Title: In My Heart
Rating: This chapter's like a G rating
Summary, Disclaimer, Author's notes: See chapter 1
Thank you to Rhonda, Trin, and Andrea for reviewing on MC, and grumpy, tmelange, and Emiliana Keladry for reviewing on ff.net.
Why can't they understand the way we feel?
They just don't trust what they can't explain.
I know we're different but deep inside us,
We're not that different at all.
Don't listen to them, 'cuz what do they know?
We need each other, to have, to hold.
They'll see in time, I know.
In the coming weeks, Estel healed slowly as was normal for human children, and was confined to his bed to protect his injuries. His father joked that Imladris was going to run out of parchments for the boy to draw on, and took advantage of the situation, increasing the history and language lessons that were among Estel's favorite "indoor lessons".
It was in between these lessons, when Estel grew bored and restless, that he and Legolas's bond grew more unbreakable. While the Elf prince was slowly getting over the feeling as though he had let Estel down, and failed the sons of Elrond as well as the Lord himself, his spirits were uplifted by the unceasing chatter of the adolescent in his midst. From reciting various stories of famous battles and heroes, to asking endless questions about this and that, from Mirkwood's spiders to Rohan's horses, Estel was a constant source of laughter for the young prince. Not once did he think of how his father or other friends would feel. While he hoped that the biased Elves would accept the boy because of his friendship, he knew that in all likelihood when he returned to his home, he would not be able to speak of his friend with confidence and not be ridiculed for it.
So it was that Mirkwood's prince had many introspective sessions upon the subject, as well as many talks with the twins. They too knew of the single mindedness of the Sindar, and could not offer much support.
Legolas had taken to wandering the forests around Imladris to clear his head after listening to his guards' hushed comments about the frailty of the Second born, and the idiocy of the child who thought a Prince of Elves could befriend him. It saddened Legolas that his own guard were so blinded by their past hates, and for this he once again found himself alone in the safety of Imladris' boundaries.
He was drawn in upon his own thoughts, and did not hear the rustle of the bushes behind him. He did not notice the branches breaking under heavy feet, and was not warned by the never-failing sounds of the trees. That was his first thought when he found himself facedown in the brush.
"The trees have never not told me of danger, I wonder what happened?" He thought even as he was rising and pulling his knives. As he turned to face his attacker, he was taken aback by the wide eyes that stared at the blade that was locked with his. "Well that explains it. The trees wouldn't see you as a danger, would they Estel?"
"N-n-no, Taren, they wouldn't." Estel's eyes were glassed over with tears, and Legolas feared that he had scared him.
"Oh Estel, I am sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. Please don't cry."
"It isn't you, Taren. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be a burden that you felt you had to humor while you remained here." The boy's vocabulary level did not match the words, and it didn't take much to understand what had happened.
"Do you really believe that Estel?"
"I don't even really know what it means, but I know it must be bad, 'cuz 'Dan got real mad when he heard it."
"Estel, you have shown me an innocence and an appreciation for life that I had almost forgotten. You have saved me from becoming like my guards. I do not pretend to know why they think as they do, and I don't expect you to understand it either. I promise you, though, you are no burden, and I count you among one of my greatest friends." Legolas wiped away Estel's tears, and tickled him. "Now, no more of this talk. Let's go see what we can find in the kitchens, shall we?"
Estel nodded and the two began the short walk back to the Last Homely House. As children do, Estel could not wait long before coming up with questions, questions that were increasingly harder for Legolas to answer.
"Yes, tithen pen?"
"Why did they say that then?" Estel was chewing on his lips, and his eyebrows were raised, expecting the Prince to have the answer for everything.
"I don't know, Estel, I wish I did. They seem to be stuck on this idea that you are not as good as any of them because you're a Man. It makes no sense to me."
Estel took a few more steps before asking again. "But what makes us so different Legolas? You and I both like nature, we both are warriors," Legolas had the good graces to compose himself quickly at that, "we both like Elladan and Elrohir, and we both like raspberry tarts. What's the difference other than you're a g-zillion years older than I am? That doesn't really make that much of a difference, does it?"
Legolas scooped the child off his feet and onto his back. "Not to me, little Estel. It doesn't make any difference to me. And some day soon, it won't make a difference to them if you're Elf or Edan."
When destiny calls you, you must be strong.
I may not be with you, but you've got to hold on.
They'll see in time, I know.
We'll show them together, 'cuz
You'll be in my heart
Believe me you'll be in my heart.
I'll be there from this day on
Now and forevermore.
"Estel, I'm sorry."
"No you aren't. You're going to leave, and you aren't going to come back. You don't want to be around me any more because I'm edan. I told you so." Estel was pouting in his room, sitting against the door clutching his teddy bear, and scowling at the tears that marred his face.
"Oh Estel, let me come in. Please? I want to make things right." Legolas's face was marred with less, but still present, tears, at how the day had gone. His father had sent a messenger pigeon to Imladris, requesting rather harshly that it was time for the Prince to return home. News of the delegation's meeting had undoubtedly been sent by one of the advisors, and Legolas had a sneaking suspicion that his friendship had also been the topic of the message.
Feeling too angry to break the news to Estel, Legolas had decided to pack first and then find the boy. The Valar were not smiling on him that day, however, and as he was in the middle of packing his last pair of leggings, he heard the door behind him slam, and heard pattering feet racing down the hall. That sent him sprinting out of his room, and found him in his current situation.
Looking down, Legolas saw the doorknob start to turn slowly, and wiped the tears from his eyes. He could still try and salvage his friendship with Isildur's heir, though he did not know the importance of the boy at the time.
Smiling gently at Estel, Legolas stepped into the room and followed the boy to where he clambered up onto the bed. Sitting down next to the ten-year old, Legolas tried to put his arm over his friend's shoulders, and was met with a defiant scowl.
"Estel, I'm sorry. I was coming to tell you. My father has called for me, and I must return to Mirkwood for a time."
"You said you'd always be with me."
"I said I'd always be in your heart, little one. There are going to be times when I have to go away for a while, when I have to return to my home to see my own father and tend to tasks that are appointed to me. I have responsibilities to my family and my people."
"But I'll miss you. What happens if the Orcs come back and get me?" Estel's innocent eyes betrayed his fears, and Legolas realized that the boy saw him as a protector, much like his brothers. When Legolas went away, Estel felt as though there would be one less person watching his back.
"Oh, little one, your brothers will be here to teach you how to defend yourself so you can grow up to be a great and powerful warrior. You are a Man, yes, and do not have resilience such as that of the Elves, but that is not a fault that should keep you locked in your room afraid to face the dangers of the world. Your brothers will keep you safe until you can protect yourself and go out and show the world who you are. And I will be back as soon as I can to help them and to show you how to shoot an arrow better than even your brothers. After all, they're only silly Noldor Elves."
Estel looked a little confused, but he seemed to understand for the most part that Legolas was leaving because of obligations, and not because he wanted to leave the boy. "You'll come back?"
"Yes, Estel, I will come back when I can."
"But what if something happens to you? What if a spider gets you, or an Orc? You won't be able to come back, like my parents didn't."
"Oh Estel, nothing will happen to me. But even if it does, you'll just have to grow up even stronger because I'll be kept alive in your heart. I may not be here in person, little one, but you'll hold on to my strength for me. Is that a deal?"
Estel contemplated this for a moment before nodding and launching himself into Legolas's arms, as he was wont to do.
I'll be with you
I'll be there for you always
Always and always
The next morning proved difficult for both the Prince and Estel, whereas the guards looked as if they couldn't be happier to be leaving the human behind. Many of them secretly harbored new and less desirable thoughts about the rationale of the Lord Elrond for taking in such a child, and whispered about a "charity case" amongst themselves in the secrecy of their small circles.
Standing at the Gates, Legolas held onto the reins of his horse while Estel looked very much the Ranger he would some day turn out to be. He was going directly to weapons practice with the twins after Legolas's departure, and thus had his sword strapped to his belt and his quiver and bow on his back. Elrond hoped that allowing Estel a day in his favorite lessons would take his mind off Legolas leaving.
"So you promise that you'll come back, Taren?"
"I promise, with all the honor of a Prince of Mirkwood, that I will return when I can, young Elrondion."
Estel smiled at the recognition of his status in the House of Elrond, and, with his still immature ways, turned to the seemingly disinterested guards, and stuck out his tongue. He turned back as Legolas bent down and whispered into his ear,
Amin naa yassen lle.
Amin naa eller ten'lle ilyamenie
And with that, the Thranduilion departed with his guards, and Estel turned to make his way to the archery fields.
Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
Estel had only made it a few feet when he heard Legolas's horse galloping back into the courtyard.
"Estel, wait a minute." Legolas called, even as he was dismounting. "I have something for you." He waited for Estel to turn around and run back to him. Legolas knelt down to the boy's level, and pulled an arrow from his own quiver, turning the boy around and placing it with the practice arrows. "Don't use it in practice, little one, but keep it with you in your quiver. That way, you will always remember that I am with you. And if you can't remember, and you're in trouble out in the Wilds again, just look over your shoulder and take heart because my arrow is with you, and it will give you strength."
With that, Legolas rose, mounted his steed gracefully once more, and, with a final look at Estel's smile, left Imladris once more, this time leaving for many years.
Just look over your shoulder
I'll be there –
An Epilogue of Sorts.
It was a good seven years later before Estel found himself in trouble of such an epic proportion that he prayed to the Valar to save his life. Surrounded by Orcs and wargs, Estel was wounded, and was fighting off as many of the beasts as he could. He had been separated from his brothers on his first real hunt, and could only hope for their survival, while he doubted his own.
Seeing a break in the horde, Estel broke for the safety of the trees, and somehow managed to make his way into the safety of the branches. Situating himself in the leaves, Estel drew his bow, and, thinking that the situation was hopeless, began picking off as many of the fell creatures as he could. When his fingers reached back into his quiver once more, he could only feel an old, decrepit arrow that would no longer hold true in its flight. This did not dishearten the boy, however, as he turned to look at the arrow over his shoulder, remembering the long-ago friend that had given the yellow-fletched arrow to him.
He had not seen Legolas in the past seven years, and had not heard from him in a very long time. Not hoping for a miracle, Estel instead relied on the strength that emanated from the arrow and once again jumped from the tree, pulling his sword on the way down. Looking behind him to survey how many he had left to fight, Estel glimpsed an Elf in the distance running to what appeared to be his aid. Turning back to the fight, Estel beheaded an Orc at the same time that it was shot in the heart with an arrow. Estel stalled for a minute as he stared at the feathers on the end of the shaft. They looked far too familiar.
His hesitation would have cost him as it had in the past, but this time the Orc that stood to render him unconscious fell dead instead, and Estel jumped when he realized his mistake.
"You should be more careful, little one. I told you I'd be there for you always."