A/N: This is a revised version of the previous story posted under this title. I have changed some things to hopefully make it better. Many thanks to the writers at Garden of Ithilien for their help!
BIG BOLD AUTHOR's NOTE: This story is not about Faramir, Denethor's son. I changed Willow's mother's name from Gilraen to prevent confusion, but I could not change her father's name as it is a plot point later on. The Faramir of the story is an AU/OC of my own creation.
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Sauron fell to the Last Alliance, but his shadow was not purged from the world, where the irreversible consequences of Morgoth's descent to evil still lingered. The darkness stayed in the pits of Mordor, in the shadowy fastnesses of Mirkwood-- and in the heart of Lothlorien.
Lorwen the Fair was the younger daughter of Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn. She had a merry heart, and a lovely laugh. Her beauty lacked the majesty of her mother and sister, but she was pretty, with shining golden hair and sparkling blue eyes that held the light of Beleriand, the land of her birth. Even among the golden woods of Lorien, she missed it, recalling the days of her childhood.
When Sauron's shadow fell upon Middle-earth after the destruction of Numenor, a fear stole upon Lorwen's heart of darkness inescapable. She had seen Beleriand broken and sunk, and she feared the same for Middle-earth; and it seemed to her, in her despair, that the lingering evil of Morgoth and his servants would overwhelm the world, defeating even the Valar on their thrones. She dreaded, and sickened, as the Last Alliance marched to war. In vain did Lady Galadriel care for her; her daughter lay at death's door, unable to escape the vision of all things brought to darkness.
But Sauron was defeated. Tidings of the great, costly victory traveled swiftly, even on the very wind, to Lothlorien, and ere the reduced ranks of warriors returned, Lorwen had healed in body, and somewhat in heart. But she still feared the Shadow, and her laughter was heard more rarely.
Time passed slowly in the land of the Dreamflower. Lorwen grew lonely, for her beloved sister Celebrian had gone to Imladris to wed Lord Elrond. Celebrian and Lorwen visited each other, and Lorwen was present at the birth of her nephews and niece, but their previous intimacy had passed away. And then Celebrian was attacked by orcs, and left the shores of Middle-earth forever.
Lorwen took to wandering the forests of Lothlorien alone. She never laughed, and rarely smiled, and though many elf lords, attracted by her beauty or wishing to ease her sadness, asked for her hand in marriage, she refused them all. No longer called the Fair, she became known as the Shadow, for in her fear of darkness the light in her eyes died. A veil fell over her beauty. Her parents watched, helpless, for four hundred and ninety years as their daughter wasted away. Lady Galadriel wanted to send her to Valinor, though she herself might never come there, but Lorwen would not go. Even Valinor had been forever marred by evil, and Lorwen could not see how Eru would turn all discordance to his melodies. And Celeborn had foreseen a different fate for his daughter.
One day when her wanderings brought her to the western edge of Lorien, she met a Dunadan coming down from the mountains after battle with orcs. He was weary and wounded, but he forgot his cares when he saw Lorwen. He did not think her under a shadow, but saw only that she was sad, and knew that she should not be. By the time she brought him to Caras Galadhon that evening to be fed and cared for, he had done what no one else had been able to do for nearly five hundred years: he had made her laugh.
Lorwen fell in love with the mortal. He was slow to permit himself to return her favor, for his sight was not veiled and he knew they could never marry. But her love for him restored her heart, and she was once more the laughing golden woman of her youth. Then he rejoiced to see her happy, and told himself he felt only joy, nothing more. He deceived himself, and knew it, but would not admit any stronger feelings for the Lady Lorwen. If Aragorn, lord of the Dunedain and heir to the thrones of Anarion and Gondor, was not permitted to wed the Lady Evenstar, what hope had he?
The Ranger, Faramir, stayed in Caras Galadhon even after his wounds healed, telling himself it would be poor gratitude in return for the elves' kindness to leave them so soon. He hid his feelings for Lorwen well; indeed, he concealed his love from the lady in question so well that she grew sad again, and he grieved to see it. But Lady Galadriel could discern the hearts of men, and she knew very well all that stood between Lorwen and Faramir. She told her husband, and the two of them talked into the long hours of the early morning; and even Lady Galadriel could not help shedding tears at the turning of the world. Celeborn comforted her, and the next day, sought out Faramir.
Though it was very early, the Ranger was gathering his belongings, preparing to leave. "You are returning to your people, Faramir?" asked the elf lord, startling the man. He should have heard his host's approach, but he had been deep in sad thought.
The Ranger inclined my head. "Yes, my lord."
Celeborn took a seat and watched Faramir neatly folding his clothes. The man did not have many things to pack, and soon the rough brown satchel was closed. Then Faramir was forced to turn and look at Celeborn.
"Why?" Celeborn asked.
Faramir opened his mouth to say it was time for him to resume his life as a Ranger, but then closed it. He could not lie to Celeborn, or himself, not with the elf's deep grey eyes that held the wisdom of Beleriand and Middle-earth watching him so steadily. "Because I cannot remain here any longer. I thank you for your hospitality, my lord," he hurried to add. "It is not that which drives me away. It..." Faramir realized he had said too much, shook his head, and stood silent, staring out over the city.
"You will break your heart if you go," Lord Celeborn said after a moment, and Faramir's head snapped up to meet the elf's gaze. It was impossible for the man to deny that he knew what his host was talking about. "She loves you, Faramir."
"Do you think I will not break her heart if I stay?" Faramir said, his voice cracking with emotion. "What stronger pain is there than to see the one you love every day, and know that you can never be with them? What kind of honor would I have if I were to stay, misleading her, tempting her into thinking that there could... perhaps... be something... more?"
"Something more?" Lord Celeborn asked neutrally.
Faramir paced the room. "She is Firstborn, and I-- I am mortal. And a mortal of no status, at that. She is not for me. I could not give her what she deserves."
"Does she not deserve to be happy?" Lorwen's father asked, very gently, and the Ranger stared out over the city again, gripping the railing with two white-knuckled hands.
After a moment he said, in a voice rough with emotion, "She deserves every happiness the world holds."
"And do you think she will have that if you go?" Celeborn said. "You know the Shadow rested on her. If you leave, it will fall on her again. And I fear she will die of grief."
"I would not have that, if I had the strength to stop it," said Faramir. "For it seems to me that she is the fairest thing I have yet beheld in my life. But-- I cannot help her. It is impossible that we should wed."
"You are the first to make her laugh in five hundred years, Faramir," Celeborn said. "Much would I give the man who could do that. And are you not descended directly from Isildur, and through him Elros?"
"I am," Faramir said. "But I am mortal, Lord Celeborn. I am fated to die. And what will happen to her then, if we have wed? The Shadow will return to her."
"Perhaps," said Celeborn. "But I have not foreseen it."
Faramir was puzzled, not understanding the elf lord's meaning; but at last he turned away and said, "Then if you will permit it, I will wed with your daughter. But I cannot forsake my land and my oaths, even for her, and so she must choose whether to return with me over the mountains."
"She will go," Celeborn said, rising from his seat. "For she loves you, Faramir, as much as you love her. Go. Speak to her." And he left as silently as he had come.
Then Faramir sank down on his bed, and it seemed to him that he dwelt in a strange dream; and he feared that he would awaken and find himself in the wilds again, never having met the Lady Lorwen, or worse, awaken to find that everything had passed truly except for his conversation with Lord Celeborn.
He stood and went to Lorwen, finding her on a high platform that overlooked the fair city. But she was not looking down on it; she was staring steadily east, and he saw that the Shadow no longer touched her. And he knew that to leave her would be to destroy her.
So he laid his heart before her, speaking plainly, telling her that if she were to marry him she would have to leave her people and live in the hidden villages of the Dunedain, which would seem crude and mean to her after the splendour of Lothlorien. "For not even for you, fair lady, can I forsake the fate of my race," he said. "I am descended from Isildur, and so must pursue and destroy the servants of the Enemy wherever I find them. For such is the life of the Dunedain." And he purposely made his words harsher than was his wont, that she might know what life she faced if she accepted him.
Finally he added, "And only one thing have I to offer you as recompense for that which you will lose."
Lorwen, who had been silent this whole time, looked up at him steadily. "And what is that, my lord?"
"My love," he said softly, for the trust and faith in her eyes even after his harsh words shamed him. "Judge for yourself whether it shall suffice."
She did not answer him in words, but kissed him; and all those who saw them knew that their troth was plighted. And some rejoiced, and some did not.
So it was that in 2995 of the Third Age, Faramir of the Dunedain wedded Lorwen of Lothlorien on a high hill in Caras Galadhon. They dwelt there for some months, but eventually Faramir could put off their departure no longer, for he had been gone from his kinsmen for nearly a year and knew they would fear him dead.
On the night before they were to leave, his heart troubled him, and he sat in silence for a long while, for his wife had gone to say farewell to her mother. Once again Lord Celeborn approached him, unnoticed. "What troubles you, Faramir?" he asked quietly.
The Ranger was silent. "I would not injure my lord Aragorn by any means," he said at last. "Yet how can I do otherwise, when what I have gained can only remind him of that which he has not?"
"Be easy of heart," Celeborn answered. "He knows, and he is glad for you."
And so it was that Faramir and Lorwen settled in a small village of the Dunedain, and though he was often absent in the wilds, all who saw them together knew how much they loved each other. And those of Imladris who knew Lorwen rejoiced to see the Shadow lifted from her heart, though not all were happy at the means; and those of the Dunedain who knew Faramir rejoiced that he had found love and companionship, for he had no living close kin.
For five years they had peace and happiness beyond the measure usually given to men and elves, and though the Shadow of Mordor grew in the South, Lorwen was content.
And on June 2nd, in the year 3000 of the Third Age, she gave birth to a daughter, and called her Willow.
Second A/N: This is the introduction to a lengthy story, that of Lorwen and Faramir's daughter Willow. I don't know how often I will update, but each segment will be a separate entry of with the words "from the tales of Willow Halfelven" in the summary so they can be easily found through the search function by using the terms "Willow Halfelven". They will be published in chronological order; the story with the pitch pine was an exception.
Obviously, this is AU; in canon, Galadriel and Celeborn only had one daughter. I intend to break several other major rules of fic writing as I go along, so don't worry.
And this is in no way meant to be autobiographical. I just like the name.