Legolas begins a new life in Ithilien but not all who go with him are eager and he brings with him pain that cannot be ignored.
Categories: Fiction Characters:
Aragorn, Arwen, Elladan, Elrohir, Éowyn, Faramir, Gimli, Legolas, OFC
Angst, Character Death, Het, Hurt/Comfort, Romance
May 04, 2016 Updated:
June 05, 2016
When you find your love changed is it possible to continue? When a man in clumsiness tears a friendship apart, can it be mended? When you grieve for a brother, consumed with guilt can it ever be healed?
1. Chapter 1 by cheekybeak
2. Chapter 2 by cheekybeak
3. Chapter 3 by cheekybeak
4. Chapter 4 by cheekybeak
5. Chapter 5 by cheekybeak
6. Chapter 6 by cheekybeak
7. Chapter 7 by cheekybeak
8. Chapter 8 by cheekybeak
9. Chapter 9 by cheekybeak
10. Chapter 10 by cheekybeak
11. Chapter 11 by cheekybeak
12. Chapter 12 by cheekybeak
13. Chapter 13 by cheekybeak
14. Chapter 14 by cheekybeak
15. Chapter 15 by cheekybeak
So....an experiment. Which involves me writing an OC for the very first time, and not just that, a 1st person OC.....and Het Legolas. So apologies to anyone who finds something they didn't expect! However I am quite enjoying writing this and I need to warn you it seems like it might end up being quite long.
Legolas is my love and I am his.
He is the spark beneath my fire, the sun upon my shoulders, the cornerstone of my hope, the reason I am here.
For long centuries it has been thus - he and I together - and I hope I am at least a fraction to him, of what he is to me. I think I am. He tells me I am and mostly I believe him.
But he has changed, my Legolas; he went to Imladris on his father's say so, and who can ever argue with the King? He went, he stayed and allowed Lord Elrond to send him across all Arda in the company of mortals. I knew he would go; I knew that one sniff of adventure and he would be off. He cannot resist it and to ask him to do so would be asking him to not be Legolas. I cannot do that.
And so I waited, although it is not in my nature to wait patiently, and he came back to me, as I always knew he would. But he returned encumbered with the sea and entwined in the lives of mortals. The sea, I have never seen and cannot even imagine; the mortals I do not understand. And so where we used to be one heart - one mind about all things - now there is a gulf, a crevasse filled with darkness and misunderstanding between us.
He says his love for me has not changed. I say, it cannot possibly still be the same.
Now instead of lightness, joy and exuberance he is distraction, contemplation and melancholy and I do not know him, this new Legolas, but still I love him.
He turns his eyes to the sky and the gulls, his face to the wind and the seasalt tinged air. He yearns for a place we have never seen, not his woods, not the trees that he loved so well.
The mortals too have changed him. They have wound a chain about his heart with which they twist him this way and that. I do not like them.
I have met the dwarf; he has come to Ithilien many a time. He is solid and strong and he loves Legolas, I know this. I know too that when they travel I need not worry, for he protects my love with a fierceness that is admirable. He keeps him in the here and now and stops those wild silvan thoughts flying towards the ocean, far away from us. I might even like him if I knew him better but he is a dwarf, a dwarf! When he visits I retreat, out to the edges of our settlement and I watch him from there, ever curious. ,He is a dwarf and yet Legolas loves him as a brother and I do not understand it.
When the King of Gondor comes, I leave, for him I do resent.
It was he who led Legolas to the sea, he, who more than any has harmed him. He is the reason we are here in Ithilien and not the Greenwood we fought so long to save. He leads Legolas like a puppy behind him and I am angry because of it. And that is not the end of it, for in the future he will die and Legolas will be bereft. It is I who will be left to deal with that pain.
I have never been to Minas Tirith. I will not go, no matter how Legolas pleads. It is he who has chosen to bind himself with mortals, not I, and I want no part of it. I do not trust them, I do not wish to be in Elessar's city of stone. It has caused many harsh words between us - he accuses me of jealousy; he says I must learn to share him, that he wishes me to be a part of all his life and if I loved him, I would. I say I share him always, with all our people for he is never just mine to have, he is theirs as well. I say I do not wish to stand and watch as he follows a King who would hurt him, who is not our King, and if he loved me he would not ask it.
And so Legolas' mortal friends do not know of me although he wishes them to. They do not see me and Legolas says nothing. I am a shadow on the fringes of his life until they have departed for their cities and left us alone. Only then we are free.
Legolas is my love and I am his, but lately it is a love full of discord, and we struggle to find our way back to the us we used to know.
Today, however was a good day. We roamed the forest on patrol, a group of us, and he was himself as he ran beneath the trees, as light as I had almost forgotten he could be. I watched him as he danced his dance and marveled at the beauty within him. I wondered then, how it was that he was mine, why was I deserving of this gift above all gifts. I love to sit and watch him move; it mesmerises me. How did a being of such light ever notice me?
"He is well today and it is good to see."
It was Taenor stood beside me.
Wise, strong Taenor, friend of our King, sent by Thranduil, no doubt, to keep his errant son's feet on the ground, to watch over his most precious last child and keep him safe. How Legolas loved him. He was his rock when the burdens of leadership overwhelmed him. Legolas was not meant to lead, he was not born to it but instead to be a wild, silvan, younger son. Still he leads us all here and he does it well, but when he doubts, when he convinces himself he cannot do this, Taenor is there, always at his side - his protector.
I did not even have time to answer before Legolas was upon me, laughing, trying to encourage me to join him in the trees, and how could I resist, so rare were the days when he was like this.
Those were the last words Taenor spoke to me; ever.
It had to end, the gloriousness of that morning, for we came across the enemy. Still they walked in our woods and persecuted its people. Still we could not rid ourselves of them. It was a small group only and no match for us, really but they did damage, - so much damage - to the one I love.
Haradrim they were, those strange, dark, painted men the like of which I had not seen until I came here. We came across their trail and encircled them, There had been reports of their movements, harassing of Faramir's villagers and an attack on two of our people as they foraged by the river, no less . This was why we were out in the forest and it seemed we had found them. Killing men was not something I thought I would ever do, but it is unavoidable here, and Legolas deems it necessary to protect Elessar's people. Always, it comes down to Elessar.
Still we tried to avoid the conflict, tried to use diplomacy, for Legolas, despite his words is as hesitant of killing those who are not orcs as the rest of us. They are fools these Men. They do not understand the strength of elves, and when they attacked our prince we had no option but to defend him.
And so that is why I found myself on the edge of a glade, dead men at my feet. For a moment in time, a brief pause in the chaos, a lack of the enemy where I stood gave me space to look for Legolas. If I thought he was a beauty amongst the trees, well, in the midst of battle he is more so. He is a dervish, a bright flash of gold, a deadly weapon and in that stolen moment that I watch he takes away my breath, so glorious is he.
But as I watch he errs, it is so unusual, so not Legolas, for as he puts an end to the man in front of him he does not sense the other approaching from the side. There is no time however for me to wonder at his mistake. I call his name in desperation but it is too late, far too late, and I can only watch in horror the slice of the blade across his side, the flash of blood, the stumble to his knees, for it takes him by surprise and he cannot retaliate in time.
My cry is high and urgent as the man raises his sword above my lovers head. It cannot be, it cannot end here, not after so long, so many battles before this. He is Legolas, he is my Legolas; he will always survive to come home to me. I am too far away, far too far. If only I had an arrow - I would only need but one to stop this - but I have long since discarded my bow.
I cannot breathe.
And then Taenor is there, his blow does not miss. It is only a second before the man lies dead at his feet.
And my life begins again.
Of course Taenor was watching Legolas, of course he would keep him safe.
He says something I cannot hear as he reaches out his hand to pull Legolas to his feet, a comment on his fighting ability no doubt as Legolas smiles in return, eyes alight with relief. They do not see the arrow and nor do I, so flushed with the ecstasy of a tragedy avoided are we all. We do not see it, do not sense it, until it is far too late. Too late for Taenor to avoid it even as he twists to the side, a last desperate attempt at survival. All that ensures is that it strikes in the worst possible place. It slices through his neck.
There is the briefest of cries as he spins - eyes wide with shock, a spurt of crimson blood and then he tumbles, face down beside Legolas.
I cannot believe it. This has not happened, it cannot be so.
Then I am running, running, not fast enough, never fast enough. Why was I not closer? why did I not shout a warning? Why? Why? Why?
The words echo emptily in my head for there are no answers.
And as I run the look of horror upon Legolas' pale face tells me this will be bad. This will be so very, very bad.
The scene that meets me when I reach Legolas is horrific.
I am a seasoned warrior. I have seen death in all its guises, but this—this is soul destroying.
Taenor is dead. There is no denying it; there is no saving him. He stares at the sky, eyes wide, and he is not there. They are empty, his face chalk white. And the blood, oh the blood, a river of it flows from him. It is as if every drop he had is laid out on the ground before me.
Legolas is covered in it. .
He holds his hand to the wound in Taenor's throat, a desperate, futile, attempt to stem the blood which still seeps around his fingers, even now that Taenor is gone. I drop to my knees beside him and I know, I know instantly because I know him almost as well as I do myself—at least I used to—that all is not well with him.
"Legolas, let go," I say gently, as I put my hand over his. "It is too late."
But he will not and I must release his grip myself, one finger at a time. He does not speak; he does not move; he does not see me--his eyes are blank and he has fled from us.
"How bad is it?"
It is Erynion, so long have I known him.
He has been with me through all the tragedies in my life, and he is here again in this. My closest friend, and Legolas', he kneels beside me. It is not Taenor he asks after, for a child could see from across the glade how bad that is. No, he asks for Legolas.
Erynion and I have seen this before, this numb and frozen Legolas. His thoughts will mirror mine. As I shake my head, he will know what I mean. He Was there too that day; we did not know what to do then and I am no wiser now.
That horrible day rises up to flood my mind as clearly as if I was still there. I never think of it; why does it accost me now?
We were so young then--all of us--barely warriors, and Legolas, only a novice on his first trip south. Erynion and I had been before, once, perhaps twice. This was our first time with the Prince. Not with Legolas but the Crown Prince, Laerion, loved by all, especially his brother.
Legolas was as flighty then as he can be now when he is happy. He was light and joy; it would make your heart sing just to see him. A fine warrior with promise but distractible and impossible to cage. He had been held back because of it, and because the King could not bear the thought of his youngest—so full of light, so untainted by the dark—venturing south. Legolas argued, pleaded and, in the end, sulked, before the King would change his mind.
Laerion was as bad as Thranduil. He would not trust his wild, erratic brother to any other commander, not in the south. He argued long and aggressively with the King, who had grave misgivings of his sons traveling in the same patrol. They should not be in the darkest places of our lands together.
But the King could refuse Laerion nothing, and in the end he relented. Just this once—for Legolas' first patrol—Laerion could take command. He was clear it would never happen again—and it never did.
And all went well at first, but we did not anticipate Legolas' connection to the trees. It was always special. They cried to him, he said to me one night as we walked amongst them; he could feel their pain, see their tears at the darkness that enfolded them. I should have told someone. I should have gone to Laerion and we could have pulled him back, removed him from the south until he had been trained to ignore them... I was young and foolish; I did not realise the danger this posed and nor did he, so I said nothing.
It was a simple mistake, a moment of inattention in battle. As the trees wailed, he listened and lost his focus.
It cost him his brother.
For Laerion had his eyes on Legolas, and when he saw him stumble, stepped in front. He loved his small brother like no other and would never let him fall. The arrow meant for Legolas struck Laerion’s heart instead, and he was gone. One moment our bright, shining leader, the next dead on the forest floor.
Our Golden Prince.
It took three men to remove Legolas from his brother ‘s body. He cried and screamed and would not let him go. He was a broken child.
But when they had done so—when the brothers were finally separated—then Legolas disappeared. He was there but he was not, curled in a ball; he acknowledged no one. He would not talk, would not eat, would not move. He walked paths in his mind we could not reach.
And so we returned to the palace —one prince dead, the other lost to us. I will never forget my King ‘s face that day. He blamed himself and he still does.
They took Legolas into the palace and the healers, and we did not see him for months. The rumors were that the Queen was the only one who could reach him. He did return, eventually, to our unit, to fight again but he was quiet and still, withdraw and solemn. Many years did it take for the Legolas of light to show himself again. We do not speak of it, him and I, but now I wish we had, for how will I ever find him now?
"Take Taenor," I say to Erynion. "I will tend to Legolas."
I know that some of this blood at least must be my beloved; I saw him take the blow.
He does nothing as I care for him. He is an empty shell. I know I cause him pain but he does not flinch. He does not respond to my touch or my voice as I stroke the hair from his face and whisper my love. I tell him it is all right but I know it is not.
The wound is deep and nasty; I am sure there is poison for it bleeds more than I would like, and takes me far too long to get some control. Legolas is silent as I pull him to his feet; silent as I lead him to the horse which will carry us home. It is only when we ride, with the wind in my face and Legolas slumped against me, his head lolling back on my shoulder, that I cry. Nobody can see, nobody will know, and the tears—for Taenor, for Laerion, for Legolas—fall. I cannot stop them.
They take him from me the instant we arrive. They are so possessive, the healers, with the ones we love. They clutch them to their chests and shut us out so we must wait, pacing the halls until they deign to give us news.
I will not pace. I will not sit and wait as if I am their pawn.
Instead, I go with Erynion to speak with Taenor's family. It is a hard job and one I hate every time I must do it, but I do it for Legolas; we both do—Erynion as his second and I as his lover, for Legolas and I are a pair, and as much as there is discord between us now, our people still see us united. They expect this from me and I will not let him down. Neither of us talk of Legolas and the worry that is on our minds until we are done.
It is as we make our way to the halls, miserable and depressed, that Erynion brings it up.
"He is as he was before."
He does not need to explain. I know what he means.
"What shall we do?"
"I don't know!" I react with anger, for I am tired. “Why do you ask me this? I do not know the workings of his mind!"
"You know them better than the rest of us."
"I used to, maybe, but not any more. Not for a long time."
He tries again—Erynion is nothing if not stubborn and determined.
"I think we should call for Elessar."
I turn on him in astonishment.
"What? Why? Why do you say that? What business is this of his?"
"They are close. He is a great healer. You know this, taught by Lord Elrond himself."
I will not listen to this. I cannot believe he even contemplates it.
"Does he know anything of Laerion? Of what Legolas was like then? I do not think so. He may have been taught by the Noldor, but he is still a Man. You would betray Legolas by telling his secrets without permission?"
"Well, he can hardly give permission himself! Perhaps they have discussed it."
I roll my eyes for that suggestion is ridiculous.
"He has never discussed it with me, yet you think he will have spoken about it to a Man?"
"Maewen, it is no reflection on you if he has. Sometimes it is easier to talk to those who are...not so close."
I am heartsick and weary and I cannot hear more of this. I turn my back to him and stride away.
"No!" I shout back over my shoulder. "You will not do this."
But I do not for a minute think it is the last I will hear of it.
I head to Legolas' rooms. Surely the healers will be finished by now. I am furious, my stomach churning, and it is possibly not the best time to visit, but I need to see him, however he may be.
I yearn for it.
Perhaps he will be awake and himself again; perhaps it was an aberration, this stillness, caused by the poison and they will have cured him of it already.
I do not even believe it myself.
Of course he is not, for that would be too easy, and my life is never easy. .
They let me in, reluctantly I think. He is asleep, but it is not a natural sleep for his eyes are closed. They must have given him something. I wonder why when he was so already so passive anyway.
I look to the healer for answers.
"How is he?" I look to towards the pale still figure on the bed.
"The wound is survivable. There is poison which will hold him back, and he has lost much blood, but he will recover."
I had never thought he would not. It is not the wound that worries me.
"And the rest?"
I do not need to elaborate—the healer knows what it is I mean.
"Perhaps it is shock. I understand Taenor's death was traumatic."
He annoys me—why do they beat about the bush? Why do they always avoid the truth? In the end it achieves nothing.
"You know and I know that it is more than that."
He sighs and gives up.
"In truth, we do not know how long it will last, or how to reach him. If he is no better when he wakes I will call our King to come. Of all who are left here, it will be him who can most likely reach Legolas."
I do not know why that disappoints me. It is only what I had expected to hear.
So I sit beside him and I do what I can—I watch him as he sleeps and stroke his hair; I tell him I love him for I do, and my heart aches with the pain of being helpless. It should be I who can help him. They should call on me
But although I love him I no longer understand him and my love is not enough. I think back to the days when we did not spend our time in arguments. When he did not leave me behind to be with mortals who will only hurt him anyway. When he would tell me anything and I, him.
He was the sun around which my life circled. He still is.
But life has changed us.
It seems so long ago now, and I wonder if we will ever get it back.
When Legolas opens his eyes I hold my breath.
Will it be him that looks back at me or will it be that same dead blankness?
He blinks slowly and frowns in response to the light before he turns his head towards me.
"Where am I?"
Slowly I release my breath. He is talking, that has to be good.
"You are home." Gently I take his hand in mine.
"In Ithilien," I quickly add for we have another home far from here and if he is confused I do not want him to think he is there.
He pulls his hand away from mine and snakes it across his chest exploring the bandages wrapped around him.
"It was not a dream," he sighs quietly and it breaks my heart.
"No, it was not a dream." I am unsure what to say for I do not want to upset him, I do not want a return to that state of numbness now I have a glimpse of him returned. Then he asks me the one question I wish he wouldn't.
"Where is Taenor?"
I reclaim his hand as I search for the right words to say this, but there are no right words. I will just have to tell him the truth and hope for the best.
"He is dead Legolas, we could not save him, I am sorry."
"I know that." He turns his head away, "But where is he, is he home?"
"He is with his family, do not worry, we have cared for him as you would want." He seems strangly detached and it worries me.
He pushes me off again and I cannot deny it hurts that he rejects my comfort. It seems a sign of how far apart we have grown and despite myself my eyes prick with tears. I am not weak. I am not one to cry over small things. Only Legolas can make me do that and it frustrates me that still he has this power over me.
He pulls himself to sit, his face grimacing in pain as he does so and I feel relief at that, not that he is in pain but that he feels it, instead of the placid acceptance of the day before. But before I can stop him, he swings his feet over the side of the bed and goes to stand.
"What are you doing?" I cry, grabbing at his arm. "You need to rest Legolas!"
I need not have worried, he does not have the strength to stay on his feet and after swaying briefly, falls back clumsily on the bed.
"I need to see them," he says, face screwed up with pain and frustration. "Taenor's family, I need to ... I should speak with them."
"It is alright, Erynion and I have seen them for you. When you are well you can go. Not now."
He looks up at me, startled.
"You have done that for me?"
"Of course I have." How can he be surprised at that? How can he not know I have his back in all things still?
I notice then his hands and how they shake as they sit in his lap. He is not as recovered as I first thought. I cover them once again with my own and hold them still.
"You need to rest Legolas, so you can heal. Please do not fight it."
I am not sure he even hears me.
"This was my fault," he whispers, "All my fault, it is just the same. All this time and I have learnt nothing." I know then he thinks of Laerion.
"It is not, Legolas. It was a stray arrow. I did not sense it, he did not-"
But he is crying, tears pouring down his face and it frightens me. Legolas never cries. Even when his mother left I did not see it. Except for that terrible screaming at Laerion's death, that is the last time I saw tears from Legolas.
"The sea was on the breeze, It is so insistent, I tried to ignore it but in the end I allowed it to distract me," It is hard to catch his words as he weeps. So that was why he stumbled.
"You cannot control the sea," I say, "We all know that. Do not blame yourself." and I try to wipe his tears away.
"It will never leave me alone. It weighs me down Maewen. I am so tired."
He has never spoken to me of the sea like this. He says so little of it, dismisses it as if it is nothing when I ask. It sits between us as an unspoken barrier. What can I say? I don't know how to help him.
"You could sail? I would go with you."
His refusal of my suggestion is so aggressive and I wonder, is it sailing, or just sailing with me he is so opposed to?
He lifts his hands from where I hold them, staring at them as he does so.
"All this blood," he says, "Can you see it? My hands are covered in blood."
"No," I lift his hand to my face so it cups my cheek,
"There is no blood Legolas, see, no blood. Do not do this, Taenor would not want it. He would not want you to blame yourself."
Then he collapses against me and my arms are around him holding him close as he cries out his grief and guilt. I do not know the right words to say. I only make things worse, but this I can do. I can hold him.
Legolas sleeps a lot.
The healers were right and the poison holds him back, it drains his energy leaving him no reserves. He is frustrated and angry and oh so difficult to be around.
Everything I do is wrong.
I say the wrong words, I am there at the wrong time, and I am not there when he wants me. I find myself looking forward to the times he sleeping. Then I can sit with him and tell him I love him without tangling myself in knots, I can touch him without being pushed away in rejection, I can be with him and pretend we are not tearing ourselves apart.
I think of our days in the sun, when I did not need to speak and he would know my thoughts. When we were together always and happy, no matter that our home was under siege and our lives full of danger. I remember returning to the halls from a patrol and the joy with which he greeted me, as if his world revolved around me. I could not get enough of him then, and now? Now I have to wait until he sleeps to be close to him, for while he is asleep we cannot hurt each other. As soon as he awakes it all falls apart.
Three days after our return I find him in his room at his desk surronded by shredded, discarded paper and simply from his posture I know he is upset. Briefly I consider walking past, pretending I haven't seen him but I cannot do that.
"What are you writing?"
He looks up in surprise at my question but it is only brief moments before the frown settles on his face.
"Writing to my father." He sighs then and pushes the paper away from him.
"I cannot do this Maewen. How do I tell him I have caused the loss of someone else he loves?"
He writes to his father about Taenor, no wonder he struggles. Thank goodness I did not walk by and leave him to it.
"He will not think that." I try to soothe him but it is unsuccessful.
"I think it!"
We have been over this so many times, that he should not blame himself but still he does. I do not want to go down that path again for it will get us nowhere and it will not help him write. We will simply end up shouting at each other so this time I ignore it.
Instead I hold out my hand.
"Let me see what you have written."
I pull up a chair and sit down beside him, taking the letter from in front of him. It is a mess. Legolas is not the best at letter writing on a good day. He resents having to sit still long enough to write them.
When he was on the quest I recieved some, from Imladris and Lothlorien, and Gondor at the end. They kept me going through the long separation but they were not great works of poetry, he did not pour out his love for me on paper, if I wanted that I needed to find another man to write them. No, Legolas writes about the strangest things, what chanced to be in front of him at the time, stories of stuffy Noldor elves, of the dwarf and the odd little hobbits who accompanied him and they made me laugh. It was as if I opened his letters and Legolas himself fell out. I have kept them all.
His letter to his father is stilted and uncomfortable. There is no Legolas here. Thranduil will read this and come running and perhaps that is not a bad thing.
"Do you want him to come here?" I ask carefully.
"Yes," he says, his head in his hands, "I want him here, I do."
"Then ask him, Legolas. Write this letter and ask him to come, you know he will."
His reaction startles me as he pushes back his chair and leaps to his feet. Once again I have said the wrong thing and he is angry.
"Do you think I cannot do this?" he cries, "Do you think I need my hand held like a child, that I cannot lead by myself. Now Taenor is gone I need my father to help me? I know he only sent Taenor because he did not think I could do this myself."
"He sent Taenor because he could not bear to let you go. He always believed you could lead us. You cannot blame him for wanting to keep you safe." But he will not listen to reason.
"I thought you out of everyone might have faith in me," he snaps.
"I do have faith in you. You know I do Legolas." I hold him by the shoulders to calm him down, to make sure that he hears me.
"It is no weakness to want your father if you are unhappy. No matter how old we are sometimes we still need them. There is no reason you cannot write to him and ask for him. That doesn't mean you are not our leader here. You are still his son, he is still your father. Even though you are our Prince and he is our King."
He will have none of it though. Although he calms, and least shouts at me no longer, he will not write asking for help. The best I can do is to write the letter with him, it is full of sadness and regret but there is no hint of the elf filled with despair and misery that he has become. Thranduil will remain completely ignorant of how much his son needs him, unless I write to him and my fear at what that may do to our relationship holds me back. We are hanging by a thread as it is. If I go behind Legolas' back and write to his father - I think it will be our deathknell.
I am not ready to let go of him yet,
I have just realised I should have been thanking UnnamedElement for beta-ing this for me! She has done a stirling job. I am finally learning the rules of grammer!!
I am alone when the messenger arrives to tell us Faramir has come.
Legolas and Erynion are with Taenor's family. Legolas finally has the strength to visit, but he does not want me.
"I will go with you," I said to him when he announced his intentions, but he would have none of it.
"I will take Erynion. You have done enough."
His words are sharp and curt and I am left feeling that, in fact, I have not done enough at all, that I have let him down; he finds me wanting and Erynion will be a better support for him than I. It hurts but I say nothing. I am not about to argue with him before he does this. That would be cruel. Instead I file it away in the box in my head where I keep all the hurts he causes me. .
So it is that when Faramir comes I am the only one to welcome him. We were not expecting him.
I have met Faramir before and I like him.
Of all Legolas' mortal friends he is the one who makes most sense to me. He is gentle and kind; he does not place expectations upon Legolas. He does not lead him to the sea or plead with him not to sail. They talk of ordinary things and support each other in this new land and I can see Legolas relax in his company.
We have been to Emyn Arnen many times, Legolas and I.
I know Faramir's wife. In times past she was a shieldmaiden who rode to war. She is much like me and I think I understand her. She does not spend her days embroidering pretty things or arranging flowers in jars instead of leaving them alive in the earth, what is the point of that?
I can talk to her.
They know of us. Faramir and Eowyn. Of all Legolas' mortal friends they are the only ones who know because I do not need to hide from them. We are happy in Emyn Arnen, when we are there it is as if time recedes and we are the same again. We are ourselves.
"Maewen!" Faramir greets me with a smile and immediately my heart feels lighter. I am glad he is here. He clasps my arm in welcome.
"How is Legolas?"
I struggle to find the words to describe the chaos that is Legolas at the moment. In the end I give up.
"Taenor's death has hit him hard."
"Of course," Faramir says gently, and moves his hand to my shoulder.
“and how are you?"
It completely undoes me for until now no one has asked me how I am. It has been all about Legolas; of course it has. I have not even taken the time to ask myself...how am I?
I am sad, grieving and lonely. I miss Taenor's steady hand and calming presence, I miss his advice, his quiet way of keeping Legolas in the here and now, and most of all I miss Legolas.
I open my mouth to answer him and suddenly, unbidden, my eyes are filled with tears.
"Forgive me," I mumble, for this is not how I would want to greet him. What kind of warrior am I?
"You do not have to apologise for the pain of loss to me." His voice is soft and gentle and takes the edges off the jagged hurt I feel.
It is Legolas' voice that startles us out of our conversation, and I turn my head to watch as he strides across the courtyard towards us. He looks terrible; pale and hollow-eyed he is obviously exhausted. Faramir sees it too because I hear the sharp intake
of his breath beside me.
But Legolas is smiling and it is the first smile I have seen from him in days. He is as happy as I am to have Faramir's company. When he reaches us Faramir envelops him in a hug and Legolas accepts it. It is strange the hugs these mortals bestow upon each other. I do not think I will ever get used to it.
"I am so sorry Legolas—“ Faramir tries to offer condolences but Legolas stops him with a raised hand.
"Stop, Faramir. It is too fresh—I do not want to hear it."
I glance at Erynion then, and taking advantage of Legolas' distraction in welcoming his guest, I whisper,
“How did it go?"
"It was tortuous. But he survived it, stubborn creature that he is."
That does not reassure me.
"I have a message from Aragorn," Faramir is saying. " I have not told him of your news. I did not think it my place. Have you sent word to him?"
Erynion glares at me for at my insistence he did not inform the King of Gondor. Unless Legolas has done it—and I do not think he has—then Aragorn will not know what has transpired here.
"I have not yet..." For some strange reason Legolas looks uneasy. "What does he want?"
"He is concerned about these incursions by the Haradrim, even before he knows of this latest one. He wants to see us both in Minas Tirith. He thinks we need a more... coordinated approach. I head there now." He gives Legolas an appraising glance. "If we discuss it tonight I can represent you."
I am relieved to hear he does not expect Legolas to go.
"I will go for you Legolas,” Erynion says hastily and Legolas frowns and shakes his head.
"I will go." It is the tone he uses when he will not be questioned.
"You are not well!" Erynion says in alarm and looks to me for support but I look the other way, I will not argue with Legolas here in public, in front of Faramir.
"We can arrange something without you." Faramir seems just as anxious but Legolas is having none of it.
"I am well enough!" and the glare he gives Erynion says he should hold his tongue.
"I will come with you Faramir." And he turns on his heels.
"Come. " He waves a hand imperiously in the air as only he can do. "Let me find a room for you. Erynion, see to Faramir's men."
We have been dismissed. He will not be listening to reason today.
It is late when I finally call in to Legolas' rooms—our rooms—but often they do not feel like mine any longer. He is there and he is packing. He has not let go of this ridiculous plan to travel to Gondor.
I would not raise my voice to him out in the courtyard, much to Erynion's displeasure, but I will say my piece now.
"You cannot be serious about this, Legolas."
"I am deadly serious." He does not even turn around to look at me.
"You do not even have the strength to cross the room let alone ride across Gondor."
"It is only a days ride. I will be with Faramir. You and Erynion overstate the danger." He has an answer for every argument and suddenly I have had enough.
I am tired, so very tired. Tired of caring for him while he pushes me away. Tired of trying to make everything right for him when it feels as if nothing will ever be right again, and in that moment it all spills out.
"Elessar has snapped his fingers and you will come running. Is that how it will always be, Legolas? You have no care for us, your people. We are no longer important are we? When you can have these mortals."
He turns on me then, eyes flashing with anger. He reminds me of Thranduil but it does not frighten me.
"How dare you!" His voice is hard and clipped.
"How dare you question my loyalty to our people. I go to Minas Tirith so their voice can be heard. Always, always it comes down to this; your petty jealousy, your uneducated prejudice, and I am sick of it. Who are you? Where is the Maewen I used to love?"
...the Maewen I used to love...it is a body blow but although the words tear me apart I am too angry to stop now.
"I am right here!" I cry throwing my arms out wide. "It is not I who have changed. It is you, and now I am not mortal enough for you. Perhaps you wish you were peredhel so you could actually become one?"
The look he gives me then is cold. It chills me to the bone.
"I have to ask myself, do you love me at all, Maewen? Did you ever love me?"
He turns his back on me.
He cuts me off, with those words, and his actions. It is my worst nightmare, the thing I have been most frightened of ever since he returned to me so changed. Despite his words how could he possibly love me still?
But I have gone too far, I know I have. If I am hurting then he is more so. How can I say such vicious things when he is grieving?
All I know is I cannot let him do this. I cannot let him go to Minas Tirith with only Men for company. They do not know him, even Faramir. They will not care for him, not as we do. He will tell them nothing even if he is struggling. He will run himself into the ground rather than show them any weakness. And so I swallow my damaged pride.
"Do not be such a fool Legolas. Take Erynion with you at least," I plead. I am not above begging him for favours or using blackmail when I need to, when it might be the only way I gain his compliance. "For your Father's sake if not for mine." I say, ignoring his question, and I watch his shoulders slump.
"I need Erynion here."
The fight has suddenly drained out of his voice and he is left despondent. What was I thinking? Why did I say such things? I am ashamed and in my shame my mouth runs away with me before I can stop it.
"I will go."
The words hang heavy in the silence that falls between us, then when he says nothing I repeat them.
"I will go with you to Minas Tirith."
He spins around then to face me with astonishment.
"You said you would never go there."
"I have changed my mind." I lift up my chin and look him in the eyes with a challenge. Now that I have said it he will not sway me on this.
"You said you would hate it, that a city of stone such as that would suffocate your spirit."
"I have been other places I have not liked. I did not enjoy Dol Goldor much if I remember rightly."
"And what if I do not allow it?"
"Then I will follow you on my own, and you know that I will."
I see it then, the very briefest hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth before he turns back to his packing. I stand still and wait as the silence slowly lengthens, watching as he folds this and that into what are strangely organised piles for Legolas. He is delaying; he is wasting time.
The words are strangled out of his mouth as if he has been forced into it. I think only I alone know what it has cost him to say that, as he alone knows what it will cost me to go to the City of Men.
I wait a second longer, until I am sure that is all he has to say and I watch him, my beloved, who I have just hurt to the core—and who has hurt me—how ever can we stop this?
"I do love you Legolas."
And I turn and walk away, shutting the door behind me.
And so I find myself on the road to Minas Tirith. A place I never wanted to visit.
Legolas and I do not mention the angry words of the day before, we ignore it, pretend it didn't happen. But they are there, between us, and I cannot let them go.
Where is the Maewen I used to love...It echoes in my mind step after step after step. Does this mean he loves me no longer? I am too scared to ask.
We approach the city, it looms above us from the road ahead. It is beautiful, yes, but also cold, foreign and intimidating. I wish I was anywhere but here.
"It is not as bad as you think."
Legolas pulls his horse abreast of me, and I assume he is trying to comfort but I am having none of it. Anxiety makes me difficult.
"What makes you believe you have any idea what I think?" The words spill out of me in a bitter rush.
"I used to." He says quietly, and I turn to look at him.
He is tired and it is stark upon his face. He was not fit for this journey and he has paid a heavy price but he refused to let us slow our pace though Faramir and I watch him with concern. He seems terribly vulnerable now and my heart twists within me. Can I not even throw him a bone of kindness? I resolve to try harder.
"Forgive me." I say, although my voice is stilted. "It is so different. It makes me uneasy, I am sorry." I am not sure if I am apologising for my words of before, or the mess of last night, or perhaps every single cross word and misunderstanding that lies between us since he has returned from the war.
He reaches across the gap between us and his fingers brush lightly against my arm.
They burn. He can still light me on fire.
"I will be here," he says although he sounds as if he doubts that will be a comfort to me.
It makes me want to cry, thinking on the wreckage that is left of us.
Sometimes I think the kindest thing I could do for both of us would be to retreat, back to the Greenwood so it was not so obvious, always, how far we have fallen. So we could move on and be free. But I cannot bear to be apart from him, no matter how miserable I am.
For now I turn my face towards the city.
"Well let us get this over with" I say as I urge my horse onwards, and he follows. His words of comfort left behind, ignored, as if I have no use for them.
They take us to a room where we must wait for the King. This annoys me. Do they not know who we are? Faramir is their steward, Legolas, the son of the Elvenking, but they would make us wait? Can they not see he is unwell? Can they not see the weariness upon his face?
I pace the small room in annoyance.
"Peace, Maewen, Aragorn will be here soon enough."
Legolas has lowered himself into a chair and now he seeks to calm me.
"How can you bear this place?" I snap. "How do you breathe? Have they never heard of windows? Surely I will choke in here!"
"You get used to it. You will not choke." He says wearily and the tiredness on his voice snaps me out of my cantankerous mood. I am supposed to be here watching out for him.
"We should call a healer for you. Do they have anybody who will know of elves?" I ask Faramir anxiously and he smiles.
"Aragorn," he replies, "Believe me, he will not leave Legolas alone when he sees him like this."
And Legolas scowls.
"I do not need a healer-" but he is interrupted in his attempt to convince us of his wellness by the opening door.
It is the King--of course.
It is Faramir he sees first and his face lights up, it shines. He is handsome I will give him that. Not beautiful like Legolas but still there is something about him. I can see why Men hold him in such high esteem.
"Forgive me the wait," he continues, "They should have taken you straight to your rooms and I would have met you there. They are so bound up in protocol."
And he isn't? That confuses me for our King is a stickler for protocol. Isn't that what Kings do?
"Never mind Aragorn," Faramir smiles, "We have survived it. If it keeps them happy who are we to argue." He basks in the Kings aura. He seems...quite unlike Faramir, quite unlike the unassuming Faramir I know.
Elessar then moves his gaze to Legolas, who has dragged himself to his feet. If he seeks to cover his exhaustion he is failing for he is pale, dark eyed, and haggard. The King notices it instantly.
"What has happened to you?" He asks in alarm and he crosses to the room to Legolas' side.
"What have you done?" He places his hand on Legolas' shoulder as if to steady him.
"It is nothing," Legolas mumbles ungraciously, "Lingering poison from a minor wound that is all."
A minor wound? I wonder if he has lost his mind. It was not minor by any stretch of the imagination.
"And yet you decided to ride here in this condition? Are you mad? Are you both mad?" His gaze sweeps round to include Faramir in that last statement,
"You asked for me to come." Legolas says stubbonly, eyes flashing.
"Not like this and you know it. Seriously Legolas do you have the brains you were born with?"
I do not know how to feel about him, he is confusing me. Should I be angry he is insulting my Prince or grateful he upbraids him for his foolish behaviour.
He lets his gaze drift over me and I see a question in his eyes. A question he soon gives voice to and it is then it all falls apart.
"Where is Taenor? Do not tell me he has let you out of his sight in this condition. Has he lost his mind?"
Legolas freezes, we all freeze.
His eyes are wide, I see the deadness creeping in, and I know what he sees. I know what memory accosts his mind. Taenor dead, white, still and staring, and the blood, the blood everywhere, so much blood.
I try, too late, to protect him. I do not want him to have to speak the words.
"He is dead." I say and my voice is cold, bitter...cruel.
As I say the words Legolas moves, he gasps, and pushes Elessar out of the way, so he can run blindly from the room.
"Legolas!" I cry, but before I can follow, Elessar and Faramir are gone after him in front of me.
He does not go far. We find him on his knees in the corridor, shoulders heaving as he is violently ill.
Oh, my Love. How can I help you?
I cannot reach him for Elessar is there, on his knees beside him, arm around those heaving shoulders, one hand holding the long hair of pale gold clear.
"Oh Legolas," he murmers, "Why did I not know this?"
"The death was quite......traumatic" Faramir says to him, his forehead creased with concern.
"And you did not see fit to tell me either." Aragorn replies to him and his words then have an edge of bitterness and anger but Faramir keeps his cool.
"It was not my place."
"Forgive me." Legolas says quietly as the spasms that wrack his body subside.
"This is hardly becoming."
I wonder why he thinks any of us care.... When he is so distressed why would we care for appearances? It is Elessar who speaks my thoughts aloud.
"There is nothing to apologise for Legolas, unless it is keeping secrets. Do you think I am so shallow as to care about a mess in the hall in this situation?"
"No. I know you are not." Legolas' voice is barely a whisper, as if he does not even have the energy to breathe, let alone speak and Aragorn hauls him to his feet.
"Come with me." He says and it is the voice of a King, the voice of someone who will not be argued with. A voice that will make even someone as recalcitrant as Legolas obey.
"Let me clean you up and make you decent, and we will see exactly how minor this wound actually is."
He marches him down the corridor and Legolas does not look back, his eyes do not search for me. He leaves me standing there, surrounded by stone....alone.
Well not completely alone, for Faramir is there and he takes my hand as I stand forlornly gazing after the two of them.
"He will look after him." He smiles at me, "Come, I will find Arwen. She will know the best place to put you."
"The best place to put me?"
"Your room," he replies, "You can hardly go in Taenor's for it is next to Legolas."
"I would like to be next to Legolas." I say. Where else do they think I would want to be?
"I am sure you would," his smile becomes a grin, "but as you heard, they are very uptight here and that would not do at all. Arwen will find you a room in the woman's wing."
"Why?" I cannot understand his reasoning, "What do they think we would do?"
"Exactly what you would do, I presume." He laughs, and I am left wondering what he means for what could we possibly do that would bother them so?
Arwen Undómiel is as beautiful as they say she is. She shines, she glows, she is luminous.
She greets me warmly with no hint of superiority, as if I am a long lost friend and it is quite normal for her to associate with wood elves. I, however, am overawed and tongue-tied and I hate myself for it. I stumble over my words and keep my gaze to the floor. She must think I am half wit. She is no better than me, I keep telling myself, but somehow I cannot convince myself to believe it.
She shows me to a beautiful room but it is far away from Legolas. I have no idea where he is and I am lost without him.
"How can I find Legolas?" I ask her.
"I will let him know where you are." She smiles, "Do not worry, Estel is with him and we will guard him well. He is quite safe without his elven guard while he is here. I know Taenor insisted he be next to him, but really there is no need."
I realise then that is all she thinks I am, a guard, a solider doing her duty. Not a loved one, someone precious, a beloved. Perhaps she is right. Perhaps that is all I am.
"We will have dinner in the study," she continues, "I will send someone to fetch you. Rest well while you can."
And with a smile she leaves.
I am left on my own, in this strange and alien place and without Legolas I feel vulnerable, almost frightened. It is silly I know, no harm will come to me here but this place is so strange, the people so different and I don't know where he is.
I want him, I want to go to him, to have him hold me and tell me all is well. But I cannot find him, and as his words from our argument the night before come back to haunt me I wonder....would he want me even if I could?
I am so alone. It is as I thought it would be.
I hate this place.
I am caught in the middle of a nightmare.
I have rested, I have washed the dirt of the road from my face and now I attempt to dress for dinner.
My clothes lie spread across the bed before me but none of them will do, none of them are suitable. I will walk in that room with the beautiful Arwen Undómiel and I will look like a tramp. I can feel the panic rising up within me. Why didn't Legolas tell me to bring something more suitable? Well I am truly losing my mind if I look to Legolas to provide clothing advice.
A knock on the door interrupts my hopeless task and my heart pounds in my chest. It will be the Page sent to fetch me. I am not ready. What should I do? I can certainly not go in my underwear.
Before I can even think about moving the door swings open—why did I not lock it? What is wrong with these people that they walk into others rooms uninvited?
Thankfully it is not the page.
It is Legolas.
He is improved, his face has colour once again, his eyes are bright, and he smiles. I frown as I wonder exactly what magic the King has worked upon him for he is not at all the weary, sickening elf Elessar led away from us.
"Are you not ready?" he asks me.
"Ready?? No! I have nothing to wear..." My panic spills out into the room. "Why did you not tell me she was so beautiful!" I cry. I do not even think to ask him how he is.
"Who?" He is genuinely confused at that.
"Arwen. Who else?"
"She is the Evenstar. You knew that. I did not have to tell you, and what does this have to do with the reason you are not dressed?"
"Legolas, look at these..." I through my arms out to indicate the pile of dresses before me. "Imagine how they will make me look."
And his smile widens. When he smiles like that he takes my breath away.
"You will make my heart sing," he says simply.
And I, turning back to the rejected clothing, distracted by my anxiety, let the words slip out of my mouth before I can think better of it.
"I did not know I did that any more."
A wave of confusion passes over his face. He does not understand me.
"Why do you say that?" There is genuine mystification there.
I look at him then, truly look at him. What do I say? The truth?
"We...you....There is so much wrong between us Legolas. I did not know you still felt that."
His eyes widen and he walks towards me, cups my face in his hand, strokes my cheek with his finger.
"Beloved," his breath is warm on my face and he says it like a prayer. "It is not that bad is it?"
Can he mean that? Does he truly not understand how bad it is? I open my mouth and I tell him. I open the box of hurts in my head, delve in and they all come tumbling out.
"Why did you not take me with you to see Taenor's family? Why did you choose Erynion? In the past we would have done that together. You push me away Legolas and it hurts!"
"I told you!" He drops his hand and I am cold without it.
"You had done enough."
"You mean I was not enough."
"No." his voice is firm and controlled, "I mean you had done enough. You have worn yourself out looking after me. You took no rest, Do you think I did not know that? It was a hard thing to do, seeing them. I wanted to protect you. Elbereth, Maewen, you make it so hard to look after you sometimes."
"I don't need looking after," I say sulkily.
"I don't care what you think you need," he spits back, "I love you, I want to look after you. It is what I do."
"If you love me...” The hurts keep coming. Now I have started I cannot stop, "... why do you not speak to me of the sea? Why do you keep it secret? Do you not trust me? I do not understand it and so I do not understand you, and you tell me nothing...nothing! You tell the dwarf, you tell Faramir, but not me!”
"The sea.." his shoulders slump as if he is weighed down by just the mention of it. "The sea is insidious, it winds it's way into everything, every part of my life. I wanted something sacred, something it could not touch. I wanted to keep you, to keep us, where it could not reach us."
The ironic thing is by doing that he has guaranteed the sea has helped destroy us.
"I make you unhappy Legolas, when I used to make you smile. You run away from me. You leave me behind, you choose your new friends over me. There is no space left for me."
"I do not want to choose!" He cries, his control finally broken. "I should not have to but you leave me no option. I love them, I love you, but you will not come with me. You will not try to know them and my time with them is short. What do you expect me to do?" He throws his hands in the air in frustration.
"Is it any surprise I am unhappy?"
So he has said it. He is unhappy. He is unhappy with me.
"I thought.." my voice wavers but I plough ahead before I lose my courage. "I have thought, maybe I should go back to the Greenwood. Then you would not have to choose, then you could be happy."
The look on his face is one of pure horror.
"You would leave me?"
For a moment we can only stare at each other. Then before I know it he has me in his arms, my head upon his shoulder. He holds me tight, so tight I almost cannot breathe.
"Do not leave me Maewen, please," he says, "I am Legolas Thranduilion, I do not beg, but I will beg this of you. Do not go, please do not go. Without you I have no light. I will not see them if it will keep you here. I will not..."
His words tumble out in a desperate, garbled rush.
I should feel triumphant. This is what I have wished for these long years since the war. That he will put them aside and truly come back to me. To only me, to the way it was.
Instead I feel sick.
I have turned into someone I do not recognise, that I would ask this of him. I know he loves them, these mortals. He calls Elessar, Brother, and he means it. How can I expect him to give up another brother when he has already lost one? Who am I if I allow him to do this? No wonder he asks where Maewen has gone.
If I let him give them up I will hate myself, and in the end he will hate me too.
I am crying and I cannot stop. My tears soak into his tunic and I wish they would wash away the stain upon my soul, the darkness in my heart. He is right, he knows me so well. I am jealous.
"No." I pull back, out of his embrace and I see there are tears upon his face also. He has never cried for me, or because of me. I have done this to him.
"You will not give them up Legolas." It is, perhaps, the hardest thing I have ever had to say.
"I will try... I will try to know them. I will come with you on your travels if you wish it—if you will help me. I will not leave you. I cannot leave you.” The last is but a whisper.
I only hope I can do this. The words are hard to say, the doing of it will be even harder.
He reaches out, his fingers trace across my face, so softly the touch is barely there.
"You will do this for me?"
"I will do it for myself." For I must, I think, if I am to live with myself.
"I am sorry. I spent so long waiting for you and then you returned so changed, with mortals in tow. I have not understood, I am only now beginning to." I drop my head in shame.
He draws near and I feel his arms encircle me. It is not the desperate frightened embrace of before, this one is loving and gentle. This is what we have been missing between us, this soft and gentle love. He murmurs my name into my hair as he holds me.
And all my hurts are washed away. His spirit surrounds me, it encompasses me with a love so deep it surely has no end. How can I be jealous of others when I am the one who has this.
Then suddenly he pulls away and breaks the spell. He is alight, eyes sparkling, fea glowing. He is transformed before my eyes into the Legolas of time gone by, the Legolas before Laerion, the Legolas of my childhood.
He dances over to the pile of clothes and pulls a dress out from right at the bottom, a deep turquoise beaded gown.
"Wear this!" His joy is so infectious I cannot help but smile in return.
"Why that one?" It is not what I would have chosen.
"Because it is my favourite." He says it with determination, as if that alone is reason enough and perhaps it is. Why should I not dress to please him and him alone. What does it matter what the Evenstar thinks of me, or these humans. It is Legolas who matters. Legolas and I.
And so I struggle into the dress in a rush for we are late. The Page arrives while I swear and curse whoever it was who designed dresses with so many fastenings but Legolas sends him on his way with a message to the King that we will be there shortly.
He sits behind me then and smooths the wild mess that is my hair, weaving intricate braids to control it. The feeling of his nimble fingers running through it, calms me for it is strangely intimate. I feel cherished, I feel loved, I feel as if nothing can defeat us for I have him on my side.
And when he is done and has surveyed the results of his labour, has turned me to and fro he smiles, a bright and brilliant smile that competes with the sun for its beauty and light. I bask in his admiration.
"You are beautiful," he whispers. "None will be looking at Arwen Undómiel tonight."
I almost believe him.
He clasps my hand and leads me through the corridors to where his friends await us. And strangely I am not afraid, my anxiety has evaporated on the breeze.
For I have him and he loves me.
I need nothing more.
I hesitate outside the door, hit by a sudden attack of nerves. What if I can not do this? But Legolas is beside me, his arm around my waist and he propels me forward.
"There is nothing to worry about," his whispers in my ear, "Faramir, you know and Aragorn and Arwen are not that frightening. I promise you. And the Elrondionath may glare a lot but their bark is worse than their bite."
"They are here?" I cry in horror, "Why did you not tell me?"
"Because you would react like this," he smiles, "And now you have no time to worry on it." And he opens the door.
The room, which had been filled with casual chatter falls silent as all faces turn look at us, stood, as we are, in the doorway and the King leaps to his feet.
"Legolas!" To me he does not seem pleased. "I told you to rest!"
But Legolas is unfazed, he simply bows politely. I can feel his hand in the small of my back, holding me up.
"I have rested Aragorn, and now I am here."
Elessar sighs heavily and rolls his eyes,
"A few hours is not what I meant."
"But I was hungry." Legolas says, and he is earnest, like a child, but I know he is teasing, I can see the light in his eyes. He is in a dangerous mood.
"I was about to send food to your room."
"And now you do not have to bother." He steers me to a chair and we sit, and all the while, he is smiling at Elessar, a guileless smile, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. What is he up to?
"Are you not pleased to see me?" He tilts his head to side as if he is genuinely confused. I know he is not.
The King gives up. It is obvious he will get no sense out of Legolas, he turns his attention to me instead and despite myself I feel the flush of red creep over my cheeks.
"Forgive me," he says, " This is most rude of me. Welcome...." And I realise he does not know my name.
"Maewen," Legolas pipes up beside me. "I have been remiss, I have not introduced you. This is Elessar Telcontor, otherwise know as Aragorn, King of Gondor and Arnor. He has several other names, he rather collects them, shall I list them all?"
"Legolas..." The King is not in the mood I think, for teasing.
"Very well, then," Legolas smiles brightly, "Another day perhaps. Aragorn, meet Maewen, Lady of Ithilien, Warrior of the Woodland realm, Beloved of Legolas." The last he slips in as if it is nothing at all and he sits back in his chair folding his arms in satisfaction.
You could hear a pin drop.
"What?" Aragorn's mouth drops open.
And so Legolas begins again,
"Maewen, Lady of Ithilien, Warrior of the Woodland realm, Beloved of-"
Arwen lets out a shriek of joy, her hands flying to her mouth. All of a sudden she looks so girlish, so not like a Queen at all.
"Legolas! You have been hiding her from us." she cries.
"Well not hiding exactly..."
Legolas' eyes are dancing with merriment. He is enjoying this. I should be angry, I should be furious with him. He did not warn me he planned to do this, or ask my feelings and I have a more than sneaking suspicion he does this purely to play games with his friends, but he is happy. Happy, glowing, mischievous, as I have not seen him for such a long time and it is infectious, his joy. I cannot help but smile.
"How long has this been going on?" Aragorn leans forward, elbows on the table. He does not look joyful, he looks annoyed...hurt even.
"How long?" Legolas tilts his head to look at me, he does not seem concerned by Elessar's bad temper.
"Longer than you have been alive I think Aragorn."
And the King leans back in his chair with a thump.
"Longer than I have been alive..." He repeats it out loud as if he cannot believe it and Faramir giggles, he giggles, at the other end of the table.
"Did you know this Faramir?" Elessar looks at him through narrowed eyes.
"It is not a secret in Ithilien," Faramir shrugs his shoulders sheepishly.
"And you did not tell me?"
"It was hardly my place Aragorn."
"You have been telling me that far too often today I think. Legolas is a bad influence."
"If you are only just discovering that now Brother you are sadly out of touch." It is one of the stern Sons of Elrond. I do not know which one.
"We have been telling you Legolas needs a firm hand for years."
He is joking....I think.... Legolas takes it that way anyway for he laughs, a light, bright, burst of laughter and it warms my soul just to hear it. I watch him, here among his friends, eyes dancing, face alight, joyful, contented, bouyant. I wonder, is he always like this here? Have I been missing this, by refusing to come here? He seems happier than he does in Ithilien.
It doesn't seem right that should be so and I try not to think on it, less it hurts me. I try to simply enjoy him for it is like watching a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis. My Legolas is back.
Sadly it soon becomes obvious Elessar was right. A few hours rest was not enough for Legolas. Slowly his excitment ebbs away, his laughter fades, he becomes quieter and quieter and I am concerned.
The others it seems do not notice, they laugh and joke, in high spirits, and although they look often at us, at Legolas who has his arm round me, who is affectionate as he has not been for years, they do not see his tiredness and pallor. Except the King.
He reaches across the table, placing his hand upon Legolas' arm to get his attention.
"You are tired. Do not be a fool Legolas." He is stern and I feel uneasy, there is an undercurrent between them tonight, and Legolas' teasing earlier was a part of it.
"I can look after myself." Legolas snaps back, his voice just a bit harder, with a bit too much of an edge to be polite.
"Well it appears you cannot." Aragorn withdraws and confines himself to pointed glares in our direction. I think I have never been more uncomfortable, still he is right. Legolas is being foolish and I wonder why.
Eventually it becomes too much for me, his strength is fading, but I know from long experience that if I nag at him to leave he will dig his heels in and do the opposite. There is only one thing for it. I have not been with him so many years without learning how to manipulate him.
"When will it be polite to leave?" I whisper in his ear.
He shoots me a look that tells me he is on to me, but then I realise how tired he must be because he plays along. He will use me to get him out of here without making it obvious he does what Elessar suggested.
"It is early yet, are you fed up with their company already?" He counters but it is a token resistance for appearances only and he knows I can see right through him.
"I would prefer yours." I lean my head upon his shoulder, I will play this game with him if he needs to it save face. Sometimes slowly and gently is the way to handle Legolas. I think perhaps Elessar has not yet discovered that.
He lifts his hand absentmindedly and strokes my hair gently.
"Let me get you out of here then" he says and hauls himself to his feet.
"Forgive us," He directs his words to the gathering in general and pointedly not to Aragorn. "Things have been rather difficult in Ithilien and Maewen is tired. I will see her to her rooms."
"Maewen is tired?" Aragorn's words carry a hint of sarcasm. Why does he just not let it go? Legolas is leaving which is what he wanted. Does he not know pointing out the obvious lie in the excuse will only make him stay. I think he has a lot to learn.
I stand hurriedly, before Legolas can react and stubbornly refuse to go, Elessar may not know him but I do.
"It was a pleasure to meet you," I say, "I am sorry I am fatigued." It makes me look weak but I do not care.
"It was our pleasure Maewen," I feel the brush of Arwens fea against mine. She understands, she knows the game Legolas and I play and she will help me get him out of here. I feel a rush of gratitude towards her.
As we retreat, Elessar calls after us,
"Legolas, look after yourself."
And I turn back to look at him, when Legolas does not. His face is etched with concern, he is worried. He only tries to care for Legolas but for some reason they are at odds tonight, I wonder why. Despite myself I am filled with a rush of compassion for the King. Legolas is enough to give you a headache when you do not handle him correctly. He is contradictory, stubborn, and beyond frustrating.
The corridors confuse me. They all look the same and I do not know how anyone can find their way around. Legolas does however, he strides with purpose towards my rooms. He knows this place like the back of his hand. Suddenly I realise just how much of his life I have been missing out on.
"May I stay?" He asks when we arrive and I wonder why he feels the need to ask. Of course he can.
"I will have to leave at dawn," he continues as he strips off his shirt and throws himself on the bed. "They are obsessed about appearances here and being discovered in your rooms will only earn me another endless lecture from Aragorn. I do not need another."
"But we are together....and they know that now," I do not understand.
"Not together enough for them." he sighs, "It is best not to question it and just make them happy, I have found."
"Not together enough?" We are entwined with each other, our feas dance a dance of love. What can be closer than that?
"They do not see love as we do." He sounds so tired, "They are strange, you will get used to it."
How on earth does the Evenstar manage to survive here?
I sit next to him and run my hand questioningly over the crisp white bandages that decorate his torso. These are not elven.
"Aragorn's handiwork," he explains before I even ask, "He has confined me to the palace," and he lies down, hands behind his head.
"He was not happy with you this evening," I am tentative about asking but I want to know. I have never seen them together and it has not been what I imagined.
"And I am not happy with him either," he says, "He forgets himself. I am not a child that needs lecturing. He is my friend, not my father and sometimes he forgets that."
I cast my mind back to that glimpse of the worry on the Kings face as we left and still I feel sorry him. I know from long years of practice the weight of worrying about Legolas.
"He is concerned about you Legolas."
"I am sick of people's concern for me. It suffocates me, I can do without it and I do not want Aragorn's. He feels guilt over the sealonging and overcompensates endlessly. I wish he would let it go. I have been alive centuries longer than he, yet I do believe he thinks me barely older than Eldarion at times."
"Is that why you were teasing him?" I ask, "I should be angry with you. You did not tell me you would announce us to all and sundry!"
And through his tiredness he smiles,
"But you are not angry?"
and I shake my head. Tonight I cannot be angry with him.
"Do not worry about Aragorn, he will get over it. It is how we always are." It is a strange friendship then I think and I wonder why they pursue it so determinedly. Still Legolas frequently confuses me, this is nothing new.
So I rise to undress and untwist the intricate braids in my hair and by the time I am done, by the time I am ready to fall into bed beside him, he is asleep.
True to his word Legolas departs at dawn. He wakes me with a kiss, whispers he loves me and then he is gone.
I am left alone with my thoughts.
I think back to yesterday and the ride here. My misery, my conviction we were falling apart, disintegrating before my eyes. Was I right? It seems so far away now and yet I am not sure what has changed. He has not, he is still weighed down by the sea and entwined with these strange mortals. He is still not the Legolas I fell in love with, the Legolas who left for Imladris but despite it all he loves me. He may have changed but his love has not. It is what he has been telling me all along.
And now I have to change. I only hope I can, I have to try and accept these people I do not know, I do not really want to know, into my life if I want to keep him in my life also. If I want him to be happy.
He does not return to escort me to breakfast as I thought he would. Instead an eager page knocks on my door telling me he has been sent by the Elven Prince. I cannot help but feel disappointed. Where is he?
He is not at breakfast either. When I arrive only the Royal family are there. Aragorn, Arwen and a child, a handsome child with curly brown hair, big eyes and a serious face. It must be Eldarion. Legolas has told me many tales about him. I know he loves him.
Elessar's face falls when he sees me alone. He is not pleased.
"Legolas is not with you?"
"I thought he would be here," I take my seat, trying not to take the Kings frowning face personally. A memory flashes through my mind, Legolas lying on the bed last night, "He has confined me to the palace" he said. I would not put it past him to be strolling around the city this morning just to prove to Elessar he will not be restrained, and I do believe the King is thinking exactly the same thing.
He runs his hand threw his hair in frustration and I see Arwen touch his arm gently.
"You can not cage him Estel. He will not allow that."
"Does he have no care for himself?" He replies, "It is a strange poison that affects him. He will not mend unless he rests......and eats."
"I will send food to his room. It will be there when he returns," she says softly,. "He is not a child. If he behaves foolishly he will pay the price. Let it go."
I feel awkward sitting there listening to them discuss Legolas in front of me but I have to agree with Arwen. He is being foolish, childish and shortsighted, but with Legolas sometimes the best tactic is just to let him do this. He is ridiculously stubborn and forcing him to obey you will only makes matters worse.
"He is grieving Estel," she continues, "Do not forget that,."
I wonder then how much she has sensed, how much of Legolas' chaotic turmoil of emotions she feels. She is Galadriel's grandchild. Surely she must have some ability of the mind. It makes me nervous to think of that. What will she see if she looks inside my mind?
"Where is Legolas?" it is the child who speaks, interrupting his parents conversation. "He promised he would take me to the woods when he came next."
"There will be no going into the woods with Legolas this visit Eldarion," Aragorn says firmly, "for he is hurt and needs to rest. You must let him do that."
"Hurt? Has he been injured in battle?" The boys eyes are wide and shine with excitement. A battle is obviously an interesting, dramatic idea for him.
He will never have seen the reality.
"Yes, little one," Arwen says gently, "and he is sad. You must try and cheer him up when you see him.”
"I will show him my new soldiers," the boy says confidently, and despite myself I smile at his innocent belief some toy soldiers will be enough to ease Legolas' grief.
He turns his attention to me then, staring at me with his big round eyes.
"Who are you? Where is Taenor?"
He is so blunt, so outspoken he takes me by surprise and I do not know what to tell him. I have no experience of children for we have had none at all, my people, for centuries and I am one of the youngest myself. How do I tell him about death? I open my mouth to attempt to tell him, but thankfully Arwen saves me.
"Eldarion," she turns his face towards her and softly strokes his head, "Taenor is dead. That is why Legolas is sad for he misses him very much."
The boys eyes, if possible, open wider and are suddenly filled with a rush of anxiety.
"You are wrong, Mother, for he is an elf and elves can't die. I know that, Legolas has told me." He turns back to me, "That is true isn't it?" he asks me, "You can't die."
I have to answer him and I am at a loss. My heart is pounding—how can a child be so terrifying?
"We can die," I say finally, trying my best to be gentle, "if we are hurt in battle, just like anyone else. That is what happened to Taenor, but you should not worry, we will see him again in Valinor and he will be happy there."
"Father!" the boy cries, "Legolas will not die will he? If he is hurt?"
"He will not die," Aragorn reassures him,. "Not this time if he does what he is told," he adds under his breath.
"Estel!" Arwen gives him a sharp look across the table, then swiftly she moves to send the boy on his way,.
"Legolas is quite safe," she tells him with a smile, "But he will be disappointed if he hears you have been missing your lessons. Go and work hard this morning, Eldarion, and you will see Legolas when you are done."
He stands then and gives his father and mother a hug before he is on his way but he stops next to me on his way out of the door.
"What is your name?" He asks sweetly.
"I am Maewen," I say,. "I am a friend of Legolas. He has told me all about you."
"Oh!" He exclaims, "He has told me of you, too!"
"He has?" Elessar leans forward with a frown and I am surprised at that as well. Legolas has told this child about me?
"He said you were the most beautiful lady in all of the world," he leans over then to whisper,
"He is wrong,though, because my mother is the most beautiful, but you are quite pretty." And as he trots out of the room I cannot help but smile. .
It is a good ten minutes, during which Arwen asks about my sleep and how I find the city and Elessar sits in moody silence, before Legolas appears. He strides into the room as if he has not a care in the world, acknowledges no one and throws himself into a chair by my side.
"Where have you been?" The tone of the King's voice suggests he is not to be messed with.
Legolas takes his time answering,. instead he helps himself to bread and jam, casually as if there is no hint of tension in the air.
"To the stables, to check the horses are well." He does not even raise his head when he eventually answers.
"Why? Legolas, do you do this just to annoy me? I told you to rest." Elessar’s frustration spills over.
"They are my responsibility."Legolas' voice is tight and clipped.
"Surely Maewen could have done that for you." Elessar just will not let it go.
"Leave her out of it!" Legolas hisses and clanks his knife angrily against his plate, the sound ringing around the room.
I touch his arm to try and calm him for I do not understand this mood that has descended upon him. He was bright and cheerful earlier.
"I would have gone if you had only asked," I say quietly.
And he shoots me a look that silences me instantly, a look that tells me to stay out of this. I duck my head and stare at my plate. I will not be sticking it over the parapet again.
It is Arwen who takes up the challenge to ease the tension,
"You missed Eldarion, Legolas," she says cheerfully as if it is just a normal everyday conversation we are having, He is keen to see you, as always!"
"Oh!" Legolas' voice completely changes, it is light and enthusiastic,” I told him I would take him to the woods this visit."
"I have told him that is not happening." I cringe at Elessar's sternness and Legolas lifts his head and frowns.
"You do not get to tell me what I will and will not do,” he says icily and there is a challenge in his eyes.
"Eldarion is my son and I do say what he will do. You are not fit enough to protect him."
I brace myself for the explosion but it does not come, perhaps Legolas knows all too well that Elessar is right about this. He says nothing and silence descends upon the room. It is the King who breaks it.
"So apparently," he says casually, "Eldarion knows all about your love life as well. Is it only I who know nothing?"
"Will you stop this?" Legolas slams his mug onto the table. "Will you let it go.? Eldarion knows nothing. He is a child. What do you take me for? I told him I knew the most beautiful woman in existence. A tall tale, that is all." and he pushes his plate of barely eaten food away from him.
"Where is Faramir?" he asks, "I thought you wished to talk about the Haradrim. Can we get on with it?”
And suddenly, suddenly as if a shaft of light illuminates it for me, I understand. I know what this mood is about, I know where it has come from. For talking about the Haradrim means talking about Taenor, thinking about Taenor. No wonder Legolas is all sharp edges and prickliness for he must be dreading it.
I reach under the table and take his hand, it lies warm and solid in mine, and I squeeze it to tell him 'I know.'
"Faramir is with his men," Elessar says in response,."He had other business that needed seeing to so I have told him we will meet later, after lunch."
"Well I do not wish to wait." Legolas pulls his hand from mine, pushes back his chair and stands.
"You and I can discuss this together surely, then he can join us later. I wish to get this over with."
Elessar sighs and suddenly he looks very weary.
"If you insist Legolas, we can talk now." And he stands as well.
I wish I could tell him. I wish I could explain, the horror of Taenor's death, the blood, the look on Legolas' face. The way he retreated into himself, that nothingness that he became. The trauma it caused him, its similarity to Laerion.
I realise I do not know if the King is even aware of Laerion. If I could somehow tell him all of that he would understand this difficult, infuriating Legolas. He would know it was all just pain, terrible, terrible pain.
But I cannot tell him.There is no way, sitting here, in front of Legolas. I am stuck. And so I watch the two of them depart and I can only hope Elessar has enough sense, knows Legolas well enough, to be careful.
I stare at Legolas' receding back as he departs with Elessar. I am worried for him. He is not as well as I thought and it is more than the poison that weighs him down.
"Estel will look after him." Arwen says as if she can read my thoughts...perhaps she can?
"He does not know-" I say before I stop myself. Legolas would not want me to spill his secrets. But Arwen knows more than I thought and in truth I am not really that surprised.
"He does not know the extent of Legolas' grief for Taenor? You are right, but still he knows he has lost him. He loves Legolas, he will not hurt him."
I hope she is right.
I realise I have no idea how to get to my rooms and I hesitate. I could walk the corridors in pretence and hope I stumble across them but that seems foolish in the extreme. To my eternal gratitude Arwen saves me before I must confess to my ignorance as she stands and smiles.
"I must get to know you! Let me give you a tour of the palace and we can talk."
I think I might like her. She is certainly not what I expected at all.
I do not like the palace. It feels claustrophobic and cold but I do not tell Arwen that so I am surprised then when she takes me down a narrow walkway that opens out into a garden, a wild tangle of shrubs, flowers and trees. It is not cultivated and perfectly laid as I expected gardens in this place to be. It is as if the woods themselves have come inside the city.
"Oh!" I cannot conceal my excitement. It is a breath of fresh air for my soul.
She smiles with genuine delight,
"I knew you would like this. It is Legolas' favourite place when he is here!"
I can imagine it is. An oasis within the stone, this place will soothe him and remind him of home. Legolas is always happiest amongst his trees—at least he used to be—before the sea longing. Now I am not sure he is truly happy anywhere.
As I wander among the wilderness Arwen heads for an almost buried grapevine I had not even seen and deftly picks two bunches of ripe, luscious, grapes.
"Estel loves these," she smiles, "Shall we take the men some refreshment? They will benefit from a break from the tedium of political planning."
"They will benefit from a break from each other," It slips out as I think about the tension that flowed between them at breakfast.
Arwen turns and she is suddenly all seriousness,
"Legolas can be difficult," she says. "He will not accept help when he needs it and it is frustrating, Estel only tries to care for him, and he is hurt by the secrets Legolas keeps."
And I wonder if she feels I am criticising her husband, perhaps I am. I know she is right. I know Legolas is his own worst enemy at times but it stings. I can say these things but not her, so I reply in kind.
"Legolas says Elessar's care is suffocating. He says he does not need it."
"But he does need it." Arwen says softly and I know she is right again.
"They are not as I imagined," I admit.
"Legolas calls Elessar his brother but all they do is bicker."
"Is that not what brothers do?" Arwen asks, "My brothers are at each other's throats constantly unless someone else attacks them."
My thoughts drift to Laerion. Did he and Legolas argue like this? I do not know. Laerion was so much older and the Crown Prince. I worshiped him from afar as we all did but I did not know him and Legolas and I were not together then as we are now. I do remember Legolas arriving at training muttering under his breath about his brothers interference in his life—so perhaps they did.
I look up to see Arwen watching me closely.
"I was thinking of Laerion," I say to explain my inattention.
"Ah," Arwen says as if that explains everything, "Laerion, Legolas talks far too seldom about him."
"Legolas talks not at all about him." I reply,
"Not even to you?" Her features crease up in concern.
"Not even to me."
She thinks on that, her face solemn but then she smiles and gathers another handful of the grapes.
"You are right today I think," she says with conviction, " Legolas is full of grief and Estel is frustrated and hurt. They do need the benefit of a break from each other." She turns to me then and holds out her hand.
"Will you come?"
And so, of course, I do.
As it turns out we are too late.
The shouting can be heard as we walk down the corridor. Arwen sighs loudly when it reaches our ears,
"Estel," she says quietly to herself, "Could you not have simply ignored this, just this once?"
There is a guard standing silently outside the door to Elessar's study and he looks terrified.
"My Lady!" He says with alarm as Arwen smiles at him and reaches to open the door,
"I do not think you should go in there....they have been throwing things."
"They will not throw things at me." She replies, chin in the air, she sails through the door and I am left to follow reluctantly behind.
Elessar and Legolas stand face to face. I can tell, instantly, Legolas is furious. His anger hits me like a brick wall as I enter. It is all I can feel.
He spins to look at me.
"We are leaving." he snaps, his voice as sharp as a knife edge, and he moves towards me.
"Legolas!" Elessar grabs his arm and holds him back, "Do not be ridiculous!"
"Oh so now I am ridiculous as well as faithless?" Legolas spits back, he is breathing fire today.
"I did not say that!"
"Legolas-" Arwen touches him on the arm, as she begins to speak, to plead with him, I imagine, to see sense. But he throws her off and snatches his arm from Elessar's grasp.
"Do not play your mind games with me!" he snarls at her, "I have told you before. Stay out of my head!"
And he storms past her, towards me, grabbing my hand as he passes and I am forced to follow him out of the room.
"Legolas," I cry as I stumble after him. It is a struggle to keep up.
"What are you doing?"
"I told you. We are leaving." His voice drips off me like ice and it is all he will say as he strides through the corridors.
He heads for his rooms and when we reach them he is like a dervish, clothes are torn out of the closet, his belongings scattered across the bed as he packs in the most haphazard manner ever. I am forced to stand and watch until I can stand it no longer and I step forward grasping his hands in mine to keep him still.
"What has happened? Please tell me Legolas, why are you so angry?" I ease the shirt he is holding out of his fingers and place it gently on the bed.
For a moment he simply stares and his eyes are filled with a grief I do not understand.
He takes a shuddering breath then in an attempt to calm himself.
"He questions my friendship." In the end he says it so quietly I have to strain to hear.
"What do you mean?" I ask for the words make no sense to me.
"He is angry, he tells me I am no real friend for I have kept things from him. He asks why he did not know of Taenor, or of my injury, why he did not know of you. He says if we were truly the friends he thought we were, I would have told him."
And I realise this is all my fault.
If I had let Erynion call for Elessar as he wished when Legolas was ill this would not be happening. If I had not resisted all Legolas' efforts to mix with his mortal friends, if I had not refused to allow him to speak of me, all would be well now.
"Did you not tell him I asked you not to speak of me? Did you not explain it was my fault he did not know?"
"No!" Legolas snatches his hands from mine and walks away from me, turning when he reaches the window.
"No. What do you take me for? What kind of Prince would hold one of his people up for ridicule and scorn to save his own skin?"
"I am not simply one of your people, and you are not only my Prince. You are my lover. I do not need you to protect me when I have done wrong Legolas. Not when you bring pain upon yourself by doing so."
"I am your Prince and I will not use a woman's paranoia as an excuse to protect myself. It was my decision not to tell Aragorn of us and mine alone." And with that he turns his back to me.
I am so angry with him. How dare he condescend me so badly. How dare he lord himself over me. We have always been equals when we are together, not on the field, not in the council chamber, but alone together as we are here—he has never spoken to me like this. I want to scream and yell and rage at him but where will that get me?
Instead I swallow it all down.
"So be it then Legolas, if you want it that way." I say quietly and I turn and walk away from him.
"Pack your things." He snaps harshly without even turning to see me. "We will leave as soon as you are ready."
"And if I do not wish to go?"
"That is an order Maewen. I am leaving and you will come with me."
He never gives me orders. Not like that. If I did not know that he was hurting so badly I would walk out of here and never come back, I think. But I do know it. I know that Elessar has hurt him and I know that he is not himself. I cannot free myself from the image of that passive, silent Legolas I bought back to Ithilien after Taenor's death.
I will not be letting him ride all the way to Ithilien alone. He is my lover first and foremost but he is my Prince also and it is my duty to protect him.
"As you wish Legolas," I say in the end, for what else is there for me to say.
I will go with him, I will watch his back and get his stubborn, wilful self back to our people. But I will not do it because he orders me. I will not do it because he demands it. I do it because I want to, because despite it all I love him, because he may not want to admit it but I know I am the one at fault here. I have come between his friendship with Elessar and caused him this pain.
But I will not forget how he has spoken to me here. Hurt or no hurt, we will be speaking again about this.
And so I leave and I close the door silently behind me as I go.
When I return to Legolas' room, dragging my possessions behind me as ordered, Faramir is there.
It is such a relief to see him. Calm, steady, Faramir will get Legolas to see sense surely. I wonder briefly why it is I am always so relieved to see Faramir.
Legolas and he are in deep discussion but it is quickly apparent he is not getting anywhere. Legolas stands, his back to the wall, pressed against it as if he wished he could disappear through to the other side. His arms wrapped tight across him, his posture screams defensiveness.
He is not listening.
"They were careless words only Legolas. Can you not give him the benefit of a second chance? He deserves that much surely."
But Legolas stubbornly shakes his head and Faramir, I see, is losing patience.
"Have you never said something you later regret?" He asks.
Legolas' gaze flicks to me then and he meets my eyes. I know he thinks of our argument before we left Ithilien and the harsh words we threw at each other.
"I have said things that I regret. Things I should have kept to myself, or waited for a more appropriate time to mention." He says to Faramir, "but I have never said something I did not mean."
That hurts. He meant it when he said I was jealous, uneducated and prejudiced. When he said that he was sick of me.
"Aragorn does not mean your friendship is not valued. You know that." Faramir will not give up. How he remains so calm I do not know.
"Anger frees us to say the things that are in our hearts."
I know what Legolas means. All those hidden hurts we bury deep that spill out when anger unlocks our mouths. But I do not think for a moment Elessar truly believes his friendship to be unworthy. He has simply, rashly, chosen the wrong words to describe his hurt and Legolas clings to them determinedly.
"I have left my home to follow him here," he cries, "because he asked for it. My people live in Gondor, we fight the wars of Gondor, they die for Gondor! And that is not enough? Still he says I am not a true friend to him. What more does he want?"
And that is it. With those words it all becomes clear to me, this strange mood of Legolas'. This is not about Elessar. It is not about him at all, it is about Legolas.
Legolas and his guilt.
Guilt, because if Legolas was not here, if he had not followed Elessar to this land then Taenor might still be alive in the Greenwood. Guilt, because in Legolas' mind the fault in Taenor's death lies solely upon his decisions, and his friendships.
I reach gently for his arm, to try and calm him, to give my support, and he turns to me and blinks, startled, as if he had forgotten I was even there.
"Let us go." He says then. "I have nothing more to say." And he turns his back on Faramir, shoulders his pack and strides out of the room without so much as a glance back.
"Maewen!" Faramir clasps my arm urgently as I move to follow.
"This is foolishness. You must stop him."
"He will go with or without me and it is better he is not on his own."
"He is being unreasonable!" Faramir does not often show his frustration like this. It is an unnerving sight.
"Legolas is often unreasonable. You do not understand him." And I realise that it is true. As much time as Faramir and Legolas spend together, as deeply as his friendship with Elessar goes, still they do not understand us truly.
"This is about Taenor.....and Laerion." I say, "Tell Elessar that. Tell Arwen, she will understand."
"Maewen!" Legolas calls my name and his tone says he will not be ignored.
"I must go!" I turn to Faramir one last time as I leave the room to follow my Prince.
"Tell Arwen." I say firmly, "Tell her."
Let her explain it to Elessar.
We are not far along the corridor, Legolas' fury spreading behind him like a cloud, when we stumble across the child. It could not be worse timing.
"Legolas!" His eyes light up and his face is illuminated by a brilliant smile. "I have been looking for you!"
"Eldarion," Legolas is caught off guard, he stumbles over his words as he draws to a halt
"I am sorry little one, I am busy."
Eldarion looks at him seriously, his eyes take it all in.
"Where are you going? Why do you have your pack with you? Father said you were hurt and resting."
I watch as Legolas drops to his knees beside the boy, his anger seems to have drained away. There is no hint of it when he speaks at least.
"I have to go home Eldarion."
"No! You have only just got here. I have not seen you! I was going to show you my soldiers. Why do you have to go?"
Legolas takes a deep shuddering breath then, to calm himself I think.
"I am not happy here little one. I want my home, you understand that." He lifts his hand to cup the boys cheek.
"Is it because Taenor is dead?"
I cannot help but gasp. Why does the child mention that?
Legolas quickly turns his head and I can see the tears glistening on his cheeks. He is not fast enough, for the boy sees them too, and lifts his small hands to wipe them away.
"Don’t cry Legolas. I will call Father. He will make it better."
It is the belief of a small child that his father can make the whole world right again.
I watch as Legolas envelops the boy then, in a hug, and holds him tight to his chest. The tears still flow and I do not know who he cries for. Taenor? Elessar? himself...the boy? He dips his head, and plants a kiss on the top of the brown curls, before he lets him go.
"Make sure you are good little one." he says quietly, "I will see you again, but now I must go." He places his hand gently upon the boys head as he passes and nods over his shoulder for me to follow.
"Will we go to the woods next time Legolas?" the boy calls after us as we make our way down the corridor.
"Next time." Legolas calls back,
"Do you promise?"
The boys high voice floats down towards us as we move away from him and Legolas stops, rubs his face with his hand to remove the remaining tears.
"How can I promise him that?" he murmurs, to himself, I think, not to me.
"You will be back." I say and I know this is important, for him and the boy.
"Do you promise Legolas?" The boys voice is tense now, tears lurk not far away.
Legolas takes a deep breath as he stands there, stranded in the midst of his flight.
"Elbereth, must he make this so hard?" He say to no-one in particular.
I touch his shoulder then, gently,
"Give him this Legolas, he is only a child."
"And if It is a promise I cannot keep?"
Acting on impulse alone I clasp his hand.
"I will make sure you keep it."
And so he turns, for one last look at the boy.
"I promise Eldarion!" He calls as he lifts his hand and smiles, before we turn the corner and the boy disappears behind us.
Legolas says nothing else then until we reach the stables. He says nothing beyond the barest instructions to the stableboy as we ready our horses. He says nothing to me.
I gather my courage as I watch him, for I must make one last attempt to change his mind from this course. I am unlikely to succeed but I must try.
"Legolas," he looks up as I say his name,
"The day is half done. We have no chance of nearing Ithilien by dusk. Why not wait? We can leave at dawn tomorrow if you still wish it."
He scowls then, he does not welcome my input.
"No. We will sleep under the stars tonight. We have camped in far more dangerous places than the road to Ithilien." He is right, this is child’s play compared to our patrols in the South, but I would rather he slept here in the city, in a bed. He is so tired.
"If you would just-" I mean to suggest he rest, talk to Arwen, talk to anyone, but he cuts me off before I can even start.
"We go now!" And he leads the horse past me, head in the air, ignoring me as he goes. I have no choice but to follow.
Elessar is there as we leave the stables and Legolas freezes as he sees him. The king walks to stand in front of him so he cannot pass.
"Legolas," he places a hand upon his shoulder but Legolas simply shrugs it off.
"Please reconsider this." Elessar is pleading now. "I worry about your health. You were in a poor state yesterday when you arrived."
"I am well enough." Legolas' voice is tight and cold, like chipped ice.
"You must give me a chance to mend this....please... My words were clumsy ones. I did not mean this as you have taken it." It makes me uncomfortable to see the King beg. I do not think it is something he does very often, if at all.
"I must do nothing. Do not order me Elessar." I cringe at the use of the formal name. That is the name Erynion and I call the King, not Legolas.
Elessar flinches too, so Legolas has landed a blow with that. Still he doesn’t give up. The King of Men is made of sterner stuff than that. Perhaps he knows if he lets Legolas walk away now this rift will not be easy to repair.
"What can I do to make you understand what your friendship means to me?" He asks.
"I know what it means. It means you believe you have the right to know all there is about me. And I have no right to keep anything to myself." Legolas is not even trying to be reasonable and I begin to feel flickers of annoyance at him.
"Your closest advisor is dead, Legolas. I should have known that. Even were we not friends I should have known that."
Must he mention Taenor? I know he is right in this but cutting into that grief will not help. Legolas is white faced and furious, fists clenched at his side. For a moment I worry that this will come to blows. He would not be that foolish surely? Not here in front of Elessar's people.
"And I must tell you who I choose to lie with? Who I chose to love?" Legolas counters between gritted teeth. "Do I need to send a message every time I change my bed partner?" Now he is being ridiculous and he knows it. He says these things to get a reaction and this time it works.
"Do you do that often Legolas?" The Kings words are cutting.
"No! But what business of yours is it if I did? I only have one love and I have loved her far longer than you have loved Arwen. If I choose not to tell you that I do not have to."
"You are right. You do not have to but it hurts that you did not. Does Gimli know?" Elessar asks and this time he sounds completely dejected."Do you save this silence, this secretiveness, only for me?"
"What is this?" Now Legolas lets go of the thin layer of control he had on his temper and explodes.
"A competition between the two of you as to who knows more of my private thoughts? Gimli does not know! And you......nothing I give you, nothing my people give you is ever enough! Do you know what I have sacrificed for you Aragorn?"
It all boils down to this, In Legolas' mind Elessar is the reason he is here, Elessar is the reason Taenor is dead, his love for Elessar has led us all here and now Legolas is angry. This is what lies behind his petulance, his teasing, his difficult behavior since he arrived here. He is burning with anger and resentment against the King. He needs something to blame for Taenor's death and the love, the friendship he shares with the King is it.
He is so badly wrong.
"I know...I do know what you give up to be here Legolas, and I appreciate it -"
Legolas will not let him finish. He will not stay to hear words that may melt the ice in his heart. He pushes past Elessar and leaves him in his wake. He does not look back.
I follow wordlessly. I do not look at the King. I do not want to see his face.
I feel something pressed into my hand before I join the throng on the street and look down in surprise. It is a bundle, carefully wrapped. When I raise my eyes I see Arwen by my side.
"Food," she says quietly, "He will need to eat. Keep him safe Maewen."
"This is about Taenor." I say quickly, I will take my chance to give her the message I left with Faramir.
"He is so angry—I know it is not fair, not rational."
"I know," she smiles softly, "Look after him."
And then she vanishes as the crowds close round me and I turn my eyes to Legolas' fast disappearing back.
I will look after him. I must.
We ride at speed when we leave the city. Legolas throws all his anger into our journey and it is a struggle to keep up with him. But it does not last. Elessar is right, he is a gifted healer. Legolas' reserves soon fail him and tiredness gains control.
I do not say anything. I simply watch. He will not welcome my interference, in fact he will punish me for it with the sharpness of his tongue. He has not yet burnt off his rage with Elessar and it could so easily spill itself over me. I see the slouch in his posture, the shoulders slumping, the weariness edging its way across him but I do nothing.
When he begins to sway in his seat I contemplate intervening but even then I decide against it. The worst that can happen is he falls and injures himself but the road is a busy one and help would be readily available. If he is so stubborn as to let that happen I think I will let him.
Our pace slows steadily and darkness creeps upon us but still I watch and still I wait. We are almost at a crawl when finally he gives in and call a halt.
"Here is a good place to camp I think," he calls to me.
He is right, it is a fine place where the forest reaches to the edge of the road and we can easily hide ourselves amongst the trees. He has been looking for this for the last hour at least.
I say nothing. I simply bring my horse to halt and dismount, keeping my eyes upon him as I do. So I see the sag in his knees as his feet hit the ground, and the extra few seconds he takes to lean against the horse and gather his strength before he turns to look at me. I don't mention it but I see it, and he knows I do.
I wait for him to ignore it, to pretend all is well and stride away but he does not. He must be exhausted. Instead he holds my eyes and shrugs,
"I am tired."
"I know you are." Did he really think I did not? It is a game we begin to play then, neither of us speaking of how unwell he is and yet both of us knowing it—and knowing the other knows it.
"See to the horses, Legolas," I say, "I will do the rest." The horses are easy work, that he can take his time with and when he acquiesces without a fight I know he truly must be feeling dreadful. There is not even the slightest hint of rebellion to try and prove he is well.
He does not appear until I have our camp well organised and the fire burning, and then he sits under the trees. It is not long before his eyes are glazed with sleep. This fatigue that clings to him bothers me. I remember Elessar's words about strange poison, I do not doubt him for I saw evidence of poison myself when I first treated his wound. But I feel there is more to this than that.
I worry it is grief that drags him down. Centuries of undealt with grief stretching back possibly even to Laerion. It frightens me. It feels as if he is sinking and I am the only one who can save him.
Eventually the smell of Arwen's food cooking on the fire rouses him and he lifts his head.
"Where did you get that?" He raises an eyebrow at me in surprise.
He leans forward and puts his head in his hands.
"I must apologise to her. I was rude and discourteous." I am relieved he recognises that at least.
"You were." I pass him the meat and bread I have prepared him.
"You are not meant to make me feel worse!" He is quite indignant. Did he expect me to tell him everything was alright?
"I am meant to be honest with you. If I do not tell you your shortcomings then who else will?" I smile to show I am not angry...at least I do not think I am.
"I seem to have no shortage of people telling me my shortcomings lately."
"You have no shortage of people who care for you, you mean." I am not about to let him feel sorry for himself tonight.
"Arwen—she has too much of Galadriel about her—sometimes she forgets herself and I find her inside my mind. We have spoken of it before. I presume she gives Aragorn at least a semblance of privacy but—when it is something between he and I—It can feel as if she is listening in." I understand his justification and I can see it happening but it doesnt excuse his words.
"You spoke too harshly." I say sternly and he nods.
"My anger got the better of me." He sighs and puts aside his half eaten meal.
"Eat it Legolas." I say with a frown, for he needs to eat to regain the strength he has lost.
"I am not hungry." I do not doubt it but I do not wish to spend tomorrow dragging him across Gondor either.
"Eat it anyway." I throw him a mischievous look. I will use humour to get his compliance since disapproval is unlikely to.
"I will think you do not like my cooking. Perhaps you wish Erynion was here?" Erynion is a master cook. We never go hungry when he is in charge of the food.
It works and he smiles, I am so pleased to see that smile.
"I have the only person I want here," he says, but he picks up the meat and eats it regardless.
"I like her." I say then and I laugh at his surprised response.
"Arwen. I did not expect to like her, but I do. She is more silvan than I thought she would be."
"She is not silvan at all but she has spent many years in Lothlorien. She understands us. I knew you would like her if you gave her a chance."
His words to Faramir float through my mind unbidden, 'I have never said anything I did not mean' I have to ask, even though I am afraid of the answer.
"You meant it when you said you were sick of me?"
He looks up at me sharply,
"I have never said that!"
"In Ithilien you did, and you told Faramir though you may regret things you always mean them. Is it true?"
"I said I was sick of your reluctance to know my friends, your refusal to be a part of that side of my life. I did not mean I was sick of you." He sighs heavily then.
"Is it not one and the same Legolas?" That is how it seems to me.
"No," He is becoming agitated now and I wonder if I should stop this conversation.
"I want you to know them. It is your attitude that tires me, not you. I will never be sick of you. It is as if you do not wish to be part of my life. You reject me. You want me to be who you remember me as, not who I really am!"
He drops his head and rubs at his face in frustration before he continues,
"Sometimes I wonder if you only love a memory. You do not love the real Legolas any more."
I am stunned into silence. Is he right? I had no idea I made him feel that way. There is a long pause before I speak as I catch my breath.
"I do love you Legolas. I love you as you are." But my hesitation—the drawn out silence— makes my words sound somewhat less sincere. I want to make things better for him, to fix the wrong I have done him, to prove I have changed.....am determined to change.
"We can go back...tomorrow we can go back to Minas Tirith."
"No." He rejects that idea flatly.
"Let me write to Elessar. This is my fault, if I had not refused to meet them, if I had not pressurised you to say nothing, this would not be happening. Let me fix this."
"You cannot fix it. It is about more than that. I should be able to keep things private without him questioning my love for him."
"He does not question that Legolas."
"He does." Legolas is so stubbornly determined to be hurt over this. It is obvious us speaking about it will only make matters worse. I try a different tack.
"Will you let me write to your Father?"
He hesitates and for a second I think he will say yes, I think he will actually accept the help he needs but that would be too easy.
"No, I do not need my father. I can do this on my own."
He is his own worst enemy and it is so frustrating.
He pulls his legs up to his chest then and wraps his arms around them. Huddled there he looks so miserable, so unhappy and I yearn to lift the cloud of depression off him. I want to make that light I love so much return to his eyes.
And so I stand and walk around the fire to sit beside him. We are shoulder to shoulder and I pull him down against me so his head rests upon my chest, I wrap my arms around him and I am gratified to feel him relax within them. All is silent for a while so when he speaks I am surprised.
"I am sorry."
I wonder what he apologises for. Dragging me out here into the cold and dark? Placing me in the midst of the turmoil with his friend? His unhappiness itself?
Eventually he tells me.
"You are my love first and in all things, not my subject. I was wrong to suggest otherwise. I should not have ordered you to follow. I was just so angry...I do not understand my own thoughts any more. I do not know why I did that."
So he apologises for his condesention, his placing himself above me. I knew his anger was the cause of that but it is not easy being in the firing line.
"I did not need an order to follow you. I would have anyway." I say quietly.
"Because you love me...or because it was your duty?"
I wonder why he asks that now...this has not been a problem between us for centuries.
It was in the beginning.
At the start of us Legolas could not accept I loved him for himself, not simply because he was my Prince. For we all love him, every one of us. He was our shining jewel. A gift to our people with his joy and light, even before we lost Laerion. Every elf in the Greenwood loved him, they still love him.
And so when I spoke of my love, when I did things for him, he would turn it aside, belittle it and himself, assume I did so only because he was the Prince, because I had to. So long it took me to convince him it was Legolas the wild silvan I loved, that it was a true deep love, not the worship of a god from afar. Why has this insecurity raised its ugly head again?
I think carefully on my answer because I think this is important.
"Both, I think, Legolas."
"How can it be both?"
"Because the lines between my Love and my Prince are sometimes blurred. You know this. I do have a duty to you...but I also love you and that is why I am here. Even were you not my Prince I would be here."
He leans further into my embrace then.
"Tell me a story of home," he says. "Of the Greenwood. I am homesick."
We used to do this on patrol in the South, when the darkness seeped into our souls, we would tell stories of home, of good times, to remind ourselves what we were fighting for. It saddens me to think he has so much sorrow that in this place of relative peace and safety he needs this to lift him.
And so I tell him a story. I speak of a time with our people, a celebration when we laughed and danced under the stars. I speak of myself, young, excited, giddy with wine, watching from the sidelines. Of how a warrior approached me. He was lithe, graceful, oh so beautiful, all of our eyes were upon him and he lit the very clearing with the loveliness of his spirit, his golden hair, his glow. And he asked me to dance. Me.....Maewen! He took my hand and led me out into the crowds and we danced as if we were made for each other, no-one could take their eyes off us. And at the end of the night when he kissed me, there amongst the trees, under the stars, I thought my heart would explode. That it would burst right out of me.
"I was so nervous."
He makes me jump for I had thought he had fallen asleep during my tale.
"When I approached you that night. I was terrified!" He laughs then. "Erynion made me do it. I was sure you would refuse me but he was sick of listening to me pining for you. Bemoaning the fact you never looked at me. 'Go make her look at you then!' he said."
"I always looked at you!" I cry, "I spent my life daydreaming about you, it got me in so much trouble for inattention. I just made sure you never saw me looking!"
"I wish I had known that. It would have saved me a lot of misery." I hear the laughter in his voice and it makes me glad. Perhaps I have lifted the shadow just a little bit.
"I never knew.." I say, "I never knew you felt that way."
"You have no idea, Maewen. No idea how much I love you, have always loved you."
His words are thick with the beginnings of sleep and when he falls silent after that I think he begins to wander on the dream paths. I hope his dreams are pleasant ones of laughter and light and love.
It should make me happy to hear his declaration of love, normally it would, normally it would make my soul sing. But not tonight, tonight I am filled with a dread, an apprehension, a creeping uncertainty and I do not know why.
He loves me. He loves me with all his heart. I do not know what is wrong.
I had hoped when Legolas woke this morning that some of the closeness we had managed to recapture the night before would remain.
I had hoped in vain.
Legolas is silent and melancholy. He prods the fire moodily and answers me in monosyllables. I do not understand what has happened and it leaves me uneasy—uncertain—and I do not like it. When I reach out to comfort him through our bond he is all jagged edges and tumultuous emotion. I barely recognise him. I sigh as I finish clearing our campsite...today is going to be a long day.
"I am sorry it is such a burden to be with me."
I spin around to see him leaning against a tree watching me. His words are caustic and tell me he is not really sorry at all, about anything.
"It is not a burden. Why do you say that?" My subconscious whispers to me that I lie. I had indeed been feeling burdened by the day ahead.
"Once to have a day ahead of us, just ourselves, the horses, the trees, would have been exciting...a joy. Now you sigh as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders. What has changed, Maewen?"
It is a good question he asks. What has changed? How do I answer that? In the end I settle for the obvious.
"You are unhappy, and I ... I do not know how to help."
"Being the way you used to be. That would help,” he snaps and he bends to pick up his pack and walk away from me.
I am not in the mood to put up with this today, and I speak before thinking, before I can rein in my tongue.
"That is not fair Legolas. I am doing my best. What more do you want from me? I do not understand this...last night...what has happened since last night?"
"Nothing has happened." At least he turns back to look at me. "I am still here. Taenor is still dead, the man who I thought was my friend tells me he is not. It is all still the same. Nothing has changed. Every morning I wake up and it is all still here weighing down upon me."
I do not know what to say to that.
"I cannot change any of that for you." Is that even what he wants, for me to change it?
"I wish I could Legolas, but I can not."
He leaves then, moving away towards the horses.
"Sometimes I wish you would just go and get it over with." He throws at me bitterly over his shoulder.
What does he even mean? Where did that come from? I cannot pretend it is not hurtful.
"Where would you have me go?" I call after him.
The least he can do is explain his words, but he does not answer and I am left talking to thin air.
We do not speak the rest of the morning. I do not even want to. Never before could I have imagined not wanting to be with him but that is what it is like today. Our bond is stretched so thin it is almost invisible.
He said those words to hurt, to hurt me on purpose. Legolas has never deliberately hurt me. Accidentally, yes of course as we all do, and then he is contrite, apologetic and mortified when he realises. I do not think he will be contrite today. For the first time I find myself wondering if we have anything left to save.
So in silence we ride until finally we reach the edge of our forest. It is such a relief to be back amongst the trees, and I think Legolas feels it, too. It could be my imagination but it seems some of his tension unfurls before my eyes.
I watch him as he lifts his eyes to the trees. There is a light in his eyes again, a glimmer of life. They always transform him. I wonder what he hears? What they say to him? He connects with the trees so much better than I. Usually he will translate for me but somehow I do not think so today. I feel a pang, a jolt of pain at the thought he will not tell me the stories he hears.
As I watch, my thoughts drift to that moment with Taenor, when he and I stood watching Legolas as he flitted amongst the trees, when Taenor had remarked how well he was. Before I joined in to run in the treetops as we used to. Would I ever run with Legolas like that again?
"What are you thinking?"
The sound of his voice after so long in silence makes me jump. The surprise means I do not take the care to hide my thoughts.
"I was thinking of when we ran in the trees before-" almost too late I stop myself but I am not quick enough. He knows what I am about to say.
"Before Taenor was killed." He finishes my sentence, his voice numb and flat as he says the words.
"Yes." I hang my head. The moment of light he had in the trees is gone.
I nudge the horse gently down the path which will eventually lead us to our settlement but Legolas does not follow. When I turn to see why, he is off his horse, standing in the middle of the path.
"What are you doing Legolas?"
He tilts his head to look up at me and his eyes dance with mischievousness. Where has that come from? A moment ago he was sullen and depressed. Somehow he has manage to change before my eyes and it unnerves me.
"Come with me!" He says and he walks up to me holding his hand up for me to grasp.
"Come with you where?" I am confused and all at sea. I thought I knew the way this day would play out. This is not it.
"Run in the trees with me again." His eyes shine but I hesitate.
"The horses know their own way back from here...come with me, Maewen. You know you want to."
I do want to. I do. It is such a tempting suggestion but I did not imagine doing this today. We have been so badly at odds.
"Come on!" he says, "Come on." And he grabs my hand, pulls me from my horse and before I know it I am in his arms and he is laughing....laughing!
"They are pleased to see us, the trees." He whispers in my ear. "They ask me how I come to be with such a beautiful elleth." He grins at me and he looks so young, all of a sudden he is that graceful warrior who asked me to dance and my heart flips. The knots my stomach has been tied in all day slowly begin to unravel.
"What did you tell them?" I laugh back. "Did you say you had stumbled across me and had no idea who I was?"
"I told them..." he murmurs in my ear. His breath warm on my skin, "I am the luckiest man on earth and they cannot have you."
He holds me back then at arms length and gazes at me.
"I am sorry I have been so difficult to be with today. You do not deserve it and I should not take out my misery on you, it is unfair. Run with me now. Let me make it right...let us be how we used to be."
I cannot resist him when he is like this and oh how I do want us to be as we were. I want it with all my heart..
But he has hurt me. I have been protecting him because I know he is hurting but this morning he went too far. I am not a punching bag for him to attack as he chooses, as his unhappiness overtakes him.
And so this time I tell him.
"You hurt me Legolas."
His face falls, the excitement and light bleed out of it before my eyes.
"I know," is all he says, it is all he can say.
"You take advantage of the fact that I love you to lash out at me. One day I might not be able to forgive."
He clasps my hands together in his then and when he speaks it is heartfelt.
"I wish I had not done that. I have so many regrets, my life— at the moment—that is all it is...regret. Let me make it up to you, let us be happy. This will make us happy." He reaches up and brushes my hair clear of my face.
"Run with me, Beloved. The trees await us."
And in the end I can not resist because I want this as much as he does, this moment of joy and freedom.
And so we run.
The wind is in my hair, Legolas at my side, the boughs beneath my feet, and he is right. I am happy. There is no grief, no sadness, no anger and bitterness. There is only us. Our hearts entwined, our fea alight:
Legolas is my love and I am his and in this moment nothing else matters.
We are breathless with exertion and excitement when we arrive on the edge of the settlement. Legolas is glowing.
"I told you it would be good!" He laughs and he takes my hand as we walk towards our home. It is as if the mornings troubles have been washed away.
This oasis of joy and happiness does not last long.
The settlement is in chaos, awash with panic and we are descended on by chattering elves the moment we arrive. They are all over Legolas and their anxiety is palpable. As we stand, bemused and drowning under swarms of our compatriots Erynion strides towards us, cutting a path through the crowds.
His face tells me he is unimpressed...more than that, he is furious.
"Where have you been?" He almost shouts it.
"In the trees," Legolas explains with a wave of his hand, frowning as he does so. I can feel his good mood ebbing away.
"Your horses arrived riderless." Erynion is in our faces, the anger shining in his eyes.
"We did not even expect you back. Have you any idea what that was like? What conclusion did you think we would draw from that?"
Oh, we have been foolish. They have thought us lost and injured or worse. They have believed...even if only for a short time, that they have lost their last Prince. No wonder they cannot take their eyes off Legolas.
"I am sorry-" I begin the apology they surely deserve but Legolas hushes me, tells me with a look to be silent.
"We took some time for ourselves," he snaps. "Is that so wrong?"
"It is when you do not communicate. You are our leader Legolas. You can not do whatever you want when you want. Have a care for those under your protection."
And Legolas explodes.
"I did not ask to be your leader. I did not want it."
His voice rises to a shout.
"Perhaps you should do it Erynion, since you know all about it. You would be so much better than I. I know I am a poor replacement for Laerion. You do not have to tell me that. Get a new Leader... I am done with you."
He strides away across the courtyard leaving us all in speechless shock.
Erynion looks at me and in his eyes is the question, 'What has happened?'
"He has argued with Elessar." I answer him even though he has not spoken it aloud.
"He is unreasonable....irrational... And they are sundered."
"That's right Maewen," Legolas' voice full of bitterness floats back across the courtyard although he does not turn around.
"Make sure to tell him how difficult I am!" And he slams the door that leads to our rooms behind him as he disappears from sight.
I turn to the stunned Erynion then, standing white faced and shocked in front of the crowd who can not help but hear what they should not.
"It has been a nightmare, Erynion, a nightmare."
And I think it will only get worse.
I do not see Legolas again until evening. To tell the truth I avoid him, and being able to leave him alone without worry is such a relief. But eventually I must face up to him and so I go, with much reluctance, to our rooms.
He is there, bent over his desk which is scattered with maps and charts and formal looking correspondence. He looks weary, oh so weary, pale and drawn, head bent so low it almost rests on the desk itself and my heart lurches with sympathy. He hears me of course and lifts his head.
"So you have come at last." He sighs.
"What do you do?"
"I am trying to make sense of the Haradrim." He waves his hand across the maps. "Plotting their appearances, trying to see a pattern." His head slumps, "I thought I should at least make an attempt at leadership since Erynion thinks me so lacking."
"He does not think you lacking. He pointed out we were in error....both of us."
But Legolas simply rubs his head.
I remember then his tiredness, the fact he is still not recovered.
"You should see the healers, Legolas."
"I already have,” he says and I am surprised. He has gone voluntarily?
"I have a headache." He smiles ruefully, "It throbs like nothing else. In the end I couldn't stand it. They have given me this..." He indicates a vial
on his desk beside him. It is still full.
"You have not taken it." Why go and then not use the help they offer?
"I hate it, that stuff. It fogs my head. I could not concentrate on this if I drugged myself. I have to get this done,” he sighs heavily. “If Taenor was here…” and he trails off miserably.
I know what he thinks. If Taenor was here he would have helped him get through this paperwork he so detests.
I walk across then and gather up the maps before him, handing him the vial as I do so.
"You have done enough for tonight. Look at this again in the morning and ask Erynion to help you. Take this."
He does not resist, does not argue which tells me he is truly unwell. Instead he swallows the medicine down with a grimace. Satisfied he is at least being sensible I turn to go but he grabs at my hand.
"Where do you go? Will you not stay.....please." Never before has he had to beg me to be with him, and I will stay, now that he has asked; of course I will.
But deep inside me a part of me does not want to. I am tired myself, and sick of fighting, of searching for something between us that is so hard to find now.
For the first time ever I would rather walk away.
If I thought things would be better once we arrived home I could not have been more wrong.
Legolas has always been changeable; sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with him as his moods emerge and disappear seemingly on a whim. Some, who would be less than kind, call him flighty, fickle, erratic, but I love him for it. He is never boring, always honest, and if you listen, truly listen to the emotions behind his words then he is not that unpredictable, not if you know him. And until now I would have said it was not possible to know him better than I.
But now, now he is a whirlwind of chaos. He vacillates wildly between euphoric highs and heartbreakingly desperate lows for seemingly no reason. Talking to him is a minefield and I find myself always holding my breath waiting for the next explosion. It is exhausting.
Legolas and Erynion are close. They have been friends for a long time, since childhood, since before I knew either of them. Erynion is the steady ballast that keeps Legolas upright and in one place when he needs to be. But now, since Legolas' explosion on our return, all is awkward between them. Erynion is wary. He watches his words carefully and the friendly spontaneity they had is gone. They circle each other like ships in the night never quite meeting in the middle.
Now, when Legolas most needs Erynion's calmness to keep him on his feet he has lost it.
It pains me to watch them as they fail to connect, as their friendship drifts upon the wind.
The first letter from Elessar arrives the day after our return. He must have begun writing it almost the moment we left I think. Legolas reads it and casts it aside. After that they come daily. Every single day a messenger will arrive from Minas Tirith, a letter from the King in hand.
Legolas reads them all. He answers none of them.
I wish I knew what the King wrote. I am sure the letters hold the key to helping Legolas but he does not show me and I do not ask. But I burn with curiosity to know. If I could just see them...if I could just read them with him I could convince him to listen...and to respond.
And so it is when I find myself alone in our rooms and Elessar's latest letter lies open upon the desk where Legolas has thrown it I cannot resist.
I know I should not look. It is not addressed to me and he does not wish me to see it. I have no right to help myself to his personal correspondence. It is a breach of trust of the worst kind. I have never done anything like this before and Legolas trusts me completely. Why else would he have left the letter there? He is confident I will not look.
But I can use the contents of that letter to help him, to help heal this scism between him and the King. I look only for his benefit. I have his best wishes at heart. It is all for Legolas, only for Legolas. That is how I justify it to myself anyway.
The letter is beautiful in its simplicity, the language eloquent. Elessar has a way with words, that much is obvious. He speaks of his love for Legolas and it is so apparent it breaks my heart, but not only that, also his need for his support. The things Legolas has helped him achieve. The high regard he holds him in. He talks of their time on the quest, and how without Legolas he could not have achieved his victory, of his courage and his compassion. I do not know how Legolas can read these letters and not be moved. How can he resist this?
"Put that down."
His voice washes over me like ice and I freeze.
"I do not believe that was addressed to you. Can you explain yourself Maewen?"
I cannot and he knows it but I have to face him. I turn around and he is there, staring, arms folded. His beautiful face is hard and cold.
"Legolas....forgive me, I just thought-"
"You thought betraying my trust would be helpful for us? Do we not already have enough problems Maewen?"
And he is right, we do..we have so many problems I can no longer keep track of them all.
"I thought I could help." I can feel him slipping through my fingers. I have made a fatal error.
"Well this does not help!" He leans forward and snatches the letter from my hands tearing it as he does so.
"Legolas, can you not see—in the letter—how much he loves you?"
I am wasting my breath for he is not listening.
"His love is conditional."
"I think you are not seeing things clearly," I reach for him tentatively, anything to calm him.
"You should be happy about this!" He backs away. He will not let me touch him.
"How many years have I listened to you tell me he was bad for me, that he would hurt me, that I should shed my mortal friends like they meant nothing? Now you change your mind? This is what you have wished for."
"I was wrong Legolas. I admit that, I see it now. I can see how important Elessar is to you, and you to him."
"I am not important to him. I am a convenience"
"How can you read that letter and still say that?" The warping of his reasoning frightens me.
"How can you read this letter at all? Because you want to help? Destroying us does not help!"
"I do not want to destroy us!" I cry.
"You already have!" Legolas replies and I flinch as the words hit me.
And with that he spins around and storms out the of door. Leaving me alone, bereft, a victim of my own foolishness.
Legolas and I have a secret place. Outside the settlement, and yet near. Deep in the forest and yet accessible. I go there now. He first bought me here soon after we arrived in Ithilien, when I was sad and heartsick for my home. I did not want to leave the Greenwood. I raged against it but his mind was set and after long months of separation I could not be apart from him any longer. I gave in.
But I was unhappy. I could not settle and I did not want to. Then one day Legolas led me through the trees to this glade that is now ours and ours alone. In it he had planted wildflowers galore from our home, from seeds he had collected carefully and carried with him all this way—for me. It was a riot of colour, and scents, oh it smells of the Greenwood!
We come here when we wish to be alone, when he needs breathing space just to be Legolas, not Legolas the Prince. And I come, when he is away with dwarf, or in Minas Tirith with the Men, and I am lonely for his company. It comforts me to know he created this place of wonder just for me.
But now I come on my own, I come with his words of our destruction ringing in my ears. I come for comfort and I find none, for this place, without Legolas, is cold and empty. Still I stay, I stay and sit until darkness falls, thinking of all the mistakes I have made and all I stand to lose.
When it is dark and the stars light the sky he comes looking for me. I think I was always hoping he would, that he would know I came here. Proof, perhaps that we are not so far apart after all. He appears out of the night, his soft glow lighting the glade as he walks across it towards me and he stops in front of me.
"May I join you?" His voice is soft and gentle with no trace of the coldness that hurt so much before.
"Of course." I have wanted him to join me all evening. In the past he would not have had to ask.
We sit together shoulder to shoulder in silence, the heat of his body where we touch, burns through my tunic and warms the skin beneath. He says nothing.
In the end I cannot stand it, I have to speak...to say something, anything, and so I turn to him but I see then he is not with me. His head is tilted sideways as if he listens to something I cannot hear. His face is lifted to the stars. Their light iluminates his beauty. His eyes are unfocused. He may be next to me but he is not with me. I have seen this before and I know what distracts him. It is the sea.
I place a hand firm on his shoulder to jolt him free of it's clutches and it works for he blinks once, twice, three times before he stares at me properly, shaking his head as if to shake himself free of the last remants of the sea that cling to him.
"I am sorry," he says eventually, "The sea was calling me."
"I know," I say softly. To my surprise he continues to speak of it.
"It has been bad," he says dropping his head to stare at his hands in his lap, "since Taenor...since before Taenor if I am honest."
I remember then that it was the sea which distracted him before Taenor fell and I am filled with a rush of compassion for him.
"What can I do?" I ask. "Can I help?"
He shakes his head and I expected as much anyway.
"I have been thinking Maewen..."
I watch as he fiddles with his hands, twisting them in the hem of his tunic and I realise suddenly, he is nervous. Why?
A cold block of ice begins to form in my stomach. A sudden rush of apprehension overwhelms me.
"It is becoming too much, the sea—it wears me down— It is harder and harder to ignore it."
He is not saying this, he is not. I will not listen.
But not listening will not make what he says next any less real. Not listening does not stop his mouth moving and the words spilling out.
"Maewen....I think I will sail."
I have counselled Legolas to sail many times, in fact I have begged it of him. I imagined that the two of us could go, together, and there would be no mortals, no subjects, no problems across the sea. We could be together and happy and he would be the Legolas I remembered not the Legolas he had become.
I no longer believe that.
As he says the words, I know, I know with all my heart that this is wrong. This is not the right decision for him and he will regret it, oh so much regret, when he leaves behind the dwarf and Elessar. Especially Elessar if he goes now when they are so much at odds.
I know also that I can not go with him.
I love the land, I am entwined with it. It is my heart. I am not ready to let it go, I do not hear even so much as a whisper of the sea. And most of all, I no longer believe Legolas and I will be free of our problems simply by running to Valinor. It is not the right thing for us and it is not the right thing for me.
Legolas has not noticed my silence, he has not seen the terror in my eyes. Instead he takes my hands and holds them within his.
"Will you come with me?" He whispers.
"I do not want to do this without you. All will be well in Valinor and we can fix all that is wrong between us."
"Legolas..." I am breathless with anxiety. I feel sick with it. How do I say this?
How do I tell him I do not want to go?
In the end the way I tell him is all wrong.
I have no finese, it is like taking a hammer to his hopes. My brain freezes and words tumble out on their own accord.
"I cannot go with you."
It is cruel and blunt and hurtful, and it does hurt him. He drops my hands as if they burn him.
"What do you mean?"
There is a coolness to his voice that makes me uneasy.
"I cannot sail with you Legolas. It is not the right choice for you, not now."
"What makes you think you know what is right for me?" He is angry now, so angry and his words slam into me.
"Because I know you." I have to make him understand this. If I know anything it is that I know he cannot go.
"What of Gimli and Elessar Legolas? You would leave them behind forever. You are not ready to do that."
"Do not tell me what I am or am not ready for!" He leaps to his feet and strides away from me before turning in the middle of the glade to shout out his rage.
"You have encouraged me before to sail. You have said you would come. Why now do you care about my friends? Why now do you abandon me?"
"I do not abandon you." I stand and follow him, attempting to grasp hold of his hands, but he will not let me.
"I was wrong before. I have seen your friendship with Elessar. I know what it means to you. You have opened my eyes to the truth. You can not leave him behind and be happy Legolas."
"These are excuses," he cries, "You do not care about my friendship with Aragorn. You never have. You do not want to come with me. That is the truth of it, is it not Maewen? Be honest."
He is right, I do not want to go with him, but it is not for the reasons he thinks. I am not ready to leave. I love the land, it is a part of me, I am entwined with it. I cannot bear the thought of leaving. I simply cannot do it. Even for him.
I used to dream of sailing away together, away from the difficulties which dog us since the war, away from the differences in him. But now I see we would only be running away and the problems we have would follow us. It would solve nothing. With the promise of a new happier relationship with Legolas gone, my love for the land overwhelms me.
"I cannot leave Legolas! I am not ready to go. It is not to do with you, I promise. It is me, it is all me."
He does not listen. He will not listen. Instead he storms away from me, away from our glade.
"I will go on my own then!" He yells as he departs. "I do not need you. My mother will be there, my brother may be there. I do not need you!"
But he is wrong and I know it. He does need me and I have failed him, but I will not change my mind.
For the first time I do not return to our rooms to sleep. Always we do, no matter what hurtful words we may have thrown at each other during the day, always we return to each other at night. But not this night. I do not have the energy and so I find somewhere else to go instead.
It is cold and lonely without him but I do not have the inclination to argue further. I spend the night wondering if he will do what he says. Will he truly sail without me and leave me here?
What will I do without him?
In the morning I do not want to go to breakfast but I do. I will not hide. Legolas is there before me and he sits with Erynion. They talk together at the head of the long table and normally I would join them. Not today. Instead I sit at the far end on my own but I feel Legolas' eyes upon me although I do not look at him. His gaze burns into me as I eat, burning, burning, always watching.
I do not look. I will not look.
In the end it is he who gives in and he comes to me. He slips into the seat beside me and although I do not look up, his voice when he speaks is soft and gentle.
"You did not sleep last night." He sounds as if he cares.
The words that come out of my mouth are harsh and bitter. I am not even sure why. I did not think I was feeling anger towards him but perhaps I am?
"I did sleep," I say, "Just not with you."
I look up in time to see him flinch.
"Well that hurt." He replies and ducks his head, not quickly enough to stop me seeing the pain in his eyes and feel guilty for it.
"You have not changed your mind then?" He is still in control, still reasonable but I do not think it will last.
"I will not sail with you Legolas. I cannot." And a part of me is foolish enough to think he might actually listen to me today. I could not have been more wrong.
"So you would leave me." He is so bitter and he has not heard a word I said. I have had enough.
"It is you leaving me, Legolas. I have told you I am not ready. You should not be asking this of me. You are not ready either."
"How would you know anything about my readiness to sail?" He snaps, "You never talk to me about the sea. You wish to bury your head in the sand and ignore it. You resent the fact I have the sealonging. You blame me for it."
"You were warned!" I cry, "You did not have to follow Elessar. You had other options. Did you even think of me once before you did that?" And I realise as I speak that he is right, I do resent him for that and I always have. He made decisions which changed my life and a part of me wonders if he spent even a moment considering me before he did so.
"I did what was right for my people," he hisses back at me, "Aragorn had to succeed or we would all fall! It was not about me and it was not about you."
"But it should have been," I argue although a part of me knows that he is right, it was bigger than us, "You should have thought of us. Instead the only one you cared about was Elessar, the King of Men."
"I do not recognise you anymore Maewen. You know I have responsibilities beyond just you and I. You have always known that, right from the beginning, and now you throw it in my face?"
"Responsibilities for our people. But now you take on responsibilty for all Mortals as well!" I do not even know how we have started arguing about this. Obviously neither does he and he drags the conversation back to the beginning.
"The fact remains," he says, "That if you do not come with me it may end us."
For a moment I simply stare at him and I do not know what to say for he is right. Is this what I want?
"Legolas," I am careful with my words now, "I love you, I do, but I also love the land. It is a part of me. I know you understand this. You cannot ask this of me, it is too much. Your mother did not ask it of your father when she left. She knew he could not go with her. You told me this yourself."
"He was King. It was different, he had our people to consider."
In the end there is only one thing I can say.
"If you loved me, Legolas, you would not ask this."
He explodes then. It doesn't matter we are seated in front of the majority of our people.
"Damn you Maewen!"
It takes me by surprise as he angrily sweeps his arm across the table sending crockery and cutlery spilling to the floor.
"Damn you!" He is on his feet then and a silent hush falls across the hall at the crash of the crockery shattering. It means they all hear the next words he shouts at me.
"Then I obviously do not love you!"
It echoes around the hall as it echoes around my brain and he is gone, stalking away, and I am left sitting alone surronded by the broken detritus of our love. The eyes of everyone there upon me.
After that argument Legolas disappears.
He does this sometimes, when the sea accosts him. He takes himself to the trees, the forest. He has told me he goes to anchor himself. He loses himself in the sea and the trees protect him. Eventually then he remembers who he is and why he is here. I do not understand it and I do not pretend to.
Always, always, he tells me where he goes and when and why.
But not this time.
Usually we send patrols to follow him, the sector he wanders in we fill with elves to ensure he is safe. They never see him, the trees help him hide, but they keep enemy numbers low or non existant so his wandering in the sea longing will not put him at risk.
How can we do that when we do not know where he is?
It is Erynion that alerts me to his disappearance.
"Have you seen Legolas?" He asks me in the middle of the afternoon, and I laugh. It is not a happy laugh because why does he imagine I would have seen him after the morning altercation.
"No. Erynion, are you mad. You saw us this morning, everyone did. I have not been near him."
"He has gone." he says bluntly, "I think he has taken to the trees. He always tells you where he goes then."
I am alarmed at that. How can I not be?
"Are you sure? Perhaps he has joined a patrol?"
"Well that would be foolish in the extreme given his health." He is right about that.
"But no, he has not. Do you not think I have checked?"
A thrill of horror runs through me then.
"The sea is bad." I tell him, "He told me last night he wishes to sail. It was that we argued about."
"And you did not tell me?"
"It was our private business Erynion. I know you are his friend and his second but that does not give you the right to know what happens inside our relationship!" I am angry he accuses me so.
"This goes beyond the two of you." He bites back angrily, "It does Maewen and you know it. He is irrational, not himself. His decision making process is not reliable. I should have known he was talking like that. What if he has taken himself to the sea itself?"
He leaves me guilty and ashamed. I should have done something more. I should have gone to him the previous evening. I needed help with Legolas. I should have asked for that help long ago. Why did I not listen to the voice inside me that told me to call for outside help, to call Thranduil? Why did I let my worries about what Legolas would think of me get in the way of my common sense?
I will not do that again. We are not important. Keeping him safe is.
And so I go to our rooms and do what I should have done days ago.
I call for help.
Erynion has shamed me.
I realise now the way Legolas is has less to do with me and more to do with the world around him. All this time I have been holding him close, worrying about he and I, and in doing so I have failed to help him as I should.
If I had let Erynion call for Elessar at the beginning, things might not be as disrupted, as they are now, between the two of them.
If I had called for Thranduil immediately as I wanted to then he might already be here or at least not far away. Instead I let my fear Legolas would leave me, control me. And now what do I have? He has left me anyway.
Thranduil is who Legolas really needs I think. I have thought long and hard and I believe Laerion lies at the heart of this. In some way Taenor's death has triggered something within Legolas and it all leads back to Laerion.
I will never be able to help him with that for I was not his lover then. I was only a girl in the same company as he and he was the youngest prince who I watched from afar. I was not privy to what happened after he withdrew into himself when Laerion died. I do not know what they did for him or what he spoke of, or how they cured him. Thranduil will know. He is the only one who knows.
But Thranduil is too far away.
We need someone now. It will be days.....weeks.....until I can get Thranduil here.
Instead I write to the dwarf.
My Lord Gimli, I think that is how I should address him but in truth I am unsure. I hope I do not offend him before I even start.
I write to you on behalf of Legolas although he does not know I do this and likely will be unhappy with me.
He is not himself and I believe you can help him. We seem to be unable to ourselves though we have tried. If you could come soonest it would be much appreciated.
Maewen of Ithilien
It is short and says nothing at all except Legolas needs help. I hope it is enough to get him here but I am uncomfortable to write more. I wonder too if I should tell him who I am, who I am to Legolas. In the end I decide not, possibly Elessar has told him by now in any case.
One of Faramir's men is with us. He has come bearing messages from Minas Tirith on his way home to Emyn Arnen and I plan to send my message to the dwarf with him for there is frequent travel between Faramir's people and The Glittering Caves. Eowyn's folk are there. It will be quicker to get a message sent through them, Legolas often does it this way.
He looks at me in surprise when I tell him my request.
"The Lord Gimli is in Minas Tirith!" He says, "He arrived last night, I saw him myself. They say the King sent for him."
Perhaps I should have predicted this. Has Elessar sent for the Dwarf for Legolas' sake?
"Do you know why?" I ask but he shakes his head.
"I am not privy to the wishes of the King. But I know Lord Gimli is there."
This is good news for it means the dwarf is so much nearer and getting a message to Minas Tirith is much easier. If I send one of our riders in the morning the dwarf could be here by the day after! For the first time in days I feel a surge of hope.
I have learnt from my mistake of the day before. When I leave Faramir's man I go straight to Erynion. I will be keeping no more secrets from him.
"I have written to the dwarf," I say, "I will send it in the morning, he is in Minas Tirith apparently already."
Erynion nods in agreement.
"To send for Gimli is a good idea, perhaps he can succeed where we fail. He has an influence over Legolas I have never been able to understand...it is strange how they are together. Of course," he looks at me grimly then, "Will we even know where Legolas is when he gets here?"
I hesitate over the next thought that flits through my mind, I do not wish to say it but I must. I am not going to travel down the same path twice.
"Shall we tell Elessar Legolas has gone?"
"I intend to." So Erynion has already decided he will go over my head in this. No more will he defer to my better judgement where Legolas is concerned. Is that because he doubts me or he doubts my closeness to Legolas? Perhaps he no longer thinks me best to decide what to do about him.
"But not yet..." he continues, "I will give Legolas a day...two days....to come to his senses. It will shame him to alert Elessar about this if he later returns to us. I do not want that. It is a balancing act Maewen, I try not to give him enough rope to hang himself with."
It is a balancing act indeed and one in which it feels we are blindfolded.
As it turns out it is as well we did not tell the King about our errant Prince for Legolas arrives home, striding into the hall just after lunch the next day. He has stayed away one night only and we all breath a sigh of relief. There is a challenge in his eyes as he looks at me and I wonder, did he do this to frighten me? To retaliate? I stayed away from him one night and so he takes to the trees without letting me know as revenge?
Then I remind myself, there is more to this than him and I. This goes far deeper, and the sea does call to him.
Erynion when he sees him, sees his cockiness, even though he knows it is all pretence, is livid.
"A word Legolas." he snaps as he marches up to him while I trail miserably behind for I feel this will not be pleasant.
Legolas tilts his head to the side as if he is confused although I know he is not. He knows why Erynion is angry.
"Of course," he says as if he has done nothing to cause us any anxiety, "Speak on."
"Not here." Erynion hisses, "We have spent too much time discussing your misdeamours in public lately. Your study." And he walks off without a backwards glance as if he is confident Legolas will follow him and he does. Legolas does not want a public arguement any more than we do.
He shuts the door behind us with a thud as we enter and stands, arms folded, just inside the room.
"What is so important then that it means I cannot eat my lunch?" Sometimes he can be so infuriating.
"You didn't tell us where you were going. We had an agreement Legolas. We have discussed this." On the way here Erynion has calmed down some, but not a lot.
"Am I allowed no time to myself?"
"When it comes to the sealonging—no. How can I keep you safe if I do not know where you are? You have a responsibility to your people Legolas, not to take unnecessary risks and this is one."
"You know nothing about the sealonging!" Legolas snaps, eyes flashing.
"I know that." I wonder then as I listen, not for the first time, how Erynion manages to stay so calm.
"But I have listened to you and I respect it, which is more than you have shown me these last two days."
Legolas turns his back on us then. When he speaks it is to the wall but I can tell from the tension in the muscles on his back he is angry.
"So Maewen tells me I spend too much of my energy on my responsibilities and do not think enough of her," Erynion shoots me a look then, and I scowl in return. I am not happy with Legolas bringing me, bringing us, into this.
"And you say I am irresponsible, that I do not care for my people...it seems I cannot win."
He turns on us then and he is furious. Legolas, when he is angry can be so very, very, like Thranduil if he wants and it seems he does want today for it as if his father is standing there.
"Do not lecture me on my responsibility to my people Erynion. I know it. I never forget it. My whole life has been lived around it. My father has engrained it into me since I was a child. I did not take risks. I was always safe. For your information I stayed within the patrols. I know where they are Erynion because I am the one who oversees them, I know the patterns of our attackers, I know where Faramir's men are. I know where I will be safe and I stayed there. Give me some credit. I did not tell you were I was because I did not need your protection."
He throws his arms in the air in frustration,
"I have been gone barely a day, Am I not allowed even a day...just one day?"
"Not when you are talking of sailing Legolas!" Erynion attacks right back, And Legolas turns to me, betrayal in his eyes.
"You told him? That was between us!"
"What could I do? You had disappeared, you left me no choice Legolas."
He opens the door then, opens it and stands aside.
"Get out. Both of you get out. I have said all I want to, we will talk no more."
"Legolas..." Erynion tries again but to no avail.
And so we go and I wince at the slamming of the door behind us.
"Well that went well." Erynion sighs.
"At least we know he kept himself safe. That is something surely."
"It is more than I expected." He grudgingly admits.
"I do not envy you, dealing with him at the moment. We can only hope Gimli gets here quickly,"
I sigh heavily.
He will not be pleased with me about that either.
I stay away for the rest of the day. We both do. But when night falls and Legolas has not emerged I dither about what to do. I am uncertain and conflicted. I spent one night away from him and our rooms no longer feel to me as though they are mine but should I stay away? I want to....I really do not want to go back in there. Having taken a step away finding the right way back seems so much harder.
In the end though I am not a coward. I face my fears, that is how I have always been and so I go to see how he is.
At first I do not see him and I am alarmed. Has he run from us again? But no, he is still there. He sits on the floor in the corner, huddled in a ball, his head on his knees, buried in his arms.
"So you have come back tonight," he sighs quietly, although he doesn't lift his head to look at me.
"I thought you would not."
I decide honesty may be the best policy. Neither of us have been particularly honest with the other for a long time it seems.
"I was unsure if I would be welcome." I hover just inside the door.
"You are always welcome. You know that." He sounds so very tired.
"I no longer know it."
"And I no longer know if you want to be here." How do I tell him that I do not?
We are silent then and he does not move from his place on the floor. I should go to him but I do not know what his reaction will be if I do. When he speaks again I jump in surprise.
"I always thought of you." he says. It is barely more than a whisper and I am confused. When did he think of me? When he went to the trees?
"What do you mean, Legolas?"
Finally he lifts his head to look at me and I see he has been crying. It frightens me to see that for it is so unlike him, so unlike his usual strong control. It is as if he falls apart in front of my eyes.
"You have no idea what it was like." He replies, "You do not know the things we saw, the things we did, in the fellowship. I saw enemy the like of which you have never seen, you cannot imagine....the numbers... the hatred....Saruman, Sauron, the hopelessness, the times we thought all was lost, that we rode out simply to die in the best way we could. You have never wanted to know. You do not listen. You do not want me to speak of it."
He is right. I turn my mind from the things he did in the war and I do not want to know them. Things he did without me that I cannot understand. Things that changed him from the Legolas I knew. Things that changed my life without my permission.
Erynion has told me to ask him, he has told me I should listen and at least try to understand.
But I do not want to, I want to turn back the clock and to have Legolas as he has always been. And it frightens me to think about what happened to him when I was not there. What might have happened.
"I always thought of you." He repeats himself. "In the depths of despair, when I had no hope, you were my light, the reason I went forward. You and my people. I had no choice to do the things I did, to make the decisions I made to keep you safe. When I heard Galadriel's message I thought I went to my death. We all did. When Gimli argued with me to return home, when Aragorn ordered me back—because he did Maewen—he did not want me to die on his behalf, I went on because it was the only chance for you. The destruction of the ring...Aragorn's success. It was the only chance. If it meant I went to Mandos' Halls and we were separated at least you might be safe and we would meet again on the other side."
I cannot breathe. I have never heard this. He has never told me because I have never wanted to hear it.
"It hurts Maewen when you tell me I did not think of you."
There is only one thing I can say.
"I am sorry. I did not understand."
"You do not want to understand."
I move towards him then. He is so weary, so sad, I want to envelop him in my love and lift his burden. I want to take my hurtful words, my wilful ignorance away and mend things. And so I sit next to him and pull him close.
"If you tell me I will listen now."
And he sighs, softly, quietly.
"There is too much. I do not wish to speak of it."
And so when I am finally ready to hear, he does not wish to share it.
Still he drops his head upon my shoulder and I feel him relax against me. It feels good to be together without harsh words. When the anger has gone I still love him, he is still my heart.
"It is enough you want to listen Maewen," he whispers, "That is enough."
There is so much still left unsaid between us. So much bitterness and misunderstanding. But today, I think, I will leave it at this and simply love him....as I used to.
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