It's been what, three months already? Well, yah, I got caught up in real life. I came very close to forgetting my password to log in to ff.net. hehe. Well, this one's written a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and I do not have my muse inspiring me to either change it or whatever. It was written at about the same time as the previous chapter, so there is some sort of discontinuity if you had not read 33 recently. Especially the ending of that one and the beginning of this one. Also, my pseudo-beta told me that the happening are kinda too fast-paced for her (I won't tell you since that'll spoil everything.) Oh well. The epilogue's still hanging. My muse is taking an awful long vacation. Not that its any excuse, really. Well, hope you enjoy.
The twins and Orophin watched closely as Rhyden stirred, waking from a lengthy slumber. They stood, alert and ready for anything the elf might try to do.
Orophin approached slowly, his anger palpable, but he contained it.
Rhyden turned to look at Orophin as he came closer to the bed, the Galadhrim's hand resting on a knife hanging on his belt. At first, the Rivendell elf was confused. It took a few moments for him to remember, and realize where he was.
No one said a word. Elladan watched Orophin closely, making sure that his friend would not do anything foolish. They did not need more bloodshed.
For a moment, Orophin was tempted to put Rhyden back to sleep. But training allowed him to contain himself.
"I see you have decided to come back to this world." Orophin's voice held a touch of cold anger, letting Rhyden know that the calm façade was just an outside appearance.
Rhyden knew he had no way out. He was injured. He did not have the strength to lift his hand, much less leave the bed. But he would not go down without a fight.
"Will you strike an unarmed elf?" His voice was soft, but challenging. He stared defiantly at the elves standing in the room.
"You are in no position to challenge us. I advise you to watch your words, and your tone." Orophin replied in barely contained fury. He could not believe the gall of the other elf. But it was not worth it. He inhaled, calming himself. This elf very nearly killed his brother, directly or indirectly it did not matter, for Orophin knew that if Glorfindel had died, Haldir would surely have followed.
The twins were tense, still watching Orophin. Finally, Elrohir stepped forward quietly.
"I will call Ada." He said, and turned to leave the talan. Before he reached the door, the Golden Woods' peaceful tranquility was broken by a mournful scream from one of the other talans.
Rumil awoke with a start. A brief moment, and the four elves save for Rhyden ran towards the sound. Elladan was almost to the door when he remembered Rhyden. He paused, watching his brother and the two Lorien elves running out. He would have to stay then.
"Elrond! Elrond!" Glorfindel's voice was heard all over the Golden Woods as he called for the half-elf. There has to be something that can still be done. There has to be. Lord Elrond was a powerful healer. He brought back Glorfindel from the dead. Surely he could bring Haldir back as well.
Glorfindel rushed to the door, intent on finding the elf lord. He had not wanted to leave Haldir, but with Elrond, he might be able to bring his lover back. He had to act quickly. There was no time to think. He could not afford to think. Even as he ran, he could feel the cold dread of losing Haldir. The pain welled up inside him, but he pushed it down. He would not think like that. Haldir could still be saved. Lord Elrond could surely cure him. All Glorfindel have to do was to find the half-elf.
But just as he was about to leave the talan, a bitter coldness enveloped his heart. He froze. Just then, he knew. Slowly, he turned to look where Haldir lay.
"Haldir…" He whispered, afraid.
He moved closer, slowly, and he could feel the coldness spreading throughout his being. It was then he knew.
Haldir had reached Mandos.
The Elladan and Haldir's brothers reached Haldir's talan just as Elrond, Erestor, Ecthelion and Celeborn did. They all rushed inside, the urgency in Glorfindel's voice alerting them that something was terribly wrong. The sight that met them stopped them in their tracks.
Glorfindel was on the bed, clutching Haldir's lifeless body. The eldar was crying, tears running down his cheeks.
Glorfindel was shaking his head, saying the words over and over.
/This is not happening! Please, oh please no! No!/
"Haldir! Haldir please!!"
He raised tearful eyes to the heavens, holding on to his lover.
"Damn you! You cannot do this! You cannot take him away!"
He cursed the heavens.
/Why? We are happy now! Why!?/
"I am not going to let him go! Do you hear me? You cannot have him!"
He continued to hold on to Haldir as the others approached. He buried his face in his lover's neck.
"I am not letting go." He sobbed.
"Do you hear me? I am not letting go."
As the words left his lips, his eyes caught the other elves standing by the door. When he saw Elrond, he looked at the elf lord pleadingly.
"Please, bring him back."
Elrond cautiously approached where Haldir lay.
"What happened?" He asked even as he reached for the March Warden.
"They took him away." Was Glorfindel's only reply. "Please, I'll do anything."
Elrond's heart went out to his long time friend. But surely it was not as bad as it seemed. Haldir was recovering quite well. As his hands touched Haldir though, Elrond's heart grew cold with dread.
Haldir felt extremely cold to the touch. As Elrond examined further, his worst fears were confirmed.
Haldir was dead.
Rumil had grown almost hysterical, unbelieving that Haldir was gone. Orophin was eerily quiet. He had taken Rumil outside, where he was able to calm his brother down. Orophin held Rumil, who sobbed against him. Orophin found he could not cry.
He had no idea what to feel. He looked down at his younger brother, who was sobbing against his chest.
Death was a foreign concept to elves, as they were immortal. But the war against Sauron had shown them that they were not invincible, that they could die. But Orophin was not prepared for this. He was prepared to lose Haldir in battle. But not like this.
Erestor sighed and glanced up Haldir's talan. They had left it earlier, following the March Warden's brothers. Elrond had done everything he could. Yet Haldir did not come back. It was heart-wrenching to watch, as Elrond tried even though he knew it was already in vain.
The March Warden has already reached Mandos' Halls. There was nothing that could be done.
Elrond had even tried to do what he had done for Glorfindel, but to no avail. He had not the strength, nor possess the power anymore.
Elrond had finally given up, exhausted he could barely stand. Erestor had assisted him as they left Glorfindel with Haldir, to allow the lovers some privacy. When they had left, Glorfindel was holding on to Haldir.
Erestor knew that no force on this earth would make his friend leave Haldir's side.
Not even death.
He shivered slightly, remembering his own death.
/Where are you, Haldir? Oh Valar, why did this happen?/
The Valar sometimes worked in mysterious ways.
But sometimes, sometimes, it hurt too much.
"Glorfindel, you have to let go."
Glorfindel shook his head.
/No! I am not letting go./
"No! Go away!" He hissed at the voice. He and Haldir were staying together forever.
Erestor sighed. It has been a day and a half since Haldir had…gone. They had been trying to get Glorfindel to let him go, so that the March Warden could be given a proper burial.
The advisor closed his eyes. It still hurt to think that Haldir was gone now.
"Glorfindel, he will always be with you." He assured his friend, tears choking him.
Glorfindel clutched Haldir tighter. He turned tearful eyes at Erestor.
"Why?" He asked in a tortured voice. "Why are they doing this to me? Was it because I hurt him? Because I am truly sorry…truly sorry that I hurt him! I…I will never hurt him again, I promise. I promise." Glorfindel kept repeating those words, whispering it to Haldir, to the Valar, to whoever would listen. Erestor's eyes misted as he watched Glorfindel in so much pain it broke his own heart.
He sat down on the bed and hugged the seneschal, who continued to hold Haldir.
"Why, Erestor? Why do they do this to me? What have I done that was so wrong?"
Erestor had no answer.
Glorfindel continued to clutch his lover to him.
/Why? Why did they take you?/
/You should not be dead. Not yet. You cannot die. You cannot./
It wasn't fair. Why was Haldir the one who had died? It should be him…Glorfindel.
/I was the one who made the mistakes! You should have taken me! He did not deserve this!/
/He should be alive right now. He should be!/
/Haldir…Haldir, I am sorry. I did not know…I…please forgive me. Please forgive me./
"I am sorry." Glorfindel whispered again.
Rumil and Orophin came by to visit. They did not ask Glorfindel to let go. They understood that he could not. If they had any doubts that the seneschal had loved their brother, there were none now. No one else but someone who had lost his only love could possibly suffer the way Glorfindel was suffering.
They could not bear to stay for long, though. They left, going of to a place where they could mourn on their own.
Elladan and Elrohir also came by. Ecthelion had volunteered to watch Rhyden for a while.
Then Celeborn. Elrond. Erestor.
All of them came. But Glorfindel was not aware of them.
He was with Haldir.
No one else.
Just him…and his beloved. Together.
They were together.
Ecthelion sat quietly, watching Rhyden eat. But his mind was not on the captive elf. It was on Glorfindel.
He could not bear to see the seneschal like this. It hurt him greatly that Glorfindel was suffering. He did not know why the Valars had taken Haldir away.
/They were happy./
He had seen them together, and he knew that the two belonged to each other.
/Glorfindel will follow…/
His heart wrenched painfully at the thought. But he knew that it was inevitable. There was no way on Arda that the Gondolin warrior's heart would not break…has not broken.
Ecthelion closed his eyes briefly, wondering if he too, would follow Glorfindel.
There was a great possibility to that.
It was sunset when Ecthelion left a drug-induced slumbering Rhyden to join the others for dinner, of which no one really cared for.
Food was prepared, but appetites were absent.
They sat quietly around the table. No one said a word. There were none to be said.
"Glorfindel!" Erestor exclaimed suddenly.
All eyes turned to where the advisor was looking…to Glorfindel who was coming down the talan, undressed as he did not bother to put on clothes, carrying Haldir's lifeless body. No one really noticed the two elves' lack of clothing. All were held immobile by the despair that gripped Glorfindel.
Tears still stained the seneschal's cheeks, but he was no longer crying. He had a determined look in his eyes. Determination brought about by the pain of lost love.
The seneschal looked at them.
"I have to take him to Lover's Cove." He whispered, as if his words would explain everything.
"Why?" Elrond asked carefully. Glorfindel was acting very strange. They had been worried about him for some time now. They wanted to make sure the seneschal would not try to do anything drastic in his suffering.
"It's…it's his safe place." Glorfindel replied softly. He looked lovingly at Haldir. "I want him to be safe."
The others knew then that Glorfindel was going to let go of Haldir.
It must have been a difficult decision to make. They could see it in the eldar's eyes. His suffering, his pain.
It also meant something else.
The eldar was ready to follow.
Erestor swallowed the constriction clogging his throat. This was goodbye then. He did not try to stop Glorfindel.
No one did. Because they knew it was futile.
Ecthelion wanted to. He wanted to shake Glorfindel, tell him he should stay alive, that Haldir would want that. But it would be the same as sentencing the seneschal to a life of suffering, always waiting for the time when he could rejoin Haldir once again.
So Ecthelion stood back, with everyone, as Glorfindel proceeded to the cove.
Glorfindel looked around the cove, noting that the stars had come out already. He knelt down the grass.
"We are here, love. You are safe now."
/Safer than I could keep you./
Gently, he placed Haldir's body on the ground, and stretched out beside his lover. He placed his head on Haldir's shoulder, looking up to watch Haldir's face.
The younger elf looked peaceful, as if he were only sleeping.
"Where are you now, my love? Are you waiting for me?"
/I hope so. Please wait for me. I am coming. Wait for me./
He closed his eyes as a sob surfaced.
He leaned on one elbow and bestowed a gentle kiss on Haldir's lips. His hand involuntarily coming up to stroke his lover's face.
"Wait for me." He whispered. A small tear escaped from his eyes, rolling down his chin, and falling on Haldir's cheek.
/I love you, Haldir./
Haldir glanced around him, realizing he was no longer in Lothlorien. When he saw Vairye, he was sure.
"I want to go back. You can't do this. I am happy now! I am not going to die. I don't want to die. I…" Haldir's breath hitched, his speech cut, and tears formed in his eyes.
/I am not going to leave Glorfindel./
His lover's name made his heart squeeze painfully. His resolve returned and he stood straighter. He looked the Valar in the eye.
"Take me back."
Vairye smiled at Haldir's brave words. Not many elves stood up to the Valar.
Haldir narrowed his eyes when he saw Vairye smile.
"You are going back, March Warden. We would not dream of keeping you here." She assured.
Haldir was taken aback.
/Why am I here then?/
"It was…necessary." Vairye seemed to choose her words very carefully. "There was…something that we needed to do."
Haldir was puzzled, growing curious. Then he remembered Glorfindel.
/He must be worried! What if…/
He had dreamt it once. He died, and Glorfindel followed.
"Rest assured, Haldir. We would not do that to you." Vairye laughed slightly. Even elves seemed irrational at times.
"When will I get back?" He wanted to return as soon as possible.
"When all is finished, and you are prepared."
/Prepared? Prepared for what?/
"All questions will be answered soon, Haldir. Be patient.
Haldir paced, growing impatient with each passing moment. He had no idea what was going on in Middle Earth, and Vairye had been gone for a while. He was all alone in the whiteness of…wherever he was.
"What is taking so long?" He asked no one in particular. He was worried about what the others might be thinking. Glorfindel would probably be worried out of his mind by now.
No one answered, and Haldir continued to pace.
Haldir was at the end of his patience. What was taking so long?
/What am I being prepared for? What could take so much time to prepare for?/
"I am sorry to keep you waiting." Vairye said as she walked towards Haldir. "The…decision took longer than was anticipated. We needed it to be unanimous and some were a little difficult to convince." She explained, though it only confused Haldir all the more.
"Decision? What decision?"
Vairye smiled at him, one of those smiles that told him she was not going to answer his question.
"Soon, Haldir, you will know."
Before he could ask anymore, he felt the ground beneath him disappear, and he began to fall.
He could feel the moment he returned. He was enveloped by a warmth that welcomed him.
Slowly, everything came into focus.
A bitter taste was in his mouth. He realized it must be because of his leaving. It tasted of death.
Haldir could smell the air around him, the fragrance of flowers growing nearby, the grass…he wondered where he was. The last he remembered was being in bed with Glorfindel.
Someone was holding him close, gently. He felt loved. Something wet fell on his cheeks. Rain? A forehead was rested against his.
He could hear whispering, somewhere above him. Whispers of loving words…
"... I love you so much."
He opened his eyes, and saw his beloved...in so much despair.
"I love you, Haldir." Glorfindel whispered, before closing his eyes and leaning his forehead against Haldir's.
"I love you so much…"
His voice wavered, his emotions making his throat raw.
/Wait for me. I will come to you, Haldir. Beloved Haldir. I love you…/
"I love you too."
Glorfindel was in so much pain, and the voice was so soft, he almost didn't hear it…
But when he did…
His eyes opened abruptly. Glorfindel found himself staring deep into the March Warden's eyes.
The world stilled as the lovers gazed at each other. No words were said. Glorfindel held his breath, afraid that if he made a move, or a sound, this dream will end.
Could it be…Can Haldir really have returned?
Glorfindel was afraid to believe…to hope.
Perhaps he had died with his lover, and they were finally together…
Yet they were still in lover's cove…there was still the pain lingering…
The seneschal was unsure…frightened…
But when Haldir smiled at him, a smile that brought the sun in his lover's eyes, time started once again.
"How…But…" Words were difficult to come by, and Glorfindel found he could not form a coherent thought.
Tentatively, he reached out a hand to touch Haldir's face. Slowly, afraid that if he hurried, Haldir would disappear before his very eyes.
His fingers touched his lover's cheek, and he could feel the warmth radiating from the younger elf. When Haldir leaned into the touch, Glorfindel's mind finally allowed him to comprehend and accept that Haldir had been returned to him.
Glorfindel's reaction was automatic. He clutched Haldir to him, still fearing that his love would be taken away.
"Haldir." He kept saying the March Warden's name over and over, making this real, more concrete.
Haldir clutched Glorfindel just as tightly. Though he knew that his lover probably could not hear him, Haldir spoke to Glorfindel softly, reassuring his lover that he has returned.
"Glorfindel, I am here. I am here, love. Everything will be all right now. Don't cry. Please don't cry."
But Glorfindel could not stop crying. He stopped saying Haldir's name because his throat became too constricted, but he did not let go. He continued to hold on to Haldir as if the younger elf was the only thing keeping him sane on this earth.
Haldir could feel the depth of his lover's pain, and he felt remorse at having somehow caused it. He had not meant to, but that did not change the fact that right now, Glorfindel was in heartbreaking agony, and Haldir did not know how to stop it.
"Glorfindel, it's going to be all right. I am here now." So he continued to talk to the eldar, not knowing what else to do.
The two lovers held each other tight, lost in a haze of pain, suffering, relief, happiness all mingled and confused, so that they do not know which emotion they felt.
Slowly, they drifted back to Middle Earth.
Glorfindel was afraid to let go, but a part of him realized he was crushing his lover. Though he did not want them to part yet, he knew he needed to move. But when he tried to, Haldir's arms tightened around him.
He kept his tight hold around Haldir as well, his face buried against his lover's neck. He was afraid to raise himself, to look at Haldir and find out that this was not real.
"I am here, Glorfindel."
Haldir's words opened a dam and the tears came back. The March Warden's arms tightened around him as he sobbed. His lover whispered soothing words to him as the aftermath of everything that happened came crashing.
Haldir was really here.
"Don't do that to me again. Please. Don't ever do that again. I promise never to hurt you again, or push you away, or-"
"Glorfindel," Haldir gently interrupted his lover. He smiled at the seneschal, assuring him.
Glorfindel sobbed, and hugged Haldir close. "Oh Valar, I love you so much, Haldir!"
He was never going to let anything part them ever again. They had parted one too many times already.
It took a while before Glorfindel calmed down enough that Haldir was able to convince him that he would not disappear if the seneschal were to let go, just so they could lie in a more comfortable position. As soon as they settled, Glorfindel's arms closed around Haldir once again. The March Warden sighed.
"We should tell the others." He whispered to Glorfindel. They really should.
"I know." But the seneschal made no move to get up.
"It's alright. We know." Haldir and Glorfindel started at Erestor's voice. They turned to look, and saw that everyone was there. The other elves were a little teary eyed. The two did not know how long the others had been there. Haldir could feel himself blushing.
"We were worried about Glorfindel…so we followed after you were gone a while." Elrond supplied, as everyone seemed to suddenly realize the situation they were in and grew silent.
Haldir's blush grew deeper.
Glorfindel only smiled.
It was a difficult situation. There was awkwardness, but the tangible relief and happiness that Haldir was alive mixed with all other emotions radiating off the elves.
After a few more seconds of awkwardness, the others turned and left.
Erestor could sense the extreme happiness in Rumil and Orophin. All of them had been stunned when they heard Haldir's voice, none could believe it was really his, until they had ran towards the entrance of the cove and saw for themselves that it was really him, alive. Erestor knew it had taken great effort not to rush towards the March Warden, especially for Haldir's brothers. If it had not been for the delicate situation, they probably would have.
The advisor admired Haldir's brothers. Even though they had recently been in enormous pain, and would have liked to stay with their brother, the two had instead allowed Haldir and Glorfindel to be together on their own.
But for Orophin and Rumil, it was not a very difficult decision. They knew that now more than ever, Haldir needed to be with Glorfindel.
They were silent on the way back. Both still had tears rolling down their cheeks. But everyone knew they were tears of relief and happiness.
Haldir was alive.
"We should go back." Haldir whispered to his lover. They had been in the cove for hours. His brothers had been kind enough to bring them some sheets to use as bed and cover, as well as a few pillows. But Haldir still thought it a good idea to go back to the talan.
"I know." Glorfindel whispered. But he was reluctant to leave. Haldir had been back for a few hours now. Yet fear still lingered within the seneschal. What if the magic was only brought by Lover's Cove?
Haldir sighed when Glorfindel made no move to get up. He started to, but Glorfindel held him back. When he looked in his lover's eyes, it was only then that Haldir realized Glorfindel was still afraid.
The seneschal looked away.
Haldir turned his lover's face back to him. Then he took the other's hand and placed it against his heart.
Glorfindel could feel the steady, strong rhythm of Haldir's heart.
He looked at Haldir. His lover smiled at him.
Haldir was reassuring him, letting Glorfindel know that he was really there.
Glorfindel closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.
He opened them, and then stood up.
Offering a hand to Haldir, he smiled at the sparkle in his lover's eye.
"Let's go then." He said.
Haldir smiled and took Glorfindel's offered hand.
As they walked back in silence, Haldir could feel that Glorfindel was still tense. The seneschal was gripping his hand very tightly.
He squeezed the hand holding him gently.
It was all the reassurance he needed.
They continued on their way back to their talan.
Together. They were finally together.
This time, it would remain that way.
(except for the epilogue)
A/N: Too much crying here for my taste …but I had no idea how to do it. Ehehe.