33. Chapter Thirty-Three
Orophin watched as Rúmil shook his head and walked to the other side of the camp. His heart bled; Rúmil had been so young when their Adar had died at the Dagorlad. Their Naneth had stayed in Middle-earth for another three hundred years, but at last she could take the pain no longer. Rúmil was still shaken by the losses; he clung to his brothers, at times, as if an Elf-child himself. If Haldir left? Yet, what other course could there be for the violated Elf? He could not stay on, not after having been assaulted by an Orch, of all things!
Elladan looked at the elder Elf with sorrow. "There is no happy ending for something such as has happened to Haldir, Orophin. Might I share some of my own thoughts with you regarding your brother's choices?"
Orophin squirmed. He did not want to hear platitudes. Not now. Nothing would ameliorate the pain he felt for Haldir, the agonizing memories his brother would wake to, the shame and horror he would feel. Better if he faded. Better if they all faded.
"Fading is not the answer, nor leaving Middle-earth. I do not presume for Haldir, but I know him, I have fought with him many times. He is a warrior. No other word describes him. He would not take kindly to a suggestion that he... run."
Orophin bit his lip. Did Elladan posses the same mind-reading abilities his Adar had?
"You know your brother better than I. Would he run?"
"It is not the same. There is healing in Valinor. And peace."
Elladan chuckled and quickly apologized. "It is no laughing matter, but I have watched him since peace settled upon your land. He has not been 'content' sitting in his talan waiting for something to happen. Even with Haldirriel at his side, he continues to train, hunt, practice tracking, all the little things that had become a part of his daily life since he was of age. Haldir was suckled on battle and war. I cannot see him going quietly to Valinor and sitting with embroidery in his hands."
Now it was Orophin's turn to laugh. "Do you suppose that is all they do the live-long day?"
"According to Glorfindel," Elrohir answered, "they arrange tournaments to keep their skills honed. With," his voice took on a simpering quality, "banners as prizes."
At that, Orophin roared. When he could speak again, he smiled. "You have lifted my heart, the both of you. Thank you. It will be Haldir's choice," he turned serious again, "if he wakes. I will not advise him, one way or the other. Haldirriel," he turned to the listening Elleth, "It is your decision too, I suppose. I do not begrudge you that; however, his love for you is... breathtaking. I cannot imagine him parting from you. Forgive me if I hurt you with my hasty words."
"Hasty or no, they were hurtful. But grief has become our partner these last days and I would ascribe the foolishness of your words to your grief. However, Legolas is the one who has the right to an apology, not me."
He drew in his breath. "Of course. When he returns, I will offer it."
Legolas could not even remember how long he walked, picking up twigs, then dropping them. If Haldir faded, what would he do? True, he was still bonded to Haldirriel. He loved her with all his being, but she would he halved, of that he was certain. She would fade too, even knowing she would leave him behind. How he would endure the loss of both of them, he could not say. His face burned with sorrow and his eyes filled with tears. They watered the ground as he bent and picked up another stick.
Finally composing himself, he thought upon his future further. He could go to Eryn Lasgalen, stay with his Adar and his people; it was far enough from the Sea. Mayhap, if he did not hear the incessant calling of the curséd gulls, he could sleep. Nay. That way was closed to him forever. He could visit his home, now and again, but never live there. Too many memories of Haldirriel and their growing up, their discovering each others' bodies, meeting Haldir and growing quickly in love with the Marchwarden of Lórien. His heart beat a little faster at the remembrances.
'Besides,' he thought bitterly, and guilt assailed him at the fact that he felt bitter indeed, 'I have promised Aragorn that I would stay near his side, until his kingdom is firmly established, and all threat of usurpation or border wars is over.' He had even promised to stay for Arwen, for surely Arwen would outlive the Ranger turned King. 'The sea longing burns me, even here, so close to Lórien, so far from the Sea. I cannot imagine returning to Minas Tirith, but I must. I pledged myself to Aragorn.'
He threw down the bundle of sticks that had finally accumulated in his arms and sat on a stump, holding his head in his hands. 'This accursed longing will be the death of me. It has only been with me a short time; how am I to endure it for decades?'
'And Gimli. What of Gimli? He will live longer than Aragorn, probably even longer than Arwen for I do not see her living long past her love's sleeping. The Dwarf is dear to me. We have had so many adventures these past two years. I wonder... Nay, a Dwarf would not be welcomed in Valinor. Yet...'
He stood; his head hurt. He had not remembered having these feelings before the dratted gulls invaded his mind at Pelargir. His mouth tightened as he began to pick up the wood that lay strewn about his feet. 'I must get back; Haldir might have awakened.'
He felt the blade at his throat before he even heard a sound. Standing still, his eyes moved from the sword to the hand that held it, to the face that glared at him. "Rúmil." He wet his top lip with his tongue. Somehow, he had expected this.
"You will not keep my brother here. You will speak with Haldirriel and tell her to let us take him home, to Valinor."
Again, the Wood Elf ran his tongue over his lip. "I cannot. I would not."
"Then you will die."
"That simply? It must be in your blood. Part kinslayer?"
The tip of the blade pushed further into his throat. He felt the warmth of his blood in a slow trickle down his throat. No other movement was made. The trickle ran to his chest. He wondered how deeply the blade was in. He dare not speak; the movement alone might cause the tip to slide in further.
"You will do as I ask, or you will not return to either of those you purport to love! Love," the enraged Elf spat, "Dare you even consider it love when you would have him suffer the memory of his defilement? I thought I had misheard when you said you would stay with him. How dare you even consider keeping him here? Know you not what pain he will have when - if he wakes," he shouted. "Pain and shame and horror. You would have him suffer that with you, a stranger, at his side," he contemptuously emphasized the you. "As much as I love him, and it is a true and pure love, I would not hold him to such a future. You disgust me!" The sword prodded forward; the wound bled more.
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