13. Strange dreams
“This is much easier – and I’ll be coming down with you. The belt is only because you are unfamiliar with the ropes. Lord Haldir would feed my sorry carcass to the yrch if I dropped you!”
He said it with a cheery grin and had Théodred belted before he knew it. Lindir stepped into a wide stirrup of leather at their feet and showed Théo how to do the same.
“Hold on here …ready?”
Théodred had barely nodded when Lindir swung them off the edge of the high flet and out into space. As they swung, he released a rope, and they plummeted to the ground. A yell came unbidden to Théo’s throat, which rapidly became a whoop of excitment! The counter-weight slowed them before they hit the grass too heavily, but Théo still staggered a little, while Lindir, of course, simply sprang free of his stirrup with a graceful bound. A small group of Elves grinned at a slightly sheepish prince, aware that he had compromised his dignity somewhat with that shout. Lindir clapped him on the back,
“Do not worry – we do it for fun sometimes as well. And some of the flets in Calas Galadhon are ten times as high!”
The rohir was cheered by this, and impressed as well – ‘that would be quite a ride!’
To Théodred’s surprise the tight leggings he’d been handed that he thought too narrowly cut over the backside, had more ‘give’ than he had first supposed. He found he was less restricted in walking than he thought he would be; though he was aware that they moulded to his hips, thighs and buttocks rather more closely than he was used to – and the occasional covert glance he received as he passed wasn’t entirely to do with admiring the needlework! Actually – he quite liked it; though vanity was not a general flaw in his nature, to be considered attractive by such beautiful beings was a lift to his spirits. From always being considered, tall, well-proportioned and admirable, he had been feeling somewhat diminished and over-awed among these universally graceful, powerful Elves.
Lindir escorted him through the screens of sheltering banners; to Théo’s chagrin, he managed to ring every one on his way, announcing his progress with trilling bells. Finally he was in a sheltered area equipped with table and benches, and though he hadn’t walked all that far, he was grateful for the excuse to sit down. Another elf bought plates of cold meat, fresh bread warm from the pan, cheese and a jug of water, then he and Lindir silently vanished behind the banners.
As Théodred ate, Haldir appeared, equally quietly, from another direction – this was becoming a little unnerving. He nodded to Théodred and helped himself to the food.
“You slept well?” Haldir enquired, as he cut his meat with a small knife from his scabbard.
Théodred nodded, mouth full.
“Good.” They ate in silence for a few moments.
“I would like to speak to Lord Celeborn,” Théodred said.
Haldir nodded, “And he would like to speak to you – when we’ve eaten.” He helped himself to some slices of bread, drizzling spiced oil over them. Shortly after, they were joined by some other elves, among them Gwindor and Gelmir, who although he was mobile, walked awkwardly with a pronounced limp. More plates were brought through by Lindir, who also came to join them. There did not seem to be any strict hierarchy, just an easy protocol of doing whatever needed to be done – something that Théodred found admirable. Previously, he had assumed the Elves would operate under the same formal strictures that Gondor seemed to for Court life - everyone knowing their place and being bound by it. Little, if any, of that rigidity could be seen here.
Over the casual meal people came and went. Théodred felt himself cheered by the company, even if he couldn't understand everything that was said. Those that spoke Westron made an effort to translate jokes for his benefit, and, all in all, he thought it felt like any other camp he’d visited, this friendly camaraderie and banter amongst comrades in arms. When Lord Celeborn came to join them towards the end of their meal, no one saluted, but the other Elves discreetly moved away, while plates of fresh food appeared with magical efficiency as he sat down. Théodred did the elf-lord the courtesy of waiting until he had eaten before making anything other than small talk, by which time he was alone with Lord Celeborn and Haldir, the others having silently vanished about their business.
“You spent a more comfortable night, when you stayed with Boromir?” Celeborn said without preamble.
“Yes.” Théodred wondered if he should elaborate, but Celeborn nodded and continued,
“He was disturbed and sought you out when you wandered...”
‘…how does he know my dreams?’
“…but now, he wanders himself.”
Théodred took a deep breath to calm himself, but words rapidly tumbled out in a flood of questions. “My Lord – you talk in riddles. Why can you not help him? It was you who began this!”
Celeborn regarded him coolly.
“I know the Steward’s Son very well now, and he knows something of us. In his determination to save you, he thought he also could do what I did – cast his fea to find you. That he did so is proof your link is strong – and how desperate he was not to lose you…”
Foreboding grew in Théodred. He may not have understood all of this, but the intensity of the two elven lords as they tried to explain… something was not well…
“…but it was a rash act born of both bravery and pride and now, he wanders…”
“Where? Why does he not wake? What did you do to him?” Théodred’s questions became a growing torrent of angry frustration ‘…what weren’t they telling him?!’
“What is wrong with him – you must know!” he said, raising his voice.
Lord Celeborn sat back and waited while the Rohir bit his lip, schooled his face, and tried to control his fear and anger.
“We are not in a position to help him properly here...” Celeborn said smoothly.
“This is folly…!!” Théodred burst out, thumping the table; Celeborn ignored his fury.
“I need the skills of my Lady also…”
“The Witch of Dwimordene…!”
Haldir had a hand to his knife, half-rising, before Celeborn stayed his arm.
“You would do well not to hurl insults in the presence of Celeborn of Lothlorien when speaking of the Lady Galadriel, Horselord!” Haldir was enraged at the impropriety.
Théodred looked down at the table, colouring rapidly, his fits clenched on his knees. “Your pardon, my Lord,” he managed to say into the utter silence between them feeling foolish and humbled. If someone had made such a remark to his father about his mother in the Golden Hall… Théoden would have struck him down on the spot. Yet Théo's shame and remorse at his words did little to take away his seething wrath, or his despair of ever seeing Boromir again, whole and well.
“Prince Théodred is naturally anxious and disconcerted by events, I’m sure he meant no real harm,” Celeborn murmured.
Haldir sat back down at his lord’s side; his face blank, carefully masking his emotions.
Celeborn continued. “I propose to return to Lothlorien with Lord Boromir…”
Théodred’s head came up, but he resisted the urge to jump up and deny the proposal. Just then, Lindir erupted through the banners, even making the final one ring in his agitation. He strode to Haldir’s side and whispered to him. Haldir looked startled; something, Théo decided, that was really not a good sign, not if it surprised the notoriously self-possessed elf.
Haldir turned to the two of them. “My Lord – we have visitors.”
For the briefest instant, the eyes of both elves flickered into metallic-silver, in sign of the communication between them. Then Celeborn rose and strode out of the screening banners, Haldir and Lindir with him. Théodred was left to blunder after them – though it did cross his mind perhaps he aught to seek a weapon out first. The mood he was in… he would have been more than happy to kill something – if it wasn’t for these… ridiculous… bloody… curtains!
When he finally emerged with much tinkling of bells, he saw a strange and wondrous sight in the glade – enough to dissipate his wrath with astonishment. A tree, no - two trees, that surely hadn’t been there before…waving their branches on a near windless day. Théo blinked, once, twice – the trees had eyes! And as he watched, Lord Celeborn and the trees bowed to each other in formal greeting.
The man was suddenly aware that his mouth was hanging open; he snapped his jaw shut with an effort. When he was a child, his father had teased him with tales of a tree he had once glimpsed walking at the edge of Fangorn. Théo had never really believed him, though he assured his young cousins Éomer and Éowyn it was true, mainly when he didn't want to be followed into the woods.
The trees walked towards the edge of the glade with Lord Celeborn and Haldir, evidently deep in conversation. The rest of the company watched with awe, and Théo suddenly wished Boromir could see this, for he’d never believe him otherwise.
And they wanted to take Boromir away with them! Not sure what he was going to do about that, Théodred turned back to the trees and parted the first banner which set the bells to jangling, attracting the attention of a nearby elf. Théo indicated he was tired and in pain and wanted to return to the upper levels; the elf held the wind-curtains aside for Théodred to pass among them. At the foot of the tree he’d been lodged in, Théo realised his dilemma, how was he going to get back up again?
A sentry on the first flet, high above his head, saw him and let down a rope-ladder next to him. Théodred struggled doggedly, the ladder swaying and rolling beneath him as he climbed clumsily upwards. The healing wounds on his leg pulled and stretched painfully; and when he reached the top he virtually collapsed onto the wooden flet. Disconcerted to find the man sitting on the floor, breathing hard and white as his shirt, the sentry helped him to his feet and guided him to the stairs, his arm around Théo’s waist.
In the end, he half-carried him up the two remaining stairways to the place where Boromir still slept. Two healers bustled in to take over; they lowered him onto the bed, now pulled away from Boromir’s cot and made him lay back on the pillows; his limbs seemed to be made of lead. Theodred found himself scolded in Sindarin, much as he’d frequently been scolded by his old nurse at Meduseld, at least, their tone held the same note of exasperation in the voice. Suddenly, his reserves of energy seemed to become completely depleted. He shook his head as the urge to sleep came over him, but to no real avail. He felt weak as a kitten and barely protested when he had his boots taken off his feet. A goblet of water was held to his lips and though grateful to quench his thirst – he again suspected ‘…it must be something in the water’ as his eye-lids drooped and closed.
He woke under a blanket; they’d taken off his tunic, but left his other clothing, and just covered him loosely. No one was with them; he looked across at Boromir, still neatly arranged with painful tidiness. He staggered out of the bed and pushed it up against Boromir’s, then lay down again on his side. Quietly, he began to talk to him about the talking tree Boromir had missed, the things he’d spoken about with Haldir, Lindir, and the others, what the sling had felt like as he rushed towards the ground. He ran his fingers over Boromir’s hair, mussing it, curling it around his fingers as he spoke. Wanting the comfort of bodily contact, he cuddled up closer to the sleeping man, put his arm across him, and spoke quietly to him about everything he had seen, thought, felt, done, since Boromir had collapsed in the boat.
Théo thought that he might have dozed for a while in between speaking, but he wasn’t really sure. A healer returned with a jug of well-watered wine. He handed Théodred a goblet, then propped Boromir up to drink a few drops of the watered wine. When he had left them, Théo held Boromir’s hand and kept talking, stroking the man’s fingers and palm, raising it now and again to his lips. The healer came back later with a bowl of stew and bread for Théodred’s evening meal. He swung his legs out of bed and sat up to eat it, beginning to find that his throat ached from talking so much. Afterwards he stood up and walked around to force his muscles to work, before he went back to Boromir and lay beside him. The healer collected the empty bowl, seeing Théo dozing again; he checked Boromir, and left a shielded lantern behind on the floor beside them.
Théo opened his eyes; he realise how dark it had gotten. It felt strange here, unreal – he felt cut off from the outside world; it seemed there was only he and Boromir and the noise of rustling leaves. He gathered Boromir into his arms the best he could, trying to rearrange him so that he looked as if he slept naturally, and then lay back to listen to the night sounds. There were some very far off sounds, that he couldn’t make out – howling wolves maybe? Or was it just the creaking of old branches – Fangorn always seemed to make noises like no other wood did; now he could just about hear a very low, droning, booming noise, so low it made his ears itch. They would have to leave here very soon, he thought, he had no idea how, but he was sure something would make itself known…
In his dreams, he and Boromir cantered across the plains of Rohan before they stopped under leafy green trees by a lively stream. There they dismounted and sat down on the rough grass in the shade under the trees and talked… He couldn’t say what about, but he saw Boromir look slightly puzzled as if he strained to hear. Boromir’s gaze wandered, so Théo tried to speak more loudly, but the rustle of the many leaves drowned him out, and though he knew he spoke, even he couldn’t hear himself speaking. Then he took Boromir’s hand in his and clasped it tightly, looking hard into his disengaged eyes, willing him to be able to read his lips – and just as he thought Boromir began to actually see and understand what he was trying to say to him… Théo woke up.
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.