A Journey Apart


What shall I say, to thee, my friend?

Too swift, we come to journey's end.

Will we part, again to meet?

I find this pathway bittersweet.

What shall I say, when thou art gone?

When stars are veiled and lost is song?

Rest, I'll bid thee in hidden dreams.

While I, alone, travel paths unseen.

Legolas Greenleaf, Prince of Mirkwood, gazed upon Rivendell from a distance, his horse bearing him swiftly and nimbly toward the Elven refuge of Imladris; and he knew a deep pain in his heart. The same pain that had lodged there just days ago upon receiving the summons in familiar handwriting: Estel is gravely ill; come quickly for he speaks of you. He had departed for Rivendell immediately, barely taking the time to inform his father of his plans and refusing to wait for an escort.

Estel is gravely ill. No doubt, the handwriting had been Elrohir's; the younger twin son of Lord Elrond ever sensitive to such things. Elrond himself was likely too wrapped up in tending to his adopted son's illness to think of such a message. As it should be, Legolas nodded to himself.

Another soft rending of his heart took place as considered that point; Elrond was a highly skilled healer and if Elrohir would report such a dire message, it could only mean that the Elf Lord himself was unsure of the outcome of his efforts.

Urging his steed onward, Legolas hoped he would reach Imladris by nightfall, and that would be well. A large thunderhead seemed to be billowing up on the horizon and the air was close with the smell of rain. Arriving ahead of the storm would certainly be preferable to the alternative—riding a soggy horse, clad in soggy clothing and weighted by a sorrow already heavy enough.

Despite his worries for Estel, the Silvan elf smiled a little, remembering his last damp and dreary ride. That too had been a return to Rivendell, with Estel at his side, a long, drizzly, grumpy ride through rain that had held off until the very last leg of their journey, and nearly dashed their hopes of arriving relatively unscathed for once from one of their hunting trips. There had been little said for returning looking like a pair of drowned rats but at least, it had been noted, they had arrived without one of them lying at death's door.

Ai, Valar spare his life. Legolas found himself begging silently. He is the hope of Men... The blonde elf's lips twitched into another gentle smile. "...and of Elves." He murmured softly to himself, as another recollection came to the fore of his thoughts. Quiet conversation between friends about certainties and uncertainties, things to be written in the future and things already scribed in the past.

Aragorn watched through somewhat heavy-lidded eyes as Legolas tossed more wood upon the fire, and he sighed contentedly as he tipped his head back upon the bole of the tree against which he sat. Above them, the stars shone brightly, a rare thing in these days of darkness, and his lips twitched into a smile.

"What song do they sing tonight, mellon nin?" The human asked lightly, still gazing upward.

Legolas stirred the embers beneath the newly added wood with a stick, and then threw the stick upon the fire as the flames licked higher. He turned sapphire eyes up to the sky himself and smiled as well.

"Tonight I have in mind the tale of Varda and the First Song." The Silvan elf now looked at his companion, to see if that would suit, and Aragorn nodded his agreement. A moment later, the elf's light, throaty tenor rose into the air between them, singing the song that both of them had learned in their younger days. Although, Legolas had to remember with a smile, that his younger days were far longer ago than those of the ranger who now lifted his own voice in harmony.

It was an agreeable way to spend a late summer's eve; camping on the outskirts of Rivendell on the way back from errands run for Lord Elrond, Aragorn's elven foster father. The weather had been kind to them, and there had been plenty of easy game for the hunting and now they were close to completing their journey.

"Do you think Ada did it on purpose?" Aragorn's voice suddenly interrupted the singing and Legolas opened eyes he hadn't realized he'd closed and regarded his human companion curiously.

"Did what, Estel?" He prompted with a slightly puzzled frown, shifting now to sit cross-legged by the firelight. Aragorn's head was tipped upward again, stargazing.

"That." He said, glancing briefly at Legolas before looking back up. "Estel…my name." Estel, of course being the word for 'Hope' in the language of the Noldorin, and the archer grinned.

"I've never known Lord Elrond to do anything without a purpose, mellon nin."

"That's not what I meant." Aragorn moved now to lie on his back, tucking his hands behind his head to better gaze upon the night sky. "Did he really think that it would make a difference?" There was a softer, more concerned expression on Legolas' face now, and he nodded slowly even though his friend was not looking at him.

"Yes, he did." He said softly. He'd guessed during the journey that despite the lightheartedness of the young human that there were weightier issues going on in Estel's mind, and he had simply waited patiently, knowing that eventually Estel would speak of them. "He knew that this day would come, when you would have to be told all." Legolas continued to speak quietly. "He knew that you would have to know he always believed, even when you have not, that your destiny is something greater than all of us."

"I'm not greater than anybody." Aragorn shot back just as quietly. "How can I be this hope he speaks of? There is naught but weakness in these veins…Isildur's heir or not, I don't have what it takes to be this great king of Men that Ada describes."

The burden was fresh, Legolas knew; the conversation between Lord Elrond and his adopted son having taken place only a few days before the archer had arrived in Imladris for a visit, and it had not been an easy one from what little Aragorn had said up to this point.

"You were born to something better than Isildur himself." Legolas said firmly, and Aragorn did look at the elf now, uncertainty written in his expression.

"You speak like you know this for a fact." The human said thoughtfully, and the smile returned to Legolas' features.

"I do." Legolas nodded. "I may not have the gift of foresight like your Adar, and I don't pretend that it will be an easy path, mellon nin. But I see strength in you that will not easily lay down to the temptations of the evil you will face."

"Even the temptation to flee?" Aragorn's lips had curved into a sardonic smile. "I mean to set out for the Dúnedain encampment to the North in a fortnight." There must have been something of a shocked look on the blonde elf's face, for the human's smile drew into a deeper grin. "Fear not, mellon nin, I do not intend to forget you, or my home in Rivendell. I just…I do not know if this power is one I wish to take up."

"Whether you accept your destiny, or it accepts you, is not for me to say." Legolas finally replied, but there was still firm resolve in his voice. "It is only mine to say that I will not abandon you, gwador nin, but your fate shall be mine. I would follow you anywhere, for I believe your name is true. Hope you are called and hope you will be."

Hope…it was the one thing driving Legolas on now, as he approached Imladris with all haste. Tipping his head up, he gauged the speed of the oncoming storm and was now beginning to wonder if he would beat it; it seemed to have gained some strength during his daydreaming. Pursing his lips tightly, he hunched his shoulders against the strengthening winds and put his head down, blonde hair whipping around his face. Hold on, Estel, I am coming.