To The Halls of Mandos

Chapter 7

"So much death. And yet it is not over."

Aragorn, Theoden King, Legolas, Gimli and their two companions surveyed the battlefield, the carcasses of orcs, men and Elves littering the plain and the deeping wall. The old wizard, Gandalf the White sighed heavily, "All these long years, I have been in Middle Earth. I have been through many battles. And yet death never stopped to make me melancholy."

"That makes all of us, Gandalf." The newcomer, Eomer of the Riddermark, nodded as he pushed the carcass of an orc with his boot, "Dark times indeed."

"There is much to be done." Gandalf said, "So many men to bury... to pray for and care for. The dead need as much care and respect even in death, especially if they are like these brave souls. But let us find the corpse of Haldir, and give it a proper burial. "

The six companions headed to where Aragorn left Haldir, and when they were near, the Ranger's brows furrowed. "Who is this?"

A soldier, his hair tangled on his face, was holding on to Haldir's hand. Haldir looked at peace, his eyes open in death, and his other hand held the soldier's, their fingers intertwined.

There was flicker of fear on Theoden King's face, "No!" He knelt down and slowly, he drew away the hair of the soldier. He sighed heavily as the face of a woman he knew met his gaze.

"Il-ya..." Theoden King sighed in regret, "I told you not to battle..."

Eomer kneeled down at the corpse and turned it's face, "Il-ya? Daughter of Lord Eoren? What is she doing here?"

Theoden King sighed, "He sent her to my care before the Easterlings killed thim and the people in their village." He said as he touched the girl's face, "I have told her to not fight, for she will be killed. It seems her wish to avenge her father is much stronger than her resolve to follow her king."

"I met her." Aragorn said, "In the battlefield. She fought with such strength and courage and skill that I thought she was a man."

"But what is she doing beside Haldir?" Gimli said, and Aragorn shook his head. "This was not the way I left Haldir..."

But Gandalf knelt down and looked at the two, and a knowing, gentle smile filled his lips. "I have walked and traveled around Middle Earth to know such a look." He straightened and looked at all of them, "They fell in love."

"In the battlefield? Between an Elf and a Woman?" Legolas said.

"The love between Haldir and this... Il-ya... is no different than the love between Beren and Luthien... or between you and Arwen, Aragorn." He added, "Love happens when it will. It will not choose a place or a time or a circumstance. They fell in love, in the midst of a war. They died bravely, but their love shall carry on beyond death. This I am sure."

Gandalf knelt down again, taking the intertwined hands of Haldir and Il-ya. He touched Haldir's forehead, and then Il-ya's, bowing his head in prayer, "Hiro hyn hîdh ab 'wanath."

Legolas and Aragorn placed their hand to their hearts. "Hiro hyn hîdh ab 'wanath." They echoed, "Belain na le. Namárië..."

Eomer mentioned to a couple of his men, and they came over, carrying a stretcher. "Carry them together into the castle." He said, "They loved each other, and they died together. I do not wish to seperate such a tragic but beautiful sight."

Gandalf watched Eomer, Aragorn and Legolas carry the two bodies gently and with much respect. They seemed saddened, but Gandalf was smiling gently. He looked up, into the morning sun and whispered.

"May you meet in the Halls of Mandos."

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