Sequel to "The Hands of the King" AND "Darkness in Your Heart" Misunderstanding and heartache cause antagonism between Legolas and Elrohir in the years after the War of the Ring.
Categories: Fiction Characters:
Aegnor, Aragorn, Arwen, Elladan, Elrohir, Faramir, Gimli, Legolas, OFC
October 31, 2016 Updated:
July 28, 2017
Those of you in the know will be aware I have two universes I usually write in. Legolas/Elrohir and my Non slash universe which most of the Fellowship stories are set in. This story....hopefully a sequel to both "Darkness" and "Hands" is an amalgamation of both universes together. A Elrohir meets Maewen mishmash!
I think you really need to read "Hands of a King" before this to understand the Legolas/Elrohir interaction that brings us here, and I would recommend reading "Darkness" before this as well but it's probably not as essential—but it will help you understand the nuances that happen between Legolas and Maewen.
1. Chapter 1 by cheekybeak
2. Chapter 2 by cheekybeak
3. Chapter 3 by cheekybeak
4. Chapter 4 by cheekybeak
5. Chapter 5 by cheekybeak
6. Chapter 6 by cheekybeak
7. Chapter 7 by cheekybeak
8. Chapter 8 by cheekybeak
9. Chapter 9 by cheekybeak
10. Chapter 10 by cheekybeak
11. Chapter 11 by cheekybeak
12. Chapter 12 by cheekybeak
13. Chapter 13 by cheekybeak
14. Chapter 14 by cheekybeak
15. Chapter 15 by cheekybeak
16. Chapter 16 by cheekybeak
17. Chapter 17 by cheekybeak
18. Chapter 18 by cheekybeak
19. Chapter 19 by cheekybeak
20. Chapter 20 by cheekybeak
21. Chapter 21 by cheekybeak
22. Chapter 22 by cheekybeak
23. Interlude by cheekybeak
24. Chapter 24 by cheekybeak
25. Chapter 25 by cheekybeak
26. Chapter 26 by cheekybeak
27. Chapter 27 by cheekybeak
28. Chapter 28 by cheekybeak
29. Chapter 29 by cheekybeak
30. Chapter 30 by cheekybeak
31. Chapter 31 by cheekybeak
32. Chapter 32 by cheekybeak
33. Chapter 33 by cheekybeak
34. Chapter 34 by cheekybeak
35. Chapter 35 by cheekybeak
36. Chapter 36 by cheekybeak
37. Chapter 37 by cheekybeak
38. Chapter 38 by cheekybeak
39. Chapter 39 by cheekybeak
Especially for Naledi who begged for Elrohir/Legolas during Hands of the King, and Encarion whose reviews caused me to bring that idea back out of the too hard basket and reexamine it!
Legolas: The Black Gate
What should you do when death stares you in the face? When the odds are no odds at all but a certainty? When the end of your life rises up like a wall before you?
As we stand before the Black Gates—waiting, waiting—I think on this.
I will not see the end of tomorrow. I know that. There is no opportunity for us to survive what awaits us. We are here because of a fragile hope. A hope so unrealistic, so inconceivable it barely exists at all, but what else can we do?
And so we sacrifice ourselves—we throw our lives upon the fire of evil—to save the world.
I am here for my people. For those I left behind, those who fight their own battles far from here. For those I love.
I wish I could be with them. I always imagined if I met my end it would be surrounded by the ones who love me, bathed in their light, sent on my way to the Halls with their tender warmth beneath me.
Instead I stand alone.
There is not a one of them here. I have a dwarf beside me and a Man in front of me. Both of them love me and I love in return, but it is not the same. They are not mine, I cannot feel them, I cannot reach their light. Their fea are deaf to mine and so there is no light entwined with my own.
I face my death and I am lonely: and the sea roars in my ears.
"What do you think on Legolas?" The dwarf's voice sounds beside me, cutting its way through the crashing of the waves. "Why so grim? You look as if it is your own funeral you are planning."
"And is that not how it is?" I ask him, "But then what would be the point, if there is no one left to bury us?"
I think of my Father then. Of what it will do to him to hear of my death—to hear of my death here, in this place of all places. He has been here. He has stood where I stand, has spilled his blood, and the blood of others, on this ground. He lost his father here—my Grandfather. To lose his son here as well seems beyond cruel, but I would have him know I died a good death and thought of him as I did so.
And so I turn to Gimli,
"If you survive please tell my Father he was on my mind. Tell him I love him and that I died well. Tell him I was not afraid and I will meet him on the other side of the sea. Will you travel to the Greenwood for me and tell him that?" It is a lot to ask, for the Greenwood and my people are not comforting to Gimli.
"Enough of this, Legolas! Cease these morbid thoughts for they do not change what lies ahead of us. We will travel to your forest together when this is done, as we have promised."
If that is how he needs to see things. If that is what keeps him able to put one foot in front of the other then I will allow him his misplaced positivity. I know he will take my message to my Father if needs be, now that I have voiced it.
And so I give him a small smile to lighten his heart.
"Forgive me," I say, "The sea whispers temptations in my ears tonight and it is hard to ignore them." It is not a lie. The sea is new to me and on this night it overwhelms me but I am not sorry for it. It is, instead, a welcome distraction from the grimness of our situation and my loneliness, even amongst friends.
"Ah, lad. Do not listen to it, it tells you lies, Legolas."
Gimli does not like the sea.
"Come," he takes my hand then in his own small strong one. "Let us spend some time with Aragorn as a distraction for you. He looks miserable and we should try to cheer him—ease his load, for is that not our job here after all?"
Gimli has been badly at odds with Aragorn for much of our journey here, ever since Helm's Deep and I have been the cause. I am deeply sorry for that. It is good then, to see him now, wishing to help our friend, and so I acquiesce, even though I fear we will not be able to bring any peace to Aragorn this night.
He sits with his brothers and he looks weary, so very burdened, There are a legion of men here under his commmand. Men who look to him with adoring eyes and he leads them to their deaths. It does not sit well with him. It is obvious to me, whatever Gimli wishes, we will have no luck in relieving his burden.
I have come to love him as a brother. Almost as much as the brother I have lost. But I will lose him too—tomorrow. The thought leaves an aching hole inside my soul, for, as long as it might take, I will one day be reunited with my people from home. But Aragorn and Gimli will be lost to me forever. Will this be our last night in each other's company?
I am not used to battles. Oh I have fought, I have fought my whole life long. Skirmishes, confrontations, attacks from the trees, but battles? Organised death with row upon row of soldiers? That I am not used to. I fought one once at Erebor under my Father's command. But aside from that. . . The Hornburg is the only time I have truly experienced it. Pelennor we came upon in the midst of the chaos and it was much more what I am used to.
And so this waiting, this sitting silently as we expect our doom to come and meet us does not sit easily on me. I would far rather the surprise of an unexpected spider nest than this.
"Aragorn!" Gimli is determined not to let us mope. "I have bought you the elf so he can entertain you. You have been far too serious since those dour Dunedain arrived." He is right in that, the Dunedain are dour. Do they ever smile? If they do I have not seen it.
Aragorn lifts his head and give me a glance. His tiredness shows stark in his eyes.
"He does not look as if he wishes to entertain me Gimli," he says. "Still I am glad of your company." I think he is simply glad Gimli speaks to him civilly at all but I do not wish to point that out.
"Ah, the sea has him, Aragorn. It tells him falsehoods of a better life without us. You must set him straight." And Aragorn winces. He blames himself for my sea.
The Sons of Elrond turn to bless me with their scrutiny then. Both suddenly stare and I am uncomfortable under their gaze.
"The sea is bad, Legolas?" It is Elladan who speaks. His voice soft and gentle. He is indeed a healer like his father and he alone truly understands the sea. I wonder if it calls to him too tonight? I should like to know but I must keep his secret to myself.
"It is there," I say casually, "but it is a distraction this evening. I almost welcome it." And I smile in the hope of minimising their worries. Their fear of the sea-longing suffocates me at times. It is what it is, I have it and I must deal with it. The constant concern in their eyes annoys me, and Aragorn agonises over it. I do not want that tonight.
It is then Elrohir leans across to me and lays a hand on my arm. It takes me by surprise for he despises me, I know that. We do not talk unless he throws barely veiled insults my way. We never touch.
"A distraction tonight may be welcome," he says, full of intensity as he always is, "but tomorrow, on the battlefield, it may be fatal. You must not listen to it!"
And I withdraw, I pull away in anger.
"I know that! I am not an imbecile nor a infant. I am a child of the wood and I have fought before...far more than those of you raised in the artificial softness of Imladris!"
But in truth it is not my irritation at his interference that causes me to lash out. It is to cover my confusion, for that touch upon my arm, it burns. Oh how it burns! It lights a fire within me. What is this?
I do not like him and I will not let my body betray me! It must be a symptom of the lonely grief that assails me and nothing more.
"Elrohir is right, Legolas." Elladan peacefully inserts himself between us, as he has done many times before now. "I understand the song of the sea is a comfort tonight but it will wind it's way into your soul and then tomorrow, when you need to, you will not be able to block it out. You must use the techniques I taught you to bury it out of earshot. Just for now."
"Well, I have bought him here for that very purpose!" Gimli cries beside me and I am relieved for it means I do not have to speak. My breath catches in my throat as I am consumed by the idea of that touch.
"Together we must keep him in the here and now and turn his thoughts from their traitorous ways."
At that I scowl.
"You expect me to be cheerful as I sit here in the place which claimed my Grandfather, Gimli?" I cry, voice freed at last, "My family do not fare well here! You forget that."
"Elendil died here also." Aragorn cuts across Gimli before he can reply to me. "I have been thinking about that...and other things."
I know those other things, I know what they will be for we have spoken of it together at length before and I would not have him worrying about that now.
"You are not Isildur!" I say to him. "You are not, Aragorn, and you have proved it."
"I have proved nothing yet."
I am about to argue with that for I do not want him dwelling on the weakness of his ancestor this evening—it will do him no good—when Elrohir reaches towards him and clasps his arm at the elbow so they sit arm to arm, as brothers.
"The woodelf is right," he says in a tone that will not be argued with. "You are not Isildur, and I am not Elrond! Should you stumble Brother, and it is not likely, but should that happen, I will not stand by and let you fall. I will not fail you! I am not my Father's son in this. Trust me to do right by you."
My Father has often raged about what he sees as Elrond's biggest error when he has been at his angriest with the White Council and the Noldor. His failure to ensure the destruction of the ring, his inability to act when he should have, his standing aside when Isildur doomed us with his weakness rankles in my Father's heart so badly. But to hear one of the Son's of Elrond refer to this mistake in the same way shocks me.
Much as I have no love for Elrohir, as I watch Aragorn relax at his words I am pleased he is there to watch my friend's back. He is strong and determined and despite myself I cannot help but admire that.
"It is funny," Aragorn smiles as he replies to his Brother then, "that the four of us should end up here, in this place which caused the downfall and spilled the blood of our ancestors."
"Elrond is not dead yet!" Elladan exclaims and for a moment I fear Aragorn has upset him, but then he smiles, "Though I can understand you forgetting that Estel, for surely sometimes it is hard to tell when trapped in the middle of one of his councils!"
Oh he is right there for surely that Council of Elrond was interminably dull!
And Aragorn laughs. He laughs! Bright, loud and hearty. His brothers laughing with him. It seems I was wrong and Gimli was right. Somehow we have managed to lighten his load after all.
In the early hours of the morning when dawn threatens it emergence I retreat. The waiting has become too much. It weighs me down and crushes me with its insistence on moving time.I cannot sleep and I cannot bear it a moment longer, nor the loneliness that encompasses me.
I find a spot, up a ridge which will probably entrap and defeat us when the battle starts, but for now it provides me shelter, a bolt hole, and some poor excuses for trees. These trees though hurt my heart. I cannot reach them, they do not sing to me. I can see across our assembled force here. I can see my friends and watch over them, but they cannnot see me.
It is here I sit and unwrap my most precious gift, the memory I keep closest to my heart, the one that moves my feet onwards when the light dims, the one I will save above all others.
I open my heart and there is Maewen. Safe where I have enfolded her, the memory of her held close and buried deep for I want to protect her. I do not wish to taint her with so much of a hint of darkness. She is a memory only for my quiet times, away from the chaos I exist in. She is why I go on. She is what I fight for. I will not let her be taken by the dark. I will not let it claim her.
And so, as the sunrise creeps ever closer on the day of my death while I am here alone with mortals I think on her and love her.
Our parting was not a pleasant one. She wished to accompany me to Imladris but she had been injured in Gollum's escape and my Father would not allow it. How she raged at me in frustration but what could I do? I knew it was fear that drove her. Fear for me. I received a letter from her in Imladris, while we waited to depart, in answer to my news of being chosen for the Fellowship. It was not a happy one.
She was angry. Angry with me, angry with the world and terrified she would lose me. I hope, when she hears of my death, she does not dwell on that for I do not. I hope she remembers our love and not the unhappiness between us when I left. I hope she does not blame herself for those words. I understand them, I understand why she said them.
I do not hear the Son of Elrond when he approaches me. I do not sense him, so entangled in memory am I. But when I do see him an anger flashes through me, sharp and brutal. Why is he here? Why does he spoil this, my last time with Maewen? What can he possibly want?
I know he detests me and pours scorn upon me. Can he not just leave me alone.
But he does not. Instead he sits beside me.
"The sunrise nears," he says as if it is quite normal for us to speak when I know it is not. "I wonder if it will be the last one we see?"
That takes me by surprise for is it not exactly what I was thinking myself just a short time before?
"The sun will rise in Valinor surely," I say with a scowl upon my face. I do not need to discuss these things with him.
"If we choose to go there."
I had forgotten, until this very moment, the fact his path to Valinor is not a foregone conclusion. But still, I do not want him here and I resent every moment he takes my thoughts away from Maewen.
"Why are you here, Elrohir?" I ask bitterly, "I know you do not like me. Do I have to spend my last hours listening to your low opinion of me, for I have better things to think of."
He does not look at me, instead he gazes across the men assembled below us and I almost miss his next words.
"You fascinate me."
"What?" I must have misheard him surely.
"I find that you fascinate me. I have never met one like you before."
And I laugh for that is nonsense.
"Have you not been to Lothlorien? There are plenty of my silvan people there."
It is then he turns to look at me.
"I have been, many times. They are not like you."
"Then you need to broaden your horizons Son of Elrond, and come to the Greenwood. I am very ordinary there, I assure you."
"I have not been to Mirkwood, that is true," he sighs, "but I doubt very much you are in any way ordinary there."
And inside me the rage spills over.
"Do not call it that," I hiss it at him for I hate that name they give my home and I will not speak it.
"It is the Greenwood and ever will be. Do not insult my people or my home any longer for I have had enough of it and I have had enough of you!"
He blinks at me in surprise at the viciousness of my words but he does not flinch and nor does he retaliate in kind.
"Forgive me." The words are said quickly. "That was careless on my part, and rude also. I have erred much in my dealing with you and I do regret that."
It is my turn then to be taken aback for I did not expect this. Is that why he is here...to apologise?
"I have promised myself," he goes on, eyes boring in to mine, "that I will not go to my death holding on to regret. I will regret nothing when I stand before Mandos, Nothing! And if I did not follow you here, Legolas and act on this, oh I would regret it bitterly. I needed to take this chance. I need to see what your answer will be."
"My answer to what?" I cannot remember him asking me a question at all.
He reaches out then, fingers brushing across my cheek. There it is again. That touch that ignites me. It sears with fire across my soul, and I know, suddenly what it is he offers.
"Your answer to this. What say you Legolas?"
And his fea dances towards me. It is bright, sharp silver like a sword. Full of danger and excitement. I am lonely, oh so lonely, like a dying man in the desert, so long has it been since I felt an Elven touch such as this. I cannot resist it. I do not want to.
It is not uncommon amongst my people to seek comfort from others in times of despair when the way ahead is dire and those you love are far away. It is different, this physical comfort, from the entwining of fea that love is. Maewen would understand this, she would know it for what it was. A beacon of light to give flight to my wings when life is at it's darkest.
But Elrohir confuses me for the Noldor are not as we are. They bind their love within rules and customs. They cannot separate the physical from the heart. They love once and once only and they may not stray—though we would not even call it straying—I know this, I have been taught it. He should not be able to offer me what he does, a warriors respite, comfort simply for comforts sake.
I remember then Aragorn complaining at length about the way I see his Brothers.
"They are more than just the Noldor you see," he says. "You forget their Mother came from the woods, they have Sindar blood. You judge them to be something they are not."
It is obvious now he is right for Elrohir has taken me by surprise and his offer is entirely Silvan.
I have no more time to think on it then for his hand winds itself through the hair at the nape of my neck. He pulls me forward, breath hot against my cheek.
"What say you, Legolas?"
The fire engulfs me. The sea roars in my ears.
His spirit drowns me.
And I am lost.
The worst part of battle is the noise.
It surrounds me, the cries of dying men, the crack of bones breaking, the thud of sword against flesh. It penetrates the very being of my soul and I dream it for days—weeks—afterwards.
I am in the centre of the nightmare and my friends are the only thing that keeps me sane. I must stay near them, I must!
Gimli fights at my back as he promised he would. I can feel him there behind me, armour pressed against my tunic. The grunt he gives as he swings his axe soothes my soul for it means he is still with me. He swore to me before the Paths of the Dead that he would have my back wherever we went, that whoever came for me had to go through him. He keeps that promise still.
But we have been separated from Aragorn. Pulled apart by a wave of the enemy who isolated him from us despite our best efforts to stay in contact. I fight in desperation to reduce the ground between us but I make little progress and my blood runs cold. I cannot even see him now, dark head amongst the chaos. He has disappeared from view.
Where is he?
Where is he?
Panic at the thought of his tenuous hold on safety without us chokes me. It blocks out all rational thought. I must reach him!
And then it happens.
At first I think it is my own mind, warped by my fear for my friend, twisting the very world around me. The earth turns under my feet nearly throwing me to the ground. It is only my Elven reflexes that keep me upright. Then I hear Gimli's cry of alarm as he falls and I know. . . This is more than just me.
The earth churns and our enemy screams. A unified cry of horror that hurts my ears, piercing me with it shrillness. They scream and they run, disappearing before our eyes as the ground collapses into itself sending them tumbling into an empty pit, an abyss that opens up before us. The roar deafens me.
It is then the mountain erupts. Fire rains upon us, upon them—the fleeing dark. Tongues of red cascade across the ground, hot, hot fire that burns the landscape as it moves. It is worse than Smaug and I never thought there could be worse than that.
I can not comprehend what is happening. It is as if my mind thrashes through mud. None of this makes sense and I wonder again if I imagine it. If I have hit my head and this is an illusion, a dream while I am injured.
A hand falls on my shoulder, firm, strong, real, and I spin in shock.
It is Elrohir.
It is Elrohir and he is alight! His light so bright I think his fea will explode beyond him, and his face is transformed with joy, such utter joy. I have never seen him like this. I have barely even seen him smile. But now. . . Oh, he is so alive.
"They have done it, Legolas!" He cries, "We have done it. We have won! We have won, and Sauron is gone!"
"Gone?" His words swirl around me with a truth I cannot comprehend. "This is the end?"
"The end!" He exclaims, "And you and I have survived to see it."
It is then I remember Aragorn and I turn away, desperately searching the chaos, the dying men, the bloodied field to find him.
"I have lost Aragorn!" The words choke me as I speak them, "We were separated from him and I cannot see him. I cannot find him." He is nowhere I look, death is everywhere but he is nowhere.
"Relax," Elrohir, standing behind me clasps my head between his hands and turns it, gently, gently, in the direction I should be looking. "He is near, he is alive, can you see him now?"
It is a tender gesture, all care and compassion and it is lost to my notice amongst the anxiety that flays my soul. Then I see what he sees, Aragorn on his knees in the mud, on his knees but alive. The wave of relief is so intense I sway on my feet, then I am off. . . Running towards him, dropping to my knees also, in front of him.
"Aragorn—I lost you, I lost you." I touch his face, his hands, for there was a second, a dreadful second I had thought him gone from me. The grief was a vice around my heart.
"What is this?" He mumbles in reply, his weary face is as confused as I have been.
"We have done it." I say, clasping his hand between mine. "Frodo and Sam have done it, the ring is destroyed. Our fragile hope has conquered all!"
And he turns his head towards the mountain where it spews its angry fire.
"Frodo and Sam are in there then." His words sound numb to my ears and they drop like ice upon the light of my fea. I had not even spared the time to think that, but he is right. How can there be any hope for them?
Elladan is there then, in front of us, and Elrohir . . . and Gimli.
"On your feet little Brother," Elladan says, smiling, as he reaches down and hauls Aragorn to his feet beside him. "You have an army to lead here. You are a King!" And I clamber to stand too in the midst of the mud and gore.
They embrace, the brothers. They have waited a long time for this I tell myself—for Aragorn to come in to his own—and truly he has.
I have not heard the sea upon the battlefield. The intensity of Elrohir's light the night before burnt it to a crisp and locked it away behind impenetrable doors in my mind. It has been quiet, quiescent and soft. But now, as I stand beside my friends, all of us alive, and watch the world I know—have always known—seemingly destroy itself around us, bemused and uncomprehending, the doors open and the sea flows out.
It's roar drowns out the sounds of death that surround me. Suddenly I am awash with it. Spray in my face, waves push against me as I stand, and it sings to me. It whispers promises of better things, a different life, no fear, no death, no loss. It reminds me of those who wait on the other side.
"You have played your part, It is over now." it says, "Come with me, come and see them."
How I yearn to go.
The seafoam curls around my ankles, swirling, swirling, and I stagger as it pulls me in. A hand grasps my elbow and holds me steady as I stumble.
"Legolas? Are you well?"
Elrohir's voice echoes through the waves as if he is far, far away and not right beside me. The wind blows his hair, wet from spray so I cannot see his face and I try to reply but my voice is thick and indistinct.
"The sea,"I try to say, "The sea calls to me."
But the sea does not want me speaking with the bright warrior who vanquished it. It is angry with him and it attacks.
"Do not listen to him!" It cries, "He does not know those you have lost, not like we do!"
The crashing waves knock my feet out from under me.
Perhaps it is Elrohir who catches me as I fall.
I awake in the comfort of a tent, soft lamplight flickers upon the walls. It is night and the sea is quiet, smothered in what I now recognise as Elladan's handiwork. Soft Noldor footprints across my mind.
For a moment in time I wonder where I am, what night is this? Then it comes back to me.
"Not so fast, Elf!" A small hand shoots out to grip my sleeve as I sit. "Where do you think you are going?"
It is Gimli, of course it is Gimli.—who else would sit with me in the dark?
"What is going on?" I ask him, "What has happened? Let me go!"
"You are supposed to rest, Legolas. There is no need for you to be up and those are my orders, to keep you in one place."
"I am well!" I shrug off his hand in frustration, "I am well, Gimli."
"And that is why you scare the life out of us all collapsing on the battlefield? Because you are well?" He gives a grunt of dissatisfaction to show he does not believe a word of it.
"It was just the sea-longing, Gimli. It took me by surprise, I did not expect it and it is gone now." It is not gone of course, not at all. It lingers quietly in the back of my mind whispering it's temptations, but I can resist it now easily enough and see it for what it is.
But Gimli will have none of it.
"The sea-longing? I do not believe it to be that simple for a minute, Legolas. And that Elven lord who treated you agrees. Your reaction was not something he recognised. I have had him search every inch of you for injury. I know your predilection for hiding them." He folds his arms, blocking the way out of the tent and scowls at me.
"I am not hiding injury, Gimli!" I throw my arms out wide in frustration. I remember then a conversation we had exactly like this in Helms Deep. That ended with us piled on top of Aragorn most indelicately. I cannot help but laugh.
"This is not funny, Legolas!" Gimli almost stamps his foot like a child. "Have you lost your mind? Do I have to call Aragorn to keep you in line?"
"Aragorn?" The mention of his name brings to mind another picture, that of my friend dazed and confused as he knelt in the mud amongst the injured. "That is another thing, Gimli. I must see him."
"You cannot see him, Legolas. Not now, he is busy." He comes close then and grasps my hands in his. "He is with the hobbits, with Frodo and Sam. The Eagles have returned them to us."
"Frodo and Sam. . . " The words are barely more than a whisper on my breath. How could they have survived that?
"Do they live?" I ask the question but I cannot bear to hear the answer.
It is not Gimli who answers me. The tent flap has been thrown back and the silhouette of Elrohir fills the opening. He is tall and imposing, all Noldor lord tonight and I wonder—how did I ever think him remotely silvan last night?
"They live," he says, "Gandalf is with them, and Elladan, and I have been sent to ensure you are not wandering the campsite."
My recalcitrant soul flares at that for who does he think he is to try and control me? I resist it at the best of times and I will not have a Noldo restrain me so I move towards him as if to leave.
"I am not wandering anywhere, but if I wish to I will. I am going to see Aragorn." and I try to push past him but he grabs me and holds me fast.
"Do not be a fool. Aragorn is sleeping at any rate," He says triumphantly, "so you cannot see him. He, at least, is sensible and takes the rest he needs. I suggest you do the same."
I will not take orders from him.
"Do not think-" I drop my voice low and hiss at him in Sindarin so Gimli will not know what it is we say, "-Do not think whatever passsd between us last night means you have any place to command me. I will not let a Noldo place a chain about my neck!"
And he steps back, while his eye flash briefly with hurt.
"Why would you think I seek to chain you? Why would I wish to douse the flames of that fiery spirit? I want only to help you. You frightened me when you fell."
I am sure I did. I am frightened by that myself, the insistence of the sea, especially since Gimli says Elladan did not understand it, but I do not want Elrohir feeling fear for me. He should not care, it should not bother him. Where is his sneer of disdain?
And so I push back, raising my voice and slipping back into Westron so Gimli can hear it. I do not want anymore secret conversations with Elrohir. He is behaving oddly and I do not like it.
"I am hungry then. It is a long time since I last ate. Will you stop me even from getting sustenance?"
"Of course not!" Finally he snaps back and the unspoken anxiety that twists within me eases at the return of the Elrohir I am used to. "Do not speak to me as if I am completely without care. The dwarf can get you food and I will stay here while he does so."
"His name is Gimli! Address him as such." I want to argue with him and grasp the opportunity to lash out. If he will not treat me as I am used to then I will force him to.
But instead he just sighs and his shoulders slump.
"Gimli," he says quietly, "forgive me if you will. Can you fetch this obstinate creature food?"
But instead of his tone dripping in sarcasm and insult it is said with a strange mixture of affection and care and I step away for I do not recognise him.
I back towards my bed and admit defeat, for what choice do I have. I do not wish this to come to blows and it seems that is what will have to happen before he lets me out of here. I sit myself down as Gimli leaves me with a glare that tells me in no uncertain terms to behave myself, attempting to be as far away from this strange Elrohir as I can. It does not work for he sits next to me.
"Why do you fight so hard against those who would aid you?" He asks. "Why will you not accept help when you need it?"
"I do not need it!" I know I sound like a sulky child but I do not care.
"I think you do" he says quietly and he reaches out placing his hand over mine where it rests on the bed. I want to it pull away, but how can I without causing offence? . . . But then why do I care about hurting his feelings anyway?
He changes the subject then. Perhaps he at least has enough sense to know I will never agree with him.
"Elladan and I plan to go to the Dead Marshes tomorrow, before we depart this place, to pay homage to our people who lie here. Will you accompany us?"
"The Dead Marshes?" I say it in a gasp, before I can stop myself, "My grandfather may lie there."
I wish I could take the words back the instant I utter them and I brace myself for the disdainful comments mention of Oropher always gets from the Noldor.
They do not come. Instead he curls his fingers around my hand slowly, holding it tight. It is almost comforting.
"I know," his voice is serious. "That is why we thought you would wish to come. But perhaps, because you are. . . " he pauses and I can almost see him attempting to choose his words carefully. He has never taken care about how he has spoken to me before.
"Because you are not yourself at present, perhaps it may not be wise?"
"I am myself!" I cry, "Do you think I would let the sea prevent me from paying respects to my people?" I am as indignant as if the idea had been mine all along. It is him who is not himself, not me! He is instead this strange considerate Elrohir who makes me uncomfortable.
"Very well," he pats my hand gently, "you will come with us."
And to my relief then, Gimli is back bearing a plate of steaming food, giving me the chance to pull my hand away, to retreat from Elrohir. I eat as if I am starving although I am not hungry at all. It is but a shield I hide behind as I shut him out.
And so he goes, quietly, without a fuss. He leaves me in Gimli's care and I am glad.
He is not who he should be. We are not as we were.
I do not understand it and it makes me nervous.
I do not think this is wise, Legolas!"
Gimli is at his most annoying, his most smothering today. He does not wish me to go to the Dead Marshes without him but I am adamant.
"This is an Elven thing, Gimli," I sigh, "Much as I love you, you are not an elf."
"You will not even know I am there, lad. I will be as quiet as a mouse. I will merge into the landscape."
But I know Gimli could not be that quiet if he tried, especially when he is riding behind my back. Instead he will moan and complain—under his breath if he is trying to be discrete. It is impossible to forget he is there. Most of the time I would not want to anyway, he gives me strength.
"Let me do this please, my friend, let me do this one thing with my own kind. It is important to me and I must admit I have sorely missed Elven company." I give him my best pleading look then. It always works on my Father. I know he understands this though for he too is missing his dwarven friends.
Still he gives one more attempt at resistance.
"Those Sons of Elrond do not look like good company to me," he huffs. "They barely speak to you Legolas. They do not treat you well, I think they do not like you much, how can I trust they will look after you?"
I laugh then. He is so funny with his concern.
"I do not need looking after, Gimli," I cry. "But Elladan is a healer. He treats me well enough and you know you can trust him."
And Elrohir is just odd, I say to myself. He is not himself at all and I am the only one who notices. Who knows what kind of company he will be?
"I worry about you, lad." Gimli's shoulders slump in defeat and he looks so dejected I almost give in. I know he worries but there is no need. How does he think I survived all my years of fighting without him?
"The war is over, the threat is gone, Gimli." I place a hand upon those shoulders now. "I will be safe. You are best staying here with Aragorn. He needs your strength today more than I do."
"I do not trust those elves," he mumbles low under his breath. "I do not trust them one bit to keep you safe. They have no idea how hard it is keeping a mad Wood-elf in line."
And I laugh, how can I not!
The Noldor are solemn as we leave. Solemn, tense and glaring. It will be a long trip if they keep this up for when I am nervous I am not good at stillness and I think I may well irritate them.
Elladan too questions me before we leave.
"Have you recovered? How is the sea?" He asks quietly but I shrug off his concern. I do not need it and I do not want it.
"All is well," I say, "It is as if it never troubled me." I give him a bright smile to cover the obvious lie and he sighs and rolls his eyes.
"The truth would be more helpful, Legolas," is all he says as he turns to leave and Elrohir watches me silently, his eyes never leaving me. I wish he would stop this.
For once I hope for his insults and his derision, anything but this unnerving quietness.
"Take care." Aragorn reaches a hand up to grab my leg as I sit astride Arod, and he stands beside me. "We do not know there not are still enemy who linger there."
"I am not some cosssted child you need to worry for in a fight, Aragorn." I snap at him for their concern is becoming tedious. "I have been dealing with the enemy since long before you were born."
"Forgive me," he ducks his head so I cannot see his eyes. "But you are not yourself, Legolas and I would not lose you now, not now when we have triumphed. It would be a loss too hard to bear."
"Worry for your brothers then," I reply but my heart softens at the thought my loss would trouble him so. "The Noldor are far more at risk than I would ever be. I will do my best to protect them for you!" I grin down at him hoping for a smile in return but I do not receive one. He is grim and anxious instead and I cannot shift his mood.
It is relief to move away from them all, in the end.
The Peredhel flank me as we ride, one at either side. It is as if they do not trust me, or perhaps they simply think I will collapse from my horse ar any moment.
I say nothing. I am in not the best of moods now, sick of the endless fussing from my friends and anything I do say would likely end up going ill for me I think. It is not as if I have learnt nothing during my growing years in the forest. Many disasters have made me realise when I am irritated it is best to hold my tongue. My thoughts meander instead to my home, my friends, my father. How goes things there? Has the fighting ended yet or does it still continue? Are any of them still alive? I think so, I really do for if Maewen or my Father had left this place for Mandos' halls I would know it, I am sure of it.
"Did you sleep well?" Elrohir has bought himself close, his leg almost touching mine as we ride and he startles me out of my contemplations. My irritation surges anew for why does he care?
"Is it any of your business?" I hiss back at him in frustration. It is the last thing I need, this concern from him. It sets warning bells chiming in my mind and I squirm in discomfort.
"I would have thought so," he whispers quietly and I turn in my seat to give him a stare.
"Well, I tell you it is not. I am sick of all this needless worry about me."
"You should not be so ungrateful for concern from those who love you." He retaliates and I look at him through narrowed eyes. For what does he mean by that? Has he lost his mind?
"Aragorn loves me," I snap back, "but you most certainly do not, so perhaps you could cease it, this hovering." And I turn away, I will not look at him. I push Arod forward to put space between us, and anxiety churns within me as I do so.
He does not follow.
The Dead Marshes, when we reach them, are not at all as I had imagined them. They are worse, far worse. I have fought for years in the shadow of Dol Guldor and the Nazgul. I am not afraid of the dark. But this. . . this place is eerie. Candles light the path before us, leading us in, flickering ghostlike in the mist and I am cold, so cold. As we enter it seems as if everything aches. All my old wounds gathered on the way here. My side, my arm, my leg injured so recently on the Pelennor, every place evil has touched me begins to throb in time with my fast-beating heart.
The Dead are everywhere.
The Noldor leave me, they drift off in search of their own and leave me to locate mine. It is not hard for there are oh so many. Soon it seems only the Dead surround me and the Sons of Elrond I do not sense at all.
I do not know these men who float in the water before me, their faces blank and empty. I do not know them for they died before I was even thought of, but I do know those who loved them, who still love them. I wish I could take them all in my arms and bring them home where they deserve to be. They call out me, 'Come, come and help us, child of our King' If I could only just touch them. . . But I have been warned about the temptation of the Dead and I resist. I will not fall pray to that.
My Grandfather I do not find.
A part of me is relieved for I do not wish to look upon him, dead in the water, though I never knew him, and I do not think I could resist his call. But I should like to have found him, for my Father's sake. To be able to say I had honoured his father and put his soul to rest. Some say these men I see are only visions and not reality. That their fea do not reside here. I hope that is true.
In the end it is too much.
There are so many and they are everywhere. I cannot visit them all. It is an impossibility and the calls from the water ring in my ears, 'Help us! Help us!' They press down upon me until I feel I will sink into the mud itself.
There is no escape from the grief and it suffocates me until I cannot breathe, then I am running. Running to find a way out of this mist and fog and terrible, terrible uncomprehending loss. And all I can see is the faces of my people at home whose loved ones are here....lost, the face of my Father when I tell him that I searched and failed.
I find myself on the edge of the mist, kneeling in the mud, chest heaving as I try to squeeze the air into my uncooperative lungs but the grief weighs down and crushes me into the ground.
Then Elrohir is there.
He kneels in front of me, cupping my face gently between his hands.
"I cannot breathe," I gasp it at him but already the touch of his hands on my face calms me and slowly my heart slows. "It was too much, there are too many!"
"We should have stayed together," he says softly, "I knew it."
Despite myself and my best efforts to regain some kind of composure I feel the tears run down my face and he stretches out a thumb to swiftly, softly brush them away as they fall. Something about that gesture. . . It is too soft, too gentle, too loving. . . And it is as if I can suddenly see when I have not been able to before. The blindfold lifts off my eyes and the truth shines through. I see it in his eyes, in his face, in the way he touches me, in all the small gestures of concern he has shown me since the battle.
He is not what I thought he was. He is no Silvan and it was no Silvan offer he gave me. It was a Noldo one.
And I have hurt him.
I jerk my head back, trying to rid myself of his touch but he will not let me.
"What is wrong?" He murmers, "Let me help you."
But I am horrified. Could I have got this any more wrong?
"I cannot do this Elrohir," I cry, and yet, still we misunderstand each other for he thinks it is the Dead Marshes I speak of.
"You can, Legolas. I will come with you. We will do it together."
"No!" Every word I say makes this worse and I can see no solution that does not hurt even more. "Elrohir, I have someone, at home. . . She waits for me."
And his hands drop away.
My cheeks are left cold without his touch as his hands fall to the ground and his face shuts over. It slams like a door in my face. All the tenderness, all the love he looked at me with is gone, just like that. It has bled itself away in front of my eyes.
"She waits for you?" He repeats my words and his voice is tight and cold. "She waits and yet you treat her badly."
"I do not!" I will not have him disparage me unfairly. "I love her." And he flinches at my ill-chosen words.
"But she slipped your mind the night before the battle. . . How is that loving her?"
"She did not slip my mind, she was all I thought of—when I was left alone to think. You followed me, Elrohir. You came to me!"
"And then you tossed her aside." His words are full of bitter scorn.
"We faced our deaths, we were at the end, I thought it was comfort you offered and only that. She would understand it was no slur against her, no betrayal, for I would never do that. It is my people's way and I thought that was what you wanted—I am sorry—"
He cuts me off before I can even begin to form my apology properly and his eyes flare with rage and hurt.
"Silvans." He spits upon the ground in disgust and I cringe. How can he show such disrespect to my people here so close to the graves of so many. But then why am I surprised. He is a Noldo after all and they are all the same.
"Amoral creatures all of them and I should have known you would be no better. What kind of a son of a King are you?" He stands then and turns to leave me where I sit, in the mud. "But when that King is the son of Oropher—" He continues to spill his anger upon me, "—what did I expect?"
That is too much. I know I have hurt him but I cannot stay silent at that. Not here where my Grandfather fell, and I leap to my feet wih an anger that easily matches his.
"And I should have expected no more from a Noldor," I cry, "Blocks of ice in your ivory towers, binding yourselves tight in rules and disrespecting the rest of us. You are no better than us Elrohir. At least we do not kill our own kin!"
He does not even turn when he says the next, when he flings his angry words back at me.
"Go home, Legolas. Go home to your. . . Love."
And he is off, striding through what is left of the mist and over the marsh.
There is a noise then, behind me, and I turn to see Elladan, arms folded, watching me. Has he seen it all? Does he know of Elrohir and I? It seems he does because the eyes he looks at me with are cold and disapproving and until now he has always been sympathetic towards me, the more reasonable twin.
"Did your Father teach you nothing of the Noldor?" He says, and I bristle at the suggested criticism of my Father. There is nothing guaranteed more to rile me than that.
"He taught me all I need to know, that you think yourselves better than us, that you do not know how to live. That your foolish laws are more important to you than being."
"Then you play games with him for your own amusement and I cannot even use ignorance to excuse you, You are not who I thought you were, Legolas." He turns his back on me and begins to stride after his brother.
"I do not play games!" I cry after him, but he ignores me and jogs away to catch up with Elrohir. I watch them as they go, the mist parting for them as they walk shoulder to shoulder. Strong, imposing and elegant they are as they walk away. Their black hair swaying down their backs as they move.
They walk away together,
and they leave me alone in the mud.
This is a slower chapter—sorry about that, especially to those of you who have not read "Darkness" as this chapter is mainly for those who have, to be able to assess if Maewen has changed at all in the years since then.
Next chapter will be a bit more interesting!
Encarion. . . Meet Maewen. . .
Maewen: Minas Tirith, Fourth Age.
I love watching Legolas.
He sighs and rolls his eyes when he catches me but it does not stop me. He captivates me and I can not look away; for he is beautiful, though he would not wish me to say it.
Today, as we ride through Minas Tirith I am behind him, the narrow streets necessitate it. We cannot ride two abreast. And so I can watch to my hearts delight, the swing of his hair, the golden glints where it catches the light, the straight back, the strong limbs. So beautiful, and I cannot even see his face. It is hard to believe he is still mine.
I almost lost him, foolishly, due to my selfish ignorance. He came back from war a different Legolas and I could not see that beneath the changes he was still there, I could not accept his new friends—they frightened me. I did not want to leave my home to live in strange lands even if I went with him.
But I have grown, have spread my wings and let go of my fear. I can ride through this city of mortals without distrust or anxiety. I have travelled far and wide, beyond the borders of my woods. I have friends who are both Men and dwarven.
And I have done it all because Legolas holds my hand.
He turns back to look at me, his eyes sparkling and mischievous,
"Shall we go straight to Aragorn? Or shall we take some time to see the sights first?"
"Elessar, expects you! You cannot go meandering through the city keeping him waiting, Legolas. The guards at the gates will have sent word we are here." He is in a good mood today, fun-loving, light-hearted, and it makes me smile to see it, but if he wanders into the city to explore it will be hours before I manage to extricate him.
"Ah, you are right," he smiles his brilliant smile at me. The one which makes even the sun seem less than it is. "Aragorn will nag me endlessly if I am late. Being King has made him so tedious!"
He does not mean it of course. The Gondorian King is as a brother to him. Legolas remains here, in Arda, despite the sea-longing just for Elessar, because he cannot bear to part from him.
I used to dislike the King of Men, I used to fear him. I would watch him from the shadows and wish he was not there, not a part of Legolas' life. I would wish Legolas did not love him quite so much for I knew the pain that was bound to bring in the future. I blamed the King for that, for the fact one day Legolas would weep at his death, and I would be the one left to try and put the shattered pieces of him back together.
Legolas has already lost one brother and I know what that has done to him. The thought of him losing another is far too painful to contemplate.
On this day though, Elessar is still young, Legolas is still happy and all that trouble lies ahead of us.
I have seen Elessar's love for Legolas. I have seen the tenacity with which he clings to their friendship. His determination to overcome any obstacles there are between them. I have seen Legolas' devastation when they were sundered and I have watched as Elessar guided him back to wholeness.
I cannot wish for them to be apart any longer. I know how cruel that would be. It is cruel either way, apart or together the future is bleak for them and all I can do for Legolas is to be there when he falls.
Legolas has been distracted lately. His mind often flits from one thing to another, it is how he has always been but this is different. The sea calls to him more loudly these last few weeks and it makes him inattentive and wild. So I have encouraged this journey to Minas Tirith in the hope Elessar will be able to anchor him, will keep his feet on the ground and remind him why he is still here.
It has been too long since we have been here and I know it was the right thing to come when we see the King waiting for us and Legolas is off his horse in a flash, the cobblestones between them disappearing rapidly beneath his long strides.
"Aragorn!" He is effusive in his delight to see his friend and Legolas, when he is delighted, is effervescent. Try as he might he cannot stand still! He dances around Elessar like a wild sprite and the King laughs as he struggles to pin him down to greet him properly.
"What have you been up to Legolas?" He asks smiling as he does so. "It has been so long since you were last here and your letters have been most unreliable."
"I have written!" Legolas is most indignant, "I have written often, Aragorn. You cannot acccuse me of a lack of communication this time."
"You have written, yes, but your letters have been filled with the greenness of the trees, the singing of the birds and the clearness of the skies. Any information on the running of Ithilien I have had to glean from Faramir. . . Or Erynion."
And Legolas tilts his head at that as though he does not understand it although I know full well he does.
"I thought that was important information, Aragorn. Is that not why you have dragged me here? To rejuvenate the forests of Ithilien?"
But those letters are a window into Legolas' soul and though he jokes with Elessar now, what they show us is not good. For he struggles to bring his attention to the here and now. He takes himself to the trees too often, so Erynion must send out people to watch over him and keep him safe. And I know, though Elessar does not say it, that as well as the trees and the birds those letters will also have been filled with the roar of the sea, the smell of salt and the spray on the wind, as Legolas' mind itself is filled with that.
Still, for now they greet each other and are joyful and I breathe a sigh of relief for surely the King can focus Legolas where I cannot. The sea-longing is a mystery to me, Legolas is reluctant to speak to me of it and I am helpless in the face it.
I decide I will leave them alone. Then Elessar can concentrate on reigning in Legolas' wildness and Legolas can be himself, without distraction from me. Once upon a time I was afraid of this city, I could not walk through its streets alone and even the corridors of the palace were intimidating. I am that girl no longer. It is no problem to me to farewell my love, who pretends reluctance at my departure, despite the fact I know he longs for time alone with his friend. It is easy to stroll off on my own. I know where I am, I know the mortal faces who surround me and I know where I am headed; to our room.
We always stay in the same one when we are here and when I arrive it is so familiar it almost feels like home. I never thought anywhere in this city of stone which used to be so alien would be able to capture that feeling of coming home for me—but this room does.
Arwen has been here before me.
I can see it by the little things. Although much time has past since our last visit it does not feel unlived in. The doors to our balcony are thrown open wide and a soft breeze circulates, bringing the world outside within the stone walls. I am glad of that for without it I can feel caged, and Legolas too, especially when he is consumed by this wildness. I wonder then how much of those random, flitting letters Elessar has shared with the Evenstar? Arwen will know what they mean.
She truly has bought the outside in, for the room is filled with greenery. Potted plants in every corner, their green leaves softening the stark grey walls. Ivy winds tendrils through cracks in the stone. Oh, this will give Legolas a bolthole he can retreat to if the tension overwhelms him! Surely the scent of the flowers will drown out the salt of the sea. Arwen has thought of everything and I do not know why I am surprised at that. Of course she has.
And so I sit and wait—outside—on our balcony, gazing over the city beneath me. I like to do this. The people, scurrying like ants along the paths, fascinate me. I hear the boy bringing our bags to leave inside the door but I do not call out to him. I would only intimidate him anyway. The mortals here are still afraid of us. No matter how often we visit they look at us with a mixture of awe and fear. It used to upset me but Legolas accepts it with grace and charm so I have learned to follow his lead. Still I avoid distressing them if I can.
It is probably hours before he returns to me, but it does not seem that long. I let my mind follow the people on their journeys through the streets. I wonder where they go? What do they do? Do they go home to families? Are they shopping? Working? I imagine their stories and time disappears without me knowing it.
But as distracted as I am, the instant Legolas sets foot in the door, I know something is wrong.
When I left him his fea was glowing, a dancing, twisting, joyous light rejoicing at the reunion with Elessar. Now, as he enters, all I can feel is distress. He is chaotic and agitated, a tangle of emotion I struggle to decipher and I wonder. . . What has happened? Legolas and Elessar can sometimes clash. Some days they chafe against each others point of view. But Elessar spoke of those letters, he knows Legolas' state of mind. Surely he will have shown patience when it was needed? And Legolas was so happy to see him . . .
"Maewen?" There is hesitance when he calls my name. A hope I am here alongside a fear I am not. I hear it all.
"I am here!" I reply, "Outside, Legolas."
He smiles when he sees me but it is no longer the radiant beam of before, instead it wavers.
"I am sorry I deserted you." The first thing out of his mouth is an apology. Why is he suddenly so anxious?
"You did not desert me. I chose to leave. I wished to be bored by the company of men no longer!" I try to lighten him, to restore him to the creature he was when we arrived but I am not successful.
He sits beside me then and sighs. A long sad release of breath and now I touch him I can feel turmoil within him even more strongly.
"What is wrong?" There is no point attempting to be tactful with Legolas. Unless I am direct he will never tell me what bothers him.
"Nothing." It is a reflex answer and I glare at him. He knows better than to think he could get away with that. In the end he shrugs and gives up his pretence, rather more rapidly than I expected.
"The Elrondionath are here."
And with those four words I know exactly what is wrong for the Sons of Elrond do not like Legolas.
This is not what I wanted for him. I wanted him to relax here, to be strengthened by the love of his friend, not to face the Noldor's scorn and derision, their utter disdain for him. It is not what he needs. Why do they have to be here now? I would not have bought him had I known.
I do not understand it, whatever it is that lies between the three of them. I do not understand why they think so little of him. Why do they make their dislike so obvious? What is there not to like about Legolas; can they not see his light?
And Legolas, who would normally shrug it off, who is a son of Thranduil through and through, and would hold his head high and ignore others insults cannot do that with them. Why does he let them affect him so badly? Why does he retaliate so aggressively even when I know he does not wish to?
The explanations he gives me when I ask are lacklustre and unspecific. They do not give me the answers I want but I have long ago given up asking.
He sits now, in a huddle, legs drawn to his chest with his arms wrapped around them and unhappiness flows from Him. Concern for him floods through me.
"Have you seen them?"
"No," he shakes his head and I am relieved at that. "But Aragorn says Elrohir is in a foul mood," he sighs, "So that does not bode well for me, if he is like that even before he knows I am here. Perhaps we should go home, Maewen?"
It is so unlike him. He does not run. He stands and fights, and I think it is the sea talking.
"The Peredhel will not scare us off!" I smile as I say it but I do not recieve an answering one. "You came here to see your friend and you will. If they do not like it that is their problem."
But I know it is not as simple as that. And I know, if their presence agrivates his wildness, then I will take him home. We will simply have to visit Elessar again when they have gone.
He leans against me then, his head rests upon my chest and I brush his hair from where it falls across his face. I rub the tension away that has wound itself through his shoulders. I reach for his fea and smooth those ragged edges, undo the knots it has tangled itself into. If only I could reach the sea. If only I could wipe that clean and let him be free.
"I know I have been distracted lately, and difficult, I am sorry, Maewen. I am tired, I am tired of fighting. At the moment it seems running is preferable."
I knew that was how it was with him, that his fleeing to the trees was him runnning from the sea, trying to escape it clutches, but he is failing at that so badly. I have to let Elessar have the time to steady him, time that Legolas so desperately needs.
"Do not apologise for something you cannot control." I place my hand over his firmly for I want him to know that I mean this. "Anyway; Legolas, the boy who could not sit still, the one who ran to the trees, That is the Legolas I fell in love with. Never apologise to me for being that!"
And it is true, Flightly, silvan Legolas who danced and sang, whose mind flitted through paths the rest of us struggled to follow, who lived for the trees, that is the Legolas who first won my heart. Legolas before he lost Laerion and become mired in guilt, Legolas before he wrapped himself in the lives of mortals and was buried with grief, Legolas as he was this morning dancing with joy upon the sight of Elessar. I love him.
And the Elrondionath have come along and ruined it all.
I love Legolas,
but I do not like them.
And there she is. . . For those of you who have not met her before, I hope she is tolerable!
For an understanding of the twins rather flawed relationship with Eldarion have a look at "The Acquisition of Brothers"
Aragorn explains it there.
A banging at the door startles us from our contemplations as we sit in quiet peace and watch the world go by. It is loud, insistent, very, very determined, and it makes me angry.
Days, it has been, since I have held Legolas still in one place so he can rest and we can simply be. When he is consumed with the sea as he is now, his focus lost and drifting, then it is rare I get a chance for us to enjoy being Legolas and Maewen together. This is a precious interlude and now someone disturbs it.
I am furious when I yank open the door until I see who it is that stands there, then my anger is washed away, disappearing into the void as if it never was.
I am faced with a boy. A boy who stares up at me with eager eyes, a wide smile, brown curls, and he is tall, so much taller than when last I saw him.
"Is he here?" He asks breathlessly, jumping from one foot to the other in his eagerness. "Is he here, Maewen?"
How can I stay angry at him? He is just what Legolas needs.
"He is here, Eldarion." I smile as I step aside allowing him in to the room and turn because Legolas is just behind me. I see it then, a flash of grief across Legolas' face. Short, sharp, barely there. The briefest opening to the pain in his soul as he too sees the change in the boy. Every inch Eldarion grows, every new grey hair on Elessar's head, causes Legolas pain as his separation from them looms ever closer.
It is gone almost as soon as it arrives, that grief. The boy does not see it.
Instead Legolas is instantly buried beneath small boy. Those arms, longer now than they were last time, encircle him. The head with its soft brown curls rests in the centre of his chest when it used not to. And Legolas notices that too, I know, as he places a hand softly on top of it to ruffle Eldarion's hair with affection.
"What has happened?" he says jokingly, "You are nearly as tall as me, Eldarion! Have you been drinking Ent juice?"
And Eldarion giggles then in reply for although he turns gangly and mannish, he is still, for now, just a boy.
"I have grown!" he cries, "You have been away forever, Legolas."
"I am sorry. Duty in Ithilien has kept me away." Legolas ducks his head for it is a lie and lying does not sit comfortably with him. But how does he explain the sea-longing to a child?
Eldarion does not notice. Too eager is he to fill Legolas in on his news. His words rush out, tumbling over each other in his enthusiasm to share.
"I have been working with the horse, Legolas. . . You should see me! And with the bow you gave me—I am so much better. . . "
I leave them to it and move away, busying myself with unpacking. Hanging the dresses they insist on me wearing here in the closet. I hate them. I am not one for frills or prettiness and I seldom wear them, but here, it is expected. They know Legolas is a prince and they expect me to be a princess. Even when I am not one.
Looking back over my shoulder my gaze is caught, by the sight of Legolas, his arm round the boy as he smiles, truly smiles. Eldarion has the gift of being able to lift Legolas' burdens from his shoulders. They adore each other.
One day. . . I think, one day perhaps I will see Legolas sitting like that with our own son. Teaching him, guiding him, listening to him. One day, but not now. It is something we do not speak of but I know the time is not right, will never be right while the sea-longing dogs our steps. There is too much weighing Legolas down. He could not be the father he would want to be.
We do not speak of it but perhaps, when we reach the other side of the sea, then he will be ready.
"Oh!" The cry from the boy startles us both as his hands rise to cover his mouth in alarm. "I was supposed to bring you for dinner, Legolas. Mother sent me but I forgot." He leaps to his feet in a panic, "They will have started already. They will think me foolish."
Legolas frowns at that,
"They will not think that, Eldarion. Aragorn knows we have not seen each other for some time. He knows we have much to catch up on."
"Not my Father." Eldarion shakes his head making his curls bounce from side to side. "My Uncles. They are here visiting, Legolas and I want them to think me worthy. I want them to see how I am not a boy any more, I am responsible!"
"Eldarion," Legolas lays a calming hand upon the boy's shoulder. "You are still a boy. A responsible boy, I am sure, but still a boy. Your uncles will not judge you badly for being slightly late."
But the boy rubs at his eyes with his hand and I think for a horrible moment he is about to cry.
"They never see me." He gasps, "I want them to see me. Until I am grown they will take no notice. I think they do not like me, Legolas."
"Of course they like you." Legolas pulls the child into an embrace then holding his head tightly against the comfort of his chest. His voice is soft but I can see his face and that is all grim disapproval.
"How can they not like you, Eldarion?" He whispers into his ear. "And they are proud of you, but they are busy. They have Imladris to run and many responsibilities themselves."
"So do you." Eldarion will not be placated. "You run Ithilien. My Father runs all of Gondor!" He throws his arms wide as he says that, "and he is not too busy. . . " There is a pause as he obviously considers that, "Well, sometimes he is too busy but he can make time to spend with me. My uncles have no time, because they do not want to!"
Legolas is angry now. I can feel it surge towards me like a wall of emotion. If there is one thing you can do to upset Legolas, it is this. He is Eldarion's greatest protector.
But he pushes it down, hides it away and smiles down at the boy.
"Here is what we will do," he grins, pushing the errant curls back behind an ear. "You can blame me. I will say I was not ready, I was distracted by the clouds. They will think I am a foolish silvan and that will be the end of it."
"But you are not. . . " Eldarion stammers his protests through nearly shed tears. "That would be unfair."
"Ah, Even Aragorn says it of me sometimes. Concentration is not my strong point. You have heard him."
"Father does not mean it. He is joking when he says that. My Uncles will think it true."
"I have broad shoulders." Legolas throws an arm around Eldarion's shoulders. He has decided this conversation needs to move on. "Come on, Not so Little One. Lead us on and take us to dinner."
His voice is light and jovial, his manner gives no hint of the anger below. And now we go to eat with the Elrondionath and Legolas is furious with them. It is not ideal.
It is far from ideal.
"Ah, you are here at last," Elessar exclaims heartily as we enter his study. It is a far more cosy place to dine than the formal Dining hall and I know Legolas much prefers it. I wonder if that is why he has had the table placed here tonight?
"We thought you lost."
Between us Eldarion stiffens in anticipation of disapproval.
"My mind ran away on me," Legolas smiles broadly. "I was lost in the clouds. They are different here from Ithilien, did you know that Aragorn?"
"We should have known." It is a disdainful murmur from the Peredhel on my right. Under his breath but still designed to be heard. Elrohir, I think he is, I am still unsure when it comes to telling them apart.
And Eldarion draws in his breath with a gasp.
Legolas pats the boy on the back then, heartily, giving no sign he has heard the bitter words although, of course, he must have.
"If it weren't for Eldarion, I would never have made it here at all," he grins. "very responsible he is Aragorn. A credit to you."
Elessar gives him a strange look. A look that says he sees right through him, that he knows Legolas is talking nonsense but he says nothing and simply waves him to a seat.
"Just as long as you have made it here in the end," he says.
There follows a silence which is unusual. Normally dinners here are filled with chatter, but Legolas pokes at his food aggressively and the Noldor stare at him with serious eyes. You could cut the tension with a knife. Arwen attempts to lighten the atmosphere. She asks me how I am, how goes it in Ithilien, for stories of Faramir and Eowyn and I try to talk as if nothing is wrong but instead I stumble over my words like an idiot. I am distracted by the churning cauldron that is Legolas beside me and what the consequences of that might be.
We are all taken aback when Elladan reaches across the table and touches Legolas' arm.
"How is the sea-longing, Legolas?" He asks. It comes out of nowhere and Legolas jerks back in response.
"It is no problem!" He snaps back angrily, "and even if it were it would be no concern of yours, Elladan."
"We have heard—" Legolas cuts him off before he can even begin.
"I do not care what you have heard!" he spins around to face Elessar. "What have you told them?"
And beside him Eldarion sits, head swivelling between Legolas, his uncles and his father, eyes wide as saucers. It is Arwen who sees him and she intervenes.
"Eldarion, it is late." she says, "Ready yourself for bed, and I will be there soon."
" I have only just finished eating," he protests, "It is not that late Mother."
But Legolas still has his wits about him enough to realise this is about to be not a good place for the boy.
"Go, Eldarion." He is smiling while he says it, "You need your sleep, for tomorrow I will meet you at the training grounds and you can show me your skills with the bow."
"Perhaps I will even beat you this time!" Eldarion is suddenly full of bravado. "Perhaps you can teach me to use your knives!" He has been angling for that for several visits now and Legolas continues to resist him.
"Perhaps," he says now, "But there is no chance of that if you do not obey your mother!"
It is just the carrot needed to get the boy out of the room and the instant he is gone things begin to deteriorate.
"The boy needs to learn the sword, Estel." Elrohir speaks as the door shuts behind Eldarion's retreating back. "Not train in wild silvan fighting styles. What good will that do him in Gondor?"
Before Elessar can even open his mouth to reply Legolas is on the attack. It is the opening he has been waiting for and they didn't see it coming, but I did.
"Oh? And who will teach him that then Elrohir?" He asks bitterly. "You, who cannot spare him the time of day? At least this wild Silvan loves him."
"How dare you?" Elrohir is on his feet now and Legolas rises to meet him. "You suggest I do not?"
"He thinks you do not. What have you taught him, Elrohir? What time have you given him? Nothing!. . . But I am not good enough. My ways are not good enough?"
"Legolas!" Elessar reaches for Legolas' arm and grips it tightly. "Do not do this. This is my problem to deal with and you do not understand."
"I do not understand?" Legolas stares at him in disbelief. "He was in tears before because he believes they think badly of him. I do understand. If this is your problem you should fix it."
"I will!" Elessar says it softly but firmly, "But that is not your job."
Legolas has had enough. He yanks his arm from Elessar's grasp.
"I will seek my own company now I think." He snaps.
I reach up to touch him, to reassure and calm him, but he has already retreated beyond my reach as he backs towards the door. Eyes flashing, he is agitated and wild. For Eldarion is special, Eldarion gives him light, Eldarion is his bridge to Elessar when things between them are strained, the embodiment of all that is good in his friend. Eldarion was hurting and so Legolas hurts with him.
The fact it was the Noldor who were the ones responsible for the hurting makes it so much worse. They have found Legolas' soft spot and he reacts badly.
I know the sea now roars in his ears. I know it must be screaming at him to leave us, suggesting better places far away from us. And he does leave. He backs out of that room and slams the door.
As we sit, the rest of us staring after him in disbelief it is Elladan who speaks.
"So, he answered my question after all," he says, far more calmly than I would have been able to in his position, " I take it, at the moment, the sea-longing must be truly appalling."
And he is not wrong.
The story of Legolas' injured shoulder and Aragorn's accidental poisoning of him can be found in Hands of the King.
"I take it, at the moment, the sea-longing must be truly appalling."
Elladan's words ring out in the stunned silence Legolas' departure leaves behind.
I am torn.
I should go after Legolas. But then, perhaps I should not. He is not a child for all that he is not himself also. He never forgets his responsibilities to his people. He will not leave the city alone, I am sure of that, and he is safe here, is he not?
Perhaps I should leave him to run where he wants and give him space?
I can not make up my mind.
But then Elladan speaks and I am diverted. I will not let the Elrondionath make fun of him in his absence or allow them to use his erratic wildness to excuse their own bad behaviour.
"If you think the sea-longing is responsible for his upset, you are wrong. Everything he said is true. The child was in tears. Eldarion feels you neglect him out of dislike. When he sees the way you treat Legolas do you blame him?"
I have never spoken so much as a word to either of the Sons of Elrond before. We have met, but they ignore me and I am pleased to be ignored, but suddenly I find my voice.
"Of course we care for Eldarion." Elladan's voice when he responds is cold.
"Then perhaps you should find a better way to show that care. A way the boy can see. And perhaps, if you are truly concerned for Legolas' sea-longing you should cease taunting him. He knows he is silvan. He knows you think us beneath you. We have got the message, you can stop repeating it."
"We do not think you, or him, beneath us—"
I am interested to hear what he says, how he justifies their behaviour but Elessar interrupts before he can finish, much to my disappointment.
"We need to speak of the sea-longing, Maewen." Elessar leans forward across the table towards me as he speaks. "Legolas is obviously struggling. Faramir tells me he has been quite fey, impossible to hold still and speak to."
And I am annoyed. Of course I intended to speak with him about Legolas and tell him all that has been going on, but not here.
Not in front of his brothers. And now I will never hear Elladan's justifications. And so I am sulky when I reply.
"Fey is better than miserable," I mumble.
"I am sure it is," Elessar sighs, "but it is still a sign all is not well—"
Elrohir it is who interrupts this time. Do none of them ever wait for anyone to finish their sentences? He is as intense as always as he fixes me with a stare.
"What do you mean . . . Fey? What does he do? Does it happen often, this strangeness?" All these questions, and why does he even care?
I ignore him and turn back to Elessar instead. Elrohir is not worthy of my attention.
"We need to speak on this, yes. I admit he is struggling and we are out of our depth with it this time but he would not be happy with us discussing this in front of your brothers. It is not their business."
Arwen, who sits next to me, lays a hand on mine. To me, at that moment, she feels like a shelter from the storm that is the rest of them.
"Elladan can help him," she says, "if he will only let him."
"Legolas will not allow that!" I cry. Why can they not see this? "He will never accept help from you." I look at Elladan, I stare him down as they do me. "How could he ever know it was genuine? He does not trust you."
But he shakes his head in disagreement.
"He has accepted help from me before. When he first heard the gulls there were only Elrohir and I there who could help him. We were surrounded by battle and death then. Can you imagine what would have become of him if he had been as he is now? And at the Hornburg, even then, when we viewed each other with suspicion, he still allowed me to heal his poisoned wound."
When Legolas first returned from the war I did not want to hear his stories. He was eager to tell them but I turned my head away. It was obvious from the very day he returned that he was changed, completely different and I was angry about that. I was angry for a long time.
So even though we now talk and I encourage him to tell me all that happened to shape the Legolas I now love from the Legolas I used to, there are huge gaps I know nothing about. It is my own fault.
So I am left stunned and breathless when Elladan dumps this information in my lap. I have never thought of Legolas when he heard the gulls on a battlefield. How did
he survive that? If he was as bad as he is now he would have had no chance of survival. Why did he not tell me the Elrondionath helped him then? Why did I not take the time to think it?
As for the Hornburg. I have been there with Legolas. We went to see Gimli, and further on to visit the horselord, Eowyn's brother Eomer. Legolas showed me the walls they defended, the plains below that were filled with the enemy. But he never told me he had been injured or poisoned? I know nothing of that.
All of a sudden I am filled with shame, shame at my negligence, my deliberate lack of care, my stubborn deafness that has meant he has told me nothing.
Elladan does not seem to notice my silence, my astonishment at his words, for he continues talking even as my mind struggles to understand it all.
"If you would encourage him," he says, "If you would suggest it to him, you could get him to see sense. Make him accept my help."
But he does not know how little of Legolas I have taken the time to know. He does not know I have already failed him.
"I doubt he will listen to me on this." I say haltingly. The words choke me as I speak them.
"Oh, Maewen," Arwen says gently, "You do not know how much influence you wield with him."
But it is her who does not know. She does not know my wilful disinterest in the war, my rejection of Legolas as he is now, and although the rift between he and I has healed, she does not know the scars it leaves behind.
Our rooms is in darkness when I return, faint lamplight flickering across the walls, and Legolas is not there.
I sit and wait. It gives me time to think on how badly I have treated him. Looking back I do not recognise the girl I was. I hope she is gone for good, that spiteful, selfish creature, and I wonder how Legolas ever loved her.
He arrives back eventually as I knew he would in the early hours of the morning and he is contrite when he sees me.
"I am sorry, Maewen." He sinks to the bed to sit beside me. "I abandoned you. It was not fair."
"No, it was not fair." I will not mince my words with him, despite my remorse. When Legolas is distracted by the sea roaring in his ears you must be firm with him if you wish him to hear you. I have learnt that from the dwarf who is so blunt, so up front sometimes I half expect Legolas to retaliate with anger. But he does not. Something about the directness of the words reaches his heart as kindness and politeness often does not.
He sighs now and his shoulders slump. He has heard me.
"I could not breathe. Eldarion is just a boy and they hurt him yet they do not see it. And all Aragorn can say is I do not understand!"
I know Eldarion is precious to him and I know why he is so frustrated but this is not his fight and I will tell him so.
"He is just a boy, Legolas but he is not your
boy. You have drawn it to Elessar's attention and he has said he will fix things. You must let him do that. Eldarion is his
son to manage."
"And if he does not?"
! You know he will."
He turns his back to me then and strips his shirt off, pulling it over his head and I pause to look, more closely perhaps than I usually do, at that beautiful back. Are there any scars I have not noticed from injuries he has not told me of? But I am careless for he looks over his shoulder and catches me staring.
"What?" He tilts his head, in that way that is just Legolas, his gaze querying.
"What do you mean, what?" I answer him back with a challenge. I am not going to give myself away.
"You are looking at me. Why?"
"Because I love you. Because you are beautiful to look at." It is all too much and suddenly my guilt and shame breaks any resolve I had not to let him know.
"Elladan wishes to help you." I say it quickly before I can change my mind.
"I do not want any help from him." As I predicted he shuts me down before the conversation has even begun but I press on. Now I have started I will not let this rest easily.
"He says he has helped you before. . . With the sea-longing, on the quest and with . . . other things. "
"I do not want any help which is not given freely." He is, as always, stubborn and resistant.
"I think he does give it freely, Legolas." I fall silent then as I try to think of the best way to phrase my next question.
"He said. . . He said he had healed you of poison. I did not know that."
He looks at me then, askance, and his eyes flit away, to the ceiling, window, anywhere but me.
"You did not want to know." He says in the end.
"But I do now and you have not told me."
"It is nothing, Maewen. A shard poisoned me, a wound in my arm. It took me by surprise and Aragorn could not heal the taint upon my soul. Elladan did when he arrived. That is all there is to tell, truly."
As he speaks he rubs his arm absentmindedly as if the memory of the wound itself troubles him and I do not believe him. I do not think it was that simple.
Suddenly he turns to me, face alight with mischief. Where did that come from?
"I forgot! Aragorn poisoned me himself, by accident when he was trying to heal me. With herbs that were really quite distracting. I could see colours everywhere. You have no idea." He chuckles to himself. "I had quite forgotten that. I must mention it in conversation . . . I wonder if Aragorn remembers?"
He talks nonsense of course. It must be an attempt to distract me, for Elessar is a great healer. One of the Men's greatest and trained by Elrond himself. The idea he would ever poison Legolas is a ludicrous one.
But today I will not allow his flights of fancy to steer me away from what I want to achieve. Instead I lean over and grasp on to that hand that still rubs unconsciously at his shoulder and hold it still. It distresses me to see him do that and know I have deliberately turned my mind from helping him in the past.
"What more have you not told me?" I ask, "Is this all there was?" I begin to massage his shoulders myself then—to unwind all the tension still residing there from his argument with the Noldor, his wild sea-longing and to ease the remembered pain of that old injury.
"It does not matter, Maewen," he leans back into my touch so at least I know it is welcome. "It was long ago."
"It matters to me."
He is silent for a long while then but eventually he speaks.
"I injured my leg on the Pelennor," he says reluctantly, "but that was something of nothing. Aragorn dealt with it. And there was my side in Moria. . . . I think that was the worst."
I can see as I look at him over his shoulder, a cloud pass across his face as he speaks of Moria. It is the one place he never mentions and all I know of his journey there comes from the dwarf. Even when Gimli is talking of it Legolas is uncomfortable. He often ends that conversation. I wonder what is at the heart of that
"But that is all." He turns back to face me shoulders twisting underneath my hands. "That is all,
"I am ashamed," The words spill out as I look upon his beautiful face and its open, earnest expression. "I should have known this. I should have encouraged you to speak of it. I am so sorry. Legolas. I should not have discovered this from a Noldo. I should have known it all along." Sometimes I wonder why he stays with me, when I have treated him thus. Why did he not walk away long ago?
But he raises a hand to stroke my face, gently, softly.
"Do not feel shame, beloved. Not you. You have nothing to be ashamed of."
He is wrong in that.
He does not often reach out to me like this when he is wild. The sea takes all his attention. I used to think our distance was caused by his running so desperately to escape its call that he had no time to stop and see me. But now I do wonder if it is not the sea itself that keeps us apart? Sometimes I do not think it wants me in Legolas' life. It does not want our closeness. I chide myself then for that is just fantasy. How can it be? The sea-longing does not have a mind of its own and I am being ridiculous.
When he does
try to connect though I grasp it with both hands and I do again now. I am filled with a rush of need to free him from this. To lesson our burden and restore us to the way we can
be when the sea is silent.
"Please let Elladan help you, Legolas." I am pleading now. "Please, if only for my sake. I ask it of you."
It is not the right thing to say. He withdraws his touch and shuts me out.
"Do not ask it of me then!" He cries, "For I do not
want to and I have already said so. I thought better of you. Who are you, Maewen to impose your will on me? I would not require things of you that you did not wish!"
I walk softly around Legolas when he is unwell. I have learned to be gentle, to avoid conflict because it always ends ill and gets me nowhere. For weeks I have tiptoed through minefields and tried instead to be there when he slows down enough to need me. But this is one step too far. Perhaps it is my anxiety for his welfare when help seems so close at hand that makes me snap, or that brief glimpse when he touched me, of what could be if he only accepted the help he was offered.
Whatever it is my temper flares.
you!" I toss my head as the anger washes over me. "You would never require things of me that I do not wish? Why am I here then, Legolas and not home in the wood. . . The Green
wood? I did not wish to move to Ithilien and you did
require it of me. I ask only that you accept help from a healer when it is offered. A skilled Healer. It is nothing to ask, so little when compared to things I have done, will still do freely, for you. Do you not care enough for me to even try to rid yourself of the sea for a time so that we can be?"
I expect unreasonable anger in return, I expect him to walk away, storm off as he did with the Noldor but that does not stop my words and to my surprise he does not run. Instead he pulls me closer.
"You are so beautiful when you are angry. Have I told you that?" He has, of course, many times. I know he loves my fire. I should push him off, I should make him listen
to me but this is contact I desperately want so I do not.
Instead I let him tangle his hand through my hair and pull me to him. I let him place lips on mine and drown me. I let him light the fire within that consumes me. I rejoice as his fea twists its way through mine until we are so close I imagine I can almost feel his sea.
It is only after as we lie, a tangle of limbs and sheets and he sleeps in my arms that I realise; he has not answered me. Instead he has so efficiently distracted me.
He has not said he will let Elladan help him.
He has not given any promise to me about the Noldo.
He has not given in at all.
As before, the poisoning incident Aragorn and Legolas discuss is in Hands of the King.
Legolas is in a good mood when he wakes. He is calm and languid, affectionate and loving. He drapes himself over my shoulders as I sit, planting sweet kisses across my neck. I should speak to him again about Elladan. I should follow up my words of the day before to ensure he gets the help he needs—but I do not. It is so delightful, having his attention like this and I do not want to break the spell.
"Come on Maewen!" He exclaims, leaping from the bed. He is light itself today, all enthusiasm and energy. "I promised to meet Eldarion at the training fields and I do not want to leave him waiting. You will come and watch?"
Of course I will watch him. I love observing him with the boy. There are those that call Legolas flighty and distracted, and some of the time they are right. But with Eldarion he is all focus and careful love and I can not help but imagine our future whenever I am watching them.
He bounces on the balls of his feet as we walk the distance to the fields, and he is humming, a sweet song I remember from our childhood. He is happy.
But when we reach the fields Eldarion is not there. Instead it is only Elessar who leans against the fence around the edge as he watches what happens in the middle, and Legolas' bouncing feet slow, his gentle humming misses a beat. His newfound happiness begins to drift away. Happiness is a fleeting, ghostlike thing that he occasionally captures but can never hold on to.
He stops, pausing behind Elessar, jiggling nervously as he speaks.
"Where is Eldarion?"
Elessar has not heard us. He jumps a mile and despite myself that makes me smile. But when he turns to face us he is not upset or annoyed by our stealth as he sometimes might be. Instead he beams, a wide, brilliant, joyous smile.
"You have moved mountains, Legolas!" He exclaims and the both of us stare at him as if he has lost his mind for that was no answer at all to the question.
But he simply laughs at the confusion on our faces.
"Look!" He gestures towards the middle of the field and when I follow with my eyes what I see amazes me.
Eldarion is here after all.
He stands in the middle of the training fields and he holds a sword, awkwardly, clumsily, he makes it look far too big for his gangly boyish body and I wince when I see it.
He is not alone though for with him, behind him, arms encircling him while gently correcting his posture is Elrohir.
"Elrohir!" Legolas gasps the name and turns to Elessar in astonishment. "What is he doing?"
"Teaching Eldarion the sword." Elessar looks almost radiant in his happiness. "He heard
But to my surprise Legolas is not as happy as I would expect him to be.
"Is that wise, Aragorn?" He asks, "Eldarion is not an elfling. His reflexes are slower, he is not as strong. If Elrohir does not make allowances. . . "
"Peace, Legolas." Elessar laughs as he holds up a hand to stop Legolas' words. "Elrohir is well used to training small Mannish boys. He taught me
the sword, and my father! You worry too much."
And so Legolas retreats into silence, but I do not think he is appeased. Beside me, his fea churns with . . . something. He is a cloud of emotion and yet it is not clear to me why. He confuses me.
He jiggles nervously beside me as we watch the boy struggle but my attention is diverted for Elrohir surprises me. He seems thoughtful and supportive. Not at all as impatient as I thought he might be.
"I was reminiscing with Maewen, last night." Legolas, when he speaks out of the blue startles Elessar and I both.
"What?" Elessar turns to him with a frown.
"Reminiscing." There is a grin upon Legolas' face now that spells danger and I wonder if the King of Men realises. "Do you remember the ride to Isengard?"
And as I watch, Elessar turns a strange shade of pale.
"That was long ago, Legolas." He tries to dismiss him with a wave of his hand.
"Yes, well, I know you mortals have problems with your memories so I thought I would remind you. I was telling Maewen all about it last night. Do you have any more of those herbs, Aragorn?" He tilts his head to the side and smiles sweetly, so sweetly he is the picture of all innocence.
And when Elessar turns to me, on his face is a look of horror.
"It was an accident. A miscommunication. I have no idea what he has told you but I intended no harm! Legolas!" He turns back towards my love who is giggling like a child. "What have you been saying?"
I laugh out loud in surprise. I cannot help it.
poison him? I thought he was trying to distract me with nonsense."
"Poison!" Elessar cries, "You know
that is not true, Legolas."
"Well strictly speaking it is,
Aragorn—" Legolas goes to say more but we are interrupted by the arrival of Eldarion. They have taken a break in the middle and he is clamouring to speak with his father. His excitement is contagious, it is a joy to see when compared to the tears of the night before.
"Father! Did you see?" and he smiles up at Elessar, "Elrohir says I am as good as you were when he first taught you!"
And Elessar smiles warmly in return.
"Excellent, Eldarion, You did well for a for a first time."
"Oh, I have not finished! This is only a rest. Elrohir said—" He looks up at his uncle with shining eyes, " Elrohir said we can do more!" He spots Legolas then, standing quietly beside Elessar, watching everything, saying nothing.
"Did you see me Legolas?" He cries.
"Oh, yes." Legolas smiles but it does not reach his eyes, "You did well, Eldarion. I will have to watch myself when I finally teach you to use the knives."
"Elrohir says the sword is better. . . " The words tumble out of Eldarion's mouth and he has no idea they hit Legolas like darts of poison. I do though and I see the look that passes then between Legolas and the Son of Elrond. A challenge. A look filled with fire and antagonism, a look I do not completely understand.
"Well I would disagree." Legolas' voice, when he replies is cool and the words are not directed at Eldarion at all but to Elrohir. "The more weapons you are skilled in the better served you will be in battle."
"I have never seen you
with a sword, Silvan." The way Elrohir spits out the last word like a curse makes me flinch, for Legolas is not the only silvan here. I am one also, more so even than he.
Legolas shows no outward sign the words hit home but I am sure they have.
"You do not know me at all then, Elrohir." He replies, "You know nothing at all."
"I know more than I wish to!" The Noldor is angry, and vicious sparks fly between the two of them but why? There is more to this than meets the eye, an undercurrent, a host of unspoken words. It is not all to do with the boy, of that I am certain.
Still Legolas turns away, ignoring Elrohir pouring instead his focus upon Eldarion.
"Where is your bow?" He asks the boy." I thought we had an appointment to practice?"
And the boy hesitates. His joy and enthusiasm stumble.
"I forgot. . . It is in my room, I meant to bring it Legolas, but Elrohir arrived and said he would teach me and . . ."he trails off hopelessly. "I will go and get it now." But it is obvious he does not want to. He wishes to train with his glorious uncle who gives him so little of his time and not Legolas, who is always there.
"Forget it, Eldarion," Legolas pats the boy lightly on the shoulder as if it is no problem at all but I know that it has hurt him. "We will do it tomorrow."
"Yes, tomorrow, I promise!" The boy is eager in his agreement. Relieved to have been let off the hook. He is all smiles again as he grasps his uncle's arm pulling him back towards the fields.
"Come on Elrohir!"
Legolas watches them go and I reach out to touch him, because I know, despite himself, no matter how much he wanted this attention from the twins for Eldarion last night, no matter how happy it makes Elessar, this hurts.
He stays a matter of seconds only as they head back into the fields and then he turns away towards the palace.
"Legolas," Elessar calls after him. "Will you not stay and watch him? He will want your approval."
"I have other things to do," Legolas throws the words back over his shoulder not even pausing to look at us and beside me Elessar sighs.
So quickly has the good mood of this morning dissipated.
I run after him then. This time I will not let him leave on his own.
"Legolas!" I run to catch up for he strides away with determination and I have to reach to clasp his sleeve and pull him to a stop. "Do not go. Eldarion will want you to stay and watch. Do not punish him with your absence. You wanted
the Noldor to spend time with him. You asked for this from them."
But when he swings around to face me all I see is pain etched upon his face, a devastation that far outweighs this situation.
"He does not spend time with Eldarion." He snaps, "He steals him from me. He does this only to hurt. Did you not see it in his eyes? He takes whatever is precious to me."
It is unreasonable, irrational and Legolas is better than this reaction. It makes no sense. No sense at all.
"Elrohir does not steal Eldarion from you. Why would you say that? Why would he do
that? He could not steal Eldarion from you if he tried."
"You do not understand!"
He is right. I do not. I can see why he is hurt at the child's eagerness to spend time with another, but this? There are no grounds for him to think this at all.
"Come back and watch him, Legolas." I soften my voice and brush my fingers across his cheek, perhaps gentleness will calm him?
But it is a hopeless task. He will not allow himself to be calmed.
"I will not watch," he says, "I will not allow Elrohir the satisfaction."
And he turns on his heels and strides away.
I have no choice but to return to Elessar who stands and watches. To do anything else would be odd and Legolas is behaving oddly enough for both of us.
Elessar is grim faced where he stands, watching Legolas' back disappear down the path and I feel I owe him some explaination though I do not understand it myself.
"He was looking forward to shooting with Eldarion ," I say lamely. It is not enough but what else can I say?
The King sighs heavily then.
"I have thought often about separating them." he says as he leans back against the fence, turning his attention back to his son and brother out in the centre. "About not encouraging Legolas' relationship with Eldarion. Perhaps it would be better if I kept them apart."
"You do not mean that!" His words horrify me. He would end Legolas' friendship with Eldarion?
"For his sake." His words are so soft and grief-filled I can barely hear them. "What is Eldarion but another for him to lose? Have I not burdened him with enough grief? Is it not selfish for me to want him close to my son as well?"
It makes sense then, what he says and perhaps he is right. Perhaps not knowing Eldarion would be better for Legolas?
But Eldarion gives Legolas joy and light, he lifts him when the world is a burden.
I can no longer imagine him without the love of the boy.
"Perhaps it is selfish," I answer Elessar, "But Legolas needs him. You cannot keep them apart now."
"I know," he says sadly, "I know. No matter where I turn, no matter what I try to do for Legolas, I always harm him."
He is right, he does.
It seems it is the way of the world.
No matter what we do,
He does this, he has always done it. It is worse with the sea-longing but even in his childhood days he would take to the trees when things upset him. He says they soothe him. He tells me the trees sing him lullabies to ease his soul. Even I, as a silvan, have a hard time understanding that. Always Legolas has been special with his connection to the land.
How he manages to find trees to hide in amongst all this stone I do not know, but he does, for I cannot find him and he is still within the city walls. His horse still sits in the stables.
I know. I checked.
He returns in time for dinner, quiet and subdued.
Mealtime is filled with Eldarion's chatter. His excitement at a day spent with his uncle cannot be contained. And with every word the boy says Legolas' shoulders slump further, his head drops lower. He does not eat.
At last he stops pretending, dropping his fork with a clunk on to his plate and I take the opportunity to entwine my fingers through his, if only to let him know I am here, I am on his side. I know he is miserable, it may not make sense to me, but I will try to ease his unhappiness nonetheless.
"Where were you today, Legolas?" It is Arwen in the end who has the courage to address him. She is fearless.
He lifts his head at her voice, as if surprised she speaks to him.
"I went to see Gimli's walls."
So he has not run to the trees at all, no wonder I could not find him. He has fled to the stone, to the dwarf's favourite place. I should have thought of that.
"The walls?" Even Elessar thinks it odd it seems.
"He asked me to assess them for him." Legolas picks up his fork again and prods his food resentfully. "He worries your people may not be maintaining them as they should. I told you I had other things to do!"
"Should I be insulted he thinks my stonemasons so lacking he employs an elf look after them?" Aragorn laughs and I can see his point. Legolas is not the most obvious to chose to care for stone.
"They cannot listen to it!" Legolas bites back. He is not in the mood for teasing. "I can hear it's song. . . An echo of it anyway. Gimli has shown me."
"You think you are a dwarf now?" Elrohir snorts in amusement. "Is there nothing you Silvans cannot do?"
"I told you this morning you know nothing about me, Elrohir," Legolas' reply is defeated and lacks the usual fire he throws at the Noldo. I do not know if I should be relieved he resists the temptation to fight or saddened he is so dejected.
As it is Elessar steps in between them.
"Gimli has taught you to listen to stone?" He asks. "I did not know that was even possible. The two of you never fail to surprise me."
It brings a smile to Legolas' face, one that is very welcome to see. He always loves to talk about the dwarf.
"Well I am not as good as he, obviously," he replies, tossing his head as he grins back at his friend. "But he insisted. I would far rather listen to their tales of people from the past, but he makes me listen for echos of a song that is a faint as a whisper. He tells me he will not have me falling victim to a landslide because I am deaf as a post to the stone!"
Elessar too smiles then.
"And my walls? How do they sound today?"
"They are well," Legolas is as animated as he has been all meal, discussing this. It is so strange the influence the dwarf has over him. "Well enough to satisfy a woodelf any way. Gimli would no doubt find faults and worry himself over them, but to my ears I think your walls are quite safe."
Eldarion is paying no notice to this discussion of walls and stone. To him it is simply a boring diversion from his main focus. His uncle.
It is heartwarming to see his eyes shine after the tears and misery of the day before. I wish Legolas could see that in his heart. I wish he could see the good this is doing the boy and celebrate that instead of allowing this strange jealousy and paranoia to cloud his mind. It is so unlike my usual open, loving, accepting, Legolas and I do not for the life of me know what causes it for surely he is wrong. Surely the Noldor does not do this out of spite. Even he could not be that bitter to play games with a child's affections.
In the end Eldarion interrupts his Father's boring conversation, he can withhold his excitement no longer.
"Elrohir says he will take me riding tomorrow!"
It is a cry of joy.
But Legolas' head swings round to stare and Elessar, seeing that, is disapproving.
"I believe you promised to practice the bow with Legolas tomorrow, Eldarion."
So Elessar is aware of the undercurrents that swirl here then. I should not be surprised. He is always astute and watchful.
The boy crumples slightly under his father's sternness.
"But Elrohir will not be here long, Father!" He protests, "I can practice with Legolas anytime." I can understand his reasoning. The Noldor has offered him scraps of attention and he will grab them with both hands for fear they will disappear never to be seen again.
I can feel Legolas' hurt wash over me. He loves the boy, he dislikes the Noldo and he takes this as a personal rejection. Still he will not lash out at a child.
"Go riding if you like, Eldarion." He says softly, and then, when Elessar makes noises that suggest he will lay down the law to his son, he stands and raises a hand.
"I will not have you force him to be with me Aragorn," he says. "Let him be with who he chooses."
He turns to leave, though we have not even finished eating, and when I reach out to stop him my hand is shrugged away. My comfort is not welcome tonight. I can only sit and watch him go.
We all of us stare in silence as the door shuts firmly behind him.
"Does it upset him?" Elrohir breaks the silence leaning across the table towards me, voice low, "Me being with the boy?"
My first reaction is to snap at him. What does he want from me? Assurance his spitefulness hits its mark?
But when I look closely all I can see on his face is confusion—perhaps even concern. There is no anger or bitterness there, no exhilaration at a point scored. So against my better judgement I answer politely. Perhaps it is just an act to make me think well of him but for some reason I do not think so.
"Of course it upsets him. He thinks you do it deliberately."
"And I do," he says with a frown, "because he asked me to."
"He asked you to but—" I cannot complete my sentance. I get no chance to explain Legolas' wild conviction the Noldor seeks to hurt him, or ask why that may be, for the boy, confused by the tension amongst the adults around him, interrupts.
"I will train with Legolas tomorrow, Maewen, if he wants it. I did not know it was that important. It was just. . ."
He trails off miserably but I know what he wants to say. It was just, his uncle he adores from afar shines a light upon him and he basks in it. It was just a chance to feel loved by one he previously thought has not loved him. And I know, if he was calm and sensible and more himself, Legolas would wish Eldarion to have this chance.
"Go with your uncle." I say firmly. "That is what Legolas wants you to do, Eldarion. Go with Elrohir and enjoy it!"
And the bright excited smile that greets me convinces me more than ever it was the right thing to say.
As I walk down the corridor back to our room I am greeted by raised voices, bitter words in Sindarin spill across the hall towards me.
"You are a fool, Legolas!"
It is Elladan and he is as irate as I have ever heard him. The anger in his voice makes me pause in my steps.
"Take my help when it is offered to you. There is no need for you to suffer as you do, you know this! Why are you so obstinate?"
"Why are you so deaf to me, Elladan?" Legolas cries in return. "I have told you I do not want help from one reluctant to give it. I have my pride. I will not come crawling, begging to you for scraps, I can do this on my own!"
The Noldor's voice if possible, increases even further in volume and I find myself grateful the large majority of Elessar's people do not know our language, for they can all hear this.
"My help is freely given and you are too stubborn to see that."
"I do not forget when you left me in the mud of the marshes, Elladan. I am not what you thought I was. . . Do you not remember?"
I catch my breath. What does he mean, Elladan left him in the marshes? What goes on between Legolas and these twins that I do not know? For it is becoming obvious something does.
"Legolas!" There follows the sound of a struggle. If Elladan attempts to lay hands on Legolas when he is angry he is misguided to say the least.
"Listen to me!" The Noldor cries, " I want to help. I know what it is like for you. There are only the two of us here who suffer this. Only the two of us who understand it. You must not refuse me."
My heart thuds in my ears and I am frozen where I stand for this cannot be true. I am leaping to conclusions. . . I have overheard half a conversation and misunderstood. That has to be it, for it cannot be.
Elladan has the sealonging?
"Be quiet!" Legolas hisses then, voice low but I can still hear him, "You idiot. Do you want the world to know you yearn for the other side of the sea? Arwen and Elrohir? Do you want them to hear you?"
And I realise it must be true. It is true and Elladan's siblings do not know.
I have had problems with Legolas after eavesdropping on him before. That time was deliberate and this, this is hardly my fault for they were shouting loud enough to raise the dead, still I hesitate. I should let them know I am here, that I have heard them. But he seems volatile and irrational and I am afraid of what his reaction to my presence here may be. So I do not continue on my way towards our room and interrupt them. I stand still.
It is a mistake I will live to regret.
"I have never said I would not help you, Legolas."
Elladan has dropped his voice low so I must strain now to hear—why, why do I not walk away? Why do I feel compelled to stay here and listen to things not meant for my ears? So Elladan has the sealonging—what business is that of mine?
"You made your distaste of me quite clear." Legolas' words are stained with a bitterness that does not suit him.
"Angry words spoken in haste. You will judge me for all eternity because of them? I do not deserve that. You hurt my brother. You played games with his affections. You used him and tossed him aside cruelly. What reaction did you expect from me?"
I should go. I should leave now. I do not want to hear this! And yet my feet do not move. They are rooted to the floor in shock.
"I do not play games."
Legolas does not deny it, why does he not scream and yell at how wrong the Noldo has things?
"He offered me a warriors comfort, that is all. We thought we waited for our deaths that night and did not wish to wait alone. It had nothing to do with his affections, nothing!"
Really, Legolas? Really? Because suddenly it is all crystal clear to me. Elrohir's caustic tongue and unreasonable anger; Legolas' defensiveness. My niggling feeling there was more happening between them. All this—nothing to do with affection? I do not believe him.
"You are either blind or a fool, Legolas."
I have to agree with Elladan's angry words.
"My brother is Noldor," he continues, " You knew that. You know what that means. . .what this whole thing meant to him. You knew it! And yet you continued. And what of Maewen? Did you not even think of her?"
What of Maewen, indeed? I think to myself. What of me? A chasm opens up and swallows my life as I knew it, whole.
I do not even want to know what Legolas replies to that. I do not want to hear it. It can only be bad. I do not want to hear from his lips he had no thought for me.
And so I do what I should have done at the first. Before it was too late, too late to repair things. Why did I listen? Why? Why?
And so, before he speaks; I turn and run.
The eavesdropping incident Maewen refers to can be found in "Darkness"
At a time when she and Legolas were a bit of a mess. (to put it lightly) she deliberately listened to a conversation between him and Gimli. Needless to say it did not go down well.
For those of you who have read "Darkness" there is a Big reveal from Maewen in this chapter. Would love to know what you think or if anyone saw it coming. For those of you who haven't read it....well it should still be informative.
I am Silvan.
Sometimes, when I am entwined within Legolas' world of mortals I almost forget that. I feel my Silvanness, my wildness, sucked from me.
I know they judge us. They. . . And the Noldor . . . And the Sindar also. They all judge us, and they all find us lacking. We are uncivilised, wild, untamed and chaotic; immoral. And so I hide myself. I bury my soul deep and tuck away my true self from their eyes. I struggle to be what they expect of the Lady of Ithilien. Poised, composed, gentle, immaculate. . . Like Arwen.
But that is not me and it is not my heart.
I think on this when I run from Legolas' words.
I copy him and take to the foliage, to Arwens garden—an oasis of green amongst the stone of Minas Tirith. I hide there in the arms of the trees, whose song sings in harmony with mine and think upon my Silvanness.
The Noldor and Sindar love once and once only. So we believe, and from what I have seen it is true. We laugh at that for it seems so restricting, so suffocating, so pointless. Silvan hearts run far and wide. We love many, and we love deeply. How can you love only one? Even if they are the one who can reach into your heart and make your soul sing? For no one. . . No one can touch every single part of you. No one can do that!
And so we have our One. We do! We have our mate with whom we are complete, whose fea twists and turns with our own into a glorious togetherness. We have that. But we also have others, to reach the random parts of us our soulmate cannot. To help keep us whole.
I am Silvan and that is how I love.
But Legolas is Sindar.
It was my father who saw it first when I, myself was blind to it. He was not happy when he heard of our relationship.
"This will not work," he raged, "You will not do this!"
And I could not understand his objections.
"He is the Prince, Father," I cried. "How can you not be happy for me?"
"He is Sindar and you are not. The differences are too great. Your love will not survive it."
I thought him mad. I thought him over-protective and told him so, for Legolas was our Silvan prince. He loved the land, he ran through the trees, he was wild, free and chaotic. He was no Sindar.
And even if he had been. . . Our queen was Silvan, married to our Sindar King and their love worked. Little did I know they had their problems, problems which eventually forced her across the sea.
So I ignored my father in my youthful self-righteousness. I called him ignorant, prejudiced, and disregarded his advice.
But he was right.
At first Legolas and I loved lightly and freely. We both had others. But as time passed, as our love grew from a passing joy to a desperate need, although at first I did not notice, Legolas' time with others began to wane. More and more he was with me and me alone, until finally he sought no one else.
When I commented he would only shrug his shoulders and smile.
"I need no one but you." He said, "I want no one but you. None of them are the same. There is only you for me. Only you light my fire now."
Still I was young and foolish enough not to realise what that truly meant.
Legolas is wild and untamed and I love him for it. His head is in the trees. His mind flits from place to place and he needs an anchor to hold him still. He always has.
I love the fact one of his anchors is me.
I love being the one to help him quiet his joyful mind, to steer him through his storms, to be the rock upon which he stands. All that. . . Being all that, it gives me joy.
And sometimes, not often now but still when we can, we are wild together. We run through the trees and laugh, and cry, and be. I love that most of all.
Because I am wild too. . . And I am Silvan.
And sometimes I am so occupied being Legolas' quiet place I cannot be my own self. It is then I yearn for my own soft, sweet, calm one. The one who sets me free in my wildness. Legolas lights my fire. My Other soothed the burning.
Do not get me wrong, Legolas will comfort me, he will hold me, he will be tranquil and loving, he will be my sanctuary but still there is a deep and wild Silvan place in my heart he cannot reach and never will.
My Other is quiet. He is sensible and thoughtful. He winds in the worst of my selfish energy and gives me cause to think. And I do love him.
Not as I love Legolas, never that.
We loved with our own soft, gentle, love. He knew Legolas was my heart. He is Silvan, and he did not mind it.
He did not mind it. . . But Legolas did.
The sudden jealousy, the resentment, the mistrust, took me by surprise when it emerged. Suddenly Legolas and I were at each other's throats. Suddenly, every moment I spent with someone else he poured scorn upon. It consumed our love, burnt it to a crisp and I did not understand. I am Silvan, this is how we are. Why could Legolas not see he was the sun around which my heart circled but I still needed quiet calm to steady me? Why did he not understand this soft love was not the same as his bright, blazing one, that it was no threat?
But he could not. As much as I explained and argued, as much as I struggled to find a compromise, he could not understand and he hurt.
My father was right.
Legolas is our Silvan prince. Our prince of the land and the trees. Our wild one.
But Legolas' heart loves like a Sindar. One and one only.
So in the end I gave up my Other. They were friends, he and Legolas, close friends—the best of friends. Legolas needed him and I came between them. So when the jealousy spilled over and their friendship began to shatter in front of me I did the only thing I could. I let my other love go.
And I miss him. I still see him, I am still with him but he is a love no longer.
I do not regret my choice, I will be as Sindar as Legolas needs me to be and it has not destroyed our love. My Father was wrong in that.
Or was he?
Legolas told Elladan Elrohir offered him a warriors comfort. That does not bother me. It is common amongst my people, I, myself have done this, deep in the south when all was dark and the night had no end, before Legolas and after. He has told me of his despair before the Black Gates. How he thought it was his end. I would not have had him face that alone with no other fea to hold him.
But he did not tell me.
Legolas' heart loves like a Sindar.
One and one only.
If it was as he said, a comfort between desperate warriors, why do I not know? I realise at first I made it hard for him to confess. I did not wish to hear anything. But that has changed and he has had ample chances. How many times have I wondered aloud at what causes the twins dislike of him, and yet he still lets me wonder.
Why not tell me unless it was something to be kept secret? Why not tell me unless it was more?
Because Legolas' heart loves like a Sindar. One and one only and there so definately is more.
Every clash of words, every shower of sparks between him and Noldor rush back into my mind. Every moment I have wondered what lay between them. Every fierce look and bitter word. Elladan is right. Legolas is a fool if he cannot see there is affection here...more than affection. He is a fool. . .or perhaps he just does not want to see. But in his heart he must know.
But Legolas' heart loves like a Sindar. One and one only.
And perhaps that one is no longer me.
I need to know. I need to find him and confess, to challenge him with this and discover who it is he truly loves. I need to know if I have pushed too far, been too resentful, and lost his love.
But I have been here before in this position, knowing something I had no right to hear. It is a betrayal of trust and he will see it as that. Any chance I have he still loves me will be gone when I tell him this. He was angry with me the last time I listened where I should not have. This time he will be furious. No more second chances.
And I do not have the courage to face that.
I should walk back to our room and tell him my discovery.
But I do not.
It is dark when I do return, every step reluctant, but he is still up. Sitting, waiting in the flickering candlelight he looks tired and he is agitated. He has been worried.
"Where have you been? It is late!"The words rush out anxiously the minute I open the door and I lie.
"I went for a walk only," I say airily, "To the trees in Arwens garden. I am Silvan, remember Legolas. Sometimes I just need to sit under the stars."
But he is not fooled.
"Why did you not take me with you then?" He asks with a frown.
"You were busy."
It is a silly thing to say if I do not wish to be discovered for how would I know what he has been up to? But my mind wallows in pain and misery and I cannot think. Sure enough he sees right through that excuse.
"No." He says, "What made you think that? I have been here all evening waiting."
"The servants were gossiping, apparently your arguments with Elladan were heard all over the palace. I did not wish to intervene." I sit heavily upon the bed. Can this not just be over? Can he not just let this be? "You should accept his help Legolas, please."
It is a good distraction as it happens, mentioning Elladan for he reacts with vigour. He has not seen sense yet then, obviously.
"I have my pride. I will not go crawling to him asking for favours from the Noldor!"
It is too much, sitting here next to him, wondering if I still hold his heart in mine. It is too much telling untruths and covering my tracks with deception. How have we come to this? I am drowning in an ocean of sadness and of course he feels it.
"What is wrong?" he asks, and he sits behind me, encircling me with his arms, resting his head upon my shoulder so I can feel his breath warm in my ear. "You are unhappy dearest. What is it."
I cannot bear it. His closeness, his touch, what feels like love but may not be, and my heart breaks for I love him. Unto the end of the world I will love him. He is my all, he is my heart.
Then my cheeks are wet with tears, I cannot hold them back a moment longer. They stream down my face and he feels them, wet against his own cheek as it rests beside mine.
"Maewen!" He pulls me back in alarm and spins me around so I look him in the eyes. "What is this? Stop Maewen!" He wipes at my tears but still they flow. I so rarely cry in front of him. I so rarely cry at all.
Of course he misunderstands my misery.
"I did not know " he cries, "I did not know this was hurting you so badly. I will ask Elladan for help, I promise. If it upsets you so much I will take it. Tomorrow I swear, I will go to him. I did not mean to cause you this pain!"
And he pulls me to him and holds me tight against his chest so my tears soak his tunic.
"It is alright," he whispers, "It is alright."
But it is not.
His fea is a churning mass of anxiety and tension that buffets me. There is no peace in his arms tonight. Will there ever be again?
How I long for my quiet refuge, the one I have walked away from. My calm away from the bright, exhilarating love that is Legolas. . .
How I miss Erynion.
He would tell me what to do.
Slightly boring chapter I'm afraid, in which Aragorn says some things that need to be said....and Legolas is difficult.
The world is grey when I wake. Grey stone, grey sky, because my life without Legolas is grey.
He is still in my life of course but it feels as if he is gone even though he hovers around me, loving and attentive. Far more so than he has recently been. My tears of the night before have frightened him, I think.
"What shall we do today?" He asks as he sits opposite me, evaluating my state of mind. His head is tilted to one side as he always does when he is mulling something over. It is such a purely Legolas way to look and I love it. Today it just reminds me of all I may have lost and my eyes fill again with tears unbidden. It is as if something inside me is broken and I cannot stop them. I have changed from a warrior into the kind of woman I most despise, fragile and emotional. This is not me and I wish I could stop it.
And Legolas sees those tears even though they do not fall. How could he not?
He reaches out a hand to stroke my cheek, gently, softly, full of love.
"I think you need looking after," he says.
And even through my sadness I scoff at that.
"I do not!" I toss my head in defiance.
But he clasps my hands between his own and holds them tight. His touch is soft and warm and I remember when we always used to touch, far more than we do now. When he could not let me go. Now. . . Now he is too distracted and it is hard to even get him to see me. Although, I think, perhaps he sees me today.
"You do," He insists. "And I have been remiss. I could blame the sea, but perhaps it is my own fault as well. I have let you do too much and not repaid you. I have taken you for granted."
"You do not have to repay me for what I do for you." The last thing I want is for him to feel in my debt and obligated.
"I know that." He drops his head low towards me so he whispers in my ear, strokes my hair aside and places a kiss upon my neck, his lips so soft; and despite myself I shiver.
"You are tired, and you look after me too well," he says then. "Today, I think it is my turn to look after you. Today will be all about Maewen."
And he leans back so he can see my face before taking it in his hands so his warmth surrounds me.
"You are beautiful, and I love you, and I would never be without you. Let me care for you."
It is what I want to hear but still, I doubt.
"Why did he not tell you of Elrohir?" the voice in my head whispers, "Why did he hide it from you? Tell him, tell him what you know and find out the truth."
And I am about to. It is on the tip of my tongue to confess my misdemeanour from the night before because I can not go on not knowing when there is a knock on the door.
Legolas sighs as he stands, gently pressing a kiss on my forehead as he does so.
"I will send them away," he says, "No distractions today."
And I cannot decide if I want him to or not.
It is difficult to see who it is at the door when Legolas strolls through our drawing room to open it, but I can hear their conversation.
"Aragorn, it is not a good time." Legolas is blunt and to the point as he can be when he is simply not interested.
"I need to speak with you. It will not take long, but it is important, Legolas"
"If it is important it will wait."
I will not have them arguing with me at the centre of it so reluctantly I pull myself to my feet and go to join them. Legolas guards the door, arm across it preventing Elessar entry and he swings around when he hears my footsteps.
"Aragorn is just leaving!" He says pointedly and the King sighs impatiently,
"I promise you this will not be a lengthy visit, Legolas."
"Are we under attack?" Legolas replies scornfully. "Has someone raided the treasury? Is one of your family members ill? . . . No? Then it is not too important not to wait until later."
"It is alright," I touch him gently on the arm. "I will go and eat with Arwen. You can meet me there when the two of you have finished talking."
But he looks at me with concern, a frown upon his face and brushes my hair from where it falls across my eyes.
"No. I do not want you taking second place today." He turns then back to Aragorn, eyes flashing with a challenge. "If listening is what it takes to get you to leave us be then Maewen will stay and listen also."
Elessar raises his eyebrows at that. Legolas has surprised him and I cannot help but smile. Legolas is never exactly how you expect him and I love him for it. But the King is up for the challenge. If Legolas thought that would scare him off he is mistaken.
"Very well." He pushes past the arm blocking him from the room and strolls in helping himself to a chair while Legolas stands, scowling at his back. Elessar is completely unperturbed.
Eventually, realising he has no other choice, Legolas reluctantly sits opposite, and I join them, feeling very uncomfortable. I have never been present at any of Legolas and Elessar's formal talks, if that is what this is. Whenever they have business to discuss I steer well clear. It seems an intrusion to do otherwise.
Elessar gets straight to the point, leaning forward in his chair to engage Legolas' full attention.
"I need to speak with you about Elrohir."
And Legolas is instantly tense, agitated, almost on his feet ready to run and the look he gives me. . . One of panic, tears at my heart. What is he afraid of?
"I do not need to waste any time speaking of him!" He cries.
"You do.You need to hear this Legolas." Elessar reaches across and grasps his wrist firmly. He means business that much is clear. He will make Legolas listen to what he has to say.
"Elrohir and Eldarion. I will speak to you of them."
And before my eyes Legolas relaxes. Eldarion is not a frightening subject then. Did he think Elessar wished to speak to him of Elrohir and love?
"What is there to speak of?" He says as he leans back in his chair, arms folded. "They are riding today. That is what Eldarion wishes."
"I wish to explain my brother to you." I notice Elessar has not relaxed, he still sits forward, intense and focused. "You do not understand him."
"Ha!" Legolas exclaims mockingly at that, "I understand more than I need to of him. It is he who does not understand me!"
"Perhaps that is true," the King of Men sighs, "and perhaps another day I will sit him down and explain you to him. But today you will listen to me. Tell me Legolas," finally he leans back in his chair, "How many years is it you have truly spent time with mortals, How long is it you have involved yourself with us?"
"You know the answer to that! Is that the only reason why you disturb us, Aragorn? To ask me questions you already know the answer to?"
But Elessar simply folds his arms and waits. I am in awe of his handling of Legolas' many attempts at diversion. He sidesteps all of them with ease.
And after a drawn out silence it is Legolas who caves,
"Since the quest, which you very well know. Before that it was only trading with the Lakemen as my father's emissary... or do you count that?" He may have given in but his words are dropping in sarcasm.
"So. . . A handful of years at best by by elvish reckoning." Elessar takes a deep breath before he says the rest; I think it pains him.
"Elrohir has ridden with the Dunedain for centuries. All that time he has watched over the heirs of Isildur. Watched over them and loved them. I told you yesterday he taught me the sword, and so he did. And he taught my Father, and my Grandfather, and my Great Grandfather—do I need to go on Legolas? Do you get my point? For he has lost them all. You know the pain of living with the knowledge you will lose us. He has lived it, many times over, and he is tired. Eldarion is one too many. That is why he—and Elladan—stand back, seem aloof, they have suffered too much loss. They cannot bear any more."
Legolas is silent. He does not even meet Elessar's eyes, staring instead, at a spot on the wall behind him. As far as I can tell his mind could be as much lost in the sea as in contemplation of his friends words.
But Elessar will not let him stay silent and grasps his hand again as if to shake him free.
"Do you hear what I am saying Legolas!"
"I hear it!" Legolas pulls his hand free from the touch angrily. "I hear what you are saying. I am not a child."
"And do you understand?" Elessar's voice is low and soft. "Do you understand, Legolas? I know Eldarion's pain the other night distressed you but that is my fault as much as my brother's. I should have explained this better to him. He is old enough now to be told some of the price elves pay for their immortality."
"Speak to him of that if you like, Aragorn,"Legolas snaps back suddenly aggressive, "For he is your son. But you will not mention me! I do not want him thinking of grief and loss when he is with me. Tell him your brothers do not have the fortitude to cope but do not suggest I do not!"
I am taken aback by his words for they seem totally lacking in compassion, and so unlike him but Elessar is stern in reply.
"That is unfair and it does not do you credit, Legolas—to suggest their grief is due to a lack of strength. I will pretend I did not hear that."
It is a strong rebuke and a well deserved one and it hits the mark. Legolas hangs his head.
"I did not mean to suggest that," he murmers eventually. "You are right. That was unbecoming of me—" and I wonder, just what is it he is feeling about Elrohir that makes him so unlike his usual self whenever the Noldo is mentioned..
"—but Aragorn. . ." He lifts his head, "I mean it. I do not wish Eldarion to be worrying about my grief during our time together. That is not how I want us to be."
Elessar gives him a measured look. A look that seems to suggest he wonders wether to say something or not, and in the end he decides he will.
"Eldarion loves you." He grabs back Legolas' hand so he has all his focus and holds it firm, "You must know that. His affection for you is in no doubt. I know it hurts when he chooses to be with Elrohir instead, but let him have this, please. It does not mean he feels less for you and he will need you when Elrohir reaches his limit and can bear no more."
I try to read Legolas' face as he listens but I fail, and normally I know him so well. He looks . . . tormented.
"Why—" he whispers, "Why does Elrohir do this then, if it hurts him so much?"
I remember then the look on the Noldor's face last night when Legolas left us. That look of concern. Knowing what I know now it seems to me to be something completely different. But whatever it was I know the answer to Legolas' question so I tell him.
"Because you told him to." I think both of them are surprised to hear my voice and Legolas spins around, startled.
"What do you mean?"
"He told me last night, he spends time with the boy because you wished it from him. Why that is—perhaps you can tell me?"
It is an opening, a warning shot, a chance for him to explain himself, but instead he just stares at me.
"Because I wished it?"
"He listened to what you had to say, Legolas." It is Elessar who answers now. "Your opinion is important to him although I know you think otherwise. I wish the two of you could get over this nonsensical animosity that lies between you. I can see no reason for it."
So Elessar does not know.
And Legolas does not see fit to enlighten him now. Instead he stands, pushing back his chair.
"I have heard you Aragorn," He says with ever so slight haughtiness. "and I understand. I have judged your brothers harshly when I did not have all the facts, still—" Then he tosses his head as if dismissing that thought from his mind.
"Anyway," he continues smoothly changing the subject. "Today I wish to spend with Maewen. I do not want to waste any more of it discussing the Elrondionath. Let Eldarion spend as much time as he wishes with Elrohir. . . he is his uncle after all, I will be here to pick up the pieces."
"Legolas—" Elessar looks weary, as if he thinks in actual fact Legolas has not heard him at all but Legolas will not let him speak this time. He has had enough.
"Later. . . We will talk about this later and I will think on it. I promise." He lays a hand gently on his friends shoulder. "I do understand what you are telling me but things between your brothers and I are not easy. . . It is complicated. I will try my best to do as you wish but I cannot promise anything for Elrohir!"
It is not the most convincing of reassurances. . .
but it is the best Elessar is ever going to get.
The sea deafens me and I am tired of it.
On and on it roars but it is worse when it is quiet. Then it whispers in my ears to remind me of those I have lost who wait for me in Valinor.
"Join them, join them,"
it says. "It is so close, just a step away. They are all there waiting."
It fills my mind with visions of joyful reunions and imaginings of loved ones I have not seen for centuries.
And so I try to ignore it. . . and I fail. The more I will not listen, the more insistent it becomes, until my mind cannot concentrate on anything without the words of the sea infiltrating every corner, every thought, every feeling. It sends me mad.
The sea does not like those I love, those whose love holds me here. Always, always it presses me to let them go.
"She will follow you,"
It says of Maewen. "You will not be parted long,"
and when it is angry, "If she really loved you, she would go with you."
It does not understand the light she shines on me. It does not understand anything about us, and so it tries to push us apart.
When Aragorn is here it reminds me of his death.
"You will lose him anyway. Already he ages. Leave now and you avoid the grief."
But it does not know the grief would only follow me, being all the worse because I had abandoned him.
The sea-longing cannot comprehend the love I have for those closest to me but it knows it does not like them.
And Elrohir it hates.
It has not forgotten how he burnt it, how his brilliant light scorched its edges until it fled. It ran from him that night and now it seethes with anger every time he is near.
Much the way Elrohir radiates animosity whenever he approaches me. The sealonging hates him, and he despises
The sea deafens me, and I am so sick of its noise, of the dreams of golden sand and clear blue waves it sends me at night. I am sick of it all. I wish I could simply be Legolas once more.
I turn to Maewen when Aragorn leaves, for I am worried about her. She looks pale, tired and so terribly sad. Something is not well with her.
Often I am so caught up by the sound of the waves in my ears, trapped into either listening or running, that I trample all over her.
How little of my time does she actually get?
Oh, we are together almost always, but we can no longer sit still, we can no longer enjoy each other as we did before. Always the sea is pushing me on.
And suddenly it is crystal clear. She deserves better.
"So what shall we do today?" I have asked her this once already before Aragorn saw fit to interrupt. She did not answer me then and she does not now, not really. Because I want to know what she
wants; not what I
"You promised to see Elladan," she says softly. "We should do that, Legolas."
"I will, I will.
Today, definately just as I promised. But first I want to spend some time with you. Do something just the two of us, just for you."
"That would be for me."
I know she means that. I know she worries and I know that exhausts her. I do not
want to accept help from Elladan. With every shred of my self respect that is left I do not want to go there. Too fresh is the memory of him standing over me as I sat in the mud of the Dead Marshes, looking at me with disdain and telling me I was a disappointment.
But he can
help me. I know that. He has done it before, And Maewen is desolate, at the end of her endurance. It is my fault, all my fault—mine and the sea. Swallowing my pride, seeing Elladan, quieting the worst of the sea is the only thing I can truly do to help her.
It infuriates me, that my inattention, my distraction, and the weight the sealonging places on me turns me in to someone she needs to care for and not the Legolas I want to be. I am destroying her, slowly, surely. Loving me
is destroying her.
Still as much as I know I have to visit Elladan, I do not want to do that now.
"This afternoon, I promise." I take her hand and raise it to my lips for a kiss. Her skin is soft and warm, perfect as every part of her is to me. "But this morning should be just you and I, then I will see him. Just the two of us Maewen....you know you want to." I smile at her, the smile she can never resist and I know it, quick, bright, cheeky, and it works.
"Alright, alright, you have convinced me!" She even smiles in return and I feel I have achieved something. I hope I have lightened her load—even a little—this morning. "Take me to the stone," she continues and laughs at my astonished face but never before has Maewen asked
to go to stone!
"What stone? Did I hear right, Maewen?"
"Have I surprised you?" she exclaims with glee, "I hope you did not think you were the only one full of surprises, Legolas!" Her smile is broad now and it fills my heart with joy to see it after those mysterious tears of last night. Crying is not something Maewen does and it is I who have led her there.
I reach out to stroke her hair as it falls across her face. I love the feel of it, cool and silky as it slips through my fingers, warm walnut brown against the paleness of my skin. She is my wild silvan love. Her spirit, her energy, her feisty determination all entrance me. And yet it feels as if I am squeezing them all from her drop by drop. All that untamed beauty disappearing as she folds beneath the pressure of my sea-longing. I wish I could free her from me, although I would never willingly let her go.
"Show me what Gimli has shown you," she says now, eyes dancing. "Show me how to hear the song of the stone. You never told me you could do that! You have been keeping secrets, Legolas!"
I feel a pang of guilt at that for I have, just not the secrets she thinks. But I push the guilt aside. This morning is all for her and I do not want him
"Come on then!" I grab her hand and hold it tight, pulling her through the open doors to our balcony. "Let us go into the city."
"Out the door, Legolas," she laughs, "We are not in Ithilien. We cannot climb the walls here. What will they think!"
"Who cares what they think!" I know this bothers her. I know she feels judged as somehow lacking because she is silvan and a child of the forest. Not an elegant lady as she thinks she should be. But that forest sprite is the Maewen I love and I want to free her from the cage she places herself in. So I will not accept no for an answer and her giddy laughter as we scramble over the side and down the walls eases my soul. She is happy, at least for now.
The walk to the city walls is a long one and although it is early morning the streets are crowded. Men jostle us as we walk through the crowds but she does not miss a step. I am proud of her courage for it took much for her to come to this city, she does not love mortals as I do and she would rather not be here. She does it for me. She does so much for me....what do I do for her?
Her hand is warm in mine as we walk, and it is comforting to have that contact. Our link is deeper than the deepest sea. But try as I might to focus on Maewen my thoughts do wander, as they always do, down bends in the road, to the birds in the sky, and as much as I do not wish it, they land on Elrohir.
I did not know he would be here or I would not have come, for his sake and for mine. All is turmoil between us even now. It is no better, he has not forgiven me, and when he is near I cannot stop remembering that night. His crystal sharp, bright fea as it leapt towards me, embracing me. The joy of that contact after so long alone with none who could reach me. Maewen's words of before come back to me.
"He spends time with the boy because you wished it from him,"
Does he really? The sea has been shouting at me, screaming in anger that Elrohir attempts to steal Eldarion from me, that he plays with the boys affections only to hurt me. It enrages me.
But Aragorn agrees with Maewen. He says Elrohir cares what I think. Why would he when he hates me so? Or does he not hate quite as intensely as I have always thought? Does that mean anything for us?
Now I disappoint myself. I should not be daydreaming of Elrohir with Maewen here beside me. No matter how easily he destroys my sea.
I live in a world divided in two. I was born in to it. The Sindar and the Silvan. My father is Sindar, my mother Silvan and I am both. But my brother was the sensible, Sindar prince and I was the wild one. I was the child who ran in the woods, loved the trees and could feel the land. I was Silvan. I am
But not as Maewen is.
Silvan are wild through and through and when I have not entrapped her in a Sindar or mortal world so is she. Maewen's love for me runs deep. I can feel it in her soul, but she was born for freedom and her soul searches for more. She needs more than just me. Maewen had another love and I forced it away from her. Because it hurt me, because I could not understand it, because suddenly, though I believed I was a Silvan I discovered I was not. How could she love another and not love me less? Why did she look elsewhere when if she had truly loved me she should not have needed to?
I was young then and foolish. I had seen nothing of the world. I knew nothing of love.
Now I stand with Maewen, who is my heart, who I love more than life, who lights the very depths of my soul and I begin to understand.
Because there is Elrohir and he is different.
"Do you regret walking away from Erynion?" The word are out of my mouth before I can stop them tumbling from my train of thought and they are strange to Maewen who has no idea what goes on within my mind,
She stops in her tracks pulling her hand from mine.
" Do you regret it? I was wrong to insist on that. I should never have destroyed what lay between you." Now I have raised the subject I may as well continue. But Maewen stands and stares, her face drained of colour.
"No," she says, "I have never regretted it. I would do it again for you."
"I think you need him." I do, I really do. She gives so much to me and I am chaotic at the best of times. She needs Erynion's quiet calm.
As you need Elrohir's bright glory.
My mind whispers to me but I turn my thoughts from that.
"He was your refuge, I understand that now," I tell her. "And I have grown. When we return to Ithilien things will be different. I will speak with him. I was wrong to stop it and I will change that for you."
If I thought she would be happy, I was wrong.
"Do you turn me aside?" She gasps. "Do you wish to leave me, Legolas?"
"No! Of course I do not. Maewen, why do you say that?"
But she stumbles backwards, away from me, white-faced with horror.
"Do you wish to give me to Erynion so you would be free?"
What has made her think I could ever do that? Or would ever have wanted to?
"No Maewen!" I follow her as she moves away and grasp her hands. They are shaking. How can she think this of me?
"I will not leave you." I take her in my arms and hold her as the crowds surge around us. "I do not want to. I would never
want to. I want you to be happy and you are not. I have tried to clip your wings and lock you in a cage. I want to make it right and set you free." I tilt her head back so she can see me. So she will know I mean this .
"You are my wild silvan princess and I have tried to turn you into something you are not. I am sorry, Maewen, let me fix this."
But she is not hearing me. She is not.
And I have no idea where this has come from.
"Do you love me, Legolas?" The tears spill down her cheeks. Tears like the ones from last night and I cannot understand how she can ask that. How does she not already know the answer?
"Of course, of course." I kiss the tears fom her cheeks. "I love you. I love you, Maewen. You know this."
But it is obvious she doesn't, and I stand there, in the street, surronded by the people of the city, Maewen's tears wet on my shoulder, and I wonder why?
I know Maewen like the back of my hand. I know everything about her, her loves, her dreams, her wishes but despite that there are times when Maewen seems like a different species, as difficult to understand as Gimli's dwarves can be occasionally, or the hobbits.
This is one of those times.
I have no idea why I have managed to upset her when I was trying to do the right thing and fix my mistake of years ago. I cannot understand why she would think I would put her aside, that my love for her was gone. What have I done?
I stand there, as she weeps upon my shoulder, the crowd surging around us and rake through my memories to solve this puzzle but for the life of me I cannot find the answer.
Her tears make me anxious, especially when I do not understand them. I know she is tired, and worried for me. She has been worried for a long time. And I have been running so fast to escape the sea I have forgotten her. It must simply be that for I can think of nothing else. Tiredness, and my neglect have left her feeling vulnerable.
That I can fix, with attention and love. We will forget this clumsy conversation of mine. Put it aside for later, when she is more herself, and suddenly I feel better having decided upon a way to mend things. But while I sort things through in my mind it is Maewen who speaks.
"Forgive me," she says, raising her head to look at me. "I am being foolish and unfair. You should go wherever your heart leads you, Legolas. That is what I want for you." And she lifts her hand to cup my cheek gently.
"It leads me to you!" I reply quickly. She is simply confusing me. Who else would she think was in my heart? I hate this feeling of bemusement, not knowing what drama I am trapped in. I want somehow to get myself to firmer, more certain ground.
"Let me take you to the stone as we planned," I say to her, the words tumbling over themselves in my eagerness to get them out and draw her mind away from what bothers her. I wipe away the tears still drying on her cheeks and take her hand, once again in mine.
"Forget this, Maewen. I said this was your morning and I mean it! I want to spend it with you. Though I do not know how successful I will be teaching you to hear the stone song. Gimli complained long and hard about my slowness when he taught me. He almost gave up any hope he had of success."
And she smiles. A small smile barely there, a hint, a glimpse, but I see it and at the sight of it the vice of anxiety clenched around my heart eases.
So I press home my advantage.
"Come on, walk with me."
I pull her gently to me and wrap my arm around her shoulders so she will be close. I will not let her go. It is good to feel the soft warmth of her body next to mine, the weight of her head upon my shoulder, it calms me and I hope it reassures her I am going nowhere.
The streets by Gimli's walls are crowded with people. A raucous jumble of sound. We stop briefly to speak with Daegal, the Captain of the Guard. He is a stern fellow who does not know how to handle me. Always he looks at me as if I am something mysterious, an enigma, but despite that I like him. If I am truthful there are few men here who know how to take me, and fewer still I actually like. None, save Aragorn and Faramir are truly comfortable with my company and that does sadden me when I think on it.
Maewen is quiet. She is always subdued with Men we do not know well and I know she does not enjoy the company of mortals, still she comes here with me for my sake and I love her for it.
"Put your hand upon the stone," I tell her leading her away from the captain and from her discomfort. "Tell me what you hear."
I watch as she leans into the wall, face tense with concentration, eyes closed. It humbles me that she does this, that she has asked to do it, because Maewen a few years ago wanted nothing to do with the dwarves. She would hide when Gimli visited and she viewed them with distrust. Now she seeks to learn their dwarven magic and it is for my sake she does this.
"They tell me stories," she says eventually, "of people who have been here, those who laid their hands upon them. So many people it is hard to make sense of it. . . "
"Ah, but that is not the stone song," I tell her. I had the same problem myself when Gimli taught me. "Try to hear past their tales and memories to the heart of them. It should be a thrum, a low humming of contentment if they are happy."
And she does try. A frown on her face as she leans in to seek the sound but in the end she admits defeat.
"I cannot hear it Legolas," she says downcast. "It is too noisy, they have too much to tell me and I can decipher nothing else amongst their chatter. I am sorry."
"It took me days to hear it," I rush to reassure her, "and that was in the quiet of the woods without the crowds of people there are here."
Further down the street and around the corner the walls lead to the old part of the city. There will be fewer people there and it might be easier for her. It takes me only a moment to decide that is the place for us.
"Come with me to the quiet," I tell her and lead the way holding her firmly by the hand. I love the feeling of her skin against mine, her hands warm and soft, and I realise we have been too far apart lately. We have been missing this closeness. Somehow it has slipped away from us without us realising. It has disappeared as the sea struggles determinedly to prise us apart.
This older part of the city is indeed quieter. Two children play in the street ahead of us and stare at us in amazement as we turn the corner and walk into their view. Perhaps Aragorn's lords do not often venture here, but they should I think. These boys are barefoot and bedraggled, their clothes torn and dirty as are their faces. Their life down here in the gutters is obviously so far from that of Eldarion it makes my stomach churn to think of it, for how can Aragorn allow this? I have spoken to him before on this, his people's willingness to neglect their children. It would not happen in an elven enclave and I cannot understand it. The young are precious, and yet here so many of them fall by the wayside. He should do more and I resolve to speak to him of it once again tonight. I will not let him tell me I do not know what I am speaking of this time.
Still, for the moment I will ignore those small boys as they play, climbing up the walls—jumping to the ground with a squeal. I turn my back and concentrate on the stone itself. These walls are not as fine. Gimli's dwarven craftsmen did not have time to spread their skill this far into the city. The walls here still carry battle scars and signs of age.
"It will be easier here." I tell Maewen as I reach out to brush my fingers across the stone, just to check it still sings. And, startled, I pull them back as if it burns me, for something is wrong, and I am unprepared!
The chatter of memories is still there light upon the surface, and the thrum of the song but beneath it all is a discordant harshness with hurts my ears and turns my heart to ice.
"What is it?" Through my numbness I feel Maewen's faint touch upon my shoulder. "Legolas?"
I dare to touch it again, slowly inching fingers across rough stone. It is still there, that discordance. Shrill and sharp above all the rest, cutting it's way through my brain. All my senses scream, Do something! But I do not even know what it means.
"Get Daegal," I tell Maewen, for I can think of nothing else to do. "The captain we spoke to—fetch him here." Really it is Aragorn I need, but how long will it take to reach him? I have no idea what his plans were for today. Still Maewen does not run but simply stares at me with confusion and concern.
"What is it? What do I tell him?" She places her hand on top of mine, curling fingers gently around my own. Soft, strong, loving, she is all I need.
"Something is wrong here, with these walls." I place both hands flat against the stones and it is still there, the nerve-tingling screaming. "Get him. Maewen—please!"
And so she does. She withdraws her hand and her warmth and runs. I watch her go, her chestnut hair swinging down her back as she runs. Little do I know how final that last look may turn out to be. She is gone only a few minutes when a cry of alarm from the boys down the street grabs my attention from the stone.
They have climbed up once too many. The walls are cracking, the stone is falling, the sound is a roar through my head, drowning my thoughts in horror.
I am running then for they are doomed unless I reach them and as I do the littlest cries out scrambling to clear the rocks which slide and collapse all around him. I hear his shock, I see the stone hit the small of his back sending him staggering forward. Then, finally I am there, throwing myself at him, hoping the force will send him sprawling clear of danger. If it does I do not know for there is suddenly an avalanche of stone around me, raining down upon me, pressing me to the ground, crushing the life out of me. I think of Maewen and reach for her but she is not there, Gimli, Aragorn, Eldarion, fill my mind but they can not hear me—and Elrohir, bright as star—he is lost to me also. Not that I ever had him in the first place. . . . Elrohir. . .
And the lights go out.
For those of you who haven't read "Darkness in Your Heart" I strongly suggest you hunt out that story and read chapter 2 before reading this chapter. It will fill you in on the back story of Legolas' brother which is quite important! You don't have to slog through the whole story, just chapter 2.
Aragorn's city is beautiful. I admit that. It rises out of the rock, white stone glinting in the sun, imposing and magnificent it makes you stop in your tracks when you first see it. Seen from afar it seems a wonder. But it is not for me.
I admire it, I can see it's beauty. I understand why Gimli is entranced by it, but to me that stone is cold and unfeeling. It dampens my song and shuts the world of living things away from me. It stifles me.
When I open my eyes stone is what I expect to see. I imagine it will surround me. I can remember the pain as the rocks fell around me. As my brain struggles to emerge from the fog it has been entrapped in I expect to see the healers halls, or my room, or perhaps the street but in fact I see none of these. The stone is gone.
I am in the woods.
Surronded by life, greenery, beauty, I am in a glade. Tall trees stand guard around the centre and they sing to me, calling out their pleasure at my presence. Flowers sprinkle across the grass, brilliant unexpected colour amongst the green. This
is real beauty. But I do not know this place.
It feels familiar certainly. It feels like the Greenwood, the Greenwood of my childhood.
But that is ridiculous of course for Eryn Lasgalen is miles away, so while it may feel like that I know it is not. But I do not know how I got here. . .or why?
And I am alone.
Where is Maewen? The Guards? The people off the street? Aragorn? Elladan? Surely I have needed healers for the last thing I remember is that crushing excruciating pain. I cannot have escaped without damage and yet I have no pain now. And no one is here.
Why have they bought me here and abandoned me? If I were injured Maewen would not leave me—never! And Aragorn. . .did they not call him? This place feels strange, eerie, and it makes no sense. Why am I here? Why have they deserted me?
I haul myself to my feet expecting it to be agony and yet it is not. I am as agile as I have ever been. How can that be? I am not dizzy, I am not sore, I am simply Legolas at my best. And the sea-longing is gone! For the first time in forever I feel whole.
The trees call to me. Their song is a symphony of joy and I cannot resist them, brushing my fingers across their bark I join them in their happiness. An elf, an elf!
I hear them cry in my mind. Yes I am here.
I reply and I am breathless with joyous wonder. This place is paradise.
The voice shatters the quiet, sends the tree's song spiralling from my mind and I freeze because it is not possible. It is not possible that I hear that. It is not possible that he is here.
I am dreaming, surely, for it cannot be Laerion.
"Legolas, little brother," He calls again and this time he uses my name. It is
his voice. I have not heard it for centuries but I would never mistake it. Laerion, my brother, my hero. Laerion is here. And when I turn, slowly, afraid of what I might see, he is exactly the same.
Tall, beautiful, imposing, golden, my beloved brother stands before me. For years I have only been able to remember him as a crumpled body at my feet, bleeding and broken, but here—now—he is whole.
"Laerion." It is so strange to say his name, after all these years. It falls awkwardly off my tongue. "Are you real?" I breathe it, and I know the answer. Of course he is not real. This is an illusion, it can be nothing else.
But he reaches for me, takes hold of my shoulders, his grip strong, and pulls me into an embrace—his arms tight around me as if he fears I will disappear.
"Do I feel real?" He says, his voice soft and deep in my ear, and he does....he does.
"Oh little brother, I have missed you," he whispers it into my ear and it is just as it used to be in my childhood, when I ran to greet him on his return from the South. An avalanche of memory floods my mind. Laerion teaching me the bow, holding my hand in the dark, reading to me, helping me with my studies so I could be free to run in the trees.
And then the memories change. Laerion on the ground his blood spilling at my feet, sacrificing his own life to save mine. Laerion cold and blue, my mother's tears, my father's grief, they all roll in to one and anger—the anger which has burned in the core of me since his death, never spoken—spills out.
"How dare you!" I push him away, twisting from his grip, stepping back to face him. "Why did you do it? Why? You destroyed me!" Before I know it I am pummelling him with my fists. I want to hurt, as his death hurt me.
"Stop this!" Before I can prevent it he has my hands tight in his and I cannot move. "Stop this, Legolas." Laerion has always been stronger than me and it seems it is still so,
"What do you mean?" He says, "I have never hurt you."
"You have never hurt me?" I gasp it. "What do you think my life has been like since your death? I have been crippled with guilt, this terrible guilt. It has poisoned every part of me. Why did you do it, Laerion? I was a warrior. I did not need
you to save me! Why could you not leave me alone to face my own consequences? I was not a child!"
"Oh Legolas," He says it softly as he reaches for my face, wiping away tears I did not know I had shed. "I am sorry, little one. I am sorry. I did not want to cause you pain."
"I have been living with your blood on my hands all these years. How did you think that would be?"
"I could not let you die. You are special, Legolas. I could not watch it happen and do nothing, I did not think—there was no time, but I could not lose you. It was not your fault, it was my choice."
"But I lost you!
I lost you." I am undone and the grief, that all encompassing grief overcomes me. Then I am on the ground although I do not know how I got there, I am in his arms and the tears flow until I do not think they will ever stop.
And his words echo through my mind, It was not your fault, it was my choice
. All these years I have felt to blame, and believed he would blame me too. . .and he does not. Or does he? For this cannot be real. My mind plays tricks on me and gives me the answers I desperately hope to be the truth.
"You are dead." I murmer more to myself than to him, "You are dead, this is not real."
"I am." There is a smile in his voice as he says it. "You were always a clever one Legolas, very observant." He makes me laugh! Through the tears and the pain, he makes me laugh.
"I am dead." He lifts my head so I can see his eyes, "But this is real."
"No," I shake my head at his silliness. "It cannot be both."
be both, Legolas." He cups my face in his hands soft and gentle, "I am here to lead you home, as our grandfather did for me. Follow me and I will show you the way."
It takes some time for those words to filter through my brain, as I sit and gaze at this long lost brother the cogs in my mind turn slowly,
"Home?" I ask him, "My home is Ithilien and you do not know the way."
"That home is behind you." He tucks a recalcitrant strand of hair behind my ear. " I will lead you onwards, Grandfather is eager to meet you. And I wish to know how you have ended up with a home not in the Greenwood."
But my Grandfather is dead also and I have never known him. . .
And suddenly I realise the truth.
"No!" I am on my feet and out of his embrace, backing away until I am trapped by the trees behind me. "No, Laerion! No, no, no." I hold my hands out in front of me, warding him off as if he is poison.
"It is not so bad, Legolas." He moves towards me and I have no escape. "We will be together, and how I have missed you. It is peaceful in the Halls."
"I do not want peace!" I cry, "I want my life, my friends, my love, Father. . . How can you take me from Father?"
"It is not me taking you, the damage has already been done."
"They will fix it, they will heal me!" This cannot be true, it is not happening, I will not leave them. I will not!
"Some things cannot be healed, Legolas."
"I am not ready! Laerion, do not do this, Send me back, please, if you love me, send me back."
"I do not know the way back." My brothers sadness shines through his eyes, "If I did do you not think I would have taken it myself before now, to be with you."
And my heart shatters into a million pieces, for I have lost them all. Maewen will sail, she will wait for me in Valinor, although how long? How many years must she wait?
But Aragorn, Gimli, Arwen and Eldarion, they will not follow me. I will never see them again. I cannot breathe. The grief is huge and it chokes me.
And Elrohir. . .will he follow or will he stay. I do not know. He is not mine and now he will never be.
I am on my knees then, the tears falling anew. There is no escape from this loss. It is worse than anything I have ever felt before, the loss of my mother. . .the loss of my brother. . . For it is truly the end. I will not see them again—ever. There is no Valinor to hope for, no everlasting life for they are mortal.
I will never see them again, never ride with Gimli at my back, never laugh with him, never complain about his pipeweed. Aragorn and I will share no more lazy chats in his study, we will not ride in the woods again, there will be no more friendly competition between us. I will not see his young son grow.
I am gone from them.
And I have not even said goodbye.
Reposting because Faerie deleted it!
Because I didn't want to leave people hanging with a dead Legolas while I took myself off to the beach for a week!
I have felt pain before. The sharp cut of a blade, the thud of an arrow through the skin, the loss of loved ones, but I have never before felt pain like this.
It is as if my heart is ripped in two. This is not how it was meant to be. I was supposed to outlive them.
It cannot be true that I will never see all my friends again. My brain rebels at the finality of it and screams its defiance. And I am left speechless, exhausted, distraught upon the ground.
Laerion is there, offering comfort but it does no good for he does not understand.
"It is not that bad, Legolas," he says softly, "Time in the halls goes quickly, it will not seem like long to you."
"How long will it be for Maewen? How long must she
wait? She will be alone."
The thought of her, in Valinor alone, waiting for me breaks my heart. Her potential grief weighs down my soul. She was not meant for Valinor. She should stay with the land always and be wild and free. She was definitely not meant for Valinor without me.
"You are with Maewen?" He asks as he strokes my hair, just as he used to do when I was young and afraid. "I am not surprised. The two of you.....you were so obvious, little brother."
And I realise, he no longer knows me. He no longer knows anything about me. Maewen and I have been together for centuries and Laerion is ignorant of all of that. We are no longer close as we once were, he and I. It is yet another grief.
Still he tries, and fails, to ease my sorrow.
"You will see her again," he murmers, "Remember that. You will see them all again, this is just a break, a brief time apart. All will be well in the end. It is normal to feel this—I raged too when I woke here and realised my fate."
"All will never be well!" I push him away from me in anger, suddenly frustrated by his lack of understanding. "I will never
see them again, never!
They are mortal, Laerion, my friends....my closest friends. I will not go with you, I will not.
I will not leave them for it will be forever!"
The colour drains from his face then as he looks down at me,
"Mortal?" He says it as if it is a curse. "You have befriended mortals? You fool, Legolas. You know why we should keep ourselves apart from them....for this very reason, because the pain of eternal loss is too deep. What was Father thinking? Why did he allow this?"
"Why did Father allow it?" Anger burns within me at his words. "I am not a child, Laerion...you have been gone too long. I am a leader myself, I have my own people to care for. Father does not chose my friends for me! I am my own man."
"Well perhaps he should." Laerion's mouth is set in a hard line, his eyes flash with annoyance. "What a mess you have made for yourself, Legolas. You will
come with me, you have no option."
"I do!" I struggle to get to my feet then, and away. I will fight this. I will not accept my fate. "I am Silvan
, Laerion. I do have another option. I will return to the land." I spit it at him in defiance. It is not fair, my anger, for none of this is his fault. He is only here to make the journey easier for me. But I cannot just walk away from them all, not now.
His face is white with horror as he clutches my arm, holding it tight to prevent me running.
"You will not do that!" He hisses, "Then we
would be separated forever, for the sake of some mortals who would not even see you, so ignorant they are of the spirit world."
"But I could see them!" It seems in this moment of panic to be a reasonable solution. I could watch them from afar and I would not lose them.
"And when they die? What then are you left with? What of your family? What of us? Mother? Father? Me? You would walk away from all of us for some mortals
"Mother has already deserted me. She left us long ago, turned her back and left us behind. I owe her nothing." It is how I feel since my father told me the truth of my mother's decision to sail, but Laerion, of course, knows nothing and is shocked into almost silence by my words. It is not the best way I could have chosen to tell him.
"She left?" He stares at me, eyes wide. "She left
And it all spills out for I am angry with her, very angry. Maewen has advised me to feel pity instead, she is sure my mother regrets her decision, but I can find no pity in me. It is all but destroyed by the rage.
"She left when you died. Turned her back on us and never looked back. She blamed Father for your death and did not stay to help us mend things. She sailed to Valinor instead."
His hands drop away from me, he loses his grip so I could flee if I want, and stands, desolate and miserable.
"I have destroyed our family." He gasps, but it is not exactly true although sometimes it has felt that way.
I am just about to answer him, to reassure, to tell him it is not all his fault, that my mother made her own wrong decisions and is the one responsible for them when the voice calls. Faint, in the background it calls my name.
I can see no one here but Laerion and I. And yet there it is again, a sad voice, desperate and grieving. It pleads for me, and I am drawn to it, slowly, surely I take small footsteps across the glade towards its sound. But Laerion holds me back.
this." He whispers, voice low, "There should be no-one here but us. Who dares to journey here? This is the place of departing spirits and none else are welcome."
The voice is more insistant. Louder, nearer, and more recognisable and the grief it carries breaks my heart.
And then we see him . . . Then Aragorn steps into the glade.
My heart lifts at the sight of him....he has come looking for me—I should have known he would—but how?
He stands at the edge of the trees, confused. He obviously has no idea where he is. Aragorn is always confident, always in control, even when I know he is beset with doubts you can never tell. I have never seen him look as bewildered as he does now. He looks like a child lost in the forest, and so I call his name,
I would run to him but Laerion holds me back.
"Who is this?" He demands. "One of your mortal friends? How has he reached us here? What kind of sorcerer is he?"
"He is not a sorcerer. He is a Man, my brother, a healer, a King, Isildur's heir."
am your brother!"
"And you were not there." I will not have Laerion make me guilty for my brotherhood with Aragorn.
"Stay here, Legolas!" It is a command, an order as when I was a small child and Laerion was left in charge of me. "I will speak with him and see him off. He meddles in things he does not understand." He strides across the glade towards my friend, and Aragorn stares at him as he approaches, wide-eyed. Laerion can be intimidating...even to a King.
At first I stay behind, as I am used to doing when Laerion commands it. But I am not that boy child any longer I realise. I am not the Legolas, Laerion knows. The one he can click his fingers at and command at will. I was once, when I was young and he was my idol, but in his absense I have grown. I am a different Legolas.
My friend is here and I will speak with him.
So I follow my brother across the clearing. I will not stay behind.
"You should not be here." Laerion's displeasure is clear in his voice. He does not pretend politeness.
"I look for Legolas," Aragorn is not cowed, even by my furious brother.
"Legolas is meant
to be here. You
are not. Spirits of men do not venture here."
"I need to say goodbye," Aragorn says quietly, "That is all, I cannot let him go without a goodbye."
"Aragorn!" Pushing past Laerion, I move to stand in front of my friend. Now I am close I can see he has been crying, there are tears on his cheeks. Aragorn never cries.
"What is wrong?" I ask with trepidation, for it must be something truly dreadful. What has happened in Minas Tirith?
"What is wrong?" He almost chokes on his words as he reaches to brush my face with his fingers, "What is wrong? We have lost you, Legolas, and I cannot bear it."
And I realise his tears are for me.
It is real then, this nightmare I find myself trapped in. It is real and I will lose him.
"You do not help him." My brothers voice is harsh and angry, "What did you think to achieve coming here? What is done is done. Let him go." I am annoyed with him. How dare he speak for me as if I was an uncontrollable child.
"Laerion!" I turn to give him a lashing with my tongue, to show him I am grown into a Legolas he does not know, A Legolas who does not need others protection, and as I snap his name Aragorn gasps before me.
"Laerion?" His face, if possible, is even whiter, his eyes wider as he looks at me in astonishment, "Laerion, your brother?"
Laerion does not allow me to answer. He is there first, his tension spilling over us all, and adding to my grief is the fact I realise, he does not like my friend, he does not even want to like him.
"I am Laerion, what of it?" He snaps with bitter words. "I am here to guide my brother to the Halls. To protect him as he travels, to ease his grief. Why are you here? To hold him tight and punish him for his friendship? He is gone from you. leave him alone!"
"I will leave when he wishes me to,"Aragorn says softly, "I answer to Legolas, not to you."
"I am his brother.
" Laerion moves close, he is taller than Aragorn, and threatening as he leans over him. "You are not,
no matter what he calls you. You bring him only pain and I have seen
I know he wishes to protect me, as he always did, I know he tries to help me, I know he sees Aragorn only as a threat, as someone it hurts me to know. I know all this but I cannot let him do this.
"Laerion, Stop! You have no right to speak thus."
I stare him down, I challenge him, which I have never
done before and he is shocked. I see it on his face.
But in the end, because he loves me, he backs down. He does not want to but he retreats all the same, ever watchful, his eyes never leaving Aragorn. He does not trust him.
And when I turn back to Aragorn, he still weeps.
"Do not do this." I tell him, "Stop Aragorn," for his tears pull at my heart and bring mine all the closer, and one of us must retain some control.
"Legolas. . . " whatever it is he wants to say he cannot complete it. It frightens me, his grief. It is so unusual to see it.
"How did you find me?" I ask. Anything to distract from the finality of this goodbye. "How did you get here, where you should not be?"
"I followed you, I chased you down," there is a hint of a smile at that, "You did not think you could escape me did you?" He has regained his voice and I am glad. This is more normal, more us.
More what I will hold in my mind in the days to come.....if I am to remember any of this in the Halls. . . In the future without him.
"I saw your fea flee and I followed," he continued "I did not stop to think, I could not let you go without. . . " he trails off miserably but I know what he means, without one last word, even though now he is here neither of us have the strength to say it.
"Tell Gimli—" I change the subject, Saying what I need to Aragorn is just too hard. "Tell Gimli. . .Tell him, He is. . ." It seems I cannot say those words either.
"I will tell him." Aragorn does not need me to spell it out. He knows, he knows what I would tell my dwarf friend if I could see him. He knows what I would tell him
as well though the words choke me.
"How will you get back?" Suddenly the thought occurs to me and it is a terrifying one. He should not be here, Is there any way out for him? What will he do? What have I done to him? Lured him here into nothingness?
"Peace, Legolas," he grasps my hands between his and to my relief he is his usual calm self once more. "Elladan follows, I can hear him even now" he grins at me, it is the boyish ranger I see now, not the King of Men. "He is furious with me. He comes to haul me back to my senses. I will never hear the end of this." He sighs then, "Elladan's lectures can be so tiresome."
I almost laugh, almost. Then it hits me.
"Take me with you." He drops my hands and stares. "I mean it Aragorn. Take me back. I am not ready for this."
"No!" It is Laerion, "No Legolas, this is foolishness. You will not do this!"
"Is it even possible?" Aragorn whispers,
"It is not
possible!" Laerion is beside himself. "You will not do this. You will
not. You will become one of the houseless ones. You cannot do it brother. We will lose you." He turns to Aragorn. "If you love him you will not encourage this idea. It is unachievable, and he will be lost, for where does he have to go?"
Aragorn stares at the both of us, he almost does not breathe.
"It has not been long," he says, "but there will be pain, Legolas....your injuries.....If it were even to work. And your brother is right, what if you were to be unhoused?"
"Let me try."
For a long time he stands and does nothing. I do not know what it is he thinks. He is going to turn me down. He will say no. He will listen to Laerion and decide not to do this and I will lose all those I love.
Then silently Aragorn holds out his hand.
"Are you sure?" He asks.
"I have never been more sure."
"Let us do this then. If you are prepared to take the chance, I will give it to you."
"No!" Laerion grasps my arm, "Brother, no!"
I am torn, my brother or my friends, the peace of the Halls or the risk of being a houseless one floating alone forever.
I turn to my brother, the brother I love, the brother who no longer knows me, who is a stranger to me and I to him.
"I must do this Laerion. I am sorry. I have to try."
"Don't—" It is all he can say.
"We will meet again, my brother, I am sure of it. I will tell Father I have seen you." I turn away then for I cannot bear to see him, he is devastated and it is my doing. Instead I place my hand in Aragorns warm calloused one.
"Let us do this," I say and as we walk toward the trees Laerion calls out behind us.
"Tell him I love him, Legolas. Tell him that,"
I do not look back. To look back is to lose my nerve, but I wave, to tell him I will carry his message, to tell him I love him too,
And then Aragorn and I step into the dark.
I have watched as many of my cousins are born and die. Children of my father's brother, their lives shine bright and burn out quickly. Still I have guided them, watched over them, loved them.... and none more so than Estel, my brother.
He is the best of them all. The one I have loved most. I will forgive him anything, even the loss of my sister. He has his own son now—another ray of light burning brightly through our world—but my heart is tired now and it has no room to love Estel's child.
I do love him, of course, as I watch him make his way through life, so like his father he is, but I cannot know him. I cannot entangle myself with him, I cannot be there for him. It hurts too much and my heart is already broken.
But I did not know the boy thought I disliked him. I did not know my absence caused him pain. Until Legolas threw it back in my face I had not paused to think how the boy interpreted my distance.
Legolas delights in challenging me. His purpose in life it seems, is to cause me discomfort. But I will not have him think less of me, for no matter what pain he throws my way, no matter how he torments me, I still love him.
And so I ignore the pain of grief and take the time to know Estel's son and every smile he sends my way, every cry of excitement, every joyous laugh is a dagger to my soul. But Legolas will respect me if I do this, and so I do it.
We amble through the city, Eldarion and I, headed to the stables for I have promised him a ride this morning across the Pelennor, but there is a tension in the air. Something is wrong, there are shouts for the guards. . . for the King to come quickly and although I hesitate for I have the boy with me I know I must respond. He is a coltish boy now, very nearly a man, and perhaps it will not hurt him to see danger—if that is what this is—while he is under my protection. I will ensure he comes to no harm.
"Come, Eldarion!" I interrupt his prattle with a command. "There is need of us by the walls. Did you not hear them call for your father?"
"I will just be in the way," he says reluctantly but I hush him.
"You are a prince, Eldarion. If there is trouble it is your duty to protect your people. You will not be in the way with me." Now that I take the time to see him I think perhaps Estel should begin to give the boy some responsibility. I will speak to him about that tonight I think.
There is a panicked mass of people around the walls when we arrive. They swarm everywhere and tell us nothing.
"What goes on here?" I ask the first guard I see in the hope of gaining a sensible response but he is agitated.
"Thank goodness you are here, my Lord. We have called for the King but he does not come."
"Likely he is busy. If you have called for him he will be here." His nervousness makes me impatient and short-tempered. "Tell me what the problem is. I can get no sense out of any of you."
"The walls have collapsed, my Lord. In the old section of the city and—"
I cut him off, that is enough and it is all I need to know.
"Very well. We are here now. We will aid you until the King arrives." I turn away, heading for the old city for that is obviously where we need to be, but he steps in front of me, eyes wide.
"The boy..." He stutters shooting a anxious gaze toward Eldarion. "Perhaps he should stay here, my Lord."
For goodness sake. These people have no trust in me. Who is he, this young guard, to tell me how to keep my nephew safe?
"He is safe with me!" I place my arm about Eldarion's shoulders and sweep the guard aside. I have no patience for his babbling when our help is needed elsewhere.
When we reach the old city all is chaos and the collapse of the wall unmissable. A large pile of rubble sprawls across the street and it is obvious from the hurried attempts to clear it they believe somebody to be under there. If there is, they will not survive.
"Someone is trapped under the stone." I say to Eldarion seriously, "We must help clear it but I want you to realise it would be next to impossible to survive this. Do you understand?"
He looks at me with big brown eyes all seriousness and nods his head.
"They will be dead when we find them then, Elrohir? But we must look."
"That is right, lad. We must look." I pat his shoulder encouragingly and begin to push through the crowds who part for us as if by magic when they realise who we are. It is then that I see her.
The Elleth is here. Legolas' Elleth, on her hands and knees in the dust, face streaked with tears, hands bleeding as she scrabbles amongst the stone. Where is he then? Where has he disappeared to? I know she would not be here alone. I do not know her well but I do know she is not comfortable enough amongst Men to come down here on her own.
The boy spies her the same time I do.
"Maewen is here!" He cries, "But where is Legolas? I cannot see him?"
In that instant I know.
And my world caves in.
It cannot be him. It cannot be him under those stones. But I know it is.
"My Lord?" There is a touch upon my shoulder. The Captain of the Guard, Daegal, he is a good man. I like him and grief is written across his face. If there was any doubt in my mind before there is none now. "Shall I send for someone to take the boy?" He asks, and I realise I should not have bought Eldarion here. He should not see this.
"Yes." I say it numbly, automatically, for my mind is a fog, and it will not think. "Yes, send for someone."
"We have called for the King," he says then but I look right through him. I hear his words, I understand them but they do not sink in, so I look past him to the girl and she sees me. She lifts her head and stares right at me.
"Help me!" She cries, "Do not stand there, help me save him!"
It is Eldarion who responds before I do, for her cries have meant he understands the horror that is before us. He understands who is at the bottom of that pile.
"Legolas!" He screams out loud, and then he is out of my grasp, running towards to the stone, throwing himself at it his body wracked with sobs. It shatters my inertia and at last I move.
I try to take the child in my arms, to pull him away from the rocks but he will not have it. He struggles against me and he is strong, so strong.
"Let me go! Let me go! I will save him," And in the end I must, I let him go and sink to my knees beside him against the stone, but it is hopeless and he cannot see it.
"He is gone," I murmer and I realise then my cheeks are wet with tears. Eldarion is not the only one who weeps.
"He is still there. Can you not feel him?" It is the girl beside me, and the look she gives me is a fierce one. "I know you can!" She says, "Would you give up on him so easily? He will not give up on us." She is breathless as she hauls away the stones and her face is a picture of devastation but still she challenges me and I wonder what she means.....can I feel him?
Legolas and I have a bond. . . We do. It is faint and neglected but we have it, forged years ago before the Black Gate. I do not ever revisit it for to do so means pain, but now I search, I reach for the bond. I look for the one at the other end and I realise she is right.
He is still there.
Faint, a whisper, an echo only, but still the green-gold feel of Legolas.
I throw myself at the stone then, desperate, energised, frantic, I tear at it. I ignore my blistered hands, my tired limbs, the tears on my cheeks, the dust in my eyes, and the crying child beside me. He is there, and I must find him!
I barely register the arrival of my brothers and my sister. I know the sobbing boy is gone from my side, gathered in his mother's arms, though I can still hear his cries. She has taken him away from the pile of stone but not far. They stand and watch. She loves Legolas, I know, he has become important to her in her life here, an isolated Elf amongst Men. Her heart must be breaking. But not as mine breaks.
Estel is there then, alongside me in his son's place, and he too weeps.
"Damn you, Legolas," he cries, "I cannot lose you, I cannot!"
He throws the stones clear with reckless carelessness, not caring where they land. He is as desperate as the girl and I to find the one we love.
"Elrohir," A hand falls on my shoulder, firm and calm and I look up, pausing for a heartbeat in my labour for it is Elladan. Elladan my brother, my twin. Elladan my other half. He is the only one here who knows, the only one who has seen how my heart yearns for Legolas. The only one who can guess at the pain which tears me apart.
"Elrohir, brother," He needs say no more for I hear him, I hear his concern and his love and I feel his soft calmness wash over me, slowing my pounding heart, easing the terrible torment in my mind, then he is gone for finally, finally, someone calls.
"Over here! I have him! I have found him!"
They have found a foot, a single foot, then his leg and when I place my hand upon it he is warm, still warm! We are truly frantic then, all of us and it seems moments only until he is uncovered, still, white, motionless upon the cobblestones.
He lies face down, an arm twisted crookedly at his side, and when Elladan gently rolls him I see his chest rise and fall, slightly, slowly. He is alive!
But even as we watch, even as we celebrate his survival the movement ceases. I wait, holding my breath for the next breath. Where is it? Where is it? Breathe, Legolas, breathe.
But he does not.
Then all is chaos.
"No!" It is Estel who cries it, throwing himself towards Legolas on the ground, and the girl, Maewen collapses against me with a wail that tears the hearts of all who hear it, including mine. I catch her. I will not let her fall, she who Legolas loved for he would wish me to care for her. And then I realise why it is she cries, for the soft green-golden glow that was Legolas in my mind has gone.
It is as if he has been ripped from the world, a gaping black hole now stands where Legolas was before, his fea vanished beyond my reach and it hurts. . .oh how it hurts, to stand here in a world without him.
I love Legolas. I have always known it and long denied it, and now he is gone. I have pushed him away, ignored my heart and now there is no time left for me to change that. What is left in my life but pain?
I do not notice what my brothers do, as they pour over his body on the ground. I do not notice anything but my heart as it bleeds out of that dark hole where Legolas once was. I wish I could weep now as the girl weeps, with ragged tortured sobs, her body shakes against mine.
I am numb and motionless, life floating around me, my sisters quiet tears, her small son's heartfelt grief, all of it I hear and yet none of registers. None of it is real. I do not know how long I stand there until Elladan's shouts fill my ears.
Elladan can always hold my attention. If there is one here I love as much as Legolas it is he, a different love but no less deep.
"Estel!" He shouts, "Stop this! He is gone, Let him be. . . Let go!"
I watch as he pulls our brother free from his hold upon Legolas, as he throws him clear of his body, I watch as Estel stares up at him, at first dazed, confused, and then with eyes full of horror. I watch as he gasps, my stomach churns when I hear him cry,
"What have you done, Elladan? What have you done?"
The room in the Healers Halls is quiet. Silent except for the soft rasp of Legolas' breathing in, out, in out. I am mesmerised by it. I cannot take my eyes of his chest as it rises and falls, each time willing him to take another for the fact he breathes at all is a miracle. I do not know what Estel has done to achieve this and I find I do not want to know.
Estel himself is sleeping, away from here in his rooms, with Arwen at his side. After that moment Elladan pulled him away from Legolas all was pandemonium and chaos. He was disorientated and frantic, cursing Elladan, screaming at him, babbling incoherent nonsense. I thought it grief but then amongst the nightmare of noise and pain someone noticed Legolas.
"He lives!" They cried, "He breathes," and as I pushed my way to him I saw that it was true. Soft, shallow, barely there breaths. I would have thought them so shallow we had simply missed them before—perhaps that is what Estel's people think—but I know better. I know the dark hole in the fabric of the world left by the disappearance of Legolas has been filled again. The glow of his fea has returned, scattered, random, not all there, but still Legolas.
Estel has brought him back to us.
And now we wait. We wait for him to wake, to see how he will be. . . Will he know us? Will he be the Legolas we knew at all?
I am not alone in my watching for the girl sits with me, and Elladan is outside. I hear his quiet voice murmuring to the healers. He has not long returned from Estel who was so exhausted he could not stand, sending his men into a terrified panic of worry at his health.
Maewen, Legolas' love, sits opposite me. She has taken Legolas' hand in hers, his fingers lying limp in her own and I watch as she rubs it gently. A soft, gentle, stroking with her thumb, drawing circles of love on his skin. I should not be here. I should leave the two of them alone. This is not my place and yet I cannot go. Almost without thinking I reach out to touch the pale gold of his hair as it spills across his chest. I need to feel his warmth. But when I look up the girl has seen me. She stares at me and in guilt I snatch my hand away. It feels wrong, to show him love in front of her.
"Do not stop on my account."
Her voice shatters the quiet into a thousand pieces and I try to look away but she holds me with her gaze. Why have I never noticed her fierceness before? No wonder Legolas loves her.
"He will welcome your touch, I am sure, to hold him here," she continues. "It is important he feels us, feels our love."
"He has your love. I am sure he needs no other." I try to deflect her, for why does she think I have any love for him anyway? "And I, I merely care for him for my brother's sake, and my nephew's. They would be sorely grieved if they were to lose him. I do not want that."
But she does not accept my deception. She does not release me from her gaze. Instead she attacks.
"I know of the two of you."
And instantly I am terrified. She cannot know. Nobody does. But I remember her words down by the walls, when she told me she knew I could feel Legolas' fea. How did she know that?
"There is no two of us." I reply with a frown, for I am not about to confess this now. She is guessing only. I am sure of it.
"Is it just me you lie to, or do you lie to yourself also?" Is her reply. She leans forward then, across him towards me. "I know it is true. You think after all these years I do not know him? I saw your tears when you thought him lost to us. I saw your love and your grief. You forgot to hide it."
What can I reply to that? It is true. There is no more point in denial.
"He told you?" I am horrified at that. The idea of Legolas telling her about that night, about what passed between us, mortifies me.
"No—" I breathe a sigh of relief at that. "—and that is why I know he loves you. I overheard him speaking with Elladan. That is how I discovered you."
I almost miss it, what she said then. It almost slips past me in my relief he did not rush home to her to spill our secrets. Almost but not quite.
"He does not love me! You speak nonsense. You do not understand. It was nothing, nothing. We faced our deaths and he sought comfort only. I did not know of you or I would not... I would not have, I swear it. Then later when he told me he had another he promised me you would understand."
For some reason I do not want her to think less of me. I do not want her to think me a betrayer, someone who steals love from others.
"And I do." She sits back in her chair once more, never letting go of her hold on Legolas, keeping his hand in hers. "Warrior comfort. It is common practice amongst my people. I would not wish him to go to his death without the touch of another. But this was more than that. For him as well as you."
"It was not! He cannot bear me." I know that. Ever since then Legolas and I have pushed each other away, It is easier to be hurtful and disdainful than to look into his eyes and see nothing there for me.
She looks back at me, with a steady even gaze. She is not afraid of me, nor what I have done with Legolas.
"Have it your way," she says quietly, "I know he loves you."
We are disturbed then in our talk, we can go no further, for in her hand those pale, slender fingers twitch and we both see it. We watch. We hold our breaths in unison and they curl around hers, tightening their grip and she squeezes back.
Our gaze moves to his face for he wakes, and what will he be like?
His eyelids raise, slowly, slowly I can see a glint, a glimpse of the green eyes behind them, until finally those eyes are open, staring at the ceiling. Does he know us? Does he know anything?
"Legolas?" It is Maewen who speaks. She brushes her hand across his cheek. "Legolas? Can you hear me?" And those green eyes slide sideways towards her.
"Maewen" he breathes it softly and my heart lifts for he knows her! "Maewen, I hurt."
She looks up at me then, eyes filled with concern. Elladan, she mouths at me and I leap to my feet, for of course, of course, we need my Brother now. But Legolas sees her look, he follows her gaze and smiles when he sees me, a small smile but a smile all the same.
"Elrohir. . ." It is the first time since that night have I heard him say my name with anything but disinterest or disdain. Could the girl be right? But he lets out a soft moan then so I cannot stay to ponder. He is in pain and I must fetch Elladan.
We stand back, both of us while Elladan works his magic. He gives Legolas sips of what I know from experience will be bitter tasting herbs to dissolve his pain, but not only that. He whispers things we cannot hear to soothe him. He will be embracing him with his calm stillness, undoing the tension and confusion that lingers. I envy both my brothers their healing abilities and I stand in awe of Elladan's talent.
Eventually Legolas sleeps, or we think he does. Drifts is probably a better word for it, but his eyes droop closed and we reclaim our seats beside him. Maewen strokes his head and murmurs to him in thier singsong language. I cannot understand a word of it.
When he opens his eyes again all three of us are surprised.
"Did you see him?" He asks her and she leans forward with a frown.
"See who, Legolas? What do you mean?"
"Laerion." The words is barely a whisper. "He was here. Did you see him?"
And she tenses, her body suddenly all anxiety and worry.
"Legolas," she says it cautiously, "Laerion is not here."
"He was here." Those green eyes open wider, "I saw him, Maewen, and he was just the same. I am sorry you did not."
"Oh, Legolas," she turns her head from him so he cannot see her eyes fill with tears. This talk upsets her. "I did not see him. He has not been here beloved, it was a dream. Nothing but a dream."
"It was not a dream," he whispers but his eyes slip closed again and I can hear her sigh of relief then.
I know the story of Laerion of course. Thranduil's eldest son, killed in the Greenwood. Messages did not travel often between our realms but we did hear of that in Imladris and my grandmother would have known in any case. It is years ago now, of course and I wonder why Legolas speaking of him causes the girl so much distress?
"Estel spoke of Laerion." Elladan says quietly, "His thoughts were confused and most did not make sense to me but he mentioned his name and it is strange Legolas does also."
Maewen looks up in shock.
"You do not think he has truly seen him?"
"You know he was gone," Elladan gestures towards Legolas on the bed. I know you would have felt his absense. Now he is back. They have ventured into the spirit world so is it not reasonable they encountered someone? Why would Estel mention Laerion otherwise? But he was exhausted and I could get no sense from him. He is such a fool—Estel."
At the sound of my brothers name, Legolas' eyes fly open. He was not sleeping as Elladan thought. His gaze flicks back and forth between us, suddenly agitated, and he attempts to pull himself to sit, his good arm curling around his bruised and broken chest as he does so.
"Hush, Legolas, be still!" Elladan is there at once, trying to lay him back, hold him still without hurting him in the process But Legolas will not be held and hauls himself upright shakily.
"Where is Aragorn?" He gasps.
"He is sleeping." Elladan' voice is calm and quiet. "All is well with him, Legolas."
But Legolas will not hear it. He pushes Elladan away, despite crying in pain as he does so. His eyes are wild and panicked as he thrashes.
"Where is Aragorn? I have lost him! I have lost him in the dark!"
"No, no, Legolas you must not fight us." Even Maewen is failing to hold him still as he struggles to be free of us and he will not listen. His panic overwhelms him.
"Aragorn!" His heartbroken calls for my brother bruise my heart to hear. He gasps them between rasping breaths.
"Fetch Estel." Elladan hisses to me. "Fetch him now."
"He will not have recovered, he is unwell himself—"
But Elladan interrupts my protests angrily as he tries to restrain the wild Silvan.
"Just get him, Elrohir, Now!"
And I run.
Update hot on the heels of an update. Two chapters posted in close succession because I had got out of sync with this story while the site was down. So make sure you haven't missed a chapter!
It is a long way from the Healers Halls to the private rooms of the King. Far enough that I am breathless when I arrive, breathless and anxious for the echoes of Legolas' cries for my brother have been with me all the way.
The guard outside the door is alarmed when he sees me.
"My Lord!" He steps in front of me. "Lord Elladan left orders the King not be disturbed."
"And now he has sent me to fetch him. Do you wish to argue with me?" I snap at him, my temper frayed by my anxiety, before I push past banging at the door.
There is a frown upon Arwen's face when she opens it. That is before she see me in my breathless panic and instantly she is alarmed.
"What is it?" She cries, resting her hand upon my arm, "What is it Brother?" I can feel her prodding at my mind. She cannot help it. As much as I rage at her to leave my thoughts be, sometimes she cannot help but search for them and I find myself wondering for a second. . . Does she know of Legolas? Legolas and I?
It is only a second before I catch myself.
"Legolas is awake. He is distressed, he calls for Estel. Elladan has sent me—" I need say no more.
"He has barely slept, Elrohir. He was in a such state before, as I have never seen him. He needs more rest." She protests as I should have known she would.
"This is not up for discussion Arwen! Will you wake him or shall I?" I raise my voice and the guard, standing by the still open door, shuffles anxiously. Still she does not move. She can be stubborn, my sister, especially when it comes to those she loves. But I play my trump card.
"What would he wish? To sleep or to answer Elladan's call for help? To help Legolas!"
"What he wishes is not always what is good for him!" She snaps but she knows she is beaten. She knows Estel would not thank her for turning me away.
I reach out as she turns to fetch him and touch her arm.
"I would not ask unless he was truly needed, Arwen. Legolas is distraught, irrational, he will harm himself and he will not hear us. I know Estel needs rest. I worry for him too."
"I know you do." She sighs softly as she opens the door to their bedroom and disappears inside, "I know."
Estel, when he emerges looks awful. He has obviously just woken and he stumbles as he pulls on his shirt over his tousled hair. Dark shadows ring his eyes and my heart clenches at the sight of him. I truly understand now my sisters reluctance to wake him.
"What is it?" He says as he stands and looks at me with resignation.
"Legolas calls for you, Estel. He is panicked, he believes you lost and not even Elladan can calm him. I would not have woken you otherwise."
His shoulders slump with weariness.
"I knew I should stay with him. I knew it but Elladan would not listen." There is a tension swirling between Estel and Elladan at the moment I do not understand. I wonder what is at the heart of it?
I do not have time to wonder however for Estel is off, pushing past his guard, shrugging off Arwen's worried comments.
"Come," he calls to me, "There is no time to waste." But I notice the slowness of his feet even as he runs, the way they trip on cobblestones he would normally glide over, the heaviness of his step.
We hear Legolas' calls before we even reach the Healing Halls, as heartrending as they were when I left, and Estel picks up his pace, swearing at Elladan under his breath—that my twin does not understand. When we burst through the doors the healers greet him with such relief it is palpable, and hurry us towards Legolas. The cries bother them also; they are so heartrending, how could they not?
Legolas is crumpled on the floor, how he has ever managed to get there I do not know. How did he have the strength? Still it is apparent whatever strength he discovered has now deserted him.
And he sobs.
Beside him is Elladan—bleeding from a cut in his cheek that must be from Legolas—and Maewen, but both of them look almost afraid to touch him. They are helpless in the face of his all-consuming panic.
Estel is straight to him, dropping to his knees in front of him, cupping his face between his hands, lifting it so Legolas has no option but to see him.
"Legolas," he whispers, "I am here."
And Legolas collapses against him,
"Aragorn." The name becomes a sigh of relief rather than a cry of terrible grief.
"I thought you lost!" Legolas gasps it between laboured breaths, "I thought I had mislaid you in the dark and left you there. I thought you gone." The wide-eyed grief upon his face makes him look childlike and alone.
"Hush, hush," Estel pulls him close, buries Legolas' head into his shoulder laying his own cheek upon the pale gold. "I am here, you have not lost me. Elladan brought me back. I am safe and all is well."
And the four of us; Elladan, Maewen, Arwen and I can only stand and watch as the two of them sit, locked in whatever strange experiance it is they have been through together.
Estel is right—we do not understand.
I worry for Legolas as I stand and contemplate the sight before me. I worry for his future, with this deep seated grief on display. I knew his connection with Estel was as one of brothers, I knew he cared for him deeply. That connection is what keeps him here despite the sea-longing after all. But one day my foster brother will be gone. One day he will leave us. It is inevitable, and how will Legolas cope with that? How will he ever survive this soul destroying grief?
How can even sailing heal him of that?
I hope the girl is strong—I know she is, but I hope she is somehow strong enough to carry him through that intact. I worry saving him from the loss of my brother may not be possible,
It is as if all strength leaves Legolas then. It is only Estel who holds him upright. Still he tilts his head back and looks at my brother as they sit upon the floor. Lifting his good arm he touches the dark hollows under Estel's eyes.
"You are not well." He murmurs, as if it is a puzzle he must solve—that Estel does not look his best.
And Estel laughs. A short huff of laughter spills from his lips.
"You can talk, Legolas!"
But Legolas is all confusion. The world does not make sense to him. It is becoming obvious his mind is not itself. Parts of him drift on the breeze. He is scattered and jumbled. A tumble of broken pieces of Legolas which struggle to assemble themselves in the right order.
Suddenly Estel sees this. He cuts his laughter short and brushes away the hair that falls across this child-Legolas' face.
"It was a hard road back," he says softly. "It is exhausting, keeping up with you. Do not worry for me, I will be well. All I need is sleep."
"Then you should get it." Legolas says with a frown. "You are King here are you not. Can you not get them to leave you alone?"
"I wish," Estel smiles, "They never leave me alone because I am King! Especially my brothers." He grins up me, mischievous despite his exhaustion.
"I only woke you to help." I do not know why I feel the need to defend myself. I know he is only teasing.
And Legolas sits watching us, eyes flicking back and forth between us, trying to make sense of what we say, he is open, unguarded, not at all as I know him. He weighs it all up and I am not sure in the ends he understands any of this.
Still he watches me.
"Elrohir. . ." he rolls my name off his tongue as if he examines every part of it. Head tilted his eyes sweep over me, "Elrohir. . ."
He means to say more and a part of me wishes to hear it, but Elladan swoops in then, covering my tracks. Sweeping away whatever this strange, childlike, undefended Legolas might say to betray me. I wish he hadn't, for perhaps he will say he does not despise me after all?
"You need to rest." Elladan says quickly before Legolas can go any further. "You need sleep Legolas and then this will make more sense to you. Come with me." And he lifts him from Estel's arms. Ignoring the Silvan's soft gasps of pain as he does so.
"I hope that is a promise, Elladan," Legolas murmurs as Elladan returns him to his bed, and begins his ministrations. Patching up damage he has already repaired once today. "Because it does not make much sense now."
"Blunt and to the point." Estel grimaces as he pulls himself to his feet and sways once he achieves it. Arwen is there though, in a heartbeat to support him. "You have been spending too much time with Gimli, Legolas and that's the truth."
Instantly Legolas' eyes are wide open, staring.
"Do not tell Gimli of this, Aragorn! He will kill me."
"He will not kill you," Estel moves beside him, pats his shoulder gently, reassuringly. "I am glad to see you have not lost your sense of the dramatic, Legolas. He will kill me, for letting my walls get into such a state they could harm you!"
"He has spent so long trying to educate me, to keep me safe from stone. He told me misunderstanding the rocks and the deep earth was a dangerous state to exist in! I should have known, I should have understood. He will call me foolish, Aragorn!"
"He has called you foolish before, and he will call you foolish again. There is nothing you can do about that Legolas."Estel smiles, "but keeping this from Gimli is not worth my life!"
He soothes Legolas as if he is a child, and in truth, at the moment, he is one. A frightened confused, hurting child who clings to my brother as if his life depends on it. We can only hope that with sleep, and rest, this scattered mind of his will reassemble itself.
Elladan takes over then. Shooing us all away, even Estel. Driving us from Legolas' side while he treats his pain and —I think—sedates him into enforced rest. He will take no more chances with misoverheard words and dream induced confusion.
Estel runs his hands through his hair as we stand and wait outside, sagging against the wall with exhaustion. Truly, looking at him I do not know what it is that keeps him on his feet.
"You should rest, Brother." I tell him, "You are dead on your feet and I worry for you."
"Dead on my feet...." He repeats my words with a hollow laugh, "If you only knew... But how can I rest? You saw him. You saw his confusion. If he wakes again and I am not there what damage will he do?"
"Elladan will ensure he does not wake. For awhile anyway. Stay here if you must, so you are closer but get some sleep!"
He tilts his head back then, to lean it against the stone behind him.
"I think I have never been this tired, that is true." He muses.
"I will stay with Legolas," the girl says and she places a tentative hand upon Estel's arm. I have noticed she is always unsure around my brother. Strange when I now know she is so fierce and determined. "I promise I will call you if he needs you, Elessar."
It is Arwen who finally takes him in hand and of all of us she is probably the only one he will pay any attention to. Arwen, when she is determined, is not to be messed with. She has so much of our Grandmother in her.
"It is decided then." She says firmly. "You will stay here. I will arrange a room." She nods at the hovering healers and they scuttle away, businesslike and purposeful. "You will sleep, and I will be here to make sure you sleep! Maewen will call us if she needs us."
He gives in. And I think, perhaps he is relieved she has taken charge and given him no other option. His exhaustion is strange and unnatural and I wonder—just what have he and Legolas been up to amongst the spirits?
And how did he even achieve it?
The incident Eladrion speaks of in this chapter when he wished to be an elf is described in the story, "What you were Meant to Be"
I find myself alone.
Estel sleeps with the healers and Arwen stands guard. Elladan, my twin, is consumed with Legolas' care and so I do not see him also. Now I know Legolas lives and is safe, although not himself, the burning desire to be
there, to never leave his side, has eased. I realise that is not my place. It is Maewen's, and so I leave her to it. I retreat.
But I have no-one to occupy my time and I am not used to that. Elladan and I are always together and without him I rattle around not knowing what to do with myself. I love Minas Tirith. There is something deep inside me that it sings to. Some hidden, mannish, part of my blood. Normally I like nothing more than to walk it streets and listen to its song, but today I am too battered and bruised to wish to go there alone.
Then I remember the boy.
I should not have taken him down to the walls. It was too traumatic and had I known what awaited us there I never would have. His mother has seen that he is safe. She will have placed him in someone's care but she is with Estel now at the healers and I do not think she will be returning to her son anytime soon. She has to split her time between her two loves.
Eldarion should be with one of his own today. Why did Arwen not ask me to care for him?
Why would she?
The thought of seeking him out is usually an anathema to me but now I find I want to. Perhaps it is because I know Legolas wants me to spend time with him that I go looking for him?
I find him in his rooms, a nursemaid with him and when I nod to her and dismiss her she goes with relief. Watching him has not been a pleasant task for her then.
Eldarion is at the table bent over books and it is a strange thing for he is not a bookish boy. I know so little about him but I know this for I have heard Estel worry over it so often. He wonders why Eldarion shows no interest in study. Why does he have no focus? What should be done about it? It makes me laugh for Estel himself was a hopeless case when it came to study in his younger years. At the age Eldarion is he spent all his energy avoiding it. It seems he has forgotten all about that. The memory has somehow faded in his mind and turned him into a scholar. It is strange the way these mortal memories work!
So when I see Eldarion to all intents and purposes, studying, I know all is not well.
"Go away!" he says when he lifts his head and sees me. "I am busy."
There is an edge to his voice I have not heard before but I ignore it and sit down at the table beside him. I have made him my task and I will not desert my post.
"What are you studying?" My voice is light and conversational, at least I hope it is. I am out of practice at communicating with small boys.
"I do not want you
here." He is determined and stubborn and turns his eyes away to let me know he means his words.
"Do you want some fresh air, Eldarion?" I try again. "We could go to the training fields and practice with the sword if you like." I, for one, would be glad of some physical exercise and I think it would do him good too.
"I do not want to learn the sword." He is defiant. "I will learn to fight with knives. Legolas
will teach me!" His words are meant to hurt and if I am honest, they do. But I wonder what lies behind them. I do not rise to his bait.
"Fighting knives are indeed a fine skill to have but you need to be an expert in many weapons if you are to be a great warrior. You never know when you will need to use a sword."
He snaps then. Pushing his books away angrily so they spill onto the floor with a crash.
"Go away!" He cries, "Will you just go away. I do not want
to talk to you!" He glares at me, eyes flashing. Oh he is so
like his father once was, so much it hurts my heart. But he needs to learn the Sons of Elrond do not give up so easily.
"Have I done something to upset you?" I ask him. "Tell me what it is and I will fix it."
"No!" He turns his eyes away, stares at the table in front of him so fiercely I imagine he could burn a hole through it. "I do not want to train with you. I do not want to do anything with you. Legolas will train me when he is well."
His voice catches and I see it, a single tear sliding down his cheek. I will not be going anywhere now before I make this right.
"Eldarion," I put my hand on his small one, which is clenched into a fist in front of him. "I am sorry I took you to the walls this morning. I should not have. You should not been there. If I had known what awaited us I never would have brought you with me."
Silence sits for a long while between us.
"It is not that." When he speaks his voice is small and tight but it has lost it's anger. "I do not mind that. I am a prince and I should
help!" The pride that he speaks with makes me smile.
"You are a boy." I answer, "You are a boy who loves Legolas and you should not
have had to see that. It was hard for me, and it will have been harder for you." I want to let him know there is no shame in his grief but to my surprise he collapses in floods of tears in front of me.
"It is all my fault!" He sobs, "It is all my fault and Legolas will hate me."
I am astonished. Why? Why would he have come to the conclusion any
of this is his fault?
"Eldarion, hush," I envelop him in my arms and pull him to me. "None of it is your fault. None of it. Legolas loves
you, he will not hate you." But his weeping does not stop.
"I promised he could teach me the bow this morning. I promised
him! But then I went with you.
If I had done what I should have Legolas would be safe. It is my fault he was at the walls."
"No, no," I stroke his hair as he leans against me. It is all coming back, caring for a boy. Memories of consoling Estel in his small boy dramas flood my mind.
I know now why Legolas was where he was this morning. The guards have reported to us. Two frightened children who first raised the alarm have confessed their misdemeanours. Climbing over ancient damaged stone nearly became their undoing.
"Legolas is an adult. He makes his own decisions Eldarion," I say. "He would not like you to blame yourself for his choices. He chose to place himself in danger to save another. If he had not been there a boy would have died today."
"I do not care about that boy! I do not know
Ah, but you must care about him, because he is one of your people. He has a mother who would cry for him just as yours would." As I say that I hope it is true. There is a lot of poverty in this city of Estel's. I know it troubles him. I want Eldarion to care about those people unlucky enough to find themselves caught in its grip, not despise them or veiw them with disdain.
"Legolas cares about him even though he does not know him." I add for I suspect what Legolas thinks probably carries more weight with Eladrion than I do.
I do not let go of him, even as his sobs quiet, instead I cradle his warmth to me, trying to repair the damage I have done him. It is not unpleasant, this closeness which I have been afraid of.
"Have you seen my father?"
Eldarion's question, spoken into the quiet surprises me.
"Yes, I have seen him."
"He was..... He was not well, he could not stand. I could not understand him." The boy looks at me with wide frightened eyes. His tears hovering just under the surface and I realise, too late, he is probably more frightened for Estel than he is for Legolas. He will not know how close we came to losing Legolas. He cannot sense his fea or feel the gaping hole that was left behind in his absense. He knows he is hurt, but he knows also Legolas is strong, immortal, to his eyes perhaps, indestructible.
But Estel? His exhaustion concerns even me. What must it have looked like to this child of his.
And so I soothe him in words he will understand.
"He is sleeping Eldarion, and your mother is with him to keep him safe. Do not worry for him. You have seen you father heal others before. You know it drains him?" He nods seriously. "That is all this is. He is very tired, for Legolas was badly hurt."
I do not speak of the spirit world, or death, or reclaiming souls for I do not know myself what Estel has done and the boy does not
need to know it.
"He will be alright?" He whispers it, "I have been worried."
"He will be alright. I promise."
I think he needs to get out of here. He needs distraction and having made that decision I act upon it, standing in a rush.
"Let us get out of here, Eldarion. We should find something to do you and I. You do not want to study really, do you?"
He hangs his head and twists his hands as he answers.
"I hate it, but I thought....Father wishes me to study and I thought....if I did....perhaps it would mean he would be alright." He has made a bargain with himself. He will sit here and study his books on his own even though he detests it in the hope it may ensure his father's wellness. The idea breaks my heart and I feel a rush of anger at myself. Why did I not come here sooner? He should not have been alone with this.
"I promised you a ride today." I say brightly, "Perhaps we cannot do that now, but how about a walk. . . To the stables perhaps? I need to check on our horses."
"Oh!" His hands fly to cover his mouth in alarm. "Legolas goes every day. He says his horse needs to see him, that it is an elven horse and is not meant to be kept shut up like a prisoner. Now he will not be able to go."
"I check his horse as well then. I know a bit about elven horses." Although not wild Silvan horses
, I think to myself.
"I know what he does! He has taught me." The boy thrusts out his chest with pride. "I can do it for him while Legolas gets well! That will make him proud of me.....although....." His face falls as he thinks of a problem, "I am not allowed to go to the stables by myself."
"Legolas is already
proud of you." I clasp him on the shoulder. Perhaps his feelings of guilt still linger? "But it will be a good thing for you to do for him if the horses are important to him. We
will do it. Every day we will go to the stables together. You and I"
I have just committed myself to spending time with this child everyday. It is exactly what I did not want—and yet, strangly, it feels good. The ice cold fear of loss that usually grips me when I am around him does not appear today.
Being outside in the breeze as we walk is a relief. It lifts my soul, it carries on it the sounds of Men which I love and I revel in them. I throw my arm across the boys shoulders in a rush of feeling, a need to protect. I would like to hold his hand tight. To claim him as my own, my blood. But he is much too old for that, I have missed my chance there.
As we move through the bustling city, my arm around him, I am filled with a rush of memory. Of Estel—of Estel and I and Elladan. Strolls together, just as this, in Imladris. Moments of camaraderie. Estel the boy, the young man, the child who needed our care—he is long gone. It should break my heart , all this memory at once, Eldarion's resemblance to his father, but today it is strangly comforting to remember those feelings long gone.
"What are you thinking?" The boys high voice cuts through my thoughts. I had forgotten the odd questions of boys.
Unguarded by its unexpectedness I tell him exactly what was on my mind.
"I was remembering walking with your father like this when he was small."
He is silent for awhile then, before he replies.
"It is hard when we grow up and you stay the same." He says it as a matter of fact. As something he knows
and it is such an odd response I have to probe him further.
"Why do you say that, Eldarion?"
He is all earnestness as he looks up at me.
"Last year," he says, "when I was young—" he makes me laugh, describing himself as such. . .for he is still
young and yet he speaks as if he has grown to adulthood all in the space of a year. Even Men do not grow that fast! "I thought I could be
an elf, if I just tried hard enough, because my mother is. I wanted to be one—but it did not work. It all went wrong."
I am so curious to know what disaster befell him but he does not tell me.
"Legolas told me then it is not as easy as I thought to be immortal. That we move on and you get left behind and that is hard."
I am astonished they have discussed this subject, it seems one laced with the possibility of disaster to me—and that the boy seems to have grasped the very essence of our problem. How has Legolas achieved that? I wonder if Estel knows he has spoken to the boy about these matters?
He stops then in his tracks, watching me carefully with his large brown eyes before he speaks.
"You do not have to walk with me if it makes you sad." His directness takes my breath away. He forces me to think before I reply.
"It does not make me sad, Eldarion, I am enjoying it."
I smile at him and the bright grin of joy on his face in response give me a glow of good feeling such as I had almost forgotten the love of a child could give you.
And I find that it is true. Walking with him is not a chore, it is not a burden.
I am enjoying
There is no mistaking Legolas' horse when we reach the stables. It is creating havoc, as if it somehow knows it's master is in trouble somewhere. The noise is alarming and the stable boys are pleased to see us.
"My Lord! We cannot calm it." They all turn to me for guidance and to be honest I am at a loss. I am used to fine, solid Noldor horses not wild crazed Silvan ones such as this.
Eldarion does not miss a beat however. He collects straw and heads to the stall as if the horse is not trying to kick the thing down. I grasp tight at his shirt collar as he passes me.
"Where do you think you are going?"
"To the horse," he says as if it is self evident. "It is sad and lonely. I must tell him Legolas is alright."
"Eldarion! That horse will hurt you! Legolas himself would not let you in there."
"Oh, he would." The boy has so much confidence. "Because it likes me."
He calls to the horse then, but not in Westron or in Sindarin. He uses Legolas' strange language, whatever Silvan dialect that might be, and I am astonished. I am even more so when the horse quiets. It slows its stomping, subdues the noise to a soft huff of breath, how did he do
"Eldarion, do you know the dialect Legolas speaks? Has he taught you?" It a strange and amazing concept to me, hearing those unusual elven words from a small mortal boys mouth.
"No," he shakes his head and his bottom lip sticks out, ever so slightly. I think he is a bit put out by that. "He says he must have some
way to speak with Maewen and Erynion of grown up things when I am near. He will not teach me. But I know what to say to the horse...he has taught me that. I do not know what it means though."
So Legolas has his secrets and does not wish everyone to know what he says. Somehow the idea of that does not surprise me.
"He will not teach Father either." Eldarion continues, "Father is annoyed with that but Legolas will not do it!"
I watch as he walks with confidence to the now quiet horse who turns his head to nuzzle the boy when he arrives. It is obvious they have met before and the horse knows him well. I watch as Eldarion murmurs again in that strange language, strokes that magestic head, and feeds him hay. He is well trained in this, Legolas has taught him well. How much time and energy has he poured into this small boy to nurture him and help him grow? He puts me to shame.
I leave them alone then, for it obvious Eldarion was right. He is quite safe. I go instead to tend my own horse, mine and Elladan's. When I finally return the boy has let himself into the horse's stall and grooms the beast with firm, sure strokes and I call to him.
"It is late, Eldarion. We must be getting back."
"Yes," he replies promptly but I can tell he is unhappy, his voice dejected, not the confident boy I just left.
"What is wrong?" Does he still
worry he had some part in today's terrible accident?
He drops his brush, leans up against the horse, his forehead pressed against its side.
"I wish I could fix Legolas."
"Elladan will fix Legolas, do not worry Eldarion. He is a talented healer." He is obviously more concerned for Legolas than I had realised and he has hidden that well. "Come here,"
I pull him towards me as he walks out of the stall, holding him tight against my chest.
"You must not worry for him. He is an elf, and strong. He would not wish you to worry so."
But he shakes his head still buried up against me.
"It is not that." His voice is muffled through my clothes, "There is something wrong with him. He is not happy and Mother and Father worry. They always worry about him and talk about him when they think I do not listen. It is to do with the sea, and he talks of the sea always
Elrohir. They hate it. . . I know."
Have they not explained the sealonging to Eldarion then? That surprises me. Do they think him too young to understand? Do they think he does not notice it? They do him a disservice if they do. For a moment I wonder. . . Should I pursue this? Or should I fob the boy off with platitudes? I do not think he would believe them if I did.
"Have you heard of the sealonging, Eldarion?" I decide to push on, to go with my instincts and speak of it.
"No." He lifts his head to look at me with wide eyes.
"We will talk then as we return." I guide him out of the stables onto the streets outside. "Tell me what you know of Valinor." I ask him. We will start this at the beginning.
"My Grandfather is there. It is the Elven home across the sea." He says confidently. Mother has told me of that
!" As if I am an imbecile to think he did not know it.
"Yes indeed, and we, the Noldor, came from there to return to Arda. Do you know of Feanor? Of Fingolfin?" I should know the answers to these questions. It is disappointing that I do not. It should have been me—and Elladan—teaching him of our heritage.
"Yes, yes," he grows inpatient. "I know that! All their names sound the same, those people. They are hard to remember but I know it."
I must tell him these stories the way a small boy will
remember them for they are stories of heroes and princes and I know I can make them interesting for him, not simply a chain of strange semifamiliar names. Still now is not the time.
"The Sindar have never been to Valinor. . . they chose not to go to see the light of the trees but still it reels them in and so some of them hear the call of the sea. It is not really the sea, it is Valinor calling them to the other side. The Silvans—they prefer the land, the Noldor—we have already seen the tree's light, or our ancestors have. It is the Sindar the sea calls for most loudly."
He stops in his tracks to stare up at me in horror.
"You mean Legolas wants to leave? He will leave!"
"No! Legolas does not
want to leave. He wants to remain here, in Arda with your father. He will not leave, but the sea calls to him regardless and he ignores it. That is what makes him unhappy. That is why, sometimes, he cannot hear you. Because of the sounds of the sea in his ears. It is not easy to ignore and few elves ever have. But you cannot fix it Eldarion. None of us can. He must just learn to live with it for as long as he stays here."
"That makes me sad." He drops his head as we push our way through the crowds. "We cannot make him happy then?"
make him happy Eldarion. You do!"
"Do you have the sealonging, Elrohir?"
Why does he ask me that? What makes his mind arrive at that conclusion? Has he heard nothing I just said?
"No, Eldarion. I am Noldor.
The sealonging is a Sindarin ailment. You must understand Legolas and I are not the same."
"But you are not just
Noldor, Elrohir. I know that. Father makes me look at charts, with names and more names and some of them are Sindarin."
He is right, of course. I am not just Noldor. It is how I see myself, a mix of Noldor and Man but there is more to me than that. I simply never turn my mind towards my Sindarin side. He makes me stop to think and a small, insignificant worry twitches at the back of my mind but I cannot pin it down. Sindarin or not I do not have the sealonging. I can reassure him of that at least.
"No," I say firmly leaving no room for doubt, "No I do not have the sealonging, Eldarion. I do have Sindar blood, yes, but the sealonging does not bother me. I have even been to Dol Amroth. No sealonging!"
He grips my hand then, as we walk along and holds it tight. It is what I wished for earlier but thought he was too old to allow it.
"I am glad," he says, "I do not want you to leave."
He loves me, he needs me, and I bask in it.
We are hungry and tired when we arrive back at the palace but our welcome is not a happy one. We are met by my sister in the corridors as we make our way towards Eldarion's rooms and she is furious.
"Where have you been?" She pulls Eldarion from my side and wraps her arms around him, looking up at me as she does so, "Where did you take him?" She asks me. "We have been frantic!"
"We went to the stables, Mother." Eldarion attempts to placate her, "to see Legolas' horse. For Legolas cannot go himself and you know he goes there everyday. Elrohr said it was something we could do to help him."
"Elrohir said?" She spits the words at me, "really?" Still she softens her voice as she turns back to the boy. "You are right, Eldarion," I watch as she tousles his untamed curls with her hand, "Legolas will be pleased you have done that." She holds him close and I can see the tremble of her hand as she does so. She has been frightened and that was the last thing I wanted to happen.
"Elrohir says we shall go there every day until Legolas is well."
She smiles at her boy, gently, filled with love, as she bends down towards him.
"But you must be hungry for it is late and I have come to eat with you. Hurry along to your room. I will be there soon. I have asked them to bring food there for us."
He grins back, happy to see her, happy to have some equilibrium restored to his world.
"Will you come too, Elrohir?" He asks me.
"Perhaps not Elrohir." Arwen cuts across me before I can even plan my reply. "He is busy."
And she glares at me. It is never comfortable being on the wrong side of Arwen.
She turns to me when she has busied the boy on his way and watched him disappear around the corner and her eyes flash dangerously. She is all Galadriel now.
"You told no one where you were going with him. I returned and could not find him. Can you imagine how that was, Elrohir?"
"You must have known he was with me. I told the nursemaid—you know he is safe with me."
"Do I?" She cries, "Do I? You do not even know him. I trusted him to your care this morning and you took him to see Legolas be crushed to death! Why was he there, Elrohir? Have you any idea—" her words choke off with a gasp of grief. So that is what this is about.
"I know I was wrong," I hold my hands up before me in supplication. "He should not have been there. Do you think if I had known what awaited us I would have taken him? It was an error."
"Do not tell me I should trust my child with you again!" She hisses.
I understand I was wrong to take him there when I did not know why they called us. And I understand her anger, for the boy is beyond precious to her but still, that hurts and is unfair. It has been a long day and I react with an anger of my own.
"I found him here—" My voice is tight and harsh, "—alone, Arwen. Studying his books because he believed that might save his father. He was terrified for Estel. One of us needed to be with him, someone who loved him, not a servant. I
did that! I took him away as a distraction from his fear! He was
safe, he will always be safe with me!"
And her anger bleeds away, her shoulders slump and I see instead her pure exhaustion.
"I can not be with them both," she rubs her forehead with her hand in tiredness. "I know he needs me, but then who will watch Estel? If I am not there he will never get the rest he needs. He is not well, Elrohir, and I am torn in two. I cannot be both places at once."
I am instantly sorry for her. I hold out my arms and she falls into them. We are transported back through the years. She is my little sister once again, not a Queen of Men, and I am her rock. I will protect her till the end.
"Tell me what I can do. Where do you want me? I can stay here with Eldarion or I can sit with Estel until you return. Just tell me Arwen and I will do it."
"Ah, Elrohir," she sighs. "I can always rely on you." She pauses, only briefly, "Would you sit with Estel? Really? I want to eat with Eldarion, put him to bed and see he is safe. Tomorrow
will be easier."
I will do it as well if you need it."
She is crying then. Silent tears soaking in to my shoulder.
"What is it?" I murmur confused, for I thought I had just eased her burden not made it harder.
"I know you felt it. We all did." She answers though her tears, voice shaky. "The empty blackness when he left us. If we had lost him. . . I do not know what I would do, Elrohir. It is too terrible to think of." She speaks of Legolas now. "I am so alone here sometimes. Estel is here but there are none of my own. It is isolating." She looks up at me and I brush her wet cheeks dry. "Then Legolas will come, always when it is hardest and I am loneliest. He is sunshine and light to me. You have no idea—" She stops. But she does not need to go on. I can imagine it. . .her feelings of isolation, the oasis of Legolas. Another elf who understands her more than these mortals can. Another fea.
"You should go to Ithilien," I say.
"Estel cannot. He is busy, he cannot go more than he does."
"Then go yourself. You and Eldarion, perhaps. When you are lonely, go. Spend time with the Silvans, the Sindar, Legolas' people." She has always been happier amongst them, as she was in Lothlorien. And she sighs heavily.
I will speak to Estel about this I decide. When he is recovered. We will talk seriously about my sister, and enabling her to get the elven company she needs.
"I must go." She withdraws from my embrace and wipes her eyes. "Eldarion is waiting. Thank you, Brother. Thank you for being there when I need you, as always. I will not be long" She wipes her eyes dry and turns away and I long to make it all right for her and yet I can no longer.
"Take as long as Eldarion needs. It is no burden to sit with Estel." It is the best I can offer her.
"Oh Elrohir," she smiles over her shoulder before she disappears from view. "Let them know when you take Eladrion from the palace next time, please.
Legolas is a nightmare at that as well. The number of times we have had to launch a search party. He never remembers!"
She can always make me smile.
It is peaceful sitting next to Estel, watching him sleep. Wallowing in memory as I have been during my time with Eldarion, it brings to mind evenings spent watching over him as a child. Memories I have run from, but which—tonight—are not unpleasant.
Elladan breaks the peaceful silence of the room when he enters, quietly but noticeably. He looks tired.
"Do not wake him," I tell him, "or you will have Arwen to deal with and she is channeling our Grandmother tonight," and he chuckles.
"Has she bent your will to force you to stay here? Threatened you with dire consequences? Manipulated your mind?"
"No." I duck my head remembering my exhausted sisters unhappiness. "Tears were all it took."
"That does not sound like Grandmother to me." He pulls up a seat beside me then, as his teasing turns quickly to concern. "Tears?"
"Well, before the tears she was all Galadriel. She is simply tired brother. Tired and worried. I came here to ease her burden, so she can be with her child without worry."
"Ah..." he leans back with a sigh, "We are all tired."
He certainly looks it, now I look at him closely. He has obviously drained himself.
"You should rest, yourself," I tell him with a frown.
"That will not be happening anytime soon, Brother. Leave Legolas as he is? I do not think so."
"He is sleeping? Surely that will last at least long enough for you to rest."
"I have no idea and I cannot risk it. I have no idea about anything to do with him. I can heal his injuries easily enough. . .but damage to the fea? I am at a lost as to where to begin with that."
"Damage to the fea?" I lean forward and have to catch myself from raising my voice too loud in my anxiety. "What do you mean?"
"The confusion. . .that grief we saw, That is not Legolas." He looks grim as we discuss this. "At least—perhaps it is. . .perhaps that is the real extent of the grief he carries for Estel, but we would never see it. Never."
"He had just woken. Confusion from a head injury—it is not unheard of Elladan." I do not understand his concern. Perhaps tiredness is affecting his judgement?
"He has no injuries to his head, Elrohir. His arms took the blow. He suffocated under there. . .and yes there will be problems after that. But this—" He leans forward towards me, all intensity. "How does he feel
to you? I know you have a bond. I know you can reach his fea."
"Scattered," I say, "jumbled, as if he is in pieces but—"
"Yes!" Elladan will not let me finish. "That is what I mean, jumbled. And how do I unjumble him?"
"It will heal. He will wake and it will have lessened, Elladan, you are overthinking." I am worried for him for he overstates this surely. It is not that unexpected after such an injury, and I try to reassure him. "He knew Maewen and I as soon as he woke. He spoke of the rocks, he remembers that. All of that is good Elladan. The hysteria over Estel . . . Not that unexpected surely. It is obvious something has happened beyond here
between the two of them."
"Yes." Instantly Elladan shuts down. His face stern, his words harsh. "Something has happened. I will be speaking to Estel about that when he wakes. He can face the consequences for what he has done." He is angry and I cannot imagine why.
"Elladan—" But my brother pushes back his chair suddenly not letting me finish.
"I must get back to him." He says, "I have been too long away."
"Make sure you get rest yourself." I call after him as he leaves, for that must be what is wrong here. Tiredness is causing him to worry unnecessarily. Sleep will enable him to see more clearly. I only hope he takes the opportunity to look after himself when he can get it.
I decide, sitting there watching Estel sleep as I wait for Arwen, that I must stay away from Legolas. The challenge the girl gave me as we sat beside Legolas, her eyes flashing as she told me what she knew, must have been a warning. She tells me she knows of us—that she knows of my love for him—and truly I was too obvious down by the walls when I thought him lost, and she means Stay away, he is mine.
I do not blame her. I would do the same in her position.
I cannot help but take a glance through his door as I leave. He is asleep and quiet, peaceful compared to the hysteria of earlier and the girl sits beside him. She is singing to him, so soft I cannot discern the words though I would not know them anyway for I can hear enough to know it is their woodland dialect she sings. She strokes his hair and sings and it is beautiful to watch. Truly I have no place here.
And so I stay away but that does not mean he is not all I think of.
I hang off every word Elladan says —when he manages to escape the Healing Halls. The next day it is good news. When Elladan arrives in our rooms that evening he is exuberant. Things have gone well. Legolas is awake and calmer. He knows Maewen and Estel and holds a sensible conversation. My brothers relief is obvious.
"He is so much better than I anticipated," he smiles. "We may be lucky yet!"
his worry was only weariness speaking.
"So he is himself?" I need
to know, I eat up piece of news Elladan feeds me.
"Clumsy." Elladan says, "He lacks his normal grace. His coordination is . . . lacking. But I expected as much, damage suffered when he could not breathe. It will mend quickly. You should come and see him Elrohir. He is asking for you."
"No." I turn my head so my eyes will not give me away. "He has enough people around him. He does not need me added to the mix."
for you Elrohir. He asked me where you were. He wants you there. Did you not see how he looked at you when you were speaking to Estel yesterday? If I had not interrupted him he would have given the both of you away!"
"All the more reason for me to stay away then." Elladan has unwittingly handed me the perfect excuse. "Until we are sure he is more controlled, less vulnerable."
As it turns out that first day is the calm before the storm. A ray of light before it all goes wrong. The next morning the sealonging has returned.
It has returned with a vengeance.
I do not know this of course until late evening when Elladan arrives gaunt and hollow-eyed. I have spent my day happily with Eldarion as I promised, walking to the stables, caring for the horses, enjoying his company all the while believing Legolas heals and all is well. One look at Elladan as he collapses into a chair beside the fire tells me all is not well at all.
"What is wrong?" I am alarmed by his tiredness and his obvious misery.
"The sealonging is back." He says rubbing his eyes, "and it is worse than I have ever seen it. It ravages him."
"You will be able to rein it in." I am confident. After all Elladan has dealt with Legolas' sealonging before successfully, even when he first acquired it and it was a wild thing. "Remember at the Black Gate? When we had triumphed and he collapsed with it? You treated him then, Elladan."
"I have been trying,
Elrohir!" He snaps at me. "He is so miserable. It seizes any weakness and Legolas is weak indeed at the moment. I am making little progress."
I frown then in consternation.
"How does it affect him? What do you mean, it seizes weakness? How does it show itself?"
"If you would come and see
him, Elrohir, you would know the answers yourself."
But I cannot see him. I cannot.
They call for Elves from Ithilien. I assume Estel sent for them immediately Legolas was injured. . .or Maewen did. They arrive the next morning, a solemn, quiet group so unlike how woodelves usually are. There is no bright laughter, no mischievousness. They are lead by Legolas' second in command. I know who he is. I have met him before here in Minas Tirith—Erynion they call him.
I see him later with the girl. It is so strange, and makes me wonder. . .
I am in Estel's library searching through shelves of dusty books in the vain hope there might be something here that will help Elladan, but this is a Mannish library, not Elrond's great store of knowledge. If only we were home I could find something but there is nothing here.
The woodelves, I think, have come looking for the same thing, the same reason. They do not see me when they enter as I sit behind piles of books just around the corner. But I can see them.
There will be nothing here, Erynion." Maewen sounds dejected. All that fight and fire has left her. "What do Men care for maladies of the Sindar?"
"We have to try something." He replies gently. "It is destroying him. He will have to sail. . ."
"I cannot let him go," she whispers, "I cannot," her voice breaks and as I watch his hand ghost across her shoulder as if he wants to touch her, and she leans towards him as if she wants it too but they do not touch. Always there is space between them. It is as if—
I shake my head. You are imagining things, Elrohir,
I tell myself, and it is unfair for there is nothing untoward between them truly. It is all in my head.
Still when they finally leave the look of sadness on his face as he watches her go makes me wonder.
So nothing improves. It only gets worse, and Elladan, everytime I see him, looks more exhausted. My resolution to stay away wavers and I begin to think Elladan is right. I need to pay Legolas a visit and see how bad things have become myself. It is Eldarion, in the end who convinces me.
He is subdued on our latest trip to the horses. His shoulders slump and he does not join in my conversation. I have taken to telling him stories of the great ones in our family as we walk. Exciting stories of Princes fighting evil and he laps them up. Usually I cannot get a word in edgeways for his questions but not this day. Today he is silent and morose.
"What is wrong?" In the end I have to ask for it is obvious something
is. "Something bothers you today, Eldarion. What is it?"
"Mother took me to see Legolas." He says downcast.
"Well that is good!"
"It was not," He is on the verge of tears. "I do not think he even saw me. He did not notice me, but he shouted at my Father as if he hates him. I said hello but he ignored me, he did not want me there. I told him about the horses and he did not even care." The tears fall then, silent, silver tracks upon his cheeks and it breaks my heart.
And it is so unlike Legolas . . . to hurt the boy deliberately? I cannot even imagine it possible of him. And why is he angry with Estel?
"He is unwell, Eldarion." It is the best I can do. "He is not himself and he does not mean it. Of course he cares that you look after his horse for him."
"That is what Mother said," His voice wavers as he speaks, "She says it is the sea whispering falsehoods in his ear. She can hear it but she cannot stop it. It is not fair
"No. It is not fair." I agree and I take his hand in mine, "but let us go and make sure when the sea ceases it's whispering and Elladan cures him, Legolas has a fit and happy horse to ride."
"Will he cure him?" He is all wishful child as he asks.
"Of course!" I let no doubt enter my voice but as I think of my twin, his exhaustion and his defeated spirit I wonder if I am wrong.
One thing is obvious.
I have stayed away long enough. I must see for myself how bad things have become.
The scene where Elladan tells Legolas of his sealonging can be found in Hands of the King
When Elladan returns that evening he is beyond weary. He can barely stand.
"Things are bad." I say as he slumps into a chair by the fire. It is not a question but a statement.
"Worse than bad." He answers, "I am at my wits end. I have tried everything."
"I saw Eldarion today, and he was upset. Truly the way he described Legolas was terrible."
"Arwen never should have taken him there," Elladan says with a frown. "but she hoped he could perhaps reach Legolas where we could not. It only hurt the boy."
"Reach him?" I wonder what he means by that.
"He shuts himself away in the dark with only the sounds of the sea for company. He will not respond to any of us." I remember then Eldarion saying he thought Legolas did not even know he was there—but there was more.
"Eldarion said Legolas argued with Estel. He said he shouted as if he hates him. What is that? Why should he be angry with Estel? What has he done?"
"What has he done?" Elladan lifts his head and his eyes suddenly flash with an anger of his own. "Why should Legolas be angry? For the same reason I am angry with him!"
I have known there is something swirling between Elladan and Estel but I have not known what.
"Why, Elladan? Ever since Legolas returned to us you have been tense with Estel. Why?"
Elladan is on his feet then and furious. His anger burns despite his exhaustion.
"Why? Because he never should have bought him back. He meddled in things he does not understand and Legolas suffers the consequences."
"You cannot mean that, Elladan. Not bring him back?.... how could you want that?"
"Because he is not meant to be here, Elrohir. It was selfish. . . Completely selfish of Estel. All it means for Legolas is the sealonging and it is such a terrible burden. He had a chance for peace, a chance to be free of it and heal, a chance not to have it dogging his every step, weighing him down, destroying his happiness. A chance to be Legolas again and Estel has stolen it from him and sentenced him to this! You have no idea what it is like, Elrohir, no idea—" His voice catches then and he stops. For a moment I think he will cry.
And Eldarion's words from before float through my mind.
"Do you have the sealonging, Elrohir?"
For there is a part of me that is Sindar and there is a part of my brother that is Sindar also. Suddenly it is crystal clear, why Elladan is so very, very, angry and it freezes the heart of me.
"You have the sealonging." I gasp it for it feels as if I do not even have the air in my lungs to breathe.
And Elladan looks away, but not before I see the guilt and the truth of it written all over his face. I do not need to search his thoughts to know the answer.
"Elladan!" I grasp his hand and pull him back towards me. "How long? How bad is it? Why have you not told me?" I have so many questions.
For awhile he does not answer. He simply looks at me and his eyes are full of grief.
"I did not want to affect your choice. I did not wish you to make a decision which was dependant on me."
"How can it not be dependant on you? It always has been." The true horror of what this means accosts me for he will surely sail now and I have not decided what I will do. The land calls me, this place, my sister, my Dunedain ancestors. I had thought I might stay. But no longer.
How can I leave them all behind?
I cannot—but then how can I leave my twin behind?
That is even harder.
And I realise something,
"Legolas knows this. Legolas knows and not me. Arwen, Estel, Father, Grandmother, do they all know? Am I the only one in the dark?" I wonder how I have been so blind, for now I know it is so obvious. I can smell the seasalt on him.
"Estel and Arwen do not know." Elladan says firmly "and I do not want them to. Father. . . He may have realised but we never spoke of it, Grandmother . . . Well of course. It is impossible to hide anything from her. She strips you bare."
"And Legolas." I say it bitterly, " Of course, Legolas." For some reason it hurts deeply that he should know and I do not.
"I told him at the Hornburg," Elladan says gently, "When we arrived. You remember there was upset about him possibly following us through the Paths of the Dead. They believed Grandmother's prophecy to mean his death. I told him then I thought there could be another meaning. That it could be the sealonging. I thought he deserved to know it might be that she saw. I did not mean to tell him of myself, Elrohir, but he saw right through me as you have done. It was not a deliberate secret between us. It is not something we discuss. He has never raised it, never asked how mine might differ to his."
"And does it?" He has just described an horrendous agony for Legolas. Is it like that for him as well? "Is it the same for you as it is for him?"
"No." He shakes his head adamantly. "Mine is gentler, softer, lessened by the mix of my blood I think. But it is still hard to bear at times and the longer I turn from it the harder it is to ignore. Not like Legolas . . . Not like him. I am tired though." He sits down heavily, his head in his hands. "It is so wearying. How could Estel ever bring Legolas back to this?"
I realise then I have not seen my brother, not truly seen him for a long time. I have not studied the heart of him or I would have seen this. He is always there. Sweet Elladan, gentle Elladan. Picking up the pieces of my catastrophes, smoothing out the worst of my wild moods. He is my quiet support, always at my back, my brother. And I have not noticed him. I have taken his help, his love, his support and walked away giving nothing in return not even a glance.
But I see him now.
I see his tiredness, his exhaustion, the way he bends under his burden. His weariness at remaining in a world which no longer holds any joy for him, the price he pays for fighting for Legolas when he, himself, is drowning. I see it all. How could I have been so blind.
I should be angry he has kept this from me for how could he? How could he not tell me something this important? But how could I not notice it myself?
"Are you angry Estel has bought Legolas back, or that he is here, making it harder for you to sail?" I ask.
"Do not be ridiculous, Elrohir. That would mean I was angry for him being who he is. He cannot help his mortality."
"That he takes Arwen then, for if you knew she would be following it would be easier for you to let go of Arda."
"We dealt with that years ago," he sighs, "You know we did. She makes her own decisions. I cannot blame Estel for them. I am angry because Legolas is suffering, only I know how he suffers every day and he should be free of it. He had his chance to be free of it.....and at the moment I wish I was free of it"
I rub his shoulder, trying to ease some of the tension out of those knotted muscles. I feel helpless and it is a strange feeling because I always, always know how to help my brother when he needed it.
"What can I do?"
"Nothing," He rubs his eyes. He is so weary. "Just be Elrohir. You always quieten the song of the sea. I do not know why. You always have." It is a relief to know that at least. Perhaps I must spend every moment of my time at his side to keep him safe from this? I have always envied Elladan his talent for healing. If only I were a healer. If only I could cure him.
"You must do what it is you wish," he says eventually, breaking the silence we have fallen in to. "I want that for you. I know this land calls to you. I know your Mannish blood sings loudly and you love them best of all. I do not want to tear you from that if that is what you need. Even if you chose mortality in the end we will meet again one day. I know it."
He has acquired this idea from our father, who has always insisted to us he would see his twin again, who could never admit Elros was forever lost to him. Who gathered his extensive library at Imladris searching for the proof but never found it. Because it does not exist.
I understand Father's need to believe it but I do not believe it myself. I have pitied my father the loss of his twin but I never imagined I may face that same loss myself. Elladan is clutching at straws. He is fooling himself but he does not fool me.
And I cannot imagine a lifetime of separation from him. He is right. I am not ready to leave Arda and may never be, but I cannot leave him who is the other half of myself.
"I promise I will make the choice I most need," I say. "The one fate has steered me to." If it will ease his heart to hear that, I will say it but the truth is it may be his fate that steers me.
"You need to see Legolas." He changes the subject abruptly. "He is a part of your fate and you need to see him whether you like it or not. He has asked for you endlessly, Elrohir."
"He is a part of my fate but I am not a part of his. Still you are right," I finally admit it. "I need to see him, but it is complicated. The girl—"
"The girl is more understanding than you realise." He replies but he did not see her fire, and her warning to me.
I stand then, moving from his side for he needs to sleep and all I do is delay that.
"Have you eaten, Elladan? I shall fetch you something. And then you shall sleep, and if my presence here deafens the sea for you then I will stay."
"It does." He sounds half asleep already.
So I find a boy to fetch him food and drink. Today is the day I begin to help him and make up for my foolish blindness.
I am only gone but a moment, a few minutes at the most. But when I return he is already asleep and so he has not eaten, so how will he find the strength he needs for tomorrow?
Yet again I am too late.
I stay with Elladan while he sleeps and watch him. I try to imagine never seeing his face again. I remember that agonising ache of emptiness at the disappearance of Legolas' fea. How dark and empty would my world be without the feel of Elladan in my mind? If he sailed and I did not would he be gone as irrevocably as Legolas was? Would it feel as if a part of me was amputated? Is it even possible for the two of us to exist apart?
At the moment it does not feel like it. The idea of it is beyond comprehension.
I have always known my father had a twin and that twin was lost to him. I never stopped to consider what that really meant. He was there, he lived, he put one foot in front of the other and continued on. I think he was happy, at least sometimes . . . But now, with the reality of that confronting me I wonder, how did he do it?
His insistence that one day he would see Elros again in the face of the overwhelming obviousness he would not, makes more sense. Without believing that how could he go on? He was a brave man my father, braver than I knew for I do not think I could go on for so much as a day without Elladan . . . But what about what I need myself? What about the pull the blood of Men has upon me?
When Elladan finally wakes all is awkward between us as it rarely is. The knowledge of what he has told me is at the forefront of my mind. All I can think of is the possibile separation from him and my utter, utter failure to see the sealonging before now. I have let him down badly and I do not know how to fix that.
He, on the other hand is apologetic. He says "I am sorry," so many times I lose count. Sorry for hiding it from me? Sorry for having the sealonging in the first place and therefore imposing it on my life? None of it is his fault.
Suddenly we do not know how to "be" with each other and it is so unlike us.
At least he seems rested after his sleep and if I have aided him somewhat in that I am glad, but when he leaves to find breakfast before he returns to Legolas it is a relief. Seeing Elladan today, knowing he will one day leave, is breaking my heart.
I wonder what I have done in my life to deserve this fate. Elladan has the sealonging. Legolas has the sealonging. Do the gods hate me to inflict it upon two that I love? Why could I not yearn to go to Valinor as they do instead of the reluctance I do
feel? I know I want to be with Elladan but I do not want to leave.
I pace the room, turn it over and over in my mind. It has been all I have thought of for hours. The door—when it slams open with a crash—is a complete surprise and I spin around in alarm.
It is the girl.
She stands there, eyes flashing, and confronts me. No introduction, no politeness. These woodelves are so unpredictable.
"What is your Choice?" She spits it at me and I am taken aback. Why does she ask this now? Why does she ask it at all?
"That is not your business," I snap back, "and I wonder why you would ever
think it was. Do not barge into my room and attack me!"
my business! You are a child of Elrond. You have his choice ahead of you. Have you made it? I will not let you hurt him. I will not
do this if mortality is to be your destination. He has enough grief already. I will not stand aside and allow you to place more at his door."
What does she mean—stand aside?
"I assume you speak of Legolas, but my choice is not his business either!" It is not, it is not, it is not, I tell myself. It is everything
to do with Elladan and I and nothing
to do with Legolas.
for you!" she cries, "He drowns in the sealonging. It overwhelms him and there is nothing any of us can do! Where are
"It is not my place—" She will not let me finish. She is so angry.
"He begged me last night to fetch you. He could stand it no longer, and he says you can burn it away. You can lock it up. . . Have done it before . . . And yet you are not there!"
What she says makes no sense. It makes no sense at all.
"You mean Elladan." I say, "Elladan is the healer. Elladan has helped with Legolas' sealonging. I only support him. Elladan is the one you want." She has obviously confused us. It happens often.
"Oh, I think Legolas would know which of you he wants, do you not? I think he knows you well enough to tell you apart. He asked for you.
He says it is you
who can help him." Her voice drips in sarcasm as she mocks my denial.
"He is not
"He cannot mean me." What does he mean, I can burn the sealonging away? I have no ability to do that. I have never
done that. Elladan's words from the night before echo around my mind. He said I quietened his sealonging, when I have not even known he had it. Could she be right?
"Listen to me!" She reaches out and grabs my arm. "I know you are afraid." she says, not allowing me time to protest. "I was also, when I heard of he and you. Afraid he would leave me. But then he left us both and that destroyed you as much as it did me. He will leave us again Elrohir if you cannot fix this. But I swear, I will take him to Valinor myself, even if it means he must go to heal in the garden of Lórien and be lost to us forever as Miriel was. I will take him there rather than let you get closer to him if you mean to choose mortality."
She smiles then, a small wry smile as she see the look of surprise on my face.
"What?" she sticks her chin out definately, "You did not think I knew the stories of your people? You think me ignorant? You are surprised I know of Miriel? Thranduil does not allow his people to live in ignorance. It is you Noldor who are the ignorant ones who know nothing of us for we know everything of you."
She is so feisty, so determined, so protective of Legolas I cannot help but admire her. She leaves me speechless but it does not matter. She does not give me time for a reply.
"Think on what I have said. Help him if you will. Stay away from him if you mean to follow your sisters path. And believe me, I will
do what I must to save him and that will mean you lose him in the end."
Then she is gone, spinning on her heels and striding out the door as abruptly as she arrived. Leaving me stunned, confused and no closer to knowing what I should do.
In the end I go to my sister.
I know what I should
do, but the choice ahead of me seems so huge, so final, so . . . Forever. How do you do that? How did she?
But I am not able to ask her. She has her hands full and the time to discuss our choices is not now.
The glass that shatters against the wall as I enter Estel's rooms makes me jump. It is near me although not aimed at me, but close enough to be disquieting.
"Not keen to see me?" I ask, only half joking for it is not like Estel to indulge in such fits of anger. It worries me.
"Elrohir, I did not . . . That was not aimed at you."
He looks terrible, and Arwen stands beside him, a hand upon his arm as if she holds him upright, her face grim. There will be no talking to her in private now.
"Who was it aimed at then?"
"Myself, if I am honest." He sinks into the chair behind him, utterly miserable, his head in his hands. "I have made such a mess of this. Elladan is right. I should have left well enough alone."
"Elladan?" For a moment I am confused but then I remember my conversation with Elladan of the night before. This is all about Legolas. "If you speak of Legolas, brother," I reply, "I think, perhaps there are other things upsetting Elladan and possibly his anger is more to do with himself than with you." I wish I could tell him of Elladan's sea-longing. That his extreme reaction to what has happened to Legolas is —I think—more about the situation he finds himself
in than anything else. But I cannot tell Estel. That is Elladan's secret to tell.
Estel does not listen to me anyway.
"Legolas hates me." He mutters into his hands.
"He does not hate
you," Arwen murmurs, as she leans over gently pulling his head to rest against her. "He is not himself. He does not mean what he says." And I wonder . . . What has
he said to upset Estel like this?
"He does not want to be here, Brother." Estel looks up at me as he continues. "He rages at me. Screams that I have bought him back only to more pain. That I have stolen his brother from him. That there is nothing here for him. He hates
me Elrohir. He is vicious . . .and I wonder if he is not completely right."
It is shocking to hear. No wonder he looks as bad as he does and I do not know what to say to console him.
"He asked you to bring him back. Estel ." Arwen says firmly. "It was his suggestion. You told me that."
"And I should have said no! I should have listened to his brother. It was selfish . . . Elladan is right, I only thought of myself in this."
"Legolas' brother is dead." I say it numbly, because it is not right, what Estel has just said. He could not
have met him.
It is Arwen who answers. Arwen who leans forward to touch me reassuringly.
"As Legolas was," she says, "you know that Elrohir. And so Estel has met Laerion and spoken with him, in the place between worlds."
It hurts my head to think of this, of either of them. . . both of them, lost in that place. How lucky we are to have them both back with us.
"I do not think he speaks right." I say in the end. "There are so many things which hold him here, and you are one of them. For Legolas to say there is nothing here for him. . .that is wrong. He does not even believe that himself."
"But how would you know, Elrohir," My brother is despairing. "The only time you speak to Legolas is to throw insults. How do you know what he wants?"
Because I love him,
I want to say, Because once, just once, he has let me in so I could truly see him and I know how much he loves this land. Because I can see his fea as it dances with joy when he is with the friends he has here..
But I can say none of that for they do not know.
I cannot tell them. Perhaps I will never be able to, for the girl is right.
If my choice will hurt him I must stay away.
If I chose Arda where my blood sings, I can never
be with him.
I have fought a long battle with the sealonging but I have always been sure I would win, until now.
I am Legolas Thranduillion. I am strong. I do not bend to the Valar's will without a fight. But I have no fight left in me and the sea cries in exhaltation as it senses victory.
And so I sit in the dark. I draw the curtains around me and hide. I push away all who love me because the sea tells me to and it is easier, now, to do as it says.
It whispers lies and untruths in my ears —at least, perhaps they are lies, and perhaps they are the truth—I can no longer tell the difference.
"They do not love you." It says, "If they loved you they would let you come with me. They hold you here against your will to hurt you." It seems when I think if it that they do because I hurt so very badly and that must be someone's fault.
The sea hates Aragorn the most—since Elrohir, who it despises, does not come—it focuses all its energy on telling me how Aragorn harms me.
"He stole you from your brother," it whispers. "It is his
fault you abandoned him."
I do not want to think of Laerion but his face dances before my eyes, grief-stricken as I tell him I will leave him. Why did I do that? All these years I have longed to see him and then I just walk away. Why?
It makes no sense to me now.
And still Elrohir does not come.
I ask for him. I ask them all. Elladan, Maewen, Erynion, Where is Elrohir? Can you fetch him?
But none of them do. If they tell him about my calls he does not answer.
The louder the sea becomes the more desperate I am for Elrohir. It is all I can think of . . . That night, before the Black Gate when he arrived from nowhere and swept my sea away. He locked it behind closed doors and I was free. For a brief moment I was free and it is the only time the sealonging has left me since I acquired it. Elrohir will still the noise of the sea. He will defeat it . . . If only he would come.
But of course he hates me now and so he will never come. . . never.
I let the memory of that night surge around me for at the moment it is my only comfort and so I do not notice when someone enters. I do not hear the creak of the door or the murmur of my name or fall of feet upon the stone floor. I notice nothing until the curtains are thrown back and the light blazes in.
It hurts my eyes and I do not want this.
"Go away!" I do not lift my head to see who it is, I do not have the energy. It is probably just Elladan. He will not leave me alone even though he does not help.
"I do not think so."
The voice is soft and gentle, yet firm. It flows over my battered soul, smooth and sensual. I know this voice but it is lost to me. It is an illusion . . .another one to add to the many the sea has thrown at me. It taunts me with what I cannot have.
"I know you are not real!" I cry, "Why would you even be here? I am not a fool."
"I am here to save you." He kneels before me and reaching out a hand, lifts my face so I can see him, my hair sliding away from my eyes leaving me blinking in the light.
And the sea screams its rage.
"He lies! He lies! He tries to trap you and keep you here."
Of course it is right.
"Why would you save me?" is my reply. "Why do you torture me so? Do you hate me this
But he ignores me and does not answer. He moves our conversation on, away from the obviousness of his betrayal.
"Why do you hide away here in the dark?" He asks. "This is no place for a wood-elf. You will never heal here, you should be in the light always . . . "
He is right. I have shut myself in, away from all I love and all that will ease my soul but the sea hates the light. It hates
it. It hurts my ears with its screams of outrage as the light shines upon it, exposing it for what it is and so it is easier for me to hide in darkness.
I cannot find the words to explain that though.
the light." I tell him in the hope he will get the message and leave me.
Instead he smiles. A small smile full of a soft, amused adoration.
"You do not even believe that yourself, Legolas. A more light -filled creature I have never met. Do not listen to the sea. It only tries to take you from us to have all to itself and I will not let it."
"Lies, lies, lies," the sea hisses as it thrashes through my mind. "You know the truth. He will not fight for you."
And so I attempt to twist away from his touch.
"Let me go! I know you despise me."
His hand cupping my face, once gentle becomes firm as he will not let me go. He tilts my head, forcing me to stare into his eyes. They are deep pools of love and I drown in them.
And then his lips are on mine. Feathersoft, yet at the same time commanding. His light blazes to the heart of me. A firebrand burning all before it and the sea is defeated; vanishing into vapour at his slightest touch.
Crying in anguish it retreats leaving me behind.
I cannot breathe. He takes my breath away.
It is all I can do to gasp his name.
Without the sea I am nothing.
Elrohir has come. He has said he loves me. He has driven the sea before him and banished it behind walls of his own making.
It has gone. Moments before it consumed me and now it is gone and there is nothing of me left. And so I sit and blink in the light, but my mind is numb. I cannot think, I cannot find myself.
And he is still there.
He holds my face between his hands and it is with love that he looks at me.
"I did not know." He whispers, "Believe me, I did not know I had any effect on the sealonging. If I had known, I would have been here sooner. Much sooner. Years ago."
My mind floats on the breeze. I cannot think; I cannot find the words I want for they dance just out of reach and so I am left with only his name.
"Elrohir..." my tongue feels thick and I stumble even over that. The sea has been holding me up and without it I am a scrambled mess of parts of Legolas.... none of them in the right order.
"Hush," He lifts his hand and strokes my cheek, brushing away strands which fall across my eyes. It is gentle, so tender and suddenly I am engulfed in memory.
I am on my knees in the mud. The grief of a thousand losses weighing me down. Mired in the Dead Marshes—Elrohir in front of me—my face in his hands, his thumb brushing across my cheek to wipe away my tears. It is just the same and I know, as much as I know anything, that he will walk away now as he did then. He will walk away and leave me with my grief. And I cannot go there again.
So I twist my face out of his hands and push him away. I say to him what I said before, for suddenly my tongue is free,
"I cannot do
this, Elrohir! We cannot do this!"
do this." He is not listening.
"Maewen..." her names spills from my lips and it is a balm for my soul now the sea is gone and I can see her for who she is, not an opponent who holds me back preventing the sea from having me. "I love her. I love Maewen."
It is cruel to throw it in his face but he is not hearing me.
He reclaims me then. He reaches for me as I try to pull away. Last time we played this out he turned and strode away throwing insults behind him. This time he holds me, pulls me close against him and I do not understand it.
that," he says softly. "I know you love her." And he tilts me back so I can see him. "But is there any space in your heart for me?"
Of course there is space for him. There is a space full of him.
And as much as my rational mind says I should not tell him for it is cruel and will only break his heart, I do. For my rational mind is buried deep under the chaos and I cannot reach it, though it screams its warning.
"There is. . ." I breathe it, "There is
a space for you and I wished for it. . . I have longed. . ." But the words desert me in the end.
"Ah Legolas." He holds me tight, my head against his chest so I am surronded in his warmth and I can hear the calming thud of his heart as if it were a lullaby to soothe me. "We have wasted so much time you and I. I have lived in a world now, without Legolas, even though it was for minutes only, and I will not
do that again! You have no idea the bleakness of my world while you were gone."
What I have no idea of is what he speaks about. We have spent many years sundered and apart but I have still been here. What does he mean?
Still I cannot stop to ponder for however much he may wish to be with me, it cannot be.
"You are not listening
to me," I plead, for his deafness hurts me. Must I repeat this? "Mae-" He cuts my off mid word, placing his hand firmly over my mouth as he stills the words.
listening. I know you love her and I tell you that is no obstacle to us."
But it is. It is unsurmountable, for he is not
a Silvan and he cannot do this. Has he lost his mind?
"You are Noldor,
Elrohir and I am Silvan. This will not work. You love one and one only and I . . love differently." Frustration boils within me for he is making this hard...so hard and I do not understand why. "You will always have to share me."
"You need to stop this, Legolas," he says and he smiles at me softly. A smile laced with affection. "Thinking of us as Silvan and Noldor, for are we not both Sindar also? Perhaps we are more alike than you think."
I am so very tired. My side aches, my damaged arm throbs and the sea has left me drained of all ability to reason. His words jumble around in my scattered brain and seem nonsensical. I know him, I know
him. For all our shared Sindar blood, he and I together will be too difficult. He will not cope with Maewen, not as she does, moving easily from Erynion to me. Not as Erynion so freely gave me all the time with Maewen I needed with no resentment. That is not Elrohir. He is incapable of that. I—myself—was incapable of it until so very recently.
It will just be anger and jealousy, raised voices and bitter words. Why can he not see that?
But I have no energy to argue. I have no ability to explain logically, and I need him. I love him and he is here. He has not left me. He has not walked away at the sound of another's name. Why should I fight when he offers me this?
Why should I fight when I want it?
Why should I fight when I have no ability left in me to fight at all?
I feel the tears he so recently wiped clear spill down my face again, soaking into his tunic as I rest my head against him. I do not want them but I cannot stop them.
"Stop," he says, "stop, there is no reason to weep now. I am here. I will keep the sea away tonight and always. I will sail with you to the Elvenland, I will be yours forever whatever we may face."
It is a disaster if I let this happen. I do not know why he does not see that and I cannot find the will to stop it. Not now, while my soul sings to him and he offers me the world.
And so I meet his lips when he bends to kiss me. I grasp his light when he shines it upon me. I take all he offers me.
And knowingly I let us sail on towards catastrophe.
Because I am so tired,
And I cannot say no.
Two chapters in close succession...
I awake in a tangle of sheets, the feel of a hand soft upon my face and when I open my eyes it is Elrohir I see.
He sits beside me, looking down at me and he smiles. It is like a dream, a wonderful, beautiful dream and I am happy.....for a moment I am filled with contentment and joy. It is a perfect moment.
"Ah, you are beautiful," he says gently. "I love to watch you." And I smile back for I cannot contain it, the perfectness of this. I feel complete, finished, whole.
There is a niggle in my mind. Something jarring whispering to me through the blissful clouds of contentment something is wrong, something is wrong, but I push it aside and answer him.
"I love you watching."
And then I remember. Maewen.
It hits me like a punch in the ribs and takes my breath away. Maewen! What have I done? I have not discussed this with her, not told her. There has been no warning and that is not how this should be.
I have betrayed her.
Panic rushes up from nowhere and chokes me. She will not forgive me this! She will think I abandon her. I will lose her......I cannot lose her.
And then I am sitting up, struggling to free myself from the sheets, gasping for air as my emotions churn around me and drown me. I must see her, I must explain. But how? How can I explain this? I am filled with a soul destroying grief at the thought of her inevitable loss and I cannot breathe.
"Hush, hush," Elrohir has his arms around me then and stills my struggles, "Shh, Legolas. What is wrong. Tell me what is wrong. I am here.....I am here." He says it like a chant, a mantra to calm me.
It does not work.
Instead I feel sick. A wave of nausea surges up and I think —for a moment—it will defeat me.
"Talk to me." Elrohir says, and I try, but as before the words are hard to capture amongst the chaos of my mind.
"Maewen," I manage to splutter, "She does not know......I must see her, I need to see her."
"Relax," he murmers, "It was her who sent me here. She knows."
That makes no sense, no sense at all for why would she send him here, and the panic grows.
"You do not understand!" I cry, and he strokes my face, brushing a calm hand across my forehead.
"It is alright, I promise you. But we will see her if you need to. I will find her for you."
It calms me slightly—the reassurance, his quietly surety—he will help me, he will dampen the whirl of emotion that defeats me. He will find her, he will make her stay. It is a foolish consolation I take for no one can make Maewen do anything. Least of all a Noldo.
And just as I catch my breath and begin to calm there are footsteps.
We hear them outside the room. The door to my living quarters beyond the bedroom opens with a creak.
"Legolas?" It is a soft enquiry, uncertain and unsure. It is Aragorn and I wonder briefly why he seems so hesitant to see me.
"Legolas?" I listen as he walks across the room outside, towards my bedroom door but I do not reply. There is something about the nervousness in his voice that stops me. Another thing that makes no sense.
And then Elrohir is on his feet. Suddenly it is he who panics.
"Elbereth!" He swears, "It is Estel," and he is all a rush, gathering his clothes, struggling in to them, and he throws me mine, so they fall upon my lap in a tangle. "Get dressed!" He gasps, "Legolas, he will not understand this!" And it is all so sudden, so bizarre, that I simply sit and stare.
It is then Aragorn opens the door.
He stands there, eyes wide, and stares. I can imagine what he sees. Me on the bed, under sheets, amongst the pile of clothing, blank and uncomprehending and Elrohir, dishevelled, panicked, stumbling, as he struggles to fasten his shirt and fails miserably.
And then Aragorn turns his back and leaves, the door slamming viciously behind him. The echo of that slam trailing through the air like a curse.
"Damn it!" Elrohir abandons his attempts at finishing dressing and follows my friend out the door, shirt still undone billowing around him as he does so, and suddenly I am left alone.
I can hear their raised voices float through the door towards me. I feel lost, as if it all happens around me, like a play I watch, instead of a life I participate in. What is happening?
Still the urgency and anger in their voices propels me forward, along with a numb curiosity, and so I stagger to my feet, pull on my trousers and join them. It is as if a series of pictures, disjointed and random join together in no sensible order to create a jumble. That is what the world appears to be. Elrohir sleeps with me, Aragorn appears from nowhere, and now I am in the midst of fury. My mind tries—and fails—to sort it into any kind or order.
When I open the door I find them face to face. Elrohir is pleading and Aragorn, irate. His anger hits me like a wall as I enter.
"Let me explain, Brother," Elrohir begs, placing a hand upon Aragorn's shoulder but it is shrugged off aggressively.
"There is nothing to explain! You think me a fool, Elrohir? You think me naive and gullible? What could there possibly be to explain here? Believe me it was quite clear what the two of you have been doing!"
I find myself wondering, as I stare at them, why that would bother him?
His eyes glance over me as I stand there, but he turns away. It is Elrohir who receives all his anger.
"He is ill, Elrohir! Do you seriously think this is appropriate? You take advantage in the worst possible way. And why? To hurt him? It is not as if you feel anything but derision for him. You have spent many years making that perfectly clear to all of us."
That is not true though and I know it now. I used to think that also so I do not blame Aragorn for believing it but I must correct him.
"I think he loves me." I say awkwardly into the silence that follows Aragorn's outburst. "He did say that..." And I do remember that amongst the confusion. Elrohir looking at me with love, Elrohir giving me the world.
And Elrohir spins around in surprise at the sound of my voice. There is a desperation in his eyes as he reaches out towards me,
"Legolas-" He says my name as a prayer but Aragorn does not let him finish. I can only watch bemused as he grips Elrohir's shoulder and pulls him roughly away from me.
"Leave him alone!" He hisses through gritted teeth. Truly I think I have never seen him so angry.....and I have seen Aragorn very angry indeed. "Look at him, Elrohir. How could you do this? And what of Maewen?"
At the sound of her name my world tilts and the anxiety flows back to consume me. What of Maewen? I stagger under the weight of it and it is only the door frame beside me that holds me up.
But Aragorn does not notice my stumble.
"What of Maewen?" he continues. "Did you spare her a thought, Elrohir, before you embarked upon this? What have you against her to hurt her so?"
"Things are not as you think they are, Estel." Elrohir raises his own voice now. "It may look bad-"
"It is beyond bad. I have no words for this Elrohir, I do not even know what to think! This is—" Aragorn throws his hands in the air in frustration when the words fail him and in the end he gives up. "You are not who I thought you were. I do not even recognise you. I am too angry," he says in the end, " I am too angry to deal with you now." And he turns his back on us. He strides towards the door.
"Damn you, Elrohir," he spits over his shoulder. "Damn you to all eternity. I will send Elladan to piece Legolas back together. I cannot be here with you."
And he is gone. I am surprised the door does not break with the force he applies to it as he slams it shut behind him.
And Elrohir's shoulders slump as he gazes after him.
"I am sorry..." I say it unsurely because I am not certain exactly what goes on but it is to do with me, that much is clear. "I have made him angry...." But I am not sure how and so I stumble to a stop.
Elrohir lifts his head then and turns to me, sadness written deep across his face.
"He does not understand, that is all Legolas. This is difficult for him.....He is not elven at all remember and we have surprised him." He holds my shoulders firmly, pulls me towards him, and rests his forehead against mine. "It is alright," he murmers, "it will be alright, I will fix this, Legolas, do not dwell on this."
But I do dwell on it because my friend is upset and angry and I do not fully understand it.
But then, suddenly, he lets me go. He turns away, briskly buttoning up his shirt as he does so.
"I must go after him. I must make him understand this.....explain it too him."
"He does not want to see you..." I protest, for that much is clear and I do not think following Aragorn will get him anywhere.
But he will not listen, he is determined.
"I will be back," he says, "Stay here. I will be back soon, this will be sorted and we can start again. Estel will send Elladan to you. Stay here and wait for him."
And then he too is gone, though I reach for him as he leaves but my fingers simply brush against his shirt as he moves away. I cannot hold him.
Aragorn has gone, Elrohir follows, and I am on my own.
I have suffered injury before—many times—but I have never been like this. I have woken after concussions , unsure of what has happened, missing memories which later return, but now....now I have awoken into a world that makes no sense. A world that frightens me with it's intensity and it's disorder.
When Elrohir leaves that fear begins to choke me.
It is not as if I cannot remember....I do. I remember the children playing upon the wall. I remember seeing it fall, running, running to reach them. I even remember the weight of the stones when they crushed me.
I know who I am, I know why I am here, I know everyone around me, but I do not understand why they do what they do. I do not understand the maelstrom of emotion that swirls within me. Intense grief ....what do I grieve for? Raging anger.....what has enraged me? Ice cold terror that grips me now I am alone.....It is worse than when I stood under the nazgul taking aim at it in the sky.
I can control none of it. My walls have been destroyed and all the building blocks of Legolas come rushing out in a tumble. I have no way of reassembling myself to order. I do not know how.
I know one thing though.
I need to see Maewen. I need to explain. I need to. I need to hold her close...I cannot let her go.
So I go in search of her.
But the problem is I do not know where to find her. If she is not with me then where is she? I go in the end to Erynion for where else can Maewen be but with him? But not only that; Erynion has always been my port in a storm. The still place that I run to. Since we were children he has held my temper in check, negotiated my wildness, steadied me when I needed it and I do need it now. What I would have done if he had not accompanied me to Ithilien I do not know. But of course he did......because Maewen was there.
"Legolas?" He is surprised when he opens his door and finds me there, and oh it is such a relief to see him.
"Is Maewen here?" I ask, all a rush, "I need to see her....Is she here?"
"No, Legolas. Is she not with you?" His eyes are full of concern and that uncontrollable panic rises up within me.
"I have to see her," I gasp, "I have made such a mistake. I have done everything wrong. I have to see her."
"Come in." His voice is gentle as he guides me inside, as if he speaks to child but I barely notice in my anxiety. "What are you doing, Legolas? You are not even dressed, you fool." It is said with affection and only then do I glance down to see the bandages around my chest. I have forgotten to put on a shirt.
"Sit here." He leads me firmly to a chair and deposits me there. "You can wear a shirt of mine. You cannot run about the palace like that. You are not a wild silvan child now." He smiles, but at the edges of his eyes I see worry. "Does anyone know you are here?"
I have to stop to think.
"Elrohir told me to wait for Elladan," I say at last with a frown and Erynion laughs gently.
"Well I do not think he meant you to come here to wait for him. I will take you back."
And then I remember. His calm easy presence had momentarily removed her from my mind but it all rushes back.
"No! I need to find Maewen." And I go to stand, to leave if he will not help me for why is she not here? Where else can she be? It hits me then that perhaps she has already gone and the sickening, relentless panic returns, sweeping in out of nowhere.
"I feel sick, Erynion," I tell him swaying on my feet as my heart pounds and anxiety twists my stomach in knots. "I am going to be sick."
He is there in an instant and I find myself back in the chair, my head between my knees as he kneels in front of me.
"You need to remember to breathe, Legolas." There is no tension in his voice, none at all. Instead it is a soothing melody, washing across my battered fea. "Why so tense...hmm.... my friend?" He raises a hand to cup my cheek and it stills me, "What has you so worried? This is not like you. Do not fret about Maewen. We will find her and when we do she will be upset if she knows you stress yourself so. What is upsetting you...have you argued?"
For a moment I think to tell him it all, about Elrohir and I, but I stop myself for that would be yet another betrayal, to tell him before Maewen. It would be piling hurt upon hurt. And he loves her, so surely he would look at me with disapproval. I could not bear that so instead I only shake my head.
"Be like that, then you stubborn creature!" He says with a grin as he sits back on his heels to look at me closely. "You are your own worst enemy but if you will not tell me I cannot make you." And after fixing me with a long hard look he leaps to his feet." I can get you a shirt at least. That much, I hope, you will let me do."
I watch him as he moves across the room. My beloved childhood friend. He has taken all the changes I have forced upon him—and there are many—with acceptance and good nature. I do not deserve him.
I remember then my promise to Maewen as we made our way through the city. I told her I would speak to him, that I would put things right.
"I have wronged you."
He dismisses my words with a wave of the hand.
"You have not wronged me, Legolas."
He has his back to me as he leans over to take a neatly folded shirt out of a drawer, Erynion is always tidy.
"I have wronged you and Maewen. I have kept you apart when I should not have. I will do that no longer, Erynion."
He freezes. The shirt lies motionless in his hand and I see the deep breath he takes to still himself before he speaks to me.
"We will not talk of this now, Legolas. It is not the time."
"It is the time. I have been foolish for too long. I have told Maewen I would speak to you of this and I will."
"When do you tell her this?" Slowly he turns around to face me, "She has not mentioned it to me."
"Before...the day I was injured, before that...in the city." I am beginning to babble and I know it but now I have started I must see this through. "I have grown up, Erynion. I have learned my lesson and I am ready to give you the space you need. I mean it."
But his face is expressionless when he replies, I cannot even read his eyes.
"You do not know what you are saying, Legolas. We will talk on this when you are well perhaps, but not now."
"I know exactly what I am saying!" I am so frustrated with myself for without telling him of Elrohir how can I explain my change of heart? "Maewen is all fire and spirit and I love her for it but I have tried to chain that. I have tried to tie her up and keep her to myself. That is not love! I am wild and chaotic—I know I am—and sometimes that is not what she needs. Sometimes she needs your quiet stillness. There are parts of her I cannot reach, Erynion, and you can."
"Ah, Legolas," he walks over slowly as he speaks and places his shirt in my lap. "What you say is true but we have tried and it is just too difficult between us. Can you not remember?"
"Because I was a foolish child."
"Because you love her."
"And so do you! We complement each other, Erynion, as we always do. It is not a competition between us. I made it one but it never was that."
He sighs; a deep and heartfelt sigh.
"No," he says, "It is not a competition. But you are not yourself, Legolas and so we cannot decide things now. I need to know you mean what you say."
And suddenly, out of nowhere, I am furious for he does not trust me!
I am on my feet then, shoving my arms into the shirt he gave me, hastening to get it buttoned. Swearing at him as I do so.
"Do not treat me as a child, Erynion, an infant who does not know his own mind. I know what I mean. So nice it is to know you do not trust me!"
"I do trust you, Legolas." He puts a hand gently on my shoulder to keep me still. "You know I do."
"But not in this, is that it? Not where it really counts."
"You are not well."
"I am perfectly well!" I know that is not true. I know deep in my heart something is wrong with my mind. I have no control and it frightens me, but I cannot admit that to him. "Since you do not wish to discuss this with me I will find Maewen myself."
"Do not be a fool." There is an edge to his voice now, all the soft kindness is gone and he steps in front of me to restrain me. "You can barely stand Legolas. You are mad if you think I will let you out of here alone."
"Get out of my way!" I go to push past him, swinging my arm to push him away. It is strapped in one of Elladan's careful splints and in my anger, my desperate rush to get away....far away from him, from the room, from the churning of this furious, unexpected rage, I catch him across his face with it as he moves forward to prevent me leaving.
And he drops; he bends over with a cry of pain.
"Damn it, Legolas," he cries, "That hurt!"
When I turn back towards him I see his nose pours with blood. All over his hands, it drips on to the floor. I am horrified. I have done that. I have hurt him.
And suddenly it is all too much, this world which I have stumbled into where nothing makes sense, where I am lost.
I turn and run.
I run from Erynion who I have harmed, from Maewen who will leave me, from Elrohir and Aragorn who confuse me. I run from myself. From this strange, jumbled Legolas I do not understand. I run from them all.
I end up in Arwen's garden. I have planted this for her long ago, not long after she first came to Minas Tirith and it is my favourite place. And today....today it will be my sanctuary. The world presses down on me. All is confusion, even the song of the trees makes no sense today, and I cannot escape. I just cannot run far enough or fast enough so I take myself deep into the undergrowth and there I hide.
I hide where I think they will never find me, for I am silvan and the trees, though I can not—in my panic—understand them, will shield me.
But still, I do not feel safe.
I am in the library when Erynion finds me, continuing my search through the myriad of books Elessar has, looking for anything....anything that may help Legolas with the sealonging. If Elrohir is not successful—or worse, if he chooses not to even try—then there must be something
we can do and I will find it.
"Maewen," Before I even look up I know something is wrong. Erynion sounds completely dejected. And then I see him! He is a mess, bloodied and battered, vivid bruising spreading across his face.
"What has happened?" I am on my feet and across to him in an instant. Usually we do not touch....we never touch, it is simply too hard, and Legolas hates it, but his injury takes me by complete surprise and so I reach out just this once to brush his cheek.
"Oh, Erynion, who did this?" For it is obvious he has been struck....in Minas Tirith? That makes no sense.
I am horrified. Legolas has been a ball of fury lately. Raging at us all for keeping him away from the sea. His words have been vicious but I never imagined he would become dangerous.
Erynion reads my mind as he so often does.
"An accident, Maewen. He did not mean it. I was trying to keep him still and calm, to keep him in my room and he lashed out. But not purposely to hurt me. And now I have lost him."
"Lost him?" I am confused. How on earth do you lose an angry, raging woodelf?
"He is ..... scattered," he says eventually after searching for the right word. "He is Legolas and yet he is not. He has no control it seems. He came to me confused and agitated, looking for you. Have you argued? He would not tell me."
"No, at least not beyond what everyone has been experiencing." I cannot say no truly for Legolas has been accusing me of keeping him in Arda against his will, of holding him back from those he loves and of plotting against him. None of it is sensible though. I know it is only the sea speaking and he accuses Aragorn of far worse.
"He has disappeared." Erynion's shoulders slump."I was distracted with this..." he waves a hand to indicate his injured face, "and when he saw what he had done, he fled. They are out there hunting for him. Elessar and the Noldor, but there is no sign of him yet."
He is so sad, so miserable, that I cannot help but offer comfort. Legolas is his closest friend. They have been inseparable since childhood and always Erynion is at his most miserable when they are at odds. It was why he acquiesced in the end, to the end of us. Because he could bear the acrimony that lay between he and Legolas over our relationship no longer.
So I brush my fingers through his honey brown hair softly. It is the colour of toffee so different from Legolas' pale gold and it has been so long since I last touched it.
For just a few precious seconds he allows my touch but then he jerks his head away, fixing me with a glare.
"Do not do that, Mae, It is unfair."
He is right. I am being unfair for it only reminds us of what we no longer have.
"Legolas wanted to speak of us," he says then with a sigh. "Of you and I. He said he had spoken to you..."
I remember then—for I had forgotten—that conversation on our way through the city. It has been lost amongst the chaos that followed.
"He did. Just before the accident."
"And you didn't think to tell me this?" He is annoyed with me and he is right to be. I should have told him. I should have warned him this was coming, but there has been more important things on my mind.
"I have been somewhat distracted, Erynion. It has not been easy here and there have been other things to think of!"
There is a brief moment of tense silence between us then, before he backs down and his defensiveness melts away.
"I know it has been hard," He moves closer, so close, and I know he wants to hold me, but he never will. "I know, my heart, that is why I am here." I knew that already, the reason he came running when I sent word of what had happened was because he worried for me here alone. For Legolas also, but mostly me.
He sighs, a heartfelt, weary sigh full of loss and grief. Erynion has had a hard road to walk through this drama of ours for Legolas and I still have each other and Erynion is on his own looking in.
"He said he wished to make things right," he continues, "That he has changed his mind about us, that he has grown and accepts it, that it will not be the same this time. But he is not himself, Maewen. How could I accept that from him? I would be taking advantage. He does not know his own mind and in the end, it would all fall apart. I cannot go there again."
I understand his fear of that for it was truly disasterous in the end, what our relationship did to his friendship with Legolas. But still I hope. And there is Elrohir now......Legolas obviously has not spoken about him.
"But if he says the same when he has recovered.....what then, Erynion? Would you believe it and try again then?"
"I do not know, Mae." He runs a weary hand through his hair in frustration. "I just do not know. Still-" he turns back to me, face suddenly artificially bright, "We need to find him first. Come with me and let us track this recalcitrant prince of ours! The Noldor and Elessar will never find him on their own."
It is hours until we find him. Not until the worry has begun to stretch my nerves tight. Elessar has sent a messenger to check Legolas' horse remains in the stable so we know he is within the city walls. He would not leave on foot, at least I hope not.
We find him in Arwen's garden in the end. I would have come here first but Elessar swore he was not there, that they had searched high and low and it would be a waste of manpower to search again when we had such a wide area to cover. They must be blind, these mortals and the Noldor for the instant I step foot in those gardens I know he is there.
I can hear his song. Off key and discordant instead of his usual sweet harmony but still unmistakably his.
"Legolas?" I call his name softly, gently, but he does not answer me.
"Is he here?" Erynion whispers to me, "I get a sense of him but—"
"Shh..." I hold a finger to my lips. "Go tell them we have found him. I will deal with things here." Confronting Legolas with Erynion, his face a beaten mess as it is might not be the wisest course of action.
It is quiet in the garden, so quiet and still. He gives me no sign he is here despite the soft chords of his song which he cannot hide from me. But the trees give him up. They love him, they know he hurts, and they send my feet his way.
I am on my hands and knees when I find him, hidden under bushes, buried in the foliage, pale, tear stained....grieving.
"Oh, Legolas," I speak it gently as I reach out a hand towards him. "What are you doing here? Come out with me."
But he does not listen to me. He is caught up in his own imaginings.
"I thought you had left me!" He cries, "I thought you gone. It was a mistake, Maewen. I did not mean it but he came, and the sea....the sea drowns out everything. He took it away and I was so tired, I let him. I am sorry, I let him. I just wanted to be rid of it. Please do not leave."
He speaks of Elrohir, obviously. So the Noldor has made the right decision after all! I am filled with such a rush of relief it takes my breath away. Elrohir has taken away the sea! And if I ever needed proof that despite it all he is no threat to me, the terror in Legolas' face at the thought I would leave is enough. Elrohir has gone to him, Elrohir has saved him and yet he still loves me.
He will not come out, that much is obvious. I have seen Legolas in the pit of despair, I have seen him at his lowest, at Laerion's death and this is almost as bad. At least he talks to me. He has not retreated from us but he is broken all the same. Broken and shattered in to pieces.
"I will not leave you, beloved. I will never leave you. Do not worry about this, I sent Elrohir to you."
I crawl towards him, squeezing into his bolthole. If he will not come out I will have to join him, and when I reach him he is shaking.
"I am afraid, Maewen. I have been so afraid. Nothing makes sense to me. Why would you send him?"
Legolas is never
"Because you needed him." It is a simple answer and the only one. "I know you love me. I am not afraid of Elrohir. His love for you, and yours for him does not threaten me."
It has.....It has in the past, it has terrified me but it does that no longer so I will not tell him that.
I put my arms around him and pull him close. If only I was a Healer but I am not. All I can do is pour my love upon him and hope it is enough. I wipe the tears which flow down his cheeks, I whisper sweetness in his ear.
"I have hurt Erynion." He murmurs so softly I almost do not hear it at first. "I did not mean to but I have hurt him."
"He has forgiven you already. I have seen him, Legolas. He worries for you as I do. Do not fret on it. After all the pair of you have done worse to each other on the training fields during your growing years!"
And he is silent. I feel his heart pounding as he leans against me. He is so tense, so frightened, so lost, and I wonder how I will ever
get him out of here.
"I tried to speak to him, as I promised you. I tried Maewen." He says at last. "He will not listen to me. I told him you could be together.....I told
him but he does not trust me."
"Oh, Legolas," Suddenly, inappropriately, I feel compelled to laugh. "You are hiding behind the trees in Arwen's garden. Do you not think he is right to worry on your state of mind?" The words are out before I can stop them, and for a moment he stares, wide-eyed with surprise, before slowly.....slowly.....the smile begins, his beautiful smile which transforms his face and chases away the fear.
"You are right!" And he laughs along with me, oh it is music to my ears. "What am I thinking? I am crazy."
I think—at this moment—he is not wrong.
So we sit together, under the trees. It is familiar and reassuring. It is something we have done together often, although usually not hiding somewhere when we are, in fact, completely safe. Still he is calmer, quieter, less distressed and I am grateful for that at least.
I even think he sleeps, while I sit there contemplating ways to cajole him back out into the world for his breathing slows, and the weight of his head becomes heavy on my shoulder.
"Where is he?" It startles me, that voice, ringing out across the garden beyond our sanctuary. And oh, I do not think I have ever been so pleased to hear it as I am now.
"I travel all this way and you tell me he is hiding in a garden? Dratted creature. Did you teach him no manners at all when you were small, Erynion?"
Legolas jerks himself upright beside me at the sound, blinking himself free of sleep.
"Legolas! Get out here and greet me, foolish elf. I did not come all this way to talk to the flowers."
He turns to me then, Legolas, eyes shining. All his glorious lightness returned, an elf transformed, he cries out in joy.
"Maewen, It is Gimli!"
The story about the psychedelic herbs Gimli mentions here can be found in "Hands of the King"
I have recieved many letters over the years calling me to the elf's side because he has indulged in folly and is injured.....troubled.....in need of help. He is a magnet for chaos and the sea-longing does not help. How he ever survived before I met him, I do not know.
This latest letter, however, is different.
It is written by Arwen. My heart chills when I see her hand. Often it is Erynion who writes, or more recently, Maewen—Legolas' lady—if he struggles in Ithilien. But most frequently it is Aragorn. Arwen never writes. Why would she need to?
It does not take me long to discover why.
The pair of fools have been playing games with the afterlife. Legolas—after all the time I spent trying to keep the fragile creature safe—has managed to get himself trapped under a collapsing wall and Aragorn has gone traipsing in after him to who knows where to guide him back to us.
I almost cannot believe it as I read but Arwen would not lie. Of course I have to come to them.
It is a relief to see Aragorn, when I arrive, at least on his feet when he greets me although he is drawn and weary.
"Thank goodness you are here." He says tiredly, running a distracted hand through his hair. "Normally I would offer you food and rest after your journey, but there is no time, Gimli. We have lost Legolas."
"Lost him?" Alarm grips me, for Arwen told me they thought Legolas gone from us forever at one point. Surely he does not mean that? Have I been too slow in getting here?
"He is agitated and unhappy. He has run off and we have been searching all day but it is a big city." He drops his shoulders with a sigh, "He is not fit to be out there, Gimli."
Ah, so a missing Legolas is all he means, instantly I am at ease. I have dealt with this before and I wonder why he is so tense. Keeping track of Legolas has always been a difficult task.
"He will turn up eventually, Aragorn, you know that. He always does. Have you taken the advice you always give to me and looked in the high places?"
"You are misunderstanding me, Gimli." I realise, as I watch him, that he looks truly haggard himself and I am hit by a wave of concern.
"Are you well?" I ask him, peering at him closely, ignoring his statement. I would put money on the fact he is not.
"My health is not the concern here." He deflects me but he would not have succeeded had Erynion not have chosen that very moment to appear, breathless as he runs across the courtyard, and I am left speechless, for what on earth has happened to him? His face is a mess. He looks as if he has been brawling with orcs.
"Elessar!" He cries, "We have found him!"
And beside me Aragorn slumps in relief.
"He is in the gardens—" Erynion begins, and I look at Aragorn in surprise.
"You did not think to look there first?"
"I did, Gimli!" He snaps, "Do you take me for a complete fool?"
Oh he is in a bad mood today. I decide then I will just hold my tongue.
"He hides in the bushes," Erynion continues, "Maewen sensed him, although his song feels wrong." His face creases into a frown as he mentions that, as if it causes him pain to think on it. "I have been searching for you everywhere, Elessar. She may have even pried him out by now."
"I told you!" I say, forgetting my vow of seconds before to keep my mouth firmly shut, "Aragorn, why do you worry so? I told you he would show himself eventually." I am about to ask Erynion what on earth has happened to his face when he interrupts me.
"Gimli! Thank goodness you are here. I can think of nobody Legolas needs more," and he grabs my hand dragging me across the courtyard behind him, leaving me no time to question anything—and believe me, I have many questions—Aragorn following us with his long determined strides.
If the Aragorn I have found at the end of my journey is concerning—and he is—then the Legolas they produce for me in the gardens is not my friend at all. He emerges from the bushes as I call for him, dishevelled, wide-eyed, and agitated. There are twigs in his hair and dirt across his tunic but that is not unusual for my Legolas, no, it is the tears upon his cheeks and the child-like way he clings to me that alarm me.
"Gimli, I had not imagined you would come!" he exclaims and that is foolishness for why ever would I not come? He pats my face gently, softly, as if he has not seen me for years and I have a flash of memory. Legolas drugged accidently by Aragorn with some psychedelic herbs on our ride to Isengard, patting desperately at my face because he believed me to be on fire. He was so strange then, his thoughts open to all who would see them and he is so very like that now. Has Aragorn given him more of those herbs? Surely not.
"What are you doing, Lad, hiding here? You are worrying Aragorn half to death."
"Aragorn. . ." he repeats the name and his eyes flick towards where Aragorn stands grimly behind me. It is a look of nervousness, of apprehension and I wonder at it. What goes on here?
I think he is going to say something to Aragorn then but his wild eyes spot Erynion and instantly all is forgotten.
"Erynion..." He gasps it in horror. "I am sorry, I am so sorry." He hands flit towards Erynion's battered face where they hover as if he wishes to touch it but cannot quite bring himself to. "I did not mean this."
"Hush, you fool," Erynion clasps Legolas' flighty hands between his own steady ones, "It was an accident only. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I know you did not mean to hurt me."
They cannot mean Legolas is responsible for the mess of Erynion's face . . . Can they?
Then Maewen is there, her arms around Legolas, steadying him.
"I have told Legolas you already forgive him this." she says softly to Erynion. There is so much love enfolded in that voice, for Legolas and Erynion both, that I wonder briefly if I am missing something. I have often wondered that about the three of them. It is a strange intertwining they have, but then Silvan elves are strange and my mother always said I had a vivid imagination —for a dwarf.
Legolas stands, in the midst of a crowd of those who love him most, where he should feel his safest, but instead he seems bewildered, anxious, lost. It is too much for him. There are too many people here, too much tension swirling in the air. I do not understand what it is that is wrong with him but I recognise a suffering elf when I see one. He needs space and I will get him some.
"Come, Legolas," I take his hand and he clings to it like a limpet, as if I am a lifeline in the midst of a storm. "I have travelled long to see you and you have much to tell me. Let us go somewhere a dwarf and elf can get some peace." I turn to Aragorn. "Is my room ready?" I ask him and he nods in return.
"Of course," he replies, "it is always ready." But he does not smile as I would expect and I see once more the exhaustion behind his eyes. He worries me, but I can only deal with one problem at a time and the elf is the more urgent. So we retreat, Legolas and I. He follows me passively and even I—dwarf that I am—can sense his relief as we leave the others behind.
It is late when I finally make my way to Aragorn's study and I am weary. My time with Legolas has not been restful. He has told me, haltingly at first and then in a jumble of words, a story that makes no sense at all to me. Of meeting his brother who I know is dead, of fearing Aragorn lost when he is clearly here beside us, of a fight with Erynion he cannot understand himself, and of a battle with the sealonging that very nearly defeated him. I do not think he has told me it all and what he has told me is garbled and hard to follow. So I have deposited him with his silvan friends to watch over him as he sleeps and I go in search of Aragorn to fill the gaps in for me. We will start with what ails Legolas I think.
I do not expect to hear arguing and raised voices as I make my way down the corridor. It is Aragorn and his brothers and they are at each other's throats. It is Sindarin they speak and although I have learnt much of it from my time with Legolas they are too angry and speak it too rapidly for me to follow the words. The poor guards outside the door look absolutely terrified.
But I am not a dwarf to be put off by a mere argument between brothers no matter how angry it seems, and I stride on in. The three of them stop mid sentence to turn and stare at me as the door slams behind me. Ah, it is good to be able to quiet a room simply by entering it.
"Gimli, where is Legolas?"
It is Aragorn who asks it first and he is anxious. Perhaps he fears I have Legolas hidden outside in the corridor while the three of them argue, well they should have thought of that before!
"Safe with his silvan friends," I say as I help myself to a seat, "and now I am here to get some answers."
"Answers?" He plays dumb....as if he doesn't know exactly what answers I seek.
"What is wrong with him? A head injury recieved in the rock fall I presume? And what are you doing to fix him?"
"He had no head injury, Gimli." It is Elladan who answers me. "He suffocated under there. I am sure there may be some damage from the time he did not breathe but it is not that causing his problems. I wish it was...that I could heal."
"Well something is wrong with him!"
"Bringing him back to us has caused damage to his fea. Estel has meddled in things he did not understand and I cannot fix it!" The last is cutting and pointed and I do not think this is the first time he has hurled these accusations at Aragorn.
"Alright, Elladan!" Aragorn slams his hand down on the table and he makes me jûmp if no-one else. "I know. You have told me this often enough. I made the wrong choice and Legolas suffers for it, there is nothing I can do about it now." He looks wretched and I do not like the way this conversation is going.
"How do you know this?" I ask Elladan. "What proof do you have that his fea is damaged? Perhaps you are mistaken for I have never heard of such a thing."
"There is no doubtîng it." It is the silent, brooding, other Son of Elrond who speaks now from his seat in the corner and he takes me by surprise. "I can feel the damage myself, and so can the girl."
"Of course you can feel it, Elrohir." It is Aragorn's turn now to be cutting and sarcastic. "Do you really wish Gimli to know the wrongs you have done Legolas?"
I wonder what he means for I know full well how this Noldor elf has wronged my friend. Ever he has poured scorn upon him and sneered at him in his arrogance but that is hardly relevant to our present discussion.
"I have done him no wrong!" Elrohir is on his feet in an instant. "Will you not listen to me, Estel." This is quickly spiralling out of hand and they will not stop bickering, meanwhile my friend is languishing in a sad state. I could pull my beard out in frustration at them all but that will get me nowhere so instead I try once again to stop their quarrel.
"I hardly think your behaviour towards Legolas has ever been above criticism," I say pointedly giving Elrohir a glare, "At least not that I have ever seen. On the contrary it leaves much to be desired but the three of you shutting yourselves away in here arguing about old wrongs does not help him. I refuse to believe there is nothing can be done."
"I have looked at every appropriate book, Estel has here," Elladan says then somewhat sulkily. "There is nothing, Gimli. If I knew where to go from here I would be doing it. Valinor is his only hope for healing it seems."
"Valinor?" I am horrified. "No! He is not ready for that!"
"Is he not ready, or are you not ready?"
"He is not ready!" I am sure of it. As sure as I am of anything. As much of a mess as he is at the moment, Legolas is not ready to sail . . . And I am not ready to let him go, but it is not about that. It is not about that at all.
"If you will not even try then it is obviously up to me." I am indignant and I will not abandon my friend to this fate. Elves are all very well but they are all tangled up with their magic and their otherworldliness. They are not practical creatures at all. Not like us dwarves. "I will fix him. If it means I must start from the beginning and teach him as you teach a child then I will do it."
"It is not as easy as that, Gimli," Elladan protests, and his brother, from his seat in the darkest corner rises to his feet. "He has no control, he is a torrent of emotion and it overwhelms him," Elladan continues. "It is not something that can be fixed."
"Let him try, brother. It can do no harm." Elrohir places a calming hand upon Elladan's shoulder, and now he is out of the shadows and into the light I can see he too seems weary, as unlikely a description as that is for these never-tiring elves. He turns to leave but Aragorn will not let their disagreement go.
"Stay away from him!" He hisses. "Elbereth, Elrohir, if I hear you have been there—" But the Noldo does not wait to hear it. He cuts him off with the slamming of the door behind him leaving Aragorn cursing beneath his back.
"Why are you so against this, Estel?" Elladan sighs, "You are not even trying to understand and it is not like you." He darts a nervous glance towards me. They discuss something they do not wish me to know . . .and I am sure it is about Legolas. How dare they keep secrets from me.
"You did not see what I saw." Aragorn snaps in reply. "It was so inappropriate. I do not know what he was thinking, and we will not discuss it now!" And he too shoots a glance in my direction. I am not happy about being talked around and I am about to make that known when Elladan stands as well.
"Then there is nothing more to be said." His parting words are caustic and biting. "You do him a disservice, brother."
"And you, as usual, protect him when you should not!" Aragorn shouts after him, but he gets no response and in the end the two of us are left alone.
I want to know what goes on here. It is something to do with Elrohir and Legolas and yet Legolas has not so much as mentioned the Noldor beyond saying he helped him with his sea-longing and that did not surprise me. Elrohir has worked with Elladan before when he tried to ease the burden of the sea. But Aragorn, when I turn to look at him, has his head in his hands and it is obvious the time to press him for details is not now.
"So you see, Gimli," his voice is muffled by his arms as he speaks, "You see how much wrong I have done Legolas. Elladan is right. My actions were selfish and I should have left him there. As if he did not already suffer enough because of me."
"If you mean left him in the realm of the dead, with this brother of his he says he met then you are wrong, Aragorn, and if Elladan says it, he is wrong also. Legolas would not want that. As Arwen tells it, he asked you to return with him."
"He was not fit to make that decision, as he is not fit to make decisions now."
"And so you should make it for him? I think not, Aragorn." I will argue this with him until I am blue in the face, so sure of it am I. "You did the only thing you could."
He lifts his head then, and reaches out to pull a pile of paperwork towards him.
"Look at this," he groans, "It piles up upon me. I have been so distracted by Legolas I am drowning in work for the kingdom I have put aside." I cannot believe he intends to work on it now.
"Stop, Aragorn!" I reach over and snatch the quill from his hand before he has had time to write a word. "You are exhausted. You will get some sleep. This will all be here tomorrow. It will make no difference leaving it another day, you fool!"
"I can do nothing right, Gimli." he says forlornly and my heart breaks for him. "I cannot protect him, not even from my own brother. Everything I do, every choice I make causes Legolas pain."
"You have done the right thing in this." I lean over his desk and clasp his weary hands in mine for I must get him to hear me. "You have saved my friend and bought him back to me and I can never repay you. Now I will see to it I set him on his feet again for you."
And in that moment I am sure I can mend Legolas. By shear will and determination I will do it.
For Aragorn's sake, if not my own, I will see our friend well.
It is clear I have a long road ahead of me setting Legolas to rights and so I start as soon as I possibly can. It is early the next morning I knock on his door. I am not about to let him wander off to breakfast and into the swirling cauldron that is Aragorn and his brothers without me. I am expecting Maewen when the door opens slowly.
It is not her.
Instead it is the last person I expected to see, for despite Aragorn's clear warning of the night before, that brooding son of Elrond stands before me—Elrohir.
"What do you want?" He glares at me and the question is an aggressive one. How dare he challenge me
! He is the one who was told to stay away. He is the one who has treated Legolas badly all these years. I
am the one who has the right to be here.
"I want to see Legolas, obviously. I told you last night I mean to fix him since no one else believes it possible and I am here to do just that. Did you not think I would be true to my word?"
"I have no doubt of your steadfastness," he replies, and is it my imagination or does he soften slightly?
Still I do not have time to argue with this most difficult of elves, there is work to do. I peer behind him searching for my friend but there is no sign of him. Nor is Maewen there, or Erynion.
"He is sleeping." The Noldor tells me as if he knows exactly what I am thinking as my eyes sweep the room. "I know it is late but I thought it best to let him. Rest cannot hurt him." There it is again—that softening of his voice—I did not imagine it that time for he speaks almost with affection. "Still, you are here now and your company will do him good," He continues. "I will wake him." And he turns on his heels and strides into the bedroom closing the door behind him.
What is going on here? Since when did Elrohir become guardian of Legolas?
I cannot hold my tongue when he returns for he should not be here, and I need to know why
"I am sure I remember Aragorn telling you implicitly to stay away from here last night," I say curtly, "and yet here you are."
"Estel does not have the right to dictate who I do or do not see," he snaps. "I am here because I wish to be and if he does not like that it is his
"He has the right to protect his friend within his own city, and it seems he believes you a danger to Legolas." I will not be cowed by Elrohir's bad temper. I am made of sterner stuff than that and I will
get answers. Aragorn's words of the night before float into my mind. I cannot even protect him from my own brother,
he said. Why did I not think to ask him what he meant by that?
"He is wrong."
"Is he though?" I have years of resentment over the treatment Legolas has recieved from this particular elf and now, finally, I have a chance to hold him to account. "For I can well see how he could draw that conclusion. You have been nothing but cruel to Legolas for as long as I have known you. It has hurt him in the past and he is in no fit state to deal with your disdain now. I am with Aragorn in this. You should stay away."
"You are right," he admits to my great surprise. "I have behaved badly in the past and that is regrettable but you have my word I am not here to harm him now. I have told Estel that but he will not hear it."
"Do you blame him?" I remember Aragorn, so utterly defeated last night. I will stand up for him if I can.
"No," The Noldor turns away, "I suppose it is to be expected he will think the worst of me in this. But I tell you it is not so. I am not what you think I am."
"And what has changed?" I challenge him. "You stand there and ask me to believe everything that has gone before was a lie and you are no longer a threat to him, what has changed Elrohir?"
"Everything has changed!" He spins back around to face me, eyes wide. "Everything!" he cries, but before he can elaborate the bedroom door swings open and Legolas stands there, swaying slightly as he stares at us. He looks so young, so bewildered that my heart twists at the sight of him. He is only half dressed, a shirt draped over his shoulders but one arm is splinted and so he has obviously struggled—and failed—to get any further with it. It is Elrohir who sets him to rights, who deftly threads his arm through the sleeve and fastens the buttons. He is soft and gentle, caring as I have never seen him be. It is completely incongruous with everything I know of these two and so strange to watch.
"Gimli is here," Elrohir says when he has finished, "so I will leave you with him. I promised Elladan I would not let him sleep too long so I must see he is awake. The healing energy he expended on the sealonging has exhausted him."
"I am sorry," It is only a murmur when Legolas speaks and he sounds so burdened.
"It is not
your fault." Elrohir is firm in his rebuttal of the apology, "You do not have to apologise for having the sea-longing, Legolas."
He places a hand under Legolas' chin and tilts the downcast face up so Legolas has no choice but to look him in the eyes. It is a gesture of such care I am left astounded. Is this an act for my sake to prove he has changed?
"I will see you soon," he whispers in Sindarin, I presume he thinks I will not understand but he is wrong in that. "I promise," and then he turns to go, but Legolas reaches out, almost with a desperation and grasps his hand as he leaves, their fingers lingering in contact with each other right to the very last touch, until only the tips brush together, as if neither of them wish to let go.
And then Elrohir is gone and it is Legolas and I all alone.
"Where is Maewen?" I ask him, for I am surprised at her absence and how he has come to be left in the care of the Noldor in the first place. "Why is she not here?" It is an innocuous enough question, I think but Legolas jumps like a startled rabbit, as if he is a child caught in a wrong-doing.
"She is at breakfast," he splutters, eyes wide and anxious.
"She went to breakfast without
you? That makes no sense, Legolas. Why would she leave you alone?"
"I was sleeping," he says quickly and defensively, "and I was not alone. Elrohir was here."
"That is exactly what I mean. Why ever would Maewen leave you with Elrohir who has always made it quite clear he dislikes you?"
"I suppose she was hungry."
He snaps out the words, dripping with sarcasm, while he looks anywhere.....anywhere but at me. He has always been a terrible liar and now he is even worse than usual. It is obviously a complete fabrication.
"Why is Elrohir here with you anyway?" I ask him with a frown, "He has never sought out your company before."
"Elladan asked him to visit. . ." Legolas splutters out eventually. The lies are not coming as easily to him as they usually do. Usually he is all long, wordy, tales so complicated you end up agreeing with him just to to keep him quiet.
"Elladan is asleep!
" I cry in triumph, "Elrohir just said so." But my triumph is short-lived for Legolas is so
agitated now I cannot push home my advantage and find out the truth. That would be cruel and gain me nothing if I want to help him today.
"He helps me with the sea," he says with a hint of desperation, "Elrohir helps me with the sea, Gimli." It is as if I can read his very thoughts.....please don't ask me....please don't ask me...
and so I stop —for now—I change the subject and move on. It is too painful to watch the anxiety that churns him up. Whatever is going on here I will have to find someone else
to tell me.
"Alright lad," I pat his good arm gently to reassure him. "It is good he helps you with that. Now-" I put my arm around him then and steer him towards the door, trying to divert him. "I am hungry, Legolas. What say you to some breakfast?" He comes with me readily enough but I can feel the tension in him as he does so, that is, until I turn us away from Aragorn's study and the dining room, both.
"Where are we going, Gimli?" He asks, "This is not the way to breakfast. The others will be. . ." He trails off but indicates the way we should
"Aragorn and his brothers seem to be having problems of the sibling variety." I say and I smile as I say it for I do not want to worry him. "They are revisiting childhood squabbles. It will be a most unrestful breakfast if we eat with them so I thought you and I would find our own breakfast."
Instantly he is at ease. The tension drains away before my very eyes and he grins . . . He grins!
"And where do you suggest we get it?" He is smiling now, "If not with Aragorn where will we find food in this place?" He throws his arms wide and it is as if he is still the same, still my Legolas. It is a flash of Legolas shining through.
He is still in there!
"The kitchens of course. I am sure you can charm those lasses who flutter all around you out of some honey cakes, Legolas." He always has been a charmer, has Legolas, when he wants to be.
"Oh, I can!" He throws an arm across my shoulders then, as we stroll and he laughs. His laugh is still the same, still beautiful like the sun and suddenly the grief and fear, which I have buried away since I recieved Arwen's letter comes bubbling to the surface. Walking here next to him as he smiles and jokes with me brings home just how close I came to having no Legolas at all. I meant what I said to Aragorn last night. I can never repay him for bringing this wild elf back to me. The thought I may have lost him forever is crushing.
"Legolas," Suddenly I realise I must
tell him this. "I am so glad you are here, lad. So glad—" I have to stop, for despite myself there tears in my eyes and my voice begins to crack. This will not help him, pouring all this emotion on top of him. I must swallow this now and we can deal with it another time.
But he has stopped, and stands, looking at me quizzically.
"What is wrong?" he asks. "What upsets you? Have I done something?"
"You have done nothing, Legolas, except cast this spell upon me that makes me sentimental about the loss of a foolish woodelf. It must be catching . . . Your elvishness, I am hardly recognisable as a dwarf." I must make light of my grief, for now I have seen this brief return of his lightness I want to keep it. I want him always to be laughing and happy as he just was.
"Hmm..." He thinks on that and then the grin returns, the arm about my shoulder as we recommence our walk. "I am looking forward to those honey cakes," he smiles "but I fear I will get far more of them than you, Gimli for we both know I am the most charming of us both."
And I answer him with my usual bluster because he expects it. We exchange insults down the corridor and it is good. It is how we usually are.
We are nearly at the kitchen when he finally answers my admission of sadness.
"I am glad I am here too, Gimli," he says quietly. "The grief when I thought I could not return....You have no idea."
Then we are through the doors into the warmth of the kitchen, surrounded by giggling servants and the smells of delicious food, and there is no time for me to answer him. His words are lost in the chaos.
We sit at a table in the corner of the kitchen and by the time Legolas has finished his charm offensive it is laden with food. Surely he has lost none of his abilities to sweet talk for I think we dine better than Aragorn himself. Legolas is all smiles and laughter. His eyes dance with merriment and, although it will probably bring his lightness to an end, I think there is no better time to discuss the struggle ahead of us than this.
"I spoke with Elladan last night," I begin. "All three of them, actually, Elladan, Elrohir and Aragorn." Instantly I see Legolas' happiness bleed away.
"Aragorn is angry with me," he says flatly.
"I think not, Legolas," I try to reassure and I wonder where he has got that idea from. "He was concerned last night, and very worried for you. I saw no anger."
"Whether you saw it or not, it is there." He mumbles and his tension rises. I have allowed us to get distracted and it is not helping.
"I do not want to talk about Aragorn." I say firmly, trying to get us back on track. "We have more important things to speak of. If Aragorn is indeed angry with you we will deal with that later." Legolas mutters under his breath then, and I hear it—as I am meant to. Something about pig-headed dwarves not believing him, but I ignore him and plod on regardless.
"Not surprisingly Elladan says it is not good for elves to take themselves on journeys in and out of the afterlife," I say and Legolas scowls.
"It was not exactly my choice." He mutters as he pokes at his food sulkily. This is not new, Legolas has always had the tendency to sulk in response to criticism.
"Did I say it was your fault?" I sigh. "Regardless of why it happened the result is it has damaged you. Damaged your fea, he says, which is why you struggle so."
Legolas looks up at me then, his eyes bleak.
"I have no walls." He says. "It is all so . . . Overwhelming. Did he tell you how he will fix it for he has said nothing to me."
"Ah. . . " I do not think Legolas is going to like what I have to say next. "He believes he can not fix it." The look Legolas gives me then is one of horror and he cries out in pain.
"No, Gimli! I cannot be like this always. It is too hard. I cannot do it. Say it isn't so."
"I did not say you must remain as you are forever, did I?" Quickly I clasp his hands between mine to keep them still and help him focus. "Elladan might say the damage is unfixable but I do not believe him. You and I will mend this together."
But he will not hear me.
"Elladan is Elrond's son. He was trained by him, he is the best. If he says it is irreparable then it must be." He wrenches his hands away from mine and burys his head in his hands. He is distraught.
"He does not know everything, Legolas. He told me himself he has never seen anything like this. You elves, you have your heads in the clouds half the time. I refuse to believe you and I can not mend this together. We can rebuild those walls of yours one brick at a time. Sometimes you just need a practical dwarf to get things done."
"Gimli," he lifts his head and gazes at me sadly, "You are not a healer."
"Do I not help you feel better? Have you not felt more like yourself this morning? What is a healer anyway, lad. There are more ways than one to cure someone. Do not dismiss the skill of the dwarves because you do not understand it." If I am to make any headway with him I need him to believe we can succeed. Otherwise we will achieve nothing, and so I hold my breath as I wait for his response.
"I do feel better," he murmurs. "You are . . . Safe. I feel safe." It is better than nothing. It is, at least, not a refusal. He begins to open his mind and it is time to be honest with him.
"I do not pretend this will be easy, Legolas for it will not be. It will be a struggle but you and I together—we can achieve anything! We can show those Noldor who nay-say you. It will be like training after an injury. Hours on the training field, doing the same thing over and over. But you can do that, I have seen you. So I know you have the fortitude to suceed at this."
He is silent for a long while, as he stares at the food on the table before us. I can feel my heart thudding as I wait for him to speak because so much rests on him being able to accept this and throw his heart behind it. I cannot make him well unless he wants me to do it.
"I will try. . . " he says at last. "If you believe it can be done, I am willing to do the work. Hard work does not scare me."
And the surge of relief I feel takes my breath away. At least we can start.
I want him to have a good day today. I want to show him he can manage this. I want to remind him what it feels to be Legolas. I think we must stay away from the others, be just Legolas and I together. Burned into my mind is the image of him yesterday, in Arwen's garden standing, surrounded by those special to him and looking utterly and completely lost. Somehow things are going wrong. They all love him. They all care for him but that love is simply making him worse. His relief when it became obvious I was taking him away from them all this morning was telling. But what to do with him now?
Normally it is easy with Legolas. If you wish to make him happy take him to the trees. But I do not want to take him to the gardens today . . . Not after yesterday.
Then I am struck by a sudden inspiration. Of course! The answer when it comes to me is obvious.
"Should we pay a visit to the stables this morning, Legolas?" He loves his horses. He speaks to them as if they can actually understand him. He whispers sweet nothings in their ears and they follow him everywhere—and they calm him. I think I have had a brilliant idea so it is with a sinking dismay I see the horror on his face at my words.
"Ferveren!" he cries, as he covers his mouth with his hands. "I have forgotten her! How could I?"
Ferveren is his horse. A more inappropriately named creature I have never met. Joyful Spirit he says her name means, but that horse is not joyful at all. It is obnoxious, cantankerous and very, very difficult to manage. she will not let anyone near her save Legolas and he loves her. I wonder how Aragorn's grooms have been managing in his absence?
But at the thought of her Legolas' equilibrium shatters and before my eyes he spins off into uncontrollable panic, leaping to his feet, spilling food all around us.
"How will they have fed her? Or groomed her?" He cries, "She will be missing me. She will have had no care at all for they cannot get near her!"
It has all been going too easily this morning and now we hit our first challenge. Now I must prove I can do this and rein him in. It is easier said than done. When I grasp his hands, as much to prevent him running as anything else, I can feel the trill of his heart racing against my fingertips.
"Calm yourself, Legolas," I say quietly as I try to remain as calm as I tell him to be. "She will be alright. If no-one has told you otherwise they have obviously found a way around it. Maewen most likely."
"Maewen has been with me!" He tosses his head in distress. "She has had no time."
"Ferveren does not tolerate Erynion. She likes him not." Ridiculous horse, I think to myself for what is not to like about quiet Erynion?
"Aragorn then." I say firmly. "If there had been a problem with the horse his grooms would have alerted him and he will have seen to it, Legolas." I think it is a watertight argument but he is not listening. Irrational fear runs through his veins and drowns out all.
"Aragorn is angry with me!" He repeats his belief of earlier. "He will not have bothered—"
"Legolas!" My retort is sharp and disapproving. I do not wish to be rough with him but I must do something to regain some control here. "What nonsense is that? You do not think logically and you do Aragorn a disservice. I am ashamed of you!" It works. He blinks at my tone and stares at me with those wild fearful eyes.
"Aragorn is your friend. He has just gone to the very edges of death to save you and do not think it has not damaged him too. You are not the only one who struggles. He would no more leave an animal to suffer as you would—especially one you loved—no matter how angry he may or may not be. Use your brain, lad, and logic to defeat this fear. Take back your control."
He is shaking as he listens to me and I can see the struggle that occurs inside his mind written clear upon his face. This is not easy what I ask of him, but then I did tell him it would be a hard road we walked. The alternative is to set him on a boat to Valinor and I will not do that.
"You are right." Painfully he forces the words out in the end. "I am not being fair. He would not do that."
"You see. If you have heard nothing then all will be well. Sit down, Legolas and eat, and when you are calm we will go and you can see for yourself."
"I cannot eat."
"You will eat. I am not taking you out into the city until I am sure you have control of yourself so we have plenty of time." And I sit myself down helping myself to another of those delicious sweet cakes he managed to acquire for us. I do not look at him, and I take my time, as if we have all the time in the world at our disposal.
"Sit down then, Legolas," I say and although I can feel his glare burning into the back of my neck I do not flinch. He will have to do a lot more than that to change the mind of a stubborn dwarf. "These cakes are delicious! If you wish to have one you need to hurry up for I am not saving them for you."
Our leaving is not up for debate and I need to let him know that. We do not go until I am happy with his state of mind.
In the end he sees sense and it does not take long. Legolas is no fool, even jumbled as he is. He sits, and he eats, and I ignore his mutters of discontent. He can call me all the names he wishes to, it will make no difference and he knows it.
And only when his breathing slows, his clenched fists relax, and he eats, only then do we go.
It is a relief when we finally reach the stables, I cannot pretend otherwise. Legolas has been on a knifes edge, wound so tight even a badly timed look earns me a sharp rebuke, but to his credit he has at least made it here. I do not know whether to be despairing—for if he is this upset over the thought of a neglected horse how can he ever lead anyone—or excited, because he has managed some kind of control. He has made it through the crowds of eager Men all clamouring to see him as we walked past. He has made it all the way to the other side of the city and to any casual observer he appears to be calm. To me, however, he is a maelstrom of emotion and it makes me wonder . . .just how much does Legolas usually hide from us all behind those walls of his?
By the time we reach our destination he is almost as anxious as he was in the kitchen and I am forced to say something where I have remained quiet most of our journey through the streets.
"Logically all will be well with her, Legolas, you must keep telling yourself that." By Durin's beard I hope I am right. I am beginning to feel tense myself thinking about the nightmare this may turn into if the horse is languishing. A picture of Aragorn as he tears strips off me for my carelessness floats into my mind. I should, perhaps, have found out ahead of time if the horse was well before I brought Legolas here.
"I am!" he snaps. "I am telling myself that. I am doing nothing else, but they are just empty words."
"It is the truth, Legolas." And how I hope it is.
When the head stableman comes out smiling; greeting Legolas effusively, it is like the lifting of a heavy weight from my heart. All must be well if they are so relaxed and happy to see him and I can breathe again.
"My Lord!" The groom exclaims, "It is good to see you so well." It has been obvious during our trip through the city news of Legolas' accident has been a talking point amongst the citizens. Many have been wanting to wish him well and congratulate him on his ability to walk upright. It seems they have all been worried about his welfare.
"I want to see Ferveren." Legolas is abrupt, verging on rudeness but this is not, in itself, unusual. Sometimes he can be like that. It is as if, on some days, the intricacies of polite mortal conversation pass him by. I have noticed the Sons of Elrond can suffer from the same affliction. It must be an elvish thing I have decided. How they live together without continually causing offence to each other I do not know.
"And you will find her well!" the man exclaims, "The young Lord has done a fine job caring for her."
And Legolas breathes at last. In fact I reach a steadying hand to ensure he stays on his feet as he slumps in relief. He almost misses the last part of that sentence . . . but not quite.
"The young Lord?" He asks.
"Prince Eldarion. He has been here every day. That boy has such a gift with horses, I have never seen the like." The stableman is effusive in his praise and Legolas is astonished.
"Aragorn has brought him down here every day?"
"Oh, not the King, no. Lord Elrohir it is who comes with him."
Well you could knock me over with a feather! I am as surprised as Legolas sounds. The idea Elrohir would go out of his way to do that is astonishing. Even just to remember about the drafted horse shows a knowledge of Legolas I did not know he had.
Legolas is off then, pushing past the stableman and down towards the stalls. I follow, just to check he does not fall apart over some unforeseen trauma but I need not have worried. The horse greets him before he even gets there with a whinny of delight and then the two of them are prancing like foals around each other—crazy elf. I leave him there, his forehead resting against the horse's neck as he sings lullabies to her in his strange forest language and retreat back to the stableman. Legolas will be safe here without me breathing down his neck and I wish to find out more about these visits from Elrohir.
I settle myself down in a chair in the corner, watching the man as he works. After the long walk across the city at Legolas' hectic pace it is a welcome break to get off my feet, I must admit.
"It is good to see the Prince looking so well," the man says to me cheerfully. "We had heard—" he drops his voice, suddenly serious, "We had heard his injuries were serious. That it is a miracle he survived at all."
"Ah they are tougher than they look, these elves," I smile. "I know he is a spindly, skinny thing but he is strong."
"It must be true," the man says with a frown creasing his forehead, "that elves cannot die for I have heard they thought him dead when they pulled him out and then suddenly he lived!"
So that is how they are explaining Legolas' miraculous recovery . . . As an example of his immortality. Well I think I will continue to let him think that. Better that than rumours of Aragorn resurrecting the dead. I think it is time I steered our conversation away from this morbid subject.
"So Lord Elrohir has bought the boy down here you say, every day?" This is what I wish to know.
"Indeed." The stableman stops his work and turns to face me. "Everyday they have been here and thank goodness! That horse is unmanageable. What we would have done otherwise I do not know."
"And did he say why? What brought him here which such regularity?"
"I assume because he knew it needed to be done." He answers me in surprise, "Why else? He does not say much, the Elf Lord. Just sits and waits for the boy. I must admit I always find him intimidating . . . He is quite stern" he gives me a shrug, "The stable boys are terrified of him."
I am not surprised at that. Stern is in fact a very generous description of moody Elrohir. But it is obvious he has nothing to tell me that will throw light on Elrohir's motivations. It is so strange. He visits Legolas and watches over him like a hawk, he murmurs promises to him in Sindarin, and now he cares for his horse. Why? None of this is expected Elrohir behaviour. It confuses me and I feel I am missing something here. Something important.
I expect a cavorting, joyous elf when I finally move from the comfort of my chair and return to Legolas. I thought I might face a challenge keeping his riotous silvan enthusiasm in check after the relief of finding the house hale and hearty but to my surprise it is not so. He is quiet and withdrawn and it worries me.
His silent melancholy lasts throughout our trip back to palace and we are halfway back before I can stand it no longer.
"Why so glum, Legolas?" I finally ask, "The horse was well. I thought your time with her would lift your spirits, not suffocate them."
"It was so real," he says, stopping in his tracks as he turns to me, "the panic, my fear she would be languishing. It was real, Gimli. But you were right all along. It was not logical. It was all in my mind. If I think about it now, of course Aragorn would have seen to her wellbeing."
"It was real to you, lad," I pat his hand gently in response for he looks absolutely stricken.
"How can I do it, Gimli?" His voice is low and urgent. "How can I lead my people? How can I be responsible for anything? If a horse causes me so much anguish, how can I look after them? I will have to ask Erynion to lead in my place."
So the thoughts I had myself earlier have finally occurred to him. Certainly leading his people as he is now is beyond him. But we will change that. I am sure of it. I just have to get him to see it.
"Legolas!" He stands there with his head in his hands and I cannot afford to let him wallow, so I am my sternest with him. "It has only been one day, one day we have been trying to fix this. Look at all you have achieved. Yesterday I found you hiding in bushes in Arwen's Garden of all places. Today we have walked across the entire city, amongst the chaos that is these men and they have not noticed anything amiss with you. Give yourself time."
"I should have known," He is not listening to me. His mind has flitted off into self-recrimination, doubt and misery. The progress we have made today eludes him. "Eldarion told me!" His eyes when he lifts his head to look at me are despairing. "He came to see me and he told me he was caring for Ferveren. But I could not hear him, Gimli. The sea . . . It drowned out everything. Until Elrohir—" He stops himself abruptly then. There is something about that Noldor he does not want me to know . . . The rushed and anxious way he explained Elrohir's presence in his room this morning, and now this sudden clamming up at the mention of his name.
And Legolas' agitation has returned. Any good the visit to the mare has achieved is washed away by this memory of a wrong done to Eldarion. It was a brief period of calm amongst the raging, surging storm that is his mind.
And I feel the positivity I had begun to feel, ebb away. Perhaps Elladan is right? Perhaps the sheer willpower of a dwarf is not enough to fix this? Perhaps my beloved friend is doomed to remain this jumbled and we will have no choice but to say goodbye and send him across the sea.
"If it worries you, Legolas," I say softly, "Then that is easily fixed. We will see Eldarion now and you can tell him what a good job he has done, how much that means to you. If you did not hear him when he came to you . . . it is still fixable, Legolas!"
I have to keep him focused on that. I have to convince him we can do this. He has to believe me.
Even if I begin to not believe it myself.
The maids direct us to Arwen's room in our search for Eldarion and Legolas hesitates outside the door, as if he is afraid to enter, which makes little sense to me.
"I was cutting and cruel," he says to me then, "I hurt him. I said things I did not mean."
"Then we will make things right, Legolas." I take his arm and propel him forward giving him no more chance to delay. I will not let him flee from this, no matter how difficult it may prove to be for him.
But he pulls back, resisting, eyes filled with a desperate fear.
"I do not want to do that again, Gimli! I do not want to hurt him further . . . I do not trust myself."
"Then trust me," I tell him. "If control elludes you we will leave. I will make sure the boy is safe and I will make sure you are safe."
His relationship with Eldarion is a source of joy for Legolas, I know this. It is simple, uncomplicated and easy. He loves him with all his heart—we both do—this child of Aragorn's and I think Eldarion will be a good weapon in this fight to reclaim my friend. But first I must ease Legolas' fear or he will just avoid the boy and that will not do at all.
Eldarion sits at a desk, head bent over a book when we enter. He is not a scholar and so I am not surprised the expression on Arwen's face as she sits next to him is one of no little amount of frustration. When she looks up and sees Legolas however she is transformed.
"Legolas!" She leaps to her feet in an instant and her smile is one of pure joy. "It is so good to see you!" The boy however sits and stares. Normally there would be no keeping him away from Legolas but instead he is silent and still, eyes wide, fists clenched, his tension patently visible. So Legolas has not overstated this then, and he sees it too. He watches the boy, eyes drawn to him and it is left to me to exchange pleasantries with Arwen. Legolas barely notices her existence.
"I have been to the stables." He says it abruptly, cutting across mine and Arwen's conversation as if we were not even there. Honestly, in his current state he is taking this elven directness to ridiculous extremes. "I went to see Ferveren. She is beautiful, Eldarion, and so well. You have done a fine job. I was so worried . . . " He trails off as the child continues to stare at him with his wide brown eyes.
"I told you," the boy says softly, "I told you I was looking after her." His voice may be quiet but the look he gives Legolas is an accusing one and Legolas is undone.
"I am so sorry," The words pour out of him in a jumbled rush. "I could not hear you, Eldarion. The sea . . . It told me lies . . . " He does not know how to handle this, I can tell. Does the boy even know of the sea? He has never given any indication of it. That wide eyed stare is cutting a deep wound straight to my friends heart and while I want to let him find the strength to cope with this I also promised him he could trust me to keep the child safe. I watch as Legolas rubs his hand anxiously across his face. He is going to stumble here and seeing him fall apart will not help the boy. I must intervene.
But in the very moment I open my mouth to speak and edge forward to guide Legolas out of this distress, the boy moves. Fast as an arrow is he across the room, ricocheting in to Legolas' chest, his arms wrapped tight around him.
"I thought you died, Legolas!" He cries, head buried in Legolas' tunic which does nothing to muffle the beginning of sobs. "Elrohir took me to the wall, he said whoever was under the rocks would be dead and Maewen was there. She was crying and I knew it was you. I thought you were dead!"
Poor Legolas, Eldarion's distress is almost as bad for him as the silent staring of before and he stands, holding the boy tight and gazing at me . . . at Arwen, the picture of bewilderment.
"Elrohir took him to the wall?" He asks her.
"There was a call for help, Legolas, and he answered it. He had no idea it involved you or he never would have taken Eldarion with him. " Arwen answers gently, a hand on his shoulder as if she knows he sways in the storm of his mind and needs our steadiness to keep him upright.
"Father was crying," the boy's high voice continues from where his head is buried safe in Legolas' chest. "I have never seen him cry . . . And Elrohir . . . I could not breathe." He is crying himself as Legolas strokes his hair, bending his head to murmur softly,
"I am all right little one, I am well."
He is not well of course and someone will have to explain this to the boy. He is old enough to understand Legolas is not himself and needs gentleness from us all. I need to speak to Aragorn, or Arwen, about preparing Eldarion if I am to use him in our fight. But for now I am interested in his words.
I was not here when they dragged Legolas from under that pile of stone but I have seen the end result of similar accidents before. I can well imagine it. . . So much grief. I have missed a moment of agony—how terrible it must have been for them all—especially this small child, watching his father's pain.
And the Noldor wept as well?
I cannot imagine that and I file it away, to bring out later and inspect, another piece of this puzzle.
Legolas slowly, gently prises Eldarion free from his tight hold upon him holding him out so he can look upon his tear-stained face.
"All is well now, Eldarion," he says but I hear the tension within his voice, I hear it waver and know that he struggles to find a path through this. Usually Legolas is an expert at dealing with this small boy's highs and lows. Today he is drowning in it.
He takes the small hands in his own but looks up in surprise.
"What have you done to yourself?" He asks, and I see on the child's hands, healing cuts and blisters. They look as if they have been painful and make me wince. Legolas traces them with his slender fingers. "What is this, Eldarion?"
"I tried to save you," the boy whispers.
It is a terrible image, this child on his knees in the dust, scrambling through the rocks trying to reach one he loved until his hands bled. It hurts my heart to think of and it breaks Legolas.
It is then his tears, which have been simmering beneath the surface, begin to flow. He holds the boy tight, almost suffocating him with his love as if he wishes to reach in and wipe the memory of that day from the child's mind.
"I am sorry, I am so sorry," he gasps into the boy's hair as he weeps and rocks him.
"Oh, Legolas," Arwen is there then. She leans against him, her dark head next to his, reaching up to cup his face with her hand. "What goes on in here?" She asks, and she strokes the hair from his face where it has fallen, wipes the tears away as they stream silently down his cheeks as you imagine a mother would. I wonder what she senses in the chaos of his mind?
He looks at her then and his eyes are filled with a sadness that is painful for me to see.
"I do not know," he says quietly, "I do not know."
I take Legolas to his room when we leave the boy. Arwen has smoothed the jagged edges of his distress with her elven magic but he is exhausted. The effort it takes him to maintain any control at all has completely drained him. I think he needs peace and quiet, away from others . . . For company only means emotional turmoil for him. He is better out of a crowd.
But as we walk I cannot help but dwell on Eldarion's words. Why would Elrohir, of all people, weep for the loss of Legolas? Unless it was his brothers pain that tore at his heart, as it did Eldarion's. I have never seen Aragorn weep myself and I do not think it would be easy to watch.
"I am so tired, Gimli." Legolas throws himself on the bed when we arrive and he looks it too, tired and weary. "The effort it takes to do this . . . You have no idea."
"I can guess, Legolas. Rest and I will get you something to eat."
"No! I am not hungry. I could eat nothing. It is not that long since breakfast."
"It is hours since breakfast!" He never eats enough, even when he is well. He is a spindly, scrawny thing and I do not know where he gets his strength from.
I get nowhere with my protests but he does smile and that is a relief to see.
"Go and eat, Gimli. I know you are hungry. I do not need you here and I am sure my company becomes tiresome."
He is right, I am starving, and a break will be welcome but I hesitate. I am loathe to leave him alone. A myriad of potential disasters run through my mind but he picks up on my hesitation and it displeases him.
"What? You do not trust me even to sleep by myself? For that will be all I will be doing."
I am torn between honesty and kindness but in the end I decide I must tell him the truth.
"I do not trust you as you are, Legolas. Should something unexpected occur I worry you will not be able to keep yourself safe. We have achieved much today and I do not want to lose that."
I brace myself for an angry response but it does not come, instead he shuts his eyes and sighs.
"I suppose you are right," he says. "You are doomed to starve then, waiting here as I rest."
"I have no intention of starving!" For now we have begun to talk of food my stomach rumbles and who knows how long he will sleep. "I will fetch someone to keep you company while I eat. Who would you like?"
"Maewen." He is response is sudden and certain, and I am not surprised, but then, "or Elrohir . . . " he adds under his breath.
I think he does not expect me to hear him. In my travels I have discovered most people believe us dwarves to have not the sharpest of hearing. I do not know why that is when in fact we can hear a pin drop across a crowded room. Still it has come in handy for Aragorn and Legolas both subscribe to this belief and I have spent many years cultivating it so at times just like this I can catch them unawares.
He has given me the perfect window of opportunity.
"What lies between you and Elrohir, Legolas?" I ask him.
He freezes. He does not move a muscle and I can almost see his brain race in a desperate search for an answer.
"Nothing? Really, Legolas? Why was he here so early in the morning when Aragorn specifically told him to stay away?"
"He told him to stay away?" He sits up then suddenly all attention.
"Indeed. Aragorn believes Elrohir is a danger to you. Why would he think that?"
"He is not a danger. Aragorn does not understand!"
"Then explain it too me, Legolas, for it is obvious something goes on and I can well believe that moody elf is not the best person for you to spend time with the way you are. Why does Elrohir spend every day at the stables while Eldarion cares for your horse?"
"I do not know!" Legolas throws his hands in the air in frustration. "Because Eldarion wanted it and Aragorn was too busy? I do not know why he does that Gimli! Why will you not let this go?"
"Why will you not tell me the truth?" I answer his question with one of my own but he sits there, his mouth in a rigid line of stubborn determination not to tell me another word.
I know I should not go there. I know after all these years this is the worst possible time for me to bring this up and it feels cruel to do so in his current state but I need to know. In the depth of my bones I feel this is important. How can I help him with only half the information I need?
And so I say it, no matter that he stares at me with a hidden terror in his eyes, no matter that I know he does not want to hear it.
After all these years I say it to help me help him.
"I know what happened between the two of you that night before the Black Gate."
"I know what happened between the two of you that night before the Black Gate."
The look on Legolas' face is one of sheer horror.
"How can you?" he gasps, "How can you know?"
In truth I did not. Oh I have long wondered and suspected but I did not know until this very moment.
Legolas was fey and wild that night long ago. The sea-longing was new and distracting and he was melancholy also. He wallowed in thoughts of our death and made me promise to take the news to his father should he fall.
I had tried to keep his mind on other things. We had spent time with Aragorn and the Sons of Elrond and I almost felt I had succeeeded in clearing his mind of the sea and our deaths until he gave me the slip and disappeared. I have discovered wood-elves are very difficult to keep track of.
I could find him nowhere amongst the soliders and the more I looked fruitlessly the more anxious I got. In the end I attempted to climb the only ridge there was following the advice Aragorn gave me back in Rohan that if you seek a missing wood-elf you should look to the heights. It was not an easy climb and I cursed him long and hard as I stumbled it. The sun was rising, I remember, so at least I could see where I put my feet.
Then suddenly Legolas was there, strolling down the rocks, whistling as if he had not a care in the world. He seemed lighter somehow . . . His soft glow was brighter and he lit up like the sun when he saw me.
"Gimli, what are you doing here?"
"Looking for you, you fool," I grumbled, "What are you doing up here? Why so happy?"
And he gestured to the rising sun.
"Look at the sunrise! It is a glorious day to die is it not?" Hours before he had been miserable and now he was buoyant. It was really quite odd.
And odder still when Elrohir appeared behind him, his eyes open wide in surprise when he saw me.
"You too?" I asked him, "You take foolish walks up treacherous cliffs in the dark as well?"
"I sought some distraction," he snapped, not at all pleased to see me. "Is there a law against that?"
"Distraction?" Legolas laughed brightly at those words, "Did you find it, oh Noldor?" And I wondered why he chose today of all days to needle at the older Elf. Even more surprising, Elrohir did not bite back as I would normally expect.
"I found it." He answered simply but the look he gave Legolas . . . it made me stop and stare. He was like a besotted fool. I am not the most romantic of dwarves but I knew that look.
But Legolas simply tossed his head and laughed, a laugh as glorious as the sun and the look slid off his shoulders unanswered.
So I watched them, when I was not engrossed in fighting for my life. I saw the tenderness from Elrohir when Legolas collapsed at the end of the battle. The way he caught him when he fell, the way he stood guard, his quiet, almost gentle visits to our tent afterwards. And I saw Legolas seemingly oblivious to it all. In fact he was prickly, argumentative, deliberately pushing the Noldor away.
Then he arrived at this wild idea to visit the Dead Marshes with only the Sons of Elrond for company. He would not listen when I pleaded to accompany him. He dismissed me with a wave though I knew no good would come of it. Not while the Noldor watched him with such longing eyes and he seemed not to see it.
I was right.
They returned, Elrohir, cold as ice, any tenderness obliterated, and Legolas, trampled upon, dejected, awash with grief and sea-longing.
I do not know what happened but I have not forgiven Elrohir whatever it may have been he did there.
And so they have remained; at odds, pouring vicious words upon each other for no good reason and it is all too raw and aggressive to be mere dislike. I have continued to watch. Some days I am convinced it must be love at the heart of it, that what happened before the Black Gate is as plain as day, but then, in the middle of one of their cutting exchanges it seems ridiculous and I scold myself, I tell myself I am the dwarf with too much imagination my mother always complained that I was.
Still I will not tell Legolas all of this, I will bluff a little longer.
"It was obvious, Legolas, when I found the pair of you climbing down those cliffs that morning."
"It was not obvious to me!"
Oh, he is so difficult to help, my stubborn, difficult elf.
"Look," I tell him with a sigh, "I have told you I know. Will you cease this silliness and just tell me what goes on now."
"Elrohir . . . " he gets as far as the name before his voice trails off in to nothing and his shoulders slump. "I cannot explain it, Gimli. I do not have the words to make you understand. You will not understand."
"Try me." I will not let him of so easily and so I fold my arms and give him a glare, "unless you think me lacking in intelligence?"
"No!" He cries, "It is not that. It is Silvan, and you are a dwarf. How can I make a dwarf understand the ways of a Silvan heart?"
"I have managed to get my head around many other of your strange foibles, why not this? You do me a disservice if you will not even allow me to try, Legolas."
And so he tells me, a halting, garbled tale of misunderstanding and hurt, of unrequited love and a newly discovered one, and it seems a lot of my supposings since the Black Gate have been true. I cannot help but take time to pat myself on the back for my astuteness.
"Elrohir takes away my sea-longing!" Legolas sighs happily. "He burns with a light so bright, when we are together it is as if fire dances upon our very souls!"
It is Legolas who burns brightly as he tells me this. His eyes shine, he glows, and I am filled with disquiet for this cannot be good.
What about the girl?
I almost do not want to ask him and disrupt his happiness but I must. That he may choose to love Elrohir does not bother me. Legolas is who he is and if it makes him happy I will accept it . . . But how will this make him happy in the long run? I know he loves Maewen. This can only end in tears.
"What about Maewen, Legolas?"
"She sent him to me." His smile is soft and dreamy as he speaks, but his words make no sense.
"Legolas," I grasp his arm in an attempt to keep him focused, it is a technique Aragorn uses frequently and with great success when he needs to keep Legolas in the here and now. "What about, Maewen? Do you love her no more?"
"Oh I love her!" He spreads his arms wide, "I cannot even describe how much, how important she is. My spirit languishes without her." So he has obviously not thought this through at all.
"You cannot have them both, Legolas. Love does not work like that."
"It does for us!" He frowns at me, "Maewen has another love also,"
"Legolas!" He truly spouts nonsense now. Does he delude himself? "Maewen is loyal to you. I have seen no evidence of any other!"
"I knew you would not understand, as Aragorn does not. Instead he is angry." He cries.
That is the third time he has mentioned Aragorn's anger to me today. It is obviously worrying him and I try once again to reassure.
"I tell you, Legolas, he is concerned for you only, not angry. He has said nothing to me that suggests that."
But he will not hear me.
"He discovered us . . . It must have looked bad, and Elrohir says he will not listen . . . " He rubs a hand over his forehead in distress and I can see it is too much for him now, this conversation. No wonder he looked so distressed and alone in the midst of his loved ones yesterday, with all this swirling around him.
He sits now in a ball, long legs drawn up with his arms wrapped around his knees. He looks young and miserable and I risk all we have achieved today if I pursue this. I am old enough and wise enough to know when to leave well enough alone.
Instead I pat his arm gently.
"Well you have told me this and I am still here, Legolas. It will take more than your strange Silvan ways to get rid of me. Does it matter I do not understand it . . . Hmm?"
"You are still here . . . " he murmurs, his voice loaded with tiredness and fatigue. A haze flits around the edge of his gaze, the beginnings of his strange sleep where he will stare into space wandering through his alien elvish dreams and yet for all intents and purposes look awake. I am no more used to watching that now than I was when we ran across the plains of Rohan and he slept as we moved. It was eerie and disconcerting and quite the hardest thing to get used to when having an elf for a friend.
"Lie down before you sleep, Legolas! You know I hate it when you do not." I shake his shoulder gently and he jerks his head towards me, startled.
"Will you fetch Maewen for me as you said?" he asks and there is an hint of desperation as he does so.
"I will fetch her and I will speak to Aragorn for you and I will get to the bottom of this drama you have entangled yourself in." I say firmly, and he smiles. Not one of his bright, brilliant smiles that lights up the world but a smile nonetheless.
"What would I do without you, Gimli?"
A long night stetches ahead of me. There is a list a mile long now of people I must speak to, Aragorn and Maewen are only the beginning for there is Elrohir—oh there are definitely some things I want to say to him . . . And Arwen, for I wish to know exactly what it was she felt in my friend's scrambled mind. Did she sense a way through the chaos?
One thing is certain. He will not move forward until I find a way out of this disasterous mess surrounding him.
And I really have no idea where to begin.
My first problem is where to find the girl. I have promised Legolas I will send her but where does she go when she is not with him?
I try first with Erynion for it seems the most logical place to begin.
He answers my knock promptly. Quiet, steady Erynion is one of my favourite elves and just who Legolas needs by his side to anchor him during his most turbulent storms. Erynion is gentle and yet resolute. He reminds me of a dwarf in his steadfastness. Perhaps that is why Legolas gets on so well with him?
"Gimli!" He greets me with a genuine smile. There is nothing about Erynion that is pretence or deceit. "I hope you being here does not mean anything is amiss with Legolas?"
"Nothing is amiss." I say it perhaps more confidently than I feel given the tangled mess Legolas has just described to me. "I look for Maewen. Legolas is sleeping but he asked me to fetch her."
"I am here." She sits before the fire, the flicker of flames sending light dancing across her lovely features. Oh, Legolas is so lucky to have her. I hope he is not throwing this away needlessly over a fancy. I would have said it was not like him at all. But what exactly is Legolas now?
"Is he well, Gimli?" she asks, "Has the day gone well?" I hesitate before I answer. There is much I want to tell her but not with Erynion here. An unexpected knot of anxiety twists in my stomach at the thought of discussing Elrohir and despite myself I throw a glance in Erynion's direction . She sees it of course, as does he. Dratted elves and their all seeing, all knowing eyes. Can you hide nothing from them?
"Do you wish me to leave, Gimli?" He asks softly. "I will sit with Legolas until you can get there, Maewen." He is gone before I can even protest, a last glance over his shoulder at her and the way her eyes follow him as he leaves, lingering on the door when even his shadow has disappeared makes me wonder . . . and Legolas' words float in to my mind, Maewen has her own love . . . could it be?
But I shake my head in disbelief for it must be nonsense. Ridiculous dwarven imaginings, that is all it is.
"What is it you need to tell me, Gimli?" She asks, and, as I turn towards her I am gripped with a sudden nervous terror. This all seemed straight forward when I was with Legolas, but now...... What if she does not know of Elrohir? What if I am about to break her heart? What if I end up with a weeping Elleth? I am no good with crying females, no good at all.
I am left a stammering idiot and she looks at me with concern.
"What is it? What is wrong?" The edge of fear in her voice brings me to my senses. What am I doing, frightening her like this? All because I, myself, am afraid of some heartbreak and tears.
"Legolas has been speaking to me about Elrohir." It is hard to say but at least now it is out there.
"Oh!" The look of relief on her face is positively joyous. What bad news did she think I brought? "I am glad he talks to you."
"He tells me . . . " I find something intensely interesting to stare at on my hands as I pull anxiously at my beard. How do I say the rest of it? "He mentions . . . " I find I cannot do it. I cannot tell her this!
When at last I look at her in desperation she sits, head to the side as if she is studying an oddity—something unusual she cannot make sense of—and there is the smallest hint of a smile. I do believe she finds amusement in my discomfort!
"It is alright, Gimli," In the end she leans forward and pats my hand gently, "I know. I know all about Elrohir, that he loves Legolas and Legolas loves him in return. It does not worry me."
"It does not worry you?" I splutter out my incredulous question. "I do not believe that. I know how much you care for him and he still loves you. He has told me that himself. He says he cannot exist without you." I am in a rush to reassure her for she is so beautiful, she loves my friend so deeply, looks after him so carefully and she deserves better than this from him. "This thing with Elrohir is just a fleeting confusion born from Legolas' scrambled mind. It is not real Maewen!"
"Oh, Gimli, you do not understand us. I know Legolas loves me. Elrohir is no threat to me. It is what we do, how we love—us Silvans. How can one person only reach all the parts of you? How can one person alone make you happy?"
They are mad—all of them—these flighty Silvan creatures and I tell her so.
"I am not the most romantic of dwarves, Maewen, but I know enough to know that is the way of it. You do not see Aragorn searching for a love other than Arwen!"
She throws back her head and laughs. It is a bright sparkling sound, there is no bitterness there at all.
"Elessar is a King of Men, Gimli, How would he ever make that work? And Arwen is Noldor, not Silvan . . . she is the Evenstar—the brightest of all our people. If she is not enough for him, who would be?"
She is correct there. Briefly I am distracted by the thought of Aragorn trying to explain a second queen to his tedious lords and I cannot help but laugh at that idea myself. It was, perhaps, not the most sensible of comparisons to use to make my point.
"I know it is strange to you," she says. "I know it is not your way but this is how we love where I am from, where Legolas is from. I admit it frightened me at first for Legolas had not told me of Elrohir and that is not the way of it. But when did I give him the chance to speak of what went on when you stood at the Black Gate? I did not want to hear it, any of it. You know this."
I do know it. She behaved badly when my friend returned to their forest after the war and Legolas has spoken often to me of that, when he finally got around to telling me of her existence at all. I know her reluctance to listen caused him much anguish, but still . . .
"It is not easy, Gimli," she continues as I mull over her words, "to help Legolas and keep him whole. He is not the Legolas I once knew and he struggles so hard to remain here. It does affect us. The sea-longing is something I cannot reach. He seldom speaks of it to me and I do not understand it and yet it taints everything. Now Elrohir can help. Elrohir can reach that part of Legolas which is beyond me, he can lift the sea-longing so Legolas and I can simply be. I have missed that so much. Without Elrohir you could not reach Legolas to help him now. Why would I stand in the way of that?"
She does make sense, I must admit that. And if she is willing to tolerate this who am I to judge? But there is still one thing which bothers me.
"That is all very well, Maewen, but you forget one thing. Elrohir is not Silvan."
In fact he is the least Silvan elf I have ever met and I cannot imagine him coping with this chaotic Silvan idea of love ever.
Her face falls and she is instantly serious.
"I know. I know that, Gimli and it worries me, that perhaps it will all fall apart and Legolas will be left hurting in the middle of it. But what can I do? I must believe Elrohir when he tells me he can do this, although I worry he does not know the reality of it all. I have to make this work, for my own sake as well as Legolas'"
"You would stand aside then, if it came to that?" I am horrified at the thought.
"No," It is a soft, sad sound, that one word. "I can not do that. I can not give him up. We have been through too much. He is too much a part of me. Even when . . ." It is as if she is about to tell me something then but she changes her mind and simply gives a small, sad smile, "I can not give him up even if it means I lose something else. It is always him."
And my mind is drawn back to that look she gave Erynion as he left. That lingering, yearning watching. I remember the closeness between them I have often been confused by. A tenderness that never crosses a line and yet at the same time also, does. What is the story there? Suddenly I have to know and I decide directness is my best tactic. I am done with beating around the bush attempting to be discrete. It is not my strength. There is nothing discrete about a dwarf.
"Legolas told me you loved another but he did not say whom and I thought he deluded himself. Is it Erynion?"
Her eyes blink wide in shock. She did not expect that and for a moment all is silence.
"Yes." At first I think that is all she will give me, an acknowledgement, but eventually she continues. "I loved Erynion first. He has a quiet calm that soothes me. Then Legolas came with his brightness, his vivacity. He entranced me. I thought I could have it all. I could have, had we all been silvan. But Legolas struggled. The Sindar part of him could not understand why I needed Erynion. It destroyed them, Legolas and Erynion, and I was trapped inbetween. So Erynion stepped aside and I chose Legolas."
"And now you embark on this again? When it has already failed once? When Elrohir is as Noldor as they come? When Legolas has already shown he cannot do this? Are you all mad?"
It is a disaster waiting to happen.
No, it is a disaster already happening.
"Legolas has changed. He understands now that my love for Erynion did not threaten him, did not threaten us. Loving Elrohir has opened his eyes to that."
" Legolas is a tangled, chaotic mess!"
"Gimli," she grasps my hands between hers and she is all intensity and earnestness. "I know it sounds crazy. I know to one who is not silvan it sounds even crazier. I will make this work. For Legolas' sake I will make it work this time. He needs Elrohir. He needs to be free of the sea. Elrohir and I will be a team. We will work together to keep Legolas safe. I will give him no reason to doubt, no reason to resent me."
"But perhaps he will resent you even without reason?"
She sighs and her shoulders slump in defeat.
"I understand why you doubt, Gimli. But that will change nothing. I have spoken to Elrohir and this is what we do. We are on the same page in this."
"Then I must speak to Elrohir too!" I push back my chair and get to my feet. This conversation has done nothing to ease my fears. "I would have his thoughts on this. I am no friend to Legolas if I sit back and let him sail towards heartache. The way he is now he will not cope with it."
She lets me go, and when I look back at her when I reach the door she looks sad, defeated and alone. It breaks my heart.
"What of you?" I ask before I go. "You do all this for Legolas. Will he give you back Erynion?" For she needs someone. She has Legolas, she gives up much for Legolas. She needs something for herself.
"He says so." There are tears in her eyes behind her smile. "But at the moment Erynion will not allow it. He has been scarred."
I am glad I am a dwarf I think as I leave. I am glad we are so simple, so straightforward. I have sometimes envied Legolas his, lightness, his agility, his luminosity, but now. . .
I would not be a Silvan—as she is, now—for anything.
I watch my brother carefully. I know I am annoying him but I feel I have missed so much. So many years I should have been caring for him, easing his load and smoothing his path and I turned a blind eye to it all. I chose not to see.
I will make up for it
"I am alright
, Elrohir!" He complains to me. "I do not need you fussing around me. Go to Legolas if you need someone to care for."
"Legolas is with the dwarf and so I
am free to be with you. I have much to make up for, Elladan. "
"You have nothing
to make up for!" He scowls. "It was my decision to keep the sea-longing from you."
"And I should have known anyway. What kind of twin am I?"
"The best." He says it with a soft smile. "Please relax about this Elrohir. You have done much for my sea-longing even if you did not know it. Being with you is a balm to my weary soul. Always your presence silences the cry of the sea."
He has said that before and it is something that confuses me.
"I do not understand that Elladan, and yet Legolas says the same. He tells me I burn his sea-longing away, that it despises me and runs from me, and yet I do nothing deliberately. I worry that I do not understand it for how can I be sure I will always be able to help when I do not know what it is I do?"
He shrugs. It is obvious he has no clue either.
"I cannot help you." He says, "It is just less
when I am with you. I do not know why but the yearning that tears at my heart fades with the sound of your song. The sea-longing is valar sent. They call us to the light whether we wish it or not. Perhaps it is your Maia blood that negates it? Do not think too hard on it Elrohir. Just rejoice in what you can do."
The knock on the door that interrupts us is both urgent and insistant. There is frustration in that knock.
Elladan answers and when I see it is the dwarf my stomach churns. He should be with Legolas. He is supposed
to be with Legolas. Why is he not?
"I wish to speak with your brother," He snaps to Elladan and it is obvious he is not in the best of moods.
"My brother is here," Elladan is soft with his reply and he steps aside so the dwarf can see me . . . And I get the full force of his scowl turned upon me.
"I would talk to you." It is a demand not a request. "In private." But I do not appreciate being ordered around by a dwarf. I will talk to him certainly but I will not be dictated to.
"Anything you have to say to me can be said to Elladan." I say cooly, grasping my brothers arm before he can move to leave. "If you wish to speak with me you speak to him also."
The dwarf sighs heavily letting me know in no uncertain terms he is displeased.
"Is that the way of it then?" He asks. "That the two of you cannot be prised apart? Must you always be a pair and not your own selves?"
"That is the way of it." I am definite in my reply because he is right. He has defined us as perfectly as I ever could, my brother and I, there is no parting us.
"Still more problems." He mutters to himself and I wonder what he means. Still he pushes his way in to the room and unceremoniously deposits himself into one of the chairs by the fire, folding his arms. "So be it," He frowns. "If you do not wish for privacy I will give you none. Do not expect me to be discrete for I am done with that."
"Where is Legolas?" I decide to ignore his grumbling and ask what is foremost on my mind. "Why are you not with him?"
"He is with others who love him." His reply is blunt in the extreme. "You do realise that do you not? That others love him before you
"Of course!" It is a relief to know he has not left Legolas alone. Not scrambled and distractible as he is. "I only want to know he is safe."
"As if I would leave him in any way other than completely safe!" Gimli cries. "And judging by what he has been telling me he would not be safe if I left him with you!"
My stomach sinks. I know now what he alludes to. This is Estel all over again and it seems he will be no better at listening than my younger brother has been.
"You do me a disservice—" He cuts me off before I can even begin.
"No. You and Legolas do Maewen
a disservice! But Legolas is barely able to decide what to wear in the morning and so the onus for this is all on you!"
"Wait," Elladan intervenes. Always he has my back but I do not need him fighting my battles in this and so I silence him with a shake of the head before I continue.
"You do not understand. The girl came
to me. I would not have gone near Legolas otherwise. We have spoken, she and I. They live life differently, the Silvans and this is normal. It is normal
for them! Yes I love him but I would have sat on the sidelines and watched him from afar for always. She wanted
I do not regret loving Legolas, not for a second. It is as if my soul has finally found what it has been searching for for years—an all-encompassing joy. But I hate this. People whose opinion I value, like Estel and this dwarf, judging me and finding me lacking. Thinking me a usurper, or a cad. That is not who I am.
"Elrohir has acted honourably, Gimli." It is Elladan, quietly standing by my side. "He has done nothing wrong."
"I have spoken to Maewen." Gimli is on his feet now, hands on his hips, his face dark with annoyance. "I know what you say is true. If you love Legolas, so be it. But I say this, the pair of them
may be Silvan but you
are not! It is not my business who Legolas chooses to love but it is
my business if that love leads him to disaster."
"I do not lead him to disaster. I wish to save him!"
"Tell me this one thing," the dwarf says coolly. "Can you share him? Because it is not
your way and he will never give up the girl. She will always be there. Do not embark on this unless you are sure you can see it through."
"I can. I can and I will, and it is between Legolas and I, Legolas and I and Maewen. It is no concern of yours."
He is silent then. He does not reply immediately, instead he assesses me and it feels as if he weighs up my very worth with his eyes. As if I am a gem he hesitates to trade for.
"I do not believe you," he says in the end. "I no more believe you can share Legolas and his love with the girl than I believe you can fly."
It is the final straw. I have had enough of being judged and found lacking, of those who know nothing of Legolas and I pouring their scorn upon me.
"I care nothing
for what you believe or do not believe! Who do you think you are? You and Estel are both the same . . . Deliberately ignorant and blind, narrow-minded and prejudiced."
But he meets my anger with only a calm certainty.
"Oh, I am not blind. Far from it. It may surprise you to know I have had my suspicions something lay between the two of you for years. This does not shock me. Nor am I against it if you can prove your steadfastness. It is that I doubt." His quiet surety pulls the rug from under my feet and leaves me speechless. "And as for Aragorn," he continues, "I am glad you mention him for Legolas is distressed by an anger from him I have not seen. Perhaps you can explain it, for you too describe him in words I do not recognise."
"He is what I have said he is. Unreasonable, resistant, and angry. Believe it or not as you will. He will not open his mind, or his ears to listen. You were there last night . . . You heard him berate me, throw unfounded accusations at me. There is no talking to Estel."
"He shows his prejudiced mannish blood in this," Elladan murmers beside me—Elladan who is so very bitter still towards Estel. A bitterness that drips with the pain of his own sea-longing and makes me uneasy for it is true he does not see Estel clearly.
"Indeed?" Gimli replies in a voice loaded with sarcasm and disbelief. "Narrow-minded and prejudiced? Unreasonable and resistant? Have you heard yourselves? Because the man you describe so eagerly here is not my friend. Have you thought on that?"
I can only stare at him in confusion because he has caught me on the hop, left me behind with his reasoning and I am not sure what he means. What does he want us to think on?
"Shall I tell you what I have seen of Aragorn since I arrived here?" He continues. "I see exhaustion etched into his very face. I see a man so tired he can barely think, let alone reason, who berates himself his every decision as he is punished by a pair of brothers who should be aiding him not tearing him apart."
He damns us with his words and he is right, but Elladan protests.
"Estel is tired, yes, but he improves. He suffered physically from his foolish dash after Legolas into that place between worlds but while he may look unwell to you, Gimli, you who were not here
. He is much improved. He improves every day. Do not think I have not been caring for him."
"And yet you happily describe a man I do not recognise and do nothing!" The dwarf snaps back. He is having none of Elladan's reassurances. "Open your eyes! If what you say is true . . . If Aragorn is truly as unreasonable and resistant as you say do you really think the damage he suffered is limited to tiredness
? You have seen the chaotic mess of Legolas. You, yourself have spoken of the damage to his fea, of emotional turmoil that is unfixable. Have you been so twisted—the both of you—by your anger that you cannot see it is likely Aragorn suffers this very damage himself
He pours ice cold water upon my soul. His words rain upon me like darts of pain that take my breath away for he is right.
Why have we not thought of this? How have I allowed myself to be so blind, so entangled in my own troubles?
We have failed our brother.
Beside me Elladan pales. Blood drains from his face until he is white as a sheet.
"No . . ." He breathes, "I would have felt that."
"Have you even looked for it?" The dwarf snarls, "or have you dismissed any disruption to his soul as easily as you have dismissed his uncharacteristic behaviour here?"
I look to Elladan in shock. I need him to refute this, to argue why it could not be so, to blind the dwarf with his knowledge of healing, but he does not. He does not reject the idea.
"Arwen would have felt such damage," he protests, "even if I haven't. She would have come to me. She would have come
? Who tries to balance the needs of a confused and frightened boy, an exhausted, stubborn husband who no doubt holds her at arms length and a dear friend damaged beyond recognition? That is a large expectation you place upon her."
A memory flashes through my mind of my sister, in tears before me on the night of Legolas' accident. Tears at the thought of the loss of Legolas, her only elven connection here in this mannish world. Tears at the struggle she faced, torn between the ailing Estel and her terrified, traumatised son. Her feeling she failed them all. Oh my sister—what have we expected from you?
"I do not pretend Aragorn is as bad as the elf." Gimli continues unaware of the anguish his words cause me. "Obviously he is not. He functions at least, though the running of the city seems to overwhelm him. But this bizaare behaviour you describe is not
him, and I have only seen a tired, burdoned man drowning in worries and self recrimination. I would have you think on that."
He turns toward the door to leave us. He has walked in here launched an explosion into our midst and now he leaves us.
"Where do you go?" I cry. "We have not finished discussing this!"
have finished. I have told you my thoughts, now it is up to you to act upon them. See if you can manage to view Aragorn through my
eyes. I go to speak with him myself, and your sister. I want to know what she feels when she calms Legolas' tortured mind. I wonder why you
have not asked her that as well!"
And he leaves. He turns and walks away leaving nothing resolved. Not my love of Legolas and not Estel.
He leaves Elladan and I speechless . . . horrified . . .
The silence that descends upon the room after the departure of the dwarf suffocates me. Suddenly all Estel's anger, his unreasonable refusal to listen, our searing arguments, make sense. Still I look to Elladan in the hope he will somehow assuage my guilt.
"Tell me he cannot be right about this."
But Elladan does not give me what I want.
"I have been a fool," he says. "I have not looked closely enough. I should have thought of this before now. What has happened that I need a dwarf
to tell me of my own brother's ailments?"
"So you think he is
right?" I say it numbly. "You think we have missed this? Estel suffers from the same damage as Legolas?"
He looks wretched, my poor brother.
"Do not punish yourself for this," I tell him softly. "You have been struggling also. You have been swamped by Legolas' sealonging, drowning in your own. The dwarf does not know of it and if he did he would not have been so harsh with his judgement." I reach out a hand to touch and reassure him. It is a pathetic attempt really but what else can I do. "I should have thought of this, not you."
"I am the healer," he mutters bitterly. "I have been too caught up in my own anger."
He shrugs me off. He will not take my comfort. Instead he strides towards the door.
"Where do you go?"
"To Estel. Where else?" He is gone before I can stop him and I must jog to catch up, so determined is his stride.
"Now, Elladan? The dwarf will be with him. Do you think it wise? Perhaps you should calm yourself and take time to gather your thoughts?"
"Yes, now!" He turns on me, eyes flashing. "I have wasted enough time already."
He is right but still, it does not seem the best of timing to me.
Both the dwarf and Arwen are with Estel when we burst through his study door. He sits at his desk, surrounded by piles of documents, and he looks exhausted. Arwen has a letter in her hand as she sits beside him, obviously trying to help him work his way through the heavy load of paperwork he faces.
A shard of guilt pierces my heart as I gaze at the pair of them. I should have helped him with this.
He is not pleased to see us.
"Elladan." He says with a sigh, "Spare me the lecture. I have much to do. I know the fault for this all lies at my door. I do not need you to tell me yet again."
"I do not come to lecture you. I come to help you." A brilliant smile of relief bursts across Arwen's face at Elladan's words, but Estel only scowls.
"If you want to help me take Elrohir away from here."
I open my mouth to protest, to defend myself and Elladan's voice sounds clear in my head, Be silent Brother
, he says, it will not go well if you argue with him now
. It is a voice for me alone. The others do not hear it, and I hold my tongue.
Elladan himself ignores Estel's biting words. Instead he moves across towards the desk taking the paper from Arwen's hand as he does so.
"What is this?" he asks and he inspects it with a frown.
"Just one of hundreds of things I must attend to." Estel sweeps his hand across the desk with a hopelessness that makes my heart clench in worry for him. But Elladan merely smiles softly and pulls a chair up to sit beside him.
He places the letter to one side and picks up another, and another, until he has two piles in front of him. He has made but a tiny dent in the chaos on the desk.
"We will work on these tonight, you and I" he pulls one pile towards him. "It will be quicker with two, and these others," he sets the second pile off to one side, "These we will leave for Faramir, I think. There is nothing here which needs the attention of the King. I am sure there is more we can funnel his way when I look closely."
"In case you have not noticed, Elladan," Estel says bitterly, "Faramir is not here." He pushes my twin away and grabs another handful of papers from the desk in front of him as if Elladan's careful piles do not exist.
"But he will be," Elladan's voice is soft and gentle—soothing. In this moment he reminds me of my father. He is so much like him and I how miss him. I could use his guidance to steer me through this storm I find myself in.
"He will be, tomorrow evening," Elladan continues, "for I will send an urgent messenger for him tonight."
It is an inspired idea and something we should have thought of days ago. Get Estel help in the running of his city, get the clamouring lords off his back so he can rest . . . And heal.
But Estel does not think it inspired, or even needed. He reacts angrily.
will send a messenger?" He snaps, "Who are you to do that, Elladan? This is my
city. I make the decisions here."
"Listen to Elladan, please, Estel." It is Arwen, resting her head gently upon his shoulder. "You know rest is what you need. For me, please."
He hesitates, she has found a chink in his armour, a pathway to commonsense. Always she has been his weakness. I wonder if she nudges his mind in the direction it needs to go? Of all of us, Arwen is the most like Galadriel, though she seldom indulges in her abilities and never, I think, with Estel.
Whatever— Elladan sees his opportunity in that hesitation and pushes his argument home.
"Come, Estel. You know a great King is one who can ask for help when he needs it. I know my Father will have told you that. You need Faramir now so I will call him for you. It is his job—let him do it. You will rule Gondor all the better after rest." He invokes our Father and it works. If anyone could tell Estel what to do it was he . . . And Gimli, apparently, for the dwarf chooses this moment to chime in with his own opinion.
"Do not be a fool, Aragorn! You are as bad as that stubborn, wilful elf."
And Estel smiles. He smiles through his tiredness and fatigue, through the now obvious wavering of his focus.
bad surely, Gimli?"
"It is a near thing. A near thing indeed," the dwarf grumbles. "Let your brother help you, or so help me I will take the pair of you, you and Legolas, and deposit you outside the city so you can be stubborn on your own time without bothering us."
I wonder at what magic this dwarf possesses. What is it that allows him to speak to my brother—to Legolas, with such bluntness and have them open their minds and listen where they would not listen to me. How does he handle them so adeptly? For Estel caves. His stubborn resistance disappears before our eyes.
"That does not sound particularly restful." He rubs a weary hand across his face. "Very well, call him. Call Faramir, Elladan. I cannot pretend the city does not get away from me." And he lets the clutch of paper in his hands fall in a jumbled mess on top of the rest that lay across his desk.
"Good." Elladan says firmly. " Now let us get on with this Brother." He is strong and sure. He leaves Estel no room to doubt as he begins again to file the documents into order and it is with some relief, I think, Estel lets him.
Arwen stands then, running her hand softly through Estel's unruly curls as she does, a gesture of care and love.
"We will leave you." She says gently. "I will send some food, and word to Faramir." She kisses the top of his head before she walks towards me where I stand inside the door. "Come brother," she takes my arm as she passes, the dwarf trailing after, "Let us leave them in peace and quiet."
But I am reluctant. Elladan has walked in here and introduced calm to Estel's chaos. There must be something I can do also . . . Something . . . I feel helpless.
Look after Legolas for him
. Elladan's quiet voice echoes through my head. That is what you can do. Leave me to care for him here.
I look one last time at the two of them, dark heads bent over the pile of work in front of them, Elladan, slowly, gently, taking control, guiding Estel towards order and calm.
I am useless here, and so I leave.
"I am pleased to see you listened to me then!" Gimli barely waits for the shutting of the door before he accosts me. "And not before time."
"Of course we listened. What do you take us for?" I am not in the best of moods and I want to listen to his lectures no longer. But he is not yet done.
"You should have been here earlier. Your brother is supposed to be a healer and yet he has been blind, deliberately blind."
I will not let him disparage Elladan further. Not one word.
"Elladan has his own problems," I hiss, "and you know them not. Do not judge him for you are wrong
"Then inform me if you would, The only problem I see is negligence!" The dwarf is still angry, perhaps with good reason but I can feel things sliding away from me. His criticism of my twin upsets me and my control slips away. This will deteriorate into a brawl if I am not careful.
"It is not
for me to tell and it is not
for you to know!"
"Elladan has the sea-longing." Arwen's soft sad voice cuts across my strident one and brings me to my knees. "He has the sea-longing, Gimli, and caring for Legolas has been causing him to drown in it. Do not judge him harshly for he does not deserve it. He is as much a victim of the sea as Legolas."
My breath catches within my chest for she knows
"You know?" I gasp as I turn to gaze at her, "you know
"Of course I know. He has tried to hide it but I have known for years. How could I not Brother?"
"And Estel? Does he know also?" It breaks my heart. Am I the only ignorant one?
"No. I have not told him and he will not sense it. He loads himself with guilt over Legolas. I would not add to that and have him know he holds Elladan here also."
"How can this be?" The Dwarf asks, "I thought the sea-longing was not an ailment you Noldor could suffer from. This makes no sense to me." I realise that, despite his closeness with Legolas he is still ignorant when it comes to our people, our history.
"We are more than Noldor." I snap. "It seems you do not know as much about us as you thought. Do not pigeonhole us for there is more to us than that." My words sound bitter as I feel bitter, full of anger at my Brothers fate, my fate, and my powerlessness against it.
It is Arwen, as always, who intervenes and calms my soul.
"Walk with me, Elrohir." She takes my arm and leans into me. "I need to get food for they will need it, and send this message to Faramir, and you need to see Legolas and keep him safe for me, for Estel. We cannot afford the time to stand around discussing our heritage now!"
And when I turn to look down at her I see the tiredness in her eyes, I hear the worry in her voice, and it fills me with sorrow.
"I have failed you." I cannot bare to think upon how badly I have let her down as I left her to wallow through this alone. I knew
she was struggling and have given no thought to it.
But Arwen denies it as she guides me down the corridor away from Estel's study. She denies in it a voice that allows no room for protest.
"You could never fail me, Elrohir, never
By the time I make my way to Legolas' room it is getting late. I have lingered with Arwen, eaten with her and Eldarion. A belated attempt to watch over her as I should have been doing all along. Estel will not allow me to care for him—he is set against me—so I will turn my attention to those he loves, Legolas, Arwen and Eldarion. It makes me feel less useless.
"What do you feel?" I asked Arwen before I left, the dwarf's words running through my mind, "When you touch upon Legolas' mind, what is in there?"
"A wound" she replied sadly. "A jagged hole torn right across his fea. I can wind tendrils across it to deaden the pain it causes him but I cannot heal it. Only he can do that. If only Grandmother were here. This is her territory."
"But you believe the dwarf is right? He can be healed?"
"I have to believe it," she smiled, but it was a weak one. "I think he is strong enough to repair it and I will help where I can, and so will you. You need to hold the sea-longing at bay, Elrohir or he has no chance."
"I do not even know how I do that!"
"Whatever it is you do now, it is working."
"And what of Estel?" I was almost afraid to ask it.
"His is less. More a bruising than a laceration, more subtle. It took some time before I realised there was anything there at all that was more than simple grief and exhaustion. But there is, and his I can fix with time, rest and opportunity. I stay out of his mind, Elrohir. I do not normally look there, it seems a violation, but at the moment . . . I think I am justified. I do not think in his right mind he would object."
She was asking me for absolution. For my recognition that for now, her wandering across Estel's soul was acceptable.
"You must do everything you can." I told her. "You will know when it is time to withdraw. I trust you. Estel would trust you."
And he would. He would trust her in this absolutely, as he no longer trusts me.
I hesitate outside Legolas' door. I do not know why for I burn to see him. It has been hours since I left him with Gimli this morning. When I finally enter he sits in front of the fire, a spread of food before him and when he looks up to see me his face lights up like the sun. It is like a bolt of lightening through my soul.
But the girl is here also.
She smiles too, a look of open sincerity and rises to her feet from her chair beside him.
"Elrohir, Come in, have you eaten?" She is happy to see me but I am instantly awkward. I feel like an intruder. I do not belong here—between them. I long to go to Legolas, to hold him, but not in front of her. I will not do that. And so I stand, not knowing what to do or what to say, in the middle of the room and Legolas' smile fades.
And I feel cold.
Maewen gets to her feet then, perhaps she sees my awkwardness? She is welcoming and inclusive. I know her thoughts about this. I know she is well used to it, to her it is usual, normal, the way things are done. But to me it feels wrong. I feel wrong. I feel the way Estel and Gimli see me. As a thief come in the night to steal away her happiness. I do not want that and I do not want to be that person, not at all.
"Come and sit," she says in her soft lilting accent from the woods. "Now you are here I can visit Arwen as I planned." The mention of my sister breaks through the spell that freezes me.
"She would like that. She needs some company I think. She is often lonely here." The company of this light and spritely Silvan girl will do Arwen the world of good. "I have just come from her myself."
"Good!" She smiles and I know she is going to leave us. I have arrived here and shattered the peace and contentment between them. I drive her away just by being here.
"Do not go on my account," I say anxiously. "I will come back later . . . Or tomorrow perhaps."
"Do not be silly," she laughs, "I want to see her. You do me a favour keeping Legolas in line while I do so."
She leans over him then, strokes his hair, murmurs something in their musical Silvan language. A secret she does not want me to hear? As I used Sindarin to shield us from the dwarf this morning? Or perhaps it is simply because that is the language they always speak when they are together and I am being paranoid, worrying about something that does not exist.
He reaches up to touch her face, long fingers drifting down her cheek and he smiles.
"Say hello to Arwen for me, beloved." He says, "She looked tired this morning."
I do not fit here. I feel as if I trample into the midst of something special and destroy it with my presence.
Then she is gone. She smiles at me as she leaves. Places a comforting hand on my arm as she passes and we are alone.
"Will you join me then?" Legolas looks up at me but his face is serious, not the brilliant light it was when I arrived. "You are cluttering up my room Noldo, standing there." He reaches across for a cake and takes a bite. "Where have you been? You promised me you would be back this morning and here we are with sun almost setting before you arrive. I thought you had walked away and allowed the dwarf to kidnap me."
He is angry. Have I stayed away too long?
"I thought you would enjoy his company. I always meant to return, Legolas." I stumble over my words for he confuses me.
Then he looks up, eyes sparkling, face split wide with a grin.
"I am joking, Elrohir! Of course I enjoyed being with Gimli. How will we ever survive if you do not work to improve your Noldo sense of humour?"
But when the only answer he receives is my wordless stare he sighs,
"That also was a joke. We will survive even if I must explain every sentance to you in words of one syllable. Come sit with me. I have missed you."
It is almost a command and I obey. Certainly Gimli has worked miracles today for this is far from the shattered Legolas I left this morning. He is bright and alert. His eyes dance, his words make sense.
"You look well," I tell him. He is smiling and that smile captivates me. It's brightness leaves no space for anything in my mind but love.
"Ah, I am not well," he sighs. "Looks can be deceiving, Elrohir. But I am better that much is true. Gimli drives me hard and allows me no time for self pity but it is so tiring, this struggling for control. I could sleep for a month but he tells me he will be back in the morning."
"I will tell him you need your sleep. Put him off. Tomorrow you could rest." I am eager to protect him. Perhaps the dwarf pushes him too hard? He is a stubborn, dogmatic creature that dwarf. I am driven by an overwhelming urge to wrap Legolas up and keep him safe from all things. He has suffered enough, I think, for a life time. Now that I have found him I will let him suffer no more. Any who mean to harm him will need to come through me and that includes the dwarf.
But Legolas shakes his head at me with a frown.
"No! He will not push me further than I can bear. If I wish to improve then I must do this and I have promised him my best effort. I do not need your protection, Elrohir. I am not a child!" The air sparks with the beginnings of anger and I am at a loss as to how to manage this.
Until now that is exactly how Legolas has been. Like a child. A broken, bewildered, child and I have embraced him with my love like a shield he could hide behind. But now . . . He may be shaky but he is on his feet, he is his own man. I am left behind.
"I do not think you are a child, Legolas."
"Then do not treat me as one!"
I do not want to fight with him. Legolas and I have spent years fighting, I want no more of that. I am not sure how much of this anger is real and how much is that wound upon his fea twisting the world around him. I realise with a shock I do not know what to do. I should have spoken to Gimli who seems to have a magic wand when it comes to dealing with Legolas. I should have asked him when to go gently and when to stand my ground.
I feel the love we have so recently discovered undo itself around me, slipping away into the night. There are a million responses tumbling around my mind and none of them seem right.
"Where have you been?" While I have been searching in desperation for a way across this minefield, he has moved on entirely. "What have you done today while Gimli occupied me?"
"I have just been with Estel." I do not know what possessed me to bring up the topic of Estel wih him. A foolish, foolish mistake. Gimli told me Legolas was distressed by Estel's reaction to "us", why did I not listen? It is like watching a house of cards crumple before my eyes as all his confidence and bravado bleeds out onto the ground.
"Aragorn?" He cries, "Does he still hate me? Does he still judge me and find me lacking?" He buries his face in his hands as if he hides himself away. The change is dramatic and somewhat frightening—he is more fragile than I thought.
Should I tell him Gimli's thoughts on Estel? Will it only make things worse? For a moment I am paralysed with indecision but in the end I cannot bear his distress. It ties me in knots inside to watch his unhappiness.
"Legolas," He will not listen so I lean across and prise his hands from his face holding them between my own. "He does not hate you. It is me he is unhappy with." But Legolas only shakes his head and his eyes are despairing. "Listen to me. Gimli believes Estel has been damaged—as you are damaged. It makes sense and Arwen confirms it, a bruise she describes it as, upon his soul. This anger, this resistance and resentment, it is not him. It is not our Estel. He struggles as you do and his mind plays tricks upon him."
"What have I done to him?" He gasps in horror.
"You have done nothing. This is not your fault. You tried to save a child. It was Estel's decision to follow you and Estel's decision to bring you back."
"I asked him to bring me back. I knew it was risky. I did not imagine it would harm him."
"It was his decision!" I will not allow Legolas to blame himself for this. "He had to return anyway, whether or not he brought you with him." This is what I am good at with him, giving comfort. I know how to do this—so I pull him close, I wrap my arms around him and drown his battered fea in the warmth of my love. "Do not take Estel's words to heart. He does not wish to hurt you. Elladan is with him and Arwen can heal this. We call for Faramir to take the burden of the city off Estel's shoulders. Then he can rest and he will be well once more."
And Legolas sinks in to my embrace. He leans so close I can feel his heart as it pounds against mine—too fast, too frightened.
"Hush," I tell him, "hush, All will be well."
He is silent then for a time. I can feel his heart slow, and the chaotic jumble of emotions that flit across his fea become less, more ordered, more recognisable. His light shines through to me once again, soft green lit with gold, the smell of dew on the leaves in the forest. If I close my eyes and allow myself to imagine, Legolas feels like his woods to me.
"Did you weep for me?" His words spoken into my chest where his head rests, echoing in to the silence take me by surprise.
"What?" It is a random question and I struggle to make sense of it.
"Is it true? Did you weep for me when I fell?"
Why does he ask this?
"We all wept, Legolas."
"I never thought Elrohir Elrondion would weep for the loss of me."
This is important, obviously. If it is security he needs, security I will give him and so I open my heart, although it is hard. I have hidden it from him so long. I reach down and tilt his head towards me so he sees me, so he will see the heart of me.
"I have wept for the loss of you for years, Legolas. Since the Dead Marshes I have wept—alone—because I lost you."
He reaches up to touch my face. A soft brush of fingers across my cheek, hesitant, adoring, loving. I have never been touched like this. Then he speaks.
"I never knew." He whispers softly,
"All these years and I never knew."
References back to previous stories in this chapter.........."Darkness in you Heart" and "Light of a Thousand Stars"
Apologies ahead of time to those who haven't read them. It was inevitable. Elrohir and Legolas needed some getting to know you time.
I wake suddenly. It is dark and the bed beside me is empty. Legolas is gone.
Instantly I am panicked. How could I lose him? It is several moments of terror before I notice the curtain billowing into the room as the wind blows in from the open balcony door. Elbereth, let him only be outside. Let him not have run.
He is there. He stands, leaning out across the balustrade towards the city, head tilted up to face the stars. His eyes are closed and the wind ruffles his hair sweeping it across his face. The misty rain makes strands of it lay wet across his eyes. For a moment I fear the sea has him, that whatever it is I have done to ease it has ceased to work. My heart is in my mouth as I speak to him.
"What are you doing?"
He turns to look at me but he is not surprised at all. He has known I was here. He is not entrapped by the sea and my heart begins to beat again.
"Reminding myself I am alive."
That is the only answer he gives me befote he turns back once again to the stars.
"What would make you think you were not? You are alive and well and here with me."
"I was dreaming." He does not look at me as he speaks, "It is not the first time. I am buried beneath the stone. It crushes the air out of me, it is so heavy, Elrohir and my lungs burn. As hard as I try I cannot breathe and I know . . . I know I have lost everyone I love. I fight but I cannot move, I cannot get out of there!"
It is a terrible, terrible image he paints me. How many times has he dreamed like this?
"The dream still clings to me" he continues, "The feel of the wind in my hair, the rain on my face, reminds me I am not trapped there any longer."
"You should have woken me." I wonder why he did not? "Come inside and we can talk. I think you need to." It is uncomfortable out here in the cold wind and the rain, though misty, is wet. I am fast becoming drenched by it.
The tone of his voice leaves no room for argument but I try anyway.
"It is cold out here, Legolas. Come inside by the fire and talk to me."
"I am an elf. The cold will not harm me." He turns back towards me. "Truth be told I am better out here. The walls make me nervous. Aragorn's strong stone walls—I no longer trust them. Mock me if you will." He waves a hand dismissively in my direction and I am aghast.
"Mock you? Why would I mock you? Why do you suggest that?"
"Because it is what you do Elrohir. I am used to it. Even when your words are honey-sweet, caressing my very soul I am waiting for the ones which cut and bite. It feels as if they are always just round the corner."
He is right that I have, in the past, used my words as a weapon against him but not now . . . Not now.
"Not now, Legolas!" How can he not know this? "That is behind us, that antagonism, I would never turn my words against you. I only want to help—to comfort, will you let me, please. Tell me what you need from me and I will give it." I hold out a hand towards him, an offering of my love I wait for him to take but he does not. He turns away and leaves me standing there, hand outstretched towards nothing.
"I am used to Maewen," he says bitterly, "who knows what I need without asking. She knows it before I do. She knows everything about me. She always offers just what is right."
I am not the only one of us who has attacked the other in the past to hurt and, oh, those words sting my soul like burning arrows of rejection.
"I would know more of you if I could. I want to. Let me start to know you Legolas." I bite back the temptation to prove him right, to lash out with derision and scorn as I would have a month ago, a week ago.
But I am faced with a determined resolute back as he turns from me and leans out over the balcony gazing at the streets below. He feels precarious as he stands there. I struggle with an urge to pull him back from the edge and keep him safe —and he does not acknowledge my plea. Every inch of him is a picture of woodelf stubbornness.
There is nothing I can do but sigh.
"I will fetch Maewen for you then, if she is who you want." I do not want to. It feels like a failure, as if I have stumbled at the very first step but what else can I do? He will not take comfort from me, he will take it from her. Much as that hurts I have no choice.
I barely make it inside, not more than despondent two steps into the room, before I feel a hand upon my shoulder.
"I want you." He says, "Do not go."
My heart leaps.
Still, although it is one thing to know he wants me here it is quite another to know what to do with him.
I stoke the fire, for despite his denial he feels cold to me. Skin wet from that rain I can feel him shaking beneath my hand upon his arm. Is it cold? Or do I really make him that distressed by luring him inside?
Not that his room feels as if you are within walls. It is a riot of greenery, vines climbing walls, plants in every corner. My sisters work I think. I steer him towards the fire but he does not sit on of the chairs carefully placed there, no. Strange creature that he is he sits upon the rug in front. He throws himself down there like a child, sprawling across the floor, and I am left no other choice but to join him. How long is it since I have sat on the floor? I am Elrohir Elrondion, warrior of Imladris and the Dúnedain, I do not do this —but for Legolas I will.
I end up behind him. He leans back against me, folds himself against my chest, wet skin against mine and I curl my arms around him, bend my head to rest my cheek upon that soft gold hair. I will shield him from his fear.
"Tell me of Imladris." He says softly,
"You know about Imladris, Legolas! You have been there." Of all the things we must learn about each other this seems a strange place to start.
"I do not know the Imladris you know, The one of your childhood. Tell me of your mother."
He asks me the one thing I cannot do.
"I do not speak about my mother."
I can feel his disappointment in the way he holds himself within my arms. I have hurt him.
"Even with Elladan I do not talk of her. I will tell you anything, Legolas, anything, but not that. Ask me something else, please." I rush to console, This is nothing to do with him—my reluctance—it is all me. But he is silent, silent and still. For a few horrible seconds I think he will push me aside and leave me.
He surprises me when he finally replies.
"My Mother sailed to Valinor." He says, calm, matter of fact, unemotional. "You will know that of course. She sailed when I was on patrol in the South. When I returned, sick with spider venom she was gone. She did not wait to say goodbye. She did not tell me she was leaving."
He is right. I did know his mother had sailed. We heard in Imladris when she left, but I did not know this.
"For years I thought it was my fault, that she left because of me," he continues, "I blamed myself, more guilt heaped upon the heavy load I already carried. It was only recently my Father told me it was nothing to do with me at all. Maewen tells me I must forgive her. She is convinced my mother regrets her choice and is stranded in Valinor without us. But I cannot do it, Elrohir. She abandoned my Father, my People. I cannot forgive her that."
"She abandoned you."
He shrugs his shoulders as if that is of no consequence but I do not believe it for a minute.
"There is that," he says, "So there it is, Elrohir. That is my mother. When I sail to Valinor—as I know I will now—I do not think I will visit her."
"She will come to you, Legolas. She will be waiting on the shore."
"Will she? Waiting on the shore when she could not bring herself to wait for me in the forest?" His voice is full of uncharacteristic bitterness and I realise just what it has cost him to tell me this. How many people know it beside his Silvan friends? Does Estel know this? Or the dwarf? I do not think so.
When he falls into silence I begin to understand. He has shared this, and now it is my turn. But to speak of my mother? Before I can hesitate, before I change my mind, before I think myself out of it I open my mouth and begin. I do not have to tell him it all, do I?
"You know my mothers story. Everyone knows it. I cannot imagine Thranduil did not hear in detail. There is nothing else I can add to what the world already knows."
"I know your Mothers story, but I do not know yours, Elrohir, as you did not know mine."
"My story is the same as hers. You know it. Everyone knows it. She was captured. She was brutalised. It broke her. Why do you make me repeat this?"
I am angry for I hate speaking of her. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. It tears me apart inside. But he will not be deterred.
"How do you feel about that?" He asks quietly. "That is what I want to know. How much of Elrohir as he is now comes from that?"
"How do I feel? How would you feel?"
"I would swear venegence upon those who broke her. I would hunt them for eternity. I would hate them for what they had taken from me."
He is very calm but I am not.
"I have done that! That is how it is. See you already knew."
"So be it, Elrohir." He sinks back into my embrace again so I cannot see his face. "I cannot make you speak of it."
I end up feeling a fraud. As if I have short changed him somehow. He has spilled his difficult secrets and I keep mine firmly hidden in the shadows. But I am afraid of his judgement.
"My mother's story is not the same as yours, Legolas. No one could blame her for sailing, what choice did she have? She did not properly say goodbye because she was not able to. None of it was her fault."
"Of course." His voice is soft and full of hurt. I have hurt him by not being as open as he has been, not answering his questions.
I never want to hurt him. For him I find the courage to go on.
"Despite all that, despite knowing that . . . It still feels like an abandonment." Once the words are out there is no stopping me. It is like a gag has been removed from my soul. "Sometimes . . . I wonder why we were not enough. Why she could not fight to stay with us. Why she so quickly chose to leave and it hurts. Was I never enough? If I had been better, a better son, would she have found the strength to stay? You see Legolas, the Elrohir I really am, who could feel resentment towards someone as broken as she."
He tips his head back so he can look up at me from where it rests upon my shoulder. His green eyes are serious and I am uncertain what it is I see there. I do not realise there are tears on my cheeks until he lifts a hand to wipe them away. I never cry.
"Do you tell Elladan this?" He asks.
"I tell no-one! What do you think Elladan would say if he knew I was sometimes angry she left us?"
"He would say he loves you. Perhaps he even feels the same? How will you know if you do not ask?"
"I do not deserve his love!" Frustration spills over because he is not listening. "You do not understand, Legolas. You did not see what they did to her. How can I . . . How can I resent her leaving? How can I not wish her free of that pain? How can I want her to endure a moment more of that for my sake? Yet still I do. What kind of son am I?"
"I do understand, Elrohir, more than you know. I know you love her. I know you miss her. I know you must speak of this or it will chew you up and spit you out as it did me. Elladan would be best, but until then talk to me."
"It is not the same, Legolas. Your anger at your mother is understandable. It is deserved. Mine is not, mine is . . . Shameful."
"It is not my mother I speak of," he says quietly. "One day I will tell you, but not tonight for I am tired." He turns back to stare into the dancing flames. "Tell me of your mother, Elrohir. The mother you love. Let me know her. Make my dreams sweet ones."
And so I do. He takes me by the hand and leads me past the swirling, dangerous wall of emotion that has kept me from her. He takes me back to the days of summer, of my childhood.
I tell him stories of a small boy's adventures and misdeeds in Imladris with a mother always ready to comfort and protect. I tell him of running wild with my brother through the trees of Lothlorien when we were finally old enough to travel with our mother when she visited home. I talk long after he sleeps, on and on into the night.
I weep with sadness for what I have lost and in joy at finding her once again. It is a burden lifted.
He has freed me.
I am watching Elrohir.
I love watching him. He is getting dressed, pulling a shirt over the lean muscles of his back and I sit, legs crossed, head in my hands, on the bed and gaze at him. He is beautiful, every movement, everything about him. I do not want to miss a moment of it.
"We are going to the gardens this morning, Gimli and I," I say. "Will you join us? He is giving me some respite today." Gimli has been a hard taskmaster. Day after day he has dogged my steps, forced me to carry on, muttered encouragement in my ear when I say life is too hard, and torn strips off me when I do not listen. It has been difficult, so very difficult, however, slowly but surely he is putting me back together.
I see Elrohir hesitate. I want to spend time with him today but will he agree?
"Arwen will be there," I try to tempt him. He loves his sister, perhaps the promise of her presence will be enough to lure him to come.
"Arwen?" He tilts his head to look at me and suddenly all I can see is the brilliant blueness of his eyes. "And who else?"
"Maewen and Erynion," I skip over their names quickly, lightly, as if they are of no consequence. "They pine for the trees. We Silvans do not do well without them for long."
And he turns away.
"I would like to," he says, "but I promised Ellladan—"
I cut him off for I know it is a lie.
"She will not mind you being there Elrohir. It does not bother her."
"It bothers me.
I do not know how to fix this. He is so awkward around Maewen, so unhappy, and it worries me. Perhaps we fool ourselves and he cannot do this. I know Gimli doubts it—he has warned me often enough—and I have discovered Gimli is so very often right.
"I love you." I try to reassure him, beyond that I do not know what I can say. "I will love you always. Maewen is no threat to you . . . Or you to her."
you love me! Do you think I cannot feel it? But I should not intrude on your time with her. It is wrong Legolas."
"You would not be intruding." I should save my breath for he will not listen.
"Anyway, there are things I have to do," he says turning away from me. "Before—"
"Stop!" I put my hands over my ears to block out what he is about to say. I know it is childish and beneath me but I do not want to hear it. He means to go . . . to leave me.
I know he must. He and Elladan do not live here. They have Imladris to worry about. They have tarried in Minas Tirith far too long on my account and the time draws near when they will have no choice but to go. It frightens me. How will I manage without Elrohir? He has the sea locked behind an iron wall. When he is gone will it drown me once again?
"Legolas," he sits beside me, prises my hands free before cupping my face in his own. "I will not go before you are ready."
"I will never be ready." His impending departure looms ahead, suffocating me with a crushing fear and I feel the fragile walls Gimli has painstakingly built, which give me control, bend underneath it.
He sighs then for he cannot stay here forever and I know it.
"I will be back, look . . . " he lifts a hand to smooth away the hair falling across my face. "We will go together tonight to the gardens to sit under your stars, hmm? You can tell me your Sindar tales of them . . . Educate me."
"Your stars too, Elrohir." Truly I do not understand him. He is so disconnected from the part of him that is Sindar. It is there, I can feel it, and yet he lets it languish. "Surely Elrond has told you all the tales?"
It is the wrong thing to say.
He stands up and moves away, picking up his boots as he goes.
"My father is not much enamoured with the stars."
"Not enamoured? How can that be? His mother was—"
It is a dangerous thing, talking to Elrohir about his heritage and I hit a nerve. A flash of Elrohir as I used to know him, cutting, sarcastic, aggressive, shows itself.
"Do not lecture me about my forebears, Legolas! My Father had reason not to spend his time stargazing. Think about it!"
He leaves me then, moving towards the door while my stomach churns with an uncomfortable anxiety. Is this the ending of his affection, his blazing love? The return of animosity. The fear of that dogs my every step much as he swears those days are gone from us.
"I will see you later, Legolas," he says, and there it is, the softening of his voice as he says my name, the light in his eyes as he looks back at me. The love still remains and I can breathe again. "You and I, under the trees, tonight."
And when he is gone the room feels empty. My heart feels empty.
Still, despite my disquiet, it is pleasant in Arwen's garden that morning. A winter sun warms my skin and the trees soothe my soul. Gimli indulges in his pipeweed downwind of us and Maewen's soft, familiar, generous love enfolds me. Today is a good day.
I remember the day Gimli arrived when I ran here to hide. Even the trees did not feel welcome then. The world was a maze of threats and jagged edges and nothing made sense. Now it is calm, I
am calm. I lie with my head on Maewen's lap and bask in the sun as she winds braids into my hair, soothing fingers caressing me. Life is good. I am Legolas again.
Arwen is with us and she sings—a lilting Silvan melody she must have learned in Lothlorien—her sweet voice as beautiful as her face. She sings in the language of my mothers people and it reminds me of her. Childhood memories, good memories, before it all turned sour.
Erynion sprawls on the ground beside me. My stalwart, faithful friend, my right hand man. He sees me watching him and throws me a smile which lights up his face, but I can see what lies beneath it—his sadness, his yearning. I have taken much from him with my selfishness but he will not
listen now when I try to right my wrong. He is adamantly, stubbornly, resistant and it frustrates me. I do not know what else I can do to assure him I mean what I say. But even thoughts of Erynion's stubbornness do not distract from this lovely day.
And then Aragorn arrives.
He is a storm cloud that obliterates all of the sun's warmth.
Elrohir tells me Aragorn has been unwell. He says our rapid trip back from beyond the edges of the world has damaged my friend as it damaged me and that makes sense . . . It does. Elrohir says Elladan works painstakingly to put Aragorn back together. They have bought Faramir here to take the weight of the city off his shoulders and it works. Every day, Elrohir says, Aragorn is better. At least he tolerates Elrohir's presence now without raging. At least he listens now when Elrohir speaks to him about us. But me? Me, he avoids.
He does not seek me out. No longer does he arrive unannounced late at night looking for my company, to rehash the dramas of his day and unwind over a wine while we sit before the fire. I miss his friendship. The loss of it is like a bruise upon my heart.
I do see him in the dining hall over meals or in his study when Gimli drags me there and we sit to eat at the same table. But I might as well not be there. He looks right through me—when he looks my way at all.
So today when I see him striding towards me, face full of determination I am surprised . . . And full of unease. There was a time he would have been here with us, smoking alongside Gimli, teasing Arwen as she sang, but no longer.
"A letter for you." He says, voice clipped and tense, and he drops it into my lap. I know who it is from even as I watch it fall. The elegant hand of my father dances across it and I stroke my hand across the words as I pick it up. My name. I imagine him seated at his desk as he wrote it and even before I have read a single word more Gimli's carefully constructed, sturdy walls within me bend under the weight of my distance from the father I love and shatter, sending breathless emotion to swirl across my mind. I am lost.
I tear it open and pour upon the words inside, my mind in chaos, the glorious sun filled day is lost to me for I realise I have failed him. Not one time, not a single moment since I awoke after my accident have I given my father thought. I remember then my brother, standing looking after me as I turned my back and walked away wih Aragorn,
"Tell him I love him," he said, and I have not. I have not told my father anything. He does not even know I have seen Laerion. All this time and he still does not know.
As I read what he has written it gets worse. His pain, his grief, his worry leap out of the page like a living thing and suffocate me. Then suddenly, almost without knowing, I am on my feet, agitated, and anxious. I cannot
"I must go home!" The letter spills out of my hands tumbling to the ground and Maewen picks it up.
"It is from the King," she says as she scans it. "But Legolas, he says nothing untoward. There is no reason for you to panic so. All is well in the Greenwood." She pulls herself to her feet, reaches out a hand to calm me but it is no good. Why can she not see?
"I have told him nothing," I cry, "and he has felt it all.
All of it Maewen!" For as Elrohir did, and Maewen, my father tells me he was aware of my departure. In that moment I was transported to the place between worlds, even all the way away in the Greenwood, he knew it. He felt it, and oh, what pain that must have caused him. He has already lost so much . . . For him to think he had lost me
as well . . . It takes my breath away.
"I have to go to him. I have to Maewen! I have to see him. I have to tell him I am well, I must go now!"
"You are not going anywhere, Legolas." It is Aragorn, stood beside me cold and unmoving. He tells me later this is not so. That he was concerned for me, worried by my panic, but to me, in the moment, his voice cuts deep. It is as if he simply does not care and he certainly does not understand.
"I am going home
!" I try to push past him but he grasps my arm and will not let me past.
"You are not!
Not until you are fit. If I must put you under guard or lock you up to prevent you leaving I will do it, Legolas."
"No!" With a wrench I pull my arm free for when it comes down to it I am an elf and I will always be the stronger. "You cannot hold me here. My father needs me and you will not come between us, Aragorn
." The last is said with a bitterness and scorn I am ashamed of later.
"Legolas!" Gimli stands next to me, a hand on my arm, his voice soft and steady in my ear. "You are out of control, Lad. Calm yourself, you are better than this." Normally he would help. Normally I would listen to him and rein myself in. Normally the sound of his rock solid voice would help me to rebuild those fragile walls that hold my emotions in check so I can think and be—normally but not now.
I am beyond that. The thought of my father, alone in our wood, believing me dead, the aching void of my loss, renders me uncontrollable even by Gimli.
And I run.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.