8. Lesson of Love
Chapter 8 Lesson of Love
Several months had passed now. Caladwen and Leodred were enjoying their courtship. They attended celebrations together, took their meals together, went for walks every evening at sunset. Caladwen was very much in love as any mortal would be. Leodred was very sweet and considerate. He brought her flowers freshly picked from the garden or helped her with her chores. He even practiced her sword work with her on occasion, giving her good advice where she needed it. To everyone around them, it looked like a match made in heaven and it would have been but for the slight tugging of Caladwen's heart when she saw Haldir. She never forgot the spark his touch gave her and she still wondered what it meant. She thought to ask him about it every time they had a lesson but she could not find the courage. Haldir seemed to not be phased in the least. She knew he had recently taken up with Nieriel but they were very quiet about their affair. This confused Caladwen at first. Why, if you were in love, would you keep it a secret?
She met Haldir for her lesson one day and decided to ask him about this. "Haldir, can I talk to you on a more personal level?"
"Why of course Caladwen. What is it that plagues your mind?"
"You have taught me much about Lorien and Elves and our customs but there are still things I want to know about." she started.
"What kind of things, my dear?"
"The ways of the heart for one." she said looking into Haldir's icy grey eyes.
This was unexpected and he wasn't sure he was the one she should be asking for advice. "We have already discussed bonding. Is there something you don't understand yet?"
"I want to know about… love, Elves and love. What does one feel as an Elf when they fall in love?"
"I do not think you should be asking me about such things. Perhaps your father would be a better candidate. He knows what it is like to love a mortal."
"That is not what I speak of. I want to know what happens between the Firstborn. What is it like for Nieriel and you?"
Haldir looked off into the distance. He would not discuss his relationship with her. He had never loved before. How could he answer her when not even he knew about elven love? "Caladwen, I… I'm not sure that…"
Just then, there was a rustle of leave from a nearby bush in the glade they were sitting in. Nieriel came through the trees. "Oh, I'm sorry. I did not know you were still in a lesson." she said rather embarrassed. Haldir told her where he would be so that she could meet him when he was done with Caladwen.
Haldir breathed a quiet sigh of relief. "Ah, Nieriel you have arrived just in time. It seems the Lady Caladwen has a curiosity about something and I think it would be better for her to speak to an elleth. Would you mind?"
Nieriel smiled. "Not at all Marchwarden. I would be glad to help."
Haldir stood up and walked to Nieriel. He gave her a look of relief and a small smile. Stopping at her side, he whispered in her ear, "Thank you melethril." His warm breath made her close her eyes and smile again. Caladwen couldn't help but notice the exchange between them. They seemed so comfortable with each other and she wondered if she would ever be that comfortable with Leodred.
Haldir left the glade and Nieriel took his seat next to Caladwen. "Now, what is it you want to know?"
"I was asking Haldir about love, love between the Firstborn that is." Caladwen said shyly.
"Has it been explained to you about an Elf only being able to love once?" Nieriel asked to find out what Caladwen already knew.
"Yes, I know about that and the binding ritual. Haldir explained it. What I want to know is how an Elf knows they are in love. What happens at that moment when they discover their soul mate?"
"There are of course different kinds of love that can be experienced. There is the love for a child or family. There is love for a friend or someone close to you. Then there is the love for someone who you would give yourself to. That kind of love is unmistakable. It is said that an Elf is born with their soul already belonging to another. It is just a matter of finding them and when you do, you know right away that you found your other half. You are made whole by them."
"Is that what you have with Haldir?" Caladwen asked.
"What Haldir and I have is a different kind of love. It is more of a respect that we have for each other. We are not soul mates."
"Then where is your soul mate? Where is Haldir's if you are not his?" Caladwen seemed confused.
"My dear, not every elleth or ellon is lucky enough to find them. Maybe they took a different path or maybe we did. If you are truly meant to spend eternity with someone, you will find each other, the Valar willing."
Caladwen wrinkled her brow as she pondered another question. "You said the feeling is unmistakable. Is it like a spark, when you meet your soul mate?"
"It is different for every Elf. However, for the two meant to be the feeling is the same. That is how you know you have chosen correctly." Nieriel smiled. "I hope I have helped you."
Caladwen sat silent for a moment, lost in thought, when she realized Nieriel was speaking to her. "Oh… Oh, yes you have been a tremendous help. Thank you so much Nieriel."
Caladwen left the glade to think about what Nieriel said. She went to the courtyard of the palace to try and clear her head of these feelings she had towards Haldir. She didn't want this. She only wanted to love Leodred and become his wife. They would move to Rohan and live their lives. Her love for him and their marriage would help her discover her truth path as either human or an immortal. It seemed the most likely route to take.
There was a hand on her shoulder and she turned to see Leodred behind her. No spark her mind spoke to her and she instantly pushed the thought aside.
"Leodred, I was wondering where you were. I finished my lessons with Haldir and thought we could spend the afternoon together."
"I would like nothing more than to be with you, but I have been summoned by your father. I am to see him right away." Leodred looked worried.
"What does he want?" she asked, worried for him.
"I was not told the reason for his counsel. It is close to the end of our courtship." Leodred took Caladwen by the waist and pulled her close. "Perhaps he wants to speak to me about our wedding plans." He smiled slyly. "Maybe I will tell him we plan to elope." he laughed.
Caladwen did not find it funny… at first, but Leodred lifted her up and twirled her around. She couldn't help but laugh. He brought her back to the ground and captured her lips.
"I will return and hopefully in one piece. I will meet you for the evening meal." He kissed her again and this time it was full of passion. Caladwen was unsuspecting of such a fiery kiss. Up until now they kept things very subdued but as they got closer to the end of their courtship, Leodred was becoming a bit bolder. She let herself go and gave in to the moment. It was times like this that she remembered how much she loved him and why she fell in love with him in the first place.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Leodred stood outside the entrance to Legolas' talan. He took a deep breath and entered, finding the Prince sitting at his desk. Legolas smiled and motioned for him to enter. "I have been waiting for you. I hope I did not interrupt your time with Caladwen."
"No, my lord. She has been in lessons with Haldir and I was tending to a few chores for the Lady Eowyn." Leodred bowed his head.
Legolas sensed his nervousness. "Please come in and have a seat. You seem preoccupied. Is there something that worries you young one?"
"Actually, I am a bit wary of our meeting. You have never summoned me before."
Legolas smiled. "Do not be troubled. Despite any rumors you have heard, I am nothing like my father King Thranduil. I thought you would have known me better than that."
"I have never known you to be stern but then again, I am to marry your daughter which gives you much more authority with me than say, one of your company." Leodred remained cautious.
"You are correct to a point. I care deeply for the well being of my daughter. I promised to never interfere with her chosen path but I still watch over her. She is very special in more ways than you will ever know." Legolas paused.
"Caladwen is very special to me and that is all I need to know. My lord, you know I would never hurt her. I love her very much and I understand her background. My mother made it a point that I learn all there is to know about the Peredhil. I would never sway her one way or the other. I realize that I will continue to age as she will remain young and I accept that. If she chooses her elven blood, I would only support her all the more though I will not lie when I say it would be nice to grow old together. Most importantly, I will not encourage her to bare me a child. I understand what she would give up from such a choice. I love Caladwen and I want her by my side no matter what choice she makes." Leodred finished and stood, waiting for instructions from Legolas.
Legolas did not speak right away. He pondered what the young man had said before he finally turned his attention on him. "You are true of heart and worthy of my daughter, though this marriage will be a difficult one. Whichever path is taken will be difficult for one of you will sacrifice much. This love must be very strong indeed if you mean to follow through with your plans."
"She is my world, my heart's desire. I would lay down my life for her." Leodred spoke straight from his heart and Legolas sensed his honesty.
"And when you marry, do you plan to return to Rohan? Have you discussed this with her?"
"She is in full agreement that we should live in Rohan. My plans are to continue on with my training and one day become a Marshall of the Mark. Arrangements have already been made for my continued course."
Legolas tried but could not find fault in the young man. He had a good head on his shoulders. His plans for his and Caladwen's future were solid. He understood Caladwen's choice which may or may not include him. Legolas had no choice but to agree to the marriage for he would never hinder his daughter. He approached Leodred where he stood, put a firm hand on the young man's shoulder and looked into his eyes. "You are a good man, Leodred. I give my blessing to this union."
Leodred seemed relieved. "Thank you my lord. I promise to make you proud and even more so, to love and protect your most precious gift. Caladwen will never be without."
"I believe that will be all for today. It seems this courtship has been finalized. It's time to plan a wedding. Lucky for us both, that is for the women to do." Legolas smiled and patted Leodred on the back. "Tell me, does King Eomer still indulge in that drinking game?"
"He has been known to, on the occasion. Not as much as before he became King of Rohan and definitely not with an Elf." Leodred laughed.
"Or a Dwarf for that matter." Legolas said jokingly and the two laughed at Gimli's expense.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Caladwen entered the dining hall but could not find Leodred anywhere. He always joined her for the evening meal. This was the first time he did not show. She began to wonder where he could be. The last time they talked, he was going to meet with her father. Maybe the meeting did not go as well as she thought. Maybe Legolas scarred him away and he changed his mind about her. Maybe she was worrying too much. There had to be a reasonable explanation for his delay.
As she was standing in the hall, there was suddenly a hand upon her shoulder. A warmth spread through her body followed by a tingling feeling. There was only one who had this effect on her.
"Good evening, Haldir." she said as she turned to face him, a smile adorned upon her countenance.
"Good evening, Lady Caladwen. Where might the young Leodred be this evening?"
"I was just looking for him. He was supposed to meet me for dinner." She looked around the hall again. "And where is Nieriel?"
"She was called upon by the Prince and stays in the forest tonight. There was some unexpected business to tend to." Haldir held out his arm for her. "Shall we dine together then?"
"I would like that very much." Caladwen said taking his arm and letting him escort her to a table. They sat down and a maiden brought them wine and a tray full of food.
Haldir looked at the tray in front of him. Meat, bread, vegetables and cheese were laid out thoughtfully upon it. "The people of Emyn Arnen must eat like kings every night."
"It does seem like a bit more than normal. There must be good news in the city." Caladwen said and reached for a roll. Haldir reached for the same one and their hands collided. He felt that same static charge as when she kissed his cheek so long ago. Haldir put that time out of his thoughts since becoming involved with Nieriel. He thought it was merely an accident or a confused emotion, but here it was again and it felt good.
Their hands remained connected for a moment longer as they looked down at them. Haldir was the first to pull away. "I'm sorry my lady, you take the bread."
Caladwen couldn't help but notice Haldir's reaction to the touch. "You felt it too did you not?" she said in a quiet voice.
He did not want to answer her. It was not right to feel these emotions for someone so young. Besides, he chose Nieriel for his companion. He smiled and looked towards her without meeting her eyes. "There must be a storm near. The air is charged." he said trying to convince himself as well as Caladwen. She did not believe him. It was more than static in the air. She decided it was best to drop the matter and picked up the bread. They enjoyed the rest of their meal hardly speaking a word to each other.
"Caladwen." a strong voice called from behind her. She turned to find Leodred standing there with a warm smile and a gleam in his eye.
She jumped up and embraced him, glad for the disturbance. "Leodred, I looked for you earlier. What kept you? Did all go well with Ada?"
Leodred held her tight and kissed her quickly. The excitement was almost too much. "The Prince gives his blessing." he said looking deep into her blue eyes.
Caladwen threw her arms around his neck. "This is wonderful news." she said unable to control her enthusiasm any longer. "And the courtship?"
"We are free to marry as soon as we like." Leodred cupped her face in his hands. "Is this still what you want love?"
"Yes, oh yes, Leodred. I want to marry you." she cried and embraced him once more.
Haldir, feeling like an outsider, stood up and spoke. "It seems congratulations are in order." he boasted. The couple separated and turned to face the Elf.
"Thank you Marchwarden." Leodred said proudly. Haldir stood tall and inflexible. He bowed his head to the couple and decided it was time to leave, giving them their private moment of joy.
Caladwen watched as he walked away, feeling like she should stop him. She kissed Leodred on the cheek. "I will be right back." she said and ran after Haldir. Meanwhile, two of Leodred's friends approached him, overhearing the good news and giving their regards to their friend.
"Haldir, wait." Caladwen yelled as he was about to leave the hall. He stopped and turned to her and suddenly she did not know why she chased after him. It felt like there was unfinished business between them. Her mind drew a blank and she did not know what to say.
Haldir stood there waiting for her to speak. "Yes, my dear." he finally said.
She wanted to tell him not to go. She wanted to know more about the sensation she had every time they touched. Somewhere deep within her soul, she did not want to lose him as her protector. None of this could she speak so she said the first thing she could think of. "Thank you Haldir, for all you have done. I feel I have learned much from you. I would like to continue with our lessons, at least until the wedding."
"Why of course my dear. I had already planned on it. There is still much to learn of Lorien." he said. There was a shadow of doubt cast upon her. "What troubles you my lady?"
"I want to embrace as much as my elven background as possible before I go to live in Rohan. There I will be solely in the company of Men and…" she paused.
Haldir ignored his conscience and took her hands in his. "And what, dear Caladwen?"
"I'm afraid of losing that part of myself. You will not be there to teach me. My father will not be there to remind me of my elvish heritage. What if I lose my way?" she said, a tear threatening the corner of her eye.
Haldir looked past her, into the hall and saw Leodred preoccupied with his friends. He looked back to Caladwen and noticed they were still holding hands. "Come with me a moment." he said leading her out of the hall and into a small courtyard outside. He found a bench and led her to it, gesturing for her to sit. She did and he joined her. His silver-grey eyes met hers and he could feel himself becoming lost within her. He stayed true to himself though and ignored the sensation. "My dear, you can never forget who you are. It is a part of you and will be with you forever, no matter what you surround yourself with. Do not think of your life in Rohan as leaving your elvish heritage behind. Think of it as sharing your elvish background with them. You will be the teacher now. Instill the goodness of the Elves within their hearts. It was what you were meant to do."
Caladwen smiled. "I never thought of it that way before. You are right. I should not keep this to myself. I was meant to share it with others so that they may come to understand all that is good and right. Too long has war plagued the hearts of Men. They must see the goodness of the world around them." Caladwen stood up. She looked at Haldir where he sat and leaned down, taking his head in her hands and placing a soft kiss upon his forehead. "Thank you Haldir, for helping me to see my path."
Haldir closed his eyes. None other than the Lady Galadriel had kissed him in such a way. Caladwen's kiss was intoxicating though and he wished it would not end. He shrugged off the feeling and stood. "Go now, Caladwen. Go to your love. He will be wondering where you've gotten off to."
She smiled once more and turned to run back to Leodred. Haldir watched as the couple embraced and kissed passionately. He felt a slight twinge in his heart as he observed from the courtyard. Somewhere deep within his soul, he longed to feel her warmth again but she loved another. This was the way it should be. Haldir left the palace and headed back to Ithilien's Forest, in search of some comfort from Nieriel.
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.