9. Chapter 8 - One Week
The walk back to her chamber was awkward. She did not know what to say to Haldir and it seemed nor did he. So much had happened in the past hour to be put into words. Their actions told them what they felt; at least for Lothestel. There was still a shred of doubt as to what Haldir was feeling. She followed him quietly, lost in her own thoughts. It was constantly like this between the both of them. They seemed to be caught in the extremes of feelings; passionately angry at each other or angrily passionate with one another. She stared at his broad back. Even covered in his wool tunic, Lothestel could see the contours of the muscles of his back. She remembered the few nights they were intimate with one another; she would hold on to his body tightly and she also remembered the warmth and the hardness of his back. It was not wholly unpleasant.
What was wrong with her, she thought to herself. A few hours ago she hated him beyond reasoning and now? All seemed forgotten; erased and replaced by the memories of his kisses and his caresses. For the first time in a long time, Lothestel was happy. Perhaps this twist of fate, throwing them in an arranged marriage was not such a curse. She envisioned herself being happily married with Haldir, raising a family with him and living out their lives together until the end of time. But what was he feeling? The thought of Elwen crept back in her mind and caused her heart to cringe in pain. There was still the matter of Elwen that was not resolved between them. But surely Haldir was not the person to keep a wife and a mistress?
Haldir noticed how quiet Lothestel was. It was a feat for her, not saying what was on her mind but he suspected that she too was contemplating on what exactly was on her mind. Circumstances had always placed them in such situations. Never had they talked or discussed their feelings with a sense of normalcy. Everything was either rushed or forced upon them. Tonight it was rushed and the impending marriage forced upon them. But Haldir could no longer set aside his feelings. He was beginning to truly love her and understood her flaws and still finding her desirable in spite of it. There were things he needed to tell her but did not know where to start. They did not exactly start out placid. Instead it was with horse manure and knots.
Haldir found himself smiling. Even in all her years she was still naive and innocent. There were things she needed to learn. Patience was one of them and also the way the heart worked without needing words to explain it. Yes, there was much for her to learn and he too needed to teach himself patience when dealing with this feisty elleth that will soon be his wife. Haldir grew aware as to how she was walking behind him, trailing him. It made him uncomfortable. It was not how he wanted his wife to be, always at arm's length. Instead he wanted an equal, to share his life and his love. He stopped abruptly and was almost knocked over when Lothestel ran into his back, unaware of his sudden arrest.
"Oh..." was all that came out of Lothestel.
Haldir turned around to see her rubbing her cheek. He shook his head, "Where is your mind at Lothestel? Be aware of your surroundings. You might trip on something and hurt yourself."
He watched with amusement as she nodded wordlessly and then whispered, "Forgive me..."
It was such hilarity to Haldir watching this feisty creature turned into butter. But he had no intention of intimidating her. All he wanted was to have her walk beside him, not behind him. Sensing her apprehension he turned his body to face her and slowly slid his hand into hers. This took Lothestel by surprise and when she lifted her head questioningly, her action was met with a kiss; light at first but grew heated in a matter of seconds. Haldir's lips were soft but there was a tinge of hardness that managed to make her open her mouth further to let him in. He turned his head slightly and took her mouth fully with his own. He heard her sighed and sensed her breathing quickened at his touch. He tugged at her bottom lip and when she opened her mouth again, he slipped his tongue inside, tasting the crevices of her velvety mouth.
It was Lothestel who broke the kiss. She had to come up for air since his kiss was drawing the breath out from her body. She was shaking like a leaf and could not meet his gaze when the kiss ended. She felt soft fingers touched her chin and lifted her face. She looked at him for the first time since they left the pond. He smiled and Lothestel found herself thinking, he had a wonderful smile. Haldir leaned forward and whispered in her ear, "Walk with me, please? Walking alone in the woods frightens me..."
Lothestel smiled sheepishly at the notion. Haldir scared of the woods? It was unheard of and she knew he was trying to ease her nerves. She looked at him and nodded. He reached down again to her hand and held it tight in his. Together they walked quietly to her chamber yet this time perhaps not as lonely as before...
Legolas sat restlessly on the bed, waiting for any signs of Haldir or Lothestel. He honestly missed hearing her voice and the sound of her laughter. The bond they shared as brother and sister used to be so strong. He knew whenever she was feeling sad or hurting. But now, it seemed she was getting better at hiding them. Legolas sighed. He would not want Lothestel to feel alienated from him. His duties as the crown prince had taken him far from his duties as a brother but after tonight he sought to rectify it.
Legolas walked out to the gardens opposite his quarters. He had even forgotten that Nyonna was with him. The stars were shining brightly tonight and he hoped it was a sign of good fortune. May Haldir's return be with his sister, Lothestel. He stared at the blue moon that was now high up in the sky. Lorien's beauty had always managed to calm his senses but today, he was worried beyond reckoning. What if something bad had happened to his beloved sister? Will he be able to face his parents and explain why he was not able to protect her?
His nervous pacing was beginning to cause Nyonna some uneasiness. Seeing Legolas so tense made her a little anxious as well, "My dear, stop the pacing and come, sit by my side. I am sure Haldir will return with Lothestel very soon."
Legolas turned abruptly towards the voice, "Nyonna! I did not realise you were here."
Nyonna smiled and shook her head, "I have been here with you for the past hour my love. Well, I am astounded. This is the first time you have not noticed my presence."
Legolas laughed and that seemed to ease his anxiety. He crossed the garden and took a seat next to his betrothed, "You always seem to know what will put my mind at ease. What will I ever do without you?"
Nyonna laughed, "You will get by. Like you did before we met."
Nyonna stopped laughing when two figures emerged from behind the bushes. Nyonna could see Haldir immediately but it took a few moments before she realised the elleth beside him was Lothestel. She smiled and tugged Legolas' sleeve, "Look, it is your sister and her betrothed."
Legolas immediately looked at the pathway when Nyonna called to him. He was gladdened to finally see his little sister after all these days. He watched as Lothestel walked towards him hand in hand with Haldir. Wait, hand in hand? What had happened? Why are these two playing nice with each other? Did something happen he was unaware about? His suspicions grew but soon he was distracted when Lothestel walked faster and broke in a little run to bury herself in his arms.
Lothestel sobbed and cried when she was finally in her beloved brother's embrace, "Forgive me for being so stubborn. I have missed you so very much."
Legolas held her in his arms and stroked her hair, "No matter little one. We both had our faults and now it is time to put that past us and look to the future. Thank you, Haldir for finding her. I am indebted to you."
Lothestel turned around and looked at Haldir. He stood proud underneath the moonlight looking handsome and strong, "It was my duty Legolas. After all, she is my betrothed. I shall take my leave. I am sure Lothestel needs her rest as do the two of you. I bid you good night."
As Haldir turned around to leave, Lothestel whispered to her brother, "You two go ahead. I want to see Haldir off."
Nyonna was surprised at the notion as was Legolas but he said nothing when Nyonna guided his hand towards their chambers. He understood that she wanted to give them some privacy but it did not stop him from wondering what had happened between then and now when Haldir himself said Lothestel hated him. Lothestel was a peculiar elleth but Legolas would not expect anything less from the princess of Mirkwood.
Lothestel waited until her brother and best friend walked inside their own chambers before walking towards Haldir. She stopped in front of him, eyes still staring at the pavement below and spoke to her betrothed, "I will see you to the exit my lord."
Haldir looked at the top of her head. Curiosity flooded his being as he began to ponder who this elleth standing before him was. He used to think it would be an impossible feat to break this feisty mare but by the looks of it, she was quite the confusing female. She might be in love with you Haldir, he thought to himself. If that was true, he had to test the waters yet again, "That does not sound sincere unless you say it to my face, Lothestel."
He gently stroked her chin and pulled her face upwards, to meet his gaze, "Now, tell me again what you said but this time, call my name. I am not any lord of yours. I am your betrothed."
Haldir could see the princess trembling slightly as she fidgeted, uncomfortable with the situation he had put her in. She lifted her face slowly and looked at him with her large eyes. They were filled with a sense of insecurity and hope, "Haldir... I will walk you to the exit if you like."
Haldir smiled and gently reached down and took her hand in his, "Yes, I would like that very much. But before that, may I have a kiss?"
Lothestel felt her face grew hot and she knew Haldir could see her blushing, "You need not ask..."
A smile formed on Haldir's lips as he bent down to capture those luscious lips. His kiss was breezy and sweet. No, he did not want a passionate kiss. All he wanted was a kiss of assurance. He wanted the sense of security that finally Lothestel could be his. When he finally let her go, she was flustered and he could see happiness written on her face.
They walked slowly, shoulders grazing and fingers gently swaying. Both were wary about entwining their fingers together. Haldir took the bold step and took her hand into his. He felt her surprise but when she left her hand in his, they walked on silently until they reached the entrance to the gardens. Haldir turned to look at the elleth with him. Lothestel was a magnificent beauty. Her dark mane was lustrous and her strikingly pale skin was a delightful contrast. He held her before him, trying to read what she felt at that very moment. She hid her feelings well.
Haldir walked closer so that his body and hers were almost touching, "I leave at noon tomorrow for my duties. We shall not see each other until the day before our wedding..."
Lothestel remained still but she could feel tears forming in the corner of her eyes. She looked at the ellon towering over her, "Be safe. I wish to be married by the end of this week, not widowed..."
A soft finger caressed her skin and she heard Haldir laughed, "Even in sadness, you know how to make someone laugh. I shall think of you each day until I return to your arms. You take good care of yourself and by the end of this week, we shall me married."
He kissed her forehead gently before taking her into his arms. They held on to each other for a little while longer before Haldir let go. He looked at her one more time before turning to leave. Lothestel stood there until Haldir finally disappeared behind the trees. She sighed; it will be a long week indeed...
Haldir woke up at the crack of dawn. He wanted to stretch and work his body before saddling up to travel to the northern border. He went to the mighty Anduin for a swim to help strengthen his body and then he ran through the woods building his agility and speed. When he finally returned home the sun was high but not yet noon. He took a quick wash and hurried into his living room. Lothestel had been on his mind since the night before and he wanted to leave her a letter.
The sunlight streamed into the living room providing warmth and a bright gleam of light from the windows. Haldir sat in front of his writing desk and pulled out a piece of parchment. He pondered on his thoughts before reaching for his quill.
When he finally finished, the letter was a good page long and he was running out of time. It was almost noon and his wardens would soon assemble for inspection. He walked out to the terrace of his talan and scouted below for a sentinel. He spotted a young ellon walking in the distant and shouted out for him, "You there! Approach my talan immediately."
The young sentinel climbed up the terrace with ease and bowed before the Marchwarden, "Yes, my lord. How can I be of service?"
Haldir took out the sealed letter and handed it to the sentinel, "This letter must reach the Princess of Mirkwood today. Tell her it is from her betrothed."
The sentinel nodded and took the letter at hand, "Very well my lord. I will see it done."
Haldir watched as the young ellon turned a corner and disappeared. He looked up towards the sky. The sun was high and noon was now upon him. He entered his talan one last time to gather his things and he set out towards the archery field to inspect his wardens. Once that had been ascertained, they will move towards the northern border and when he returns he will be a married ellon.
Lothestel was enjoying herself in the gardens, walking along the path and admiring the beauty of Lorien's growth. There was so much to see here and after days of sulking and crying, today she felt free and was able to finally enjoy Lorien for what it is. So, this was how it felt to be in love, she thought to herself. After what had happened yesterday, she was beginning to anticipate her wedding day with eagerness and excitement. At last, she knew what she wanted and that was Haldir.
Happiness filled her being and without even realising what she was doing, Lothestel twirled and danced her heart out around the flowers and trees. She felt light as a feather and happy as a bird. Each time she remembered his touch, it sent butterflies flying in the pit of her belly. She twirled and twirled and came to a halt when she saw a figure standing near the trees, "Nyonna!"
Nyonna stood there half smiling, half smirking, "I see someone is jubilant today. Might she share with me what is it that makes her so joyous?"
Lothestel giggled, "Who is this she you are talking about my dear friend? I see no one here save for us."
Nyonna walked closer to Lothestel, "My heart soars to see you so happy my dear. I take it you and Haldir settled your quarrels?"
Lothestel avoided the question with another question, "Will you help me pick out my wedding attire for the binding ceremony?"
Nyonna's eyes shone with mischief, "You are avoiding the question. Very well, if you will not answer then I shall not give you Haldir's newly delivered letter..."
Nyonna took out the letter from behind her and waved it in the air, "Surely you would like to read what Haldir had written in this letter? Now, tell me all or this letter will not see the light of day!"
With slow steps, Lothestel approached her best friend, "Very well. I will tell you but I will only say it near your ears. What was the old saying? Even trees talk? Yes, that..."
Wary with her friend's actions, Nyonna held the letter tighter, "As you wish. Now, tell me this secret of yours!"
Lothestel walked closer to Nyonna and when she was about a half a foot away with the agility of a hawk, she snatched the letter from her best friend's hand, "I will never tell! Thank you for the letter!"
Nyonna shook her head and watched as the elleth ran back to her quarters with the letter in her hand. She was happy that things were calm between Haldir and Lothestel. She needed him and so did he. This week will be interesting, she thought to herself.
Lothestel was out of breath when she finally reached her chamber. She entered the lavish room and sat on her bed. She stared at the letter, stroked it and finally took a deep breath to smell the scent of the letter. It smelled of ink but that did not stop her from finding an imaginary scent of Haldir's. She tore open the letter carefully and unfolded it gently. It was a page long and with her heart thumping in her chest, she began reading the letter.
My dearest Lothestel,
It is a shame I did not get the chance to meet you one more time before we left. Though our parting is not for long, these few days will be the most difficult days for me to endure. I have so much to say and so much I want to hear from you. But alas duty calls and you of all people will understand this.
My dear, I do not know what exactly are we but by the end of the week, we will be husband and wife. I admit, we started off rather badly but I do hope you do not think that is the only facet I have. I never had the chance to tell you how I truly felt about you and about us. We were both thrust into an agreement that neither of us agreed freely. I do not know how you feel about me but I care for you, very much.
I love you, my dear deeply and fully. I had loved you ever since the day I left Mirkwood but circumstance and your stubbornness never allowed me to confess to you about how I truly felt. There were so many understandings between us and I had lost all hope of securing your affections.
I have told you my story and I hope upon my return we will be able to talk longer about our relationship and about our wedding. I look forward to the day I return to your arms. I certainly look forward to our wedding night after you have whetted my appetite. You are truly magnificent Lothetel and I am very fortunate to have your hand in marriage.
Lothestel was smiling from ear to ear. Her heart leaped from her chest and she rolled on her bed. He loves me, she thought. He has been in love with me since he left Mirkwood! Lothestel felt a little childish about all her shortcomings and all the understanding. But there was still the matter of Elwen. Where did she stand? For now, Lothestel did not want to think about Elwen. Today she was the happiest elleth in the entire realm!
Later that night...
Elwen sat in her room alone. The room was dark and a stream of moonlight shone through her windows. A trickle of tear rolled down her cheek and fell onto her folded hands. Her heart was broken into a million pieces. News of Haldir's betrothal to the princess of Mirkwood travelled quickly through town. She did not believe it at first since Lorien was famed for its gossips.
How can Haldir be betrothed? He promised her his affections and had officially asked to court her. She even shared her bed with him. Surely he will not abandon her like so? Her mind wandered to the events that happened a day earlier.
She was returning to the library from the common dining area in the palace for a short break from her duties as a librarian when she overheard the cook and the maids talking about a dinner to be held in honour of the great news. Haldir had accepted the marriage proposal and so did the princess. It seemed to her that it was a call of duty, a decision made by the Lord and Lady. But her foolish heart had hoped that Haldir would have turned down the proposal. To her dismay, the dinner plans carried on.
Elwen went about her duties in the library soon after, holding back tears and pain. She carried the books, stacked them and arranged them neatly. A droplet would sometimes fall from her eyes but she pressed on. She was utterly drowned in her own pain, she was not aware of the ellon that was following her every move with his blue eyes.
Beinion had wanted Elwen ever since the day they trained together with Lord Erestor in Rivendell. But she remained aloof and uninterested in him. Not long ago, news reached his ears that Elwen was being courted by the Marchwarden. He kept his desires and wishes to himself. But today when the news of a royal wedding between the Marchwarden and the princess of Mirkwood filled the palace with excitement, Beinion thought perhaps his chance had come after all.
He approached a saddened Elwen and brushed her arm, "I heard about the news. I hope you are not too broken hearted."
Elwen was taken by surprise at Beinion's sudden touch, "Beinion! How long have you been standing here?"
The ellon smiled, "Not long but long enough to see you shed a tear. He did not tell you, did he?"
Elwen forced a smile and shook her head, "No... I am sure it came as a surprise to him as well. He is not the kind of ellon to use someone like this."
Beinion shook his head, "For someone at your age, Elwen, you sound so naive..."
Elwen smiled sadly, "No, Beinion. That is not naivety. That is love..."
Elwen returned home as usual. She made herself a light dinner and sat in her living room reading a book she borrowed. She wanted something to distract her from the thoughts of Haldir. She had begun reading a few pages when a loud knock on her door startled her. Perhaps it was Haldir, finally here to explain to her why he abandoned her. She stood up and straightened her dress. She was hardly presentable but it did not matter. She needed to hear what Haldir had to say. She crossed her talan in short strides and opened the door.
" Beinion! What are you doing here?" Elwen was surprised to see her colleague at her doorstep.
She could see some flowers in his hands, "I was worried about you. You seemed upset when you left the palace. I thought these might help bring up your spirits."
Elwen took the flowers graciously, "Thank you. Please, do come inside. I have a pot of tea only just brewed."
Beinion smiled and nodded. For the first time in his life, he was finally alone with the woman he had loved since he first saw her forty years ago. Her talan was quaint yet very inviting. He watched her poured the tea into cups and brought it to the living room. Her hand trembled as she passed the cup to Beinion. When he took it, he purposely grazed his fingers with hers. Elwen was surprised and so politely retracted her hand.
Both of them talked for almost an hour. They talked about their work and about the palace. They laughed and giggled. For a moment all seemed well. Elwen stood up to replenish the tea but she was stopped from doing so by Beinion, "Leave it. I do not think more tea will help me..."
Elwen was confused, "Help you? What is the matter Beinion? Are you ill?"
The tormented ellon shook his head, "Nay. I am well but my heart aches for you..."
Elwen was surprised by what she had heard, "Beinion! What do you mean?"
Beinion chose not to say anything but tell her everything he felt in a kiss. He walked closer and caught her lips with his, kissing her with all the passion inside him. He could feel her resistance but soon, Elwen melted in his arms. The kiss escalated into something much more heated and when both lay tired in each other's arms, the truth finally struck Elwen.
She rose from bed and pulled the coverlet around her body. Without even looking at Beinion, she spoke, "This was a mistake..."
But before she could continue, there was a knock on her door. She quickly grasped her white night gown and covered her naked form. After deeming she was presentable enough, Elwen opened the door.
She was quite surprised to see Haldir there and for sure he could have guessed what had happened, "Haldir! What a pleasant surprise!"
She knew Haldir could see her cheeks flushed and her breathing laboured. A faint smile formed on his face, "I assume you received the news of my betrothal to Lothestel? It did not take you long to find my replacement."
Elwen blushed, "Should I not find a replacement? You are to marry the princess of Mirkwood. Who am I to even consider taking you away from her?"
"You are wise Elwen; one of your stronger suits. That makes my coming here easier. I cannot see you anymore. My love and loyalty will remain with my wife once we are formally married. I wish you all the happiness in the world," Haldir took her hand in his and kissed it.
Elwen smiled, "I wish you the best in your life as well Marchwarden. If you ever need company for whatever reason, do think of me."
She could not tell him how she really felt. He would not have believed her after what he saw tonight in her talan. Tears fell from her eyes as she returned to her bedroom where Beinion was still waiting. The ellon immediately stood up to comfort her when she saw her crying.
But before he could reach her, Elwen raised her hand, "No, Beinion. Please... This was a mistake. I love Haldir and not you. Forgive me but I cannot be with you."
The hurt on Beinion's face was apparent but the pain was in his words, "What are you to expect from Haldir? He is to marry a princess and you are just a mere librarian. Do not tell me you seek to be his whore?"
"BEINION! How dare you insult me in my own house! Leave! You have no right to judge me," Elwen yelled at the top of her lungs. Being one of the first born, Elwen rarely lost her temper but Beinion was out of line.
Beinion walked closer to her, "You will regret your decision and when Haldir throws you aside, DO NOT come running to me!"
The sound of the window panes banging pulled Elwen back to reality. She was lost in her own reverie she did not noticed the weather turning bad. She wiped the tears from her face.
Earlier today, she had gone to his talan to talk to him, convince him that she loved him more than the princess. But once there she found out that the Marchwarden had left for the borders and would not return until later in the week. With that Elwen returned home feeling dreadful.
She made a promise to herself, to be the first to see him once he returned and tell him about how she really felt. Yes, just six days more to go, she thought to herself.
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.