29. On The Brink Of War
Chapter 29 – On the Brink of War
Rhavaniel traveled with Antien and Glandur to Caras Galadhon. Along the way, she filled them in on everything that happened to her since leaving Mirkwood. She did not give away too much about the discovery of her battle-lust and Haldir, only that he helped her train and that they fought well together.
Antien was surprised to learn that she left Legolas in Imladris. "I know I told you to go and find your own way but I did not think you would do it like that."
"I think I had to Antien. Legolas expected me to just fly back to Mirkwood and sit around waiting for him to return. I just could not do it. After seeing what I saw and experiencing what I did, I could not sit around and do nothing. I am afraid my decision to do this is what brought Legolas and me to a halt though." she said as she walked alongside her best friend.
"It does not mean this is over yet. Perhaps you need this time apart to…"
"It is over Antien. I did not tell you this, but when Legolas and his companions passed through Lothlorien we… well…" she said lowering her gaze to the ground in front of her. "Our meeting did not go well. We agreed to part ways. Life got in the way and some things are more important right now."
Antien snaked his arm around her waist while they walked. "I am so sorry Rhav. I did not know or I would never have brought the subject up. Are you sure? Is there not something left?"
"I think we will always carry a spark of love for each other. As for Mirkwood getting a Princess, I am afraid it will not be me. That was never what I wanted. You know, sometimes I think that if he was not a Prince, I may have agreed to marry him."
Antien smiled. "No you wouldn't. I know you Rhav. You will always be your own elf. Maybe someday, when it is all out of your system you will settle down. But I think that day is a long ways away. You will always be my wild Rhavaniel."
She smiled and laughed to herself. "You have no idea how glad I am that you are here."
* * *
All the elves gathered in the city. Mirkwood elves mixed and mingled with Lorien elves. It was something that had not taken place in a very long time. Finally, the Lord and Lady of the Golden Woods came forth and held counsel with them all. Rhavaniel listened closely as they spoke of Orc armies waging war against Rohan. It seemed the men and women of Edoras traveled to their safe haven of Helm's Deep. Their numbers were low and they needed aid. After much discussion, it was decided that the army of elves would be sent forth to help defend the race of Men. Each realm sent as many as they could spare without leaving their own borders unprotected. Then Haldir was asked to lead this army along with all the captains and march on to Helm's Deep. Time was of the essence and they would part first thing in the morning. Even then, war would be very close at hand.
Afterwards, Rhavaniel went to Haldir to see at whose side she would be expected to represent, being many of her Mirkwood kin were amongst the warriors.
"You know I would rather you fight by my side, but it is your choice. I will not make this decision for you." Haldir said.
Rhavaniel was gladdened by Haldir's kindness. Despite their past, he had always been honest and let her make her own decisions. He never hindered her and let her pick her own fights. He was there for her when she needed someone and for this, she was grateful. "I would prefer to fight alongside the Marchwarden of the Galadhrim. This is where I was allowed to fight and this is where I will make my stand against our enemy. I am proud to wear the uniform of Lorien."
Haldir smiled in a way she had not seen before. It was genuine and honest. He was proud of her in that moment, just as proud as he was of any whom fought under his command. "We all fight for a common cause. Evil must be destroyed and it will take all the free peoples of Middle Earth to accomplish it, elves too. Just because we leave these shores does not mean we do not care for the future of Men."
"Well, I for one am not ready to sail anytime soon. I have lived my whole life with evil at my doorstep. I do not want to live like this anymore. Although I crave the kill, it is not something I want to do for the rest of my existence here. I wish to know peace before I sail to Valinor, if that is in my future. I would die defending those who have a future. To war I say, for peace and freedom."
* * *
The next morning, the elven armies set out for Helm's Deep. They did not send word to Rohan for they would be there just as quickly as any messenger would.
Glandur was busy heading up the Mirkwood army. Haldir was heading up the Galadhrim. Rhavaniel rode alongside Antien. He avoided any conversation about Legolas, though he was very curious. He knew there was more to the story than she led on. Something happened between Legolas and Rhavaniel, something more than an agreement to go separate ways. Besides, Antien was sure beyond a doubt that they were soul mates, but no road in life was an easy one. They would have to find their own way.
As they went along, Haldir fell back and signaled to Rhavaniel to join him in the front. Antien watched her as she rode next to the Marchwarden. Haldir's gestures were professional but there was something in his eyes as he looked at Rhav. Antien narrowed his eyes, not liking what he was seeing. Was this part of the reason why she parted from Legolas? Did she become involved with another? Antien shook his head. Of course, she couldn't. This was not how she behaved. Yet, he sensed a definite change in her. At first, he thought it was just maturity, but now watching the exchange between Haldir and his best friend, he began to have doubts. They regarded each other as more than captain and soldier. There was an underlying tone in their demeanor.
She fell back in line alongside Antien. "What is happening?" he asked.
"We should reach the outer borders in a few hours." she responded.
"I wasn't asking directions. What is happening here, with the Marchwarden?" he said accusingly.
She had hoped he would not pry but this was Antien. He was very observant. "Haldir is my captain and I follow his lead."
Antien gave her a sidelong glance. "Very well. Perhaps I have not seen this side of you before."
"No you have not. You only ever saw me during training. That was a long time ago my friend. I have grown much since then." she said trying to be convincing and avoid any more questions about Haldir.
"Fine. Fine. I will not ask any more. You are a Lorien warrior now. Just don't forget your friends." he jested.
"I could never forget you." she laughed. "You will always be that little voice in the back of my mind."
* * *
The elven armies finally arrived at the Hornburg. Rhavaniel could not help but notice how quiet it was, like the calm before the storm. Lightening flashed way off in the distance. The air seemed thick all around her. She felt something deep in her gut, a burning ache. Tonight she would spill blood. The enemy was far off yet, but she could sense it getting closer. The hair on her neck seemed to stand straight up and her body was beginning to hum with the vibrations of the battle-lust. She turned and looked off into the direction in which it was coming from. "They will be here in mere hours." she whispered to no one in particular.
Antien heard her speak and turned to find that she had changed. He thought about what she said earlier and she was right. He had never seen her in this state before. He could feel her tense as she prepared herself mentally for the battle just on the horizon. It was going to be a long night for sure and he could only pray to the Valar that all would be well. It was the fact that he knew elves and men alike would die this night that made him on edge.
Antien looked around the crowd until his eyes came upon Glandur. There he stood next to Haldir, tall and proud. He was a leader through and through. Pride and love gripped Antien's heart as he watched the tall Mirkwood captain. Then, the feeling returned to him as he watched Glandur pause and search the crowd. Their eyes met and the love they held for each other could be felt between them in their stare. Glandur dared to let the corner of his mouth upturn slightly. Antien's heart leapt forward for he knew what that subtle gesture meant. Then he nodded his head, returning the gesture and giving Glandur his response, yes I love you too.
Rhavaniel watched Haldir as he spoke with the King of Rohan. A sort of pride fell upon her heart. King Théoden seemed surprised to see the elven army on his doorstep. After an exchange of words, Haldir bowed and made his way back to his Lorien army. Although she despised him at times, right now she could appreciate the strength he showed. He stood tall and proud as he moved towards her. She could not deny acknowledging his masculine beauty. Haldir was very muscular, much more than the Mirkwood elves. She was glad to fight alongside her Galadhrim captain and to fight for her new home. But tonight she was defending not only Lothlorien. Tonight she fought for all that was good in the world. She fought to make things right once more. She fought for her future and of all the free people.
Haldir met her stare and a gleam formed in his eyes. Rhavaniel saw this and felt his anticipation for the battle. She could feel his pulse as it instantly synchronized with her own. It was their bond for battle that connected them to each other. She dared to let a small impish smile escape her lips. Haldir raised an eyebrow in acknowledgment. Tonight they would revisit that bond as they spilled their enemy's blood.
Just as he was almost upon her, something caught her eye, a glimmer of gold upon a higher wall. Rhavaniel looked up and past Haldir. Her heart leapt in her chest as she saw the Mirkwood Prince standing with the Rohirrim soldiers on the upper level of the fortress. Suddenly she felt her soul call to him and watched as he scanned the crowd below. Just as their eyes made contact, Haldir took her hand and brought it to his lips. Her mind went from Legolas to Haldir instantly. Never had the Marchwarden shown such public affection of her, at least not in front of his Lorien company. The look in Haldir's eyes was that of excitement. His battle-lust had begun as did hers. Rhavaniel found she could not force herself away from Haldir. Once again, he captured her in his gaze. She suddenly felt as if she were being torn in two. Haldir called to her warrior soul while Legolas called to her loving heart.
Finally, Haldir released her as a messenger approached calling his attention. Rhavaniel looked back up to the wall where Legolas stood. He was gone now. He also blocked his heart and mind from her. She felt his animosity towards her. Nothing had changed.
It suddenly dawned on her that Legolas was here, at Helm's Deep. Why wasn't he still with Frodo? She looked around to see if any others from the fellowship were here. That's when she saw Haldir walking up a set of stairs. At the top stood Aragorn, the dwarf Gimli and King Théoden. Legolas emerged just behind Gimli but did not look in her direction. She put aside her current feelings and continued to look for any sign of the hobbits. She saw none.
"Rhavaniel?" said a soft voice from behind.
"He is here Antien. Legolas is here." she said in a distant voice.
He followed her line of site. "Have you spoken to him yet?"
"No I just now saw him. He has seen me too but I'm afraid he wasn't very pleased."
Antien put a hand on her shoulder. "I wish you would talk to him.
"We spoke in Lorien. There is nothing more to say. We have taken different paths now. It wasn't meant to happen I don't think. He is a Prince. You know I was never born for such a life."
As Rhavaniel turned away, Antien watched Legolas glance in her direction. His elf eyes could see the hardness on Legolas' face. He had been through much and his journey was not yet done. Antien could not help but think that these two were still meant to be. His heart hurt for his friend. Rhavaniel had been through so much already in her life. She deserved to be happy. Legolas made her feel this way, there was no doubt. "One day Rhav… one day you will be content. I believe there is still a chance with the Prince."
Rhavaniel laughed under her breath thinking he was wasting his time with such thoughts. "You do not give up easily do you?"
"I can't help it. I still feel some underlying connection. I have not been wrong yet have I?"
Rhavaniel shook her head and allowed a smile to escape her lips.
* * *
The hour was late. Rhavaniel's blood pulsed through her veins and her heart raced. The enemy was close. She could feel every part of her being as it came alive with the battle-lust. She stood at her station along the top wall of the stone fortress. Her eyes scanned along to her right. Elves and men lined the wall, all ready for whatever the night was to bring. Turning her head, she looked to her left. There were so many forlorn faces among the Rohirrim. It seemed they had lost all hope, but they would not go without a fight.
Further down the same wall, she saw Antien, tall and stern. It was a side of him she had yet to see. They never had the chance to fight together before she was thrown into court life. He always seemed so carefree to her. Now he looked like the warrior he was trained to be. Rhavaniel was so proud of him. She loved him like no other. He was her brother, though not by blood. She silently prayed for his safety this night.
As she thought about Antien, a whisper seemed to brush across her mind. Rhavaniel listened for it again but it was gone. The ghostly contact remained behind and she knew who it was the spoke. Legolas. She tried not to let her mind open to him. The look he gave her earlier spoke volumes. He wanted nothing to do with her. They said their last words in Lothlorien. If she were going to fight to her fullest this evening, she would have to wipe him from her thoughts. Still, the fact that he even slightly thought of her gave her a small drop of hope that they would at least become civil with each other one day.
"Are you ready my dear?" Haldir said coming up to stand next to Rhavaniel. His hand touched the small of her back and she felt him even through her armor.
"This is it Haldir. This is what I have waited a lifetime to achieve. I not only fight for my race or myself, I fight for all who want peace. I am ready." As she spoke, her eyes darkened.
Haldir felt her mood switch. She was once again consumed by the battle-lust and he let himself feed off her energy. Their bond connected them. Hearts beat in harmony. Blood pulsed through their bodies. The one thing he felt was her control of it. She had finally reached that point where, although they could feel each other, she did not need him by her side at all times. She was ready to be on her own, but he would keep an eye out for her. To feel her fighting alongside him was invigorating. It was more than the need for their warrior bond. Haldir did not want to admit it and he would never tell Rhavaniel, but his heart was involved by now. He had felt it the moment he met her. He knew of her love for Legolas and that would never change. Still, he had felt the first twinges of love for her too. He had almost told her once, but her reaction was not what he expected. Haldir made up his mind right then to never let on his true feelings for Rhavaniel. She would never feel that way for him.
Standing so close to her and feeling her body change into warrior mode made his emotions run high. His hand, which was on her back, moved around her waist and came to rest on her stomach. He pulled on her ever so slightly until she was contoured against him. Haldir very nonchalantly lowered his head and buried his face in her long golden tresses, taking in her scent. Oh, to just be able to tell her his true feelings…
"Rhavaniel I…" but he stopped himself. Now was not the time. She needed to be sharp of mind for the pending war. To tell her now might hinder her and he would not risk it.
Rhavaniel felt Haldir's hand snake around her body. She did not want to admit it, but it felt good to have him touch her in such a way. Unfortunately, their history was one of lust and need. She hated herself sometimes for letting it happen, but also understood that it was necessary at the time. She sensed something about Haldir. He could have let himself go, but he chose to remain a certain distance from her. She started to think about it but pushed the thoughts aside. He was a complicated ellon and she thought it better to leave it alone.
However, having him so close and holding her at this moment was something she longed for. If only it was Legolas, she thought to herself briefly and then buried that thought as she felt Haldir's warm breath on her neck. Her eyes closed and she decided to give into the moment. Soon they would be neck deep in orcs.
And then Haldir spoke. The way he whispered her name in her ear sent shivers along her spine. His voice was so tender. At the same time, she tensed and cringed, hoping he would say no more for she could never return these feelings, if he said what she was afraid he was going to say. But he stopped and released his hold on her. Just as he was about to remove his hand, Rhavaniel grabbed it and held him to her for a moment. She did not turn to face him. She did not say a word. She merely held his hand tightly. For a brief moment, Rhavaniel let her guard down. Haldir felt her slightly tremble in his arms.
"It is natural to feel vulnerable just before battle." he whispered so only Rhavaniel could hear. "You would not be alive if you didn't. But you have nothing to fear. You are stronger than you know. I have every confidence in you Lady Rhavaniel. You will live through this night."
Rhavaniel felt a lump rise in her throat. She could no longer refuse him the one thing he longed for. She turned to face Haldir, placing his hand once again at the small of her back. Her hand reached up and slid around behind his neck, drawing him down to her. Her soft lips brushed against his before finally capturing his mouth and kissing him passionately. Maybe for the first time, she let her guard down and allowed him this one moment of true emotion.
Slowly, Rhavaniel drew away from him. She looked into his eyes and knew instantly that he loved her. It was there in the silver tones of his irises. Perhaps when this was over, she could try to give him a chance. Haldir was a respectable elf. Any elleth would want someone as handsome, strong and giving as him. Maybe it was not only Lothlorien but also Haldir that was her second chance. Maybe she could learn to love the Marchwarden. After all, he was the one person who allowed her to be… herself, completely.
She looked deep into his eyes. "Say nothing now Haldir. Let us finish our task and then let us talk." She placed her hand to the side of his face and smiled softly. Haldir nodded in agreement and regained his stature. They said all they needed to say for now. It was time to return to the moment at hand. The Marchwarden took his position next to Rhavaniel, standing tall and proud as any Captain of the Galadhrim.
"Now, let us spill some orc blood." he said in a low tone, glancing to Rhavaniel with a wicked smile that warmed her blood and began the battle-lust.
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.