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Summary: Faith uses the W-word and finds herself in a real battle for a change... in Middle Earth.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Lord of the Rings > Faith-CenteredFanFR1316,6521134,34216 Jul 0416 Jul 04Yes
Disclaimer: Neither
the Buffyverse nor the Ringverse belong to me, though I wish I had Joss's genius
and Tolkien's imagination (or the contrary, I'm not picky). This was written
for Marion's birthday (aka samwise gamgee fan). J'espère que ça
te plaira, et joyeux anniversaire!


By Fan'


When fighting Faith liked to think of herself as poetry in motion. If there
was one thing she was good at it was Slaying, and she enjoyed taking it to whole
new levels. It used to be "just fun," in her early years. Now, it
was art. It was a matter of smoothness and grace, of bending just the right
way and striking out at just the right time, of dodging just enough and of staking
without breaking the movement.

It was now seven years since she had been Called. Of course, she had had time
to perfect Slaying into making it an art. And predictably, she was now bored.

"I wouldn't mind," she told her opponents throwing a quick punch,
before dropping, "if you guys tried a little harder," staked one,
it turned to dust. Then she spun, right in time to flip backwards, kicking one
vamp in the chin in passing. Three of them were circling her, and the fight
was unfair for them. "Yo, guys, seriously," she sent another kick
to the head, before rolling to stake one through the back, more dust, "make
an effort. For me?" A dodge and a smile, a punch and a stake, and more
dust, "I really wish that," a somersault and an extended leg just
in time to propel the last one forward, "I got a real battle for a change."
She sidestepped and staked again, shaking her head as more dust filled the air.

She brushed the dust from her clothes with a sigh. Yep, things were boring.
She had left Cleveland behind a few months before, after it had appeared that
there were more than enough well trained Slayers to take care of the Hellmouth.
The cemeteries were getting too crowded for her liking.


Robin had decided to stay and they had parted on good terms, which was a first
for Faith. Usually, she parted in no terms at all. But the two of them had actually
stayed buddies. He was her first true friend. She even called regularly to give
him news and check up on the Council, ready to go back if some apocalypse or
other required as many Slayers as possible.

But ultimately, her little tour of the States wasn't any better than Cleveland.
She had just wanted something to fight the restlessness. It had been a far shot,
no matter how short it had fallen, but it had been worth the try.

A real battle once in a while wouldn't be unwelcome.


In the shadows of a mausoleum, a heavily ridged
face grinned. Like most of her colleagues, the vengeance demon had been reassigned
from vengeance cases to the ever-growing Slayer situation. There were far too
many to maintain the balance, and everyone's efforts were bent upon ridding
them of as many of those Chosen Ones as possible. This was a golden opportunity
Faith had just presented her. There would be one less Slayer in this world,
and the demon would probably get a promotion for it. D'Hoffryn might even invite
her to one of his renowned dinner parties, with the cream of the demon world.



Faith stopped on her way out of the cemetery, her sixth sense suddenly all tingly.
It figured she wouldn't have dusted all the vamps. Please let it not be
a fledgling, she prayed to the PTBs. A master vampire would be welcome.
Or even better, a real dangerous demon with some brains to go with their strength.


She turned around and "oofed" in shock as one of the ugliest demons
she'd ever seen tackled her to the surprisingly hard ground. Pain lanced up
her elbow but she lost no time in head butting the demon, disarming it and using
its own sword to cut its throat, before rolling it off of her before too much
blood got on her. Not much of a battle either.

Then the enormity of what had happened struck her.


This wasn't the cemetery.


This was a battlefield, and everywhere around her people and demons were fighting
to the death. It even looked like she was on the battlements of a fucking castle!
Below her, on a wide plain, herds of the ass-ugly demons were massing and pushing
forward, climbing up ladders.

The mother of all explosions shook the very rampart she was standing on and
she fell to her knees, hands going instinctively over her ears.


She watched with wide eyes as stones and men fell back, blown as they had been
by the explosion. There was now a huge gap in the wall, and the beasts were
all rushing forward to get in. "Fuck."

Then she snapped out of it. This was what she had wanted, after all. A real


She picked up the weird sword she had taken from the demon and set forth in
the battle; using all the skills her years as a Slayer had taught her. The fact
that some of the other fighters battling the demons had pointy ears completely
escaped her attention.




When Haldir first noticed her, he wondered if it was possible the Rohirrim had
sent their women into battle after all. He sliced through the neck of an Uruk,
keeping an eye on her slim figure, and only just missed being run through by
another as he watched her jump over one of them to skewer it from behind. She
was handling one of the Uruk's own swords too, a weapon that should have been
far too heavy for someone of her build.


Haldir came back to his own fight just in time to sidestep the coming blow and
slew the Uruk-hai from behind. He was forced to pay more attention to his surroundings
and less to the small figure of a woman who seemed to be killing the Uruk-hai
almost effortlessly.


The few glimpses he did catch of her from time to time served in quelling his
fear for her life. If anyone were going to survive this battle, it was she.
Seldom had he seen such graceful, skilled warriors in action; only the most
accomplished of his own kind could dream of rivalling the fluid deadliness and
the implacable strength that seemed to underline her every move.

He eventually lost sight of her and stopped trying to locate her as a new swarm
of Uruk-hai rushed their failing defences. A few long minutes later, when he
heard Aragorn shout for them to retreat to the keep, he relayed the order without

The pain to his arm came as a surprise and he slew the Uruk that had slashed
him almost instinctively, taken up in the alarming discovery that he might not
live to see the next Age after all. He turned around when he heard a grunt that
sounded much too close to him for his safety, only to watch the corpse of the
Uruk that would have brought its blade down on him drop to the ground.

His eyes locked for the shortest moment with those of his saviour, and he was
not surprised at the age he read in them, an age belied by her outward appearance.

She did not seem to take him in, immediately whirling away to attack another
one of the beasts.


Haldir followed her example after a second, clutching his wounded arm to him
and forcing his new awareness of his mortality down. There was a stalemate of
sorts during a few minutes, but despite their best efforts, the Uruk-hai were
slowly and inexorably pushing them back towards the keep.

Haldir was about to enter the keep when he caught sight of her again, a few
feet into the swarm of Uruk-hai, hacking away at them with the same fluidity.
Elves and Rohirrim were retreating, but she was holding her ground and did not
seem in a haste to follow the orders. Though she might be exceedingly deadly,
she would not hold much longer once every one else was back in the keep, and
Haldir ran back towards her, slaughtering as he went.

He had been fighting by her side for a few minutes before he found enough breath
to yell at her, "Did you not hear the order to retreat?" Not many
could manage to yell in an arrogant and haughty manner, even less so when fighting
for their lives, but Haldir was part of those skilled few.

She only cast him a dismissive glance and muttered something to herself in a
language he did not understand.

Haldir flexed his wounded arm tentatively and found that, even though moving
it hurt infinitely, it had lost none of its capacity. He gritted his teeth and
secured it around the woman's waist, pulling her backward. She was surprised
and her elbow flew into his face, catching him in the cheekbone.


He cursed and snapped at her to stop her nonsense and come with him, all the
while still fighting off Uruk-hai. She seemed to realize what he meant at last
and nodded at him, retreating slowly to the keep.


The doors were closed and barricaded after them.


Haldir leaned against a wall, breathing heavily. He brought a hand to his cheekbone
and was relieved to find that it was not broken.

He only realized she was standing in front of him when she spoke a few words
in that odd language of hers, gesturing vaguely to his face. All of her weight
rested on one of her hips and her body language, not to mention the look on
her face, spoke of casualness. Then she broke into a grin and said a few more
words, looking rather excited. Her look reminded him of that Rúmil wore
when there were celebrations at Caras Galadhon.

The thought roused his concern for his brothers. Were they well? Many of his
kin had fallen tonight; he had seen the battlements strewn with their bodies.

As if on cue, Rúmil appeared at his side. "Who is your friend, muindor?"
he asked in Sindarin.

"Where is Orophin?" was all Haldir answered, careful to keep his tone

"Putting what little healing skills he has into practice." A shadow
crossed Rúmil's usually light features. "Many have passed on to
the Halls of Waiting, but we three were... lucky. Who is your friend?"
he repeated, eyes alighting on the woman.

Haldir looked back at her.


She was watching them with raised eyebrows, her face a picture of awe.


He truly looked at her for the first time, high forehead and big brown eyes
with blue pigment colouring her lids, full lips rendered darker by red pigment,
long wavy brown hair, no amour to better protect her and garments that puzzled
him – close-fitting breeches of a rough, dark material, high-heeled shoes
that should not have been practical at all for fighting, an even-closer-fitting
red piece of cloth leaving her throat more than visible under a jacket of the
same material as the breeches.

Haldir ignored his body's reaction to her and was about to tell his brother
that he did not have the slightest clue when Aragorn stepped up to them and
addressed her in Westron. "Indeed, we are all most curious to know who
you are." The man's tone was not outright demanding, but there was a current
of steel underlying his words.

The woman looked at him with a slight frown and casually blabbered out something
in her language.


Surely, if anyone could understand her, it would be Aragorn. His travels as
a Ranger had taken him to many uncharted territories. But his frown only grew
after she spoke, and he glanced at Haldir as if to ask if he understood her.


Haldir simply shook his head.

The woman rolled her eyes and pointed at herself. "Faith."
She then proceeded to mime punching something, pointed at herself again, and
raised two thumbs up.

Haldir wondered whether she was not simply out of her mind.

"Take her to the caves with the other women," Théoden ordered
as he mounted his horse. "We have a stand to make."

Haldir stepped in between her and the King. "She is a most skilled warrior
and would not go amiss when we ride out."

"I will not have a woman fight with us, let alone one I know nothing about."

"Even one who could take any of your men down without much of an effort?"
Haldir enquired with an arched eyebrow. He turned up his nose. "Though
she might have more trouble with an Elf."

"Haldir is right, my lord," Aragorn then pressed. "I have seen
her skill."

Théoden made a dismissive wave of his hand. "Very well. I care not."

Haldir turned back to her and nodded towards the horses.


She spread her hands in ignorance, shrugging with a saddened pout.


He frowned, extended his arm towards her. "You can ride with me."

She watched him for a few seconds, and then headed for the horses.


Haldir mounted first, and then Rúmil helped her settle behind Haldir.
One of her arms closed around his waist; she still held the Uruk sword in her
other hand.

Rúmil repeated the word she had seemed to say was her name, Faith,
to draw her attention, and traded her the weapon against a long Elvish sword
that Haldir recognized as that of Nimred, a close friend of his brother.

"A weapon more befitting of you," Rúmil told her with one of
his dazzling smiles.

Haldir raised enquiring eyebrows at his brother, nodding towards the sword.
Surely Rúmil would not appear so light-hearted if anything had happened
to Nimred.

Rúmil shook his head. "He is wounded, but Orophin assured me he
would pull through. He needs but a few hours' rest."

There was no time to discuss it further, for Théoden ordered the doors
open and Rúmil barely had time to mount that they were riding out into
the horde of Uruk-hai.


The beasts' surprise and the advantage of being mounted enabled them to ride
their way into the plain in front of the battlements. All through the battle,
her arm stayed clenched around Haldir's waist, her hand gripping his amour.
A few times he heard her talk to herself out loud, as when Mithrandir brought

He grew alarmed when he felt her suddenly leave his side, having already grown
accustomed to her body in his back and the counterweight of her arm around him,
but as he turned around on his mount he found her safely hacking away at Uruk-hai.
Of course it was naught but an illusion; not even she could be safe in such
a battle.

The Uruk-hai soon acknowledged their defeat and scattered, making for a forest
that had not stood there a short while earlier.


Mithrandir ordered them all to stay back and Haldir watched in awe as the sound
of stampeding, grunting Uruk-hai were progressively, sinisterly quelled.

Orders were soon given to gather the dead and bury them, and Haldir let his
eyes roam over the survivors to find her. She was wiping Nimred's blade on a
rag of black cloth she had probably torn from an Uruk's garment. He strode up
to her, hearing as he passed them by Aragorn telling Mithrandir about her.

"You are unharmed," he told her, despite knowing that she could not
understand him. It was not his even tone that was going to clue her in on what
he might be saying.

She flipped her hair over her shoulder as she looked up at him and grinned again.
She was such a peculiar creature, so thrilled at having taken part in a most
bloody battle. She spoke again, as casually as ever. Was there anything that
she would not approach in a casual way? Her eyes acquired a particular twinkle
as she let them quite significantly roam over Haldir's body. His own eyes were
again drawn to the tight red cloth following so closely the swell of her breasts.

Aragorn and Mithrandir's arrival snapped him out of it, and he hoped he was
not as easy to read as he feared.


The wizard's brow was frowned as he spoke a few words to her in one language
after another.

She watched him curiously at first, but quickly seemed to get bored and stopped
it with a hand on his arm and a few words of her own. She then looked demandingly
at Haldir.

Mithrandir turned to him. "It seems that she has taken a liking to you,

"Can you understand her?" he hopefully asked, despite knowing the

The Istar shook his head. "What do you know of her coming here?"

"Naught. I spotted her first while she was slaughtering Uruk after Uruk.
I know naught of her, the way she came to be here, or the reasons behind her

Aragorn and Mithrandir both still looked highly suspicious, but the Istar finally
relented. "She has seemed to be naught but an asset so far. If she is willing
to fight with us, we cannot afford to turn her down. But I would not accept
her unconditionally. Would you watch over her?"

Haldir could not help raising his eyebrows in surprise. "I do not know
that I am the most qualified for this mission, Mithrandir."

"Ever were you successful in watching over the borders of Lórien,"
Mithrandir countered with his usual good-natured gruffness. "She does seem
to favour you, does she not?"

Haldir glanced at her; she had lost patience with following a conversation she
could not understand a word of and had plopped herself down on the body of an
Uruk, studying closely the sword she had wielded through the battle. She clearly
approved of its design. The Elf looked back at the wizard and the Dúnadan.
"Ay, I shall watch over her."

Mithrandir nodded with a tight smile and made to go, stopping at the last moment.
"Oh, does she have a name?"


Haldir watched her look up upon hearing her name.


She held his look for a moment, while Aragorn and Mithrandir walked away without
a word, then stood up and wiped at the back of her breeches as if to dust them.
She flattened a hand on her throat and again said her own name, before pointing
at him with raised eyebrows. She wanted his name.


She repeated it rather clumsily, seeming to have particular difficulty with
the rolling 'r' and the exact texture of the 'l'.


Haldir silently berated himself for not being irritated at the peculiar way
she pronounced his name. What foolishness was this? He turned his nose up on
her and repeated his name with the right pronunciation. She laughed at him and
said it again in that imperfect way, a challenge shining in her eyes.



"Hannon le," she said clumsily as Orophin
finished dressing her wound.

The Elf rose, acknowledging her thanks, if not her gratitude, with a nod. In
fact, she had been adamant that he should not tend to her, but Orophin was known
to be as stubborn as Haldir himself. She had finally sighed and let him apply
balms and bandages in silence.


The Marchwarden felt a hint of guilt for the wound that she had taken, before
burying it under some irritation at her. It was hardly his fault that she had
been unable to control her horse. She had insisted on riding on her own in the
morning, after all. He had endeavoured to make her see reason, but how did you
bring your point across when the one that ought to be convinced could not understand
a word of what you were saying?

Of course the few basic riding principles he had tried to engrain in her over
the last few days would not be enough for her to ride on her own. But she too
could be a most stubborn creature, and Haldir had been weary of arguing and
had decided she might as well ride on her own and get thrown off her mount if
she so wished. What was it to him?

She had done better than he had thought she would, until they neared the Gate
of course. Her horse took fright, as did all of its congeners, only she was
unable to calm it down. She was thrown off and received a long gash along her
forearm as she fell on a sharp rock, while her horse ran away.

As it was, she stood up and shrugged on her jacket. Haldir had noted with mounting
annoyance that many a gaze had been directed at her bosom as soon as she had
taken it off for Orophin to tend to her wound. It was to be expected, and yet
it rankled him.

Aragorn signalled they should move on and Haldir whispered a few more soothing
words to his mount as they entered the Gate, one after the other. He remained
behind as much as he could, the last of Elves and Men to enter, and as he looked
back he saw her and Gimli exchange a daring, complicit look, then walk in together.


The relationship of sorts that she had developed with the Dwarf was an odd one,
as was everything about her. Gimli did not understand a word of what she said
either, but they had reached an agreement of some kind. A look here when either
of them made a remark, a snort there at someone's expense or a grunt at another's;
they seemed to be on a certain level of understanding. That, too, annoyed Haldir.

At one point something on the left of their path glittered and Aragorn came
closer, giving his own torch to Elladan that the twin might light him as he
crouched down in front of a man's body, naught but bones under his mail and
hauberk. His belt and helm had glittered as they passed, for they were gilded.


Haldir approached steadily closer, no more afraid of this than of the whole
place; as Legolas and his brothers, the ghosts of Men held no dominion over

She had knelt next to Aragorn, and when Haldir looked at her eyes he saw there
reflected a temptation and a hunger that frightened him. She raised a hand towards
the gold, but Gimli beat the Elf to it and laid his own on her arm, bringing
it down.

"No, lass," the Dwarf grumbled with a shake of his head. "In
any other cave I would have been the first to run to the gleam of the gold.
Not here. Let it lie."

She seemed to see something in him that brought her back to her senses, for
she stood back up, nodding, and stepped away from the remains of the man.


Aragorn spoke his assent, and then challenged the ghosts of Men held in this
place to meet him at the Stone of Erech.


The challenge was followed by utter silence, such silence as even Haldir's Elvish
hearing deemed complete. Then a blast of chill hair blew through the caves and
put out the torches, which could not be lit again.


They walked on and Haldir again walked at the hind, where she was trudging alongside
Gimli. Not for the first time, he wondered whether Mithrandir had chosen his
words purposefully when he had asked Haldir to watch over her. While the Elf
had then seen in the words nothing more than the necessity to keep an eye on
her, ignorant as they were of her origins, nature or purpose, it seemed that
he was also meant to look after her. He would not be content otherwise.

After a few more hours of traipsing through the dark caves, the company finally
walked out into the open air. They mounted again, Gimli with Legolas and her
with Haldir, and broke into a gallop to reach the Stone of Erech ere the day
was over. The dead were following close on their heels, and they frightened
many an inhabitant of the land they crossed.

The shadows of the night were dark indeed when they reached the Stone of Erech.


There Aragorn blew the silver horn Elrohir presented him and called forth the
Dead to honor their Oath at last, and be set free once they helped them free
the land around Pelargir from all servants of Sauron.


The Dead did not answer but with silence and the company set down for the night.

Haldir saw the uneasiness of the Men. Dúnedain they might be, but those
ghosts unsettled them in a way the Elf could not quite grasp. Gimli the Dwarf
fared little better, holding an animated conversation with Legolas to belie
his anxiety. Faith had rolled herself in a blanket and was sitting but a few
feet from the Stone, as if to put as much distance as possible between her and
the ghosts.

Orophin stepped up next to Haldir, face as unreadable as ever. "You were
never one to take your duty lightly, muindor."

"There is darkness in her," was his only answer.

"Ay, darkness of past deeds, but darkness of emotions, too. Guilt, and
a great sorrow, though she would not have us see it."

Haldir looked back at her hunched form and saw that her shoulders were shaking.



Faith rolled herself up in a blanket and edged close to the big oval stone.
She purposefully avoided looking at the lands around them, and it wasn't just
a question of her tingling sixth sense. Sure, those ghosts would have made anybody's
skin crawl, but she had seen worse things in her time.


Namely herself, for starters.


They reminded her a bit too clearly of a period of her life she liked not to
think about too much. Their coldness and their deadness brought back memories
of what she had done, of where she had been headed.

The looming thought that she might be stuck in this place forever did not help.

Each hour, each day spent here increased the feeling. She had not thought much
about it at first, convinced that whatever had brought her here to help with
that battle would bring her back eventually. But as time wore on, she felt less
and less sure of that. And the prospect of being stuck here was not a happy

She drew her legs to herself and laid her forehead on her knees. The posture
was unlike her, but she was not feeling much like herself. There were shadows
everywhere she looked, and neither staying in place nor moving forward looked
like the way to avoid them.


She missed Robin horribly, she realized with alarm. There was a part of her
that could not but acknowledge that. She was longing to hear him reassure her
in that calm, soothing voice of his. Even when she only had him on the phone
she could guess when he smiled, the devilish smile that, indeed, made him prettier
than her.


There were also the many unresolved issues she had left behind her. She would
never have admitted to it if she had still been in her world, but a part of
her had never let go of the hope that Buffy and she could make things right
between them again.

She was exhausted in all possible ways, she thought in her defence when she
realized she was crying, fat tears rolling down her cheeks to end on her denim-clad


She had been dropped into a whole other world, in the middle of a war for what
she could make out, nobody trusted her – not like that was new –
and she could not make herself understood by any of them.

She started when a hand was laid on her arm. She looked up into a pair of blue
eyes that were, for once, warm though guarded. She wondered again what those
pointy-eared guys were, to sometimes have such age reflected in their looks.


She wiped away at her tears and frowned defensively. "What?"

Haldir did not say anything, displaying uncharacteristic hesitation instead.
His expression seemed to flutter between his usual arrogant and snotty mask,
and one of concern and sympathy that she had not seen on him before.


The latter eventually won out.


It made him painfully beautiful, an echo of the raging emotions within Faith's
chest and a mirror of her suffering. She could not hold back her tears any longer.

After a few seconds of immobility, Haldir puller her to him to offer her what
comfort he could by his silent presence. Both would have heartily denied it,
but it was cuddled against Haldir that Faith silently cried herself to sleep
that night.




Faith leaned forward on the balcony, looking down at the white city below.


She was vaguely aware of the presence of the guard that was tailing her, somewhere
in the hallway. She was used to him by now. Him or another; still, now that
the war was over, they did not completely trust her, at least not enough to
let her roam through the White Tower on her own.


Her position was an odd one; she was respected for her role in the battles she
had taken part in, and yet not trusted. Aragorn and his companions liked her,
she was pretty sure, but they did not let that cloud their judgment regarding
everything they did not know about her.

Aragorn was a pretty decent guy.

Which was why he deserved that beautiful elleth he had just married.
The celebrations were still going on downstairs, and would probably carry on
until dawn. Faith had considered getting wasted, but had stopped drinking before
she crossed a line she could not come back from. She had spent the feast tucked
between Gimli and a guy she did not know and had proceeded to get bored out
of her mind.


The bases of Sindarin Rúmil had managed to drill into her skull
were of no help to follow the conversations at the table; they were probably
in Westron and Rúmil hardly spoke it himself. Since he had been
the only one to have the time and will to bother trying to make her able to
communicate with others, she knew all in all five words in Westron:
thanks, goodbye, hello, kill, and fight. The basics, right?

She had lost hope to go back home. Her heart tightened again at the thought
of Robin.


Rúmil reminded her of him, sometimes. He was so patient with her, when
she clearly wasn't cut for all that intellectual stuff and was a very slow learner.
He was patient, gentle, and amusing. As pretty as Robin, too, in a very different
way; they all were, those edhel.

She let her gaze sweep from the city's lower levels to the land beyond, the
Pelennor where they had fought not so long ago. The ground still bore marks
of the battle.


She wondered whether they would let her go away on her own, if she wanted to.
Not that she did. She would not know where to go. In fact, she did not know
what the fuck she was supposed to do at all, now that the war was over.




"She walked off on her own," Rúmil told Haldir as Orophin and
he walked up to him.

The Marchwarden remained impassive, not willing to admit that he had indeed
been looking for her in the crowd.

"Has she expressed what she wanted to do with herself now?" Orophin
asked nonchalantly. Well, he did nonchalantly about as well as Haldir did light-heartedly.


The Marchwarden stared evenly at his two brothers as Rúmil answered,
apparently oblivious to his elder brother's scrutiny: "Not a word. I think
she is confused and unable to choose a path. She might not even know of her

"I thought it would be obvious she were to stay in Minas Tirith,"
Haldir remarked evenly, still studying them.

Rúmil frowned. "I am loth to be parted from her." Haldir did
his best to ignore the knot in his chest at the thought that Rúmil might
have such ties with her. His brother's face cleared of any line to gain an innocent
look. "Furthermore, she can stumble her way through some basic Sindarin
sentences, but knows five words of Westron at most. We could not expect her
to reside in a Mannish city, could we?"

Haldir remained silent at that, and Orophin stepped in, aiming at a surprised
tone. "Do you mean to say you would want her to travel back with us to

"You are a sadly poor actor, muindor," Haldir told him with exasperation.
"I do admit that I would not feel at ease, leaving her behind. Have you
suggested to her that she might come with us?"

Rúmil shook his head, a smirk playing on his thin lips. "I rather
thought to leave you the honor. Our lady earlier confided in me that neither
she nor her husband would see any objection to her presence in their realm,
and that they trusted one exceptional Marchwarden to take care of her."

Haldir looked at one face, then the other. They were so proud of themselves
that he felt like grabbing one head to slam it against the other. He was always
wary that his brothers should see through him, for it always led them to push
him to do the things he ought to, but would not do. Or was that would, but ought
not to do?

He raised an eyebrow at them in a challenging manner. "Very well. I shall
go and have a word with her." He left before they had the time to say anything
to him and was indicated the direction she had taken by one of the guards on
duty at the entrance of the room.


He found her soon enough and dismissed the guard Elessar had set on her.


She turned to him as he approached, and once again he was struck by her appearance.


She had not let them dress her in a gown, not even for Elessar's wedding with
the lady Undómiel, but wore the same kind of clothes as she had upon
her arrival. These had been cut and sewn especially for her by the best seamstresses
of the White City, modelled after what she had managed to explain and sketch.
The material was not that which she favoured for her breeches, for they did
not have such in Arda, but it was as close as they could get. The ones she had
on were dark blue and followed her every curve, and the dark piece of cloth
that tried to cover her upper body was as unsuccessful at it as her original
top had been. It left the whole of her arms uncovered, as well as her throat,
and attracted the eye to the swell of her breasts.


Again, his body reacted to her despite his better judgment, and he forced himself
to look up into her face with irritation. He did not like to be so out of control.


Her big eyes were shining with something he could not quite name, or did not
dare to. He forced himself to speak past the exasperating tightness in his throat,
slowly in hope that she would understand him: "Rúmil told me that
you had no plans for your future."

She frowned, tilting her head to the side. "Plans?" she awkwardly

Haldir took a few steps closer to her. "What you will do now."

Her face cleared in understanding for an instant, clouded again the next. The
glint had disappeared from her eyes and her whole posture spoke of unease. Her
gaze wandered to a tapestry on the wall. Her accent was still thick and unlike
any other he had ever heard as she spoke one of the sentences she knew best.
"I do not know."

He made his sentence as simple as he could for her to understand, resenting
the fact that it got closer to the raw truth of the matter than he was comfortable
with. "Rúmil, Orophin and I thought that you could come back with
us to Lothlórien." He studied her face even more closely as she
frowned, clearly trying to ascertain what he had said.


"Come back with you? To your land?"



The question surprised him. Why? Did she not realize the honor that she was
shown? "Why ever not?"


"Why?" she stubbornly insisted. "What is in your land for me?"

"Friends," Haldir replied earnestly. "Rúmil has grown
quite attached to you," he hastened to clarify. "Beauty, too. You
have not seen true beauty until you have seen the city of Caras Galadhon."

She stared at him in silence for a few seconds and he slowly retreated behind
his impassive mask, uneasy at being truly seen by her. "Beauty?" she
finally asked with a small helpless shake of her head.

Haldir could not help the corner of his lips to lift in the shadow of a smile.
"Ay. None could teach you the true meaning of the word until you came to

She smiled back hesitantly, and yet her eyes were shining again.


Beautiful. He could have taught her the word by holding up a mirror to her face.
Her long hair fell in lascivious waves around her face and his fingers had softly
stroked one of the strands before he could hold himself back.


He froze his hand and looked back up in her eyes with surprise at his own actions,
to find her looking at him with unmistakable desire.

Her voice, although dropped, rang with challenge. "You ask me come with

He let his hand linger an instant longer on her hair, brushing his fingertips
along her collarbone, and then snatched it back.


She stepped forward before he could do the contrary, head tilted up toward his.
Her eyes were fixed on his, her lips slightly parted, her breath blowing warmly
against his skin. Her hands slid up to his nape and brought his face down toward
hers, stopping with their lips a hair's breadth away.

She waited for him to close the gap.


He had only just entertained the thought of pulling back that he complied, pressing
his lips on hers in a kiss as soft as it was demanding.


The moment passed and their tongues met in an almost violent show of longing
and fervor. Their bodies pressed close, leaving nothing to the imagination as
Haldir's hands naturally found their way to her waist and pulled her even closer.
It seemed as though there would always be too much space between them.

Her hands roamed over his body, from his nape down his muscular back, on the
broad expanse of his chest, all the while their tongues probed and stroked,
licked and twirled. Her hands settled on his chest and pushed slightly, just
enough to break the kiss. They were both breathing heavily, eyes glazed over,
skins on fire.

"I come to your land, ay." She slid her hands down his chest as if
to delay the moment of separation and stepped back, meaning to go.


Their eyes had still not strayed the ones from the others. She made to walk
past him.


Haldir caught her wrists.


Still they held each other's gaze, for what seemed a time both too short and
too long.

Slowly, they moved to stand in each other's arms.

~~ Fin ~~

The End

You have reached the end of "Granted". This story is complete.

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