Mellon Tithen (Little Friend)
“I’ll be fine,” Melpomaen laughed. “It won’t take me long, Elladan, I should be there in another few days or so. You and the others continue on to Mirkwood. I’ll meet you there later. Or perhaps you can stop in the golden wood on your way back to Imladris.”
Elrond’s eldest looked at the brown haired ellon, sitting on his horse smiling, so anxious to continue his journey. The group had finished crossing the mountains the night before and had stopped before continuing on to Mirkwood. The twins were anxious to reach Mirkwood and be reunited with Legolas. Melpomaen however wanted to take a detour to Lothlorien and visit his bonded. The counselor had risen before the any of the others and was packed and ready to go. His desire to leave the group was evident in his sparkling grey eyes; his longing for his lover clear.
“We know it’s not far, Mel,” Elrohir answered for his twin. “If something happens to you, it’s not only Ada, Fin and Erestor we’ll have to answer to.”
“I’d rather not have to explain to Haldir that we let you go off on your own if something happens to you,” Elladan added.
“You won’t have to explain or answer to anyone, pyn-neth,” Mel told them both. “I am more than able to find my way from here. I am also capable of taking care of myself as you both know full well. And there’ve been no yrch seen near here in a long while. I know you and the others want to get to Mirkwood. I’ll see you in later in Caras Galadhon.”
Elladan looked at him, he had to agree that Melpomaen was well able to protect himself; he was nearly as good with long knives as Erestor or Mirkwood’s young Prince. And being bonded with Haldir had made him a formidable archer as well. Still the Perehdil was reluctant to allow one of his party to continue alone.
Melpomaen’s eyes began to narrow and he readied himself to argue further, when the younger twin raised a hand, turning to his brother.
“We’d better let him go, ‘Dan,” Elrohir said. “He’s beginning to look and sound like Erestor.”
“Or Ada,” the elder twin nodded. “All right, go on then. Be careful and tell Haldir we’ll see him in a few weeks.”
“I will,” the brown-haired elf smiled. Turning his pale gold mare, he grinned at the twins once more, “Eventually I’ll tell him. We’ll have other things to occupy us besides talking at first.”
“I’m sure you will,” the younger twin grinned back. “But I’m not sure I really want to know about it.”
The only answer they got was the counselor’s laughter as his horse’s white tail disappeared into the trees.
** ** ** **
A few hours later Melpomaen halted his mare, patting her neck, he took a look around, “we should find some shelter, Culuinië. That storm looks like it’s going to be over us soon.”
Although the day had started well, clouds had begun building a short time ago, and even though it wasn’t yet noon the day was getting darker. Melpomaen continued on, he knew this path as he’d traveled it many times over the centuries he and Haldir had been together. He was confident that his trip would be as uneventful as it usually was. The weather was about to change that though. The storm came on quickly, much more quickly than the lone elf thought it would, and he hadn’t found shelter for himself and his mare yet. A flash of lightening lit up the area around them, almost blinding Melpomaen, thunder crashed directly over head, and with it, the skies opened, releasing torrents of water, trenching elf and horse in seconds.
More thunder and lightening followed the blinding flashes and deafening noise scaring the mare, who suddenly bolted. Melpomaen tried to calm her, but was unable to. In a few moments he had no idea where he was, and his only thought was to stay on the startled mare. As they raced through the trees, the elf realized their danger, the lightening was hitting trees all around them, he tried to regain control of the horse to guide her out of the trees, when lightening struck a tree very near; as it exploded a branch flew from it, hitting Melpomaen, knocking him from the horse and into unconsciousness.
** ** ** **
Haldir paced, every few seconds he would look out over the trees from his advantage point high in one of the mallorns. To the east he could see the dark sky and the flashes of lightening; his sensitive ears could discern the nearly constant rumple of thunder in the distance. The storm was huge and covered nearly the entire area between the mountains and the borders of Lothlorien. The storm would pass the protected wood, the Lady holding it off. Haldir’s worry wasn’t for the land he guarded but for his husband, whom he knew had been headed to Lothlorien. He wanted to go out and find Melpomaen; make sure he was safe, but such a course would be unwise until the storm’s fury abated somewhat.
Still he knew something wasn’t right and he fretted that it was serious; normally even though they were separated by many miles, there was a strong connection between he and Melpomaen, now for the first time in a very long while that connection was somewhat dulled. The brief flash of what seemed to be fear, followed closely by pain, made him fear for his lover.
He tried hard not to let his worry show, but it did. After he reprimanded yet another guardian, his brother came to him.
“Haldir, what is wrong with you?” Orophin asked. “You have the entire patrol on edge.”
The Marchwarden glanced at his brother for a brief moment he considered an angry response, but the look Orophin gave him stopped the words before they left his mouth.
“I’ve been that bad, eh?”
“You’ve been growling at them all, like an orc with a tooth ache,” his brother smiled. “What’s wrong, we’re safe here. Well as safe as we’ve ever been.”
“I think Melpomaen is out there,” Haldir told him.
“Out there…out in the storm.”
Orophin grasped his brother’s shoulder, “Mel, is smart and capable, he’ll be fine.”
“I keep telling myself that,” Haldir said softly. “Yet I feel in my heart that something is very wrong. I need to go and find him; to know him safe.”
“The storm will come to an end,” Orophin said. “Then you can ride out and find him.”
Haldir said nothing, only nodded at his brother’s words. He knew that he had no choice but to wait, but it didn’t make him at all happy. He only hoped that Melpomaen was safe and that his fears were nothing more than an over active imagination. Although everyone who knew him would say he was incapable of such; even he normally would describe himself as practical and down to earth for an elf, so this nagging feeling that something was wrong was even more disquieting.
** ** ** **
Mel didn’t know how long he’d been unconscious; he was lying in a puddle of ice cold water, with more of it drumming down on him. The torrent hadn’t let up at all and the trees couldn’t provide any shelter from the rain. Lightening was still flashing all around him and he knew that he’d been lucky not to be it by lightening itself or more debris from struck trees. Pain radiated from his shoulder where the tree limb had struck him, his arm ached from shoulder to fingertips and when he moved he felt the nauseating sensation of bones grating together. “My shoulder is broken I think,” he whispered aloud. It took him a few moments to cautiously climb to his feet he had to stop every few moments to let the pain and nausea sub-side before continuing. Eventually he was standing; he looked around for anything familiar, trying to orient himself. The brilliant flashes showed him what looked to be a path between the trees and having little other choice he followed it. He’d only gone a short distance before he saw hoof prints in the ground, looking closer he realized they were the prints from his mare.
Continuing he followed the hoof prints through the rain making his way through the trees slowly, coming at last to a small hill, the hoof prints lead him along a short way, to a cave and standing within it was Culuinië.
“There you are,” he said. “I’m happy to see you safe. Were you headed this way from the start; did you know about this cave?”
The mare whickered softly and nuzzled his dripping clothing, gently, seeming to sense his injury. The elf spoke softly, “I am injured, but not too badly. I should be alright once the storm stops and I rest a bit. Now though I think a little miruvor and lembas will be welcome.”
He moved further into the cave until he was standing beside the mare. The cave wasn’t very big only wide enough for the mare and a slender elf to take refuge in. The narrow space made it difficult for the elf to reach one of the packs which was lashed to the opposite side of the saddle the mare wore, his shoulder restricting his movements. He was glad that both the packs had stayed on the mare along with his sword, bow and quiver; within the one he could reach was food and drink. Taking a portion of lembas and the flask of miruvor from the pack, he settled with his back against one wall of the cave his legs stretched out beneath the mare, making himself as comfortable as possible.
As he began to eat, he wondered aloud, “do you think this storm will last long? I don’t relish riding in further in it, but I do need to see a healer and Haldir is going to be wondering where I am.”
** ** ** **
Haldir’s brothers watched as he readied his horse, the storm had lessened slightly but it still raged to the west of their borders, they had both tried to convince their elder brother to wait, but their words hadn’t made any impression on Haldir.
Tightening a final strap he turned to them, “I know you both think me foolish…”
“You are,” Rumil frowned. “And it is very unlike you to be so.”
“It is.” Haldir agreed. “If I wasn’t sure that something is wrong I wouldn’t be going; but I feel that there is something wrong.”
Orophin looked at him, “How long do you want us to wait until we come after you?”
“Let Lord Celeborn decide, the Lady will guide him,” Haldir answered.
Rumil looked like he wanted to argue, but Orophin laid a hand on their youngest brother’s shoulder stopping him from speaking. Looking up at Haldir who had mounted his horse, he said, “we will do as you ask. Come back swiftly and bring Mel with you.”
“I intend to.”
With that he was gone, his brothers watched until he and his mount were swallowed up by the trees.
** ** ** **
Haldir traveled as swiftly as he dared among the trees of Lothlorien, reaching the border in a day. From there he had to admit that he no idea where to go, before him the storm raged only slightly lessened from what it had been. The woods he entered were dark, still lit by flashes of light, trees threw strange shadows in the bright burst, their limbs twisting in the unrelenting wind, and there was no escape from the rain which continued.
“Mel, where are you?” he called. Only to have his words snatched from him. The rain had turned the ground into a quagmire adding to the difficulty of searching. He dismounted, guiding the horse, they wouldn’t be able to make any speed and it was safer on foot.
He didn’t know how long he searched the wood, the thick clouds above blocked all light from the, but he felt that it had been night for a few hours when he decided to find a place to rest and start again in a few hours. He looked for a place that might provide some shelter and found where a large tree had fallen some time ago, felled by another storm he thought, shrubs and lesser trees had grown close around it forming a shelter of sorts just large enough for himself and his horse.
Though the shelter wasn’t completely rain proof there was a small patch of ground that was almost dry, and Haldir made his way there. Before settling for a while he fetched dry rations and wine from the supplies on the horse.
He had just begun to eat his meager meal when his horse snorted and began to move out of the shelter. Quickly scrambling to his feet Haldir tucked the meal into the pouch and tied it to his belt. What was wrong with his mount? The horse seemed to be going toward something that had caught his attention.
“Mithôl?” the blond elf called softly. “Where are you going?”
For an answer the horse turned his head slightly and regarded the elf, then made a soft wuffling sound before continuing toward whatever had attracted its attention. Haldir had no choice but to follow.
“Have I ever told you,” he called to the horse, “about where curiosity can land you?”
Mithôl didn’t even turn and look at him this time, it was evident now that something had sparked the horse’s inquisitiveness, and puzzled by such odd behavior from his normally steady mount Haldir followed.
The pair stopped at another felled tree, this one had fallen to lean against two others. A very small hollow had been formed where they all came together and in it was what had attracted the horse.
Haldir looked and then gasped softly, for in the small opening a tiny light could be seen flickering. He’d heard of such things; stories about them were told to elflings. He had never seen one however, and he didn’t know anyone who really had. Still he was an elf who had lived a long time and seen many things, so he gently reached out a hand to the small flickering light.
At first the light drew away, from him and Haldir heard a soft sound, like the distant chiming of bells.
“Don’t be afraid, little one?” he said as softly and soothingly as he could. “I’ll not hurt you. Are you lost or trapped in this storm as well?” The light flickered again and again Haldir heard the soft sound of bells. He continued to speak to it soothingly and after a time, the little being came closer until it rested upon the palm of his hand. This close Haldir could see a small figure in the light with gently beating fragile wings, the being’s face was a little like that of the elves, but the eyes were huge. They blinked slowly up at Haldir, who smiled at the little being.
“Well, I came here looking for someone else, but I’ll help you if I can. Are you hungry? I was about to eat a little when Mithôl decided to lead me to you. I don’t have much, but would you like a bit of lembas?”
The light flickered again, the sound of bells came more excited this time and the little being’s head nodded.
“Let’s go back to the shelter I found, it’s dryer there and we’ll be far more comfortable.” Haldir said. He sheltered the small creature as best he could as the three made their way back to the shelter he’d found earlier.
After entering he settled carefully on the ground and broke off a small piece of lembas for his guest. The cap from the top of his flask provided a drinking vessel for the little one, and together they shared bread and wine.
Through the meal, Haldir didn’t speak, only sighed every now and again, looking out of the shelter into the pouring rain. He still felt the need to find Melpomaen and he still didn’t know where to even start looking. He supposed he could go the foot of the Misty Mountains and see if he could pick up the other elf’s trail there, but that would take days.
His thoughts were interrupted by the soft chiming sound and he looked at the little being, “Do you need something else?”
Although Haldir could make out no words in the chiming the tones and the flickering light seemed to answer no to his question. Haldir started to turn away, but the chiming came again and this time he understood, though he didn’t really know how he did, that the being was asking him a question.
“You want to know why I’m out here?”
The chimes were affirmative.
“I’m looking for my mate,” Haldir said. “I feel that he’s here somewhere trapped and perhaps injured in this storm. But finding him is going to be difficult; I don’t really know where to start looking.”
The little being flew upward until it could look into Haldir’s face, big eyes blinked solemnly at him, then the little head nodded and the being flew to the opening of the shelter. There it paused and Haldir heard the chiming again, and this time he had no doubt that he was being asked, or told to follow.
He got to his feet and joined the little being, “You know where Mel is? You can take me to him?”
The chimes came, a happy trilling sound, and Haldir smiled, “take me to him, please.”
The light flickered and the little being flew further out into the wet wood again. Haldir followed as quickly as he could. He was glad though that every time he fell too far behind his little friend would stop and wait for him.
Together they traveled deeper into the storm filled wood, coming at last to a small hill, there the little light turned and led Haldir to a small cave. The first thing Haldir saw was Mel’s mare then a soft voice called, “Haldir?”
Haldir saw his husband sitting against the side of the cave, and something in the way Melpomaen held himself so still told him that his love was injured. Gently he coaxed Culuinië out to stand beside his own mount, then he entered the cave and knelt in front of Mel.
“Where are you hurt?”
“No kiss yet?”
Melpomaen grinned at his silver haired husband, his own grey eyes sparkling even though he was tired and in pain. “My shoulder. A tree branch fell and hit me, knocked me off Culuinië and broke it I think.”
Haldir nodded, “I’ll be right back.” He left the cave and removed one of his packs from his horse. As he did so he saw that the little being had perched on the horses neck.
“Hannon-le, mellon tithen, very much.”
Soft chimes came and he smiled, before hurrying back into the cave to his husband.
Haldir quickly examined Melpomaen’s shoulder, and confirmed that it was indeed broken. He used some bandages in his pack to immobilize it.
“I can’t do more than that, you need to be seen by a healer. Do you think you can ride if we take it slowly?”
“Of course,” the brown haired elf told him.
Haldir smiled then helped him to his feet. The two exited the cave and Mel gasped, “Melethorn, what is that?”
“A friend, a very special friend,” Haldir said. “He helped me find you.”
The light flickered and the chimes sang briefly and Mel was entranced. Gently he reached out a hand toward the being who went to him swiftly. Mel held the little creature in his good hand, raising it to his face to see it better.
“Thank you for helping my husband find me.”
The little being’s light flickered briefly and the chimes rang again, then the creature rose from Melpomaen’s hand and headed off into the forest.
“Good-by little friend,” Haldir said softly before he turned to his husband and helped him mount his mare. He mounted his own horse and together they began making their way out of the wood.
** ** ** **
The trip out of the wood and to Lothlorien was uneventful, the storm began to dissipate that night and before they reached the border of the Elven realm it had ended. They couldn’t ride fast as Mel’s shoulder pained him so it took them a few days to reach the golden wood. Once there Haldir took his husband straight to the healers who were able to properly align the bones of his shoulder and set it.
Haldir fussed and hovered until the healers made him leave telling him that what his husband needed was sleep. The marchwarden grumbled but left finally, after Mel assured him that he would be fine.
** ** ** **
“The twins should be here tomorrow, or the day after,” Melpomaen said quietly.
“Aye and Thranduil’s youngest as well,” Haldir agreed.
Melpomaen moved backward snuggling closer to his husband, lifting a hand he let the water drip from it back into the bath the two were sharing.
Haldir reached out a hand and picked up the goblet that was on a table set close to the bath, he took a sip and then offered it to Mel, who drank as well.
The two of them were quiet for a time, watching the reflections of the candle light on the water, caressing one another gently. They’d made love earlier and were now just enjoying being together.
“Do you think we’ll ever see him again?” Mel asked.
“Our little friend? Do you think anyone will believe us if we told them about him?”
Haldir was silent for a few moments, lifting the heavy dark silk of Melpomaen’s hair to kiss his neck and shoulder.
“I don’t know if we will see him again,” he said finally. “And though I think others would believe us if we told them, after all neither of us is given to flights of fancy, I’d rather keep it as something shared just between you and I.”
Melpomaen turned in the water until he was facing his husband, looking into the blue eyes he loved so much he said, “I feel the same.”
Haldir smiled, leaned forward and kissed his beautiful husband.
Names of Melpomaen and Haldir’s horses from the Council of Elrond
Culuinië. = Amber
Mithôl = Mistdream