Haldir was finding life frustrating.
When he had been alive before it had never been like this; he distinctly remembered that he always knew what he wanted, what his role was, and that his orders would be followed.
Death had not been frustrating either. He had heard the voice of Lord Námo and, realising that he was dead, had obeyed the order and followed to The Halls of Waiting… along with too many of his wardens. He had not been sure whether he was happy or sad that his brothers were not with him, but soon gave up worrying about them. He had rested, recovered, considered his previous life and, although there had been little sense of time passing, had been prepared to leave when he was told to; ready to take up his place in his family and the general scheme of things.
But life was much less smooth the second time around and he was not sure that he liked it. Not at all.
He had been vaguely aware that his parents had been in the Halls of Waiting when he first arrived there, and then that they were no longer there. So it came as no surprise to be reunited with them when he left, and they were much as he remembered them from the first thousand years or more of his life. But to discover that his brothers were now here in the Undying Lands, but not with his parents, not with Lady Galadriel; that was almost inconceivable.
Not only inconceivable, but totally unacceptable. He had expected both his parents and Her Ladyship to agree with him. Then he would go to Alqualondë and order Orophin and Rumil to return with him. But Her Ladyship had told him that he, too, must adapt to the changes the Ring War and its aftermath had brought. Lord Celeborn had given the brothers his permission to join Legolas and she was happy about this, and about their subsequent marriages.
That was another thing, of course – Her Ladyship being here without His Lordship. Even though Haldir understood why she might have needed to sail, for her health, and that His Lordship would not abandon the Galadhrim, even if he seemed to have abandoned Lothlorien, it was still wrong that they were not together.
Haldir’s mother thought he was right, though, to expect his brothers to leave Legolas and return to their rightful place – with or without the females they had married almost as soon as Haldir’s back was turned. ‘Without’, she thought, might be better in the case of the one who was not even a proper elf! Quite what Rumil’s wife was Haldir was still unsure – but anything other than a proper elf surely should not be here in Valinor…
Adar was less forceful about it, even said that they were adults and able to make their own decisions, that both wives were perfectly suited to Orophin and Rumil, and he hoped Haldir was proud that Rumil and Tindómë’s firstborn had been named in memory of them.
But Haldir was certain that, when he brought his brothers back to where they belonged, Adar would be very happy about it.
When they first received word that Haldir was no longer in Mandos’ Halls Orophin and Rumil were overjoyed. They thought to set off almost straight away, with their wives and Rumil’s children, to go to Tirion where he had joined their parents.
But then it seemed more sensible to invite him to come to Alqualondë; it would be easier to accommodate him there than all of them in Tirion, and he could stay as long as he liked. Word was sent to him that they were thrilled at the idea of being reunited with him, but could understand if he needed to take time before visiting them; they just hoped he did not need too
Then he arrived.
Within only a few weeks of Haldir’s arrival amongst the Ithilrim a number of things became obvious.
To Haldir it became obvious that his brothers were not simply going to obey his commands. They had always obeyed his commands. When they were elflings he had taught them that immediate compliance was for their safety; if he said ‘run’ they ran, if he said ‘hide’ they hid. As they began to train as warriors they learnt to still obey his commands for this reason, and also because he was their commanding officer. Even as trusted wardens his word was law and, so used were they to doing as he bid them, that he automatically took the lead in all things, whether on or off duty.
Now they listened to him say “You must return to Tirion with me,” and smiled, then said “No.”
It was obvious that it would take him longer than he had expected. He settled himself into the room his niece and nephew had given up for him, saying they could both, easily, stay with friends as long as he liked.
Rather grudgingly Haldir had to admit, at least to himself, that he was honoured that Rumil and Tindómë had named their son in his memory. And that he quite clearly took after his father rather than after his mother…which was certainly a good thing. Haldirin was tall, strong, as fair of hair as Haldir himself; yes, a nephew of whom to be, almost, proud.
He was not a warrior of Galadhrim standards, though. Yes, Haldir knew that Haldirin had grown up without the Shadow of Evil – but his uncle still felt that his training seemed to have been lax compared with what he, himself, would have put the young warrior through before awarding him his braids. It was obvious to Haldir that standards were lower outside the Galadhrim.
Rumil’s daughter, however… although she seemed a pleasant enough young elleth, what sort of name was Ithilienne?
Haldir could see the attraction of Orophin’s wife. Perhaps a little too Silvan in style and accent, when compared to one of the Galadhrim, but if she was Orophin’s soul-mate then so be it. But he missed having his brothers as unattached as he was himself; he missed having them alongside him as he encountered new ellyth.
Yes, it was obvious to Haldir that things were not as he would have wanted them to be; and it was clearly all Tindómë’s fault.
If she had not arrived from what she, and the others, referred to as a different world in such a way; if she had been less careless in that other place and not
fallen down some sort of chasm that ended up at The Black Gate, then Rumil would not have encountered her. A small voice inside him suggested that if he
had not managed to get himself killed at Helm’s Deep then his brothers would have marched, safely, back with him to Lothlorien and would not have been at The Black Gate; but he soon quashed that idea.
No – if she had been less clumsy, less careless, the young woman would have remained where she was, and Rumil and Orophin would have returned to Lothlorien and finally arrived here unencumbered by wives and children – and would have returned to his side; to her Ladyship’s side.
Rumil called his wife a Gift of the Valar, and said that Mithrandir had agreed that it was probably their doing that had brought her to Middle Earth, but Haldir could not help thinking that she might be less a gift than a mistake that they had hoped to lose in that other place. She was shorter than an elleth should be – almost stunted – and she seemed to have less acute hearing, poorer sight, she complained that she felt the cold, still seemed to need as much sleep as a half-grown elfling… and she even had deformed ears!
On top of that her Sindarin was oddly accented – odder than that of Legolas and the others from what was, apparently, now known as Eryn Lasgalen – she sometimes shortened words, slurred one into another, or simply used them incorrectly. Haldir really could not understand how she could have a fëa that sang to Rumil so loudly; how his younger brother could bind his soul with hers.
It was obvious to Tindómë that Haldir didn’t approve of her. She had sometimes worried, through her years in Middle Earth and now in Valinor, that the oh-so-important eldest brother would not like her, and it was clear that her worries had not been unfounded.
Had they met back in the early days, she thought, back when she had been snatched back to Sunnydale and then returned to Middle Earth unsure of herself, unsure of whether she really belonged with Rumil or was just a hindrance to him, she would have been totally cowed. As it was she was saddened.
She knew that Rumil loved her. But she knew, too, that he loved his brother. More than he did his parents; for Haldir had been both mother and father to the elfling Rumil before he had been boon companion to the adult ellon. She worried that she and Haldir would pull Rumil’s fëa in two.
To Orophin and Rumil it became obvious that death had changed their brother less than life had changed them. They had not even realised how much they had been changed until Haldir arrived.
He was both their brother and their parent and they loved him dearly. But he was no longer their commanding officer, and they realised that they were able to hold to their own decisions when they disagreed with his.
“He will come round,” Orophin said. “It will take time – but we are not short of that. He will come to love Lithôniel and Tindómë as we do. Well, perhaps not exactly
as we do…”
Rumil feared it would take a good deal of time. As Elrohir had once commented, Haldir could look down his nose at people most effectively – and Rumil had seen the slight upward tilt of Haldir’s face when he looked at Tindómë.
“If he says one word out of place about Tindómë he will find just how similar my nature is to his…” Rumil vowed.
“He misses us as partners in seeking the desires of the body,” Orophin commented, “he is doubtless ‘antsy’.”
Coming into the room in time to catch the end of the conversation, Tindómë thought that it was probably as well that Haldir had not heard Orophin. The degeneration of his brothers, indicated by the use of that last word, would have been something else to blame on her. Although it was quite likely that Orophin had a point.
Lord Námo - Valar whose sphere is death
Adar - Father
Mithrandir - Elves name for Gandalf
Eryn Lasgalen - The Greenwood - previously known as Mirkwood.