The moment Legolas fell asleep, Elrohir slid out of bed. He crept to the desk and picked up his quill. It was time to right a wrong.
Here begins the true account of the Quest.
Over one hundred and twenty years have passed since the destruction of the Ring. All this time I have held my peace at Legolas's request: his modesty forbids him to declare the truth. But I can no longer bear hearing that Legolas achieved the least of the Fellowship. If only they knew.
I don't have the time to write of all his deeds: how he killed the Balrog in Moira, freed Rohan from Saruman's enchantment and stormed Orthanc. But his greatest achievement I will recount.
It started when Gollum betrayed Frodo and Sam. While aboard the ship at Pelargir, Legolas learned from the gulls that the Ringbearer's Quest had gone awry. Together with Elladan and Gimli, we dashed to Cirith Ungol...
Elrohir hurtled from the tunnel in time to see Legolas plunge his knives into Shelob's eyes. Shelob scuttled back with a hideous screech, then collapsed beside the prince, her legs twitching. Gasping, Legolas sent two arrows deep into her head. She convulsed, then lay still.
Elrohir gripped Legolas's arm. “Did she hurt you?”
Legolas shook his head. “I've been battling Spiders in the Greenwood for too many years to be caught by a money spider like that.”
Even with web-tangled hair and black blood on his face, Legolas looked so desirable that Elrohir yearned to sweep him in his arms and kiss him senseless. He would have done, had he not heard the stomp of hobnailed boots on stone. Gimli emerged from a tunnel, Elladan following.
Legolas clasped their shoulders. “Thank the Valar you're both safe. Any trace of the Halflings?”
“Just this,” said Elladan, his eyes grave. He showed them a crystal flask.
Legolas's eyes widened. “That's Frodo's star-glass. It couldn't have fallen by chance.”
“Do you think Shelob snared them?” Elrohir asked.
“Unlikely,” said Elladan. “Gimli and I searched all Shelob's caches.”
“Aye,” said Gimli, his nose wrinkling. “We found many creatures in her webs, even some Orcs, but no sign of Frodo or Sam.”
“Then we must move on,” said Legolas. “Maybe they were taken to that watch-tower.” He pointed to a stone keep that guarded the pass into Mordor.
They ran on until they came to the gate, only to stop in horror when they saw the hideous pair of statues guarding it. Malice emanated from their three leering heads.
Elrohir's legs turned to lead. He'd lost the will to take another step.
He gasped when Legolas took the star-glass from Elladan and held it high. “I am Legolas Thranduilion,” he said, his voice ringing like a bell. “You cannot hold me.”
He stepped through the gates. Elrohir staggered forward, Elladan and Gimli also, the invisible force holding them back having disappeared.
Legolas drew his knives. “Now to battle. Are you with me?”
With a shout, they ran into the tower. The statues shrieked and a bell clanged. A swarm of Orcs met them, cursing when they saw the companions.
Legolas didn't hesitate, but cut down all in his path and sprang up the spiral staircase. Soon the keep was strewn with the bodies of Orcs. The companions climbed ever higher, finally coming to a ladder which led up to a trap door.
Just as Legolas set his foot on the ladder, an Orc carrying a bundle appeared above. He shrieked and threw himself at Legolas. They collapsed in a pile of flailing limbs.
“No!” cried Elrohir, grasping Gimli's sleeve when he ran up, hefting his axe. “You might hurt Legolas.”
He watched with baited breath as Legolas managed to free his arm far enough to get in a blow. The Orc yelped and lay still. Panting, Legolas eased himself free from the body. He reached down to examine the bundle it still clutched in one arm, when the Orc leapt up, taking them all by surprise. Instead of attacking, however, it fled down the stairs.
“Let it go,” said Legolas, staggering to his feet. “I got the most important thing.”
He held out his hand. Elrohir thought his heart would stop when he saw that Legolas held a fine chain. From it dangled a gold ring, gleaming in the torchlight.
It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. It sang to him. He saw a great stone fortress high upon a mountainside. And with it an army strong enough to defeat all the Orcs of Middle-earth. It could be his, if only...
Another voice sang, and the enchantment lifted. How could he have thought that loathsome object beautiful? It was nothing compared to the beauty of Legolas. Beside him, he saw Elladan and Gimli blinking, as though waking from a dream, called back by Legolas’s song.
“This should be restored to the Ringbearer,” said Legolas when he stopped. He set his foot upon the ladder. “Come, let's find Frodo.”
The moment he laid eyes upon Frodo and Sam, Elrohir's gorge rose. Both had been savagely tortured, their limbs contorted. Frodo had even had one of his fingers severed. It was clear the Halflings could go no further.
Legolas turned to Elladan. “You’re the best healer among us; you must take charge of them. Take them back to Ithilien and tend to their hurts.” Then his shoulders drooped as he faced Gimli. “Go with them, my friend. I wish you could stay by my side to the end, but only you can find the quickest path back through Shelob's lair.”
He drew a deep breath and placed the chain around his neck.
“Will you come with me, Elrohir?”
Mount Doom quaked. A spume of lava shot up from the depths, accompanied by choking fumes. Legolas stood on the brink, his outstretched hand empty. He had fulfilled the Quest.
Elrohir tugged him back. “We must leave before it's too late.”
They dashed out into the open, eyes streaming from the sulphurous clouds. Already the mountainside was a cascade of liquid fire.
“There's no escape,” Elrohir said. A great grief welled up inside. There would be no idyllic life with Legolas in some woodland haven. Not this side of Mandos.
Then a wild thought hit him.
“Bind with me, Legolas, right here. When my spirit seeks Mandos, I would have it joined with yours.”
Legolas's glowing smile was his answer.
Hand in hand, they walked to a raised boulder that would survive the devastation for long enough. In soft voices they recited their vows. No sooner had Legolas spoken than Elrohir pulled him close, sealing their lips together. With urgent haste, he tore Legolas's clothes from his body, hands, lips and tongue eagerly exploring his lover's flesh as it was exposed. The moment he had Legolas naked, he pressed him back against the rock and shed his own clothes.
“Have me, beloved,” Legolas murmured. “Be one with me.”
Elrohir couldn't resist. Soon they were moving as one. Elrohir cried out with joy when their spirits met and twined. All he could hear was their panting breaths and their hearts beating in synchrony.
The beating grew louder. Almost like giant wings.
“Gaaah! My eyes!” The harsh shriek jerked Elrohir from his daze, just as cold talons pinched his waist and lifted him off Legolas and into the air. He looked round, heart pounding, to see Legolas also lifted from the rock, in the claws of an enormous eagle.
“Please, Gandalf, strike me blind now!” Gwaihir wailed. “Never in a thousand years would I have agreed to help if I'd known it entailed such a sight. Gaaah...backside pumping away like one of Saruman's contraptions...”
He was still complaining when they landed in a leafy glade to Gimli's and Elladan's welcoming cheers. Wrapped in a blanket, Elrohir clasped Legolas to his side while Gwaihir argued with Gandalf.
“Absolutely not!” Gwaihir’s feathers ruffled in indignation. “Do you seriously think I'm going to fly over Minas Tirith, telling the people to sing and be glad over a pair of perverts who couldn't even stop shagging long enough to get out of danger? Hardly poetic, is it?”
Legolas sprang to his feet, his eyes flashing. “I don't care what you say, as long as you proclaim the destruction of the Ring.” He pointed at Frodo's inert form. “You can say the Halflings did it, for all I care. Just go!”
...And so the eagles brought the tidings that Frodo had prevailed.
Legolas has never complained. But tomorrow we sail and I want the people of Middle-earth to know to whom they owe their freedom.
Elrohir folded the parchment and addressed it to Eldarion.
Returning to bed, he woke Legolas with a kiss. He had always known Legolas' worth and had an eternity to show him how much he cherished him.