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Faril Nin [My Huntress]

Chapter 1: *Chapter One

by codilyn711

Title: Faril Nin [My Huntress]
Author: Codi Lyn { iluvobiwan91
Genre: Romance, Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Rating: PG-13 – R (for descriptive battle scene/wounds)
Pairing: Orophin/OFC [Gwaeron]
Timeline: Begins before the Fellowship enters Lórien in Third Age 3018… concludes during Fourth Age 250
Chapter: 1/13
Chapter Summary: “What is it, Tar? Do you sense danger, or is it just thunder to the east?” She murmured softly to her dog, knowing that somehow he truly understood her words and their meaning. He didn’t flinch as a rip of thunder roared overhead and she sighed. She had her answer.
Author’s Note: I don’t know quite what season it is when the Fellowship are in Lórien, and so there are a few changes in time-flow versus how things played out in the movies. Follows movie-verse, but I make a few references to things that happened in the books. But little things like these I have the license to play with, as the author. J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson have rights to the important stuff, this story is written purely for pleasure.

Chapter One

A young woman hummed a gentle tune as she walked south between the river Anduin and the great forest of Mirkwood. She found herself within sight of both the Drimrill Dale and the woodland realm at present and thought happily that she was ahead of her schedule to arrive in Lórien. This being possible only thanks to a much briefer visit in King Thranduil’s halls than she had anticipated. Apparently, she had missed her planned visit with his son by only a few days, as the Prince Legolas had an important message to deliver into Imladris.
The monarch would not reveal to her what, instead making it clear she was not welcome for an over-long stay. “Forgive my son’s absence, lady ranger. He would have enjoyed amusing himself with the adopted daughter of Elrond once more, as he seems oft to do.” His tone was flat and delivered with a humorless smile. At least he had provided her accommodations for the night, though the next morning found her ushered none-too-gently on her way. She obliged him with a smirk, fully aware of the King’s temperament toward those lesser— uninvited— beings that dared to make their presence known in his courts. Her gratitude was that his son had taken more after his Mother in the aspect of hospitality.
Odd, she found herself thinking that night, that her friend should be traveling to where she had only just come, and still not to have seen him en route. But the thought was shrugged from her mind and she now patted the giant dog beside her on his noble head, smiling at the loyal companion she had enjoyed in him for several years. “You’ve never given me the cold shoulder, aye, Tar?” The blue shorthaired canine merely leaned into her hand and continued to pant merrily.
Grinning, she pulled her hood over a dark braided head just as a light rain began to fall on them, the clouds o’erhead having threatened the storm all morning. Tar immediately ran forward and started to jump and prance about in the slow drizzle, attempting to catch each large droplet in his open maw. Gwaeron laughed delightedly and took off a fingerless glove to feel the fresh water splash upon bare skin.
Rain had never ceased to make her smile. It seemed a comfort to know that Ulmo and Manwë were still comrades and cooperated in their workings. If the Valar could not get along, then what hope was there for Arda’s lesser inhabitants?
Suddenly Tar stopped dead in his tracks and let out a low growl, his body rigid as he faced the dark woods to their left. His mistress looked up to the animal and then to where his attention had come to focus. Swiftly, she put her glove back on and unhooked her bow to string it, drawing an arrow to nock at the ready.
Gwaeron edged slowly toward the shadowed wood, the great dog matching her step for step in their advancement. “What is it, Tar? Do you sense danger, or is it just thunder to the east?” She murmured softly to her hound, knowing that somehow he truly understood her words and their meaning. He didn’t flinch as a rip of thunder roared overhead and she sighed. There was her answer.
They silently entered the dense forest, the rain muffling their movements as it sifted through layer upon layer of canopy above them. Her movements were cautious, more than aware of the treacherous traps Ungoliant’s seed would set for their prey in the bulk of Mirkwood’s land. Having been rescued by Legolas, and vice versa, on more than one occasion during previous visits to the realm, the lesson of caution was now permanently engraved in her. The already clouded light of day was lessened even more so upon entering the closeness of the trees, and Gwaeron’s green eyes took their sweet time adjusting to it, she noted with annoyance.
On guard, she turned sharply to her left at a rustling in the underbrush and Tar instantly took off headlong into it, barking uncharacteristically at the possible threat to his mistress. Falling to a squatting position with her arrow aimed at what lay beyond the shrubberies, the ranger waited for a signal from her canine partner.
“Ah! Away! Get you gone!” A male voice cried out difficultly in weak defense against her animal.
She called out to the stranger. “Friend or foe! I have no time for interrogations!” Standing, she dropped her voice lower than normal and spoke with authority, stepping warily toward the individual through the bushes.
“Friend! I am a friend! I have no means to harm and do not wish to!” His answer was frantic and Gwaeron relaxed her grip only slightly on the bowstring until she came through the brush to behold a terrified and beaten edhel. A small bundle he clutched protectively close to his chest while he tried to ward off her still-growling dog. Seeing him unarmed and backed –practically sagging-- against a tree, she withdrew her arrow altogether and slung the bow over her shoulder, silently commanding Tar to leave him be. Her animal backed away reluctantly and sat poised on his haunches.
Crouching before the elf who had now fallen to his knees, she questioned him, still with voice deepened and hood lowered to keep her gender obscured. “What do you do unarmed in the forests of Mirkwood?”
The stranger attempted to catch his ragged breath and gave Tar a wary look before leaning toward her with the bundle of cloth. “I have not the time to tell you, for my hours are swiftly running dry. You must save my daughter.” Gwaeron’s eyes widened as he unfolded thin layers to reveal a pale elfling’s sleeping face. Her bluish lips trembled from the cold and wet and the ranger put her fingers against the newborn’s face, finding her as chilled as ice.
With her hood now drawn back Gwaeron looked to the edhel briefly, stripping her gloves and tucking them into her belt before rubbing friction between her hands and pressing them to the child’s face. “What ails her? Elvenkind do not contract disease or illness.” She inquired and reasoned before glancing again to the gaunt elf leaning over his infant.
He shook his head, eyes glazed, and told her plainly. “Evil affects all, even the Firstborn. My wife bore her in the dungeons of Dol Guldur and died soon after. The Valar blessed me to escape with my daughter, but I know not what afflicts her still.” Gwaeron looked up at the elf in shock, never having seen or heard of an escape from the evil tower. Upon further scrutiny she realized his dreadful condition, his flight clearly not having come without great sacrifice. A dire wound stained his torso where his tunic now cradled the child; an insipidly pale countenance held eyes with no more the common brilliance of his race. His white hair clung to sodden flesh and framed a grief writ intricately upon the planes of his face. Wavering, — doubtless from great loss of blood—he stared hopelessly at the elfling, acknowledging naught else.
“You need caring for as well. Your injuries are grave…” Gwaeron began, reaching out to support his shoulder, but was caught by a raw and nearly skeletal hand, his stern expression forcing her to recoil.
“You will heal my daughter before anything. I am of no importance.” Tar’s soft growling could be heard over the continuous rainfall. She silenced the hound with a word, not daring to take her eyes from the elf’s, whose intense gaze trained solely upon hers. Their intensity turned to pleading and he implored her again. “Save her.” The hoarse whisper was nearly muted by another rumble of thunder that seemed to shake the ground, gently urging something to be done.
Slowly, she nodded and was released from his grasp to be given the babe. Once situated in her arms, the ranger’s cloak was utilized to protect the little one from increasingly moist air. “She needs the care of other elves. We can take her to Lothlorien…”
He shook his head and leaned back against the tree he had collapsed by, grimacing as he placed a careful hand across his bruised and seeping abdomen, struggling to breathe deep enough. “No. You must take her there, alone. I haven not the strength and would only serve to slow your progress. No time can be wasted.”
Gwaeron pressed her lips in a dissatisfied line, ill content with the way things were playing out. “Nor can I simply leave you here with foes in the surrounding wood… and you are too weak to wield any weapon.”
He shook his head and looked at her sternly. “You will leave me here… You must take her to Lórien with all speed, else she fade. Whatever befalls me, it is Eru’s will.”
The child stirred gently in her hold and the lady ranger glanced down upon her to see the babe snuggle against her leather-clad chest, still not rousing from the fevered slumber, which held her. Gwaeron looked up to see Tar gently nosing the fabric to see the elfling for himself. A solution presented itself, and she scratched the fur on his withers. “I will leave Tar with you, then. He will protect your life with his. You will find there is none braver than perhaps Huan, himself.”
The elf’s damaged hand laid upon the dog’s head and Tar stepped closer to sit beside his new charge, satisfying the ranger. She stood to her full height, adjusting the infant in her grasp, and told him firmly. “I promise, I will come back. Do not move from here and I shall find you the more swiftly.” Receiving a small nod in answer, Gwaeron pulled her hood down once more and turned to make hastily on her way.
The rain continued for an aching eternity, soaking the lady ranger through till she trembled. A frown came to her face every few moments when she checked on the still baby, her fingers gratefully finding a weak beat each time she checked for pulse. It took coaxing, but she managed to feed the little one a pulp of crushed calming herb, allowing a more peaceful rest, though the fever continued.
Winds had picked up now that the storm was thicker and blew rain at their back, frantically urging her to keep moving until they made it. Gwaeron began to talk with the babe as she trudged on, attempting to keep both herself and the child warmer with the exertion. “I imagine your mother was beautiful, Véredhiel. Your eyes are so much brighter than your father’s, so very blue… like the sky above this thick veil of cloud, I’m certain of it.” As there had been no names given from the escaped elf for he and his daughter, the woman had begun calling the child by ‘Véredhiel,’ meaning ‘oath’ in the Sindarin tongue.
Gwaeron walked well into the night until she arrived at last to the crossing point she remembered from her numerous trips into the Golden Wood. As she reached the water’s glistening edge, however, her face fell. The Great River flowed higher and faster than she had ever seen at this familiar passing. The constant downpour had served to flood the water level and doubtless wash away any shallower bars where sand made banks to wade through.
Desperation forced the ranger up and down the bank until a passage seemed her best choice and the depth would perhaps rise to her chest at its highest. Though certainly in opposition with what she would have preferred, it was the only way. “A fine mess I haven’t thought to prepare us for, little one.” She muttered quietly, frustrated with herself. Quickly she laid Véredhiel down long enough to situate her cloak around her more permanently and secured it to her clothing, making sure there could be no losing hold of the infant. As she did so, the baby seemed to sense their impending hardship and began a soft cry that was interrupted only by weak coughs into her guardian’s neck.
Gwaeron clung to the child, watchful not to crush her, and shook violently as the rush of freezing water seeped through flesh to the bone. “I know you feel ill, Véredhiel, but you must trust me and stay strong if we are to make it across. Will you trust me, little one?” Answered only by a feeble wail, the ranger continued into the torrent of water, both from above and now below as the rain splashed up into her eyes. The woman’s footing remained secure for only the first several steps until the depth forced her onto tiptoes and her precious cargo needed holding almost above her head.
Anxious as her steps sank further into the gravel of the river’s bed, Gwaeron began to shake the more violently in a merged reaction to frigid shock and fear. “D-do not fret, child… I w-will get us across.” Determined to keep pushing forward, she spoke to Véredhiel with assuring words both for the infant’s benefit, and her own. The child must be protected. This truth urged her on through currents flowing stronger by the moment.
Finding a target down stream from her current position, the ranger poured all her focus into achieving that diagonal destination. Shoving each leg forward with every muscle flexed, the shore approached closer and closer until at last a shallow bank presented itself and the water level descended with every step. The woman’s breath clouded in fog before her face as she gasped desperately, icy water not only having constricted her lungs from drawing enough for the exertion, but also numbing her movements until she felt as cold as the Helcaraxë, itself.
Once the rapids had lowered to her waist, Gwaeron cradled her charge close to her chest, nestling the child’s head into the crook of her neck where she supposed her warmth was strongest. Plowing through the shallows with what little will power she had left, the woman gave a cry of relief and collapsed to her knees once unimpeded land touched her soles. The elfling in her quaking embrace now cried with a new vigor and Gwaeron felt her own hot tears of exhaustion drip down her face to mingle with the rain. “It’s all right, Véredhiel… We’re safe now. Almost there.” Pushing herself upright with difficulty, the lady ranger stood and began jogging with heavy limbs into the woods of Lothlórien.
It took little time before the enchanting mallorn trees began to surround her, but the magic of the flora could not be noticed by the lady ranger in her weary haste. Having trekked for nearly an hour within the Golden Wood’s borders, she now felt the presence of its Lady’s wardens alert in their posts, hidden though they were by rain and darkness. “Orophin! Haldir! Please, hear me! Rúmil! It’s Gwaeron, daughter of the Dúnedain… Orophin, please!” She called out to her galadhrim friends and anyone within earshot, continuing with no response for some time as she desperately tried to keep conscious and warm.
The further she came within the forest boundaries, the lighter the rain became and more aware the woman found herself of the Lady’s elven powers of protection. To her chagrin, however, those powers still failed to bring any warmth to stiffening bones, and cradling a sick babe while soaked through did little to aid the child’s ailment as her tiny coughs and whines of pain reminded her intermittently. “I beg you! Let someone hear me…” Gwaeron pleaded with the trees, a hoarse sound that emitted from her throat, which she barely recognized as her own voice.
It seemed sudden when she finally heard a distinctive noise, causing the ranger to turn her head sharply and a sign of hope to grace her pale lips. Soon a grey-clad elf seemed to appear from the very boughs of a nearby tree and strode toward her gracefully, swiftly making his way toward her as the faint beginnings of silver daylight shone through the high canopy above.
It was Rúmil. “Gwaeron! You were not expected until winter’s beginning…” He greeted her and began to start a conversation when he noticed her condition as she put a quivering hand on his forearm.
She began as he reached out to stabilize her. “I will tell you everything later, my friend. I come now in urgent need of elven healing.”
His brow furrowed in concern and gravity pulled his expression into serious concern as he looked her over. “You are hurt? What has happened?” A soft wheeze caused him to glance down at the bundled cloak she lowered in her arms, and she pulled away a layer to reveal Véredhiel’s pallid little face, bright blue eyes fluttering open to look up at Gwaeron. Both adults instinctively leaned over the infant to shield her face from raindrops and Rúmil brought his gaze to hers questioningly. “Gwaeron… I was not aware it had been this long since we had last seen our lady ranger.”
Sighing, the woman shook her head and fingered the cloak’s damp folds until he could witness tiny pointed ears of the Firstborn. “She does not belong to me. I found her and her father on the southern border of Mirkwood, yesterday. He besought and charged me to bring her here for healing. Rúmil, he escaped with this child from Dol Guldur…”
Rúmil’s eyes shot up to hers and she could see his bright blonde hair glow as it clung damply to his face and shoulders, tiny droplets of mist clutching to the outer strands now that he had slung his hood back. Alarmed, he glanced from his ranger friend and back to the babe. “She was born there?” He pressed in disbelief and was answered with a nod.
Gwaeron’s hands stroked away damp hair from the elfling’s brow, Véredhiel’s eyes drooping slowly shut at the touch and she hiccupped quietly. When the woman looked up to him again, her eyes were beseeching as she pleaded. “Rúmil, I beg you, please help her…”
“What’s going on? Gwaeron?” Orophin, Rúmil’s second eldest brother and superior warden, neared the two and pulled his hood back to reveal equally glowing and tousled hair. He sent Gwaeron a soft glance before tilting to look between them at the little one.
His brother was quick to fill him in, but the lady ranger added. “The child’s father still lies wounded in Mirkwood with only Tar for protection… I fear he will not last long.” She turned to Orophin and explained quietly. “I must go back to him, Orophin. I only left because he demanded that I bring his daughter to safety before anything. His injuries are grave.” With a glance toward Rúmil she saw that he raised an eyebrow at his brother.
Orophin nodded after a moment, resolute. “Rúmil, you are a better healer than I. You are to take the child to one of the supply flets and do what you can. Get, perhaps, an elleth to assist you who know something of young ones.” Nodding to his brother, Rúmil obeyed and took the baby carefully from the ranger’s arms, nestling her under his cloak and pulling down his hood before fleeing deeper into the wood.
The remaining galadhrim sentry turned and laid a large hand on Gwaeron’s shoulder, turning her to face him. “Where is your cloak? You’re soaked through.”
Smiling softly at his concern, she nodded toward where his brother had just run off. “I had wrapped the babe in it… she needs it more than I.”
Orophin sighed and unclasped his cape at the neck, swirling it over his head before wrapping its warmth about her and fastening the leaf-engraved broach. “You are weary, Gwaeron…” His thumb stroked her neck as his hand rested again upon her shoulder.
Defiantly, however, she shook her head, knowing well what was going through his mind. “I must go back, Orophin. I do not ask you to accompany me.”
He lifted his hand to silence her. “I would not allow you to go on your own, not in this state. But I am afraid you must show me your way.” His lips turned to a frown as he spoke, but she nodded in acquiescence and allowed him to lead her out of the Golden Wood.

“You crossed this with a child in arms?” The elf looked at the river skeptically and then to her. Nodding, she began walking up the bank with a purpose; they would swim across this time and she preferred not to lose ground by ending up farther down river than necessary. Orophin took her trembling hand once they reached an acceptable spot and squeezed it in assurance before bringing the pale appendage to his warms lips. “Just a swim, faril nin.” She quirked an eyebrow at him through the drizzle of rain, but smiled as the clouds seemed to contrast his delightfully bright eyes.
Once they stepped into the glacial current, she found the swim was infinitely easier than her early trek across, their strokes and the river’s current causing them to drift swiftly to the other side, down stream. Orophin assisted her from the river and onto shore, following as she led him on their long hike to southern Mirkwood. The rain bombarded them with more vigor as they moved away from Lórien and thicker clouds lower upon them, seeming to conceal their figures from unwelcome eyes.
They talked little on the way aside from more details as to how she had come upon the father and daughter and up to her entering the woods of Lórien. The galadhrim soon found out how truly intent his ranger was in this duty, a gravity falling deeper between them as they neared the destination. At last Gwaeron stopped at the edge of the woods she sought and pushed her hood back to see better. Orophin drew his bow and held his archer’s stance as she pointed into the trees. “He’s twenty-seven paces in and twelve to the north.” They looked at each other a moment before he nodded for her to go forward, silently promising her protection as his steps followed a breath away.
It was just a few seconds until she found the wounded refugee she had spoken of. Tar lay at his side with his head resting on the infirm edhel’s thigh, massive ears perking up when Gwaeron came through the clearing, but unmoving from his charge. “Oh no…” The ranger murmured as her shoulders fell and she saw them. The elf’s head hung back against the tree and his body trembled weakly, shining in the dark forest as sweat and rainwater covered him. His breath came in shallow gasps through pale, chapped lips and she put her hands on his shoulders to rouse him. “Elbereth have mercy on this one…” Her sigh was despondent and she tried again to wake him.
Orophin came and slowly crouched at the elf’s beaten, bare feet, studying him with care before attempting to draw Gwaeron’s attention. The healer in her was desperately seeking to aid and did not hear his voice until he spoke the louder, beckoning her to listen. “Gwaeron…” She finally turned to him and received a look that wrecked sadness into her heart. The warden’s eyes betrayed more emotion than his stoic appearance would allow. “He is fading, Gwaeron… there is nothing you or I can do for him, now.”
Tears filled her eyes as she thought of Véredhiel. Who would take care of her? A groan brought her gaze back to the ailing edhel and he slowly opened dulled eyes. It took a moment for him to breathe deeply enough to speak, but he did so with difficulty. “Ranger… tell me your name.” His voice rasped out of a chest struggling to aid his speech.
Her own voice came out trembling as tears threatened at the sight of him. “I am called Gwaeron, my lord. “
He lifted an unsteady hand to the juncture between her neck and shoulder, grasping it and gaining all of her attention. “Is she safe, Gwaeron? Does my daughter yet live?” He coughed violently at the strain and received her nod as he recovered futilely. “I shall not see her again… I know this to be my end. But e’er I leave for the Halls of Waiting, I would secure my child’s safe-keeping.” Closing his eyes in pain, she watched as he forced himself to continue, urgent in what askance he was about to give. “My name is Beriohtarion, and I ask of you now, Gwaeron… Will you vow to me to protect and care for my daughter… as long as Illúvatar grants you able?”
A tear fled unchecked from her misted green eyes and the woman nodded, pressing her hand to her heart and then gently to his in confirmation of the oath. “I vow to do as you ask.” Having responded faithfully, though with a voice betraying her emotion, a ghost of a smile touched Beriohtarion’s lips in response and he nodded finally.
His eyes caught Orophin’s at his feet and the dying elf sent him a wise, almost knowing look, as if he knew his future. Then at last his breath ran out, causing Gwaeron to gasp as she kept his head from falling back, resting it gently on the bark before smoothing wet hair from his face. With a faint sob, she brushed her fingers over his eyelids, closing the lifeless eyes as she kissed her fingers and touched his brow in respect.
Tar whimpered softly and moved to put his head in her lap as she stared apathetically at the body, giving her a little warmth even though their breath fogged in the damp morning air. Orophin stood and went to her, kneeling behind her slouched posture before putting his hands on her quaking shoulders in a gesture of comfort. Leaning back on his broad chest wordlessly, she looked up to let the rain wash tears from her face and neck.
“Why did he look at me like that after you gave him your promise? He did not know me, I am sure of it…” The Lórien elf asked her quietly, receiving only a shake of her head in answer. He held her close with his arms wrapped around her and she held on tightly with both hands.
She used him as her anchor, trying to calm herself though she continued to shake. “Do we have to leave him here?” Weakly, she whispered.
Orophin took a breath before answering. “We’ll make a raft and send him down the river to Rauros… Ulmo will deliver him to Mandos.”
Nodding, Gwaeron made herself sit up out of his embrace, wiping an already wet sleeve across teary eyes. “We should move him out of the Wood. It’s a miracle the spiders have not already smelled out his blood.” Her companion rose behind her and lowered himself to the faded elf, gathering him up in his arms before following Gwaeron and Tar out to the bank of the river. It did not take long to find fallen wood enough to create a floating byre and they carried the body to the water reverently. Tar howled once or twice as they watched the raft drift out of sight, his mistress’ hand stroking his head all the while.
Orophin looked over to the lady ranger and took her hand, pulling her into his embrace. “You’re doing a very brave thing, Gwaeron, taking care of a child that is not your own.” He murmured into her hair as his hands stroked up and down her arms and back, physically reminding her that he was there. She just clung to him for a while, trying to take some of the peace for her own that seemed to emanate from his person.
As they held one another the elf could feel her trembling more from cold and wet, and he knew he needed to get her moving again. “Come, I am sure a healing Véredhiel awaits your return.” He took a step back and held her hand in his to lead her on. Tar, also, walked on the other side of the woman so that her hand always rested on his withers and together they sought to keep her warm.
Gwaeron found herself in a dazed sense of grief, feeling not the rain on her hood, nor the warmth from Orophin’s hand. It was thus she seemed to awaken when she heard the resonate tenor of the elf’s voice fill the air and her ears.
“Uich gwennen na ‘wanath ah na dhín.
An uich gwennen na ringyrn ambar hen.
Boe naid bain gwnnathar,
Boe cuil ban firitha.
Boe near gannathach…” He drifted into a low hum of the melodic tune and turned to catch her wondering stare, returning to her a gentle gaze and kiss upon her cold hand. The woman beamed wistfully before removing her eyes to the ground, consequently missing the contented smile on his face.

Clearing the river on the way back, Gwaeron leaned heavily upon Orophin through the water, unable to properly tread as the frigid waters paralyzed her exhausted muscles. He released her only to see the woman stagger haphazardly through the shallows and to the nearest tree by which she collapsed, shaking feverishly all over. With a bark of alarm, Tar immediately approached and licked with concern the tears and rain from her face before their elven companion pushed him hastily aside.
Orophin took her hands in his and then, startled, felt of the ranger’s equally icy cheek. Her eyes drifted shut and he took her face roughly, feeling hypothermia settling upon her mortal body. “Gwaeron! Faril nin, come, hear me. Open you eyes, let me see your eyes… Gwaeron….” Coaxing her back to consciousness, she responded by forcing herself to focus on him, taking in his face and eyes, such a blue as would match the intensity of skies across the sea.
Though hopeful since she had heard him and was attempting to obey, Orophin still saw her struggle with exhaustion and encouraged her. “Stay awake, we’re almost there. Just hold to me.” He pulled her up and on her feet, feeling it would be better for the woman to get some circulation going again, rather than to carry her now. Grasping her securely at the waist, Orophin allowed her to hold on to him for support as they trudged on into his homeland. “That’s it, faril nin… we’re nearly there. Talk to me, try to keep awake.”
Gwaeron groaned as she tried to keep up with his strides. “I want to see Véredhiel before anything, Orophin. I want to know she is well before anything is done for me.” Stopping them suddenly, the galadhrim let out a call and was quickly answered from ahead.
Glancing up from Orophin’s shoulder, she saw the elf’s authoritative, eldest brother, Haldir, coming toward them with a poorly masked look of disdain in his regal features. “Where have you been? What’s happened?” He ordered, rather than asked, and only briefly eyed the lady ranger when he wasn’t shooting daggers into his younger brother.
“Has Rúmil told you ought?”
“Yes, but I should have heard it before any action was taken. For instance, you running off with this ranger into the forests of Mirkwood…” His tone was quiet enough, but heated all the same. “Where is this elf you were to bring back with you?”
Orophin shook his head. “He has passed. His wounds were too grievous and we met him just moments before he faded. Please, Haldir, let me explain all to you later. Gwaeron is…”
“Sick. Yes, so I see.” He finished for him bitterly.
“… Exhausted.” The younger edhel corrected, irritated with his elder, as he adjusted the trembling hands of his charge tighter about him. “She wishes to see the elfling first. Where are we keeping her?”
Haldir sighed in a frustrated stance and pointed off to their outpost. “The babe has not silenced it’s wailing since Rúmil was forced from the flet, which has been over-run by our ellith galadhrim. And for this reason, Rúmil has not ceased his wailing, either.” Leaving the last statement only muttered under his breath did not prevent its being heard by both elf and woman, each smirking for the temperament toward females that the youngest retained. “The ellith wardens are attempting to calm the child, suffice it to say unsuccessfully.”
Orophin inclined his head to the march-warden and walked his charge in the direction of the flet Haldir had gestured to. Gwaeron seemed dutifully to rally her strength enough to mount the ladder into the flet and entered in, whereas her elven keeper was forced to remain outside on the porch, arms crossed in slight annoyance with being left out in yet more rain.
“She will not stop crying! Her fever has been taken down; she’s been fed, changed when necessary… she simply will not rest! We don’t know what else to do.” A frantic elleth explained the situation to a weary, yet weakly amused, Gwaeron as another was now seeking to sing the elfling to sleep with no avail, each note causing the child to wail in more distress.
Turning to see Orophin barely containing himself, Gwaeron grinned and sat herself down in what felt like a heap of bones. “Cease! Giver her to me a moment, please.” The ellith stopped their fussing and the singing maiden handed her the baby as carefully as she would a glass ornament. “Véredhiel, hush, love… Here I am. I will not leave you, hush, hush.” The infant quieted her noise and stopped completely when watery eyes opened to meet the woman’s steady gaze.
Gwaeron smiled, the little one’s cheeks were rosy and her eyes a bright, brilliant blue, though irritated enough from crying so long. She looked healthy, and now happy, as a young one should. Without the cloak covering her so, the lady ranger clearly saw gentle swirls of auburn upon her head, almost completely opposite that of her late father’s, whose hair had been a silvery-blonde.
In wonder, the surrounding elves looked on the peaceful scene displayed before them, all but Orophin, who wore simply a smile of knowledge upon his lips. Watching the child a little longer, Gwaeron sighed as the baby’s eyes fluttered shut, exhaustion from such fits as she gave before finally wearing her out. The woman laid her softly upon the cot where she sat and situated blankets about her so that no movement would cause her to roll too far. Pushing herself from the bed, she stood and approached Orophin who stood now at the doorway.
He smirked. “That did not look wholly unnatural for you, faril nin.” The edhel gazed down upon her and received a tired smile at his compliment.
“I’ve little doubt that these ellith have had next to no involvement with a newborn, be it elf or man. It seemed rather instinctive to me, I know not why.” Her response was thoughtful as she unclasped his cloak from about her neck and situated it back around his broad shoulders with care. He watched her silently. “Thank you for coming with me, Orophin. And thank you for lending me your cloak.”
Their smiles were fond and he lowered himself to kiss her cheek tenderly. “Get some rest, Gwaeron. You certainly deserve it.” With one last look, he pulled the hood over his wet hair and slid down the rope ladder they had just come up a few moments ago.
An elf-maiden approached Gwaeron from behind and offered her a blanket. “Come, lady. We shall get you dry and warm.”

“I’m waiting for an explanation, Orophin.” Haldir stood with his back to the warden, hands clasped rigidly behind him around a quiver-full of arrows.
The second-born took a deep breath and bowed in respect. “Forgive me, Marchwarden.” He began peacefully, in a formal tone. “There was little time to react and, as ranking officer over Rúmil, I sent him to his task and myself to mine. Gwaeron and I went quickly to help and protect a mutual ally… I did not think my actions were either in need of further explanation, nor in any way wrong.”
Haldir turned fiercely upon his brother and looked him square in the eye. “You went to who-knows-what end for that… that human, Orophin! Did you even know where you were being led? I swear, she could have taken you straight to the fortress of Dol Guldur, handed you to the Enemy on a silver platter, and still you would fall at her feet!”
Orophin took the harsh criticism in stride, knowing full well how his brother’s continual temperament worsened when Gwaeron came to subject. His jaw kept tense, however, to refrain from protesting against such accusations being made against the woman he cared for. Better to take the Marchwarden’s lecture than to dig a deeper feud between he and his sibling than what was already present.
“Have you anything to say?”
With a deep breath to calm himself, Orophin met Haldir’s bright eyes with his own matching pair. “If a lady friend of yours, Haldir, were to come to you with a wounded child and inform you that someone had been left in a dangerous situation, would you not trust her immediately and go to aid in whatever form you could?” The elder’s glare burned into his brother and Orophin returned it with all ferocity, knowing his point to be valid. “If you should answer no, than I willingly accept any punishment. However, if you reply that this lady would have your trust… I may be a bit more reluctant to submit.”
Haldir said nothing for some moments and Orophin felt it safe to approach again, though with a more delicate appeal toward his kin. “Brother, do not scorn those with a good heart and strong will to match. They are great allies, and friends, if you would but allow them…”
“If I am not mistaken, you wish for more than just friendship with this lady ranger.”
This remark aroused a flash of anger in Orophin’s eyes. “I have not dishonored her, if that is what you are implying.” The elf practically seethed within himself at the insinuation. “I respect her. We have done nothing, and will not, unless, by Eru’s will, we are bound in marriage in the future.”
Haldir focused on him in a different light as he spoke, pensive for a moment, and then once again the frown returned. “Tread lightly, brother… A mortal is just that. Mortal.” With that warning said, the elder of them turned away and strode toward the outer posts, unconscious of the menacing growl Tar delivered to his retreating figure.
The animal stood patiently waiting on Orophin as the elf approached at last, patting the tremendous dog while his tail thwapped against his leg in a steady gesture of comfort. “I’d let you have a go at him, Tar, if I knew you wouldn’t tear his ears off.” The canine looked up at the elf and panted so that his maw took the shape of a smile. “Ah well, let’s go fetch you something to eat, aye?” Walking off side by side with his companion, Orophin barely smiled as in the distance he could see the flet in which his huntress and her oath resided.


Faril Nin—My Huntress (Orophin’s endearment for Gwaeron)
The Elvish song (Breath of Life)

You are not bound to loss and silence.
For you are not bound to the circles of this world.
All things must pass away,
All life is doomed to fade.
Sorrowing you must go, and yet you are not without hope.

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*Chapter One
Created
02 Sep 2010
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08 Apr 2013
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