TITLE: Falling Leaves
AUTHOR: Gevaudan
RATING: G. It's a bit sad, nothing else.
SUMMARY: Legolas has to break the news of his departure to Eldarion, son of Aragorn.


***

Legolas Greenleaf, Lord of Ithilien was leaving Middle Earth and making his final journey to Valinor. But before he left Legolas had one farewell to say, to Eldarion son of Aragorn. The new King of Gondor.
'Can you not stay?' the young man asked, 'Counsel me as you did my father?'
Legolas smiled at this.
'I did not counsel your father Eldarion, he did not need it and nor do you. His strength runs in your veins as does the strength of the line of Beren and the line of the Kings of Numenor. I tried my best to protect your father but in this age; the age of men, you need my assistance no longer.'
Eldarion looked faintly surprised and deeply saddened at the prospect of the slender Elf departing to Valinor. Legolas' eyes grew pained as the young King posed his next question.

'You like dwelling in Ithlien do you not?' It was more a statement than a question but Legolas saw fit to answer it anyway.

'Yes,' he paused for a moment before continuing, 'but I can dwell in Middle Earth no longer, the Age of Men is upon us and it is time for my people to leave these shores. To leave Middle Earth in the capable hands of you and your people, my place and the place of my people is in Valinor now. However much I love Middle Earth, and the woods of Ithilien is inconsequential. The time has come for me to make my voyage, Eldarion. I cannot deny the call of the sea any longer.'

'That the Age of Men has come matters not, Legolas. You are liked and well respected by all citizens of Gondor. They would welcome you with open arms.'

Legolas smiled again.

'You have the persistence of your father Eldarion, and that will serve you well, but still I could not dwell among men for long.' He halted and sank to sit on the city's stone steps, gazing out over Minas Tirith, the plains of Rohan and to a dark smudge on the horizon, barely distinguishable even to Elven eyes; the woods of Fangorn.
'I am old Eldarion. As old perhaps as some of the trees in the woods of Gondor. Three thousand years is a long time to dwell here my friend, and yet if I desired it I may be able to remain here another three thousand. But I do not have the strength to do so.'

'I do not understand,' that much was evident. The confusion was written all over his face, 'you are one of the bravest people I know. As brave as my father was.'

'Bravery has nothing to do with it Eldarion,' and now the Elf's youthful face turned sad. 'Imagine if you were a tree, and you knew every leaf that dwelled around you. You knew each of them as a friend. And yet, each winter the leaves die and fall to the ground never to be seen by the tree again.'

'But Legolas, the leaves grow back, do they not?' uncertainty trembled beneath the voice.'

'They grow back, but they are not the same leaves as before, they are new leaves, but still in winter the same fate befalls them. That is what it would be like for me to remain here alone Eldarion. I would remain alive but unfairly, everyone I know would pass from the circles of life into the roads of the dead. I would be powerless to stop it and the grief would crush my heart. I am no tree and I would feel each loss, as I feel the loss of your father. I cannot stay here, I couldn't bear it, Aragorn's death has shown me this much. I must leave soon, I will sail in the spring.'

Eldarion's eyes were no longer sad, but burned with a white hot anger.

'You would leave us alone then? Without your protection should we need it.'

Legolas leapt to his feet and spun to face the man his eyes burning with a fierce intensity.
'No, I would never do that. Never. Should you, your heir or any of your descendants need my assistance, at any time, you need only send word with the white ships and I will return as fast as is possible.'

'Can you even do that?'

'I will find a way, you have my word on that, if ever I am needed by the realm of Gondor, I will find a way back to Middle Earth. I will not let all that your father, Mithrandir and Frodo worked so hard to achieve fall into ruin. I would rather die than subject Middle Earth to that.'

Eldarion nodded then finally.

'Thank you, Legolas Son of Thranduil. I pray to Eru that we may never have need of your aid,' he spoke formally, then softened, 'journey safely Legolas. May the wind be at your back, and the son light your path.'

The Elf smiling, turned to the sunlit path leading away from where they stood talking.

'Namarie Eldarion.' He turned and walked away, never looking back on his past, but forward to the future.

'Be at peace...son of Greenwood.' whispered Eldarion as he saw the blonde hair gleaming in the sunlight, one final time.

He never saw the tear that trickled down the Elf's face as the words ghosted to him on the wind.