29 April 2013 @ 06:13 pm
The Valinor Trail, Chapter Ten  
This chapter has been part-written, unwritten, re-written... but it is finally finished and gets them somewhere - thank goodness.

The Valinor Trail
Chapter 10,
2,600 words.
PG.



Sometimes Tindómë thought that those weird monks, back in the other world, had done too good a job of giving her memories for a childhood she hadn’t had. Movies, songs, and books seemed to have been added almost at random; things they surely couldn’t have simply copied from Buffy, because she had often looked at Dawn as if she was very odd for knowing something that came on the car radio, or a quote from a childhood book.

As she rode side by side with Haldir, saying little, she found herself with just such a song going round and around in her head. Sometimes she wondered if one or two of the younger monks had been used to provide that sort of thing. She was pretty sure that an average young girl born in the late 1980s wouldn’t have been a big fan of old Neil Diamond songs…

“The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I'm strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy, he's my brother…”

Although she hoped she wouldn’t have to carry Haldir at any stage – he was a little taller than his brothers, and slightly more heavily muscled – she considered him for a while and eventually reckoned he must weigh around 180 pounds or more.

At least it took her mind off the song for a while.

………………………………………………………..

Haldir found himself wondering why his brother-wife was looking at him with such a calculating expression…

………………………………………………………..

This first day, as they followed a road through cultivated land, passed without incident or excitement. They carried camping gear but when they reached a village with an inn, a little before sunset, they decided to spend the night there. Or, rather, Haldir decided and Tindómë could see no reason to argue, much though she might have wanted to on principle, and they were soon in a room with a large bed in the centre and a bath and large jugs of water in one corner.

Tindómë half expected Haldir to make some comment about either the bed or the bath, but actually his first words were “it is good that you speak Quenya, brother-wife. My own is not good – but between the two of us we should be able to understand and be understood.”

She was so taken aback at what was, more or less, a compliment that she was lost for words for a minute! Then, more amicably than she might have expected, they each bathed by standing in the round bath and pouring water over themselves. Again, Tindómë felt that Haldir was, almost grudgingly, impressed that she had no qualms about stripping in front of him, nor of being around whilst he did so.

She felt like saying something along the lines of ‘you’ve seen one naked elven body, you’ve seen them all,’ or ‘if you haven’t already checked out how like an elf I am, whilst we’ve been bathing or swimming in a group, then you are a lot less curious than every other member of the Galadhrim I’ve ever met’. But she didn’t.

………………………………………………………..

Haldir had seen Tindómë swim naked during his stay in Alqualondë. He had already decided that, although a little shorter than most ellyth and rather too rounded in breast and hip, her hroar was not displeasing and he could understand Rumil finding her acceptable physically.

As she stood in the bath with her back to him, and he caught sight of marks on her buttocks, he smiled. Rumil had always had a taste for using his teeth during bodily pleasure; that Tindómë clearly did not object but, as the sounds of enjoyment heard so regularly in the past few weeks attested, clearly shared his tastes was, of course, a good thing.

Actually, Haldir could see how those slightly fleshier buttocks might be a pleasure to bite…

Later he watched Tindómë sleep. She was, really, so young that it was not surprising that she slept longer than older elves. But the closed eyes, and the way that she, once asleep, turned and curled on her side like a young animal, reminded him, had he needed it, that she was something… other. Although, he silently admitted, perhaps less ‘other’ than he had thought at first.

………………………………………………………..

By the end of the second day their surroundings were more sparsely populated. The land was still green, with rolling hills, but now there was less obvious cultivation, no more cattle, and few houses; rather, there were flocks of sheep and single small buildings here and there.

Tindómë still thought it looked odd, seeing elves tending fields, but it was Haldir who actually voiced the thought as they dismounted in a small copse of trees just off the road.

“I find it hard to see the pleasure in watching sheep, or cutting crops all day,” he said, “but I suppose someone has to do it...”

“I guess tending the vegetable patches out on the fences was a bit different,” she answered.

This led to conversation about the one visit she had made back to Lothlorien after His Lordship had left, what still had survived at that point, and how she had felt she did not want to return again, even though Rumil and Orophin had done. As they talked she had gathered wood for a fire and Haldir began preparing supper without comment; at least, she thought, he hadn’t felt the need to give her instructions.

………………………………………………………..

There was no real need to watch all night, Haldir thought; there were no orcs, and almost certainly no wolves, as the sheep seemed to be left to roam at night. The horses would certainly raise an alarm, anyway, should anything, or anyone, approach the camp. But it went against the grain. He had never camped without a watch. On the odd occasion when he had travelled alone outside the fences he had not slept, simply drowsed half awake, aware of any movement.

“Should I take first watch, or will you wake me later?” Tindómë asked.

His brothers had trained her well.

………………………………………………………..

Another day went by very like the previous one. They interspersed cantering and walking, and passed the time of day with a few others, including a party heading the other way with loaded wagons of metal pulled by large teams of horses.

They saw only one or two hamlets along the route during the whole day and they camped overnight again.

Haldir, Tindómë decided, was not a big conversationalist.

She woke, on the morning of their fourth day of travel, to heavy grey sky and rain. They were, as they had been the night before, a little off the road where there were a few trees for shelter – and the leaves did keep some of the rain at bay. But even better shelter had been provided by a lean-to of canvas, supported by two cut branches, that had not been over her when she had finished her watch and rolled herself up to sleep.

She wanted to comment on how quietly Haldir must have worked to do this without waking her but, she knew, he would simply point out he was an elf, and Galadhrim… just as either of his brothers would have under the same circumstances. So she simply thanked him.

As they ate, packed, and rode on, the rain continued. Both had their cloaks wrapped tightly, their hoods up, but there was no pleasure in the journey.

They did not bother to stop for lunch but ate some of the lembas Her Ladyship had given them, staying in the saddle whilst the horses, reins loose, cropped the grass. Still the rain showed no sign of abating.

It occurred to Tindómë, mid-afternoon, that the landscape, though grey and gloomy, was changing. There were more trees; trees that looked to be cultivated.

Just as she was about to comment on this to her companion, simply to break the tedium, he turned to her and spoke.

“Have you noticed that there are more trees along the way, now? And spreading in the distance as well?”

“I had, in fact it occurred to me…”

He cut her off as if he had not really noticed her reply.

“What is most interesting is that they have clearly, to me, been cultivated. You will notice how they grow with well matched, straight, branches from a low point. It is a method known as…”

“Coppicing. Yes. I had noticed. I am neither unobservant nor stupid,” Tindómë snapped back. “I am one of the Ithilrim – I lived, for most of my time in Middle Earth, in a carefully nurtured wood. I know about coppicing!”

She glared out from below her hood at him, expecting to be met by a cool look that would probably make her feel slightly guilty for being snippy. Instead she met a glare to match her own.

“One of the Ithilrim – and how should I know of life in Eryn Ithil? I was dead! I know nothing of the life you led there. Nothing of the life my brothers led there. While I was in the Halls of Lord Námo they were, apparently, on a tour of Middle Earth as if all I had taught them of loyalty to His Lordship, to Her Ladyship, was as nothing to them. As if I was as nothing to them.”

Huitho! That was unexpected. Tindómë took a few seconds to gather her thoughts, to decide what to answer. She stopped. What she did say next probably came as as big a surprise to Haldir as his outburst had to her.

“Get off the horse! Just ride over to those trees, stop, and get off the horse. This is much too important for a conversation on horseback.”

Perhaps Haldir agreed with her because he actually did follow her to the nearest group of trees, reined his horse to a stop and, when Tindómë dismounted without looking in his direction to see if he was complying with her, uh, request, she heard him drop lightly to the ground.

………………………………………………………..

“Get off the horse!” she had said. And he was so surprised, and still not completely certain why he had answered her as he had, that he simply complied.

Perhaps, he thought, it was the discomfort and tedium of riding through this grey landscape in unceasing rain. It was much worse than being on the fences on a wet day. That must have been why he had let his thoughts and emotions out before he could stop himself.

Now she was standing right in front of him; he could hardly avoid looking at her.

“As if you were nothing to them? Do you really feel that? Do you really think they just thought ‘Yay! Haldir’s dead! We can go on a big adventure and he can’t stop us!’? Honestly?”

Before he could muster an answer she took a step even closer and went on.

“Let me tell you, Marchwarden, YOU WERE MOURNED. Oh how you were mourned! Your empty hroar was buried, along with your fallen wardens, with as much honour and ceremony as the remaining Galadhrim and the Rohirrim could give; even though the Galadhrim were to set out and carry their wounded back to Lothlorien, even though the men of the Mark were going to ride out again to further battle.”

He wondered how she knew. He found out without needing to ask.

“And I know this because we went back later. And I don’t know why Rumil and Orophin haven’t told you all this – is it in poor taste to discuss your death once you come back? Well if it is no-one’s ever told me so I’ve got no problems discussing dead you with second time around you. Or maybe they have told you and you didn’t listen properly, or something. But you can listen now.”

Despite the rain dripping off the leaves above them, he realised that perhaps he did want to listen now. In fact, he realised, it may have been the weather that sparked off his honest answer to her earlier – it had been raining non-stop that night at Helm’s Deep, too.

He had known the bald facts; how many of his warriors had died alongside him, how many were injured. That Orophin and Rumil had not returned to the Golden Wood with the others, as they should have, but had ridden, instead, with the men.

He learnt, here, from this slip of an elleth who was not even there, that those warriors left alive had agreed that it was right for the Galadhrim to further support Aragorn Arathornion on his quest, and that Orophin and Rumil had gone because they sought vengeance for his, Haldir’s, death. That the Elrondionath had said only that vengeance wish, and then the need to care for Tindómë when Rumil found her, broken and close to death, on the battlefield, had kept them from fading and following him, so great was their sense of loss.

He heard how Rumil sat beside her bed and, as she mourned being lost from her sister, he had wept for his brother so that one of the first Sindarin phrases she had ever learnt was ‘My brother, I miss him’.

“And then His Lordship sent Rumil back to Minas Tirith, to draw and paint pictures of her first grandchild to take to Lady Celebrían. Orophin and I went with, and the twins. We ended up back at Helm’s Deep and, oh, how you were mourned again! Orophin mourned you as an elfling mourns his parents and Rumil could feel his pain from, like, about half a mile away, through the stone! He went and joined Orophin, despite an injury that had slit him from his rib-cage to the opposite thigh less than two days before.

“They mourned you so much that their fëar were empty. I’d never seen such grief, even though both my mother and my sister died, and a friend’s soul-mate; Rumil and Orophin’s grief was greater. And that was three years after they buried you.

“Do not ever tell me that your death meant nothing to them!”

Haldir wanted to ask about that wound to Rumil. What had his younger brother been doing to get the injury? But Tindómë had not finished. He would leave that question for another time.

“And Her Ladyship honoured you after you’d died. She sent seedlings with us to plant where your hroar were buried. And the Rohirrim joined us, and honoured you all by mourning you as they would their own greatest warriors. The trees still stand over your graves, and the stone is there, still.”

“Stone?” he cut in.

“Gimli’s dwarves carved it. It is all pretty much old history now, for the men,” Tindómë said. “No-one who was there is still alive to remember, nor are their children.”

She looked sad at that thought. But she went on, “And yet the last time any of us passed through the Riddermark the stone was kept clear and clean, even though the men don’t even understand the tengwar. Your burial place is marked with a stone that says ‘We fell honouring the alliance between men and elves, to protect all from darkness and evil’.”

Here, in a wet copse of coppiced hornbeam and beech, Haldir realised that he had learnt more about his brothers’ life without him than he had from their own mouths since they had been reunited.

“And,” Tindómë finished, “your brothers were so proud of you – but they would so much rather have had you, than pride in a bloody stone.”





Feedback is good, and low in carbs - and if you spot any errors do point them out - my beta is almost infallible... but only almost!
 
 
Current Mood: relievedrelieved
 
 
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Marcus L. Rowlandffutures on April 29th, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
Yes, someone finally got through to him!
curiouswombat: Haldircuriouswombat on April 29th, 2013 07:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I think he needed to get to snark-point himself for someone to finally tell him the realities of life without him - both the good and the bad.
(Anonymous) on April 30th, 2013 02:59 am (UTC)
Smiting Haldir
Woot! Way to go Tindome! You tell him girl!

Which flavour Lembas would you like?

Lynda
curiouswombat: Tindómëcuriouswombat on April 30th, 2013 07:30 am (UTC)
Re: Smiting Haldir
Glad you enjoyed it! I work on the idea that they do not have chocolate as they don't have 'South America' - but vanilla or almond would be good...
ninglorethningloreth on April 30th, 2013 05:57 am (UTC)
Hmm... That didn't go at all as I expected it to go!

I really liked the brittle truce between them in the first half, and it will be interesting to see how things change now that Tindome has set things straight. There is something frigid about Haldir -- I wonder if he was like that before he died, or if it's a side effect of death?
curiouswombat: Haldircuriouswombat on April 30th, 2013 07:50 am (UTC)
Hmm... That didn't go at all as I expected it to go!

Always fun to take a slightly unexpected route!

I'm glad that that slightly brittle truce works - she has tried to remain polite to him ever since they first met, as to do otherwise would have upset Rumil. But it was mainly achieved by not spending much time with him; and the same was true from his point of view, too, as he has tended to lay the blame for things having changed whilst he was 'away' at her door. But now, with no-one else around to be upset, they are still going to have to work together...

I think of Haldir as unsettled, having problems coping with returning to life. He had somehow not expected anything to change, had he thought of it at all. Yes, his parents were also alive again, but he had expected that they would be living in a forest of ancient trees, Galadriel and Celeborn living in a luxurious talan in the middle of it, himself and his brothers patrolling the edges as a formality and spending their down time with willing and enthusiastic ellyth...

Life is all wrong. He copes by returning into his most straight-faced, straight backed, formality; the ellon who was able to look down his nose at the twins before he was as tall as them...

In awe of sensible companions....wildecate on April 30th, 2013 11:05 am (UTC)

lol. SO Tindome. Angry and irritated and exasperated. This has been brewing for ages! Love it.

curiouswombat: Anyacuriouswombat on April 30th, 2013 11:58 am (UTC)
Thank you! I think she can only do the elven calm thing for a limited length of time :) And I rather think it will do Haldir good, too. He is really rather lost in this new life at the moment.
Nath: writing IIImrowe on April 30th, 2013 03:41 pm (UTC)
Wheee, chapter!
curiouswombat: Cheshire Cat goes Whee!curiouswombat on April 30th, 2013 04:31 pm (UTC)
Now that is a comment I am very happy to receive!
Nath: Coffeemrowe on April 30th, 2013 04:53 pm (UTC)
I'd be more eloquent, but my brain has turned to mush after watching tv most of the day...

Edited at 2013-04-30 04:53 pm (UTC)
curiouswombat: Congratulationscuriouswombat on April 30th, 2013 05:40 pm (UTC)
I've seen snippets - congratulations to your new king and queen! I like the beautiful colour co-ordination of Princess Beatrix, Queen Maxima and the small princesses in their royal blue outfits.
myrhiannmyrhiann on May 13th, 2013 12:23 am (UTC)
I've been busy to spend as much time on LJ as I used to, but I remembered this today and came hunting for it. It took ages to work my way back, but it was worth it. The showdown between Haldir and Tindome was unexpected, but timely, and added a lot to the story for me, since I don't fully know their previous history. As always, I'm looking forward to the next instalment.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )