Title: Before the Dawn
Author: Rosalyn Angel ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
Summary: "And maybe tonight, we'll fly so far away, we'll be lost before the dawn."
Disclaimer: You don't see rompin' Elves, then I don't own them.
Author's Notes: I'd like to think this is book-verse, and the slash seems to be more implied than anything. Anyway, I felt like writing something beautiful. Or at least attempt to. And I came across this song: "Before the Dawn," by Evanescence. A beautiful thing, that. I went from there. Hope it came across as such. ^_^;; This was also written because I have this really gorgeous scenery in my head that I really wanted to get into a story, and why not make it even prettier by adding two beloved Elves?
Thanks to my friend Midnightepyon for beta-ing!
"Before the Dawn"
by: Rosalyn Angel
"It has been long."
A head crowned in sun-kissed hair lifts from pointing at the ground and gazes in the direction of the factual voice, presuming that the owner is indeed leading him from the front. A silver cloth, folded several times to crisp perfection, is placed over his eyes and tied behind his golden head, letting the remains of it spill from the tight knot (though it feels light on his head) and mingle with the long waist-length strands. The cloth's fastening is right on the thick braid that he usually weaves half of his hair in, letting the other half fall around his deceptively – for they are strong – slim shoulders and back; the blindfold also conceals side braids above his pointed ears. The silver covering is cool on his pale skin, bunching up a little over the bridge of his nose; and whenever he blinks, his dark eyelashes slide smoothly over it from the inside, never once catching.
He hears rustling all around him; forest creatures flitting through the leaves, he supposes. The only things he is sure of are the strong hand holding his right one and the grass he treads upon. The hand holds his own, palm to palm, like he is a disabled being: the fingers are clasped around the back of his hand and his are the same to the other. He feels a tug on it to the left suddenly and almost stumbles over an upraised tree root, but quickly catches himself with able feet. A low chuckle in front of him causes him to frown.
"I see not the humor in this," he says irritated, looking ahead blindly and being turned this way and that through the Wood. "And what do you mean it has been long? We both have our duties. You understand that, Haldir."
"Aye, that I do," the other Elf responds, his smug voice breezing past the blindfolded being. "But that does not mean I cannot miss you, Prince Legolas."
This makes Legolas smile briefly, though it soon vanishes as they switch directions again abruptly. "Where are you leading me? Do I have to have this confounded cloth over my eyes?"
"A plague on the stiff necks of Elves!" Haldir says, laughing, mocking their earlier predicament which involved a certain Dwarf and the crossing through the Naith of Lórien. "Do you not trust me?"
"I trust you," Legolas quickly interjects, his brown thin boots gliding over the long blades of green grass: it is autumn in Lothlórien and the golden leaves have yet to fall. The two Elves barely make a single bent grass in their wake from their light and graceful footsteps, walking at a swift pace but not quite jogging. "But I wonder if you trust me: can I not just close my eyes and open them when told so?" the Prince asks seriously.
"But of course!" Haldir retorts in a merry tone. "Although I cannot deny myself the pleasure of seeing you shove your pride down for me to bear it. 'Tis too amusing."
Legolas snorts and considers using his other hand to yank off the blindfold, but then Haldir speaks again in a murmuring voice:
"We are almost there. It will be worth it. I would not pull you from your Fellowship and Caras Galadhon on your last night of stay without good reason."
Legolas nods quietly then notes a slight change in the air: it becomes cooler on his skin to the point where the blindfold seems warm. The rustling of birds and squirrels shift to the low sound of a calm wind, brushing across his face and silver shirt (he left his green tunic behind), until all other noises of the forest are inaudible compared to it. The air is soothing and he breathes it in deeply, smelling a forming moisture in the air like morning dew. But it is night, he knows, for they left around early evening and have been walking for what seems like hours toward the Southwest corner of the Golden Wood.
"The Lord and the Lady have called for another meeting with the Fellowship, regarding our departure," Legolas reminds the other Elf, fearing that he may not return in time. Then the tranquil breeze lightly picks up the knee-length tails of his shirt – which part only in the front, a thick dark belt keeping it in place at his waist – and flared sleeves. It makes him almost uncaring of the said summons, and the hand leading him serves no purpose but to make him wish to follow.
"You will be there, Prince," Haldir reassures. "I, of all people, would not displease the Lady."
"Aye," Legolas agrees quietly, knowing Haldir's loyalty. He lowers his head, the blonde locks spilling down his chest swinging slightly. "You did not answer my question. Where are you leading me?"
"Somewhere you will love, far deep in the Southwest corner of the Wood."
"That is a vague description."
"And be glad for it."
Legolas pauses for a moment, unsure of how to respond. Then: "Am I not allowed to know the way to this place?"
Another chuckle as they turn left again, the tug on the Prince's hand signalizing so. "'Tis my place, to be more specific: I would rather keep it a secret and share its view only with those close by my side. I found it on one of my patrols, while you were still away in Mirkwood. Though I think – no, I am positive – that the Lady knows of this place already, but speaks not of it. I marvel at how no one dares to venture far just because of fell rumors of Orcs near the borders; someone else may have found this place before me if they had been more brave."
Legolas' interest peaks at this confession, curiosity taking over. An inkling of mirth seeps through then in his tenor voice as he replies: "You consider yourself brave, Haldir?"
"I merely consider others not so."
At the casually haughty answer, Legolas smiles, a pull at the corners of his mouth. "Aye."
The two walk in silence, Haldir leading and Legolas following. Their hurried pace turns leisurely and Legolas feels the earth beneath his boots become softer, almost moist, accenting the wet-smelling breeze. His eyebrows knit together.
"Haldir?" he calls unsurely. "I did not know the environment so rapidly changed anywhere in the Golden Wood."
"Perhaps that is why I called it my secret," the Marchwarden says. "Come, we are only a few feet away."
Legolas suddenly finds himself having to squeeze through closely placed trees, almost as if they are walking into a cage of trunks. There are also brushes of something soft and stringy against his face, definitely not his hair, and he lets out a huff of breath to blow whatever they are away. He scowls as the fine threads of his shirt scrap against the bark, not rough yet not smooth, but soon slips through only to encounter more to maneuver about, Haldir being his guide in the unknown territory.
"Why do the trees grow so closely together here?" the Prince asks quietly, wary to disturb the peaceful air.
"I suppose it is to protect what is inside. Galadriel's doing, perhaps."
They continue on like this for several more seconds, until Legolas feels himself step into an open area filled with the creaking of faraway crickets. He tilts his head like a child at the sounds and the moist grass under his boots, growing anxious to see the scenery. Then Haldir's hand suddenly leaves his and he becomes stiff, considering that the Lórien Elf may have left him in the foreign place. But this thought barely has time to finish before he feels nimble fingers working at the tied knot on the back of his head, and he lets out the breath he did not know he had been holding.
Haldir laughs at the tension he probably saw in Legolas' shoulders before he began to untie the cloth. "I am hurt you think me capable of deserting you, Prince."
Legolas feels the blindfold around his eyes loosen to a larger degree as the knot slips out. He opens his mouth to reply, but the material finally falls down to his neck, Haldir holding both ends, and he lets out a shuddering gasp at the revealed view.
There is a large lake stretching out before him. Its shore is a ledge with flattened grass that dips down an inch or so until it meets the still water that sits in its position like glass. There is no disturbance to the liquid at all as its shoreline makes little abrupt curves here and there, continuing all around in a dented circle to close the lake in, its smooth surface like ice, but dark and clear at the same time.
Around the lake and the two Elves is a cage of willow trees, their flimsy branches leaning over all as their thick trunks are slightly bent inward, possibly to get closer to the body of water. The willow branches have white blossoms on them, some still closed and others fully opened, blooming out with many petals tinged with a dark pink. Legolas recognizes this as what might have brushed against his face while entering this place, but quickly he shoves the thought out of his mind as he continues to trail his eyes through every detail.
He notices in rapt awe that the roots of the trees closer to the lake do not go into the ground, but travel instead across the water and sit perfectly still on top of it, each branching out like the trees' tops and creating an intricate maze of roots across the surface; they are all connected to another until they eventually lead back to a trunk teetering on the shoreline's ledge. The trees around the lake itself are spaced out, only the roots closest to the liquid going across and the others digging into the ground; but as the scenery continues outward, the trees begin to group closer together until they form the glade's circular confinement.
The earlier breeze is still there and stringy blossom-laden branches waft slowly in its wake, yet the water remains untouched. Legolas finally looks down and sees the golden flowers named elanor sprouting around the trunks' bases and even near his feet, their splaying petals and thin stems swaying with the branches. The grass is long and reaches his ankles, save for those at the lake's edge, and sometimes conceals the shorter elanor so their golden heads barely peep above. The canopy above lets little moonlight from the outside through, covered with the white and brown of the trees.
But as Legolas' eyes widen at the last aspect of the glade, he knows that outside light is not needed. For the entire place glows on its own; everything within is tinted in different shades of blue. The glow is soft, like the lamps of Lothlórien, and gives everything an even more tranquil feel than it had before. Even above the lake there are pulsing fireflies, flitting here and there, fading in and out of existence, and aiding with their own light. Legolas looks down at his hands, palms up, and stares at them in fascination as even his skin and clothes are covered in the blue spectacle, sparkling just barely. He turns his head abruptly to Haldir, who stands next to him silently with his hands folded behind his back and the blindfold limply hanging in them.
"Haldir . . ." Legolas whispers with a wavering gaze as it darts from the lake to the silver Elf now bathed in azure.
Haldir glances over to Legolas with a smug smirk, knowing that the glade's first sight made the Prince speechless. His hands nonchalantly drop the blindfold to the grass, letting it settle among the flowers and breeze; and he faces Legolas, bringing up one hand and using the back of it to turn the Sindar's gaze to the lake once more.
"Go on, Prince," he says. "Touch the water. See what happens."
Slowly Legolas nods and walks forward, almost afraid of disturbing the ground as he lightly lets his feet fall one in front of the other. Soon he is by the water's edge and kneels down, his hands holding onto the small ledge and leaning over to see his image perfectly reflected. Balancing himself, his right hand reaches out hesitantly, hovering over one large section of water closed in by roots. Then he lowers his fingertips on top of it, feeling the water form around the digits; as he observes, his eyes widen again. Spreading out from his fingers are ripples of yellow and light green against the dark blue, wavering the liquid and enlarging as they continue. The rings travel silently as they touch the nearest roots, which bob in turn and created more golden ripples, connecting with those before. The patterns go from one area to another, stretching out across the lake and making all the roots sway up and down, until the entire lake surface has the gentle yellow and light green waves covering it, creating an ethereal shimmer.
Legolas trembles and falls back, sitting on the grass as his awestruck eyes drink in the scene. He feels tears collect and his mouth gapes open, senses overwhelmed by the caress of the wind, the moist earth, and the soothing sound of singing crickets. But most of all is what his eyes see – it touches him down to his very core. In the water he notices another reflection and realizes that Haldir has chosen to sit next to him, although farther back so he could lay out his legs. The Prince snaps his head to the other Elf, his eyes watery, and murmurs in a broken voice:
"Haldir . . . it is beautiful . . . but how . . ."
Haldir, sitting with his arms pressed back and his hands supporting his weight, shrugs. "I know not. Might as well be the Lady's magic, as I said before."
Legolas nods, accepting this. He turns back to the lake and soon feels Haldir from behind. Strong arms wrap down Legolas' chest as the Marchwarden kneels, laying his chin on the Prince's shoulder. Legolas leans back into the embrace, his hands holding Haldir's arms as the long silver hair traveling down the Lórien Elf's cheeks brushes against his neck. They both stare at the lake as it glitters and everything else is basked in blue, feeling each other's warmth and presence, as they may not be able to do for a long time after.
Suddenly Legolas is forced to remember the concept of time, and he starts. "The Lady Galadriel!" he cries. "I forgot about the Lord's and her call for the Fellowship–"
"Will you not stay for a moment longer?" Haldir questions lazily, not relenting his hold as his eyes slide close, burying his face into Legolas' neck and smelling the sweet aroma of elanor on him. "'Tis not everyday you see something like this."
"'Tis not everyday the Lady of the Wood requests one's being there," Legolas retorts calmly; yet he cannot help but settle down and gaze dreamily at the lake. He sighs contentedly and decides that a few more minutes' peace would not hurt.
Silence overtakes them again, the singing crickets being a lullaby. Legolas hears Haldir's quiet breathing next to his ear and smiles, his tears already dried but the wonder not ceased. Then Haldir's voice drifts into his mind and he turns his attention to that.
"It does not have to be only a moment," Haldir whispers, almost thoughtfully. "It can be hours, or days – perhaps you could even stay here forever."
"Haldir?" Legolas says, not tearing his eyes from ahead. "What do you speak of? Of course I have to return. The–"
"–Fellowship needs you," the Marchwarden finishes the sentence lowly. "I know."
"I can take care of myself."
The statement cuts through Haldir and his winces inwardly, tightening his hold on the Prince. "I know."
There is another long pause between words, and again Haldir is the one to break it.
"But think of it," he says: "would it not be wonderful to remain here, in such a glamorous place? Just like this, you and me."
He suddenly lets go and sits to Legolas' right, his grey cloak piling at the ground as it wraps around his form, grabbing the blonde Elf's shoulders and turning him so they face. His silver eyes bore into Legolas' blue ones with such intensity that it makes the latter shiver.
"You could go back for the meeting and tell them you cannot go," Haldir suggests eagerly, searching Legolas' face. "Then I would bring you back here – I would not bind your eyes so that we could run, race through the trees as fast as we could. Legolas," he says the name for the first time that evening without its title, "we could just fly. We would return here, maybe even before the dawn. No one would find us; we would be lost to them – does that not sound so enticing to you?"
Legolas' countenance becomes sad as Haldir stares at him, expecting him to agree with the words. A melancholic smile touches the blonde's lips; for a moment the Marchwarden thinks he is going to nod and say yes, but instead he hears:
"I have to go."
Haldir's face falls slowly as his dark eyebrows draw together, eyes turning worried: all has not gone as he so wondrously planned it. "Why?"
Legolas' smile remains as his hand reaches up and cups the silver Elf's cheek softly. "Beloved Haldir," he murmurs, "you have to go back, too. We cannot just ignore the world. We must do what we can do."
Haldir regards him before lowering his head, silver hair streaming down his face and his hands still on Legolas' shoulders. But the Prince stands languidly and Haldir's hands slip away; the Marchwarden does not meet the other's eyes until Legolas offers his hand for him to stand. Haldir stares at it as if bewildered; then, frowning, he takes it firmly and pulls himself to his feet. Legolas smiles and takes one last look at the lake as its gold ripples die out. Then they turn from it and begin to walk away, Haldir trailing behind slightly. When they reach the ring of willow trees, Legolas looks back with remorse, first at the water and then at the Elf.
"Haldir," he calls softly. "That does not mean we cannot fly."
Haldir's eyes rise. The Prince smiles again and sprints away, nimbly dodging through the trees, his golden hair fluttering. He gazes at the running form before looking down at the blindfold lying rejected on the ground. Then he glances ahead once more and smirks, quickly following after.
meet me after dark again and i'll hold you
i am nothing more than to see you there
and maybe tonight, we'll fly so far away
we'll be lost before the dawn~fin~