Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings and all characters belong to Tolkien. I am merely keeping Haldir alive at Helm's Deep.
Authors Note: I do not know too much about Éomer so I am going to make some stuff up.
A Mortal Love
Part 6 - Confrontations
Elrond sighed dejectedly. He had finally found a bench in a quiet, forgotten corner of the Hornburg. When, after long moments no one had passed, he felt confident that even Glorfindel wouldn't find him here and calmed down, allowing himself to mentally review what had just happened. /Glorfindel... It was my fault, not yours. I should not have entered knowing you were inside. I should have waited for you to emerge from the bathroom, but I never expected to find you in that... state. By Elbereth, you came with my name on your lips!/
And he had grown hard as well, seeing the blond pleasure himself! By the Valar, how could he ever face Glorfindel again? Had his seneschal noticed his arousal? He hoped not! Their next encounter would be awkward at best, but hopefully their friendship would survive. /What do I say? How must I act? I do not want him to think this was his fault. How can I...?/ Elrond's musing came to an abrupt end when a shadow grew on the floor, announcing a visitor. Ai, he wasn't in the mood for this. Maybe he could sneak out before the other noticed his presence?
"Elrond? Please do not leave... "
Glorfindel's voice made Elrond shiver. "How did you find me?"
"By accident," admitted the blond. "What are you doing here in this deserted place?"
Elrond briefly closed his eyes, hearing concern and affection intertwined in the blond's soft voice. It nearly broke his heart. Glorfindel stepped out of the shadows, revealing himself. /His eyes are red and puffy. Did he cry? Did I make Glorfindel cry? Ai, nay.../ He was tempted to reach out and comfort the blond, but instead he clasped his fingers behind his back. /I would give him hope by comforting him now. It is better this way. Let this distance come between us. It will keep us both from pain./
"Elrond, I regret... I should not have... It was stupid and..." Shamefaced, Glorfindel stared at the floor. He had come here to seek out Legolas and now he had accidentally run into Elrond, the one person he wanted to avoid. "I am really sorry," he started again, but in the end he couldn't finish. Elrond's gaze had fastened on him and the half-Elf was now studying him. He shuffled his feet, wishing he could run away, but that wouldn't solve anything. He was bound to Elrond by an oath; he had vowed to serve the Lord of Imladris after Elrond had brought him back from the Halls of Waiting. He would serve Elrond until the day he died.
Elrond raised a hand, signaling Glorfindel to be silent. "Nay, I was at fault. I should have respected your privacy; instead I simply entered. It is I who needs to apologize." He studied Glorfindel, disliking the dark expression in those usually sparkling eyes. What was this doing to Glorfindel? His friend had to know that these feelings were mutual, and yet he was being denied. Elrond's heart twisted with pain, but he couldn't dedicate himself to another relationship; he no longer had the courage or strength to try.
Glorfindel felt miserable, defeated. How could he ever conquer the losses of Elrond's heart when its owner desperately clung to its pain? Glorfindel stole a look at Elrond, but quickly lowered his eyes, seeing the brooding expression in them. He had fought a Balrog, had returned from Mandos - but Elrond's heart proved to be his downfall. Would he suffer miserably for the rest of his life because he loved someone who was afraid to love him back? Had he created his own prison?
"Will you stay with me?" asked Elrond numbly. He wouldn't - couldn't - blame Glorfindel if the blond wanted to leave his side; he was afraid to hope Glorfindel would stay, because if the blond didn't, his heart would die a third time. How much anguish could his heart endure? Would it ever end?
Glorfindel finally met Elrond's gaze and stared longingly at the half-Elf. "I cannot remember the number of times I promised to stay at your side. I pledged my life to you." Glorfindel drew in a deep breath. "But now I finally realize that my words cannot reach your heart. It does not hear my vows; it only feels loss, and is ruled by your fear to lose a lover once more. I do not know how to reach your heart or to make you understand. I will always be there for you, no matter what comes between us." Acting instinctively he turned around, unable to endure Elrond's pained expression any longer. "Do you not know I would die for you?"
Elrond's eyes swam, but still his hands remained clasped behind his back. His usually eloquent speech deserted him and his mouth felt awfully dry. Glorfindel's words had pierced his heart, and he felt mortally wounded. "Ai, meldir, I..."
Glorfindel shook his head, grateful that his back was still turned toward Elrond, for now the half-Elf couldn't see the anguish reflected in his eyes. "Nay, do not speak words of hope when they are idle. You condemn me to this silent suffering - and suffer I will. Never again will I speak of my feelings for you. My heart will break - slowly, perhaps, but it will die like yours..."
Elrond suddenly raised an arm, reached out, and nearly rested it on Glorfindel's shoulder to keep him in place. But the fingers became a fist, and he pulled back. Celebrian's voice echoed in his mind, and Gil-galad's touch reminded him of what he had lost so long ago. He couldn't risk his heart again! "You are free to love someone else, Glorfindel. Do not bind yourself to me when I am a withered oak, bare and struck in its heart by lightning. Choose another heart to love; one that isn't barren and cold."
Glorfindel's shoulders slumped. "It is not barren, not cold... it is afraid..." His heart was breaking, and all thoughts of Legolas' plan faded into nothingness. They had been fools to think their scheme might work! "I will leave you now and give you your privacy. Please call me when you need my services..."
Choking with emotion, Elrond watched the blond rush down the corridor, apparently eager to put as much distance as possible between them. "By Elbereth, what have I done?" Exhausted, he collapsed onto the bench. His hand, still clenched like a fist, opened like a flower and he pressed its palm against his temple. He sensed that Glorfindel understood his pain, even accepted it... but only to some extent, expecting him to overcome his fears and try again.
"But I am not as strong as you think, Glorfindel." Elrond's head bowed in defeat, and he stared at his hands, resting idly in his lap.
Haldir stirred from his sleep, wondering why the fatigue wouldn't go away. Shivers coursed through his body, surprising -him- who had never felt the icy cold during his long life. /What does it mean? I must talk to Elrond./
Looking about, he located Éomer at a wooden desk. The Man was reading reports, writing replies to his officers, and was utterly absorbed in his work. For the first time, Haldir got a chance to study his 'savior'. The long, dark blonde mane hid part of his features, but not the hazel eyes. Éomer possessed a strength he had seldom witnessed in a Man - maybe only in Aragorn. It was that strength that had pulled him back from Mandos. /Mandos... the mere name makes me shiver./ It was a cold and dark place, and it still haunted him. Dark eyes and hollow faces had welcomed him instead of warm, welcoming voices.
"Ah, you're awake." Éomer looked up from behind his papers and briefly made eye contact with the Elf. "I didn't know Elves slept this much."
Haldir glared at the Man. "Usually we do not, but mine is a healing sleep." Now why had he admitted that to Éomer?
"You do look stronger today, more alert," said Éomer approvingly. "You must be hungry. Would you like something to eat?" He gestured at the tray on his desk, filled with bread, cheese, meat and wine.
Haldir wasn't sure his stomach would approve, but he did feel hungry. His gaze shifted from the food, back to the Man. He refused to ask Éomer to carry the tray over to him. It was time he walked again; he had been idle for much too long. Pushing himself on to his elbows, his eyes widened when pain ripped through him, nearly taking his breath away. But that didn't stop him. Biting down the pain, he sat upright and swung his feet onto the floor. "Ai..." Unable to stifle a cry of pain, he remained frozen, knowing moving about would only cause him more pain.
"What do you think you're doing?" Éomer scolded, frustrated. "Lord Elrond told you to rest, and -I- am telling you to stay off your feet for at least another day!"
Haldir raised an eyebrow indignantly and was tempted to argue, but the pain radiating through his spine worsened. He had to lie down or the pain would make him faint. Éomer suddenly appeared at his side, easing him down onto his side and he let the Man tend to him, loathing his weakness that confined him to this accursed bed! "I do not need your help."
But Éomer wasn't inclined to have another 'discussion' and pushed several pillows into place, making sure Haldir's back was supported. "You will stay here and I will bring you the food."
Haldir opened his mouth to object once more, but only a soft yelp of anguish escaped. He was loath to admit it, but he couldn't leave the bed yet. Silently, he watched Éomer collect the tray and bring it over to the bed, where the Man placed it in front of him.
"I'm not so sure about the wine..." Éomer muttered. "Does wine affect Elves?"
Haldir considered the question. "I have never drunk wine made by Man before."
"Then now isn't the time to try it. I will ask a servant to fetch some water and tea." Éomer walked over to the doorway, instructed a servant, and returned to the bed. "Why are you fighting me when I merely wish to take care of you?" He pulled up a chair and sat down, watching Haldir chew a small piece of bread.
"I do not need anyone to take care of me," stated Haldir, knowing very well he was lying. He -did- need someone; he needed Éomer's life force, for it kept him alive and aided his healing. "I want to talk to Lord Elrond."
"I thought so..." Éomer thoughtfully studied the carefully chiseled features, the long silver hair flowing down the Elf's back like a liquid sea of silver, and his hands itched to bury themselves in it. He was tempted to sit on them to keep his hands from moving restlessly in his lap. "I will send a servant to inform him you are fully awake and wish to talk to him."
Éomer's behavior puzzled Haldir, but he was unable to identify this curiosity. Save for Aragorn, he had never felt like trusting a Man, but Éomer almost made him forget his suspicions. A light shone from within the Man, a light that warmed his chilly soul after its return from Mandos. /He has the makings of a King.../
A servant, bringing water and tea as requested, appeared hesitantly in the doorway and Éomer rose from the chair to accept them. "Inform Lord Elrond that Haldir wants to speak with him," said Éomer. "Maybe Lord Elrond will be able to join us for dinner?" Éomer cast a glance at Haldir, who nodded.
The servant left once more on another errand, and Éomer took his seat by the bed again. "Drinking the tea might be difficult whilst lying down," mused the Rohirrin. "Maybe you can sit upright if we support your back?"
Haldir remained silent, lost in thought. He watched silently as Éomer rearranged the pillows. Unexpectedly, strong arms pulled him into an upright position and he tensed, expecting pain. But it never came. Looking into Éomer's dark eyes, he read worry and growing affection in them. He leaned back into the piled pillows and curled his fingers round the warm mug. To his utter embarrassment, his hand shook violently, making it nearly impossible for him to drink.
Éomer took the mug from Haldir, and, ignoring the smoldering expression in the Elf's eyes, he placed its rim against his chapped lips. "Sip slowly." Haldir's glare was unnerving, but he refused to let the Elf get to him. He had the distinct impression that Elrond had been right; beneath the arrogant mask hid a vulnerable soul.
Haldir broke off another piece of bread and chewed it slowly. After sipping more tea, he raised a shaky hand to signal that he'd had enough.
Éomer placed the mug aside and leaned back in his chair, resting his feet on the side of the bed. "I see questions in your eyes."
"Aye," whispered Haldir. "Why do I feel cold?" A part of him still distrusted the Man, but another reveled in Éomer's strength, clinging to the life that sustained him.
Éomer suddenly felt uncomfortable. "Lord Elrond should tell you what happened. I am afraid I would only upset you."
"Ai, it is that bad then?" Haldir briefly closed his eyes, needing a moment to compose himself. "I would prefer it if you told me what to expect."
Éomer shook his head. "I can't." He leaned in closer and stared deeply into Haldir's eyes. "I can't say the words..."
Haldir had no choice but to respect Éomer's decision, and to wait for dinner when Elrond would hopefully join them.
"Would you like more tea? Some water? Or maybe some fruit?" Éomer regretted upsetting Haldir, but felt at a loss himself. How could he possibly tell the Elf that his death would also bring on Haldir's? That they were bound in life...and death. He lacked the words.
"Nay, I have had enough." His stomach contracted, telling him it wouldn't accept more food. After stifling a yawn he sought out Éomer's gaze, expecting to see mirth in them. And aye, the Man was smirking!
"Still tired? Elves do sleep an awful lot," said Éomer teasingly, hoping to keep the verbal fights to a minimum until Haldir had recovered. Then the real battle of wits would begin! "Ah," he soothed, seeing Haldir's glare return, "but it's a healing sleep, isn't it?"
Haldir felt too tired to continue the bantering and awarded Éomer this victory. "Wake me for dinner? Lord Elrond..."
Éomer cut him short. "I will wake you, I promise." He laid the Elf down, pulled up the blanket and tucked it around Haldir's form. "I will be reading reports at my desk... Should you need me, let me know." But the hazel eyes had already turned vacant. Indulging himself, Éomer let a silver strand flow through his fingers. "Aragorn was right... My heart already cares for you..."
Aragorn found Éomer like that; caressing silver strands of long hair and staring at Haldir adoringly. He leaned against the doorway and wondered how much longer Éomer would fight these feelings.
/But then again, what will Haldir do? Will he accept this bond, or break it? Elrond was right, stating that Haldir didn't have a choice at the time, but Haldir can still take control of this situation. He can reject Éomer and the bond, and if he does, Haldir will fade quickly. Would he truly prefer Mandos above Éomer? But even if Haldir accepts, their time together will be brief, compared to Elvish standards. When Éomer's time comes, so will Haldir's. Haldir should know that./
"How does he fare?" Aragorn stepped into the room and advanced on them. Éomer looked up, startled, and the silken hair slipped from his fingers. "Peace, Éomer. I did not want to make you feel uncomfortable."
Éomer tensed slightly at hearing that last remark. "Why do you think your presence makes me uncomfortable?"
Aragorn shrugged, while taking in Haldir's appearance. "First touches between lovers can make one nervous."
Éomer sighed deeply. "I do not understand my feelings. Is this bond to blame?"
"Blame?" Aragorn shook his head. "Never see this bond as a nuisance, Éomer. Rejoice instead that your heart will know true love."
"But Haldir does not seem to feel the same way. Is this supposed to be one-sided?"
Aragorn smiled warmly. "Haldir is still recovering and has much to ponder. He will need more time to accept this than you did. While caring for Haldir you accepted this attraction, or at least you began to accept it. Haldir has had no opportunity like that yet."
Éomer hesitantly reached out to finger a soft lock. "Haldir wants to talk to Lord Elrond, so I invited him to dinner. I dread that conversation though..." He looked thoughtfully at Aragorn. "Maybe things will be less tense with some company? Would you join us for dinner? You may invite Legolas and the Dwarf as well."
Aragorn liked the idea of spending an evening with his friends. "Aye, I will extend the invitation to them." He placed a hand on Haldir's brow, but it still felt rather chilly. "You did not leave the room?"
"I did not." Éomer frowned. "Why? Isn't he improving?"
"He feels cold to the touch." Aragorn stepped back, smiled, and walked to the doorway. "Maybe you can keep him warm?"
Éomer averted his eyes and waited for Aragorn to leave the room before spooning himself behind Haldir. He slipped beneath the covers, gently pushed closer to the Elf, and wrapped an arm around Haldir's waist. Aragorn was right; Haldir did feel cold. Warming the Elf within the embrace, he pondered his feelings. Éowyn was the only person he had ever felt this protective about, and that realization amazed him. Haldir was a warrior, a skilled archer and swordsman according to the reports King Théoden's men were sending him. Haldir had fought bravely and had taken down several Uruk-Hai; the Elf needed no one to protect him. Maybe Haldir's temporary weakness brought on these protective feelings, but he had them and couldn't help but act on them.
Holding Haldir tight, he allowed himself to fall asleep as well, just planning a short catnap.
"Legolas..." Aragorn acknowledged the blond by whispering his name, and he almost forgot to breathe, seeing the loving expression when the Elf returned his gaze. /I will tell you I love you after we defeated Sauron,/ vowed Aragorn privately. "Where's Gimli?"
"Inspecting the outer walls with Théoden and Gandalf."
"And you did not accompany them?" Aragorn smiled, amused, realizing Legolas had hoped to spend more time with him. Well, why not indulge the Elf? "We are invited to dinner. Haldir wants some answers from Elrond and Éomer fears the confrontation."
Legolas nodded once, accepting the invitation. "And how does Haldir fare?" He felt relieved, hearing that Haldir wanted to talk to Elrond. It was time the Guardian learned about the extent of his bond with Éomer.
"Better. Hopefully he will make a full recovery in time." Aragorn's gaze swept through the ancient Hall, and then settled on Legolas' form once more. "I do believe that Éomer has feelings for Haldir..."
Legolas' eyes sparkled brightly. "That is most fortunate, considering they are bonded for life. And how does Haldir feel about this?"
"I doubt he knows. He is still very tired, and when he is awake he spends his time bickering with Éomer."
Legolas smiled warmly and nodded once. "Haldir talked to Éomer? He must like the Man, then." He knew very well what impression the haughty Guardian made on most people, and it prevented them from searching beneath the surface, where, hidden deep beneath the arrogance, a very wise and noble soul resided. "I wonder how Rumil and Orophin will react when they find out they have a Man for a brother in law!"
Aragorn grinned. "I do not dare think about their reactions yet!" Aragorn lost himself in Legolas' eyes, and it cost him several minutes, for he had to gather the will to look away. He longed to take Legolas into his arms and to kiss him breathless. /After the war!/
Aragorn walked over to Legolas, raised a hand and placed it on the blond's shoulder, gently squeezing it. "I will see you at dinner then? I guess Éomer will have it served in his rooms, for Haldir is still unable to walk."
"I will meet you there," whispered Legolas happily. He enjoyed Aragorn's close presence and marveled at all the personal attention he was getting lately. Had Aragorn even sought out Éowyn? Was Aragorn still thinking about her? It didn't seem that way. "I will inform the 'Lorien Elves that Haldir is recovering. This news will greatly please them."
Both were reluctant to part, but in the end, Legolas stepped away from Aragorn. "I will meet you for dinner..."
Aragorn nodded and watched Legolas step into the corridor. "Im mela lle." His voice was heavy with unspoken passion and regrets, yet hope sounded through as well. "After the war I will give you my heart..."
(Im mela lle = I love you)
One of the servants had shown him the way to his seneschal's new quarters and Elrond now stood thoughtfully in front of the door, hand poised to knock. The conversation they'd had earlier still made him cringe. Why couldn't he reach out and admit he was in love with Glorfindel? What would break down this wall of fear he had erected around him? It resembled Helm's Deep and his feelings resided deep within the Hornburg. Would anything breach those walls? Helm's Deep had been blown to pieces, but he didn't dare hope his walls would be pulled down as well.
Sighing, he knocked once and then waited for Glorfindel to answer the door. It opened, revealing a very fatigued Glorfindel. "Would you accompany me to Éomer's rooms? Haldir has several questions, and Éomer decided to invite us to dinner."
"I will accompany you," whispered Glorfindel in a tired tone. He collected his boots, put them on and followed Elrond into the corridor.
Elrond cringed at the distance Glorfindel was keeping. The blond walked behind him, several paces separating them. He wished he could take back words spoken earlier, but would Glorfindel even listen? His thoughts stopped racing when Aragorn called out to him. The Man walked up to them and frowned at Glorfindel. /Ai, Estel will figure out what is wrong.../
Aragorn's brow knitted, sensing the tension between the two Elves, and almost asked what was amiss, but seeing Elrond's glare he kept quiet instead. He had no intention of placing himself in the middle of this! His gaze traveled from Elrond to Glorfindel and he expected to encounter another glare, but Glorfindel's glance was defeated and resigned. /What happened between them?/ Glorfindel's eyes were downcast, staring at the floor, and Aragorn was tempted to drop back and talk to Glorfindel, but the blond didn't seem to be in a talkative mood either. /Maybe Legolas knows what is going on here?/ His friend could talk to Glorfindel and find out. After the way Elrond had glared at him, he didn't dare question his foster-father.
They walked in silence, and Aragorn sighed, relieved when they finally arrived at Éomer's quarters. The tension was getting to him, and he burst into the room without knocking.
Haldir looked up in obvious surprise at seeing Aragorn burst into the room. Éomer looked questioningly at him, but Haldir shook his head. Nay, he didn't know why Aragorn was this tense.
Elrond then appeared, smiling warmly at him, and Haldir's eyes narrowed, seeing the tiny shivers that coursed through the healer's body. He had seldom seen the Lord of Imladris upset, but he still recognized the signs. The question was, -why- was Elrond upset?
Glorfindel stepped inside, staying close to the doorway as if standing guard. Haldir looked from Elrond to Glorfindel and sensed the friction between the two Elves. Suddenly, Éomer's touch pulled him from this musings and he concentrated on controlling the pain that moved through his body now that the Man was helping him to his feet. He had 'convinced' Éomer to let him sit at the dining table instead of lying down. Éomer had refused at first, but Haldir had glared him into submission.
He leaned heavily on Éomer, hating his weakness, but drawing comfort from the fact that he was growing stronger again. Finally, he sat down, panting softly.
"You should not leave your bed yet," said Elrond in an admonishing tone.
Haldir eyed Elrond closely. "I am strong enough to make my own decisions."
Elrond sighed, knowing what this was about. "You wish to discuss this now?"
"Aye... sit down... please. It hurts my neck and back to look up at you." Haldir found that Legolas had also joined them, and the blond was sitting down next to Aragorn. On both their faces lay a serious and concerned expression. Glorfindel also sat down reluctantly, as far away as possible from Elrond. Haldir regulated his breathing and sought out Éomer's eyes. The Man sat next to him, but his eyes thoughtfully stared at the floor. "Elrond, tell me what you did when you pulled me back from Mandos." He noticed the way Glorfindel froze, hearing the name, and recalled that Elrond's seneschal had also visited the Halls of Waiting. Had the place seemed cold to Glorfindel as well?
Elrond drew in a deep breath and hoped his voice sounded steady and reassuring. "You were gone, and I was only able to pull you back by binding you to Éomer. It was his strength that brought you back." Elrond's voice became less melodic, less sure. "Éomer's life force keeps you alive." Haldir was intelligent enough to have figured this out by now.
"I am mortal now?" Haldir, saddened, stared at Elrond. "I will die the day Éomer does?" Next to him, Éomer shivered violently. "I do not blame you for this, Éomer. You acted honorably by offering your life force, but..." His gaze fastened on Elrond once more, "Why did you do it? Why not let me go?"
Elrond looked pleadingly at Glorfindel, hoping the blond would come to his aid, but his friend was lost in his own thoughts. His gaze shifted to Aragorn; maybe his foster son would know what to say, but Aragorn's eyes were clouded with emotion. In the end, only Legolas returned his gaze.
Legolas leaned in closer and gently took Haldir's hand in his. "There was so much death, Haldir, and we had the means to pull you back. Something good had to come out of this for us to believe their deaths weren't in vain. We needed to know you were alive, and all of us were willing to pay the price. Elrond made his decision and accepted Éomer's life force. I regret that you did not have a say in this, but we could not let you go."
"You will have to let me go in a few decades," reminded Haldir them. "I am no longer immortal..."
Elrond wrung his hands. Had he wronged Haldir? Should he have refrained from meddling?
"Do you prefer death then?" Éomer asked softly.
Haldir looked from Legolas to Éomer, wondering at the Man's obvious distress. "I thought I knew the answer to that question, but I no longer do. At first I rebelled against being bonded to a Man, but..." He waited for Éomer to look at him and only then did he continue. "I might be able to accept this."
Aragorn cleared his throat, drawing Haldir's attention to him. "Haldir, you do realize that Éomer is Théoden's heir? He will be Lord of the Mark when Théoden dies."
Haldir wondered why that should be important to him, but then he realized what Aragorn was hinting at. /Éomer can never leave Rohan... And I will never see the Golden Wood again. I am bound to him, which means I have to go where he goes. I will die in Rohan when he is old and grey./ The thought saddened him. Although Éomer was pleasant company, he longed for his brothers. They had rarely been separated and now he missed them.
"When I offered my life force I was afraid you would not approve, but..." Éomer stared at the wall, unwilling to meet Haldir's gaze. "At first I was just repaying Rohan's debt to the Elves, but..." Five pair of hope-filled eyes stared at him and he sighed before continuing, "but I find I like your company. I even enjoy our verbal sparring."
Haldir raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Aragorn says that you will be Lord of the Mark one day. How will your people react when they find out you are bonded with me? Won't they desire a Queen and an heir?"
/Damn you for bringing this up when I wanted to avoid discussing it!/ Éomer swallowed the words, unwilling to get into another argument. "I suggested Éowyn succeed Théoden, but the King is opposed to the idea. Her children could succeed me when I am dead; then Rohan would have a new King or Queen."
"But how will your people react?" The people of Rohan wouldn't want an Elf as the Lord's mate. Haldir shook his head. "Elrond, you should not have done this."
Éomer's eyes burned. "They will accept you at my side!" snapped Éomer angrily. "And I'm grateful Lord Elrond brought you back. Why must you be this damned stubborn, Haldir?"
Haldir smiled calmly at Éomer's outburst. "So you wish for me to stay?"
Éomer nodded once. "Why ask when you already know the answer to that question?"
"Maybe he needed to hear it," whispered Glorfindel absentmindedly. Realizing he had spoken out loud, he quickly apologized, but grew quiet when Éomer raised a hand.
Éomer probed Haldir's searching eyes. /Searching for what? The truth? My feelings?/ "I realize that staying alive means giving up your former life, but if there is anything I can do to make things easier on you, you must tell me. I do not want Rohan to become your prison when it should be your home."
Haldir looked at each of them, his gaze lingering the longest on Glorfindel. "You have been to Mandos, and returned as well. You are bound by an oath to Lord Elrond... Did you ever regret choosing life?"
Glorfindel's eyes widened at hearing that question. /Ai, Haldir, what do you want me to say? That I wish I had never returned, for now my heart is breaking because of Elrond's rejection? That I wish I had stayed at that cold and dark place, silently paying for my former arrogance with my solitude?/
"Glorfindel?" The blond's silence worried Elrond.
"Nay," said Glorfindel slowly. "I do not regret returning to Arda. I would never choose Mandos over a life in the woods or Rivendell. Make the best of the years offered to you. Taste life once more and enjoy it. Death might still come in battle and you should savor the joys of life as long as you can."
Elrond hoped none noticed him raising his hand to wipe away the single tear that escaped from his eyes. Glorfindel's sadness and solitude broke his heart.
Haldir considered Glorfindel's words and made his decision. "Then I choose life... A life at Rohan with a new mate..." But his heart still ached, longing for Lothlorien and his brothers.
Legolas beamed with joy and smiled happily at Haldir. Next to him, Aragorn sighed, relieved. Glorfindel still stared at the wall, lost in memories and Elrond nearly reached out to clasp Glorfindel's hand in his... nearly.
Legolas noted Elrond's awkward attempt at comforting Glorfindel and then the hasty retreat. /Glorfindel, our plan will work... I will -make- it work. Elrond will admit he loves you.../
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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