Title - Faded Ashes - Chapter Four - Ashes of the Heart.
Author - Jules
Genre - Angst/suspense
Rating - PG (angst)
Summery - A terrible fire destroys Mirkwood and the Silvan Elves. All except one are lost, how will he survive?
Disclaimer - Tolkein owns everything Lord of the Ringsish! The plot, is entirely my own. the lyrics ( in italics) in here are by LifeHouse - No Name Face album - Sick Cycle Carousel
Authors Notes - It is strongly recommended to read the first three chapters in this series before even trying to wrap your head around this one. Again, serious angst ensues, blame the arsonists!
Dedication - Sonbon, Camster, Katie, the Ratpak gals, Leemonster, Frank, and the firefighters who helped me protect my home. WE LOVE FIREYS!
Archive - yes, but tell me where and leave my name on it!
Feedback - much appreciated to yunadax@bigpond.com . Thanks to everyone who sent me reviews for parts one, two and three!

Faded Ashes - Chapter 4 - Ashes of the Heart

If shame had a face I think it would kind of look like mine.

Legolas couldn't help but replay the events of the previous evening in his mind. He had murdered a being whose life was not his to take. His heart battled with his mind, each trying to convince him of its view. His mind told him he had taken a life needlessly, for the battle would still have been won had he not slayed the last Urak-Hai, yet his heart was still filled with the anger and pain from the fire that had destroyed his home and family. He bowed his head, his mind finally convincing him that he had indeed done wrong. The knot in his stomach reclenched its iron fist, seemingly crushing his soul once more.

If it had a home would it be my eyes?

Morning graced the travellers' with the sight of slain Urak-Hai. Even though they had moved a short distance away from the battle site, the morning rays still glinted off the armour and weapons of the dead, the mist creating a scene of horrible beauty. As if pulled by a mystical force Legolas made his way silently to the side of the Urak-Hai he had slain. Its face fixed and twisted in an expression of horror and surprise for eternity, its eyes unblinking and almost glittering in the early light. He glanced back at the campsite, releived to find his comrades still sleeping soundly in the dawning sunlight. Again he looked at the body, his heart aching and his mind reeling with trying to find some way to make this wrong right. This wasn't the first time he had killed, far from it, but the reason behind this creature dying at his own hand still greatly troubled him. His hands moved of their own accord, starting to scrape at the soft earth mimiking the movements they had performed not long ago on his own brother. Slowly the grave began to take shape, growing deeper as the sun rose higher in the morning sky.
Meanwhile Gimli and Aragorn had awoken, finding their comrade again missing, but spotting him after a quick survey of the surrounding area. Gimli watched his movements, slightly confused as to why the Elf was burying someone he had slain the night before. Aragorn also seemed to be slightly disturbed, although not confused as Gimli was. He saw the confusion written across the Dwarves' features.
" He cannot accept the fact that he has taken a life needlessly" He muttered to the Dwarf. " He feels he must atone for his actions and pay a debt greater than can ever be repaid. We should leave him alone this morning." He finished, tearing his eyes away from the toiling Elf and preparing something for them all to eat.

I never thought I'd end up here, never thought I'd be standing where I am. I guess I kind of thought it would be easier than this, I guess I was wrong.

How long Legolas toiled over the grave he didn't know, his hands seemed to be seperate from his body, ignoring the part of him that was repulsed by being near the fallen creature, the smell and the endless gaze of its unclosing eyes. Finally he dragged the heavy creature into the earth, heaving with the effort of moving such a heavy load on his own. He placed the head above its neck, finally closing his eyes and murmering a prayer to his gods for forgiveness. He scooped the earth back into the hole, finally putting a barrier between himself and the sight of his own destruction. Standing he bowed his head once more, regaining his composure and returned to the campsite.
Aragorn lifted his head as Legolas approached, his eyes searching his friends face for some sign of emotion. Legolas was rather skilled at hiding his emotions and kept his mask in place, firmly telling himself that he had to deal with his on his own rather than troubling his friends with the problems of his heart and mind. He sat down a broke a peice of waybread, absently eating it while he stared back at the battleground. Without a word they packed their things and prepared to travel again, Legolas not offering any explanation for his actions, and his friends giving him the respect of not asking.

Would you beleive me if I said I'm tired of this?

They travelled in silence for a while, each content to mind their own thoughts and take in the greenery. The followed the river for a while, its meandering path taking them closer to their ultimate goal as time wore on. Days passed with little or no words being spoken within the small fellowship, the tension was starting to build as Legolas retreated into himself and only spoke when absolutely necessary. He ignored Gimli's attempts to banter and bait him, and took no notice of Aragorn's words of comfort he frequently offered. His inner spirit seemed to be fading again, for his step seemed heavy for an Elf, and his eyes once again dull. Aragorn saw the warning signs and concern started to gnaw at his conscious. He knew Elves were resiliant creatures, about to withstand just about anything an army could throw at them, yet damage their spirit, or wound their hearts, and they could die just as easily as if they had been struck down by a sword or arrow. This was what he feared with Legolas, his spirit was troubled, wounded even. He knew his friend felt guilty for taking the life of the Urak-Hai in anger, not in self defence. But the deed had been done and could not be reversed, so according to Aragorn, there was no point withering away over a slain Urak-Hai

I tried to climb your steps, I tried to chase you down, I tried to see how low I could get down to the ground

Legolas warred with his inner self. He felt horrible about the Urak-Hai and was starting to doubt wether he could do any harm to Saruman when they came to face him. He was angry at the wizard destroying his home and family, but that anger was starting to fade, only to be replaced by guilt and selfdoubt. He stopped and turned towards Aragorn and Gimli, a decision firm in his mind.

" I've seen enough death Aragorn. Let us not stoop to the murderous level of Saruman just to exact vengence, and my own vengance at that." he said softly to both his comrades. " My people are peaceful, to go on a quest for retribution would dishonour their memories and go against our very way of life" He looked into their eyes, pleading with them to understand his new revelation. The thought had come to his mind unbidden, just appearing within his troubled thoughts as the answer to all his problems. Yes he had already taken the life of one being, and the regret had nearly taken his own life. To willingly take another would most certainly kill him.
Aragorn simply nodded, releived that Legolas had made some kind of peace with himself. Gimli once again looked confused.

" Are you sure Master Elf? Have we travelled this far for nothing?" he asked the tall Elf... somewhat miffed that all the legwork would be in vain.

" Alas no Gimli, I apologise for taking this long to come to my senses." Legolas said with a self conscious smile. He was indeed sorry for the amount of time his mind had whirled within its own confusion. The words of Aragorn seemed to have finally sunk in, reminding him of the fact that the past was the past, one can not very well change it, but one can change the future.

"Let us head for Lothlorien and the Lady of the Woods. She is generous and will let me stay within the forrest for as long as I need." He added, he was eager to be amougst Elves again, for although he did not tire of his present company, his heart longed for that of his own kind. To start life rather than take it by force. Heading back the way they came Aragorn spoke of the future.

" What will you do in Lothlorien Legolas?" he asked simply, curious as to why Legolas would choose to be with Elves rather than with the tight bond of the Fellowship.

" I'm not sure." The Elf replied " I've seen enough death and misery to last many lifetimes. I wish to enjoy life, and taunt Saruman that way. He has tried to deal me death, and in return I shall deal life. Let him know that I defied him and risen above him, not sunk into the depths of despair and hatred. I thank you again my friends for being there and helping me through this. Had you not stood by me I would not be now facing the light. " His pride vanished as he praised his friends. He knew it would not have been easy for them to even tolerate his pathetic company, let alone enjoy it. Had it not been for the words of support, the small gestures and respected silence, he knew he would have either died of greif for his friends and family, and again for the Urak-Hai, or he would have been determined to exact vengance on Saruman, which was in hindsight just as bad. His step was once again light as they headed for Lothlorien, perhaps a little too light for Gimli's liking.

" What of the hurry Master Elf? Have you fair maiden in your sight in Lothlorien?" he asked in jest. Legolas grinned at him before faking a look of boredom.

" Oh I don't know... there was that young maiden with the long hair and beautiful smile that caught my eye last time I was there." he smirked slightly, happy to be once again bantering with Gimli.

" Alas, all elf-women have long hair and nice smiles!" The dwarf retorted.

" Yes but if you had the eyes of an Elf you would notice a discerning amount of difference between them" he ribbed back, dancing out of the way before his best friend lunged at him in jest.

" Eyes of an Elf...." Gimli muttered as they continued, keeping up the moderate pace Legolas had set previously. Watching them from a small distance away Aragorn smiled to himself, happy in the knowledge that Legolas had not only worked through is own problems, but resolved to continue living life to its fullest as well. He watched the two in their antics with a contented look apon his face. All was one again right with the world although dark cloud still hung upon his heart for the lives lost at Mirkwood, and he was sure it would hang above Legolas' heart as well until the end of his days. But the Elf seemed to have resolved to live his own life for the people of his destroyed village. He would live for all of them.


Thats it.. all done.. happy ending ::Sighs to self:: I'm sorry if the ending is kind of abrupt. My muse took extended stress leave halfway through the second chapter and has only paid me few visits since. Anyways you shall hear from me again when muse returns! You never know.. there could be a sequal involving the fair maiden at Lothlorien. But then again.. that would be 'Mary Sue' and I've resolved not to write that stuff again! Anyways.. we shall see...
As always feedback appreciated at yunadax@bigpond.com.