Disclaimer - BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon and The Lord of the Rings and all its characters belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien.
They call her Anoriel because that is what Galadriel named her, but if it was up to Haldir, her name would be Dagnirel. He had not truly believed the stories she told him about her life, thought they were mere exaggerations at best, because how could someone so small hold that kind of power? He simply entertained her and taught her how to use the bow and arrow. Although she learned surprisingly fast, he still did not truly believe. When she begged to join his company of Wardens, he finally relented but made sure to keep her out of harm’s way.
Then one night, a fleet of yrch came upon them. His group was safely in their talans, the number too many for them to fight, so the plan was just to let them pass through since they weren’t headed into the city. Buffy, as she told him to call her, did not like to follow plans so well. She ran and jumped off the platform, diving into the sea of yrch. He called out to her, had his men shoot arrow after arrow to grant her safe passage back up the talan, but she took no heed of him.
He thought her stupid, brave but stupid, to fight so many at once. In that second she landed, he was sure she would perish, and he did not think he could bear to be the one to explain what happened to Galadriel and Celeborn. In that one breath, he mourned his friend once more.
But she did not die. As he watched, and waited, for her to fall, she cut down orch after orch, moving in ways he had never seen before. The way she kicked and stabbed and punched and ducked, it was more like dancing than fighting. All he could do was watch, like he knew his brothers were doing, and the rest of his men, in awe at the power this one girl held. After, when she emerged covered in the black blood of yrch and surrounded by their bodies, he could no longer deny the stories she told him.
That is when he believed.
There was a shift after that, when she became more than the shadow of Celebrían, more than the strange girl who fell in their world. He was not the only one to feel it. Word soon spread about what she did, and the people of Lothlórien, the Galadhrim, began to view her less like a living ghost, and more like a warrior, a leader.
To Haldir, she became someone he could put his faith in. In return, he listened and comforted her when she shared her distress and fears over meeting Elrond and the children, and then later he was there when she told him how horribly it had all went.
For Rúmil and Orophin, it was much the same. She had wormed her way into their hearts, slowly becoming like a sister they never even imagined having. That is why when Elladan and Elrohir suddenly ride up to their borders that night, a sliver of worry comes over them.
The twins’ smiles are wide when they find Buffy among the company of Wardens. “Nana!” Elladan calls, “We did not expect for you to meet us here. Did you know we were coming?”
Buffy hesitates, not prepared for this kind of meeting. As the twins dismount from their horses, Haldir goes to stand next to her, halfway covering her from their sight. Orophin and Rúmil follow his lead and each take a point around Buffy, protecting her from whatever may come. It causes the twins’ smiles to strain.
Haldir pierces them with his gaze. “Does Lord Elrond know you are here?”
They both look a bit embarrassed. Elladan says, “Father does not know.”
“At least not when we left,” Elrohir adds.
Haldir feels a small hand rest on his arm and turns his head back to see Buffy with a resolved gleam in her green eyes. She gently pushes him out of the way and then her face transforms, a bright smile replacing her grim look before. He and his brothers watch her approach the Peredhil, warmly embracing them and asking how they are.
They pick at her clothes. “Nana, why are you wearing such garments?” Elrohir asks.
She takes both of their hands and leads them deeper to where they’re stationed. “And ruin my gorgeous dresses in these woods? I don’t think so.”
The boys laugh at that, and all Haldir can do is watch as Buffy acts like someone she isn’t anymore. He looks at his own brothers, and both meets his gaze, the same worry in their eyes that are in his showing through. They simply follow Buffy, and hope for the best.
She has taken them up the talan, leaving the horses to wander underneath the trees, telling the boys it is too late to travel into the city. Elladan and Elrohir seem to simply soak in her motherly presence and tell her how much she is missed in Imladris. Elladan is telling her a story about traveling with the Rangers of the North when he suddenly stops, finally seems to take in the bow and quiver at her back, the blade at her side. Elrohir follows his line of sight, and they are both quiet for a moment. He sees that Buffy is about to break the silence, perhaps change the subject, but then Elladan whips around to face him, rage in his expression, and says, “Why is my naneth carrying weapons?”
Haldir does not miss a beat. “It is only as a precaution should anything occur.”
Elladan’s steps fall heavily on the platform with Elrohir right behind him. They both stop right in front of his face, Elladan’s whispers harsh in his ear. “You know what happened last time she was near yrch. She should be protected deep inside the city, not anywhere where even the threat of danger lurks. You know this, Haldir.”
Rúmil and Orophin push both brothers off of him and then Buffy is there in between them, her face full of disappointment, but in them or herself he does not know. “Stop,” she says, facing the twins. She stands there, resolute. “I can take care of myself.”
Elrohir shakes his head, goes and wraps his arms around Buffy, pressing his face into her golden hair. “But Nana, we do not wish to lose you again.”
He sees Buffy close her eyes, hiding the anguish he knows is there. Her voice is soft, just how they all remember Celebrían’s. “I’m sorry.”
The Peredhil thinks she’s apologizing for worrying them in this instance, but he knows she’s apologizing for leaving them, for not remembering them, for having to put up with this charade, for everything.
Everyone seems to settle after that. Posts are taken by some while others take a moment to rest. The twins and Buffy sit near the center and Haldir, who places himself close to her just in case, listens as Elladan and Elrohir try to convince Buffy to come back with them to Imladris.
“Everyone misses you dearly,” Elrohir says, “Won’t you please come home?”
Orophin catches his attention and motions him over. He gives one last glance to Buffy, notices her uncertainty, before moving towards his brother. “What is it?” he asks.
Orophin does not answer, just tilts his head north. Haldir follows the direction and sees a large black mass moving through the trees coming straight towards them. “Yrch,” he whispers, but everyone hears him nonetheless.
That one word springs everybody into action. Bow and arrows are silently drawn out. Before Buffy can do the same Elladan and Elrohir push her back. “Stay behind us, Nana. We’ll protect you,” Elrohir says.
Buffy fidgets in indecision. Haldir knows the Slayer inside of her is ready to jump into battle, but the person who wants to protect Celebrían’s children from the loss of their mother is just as strong.
There are too many for their small group. He does not know if they should engage the yrch, but soon the decision is taken out of his hands when the horses below, sensing something unnatural approaching, begin neighing in warning. The sound draws them, alerts them to their hidden presence. The horses do not have time to escape. They are shot down with poisoned arrows, their cries echoing to the top of the talan. The yrch target them next and soon they are bombarded with arrows. The elves fire back their own, but though their accuracy is much greater, it hardly makes a dent into their numbers.
Haldir looks back for Buffy, and when he finds her tucked behind the Peredhil, it is the Slayer looking back. She calmly steps forward, about to fulfill her duty, when Elladan grabs her. “Nana, you must stay back!”
A poisonous arrow is fired, and then Elrohir gasps. In Buffy’s hand is the arrow meant for Elladan. Even amidst the fighting, both brothers are left gaping in awe. Elladan looks at the woman he is so sure
is his mother, and asks, “How?”
Buffy breaks the arrow, the cracking echoing inside the brothers. Her eyes are full of sympathy and sorrow. “I’m sorry,” she says, then she turns and just like that one night years ago, she dives off the platform into the group of yrch.
Haldir sees the Peredhil cry out, just as he did before. He thinks how much worse this is for them, sons who found their mother broken and bleeding because of yrch, to have their mother surrounded by them once more. They yell at his men to bring her back, are just about to climb down themselves, when Orophin and Rúmil stop them and make them look.
Haldir knows what they see. Down there is not the woman who raised Elladan and Elrohir, but the Slayer who slices through her enemy, performing her own kind of deadly dance. In moments she is done and surrounded by the bodies of the fallen.
The elves come down to congratulate her, but the Peredhil are still on the talan. Haldir stays behind with them, watches as their faces slowly come to accept what they’ve seen. He looks down to Buffy, sees Rúmil wipe some blood off her face and tease her for smelling like an orc now, Orophin chuckling behind him.
“That is not our mother,” Elrohir says.
Buffy’s gaze flicks up to them, her sight settling on Elladan and Elrohir before meeting him. “No,” he says, “but that does not make her any less important.”
He leaves them to their thoughts and joins his brother and Buffy. Though she does indeed smell and is covered in orch blood, he pulls her into his arms. “It does not make you any less important,” Haldir whispers into her hair. She presses her face into his chest, her little fingers grasping his tunic. He feels the front of his shirt getting wet, but from blood or tears he does not know.