He was broken.
His fea shattered into pieces—scattered in ribbons of grief—as it flowed out of the terminal wound in his heart, that was how it felt.
All day he had been strong, numb, detached from the agony of his reality. He had done his job, carried out his responsibilities and kept this overwhelming pain locked inside. He was a block of ice that felt nothing. The world moved around him as though he watched from afar, he could neither stop it or join it. But as night crept in and the crowds of well meaning helpers melted away he found he was alone. It was then the pain had overwhelmed him, he felt his defences begin to crack and he had retreated here.
He had come to the place he felt his friend's presence the most, his study, strewn with books and personal items it was as if his spirit lingered here and was not a world away where he would never reach it. The thought that Aragorn was gone, so irrevocably gone from him echoed in his brain around and around and he could not grasp it. It was too huge to comprehend—that he would never see him again—and the barrier; that thin layer of ice around his heart was breached. The pain was a physical one that stabbed through his chest and he curled up on himself, sinking to the cold stone floor.
This would never end. He was never coming back.
He did not know how long he sat there, he did not care. He did not care either when the door swung open behind him. He no longer had the energy to be the composed elven prince while inside he was self destructing.
It was the sound of his name that bought him to his senses.
It was said with surprise and disappointment. Who ever it was had not wished to find anyone there, least of all him, he thought, and the idea of being an unwanted intrusion forced him to his feet. He still had his pride. Perhaps he had nothing else left but he still had that.
It was Elrohir who stood there, white faced and grim. He too was obviously looking for sanctuary, a place close to his brother.
"Forgive me. I will go."
He did not want to speak with Elrohir, they had little to do with each other when Aragorn was not there to link them....and he was not there....he was not there.
But Elrohir held out an arm as he moved to walk past him.
"Do not go on my account Legolas." And he looked at him through narrowed eyes,
He knew he searched for a word to use that was not trite and self evident, 'Are you well? Are you alright? Are you surviving?' And he wanted to scream out 'I am not and I never will be again!!"
He did not know what happened when he opened his mouth to reply. The words that flowed out were not what he wished to say. He did not want to share his grief, least of all with someone also grieving.
"I do not think I can survive this." He said, 'My soul bleeds out from my heart and I can not stop it."
He was not asking for help, he knew nothing could. It was a statement of fact, that was all.
But Elrohir stepped forward, his eyes full of compassion and placed his hand over Legolas's heart.
"Can I slow it?"
Elrohir's hand lay warm on his chest, his touch firm and sure and Legolas thought about who had last touched him. He had spent the day with no contact save hesitant, unsure touches from those who did not know how to comfort. Who had last touched him with confidence like this?
The answer when it came to him broke him apart into an open well of loss for he realised it had been Aragorn when they had said farewell. He could barely even say it in his mind. He gasped with the realisation and the tears began to flow. They were unstoppable. Even his pride could not control them.
"It would break his heart to see you thus. He did not want this." Elrohir's fingers lifted to touch the edges of his tears.
"I cannot stop it." He repeated the words and it was true. He was trapped within this world of grief and powerless.
And Elrohir's frown deepened.
"Where is Gimli? You should not be alone."
"He is gone.....I was cruel."
And he had been, he had pushed and pushed with harsh bitter words until even Gimli could bear no more and left him as they would all leave him in the end. He would regret that behaviour tomorrow, the next day, sometime in the future when he regained his sanity but right now in the depths of misery he could not bring himself to care. And so Elrohir took charge and he allowed it, although within him the part of his mind which was still Legolas protested saying he did not want this. It felt good to let someone else tell him what to do, not to have to think. He did not want to think. Thinking hurt.
Numbly he let Elrohir steer him through corridors towards his rooms. Where else could he take him after all? But when they reached there all they had was awkward silence. They barely knew each other, not really, not without Aragorn and he realised Elrohr had not wanted to be there at all. Aragorn's study was where he wished to be.
"It is alright if you leave me Elrohir. I do not need a baby sitter," he sighed, and secretly he wondered if he could just leave and return to Ithilien and his people.
" In truth," Elrohir said sadly as he stood and watched him, "I do not want to be alone. I went to the study to be closer to my brother but he is not there, not really, not as I wish it. I am fooling myself." He smiled slightly, ruefully, “A fire is what I need, to burn this day from my mind for I do not want to remember it."
Legolas simply stared for those words resonated deep within him, they triggered something.....something he had not known he needed but it was true. He needed something to burn through his mind and obliterate the memories of this day into dust. Something to light a fire to warm him, something to help him forget.
"Your fire," he murmured though he did not know why he did so. "Your fire will warm me."
And he realised somehow Elrohir's fingers cupped his cheek though he did not know when they had reached for it and they bought with them a soft warmth that melted the ice he was trapped within. They bought comfort and distraction and how he wanted that. But as quickly as he noticed they were there then they were gone. Elrohir pulled his hand away.
"I should not do this." He said.
But Legolas did not agree. His fea, now it had discovered what it needed was not going to let it go. He felt his spirit fly, it surged towards the warmth, the comfort, the fire that was so close.....so close. It fought against the prison of his grief....this would set him free, he needed it.
And so he took it.
"You SHOULD do this."
For the first time that day he reached out. After a day pushing others away he pulled someone closer.
There was no arguing with his lips, or his hands, and he felt Elrohir did not wish to argue anyway. They were kindred souls awash with pain and they would heal each other. The fire they created together would wash them anew.
It blazed towards his soul so he did not have to think.....only to be.
Elrohir had reached through the ice and found Legolas at it's heart and for a brief few hours Legolas was free.
"What will you do now Legolas?"
Elrohir watched him as he dressed, his expression solemn. He had expected when he woke to find him gone and yet he was still here showing no signs of departing. It confused him. They had had their time of distraction, it was over, it was time to face the agony of the days ahead.
"I will sail. I cannot remain here, there is too much pain."
"Of course." was the reply, "None of us expect you to stay now."
but the answer was rushed and made him look again, he felt judged and found lacking somehow although he couldn't explain why but he did not like it.
"The seas call has become unbearable."
For some reason he felt the need to explain further although why should he?
"It has been a struggle to remain here this long, only because of Aragorn could I do it."
He did not want to think of Aragorn. He was ashamed of his lack of control of his grief last night. He would not do that again.
"You do not have to explain to me."
Elrohir rose to his feet. He looked if possible, more downcast, more unhappy than the day before.
"I must go. I should be with Elladan and Arwen" he paused and once more Legolas found himself defensive, as if he were the one to blame.
"I did not ask you to stay!" he snapped and Elrohir sighed loudly.
"I know that. I have been selfish. I have......Can you forgive me?"
He looked at him in confusion, for what did he need forgiveness? He was not the one who could forgive him for neglecting his siblings. He was stranded, unsure what to do. The day ahead was bleak and his mind was not as its best.
But Elrohir took his hesitation as a reply and turned his back to leave.
"I do not blame you." He said, "Just know that I am sorry. It was unforgivable." Then he was gone.
He fled the city that very day. Running to Ithilien and the remains of his peace and dragging Gimli with him for Gimli had forgiven his cruelness with an ease that shamed him. He had hushed him when he had apologised.
"Be quiet Legolas. I know what was going on with you. I do not need to hear your apologies now. You are not yourself, I am only pleased to see you in one piece and a part of you returned."
It was Elrohir who had given him back that piece of himself he realised and enabled him to carry on. He did not see him again until the day he sailed.
He had not expected him to come but there they were Elrohir and Elladan. grim faced on the shore. Inside his heart was jumping, flying, and excitement overwhelmed him. The sea was everywhere. He could see it. He could touch it and it's call was deafening now. He could think of nothing else except the fact the end of his pain and grief was in sight. He was finally answering the call. He was startled when Elrohir appeared in front of him placing a letter in his hands.
"Can you give this to my father for us?"
Of course, that was why they were here.
"I will do it as soon as I can find him." he smiled.
"You are happy Legolas, I am pleased."
"I am leaving," he answered "and my heart sings, you will understand when you follow."
"Nothing is sure yet." Elrohir answered. "No choice has been made. We may remain."
His heart stumbled when he heard that for he had not anticipated it and he wanted to say more. To ask him to follow, to thank him for helping him find himself amidst his grief but the sea was distracting and it tugged at him diverting his attention wiping those thoughts from his mind. So in the end he simply smiled while the dwarf dragged on his hand grumbling about his distraction and pleading with him to be off.
"I will be there on the shore to welcome you when you reach the other side of the sea."
Was all he said in the end as if he had not heard Elrohir's words at all. Then he was off towards the ship, towards the sea, towards happiness. He could think of nothing else.
He didn't look back. He didn't see Elrohir's grief. He only saw the sea.