Note: Oh, mother of distractions! Well here it is...I couldn't rest until I had done it...
But another thing: This has an alternate timeline. I know Aragorn died in the 120th year of the Fourth Age, Legolas and Gimli left Middle-Earth soon after he died, and Arwen died in 121, but here's the time for this story (it's not that hard):
120: Death of Aragorn
120-125: Arwen departs Minas Tirinth and dwells in Lorien for five years.
125: Arwen receives her visitor. And now...
To Pass the Night
Chapter One: To Seek
Lightly falling above the crunching leaves, they wound their way through the forest, searching.
Measured, cautious feet, belonging to a weary, hopeful soul they were, always keeping the same rhythm, never straying off the path they had taken.
It had been many months since she had heard such a noise.
The time that she had dwelt away from her home had caused an exhaustion in her being-all her personality, her emotion, her appearance, had undergone a metamorphosis. With the one thing she loved the most ripped from her arms, only one aura emanated from her personage now.
Lightly she raised her head. She had alighted next to a flat rock, legs tucked under her, resting her head on its surface, cradled by her arms. The footsteps were approaching.
They were seeking her.
But this was unheard of. During all the time she had dwelt under the misty trees, among the peaks of the mountain, she had never had a visitor. All knew her sorrow...all knew she could not be eased.
And yet, someone was coming.
She stood up slowly, without ceremony. The hood of her cloak was pulled tight around her face, as she awaited the figure approaching from the eastern wood. Elves no longer dwelt in Lothlorien, and men were reluctant to approach even the outskirts of the great forest. Who could it be, this hunter, who wished to see her?
Plainly she awaited her fate, her mind clouded and grieving, her face displaying a black curiosity.
Amid the sheets of mist, a figure materialized. An elf it was, tall, slender, wearing a long cloak. As he came nearer more details could be seen- he donned a green tunic with blue leggings, and a bow and arrows were tucked into a sheath at his back. Yes, he had a purpose here, that was clear. To find her.
He became aware of her suddenly, as she watched him. He had vainly been searching for forty-three days-his eyes were worn, his mind despairing. He had nearly given up hope. But he knew she was alive and that she could be found, somehow. And now he saw what others may not-the figure standing in the clearing, through the dead, jagged wintry trees.
Their eyes met; her mouth parted slightly.
He sped his pace, and quickly jogged through the forest to reach her clearing. Carelessly he let branches tear at his cloak, let loose twigs snap on his bow. He had found her. He had found her!
She had not moved from her vantage point; she watched as he stepped through the low shrubs and bushes, his eyes on her the whole time. The only being she had seen in an eternity.
His face was a mixture of awe, relief, and sadness, as he came up to her, afraid to even touch her. She stared back at him vacantly, curious as to his call. Happiness could not be found with her-her sorrow was too deep.
For a long while they merely faced each other, the wind whipping through his cloak, bending the hood of hers back.
He whispered: "Arwen."
She blanched at the sound of her name, a name which had not been heard for many seasons. Was it truly the name, the name her parents had bestowed, the name her adopted people knew her by?
His hand reached for hers. She allowed him to take it in his own, and hold it near his heart. She could feel his heart beating in his chest. Simple, excited beating, the heart of an elf who had finally reached his goal.
She looked into his eyes, deep blue with hints of white sunlight filtered through them.
He continued: "It is Legolas."
He spoke in Sindarin, the last vestiges of a language she could hardly remember. But yet, everything came back to her as she gazed into his eyes, anchoring them to her soul for support.
"Yes. I remember you."
His eyes grow smaller as he forsook the ceremonial elven greeting and caught her up in a warm embrace. She could do nothing but wrap her arms around him as he burrowed into her neck. "I searched for you for so many days...I had almost given up."
"No...no, I am still here. I will always dwell here," she answered, her cheek rubbing against his warm face. She slowly broke apart and asked, "But why have you come?"
Legolas averted his eyes slightly, but said, "When I heard of Aragorn's death I went immediately to see you at Minas Tirinth. But when I arrived, you had already departed for Lothlorien. Your son and daughters told me it was best that I did not seek you, and so I left as well. But as time passed, it gnawed at my soul, this last goodbye that should have been yours; and so I decided to go against the advice of your children and search for you. I have been here over a month already, beneath these grey woods, where you, my elusive, dwell."
"I should not be so much trouble," Arwen answered. "You should not have come, my lord. What have I to say anymore...other than my grief."
"Have I upset you? Do you wish me to leave as soon as I have arrived?"
She shook her head. "If it is your wish to visit me, then by all means fulfill it; I will not turn you away."
"That is glad news to a weary soul."
She smiled, out of old habit. She had been very fond of Prince Legolas, ever since they had first met as children in Rivendell, over two thousand years ago. They were distant cousins, and at times, the best of friends. Even after Arwen's coronation they had remained close, with Legolas often coming up to see her and Aragorn, and their children. She loved him dearly, and always would.
But sorrow had made her forget that she loved him, forget that she loved anyone else but her king.
She sighed deeply, and gestured to him. "Walk with me." He offered his arm to her and she took it, resting her fingers on his forearm.
Amidst the endless grey forest they strolled, arm in arm, old friends once again. "You must tell me of the world in which I once belonged," Arwen began. "You must tell me of my people, and my friends, and the happenings I have distanced myself from."
Legolas nodded, wishing to comfort her in any way he could. "Of your children, Eldarion is a fine king; he leads with grace and integrity. Your daughters flourish, wise and beautiful, and all three are as skilled in swordsmanship as their father. Yet...they greatly miss you."
Arwen nodded stoically. She paused before she continued, "And Gondor?"
"It is prosperous, well-governed by your son."
"And what of Master Dwarf, Gimli?"
Legolas smiled. "He is well. We remain, as always, good friends. He wished me to send his love to you, when I found you."
The corners of her mouth twitched. "And return my love to him as well. And you, dearest cousin...what is your state?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary, I'm afraid. My princely duties call me.but I am glad to forsake them sometimes. Many of the elves who are still in Middle-Earth are under my guidance, and I lead them until they depart for the Grey Havens."
Arwen nodded. "A fitting position for one such as yourself."
Legolas said nothing. He only tightened his grip on Arwen's arm as they walked along. Closing his eyes for an instant, he could remember the old Rivendell, back when Elrond still dwelt there with Celebrian. He cherished the long visits taken down with his father, Thranduil; he rejoiced when he saw the glad eyes and mouth welcoming him to her home. He could remember strolling like this with the beautiful Arwen, skilled in laughter as she was with philosophy, the perfect companion for an afternoon spent along the mountain, cousins and friends together.
He quickly opened them and saw that the world was not so. That they were still in Lorien; and then Arwen, after five years, still grieved heavily.
He ventured: "And what has become of you, dear cousin?"
She wished he did not ask that. For a while her life was a little bit brighter; for a while she was gladdened to hear of the success of her children and friends. But to ask her what her life was like here, wasting away under the trees, as Elrond had predicted...
"It is peaceful," she replied truthfully. "Although in me stirs a great longing for him.these woods give me some comfort. Here I can reflect on the years I spent with him, the happiest years of my life. When I lay myself down I dream of him, and entire passages of days and months I relive again, in his company. Here I find shelter, even though it does not keep from the cold in which I awaken to."
She stopped suddenly, as if her feet were rooted to the ground. Then she continued, as if nothing had happened. "And that is my life."
Legolas said nothing. Such a life, he thought. It is understandable that she should be upset about Aragorn; but to hide herself from all living things, to wander about until death should claim her, forever thinking of her king. How could her life come to this end? He stared slowly at his cousin, who now walked on a little more confidently.
They walked in silence for a while, enjoying each other's presence. Arwen had been so used to herself that she had quite forgotten how to keep speaking; when she finished one thought she would quiet herself until another came into her brain, which she voiced. It was Legolas who spoke most often, of anything and everything he wanted to tell her. He told her of several attacks on the elves from some stray orcs in the mountains, and how they had been quickly eliminated; how Gimli had wished to marry a fifth cousin of his from an old family of Moria, but how he had been rejected; and know he himself had visited the bridge that led to the Shire, and had been met there by Samwise Gamgee's great-great-granddaughter, Briony, and shown the endings of the book Frodo Baggins had begun, and that Sam had ended.
Arwen smiled and commented on some of these anecdotes, slightly joyous to hear of her old friends' fortunes and tribulations. Still, her face was long and drawn, and carried degrees of the ever-present sorrow always.
By nightfall, they found themselves in the same clearing they had found each other in. The moon cast an eerie shadow over the mists, rising through the tops of trees and bearing down on them as if to crush them. Here Arwen parted from Legolas. She looked up at the moon, blurred through the foggy silhouettes. "It is night," she stated simply. She turned back to him. "You must go; to stay here too long is to be immersed in the sadness which always stays within me." She again turned to face the north. "If you follow the trail of stones through the north, you can reach the exit by tomorrow afternoon."
Legolas could hardly believe her. Leave? "Leave!" he repeated, astonished. "My dear Arwen, to walk with you but a few hours, then take my leave of you? It shall never be done on my part! I have not seen you for five years..."
Arwen visibly softened. Her face turned sorrowful again as she recalled. "It has been five years?" she repeated, unbelieving. "Nay, nay, Legolas, it has only been but a few months..."
Legolas shook his head. "Nay...these woods have distorted your sense of time, cousin. It has been five years since Aragorn died, since you departed from us."
"Ah," was all she could say, with quiet comprehension. Time had blended together for her. The night and day and everything in between inhabited the fog.
She sat down on the flat rock, contemplating again. Legolas knelt down next to her, his face keen as he took her hands in his yet again. "I ask your permission, my lady...if I could, to accompany you for a time-not too short, yet not too long-in these woods. Believe me, nothing would bring me more comfort than to spend time with you."
Touched, she brought his hands to her lap. That he would search for her in this forsaken place, that he would remember her, the one reminder of her life in an age past.
To be continued...
Note: Please review! I'd like to know what everyone thought of my story...I already have a second chapter written, and if this gets enough reviews, I'll post it. Remember: constructive criticism, but no flaming!