Disclaimer: I do not own anything that you see, except for the idea.
As Long As You Remember
Standing upon the seashore, an Elf meets a young woman, who, despite the great differences between them, manages to bring a certain measure of peace to his heart.
The waves rolled in.
And the waves rolled out.
It seemed so peaceful, with the waves dancing calmly, with such hypnotic grace, before him. Overhead, the seagulls called, singing their song with the ocean's whispers. But it tugged at his heart relentlessly, offering his heart no peace, and awoke within him a yearning desire which consumed his dreams at night, and haunted his steps at day.
It was as if he could see far into the West, his keen blue eyes piercing the mist and shroud, across the sea of silver glass, stained by the light of the moon, as the curtains of rain and sleet pulled back, and catch a glimpse of lush green fields, and hear Elven voices singing, calling the last of Elf-kind to return home.
Several feet away from him, standing as motionless, and as silent, was a young woman, with the dark hair of the people of Dol Amroth. She was clad in a light summer dress of pale green, with her face turned towards the ocean also.
Long had the both of them stood upon the shore, looking out over the waves as they rolled in and withdrew. For two hours already, he had stood upon the ocean's shore, but the woman had been there, even before he arrived.
It was silent save for the whispers of the waves and the songs of the seagulls, but the curiosity eventually got the better of the Elf, and he turned to the woman, melodic voice speaking softly, as if the image of the moonlit sea before him, with crying bird overhead, would flicker and dissolve before him should his voice raise too loud.
"You intrigue me."
The woman turned, with a question upon her face.
Her voice was somewhat rough to his Elven ears, much like the other mortals he had come to know and communicate with.
He smiled, turning back to face the ocean once again. "You intrigue me... because you stand here, on the ocean's shore."
"Why is that strange to you, Master Elf?"
Even as he began to speak, his eyes darkened fractionally. "Because you are mortal, and mortals rush. They do not stand on the white sands of the ocean's shore for over two hours, not when their lives are so hectic."
"And because my life is hectic, I do not have the time to enjoy the world?" She asked slowly, almost as if she sounded insulted by his words.
The Elf shook his head, flushing slightly. "Forgive me. But I assumed that the answer could be no, for I have seen few mortals who would stand motionless at the ocean's shore such as you, so few who understand the beauty of the world."
The woman smiled. "The sunrise here is gorgeous." She said softly, knowing that his keen Elven ears would hear her with ease. "Pink-orange skies, with streaks of red reflected upon the water's surface, like lines of fire. And the sea sparkles as if millions of sapphires had been thrown on its surface, drifting with the morning tide."
"You know the sunrise well." There was a hint of question in that mellifluous voice.
She laughed, "I should, for I have stood on this ocean's shore ever since I was a child." She glanced sideways to him, "But of course, in your eyes, I am still a child."
It was his turn to laugh, but that quickly faded, bringing a frown to the woman's face.
"You are troubled?" She asked.
"Perhaps I am." He answered somewhat defensively.
"You are troubled." She stated with certainty, then looking out to the sea, and hearing the Elf's soft sigh, she continued. "Your heart yearns to sail." She too, had heard that the Elves were leaving the shores of Middle-Earth.
The Elf grinned mirthlessly. "You are right... I wish to sail, but not yet." He said, releasing his breath on yet another soft sigh.
"Is it a consolation to stand here, or torture?" Her voice was curious, and reminded him of when he was much younger, only an Elfling discovering a whole new world.
"Both." He said heavily. There was a long silence then, before the Elf abruptly broke it.
"How can you stand it?" There was anguish in his voice, so much so that she was startled.
She turned with wide eyes and asked. "Stand what?"
He was fretting now. He would have been pacing back and forth, but he settled for clenching his fists. It was almost disconcerting for the mortal woman to see an Elf in such a worried state, but she somehow had an inkling of what pressed him.
It was a moment before he answered. "How can you be so calm, when you know that one day, you will die?"
Ah... The woman smiled sadly. "Why do you fear death?"
"I do not!" He cried out. But his face fell, and his tall statue stooped slightly with defeat. "Not for me, but –"
"For mortal friends?" She asked in a soft whisper.
For mortal friends... The War of the Ring had brought many races close together, and many Men had made friendships with Elves, Dwarves, even Hobbits. He was wrong, he did fear death, as an Elf, as an immortal, he feared the death of his friends.
"For mortal friends." He echoed softly. He turned pleading eyes on her. "How do you live, knowing that you will die?"
She released her breath slowly, turning to face the ocean again. "We just... live." She said lamely, knowing that her answer meant absolutely nothing to the Elf. Her mind cast about for the proper words, and she struggled to answer his question.
"We... You were right when you said that mortals have no time. Our lives are hectic, and rushed... But there is one thing that brings all mortals together, king and peasant, man and woman, parent and child, and that is the knowledge that we will die one day.. and how we live."
She turned her sparkling hazel eyes to face him once again. His face was neutral, the elegant features schooled into an indecipherable mask.
"Life... is like a long hard day of work and toil in the fields. And mortals... we tire easily, but we are happy when we go home for a good night's sleep. And that is life to us. We have worked so hard, so long, and our fruits of labour have brought us countless joys... but we grow weary, tired, and we look for sleep."
She sighed, wondering if her words meant anything at all to the Elf.
"Mortality... it is the gift of men. When we returned from a hard day's work, we are allowed to sleep. When we live a long and fruitful life, we can finally close our eyes and succumb to the desire to rest. For all eternity, yes, but... without regrets.
"Will you begrudge your friends this well-earned rest? I know not what lies after death, whether you will meet again, for you will sail to Aman, the blessed lands of the Valar... but your friends, they will wish to rest after their lives. Will you let them die with no regrets?"
The Elf had no answer, as he continued to ponder his words.
There was sudden calling in Elvish, and he turned in the direction of the Elven voice. It called again, and the Elf frowned.
"I must go." He told the young woman distractedly. She knew that he was thinking. "Naamarie. Farewell." He said, striding away.
She stood watching him, a small smile on her face. She envied his friends, because his friendship with them was so strong that the Elf would resist the Call of the Sea to remain with his friends, and to fear the prospect of death...
The fair-headed Elf turned, his silken hair whipping about him as the wind blew strongly. He hesitated for the briefest of moments, before he opened his mouth to speak. "Your name, good lady?"
The woman merely smiled, shaking her head. Calling back with the same strong, soothing voice, she cried, "It is of no importance!"
The Elf frowned, a slight marring on his forehead, but before he could speak, or protest, the woman had spoken again.
"I have no doubt that you shall remember this day!" She smiled, tilting her head ever so slightly. "But I shall forget. Time will pass, and I shall grow old, my hair turning silver with age, and as my eyes begin to fail me, so will my memory. I shall forget you, and forget this conversation, even as I shall pass into death, and be forgotten, long before you sail for Aman."
She smiled wistfully, but her eyes shone, and they held a soothing light within their hazel depths. "But you will remember this day – the day you stood upon these shores with the seagulls crying overhead, your heart yearning to sail, and this conversation you had with a nameless girl."
Her smile grew wider, more serene. "And as long as you remember... Mortals can live forever."
The Elf cocked his head then, a small smile lighting up his youthful yet weary face. His eyes held the light of ages and wisdom long past, but in them also shone the knowledge of mortal life. He made no reply, as his comrades called for him once again, the urgency in their voices discernable even to the young girl's ears. He turned away, striding towards them with a smooth gait, blessed with the grace of the Eldar. But before he reached them, he turned, and bowed low to her, and she inclined her head with a smile.
The young woman continued to stand at the shore, with the sun rising inch by inch from the ocean's horizon. She watched as the Elf approached the large group of nobility about to set off, and hear their greetings. She recognised the flags being hoisted into the air, fluttering proudly as the wind whipped past, bringing the smell of the sea to those awake in the early morning.
She recognised the banner of Dol Amroth, with its silver swan upon a sea of blue. She saw the flag of Rohan, with its white horse rearing upon a plain of green, and she saw the standard of Gondor, the fabled white tree with the seven stars. And then she gasped as the last banner was raised to fly proudly alongside its companions.
A single wise oak tree, its branches supporting a simple gold crown, cast upon a dark and luscious green background.
It was then that the woman realised who she was speaking to upon those white shores.
The horses were eager to set out, eager to run and plunge with the wind. Legolas could feel Arodion's energy as he mounted his steed, and shared in his stallion's desire to race across open plains. Beside him, he could see his friends sharing the same desire, and he nudged Arodion into a slow canter as the group struck out, heading for Minas Tirith.
He turned in his saddle, looking towards those white shores, Elven eyes easily catching the figure of the mysterious woman standing alone on the sand. He nodded his head, and thought he saw a smile grace her features. Arodion cantered up to the horses bearing his friends ahead, and he turned around.
Hearing the fluttering banners, Legolas tilted his head upwards slightly, smiling at how the banners flew alongside each other proudly, a symbol of the friendships that he had forged in the years past.
Eomer nudged Firefoot into a wild gallop, and they took off, flying across the fields. With similar whoops and calls for joy, the rest of his friends took off after the King of Rohan. Aragorn and Faramir raced neck to neck, with Eowyn plunging past them easily on her stallion, challenging the men to out do her. Legolas grinned with this challenge, and Arodion proudly tossed his head, quickly gaining ground, while Gimli clung on, conveying his anxiety byyelling curses and insults in the coarse Dwarven tongue.
And as he raced with his friends, all calling joyfully, with their escorts and banners streaming behind them, Legolas recalled the young woman's words, and the aching in his heart lessened somewhat.
As long as you remember... Mortals can live forever.