The dark-haired elleth lifted a suspicious eyebrow when she realized that the quiet visitor to the herbal gardens of Laurelindórean did not wear the customary weapons of the guardians of the forest realm nor his customary long, curved blade.
He had been discreetly standing in the shadows of a blooming elder tree for a while now and she had put some effort into ignoring him, continuing with her lecture on the healing powers of some plants to a small group of students. But instead of losing interest and continuing on his way to whatever business of the forest realm of the Lord Celeborn his may be, the Captain was still there. He observed her with this amused expression that has already driven her mad when she had entered Laurelindórean a couple of weeks ago accompanied by a brace of Imladris guards and the Lady Celebrian, who decided to pay an impromptu visit to her parents.
Silraen crossed her long, slender arms behind her back and pretended not to see him or the small wicker basket that sat beside him in the soft grass. A sparkle of mischief glittered in the blue-grey eyes of the Captain. Oh, how she hated that sparkle, those blue-grey eyes and .....the distraction! She had desperately hoped that he would be somewhere on the fences, chasing orcs or killing whatsoever dark creatures menaced the peace and calm of the realm of Laurelindórean, wished he was somewhere far away from Caras Galadhon ...and far away from her.
Celeborn's captain was the worst distraction she had ever encountered in her long life and a distraction she gave in to all too easily.
Whenever he crossed the mountains to ride into Imladris, her peace of mind and soul was gone: Gone was the attention she normally paid to the quiet rooms of Lord Elrond's renowned library, gone the time she would devote to the countless healing herbs in the gardens of her lord. Also gone, the countless, forgotten hours she spent in the apothecary, preparing potions and salves for the ailing and sick.
She hated that sparkle in his mischievous eyes which seemed so young and innocent. Despite his innocent appearance, she knew that Haldir had been born in the days when Elu Thingol's hidden realm of Doriath still existed and the Girdle of Mélian protected the Sinda of Nargothrond against the evils of Morgoth and his henchmen. She also knew that she would give in once again and chase away her students and spend another lazy afternoon somewhere in the forests, doing nothing of worth to Elvenkind and idling the hours away with him.
The obnoxious elf grinned and lifted the cotton cloth that covered his wicker basket invitingly.
Silraen frowned and threw a nasty look at her students, who had by now discovered the intruder and were chuckling. Brainless children! They should sit and study, not laugh at their elders! She was already thinking how she would give a piece of her mind to the uninvited visitor, and then her group of distracted children when she heard the light moving of feet in the grass.
The soldier, clad in grey and dark green stood half-hidden behind the trunk of the tree, speaking softly to his captain. In an instant, the mischief disappeared from Haldir's blue-grey eyes and all joy of life left his fair features. He stiffened, his broad shoulders straightened. He gave the messenger a short nod, turned on his heels and hurried away without sparing a second look for her, nor the students, who had suddenly fallen silent.
The wicker basket stood abandoned and lonely under the elder tree and an icy feeling made Silraen shiver despite the bright sun of the forest glade. Something was happening in Laurelindórean. Something terrible came their way!
Silraen had known this feeling before; a feeling of doom and loss. It had been a long time since Elrond, accompanied by her father and many brave Elven warriors, had followed Gil-Galad to the barren lands of Mordor where the shadows lain. It had been this very same feeling that she felt now. Her father had not returned from the dark lands. She had never known when he had perished or how. So many had fallen in the struggle that had brought the Dark Lord to his knees and most of her kin to the Halls of Waiting.
Her mother had abandoned her shortly after news of Sauron's destruction had reached Imladris, sailing to the Undying Lands, else she would have perished from her grief of her loss. Then Silraen had found herself for the first time face to face with Haldir.
But after the slaughter on the slopes of Mount Doom and an endless war against evil, there had been no mischief nor laughter in his eyes. He had been the ghost of an elf, hard and cold and abused by seven long years in the field and too many cruel deeds. In her own grief over the loss of her father and the departure of her mother, Silraen had spend many an hour by his bedside, nurturing him back to health and some semblance of life. When he had been healed from his physical wound, he had followed his Lord Celeborn and the Lady Galadriel to the realm of Prince Amroth who had taken up the throne of Laurelindórean after his father's death on the field of Dagorlad.
But once or twice every year the captain had found a way to return to Imladris. After a while, he left his memories of the Last Alliance behind and become that lively distraction that she loved, and yet hated, so much. Having the gift of immortality, he took his time courting her. Although she knew deep in her heart one day she would give into his efforts and stay forever in Laurelindórean, Silraen was too fond of their elusive games to end his suspense too quickly....Haldir seemed tremendously fond of their game as well. But she knew when the Galadhrim solider had whispered into the ear of her captain that all romantic games between them were set aside.
'You may take the afternoon off,' Silraen gave a deep sigh and waved her group of students away.
Once again, Haldir had managed to take her attention from her duties. Slowly, and with heavy steps, she made her way over to the elder tree. She lifted the cotton cloth and glanced into the wicker basket. A picnic including lovingly prepared morsels of food, fresh strawberries in a small bowl, her favourite almond cake, and a bottle of wine with glasses.
Silraen would have enjoyed to idle away another afternoon in his company. They would have laughed and joked and he would have dragged her to some hidden, favourite place deep in the forest, somewhere by a spring or a small lake. Then Haldir would have taunted and mocked her until she grew mad at him, as always, until he took her into his arms and kissed away her anger. As usual, she would have given in to him, and they would have made love in the soft grass. Silraen took a small strawberry and turned it thoughtfully between her fingers.
She felt doom and loss lingering not only over the fair lands of Laurelindórean, but over him, her captain.