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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)curiouslywombatFR152969,295818917,35528 Dec 1210 Jul 14Yes

Midwinter

“She thinks what?”

“How in Arda does she think he could come here?”

Rumil had just told Legolas and Orophin what Tindómë had suggested. Their reactions were not unexpected.

“But,” he answered them, “at least if he was here rather than in the other place, and all the others are now dead, no-one could ever try to take her there again…”

There was silence, as his two companions digested that thought, and then Orophin looked from one to the other and smiled as he spoke.

“Well, she’s your wife… and your sister… and right now I am glad she is simply my brother-wife; for I do not know how she can be either dissuaded from this idea, or helped to achieve it!”

“Brother,” said Rumil, keeping his voice completely solemn, “we do not need to know how to help her achieve it, either. This is my wife of whom we speak – she already has a plan.”

“Oh dear,” said Orophin, but he still smiled.

“She would use The Key?” Legolas asked.

The two brothers looked at each other and then spoke in unison. “Opening a portal requires complex magic. The Key, alone, can only close one.”

The mage, Radagast, had explained this to them when he had helped return Tindómë to Middle Earth after the people in California kidnapped her. Tindómë herself had repeated it on more than one occasion. When the Valar formed The Key its role was to slam shut, and lock, any door that Morgoth should attempt to open between worlds; ‘reversing the magic’ to open such a door (a portal, as Tindómë called it) required a good deal more power than simply spilling Tindómë’s blood.

“Well,” Legolas said, with a slight shrug, “it would have impressed Haldir…”

…………………………………………….

At much the same time as the three were discussing Tindómë and Haldir those two were, separately, considering the upcoming Midwinter celebrations.

Haldir was trying to decide whether he should hold himself above the ribbon-wearing, the ellyth-chasing, and the making of wagers; or whether he should uphold the honour of the Galadhrim by entering into the spirit of the celebration wholeheartedly and winning a number of wagers. His brothers had certainly done so when they first joined the Ithilrim – although Rumil had too quickly bound himself to Tindómë – but Orophin had spoken fondly of his successes in ‘the hunt’. What a pity that they were now both bound and so ineligible.

Tindómë, on the other hand, was talking to her friend Celebrían.

Celebrían had comforted Tindómë when she had known for sure that Buffy was dead; had held her and let her weep. It was another bond between them; that both had lost loved ones to mortal death. Tindómë recognised that Arwen had ‘set them up’ quite neatly, and was sure Celebrían recognised it as well. Although Tindómë was not Arwen, nor similar enough to make the relationship painful, and Celebrían was neither Arwen herself, nor Joyce Summers or Buffy, there was something of a mother/daughter vibe about their relationship.

“Do you think he will come?” Tindómë asked. “Or is there some way of getting in touch with him?”

“Well he usually does come – even if he misses Midsummer he seems to enjoy your Midwinter festivities. But I have never thought about how we might contact him; he simply arrives, knowing that his room is always prepared,” Celebrían answered.

“I guess he could simply be hanging around right now, just not bothering to ‘put on the cloak of Mithrandir’, Tindómë said. It was not the first time such a thought had occurred to her.

“Surely not!” Celebrían was clearly shocked.

‘I bet,’ thought Tindómë, ‘she’s suddenly thought of Gandalf lurking in a corner of their bedroom watching them enjoying the desires of the body…’

“Well… probably not, I guess…” she said out loud.

“Still – you’re right,” she continued. “He is usually here for Midwinter. Sam used to reckon it was because Gandalf liked his fruitcake. I think it’s because Frodo loved fireworks so much and they work better at Midwinter than any other time. But he has kept coming since they died and so it probably is sensible just to wait a few days.”

Tindómë was glad that neither Celebrían nor she, herself, flinched at the mention of mortal death. And equally happy that Celebrían had not said ‘And there is plenty of time…’ But as long as the Maia did arrive for Midwinter then that would be time enough.

…………………………………………….

By the day before the Midwinter celebrations both Haldir and Tindómë had answers to their questions.

Haldir had decided he would participate in the Midwinter rituals of these Silvans – he could never resist a challenge, and it might help him understand the elves his brothers had become a little better. He bought himself a suitable number of the ribbons sold by a number of the weavers, including some of the Telerin craftsfolk who had realised that this was a good source of income. The ribbons were plain red silk which he thought would look elegant and not too outrageous – stylish, in fact.

For some reason, when Tindómë saw them, she had looked as if she would laugh, and a look had passed between her and Rumil that was difficult to interpret but seemed full of mischief*. She was very strange, this not-quite-an-elf that was bound to Rumil.

To be honest, Haldir was rather looking forward to the challenge of the wagers he had made with both Legolas and Galanthir; the challenge of getting his brothers to return to Tirion with him was not going well and, after two millennia as a warrior in Lothlorien, life without challenges was quite boring.

The day before Midwinter Tindómë got the answer to her question.

“Mithrandalf is here,” Haldirin said, using the name he, his sister and their ‘third musketeer’ had coined for the Maia, who found it amusing and happily answered to it.

Gandalf, Haldirin went on, was talking to Gimli at the hobbit hole. Tindómë decided to leave her own questions for him until after the celebrations, just in case he said ‘No’, which would put her off dancing. Or, she amended, it would cause her to spend the whole evening working out how to make him change his mind…


*In ‘Dust’, Chapter Four, Tindómë expressed surprise that Rumil thought Haldir would have enjoyed the Solstice Celebrations, had they held them in Lothlorien. She says she cannot imagine him, from what she has been told, with his hair full of multi-coloured ribbons, and Rumil replies “They would have been plain red silk… and every braid would have been exactly the same thickness.”

…………………………………………….

It was odd, Tindómë thought, that in the few short years that the hobbits had survived after the arrival of the Ithilrim they had left their mark on the midwinter celebrations. The regular arrival of Gandalf with a display of pyrotechnics owed much to Frodo; and that Sam’s fruitcakes, and also his spicy pickled pears, were now a traditional part of the food ensured that he had a rather hobbit-y form of immortality.

Master Elrond’s cooks had made the spiced pears but Tindómë had been involved in the cake-making. It had been a festive event in itself as Haldirin and Ithilienne had insisted on helping, as had Tharhîwon, of course. And Nithdur. Tindómë knew Nithdur; the leather worker had been in Eryn Ithil since before her own arrival, but she was getting to know him better, faster, since he had become Tharhîwon’s partner of choice. The more time he spent in her kitchen, on the whole, the more she came to like him, although she was not sure how serious the relationship was.

Just now, the fireworks being over, and the dancing begun, she was being held carefully by him and whirled around to the music. He might prefer ellyn but he was more than happy to kiss ellyth and lose ribbons. As they danced they talked.

“I will, most certainly, win my wagers with Tharhîwon and Haldirin,” he told her, with a grin. “I may prefer ellyn but I have many, many, more years practice at dancing, and kissing ellyth, than they have. And find it pleasurable enough…!”

He was pretty good at it, too, Tindómë thought, but then very few Elves shared their bodies purely with those of the same sex – just as very few kept only to the opposite one. She thought, fleetingly, of an ellyth or two from Imladris – and Turiél, her first new friend in Eryn Ithil, who had been killed in a Haradrim raid during a summer solstice celebration. She hoped Turiél would return to them soon. On the whole, she thought, she would rather have had Turiél than Haldir… but that was not fair on Rumil and Orophin, who had grieved so deeply for their older brother.

Enough think-y thoughts, she decided, and gave herself up to the pleasures of the evening.

It was probably as well that Haldir was not privy to his brother-wife’s thoughts concerning him. He had enjoyed the food and the giving of presents; more than he probably should, considering how right his mother had been about it being very unlike Galadhrim behaviour. He had been careful to give almost identical presents to niece and both brother-wives, and they had been well received. He had been quietly pleased to receive gifts from them and, even more pleased, to get one from Lady Celebrían.

Now he was enjoying the bonfire, never a common occurrence in Lothlorien, and the ‘hunt’. He had a slight disadvantage, being unfamiliar with some of the dances, but explaining this to some of the ellyth had the fortuitous effect of them offering to teach him… Being perfectly honest with himself, although he would not admit it to even his brothers, he was enjoying this rather wild and undisciplined evening more than the few social events he had attended in Tirion. Her Ladyship, there amongst her Noldor relations, held his fealty and his complete devotion – but perhaps his father’s Silvan blood was stronger in his veins than he had previously thought.

That he was not the victor in either of the wagers he had made did not distress him too much – he was, he would willingly admit, a novice. It was probably as well, though, that he did not realise that his nephew, less than a yén of age, would have easily out-scored him. But then he, too, had now had a number of years of practice.

As the night drew to morning Tindómë found Gandalf where he sat, quietly, contemplating an empty wine glass with a slight smile.

“Penny for them…” she said, then, “uh – I mean what are you thinking about?”

“I was thinking of so many men I knew who would have appreciated this wine… and one or two hobbits as well. And how glad I am to have friends here who knew some of those friends there; not just you and those who came with you, but Galadriel, Elrond, Celebrían…”

She sat beside him before speaking again. “Mmm’huh… I was thinking more of friends who are not here…”

“Éowyn and Arwen?” Gandalf asked.

“No – not those who have died…”

“Ah – the sons of Elrond, Celeborn, Legolas’ family, then?”

“Yes, I guess. But not just them. But it is too complicated for just now, when I’ve been drinking the wine too – and it affects me more than you. Are you staying for a few days? Can I come and talk to you?”

“Certainly, little one,” Gandalf said, “I’ll be free whenever you need me. After all, what are honorary grandfathers for?”

……………………………………………………………………………….
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