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The Valinor Trail

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This story is No. 14 in the series "Return of The Key.". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Returnverse story - with the return of Spike... and Haldir. Picks up from the last line of the epilogue of 'Return of The Key'. COMPLETE

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Lord of the Rings > Dawn-Centered(Recent Donor)curiouslywombatFR152969,295818917,44828 Dec 1210 Jul 14Yes

Light Through The Window

Light Through The Window

Haldir seemed to be settling into life amongst the Ithilrim. Rumil’s feelings on this were mixed. It seemed as if their brother was willing to give way on his wish for Rumil and Orophin to join Lady Galadriel in Tirion, but they knew him better than that – he was biding his time. However, it was good to have him around; to show him the drawings and paintings of life in Middle Earth both at the end of the Ring War and in the years since. It was good to reminisce about times spent together in the past; good to introduce him to new friends, new places and new ideas.

It was clear that Haldir was rather nonplussed at the idea of Haldirin, having vacated the room he and Ithilienne had shared for Haldir’s use, currently living in a hobbit hole along with another young ellon and Gimli. It was probably the first time Haldir had ever thought about where a hobbit might live – and now no hobbits lived there. Gimli, Haldirin and Tharhîwon seemed an unlikely group – but it seemed to work.

Ithilienne had moved in with the family of another young elleth. She had been invited to use a room in Master Elrond’s house but had decided it might give the impression to others that she was ‘chasing’ Legolas, as he already lived there. The two seemed to have already settled into a comfortable understanding that, sometime in the future, they would become betrothed. But in the meantime Legolas was devoting time to Gimli and, as the senior scion in Aman of the House of Oropher, to regularly travelling between the various groups of those who saw themselves as ‘his’ people. Ithilienne was simply learning to be an adult.

Legolas had, however, found time to welcome Haldir, to spend hours reminiscing with him alongside Rumil and Orophin and, perhaps even more useful, to introduce him to some of the Telerin ellyth who found pale blond hair to be a most desirable trait.

But, there was still a sense of too much space between the brothers – or between the eldest and the two younger ones – and it seemed to be more about Tindómë than about any other single thing. Although Haldir was never rude to Tindómë, Rumil was aware of the… puzzled… look on Haldir’s face when he looked at her. Strangely, it seemed, Haldir found it harder to see her fëa and recognise her inner worth than did his brothers, or Legolas, or so many others.

There were, certainly, those who could extol Tindómë’s virtues; Mithrandir knew her full worth, and Lady Celebrían who was, most certainly, someone Haldir held in esteem. But, although she was aware of her husband-brother’s antagonism and was not comfortable with it, Tindómë said that others telling him to like her would most certainly have the opposite effect. This just went to show that she had got the measure of Haldir more quickly than he had of her.

And, of course, Haldir’s attitude to Tindómë coloured the response to him of the rest of his new family members. So Haldirin, brought up on tales of his namesake uncle, made less effort to spend time with him; Ithilienne clearly treated Orophin as the head of the family; and Lithôniel made more remarks about the smugness of the Galadhrim than usual…

Then, just to put the icing on the cake, as Sam used to say, something happened that Rumil knew his wife had both wished for, and dreaded, ever since their arrival here in the West.

He knew that Tindómë had been unsure whether Radagast’s ‘window’ would work in Valinor; the strange construct of twigs and yarn that had enabled her to make contact with Buffy, the ‘sister’ in that other world. Because, on the last occasion the ‘window’ had opened, Buffy had been frail and confined to bed, like Éowyn in her last months of life, he knew that Tindómë almost hoped that it would not work. Rumil hoped so too. Or, if it did work, that it would confirm that Buffy, and anyone else who might try to take Tindómë away again against her will, was dead.

But, now, she called him to join her in their bedroom and he could see the familiar glow where the small construct sat in her jewellery box.

Rumil sat beside her, holding her hand, whilst she repeated the words that she had used on each of the eight earlier occasions that she had seen that glow.

He knew that she would concentrate, as always, on her ‘sister’; think of Buffy’s face, Buffy’s voice, as she always had. But after long minutes she turned to him and he knew that she had found nothing. Buffy was beyond reach.

“I knew she was dying, I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to ‘touch’ her again, but now it’s real and it hurts more than I thought it would.” Tears ran down her cheeks as she spoke.

Rumil held her very tightly, poured love and concern through their bond, and rocked her as if she was an elfling, until she finally took the handkerchief he held at the ready and sat up straight again.

The window was still glowing.

“Spike,” she said, “he will be missing her. And he can tell me what happened…. I am going to try to find Spike.”


There wasn’t a lot around to kick, these days.

He found himself drifting in thought back to those days so long ago, before the gathering of the Potentials, before there were Slayers by the score. Not as far back as life with Dru but, for some reason, to that summer when Buffy had been dead and buried and he had been so depressed. Not surprising, he thought, that that time came to mind so often now – now that she was dead; finally, totally, irreconcilably dead.

Dawn had been there, then, of course. He had found himself, almost against his will, being brother and parent to Dawn. Probably why, tonight, her face kept drifting into his mind.

He still thought of Dawn as a teenager – but then she had still looked like one when he had last seen her, even though she had lived in the other dimension for twenty-odd years by then. He wondered if she would be really upset if she tried to contact Buffy and found that she couldn’t, or whether she would sigh with relief that she could finally forget the short time that she was Dawn Summers, and get on with her life as Tindómë.

His eyes felt heavy; he slept.


The air in the room shimmered. Rumil recognised the effect; he had seen it before, on the occasions that Radagast’s ‘window’ had opened for Tindómë when he had been near enough to join her. Then a figure appeared. She had, clearly, been successful in bridging the gap between worlds to the male called Spike.

The man looked no older than when they had last seen him – his hair was not the same, nor his clothes, but his face remained unlined. This was not a surprise to Rumil – Tindómë had explained that he was not a normal mortal but a vampire. Not the same as Thuringwethil but, still, a being usually associated with Shadow and Darkness. Rumil knew enough, though, to be aware that this vampire was… unusual. Not exactly of the Shadow, he had fought against it in his world just as the Elves had in Middle Earth, and had been, in some way, the soul-mate of Tindómë’s ‘sister’.

Spike looked confused. He spoke to Tindómë in the language of the other place, which meant nothing to Rumil. Tindómë nodded her head, spoke back, and the conversation continued for some time. Her grip on Rumil’s hand did not slacken, and through their bond he knew that she was both sad and shocked; but no sadder than she had been when she had last ‘seen’ Buffy, or when she had not been able to make contact less than an hour ago.

The figure began to fade. Tindómë seemed to be speaking to the vampire in that tone of voice that brooked no argument – yes – clearly demanding that he agree to whatever she had said. As he finally disappeared, the male figure shrugged and looked as if he had given in. Rumil knew the feeling.

“Buffy has flown the circles of her world?” he asked Tindómë.

“Yes. Nearly two years ago in their time.”

As usually seemed the way, more time had past here than had passed there, then. More surprising was the tone of Tindómë’s voice – he had thought she would be even more upset to have Buffy’s death confirmed, but she sounded less so, and through the soul-bond he could feel she was gathering herself together and, any minute now, she would look at him wearing her ‘resolve face’...

She did.

“He’s all alone,” she said.

Ah – the vampire.

“There’s no-one left he knows, no-one that cares. Just like it was getting for us with the mortals of Middle Earth. No-one really knows what he is, even – or that he is a white hat and not of the bad…”

She has reverted more than usual to what she herself called ‘Valley Sindarin’ – a sign that she was still upset, but also that she was thinking hard.

Rumil considered what it would be like for elves remaining in Middle Earth through the years to come. He could see all the mortals becoming like the Rohirrim used to be – only half believing the elves existed, and fearing them. If His Lordship and the others strayed from their valley, or Legolas’ father’s people strayed far from their woods, they would either be mistaken for the Secondborn, or be treated as strangers in what had once been their own land.

He felt himself becoming as sad, at this thought, as his wife. He tried to block both the thought, and the emotion, from her; he was here to support her, not vice versa.

“He is really depressed,” Tindómë continued.

Ah – the vampire… Rumil brought his mind back to the point at hand.

“He doesn’t want to live, but he doesn’t want to just kill himself – you know, like stay out in the sun and turn to dust.”

Yes, Rumil remembered that that was what happened to Californian vampires…

“Although maybe he’ll just stop feeding, let himself fade… or get careless some other way.”

That would work, Rumil thought, and then they would never have to think about that other place ever again. Except that he knew Spike had been good to Tindómë when she had been kidnapped and taken back to that place; he had helped her resist fading. Rumil felt a distinct twinge of guilt at wishing the vampire turned to dust, blowing in the air. He blocked that emotion from Tindómë too.

Tindómë sat up very straight. Rumil could tell she had come to a decision. Even so, her words caught him completely unawares.

“He should come here, to us.”

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