23. Love is a Risk
Chapter 23 Love Is a Risk
Haldir stood tall and held his own as he watched Legolas approach him. He had recently spoken with Elboron and knew the Prince was coming to confront him. He would never disrespect Legolas in his own home but he would defend himself and his feelings for the Prince's daughter.
"May I have a word with you Haldir?" Legolas said in a non-threatening way.
"Of course my lord, but might I suggest we walk a little ways from prying eyes and ears?" Haldir answered. They walked a short distance from the palace before Legolas stopped and spoke.
"I assume you know why I am here, Marchwarden. I will let you speak before I come to any conclusions on the matter. I am fair and just. I have heard what my daughter has had to say. Now I would like to hear it from you. You may be my elder by a few thousand years, but this concerns Caladwen and I will protect her at any cost." Legolas had never looked more monarchal as he did at that moment.
Haldir took a more submissive stance. "I assure you, Prince Legolas, that what has transpired between Caladwen and I is genuine, despite what you might think. I will not pretend you do not know my past. I have made many poor decisions and I will one day be judged by the Valar. I believe they have given me a chance to redeem myself. They have given me a gift I thought I would never receive, a chance to experience love. Caladwen is very special to me and I would do nothing to harm her. I understand her purpose and I feel I can help her on her journey." Haldir stopped and looked Legolas straight in the eye. "I love Caladwen and for the first time I feel no fear from my emotions. Allow me to prove to you that I am being as honest as I can."
What could Legolas say? Could he tell him no, that he could not pursue his daughter? It would be wrong since he promised to never interfere with her choices. Still, the Prince was wary and had his doubts. Why of all the Elves in Middle Earth did it have to be Haldir?
"I am most grateful to you for saving Caladwen's life. I will never be able to repay you for your actions. I understand the connection you have as her Guardian. That is the gift the Valar have bestowed upon you. What I question is this love you both say you share. Prove to me that you are worthy of my daughter before I give you my blessing. Stay true to her and let her continue on her path without interference. You can in no way influence her decision as a Peredhil. This choice she must make alone. Tell me this, Haldir. You say you love her and I am sure that is based on her decision to become Elf-kind. But what if she chooses a mortal life? What will you do then? Will you abandon her to save your heart? Are you willing to take that risk? I do not believe you have thought it through. You are her Guardian and any other feelings you have for her might cloud your judgment. I wish you would not pursue anything else at this time. I know of your fears Marchwarden and I will not have my daughter's heart broken because of them. As for now, I will leave you both alone to discover what it is you have felt lately. Please think things through before your hearts become anymore involved." Legolas finished saying all he had to say and bowed to Haldir. He left the Marchwarden to ponder what he said. Haldir knew he was correct in his assumption. He hadn't thought it through. Discovering his love for Caladwen had taken over his mind and he gave no thought to the future. Yet he would not turn away from her. His love for her ran deep.
~ ^ ~ ^ ~ ^ ~
Meanwhile, Caladwen met up with Elboron at the stables. They decided to take their horses out for a few hours. Elboron wanted to tell her all about his new love. Caladwen was very excited for him.
"It amazes me how you have matured, Brother. So tell me about Adwethien. Where did you meet her and when?"
Elboron rode next to Caladwen. "I was helping Father by running errands to Minas Tirith for the King. On this day, I was asked to wait while the King wrote a return message. I was admiring the grand garden of the Citadel when she caught my eye."
"Was it love at first sight?" Caladwen asked, remembering her childhood love, Leodred.
"Actually, she was strolling through the garden with another. I could tell she was not happy with her company. There was something about her that I found intriguing. I watched and waited until she bid her male friend farewell and then I approached her. We struck up a conversation and found we had a lot in common. I found out she was a lady maid to the Queen but not long before that, she trained as a Shieldmaiden in Rohan."
Caladwen laughed. "Mother must have been ecstatic when she learned of her background."
"Oh yes. She knew Adwethien's mother from her own training days. She said her mother never wanted her to be a warrior and eventually set up a meeting with Lady Arwen for her to begin working in Minas Tirith. Adwethien did as her mother asked but her heart would remain restless. Waiting on royalty was not what she intended to do for the rest of her life. She craves adventure as do I."
"And what happened to her male friend?" Caladwen asked.
"It was not meant to be. After our first meeting, she concluded seeing him. From then on, she was always waiting for me in the courtyard when she knew I was bringing correspondence to the King. I always wished to have to wait for a reply before returning home. It gave us more time together."
"And now you are in courtship. This is truly great news, Brother. I cannot wait to meet her." Caladwen smiled and they sped up the horses to a trot. Soon they came to a cluster of trees and decided to give the horses a rest. The sun was at its highest and the shade of the trees looked very inviting. They let the horses graze while Caladwen and Elboron found a comfortable spot beneath the canopy. When they were finally settled Elboron spoke again.
"So how did this romance come to life with Haldir?" he asked.
"I guess it had been present for some time before we realized it. It is difficult to explain but something happens when we make contact. There is static in the air and it feels as though we cannot part. We were both in denial about our strange situation. Then one evening, I forgot something at the practice field and when I went back, I found Haldir there. Our hands accidentally touched and we seemed to be frozen in time. Up until that moment, I was unsure if Haldir was experiencing the same thing as me. It was then that he finally admitted to it but his reaction was somewhat lessened. After that, we spent weeks avoiding each other."
"That sounds tragic. Is that what compelled you to go to the borders?" Elboron asked.
"Yes. I had missed his company greatly. Haldir was always at the borders. He only came to the city when he knew I wasn't there or busy with other things. I had had enough. We were friends foremost. It seemed foolish to avoid each other any longer. I knew I would never see him unless I went to him. Rumil actually escorted me to the border. Haldir was furious of course. We hadn't spoken long when the attack by the Corsairs happened. Haldir feared for my safety and sent me to the higher talans where arrows would not reach. Unfortunately, one got through and struck me in the back. Haldir stayed with me while I was in a healing sleep. Then, the most amazing thing happened. I began to fade."
Elboron could not help but wonder why that would be amazing. "You were dying?"
"Yes, my fea was leaving me. I could feel myself floating above my earthbound body. So many emotions ran through my head as I was being pulled away. It was not alarming as one would think but rather soothing. I wanted to be drawn away. I wanted to see who was calling to me. Then I was distracted by the most brilliant light form. I turned from the heavens to see what it was and saw Haldir as never before. His arms were outstretched and he was begging me not to leave him. That was when I felt his love for the first time. It engulfed me and steadied my fea. I no longer wanted to leave. I reached out and took his hands. Both of our lights glowed as never before. I felt life returning to me and all I could think of was Haldir. The next thing I remembered was waking up with his arms surrounding me, protecting me. Later, when I looked into his eyes, I saw the change in him. I saw his love for me. He said he experienced something different. He was in some sort of struggle and thought he had lost me. I told him his admission of his love is what saved me. And now here we are."
"I have never heard a story quite like that. Leave it to my sister to find love at the edge of death. I am happy for you." Elboron said and kissed his sister on the forehead.
After a while, they returned to the city. All was quiet. "Where are Mother and Faramir?" Caladwen wondered.
Elboron rolled his eyes. "Knowing those two, they never made it beyond the walls of the palace today."
Caladwen blushed. "I hope Haldir and I will one day become that close."
"Mother and Father share something very special. I am glad things turned out the way they did." Elboron said and Caladwen lowered her head. "I'm sorry. I did not mean…" he said instantly regretting his words.
"It is alright, Elboron. I know you meant no harm. I always wished to see Mother and Ada together but I know it will never happen."
"Legolas will never let Mother be alone. I'm afraid Father has not much time left. You may get your wish yet." Elboron smiled.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Everyone met for the evening meal. Even Haldir showed, after Eowyn demanded he stop making himself scarce. It was an enjoyable evening and the conversations were plenty. Nothing was said about Caladwen and Haldir but plenty of questions were asked about Lothlorien.
Legolas remained silent during the meal and Eowyn took notice. She had spoken to Faramir earlier and was told about Caladwen and Haldir but she hadn't had a chance to speak to her daughter yet. Now she could sense Legolas' opposition. She understood his need to protect her but it was still Caladwen's decision to make as to who she loved. Eowyn would make a point to speak to him about it later.
The meal ended and everyone went off on their own. Eowyn and Faramir went back to the palace, inviting Legolas to join them. Elboron had some other business to take care of. Caladwen and Haldir had not spent much time together and decided to go for a stroll. They headed off towards the stream which ran through the woods. There was a nice quiet spot where they could be alone. Haldir took Caladwen's hand in his and was instantly relieved by their closeness.
"I have missed you." he smiled and Caladwen squeezed his hand.
"What have you been doing in my absence? Where did you go?" she asked as they walked along the edge of a stream.
"I thought it best to give you your freedom while you visited with your family." He paused before he went on. "Your father and I had a talk. He is not pleased with our situation."
"It seems my father is never satisfied with my choices. I thought being away from here for so long might have changed things but I see it has not." Caladwen said sadly.
Haldir stopped next to a small waterfall and turned to Caladwen, resting his hands on her hips. The sound of the falling water soothed their minds. "He has always wanted the best for you. Put yourself in his place. He has had to make difficult decisions in his lifetime and wants your path to be easier. But the Prince knows he cannot get in the way of your decisions. I understand his hesitancy to give his blessing."
"You seem awfully quick to agree with him." Caladwen said accusingly.
Haldir pulled her close and laid a gentle kiss on her cheek. "Let us speak no more of it. There is not much time left before I must leave. We may not see each other for some time. I know you will not part from here until you are sure Faramir gets better or Lady Eowyn has accepted his fate. I have duties to attend to and now Eryn Lasgalen calls for assistance."
"Mirkwood? What happens in my father's land?" Caladwen became concerned.
"Evil still lurks there and new enemies attack. Many think that land has been beaten down through the years but Thranduil's people are strong. Just like all other elven homes, they depart for the sea. They just need some help obtaining their numbers."
"Are you going there to help fight?" she said worriedly.
"I will meet with King Thranduil and assess the situation. I may have to leave some of my warriors there to help in their cause. I do not know if they require my bow as well. It depends on how dire their need is."
Caladwen laid her head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat. She closed her eyes and breathed deep his woodsy scent. Haldir kissed the top of her head and wrapped his arms around her, memorizing everything about her. He could sense her worry.
"Do not fear for me, Melamin [My love]. I have fought this battle before. I will keep safe." He tilted her head so they were looking into each other's eyes. Haldir leaned down and kissed her soft lips. A jolt of electricity ran down his spine as they deepened the kiss. Her arms came up and wrapped around his neck, fingers entwined in his silver hair. Haldir found it difficult to contain himself. His hands traveled down her sides, lightly grazing the curve of her breasts. The world around them seemed to melt away and it was just them.
Caladwen broke the kiss. Desire was in her eyes as she took his hands from her waist and lifted them. She let her lips caress the backs of his hands before she brought them to her chest. She made his fingers brush across her breasts then looked upon his face again.
"Touch me." she whispered and Haldir's hands moved on their own, squeezing her firm breasts. He breathed deep as he felt a warmth spread throughout his body. Again he wrapped his strong arms around her, pressing her body against his. Their lips came together and tongues danced. "Haldir." she whispered in his ear. "Must we wait any longer to quench these desires? I know what I want and it is you. It may be a long time before we see each other again. Give me something to remember you by. Give me a memory to recall upon when I am alone in my bed at night and thinking of you." She let her warm breath caress his ear and then lightly ran her finger to his pointed tip.
Haldir inhaled deep and let out a quiet moan as she touched him. The sensation was like nothing he had ever felt before. He was not sure he could contain himself with her. This was the most intimate they had ever been with each other. "Caladwen, Melamin, strong are my emotions when I am with you; so strong, in fact, that is scares me."
"What we have is beyond normal love. We share a special connection. Our souls have already met and now they call out to each other. Are you afraid that we will go too far as to bind if we make love?"
It was as if she had read his mind. "I suppose that thought has crossed my mind. I know we must both agree to the ritual, but our souls have already encountered one another. You cannot bind yourself to me. You have made no decisions yet and I will not inhibit you in any way, though I know what my heart wants."
"To hear you say this brings me great joy." she said and looked away. "There was a time when I thought you would never feel this way. You are right. We cannot do anything as hasty as this, but can we not be together in body only? I have desired you for so long now."
With Legolas' words ringing loudly in Haldir's ears he shook his head but could not find his voice to deny her. "I… I cannot…"
"Please Haldir. I need you. I want you. I will not let anything go too far. We can control our souls." she begged as her fingers caressed the tip of his ear.
Haldir leaned down and kissed her, letting all of his passion spill forth. Caladwen became lightheaded and felt as though she might faint. Haldir tightened his grip on her then swooped her up into his arms. Looking deep into her crystal blue eyes, he forgot about Legolas' warning to not interfere before her Deciding Day. He only wanted to know her touch, her scent, the feel of her body beneath his. "Where shall we go?" he said simply, without thinking.
His words and the fire in his eyes sent a heat throughout Caladwen's body. She was tingling with sensations. "I know just the place. It is not too far on foot but far enough away from sensitive ears."
Haldir started walking in the direction she told him to go. After a few steps she began to giggle. "You can put me down now Haldir, or are you afraid I will run off?"
"You could not escape me even if you tried, a'maelamin [my beloved]. I would find you wherever you went. I can hear you, smell you, sense you. That will never change between us now. I believe it is part of what makes me your protector." he said putting her feet back on the ground. They continued to follow the tiny stream until they came to a rather large willow tree. Its long branches reached all the way to the ground.
"This is my safe haven." Caladwen said pushing the branches aside. "I used to come here when I wanted to be alone. Growing up was difficult sometimes. There were always those who did not understand my Peredhil heritage and made my life difficult. I would come here to find quiet and ease my mind. I always felt like this tree safeguarded me, like a screen. No one ever found me here."
Haldir's mood changed to hear her words. "It should have been me. I was your Guardian. I was the one who should have kept you from harm. I am sorry I was not there for you in those difficult times."
Caladwen cupped his face in her hands. "Do not blame yourself for the actions of others, my love. What I speak of is childhood bullies, not Orcs and pirates. I believe there was a reason you did not stay in Ithilien with Mother and I. Even though you swore an oath, I feel it wasn't meant to be fulfilled until recently. When my life depended on it, you were there. Now I know you will always be there. The time has finally come for you to follow through with your promise."
Her words made Haldir think about what they were very close to fulfilling. He wanted her badly, but Caladwen was special. She deserved more than one night of passion hiding under a tree. This is what the old Haldir would have done. If he was to change, he could not be that Elf any longer. Caladwen deserved the best for their first encounter, not to role around on the forest floor just to find their release. He wanted to be able to go to her every night once they made love, but he was leaving soon. There was no telling how long it would be before they saw each other again.
"I am glad you showed me this place, a'maelamin. I think I understand things better now." Haldir said as Caladwen began kissing his neck. It was difficult for him to think straight. He wanted to take her, to feel and taste her, to finally know all of her. He backed away from her and looked deep into her eyes.
"What is it, Haldir?" she questioned. "Did I do something or say something wrong?"
He smiled understandingly. "You have helped me to open my heart but my eyes were closed until just now. I want you Caladwen, but not like this." he said pointing to the tree. "You deserve much more from me. I cannot do this now. I feel we should wait until it is proper to lie together. You are a gift and should be treated as such. I would give you everything you are worthy of. I cannot take you now only to leave you and not be able to come to your side every night afterward. When we finally make love, I want to know we will be together for always."
Caladwen seemed to become angry. "What are you afraid of? I thought we were past this, Haldir. You would not give yourself completely to love knowing there is still a chance we will one day be separated. Is that it? You fear my choice."
At first, Haldir thought she misinterpreted his words but as he thought about it he realized this was exactly what he was afraid of. He could not lie to her. "I doubt myself. I doubt your choice. I doubt our future."
Caladwen could not believe this was happening. "Tell me, if you knew I was to choose a mortal life, would you even be here right now?"
He was upset with Caladwen for challenging him. He was upset for fearing her future decision. Because of this, his words came out harshly. "I have not given it enough thought." came his simple answer.
"If you love me as you say you do there should be no indecision. You still do not understand. You still fear to love someone completely. Why should that even matter? I am the same person no matter what path I choose. It does not affect the person I am now or the one I am to become." Caladwen turned away from him, not wanting him to see her tears. "I thought you changed but you are still the same self-worshiping Elf you have always been."
Haldir felt her pain as she spoke harshly toward him. "Why isn't it enough to know that I love you? Why must it become something more? You are not elf-kind yet. You are not even human. You are still confused and would risk my soul just to satisfy your cravings."
Tears welled up in Caladwen's eyes and Haldir instantly regretted what he said. His face softened and he reached out to her. "Caladwen… I…"
She backed away from him. The sadness and tears quickly turned into rage. "Leave me alone Haldir." she spat. "Go back to your precious Lorien and leave me be." Caladwen then turned and ran off toward the palace.
Haldir was left alone to ponder his thoughts. What had just happened? Suddenly Legolas' words came to the forefront of his mind. It was true that she still had a choice to make. Haldir felt strongly that she would choose to be elf-kind. Was this what he based his love on? Caladwen's question was legitimate. Would he still love her and want to be with her if he already knew she chose to become mortal? He had become so enthralled with the feeling of being in love that he hadn't stopped to consider the future. Did he love her enough to risk losing his soul and fade if she chose mortality on her Deciding Day? He needed more time to consider this.
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.