Epilogue: Famous Last Words

Aragorn ran to meet his friend as they departed the room where they had spoken with Lord Elrond. "Legolas!" The elf turned around, his expression unreadable. "You do not have to do this."

The prince blinked, looking rather amused. "What?"

"I…" Aragorn groped for words to express the faint remorse that had dogged him ever since the secret council. "Legolas, I know you carry the weight of Gollum's escape on your shoulders, and I do not wish you to feel obligated to place yourself in such peril--"

The elf's soft laughter startled him. "Peace, Aragorn, I told you before not to speak so. You cannot excuse my failure, as you well know. But worry not about my motives; I would never refuse any request sincerely made of me by Lord Elrond, and he is set on my departure with the Fellowship. That is reason enough for my mind." He smiled then. "So I fear you shall be forced to put up with me for some time on your journey to Minas Tirith."

"What a dreadful thought!" They both laughed. "Narsil is to be reforged ere we depart. I have decided it shall have a new name when it shines again."

"What will you call it?"


"The Flame of the West. Fitting," they walked together along one of Rivendell's paths, overlooking the canyon. Legolas glanced to the other side and saw a dark figure, clad in flowing gray, crossing a bridge. "There is the Lady Arwen." Aragorn paused at the railing, watching her passage with a strange look in his eyes that Legolas had never seen. Almost unconsciously, the man's hand strayed to a silver chain about his neck that Legolas had also not seen before. "What have you there?"

Aragorn blinked. He seemed to have forgotten for a moment that Legolas was there. Then he looked almost bashful, and rather tense. "I…"

The elf took a step forward, worried. "What troubles you, my friend?"

Aragorn hastily shook his head. "Nay, naught troubles me. It is that…it is Arwen."

Legolas grinned. Now he knew that look. "Be not embarrassed, Aragorn, you are hardly the first man or elf in Middle Earth to become smitten with the Evenstar."

His eyes anxious, Aragorn said, "Legolas, I fear it is far more than that." With slight reluctance, he slowly drew the chain from within his tunic, exposing the pendant that hung upon it. It was a beautifully-crafted white gem, set in silver.

Legolas's breath caught. He knew that ornament. Nearly every elf in Middle Earth knew it. "Aragorn!" he breathed. Aragorn's eyes searched his, seeming not to know what to say. Legolas realized now why the mortal was so uncertain about revealing this. He knew that Aragorn's possession of so valuable a token belonging to the Evenstar could mean only one thing. *It is more than an infatuation upon his part. She returns it. Moreover…she would not give such a thing to him unless…a Elbereth!* Softly, he touched Aragorn's shoulder. "She has pledged herself to you?"

"And I to her," Aragorn said quickly, and more than a little defensively. He seemed to greatly desire Legolas's approval of their union.

Legolas's mind whirled with the implications of it. "What does that mean…for her?" he asked quietly.

Aragorn looked away. "It means what it has always meant for elves who would bind themselves to men. If we wed, she must…" he shook his head. "I loved her from the first time I saw her. I thought she was Tinuviel. But I was too young then to see what my love would do to her. And now she will not be dissuaded from forsaking Valinor to remain in Middle Earth…at my side." Raising pleading eyes to his friend, he said, "I love her, Legolas. But I did not intend for this to happen. Do not think ill of me for it."

Legolas listened, his heart full. "It grieves my heart to think of the death of the Evenstar, Aragorn. But as to your feelings…I do not think ill of you. I have known you many years, and seen your courage, your noble heart. You are not unworthy of Arwen. And if she has given her heart to you, that is enough for me. I wish you well of her."

Aragorn sighed. "I fear others of your kindred may not see it so. Even Lord Elrond has said that I may not bind her nor any other woman to me until I am King of the Reunified Lands. That is another reason why I go." A strange little prickle ran through Legolas, and he hastily turned away. "Legolas?" Catching sight of the elf's shaking shoulders, Aragorn grabbed his arm. "Legolas? What--" He broke off in astonishment when the prince turned back, grinning helplessly with laughter. "What ails you?"

"Forgive me," gasped Legolas, trying in vain to control the mirth that had suddenly come over him. "I was just…imagining…Candrochon's reaction!" Laughter burst out in earnest now, and he nearly doubled over.

Aragorn gaped at him for a moment, then began to grin sheepishly. "You intend to have much merriment at my expense over this, don't you?"

"Perhaps a little." Legolas shook his head and gripped the man's shoulder. "Fear not, my friend. All will turn out well. And you shall be King, and Arwen Queen? May the Valar hasten that day, for it will mean greatness has returned at last to the race of men, son of Arathorn."

"Don't say that around Boromir!"

"Point taken."

"And speaking of true greatness, I think the Eldar shall find much glory brought to them by Legolas of Mirkwood in the Fellowship."

Legolas laughed, "Aragorn, between your presence and Mithrandir's, I doubt there will be many great deeds for me to do."

"And you of all people, son of Thranduil, know that there is more to greatness than mere deeds. I think you shall have much to offer the Fellowship of the Ring."

"If you say so."


A day or two before the Company sets out…

"I am sorry, Faron. I truly hoped to stand with you, but I doubt if I shall be returned within a year. It might be a very long time."

Faron put a hand on Legolas's shoulder. They stood upon a balcony with Faron's bride-to-be, Galithil, and Merilin and Candrochon. "I do not blame you. You have a great quest ahead, where you shall stand for all the Eldar. Nay, Legolas, I think I may excuse your absence at my wedding if you are busy saving Middle Earth from Sauron." Galithil nodded.

"When mean you to be married?"

"In the Autumn, next year," said Galithil. "I told Faron that if you are busy defeating Dark Lords and winning glory for the Eldar, he should ask Glorfindel to stand with him."

"That is a fine choice. He is your captain," agreed Candrochon.

Legolas sighed. "I am still sorry. I missed Merilin and Cand's wedding, and now yours. And when I return, the world shall have changed again."

"Legolas, with any luck, you shall be the one who brought about the change," said Merilin, moving to his side. "And the change shall be that the Enemy is defeated at last, and all the free peoples of Middle Earth may find an end to his scourge upon their lands. That shall be a welcome change, if the quest succeeds."

"Very true," Legolas laughed. Still, he could not shake the lingering sadness that had clung to him like a fog since he realized he would be leaving much sooner than he had planned, and would be abroad in Middle Earth for at least a year.

Faron was watching him. "I know that look, Legolas. We shall still be here when you return. Be not so troubled."

Legolas sighed and dropped his head. They knew him far too well. He smiled at them. "I know not why this melancholy has taken me. But I have the strongest feeling that the world shall be very different when I return…even more so than when we returned from the war party."

Candrochon shrugged. "Then it is different. Does that necessarily bode ill? We are young, Legolas, the world will change much yet before our time in it is done. It does no good to fear it."

"And besides," said Merilin. "You have every reason for pride. You are embarking on a great mission, one that could end much of the suffering in this world. I think it safe to say no elf has been a part of such a company in all our history."

"Very true!" laughed Galithil, pointing to the terrace below them. The four hobbits had come scampering out onto it, laughing and talking. "Hobbits, elves, men, Mithrandir…"

"And dwarves," grumbled Legolas, as Gimli the dwarf joined the hobbits on the terrace. Soon the five were seated beneath a large tree, fat with red autumn apples, talking of past adventures, and of food. "It shall be interesting, to say the least. I shall be the only elf."

Faron was watching him silently. "But the man Aragorn is your friend, is he not? Not to mention Mithrandir. You shall not be alone."

"That is true. Still, I shall miss you, my friends."

Merilin and Galithil idly watched the dwarf, who was now seated upon a stone bench, with the hobbits all about him. Due to the difference in size, they were like children at his feet, listening to him telling stories of his father's exploits at Lonely Mountain and gesturing grandly, causing the sun to flicker off the gaudy pearl ring on his finger. "I should like to know hobbits better. They are such strange, yet endearing creatures. I rather envy you, Legolas," said Galithil.

Legolas smirked knowingly at Faron. "And you should doubtlessly get on better than I with the dwarf, dear kinswoman!"

Galithil snorted, but Merilin came to her defense. "Perhaps you will get on better with him than you fear, Legolas. After all, you are almost as pretty as she is!" Then she had to dive playfully behind her husband for protection as Legolas launched himself at her, pretending to brandish his knife.

Once the giggling group had calmed themselves, Legolas sighed. "I wish Lord Elrond had sent one of you with me. I have never been without all your company entirely."

"It must be," said Candrochon. "But worry not, we shall be with you in spirit. Our hearts all go with you."

"I know." Legolas watched the youngest hobbit, Pippin, picking more apples from the tree, though he had to climb onto the bench next to Gimli to reach the lowest branch. "Most of all I wish Tathar were still here."

"Do not we all," agreed Merilin. She put her hand on his shoulder. None of them had ever gotten over Tathar's death, but Legolas's closest friends knew that he had suffered the greatest. "But perhaps more than any of us, he shall be with you." She smiled and squeezed him lightly, "Perhaps that is how you have managed to keep yourself in one piece despite all the trouble you get into."

Legolas laughed, "My brother has said similar things to that effect, that someone must be interceding with the Valar on my behalf!" The others joined him. "Tathar did have a way of keeping me from getting killed in all our escapades. I hope I have his blessing on this journey."

Galithil grinned, "He always said you were destined for greatness."

Legolas snorted. "Tathar said many overblown things."

"Oh come, Legolas, when it came to you he was seldom wrong, you just conceded that point. He was the one who persuaded you to enter the Trial."

"True," Legolas sighed wistfully, feeling a deep pang of loneliness despite the closeness of his companions. "None could read my thoughts and moods as he, nor speak as freely to me, and I to him. There was nothing we could not face together. Ai, how I miss him still." He shook his head and smiled apologetically at the others for such dismal words, but they were smiling.

"Be not so sad, Legolas," said Merilin. "Cand said it; we are young. We are with you still, and you shall find many more friends before your time is done."

"There is no replacing Tathar."

"Nay, but there remain many elves in Middle Earth still. And one day we shall all sail to Valinor and rejoin those of our people who have already passed. Besides, there are many kinds of friendship. Perhaps one day you shall marry," Faron offered. Galithil and Merilin giggled, and Legolas rolled his eyes.

"Do not be so quick to dismiss the future, my friend!" cautioned Candrochon. "We are indeed to young to judge what fortune may have in store for us." He smiled and put an arm around Merilin's waist. "Even the Mirror of Galadriel cannot see all ends--though it sees most, I grant." They laughed. "But who knows? Some maiden may yet steal your heart." They laughed harder at Legolas's dubious expression and clapped his back. "And you may yet find a friend in Middle Earth as noble and true to you as Tathar was." Grinning, he gestured down to the hobbits and dwarf below them. "You certainly have a unique opportunity, meeting all the free peoples of Middle Earth on one journey. You may find some rare friends indeed among them."

Merilin nodded thoughtfully. "I could see Legolas making friends with hobbits. From what I have heard of them and their Shire, they are in some ways not unlike elves. Certainly, they have a pleasing gentleness. What think you, Legolas?"

"I think it most possible," Legolas agreed, watching Meriadoc and Pippin demonstrating some kind of dance while Frodo, Samwise, and Gimli laughed and applauded. "They are such merry folk."

"And you have Aragorn and Mithrandir, and even Boromir, though he seems a bit pompous," added Galithil.

"Better a pompous man than a modest dwarf," teased Candrochon, who then had to duck to avoid a clout from Galithil.

Faron winked at the others. "She still carries that little gift from Sháin of the Lonely Mountain." Galithil defiantly pulled a small chain from around her neck, and sure enough, the moonstone hung there.

Legolas shook his head at them. "I granted her then that it was a fair gift, but I still hold that Sháin was a fluke among nature." Galithil snorted, aware of the futility of debating the point with him.

"There, you see, Legolas?" said Merilin. "On this journey and the many others you've yet to take in life, I think you shall find many rare and different friends."

The son of Thranduil smiled at them. "I grant it. As you say, I still have you, and the quest of the Ring shall certainly be…different." They all laughed. "And perhaps I shall find friends among them. But Tathar…was the most true, honest, and complete friend I have ever had. A friendship borne of such great time and trial cannot be easily found." he watched absently as the dwarf rose to demonstrate strokes of his axe to the hobbits.

Legolas shook his head. "I shall never know so great a friendship again."

THE END…or perhaps, The Beginning?

And with that, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. DON'T FORGET TO REVIEW!!! And don't worry, there are more stories on the way, including the heart-wrenching, tear-jerking conclusion of "Elven Song!"