12. Who Is In Charge Here?
Lord Celeborn moved up beside her concerned. "Do you need to rest, Mistress Nurael?"
She shook her head. "No, my lord, I am used to hard travel. It is the pace I consider witless. We still have three days to go and he will drive us all into the ground because of his idiocy. Will you not recall him and require a more sensible speed?"
"He is your patient, Mistress, I am merely part of the escort to insure your safe arrival." He said with an innocent face.
She looked at her lord through narrowed eyes gauging his seriousness. Catching a glimmer of humor, she grinned back. "Do you honestly think he will listen to me?"
"You never know until you try."
She nodded suddenly serious. "Very well."
She called to the warriors who had passed her and Celeborn, following in the footsteps of the March Warden now out of sight ahead of them. "Meldir nin, we will stop here for the night. I believe a hot meal will do us all good."
All stopped and looked at Celeborn who nodded assent. Returning, they dropped their packs and immediately began to set up a simple campsite, building a fire and procuring water from a nearby stream. Two of them then moved out to take the first watch until their relief for dinner.
Celeborn settled down on a rock and watched as Nurael gazed mutinously after the disappeared Haldir. He smiled as he saw a serious of emotions play out over the planes of her face. She was at times angry, frustrated, and scheming. He lifted a hand and smothered a chuckle as he saw the schemer win out. Her green eyes turned a cold hard icy green that flashed golden sparks. He almost felt sorry for the March Warden.
She moved back to where there was a small cook fire briskly burning. One of the warriors moved up behind her and relieved her of her pack, nodding at her thanks. He grinned at her a moment before turning to look up the trail after the departed Haldir and shaking his head. He had no doubt that the golden haired March Warden was about to meet his match in this feisty, equally golden haired healer.
She returned to settle down on the ground beside Celeborn.
He continued his silent perusal of her a while longer before questioning her. "Are you not going to send one of the warriors after him to summon him back?"
"How can you be sure he will not go on ahead to the retreat?"
She turned her head her green eyes flashing and grinned up at him. "Two reasons my lord. His sense of responsibility for you, and his need to know what I am up to now."
He nodded in agreement.
Nearly an hour later a very disgruntled Haldir returned back down the trail and immediately started to tongue lash the two warriors at the campfire.
"Enough, Haldir," Nurael snapped, moving to get right up in his face. "I gave the order to stop for the night."
He glared at her. "I am the March Warden and I say when we stop. There is at least two more hours of daylight...." He stopped as she interrupted him.
"You may be the March Warden, but you are now under my care, and for now I say what will be done." She snarled right back at him.
He jerked back in shock and stared down non plus at the termagant her green eyes spitting back at him. He had never been challenged by an elleth before except her when she had been a hen. He glared at her and looked over at Celeborn who shrugged. This one still challenged him and he knew she was right. He was under her care. He groaned and turned away his shoulders slumped in despair.
The warriors studiously ignored the fracas and concentrated on the preparation of the evening meal.
For a moment, Nurael longed to take him in her arms and comfort him. His despair was so overwhelming she was shaken by its intensity. But she forced herself to stand back and maintain an icy distance. Turning back toward Celeborn, she looked at him with mute sorrow. He nodded and she felt the gentle touch of his mind.
*I know, Nurael, we all feel this pain for him. But it has been agreed the only way we can help him is if he can accept someone as his equal emotionally, someone he does not give orders to or take orders from. *
She responded with a jerk of her head and ignoring the concerned looks from the others strode briskly away from their presence into the surrounding woods stopping only when she reached the steam. Sinking down she buried her face in her hands and sobbed silently. It had always been like this after her confrontations with him in the past. She had been a hen then, now she was a grown elleth, why did he still manage to get under her skin?
She sat up startled. *Lord Elrond? *
*Yes. * His reassuring voice warmed her bruised mind. *Do not despair, Haldir has some deep wounds within his faer, but you will be able to restore him. *
*How can you be so sure, my lord? And how did you know it was Haldir? * She whispered half to herself and half to him.
His warm chuckle caused her to smile through her tears. *Galadriel said nothing but the rest of you were like open books. Also, when he was here I was aware of his disquiet. I knew that help would be forthcoming. I just did not expect at that point it would be you. *
She knelt there for sometime considering. *Have we taken the right path my lord? * She asked him uncertainly.
*Yes. Nurael, you are much more than a competent healer. Just let your instincts guide you. *
*My instincts may not be trustworthy. *
*You fear that your affection for the March Warden may interfere with your ability to judge clearly. *
*Yes. I had strong feelings for him even as a child. I have not been happy to discover they still remain. I must confess I do not understand why it should be so. *
*Even at that tender age it is possible for the faer to recognize its mate. *
*Haldir and me? * She squeaked in shock.
*It is certainly a possibility. *
*But... but he hates me and this whole matter will make it even more impossible for such a match. *
*That is one option. * Elrond admitted thoughtfully. *Not all who love will have it returned. Will that possibility influence your willingness to proceed? If so, I will inform Galadriel that she herself will have to deal with Haldir. I have the necessary information on the new medical plant and I believe it will be useful in this situation. *
For a long time she sat there in great emotional pain. Finally she took a deep breath and rose to her feet. *No, my lord, I am a healer, and I will do what must be done. I have never had any expectations of affectionate feelings from him in the past and I am prepared for that in the future. However it may be necessary for me to return to Imladris when this is over. I am the one who will be the easiest to move. Lothlorien needs her March Warden. *
*If it comes to that, you will be welcome, but let us not worry about that until it becomes clear that such a move must be made. Agreed? *
*Agreed, my lord. *
*Good, I will be in touch again in a few days. In the mean time do not let him trouble you. Proceed as we have planned. *
*Of course, my lord, and thank you. *
*Namarie, Nurael *
*Namarie, Lord Elrond. *
Kneeling once more she washed her tear redden face in the cooling waters of the stream, then rose striding back purposefully into the camp. Lord Celeborn studied her erect figure over the steaming cup of tea he held in his hands and was relieved when he saw her calm look. He watched as she surveyed the camp finally locating the dejected figure of Haldir. Withdrawing an herb from her medical supplies she prepared an infusion adding it to a cup of tea then crossed over to the March Warden. She stood in front of him until he finally looked up at her.
“What now, healer?" he spat.
"Drink this down. All of it." She directed calmly.
"I don't need anything."
"You will drink it or I will pour it down your throat."
"You think you can make me? He smirked at her.
She looked at him steadily then said quietly. "You will either drink it now, and without further fuss, Haldir, or I will have Celeborn's escort hold you down and I will personally pour it down myself. Healers are trained in techniques on how to do so if necessary and I am quite capable of accomplishing it. It is up to you, but you will take the drink."
He looked at her with dawning horror and he knew she meant every word she said. He looked at the warriors now sitting around the fire eating their evening meal and knew he could never face them or the others again if she had to call upon them for assistance. He glared back at her then grabbed the cup and gulped its contents down in quick mouthfuls, thrusting it back at her roughly when he finished. She looked at him silently then gracefully sat down beside him.
"I know this is difficult for you, and I assure you, it is not pleasant for me. Nonetheless we must come to an understanding Haldir, or you will not return to your role as March Warden. " She continued to look at him through calm green eyes.
That got his attention and he returned her look warily but said nothing.
She continued softly. "You have been told all the reasons you have been temporarily relieved of your duties and why I was chosen to provide those healing skills that were needed for you. You are also aware of the great extent of measures that Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel have undertaken to protect you from unwanted attention even going so far as allowing you to be cared for in their own private retreat, an honor that has never been granted before, ever."
She continued in the same measured tones. "I have never questioned your knowledge and skills as a warrior or as March Warden of the Golden Woods, nor do I do so now. I respect your abilities to perform those often unpleasant but necessary duties in pursuit of those roles. I cannot even begin to imagine the personal difficulties you must face when committing friends or family to battle. Those are decisions you have faced every day for years on end. Yet you have done so magnificently and unquestioningly."
"I expect you to respect my abilities and skills as a healer as well. I have had the best training available and our lord and lady as well as Lord Elrond and Master Maenestad have expressed their confidence in me as well."
"The Lady has no desire to force her way into your mind where you have erected very effective barriers but she is prepared to do so if you do not co-operate with the course of treatment that has been devised for you. It is her wish that you recover as swiftly as possible so that you may resume your duties as March Warden. As much as she desires that she will not put at risk the safety of Lothlorien while you remain in such dire straights."
Haldir swallowed hard as he digested her blunt comments. "What do you intend to do?" He asked in shaken tones.
"Well to begin with, we will not run headlong to the retreat. I do not wish to add to the level of your exhaustion."
He started to protest and she raised a hand silencing him. "You are exhausted and have not eaten enough for many number of days to maintain your body. You are depressed, paranoid, and running on strung out nerves. You are closer to breaking then you realize and if that happens, we may not be able to put you back together again. You are now no longer in any condition to think rationally enough to effectively lead your warriors."
"Over the next few days I will provide you with a variety of nutritious food supplements and drinks designed to help you build up your physical strength. This will in turn help strengthen your mental processes so that you can more effectively control your own progress." She looked at him reassuringly.
"You do not intend to force me to accept your control?" He asked cautiously.
Nurael shook her head. "You would never co-operate in that case. If you are to recover you must be a willing participant. Otherwise you will merely delay and make your condition worse by fighting the treatment."
“Once we arrive at the retreat you and I will review what actions we will take to allow you to deal with your illness. I want make sure you understand what each step is meant to accomplish and answer any questions you may have. By doing this I hope to ease your concerns and encourage your co-operation."
He nodded. "I will cooperate until then at least."
"Thank you Haldir. On my part I will do my best not to cause you embarrassment or discomfort in front of Lord Celeborn or your comrades."
Wargs-evil wolves of Rhovanion, servants of Sauron
Meldir nin-my friends (m)