Warnings: Het pairing is implied, mildly non-con comfort
Summary: Rúmil's betrothed is killed by Orcs... Celeborn worries about him as he get more and more depressed.
Disclaimer: Middle-Earth and all characters in it are the property of the Tolkien estate. I have used them without permission in these fantasies, but I meant no harm, and make no profit.
A/N: There is one non-canon character in this story, a dead one. Her name is Gl”raewen, which means birdsong. Hurt-comfort.
Light and Love
Rúmil looked at his brothers, who were sitting at the other side of the small campfire. There was no need for secrecy anymore. They had found the band of Orcs that they had hunted only a few hours earlier, and they had slain them all. Orophin and Haldir looked content, but Rúmil could not join them in this feeling of accomplishment.
He could not forget the look on his beloved's face when she told him that for her the world now held only pain and grief. She had been gravely wounded while collecting herbs close to the Nimrodel. She and a few other Elves from the Healer's House had decided to replenish their stock of a few important medicinal herbs, one of which grew only at the far side of the Nimrodel at this time of year.
The small party had been surprised by a band of Orcs; most of them had been killed quickly, but Gl”raewen had been injured and left for dead, half concealed under the body of another Elf. The Orcs had apparently not seen that she was still alive, or they surely would have violated her further as was their wont.
One of the Galadhrim patrolling the borders had been the first to see the bodies. He had quickly sent for help, and some time later the bodies and the still breathing form of Gl”raewen had been carried back into Caras Galadhon, in the heart of the forest. Word had been sent to Rúmil immediately.
He had not left her side during the entire time that she fought against the shadows in her mind and soul. Slowly she grew colder and paler, but she regained consciousness from time to time. They had had only a little time to talk, but she had said to him that she did not want for him to grieve over her too long. She wanted him to be happy.
They spoke of the day that they had never had the time to experience. She had been attacked only a week before the appointed day, of their bonding together for all eternity. She had held his hand and smiled at him, saying that it mattered not, that their love was true, and they would meet again in the Blessed Realm. 'Rúmil,' she had said, 'do not cease to live because you wish to stay true to my memory. Do not close off your heart to the beauty and the joy around you...'
Later that night she had said that she needed to rest, and had slipped into a sleep from which she was never to awaken in the realm of Middle-earth. Rúmil could still hear in his mind that terrible absence of breath; one moment her breathing had been rather calm, albeit very shallow, and the next... only silence and stillness, no gentle movement of her chest anymore.
Rúmil had been beside himself with grief. He wanted nothing more than to hunt down and kill every Orc that he could find. The Lord and the Lady of Lothl—rien had eventually come to the decision that it might ease Rúmil's grief-stricken heart if he were to join in the hunt for the band of Orcs that had taken the life of his betrothed.
Several small hunting parties were formed to track down the Orcs, as a smaller number of Elves could move more swiftly and in greater secrecy. Rúmil, Orophin and Haldir were banded together, and set out two days after Gl”raewen had passed into the Halls of Mandos.
They were in luck and soon found the tracks of an Orc-horde, about ten strong, a little off the side of the river. For a few days and nights they followed it, at great speed, hoping that they would catch up with the Orcs before their numbers were increased.
The brothers had soon caught up with them, caught them, ambushed them and killed them. Rúmil had felled several of the foul Orcs with his bow, and had afterwards slit the throat of every single one of them, be they dead already or still breathing. But even this did not lift the cold pain in his heart.
Now they sat around the campfire, resting. Tomorrow they would go back to the Golden Wood and report that the Orcs were dead. Orophin looked at his brother with worried eyes. It seemed to him that there was still a fey look upon his face, and in his blue eyes. He offered Rúmil some lembas, which he took and ate in silence.
The next morning they set out for their home once more, and now they could journey more quickly, as they did not have to follow a track that wound this way and that over the plains.
Rúmil was silent for most of the journey back to Lothl—rien, and even though it was understandable given the grief and sorrow that he felt, still his brothers grew more and more worried. They did not recognize him any longer. He had changed so much, had turned dark and brooding, where he usually wore a smile and spoke kind words.
Well back in Caras Galadhon, Celeborn and Galadriel were pleased with their deed, and offered Rúmil some time off from his duties of border patrol, so that he would have time to grieve and regain his balance, but he would have none of it.
"Have I displeased you in any way, my Lord, my Lady, that you would take me from the patrol? Are my skills not to your satisfaction?" Rúmil's voice was hard and cold, and the rulers of the realm could not force him to stay at home and rest.
"It may help him to recover from his loss," Galadriel said to her husband. "He needs something on which to focus now, something other than his pain." Celeborn, however, was not entirely convinced. He cared deeply for this Elf, and something about him felt very wrong, but he did not question the wisdom of Galadriel. After all, there was nothing that could be done at that moment. Time would either heal or reveal the emotional wound.
Rúmil spoke little as he went about his duties, even to his brothers. One evening, several months later, Haldir decided to attempt to raise their grieving brother's spirits. They had used to enjoy going swimming in a small lake a little way outside of Caras Galadhon, but since the tragic death of Gl”raewen they had not been there even once.
Haldir and Orophin found Rúmil at the foot of the tree that housed his talan. He was sitting with his back to the tree trunk, making new arrows. The light of the setting Anor played among the leaves of the trees, imitating a rain of red gold, and the sight was breathtaking. But Rúmil did not notice the beauty around him.
"Rúmil, there you are. We have been looking for you," Haldir said with a smile as he sat down beside his brother.
"Why? I am always here, when I am not on patrol." Rúmil did not look up from his work, and his voice was strangely void of emotion. Haldir exchanged a look with Orophin. They had to try to break this spell that had fallen over Rúmil.
"The evening will be beautiful, and the stars will shine brightly tonight," Orophin said to him. "We are going to the lake, and you are coming with us." From the tone of Orophin's voice it could be heard that there was no room for argument.
Rúmil looked up at his brothers and sighed, seeing that they were determined to break his newfound habits and routines designed to keep his mind off the reality of his life. "If I go with you, will you then leave me alone for a while?"
Haldir and Orophin looked at each other. It was not the answer for which they had hoped, but at least he had not refused. Maybe he would become more like the Rúmil they knew and loved after doing something he had used to enjoy. They pulled him to his feet and immediately set out for the lake, leaving him no space in which to change his mind.
The evening was truly beautiful, and the light that played on the surface of the lake was dazzling. Haldir and Orophin soon shed their clothes and entered the water, taking great pleasure in the coolness and the illusion of weightlessness. Rúmil stood for a long while just looking at them before he removed his clothes after much taunting from his brothers.
Orophin tried to engage him in one of the many games they had used to play, but soon gave up when it became clear that Rúmil's heart was not in it. The brothers swam for a little while longer, and then they left the water and just sat on the grass, letting their bodies dry in the soft breeze.
They sat in silence; Haldir and Orophin hoping that the sight of the gems of the Lady Elbereth in the dark sky and reflected in the now dark waters would wake their brother to life again. But in the end they had to give up. Rúmil looked at what was there, but he did not see, and in many ways that was the way he felt to his brothers. Rúmil looked at them, spoke to them... but he did not see them, nor talk with them. It was like he was no longer there.
Finally, Orophin broke the silence. "Rúmil, we know that you are hurting, but what is wrong? Where is the brother we once knew?" His voice was full of concern and love. He missed his brother.
Rúmil was silent for a long while before he whispered, "I did not protect her." The pain in his voice was terrible to hear, especially since it was the first evidence of emotion that Haldir and Orophin had heard or seen from their brother for many months now.
"Rúmil, you were not there! How could you have known... or protected her?" Haldir tried to make Rúmil understand, make him see reason. "It was not your fault. And no amount of self-loathing will bring her back, muindor n”n." Rúmil did not answer; he simply rose to his feet and gathered his clothes, and left his brothers sitting by the lake.
As time passed, Rúmil became known for being fey. No matter how many were the foes that his patrol found, he would not wait for reinforcement, but jumped into battle at all times. He was still shrewd about it, and felled as many Orcs as he could with his bow before taking to the sword, and he never let anyone else into harm's way.
But it was apparent that he did not care much for his own life, and eventually his brothers essayed no more to force him into things that had once brought him pleasure and respite. The pain and frustration of failing became too great for them.
The yearday of Gl”raewen's death came and passed - a day that Rúmil spent alone, even though his friends and family had been determined not to let him do so. But he had left his talan long before dawn, and was nowhere to be found.
The next day, he was back to his duties the same as he ever was these days, and he said nothing of the previous day. His comrades in the patrol eyed him, but would not ask him where he had been or where he had gone, as he seemed loath to talk about it.
There came once more a day of great joy to the forest of Lothl—rien, a traditional celebration of the great year. This was the cause of many preparations and much planning. There would be a feast, and music and dancing, joy and entertainment. And, of course, there would also be the traditional speech from the Lord of the Wood.
For weeks the Wood was busy with the sounds and hurry of preparations. There was much that needed to be done before the feast, as there would arrive many guests to celebrate with them. Rúmil did not see much of his brothers during this time, for which he was grateful; it meant that he did not have to try to conjure up more excuses for not going with them to do cheerful things. Rúmil no longer had the heart for that. He did not want to have his spirits lifted. It simply hurt too much whenever anyone tried to drag him out of his numbness. He had found a way to be able to continue living, hiding from his pain, and he did not want to face it.
Not a day went past without him chastising himself for not having been able to save Gl”raewen, for not being close to the Nimrodel at that point in time so that he could have killed the Orcs, for letting her go there to collect those herbs, for... everything. Not a night went past without nightmares; nightmares in which his beloved accused him of killing her through negligence.
To try to go back to what his life had been while she was still alive was impossible. Every beautiful place reminded him of her. Everything that he had enjoyed doing he had also shared with her, and engaging in those activities without her... He could feel his heart breaking into smaller and smaller fragments.
Celeborn and Galadriel had discussed his condition many times, and had asked Haldir many questions. They were worried about Rúmil, and were often horrified to see the deep sorrow and the diminishing of his inner light, the absence of life force in his heart. There was a distinct sound of disharmony around him, for those who could hear it.
Galadriel said that there was not much more that she could do. If Rúmil turned away from the light of life only to embrace the darkness and emptiness in his soul, it was his choice. She still held hope for him returning from the brink of fading. "My Lord," she said. "He has stayed at the threshold; he may still choose love and light. Give him time."
Celeborn felt convinced that this once, Galadriel was wrong. A long time had already passed and Rúmil's light only lessened. He felt that the beauty of Lothl—rien would be greatly diminished if he faded. Time had indeed revealed Rúmil's wound, but had not cured it.
The day of the celebration arrived. The festivities started at noon on the first day, and would end at midnight on the third. The official feast was started by Lord Celeborn bidding his people and their guests a warm welcome and asking them to fully enjoy and indulge in the activities of the feast.
There was much laughter, and singing. There was storytelling and sharing of news. There was both delicious food and sweet pastries, and wine to drink.
Rúmil had tried to be included in the border patrols during the festival, as he felt no inclination to take part in it. But both Haldir, who was Marchwarden, and Lord Celeborn, who had the ultimate say in these matters, had refused his request. They were determined to keep him in Caras Galadhon.
On that first eve, Celeborn caught sight of Rúmil as he was walking among the trees just outside the circle of lights. He was walking away from the laughter and the singing and dancing that was taking place there, and there was pain written all over his face.
Celeborn rose to his feet and excused himself from the company, following Rúmil quietly into a calmer and quieter part of the forest. He found him standing with his back to a great mallorn tree, his eyes closed and his breathing ragged as if he had to fight back tears.
The Lord of Lothl—rien stole up to him silently and stood there for a while, simply studying Rúmil's haunted features. So beautiful, he thought, so beautiful and yet so sad. After a little while Rúmil opened his eyes, feeling Celeborn's gaze upon him.
"My Lord!" Rúmil's eyes widened in surprise. He looked over Celeborn's shoulder to see if they were alone, or if perhaps the Lady Galadriel had accompanied her husband. But he could see no one, and he looked back at Celeborn again.
Celeborn smiled at him. "I am worried about you, Rúmil. You have put yourself aside from the Galadhrim, and your heart is closed." He reached out and brushed back a stray strand of Rúmil's hair from his face.
"I have no desire to feel anymore, my Lord. The world holds so much pain and grief..." Rúmil's voice sounded hollow, and there was so much sadness in it.
"I know, Rúmil, I understand. But I see that you are on the brink of fading, and I worry," Celeborn said as he stepped closer, the concern he felt clearly reflected in the tone of his voice. Rúmil looked at him, not denying that he had indeed lost the will to live.
"Come back to us, Rúmil. Be one with the Galdhrim again," Celeborn said quietly. He leaned forward to brush his lips against Rúmil's. When Rúmil did not pull away immediately, Celeborn intensified the kiss, demanding entry to his mouth.
Rúmil was confused, his spirit still unwilling to return to this reality, still struggling to depart. He did not understand why his Lord was kissing him, but found that he could not refuse him. He parted his lips and opened his mouth at the nudge of Celeborn's hot tongue, and soon felt as if he was drowning in sensation.
Celeborn kissed Rúmil deeply, like a Lord taking what was rightfully his. There was no hesitation, or excessive gentleness. When Rúmil responded to his forceful exploration, Celeborn knew that he was receptive enough for what he wished to do. If Rúmil would not embrace the light, perhaps the light could embrace him.
Celeborn reached out with his own spirit, touching Rúmil gently, using the kiss as a bridge, a focal point. As he started to pour light and love into Rúmil, the archer started to struggle. He tried to break the kiss, to stop this flow of light. But Celeborn would not let go. He pushed Rúmil back harder against the trunk of the tree, and as Rúmil's struggles became more frenzied, Celeborn grabbed a handful of his long hair, keeping his head still.
The light felt blinding, burning through him. Rúmil wanted it to stop; it was so painful, remembering all that was good and beautiful in life. He felt his grief and sorrow begin to melt away in the intense, iridescent colours of a love so strong that it sent sparkling jolts of energy through his soul.
He tried to hold on to his grief. He felt that he owed it to her... that he deserved it for failing her. But in the end he could not. The light that Celeborn poured into him was too strong, and the love...
By the Valar! Did his Lord feel this way for him? Such intense love... Longing, need... but there was no demanding. The love was unconditional. Celeborn loved him, needed him... He needed him to be there, to be himself once again.
Rúmil found that he could not deny these feelings. He could not refuse his Lord, and he ceased to resist. He needed to feel loved, he realized. He wanted to be needed.
As Rúmil went still, Celeborn loosened his grip, and let go of his hair. Slowly he removed his mouth from Rúmil's and took a deep breath, as the kiss had been both long and intense, and also very, very enjoyable.
Celeborn wanted to give his archer all the love that he needed; he wanted him to enjoy life again. He was a little surprised at the intensity of his own feelings that he had shared with the other Elf but he knew that they were true. He wanted to share his joy with Rúmil, wanted to hold him in his arms.
Celeborn studied Rúmil's face as he waited for him to open his eyes. Rúmil looked different now somehow, but Celeborn could not be certain until he looked into his eyes. But there was colour in his face, his cheeks were flushed, and his presence was stronger than it had been before.
"My Lord," Rúmil said, and slowly he opened his eyes, his gaze meeting Celeborn's. "There is still much beauty to experience in the world." There was a new light in his blue eyes, shining strongly, and he raised a hand to the back of Celeborn's head and pulled him in for another deep kiss...
Nimrodel - a river on the borders of Lothl—rien
lembas - Elvish waybread, provisions during travel
Galadhrim - 'tree-folk', the Elves that lives in the forest of Lothl—rien
muindor nin - my brother
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