17. Look Into The Future
Chapter 17 Look Into The Future
It had been a year since Caladwen returned to Lothlorien with Haldir. She was still teaching but cut her days to once a week. More Elves had sailed in the meantime and less were coming to the teaching talan. Of those who still attended, a small group traveled to Rohan and experience life among mortals for themselves. They sent a message stating some of the Rohirrim wished to visit the Golden Wood in the coming days. Caladwen was surprised to hear she might see some of her friends then. Celeborn was hesitant at first but knew it was inevitable. Those who did not sail would have to learn to accept visitors from other lands. The different realms were coming together as if landmasses had suddenly collided. Unbeknownst to her, Caladwen's talent and gift from the Valar was affecting all who learned from her. A meeting of the minds was taking place. The more the different races knew and understood about each other, the more accepting they became of one another.
Caladwen and Haldir had become good friends. He finally saw her as a well-matured Peredhil and an equal. She finally accepted the fact that some things that would never change about the Marchwarden, especially his arrogance. They always maintained a safe distance from each other and neither mentioned their experiences from the past. They enjoyed evening walks with each other and both told stories from their past. Haldir had her beat there, being his past stretched back much further than hers. He often told her stories of Arwen when she lived in Lorien. Caladwen enjoyed hearing them. She felt a special connection to the Queen of Gondor and wished to one day get to know her personally.
Caladwen still trained with Haldir but not as often as in the beginning. It usually ended in an argument of some kind. Haldir went into full Marchwarden mode and she did not like it one bit. She often reminded him that as long as she was not allowed to become a warrior of Lorien or join him at the borders, he had no authority over her. They still practiced in secret, though many knew of their training affair. With less Elves remaining in Lorien and less activity at the borders, it was not considered as taboo as it once was.
This particular day had been a long one for Haldir. He had been in negotiations with Celeborn for most of the day. King Thranduil had sent a messenger to discuss a trade, some of his most sought after goods for the temporary use of a few of Haldir's warriors. It seemed Eryn Lasgalen was having a little trouble with some outlaws in the southern sections, which were still being rebuilt after the recent war. Celeborn would have gladly sent some of the Galadhrim without an exchange but Thranduil would not see it done. In his eyes, everything came with a price.
Haldir was tired, stressed, and needed a release. Firing a few dozen arrows would do the trick. His own practice field was close to his talan at the borders but he was in the city. He decided to go to the glade he used with Caladwen. It would be quiet and he could unload his frustrations there. He made his way down the path and cut through the group of trees. He was just about there when he heard a rustling noise. Quickly as only an Elf could, he sprang up into the branches of the trees and observed the area. The sweet sound of a female humming an elvish lullaby floated up to him. He made his way closer to the glade. Looking down, he saw where the source of the singing came from. It was Caladwen. It seemed she had just finished shooting a few arrows of her own. Haldir was about to jump down to let her know he was there when she began undressing. She was wearing her training outfit and was changing back into her feminine clothes before returning to the city. He had forgotten about telling her to dress for practice. He turned away and made to leave and give her privacy when she started singing again. He recognized the song right away. It was a song he used to sing to her when she was a child living in Lorien. Haldir used to sing it to her to help her fall asleep, especially when Eowyn was not there to do it herself. He was surprised she remembered it and smiled to himself. She was such a beautiful child and now she had grown into a beautiful woman, one who he had a soft spot for. Caladwen stopped humming and began singing the words in Sindarin. Haldir was mesmerized by her voice when he realized he had never heard her sing before. The words floated up through the trees and he listened intently. Slowly he turned back but kept his eyes closed. He knew it was wrong to spy on someone, especially a female. Something urged him on and he opened one eye and then the other. Below him, he saw Caladwen standing in her undergarments. She was very shapely and her body toned from years of swordplay. Haldir felt something stir deep within him. She was absolutely breathtaking. Her long wavy hair came down to the top of her waist. He suddenly imagined his hands entwined in her golden locks as he pulled her to him. Quickly, he shook the thought from his head. Her skin was smooth and fair. It seemed to glow in the afternoon sun. Her sweet voice continued to lull him into a trance and he saw Caladwen in a different way. His heart was beating loudly and his blood seemed to rush to one place in particular. He whispered her name and noticed how differently it sounded passing his lips. She finished dressing and went back to the glade to fetch her weapons. Haldir watched as she left and did not leave the safety of the trees until he was sure she was well on her way back to the city. His elven feet landed softly on the ground without making a sound. He adjusted his tunic as well as his leggings and took a deep breath to try to cleanse his mind. After regaining his composure, he strapped on his quiver and began releasing arrows.
After a while, he was in his warrior mode and pushed aside the newfound desire he felt. He had been there for some time and was just about done for the day when he heard a rustle behind him.
"Good afternoon, Haldir. I did not know you used this practice field." said the most beautiful voice he had ever heard. Caladwen stood at the tree line and watched Haldir finish. He fired his last arrow and turned to her. Somehow, she looked different to him now. She was more alluring than he had ever noticed in the past.
"Hello Caladwen." Her name rolled of his tongue with ease. "I, uh… I was… well…" 'What has happened to my speech', he thought to himself. He had never stuttered in his whole life.
Caladwen giggled and the sound made his heart race. "I did not mean to startle you. I did not think it was possible to surprise an Elf, especially one of Lothlorien."
Haldir quickly pulled himself together. "I was not startled. I was in deep concentration, or have you forgotten my number one rule?"
"Alright Marchwarden, have it your way." she smiled.
"Why have you come back?" he asked. He was trying to change the subject.
"Oh, I think I left one of my bracers behind. You have not seen it have you?"
Haldir looked around and saw it lying next to his pack. "Here it is." he said picking it up. Caladwen came up to him and when she reached for it, their fingers touched each other. Instantly, Caladwen felt a charge run up her arm and quickly spread throughout her body. She had felt it before but never as strongly as she did now.
Neither one moved for what seemed like an eternity. Haldir felt as though their fingers melted together and could not be separated. It was Caladwen who broke the connection. This had never happened before either. Haldir had always been the one to move away first. "Thank you Haldir." she said, taking the bracer from his hand. His eyes remained focused on his own hand and she took notice of his odd reaction. Caladwen turned to leave but something held her there. She just had to know. "Please tell me you felt it too." she whispered, not looking at him.
Haldir noticed the desperation in her voice as if she had been searching for his answer all her life. She had her back turned to him and it was easier for him to answer her this way. If he looked into her eyes, he would have denied it yet again. "Yes, I felt it."
"You have felt it before, haven't you?" she asked again.
"I have." he said in a whisper.
"I have felt it many times, even before I married Leodred. What is it, Haldir? What is this connection?" She was still turned away from him. The conversation seemed to go much easier if they did not make eye contact.
"I do not know what it is for I have never felt it with anyone but you."
"Not even Nieriel?"
Slowly Caladwen turned to face him and reached for his hand, but Haldir pulled away from her. "Why do you resist? It is obvious there is something between us wanting to make itself known."
"Because I am not sure this is something we should pursue. You are young yet and have much to do. You need no distractions."
After a long silence she finally spoke. "Thank you for being honest. I have longed to know if you experienced the same feeling as I." she said with a wavering in her voice as if she might cry. She finally looked him in his eyes and saw Haldir as never before. His features had softened in the light of the setting sun and his silver eyes were brighter than she had ever seen before. She was not sure if it was because of the exchange they just experienced or if it was merely the way the beams of light bounced off him. Something had definitely changed between them. "What happens now, Haldir?" she asked. In her dreams, she saw him taking her in his arms and holding her close. He would love her forever and she would be happy. The response she received was far less than what she wished for. His voice was cold and unemotional.
"We do nothing." Haldir said. "These feelings are not meant to be. It should not have happened and should not happen again." She expected to see his face harden back the way it always did after he let his guard down. This time, however, nothing changed on his countenance and he looked at her with a subtle passion in his eyes. This was not what he wanted.
"Haldir." she said and touched his arm. The warmth spread through his body and he found he could not pull away. He closed his eyes and willed himself to stop this.
"Caladwen, no." he said simply and moved his arm away from her. "I cannot become who you wish me to be. There is no place in my hardened life for this now."
Caladwen stepped away from him and a tear streamed down her fair face. She looked at him, wanting to say something, to tell him there was still a chance. The lump in her throat choked her word and she said nothing.
Haldir turned his back to her. "You should go now." he whispered. It was forced and she knew he was resisting the urge to go to her.
Caladwen could stand it no longer. She ran off through the trees, sobbing quietly as she did. Haldir's elven hearing picked up the sound of her crying. His heart was breaking, at least the small part, which yearned for her. He hardened it back up and decided to leave things alone. He hoped she would forget all about this conversation.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Later that evening, Celeborn held a secret meeting in his chambers. He was pouring three glasses of wine. "And you have witnessed this?" he asked handing one glass to Orophin.
"I have not. It is Rumil who saw them exchange words in the glade." Orophin answered.
Celeborn picked up the other glass and handed it to Rumil. "What exactly did you see?" he asked the young Elf.
"Their hands touched and I saw the light of the fea [soul], my lord." Rumil said, sipping his wine.
"Come and sit. I would like to ask you a few more questions if you do not mind, Rumil." Celeborn led the brothers to a sitting area where there was a plush couch and two large armchairs. All three had a seat and Celeborn went on with the questioning. "Can you describe this light?"
"It was more like a glow that emanated from within." Rumil answered.
Celeborn wrinkled his brow. "Did the glow come from Caladwen alone?"
"Yes, my lord." he said and noticed a slight slump in Celeborn's shoulders, as if this was not the answer he wished to hear. "At first it was only her, but the longer they remained in contact the more the light spread and soon they were both aglow."
At this information, Celeborn sat up straight again and a smile spread across his wise face. "This is good news."
Orophin, who had been quiet, finally spoke up. "Is it true then? Has the Light of Lothlorien chosen her soul mate?"
Celeborn turned a compassionate look to Orophin. "I'm afraid it is too soon to tell. We can be sure that something transpired between Haldir and Caladwen. Whether she has made a true choice or not remains to be seen. If she has found her eternity in Haldir, I am afraid the path she takes will be a challenging one. Both of you know your brother better than anyone. He will need to face his deepest fears before a union can be made. Caladwen could be just the one to help him." Celeborn sat his glass down on a nearby table and clasped his hands together before they came to rest in his lap. "I'm afraid I have spoken too hastily." he said with a smile. "Do not read anything more into this for now. Let things go as they may. Only time will tell if this is what the stories of old speak of."
Rumil looked at Orophin who seemed to know what Celeborn was talking about. "What does legend say, my lord?"
Celeborn explained. "It is said that as the Elves vanish from the land a new light will shine in Lothlorien, spreading joy and hope across all the lands of Middle Earth. Her gift would come from the Valar themselves and eventually would be embedded in the heart of every human. Men will cover the world one day, leaving no room for Elves or Dwarves. They will learn to stand on their own. Life will be peaceful for many generations but not forever. One day they will falter and fight amongst each other, even go as far as to destroy themselves. They will be dark days indeed but for the light in their hearts. Not all will feel its radiance mind you. Some men will delve too deep into the blackness that they will never see the light. But most will prevail because they have been given hope. Caladwen is the light, the bearer of that hope. Her very soul glows with this gift that is meant to be shared. She has been given to us so that she may bestow this most precious reward upon each living soul. She begins to spread it now as she teaches Men and Elves. Her work in Middle Earth is far from over. Not until she has touched the heart of every living being will her task be complete. Eventually, she will pass it on to her own children and they in turn will pass it to their children and so on. Long after her bloodline has ceased, her light will remain within every human heart. Hope will never die."
Rumil smiled as he thought about Caladwen being a gift. He always felt she was special. Orophin looked a little more concerned, however. "She is of Peredhil lineage, though. What if she chooses to live a mortal life? Will her gift still be passed down through the generations?"
Celeborn's smile disappeared. "She will one day be put to a test by the Valar. Her Deciding Day will be a most important day indeed. Should she choose mortality, she will only benefit those who she teaches. Her light is only eternal as long as she remains eternal. Many will remember her in story and song and try to instill her goodness but over the generations, her memory will pass into legend and be forgotten all together. There is no telling what the future of Men will be like. Maybe none will survive the dark days and humankind will become extinct. Maybe they will endure on their own. I feel even the Valar may not know. The future I speak of is many many millennia from now."
"How do you know all of this, my lord?" Rumil asked.
"I looked into Galadriel's mirror just before she left for the sea. I was told of Caladwen's coming, though I did not know anything more about her. I was shown a strange world I did not understand. I knew it was not my own, nor was it one I would ever witness. My heart ached for the world I saw and I felt utter despair. When I thought I could take no more, the scene changed and I was looking at the mallorns of Lorien once again. There was a child surrounded by the brightest fea I had ever seen. The whole Wood was alight. Then the light spread to the other realms and their inhabitants. Time sped up and I saw whole generations glowing. Soon I was brought back to the same strange world I saw before. I no longer felt their despair. The light shown more in some places than others but it was still there. Instead of being one glowing entity, there were many smaller lights, individual shining stars. They we not in the sky but on this world I was seeing. They were coming from the people of this world. It was beautiful and I was relieved to feel their love and happiness. All of this will come to pass should she choose immortality on her Deciding Day. It will be her final test by the Valar. If she is strong enough, they will grant her eternity."
"Then Lady Eowyn chose wisely when she named her daughter, for Caladwen means light." Orophin finally let a smile show.
"Who else knows of her destiny, my lord?" Rumil asked.
"Her parents know though I do not think they fully understand. You, of course, now know but only because I have told you. Her husband, Leodred knew something of her course. I did not know of this until he confronted me at their wedding. He had a dream about Caladwen. He said he felt I was the only one who could interpret the vision. When I explained her future, he said deep down he already knew this about her. It was why he loved her so deeply. He felt her light and embraced it. For a short while, they shared this fate. He tried to explain it to me further but I told him it was not for me to understand. It was only meant for them to share, even if for only a little while. I will tell you this; Leodred embraced death not with fear or pain, but with great joy of knowing the beauty of the light, her eternal fea." Celeborn finished speaking and looked at the brothers. "Haldir knows nothing of this, though like you, he knows there is something special about her. You must not speak a word of this to anyone, not even to your brother. It is for him to learn on his own. He will know soon enough, when the time is right. And when this happens, he will be put to a test. Whether or not Caladwen and Haldir are meant to be together remains to be seen. However, she will help him sort out his past and heal the damage done so long ago. If that is all that is meant to come from this friendship, then so be it. It is not up to us to interfere in the plans of the Valar."
Rumil and Orophin both stood and approached Celeborn. They thanked him for explaining everything and took their leave. They never spoke a word of it to Haldir but they kept their eyes and ears a little more tuned in on their brother from then 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.