Author's Final Note: That's it, that's it, here it is, the conclusion of Elven Song! Again, my many heartfelt thanks for the reviews, encouragement, and criticism that have helped drive this tale along! I'm only sorry that Real Life intervened so often and forced me to take so long to finish. All in all, I'm very happy with the way this tale ended.
I dedicate this conclusion to one of my most faithful reviewers, JastaElf, and also to my glorious betas, Ithilien and Jay of Lasgalen. Worship them!
Epilogue: To the Sea
Sam came racing into the study without knocking, very unlike him, and startled Frodo right out of his chair. "Oh, bless me, so sorry, Mr. Frodo! I just had to tell you right away!"
"What is it, Sam?" Frodo exclaimed in alarm, fearing that trouble had come again to the Shire despite King Elessar's edicts forbidding men from entering.
"The Bracegirdles down the lane were buying vegetables from Farmer Maggot; they say they saw a rider on a horse coming through the fields toward Hobbiton—and that it's an elf!" Sam was almost beside himself. "One elf all by himself, with golden hair, wearing a gray cloak! And that he asked the way to Bag End!"
"Legolas!" Frodo cried, and rushed with Sam to the door.
No sooner had they stepped outside than shouts were ringing out down the road, and hobbits were scampering from the fields to view the cause of the hubbub. It was a splendid sight indeed. Coming carefully down the dirt path upon a gray horse—small by men's standards but very large to a hobbit—was an elf, fair and tall, with flowing golden hair and bright grey eyes that held both the wisdom of the long-lived Eldar and yet the merriment of youth, his raiment of green and brown visible beneath his gray elven cloak, which was bound by a brooch shaped like a mallorn leaf.
Hobbits lined the road as he drew closer to Bag End, open-mouthed in wonder, and though he tried to greet some of them, they reacted with such utter shock at the sound of his fair voice that he soon gave up and merely smiled and nodded as he passed. Then Sam cried out, "Mr. Legolas!" and tore off down the hill, and accusing eyes turned toward him and Frodo as once again being the causes of a disruption. Still, as far as the watching hobbits were concerned, the delight of this would in the end outweigh the irritation at Frodo's eternal, complete lack of hobbit sense.
Legolas had dismounted by the time Sam reached him. "Good day, Master Samwise. I beg your pardon for sending no notice of my coming, but I could find no messenger who could reach you."
"Oh, don't be talking such nonsense, Mr. Legolas, we're pleased as punch to have you!" Sam laughed, embracing the elf to the murmurs of amazement from the onlookers. "On behalf of us all, welcome to the Shire! Oy there! Miss Diamond!" A giggling hobbit lass stepped out from a group crowded in the Green Dragon doorway. "We'll be needing Mr. Meriadoc and Mr. Peregrin along smartly. They'll be wanting to know that Mr. Legolas, another one of the Nine Walkers, is in the neighborhood!"
"So you too are one of the Fellowship?" said a voice at Frodo's elbow, and he saw that Rosie, bold in her curiosity, had come out behind them.
Legolas, graceful even in a crouch to be at closer level with the hobbits, inclined his head to her in a half-bow, causing a ripple of amazement to run through the crowds. "I am, my lady."
As Rosie turned pink with delight, Sam cleared his throat and said, "Begging your pardon, Mr. Legolas, I'm neglecting my manners. This is my wife, Rose Cotton Gamgee. Rosie, this is Legolas, son of Thranduil of Mirkwood. A very dear friend to us."
Legolas bowed again. "I am honored, Lady."
Rosie was now quite pink, and looked at her feet, replying, "Thank you, Mr. Legolas."
"It is a great joy to me to meet the family of so brave and generous a hobbit as your husband," said Legolas to her.
Then it was Sam's turn to blush. "Oh, you don't be needing to say things like that, Mr. Legolas. I doubt there's a hobbit in the world as brave and strong as the elves of Mirkwood."
"It's Eryn Lasgalen now, actually," said Frodo for the benefit of those watching. "The shadow's said to be gone, and it's beautiful again."
"That it is," Legolas agreed. He looked around with what Frodo thought was real appreciation in his bright eyes. "But I may safely say, Master Hobbits, that your Shire is as fair as any elven realm in Middle Earth, and I am well glad to have made the journey to see it."
A great cry of approval and delight went up from the watchers, and Sam leaned over to Frodo, "That'll set him in their good opinion forever!"
Frodo just smiled. "Better still since he meant it." To Legolas, he said, "Please, come be our guest at Bag End."
The doorway of Bag End had caused Legolas some consternation, to which Frodo laughed and said, "Gandalf always just ducks!"
"Very well, if Mithrandir can manage it, I do not see why I cannot," laughed the elf, and had ducked in with the others. Fortunately, he had managed to keep from bumping his head on the ceiling too often, and was introduced to the two-month-old Elanor. "How appropriate a name."
"You don't mind then, Legolas?" Sam asked worriedly. "It's not presumptuous, is it? Naming her after a Lórien flower?"
"Of course not, and certainly not when she appears to have been born to such a name," said Legolas, watching the hobbit babe with fascination. It occurred to Frodo that Legolas might well never have seen an infant before. "She is very beautiful."
"There, see, Samwise, it's not just us," said Rosie, who had become quite taken with their elven visitor already.
They'd no sooner put Elanor to bed when there was a wild thumping on the door, and two familiar hobbit voices shouting, "Legolas! Where is that elf?!"
And so there was a very merry little dinner at Bag End that night, with all four hobbits of the Fellowship, Rosie, and Legolas. Merry and Pippin were dismayed to hear that Legolas would only be staying this one night, but promised to ride out of the Shire with him on their ponies. "Mind you, don't be getting him lost!" Sam admonished them.
"Never," laughed Pippin. "At least, not beyond more than the scenic route!" They had all laughed, and Legolas had said he would welcome being shown the sights by Merry and Pippin tomorrow. He had merely come to the Shire for a glimpse of its beauty, and to see how Frodo was faring.
After dinner, Legolas and Frodo sat outside Bag End. "You needn't have come all this way, you know," said Frodo.
"I wished to," said the elf firmly. "It is not a terribly long ride by horseback, and I have long desired to see the Shire. And I did owe you a message."
"You owe me nothing," said Frodo.
But Legolas's gray eyes were fierce. "All Middle Earth owes you something, Master Hobbit. And I see few of your folk here in the Shire realize it is to you whom they are most indebted."
Frodo shook his head sharply. "You don't know quite how everything came to pass, Legolas. If thanks are due to this peace, you'd do better to give them to Sam." He looked at the elf. "I'd never have managed any of it without him." Then he smiled, "And we might well never have got anywhere without you and your bow." This time, it was Legolas's turn to appear sheepish, and he turned his gaze away. Frodo watched him. "You're not going yet, are you?"
There was silence for a moment, then Legolas said, "You have the sense of an elf, Frodo Baggins. How are you so sure?"
"Because you came to 'visit,' as you told Sam and the others, so they wouldn't know you'd come to tell me goodbye."
It seemed almost as if the elf flinched in pain at hearing the word, and his bright eyes were darkened slightly when he looked back at Frodo. "I could not do otherwise, Master Baggins. I have kept your confidence, as you asked, but I could not fail to offer you a proper farewell." Then he smiled sadly. "I had intended to bring Gimli with me, only to learn that you bade your goodbye to him already."
Frodo smiled. "We traveled with his company back through Rohan, and had his hospitality in the Glittering Caves for a few days. While we were there, I told him I was going. The first thing he wanted to know was whether I had told you. And Aragorn."
"And had you? Told Aragorn?"
"The day we left. It wouldn't do not to bid the King and Queen a proper farewell." Frodo sighed. "I'll miss them. I'll miss you all."
Legolas smiled in the dim light from Bag End's windows. "You shall be deeply missed, Frodo. But in the Undying Lands, you shall find the peace and healing that you have earned. You and Bilbo together. The Lady Galadriel, Lord Elrond, and Mithrandir shall see to that."
"When will you go over the sea, Legolas? Not for some years now, I think."
Legolas nodded. "Not for a lifetime." Frodo was startled, but then the elf smiled and qualified it, "A mortal lifetime."
Frodo understood then, and it awed him. "Will…I mean…what about the…longing?" He wished he had not said it, for Legolas flinched again. "Will you manage all right?"
"I shall," said the elf, his voice growing softer. "I must. I cannot leave yet. I have purpose yet in Middle Earth." The sorrow left his voice, and he smiled more easily at Frodo. "The Lady helped me to see it again. As did you. My time has not yet come."
"I hope I'll see you again," said Frodo.
"You shall, Master Baggins. You shall."
The next morning, Legolas bade a reluctant farewell to Frodo, Samwise, his Rosie, and little Elanor, as he, Merry, and Pippin prepared to depart. It seemed the most heartfelt of his farewells to Frodo had already been given, for the cheerful goodbye they exchanged in the presence of the others was easy, and without bitterness. It did ache somewhat in the elf's heart, though, to think of the many years that must pass before he would see the Ringbearer again.
As they were making ready to ride, with Merry and Pippin debating the loveliest route to take back East out of the Shire, Frodo came suddenly to Arod's side. "I've something for you, Legolas," he said softly, and Legolas dismounted, keeping a quick eye on the other hobbits lest they hear. "Queen Arwen said she knew you weren't ready to leave Middle Earth just yet, when I said goodbye to her. And so…I asked her if I could give you something before I left."
Legolas raised his eyebrows curiously as the hobbit fished beneath his collar. "It was something she gave me, you see, just after Aragorn became King. It's been a great comfort." Then his hands rose, and brought from around his neck a silver chain, from which hung a white gem that Legolas had seen before.
The elf felt his jaw drop. He had once seen this stone adorn the neck of Aragorn, and had realized that the mortal had found the favor of the Evenstar. That it should be given to the Ringbearer neither surprised nor troubled him, but that the Ringbearer should wish to bestow it upon… "Frodo…no, I cannot…"
"She bade me give it to you, Legolas," said Frodo, holding out the chain to him. "She knew even as I tried to find words to ask, and she said it was a wonderful idea. Please, you must take it. I'm not going to need it anymore." Seeing that the elf was paralyzed, he seized Legolas's hand and placed the gift in it, closing the elf's long fingers firmly around it. "She told me once, 'When the memory of the fear and the darkness troubles you, this will bring you aid.' And it has, Legolas, it has. I know the memory troubles you too, and not just of the War of the Ring. I know how few elves linger in Middle Earth when they've been struck by the sea-longing." He squeezed Legolas's fist around the gem, as the elf stared at him in utter amazement. "Take it, and let it aid you as it did me."
Trembling slightly, Legolas opened his fingers and stared at the stone, then Frodo took it up again and placed it around his neck, secreting it behind the elf's tunic out of sight. When Legolas looked up again, it seemed to him that he saw the fair, innocent Frodo Baggins who had first sat in the Council of Elrond, so full of wonder and bewilderment, before the shadow had ground away two years of his life. Frodo would find healing in Valinor, and he had given Legolas the means of finding it in Middle Earth. "Ringbearer…there are no words of thanks that can properly answer this gift."
Frodo smiled. "Then just wish me a safe voyage."
"Always," laughed Legolas, and embraced the hobbit in farewell. Then he rose to his feet, and felt already that the painful call of the sea and the agonizing stab of the Black Hunter's violation had been driven further from him. "May the blessings of the Valar be with you always, Frodo Baggins. We shall meet again." Then he mounted, and rode to where Merry and Pippin waited with their ponies. He waved once to Frodo, who stood once more beside Sam and Rosie on the steps of Bag End, then followed his eager guides down the road.
Merry and Pippin led Legolas on a grand tour of the Shire surrounding Hobbiton for most of the morning, until at last Legolas told them he had to be moving on. There was still much to be done in Eryn Harn, and his people had already been without him for some weeks for his visit to Bag End. So the hobbits led him back to the East-West Road to Bree, and said their goodbyes.
"You'll come back to the Shire some day, won't you, Legolas?" said Merry.
"Of course he will!" said Pippin. "He'll be wanting to meet all our families, and I've heard tell he said this place is as fair as any elf forest!"
Legolas smiled at them. "They speak the truth who tell this tale, Master Peregrin. The Shire is a fair land, and I should be glad to see it again."
"If you can find the time with all your elf-home building over in Ithilien," sighed Pippin.
Merry laughed. "He'll find the time, all right! He's an elf! He has all the time in the world!"
Legolas laughed and waved a merry farewell to his two friends, then turned his horse about and galloped down the road toward the mid-morning sun.