49. The Note
Chapter 49 The Note
After a nourishing breakfast to rebuild their strength from their active morning, Caladwen and Haldir left their room for the first time since arriving in Eryn Lasgalen a week earlier. They made their way through the palace halls until they came upon the door to Thranduil's office. There they met Gimli.
"Well it's about time you two came out of hiding." he said. Haldir gave him a mischievous look as if he wanted to counter his comment but Gimli stopped him. "Spare me the details Master Elf. Dwarves do not care for the ways of the Elves and marriage." Then he looked at Caladwen. "If one day you should teach the Dwarves my lady, I suggest you leave that out of your lessons."
Caladwen laughed at his comment. "No worries dear Gimli. I would not torture your kind with such information."
"And just how have you kept yourself out of trouble this past week my friend?" Haldir asked.
"I have made a friend or two with those in charge of keeping stock of the supplies. Seems they know where to find the best malt beer I have ever tasted." he chuckled.
"Have you spoken to King Thranduil yet?" Caladwen wondered. It was Gimli's main reason for being here.
"After I had a few days to rest from our travels, I met with the King. I told him everything I knew of the events that happened. The air was quite tense for a moment. Then, to my surprise, the King smiled as if reminiscing about an old friend. Said he had always thought it was the Hobbit Bilbo that had a hand in the Dwarves escape. When he learned they used the empty barrels to float down the river, he laughed until tears fell down his kingly cheeks. It was not the response I expected from him. For my entire life, I have been told what a tyrant the King of the Woodelves was and that the Woodelves themselves were savage and dangerous."
"Gimli" Caladwen interrupted. "You are dear friends with my father and have known him for many years now. Did that not change your perception of his kin?"
"To be quite honest my lady, I never thought of Legolas as being one of them Woodelves. I'm not sure why. I just thought he was different from the rest, being that he traveled afar and was lessoned in the ways of the world." Gimli hung his head. "I guess I have had my own head in the sand about Mirkwood… er… Eryn Lasgalen."
Caladwen put a hand on the Dwarfs shoulder. "Do not feel shame Gimli son of Gloin. What you are doing now is the bravest thing any Dwarf has ever done, at least in my eyes. I have an idea. Since I am here to teach the Elves of the outside world, there is no better place to start than with the Dwarves. Gimli, will you help assist me and teach along side me? It would jumpstart the lessons greatly to have you speak with them."
Gimli shuffled his feet. "Oh… well… I'm not sure teaching is my stronghold. The only thing I have taught is what it is like to be on the receiving end of my ax."
Caladwen softened her voice. "Please Uncle Gimli, it would mean a great deal to me if you would help, at least in the beginning. I promise that if you feel uncomfortable or see that you are no longer needed, I will not stop you from being on your way. I think your presence would be a wonderful gift to my woodland kin."
Had Gimli's face not been covered in hair, they would have seen him blush a new shade of red. "You know I could never resist you when you call me uncle. Very well, I will assist you my lady. Perhaps I too will learn something in the process."
Caladwen bent down and hugged the Dwarf. "Thank you Gimli. This is going to be wonderful. I cannot wait to get started."
Caladwen, Haldir and Gimli continued on to King Thranduil's office. Once they reached the beautifully carved wooden door, Gimli held his arm out to Caladwen. "Shall we my dear?"
Caladwen took his stout arm in her and nodded her head. They pushed open the oak door and entered the office. King Thranduil sat in a large chair where he had been signing parchments. He looked up and met his granddaughter's bright eyes. "Ah, there you are. I hope you have enjoyed your stay thus far."
"It has been very pleasing to say the least." she answered as she took Haldir's hand in hers. Gimli stepped aside.
Haldir bowed his head to the king. "You have been very generous my lord and your staff have been very accommodating."
"We wish to never leave." Caladwen added.
Thranduil smiled. "I am happy for you both. Never have two beings ever been more deserving of each other and never has my forest been brighter. You truly are a light of hope, Granddaughter." Thranduil held his arms out and Caladwen went to him. He embraced her as he used to do with Legolas. Haldir smiled as he watched the tender moment. Gimli just felt out of place. This was proving to be too much for the Dwarf as all his ideas and visions of Woodelves and their terrible King melted away.
"Perhaps I shall take my leave and let this reunion continue in my absence." Gimli said and turned toward the door.
"Nonsense." Thranduil countered. "You are a friend to my son and that makes you a friend to all my kin. You are most welcome here, Gimli son of Gloin." he said stopping Gimli in his tracks. Then the king turned back to Caladwen. "I am to assume you are here to discuss your teaching situation."
"Yes Aradar [Grandfather]. I believe it is time to start with my lessons. I am eager to set up my classroom. I was hoping to set up in a talan outside of the palace. A communal meeting place would be a less intimidating location."
"I know of the perfect place. It is in the heart of Eryn Lasgalen. It was once used as a gathering place for my captains during times of battle. It has not been used since peace covered all the lands. To make this into a place of learning is a wonderful idea. Come, I will take you there." Thranduil said and led the party out of his office, out of the palace and into the courtyard.
As they passed the main gates, Caladwen noticed they remained closed and guarded at all times. "Aradar, you say we are living in times of peace, yet your gates remain shut. Why is that?"
"Because my dear, there are still those who would seek to steal my fortune. It is a well-known fact that this land is rich beyond belief. I will not risk it." he answered.
Caladwen understood his meaning. There were still some Wildsmen and Corsairs who would not hesitate to plunder the kingdom. However, the number of good and honest people was greater. "Have you thought of opening your kingdom to trading with the other realms?"
"We have traded goods with the men of Laketown for many years now. There is no need to open the gates to all who pass by."
"But there is so much more out there than you think." Caladwen argued. "By trading with others besides Laketown, you are opening your land to a whole new variety of goods and you will help those less fortunate by spending your wealth in their towns."
Thranduil laughed to himself. "Your Adar and I used to have the same argument. You are so much like him." He stopped walking and turned to her. He tilted her head, meeting his eyes with hers. "And there is a fire in your eyes that can only be from your mother." He brushed her braid over her ear. "Very well pen vuin [dear one]. I will consider your words. After all, you are here to teach. It seems even I may stand to learn a thing or two." Thranduil continued to walk, leaving the others speechless. Caladwen and Haldir did not expect him to agree so quickly. Gimli was beside himself. This was in no way what he expected from the Woodland King.
As they followed Thranduil, Haldir took Caladwen's hand in his, completing their connection which was still strong. He kissed her cheek and smiled. "You are a good negotiator meleth. Never have I seen him come to an accord so quickly."
She smiled and squeezed his hand. "Call it Elf magic."
They finally made their way to the meeting talan and climbed the stairway. Caladwen walked around, noticing how spacious it was. "This will do just fine. What do you think Gimli?"
"Oh… well… you are the teacher my lady." he grumbled, embarrassed to be put on the spot.
"No, no Gimli. You will be sharing this space with me. I know it is not common for Dwarves to dwell in trees. I will not agree to this if you are uncomfortable." she said waiting for a response.
Gimli cautiously walked around. It was a big space and seemed relatively safe. However, when he went to the edge and looked down, he realized just how high off the ground they were. His eyes widened and he seemed to sway a bit. Quickly, Gimli backed up to the center of the talan. Everyone waited for his answer. "It is a bit high, though not as far up as the ones in Caras Galadhon. I think as long as I do not look over the edge again, it will be a pleasing place." Then the Dwarf turned to Thranduil. "However, I would prefer that my residence be on the ground if that is alright with the King."
Thranduil looked down at Gimli with a stone face. Everyone held their breath. "I will do you one better than that Master Dwarf. You will take up residence in my own halls, if that is to your liking. I think you will find the stone walls of the guest rooms rather comfortable."
Gimli smiled with satisfaction. "I think that will do quite nicely. Thank you."
Caladwen looked to her grandfather. "Well, it is settled then. All we need is a few more chairs and another desk over there for Gimli. Otherwise, this space is already set up for teaching."
"Consider it done pen vuin." Thranduil answered. "How soon until you begin your classes?"
"I just need a few days to work with Gimli and get my lessons organized. Being this is such a large space, I think I will start out with classes three times a week and adjust from there. What do you think Aradar? Will there be a great interest in learning about Men and Dwarves?"
"I think it will be the Light of Lorien herself that will be the draw for your cause. They are anxious to see you and hear what you have to say. Word has spread quickly of your visit to Eryn Lasgalen. Word has spread even quicker of your recent union to the Marchwarden of Lothlorien." Thranduil paused and took Caladwen's hand. "Your adar has sent you a message. It came this morning." He pulled a folded parchment out of his robes. It was sealed with the symbol of North Ithilien.
Caladwen took the letter and just held it. She could not move or speak. Haldir came up behind her and put his hand on her waist. "Go ahead love, open it."
"But… but my ada has never approved of our relationship. I don't think I want to know what this says." she said, her voice unsure.
Thranduil smiled warmly. "My dear, your father has been very protective of you but has he ever stood in the way of your choices?" Caladwen simply shook her head no. Thranduil continued. "And he will do no such thing now. He loves you very much and wants for you the best things life has to offer. He may not come to understand this marriage right away but he will." Then Thranduil raised an eyebrow and a serious look settled on his face. "He will or he'll have me to deal with. He may be lord of his own land, but I am still his father."
Gimli giggled under his breath at the thought of Legolas being chastised by the Woodland King. Then he spoke to Caladwen. "And he will have one angry Dwarf to face also. Now go on lassie. Open that there note. I am quite confident Legolas has said nothing too harsh."
Caladwen bent down and kissed the top of Gimli's hairy head. "I guess I am being a bit silly." She looked once more to Haldir who gave her a gentle kiss on her forehead. She broke the wax seal and unfolded the parchment. This is what she read.
'My dearest Caladwen, how I miss you sell nin [my daughter]. The lands of Ithilien seem a little duller without your light. Your mother is doing much better. The sadness for the loss of Faramir seems to wane a little more with each passing day. She misses you and sends her love and congratulations. By now, I am guessing you have completed you bonding to the Marchwarden. Word has spread far and wide of you union. Many suspected that the Light of Lorien had found love, mainly the Elves. They are rejoicing across Middle Earth but while they sing praises, I am still absorbing this new life of yours. Many times, we have argued about your future. Although I did not agree with your choice to take the Marchwarden as you hervenn, I could not interfere. I had hoped you were making the right choice. By seeing the joyous faces of those around me, I see that you have made such a decision. I am sorry if I have been hard on you. Your importance to this world has always been in the forefront of my mind and I felt the need to protect you at all costs, even from yourself. I see now that you have always done what was right for you and for others. I am proud of you and I respect your decision. May love conquer all. May the Valar watch over you and guide you down this new path. I love you hennen [my child] and look forward to seeing you again.'
A tear came to Caladwen's eye as she finished reading the letter. The other three held their breath, hoping the news was good.
"What does he say a'maelamin [my beloved]?" Haldir whispered to her. His hand clutched her waist as little tighter.
After she swallowed the lump in her throat, Caladwen finally spoke. "He is happy for me and sends his congratulations."
Haldir noticed the use of the word 'me' and not 'us'. A slight sadness fell upon his shoulders and Caladwen noticed his mood. She turned to him and cupped her hand to the side of his face. "He accepts our union." At this, she smiled slightly.
Haldir closed his eyes and put his forehead to hers. "He still has doubts." he whispered, an air of sadness in his tone.
Thranduil spoke up at this point. "He is an Elf of Mirkwood and like our kin, suspicion runs deep in his veins." Caladwen was surprised to hear the King refer to his home by its former name. Thranduil saw her look of confusion. "Yes, I said Mirkwood. Your adar was very young when our home was renamed. I am afraid it is the only way he knows this place. For so long an evil shadow lingered here. I raised him always to be cautious and I guess it still holds true to this day. But you can change that Caladwen. Your coming to Eryn Lasgalen is like a light in the darkness. The Elves will learn much from you, and Gimli also. One day Legolas will visit his home again and find it restored to its former self."
Caladwen felt better already. "Thank you Aradar. I just hope I can live up to your expectations. It would be my dream for Father to come back and not think of this land as Mirkwood anymore. Evil has been demolished and Eryn Lasgalen has recovered its rightful name. Now let us heal the hearts and minds of its inhabitants. Gimli, are you ready to begin planning our lessons?"
"Aye lassie. There is no better time to start than right now." he answered. Thranduil patted the Dwarf on the shoulder and Gimli nodded.
Haldir took Caladwen in his arms and kissed her passionately, not caring who witnessed their affection. He knew this would be a busy time for her and he would not see her as often. After he released her, he looked deep into her eyes. "Your time has come once again. Now I must share you with the rest of the world." Then he whispered in her ear. "But the nights will belong to me alone. Save some of your strength meleth nin. You will need it for what I have planned this evening. Remember, you said I could be in control once again."
The warmth of his breath sent chills down Caladwen's spine. His woodsy scent filled her head and any concentration she had disappeared instantly. It reminded her of the time in Lorien when they practiced archery together. She smiled and ran her hand up the front of his tunic. "You are still a disturbance to me hervenn nin. You fill my head with visions when you are near. I will hold you to your promise for the evening's activities." Her hand came to rest on the back of his neck and she drew him in for another kiss. Thranduil stood by the talan door and smiled to see a new love blossoming. Gimli merely shook his head and gave them their space.
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.