I can't decide if it's a choice
Getting swept away
I hear the sound of my own voice
Asking you to stay
And all we are is skin and bone trained to get along
Forever going with the flow but you're friction
This slope is treacherous
This path is reckless
This slope is Treacherous
And I like it
- 'Treacherous', Taylor Swift
16 March 3019
The way to the king's court room was long, I was still too weak and tired to move quickly but Legolas, ever patient, kept one reassuring hand to my waist, and the other held my hand, helping my the whole way.
As we entered the great chamber, it struck me how… much more peaceful it seemed there. I could not help the soft smile that passed across my face.
"How do you feel?" Legolas whispered, as we crossed toward the gathered group.
I placed a comforting hand to his cheek. "I am fine, meleth, do not worry." I am fine, my love, do not worry.
I looked around, as Aragorn strode over and embraced me fondly. I hugged him back with a firmer smile.
"Estel, you look well," I greeted.
"Thank you, Ríel, for everything," Aragorn said quietly as we joined the group.
"Don't," I replied softly with another smile, placing a hand on his arm.
"Ríel!" Gimli roared from the throne. "You look surprisingly well considering ya had a spear through ya chest!" He gave a deep hearty laugh, and a little wink.
I gave a weak laugh. "Thank you Gimli!"
"While we are all deeply grateful to the Lady Arnuríel for what she sacrificed for this city," Gandalf said suddenly and seriously, "and thankful that she survived at all-"
"A pure miracle," Legolas murmured with a fond squeeze of my side.
Gandalf nodded. "But we have more important things to discuss here. Frodo has passed beyond my sight. The darkness is deepening."
"If Sauron had the ring, we would know it," Aragorn told him.
"It's only a matter of time," Gandalf replied. "He has suffered a defeat, yes, but behind the walls of Mordor our enemy is regrouping."
"Let him stay there," Gimli growled. "Let him rot! Why should we care?"
"Because 10,000 orcs now stand between Frodo and Mount Doom," Gandalf retorted sharply. "I've sent him to his death…"
"Mithrandir…" I murmured softly. It was not Gandalf's fault in the slightest.
"No, there is still hope for Frodo," Aragorn agreed. "He needs time and safe passage across the plains of Gorgoroth. We can give him that."
"How?" Gimli asked.
"Draw out Sauron's armies," Aragorn explained. "Empty his lands. Then we gather our full strength and march on the Black Gate."
Gimli promptly choked on his pipe, while Eomer shook his head. "We cannot achieve victory through strength of arms."
"Not for ourselves," Aragorn told him. "But we can give Frodo his chance if we keep Sauron's eye fixed upon us. Keep him blind to all else that moves."
"A diversion," Legolas added.
"Certainty of death…" Gimli mused. "Small chance of success… What are we waiting for?"
But Gandalf shook his head. "Sauron will suspect a trap. He will not take the bait."
A gleaming small smile crossed Aragorn's features and I cocked my head slightly. "Oh I think, he will."
"Did you truly believe I would allow you to come?" Legolas' serious question was laced with bemused smiles.
We had retired to his chamber, and he had insisted I rest at the window seat while he prepared himself for battle. I had curled up in the seat sadly. He had expressly forbidden me to come with them to the Black Gates.
"No, I guess not," I replied softly, wrapping the blanket closer. "But I hoped."
"Arnuríel," Legolas said, coming over to me, and sitting opposite me. "I have never kept you from a fight. I know how strong a warrior you are, and you know how deeply I respect you. And in that strength, you know the realistic prospects behind a battle. You took a spear to the chest as well as sacrificing all your strength to this city. If you go to the Black Gate, I have too great a fear you will not return and I will not see that happen."
"But-" I began to protest but Legolas softly placed a finger to my lips as he stood up to pick up his knives.
"No," he replied. "Do not ask me to watch you die out there, I refuse to do it-"
"Legolas," I said seriously, standing and crossing to where he stood. I pulled his cloak a little tighter and refastened it. "You remember the battle at Helm's Deep? I came there not only so that Rohan would not fall, but because I could not bear to leave you to fight alone. I know that my going to the Black Gate would most likely be my end. But I believed my end would be yesterday. I'm having time with you I never thought I'd get. And now to see you march off to a final war, where the prospect of success for Gondor is small? I can't bear to think of watching you march while I have to remain here waiting for news of your return."
Legolas swallowed, before he leant down and kissed me gently. "I understand. But-"
"I will not come," I assured him. "As you wish, I will stay here, and I will wait. Just try to come home to me, please."
Legolas took my hands from his throat and held them clasped tightly within his, leaning his forehead against mine. "My love, I will always come home to you, I promise you that."
I nodded, not wholly convinced but he and I both new that that was impossible; he was going to war. There was never a certainty of survival in war. But, as Legolas pulled me close and held me tightly, tears pricked my eyes and I knew I had never felt so desperate for that certainty.
I truly never had felt so left behind, as I stood at my window of the Healing House. Faramir and Eowyn stood in the gardens below my window, Eowyn's head leaning against Faramir's chest. There was still some love in the world...
Ioreth had refused to allow me to go down with the rest of the Gondorians to see off Aragorn and his last forces, so I had said my farewells to Aragorn, to Gimli, to Eomer… to Gandalf, the hobbits. To Legolas.
And now I felt truly abandoned. I rarely watched forces go to war, without being among them or at their head. I was left behind by my friends, and I was left behind by Legolas. At the head of the column, I suddenly saw him, so far away, turn his head back to look at me. I gave him the softest smile and the lightest nod, and whispered. I knew he would not here me but he knew it anyway. "Amin mela lle." I love you.
Elendil, bring him home…