Homecoming

Summary - Legolas returns home after the War of the Ring. How will his father react to Legolas' decision to move to Ithilien?

Disclaimer – I do not own anything and my apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien for using his characters.

This is it. The final chapter. Enjoy!

A/N 2: Sorry if the updated date messes you up. It's the same chapter but I fixed a couple of typos that were pointed out.


Chapter 12

That morning, after the party and the day before departure, all the Elves slept late, save one. Legolas slept later than he normally did, but was still up before any other Elf. He did a last check, but there was nothing to be done. The wagons were packed. The horses were in a close pasture and the gear was ready.

Legolas decided to spend a portion of his last day at home in one of his favorite trees. He walked to it quickly, and swung himself into the branches. He settled comfortably on one of the mid-branches and closed his eyes. He listened to the sounds of the forest around him and breathed deeply of the air.

He felt better after letting the soul of Eryn Lasgalen surround him. The consistent sea-longing dimmed to a whisper in the corner of his mind. As attuned as he was to the forest, Legolas heard someone coming from a longer distance than he normally would have. As the Elf approached, the Walker recognized the sound of his father. The king walked sedately, giving Legolas time to accept his presence. When he reached the tree, he looked up, even though the branches hid the younger Elf.

"Legolas, I hope I am not intruding. May I join you?" Thranduil called.

"Of course, Father. Please come up."

The king quickly climbed the tree and sat on a branch near his son so they could see each other. Thranduil smiled as he settled himself.

"I am surprised to see you can still climb so quickly, father. I thought a king would not have time to practice his climbing skills," Legolas commented in a very mischievous tone.

"I could knock you from this tree if I had to, my son." Thranduil returned in mock seriousness.

Legolas glanced down. "Please do not. That would hurt." He tried to sound as if he was scared, but failed.

Both Elves laughed. The exchange removed any lingering tension between them.

For a long time, they sat in a companionable silence. Eventually Thranduil broke it.

"Legolas, I hate to ask, but I have to." He paused.

"What?"

"There is something else that is still disturbing you. Something that will not let your heart be at rest. I do not believe this is the reason, but if you have any doubts that I now support you fully, please tell me. I want you to believe me. As I believe in you."

"I believe you, Father. Truly."

"Thank you. So if I am not the reason for the sadness, what is? If it truly hurts you so much to leave Eryn Lasgalen, you do not have to. But, again, I do not think this is it."

Legolas met his father's gaze for a moment, then looked away. He looked down and sighed. He could not lie to his father, but did not want to cause him further pain.

He sighed again and spoke quietly, not looking at the king. "I saw the sea."

For a moment the king looked puzzled, then understanding dawned. "Oh, Legolas," he said quietly. He hesitated over his next words. "And the longing? You have it?"

Legolas nodded.

Thranduil shook his head as if denying the truth. "My son. Of all the other burdens to add to you."

The prince raised his head to look at his father. The words had surprised him.

"You always have been your mother's son. Loving the forest and caring for it. Fighting for it. You truly lived your Silvan self. The Sindarin side only surfaced when you had to fight for the forest. I believe that is part of the reason you are such a great fighter. It runs through the blood of my father."

"However, the last year, your Sindarin side has caused you nothing but grief. It caused you to go on the Fellowship and now has inflicted the sea-longing on you. I am sorry, my son."

Legolas smiled slightly at his father and reached out to take his hand.

"Do not be sorry, Father. For there is no one else I would rather be than myself. If that means I am divided in my heritage, that is fine."

Thranduil returned the smile, but then it faded as he asked. "I have never experienced the longing, but tales tell it is forceful. Do not think I want to see you go, but why have you not left?"

The prince withdrew his hand and looked off into the distance, while speaking. "There is still much left to do here. I cannot leave yet."

The king heard the sincere words and the unspoken message. Legolas would leave. Sooner rather than later as Elves reckoned time.

"Your promise to Aragorn?" he questioned softly.

"Yes and the desire to see part of Middle Earth restored to what it had been. And to see what Gimli can do in Aglarond. I cannot leave yet." Suddenly the Elf raised his head and pinned his father with a serious look. "You cannot tell anyone about the longing. Not Sorontor, no one."

Thranduil nodded. "I will not. But do you not think it will ease your burden to share it?"

"No, it will not. It will only make the hearts around mine heavier as they always wonder 'when?'"

"True. I confess I am wondering the same thing."

"Do not worry, Father. I will not leave soon."

Thranduil smiled at his son, "That makes good hearing." But inwardly, he wondered if his definition of not soon was the same as Legolas'.

-------

Soon after, the king of Eryn Lasgalen and lord of Ithilien went back to the palace. Other Elves were up and soon both found themselves busy with duties of their realms. They did not see each other again until late in the evening.

Legolas entered the palace to bathe before dinner and was walking past his father's study when Thranduil stopped him.

"Legolas, enter please."

The younger Elf walked into the study and regarded his father. His heart sang with joy at being allowed back in his father's study.

"I would like to have a quiet meal with you this evening, if that meets with your plans." Thranduil said.

"Quiet?" Legolas questioned, not understanding.

"Yes, no servers, no other Elves, just us. And, if they are willing, perhaps Sorontor, Melime and Narcalimo will join us for dessert."

Legolas smiled. "That would be very nice, father. Especially if we ate in the garden?"

Thranduil smiled back at his son. "Very nice indeed. That would be a wonderful place to eat. I will see you then after I have talked to Sorontor and you have changed?"

"Changed? What? You do not like what I am wearing?" Legolas laughed as he gestured at his outfit – dirty from a day of grooming horses and climbing trees.

"You can wear it if you want," Thranduil chuckled, "but I worry that you would end up eating quite a bit of straw and dirt along with the food."

"Aye, I would!" Legolas laughed harder. "I will bathe and change and see you shortly." He exited the room with quick steps.

Thranduil's laughter quickly ended as his son left the room. His smiled faded also, "Alas, Legolas, I will miss you," he whispered softly.

------

The two Elves enjoyed a quiet dinner in the garden. They talked about simple things, family, and friends. They recounted stories from when Legolas was an elfling and a young warrior. They toasted the lost members of their family and Legolas recounted some of his most pleasant memories of his mother.

A sliver of a moon rose and both Elves sat quietly watching it for a long time.

Then they heard a door open and Sorontor with his family walked out.

"It is a beautiful night," Melime commented softly.

"It is." Thranduil agreed.

The three newcomers sat down and for a while silence reigned as they enjoyed the night.

The silence was broken by a quiet sob. Melime had hidden her head behind her hands, but raised it when she felt the four set of eyes on her.

"I am sorry," she began, but Legolas stopped her.

"Melime, there is nothing to be sorry about. I, actually we all, understand. This is hard for you," he said. After he spoke, he walked to her and sat down next to her. He pulled Melime into his embrace. She rested her head on his shoulder and smiled wanly at the others.

"Can I blame my emotions on my pregnancy?"

The males smiled, and as one, said, "Yes!"

Melime laughed gently and sat up. "Well, I will try to control them for this evening. Our last night together should be a joyous as we can make it!"

"Agreed," Thranduil said. The king smiled mischievously as he glanced at his sons before looking back at Melime. "Luckily we have you in our family. You are excellent at making joyful occasions. I am so glad one of my sons was smart enough to marry you!"

Narcalimo laughed. "So am I!"

That started the others laughing again.

"Did you ever wonder, occasionally, what it would have been like if we had fallen in love and married?" Legolas looked at Melime.

"Sometimes, I used to - before I loved Sorontor. I did question why we could have so much fun together and not feel any love," she admitted.

"So did I. I wanted to love you, but it just did not happen. Eventually I figured out why. You were meant for a different Thranduilion," Legolas smiled.

"Of course, it took him quite a while to figure that out!" Melime teased her husband.

"Yes, it did. You were how many centuries when he finally woke up?" Legolas asked.

"However many I was, he always will be older. As you are, Legolas!" Melime responded, hitting Legolas softly on the arm. "But he was very slow. My parents had given up hope of me ever marrying!"

"Can I say anything in my self-defense?" Sorontor asked.

The two friends exchanged a glance and then replied, "No."

The garden rang with laughter. The conversation continued late into the night until Melime finally pleaded exhaustion. As they went in, Legolas stopped her before she turned off into her suite of rooms.

"Melime," he began.

She looked at him expectantly as the others left them alone.

"Thank you for allowing Narcalimo to go with your support. It means a great deal to both of us." Legolas paused but shook his head to silence her before continuing. "Also, I am so glad you will soon have another elfling. Eryn Lasgalen needs more. Finally, I know I have told you before, but it makes me so happy to see you and Sorontor together. Your love is evident to all and is wonderful to see."

He hugged her. After a few moments, she pulled back and looked at him. Tears were glistening in her brown eyes.

"Legolas, you are welcome. I love my son and know that he is with a very capable warrior and leader." She smiled. "And I will continue to hope and pray to the Valar that you find an Elf to love the way Sorontor and I love each other. You deserve it."

Legolas returned the smile. "And I will continue to tell you, that you can hope and pray, but do not meddle!"

They both chuckled at the old joke.

"I will not promise, but it will be hard since I will not be in Ithilien with you. But I will keep my eyes open around here," she teased.

Legolas shook his head and hugged her again. After he released her, he said, "One last thing, Melime. Please do not feel you need to see us off in the morning. In fact, I would rather you were not there. I do not want to see you cry. Or to say goodbye again." He stopped, knowing that sounded bad but could not think of any other way to say it.

Melime took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. "I understand what you are trying to say, Legolas. I was not looking forward to being there. I would rather say goodbye to you privately and Narcalimo privately. I will take your advice."

She stepped forward and they hugged one last time. Both whispered, "Goodbye." Legolas felt tears coming to his eyes and reluctantly released her. He brushed his hand over her cheek which was wet with tears. She turned and walked away. Legolas watched until she had entered her rooms and then turned and made his way to his.

He allowed the tears to fall as he felt the sadness from saying goodbye to his dearest friend. Leaving may be the right thing to do, but it was not easy.

-------

Dawn was just beginning to color the sky when Legolas reached the stable. Other Elves were already there and Legolas exchanged greetings as he went to get Arod. The horse snorted happily, reacting to the excitement in the air. Legolas quickly put his packs on him. He led Arod outside and told him to stay close by but out of the way. Arod neighed and walked to the edge of the clearing.

Legolas helped other Elves get the horses hitched to the wagons. Soon the area was full with Elves preparing for departure. Luckily, there were no extra Elves around. It seemed that all had said their goodbyes the night before.

When the prince heard his name called, he looked up to see his father and brother standing near Arod. He walked over to them.

"Legolas," Sorontor said. "I will miss you. May the Valar keep you safe." They hugged fiercely for several long moments.

When Legolas stepped back, he noticed that Sorontor had tears in his eyes, as did he.

"Son," Thranduil said as he hugged Legolas. "Be well. Continue to be wise. I love you," the king said quietly in his son's ear. Legolas could not speak, he just held his father tighter. Eventually they broke apart. Legolas tried to smile, but could not. He swallowed and wiped the tears from his eyes.

He turned away and looked at the Elves gathered. They all appeared ready.

"Mount up. It is time for us to go," he called past the lump in his throat. There was a flurry of activity as the Elves obeyed. Legolas walked over to Arod and fluidly settled on his back.

He looked back and saw all the Elves mounted and in position. He raised an arm.

"To Ithilien!" he called. As he turned Arod towards the road, he looked at his father and brother again. This time, he smiled. They returned the smiles.

Legolas then turned away and rode towards his future.

-THE END-


A/N: Well? What did you think? My squirrel loves reviews – they feed its energy to run around the wheel and create more!