Galithon leaned against a fallen log near the edge of the camp. Anor rose in the eastern sky, shining its cheery morning face upon the waters of Rhûn. It was early spring, and snowdrops poked through the melting snow straining ivory petals to greet the sun as it journeyed overhead. Galithon appreciated the beauty wrought of Arda but found his thoughts drawn west to Elvenhome. Traveling with elflings reminded him of his own son lost at Dagorlad, residing now in the Halls of Mandos or perhaps he had been released to dwell in Tol Eressëa.
“Where do your thoughts lead you this morn?”
Galithon had felt the approach of another and turned now to smile at Lachthoniel, who brought with him portions of the morning meal for each of them.
“Children,” Galithon replied, accepting the food. “I can not recall elflings in the midst of a war party in my many years.”
Lachthoniel lowered himself to the ground next to Galithon. “I can not think of any tale told where elflings were the reason for the war party’s search.”
“Perhaps Elrond and Elros, when they were found near the Mouths of Sirion in Beleriand,” Galithon mused.
“Perhaps,” Lachthoniel shrugged agreeably.
The two elves ate in companionable silence, watching and listening instead to the elflings and elves gathered near the campfire. Sadron was fully recovered and moving about normally. He had established a friendship with the young brother of his friend Alagos, and Legolas had taken to following Sadron about the camp. Sadron sat near the campfire, laughing in a game of ‘peek’ as Legolas hid behind him, jumping up to his right before resuming hiding, then popping up on his left. Galithon smiled as he watched Sadron finally reach over his shoulder and grab the elfling by the waist, flipping him upside down then plopping the child down in his lap. Legolas squealed in glee, jumping up and running around to Sadron’s back with calls to ‘Do again!’
“Who will tire first?” Lachthoniel asked.
“Legolas will tire fairly quickly,” Galithon laughed. “When his energy runs out he will be looking for Tathiel.”
As predicted Legolas kept the game up for only a few minutes more, finally slumping in a heap in Sadron’s lap. He nibbled some fruit, then walked slowly around the fire to Tathiel. She sat as had become usual, leaning against Rawien, his strong arms holding her close to his chest. Legolas pushed the big elf’s arm to the side, cuddling up close to Tathiel then pulling Rawien’s arm around him too. Content, he nestled in to sleep.
“What is your prediction?” Lachthoniel elbowed Galithon.
“I think I might have to help him along. Not much,” Galithon grinned as Lachthoniel jabbed him again, “just enough to ensure he has the right tools when he finally decides the time is right.”
“How about the other two?” Lachthoniel motioned to the two sitting a little apart from the others.
Galithon snorted. “We just need to get them home so he can speak to her parents.”
“How do you plan to help Rawien along?” Lachthoniel pressed him.
“Why are you so inquisitive this morning?” Galithon inquired.
Lachthoniel grinned, “I have a bet with Bellion and Laerion.”
“Aye, and you hope to further your odds by ‘helping’ the lovebirds along,” Galithon chuckled. “We will stay here a few days to replenish our supplies and gather news of orc activity to the north. Ethiwen and I have time to explore the shops.”
Lachthoniel jumped to his feet, graciously taking both plates back to the campfire. “That is good information to have, my friend.”
Galithon shook his head as he saw Lachthoniel join Laerion and Bellion and the debate among the three began anew. He turned his attention back to the elflings. Ethiwen already lay sleeping, her daughters spooned against her and her arms around them both. Varandil was right: just the short time in their Nana’s presence had done much to restore them to health. They were eating well, the gauntness of their faces lessened; their cheeks again round and rosy. Yet their eyes were at times haunted, and often they startled when approached.
Galithon found himself filled with anger at the men who had put such fear into children. Tinánia and Eärundra initially avoided the male elves altogether. Gradually they had come to trust Varandil as he gently cared for them. Sadron teased them and both girls remembered happier days when he had taught Tinánia and Elumeril the rudimentary skills of archery. They had accepted Laerion with similar memories. The ellyth knew him as well, for Galithon had long been friends with their Nana and Ada; his presence known to them since their birth. Galithon had watched each of the male elves make careful overtures to the ellyth: Bellion admiring Tinánia’s bow, listening to her shy tale of how she had used it to shoot the orc off the cliff and then again in battle the night they were rescued; and then his invitation to practice together.
Meren too had befriended Tinánia and often the child was seen practicing her skills under the watchful and tender gazes of the archers.
Eärundra’s experience killing the orc that had attacked Tathiel had strengthened her courage and self-worth while also drawing her away from any desire to play at being a warrior. She instead mothered Legolas, playing with him with his animals and teaching him new words. Shyer yet than her sister, she remained close to her Nana, Tathiel and Legolas. She trusted Rawien and accepted him readily when he joined her and Legolas in their play. Varandil and Ethiwen had spoken long about Eärundra, for her broken hips and legs while healed were not restored to normal. Sitting the horse for hours each night wore on the child and she walked stiffly and painfully each morning. In times of pain she turned often to Tathiel first for relief, and Galithon noted the sorrowful expressions in the faces of both Tathiel and Ethiwen at this. Both Tinánia and Eärundra had called for Tathiel in their sleep when scared, and both woke to their Nana’s tender voice and clung to her, relief evident that the nightmare was over.
Across the camp Tathiel would silently weep. She felt as if part of her soul had been torn from her when the ellyth were returned to their mother. For while she had hoped, wished and struggled for that day, it meant sundering a bond she had forged with them over the many months in the cave and in captivity. She would hold Legolas close, still nursing him in the night hours, although more for comfort than sustenance, and she knew the day was coming when she would relinquish him to his Ada too.
Her comfort lay in Rawien, and it was in the warmth and safety of his arms that she drew her strength. He whispered words of love to her; words of never leaving her again and she knew that with his patience she would heal of this hurt too.
All of this Galithon watched and observed, for his great skill in tracking and captaining the King’s guard had led him to note the most minute of details and the subtlest of behaviors. He saw the young love of Varandil and Elunell that had grown since he had tended her wounds. Varandil would speak to her parents, and they would follow traditional ceremonies for the pledging and binding of their lives together. It was a love that would grow and flourish as the households to which each belonged also joined.
Thoughts of his long friendship with Rawien brought a smile to his lips, and Galithon laughed inwardly. Rawien had watched Tathiel for over a century, never betraying his feelings about her to anyone, including the she-elf herself. He was a patient elf, ever waiting and watching for the right time. Neither he nor Tathiel had family in Mirkwood; there were no parents or siblings to encourage and join with them. Rawien certainly seemed to realize what he had nearly lost, as he had not let Tathiel out of his sight since they had recovered her and seldom removed himself from her physical presence either.
Galithon appreciated that Rawien could go slowly and had encouraged it for he had recognized the shock that Tathiel was in when found. Their love could not be based on the emotion of the rescue or the safety she felt in his arms. But he also did not wish his friend to be so patient that he ever remained only a friend to Tathiel. Dorwinia was the only large town they would pass on their journey home, and with many months of travel yet before them he and Ethiwen had decided a little encouragement might be necessary.
Feeling rather smug in his plans, Galithon drifted into sleep.
The camp established by the elves that morning was on the outskirts of Dorwinia. The city’s militia patrolled a border just to the east of the camp, and throughout the day the elves had noted the timing and passing of the guards. The captain of the guard was the same one that they had met the summer before, and he spent some time sitting with Galithon, offering his own words of pleasure that the mission of the elves had been successful.
All of the camp had awakened by early afternoon, and plans were already being made to enter the city. Galithon wished for information about orc activity and any word from the north and west. Ethiwen wished to obtain suitable clothing for her children, who had grown in the two years away from home. Tinánia’s arms and legs had far outgrown her tunics and leggings, and the month of improved food meant that seams were finally stretching tight. Eärundra had grown less, but her clothing was sadly worn and torn, and needed to be replaced.
Laerion, Bellion, Sadron and Lachthoniel had taken apart the carrier Tathiel had made for Legolas when they walked out of the Iron Hills and into Karan, and were debating the best way to remake the item into a carrier that would allow the child to sit securely in front of an adult, facing forward, but without stretching small legs onto either side of a horse. Their debate and animated motions had drawn looks of amusement from all of the she-elves; and even Rawien and Galithon found themselves laughing at the four young warriors. None had children nor knew the least thing about elfling care and feeding, but all had strong opinions on how Legolas should ride home. They would be going into town to obtain supplies, once they agreed on what those supplies should be.
Varandil needed to replenish his medical kit, and Elunell wished to accompany him. The two were past giving excuses for spending time alone together, and bets had been placed on whether the two would return from their trip into town with matching silver rings.
“Do you wish to go into town, Tathiel?” Rawien asked.
Tathiel lay on her side on her bedroll, one of the wolf-pelts spread out in front of her and Legolas’ carved animals all around her. Legolas currently sat leaning against her, chattering about the animals. She had long since lost the thread of the story he was weaving, and she smiled at the interruption.
“I do not wish to bring Legolas into town,” she replied, “nor do I wish to go myself.”
“Then we shall stay here,” Rawien replied. He continued grooming his horse, watching the two play together while watches were set and those not on duty prepared to go into the city.
“You do not need to forsake the trip because we do not go,” Tathiel reminded him.
“There is nothing I need that Galithon cannot obtain for me,” Rawien replied mildly. If she thought he was leaving her side, she was sorely mistaken.
“A longer strap of leather, with a buckle, and then it could be adjusted so he could ride with any, regardless of their height,” Laerion’s voice rose slightly above the others.
The four elves descended on Tathiel and Legolas, and neither even blinked an eye at their approach. Legolas dutifully stood without even breaking from the tale he was creating, and sat on the leather and canvas contraption the warriors had made. The warriors argued amiably, adjusting and moving the straps.
“Ai!” Legolas squealed as he suddenly found himself lifted high off the ground. He couldn’t see who held him, as he was in the carrier facing forward, his back pressed to someone’s chest. He finally tilted his head back and looked up to see who had him. “Bellon!”
Bellion grinned down at the elfling before proclaiming success to the others. “This will work well. See, there is minimum pressure on my shoulders and if I had to I could quickly release the whole carrier to reach my bow.”
“Yes, but if there were buckles, then someone shorter than you could take him while you went off to shoot your bow,” Laerion argued.
As quickly as they had come, the four were gone.
“How soon before they realize they still have Legolas?” Tathiel asked, sitting up and watching as the four moved back to their design area.
Rawien shook his head in mirth. His horse butted him gently, and he resumed brushing the gelding. Anorion considered the small two-legged colt his, so why the others were fighting over him when clearly the little one, his master and his master’s lady all belonged to him, was beyond his good horse-sense.
“We are leaving,” Galithon approached with Ethiwen, Meren and the ellyth. “Varandil and Elunell will accompany us into town. We leave you those four for protection.”
All eyes were directed to the four, who were passing the carrier with Legolas still seated, around the group for each to try on.
Meren began to laugh, her shoulders shaking. “If we should return to see orcs sitting about the camp with the harness about their necks, being measured to carry the tithen caun, we will know they have left sanity behind. I am astounded by the amount of time and energy those four have dedicated to this project with such single-minded purpose! Tathiel, how long did you spend creating the original carrier?”
Tathiel leaned back against her pack, stretching in the warming sun. “Perhaps four hours. I had help though, too. Eärundra entertained Legolas and Tinánia caught rabbits for dinner.”
The roar of laughter from the other side of camp momentarily garnered the attention of the four warriors, but they failed to recognize themselves as the brunt of the humor and quickly resumed their debate.
Dorwinia’s main road was crowded with street vendors displaying their wares, as well as the storefronts of the more established merchants. Varandil and Elunell split off from the group immediately to search for healing supplies. Ethiwen located a general store which sold clothing and fabrics, and the rest of the elves entered together.
The shopkeeper was kind, and found suitable clothing for both ellyth and Legolas. The tunics and leggings were earth toned, and though lacking the fine detailing the elves would have added, the pieces were presentable and functional.
“We should replace Tathiel’s tunic while we are here,” Meren said softly to Ethiwen. “It is badly torn.”
“That happened the first day,” Tinánia offered. “She said it made it easier to nurse Legolas. Guryn ripped her other tunic almost all the way off her. She used it for bandages for Legolas’ arm after Guryn threw him.”
Galithon, Meren and Ethiwen all stared at the child. When they had related the story of being taken hostage and held captive, this level of detail seldom surfaced. Details of this nature tended to emerge in day to day discussions, and Ethiwen found it very disconcerting. She did not know what to expect or when to expect it.
“How did your tunic become torn, Tinánia?” Galithon asked.
Tinánia looked away quickly. Ethiwen drew the child to her and hugged her close.
“Hazad’s sons, Nurnan and Patel, attacked me in the barn. Nurnan ripped my tunic. Tathiel came just in time to stop them from hurting me more,” Tinánia replied softly.
Ethiwen squeezed her shoulders again, and Tinánia breathed a sigh of relief. She hesitated to tell her Nana what had happened, wishing not to cause her mother pain. Yet telling what happened helped to ease her own pain.
“For that I am very thankful. Which tunic do you think she would like better?” Ethiwen held up two garments before Eärundra and Tinánia, deftly changing the subject.
Purchases paid for, Ethiwen led the ellyth form the store. They stopped next at a jeweler’s.
“Nana, why are we going to a jeweler?” Eärundra questioned.
“It is a surprise. You must keep this a secret, tithen min,” Ethiwen smiled.
“When elves fall in love and decide to bind themselves together, it is customary for them to exchange silver rings pledging their love. They will take those back and give gold rings in their stead on the day of the binding ceremony,” Galithon explained.
“Who are they for?’ Eärundra asked.
“Think,” Tinánia nudged her sister.
“These are for Tathiel and Rawien?” Eärundra asked, her face lighting up with a smile.
Galithon grinned back. “Yes, and I shall give one ring to Rawien and your Nana shall give the other to Tathiel. That way we can nudge them a little about pledging themselves to each other.”
Eärundra continued to smile as she considered this new information. Tinánia was already looking at silver rings.
“How do you know they want to pledge themselves to each other?” Eärundra asked after a moment of thought.
“We can just tell,” Ethiwen laughed. “We have been with Rawien for many months while we looked for you.”
“Tathiel did not talk about him,” Eärundra was confused.
“It was not safe for her to do so, and I do not know that she would have told us anyway,” Tinánia was not in the least bit upset by this. “Come look at this one!”
Eärundra was quickly drawn into the decision of which rings to purchase, and Galithon stood back while the four she-elves decided on what ring Rawien should give Tathiel. Galithon had quickly picked out a ring suitable for Tathiel to give Rawien.
Decisions made, each ring was carefully wrapped and slipped inside a small leather pouch. Galithon tucked one into his tunic while Ethiwen took the other. After paying the jeweler, Meren led them back out on to the street.
Galithon turned at the sound of his name. The captain of the militia beckoned to him, and excusing himself from the she-elves, he joined the man.
“When last you were here, we spoke of a man who made a point of telling many in town that a she-elf and her children were taken south by the Haradrim,” the captain spoke softly. “That man has returned. I have asked him his business here, and he said they are searching for his nephew’s wife and son who have disappeared.”
Galithon had started at this revelation, and now found himself gripping the hilt of his sword tight.
“Where is this man? How many are with him?”
“They are camped to the east of the River Celduin. I suggested they stay within the city borders, but he is arrogant and says he does not fear orcs.”
“Thank you, my friend, for this information,” Galithon bowed slightly to the man. “I must return the children to our camp.”
“If you were to return after nightfall to question these men, I and my patrol would gladly accompany you as witnesses,” the captain replied thoughtfully.
“After dark, then, at the bridge,” Galithon agreed.
The captain departed, and Galithon hurried to catch up to the she-elves.
“You have made your purchases?” he smiled as Tinánia and Eärundra showed him the food stuffs they had picked out. “This looks good enough to serve at a feast.”
Galithon caught Meren’s eye, and he nodded in the direction of the market. She swiftly departed to find Varandil and Elunell.
“Come, let us return to camp,” Galithon steered them quickly back the way they had come.
Varandil, Elunell and Meren met them just at the edge of town, and they returned to camp. Legolas was sleeping sprawled out on top of Tathiel, who lay napping beneath him. Ethiwen handed the packages of food and clothing to her daughters.
“Show Tathiel your new clothes and the tunic you picked out for her.”
Tinánia and Eärundra exchanged glances. Clearly something had happened in town and the adults did not wish them to know of it. Tinánia watched as her mother joined all the other warriors near the edge of the camp, leaving Tathiel and the three children near the campfire.
“What is happening?” Tathiel woke as the ellyth seated themselves next to her on the ground.
Tinánia grinned at her. “The warriors will tell us when they wish. I thought they were talking around us because we are young; perhaps they are talking around us because they are warriors.”
“We have to show you what we bought in town, Tathiel,” Eärundra was less concerned about warriors. “Look at your new tunic!”
“I wish to go,” Ethiwen stated firmly.
“Five will go,” Galithon replied, equally firm. “Five must stay and guard the camp. Myself, Bellion, Meren, Laerion and Lachthoniel will go.”
Galithon watched the single eyebrow arch and eyes narrow as Rawien listened to the orders he had just given. Ethiwen started to speak, but was restrained by the light touch on her shoulder.
“Galithon is right,” Rawien stepped forward. “Your place is with your children this night, Ethiwen. A terrible tragedy it would be to find your children and then be lost yourself in the event of a battle.”
Galithon and Rawien locked eyes for a moment. As commander of the war-party, Rawien had the right to lead this group as well as to call his friend to task for asserting leadership in the matter.
Rawien lowered his eyes.
“Galithon will lead the party this night, and for the remainder of the journey home,” Rawien stated solemnly. “I act now as his second.”
Rawien stepped back into the circle, leaving Galithon in command to lead.
Galithon looked out at amused glances and saw something slip between Laerion and Bellion. He suppressed a smile himself and continued.
“They are camped to the east of the Celduin, despite warnings from the militia of orc activity. We will meet the patrol guards at the bridge. They will accompany us to act as witnesses to our questioning. It is not our way to carry out punishment for wrongs committed without due justice. At home the accused would stand before the King. Here we will follow the laws of men. We might request that we be allowed to escort them to stand before our King; however I do not wish to travel with such men when their presence would be a torment to those they have already wronged. Prepare to leave at nightfall.”
The warriors dispersed to attend to the matter of dinner and also, apparently, to the wager. Rawien and Galithon stood together in silence. Galithon pulled the leather pouch from his tunic and grasping his friend by the arm, placed it in his hand.
Rawien unwrapped the parcel in silence, loosing the silver ring from its nest of cloth. He looked at Galithon in surprise.
“I have nothing for you, my married friend,” Rawien laughed softly.
“You have publicly admitted your love for her by stepping aside from leading this mission. Use this when the time is right to tell her. Earlier I cautioned you to show restraint. She loves you too, gwador-nín, and she is able to bear your love. Do not make her wait long.”
Galithon clapped Rawien on the back and walked back to the campfire.
Legolas sat on his wolf-pelt, dressed in his new clothing, with a slice of fresh bread with butter in one hand, a pile of dried berries and nuts in his lap, and roasted chicken in his other hand. His mouth was full, and he seemed in a quandary what to cram in it next.
Across the camp Sadron sat with a small sketchpad and charcoal pencil, sketching the elfling. He had done several of the small elf in the past weeks as a gift for the child’s family. He smiled as he tried to capture the look about Legolas’ face, the sheer delight at the feast before him. It had been many months since the child had eaten this well.
“What is happening this evening?” Tathiel softly asked Rawien.
Rawien was silent for a moment. Finally meeting her gaze solidly he told her the truth.
“The men who held you captive are in town. The captain of their militia reported to Galithon that the same man, Guryn I believe his name would be, who spread the tale of your being taken by the Haradrim has returned looking for the wife and son of his nephew.”
Tathiel immediately rose, reaching for Legolas, but was stilled by Rawien’s grasp of her arm.
“You are safe, as are Legolas and Tinánia and Eärundra. We will go with the men of the militia to their camp tonight.”
Rawien drew her next to him, covering her shaking hands with his own, calming her.
“Who will go?”
“Galithon, Bellion, Laerion, Meren and Lachthoniel. The rest of us stay to guard the camp.”
Tathiel considered this information. She was glad he was not going; she was glad Ethiwen would not meet these men.
“Will they be brought to stand before King Thranduil?” she asked slowly.
“No, we will allow the justice of men to prevail,” Rawien answered. He drew her chin up to look her in the eye. “The children will not ever look upon them again.”
Tathiel sighed with relief, then smiled. “Can you not hear Legolas calling them bad men for all to hear?”
“I would gain amusement but will not upset him with their presence. All of the gains made with each of the young ones would be lost if they were subjected to the company of such men. Elven justice is not worth that price. They may find the justice of Men harshest of all. Stealing children is a serious offense here.”
The five elves selected to confront the men left not long after nightfall. The children all sensed the tension about the warriors who remained, and the camp was quiet and still as the elflings played quietly. They were settled into sleep a few hours later as the warriors waited patiently.
The moon had risen fully and Eärendil was well into his nightly journey when the five returned. Meren was limp in the arms of Bellion, who staunched the flow of blood from an arrow wound to her shoulder.
The camp had roused at their approach, and now the fire was built fresh as each rushed to the aid of the injured. Varandil quickly relieved Bellion of his charge, carrying Meren to a place near the fire. Elunell helped Galithon from his horse, supporting his weight as he eased himself to the ground. He attempted to stand, but crumpled to the ground as the pain and injury to his leg proved more serious than he had thought. Laerion quickly scooped him into his arms, and gently placed him next to Meren.
“What happened?” Rawien was already stripping the legging from Galithon’s battered leg.
“Orcs.” Galithon grimaced. “The men were under attack when we arrived. Large party, like to the size we fought the night we found the little ones,” he estimated. “Varandil! We think the arrows were poisoned.”
Varandil was carefully removing the arrow that had passed through Meren’s shoulder and out the back of her tunic. She moaned in pain, and he motioned for Elunell to hurry with the pain draught.
“It is a common poison, painful and burns terribly but not fatal,” Varandil replied as he held the arrow head gingerly with a cloth. “What of your leg?”
“Broken,” Rawien replied brusquely. “How did you manage this?”
“A daring leap from his horse,” Lachthoniel answered for him as Sadron tended a scratch across his cheek. “Meren would be dead if he had not done so.”
Elunell finished mixing the pain draughts, and lifting Meren’s head poured the trickle down her throat. The medicine worked quickly, and soon she was stilled, allowing Varandil to finish tending her wound.
“You next,” Elunell commanded Galithon.
All thoughts of argument slid from his mind as Rawien unwrapped the hastily applied bandage from his leg and pain flowed through him. He, too, drifted quickly into oblivion.
The children had all woken in the bustle of activity, and Tinánia moved to sit nearer to Meren. Ethiwen was now assisting Varandil as they cleaned and bandaged her shoulder, and tended to other minor wounds on her side. Tathiel held Legolas, woolf clutched in his hands and silent as he took in the scene before him.
“Meren hurt,” he whispered softly in Tathiel’s ear.
“Meren is hurt, but she will wake up later and feel much better,” Tathiel stroked his hair.
Ethiwen and Varandil finished with Meren, and Legolas squirmed down from Tathiel’s arms. He walked a few steps to where Tinánia now sat with Meren, seating himself carefully at her side. A warm blanket had been placed over her, and Legolas could just see her hands lying limp on her abdomen. He slipped woolf beneath her hand, then pulled the blanket over her arm.
Galithon’s leg was set and the wound carefully packed and wrapped. They would not stitch the skin closed yet. It would be several days before he could move, and Varandil would not sew the skin or splint the leg until the swelling had lessened.
The injured tended, the elves gathered near the roaring blaze to hear tell of what happened.
“We met the militiamen at the bridge and crossed the Celduin,” Bellion began the story. “The camp of the men was nearly a mile beyond the crossing; quite foolish given the orc activity this spring. We heard the sounds of battle as we approached and saw the men and orcs fighting. They were greatly outnumbered and not skilled in battle. Three had fallen before we arrived, and the remaining three were losing ground. It was too close a battle for arrows so we were forced into hand combat immediately. Meren had killed two orcs threatening a young man, and was shot by an orc at close range. Galithon did indeed jump from his horse, knocking the orc aside. The aim was not true and caught her in shoulder.
“We routed the orcs, chasing them into the darkness. One of the militiamen died this night, and they also had one with serious injuries.”
“What of the men in camp?” Ethiwen finally asked.
“Four were dead in the battle. Another died as we left. The one remaining was taken back to Dorwinia by the militia.”
“Do you know the name of the one who survived?” Tathiel asked hesitantly.
“Hazad,” Laerion answered. “The young man Meren saved was Tal-Elmar; but he succumbed to his wounds not long after.”
There was silence in the camp. Tathiel stood and walked into the darkness, just at the edge of the camp.
“Tal-Elmar was nice to us,” Eärundra said softly.
Tinánia held Legolas, and he squirmed. He could not see Tathiel and longed to follow after her.
“Tafiel!” he finally called out impatiently.
Rawien motioned for Tinánia to release him, and he held out his hand to Legolas who ran to join him. The little hand slipped into the big one, followed by, “Up, please.”
Rawien swung Legolas into his arms, and they moved in the darkness to where Tathiel stood. Legolas reached for her, one hand twisting into her hair as he crawled from Rawien’s arms to hers. She hugged him close and felt small fingers brushing away her tears.
“Tafiel sad,” Legolas observed.
A small sob escaped her, and Rawien tentatively put his hand on her shoulder. She buried her head into his arms.
“He was a nice boy. Hazad did not deserve such a son. Tal-Elmar did not deserve to die,” small sobs escaped her between words.
Rawien gently stroked her hair, feeling a small hand beneath his comforting in the same way.
“Sometimes sons pay for the foolishness of their fathers. I am sorry, Tathiel. I wish I might have met this man who was kind to you,” he whispered gently.
“I guess it is truly over now,” Tathiel spoke into his shoulder.
“It is over, meleth-nín. Come, let us return this little one to his bed.”
“Rawien, how long until we depart? I can not take much more of this mothering,” Galithon called to his friend, laughter in his voice.
“When all the mothers and healers in this camp say you are fit to travel, we will go,” Rawien answered.
Legolas patted Galithon on his good leg. “Galthon hurt. Legles help.”
“That is what I am afraid of,” Galithon groaned.
Ethiwen swatted him on the shoulder. “Be nice! That is your prince you are speaking to. . . .”
“There they go!” Laerion interrupted gleefully.
All eyes watched as Rawien and Tathiel walked a short way out from camp. Rawien chose a place where they were a little screened from view but were not screened enough for sharp and eager Elven eyes. There were sighs from the she-elves as Rawien dropped to one knee before Tathiel. All saw the glint of sunlight reflect off the silver ring as he placed it on her finger, then he raised the slender fingers to his lips and kissed them. They watched as he pulled his meleth down to sit on his leg, and she cupped his face in both hands, murmuring her response. All watching knew the response to be favorable when Rawien wrapped one arm tightly about her waist and drew her head down with his other hand, kissing her long and tenderly.
Legolas had been playing at Galithon’s side when he noticed that everyone was watching something behind him. He rose to his feet, and peered out from between Sadron’s legs. He saw his beloved Tathiel sitting on Rawien’s knee, and then he saw them kiss. He looked up at all the big elves watching the pair; and then watched as the kiss continued. He was too fast for Sadron to catch, and the little blond whirlwind raced to his Tathiel.
He flung himself into their embrace, ending their kiss, and two sets of eyes beheld him. He grinned, then squeezed them both.
“Tafiel like Rawen!” he pronounced.
“Close, nín tithen caun,” Tathiel replied. “Tafiel loves Rawen.”
And she kissed him again.
anor = sun
ellyth = elf maidens
Nana = Mom
Ada = Dad
Nín tithen caun = my little prince
Meleth-nín = my love
Tithen min = little one
gwador-nín = brother mine (unrelated, brother in arms, blood brother)