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At Sea in the Middle of Ithilien by UnnamedElement

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Story notes:

I've been fascinated by the Sea-longing for almost as long as I've been reading Tolkien, which is just shy of two decades. This story is the ups and downs and ins and outs of the Sealonging from the perspective of someone who loves Legolas, an OC (Ithildim), and it is more poetic than plot-driven; it will heavily feature Gimli. Several stories—finished and unfinished—are referenced in this, but do you not have to have read other work to read this. The better you know Ithildim, though, the more you are likely to enjoy it. 

Thank you for indulging my desire to work on my characters, spend some time away from the heaviness of other things, and to satisfy the story-related whims of adult ADHD.

 



Ithilien, Fourth Age 30

I have been in love with Legolas for a long time. I did not know it for centuries—though not as long as he denied it—not until after we had already served as captains together for too long to turn away from our duties. I have loved others—though not been in love with them—and I have seen others here and there, and Legolas knows this. He has seen no one else—his interest in romance is stunted, and he has a lot of growing yet to do—but he is constantly falling in and out of love with me.

I do not mind that anymore, because he always circles back, as he does in all things. Not many know it, but there is a steadiness to his caprice, and a predictability.

I am good for him. He needs an anchor, and I sometimes need a catalyst.

It seems Gimli and I serve much the same purpose, these days.

Legolas spends much time with him, and if I did not feel badly for how soon Gimli will have to leave this world I might resent him that, but I do feel badly for him—and he keeps Legolas more whole in the moments he is with me, besides—so I do not resent him at all. Saida tells me that the first time the Sea-longing took Legolas badly in Ithilien—several years since I had last seen him, at that point—that Gimli is who brought him back to us. Alfirinion—Saida's nephew—kept him here, but Gimli... He brought him back.

Legolas does love children. I knew Legolas when he was an older brother but, for longer years, I have know him as the youngest. Losing his sister changed him, and I think that is why he is so good with children. They slow him down so that the world moves more slowly, and he can look around and see what is about without spinning off. Do not get me wrong—Legolas can be patient and measured, but when he has no need to be... He is anything but.

Not being able to give Legolas children is my only regret, and it is the only thing he, too, cannot give me—everything else in this love we work around, but that is an emptiness, I think.

I joked once that he should marry Saida if she would be willing to give him children. I remember how he laughed and laughed; head thrown back, it rocked his hips until he fell flat on his back and I lost him in the stars. When I crawled on top of him, I saw them reflected in the dark grey of his eyes, and then he focused and smiled again, took my head between his hands and whispered: "Never." He rolled me over and made me look at the stars instead, and he proceeded to show me all the ways he could never ever be with Saida.

She is too much a sister to either of us, besides. And she has taken care of Legolas too much to be his lover.

But Legolas is not well, right now. His thoughts are away more often than not, and he has signed over governance of Ithilien temporarily. He is a memory of himself—or he is himself most embodied? I have not quite yet figured out what the Sea does to him.

We do not make love when he is like this, even when he wants it, because—to me—it is like he is not here.

It burns my heart.

...I asked Aragorn, once, what Legolas was like when he first heard the gulls, but Aragorn was not there with him, and so he does not know. I asked Gimli, too, but that is a sore subject, it seems, for Legolas did not tell Gimli about the Sea for months, and so Gimli felt he had left Legolas all that time unprotected. Finally, I asked Legolas what it was like—I asked him how it might have looked to other people so that I would know, but he told me he did not know, because he was not other people.

I could have smacked him for that cheek (and I did, in fact, cuff him).

Once, Legolas left—as he will sometimes do—and we could not find him, at all. He showed back up—a month later!—with Gimli. He had traveled to the Glittering Caves and then ridden back. He could not remember a quarter of his journey—because it was all colors, Ithildim!—and his arm was broken. He stayed with Saida for a week, then, because I could not look at him without wanting to scream, and Legolas is not well-affected by yelling. He will simply stare at you, until you are left breathless, and then he bursts into laughter. If he were not so kind I would sometimes think him soulless, the way he sometimes laughs, so unexpectedly, and inappropriately.

But he is kind, nevertheless, and I love him.

Still, I am at a loss now.

It is quiet in this house when he disappears.

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