30. Apple of My Eyes
Haldir watched as his little prince walked towards Thand who came bearing fruits and nuts. Dressed in a blue miniature tunic and leggings, Mallen Maethor waddled at a dangerous pace to his grandfather, "Grandfather! I see you!"
Thand laughed and picked up the little toddler who was now speaking like no tomorrow and was walking here and there much to Haldir's dismay, "I see you too pen dithen! Here I have something for you." Thand lifted the basket and showed the little elfling the raspberries and almonds he had bought from the market place.
Mallen Maethor giggled happily and dove into the basket. Thand was caught off guard and lost grip of the basket. Haldir was a lot faster. He jumped off the seat and caught the handle just before it hit the ground. Haldir shook his head and wiggled a finger to the giggling elfling, "Mallen Maethor! How many times do I have to tell you not to attack your grandfather?"
Haldir sat the basket down and watched as his son gobbled on a ripe raspberry, "I did *nom nom* not *nom nom* ada! Grandfather said *nom nom nom* he had gifts!"
Haldir knelt down beside his ion, "Gifts are to be given to you. Did your grandfather say you could eat the fruits?"
Mallen Maethor stopped chewing immediately. He looked at his grandfather and then back to Haldir, "No..."
Haldir watched as the pink stained elfling climbed out of the basket and walked towards Thand, holding the half-eaten raspberry in his hand, "Forgive me, grandfather... Here..."
Thand could not hold it any longer. Laughter erupted from the elder elf as he watched his grandson pout and returned the raspberry. He lifted the little golden warrior in his arms, "No matter Mae. I did bring those fruits for you. You just caught me off guard."
Mae looked at Haldir who was still cross, "But ada is still angry with me... Look at him... There, between his eyes, I can see the crack..."
Haldir's eyes widened in surprise and then he too broke into a hysterical fit, "Crack? You call my frown a crack? You mischievous little warrior! Come here!"
Haldir took Mae in his arms as the little elfling laughed and giggled. He spun his ion around before settling him near the nook of his neck. He held Mae for a long time. He did not notice how long, at least not until Mae pulled his ear, "Ada! Are you not listening? I want to go down!"
Thand laughed and took the little child from Haldir and placed him in his cot where his trusty toys waited for him, "I see so much of you in him, Haldir."
Haldir turned and looked at his ion, "No... I see a lot of Calavénë in him. I miss her but with him around, the pain has lessened. What brings you hear ada?"
Thand sat down on the chair in the living room, "I came to talk to you about tomorrow. All the preparations are ready. I was wondering what time should we start?"
Haldir too settled his body down, "Perhaps two hours past noon? I want the morning for myself, to spend with him. There are things I want to tell him... I want to take him to her grave..."
It was bittersweet. Tomorrow would be Mallen Maethor's first begetting and it also marked the first anniversary of Calavénë's death. The begetting celebrations were well on the way for Haldir did not want his ion to feel the sadness of losing his naneth. But, he would take him to visit her. Tell him about her and answer all the questions he had.
Thand nodded. It was definitely a sweet sorrow for him. His and Laugoneth's pain had slowly healed as they watched her ion grew up. Almost immediately after her funeral, Haldir went back to protecting the borders. He was out of town for four days out of the seven, so Mae spent them with his grandparents. Thand had never forgotten to tell Mae about his wonderful naneth. He told him of her smile and her voice. Thand even showed Mae a drawing of Calavénë which Haldir had drew many months before.
Haldir had invited most of his friends to the celebrations. Legolas was to attend with his betrothed. Gimli and the little Hobbits as well. Aragorn and Arwen too promised to come and meet his ion. It was a celebration of special magnificence. Tomorrow will mark the first year of Mallen Maethor's life on Arda. But tomorrow would be a sad day for Haldir. He would have to relive the day everyday for the rest of his life on Middle Earth. The day he lost her... The day he witnessed her fea leaving her body...
Thand's calls broke his reverie. He turned towards him and smiled, "Forgive me ada. My mind was elsewhere..."
Thand shook his head, "It has been a year Haldir. The pain has lessened for all of us, yet I still see the same sadness in your eyes. She would not want you to punish yourself like this pen vuin."
Haldir stood up with eyes fixed on the Niphredil in the vase before him, "It is not a punishment ada. I fear that if I let go of this pain, I will forget her. I cannot... She meant everything to me... She had given me the greatest gift anyone could imagine. Every time I would look upon Mallen Maethor, I am reminded of how I failed her and our ion..."
Thand approached him, "I have said all I could to help ease your pain. But being the stubborn ellon you are... I would pray to Eru that one day you will find the peace you seek. Now I must take my leave. I still have to find a gift for my grandson."
At the sound of the word, Mae stood up in his cot, "Gifts? More gifts?"
Haldir laughed and picked up his son, "Yes... More gifts but tomorrow. You know what tomorrow is, do you not?"
Mae nodded eagerly, "Yes! Tis my... betting... beget..."
Haldir shook his head and chuckled, "Begetting day meleth..."
Mae played with the toy he was holding, "Yes... that... and also nana's dead day..."
Haldir froze. How did he know? Haldir had not discussed the matter with his ion as of yet, "Nana's dead day? Why do you say that dithen cugu?"
Mae looked at his ada, "You told me, nana died giving birth to me... Correct? So if I was born tomorrow, then that would mean she died tomorrow as well, does it not?"
Thand smiled, "Sharp as his ada... Yes, Mae. Tomorrow is the anniversary of your nana's death... It is nothing to be sad about. I am sure your ada will explain soon. I have to go now. I will see you tomorrow meleth!"
Mae waved at his grandfather and watched him disappear further along the path. Haldir held his ion and saw that his clothing had pink blots here and there, "Oh, look at you! You have soiled your tunic! You want a bath?"
Mae shook his head vigorously, "NO! No! I like the 'raspbabby' smell..."
Haldir laughed again. Mae has been the source of joy in his life. His little antics and his loving embrace were the things that kept him going. He would have surrendered his life long ago if it was not for his little ion, "Raspberry, Mae. Not 'raspbabby'."
Mae frowned, "That is what I said ada, 'raspbabby'..."
Haldir shook his head, "Smell or no smell! You need a bath and I will give you one. You are so sticky!"
Mae struggled in his arms, "No! Ada, please..."
His protests soon turned into giggles and shrieks as Haldir placed him in the tub, washing his golden hair and his pink face. Haldir stroked the golden hair, "Have I told you your hair is like your nana's?"
Mae nodded, "Yes... Many times..."
Haldir smiled and shook his head. Mallen Maethor was much like Calavénë, sharp tongued and quick minded. Haldir was amazed today. Each day, bath time was a struggle but today his ion was behaving well. He thought to ask him of his sudden obedience, "Ion nin, tell me why are you not trashing around the tub like yesterday?"
Mae stopped playing with his small boat, "I wanted to be nice today... and tomorrow."
Haldir looked at his ion, "Why? Because tomorrow is your begetting day? Are you afraid of not getting presents if you misbehave?"
Mae shook his head, "No... I do not want to upset you since tomorrow is nana's dead day..."
Haldir was lost for words. How considerate and kind his ion was. He was reminded yet again of Calavénë's kind heart. Tears brimmed in his eyes as he remembered the magnificent elleth. Mae saw this and stood up. He came closer and held his ada's face in his hands, "I have made you sad ada... I am sorry..."
Haldir shook his head and let the tears roll down his cheeks. He lifted his ion and wrapped a dry towel around his small body, "No ion nin. You are the single greatest joy in my life. Le melon..."
Mae smiled and kissed his ada, "Le melon... Ada?"
Haldir looked at him, "What is it?"
Mae blushed, "I am cold ada... Can I have my clothes?"
Haldir laughed and carried his son into his nursery. It was nearing nightfall and Haldir wanted to put Mae in bed. Legolas was coming for a visit and he wanted no distractions from his cheeky ion. He was grateful Mae did not know of Legolas' visit. He had become Mae's favourite visiting uncle. If he knew Legolas was here, he would stay up past his bedtime.
Haldir placed his ion in his cot and gently tucked the coverlet around his small body. His little golden warrior yawned and stretched. Haldir stroked his little cheek and placed a kiss on the top of his head, "Sleep well ion nin. Tomorrow you will be one year old and the world will be yours for the taking."
Mae smiled and yawned, "Yes... and I will get many presents."
Haldir shook his head as he watched his ion tossed and turned until finally he settled in his favourite sleeping position. His little blue eyes fluttered and soon he fell asleep. Haldir bent down again and kissed him. He then made his way towards the kitchen to prepare dinner in honour of Legolas.
Haldir eyed the feast before him. There were a variety of fruits, cheeses, fresh bread, some grilled fish and Legolas' favourite, Miruvor. The Mirkwood Prince loves his share of good wine. He nodded his approval and went to change to more suitable attire. He was checking on his ion when he heard a knock on the door.
Haldir tiptoed out of the nursery and went through the living room to open the door. There stood his old friend, "Legolas! It is so nice to see you again."
Legolas beamed at his old companion, "Haldir! I am so glad to see you. This is my betrothed, Nyonna."
Haldir turned to look at the elleth by Legolas' side. She was a pretty creature, fit to be the queen of Mirkwood soon, "My lady. I am pleased you could join us."
Nyonna smiled and nodded curtly, "Marchwarden, Legolas has told me many stories about you. It is an honour to finally meet you."
Haldir welcomed the two of them inside his talan and they made their way to the dining hall. The three of them ate and talked, reminiscing about old times, especially their mischief in their youth. Legolas was happy to see Haldir again. It has been almost six months since his last visit and truly, he had missed them. He looked around the room for the little warrior, "Haldir, where is Mae?"
Haldir smiled, "He is asleep, Las. I did not tell him of your visit. He needs his rest since tomorrow will be a big day."
Legolas laughed, "Yes, I understand. Last I was here he stayed up well past midnight and that was when he was just starting to crawl. I take it tomorrow we will have a great celebration?"
Haldir nodded, "You know Thand and Laugoneth. They spared no thought to the grandiosity of the celebrations. It is sad though that Lady Galadriel will not be with us."
Legolas nodded. Lady Galadriel sailed to the Grey Havens three months earlier and all were saddened by her passing. Since then many of the elves in Lorien followed her lead and sailed. Lorien was beginning to empty and Legolas had wanted to ask him something for a very long time.
Legolas cleared his throat and started, "Haldir, Lorien will soon empty. I wish you would consider living with me and Nyonna soon."
Haldir smiled and shook his head, "We have been through this plenty of time, Las. I will not return to Mirkwood. I never will... The wound is still fresh in my heart..."
Legolas understood what Haldir meant. Venturing back to Mirkwood meant opening all the hurt he felt inside. It was where Calavénë died and left him. Haldir did not even come to his engagement celebrations to Nyonna. But it was not what Legolas had in mind, "No, Haldir. I was talking about Ithilien. My ada has finally given me the permission to start another colony there. After Nyonna and I are wed, we would move there and I would love to have you and Mae there. You could also bring your brothers and Calavénë's parents."
Haldir sat silently, pondering the notion. He looked up at Legolas, "I will give you my answer soon if that is acceptable."
Legolas nodded, "That is agreeable mellon nin. I think it is best we take our leave. You need your rest for tomorrow's big day. Nyonna and I will see you tomorrow."
Just then the sound of little footsteps could be heard making its way to the dining hall, "Legolas!"
Mae ran towards his uncle and hugged his leg. Legolas laughed and picked Mae up, "Look who has decided to join us."
Mae looked at Haldir, "Ada, why did you not tell me of uncle's arrival?"
Legolas pinched the little elfling's nose, "I told him not to. You were sleeping. Mae, meet Nyonna. Your aunt..."
Mae looked at the elleth in front of him. He smiled shyly, "Mae govannen..."
Nyonna smiled back, "Mae govannned Haldirion..."
Haldir walked towards Legolas and took Mae, "Come. Your uncle is going home now. You can see him tomorrow."
Mae waved his little hand and yawned. He settled his little head near his ada's neck. Legolas smiled and addressed Haldir, "Put him to bed. We can see ourselves out. Have a good night, pen dithen."
Haldir watched as the two smitten lovers left his talan. Haldir took Mae to his nursery and as he was putting him in it again, Mae opened his eyes, "Ada... may I sleep with you tonight?"
Haldir smiled and picked him up again, "Yes, you may. Come..."
Haldir placed his ion on the bed slowly and covered his little body. He took of his tunic and lay beside Mae. The little elfling snuggled closer to his ada. His golden hair tickled Haldir's side and the feel of his soft skin was comforting. Haldir stared at the ceiling.
"Tell me about nana..." asked the little warrior.
Haldir pulled him closer, "What do you want to know?"
Mae yawned, "Everything..."
Haldir laughed, "Everything? In one night? My... Let me tell you about her voice. Would you like that?"
"Well your nana had the most wonderful voice. It was melodious. The way she spoke could melt your heart. Her voice always managed to calm my nerves. When she sang, you could feel all Arda stop to listen..." Haldir told his ion.
The already drowsy elfling pressed on, "Ada... Do you love nana?"
Haldir nodded, "Very much... I love her more than anything except for you of course."
Haldir looked at his ion, "What is it meleth?"
"You can love nana more than you love me. I do not mind..." Mae smiled and snuggled closer to his ada. Soon he was fast asleep.
Haldir closed his eyes. He was weary and the burden of the grief was growing on his. He had doubts about tomorrow. Would he be able to survive it? Would he be able to forget his sadness for his ion's happiness? The wine he drunk began to illicit some effects. His eyes were heavy and soon he too joined his ion in reverie.
A voice calling out his name woke him. It was the voice of an elleth. He sat up, looking around but saw no one. He got out of bed and pulled his tunic over his lithe body. He heard the voice yet again. He walked towards the windows and peered outside. There he saw and elleth, dancing. She had a wreath of roses atop her head and she wore a beautiful white gown. She beckoned him, calling him to her. He looked carefully and recognized the elleth, "Nana..."
Haldir ran outside but as he approached her, she ran. Haldir followed yelling at the top of his lungs, "Nana! Wait!"
The elleth continued to dance further away from him. He ran towards the forest and when he came to a clearing he saw his naneth sitting on a rock beside the river. She looked up at him and smiled, "Haldir... Ion nin..."
Haldir approached her cautiously; afraid he might lose her again, "Nana... I missed you..." He walked closer and knelt beside his naneth.
His naneth embraced him and kissed his temple. She was just as he remembered her, warm and she smelt of roses and rain. Haldir closed his eyes and tried to remember all the times they had together. All of a sudden his naneth stood up and began her dance yet again. This time she ran towards the Garden of Memories. Haldir followed, not wanting to lose his naneth again.
He stopped abruptly as he watched his naneth caressed the Nephredil blooming on Calavénë's grave. There was a soft glow about the flower and he watched as his naneth picked the flower and walked towards him. She gently opened his palms and placed the delicate flower in his hand, "Take good care of it..."
He stared at the flower. What did she mean? Why would Haldir want to keep the bloom? It was better off on the plant. He lifted his gaze and saw nothing. His naneth had vanished...
Haldir woke up with a start. He looked around and saw his ion sleeping soundly next to him. It had been like this for almost one month now. The same dream, almost every night. He walked towards the bathroom and splashed some water on his face. Why was he having these dreams and why after all this time, he was seeing his naneth again? Haldir shook his head and returned to bed. He held Mallen Maethor close to him and fell asleep again.
Ion nin – my son
Meleth – love
Pen vuin – dear one
Dithen cugu – little dove
Naneth/nana – mother
Ada – father
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.