Chapter 2 - Caladwen
Haldir had not been to Ithilien since he escorted the Lady Eowyn and her daughter. He remembered how the journey then had been bittersweet. Eowyn was finally happy and in love with Faramir. Their relationship would only blossom from there on out. Lord Faramir took Caladwen in as his step-daughter and loved her like his own. Haldir was happy for them but he also knew his time with Caladwen was over. She would live in Emyn Arnen with Eowyn and Faramir. Legolas would visit often, being he lived close by in the forest of North Ithilien. It was agreed that Caladwen would be raised amongst Men until the day came when she decided for herself which direction she would take.
Anxiously, Haldir approached the palace. A messenger was sent out ahead of him, informing Eowyn of his arrival. It was no surprise when he saw her running down the steps to greet him. Though she was still very beautiful, it saddened his heart to see her slight aging. It made him realized just how short of a time humans had on this earth. For a brief second, he thought of Legolas and his choice to live with mortals. How the Mirkwood Prince was able to accept their fates was beyond his understanding.
"Haldir, it is so good to see you," Eowyn said embracing the impassive Elf. She had been the only one to ever see Haldir's vulnerable side and he wanted to keep it that way. Eowyn released her hold on him and took a step backwards. He stood stiff as a pillar.
"My Lady Eowyn, it is a pleasure to look upon you once again. Tell me, how are things in Ithilien?" he said with a slight smile in the corner of his mouth.
Eowyn looked him up and down. "Ithilien is once again beaming with pride. You have not changed one bit Marchwarden. I see you are still just as reserved as the day I met you." Then leaning towards him she added, "But I know you better than that." She patted him on the arm. "Come Haldir. My husband has been anxiously waiting to see you."
They entered the palace and went towards Faramir's study. Haldir had only been here once and it seemed things hadn't changed since then. It was a beautiful home with its wooden columns and wide open windows. There was a lot of nature strewn about, planted pots and trees that grew just outside the doors and windows. It was the human equivalent to a talan if ever there was such a thing. Instead of being housed in a tree, it was on the ground; a very pleasing place, even to an elf.
"So, what brings you to the realm of Gondor? You do not leave your Golden Woods so easily. Is all well in Lothlorien?" Eowyn asked as they walked down the hall.
"All is as it should be and a much quieter place since you and your clan journeyed here, my lady," he said with a smirk on his face.
Eowyn laughed. "Admit it Haldir. You became rather fond of the chaos back then. We kept you on your toes."
Haldir looked around the palace. "Speaking of chaos, where is Caladwen? When last I saw her she was only a child."
"She is down at the practice fields," Eowyn said.
"Ah, she must be quite the archer by now," Haldir said. "I assume Legolas has taught her well."
"Legolas teaches her the craft of the Elves when she visits his city. Here at the palace she works on her swordplay. She is the daughter of a Shieldmaiden first and foremost. Let us not forget that."
"My Lady will never let me forget," Haldir said rather arrogantly as he rolled his eyes.
They approached the door to Faramir's study. "Here we are, Marchwarden. I will leave you two to talk but we will meet up again for dinner." Eowyn bowed her head and turned to leave but Haldir grabbed her arm.
"It is good to see you again also, Lady Eowyn," he whispered, letting his guard down and being himself with her. Eowyn smiled for she knew she was the only one to ever witness this side of Haldir.
Faramir was at his desk when the door slowly opened. A glow emanated from the opening and Faramir knew who it was even before he saw him. "Haldir. Come in. Come in. It has been years since I saw you last."
Haldir entered the room and bowed to Faramir. "I send greetings from Lothlorien and Lord Celeborn."
Faramir walked out from behind his desk and went to meet Haldir. They each laid a hand on the others shoulder. Faramir smiled but Haldir kept his face stone-like with only a hint of an upturned lip.
"To what do I owe this pleasure? Certainly there must be a reason for the Marchwarden of Lorien to leave his borders and visit my simple city. Come now and join me in a glass of wine."
They went out onto the balcony of Faramir's study and had a seat. Haldir looked out towards Osgiliath. "It seems the city has been restored to its full luster," the elf said. "It is once again shining with pride as it once was."
"Yes, it has been a long hard road but we have managed to stay ahead of ourselves. My people have taken a personal interest in the restoration. It is a city which truly belongs to its people," Faramir said proudly. Then he regarded the elf with a questioning curiosity. "You still have not answered my question. I know you well Haldir. You do not leave your forest home unless it is of the utmost importance. Please don't misunderstand me. I am glad to be blessed by your company, but there must be a good reason for your visit. Is all well in Lorien?"
Haldir sat still as a stone with his hardened face and starred out over the railing of the balcony. "The Lord Celeborn asked that I come here and check your progress along with Prince Legolas' rebuilding of the forest."
"And there is no other reason?" Faramir asked. "Are you not the least bit curious about Caladwen?"
"I have already asked the Lady Eowyn and she informed me of her whereabouts," Haldir responded.
Faramir stood up and walked to the railing. "You know, she missed you tremendously when you left. You were very close to her in her first few years of life. She asked about you often."
"I will admit she was missed greatly in Lorien. Even the trees themselves seemed to grieve. She brightened the Golden Wood in a way not seen since Lady Galadriel roamed there. Lothlorien fades with every elf that leaves for the Grey Havens." Haldir stood and went to where Faramir stood. "I guess even I felt a little lost when she left. I made a promise to her and I felt I could not keep it. My place is in Lorien, nowhere else. I could not follow."
Now Faramir understood the reason for the Marchwarden's visit. He smiled to Haldir. "She will be excited to see you. We did not expect you until later. If you would like, you can surprise her at the practice fields."
"I believe I will do just that. I would much like to see her skills with a blade." Haldir sat his glass down on a nearby table then followed Faramir back inside his study.
They headed down to the practice field where many young ladies were sparing with their trainers. Haldir stood tall and proud, scanning the field. He knew her as soon as he saw her golden head. Hair that color could only belong to one of elven blood. It was braided and tied back at the sides, like that of her Mirkwood kin. She wore a brown leather jerkin over a green tunic which hung to her knees. Haldir couldn't help but think of Eowyn's Shieldmaiden outfit. Then again, she looked very much like a woodland elf. It was odd to see her swinging her sword rather than notching arrows. She was quite poetic as her movements were smooth and swift. She was focused deeply on her opponent, never dropping her stare. Metal clashed with metal as the duel began. Caladwen raised her blade in an effort to block an attack. Just as quickly, she brought the sword back down to protect her lower torso. She saw her opponent's weakness and held his gaze for just a moment but long enough to distract him with her blue eyed stare. Her smile was infectious and Haldir thought he himself would have been thrown off his game. Then, within the blink of an eye, she spun her body around and was behind her partner with her sword resting at his gut. Had this been an actual battle, the man would have been sliced in half and still aware of his predicament before he fell dead to the ground. Haldir was mesmerized by her quick fluid movements. He stood by the tree and clapped his hands slowly as Caladwen finished talking to her partner. She turned to face her admirer and her heart stopped as she recognized him right away.
"Sweet Eru. Haldir, is it you? Are you really here?" she said with a grin that stretched from ear to ear. She sat her sword down on the ground where she stood and ran to the Marchwarden. Haldir noticed right away what a beautiful young woman she had grown into. She was eighteen years old now and she was breathtaking. Her porcelain skin was flawless and her hair was long, with a slight waviness to it, like Eowyn's. But the color was a match to Legolas'. She was tall and thin yet not like any elleth. Her body was curvier like that of a human. What drew him to her the most was her glow. That was something only one of elven blood could possess. She was absolutely beautiful and Haldir was slightly taken aback. He did not expect to have this kind of reaction to her.
Caladwen ran to Haldir and threw her arms around him, embracing his muscled body. He was very tense and she thought she was hugging a marble statue. She looked at him and laughed. "Still the same Haldir I used to know. You do not let your guard down even when you are amongst friends."
"Well, the last time you came running to me, it was only my leg that was attacked." he said and a slight smile formed. Caladwen noticed right away and put her hand to the side of his face.
"That's better." she simply stated and turned to retrieve her sword. While she had her back turned to him, she collected herself. Seeing Haldir stirred something within her, something she never before experienced. He was much more handsome than she ever noticed. In her mind, she remembered Haldir as being like a guard. He was very tall and very intimidating. She always felt safe with him and she never thought of him as anything other than that. Now, here she was a young adult with a mind and a heart ready for adventure. She had heard the stories of Haldir and his dealings with different kings and wars. It was all very much romanticized the way the tales were told. She pictured him looking much different in her mind, older maybe or more worn from his long life. But as she looked upon him now, he seemed so young and beautiful. He captured her attention and she thought of herself as more an equal. Of course, she knew he had walked this earth for thousands of years. She probably seemed like an infant still in his eyes.
Haldir held his arm out for her and she laid her long fingers upon it as they walked back towards the palace. "You are quite skilled with a sword, Caladwen. I did not expect to see such dexterity at your age."
"You know Mother; she would have it no other way. I have been training since I was eight. It is a very enjoyable sport," she said.
Haldir laughed to himself. "It is such a different world now for you to think of this as a game." This reminded him of his own skill which was needed less and less. "My whole life I never thought of my skill with a bow in this manner. I guess there is not much left to fight against in these days of peace."
"There are still a few rebels which make a stand every now and again. I don't suppose I'll ever have to fight against any." She sounded almost disappointed and Haldir stopped walking.
"My dear, I pray you should never have to look upon such carnage that I've seen during my long life. I would not want the site of war to tarnish those beautiful blue eyes of yours." Haldir looked at her for only a moment before he started walking again. Caladwen's heart fluttered ever so slightly just then. Haldir was very mesmerizing to look upon. There was such authority which emanated from him and she felt caught by his gaze. She brushed this thought aside. Haldir was a family friend, her teacher and wise beyond the ages. Must be the magic of the elves she thought to herself. Besides, there was another which her attention was set on, though she was not sure when she would see him again. As she thought of him, this man, her heart pound in her chest. Haldir sensed a change in her and once again stopped to look at her.
"Your mind is preoccupied by someone. Who is it that has caught the heart of this young maiden?" he said suddenly.
Caladwen blushed and felt as if her mind had been invaded. Never before had this happened to her and she felt very vulnerable. She looked away from Haldir, afraid of what else he might see.
"So the young Caladwen is in love. This much I did not expect," he said knowing he caused her discomfort.
"It is true. I have met someone and given him my heart though I do not know when I will see him again. He has probably already forgotten about me as he is off to train with the Rohirrim."
Haldir smiled to himself as he thought how fitting it was that she would fall for a man of Rohan. "And what do your parents think of this?"
"Mother and Faramir warned me to let things develop slowly and they have. But Ada [Dad] thinks I am too young to think about such things." As she spoke, Haldir heard the disappointment in her voice as she spoke about Legolas.
"In the eyes of the elves you are but a child and will seem that way for a long time yet. You have many years before you reach your maturity." Haldir saw a fire build behind those piercing blue eyes. Where had he seen that look before? Oh yes, he could not forget. Eowyn had given him the same deathly stare a time or two. So like her mother she is he thought to himself. Perhaps he should not have delved so deep into her private life.
"All my life there has been conflict about how I should behave because of my age. Mother tells me I am growing up so fast and Ada treats me as if I am still a babe in arms. I am neither human nor elf-kind. I have made no choice yet as a Peredhil. I want to live my life the way that seems right at the moment and right now I am in love with a man. In Rohan, girls my age have already started a family."
Haldir's eyes widened at this comment. "Do not worry Marchwarden; I am far from wanting such things for myself. I love him dearly and he loves me too. We wait for his training to end and then we want to marry, after a proper courtship of course."
"That is a significant change in your life and you must be careful about such a decision. Do not forget your elven blood," Haldir said concerned by this development.
"I understand that Haldir. Ada constantly reminds me. I also understand my feelings for him and if he should ask me to marry him, I will accept. I love him. He is a good man," Caladwen said with a gleam in her eyes. Haldir could see how much she cared for him.
"So, what is this young man's name?" he asked.
Caladwen smiled. "His name it Leodred. I met him during one of our visits to Rohan. He worked in the stables, raising the foals. His dream is to become one of the Rohirrim like his father before him. He never knew him for he died before Leodred was born. His father fought in the War of the Ring at Pelennor field and lost his life there. Leodred is not of royalty nor is he a peasant. He is just a very special man trying to do what he thinks is right in honoring his father's memory."
"He seems to be very forthright and admirable. I hope you find what you are looking for, Caladwen," Haldir said.
As they walked up the steps to enter the palace, Haldir stopped them before they went any further. Caladwen turned to him and studied his countenance. It seemed like there was something on his mind. "What is it Haldir? What bothers you?"
The tall elf took both of Caladwen's hands in his and looked at her long fingers. "I am sorry. I'm sorry I did not make good on my promise to be your Guardian these past years. I feel I have let you down. This is the reason for my visit. Lord Celeborn sensed my anxiety and demanded I come here. I have mourned your absence from Lorien but I am here now to make good on my promise. Please forgive me, Lady Caladwen," he said emphasizing the word 'lady'. Haldir bowed to her as he said his peace.
Caladwen felt awkward having Haldir bow to her. Then he called her Lady and she was taken aback. No one had ever called her that before. That title was reserved for those of adulthood. It made her feel special. She looked into Haldir's beautiful grey eyes. "There is nothing to forgive. No harm has been done."
"Thank you my lady." Haldir said dropping her hands and once again offering her his arm. She took it gladly and they turned for the palace once more.
They began walking again and as Haldir stopped to open the door for Caladwen, she leaned over and kissed him on his cheek. If Haldir could have blushed, he would have. However, he maintained his ascendancy and continued into the palace. "And what was that for little one?"
Caladwen smiled to her Guardian. "No one has called me Lady before. Thank you," she said with a blush. Haldir gave her a slight smile and it warmed her heart. "Are you planning on staying for a while? I hope you do not need to leave soon. I would dearly love to catch up on things."
Haldir was feeling needed again by Caladwen's request. "I believe I will be staying indefinitely. It seems my assistance is being requested and I have a promise to fulfill."
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.