18. Attack At The Border
Chapter 18 Attack At The Border
Caladwen avoided Haldir after their exchange at the practice field. He made it pretty clear that he did not wish to pursue anything further. She had never felt so let down before. He admitted to feeling something for her or with her or whatever it was. Yet he would rather ignore what happened than to face it and deal with it. Caladwen had feelings for Haldir and wished to explore them but he still would not let his guard down, not even for her. Something in her heart just wouldn't let the matter drop. If anything, Haldir was a dear friend and she felt he needed something from her. Perhaps the emotions she felt for him was something else. More than anything, she wished he would open up to her as he had done with her mother. Eowyn and Haldir had always maintained a give and take relationship. The difference was, he would give, she would take and then throw it right back at him. He would give up rather quickly and after healing his wounded pride, he would thank her for helping. Maybe that was it. That was how you dealt with the Marchwarden. She decided to give it a try next time she saw him.
Haldir spent more time at the borders recently. He too was avoiding another confrontation with Caladwen. It was out of the question. He was her teacher and guardian. It was inappropriate behavior to have such thoughts and feelings for her. He already felt guilty for not averting his eyes when he found her dressing in the forest. Besides, if he led her on like he had with so many ellith in the past, he would never forgive himself. Caladwen was different. She was special though he knew not in what way. It was none of his business anyway. She had some important role to play and there was no place for him there. No, his main focus was to make sure she was protected. She was already well on her way to becoming a successful mentor to all she taught. She needed no guidance from him in that way. To be her guardian would be an easy task. He did not need to be close to her to watch over her. He would never be too far that he could not hear her if ever she was in need.
The days went on and both Caladwen and Haldir were missing each others pleasantries. Caladwen had gotten rather used to evenings walks with him and Haldir missed their conversations. Perhaps ignoring each other was not the answer after all. It was ridiculous to hide from each other. They were both mature enough to let bygones be bygones. He missed her friendship as did she. Caladwen was in the city and Haldir was at the northern borders. They both had the same thought at the same time. It was time to reconcile with each other.
Haldir decided to seek her out when his watch was over in two days time. Caladwen had a different idea. She decided to seek out Rumil first and try to convince him to take her to the borders. She felt she needed to confront Haldir on his own territory and where better than at the border. She found Rumil wandering by a stream which ran through Caras Galadhon and approached him.
"Hello Caladwen." he said with a cheerful voice. "It is a beautiful day is it not?"
"It is very lovely indeed." She sighed and laid a hand on Rumil's arm. "I have a question to ask of you."
"How can I help?"
Caladwen thought for a moment before speaking. "I need you to help me get to the northern border so I can speak to Haldir."
Rumil's smile disappeared. "Caladwen, you know an elleth is not permitted at the border."
"I understand that and my answer to you is this; I am not an elleth. Despite how everyone feels about my presence here, I am different and I feel I should be allowed to roam freely. Would a visiting lord and lady be denied a tour of your city?" she challenged.
"That is a different situation all together. They are…"
"Think of me as a visitor in Lorien. It is true in a way. I cannot stay here forever, though I wish I could." Her thoughts wandered.
"Can you not wait for Haldir to return? He will be back in two days. It is not a long time to wait." Rumil was trying to convince her otherwise. He knew Haldir would be furious with him if he brought Caladwen to the border. It could be a very dangerous place and lately, there was more activity there.
Caladwen put on her best smile and took Rumil's hands in hers. "I will be truthful with you. Haldir and I had a falling out. We have not spoken to one another in days. I miss him. I feel an overwhelming need to speak to him and set things right but I'm afraid he won't listen. If I could confront him where he feels strongest, I think I can get through to him." A tear threatened the corner of her eye. "Please Rumil, help me meet with him. If you do not, I will only find my own way there."
Rumil knew what she spoke of. He had heard their conversation that night. Haldir pushed her away without any explanation. He wanted to help her. On the other hand, he did not want to face his brother's wrath for bringing a female to the border. "I will help you but you must do everything I tell you. It is almost a days journey to the border and you must be aware of the dangers. How well can you travel in the treetops?"
"I am not the expert like you but I can keep up. My footing is stable." she laughed. "I have not lived amongst Men for so long that I forgot how to negotiate the trees."
Rumil looked at the dress she was wearing. "You should change into your practice clothes and gather your weapons. I will not have you going without protection. I will have the supplies necessary for travel." He paused and took a deep breath. "Haldir will not like seeing you there. He will be even more upset with me for allowing it."
"I will tell him I came on my own if it will save you the humiliation." Caladwen offered.
Rumil smiled at the thought of her wanting to take all the blame. "That is kind of you, but it will be worse if he thought you left the city without my knowledge. Besides, he is my brother. What harm can he really do?"
Caladwen left to change and pack some supplies. A short time later she joined up with Rumil, grabbed her weapons and headed north. She admired the way he lightly leaped from branch to branch, as if it were merely a path on the road. She did not leap so lightly and often had to stop to measure the distance before jumping. Still, the journey was a pleasant one and the two got to know each other much better. Rumil told her stories about being raised by Galadriel and Celeborn. He did not know his parents for they died when he was very young. He remembered the change in Haldir more than anything. It seemed the three brothers were very close and did everything together. After their mother's death, Haldir became more withdrawn. Soon after, he spent all of his time and energy preparing to become a warrior. It was the one thing he knew his mother wanted most, to see her sons grow to be mighty warriors and protect their beloved Lorien.
"Mind you, our mother was not from Lothlorien. She came here with our father after they married. She loved it here. She said there was nowhere else on Middle Earth as sacred as Lothlorien. She reminded us often of how blessed we were to be born in this land. It was so captivating to her and I know she would have never left, had she not died. I know for a fact she would have been one of the last to leave for Valinor. Celeborn told her there would always be room on his ship for her."
Caladwen considered his words. "Is that why Haldir refuses to sail before Celeborn and why he loves Lorien so?" They had decided to take a short rest and have a bit of lembas before moving on.
"I believe so. He wanted to fulfill her dreams but in the process he forsook his own." Rumil took one last bite and packed away the rest. They got up and started on their way again.
Caladwen was confused by his words. "What dreams did Haldir have if not to become a warrior?"
"Haldir always wanted to become a warrior, even before our mother passed." Rumil stopped and turned to Caladwen. "I am not certain I should be telling you all of this."
"Then please, say no more. I do not want you to feel uncomfortable. You have already helped me to see why Haldir is the way he is. I understand him much better now and it will help me confront him." Caladwen smiled warmly at Rumil. They started on their way again.
They had gone on for another ten minutes or so when Rumil spoke but did not stop or look at her. "Haldir accomplished everything our mother wanted from us except one thing. He never fell in love. Our parents loved each other dearly and she would tell us that one day we too would find love of our own. She had envisioned all three of us, bound to our soul mates and blessed with elflings."
"And what became of that dream?" Caladwen asked.
"Orophin has met someone wonderful and plans to begin courtship." Rumil smiled.
"And what about you Rumil? Don't tell me you have not yet met the elleth that steals your heart."
Rumil grinned from ear to ear and a pink tinge spread high on his cheeks. "I have recently met one that captured my attention though I do not know if our hearts have been involved just yet."
Caladwen noticed how innocent he sounded just then. "Tell me this. At the slightest touch or a brush of a hand, is there a feeling that you cannot explain?" she said with a sly smile.
Rumil stopped again and turned to face her. "Yes, we have both felt the same thing, but how did you know?"
Caladwen patted his shoulder. "You need not worry about your hearts for they are already involved."
They went on their way and Caladwen's heart swelled with joy at the thought of Orophin and Rumil being in the early stages of love. It reminded her of when she first realized she loved Leodred. It was sweet and felt very satisfying yet nothing compared to the love Elves shared. What she experienced was human love and it was special. She knew she would never love another Man.
She knew they were getting close for she saw some talans coming up on their left. Rumil stopped and turned to her. "Wait here. I will inform Haldir of your arrival and come back for you." He sighed before he left, as if building his courage to confront his brother.
Caladwen sensed his distress. "I promise I will not let you fully take the blame nor will I allow him to punish you too harshly."
Rumil looked at her with worry. "You promise much, Lady Caladwen." With that, Rumil left her to find Haldir.
While she waited, she saw some Galadhrim warriors coming in her direction. Caladwen opened her pack and took out her cloak. She quickly wrapped herself in it and pulled the hood over her head, trying to hid her identity as best she could. As the Elves passed by, she kept her head down. They nodded as they passed by but nothing more. She returned the gesture and decided to move on in the direction Rumil went. There was a pathway connecting the trees and every so often, a platform. Rope ladders were coiled up at the edge, ready to be lowered in a hurry. The Elves rarely walked on the ground in this part of the forest. Safety was in the trees where they remained hidden.
As she walked, she heard raised voices coming from the right. She recognized them as being Haldir and Rumil. Haldir did indeed sound quite furious and told Rumil to take her back right away. When she heard him say he would not see her now anyways, she felt her blood begin to boil. She had come a long way to speak to the Marchwarden. The least he could do was tell her himself that he wished her to leave. She followed the voices until she spotted their silver heads. They were on a platform which was very close to the tree line.
"I will deal with you later Rumil but for now you are to escort her from here first thing in the morning. It is too late to leave now. There has been recent activity and it is not safe." Haldir shook his head. "What were you thinking to bring her here?"
"She would have come without my help. I thought it was better for her not to go alone than to risk danger without an escort." Rumil said standing up for himself. "Why will you not see her? At least speak with her before we leave."
"I do not want to speak with her, especially when I am on duty. What kind of message am I sending to the others if I allow a female here?" Haldir said angrily.
Caladwen had heard enough. She came forward and approached the two brothers. "Maybe it is time to change the rules." she said loudly. Haldir and Rumil both spun around to see Caladwen standing on the platform. "Have you learned nothing of the ire of a woman? We may seem sweet and gentle but do not make us angry."
"And I say you have not seen the true wrath of a Marchwarden whose rules have been broken." Haldir countered.
Caladwen and Haldir locked eyes on each other. Rumil sensed the tension and put himself between them. "Why is there such hostility? I for one am tired of it."
"She has broken the rules and must face the consequences." Haldir said sternly, eyes in slits.
Caladwen decided this 'give and take' scenario was not working out to her advantage. As long as she stayed on the defensive, Haldir would not back down. She lowered her stare and rounded her shoulders. "I'm sorry Haldir. I did not mean to break any rules." She looked at Rumil who was still ready to intervene. "Rumil, will you give us a moment?"
Rumil nodded to Caladwen and turned to Haldir. As he walked past him he whispered in his ear. "Go easy on her my brother." Haldir remained silent.
When Rumil was gone Caladwen approached Haldir. "Please hear me out before you send me away."
Haldir eyed her a moment longer before he spoke. "Caladwen, you should not be here. There have been reports of violence not far from the border and it is believed they may be moving in this direction. I do not have time to discuss anything at the moment."
"I know it was foolish of me to come. Please do not be upset with Rumil. I threatened to come without him and he was only looking out for my well-being."
Haldir looked around to see if any of the others were watching them but there was no one around. He turned his attention back to Caladwen. "Why have you come? Could this not wait until I returned?"
"Would you have come to me when you returned, or would you still avoid me? This is why I came here. Haldir, I think we need to figure out what exactly happened to us."
Haldir creased his eyebrows. "Why will you not forget about what happened? Caladwen, I don't know what you felt but for me it was irrelevant. It was just a feeling and we should not dwell on it any longer."
"What are you afraid of, Haldir?" Caladwen said reaching for his hand. Haldir pulled away, afraid of what might happen if they touched. "So this is how it is going to be." she said with hurt in her voice. "Fine then, have it your way, but the time will come when you must face your fears. I could help you, you know. Maybe that is all this is. Maybe I am supposed to help you heal."
Haldir stood up straight and tall. "I need no healing. As a matter of fact, I was fine until I went to Ithilien. Ever since then, my life has not been the same."
"You want me to leave?" she said half question, half statement. When Haldir did not answer her, a tear fell down her cheek. "Fine, I will not stay here any longer than I must. Then you can have your precious life back."
Haldir did not want her to leave but he would never admit his feelings for her either. Somewhere deep inside, a voice rose up and began to speak. "Cala…" he began but was cut off.
"Haldir, the enemy approaches from the east." Rumil said running up to his brother.
"Rumil, take Caladwen to my talan and guard her. I cannot leave my post." he finally said.
"As you wish, brother." Rumil took Caladwen's hand and started to lead her away when suddenly an arrow whizzed by their heads. It stuck into a tree behind them. The red fletching told them it came from the Corsairs. Haldir and Rumil looked at each other, confused.
"Pirates?" Rumil questioned. "They have never travel so far up the river before."
"They are desperate men in desperate times." Haldir answered and another arrow flew by very close. "There is no time to get her to the talan." He turned to Caladwen. "I want you to climb up to the next platform and wait there. Their arrows cannot reach you at that height."
"I can help you fight, Haldir." she pleaded.
"Absolutely not. I will not put you in harms way." Then he grabbed her forearm and looked deep into her eyes. "You are to special to lose, pen vuin [dear one]."
They locked eyes for a moment and she saw his desperation to see her to safety. "I will go." she said and went to the rope ladder that lead to a higher platform. Caladwen grabbed it and started climbing.
Haldir was about to make his way back to the battle when suddenly he heard a thump and a moan. His heart fell when he realized where the noise came from. He turned to see Caladwen fall from the ladder and lie motionless on the platform.
"CALADWEN!" he screamed and ran to her. She was face down and an arrow protruded from her back. Haldir turned her face so he could see her. Blood trickled from the corner of her mouth. She opened her eyes and tried to say something.
There were tears in Haldir's eyes. "Try not to speak." he said to her. He noticed she was having trouble breathing. He brushed the hair from her face. "Lay still, Caladwen. We need to get you to the healer." Haldir looked up at Rumil who was frozen by what he saw. "Go fetch the healers. Tell them she was shot by a stray arrow." Rumil ran off immediately. Haldir brushed the hair from Caladwen's face. "I should not have made you climb the ladder. This is my fault. I am supposed to protect you." Haldir was shaking.
Caladwen began choking and more blood came from her mouth. He spoke Elvish words to try and soothe her. Then he turned her onto her side and saw that she was crying and his heart broke. "I'm sorry meleth [love], I'm so sorry." he whispered to her, not realizing what he said.
"Haldir." Her voice was raspy. "Why did you call me by that name?"
He wasn't sure what she was talking about and instead told her not to speak by putting his finger to his lips. Just then the healers came and took over. Haldir backed away so they could help her. One broke off the main part of the arrow. Two others laid a litter on the ground next to Caladwen . They carefully placed her on it and took her away to the healing talan. Haldir started to go with her but Rumil grabbed his arm. "You are needed in the battle, my brother. Caladwen is in the care of the healers now. Let them do their job while you tend to yours."
"But I swore to stay with her." Haldir said watching the healers carry her off.
"There are more enemies than first reported. We need every Galadhrim, including you." Rumil said laying his hand on Haldir's shoulder. The Marchwarden stood a moment longer then he and Rumil ran off to the battle.
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.