Chapter 6 – Lothlórien
I stood alone, arms crossed across my chest. Haldir had sent the others ahead to meet with Lady Galadriel.
He had insisted on seeing to my shoulder. I rolled it backwards, trying to ease the stiffness. I had not noticed, but infection had set in quickly. Haldir had peeled back my bandage, and immediately drew back. I had looked down to see that it had swollen, and gone an angry red. It was hot to the touch and green pus mixed with trickles of blood oozed from the bite marks. I knew that a bruise would bloom in a couple of days. A new bandage, soaked in the oil of lavender, had been applied.
I stood at the bottom of a set of stairs that led up to where Lady Galadriel was with the others. A slight wind played through my hair. My hair had been washed and let loose. It lay in gentle waves down my back, reaching down to my waist. My travelling clothes had been taken off me, to be washed and mended. I wore a simple, silver dress. It was sleeveless, and had a rounded neckline. The bodice was tightly laced at the back, defining the top half, but the skirt flared slightly from my hips, reaching down to lightly brush the tops of my feet. I wore no shoes; I was more comfortable that way.
Night had fallen on Lothlórien: it was quiet, and peaceful. Guilt washed over me in a wave. How dare I stand here, feeling calm and safe, while Gandalf lay broken at the bottom of a chasm? How could I allow myself to feel peaceful, when I was responsible for his death? I jumped when a hand landed on my shoulder.
"They are ready for you."
Haldir spoke quietly, his voice a soothing balm to my frazzled nerves. I nodded, hastily smoothing my skirt. Together we ascended the stairs. The stairs twisted around the trunk of a giant tree. It glimmered in the darkness with silver and blue lights. I looked up, and saw the shapes of the tree's branches looming above us, silhouetted against the night sky. We passed numerous platforms, until we came to a great palace lit with silver lights. A curving walkway lay before us, leading up a low stair to an archway. Three-pronged, golden leaves lay scattered on the floor. They gave the air a sweet scent. The others had gathered at the bottom of the low stair, in a line, with Legolas on one end and Boromir on the other. Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel stood at the top of the stair. A soft glow emanated from them, highlighting their faces. They were speaking in low voices to the group.
"What now becomes of this Fellowship? Without Gandalf, hope is lost."
I heard Lord Celeborn speak and bit my lip. The distress on his face was evident; I knew that Gandalf and he had been good friends. The glow coming from him dimmed with sadness, and I swallowed hard against the tears threatening to come to the surface. Haldir touched my hand. I looked at him and he flicked his eyes towards the others, motioning for me to go forward. I shook my head.
"The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail to the ruin of all."
Galadriel's voice was pensive, her eyes hard. I shivered slightly. Although I outranked her, I still followed her advice: she was wise beyond any Elf I had encountered and I respected her greatly. In some respects, I saw her as a mother. She filled the hole that my own mother had left, and I loved her dearly.
"Yet hope remains while the company is true."
She smiled suddenly at one of the Hobbits. I recognised his hair: Sam. I saw that Boromir's head was down, as if in shame. Galadriel opened her mouth to speak again, but closed it when she caught sight of me. Haldir touched my hand again, and with a bow in the direction of Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel, he descended the stairs. One by one, the others followed the direction of Galadriel's gaze and turned. I smiled tentatively, and the group smiled back, although the smiles did not reach their eyes. I walked forward and stood next to Legolas. His fingers twined through mine, holding them tight. I glanced at him in slight surprise, but did not pull away.
We had been dancing around each other for too long now. The love and trust that had existed between us before was still there and I was tired of trying to ignore it, and clearly, so was he. Giving his fingers a gentle squeeze, I looked up at Celeborn and Galadriel.
"Seraphina. Dhe nathlam hi. Gwannas lû and."
Celeborn smiled down at me, but the sadness did not recede from his eyes. I inclined my head, giving him the respect he deserved.
"I am sorry we arrived unannounced. We had need of a safe place after the…loss."
I choked on the last word. Celeborn's smile faded.
"I have heard about Gandalf."
Celeborn looked at Galadriel. They exchanged glances and Galadriel addressed us.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Go now and rest for you are weary with sorrow and much toil. Tonight, you will sleep in peace."
Her voice was kind, and she looked at each of us in turn. The others inclined their heads in thanks. An Elf materialised behind us. He motioned to follow him and the others turned and went down the stairs. Legolas let go of my hand; he somehow knew that I wanted to talk with Galadriel alone. Legolas hesitated at the top, looking back at me, face unsure. I nodded my head at him. I heard him sigh, and he descended the staircase. Celeborn came down the stairs in front of me and planted a soft kiss on my forehead. With a small smile, he too left. Galadriel looked at me thoughtfully. She walked over to a wooden bench at the side. She sat, and arranged her skirts around her.
"Come, sit with me."
She waved her hand at the bench. I slowly walked over. I seated myself next to her, settling back. The bench gave us a view of everything. I could see the small dots that were Elves moving about at the bottom.
"You hide something from me. What troubles you?"
Galadriel kept her tone neutral, but I could tell she was curious.
"I have many secrets, Galadriel. And all of them dark. I must hide them."
She chuckled and I looked at her in surprise.
"You think that I cannot read you? You are like an open book to me; a burden presses down on you. What is it?"
I avoided meeting her gaze, not wishing to see her expression when I spoke.
"I have failed."
Galadriel shifted to face me, tilting my head up so she could search my face.
"That is a heavy thing to say. I do not believe it."
I shook my head, tears starting to blur my vision.
"I was weak, slow. I could have saved him."
I whispered at first, the words thick in my mouth. In my mind's eye, I could see Gandalf falling, his robes billowing. I could see the accusing faces of the Fellowship as they silently blamed me for Gandalf's death.
"I COULD HAVE SAVED HIM!"
I yelled out and buried my head in my hands. Galadriel pulled me close to her, and I let myself go. Tears ran down my face, and my shoulders heaved with sobs. My throat burned, but still the tears could not stop. Why was I so weak? Why did I not save him? Galadriel rubbed my back, murmuring consolations. I clutched at her, trying to stop my body from shaking. Colours swirled and shifted behind my eyes, and my head throbbed faintly with pain. After a while, the tears stopped, and I slowly let Galadriel go, sitting up.
"You should not control your emotions, my child. Let them be free."
She spoke gently, stroking hair from my face.
"I cannot let the others see what I truly feel."
Galadriel raised her eyebrows, tilting her head slightly.
"And why is that? Do you assume that they would think less of you?"
I stood suddenly and walked to the edge, watching the Elves below for a moment. Finally, I spoke, not facing her.
"Yes. I have to prove myself to them, to show that I am worthy to accompany them on this quest. I cannot show weakness in any form, and that includes my emotions."
I breathed in deeply, looking out over the trees. Galadriel remained silent for a moment.
"Seraphina. Look at me."
Her voice was commanding and I reluctantly turned my gaze back to her.
"You do not need to prove yourself, least of all to your companions. If Elrond did not think you capable of assisting with this quest, he would not have let you go."
Galadriel's voice was low but full of passion; it seemed as if she had wanted to say this for a long time.
"Your past may be tainted, but it does not define you. Do not hide any longer. Open your heart, especially to your One in Particular."
I gasped and she laughed softly at the astonished look on my face.
"I saw the two of you together mere moments ago and the way you orientated yourselves around each other tells all. I know of your separation and yet here you both are. Your fates are bound together, and you are tied to one another. You still love him, and yet you push him away. Why?
My bottom lip trembled a little and I looked at her, trying to find the words.
"He left me; left me to pick up the pieces. Yet, I find myself understanding his decision more and more. He feels guilty, and I know he wants to be beside me again, and yet, I find the betrayal still cuts me."
Galadriel sighed deeply, and I was shocked to find an amused glint in her eyes.
"And have you told him of your feelings? I think not. Why you two never talk about your problems is beyond even me. Seraphina, let him back in to your heart. He belongs there."
With those words, Galadriel stood and approached me. Pressing a gentle kiss to my forehead, she bid me goodbye and walked through the archway, and up the stairs. I stayed where I was for a moment, collecting myself and my thoughts, before heading towards the stairs and descending them, in search of the Fellowship.
I found them in a cleared area by a huge tree. A few simple tents of blue and green cloth had been set up. A fountain burbled quietly nearby. I hung back by the fringes of the camp, unwilling to go in.
"Seraphina. You cannot distance yourself forever."
Legolas' quiet voice interrupted my jumbled thoughts. He stood in front of me, dressed in a clean tunic and leggings. I looked in to his eyes, and instead of anger and accusations, I saw only lightness, marred by grief. As I studied him, I felt myself drawn to him, as if pulled by an invisible rope. Maybe Galadriel was right – maybe I was being far too closed off.
Legolas smiled, and held out a hand. Taking it, I walked in to the camp with him. The Hobbits were settling down to rest; Gimli sat near them, with Aragorn resting nearby. Boromir sat a little distance off, among the roots of the tree. I let Legolas lead me over to the Hobbits. He let go of my hand with a squeeze, and moved off towards the fountain.
I sank to the ground, crossing my legs. The four Hobbits looked at me for a moment. As if sharing the same thought, all four flung themselves at me with a force that almost knocked me over. A surge of happiness rose in me. They did not blame me for Gandalf's death at all. As if hearing my thoughts, the Hobbits looked up at me. Their faces were less grief stricken, and calmness had settled over them. I returned their grins, allowing myself to feel something other than the numbness that had taken over me since losing Gandalf. Seemingly satisfied, the hobbits returned to their preparations for rest.
Suddenly, voices rose on the gentle breeze. I froze for a second, and then relaxed. Tears sprung to my eyes as I realised that they were singing a lament for Gandalf. One voice rose above the others:
A Olórin i yaresse… (Olórin who once was…)Mentaner i Numeherui (Sent by the Lords of the West)Tírien i Rómenóri (To guard the Lands of the East)
Melme nóren sina (Our love for this land)núra ala (Is deeper than the deeps)Eäro… (Of the sea…)
I listened to her, with my head bowed.
"Why are they singing?"
Pippin asked, his voice croaky; even in grief, he was still curious.
"It is a lament for Gandalf."
Legolas answered him, his voice strained. I lifted my head as a wave of pain coursed through me. Instinctively, I knew it was his and despite wanting to comfort him, I felt a little welling of happiness. Our bond seemed to not have dimmed over the years.
"What do they say about him?"
Merry piped up, he, too, now curious. Legolas closed his eyes, and turned his head away. When he turned back, his cheeks shone with tears.
"I have not the heart to tell you. For me, the grief is still too near."
He walked away slowly. My necklace burned as I shared his grief. I wanted comfort him, but something held me back. He needed to be alone; I knew him well enough that I knew he would push me away if I tried to help.
"I bet they don't mention his fireworks. There should be a verse about them."
Sam announced suddenly, his voice determined. He stood up, and began to sing:
The finest rockets ever seen,They burst in stars of blue and green,Or after thunder, silver showers,Came falling like a rain of flowers.
"Oh, that doesn't do justice by a long road!"
Sam muttered to himself, sitting down again with a thud.
"You underestimate yourself, Sam. You have a beautiful voice."
I looked at him, a small smile on my face. He beamed at me, and his expression turned thoughtful.
"Do you sing, Seraphina?"
I raised an eyebrow, looking at him curiously.
"On occasion, yes…"
Sam exchanged glances with his fellows and drew closer to me.
"Sing a verse for Gandalf!"
Sam pleaded with me and I began to shake my head but the look on his face made me stop. The other Hobbits had sat up, and were staring at me, and even Gimli and Aragorn looked interested. Sighing, I took a deep breath. I looked up at the canopy of leaves above us, dappled by the moonlight. I focused on the stars, and let my sorrow pour out of me in song.
Maiaron i Oiosaila, (Wisest of all Maiar,)Manan elye etevanne (What drove you to leave)Nórie i malanelye? (That which you loved?)
Ilfirin nairelma (Yet we will cast all away)ullume nucuvalme. (Rather that submit.)Nauva i nauva... (What should be shall be...)
I drew out the last note, letting my voice soar. As the last note faded away, I felt lighter, as if my guilt, my anger, my grief had been lifted with the song. Turning, I saw that the Hobbits had fallen asleep. Even Frodo looked peaceful. I smiled, and rose from where I was sitting. Gimli was slumbering too, snores erupting from his nose. I chuckled softly to myself, and noticed that Aragorn has disappeared. I looked around and spotted him sitting with Boromir.
"Leave them be. Boromir seems upset, and I feel that only Aragorn can alleviate his worries."
Legolas spoke from behind me. I nodded, still watching the two men. I jumped when I felt arms wind round my waist.
"You are safe for now, Seraphina. Allow yourself to relax. I will protect you."
His voice was soothing, and I leaned back against his chest, resting my head on his shoulder. We stood for a while, simply enjoying each other's presence. Legolas gently untangled himself, and lead me over to an alcove behind the tents. It was carved out of the trunk of the tree, and made a shallow cave, big enough for two people. It was completely hidden, only accessible by the way we came.
"I know how much you dislike not being able to see the stars at night."
Legolas explained, waving a hand towards the arrangement. I smiled at him, and walked towards the blankets. I settled down, drawing my knees in to my chest. Legolas sat next to me, not saying a word. Silence enveloped us like a cocoon. I leant against his shoulder, feeling his warmth.
The words slipped out of my mouth without warning and he stiffened almost instantly. I pulled away from him, slightly embarrassed.
"Is that what you think?"
His voice was strained but yet he managed to sound confused. For some reason, it tipped me over the edge. Feelings of betrayal, anger, grief; emotions I thought I had buried long ago suddenly surged to the surface and I faced him, eyes blazing.
"What was I supposed to think? You left me! You walked out of my life with naught but a short farewell. I was alone, Legolas, so alone. How could you leave me? When I married you, after you saved me, you promised to always be there for me. You broke that promise! I was left with nothing and I had to pick up the pieces by myself. I loved you and you ripped my heart to shreds!"
I fell silent, my fury suddenly abating. Without warning, Legolas grabbed my shoulders, his own eyes burning.
"You did not let me in! I tried so hard after she…passed but you refused my help. I was losing you and I could not sit and watch you fade. It broke me, Seraphina, to see you retreat from the world; retreat from me. Nothing I did made any difference; you pushed me away. You could barely look at me; every time I tried to touch you, you turned away; all my words fell on deaf ears. I so desperately tried to save you from the abyss, but you fell anyway. I did not want to walk away, but you had left me no choice."
I was too shocked to speak as Legolas revealed his reason for leaving. My throat constricted, my breath coming in harsh gasps as I held back the tears. The look on his face broke me and I let the tears flow as I leant in to him.
"Díheno nin. Díheno nin."
I sobbed the words, clutching at his tunic. Legolas responded by pulling me closer, face burying in to my hair. His own tears fell as we both released the thousands-year old grief we had kept locked inside.
After what seemed like hours, I calmed down. Pulling away enough to wipe away my tears, I looked up at Legolas. His eyes were shining, tears still glimmering but he had control of himself. He extracted himself from me, and reached up to a chain round his neck. Confused, I tilted my head; I had not noticed it before. Gently, he pulled the chain up and over his head. He cradled it in his hands and then opened them.
My breath froze in my chest as I saw what was on the chain. Two thin silver rings sat in his palm, glinting in the light of the stars that filtered through the canopy of leaves above us. My eyes flew to his face to see him smiling softly at me.
"You kept them."
Legolas nodded and began removing the slightly smaller ring from the chain. Once he had got it off, he looked at me, expression sombre.
"Will you accept this ring back, Seraphina?"
Mutely, I nodded and he slipped the ring on my left ring finger. It fit perfectly and I stared at it for a few moments, a little astonished at how much I had missed feeling its coolness against my skin.
Elven weddings were sacred. We married for life and death – spouses would be reunited in the death if one happened to perish before the other. Although the vast majority of Elves chose their spouses when still very young, Legolas and I had found each other very late in life. The Valar set our path out for us and we accepted that; it did not matter that we had been united late in life – it only mattered that we had found each other.
Legolas and I had given each other the silver rings, as tradition dictated, when we had decided to be married, and just over a year later, we were wedded. Many happy centuries passed, and then…I shook my head, not wishing to think upon the tragedy that had forced us apart. I could hardly remember that time. All I did know was that I had screamed at Legolas when he informed me of his leaving, and had thrown the ring at him. For me to give the ring back to him was a hurt of the highest order and I had fully expected him to destroy the rings. For him to have kept them, holding them close to his person at all times – it only proved that he had never stopped loving me.
I reached up and cupped his face in my hands, resting my forehead against his. Happiness radiated from me in almost tangible waves and I knew Legolas could feel it. The emptiness that had formed when he had left had already begun to fade, a warmth taking its place.
"Sevidh i veleth nîn n'uir, Legolas Greenleaf."
A brilliant smile lit up his face and before I could stop him, his lips met mine. I melted against him, returning the kiss. His hands tangled in my hair and I pressed myself further in to his chest, as if trying to make us as one. When air was needed, we broke apart, both of us breathless. Legolas shifted and lay down, pulling me with him. I lay with my back against him, his arm draped across my waist. Feeling secure in the arms of my One in Particular, my eyes fluttered closed. Just before sleep claimed me, Legolas' whispered words drifted to my eyes.
"Anthon 'ûr nîn anden; annon veleth nîn anlen."
Ahh! Cutie-pies! I know you might be a wee bit confused as to their past but all shall be explained in later chapters! Keep reading on, my lovelies!
Seraphina. Dhe nathlam hi. Gwannas lû and – Seraphina. You are welcome here. It has been too long
Nin gwerianneg – You betrayed me
Díheno nin – Forgive me
Sevidh i veleth nîn n'uir, Legolas Greenleaf – You have my love for eternity, Legolas Greenleaf
Anthon 'ûr nîn anden; annon veleth nîn anlen – I give you my heart; I give you my love