Disclaimer: I do not own them, and I never will. I make no money with this story.
Summary: Legolas has his own special custom and he honours it every year.
A/N: Written for the Teitho Challenge "Rituals and Festivities", the October/November theme. In the village I come from, a tree will be planted near the main road when two people marry, I just varied this tradition a little.
I can still feel the soft breeze that touched my skin, the gentle whispering of the voices the south wind carried on its wings. It was warm on my face, caressing me with sensitive fingers, soothed me deep inside and gave my weary heart the peace it had yearned for so long.
I have always enjoyed the wind, how it would rush through my long blond hair, how it played with it and would throw it high into the air with but the tiniest of movements. I loved the voices and smells it carried with it, I seemed to be able to see the far away lands from which the wind came and the passing of time itself. The wind told of Kingdoms long gone, of forests that existed before the race of man was born, it brought with it the scent of history. And I breathed it and felt complete.
Aye, I still feel it, but it is just a memory, nothing more. Time has changed. It has even changed the wind.
No longer is it the south wind that I feel on my face, but the east wind. The wind does not talk to me, as the south wind has done. It is hostile and cold, alien to me and yet so well known. It has been blowing for many hundreds of years now, and it will still blow in hundred years if we should not be able to bring the light back to the east and free the south wind. The wind that smells like saltwater.
The night is cold, but I stand on my balcony nevertheless. The sky is clear and the stars shine down on me, greeting me and beckoning me to smile at them, to acknowledge them and feel well and protected under their light. But I cannot. Not this night. This night, I will not look at them the way I am used to do, because in this very night, so many years ago, my mother was born.
I know that elves do not celebrate the day of their birth, but the House of Oropher has its own customs and this is one of them. For us, the day of our birth is special. My mother has introduced this tradition when she married my father and we have honoured it since.
I look at the stars sadly; today their light will not bring me sleep, or rest of mind. I sigh. It is a sad task that lies before me, but one that I do since I can think. I do it every year and when fate prevents me from being home, I will do it as soon as I am home. But in all my long years on this arda, I have rarely not been home on this day.
I close my eyes and let my spirit wander over the still lands, the quiet forest and the dark woods that spread out before my eyes, had I opened them. I know it is there, large and emerald, although not as green and lively as it had been. It has changed, too.
When I turn to leave the balcony and the serenity behind me, I direct my steps to my chamber door and then down the hallway, the flight of stairs, the great palace door, out into the night. No one hears my steps, because they are silent, no eyes see me leave as I meld with my surroundings, with the shadows that call out to me, but they all know that I am there, as I am there every year.
For all those long years I am doing this, dreading this day and at the same time I wish it would be today, or tomorrow, but certainly in the near future. I cannot explain why I feel this way. One part of me seems to shy away from this thought, seems to be willing to run and hide and never come back. To never do this again.
But another part of me, the one part that always wins, that is stronger and superior, this part wants me to go. This part calls to me when I am journeying the lands, sometimes with others, but most times alone. I wish sometimes that its voice would be small and low, not so strong and demanding. But, it is always there, calling for me and turning my steps home.
And when I arrive at my home, the forest that I know so well, that has protected me and sheltered me when I have been but a child, that has laughed with me and played with me, had been my friend so many years, when I smell the rich scent of the soil, the water that runs in the riverbeds, hear the rustling of leaves in the breeze and the lovely sounds of elven songs, the tinkling of golden bells high in the palace, then I know that I am home…and I need to be here. And my heart rests.
Without my conscious thought my steps direct me down the garden path. It is so dark that I cannot even see the stones under my feet, but I know that they are white, as white as the spray of the sea, although I have never seen it, and they are as smooth as water, although I have never felt them with my fingers. I know that it have been my feet that have polished the stones.
The wind catches in my hair and waves it around my face; I do not wipe it away as my hands are already used. I cannot lift them to tuck the blond tresses behind my ears, but I do not mind it and I do not care. This night does not concern itself with these things. Nobody will see me tonight and even if they would, they would not see me the way they usually do.
I know that I am halfway there, I have just passed the golden rain, a plant that blossoms here even in winter. A rarity in all arda. It has been planted here many years ago and will stand here for many more years to come, but I know, with the passing of the elves and the great track to the Undying Lands, the golden rain will lose its beauty, it will wither and die, lost and alone, abandoned by all. For, whom shall it show its magnificence once the elves have left the circles of this world?
A moth flutters in my way, its wings shining silver in the moonlight. It flies before my eyes and follows my path as I go, but I know it is not really accompanying me on my way. The tiny animal has been drawn to me by my hair, these blond and sometimes white tresses that crown my head, that remind me so much of her, and my father even more. I am sure, in this moonlight they shine like silver, like spun silk and the stars want to bed down in it and rest there for all eternity. At least that is what my mother has told me when she brought me to bed.
It has been long since someone has tucked me in bed. So long that I have nearly forgotten.
I want to tell the moth to fly away, to find someone else, a flower of the night, one with big blossoms that will provide shelter and food for body and soul.
Fly away my little friend and seek your luck elsewhere.
And truly, when I pass a flowering shrub of twilight foxglove, my little companion soars from my shoulder where he has sat and settles on the flowers. At least they have found each other. His path ends here, but mine does not end here yet, and so I walk on, alone once more.
When I pass by the small stone bench, carved out of white marble, green ivy winding around the sides and the back, leaving only the seat truly visible, the white and slightly blue orchids timidly craning their slender necks towards the heavens, their scent, even in the night, soothing the mind, I smile despite the path that still lies before me.
I love this bench and at the same time I wish it was not there. It makes my heart weep, but my mind only shows me beautiful pictures. I can see my naneth sit on that bench with me, smiling down at me and telling me the stories of my ancestors. And how she has met my father, how they fell in love and how she prayed to Iluvatar every day to keep him and her family safe. To keep me safe.
I miss her. I miss her so much that my heart tightens in my chest and my eyes feel the wetness of tears.
But my way lies still before me. I turn away from my memories and the bench and walk on, my feet silent on the polished marble; my rustling robes the only sound.
I am near, I know. I know it exactly, as I have treaded this path so many times in the past. In a few steps I will pass by the small fountain, which's water reflects the stars, aye; there it is, marvellous as ever. The wind brushes past me and I can smell the rich scent of the trees now. Just a few more steps and I will be there. So many times have I done this and still, every time it is different. Unique. Sad.
My legs walk on their own now, as they always do, they know where they have to step, where the softest grass now grows as the path has ended. It leads only so far. Often I have thought about it, but I think the stones can only show me the way; I have to take the last steps by myself. And I do. As I always do.
I still love my mother. Greatly.
I walk over wet moss, little flowers, Evermind they are called, decorating the green, they are unspoiled and untouched. No one enters this secluded part of the gardens, as it belongs only to my family. My mother, my father and I. I know my father remembers this day in his own way, which is not that different from my way. We have never met each other here, so.
Slowly, I approach my destination and when my steps finally stop, I know that I am there. And I take a deep breath…and smile.
I kneel on the moss, touch it gently with my hands. It is cold and wet from nightly dew, but it is soft and feels so good on my skin. Just as my mother used to feel when touched.
Taking another deep intake of breath, I can smell the tiny flowers that grow here, they call this place their home and I envy them for that. I wish I could be like them, sometimes.
Tenderly, like I always do, I set down the object that I have carried down onto the moos, then I say I prayer to the Valar and stand up, my head directed at that which I have set down.
A single white candle flickers on a bouquet made from wild flowers, sending its light into the dark night. My mother loved the wild flowers.
Directing my gaze straight before me, my eyes travel up and up and higher still, almost up into the sky. There, before me, like it has done since the day my naneth was born, stands her life tree. I smile, a single tear gliding down my cheek.
Elves do not celebrate their birthdays, but in my mother's House, they would plant a new tree when an elf was born. As the elfling grew, the tree would grow, become stronger and taller, stretching into the sky and beyond. All elves have a special bond to their tree and being a wood elf, I feel this even stronger. I can nearly feel my mother now. I miss her.
My mother's birth tree is tall and strong, but since her death the tree has not blossomed anymore, and it never will again.
Smiling at it one last time, a turn and leave the place. I know that the candle will burn through the night, and when the first rays of sunlight will filter through the trees, it will flicker and die. It always does, although I have never been there to see it.
I make my way down the path again, but I am not sad anymore. I see the fountain and the bench, the gold rain and the marble stones. I feel light and strangely happy. I have honoured my naneth, and I know that I will come back next year.
I always do.