stain on the white gown bled further and spread to encompass her entire side.
"I don't know what to do," came her hoarse whisper, as she pressed a hand to her younger sister's side, "I don't know how to remove the poison."
"She will die if you don't." He said it as gently as he could, but instead it came out sounding like his eldest brother, uniform and matter of fact. Cold truth, he thought ruefully, rarely came out sounding any different, no matter from whose lips it passed or whose ears it was bestowed upon. "At the very least, let's return her to a healing talan - there she can receive rest and nourishment."
Merenwen was quick to agree with his sentiment, but slower to move her. Faelwen was silent, though the strain of the wound could be seen at the corners of her mouth and eyes. And unless her sister or he called to her or bade her stretch a limb, she remained still and unmoving.
"I have been looking for the two of you all over Caras Galadhon." Two heads turned to greet the latest visitor to the small alcove. The Marchwarden of Lorien stood half beneath the bower, arms crossed over his chest; his disapproving blue eyes first riveted on his younger brother and then on the fiery headed Merenwen. The ellon was an imposing figure; tall, like most elves, with a broad chest and strong shoulders, on which balanced a head made of clean, strong lines. Two blue eyes, icy and clear sat beneath fair eye brows. A wealth of gold colored hair, bound in warrior braids, fell down his back. Even dressed in the muted browns and greens that most wardens wore, he cut an impressive picture, with the unconsciously arrogant tilt of his chin, and the simple yet demanding aura of command.
His eyes returned to his younger brother, "I told you to keep her in her rooms. You were assigned to her not to keep things out, but to keep her in, dear brother."
"'Tis not Rumil's fault, my Lord," Faelwen interceded; her voice seemed to match her frame, small, and ready to be blown away by the weakest wind, "I'm afraid I offered him little choice." Haldir lifted an eyebrow skeptically.
"That I can hardly believe, little one." His eyes once again settled on Rumil, "Fetch a healer, unless you plan on letting her bleed to death before the poison gets her." Redness spread from his neck and colored his face as he nodded his acquiescence, before making his exit. Quick long steps brought Haldir before the two sisters, before he squatted next to Merenwen and pulled her hand, now coated with blood, away from the infected wound.
"You do not help yourself by walking, little one." he began gently, "If you plan to heal that wound you must listen to those experienced enough to help you. You can not go running up and down the levels of the city with no care for your well being."
Faelwen raised her head, finally focusing on his face, and lifted a hand to his cheek.
"I am not so weak, Marchwarden. I will not be poisoned and the wound will heal on its own." He sighed and grasped her fingers, which were cold.
"Not all the world shares your optimism. Tell me; what possessed you to come to the very bottom of Caras Galadhon?"
"She came to pray to one of the Valar. It is an insatiable habit of hers." Merenwen replied, as her face fought between disapproval and a fondness born between siblings.
"And you could not pray in your room?" Her eyes had left his face, her neck now flooded with the red of embarrassment.
"The Lord Amdir told me that there was a likeness to one of Them here, so I came to look for it. I always feel closer when I can see a resemblance." She explained softly. Haldir let out a small sigh, nearly imperceptible, and pinched the bridge of his nose. Faelwen had come to Lorien on her own, riding as hard and fast as she could from the south, in Gondor, to bear a message to her sisters and the Lord of Lorien. None, save the intended, knew what the message was; only that she had, at the beginning of her journey, been caught just north of Sarn Gebir by a company of nine black riders, one of whom had caught her with his blade in her side. It was not the first time that some one had come with such a tale, and most who did often died. That she, so small and frail, had managed to make the full ride, nearing three weeks, with little stops, with out dying or succumbing to fever and infection was a miracle.
"We will have to get you something," he said, rubbing a thumb over her knuckles, "so that you will not always be so tempted. Perhaps a miniature of some sort." The smile that lit her features was quick, but bright. She seemed ready to say something, her lips parted marginally, but then died as Rumil returned, followed by three healers, two of which were bearing a cot. Her lips thinned.
"You can not be serious."
Two weeks. Faelwen had allowed herself to spend a full two, uninterrupted weeks in bed, biding her time as her wound healed. Rumil was often with her, and had spent enough time in her room that she now referred to the chair on the left of her bed as 'Rumil's Chair'. He often brought one or both of his elder brothers, Orophin and Haldir, to keep her company. And of course, the two of her sisters that were in Lorien, Merenwen and Aredhel, were by her side almost constantly. Still, two weeks was too long to go with out walking, or running or riding. She was sure that by now Argol resented her thoroughly for having neglected to bring him a treat for so long. She muffled a yawn and resisted the temptation to stretch. No one had ever mentioned to her how exhausting spending all this time abed would be.
Soon, she thought. Soon she would be out of bed and astride Argol. Soon she would be riding to the Greenwood, where she would be able to set up another healing center. But not soon enough. This time she could not restrain her sigh. Her sisters were all warriors of a sort, and she, as the youngest and the most protected, was relegated to healer and, in many cases, diplomat. When they accompanied Eönwë to Middle Earth, she had not thought that Merenwen would choose to stay behind. And as was the case with many siblings as tightly bound together as they, a decision made for one, especially by the eldest, was made for all. They had become travelers, aiding man, elf and dwarf alike as much as they could against the encroaching darkness. Few had seen it in the beginning, and even less had wanted to. It had happened that even getting an audience with a person that could effect change was difficult. But now, with the sighting of too many evil things in too many places, ears were sharpening. She would have liked success from the beginning. But she had to admit to herself, some success was better than ultimate failure.
"Wool gathering?" Frustrated green eyes lifted to meet serene blue. Haldir stood in the door way, his shoulder leaning against its frame, arms crossed easily over his chest. It was a position, it seemed, that he favored.
"No, just thinking." An amused expression flitted across his features, before settling in his eyes.
"That is what the expression means, dear one." He said, as he crossed into the room and settled himself easily into Rumil's Chair. "How are you feeling?"
"You begin to the sound like the Master Healer." She commented with a sigh, "As if it matters. No matter how I feel, I will stay in this room until he feels that I am recovered. Why bother asking at all?"
"Are not you a healer? You should be able to answer your own question." He pointed out.
"I should also be able to determin when I am fully healed!"
"Your prior behavior contradicts that." Faelwen threw her head back against the pillows, and stared at the ceiling beams, her frustration multiplied three fold.
"May I at least walk around the room?"
"Has the healer given you leave to walk?"
"Then, no. You may not." A hint of a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, as if he were tempted to laugh at her predicament. But he held back, his eyes, ever calm, always on her. After long moments, she sat up with a sigh and pulled her knees to her chest.
"You can not imagine the frustration -"
"I can well imagine."
"But you don't understand the-"
"Faelwen, I have been a warden in these woods for many, many long years. Believe me in this, I understand your frustration at being confined to a bed for an injury. But there is nothing you can do save wait it out." He smiled at her second sigh. "Ah, I have brought something for you."
Faelwen watched interestedly as he reached down beside him, where he had set a small wooden box upon his first entering the room. It was a simple thing, made of beech wood, with an uncomplicated engraving on the top of a tree, on whose branches was strung a banner on which her name was written in the Elvish script. He handed it to her and she took it hesitantly, not at all used to receiving gifts. Inside of it, on a red cushion, lay a small silver band, made for her forefinger. On it was engraved the name of the queen of the Valar in the Elvish tongue, Elbereth.
"I realize it does not bear a likeness to any one of the Valar," he commented, "but it bears their queen's name nonetheless. Perhaps now you will not feel bidden to gallivant about when you are injured."
"'Tis beautiful, Haldir," she breathed softly as she lifted it out of its case and slipped on her finger.
"Yes," he replied, watching her, "it is. Pray, do not lose it." She looked up at him, her green eyes wide and startled, before she shook her head emphatically.
"Of course not. I will treasure it always."
It was dawn. Mist clung to the forest floor, rolling lazily, as if stirred by an invisible hand. Cold dew clung to leaves and grass, passing easily on the cloaks of those moving towards the gates to Caras Galadhon. The morning light filtered in through the leaves weakly and lent everything a pale, other worldly glow. The air was still, as if the world held its breath, waiting for something of import to occur. Seven figures walked easily through the mist, three with horses in tow. Merenwen and Aredhel walked beside the Lord of the Golden Woods, Admir, talking quietly. Behind them trailed Faelwen, with Rumil at her side, and Haldir and Orophin bringing up the rear.
"You three will be safe?" The Lord Admir inquired with concern. Merenwen smiled and bowed her head.
"Of course, my Lord. We travel at an easy pace, are armed and will pass to Imaldris soon, in less than a month's time, where we will meet with the last of our sisters. Elrond has promised a guard from there to the Greenwood. There is little to fear."
Faelwen turned to Rumil abruptly, cutting her sisters' discussion with the Lord out of her mind, and said, quite solemnly, "I shall miss you, Rumil." He laughed, the sound easy and light, and brought her to him for a hug.
"You speak as if we will not meet for an age." She hugged him back, before pulling away.
"Nothing is certain." His grin did not fade. He tilted her chin with his fingers, before placing a brotherly kiss on her forehead.
"But we can certainly plan to meet again. Come, smile for me, penneth. I would have you go with a bright face." The smile that graced her features was not as bright as some he had seen, but bright enough. She turned to Orophin, who also hugged her and placed a kiss on the side of her head, before she turned to the eldest of the three brothers. Haldir held his hand out to her, which she took and allowed him to pull her closer.
"You will be safe." It was not a statement of fact, but a command. "You will take it easily for the first few days and you will not go gallivanting on a well intentioned escapade." His finger tapped the frown between her brows warningly. "I would hate it if you died because you failed to follow instructions."
"My, but that is a sending off." Aredhel commented with a smile.
"She is right," Rumil said with a grin, "A simple 'I will miss you' might have sufficed."
Faelwen ignored their laughter, and instead reached into her cloak from which she pulled out a large silver ring, made for a man's hand. It was made of several thin, intertwining bands of silver metal, which formed curlicues and scrolls, and often broke off into script, all the way around the band. She took Haldir's hand and slipped it on his forefinger..
"The script marks the fourteen names of the Valar, written in High Eldarin. I brought it with me from Valinor. When you hold it up to the light of the stars, the script seems to lift off of the ring and glow. A true work of magic." Haldir seemed stunned, his eyes grown wide and disbelieving as he first looked at the ring, then her, then at the ring again. She beamed happily, pleased by his expression. She had almost not found it, so deep was it buried in her belongings. If she had not considered her four elder sisters her tie to her home in Valinor, the ring would have been it. It was the only remaining material thing that she had of that land. She lifted on her toes, for Haldir was a head taller than her, and placed a kiss on his cheek.
"Will I see you again, Marchwarden?" She asked softly. Still seemingly stunned by the gift, he nodded silently, before swallowing loudly.
"I think we will."
An age and more passed before the two ever crossed paths again. Unbeknownst to Haldir or his brothers, the young one they called Faelwen took sick of her wound. In their own custom and in a fit of despair, her sisters put her into a deep sleep, and sank their youngest beneath the river in a crystal case, hoping that Ulmo and his music would have a healing effect on her weak body. It would not be until the year 2955 of the Third Age, when Ulmo deposited her healed body on the western banks of the Anduin, at the eastern border of Lorien, that the two would renew their friendship.
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.