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Guardian of the Golden Wood
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Chapter 5 - Celeborn's Suspicions

The Lord of Lothlorien gave a thoughtful look to the reports on his desk. With Silraen in Laurelindórean, he had taken it upon himself to see to the defences of his realm and give his Captain some well-merited days of respite. He could not say, that managing the wardens was his favourite pastime and that he relished sending out orders to the Galadhrim posted along their borders, but he understood, that occasionally it was necessary to let Haldir off the hook and allow him to pursue his own interests.

He sighed deeply. Hopefully they would finally end their never-ending game of hide and seek and Haldir would convince Lord Elrond's apothecary that Laurelindórean was a pretty good place to live and work in.

He liked the elleth: She was good-natured and easy-going, had a bright mind and was pleasant company. And she completed his foster-son and brought a healthy lively twinkle into his usually serious eyes. He had been encouraging Haldir for ages to ask her the decisive question and make her his, but the younger elf -although obviously more then taken with Elrond's apothecary and deeply in love - had been hesitating. At first sight and to those who did not know Haldir inside out, as he did, the endless courtship may have appeared like a distraction of two sprites, who took great pleasure from a nice little game, taking their time to heighten the suspense for the onlookers. But he knew better: His foster-son was not unwilling to commit himself for selfish reasons! He was simply afraid, that his chosen soldierly profession and the lengthy absences from home would after some time discourage Silraen.

Celeborn stood up, stretched his aching back and went over to the window of his library: He smiled; there had been a time in his long life, when he had known similar fears. Long ago in Doriath, when he had courted a free spirit whom he had named Galadriel, for her golden hair and the gleaming light that hovered over her, he had been convinced that she would be discouraged by his absences on duty for his uncle Elu Thingol!

He had been so wrong: In the end it had been him, who had been discouraged, while Galadriel roamed all over Aman in pursuit of her own ambitions and seeking after her own destiny. He had been discouraged but never upset and from time to time, he had even found it entertaining, when the Man-Maiden from the house of Finwe, clad in white and on first sight as fragile as a rose had shown her strength to those, who believed themselves to be mighty and powerful.

Celeborn had no regrets about his choice and the elleth, with whom he had shared the last five millennia...apart perhaps one. And this sole regret was his foster-son and the difficult path in life, the younger elf had chosen: He would have been gentler with Haldir, if she would have been at his side, more considerate and less rough. He would have understood that destiny had entrusted him with a fragile young creature that needed his love and attention and not his knowledge as a warrior and statesman.

If Galadriel would have been with him in Eregion, when he decided to simply keep the elfling that her messenger had found in the wilderness, Haldir would have had an easier childhood, less demanding and less stressful.

Even today, after more then four millennia had passed, he still felt slightly guilty when he looked at his foster-son. He had raised the perfect warrior; devote to his oath of service and duty, never amiss, always there for those in need and always ready to put himself into harms way for the greater good. Instead of toys, he had presented his elfling with a little bow and arrows and instead of running with him in the meadows, he had taught him how to wield a sword. And he had allowed him to grow up before his time and to go, where no youthful elf should go and to do, what no youth should do. He had always loved Haldir dearly, but he had never been able to show this love in simple terms of tender affection. He had never been able to put an arm around his foster-son's shoulder and give him some basic fatherly advice.

Celeborn shook his head. It had been so different with their daughter Celebrian! He had not repeated his earlier mistakes.

Giving a short glance to the sun over the forest, he decided to finish his working day early and make some amends. He'd hunt down Haldir and give him that long overdue bout of fatherly least concerning ellyth...and he'd tell him, that it was possible to be the Captain of the Wardens of this realm and have a life of his own!

It was -he felt it deep in his heart- not too late. And Silraen would make a fine addition to their family.

Determined and full of good intentions, Celeborn left his office and descended into the streets of Caras Galadhon. He had already ordered a pretty moonstone necklace as wedding gift from the Naugrim of Khazad-Dum and his messenger had returned from the Dwarven halls with a promise that everything would be ready for Midsummer Night. Galadriel was very much occupied with that old fellow Mithrandir, who had entered his realm on eagle's wings a couple of days ago and would not mess up his project. All he had to do, was to find his Captain and talk some sense into the stubborn ellon.

Haldir had been wandering aimlessly through the streets of Caras Galadhon for a while. When Galadriel had dismissed him from her private gardens, he had first intended to return to Silraen and his actual plans of the day. But somehow he felt to tense to impose himself upon an innocent elleth in a good mood and determined to spend a pleasant afternoon in the sunshine.

He knew himself all to well to take the road down to the herbal gardens: What Galadriel asked of him, did not please him at all, but he understood, that it was his duty to do the Lady's biding and therefore he would accompany that foolhardy wizard on his mad quest.

It was possible that a Ringwraith had found his way into the Great Greenwood, but he believed that it was a complete insult to Thranduil and his Sylvan folk, if Laurelindórean started to mess around in their affairs. Had it not been for Galadriel, he would have send a messenger to his Greenwood counterpart, adverting Thirion, that something curious was going on at their borders and then let it be...until the Greenwood Wardens would have made up their minds if or not, some support from Lothlorien was welcome.

He did not appreciate when outsiders started to mess up his own business or teach him lessons on what to do on his fences! Although he could abide with a good advice or two from Elrond's Captain Glorfindel for family reasons, he knew exactly how he would react to Thranduil personally messing around in Lothlorien! Not, that he had any cause with the son of Oropher. They even got along very well, compared to the rotten relations between the King and his Lady Galadriel, but nonetheless: Lothlorien was Lothlorien and Greenwood was Greenwood matter what odd feelings some elderly wizard harboured or how strange a bunch of marauding yrch behaved.

Haldir gave a short glance to the sun that was peeping through the Mallorn leaves and decided to take his bad mood straight to the 'Blooming Appletree' , the favourite haunt of the Lothlorien Wardens, where warm meals were served at all times of the day and a good pint of Naugrim ale was readily available.

No matter what Galadriel had asked of him and what this dotty wizard wanted to explore: The best thing to appease his mind and get things straight were food and a drink. And then he would find Silraen and make his excuses for his abominable behaviour!

Celeborn had been roaming all over Caras Galadhon without finding even a hint of his foster son. Exhausted and thirsty he decided to stop at the wardens' tavern and get himself a mug of ale and some sustenance. He was rather confident that one of Haldir's soldiers would know where the Captain was.

He settled down on a free bench, greeting some of his guards and signalling to the maid that he'd need something substantial. This was the only part of his job as nominal commander-in-chief of Lothlorien's impressive forces that he truly enjoyed: Sharing a mug and a plate with the wardens! Since the disaster of Mount Doom he was completely disgusted with everything war and he had gladly pushed the safety and security of his realm and his sword into Haldir's capable hands.

The maid gave him a broad smile and signalled that she had understood his needs. Only moments later a tasty stew and a huge mug appeared in front of the lord and he thanked his salvaging angel. It was not the most exclusive kitchen in Elvendom, but the 'Blooming Appletree' always served a good, hearty meal. Celeborn decided to simply sit it out and tuck in in the meantime. The stew was wonderful!


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