"Haldir!" Elrond called the elf as he hurried up the stairs of the healer tree.
"Lord Elrond," Haldir exclaimed, glancing over his shoulder to see if anybody else was coming, "What are you doing here? You shouldn't have come!" he exclaimed. Again looking over the elf's shoulders, sure that Lorwen would be rushing up behind him.
"Peace Haldir" Elrond replied and forced a sad smile. "I didn't tell her."
"She will not question where you are?" Haldir asked, relaxing his shoulders slightly, even though he hadn't noticed he had tensed them.
"Business" Elrond replied, looking passed the blonde elf to the closed curtain behind him. "Where is he? How bad is it?"
"In there" Haldir sighed as he turned and pointed at the curtain. "Methien is with him, he hasn't awoken yet."
"And Orophin?" Elrond then asked, noticing the youngest brother wasn't here.
"Resting" Haldir replied, "he's been up since we got back… He was exhausted."
"And you?" Elrond asked, looking at Haldir's face.
"More worried than tired" came the reply.
"Why don't you go rest while I check on him?" Elrond suggested, placing his hand on the elf's shoulder and squeezed it slightly. "There's no use in pacing in front of his room. When I know more, I'll come and find you."
Haldir nodded mutely and turned to descend the stairs, but then he turned to see Elrond headed towards the curtain.
"Lord Elrond?" he then asked, waiting until the dark haired elf turned to face him again and took a few steps towards him. "How… Was Lorwen alright when you left?"
"Pulling pranks like one of my own" Elrond smirked, trying to lighten the March Warden's mood and then remembered the letter she had written him and pulled it from his pocket.
"What?" Haldir asked, slightly upset, noticing the folded paper. "She promised me to be good! No more pranks!"
"Here, she wrote you this" he said as he handed him her letter. "She will be fine Haldir" Elrond smiled as he looked at the front of it. "I think she rather learns than to pull pranks."
"Learns?" he asked, putting it away for the moment.
"Erestor has given her, her first Accountancy lesson" Elrond replied. "I think they both enjoyed it to the fullest."
"She's been asking Rowyn for years to follow his lessons" Haldir sighed lowering his gaze briefly. "He refuses every time."
"Should we not have?" Elrond asked, feeling slightly guilty.
"An elfling that wants to learn as badly as she does?" Haldir asked, a small smile forming on his lips. "She would only learn it herself" he added, "as she did with Archery and Fencing" he smiled.
"If you want, I will tell Erestor to stop" Elrond offered. "But I'm afraid he's just as fond of teaching her as she is of learning."
"No, please. If he doesn't mind, let him. I'm sure she'll love it" Haldir smiled, be it a tired smile.
"Go get some rest" Elrond suggested again, "I'll come and find you as soon as I know something" he added.
"Thank you Elrond" Haldir sighed. "For coming here, taking care of Lorwen, for everything."
"You're welcome" he smiled. "Go, rest!" he then urged him and before he had gone out of sight he entered the talan.
While Haldir made his way to his talan, he pulled out the letter he had just gotten from Elrond and looked at the word "Adar" that was written on the front and felt his heart sink.
For the first time in more than fifteen years he was home, and she was not. He missed her, even though it wasn't the first time he missed her, but this was different.
She had written him letters before, while he was on patrol and he had kept them all. But again, this was different.
He was home and she was not.
As he entered the empty talan he realized why Rumil had been so afraid to go home. Especially after the horrible accident with the deer hunt. Looking at the letter again, Haldir mentally had to tell himself that she was in fact alright. Merely on the other side of the mountains, having fun. Learning!
Sighing deeply he moved to his room, sat down on the bed, placed the letter carefully on the nightstand and stared at the word on the front again before laying himself down and closed his eyes. It only took minutes before his eyes opened again and glazed over as he fell asleep.
"How is he?" Elrond asked softly as he walked towards the elevated bed that held an unconscious Rumil and glanced at him. Covered by sheet from his feet to his waist, his chest bare and the bandage on his side clearly visible and already crimson stained. His complexion had turned slightly pale, his lips grayish, although some dried blood still clung to the corner and his eyes closed.
"We've mended the wounds" Methien sighed as Elrond slowly felt his forehead. "But he is not waking" she added. "And a fever" she added as she noticed the frown on Elrond's face, "as you can feel".
"The lung was injured?" he then asked, looking at the bandage.
"Yes, it collapsed" the female healer replied, slowly releasing the bandage to show the injury to the elf lord. "We managed to re-inflate it, hence the extra cut" she added when the ragged wound came in view and a second one above it.
"Hmmm" Elrond mused, his hand sliding down to Rumil's wrist to feel his pulse.
"Strong pulse" Methien stated quickly, "there really is no telling why he doesn't wake up" she added. "He lost some blood, hence his complexion, but not enough to…"
"I take it you have checked his head for injuries?" Elrond then asked, hesitating before he felt it himself.
"No cuts, bruises or bumps. Just the stab wound."
"We found no trace of it on the knife…"
"Hmm" Elrond mused again and moved to check Rumil's pupils. "So there is nothing we can do but wait."
"I'm sorry you traveled all the way up here for nothing Lord Elrond" Methien sighed. "There is nothing we can do."
"So it would seem" Elrond sighed as he stretched his back. "No other injuries but this?" he then asked again, pointing at the bandage that Methien now replaced by a bright white one.
"Then let's give him his rest" Elrond mused after another deep sigh and motioned Methien to follow him outside.
"Lord Elrond?!" Orophin exclaimed as the two healers left the talan. "Is something wrong?" the younger brother asked and wanted to pass them by to go to his brother. "Is he alright?"
"Nothing has changed Orophin" Methien quickly said as she grabbed his elbow.
"Then…" he asked and looked at the elf lord, trying to figure out why he had come.
"You've only just left Rivendell" Elrond softly said to the younger elf. "I felt responsible for your safety after spending time as our guests" he added. "And I know how worried Lorwen would be if she knew."
"Has he… woken up?"
"No Orophin" Methien sighed. "But let him rest, I suggest you do the same, you look exhausted!"
"Where's Haldir?" Orophin then asked.
"I've sent him home" Elrond now replied. "To get some rest. There is nothing either of you can do. That either of us can do. Rumil has to rest, then he will wake up and with a little luck, he will have healed completely before Lorwen returns."
"You're sure he'll wake up?" Orophin asked, clearly afraid.
"Positive" Elrond smiled. "Now off to bed with you" he commanded as if he was speaking to his own ellons and much to his surprise the elf did as he asked without another word.
Days slowly passed while Haldir and Orophin waited anxiously for Rumil to wake up. Elrond had decided to stay a week, if nothing had changed by then, there was little else anybody could do, but wait a while longer. Sending a message by bird home each night, with news on Rumil's condition he hoped that his family would keep up appearance and keep from telling the little elleth what had happened to her favorite uncle.
"Lorwen?!" Celebrian shouted as she barged into the dark room of the elleth. "By the stars, what is wrong? Why do you cry?" she asked as she rushed towards the bed, sat down and wrapped her arms around the hysterically screaming elfling. "Did you have a bad dream?" she then asked, looking at the elleth while she clung to her.
"What's the matter?" Glorfindel asked from the doorway, closing his nightgown over his clothes. Erestor moved to stand besides him, clearly not having turned in for the night.
"Is she alright Naneth?" Elladan asked as he and his brother had silently come to stand besides their friend's bed.
"Lorwen?" Celebrian asked, pushing the elleth slightly back, sighing as she still continued to sob frantically.
"Uncle Rumil" she finally sobbed. "Somebody hurt him."
"What?" Celebrian asked, glancing back at the two adult elves in the doorway. "Who told you that?" she asked again as they both shook their heads.
"Nobody" Lorwen sobbed. "I can feel it!"
"It was just a dream pen neth" Celebrian sighed, cupping her cheek.
"No, it's not a dream!" Lorwen shouted. "I know he's been hurt, I can feel it!" she nearly screamed.
"There, there" Celebrian tried to soothe her, but to no avail, she started sobbing violently again. Sighing deeply she stood and walked towards the door to. Meanwhile Elladan and Elrohir crawled unto the bed and tried to comfort their friend.
"I promise you Celebrian, I did not tell her" Erestor quickly said as she came to stand besides them, glancing back at the bed.
"Neither did I" Glorfindel quickly added.
"And Elladan nor Elrohir know of it…" Celebrian mused, "can she really have felt it?"
"He is her uncle… She loves him dearly" Glorfindel replied.
"But can she feel his pain over such a distance?" Celebrian asked, turning her head towards them again, searching their faces for an answer.
"It is written" Erestor then started, "that twins can feel each other's pain over great distances…"
"They aren't twins… They're not even related by blood!" Glorfindel exclaimed.
"A bond isn't necessarily made by blood" Erestor replied with a growl, looking at the blonde elf besides him. "It can also be made by love" he added more softly as he looked at the elleth again.
"I want to go home!" Lorwen then shouted. "Please let me go home" she whined softer afterwards.
"Whether she feels it or not" Erestor sighed, "she's not going to be persuaded otherwise until she sees him."
"We can't let her go home" Celebrian hissed. "Rumil himself asked not to tell her!"
"If he dies" Erestor hissed back, "will you be the one who told her she couldn't go home? The one that forbade her not to say goodbye?"
"Erestor!" Glorfindel now hissed at him. "It's not her fault either."
"I know that" he replied undignified. "I just…" he sighed and never finished his sentence.
"I want my ada" Lorwen then sobbed, burying her head in the pillows while Elladan and Elrohir still tried to comfort her and caressed her back.
"If she wants to go home…" Glorfindel then sighed, "we can't stop her… You know how stubborn she is… she might leave on her own and the Valar only know where she'll end up."
"In the morning I'll take her home to Lorien myself" Celebrian sighed, noticing the elleth had heard it, but still she continued to cry hysterically.
"I want to go home now!" she cried, barely audible for the pillows muffled her voice.
"Naneth, she wants to go now" Elladan desperately said. The poor ellon had no idea what he could do to help her and it weighed heavily on him.
"It's the middle of the night!" Glorfindel exclaimed.
"I'll take her" Erestor then softly said, looking at the scene in front of him.
"Have you gone mad?" Glorfindel muttered after a few seconds had passed. Both elves knew how fond Erestor was of traveling. The fact that he offered to bring Lorwen home, freely and in the middle of the night was no short of a miracle.
"I can be ready in five minutes" he then said determined, ignoring his friend's question and turned to face Celebrian. From the corners of his eyes he could see that Lorwen listened to the conversation diligently and sobs became less frequent.
"Erestor…" Celebrian sighed, turning her own attention to the dark haired elf besides her.
"Please?" Lorwen suddenly asked, standing besides them all of a sudden. "I promise I'll be good… Do everything Erestor says… I… I just want to go home" she sobbed again.
"You really want to do this?" Celebrian then asked, looking at Erestor again.
"Yes, I'm sure of it" he replied, giving a short nod along with his reply.
"Alright then" Celebrian sighed.
"Thank you!" Lorwen exclaimed and wrapped her arms around the elder elleth's waist.
"Don't thank me" Celebrian softly smiled as she patted Lorwen's shoulders, "thank Erestor."
"Thank you Erestor!" Lorwen then exclaimed, is it more softly and hesitated as she wanted to throw her arms around him, but then checked herself and fidgeted slightly.
"Go get dressed" he urged her and turned around to leave the room, "I'll be downstairs waiting for you."
"I'll send Naniel up to pack your things" Celebrian said as she left the room.
"Do you really feel that your uncle is hurt?" Glorfindel then asked softly as he kneeled in front of her so he could look her in the eyes.
Lorwen nodded mutely and tears appeared in her eyes again, a sob escaped. Glorfindel sighed deeply, looked at the floor briefly before lifting his head again and moved closer to the little one.
"Maybe it makes you feel better," he then whispered as he gently took her hands in his, looked at them briefly before looking up at her face, "to know that Lord Elrond has gone to see him. To make him better" he added even more soft. "Does it help?" he then asked, "even the slightest bit?"
"It does" she softly replied, nodded and forced a weak smile.
"Go get ready then" Glorfindel smiled and slowly pushed himself up again.
"Do you really want to go home?" Elrohir asked softly as she moved to the bed again. "Don't you want to stay here, with us?"
"Uncle…" Lorwen sighed, clearly torn between her uncle and her friends.
"Of course she wants to go to Rumil" Elladan angrily said. "She can come back afterwards" he added softer. "Won't you?" he softly asked.
"If he's better" Elrohir smiled, "then you'll come back to stay with us? You've only been here a few weeks! It's not fair!"
"If you still want me to come back" she whispered.
"Of course we do!" Elladan exclaimed. "Don't we Elrohir?" he then asked his brother who nodded vigorously.
After saying goodbye to her friend, Erestor wanted to lift her unto his horse, but she quickly proved she didn't need any help mounting.
"Figures" Erestor sighed and mounted behind her.
"Have a safe trip now, you hear" Celebrian quickly said, worry in her voice. "Let us know the moment you've arrived. And do keep us posted on Rumil's condition."
"We will" Erestor replied, took the reigns from Glorfindel and with a short nod he thanked him for them.
"And do tell Elrond to be careful" Celebrian sighed.
"He will" Erestor replied again. "Are you ready?" he then asked Lorwen.
"Yes" she softly replied.
"Alright then, here we go" he replied and urged the horse forward. "I am not fond of sleeping outdoors" he said after they had left Rivendell behind them and headed towards the mountains on a rather fast pace. "If you are tired and want to sleep, you can do so. But I'm not stopping to make camp. I hope you can understand? I have my reasons, of which I will not elaborate" he added as strict as he could.
"I understand" Lorwen softly replied, only now did she understand why Elladan and Elrohir found him so unpleasant. Believing them when they said he just didn't like elflings at all she sighed deeply. "I do not wish to stop either… I want to be home… I have to see Rumil" she softly added.
"Good" he replied. "Rumil will be fine" he then said several minutes later, after contemplating with himself for all that time if he should try to make her feel somewhat better.
"He's not" Lorwen whispered.
"How can you tell? Can you feel his pain?"
"No… I… I can't explain" she sighed. "It's like… If you close your eyes and think of your loved ones" she tried, "you can see their faces, you can see them in front of you?"
"That are memories Lorwen" Erestor replied.
"But Rumil's memory is fading" she sighed and a sob escaped her lips.
"Come now, be strong" he sternly hushed her. "Big elleth's like yourself don't cry!"
"They don't?" she asked, quickly wiping her tears away.
"You don't know many elleths do you?" he sighed.
"No… they all seem… silly to me" she replied. "They really don't cry?"
"Well, they do actually" Erestor sighed. "A lot. You don't want to seem like one of them, don't you? Elleths like that don't like Accountancy" he whispered and a smile pulled on his lips. "Or Fencing nor Archery…"
"Then no!" she resolutely said and wiped angrily over her cheeks. "I don't want to be like them!"
"Good" he smiled. "Crisis averted" he thought and sighed relieved. He already was riding a horse, in the middle of the night. Towards Lorien. A trip that would take them several days and he really loathed having to sleep in the outdoors. He really didn't need a crying elleth in front of him for the duration of the trip at all! "Valar, what am I doing?" he moaned silently as he continued riding into the darkness that was all around them.
"Are you Elrond's brother?" Lorwen then asked.
"What? No! Of course not!" Erestor exclaimed, caught off guard by her question.
"Then why do you live with them? Wouldn't you rather be with your family?"
"I am Elrond's advisor! I teach his sons! Where else would I live?"
"Does your family live in Rivendell? I've never seen them… Or heard about them…"
"I have no family" he grumbled.
"Nobody?" Lorwen asked, saddened by this news.
"Nobody" he replied, slightly angry that she had stirred up those memories in his heart and mind again and sighed. "I've been Elrond's advisor well before you were born."
"That's easy" Lorwen giggled, clearly missing her companion's inner struggle. "I'm only fifteen" she added. "Everybody's been where they are now since I was born" she giggled again. "You were even teaching Accountancy to Elladan and Elrohir before I was born" she smirked.
"Shouldn't you think about Rumil's injuries instead of giggling of my past?" he suddenly snapped and the moment the words rolled of his tongue he regretted them already and closed his eyes. Sighing deeply as she remained silent he suddenly felt a warm and wet drop land on his hand in front of her, followed by another and briefly reigned in the horse. For the briefest moment it almost felt like he hugged her. Softly squeezing her between his arms he lowered his head, until his cheek rested against the side of her head and whispered into her ear. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that. I have no more relatives or family left, Lorwen. I do not wish to speak of them, nor of my past. The past only holds hurt for me."
"I know ada isn't my real Adar" she softly said after being quiet for several minutes, much to Erestor's surprise. "Even though we have the same hair…" she added softly. "So I have no real relatives left either" she added again and glanced up at him.
"You have an Adar who loves you very much" Erestor replied after a brief moment of thought. "And uncles."
"They are my family" Lorwen replied with a sigh. "But not my relatives. Just like Elrond's is your family…"
"Does your adar know you know…"
"No" she replied. "I don't want him to know, that I know."
"So how did you find out?" Erestor asked, again after several minutes had fallen.
"Mydia threw it in my face once when I kept following them to play with the other elflings."
"Come on Mydia" Cáng sighed, "let her play with us" he pleaded as he looked at the two elleths who stood face to face.
"She's just a baby!" Mydia exclaimed.
"I am not! I'm 9! Babies are much younger!"
"Not by much" Mydia growled angrily, a wicked smile appeared as Lorwen cowered slightly and backed off.
"Leave her alone!" Cáng angrily said as he saw how Mydia raised her hand to hit the smaller elleth.
"She'll just follow us around all day long!" Mydia exclaimed. "I'm not babysitting her!"
"I'm not a baby!" Lorwen cried out again. "All I want to do is play" she softly added.
"Let her play with us" Garand then asked, joining his friend Cáng.
"No!" Mydia screamed out loud and threw such a tantrum that she turned completely red. "Let's go!" she then shouted as Lorwen had backed away even further. But as she turned around Cáng motioned her to follow anyway. "I told you to go away!" Mydia then angrily shouted as she noticed Lorwen followed them, turned to face the smaller elleth and pushed her with all her might.
Having not expected this, Lorwen fell on her behind and chafed the palms of her hands.
"I only want to play" Lorwen sobbed, looking at her hands that slowly started bleeding, then looked up at Mydia who stood in front of her.
"Are you going to cry? Baby?" she laughed.
"Leave her alone Mydia!" Cáng then angrily said, noticing his elder brother Carand had seen everything.
"All she wants to do is play with us," Taraldur sighed, "why can't you let her?"
"She has no brothers or sisters to play with, let her play with us?" Cáng asked, pleading with the elder elleth who still grinned at the one at her feet.
"She has no family anyway" she laughed derisively.
"I have to!" Lorwen exclaimed loudly. "I have an Adar! And he's a March Warden!"
"He's not your real adar!" Mydia quickly silenced her.
"He is too" Lorwen replied angrily, still sitting on the ground. Her hands now bleeding much harder. "And uncle Rumil and uncle Orophin!"
"They're not your uncles!" Mydia laughed out loud. "Haldir found you! Left behind in the forest. Because nobody wanted you!"
"You lie!" Lorwen shouted.
"Mydia…" Cáng sighed, they all knew of Lorwen's arrival in Lorien, but nobody had ever spoken about them to her face.
"Nobody wanted you when you got here! So Haldir HAD to take you in! He doesn't love you! He HATES you! Just like everybody else!"
"You lie!!" Lorwen now screamed, tears already streaming down her cheeks.
"Mydia! That's enough!" Cáng angrily shouted as the elder elleth opened her mouth again, wanting to say more. Grabbing her arm he pulled her with him, away from the now crying elleth on the ground, glancing at his brother again that now moved towards her.
"He does love me! They do!" she shouted at their retreating backs. "You lie! You lie!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. Wanting to burry her face in her hands she smeared her blood all over her face before she realized she couldn't use her hands and cried uncontrollably. She didn't even see the commiserating looks Cáng, Garand and Taraldur threw her.
"Lorwen?" Carand suddenly asked, squatting down besides her. "By the stars!" he then exclaimed, "you're bleeding!"
"It's just… my hands" she sobbed in between the words.
"Oh poor thing" he sighed as he gently held her hands and looked at the cuts. "Are you alright?"
"They hurt" she moaned softly, wanting to pull them back. "I want my ada" she then sobbed.
"Come, I'll take you to see Methien" he sighed as he lifted her off the ground, knowing Haldir was away for another two weeks at least. "You can stay with us until your adar comes back, if you wish" he offered softly. "I know Cáng would love that."
"I do have an adar, don't I?" she softly asked.
"Of course you do!" he exclaimed.
"So Mydia lied?" she softly asked again as he started to climb the stairs.
"Ai Lorwen" he sighed and gently placed her down on the wood and squatted in front of her. "Some parts of it were true" he sighed as he looked straight at her while she kept her gaze on the floor.
"But…" she asked, tears already flowing again.
"Nobody ever told you?" he softly asked, putting his hand on her shoulder.
"No" she shook her head slowly.
"Haldir, your adar found you. In the woods. Your Naneth had made sure no animal could reach you. She was on her way back to get you when… when she… died" he whispered, not knowing how to make this easier for her. Wanting to save her from the gruesome death her Naneth had faced. "Haldir found her, but there was nothing he could do for her. She asked him to take care of you" he softly pressed, squeezing her arms slightly.
"But Mydia said nobody wanted me" she softly replied.
"After Haldir brought you here, Galadriel tried to give you a new home. With a Naneth and an Adar. But you screamed like a piglet when you were separated from Haldir, wouldn't be with anybody but him" Carand smirked. "And Haldir just couldn't leave you in the hands of anybody else" he smiled when she finally looked at him. "He loves you as his daughter. He loves you!" he pressed with a serious tone. "Don't let anybody else tell you otherwise!"
After drying her tears he gently guided her up the stairs, towards Methien's talan to treat her hands. Just before she entered she turned around.
"So, I had a Naneth?" she asked, a smile covering her lips.
"Of course you do" he replied. "Everybody has to have a Naneth" he smiled and softly pushed her to go inside.
"Mydia is not your friend, isn't she?" Erestor asked, pulling her from her memories.
"No" Lorwen replied. "But then again," she smirked, "she is an elleth" she added and looked at Erestor. "And I don't like elleths" she smiled. "They cry too much" she smirked and looked in front of her again.
"See" he smiled, "I told you, you are stronger than them" he added.
For the remainder of the night they remained silent mostly and as dawn set in, Erestor found her asleep against his chest and sighed as he looked at the patches of fog that emerged from the trees. Halting the horse briefly he pulled the blanket from behind him and carefully wrapped it around the elleth.
Urging the horse on again, he carefully held the elfling between his arms, resting his cheek against the side of her head. Much to his surprise he enjoyed the hug, even though it was one-sided.
"Are we at the mountain yet?" Lorwen suddenly asked a few hours later, the fog had now been cleared by the summer sun and although it wasn't noon yet, it was getting quite warm.
"No, not yet" he replied, holding the horse back again. "Slept well?" he asked, pulling the blanket back, folded it and put it away again. All without dismounting.
"I dreamt of Rumil" she sighed.
"He'll be fine" he comforted her. "He has the best healers in all Middle-Earth!"
"Even the best healers on all of Arda couldn't save Naneth" she sighed.
"This is why I don't like to talk about my past" Erestor sighed after a few moments, not knowing what else to say. "You always wind up getting hurt again. The past is, what it is, the past. Think of today. Think of the future. Don't dwell in the past. Unless you are looking for hurt."
"I can't think of the future" she sighed. "I don't know what will happen then…"
"Then think of your next Accountancy lesson" he smirked softly.
"Which won't until I come back to Rivendell" Lorwen sighed. "Rowyn doesn't want to teach me… I'm too young!"
"I'll have a word with him, if you like" he smiled.
Orophin walked into the healing talan Rumil was in, finding Haldir leaning back in the rocking chair besides him. Silently he moves towards him and looked at Rumil's closed eyes, sighing deeply. Then he looked at his elder brother and noticed the piece of paper on his thigh.
Reaching for it he noticed Haldir's eyes were closed and frowned slightly. Slowly he picked up the paper and glanced at it, finding the word Adar written on the back and then turned it around. Glancing at Haldir again he started reading the letter.
"That letter is not addressed to you" Haldir remarked without moving.
"We should have told her" Orophin sighed, handing the paper back.
"And make her worry?" Haldir asked. "After what she's been through? She deserves to have a pleasant stay with her friends, don't you think?"
"I think she'll be upset once she finds out. And even more upset that we didn't tell her."
"I can not tell her this… Tell her Rumil is injured and might die, in a letter? Imagine how you would feel if you got news like that when you are far away from home?"
"If you think that is bad," Orophin sighed after a few seconds of silence and slowly turned towards the doorway, "think about what you will say to her if he does die" he sighed as he walked towards it. "That is the one letter I would never want to have to write, nor get" he added and before Haldir could reply he had already left the talan, leaving him to ponder his words.
"You think the bird has already arrived in Lorien?" Lorwen asked. It was well passed midnight again, still they rode onwards, now carefully descending the slopes of the mountain on a small path. The moon above lit their surroundings, making it fairly easy to see for the two elves who's eyes had long since adjusted to the darkness surrounding them.
"It should have, yes" Erestor replied, glancing at the moon to get an indication of time.
"Then ada knows I'm coming" she sighed.
"Isn't that a good thing?"
"If he had wanted me to come home, he would have asked" came the reply, followed by a deep sigh. "I'm scared Erestor" she then softly whispered. "I don't want Rumil to die."
"Oh pen neth" he sighed, "Rumil is strong. He won't die."
"I hope so" Lorwen sighed.
On the second evening, Erestor finally decided to make camp. Having ridden almost two days, with only brief stops had made him tired and everything now ached. The elleth in front of him had stopped asking questions since she woke up last morning and had asked how much longer.
He was slightly ashamed of the manner of replying this question. A growl had been kinder. As he made a fire, she silently unrolled the bedroll Naniel had given her. By the time the fire was lit and he sat down besides it, he saw she had already rolled up into a ball and was vast asleep, without even covering herself up.
After sighing deeply he moved round the fire, covered her with the blanket and returned to the other side, making himself as comfortable as possible. With his hand on the hilt of his sword he too finally fell asleep besides the crackling fire.
A few hours later, loud cry suddenly woke him and he quickly jumped up, sword in his hand to fend off whatever had stumbled upon them. When he couldn't see anything and the cries where now muffled moans he moaned sleepily and turned his head towards the elleth that was tossing on her bedroll. Sighing relieved he dropped the sword on his own roll and angrily took a few paces away from the fire.
"What am I doing here?" he asked himself angrily, pushing his hands against his sides, trying to calm his heartbeat down. Erestor was no man to handle conflicts with a sword, he rather talked his way out of such events… But there is no possible conversation that would work against an Orc or a Goblin, so he had to have a weapon. Even if he was no good at using it.
It had been almost fifty years since he had taken a trip somewhere. To Lorien even. And then he hadn't been alone. They had had tents! Cots to sleep on. Guards to keep watch! Now here he was, alone with an elleth of fifteen who was better at using his sword than he was. No tents. No shelter, luckily it wasn't raining. "Yet!" he thought and looked up at the sky, seeing not a single cloud.
Pulled from scolding himself by another whimper from Lorwen he turned around again and watched the elleth as she huddled beneath the blanket and seemed to make herself unseen in her dreams. Again he scolded himself and rushed towards her.
"Lorwen!" he shouted as he kneeled besides her, "wake up!" he added and shook her.
Waking up with a start she threw her arms around Erestor's neck and sobbed violently. Erestor didn't move, nor did he wrap his arms around her.
Once she realized where she was she quickly pulled back and stared at her hands on her lap.
"I'm sorry" she whispered and swallowed.
"You were having a nightmare" Erestor replied sternly and moved to the other side of the fire again.
"I… didn't mean to…"
"About Rumil?" he asked, ignoring what she said. Trying to ignore the entire hug all together.
"Is he… do you still feel him?" Erestor asked, looking at her through the flames.
"Still the same… I don't really feel him…I just know he's been hurt."
"Then what was it about?"
"Same as before… Something chases me down the forest… then I fall and… I end up between dozens of dead elves… I tried to hide, but it finds me…" she whispered and shivered.
"What finds you?"
"I don't know… I wake up before I see it… I don't want to know."
"And you've had this dream before?" Erestor asked, finding himself at ease as psychologist.
"For ever since I can remember."
"Always the same?"
"Exactly the same?"
"Sometimes I'm screaming adar's name…"
"Go back to sleep" Erestor sighed after a few moments of silence and laid down on his back himself. "We'll leave in a few hours. With a little luck we'll arrive in Lorien before dawn" he added and glanced at her as she laid herself down again. "I will wake you if you having nightmares again" he then softly whispered. It only took a short time before both elves fell asleep again.
It was still very early in the morning when they rode towards the healer's tree in the middle of Caras Galadhon. Having left shortly after midnight from their campsite, they had passed through the forest with being stopped at the guard posts. All the guards recognized the Head of Elrond's advisors and more so, they knew the elleth sitting in front of him.
Nothing ever remained a secret in Lorien. If one of theirs was killed, attacked or injured, news spread fast. So to most of them, it was no surprise to see the niece of the injured elf arrive in Lorien. Even if it was with the advisor of Rivendell.
Dismounting at the base of the tree, Erestor stretched his back briefly as he looked around.
"It's still early" he then mused as he looked around, seeing nothing but early-morning mist amongst the trees, instead of elves. "Why don't you go up and find Rumil?" he then advised her. "Set your mind at ease. I'll go in search of Lord Elrond and Haldir to inform them of our arrival" he added, looking around again.
Lorwen nodded mutely and quickly hurried towards the stairs, where she stopped after a few paces.
"Erestor?" she then called his name, making him turning back to face her with a slight frown. "Thank you" she whispered. "For everything."
"You're welcome, now get going!" he urged her, turning around again and walked away briskly, his gate only slowing down after a few paces as he realized he had nothing to be angry about anyway.
Sighing deeply at his own anger he started to climb the stairs towards where he remembered Haldir's talan to be. But after knocking, twice, he still got no answer and he felt annoyed, at least. Then he closed his eyes and sighed deeply as he remembered Elrond telling them Haldir had moved to a larger talan since he had taken Lorwen in.
Erestor himself hadn't been in Lorien since then and now had no idea where exactly Haldir's talan was. Cursing under his breath he decided to head towards the healer's tree again, maybe he'd meet somebody there who could show him the new talan of the March Warden.
"Orophin!" he shouted as he saw the elf climbing the stairs of the healing tree.
"Erestor? What are you doing here?" Orophin asked, descending the stairs again, towards the Rivendell elf.
"What do you think?" Erestor sighed, glancing up at the tree. "I'm not here to advice Lord Elrond" he added.
"Ah" Orophin sighed, lifting his chin slightly, then lowered it again. "So she's here?" he asked, rhetorically.
"She went upstairs, to see him" Erestor replied. "Surely Haldir has informed you we were coming?"
"No… he didn't" Orophin replied. "It isn't like him to forget such a thing" he then added. "How was he informed? I haven't seen a messenger…"
"Lady Celebrian has sent a bird, shortly after we left."
"There were no messages, I would have known!" Orophin exclaimed.
"So nobody knew we were coming?" Erestor mused.
"Would you think we would hide ourselves if we did? We would have met you at the borders… if not further!"
"In that case" Erestor anxiously said and looked back from where he had been looking for Haldir, "I was wondering…" Erestor he continued, stopping again briefly to looked around again before continuing. "I was looking for Haldir… He has moved since I last came here… I have no idea where I can find him now."
"Come" Orophin smiled and descended the last few steps of the stairs, "I'll show you" he added. "It will give her a few moments with Rumil, for I know Haldir will rush to her side the moment he hears of her arrival."
"Is there any change in his condition?" Erestor asked as he followed him.
"None" Orophin sighed. "His wound is healing nicely, but we have no idea why he doesn't wake up."
"Maybe he's waiting for the right moment…"
"You'll have to ask him, I'm afraid" Erestor replied.
Orophin knocked on the wooden door of the talan they stopped in front. Then he entered without waiting for a response or somebody to open the door.
"Haldir" Orophin called through the talan as there seemed to be nobody home.
"Has he woken up?" the blonde elf asked from in his bedroom and they could heard him move out of his bed.
"I haven't seen him yet" Orophin replied as he emerged from the bedroom and noticed the Rivendell elf. "Erestor?" he asked and frowned. "Is Lorwen alright?" he then immediately asked.
"She's here" Orophin replied before Erestor could and noticed the advisor glanced at him.
"Here?" Haldir asked.
"We didn't tell her" Erestor replied. "She woke up one night, throwing a tantrum that Rumil was hurt and she HAD to come home."
"A tantrum?" Haldir asked, frowning deeply as he moved to sit down. "You have to tell me," he sighed, "everything."
"I really should inform Lord Elrond that I'm here…" Erestor objected as he sat down.
"I'll go tell him" Orophin sighed, really wanting to hear what his niece had done to make the head of Elrond's advisors bring her all the way home. "You'd better tell me later" he mumbled as he left them behind.
Lorwen slowly walked towards the last talan Rumil could be in and stopped in the doorway. Finding Rumil on his back in the bed in the middle of the room, his head turned away from the door she hesitated.
Rumil had woken up earlier that morning, unable to move without incredible pain going through his entire chest he found he could only move his head from right to left and was now resting. Hearing somebody stepping into the doorway he slowly turned his head towards it and sighed deeply.
"You're here" he softly whispered and looked at the little elleth that stood in the doorway and noticed the tears in her eyes.
"Rumil" she whispered, taking a step towards her favorite uncle, "I can't believe you got hurt and wanted to keep it from me?" she added, suppressing a sob as she closed the distance between the door and the bed. "You could have died!" she softly exclaimed once she stood besides him.
"I didn't wanted to spoil your vacation" he whispered, speaking out loud caused him more pain than he had imagined.
"You would have spoiled my homecoming with a funeral? I would never ever have left here ever again, if you had died" she softly cried. "Please don't die Rumil" she then pleaded, taking his hand between both hers and pressed a kiss on it. "Please?"
"With you here" he smiled. "How could I?"
"This is not a joke!" she exclaimed. "Please don't make fun of this!"
"I won't" he replied and suppressed a cough. "It hurts too much to make fun off."
"I'll get Methien" she quickly said and wanted to go and search the healer, but he refused to let go of her hand and pulled her back.
"Please, stay?" he implored her. "You're here now, stay with me?"
"I'll be alright" he smiled. "Please, tell me… How was you visit with the twins?"
"Short lived" she sighed as she sat down and started to tell what she had been doing and how she had had it in her stay with the Rivendell elves. Neither of them knew that Methien had come to stand in besides the doorway and watched the scene with a smile on her lips.
"Rumil! By the valar, you're awake!" Haldir suddenly shouted, startling both elves in the talan as he, Lord Elrond, Erestor and Orophin entered. For a moment he forgot the presence of his daughter.
"Only just" Rumil replied softly, laying back in the pillow as the bunch entered.
"You had us worried" Orophin sighed as he moved to the other side of the bed.
"Believe me, it was not my intent" he moaned.
"How do you feel?" Elrond asked.
"Shouldn't we let him rest?" Lorwen then asked softly, looking up at the grown ups around the bed.
"I think that's an excellent idea!" Methien then said, stepping through the second door to the room and headed towards the bed. "There are way too many elves in this talan" she exclaimed.
Haldir placed his hand on Lorwen's shoulder and squeezed it lightly, smiling down at her as she looked up at him.
"Can I please stay with uncle Rumil?" Lorwen asked softly.
"Don't you want to rest?" Haldir asked. "Erestor said you hardly slept since you left Rivendell."
"I'm not tired" she objected. "Please?" she then asked Methien. "I will look after him?"
"His own private little healer?" Methien asked with a smile as she nodded vigorously. "Well you don't have to ask me" Methien replied and looked at Haldir, who knitted his brow. "You have to ask your patient."
"Uncle?" Lorwen asked, completely ignoring to ask her father's consent.
"Are you sure you aren't to tired?" Rumil asked. "Promise me you'll rest when you are" he asked as she shook her head.
"I promise" she said.
"Haldir?" Rumil asked, turning his attention to his elder brother.
"I can't deny my wounded brother to have a healer watching over him" Haldir smiled and squeezed her shoulder again.
"Alright then it's settled" Methien smiled. "Now off you go, all of you. You just wait outside, I'll come and get you when I'm finished here" she then said to Lorwen who nodded and followed Haldir out of the room.
"Are you sure you want to sit with Rumil?" Orophin asked with a smirk on his lips. "You know how grumpy he can be when he has to stay in bed."
"Uncle!" Lorwen grumbled and hit his arm lightly. "I stayed with you when you broke your ancle, remember!" she added, pretending to be angry.
"You were only a year old then! I was babysitting you!" he exclaimed.
"Yes well, I didn't leave you behind, did I?" she replied a smirk pulling on her own lips.
"I'm sure" Haldir smiled, "that if you had been able to walk, you would have" he laughed. "Remember how grumpy you were then?" he asked his youngest brother.
"I broke my ankle, I couldn't get out of my bed and you stuffed me with a baby that cries all night long!"
"I couldn't help that!" Lorwen exclaimed.
Shortly after Lord Elrond, Erestor and Orophin descended the stairs, leaving Haldir and Lorwen behind.
"Erestor tells me you were very persistent in wanting to come home" Haldir said as he moved to sit down on the bench besides the door.
"I was, I'm sorry ada" she sighed and moved to sit besides him.
"Are you angry with me?" he softly asked, looking down at her.
"Angry? With you? No!" she exclaimed and shook her head. "Why should I be angry?"
"Because I didn't let you know that Rumil was injured."
"He didn't wanted you to tell me" she objected.
"How did you know he was injured?"
"Didn't Erestor tell you?"
"Yes, but I want to hear it from you."
Again Lorwen told how she had woken up and just knew that Rumil had been injured and Haldir listened to her story with amazement written on his face. Erestor had told him exactly the same, but he hadn't believed him. Now that she told him again, he had no other choice to believe him.
"Are you angry now?" she then asked softly as she found him staring at her with a deep frown on his brow.
"What?" he asked, pulled from his thoughts.
"I know I wasn't… quite as polite as I should have been… I wanted to come home. See if he was… dying" she whispered.
"For Erestor to bring you home. Alone. All the way to Lorien" Haldir smirked. "I can only imagine how convincing you were" he added. "But no, I'm not angry. Only with myself. I should have come and got you the moment I brought Rumil in."
"He asked you not to…"
"I shouldn't have listened. What if he had died? I'm glad you are here. Glad he's awake!"
"Your patient is ready for you now" Methien suddenly said as she pushed her head out of the door.
"Go on then" Haldir smiled as she hesitated and looked at him. "Oh and Lorwen" he called after her before she reached the door. "Do rest when you are feeling tired" he urged her.
"I will" she smiled, then she entered the talan.