Disclaimer: OK, hands up all those who thing the characters and settings belong to me? None? Good, then we're all on the same wavelength. Larien is mine though.

Yes, it's an unashamed romance between Haldir and an OC. As I said earlier, if you don't like it, don't read it. I don't think it's a stereotyped Mary Sue, but even if it is, I like it. There, now that that's off my chest, and if there's anyone still willing to read this, enjoy!

Chapter 1

Larien glided across the mossy floor of Lothlórien deep in thought. What had seemed like only minutes earlier, she had been called to the chamber of the Lady. Time passes quickly when in the presence of Galadriel though, as she realised with a jolt.

"Larien!" came the exclamation. Larien raised her head to see Orophin running towards her. "Where have you been? Haldir's been looking for you." Larien felt the familiar surge of annoyance. She was having trouble maintaining her outer aura of calm when it came to Haldir.

"I was . . . busy," she finally replied with a small smile at the elf who she thought of as brother. "Haldir must learn to wait."

"There have been sightings on the northern border, Larien. There is going to be trouble before nightfall." Larien stiffened in response. She had been away from her post far too long, but who could deny the Lady's summons. Her hand reached automatically for her bow as she ran lightly northwards.

"Show me," she commanded.

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Haldir's keen eyes were trained unwaveringly on the figures on the horizon.

"How many, Haldir?" asked Rúmil.

"Eight. Only one an elf," came his short reply.

"How long until they are upon us?" asked Larien as she approached them silently. Haldir risked a quick, stern look in her direction.

"You should have been on lookout," was his curt reply.

"I was busy. I made sure my lookout was covered."

"That is not good enough, Larien. You have sharper eyes than most of the others. You should have been here." He turned back towards the travellers as Larien bit her lip, biting back a cutting remark of her own. The last thing she wanted to do was expose the details of her conversation to him. The Lady's words still echoed in her head, silencing her legendary sharp tongue.

"Forgive me, brother," she replied through gritted teeth, and watched his back stiffen at the term. She knew he hated it when she referred to him as brother, which was exactly why she did it now.

Her mind wandered as she trained her vision on the eight spots in the distance. Rúmil, Orophin and herself had been the terrible threesome when they were young. When her parents were killed during an encounter with orcs, their family had taken her in, treated her like one of their own. Except Haldir. Haldir had always kept his distance. In the beginning, she had made an effort to include the serious elf into their games, but he had continued refusing to join them. His brothers had excused him, saying Haldir had been trying to maintain the image of being the eldest and therefore the most responsible, but surely, how much responsibility could one elf assume? It was only within the past few hundred years that Haldir had started resenting her references to him as brother. Rumil

"Four halflings and a dwarf travel with them also," she supplied. Haldir grunted in reply, his uncooperative mood sending out waves of displeasure. Rúmil and Orophin stiffened. A dwarf setting foot in the woods of Lothlórien was unheard of.

"Orophin, go and alert the Lord and Lady. Rúmil, gather some wardens. I don't want to be caught unawares this time," he finished pointedly, aiming his last remark at Larien. As the brothers left, leaving the two elves alone, Larien settled herself in the low branches of one of the nearby trees.

"How long then, Haldir?" she repeated her earlier question.

"A few mornings yet," came the grunted response. There was a pause. "May I ask where you were that was so much more important than keeping to your watch?"

"You may not," she replied, her temper already frayed. "Much as you would like to believe otherwise, you are not my warden."

"No, but I am marchwarden of these lands, and I am entitled to an explanation."

"I am afraid, dear brother," she emphasized this word, "that you are not." Haldir spun round to face her.

"Have I not made it clear that you should not refer to me as your brother?" he whispered with quiet menace.

"Since you ask, you have not. You have simply angered when I mentioned it, but never told me it bothered you, nor why." His grey eyes glinted like ice chips in the twilight.

"Is it not enough that you lead my brothers astray? Must you delight in angering me also?" Larien slid down from her perch.

"Lead your brothers astray? They were the only ones who kept me company on the lonely nights after my parents died, the only ones who comforted me as I wept. They supported me as I found my feet in a parentless world. How can you say that I, of all people, lead them astray?" A flicker of emotion clouded the piercing grey eyes boring into her.

"Will you not admit that you are the sole reason they do not have mates?" Larien's eyes narrowed dangerously.

"Haldir, you are treading on dangerous ground here. What exactly are your accusations?"

"You know what I am talking about. You use your charm and looks to ensure my brothers' eternal loyalty to you. No she-elf dares come within sight of either of them for fear of you." Larien could not hold back her fury towards the arrogant elf any longer. Her hands reached back for her elven knives, swinging them forwards in an attack posture.

"I cannot allow you to spread lies about my dealings with my brothers." Haldir laughed humourlessly and turned away from her provocatively.

"Do not turn your back on an elf wielding knives," she warned. "Face your opponent and fight." In an instant, he had turned, knives in hand, mirroring her stance.

"If that is your wish, maiden, but be warned that you are no match for me."

"I fight to defend my honour and that of my brothers. The Valar will give me strength." Haldir grinned knowingly.

"The Valar do not waste their time on irritating young maidens such as yourself." He paused as they circled each other, neither of them wanting to make the first move. "If I win, you will stop calling me brother, and leave my brothers be." Her eyes narrowed once again. She had to defeat this arrogant, infuriating elf.

As if by unspoken agreement, they both struck, the battle between them coming to life as the clink of their clashing knives echoed throughout the forest. Larien was good with knives. She had been taught by some of the best knife-wielders in Lothlórien, but Haldir was far superior. He was fast and smooth, and although Larien fought competently, he learned her weaknesses within minutes.

Beads of perspiration formed on Larien's brow as she fought off strike after strike from the silver-haired elf. She knew she could fight well enough to defend herself, but the realisation slowly penetrated that she would never be able to defeat him.

With one final swing of his blades, Haldir forced her back into a tree, flicking one knife out of her hand, and twisting the other downwards into the ground. She landed heavily on her back, one arm twisted as Haldir's knife held her own to the ground. Tree roots were digging into her body painfully, but nothing compared to the humiliation of Haldir kneeling in conquest over her. His knife was at her throat, the point of it just grazing the skin under her jaw.

"Do you accept defeat?" he asked, somewhat unnecessarily. She swallowed slowly.

"I do not seem to have any choice," she replied softly. He removed his elven knife from her skin, smirking at his victory. As he swung the blades round into their sheathes at his back, her knee came up forcefully, kicking his legs from under him and he fell forwards. She raised her hands to grapple with him, anger lending her strength she did not know she possessed, and they launched into battle anew, struggling on the mossy ground. This battle lasted much less than their knife fight, and soon, he had brought her under control by pinning her wrists to the ground above her head, and her legs under his body.

"You certainly do not know when you are beaten," he told her, still struggling to restrain her flailing limbs. She felt the tears of resentment welling up behind her eyelids, but she was determined not to give him the satisfaction of seeing her crumble. The last thing she needed now was to give him further ammunition for his argument against having females as wardens.

"I accept defeat," she whispered, knowing she was beaten and desperately trying to salvage what little of her pride she had left. She closed her eyes in defeat, trying to swallow back the tears, waiting for Haldir to release her, but he did not. She opened her eyes to see him staring into her face in concern. His breathing was harsh and gasping, the fight obviously having taken more out of him than she had realised.

"Haldir?" she questioned, but still he did not move. "Haldir, I accepted defeat, what more do you ask of me?"

"Forgive me, Lady," he blinked, releasing her wrists and rising to his feet. "Are you hurt?" Larien got up from the ground, brushing the leaves from her tunic.

"No more than would be expected. No more than I can handle," she replied flippantly, determined not to give him the satisfaction. She could feel the bruises forming in her back where the roots had dug in, and across her wrists where he had restrained her, but she refused to wince in pain as she sheathed her knives.

She was still pondering Haldir's abrupt change in attitude towards her when Orophin approached them. He eyed Larien's dishevelled state, but said nothing.

"I have informed the Lord and Lady. They request we monitor their progress and alert them again if they cross into our lands," he informed them. Haldir remained facing the horizon, his back to the other two elves. Orophin glanced over at Larien questioningly.

"It is nearly time for the change. Have Rúmil organise the next watch," Haldir finally demanded before continuing his contemplative stare into the distance.

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Please R&R, because although I'm still hoping I won't be flamed, I'd like to know how it's going. Cheers! :oD