This chapter took far too long, is too short and is not funny (or not deliberately anyway). I apologise for all these things. Massive writer's block. Imagination has drowned in chocolate.

Aussie881 – the line started as 'Elrond and his golden-haired queen', but I felt that was a) derogatory and b) somewhat unfair when applied to a legendary balrog-slayer.

Wanton Elfbanger – I tend to like a little smut with my plot, as opposed to the other way around. Favourites are 'The Old Ways', the 'Pilgrim' and 'Greenleaf and Imladris' series and of course 'Elanor's Revenge'.

About to hit the 300 mark!

I'm thinking of winding things up (for real this time). This story has definitely wandered far from what it was supposed to be. As I said, this chapter isn't funny. Somehow things got a bit serious.

'Part 22'

When Haldir appeared at the door to his brother's talan a short time later, he was wearing his Marchwarden's face. Which is to say that his expression was cold, hard and utterly unreadable.

"A word," he said curtly, eyes boring into Tulienne. "Now."

And he stalked out.

Tulienne rose, looking remarkably composed considering what she was faced with, and followed without a word.

Orophin let out a long, low whistle. "I am so glad I'm not her," he said.


"Shut the door."

Tulienne did so.

Haldir nodded sharply to a chair that he had placed in the middle of the floor. "Sit."

No wise elf would have disobeyed.

Haldir began to circle her.

"I put it to you," he said, "that you did deliberately and with dishonest intent inform one Legolas Thranduilion first that I was unattached and second that I would be amenable to being pursued by him in the manner of a courtship. And as if this were not enough, you also encouraged me to spend large amounts of time with him thus further encouraging him. Are you guilty, aye or nay?"

"I didn't . . . "

"Aye or nay!" Haldir snapped.

Tulienne shifted in her seat and folded her arms across her chest. "Aye," she said.

"I did not hear that."

"Aye," she said again, raising her voice.

Haldir acknowledged this with a nod. "What explanation have you for this?"

Tulienne slumped further down in her seat. "I wanted to know if anything would happen between you if I let it."


Tulienne raised her head to stare at him. "What do you mean, 'why?'?"

"I mean, 'why?'," Haldir repeated, his tone giving nothing away. "By your own admission, you have all but encouraged me to break my vows to you and I feel I have every right to know your motive."

"I wanted to know if you would leave me for him."

"What made you believe that I would?"

"Just let me ask one question . . . "

"I am asking the questions here."

"You'll get your answers when I get mine!" Tulienne flared, abandoning the chair and moving to within an inch of him. "Do you consider him beautiful, aye or nay?"

"Aye, I would not judge it a matter for debate."

"If I were not here, if we had never met, would you pursue him?"

Haldir paused. "It is a not a matter I had considered at all until fairly recently," he said. "I cannot give a sure answer. Perhaps I would entertain the idea."

"You will not give a clearer answer than that?"

"Nay, there would be too much to consider," Haldir told her. "Such relationships are not so common, nor so easily accepted in Lorien as they are in Rivendell or Mirkwood. And although I am aware of the innate duality of our kind, I do not know if I could overcome my doubts on the matter to that degree. And, as it is, Legolas must reside in Mirkwood most of the time while I am tied – by my own will – to Lorien. And I doubt very much if King Thranduil would approve. Such a coupling would have the odds stacked against it before it had ever begun."

"You seem to have given this much thought," Tulienne observed, biting her lip.

"Legolas has also asked this question of me and deserves an honest answer."

Tulienne looked at him, insecurity shining from her eyes. "So, does that mean you intend to turn his offer down?"

"Why is it that you ask me this question?"

"You're avoiding answering."

"Nay, I am not," Haldir said firmly. "This is part of the answer. You seem almost desirous that I declare I will break my oaths to you and court another. Is this your wish? For rest assured, if your heart is changed and you no longer wish to bind to me, I will release you without reproach or question."

"You would?" Tulienne whispered.

"Aye, I would. It is your right to ask and my duty to acquiesce. But even if it were not, I would still do so for I have no desire to share eternity with one who stands beside me only so as not to be an oath-breaker, nor would I desire such a life for you. If this is the motive behind your folly then I will not oppose you. Our vows are dissolved, you are free to go."

Tulienne looked utterly deflated. "And you, Haldir?" she asked softly. "Will you go to him?"

"Nay, I will not," Haldir said, equally softly. "For whatever place he has or might have in my heart is far eclipsed by the one reserved for you and I would not wish for him or anyone a life spent with one who loves another."

Tulienne gazed at him. "You mean that?"

"If I did not," Haldir said, somewhat stiffly, "I would not have said it."

"You still want to bind yourself to me, even though I'm a jealous fool?"

"If it was jealously that made you act thusly, then aye, you are a fool. But one I do not care to live without."

Tulienne looked at her feet. "Then I think I owe you an apology."

"I would give it to Legolas, for it is him who stands to be hurt by this."

"I will go to him now," Tulienne said. A shadow of her usual self passed across her face. "I then I will return, and apologise properly."

Haldir smiled to himself as she walked out.

There were some things no Mirkwood dessert could compete with.