Legolas was walking through the lower levels of Minas Tirith when he heard the familiar buzz of the inhabitants of Lothlorien coming out of a seedy, smelly, dark tavern.
"Let's not have a sniffle
Let's have a bloody good cry
And always remember the longer you live,
The sooner you will die."*
Legolas's interest was piqued. He stopped and peered inside over the tavern doors, and was hit with the unmistakable smell of rancid sweat, waste, and ale that characterized these kinds of establishments. However foul the smell, it did not even register in the fair elf's mind. His brain was too busy trying to process the sight in front of his eyes: Haldir, the proud Lothlorien March-warden, was sitting on a tavern bench, disheveled and drunk, singing in his rich tenor a bawdy elven song about an elleth and her two lovers. On one knee sat a young tavern wench and on the other a messenger boy.
Legolas bristled at the sight. Some humans already mistrusted elves and Haldir's behavior was gaining a few glares from the brawny men in the tavern. Nor was this a good thing for the reputation of the newly crowned Queen of Gondor.
Elessar's wedding had taken place earlier in the day and the whole city was celebrating. Most of the elves, however, had already retired to their camps outside the city. Yet Legolas was feeling restless. The sea longing was so strong that he had decided he wanted to go into the citadel and have a look at the stars. He had been walking through the lower levels of the city distracted by his thoughts, not really aware of his surroundings, when he had heard the sound of the March-warden's voice.
Legolas sighed, steeling himself against what he knew would be an unpleasant ordeal - Haldir was known for his cantankerous attitude and sharp tongue - and walked into the tavern. All of his hopes for discretion vanished at the sound of Haldir's voice. "Alas, they've sent a nanny to coddle me into good behavior." Legolas suppressed a wince, Haldir's voice had resonated through the tavern and everyone was now staring at him, while the March-warden was busy groping the buttocks of his companions.
Legolas kept his face blank and walked toward the table Haldir and his companions occupied. He motioned for the barmaid and the lad to leave, tossing some coins on the table. The young humans eyed the coins and Legolas resentfully before moving away from their place on Haldir's lap, it seemed they had truly been enjoying themselves.
"We must leave, Haldir," Legolas said in a soft yet commanding voice.
Haldir threw him a sidelong glance and asked, "Why should I listen to stray princelings?"
Legolas bit the inside of his cheek to keep from retorting angrily. He knew Haldir was testing his patience. After a few seconds he said, "I've come here as a friend."
"Wise answer, princeling," Haldir smirked. "I see Thranduil has schooled his son well on the art of diplomacy."
Legolas smiled, bowing his head in acquiescence, it seemed the title of "Princeling" was there to stay. He patted Haldir's shoulder in an affectionate manner. "Let us go up to the citadel and watch the stars."
A flicker of raw pain flashed briefly across Haldir's face, or so Legolas thought. Haldir had schooled his features into their usual haughty mask before throwing some coins on the table and rising. They made their way up the levels of the city; Legolas with the grace and speed of one of the Eldar, Haldir stumbling slightly. After a few minutes Legolas woke from his star-watching induced dreamlike state and turned his eyes to Haldir as he cast his eyes about the city, there was something akin to hatred in those cool pools of gray.
"How does it feel to be the ruler of a realm?" Haldir's question came after a long period of silence. His voice soft and his cadence slow, as if it was costing him greatly to keep his composure.
Legolas's brow furrowed. "You would have to ask that question of my father," he replied. "I am a mere archer."
Haldir snorted incredulously at that reply. "You are a modest, if not deluded, one," he said, giving Legolas an indulgent grin. Suddenly his features turned dark and he added in a bitter whisper, "But then again, he always chose good companionship."
Legolas was about to ask who this person was, but the arrival of the newly wedded king distracted him. "Aragorn!" he exclaimed. What was his friend doing walking in the citadel instead of enjoying the benefits of the marriage bed?
Haldir whipped his head around at the sound of the name and stiffened at the sight of the King. "Mae govannen hir nin," Haldir said. Legolas heard a cold, hurt edge to that simple sentence.
Aragorn bowed his head slightly and then turned to Legolas. "Will you give us a moment, Legolas?" he asked. "There are some things I need to discuss with Haldir."
Legolas frowned. What could Aragorn want to talk about with Haldir? However, it was not his place to question his friend. He bowed and turned to leave but Haldir's hand shot up and grabbed his arm, halting his progress.
"There is nothing you need to tell me that Legolas cannot hear," Haldir spat. Legolas met Haldir's eyes. There was a wild pleading issuing from them. It looked to him as if the proud Galadren was begging him to stay.
Aragorn ran a hand through his hair. He looked disheveled, worn out, "Haldir.." he pleaded.
Haldir turned to face him, a cruel smile playing on his lips. "Why is it that the King of Gondor has strayed away from his marriage bed on the eve of his nuptials?" His tone was taunting, bitter.
Legolas's eyebrow rose in surprise at Haldir's impertinence.
"My lady wife is indisposed," Aragorn answered, his gaze fixed on the paved floor.
Haldir's face turned hard and in a flash he had grabbed Aragorn by the neck of his velvet tunic. "You have dragged enough people into unhappiness. Your place is next to her. It is her whom you chose."
"Unhand him this instant," Legolas warned in the soft, dangerous tone he reserved for the worst of follies.
"Nay Legolas, do not intervene," Aragorn pleaded. Haldir turned murderous eyes toward Legolas but said nothing.
Legolas was frozen into stupor. He could not believe the scene playing in front of his eyes. He watched, fascinated, as the two former lovers settled their differences. There was no doubt in Legolas's mind that they had been lovers. Aragorn's expression was pleading, his eyes caressed Haldir's face with exquisite tenderness, while Haldir's had a hurt, ravenous expression. His lips were only a breath away from Aragorn's.
Haldir stepped back. "Tell me, Elfstone," he brought up one of his hands to caress Aragorn's face, "will you stray from your marriage bed tonight of all nights?"
Legolas opened his mouth to protest, but Haldir had dropped his hand and turned away from them. "Leave, King of Men. Go to your wife and enjoy her charms." He gestured toward the city. "You chose all of this, I am nothing but a humble Galadren." He stopped for a few seconds then added in a broken voice, "How could I ever delude myself thinking you would give up all of this," he waved his hand toward the majestic landscape, "for me."
Aragorn's eyes shone with unshed tears. "I never meant to hurt you, Haldir." Aragorn choked back a sob.
"Yet hurt me you did, stringing me along all these years when you fully intended to take Lord Elrond's daughter as your wife and queen," Haldir whispered, all anger in his features replaced by infinite sadness.
Legolas's eyes widened. So it had been Aragorn. There were wild rumors in Lothlorien about the human that held the March-warden's affections and held him in secrecy. The people of Lothlorien resented the idea of their proud March-warden being kept in secret; he was after all one of the Golden Wood's most deserving sons. Legolas felt uncomfortable being there so he spoke, "I should leave and give you both some privacy."
He bowed gracefully and walked away, but stayed within elven earshot in case things got out of hand between them. They might love each other, but Aragorn had made promises of loyalty and eternal love to the daughter of Elrond and she had forsaken her people in order to follow him. He would not let her bridegroom default on his promises to her, however tragic his love affair with Haldir may seem. Aragorn had made a choice and he needed to abide by it.
As he walked away he heard Aragorn's voice plead, "I had no choice."
Haldir's bitter laugh resonated throughout the courtyard. "Yes, the King of Gondor and his elven consort would be a rip in the illustrious fabric of Gondorian society."
"I made a promise," Aragorn whispered, just loud enough for Legolas to hear, "My mother... she gave up so much."
Haldir groaned. "Tell me no more," he begged, "I know I cannot give you heirs."
"Will you hate me forever?" Aragorn asked, defeated.
Haldir laughed mirthlessly. "I am incapable of doing anything else but love you, Estel. Since the first moment I saw you walk under the golden boughs of Lothlorien."
Legolas turned around, he could not help himself, and watched how Haldir kissed Aragorn hard and fast on the mouth, pouring all his love and passion into that kiss.
Aragorn looked flushed and breathless, Haldir was no better. "Go to her," Haldir begged. "Be happy and live fully." He pushed Aragorn away from him. "I shall purge you from my heart, even if it costs me my life."
Aragorn reached for Haldir but he stepped back and looked at him impassively. "Go."
Defeated, Aragorn nodded and turned around, his reluctant steps taking him deeper and deeper into the courtyard until he was completely out of sight.
Legolas did not know what to do. Should he go and comfort the Galadren? He decided to risk a limb and go to Haldir. the poor March-warden needed someone to talk to. He looked up as he walked closer and saw Haldir standing upon the ledge of the wall. Legolas was too far away to prevent him from jumping so he shouted "Don't!"
Haldir looked into his eyes, "Tell him... tell him I forgive him," he said before stepping gracefully off the ledge.
* Traditional Irish Folk song "Isn't it grand?"
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.