I do not know exactly what it is that draws me up to the deck of the ship in the middle of the night.
I have been sleeping. We were all weary from our heater skelter ride towards Pelegir, the Dead at our heels, chilling our bones. Weary, exhausted, numb we are from the touch of them.
The orders were to rest; all of us, while the ships were readied for our departure in the morning. And that’s what I did . . . At least at first. But something has woken me. A whisper in my mind, that cut through my dreams like a hot knife. It propels me upwards, out of bed, down the narrow corridor and up the stairs to the deck under the stars.
Though I do not know what it is that drives me here, I know as soon as I arrive why I am needed.
Legolas is here.
And he is alone. Where is the dwarf?
He is draped across the figurehead, leaning out to feel the seaspray on his face. His hair plastered down by the wet of it. The stars light him up like a god. He is beautiful.
And he is lost.
For Legolas now has the sea-longing, and he has allowed it to take him.
Legolas is a conundrum, a mystery, a fascinating distraction to me. I do not understand it, why I cannot take my eyes off him, why he is always in my thoughts, why I have longed for nothing else but him since I first saw him; strange and wild, arguing with the dwarf in the middle of my Father’s dining hall.
I have watched him as we rode through Rohan, beneath the Mountain on the Paths of the Dead, and onwards behind the shadowy horde towards Pelegir.
I saw the moment he heard the gulls my Grandmother warned him of, and my heart fell for I knew, I knew, in that instant, what it meant for him.
He is a child of the wood no longer, wild and free not at all. He will leave these shores, he will leave his home, he will leave me.
Not that I have him in the first place, for though I watch him, though I dream of him, though I wonder about him, as soon as I open my mouth it all shatters.
My words are never what is in my heart. Instead they are cutting and cruel, harsh and full of judgement. I do not know why—but it means Legolas and I do not get on. He returns my words in kind and I deserve it. I would chain my mouth shut forever if I could, if it would mean he saw me.
But right now I cannot remain silent for he leans too far out trying to touch the sea.
My voice is harsh as always but he does not turn his head to look at me, he does not take his eyes from the salt water lapping in small waves at the brow of our boat. So I must speak again.
“Legolas, get down from there! Do not be a fool.”
Why did I say that? It is I who is the fool. How hard is it to mind my tongue?
It does not matter. He does not take his eyes from the sea.
I will not let him fall. I will not, and there is only me here to stop him. So I move closer and reach out. I place my hand upon his shoulder.
And he blinks.
“What are you doing?” He turns towards me startled and flinches beneath my touch. He shrugs my hand off as if it burns him.
“Why did you do that? Do not touch me! Who are you to take it away?”
His words make no sense. I have taken nothing from him.
“Legolas, you are too precarious. You will fall.”
He tosses his head in defiance, flicking that beautiful silver gold hair across his face.
“I am a woodelf. I will not fall . . , Noldor.”
The last he says to himself rather than to me. The word drips with the disdain he holds for my people. The disdain he holds for me. It hurts. It hurts that while I am transfixed by him he finds me only lacking.
“You are a woodelf no longer.” I bite back. I cannot help it, his words sting too deeply. “The sea has you now.” It is vindictive and nasty and beneath me.
His eyes flash beneath the stars. He is dangerous and wild, and he dances away from me up, up, to the very top of the figurehead where he balances precariously and I cannot watch. I close my eyes. I do not want to see him fall.
“I do not answer to you, Elrondion!” He cries. “I go where I will and do what I wish. The sea does not own me.”
But it does. It does. I can smell it on him.
“Elrohir, what are you doing?”
My brother’s careful, quiet voice sounds in my ear. I am so grateful he is here for I handle this atrociously and I know it.
Still I am defensive.
“I do nothing. I found him like this, alone and drenched in the sea. I am trying to keep him safe.”
“By haranguing him, insulting him and chasing him to the heights?”
He sighs; heavily, and that sigh weighs upon my shoulders like lead. Sometimes Elladan thinks so little of me. I disappoint him with my volatility, my fierce temper.
“No—” There is no point me protesting. He is not listening.
His voice is everything mine is not. He is gentle where I am cutting, comforting where I am cruel.
“Legolas, come down. You must protect yourself from the sea.”
And Legolas responds to him, to his softness. He turns around with a smile, all hostility gone.
“Come and see, Elladan! It is wonderful, you will love it.”
“I am sure I will,” my brother says sadly, “but not today. Come down to me. Tomorrow we sail to war, Legolas. You must keep yourself safe else the sea will destroy you. You will never survive a battle with the sea in your ears. I know the song it sings you is sweet but those you love will lose you.”
And Legolas is still. There is a grief in those green silvan eyes now.
“Perhaps they already have, Elladan,” He whispers, “and a warriors death in battle is better than abandonment across the sea.”
“Remember what I told you, Legolas. It is still your choice. The sea can only have you if you wish it. No one has lost you yet if you decide against it.” He reaches up and grasps a hand and I do not realise I hold my breath until that moment. Now he has a grasp on him Elladan will not let Legolas go.
But I wonder why he tells such fairy tales? To get the Silvan to safety? It is not like Elladan, who is truthful always. We all know how perilous it is to stir the sealonging in Sindar blood and once awakened it is irresistible. Legolas will go if he wishes it or not. He has no choice. This lie will come back to haunt Elladan, I am sure of it, for Legolas will not forget it.
“Where is Gimli?” Now he has him Elladan uses all the weapons he has to get the woodelf down upon the deck and inside. “How have you eluded him?”
And Legolas smiles a slow sweet smile.
“He snores below the deck. I have learned there is little which will rouse a sleeping dwarf. Certainly not the lightfootedness of an elf.”
“And how will Gimli survive without you at his back?” I knew Elladan led Legolas’ thoughts this way. “When you fall in battle because you listen to the sea what will happen to him?”
And Legolas stares, face pale, eyes grave. He and the dwarf are a strange pair. When we saw them in Imladris they had to be kept rooms apart else they came to blows. Yet when we arrived in Rohan there they were, glued at the hip, the dwarf threatening us with dire dwarvish warnings if we so much as glanced in Legolas’ direction. I wish I knew what happened to transform them. Estel has been too distracted to illuminate me but one day I will ask.
For now we know Gimli is Legolas’ weakness and Elladan will exploit it.
“He would blame himself.”Legolas’ voice when he speaks is tight, filled with tension. “He would blame Aragorn for my loss, he already does. They would be sundered, and I would not be there to bring them back together. He would—”
“Stop.” Elladan clasps the woodelf’s face between his hands. “That will not happen. You will come down below now, with me. You will turn your ears from the sea and I will help you. You will tune it out and fight gloriously as I have seen you do, as I know you can, on the battlefield. You can defeat the sea, Legolas and you will do it for the dwarf . . . For my brother, but you need to want to.”
“I do want to.”
And so my twin triumphs where I did not. He handles Legolas with a sure delicacy which I am lacking, and he has lead him to safety.
Legolas follows Elladan down then. Down below the deck, away from the song of the sea, but as they pass me he stops.
He surprises me for I did not expect this and I am left speechless.
He bounces on his feet in front of me, those green eyes sweeping across my face. I think he is nervous.
“Thank you for keeping watch. Thank you for your cutting words which sting for they slice though the sea and keep my mind in reality. Thank you for giving me something to fight. Your antagonism is useful at times, it seems.”
There is a flash of his brilliant smile and my heart leaps. It is like a gift he has handed me. A brief moment in time in which we are untied, so by the time I speak my answer he is gone. Following my brother down the stairs.
“You are welcome.”
I do not think he has heard me until that laugh, light and joyous, floats up to reach my ears from below.
I watch for him on the battlefield when we arrive. I watch as I always do but with more care, more concern. It is easy to see that golden head as it winds it way through the chaos and he is as Elladan described him—a glorious warrior.
I see the lone gull circling overhead. I see the moment he hears it. I see the tilt of the head, the imperceptible pause. But before I can run towards him the dwarfs voice rings out.
It is harsher, holds more command than I could ever hold with him, and it works.
The moment is gone. His focus returns, the enemy before him falls by his swinging blade. Thank goodness for the dwarf who fights by his side.
I would be there if he would let me.
But for now I will simply watch from afar. The beat of my heart a secret, only I know.
Perhaps I will tell him when he leaves, as he must surely do to find the sea.
Perhaps I will tell him then, as we stand on the shore and watch him go.
Perhaps I will tell him then, when I have no time left;
Before he goes.