Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings and all characters belong to Tolkien. I am merely keeping Haldir alive at Helm's Deep.
Authors Note: I do not know too much about Éomer so I am going to make some stuff up.
A Mortal Love
Part 12 - Brothers Reunited
Haldir frowned as Éomer's sleep turned restless again. For the last few hours nightmares had disturbed Éomer's sleep, and so far he had managed to soothe the Man back into a more peaceful state, but each time the nightmares returned stronger. His arms were still loosely wrapped around Éomer, holding him close, but now the Rohirrim began to kick him and raised his fists to pummel him.
"Leave me alone! Don't touch me! I don't want to be here! It hurts! Stop it!" Éomer's shaky voice echoed through the room, but his eyes remained closed as his mind was locked away beneath the nightmare.
Haldir let go of his charge, and sat upright, wondering what to do. Maybe a soothing tone would work best. "Éomer, you are not in any danger. You are in your rooms and no one will hurt you. Open your eyes and wake up." His voice seemed to reach Éomer, who suddenly grew rigid, and Haldir tentatively reached out, caressing Éomer's face. Éomer suddenly exploded with fear and rage, and threw a punch at him. Acting at once, Haldir ducked and grabbed the Man's wrist. /I cannot allow you to hurt me -- or yourself./ "Wake up, Éomer!"
Suddenly the eyes opened, and a scream died on Éomer's lips. Large, hazel eyes met his and Haldir nodded once. "It was a dream. You are safe here." Éomer's panicked expression told him to move slowly and speak softly. "It was a nightmare." Éomer was panting hard, and Haldir slowly rested his hand on the wild mane, stroking it. "Calm yourself. You are in the safety of your rooms."
Éomer released a strangled yelp and closed his eyes in embarrassment. This hadn't happened to him in many years! Back then, Gamling had comforted him when the nightmares had become too much. And now it was Haldir soothing him. "I regret disturbing your sleep," he mumbled apologetically. "I know you need your rest and --"
Haldir's thumb gently caressed the Man's lips, and Éomer grew silent. The large brown eyes opened and locked with his. "Will you tell me what scared you? You told Grima to stop because it hurt. What did the snake do to you? Will you confide in me? I am your mate; I should know the extent of your emotional injuries." Éomer's eyes pleaded with him, but he shook his head. "I should know how to act around you."
"Please do not make me remember. I do not want say it." Realizing he was merely wrapped up in a blanket, Éomer felt vulnerable. He felt that he should get dressed, but his body seemed frozen.
Haldir sat cross-legged, putting a little distance between them. He realized that Éomer wouldn't want him close right now, not when remembering what Grima had done to him. "He touched you..."
Éomer nodded against the pillow, afraid his voice would betray what an emotional mess he was.
"He touched you... intimately?" Haldir hated seeing Éomer flinch, and another nod followed. How could he phrase his next question best? He wanted to upset Éomer as little as possible, but he had to know the truth! "Did he," Haldir paused, still searching for the right words, "Did he invade your body?" Éomer's choked whimper confirmed his suspicions. /That snake will pay for hurting Éomer like that! He was just a child! No child should have to experience such pain and humiliation!/
"Now you will stop touching me," whispered Éomer miserably. He had hoped to keep this one secret from Haldir, for he was afraid the Elf would think less of him knowing that Grima had violated him. He curled up, pulled his knees toward his chest and wrapped his arms around his waist.
Haldir sighed saddened, seeing Éomer retreat into himself. Tenderly he rested a hand on Éomer's hair, stroking it. "You are wrong. I am touching you now, am I not?" Éomer peeked at him and his heart beat faster, seeing the hope in the hazel orbs. "You carried this burden for so long; you have to let go of the pain."
"I cannot do that. Not yet." Éomer maintained eye contact with Haldir whilst he explained. "As a child I pushed these memories away. I did not want to admit what had happened to me and now, years later, they haunt me again."
Haldir stretched his legs and lay down on his side, watching Éomer, still refraining from instigating any physical contact. "I do not know how to handle this, Voronwer. I have never encountered anyone who was..." Raped, but he couldn't say the word aloud.
"I never wanted anyone to find out, Haldir." Éomer swallowed hard. "I never wanted you to find out, but --"
"It was my kiss that brought everything back," recalled Haldir. "You did the right thing by telling me. As your mate I should know."
Éomer hesitantly raised a hand and let it hover above Haldir's arm. "Does this change matters between us? Are you no longer interested in me as your... lover?"
"It changes a lot of things," said Haldir thoughtfully. He caught Éomer's eyes widening and the Man began to pull back his hand, but Haldir stopped him by curling his fingers around Éomer's. "My heart bleeds because you were hurt, but at the same time it hopes you will overcome your pain and fears." He rubbed icy fingers as he studied Éomer. Fear of rejection stared back at him from the depths of Éomer's hazel orbs. "You will always be my mate. Will you allow me to hold you?"
Éomer allowed himself to grow hopeful again. "Do you really want to hold me?"
"Aye," whispered Haldir truthfully as he opened his arms for the Man. He held his breath as Éomer wavered, but then his mate moved into his arms. He completed the embrace and sighed blissfully when Éomer rested his head against his shoulder. Éomer's features were no longer hidden in shadows and a weak smile appeared on the Man's face. "Is there anything I can do to keep the nightmares at bay?"
Éomer's fingers played with a strand of silver hair and Haldir returned the gesture, fingering a curl. The Elf's touch made him feel more confident and he nodded weakly against Haldir's shoulder. "Your presence seems to help."
Haldir sensed that Éomer had wanted to add something, but for some reason his mate had grown quiet instead. "And?"
"Your voice," whispered Éomer shyly. "It calms me."
"You wish for me to talk then?" Haldir tucked Éomer's head beneath his chin and inhaled his mate's musky scent.
"It helps," whispered Éomer, "I do not know why."
"Then I will talk." Haldir drew in a deep breath. "Let me tell you about the Golden Wood..."
Éomer listened gratefully as Haldir described Lothlorien to him. His nerves calmed down and his breathing grew steady again. Eyes closing, he sighed happily as his tense muscles relaxed, allowing him to drift off into a peaceful sleep.
Haldir continued to talk, listening to Éomer's breathing and staring at the shadow the candles reflected onto the wall.
"We should say our goodbyes to Haldir and Éomer," mused Elrond. Aragorn, Legolas and Glorfindel nodded their approval. Within the hour, they would leave Edoras.
"We still have some time left," said Aragorn, walking toward the doorway. "Are you coming?" His companions followed as Aragorn guided them to Éomer's rooms. "We should keep this short though," mused Aragorn, "Haldir is still recovering and needs rest."
"But he will make a full recovery?" asked Legolas in a worried tone. The sight of finding Haldir, barely alive, still haunted him.
Elrond placed a hand on Legolas' shoulder, waiting for the younger Elf to look at him and then nodded once. "Haldir will regain his former strength."
"And he gained a mate as well," added Glorfindel thoughtfully. "I do hope they will work out." His gaze settled on Elrond and he smiled warmly at his lover.
"They will," said Elrond confidently
They had reached Éomer's rooms and Aragorn raised an eyebrow at finding two Rohirrim standing guard there. They studied him and the guards nodded once, allowing him to open the door. Elrond and Glorfindel wondered about the presence of the guards as well, but remained quiet and followed Aragorn inside. Legolas closed the door behind them and peeked at the bed, surprised to find the two men asleep. But no, Haldir wasn't asleep; he was awake.
The four approached the bed, and Aragorn frowned, seeing Éomer curled up against Haldir. Something felt wrong, and the hair at the back of neck stood rigid, alarming him.
"You are leaving for Gondor," stated Haldir knowingly.
"We wanted to say our goodbyes," replied Elrond thoughtfully, sensing that something unsettling had happened. "I advised Théoden to march without you and Éomer, as you are still recovering." But Haldir looked much stronger than he had expected.
"I expected as much," said Haldir calmly. "Maybe we will be able to join you later."
Legolas walked up to the bed and locked eyes with Haldir, but remained quiet. Aragorn joined him and the Man's hand settled at the small of his back. In the end, Legolas managed a reassuring smile now that Haldir was on the way of recovery.
Elrond studied Haldir closely, noticing the other's protectiveness over Éomer. "When you found out you were bound to him you were displeased. Has that changed?"
"Aye, it has," admitted Haldir. "I approve of him as my mate."
"I am pleased to hear that," mumbled Elrond, wondering what he was missing. "Haldir, I assumed command of what is left of our kin. I will lead them into this final battle."
Haldir nodded once. "Too many have died already. Lead them wisely."
Elrond inclined his head in respect. "Hopefully we will meet again after Sauron has been defeated."
"I have complete faith in you," said Haldir and his gaze shifted from Elrond to Aragorn, noticing how the Man's hand disappeared behind Legolas' back. "Keep them safe, Estel."
"I will," vowed Aragorn.
Elrond and Glorfindel turned and walked over to the doorway, followed by Legolas and Aragorn. Haldir watched them leave, and a part of him felt saddened that he couldn't join them in this battle, but his first duty was to his mate. Brushing aside some dark blond curls, he pressed a kiss onto Éomer's brow.
Éomer's nose twitched as the sweet fragrance of freshly baked bread invaded his nostrils. His stomach growled hungrily, reminding him that he hadn't eaten for two days, and he reluctantly opened his eyes. Finding Haldir gone from their bed startled him, but he quickly located the Elf at the table, eating bread and dried meats, and drinking wine.
"It is about time you woke up," said Haldir teasingly. "Will you join me at the table or would you prefer me carrying the tray over to the bed?" He extensively studied Éomer, and was relieved at finding the hazel eyes clear of haunting memories.
"I will join you at the table." He had rested far too long as it was! He pushed back the covers and rose from the bed. The blanket slid down his shoulders and he quickly looked at Haldir, who cleared his throat.
"You should put on some clothes," said Haldir calmly, sipping his wine.
Éomer nodded sleepily and walked into the bathroom, dragging the blanket behind him. He poured some water and splashed his face. Last night had been torment and bliss at the same time. The nightmares had tortured him, but finding himself in Haldir's warm embrace had made him feel safe. After dressing himself in brown leggings and shirt, he joined Haldir at the table. Slowly he sat down, staring at the food without any real appetite.
Haldir picked up Éomer's plate and filled it with bread, cheese and dried meat. "Eat," he ordered, pouring Éomer tea instead of wine. Éomer obeyed and chewed the bread and dried meat. Haldir cleared his throat and said, "Aragorn visited when you were asleep. Rohan's army is marching for Gondor."
Éomer stared blindly into his cup of tea. "They already left?"
"I am afraid so." Haldir wished he knew of a way to lift Éomer's spirits. Acting instinctively, he placed his hand on Éomer's, rubbing the knuckles. "Your personal guards remained here. They refused to leave you." /And we will need them to seek out Grima's spies and to keep you safe./
"They should have joined Théoden's army," said Éomer softly. "Théoden will need all the help he can get."
"What is done is done," said Haldir calmly. "They remained here to serve you." Eying Éomer closely he wondered about the Man. He rose from his chair and knelt beside Éomer, resting his hands on his mate's knees. Éomer looked at him, surprise evident in the hazel eyes. "Will you kiss me?"
Éomer raised a shaky hand and stroked the long, silver hair. Leaning in closer, he answered Haldir's question.
Haldir reached for Éomer, and placed his hands on either side of the Man's head, caressing long curls. He felt somewhat relieved now that his mate was kissing him. He had been afraid that Éomer would revert to locking him out.
Éomer relaxed when the kiss remained sensual and slow, appreciating that Haldir didn't push him. Pulling back, he looked into the Elf's eyes. "You still want me," he realized.
"I told you so," replied Haldir smugly. "And finally we have some peace and quiet. There is no-one left to disturb us." His gaze was drawn to a shadow behind Éomer; a shadow that shouldn't be there.
"No-one left to disturb us? Haldir?" Éomer frowned, wondering why Haldir suddenly seemed so distant.
"It is nothing," said Haldir as the shadow vanished, leaving only the stone wall behind. Concentrating on his lover's haunted expression, his thumb moved over his mate's lips, wishing the past had treated Éomer more kindly.
A sudden noise, originating from the corridor, disturbed the peaceful moment and Haldir jumped to his feet. His back protested at once, but he ignored the discomfort as he turned toward the door. Éomer rose behind him and Haldir protectively stepped in front of the Man.
Éomer raised an eyebrow at Haldir's action, but allowed it. His hand reached for the dagger that was hidden beneath the pillow on the chair and slipped it into his sleeve, ready to face a potential intruder.
"I demand you let us pass! Do not try to stop us!"
Haldir's eyes widened, recognizing his brother's voice. "Orophin?" Seeing Éomer's puzzled expression, he quickly explained. "My brothers -- but how did they reach Edoras this quickly?" He hadn't expected them for at least ten more days!
"Aye, Rumil and Orophin." Haldir quickly walked toward the doorway, eager to welcome his brothers, but then more noise erupted from the corridor.
"Do not block our path!"
"Rumil," whispered Haldir. A grin surfaced on his face, as the noise grew louder. "I think your guards and my brothers are fighting."
Éomer sighed wearily. /His brothers? What are they doing here?/ If their attitudes resembled Haldir's former one, the Elves would be displeased about finding their brother bound to a Man. Haldir opened the door and Éomer quickly passed him by, stepping into the corridor. "Stop fighting!" he commanded, seeing two silver haired Elves pummel his men into submission.
Haldir quickly joined Éomer and laughed broadly at seeing his brothers' confused expressions. Stepping toward them, he reached out his hands, which Rumil and Orophin grabbed, pulling him into a hug.
"Brother! We were so worried! When the news of your death reached 'Lorien, we left at once! We are so relieved to find you alive!" Rumil sighed happily, pulling away to study his elder brother. Haldir looked pale, but seemed to be in good health. "Luckily the rumor of your death was greatly exaggerated!"
Orophin nodded his head. "Don't ever scare us like that again, brother! I told you it was unwise to leave us behind! You had no-one to look out for you."
Éomer glared at his men and told them to get to their feet. Shamefaced at losing the fight, the two Rohirrim bowed their heads. Seeing Haldir and his brothers talking, Éomer felt left out, but he immediately berated himself; he should have known that having Haldir's love was too good to be true. Now he had lost him to his brothers. Listlessly, he stared at the happy reunion.
From the corner of his eye, Orophin caught sight of the Man, who stared at his brother and he turned to Haldir. "Brother, you are being watched."
Haldir felt guilty for forgetting about Éomer, and released his brothers after hugging them one more time. "Orophin, Rumil, this is Éomer."
The Elves' stares reminded Éomer too much of the arrogant look Haldir had given him in the beginning. He remained quiet, not looking forward to hearing any condescending comments.
"Haldir, why introduce us to a Man?" asked Rumil. "I know you fought alongside them at Celeborn's order, but you never had any love for them." Rumil's eyes narrowed, seeing Haldir flinch at hearing his words. He exchanged a look with Orophin who looked equally puzzled.
"We should sit down," decided Haldir. "There is a lot I need to tell you." Haldir signaled for his brothers to enter Éomer's rooms and when they did, he folded one arm around his mate's shaking form. "Do not worry, Voronwer. All will be well."
But Haldir's words didn't comfort him and Éomer moved away from the Elf, sitting down opposite the two brothers.
Orophin and Rumil remained alert; Haldir's behavior worried them. "Brother," started Rumil, "what about these rumors we heard? You were reported dead and --"
Haldir raised a hand, silencing his younger brother. "Those rumors were true. I died."
"You died?" Orophin's eyes narrowed. "I do not understand!"
"I was on my way to the Halls of Waiting when Lord Elrond managed to pull me back." Haldir quickly glanced at Éomer, but the Rohirrim refused to meet his eyes, staring at the wall instead.
Rumil laughed nervously. "Then we owe Lord Elrond our gratitude." The Man's presence puzzled him -- and why was Haldir sitting so close to Éomer?
"But Lord Elrond needed someone's life force to pull me back." Haldir's hand sought out Éomer's, wrapping his fingers around the cold flesh. "Éomer volunteered, and followed me to Mandos."
Rumil now turned quiet, digesting the distressing news. His brother had died and traveled to Mandos! And then this Man had pulled him back?
Orophin's gaze came to rest on Éomer and he noticed the Man's unease. His gaze traveled lower, finding Haldir holding Éomer's hand. It must be true then. Like Rumil, he felt shocked and lost for words.
Éomer felt uncomfortable, being watched by Rumil and Orophin. The two Elves looked eternally ethereal, even more than Haldir, and their mere presence was enough to unnerve him. He wanted to flee the room, but Haldir had a hold on his hand and tightened it, telling him to stay. Éomer sighed, distressed, but complied, letting Haldir take control of the situation.
"Brothers, Éomer saved my life. He is the reason I am seated here next to you. His life force is the one thing that keeps me among the living." Haldir cringed, seeing realization dawn in their eyes.
"Haldir, brother..." Rumil raised a hand and rested it on Haldir's shoulder. "His life force?"
"Aye, when he dies, I die. I have about forty or fifty years left."
A keening wail left Orophin's lips as he stared at Haldir in disbelief. "Oh, brother, my heart weeps for thee!"
Haldir smiled warmly, trying to calm them down. "Brothers, rejoice for me instead. I still have many years left. Had Lord Elrond and Éomer not acted I would be dead now."
Tears dripped from Rumil's eyes. "Haldir, we cannot help but weep for you. You should live forever, not just forty years!"
Haldir let go of Éomer's hand and gathered his brothers close to him. Rumil and Orophin rested their heads on his shoulder and he held them close. Eventually he whispered softly, "Rejoice, my brothers, for I have found true love."
Rumil's eyes widened and he jerked back, making eye contact with Haldir. "What?"
Orophin frowned, pulled back as well and his gaze shifted from Haldir to Éomer. "True love?"
Éomer shivered, hearing those two words. "It is the bond that formed between us. It caused us to fall in love."
Rumil and Orophin looked to their brother for an explanation. Haldir drew in a deep breath and reached for Éomer's hand once more, cradling it in his. "I accepted Éomer as my mate."
Rumil sighed, feeling troubled. "Brother, please give us a moment to deal with this. We expected to collect your corpse, not to find you bound to a Man."
Haldir understood their distress and remained quiet, rubbing Éomer's cold fingers instead. Seeing his brothers this unexpectedly affected him as well.
Rumil was the first to speak up. "Haldir, we are truly glad to find you in good health, but this is much to take in."
"We have time," said Haldir, looking at Éomer, hoping his mate understood.
Éomer nodded. "You can stay at Edoras as long as you want. Gamling will prepare rooms for you as I am sure you will want to rest." He felt tired and defeated, seeing doubt in their eyes. "I will take care of it," said Éomer softly.
Haldir frowned as his mate pulled back his hand and rose to his feet. He really didn't want to let Éomer out of his sight as long as Grima's spies were inside the keep's walls.
Éomer pretended not to see Haldir's worried look and hurried toward the doorway, quickly fleeing into the corridor. The Rohirrim didn't dare look at him and Éomer felt thankful for that. "I need to speak to Gamling." One of the guards nodded and left to fetch Gamling. Éomer turned to the other guard. "What happened when the Elves appeared?"
"They demanded to see Théoden. When I told him the Lord had already left they demanded to speak to the commanding officer. I did not know --"
Éomer waved the excuse away. "The Elves are our allies now, our friends."
"It won't happen again!" said the guard firmly.
Éomer nodded, and met Gamling's eyes when the older man appeared beside him. "We have guests; Haldir's brothers. Prepare two rooms for them."
Gamling inclined his head, signaling he had understood, but he had also noticed Éomer's upset expression. He wondered if he should address it, but then Éomer turned and disappeared down the corridor, heading for the stables. "Some fresh air will do him good," mumbled Gamling in an effort to reassure himself, and then left to prepare for their guests' stay.
Now that they were alone, Rumil shifted closer to Haldir. "What is really happening here, brother? I do not know you this mellow. It almost seems like you care for this Man."
Haldir understood his brothers' hesitance to accept this situation, but he was also determined to make them see that he had been given a second chance. "Rumil, I was at Mandos when Éomer pulled me back. He offered his life force to save me, and -- I doubt it is just the bond that causes me to have feelings for him. Éomer is an honorable warrior, which you will understand eventually."
Orophin sighed deeply, locking eyes with his elder brother. "You really care for this Man?"
"I do." Haldir paused briefly and then took hold of their hands, making sure he had their undivided attention. "I sent a messenger to 'Lorien. He carries a letter in which I ask you to join me at Edoras."
Orophin nodded once. "Continue."
"I asked you to come here because I need you to help me." Haldir was tempted to wait a little longer with revealing his request to hunt down Grima. His brothers still hadn't accepted Éomer's presence in his life and he wanted them to accept his mate first. Telling them about the abuse would put them at an advantage when dealing with Éomer, and he wanted to make sure they understood how badly Éomer had been hurt.
"Our help?" Rumil frowned. "You know you can always count on us, Haldir."
"Then listen carefully. Éomer is heir to the throne of Rohan, and that makes him a target. I have reason to believe that evil forces are hiding inside the keep's wall, ready to take him out." He complimented himself on not mentioning Grima's name; that would come later. "And as his mate I have a duty to protect him. And I ask you, my brothers, to look out for him as well."
"When Éomer dies, you die," said Orophin in a clipped tone. "That is enough reason for me to make sure the Man is unharmed."
/But that is the wrong reason,/ thought Haldir saddened, /you will think differently once you get to know him. Then you will want to protect him for the beautiful person he is./
"We will do as you ask of us, brother, because we love you," said Rumil affectionately. "Haldir, will you return to 'Lorien with us after --"
Haldir shook his head. "I cannot do that, Rumil. Éomer will be Lord of the Mark one day and I am his official mate. I cannot desert him. My place is here now." Until now he hadn't fully realized that either. "Rohan is my new home, although my heart will always belong to 'Lorien."
Rumil swallowed hard. "Aiya, brother, I wish we had accompanied you to Helm's Deep. Maybe then none of this had happened, and you would be able to return home with us."
Haldir thoughtfully shook his head. "Rumil, I am not so sure about that. Maybe sharing this bond with Éomer was my destiny."
"You love him," whispered Orophin knowingly. "You love a Man!" Suddenly a chuckle escaped him. "I never though the day would come that you would lose your heart to a Man!"
"Trust me, Orophin," said Haldir in a firm tone, "Éomer faced death for me. He is worthy of my love."
Orophin and Rumil heard the determined tone in their brother's voice. "Haldir," said Rumil, speaking for Orophin as well, "if he is that important to you we will keep him safe."
Haldir smiled warmly. He had known he could count on his brothers. "Diolla lle, Rumil, Orophin." Looking about, he wanted to address Éomer, but found his mate gone. "Where --?"
"He left the room a few moments ago and did not return," said Orophin, recalling Éomer had left to instruct Gamling.
A shadow danced over the brick wall, suddenly making Haldir shiver. "I do not like this, Orophin. We should find him." Éomer had been upset when he had last seen him. Maybe his lover had headed for the tower Éomer had mentioned earlier. Watching the shadow slip beneath the door, Haldir quickly rose to his feet. "I must know him safe."
"We will find him," said Rumil reassuringly.
But Haldir began to tremble as a sense of foreboding swept through him. "Come, we must hurry!" The bond told him Éomer was in danger, and it was up to him to make sure his mate was safe.
The guards never noticed the shadow, which moved purposefully down the deserted corridor, searching for its prey.
Beta read by Ilye, thanks!
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