Story Downloaded from Open Scrolls Archive (http://www.openscrolls.net)
Title: Longing For Home (#4376)
Category: Lord of the Rings
Description: They met only briefly, but she will forever be in his dreams until he returns home. (Written for a challenge titled Dreams)
Published: 16 Sep 2011
Updated: 24 Feb 2013
Chapter 1 - Chapter 1
Legolas first laid eyes on her as he walked in his lush forest home. The sun’s rays beautifully washed the woods with its morning light, yet rain threatened in the distance. This was his favorite time of the day, and a morning shower could not be a more welcomed sight, until she came along.
Strolling along the protected forest close to his palace home, Legolas breathed in the morning air, listened to the scurrying of tiny forest creatures and to the trees wake and say hello. Then he heard an unfamiliar sound, one that was out of place from all the usual commotion of the morning. A voice like no other seemed to hang on the slight breeze. It approached him, circling his golden head and caressing his ears. She sang of their home before the darkness fell upon it. The Great Greenwood it was known as then, magical, beautiful . . . a most wonderful land. It had been long since Legolas thought of Mirkwood as anything but dangerous, though it was always lovely to him.
He followed her beautiful smooth voice until he came upon the glade, a place his mother took him to as an elfling. The sun shone down turning the grass the bright color of spring, the season in which he was born and named thusly. Small white flowers bloomed along the edges, the morning dew glistening on their delicate petals. And in the middle of the small clearing, he saw a most beautiful sight. He saw her.
Oh, but she was enchanting, hair to her waist the color of gold and adorned with tiny blue flowers. They crowned her head, tucked in with her braids. She wore a pale yellow dress that left her shoulders bare. Light blue ribbons hung from the sleeves, almost touching the ground. The skirt flowed out around her as she spun on her bare feet. She stretched her arms out to her sides and tilted her head back letting the sun wash over her face. With her eyes closed, she smiled wide as she sang. Lost in the birth of a new morning, the elleth did not know someone watched her.
Legolas remained hidden in the bushes, crouching down on his knees. He cared not that the wet soil stained his leggings. Nothing seemed to matter as he watched the vision of morning dance about the glade. His heart pound loudly in his chest, so much that he was afraid she would hear its rapid beating. Suddenly, his place behind the bushes hindered his sight. He needed to see her without the leaves and branches obstructing his view. He wanted to trace every detail of her loveliness. Legolas stood up and peered out from behind a tree, hoping he was still blending in with his surroundings so as not to disturb her. His plan seemed to be working for the elleth never wavered from her dance or her song.
A cloud now moved in front of the sun, throwing the tiny clearing into shadow. The elleth’s hair no longer shined, but turned to dark copper shade that was just as intriguing. She continued to dance and spin, singing of their home of old. Legolas, caught in her trance stepped out from behind his tree and watched her intently. He wondered how she would feel in his arms or having her head resting on his shoulder. He wanted her to sing to him and only him, make his heart flutter until he thought it would burst.
As she spun around, the damp ground drenching her feet, her eyes slowly opened and came to rest on the intruder. She stopped in the blink of an eye and stared at Legolas with wide eyes, like a doe spooked by hunters. The girl let out a gasp and grabbed her skirts, ready to dash off.
“No wait, please,” Legolas begged sincerely. “Your voice called me here. It is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard. I only wanted to listen to your song, for Greenwood still beckons to me also.”
The elleth stood quite still and entwined her fingers in the pale yellow material of her skirt. “Most have lived in the darkness for so long they do not remember how mesmerizing the Great Greenwood once was.” Her tone was sad and he wished to comfort her.
“But I remember. I was very young, but I remember as if it were yesterday. There was nowhere dark back then. Not even the thick canopy above could keep the sun’s rays from reaching the ground. I would lay right here in this glade bathing in its warmth.”
“You know this place?” she asked curiously.
“My mother brought me here often, when she still lived.” Legolas’ voice trailed off as the hurt and pain of losing her flooded his memory.
The elleth watched him. A moment ago, there was such a bright light in his ocean blue eyes. Now they turned grey and lifeless as he revisited his tragic past. She suddenly felt his sorrow and a tear threatened to grow in the corner of her eye. With his attention diverted, the elleth’s vision traveled down his body. He was very handsome with long platinum hair that hung loose around his face. High cheekbones, square chin and full lips; he was a most striking ellon. “Someone so handsome should not look so forlorn,” she said as she approached him.
Her comforting voice shook Legolas out of his memories. He had not been aware that she came so close and suddenly she had a hold of his hand. “Come, dance with me.” The elleth started singing her lovely tune once again. She started to dance while Legolas merely stood there holding her hand. He was shocked really. Only a moment ago he was afraid she would run off had she noticed him there. Now she was leading him into a dance in the glade. The beautiful girl hummed her melody softly. She smiled at Legolas, enticing him to join her. He raised her hand in the air, his other hand safely tucked behind his back. The Prince led her around the glade, watching her spin as he held her fingers. He moved her from one side of the clearing to the other and all the while, she sang her alluring tune. His eyes fixed on her, this vision of a spring morning. Her song seduced his heart and he felt he could stay here forever with this wondrous creature.
Neither one noticed the sky growing darker grey with each passing minute when suddenly there was a bright flash and a loud clap of thunder. The morning shower Legolas had sensed earlier had now turned into a storm. The elleth immediately stopped dancing and let out a screech as the storm crashed around them. She jumped to the first thing that felt like safety, Legolas’ arms. He pulled her to him and held her tight. Another clap of thunder filled her with fear and she buried her face in his chest. Only a moment ago, he wished to feel her closeness. She felt good in his arms. It felt right and he hoped she felt it too. He gently pulled her away from him and tilted her face up to meet his. Their eyes met as if two universes collided. Legolas felt the pull of his soul to hers. He had searched for something to replace his loss, the loss of his homeland and the loss of his mother. Now he had found it in this elleth’s eyes.
“I have searched everywhere for this kind of peace in my heart. I did not know it would come in the form of a beauty with such unbridled joy,” he whispered.
Lightening flashed again, but the elleth did not notice it now. Legolas’ intense stare mesmerized her. “This is not the first time I have sung to you, my Prince, but it is the first time you have listened. Long have I watched you from afar, wondered who you really were.”
“And do you have your answer?” he asked, lowering his head, his lips parting.
“I knew the answer all along,” she smiled to him. The elleth closed her eyes and wrapped her hand in his long hair. He was so close now. She could feel his warm breath only a hairs width from her lips. For so long had she dreamed of kissing him and--.
The skies opened up with another burst of thunder. The sudden noise distracted Legolas, making him look up. The elleth slipped from his hold, backing away from him. He looked back at her, missing the feel of her in his arms. He was so close to tasting her sweet lips. Why did he look away? “Wait!” he shouted as she backed away from him.
She stopped, the rain drenching her dress until it clung to her body, showing the Prince her supple curves. “It is not our time yet. I am sorry. I should not have lured you here, but I just could not let you go without revealing myself to you.”
Legolas, confused by her words reached out to her, taking a step closer, needing her against him once more. When she backed away from him, he stopped; afraid she would run away before he knew--.
“Who are you, my enchanted lady?” he asked desperately. “Give me but a name so I will know what to whisper on the wind.”
She smiled, her eyes dancing with a special light all their own. “You will know me when you return from your journey.”
He furrowed his brow questioningly. “My journey, but how do you know of it?”
Backing away from him, the elleth spoke once more. “Complete your task. I will be waiting for your return. Only then will I give you my name and my heart.” With that, the elleth dashed off into the woods leaving Legolas standing alone in the glade, rain soaking him to the bone.
“No wait, please!” he begged. He wanted to run after her but his feet were anchored to the ground. “Come back, my lady, my enchantress. Just your name, it is all I ask for. Please?”
* * *
“Legolas . . . Legolas!” said a gruff voice. This was not his fair maiden. This was not the enchanting glade where she danced for him, where she sang her graceful song. No, he was no longer in his palace home or in his comfortable bed. Hard ground was his mattress. Rock was his pillow. The smell of sulfur filled his nostrils.
The elf opened his eyes to the sight of a dwarf, his friend and companion on this long journey. They had been traveling together for many months now and had grown as close as brothers. An elf and a dwarf . . . no one would understand, but they knew. They had lost track of how many times they had saved each other’s skin. It seemed that it did not matter now as they marched to certain death. Rohan, Gondor, they had fought for both and won. This was the final battle. They were marching right into the heart of the enemy, to the black gate of Mordor. A diversion, Legolas had said. It sounded good at the time, but now he longed for another distraction. Had the dwarf not waken him, he would be with her now, tasting her lips and finally keeping her in his strong arms.
Legolas gave Gimli a hardened look, but Gimli ignored him. “You were dreaming again my friend. It was the girl wasn’t it? It is always about the girl.” He huffed and shook his head. “Elves, their heads are in battle but their hearts will always be in love.”
Legolas disregarded his friend’s words. “She is more than a dream, Gimli, but her vision keeps my hope alive.”
“We march into certain death, outnumbered by Sauron’s forces as we knock on their front door, and all you can think about is a pretty elf maiden. I hope she is worth it.” Gimli commented.
Legolas smiled. “She is worth every bruise, every battle. I would face one hundred Nazgul if it meant finding her again and telling her of my love. I only wished I could have told her then what I realize now. She is the one Gimli, and if I make it out with my life, I will ask to marry her.”
Gimli, not one for talk of love and such, understood this elf and patted his shoulder. “You are almost home my friend, and I will take extra care to see that you make it there . . . even if it means laying down my own life to save yours.”
Legolas put aside his thoughts of the mysterious elleth and came to look at the dwarf. “We are friends first, Gimli son of Gloin. While I may have discovered my true love, she is but a dream right now. I will not leave your side. You will not fall. We will both see our homes again.”
“Aye Legolas, friends we are and friends we will always be,” Gimli said sincerely. “And your dream will become reality.” He got up from the rock he was sitting on and sniffed the air. “All this talk of dreams has made me hungry. Care to scour the camp with me and rustle up a few morsels?”
Legolas laughed. “In a moment, my friend. You go on and I will find you.”
“Suit yourself then,” Gimli added and went off mumbling to himself as he often did.
Legolas smiled, watching the dwarf until he disappeared into the mess tent. Then he closed his eyes and tried very hard to hear her voice and her soft words just one more time, but the sounds of the men wandering the camp were too distracting. “Until our next dream, my love,” he whispered. Then he went off to join Gimli and ready his thoughts for one last battle.
Chapter 2 - Chapter 2
The war had ended. Men and elves won the fight. Evil for the most part had vanquished. Many tasks were yet to be completed. Legolas would not see Mirkwood any time soon. More than anything, he wanted to return to his woodland home, see his father, see his friends … see her.
He wondered if she waited for him still. Long had it been since he found her in the glade on that glorious morning. It was almost a complete earth cycle since he left Mirkwood on his important mission, one in which he did not think would take him to the places he saw. In the end, Legolas escaped death one more time. Now he was sure he would spend his remaining years on Middle-earth in somewhat peace, though he had been touched by the call of the sea. Not even the sound of the gulls could make him want to leave without seeing her again. Her face was as plain as day when he closed his eyes. Every night she was in his dreams, dancing and singing in her mesmerizing voice. She constantly called to him, luring him back to his home, back to her.
Legolas knew he had changed, and wondered if she would still know him, still want him. Many terrible things happened on this quest. Many unforgiving sights plagued his thoughts. Blood, death, monsters of ancient legend had all become more than the stories he had once heard as an elfling. Yes, some of those horrors really did exist, and Legolas played witness to them. The red fiery eyes of the balrog haunted his reverie for many months after leaving those cursed mines in Moria, and for a while that was all he saw behind closed eyelids. Still, the smoke lifted from his nightmare to reveal the elleth of his heart. She was the only one that kept him from falling too deep into despair.
All of that was over now, and a new king was going to rule Gondor once more. Legolas did what he set out to do, to protect Aragorn and see him to this day, his day. The coronation brought out many of the free people of the world. There was a gathering of elves from all of the different realms, important lords and kings. Even some of Legolas’ own Mirkwood kin came for the celebration to join their Prince in welcoming the new age, the age of Men. He was partly disappointed when his father, King Thranduil, was not among those in attendance, yet it spoke volumes of his father’s trust in him to represent the elves of Mirkwood. Thranduil had been hesitant to begin with, not wanting to send his only son outside of the protected halls of their palace home. Legolas had proved once again that he was a fierce warrior as well as a trusted and loyal friend. Thranduil was very proud. Now, would she be just as proud?
Legolas was sure that his time had come finally to go home. He had planned to travel with the other elves that came from Mirkwood. It would not be much longer, and he would finally seek out his dream and make it reality. There were only a few things to do before the company of elves left for their return trip. Aragorn had called for a council, and Legolas and Gimli were among those asked to attend.
During this first meeting, the new King picked only the best for the higher positions of his court. He spoke with many of the leaders that had come from other countries, anxious to know what his plans were to unite all communities. His first duty was to appoint a Lord for Ithilien. He chose Faramir to remain Steward of Gondor and to take up this new lordly position in the old ruined city of Osgiliath, leaving its reconstruction to his trusted hands. At first word of this news, Gimli elbowed Legolas and the tall elf casually leaned down to hear him.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the young Steward will make a fine ruler, but what does he know of stone and masonry?” Gimli whispered with great concern.
“Aragorn is just anxious to start with the rebuilding of Gondor. If he thinks Faramir is qualified, then so do I,” Legolas replied.
No sooner had Legolas finished answering Gimli when Faramir announced some of his plans for repairing Osgiliath. Legolas felt Gimli cringe as the Steward talked about repairing certain buildings and reusing some of the stone. The dwarf stepped forward and provided his concerns for this plan.
Legolas stood back and listened to Gimli’s ideas, all very well advised. The city had endured years of destruction making its foundation too unstable to rebuild upon without reinforcement first. The elf was very proud of his friend and his wealth of knowledge on the subject. When it was all said and done, Lord Faramir asked if Gimli would stay in Gondor and help organize the rebuilding.
“I will do you one better than that, Lord Faramir. I will call upon my own kin to come and help. If we are going to do this, we are going to do it right,” Gimli said proudly. Legolas stood by the wayside, and smiled contentedly for his friend. “But I will not do this unless my friend and confidant will stay also,” Gimli added, catching Legolas off guard.
“I believe that is a splendid idea Master Dwarf,” Faramir replied as he went to Legolas. “The ancient gardens of Ithilien have been utterly destroyed. If Ithilien is to shine as it once did, we will need the help and magic of the elves to restore this treasure.”
Legolas did not know what to say at first. For almost a year, all he dreamed of was going back to Mirkwood, finding his love and marrying her. The thought of permanently leaving Mirkwood had never crossed his mind. Faramir looked very hopeful and Gimli was eyeing the elf with one of those looks that said he had better agree or his princely head would meet with the back of the dwarf’s ax.
At that moment, Aragorn approached the hesitant elf with a warm and friendly smile. “I would be most pleased, my friend, if you would stay in Gondor.”
How could Legolas say no? They were all depending on him to complete this joining of the lands, Men, Dwarves, and the only thing missing, Elves. It was then that an idea came to the Prince, “I cannot manage this task alone, and Mirkwood is too far to journey on a regular basis. If it is alright with Lord Faramir, I would ask to start a colony of wood elves in North Ithilien where we can properly rebuild the gardens.”
Faramir smiled and clasped his strong hand to Legolas’ shoulder, “I would be honored to share this land with the elves.”
“Then it is agreed,” Gimli chimed in, “Ithilien will shine once more.”
“And it will belong to all who live there,” Faramir added, “Let Ithilien become a melting pot of sorts where all races are welcome to join in and live freely together.”
“Here, here,” everyone cheered.
“Then soon I must make my journey home,” said Legolas, “I will gather as many that are willing to leave Mirkwood and make Ithilien their new home.”
Later that evening, Legolas was standing on a veranda of his temporary home, looking out across the distance. There was a breeze blowing, and it lifted his hair, making the ends whip in the slight wind. He closed his eyes, and thought of the singing elleth, watching her spin on bare feet as rain fell upon her lovely head. “I am coming home at last and I will find you, my dream,” he said on the wind.
After a while, there was the sound of a gruff voice clearing his throat. Gimli walked into Legolas’ room, wanting to talk to him about the new plans. Legolas turned to him and smiled warmly the way he always did. His fair face was always a welcomed sight to the dwarf.
“I hope we did not overstep our bounds today,” Gimli started, “It’s just . . . I can think of no other elf in Middle-earth that would take as much care as you will with such an important restoration.”
“Your confidence in me is overwhelming, my friend,” Legolas answered with a bow of his head.
Gimli joined Legolas on the veranda, both looking out across the land. Gimli took out a pipe and a pouch. Legolas gave him a sidelong glance, and the dwarf harrumphed, “It was a gift from the hobbits, Longbottom Leaf. It was really too nice of a gift.” He picked up a nearby candle to light his pipe and started puffing away until smoke formed in the air. Legolas shook his head. He was never one for the enjoyment of smoking. It interfered with his senses. Still, Gimli was a good friend and he could ignore the dwarf’s bad habits from time to time.
After some time, and when Gimli’s pipe finally ran out of pipe weed, he spoke again, “You must be quite anxious to get back to Mirkwood. Your lady friend will be waiting for you, will she not?”
“I am nervous Gimli. She may not remember me,” Legolas stated.
“How could she forget you? You are their Prince,” Gimli encouraged.
“Maybe I have changed from the way I used to be. I can feel it within myself. I am not the same elf. I have seen and heard too much. The sea calls to my soul now,” Legolas argued.
“Aye, you have changed, but it has made you a better elf, not that you weren’t before. You are no longer so aloof. I think she will like you much better,” Gimli answered.
Legolas looked to the ground, afraid to mention his next worry, “What if . . . What happens if I find that she has sailed.”
Gimli rolled his eyes to the side, eyeing Legolas without turning his head. So this was what really worried the elf. “Oh now, that is a difficult one. From what I understand, an elf can sail for any number of reasons, but from what you have told me about your mystery lady, I cannot see any reason she would want to sail knowing she has captured the heart of the fair Prince of Mirkwood. Do not worry your shiny head one moment more. You will find out soon enough and when you do, you will think all of this was just silly talk.”
Legolas laughed at himself already, “You always manage to bring me out of my despair, Gimli son of Gloin. Really, I do not know what I would do without you now.”
Gimli tucked his cooled pipe away under his cloak, and turned to head back inside, but stopped before entering the room. “Without me, you would be buried under a pile of orcs,” the dwarf chuckled to himself.
Legolas smiled and laughed along with his friend, “Indeed you may be right, Master Dwarf.” He would humor him this once at least.
* * *
It had been a long journey, but Legolas was finally home. Ah, Mirkwood, the smells and sounds were so soothing and memorable. Too long had the elf been away. The lush forest smelled delightful as he breathed deep. “I am finally home,” he said to himself, and continued on to his father’s palace.
As Legolas approached the gates, elves rushed to him, bowing or laying a hand on him. All were glad to see their Prince return safely. Legolas was surprised by the warm greeting. He had never thought he was so missed, but obviously, he was wrong. He could not help but wonder if someone special would give him a warm welcome, but he did not see her anywhere.
Legolas went into the palace where his father anxiously awaited his arrival. Thranduil welcomed his son with open arms, and checked him over from head to toe, “You have made me very proud, my son. And look at you. You have become more than a great warrior of Mirkwood. You are a leader. Word has reached me about the establishment of a new colony in Ithilien,” Thranduil boasted.
“I was worried you would not agree, Father.”
“No, not at all. I want this for you. Many will follow for they respect and love you, Legolas. This is a chance for them to start a new life away from the wild woods. We have seen devastation for far too many years that some do not remember what it was like when it was still Greenwood the Great. You will give them this chance, to live without fear in the light instead of hidden in the dark woods.” As Thranduil finished speaking, he could not help but notice the sadness in Legolas’ eyes. “Something bothers you,” he said as a statement rather than a question.
The Prince felt a rush of heat spread to his cheeks, “There is someone I was hoping to meet upon my return, but . . .” His words faded as he bowed his head.
Thranduil, although sensing Legolas’ despair, felt a sense of pride in knowing his only son longed for someone. “What is this? My son, the Prince of Mirkwood has found someone who has captured his heart? Why are you here and not chasing after her?”
Legolas looked up at his father, taken aback by his response, “But it is my duty to report to the King first and foremost.”
“Nonsense,” Thranduil answered quickly, “When it comes to matters of the heart, that should always come first. So who is this fair elleth that has my son in such a state of worry?”
“That’s just it, I do not know her name. I had only met her once, the night before I left for Rivendell. She would not give me her name until I returned from my mission, and now that I am here, she is nowhere to be seen.”
“Perhaps you will see her at the feast tonight,” Thranduil answered, “All of Mirkwood will be there to celebrate the return of its Prince.”
Legolas smiled, “Perhaps you are right, Father. And if she is there, I am going to ask her to become my betrothed.”
Thranduil arched a curious brow, “And are you prepared to ask such a question?”
Legolas reached into his tunic, and took out a small velvet pouch. He opened it and emptied its contents into his hand. Two silver rings lay upon his palm, betrothal rings. “I acquired these from a silversmith in Minas Tirith. I have been prepared for this moment for a long time, Father.”
Thranduil embraced his only son and smiled at him, his eyes filled with pride, “I am happy for you, Legolas. I am truly happy.”
* * *
The feast was of grand proportions. The music was delightful. Everyone in attendance was full of mirth. Legolas ate and drank to his fill, enjoying this time amongst friends. He danced with many fair elf maidens, most of whom would forever remember this night. It had been a most enjoyable evening, but for one thing … the elleth, she had never showed.
Thranduil watched his son throughout the evening, and though he enjoyed himself, Legolas seemed to grow somber as the night progressed. The King had seen his son on many occasion stop and peer over the crowd. Thranduil wished there was something he could do, but matters of this sort did not require his assistance. Instead, he made sure that Legolas was never without an empty glass, and hoped the Prince would enjoy himself despite things.
Legolas knew what his father was up to, and pleased him by accepting the offered wine. He was careful not to drink too much and sip slowly. Dorwinion was deceivingly delectable—sweet as juice, but quite potent when least expected— and he did not wish to be in an inebriated state this evening. But as the night wore on, and with no sign of the girl from the glade, he was finding it difficult not to indulge. Against his better judgment, Legolas succumbed to the free flowing nectar, which was his father’s favorite, and finished the night with his head swimming, and in the care of good friends who saw him back to his quarters.
Legolas lay in his bed, and gave a deep sigh. Where had she been? Certainly, she would have come to the festivities and found him. Why hadn’t she come? He was afraid to think of the reasons why. The easiest thing to say was that she simply wasn’t here. Perhaps she had journeyed from Mirkwood. Legolas knew nothing about her. She could be traveling on a mission for family or friends.
When he had first found her, she was alone, and seemed quite skittish. Maybe she did not like big crowds of people. If not that, perhaps she was employed and could not attend.
None of these things eased his mind or his heart, and his thoughts grew darker. She might have sailed, as he had agonized about when he was away. Times were worrisome with the world on the brink of war. Many elves sailed during the past year, and many more were leaving now that Middle-earth had entered into a new age. They would all sail soon, but Legolas’ mission was not through yet. He had an oath to uphold to Aragorn, and a promise to keep to his friend, Gimli.
The elleth from the glade might have decided she would sail with family, in hopes of seeing Legolas sail soon also. It would no doubt be many years before that time, and he hated the thought of having to wait. She probably would give up hope, and find another to give her heart to.
That was the other thought that weighed heavy on his soul. She might have already found someone else. Legolas’ fingers balled up into fists at the thought of another ellon happy and in love with her, when deep down he knew it should have been him. Had he not felt the jolt in his soul when he first laid eyes on her, or when he held her trembling in his arms? He had felt it though, as if the wind had been knocked from his lungs. Before he had seen her, he’d felt it through nothing more than the sound of her voice.
“Where are you, my enchanted lady, my lady of the glade? Why did you not come to me?” he said as he drifted into a restless reverie.
* * *
The past few weeks had been unexpectedly busy for Legolas. Once word was out about the new colony he meant to lead to Ithilien, he was bombarded with elves wanting to join him. It was an overwhelming response, and it gladdened his heart that so many would leave the only place they had ever known. They put their trust in the Prince that he would not lead them astray. It would not be long now and he would need to return to Gondor.
Thranduil insisted upon another feast to send the new colony off in regal style. With the party only a day away, he called upon his son, to finalize a few details before they left. When their business was out of the way, he poured a glass of nectar for himself and for Legolas, and then gestured for him to sit.
“I believe everything is in order, Father. We shall leave the morning after tomorrow,” Legolas informed.
“Very good,” replied Thranduil, though he was curious about one thing, “So, all this time you have been home, yet you have not mentioned this elleth again.” Thranduil leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and whispered, “What has happened, my son?”
Legolas took a deep breath and slouched back in his chair, “I don’t know,” he said, sounding stunned and relieved to finally be able to talk about it, “I really do not know, but whatever has happened, she must have had a change of heart or she is gone. I’ve seen no sign of her.”
“Have you looked for her?” Thranduil asked.
“Every second of every day since I’ve returned. Someone enters a room, and my eyes are drawn to the movement, but it is never her. It is like chasing an apparition. I can almost feel her, but she’s nowhere at all. Perhaps she avoids me. Perhaps she has taken another lover. Or maybe she is gone, and it is only a residual energy that I feel. Whatever it is, she has not come to me.”
Thranduil thought for a moment, took a sip of his nectar and regarded Legolas, “Perhaps you are meant to go to her instead.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” Thranduil explained, “You were not looking when you found her, and it was you who went to her. Now that you are home, you are expecting her to seek you out, but she has not showed. Your meeting was very unexpected, almost magical you could say.”
“But you know better than I that you cannot recreate a moment and expect it to be or to feel the same,” Legolas argued.
“You can only try, Legolas, and hope that is was meant to be.”
Another successfully festive feast, another beautiful dance … the King had outdone himself once again. At least Legolas was not the center of attention this time. The celebration was for all of those starting the new colony in Ithilien. Again, Legolas toasted with his friends and danced with the fair maidens, all of whom wished for an invitation to join him in the new lands. They would receive no more than a dance from the Prince, soon to be lord of his own land.
Thranduil performed a formal toast in honor of those seeking a new life outside of the legendary forest of Mirkwood. Legolas stood proudly by, and accepted his father’s warm wishes and blessings. Then, as everyone toasted their neighbor, there was a loud clap of thunder as an unexpected storm grew above. It started to rain heavily, and in the chaos of elves searching for a place to get out of the rain, Legolas slipped away from the festivities, in search of the glade where he met … her.
“It is almost perfect,” he said to himself excitedly, “Almost as it was when we met.”
He burst through the trees and entered the glade. His hair was soaked and plastered to his face. Rain drenched, he waited in the glade, looking all around for her. His heart beat a million times a minute. She would come, he was sure of it. Any moment she would be there.
But the rain only lasted a brief moment and it was gone. The clouds above parted and the stars woke and twinkled in the fresh sky. Legolas stood alone in the center of the glade. He dropped to his knees, his arms hanging limp at his sides, knuckles dragging through the wet grass, the very spot where she danced. His chin came to rest on his chest. All hope seemed to leave him. She was never coming. Tomorrow he left for Gondor, but his heart would remain in the glade.
“Were you really nothing more than a dream? I had hoped it wasn’t so, but I can see it no other way. Just a dream,” he whispered.
The next morning, Legolas set out for Gondor with his fellow Mirkwood companions, and came to the conclusion that he may never see her again.
Chapter 3 - Chapter 3
The elves were greeted with fanfare as they passed the gates of Gondor. The white tower was still in disarray from the recent war, but it stood solid in the sunlight, a beacon of hope for all those wayward souls to come home to.
Home, Legolas thought, this was his new home. It felt very strange to say that, and though his body and mind were here, his heart remained in Mirkwood. He dwelled on it for only a brief moment, and then crossed beneath the great gateway into the city. A celebration was taking place at the Citadel, in the King’s house. Aragorn, of course, would be there, but so would Gimli, and Legolas was anxious to see his friend again. Home, Legolas thought once more, and this time he meant it.
“The Court of the Fountain,” Legolas said to himself as he entered the topmost level of Minas Tirith. He breathed deep the fresh air of the mountains. The courtyard had remained untouched during the war, and now it was in full bloom. Green grass, flowerbeds, and small decorative trees enriched the area. In the center was the fountain, which once held the remains of White Tree of Gondor, dead for many years. Now, the dead tree was gone, replaced by a sapling in full bloom … new life, new hope, and a new King to lead the people.
Legolas approached the tree and delicately touched one of the white petals, soft as a lamb’s ear, “From the line of Galathilion, I had hoped to see it living before I sailed.” He closed his eyes and smiled contentedly, his heart beginning to heal.
“Just how I expected to find you, ye young rascal!” exclaimed a gruff voice from the entrance of the King’s home, “Talking to trees again, are you?”
Legolas spun around to see the dwarf approaching him, “Gimli, my heart shines to see you again.”
The friends embraced, but quickly, as Gimli wouldn’t want someone seeing him hugging the elf. Then he stepped back and gave Legolas a thorough examination from head to toe, “Took you long enough to come back. I was beginning to wonder if you had abandoned us.”
“Never, Gimli. I said I’d be back, and I never break a promise.”
“No, you never do, do you?” Gimli said humbly, “It is good to see you, Legolas, but I must say you seem a little stretched. Is all well in Mirkwood?”
“Everything is fine. Father sends his blessings.”
Gimli knitted his brows and regarded Legolas with a serious eye. Thranduil never sent blessings, least of all to a dwarf, “No, there is something else. Out with it, Elf.”
Legolas still wore a smile, but it did not reach is eyes anymore, “It is alright, my friend. I have had the journey from Mirkwood to get my mind settled and my heart mending. The important thing is that I am back with my friends, with my Fellowship.”
“So, things did not work out with the girl then?” Gimli asked.
“No, I’m afraid not.”
Gimli reached up and patted Legolas’ shoulder, “I am sorry to hear this, truly, but you are here amongst your friends, and there is much work to be done.”
“I suppose you are right,” said Legolas unconvincingly.
“Come along then, Aragorn will be anxious to see you, and he wishes to speak to us before the celebration tonight.”
“A celebration? I don’t know, Gimli. It has been a long journey and we are all very tired and—”
“Oh no you don’t,” Gimli complained, “A lot of preparations have been made in your honor. It has been almost unbearable around here lately, what with the announcement of your return and the other elves and all. The Queen herself has seen to most of it. She even got Aragorn involved in some of the decision making. Tried to recruit me also, but I put my foot down, and said I was no party planner.”
Legolas looked surprised, “You would turn down the granddaughter of Galadriel?”
The name alone made Gimli’s eyes glaze over as a vision of the Lady of the Golden Wood appeared in his mind. The dwarf reached up and patted his chest. Beneath was a pocket that contained three strands of her magical golden hair, a gift that he treasured. Only Legolas knew where Gimli kept them, and smiled to know he still had them on his person.
Gimli shook his head to break the trance, and cleared his throat, “Arwen is her granddaughter, mind you, not the Lady herself. Besides, I have more important things to tend to. These hands carve stone and cleave heads. They do not string delicate flowers.” Gimli huffed a short breath, and turned to the building in front of them, “We better go inside and meet Aragorn, and pray that Arwen is not there. Luckily, you’ve just arrived, and she will likely give you time to rest up, but she’ll probably still be looking for something for me to do.”
They entered the building, and Legolas was amazed at the care that had been taken. The main room of the King’s home had been transformed into a gathering hall with streamers of silk and flowery garland draped here and there. Tables were covered with white linen and lanterns centered on each one. A stage was erected at the opposite end of the hall where the musicians would set up later. Everything was done with such expertise and care, and Legolas already felt very welcomed.
Aragorn emerged from a doorway at the far end. Legolas hardly recognized him, dressed in his regal robes with the symbol of Gondor embroidered across the chest. Never had anyone looked more the part. Aragorn had accepted his title well.
The King smiled genuinely and approached Legolas with open arms, “My friend, it is so good to see you again. I have had temporary quarters set up for your people. They are being escorted there as we speak. You can stay here as long as you like, though I know you will be anxious to start your work in Ithilien.”
“Your kindness is overwhelming, Aragorn … or should I call you King Elessar now,” Legolas suggested.
“You can call me Wingfoot, if it pleases you,” Aragorn laughed. This was a name that Eomer gave him after learning about the Fellowship’s pursuit of the Uruk-hai through the Eastemnet, and something Legolas used to tease him about.
They grasped forearms as warriors often do, and searched for that fire in each other’s eyes, finding the brotherhood of fighters still strong within them.
“How are you Legolas, and how fairs Mirkwood?”
“Mirkwood will mend. My people are strong, and they anticipate the new age. Evil has been vanquished from the Rhovanion, and light returns to the forest.”
Aragorn noticed that Legolas did not talk about himself, but all in good time. He smiled and released his friend, then looked to the dwarf, “Gimli has been a bear to be around without you here.”
“Alright, enough of that,” Gimli complained, putting a stop to the teasing.
Aragorn and Legolas spared a laugh at Gimli’s expense. Then Aragorn turned to Legolas, “I know your travels have been lengthy, but if you don’t mind, there are a few things I’d like to discuss while I have you both here.” Legolas and Gimli agreed, and Aragorn led them to one of the tables where they had a seat.
They discussed a few plans already put in place for the rebuilding. Aragorn asked that Legolas help rebuild the gardens of Minas Tirith as well as Ithilien. Gimli had already volunteered his talents to the beautification of the city, by constructing fountains in the gardens.
Talk of business turned to a more relaxed conversation about their personal lives, and reminiscing about their recent journeys. Legolas was glad to talk about some of his experiences. No one else could understand the things that he’d seen or done. Only one like himself—a warrior—could relate, and especially someone who had walked at his side during those trying days.
As the mood turned somber, Arwen entered the room, and took a seat by her husband. Gimli seemed to slink down in his chair, and Legolas laughed to himself. She smiled warmly and welcomed Legolas back to the city. The atmosphere lightened immediately with her presence. After they were all reacquainted, Arwen stood from her chair and addressed Legolas.
Legolas stood, as well as Aragorn and Gimli, but she gestured to the others to sit. Then she took Legolas by the hand and led him away from his friends. Glancing back over her shoulder, she smiled at Aragorn, “Just a word in private.”
Aragorn bowed, and Gimli’s eyes lit up with a spark of humor, Legolas noticed. He remembered what Gimli said about Arwen recruiting them to help with the celebration, and wondered what she had in mind for him too.
They walked the length of the aisle, and exited out into the courtyard. Arwen made small talk until they came to a stop at the edge of the fountain. She rested her hand on his arm, and captured his eyes with her own, “You are troubled, Legolas. Where is the light I saw when you came to Rivendell? A fire burned within you then, but it has all but extinguished.”
Legolas tore his gaze from her, and looked to the blossoming tree. Arwen had the gift of sensing a disquieted soul, and she had obviously become aware of his. “I expected to … reunite with someone upon returning to my home, but . . .” His words trailed off. “I assumed I would not come back alone.”
“She must have been very special to have captured the heart of Mirkwood.” Arwen smiled at him as his face flushed.
“We met just before I came to Rivendell. I had known her for no longer than the length of a passing spring storm, but she made an impression upon my soul. I hoped she had felt the same, but when I went home, she was not there.”
“I am sorry you have had to experience this pain. Love is a very powerful thing, especially when it happens so suddenly and unexpectedly. Will you tell me about her? Sometimes it helps heal the heart,” Arwen suggested.
Legolas told her briefly of the fair maiden of the glade, and of the magical moment that they shared. “I never knew her name, but she had the most beautiful voice. I hear her every time I close my eyes. She sang of the Great Greenwood, and filled my heart with the joy I had from those wondrous days.” He
closed his eyes and recited a few of the words from her song. The elleth’s melody echoed in his mind, “Even now I can hear her.”
Arwen squeezed his arm, and he opened his eyes, “Perhaps tomorrow you should go to Ithilien. Go and see the place that you will call home. I must warn you though, there has been much devastation, but there are still areas that have been untouched. Some of the forest has grown lush and wild. May you find some peace amongst the trees, and begin your task with a fresh mind.”
Legolas covered his heart with the palm of his hand and bowed to the new Queen, “Yes, Lady Arwen, I believe I will do just that.”
* * *
The next morning at sunrise, despite Gimli’s protests that he should not go alone, Legolas set out for Ithilien. He arrived at the city of Osgiliath first, which had been utterly destroyed. The dwarf had his work cut out for him, Legolas thought as he carefully led his horse, Arod, through the rubble. Across the river, where the gardens once stood, was complete devastation. The areas were littered with splintered trees, the ground blackened from fire. Legolas went on, searching for the untouched forests that Arwen spoke of.
He ascended a hill, barren of any plant life, and expected to find more destruction once he reached the top. To his surprise, the backside of the hill was thick with tall trees and lush undergrowth. He dismounted, leaving Arod to wander on his own, and entered the forest. It felt good to walk beneath the trees again, but it wasn’t home, not yet … perhaps never. The sea called to him now, though it was a faint pang in his heart. Ithilien was close to the Anduin River, a main vein that ran to the sea. It could carry him away from here, away from this ache in his soul. It would be so easy, and the thought crossed his mind time and again. He had a promise to fulfill though, and he would not leave the Fellowship. If it wasn’t for them though . . .
Legolas spent the day wandering the forest, learning the land, and imagining how it would look once the elves had manicured it. He knew there were waterfalls not far from here, he could hear the running water, and smell the wet shore of a lake. They could make a path that led to the water, build a dock, make it a place of relaxation and meditation. Legolas closed his eyes, and drew a vision to mind of the finished project.
Would she have like it here? He wondered. Would she have come with him, if he had had the chance to ask her? He would never know.
Legolas made his way back to the place where he left Arod. When he did not see his horse, he called and whistled, but Arod was nowhere.
“Tolo! Tolo enni!” he called, “Where has he gotten to?”
Legolas walked along the tree line. Arod would not have wandered into the woods, the growth was too close … unless—
The light coming from the trees indicated a clearing. Legolas listened carefully and heard the light whickering of his horse. He smiled. Of course, Arod was fond of the tender grass that grew in such areas. He cut between the trees. “Arod,” he called before seeing his horse, “You gave me a bit of a scare. Come, we must be—”
Legolas’ heart staggered a few beats, and then felt as though it stopped all together. There, in the center of the clearing, was Arod, but he was not alone.
A vision in blue silk stood before him. The rays of the sun washed down on her gilded hair, and she glowed like a flame. Her hand caressed Arod’s mane, and she smiled and kissed his nose. Arod, sensing Legolas, whinnied and nodded with excitement. She looked to see what drew the horse’s attention, and spotted Legolas standing at the edge of the clearing.
Legolas wanted to run to her, grab her hand, pull her to him, and never let her go, but he was afraid that the slightest movement would make her apparition disappear. He was still unconvinced that she was living flesh.
“Are you real?” he asked. So many dreams had begun like this.
Confused, she laughed nervously, “Y-yes.”
“How did you come to be here?” He could not believe that she was standing before him. Surely, he would wake up any moment.
She whispered something to Arod and patted his nose. Then she took a few steps towards Legolas, “Word spread of your victory, and then of your decision to stay in Gondor. I did not think you were coming back to Mirkwood, and I … I thought you had forgotten me.”
“Forget my lady of the glade? Nothing could be farther from the truth. You have been with me, in my mind, in my thoughts, from the first moment I gazed upon you dancing on the grass. You wore a pale yellow dress with blue ribbons on the sleeves. The grass beneath your toes was hardly touched as you danced in the glade, for you seemed to float.” Legolas closed the distance between them, but stopped before he got too close. He remembered their first meeting, when she threatened to dash away.
She took another step closer, “And you were standing by a tree, watching me in silence. I was startled, until I realized it was you.”
“I thought you would run from me, you seemed so shocked,” Legolas continued the story, “But instead, you danced with me. And then the thunder—”
“Yes,” she giggled, “I hadn’t even noticed the sky growing dark. I hadn’t noticed much of anything besides you.”
“You jumped into my arms, shivering, and all I wanted to do was make you feel safe and sound.”
“And you did, my Prince.” She finished walking towards him. Now they stood before each other. She studied his face, and looked deep into his eyes. Her countenance switched from joy to empathy, “You have changed since we met.”
Legolas looked away, “I was afraid of this. Yes, I have changed, my lady. I have seen things that have blinded my vision from the world around me. I have heard things that still scream out in my ears. I have smelled the stench of death and fear, and felt the blood of my brothers upon my own hands. There are things I cannot release from my memory. They are with me for always. I am not the elf I once was, and I feared you would not recognize me any longer.”
The elleth lifted her hand to his face, hesitating to touch him, but Legolas pressed her hand to his cheek, and reveled in the feel of her warm palm. Then she spoke compassionately, “I see the change. I feel your pain. You are right, my Prince, you are not the same.” She smiled sweetly, “You are … more than you were. You have a deeper understanding for the world, now that you have experienced life beyond the Rhovanion. But you have not changed so much that I do not know you. I still see the light, that glow about you that I witnessed in the glade. The ellon I met, the ellon who took me into his arms, who danced with me on that fine spring morning, he is still here, and my feelings for him have not altered in the least.”
“And what might those feelings be?” Legolas asked.
“Respect … honor … complete awe … love,” she said carefully.
“Love … that is a very strong feeling for someone you barely know.”
“What are your feelings, then,” she asked.
“Admiration … salvation … deep yearning … love.” He lowered her hand from his face and held it between his own hands, “I looked for you when I returned home. I thought you had gone … sailed, or maybe you had found another which to give your heart. I thought you had forgotten me.”
“Never, my Prince,” she answered.
Legolas shook his head, “Please, call me by my name.”
He closed his eyes, and let the sound of her voice saying his name burn into his memory. She said it again, this time slowly in an airy whisper, “It is just as I imagined it would sound,” he said, “So many nights during my travels, in those rare moments when all was calm and peaceful, I would envision your voice saying my name, but I could not call back to you, for I never knew yours.”
“Aníriel,” she said, “My name is Aníriel.”
“Aníriel,” he said, slowly drawing out all the syllables, and savoring the first taste of her name on his tongue. He said it a few more times, making her giggle with delight. “Tell me, Aníriel, who knows you are here?”
“No one, I have no family. My parents have sailed, and I have no siblings. Why?”
“We met so briefly, but you instilled yourself upon my soul, and I swore that when we met again, I would ask only one thing of you.”
Aníriel took his hand, lifting it as she spun on her toes, “A dance perhaps? Or maybe a song?” she guessed delightedly.
Legolas stopped her, grabbed her by the waist, and pulled her to him. In his hand, he held a small velvet pouch. He handed it to her. She gave him a puzzled look and cocked her head to one side. Legolas nodded, gesturing for her to open it. Aníriel emptied the contents into her hand. Two silver rings slid out of the pouch, clinking together as they rolled into her palm. She stared at them in bewilderment, and then slowly lifted her head to find Legolas’ handsome face watching every move she made.
“These are betrothal rings,” she said for a lack of anything better to say.
“Aníriel, I have had an earth cycle to think about this, and I am certain that you are the one I want to spend eternity with. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife, to bind your soul to mine?”
The elleth was dumbfounded, “Legolas, as you said, we met so briefly. I wasn’t expecting anything like—”
“Do you love me?” he interjected.
She gazed up into his handsome face, “I do. I always have, but—”
“Then, please say yes. Say you will have me,” he pleaded.
She searched the depths of his eyes, “Your mission is not yet complete, though. You have made a promise to others. It is why you are here now, and not settled back in Mirkwood carrying out your duties as Prince.”
“The Rhovanion brings no peace to me now. The gull calls to me, and I am more content here where I am closer to the sea. A bond, too, I have made with the King … a promise that I swore to uphold until he passes his throne on to an heir. The only thing missing is you.”
Aníriel stepped away from him, and he was afraid she would go. He held his hand out to her, but she merely looked at it, and did not accept it. “I fear I would be a distraction to you, just as I feared it the first time we met. There are others who need you more … the King, your people … especially your people. They look to you for guidance and leadership. I would not want to be the cause of disruption when you so clearly have a lot to accomplish.”
“Aníriel, you have been a distraction from the first time I laid eyes upon you. What you don’t know is that it was a diversion I needed in order to survive the long darkness of Moria, and the visions of the balrog. It was you whom I fought for at Helm’s Deep and Pelennor Field. And it was for you that I marched to the Black Gates of Mordor, and stood surrounded by my enemy. When all seemed lost, you were a beam of light impaling my heart, giving me strength and hope. That brief encounter in a glade in Mirkwood was just the distraction I needed, and I swore that when I found you again, I would never let you go.” He lowered himself to his knees on the soft grass, and gazed up at her with pleading blue eyes, “Please, Aníriel, be my betrothed. I love you.”
She looked at the rings that she still held in her palm, and then back to Legolas kneeling vulnerably before her. She reached out, took his hand and lifted it, gesturing for him to stand. When he was on his feet, she gave him the smaller of the two rings and offered him her hand, smiling, and said, “I would be honored to be your wife. Yes, Legolas, a million times yes … I will marry you.”
He put the ring on her finger, and stared longingly into her eyes as she did the same for him. Overwhelmed with joy, Legolas picked Aníriel up by her waist and spun her around, making her squeal from surprise. He set her back on her feet, and she swooned with dizziness. Legolas had a hold of her still, and pulled her to him, lifting her chin. He bent his head towards her, lips almost touching, and stopped. Aníriel watched him look up at the sky.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Checking the sky,” he smiled, “Not a cloud, no thunder to chase my lady away.”
“Oh, I’m not going anywhere,” she said, wrapping her hand around the back of his neck. She pulled him down to her, “Now, kiss me.”
Their lips touched, and a charge coursed through their bodies. For so long, Legolas had wondered how she would feel, how she would taste. Nothing he had ever imagined could have prepared him for the rush of emotion that flowed through him now. His mind cleared of all the bad memories. The gull’s song quieted. The smells of the forest enhanced, and his senses were heightened. It was the most wonderful thing he’d ever experienced.
Legolas released her and stood back, “I have never felt so … existent.” He breathed deep and looked around at their surroundings, smiling, and said, “This shall be my first order of business. The elves will live here, in this forest while we rejuvenate the barren sections of this land. We will build our homes here, and I will make our home right on the edge of this glade.”
“And I shall dance and sing for you every morning,” Aníriel added.
“And I will join you when a storm rolls in, just to have you jump into my arms.” Legolas captured her with another long and passionate kiss, feeling as though his heart might burst. He pulled her to him and melted as she nestled her head against his firm chest. “Those who did not know Greenwood the Great will understand how glorious it once was. Ithilien will be made in its likeness, and no one shall live in fear again, so long as the elves walk upon these lands.”
“Your mother would be so proud of you, of the man you have become, and I am just as proud,” Aníriel assured him, “Your people will agree, too, and call you their lord, for that will be your new title, but to me, you will always be my Prince.”
Legolas wrapped his arms around her, relishing the feel of her closeness, “And you will always be my lady of the glade.”
*Author’s note: Inspiration for this story came from the song, The Widow of Loch Lemond by Jeff Victor (Lifescapes-Scottish Moors). If you would like to listen to this song, go to. . .
Printed from Open Scrolls Archive (http://www.openscrolls.net) on Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:20 am