Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue. End of story.
Rating: Teen (to be on the safe side...honestly, it's probably more of a K+)
Warnings: Character death (movie-verse)
Time Frame: Missing scene in The Two Towers movie after Haldir and the elves arrive from Lorien, but before the battle begins.
A/N: Here...take it...read it...*collapses from exhaustion*. I'm running on only a few hours of sleep at the moment, and have had a draining day. Why am I so tired? Because I stayed up watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy Extended Edition with a friend (who I have now officially gotten hooked), and then had to go to work. So why am I posting this now? I have no. idea. Because I felt like it I suppose. And the only thing I really had to do was hit 'publish' and write this author's note. So...Anyway enough of that (being rambling, because you really probably don't want to hear it). I have a few more oneshots ready and waiting to be uploaded, a few more *almost* ready, and a oneshot-turned-novella in the writing stages (if you were curious). So keep an eye out for more things coming out from me.
Huge love and thanks and gratitude goes to tonks-quinn57, who didn't officially beta this for me, but edited it and helped me with the ending. Le hannon mellon nin.
I hope you enjoy this little oneshot. It basically simply satisfies my confusion as to why Aragorn was commanding the elves. Go figure. I'd love it if you would review as well. I've noticed that it's gotten easier. You don't even have to bother with opening another window! And who knows, maybe if you did review, it would give me an energy boost. That would be MOST appreciated. Most importantly, though, enjoy it.
*Note*All other elvish spoken herein will be marked by using italics. So if you see italics, then whoever is speaking is speaking in Sindarin.
Théoden appeared as if he were still in a state of slight shock. He was paler than normal, and his movements were abrupt and jerky, as if he were slightly detached from reality. Whenever he would catch sight of Haldir, dressed in his full battle regalia standing off to one side, he would start, as if surprised by his presence. Legolas found the whole thing rather amusing, although he sensed that the Marchwarden was beginning to get annoyed.
Gimli, Legolas, Haldir, Aragorn, Théoden, and Gamling stood around a stout oak table covered with maps, sheaves of paper, and the odd book. On the top of the clutter sprawled a large map detailing Helm's Deep and the land surrounding it.
"My archers will be stationed here," Théoden was saying, and Legolas brought his attention back to the map and the situation at hand. They were currently discussing strategy. Well, to be more precise, Théoden was outlining his strategy, a thing that seemed to annoy Haldir slightly. Yet the Lórien elf held his tongue while the Edain spoke. It was his land, his keep, and his people that they were coming to protect.
"Your archers will be placed along the top of the curtain wall," and here Théoden turned to look at Haldir. Again, the king twitched almost imperceptibly, as if, despite the fact that he knew there was an elf there, he was still surprised to actually find himself speaking to one.
Haldir's eyes flicked toward Aragorn. For a half second, their gazes met, and then Aragorn nodded almost imperceptibly. Haldir looked back to Théoden and gracefully nodded his head.
"Very well," the Silvan elf agreed.
Théoden seemed to have sensed the question and approval that passed between man and elf, for his brows drew together in a frown. He looked sharply at Haldir, and for the first time he did not show shock. Haldir simply looked at him levelly, without animosity, yet with no respect. Legolas tensed, worried that the proud King would take it as a challenge.
"I will assign one of my lieutenants to you," Théoden continued gratingly after a few seconds of rather tense silence.
"That will not be necessary," Haldir replied evenly.
"I believe it is," Théoden replied, and his eyes flashed.
"Do any of your lieutenants speak Elvish? Do they know the battle customs of the Eldar?" Haldir pressed. Théoden began to look slightly flustered again, but shook his head.
"No," Théoden finally answered the elf when it became apparent that he was waiting for a reply. "But there also needs to be a man on the wall that my people know and can trust. To many of them, elves were myths and legends until but a few days ago, and many are wary and suspicious. They need someone that they can trust leading your people." Once again, Théoden spoke with iron in his voice, and he stood rigidly, daring Haldir to argue with him. To his surprise, the Silvan elf merely smiled.
"Of course. I understand that," he replied smoothly, and Legolas knew that Théoden had just presented the Marchwarden with the window of opportunity that he had been searching for. "Someone like Aragorn, perhaps?" Haldir suggested.
Théoden opened his mouth as if to argue, but then closed it again. He glanced sideways at the dark haired man standing on the edge of the small gathering, arms crossed as he watched and listened. Slowly, Théoden began to nod.
"It is settled then," Théoden announced.
A guard rushed into the room and hurried to Théoden's side, whispering something in his ear. The King nodded, and quickly excused himself before hurrying from the room, Gamling by his side.
Aragorn stepped forward, unfolding his arms and looking directly at Haldir.
"Haldir, what are you thinking?" he asked. Aragorn had told Legolas that he intended to fight with the elves, but that was a far cry from what Haldir was insinuating.
Haldir looked at the human, and for a long moment was silent. Legolas felt a tingle of unease prickle up his spine as the silence stretched on, Edain and Eldar staring intently at each other. Beside him, Gimli shifted uneasily, and looked up to meet Legolas's gaze.
Then, gracefully, albeit abruptly, Haldir sank to one knee, placing his right hand over his heart in the gesture of both respect and allegiance. And then he spoke.
"Estel Elrondion, I, Haldir of Lórien, bind myself to you in loyalty and allegiance, to follow where you lead and obey your commands, and to protect you as best as I may. In the name of Manwë and Tulkas I swear my allegiance to you."
Legolas felt power build in the room, centered upon the kneeling elf and the man to whom he knelt. And then, just as it reached a nearly unbearable intensity, the feeling vanished.
Shock, astonishment, awe, and surprise overwhelmed Legolas. The oath that the Marchwarden had just swore was a powerful oath indeed. He had invoked the names of both Manwë, lord of the Valar, and Tulkas, Champion of the Valar. It was not an oath that would be broken.
"What just happened?" Gimli breathed, looking up at his friend with wide eyes. He had felt the buildup of power as well, but had not understood what had been said. Legolas merely shook his head, indicating that they should be silent, but that he would explain later.
If Legolas was surprised, it was nothing as to how Aragorn must have felt. The man's eyes were wide, his body rigid as he attempted to comprehend what had just happened. Finally, he reached down slowly, as if through water, and grasped the kneeling elf's elbows and pulled him to his feet.
"I cannot…" he began, his voice thick with emotion. "Haldir, you cannot give me your allegiance. You are a Marchwarden of Lórien."
"My Lord and Lady know of my oath," Haldir replied evenly. "They gave me their blessing. Although they would never say such a thing, I believe that they have worried about their youngest grandson. The rest of my men know of it as well. They have all already accepted your leadership."
"I…" Aragorn trailed off, unable to continue. "I thank you, Haldir," he finally managed to say, and he clasped the Silvan warrior's arm. Haldir returned the gesture, and bowed his head in respect.
The door burst open, and a panting lad skid to a halt. "My lords," he gasped, "the King summons you to the wall. The Uruk-hai are within sight."
"Thank you," Aragorn replied, nodding to the boy who then turned and hurried from the room. They followed him, although at a slightly slower pace.
"What you just witnessed has never before been witnessed by a Dwarf," Legolas informed Gimli as they hurried through the corridors.
"And what exactly did I witness?" Gimli asked, hurrying to keep up with his companions' longer strides.
"I shall not repeat the precise words," Legolas replied, "but Haldir swore an oath of allegiance to Aragorn." Gimli's eyebrows shot up beneath his helm.
"Allegiance?" Gimli breathed, astounded, and fell silent.
A short time later, Legolas came alongside Haldir.
"Might I ask you a question, Haldir?" Legolas asked.
"Indeed," Haldir replied, and glanced sideways at the younger Silvan elf.
"Why did you swear such an oath? I do not mean to admonish you, I am simply curious as to your reasons."
At first, Legolas thought that Haldir would not reply.
"I will not answer your question, Thranduilion," Haldir replied. He continued however, ignoring the Mirkwood prince's slightly offended look. "Perhaps, though, you shall understand when the day dawns and the battle comes to an end."
With a smile laden with both sorrow and mystery, Haldir disappeared into the ranks of elves standing atop the Deeping Wall.
The small seed of wonder and curiosity remained with Legolas through the battle, and after the day dawned and the orcs were driven back into the forest and destroyed by the trees, Legolas went in search of the Lórien elf to ask his question again.
When Legolas finally found Haldir, he felt as if he had been punched in the gut. The blonde elf had been laid out in a cleared space in the courtyard, away from the debris and the carnage. His sword had been cleaned and placed on his chest, and his arms were crossed over the blade in the symbol of a warrior's death. He had been cleansed of both grime and gore, and his armor gleamed dully in the morning sunlight. Had his eyes not been closed, Legolas would have thought that the elf was merely resting. Yet his eyes were closed, and Legolas knew that Haldir had forever left Middle-Earth.
Aragorn was kneeling beside Haldir's lifeless corpse, his head bowed in grief. Legolas approached quietly, and laid a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder, attempting to convey comfort and peace.
As Legolas looked down at the elf, he found himself searching the emotionless face as if for answers. For a long moment, he saw nothing but death and silence. But then, just as Legolas felt that he was unable to look on any longer, and was about to turn away, he saw something else, something that he had not expected to see – peace.
And in that moment, Legolas found the answer to his question.