22. Home Again
Chapter 22 Home Again
A few weeks later, Caladwen and Haldir arrived in Ithilien. Much had changed since she had been gone. The palace was still just as grand as ever but the trees were taller and the gardens were bursting with life. Waiting for them at the gates was her half-brother Elboron. He wore a smile that stretched from ear to ear but there was pain in his eyes. She ran to him and they embraced. She noticed how much he had grown. "You were merely a boy the last time I saw you." she said smiling. "You have found love." she said with excitement.
"Yes, we met in Minas Tirith. Her name is Adwethien. We have known each other for a while and she was very stubborn but she finally agreed to marry me. I was just getting ready to send word when news of Father arrived." Elboron said.
"You will have to tell me all about her. But first, I must see Faramir. How is he?" Caladwen asked.
"He is better now. The healers give him medicine for the pain. He is not bound to his bed and he is still quite feisty. He just requires more rest now. Mother watches over him day and night. She will not let him out of her sight. This has been harder on her than any of us."
"I imagined it would be." Caladwen said and noticed a surprised look on Elboron's face.
"You seem to have not aged at all over the years. Yet there is something different about you." he said and then he looked past her shoulder and saw Haldir speaking with the guards at the gate. "Haldir came with you? I should have known. He never leaves your side." It was then that he saw what was different about his sister. "You are in love too. I can see it now. Who is he?"
Caladwen blushed and looked over her should to the Marchwarden. Elboron smiled again. "I knew it. There was always something between you two." He laughed. "Haldir? Really? You must have done something special to get him to admit he has a heart."
Caladwen slapped his arm. "I had to almost die in the process."
"You should not joke about such things. Mother and Legolas were worried sick when they got word of your injury. Your father was ready to leave for Lorien but Mother calmed him." Elboron said. "Does Legolas know about Haldir?"
"Besides the Elves in Lothlorien, you are the only one who knows. Please do not say anything just yet. I am not ready to tell them. This is all very new to Haldir and I and we are trying to adjust. I am not ready to let the whole world in yet."
"Your secret is safe with me dear sister. Mother may not suspect anything but Legolas is bound to know. He has always been able to sense such things."
"I know. I do not know how he will react to the news. He was against Leodred and me. There is no telling what he will say when he learns about Haldir. I will cross that bridge when I get to it." Caladwen smiled and hugged her brother once more. "It is truly good to be home."
Haldir decided it was best to let the family visit for a while before he made his presence known. After all, he still thought of himself as her protector, not part of the family and he knew of Caladwen's nervousness to tell anyone about their love. He was actually grateful she wanted to keep it secret for now.
Caladwen went up the steps and entered into the great hall of the palace. It brought back so many memories to be here again. She could remember many games of hide and seek played in this very hall. Though she was a few years older than her brother was, they got along wonderfully as children. The palace was still just as bright and beautiful as ever. She continued along until she came to Faramir's study. She lightly knocked on the door.
"Come in." said a familiar voice and she noticed there was no change there. She slowly opened the door and went in to find Faramir sitting in a comfortable chair by the fireplace.
His face lit up at the sight of her. "Caladwen, it is wonderful to see you here. Your mother told me you were coming for a visit. It has been a long time. Let me look at you." He stood and went to where she was standing by the door. Faramir took her hands and lifted them in the air. Then he let go of one hand and twirled her with the other. She giggled and her eyes shown bright.
"I have missed you too." she said and noticed how tired he looked. She did not let her sadness show for it seemed Faramir was far from being languid and decrepit. Outside of a tinge of grey in his hair and beard, he looked rather well, just tired. "I came as soon as I heard you were not feeling well."
"They over exaggerate. Besides needing a little more rest than usual, I feel good. You did not need to come so soon but I am glad you are here."
Caladwen walked him back to his chair. "I have been in Lorien for a long time. It is good to be out amongst the world again."
Faramir got a far away look in his eyes. "How is life in that magical place? Long has it been since I've seen the land of the Elves."
"I think it is the fairest land of all, though the Elves say it is not what it once was." Caladwen said in a dreamy voice.
Faramir looked upon his stepdaughter with a curious eye. There was something very telling in her voice. "You have not aged a day since I last saw you yet there is much more wisdom in your demeanor. Life with the Elves becomes you."
Caladwen blushed as she thought about the real reason for the changes in her behavior. She smiled shyly and Faramir noticed it right away. "You have found someone, have you not? I see it in your eyes and the way you carry yourself. Tell me, do I know him?" Faramir had a pretty good idea of who he thought it was.
"Yes, you know him quite well." she answered, afraid to reveal anymore.
Faramir knew it was Haldir she spoke of. "He is a very noble Elf. I knew you would one day be drawn to him. It was inevitable."
"That is nearly the same thing Elboron said. How is it you have both foreseen this without me saying a word? No one besides those in Lorien knows."
Faramir laughed. "My dear, your love shows as a banner being waved high above its kingdom. I can think of no one else who would be as devoted to you as Haldir is. It was only a matter of time." He reached for her hand. "Does Legolas know yet?"
"No, but if it is so evident to you and Elboron, Ada has probably already sensed it before I even entered the land." Caladwen's smile disappeared. "I'm afraid he will not be as joyous as you or my brother."
"Legolas cares for you well being. He loves you so much and he only wants what is best. But he knows not to interfere in anything you decide upon. He may have much advice though."
Just then, Elboron came into the room and they sat and talked for a while. A maid brought in a tray of food and drink for everyone. As they ate, Caladwen told them about her time in Lothlorien and the injury she sustained. Since they already knew about her and Haldir, she told them how he almost died to save her. When they asked why she wasn't armed, she explained their laws about ellith not being allowed to fight and what it took to convince them to let her take up practicing again. As she was complaining about not being allowed to put her skills to work, Legolas strode into the study. Caladwen jumped up and ran to her father, embracing him as tightly as she could.
"I have missed you so much, Ada. You have no idea how good it is to be in Ithilien again. How are things in the Forest?" she said.
"You will just have to see for yourself." Legolas said in a smooth voice. "I have set up your own talan. I thought you might like to stay with me while you visit."
"I would like that very much. I have missed my friends and cannot wait to see them all again."
Legolas joined in the conversation with Faramir and Elboron. They stayed clear of anything about Haldir or the night of her unfortunate accident. Caladwen would speak to Legolas about that later, when it was just the two of them. Still, the conversation went on and they all caught up with each other.
Again, the door slowly opened and Eowyn entered, carrying another tray but this one was full of medicines and herbs meant for Faramir. She knew the others were here and decided to give them some time with each other before she came along.
Caladwen smiled wide when she saw her mother. "There you are. I was wondering when you would join our little reunion." she said as she went to Eowyn.
Eowyn sat the tray down on a table by the door and stretched her arms out, capturing her daughter. The two women embraced each other and shared a private moment of contempt and joy to be holding each other once more. They separated and Eowyn took Caladwen's face in her hands. "Look how beautiful you are." she said looking at her eyes. A little light shown in them. "I have missed you, my daughter. You had us worried sick when we learned of your injury. It seems you have made a full recovery."
"Yes Mother. If it wasn't for Haldir…"
"If it wasn't for Haldir, you may never have been put in that situation in the first place." Legolas said as he walked up to them. "I have been informed that the Marchwarden came with you."
"Yes Ada, but he remains back in the courtyard. He merely escorted me here. He will be returning to Lorien as soon as I am settled and he feels he is no longer needed." she said in a formal manner. The last thing she needed was to give away her secret. If anyone could pull the wool over Legolas' eyes, it was Caladwen. She understood how her father's thought process worked and she hid her love well. It would only be temporary though. She could not bury her feelings for Haldir forever.
"I would very much like to speak with him." Legolas stated.
Eowyn felt the tenseness. "My dear friend Haldir is here and nobody told me? I have not seen him in many years."
"You will have time to catch up later." Faramir said. "Let us enjoy this homecoming while we can."
Eowyn went to Faramir and kissed him. Caladwen could not help but notice the love they still shared after all these years. What she and Haldir had was so new; they had not had time to get to know each other before she had to leave. She figured he would only stay in Ithilien for a couple days, a week at the most before he returned. She wondered if they would ever know and love each other as Faramir and Eowyn did.
The conversations and storytelling went on for a while until Eowyn noticed Faramir looking a little tired. She decided he needed his rest and chased everyone out. Caladwen and Legolas left together to spend some father/daughter time together. Elboron went in search of Haldir. He hadn't seen him since he arrived and wanted to warn him about Legolas' mention of his 'duty' to Caladwen that night of the battle.
"So, how are your teachings going? I hear you have arranged for some of the Elves to frequent Rohan. The Rohirrim are a very superstitious people. They have often misunderstood the Elves of Lothlorien." Legolas asked as they walked about the grounds of the palace.
"They have graciously accepted each other as neighbors and now understand just how misled they all were. It is a wonderful thing to witness the joining of two different races." she answered.
Legolas smiled. "I know all about it." he said referring to his time he spent with Eowyn.
"You still love her very much, don't you Ada?"
"I will always love your mother. Things have been difficult for her lately. As Faramir weakens, she becomes more forlorn. Of course, no one would know since she keeps it so well hidden, but I feel it every time I am near her. Your coming here has strengthened her."
"I will stay as long as I am needed. Actually, my time in Lorien is beginning to feel lessened. Communication has been opened amongst Men and Elves in that region. Thanks to Gimli, years earlier, both races are already very accommodating to Dwarves. I think it is almost time for me to move on. I just haven't gotten the call yet."
Legolas looked confused. "Call?"
"Yes, that is what I have named it. When Leodred and I moved to Rohan, I naturally began teaching the Rohirrim about the Elves. It was very satisfying to pass on my knowledge. My path was set and I fell into a comfortable routine there. I had not given any thought to my future. When Leodred died and I was lost, I did not want to teach anymore. I did not want to do much of anything. Then Haldir came and pulled me out of my depression. He persuaded me to take up teaching again, which I did. It wasn't as satisfying anymore. At first, I thought it was because of Leodred's death. Soon I learned it was because I had taught them all I could. In the process, they taught me many things about Rohan. With this new information in my head, I discovered my next path and that was to go to Lorien and pass on what I had learned from Rohan. Haldir was ready to return home and I felt it was the place I was needed at the time. I got the call."
"And where will you go next?" Legolas asked, intrigued by his daughters rapid maturity.
"I don't know. Right now I am needed here, with my family." Caladwen stopped walking and Legolas turned to her. "Ada, how long do you think Faramir has?"
"He is still strong. I do not feel his fea weakening. I think he still has several good years left in him. Are you willing to stay here that long?"
"I am here for as long as I am needed." she said.
Legolas smiled. "Good. It brings me great joy to have you here."
They continued on walking in silence for a while. Then Legolas asked the one question that had been plaguing his mind for some time now. "What happened that night when the Corsairs attacked? Why were you at the borders, Caladwen? I know the laws of Lothlorien and it is forbidden for females to be there."
She was dreading this moment. She could not lie to Legolas. "Ada, I cannot discuss this with you right now. Some things have taken place lately and I am not sure where they lead."
"You will not answer my question? I merely want to know why you felt so compelled to break the rules. And why was Haldir not there to protect you or at least send you back to the city?"
Caladwen dropped her eyes to her hands. "It was because of Haldir that I went. He was already at the border and did not know of my coming. He was protecting me when I was shot. He had sent me to the higher talans but as I climbed the rope, a stray arrow struck me. Ada, you must understand, it was Haldir who saved my life. During that time, we discovered that we share a connection much deeper than either one of us could ever know. Because of the connection, I am here today."
Legolas looked at Caladwen with much concern. "What was so important that you could not wait for him to return to the city? There is something you are not telling me." Legolas took her chin in his fingers and tilted her head up so he could look into her eyes. There he found his answer. She could hide her feelings no longer. He released her and a crease formed on his brow. When he said nothing right away, Caladwen began to worry.
"We had a falling out. We hadn't spoken to each other in days. I do not know what came over me. I suddenly needed to see him. He had been gone so long, it felt like he may never return to the city." she whispered. "We have only ever been friends over the years. He has always been there in my time of need. When I was young and had feelings for King Aragorn's son, it was Haldir who knew they would never be returned and helped me to seek greener pastures. When Leodred died and I thought I would never again emerge from my grief, Haldir came and showed me the light. When I was dying and my fea was leaving my body, Haldir pulled me back in. He could not have saved me if it wasn't for this… love… we discovered."
"Love?" Legolas said with a touch of worry in his voice. "Surely this is one sided. What does Haldir know of love? He cares for nothing but his precious Woods."
"He cares for me, Ada. Why do you think he is here now? I could have traveled on my own or with a small company from Lorien. Haldir is needed in his home yet he still came with me."
"Because he swore to protect you and guard you. He is merely fulfilling his oath." Legolas' countenance softened. "Do not be misled by his actions. Haldir has a disreputable past involving ellith. He is a great warrior and loves his home very much. I would trust him with my life in battle, but in affairs of the heart I do not, especially when it comes to my daughter."
"He has changed, Ada. The time he spent with Nieriel helped him to…"
"Yet another proof of his sordid ways. He seduced her and took her from her home only to leave her alone when her time came to sail." Legolas said this as if the Marchwarden personally deceived him.
"She let him go. He came to me in my time of need. I felt terrible that this happened. Nieriel gave him permission to go. Even she could see where his true path lay. Please, Ada, I ask you to let us discover what has happened between us. Talk to him and see for yourself the change in him."
"I intend on speaking to the Marchwarden, though he may not like what I have to say." Legolas stated.
Caladwen sighed. She knew there was no getting around this. Haldir would see a side of Legolas not many had. He was not at all happy to find out about the love his daughter had for the Marchwarden.
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.