AUTHOR'S NOTE: I sincerely apologize for the absurdly long update. A writer's worst enemy is the dreaded Writer's Block, and I had a bad case of it in regards to this story. It lasted long enough to break my interest from this story. This will be my final chapter of this particular story, which wound up being much longer than originally planned, so I'm ready to wrap it up.
Life beyond the trial has always been difficult for me. I became a father without his children, a husband without his wife. Aragorn, I think, worried for my life, for he knew quite well that aside from death in battle, a broken heart could kill an elf. I knew this too, and was ever thankful that I had Aragorn, Gimli, and Arwen in my life. In all honesty, they saved my life, for they helped make it bearable.
I became Uncle Legolas to little Eldarion and his sister and often visited the children, for they fostered my paternal instincts. Sometimes Eldarion would come and stay in Ithilien in my home for a few days and when he was only enough, I began to teach him how to use a bow. Gimli was a constant fixture in my home as well, and it felt good to have my friend so close. In time, the danger of death passed like a shadow in the noonday sun.
The years passed quickly, the seasons blending one into the other without my even acknowledgement. I still had a kingdom to run, though as time passed, there became less and less of the Eldar to lord over. Steadily, my people made their way to the Grey Havens, passing over the sea to the Undying Lands. The dormant Sea-Longing was stirred slightly in my heart, but as I had done before, I forced it back down, ignoring it. There was still too much keeping my heart bound to Arda. Still, the thought of being reunited with my father and mother was always in the deep recesses of my thought. At length, there came the final day of my reign as king. The last of my people began their journey. I was now the last of the wood elves left in Middle Earth. Rivendell had long since been emptied and Lothlorien wrapped in silence, never to hear the songs of the elves again.
I reasoned to myself that now was the time to leave Middle Earth myself; that there was nothing else left for me to do. Why should I not take my leave? My ship was ready. All I had to do was make the journey to the Havens. And yet I could not bring myself to do so. And then, everything changed.
Many years had gone by since the war had been won and Sauron destroyed. Gondor had flourished under the gentle hand of King Elessar. But even the great Numenorean had grown weary and the years did not leave him unscathed. True, he was blessed with long life, but he was not immortal. After my people had left, Aragorn had bidden me to live within his palace, for now there was nothing left for me in Ithilien. I readily accepted the offer, knowing that he was right. And so I now began to see how the years had started to touch the king. His dark hair became silver, the lines of care and turmoil that he carried more pronounced, though now they seemed lines of years spent in bliss. His steps became slower and his movements more deliberate. A sadness came into his eyes that I could not ignore.
Then the day dawned when the king of Gondor passed away and his son and heir, Eldarion, took the throne.
Aragorn's passing was a bitter time and not a soul in Gondor and Rohan did not weep for the dead king. All who knew him, or knew of him, had loved him. As for Gimli and myself, the cruel hand of death had stolen from us more than a friend, but a brother. Arwen did not take her husband's death well and was ever after but a wraith of herself, pale and deathlike herself. It was not long after that she left Minas Tirith and did not return.
Now at last I felt my mission in Middle Earth complete and the Sea-Longing would no longer be ignored. I began to make preparations for my final journey. Gimli, I noticed, began to sulk, not wishing to lose yet another friend. Indeed, my own heart broke and I often thought that if only I could stay in Arda for a while longer, I could avoid leaving the dwarf behind. But the pull of the sea was too great, having been stifled for far too long in my heart. Reluctantly, I forced myself to accept the fact that I would have to leave my dwarven behind.
The final night of my life in Arda came to pass. That night I lay in a dream, in which I could see the Lady Galadriel. Behind her stood Elrond and Gandalf, all keepers of the elven rings of power.
"Legolas, son of Thranduil," I heard her say in my mind, though her lips moved not. "You prepare to travel to the Havens, your heart torn in two. Resolve yourself to the journey and regret nothing. All of the Firstborn must pass into Valinor, this you know. And yet your heart grieves. But this I say: Forget your grief, for though you are the last of the elves to leave Arda, you shall not travel alone."
"How?" I thought. "Even Cirdan the shipwright has left these shores. Who now shall travel with me over so wide a sea?"
"A dear friend, my young prince," said she, in response to my thoughts. "Gimli shall accompany you."
"But he is not of elven blood," I wondered. "Surely he may come to the Havens, but not board the ship. Though Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam have been admitted to do so, Gimli is no more a ring bearer than I a mortal man."
To this, the lady laughed and her eyes seemed to smile. "And yet he shall board the ship and come into Valinor, for his friendship with you has more than earned him a place by your side until the end. I, Galadriel, have named him elf-friend, much as your father titled Bilbo, and so he is permitted into the Undying Lands. But awake now and begin your journey.!"
With that, I was awake, knowing in my heart that it was not merely a dream that I had been having, but a message from the Lady herself. Excited, I ran into Gimli's room, not caring that dawn had not even broken, and relayed the entire message to him. Now the dwarf too, was beginning to show that age had not left him untouched, but as I spoke it seemed to me that age fell from him and he was once again the young dwarf that I had met in Rivendell and made to travel with. He began to pack his things at once, eager for the journey and talking excitedly, for now he was to remain by my side and he would see the Lady of Lothlorien again as well.
The sound of Gimli's snores jars me suddenly from my thoughts. The night has melted away into day; the sun is just beginning to pour out her light as she peeks above the horizon. Gimli is sleeping sitting in his chair under the open sky and I can see the graying hairs mingled with the dark ones of his head and beard. I sigh to myself. He is definitely not as young as he once was. Neither am I, but I do not think that I show it. Perhaps I am a little wiser than I was when I was with the Fellowship, but time has no rotting effect on the Eldar.
To my left, I see a gull flying low to the water's surface. He too is nearing the end of a journey and the sea calls to him. I know that he is going to die, that bird, and I cannot help but think how his story is like that of my friends. All have made their journey, some over the sea and out of Arda, and others in death, all of them never to return. And yet life still continues on in Arda and outside of it.
"Hannon le," I say to the bird, thanking him for his story, for now my heart feels strangely lighter.
I look out into the distance, squinting a little in the sunlight, which now comes much stronger as the sun climbs higher in the sky. Suddenly I see it; a stretch of white shores and my heart leaps. Valinor is before us. Before I can wake Gimli, a flash of silver just barely makes it to my eyes and in my heart I know what it is that I saw.
"Gimli," I say, shaking the dwarf lightly to awaken him.
"Confounded elf! Just because you like to greet the sun as soon as it rises, does not mean that we dwarves need to as well!"
I laugh as his feigned annoyance, for his eyes betrayed the forced wrath of his tongue.
"Well, what is it? Do not tell me that you have awoken me just for a laugh."
"Nay, Gimli," I say and shake my head. "We are drawing near to Valinor. I cannot be certain, but I think that the Lady Galadriel awaits our arrival on the shores. A saw a glint of silver, the sun reflecting off her ring perhaps."
Gimli is on his feet in a flash and peering into the distance, though I know that his eyesight is not quite what it once was. A point towards the shores and this time three flashes of light catch my eye. We are being welcomed home.