9. To Kiss An Elf
Chapter 9 To Kiss An Elf
Emyn Arnen was alive and buzzing with anticipation for the wedding of Caladwen and Leodred. Plans and arrangements were coming together quickly. Caladwen became more and more nervous as the big day approached. She wished for a smaller ceremony but it was not to be. Many beings throughout Middle Earth would attend the celebration, including a group of Elves from Lothlorien. Lord Celeborn himself would be present. After all, Caladwen was very special to Lorien, being the last elven birth in Caras Galadhon. She was anxious to meet Celeborn since she hadn't remembered much of him from her childhood. Haldir spoke of him often and she felt she knew him better because of this. On the other hand, he was the oldest and wisest of the Elves in Middle Earth. She was honored that he would be at her wedding.
Preparations were well under way. The dress was being made. The rings were being crafted. Coordinators were designing the decorations which would adorn the hall of the palace. Guests were already in route for Emyn Arnen. The wedding was to take place in a month. Everything was coming along nicely. Now one of the more difficult tasks was underway. Eowyn was teaching her daughter the song she would sing after the rings were exchanged. It was a custom among the people of Rohan for the wedded couple to sing their vows to each other in Rohirric. Caladwen seemed to have a difficult time with their language. Eowyn seldom spoke in her native tongue and therefore never taught much to Caladwen. It did not roll off the tongue as easily as elvish did. Nevertheless, she learned the song to perfection. It was one less thing she had to worry about.
Caladwen was sitting in the garden a few days later, practicing her vows, when she heard a voice she did not recognize.
"You speak the tongue of the Riddermark quite well." said a soft voice. When Caladwen turned to see who it was, her eyes fell onto the most majestic looking Elf she had ever seen. He glowed so brightly that the garden seemed to be bathed in his light even though the sun shone above. The trees themselves bent towards him, as if trying to feed off of his energy. He approached Caladwen and looked as if he was floating soundlessly across the lawn. There was no mistaking who this Elf was.
Caladwen quickly stood and bowed her head, hand over her heart. "Lord Celeborn, I was not expecting you so soon. It is an honor to see you." She kept her head bowed, feeling as though she was not worthy to look upon his grace. Celeborn walked up to her and lifted her chin so as to look into her blue eyes.
"My dear Caladwen. You look absolutely radiant. Long has it been since I laid eyes upon you. You were merely an infant when last we met. I can see you have grown into a lovely young woman. Already you have found love. It seems it was a good decision for you to be raised in the world of Men." Celeborn spoke with a kind voice, like a grandfather speaking to a grandchild.
Caladwen could not speak. She was in awe of him for she had never seen anyone so dignified and noble among the Elves, not even King Thranduil compared to Celeborn.
"My dear, there is no need to bow before me. Are we not equals here?" he said with a smile.
"Begging your pardon my lord, but even the trees bow before you. How else should I show my respect to one of such grace?" she finally answered.
Celeborn laughed. "Has Legolas taught you nothing of elvish greetings? Mae govannen [Well met]." he said plainly.
"Mae govannen." she said in return. When she looked into his grey eyes it was as if she saw many millennia of wisdom even though he seemed the same age as Haldir. She wondered if she would live so long. The thought did not go unnoticed by Celeborn.
"You are troubled, my dear. Tell me of this doubt I see in your mind." Celeborn said taking her hands.
Caladwen looked at him in confusion. She did not know of any doubt. He had obviously seen something buried deep within her conscience. "I know not of what you speak, my lord."
"You have doubt in your heart whether you make the right decision to marry, do you not?"
Caladwen felt as though her mind had been invaded. "I guess so, though I have not thought about it in a while. I thought my mind was settled but you see something even I cannot."
Celeborn gently laid his hand to the top of her head and closed his eyes. He saw and sensed things that she could not, as if he was looking into her future. He opened his eyes and removed his hand. "Come sit with me." he said walking over to a bench. Caladwen followed and sat next to him. "Your path lies before you. You have chosen wisely. It is understandable that you have chosen this route, being you have been raised in the world of Men. They will learn much from you yet. Your love for Leodred is strong but there is also hesitation. I feared this would happen, though it is not time yet."
Caladwen furrowed her brow. "I do not understand, my lord. What is it not time for yet?"
Celeborn smiled. "I have spoken in haste. My dear, you are meant to be with your beloved and live amongst Men still. Do not worry about your elvish blood. It is strong and will never leave you nor will you forget it. You will not falter from your path and you will stay true to yourself. Love Leodred as you do now. It is a part of your learning and will help you when your Deciding Day should arrive. It is important for you to know and understand the love of man-kind."
He stood up as if to leave but Caladwen stopped him. "If knowing the love of a man will help me in my decision, then am I to also know the love of the Elves so that I may understand both sides?"
Celeborn looked over his shoulder to her and smiled. "Only the Valar know for sure." He turned to her completely and studied her countenance. "Do you truly love Leodred as you say you do?"
"Yes of course." she said rather defensively.
"That is all you need then. Give him your love and nothing less, my dear. The people of Rohan will learn by your examples. This is your gift to them. In return, you will have their love and respect." Celeborn said nothing more and left the garden. Caladwen watched him leave. The garden seemed to sigh as he did, as if they already missed the loss. She still did not get her answer. It was so like the Elves to speak in circles to keep from giving a direct answer. Something told her that Celeborn knew more than he led on. She supposed it was not his place to tell her too much about her future. That was something she needed to find out on her own.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
"Are you ready for tomorrow?" Haldir asked Caladwen after their lesson.
"As ready as I will ever be. I can't believe this day is finally here. It has been a long time in the making." she smiled.
"And I'm sure it will go off without any problems, especially with Nieriel in charge. She will not let anything go astray."
They stood up to leave the glade where they had their daily lessons. Caladwen turned to face Haldir. She grabbed his hands. "I want to thank you for all you have done since you arrived. What will you do now?"
"I will stay in your father's forest for a while longer. Then I will consider going back to Lothlorien. I made a promise to Nieriel to stay with her until she sails. If she will agree to travel back to my home, then that is what we will do." Haldir was emotionless as he spoke about his plans.
"Nieriel still plans to sail even if you do not?" Caladwen asked concerned.
"We have no commitment to each other. She feels the draw of the sea and I do not but there is no reason we cannot be companions until such time. We are very content with our arrangement."
Caladwen wished Haldir would find someone to love. He was such a noble Elf and very committed. He deserved someone's love just as he deserved to find his own. She smiled up at him and their eyes met. "I hope your soul finds its match, Haldir. Love is such a wonderful thing." She smiled and looked away from him for a moment. Haldir looked at her questioningly.
"Is there something on your mind?" he asked.
"Can I tell you something? You must promise to never repeat a word to anyone, not even Nieriel." she whispered.
"I promise." he said curiously.
She felt she must say something or she might regret it later. "Well, when you first arrived in Emyn Arnen, I think I was slightly taken with you. I know it could never be and my love for Leodred is strong but you were a sight to behold. You caught my eye and I could have sworn I felt something." She turned a shade of pink after admitting her crush.
Haldir would have just laughed along with her except for something she said that made him curious. She said she had felt something and so had he. It was something he brushed off as being a conflicting emotion. By her admitting her feelings, it made him question his own. Of course he would never follow through on anything. She was to marry tomorrow. This was probably something she had wanted to admit to for a long time and now was her last chance before she was a married woman.
"It is common for the student to develop such feelings for a teacher. After all, we see each other almost every day." he said.
"Haldir, there is one thing I would ask you and I will never mention it again."
He rolled his eyes. "One more thing and then I must go."
"Did you ever feel anything? I don't mean a crush but… a charge or an exchange of some sort?" She was suddenly embarrassed to bring up the subject. "Never mind. Forget I said anything." She turned from him.
Haldir's emotions were getting the best of him. He had wondered himself about the exchange between them. He felt a closeness with her. He had always been drawn to her. This may be his only chance to find out what it was that enticed him. He touched her shoulder softly and walked around in front of her to face her. His hand traveled towards her face. "Is this what you mean?" he asked and touched her cheek with his fingers. A warm sensation spread through his fingers and hand. Then a tingle grew up his arm, threatening to spread to his heart. He pulled away before it went any further.
Caladwen felt his touch even after he removed his hand. It was as if his fingers were still on her skin, warming her where they made contact. She knew it was not right to have these feelings but deep down she wanted more. Her mind screamed out to stop this from going any further. Her eyes had been closed and when she opened them, Haldir's silver-grey eyes were intensely focused on her. "What is this, Haldir? I have felt it before but only with you. No one else gives me this sensation, not even Leodred." Without thinking, her hand came up to touch his face, wanting to return to this glorious place she had just experienced.
Haldir gently took her wrist and lowered her hand back to her side. That one moment of denial was the hardest thing he had ever had to do for he longed to feel her again. His kind face suddenly hardened and his heart iced back up the way it had been for centuries. "Whatever you thought you felt must be forgotten about. It was wrong and we should not touch like that again." he said arrogantly. He released her wrist and took a step away from her.
Caladwen was shocked by his sudden change. She knew he was right but she did not want to lose his friendship. Haldir rarely opened up to anyone and she felt special because he had with her. Unfortunately, he built back his protective wall and was letting no one near, not even Caladwen. Tears threatened to fall and she suddenly needed to get away. She turned quickly and ran from the glade. Her mind was a blur. Why did she feel so confused? She should be happy, ecstatic. Tomorrow was her wedding day. She was marrying her childhood sweetheart that she loved deeply. She was finally going to experience life on her own. It was an exciting time and she should have felt such joy like she had never felt before. So why did she feel like her soul was being ripped from her? What did it matter if Haldir was her friend or not? She needed to speak to Leodred but they were being separated this day. It was another custom for the bride and groom to have no contact the day before the wedding. In the past, when these feelings for Haldir surfaced, she would seek out Leodred and it brought her back to reality. This time she was on her own. She decided it was best to go back to Forest and stay there for the rest of the day. Haldir would remain at the palace, she thought, since Nieriel was staying there preparing for the ceremony. Leodred was also staying there and she had to stick to custom and not run into him. She went to the stables and got her horse. She rode swiftly to the edge of the forest and dismounted. It was better to walk the rest of the way to the forest city. She needed time to clear her head. As she walked along, she was greeted by many of the Elves that lived there. Already Caladwen felt more at ease. This is what she would miss the most when she moved to Rohan. Being around the Elves brought her a sense of calmness she could find nowhere else. The sounds of voices singing in the trees eased her mind. Time seemed to slow under the canopy of the trees. She breathed in the forest air and was instantly alleviated of her worries and concerns. Everything would work out for the best. Celeborn had said so himself and if he did not know, no one could.
Before she knew it, Caladwen was roaming Eowyn's garden. She thought of the stories her mother told her about this place. Legolas made it especially for Eowyn as a wedding present for her and Faramir. Later, when Faramir's mind was taken by shadow, this garden became her sanctuary. Being here now let her feel closer to family.
There was a rustle of leaves above and she looked up to see Legolas as he landed next to her, barely making a sound. She went to him and threw her arms around him. "Hello, Ada." she said fighting back a tear.
Legolas sensed her mood and looked upon her fair face. "What is wrong sell vuin? [beloved daughter] There is a smile upon your lips but your eyes speak differently. Why do I find you like this the day before your wedding?"
"I'm sorry Ada. I am happy, truly. I guess I am just a little nervous. My life is about to change and that in itself is a little scary." she admitted. Of course, she could never tell him the real meaning for her sorrow.
"You and Leodred will be happy together though there will be challenges. There are always difficulties throughout life but as long as you have each other, you will conquer them." Legolas held his daughter's hand and led her to a tree. They sat on the soft grass beneath its boughs and enjoyed some much needed father/daughter time together. They talked about many things and Caladwen began to feel much better, forgetting about Haldir's harsh tone.
After sometime, Caladwen began to wonder about her mother and father. "Ada, how is it you have survived all this time without Mother's love? How do you deal with it?"
Legolas smiled as he thought about Eowyn. "I still have her love. Without it I would have faded a long time ago. It is you that keeps me bound to this earth. You are my daughter and I must stay for you. You are my bond now, though a part of me still feels a draw towards your mother. She will always have my soul for I will never stop loving her."
"But how do you cope with loving her, knowing she can never return that love? Don't you miss being close to her? How does it not drive you insane?"
"I know that one day she will need me again. I made a promise to always be there for her and I mean to follow through. Until then, I will wait for I have nothing but time. Elves are very patient and will wait forever for the one that they love." he explained.
"Do you not get lonely? Would you not seek a companion as Haldir has done?" She felt sorrow in her heart for her father. He had been through so much. It seemed only right that he should not have to suffer from loneliness while he waited for Eowyn to return to him.
"The difference between me and Haldir is that I have loved. Haldir, though he cares deeply for Nieriel, has not given her his heart. That is something he may never give to anyone. It is his choice to live that way."
After a little more discussion, Caladwen felt she understood the difference between true love and simple desire. "Thank you, Ada. I feel much better now." She got up to leave. The day was ending and there was one more thing she wanted to do before tomorrow. She thought about Haldir and his rigid stance he took with her earlier. She had come to realize he was only trying to protect her and himself from whatever they were experiencing. She felt bad for running off the way she did and decided to seek him out and apologize before the end of the day. He would probably return to the forest this evening and she would look for him.
Before Caladwen left Legolas, she asked him one more question. "Ada, how did you know you loved Mother? What did you feel?"
A smile spread across Legolas' face as he remembered that day. "We, the fellowship, had just arrived in Rohan to speak to King Théoden. Eowyn's face was the first one my eyes fell upon as we entered the gates to her city. She looked so lost and desolate then. I had an overwhelming need to comfort her and take away her pain. At first, I did not understand these feelings I had for this mortal woman. When she met us at the stairs I looked upon her beauty and felt a warmth spread over my heart. I had never experienced such a thing before." Legolas laughed as he remember how suspicious and untrusting Eowyn was of him, being an Elf. "She did not think too kindly of me at first. Later, as she sat by the fire in her great hall, I approached her and we talked. She began to relax a bit in my company and I was able to comfort her in her time of grief. It was then that she looked… truly looked into my eyes and I saw my world entwined with hers. I knew at that moment that I loved her. Of course, I kept my feelings to myself at first. We became friends during our stay in Rohan. It wasn't until our journey to Helm's Deep that your mother began to open her heart up again. I waited for her and when she was ready to admit her feelings, I embraced her with all my love."
"Did you ever question your choice to fall in love with a mortal?" Caladwen asked.
"Oh yes, many times. At first I questioned how something forbidden of the Elves could feel so right. The Valar work in mysterious ways though. I did not question for very long but rather let things happen as they were meant to be. I will never regret my decision to fall in love with Eowyn. It is why I would wait until the end of days to be within her heart again." Legolas brought his thoughts back to the situation at hand. "Come sell vuin. Let us dine this evening. It will be the last time we spend such time together for tomorrow you will become a wife. Ai, you have grown so fast yet you seem still only a child."
Caladwen rolled her eyes. "I think I will always look like a child to your Elf eyes, Ada."
Legolas laughed. "As I also seem to your grandfather. Such is the way of the Firstborn."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
After supper, Caladwen went in search of Haldir. Surely he was back by now. She needed to apologize for running off. She had to set things right between them. She needed his friendship more than anything and she could not leave for Rohan knowing he avoided her. Whatever had transpired between them could be forgotten, right? Then they could get back to their normal camaraderie. Maybe it would be better to pretend nothing ever happened. As she came upon his talan, she listened closely but heard no sound coming from inside. He was not there. She wandered back to the ground and walked the paths that lead through the forest.
Haldir had heard Caladwen approach his talan and exited through the hanging vines that covered one side of the flet. At first he was slightly agitated with the fact that she had sought him out again, so soon after their unfortunate parting. He did not feel right having her searching for him on this night before her wedding day. He climbed high into the canopy of the tree where he could see the stars, thinking about Caladwen. Perhaps she only wished to apologize. This was her last night to be herself for tomorrow she would become the wife of a Rohirrim. His elf eyes scanned the forest for her. She had climbed to the forest floor and was wandering about alone. A thought came to him though he knew he should not dwell on it. Tonight she was still young Caladwen, the same young woman he had gotten to know in this past year. She should not be alone this night. Perhaps he could join her and set things right between them for tomorrow she would belong to another. Tomorrow she would begin the next step in her journey. Tomorrow she would begin anew. Tonight, however, was the final chapter of the first part of her life. It should not end with their friendship broken. It was time to reconcile with her. Haldir quietly traveled in the trees until he was perched in a tree above her. He sat silently and observed her.
Caladwen stopped under a great beech tree and leaned against its trunk. She patted its surface, knowing it could feel and hear her. Unfortunately, she was not born with her father's ability to communicate with the trees. Her elvish blood was not strong enough. Even so, she would always talk to them and hope she never offended any of them. She thought about Lord Celeborn and how the trees bent towards him, wanting to touch him. She had never even so much as heard a leaf rustle when she was near one. As a matter of fact… What was that? she thought to herself. There was a faint sound of leaves moving above her but there was no wind. It was late at night and the birds were fast asleep by now. She pretended not to hear anything when there was a light sound of a thump behind her. She felt someone's eyes upon her and a warm sensation traveled throughout her body. She did not need to search anymore. Haldir was here.
"Haldir." she said without turning. "I have been looking for you." She turned expecting to see his hardened expression staring back at her but what she found was concern and humbleness.
"And I have been following you. Why do you seek me, Caladwen?" he said softly.
"I wanted to apologize for running off. I behaved inappropriately earlier and I am sorry. It's just… you changed so quickly that it hurt to see you fall back into your Marchwarden role. I felt like I offended you somehow. I want to be friends still, Haldir. You are my guardian and I will not deny you of that."
Haldir closed the distance between them. "I should not have misled you either, Caladwen. I think we are both confused by what happens when we are close. I have known you since you were a newborn and even now you still seem like a child." He paused and Caladwen squint her eyes at his comment but she understood his meaning.
"And I am in love with a mortal who I plan on marrying tomorrow. I understand all of that. But why now? Why experience these things now, when my life is about to change and go in a whole new direction?"
Haldir looked deep into her eyes. "I think we have unfinished business. We will meet again someday but for now, our paths split in separate directions. I cannot go with you to Rohan so I cannot fulfill my role as your protector. You do not need me now for you will have a husband to watch after you. I also have a destiny to follow through with. I swore to stay with Nieriel until she sails. She is important to me and although I do not love her like a wife, I love her as a friend. She is what I need right now just as Leodred is your future. May we both find the happiness we seek in our new lives. Know that I will always be there for you if you should ever need me. This is my oath to you."
"Thank you Haldir. My heart could not take it if we parted with sorrow. I hope you are right and we will be in each other's lives again, whether as teacher and student or as friends." she said and Haldir smiled at her. Their eyes met and held each other for a moment before Caladwen turned from his gaze. "It's getting late. I should get some rest now. I will see you tomorrow then?" She hoped he still planned on coming to the ceremony.
"I will be there." he said. Haldir watched her as she began to walk away. Her beautiful platinum hair hung down her back and the silky blue dress she wore rustled lightly as she walked. For the first time, he did not see her as a child but as a grown woman. He felt the wind blow across his face and was suddenly inclined to do something he was sure to regret later. "Caladwen." he called to her.
She stopped but did not turn. "Yes?" When he did not answer she swung around and found the Elf standing right behind her. "Yes Haldir?" she said again.
"Is Leodred the only one you have ever kissed, man or immortal?"
"Yes, of course."
"May I have the honor of being your first elven kiss? I'm afraid after tomorrow it will be too late."
Caladwen was stunned by his offer but even more shocked by the words that passed her lips without hesitation. "I would like that very much."
Haldir cupped her face in his hands and leaned into her. He watched as she closed her eyes, allowing him to make all the moves. He began by lightly brushing his lips across hers. She flinched at first, as if she felt a jolt of some sort. Then she relaxed as he repeated his movements. This time he let his lips come to rest on hers. She followed his lead and kissed him back. They both felt the same static as before but it was tenfold. Caladwen's eyes were closed but she saw stars bursting all around. His lips left a tingling feeling on hers. It was exquisite, a kiss to end all kisses. She could feel her hands wanting to wrap around his neck and draw him in closer and deeper but she was paralyzed. Haldir felt the same things she was experiencing, though neither knew it at the time. The ice around his heart began melting quickly as a warmth spread throughout his body. His hands rested gently at her waist but moved no more, afraid of what he might do. However, his tongue was restless and he wished to taste more of her fiery kiss.
Caladwen felt Haldir's tongue search lightly for entry. She parted her lips and the tips of their tongues touched. She could feel her heart pounding within her chest, beating in sync with his. Before she knew what she was doing, her right hand was entwined in his silver hair at the back of his head. She was just about to pull him in and deepen the kiss when there was the sound of voices approaching. They quickly pulled away from each other but could not separate their gaze. At that moment, an elven couple passed by. They were very caught up in their own magic and paid no attention to the Marchwarden and bride-to-be. Their hearts were still pounding and they were sure the couple would hear their racing pulse. When the couple was gone, Haldir and Caladwen focused on each other again.
"I'm sorry. I did not mean for things to go so far." Haldir apologized. "I only meant for a friendly kiss among friends."
Caladwen remembered what Nieriel said about soul mates experiencing the same feelings. "Did you feel the same thing as I did when we kissed?"
Haldir knew what she was asking and would say no more about it. "Tis no more than an elvish kiss, my lady." He hoped she would believe him, though he knew he felt the same spark as her. "Goodnight, Lady Caladwen. Get some sleep now. Tomorrow is a big day." he said and hopped back into the tree, making his way back to his talan. Caladwen went home and dreamt about their kiss, knowing it would be the only time she would experience it. Tomorrow she would start her new life. That's all she needed to think about now.
Haldir entered his talan to find Nieriel standing beside his bed, wearing nothing more than a dainty gold chain around her waist. Her long black hair covered her breasts and she had an impish look upon her face.
"Where have you been Marchwarden? I have been waiting for you." she said wantonly. This was too much for Haldir. After sharing such a fiery kiss with Caladwen and now finding Nieriel naked and waiting for him, he let go of all his pent up desire and spent it on his black haired vixen. His animalistic lust flowed forth and he took her time and time again that night, making her scream his name until she fell into reverie. When he was sure she was deep in elvish sleep, he left their bed and went out on the balcony of his talan, looking out towards the palace. After tomorrow, he would not see Caladwen for many years and he wondered if they would ever share that kiss again.
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.