Never Again by Nieriel Raina


Prologue: Never Again’


Ithilien Near Asgarnen

Year 7, Fourth Age


A lone, unmoving figure stood on a rise of ground at the edge of the forest. He was tall, lithe, and beautiful. The wind teased strands of his golden hair, blowing them across his bright grey eyes. A hand slowly moved up and long fingers tucked the rebellious strands behind his delicately pointed ears, before slowly lowering once again. He stared into the distance, looking to the west as the sun sank into the horizon. A frown creased his brow, and a low groan came from deep within him, as the yearning took over his heart.


During times such as these, he wondered if he still had a heart. There were times when he felt empty, except for the continuous pain in his chest. Dull most of the time, but when he dwelled on it, it became sharper. And as the longing grew in intensity, he asked himself the question he knew was on the minds of every elf in Ithilien. ‘Why am I still here? Why haven’t I sailed?’


There had to be a reason, but right now it would not come to him. His mind was too overcome with the longing in his heart. Only one thing was there...the sea. Always the sea. In his mind he could hear the crash of the waves, smell the salt in the air and hear the cries of the gulls. And as he dwelt on the object of his desire, he softly questioned himself out loud. “Why am I still here?” But no answer came. He had forgotten.


Lifting his head again towards the west, he let the song of the sea start to consume him. The pain of the longing was bittersweet. The song was beautiful, yet as it called to him, a pain throbbed in his heart. Slowly he became aware of another ache there, and he searched his heart for the reason for it. And in his mind he heard a low growl.


“Gimli...” The word was spoken in a whisper as he remembered, and he grimaced at the thought of his friend. The dwarf would have his hide if he knew where his thoughts were right now. Gimli would be hurt to know that he questioned himself, and would be devastated that he had actually, for a few moments, forgotten why he still remained. But it was so hard to stay focused on his reasons for staying when he couldn’t see them. In truth, the elf loved his work restoring Ithilien, but it never replaced the desire in his heart to sail west. And his work here kept him from those who he loved above all else, his reasons for remaining in Middle Earth a while longer.


‘How is it possible that I haven’t seen Gimli in over a year?’ the elf questioned himself. They both knew better. Legolas needed the dwarf’s companionship frequently to combat the sea longing or it overtook him. It had even been six months since he had seen Aragorn and Arwen, not to mention three since he had seen Faramir and Eowyn. Had he been that caught up in his work? No, he had been that caught up in his sea longing.


With great effort the elf pushed the sea to the back of his mind. He wished he could push it completely out, at least for a time. Turning toward the trees, Legolas made his decision. He was going to see his friends, no matter what must be put on hold here. It grieved him greatly that he had allowed the sea and his work to prevent his normal visits, twice a year to the Glittering Caves. It grieved him greater that he had forgotten their lord in the face of his longing.


‘Never again’, he swore to himself. With a heavy heart and a guilty conscience, he headed back towards the elven settlement of Asca Nen.



(Asca Nen - the elven settlement in Ithilien. Translates into Rushing Water, named for the large, rocky stream that flows nearby the elven settlement)


Chapter 1: An Overdue Visit

(The Day before Prologue)

Mid Summer

Royal Palace, Minas Tirith

Aragorn watched the dwarf carefully. Gimli had been standing on that balcony for a couple of hours looking south. He had not spoken much since he had arrived yesterday. Aragorn was concerned. This was not like Gimli at all. He knew his friend well enough to know the dwarf loved to talk, to tell of all his experiences. Gimli was a storyteller and a good one. And it had been a long time since they had seen each other. He should have been chatting away telling all about Legolas’s last visit to Aglarond and the mischief they had gotten into. Or excitedly discussing the newly found caverns in Mount Mindolluin that had brought him here. Yet, he was silent. This was not a good sign. Aragorn walked out to stand next to him, knowing there was much on the dwarf’s mind.


“What causes you to stand here so silently, my friend? I was sure you would be excited about these new caverns and a chance to explore them. Surely you must have much to tell of Aglarond as well! How went Legolas’s last visit? Did he get lost again?” Aragorn smiled slightly. The smile faded when the dwarf turned to look at him. There was such pain in his eyes. And concern.


“Legolas did not come see me this last year, Aragorn. There is not much to tell.”


The dwarf turned away again. He looked troubled and deep in thought. Aragorn was taken back by this news. Legolas had not visited! He had sensed something was not right when Legolas declined the last invitation to visit Minas Tirith. It seemed the elf had not seen anyone in a while. This did not bode well. He looked down as Gimli spoke again.


“I fear for him. It is not like Legolas to disregard our plans. He did not even send word that he was not coming. When I sent a letter inquiring if all was well, his reply just stated that he had been busy and had forgotten. Forgotten, Aragorn! Then he went on to say he would not be able to come in the spring either, as he usually does. No reason, just he was sorry he was unable to come! Blast that elf! He’s turned me into a sentimental fool!”


Despite his concern, Aragorn could not hold back a smile. It was true, there was a time Gimli would not have cared at all what Legolas did or did not do. They had so strongly disliked each other when they first met and were forced to work together as part of the Fellowship of the Ring. That had all changed over the course of the War, and many were amazed at the strong friendship these two had developed. Though those who did not know them well, might still consider them enemies, as they bickered amongst themselves constantly. It was rare for one of them to admit to the deep feelings between them. He had been correct in his premonitions. Something was not right with his elf friend.


“I will send a letter to Asca Nen asking him to come, Gimli. I already have a message going to Faramir, we will add one to Legolas as well. With this new discovery, I want him to be here. He has declined our offers to visit the last six months. Faramir mentioned Legolas did not look himself the last time he saw him, though he claimed he was just very busy in a new area of the forest. I have wanted to check on him, but I have been unable to get away. It seems our elf friend has made a habit of claiming he is busy to avoid his friends. Come Gimli, let us write to our missing comrade and make sure he cannot refuse to come!”


“Very well, Aragorn. But if he does not come, I am going to him. Obviously, he needs to have a discussion with the flat side of my ax!”


Aragorn chuckled as they both turned and headed towards his office. Soon a rider left the city gates, headed south towards Ithilien.



(Morning the day after Legolas made his vow)

Legolas made it back to Asca Nen the next morning. He had been taking these trips alone for a while now, searching out new areas that needed the elves touch. After last evening, he realized taking these trips alone was probably not the best thing to do. Shaking his head in disgust at himself, he entered Asca Nen and headed towards his dwelling.


The elves of Ithilien had slowly turned the land back to its previous beauty. The trees were recovering from the darkness. Young ferns, forest plants and flowers were growing everywhere in and around the elven city. If one could call it a city. Truly, there were few dwellings on the ground. All of the elves that lived here, lived in beautiful talons in the trees. There were a few guest quarters built below for occasional visitors. A hall, of sorts, consisted of a large clearing with a scattering of stone tables and benches. The elves preferred to meet and feast under the stars. There was also a small stable which was only used when there were visitors, as the elves let their own horses roam free. A few other miscellaneous buildings scattered amongst the trees. All were a part of the landscape around them. It was a beautiful city.


The most interesting feature here was the home of its Lord. A tall tree stood next to the edge of a large rocky cliff. The main dwelling was in a talon in this splendid tree. It was the only one with a built in spiraling stair which began near the entrance to a large cave system. Skilled dwarven hands had carved those caves into magnificent rooms, similar to those of the elven king’s halls. It was here that Legolas’s personal guests stayed. He also slept in the caverns when a certain dwarven visitor who detested climbing trees, even if that consisted of climbing stairs, came to stay.


“My lord!”


Legolas stopped walking towards his dwelling and turned towards his second in command. He had known Tathar since they were elflings. Their friendship had grown from mere companions to include military chain of command. When Legolas became a captain of his own patrol, Tathar became his lieutenant. When Legolas moved to Ithilien after the war, Tathar was the first to agree to come. Tathar took his duties as second in command and advisor very seriously. He knew his place and filled his role well.


“My lord,” the dark haired elf repeated as he hurried towards Legolas.“ A rider arrived from Minas Tirith last night. He left a message for you from the king! He said you should read it as soon as possible,” Tathar exclaimed, handing the scroll over to Legolas.


“Thank you, Tathar. I will take this up and read it now. Unless the king requires something other of me, I will be leaving for Rohan, and I don’t want to hear any arguments about it either!” Legolas said quickly as the other was opening his mouth to protest. “I have already missed my regular trips to see Gimli and nothing here is pressing. Unless Aragorn needs me elsewhere, I will be gone at least a month, perhaps two.” Pausing to observe Tathar’s expression of shock, he added, “I’ll be leaving as soon as I can finish preparing my things.”


“As you wish, my lord. I don’t like you being away without a guard, but perhaps the time will be good for you. We will miss you, my lord.” Sometimes there was just no arguing with that stubborn creature of a prince. Better to just accept the fact and make sure all stayed well here in Ithilien while his lord was away.


Legolas was surprised at this response. Tathar strongly disliked his lord being away for any length of time. Yet, his second was not arguing. Things would be well here while he was away. Legolas was confident of his second’s abilities.


“Thank you, Tathar. And stop calling me lord. You know I detest titles!” Legolas gave his friend a grin and turned back towards his talon.


He climbed the stairs quickly and once inside, he sat at a desk and looked at the scroll in his hand. Breaking the seal, he opened it and scanned it quickly. This was a personal letter rather than official business.


Greetings Prince Legolas,


My friend, I hope this letter finds all well with you. As it seems all is well in Ithilien, your people can spare your arrogant presence for a time. It has been too long since you visited us, Legolas! We have missed you.


A certain dwarven friend of yours arrived yesterday and is requesting your presence here in Minas Tirith, as well. It seems our city’s builders have come across some old caverns that run deep into the mountain from the city. Gimli is certain he could not explore these without your complaining and has requested I send a messenger to you. I quickly agreed as I would have your opinions on these findings, as well.


In his words, “You better get here quickly or I’ll have to find a use for my ax on your backside!” Seems you are not in Gimli’s favor at the time, my friend. Something about not visiting? Again I wonder if all is well with you or have you just tired of our presence?


You have until the end of the week to get yourself here to Minas Tirith. Failure to arrive will result in an angry, ax wielding dwarf coming to look for you.


We look forward to you gracing us with your fair presence again.


My thanks.




A smile spread slowly across the elf’s face. Of course, they would never believe that he was already planning to visit. But by leaving this morning he would arrive by late tonight. He would surprise them by showing up very early. He smiled again. The dwarf would have to find other uses for that ax of his.


After informing Tathar of the change in plans, he packed quickly. He slipped his knife in his belt and buckled his quiver on his back. He picked up his bow and pack and after a last look around, turned and left. A whistle produced his horse, and he mounted and headed for Minas Tirith without a backwards glance.

Chapter 2: A Late Night “Discussion”

The moon shone high in the night sky, as a horse galloped through the night. Celedae was everything his name implied as he raced across the Pelennor Fields. Truly he was a silver shadow, slipping almost soundlessly through the night. Legolas rode him effortlessly, hardly moving on the horses back. He was eager to arrive in the city and take some rest. He had not slept for several days and the emotional turmoil of the last day had drained him. Riding alone with his thoughts had only increased his guilt over his self imposed exile from his friends.


He was let in the city gate quickly as he was well known and well liked amongst the guards. It didn’t take long for him to make his way to the sixth level of the city There he tended his horse, cleaning out his feet and rubbing him down. He left Celedae in a clean stall, making sure the large silver-grey stallion had plenty of fresh hay and clean water.


Making his way on foot to the seventh tier, he was stopped by the guards at the entrance to the courtyard. Upon realizing who he was, he was quickly admitted and a young guard escorted him through the courtyard, past the white tree and into the palace .


“Lord Legolas, King Elessar told us to expect you, but he didn’t think you would arrive for several days. All have retired for the night, however, I know the king would want to see you. Shall I announce you?” Legolas turned and looked at the guard, considering this for a moment.

“Nay, do not disturb anyone this night. I am also weary and will see myself to my chambers. If you would simply let the king know in the morning that I have arrived, that will suffice.”

“As you wish, my lord. Pleasant dreams.” As the guard slipped away to return to his duties, Legolas made his way to his room.


While he was weary, he also needed to think about his meeting with his friends on the morrow. They would want to know why he had kept to himself in Ithilien for so long. He wouldn’t lie to them, but he couldn’t bring himself to admit the whole truth either. He was ashamed of his behavior. He’d have to think this through before he spoke with Aragorn and Gimli.


Arriving at his door in the long hallway, he quietly let himself in. The moonlight from the open balcony door illuminated the room and he noticed the door that joined his room to Gimli’s was open. He made his way to a chair where he deposited his pack. Placing his weapons in their places on the wall, he moved to the open adjoining door. It would not be wise to wake Gimli at this hour. He was in enough trouble with the dwarf as it was without intruding on his sleep. But he could not help standing in the doorway and looking in on his friend. The sound of loud snores came from within the room and Legolas smiled. For once, that was a comforting sound. He had missed his friend.


Leaving the door open, Legolas moved back into his room and into the wash room. After removing the dirt from traveling, he quickly dressed for bed in loose leggings and a soft shirt which he left open to the night air. He then slipped out the door of his balcony and perched on the rail. He looked up at the stars and started to hum softly to himself. It was comforting to be here. He sat there lost in the stars and the quiet night, thinking.


“As much as I tire of your foolish ways, elf, it doesn’t mean I want you to disappear for a year. How on earth am I to look after you, if you hide yourself away in Ithilien?” The soft yet gruff voice sounded in the doorway, startling the elf perched on the rail. His head jerked to the door where a concerned, scowling Gimli stood in his nightclothes. A slow smile graced Legolas’s face as joy at seeing his friend filled his heart.


“Forgive me, Gimli. I did not mean to wake you. But it is good to see you again.” His smile faded as he realized there was not going to be any pleasantries. There were many emotions swirling in the eyes of his friend: concern and hurt, anger and was that fear? Legolas winced when he realized just how much his absence had worried his friend. There would be no jesting his way out of this, there would be a serious discussion and he dreaded it. He pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them, looked back up at the stars.


“What is going on, Legolas? And do not take me for a fool! I want to know why you’ve been avoiding your friends. What’s wrong, lad?” The tone of his friend’s voice, the concern and love that filled it, shook Legolas. Rarely did Gimli sound like that. He bowed his head, his loose hair covering his face like a golden curtain. A moment later a warm hand was placed on his arm.


“Come down from there, lad. Come sit and talk to me. You’ve had enough time to think about what to say.” The dwarf’s voice was insistent. Legolas slowly lifted his head, then slipped off the railing, moving to the bench just outside the door. Gimli joined him and waited for him to speak.


Not looking at his friend, Legolas said, “I’m sorry it’s been so long, my friend. I’ve been busy but I should have made the time to visit as we’d planned.” Legolas looked up at the dwarf knowing that excuse would never suffice, to find anger in those dark eyes. It didn’t surprise him. His friend knew him too well.


“I told you not to take me for a fool. What on earth were you thinking, Legolas? A whole year! Do you have any idea how worried I have been for you? You cannot do that to yourself! It will destroy you!”


“I know, Gimli! Believe me, I know! But you didn’t come to see me either if I recall. You cannot put the entire blame for not seeing each other on me!” On the defensive now, Legolas did what came naturally, he struck back. He immediately regretted it and looked away.


“By Mahal, Legolas! You knew this year I’d be unable to come to Ithilien. There has been much that required my presence in Rohan and in Erebor. I did not come to see you, Legolas, because I could not! That is why we had planned on your visiting me, or did you forget we were to travel to Eryn Lasgalen and the Lonely Mountain together this spring? You will not throw me off by turning this around, lad! You WILL tell me what is wrong!”


“What do you want me to say, Gimli? That I allowed myself to get caught up in the sea’s song? That the pain was so great I isolated myself from all those who are close to me? That I...I was so caught up I didn’t even notice the change of seasons... and missed my visit with you? That I was so angry with myself... I couldn’t bring myself to face you in the spring either? That I regret deeply not seeing you this last year?” Legolas forced himself to look at the dwarf, grief filling his eyes. In return, the dark eyes of his friend were filled with compassion.


“If that is the truth, lad, then yes, I want you to tell me those things. I want you to trust me enough to be honest and stop hiding behind that pride of yours. I want you to remember I am your best friend, not just someone with whom you can jest.” It was true, in front of others they argued and teased one another mercilessly, but in heart they were as brothers.


“I apologize, Gimli. It is not easy to speak of these things. I had not realized how long it had been since I had seen my friends. I’m here now. I was on my way here before I got the letter from Aragorn. I was foolish, I know!” He pleaded with his friend and was surprised when the concern and anger faded completely to be replaced by amusement.


“Did you just admit that you are a fool?” Gimli chuckled and Legolas groaned.


“That is NOT what I said. I said my actions were foolish, not that I am a fool! There is a difference.”


Gimli’s smile faded and the serious look returned. This conversation was not over yet, Legolas knew. There was no getting around it. It was time to be completely honest.


“It’s getting worse, Gimli. I couldn’t stop myself from getting lost in the song. The pain was so great, I lost track of time. I told myself I was just caught up in restoring Ithilien, but I was losing myself to the sea. Two days ago, I realized how foolish I had been. Yes, I admit it. I was foolish! I promise I will not cut myself off from you again, Gimli.” Gimli reached out and put a hand on his arm. Legolas looked over at him and he noticed tears in the dwarf’s eyes.


“Legolas,” he began, “you are my best friend. It would pain me greatly to lose you to the sea. This last year, I worried that you were planning to sail and that was why you were distant.” He paused and swallowed hard. “If you need to go, lad, go with my blessing. I won’t see you in pain for my sake.”


Legolas felt the tears filling his own eyes. He blinked them back, touched at this gesture from the dwarf. “Nay, Gimli, I will not sail yet. I vowed to stay until the end of Aragorn’s life and I will fulfill that vow. I do not want to go. Not if I have to leave you here. I simply needed to realize I cannot cut myself off from my friends. I cannot dwell on the song of the sea. Sailing would only be trading one ache for another. No, I fear instead, you will be seeing much more of me, elvellon.”


Gimli looked much relieved. It had cost him, Legolas knew, to make that offer. Exhaustion began to take hold of him as they sat there quietly. Emotionally drained as well as physically, he felt sleep closing in on him. Finally, Gimli spoke.


“Very well, if I must put up with more of you, so be it. But remember this, Legolas, you will not worry me like that again. If I had been able to get away, I would have tracked you down. Do this again, and I’ll move to Ithilien myself! Right into that tree of yours!”


Legolas smiled, “You are always welcome in my tree,” he yawned, “but somehow you’ve never made it there.” He yawned again.


Gimli smiled and patted his arm, “Take some rest, Legolas. We have much to discuss and plan tomorrow. You look tired. I’ll see you in the morning.” He got up and walked back inside. Legolas followed closely behind him.

“Thank you, elvellon.” Legolas spoke up softly. The reply was more gruff yet sincere.


“You’re welcome, elf. Now get some sleep!”


Legolas smiled again as he laid down in his bed. The pain in his heart had eased in speaking to his friend. Now he could get some much needed rest. As his eyes glazed over, one last thought ran through his mind. He was truly blessed with a very good friend.


Celedae – Legolas’s silver grey stallion. Name means Silver Shadow

Elvellon - elf friend

Chapter 3: Breakfast With The King

When Gimli woke the next morning, he felt a burden had been lifted during the night. Then he remembered waking and finding Legolas on the balcony. That conversation had been one of their more difficult ones, yet in that short time, much had changed. The dwarf was still concerned for his friend, but he knew Legolas would not accept pity for his condition. He would have to make sure the elf stayed busy. Perhaps focusing on these new caverns Aragorn had told him about would help Legolas, as well as ease the pain he himself felt for his friend’s suffering.


The newly discovered caverns leading into Mount Mindolluin were sure to bring adventure. He loved the opportunity to explore new areas under the ground. Convincing Legolas to accompany him would not be easy. But Aragorn had said they would both be interested in what was found. After peeking in and finding the elf Prince already up & gone, he dressed quickly and headed towards the king’s rooms. He had been invited to join Aragorn there for breakfast, as Arwen was in Emyn Arnen visiting Eowyn.


The guard, standing outside the kings chambers, greeted him politely and opened the door for him. As he went in, he heard musical laughter coming from the open balcony door. His heart rejoiced to hear Legolas laugh again. It had been too long since he had heard that sound. He was looking forward to the opportunity to banter with his friend again.


Walking as quietly as he could towards the door, Gimli could see through to the balcony beyond. The balcony was large and held a small table with enough room to seat 4 people. Aragorn and Arwen frequently ate breakfast here, rather than in a formal dining room. Today it was set for three, the elf would be joining them.


Stopping just inside the door, Gimli paused to hear what was so humorous. Aragorn’s voice, resonating through the open air, was filled with amusement. He was telling the same story he had told Gimli, when he had first arrived. The dwarf smiled to himself. It was quite a funny story, at Faramir’s expense. He listened as Aragorn finished the tale.

“Faramir just looked at Eowyn with his mouth hanging wide open. I have never seen him look like that before. She simply walked over and closed it for him, kissed him on the cheek and walked away!”


More bright laughter came from the balcony followed by a cheerful elven voice “Come on and join us Gimli, do not linger at the door!”


Gimli walked in grumbling. He would never manage to sneak up on the elf. “You enjoy telling that tale too much, Aragorn,” he said, finally smiling slightly at the two friends standing at the railing. “Especially, since Faramir is not here to defend himself!”


Aragorn smiled. “It is his own fault for letting his wife catch him so off guard and in the midst of a banquet, no less!” he laughed. “Come, breakfast just arrived, let us sit and eat while we catch up!”


The friends quickly sat down & dove into the wonderful smelling food. Gimli helped himself to the eggs and sausage adding bread to his plate as well. He smiled when he noticed the elf take mostly fruit, some cheese and a slice of the fresh bread. In some ways, few though they were, the elf was predictable. Adding some preserves to his own bread, he waited for the others to begin the conversation.


It was not long after the friends, once known as the “Three Hunters”, sat down to eat, that elven curiosity got the better of Legolas.


“What are these caverns you spoke of in your letter, Aragorn? I have not heard of any caverns in Minas Tirith, other than those that serve as the prison.” Legolas took a moment to ask in between bites of food, looking expectantly towards the king.


“They were found not far from the dungeons. Some of the city builders were looking through old storage rooms, planning other uses for them as they are no longer used for storage and are quite large. One of those rooms, it turned out, concealed an entrance to these tunnels & caverns. They seem to go far into the mountain and it looks as if they are natural, not man made. I was hoping for Gimli’s input, as he is obviously more experienced in these matters.” Aragorn looked to Gimli, who smiled and nodded for him to continue as his mouth was full at the moment.


“Some of the caverns have strange carvings along the walls. They are quite interesting, Legolas. I think they would be worth you venturing down there to see. There are other unusual things the builders have spoken of, though I have not had a chance to look much farther than the first couple of rooms. It will be interesting to find what history has been hidden down there for so long. To my knowledge, there is no record of these caverns.” Aragorn finished, turning back to his breakfast.


Legolas sat in thought for a few minutes. Indeed this was interesting news. He was curious to see what had been hidden for so long. But to venture into a cave system! Ai, he hated them! Still, it would not do for the dwarf to have ammunition to use against him. Better to suppress his fears, and shock the dwarf. Legolas turned to Aragorn and began to speak in a tone that showed excitement he did not necessarily feel.


“What an unusual thing to stumble across! I look forward to seeing these things with my own eyes, as this tale has intrigued me greatly.” Turning his attention to Gimli, he added, “How soon do you think we can start, Gimli?” He noticed the look of shock on Gimli’s face and suppressed a grin. He was sure Aragorn could see the amusement in his eyes, but the dwarf was absolutely flustered!


“Since when do you get excited about going underground, elf?” The dwarf finally managed to say. “True I have longed to see these things since Aragorn wrote of them to me, but I did not expect you to so willingly join in!” The dwarf looked gleeful and for a moment Legolas wondered if his enthusiasm would be the death of him. Gimli continued, “I say we start first thing tomorrow and perhaps we should plan to stay there as we explore these findings. What do you think? An underground camping trip?”


With that response, the elf knew Gimli was going to torture him regardless. He couldn’t think which was worse, showing his hesitation and being teased about it, or putting on an air of excitement and being dragged underground for days at a time! Teasing was no longer such a unpleasant option.


“I think not, Master dwarf. While I look forward to seeing these things Aragorn speaks of, I have no desire to spends days at a time underground. Besides, I came to visit the king as well and somehow I do not think Aragorn will be able to spend much time there with us. We should also meet with the builders and get more information to plan our exploring before we head out. I say we start the morning after next and return to the palace for dinner each evening. Would that suit you, my friend.”


The dwarf looked at him smugly before replying. “Fine, Legolas, we will cater to your fear of dark enclosed spaces. I agree we should get more information before heading into those places.” He turned to Aragorn and asked, “Do you think we could meet with the builders today or tomorrow, Aragorn? Then we would be ready to explore the following day.”


Aragorn nodded, “I’m sure that can be arranged.” And much to Legolas’s relief, the conversation turned to other topics as the friends enjoyed the rest of their breakfast. At least, he would have a couple of days before venturing underground. And it would give him time to get even with the dwarf for the reference to dark enclosed spaces.

Chapter 4: Exploring the Darkness Together


Getting Even Makes the Dark More Tolerable

“It was NOT funny, Legolas!” Gimli grumbled, annoyed at the highly amused, irritating elven prince beside him. He would never live this down, never! Somehow he would have to make the elf forget about the morning’s chaos.


Walking faster towards their destination seemed a start. If the elf was out of breath, he wouldn’t be able to laugh. Never mind the elf never seemed to be out of breath.


The two friends were walking, almost jogging, towards the now familiar tunnel leading to the caverns near the prison in the third level. After getting all the information they could from the city planners, including a map of the tunnels and caverns that had been discovered so far, the elf and the dwarf had spent two days exploring the strange place.


Legolas had been fascinated by the carvings, apparently a history of the elves’ first days in Arda. Gimli had been amazed at the workmanship of these carvings as well as the caverns themselves. They were naturally made, but had been enhanced by someone long ago. Today they were going to explore down a tunnel no one had ventured into as of yet.


“It was VERY funny, Gimli. I could not help but laugh! How often does one see a dwarf running around a room screa...”


“LEGOLAS!” the dwarf, now highly irritated, glared at his friend. “If you had not put that thing in my room, I would not have reacted in such a manner!”


“But Gimli, I did not put the creature in your room! Would that I had thought of it, but I did not. It simply came in during the night. You left your balcony door open all night, after all. You should be grateful it was not something that would have made a nest of your beard!.” Legolas was struggling not to laugh again at the mental image of his friend, shrieking and tearing around his room to escape the disgruntled bat that the dwarf had disturbed that morning. He had not known that dwarves could shriek.


“I still think you lured it in! I cannot stand those creatures. They are evil!” The dwarf shuddered thinking about the incident again. His pride had taken a large blow by having Legolas find him in that state. When the elf had opened the door, he had stood there for a moment, taking in the scene, before erupting into fits of laughter, holding his stomach as tears streamed down his fair cheeks. The dwarf had barreled past him into the elf’s room, slamming the door behind him, leaving Legolas to calm himself and the bat and get it back outside where the frightened thing belonged.


“They are not evil, Gimli. The poor creature was more frightened of you than you were of it.”

Gimli stopped mid stride and cast another glare at the elf next to him. If he could shoot daggers out of his eyes, he would have done it at that moment.


“I was NOT afraid of it! I was merely startled. Just because I do not like them, does not mean I am afraid of them, you arrogant elf!”


“Stubborn dwarf! I would have thought since you had so much in common with the bat, you would have gotten along just fine. You are both stunted creatures who live in dark places after all.” Legolas could not help the grin that crossed his face. The dwarf was turning redder by the second. If he did not stop teasing Gimli soon, his friend would not speak to him for a week.


Stubborn! STUNTED! I’ll show you STUNTED, once I cut those saplings you call legs down to size with my ax!” The dwarf was absolutely livid. Legolas laughed all the more, bright eyes sparkling with mirth, shaking his head at his fiery companion. At the moment, Gimli reminded him of a balrog.


“Peace Gimli, I am sorry. I should not tease you so, though you deserve it for all that I have heard about my dislike of caves.” Legolas decided it was time to placate his friend, before he found himself intimately entangled with Gimli’s ax. It seemed to help, the dwarf’s face was returning to red, rather than the crimson it had been a few moments ago. The dwarf turned back towards the direction they were headed and resumed his fast pace.


“May I remind you, Legolas, that you LIVE in a CAVE?” The dwarf would have the last word in this matter.


“Nay, Gimli, I live in a tree. I only stay in a cave when you come to visit.” The elf was enjoying this to no end. He had not laughed like this in over a year. How foolish he had been to deny himself the companionship and bantering of this cantankerous dwarf.


“Fine!” Gimli stopped again, giving the elf a hard look. “You LIVE in a TREE, but you GREW UP in a CAVE!” Legolas winced at this and Gimli harrumphed, confident that this time he had had the last word.


Legolas had to concede, after all, in this case, the dwarf was correct. He dramatically bowed to his friend. “Very well, Gimli. Shall we proceed now?” He turned on his heel and led the way onward. The dwarf didn’t see the sly grin on the elf’s face. He may have conceded, but the images from that morning would be with him forever, and they would provide centuries of laughter.


An hour later, they arrived at the new tunnel branching off to the right. According to the man they had talked to, no one had traveled it yet. They rested for a few moments, then with torches in hand, they continued into the darkness.


Both of them admired the occasional panels in the walls of carved figures. They were all of different creatures that had inhabited Middle Earth at some time. Many were of elves and men. Some were plants and animals. Gimli was disturbed to see no sign of any precious metals or gems of any kind. Living in the Glittering Caves of Aglarond, he was used to these most precious minerals gracing the walls. Their absence made the place seem empty and bare.


They continued down the passage, coming to a large cavern. There were many carved stone furnishings in the cavern, similar to those in the other caverns they had seen. Tables, chairs, strange ledges along the walls, obviously this place had been occupied at some time. The caverns seemed to have once been living areas for an unknown people.


They might never know who had made this place their home long ago. Some of the ledges held small carved figures in the shape of different animals. Decorations, children’s toys, there were many possible uses for the different items they found. Gimli was thrilled to find a small stone ax. It was crudely made, but it was most definitely an ax!


As they made their way through another tunnel, they talked about what they had seen and speculated on the use of each item. Legolas was still in high spirits and for once was thoroughly enjoying himself, despite the underground environment. Gimli was somewhat surprised at Legolas’s lack of inhibitions in the dark places they explored. He came to the conclusion the elf simply had forgotten he was underground, so engrossed he was in their discussions and the interesting objects they found.


Soon they stopped to eat the lunch they had brought with them. They discussed the things they had seen as well as telling each other details from this past year. At one point Legolas stopped mid sentence, cocking his head to the side as if he was listening. It was then Gimli realized his elven companion was very aware that he was underground. He was simply hiding his fears with conversation.


“What do you hear?” Gimli asked, looking at the curious expression on the elf’s face.


“I’m not sure,” Legolas replied. “There was something, but now it is silent. Perhaps a stone rolling somewhere, I am not sure.” The elf did not seem that worried about what he had heard. They finished eating and moved on into the mysterious unknown. Gimli took careful note of which tunnels they took. It would not do to get lost!


After heading down several seemingly boring corridors, they came to a dead end. Deciding they had seen enough for one day, they headed back out towards the surface. Legolas was thankful they would once again be in the fresh air. He had enjoyed exploring but there was only so much of this place he could take at one time.


When they reached the spot where they had eaten lunch, they stopped to rest for a few minutes. Once again Legolas heard that strange sound. Only this time it was louder. He looked at Gimli to see if he had heard it as well and was shocked to see a look of fear on the dwarf’s face.


The dwarf took one look at him and firmly said, “There is going to be a cave in, we have to get of here, now!” Legolas did not doubt Gimli’s instincts in these matters. They both headed back the way they had come as quickly as they could.


When they reached the first cavern off the new tunnel, they could both hear the rocks rumbling. Dust sifted down on them and Legolas felt a fear he had never known before. He was going to be buried alive underground! His breathing increased and he looked to Gimli in a panic.


“Legolas, you must calm down. We will get out of this place, but you must stay calm.” As soon as Gimli said this, the rocks above them began to fall. Gimli ducked under one of the stone tables, pulling Legolas with him. As soon as they were both under the table, the roar became deafening. Legolas watched in horror as large rocks and dust fell all around them. In the confusion, they had both lost their torches and without any warning, the light went out, leaving them in complete darkness.


The elf felt his heart was going to explode out of his chest. He could not breathe. The air was full of dust. The noise was so loud his ears were ringing. Faintly, he heard Gimli trying to reassure him, but he could barely hear him over the din. He reached out and caught hold of one of Gimli’s hands and held on for dear life.


A few moments later, a sharp crack came from directly above them, something hit the elf on the head and even in the darkness he saw a flash of light before his eyes. The last thing he heard was a dwarven cry of pain, followed by oblivion.

Chapter 5: Not a Day in Paradise

Aragorn was not having a good day. It had started out pleasant enough. Breakfast with Legolas and Gimli was always enjoyable. Their bantering often brought a smile and laughter. He had hoped to spend the day with his friends exploring the caverns he had yet to see. But unexpected business had called and since they had parted company, the day had taken a turn for the worse. He had been trapped with several advisors for a couple of hours, then had to deal with the dreaded mound of paperwork on his desk. Trying to slip out to the gardens for a short break had proved futile. Everyone wanted something from him, like this pompous windbag who had stopped him in the halls to ask him some favor for his daughter. So much for sneaking away to enjoy a few minutes to himself.


He loved his people, and he knew his role was to serve them as their king. But he missed the old days. Growing up in Rivendell and being befriended by the Prince of Mirkwood had instilled a love for nature, engaging conversation and adventure. He had enjoyed his life as a ranger, he liked his freedom. None of these were present in his court.

Surely he could think of some excuse to get this man in front of him to be quiet and leave him alone. He sighed.


“King Elessar!” A loud voice drew his attention away. He frowned and turned towards the messenger running towards him. Finally, something to tear him away! He politely excused himself and turned to the young man coming quickly towards him. Once he saw the look on the man’s face, he knew something was terribly wrong.


“My king! There has been a cave in! Some of the new caverns seems to have collapsed, my lord!” The messenger was almost out of breath from running to the palace. He took a deep breath and continued. “It is in the area we have not yet explored, and Lord Legolas and Lord Gimli went there earlier today. They never returned! Those checking the area wanted you informed that the tunnel is completely blocked. We have no idea where they were when it happened!” Once again the guard had to stop for breath and Aragorn took the opportunity to make some inquiries.


“Have they searched the known areas? It is possible that they changed their minds as to where they would explore today. And what of any others, anyone else missing or hurt?” Aragorn was concerned, but he refused to panic or act rashly until the facts were known.


“They are searching all known areas now, my king. Several of the city planners were down there, they were the ones who heard the noise. They say it was terribly loud. So far, no one has been found injured, and all who were known to be in the caverns are accounted for except...”


“Legolas and Gimli” Aragorn finished for him, biting his lower lip in frustration. Of course everyone else was fine.


Leave it to the elf and the dwarf to find themselves trapped underground. He refused to think that they might have been crushed by the falling rocks. After all, Gimli was a dwarf and he had strong instincts about these things. He would have sensed an imminent cave in. This thought comforted the ex-ranger. They would be found. Alive.


“Send for Captain Arnien and have him recall all who have experience in these things. We need to organize a rescue party quickly. I want several teams down there digging out that tunnel and I want them working on it NOW!” The young soldier, who had acted as messenger, turned away and rushed once again to do as his king had bid him.


The day had gone from unpleasant to bad very unexpectedly. He now had a very good reason to escape the palace walls. No longer was that a comforting thought. Legolas and Gimli could be seriously hurt. He turned towards his own quarters to quickly change into suitable attire and to grab his healing bag. If there were injuries, he would be there. He would head up the rescue personally. He changed his fast walk to a run and disappeared down the corridor.


As soon as Gimli heard the crack overhead, he knew the table they were sheltering under had been hit and unable to sustain the impact. It had not been very thick and it shattered. Pieces fell around him and the elf’s grip on his hand relaxed as he felt Legolas start to slump over. Before the dwarf could move to help the elf, something large and heavy landed on his left leg pinning it down. He cried out as pain screamed through the limb. Though the pain was terrible, the dwarf managed not to lose consciousness. Unable to do anything else at the moment, he covered his head with his arms, saying a prayer to Mahal for this to stop.


Perhaps only five or ten minutes had passed since the rock had started to fall, Gimli was unsure. But it soon stopped, leaving the air full of choking dust and all in blackness. Pulling his shirt over his nose and mouth, he took slow calming breaths. Reaching out towards his trapped leg, Gimli evaluated the boulder that rested heavily on top of it. It was fairly big. He tried pushing it off, but it would not budge. He could not get the proper leverage, trapped as he was. He took another breath and held it in frustration. That was when he heard the soft breathing next to him. “Legolas?” The dwarf called to his friend. There was no response. He tried again, “Legolas!” Nothing.


Ignoring the intense pain of what Gimli presumed was a broken leg, he felt about him with his hands. The floor around him was littered with broken rocks and dust. Quite close, the dwarf’s hand came upon long cool fingers. He slid his hand up Legolas’s arm to the elf’s shoulder and up his neck. The elf was lying on his side, so it seemed. Gimli checked for a pulse. It was fast and a little faint, but his friend was alive and breathing. The dwarf brushed his fingers lightly over the elf’s face, checking for injuries. Finding none, he pulled the elf’s tunic up over his nose and mouth as well to cut down on the dust his friend inhaled.


Gimli then began to examine his friend’s head, as best as he could in the dark. He pushed aside the long, silky hair to check the scalp. That his friend was unresponsive unnerved him greatly. He kept feeling for the injury he knew had to be there. Near the back of Legolas’s head, the hair was a sticky mess. Blood was still coming from the wound, but not gushing. Gimli quickly tore a strip of cloth from the bottom of his shirt and pressed it to the wound. There was nothing else the dwarf could do about it, trapped as he was under that boulder. He was thankful he was this close to his friend and able to do this much.


A few minutes later, the bleeding stopped. Gimli proceeded to check the rest of his friend’s body, at least the parts he could reach. There was sure to be bruises and abrasions, but he could find no other serious injuries on Legolas. He found the elf’s hand again and held it between both of his own. He started speaking, even though he did not think Legolas could not hear him.


“Legolas? Now listen to me lad. I told you we would get out of here, and somehow we will. You hold on until help gets here. You hear me? Aragorn will find out about this and send help. We just need to wait for them to get here.”


There was still no response. He was worried about his friend. Unable to see, he had no idea how bad that head injury was. Feeling helpless, the dwarf kept talking to his friend, hoping it would help keep his own mind off the pain in his leg. and the fact that he could not get up. Sitting in the dark with an unconscious friend, likely with a broken leg trapped under a boulder was not his idea of a pleasant afternoon. Until help arrived, it was all he could do. And help would come, he was sure of it.


Sometime later, the dwarf fell asleep, his friend’s hand still grasped in his own.

Chapter 6: Amongst the Rubble

Aragorn was tired. He had been down here near where the men were digging out the tunnel, for hours now. Progress was being made, but so far there was no sign of Legolas or Gimli. They had no idea how far into the blocked cavern the friends were. There was always the possibility that they were sitting unharmed further into the caves, giving each other fits about being trapped. But his senses were screaming that this was not the case. That sixth sense had never proven wrong. He hoped this would be the first time.


Working as quickly as safely possible, the men were scrambling around. Carts had been brought to remove the rock that was being dug out of the tunnel ahead. Having very little experience in these matters, Aragorn was feeling useless at the moment. Looking up, he saw Captain Arnien walking towards him. The man had a grim look on his face.


“My king, you should take some rest. It may be many hours before we find anything. If Lord Legolas or Lord Gimli are injured, they will need your skills. You will be of no help to them if you are exhausted.”


Aragorn knew the captain was right. It was now late in the night. He would not go back to the palace. He did not want to be that far away from news when it came. He nodded at the stern looking man before him, and moved back towards the storage rooms. Finding a cot set up there, he laid down and soon fell into a troubled sleep..


There was a noise and Gimli struggled to open his eyes. He could not understand why he could not see. Then the piercing pain in his leg reminded him he was trapped in the darkness with Legolas, waiting to be rescued. Legolas! Gimli realized he had let go of the elf’s hand while he had been asleep.


“Legolas?” Gimli asked, feeling in the darkness for his friend. The elf had not moved from his previous position. The dwarf gave him a small shake, “Legolas! Wake up. Come my friend you cannot sleep all day!” Or night, the dwarf thought, knowing instinctively that hours had passed.


Still getting no response from his friend, Gimli frowned. This was a fine kettle of fish! After not seeing his friend for a year, they finally get together to end up in this mess! The last few days had seemed like old times. Legolas was no longer so seriously haunted by the sea. Their bantering had risen to new heights. Even Aragorn had joined them in some of the spirited discussions the past couple of evenings.


There it was again, a grating noise. Gimli’s heart rejoiced! He knew that sound. Rock was being moved. Someone was coming for them. It might still be awhile before they made it through, but they were coming and that was enough. He listened to the sound and how it echoed around him. He realized the cavern was still quite open. Perhaps it was not as bad as he had originally thought. He was sure the floor would be covered in the rubble from the ceiling collapsing, but there was still the feel of open air around him.


Trying to ignore the pain shooting, no, screaming in his leg, he reached again for Legolas’s hand and settled back down to wait some more, knowing that soon he could call out and be heard.


“King Elessar? My lord, wake up.” Aragorn struggled back to alertness. Blinking his eyes open, he found himself looking up at Captain Arnien. He immediately sat up, throwing off the last vestiges of sleep.


“What is it? Have you found something?” Aragorn questioned the man before him.


“Yes, my lord. We have broken into a cavern. It may be awhile yet before we can actually get in there. The men digging informed me that as soon as they got a small hole open, they were able to hear Lord Gimli calling out.” The captain stopped speaking when his king jumped up and headed towards the rescuers at a run.


Aragorn’s heart was racing as he was led to where the small opening had been made in the pile of rocks shutting the cavern off from the tunnel. He could hear voices coming from ahead. When he reached the place, the men surrounding it stepped back, allowing the king to speak to his friend.


“Gimli! What happened? Are you alright? Is Legolas with you?” The ex-ranger could not stop the questions from tumbling out of his mouth. He paused for a response. A voice came back faintly through the small opening.


“Aragorn? By Mahal! About time you showed up, lad.” The dwarf’s voice was strained and Aragorn immediately sensed he was in pain. “Legolas is here, but he is unconscious. He got hit on the head pretty hard. I was able to stop the bleeding, but I cannot do much stuck as I am.”


“Stuck?” Aragorn asked. “Are you hurt?”


“Aye.” The answer came back to the man and he cringed, dreading to hear how badly his friends had been injured. “It would seem my leg is trapped under a boulder and I believe it is broken. A few bruises and scrapes. All considered, I’m just happy to be alive at the moment.” There was relief in the dwarf’s voice, and hope.


“And what of Legolas? Anything other than the head injury?” Aragorn wanted to be prepared to treat the two once they could be reached.


“I cannot examine him very well, Aragorn. I can only reach so far. I am concerned, he has not awakened since he was struck. That was hours ago.” The man could hear the fear and concern in the dwarf’s voice.


Realizing he was now hindering the rescuers by being in the way, he quickly offered some encouragement. “Hang on my friend. We will get you out of there and patched up shortly.” Aragorn moved back out of the way, letting the men continue working. It would take some more time, but now there was much cheerfulness among those working. The objects of their search had been found...alive.


A little less than an hour later, the men had made the opening large enough for someone to slip through. Aragorn entered first carrying a torch, his healing pack over his shoulder. Captain Arnien joined him while the others continued with the rock removal.


“Keep speaking, Gimli. Where are you?” Aragorn called out, searching for any sign of his friends in the rock and boulder strewn cavern.


“Over here,” a tired, pained voice called. Aragorn moved towards the sound, but he came to a stop as the light from his torch illuminated two figures not far in front of him.


Gimli was lying on the floor surrounded by broken pieces of stone, a rather large boulder pinning his left leg to the ground. There was blood coming from under the rock and Aragorn feared the limb might be crushed. He could not imagine the amount of pain Gimli was in at the moment. He was thankful Aule had made the dwarves so hardy. Gimli, while in considerable pain, was conscious and coherent.


Moving closer, Aragorn felt his heart stop and his breath caught in his throat. The elf behind Gimli looked like death. Never had he seen Legolas look so pale and grey! His face was bruised, his eyes were shut and there was a lot of blood in his hair. The elf was lying on right side facing Gimli, a large rock lay behind him. Aragorn hoped that was not what had hit his friend’s head. The man moved quickly and knelt next to the elf. Reaching out he checked for a pulse. He resumed breathing when he actually found one. Though it was not strong, it was steady.


“Aragorn?” Gimli asked, obviously fearful now that he could actually see his companion and the state he was in.

“He’s alive.” Aragorn replied, looking up and placing a hand on the dwarf’s shoulder. Hearing footsteps behind him, he turned to Arnien. “Get some of the men in here to remove this boulder and bring the supplies for splinting back with you,” he told the captain.


Arnien turned and moved back to the rapidly growing opening they had entered through. Aragorn watched him a moment. Turning to meet Gimli’s eyes, he offered what he could at the moment.


“Would you like something for the pain.” He was surprised but thankful when the dwarf nodded.


“Only after you’ve seen to Legolas.” The dwarf was quick to add. Aragorn turned back to examine the unconscious elf. What he found displeased him greatly.


Legolas had multiple bruises, some severe, along with several abrasions and a gash on his lower left leg. In fact, all of the significant injuries Aragorn found were on the elf’s left side. There were two cracked ribs, the arm was broken above the elbow. The hip was severely bruised and possibly broken as well. Carefully, easing the elf on his back, the man checked the right side to find only some bruising. It appeared as though Legolas had been hit, possibly by the large rock behind him, after he had fallen on his side.


So far, all of these injuries, while not minor, were not that disabling for an elf. They would heal quickly with proper care. Aragorn adjusted Legolas to look at the head wound.


“How bad is he, Aragorn? Do not try to spare me, I want the truth. I can handle it.” Gimli was anxious for some information.


“Two cracked ribs on the left side. The left arm is broken, possibly the left hip as well.” Aragorn responded as a healer would, detached and calm. His manner seemed to ease the dwarf’s mind somewhat.


The man continued probing the large gash on the back of Legolas’s head. His stomach turned as he realized the extent of the injury.


“Ai, Gimli, this is not good,” Aragorn spoke suddenly, startling the dwarf next to him. He looked up and frowned at his friend, trying to remain calm. His voice broke as he spoke again.


“His skull is fractured, Gimli”

Chapter 7: The Sun Still Rises

Gimli did not think he could breathe. Surely he had heard wrong. He blinked. The look on Aragorn’s face told him he had heard correctly and as it sunk in, the dwarf felt fear rise up in his chest. It felt like his heart had stopped. He forced himself to take a deep breath. He needed to remain calm. He also needed to know exactly what Aragorn had said meant for his friend.


“What does that mean, Aragorn? Is he going” How it hurt to ask that question! But he had to know. The look of uncertainty on the man’s face was not reassuring.


“To be honest, Gimli, I do not know. It depends on the extent of the damage done. This explains why he has not regained consciousness.” The man paused as if he were unsure of his next words. “If he lives, he will remain unconscious for quite a while, I imagine. There is also a chance that permanent damage has been done. I need to get him to the houses of healing as soon as I can.”


In a matter of seconds, the dwarf’s heart had gone from stopping, to beating frantically, which made his leg pound all the more. “What do you mean IF he lives? What kind of permanent damage? Explain, Aragorn,” the dwarf asked fearfully. He felt he was going to be ill. This could not be happening!


“This is a very serious head injury, Gimli. I do not know if he will survive it. Though the fact that he was not killed instantly and still lingers, gives me hope. I cannot say for sure.” Aragorn took a deep breath and continued. “If he survives, there could be permanent injury to his brain. He may never wake up or if he does, he may not be the same Legolas we know. There is no way to say for sure, only time will answer these things.”


The dwarf assumed Aragorn’s detached healer side was back in control. How else could he say all of that so calmly? The pain in his leg was becoming unbearable as his heart raced. Aragorn looked at him for a moment then pulled out a couple of leaves from his pack. Gimli listened as he was told to chew them slowly. Knowing these would help alleviate his pain, he took them. They tasted terrible.


Captain Arnein returned with several men. They discussed how to remove the boulder without causing his leg further damage. After quickly splinting Legolas’s broken arm to keep it from jostling, Aragorn called one man over and instructed him to bring a litter to carry Legolas out. They had been prepared for this possibility, so it did not take long before the man returned. They carefully lifted the elven prince and slid the litter under him. Two men started to carry it out, being very careful not to jar the injured elf. Aragorn turned to follow, then stopped and looked back at the dwarf.


“Go with him, Aragorn. He needs you far more than I do. Another healer can care for this leg of mine. Only you should tend to Legolas. I trust you, lad. If anyone can pull him through this, you can. Just make sure you put him in a room that has two beds. Prince or not, he is going to have a dwarf for company when he wakes up.” Gimli sounded more confident then he felt. He did not want to be separated from Legolas. What if the elf died, and he was not there to say goodbye...No, he would not think about that. Aragorn could do nothing for Legolas here! And he personally would not be going anywhere just yet. “Take care of him, I will be there as soon as I can.”


Aragorn gave him a nod, turned and followed the litter out of the room, back through the now large opening in the fallen rock. Gimli watched until he was out of sight. He yawned, feeling very tired all of a sudden. Tired? Oh no! He had taken herbs from Aragorn without thinking. He should have known the man would give him something to knock him out.


Captain Arnien and the other men in the cavern worked for several minutes to arrange a couple of boards for leverage under the boulder they needed to move. While placing them, he was very relieved to find the boulder was resting not only on Lord Gimli’s leg, but there were a couple of rocks under it as well, keeping the dwarf’s leg from being crushed.


They prepared to move the boulder and Arnien looked down at the dwarf to tell him they were ready. He smiled when he realized what had happened. The dwarf was deep in a drugged sleep. That would make this process so much easier. Arnien appreciated the king’s foresight.


Once the boulder had been removed. He prepared to splint the leg. The bone was not protruding as he had feared, rather there was a deep cut from another rock that had caused the bleeding he had seen. Carefully he wrapped bandages around the limb and boards. Then with the same care they had used on Lord Legolas, they lifted the dwarf onto a litter and proceeded out of the cavern.


Oblivious to the world around him, the dwarf was on his way to joining his best friend in the houses of healing. As they lifted him into a waiting wagon, the sun peeked over the horizon.


Arwen was a little at a loss. She could not find her husband anywhere. Nor could she find anyone who knew where he was. When she had returned last night with her guards, she had expected a warm reunion with him, as she had been away for two weeks. He was not there to meet her and the guard who had taken her horse for her had just come on duty. He did not know where the king was at the moment. She headed to their rooms, only to find them empty. The king’s office was also unoccupied, as well as the private gardens. Knowing Gimli was visiting, she had given up on finding her missing husband; she had gone to bed alone.


When she had awakened at dawn, he was still not there. Something was not right. She had been expected back last night, yet her husband was no where to be found in the palace. She continued to search for anyone who had information on the missing king. Unfortunately, most were still asleep at this hour. She went back to their rooms to wait. If something was wrong, someone would come to tell her, she hoped.


A short while later she ventured out to look again. She did not have to look far. Coming down the hall towards her was one of the king’s captains, Arnien. He stopped before her and she felt her stomach drop.


“Where is the king? What has happened?” Arwen was sure something had happened to him, surely nothing else would cause such a grim expression on this man’s face.


“Fear not, my lady. The king is hale. He is in the houses of healing with Lord Legolas and Lord Gimli. Both were severely injured when the ceiling collapsed in one of the new caverns yesterday afternoon. We only managed to get them out about an hour ago. The king is working on Lord Legolas, he fears the prince may not survive. He took a severe blow to the head, my lady.” Arnien explained. “I only recently remembered you were returning and knew you would want to know.”


Arwen felt horrified. Legolas on the brink of death? She would go to him. They had been friends since she had met the prince at his coming of age so long ago. She would make herself useful. She had been trained in healing as well as her husband. She was the daughter of Elrond, after all.


“Thank you for coming for me, Arnien. I will join the king. He will need my help.” She turned and made her way out of the palace. As she hurried to the houses of healing, she was unaware the captain had followed her.


Aragorn had not been in the houses of healing long. They had taken the trip very slowly to avoid jarring the injured elf. In the brighter light he took a second look at the terrible head injury. He looked up as the door opened and Arwen walked in. Aragorn could not remember the last time he had been so glad to see his wife’s face. He needed someone as skilled as the daughter of Elrond to assist him. Her face turned pale as she took in their friend’s injuries. She looked up and determination was in her face. Without a word, they set to work.


Another healer entered the room with a bowl of warm water and clean cloths. Seeing the queen working with the king, he put them on a table and stood back. He had seen these two work before. If he was needed, they would ask. Lord Legolas was in the best of hands.


Aragorn found it took all the skill both he and Arwen had to keep the elf with them. At one point, he feared it was a hopeless battle. But Legolas was strong; he was not going to go out without a fight. Finally, there was nothing else they could do, other than to stitch up the gash and bind the elf’s head. He was concerned about the internal bleeding, but he had done all he could do about that.


Throughout the procedures, he took care not to cut more of the elf’s hair than was necessary. Only enough so that he could see what he was doing. The elf was obsessive when it came to his hair. Thankfully, all that had needed to be cut would be covered and hardly noticeable. He did not want to be on the receiving end of Legolas’s vanity! Then he realized just where his thoughts had taken him and he smiled.


Once the gash had been stitched shut, he cleaned the blood from the long, silky blond hair, then carefully wrapped bandages firmly around the elf’s head, to hold the bones in place.


While Aragorn had finished with Legolas’s head, Arwen had removed the elf’s filthy clothing and washed the dirt from the battered body, taking care to carefully cleanse the numerous abrasions and scratches. Once that had been done, she had proceeded to stitch the gash in Legolas’s leg. Lastly, she had probed the terribly bruised and swollen hip to determine if it was broken.


When Aragorn finished wrapping Legolas’s head, he looked to Arwen to get her prognosis on the hip injury. It was the first time either of them had spoken in over an hour.


“I do not believe it is fractured,” she spoke softly. “Perhaps, cracked, but that will heal on its own with rest. I do not believe he will be going anywhere, anytime soon.” Aragorn nodded. He was having trouble finding his voice. He cleared his throat.


“No, I do not expect him to awaken for some time. He still has a broken arm and two broken ribs that need tending.” He finally managed to give a small smile to his wife.


“Ever the healer, my husband. Let us set them, then you can eat something and rest. You look dead on your feet.” She was worried about him, he could tell. And she was right, he was exhausted, in more ways than one. But there was still much to do before he could rest.


Together they set the prince’s arm and wrapped the cracked ribs. Lastly they dressed him in a long loose shirt and covered him lightly. They had done all they could do. Only time and Legolas’s elven healing abilities could do any more now.


It had taken most of the day, without stopping for food or rest, to tend to the Prince of Eryn Lasgalen. Aragorn finally took his wife in his arms and she held him as the tension started to drain away. For now, Legolas was alive and stable.


“I need to check on Gimli.” Aragorn told his wife after releasing her. For now, the dwarf was in another room having his injuries tended. They would move Gimli into this room, as the dwarf had requested, as soon as it was possible to do so. “I trust the other healers, but I will not rest well until I have see with my own eyes that his leg is set properly. We have heard nothing, and I fear his leg was crushed under that boulder.” His eyes pleaded with Arwen to understand.


She nodded. “I will stay with Legolas until you are finished. He should not be left alone.”

Aragorn agreed. He would find a healer to stay with Legolas after he had checked on Gimli. He walked quietly out the door.


Only the soft sound of elven breathing remained as the door clicked shut. And behind the silent, still figure, the sun shone brightly through the window.

Chapter 8: In Fear of the Silence

The healers could take it no longer. This situation had to change. It was disrupting the houses of healing. It had been going on for a little over a week. They petitioned their king to rectify the situation. Surely it had been long enough.

Aragorn sighed. He would prefer to keep the dwarf bedridden for a little longer, but no one could take any more. There were not many things more irritating than a bored dwarf confined in a bed. Especially since that bed was right next to Legolas’s bed.


Gimli had taken to questioning everything anyone did concerning the elf. ‘They were not gentle enough. They did not feed him enough. The sheets were not straight enough’ It went on and on. The dwarf had appointed himself as Legolas’s guardian, and he was making everyone crazy. The healers were right. It was time to get him up and on his feet.


Aragorn had been shocked to find Gimli’s leg was not crushed, only broken. Both bones in the lower leg. The rocks under that boulder had saved the dwarf the possibility of losing a limb. It had not been difficult to set the bones, and the gash from the rock had been easily stitched. The dwarf was on the mend.


The king provided Gimli with a set of crutches made specifically for him and his shorter stature. But he also gave strict instructions that he was only to move around for a short time in the houses of healing or the garden behind it. He was confident Gimli would not leave Legolas’s side for any length of time.


He was mistaken.


Where was he? The elf never left him alone this long. Something had happened. He could tell. Celedae stomped a hoof and swished his magnificent silver tail. He was not happy.


Someone came daily to bring him food and water, cleaned his stall and groomed him. But the elf did not come. He did not trust these strangers, they never spoke to him. But he tolerated them. Somehow he knew this is what his master would have him do. The horse missed his elf friend and the steady stream of words that accompanied him. The silence was upsetting for the grey stallion. He was fearful for his master.


A strange sound caught the horse’s attention. His delicate ears pricked forward towards the door of the stall and the aisle beyond it.


Thump thud...Thump thud...Thump thud...


Was one of the other horses lame? It would have to be severely lame to limp like that. No, wait. Not enough feet.

Thump thud...Thump thud...Thump thud...


Celedae could take it no longer, he reached his head over the stall door and looked down the aisle. The horse was stunned by what he saw. He stood frozen in place, watching the strange, yet somewhat familiar thing come closer.


Thump hop...thump hop...thump hop...


Gimli maneuvered carefully on the crutches Aragorn had ordered made for him. Navigating the houses of healing or the wide, smooth garden paths was one thing. A stable aisle with buckets, straw from bedding, hay and other debris was another thing entirely.


It had been ten days since that cavern had fallen on them. Ten days of pain. Ten days of boredom. Ten days of uncertainty. Ten days of silence...


Legolas was still unconscious.


As he thumped and hopped and thudded down the stable aisle, he pondered the elf’s condition. There had been no change. None. Aragorn came to see Legolas twice a day to check on the elf’s condition. Sometimes Arwen would come and sit and talk to Gimli and sometimes even to Legolas as she held his hand. She said it would be good for Legolas to hear familiar voices.


Gimli could not bring himself to speak to his friend yet.


The prince’s basic needs were being seen to by several of the healers. All were thankful when Legolas proved to swallow reflexively. They had been able to get water and broth into him. The healers also made sure Legolas was bathed and the sheets changed daily, being very careful of the many injuries that were slowly healing.


Slowly because there were so many of them, and the head injury was so serious. At least, that was what Arwen had tried to assure him. In the past when Legolas had sustained an injury, which was not a frequent occurrence, the dwarf was always surprised at how quickly the elf healed. He found it took himself more than twice as long as Legolas did, to heal the same type of injury. And dwarves healed faster than humans.


Thump hop...thump hop...thump hop...Neigh.


Gimli looked up into the eyes of Celedae. The beautiful silver stallion looked down on him in surprise. Gimli could almost see the horse reasoning why he had come. Of course, he told himself, as he had told his friend many times, that, that was crazy. Horses do not reason like people did.


Then why was he here?


For Legolas.


Legolas would never abandon his friends, be they dwarf, human, hobbit or horse. And if Legolas was awake, he would ask someone to check on the horse and reassure him. Utter foolishness, he knew, yet here he was. And deep down he knew he was about to make a fool of himself.


It was not that he disliked horses. He had not been around them much before the War. They were just so high off the ground. Dwarves preferred to travel on the their own feet. Legolas had changed that. Gimli could now ride a pony of his own and frequently did so. When traveling with his friend, however, the dwarf still rode behind the elf.


Moroch, was the small, dark-brown horse that had been gifted to him by Eomer. Legolas had been surprised when Gimli had given the horse an elvish name, simple though it was. Moroch was in one of the first stalls in the stable. Gimli had stopped to visit him briefly on his way inside.


Now he was paying a call on Celedae. It was the right thing to do. The dwarf balanced carefully, and reached a hand up to the horse and rubbed his nose. The stallion was eyeing him curiously. Gimli figured the horse was wondering why he had come...


Blast it all! He was doing it again!


Finding it difficult and tiring to continue balancing on one leg, Gimli saw a chair across the aisle. He hooked it with a crutch, ever the resourceful dwarf, and pulled it to the front of the stall. Now he could stay awhile.


Gimli sat down and instantly there was a head in his lap. He grinned. With the low doorway, the stallion could reach over quite easily. The dwarf rubbed the horse’s head and sighed. He was rewarded by the horse dropping his head lower so Gimli’s fingers could scratch behind his ears.


Gimli had not spoken of his fears for Legolas to anyone, not even Aragorn. He had harassed those caring for Legolas and put up a good show of being in good spirits. But concerning the fears deep inside, he had remained silent. Every day the elf remained unconscious, the fears grew stronger, building in his heart, causing it to ache. The silence was torture.


He looked at the grey head he was rubbing. Even if the beast did not understand a single word, he could still listen. He could speak of his fears without having to worry about anyone saying anything in return.


The dwarf made sure no one was around before he began to speak. Hesitant at first, he soon gained confidence. He talked to the horse about the events of the past ten days. He also shared his fears. He spoke for a long time, petting the horse all the while.


As the gruff voice droned on, Celedae sighed. The silence had been broken.


Moroch­- Gimli’s dark brown pony, a gift from Eomer. Name is elvish for dark horse

Chapter 9: Musing Over Messages and Dwarves

Ten days. Astonishing how little can happen in that amount of time. And how much.


The day after Legolas and Gimli had been rescued, Aragorn had sent out messages to those he knew would want to know of Legolas’s condition. One had gone to Tathar in Asca Nen. Another to Faramir and Eowyn in Emyn Arnen. He had even dispatched one to Rohan for King Eomer.


Then there was the one he had dreaded to write, the one he knew would invoke the most consternation. He knew the letter he sent to King Thranduil would not only cause great concern, but in all likelihood, anger. Legolas’s father had never approved of the prince’s friendships with mortals and never hesitated to let anyone know it. This accident had happened in Minas Tirith. It was possible the king of Eryn Lasgalen would make a point of blaming Gondor’s king.


The messenger the king sent to Ithilien had returned several days ago. He had brought responses to the news. Tathar expressed his concern for Legolas. But ever the faithful second in command, he suppressed his desire to come and be with his friend. Duty kept him in Asca Nen, serving in his lord’s stead. Tathar did inquire as to whether Thranduil had been apprised of the situation. He also requested to be notified immediately if there were any changes in the prince’s condition.


Faramir had informed that he and Eowyn would be traveling to Minas Tirith as soon as they were able. Their second born and youngest child, three year old Kaila, was ill. As soon as the little girl improved enough to leave her with her nursemaid, they would depart.


A reply from Eomer came just yesterday. He expressed his concern for Legolas and asked if there was anything he could do to help, including coming to Gondor, if needed. He wanted to be kept abreast of the elf’s recovery. Aragorn had noted that Eomer did not allow for anything other than Legolas’s return to complete health. He hoped the king of Rohan was right.


A reply was not expected from King Thranduil. More than likely, the king would come himself or send another member of the royal family to check on the injured prince. Either way, it would not necessarily be pleasant, though Aragorn would prefer Legolas’s sister or even one of his brothers, over his father.


The ex-ranger still cringed at the thought of his last encounter with the royal family of Eryn Lasgalen. Legolas had informed the man that his father and siblings had finally accepted his choice of where he lived and who he befriended. But the king of Gondor was skeptical. The stern and unforgiving elven king wished for his youngest to either reside in the Greenwood and act the part of its prince; or to follow the longing in his heart and sail into the west. Even if Thranduil had accepted Legolas’s life, he would never understand it.


Aragorn sighed. He rubbed his eyes and stretched. He had been sitting at his desk for too long. Perhaps a break was in order. He supposed he could head down to the houses of healing, which was in the sixth level and not far. He could use the excuse that he was checking on Legolas. But he seriously doubted there had been any change in his friend. Legolas had shown no sign of awakening. He had not even stirred.


If only the same could be said for Gimli. When Aragorn had gone midday to eat with the dwarf, something he had done since the accident, he had found Gimli gone. No one had seen the dwarf in some time or even knew where he was. Most were grateful for the dwarf’s absence. It had been a peaceful morning.


Gimli was not in the garden or the houses of healing. Aragorn came to the conclusion that he had expected too much, thinking Gimli would do as he was told. He had provided a way for the dwarf to get around and the dwarf had used it to disappear.


An annoyed king had come across the dwarf on his way back to the palace. Apparently Gimli had gone to the stable to check on his pony. This had humored Aragorn and he could not pass up this opportunity.


“It would seem Master dwarf that Legolas is rubbing off on you. I’m sure he will be pleased to know that you have taken to visiting your pony.” Aragorn teased Gimli.


“Confound it all, Aragorn! That pony is a valuable one, a horse of Rohan, no less! It is my responsibility to see that he is being cared for properly. I did not go to visit!” Gimli had replied quite gruffly.


Sure he didn’t. The king had smiled mentally. He had then sent Gimli back to the houses of healing with orders to rest. The dwarf had gone without argument, saying he wanted to see Legolas anyhow.


That had been hours ago. It was most certainly time to take a break from the trade agreements he had been reading. No one would berate him for it. All in the palace knew just how much a certain elf meant to their king. It was a friendship forged years ago, when an elven prince from Mirkwood had visited Imladris, and met the young adopted son of Elrond. A child the elf lord had named Estel.

He would check on Legolas, change or not, he decided. He felt a need to see his friend now. As the king stood and walked to the door, memories of days long gone flooded his mind. Memories of a patient archery teacher; a mischievous elf who helped him pull pranks on his brothers; a friend who would not leave his side, even facing the black gates of Mordor; a brother who denied the longing for the sea, for a king of men; Legolas who stayed ‘for the love of the lord of the white tree’.


Aragorn stopped at the door and wiped away the tears that had fallen. He missed Legolas more than he had realized. His duties had kept his mind off the ache in his chest and the worry he felt for his friend. He took a deep breath, and walked out of the door, shutting it firmly behind him.


Gimli was astounded. Never would he have thought a talk with a horse...NO! a talk TO a horse, would benefit him. He sighed. Aragorn had been right. His friendship with Legolas had influenced him greatly. He wondered if he had influenced the elf as well. He must have; the how escaped him.


When he returned to Legolas’s side, he realized that though he had been next to his friend the last ten days, he had kept himself distant due to his fears. Fears of losing his best friend. Talking about them, even to a horse, had eased the ache they caused and now he was ready to help his friend recover. No longer would he simply watch others do what he should be doing.


Gimli sat in the chair beside the bed. He looked long and hard at Legolas, taking in the fading bruises on his face, the bandages around his head and left arm. He had never seen the elf this pale before. Or so still. He took a deep breath.

“Legolas?” The dwarf watched for any signs his friend could hear him. “Legolas, it’s me. I just wanted you to know I am here.”


What does one say to an unconscious person? He guessed he could start with what had been happening around them the past few days.


“Well, elf, Aragorn finally allowed me up and about. On crutches though. Seems I broke my leg. Doesn’t slow me down at all. You know how we dwarves are hardy folk.”


Nothing. No change. No flutter of eyelashes. No tilting of the head. Not a finger stirred. Only the steady rise and fall of the elf’s breathing showed any signs of life. And Gimli was afraid. No longer only for his friend, but also for himself. What if the elf never woke again? What would he do? How would he go on?


He had avoided these thoughts. But no longer would they stay buried. It seemed the dwarf had more he needed to say, and here was another silent listener. He reached out and picked up Legolas’s hand and started speaking again.

He told Legolas about his fears...all of them. And after a while he simply sat and held his friend’s hand. Before long, the dwarf nodded off and began to snore softly. If only he had stayed awake a few moments longer.


Very softly, almost too faint to be noticed, long slender fingers squeezed the rough callused fingers of the dwarf.


Kaila –This is supposedly a rohirric name meaning fiery. I thought it an appropriate name for a daughter of Eowyn.

‘for the love of the lord of the white tree’

- Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkein (oh, come on, I had to use it.)

 Chapter 10: A Plea for the Quiet and Still

Another week passed.


Every day, for hours on end, Gimli could be found sitting next to Legolas. Often, he sat there, holding the elf’s hand, just watching his friend quietly. More often, he could be found talking to the elf, sometimes quite animatedly.


Twice, when Gimli was talking, he thought he saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye. But quickly focusing upon the elf, there was nothing. Legolas was just as still as he had been since that fateful day. He reckoned he so wanted to see Legolas move, that he had begun seeing things.


So it was, for all the time Gimli spent with Legolas, sitting and talking to him, the dwarf saw no sign of his friend waking. And the days crawled onward.


Aragorn greeted Faramir warmly as they met in the great hall. Faramir and Eowyn had arrived as soon as they could, though not as soon as they had hoped. Their son, Boromir, had come down with the same illness his sister had. Thus their journey had been delayed for many days.


After Eowyn excused herself, the men remained standing in the hall discussing all that had happened.


“I sent a missive off to Thranduil, to inform him of his son’s condition, the same time I sent the message to you. I expect we will see a member of his family showing up before long. I only hope Legolas has awakened by then.” Aragorn’s voice trailed off. It was filled with concern and there was a trace of doubt on the man’s face.


Faramir could hear the unspoken fears in the king’s voice. The steward was concerned. The king had enough to deal with without adding the arrival of a royal entourage from Eryn Lasgalen. Faramir knew of Aragorn’s dislike of Legolas’s family. From what he had heard, that dislike was well founded.


Both men were deep in thought for a few minutes. Faramir could see that having one of his closest friends in a near death accident, was taking its toll on the king. Legolas had lingered in a coma now for twenty days.


“How is Gimli handling this, Aragorn? Is he well? You mentioned in your letter that he had been injured, but you did not say how badly.” Faramir began to probe for more information.


“He’s holding up well. Gimli’s only serious injury was a broken leg, but he has been up and about on crutches for over a week now.” Aragorn smiled slightly.


“The dwarf moved into Legolas’s room as soon as he was patched up. Almost drove the healing staff crazy! Once I let him up on crutches, he stopped harassing everyone. He spends a lot of his time with Legolas, though he does get out and move around the garden or goes to check up on his pony.”


Aragorn looked at his friend. “Come, let us go and see them. I will tell you all on the way.”


Faramir nodded and they headed out of the hall. The steward was worried about his king. There were dark circles under the man’s eyes and he looked strained. As they walked towards the houses of healing, the steward hoped they would soon have a reason to rejoice. Maybe soon all would be well again. Maybe soon his king would once again look like himself.


Ten days.


Ten days had passed since he had started talking to his friend. Fears had been shared but the worry remained. The longer the elf remained unconscious, the more Gimli worried. Aragorn had said there was a chance their friend might never wake up.


Gimli frowned. He was sitting next to Legolas quietly, lost in his thoughts. When Aragorn had come to eat with him around midday, Gimli had noticed he was not looking his best. The man had not been sleeping well, so worried was he. And if Aragorn was worried, there was good reason. Legolas needed to show some sign of awakening soon, or hope would start to wane.


It was now drawing on evening, and Gimli had not left the elf’s side since the midday meal. His leg was healing, he could feel it. The pain had ceased and Aragorn had mentioned that he would need to start putting weight on it, while still using the crutches for support.


Gimli knew that soon he would not need the crutches at all. He would be able to ride Moroch again. He would physically be able to return to Aglarond. Not that he would.


He had sent word to his kin, with the king’s missive to Eomer. The dwarves of the Glittering Caves would be fine without him. He had often taken extended leaves to visit Legolas and travel with the elf. His concern was not for his home or returning there.


“Come now, lad. Just a sign that you are still here. That’s all I ask.” Gimli pleaded with his friend. “You can sleep all you want, just give me a sign that you can hear me.”


Gimli sighed. He did not expect anything. The elf had sustained serious injuries. Even if the head injury had not been so severe, Legolas would have needed to be in a healing sleep for a few days.


But not twenty days!


All bruising had completely faded from the elf’s body. The wound in his leg had healed to a barely noticeable scar and the swollen hip had returned to normal. Aragorn had removed the bandages from Legolas’s arm and from around the cracked ribs yesterday. The bones were now healed sufficiently; the bandages were no longer necessary.


Even the bandages on Legolas’s head had been removed to check the injuries underneath. But Aragorn had replaced them to be safe. The gash on the elf’s head had healed, but there was a chance the bones in his skull had not knit themselves together completely yet. The king was taking no chances.


Gimli squeezed the long fingers he was holding. Again he wished for a sign. Just a small reassurance that all would be well. A reason to hold on to hope as he held the elf’s hand.


Voices drifted in from the open doorway. The dwarf looked up as the king and steward of Gondor walked in the room. Gimli took note that both wore frowns. Faramir especially looked shocked at the sight of the very still, very pale elf lying quietly on the bed. The dwarf understood completely. Never had they seen Legolas look in such a manner before.


The Lord of Ithilien was always full of life. Strong and graceful, he sported a smile for his friends and an intense elven glare for those who dared oppose him. He was known to sing softly as he went about whatever he was doing; he greeted life joyously. Legolas always seemed the epitome of life.


Now he looked almost dead. Gimli wondered how the steward would have handled seeing him twenty days ago.

“He looks terrible! I never thought an elf could look like...” Faramir could not bring himself to say it, so Gimli did.


“Like death.”


The dwarf had accepted this and had moved past it. The elf was not dead, therefore it did not matter what he looked like.


“Actually, he looks much better than he did, Faramir. When we first found him, I feared he was dead. The improvement is encouraging. Most of his injuries have healed. It is only the head injury that concerns me now. It is not a very common thing for an elf to remain unconscious for this length of time.” Aragorn’s healer side jumped into the conversation.

Gimli’s heart constricted at this news and he frowned. Yes, the elf was healing. But he was not waking. As Aragorn had said, an elf should have wakened long ago.


“Perhaps, he shall wake soon then, now that his injuries have healed.” Faramir sounded hopeful.


“Perhaps,” came the king’s reply.


“And what of you, Gimli? It is good to see you again! Aragorn said you walk on crutches as well as you do without them.” The steward switched to a lighter tone, hoping to lift the spirits in the room. It worked and the dwarf gave a small smile.


“Aye, the leg is healing fine. Soon be off those sticks. I’ve been grateful for them, but one tires of them after a time.” The dwarf was truly thankful he had not been confined to bed for the duration of his healing.


He looked down at the quiet elf. Legolas would have teased him mercilessly about the crutches. Ai! How he missed his friend!


“Come Gimli, perhaps you’ll join us for dinner in the palace tonight? It will soon be time.” Aragorn spoke and Faramir nodded.


“Yes, come Gimli. There is much I would like to discuss with you.” Faramir added.


The dwarf agreed. “I’ll catch up to you. I want to stay a few more minutes.” The men understood and left the room quietly.


“Well, elf, it seems I am required elsewhere for a time. I will return after dinner. Perhaps then you’ll cease your stubbornness and prove to me the strength of the elves.” He smiled and added, “A curse on elves and their stiff necks!”


He almost fell out of his chair when Legolas smiled ever so faintly. Then he noticed the slight pressure applied to his fingers as well.


Aragorn and Faramir had not gone far when a loud shout came from the room behind them. They rushed back to find Gimli holding the elf’s hand tightly, tears in his eyes.


“He smiled! He smiled and squeezed my hand!”


Dinner was held in the elf’s room that night.

Chapter 11: An Oath Sworn in the Wind

Thranduil was angry. Angry and very upset. His youngest son had been grievously hurt, perhaps to the point of death! He narrowed his eyes and frowned. He was sure it was all the fault of those mortals Legolas had befriended.

He sat up straighter on his white stallion, emerald green eyes flashing. He looked straight ahead. Long golden hair fell over the shoulders of his forest green riding tunic. A long sword hung from his hip.


He was every inch a king.


The King of Eryn Lasgalen presented an air of calm, riding tall and proud. But his daughter, riding her chestnut mare beside him, knew him well enough to know it was a false sense of calm. One look into those green eyes, and one could see the swirling emotions of an angry king. Anger that covered over the fear he did not want to admit he felt for his son.


Anariel sighed. Her father had always been proud and stubborn. But this facade, this hiding of his true self, had not always existed. Now, he did not show his emotions very well, other than anger. Her father had changed the day her mother had died. It was so long ago. Legolas had only been thirty-five, still very much a youth, years from reaching his majority. Thranduil had never told them how their mother had died.


The king had stepped forward that day; the father had retreated. Seldom was it that one of Thranduil’s children caught a glimpse of the father they had once called ‘Ada’. He was now simply, ‘my lord’ or ‘my king’.


To all but Legolas. Legolas had never stopped calling the king ‘Ada’. At least in private. In public, the young prince used the formal titles, along with his siblings and the rest of the court. And Thranduil had never corrected his youngest, as he had the rest of his children.


Legolas held a special place in the king’s heart. He was the last child Laerwen had given to her husband. So young and still full of innocence. So like the beautiful lady, with her piercing, bright grey eyes, who had borne him,. A Greenleaf from a beloved Summer.


Anariel frowned and tucked a strand of rich brown hair behind a pointed ear. She had never resented their father’s favoritism. She herself favored Legolas, and as his only sister, had filled much of the void after their mother’s death.


They had received the news of Legolas’s injuries three days ago. Anariel had prayed fervently to the Valar on behalf of her little brother, hoping he would recover. She had insisted she be allowed to make the journey with the king to Gondor. They had left at dawn the next day: herself, the king and the king’s guards.


The last two days had been difficult. The worries had pounded painfully in her head and heart. It was possible Legolas had passed to the halls of waiting. They might not have an opportunity to see him again in this world. The time it took to travel might have cost them greatly.


It would be at least another eight days before they arrived in Minas Tirith. She looked at her father and king once again. Eight days for him to rise further into a rage, or maybe, just maybe, truly calm down.


My lord,” Anariel took a chance. Someone had to reach out to him. She was one of the few that had a chance to reach him. “he will be alright. Legolas is strong. I am sure he will be mostly recovered by the time we arrive.”


The king sighed, his shoulders slumped ever so slightly. He turned his head and for a brief moment, Anariel saw her Ada. The mask slipped back into place and anger spilled from his lips. “If he had not been with those mortals! If he had been where he belonged, this would never have..”


Ada! You promised Legolas you would not do this anymore!”


It slipped out of her mouth before she could stop it. Tears filled her eyes and she turned her head to face forward once again. She could not stop the drops of moisture from leaving wet trails down her cheeks. She waited for the stern reprimand.


How she wished to have her ‘Ada’ back again, just for a short time, what she would give for that. To see compassion and love in his face instead of the stern, angry king. Her heart ached for all the grief that had plagued her family. They could NOT lose Legolas, too. It would destroy them.


Thranduil looked at his daughter. It had been a long time since one of his children had dared speak to him in such a manner. In fact, it was usually Legolas. He frowned.


The king watched the tears fall down his daughter’s cheeks and fall into her horse’s red mane. He closed his eyes for a moment and berated himself. The sight of his daughter’s tears brought much regret. How many times had he regretted being the king, rather than the father? He opened his eyes and looking down, took in his appearance.

Yes, he was every inch a king.


But he was also a father. Something he had pushed aside during the dark days, when the wood had become Mirkwood. He had had to become the king so often, many believed he had forgotten how to be a father.


He hated the darkness and what it had done to his family. He missed Laerwen. The grief he had felt at her loss had almost killed him. He had not even been able to speak to his children of finding their mother’s broken body, of seeing the damage the Wargs had caused.


The evil creatures had begun to infest the forest shortly after Sauron came to Dol Guldur. After his wife’s death, only the safety of his children and his people had kept him going. And he had become the feared and powerful elven king. Unleashing his anger on all that opposed him.


Now once again, they were having to face the possibility of losing one they loved deeply. It was not something he felt he could face. He had already lost his wife to the darkness as he had a son in the last alliance. He could not bear to lose another of his family.


He looked again at his daughter and the truth struck him harder than a sword blow. He had already lost his family. He had pushed them aside to become the king. Perhaps it was already too late for Legolas, the last Greenleaf of a beautiful Summer.


But next to him rode his piece ‘of the sun’, another reminder of Summer.


A warm hand covered her own. Anariel looked up into sorrowful eyes. Eyes filled with the same grief that filled her own. Eyes filled with tears?


Forgive me, my daughter” A broken voice spoke softly.


Anariel could hardly believe her eyes and ears. Tears continued to stream down her cheeks as she looked at the elf beside her.


Her father.


Her Ada.


On the road to Gondor, to see a grievously injured prince, a king retreated; a father stepped forward. And another oath was sworn into the wind.


Never again”


Laerwen – the deceased wife of Thranduil and the mother of Legolas. Her name means ‘summer’.

Anariel – Daughter of Thranduil and Laerwen. Older sister to Legolas. Her name means ‘of the sun’ in honor of her mother.

A/N – An elf reaches their majority at the age of fifty. At thirty-five, Legolas was the equivalent of a 14 year old human. Also, Tolkein did not tell us how old Legolas is. I am putting him at a little under 1900. His mother was killed a few years after Sauron came to Dol Guldur in 1150 T.A.

INTERLUDE: See Poetry, Interlude I



A/N –Use of Elvish in this story will be as follows. If current POV understands & speaks Sindarin, then it will be in English in italics. If the current POV does not or only knows very little (Gimli is one) then it will appear as it sounds.

Translations are at bottom of page because if the character POV cannot understand it, well, you don’t need to either. Translation provided as a courtesy! smile

Chapter 12: Le Iston?

It had been a beautiful day. Evening was swiftly approaching now. The sun was soon to set and the day was swiftly coming to an end. Another day without Legolas waking. It had been too long. Gimli sighed.


It had been thirty days since the cave had fallen in on them and ten days since Legolas had smiled and squeezed his hand. Legolas had only done that a few other times since then. A couple of times he had just squeezed the dwarf’s hand. Last night, the elf had smiled again, more noticeably.


It was slow progress, but Gimli was encouraged. The dwarf kept talking to his friend, encouraging him to wake, knowing one day the elf would open his eyes. He had to. Gimli would accept no less. The dwarf could not abide the thought of Legolas never waking again.


Gimli was sitting once again beside the elf’s bed. He held a cane across his lap. Aragorn insisted he use it, to help take some of the weight off his injured leg. Another week or so, and he wouldn’t need anything but his own feet to get him around.


Legolas had also improved. He looked much better and was no longer so pale. The bandages around his head had been removed. Now, except for the fact that he had lost some weight and his eyes were closed, Legolas simply looked to be asleep. Gimli wished it were that simple.


How long would this continue? How long would he sit here and wonder if he would ever have his best friend back again? Aragorn came to the dwarf’s mind again. The king was not doing any better than he was. Gimli sighed, and closed his eyes.


“I really wish you would just wake up, Legolas.” He spoke his thoughts aloud quietly.


A moment later a soft, slightly hoarse voice spoke. “Hin nîn edri.”


Gimli’s heart leapt in his chest, his eyes snapped open and he looked into a pair of bright grey eyes. The elf was looking at him curiously. Gimli was speechless for a moment, as two wet tracks streaked down his face and soaked into his beard.


“Legolas.” Gimli finally found his voice, hardly able to believe his friend was looking at him. He had waited so long for this day. Now all would be well again! Gimli quickly wiped his eyes and smiled widely.


The smile faded as the elf’s eyes, so bright a moment ago, dulled, filled with a look of puzzlement and confusion. Legolas looked around the room before his eyes came back to the dwarf. And fear also crossed the elf’s face, not an emotion Gimli was used to seeing on his friend.


Man Im carel si? Le Iston?” Legolas asked, his voice hoarse from lack of use, rather than light and musical as it usually was. The elf looked expectantly at the dwarf, waiting for a response.


Gimli blinked. His mind made no sense of the words, so surprised was he that the elf was speaking in Sindarin. Why was Legolas speaking in Sindarin?


Grey eyes searched the dwarf’s face for answers and finding none, Legolas sighed.


Nin heniach? Pedil i lam edhellen?” Legolas continued to search Gimli’s face for comprehension, but Gimli was still trying to understand why his friend was not speaking in Westron. The dwarf knew some Sindarin. Spending time with Legolas over the years, it had been impossible not to pick up some of the language. But one could not carry on a conversation if that person only knew a small number of phrases, especially when most of them were elvish curses Legolas had taught him. While he could think of uses for them at the moment, speaking with Legolas was not one of them.


“Speak common, Legolas. I cannot understand much of what you are saying.” The dwarf watched a frown crease the elf’s brow. He felt one upon his own face as well. The dwarf was overjoyed at Legolas finally waking, yet worried, for not all was well.


Legolas blew out a breath, looking quite frustrated. He began to sit up, a little unsteadily. Upon reaching an upright position, Legolas lifted a hand to his head. It was obvious he was still in pain. He went very pale and swayed slightly.

“Lie down, Legolas! You look as if you are going to pass out.” Gimli spoke firmly, not wishing the elf to attempt to stand just yet. Too much was happening too quickly.


Legolas obeyed the dwarf’s words, and Gimli helped him prop himself into a reclined position with the pillows behind him, rather than lying flat. The elf settled in, looking like he was in less pain now. He sighed and closed his eyes.


Hannon le.” Legolas spoke quietly, continuing to get more comfortable.


“You are welcome.” Gimli offered. At least he knew what that phrase meant. The dwarf found himself for the first time wishing he had learned the elf’s language.


Legolas grew very still, and fear welled up in the dwarf. Had his friend fallen asleep or fallen back into the darkness of oblivion?


“Legolas? Legolas look at me!” The dwarf called to his friend, almost in a panic.


The elf’s eyes flew open and sought his own. Gimli sighed in relief, before speaking again.


“You scared me, lad. I thought you had fallen unconscious again.” Gimli looked closely at the elf who was giving him a questioning look. “Do you understand me, Legolas?”


Legolas looked at the dwarf oddly, before taking a breath and speaking in that hoarse voice that sounded so unfamiliar coming from Legolas..


Le henion. Nin heniach?” Legolas waited for Gimli’s response but once more, Gimli did not understand enough of what the elf was saying. The dwarf blew out a breath of frustration himself. This really was too much.


“I’m sorry, Legolas, I only know a little of your tongue. I don’t know if that means you do understand or you don’t. Can you not speak common?” Another odd look and the dwarf was not sure what to think. Did the elf understand him or not?


“Doesn’t matter.” The dwarf muttered, answering both the question to Legolas and himself. Gimli reached next to him, and taking a cup of water off the table, handed it to the elf. He couldn’t do much, but he could help Legolas with that scratchy throat.


Legolas took it gratefully, drinking most of it, before setting the cup back down on the table himself. He glanced at the dwarf before responding again.

Hannon le.” This time the elf’s voice sounded more like it should, though still a little flat.


Gimli smiled, “Well, you sounded a little parched. Keep talking, Master elf. Sooner or later we’ll come across another phrase I know. Right now it’s enough just to hear your voice.”


Legolas raised an eyebrow, and the dwarf laughed. It was such a little thing, but Gimli was relieved to see such a look on his friends’ face, rather than the confused, lost look the elf had been wearing.


“You’ve been unconscious for thirty days now, laddie. Your poor excuse for a voice has been missed!” Gimli narrowed his eyes at the elf before chuckling, but he stopped when it seemed Legolas was becoming angry. Legolas still had that elven glare of his and right now it was burning holes into Gimli’s head.


“Don’t take it so seriously! I was only jesting.” Gimli snorted and patted the elf on the arm. Legolas calmed down, but he still looked at Gimli with uncertainty in his eyes.


“Come now lad, try again, let’s see if we can get somewhere with this pathetic attempt at communicating!” Gimli kept smiling, so his friend would know he was teasing. The dwarf missed their banter terribly. It had been too long since Legolas had insulted him. At one time, being insulted by the elf would have angered the dwarf. Now, he would give almost anything to hear it again.


Le iston?” Legolas spoke hesitantly, repeating one of his earlier questions. This time Gimli listened to what was said, and he understood the words. It was time for his own eyebrow to rise. This was not good, not good at all. The dwarf had not expected this.


“Aye, Legolas, you know me, know me well. Do you not remember?” The dwarf’s voice was gruff and when Legolas shook his head slightly, pain shot through Gimli. The dwarf lowered his eyes for a moment trying to deal with the intense emotion that seemingly wished to suffocate him. Legolas did not know who he was!


Taking a deep breath, Gimli looked up again. “Do you know who you are?” Of course, the dwarf thought, I’ve been using his name this whole time. But Gimli had to ask. He needed to know if his friend remembered anything.


The elf slowly nodded, “Im Legolas.” He spoke assuredly. “Ni...” Legolas broke off suddenly, another frown and look of confusion crossing the elf’s face, as it seemed Legolas searched within himself, trying to remember who he was. Gimli waited, his own thoughts in turmoil, as he hoped Legolas would remember.


The dwarf did not know what he would do if the elf could not remember. He had never considered this, though perhaps, both he and Aragorn should have. It was not uncommon for memory loss to accompany a severe head injury.


Gimli remembered Aragorn had mentioned there might be permanent damage. He said a silent prayer to Mahal, praying this was not the case. He’d pray to Elbereth herself as well, if only somehow the elf would be whole again. Gimli’s eyes came back to Legolas’s face, searching for signs that his friend had recalled who he was.


But instead, Legolas’s eyes widened and he swallowed hard. He looked very vulnerable. “Av-iston,” he whispered, his eyes boring into Gimli’s own. The elf looked pleadingly at the dwarf, as if begging something, anything, to hold on to, some comfort that he had not lost himself.


“It’s alright, my friend. I am sure in time you will remember. You were severely injured. Quite a blow you took to the head. You still need much rest to let your body heal.” Gimli spoke with confidence he did not know he possessed. Somehow, the dwarf just knew everything would be alright, in the end.


This seemed to assure the distraught elf. Gimli watched as Legolas took another deep breath, clearing the panic from his face. After a minute or two of silence, the elf cocked his head to one side curiously and looked intently at the dwarf.


Man eneth lín?” Legolas voice was sounding stronger, a note of music beginning to fill it again. The dwarf’s reassurance had settled the fears in the elf’s heart.


Gimli bit his lower lip, “What is my what?” The dwarf blinked, and grey eyes brightened somewhat at the dwarf’s answer.


Finally Legolas smiled. “Im Legolas.” Legolas pointed at himself as he said it, then pointed at the dwarf. “Le?” It was good to see the elf amused. A step in the right direction, for sure.


“Ah, I don’t know why you are only speaking in Sindarin, elf, but I get it. Gimli, son of Gloin, at your service.” And the dwarf bowed as best as he could sitting down. ”Sound familiar?” Gimli hoped the number of times Legolas had heard him say that, followed by a bow, might spark some memory in the elf.


Legolas pursed his lips as he considered this for a moment, but simply shook his head again. Then, as if a light had dawned in his mind, Legolas brightened and asked, “Le mellon nîn?”


Gimli grinned. Finally, they were getting somewhere. “Yes, Legolas. Actually, you named me elvellon.” Gimli watched the elf’s eyebrows rise and eyes widen. “Do you know what that means, Legolas? What it means for an elf to name another elvellon?”


Legolas nodded, eyes still wide. Gimli almost chuckled. Communicating in this manner with the elf would be comical, if not for the severity of the situation. Legolas’s open expressions and simple attempts at conveying what he was saying, made it seem like the dwarf was dealing with a lost child. Maybe Aragorn...


Aragorn! He needed to let the king know about this development! Aragorn and Arwen could speak with the elf, find out what he remembered and what he didn’t. They could help Legolas far better than he could. Both were older friends to Legolas than Gimli was, perhaps Legolas would remember them.


“Legolas, listen to me. I need you to stay here for a few minutes. Do not get up. A fall or another hit to the head is not a good idea right now.” Gimli stopped long enough for Legolas to nod his understanding. “I am going to send someone for Aragorn. He will understand what you are saying. We need his help!”


Gimli did not even pause to ask if Aragorn’s name meant anything to Legolas. The elf simply nodded again, relief in his eyes, and Gimli stepped out of the room. As quickly as he could hobble with his cane, the dwarf set off to find someone to send a message to the palace.


The dwarf named Gimli left the room and Legolas was left puzzling over what had transpired since he had awakened. He did not understand what was happening.


Where was he? What had happened to him that he could not remember so many things?


Legolas knew he was an elf. He knew what an elf friend was, which was why he had been shocked to find he himself had given that name to a dwarf. For some reason Legolas could not fathom, he had no difficulty accepting the dwarf’s words and presence.


There were other things Legolas remembered. He had vague recollections of tall trees and stone halls, singing and dancing under the stars, two long white knives and arrows being split one after another as they hit a target dead center.


But the pieces did not all fit together. Legolas could not make the connections, as large pieces seemed to be missing from his memory. Things such as the strange fact he could understand the dwarf speaking in a different language, while he could only speak his native tongue. He felt like he had lost something important. A lot of things actually.


Legolas remembered waking up to the sound of a very familiar voice. He had heard that voice even while he was unconscious, and it had touched some part of him, deep within.


As he had awakened, he had realized that the one who owned that familiar voice, had called to him, needed him. He had responded but as soon as he was aware, pieces of who he was seemed to fade away. Legolas thought he had known who he was while he was sleeping, but awake, he was only confused.


Legolas felt miserable. Besides his mind being in turmoil, his head pounded in his ears. His body felt stiff and weak, as it should if he had been lying here for thirty days as the dwarf had said. But mostly, there was a painful sense that he was not where he belonged. Legolas searched his heart trying to remember. Then he realized he could discern a song, a beautiful song, but terrible as well, as it filled the elf’s heart with much pain.


Legolas gasped. He did not belong here. The sea was calling him home! That much he knew. Why was he here? Had he been injured making the trip to the havens? Legolas searched for the reasons as to why he would linger in this place, when the sea’s call was so insistent and painful.


But he could not remember. He had forgotten. Why did that seem so familiar?


Flashes of strange memories began to assault him. He heard birds crying in the wind, water splashed against the hull of a black ship. And the ache in his heart grew stronger, along with the pounding in his head.


He needed to rest. He was not well yet. And sleep would relieve much of the pain. Perhaps when he woke, he would remember. His eyes grew heavy and he closed them.


A few minutes later he was sound asleep. Legolas did not hear the dwarf return, or the gasp and the call of his name.

He had retreated again, to that place in his mind where there was no more pain, save the ache from the song, but even that had faded greatly. The voice in the background continued to speak, and once again, Legolas felt it was very familiar. He knew that voice. And the voice brought comfort as he slept on.


The sun was setting in a clear sky. Pink and Orange rays caressed the stone of the White City. It was truly a breath taking sight. Aragorn would never get tired of watching the sunset from the Tower of Ecthelion.


The king of Gondor had not slept very well the last few nights. Actually, he had not slept well in a month. The lack of sleep and the worry for his friend affected his dealings with members of the court. So he had excused himself and had sought solace in the tower. Watching the sun go down always soothed his troubled heart.


The sun sunk beyond sight, going to its rest for yet another day. The air grew cooler and the stars began coming out, one by one. Still he stood there, seeking some comfort from the troubles that caused his heart to ache within him.

A presence behind him brought a small smile to his lips. The smile grew as two arms reached around him and held him close. His wife always seemed to know when he needed comfort.


“What bothers you so, my husband, that you seek solace in the twilight?” Her voice was soft as she spoke, full of love and concern.


The smile on the king’s face was replaced with a frown. “I am still worried about Legolas. He should have regained consciousness by now. It has been a month!” Aragorn stopped and sighed in frustration. The truth was he felt powerless to do anything. He was a man of action. Usually patient, but his patience was wearing thin from the lack of sleep.


“We are all concerned for the time that has passed, but he has shown signs of awareness, small they may be. Gimli said Legolas smiled again last evening at something he said. This is improvement. You must be patient, he will awake.”


Arwen paused and he absorbed what she had said. She spoke again, very softly. “What truly troubles you, Estel?”


The use of his elven name was Aragorn’s undoing. His shoulders slumped and he turned into his wife’s embrace, laying his cheek against hers.


“I expect Thranduil or another member of his family any day. I dread having them here. Especially with Legolas still unconscious. They may want to move him, take him home. I do not want to deal with the arrogance and prejudices of that family!” His voice clearly revealed his disdain.


“They would not dare to move him. It could set him back greatly. They will see this.” She pulled back and lifted hand and caressed his face before dropping it to rest on his arm.


“As for the prejudices, you know why they feel such. Isildur’s failure and the loss of Oropher affected Thranduil greatly. He returned to his home with only a third of his warriors after the last alliance. He returned without his father at his side. A loss he could have accepted, if the ring had been destroyed then. Thranduil saw the whole war as a waste of life, a battle fought, yet still not truly won. Isildur’s failure, became the failure of men in his eyes.


“In his mind, what he did was just. He was trying to protect his son. All that transpired so long ago, was meant to frighten a young man, the heir of the man Thranduil blamed for the deaths of so many elves. In doing so, he hoped you would not continue to seek Legolas’s friendship. He thought those things would dissuade Legolas as well, as Thranduil knew his son would fear for you. He wanted his son to have no dealings with those who were doomed to fail, as Isildur had done.”


Again, she paused looking at him with love shining in her eyes.


“But you, you are not Isildur, you are greater than he. You faced the same evil and you did not fail. You again must not let past events affect you. Do not forget, my love, You are the king of Gondor, not Thranduil. He will be in Your realm. Do not fear, you will never lose Legolas’s friendship. He has proven this time and again, in spite of his stubborn father.”


Arwen smiled and Aragorn pulled her to him, until their faces almost touched, and looked deeply into her eyes. Once again, she had reminded him that she held the wisdom of the elves. She was truly a wise queen and this was only one of the reasons Aragorn cherished her as he did.


He leaned down and kissed her softly. “Thank you, my love.”


He took her hand in his, and led her in the direction of their chambers. However, as they neared a voice called out.

“My king!” They both turned. Captain Arnien strode down the hallway towards them.


When the soldier stopped in front of them, Aragorn asked. “What is it, Captain?”


“Forgive me, my lord, but Lord Gimli has sent a message requesting your presence. Lord Legolas has awakened, but not all is well! He bids you to hurry.”

Aragorn glanced at Arwen. She looked back at him, her eyes glittering in the torchlight. Hope rose in his chest, Legolas was awake! But something was wrong. Aragorn frowned. He looked at his captain again.


“Please inform Lord Faramir and Lady Eowyn as well.”


Then still leading Arwen by the hand, he turned and walked quickly to the houses of healing.


Elvish Translations

Le iston? - Do I know you?

Hin nîn edri - I am awake. (Literally ‘My eyes have opened’)

Man Im carel si? - What am I doing here?

Le iston? - Do I know you?

Nin heniach? - Do you understand me?

Pedil i lam edhellen? - Do you speak the Elven language?

Hannon le – Thank you

Le henion – I understand you

Nin heniach? - Do you understand me?

Im Legolas – I am Legolas

Av-iston – I don’t know

Man eneth lín? – What is your name?

Le? – You are?

Le Mellon nîn? – Are you my friend?

Elvellon –Elf Friend

Chapter 13: As the Night Closes In

A cool hand was lightly stroking his brow. There were voices in the background. The familiar, gruff voice of the dwarf was accompanied by another familiar voice, this one was not gruff at all, It was deep and somewhat melodic. Then a female’s voice also broke into his thoughts. That voice belonged to an elf!


Legolas knew these people, he was sure of it! He struggled to remember how he knew them, but unconsciousness was fleeing and the closer he came to waking, the less familiar they felt.


The hand continued to stroke his face, and now he could understand what the female was saying.


Legolas, come back to us. Come back to the light.”


Legolas slowly, with much effort, opened his eyes. He was so tired, though why, he could not fathom. Had not that dwarf told him he had been unconscious for thirty days? He blinked a few times, clearing the sleep from his eyes.


Then he looked into three smiling faces.


The dwarf, Gimli was there, which comforted the elf. The dwarf was familiar from their previous conversation. There was also the she-elf, a very beautiful she-elf. Did he not know her? Legolas felt he should, but he had no memories of this lovely lady. Beside her stood a man. This man had to be a great lord of some kind. Greatness seemed to emanate from him, and again there was a slight feeling that he should know who this was.


It is good to see you awake, Legolas! You have slept enough for the next year, I believe. How do you feel?”


The man’s voice and manner of speech nagged at the back of his mind, Legolas knew this man, knew him very well, but how? The elf struggled to remember who this was. But the longer he struggled, the more the feeling fled. He began to lose hope of ever remembering anything.




That one word triggered images of a young boy struggling with a bow. Legolas looked at the man again. He blinked. That one memory was all he had, but it was enough to confirm the feelings that he knew the man standing next to his bed.


Estel?” Legolas blinked again as the man’s eyes widened and a smile spread across his face.


You know who I am, my friend?” The others in the room seemed excited as the man probed to see how much the elf knew. The dwarf especially was grinning, looking at the lady with a knowing look.


Legolas hated to disappoint them. All he knew was a name, just a name to go with the face of the child from his memory. The elf sighed. He had to let them know that he really did not remember anything of importance. He still did not know who these people were, or even who he himself was at the moment.


I am sorry, but I do not know you. You seem familiar to me, the dwarf and the lady as well, but I only know your name is Estel. That is all.” The elf winced as the faces around him fell. He had not meant to upset them.


Estel spoke again, his voice conveyed none of the disappointment that radiated from his eyes. “It is alright, Legolas. You have remembered something, that is a good start. In time, I am sure you will remember all.”


The elf closed his eyes for a moment. He was glad Estel, or who the child had become, understood. It hit him suddenly, that this man and lady spoke his language. They could understand him! There was much Legolas needed to know.


Please, I do not seem to have many memories. I know not, how I came to be in this place. Gimli spoke of a severe injury. How did I come to be injured? Was I traveling to the havens? Do you know what befell me?” Legolas pleaded with the man for answers, to fill in the many empty places in his mind.


But the man frowned. The woman inhaled a sharp breath. The dwarf simply looked between the two as he could not understand much of what was said. Apparently the elf’s questions were causing some distress, though he could not understand why.


Legolas turned his eyes to the man again. “Please, I need to know what has happened.” It must have been terrible to have evoked such a response from those around him.


Estel spoke quietly, but confidently, as one who has dealt with such a situation before. “What do you remember? Do you remember anything at all?”


Legolas shook his head, looking expectantly at Estel, waiting for him to fill in the gaps. But the man turned and looked at the lady. Again Legolas was struck with just how beautiful she was. She spoke, her voice as one of the Eldar, full of wisdom and light.


Legolas, you need tell us all of what you know of yourself. We will tell you of what we know, but first, it is important that we know just how much of your memory you retain. What did you remember of yourself when you first awoke and spoke to Gimli, and what have you since remembered.”


Legolas wanted answers, but he saw the lady’s wisdom in seeking these things first. He nodded at them and began to tell them what he had felt and knew since awakening not long ago.


Aragorn listened as Legolas told them what he knew. The man did not like this development, not at all. But as the elf continued, Aragorn was reassured. The elf was remembering things. They might be slow in coming, but Legolas had not completely lost himself. He would be restored, the man had no doubt.


But the elf’s mention of traveling to the grey Havens, was unsettling. Aragorn was grateful Gimli had not understood what Legolas had said. Perhaps his fears would be for naught, but if they became grounded, Gimli would have to be told.


Aragorn had known memory loss accompanied serious head injuries, but he had not considered it in Legolas’s case, though he should have been prepared. The man also had not considered that Legolas would still hear the call of the sea, even with no memory of it. How would that affect the elf, if he could not remember all that had happened? Their friendship; the elf’s promise to stay? Aragorn tried to swallow the lump that had formed in his throat.


Legolas finished recounting what he knew and had remembered. Aragorn took note that the elf only casually mentioned hearing the sea’s call. Legolas seemed to assume he had been on his way to sail when such a calamity had come upon him. Again, Aragorn was grateful Gimli was not understanding this part of the conversation.


Now, that they knew what Legolas knew, which was not much, they could answer the elf’s questions. Aragorn started by telling the elf of their long friendship and explained that Legolas had been visiting and exploring with Gimli when he had been injured in a cave in. When the elf seemed puzzled that he had not been traveling to the sea, the man explained carefully what the elf had told him after the war.


Legolas was not accepting the answers to his questions very well. The king, the queen and the dwarf did all they could to assure the elf that all would be well in time, but the elf was now upset and confused. It was going to be a long night.


Faramir was on the way to the rooms he and Eowyn kept at the palace. Eowyn would want to go with him to see Legolas. This was such joyful news! Finally, after so long, the elf was awake. The king would be doing much better now as well.

Faramir stopped as a young guard called out behind him. Turning, the guard informed him very quickly that he was needed as the king was otherwise occupied. As Faramir listened he felt the panic well up inside him. He needed to deal with this situation, and quickly. When he heard all the guard had to say, Faramir almost ran to the receiving hall.

Aragorn was not going to like this. Not tonight! Why was this happening tonight of all nights? Gone were the thoughts of a joyful king, replaced by doubt that the city would have any peace for quite some time.


Faramir slowed to catch his breath before entering the hall. With Legolas just awaking and not all being well with him, Faramir dreaded the outcome of the next few minutes. But he was grateful he could at least give his king a few more minutes before facing the next obstacle to be overcome.


Faramir adjusted his tunic, and standing tall and proud, walked into the hall as the Steward of Gondor should. No one would know just how much he dreaded what was about to happen.


“Good evening, King Thranduil. I am pleased you were able to come.”

Chapter 14: Confrontation

They had been talking for perhaps an hour. The more Legolas was told, the more discouraged the elf became. It is never an easy thing to be unable to remember your life. As Legolas was not completely well, still suffering from a headache and feeling weak, the elf was not handling all the information in his normal reserved manner. But stopping was not an option either, as suggesting to Legolas that he had been told enough for now, had turned the usually calm and collected elf into a more agitated, almost panicky elf.


The door opened swiftly and Aragorn turned from talking to the distraught Legolas, to see Faramir standing in the doorway. The steward looked upset and out of breath, as if he had just ran all the way from the palace. Aragorn focused intently on his steward, preparing for some loathsome news for the kingdom.


“Aragorn, I must steak with you. Now! You must hurry.” Faramir took only a quick glance at Legolas, who was looking at the disheveled steward with wide eyes, before looking back at the king. “Please, my lord, it is in Legolas’s best interest as well as your own.”


Gimli and Arwen wore worried expressions and Aragorn quickly nodded, wondering what could have caused his steward to be so upset. Leaving his wife and friend to deal with Legolas, the man stepped out of the room with Faramir, shutting the door behind them. The king faced his steward, trying to prepare for the worst, when suddenly he knew exactly what Faramir was here to say. And it could not have come at a worse time.


“Thranduil is here! Along with his daughter and guardsmen. I was able to slow him down, Aragorn. I had a guard lead them here, while I ran the back way. You have only minutes before he arrives.” Rarely did Faramir look and sound so discomfited. The steward took a quick breath. “Thranduil insisted on seeing his son immediately. Never have I seen a more daunting or incensed elf! I thought you would appreciate a warning as I was unsure as to Legolas’s condition, and whether he would benefit from such a visit.”


Aragorn smiled stiffly at the man’s concern. No one could have handled this situation better than the cool headed Prince of Ithilien. “My thanks! Legolas is awake as you saw, but his memory is mostly gone. And right now, you should be as well! It will not do for Thranduil to find you came a faster route!” Aragorn shooed Faramir through a door that led to another hall, one in which the man would not run into the King of Eryn Lasgalen.


As soon as the door shut, Aragorn heard the enraged king. The healers, bless them, were insisting on announcing the elves presence, but Thranduil would have none of it, stating, quite loudly, that he was to be taken to his son immediately. Aragorn started walking down the hall, trying to prepare himself for the dreaded confrontation that was coming. The man was half way down the hall when the livid elf, followed closely by Princess Anariel, turned the corner behind a very frightened looking healer.


Upon seeing her king, relief filled the healer’s face, and the woman simply pointed at the last door, telling the elves Legolas was there, and leaving Aragorn to address the situation.


Thranduil did not stop. The elven king did not acknowledge the king of Gondor, as he walked swiftly towards the king of men. Aragorn stood in the hallway blocking the way to the door down the hall.


Thranduil approached, eyes sparkling in anger. “You will let me by! You will not keep me from my son!” This was a tone of voice Aragorn had never heard coming from Thranduil. It spoke not only of power and anger, there was a hint of desperation as well.


The elf moved to pass Aragorn, but the man simply outstretched his arms, effectively preventing the elf from further movement down the hall, at least without resorting to violence.


“I will not keep you from Legolas, but there are some things you must know first. You cannot...”


“DO NOT presume to tell me what I can and cannot do!” Aragorn voice was drowned out by Thranduil’s booming voice. Thranduil’s eyes narrowed as he stood there glaring at the man, and for a moment, Aragorn was very intimidated.


In that moment, the man standing before the king of Eryn Lasgalen, was once again the young man he had been, chained in the dungeon of Mirkwood, charged with erroneous crimes, all in an effort to prevent Legolas and himself from remaining friends.


But only for a moment. Arwen’s wise words, spoken only a short while ago, echoed in the man’s head.


“I will respectively remind you that you are in Gondor, not Eryn Lasgalen. You are in MY halls and you will go nowhere unless I give the word!” It was no longer Aragorn who spoke, this was King Elessar, and he spoke with the authority of the king he was. Elessar would not let the arrogant Thranduil intimidate him. The elven king was NOT going to see Legolas until the man had a chance to say what needed to be spoken.


So the two kings stood in the hall, eyes ablaze with emotion. Neither was backing down..


King Thranduil was not intimidated in the least by the mortal king before him. It mattered not that the man was the king of Gondor and Arnor. This man had caused numerous conflicts between himself and his son. Thranduil refused to be moved. The elf stood there eyeing the man with obvious distaste.


Now, will you listen to me or will we stand here all night?” Aragorn switched to Sindarin and dropped his hands. Thranduil cursed mentally. The elf could very well stand here all night, but he wanted to see his son. He needed to see his son. But the elven king’s stubborn nature could not just allow him to hear the man out either.


His daughter’s voice, which had been silent until now, along with her hand on his arm, got his attention. Thranduil glanced down at her.


Please Ada, let him speak, we need to know what has happened. Legolas would not wish this.” Anariel’s voice was quiet, yet firm. It was her mother’s voice.


The king in the elf rose up, wishing to confront this man further, to prove to this mortal that he was not weak, he would never back down. But the father recognized that forcing his way into his son’s room was not how he wanted to make an entrance. It was not what his youngest son would want, or need.


Thranduil closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Anariel lowered her hand but stayed standing close to him, reinforcing the newly awakened father in the elven king. And the father was not here to have a show of pride. The father simply wanted to see his son, to assure himself that Legolas was going to be alright.


Thranduil fought to calm the anger welling within towards the race of men, the one in front of him in particular. It took only a moment and Thranduil looked the king of Gondor in the eye and spoke evenly, his face now void of emotion.


Very well, what must we know before we can see Legolas.” As soon as the words left Thranduil’s mouth, fear gripped the elf’s heart. He paled and his knees went weak.


No,”Thranduil breathed, “tell me he has not...”


No, King Thranduil. Legolas lives and is much improved! His injuries are all but healed. However, the blow to his head was terrible. He was unconscious for thirty days and has only awoken a few hours ago.”


As Aragorn spoke, relief filled Thranduil’s heart. He noticed Aragorn actually let out a smile, “Your timing is actually quite good, and though I am loath to admit it, your presence may help. He is somewhat upset at the moment.”


What do you mean? If he is awake why do we stand here? Why would he be upset?” His relief was replaced as Thranduil began to get annoyed. He had been stopped to hear his son was well? This was ridiculous!


While his physical injuries have healed, his mind is not yet whole. Legolas has few memories of himself and those around him. This has made him unsure and he feels lost at the moment.”


This news hit the elven king’s heart with a hard blow. Legolas did not remember. His son was feeling lost. Thranduil had seen this in others before, at times it was permanent, at least until an elf sailed to Valinor. There all ailments, physical and mental, were healed.


You say not yet whole, but I know this affliction can sometimes not be reversed. What makes you sure he will remember?” Thranduil asked.


Fear now laced Thranduil’s voice and he barely caught himself from grimacing at hearing it. The king would never allow these emotions to come forth. The father struggled to quench the pride of the king, reminding himself that being a father was more important.


Legolas does remember much of what it means to be an elf. He remembers some of life in your halls, though he has yet to mention you. He senses we are familiar to him, and he remembered my name, Estel. These are all good signs that the loss is only temporary.” Aragorn spoke with confidence and Thranduil had to agree this indeed sounded like good news.


“I appreciate you letting us know these things before we see him, King Elessar.” It was Anariel’s voice, and she spoke in Westron as a sign of respect. The elven king found himself grateful he would not have to voice such a thing, though the father managed a nod.


“Would you please permit us to see him. My heart will not rest until I can determine for myself Legolas is well.” This was as close to an apology for his earlier behavior that Thranduil could allow himself. It was a step in the right direction.


The king of Gondor nodded. “My only request is that you be careful of what you say and how you react. Legolas is not managing his emotions well, another side effect of a severe head injury. If he does not remember you, please do not show your dismay, I am sure he will remember in time.”


Aragorn turned and Thranduil and Anariel followed him to the door at the end of the hall, joy filling their hearts, replacing the fear and despair.

Chapter 15: Where the Heart Dwells

The door closed behind Aragorn and Faramir. Gimli glanced at Arwen, but the queen was once again soothing Legolas. His friend was quite distressed, and Gimli did not blame him. The dwarf could not imagine forgetting who he was. It was bad enough watching his friend face it.


Gimli was unsure of what he could do to help the elf. He had stayed in the background as Aragorn and Arwen spoke with Legolas, then attempted to calm him. Gimli had spoken up from time to time, uttering reassurances. How many times tonight had he wished he had made the effort to learn the elf’s language?


The dwarf was also struggling with quite a load of guilt. He had been blaming himself for the cave in since it had happened. After all, he was the one who should have sensed things soon enough to get out. Now that Legolas had awakened without his memory, the weight of guilt had increased greatly. It was not a pleasant feeling.


Had not his own thoughts, that morning a month ago, wished for a way to make Legolas forget? Of course, the dwarf had not been serious. Well, he had, but only about that stupid bat incident! Gimli frowned to himself at the thought. He had not meant for Legolas to get hurt. Gimli would rather feel the sting of his pride for the rest of his days.


Then there was the matter of the caves. If the dwarf had not wanted to explore those caves, Legolas would never have even been there. Aragorn had only used them as an excuse to get Legolas to come to Minas Tirith. The king would not have pressured the elf into going in them.


Neither did you.


Gimli knew this, but would not allow himself to stop feeling the blame for what had happened to Legolas.


There was far more going on here than just the elf losing his memory. Legolas was suffering greatly, Gimli knew. Aragorn had said nothing, but the man did not need to. Gimli knew his friend well enough to know the signs.


Legolas still heard the sea, it was calling to him, and the elf had no memory of why he was still here. That late night conversation, that now seemed so long ago, haunted the dwarf. Gimli bit his lower lip, to still the turmoil in his chest. As he watched the elf’s face and eyes, the dwarf knew and it frightened him. He could lose Legolas to more than memory loss.


The door behind them opened once more and Aragorn reentered the room. Gimli drew in a sharp breath and took a step back, as King Thranduil and Princess Anariel stepped through the door.


Well, Gimli told himself, you should have expected this one as well. It was only a matter of time. He grunted in acknowledgment, bowing slightly as custom dictated.


The dwarf turned his eyes quickly from the elves back to Legolas. If seeing his father and sister helped bring his friend back, then even Gimli could tolerate them. All he had against Legolas’s family, other than the fact they disliked dwarves, was their lack of effort in accepting Legolas’s decisions regarding his friends and where he lived.


Anariel was the kindest and had tried the hardest to understand her brother. Gimli was actually quite fond of the lass who loved his friend almost as a mother would. He could not call her friend, but Anariel had at least made an effort, where Legolas’s brothers had not given the dwarf a second glance.


Legolas’s eyes widened and a look a shock filled his face. Lips slightly parted, the elf inhaled a large breath. As he released it he breathed out one word.




Gimli felt his heart lurch and another lump form in his throat. The dwarf refused the tears that threatened behind his eyes. He would not let them fall in front of all these people. Legolas alone had seen the dwarf cry. The elf was the only one who knew this side of Gimli, but it was difficult to hold back the tears as his joy began to overtake his melancholy. Legolas had remembered Estel, now he recognized his father. It was a very good start.


Thranduil seemed to be having some difficulty with his eyes as well, the dwarf noticed. They were bright with unshed tears as Anariel let hers fall unashamedly down her cheeks. The elven king moved to the side of Legolas’s bed, and sat next to his son.


Legolas moved to sit up, but another flash of pain echoed in his bright grey eyes. Thranduil put a restraining hand on his son’s shoulder before leaning down to draw the younger elf into an embrace. They held each other for a long moment, before Thranduil released Legolas, and sat back just taking in the sight of his son. Neither spoke, though their eyes said much.


Anariel sat on the other side of the bed, taking one of Legolas’s hands in her own. Gimli watched as Legolas turned his head to look at his sister. A look of confusion crossed Legolas’s face for a moment. The elf searched his sister’s face as if searching his mind for who she was. Then a soft smile touched his lips.

Anariel? Thial Naneth. An uir thiad lîn 'ell, Muinthel vuin.” Legolas spoke, his voice filled with love, caressing his sister’s face with his eyes. “Guren linna le cened.”


Anariel smiled sweetly at her brother replying, “a Guren linna le cened, Muindor vuin.”


She reached a hand up to brush a strand of hair from Legolas’s face, tucking it behind his ear. She asked, “Le mae, Legolas?”


Gimli listened to the exchange. The language was truly beautiful, but he did not understand enough to follow the conversation. The dwarf’s heart was full at seeing the siblings interact and seeing Legolas recognize not only his father, but his sister also. If only the elf would remember his friends, then all would be well.


Im maer, Anariel” Legolas answered his sister, then turned to look again at his father.


Gimli could see the love shining in the eyes of both. He was surprised. Gimli knew Legolas loved his father, but never before had the dwarf seen that love returned so clearly in the eyes of the elven king. Thranduil had changed, but had he changed enough? Would he attempt to convince Legolas to leave? Or had the king accepted Legolas’s place in Ithilien. Gimli desperately wished it was so.


Telo bar a nin, tithen pen.” Thranduil spoke to his son in a tone full of love and concern. Gimli had never heard the elven king speak such, and his heart leapt that Legolas might have one of his desires fulfilled, to be close to his father, as a son should be. But the dwarf understood the words ‘come home’ and was instantly fearful as well. It had begun, the elven king had come to take Legolas away from them.


Even as the dwarf’s heart despaired, Legolas answered his father.


Ithilien na nev, sa bar nin. Le ista hi, Ada.”


Ithilien is near, it is my home. You know this, Ada.”


Legolas spoke the words, but knew not from where they came. He had no memory of Ithilien, he only knew what Estel had told him about the land that had been his home for more than 9 years. The man had told him that Thranduil had permitted it, but Legolas instinctively knew his father had not been pleased with his move.


His father had always wanted him to be near home, though he had never spoken of it in the tone of voice he had a moment ago. It was as if in some ways his father was a stranger, and the young elf did not think it had anything to do with his memory loss. His father was different, yet the same. Always overprotective when it came to his youngest, yet now more open in his concern, emotions showing clearly in the Thranduil’s eyes.


Legolas looked carefully at the older elf sitting next to him. The king’s eyes had filled with a look of pain. Long had it been, since Legolas had seen his father allow any emotion but anger to be revealed. Not since...Legolas searched for when it had been, but he could not remember. He struggled for the answers, but they had faded from his mind. Instead, his father spoke.


Yes, I know this, Legolas. Do you? Do you remember Ithilien?” Thranduil asked him, and Legolas looked to his father in surprise. The king had read his son very well. “You need to be surrounded by what you do remember, my son, not by those you cannot recall. I fear for you here.”


That was an uncommon statement coming from the elven king, but only unusual because he had spoken it in front of others. Thranduil had spoken to Legolas of his fears before, but not with such love in his eyes and voice. Legolas hesitated to answer, knowing his reply would cause his father more pain.

Legolas’s head ached as he realized how difficult this night had been. He needed to end this conversation quickly and insist upon some rest. Time. Legolas needed time to process all that had happened to him, all the information he had learned. The pain in his head and heart grew stronger and suddenly, he wanted to be alone in the room, save for the comforting presence of the dwarf, a thing he could not explain.


My mind may not remember the land, but in my heart I know that Ithilien is my home, at least until I sail.”


Legolas glanced at the dwarf, sitting in a chair not far from the bed, his cane across his lap. Legolas noticed a look of despair in Gimli’s eyes. He spoke again and all those in the room looked at the injured elf, lying in the bed, with surprise.


“I may not remember many things, Ada, but I sense that healing will only be found here among the familiar faces that I do not remember, or by sailing west. I will not return with you, I belong in that wood no longer.”


As his eyes darted between their faces, Legolas was not shocked by the looks he received. He could not explain how it had happened, he only knew that in that moment, the dwarf needed to understand. So the elf had spoken in the common tongue, where before he could not. Legolas looked over at Gimli and smiled reassuringly.


Gimli’s felt his heart stop as Legolas looked at him and smiled. Legolas had spoken in Westron! Now he would be able to speak with his friend and maybe, just maybe, the elf would remember.


“Legolas, You...” Gimli turned his head towards the voice as Aragorn paused, obviously pleased at what Legolas had said. But Legolas looked exhausted and in pain. Gimli was about to address that Legolas needed rest when the elf spoke again.


Estel, lasto nin.” Legolas looked to those in the room. “Boe i bedil si. Boe i poston.”


That was when Gimli noticed the others recognize the toll this night had taken on his friend. Anariel and Arwen smiled, glanced at each other and both moved towards the door. Aragorn and Thranduil, both looked intently at the young elf before Thranduil nodded, consenting to his son’s wishes.


Ae han aníal, Legolas.” Aragorn’s voice expressed amazement as he smiled at the elf. “Indeed, it is good to see you taking an interest in your own health for once. We will let you get some rest.”


Gimli knew the words had been spoken for his benefit as the king glanced his direction. The dwarf would rather not leave Legolas just yet, but it was clear the elf needed sleep. Legolas also wished time to be alone, the dwarf knew. Gimli nodded as well.


Han aníon. Boe i loston.” Legolas replied with a sheepish smile, his eyes slowly blinking in sleepiness. Gimli smiled at the look on the elf’s face.


The dwarf stood and waited near the door for the others to leave, a hand upon his cane. Thranduil placed a hand lightly on his son’s cheek, then stood and quietly left the room. Aragorn followed behind, waiting just outside the door for Gimli.


Gimli gave his friend one last smile then turned to go. The soft voice stopped him.


“Please stay, Gimli. I wish not to be completely alone.” Legolas asked.


A smirk appeared on the dwarf’s face as Aragorn’s eyes widened. The king had heard the comment as well. Aragorn had told the elf that Gimli had rarely left his side since the accident, but Gimli had been unsure of whether Legolas would still like his company. Gimli turned back around, smirk firmly in place.


“Can’t stand to be without my presence, can you elf?” The smirk turned to a full smile.


Legolas smiled back and shook his head, “No, I just do not wish to turn you away from your own bed.” He gestured with his head to the bed not far from his own. “It has been a long night, and you are tired as well. There is no need for you to hobble any further.”


Gimli quickly prepared for bed, unable to keep the grin off his face. The elf had fallen asleep almost immediately, but the dwarf did not mind in the least. For just a moment, his friend had returned.

Elvish Translations:

Ada – father/dad duh!

Anariel? Thial Naneth. An uir thiad lîn 'ell, Muinthel vuin –Anariel? You look like mother. Ever is your sight a joy, beloved sister.

Guren linna le cened – My heart sings to see you

a Guren linna le cened, Muindor vuin – And my heart sings to see you, beloved brother.

Le mae, Legolas? – Are you well, Legolas?

Im maer, Anariel. – I am well, Anariel.

Telo bar a nin, tithen pen – Come home with me, little one

Ithilien na nev, sa bar nin. Le ista hi, Ada – Ithilien is near, it is my home. You know this father.

Estel, lasto nin – Estel listen to me

Boe i bedil si. Boe i poston – You all need to leave now. I need to rest.

Ae han aníal – If you desire it

Han aníon. Boe i loston – I desire it. I need to sleep

Chapter 16: Soothing the Pain of Guilt

Legolas notched another arrow and drew back his bow. He released and watched as it hit the target, dead center. It had not taken him long to adjust once again to his bow. Legolas did not remember receiving the beautiful bow of the Galadhrim, but it was a pleasure to use. He ran a finger along the intricate carvings, admiring the vaguely familiar feel as he sighed.


Legolas would never forget that night he had awakened to those who were so strangely familiar, yet were unknown to him. They had spoken long about who he had been, who he was, but it was not the same as knowing himself. He had despaired.


Then his father had come with his sister. It had been comforting to find he still knew them, yet, in truth, he still did not know himself. The small flashes of memory were not enough to define to himself who he was. He had sought solace in sleep, for there he was comforted. There he vaguely recalled remembering.


It had happened two weeks ago, when his life had been turned upside down. When he had awakened to the ache in his chest that haunted him. The sea was a constant ache, giving no reprieve from its song. So Legolas did what he had been encouraged to do, he got up and began regaining his strength. In moving about he hoped to lesson the pain that tore at his heart.


It had taken a few days for him to recover enough to stand and walk slowly, moving about the garden behind the houses of healing. Once on his feet, his strength had quickly returned. Legolas was on the path towards regaining himself. He sought places, things and activities that should stir feelings and hopefully memories.


But very few memories returned to him, and for the most part Legolas simply made new ones. He practiced with his bow. He sparred with Aragorn, Faramir and even Eowyn. He walked the city of stone, and visited the horse he did not know, though it was obvious the horse knew him well, as did the people of Minas Tirith. It would seem he was well liked.

Faramir and Eowyn spoke with Legolas about Ithilien. Arwen told him of their first meeting, when they had danced at his coming of age ceremony. Aragorn had told Legolas much about the last ninety years and the elf could hear the nostalgia in the king’s voice as he spoke of the beginnings of their friendship. For reasons Legolas could not name, he knew he could trust this man named Estel.


So the last two weeks had gone by, and Legolas hated feeling confused, a stranger to himself. The only way to overcome this was to remember. Thus Legolas continued seeking out anything to help him remember, and anything to help dull the sea’s call. He spent time seeking familiar things, so it was, he spent much time with his father and sister.


Thranduil had rarely let Legolas out of his sight. The time with his father had not all been pleasant. The elven king had seen the call of the sea in his son, and Legolas realized he must have hidden much of it in the past. The situation he now found himself in, the frustration of being unable to remember, was causing him to be unable to mask his emotions easily.


Thranduil wanted Legolas to journey back to Eryn Lasgalen, then after a time, sail to Valinor. His father was convincing in his arguments, but Legolas could not explain why this irritated him to no end. The elf did not want to hear any more from his father. He only wanted time to remember.


But time he did not have. The sea continued to sing to him, pulling his heart closer to the shore, as there was no longer a strong anchor to hold him in the forests of Ithilien. Legolas wondered if he would be able to stay long enough to remember. There would be healing in the Undying Lands.


Legolas continued practicing as his mind continued to process all that had happened to him. Here on the archery field, he could contemplate in silence as he pulled arrow after arrow in comforting, familiar repetition. Here Legolas could escape almost all of those who hounded his steps, worried about him.


All except the dwarf. The dwarf was another matter altogether. Legolas could not comprehend how he had became friends with a dwarf, but he had no doubts that he had done so. Of all the familiar strangers that surrounded him, Gimli, was the most constant and the most concerned for him. Not even his father’s worry could compare to the fear he felt coming from Gimli.


The dwarf was the quietest of them all, speaking little, usually when answering direct questions. There was an air of uncertainty about Gimli, one Legolas somehow knew should not be there. Gimli should not be silent, there should be conversation between them.


For now, Gimli simply sat off to the side, smoking his pipe and watching the elf shoot. Legolas held an arrow, notched, bow pulled back, continuing to strengthen the arm that had been broken six weeks ago. When his arm began to shake, he held it a minute longer, then released. This arrow was not as accurate, but that had not been the point.


Legolas glanced at the dwarf, and noticed Gimli had not seen the shot. Once again, the dwarf was looking at the ground before him, lost in thought. Legolas sighed. He had to do something, this was not helping. Aragorn had told him about his friendship with Gimli, and the dwarf was not behaving in his usual manner. Something was bothering the dwarf, greatly.


The elf put his bow and quiver on the table nearby, and walked over and sat beside his friend, for friend he was, remembered or not. Gimli did not even look up, he simply sat there, pipe in hand staring at the ground.

“What is it, Gimli? Why do you focus so intently on the ground?” Legolas asked his friend. “Have I done something to upset you, Master dwarf? Aragorn assures me you are not one to keep quiet for so long.” He let a smile grace his lips as he tried for humor.

Gimli looked up and gave a small smile in return. “Well, I have to admit you are trying, lad. But it’s just not the same.” The dwarf went silent again.


“And it may never be the same, Gimli. I am sorry.” Legolas apologized and jumped when the dwarf’s head snapped up again.


YOU are sorry?” Gimli asked incredulously. “Nay, Legolas, it was my fault this happened. You are not to blame. I am the one who is sorry.”


Legolas looked at the dwarf in disbelief. Is this why the dwarf had been acting strangely? He was suffering from guilt?


“What do you mean it was your fault? I thought the cave in was an accident. Is that not how I was injured?” The elf asked somewhat apprehensively, unsure of what the answer would be. Why would another feel guilty for an accident?


Gimli took a deep breath and looked the elf in the eyes. “But I am a dwarf, Legolas. I should have sensed it sooner. Even more, I should not have asked you to explore the caves with me at all. You have never felt comfortable under ground, I should not have pushed you to go.”


Legolas tilted his head back and gazed into the sky, thinking about the dwarf’s words for a few minutes. Bringing his eyes back to the dwarf, he spoke what he knew to be true. No memory was required to know how to answer this claim.


“I do not remember why I went with you. I do not remember going at all.” The elf shook his head, “It does not matter. I went, I made the decision for whatever reason and the consequences of that decision are mine alone to bear.” Legolas looked hard at the dwarf beside him. “It was an accident. It is no one’s fault. It just happened. Please, do not blame yourself... it helps me not.”


Legolas gazed at the dwarf, patiently waiting for his reply. The dwarf looked back, a frown on his face, searching the elf’s face for what Legolas was not sure. Then Gimli smiled as he nodded his head slowly. It was a real smile and it seemed a great weight had been lifted from him.


“Perhaps things are not so different after all, elf” Gimli told his friend.


The two sat in comfortable silence a while longer. Then collecting their things, they headed to dinner, a smile on the elf’s face as Gimli talked the whole distance.

Chapter 17: Whispering Wind; Anger Unleashed

The sun was slowly setting, sinking from the sky, filling the city with a golden light. She found him again in the tower. This time she did not ask what troubled him, she already knew.


“He only wants what is best for his son. His intentions are not to cause you injury. He is much changed, though you still see him as the king who harmed you. He is now the father he should have been all along.” Arwen spoke softly as she walked up behind her husband.


“Yet he injures me all the same.” Aragorn’s voice was filled with grief. “I thought when Legolas declared he would not go back to the Greenwood, that would be the end of it. I was foolish to wish it so. Thranduil may want what is best for his son, but it is too soon to push Legolas to seek healing in Valinor. He suffers from the sea longing enough without the added pressure from his father. I fear it hinders his memories from returning. It forces him to focus on the call and I see him drowning in it.”


Arwen closed her eyes, seeing again the past three weeks. She agreed with him, it was too soon. There was still much hope of Legolas being fully restored to them. The king of Eryn Lasgalen saw only his son’s pain and agony from the call of the sea. It had never been so exposed to Thranduil before. If it had been, if Legolas had not concealed how deeply it affected him, the elven king would have ordered his son to sail long ago, instead of allowing him to bring elves to Ithilien.


“Do you think speaking to Thranduil will make him see his error? Nay, for it is not the loss of memory that drives him to see Legolas seek healing in Valinor. It is the call of the sea itself. Legolas must choose his own path. Whether he remembers or not, his choices are his alone to make, and it is our duty to support him in them.” Arwen spoke her words holding much conviction.


“Even if that choice takes him from us, before he would have chosen to go if he remembered? I do not want to lose him, Arwen.” It was one of the saddest tones she had ever heard coming from him.

“Yes,” she answered.


The stone was closing in on him. He had remained here too long. Legolas had never liked being enclosed by stone, that much he knew. The few gardens in the city offered little comfort and too few whispers from the plants within. The wind spoke of a beautiful forest. There he could find some comfort. Perhaps there he would find some peace.

The elven prince made his decision, and went to speak to his father. Thranduil was not displeased with his son’s choice but voiced his concerns and what he perceived Legolas was seeking.


“Legolas, if you are not regaining your memories here, among those you were closest to, why do you think Ithilien will be any different? I do not say, not to go, for I am sure Tathar and your subjects wish to see you greatly, and seeing them may help. I only think you seek answers where you will not find them. I do not wish to see your heart despair when you find no comfort under the trees. You will only find it in the West. I wish it were otherwise, but that is the nature of the sea. You will be in torment until you relent.” The king spoke with much sadness in his voice.


Deep down Legolas knew his father was correct. There would be no peace for him any longer in Arda. Yet he sought it all the same, to find something...anything to bring comfort to his tortured heart that ached deeply. He sensed it was not only the sea that caused this pain and he looked to the trees and the forest of his home for some answers. Surely there, he would remember something.


“I am going nonetheless, Ada. I request that you and Anariel travel with me. I would not be parted from you just yet, and I may have need of you there.” Legolas spoke hesitantly, needing his family with him to help with the adjustment in returning to his realm. A lord who did not remember his people, or his land.


Eowyn was angry. Very angry. She did not notice the servants and guards that gave her a wide berth as she moved through the halls. They had learned when the White Lady was angry, it was better to put distance between the lady and yourself. Even the king of Gondor was known to avoid her when she was in such a foul mood.


The lady turned a corner and almost ran into the party for whom she had been seeking. Her eyes flashed as they came up to hold the eyes of the king of Eryn Lasgalen. For a moment, she thought she saw him flinch. Inwardly, she smiled. Good, let him fear.


“King Thranduil, I would have a word with you.” Eowyn did not ask.


The king did manage a small smile before replying, “Of course, my lady. How may I help you?”


“It is not I that needs your help! If you seek to help one, then I suggest you help your son. He is in dire need of your support, not your pushing him to sail or return to the Greenwood.” Eowyn presented a fiery air and the elven king actually took a step back in surprise.

“My lady, I assure you I only wish what is best for my so..”


Eowyn interrupted, too upset to think about the political blunders she was making in speaking in such a manner to the King of Eryn Lasgalen. Indeed she was speaking to the father of her good friend, the father who was unknowingly hurting his son more.


“As locking Aragorn in your dungeons was in Legolas’s best interest? Or have you forgotten the wedge that drove between you and your son? As was in refusing to give Legolas your blessing in moving to Ithilien to be near those he loved? Do you have any idea the pain you caused him? It would seem to me you hardly know what is in your son’s best interest. So I will tell you!”


King Thranduil was getting the tongue lashing of his life. And by a lady, no less. The worst part was the fiery female was hitting the elven king straight in the heart. She had his undivided attention. Eowyn had stopped to take a breath before letting him know exactly what his son needed.


“Legolas is in enough pain without you pushing him to face it further. He needs someone to stand by his side and encourage him to fight for his memories, not simply run away from the pain. He needs someone to remind him of his love for Ithilien and his people, someone to offer a shoulder to cry on when the pain is too great. A father to realize that his son would be in even more pain, if he sailed and only remembered after it was too late, that he had broken his vow to those he held dearest to his heart.”


The lady stopped and by this time her anger had faded. Tears ran down her face as she stood there, eyes no longer holding his, but looking off over his shoulder. She took a shuddering breath before looking up again.


“I’m sorry,” she almost whispered. “I should not have spoken so freely. But it is still the truth, and you needed to know.” Without giving Thranduil a chance to even respond, she turned and fled.


Thranduil turned around intending to go back to his room. He needed to consider what he had just been told. When he turned, he realized someone was standing just down the hall. He paused, taking in the form of the King of Gondor.


Aragorn had heard a raised female voice and headed quickly in that direction. Ladies in distress was something he knew how to handle, unlike the situation with his good friend. As he drew near however, he stopped and just stared at the sight before him.


Eowyn was telling King Thranduil exactly what she thought. He could not stop the small smile from crossing his lips. He had been on that end of the lady’s wrath before; he much preferred watching others take the brunt of it. But the smile turned to a frown as Aragorn took in what the lady was saying.


Shock held him in place as the lady continued her tirade. How many times had he wished to say the same things to Legolas’s father? But the man had not been able to bring himself to face down the formidable king, except for on two instances.


The first had been when he had caught the creature Gollum and had taken it to Mirkwood at Gandalf’s request. He had been able to stand strong in the resolve that the wizard wanted the creature there. Legolas had stood with him and Aragorn had not been the young man he had been before when in the king’s realm. The second had been the night Legolas had awakened, more than three weeks ago.


As the words came to an emotional end, Aragorn looked up and caught Eowyn’s eye. The man would not say a word about her lecture to Thranduil, be it in bad political taste or not. But he could see the pain in Eowyn’s eyes as she realized he had been listening. And he saw her realize her error. Her eyes went back to the elven king.

“I’m sorry. I should not have spoken so freely. But it is still the truth, and you needed to know.” Aragorn watched her flee and the elven king turn. The man held his ground and met the eyes of Thranduil evenly. He would not apologize for the words that should have been his own.


The king of Gondor started to turn and just leave the elf standing there, but Thranduil stopped him.

“King Elessar.” Thranduil walked up to the man. Aragorn held his gaze and waited.


The elven king regarded him for a moment, then smiled. “She’s right, you know. I have not considered my son so much as myself.” His eyes trailed to the painting on the wall, it was one of Ithilien.


“I have not been much of a father to my children since their mother died. I was not there for them when they needed me the most. Legolas especially.” The elven king continued to study the painting. “My son was right in seeking friends who could support him when I would not.” Thranduil brought his eyes back to the shocked king of Gondor. “Thank you for being his friend, despite the foolishness of a stubborn king and father.”


Aragorn did not know how to respond, so he simply nodded.


“Legolas has expressed his desire to return to Asca Nen and has asked Anariel and myself to accompany him. I believe I can do that now. Though you do not ask it, I give you my promise I will be there for him. I will push him no longer. If Legolas decides to sail, it must be his decision alone.” Thranduil searched the man’s eyes and Aragorn smiled.


“I am glad.” Was all the man could say as he nodded his head. He continued standing in the hall as the father of his friend walked away. His heart had lifted and once again he had hope.


Gimli stood in the courtyard outside the stable, waiting for his turn to say goodbye to his friend. Thranduil and Anariel had already taken their leave and were mounted and waiting with the king’s guards for Legolas to do the same.


The dwarf had been willing to go with Legolas, but the elf had requested to go with only his family. That decision did not sit well with the dwarf, but he had to respect the elf’s wishes.


So, Gimli watched as Arwen and Eowyn hugged him goodbye, and the dwarf smiled at the awkward, almost shy way the elf returned the hugs. Legolas clasped Faramir’s wrist in the ways of men, then turned to Aragorn. The man and elf spoke a few words of farewell before taking the other’s shoulder in an elven warrior’s salute.


Then the elf turned towards the dwarf, and the others moved back. Gimli stepped forward and eyed the prince carefully.


“I don’t like this, lad. Not one bit...but I’ll respect it. I hope you find what you’re looking for there. Tathar will take good care of you, I have no doubt.” Gimli smiled. “He might even be able to get you to eat enough to put some meat back on your bones.”


Legolas returned the smile. “I will miss you, Gimli. Thank you for all your help. I promise to keep in touch.” The elf reached out and placed a hand on the dwarf’s shoulder. Gimli lifted his own hand and grasped the elf’s wrist, just above where the elf’s hand rested on his chain mail.


“I won’t be returning to Rohan just yet. The city builders have requested my help further with those caves. A group from Aglarond will be arriving in the next few days. I will be here for another month. If you need anything, Legolas, just send word.” The Gimli looked up at his friend, sincerity in his eyes.


Legolas looked at him thoughtfully for a few moments. “I promise I will send for you if I get too bored.” The elf smiled. “Goodbye Gimli.”


“Goodbye Legolas.”


The elf moved away and mounted Celedae easily. He joined his family and they rode down the street towards the lower levels. Legolas looked over his shoulder and lifted a hand in farewell. He turned back around, and was lost from sight as they rounded a corner.


The dwarf moved away with the others, heading back to the seventh level. But he did not go to the palace with them. Instead he headed past the white tree, to the jutting of rock that rose some six hundred feet above the city overlooking the Pelannor fields. From there he watched the group of elves headed towards Ithilien. He stayed long after they were out of sight.

Chapter 18: Difficult Decisions

A lone, unmoving figure stood on a rise of ground at the edge of the forest. He was tall, lithe, and beautiful. The wind teased strands of his golden hair, blowing them across his bright grey eyes. A hand slowly moved up and long fingers tucked the rebellious strands behind his delicately pointed ears, before slowly lowering once again. He stared into the distance, looking to the west as the sun sank into the horizon. A frown creased his brow, and a low groan came from deep within him, as the yearning took over his heart.


Did he truly have a heart or was it just an empty throbbing hole? A continuous pain that never left and only grew as he dwelled on the ache. Only one thing was there...the sea. Always the sea. In his mind he could hear the crash of the waves, smell the salt in the air and hear the cries of the gulls.


Legolas had been back in Ithilien for six weeks. During that time he had regained no further memories. Tathar was familiar, as Estel had been familiar. At times he almost felt he remembered the elf that had been his friend for so long. But whenever he tried to grasp the memories, they fled, leaving him empty and confused.


Tathar continued serving in the position of leadership in Asca Nen. Legolas, having no memories of this place, was not in a position to resume his command. He had become a lord in name only, serving no purpose to the people he did not know. As the weeks went by, he began to develop a sense of detachment, and took to exploring the wood that should have been home.


His father did his best to help him. The elven king went out of his way to remind Legolas of the things his son had told him over the years, the things Legolas loved of Ithilien. Legolas did not know what had changed his father.

Never did Thranduil even mention the sea. He did not have to, it called and wooed Legolas all on its own. And when it became overwhelming his father or sister would hold him as he cried. His tortured heart could not take this much longer.


A week after returning, Faramir and Eowyn had come to see how he was fairing on their way back to Emyn Arnen. Legolas was honest with them and told them nothing had changed. Both encouraged him to have faith and to be patient. He would remember in time.


Legolas was no longer sure. There was no way to know if he would regain his memories, or continue living in the confusion and pain. He could not possibly serve in any capacity under these circumstances. It was getting hard to even function with such emptiness consuming him.


Lifting his head again towards the west, he let the song of the sea consume him. The pain of the longing was bittersweet. The song was beautiful, yet as it called to him, the pain throbbed in his heart. Slowly he became aware of another ache there, and he searched his heart for the reason for it. But no answer came. It felt so vaguely familiar, but he could not remember.

And as he dwelt on the object of his desire, he softly questioned himself out loud. “Why am I still here?”


He had no answer and the agonizing pain and longing overwhelmed him. With great effort the elf tried to push the sea to the back of his mind. He could not, not even for a short time. Taking one final look west, and turning toward the trees, Legolas made his decision.


The tormented elf began the walk back to Asca Nen to speak to his father and Tathar. Arrangements would need to be made, packing would need to be done, and he would need to notify those who would wish to know of his decision. He was sailing.

Chapter 19: Undeniable Agony; Accepting the Loss

Legolas waited outside the king’s library while Estel was informed of his arrival. He was apprehensive at being here, but he had to come in person to do this. He had already proven himself cowardly by the letters he held in his hand. But one confrontation was all his heart could bear.


So, he was here again in Minas Tirith. It seemed a lifetime ago that he had departed from this place, but it had only been two months. Gimli should be back in Rohan by now, and Legolas was grateful he would not have to face the dwarf. He did not think he could walk away unscathed from that encounter. The elf would ask Estel to see that his letter be delivered. By the time the dwarf received the news, the elf would be too far away for Gimli catch him and to try to talk him out of leaving.


Legolas also had a letter for Faramir and Eowyn. They had been so kind to him, he did not want to leave without saying goodbye. The thought of looking into their eyes and saying it made him feel ill. Again, he had opted for having Estel see the letter delivered.


The king, dressed quite casually, stepped out of the open doorway with a smile on his face. Legolas tried to smile back, but it came out quite crooked. He bowed his head to the man.


“Do stop with the formalities, my friend! Come in, tell me what is on your mind.” The man motioned for him to enter the study. Legolas followed, silently entering the room behind the man.


The king’s library was just that, a large room, complete with several couches and comfortable chairs as well as several tables. Book shelves lined the walls. The door was usually left open and close friends were encouraged to stop by any time the man was there. Aragorn usually spent his free time here when he wanted to read, as official business was handled in his office or a private counsel room.


The two seated themselves on opposing couches so they could face each other as they spoke. Legolas kept his eyes looking around the room for a few minutes as the man studied him. The king sighed and spoke.


“You do not come with good you?” Estel’s face held a grim expression. “Have you remembered anything?”


This was what Legolas had been dreading. He made himself pull his head up and look the man in the eye. He wished he was standing, a more formal atmosphere would make it easier to speak these things.


“No. On both accounts.” The elf shook his head slightly. “It is not easy for me to say this, so I shall say it quickly. I am sailing. I will leave in the morning for the havens. I have made my good byes to my family and the elves in Ithilien. Tathar has agreed to take over command there. I hope that is acceptable to you.” Legolas watched the man’s face carefully as he spoke, but the ex-ranger’s face was unreadable.


“That is fine, I have no problems with Tathar’s leadership.” The man took a breath, frowning as he locked eyes with the elf. “Are you sure, Legolas? Must you leave now? There is still hope for your memory to be restored.” The emotions came to the surface as the man’s voice came out slightly strangled.


“I would not go if I thought I could stay. I must sail, or I fear my heart will start to fade.” Legolas searched the man’s face, silently begging him to understand.


Estel spoke, his voice a broken whisper. “I don’t want you to go.”


“I know,” the elf’s voice also not more than a whisper. “But I must.” He cleared his throat. “I have a request to make.” When the man nodded, Legolas voiced what he had come to ask.


“It would have been wrong of me to leave without speaking to one of you personally. I suppose it is wrong to leave without speaking to all. I have letters for Faramir and Eowyn, and one for Gimli. If you would be so kind as to see them delivered.” The elf pursed his lips, unable to say anymore.


The man was struggling to accept what he had just been told. He had to, but it hurt, badly. “Of course,” Aragorn fought internally to keep himself emotionally distant for the sake of his friend. He could weep later, in Arwen’s arms. “I will see that all are delivered as soon as possible. I think you should know, however, that Gimli..”


“Legolas?” A gruff voice came from the doorway behind him and Legolas closed his eyes. This was the one encounter he had desperately wished to avoid. It would have been simpler, so much easier to send a letter. Now, he would have to speak.


Legolas stood and turned. He avoided the dwarf’s eyes, not wanting to see the pain that would be there. The pain he would cause.


“Lad, I did not expect you to return yet, but it is always good to see you.” The dwarf smiled at him, but the elf was unable to return it. He sensed Estel leave the room, and he was grateful. This was better done in private

“Legolas? What’s wrong, lad?” Gimli’s concern pierced the elf’s heart, the aching increased and he did not understand it. The elf felt tears behind his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. Legolas dropped his eyes to the floor before him.


“Forgive me, Gimli. I thought you would be back in Rohan by now. I should not have attempted to avoid this with a letter.” Legolas looked up briefly,. “I appreciate all you have done for me. Though I remember you not, you have been a true friend. Rightfully I named you elvellon, and how I wish I could remember... But I cannot.” Legolas shook his head slightly and his voice was hoarse with emotion.


Unable to continue looking upon his friend, he lowered his eyes again. “I am leaving in the morning, headed for the havens. So I suppose this is...goodbye.”


“So I suppose this is...goodbye.”


Gimli told himself he was not hearing what he thought he was hearing. But the elf was standing before him, head bowed, eyes lowered, and Gimli knew it was true. He felt his heart sink into the floor.


“What do you mean this is goodbye? You can’t leave.” Gimli looked at his friend, eyes pleading for him to change his mind. The elf did not look up, his golden hair partially hid his fair face.


“I cannot stay any longer, Gimli. The is too great. I have struggled against it and I can fight no longer. My memory has not returned, I feel it will not unless I sail. I’m sorry, but I have to go.” Legolas looked up then and the dwarf saw pain there, and determination to go.


“But Legolas, there is still hope. You could still remember. Did your father push you into this?” Gimli accused, pulling at anything, not considering the words he chose.


Anger filled the elf’s eyes at the mention of his father. “NO.” The prince spoke firmly. “There is no hope. I cannot remember. And my father has done nothing but support me in my anguish. You would do well to be careful how you speak of him.”


“You can’t leave, Legolas. Not yet.” The dwarf was frantic. This could not happen! It was wrong.


“I can and I will. Who are you to stop me?” The elf asked angrily.


The dwarf’s heart constricted at the elf’s tone and words. As he stood there, pain filling his heart and tears fighting to come to his eyes. Gimli heard his own voice echo back in his mind from that night more than four months ago.


Legolas, you are my best friend...”


“I ask not for myself, Legolas.” Gimli tried to convince himself this was true. The words continued to ring in his mind.


...It would pain me greatly to lose you to the sea...”


Never had Gimli felt such pain before. The words tumbled from his heart as his voice filled with emotion. “And I cannot stop you from going. But I beseech you to wait until you have remembered more. I fear once you reach Valinor... and you are healed there and remember... you will regret deeply. You will remember and the regret will be very bitter, lad. You should not leave like this. I know you suffer, I know the pain...”


YOU KNOW NOTHING!” The elf shouted. “You can NEVER understand the torment I endure! I can remain here no longer!” Legolas paused, taking a breath and lowering his eyes and tone of voice to almost a whisper. “And if I regret, then I regret.”


The dwarf dropped his own eyes and he blinked away the tears that were trying to form. He attempted to swallow the lump that seemed to be trying to strangle him. His words from so long ago were no comfort, but they remained right and true.


...If you need to go, lad, go with my blessing... I won’t see you in pain for my sake.”


The dwarf swallowed hard and looked up. Reaching out a hand, he lifted the elf’s chin and met his eyes. “Very well,” he said, and dropped his hand back to his side. “But hear this, Legolas. When you reach the Undying Lands, and the Valar heal your mind...when you remember those that you left behind. Do not sorrow over it, lad. Do not regret. Go with my blessing, be free of your pain. Just remember me Legolas...remember I love you. And I will never forget you.”


His voice broke as he spoke and it was all he could do to keep the tears from running down his face. The elf blinked but said nothing. He simply stood there, a slight crease between his eyebrows, but otherwise an unreadable look upon his face.


“Goodbye, Legolas. Have a safe journey... And remember.”


The dwarf took one last look, burning the image of his best friend, who was now lost to him, into his mind. Then he turned and walked out of the door.


The tears streamed down Gimli’s cheeks as he walked to his room and locked the adjoining door. He would go home. He would leave as soon as he could pack his things. He would start over, try to find his place in this world that had so recently been turned upside down.


An hour later, the dwarf took his leave of the king and queen of Gondor. He would hear nothing they had to say; he ignored their pleas to stay longer.


Gimli strapped his pack on his pony and mounted Moroch. He rode through the city gates and he never looked back.

INTERLUDE: See Poetry Interlude II

  Chapter 20: Accepting the Loss

Anariel looked at her father riding beside her. He was not the same as he had been on their way to Gondor. He had changed, so much for the better. Her joy at having her father restored to them was diminished by the fact her little brother had lost his way and his heart to the sea.


The elven Princess had hoped, had prayed that her brother would be restored to them. But it was not to be on these shores. She had not wept much, for she knew they would see Legolas again, and soon as time goes by to the elves. But Anariel knew her brother would never be the same. Once Legolas remembered, his pain would be great for having sailed before his vow released him, for leaving those he loved dearly. None could blame him for taking this course, but he would blame himself. The lady sighed to herself, knowing there would be little more comfort for him in Valinor, than he had had here.


After a difficult good bye to Legolas, King Thranduil and his daughter had gathered their guards and bid farewell to Asca Nen, the land Legolas had loved and worked so hard to restore. Anariel had been surprised when Thranduil had insisted on stopping in Emyn Arnen before returning home. The king wished to speak with the lady Eowyn and Prince Faramir before turning north.


Anariel knew Legolas was having Aragorn send a letter explaining the Lord of Ithilien’s departure. It seemed Thranduil felt it his responsibility to inform the Steward and his wife in person. It had been a touching visit. Anariel would never forget the sight of the lady Eowyn, tears brimming in her eyes, placing a kiss on her father’s cheek, and the look of thankfulness in both her and Faramir’s eyes for being told personally. They would grieve this loss for a long time.


We need to pick up the pace. I wish to be home as soon as possible. We have been away too long and there will be much explaining to do.” The elven king spoke from beside her. Anariel urged her horse faster after taking a last glance over her shoulder at the Land of the Moon. And since he had not, could not, she bid the land farewell for her brother.


The road northwest would be a long one. Legolas looked over at the two guards his father had insisted he take with him. He would have rather made the trip alone, but he did not remember the way. It seemed these two elves were either naturally very quiet, or Thranduil had ordered them to leave the troubled prince be. Whatever the reason, Legolas was grateful. He wished to be alone with his thoughts.


They set out in a most direct route, Legolas made sure they would avoid both Helm’s Deep and thus, Aglarond, as well as Edoras, riding north of both before turning more westward. They would cross the river Isen near what had once been Isengard, and continue northwest traveling just south of the Shire. The grey Havens were not much farther west.


Before they ever entered Rohan, Legolas’s thoughts inevitably turned to his last day in Gondor. It was not easy to think about it, but he supposed it was necessary to put it behind him. The elf did not understand what had happened in that library, only that when the dwarf had released him to go, the pain had been almost unbearable.


Legolas had stood there looking after the dwarf for a long time. Shock and confusion, as well as an almost physical pain, held him to the spot. He convinced himself it was the pain of the sea longing growing stronger, now that he was truly free to leave. Estel had reentered the room and had snapped the elf out of his frozen state.


That night he had spent with Estel and Arwen. They tried to hide their feelings, but Legolas could sense their pain at his leaving. Neither attempted to sway his mind. Both supported the elf in his choice, no matter how painfully it affected the king and queen. Legolas truly appreciated their love and respect for him in this matter.


The next morning had presented a very difficult goodbye. Tears streamed down the Evenstar’s face and she hugged him tightly before kissing him lightly on his cheek. Estel had tears as well, though he held them back until the elf embraced him. The king had clung to Legolas for a long moment, before shifting his hold to the more familiar warrior’s grasp.


“I will miss you, Legolas. Take care of yourself on your journey. May you find peace in your crossing.” A tear slipped down his face as he added, “Forever you are my friend and my brother..”


Again, that piercing pain shot through Legolas’s heart and he knew he needed to leave quickly. “May the sun shine upon your path and your ways be green and golden.


The elf smiled slightly. “May the leaves of your life never die.” He gave Estel’s shoulder one last squeeze and lowered his hand to his heart and bowed his head. Looking up again, he swept his hand outwards to them in the traditional elven farewell salute. “Farewell, my friends.”


Now, they were entering Rohan and had many days of hard travel before them. Legolas kept to himself, speaking only when necessary. He rode, ate, and tended his horse, and always his eyes turned the sea.


Arwen walked in the Queen’s garden alone. The moon shone brightly overhead as she moved to sit on a low bench. Her tears had dried days ago, but the ache in her heart would take longer to heal. How she missed the laughing, mischievous elven prince whom everyone loved. She missed him almost as much as she missed her husband.


Aragorn would need much time to accept the loss of Legolas. It had hurt him deeper than either of them could have imagined. Aragorn had met the prince of Mirkwood when he was only seven years old. Their friendship had blossomed quickly as Legolas taught him archery and how to get even with Elladan and Elrohir. Arwen had not been in Imladris for the beginnings of that friendship. But she had seen the results years later. Never had she seen two closer that were not related. At least, not until Legolas had met Gimli.


The queen’s heart cried out at that thought and her tears began anew. Not for herself or her husband, but for the unusual dwarf who had charmed her grandmother and befriended the son of the elven king. The one who refused to let anyone other than that elf see his heart so clearly. They had been closer than brothers. And now Legolas was gone.


Arwen wiped her eyes with the handkerchief in her hand. Aragorn had sent a rider to Rohan to take the letter Gimli had never seen. They knew in time he would wish to read it, though right now it was still so very painful. Aragorn had ridden personally to deliver the letter from Legolas to Faramir and Eowyn.


When he had returned to Minas Tirith, he told her Thranduil had stopped in Emyn Arnen, before returning to Eryn Lasgalen. The elven king had felt it his place to let them know of Legolas’s decision. Thranduil had also thanked Eowyn for the lecture she had given him and helping him to see how best to help his son.


When Arwen inquired about this, Aragorn shared the scene he had unwittingly walked into. Remembering, the queen smiled. She would have given a lot to have seen that sight! She wondered if King Thranduil’s face had looked anything like Legolas’s when he had received a well deserved lecture from Eowyn in front of Eomer.


Eomer. Arwen’s heart clinched again. They had received a letter from him for Legolas, but only after the elf had left. They would have to return it to the king of Rohan, as well as inform him of Legolas’s departure, unless Gimli had told him, but Arwen did not think he would be thinking of such things any time soon.


The moon had started to slowly make its way towards the horizon when the Queen of Gondor finally left the garden and made her way back into her husband’s arms where they could comfort each other.


The dwarves of the Glittering Caves had been filled with joy upon Gimli’s return, until they realized their friend and lord was not himself. He was troubled greatly and Din, his dear friend, was encouraged to draw him out. They could not help the Lord of Aglargond until they knew what troubled him. Many assumed it must be the elven prince who had been injured, but they had received word that he was recovering.


After a grand meal, like only the dwarves can make, Din realized his friend had slipped out of the hall. The dwarf found Gimli standing outside the caverns under the tree that stood there. The tree that Legolas frequently slept in or sat in while he sang. Gimli was looking up between the branches at the stars.


Din walked over to his lord and tilted his own head back to observe the twinkling dots of light. This was something that only the dwarves of Aglarond did, and never in front of their distant kin. Appreciating beauty is something dwarves do well, but star gazing was unknown to them, until one of their own had befriended one of the firstborn.

Din said nothing, simply stood beside his friend. After a long while, Gimli spoke slowly without taking his eyes from the stars.


“He decided to sail, Din. He does not remember, and he suffers greatly. I had to let him go.” The sadness in Gimli’s voice took Din by surprise. He had not expected this news. His heart went out to his friend, the dwarf Legolas had named elvellon. Truly Gimli would suffer greatly at this loss. But perhaps...


“Surely he will change his mind, Gimli. He won’t go through with it. I’m sure if you went after him and asked him to stay...” Din’s voice was cut off.


“No, I asked him in Minas Tirith. I saw it in his eyes, and I know it in my heart. He needs to go.” Gimli lowered his gaze to meet his friend’s eyes. “I gave him my blessing. I cannot go after him, though I thought of it many times on the way home. I have already said goodbye. It is time to let him go. I will cherish the time we had, for it was truly a gift. I have the memories to sustain me. I asked him to remember me in Valinor, and I will remember him here.”


Gimli spoke, his voice soft and gruff. He turned his eyes back to the stars.


“Truly, Legolas will be missed around here. Somehow it will not be the same without his visits.” Din smiled as memories of the strange being filled his mind. “I will never forget him stumbling around in the dark, getting lost in the caves. We will all miss him.”


A small smile formed on Gimli’s lips as he also had pictures of Legolas’s time in Aglarond. “Indeed, it will not be the same.” He looked at the tree beside him. “I keep looking up thinking he will be there. I find myself listening for his voice raised in song. It is hard to accept that he will never sit there again.” The dwarf swallowed the lump in his throat.


Din saw it and a plan began to form in his mind. If Gimli could be somewhere else, where there were not so many memories of Legolas, it would be easier for him to start to heal. The dwarf looked at his friend carefully.


“Gimli, things are going well here. It would be a good time for you to take a trip to the Lonely Mountain and see Glóin. Kili mentioned when he was here that your father asked when you would visit again. He is getting older, my friend. Now is a good time to go.” Din stopped knowing he should not push the issue. Gimli would decide for himself.


The Lord of Aglarond continued to stare at the stars, a hand in his pocket, which held the hairs of the lady Galadriel which she had given him years ago, enclosed in crystal. Gimli began to nod his head, and turned to Din.


“I agree. Moroch will be glad of another journey. He was cooped up too long in Minas Tirith. I will leave you to tell the others this sad news. I believe I will leave at sun up.”


Gazing a few more minutes at the stars, Gimli then took one last look at the tree next to him. He raised his hand to the bark for a moment, then turned and disappeared in the caves.

Chapter 21: Doubts and Hesitations

My lord?”


Legolas turned to the royal guard who had traveled with him to the havens. The guard looked nervous. “Yes?”


I was just wondering about Celedae, my lord. Do you wish us to take him back to the wood with us?” The guard spoke hesitantly, but he felt the need to see to this last thing before they left their prince in the havens.


Legolas looked around him. The grey Havens were more than just a port on the sea. It was a city of sea elves, devoted to building the grey ships for the elves headed westward, until they themselves were called home to Valinor. From the outskirts where they stood, Legolas could see the vast water stretching to the horizon. His heart ached fiercely within him, but he calmed himself knowing he would be on one of those grey ships soon.


No,” Legolas spoke quietly, looking at the horse he had come to love during the journey. “I will set him free before I sail. I do not wish him to serve another.” The horse snorted in agreement. Celedae would never allow another to ride him, once his elf had left him.


Legolas tore his eyes from the sea and turned to his escort. “Thank you for seeing me here. I give you leave to return to the wood. I will be fine and I wish to spend my remaining days alone.” Both guards nodded and politely left their prince to make his own arrangements.


Legolas walked slowly into the havens and quickly found who he needed to speak with about sailing. He was given accommodations and informed the next ship would not be leaving for at least several days, perhaps a week. Legolas contented himself walking the shoreline and making acquaintances among those who built the ships.


The elven prince was surprised to find the building of the grey ships fascinated him, and soon he was questioning all who would give him information, learning all he could about designing and crafting these works of art. But during those first two days, he could not bring himself to actually set foot on any of the docks.


Legolas could not understand why but every time he walked closer to the ships, the pain from the sea eased. Yet another pain, the one he had sensed in Ithilien and in Minas Tirith, grew stronger, piercing even.


Today, Legolas told himself, it did not matter. He was going to climb aboard one of those beautiful creations and familiarize himself with the ship. As soon as he stepped onto the dock, he grimaced, stopped walking and bowed his head against the pain. A hand was applied to his shoulder and Legolas looked into the face of one of the elves from the havens.


Forgive my intrusion, I am Rimedur. Are you alright?” The elf asked.


It is no intrusion, my name is Legolas. I am not sure what ails me. I have a sharp pain in my chest. I know not what is causing it.” Legolas answered.


The other elf observed him for a moment, taking in the hand Legolas had brought up to his chest.


Are you certain you hear the call of the sea? It is rare for one to be so called and yet show such pain at leaving. Usually one cannot wait to get on the ship. You are reluctant to move closer.” The sea elf observed.


Rimedur had seen many elves, who had not heard the sea’s call, attempt to sail over the years. Usually it did not matter, as all elves would go in time, whether they heard the sea or not. But there were times this was not the best course for a particular elf.


The pain you speak of is not normal. Are you sure this is the right thing for you at this time? There is no turning back once you have sailed.” Rimedur warned him.


Legolas knew it was true. Once in Valinor, there was no returning. But there was no doubt that he had heard the sea. There was no denying what had happened at some point in time. He had heard the gulls, and the longing had been awakened in him. It mattered not that he had no memory of when it had happened.


I felt the call years ago but have long denied it. Through an accident, I have lost my most of my memories and can no longer resist the sea’s song.” Legolas informed Rimedur. “But this other pain I do not understand. The closer I get to the sea, the lighter the sea’s call, yet the heavier the weight on my heart. The closer I get to the ship, the stronger the strange pain becomes. Why am I different from others who hear the sea?” Legolas asked.


Possibly, you still have ties in Arda, and your heart is not ready to go Perhaps you still have something or someone here who needs you, some task you have not yet fulfilled. Take some time and be sure before you leave. The Valar do not place such ties without cause.” Rimedur spoke carefully. And Legolas heeded him.


Legolas spent several days pondering the strange things in his heart. The tug that drew him away from the sea as much as the sea called him towards it. Time was running out and he had yet to find the answers. The ship would be sailing in two days. Legolas needed answers before then, as he did not think he could wait for the next ship to leave.


Walking the shore the next day, Legolas realized he might never understand the turmoil within him. He needed to make a choice. He could stay here and continue in his misery, or he could make the decision to get on the ship. The elf looked out over the water to the grey vessel bobbing lightly with the waves. Such a beautiful sight.


He watched the ship for a while, then, nodding to himself, turned back towards the city. Once he reached his room, he began to ready his things. As soon as everything was in his pack, he went to the stable to get Celedae. He opened the stall door and led the horse out, speaking softly the whole time as the horse pranced in impatience to be off.


Legolas led Celedae through the streets, back to the outskirts of the city. He looked back over his shoulder at the expanse of water that cried out to him as surely as the gulls overhead did. It took much effort to look away again. Slowly, he turned back to his horse and spoke to him again.


An hour later Legolas walked back to his room alone. Celedae had been set free to roam wherever his heart desired. On the morrow, Legolas would board the ship, and as he had told Gimli, if it brought regret, so be it.


Gimli continued to ride Moroch through the night. His heart was in great turmoil and he could not stand to simply be still. He would need to let the horse rest soon, but for now, Moroch seemed to be enjoying himself. He was of Rohirrim stock and had great endurance.


Finally, the dwarf knew he could go no further this night. He cared for his horse, rubbing him down and picking the dirt and small stones from his feet as Legolas had taught him. He then built a small fire, and as he ate some of the dried meat he had brought with him, he thought of Gloin. It would be comforting to see his father again. When Gimli had finished his meal, he wrapped a warm blanket about himself, as it was much colder this far north, than in Rohan, which lay many leagues to the south.


The weather had been getting chilly even back home. The leaves had dressed themselves splendidly, and most had already danced their way from the trees to the ground below. The cold of winter would soon be upon them. It was the season Legolas liked the least, though he always managed to find fun in the snow, which usually involved ambushing the dwarf.


Gimli sighed. As much as he tried, he could not stop himself from thinking of the elf. He wanted to remember his friend, but presently the pain of the loss was still so strong. His heart hurt like someone had stabbed him through. Here, alone in the wilderness, he could let his tears fall once more. But no tears came. The dwarf eventually fell into a light troubled sleep. His last thought was of how much he wished Legolas was here, a soft song on the elf’s lips to help him sleep peacefully through the night.


The next morning the dwarf was up and had Moroch packed just as the sky turned grey. He mounted his horse, and set out again, hoping to arrive by the end of the day. He needed some comfort from the pain and he hoped he would find it there. He only wished he were not traveling alone.

Chapter 22: Finding Light as the Sun Sets

Gimli continued to ride as sunset approached. He had been able to see his destination, rising before him for quite some time. The dwarf would make it before sunset. There, once he was able to just sit and look over the horizon, perhaps he would be able to be at peace. Be able to bring closure to the wound in his heart. Watch the sun set in the west, think of his friend, and begin to heal.


Gimli set his sights on the road before him. That was when he noticed the other horse coming towards him. Gimli slowed Moroch to a trot, and waited for the other horse to approach. He smiled as he recognized the other immediately and called out a greeting. The dwarf told his friend of his intentions and invited the other to join him. It would be easier is he were not alone.


Soon they were traveling quickly together. Gimli determined to arrive as the sun set, his heart lighter with a friend to talk with as they traveled side by side.


Legolas had been nervous all day. The closer it came to sunset, his heart raced faster, his stomach churned, beads of perspiration from his nervousness appeared on his upper lip. He brushed them away in irritation. It was at sunset that the ship would set sail.


Many of the other elves, who were sailing on this ship, had already boarded. Legolas could not bring himself to do so just yet. He would wait until the last call. Then there would be no waiting on board, it would be time. He would look into the west and not look back at the land he left behind, the land of his birth, the land of his friends.


Knowing this would be the last time he set sight on it, Legolas turned around and let his surroundings sink into him. He took in the trees, the beautiful buildings of the havens, the rolling hills in the distance. The bell tolled for all to board. Legolas turned back around and moved towards the ship.


As he walked closer to the plank that would take him onto the ship, that strange pain grew much sharper. Yet the sea called to him, it ached within him. He stopped on the dock and bowed his head.


He had to choose, to leave or to stay. Legolas stood with his head bowed for a moment longer, then lifting his head he chose. The elf took a deep breath, swallowed the pain, and surrendered to the sea. He walked swiftly and confidently up the plank and joined the others.


A grey ship sailed out of the harbor, and on a nearby hill, a large silver grey horse watched until it was completely out of sight. As the sun sank below the horizon, Celedae turned and never again came near to the sea.


Gimli arrived at the Lonely Mountain just before the sun set. He dismounted and turned to Tathar, who had joined him on the road. Both were suffering from the loss of Legolas and their pain had brought them together.


Gimli led them up a steep path and they came to a ledge where they could sit and watch the sun set. Sitting together in silence, they watched the sun start to sink into the horizon. Gimli spoke, his voice full of emotion.


“Samwise told me that the ships always sail from the havens at sun set. I needed to watch and imagine him leaving, needed this last goodbye.”


“And I as well, Gimli. Thank you for inviting me to come. It will be hard, but perhaps together we will remember the happy times. And our friendship will bring Legolas joy when I finally pass over the sea.” Tathar spoke quietly. Gimli turned and looked at Legolas’s best friend from his childhood, now Lord of Ithilien and Asca Nen.


“Aye. We’ll have to work on your insults though, lad. You’ve got a long way to go before you can banter with any hope of winning.” The dwarf grinned at the elf next to him.


Tathar smiled. “If you insist. Though how a dwarf can rise to winning when he’s so close to the ground is beyond me!”


The sun sank below the trees of Eryn Lasgalen in the distance and as twilight came upon the mountain, elven laughter and dwarven curses could be heard. Perhaps it wasn’t the end after all.


A/N – Are you mad at me? Do you hate me for letting Legolas sail...Do you think I am so evil? Well, yes I am...even more evil than you can imagine, because the last chapter was um...not the real one? So, sorry for the fake chapter. I could not resist. Did you really think I could do that to my elf & dwarf? Oooo, readers hate me now ... so here is the REAL chapter...(ducks and runs very quickly) Tissue warning is still in effect!

Chapter 22: Reasons Are Always Revealed in Time

Gimli continued to ride as sunset approached. He had been able to see his destination, rising before him for quite some time. The dwarf would make it before sunset. There, once he was able to just sit and look over the horizon, perhaps he would be able to be at peace. Be able to bring closure to the wound in his heart. Watch the sun set in the west, think of his friend, and begin to heal.


Gimli set his sights on the road before him. That was when he noticed the other horse coming towards him. Gimli slowed Moroch to a trot, and waited for the other horse to approach. He smiled as he recognized the other immediately and called out a greeting. The dwarf told his friend of his intentions and invited the other to join him. It would be easier is he were not alone.


Soon they were traveling quickly together. Gimli determined to arrive as the sun set, his heart lighter with a friend to talk with as they traveled side by side.


Legolas had been nervous all day. The closer it came to sunset, his heart raced faster, his stomach churned, beads of perspiration from his nervousness appeared on his upper lip. He brushed them away in irritation. It was at sunset that the ship would set sail.


Many of the other elves, who were sailing on this ship, had already boarded. Legolas could not bring himself to do so just yet. He would wait until the last call. Then there would be no waiting on board, it would be time. He would look into the west and not look back at the land he left behind, the land of his birth, the land of his friends.


Knowing this would be the last time he set sight on it, Legolas turned around and let the surroundings sink into him. He took in the trees, the beautiful buildings of the havens, the rolling hills in the distance. The bell tolled for all to board. Legolas turned back around and moved towards the ship.


As he walked closer to the plank that would take him onto the ship, that strange pain grew much sharper. Yet the sea called to him, it ached within him. He stopped on the dock and bowed his head.


Shaking himself, he tried to throw off the feelings and continue moving towards the ship. But his feet seemed to be stuck to the dock. He took a deep breath and with great effort moved forward again. The pain shot through him again, and it felt like lightening had struck his soul. Legolas brought a hand to his chest in an effort to still the tremendous ache there.


What was wrong with him? He was an elf, he needed to heed to call of the sea. The sea was screaming at him to get onto the ship. Legolas took another step forward. And another. He reached the plank that stretched over to the grey ship. Those on board and standing on the docks looked at him curiously.


Surely, he must be a strange sight. An elf, dragging himself across the dock to sail. An elf who clearly heard the call of the sea, yet whose feet would barely move towards the ship. It would have been amusing, had it not hurt so badly.

Finally, he lifted his foot to step on the plank and the piercing pain almost brought him to his knees. He stumbled back several paces and stood there breathing heavily, trying to figure out what to do. He needed to get on the ship. Didn’t he? Rimedur’s warning crossed his mind.


The pain you speak of is not normal. Are you sure this is the right thing for you at this time?

There is no turning back once you have sailed.”


He wasn’t supposed to go now. Somehow Legolas knew that. Somehow, his heart remembered what his head could not. The elf struggled with both pains for a moment. One pushing him to leave, the other pulling him to stay. He felt torn in half, as if his heart was being ripped from his chest. His head ached. His feet were frozen. Why could he not board the ship? Why could he not leave?




The name was spoken aloud as a soft whisper. And then it hit him. The magnitude of what he had almost done. Planning to sail. Leaving the friends he held so dear...his reason for staying.


An excruciating pain hit his chest as he remembered who he was and all he had done and all those he had forgotten. Legolas gasped as his heart throbbed and his ears rang as he sank to his knees...he had forgotten...again.


The elf knelt there, head bowed, hardly able to breathe. Tears slipped down his cheeks. How could he have done this? How could he have left them? Now, more than ever, he wished that stubborn, stunted friend of his was here. But Gimli was in Rohan, the dwarf had went home after Legolas had told him he was sailing.


A sob escaped him as he remembered their last meeting. He had hurt Gimli greatly, yet the dwarf had still sent him with his blessing. Gimli had given him the greatest gift he could ever receive, but he had been in no frame of mind to understand it. Gimli had set him free, to go with no regrets or sorrow.


There was a commotion behind on the dock, but in his pain, he did not hear it. Legolas knelt there as tears streamed down his cheeks. The pain was almost unbearable. It was the pain of being separated from his friend. It was stronger than the call of the sea; it did not drown it out, but it was stronger, more insistent. It was what had kept him here since the end of the war.


The elf took a shuddering breath. “Gimli...” he whispered again. How Legolas wished the dwarf were here. He needed his friend. His heart leapt as he realized, he could go to Gimli.


Legolas struggled to get to his feet and failed. He knelt a moment longer, trying to calm his heart and mind. Someone approached from behind him. Not one to easily accept help, the elf would be grateful for the assistance this time. He needed to get off this dock, find Celedae and head back to Rohan.


Legolas started to turn his head and look up to see who had come to help him, when a gruff voice spoke.




The elf’s wide eyes snapped to his friend, who knelt next to him. Legolas’s face contorted as a sob escaped his throat. The dwarf said nothing else, simply pulled the elf into his arms and held him as one would a small child. The sobs wracked the elf’s body as he cried.


An elf approached and kneeled down next to them. “If you are going to sail, you need to get on board now. I would not recommend it, as it seems you have much more to ponder before you should go.”


Legolas lifted his head and looked into the eyes of Rimedur. Then he looked again at Gimli.


“Legolas, I will help you onto the ship, if you desire. I had hoped to be here to see you off.” The dwarf spoke, tears in his eyes.


But Legolas shook his head as the tears would not cease. “No,” he managed to rasp out. “I am not sailing yet. It is not my time to go.” The elf let his forehead sink down to rest against Gimli’s shoulder and the dwarf held him and let him cry.


A grey ship sailed out of the harbor, leaving two friends on the dock, oblivious to all else as the sun sank below the horizon.


The sun had set. The sky was still tinged pink and gold. Gimli felt his legs would fall off if he had to kneel in this position any longer. He stirred, feeling the elf shift as well. A sniff sounded, and a golden head, hair in disarray, lifted and piercing grey eyes, red rimmed from tears, locked onto the dwarf’s deep brown ones as they moved apart.


“What a sight we must make, my friend. I can no longer feel my legs, can you?” The elf spoke, his voice slightly hoarse. The corners of his mouth were twitching slightly upwards and Gimli had to laugh.


“Nay,” Gimli replied, shaking his head in amusement. “I can not feel a thing below my knees. Mayhap, we should attempt to straighten our limbs before we even consider rising?” Gimli chuckled.


The two shifted to sit side by side, legs outstretched before them as they watched the waves lap against the dock. Both grimaced as blood returned to their lower legs and feet. They sat in silence until they could feel their limbs again.


It was Legolas who broke the silence. “Never have I so wished you to be present, yet knew it was not possible. How did you come to be here, Gimli?”


The dwarf smiled as he answered. “Din sent me off to the Lonely Mountain. He figured I needed to be somewhere without a lot of reminders of you. But once I left, I knew I had to come here instead. It wouldn’t be right for you to go, without me here to see you off.”


“But what if I had already left.” Legolas tilted his head curiously to the side and looked up into the twilight sky, where the stars were beginning to peek out at them.


“I thought you probably already had. I needed to make my peace either way. Samwise said the ships always leave at sunset, so I would have sat here and watched another ship depart, and said goodbye.” The dwarf turned to look at his friend, and noticed something was different about the elf. “Why didn’t you go, Legolas? What happened?”


Legolas sighed and closed his eyes before explaining. “There was a strange pain in my heart that started when I didn’t come to see you last year. I felt it again in Ithilien and Minas Tirith after the accident. I didn’t understand it then. I didn’t understand it until I tried to step onto the plank of that ship.” Legolas opened his eyes and locked them with those of his friend. “I cannot leave, not yet. I will keep the vow I swore to you and Aragorn.”


Gimli’s heart pounded in his ears at the elf’s words. The way he was talking, what he was saying. “Legolas, do you remember me?” The dwarf almost feared to hope.


Legolas looked at his friend and narrowed his eyes. “The sight of a dwarf, running and screaming from a bat, will never leave me, my friend.” He grinned. “Yes, I remember everything.” Legolas laughed, the musical sound filling the chilly air.


Gimli grinned back, no longer caring about the stupid bat. His joy at having his friend restored to him was great. He lifted a work roughened hand to the elf’s shoulder.


“Well, in that case, I think you will be happy to know I found something of yours on my way here.” The dwarf turned to look over his shoulder towards the back of the docks. Legolas turned as well, and took in the sight of Moroch standing happily next to Celedae.


The elf smiled. “I was wondering how I would find him again. I am glad he found you. What do you say we head back to my room, leave our things, see to the horses and find some dinner?” Legolas asked the dwarf.


“Aye” Gimli nodded. A smile on his lips that would be hard to remove anytime soon.

Chapter 23: Confessions on a Stormy Night


Spilling Your Guts in a Cave


It was an interesting sight, though a familiar one to many. A large grey horse bearing two riders, followed closely by a large brown pony. The two unusual riders, one tall and slender, the other shorter and stocky, were headed southeast.


The two had traveled in silence since leaving the havens that morning. They had not spoken of what had transpired yesterday, when Gimli had found Legolas on the dock. For now, it was enough the elf was still here and he had remembered. A time would come for them to speak of everything that had happened, but it was not now.


A gust of frigid air blew the long golden hair of the elf back over his shoulders and the dwarf grumbled when he got a mouth full of it, as he opened his mouth to speak.


“Blast you elf, can’t you tie your hair out of the way when I’m riding with you?” Gimli bellowed at his friend, quite annoyed as this was not the first time today he had had a mouthful of the elf’s hair.


“No, Gimli, I enjoy it blowing free as we ride. Or I would, if you would cease trying to eat it! Perhaps you would rather ride Moroch, but then you would be eating horse hair, instead of elf hair!” Legolas pulled his hair back over the front of his shoulders, away from the dwarf who was grumbling something better left unsaid about elves, while eyeing the strands as though the locks were orcs, rather than simply hair.


Searching the sky, which was rapidly becoming dark with clouds, Legolas realized the weather would soon force them to stop. A storm was fast approaching and it would not be nice to be out in it, not even for an elf. Another freezing gust blew past them, and Legolas turned Celedae towards a rocky area, where he could just make out the opening of what appeared to be a large cave. They would have just enough time to find enough wood for a fire in the nearby copse of trees, before the storm hit.


The first drops of rain were falling when Legolas stopped the horse in front of the large opening. He dismounted and waited for Gimli to hop down. The dwarf frowned down at him.


“What are you doing, elf?” Gimli asked suspiciously.


“Getting us out of the nasty weather that will soon be upon us. I think we should stop here for the night, do you not agree? If we hasten, we should be able to gather enough wood to keep a fire going all night.” The elf answered, irritated that he was stating the obvious.


“But it’s a cave, Legolas.” The dwarf continued to frown down at the elf from atop Celedae.


Legolas breathed out heavily and looked sharply at the dwarf. “And I thought it was a tree!” He quipped sarcastically. “Do not tell me you are going to do this every time we need to seek shelter in a cave. Or perhaps you would rather stay out here in the freezing rain? I for one, am going to make sure it is unoccupied, then I am heading to get some firewood. You are welcome to join me or sit on Celedae all night, whichever you wish.” With that, the elf slipped into the opening, leaving a flustered dwarf sitting foolishly on a horse.


Gimli slipped from the horse’s back. He removed their packs from Moroch along with his horse’s tack and stuck it all under the overhanging rock. Both horses moved away, seeking shelter amid the trees, grabbing mouthfuls of grass as they walked. Gimli had no fear of them running off. They would both come when the elf whistled for them in the morning.


Grabbing his ax and muttering under his breath, the dwarf made off for the trees to get some wood for a fire. He returned with an armload, finding Legolas had searched the cave and found it unoccupied. The elf had also formed a ring of stones for the fire.


Legolas looked up as the dwarf entered. “We will need to get more than that to last the night. Coming?” Legolas ignored the pointed look he was getting from the dwarf.


As they picked up the dry wood, Legolas noted Gimli’s sly glances his way. The dwarf, it would seem, was nervous about the elf staying in a cave after the accident that had brought them to this place. Legolas sighed, knowing a long evening lay before him. It was time to speak of what had happened and put it behind them, for both their sakes.


Soon a fire was burning merrily in the ring of stones, far enough away from the entrance of the cave to keep the wind from stirring it or blowing rain in on it. A fair supply of dry wood was stacked further in, to keep it dry. The packs were in the back of the cave and two bedrolls had been placed near the fire.


Legolas stood just out of reach of the cold rain that fell heavily upon the land. He looked out into the gathering dusk. Gimli sat on his bedroll, watching the elf watch the rain. The tension between the two of them was uncomfortable. There were many things that needed to be said, but Legolas did not seem inclined to talk.


The elf did not speak until it was almost completely dark. “I thought you had stopped blaming yourself for the cave in, Gimli. It was not your fault and it is not going to keep me from entering other caves, no matter how much I may dislike them.”


Legolas kept his eyes looking out into the night, listening for the dwarf’s response. I came in the form of a heavy sigh.


“It is hard for me not to take the blame, Legolas. I know you dislike dark, closed in spaces, yet I always pull you into one anyway. Every time, it seems, something goes wrong. If I had stopped insisting you join me, and accepted you were an elf who belonged in the trees rather than underground, you would not have been hurt and none of this would have happened.” The dwarf’s voice was filled with guilt.


“If you stopped wishing for us to spend time underground, you would cease to be a dwarf. I may not like the darkness and being closed in, but I enjoy learning of you, Gimli. I would not know you as I do, if I had never followed you into the darkness. Just as you would not truly know me, if you had not followed me into the forest. These things are what make our friendship special, for what other elf or dwarf would do such things for the other? Cease your worry and your guilt, my friend. I am fine.” Legolas spoke with much conviction.


Gimli studied the elf and realized what he spoke was truth. Their friendship was unique and he needed to accept the gift the elf gave to him. Gimli did enjoy the elf accompanying him into the places he loved. A flash of insight brought the dwarf to his feet. He walked over to Legolas and put a hand on his arm.


“Thank you. I will accept this and feel guilty no least I will not once I climb that blasted tree of yours!” Gimli told him.


Legolas smiled brightly at this proclamation. “Truly, Gimli? You’ll come see my tree?” It was a fair trade. An elf’s fear of the dark for a dwarf’s fear of heights.


“Aye. And as we speak plainly with one another, just as I release my guilt, but it is time you stop keeping things from me, Legolas. What is still bothering you?” Gimli sensed the elf’s anxiety lingered.


Legolas took a deep breath and looked at his friend carefully. “It is not easy for me to speak of it, Gimli, but you are correct, I must. Do you recall that night in Minas Tirith, when I first arrived and we spoke?” Gimli nodded. “I did not speak of everything that night. I was ashamed to tell you, just how lost in the sea I had allowed myself to become.”


“Nay, lad. You told me it was bad, so bad you forgot to come visit. But that is behind us now.” Gimli would not let the elf berate himself, but Legolas would not let it go.


“Yes, but what makes all that has happened so horrifying to me, is I did not just forget to visit. I forgot you, Gimli.” Legolas swallowed and dropped his eyes. This confession was harder than he had thought it would be.


“I was standing looking west, lost in the sea and I could not remember why I stayed. For a few moments, I forgot you. When I remembered, I swore to myself I would never let that happen again. Yet, it has. I am sorry, Gimli. Sorry for all I have put you through. A difficult friend, I am.”


Gimli absorbed what Legolas had just told him. It hurt. But the dwarf reminded himself it was not all the elf’s fault. He suffered from something he could hardly control, especially alone. Legolas was not the only one to break a vow.

“There is nothing to be sorry for, my friend. Difficult, yes, but that is to be expected. You are an elf.” Gimli allowed himself a small smile and caught the twitches on his friend’s lips as well. “


“Legolas, I will not say it does not bother me that you forgot me. But what bothers me more is that I did not go to check on you. I know you get lost in your longing. It is not your fault, either. I got just as caught up in my work as you did. It seems we both need to renew our promises to each other. I will never again forget to make sure we spend the time together that you need to keep you from getting lost. I promise.” Gimli swore to his friend.


Legolas blinked back those annoying tears that seemed to spring unbidden to his eyes so frequently. He met the dwarf’s eyes. “Thank you, my friend. And I promise I will never again allow myself to become so isolated from those I care for, you especially.”


The two friends smiled at one another, knowing from now on, they would see much more of each other to make sure the vows were kept. It was a comforting thought. Time spent between these friends was never dull. They looked forward to the times and adventures to come.


That night, for the first time in months, both elf and dwarf, got a good night’s sleep.

Chapter 24: An Acceptable Interruption

“My king?” Arnien stuck his head through the door into King Elessar’s office. He looked somewhat anxious, yet pleased at the same time.


“Yes, Arnien, what is it?” Aragorn asked the captain who had thankfully intruded on his paperwork. Not that he was actually accomplishing anything on it.


Legolas had left to travel to the havens just over six weeks ago. Aragorn had never felt such a loss as he had felt losing his lifelong friend, not only to the sea, but also in the elf’s memories. If only things had been different.


The sadness had lifted some, by the wonderful news that Arwen was expecting their first child. Yet, at the same time, the sadness deepened. Aragorn desperately wished his friend could be here to see his child when it was born, could be here to teach him archery when he or she was older, could teach his child about the elves by just being there, as he had with the child Estel so many years ago. But it was not to be.


“You have a visitor, sire. The party asked to remain anonymous, as they wish to surprise you. I am sure you will appreciate the break from your work, and I know you will enjoy this visit, sire. I have shown them to the king’s library, they await you there.” Arnien told his king with a smile.


The king was at a loss, as he could not imagine who would come to see him while requesting their identity to remain anonymous. Arnien did not seem concerned in the least, so it was someone he knew well. Then he smiled. His brothers, of course. The sons of Elrond would do something of this nature for sure. Though, they would be more likely to just sneak in, if they wanted to surprise him. Now he was not so sure. But whoever it was, would be welcome to pull him away from staring at his desk, as he had been doing all day.


Aragorn walked quickly to the library, his mind once again turning to Legolas and that day the elf had sat there and told him he was leaving. The library was now a haunting place, and the king wished Arnien had chosen some other place for him to meet the mysterious guest.


Striding confidently into the room, Aragorn paused in the center of it. He did not see anyone here. The man turned slowly, looking around the room, but no one was there. He frowned. THIS was something his brothers would most definitely do. But how to avoid looking surprised when they popped out of ..


“Estel.” The soft voice silenced his thoughts immediately... It was not possible.


The man turned back towards the door and froze. Standing in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest, was Legolas. A small smile was on his face as his eyes twinkled.

“Legolas?” The man asked in disbelief.


“Aye,” the elf responded, straightening and moving towards the man. He came to a stop before Aragorn, as the king’s eyes began to glisten.


“You are here.” Was all the man could think to say.


“I am here. I would think that obvious, Estel.” The elf’s smile grew as he placed his hand on the man’s shoulder. Aragorn was too stunned for a moment, to return the gesture. He mentally shook himself and did likewise.


The two friends just stood there like that for a long moment, just looking at each other smiling. Legolas broke the greeting by pulling the man into a tight embrace. The king returned it wholeheartedly.


“I am here, and I am staying as I promised. Forgive me for the anguish I have caused you.” The elf requested.


“There is nothing to forgive,” the man responded as they released each other. “But how are you here? I thought...”


“That I was sailing because I could not bear the call of the sea upon my heart - even more so, when I could not remember you or Gimli. I have found, however, that the call of friends upon my heart is greater, and it would not let me step foot onto a ship.” Legolas smiled softly as a tear slipped down the man’s cheek. The elf brushed it away with a finger. “I have remembered everything, Estel, and I am here to resume my duties and title, if Tathar is willing to relinquish them. If not, I will just have to kill him to get him out of the way.” Legolas grinned as the king shook his head, a small chuckle coming from his chest. Yes, the elf he knew so well had been returned to them.


“No, that will not be necessary. That is one elf who would much rather follow another, than lead alone. Tathar has been somewhat lost without your presence. I think he will gladly give your duties and title back, once he has knocked you down in his enthusiasm to see you.” Aragorn replied. “I don’t know how it is possible that you did not sail, and you must tell the story, but it is enough that you are here.” Aragorn then realized there was a missing piece to this picture. The king looked behind the elf, then frowned. “Where is Gimli? Does he know of this?”


Legolas nodded, “I left Gimli in Aglarond four days ago. Perhaps, we should find the Queen? Then I will only have to tell the story once.” Legolas answered. Aragorn was greatly relieved the dwarf was aware of what was going on. He was surprised Gimli had not insisted upon traveling back to Ithilien with his friend.


“Aye, let us do that.” Aragorn told the elf. Then he smiled brightly at Legolas, “There is much we must tell you as well, my friend.” The man and the elf left the library side by side, joy filling both of their hearts. It was a wondrous reunion.

Epilogue: Listen to Your Heart

“Legolas, you cannot leave now! There is too much to be done and your people need you here! It is your place as the Lord of Ithilien to be here when your father arrives. You need to put off this visit to Rohan, my lord, just for a few weeks.” Tathar spoke with conviction in his eyes.


They were standing inside Legolas’s talan, high in the tree. The argument had been going on for over half an hour. Tathar was frantic. Legolas had only returned three months ago, to the joy of all. Yet, here he wanted to leave again!

“Tathar, I know where my place is. You do not need me here for the king’s arrival. You served in the capacity of lord for several months. You can handle this while I am gone.” The elven prince told his second in command.


Legolas would not be deterred from visiting Gimli. The events of the past months had strengthened the elf’s resolve to keep his promises to his friends. After leaving the havens, Legolas and Gimli had spent a week visiting the hobbits. Catching up on many events, though the accident and its complications were not mentioned.


They had then made their way to Edoras and spent several days visiting Eomer, who had quite a few words for the elf, until the dwarf told the king of Rohan to stuff them in his helmet and let his friend be. Lothiriel had laughed merrily, along with the dwarf and elf, at the look on Eomer’s face.


From Edoras, they had traveled to Aglarond, where Legolas was surprised by the warm reception he received from Gimli’s people. Legolas had stayed many days before heading to Gondor alone. It was time Gimli resume his responsibilities as lord of Aglarond, just as Legolas needed to do in Ithilien. Tathar would never keep the title once Legolas returned.


A joyous reunion was had in Minas Tirith with Aragorn and Arwen, who had more wondrous news. The heir to the throne of Gondor had been conceived and the soon to be parents beamed with happiness. Legolas received much teasing concerning his need to find himself a wife and have little ones of his own.


Fleeing the matchmaking royal couple, Legolas found himself quickly on his way to Ithilien, as Faramir, Eowyn and Tathar, as well as all his people, needed to know he had remembered and he was not sailing. A message also needed to be dispatched to Eryn Lasgalen immediately.


Welcomed with open arms by all in Ithilien, Legolas had resumed his title and duties in Asca Nen three months ago. Now, the king of Eryn Lasgalen was coming on an official visit, but Legolas would not be here to greet him. Nothing was stopping him from seeing Gimli again. His heart told him it was time.


Ithilien’s lord looked longingly towards his bedroom, where his pack was laid out, ready for him to quickly put in his things. First, he had to assure Tathar it would be fine. Thranduil had come before. Tathar had known the king his entire life. There shouldn’t be any problem.


“But MY LORD, Thranduil is coming to see YOU! That is the whole reason for his visit. What shall I tell him if you are not here?” Tathar was horrified.


“It is very simple, actually. You tell him I am in Rohan, visiting my dear friend, Gimli. He is more than welcome to come see me there. I am sure the dwarves would make him feel quite welcome!” Legolas laughed outright at the expression his words had brought to his friend’s face. Tather looked positively ill.


“I’m sure we would, but as I am here, there is no reason for you to abandon Tathar to Thranduil, Legolas.” Gimli’s stepped in the door, catching both elves off guard. Neither had heard the heavy footed dwarf ascending the stairs into the tree.


Legolas’s eyes widened even as he smiled. “Gimli! What brings you here?”


“Something told me it was time to make sure you were not wasting away while missing me.” Gimli smiled. “I thought I would surprise you, elf. I haven’t been here in quite a while.”


“This is a pleasant surprise, indeed.” The mischievous light was back in the elf’s eyes. “Whoever thought a dwarf would actually climb a tree!”


Gimli scowled at him, “I did not climb a tree, I climbed the stairs. And do not even think of asking me to stay up here when there are perfectly good rooms down in the caverns.”


Tathar quietly slipped out of the talan unnoticed. He quickly descended the stairs as the sound of bantering between elf and dwarf grew louder. No longer needed to greet King Thranduil or to talk sense into his friend, the elf slipped into his own talan, and grabbed his fishing gear.


A smile on his face, Tathar slipped off silently through the trees, heading towards the rushing stream that held his favorite spot to catch trout. As the elf walked, his ears still occasionally picked up the sound of elven laughter and dwarvish cursing. Yes. All was back to normal again in Asca Nen.


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