Title: Just Let It Go
Summary: On the eve of the celebrations for the coming new year, Legolas seeks solitude and remembers those fallen, and mourns their shortened lives.
Disclaimers: Not my stage, I just like to write plays for it.
A/N: This story was written for the Aragorn-Legolas Yahoo! group challenge issued by Rhonda, one of the dear Moderators. The Challenge was to write a story about New Year that included a New Year's tradition (whether your own yours and/or your family's or a more widespread tradition), plus had to have Legolas and/or Aragorn in it. Could take place in Mirkwood and/or Rivendell.
Special thanks to Kelenloth, who helped me out several times when I got stuck in the story, and for her abundant support. Thanks goes to Tira Archer, for beta reading and encouragement. And last, but certainly not least, I extend my gratitude to MCross who gave me much needed input, helping me get my thoughts in order, and beta'ed the story. All three of these wonderful people were there for me while I was writing this story, and they helped me out in their own special ways. Even when they didn't have any suggestions, just speaking to me about it helped me clear my head and figure out how to get over the next hurtle that came along.
Arms held straight and still, right hand resting on the ready weapon just to the right of the elf's chin, left hand firmly holding the curved wooden end of the bow, legs evenly spaced apart, target clear. The barely imperceptible movements of fingers twitching was the only warning of the release of the deadly projectile on the bow string. The twang of the string and the whistle of the arrow flying through the air was music to the elf's ears, and the expected thump of a lifeless body hitting the ground was the perfect beat of a drum in time with the rhythm of the song of life in the woods around him.
A prayer was sent up from the grateful being in thanks to the animal's sacrifice for his people. Nary a sound was made as the elf approached the fallen creature, pleased with his catch. The elk was a large one, and would make a fine addition to the feast come the eleventh day of celebration for the coming of the new year.
It was a long held tradition that the celebration of the new year was marked by eleven days of festivities, each day having its own mode of celebration. The festival would begin with the first day set aside for complete silence, no words were to be spoken except for the most necessary of communication. This day of silence was to reflect upon the year's happenings and your past behaviour, and if necessary pardon was sought after that day for your transgressions.
After that first day of silence, the halls would be filled with noise of the convivial gathering. But the very last day would be the greatest of all, for the feast would be the most magnificent.
As the elf worked on gutting and dressing the game, his thoughts turned to another tradition for this time of year. He needed to write down his resolutions for the arriving year; most of the elves in his kingdom had given up the practice years before, but there were some that still honoured the custom - among those were his family and friends, including himself.
It was tedious work, disembodying the elk, but due to his mental abstraction it was easier then normal to ignore. By the time he had skinned the creature and set the pelt aside, then cleaned the skeleton of all meat, the elf could hear the approach of the rest of his hunting companions. Soon they arrived carrying various other foods from their own forages, ranging from small beasts to wild plants; some even toted eggs and nuts.
"I see his highness has saved the best catch for himself." One of his friends gibed.
He did not make a rejoinder, however he graced his friend with a good-natured smile. The foragers set about preparing the elk provisions for departure. The one who had spoken before slowly approached the elf and his catch, staring down at the collected game. "Thank you, my friend, for your generous donation," he prayed softly aloud to himself, then turned to the other elf. "Well, Legolas, it seems you are set on besting all of us this hunting trip."
"Was not my intention, my friend. However, it is not hard to see how I could best any one here when you do not even try." Legolas smiled tauntingly at his friend before turning away. His hands were still coated in the remains of the elk and he wished to cleanse them before he went any further with anything. "Mothran, may I make use of your water supply? I desire to remove this grime."
"Certainly, sire." Mothran helped Legolas to employ the water vessel and once they had finished, the rest of the party were more than ready to be off home. Excitement for the days to come hung in the air around them, putting springs into their steps and a strange lightness into their hearts.
Due to the ever encroaching darkness and evil around them, it was more important than ever to make the celebrations of another year's passing something memorable. Otherwise the passage of time would not be thusly noted - time held no sway over Elves as it did Humans, for eternity stretched before them and a simple year was naught in comparison.
This particular year marked another century of fighting and surviving yet Legolas found hope in remembering that which mattered most - after one hundred years his people were still here. It helped for him to continue the fight when he took the battling in increments of one hundred years. Legolas tried not to focus on the fact that fending off the taint of evil was something that continued to go on and on as the centuries passed away into the millennia.
Depression was kept at bay among the Elves of Mirkwood by remembering that after all of those centuries of fighting, they were still there to continue battling. However it was necessary to keep hope kindled in their hearts by celebrating the fall of winter to spring each year; maybe not with elaborate feasts that marked the celebration of glorious victories, but with slightly smaller festivities that were still very much enjoyed.
Thus it was that all of this had brought Legolas and several friends out into the woods to forage for meats and other foods for the table of his father - the King - in the days to come.
A sense of anticipation hung in the air around the group as they continued on their way back to the palace; one could assume that the elves' thoughts may have been lingering on the mouth-watering ideas of just how the cooks would see fit to prepare the fruits of their labour that they were bringing.
This time of year was one for reflection, and that is what Legolas found himself already doing. His thoughts did not dwell upon food or the celebrations ahead, unlike his companions; his thought process was taken up in memories of those that had died that year, and years before that. Legolas' heart was saddened by those missing elves, but he could appreciate their sacrifice.
And so it was that later, after they had all returned to the palace and delivered their burdens, Legolas took his leave of his friends and made his way out to a place where he could reflect and remember in peace. His destination was the rock face from which the palace had been erected into, only it was a little more then a league away from the edifice. However, once he reached that area, Legolas was not quite finished with his traversing.
With skill and familiarity, the elf prince began to ascend the rock face, climbing with adeptness that spoke of rock-climbing knowledge. There was another route, that others would consider safer, on an inclining path not too far away, but Legolas preferred the challenge of cliff-climbing. It took quite a bit of time to accomplish such a feat, but the prince used the time to think about those lost, the battles they had fought, the battles they had to fight in the near future, and the arriving new year.
Legolas found the concentration of climbing to help quiet his mind, and his thoughts were therefore more clearer on the subjects he had them dwelling upon.
Many were the number of those that were lost during this last year of battles, and their deaths weighed heavily on his heart. It was not right that immortal lives had to be cut so short, and it was this thought that helped to drive the prince to continue combatting the forces of darkness. His contribution in the fighting seemed like nothing compared to the gift of their lives that those passed on had given, though.
Back towards the beginning of his fighting, there was a friend of Legolas' named Aglarion who had died right before his eyes. Aglarion had been a childhood friend, and it was hard to watch his friend fall to the hands of such evilness that the orcs carried with them.
Then there had been Lhachien a few years later, who had taken a shot in the back when they were ambushed on the return journey from a border patrol.
One of the most hardest blows though had been when his younger brother, Aron, was taken by the spiders and eaten before they could get to him. It was the worse hit that Legolas had taken thus far in the war, for he had felt so helpless to save his brother.
Eventually, the prince had been able to deal with the pain so that it did not continue to hurt so much when he recalled the incident. He found comfort in knowing that one day, he would see that smiling, dear face of his sibling again.
As with all war, it was full of casualties, and there were so many of his loved ones that had had their voices silenced and their hearts stilled. Legolas had learned through the years how to recover from their deaths and give his all once more to his life quickly, but there had been a fatality earlier that waning year that still burned deep.
Siltathar had shown a lot of potential in becoming a great warrior, and he had been in Legolas' charge. Legolas was instructing him, helping the young elf to better himself; and Legolas was the reason Siltathar was no longer with them. The elf had been so young, much younger than any of his other friends that had died; fresh out of regular training - any thing more he could learn was to be field experience - but the ellon had stepped in front of a swing meant for Legolas. It had been a most honourable thing to do, and there were many people proud of the deceased elf, but for Legolas the wound still hurt when the wind blew too hard through it.
His guilt was overwhelming at times; he found it hard to live with himself, knowing that sword swing was meant for him and not the young ellon. Legolas could still hear Siltathar's voice in his head.
Warm blood flowed over the prince's hands as he stared down at the dying elf before him. Siltathar was bleeding profusely from a wound in his side, and despite how much Legolas wanted to deny it he knew there was nothing that could be done for the young ellon. "'Tathar," Legolas began, sighing slightly, sadness creeping into his defeated voice. "Why did you do it?"
Siltathar smiled wanly, knowing his prince well enough to know that Legolas did understand why he had taken these actions, but nevertheless wished that Siltathar had done differently. "Because, you are my friend, I would see my life taken before ever I see yours crushed; you are more important to me and all of our people than my own life-"
"No!" Legolas barely refrained from shaking his dying friend. "I am not more important! Tath, I am not!" The more distressed he became, the more Legolas reverted to Siltathar's soubriquets.
Tathar's smile grew a little bigger and sadder, his eyes began to droop. "I would never have been able to live with myself if I had done nothing; besides, Mirkwood's loss is far less with my death than it would have been with yours." Tath shook his head when Legolas began to protest. "No, it would have been, you know it...," the elf paused as pain lanced through his consciousness. "It was my duty, and I am proud to have layed down my life for my friend... all I ask in return is that you do not grieve for me."
"Not grieve?" Legolas found himself voicing his doubts.
Siltathar's breathing was shallow as he slowly gave up the ghost, but he had not quite released his immaterial being and fled to the Halls of Mandos just yet. "Keep in mind, we will see each other again... when time has run its course, and all of the prophecies have been fulfilled; when Evil has received its just punishment, and Good has become the Ruler of all morals once more. When peace, truth, justice, and goodness sovereign all of our lives; and the Light shines all around..." His voice dropped lower, and a peaceful smile showed on his face. "There... there in that perfect place, that precise moment, you will find me. That is where and when we shall meet again." One last time, Siltathar's eyes flitted open to look up into Legolas' distressed and sad gaze. "Until that time, all you need to know is that I am in the very essence of serenity."
Legolas closed his eyes for a moment, gathering his thoughts. "Tath," he began, opening his eyes once more. But his friend could no longer hear him.
Siltathar had given up the ghost and fled to a world beyond Legolas' own.
A sigh escaped the Woodland Prince as he pulled himself up onto the crest of the rock face; his climb complete he settled down, letting his legs dangle over the edge, and his eyes looking blankly out over the tops of the trees.
Recollections of Siltathar's death filtered through Legolas' mind; he recalled slaying the orc that had so mortally wounded his friend and could hear the ring of battle around them even as he caught his falling companion.
For time unnoted, the prince sat there on the bluff with thoughts cast far into yesteryear; and he never perceived the tears that pursued trails down his face. He was finally brought from his reverie when something soft and wet grazed his arm. Instinctively, Legolas jerked from the contact causing the small, furry creature he was not aware had approached to jump back and crouch low, watching him intently.
The cat was two feet tall, and the elf instantly recognised it as the Bay Lynx; usually its species was skittish and shied away from two-legged beings. Legolas could only estimate that the cat had been driven with curiosity to have drawn so near to him, and since he had not moved in some time the Bay Lynx had not been scared of him.
Legolas stared back into the dark, beady eyes of the Bay Lynx, and judged it to be fairly young yet. For several minutes the elf and cat watched each other, until finally the lynx turned away and stole back into the rocks and plant growth.
Reaching up a hand, the elf ran it over his face, erasing the signs of his emotional showing. And it was at that time, Legolas heard someone coming thither; however, he did not turn to greet the newcomer, and his gaze lingered once more out on the horizon.
"Something told me I might find you here."
Legolas glanced up at his friend, before returning his sight to a place that none other than himself could see. The other elf took a seat beside him, resting from his trek up the inclined path some ways down the trail from where the prince sat.
"Where does your mind linger?" The elf asked quietly, watching Legolas with calculating eyes.
"In the past." Legolas spoke in a soft tone.
"Ah." There was a slight prodding tone to the one word sentence.
"Most specifically, Siltathar and others lost in this war."
"You grieve their passing?"
"You do not?" The question came out sounding wrong, and Legolas realised that when a disapproving frown appeared on his friend's face. "I did not mean that... forgive me, my friend."
"All is well." He waved a dismissive hand before letting out a sigh. "I will always miss them and mourn those losses, but I know I mustn't let those losses burden me over much, Legolas."
There was a long pause.
"Siltathar requested of you not to mourn his passing, and yet this is what I find you doing. Do not seek the shadows with your soul, Legolas. They will hide you for a time, but they cannot heal your pain."
For a long while Legolas did not reply to his friend's words, but finally he drew a deep breath as if coming out of a reverie and his mind cleared. "You are right... Come, my friend, let us seek the Sun and the Light that holds healing."
They rose to their feet and tracked back down the path Legolas' friend had tread not long before. Neither spoke, but both were also preoccupied with their own thoughts. Legolas' thought process tarried once more on his friends, kindling fond memories of his deceased companions and the special times they all had shared.
--unknown time later--
"Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And days long ago?"
Strains of the new year song 'Days Long Ago' drifted around through the city of the Elves and nature seemed to reflect the mellow song. The song was one associated with this time of year most specifically as it was at this eleven day celebration that one spent the most time in reflection.
"For days long ago, my dear,
For days long ago,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For days long ago!
And surely you shall be your tankard,
And surely I'll be mine,
And we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For days long ago!"
With a sigh, Legolas lowered the glass in his hand and idly swirled its contents as he ambled through the city of his people, his thoughts far flung and his walk rather aimless.
"Your highness?" Legolas was surprised to be interrupted, having not given thought to his surroundings or even that someone might wish to speak to him.
Turning, Legolas looked upon the younger elf and had to blink for a moment for it seemed he was looking into Siltathar's eyes. Tears stung the back of his eyes when he pulled his mind to the present and understood that he was staring into Siltathar's younger brother's gaze, not the deceased elf's.
"Yes, Tinuial? I presume there is something you need my help with?"
"As a matter of fact there was..." The younger elf shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, seemingly unsure of how he should say what he desired to say.
"What is it?" Legolas gently prodded.
"Well," Tinuial hedged. After a moment, he decided to speak to Legolas about something different than what he had originally meant to say, feeling as if he could not find the right words to start the conversation going in that direction. "I was wondering if you could give me some tips here..."
Legolas felt that the subject they spoke of was not quite all of what the boy had wanted to speak about, but he let the conversation continue along its way as they spoke of various fighting tactics and so forth.
"If you shift your grip to here, it will help your overall performance and your arrows have a better chance of flying truer." Legolas gently moved the younger elf's hands ever-so-slightly. The prince watched Tinuial closely, noting how the elf's eyes lit up with the love for the tasks he was performing. Legolas could see in the other's eyes the same love for his weapons training as Siltathar had. "You remind me so much of your brother..." The blond elf did not really realise he was speaking his thoughts aloud, but there was a definite sad tone to his voice.
Tinuial lowed his arms, releasing the tension in the bow string as he glanced up into Legolas' mournful gaze. "So I have been told many times... Some times it is hard to hear such things, for I still greatly miss him. He admired you greatly, did you know?"
Surprise filled the prince's deep blue eyes.
Tinuial looked away, off into the distance, a pensive expression on his face. "He would have done and did do every thing in his power to keep you safe..." The young elf whispered quietly, his voice thick with emotions. He took a deep breath and turned back to meet Legolas' tear-filled gaze, smiling sadly. "I may miss him, but deep in my heart I know he is always here with me. He's in the air, the trees, the sky... he lingers in the stars at night, and in the breezes that dance on the prairies...
"He is always beside me, for I carry him with me every where, deep inside my heart." Tinuial placed a hand over his heart. "And I know with every fibre of my being, that he would hate for you to lament his passing... for truly, Legolas, it is not so much as that we lost him, as really he has just gone on ahead of us."
Legolas shifted his gaze away from the earnest one of Siltathar's younger brother, and shutting his eyes he felt the tears inside of them leak out, but he did not care. "It amazes me, Tinuial, that you do not loathe me..."
"Why should I?"
"I am the cause of your brother's death. If it were not for me, you would still be able to speak to your brother; he would still be here for you."
"I could never loathe you... besides, Siltathar died for you for a reason, and why would I hate the reason he choose to die for? Aside from you being my prince and a friend, and therefore I could not despise you, but I can also respect my brother and what he choose to die for. His reasons for dying are of the most highest and more honourable than anything else I can think of. If he layed his life down for you, that speaks highly of you as well." Tinuial placed his hand gently on Legolas' arm, trying to reach the other elf.
Slowly, the prince's gaze met Tinuial's and he found there only the upmost of sincerity. "Thank you, Tinuial, your friendship means much to me."
"As does yours." For a moment they stood in silence, before Tinuial finally spoke up once more. "I think it might be time to return, people will begin to miss us as the celebrations begin to take off... and their prince will be most notably missed. Come." Turning, the other elf tugged slightly on Legolas' arm, gently urging the elf to follow him.
Legolas followed, his mind spinning with everything spoken between the two of them. As they drew closer to the palace and other houses, soft music surrounded them. Words were carried gently on the breeze.
"We two have run about the hills,
And pulled the wild daisies fine,
But we've wandered many a weary foot,
Since days long ago.
We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning to noon,
But seas between us broad have roared
Since days long ago.
And there's a hand, my trusty friend,
And give me a hand of thine,
And we'll take a good-will long drink,
For days long ago."
The blond-haired elf found his heart accepting Tinuial's words, and for the first time in a long time, Legolas found his heart coming to peace.
Those lost may not be there with them any more in the strictest sense, but as long as they were remembered then they were always going to be with their friends and family. And one day, when everything had been completed - and things were as Siltathar had said they would be - all of Eru's children would be reunited.
"Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And days long ago?"
The Bay Lynx is a less common name for the Bobcat; I thought that 'Bobcat' might look a little strange in a Lord of the Rings' story, so I used its occasional name.
I did not write 'Days Long Ago' just so you know; I cannot recall at this time who did, but it was a long, long time ago that it was written.
This story is in honour of all of those friends I have lost over the years. They will always be here in my heart, and my memories; I will never forget their pluses and minuses, and remember how they handled things. Also, this story is dedicated to my Grandfather who died last Feb., and even though I had only met him on a few select occasions and he never really had taken an interest in us grandchildren, his absence will always be felt and I will still miss him.
As for the names in the story, for those of you who are curious:
Mothran - moth means 'dusk' and ran means 'wander, stray' so I consider his name to mean 'Wandering dusk', however I am no expert and only guessed at how to create a name such as this. Pardon any mistakes, if you would be so generous.
Aglarion - aglar means 'glory, brilliance' and I just added a proper masculine ending.
Lhachien - lhach means 'leaping flame' and I added a proper masculine ending.
Aron - ar means 'high, noble, royal' and I added a proper masculine ending.
Siltathar - sil means 'shine (with white or silver light)' and tathar means 'willow', so I consider it to be 'Shining Willow'.
Tinuial - tin means 'sparkle' and uial means 'twilight', and I consider it to be 'Sparkling Twilight'.