Disclaimer: I don’t own LotR, I do own the original characters.
Times and Tales Series: Hearth and Hearts
Oh yeah life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin is gone
Oh yeah, they say life goes on
Long after the thrill of livin is gone, they walk on
-John Mellencamp, Jack and Diane
North America, Modern Times
She looked out over all the people gathered there, not finding the one she wanted. The one she had waited years for, craved to find. How much longer would she have to wait until he returned? At the gatherings, she was now the oldest, and she felt her years. It surprised her that her age had not started to show on her appearance, she still appeared as young as ever. Yet her presence was witness to all she had seen in the many ages. She had watched the world of mysticism fall, being taken over by the cynicism of a supposed superior race and modern times. Modern times that could only find their answers in the mysticism and superstition of the past. She was aware that everything in the world ran in circles. She had viewed the cycle of life for thousands of years on millions of faces. She would meet new people, young, barely over the age of twenty, and she would recognize their soul from a past acquaintance she had hundreds of years ago. The time had now come for the rise of mysticism again.
She glanced over the faces that occupied her once placid study. All appeared young, and yet she knew most here were over one hundred years. Her eyes traveled over the many faces until they came to rest on the twins in the corner. One boy, one girl. A boy with dark blond hair, sea-blue eyes, a lithe body that hid his muscles. A young girl, or so she seemed, with a head full of thick, dark hair. Her porcelain skin augmented the color in her dark green eyes. Among the gathered the twins did not hide their fully pointed ears. They openly spoke in an elvish tongue to each other, truly not concerned with the group gathered round. The twins had come to rely on each other for everything, realizing that even among the race of half-elvens which now populated this world, they stood out.
Rhiannon turned her eyes from her children and gave a sigh. She glanced towards the heavens, wishing she did not have to be in charge of this. At a ceremony just like this, six centuries ago, Brhagdan had finally decided to make the journey to Aman, following in the footsteps of his beloved wife who had left less than one hundred years before that time. Now it was Rhiannon’s turn to run this; to be in charge of her kind. On the nights of the Solstice and the Equinox, specifically the Winter Solstice, the magic in all the lands reached its zenith. The boundaries between all the separate worlds, realms, and times fell. Allowing for any sort of thing to travel through. If they were not out by sun rise the next morning, they were stuck.
Rhiannon and her kind were responsible for keep the malevolent spirits as far from this world as possible. They were guardians of the full and half-elven visitors, traveling to find out about their past or their future, either by traveling to Aman or coming to visit her here, in this safe portal. Few who made the journey across the realms to Arda, and further to Aman, made the journey back. And who could blame them, who would leave paradise if they did not have to?
Her thoughts turned to the beloved ones she had left in Arda and Aman. The King of Eryn Lasgalen made a point to visit her once a century, her strongest ally in helping her sustain for just one more year. His son, alas, he was a wholly different problem.
She knew he was not dead. She would not be here if he was. She wondered many things, if he even cared for the twins at all. When she had left Middle Earth, leaving her son, and at the time her only child with Legolas, in his care, choosing to have him be raised by full elves, she had no idea she was carrying the twins. Had not seen the signs, had not understood the messages sent to her. She had always held hope he would appear at one of the Solstices, and every time he did not, her hope became more and more diminished, until she did not even bother with hoping anymore. Years ago she had asked Haldir, behind Thranduil her closest companion from the Blessed Lands, to not reveal the true parentage of the twins. Haldir’s sharp rebuke of her, of denying the children the knowledge of their father when he had done nothing to deserve such contempt, had put her in the proper place. And still, Legolas had never come to meet his younger children. He would not come.
She was becoming almost, well this time in history it would call it robotic. Rhiannon hated that feeling. She knew she had to make a choice soon, but also knew her children, while thousands of years old, were still not ready to become leaders. Especially not in this time.
Rhiannon saw the three half-elvens off as they made their journey into a world they did not know. She always wondered at the shock they must feel, living in such a modern world, to go that far back in time. They were walking into a time inscribed in books which told the history of the world. If she had not lived such a thing, she did not know if she would be able to handle the change, the shock of having to work to do everything. Music, heat, light, hot water, cool air, these things were not automatic, could not be controlled by a simple switch. Despite it, so many returned to the land of their ancestors, their spirits calling for their ancient families.
Rhiannon walked back towards her house, waiting for whoever may stop by. She sat on her porch, curled up in her swing, watching the sky fill with the inky darkness of night. She sensed someone coming from the trees and cursed the fact that her heart rate had chosen to increase. She knew that presence well; he came to visit each Winter Solstice bearing news of her loved ones in Aman. He had informed her of the deaths of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, and finally had confirmed for her the death of one she had felt. The one that made her weep for weeks, the death of dear Gimli. She had never felt pain like that before in her life, not even when Aragorn had passed. She knew the grief she had felt was doubled, knew that somehow Legolas had reached through all the barriers that separated them to share his grief. Gimli’s death had occurred only days before that long ago Winter Solstice. He had heard about it on his way to her.
His main reason for coming was infatuation with her daughter, Aine. Rhiannon never thought she would live to see the day when Haldir fell in love. Aine still did not comprehend how lucky she was to have such a noble elf in love with her. She had not let the girl shun the attempts of courting by Haldir. She gave him a small nod as he ascended the wooden steps of her porch gracefully. He graced her with a rare and beautiful smile,
“Sadness does not suit you, Rhiannon. What has caused this in you?”
“I have never considered you a fool, Haldir. I would be pleased if you did not ruin my assumption.”
“You wish to leave this place.” He simply stated.
“I do, but it is not yet time.” She cast her gaze towards the window, “ They are not ready.”
“You have a very capable son, and daughter.” Haldir quietly chastised
“My son yearns for Aman, to travel there. You yearn to bring my daughter back there, someone must stay here. I have chosen to do that. Now, get in that house, my daughter has been preparing all day to see you.”
Haldir gave a small chuckle but proceeded to walk into her home, he gave her a playful pat on the head, “You and I shall talk later.”
“Of course we shall.” Rhiannon answered.
Her eyes turned towards the dark sky, admiring its majestic beauty and considered the notion of how midnight skies always caused one to contemplate.
She had named her daughter Aine, a Celtic name, a Celtic name for a Celtic warrior. She had named her son Taliesin, in honor of the great prophet who once lived. She did not give her children elven names for she did not know many, and the ones she did tended to be for males, she knew elvish history, the story of their times, but naming her daughter ‘Arwen’ would have been a level of careless arrogance even she could not stomach. No, their names were fitting for their temperaments. Her children deserved Celtic names, since they were raised in Celtic lands. She had left her homeland for thousands of years, now called Ireland, though how one would name the modern fae realm around the country she did not know, only a hundred years ago. Many of those who were of elven lineage choose to move to out of the cramped quarters of old Europe, many like her, moving to the new Americas, knowing that in the large cities of this land they could be seen as normal, as one of the everyday people, if a bit eccentric. The wide open and uninhabited lands farther into the continent had given promise to those who missed the open spaces of their past. Now, now though, their once haven was no longer quite so safe for them.
Indeed, no where was safe.
No, no one could be blamed for want to run to the Blessed Realms.
The new born half-elvens, they were the reason she stayed. They needed guidance, those that were new to this idea of living forever, that were ignorant of the past, the history, the culture, of their people.
She did not know who would follow in her footsteps as the teacher. She had always assumed it would be Taliesin , but realized he was more like his father. He had the thirst for that land which lay beyond the sea. Aine was content here, but Rhiannon was aware that her walls were becoming very weak when it came to Haldir. Rhiannon had a feeling he would start to come during the times of the Summer Solstice also, and then the Vernal Equinox, and so on and so forth, until he was here for many days. And then weeks, months, years, and then for good.
Maybe Haldir would be the one to follow in her steps. That thought brought a smile to her face, a twinkle to her eye, a bubble of laughter to rise.
“What makes you so amused, mother?”
“The thought of Haldir as the watcher, leader, of the elf-kind on this earth. A very entertaining thought.”
“I think you mean terrifying.”
Rhiannon smiled at her golden son, “Yes, perhaps you are correct. Taliesin, come sit with your mother.”
The lanky blond obeyed, holding her hands in his own. He kicked his foot out, swaying the porch swing into a gentle lull.
She smiled sadly at him, knowing this moment with him might be one of the last. Taking a hand from where he held them captive she ran her fingers over his face, laughing at the beard he was trying to grow, “A blond beard and fully pointed ears. I wish I could say you are rare among your kind, alas, Cirdan has held the cornerstone on elves with facial hair for a long time.”
Taliesin laughed but kept quiet, his eyes drawn towards the night sky.
“You are leaving me, my dear son. You shall be gone before the next dawn. I ask only that you remember me kindly.”
Taliesin stopped the porch swing, looking at her with surprise in his eyes.
“Yes, Taliesin, I know you mean to leave. I had hoped, selfishly, that you were not ready yet. Had told myself this very night that you could not be leaving me. A mother’s folly, I suppose.”
She held a hand up, stopping his words, “I hold no ill will towards you, and I never could. You desire to know of your past, where your other half comes from. You’ve grown up on the tales told to you by your grandfather. Taliesin, it is your right to go there, you more so than most. You, your sister, you both have a closer tie to those lands than any else gathered here tonight, save myself and Haldir. And give no heed to your sister, despite her ire, she will sorely miss you.”
“I have not yet told her I will be leaving.” Taliesin spoke softly.
“She knows, my son. She knows.”
Rhiannon stood up, placing a soft kiss on her son’s brow.
“Stay here for a while. Taliesin, and remind yourself beauty exists here as well. I ask that you only return once, to say goodbye, if you choose to stay there. Now, I must go speak with Haldir, we have many things to discuss.”
She often wondered why their talks always occurred in front of a fire place. Rhiannon enjoyed the warmth of the flames, but Haldir never said as much. He once commented he simply enjoyed staring into the fire, watching the play of colors, reveling in the sounds. Haldir could stare into the flames for hours, making conversation a bit difficult. As she walked into her bedroom, she noticed Haldir was not staring at the flames, but at the trees outside her window.
“Did they speak to you?”
Haldir glanced back at her, amusement coloring his face, “Why, yes, they did and they ask you to keep that hell demon you call a pet far away from them.”
“Haldir, how many times must I tell you, Dusty is not a hell demon, he is a cat. A small, grey, cat.”
“He may be small and grey, be his is vicious. He scared me.”
“You pulled his tail! What, did you expect him to do, hop up on his hind legs and do a little dance?”
Haldir cocked his head, pondering the image, “That would have certainly surprised me. To answer your question, I expected a scratch, not a bite.”
Rhiannon shrugged, “He’s a biter. Now, enough about my….”
“CAT. I wish to discuss with you….”
“Your son’s travel, yes, I know. If I lose him in a ditch, you shall kill me. If a let a horse injury him, you shall kill me. If one hair on his head is harmed, you shall kill me and if he gets killed, you shall kill me, bring me back to like, and kill me again,” Haldir finished with a bored expression, “you said something similar to me the first time I took Ronan out with me, and he is only your nephew.”
Rhiannon narrowed her eyes at him, “How has that mouth not gotten you into more trouble?”
Haldir smirking said, “This mouth has gotten me in..”
“Haldir, I do not want to know. You may one day marry my daughter. The very last thing I want to hear are tales about your past exploits. Please, cease.”
Haldir nodded his head, “As you wish.” He motioned toward the seats in front of the hearth, “shall we?”
Rhiannon took her seat, watching enviously as Haldir moved without a sound to his own seat.
They shared a look, silently challenging the other to go first. Rhiannon forced herself to not break out in childishly glee when Haldir broke first.
“Menepaurion sends his regards. He misses you greatly. He apologizes for not coming in the Spring, but there were problems in the household.”
“What sorts of problems? Is everyone well?”
“Physically, yes. Mentally….Egladhon has been acting out more. As old as he is, and now he starts acting like a child. Legolas forbids him to come each year, and each year Egladhon gets more frustrated. Menepaurion, Brhagdan, even Elladan has offered to accompany here and return him home. I do not know why Legolas will not let him journey here.”
Rhiannon was silent for a moment, “He fears if he lets Egladhon go, he shall never get him back.”
“Rhiannon, you can not be serious.”
“I wish I was not. Legolas, he, he has lost many in his life. Least of all me. His mother more so than most, and he has lost many friends. His own father is so far removed from him. I fear he will never let Egladhon come to this world.”
“Then why are you letting Taliesin go?”
She gave a sad laugh, “Because I cannot hold him here. Unlike Egladhon, Taliesin has grown up with the knowledge of his past. He has met his family from Arda. He knows they are so close, they are not strangers to him. All Egladhon knows of me is my name and of my exploits with Menepaurion and my brother, and I must say, neither one of those bode well for forming a good opinion of me. They both knew me as a stubborn, snotty-nosed brat.”
“As opposed to now?” Haldir chuckled at her annoyed gaze.
“I still wonder what mental condition has allowed me to hold one such as you so dear in my heart.”
“The same that has done similar things for me. Menepaurion still laments how far he has fallen, to yearn for the companionship of someone like you. Such a disgrace to elven kind.” Haldir tsked and shook his head.
Rhiannon agreed, “Indeed, I am a horrible pestilence, with my uncouth manners and my foreign ways.”
“The worst kind of plague, an outsider female of questionable heritage walking among noble elves.”
They silently stared at each other, both soon breaking out into laughter.
She sighed, grasping Haldir’s hand, “How much simpler my life would be, if I had just learned to fall for you instead.”
Haldir smiled back, “It would have solved many problems, to be sure. Then, of course, I’d desire the heart of my daughter and that is simply unacceptable.” Haldir pulled her towards him in an embrace, “We can not control it, you know, no matter how hard we try. We love who we love. Even if they refuse to remember us or, for long, had refused to acknowledge us. If it was simple and easy, I wonder, would it be worth it? Would we cherish it as much?”
Rhiannon rested her head on Haldir’s shoulder, “I do not know. I do not think so. Where does that leave us now, Haldir?”
Haldir ran a comforting had through her hair, “Waiting, always waiting, waiting in hopes that one day our wishes shall be granted.”
Silently the two friends held each other in comfort, reveling in the security of an embrace from an old friend, stealing just this small moment while there was still time.
For with the next dawn, things would begin to change.
Picture from Here