Although a couple of these folks grew up in my head, most of them are lucky enough to belong to one Mister Tolkien, I'm just making them do stuff. Most probably against their will.

If you want to archive this, please let me know, If you have any questions, let me know, If I've made mistakes and am obviously an uneducated slattern, again, let me know. No matter how many times you read Tolkien, there are things you miss, feel free to fill me in.

To an extent this is an AU fic. It is true to the events of The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but not to the information contained in the appendix section of the book. Gimli and Legolas sailed the seas but not the straight road, Elves never took up residence in Ithilien etc etc. This treats the fourth age as largely unknown.You'll find little notes of explanation at the bottom of some chapters. If you're not interested, ignore em.

Warning - in this chapter, no slash, slush or anything beyond a U rating. In chapters to come that might be a different story.

Very much a work in progress.

Any constructive criticism is always appreciated. In other words, please review! pretty please!

Chapter One, On Absent Friends.

A forlorn elvish lament followed the small boat that carried the body of the dwarf down river toward the sea of rhun.

Notes that soared with beauty, notes that hung with agony entwined the body in a last caress, whispering to it, goodbye, Gimli, son of Gloin. Elf - friend. Child of the Earth, Venturer over the seas. Goodbye, Gimli, best of the dwarven folk, your like shall not be seen again ere Arda is broken and remade. Goodbye, friend.'

The song faded as the boat finally drifted beyond even elven sight. For a long while Legolas continued to stare in silence after his friend of centuries, for the grief in his soul was great. Then, as the morning mists that clung to the river began to dissipate and give way to the noon sun, the elf tore his gaze from the horizon and stared down into the river, to see his own face reflected, pale, and wan with sorrow. The other face he saw reflected among the ripples was as a surprise to him, for he had heard no approach and believed himself alone. He turned with joy anew to confirm what he could scarce believe.

he cried, when the vision proved to be true, and he hugged the old ishtari in a hearty embrace. The wizard looked as always, though his white robes did not perhaps glow as bright as they did in Legolas' memory. I thought you were long ago gone to the West.

It is true that I sailed into valinor on the boat of Elrond Peredhil. Gandalf acknowledged with a smile, But I have no ties to any land, though indeed I dwelt in that place longer than was my intention. Nonetheless I had it in my heart to pay visit again to the folk of Middle Earth, and see for myself what changes are come as it moves into the age of the dominion of man,

Those words last spoken rang clearest in the ears of the elf of Mirkwood, for there were indeed few of his kin remaining in these lands, and those there were had become wanderers, and their number diminished with every day.

Then you have come to tell me it is time, at last, to choose the straight road over the bent and make my journey to the undying lands? Legolas questioned, though his heart was heavy in his chest.

At this, Gandalf frowned and said, Now did I mention anything of the sort, Legolas Greenleaf? If I did then I have no memory of it, for the decision is not mine to make but yours alone. Is it in your heart, elf of the wood, to leave Middle Earth behind for the Uttermost West?

Legolas looked down and shook his head. My heart remains with the woods and seas and rivers of this land, though the land of valinor is doubtless more beautiful, and its trees and streams more exquisite, it is not the place I was born into, and my heart does not yet yearn for it, although perhaps it should.

Gandalf shook his head. Your heart cannot be instructed, it can only be followed. And there is much here that, despite your years, you have yet to experience. You have no family of your own to accompany you, and in all your wanderings you have yet to find whatever it is that your heart seeks. Tell me, Legolas, have you ever felt love?

The elf's eyes returned to the stream that carried Gimli on his last journey. Of friendly love I have felt much, and great has been its joy to my heart. Yet few of those dear to me now remain, and how each parting has pained me. A love beyond friendship I have yet to know, yet it dismays me not, for even if I never find it I shall have always the memories of my friends.

Gandalf took up his staff then, and he passed it through the waters of the stream, and in its wake was formed a picture of the White City of Gondor, and the steps to the great hall were crowded with people, as for some celebration, and in the doorway stood the King, Eldarion son of Elessar, and his sisters stood to either side of him.

There shall your wanders next take you. Gandalf told Legolas, And there is is that you may find what your heart does not seek.

But at this Legolas laughed, and clapped the old wizard on the back, saying, You will forgive me, Gandalf, if in this matter I do not trust your counsel. For you have shown me one of the great cities of man, and it is my resolve to never give my heart to a mortal, for they pass so quickly, though the passing is no less sorrowful. And he thought of his good friend Aragorn, and of Boromir, and of the many brave warriors of that place that had been his friends ere they met their doom.

Gandalf chuckled and replied, Hasty elf, I ask only that you travel there. You may find that a gift more precious that gold awaits you in the Reunited Kingdom. But for now, dear friend, I must take my leave of you, for I have tarried long in these parts, and I have it in my mind to pay a visit to the shire, and see what new generations people it now.

Legolas accompanied his friend to his cart, and saw it was packed with fireworks and crackers and much to delight young halflings who would have heard of the wizards displays only in the storied of their grandfathers.

The two hugged once more, and the wizard set off along the road, Legolas calling in his wake, Farewell Mithrandir, Old friend, Herald of adventure!

And in time, the elf turned from the place he had mourned Gimli, and set upon a path through the Brown Lands, passing Rohan and over the White Mountains that would take him within sight of the shining pinnacles of Gondor, now greatest of the cities of man.

Notes on this chapter:

I'm not sure how fitting it is for a dwarf to have a water burial, but as he and Legolas have, in my telling, spent the best part of a century sailing, I went with it. Legolas set the boat on its way at the meeting points of the rivers Carnen and Celduin.

Yes, Legolas and Gimli had friendly love, no sexy love implied.

The idea of Gandalf not being tied to any lands I got from The Silmarillion - Of The Rings Of Power And The Third Age' where it says
Galadriel indeed had wished that Mithrandir should be the head of the council, and Saruman begrudged them that, for his pride and desire of mastery was grown great; but Mithrandir refused the office, since he would have no ties and no allegiance, save to those who sent him, and he would abide in no place nor be subject to any summons.'
A little poetic license.