I don't own anything in the Ringverse or we all know what the elves would be covered with, and nothing in the Buffyverse either. I'm quite certain I don't even own the plot – feel free to blame Cinnie for it all. This wouldn't have happened without her. Reviews would be most welcome.
~It ends with a new beginning~
The problem, with any and all stories, was that they ended with death.
Haldir was sneaking up on the Fellowship, he and his kind so stealthy that only the Elf noticed anything before it was too late. He had nothing but contempt for the dwarf, and he feared very much the power of the evil of the One Ring. He feared what it might do to his beloved Lothlórien and to himself. He could already feel it trying to seduce him over; its promises were nothing if not the answers to the grief that Haldir had been bearing in his heart and soul for months now. Yet Haldir drew strength from the forest he held dear to his heart, as he had done for those last months, and resisted the pull of the Ring.
Tears, relief and regrets.
Haldir was leading the Fellowship to Caras Galadhon. He had not taken that path for months, not since the grief had stricken him so deeply that Orophin might sometimes appear frivolous by comparison. Memories came to him, unbidden but not unwanted, for they were all he had left now. He tried to rise to whatever insult the dwarf might mutter, but his heart was not in it. Aragorn, Elessar, son of Arathorn, Isildur's heir and lover to Undómiel, engaged him in conversation, and Haldir knew Legolas' eyes were heavy on him, for Legolas saw what Elessar could not. Raised as he had been in Imladris among Elves, Elessar remained a Man. Orophin, then Rúmil, had been left behind, and only Legolas saw Haldir's weariness. Haldir loved his forest all the more for it, for he had nothing else left, no prospect but staying in Lothlórien even when all his kind would leave for Valinor. The sea held no thrall over him anymore; he longed but for one thing, one which he could never have, one which he *would* never have.
Resignation and anguish, sweet agony.
Haldir was bringing the Fellowship to his Lord and Lady. The Ring did not sing to him any longer; perhaps he was not worthy of its attention, when faced with such power as that of Celeborn and, mostly, Galadriel. Haldir did not meet his Lord and Lady's gaze, and withdrew at the first opportunity. He had not seen them either since the grief first settled over him, a strange veil to dull most things and sharpen others. Haldir did not wish for death but wondered why he did not die of grief. Perhaps Lothlórien would not let him. His forest and he had bonds stronger than most Elves. Lothlórien would not let him die.
The gritting of teeth and the welcome of arms; bitter sorrow and hope.
Haldir was returning to his outpost on the Northern borders. His brothers would not grow more concerned about him, for their anxiety had been at its highest for months and such was thus impossible. Orophin occasionally tried to talk to Haldir, his face a mask of serious gravity as it ever was, his unease at worrying for his elder clear. Haldir had never before given his brothers occasion to worry about him. Nowadays, he could do naught else. Rúmil had not yet renounced forcing smiles out of Haldir. He had always believed there was nothing laughter could not cure. Haldir had always known him wrong.
Denial and thankfulness, helplessness.
Haldir was summoned by his Lady. The Lady of Light, Galadriel, golden and beautiful, sharp blue eyes that seldom relented. She told him of Elessar and Theoden King's need of help against the Uruk-hai army of Saruman. Haldir agreed to take command of an Elvish force to assist them in their time of need. Long-lost alliances between Men and Elves were not so lost as he would have thought them. The knowledge filled him with delight and despair both. He wondered idly why his Lady had chosen him. He was a Marchwarden and Guardian of Lórien, his place was within the forest he loved so dearly. But he was not to question her choice, only to accept with honour and pride. It filled him with a new sense of purpose; he had almost forgotten the feeling.
Bittersweet interlacing of joy and worry.
Haldir was being taken aside by his Lord Celeborn. The conversation confused him. Celeborn insisted on carefulness and on Haldir's duties towards Lothlórien. Haldir wondered whether Celeborn was referring to Haldir's grief, whether perhaps his Lord was concerned for him. A part of Haldir he had thought dead and buried bristled at the idea, and he only barely refrained from sounding arrogant as he told his Lord that he had nothing to fear, for Haldir would not go to death willingly. Perhaps he had not been so successful at not sounding arrogant, for Celeborn was regarding him with terse surprise. And then his Lord did the most unexpected thing, he broke into a smile and clasped Haldir to his chest, welcoming him back. He had never left, Haldir protested, but Celeborn would not heed him.
A cheerful sob and warm feelings anew.
Haldir was marching to Helm's Deep with an army of Elves. They could not wait for reinforcements from Imladris and the army that had set out consisted of Galadhrim of Lórien only. Rúmil and Orophin were both there, and both seemed comforted at Haldir's new state of mind. His listlessness was gone, every one of his actions and words meant and felt fully, and he thought that perhaps there were still things to be lived in this world, that other things still than the beauty of his realm could take his breath away. His brothers stood by his side and they were to fight foul Uruk-Hai for all Free Folk of Arda.
Pride and wonder, kinship.
Haldir was greeting Theoden King, of late released from Saruman's hold, and laying eyes on Man did not grieve him so much as it used to. Haldir could not help but smile as he saw Man, Elf and Dwarf hurrying down the steps to him. Elessar surprised him with an embrace, which Haldir returned after a second. The grief was still there, not lessened, not less heeded, but other things were coming back to life all around it. Legolas and Haldir clasped each other on the shoulder. Yes. Things were coming back to life all around the grief.
Gratefulness and relief, anxiety above all else.
Haldir was aiming an arrow at an approaching Uruk-hai at the order of Elessar. Ever had he revelled in sparring with his brothers in Lórien or slaughtering any Orc to cross his path, but never had he experienced such elation on the edge of a battle. He did not let anything show on his face but concentration. This was not simply slaughtering fell creatures, this was much more than that. His brothers were by his side and the Free Folk of Middle Earth were at stake. His arrow reached the Uruk in the neck and he nocked another in his bow.
Fear and horror, soul screaming out its refusal, primal and instinctive.
Haldir was slashing at an Uruk. It was all there had been to his world since the beginning of the battle, with ladders propped up against the tall walls and Uruk-hai climbing over for close combat. Slashing, piercing, gutting, beheading, maiming. He nodded at Aragorn and shouted at his kind to retreat to the keep. The pain was sudden and unexpected, he groaned in shock, yet he hardly felt it as he slew the Uruk that had cut his arm. He could only look at the bloody slash with disbelief; he had forgotten Elves were just as mortal as Men in wars. The battle was enfolding everywhere around him, heedless of his revelation, so much rashness and violence, no pause, no rest, and Haldir felt more lonely than he had since - He did not feel pain so much as cold, cold surprise and a deep sense of betrayal when the foul blade embedded itself in his back. His kind lay dead at his feet, corpses strewing the ground, where were Orophin and Rúmil? Where were his elation and sense of purpose then? They were all dying. He sent a prayer to the Valar for his brothers to live, right as his legs gave way under him. When Aragorn reached him, Haldir's eyes were dead.
Anger, rage, fury, wrath, denial, denial, hands gripping sheets as eyes turned black. Not denial of the situation, but denial of the helplessness. Why else those dreams, for months, if not for her to be helpful? Why else those dreams when she was expecting, why else the suffering, why else? Body twitching, her magic and that of the life inside of her interweaving, seeking, finding him at last. A sharp tugging and white hot burning agony searing through her every nerve, *protect them, protect them both*, all pain for her and none for either of them as he was tugged home to her, she had to be home to him.
Willow's body sagged down on the bed.
A second later, when Buffy rushed into Willow's room, ready to beat into a bloody pulp whatever had caused her friend to scream in such agony, she found Willow's limbs entwined with those of a blond, glowing, pointy-eared man – no, not man, elf – whose face showed as much exhaustion as the redhead's in their sleep. Buffy walked forward hesitantly and sat on the edge of the bed, frowning at the scene. She held out her hand and pressed it gently on Willow's round belly, eyes closed, all of her senses focused on the life inside. Satisfied that the baby was alright, Buffy opened her eyes, frowning all the more intently as she studied the face of the father.
And then, sometimes, death was just a new beginning.