24. A Royal Offer
Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. The warm autumn days in Lorien were replaced by the cold white winter. It has been nearly three months since the day Haldir lost Calavénë yet again. After the fateful day, Haldir did not cease his search for her. He ventured into Dunland, he visited Lake Town and he searched the Misty Mountains but he could not find her. He even wrote to Legolas, Aragorn and Eomer with hope that Calavénë might be living secretly in their realms. Sadly, all three replied with the same answer, Calavénë was nowhere to be found.
He feared for her. She would have been almost five months along with her pregnancy. She was never with child before and Haldir knew she lacked the experience. The notion of her living alone, fending for herself did not sit well with Haldir. He wanted her by his side, caring for her and their unborn elfling. Haldir was too enraptured by his determination to find her; he had even passed down some of his duties to his gwadeir. Rumil and Orophin knew how important this was to their gwanur. Even Lord Celeborn himself saw to the schedules and duties that were normally Haldir's strong point.
Haldir was relentless. He would ride hard, night and day when he heard some rumour of a golden haired elleth in some distant land. He never gave up hope. He knew she was alive and well somewhere. He needed to find her, to care for her but most especially, he needed her for him. He was lost without her. Haldir had forgotten how to live life. He had forgotten the simple joy of dipping his feet in water or the happiness a full bloomed Nephredil can provide. He needed her. He needed her to live…
Today of all days, he felt despair. Today of all days was the day he wanted her close to him. It was Haldir's one thousand eight hundred and eighty ninth begetting day. He had imagined this day to be spent with his loved ones. But Calavénë was not here and so he did not feel like celebrating. He had spent the entire night finishing a few bottles of miruvor and left for the training fields. Two hours past midnight it was and Haldir could be seen shooting arrows unsuccessfully at the targets. He had grief and regret in his heart. He was broken once again after being whole for a brief moment in time.
Rumil and Orophin had awoken early in the morning. It was Haldir's begetting day and they wanted to celebrate in great fashion. Too long has their gwanur been unhappy and today the both of them will see him smiling. Orophin had commissioned Lorien's best smith to forge a beautiful sword with a golden hilt and beautiful mithril carvings of Nephredils on the blade. Rumil bought Haldir a magnificent elven cloak, aubergine with delicate silver threads forming intricate designs. He wanted Haldir to wear the cloak at his wedding soon.
The both of them walked towards Haldir's talan dressed in their best attire to celebrate the day the brave Marchwarden of Lorien was conceived. They walked happily, kicking the snow on the path. Haldir's talan was now in view and the both of them quickened their steps to reach it. Orophin stopped. The door to Haldir's talan was ajar and the room was dark. He drew his sword and nudged Rumil to take a look. They approached the talan with caution and both were startled when Mebedir walked out from it.
"Mebedir! You startled us! Where is Haldir?" Rumil questioned.
Mebedir shook his head, "I do not know. I came here to deliver his gifts but I found the talan's door ajar and its inhabitant gone."
Orophin left the two to their chatter and he made his way into the talan. It was unkept. There were wilted Nephredils in the vases. Goblets upon goblets of wine lay scattered all over the floor. The windows were ajar, allowing cold air through. The talan looked like no one had lived in it for years. Orophin shook his head. He did not know this was the way Haldir was living. He continued to the bedroom. What he saw shocked him…
Upon the bed were drawings of Calavénë on Mellyrn leaves and on old parchments. There was a book opened precariously in the middle of the bed. Orophin reached out and held the leather bound book in his hand. The rest of the pages were empty save for one page. Orophin read what was written…
That is what I feel without you…
That is what I am without you…
That is what I will be without you…
That is what I want without you…
For life will not be the same,
Without your loving embrace…
Is what I have given you…
Is what I have denied you…
Is not what I wanted for you…
Orophin sighed. He did not know this was how Haldir felt. How lonely it must be to be him right now. Orophin felt guilty for leaving him be when he knew Haldir was not one to reach out for help. He closed the book and walked out to where Rumil and Mebedir stood.
"He is not in here and he is hurting. It is best we find him soon. He is inebriated and worse still, he took his bow and arrows with him," Orophin told the other wardens.
Rumil nodded, "It seems Haldir is at the practice field. Let us head there."
Orophin closed the door of Haldir's talan and made their way to the fields. It has always been the way Haldir chose to express his emotions, at the practice fields. It was the only place he was comfortable being himself, with all the anger, frustrations and sometimes tears.
Legolas rose from bed. It was a fine morning in Mirkwood and after almost thirteen months being on the quest, his royal bed was a welcomed change. He opened the drapes and peered outside. The snow had covered most part of Mirkwood but the golden leaves were still visible. He took the robe hanging from his closet and covered his lithe body. He had been home for almost two months now. It was nice to finally be free among the trees. He was to have an audience with King Thranduil this evening to discuss the opening of a new city in Ithilien. Legolas thought it best to heal the area and make it a safe haven for all on Middle Earth. But first he wanted some breakfast!
Legolas sat near the dining table in his room. He would have breakfast alone today for his father was still on official business with Lord Glorfindel who arrived two days ago to discuss some trade treaties. He has decided not to join them for today he wanted to reacquaint himself to his beloved Mirkwood. Legolas took a piece of fruit and brought it to his mouth. He took the reports left on his table and read it as he ate. After going through a few of them, he found an old letter sent by Haldir to him a few weeks ago.
Haldir had inquired whether Calavénë was in Mirkwood. This came as a surprise to Legolas since Haldir told him Calavénë was in Imladris. Haldir explained briefly that Calavénë has left Lorien and he was looking for her. The reason for her leaving was not stated. Legolas did conduct a search party, searching each talan and hut in Mirkwood but still, there was no Calavénë. Regrettably he wrote back to Haldir reporting his findings.
Legolas found it weird. Haldir was not telling him the whole truth. Something was amiss and he could sense the distress between the lines in his letter. Legolas did ask him of the matter but Haldir never did reply to his letter. Legolas sighed. If indeed Calavénë had ran away, he wanted to know the real truth behind it. Legolas set the letter aside and continued on with his meal.
Arod trotted happily along the market place. The beautiful horse was finally given some time outside the royal stables. Legolas rode his steed, clad in his usual brown tunic and leggings but wore his hair with the royal family braids. The marketplace was bustling with elves and dwarves and he could also see a few Hobbits. He dismounted the steed and approached a stall selling equipment for archery. Legolas has taken a fancy with a bow made from the Mallorn tree. The bow was strong and the string was made with the hair of a Mearas. He ran his hand over the curve of the bow, admiring its beauty. After paying the asked price, he swung the bow on his back and walked further to the stall selling sweet mead.
He bought a small bottle for himself and ordered a barrel which was to be delivered to the palace. Gimli was coming to visit soon and he wanted to surprise his old friend with this fine elven mead. While paying for his purchases, Legolas heard a voice he recognized. He turned his gaze and saw Calavénë! But it could not have been her! This elleth was thin and frail. That was not what surprised him. When the elleth turned, Legolas could clearly see a swollen belly. No! This could not have been the very same Calavénë. Legolas watched the elleth walked away from the market. A gust of wind blew her hood of and her golden hair flowed down her back. Legolas was certain, that was Calavénë. No one else in Mirkwood has hair as golden as the sun. He followed her quietly, wanting to see where she would go.
After almost an hour of tracking her, Legolas could see that she was headed to an old hut, abandoned a few years ago by some humans. Of course, his guards would not have checked this abandoned hut so far away from the city. For all he knows, Calavénë could have been living here in Mirkwood since the letter from Haldir arrived. He watched the elleth sat her things down and entered the hut. He walked closer and peered through a hole in the wall. Calavénë had taken off her robe and there was no mistaking that was definitely her. She was also pregnant. Legolas knew there was something Haldir did not disclose.
Calavénë placed her purchases on a table and took out the bottle of milk she bought. She poured the contents into a pot and heated the milk. Legolas watched as the elleth poured the milk into a tankard and drank the liquid slowly. She looked sickly, frail and thin. What had happened? How did she come to be with a child? Who did this to her? Legolas could not speculate anymore. It was time for the truth!
Calavénë spilled the milk on her gown when the door to her hut was burst opened. Her face was grief stricken when she saw who it was that was standing in the doorway, "Legolas!"
Legolas glowered at his friend. Never did he think she would leave him in the dark this way, "Calavénë… What happened?"
Calavénë placed her hands around her belly protectively, "Legolas… Forgive me for intruding like this on your land. I merely sought refuge…"
Legolas walked closer to her, "Do not change the subject! What happened? Do not lie to me pen dithen. I knew something was amiss. You will tell me or I will personally send you home to Lorien!"
Calavénë closed her eyes. The last thing she wanted was to be sent home, to face all the humiliation that would come to her as an unmarried elleth. She asked Legolas to take a seat and began telling him what had happened in the last three months.
Legolas listened in silence. By the Valar, a lot has happened. Legolas was somewhat certain that some misunderstandings might have caused this huge rift between two of his companions. He watched as tears fell down Calavénë's cheeks. For three months, she had been alone with no one to help her and teach her how to carry a child. Legolas shook his head. He had heard Calavénë's side of the story and now he would write to Haldir to ask of his.
Calavénë soon stopped crying. Legolas knelt down in front of her, "Are you sure Haldir does not love you?"
Calavénë nodded softly, "He did not say it to me… I am assuming that he does not…"
Legolas sighed, "I know Haldir. This does not sound like him. Perhaps, drugging him with sleeping draught was not a wise decision. You might have hindered him from revealing his true feelings for you. So, what now? What becomes of you?"
Calavénë smiled sadly, "Nothing. I cannot return to Lorien where all know me. I am unmarried and with child. There is no such place that will tolerate this. Not even here in Mirkwood. The people have yet to shun me as they do not know whether I am wedded or not."
Legolas stood up, "Haldir is looking for you, Calavénë. He has been searching for you high and low. Tell me why would he be searching for you if there was no love in his heart?"
Calavénë shook her head, "Perhaps he was doing it for the Lady of Light or perhaps my parents. Who knows? But certainly not out of love for me…"
Legolas merely looked on. He would not make any hasty assumptions until he has the chance to speak to Haldir. Legolas held out his hand, "Come…"
Calavénë stood up and walked away, "To where gwanur?"
Legolas smiled, "To the palace. You are a friend of mine and no friend of mine stays in a rundown hut like this."
Calavénë turned around, shaking her head, "I cannot go with you. What will the other think if you brought home an elleth heavy with child?"
Legolas walked closer, "They would think that the Prince of Mirkwood was helping a pregnant elleth who happened to be his dear friend. Come, I will not hear of it. We shall return to my palace and I will send the servants to fetch your things. I have an audience with my father this evening. Might as well introduce you."
Calavénë nodded. Now that Legolas had known she was here, it was best to go with him. At least she will not be as bored alone. She walked slowly behind Legolas until they came upon Arod, who was grazing the snow covered grass. Legolas carefully lifted Calavénë on to the steed and made his way back to his palace.
Thranduil waited impatiently for his son, Legolas to appear. He wanted an audience to discuss the matter of opening a new city. Thranduil hated waiting. He had other things to attend to. Just as he was about to leave the throne room, Legolas entered, panting slightly, "Forgive me, father! I was delayed."
Thranduil glowered at his son, "Do not make it a habit, Legolas. I am not a patient elf. Now what is it you wanted to discuss with me?"
"Before that ada, I have a favour to ask of you. I have met a friend of mine in the market today. Her husband was killed in an orc attack back in Lorien. Would you mind if I gave her a place in our palace?" Legolas asked his ada cautiously.
Thranduil shook his head, "How do you manage to return everyday with a new elleth? Bring her in!"
Calavénë walked in timidly. Thranduil looked much like his soon, only sterner. Legolas stepped forward to introduce her to his father, "Ada this is Calavénë."
Thranduil was quite surprised when the elleth stepped into the throne room. She looked young, her fear felt young and she was with child. This was not the sort of elleth Legolas would bring home to amuse him. He looked at Calavénë and spoke, "Welcome to my kingdom, henn. Since you are a friend of Legolas, then you are a friend of Mirkwood. Enjoy your stay here. Now Legolas. Show her to her room and return with haste. Tell me of your ideas on Ithilien."
Legolas nodded and turned around. He took Calavénë's hand and pulled her away from the throne room. The both of them walked in silence to her new room. Once there Legolas told her to stay put and he would send someone to bring her food and some new clothes. Calavénë nodded and watched as Legolas disappeared behind a corner. She sighed. She did not expect to be discovered after staying in Mirkwood this long. She sat on the bed and her wearied body felt wonderful upon the soft mattress. Her eye lids were heavy and she fell asleep.
Calavénë woke up a few hours later when a servant brought in some food for her. She thanked him and sat up to see what was brought for her. There were some bread, cold meat, fruits and cheeses. All wonderful to her. She took the food and ate hungrily. She was lost in her hunger she did not even notice Legolas standing near the door. Legolas laughed when a piece of cheese became stuck on her chin.
He crossed the room with a few strides and sat down across from her. He reached out and removed the piece of cheese. Calavénë smiled. It has been a long time since their last meeting. She truly did miss him for Legolas understood her. Legolas took a brush from the dresser and moved behind her. He ran the brush through her golden hair as she ate, "Calavénë… tell me… Have you had anyone give you grief because of this?"
Calavénë turned around, "Yes… Some. Once they know I am not married. I have moved around a lot since Rivendell. But I have stayed the longest in Mirkwood. I think the elves in Mirkwood do not go about making other people's business theirs. They did not look much into it…"
He continued to brush her hair, "You will not return to Haldir?"
Calavénë took a deep breath, "No… Despite what you might say, I have yet to hear him tell me he loves me. Even if he does find me and admits his feelings, what about my ada and nana? I have shamed them with my condition. I could never go back…"
Legolas sat down the brush and walked in front of her, "Then I have a proposition for you…"
Calavénë looked at him with a confused expression, "Proposition? What do you mean?"
"Calavénë, you are a noble elleth who just had some unfortunate things happened to. What you need now is a hervenn who would care for you and your child. If you are convinced Haldir does not love you, then marry another…" Legolas explained.
Calavénë laughed, "Marry another? Who? Who would be willing to marry me? Pregnant and unwed? To care for a child that is not his? Even if we are the Firstborn, I do not think there is any ellon on Middle Earth who would be so noble…"
Legolas knelt down before her, taking her hands into his, "I would…"
Calavénë stood up surprised by his words, "Legolas, I think of you not in that way. You are like a gwanur to me. My heart only belongs to Haldir."
Legolas approached her, "I think of you as a gwathel too Calavénë. What I propose is a marriage not bound by the lovers love but by the love of a gwanur and gwathel. I could give you the honour you lost. If I claimed you as my hervess and this child as mine, no one would protest it. I am after all Prince of Mirkwood. I would care for you and your child. That is all."
Calavénë shook her head, "No. What about other things? Only a hervess could provide her hervenn? I cannot give you that."
Legolas laughed, "Calavénë, I am almost three thousand years old. How do you think I have spent my years without a hervess before? Pleasures can be sought without having to truly lie with an elleth. As you can see, we have many agreeable elleth here. As for us, perhaps, we could learn to love each other the way a hervenn and hervess do, in time…"
Calavénë would not hear of it, "No! That will bring you shame. They will say that the prince is unfaithful, having a hervess but seeking pleasure from others. I will not taint the honour of the house of Thranduil. I cannot give you that pleasure…"
Legolas smiled and came closer to her, "I said in time we could learn. True I felt nothing of that kind of love for you now but I could learn. Like this…"
Legolas brought his hand around her neck and pulled her to him. His lips came upon hers, soft and inviting. Calavénë tried to pull away but it has been so long since someone touched her like this. She responded to the kiss, the companionship it brought. Legolas' lips felt soft and she could still taste fruits on it. He felt nothing like Haldir. Haldir's kisses were always with passion and hunger but his was assuring, taking the fear away from her. He pulled her closer to his body, holding her safe near him.
Their little experiment came to a stop when someone cleared his throat. Legolas released Calavénë and was surprised to see his ada standing by the door, "Ada! What are you doing here?"
Thranduil looked at his son and then back to the elleth who was now blushing. Anger rose inside him. Of all the Mirkwood elleth, his son was besotted with a pregnant unwedded elleth? Pregnant with Haldir's child nonetheless! He looked back at his son, "Legolas, I will see you in my chamber now."
Legolas looked on as his father turned around and left. How long was he standing there and how much has he heard? Legolas looked at Calavénë, "Stay here… Think of what I said… I will want an answer soon." He stroked her hair and bent down to kiss her again.
Calavénë closed her eyes as the soft lips caught hers again. She watched as Legolas left the room. Calavénë walked towards the window. Legolas' offer was… tempting. If she does marry him, she would have her honour restored and her child would be fatherless no more. But could she truly learn to love him as she loves Haldir? The kiss they shared was warm and assuring. But she wanted the kisses like those of Haldir's. Tears fell down from her eyes. For many months she has been seeking someone to be kind to her and now when she does find him, she did not know what to do with his kindness…
Haldir fell slumped to the ground. The effects of the Miruvor were still evident. He could not stand straight and shoot the arrows. He had lost count of how many bottles he drank but he was sure it was more than six. He laughed. What a pathetic creature he had become…
Orophin was the one who saw him first. He ran to his gwanur, "Haldir! Are you well?"
Haldir pushed Orophin aside, "Leave me be Fin! I want to be alone."
Orophin sat down in front of him, "No, you are intoxicated. You could do harm to yourself or others. Return home Haldir and rest."
Haldir shook his head, "No… I want to stay here. I want to shoot more arrows, swing my sword. Perhaps I could hit myself and die…"
Rumil came up to them and gave his gwanur a slap across the face, "Pull yourself together! How can you expect him to be a good hervenn and a good father when he could not even take care of himself? Calavénë was right to have left him!"
Haldir stood up. Anger in his eyes and tears as well, "Yes, she was right to leave me! I am pathetic! I could not even express my feelings for her. I could not protect her now. May the Valar forbid it but she could be hurt somewhere and I would not know! Why? Why did she leave? She did not even give me a chance to tell her how I feel… I need her… Could she not see that…"
Orophin placed an arm around his gwanur, "I do not know… But do not lose hope Haldir. The three of us are still here. We will search again and this time we will find her!"
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.