Disclaimer: 'Lord of the Rings' is copyright of New Line Cinemas and J.R.R. Tolkien. No infringement is intended.
THAT WAS THEN... THIS IS NOW
By Etcetera Kit
"Go then adventurer, on your vivid journey, though once again, of course, I cannot join you…" -Peter Dickinson, 'the Cost of Living'
The tall strange man looked into the bookstore window. There was a display of books, gleaming and new through the polished glass. His strange blue eyes flecked with bits of green and hazel fell on the book in the very center. A smile strayed over his lips as he read the title and the author. The Hobbit… J.R.R. Tolkien… His smile grew larger as he recalled the evenings he had spent in the author's study, explaining Middle Earth and all its intricacies. He did not want any credit. He did not need any credit. He wanted the story- their story- to be told to the world even if that world viewed it as nothing more than a fantasy novel.
He pushed open the door to the shop. The motion was accompanied by the tinkling of bells, summoning a stout woman from the back room of the store. He pulled his hat down over his ears just in case. The woman seemed oblivious to any of his oddities and smiled warmly.
"Can I help you, sir?" she asked.
He nodded slightly. "I'd like to purchase of copy of Tolkien's new book."
"Of course." The woman flitted to the shelves and pulled a pristine copy down. She then wrapped it in brown paper, tying the whole thing up with a bit of twine. "Will there be anything else for you, sir?"
"Not today, madam," he said softly. She handed him the book and he handed her the correct amount for the purchase.
"Thank you for your service!" the woman called as he pushed the door open and headed back out onto the grimy street. Things had never been this dirty all those eons ago when Middle Earth had reigned. Even in a city as large as Minas Tirith, the streets were relatively clean and from a distance the place sparkled white. He supposed that from a distance, London must look like a cloud of smog.
Standing on the street corner, he pulled the brown paper off the book and stared at the cover. It was a plain cover without any of the decoration of normal books. Tolkien had done just as he had asked and given him no credit. The man was the only person alive that knew his true name and it was his true name that appeared in the book. The rest of the world knew him as simply Mr. Greenleaf. He was the strange hermit who lived in the corner flat and never caused any trouble.
He took a pocket watch out of his vest pocket. He had to meet Tolkien for lunch in fifteen minutes to discuss the next book that the man wanted to write. This book would be about his story and the story of the Ring. He doubted that the man could fit the entire story into one book and do it justice. It would probably have to be made into some kind of series. The first book had been about the Hobbits and how they came to be in possession of the Ring. But this next book would be his story and their story, the story of Aragorn and Gimli and the Hobbits, the story of Gandalf and the sons of Denethor. But it would also be his story, however small a role he played in the overall picture.
His part had been small, but he was proud to have been a part of it. He was proud that he had helped stop the fall of the kingdoms of Men. He was proud to have been the first Elf to befriend a Dwarf. A wry smile came over his face as he crossed the street to the small café where he was going to meet Tolkien. Everyone who knew him thought he was a human… how wrong they were. He was the last of the Elves and he had no intention of letting the Elves becomes extinct any time soon.
Adjusting his hat once more, he made sure that his pocket watch was back in place and strode through the door to the café, a smile on his face.
-December 19, 2001-
The tall strange man sat in the back of the movie theater. He had his pale blonde hair tied back expertly to disguise his ears. His blue eyes held a sparkle of amusement and a tear of nostalgia. The man who had decided to make the films out of Tolkien's books had done a beautiful job. But there were many things left missing… just as many things had been missing from Tolkien's books. But the man had filled in the gaps well. It was a masterful film, but that was all. For him, it was nothing extraordinary.
He looked down at the famous actors and actresses sitting in the front rows. He knew them to be the people who performed in the movie. A smile flitted across his face as he recalled how his man of business had secured him a ticket to this premiere in London. He loved London and he did not know why. He was loathed to leave the city and was glad to learn that some of the actors were from his beloved England. This was the place he landed when he sailed over the sea with Gimli. He was not sure he wanted to go back to the places they had traveled when the Dwarf still lived. It would have changed too much.
And it was always close to the sea. It filled a longing of his heart. He would often stand on the beach for hours, just watching the waves roll in and out. It was a kind of peace that he did not know when sitting in his apartment, scrolling through items on his laptop. The Internet had brought many things to him and among them had been the sensation of fan fiction. He could not recall how many stories he had read about his character in Tolkien's books that had characterized the relationship between himself and his father as a rocky one.
His father was a kind man, but a strict one. He always knew that his father loved him, even if he was not pleased with the current success of his son. And he was the only son and did not have older brothers to look up to. Had the War of the Ring never happened, he would have become the next ruler of Mirkwood.
As the film ended, he followed the crowd out of the theater and onto the streets. He pulled up the collar of his coat in the fierce cold. His strange eyes looked to the actors who were talking to fans outside the entrance.
"Thanks for coming!"
"We had tons of fun filming!"
Scattered phrases came to his ears. He looked up and saw the actor who had portrayed himself. The man looked up just as he had and stared directly into his eyes. He smiled. You did an admirably job portraying my character, he thought. But no mortal Man can ever portray an Elf and do the part the justice it requires. You could never look like a true Elf.
He smiled and turned. Elves had no mind power, even though he often thought about how much fun it would be if he did. It would probably create anarchy. Legolas Greenleaf walked down the street through the snow flurries, moving further and further away from the crowd and their chattering noise. A strong wind ripped through the night, pulling his hair out of the neat ponytail it had been in. He sighed knowing that his ears were exposed and there was nothing to be done about it.
Legolas turned to see the young man who had played him running down the street away from the crowd and glamour. His smile remained in place.
"Who are you?" the man asked. He took note of the brown hair and brown eyes- his hair and eyes for the film had obviously been artificial.
"I am Legolas, son of Thranduil, often called Greenleaf."
The young man scoffed. "Who are you, really? What are you?"
"I can't be what I'm not." He paused. "I am not asking you to believe me. You have been told your entire life that the story is fictional as is your character… What if that is not so?"
The man opened and closed his mouth several times. "What are you saying?"
"I am saying that Middle Earth did exist as did all the people whom you believe to be nothing more than a fantasy."
"You can't prove it."
He shook his head. "You're right. I cannot." He pulled a card out of his pocket and a pen. On the card, he wrote the address of his current flat. "If you are interested in finding out more about my seemingly rash assumptions, come here tomorrow at tea time." He paused, seeing the question at the back of the man's eyes. "You may bring your friends as well."
He turned to leave. "Who are you?" the young man called after him. He faced the man once more, the enigmatic smile still on his face.
"Just a friend. Just a friend," he said softly.
"I'm Orlando Bloom," the young man said.
Legolas neatly set out his tea service the next afternoon. His blue eyes flicked around his flat, knowing that the movie stars would find the place meager, even poor. It suited his simple tastes and styles. He did not need much. The royalty checks from Tolkien's book still sustained him quite nicely- there was enough left over every month for him to have acquired a generous savings account. No one knew about these checks and the nature of them except for Tolkien's man of business. The checks were sent to his man of business and then deposited directly into his savings account.
As many times as he had told Tolkien he did not need the money, the man's heart had broken to see him working as a chimney sweep back in the thirties. Legolas had not minded the job. He was slim enough to fit in the chimneys and found the job interesting. The conversations one could hear down the flue were enough to keep him amused for months.
He walked over to a small table in his front hall and pulled out the drawer in it. He moved aside the folds of his gray Elvish cloak with the leaf shaped brooch and lifted a hand drawn picture out. The fragile piece of parchment had a spell placed on it by Gandalf before he went to the Havens, so that it would not age and come apart. It was a drawing that an artist in Minas Tirith had done of the Fellowship before Aragorn's coronation. He tenderly gazed at the smiling faces- all of them minus Boromir. He lifted another picture out of the drawer. It was similar to the one of the Fellowship, but the only person portrayed was Boromir. He had found it when wandering a wing in the palace at Minas Tirith and had asked Faramir if he would allow a copy to be made. The Steward had consented.
His thoughts pictured the Hobbits as they had been portrayed in the movie. He shook his head, gazing at the real Hobbits. They were broader than the movie Hobbits and all of them had true curly hair and thick hair on their feet. Gimli was also much broader than he had been portrayed as in the movie albeit he was about a foot taller than the Hobbits. Aragorn was a stern handsome Man with a clear look in his eyes. His voice was also clear, something not seen in the film. Gandalf was smiling behind his long beard, wrinkled face hidden. He looked at himself, taller than all the others and slimmer than all the others- typical traits of the Firstborn.
Briefly, he pictured his friends and family in Mirkwood. He thought of his childhood sweetheart and his best friends. They had all come to Ithilien with him, but, suddenly, he no longer needed them and the assurance they provided. He had grown apart from them and become the Elf beloved of all of Middle Earth.
The doorbell rang, letting out its shrill voice.
Legolas sighed and placed the pictures back under his cloak, the liquid folds falling in place to cover the drawings. He shut the drawer and took one step to open the door.
The crowd on his front porch shocked him.
He had expected Mr. Bloom and perhaps one or two others. There were six people on the front porch and all of them were gazing at him expectantly. They were just a handful of actors from the film. Wondering how all of them were going to fit into his tiny flat, he opened the door widely.
"Welcome," he said courteously. He motioned for them to come inside.
"I would have expected an Elf to have more luxurious lodgings," one of the men commented. He was taller with sandy brown hair and blue eyes. Legolas smiled—this man had portrayed Boromir and done the son of Denethor justice.
"I do not need much," he replied in the same courteous manner. "When you have lived as long as I have, you learn where life's true pleasures lie."
The man—Boromir—paused and then grinned. He held out his hand. "I'm Sean Bean." The man had a slight English accent. Legolas had always found that accent truly beautiful since it first came about. He grasped the man's hand.
"I am Legolas, son of Thranduil, often called Greenleaf." It had been a truly long time since he used his true name. Last night, he had felt the need to identify who he really was. Mr. Bean nodded with a grin of amusement on his face. It was obvious that he did not believe that the tall slim being before him with the pale blonde hair and strange eyes was truly an Elf.
The other introduced themselves in quick succession—Orlando Bloom, of course, Billy Boyd, Elijah Wood, John Rhys-Davies and Viggio Mortenson. He almost wondered where the rest of the movie fellowship was. But then again, who would have believed? It was obvious that the men here now did not believe.
"Won't you sit down?" Legolas motioned to the small table and quickly moved to dredge up enough chairs for all those present.
Once everyone had settled themselves around the table and had a cup of tea, they turned to him expectantly. But it was Mr. Boyd who was to break the silence. "So, are you really an Elf?" he asked slowly, as if carefully phrasing the question so that there could be no mistake about its intent.
Legolas smiled to himself. "I suppose the simple answer is 'yes'."
"I don't believe it," Elijah Wood muttered.
"Nor do I," John Rhys-Davies boomed in agreement.
The Elf just shook his head. "Is there any way you can… prove it?" the man who had portrayed Aragorn asked. Legolas gave the man—Viggio Mortenson—an appraising look. Perhaps there was more to him than he had originally thought.
He stood up and went to the drawer in the front hall. He took out the cloak and the drawings. Laying them reverently in the center of the table, he watched the varied reactions. Viggio looked at the drawings and gently touched them.
"But those must be medieval drawings—worth a fortune."
"Older than that, actually," Legolas said softly. "These were drawn many years before the civilizations you know and study came about."
"But they wouldn't have survived," Viggio protested.
"Gandalf placed a spell upon them for me before he sailed to the Havens. They will not age past what they already have."
"It's the Fellowship," Billy whispered.
"It could be a forgery. Someone trying to play a trick," John said vehemently. He turned to Legolas. "How much did you pay for them?"
The Elf shook his head. "I didn't. The drawing of the Fellowship was done shortly before Aragorn's coronation ceremony. I had the drawing of Boromir copied during that same time."
No one commented on that. Orlando was looking at the cloak with some awe. The gray liquid folds moving as he touched them. "What is this made out of?"
Legolas shook his head. "I honestly could not say. It is cool in the heat and warm in the cold. It camouflages the wearer."
No one commented on that either. It was obvious from the looks on their faces that they believed they were in the presence of a mad man. Everyone except for Sean Bean… the man looked thoughtful at the drawing and the cloak. When the others left, the man stayed behind. "How can we know that you speak the truth?"
"You can't. You have only my word and items that could have been duplicated at any time."
"That drawing… it doesn't look anything like I would expect the Fellowship to look."
The Elf just smiled. "It is how we truly looked. Tolkien did not have it right in his books—I suppose I should have shown him the pictures."
At that, Sean let out a roaring laugh. "You're probably right," he said with a grin. He expression grew serious. "But if this is real, why the story of the Fellowship and the Ring? Why not your story?"
Legolas smiled slightly. "My story is not extraordinary, in fact it is as ordinary as a story can be. But the story of the Ring, that is extraordinary. That is the story that I wanted the world to know. That is the story that I told Tolkien."
"Then why the Hobbits?"
"It is the view that Tolkien wanted."
"So is anything in the Hobbit real?"
He shrugged. "I would not know. I am not versed in the history of Dwarves or Hobbits. I believe that the prologue was pure fantasy—Tolkien writing something of fan fiction on the story I told him before he went into the real story. I told him what I knew of that tale. He filled in the gaps."
Sean nodded. "So who are?"
"I am what I say I am. It is up to you if you choose to believe it or to believe that I am merely a mad man wanting attention."
"Well, you're certainly sane enough." He paused. "I shall have to decide in the weeks to come. Can I come see you again?"
"Of course, I will be here. I do not have a job right now."
Sean Bean nodded and then left the flat. Legolas closed the door behind him and sat at the table looking at the drawings. Yes, the story of the Ring—that was extraordinary. He did not want all of those men to believe him… but perhaps this Sean Bean would be willing to believe if even for a moment. He smiled. If at least one person each generation believed, then that was enough… that was enough…