28. Sweet Sorrow
Haldir looked at the elleth beside him. The colours on her cheeks were gone and they were cold to his touch once more. Haldir stroked her bountiful belly. His ion would move around ever so often when he caressed his naneth's belly. Haldir loved the feel of a small elfling moving inside her. Now all he wanted was for her to move herself. He kissed the top of her head and then brushed his lips against hers. She was still breathing. Her breathing was calm as if she was sleeping.
He stood up from bed and walked towards the windows. He peered outside. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining bright and the breeze coaxed the flowers to dance in its wave. Haldir sighed as his sight caught the form of two elves, with their little iell. It was one of the maids from Thranduil's court. An ellon there was also together with her. What a happy family, Haldir thought. He watched the ellon spun his iell around followed by the sound of mirth and joy. He wanted that. No, he wants it still. He turned around and looked at Calavénë. How he hopes that she would rouse now more than ever...
Orophin looked at the mighty peaks of the mountain. He was charged with the duty to lead his group to the northern region of Middle Earth were stood the formidable Ered Mithrin. They had just descended from the second highest peak and now were climbing up towards the highest point on the mountain range. Orophin led the group of wardens with caution for if they were to follow the wrong path, they would be in Withered Heath, were dwelled the dragons. It was an unnecessary setback that he does not want to experience. He looked up at the enormous white tower of rocks before him. The sun shone brightly making it even harder to see their way.
For two months they hiked, first to the Mountains of Angmar and then to the Mount Gundabad. Before Ered Mithrin they ventured to Mount Gram but with each passing day, they still could not find this Crescent Bloom. Orophin was beginning to doubt that this flower even existed. But one fine day what he found crushed his doubts aside. He found a small seedling growing from beneath the snow. It was as Gandalf described the plant but alas there was no flower. Nevertheless Orophin, now with renewed faith wanted to find this flower and return to Mirkwood as soon as possible.
Mebedir sat down upon the smooth rock, taking a break from their strenuous climb. His task was to lead his group to the west where stood the Misty Mountains. He and his group had spent the first month scaling the mountain range in hopes that they would find this Crescent Bloom. They passed over Moria and then down towards Nimrodel and then upwards yet again towards Orthanc. They had encounters with Orcs and what was left of Saruman's supporters. The Valar saw it fit to spare the lives of each and every warden.
Today they reached the Gap of Rohan before venturing to Ered Nimrais where the memories of the Battle of Helm's Deep were still fresh and new. Mebedir looked on as he saw the tips of the White Mountains. With a month long of nothing but disappointment, Mebedir hoped that this time perhaps Ered Nimrais would surprise them with the blessed discovery. If not then perhaps, the mountains of Druwaith Iaur would show them mercy and hand over the protected rarity. Mebedir glanced over towards his group, "Take rest. We move out again in one hour. Ered Nimrais would not be so merciful..."
Rumil stood atop the boulder on highest peak of Ered Engrin. The Iron Mountains lived up true to its name. It was not an easy climb for his group. After the Mountains of Mirkwood and then Erebor, they thought that the task of conquering Ered Engrin would be of no thought. But how Rumil was wrong! The wind blew at top speed and the snowstorms were harsh and cold. They could not travel at nights sometimes and this hindered the search for the Crescent Bloom. Rumil scanned the area ahead of them. There were still two mountain tops to search and then they would be done. He could only hope that the flower would be at one of those mountains.
He turned around and gazed at the patch of green that would be Mirkwood. How was Haldir? How was he coping? More importantly, how was Calavénë? Was she improving or deteriorating? Rumil could not bear to think of the worse. He did not want the wonderful elleth all had come to love to fade away. She was the only one who succeeded in turning Haldir into a sensible and affectionate ellon. He was also eagerly awaiting the arrival of his nephew. He would be the one to complete Haldir's heart. He would be the source of joy and mirth for all of them. Their naneth would have been proud to see that her eldest had finally settled down with a family in tow. Rumil jumped down from the boulder and addressed his group, "Move out. We must hurry before another snowstorm come upon us."
Haldir sat on one of the plush chairs in his room. His gaze never left Calavénë's body. He watched her breathing intently, counting every heaving movement. He ran his hand through his hair. The healers came by this morning. It is as they feared; the elfling in her womb has reached a stage where it would survive if it was to be delivered. They also informed him that Calavénë's womb might need to be cut open to allow the birth since she was not conscious to deliver it herself. Upon hearing this Lady Galadriel who was with him immediately contacted Lord Elrond for his assistant. According to the Lady, he has departed sometime around noon and would arrive in five days time.
Haldir felt helpless. There was nothing he could do to help Calavénë and his ion. He wanted to perform the enchantment again so that he would be able to talk to her but the Lady of Light forbade it. She told him that if he were to enter the realm of souls again it could trap him there forever. Haldir obeyed for the thought of his unborn ion's well being was first on his mind. He looked at Calavénë again. The love he has for her inside him could not even save her. What was the point in loving then, he thought.
"Love should not have a point henn. Love should only be love... an unconditional state of being where nothing else matters and everything else become as important."
Haldir spun around and saw Lady Galadriel entering the room. Haldir stood up and bowed to her, "My Lady. I did not hear you..."
Galadriel smiled, "I can see that your mind is preoccupied Haldir."
Haldir sighed, "It has been two months my lady and yet there is no news. Am I to give up hope now? Relinquish the faith and love I have for her? Surrender her to the Halls of Mandos?"
Galadriel approached the distraught ellon, "No, henn. It is during this time, faith plays an important role. Do not give in to despair. Your ion will need you to be strong."
Haldir shook his head, "That is just it, my lady. I do not want my ion to need just me. I want him to need his naneth as well as his ada. I cannot raise him alone..."
Galadriel held Haldir's face, "And yet you have raised two of your brothers when your parents sailed for Valinor. You should give yourself more credit, Haldir."
Haldir sat down, "Why, my Lady? Why is Eru testing me thus far? What have I done to deserve this? When my parents left us for Valinor I said nothing for I understood the pain both felt. But I am here for Calavénë. Why does she choose not to see it?"
Galadriel looked at him with soft eyes, "She is still very young Haldir, yet to experience this earth and survive. It is unfortunate for her to have experienced grief the most. Being as young as she is, she did not see past the hurt where love lies. Tis' not her fault and nor is it yours. Perhaps Eru and the Valar have something in store for the both of you. Come... Let us see to the arrangements for Lord Elrond's arrival."
Haldir nodded and walked out of the room with Galadriel. Before he left, he glanced back to the sleeping body on the bed. She was still breathing and with a slightly eased mind, Haldir left to help with the preparations.
Two days before...
The stars lighted the skies and it was a magnificent view. They glowed and provided the needed light for Orophin and his group of wardens to travel at night. They were nearing the top of Ered Mithrin and Orophin had high hopes. The climb up to the top was not made easy. The winds blew strong and rain became hail. One of his wardens broke his ankle due to the fall he had earlier. Orophin had to leave a number of wardens behind to care for the injured soldier.
They climbed higher and the moon looked brighter. Never has Orophin seen such beauty outside of Lorien. It was a contrast to the Golden Woods where everything was honey coloured and brown. On Ered Mithrin everything was white and fluffy. He looked ahead and could see a small cave. The wardens could rest there before continuing through the night. They scaled the mountain higher and higher each day but so far still no Crescent Bloom. Orophin took his canteen and drank the chilled water in it. They were running low on supplies and the expedition was on a brink of failure if they do not find this flower soon.
He tipped the canteen to his mouth and drank in earnest. Orophin closed his eyes, relishing the feel of the cold liquid down his throat. Playful sparkling light caught his lidded eyes. He opened them and searched for the source. He turned around looking at the snow but saw nothing. His gaze travelled further to the ice wall near the mountain. He approached it. A smile formed on his face as his gaze fell upon the wondrous Crescent Bloom!
Orophin was beside himself with joy. He knelt down and touched the petals of the flower. It was delicate and it was sparkly. Blue petals with purple core, just like Gandalf said. He took out his knife and carefully cut the delicate plant. He turned around and shouted to one of his wardens, "Bring me the chest! I have found it!"
There were joyous shouts and some warden came close to see the elusive flower. Orophin gently lifted the Crescent Bloom and placed it the chest. He felt an overwhelming sense of relief as he closed the lid of the chest. He looked at his wardens, "We must descend now. It would take us almost a week to reach Mirkwood. We must hurry for Calavénë's life depends on this treasure we carry."
The wardens nodded to their leader and began preparing their gear for the climb down Ered Mithrin. Orophin looked up at the sky, "Praise Eru for giving me the chance to find one of your delightful creations. Now bless us with the speed to reach Mirkwood in time." Orophin took out one of his jewel encrusted pins and laid it on the spot where the Crescent Bloom grew, "A token of my appreciation to Ered Mithrin..." With a final glance to the majestic mountain top, Orophin and his group hurried down towards Mirkwood.
Legolas sat near the bed where Calavénë lay. He was in charge of looking after her while Haldir was with Lady Galadriel waiting for Lord Elrond to arrive. He looked at her with affectionate eyes and stroked her cold cheeks. He sighed. This was not what he wanted for her when he first told her to tell Haldir what she felt. Never in a million years would he thought things would escalate this far. He sat there quietly thinking of the days they spent together in Lorien. How lively and full of life she was. Everything Legolas told her seemed to fascinate her.
He still remembered the day he told her to express her feelings. Deep in his heart, he regretted telling her that. If he did not edge her on, perhaps this might not have happened. He sighed and stroked her cheeks again. He bent down and kissed her temple, whispering, "Return to us, pen vuin. Forgive me..."
He lifted his head and was surprised to see Haldir standing by the door. His friend gave him a warm smile, looking at the both of them. Legolas smiled back, "I take it Lord Elrond has arrived?"
Haldir nodded, "Yes, he is settling in before coming to see Calavénë. Legolas, can I ask something?"
Legolas looked at his friend bearing a confused expression, "You know you can. What is it mellon nin?"
Haldir sat down on the bed beside him, "Do you love her?"
Legolas smiled, "I do... but not in the way you love her Haldir..."
Haldir looked down at his feet, hesitating to ask the next question, "If you do not feel the way I do, how could you have proposed to her and offered to marry her?"
Legolas sighed. These questions were bound to resurface, "I love her as a gwathel, Haldir. But when I found her she was distraught, sick even. Some elves have made it hard for her to live, tormenting her because she was to be an unwed naneth. I could not bear to see it. As for marrying her without love, I was certain I could learn to love her the way you do in time. As you may know, it is not hard to fall in love with her."
Haldir nodded. It was certainly not hard to fall in love with her. Even early on, Haldir felt drawn and fascinated by this elleth. She was one of a kind, feisty and passionate, hard and caring but most of all, loving and forgiving for Haldir knew he had many faults and yet she found it in her heart to continue loving and forgiving him. Had he only seen this earlier on, perhaps they would not be in this situation.
Haldir stroked Calavénë's ankle. Her feet were cold as well. He rubbed higher, wanting to provide warmth to her. As he rubbed, strange fluid coated his finger. He raised his hand and saw what it was, "Blood..."
Panic rose inside him when he lifted the hem of her gown and saw that blood had pooled in between her legs. Haldir looked at Legolas, "Legolas... What...?"
Legolas looked at him, "Stay here. I will get Lord Elrond and the healers."
Haldir nodded and went to Calavénë's side. She felt colder than she did before. He held her, rocking her body back and forth, "Meleth... stay with me... Stay with me..."
Moments later Lord Elrond and the healers came into the room. He nodded to Haldir and immediately went to Calavénë, "She is in labour. The child is ready to come out but there is no way we could do this naturally. Haldir, if you do not wish to see her this way, you should leave. I have no other way than to cut her open."
Haldir shook his head, "No. I want to stay here..."
Elrond nodded, "Very well. If you want to stay here you might as well be useful. Go get some hot water and some fresh linen."
Haldir nodded and left the room. Elrond gave one of his healers a vial of potion, "Pour this down her mouth. It will help ease pain."
The healer did as told and soon Haldir returned with the hot water and the extra linens. He watched as Elrond placed his tools in the hot water and spread the linen beneath her legs. He looked at Haldir, "I need you to remove her clothing and cover her upper body with the linen."
Haldir nodded and approached Calavénë. He lifted her gown and tied her hair. He gently placed the linen to cover her modesty. Lord Elrond looked at both Legolas and Lady Galadriel who just joined them, "Legolas, naneth... I do not wish to turn you away from this room but we have enough people here. Go to the entrance and await the arrival of Orophin. Gandalf told me he had received news of the Crescent Bloom. We will need the potion as soon as the child is delivered."
Both of them nodded and left the room. Haldir walked to Elrond's side, "What now my lord?"
Elrond looked at the anxious Marchwarden, "Stay by her side. Do not let her lose hope. Talk to her."
Haldir nodded and sat by her side, holding her hand, "Be strong melethril. It will all be over soon. The Crescent Bloom has been found. Soon you will be with me and our ion."
Elrond took a small knife like instrument and placed it on her belly just slightly lower than her belly button. He took a deep breath and ran the knife across her belly. Haldir could see blood seeping through the line and he closed his eyes. He continued whispering to her, hoping that his voice would ease her pain.
Elrond repeated the same action again and now he was inside her. He could see her womb and took a different knife to cut her open. He carefully pressed the knife on her womb and dragged it across her belly. Water and copious fluid flowed out from her womb and he could see the little elfling inside. He was turning a shade of blue and Elrond knew the little elfling was gasping for air. He gently put his hand in and lifted the child by its bottom, careful not to harm its head.
Haldir's eyes widened in fear and wonder as he watched his ion being pulled out from Calavénë. The little body was covered in blood and as Lord Elrond turned him around, Haldir could see that his lips were blue. He watched as the skilled healer passed the little elfling to the others to tend to. Haldir's attention was pulled back towards Calavénë as he felt her hand slackened beneath his grasp. He looked at her and felt her cheeks, "Calavénë! No! Fight my love! Fight!"
Elrond continued his attempt to save her. He closed her back up and sewed the open wound. He cleaned her with the warm water and placed some healing poultice on the wounds hoping that it would speed the healing process. He walked up towards Calavénë and poured in her mouth another potion that could help heal her sooner and perhaps strengthens her fea. Haldir watched as Lord Elrond moved from Calavénë towards their ion who was still not crying. Haldir was anxious and scared. Two lives were at stake and he did not know with whom he should stay with. He watched as Lord Elrond rubbed some ointment on his ion and prodded his mouth with his middle finger, administering some medication.
At long last the little elfling wailed out from the cold. Tears of joy fell from Haldir's eyes as he watched his ion wriggled and kicked around. His cries echoed through the room and Haldir looked at Calavénë, "Do you hear that meleth? It is our ion. The very one you carried inside you. Our ion..."
Calavénë did not move. Her breathing was shallow but calm. Her cheeks remained cold and stiff. Lord Elrond approached the two of them and placed the elfling in Haldir's arms. He looked at Haldir with sad eyes, "I have done all I can for her body but for fea... We still need the potion..."
Haldir nodded. Tears fell from his eyes in earnest but he made no sound. He held his little ion in his arms, bringing him close to his naneth, "Ion nin, this is your nana. She loves you very much and she made sure you arrived here in time. Look at her..."
The elfling looked at his mother for a long time. Haldir's heart broke. If this was to be the last time his naneth would be with him, at least his ion had seen her. He held her close to her body. Haldir could see wet spots on her chest and when his ion cradled closer to her breasts he knew it was her milk. With a heavy heart he lifted the linen and placed their ion close to her body. The elfling suckled hungrily at his naneth's breast, clinging for dear life. Haldir could not see this and closed his eyes. The sound of their ion suckling and the thought that this could be the last time he will have his naneth's milk broke Haldir.
Galadriel watched from the doorway with a heavy heart. She knew Orophin was close but would he arrive in time? Tears fell from her eyes as she watched the sad scene before her. How much Haldir stood to lose if the potion could not be administered in time. She closed her eyes and prayed to Eru to spare Calavénë's life...
Legolas stood watch near the entrance. He was anxious and Gandalf as well. Lady Galadriel had received word from Orophin and that could only mean he had passed the borders of Mirkwood. Legolas paced back and forth glancing at the gates. He stopped when he saw Lady Galadriel approaching them, "His ion has been born..."
Legolas' heart sank. If the elfling has been delivered that could only mean Calavénë was nearing her end. He looked at Lady Galadriel, "How is Haldir?"
Galadriel shook her head but said nothing. Legolas understood this and felt for his mellon. Just then they could hear hooves stomping the ground. Legolas ran outside and saw Orophin riding as fast as he can to reach the palace. He stopped in front of Legolas and dismounted, "Las, here it is, the flower."
Legolas took the chest and opened the lid. Indeed, the Crescent Bloom was in it. He looked up at Orophin, "Well done, Fin! Now go to Haldir. He needs you. You are an uncle now..."
Orophin was filled with a sense of joy and dread at the same time. If the elfling had been born then they needed to hurry. Legolas watched as Orophin ran towards Haldir's room. He went to Gandalf who opened the box to inspect the flower. He looked at Legolas, "We must hurry. Come, you must assist me."
Legolas and Gandalf hurried to the healing hall to begin preparing the potion. Legolas took the flower and sliced while Gandalf pounded the core until it became a fine powder. He took some of the healing suspension and sprinkled the powder inside. The liquid turned a deep violet and he continued to work on it.
Orophin came to Haldir's room. He watched from afar as his gwanur held Calavénë in one hand and in the other his little ion. Tears brimmed in his eyes as he watched the grief stricken Haldir pulled his ion away from Calavénë. The elfling seemed content by the satiated feeling his naneth's milk had provided him. Haldir placed Calavénë back on to the bed and covered her body with the linen and coverlet. Orophin knocked on the door, "Gwanur, may I come in?"
Haldir lifted his head and saw Orophin. A sad smile formed on his face, "You have returned! Come in!"
Orophin entered the room. It still smelt of blood. He walked closer to the three of them and saw his little nephew. He was a beautiful creature. Soft round face with hair as golden as the sun. He stood beside Haldir and gently stroked the elfling's cheek with one finger. His nephew smiled and cooed at his touch. Orophin looked at Haldir, "What have you named him?"
Haldir looked up at his youngest gwanur, "Mallen Maethor. It was the name both of us agreed on..."
Orophin was surprised, "How? You did not have the chance to speak to her."
Haldir smiled, "It came to me in my dreams one day... I am sure it is the name she would have picked out."
Just then Calavénë made a gasping sound that left Haldir and Orophin in a state of shock. He placed his ion in Orophin's arms and made his way to the bed, "Calavénë... Calavénë! Hold on! Fight meleth! Fight!"
The gurgling and gasping continued and his ion began to wail again. Haldir was at wits end. He looked at Orophin, "Take him out! I do not want him to see this! TAKE HIM OUT!!"
Orophin nodded and left the room. Moments later he could hear Haldir shout, "LEGOLAS! GANDALF!"
Legolas heard the call and quickly made his way towards Haldir's room. The potion was ready and now he hoped that it would work. He entered the room and passed the small vial to Haldir. Haldir uncorked it and gently placed the opening to Calavénë's mouth and poured it in. He waited for a moment for any reaction. His heart pounding in his chest. He closed his eyes and settled her temple on his cheeks, "Wake up... Wake up melethril..."
Haldir pulled away and saw a pair of fluttering eyes. Calavénë was breathing and she called out to him. He looked at her and saw those eyes again, "Calavénë! Thank Eru!"
Calavénë looked up at the warrior holding her. She pulled him closer and kissed him. His lips felt warm and soft. She could taste the tears on his mouth.
Haldir held her and deepened his kiss. He was happy beyond words. Without breaking the kiss he stroked her hair and her cheeks. Haldir froze. She was not responding. He broke the kiss and looked at her. Her eyes were closed and her chest stopped heaving. What was happening? Did she not just kiss him? Did he not hear her call out his name? He looked at her once again. He shook her body, "Calavénë..." He shook her again, "Calavénë!!"
Legolas fell to his knees. They were too late. Gandalf came by a few seconds later and when he saw the lifeless body in Haldir's arms, he knew it was too late.
Haldir held the lifeless shell, "No... NO!! You cannot leave me! No! Come back! COME BACK!"
Legolas had tears in his eyes as well as Gandalf. Galadriel came through the doors and gasped when she saw Calavénë in Haldir's arms, dead. She approached Gandalf, "How can this be? We administered the potion."
Gandalf sighed, "Mayhap we were too late..."
Orophin stood outside the door and wept. He looked at the elfling in his arms. Tears flowed down like rain from his eyes, as he continued to hear his gwanur's cry and pleas. How would these two continue without her? How would Haldir survive this life without the love of his life? It was sad to even think that Mallen Maethor would grow up not knowing his naneth. The wonderful and loving elleth that has touched and changed their lives for ever...
Ion – son
Iell – daughter
Pen vuin – dear one
Meleth – love
Melethril – lover (fem)
Gwanur – brother
Gwather – sister
Naneth/nana – mother
Ada - father
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.