Legolas smiled as a group of young people rushed by, their laughter filling the air. Setting aside his pen and the letter he had been writing, he stood and went to the balustrade. He took a deep breath, savoring the beauty of the mountainside haven, from the sweet scent of the trees to the sounds of its inhabitants. As if it had been reading his thoughts, a jay landed on his tunic and chirped its greetings. Legolas murmured his own in return, and the jay leapt into flight once more. Legolas watched as it flew away, then stepped out of the pavilion.
Yet "outside" it could not truly be called, for he had never been inside; the rooms and dwellings were neither indoors nor outdoors, not hewn from the earth, but a part of it. The settlement reminded Legolas of both Rivendell and Lothlórien, though it was like to neither, for southern Ithilien was a land entirely its own. Neither a valley nor a lowland forest, the settlement was nestled against the base of Emyn Arnen, the southern highlands, on the east, but it was open to the vista of Anduin and beyond on the west. On the forest floor, wide pavilions, open halls, workshops and gardens had been crafted around the trees. Winding stairs curved around the trunks of some of the taller ones, leading up to flets and dwellings above, cradled between the treetops and the mountainside.
The settlement, which Legolas had named Brethil long ago, was home to the Silvan folk who had followed him from the Wood of Greenleaves after the War of the Ring. The arts of the Elves had been sorely needed in the war-ravaged south, and all that Legolas had seen and done in the War had made him wish, for the first time in his life, to become something other than a warrior. Though he would never refuse the call to arms, should arms be needed, he wished to create, and to build, and to feel the peace of the land healing itself around him. So his father had given him leave to come here, with a score or so of their people, and they had founded Brethil.
Legolas had spent many years leading parties of Elves and Men through Ithilien's forests and highlands, removing the filth, planting seedlings, and nurturing them with song and spirit. He had designed the gardens for the new home of Prince Faramir and Lady Éowyn, which was in the highlands not far from Brethil. Legolas fast became Faramir's good friend, finding easy kinship with the intelligent, compassionate man. He enjoyed Éowyn's company, too, and she was ever curious to hear about the ways of his people, and of their songs and stories. As their son grew to manhood, Legolas taught him many arts.
Legolas's life was busy, and he felt proud of what his people had accomplished. Yet while he was often content, he was not completely at peace. He had never been able to dismiss the sea-call; it was ever present in his heart, and he had begun to feel that it would not be denied much longer. As of late he had spent more time reflecting on the past, remembering the mortal friends who had long since passed on. He had grieved long when Éomer died just a few years before his sister Éowyn, and later Faramir. Though he had delighted in the company of Merry and Pippin when they removed to Gondor in the final years of their lives, their deaths had been sorrowful partings. He knew that such pain was the price of friendship between Men and Elves, yet that knowledge made the loss no easier to bear.
But there was joy, too -- and Elessar and his family had been a great part of it. He and Elessar would visit each other often, and they would talk at length, sharing both counsel and memories of the past. Legolas would walk with Queen Arwen in the hills near Minas Tirith, or on her visits to Ithilien. He knew well their son and heir, Eldarion, and twin daughters, Ivorwen and Calimë. It was difficult for Legolas not to think of them as children, although they were far from childhood now.
Legolas was lifted from his reverie when he saw a young Elf at the settlement's entrance, passing under an archway into the tree-lined garden. "Master Legolas!" he called. "I saw a Man riding hither, and I think it is the King."
Surprised, Legolas approached him. "Truly? That is odd, for there has been no word."
"Truly," the Elf, who was called Earindo, nodded. "He wears a hood and simple cloth, and his horse bears no tokens of royalty. But I have before seen the King, and his manner cannot be mistaken."
Legolas nodded, for he did not doubt Elven perception in such matters. He gave some instructions, and Earindo went to carry them out.
A few moments later, he knew the young Elf had been right, as a horse bearing an unmistakable form rode under the archway. Approaching, he called, "My Lord Elessar!"
The rider drew back his hood, smiling at Legolas from the saddle. "Even in these days of peace, there is still no approaching Elf-lands in surprise, is there, my friend?"
Legolas returned the smile while examining his friend. He was still strong in body and sat upon his horse as one who had done so all his life, proud and tall. His once dark hair was now gray streaked with white, and his face, though still fair to look upon, carried the signs of age. "Not for you, for even in a hood and traveler's cloth, you were at once marked as the King."
Elessar dismounted, more slowly than he would have once, and clasped Legolas's arm, a warm greeting from one warrior to another. "It is good to see you, Legolas." Elessar looked around at the gardens and then up at the trees and clear sky. "And I am pleased to see this place so fair and full of life."
Handing the reins of Elessar's horse to Earindo, Legolas smiled his thanks. Elessar was right --Brethil was full of life, and not only Elven life. As they walked through the gardens, they saw many young people from Gondor and its southern fiefs, even Rohan and the North, who had come to stay for a time. They came to learn from the Elves, to study healing and learn lore and song, and of the forest, and many crafts. Together, through the long efforts of both the Elves and their mortal students, Ithilien had become fair and beautiful again.
When they were seated in the comfortable pavilion, and refreshment had been brought and taken, Legolas spoke. "Your presence here is always a pleasure, my friend, though it is rare that you arrive alone, and unheralded."
Elessar smiled. "Let us walk, mellon nin,1 in the woods, as we did long ago." Elessar's eyes met his, and Legolas saw there reflected a memory of a season far in the past, of intimacy shared and sadly set aside as duty and fate intervened. Set aside, yet not lost, but changed, into a friendship of great love and long duration.
Legolas nodded as he returned his friend's smile, yet he felt a cloud come over his heart, a shadow of foreboding.
They walked in easy silence, with the ready companionship of friends of long standing. Though their pace was gentler than it might have been in the past, they still covered good distance. As they moved through the forest, Legolas was as ever aware of every tree, every flower, every bird and beast in the forest hills. It was well past midwinter now, and he could taste the first signs of spring in the air. Winters were mild in the south; the trees were green, and the sun was still bright and warm enough for a pleasant walk.
They headed north, taking a gentle path upwards to a clearing from which they could see both the river and the horizon to the west. They sat on the soft green grass, and Elessar finally spoke. "You have done great deeds here, Legolas. Ithilien is clean and fair again, a place of song and beauty, of learning and light."
Legolas smiled. "Deeds worth doing, for this land sorely needed cleansing." He studied his friend for a long moment. "But that is not why you have come."
"No." Elessar's expression still reflected the strength of his younger days, but Legolas detected a sadness he had not seen in a long while. "My time comes to an end, dear friend. Two days from now I shall lay down on the bed prepared for me, and pass beyond this world."
Legolas looked away and paused for breath, for he felt as if his chest had taken a great blow. Although he had known the time of Elessar's death would someday come, he had not known the King intended to relinquish his life in the manner of the great Númenóreans, rather than allow fate to take its own course. Finally, he said, "The grief of those who love you will be terrible to bear." His voice was quiet, almost a whisper. "And their numbers are many. Will you not tarry a while longer, for their love?"
Elessar shook his head. "My son is ready to take his place as king, and I feel the signs of infirmity coming upon me even now. I shall not wait until I am helpless and withered to leave the world, but wish to go while still hale, able to mount a horse and hold a sword. I would have my children and their children remember me as I am." Elessar's eyes met his friend's, and he said with a quiet voice, "My sorrow at parting from them, and my friends, is no less terrible."
Legolas nodded sadly, raising his gaze to the west. His heart was heavy with sadness, yet he knew Elessar had not reached this decision without great care. Legolas could only accept it, despite the sorrow it brought. "And the Queen?" he asked.
Elessar's eyes closed for a moment, and then he spoke softly. "We both knew this day would come, when our debts to fate demanded payment at long last. And as this time has approached, I have wondered if the price is not too high."
"Elessar." Legolas grasped his shoulders and met his eyes. "It was ever her choice, and once made, could not be repented. Nor do I think she would, for she loves you now as much as she did long ago." His eyes closed, and Legolas continued, "Though the price is dear, much has been bought; you have shared a great love together, and your children are strong, and as fair at heart as they are in form. Their heirs will rule this land for many long years."
Elessar merely nodded, drawing a deep breath as he looked to the west. The sun was beginning to set. "My family is strong, and so is the realm, and for this I am pleased. But most of our friends have long passed; Faramir and Éowyn, Éomer, Imrahil, all many years gone now. You and Gimli, and Arwen's brothers, are all that remain of our friends of old, of those who understand all that was suffered, and lost."
Legolas nodded, recalling his own memories of their lost friends just before Elessar had arrived. Perhaps, he thought, it was only natural for those preparing to depart to reflect on all they have loved and lost. For Elessar's decision had set his own course, and Legolas knew that he would, at last, answer the sea-call. Then he thought again of the Queen, who had long ago sacrificed that grace. "I will stay with her awhile, and aid her in any way I am able."
"Thank you, my friend." Legolas felt Elessar's gaze. "But you shall not stay long after."
Legolas met his eyes, wondering how he could know what Legolas had only just accepted. "I love Middle-earth. But my days here have been waning since I felt the first call of the sea, as Lady Galadriel warned long ago. It is a weight on my heart, and I shall not be able to bear it much longer. After..." He drew a breath, unwilling to give voice to the thought. "Once I have done all that I might for your Queen, and witness your son into his reign, we shall depart into the West."
"We?" Elessar asked. "Are some of your folk here sailing as well?"
Legolas almost regretted his words, but he knew in his heart that Elessar would not begrudge this. "It came to me in a dream from the Lady that Gimli should sail with me, and see her again as he has long desired, and enjoy what is left of his days in the Undying Lands. How she obtained this grace for him, I do not know, but I trust my dream is truth and not mere wish."
For the first time since he arrived, Elessar's smile was broad. He clasped Legolas's hand in his own. "I am happy for you, my friend, and for Gimli. Is he with his people at the Glittering Caves now?"
Legolas shook his head. Despite having reached a great age for one of his kind, Gimli continued to roam all over Gondor and Rohan, supervising the rebuilding works of the Dwarves. "No, he is at Henneth Annûn, working in the caves there. I know he would see you once more, or be ever grieved. If I were to send a fast rider to bear him to Minas Tirith...?"
Elessar nodded, looking west again as the sun slipped behind the horizon. "Would you return to the City with me?"
"I would not have it any other way." Legolas stood and offered an arm to help Elessar stand, which he gratefully took. Once standing, Legolas did not at once release his friend. "Those in the West, Elessar, they shall hear of all that has come to pass, of all you have done, should the wind not have borne tidings to them. Songs of your deeds will be heard evermore, and those who love you shall be proud."
Elessar pulled him into an embrace, and Legolas felt the heaviness of his friend's heart, and his own. Without words, they parted and began the walk toward Brethil. Twilight lasted not long in the south, and darkness was fast approaching, though Legolas was confident in their path.
As they walked, Elessar asked, "What will become of Brethil once you have departed?"
"Brethil will endure without me. Those who followed me here are content, and Artanis is an able leader, wise and skilled in many arts. Though the Eldar of ancient times have now gone, there will be Elves in Middle-earth for many years yet. Here, and in the Wood of Greenleaves, and in East Lórien."
Elessar nodded. "I am glad for this, for Middle-earth would be a far sadder place, should all your people leave. But you deserve the peace of the Undying Lands, Legolas; you have done far more than your just part in shaping the world for this age." Legolas smiled at his friend, but said naught, for his feelings about his departure were many, and too much to inflict on a friend preparing to face a future of far less certainty.
Thus Elessar and Legolas returned to Brethil, and Legolas dispatched a messenger to bear Gimli from Henneth Annûn to Minas Tirith. Unwilling to spread rumor of what was to come, he did not give the messenger any tidings, but only bid him tell Gimli that he must come without delay. He knew his friend the Dwarf would be aggrieved at the fast journey on horseback, yet missing the farewell of Elessar would be far worse.
Once that errand was undertaken, they prepared to leave early the next day. Then Elessar slept, but Legolas found he was loathe to leave his friend, and kept quiet vigil near him through the night. He slipped away in the hour before dawn, when he sensed Elessar was beginning to wake. Together they walked in the forest again, and watched the sunrise.
They left soon after returning from their walk, but traveled at an easy pace, taking time to enjoy the beauty of Ithilien in late summer. They spoke of the years long past, and of friends departed, and shared songs of the ancient times. Legolas laughed and enjoyed the company, even as he mourned it as their last journey together.
At last they crossed the bridge into Osgiliath, and Elessar did not don his cloak or hood. He rode through the rebuilt city to the shouts and adoration of his people, offering his fair wishes to them one last time, though they did not yet know this. Legolas watched as his friend kissed the forehead of an infant handed up to him in the saddle. As Elessar murmured a blessing on the child in the ancient tongue of his own people, Legolas knew how sorely the King would be missed, and how much he was loved.
After midday they left Osgiliath and turned toward Minas Tirith, passing through the gates of the Pelennor. The stains of the long-ago battle had been cleansed by the Queen's arts, and the fields were fair, and alive with growth. At last they arrived at the gates of the City, long ago rebuilt by the fine craft of the Dwarves. Leaving their horses, but declining the watch captain's offer of an escort, they walked slowly upwards through the winding streets of the busy, vibrant capital. Elessar paused to speak with people that beckoned him, and offered them his greetings and well-wishes. As he had in Osgiliath, Legolas watched, and was grieved, for he knew this would be the last time his friend made this journey.
At some length they reached the Citadel, and there stood the White Tower, and the King's House behind it. As they entered the main hall, Legolas knew that word must have come ahead, because many of Elessar's family were gathered. Eldarion was there with Fíriel his wife, and so was Eldacar, their son, now twenty-six years old, and their daughter, Nimloth, yet a girl of twenty-two years. Eldarion's sisters, Ivorwen and Calimë, waited also, but their sons, grown to manhood, were not in Gondor now, but on journeys to other parts of the realm. But Ivorwen's daughter Rían was there, and so was her husband, and their young son, Estel -- Elessar's first great-grandchild.
But Legolas's attention was not for them, even as he smiled in greeting, because his eyes were fixed on the Queen. She was as ever beautiful, but her eyes were sad as she greeted them.
Elessar approached the Queen and kissed her, then he murmured quietly, and she nodded in response. He then moved among his children and his grandchildren, speaking with each of them in turn. Wishing to accord them privacy, Legolas withdrew to the courtyard. Watching the sun fall, he willed his grief to subside, but it would not.
"Legolas!" He turned as a voice called out to him, and he saw the Queen approach.
He went to her, and took her hands in his, and kissed them. "My lady Arwen."
As he looked at her, her eyes filled with tears, and she embraced him, and he held her as she spoke in their native tongue. "My dear friend. It is all I can do to be brave for him, and for my children and the young ones, but I know not how long I can hold back the sorrow that fills my heart."
He closed his eyes, and held her, and said nothing, for he knew his words could offer no comfort. His arm slipped tightly around her shoulders, and they walked a while around the darkening courtyard. "I knew this day would come," she whispered, "but I knew not how hard it would be to let him go...and to face what must follow."
"He fears for you," Legolas said.
She shook her head. "I fear not death," she said. "For even now, could I repent, I would not go to Valinor without him." She watched a banner flutter in the light breeze, its White Tree reflecting the moonlight. "I believe that we shall be together ever after in the realm of Men's spirits, but my heart is full of sorrow for all that we must first relinquish."
He held her again, and whispered, "I shall stay here, my lady, for as long as you might wish."
The Queen released his embrace and tried a faint smile. "For that I thank you, our dear friend."
Then they both turned, hearing the sound of footsteps. With an escort of the watch, they saw two tall figures approach, and the Queen ran towards them and embraced them, for she recognized her brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, who were also Elessar's foster brothers. Legolas was glad they had reached Minas Tirith in time to bid their brother farewell, and to offer their sister what solace they might.
Their arms around their sister, the twins approached, and Legolas greeted them warmly as the Queen dismissed their escort. She had not sent word of the reason for her urgent summons, but upon seeing her face, the Queen's brothers knew her terrible sadness, and she quietly told them of Elessar's intent. Elladan and Elrohir, who had known Elessar nearly his entire life, shared their sister's sadness and grief.
Together they walked back toward the King's House, but Legolas tarried, not wishing to intrude, until the Queen took his hand and led him inside. Elessar was there, lifting young Estel high into the air, and all were laughing. When Elessar saw Elrond's sons, he kissed the child and handed him to his mother, then he embraced his brothers.
As Elessar spoke with them, Eldarion took Legolas aside. In his youth, Eldarion had lived at Brethil for a time, and during those days they had often walked in Ithilien together. Legolas would tell Eldarion of his father's youth and all he had done to defeat the great evil and build this new world. Eldarion also spent much of his time studying with the healers, for he had inherited both the gifts of his father and his grandfather Elrond. From the Elves, the young lord had learned how to put these gifts to great use, and whenever there was need, he would go with his father to the Houses of Healing and aid the wardens as they might.
Now Legolas observed Eldarion's face, which was fairer than his father's, yet bore the same strength. He was as tall as Elessar, and broad in the shoulder, but his eyes and hair were dark, like his mother, and he wore no beard. His face as yet bore little trace of age, although he was in his ninetieth year. "I am glad you have come, Master Legolas," he said, "for my father would have his friends near him now. Is Master Gimli with you?"
Legolas shook his head, hoping the Dwarf would not delay upon receiving his message. "Not yet, though last night I sent a rider to fetch him here from Henneth Annûn. I hope he will arrive soon." His heart was touched by Eldarion's sad eyes. "Are you all right, my young friend?"
Eldarion offered a wan smile. "I am as well as I could hope to be. I am already grieving for the loss that is to come, for my father, and my mother also. For I know she will not long survive once he is gone." He shook his head sadly. "The blood of old that runs through us has long delayed this day, but it is no less bitter."
Legolas could only nod and offer his friendship, when suddenly he heard a familiar voice outside. "Where's that pointy-eared nuisance? He's had me dragged here on the back of a horse, and I've never been so sore in the --" The voice was drowned out by low laughter from the family members around the room, and with a smile to Eldarion, Legolas turned and hastened out to the courtyard.
"Gimli!" he called.
His friend was quite annoyed, as he had expected. His hair and beard might have grown completely white over the years, and his back might have become more stooped, but his temper was as fell as ever. "Well? What is it? What's so important that I've had to..." Gimli's voice dropped as he saw the shadow that came across Legolas's face. "Legolas?"
Legolas drew a deep breath, aware he could deliver the news in a manner that would lessen its impact. "Elessar feels that age and infirmity have begun to weigh on him. He has decided to relinquish his life in the manner of the great kings of old, at tomorrow's dawn."
Even as his irritation disappeared, the old Dwarf's shoulders dropped. "Nothing more than arrogance," he muttered. "Why cannot Men permit time to do its own will in such matters?"
Legolas studied Gimli, who appeared to be wavering between anger and sadness. "I think he does what he believes is best, not for himself, but for his family and his kingdom. It is not our place to question their ways, my friend."
With a sigh of resignation, Gimli nodded. "Is he inside?"
"Yes. You should speak with him now." Gimli nodded as they entered, and the family greeted him. Elessar embraced him, and they walked to the other side of the hall and spoke together. The Queen bid the rest of the family to bed, to return after dawn to wish their father farewell. Slowly, the family dispersed. Many of them paused to share words with Legolas, and he felt the weight of their sorrow.
After some time the hall was nearly empty. Elessar stood by the windows talking with Gimli, and across the hall Legolas sat with the Queen and her brothers. Legolas spoke with Elladan and Elrohir, but the Queen was silent. After a time Gimli embraced Elessar, wiped his eyes, and joined the rest. Elessar caught Legolas's eye then, and Legolas went and stood with him near the tall windows at the end of the hall, through which a bright crescent moon shone.
"Thank you for being here," Elessar said simply.
Legolas said, "I told you in Ithilien -- I would not have it any other way."
Elessar asked, "I would ask one last thing of you, my friend. I wish that you and Gimli, my dear friends and the last of our Fellowship here on Middle-earth, would accompany my wife and son with me to the Silent Street."
His throat was tight, and it was difficult to speak, but he nodded and said simply, "I will."
Elessar then clasped his arm and embraced him, and they parted and joined the others. The Queen joined her husband, and their arms wrapped easily around each other. Bidding them good night, she said, "We shall watch the sunrise together, and join you in the morning thereafter."
After taking their leave from Elessar and the Queen, Legolas left the King's House with Gimli and the Queen's brothers, and they were shown to lodgings in the Citadel. But soon after Legolas had thanked the young man who had shown him to his chamber, he departed. He knew he would find little rest that night, for the very air felt heavy with the grief of Elessar's family and friends. So he walked out far onto the embrasure and stood there quietly, keeping silent vigil until at last the sun rose.
The day dawned bright and clear, inappropriately, or so it seemed to Legolas. The sun's light did nothing to dispel his sadness as he turned back toward the King's House. He slipped inside quietly, and Elessar was already there, wearing a tunic of rich blue. His crown and scepter were on a table nearby, ready to be taken with them to the Silent Street.
The Queen looked as beautiful as ever, but her eyes reflected her sorrow. Many of the royal family were there also, and Elessar embraced each of them. He spoke to them softly, taking his leave of each of his daughters, and his grandchildren, and Elrond's sons, his foster brothers. At last he picked up Estel, his great-grandson, and kissed the child's forehead. Legolas heard Elessar whisper the words of an ancient blessing for peace and happiness.
After the City's first bell had rung, those who were to accompany the King to the Silent Street followed him, Legolas behind Elessar and the Queen, and Eldarion and Gimli. They passed through the closed door, and finally they reached the House of the Kings. Through the door to the inner chamber, Elessar saw the bed that had been laid out for him, and without wavering he went inside and lay down. Gimli went to him first, and Legolas saw the shadow of a smile cross Elessar's face as they spoke. Gimli grasped Elessar's hand and clasped it against his, and then Gimli left the chamber.
Legolas went in after, and he took Elessar's hand as he knelt beside the bed. But the wisdom of his people failed him, and he knew not what to say. Elessar finally spoke, and told him, "Do not grieve for me, dear friend. For I believe not that the circles of this world will keep us parted forever. The One will reunite His children when the time has come." He smiled at Legolas with great love and warmth, his face reflecting sadness, but not fear or despair.
Legolas resisted the tears that threatened, as he did not wish for Elessar to see them. He leaned forward to kiss his friend's forehead, whispering in his own tongue, "May the One speed you on your journey, dear friend."
"May the grace of the Valar protect you on yours, and may their fair land bring you peace." Elessar replied. He raised Legolas's hand to his lips and kissed it, and their eyes met. All the years of their friendship lay between them in that moment, filled with memories of triumph and defeat, valor and courage, but most of all great fellowship, and deep trust and love. Legolas at last released his friend's hand as he stood, and there were no further words, only a final look between them as Legolas left the chamber. Eldarion and the Queen then entered, and the doors were closed behind them.
The weight of loss had never in his life felt heavier or more grievous, and as he leaned against the cool stone wall, the tears he had denied in his friend's presence fell silently. He felt Gimli's strong hand on his shoulder and was grateful for it. He blinked his tears away as he saw Eldarion return, holding the crown of Gondor and the scepter of Arnor. Elessar's son looked bereft, as a boy despite all his years, and Legolas held him then, and Gimli thereafter.
Legolas did not know how much time had passed when the doors finally opened again. The Queen emerged, and the light was gone from her eyes, and Legolas knew his friend had passed from the world. Eldarion went to his mother and held her, and Gimli no longer restrained his tears. His hand over his heart, Legolas murmured, "Hiro hon hîdh ab 'wanath,"2 asking the powers of the world to help his friend find peace after death.
The Queen spoke quietly to a waiting servant, and he departed. Legolas went to the Queen and embraced her, but even as he did, he knew he could offer no solace. Her hands were cold, and her face was gray, and Legolas knew she would not long endure.
Once news of King Elessar's death was cried out in the streets, the entire City went into mourning, its populace bereft. Yet Elessar had left instruction that he wished for there to be no period of mourning, but that his son should ascend to the throne at once. So riders went out immediately to every corner of the realm, and the free lands within, and to the allied kingdoms, with word that the great King Elessar had passed away, and the coronation of his son would take place forthwith.
Nonetheless, it would require a fortnight to permit travel to Minas Tirith from lands so far away. However unofficial, the interim was a period of mourning, during which there was an outpouring of the people's love for their departed king, the like of which had never been known before. Elessar's people traveled from all over the realm to see him one last time as he lay in state. While Legolas heard of the great beauty that was revealed in his body, he did not witness it himself, wishing only to remember his friend as he had been while he still walked in the world.
If the grief of the people was profound, the sorrow of the King's family was tenfold. Yet even as they grieved, Legolas could see their spirits were still kindled within. Despite their sadness, he knew they would live to see joy again -- all save one.
The Queen's grief was so overpowering, so devastating, that she closeted herself away from her children and grandchildren, lest she inflict her suffering on them. Her children were further saddened by this, for they knew their mother would not be with them much longer. But the grief of an Elf could be terrible for mortals to bear, even mortals who bore Elven blood, and after some days they grew to understand that her love for them would not permit their presence.
She would see only Legolas and her brothers, and they each stayed with her in turn, for as long as she would allow. Legolas held her, and tried to warm her, but she was now ever chilled, as if the very heat of her life were draining away. She rarely spoke, and there was no succor he could offer, no words or gestures that would fill the empty spaces in her heart and soul. She would tolerate his presence, or that of one of her brothers, for awhile. But then she would closet herself in her chamber, and see no one, and refuse all food and drink.
On the seventh day after Elessar's death, Legolas sought her brothers. "It will not be long now," Legolas said.
Elladan nodded sadly. "She does not intend otherwise, I think. She will see her son crowned, and then she will bid farewell to her children and leave the City. She wishes to go to Lórien, and walk on the hill where she and Estel bound themselves to each other, and there linger until she is no more."
Elladan's eyes filled with tears, as did his brother's, and Legolas offered what comfort he might. Yet he knew their grief was terrible, the loss of both a beloved brother and a sister coming so fast upon one another. And this was true death, mortal death; there would be no reunion during the days of the world.
Legolas was pained by their sorrow, for he had long shared friendship with Elrond's sons. Their fathers made frequent visits to each other's realms during the Third Age, for the War of the Last Alliance had renewed ties and reformed bonds once sundered. Legolas had taken to the brothers at once upon meeting them, for though they were much older than he, they had much in common as sons of great Elves.
They also shared the affinity of those who felt a terrible anger toward a common foe, for Legolas and the twins had both lost their mothers due to the treachery of Orcs. When Legolas was barely old enough to walk, an Orc raiding party had attacked by surprise while the Elves celebrated an outdoor festival. Away from the safety of Thranduil's subterranean halls, the warriors had fought valiantly, but the children could not be spirited away to safety quickly enough. Legolas's mother had died protecting him, and he was not found until hours later, sobbing and clutching her tunic.
Many years earlier, the twins' mother had been kidnapped and tortured by Orcs, and while they had rescued her, she had been unable to recover her joy in Middle-earth had sought the Havens. Thus, both Legolas and the sons of Elrond had deeply personal reasons for their fierce hatred of Orcs, and before the War, they would sometimes hunt the foul creatures together in Mirkwood or in the passes of the Misty Mountains. Indeed, it had been on one such sojourn that Legolas had met young Estel.
"And what of the sons of Elrond?" Legolas asked. "Will you seek the West, after your sister leaves the City?"
Elrohir shook his head. "Not yet. We shall stay here in Minas Tirith for a time. Though our sister's grandchildren and their children may be mortal, they have Elven blood, and we would have them learn of Elves from their mother's kin."
For the first time in days, Legolas smiled. "I am glad to hear it, my friends, for Eldarion will surely be glad for your company, and your counsel."
Elladan nodded, but looked at him as if seeing something new. "The sea calls you, Legolas, does it not, and you will be leaving us soon."
Legolas nodded, his eyes turning toward the west. His longing for the sea was growing ever stronger, as if prompted by sadness and grief to tempt him home.
During the next days, representatives from throughout Middle-earth began arriving for the coronation of the new king. King Aldor of Rohan arrived, and he was also kin, for he was uncle to Fíriel, Eldarion's wife, who would soon be his Queen also. Two of Elessar's grandsons returned, for they had heard the news and hurried home. The princes of Arnor, Dol Amroth, Umbar, and the lords of other lands and fiefdoms also journeyed to Minas Tirith, and some of Gimli's kin from Erebor came also to pay their respects to the new king.
Surprising all, though perhaps it should not have, a small party of periannath3 arrived, led by young Faramir Took the Second, recently Thain of the Shire. His resemblance to the Took whom Legolas and Gimli had known was so uncanny that Gimli spat a mouthful of ale upon first beholding the Hobbit. They became fast friends, and Legolas was pleased to see Gimli smile again.
One of the guests was of special interest to Legolas, and he had no warning of his arrival: Beleg, his elder brother, and King of the Wood of Greenleaves since their father had departed over the sea some years past. Legolas was truly happy to see his brother, and with the Queen attended to by Elrond's sons, Legolas rode out with Beleg to Ithilien.
Beleg had never been to the south; indeed, he rarely left their home country. "It is truly beautiful here, my brother. Our father would be pleased by the grace our people have brought to this land."
Legolas smiled. "I hope he would." The mention of their father reminded him of the news he had to share with his brother, and he dropped his eyes. "Beleg, I am glad that you have come, for had you not I would soon have journeyed to our home to wish you farewell. The sea beckons, and soon I must answer its call."
His brother's eyes, sad but resigned, met his. "I have long suspected this day approached; on each visit, in each letter, I have expected this news."
Legolas shook his head in wonder. "I have only decided to depart in the days just past, yet those who know me best are the least surprised."
"You have gazed upon the West with longing for many years now," Beleg said. "It is only your bonds of friendship to mortal Men that has kept you here this long, I think. And now the strongest of those has been sundered."
The brothers embraced, and then they walked for a time in the woods surrounding Brethil, talking of many things together. When they returned, Legolas gathered a few possessions and said farewell to those who would not be traveling to Minas Tirith for the coronation.
At last in the saddle and preparing to leave, Legolas looked around one last time. He would miss this place, and remember it always, but it was time. Though he loved the forest and its creatures, they had not been what was holding him to Middle-earth. His brother was right -- his true bonds to this place had been through his friends, and those had been cut by mortality.
He turned and clucked softly to his horse, and with his brother rode back to Minas Tirith.
At midday the next, Eldarion Telcontar became the second King of the Reunited Kingdom and Lord of the Western Lands. At Eldarion's request, Gimli had brought the crown, and Legolas had placed it on his head. Although Gimli was honored to occupy the role Frodo had played at Elessar's coronation, Legolas had at first demurred, protesting that he was no substitute for Mithrandir.
But Eldarion had insisted. "I would have my people remember why this kingdom endures, why we as a people still endure," he said. "And it is because of a great Fellowship that once existed, its members representing all of the free peoples of Middle-earth. You and Master Gimli are the last two members of that Fellowship, and it is right that you should do this."
Hearing his words, Legolas could not deny his request, any more than he could have denied anything to his father. Then he smiled, for his heart knew Eldarion would be a fine king and worthy successor to his friend.
And so Legolas of the Woodland Realm placed the crown on the King's head, and said to him, "May your reign and your kingdom enjoy the blessings of the Valar, and the goodwill of all free people."
The King smiled at him, then he turned and faced his people. In the ancient tongue of the Elves, Eldarion slowly chanted Elendil's promise to forever remain in these lands, then offered a blessing of peace. Legolas could feel the spirits of the people lifting, their grief for their lost king slowly lessening as they offered their love and fealty to his son.
The next day, Legolas spoke with Gimli, and they made their plans to depart. Gimli first needed to return to the Glittering Caves, "To wrap up business," as he said, but Legolas knew the journey was more to wish his friends and kin there farewell, and he did not begrudge Gimli this. They made plans to meet in some weeks' time, and Gimli then departed, after taking leave of his friends in Minas Tirith, including his new friend, Faramir Took.
Others were leaving, as well, and none sooner than Queen Arwen. Her children begged her to stay, but she would not; all she wished was to walk in Lórien once more, alone among the elanor and niphredil. Legolas would have offered to see her there, but her brothers would do so.
Legolas took leave of all three of them with deep sadness. While Queen Arwen was inside with her children, Legolas spoke to her brothers in the courtyard, and they wished each other farewell. Yet this parting did not bring him great sorrow, for he knew they would meet again one day.
But then Queen Arwen came out of the King's House alone, dressed in gray and veiled. They embraced one last time, and she whispered, "Farewell, my friend, and may the Valar protect your journey." She lifted her veil to kiss his forehead, and he felt her tears on his skin, mingled with his own. She then lowered her veil, and with a squeeze of her hand, departed with her brothers, leaving behind a friend with a heavy heart.
Legolas tarried a few days longer in Minas Tirith, wishing farewell to his friends, and finally to Eldarion and his family. He lifted young Estel into the air, as his great-grandfather had just days ago, and felt a twinge of regret that he would not know the fine man this child would become.
But the call would no longer be denied, and at last Legolas took his leave. Eldarion rode out of the City with him, past the Pelennor to the river, and there they said farewell. "We will miss you, Master Legolas," said the King.
Legolas could not help but smile; as Elrond had always been "Master Elrond" to Elessar, even once he was crowned king, so he would always be "Master Legolas" to Elessar's son. "I will miss you as well, my friend, and were it not for the longing in my heart, I would stay yet awhile."
Eldarion nodded. "I know." He looked back at Minas Tirith. "I grieve still for both my parents. I miss their companionship and their counsel terribly. Yet soon there will be things I must do."
Legolas reached out and clasped the King's arm, as he had so often clasped his father's. "You are a worthy successor to him, Eldarion. You do not know this yet in your heart, but I do not need the foresight of my people to know it is true."
Eldarion smiled at him then, and for a moment Legolas saw Elessar's eyes flickering behind his son's. "I wish you a fair journey, Master Legolas. Namárië!"4 He turned his horse and headed back toward his City. Legolas watched for a moment as he rode away, Minas Tirith towering in the distance, its white stone glistening in the midday sun. Bidding the City and all he knew there a final farewell, Legolas turned south.
By the time Gimli met him in Belfalas, their small ship was built and ready to sail. Legolas had never apprenticed with shipbuilders, indeed, he had never built any kind of boat, and he had not known how he was going to accomplish this task. But the knowledge somehow came to him, and he knew what materials he needed and how they must be put together. When it was finished, he took the ship into the bay and tested it, and taught himself how to handle keel and sail.
"Are you sure this thing is seaworthy?" the old Dwarf grumped at him. If there was one thing Gimli liked less than a journey on horseback, it was a journey in a boat.
Legolas lifted an eyebrow. "Quite, Gimli. I've been out in the bay twice, and there's neither a leak in the hull nor a tear in the sail."
Gimli humphed and hawed but finally made his way aboard, and at last all was ready.
"So, this is it, lad." Gimli said as Legolas was about to release the lines holding them to the shore. Holding them to Middle-earth.
"Aye, my friend, it is. Are you ready to go?" This had to be Gimli's choice; if he changed his mind and wanted to live out his life among his kin, in his beloved Glittering Caves, then Legolas would take him back there himself.
Gimli paused for a moment, and then barked, "Well, of course! What are we waiting for? I've been waiting for this day for a hundred twenty years! Let's get going!"
Legolas smiled then, and slipped the lines. They sailed out of the bay, and turned west. As the sun warmed his skin and the wind rippled through he hair, he felt some of the heaviness of the grief for his friends begin to lift, his sadness swirling up and out of his heart and into the air.
They stayed the course west for many leagues, but the weather was fair and the seas were calm, and the journey was not a trial. Without warning, as a gentle wave crested the ship upwards, they left the water and were carried on a cushion of air for a time into a mist, and then their ship was gently put down on the sea again.
Gimli gasped when they were lifted out of the water, but Legolas said, "Do not fear, my friend, for we have found the Straight Road, and our journey is nearing its end."
As the mist began to clear, they saw the land ahead of them, and this time they both gasped: unimaginably tall cliffs, and an isle before them, and Legolas knew this was the Lonely Isle, Tol Eressëa. This was their destination, for no mortal could go further into the Undying Lands.
Legolas found the bay with ease, but for the first time he felt a flutter of trepidation, as he did not know what to expect. Yet he need not have worried, for as their ship neared shore, he saw several figures waiting for them. Leaping out of the ship, he pulled it to shore. He felt light-headed for a moment, as if he might fall, and then he knew the feeling for what it was: the sea-longing had finally been lifted from his heart. It had been a weight for so long, and he had grown so accustomed to its presence that its absence was almost painful for a moment. Then it faded, and disappeared.
He was home.
Seeing the Elves waiting for them, he lifted Gimli down from the prow. Standing closest to the ship was the Lady Galadriel, and Gimli's face lit up as he saw her. She kissed Legolas's forehead. "Welcome to the Undying Lands, Legolas Greenleaf," she bid him quietly, but his eyes had already turned toward those waiting behind her, and he could only nod his thanks, barely noticing as Galadriel took Gimli's hand in welcome.
His father he saw next, and Thranduil came to Legolas, and they embraced. "It is good to see you, my son," he said. "My heart is filled with joy that you are here."
Legolas had no words, but held his father for a long moment, until the Elf who had been standing next to Thranduil stepped toward them, a warm smile on her face. She was tall and fair, with bright gray eyes...and his breath caught then, because he recognized her. He left his father's arms, his eyes filling with tears as he went to her and took her hands and kissed them. His heart was pounding so loudly that he could hear it in his ears, and he was utterly unable to form words, instead slipping to his knees before her, his face pressed against her hands as he wept.
She knelt and pulled him into her arms, whispering, "Welcome home, my dear son, welcome home," as she held him tightly. The tears slid down his face as Legolas felt his mother's love and comfort for the first time in many long centuries.
Time lost all meaning for Legolas in the next days. He remained on the Lonely Isle to be near Gimli, and his parents stayed with him. His heart still floating with the joy of seeing his mother again, he was further amazed to see a familiar figure come walking toward them in the forest one day.
"Mithrandir!" Legolas cried, embracing him. "I had not known you would still be here...or rather, that you would still be as you were..."
Mithrandir laughed. "I must admit, I did not know either, but I found this form suits me well, or don't you agree?"
"I do indeed, my old friend."
"You look well, Legolas," he said, appraising his friend and companion. "And if I can steal you away from your parents for awhile, there is much I'd like to hear from you, and some tales I think you might like to hear, too."
Legolas looked at his parents, and they nodded and bid him go with Mithrandir. His mother laughed, "There will be plenty of time for all, dear son. Visit with your old friend." Legolas smiled at her gratefully, squeezing her hand, and as he walked toward Gimli's house with Mithrandir, he saw his parents set off into the woods, their hands tightly clasped together.
Arriving at the comfortable, Dwarf-size house that Galadriel had prepared for him, they found Gimli sitting in the garden with the Lady herself. Legolas had to smile, for it was the most unlikeliest of sights; the tall, beautiful, ever-youthful Elf sitting on a stone bench next to the rough, gray-haired old Dwarf, and both were laughing merrily.
"Gandalf!" Gimli gasped in surprise, leaping from the bench and throwing himself into their old friend's arms.
"Gimli," Mithrandir laughed, returning the embrace. "It is good to see you, old friend."
Smiling, Galadriel rose. "I see that I should let the Fellowship reunite for a time. But I will return, Gimli, dear friend, and we shall speak of many things." Gimli watched her as she departed, and Legolas and Mithrandir shared a smile.
Then they spoke together for many hours, for Mithrandir wished to hear of all that had happened on Middle-earth. Though a creature of spirit, it seemed he had managed to leave part of his heart behind. So Legolas and Gimli told him of all they knew, of all Elessar had accomplished, of the peace and prosperity that his long efforts had brought, and of his children and their children. But they were not the ones to bring the news of Elessar's death, for that had reached the Undying Lands before them, and the Elves had sung many laments for him.
"Word of Elessar's death was hard to hear," Mithrandir said. "Elrond grieves, for Elessar was as a son to him. And Elrond and her mother grieve for Arwen also, for they know her death must follow his."
Legolas only nodded, looking toward the horizon. Then they spoke of other things, and finally Mithrandir told them tales of Frodo and Bilbo, and of Sam. They laughed upon hearing how Varda, Elbereth herself, had come to the Isle to meet Sam, and -- once Sam was able to breathe in her presence -- he had sung Elbereth's song for her.
Mithrandir told them that Frodo had become quite an accomplished scholar, borrowing nearly every book from Tirion's great library, and translating some of them from ancient Elvish to the common tongue. But not all his days were spent in scholarly pursuits, for Yavanna had taken a special interest in Frodo. She would often come visit him, and they would talk together of gardens, and trees, and all things that grow in the earth. Legolas's heart sang to hear that Frodo had found peace, free of the Ring's terrible evil.
Bilbo, as had been expected, had not long survived, Mithrandir told them. But Frodo lived for many years, and he had been overjoyed to see Sam when he at last arrived. They had some years together, renewing their friendship. Frodo learned from Sam of his children, and of all that had happened on Middle-earth, and Frodo showed Sam the many wonders of the Lonely Isle. But Frodo had finally passed away upon reaching the age of ninety-three, and Sam had followed him not long after.
At Gimli's request, Mithrandir brought them to the place of honor where the three Hobbits were buried, side by side. It was a beautiful garden, surrounded by trees and overlooking the sea. Legolas knew there was no need to whisper his people's invocation for the dead, for he had no doubt they had found peace.
Sadly, it was not long before they returned to the garden to bury one more friend, for Gimli died before two more years had passed. Legolas was with him at the end, and so was Galadriel, and Mithrandir. He had insisted his bed be moved out into the garden, grumbling at the same time. "Hrmph. You know you've spent too much time with pointy ears when you wish to spend your dying days among a bunch of flowers and trees." Then he quickly added, to Galadriel, "Oh, not you! Couldn't spend too much time with you, my Lady." But Galadriel only smiled at him, and helped him into his bed.
The Elves used their best arts to offer him comfort, and their friend suffered little pain, but he knew when the time for farewells had come. He told Legolas, "I am proud to have been your friend, Master Elf."
Legolas smiled, pressing his hand over Gimli's. "I am proud to have been yours, Master Dwarf." And ever shall be, he thought, but did not say aloud.
But not long after, Gimli's breathing grew labored, and Legolas and Mithrandir stepped away, allowing the Lady Galadriel to speak with him one last time. They knew their friend had breathed his last when her head fell, and she whispered words of mourning.
The next day, they buried him in the garden next to the Hobbits, and Legolas felt the weight of grief upon his heart once more. Mithrandir looked into his eyes and saw his pain, then put his arm around Legolas's shoulders as they walked together.
"I know you will miss him greatly, my friend."
Legolas stopped walking, and sat down on the grass, and Mithrandir sat beside him.
"How did you do it, Mithrandir?" Legolas looked at him, his eyes clouded with sadness, for it all seemed to come flooding back in a moment. He grieved for Elessar and Arwen, Merry and Pippin, Faramir and Éowyn, Frodo and Sam, all the friends that had been lost to him these past years. "How did you walk among them for so many long centuries, and grow to care for them so much, only to see them die?"
Mithrandir looked at him with his cool blue eyes, filled with compassion. "There is no answer, my dear Legolas, to that question. It is our doom to remain while the world exists, and theirs to leave it. We can only trust that the One is merciful, and just, and would not separate His children without reason. And perhaps," Mithrandir said, echoing the words Elessar had said to him not long before, "We shall all be together again one day."
Legolas nodded, and breathed deeply, willing the sadness away from his heart.
Mithrandir stood and offered a hand to his friend. "Come, Legolas," he said briskly. "I think it is time for you to leave the Lonely Isle for a time, and to come to Valinor."
So Legolas went, and he found it to be a place of many marvels, not the least of which were the Elves themselves, so many of them out of story and song. He settled in Alqualondë, where his parents dwelt. There he met his forbearers, among them his grandfather Oropher, who had fallen in the War of the Last Alliance, and many aunts and uncles and cousins of varying degree, nearly all of whom had sought the West long before his birth.
He traveled with Galadriel for a time, and met many of her kin, the great of the Noldor: her gentle father Finarfin; her uncle Fingolfin, who had challenged Morgoth himself to single combat; the great Gil-galad, Galadriel's cousin and leader of the Last Alliance; her dear brother Finrod, who gave Barahir his ring and later died saving Beren. And so many others, all heroes of the ancient days of Middle-earth. Talking with them and hearing their tales was like something out of a dream, and even as it happened, Legolas could barely believe it. He was yet more astonished to learn that his own deeds as part of the Fellowship had been given song here, that he and his friends were a legend of their own.
His sadness lightened after a while, yet it lingered. After a time, Mithrandir brought him to the Gardens of Lórien, and Nienna, the Lady of Tears, came and sat with him. They spoke for many days, and Legolas learned much from her, of grief and mourning, of pity and compassion. And of hope. In time his understanding grew, and he began to find peace with the One's destiny for him, and for his friends.
One day soon after he came to the Gardens alone, watching the sky as he thought of his talks with Nienna.
"It is beautiful here, isn't it?"
Legolas looked up quickly, as he had not heard anyone approach. "Lord Elrond!" he said as he stood. "I'm sorry, I did not see you there."
"No, indeed," Elrond smiled, waving him back to the grass, and sitting beside him. "It seems that nothing short of an Orc might have disturbed your thoughts, and you are unlikely to find one of those here."
Legolas smiled at Elrond, yet felt slightly unsettled by his sudden presence. "My Lord, I must apologize that I have not paid my respects to you, and to your wife, since I left Eressëa."
Elrond looked at him with clear gray eyes. "I understand why you did not, Legolas, and I could just as deservedly apologize to you for not visiting the Lonely Isle while Gimli still lived. These have been difficult years for us both, I think."
"I am sorry for your grief," he said. "My own sorrow is enough, but I cannot imagine yours."
"No," Elrond said, his eyes clouding. "Few who dwell here can understand the loss of a child beyond the end of this world. One of those who does often walks here, and she has offered great comfort to me, as I understand the Lady Nienna has to you."
Legolas nodded. He knew the other woman Elrond was speaking of was Melian, Lúthien's mother, and Elrond's own distant foremother. He studied Elrond a moment as he never had during the time they had known each other on Middle-earth. It had been so different there; even in moments of repose, the Shadow had never been far from their minds, guiding their thoughts and deeds. Elrond could have left long before he did, seeking the peace of the West instead of resisting the continuing threat.
Yet he had chosen to remain, becoming the protector to generation after generation of young Dúnedain heirs, Elrond's kin through his mortal brother. He harbored them in his home, watching as they grew to maturity, had children of their own, and eventually died. Legolas knew few Men over the centuries had been more dear to Elrond then Elessar. Elrond had been far more than a protector; he had been a father, and Elessar had been a son. How difficult must it have been for them both when Elessar transformed overnight from a beloved foster son to a suitor for the hand of Elrond's only daughter, the person who could take Arwen away from him forever?
Indeed, he could not understand Elrond's grief, yet Elrond seemed to be at peace. Legolas finally said, "I'm certain Mithrandir has told you of Arwen's happiness, and her children, and all that she and Elessar did together."
Nodding, Elrond said, "He has, and I wished to thank you for the many tidings of hope you brought with you. It lightened the hearts of her mother and me." He looked out over the serene gardens. "Of all that she and Elessar did together, of all they have built and renewed, I could not be more proud. Of either of them."
"I saw her, just before she left Minas Tirith," Legolas said, and Elrond's eyes met his, for Legolas had told this to no one. "She was sad, my Lord, but she did not fear for herself, and she did not despair. She believed that she and Elessar would be together again."
"I have faith that she was right," Elrond said. "As you should have faith in the Lady Nienna, and in your own place in the world. Your friends would not want you to grieve forever, Legolas. There is much to do here, and much to learn."
Legolas nodded, and thanked Elrond. They talked for a time of Middle-earth, and Elrond's sons, and shared memories of Elessar and Arwen. Finally, Elrond rose, and they exchanged promises to visit again soon. Elrond said, "Until then, my young friend." He examined Legolas for a long moment. "Do not be afraid to forego the sorrow, Legolas. That which you cherish will stay."
Elrond departed then, but Legolas remained in the Gardens. He focused his thoughts as Nienna had taught him, but he did not try to deny the sadness, or force it away. Instead, he accepted it and sought only peace. As he lay back on the grass, he breathed slowly, inhaling the warm air.
His memories washed over him, but for the first time they felt like a cool waterfall rather than a stormy sea. Without sorrow or grief, he remembered Frodo's grace under an unbearable burden, Sam's unfailing loyalty, and Merry and Pippin's never-ending optimism. He thought of Éomer's wry humor, Faramir's gentle strength, and Éowyn's generosity of spirit. He recalled Gimli's grumpy outward façade, and how it could never hide his kind heart for very long. He thought of Arwen's beauty and empathy, and the courage with which she faced her destiny. And he thought of Elessar, of his strength and compassion. As Legolas remembered the shared moments of their friendship, he felt the calm warmth of his friend's presence there with him.
Though he did not know why or how, the grief lifted that day, but the love he felt for his friends remained, warm and clear in his heart. He knew that love would always stay with him, part of the very essence of who he was. In that fashion, all those he had lost would remain with him also.
His eyes upon on the sky, he basked in the light.
1 My friend
2 Let him find peace after death
4 Farewell (Quenya)
This is essentially "book universe," though my vision of the physical world of Middle-earth and the characters' appeareances are certainly inspired by the films. I don't think readers who have only seen the films will have any trouble following this story, though.
A couple of differences that are relevant to this story: In the book, Arwen has twin brothers, Elladan and Elrohir. They're twins. They're great warriors. That's pretty much all you need to know about them for purposes of this story. Also, in the book, it is Frodo, not Gimli, who hands Gandalf the crown at Elessar's coronation, and I've followed with the book version here.
Many, many thanks to elyn, hafital and Killa for their beta-reading, kind thoughts and encouragement. My mistakes, however, should not be blamed on them. They're mine, precious, mine! Thanks also to Dorinda for giving me a new perspective on Elrond.
Feedback is welcome, leave a review or
drop me an e-mail.