Edraith's Heart by Lannorui
The dawn was breaking over the forest as the inhabitants began to wake. The breeze rustled the leaves of the trees as the forest animals began to scurry for their morning meal. Edraith was already up and in the forest by the time the sun had risen and his family was awake. He had decided it was time to take a look through the forest again. He knew the trees were faring well, but he loved being in the forest. Besides he thought to himself, if he were in the forest, he would not have to listen to his mother once again try to convince him it was past time for him to marry. Edraith grinned as he remembered the conversation from the evening before with his parents.
“Edraith,” Durelleth had said to him, “When are you going to take a wife and have children of your own?”
Edraith had rolled his eyes as this old topic had now worn out its welcome. “Mother, I do not wish to get married,” he had answered her. “I want to be in my forest tending it and if I had a wife I would want to be here with her. So, naturally it is better if I do not have one.” Edraith had grinned as he hugged his mother, “Besides mother, where would I find a she-elf as wonderful as you?”
Durelleth hugged her son, and then in a serious voice said, “Edraith, you really should consider finding yourself a wife. You are so wonderful with all of your nieces and nephews and I know you would make a wonderful father.”
“Mother,” Edraith had started to say a bit impatiently when his father interrupted their conversation.
“Durelleth, leave him alone,” his father had said, “Edraith will marry when and if he should find the right she-elf for him.” Thalion grinned at his son and looked at his wife. Thalion wrapped an arm around his wife and grinned at his son again, “Who is to say where one is to find love, but I think for now my love, we shall leave our son alone.” Thalion started leading Durelleth away.
“Thalion,” Durelleth started to protest.
“Leave him alone Durelleth,” Thalion had whispered in her ear. “Besides you know the more you try to get him to do something, the more he will fight it. He does have that stubborn streak in him that comes from you.” Thalion grinned at the scathing look he received from his wife.
“As I recall you also have a stubborn streak!” Durelleth had said to her husband.
Edraith had watched as his parents had gone through the community to their home. They had continued teasing each other until well out of his range of hearing. Now, as his thoughts returned to the present, he wondered if maybe his mother was right. Perhaps it was time to consider marriage. He had enjoyed watching his parents light banter with each other, and his brother and sisters had the same closeness with their spouses.
“Escaping your parents again are you?” Edraith grinned as he saw his uncle walking up to him where he stood beside a large tree.
“Good morning Uncle Tauron,” Edraith said as he greeted his uncle. “Escaping Aunt Elwen again are you?” Edraith teased.
“You know, just one morning I would like to wake up and not everybody know when Elwen and I have had a disagreement,” Tauron grumbled.
Edraith laughed at his uncle. “Well you and my parents do make for some interesting conversations.”
“Not as much as Ithildin and Gailon,” Tauron said grinning. “I thought for sure Gailon was going to have to go back to being Captain of the Guards last week when he and Ithildin had their argument.”
“Well, one would think Gailon would have learn by now not to try to make Ithildin do something as silly as wear a dress just because of a special occasion,” Edraith laughed.
Tauron laughed along with his nephew as they walked through the forest. They stopped as they heard riders approaching, and they turned to see Tuluon and Tiriad heading their direction.
“Where are you two heading?” Edraith asked.
Tuluon and Tiriad looked at each other. Edraith was still amazed at how the twins always seemed to know what the other was thinking. They were completely grown now, and well trained. His father and grandfather had made sure of it, and now they often were sent on errands for the forest. Both were tall, with dark hair, and deep blue eyes. The only way Edraith was able to tell them apart was Tuluon usually had his bow over his left shoulder and Tiriad had his over his right. Otherwise, they were identical mirror images of each other.
“Uncle Edraith,” Tuluon said in a deep voice, “The last time I checked we outgrew needing to give an account for ourselves.”
“But if you must know,” Tiriad said picking up where Tuluon had left off, “Grandfather needs us to do an errand for him.”
“So we are,” the two said together.
Edraith looked at his uncle grinning. The twins almost always were able to finish each others sentences, and often would say the same things together. It was something the elves of Brethil had gotten use to. “Well just stay out of trouble,” Edraith said as they started to ride away.
Tuluon looked back over his shoulder and grinned at his Uncle. “I thought you might like to know, grandmother is looking for you.” With that last comment the twins started laughing and spurred their horses into a trot and before long were lost in the canopy of the forest.
“I think that is my hint that I need to head further into the forest,” Edraith said as he and his uncle stopped near a large tree.
Tauron looked up at the tree and at then at Edraith. “Edraith, this forest is fine,” he said seriously. “You take extremely good care of it and it has never been better. Come home. Your mother will not bother you today.”
Edraith looked at his uncle as if he had lost his mind. “You know how mother is Uncle Tauron,” Edraith said, “She does not let things go easily and trust me; this is an old topic that has worn itself out.”
Tauron laughed gently, “Yes I do know your mother, but maybe Thalion could get her to let this go for now.”
“You are talking about my father, your brother right?” Edraith asked skeptically. “The one who thinks kissing her will solve all arguments?”
Tauron laughed. “Well I suppose you do have a point,” Tauron said, “But you spend at least three-quarters of your life in this forest and hardly any time at home. Why do you think your mother keeps pestering you to get married?”
“Uncle, I love the forest. I always have and I always will,” Edraith said quietly, “I come home, but I like being out here.”
Tauron looked at Edraith. His love for the forest shined in his eyes and Tauron shook his head, “Yes I know. I remember when you were younger and always wanted to go with me when I tended the forest. But alas, now you do that so well.” Tauron smiled at his nephew with pride. “I am proud of you nephew, and in time, I hope you will also find a wife to love just as much as your forest. Until then though, I suggest you get going before your mother finds you and you do not make your escape,” Tauron said grinning at him and then turning he muttered. “How I wish I could escape with you.”
Edraith laughed softly as his uncle headed back to the community. He knew his uncle would make good his escape. “I love you too uncle,” Edraith said quietly and then he turned to head further into the forest.
Celebaen looked up at the large tree she had been working on in frustration. She was not sure what else to do. She and her people had done everything to save the tree, but they could not figure out why it was dying. The tree was in the middle of their community and stood higher than any other tree around. She remembered when she was younger how she loved to climb to the top of it. She could see what seemed like forever when she reached the top. This tree had sheltered the first elves to come to this forest, and its branches extended over a large part of their community. It was where everybody gathered to celebrate, and where many young couples stood when taking marriage vows. She could not let the tree die, but she did not know what else to do to help it. The people of Nuath would not lose their favorite tree if she could help it.
“Celebaen, have you found out what is wrong with the tree yet?” a female voice asked her from behind.
Celebaen turned and gave a quick bow as she recognized Lady Gwelwen walking up to her. “My Lady,” Celebaen said. “No I have not been able to discover why the tree is dying.”
“I think it is perhaps time to ask somebody who might be a little better with the trees Celebaen,” Lady Gwelwen said. “I have heard in the Forest of Brethil the elves there are very good with trees. I have heard that their trees are always beautiful. Perhaps you should ride to Brethil and ask the Lord there if he has somebody to help us.”
“My Lady, I am sure if I have a little more time I can solve this problem,” Celebaen said.
“We do not have much time left Celebaen,” Lady Gwelwen said. “I have already discussed it with my husband. I am sending you to Brethil. I do not know how much longer the tree will last without some help.”
“Yes My Lady,” Celebaen answered and bowed. She turned quickly and headed to her home. She was upset that the Lord and Lady would send for an outsider to help. She was sure that she could figure out the problem if given more time. Quickly she gathered her gear and saddled her horse. Her movements were filled with anger, but she could not refuse the Lord and Lady so she was going to Brethil for help. “Just what I need some know it all elf who thinks he has all the answers,” Celebaen grumbled under her breath as she mounted her horse and headed out of the forest. Brethil was only a few days ride away, and it gave her plenty of time to build her defenses and anger against the would-be rescuer of her precious tree.
Edraith had been in the forest for a week when he reached the stream that ran through Brethil. He had enjoyed his time there, but he knew he must go home soon. He had been out much longer than he had originally planned, but he always lost track of time while roaming through the forest. As he had expected, there was not much that needed to be done. There had been a few limbs that needed removing; but otherwise, the trees of the forest were faring well. It was growing late and he set up camp near the banks of the river. He was just settling down when he heard riders approaching.
Garavon was leading the elf-maiden who had come to their borders to Lord Lathron. He had not been particularly happy about leaving the borders but he had to escort her to the community. They had just reached the stream when he saw Edraith camped on the banks. “Edraith,” Garavon exclaimed as he rode across the stream. “I am glad to see you!”
“Why would you be glad to see me cousin?” Edraith asked cautiously. He noticed the she-elf riding with Garavon and he grew cautious. He could not tell much about her since she was wrapped in a cloak against the chill of the night.
“We will rest here for the evening Celebaen,” Garavon said as he jumped off his horse. “Edraith this is Celebaen. She has come from Nuath at the request of her Lord and Lady to speak with grandfather.”
“Welcome to Brethil Celebaen.” Edraith said. “Please sit by the fire and warm yourself while I speak with my cousin.” Edraith walked a short distance from the fire with Garavon before speaking. “Do you know why she has come?”
Garavon looked back at their guest as they quietly talked, “No, I do not know why she is here, only that she needs to talk with grandfather.” Garavon looked at Edraith, “Why are you out here? I thought you had gone home weeks ago.”
Edraith looked at Garavon a little sheepishly before grinning, “I am hiding from mother,” he said laughing.
Garavon raised his eyebrows in curiosity. “What is Aunt Durelleth doing now?” he asked with laughter.
Edraith gave his cousin a scathing look before answering. “She is asking the same question.”
Garavon burst out laughing, “Are you telling me you are hiding in the forest to keep from answering that question?”
“You know one day it will most likely be your mother asking you, and when it is, I am going to have so much fun laughing, my sides will hurt,” Edraith said a bit angrily.
“That will not happen, Edraith. That is part of the fun of being a guard. I do not have to be at home much,” he said laughing.
“So that explains why you stay out here so long,” Edraith said.
“Well I am smart enough to stay gone long enough that she never has time to think about that, much less ask me,” Garavon laughed.
Edraith could not help it, he started laughing as he walked back to the fire, “Perhaps you are the smart one after all cousin,” Edraith stated.
“Wait Edraith,” Garavon said as Edraith started back for the fire. “Could you do something for me?”
“What would that be,” he asked suspiciously.
“Well, I really need to return to the borders,” Garavon answered seriously. “I am really needed there right now. Could you possibly escort Celebaen to grandfather for me?” he asked.
Edraith looked at his cousin as if he had suddenly grown a second head. “Are you crazy?” Edraith finally asked. “I have things to do also cousin, what makes me the perfect candidate to escort her?”
“I am sorry to be such a bother to both of you,” they suddenly heard Celebaen say sarcastically. “If one of you would be kind enough to show me the way, I am sure I can handle getting there myself.”
Edraith stared in stunned silence at the she-elf who stood but a few feet away from them with her hands on her hips. He could tell by the way she was standing and glaring at them that she was angry. He blushed suddenly as he thought of how rude they had been in trying to pass her off to each other. He locked gazes with her for a moment before grinning. He had seen that stubbornness enough times from his own mother that he knew they were in trouble.
“Please forgive my cousin and I,” Edraith said grinning, “We both enjoy being out here so much that neither of us is ready to continue on home. However, since I probably should have gone home several days ago, I will escort her there for you Garavon, but you get to lose your horse to me for doing this for you.”
Garavon started chuckling softly, “Be careful cousin, I think she has a bite to her. You may take my horse and I can walk back to the borders.”
“How kind of you,” Edraith said sarcastically. He already figured out that this she-elf would be quite a handful. He was eager to get her to his grandfather and then out of their forest.
Garavon went to his horse and removed his gear. He clasped hands with Edraith before turning to walk back to the borders.
“You could wait until morning cousin,” Edraith protested as Garavon started across the stream.
Garavon stood on a large stone in the middle of the stream and looked back at Edraith, “No I could not Edraith,” he said grinning, “I have a feeling it is probably a lot safer at the borders. Goodnight cousin and enjoy yourself.” Garavon jumped off the stone to the other side of the stream and continued back in the direction he had just traveled with Celebaen.
Edraith looked at Celebaen and back to where his cousin had disappeared into the forest. He would beat his cousin later, but for now, he had to try to figure out what to say to the she-elf who was standing there not looking too pleased. “Well,” he started to say. He was at a loss for words. He did not know what to say and again he looked to the forest where his cousin had disappeared.
Celebaen looked up at the handsome elf. He was tall, with long golden hair. His eyes were green, and he was well muscled. Celebaen decided she had no time for admiring the elves of the forest. She had come here to find somebody to help her save her tree. She watched as Edraith again looked to the forest where his cousin had disappeared and he looked like he would go chasing after him.
“I am sorry if I am disturbing your solitude,” she said sarcastically. She was already annoyed with the cousins for trying to find a reason why the other should escort her, but now that they decided that Edraith would, he looked as if he would prefer to be anywhere but where he was.
“Forgive me, I do not mean to be rude,” Edraith said, “But I am usually out here in the forest on my own. Why not sit by the fire and get some rest. I am sure everything will be better in the morning.”
Celebaen glared at him, but turned back to the camp. She grabbed her cloak tight around her and lay down near the fire. She would be glad to reach the community and get this over with and return home, she thought to herself. She was tired from the journey and she was upset about coming to Brethil for help. She felt weariness take over and before long; she fell into a deep sleep.
Edraith stared at the she-elf as she finally fell asleep. He let out a sigh of relief. What was his cousin thinking? What was he thinking accepting the job of escorting her? Edraith ran a weary hand across his eyes. He must be more tired than he thought. Sighing again, he grabbed his cloak, wrapped up in it, and lay down to sleep.
Celebaen woke to the sounds of the forest. She could hear the stream running beside them, and birds chirping in the trees. For a moment she forgot where she was, but she was quickly reminded as she heard Edraith walking around the camp. She sat up and looked around her. Everything looked different in the daylight and she took a few moments to admire the forest.
“Good morning Celebaen,” she heard Edraith say to her. She looked where he was preparing his horse to leave.
“Good morning,” she said briefly as she stood up and stretched. She walked to where her horse was grazing near the bank of the stream and she opened a pouch hanging on the side of the saddle. Reaching inside, she pulled out a brush. She removed her cloak and started brushing her hair.
Edraith stopped as he watched her brush her hair. She was more beautiful than he had realized last night. She was small figured, with her brown hair flowing down her back. When she turned toward him, he could see that she had soft green eyes. Edraith shook himself as he realized he was staring at her. What had come over him? Grumbling to himself again about being three kinds of a fool for letting his cousin talk him into this, he finished making sure the fire was completely out and prepared to leave camp.
“If you are ready to go we can reach the valley of horses by this evening,” he said to her grumpily.
Celebaen glared at his impatience. She grabbed her cloak, put it back on, and walked to the stream. She cupped her hands to get a handful of water that she used to wash her face. She knew she was purposely delaying just to annoy him, but she did not care. She was insulted by his rudeness and she was not going to hurry just to please him. When she was finished she turned to her horse and mounted.
“Ready to go,” she said innocently. Celebaen had to hide a grin as she saw the look of anger on his face.
Edraith was hard pressed to control his temper. She had taken as long as she could. He ignored it and rode in the direction of the community. They had ridden in silence all day long. Edraith had occasionally looked back to make sure she was following, but beyond that, he had completely ignored her. It was growing dark as they reached the valley of horses. He put his horse into a gallop as they rode across the valley. Serondrych was putting away his supplies as they rode up.
“Welcome home cousin,” Serondrych said as they rode up.
“How many cousins do you have?” Celebaen asked.
Edraith scowled at the she-elf as she dismounted from her horse. “Enough of them,” he answered impatiently. “Serondrych, would you mind tending to our horses for us? I need to take Celebaen to talk with grandfather.”
“I do not mind Edraith,” Serondrych answered.
Edraith grabbed his stuff from the horse and patted Serondrych on the back “Thank you,” he said as he started leading Celebaen up the path to the community.
“I should warn you though,” Serondrych said as Edraith walked by him. “Your mother is not happy with you. Father got yelled at by her already because he let you leave.”
“Uncle Tauron understood my reason for leaving, though I am sorry he got in trouble with my mother,” Edraith said with a grin.
“It is not my father you should be feeling sorry for cousin,” Serondrych said with laughter, “It is yourself once your mother gets hold of you.”
Edraith laughed softly. He could well imagine the trouble he was about to get into. “Thank you for the warning cousin. If I am lucky, maybe I can duck from her,” he said.
“Then again you might not,” Serondrych said pointing to the path leading to the valley and grinned. Durelleth had heard from one of the other elves that Edraith had returned and she was heading down the path.
Edraith groaned as his mother approached him. “Good evening mother,” Edraith said innocently.
“Is that all you have to say?” she asked in anger. “You disappear out of here for a week without as much as a goodbye and then you greet me with a good evening?” Durelleth was angry at her son. “You could have at least had enough manners to tell me you were leaving Edraith.”
“Mother I am not an elfling anymore to have to give an accounting of my comings and goings,” Edraith said impatiently as they started walking to the community. It embarrassed him to be getting in trouble in front of Celebaen and it was really pulling his temper up short.
“Edraith I am talking to you…” Durelleth began to say.
“Durelleth, leave him alone,” Thalion said as he walked up to greet his son. “Welcome home son, but next time you could at least let us know you are leaving instead of sneaking out of here.”
“I have noticed he does lack a few manners,” Celebaen said while waiting for Edraith. “And right now I am tired and I have things to do. I do not mean to be rude, but if the family reunion is over and he is done being scolded, could somebody please tell me where I might find the Lord of the forest,” Celebaen said impatiently.
Edraith groaned as all eyes turned to him. “Mother, father, this is Celebaen. She has come here from Nuath on a mission for the Lord and Lady of the forest there to speak with grandfather,” Edraith said as he started walking to his grandparents’ home.
“Welcome Celebaen,” Durelleth said. “I am sure what ever business you have with Lord Lathron can wait until morning. It is already growing late. Come to our home for the evening,” she said leading Celebaen to their home. “You can have the evening meal with us, and a comfortable bed to sleep in. Then in the morning you can talk with Lord Lathron.”
“Mother,” Edraith started protesting, “Surely grandfather is still awake and she can take care of her business tonight.”
“I must agree My Lady,” Celebaen said. “I must tend to my business and return home as soon as possible.”
Edraith watched a Celebaen looked impatiently between him and his mother. Then grinning he said, “On second thought mother, perhaps you are right. It is getting late and grandfather will probably be asleep by now. I will take her in the morning.”
Celebaen glared at Edraith as he stood there grinning at her. “You know I need to talk with him and return home,” she said angrily.
“Well perhaps you should not have taken so long in preparing to leave this morning,” he said sarcastically.
“You are doing this on purpose Edraith,” she said stomping her foot. “You could take me there now if you wanted to, admit it.”
Durelleth and Thalion grinned at each other as they watched the exchange between Edraith and Celebaen.
“You are right, I could,” Edraith said, grinning at the look of anger on her face, “But I chose to go home, have a good hot meal, and then get a wonderful night of sleep. Tomorrow will be soon enough.” Edraith turned his back on her and walked to his home. He heard his parent talking with Celebaen as he entered their home.
“Come on home with us Celebaen,” Thalion said calmly, “You will feel much better after a good night of sleep.”
“Your son is the rudest most despicable elf I have ever met,” Celebaen said angrily.
Thalion laughed as he looked at his wife. “I remember a time when I was called that too,” he said.
“Thalion now is not the time to be teasing out guest,” Durelleth said trying to hide her grin. “Come with us Celebaen and we will get you settled.” Durelleth laughed as the impatient little she-elf finally gave in and followed them to their home. Durelleth did remember when she called Thalion rude and despicable and look where they had ended up.
“Come inside Celebaen,” Durelleth said as they reached their home. As they walked inside they found Edraith already helping himself to some of the food they still had sitting out on the table. “Are you hungry Edraith?” she asked as she led Celebaen to the table.
“Yes I am and the way she likes to take her time doing things, I could have starved to death before you all arrived,” Edraith answered his mother without a bit of remorse for helping himself to the food.
“Edraith mind your manners son,” Thalion said as he sat down next to his wife. They handed a plate of food to Celebaen. “How is the forest doing?” Thalion asked.
“Beautifully,” Edraith answered his father when he had finished eating. “The foliage this year is extremely healthy and green. I had a few branches to remove but otherwise the forest is doing quite well,” he said with pride.
“Please tell me you are not the one who tends to this forest,” Celebaen said almost desperately.
“Yes I am,” Edraith said.
Celebaen groaned as if in pain and laid her head on her arm on the table. “I should have known.”
“Are you alright my dear,” Durelleth asked in concern. She watched as Celebaen nodded her head without lifting it.
“Yes My Lady, I am fine,” she said, “I just received some most unwanted news is all. Are you the only one who tends to the forest?” Celebaen lifted her head and looked at Edraith hopefully.
“No my uncle is the one who taught me,” Edraith started to say.
“Maybe so, but you are the best there is Edraith and you know it,” Durelleth said to him. “He has been taking care of this forest for many years now Celebaen. Why do you ask?”
“I was just hoping there was somebody else is all,” Celebaen said quietly. “I find I am suddenly very tired. Could I possibly lie down?”
“Of course my dear, come with me and I will show you to a room.” Durelleth led Celebaen to the back of the house where she opened a door into a room. “This use to be my daughter Gelireths room and you should find everything you need in here.”
“Thank you My Lady,” Celebaen said, “I want to apologize for being rude earlier, but I am tired.”
“That is quite alright,” Durelleth answered. “Get some rest and tomorrow Edraith will take you to see Lord Lathron.”
“Thank you My Lady,” Celebaen said as she flopped down on the bed and buried her head in her arms. Oh please let there be somebody else she thought to herself.
Durelleth stood at the door, watched her for a few moments, and then headed back to the main room where Edraith and his father were still talking.
As Durelleth walked back into the room Edraith stood up, “I am going to bed. I am extremely tired,” he said as he stretched.
His mother gave him a doubtful look but said, “Good night Edraith. I am glad to have you back home.” She gave him a hug and watched as he walked to his room. “Do you want to explain what that was all about,” she asked Thalion.
“You are asking me?” Thalion asked his wife. “I know about as much as you do Durelleth, which is not much.” Thalion stood up and walked to where his wife was stacking the dishes. “Leave that for tomorrow and come to bed with me,” he said as he wrapped his arms around her and laid his chin on the top of her head.
Durelleth leaned back against her husband. She turned around in his arms and grinned up at him. “Do you know what I am thinking?” she asked.
Thalion laughed and held a finger up to his lips as he led his wife to their room at the end of the hallway. Closing the door, he started laughing. “Do they remind you of anybody else?” he finally asked between his laughter.
“My thoughts exactly,” Durelleth said laughing with her husband. “I think our son is doomed.”
“No my beautiful wife, I was not doomed the day I married you, and somehow I do not think he will be either,” Thalion said as he pulled his wife into his arms. “You know though, you did not have to scold him like that,” Thalion said reproachfully.
“I know love, but he makes me angry sometimes,” Durelleth said as she leaned against his chest and kissed the side of his neck. “I understand if he wants to be out in the forest, but is it so wrong of me to at least want my son to tell me goodbye before he leaves?”
Thalion groaned as Durelleth continued to kiss him on his neck, “No my love, it is not, but I think we can discuss that later.” Thalion picked Durelleth up and laid her on the bed. He then turned and put out the lantern that was beside their bed. “Come here wife,” he said as he lay down on the bed with her.
Edraith was slow to get up the next morning. He had been awake before the sun was up, but he knew Celebaen would be waiting so he stayed in bed just as long as possible. He grinned as he thought about the beautiful she-elf. He knew it would make her angry to have to wait for him, but wait for him she would. Laughing softly as he finally decided to get up; he quickly dressed and went into the main room where everybody was sitting at the table. He reached down and gave his mother a kiss before reaching for an apple on the table. “Good morning mother,” he said brightly.
“I was beginning to think you were never going to get up,” Celebaen said. “I was half tempted to come in there and wake you up myself.”
“That probably would not have been a good idea,” he said grinning.
“Why is that?” she asked.
Grinning at her as he took a bite of his apple he waited until he had swallowed it before answering, “I think you might have found more than you bargained for.”
Thalion quickly stood up. “I think it is time for us to take Celebaen to your grandfather Edraith.”
Edraith looked at his father innocently, “I have not finished my breakfast father. What is wrong with you?”
Thalion walked around the table working hard to suppress the grin from his face. “I think I will wait for you outside Edraith.” Thalion barely made it outside before he started laughing. Inside Edraith could hear his father laughing and he grinned at his mother.
Durelleth turned innocent eyes to her son, “So why did you sleep so late today son? You are usually up before the sun is.”
Edraith grinned at his mother, “I was extremely tired last night mother and I just slept really late.”
“You rat!” Celebaen said while standing up, “How long have you been awake?” she demanded.
Laughing while enjoying his apple Edraith looked at Celebaen, “I think my mother has already answered that question for you.”
“You rat!” she said again. “You know I need to talk with your grandfather and you have been lying in your room pretending to be asleep!” Celebaen grabbed the first thing that came into her hand and threw it at him.
Edraith ducked as a bowl of fruit barely missed his head. He looked at the mess made on the floor and stood up. “I think that is enough Celebaen,” he said. He leaned down, picked up the bowl and fruit, and set them on the table.
“I ought to beat you for doing that,” she said angrily.
“You could try,” he answered her sarcastically. His temper was starting to flare also and he was not going to sit back and let her throw things at him. Even if he did deserve it, he thought wryly.
“I think we should go over to your grandfathers’ house now,” Durelleth said as she tried to hide her grin. “As you have said Celebaen, you need to talk with Lord Lathron and I think now would be as a good a time as any.”
Edraith and Durelleth watched as Celebaen stomped out of their home. Edraith looked at his mother and laughed. Durelleth looked up at her son, “That was not very nice Edraith,” she said sternly.
Edraith grinned down at his mother. “I know mother, but I could not resist,” he said trying to not laugh. Durelleth walked with him out the door and into the courtyard where Thalion was waiting with Celebaen.
Celebaen glared at Edraith as he walked out with his mother and started walking across the community to a house close by. As they reached the platforms that led into the house, Edraith paused for a moment and gestured for Celebaen to go ahead of him. He grinned as she glared at him and walked ahead of him and up the platforms that led into a large room. Edraith and his parent followed her up the platform into the large room. His grandparents were sitting at the table as they walked into the room.
“Edraith, I did not know you were home,” his grandmother said as she stood up, walked over to him, and hugged him.
“I got home last night grandmother,” he said as he hugged her. “It was late so I did not want to disturb you or grandfather.”
“Well I am glad to see you,” she said.
“What brings everybody here this morning?” Lord Lathron asked as he joined the group.
“This is Celebaen,” Edraith said as his grandfather joined them. “She has come here to talk with you.”
“Welcome Celebaen,” Lord Lathron said, “What can I do for you?”
Celebaen stepped forward as Lord Lathron spoke to her. She bowed slightly and then began. “I come from Nuath for my Lord and Lady,” she said. “We have a very old tree that has been a part of our lives since the first elf lived there. It is sick and no matter what I have tried, I can not find what is wrong with it. This tree is a special tree My Lord otherwise it would not be so urgent, but we have done all we can to heal it and we have not been able to. Lady Gwelwen sent me to ask if you have somebody among your elves that could possibly come to our forest and help us.” Celebaen held her breath as she finished telling Lord Lathron the purpose of her journey. She was afraid he was going to send Edraith. She did not have long to wait.
“Of course,” Lord Lathron said. “Edraith is the best at working with the trees so I will send him with you. You should be able to leave today.”
“Grandfather there are other elves who are just as good as I am,” Edraith protested.
“Surely there is somebody else My Lord,” Celebaen pleaded.
“Is there a problem here that I have missed?” Lord Lathron asked as he looked back and forth between the two.
“No grandfather, it is just that I do have our own forest to tend to,” Edraith said trying to find any excuse to not go with Celebaen.
“Edraith you told me last night that our forest is doing well,” Thalion said.
Edraith gave his father a scathing look. “Thank you for reminding me father,” he said sarcastically.
“My pleasure son,” Thalion said grinning. Edraith rolled his eyes at his father. Great, now he was stuck for sure.
“Is there a problem Celebaen that I should know about?” Lord Lathron asked.
Celebaen glared at Edraith. How she wished she could tell Lord Lathron exactly what she thought, but instead she turned back to him and answered, “No My Lord, I suppose Edraith will do if you have nobody else.”
“Good, it is settled then,” he said, “Edraith will help prepare everything that is needed for the return journey and anything he may require. If it is not too late, you can set out today.”
“Yes grandfather,” Edraith said. He turned and walked out of his grandfathers’ home. Wonderful, he thought sarcastically, he was going to be traveling with her to her home. He had hoped once he had taken her to his grandfather, she would leave, but now he was stuck with her for the duration. Again he thought about Garavon at the borders. If he had brought her, Edraith would not have been home and his grandfather would have sent somebody else.
Edraith went to his room to prepare his gear. He then went to his uncle’s house to discuss this with him. Tauron gave Edraith some different roots to try to help, but without knowing exactly what was wrong with the tree, he did not know what to send. Edraith was well trained though and he trusted him to be able to find the problem and the cure. Everything was prepared to leave within a couple of hours and Edraith went in search of Celebaen.
“Mother have you seen Celebaen?” Edraith asked as he walked back into their house.
“The last I saw she was heading to the valley of horses Edraith,” Durelleth said. “Wait Edraith,” Durelleth said as he started to leave. She handed him a pouch full of food for the trip, “I fixed this for you and Celebaen for the trip to her home,” she said quietly, then she hugged her son. “I am sorry for fussing at you last night Edraith. Please hurry back home.”
Edraith hugged his mother, “I will mother, and do not worry about me ok? I am able to take care of myself you know,” he said gently teasing his mother. “I love you mother and I will see you when I return.”
“Goodbye Edraith,” she said.
She watched as Edraith picked up his gear and headed to the valley of horses. When he arrived, he found his father and Celebaen had already prepared the horses.
“Do you have everything you need son?” Thalion asked as he approached them.
“Yes father, I do,” Edraith said.
“Well the horses are ready, so if you have everything, then I suppose it is time for you to leave,” Thalion said.
Edraith smiled at his father. “Yes I suppose it is. Now I wish I had remained in the forest instead of letting Garavon talk me into bringing her here.”
Thalion grinned at his son, “I think everything will be fine son, besides your grandfather is right, you are the best elf to send.”
“I hope you are right father,” Edraith said a little doubtfully. “I know I can take care of the tree; that is not the problem.”
“Then what is?” Thalion asked innocently
Edraith looked at Celebaen. “She is the problem,” Edraith grumbled.
Thalion laughed “Well at least you are honest about it,” he said still laughing.
“I am glad you think this is so funny father,” Edraith said sarcastically. Edraith put his gear on the horse and then turning to his father he said, “I will be back as quick as I can.”
“Take your time son,” Thalion said with a grin.
“Trust me father, I will make this as quick and painless as possible,” Edraith said. He could not help the grin that crossed his face though as his father hugged him.
“Be safe my son,” Thalion said. He watched until Edraith and Celebaen had ridden out of the valley and into the forest. He would give anything to see what happened along the way, but he would have to wait here at home and find out what happened. Still grinning, he turned and headed home.
Edraith and Celebaen rode along the banks of the River Teiglin beside the border of the forest through the day without stopping. As night was closing on them, they arrived at the channel to cross the river. Edraith led the way across, pulled his horse to a stop, and dismounted.
“What are you doing?” Celebaen demanded after she had crossed the river.
“I am stopping for the night,” Edraith said. “Look, this is good place to rest tonight and we will continue in the morning.” Edraith pulled his blanket roll off his horse and prepared to lie down.
“You cannot stop now,” Celebaen said in frustration. “We need to get to my home.” Celebaen sat on her horse waiting for Edraith to get back on his horse and she got angrier when he ignored her. “Edraith, we must continue!” she argued.
“You might as well get comfortable Celebaen,” Edraith said as he continued to prepare for the evening. He pulled out the pouch of food his mother had sent with him and taking an apple out of the bag, he offered one to her. “My mother prepared some food for us.”
Celebaen jumped down from her horse and knocked the apple out of his hand, “I do not care what your mother prepared for us,” she said enraged with his attitude of indifference. “We must continue on to my home. You have already cost us precious time with your stupid games!”
Edraith glared at Celebaen while she yelled at him. “Just who do you think you are?” he asked angrily. Edraith picked up the apple she had knocked out of his hand and returned it to the bag. “You do not wish to eat, fine, but we are stopping here for the night,” he grounded out between clenched teeth.
“We need to continue Edraith!” she continued to argue.
“We are stopping here tonight Celebaen and that is the end of it!” Edraith stated. He crossed his arms across his chest and waited for the fight he knew was coming.
Celebaen stood there for a moment enraged. Finally, with nothing left to do she lunged at Edraith. Edraith caught her against his chest and wrapped his arms around her as she struggled. “Enough!” Edraith ground out while struggling to hold her.
“You are a despicable rat!” she yelled at him as she struggled to free herself from his grasp.
“Yes, you have told me that before,” he said sarcastically. “You are a spoiled brat, but I am not beating up on you! Ouch!” Edraith loosened his hold on her for a moment as she kicked his shin. “That is enough, Celebaen! I have already said we are stopping here for the night and that is all there is to it.” Edraith released her and took a step back and he quickly decided it was the wrong thing to do as Celebaen unleashed all of her anger and frustrations on him. Edraith had enough of her temper. He caught her in his arms as she started flailing her fists at him. Before she knew what happened, Edraith picked her up and threw her over his shoulder and walked back to the channel they had just crossed.
“Edraith put me down!” Celebaen demanded. “Put me down now! No, you better not Edraith!” she yelled as she realized he had walked back to the channel. She pummeled him on the back trying to get free from his grasp. Suddenly, she felt herself falling as Edraith tossed her into the river.
“Perhaps that will help to cool off your temper!” Edraith said wiping his hands together.
Celebaen surfaced from the water that pooled next to the channel crossing, sputtering. “You… You…” she stammered too angry to know what to say.
“I know, despicable rat,” Edraith said sarcastically. “I believe you have called me that a few times today brat.” Edraith turned and walked back over to the area he was setting up as camp and laid down on the blankets he had already laid out. He crossed his arms behind his head, laid his head back on them, and closed his eyes. Edraith listened as Celebaen pulled herself out of the water and walked back into the camp. He grinned as he heard her grumbling under her breath.
Celebaen walked by Edraith ignoring him. She wanted to pummel him again, but she knew she was no match for his strength and she was in no mood for another dunking in the river. “The least you could do after throwing me in the river is light a fire so that I can dry my clothes!” Celebaen grumbled.
“Sorry brat, but I am afraid there will be no fire,” Edraith said. He watched her between the slits of his eyes. He already knew she was going to be angry that there would not be a fire now, but this was for safety purposes. He grinned as she stopped pulling clothing from her bag and turned on him again. “I would not suggest it brat,” he said before she could say or do anything. “It would end up with you in the river again.”
Celebaen looked angrily at Edraith. “Then how would you suggest I get my clothes dry?” she demanded.
“That is not my problem,” he said smugly. “Perhaps next time you will learn to control that temper of yours.”
Celebaen tensed up ready to pummel him again, but after a moment, thought better of it. She finished pulling her dry clothes from her bag, and turned to find a place to change clothes. After she had changed, she walked back into the camp glaring at him and still mumbling under her breath.
Edraith grinned as he heard her mumbling about despicable rats. He finally closed his eyes to sleep until he heard her walk up beside him. He opened one eye and looked up at her. She stood over him with her dripping wet clothes with a smug smile on her face. If Edraith had been smart, he would have taken that as a warning. “I have just made it your problem,” Celebaen said as she dumped her wet clothes on top of him. She turned and walked away completely satisfied with the sounds of Edraith jumping up to get the cold, soaking wet clothes off of him.
Edraith looked down at his own clothes that were now wet and back at the she-elf as she walked back to her horse and pulled her blanket off. He had to give her credit; he thought to himself, she definitely had spirit. Edraith could not help the grin that spread across his face. Perhaps this journey would be fun after all. He pulled his wet shirt off and tossed it into the pile of wet clothes. “I suppose we could light a small fire,” he said. He walked around and picked up some small branches that lay around on the ground and built a fire. “But if we get attacked tonight brat, remember I told you so.”
“I will be nice enough to remind you that it was you who threw me into the river,” Celebaen said. She looked up as he lit the fire and froze. Celebaen could not help but stare at his well-muscled chest. She blushed as he caught her staring at him. “Perhaps you should consider putting another shirt on!” she said in an attempt to sound offended.
Edraith grinned as he saw the look on her face. So, the little brat was bothered by him not having a shirt on, well, he thought, this would indeed be fun. “I will put one on shortly,” he answered pretending not to notice her looks.
Celebaen lay down on her blanket and closed her eyes but before long, she found herself opening them again as Edraith moved about the camp. She watched his every movement as he went about laying the clothes out to dry and then moving his blankets closer to the fire. As Edraith moved closer to the fire, Celebaen held her breath as the glow from the fire lit up his skin. Suddenly she noticed him looking at her. She looked up at the smug look on his face as he stood there with his hands on his hips. Celebaen called herself all kinds of a fool. Glaring at him, she quickly rolled over, and closed her eyes. Her face turned red as she heard him softly laughing.
Edraith was not sure what had compelled him to act in such a way. He knew she had watched every move he had made around the camp. Laughing after she rolled her back to him, he walked to his horse and pulled another shirt out of his bag. After pulling it on, he lay down on his blankets and stared across the fire at her. He grinned once again at the fiery little she-elf. At least the trip would not be boring, he thought to himself before closing his eyes and falling asleep.
Edraith woke up before the sun was up. He rolled over and thought about the fight he had with Celebaen last night and grinned. He sat up and looked to where Celebaen was still sleeping. Standing up he stoked up the fire a little, and then checked the clothes. He grimaced as he realized they were not completely dry. She was not going to be happy. Edraith chuckled quietly as he anticipated the argument to come. Walking over to Celebaen, he stooped down beside her. He was reaching out to wake her when he found himself staring at her. He wondered how he was going to survive this. She was beautiful, with a fiery spirit that challenged him at every turn. Edraith shook himself out of his reveries and gently shook her shoulder.
“Celebaen,” he called softly to not startle her. “Celebaen, wake up. The sun will be up soon.”
Celebaen stirred and slowly opened her eyes. She smiled at Edraith as she woke up, “I was dreaming,” she said softly.
Edraith was stunned by how beautiful she was when she smiled and he sat down next to her. “What were you dreaming about?” he asked softly. He reached a hand out and brushed a few strands of hair out of her face as he waited.
Celebaen was startled by the gesture and sat up. She moved back out of Edraith’s reach. “It was nothing,” she said as she stood up. She turned her back on him and walked over to the fire to check her clothes. “My clothes are still damp,” she said accusingly.
“I noticed,” Edraith said as he walked to his horse. Once he reached his horse, he took the pouch of food and offered some to Celebaen.
“Thank you,” she said not looking at him.
Grinning, Edraith said, “I bet that hurt to say.” Edraith laughed softly as she tensed up. “Easy brat, I was only teasing.”
Celebaen glared at him. “Quit calling me that!” she demanded.
Edraith looked at her strangely. “Quit calling you what?” he asked confused.
“Brat,” she said. “I am not a brat.”
Edraith started laughing. “I had not even realized I had done that Celebaen, but since you like calling me a despicable rat, I think I will continue to call you a brat.”
Celebaen tried hard not to grin, but after a few moments, she could not help but laugh along with him. “I tell you what, I will quit calling you a despicable rat, and you can quit calling me a brat.”
Edraith watched as her face lit up with her laughter and he sucked in his breath. Her beauty surprised him, especially when she smiled and laughed. He decided he wanted to try to keep things half way friendly with her since he would have to work with her for a while, so he said, “I kind of like you calling me a despicable rat, and I definitely like calling you a brat. How about we leave it like that?”
Celebaen stared at him while she thought about his words and then she grinned, “That would mean I could call you a rat any time I want and not get into trouble right?”
Edraith laughed, “No that means you can call me a despicable rat any time you want and not get into trouble.”
Laughing, Celebaen reached out her hand and offered it to him in a truce. “I think it sounds like a great plan.”
Edraith took her hand into his and grinned down at her. “I do too,” he said softly. “I think we had better be leaving,” he suddenly said. Edraith pulled his hand free and walked to his horse. He was kicking himself and calling himself all kinds of a fool again. What was he thinking? The last thing he needed was to enjoy being around this she-elf! He grabbed his blanket and pouch with jerky movements, and placed them back on his horse. He then grabbed his shirt that was still drying by the fire and balling it up, he tossed it into his bag. He would worry about it later, he decided.
Celebaen grabbed her clothes, folded them up, and placed them into her bag. She noticed that Edraith suddenly seemed angry, but she did not know why. She thought about the exchange of a tentative friendship that they had shared and wondered if that was the cause for his anger. After she folded her blanket and put it on the horse, she quickly mounted and waited for Edraith to make sure the fire was completely out. As soon as he was finished, he mounted his horse, and they once again set off for Nuath.
Celebaen led the way to Nuath in front of Edraith. He watched her closely as they rode and wondered why it had bothered him so much to become friends with her. They had ridden hard through half the day, until Edraith finally called a halt.
“The horses need a rest,” he said as he stopped his horse.
Celebaen quickly grew impatient with him again. “Edraith, do not start this again,” she said impatiently.
“Celebaen, I understand you want to get home. What is going to happen though if we run our horses into the ground?” he asked a bit irritated with her attitude.
Sighing, Celebaen dismounted from her horse and walked around to stretch her legs. If she were honest, she was glad for the chance to stretch. Edraith rubbed the neck of his horse as he watched Celebaen walk around their resting spot. He reached into the pouch of food, brought out an apple, and offered it to the horse.
“Tell me about this tree,” Edraith finally said. “What is wrong with it?”
“I do not know, that is why I have come for you,” she answered sharply. “If I knew what was wrong with it, I could cure it myself.”
“Celebaen, what is it doing?” he asked impatiently.
Celebaen glared at his impatience. “The lower limbs are all dying off. The upper limbs are still green, but they are slowly starting to die also,” she said.
“Have you cut off the lower limbs that are dead or dying?” Edraith asked.
Celebaen rolled her eyes at him. Did he think she was an idiot? “Yes Edraith, I have cut off the dead limbs, but not the ones that are still partially alive,” she said.
“We will have to cut all of the dying ones off also when we get to your home,” Edraith said deep in thought. “What else?”
“I am not going to let you cut off the limbs that are not dead Edraith,” Celebaen stated.
Edraith looked at her as her comment pulled him from his thoughts. “Yes Celebaen you will or you will completely lose the tree,” he said. “The only limbs that can be left on the tree are the healthy ones. The rest must be removed.”
“Edraith if you cut off all the dying limbs, there will not be much of a tree left!” she said sharply.
“Listen brat,” he said angrily, “The limbs that are dying are diseased. If they are not removed, it will spread to the rest of the tree and then there will be no chance of saving it. If you want this tree to live, you will listen to me.”
Celebaen glared at him and then turned away. Tears started forming in her eyes as she thought about her beautiful tree. “There will not be much left Edraith if we have to remove the dying limbs also,” she said quietly trying hard to control the tears. It broke her heart to think of how bare her tree would be once they cut all those limbs off.
Edraith could hear the sorrow in her comment and he walked up behind her. “I am sorry Celebaen, but it must be done if you want any chance of saving the tree.” Edraith placed his hands on her shoulders.
Celebaen turned and looked at him through the mist of tears that had formed in her eyes. “Are you sure Edraith? Is there no other way?” she asked.
“I am sure Celebaen,” he said softly. “Trust me, I will do all I can to save the tree, but you must trust me to do what is right.” Celebaen looked down at the ground and nodded her head. Edraith could see she was upset, and he pulled her into his arms. He gently rubbed her back as tears fell down her face. “I promise I will do all I can Celebaen.”
Celebaen leaned against his chest as he rubbed her back. She realized how tired she was. She had spent weeks working on the tree with no success, and then the journey to find somebody to help had been the last straw. “I have failed my Lord and Lady in caring for our trees,” she said quietly.
“No Celebaen, you have not.” Edraith put a finger under her chin and lifted her face up where he could see her eyes. “It took courage to come find help. I am sure you were not willing to ask for help, but you did it anyway.”
“Only because Lady Gwelwen made me,” Celebaen admitted to him. “Otherwise, I would have stayed in Nuath trying to heal the tree, and I probably would have ended up killing it.”
“Celebaen, this is not your fault,” Edraith said emphatically. “Look at me Celebaen. Sometimes we all need a little help. I will help you and I hope we can save the tree. If we cannot, it is not your fault. Everything must have a beginning and an end, and it may be time for the tree to have its end.” Edraith hugged her closer and rubbed her back. He had not realized how important this one tree was to her, and he suddenly felt terrible in all of the delays he had caused.
“Do you?” Celebaen asked.
Edraith looked down at her confused. “Do I what?” he asked.
“Do you ever need a little help?” she asked quietly.
Edraith tensed up. He had never been confronted with such a question and he found himself thinking about the answer. “I have never thought about Celebaen, but yes, I guess even I could use some help now and then.”
Celebaen wrapped her arms around Edraith as he answered her. “What do you need help with Edraith?” she asked as she looked up at him.
A glint of humor twinkled in his eyes as he said, “Well, I always need help escaping my mother,” he teased.
Celebaen laughed softly. “She does seem to love to fuss at you,” she said.
Edraith laughed. “Yes, she does. Then I suppose I could use some help with a certain brat I have recently met,” he said.
“Why do you need help with her?” she asked grinning up at him.
“I never thought I would meet a she-elf with a temper as bad as my mother, if not worse,” he said teasingly. “I am not sure I know what to do about it.”
“What do you think you should do about it?” she asked pulling back a little so she could see him better.
Edraith looked down where the tears had run down her face. He reached up with a hand and brushed the trail of tears away from her face. He looked into her eyes. “I have my thoughts on that, but I think perhaps the horses have rested enough and we should get to your home.” Edraith let her go and stepped back. He felt the cool breeze move between them as the warmth of her body was removed. Quickly, he turned and walked back to his horse. He should never have held her in his arms he berated himself! What was he thinking? He groaned as he thought of what his mother would be thinking right now if she knew.
Celebaen watched as Edraith returned to his horse and mounted. She wondered what he had meant by his comment. She wondered what his thoughts had been. She quickly walked over and mounted her horse and they again set off for her home. Celebaen continued thinking on Edraith’s words as they rode in silence. She wondered why he had held and comforted her. She was not sure what to do about the feelings and emotions he was stirring in her, but she knew she was walking on dangerous ground. Perhaps it was better to fight with him, than to be friends with him, she thought to herself. At least when they were fighting, she knew where she stood. When she was in his arms, she was confused and at odds with herself. Yes, fighting was most definitely the better way, but how to do it now that she had been held in his arms.
They had ridden the rest of the day in silence. When it started growing dark, Edraith again called a halt.
“Edraith, I do not want to have this battle with you again!” Celebaen said impatiently.
Edraith sighed. Well this would solve his problem, he thought to himself. “Listen brat, you might be able to ride forever and ever, but our horses must rest!” he argued.
“If we ride through the night Edraith, we will be home early tomorrow,” she argued.
“I understand that Celebaen, but I said we are resting!” Edraith pulled his blanket from his horse and tossed it onto the ground. He patted his horse on the neck and handed him another apple.
“I am tired of being bullied by you Edraith!” she said. Celebaen jumped down from her horse and walked over to Edraith. She put her hands on her hips and glared up at him. “What makes you think you can just make all of the decisions and everybody has to obey them?”
“Because I said so,” Edraith said. “Quit being a brat Celebaen and move out of my way. I am tired and I plan to get some rest.” Edraith brushed past her, grabbed his blanket from the ground, and walked around to find a comfortable place to sleep. He finally found a spot that had a lot of grass and he lay his blanket down. He had not noticed that Celebaen followed him.
“You are rude Edraith,” she said in contempt. “You…” she started to say, but Edraith interrupted her.
“Yes brat, I believe I have heard it all before and right now, I do not wish to hear it. Get some rest Celebaen,” he said sighing as he lay down.
Celebaen stood there staring at him. She wanted to yell at him, she wanted to argue with him, but he had brushed her aside. Fine she thought he could try to ignore her if he could. “I believe you told me I could call you a despicable rat anytime I wanted without getting into trouble Edraith! Well you are! You are as despicable as they come!” she yelled at him.
“Shut up Celebaen!” he ground out. “If you were smart, you would just get your blanket and get some rest. Tomorrow we will arrive at your home. I will then help your precious tree and then I will go home. Goodnight Celebaen!” Edraith closed his eyes as he tried to block her out of his mind.
“I see, so you lied did you? It was all right to tell me earlier I could do something, but now it is not all right. I see how you are,” Celebaen knew she was walking on thin ice, but she threw caution to the wind as she continued. “Amazing how things are fine when it suits you, but when it does not…” Celebaen never got a chance to finish her sentence.
Edraith jumped up and took her by the arms. “I have had enough Celebaen! I have warned you that you are pushing and now I am telling you, shut up and go to sleep!” he pushed her back and walked away from the camp. He found a large boulder that he sat down on and wrapped his cloak around him. He rubbed his hands across his face. What was he going to do?
“Please tell me what is wrong, Edraith,” Celebaen said quietly from behind him. “This afternoon we were becoming friends and now, we are acting like enemies again.” Celebaen sighed. She knew she had pushed him to this explosive temper. She had wanted that earlier today to keep some distance between them. Now that it had happened, she was not so sure it was what she wanted after all.
“Go away Celebaen and leave me alone,” Edraith said angrily.
Celebaen reached up and put her hand on his shoulder. She could feel him tense under her hand. “Edraith, I am sorry for arguing with you. You are right; the horses do need to rest. I am just impatient to get home.”
Edraith jerked his shoulder away from her touch. “Go Celebaen! Now!” he ground out. He was having a hard time controlling his temper. He wanted her to go, yet at the same time, he wanted her to stay. The conflict that was raging in him was not making him the best company.
“No Edraith, I am not going until you talk to me,” she said. “I want to know what I have done to make you angry with me.”
Edraith closed his eyes and sighed. “You have not done anything Celebaen. Please go back to the camp,” he said quietly.
Celebaen watched him for a moment. “You will not let anybody care about you, will you?” she asked. “If somebody gets too close, it is time to push them away. Be careful Edraith, someday you may push everybody away so far that you will find yourself all alone.” Celebaen started to return to the camp, but Edraith reacted faster than she thought he would.
Edraith jumped up from the boulder he was sitting on, spun around, and grabbed her by the arms. “I suppose you are trying to convince me that you care about me,” he said angrily. “As I recall, you think I am a despicable rat! I have no manners, remember?” he asked.
Celebaen looked up into his eyes, “I do remember saying that Edraith, and I guess I was right.” Celebaen pulled her arms from his grasp and returned to the camp. She lay down on her blanket and closed her eyes as the tears began to fall. She realized she was starting to care about him. It did not matter though. He would not let anybody into his heart, so she should not even bother.
Edraith had watched her walk back to the camp and he sat back down on the boulder to think. Several hours later, he walked back into camp. He walked to where Celebaen was sleeping on her blanket and knelt down beside her. He could see she had been crying and he felt bad for hurting her. “I am sorry,” he whispered as he gently brushed the tears off her face, “But this is the way it has to be.” He leaned down and gently placed a kiss on her temple and started to get up.
“Why?” Celebaen whispered to him. “Why does it have to be this way Edraith?”
Edraith looked down into her beautiful green eyes. He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed deeply before answering her. “It just does Celebaen, it just does.” Edraith began to stand up when he felt her hand on his arm.
“I am sorry Edraith,” she said quietly. “I do not really think you are a despicable rat you know,” she said smiling up at him.
Edraith grinned down at her. “Do not be so certain of that brat.” Edraith stood up, walked over to his blanket across from her, and lay down. He had wanted to take her in his arms and kiss those tears away, but he knew it was not the thing to do.
Celebaen and Edraith were up before the sun. Neither had slept during the night and both were ready to finish the trip to Nuath. Celebaen smiled briefly at Edraith before nudging her horse into a gallop across the plains. They would reach Nuath in a matter of a few hours. Celebaen did not know how long Edraith would have to stay in Nuath to work on the tree, but she hoped it would not be long.
It was late afternoon when they arrived in the forest. Celebaen rode her horse to her home and jumped down. Edraith followed suit. She removed the saddle from the horse and put her in the small corral next to her house.
“You can put your saddle in my shed and leave your horse in the corral with mine,” she said. Celebaen waited as Edraith unsaddled his horse and turned him loose in the corral with her mare. “If you will bring your bag, I will show you to my house. I have an extra room you can use while you are here.” Celebaen led him into the house. It was small, but it suited her needs. As they walked into the door, there was a small room with a dining table off to one corner. There were a couple of comfortable chairs in front of the fireplace across the room where she usually sat to relax in the evening. Celebaen walked across the room and down a hallway. “This is my room,” she said as she pointed out the first room on the left. She continued walking down the hallway until she reached a door to another room. “You can use this room,” she said as she walked in.
Edraith followed her into the room. “I appreciate it Celebaen,” he said quietly as he set his bag on the bed. “Celebaen, look at me,” he said after setting his bag down. Edraith turned to reach for her. He pulled her into his arms, “I am sorry for yesterday Celebaen,” he said. “I do not know what to do about the way I am beginning to feel about you, and I am afraid it made me a bit angry.”
Celebaen leaned into his embrace. She closed her eyes as she sighed deeply. She loved the feel of his strong arms around her. “How are you beginning to feel about me Edraith?” she asked breathlessly.
Edraith looked down into her beautiful green eyes. He brushed his hand across her check, and then cupping her chin, he leaned down and placed a soft kiss on her lips. Celebaen leaned against him even more when he kissed her. He kiss was brief, but when she looked up at him, he could not bear it and he pulled her tight into his arms and kissed her thoroughly.
“Oh,” Celebaen said when Edraith had lifted his head again. Grinning up at him she said, “I think I have figured out how you are starting to feel about me.” Celebaen wrapped her arms around his neck, reached up and kissed him again. “I am afraid that is how I am beginning to feel about you also,” she said smiling at him.
Edraith could not believe what was happening to him. He had been so determined that this would not happen, but how could he deny what his heart wanted? He pulled her tighter into his embrace and kissed her again.
“Excuse me,” they heard from the doorway. “I did not mean to intrude Celebaen, but I saw you return, and I hoped you brought somebody to help the tree.”
Celebaen blushed as she realized Lady Gwelwen had caught them kissing. “Yes My Lady,” she stammered. “I brought, that is…”
“My name is Edraith, Lady Gwelwen,” Edraith said. “My grandfather is Lord Lathron of Brethil. He has sent me here to help you and Celebaen to save your tree.”
“I am pleased to meet you Edraith. Welcome to Nuath,” Lady Gwelwen said. “I hope your journey was fine.”
Edraith grinned down at Celebaen who blushed again. “Yes My Lady, our trip was interesting,” he said, laughing gently as Celebaen gently punched him in the side.
“Is everything all right Celebaen,” she asked looking at them in confusion.
“Yes My Lady, I do apologize,” she said. “I will take Edraith out to see the tree now.” Celebaen led Edraith out to the other side of the courtyard where the large tree stood.
Edraith stared up at the tree. He had never seen a tree so large. His trees in Brethil were good sized, but this tree had to have been here for ages. He walked around the tree a few times looking it over. He tilted his head back and looked up at the tree.
“Do you think you can help?” Lady Gwelwen asked.
Edraith turned to look at her. “This tree must be hundreds of years old,” he answered in awe. He looked around on the ground and moved some dirt with his foot against the base of the tree, and then looked up at the tree again. “I can see several problems right now.” Edraith turned to Celebaen. “The first problem you and I have already discussed Celebaen. I am sorry, I know you do not want to cut the limbs, but from what I can see, we have no choice.”
Celebaen nodded her understanding. Tears formed in her eyes, but she quickly brushed them away. “I will go get some tools to help cut the limbs,” she said sadly.
“Celebaen,” Edraith said. He reached out and pulled her into his arms. “I am sorry love, but it must be done if we are to save the tree.”
Celebaen leaned into his embrace for a minute and then she looked up at him. “I know Edraith. I will do whatever it takes to save the tree. I will be back in a few minutes.” She leaned up and gave him a brief kiss and then walked away to get the tools they would need. Edraith admired the sway of her hips as she walked across the courtyard to her house. He was lost in his thoughts when Lady Gwelwen interrupted him.
“I would say that you and Celebaen are well on your way to a more serious relationship,” she said to him with a gentle smile.
Edraith blushed a bit. “I am really beginning to care about her My Lady, but I do not know how we will ever work this out. She loves her forest just as much as I love mine. How do we bring the two together?” he asked.
“It is not the forests that need to be brought together Edraith,” Lady Gwelwen said to him, “It is the two hearts that love them so much. I will go find some elves to help haul the limbs away.” Edraith watch as Lady Gwelwen left him. He thought about her words “It is the two hearts that love them so much.”
“I have the tools we need,” he heard Celebaen say as she walked back up to him. “There is a rope ladder on the other side of the tree. We can use it to climb up the tree.”
Edraith followed Celebaen as she climbed up the ladder into the tree. Once he had reached a sturdy limb, he surveyed the community around him. He saw Lady Gwelwen as she gathered some elves to help haul the limbs away as they cut them off. He saw several young elflings playing in the middle of the community and mothers who stood nearby watching their children. Some homes were made in the larger and stronger trees, while others were structures built out of wood similar to Celebaens home. The beauty of the community astounded him. It was a peaceful setting, full of laughter and love. “Your home is beautiful,” he said to Celebaen but she did not answer. He turned around to find she had climbed further up the tree. “Be careful Celebaen,” he called out to her. “Some of these limbs are weak and I would not want you to fall.”
Celebaen grinned down at him. “Edraith, I have climbed through this tree my entire life. I think I can manage today,” she answered as she nimbly leaped from one limb to another.
Edraith climbed up to the limb where she stopped to stare around. “You may have climbed this tree as an elfling brat, but right now some of these limbs are weak. Hand me one of the hatchets and let’s begin to heal this tree shall we?” he said holding his hand out for the tools he would need. “We need to move back down to some of the lower limbs Celebaen and work from the bottom up.” Edraith climbed back down the tree and together he and Celebaen started cutting off the dying limbs. “Make sure you cut the limbs all the way back Celebaen.”
Celebaen wrinkled her nose at him. “I think I know that much Edraith,” she answered sarcastically.
Edraith chuckled. “I am sorry brat. I know you do. Just be careful,” he said and turned back to cutting the dying limbs off the tree.
Celebaen grinned at the concern he had for her. She turned back to the limb she was working on and removed it. She watched as the first limb fell to the ground and then she turned to the next one.
They had been working for several hours when Edraith stood up on the large limb he was sitting on. He surveyed the work that he and Celebaen had done. This was going to take a couple of days, he thought to himself. He wiped an arm across his forehead and looked up the tree at the work they still needed to do. He was hot and without thinking, he hooked his tools in his belt and pulled his shirt over his head. He was used to doing that in Brethil and it never occurred to leave it on. As soon as he removed his shirt, he tossed it to the ground and then grabbed a branch above him. Once he checked its strength, he pulled himself up on the limb. He wrapped his legs around the limb as he sat down on the limb, took the hatchet from his belt, and leaned forward to continue working on the nearest limb.
Celebaen stood up after she finished cutting another limb. She turned around on the limb she was standing on and looked where Edraith was leaning over a limb cutting off another dying limb. She sucked in her breath as she saw the muscles in his back bunch up with the effort he was extending to cut the limb from the tree. Celebaen grabbed hold of the tree and watch him for several minutes. She was fascinated and mesmerized by the strength she could see as he worked meticulously on the tree. How she wanted to go across to him and rub her hands across his skin, but instead, she shook herself out of her musings, climbed up to another large limb, and returned to working on her tree.
A few hours later, she heard Edraith walking up behind her. He sat down on the limb behind her where she was working. Celebaen sat up as he sat down and looked behind her. Her eyes roamed freely over his well-muscled chest as he sat there. Edraith chuckled at the look in her eyes. “Enjoying yourself brat?” he asked teasingly.
Celebaen turned around blushing as Edraith scooted up along the branch until she sat between his legs. He wrapped his arms around her and she leaned her head back on his chest. “It is getting late,” she said. “We can walk over to where the River Ginglith runs into our forest to clean up,” she said leaning her head back to look up at him.
Edraith smiled down at her as he tightened his hold on her. “We will go in a few minutes. Right now I am enjoying holding you captive in my arms,” he said leaning down and kissing the side of her neck. He placed several small kisses along her neck as she laid her head over to the side giving him better access.
Celebaen rubbed her hands along his arms that were around her. She moaned slightly as he started to nibble on her ear. “Enough Edraith,” she said breathlessly. She heard his sigh of disappointment, but he let her go and stood up. He reached his hand out and helped her to stand up. “I will show you the way to the river,” she said as she stood up. Edraith led the way down the tree and waited for Celebaen once he was back on the ground. He picked up his shirt and followed Celebaen as she led him through some of the trees. They walked a short distance into the forest until they reached a pool of water. “This pool is fed by the River Ginglith,” she said nervously. “It runs into our forest, but it does not reach all the way into the forest. This is where it stops. The pool makes a nice place to swim, especially during the summer when it is hotter,” she said trying to think of anything to say. Edraith was standing too close, and he had not put his shirt back on. Celebaen had a hard time keeping her eyes off him.
Edraith reached out for her and pulled her against him. “Celebaen,” he said in his deep voice, “Look at me.” Edraith turned her in his arms so that she was facing him. “What is wrong?”
Celebaen placed her hands on his chest. His skin felt warm to her and she gently brushed her hands across his chest and down the smoothness of his stomach. She felt the muscles in his stomach tense as her hands rubbed the firmness of his body. Years of climbing trees had kept her handsome elf strong and muscular, and she was enjoying the feel of his skin beneath her hands. Celebaen looked up as Edraith groaned softly. His eyes were closed and his breath was coming in small but quick breaths. Edraith opened his eyes and looked down at her. She moved back at the intensity of his look, but Edraith pulled her back into his arms. He reached one hand behind her head as he leaned down and kissed her. Celebaen melted into his embrace with the passion the kiss stirred in her. “Edraith,” she sighed as he ended the kiss. She laid her head on his chest, occasionally placing small kisses on his chest. “Take a swim Edraith,” she said quietly. “I will meet you back at my home when you are finished.”
Edraith tightened his grip on her. “Surely you would like to clean up also Celebaen,” he said in a deep husky voice.
“I think it would probably be better if I wait until you finish,” she said a bit shakily.
“Don’t go Celebaen,” he said. “Stay here with me. We can swim together. I promise to behave myself,” he said grinning down at her. He did not want to let her go and he definitely did not want her to leave him. “Stay Celebaen,” he whispered in her ear as he nibbled gently on her neck.
“Edraith,” she whispered. “I want to stay here,” she said shuddering at the sensations he was causing in her, “But I think it would probably be better if I go back home. I will wait for you there.”
Edraith looked at her in disappointment. Celebaen laid her head on his chest again, wrapped her arms around him, and rubbed his back. How she wanted to stay there in his arms. How she wanted him to continue kissing her, but she knew this was heading to dangerous territory, so she pulled herself out of his arms. “I will be lonely without you,” he said a bit mischievously. “Surely we can both manage to swim in the same pool without too many problems,” he said hopefully.
Celebaen grinned at him, “Edraith we cannot even manage to stand here beside the pool without kissing and touching, what do you think will happen if we both go swimming together?” she asked seriously. “No Edraith, I think I had better head home.”
“I have an idea,” he said before she could leave. “You take a swim first and I will stay right here. When you are finished, then I will take a quick swim. That way we can at least talk to each other, even if I cannot kiss you,” he said with a grin.
Celebaen looked at him doubtfully. She would enjoy a swim after all the work they had done on the tree, but she was not certain of doing it with him in such close proximity. She looked longingly at the pool and back at him. “Do you promise to behave?” she asked skeptically.
Edraith grinned, “I promise to try to behave my beautiful little temptress.”
“Edraith, I am being serious,” she berated.
Edraith pulled her back into his arms. “So am I,” he said huskily. “I will not pretend that I do not want you Celebaen, but I will do my best to keep my hands, and lips,” he said with a grin as he placed another kiss on the side of her neck, “Off of you.” He let her go and pointed to the pool of water. “Go take your swim Celebaen before I change my mind and join you in the pool.”
Celebaen looked at him a little unsure about what to do. She could not deny the passion that was building between them. How much longer would she be able to stand just a few passionate kisses, she asked herself. “Turn around Edraith so that I may get into the pool,” she finally said.
Edraith grinned and was tempted to stand there, but he turned around and sat down on a log near the pool. He could hear her as she quickly slipped from her garments and enter the pool. He closed his eyes and rubbed his hands across his face. He had been foolish to want to stay this close to her when he knew it would be torture. He could hear her splashing around in the pool and he decided conversation might be a good distraction. “You did a great job today on the tree,” he finally said finding the first topic that came to mind.
“Thank you,” she said from the pool. “I enjoyed working with you. We should be able to finish cutting the last of the dying limbs off tomorrow.” She dunked herself under the water and enjoyed the feel of the cool water as it enveloped her. When she resurfaced she asked, “What will we have to do once we finish cutting the limbs?” Celebaen swam to the edge of the pond where there was a container of herbs and plants used to bathe. It was left at the pond for all of the community to use, and she reached in and took out what she would need. She quickly washed her hair and the rest of her body before ducking back under the water to rinse her hair.
“I was thinking about that,” she heard Edraith say as she resurfaced. She laid her head back into the water to finish cleaning her hair as she listened to him. “I noticed that there were very few large roots near the surface of the ground,” he said. “This means that the roots to the tree must have grown deep into the ground. I was thinking the next thing we need to do is free some of the roots so that they can get enough air and water to them. I think with as deep as the roots go, they must not be getting enough water.” Edraith stopped talking for a moment as he contemplated his next move. “We must be careful though to make sure there is enough drainage so that water does not build up against the base of the tree, otherwise it will cause a fungus to grow on the tree and that would create another problem.”
“It sounds like you have really thought this out Edraith,” she said as she pulled herself out of the pool. “I want you to know how much I appreciate your help. I do not think you know how much it means to me that you are helping.” Celebaen finished redressing and then walked over to Edraith and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I am finished,” she said. “There is a jar of herbs and plants over on that flat rock beside the pool that you are welcome to use,” she said as she pointed to the rock.
Edraith stood up and turned around. He laughed as he took in her wet and tangled hair. He picked up a few strands of it and said, “I like your new look.”
Celebaen brushed his hand away. “I did not think about going to the house first and getting everything I would need,” she said with embarrassment. She tried to hide the blush that rose to her checks, but it was not use.
“Why did you not think about that?” he asked roguishly grinning at her blush. “Did something distract you?” He looked at her innocently and Celebaen blushed even more as he stared at her intently. He knew what had distracted her, but he was having fun teasing her. He pulled her into his arms again. “What my little brat does not have anything to say?”
Celebaen hid her face against his chest as he teased her. “I was distracted by you,” she admitted.
Edraith lifted her face up to his. “By me?” he asked innocently. He grinned as she gently punched at him. He leaned his head down holding her gaze for a moment, and then he tightened his hold on her, and placed his lips on hers. He gently nibbled on her lower lip until she wrapped her arms around him and moaned his name. Edraith deepened the kiss while rubbing his hands up and down her back. After a few minutes of enjoying the taste of her, he lifted his head and rested his forehead against hers. “I am beginning to believe I am completely lost,” he said fervently. “What am I going to do about this problem?” he asked her sighing as he held her tightly in his arms.
“Why must you do anything?” she asked quietly. “Give it time Edraith, and we will see where it takes us.” Celebaen reached up with a hand that she brushed along the side of his face. She brushed some of his hair out of his face and ran a finger down to his jaw and across his lips. She traced his lips with her finger and then reached up and kissed him again. “Go take your swim Edraith,” she said. “I will wait here for you to finish.”
“Do you promise to behave yourself?” he teased her.
Celebaen grinned at the twinkle in his eyes. “No, but I promise to try,” she said sweetly.
“You do not have to if you do not want to,” he answered her grinning at the shocked look on her face. “I guess that means I had better go take my swim before you decide to get angry with me,” he laughed. Edraith released her and walked to the edge of the pool. He tossed his shirt in first so that he could wash it while he was bathing, then pulled off his clothing, and climbed into the pool. He sighed as the cool water washed over him. “You were right,” he said. “This was the perfect idea.” Quickly he washed out his shirt and set it up on the rock and then grabbing some of the herbs from the container sitting on the rock, he quickly bathed. When he was finished, he pulled himself out of the pool, dressed, and walked back to where Celebaen was still standing. He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. “I am finished,” he said grinning. He chuckled as she expelled a breath and turned to him.
“It would seem you have gone in for the new look yourself,” she teased. “Come on, let’s get back to the house and we will fix this small problem you and I both seem to have.”
“Darling,” he said seriously, “I do not think we can fix the real problem you and I have right now.” He leaned down and kissed her again, and then releasing her, he walked over and picked up his shirt where he had left it on the rock.
Celebaen felt herself flush with his words. How she was going to endure having him so close to her, yet so far, she did not know. She waited until he returned to her and then she started to walk back to her house. She was surprised when he reached out and took hold of her hand. He placed a kiss on it and then released it to put his arm around her shoulders. They walked back to her home like this in companionable silence. As they reached the house, Edraith let Celebaen go and opened the door. She walked in and went to her room where she got a brush. Walking back out to the front room, she saw Edraith hanging his shirt up to dry. “I will be back,” he said. “I need to go get another shirt.” Edraith walked into his room and pulled his other shirt from his bag. He stared at as he remembered it had not had a chance to dry. Groaning he walked back out to the front room with it in his hand. He looked at Celebaen sheepishly, “I forgot that my other shirt was still damp from Teiglin.”
Celebaen stared at him in surprise when he walked back out. “I had forgotten also,” she said staring at the shirt in his hand and then back at him. “Surely you have another one,” she said hopefully. She was not sure she could handle spending the rest of the evening with him staring at him without a shirt on.
“I am afraid I only brought the two,” he said. “That is fine, I can do without a shirt until morning when that one is dry,” he said.
“Perhaps I could borrow one from one of the other elves,” she said as she stood up from the chair she was sitting in to brush her hair.
“No need to do that Celebaen,” he said. “Really, I will be fine without it.” Edraith walked over to the fire, sat down in the other chair, and watched as Celebaen continued to brush the tangles out of her hair. “Here, let me help you with that,” he offered. Edraith stood up and reached for the brush in her hand. He point to a spot on the floor in front of the fire, “Come sit over here, Celebaen, and I will help you.”
Celebaen had stopped brushing her hair when he offered to help. “I really do know how to brush my hair myself Edraith,” she argued.
Edraith grinned at her as he took the brush from her hand. “I know you do,” he said softly, “But I would like to help. Besides, I also have to work these tangles out of my hair.” Edraith grinned at her hesitation and he offered her his hand. Celebaen took his hand after several moments of contemplation and let him lead her to the fire. She sat down on the floor, wrapped her arms around her legs, and rested her chin on her knees as Edraith began gently brushing her long hair.
Celebaen sighed as she began to relax under his gentle ministrations. “I have to admit, that does feel good,” she said softly.
“I am glad you like it brat,” he said gently. Edraith sat the brush down and pulled her into his arms. “I am certain I have something else you might like also.” Edraith kissed her gently before pulling her further into his lap. He cupped her face in his hand and continued placing kisses along her neck and lips.
Celebaen wrapped her arms around his neck as passion filled her once again. She rubbed her hands along his back and tangled her fingers in his hair. “We still need to brush your hair Edraith,” she said breathlessly as he let go of her lips.
“It will wait,” he answered hoarsely. Celebaen tried to pull out of his arms to stand up “Where are you going?” he asked her between light kisses.
Celebaen leaned back in his arms. “I thought perhaps I should go fix something for our evening meal,” she said.
Edraith looked at her in surprise. “I am kissing you and you are thinking about food,” he said in confusion.
Celebaen giggled at the look of dismay on his face. “I think after all the hard work we did today; we could both use some food.” She tried to stand up again but Edraith would not let her loose.
“I think I will keep you here and nibble on you,” he said as he again began to kiss her neck.
“Edraith,” she moaned. “Please stop,” she said breathlessly. She pulled herself from his arms and stood up. She walked over to the fireplace and leaned against the mantle. “Edraith, this has to slow down some.”
Edraith stood up and walked over to where she leaned against the mantle. “What is wrong Celebaen?” he asked. “Why do you always seem to be pushing me away whenever we start to really get close?”
“I do not mean to Edraith, but everything is happening so fast. I need time to think this through,” she pleaded.
“Time to think what through Celebaen?” he asked starting to get angry. “What is there to think about?”
She turned around to face him. “Edraith, please understand. Please do not be angry,” she said almost desperately. “A lot has happened in the last few weeks and…”
“I quite understand Celebaen,” Edraith said angrily. He turned around and headed for the door.
“Where are you going?” she asked as he started to walk out of the house.
Edraith looked back at her with a scathing look. “I would think it would not matter to you,” he said. Edraith walked out of the house and headed into the forest.
Celebaen watched as he walked away from her and tears formed in her eyes. She sat down in her chair and let the tears fall as misery swept over her. She stood up, picked up her brush from the floor, and walked into her room. She lay down on her bed and cried until she fell asleep.
Celebaen woke up the next morning still tired. She had not slept well and she was feeling it as she got up. After dressing, she went into the front room to look for Edraith, but he was not there. She went back to his room and found the door open. The bed lay as it had the night before with his bag still sitting in the middle of the bed. Where was he, she wondered. She grabbed some fruit from a bowl on the table and walked outside to the courtyard. Just as she was reaching the tree, she saw him walking out of the forest and into the house. He came back out a few minutes later with his shirt on and his tools in his hand.
“Would you like some fruit?” she asked him as he reached her and the tree.
Edraith glared at her. He had stayed the night in the forest to stay away from her. He had decided that if she needed time to think, then she could have all the time there was. “No!” he answered her angrily. “I think I can get what I need on my own Celebaen. I do not need you to do it for me.” Edraith quickly turned from her hurt look and climbed up into the tree. He went back to work on the tree, but stopped for a moment as he saw her head back to her house. He knew he had hurt her, but right then he was too angry to care.
Celebaen struggled to swallow the fruit as she walked back to the house. She set the remaining fruit on the table, grabbed her tools, and walked back out to the tree. She was miserable, but she decided that if he wanted to act like that, then she could be just as stubborn. She ducked her head for a moment as she wiped a few tears from her eyes, and then she climbed up into the tree. She went back to the area she had been working on the evening before when they had stopped for the night. She took a moment to watch Edraith work on the other side of the tree. She wanted the closeness they had shared yesterday, but she did not know how to break through the barrier he had put up between them.
Edraith and Celebaen worked for several hours in silence. By late afternoon, they had finished removing the last of the dying limbs. Celebaen climbed down from the tree and looked up to survey the work they had done. Her beautiful tree looked bare to her now, but she was surprised to see how much foliage remained, especially at the top of the tree.
“The tree looks a lot better than I had expected,” she said as Edraith climbed down.
Edraith looked up at the tree, nodded, and then turned to walk back to the house. He went inside, set down his tools, and then walked into his room. He lay down on the bed for a few minutes thinking. He sat up as Celebaen walked into the door. “Edraith can we talk?” she asked.
“I still have more to do Celebaen,” he answered quickly. He sighed heavily and then stood up. “We need to uncover the main roots to the tree.” Edraith walked by Celebaen and back out into the courtyard.
Celebaen went to her shed and got the tools he would need and then walked out to the courtyard. She handed them to Edraith, and then went back to her home. She could not bear the way he kept ignoring her, so she decided the best thing to do was to stay away from him. She knew she could trust him with her tree, so she sat down in a lounge chair and stared into the cold fireplace. The hours passed quickly, but Celebaen was lost to that realization. She was lost in her world of tormenting thoughts. She wanted to apologize to Edraith, she wanted him to hold her and kiss her. Yet she was afraid of the feelings he stirred in her. What would happen when he was finished with the tree, she wondered to herself. How could they be together? His home was in Brethil, hers in Nuath.
It was late evening when Edraith walked into the house. He saw Celebaen sitting in the chair staring into the fireplace. He went over, lit a fire, and then turned to her. “Celebaen,” he said softly. “Are you alright?”
Celebaen stared at him as if seeing him for the first time. “I am sorry Edraith, what did you say?” she asked a bit confused.
Edraith walked over to where she was sitting and stooped down in front of her. He took one of her hands and held it in his. “I asked if you were alright,” he repeated.
Celebaen stared at him for a few minutes and then asked, “Are you finished with the tree?”
Edraith let go of her hand and stood up. He walked back to the fireplace, leaned onto the mantle, and stared at the fire. “I have finished uncovering the large roots and made sure there was good drainage,” he said. “Now we will have to wait a couple of weeks and see what happens. If this does not take care of the problem, I will have to send for my uncle to help.” Edraith looked at her as she nodded and stared into the fire. “Celebaen…” he started to say.
Celebaen quickly stood up and walked to the kitchen saying, “I will fix you something to eat Edraith. I am sure you are hungry and tired. While I fix a meal why not walk to the pool and clean up.”
Edraith followed her. He reached out when she stopped and pulled her into his arms. “Come with me,” he said softly. He wrapped his arms around her and rubbed his hands up and down her back.
Celebaen leaned into his embrace for a few minutes, enjoying the feel of being in his arms again, but finally she pulled away. “No Edraith,” she said shaking her head. “I am not going to the pool. I might later, but for now, you go.” She quickly turned, walked to her room, and shut the door. She leaned against the door and listened. She heard him walk to her door where he stopped, but finally he moved on to his room, and then walked back out of the house. Once she knew he had left the house, she opened her door and went back to the kitchen. She fixed some food and then sat back down in her lounge chair. The hours went by and Celebaen did not move. Finally, she stood up and went back to her room where she lay down on her bed. She spent the night tossing and turning in her bed unable to get comfortable, and unable to sleep. It was early morning when she finally gave up on sleep and went outside for a walk.
“Good morning,” she heard Lady Gwelwen say to her as she was returning to her home.
“Good morning My Lady,” Celebaen said. “I was looking for Edraith to see if there is anything else we need to do today.”
Lady Gwelwen stared at Celebaen in confusion. “I thought you knew,” she said.
“Knew what My Lady?” Celebaen asked.
“I talked with Edraith last night,” she started to say. “He said there was not much to do for at least two or three weeks, so he was going to his home for now and would return later to check on the tree.” Lady Gwelwen stared at the shocked look on Celebaens’ face. “I am sorry my dear, I thought you knew.”
“No My Lady,” Celebaen whispered. “I did not know.”
“Celebaen, come with me and we will talk,” she said gently leading Celebaen into her home.
Celebaen smiled at Lady Gwelwen and shook her head. “Thank you My Lady,” she said quietly, “I am fine. I really need to be alone right now more than anything else.”
Lady Gwelwen watched as Celebaen walked into her room and shut the door. She could hear the young she-elf crying, but she knew it would not do any good to go to her. So turning around, she walked out of the house quietly shutting the door.
Edraith had ridden home as quickly as possible. He had only stopped long enough to let his horse rest, and then he had continued with his journey home. He thought for sure he could out run the pain that was in his heart, but he was not able to. He only knew he could not stay in Nuath. She was there. Everywhere he turned, something made him think of her, so he ran. It was early evening as two days later he rode into the valley of horses exhausted. He removed his gear from his horse and turned him loose into the pastures. Grabbing his gear, Edraith quickly walked up the path and to his home. He walked into his room, tossed his gear on the floor, and fell onto his bed. Within moments, he was asleep.
Thalion saw his son return and went to the house to talk with him. He was surprised to find Edraith sprawled out on his bed asleep. He wondered what had happened, and why his son had already returned from Nuath, but he decided to ask those questions the next day. For now, he let his son sleep.
“Thalion,” he heard Durelleth say as she walked in.
Thalion put a finger over his lips. Durelleth saw her son asleep and they quietly walked back into the front room.
“What has happened Thalion?” Durelleth asked concerned.
“I do not know love,” he answered her as they sat down at the table. “I came in here to ask him and that was how I found him. We will talk to him tomorrow Durelleth, for now, he obviously needs some sleep.”
“I know dear,” she said confused. “I just wish I knew what happened. He looked exhausted.”
“I know, we will find out in the morning,” Thalion reassured her. “Come on love, let’s go to bed and figure this all out in the morning.”
As Edraith woke up, he realized he had slept late into the morning. He sat up on the edge of his bed and rubbed his eyes with his hands. Sighing, he stood up, pulled some clothes from a chest at the foot of his bed, changed, and then walked into the front room. His parents greeted him as he sat down at the table with them.
“Good morning,” his mother said. “We were surprised to see you home last night.”
“Good morning mother,” Edraith said as he rested his forehead on his hands.
Thalion watched his son closely. “How did everything go in Nuath?” he asked.
“Everything is fine I think,” he said. “I have done as much with the tree as I can for now. I told Lady Gwelwen I would return in two or three weeks to check on the tree again.”
Durelleth and Thalion waited to see if their son would tell them more. When he did not Durelleth asked, “What about Celebaen?”
Edraith tensed up as his mother asked about the one topic he did not wish to discuss. “What about her?” he asked defensively.
“Well, I thought…That is I was certain…” Durelleth could not find the words to say.
“You thought what mother?” Edraith asked angrily staring at his mother. “That you had finally found me a wife? Well you did not, mother!” Edraith stood up and walked out of the house and into the center of the community. He stared around him wondering where to go. He looked at his forest, but he did not want to go there. He looked around his community and realized he did not have anywhere there that he wanted to go either. For the first time in his life, he realized he felt completely lost, and completely alone.
“Why don’t we go for a walk and talk,” he heard his father say behind him.
Edraith turned and stared at his father. Suddenly he felt like a small elfling again looking to his father to fix things. He had not needed that in many years. “I would like that,” he finally said.
Thalion and Edraith started slowly walking along the path through the forest. Neither spoke for the longest time, but finally Thalion asked, “So you want to tell me why you yelled at your mother this morning son?”
Edraith sighed. He knew he should not have yelled at her, but he had suddenly felt trapped, and he was not ready to explain everything to her or even his father. “I am sorry father,” he said. “I promise when I get home, I will apologize to her.”
Thalion nodded his head. “That does not tell me why you yelled at her though,” he said patiently. Edraith did not answer and they continued walking in silence for a while longer. Finally, Thalion stopped. “Edraith, tell me what happened son.”
Edraith looked at his father and then sighing he found a place to sit down. “I am not sure father,” he said. “I thought Celebaen and I were getting close. I thought we had a future together, but every time I would get close, she would push me away,” he said with frustration. “I do not know what to do now father,” Edraith looked up at his father as if he could make everything right again.
Thalion watched as pain, doubt, and confusion filled his sons’ eyes. “Do you love her Edraith?” Thalion asked.
Edraith looked down at the ground and then back at his father. “Yes father, I do,” he said.
“Then may I ask why you are here, instead of in Nuath?” he said.
Edraith looked at his father in confusion. Standing back up, he walked over to a tree and leaned against it with his back to his father. “I may love her father, but she does not love me,” he said. “I thought she did, but it would seem I was wrong.”
“Did she say she did not love you Edraith?” Thalion asked his son.
“She did not have to father,” Edraith said in exasperation. “I told you, every time I tried to get close to her, she would push me away. She does not love me father.”
Thalion sighed. “Edraith, you should tell her you love her,” he said emphatically. “You…”
“Father, have you not listened to a single word I have said?” Edraith asked angrily. “She does not love me. Let it go father. I can take care of myself!” Edraith walked angrily into the forest.
Thalion watched as his son disappeared into the forest. He could not fix this problem. Edraith would have to work this out on his own, he thought to himself. He turned back to the community and walked to his home where he told Durelleth what he had learned.
Edraith had been home for almost a month when his father went looking for him. He found him at the valley of horses where he was brushing his horse. Edraith had spent very little time in the forest since his return home and it concerned Thalion but he was looking for his son for a different reason. “Edraith,” Thalion said as he joined him by his horse, “You told Lady Gwelwen you would return to Nuath.”
Edraith continued to brush his horse. “I know father. I was thinking perhaps Uncle Tauron could go,” Edraith said hopefully. “That way if there is still something wrong with the tree, he could maybe figure out what it is.”
“Edraith, you cannot hide here forever son,” Thalion said calmly. “You made a promise to return, and you will do it.”
Edraith sighed. He knew his father was right, but he did not want to return to Nuath. He did not want to see Celebaen and he knew he would. “Father I do not want to go back,” he said.
“I am sorry Edraith, but you have no choice in the matter,” his father said sternly. “You will get your gear together and you will leave today!”
Edraith stared at his father in surprise. His father had rarely given him orders, but he knew from the tone of his voice, that his father had just done that. Edraith looked at the ground for a moment and then back at his father. “Yes father,” he said, “I will leave shortly.” Edraith walked to his home where he got his gear together, kissed his mother goodbye, and then walked back to the valley of horses. His father had gotten his horse ready for him while he was gone. He put his gear on his horse and mounted up ready to leave.
“Edraith,” Thalion said before his son could leave, “I am sorry to be so harsh with you son, but you must finish what you started.” Thalion watched as his son barely nodded his head at him and then rode out of the valley.
Celebaen was sitting under the large tree when Edraith rode back into Nuath. She jumped up as she saw him put his horse in the corral with her mare.
Edraith turned to the tree after putting his horse in the corral. He stopped as he saw Celebaen. He held his breath as he looked her over. He finally walked over to the tree where she was waiting for him. “I came to see how your tree is doing,” he said in explanation.
“I was beginning to think you were not going to keep your word and return,” she accused. Celebaen crossed her arms and glared at him. “You said two or three weeks Edraith, but it has been almost a month!”
Edraith grinned a little. He had missed her beautiful temper, he realized. “Did you miss me brat?” he asked trying to tease her.
Celebaen glared at him. “No, I did not,” she fumed. “What if something had been wrong with the tree Edraith and you had not come back? What if…” Celebaen never finished her sentence or yelling at him.
Edraith quickly pulled her into his arms and kissed her. “I have missed you and that temper,” he finally said as he lifted his head.
Celebaen had wrapped her arms around his neck when he kissed her, but when he quit kissing her, she pushed him away from her. “You leave here without so much as a goodbye, nice to know you, or anything else Edraith and then you have the nerve to return here and kiss me!” she said yelling. “How dare you! You have no right to do that to me Edraith!” Celebaen ran to her house with tears running down her face and slammed her door.
Edraith watched her in confusion. What was he to do about her? He loved her, but did he dare to risk his heart and tell her, he wondered.
“I am glad to see you return,” Lady Gwelwen said to him.
Edraith turned as she walked up to him. “My Lady, I came back to check on the tree. If you will excuse me, I think I will climb up there and take a look now.” Edraith started to head for the rope ladder when he heard Lady Gwelwen talking to him again.
“The tree is fine now Edraith. Thank you,” she said. “My concern does not lie with the tree. My concern lies with the heart you have broken.”
“What are you talking about Lady Gwelwen?” Edraith asked.
“I am talking about Celebaen. I think you already know that,” she said reproachfully. “I did not know you left here without even telling her you were leaving Edraith. You should be ashamed of your behavior!”
“My Lady, Celebaen does not love me,” Edraith protested.
“I think you should re-examine that,” she said. “Why do you think she is so angry right now? Why do you think she is in her home crying right now?” she asked him. “She loves you Edraith, but you left her.”
Edraith stared at Lady Gwelwen in shock. Could she possibly be right, he asked himself. Hope flared in his heart as the words Lady Gwelwen said sank in. Then he remembered some other words she had told him some time back, “It is not the forests that need to be brought together Edraith, it is the two hearts that love them so much.” Edraith turned for Celebaens home. “Excuse me My Lady,” he said as he walked away, “But I think I need to tell Celebaen how much I love her.” Edraith ran to the house and opened the door. Celebaen was not in the front room so he headed to her room and knocked on the door. “Celebaen, can I talk with you please?” he asked.
“Go away Edraith, I have nothing to say to you,” she said angrily.
Edraith opened the door and walked into the room. “You may not have anything to say to me love, but I have plenty to say to you,” he said. He walked across the room and pulled her off her bed and into his arms. He took her face in his hands and leaned down to kiss her. “I love you,” he said before kissing her.
Celebaen melted with his kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck, sighed, and leaned against him. She had missed holding him, and kissing him. She had missed his strong arms, and gentle touches. Then she froze as his words sank in. She finally managed to put a small amount of distance between them and then asked, “What did you say?”
“I said, I love you,” he repeated. He tried to pull her into his arms again.
“You love me?” she asked. “You love me! How dare you!” Celebaen pulled herself out of his arms. “You run out of here…”
Edraith pulled her back into his arms and started kissing her again. “I love you,” he said again as he lifted his head once more.
Celebaen leaned her head on his chest. She did not want to fight anymore, “Then why did you leave me?” she asked quietly. “How can you expect me to believe you when you left here without even telling me you were leaving? No Edraith, I do not believe you.” Celebaen struggled with the emotions running through her mind. She wanted to believe him, but she was afraid to. She was afraid he would leave again and this time he would not return.
“Celebaen, I am sorry for hurting you,” Edraith said quietly. He held her in his arms and stroked her back. “I was confused by my feelings for you, and I thought you did not love me. Do you love me Celebaen?” he asked and held his breath in anticipation of her answer.
“What does it matter if I do, Edraith?” she asked with tears flowing down her face. “You left me once, how do I know you will not do it again?”
“Answer me Celebaen, do you love me?” he said again.
“Yes Edraith, I love you,” she finally answered him. “You hurt me though when you left. How could you hurt me like that if you love me?” she asked with anger and confusion in her voice.
Edraith grinned down at her. “Because I am a despicable rat, remember?” he asked her as he wiped the tears from her face. “Please forgive me my love. I will spend my life making it up to you if you will give me the chance to,” he said again holding his breath awaiting her answer.
“I love you Edraith, and I am tired of fighting with.” Celebaen wrapped her arms around him and leaned up to kiss him. “Promise me you will never leave me like that again Edraith. I do not think my heart could bear it if you were to leave me again.”
Edraith held her tight in his arms. He closed his eyes and let her words sink into his heart. “I do not know what I did to deserve you brat,” he teased. “But I am grateful to have done it. I promise love, I will never let you go again!” he said kissing the side of her neck.
Edraith grinned as he heard his wife laughing in the forest. They had been married for almost a year and they both loved roaming through the Forest of Brethil. Celebaen had left a message for him with his mother to meet her out in the forest and so Edraith had gone looking for her.
“Celebaen,” he called, “Where are you brat?” He grinned as he heard her laughing again. Suddenly he felt arms slip around him from behind, and he turned to pull his wife into his arms. “What are you doing wife?” he asked laughing with her. He leaned down and placed several gentle kisses on her neck.
“I am not doing anything husband,” she said grinning up at him. “I was wondering though do you think our children will be as stubborn as you?”
“As stubborn as me?” he asked in mock innocence. “I believe it is you with the temper my love,” he said laughing. Edraith picked her up and laid her down under a tree. “I suppose one of these days we will find out, but right now, I have other plans.” Edraith lay down beside his wife as he began to kiss her again.
Celebaen giggled as he nibbled on her neck. She wrapped her arms around him and then whispered in his ear. “I think we shall know sooner than you think my love.”
Edraith stopped kissing her as the words she said sunk in. “Are you telling me we are expecting a child?” he asked excitedly.
Celebaen grinned up at him. “I am guessing this means you are happy,” she said teasing him.
Edraith pulled her tight into his embrace. “I love you brat,” he said gently.
“Do you think we should go home and tell your parents? I know your mother will be especially pleased,” she said.
Edraith looked back to where the community was. “You have not told her yet?” he asked in surprise.
“No my love, I thought I would surprise you first,” she said grinning. She was pleased to know that they knew something before Durelleth and she began to giggle as Edraith returned to kissing her neck.
“I think we will let her wait a little longer love,” he said mischievously. “I would rather keep you and our secret between us for at least a couple more hours.”
Celebaen groaned his name as he kissed her. “I think perhaps you are right my love, what is a couple more hours?”
Their hearts soared together as they kissed each other under the trees they both loved. Edraith looked down at his beautiful wife for a moment. He could not believe that he had found his heart in the trees that he loved so much and that she shared his love for the trees. Leaning his head down, he kissed her again until all thoughts left their minds except for their love for each other.