31. Happy Birthday My Son
Haldir woke up to the sound of shrieking his ion made. Mae was jumping up and down the bed and landed square on his chest. Haldir grunted and sat up, "Mae, be still... You hurt me..."
The little elfling sat down on the bed and slowly scooted towards his ada, "Ada... It is my... betting... betegging day! Wake up! I want presents!"
Haldir shook his head. He had a rough night. After the dream he had, he could only managed a few hours of sleep. His reveries were haunted by the sound of his nana calling out to him. Haldir pulled Mae closer to his body, "Patience ion nin. First we must get ready and visit your nana. Would you like that?"
Mae sucked on the toy horse he brought into the room, "Yes. I want to show nana my horse."
Haldir smiled and got out of bed, holding Mae in his arms, "But first, we must bathe. Today I'll take you to the bathing pool."
Mae's eyes widened in excitement, "The pool! Let us go ada. Tolo hi, ada!"
Haldir pulled a tunic over his body and took some fresh clothing for him and his little warrior. He scooped Mae up in his arms and the both of them made their way to the bathing pool. For many days now Mae had been complaining about the tub. Ever since he saw Rumil bathing in the pool, that subject had become a constant debate with Haldir. He wanted the big pool, said Mae. But it was too deep and as much as Haldir loves his gwanur, he did not trust them to take Mae there. Not with the other ellyth around of course.
Mallen Maethor was especially talkative today. He described everything he saw to Haldir. Haldir could only nod and laugh at his antics. Truth be it, Haldir was too was distracted. He looked around the pool. This was where he spied on Calavénë the first time. He remembered her shape and every curve on her body. Soon the pool came into view and his ion shrieked and yelled, "The pool! Ada!"
Mae wiggled around in Haldir's arms. He wanted to be let down but Haldir held him tighter. If it was up to him, Mae would have jumped straight into the deep end of the pool. Haldir set their things down and gently stepped into the warm pool. Haldir could see the anticipation in Mae's eyes as he watched his feet dangling above the water. Haldir laughed and gently settled him down in it. Mae closed his eyes and giggled, "Ada! It is warm! Not like the tub!"
Haldir rolled his eyes. The tub was always filled with warm water. Only it would take Haldir almost an hour to chase his ion down and get him to take his bath by which time, the water would have cooled down. Haldir sat down on the stone bench inside the pool and placed his son on his knee. Mae was excited and dove into the water, submerging his little head. He came up again gasping for air with droplets of water on his long lashes. Haldir laughed and pulled his son closer to him.
He shook his head, "Do not do that meleth. You will swallow the water if you do. Let me wash your hair."
Mae splashed around but sat still enough for his ada to wash his golden hair. Haldir looked at the little head. He would let nothing befall his little warrior. He would protect him with his life if need be. Mae was enjoying his touch and the splashing stopped as the little elfling pointed into something in the distance, "Ada! Look! Uncle Legolas, Uncle Fin and Uncle Rumil!"
Haldir looked up and indeed saw his gwadeir and friend walking towards the pool. Orophin waved at the both of them while Rumil and Legolas smiled. Mae was now wriggling in Haldir's arms again, wanting to be set free, "Be still Mallen Maethor or I will not let you have cake later."
Mae pouted and frowned, "Ada..."
Haldir raised an eyebrow, "I mean it. Behave..."
Mae continued to frown and crossed his arms across his chest. Legolas saw this and shook his head. The apple definitely did not fall far from the tree. Mae was stubborn and always had his way. But there was also kindness and warmth in the little elfling. He was the perfect balance of both Haldir and Calavénë. Rumil waved enthusiastically to the both of them. He was excited today, because he had bought a magnificent gift for his nephew. Orophin disapproved but he was sure Haldir and Mae would adore it.
Haldir smiled at the three as they approached the steps to the pool, "Suilad... What brings the three of you here?"
Orophin smiled and slipped into the pool, "We went by your talan and found it empty. I figured you would be here since you have been talking about taking Mae here to bathe in the pool. What is wrong with him?" Orophin looked at his pouting nephew.
Haldir laughed, "Nothing. He misbehaved is all."
Rumil jumped into the pool and splashed everyone. Mae giggled and laughed, reaching out for his fun and silly uncle, "Uncle Rumil! Take me! I want to jump too."
Haldir held his ion tighter and glared at Rumil, "Do not be of bad example to him gwanur. It is bad enough that Fin too spoils him."
Orophin protested, "Me? What did I do?"
Haldir sneered, "What did you do? Do you not remember the time you overindulged him with sweets? He stayed up all night and tired me out."
Orophin laughed and took his nephew in his arms, "I remember. Those were really good sweets were they not Mae?"
Mae nodded in earnest, "They were! I want some more!"
Legolas laughed and pinched his plump cheeks, "There will be more at your celebration today. Now behave or your ada will cancel everything."
The five of them continued their baths, talking about the celebrations and Mae's gifts. Every now and then Mae would dip his head into the water and came up gasping for air. He kept the four ellon amused with his antics and infectious giggles.
Back at their talan Haldir dressed his little warrior in golden brown tunic with dark brown leggings. He tied a braid signifying his one year of life in his hair. The little toddler sat eagerly in front of the mirror eyeing the braid that was being tied. Every now and then he would try to touch it and Haldir would swat his hand away. Soon Mae was ready for his begetting celebration. But before that Haldir would take him to the Garden of Memories.
He held his ion in his arms and walked towards the garden. Mae looked here and there not recognizing the path, "Ada, where are we going?"
Haldir smiled weakly at his ion, "We are going to nana's final resting place. I thought it is time you see it and understand."
Mae stayed silent the whole way. He knew Haldir was feeling sad and he did not want to tread on dangerous waters. A wrong question could cause more pain to his ada. Not long after they came to a clearing. Mae saw the huge Mallorn tree and behind the tree he could see the Anduin. He looked here and there for any signs of a burial ground but when he could not find one, he tapped Haldir's face, "Ada... where is it?"
Haldir pointed to a spot where a Nephredil plant thrived. The plant was almost as tall as Mae himself and there were beautiful white blooms on the plant. The area was serene and the rays of sunshine flowed down from in between the Mallorn's leaves. Haldir set Mae down and held his little hand. Together they walked closer to the plant. Haldir knelt beside it and brushed the earth beneath it, "Calavénë..."
Almost immediately tears fell from his eyes. The pain he had inside felt new and raw. A year has made no difference to the burden he felt. He pulled his ion in his arms and kissed the top of his head, "Mae... this is where your nana is buried. Since you are getting older now, if whenever you feel like talking to her, you can ask me to bring you here."
Mae looked up at his ada and then back to the ground. His words came out like whispers, "Nana nin..." He reached out and touched the white flower. Both stayed like that for a long time.
Haldir took a deep breath and turned to look at his little warrior, "I want to tell you something. When you grow older, you will hear certain things about your nana. Her being a bad elleth. Believe not in those words. Your nana was a wonderful and loving elleth. I wronged her and lost her. If I could do it all again, I would have changed the way I acted towards her but now... it's too late."
Mae listened to Haldir's words, not quite understanding, "What do you mean to say ada?"
Haldir kissed Calavénë's only living memory, "What I mean to say is this, never let pride and anger rule you. Love is the only true emotion. Follow your heart and always live for the moment. When you are older, I will tell you the tale of your nana, how she had to live without me and how she carried you alone..."
Haldir could no longer continue. Emotions welled up in him and he could feel his strength disappear. This was not the way an ion sees his ada. Mae stood up and held his face. He kissed Haldir's nose and cheeks, "My strong ada... I love you... and naneth..."
Haldir smiled at the little elfling and picked him up, "Come. It is time for your celebrations. Before the feast we should go and meet our family. Your grandfather and grandmother would be very happy to see you."
Mae nodded and held on tightly to his ada. As they walked away, he turned around and looked at the grave one more time. Mae smiled and waved, "Cuio vae, nana..."
Haldir sat on the plush chair while holding Mallen Maethor in his lap. They were waiting for Laugoneth to join them before proceeding to the venue. Thand looked at his eager grandson. His golden hair had one single braid in it. Mae looked here and there, rocking back and forth. Every so often he would lean into his ada's broad chest and pulled his hair, wanting him to come closer. Then he would whisper something in Haldir's ears.
Haldir looked at his ion disapprovingly. He shook his head and reminded Mae to behave. Moments later Laugoneth walked into the room wearing a beautiful lilac gown. Haldir stood up and embraced her, "Nana... You look wonderful."
Laugoneth beamed, "Thank you Haldir. You look very handsome as well and look at my grandson! Very fitting, my golden warrior!"
Mae held out his arms, wanting to go to his grandmother. Haldir held him tighter, "Mae! Behave!"
Mae frowned, on the verge of tears, "I want to go to grandmother. Ada is mean!"
Laugoneth shook her head and took the little elfling in her arms, "Ada has been mean to you? What did he do?"
Tears fell from Mae's eyes as he told his grandmother of his ada's meanness, "This morning he said I cannot have cake. Now he said I cannot have presents. Tis my... my... betting... betgetting day... If nana was here, she would let me eat all the cake and have all the presents..."
The three elves in the room were stunned by Mae's words. Haldir looked at his ion who looked distressed and miserable. He reached out to him but Mae turned his face and hid in Laugoneth's hair. Haldir called out to him, "Ion nin..."
Mae ignored him. His promise to keep his ion happy today was broken. Perhaps he was being too strict. He was after all only one year old. Old Marchwarden's habits die hard. He tried again, this time stroking Mae's hair, "Forgive me... I promise I will be nicer today..."
Mae continued to sob but turned to look at his ada. Haldir held out his hand, "I will let you eat all the cake. How is that?"
Mae looked at him unconvincingly, "All the cake?"
Haldir nodded, "Yes. All the cake..."
Mae pressed on, "Presents?"
Haldir chuckled, "Presents too. Truce?"
Mae smiled and went into Haldir's arms, "Truce. I want five pieces of cake and then... I want candy and then I want honey cakes then ada, I want 'raspbabby' and then..."
Thand and Laugoneth shook their heads. Mae certainly hit the right button today. But in a way both knew that their little grandson have been missing his naneth lately. These past weeks he had been asking all sorts of questions about her. Thand figured it was about time and he and his hervess were glad they could have been here to answer all his curiosities.
The venue was beginning to fill up with guests. Legolas had arrived together with Nyonna and Haldir could see Gimli and the Hobbits. He walked up to them with little Mae in his arms, "Gimli son of Gloin! I am happy to see you here and you too little Hobbits."
Mae stared at Gimli. His heavy beard scared him and when he spoke, Mae hid his face, "So, this is the birthday boy! Greetings... I am Gimli."
Mae looked at him, "Gimli..." He turned to his ada and whispered in his, "Ada... what is he?"
Haldir laughed, "He is a dwarf. He is a good friend of Uncle Legolas."
Gimli laughed, "Indeed I am. Here, I have a gift for you."
Mae shrieked and stretched out his hands, "Thank you! I think I am going to like you Gimli! What is it?"
Haldir shook his head, "Mae, is not polite to ask something like that. We shall open the gifts later. Now I want you to meet these special friends of mine." Haldir turned towards the Hobbits, "This is Samwise and these two are Merry and Pippin."
Mae smiled, "They are very short for elves ada..."
Merry laughed, "We are not elves little one. We're Hobbits. Four we were friends to your father but one has sailed with Lady Galadriel."
Sam nodded, "You would have loved him my boy. Frodo was his name. He was a great friend of your mother's. Well, enough of that. These are our gifts."
Haldir took them, "Thank you my friends. Thank you for coming. Enjoy the feast!"
Thand patted Haldir's shoulder, "It is time for the cake..."
Mae's eyes lit up, "CAKE!"
They gathered around the three tiers, white almond cake and sang praises for Eru and wished Mae happiness and health. The elfling eyed the cake like a hungry wolf and when all the songs were done, he kept on shouting, "Cake! Cake! Ada! You promised!"
Haldir held his ion in one hand and took the knife, "Patience Mae..."
He took a plate and placed two pieces of cake in it. He sat Mae down near Laugoneth and let him have his cake. Mae gobbled down on the cake, smearing icing and frosting all over his face. Those present laughed as they watched the precious creature attacked his cake. Just then Rumil came, announcing his arrival, "Rumil is here! Mae's favourite uncle bearing the most magnificent gift. Behold!"
Haldir looked at the area Rumil was pointing. He was speechless. He did not know whether he was gladdened or angered. Mae looked up and shrieked his approval, "Pony!"
Mae was about to run towards the brown colt when Legolas picked him up, "Not so fast. You cannot ride him yet pen vuin. You are too small."
Mae shook his head, "No, I am not. I have a horse too. At home..."
Orophin laughed, "That is a wooden horse. It is different. Now, let us look at how your uncle Rumil is scolded by your ada..."
Haldir walked closer to Rumil, "Have you lost your mind? You bought a colt for my one year old ion who could not even walk properly yet."
Rumil rolled his eyes, "Well your ion will grow sooner or later. He might as well have a horse when he is able to ride it. I did not say he could ride it now."
Haldir shook his head, "You just cost me a month's sleep and a month's crying. If Mae throws a tantrum because of this, you will babysit for me."
"Rumil will gladly do as you say, Marchwarden..."
Haldir turned around to find Aragorn, Arwen and Lord Celeborn walking towards them, "My lord Celeborn. I am happy you have come. Your Majesty..." Haldir bowed down before Aragorn and Arwen. Lord Celeborn shook Haldir's hand and joined Thand and Laugoneth.
Aragorn stepped forward and embraced the ellon, "Haldir! No need to be so formal! It is good to see you. My congratulations on your son's begetting."
Haldir patted Aragorn's shoulder, "Thank you Aragorn." He turned to address Arwen and saw her glowing with her belly swollen. He then looked back at Aragorn, "My congratulations to you too for your impending fatherhood."
Aragorn laughed and pulled Arwen closer, "Yes... We too will be with a child soon Haldir."
Haldir nodded and took Arwen's arm, "I hope you are taking care of yourself my lady."
Arwen smiled, "I am... Now, where is that ion of yours?"
Haldir pointed to the little golden warrior who was now playing with Orophin and Gimli. Aragorn came up from behind and placed a hand on Haldir's shoulder, "There is no doubting he is your son. He has your face and his hair is as golden as hers. You should be proud Haldir..."
Haldir looked at King Elessar, "I am... I only wish she could have been here to see him..."
Mae yawned and sat slumped against Haldir's chest. They had spent the entire evening opening presents that were given to Mae. Lord Celeborn presented him with a magnificent tunic, embroidered with Mithril and gold. Gimli gave him a steel toy horse and was completed by the Hobbits' gifts, a wooden wagon and a few wooden soldiers. Rumil's present was now tied in the stables, resting. Mae called him dithen cef because its coat was brown and its mane unruly. Legolas presented him with a small bow promising the arrows on his eighth begetting day. But the best gift was from Arwen and Aragorn, a book of poetry written by Calavénë. During the short time Calavénë stayed in Rivendell, she wrote many beautiful compositions. Arwen collected them and bound them in a book.
Mae yawned again and looked up at his ada, "Ada... I am tired. May I go to bed please?"
Haldir laughed, "Bed? You still have two more pieces of cake to eat, the honey cakes your grandmother baked, the sweets Legolas bought and a basket of raspberries... I promised did I not?"
Mae yawned again, "Keep them... I will eat them tomorrow."
Haldir laughed and lifted his son in his arms. He changed him into his sleeping attire and placed him in his cot in the nursery. He looked at his ion, "Do you want to sleep with me tonight?"
Mae stretched and yawned again, "No... You snore when you are wearied."
Haldir smiled and shook his head. He bent down and kissed his ion, "Lend elei, ion nin..."
Mae closed his eyes and hugged the pillows tightly. He brought his thumb to his mouth and sucked. Haldir collected all his gifts and stored them safely. He too was tired and worn out. Mae was a handful today but he was pleased by the way the day turned out. Haldir walked into his room and changed. He slipped under the covers and soon fell fast asleep.
Haldir woke up in a strange place. It was a garden and he soon recognized it as the Garden of Memories. He looked around and saw no one. He walked further, "Anyone out here?"
Haldir spun around and he saw his naneth again, "Nana... I missed you..."
The elleth walked closer to his son and placed her hand on his, "And I, you..."
Haldir smiled at the touch. She felt real, solid. He took the hand to his mouth and kissed it, "Why are you here nana?"
"I have news for you..."
Haldir was confused, "News? What is it?"
The elleth told Haldir to close his eyes and as soon as Haldir did so, images flashed before his eyes; from the first time he met Calavénë up until he watched her funeral. Then new images appeared something he does not remember. Calavénë was playing with Mae in the gardens. Mae was laughing and running around, trying to catch her. More foreign images played in his mind.
He knew the voice but he was afraid to open his eyes. Soft hands caressed his face. Haldir opened his eyes slowly and peered through thick lashes.
Haldir woke up to the sound of thunder rumbling. The window in his room flew open and the shutters banged on the wall. He took a deep breath and looked around his room. The dream felt so real. He felt as if Calavénë would walk in any second. Realizing it was not so, he stood up to check on his ion. Mae was easily frightened by thunders and lightning. He walked to the nursery slowly.
He peered inside and walked closer to the cot. Haldir was surprised to find it empty. Mae was known to climb out from his cot but it was late and where could he have gone to? Haldir ran to his room and searched for him. No sign of his ion. Worry was beginning to take the best of him. Haldir ran towards the kitchen and still no Mae. A flash of light revealed the front door ajar. Haldir ran towards the door and looked outside. There was Mae, at the bottom stairs, climbing down. How did he get down there? Haldir called out to his little warrior, "Mae! Mae!"
The tot seemed not to hear him. He stood up and waddled away from the stairs. Haldir was horrified and he ran to follow him. It was dark and his elven eyes could not clearly make out the form of his ion. Another bright flash in the sky and he saw him. Haldir ran as fast as he could and picked up the little elfling, "Mae! What are you doing here?"
His ion was crying and he held to his ada for dear life, "Nana... ada... nana..."
Haldir was confused, "Nana?"
Thunder roared through the sky. Then he saw the Garden of Memories lit up. There was a blinding light glowing in between the trees. Curiosity got the best of him and with his ion in tow, he walked towards the garden.
The wind was blowing hard and flashes of lightning lighted the sky. He walked closer to the light and when he was close enough he saw that it was shining above Calavénë's grave. As soon as he approached it, the light disappeared. Everything went calm and quiet. Haldir knelt down beside the grave and stroked the Nephredil. His touched seemed to trigger something as he watched the flower glow. Mae was frightened and buried his face in his neck.
The soft glow grew stronger and bigger. Haldir watched as the flower petals opened and a jet of light shot up from it. The light was so bright Haldir had to shield his eyes from it. Soon the bright light died down and Haldir felt his eyes relaxed. Before he had a chance to open his eyes, a voice called out to him.
He knew the voice. But it cannot be! No, it was not possible. He was too scared to open his eyes, not wanting to be disappointed yet again. A soft brush of lips on his own made him open his eyes...
Ion nin – my son
Gwadeir – brothers
Dithen cef – little dirt
Lend elei – sweet dreams
Nana/ naneth – mother
Tolo hi - come on
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.