A/N: Non-Canon; I know that Legolas built a ship shortly after the death of Aragorn and left Middle-Earth with Gimli. For the sake of this story, he has remained for millennia after the death of Aragorn. As far as a disclaimer, I am not Tolkien, etc, etc.
"Lo, here comes the flood.
We will say goodbye to flesh and blood.
If again the seas are silent, and any still alive,
It will be those who gave their island to survive.
Drink up, dreamers, you're running dry…"
A lone elf entered through the gates of imladris, seated upon an anxious white stallion. He was unrecognized, but then, there was no one to ponder the question. The once beautiful city, full of laughter, was now unkempt and silent; not even the steady sound of the river, or the gentle rustling of leaves—though in his mind, the elf could still hear echoes of laughter reverberating through the now empty courtyards and passages. The sound was somewhat dulled as he had not heard it for far too many centuries to measure.
He closed his eyes and could almost picture a young boy running as he chased; both running as through there would be no tomorrow for them and now, now there never would be. Tears came unbidden to light eyes that looked far too old to belong to the fair, eternally young featured elf. He had not seen that boy, nor the man he had grown to be, for millennia. He closed his eyes as he tried, unsuccessfully, to keep the tears from slipping from beneath his eyelids.
There were many more stars back then, that shown all the more brightly for the king that united the lands—millennia ago. The stars have changed, so has the world, yet I've remained the same.
The elf paused, looking at a barren tree that was finally affected by mortality like never before when under the power of Vilya. Affected like all of the mortals that he had loved.
My father warned me not to mix with mortality—not because he did not like you, but because he knew that you would die, eventually, and I would not. I would not die, I will not die, and yet I do not live. I held your hand to your last breath, Estel. You truly were your name. You inspired hope and you were among the greatest of kings this world has known. I remember the stars that were there, even if no one else does. I remember the stars which have faded, all that has faded… I remember you. I remember when we were young and careless and thought our carelessness could never end.
He shook his head ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly, as though mentally ridding himself of memories; ridding himself of lies that he had perhaps created to live in some semblance of peace—in a world where everything was as it had been. A world in which his brother could never die.
I remember you, my brother, as you were as a king. I remember you as a boy, creating havoc.
They told me not to come here, that it's a waste of time. A waste of time. As though somewhere in the midst of eternity, I shall be chastised for spending some moments of eternity with one mortal who lives within the boundaries of time, and remembering him years, decades, centuries, millennia later.
As though it is possible to use my moments in such a way that perhaps Eru will take eternity away from me for abusing the privilege of having moments to waste. As though it is a blessing to have eternity to die a thousand deaths without ever actually being torn from this world as you were.
The elf slowly stopped while wandering under one of the trees as though caressing a memory. His hair was a vivid golden halo about his fair face as he stood in stark contrast with the grey, lifeless tree behind him. The once vivid, emerald, golden, and crimson leaves were now gone. The branches were bent over, almost completely barren save for a single leaf. The last leaf hung precariously, a dull and lifeless grey, no longer tended to by the Elves or touched by the magic of the Lord of Imladris. The elf thought of Elrond and smiled, his eyes shining with unshed tears. He loved Elrond, also. The Lord of Imladris had always been exasperated with him and with Estel, for one reason or another.
He made his way to Estel's room and sat down, lost in memories. On the table beside the bed lay a carefully carven flute. He remembered attempting to teach his friend how to play the elven flute. In his mind he could see a young human and himself getting into mischief, young and carefree, living for the moment—neither of them realizing that one of them was bound by time and the other cursed by it. He had known that his friend was mortal, but he had never paid heed to that fact until Estel began growing weary as he grew older. He had tried to pretend it was not happening, but it did regardless and he was powerless to stop it.
For the first time in his life, he had been utterly unable to help his brother, and it hurt him. It hurt him so dearly to see his brother grow old and weary, and unable to do the things that he had done so many times before. He thought of all the times they had planned 'adventures' in this room. If he closed his eyes, he could almost picture Elrond bursting in to lecture them for a prank, or nursing the human back to health after a particularly painful excursion, or the twins running away from someone they pulled a prank on. He could even hear the hysterical laughter of the twins as they ran in, practically slamming the door behind them and collapsing on their adopted brother's bed, avoiding capture yet again by the dreaded, yet dearly beloved, advisor of Elrond: Erestor. Yet as he opened his eyes again, he was overwhelmed with the agonizing silence of emptiness.
With age we changed, just like the stars, just like the trees.
They don't know the things I've seen, the things I've had to do—they think that it was easy, letting go of you.
He thought back to his last meeting with Estel. Seeing Estel lying upon his bed with no strength had nearly broken his heart. It was all he could do to keep himself from breaking down and weeping shamelessly in their last moments together, it was all he could do to not beg him to share just a few more words with him, just a few more moments, just a few more smiles, or touches, or memories. It took all of his strength to not simply leave the room, leave everything and everyone forever, before everyone and everything could leave him… as he had finally realized would indeed happen.
It took everything he had to take his brother's hand in his, and smile at him, and know that he would never see his brother gaze at him with those steady, serene grey eyes, and tell him that everything would be okay.
It took his all to simply sit beside his brother and grip his hand so firmly that Estel surely would have lost feeling in it, to grip it so tightly, as though if he did not let go, then neither could Estel—that they could live in that moment forever… and it took his all to know that when his grip was no longer returned, to understand that his brother was gone and that he was now all that would be left of yesterday.
He knew that his brother was gone and that he would never see the sun rise again. Not on this earth. Not with him.
And he was torn away from his brother; he was forced to let go, just as Estel had been, though he had not moved on like Estel had.
He merely continued living with farewells eternally upon his lips.
You were my brother, Estel. When you died, a part of me died, and I have desperately tried to bring it back, to live as only you could. I hope that some day, Valar willing, we will meet again. The friendship I promised, Estel, it is still there. I will not forget it, and you are in my thoughts everyday. You are still my brother.
I weep for you every day, Estel. Every day I think of you. I mourn alone. I pray alone. And every day, I die alone.
The elf held the flute tightly in his hands; the whiteness of his knuckles attested to the fact that he was desperately attempting to keep the tears from falling. Yet his thoughts won as the tears were finally, desperately shed; they never seemed to stop. His breaths were sharp and sudden, the result of his lungs begging for air. He had been alone for so long…
Let me curse mortality, for all that's left is I… let me curse my tears, for I do not wish to cry…
He had come here to fix Imladris in his mind before he left Middle Earth. Forever.
The elf, even though, or perhaps because, he was an immortal, was not sure he could go through eternity without his brother.
The elf had come here to fix their unbreakable friendship in his mind, but he knew it would never be the same.
And though there's nothing left for me, here in this barren land, I cannot bring myself to leave, for the memories still stand…
The elf stood up, tearing himself away from the bed, the sheets barely showing signs that anyone had rested upon it for millennia, and looked around the room one last time, his eyes shining with tears. He turned and practically staggered back through all of the empty passages, now lit only by the dying glow of the setting sun, back toward his horse, past all of the now empty rooms that were full of endless measures of memories—each room begging for its memory to be relived as he moved past it, his stoic face seemingly apathetic yet betrayed by the heartbreak in his eyes.
The façade is gone, the memories and life left hollow and bitter here... it is only you and I now and with every step I must bid my last farewell.
It was a walk that lasted forever for him, and if elves lived for eternity, then the walk was eternity, for it was in this moment that his heart finally, truly broke. He would never see his second childhood home again, never again see his childhood brother, never again know the innocence.
Then, hesitating, as though he could not do it, he mounted his stallion, turned, and trotted slowly toward the eternally open, aged gates before breaking into a gallop; a single glimmering tear fell from his eye. He disappeared through the gates, never to return again.
And as the last sound of hoof beats faded, the last leaf fell, swirling toward the dried, barren riverbed, crumbling as it hit the earth.
And one could almost hear the sound of the laughter of two brothers as they ran through the halls, a melodic sound as the leaf floated to the ground, and then disappearing for the last time, never to be heard in Imladris again.