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Chapter 4: Meet me in your garden – or – Peace, Love, and Crabs

They walked back into and through Caras Galadon, Bronwyn was acutely aware that she was being silently watched by all the inhabitants of the city as they quietly passed. There were eyes hidden by huge mallorn leaves and lights. She couldn’t tell if they were friendly or not! Haldir and Bronwyn spoke not a word to each other as they noiselessly made their way to the southern slope.

The grasses and earth were cool and soft beneath her bare feet and there were neither roots nor stones for her to stumble on. She could vaguely hear sweet Elven voices, singing high in the trees and she found it beautiful. Although inside her being, she harbored uncertain thoughts and a hammering heart, she put up a front of quiet confidence in her bearing and walk. She was proud in her step, despite her wet hair, lying in wet knots around her shoulders. She was not awed or afraid of the towering Elf leading her through to Galadriel’s garden. They wove through tall trees with winding stairwells and twinkling lights. As they moved closer to the middle the city, she could hear sounds of talking, music, baking, every day noises and she realized she missed it. They veered off the main road and went down a small pathway, through an immensely high and exquisitely well-manicured hedge. Once through, they were in a garden of majestic proportions. Flowers of red and white were glorious in bloom and they covered walls and trellises with thick foliage. In patches around well-manicured paths, ground flowers of pink, purple, and white grew under the love of the sun. The wondrous smell assaulted Bronwyn’s nostrils and she took it all in. Someone was playing a stringed instrument in the background – it was not her doing, she did not know the song – and Galadriel serenely stood up from her bench and walked over, hands out- stretched in greeting.

“Mae govannen – Welcome Bronwyn, to my garden. May you find it ever peaceful for your needs and a restful refuge from all that is tiresome.” Smiling, she clasped Bronwyn’s hands with her own.

Bronwyn dipped her head. “Thank you, My Lady.” She looked at Haldir, in question. “Am I supposed to curtsy or anything?” she whispered to him.

“Curtsy? To me? Bronwyn, no. And you may call me Galadriel.”

Mentally, Haldir’s head reeled. The Lady and her husband had always been a friend to Haldir and his family for several millennium, but he always knew his place as servant and never had either Galadriel or Celeborn invited him, the March Warden, to call them by name, as an equal. It had never crossed his mind! Galadriel turned to him. “You have been ever watchful of our guest for several days, laying aside your responsibilities and duties in order to do so and I am pleased with your service in this regards. Your good care of her health shows in her glowing. Her vitality is returning, in thanks to you. ” Haldir breathed a sigh of relief, thinking he was about to be released from his responsibility to her. “You have things you would like to do and you need to spend time with your wardens to catch up on the dealings with the patrols on the Fence. Do not be troubled for her today. I will keep watch over her and you may come and retrieve her before the evening meal.”

“Retrieve me? Am I a puppy? Bronwyn blurted.

“Retrieve her?” Haldir was equally confused.

Galadriel looked at Haldir and spoke in Silvan. “I have not yet released you from your responsibility. She has not regained what she needs and she is still not totally healed. You may have your days free, as long as someone can be with her, but your responsibility still continues. She is still your charge, Haldir. You will remember that. Now go about to your other duties.”

Haldir was stunned. His Lady had never dismissed him as a common anything. His temper, which had been simmering had now reached a breaking point. A muscle twitched in his jaw. “Yes, My Lady.” By the tone of his voice, one would have thought nothing was wrong, but Bronwyn could see the set of his shoulders and his spine and knew that some poor soul on the Fences was going to get a rough ride. Haldir turned to Bronwyn and put his hand to heart. “Until evening meal, Lady Bronwyn, I hope you enjoy your day.” He turned on heel of his boot and strode proudly away.

She looked at Galadriel. “I don’t think he is very happy.”

“Sweetness.” Galadriel caressed her cheek. ” Haldir is never happy. He is ever stern and ever arrogant. He lives to brood.” She watched the back of the retreating March Warden. She motioned for Bronwyn to follow her to the bench. “Let us not talk about him right now. Let me take a good look at you.” She stepped back and perused her with a critical eye. Bronwyn felt…

…like a horse at auction. Should we smile and let her check my teeth?

“The dress is beautiful and it is a beautiful color on you, but I do not believe it fits you well, does it?” Bronwyn shook her head, negatively. “Well, there is not much to be done for it. By the time we have you fitted for something, I am afraid you will be leaving us and moving towards your destined path.”

“I have my own clothes. This was not really necessary.” As soon as the words left her lips, she immediately was afraid she had said something offensive. She amended, “This is the most breathtaking garment I have ever worn and I am very truly grateful for it.”

Galadriel smiled and took her by the arm, as they strolled down a well-tended path. “I realize you have clothes with you, but would you like to know a secret?” Bronwyn cocked an eyebrow in question. Galadriel raised a finger in delay. “Rúmil. I believe your brother will be wanting you soon. You may go for today.”

Haldir’s brother came out from behind a bush, brushing leaves and dirt from his leggings. “Yes, My Lady. I will be back when I am free again.” He pressed his hand to his heart and smiled rakishly at Bronwyn, his eyes fixated on hers. He turned and strode out of the garden. “I believe he has had a good morning. I hope it overshadows his older brother’s.”

“My La…” Galadriel’s finger went up, “…Galadriel. May I ask a question that is probably none of my business?” Bronwyn paused. She had not understood a word of the exchange, but it was apparent that Rúmil was weeding the garden, a not so normal chore for an archer. “It was my understanding that weeding in your garden was a punishment. What did Rúmil do to warrant something as this?”

Galadriel scowled at the shrubbery. “Believe me, the crime does not fit the consequences. I would override the bestower of the penalty, however he is going to be tried sorely over the next few weeks and to publicly nay say his authority would have damaging effects on his command. Besides,” she shrugged elegantly and smiled, “Rúmil bargained for the punishment, as did his brother, so they will have to live with it.” She looked down at Bronwyn. “You, my dear, are turning unattached Elven heads and a few attached ones, as well. ‘Tis the first time many have had a chance to look and observe closely a human Woman. They are finding the experience, shall we say, uplifting and some cause for merriment.” She sat down on a bench and gestured for Bronwyn to sit at her feet. “Please come and be comfortable and amuse an old Elleth. Your hair lies in damp clumps. May I brush it dry and arrange it?” Bronwyn sat and presented her head to The Lady of the Wood, feeling rather self-conscious, that this imposing figure whom many revered was playing in her hair.

“Why would I be the cause of merriment? And you are not old!” She heard Galadriel laughing gently.

“I am older than you would ever believe and if you were a young male or same sexually inclined, I would say you were trying to soften me up with honeyed words. Now, as for the source of the merriment, you have rather prominent breasts. Our people are not used to that and they wonder how sensitive they are and what they would feel like.” Bronwyn took a sharp intake of breath, stunned by her directness. “Oh, do not fear them. Elves are not in the habit of really taking anyone by force against their wishes. They will not do so to you. They would not get past Haldir.” Galadriel had a brush and was gently coaxing the tangles from the mass of hair. “I have never seen hair like this, not in its thickness, nor in its shade. It is another thing we find fascinating about you. It is lovely.” She was aware that Bronwyn was being lulled by the stroking motion of the brush. “Now, would you like to hear the secret?”

Bronwyn nodded.

“Haldir yearned to see you clothed thus.”

“No way!” Bronwyn jerked her head around. “He wanted to see me dressed like this?”

Galadriel turned her head back away from her, so she could continue brushing the dampness away. “Yes. He desired to see you clothed in something beautiful and delicate. What did he say when he saw you dressed in this?”

“He said I looked presentable.” Bronwyn muttered pevishly.

“Ah. What a nice compliment from Haldir.” Galadriel continued stroking her hair. There was silence for a few, precious moments.

“Haldir wanted to see me like this?”

“Yes.”

“He told you this.”

“No. He did not have to tell me. I could see it, sense it.”

“Oh.”

The brushing continued for many minutes. Her hair was thick and it took time for the strands to be coaxed to give up the moisture drenched to the roots. Galadriel watched as the guarded set of her shoulders and back relaxed and unbristled. She was aware that in the air, music that she had never heard was playing. It was flawless, peaceful and reminded one of the sounds of the forest. Instruments she did not know existed soared in heights of melodic waves. Bronwyn’s eyes were closed, her breathing shallow. She was not asleep, but she was completely relaxed. Her head and right hand moved with the melodic line.

“Bronwyn.”

“Yes”. Her voice was soft, in a place far away.

“What manner of music are we listening to?”

“Ah. Beethoven. Sixth Symphony. The Pastorale.” Bronwyn spoke slowly, as in a deep, lingering trance.

“It is beautiful.”

“Yes. It is.” A long pause ” He was losing his hearing when he wrote it. It was his goodbye to nature.”

Galadriel laid the brush down. Her hair was dry. She began to attempt to weave it in a style she knew best. “How sad. He was never able to compose again?”

“Oh. He wrote his best music when he lost his hearing completely.” They listened to the music while Galadriel attempted to weave her hair. When the music gave out its last note, Galadriel dropped her hands in mock despair.

“Oh, I give up! Your hair refuses to braid and lay properly. The ends keep escaping and playing with my fingers! Here! Stand up and look at me.”

Both women stood, light over the dark. Bronwyn took her fingers and mussed through her locks. They fell in place in a riot, framing her face. “I have worked for over an hour,” Galadriel mused, “and you have accomplished in seconds what I could not. Come, let us walk.” They strolled through the garden, Galadriel watching Bronwyn take in every flower. She asked for each name, when it bloomed, how easy or hard was it to care for. She smelled every one. Every now and then she would comment on how this one looked familiar, or she called it by a different name. Hyacinths, Impatiens, Darwin tulips, Salome and White Hood Daffodils, –

“-have you seen yellow daffodils? They are so happy.” –

so many flowers she knew. “Camillas,” she said at one shrub, her fingers stroking the petals. “This is a Camilla back home. I love them almost as much as…” her voice drifted off and she stopped walking.

“As much as what, Bronwyn?” Bronwyn was very quiet.

“As much as roses.” The voice was quiet. There was a long silence. “I am lost.”

Galadriel stood behind her. Bronwyn was staring into the trees. “I am lost,” she repeated.

“Yes you are.”

“I want to go back home.”

“I am sorry. That will not happen.”

“I want to go back home. I want my cottage. I want my life. I want what was taken from me, returned.” Her voice, while terse, was far away, dream-like.

“I am sorry, Bronwyn. That is not your destiny.”

Even Tari, wife of Oreme, has grieved your loss, but accepted what the Valar have done to you.

“I am poured out. Empty.”

“Yes you are.” Galadriel enclosed her in embrace. “But, you will be content if you would accept all and allow it.” She felt Bronwyn’s body stiffen and stand taller. The moment had passed. She hoped it would be enough to set her over. Bronwyn stepped out of the Elleth’s arms.

“What is that glade over there?” She started towards it. Galadriel reached out and gently grasped her elbow.

“No, not today, sweetness. That is where my mirror rests and perhaps soon, we will go look at it.” She gently turned her around. “It is time for lunch and then Alilian is bringing your clothes and the bow Legolas gifted you. You will be going to the archery field to work with her for several hours.” She took her by the hand and led her away from the glade. You are taking steps toward the truth, she thought, but you are not ready for that. Will it revelation shatter you again? “Come, food is waiting.”

Galadriel led her from the garden to a large white talan, high in the trees. There, they feasted on fruit and salad greens, with sweet onions and dressings and a light fruity wine. Celeborn joined them and together, he and his wife watched as their guest daintily gorged herself with food. Alilian came with the clothes and the boots she wore when she arrived, only now they were clean and smelled fresh. And she brought an extra bag of things plus Legolas’ bow. Alilian handed Bronwyn the bag and Galadriel explained that the elleth had gone through the roll and taken things she thought Bronwyn might need.

Celeborn looked at Galadriel, while Bronwyn went into another part of the talan to change. “Is this wise?” he asked. “My love, I would never question your judgment. But it has not been that long.”

“She needs the exercise. She is not the type to lounge in bed or even in a garden, allowing servants to run and wait on her every need. Her body is healing, her mind, although she fights it, is also moving her towards her destiny. She will need to be whole in both mind, body and spirit when the time comes, and time grows painfully short.” She reached over and held her husband’s hand. “Already, abilities are coming to her in relaxation. When she learns to control them, they will be a great source of power and will aid her maneuverability to persuade those that would not be persuaded. Today, she will tire and her body will be too exhausted to hold back all of her demons. Tonight, the turning begins in earnest. And Haldir will do what he must to help her though it.”

They heard noises in the doorway and saw Bronwyn comically jumping around, pulling on a boot. When she stood up full, it took Celeborn’s breath.

The warrior had returned.

***

Alilian had gone to help her, really more interested in how all her things came on and fit and where all the strange clothing went. Bronwyn laid the clothes on the bed and took a quick mental inventory.

And smiled a wicked smile.

I never thought I would see the day when I missed my bra!

Her undergarments were there. These were her one indulgence – or they had been her indulgence. She turned her back to Alilian and lifted up her hair. The elleth deftly undid the fasteners and Bronwyn gratefully stepped out of the dress. She laid it tenderly on the bed, but she was grateful to get out of its confines. She stood naked in the room, unconcerned for the first time in…

…ages…

…of her nudity. She picked up the first undergarment and looked. It was black.

Bronwyn! Get real! They are all black!

It was… she closed her eyes and thought. Underwear. Panties. In a style she preferred. While other women were wearing…

…butt floss…

…she continued to wear French bikinis. She quickly slipped into them and picked up the bra. It was wired, fully supportive and made of smooth satin. She heard a questionable noise. She turned around. Alilian reached out and fingered the cup. She seemed disturbed with the wire.

“Bra.” Bronwyn said the word slowly. “Bra”

“Brrrrrrrrr-ah” Alilian repeated.

Bronwyn slipped it around and hooked it up. She got the shoulder straps set in place and setting her breasts in place, breathed a comic sigh of relief. Alilian looked pained. She then turned to the bag. Black hair fasteners and bands with her other toiletries where there. Her make up bag, which Haldir had apparently left, was also there. She put the bands on her left wrist and picked up the clothing and proceeded to shock Alilian to the tips of her pointed ears.

***

Both Celeborn and Galadriel arose from the table. Her pants, had they asked, were made of black denim, skin tight, showing the generous curves of her derriere. It laced up in the front. Her shirt was of black gauze, with a low vee neck. Although loose and comfortable, it molded to her breasts. The wrists were elegantly ruffled and rather than gathered around the cuffs, were tied around the wrist. The sleeves were full and she had on black leather gauntlets. The shirt was tucked in and around her neck hung a black leather cord with a silver cross. Her boots, cleaned and polished, were of supple leather, black and were tucked under her pants. Her hair was loose. Fire highlights shone through it in the sunlight. She moved gracefully into the room. Celeborn could smell her. Flowers and leather. What a combination. He glanced at his wife. She had caught him unawares and was smiling in that knowing manner of hers.

The warrior caught their glance.

And impishly grinned.

***

Gonna raise hell…
If what I’ve heard is true
There’s not much I can do
Gonna raise hell…

(Cheap Trick)


***

The woman and the Elleth made their way down to the archery field. Bronwyn was again aware of the unseen and quiet eyes on her as she walked by. She carried Legolas’ bow – she would always consider it his bow, although he had gifted it to her – in her hand. She walked almost as silently as the elleth and carried about her a confidence that was not artificial. She was graceful, elegant, albeit, diminutive next to Alilian. The air parted as both females walked silently down into the fields. They passed the watchtower, not realizing that a cold pair of eyes watched them from its shadows. Haldir had looked up from reports in time to see Rúmil, Orophin, and Heridil wander to the doorway.

“Orophin, it looks like Alilian is going to see what the Brave One can do with the prince’s bow.” Orophin nodded. Rúmil looked at his little brother. “I will wager you a week of penance that she hits the target at least nine out of ten times.”

Orophin considered the wager. He had heard Legolas’ and Aragorn’s praise of her skill with the knives and knew that Legolas was equally impressed with her bow skills. But he also remembered that Legolas had been preoccupied while Bronwyn had been proving her skills. “Make it two weeks and you are on! Her skill might be decent, but I do not think she is that good.”

Haldir was not pleased that work, which had gone on in a disgustingly smooth manner in his absence, had come to a complete halt to watch that Woman. He got up to remind his archers of their duties, when he got a good look at Bronwyn. He caught his breath. She was tiny from up in the tower, but delectably made. She looked like she had been poured into her leggings. She had set the bow perpendicularly in the dirt and was resting her hands on it, feet apart, while Alilian fetched a quiver and arrows for her. Her back was straight, proud and although he could not see her face, he could tell she was contemplating the target.

Alilian helped her into the quiver and Bronwyn struggled to reach over her shoulder for the arrow. She looked at Alilian and said quietly, “You know, I will be mightily incensed if we have an audience.” Alilian looked at her, not comprehending. Bronwyn looked into the tower and saw a small crowd gathered around the top.

Oh well, she sighed. So much for that!

Haldir stood to one side, eyes narrowed, arms across his chest. Allian looked up and saw the Elves. She patted Bronwyn on her shoulder and shook her head as if to say, “Do not mind them!” Alilian liked the tiny woman – The Brave One – they were calling her. She would have never believed it had she not been there, that Bronwyn had withstood the terrors of Moria alone. Alilian would not go near that place unless she had a full contingent of archers with her – including Orophin and both of his brothers. She noticed Bronwyn had turned and was looking up at Haldir. She was using the tip of the arrow to scratch down her back beneath her bra and she had arched out, straining against her blouse, relishing the scrape on her back. Alilian realized she was giving all the Elves in the tower something to make them wilt. A rather mischievous smile was on her mouth.

She turned back to Alilian and said, “Shall we begin?” She notched the arrow and turned towards the nearest target. She lifted the bow, carefully took aim and released the bow.

It landed three feet in front of the target.

Bronwyn looked at Alilian, who in turned looked at the arrow in the grass. “Well, that sucked!” Bronwyn grinned at Alilian with all the humor she could muster. She struggled to get another arrow out of the quiver and notched it. She set her aim. Alilian tapped her on the shoulder and pushed her bow hand up a few inches. She steadied her aim and let the arrow go again.

It fell two feet in front of the target.

Heridil looked down at the two women. “It is her grip.” He raised his voice to Alilian. “Check her grip.” He had heard the stories as well, had seen the brothers carry her in. He wanted to see the tiny brunette set all three brothers back on their haunches.

Bronwyn looked up at the elleth. Alilian smiled and moved her hand on the bow, rearranging her fingers. She struggled with a third arrow and notched it. Aiming it at the target and raising it a few more inches, she shot again.

This time, she overshot the mark, the arrow gracefully arching into the woods behind the targets. Enraged yells rose up from the forest. Orophin began to laugh. He punched his brother in the arm. “Two weeks more, Rúmil! It looks like you spoke too soon.” Haldir had seen enough. She had almost shot a returning archer from the Fences. He started to head down to the field, to take control of the situation before it got out of hand. Rúmil held him back and looked at Orophin. “Be patient. Watch.”

Bronwyn was looking up into the tower, having heard the laughter. Her eyes narrowed and her attention fixed on Haldir. He wasn’t laughing. He looked like stone. Her gaze returned to Alilian. The Elleth was looking at her with compassion and pity. She would be damned before she allowed anyone to pity her! She handed her the bow. “Hold this.”, she said in a commanding tone. She shrugged out of the quiver and retrieved the bands from her wrist. Deftly, she wove her hair into a bound ponytail, with the first band at the back of the top of her head, with additional knots every inch. Nothing was left on her face but her bangs, her hair crisscrossed on the sides of her head, not in a braid, but every strand tucked in. She gestured to the fingerless leather glove on Alilian ‘s hand. The elleth pulled it off and handed it to her. Putting it on, she removed the arrows from the quiver and lined them up, point down in the ground. She motioned Alilian to step back. She pointed with two fingers to her eyes and then to the target.

Focus. Stay focused.

And started singing. Arrows flew in rhythm to the song projected from her throat.

The four elves were stunned. Haldir could hear her voice rise and after a few stanzas, began to pay attention to the words floating up.

“Well I met (Thunk) an Elf (Thunk)
in Lothlórien (Thunk) Woods (Thunk)
Now, I (Thunk) ain’t namin’ (Thunk) names. (Thunk) (Thunk)
Well he really (Thunk) worked (Thunk) me over (Thunk) good (Thunk)
Jus’ (Thunk) like (Thunk) Jesse James’. (Thunk) (Thunk)

When it was completely over, thirty arrows were embedded in three targets, ten apiece. All were in the bulls eye area. Alilian was grinning from ear to ear, as was Rúmil. He said to his brother “That is ten out of eleven. I believe you owe me two weeks.” He looked down at the females. “And I do not think the show is over!”

It wasn’t.

For three hours, Bronwyn and Alilian shot at the targets. Haldir heard more lyrics heaped upon the air then he thought possible. He even thought a few were aimed at him. He didn’t know who “Georgie” was, but his girlfriend was poison and she had a reputation as nasty as “the Berlin Wall.” She sang about the “Dream Police.” and apparently she didn’t know what she was looking for, until she heard the voices in her ears. He and his archers had been forced to watch her gyrate with victory dances for correct shots. They had needed no translation for “Lay your hands on me.” and he honestly thought he was going to have to quell a revolt at the point when she “felt the magic of your touch.” They had found out she was “Hey now, you’re an all-star.” and if he never saw her swivel her hips, do that wild thing with the bow and chant “Go Bronwyn! Go Bronwyn!” again, it would be too soon for him. Even Alilian and his brothers were joining her when she did them. And he had no clue to what “Peace, love, and crabs” meant nor did he want to venture about who “Cornholio” was or why he needed “TP” for his “Bunghole.” It sounded… crude! His ears caught the final stanza of the last song, while the two pulled the arrows out of the targets.

“Like a phoenix, I have risen from the flames.
Too long the songs have been silent
Too long the strings have been still
I never knew what you wanted
And I guess that I never will.
I have cried too,
I have cried too long.”

He climbed down the watchtower rope and started to walk up behind her. She turned, quickly, bow up, arrow notched.

Dark, frigid, blue eyes stared through flaming brown. She did not drop her bow and took aim.

And let her arrow lose.

As it passed his ear, the breeze ruffled his hair over his left shoulder and the missile made a clear thud as it embedded itself into the post of the watchtower, not inches from his head.

“Don’t sneak up on me!” She set the bow long-wise to the ground. He pulled the arrow from the post and stalked up to her.

“You talk to much when you shoot. You move to much and your grip is wrong. You must learn to use a quiver because you will not be able to put arrows in the ground in a hurry. You almost shot one my Wardens earlier with a missed shot.” He looked at the corded cross around her throat. In the blink of an eye, his hand whipped out and jerked the cord from her neck. He held it in front of her face. “You do not wear such things in battle. They can be used against you.” He took her hand and placed the cross in it. “You will go to The Lady’s talan and change clothes. I will be there shortly and we will go back to my parents’ talan and have a quiet dinner. You have worked very hard today and should be very tired.”

She wasn’t tired and tried to tell him that, but he had turned his back to her and went back up to the watchtower. Alilian stood next to her with Orophin.

“Bronwyn?”

She looked at .Alilian “Yes?”

Alilian smiled shyly. “Peace, love, and crabs?”

Bronwyn laughed deep in her throat. “Yeah, Alilian . Peace, love, and crabs.”

***

It was late at night, well after the moon had passed its zenith. Haldir sat in the chair, next to her bed, watching. She had not changed her clothes when he stopped at the garden and it infuriated him she had disobeyed his wishes.

Celeborn had pulled him aside as he entered and spoke quietly.

“You will not use any aids for her sleep tonight. None. No matter how much she needs it or you need it, you will allow what comes, to come and rise to the surface. Do what you have to do to sooth her, but do not ease her dreams. Her body is tired and her mind will force down her barriers. Have Rúmil, Orophin, or Alilian to stay there tonight as well. If her demons are fierce, then they can come and ask for our assistance.” Celeborn looked over his shoulder into the garden. “I hear that once she figured out where the target was at, she put on quite the exhibition.”

“She needs practice.” He began to list her problem areas, her weakness, which in his eyes, were many. Celeborn nodded thoughtfully. Haldir was at best, a difficult taskmaster, but he was thorough and he was the best archer and March Warden in Lothlórien.

“Would you like to work with her? I can arrange that if you like.”

Haldir drew a deep breath. “I have many things to see to, as you well know. However if you wish I lay them aside to tutor her in skills, then I can do that.”

Celeborn could tell that the last thing Haldir wanted was to be forced to teach Bronwyn anything, so he left it alone. Haldir quickly took his leave and fetched Bronwyn to the talan.

So now he sat, Rúmil in the other room and he in the chair, with Bronwyn. He had been correct in his assumption that she was exhausted. She had literally been bouncing like an Elfling’s ball when she left the field, but by the time they had climbed the talan, she was too tired to eat. She had gone straight to bed and fallen straight into reverie. She had dropped her clothes where she had stood and Haldir had picked them up and lain them neatly on the table.

“White pills…lined up like pearls.”

He looked closely. She had been restless for the past hour, but had not spoken until now.

“Ramsey! Ramsey! How could you do this? Why didn’t you tell me?” Her voice rose and she cried; Haldir could see tears starting to roll down her cheek. “I would have understood. I would have stepped aside, or stayed at your side. Why didn’t you tell me?” Her voice continued to rise.

Rúmil padded from the other room. “Is she alright? Should I go to The Lady?”

Haldir shook his head negatively. “She has had nightmares in the past. She wakes up when you comfort her and she stops.” He passed over to the bed and sat. “Baraer, I am here.” He laid his hand on her shoulder. She flew straight up in the bed, eyes wide, yet still asleep. She took her finger and poked Haldir hard in the chest.

“No! No! You tell them no! Alex knew what he was doing!”

Alex? Who was this new person?

She grabbed Haldir by the tunic. “You tell them no and no again! How dare they come to me at the hospital? How dare they accuse? How dare they make that demand! I will see them in hell first! Tell them no!” He put his arms around her and held her close.

He realized she was naked under the quilt. His hands caressed her bare back, silky skin, rigid spine.

“I will tell them. Do not worry. You are safe.”

“Safe. Safe.” She took a deep breath and leaned on him. “White pearls, white pearls, all in row. No water to swallow. Damn it! No water!” She began to sob harder. Haldir realized he was rocking her and was kissing her ear. “Duncan, Duncan, please don’t leave me. Please, take me with you. I have nothing, please don’t. Go to the light, Duncan. Don’t leave me. ” Her wails raised higher and Haldir was at a loss. He looked over his shoulder to Rúmil and nodded.

“I am going to get them. I will be back shortly.” Haldir heard his brother leave on wings of quiet flight out of the talan. He returned his attention back to the sobbing woman in his arms. She seemed to start settling down.

“I’m lost. I’m so lost and I can’t go home. I have no home. All is lost. Damn the vessel. It stays empty. I want my cottage by the sea. I want my life. Please, please, give it back. Let me die. Who do you think you are to take all from me? Let me go to the light! Liars! Liars all!” There was no sound for so long. He started to lie her back down and she clasped him to her. “Haldir.” She said his name clearly. He looked down. She was still deep in reverie, her arms wrapped around his chest. “My beautiful angel.” She had called him that before. “It hurts, it hurts so. Please don’t leave me.”

“I have promised not to leave you, Baraer.” Her body relaxed and he laid her down. As her head touched the pillow, she cried out again and her hands latched on to his tunic. Haldir did the only thing he knew; he crawled in beside her. As he slid under the quilt, clothes and all, she snuggled up and slid her ankles between his legs, her hands curled under her chin and her face pressed against his neck. He could feel hot tears continuing to slide down her face, down his neck. His arms held her close and she relaxed at his familiarity. He glanced at the door and saw Rúmil with Galadriel and Celeborn. Galadriel drifted in and leaned over the bed.

What did she say? Galadriel’s voice echoed in his head, he knew her probings. He did not have to speak to communicate.

She talks of Duncan and being lost. She talks of not being told and telling someone no. She is begging for the row of white pearls and water. She feels lied to and taken advantage of. It comes out in a torrent and I can not make heads or tails of it.

A ragged sob arose from his neck; Bronwyn was crying softly. “Duncan, please don’t leave me. Let me die. Go to the light.”

The Lady leaned over the bed, over Bronwyn, over Haldir.

Ask her, Haldir. Ask her who Duncan is.

“Baraer, Sweetling, who is Duncan?” The endearment escaped his lips easily and he was disturbed because he did not know it lived there. She sighed in his arms and he felt her breath exhale.

“My son. Duncan is my precious son.” He looked up to The Lady. She told him what to ask next.

“Baraer, lirimaer, where is Duncan?”

At first, there was no sound. And then softly, so softly he could barely hear…

“They killed him. They killed my baby and took him away.”

***
lirimaer – Lovely One
baraer – fiery one