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Bitter Loving by cheekybeak

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Table of Contents

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Story notes:
So I decided to have a go on the Silmarillion Writers Guild prompt generator. I thought it was bound to throw up something crazy I could write a funny story with.

Instead the prompts I got were SO angsty and heartbreaking I couldn't ignore them.

Immortality

Procrastination

and the quote
"And last year's bitter loving must remain, heaped on my heart and my old thoughts abide." : Edna St, Vincent Millay.

I loved the poem it comes from so much I have put it in it's entirety at the beginning.

As always All Tolkiens not mine.
Chapter notes:
Note of explanation : In my previous stories Erestor has had a love affair with Maglor which ended in acrimony and bitterness. It is obviously Maglor he is talking about in this.
Time does not bring relief; you all have lied   
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!   
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;   
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,   
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;   
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.   
There are a hundred places where I fear   
To go,—so with his memory they brim.   
And entering with relief some quiet place   
Where never fell his foot or shone his face   
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”   
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

Edna St Vincent Millay.


  A solitary elf sat silently, isolated and alone. By choice or neglect he did not know. 

He watched him from afar, curious and wary. He would not say he knew him well although they were far from strangers. Never had they been at ease, never had they sought each other's company. 

The city around them was a chaos of noise and light, colour and energy, exhuberant celebration. Why was he alone here? He wondered, when his lover and friends immersed themselves in the midst of the cacophony of joy. 

He hesitated, indecisive, should he approach? If comfort was needed he was hardly the best to give it. In the end he had no choice. There was no one else and he could not walk away.   

He centred himself and stepped from the shadows. The elf did not turn, did not spare him a glance but quietly he spoke for he knew he was there, had known all along. 

"Erestor. I wondered when you would show yourself. I am not very interesting to watch today I fear. Perhaps you should find something else to amuse you."

As greetings go it was an icy one, still he had had worse.

" I did not watch for my amusement Legolas." He sat beside him not waiting to ask if he was welcome. He knew he was not.
"It was concern that held me here. Why are you alone, today of all days? Why not join the celebrations?" 

"What is there to celebrate? I have nothing."

He was bemused at that, for surely the answer was self evident.

"A new beginning, The dawn of a new age, a new King, Aragorn has achieved his dream, his destiny. What more reason do you need than that?" 

"A new beginning?" Legolas gave a laugh that was empty and hollow. " Or the beginning of the end? One day this city will be shrouded in black, the streets silent. We will drown in tears and he will be gone." He waved his hand across the vista of bright colours before them. 
"This will be gone and I......I alone will be the same. My immortality is a curse, a chain around my neck. My friends go where I may not follow, the wheels of time turn and I cannot stop them."

And then he understood. The grief of an immortal trapped within the rushing tide of mortal time.

"Not all who you love are mortal Legolas. Do not lose sight of Elrohir, he who is closest to your heart.  The end of this is not your end, you have a new land to explore, a new life to live and you will not be alone." 

And finally Legolas turned to him his face twisted with bitterness and regret.

"A new land. That is your comfort? A land devoid of him, of' them? Nowhere I can go that is familiar, no shared memories, no place we were together. A slate wiped clean of  every piece of them. Here I can keep them close, there they will cease to exist and yet this bitter loving must remain. How can you ever understand?"

He sat in silence. The words bit deep into his long buried pain. But he would not give up, he would not abandon this wounded child to his grief. 

"You do not have a monopoly on love and loss Legolas," his voice was low and soft.
"You know my story. I have loved and oh that love was a bright and glorious thing." He lifted his eyes to the sky and smiled as the memory of it blazed across his mind.

"And yet I squandered it, threw it in the dust and ground it to pieces with my feet. It did not have to remain so broken and neglected. We saw each other after, at celebrations such as this though they were rare, war councils, meetings of our Lords and each time I told myself, put it aside, speak to him, reach out and grasp on to that which you once had." He sighed as the age old regret flowed through him.

"And each time I had reasons a plenty to delay, next time I will do it, next month, next year, after all I had forever........procrastination, Legolas, is the enemy of love. One day I will find him, one day I will search to the ends of this place and we will be reunited."

"Then it is not the same." Legolas insisted with passion.
"He lives yet and ever will, he is not lost to you, you simply choose not to find him."

He tilted his head and looked askance at the ignorant child beside him. 

"He is not lost? When I search do you think the man I find will be the one I loved? No, for he is long gone. Buried beneath the deeds he has done, the endless grief, and yes, the madness which must consume him. He is as lost to me, that young man of fire and song as Aragorn will one day be lost to you. You find your immortality a curse? Then how much more it is a curse for him. A never-ending punishment of pain."

Beside him Legolas sighed deeply,
"I do not understand how this helps me Erestor. So we will both have lost... it changes nothing."

"Perhaps if I had taken my chances, grasped them with both hands and held on to our love instead of turning my back in fear I could have saved him? Probably not for he set his course to destruction long before he was mine. But oh I would have had such memories to take with me. All those opportunities I ignored were more precious than I knew. I wasted them Legolas, all of them." 

He leaned forward and placed a hand on his arm, he must understand this, he must!

"How do you wish to remember this day Legolas? Sitting here with an ancient one who bitterly regrets his choices or down there with them, your friends, surrounded by their love and their joy? Which memory will serve you best in the dark days to come? It is true, immeasurable pain and grief await you. Do not run to meet them. Do not lose yourself to grief before it is upon you. Live this life Legolas, make these memories, as many as you can for they will be bright shining jewels of light to help you find your way when the darkness is upon you." 

And Legolas was still, the rise and fall of his chest the only movement. For long moments he sat there, until suddenly without warning he was on his feet bending down towards him with outstretched hand.

"Will you come with me then Erestor to make a jewel of your own for the future?"

He smiled in return,
"Go, for the night is young and there is mischief to make a plenty. Do not wait for me, I will be there soon." 

He watched him go, a smile on his face and a spring in his step, a wild child of the wood he was. And his mind drifted back to his own love.

No memories here had they shared, the places of their past were long ago abandoned.
There was nowhere he could go which held rememberance of their love. It was as Legolas had said, his world was devoid of him as if he had never been.

Only this bitter loving must remain.
His heart did not forget.