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This little entry won a songfic contest. Don’t remember the who whats and wheres. I didn’t win anything except a link to this to make the hits go up.

Fortress Around Your Heart

A Vessel MisAdventure

 

The woman in his arms did not stir, did not move; he had to listen closely to even hear her breath. He had never seen exhaustion so obliterate a human body. If he did not know better, he would have feared for her very life. He pulled her tighter, her head on his shoulder, her breath, slight as it was, on his neck. He nudged the stallion to a faster pace as his desire to reach their destination became more urgent.

Unknowingly, he began to whistle (he did not sing, his middle brother did so beautifully, so he did not) a song he had heard her conjure many times.

And his mind wandered over the past season…

***

And if I built this fortress around your heart

Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire

Then let me build a Bridge

For I cannot fill the chasm

And let me set the battlements on fire

***

The crowd was enormous.

Still it should have been bigger. Too many Elves, many his friends and acquaintances were not here; not here to see the final demise of evil. They had fallen, either on the fields or in the woods. He would grieve each and every one; etch their names on his heart.

None saw what SHE had done, what she alone should receive appreciation for. And he knew, deep inside his soul, she would never take full credit. She would claim he did it. She would claim she could not have done it without him.

Bull-shite!

All he did was hold the sword in place.

She would claim a huge part for him, diluting, hiding the horror of her actions. She would do her damndest to make him the hero. And he would let her, not because he wanted part of the glory.

But because like her, he would want to forget.

***

Under the ruins of a walled city

Crumbling towers and beams of yellow light

***

The rays of Tari of the Valar shone on the crumbled walls of Dol Guldur. What had caused the ancient, impenetrable fortress to fall that fateful day? Was it that Tel’ Lindar had rocked the foundations, crushed them, razed them in the aftermath of destroying the dragon? Had the power she used to rid them of that menace reverberated through the stone as every single pane of glass had shattered?

Or had it in truth been the Lady Galadriel? Had The Lady of Lothlórien used the fading power of Nenya to bring the walls down around their very heads, destroying the last vestige of Sauron’s power?

He would never ask. He did not want to know. The light… the light was blinding…

Slowly, his eyes lifted from his Baraermin and took in the beauty of the Valar standing before him. Her light that shone on the clearing, shone on the destroyed battlement, also shone on him.

And he heard her voice…

Well done, most good and faithful servant. Know that I, and the others of the Hall, recognize your valor and devotion to this most difficult of creatures that we have burdened you with. We have chosen her Shield and Champion well.”

***

No flags of truce, no cries of pity

The siege guns had been pounding all through the night

***

His mind continued its meanderings, the stallion bearing them closer to their resting place…

The battle was horrific, fierce. The blood of Elves and Orcs and Wargs flowed like rivers over the grass. She fought fiercely, bravely. She fought as if she had been born, raised in this Middle Earth. She fought as if it were her own flet, her own home, her own family that she defended. He could not have been more proud of her if she was one of his brothers; if she was an Elf.

But she was neither.

But she fought as if she defended what was hers. Maybe it was. If she fought as such, perhaps it was time to concede that she knew and she was willing to embrace this painful future she was to embark on.

If she were willing and ready, so was he. He was more than willing to stand by her side through all. He remembered the look of her face as he conceded that to her.

“Proud, I am to have you at my side. Always.”

Oh – how she had fought.

***

It took a day to build the city

We walked through its streets in the afternoon

***

He recalled her wonderment, the first time she stepped from his parent’s talan. She touched the huge mellyrn trees and told him they spoke; that they had language. He had scoffed at her, this woman who was such a pain to his ego and his life.

Little did he know…

He remembered her eyes, large as saucers, as they took in the beautiful city – HIS beautiful city – Caras Galladon – the very heart of Elvendom. He was still amazed by it, raised there, living there all of his life. He never took for granted its radiance. And yet to see it anew in her eyes.

‘Show me. Show me all!’ That was what her eyes had said.

He recalled her running through the archery field, cheered by his archers. He recalled her fury as it became obvious these same unearthly skills were fleeting, borrowed…

Not hers.

In the snap of fingers, they were gone, leaving her dependent. Vulnerable. At his mercy.

He, who had no need for mercy in the past. He, who as March Warden, would, should show none.

And although she was at his mercy, she refused to ask for it.

***

As I returned across the field’s I’d known

I recognized the walls that I once made

***

For years, he had hid his heart, not wanting to love, not having time to love. What his body needed, he took. Too many were willing to give him what he desired.

His prowess, his skill was legend. It was said that Haldir of Lothlórien could make the most icy of Elves, of any of the Races, come with the force to shake the very walls of Baradur.

He gave his body. He gave pleasure. He did not give his heart.

***

I had to stop in my tracks for fear

Of walking on the mines I’d laid

***

And then, one morning, he awoke. He wanted more than the gentle curve of the pale backside lying next to him. He wanted more than being the March Warden of Golden Wood. He wanted more than to be the most feared archer Elf in Middle Earth.

He wanted love. He wanted to love, to be loved in return.

And he realized that he, Haldir, feared warrior, had no idea where to find it.

He looked down into the sleeping visage of the crabby woman now cradled in his arms.

Oh, did the Valar have a sense of humor, or what?

***

And if I built this fortress around your heart

Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire

Then let me build a bridge

For I cannot fill the chasm

And let me set the battlements on fire

***

They sent him Tel’ Lindar. The Bard. The very essence of everything he stood against.

Impulsive. Free-thinker. Emotional. Flames.

So full of life.

Iluvatar’s Balls! She drove him insane. Such a headache, she gave him.

She melted the ice encasement around his heart. To this day, he was still trying to figure out exactly how she had done it.

Not that it mattered.

***

Then I went off to fight some battle

That I’d invented inside my head

Away so long for years and years

You probably thought or even wished that I was dead

***

Not that he made it easy for her. He had been truly horrid at times. He made her pay for loving him and sometimes he wondered why she stayed.

Consider the Uruk-hai.

If he truly desired to throttle her, he would have that day in the woods. Truly, he did have her by the throat and might have come within a breath of choking her had she not vomited on everything. That day, he thought she did it a-purpose.

He had been so angry. She had defied him, defied him in front of his archers, in front of his brothers… Orophin; Orophin had taken her side against him, helping her. It caused a rift between the brothers that had lasted… lasted too long.

But in his cold fury, he thought to teach her a lesson. He left her there, forced her to think she was over-whelmed by the numbers. He thought to let her stew, watch her fear, and then, THEN she would realize who she was not and leave him be in peace.

But it did not happen the way he intended. Despite the obstacles, despite being out-numbered, surrounded, she had refused to back down. She did not retreat, she did not cry out for mercy, for rescue.

She stood up to the Uruk-hai. Challenged them, in fact.

The woman was such an idiot! And in his fury, his heart re-froze. Even when she tried, tried so hard to apologize, he shut her out.

But the Valar still had their way. They put her firmly back in his path.

She stirred, moaned in her reverie, her dreams turning dark. He whispered in her ear, not daring to push the destrier any harder. It was close to sunrise. Soon…

***

While the armies are all sleeping

Beneath the tattered flag we’d made

I had to stop in my track for fear

Of walking on the mines I’d laid

***

Sending him away from her was possibly the best thing his Lord and Lady had done. He, in his anger, did what he did best; brood. But soon, he realized that hell had a place on Middle Earth and it resided in his head.

And in hers.

Tel’ Lindar. When she looked in Galadriel’s Mirror, at that very moment, she became a part of him; her pain ripping him as it tore at her heart. Sweet Elbereth, how did she stand it? How did one small body hold all that was required of her? How could one small body be responsible for the very essence of Man!

And all the walls he put up, everything he did to separate the two of them, all he had done to forget, he tore down while returning to Caras Galladon.

Tore down to return to her.

***

This prison has now become your home

A sentence you seem prepared to pay

***

He heard what the Lord and Lady had said. ‘Bard of the Earth.” She who would

remember all. History. Knowledge. Music. Oh the music, she could make it soar, use it in love. Use it as a weapon. He heard what the Valar had said. She was trapped here. Her life was gone. And in Mirkwood Forest, she embraced it, wholly, leaving all she knew behind.

My blood is of the Earth.

The Earth is of my Blood.

We are One. We are the Same.

We are forever joined.

I am aware of all of her joys and sorrows.”

She willingly gave it all up. And he knew deep inside, she gave it up, not because she wanted the power or the glory. She gave it up for him.

The sun was rising and he recognized the low hills near his… their destination. He slowed his mount and brushed his lips across her filthy forehead.

“Soon.”

***

It took a day to build the city

We walked through its streets in the afternoon

As I returned across the fields where I’d once played

***

In the days afterwards, they learned much of each other.

And learned nothing. She was an enigma to him; he did not understand her. Nor she him. If love was just sex, all would have been perfect.

But he learned it was not. Sex was a weapon; one he wielded well, as did she.

He used it to force her to admit her love. To force to admit her fears. He wielded it like a well-aimed arrow.

He wished there had been another way. In many ways, it only made the rift between them wider.

***

And if I built this fortress around your heart

Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire

***

In the coming days, months, many would liken her to a pet, a slave, an object of his lust.

He knew better. She was Baraermin – His Fiery One.

In the coming months, years, he knew many would claim he followed her, would whisper he was her babysitter, her keeper, her stud horse for her children. They would liken him to a puppy on a leash.

He still knew better. He was the Guardian of the one to be held responsible to hold her hand on the keel of Earth. And when Man fell, he would be the Shield of the one who would remind the survivors of their former glory. Her children would be his children equally and he would grieve just as much as she when they left this realm and left those children behind to carry on with nothing more than a simple bow to connect them. Her heart would break that day and many times after that. He would grieve, but he would stand fast for her and rebuild and refortify her damaged heart and soul.

***

Then let me build a bridge

For I cannot fill the chasm

***

For they would say he followed her. Let them say what they wanted. But he knew better.

For when all was said and done, she would follow him to the Grey Havens and leave all behind.

Like she left it all behind before to be with him.

He could not change the past, but he could forge their tomorrow. She would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loved her and only her.

His destination was in sight. By Melkor’s Chains, it looked worse than he remembered.

***

And let me set the battlements on fire

***

They would say they led each other on a merry dance. Perhaps in that aspect, they were right.

She was his air.

And he was her Fortress, her Heru en Cormmin.

Lord of my Heart.

***

Fini

***