38. Chapter Thirty-Eight
Haldirriel's own tears fell freely as she watched the two become as one again. Her own body shook with need and lust, yet she gave them the time they needed to come down from such an experience. Slow shivers shook her as she waited. Five minutes. Ten. Then a full twenty had passed. Neither Ellon seemed quite recovered enough for her to join them. She struggled with her emotions; it was incredible to watch them and to know Haldir was healed enough to accept Legolas' ministrations, but her own fëa was tearing into hundreds of little pieces. She stifled a moan and ducked into the water, washing the tears from her face and hoping they did not note. Then, slowly, she swam back to the shelf across from them and waited.
Haldir had fallen asleep. Legolas looked at her with such compassion that she cried out. She put her hand to her mouth and held it there to stifle the cry.
"He will be yours soon," the Wood Elf whispered. "I want to take him, but I dare not. But he will take you, when he wakes, of that I am sure."
She nodded, unable to voice her concerns. At last, she whispered, "He seems well?"
Legolas smiled sadly. "Yes. And no. He twitched every time I touched him, no matter where on his body. He still recoils, in his mind, but he wills himself to be strong. It is difficult to love him like this."
"Given time, I know he will accept our love fully. I had hoped... It has been a full year now; his Queen will be leaving for the West soon. What will he do then? She gives him her strength, when she visits him. I am frightened, Legolas, that he will fade, once she, and you, leave."
"I will wait a little longer. Or," Legolas' eyes shone. "Come with me to Minas Tirith."
She drew in a long, shaky breath. "A city? I have never been to a city; I cannot see myself... I cannot see Haldir able to endure leaving the forests."
"Then we go to Ithilien. I am making a place for my own people; it is beautiful and peaceful. We could go there; Haldir and you could stay with me. I will travel back and forth to Aragorn's city. It would be good for him."
She clenched her teeth at the thought of leaving Lórien. It had taken decades for her to enjoy Haldir's forest; it was nothing like Eryn Lasgalen. And yet, the thought held some merit. With Galadriel gone, Lórien would lose even more of its beauty. It would be hard for Haldir to watch it wither and fade. Though life was now become peaceful and the forests of Thranduil were once again being freed from the blight of spiders, Yrch, and Sauron, still, it was home for her, but not Haldir.
"The air smells sweet, Haldirriel, sweeter than you can imagine. The land there is so full of herbs and lush plants and wondrous trees that I am oft hard-pressed to decide which part is lovelier. And my people flourish there. We might even ask Singollo to travel with us; he might decide to live there."
"Am I allowed to offer my opinion?"
They both turned in surprise. Haldir smiled warmly. "The thought of Galadriel leaving has been a heavy burden for me these past months. I know she chafes at remaining in Middle-earth; she is ready to return to her family. I have no such family there. Celeborn has mentioned that he will live in Imladris. Might we consider going there? I think my brothers might go with him."
Haldirriel swam across the water and took her husband in her arms. "If you wish, we may travel to Imladris." Her brow furrowed, "Is there a reason you do not want to go to Gondor?"
Haldir looked at Legolas, eyes brimming with tears, "I would go with our bond-mate to Ithilien, but..."
Legolas took Haldir's hand and stroked it. "You need not fear anything you say, gerich meleth nîn."
Biting his lip, Haldir held the Wood Elf's hand tightly, "I am not ready to go amongst those I do not know."
"Ah," Legolas quickly pulled Haldir closer to him. "Do not be saddened. It is as easy to travel to Imladris as it is to travel to Lórien. I will come at least once a year. Though how I am ever to think with you gone from me." He hugged Haldir tightly, then turned and pulled Haldirriel into their embrace.
She felt Haldir shiver and pulled away. "That is not the only reason you do not want to go to Ithilien. Tell us."
"It is too close to Mordor. Did you not feel Him in the tunnels? I think," he swallowed thickly, trying desperately to overcome the fear that again assailed him. "I think He was there."
"Nay!" Legolas cried. "He was not. There was a feeling, something of His servant, but He is gone, garn nîn. Gone forever. Nothing of him remains."
"Then why do the mellyrn die?"
"They are ancient, Haldir. They lived on because of the Ring, Galadriel's Ring. Once the Enemy's was destroyed, Nenya lost its power. So the forest slowly dies. It is part of the plan of Eru; all things die. One day, we too, if we do not sail West, will likewise fade."
"We could sail now," Haldirriel whispered.
"Nay. I cannot go as I am now. I am gwaur, dirty."
Legolas pulled Haldir close to him, stroked his back, and murmured, "You are beautiful, not dirty."
"You do not understand," Haldir sobbed, "I let him take me. I could feel Sauron in that place and I knew I could not fight Him; none can fight Sauron, not even the Balrog-slayer! So I let the Orch take me. I am lost." He pulled himself from their embrace, climbed from the ledge - and sprinted of into the undergrowth!
"Haldir!" Haldirriel screamed and jumped out of the pool; Legolas had already begun the chase, but fear and horror and complete despair spurred Haldir on. Legolas lost sight of him. He screamed Haldir's name, but there was no response. He stopped, held his breath, and listened. Thankfully, he heard his lover careening through the trees and brambles at the base of the mountains. He ran in the direction of the noise, calling back to Haldirriel to follow him as he did.
"Do you see him?" Haldirriel had caught up to Legolas, who stood, listening intently.
"He is to our right. Come!" He ran as did Haldirriel.
"Haldir!" she cried out, but there was no answer.
"Daro," Legolas whispered. "I can no longer hear him. He should be here, but I do not hear him, nor can I see him," Legolas looked helplessly about. "He cannot have disappeared."
Haldirriel shivered. "Mayhap, another tunnel? Could he have fallen into a tunnel?"
"I know not. We must search. He was last near here; I know I heard him. Go to your left; I will search the area directly in front of us. He must be here."
Haldirriel heard the fear and frustration in the Wood Elf's voice and kissed him lightly. "We will find him."
A/N - 1) Gerich meleth nîn - you have my love; 2) Garn nîn - my own; 3) Gwaur - dirty: 4) Daro - stop.
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