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Longing For Home

Chapter 2: Chapter 2

by L8Bleumr

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.

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Chapter 2
Created
24 Feb 2013
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24 Feb 2013
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