Lothlorien, Third Age 1982
The devastated forest mourned for its children, those who perished as well as those who departed its sheltering boughs in their grief. The trees' lamentations were displayed in the shedding of their leaves and the sagging of their mighty limbs. The flowers in the gardens faded and withered and the song of wind in branches became a hollow whisper even the elves strained to hear.
But Dol Guldur had not prevailed, no matter how Lorien suffered; they were bloody and diminished, but they were not vanquished. As one season ends, so another begins, and as one chapter of Lothlorien's history came to a bitter close, another was waiting to be written, and it began with the return of two who loved Lothlorien deeply, but who had been long away. They came at long last to the forest, and with them came hope.
As the Lady Galadriel and her mate, Celeborn of Doriath, entered the Golden Wood, the trees gave bud anew, and all that lay fallow flourished. The love the trees bear for the Lady is so great, the Galadhrim believed, that they long to appear to her full fruit!
Those who gathered in Galadriel’s Garden in the shadow of Caras Galadhon raised their voices together to welcome their new stewards:
“Hail to the Lord and Lady of Lothlorien! Hail to the Golden Wood!”
With silent steps Haldir traversed trails only his eyes could find, wending his way through mellyrn, birch and ash.
He recalled a bright morning long, long ago when his father had swept him up onto his shoulders and carried him through these woods in dappled sunlight. He remembered his father kneeling behind him, one arm wrapped around his waist, his hand broad and warm against his belly, pressing his little palm against the bole of a mallorn and whispering to him to listen.
The trees will speak to you, iôn-nin, if only you have ears to hear them. They love us as we love them. They shelter us with leaf and bough, they give us wood for our very beds and kindling for our hearth-fires, and in return, we tend them. Will you hearken to them, pen-neth? Will you keep them as they keep you?
Ever in Haldir's mind his father had stood as a soldier, a mighty force with bow and sword, slayer of yrch and fell beasts, defender of the realm. He understood now that his father's duty had been far greater than that; the sword and bow had been but a small facet of the whole. He was a Galadhel, an elf of the trees, and it was to their stewardship even more than the protection of his people that he was willingly bound.
In his memory, he recalled Guilin's hand rippling and shifting, blending with the bark as if becoming part of the fibre of the tree itself. He could no longer see where silver skin of the tree ended and Elven flesh began. The hand around his belly edged upward, coming to rest over his heart.
Open yourself to them, iôn-nin. Let them speak to you. Let them speak through you.
For the first time, his hands had felt the pulse of life behind the silent sentinels, the power thrumming in root and leaf. Under his touch, the mighty mallorn breathed and sighed. He had heard with new acuity the steady beating within the bole as if it emanated from his own heart.
He had tried to respond, but overwhelmed, his voice had failed him and he only stared at the tree in mute awe. And the tree had laughed, a warm, inviting sound like wind-blown leaves. His father's arm around him was as solid and strong as a root; he could imagine the shape and shade of the Mallorn being absorbed into his father's body until it was the tree itself that embraced him. His father was part of the woods. He had understood then: he himself was part of them, too.
And now, no longer a babe yet still a child of the woods, Haldir leaned against that same Mallorn, rested his cheek against the smooth bark and closed his eyes.
“Suilad, pen iaur.”
Suilad, Guilinion. There are no more redcloaks here. Have you come to take their place? To take your father’s place?
“Aye. I am to take their place. Will you have me for your guardian?”
We will, came the answer. We have been waiting for you.