Chapter Four

Eryn Lasgalen

Northwest of the Elven King's halls

April 30th Year 29 F.A.

The sun hid behind a cloud, but it did not dim the beauty around him. Legolas sighed and leaned back against the tree where he sat. His heart was heavy, but it had been lightened from the darkness that had consumed him when all his kin had left. The short visit from Din and Elfwine had reminded him that he was not truly alone; he had only been lonely. That short visit had pulled him out of the despair he had been in, and he had to admit the loneliness he felt was his own fault.

Legolas closed his eyes, angry with himself for what he had done. Gimli would be furious when he found out — furious…and hurt. Legolas squeezed his eyes tight. He should have sent a message to his friend, at least told him what was happening. He had left a letter to be sent to Aragorn, but the King of Gondor had been in Dol Amroth and would not have received it for several months. Aragorn and Arwen would understand his absence. Arwen especially would understand his pain, though she would also scold him for allowing himself to endure it alone.

Legolas opened his eyes and stared at the grass beneath him. The light wind brushing the blades reminded him of the waves on the sea. He swallowed thickly and pushed the longing back from his thoughts. A large part of him wished he had brought Gimli, yet Legolas wanted to say goodbye to the wood of his birth alone. Painful though it was, it brought a strange sense of peace to his heart. He was supposed to be here…alone.

The sun peaked back out from behind the cloud, shining back down on the forest. Legolas looked at the trees around him. A strange whisper had grown in his mind, and he knew there was some task for him here, some reason that had not yet presented itself. Whatever was drawing him to this part of the wood would not elude him for long.

A flash in the trees had him jumping to his feet, eyes widening. Something or someone was there, moving along the sun dappled forest floor. Legolas moved towards it, curious as to what it could be. As he got closer he could sense it was no animal. But then, as sudden as it had appeared, it was gone.

Legolas searched the area for several minutes, but found nothing. Thinking the light must surely have played tricks on his grieving mind, he turned back towards the empty halls. Whatever purpose he was here for would present itself in time, so long as he did not get distracted by imagined ghosts!

Legolas walked leisurely back the way he had come through the trees, but froze as a scream pierced the air. Turning, he ran back towards the sound, back towards where he had seen the flash of white.

Royal Wing of the Citadel

Minas Tirith, Gondor

April 30th Year 29 F.A.

Gimli marched from his quarters in Minas Tirith, anger emanating from him, sending servants and nobles alike out of his path. Even the guards avoided the irate dwarf, only opening doors to provide him passage where needed. If they had known him, truly known him the way Legolas did, they would have seen through the anger for the front it was…a way to hide his fear. But they did not, and the elf was not here in Gondor.

Gimli had arrived an hour ago, only pausing to leave his things in the room he inhabited when visiting the White City. He had took note that the adjoining room was vacant and had been unused for some time. Dratted elf! Gimli shook his head in frustration as he walked and mumbled to himself. What had that elf done this time? Better yet, where was the confounded creature?

Legolas had not disappeared like this in twenty years. The elf had kept his vow, and the visits between the friends had increased. Truly there were times Gimli tired of Legolas's flightiness. But he would gladly put up with any elvish nonsense just to know his friend was safe, and as free from the torment the sea inflicted as possible. He sighed, knowing there was not much a dwarf could do about the sea longing, but there was something he could do about the elf's absence for most of the last year.

At least, there would be if Gimli could find Legolas!

Two guards scrambled to open the doors to the King's Hall as Gimli stormed through on his way to the King's library. He only stopped once he had reached it, pausing in the doorway as memories from twenty years past assailed him. He closed his eyes against the pain of the words spoken so long ago.

"…I am leaving in the morning, headed for the havens. So I suppose this is...goodbye."

"What do you mean this is goodbye? You can't leave."

"I cannot stay any longer, Gimli. The pain...it is too great. I have struggled against it and I can fight no longer.

My memory has not returned, I feel it will not unless I sail. I am sorry, but I have to go."

"But Legolas, there is still hope. You could still remember. Did your father push you into this?"

"NO…There is no hope. I cannot remember. And my father has done nothing but support me in my anguish.

You would do well to be careful how you speak of him."

"You can't leave, Legolas. Not yet."

"I can and I will. Who are you to stop me?"

"I ask not for myself, Legolas…And I cannot stop you from going. But I beseech you to wait until you have remembered more. I fear once you reach Valinor... and you are healed there and remember...

you will regret deeply. You will remember and the regret will be very bitter, lad.

You should not leave like this. I know you suffer, I know the pain..."

"YOU KNOW NOTHING!...You can NEVER understand the torment I endure! I can remain here no longer! …

And if I regret, then I regret."

"Very well…But hear this, Legolas. When you reach the Undying Lands, and the Valar heal your mind...

when you remember those that you left behind. Do not sorrow over it, lad. Do not regret.

Go with my blessing, be free of your pain. Just remember me Legolas...remember I love you.

And I will never forget you…Goodbye, Legolas. Have a safe journey... And remember."

The memories of the elf standing there expressionless haunted Gimli, and he feared what he would find when he entered the library this time. Had Legolas in a fit of sea longing taken himself to the Havens? Would he do something so daft as to leave without saying goodbye? Taking a deep breath, Gimli stepped into the room and faced the opposing couches where that long ago conversation had taken place. But this time, there was no fair haired elf in this room.

Aragorn sat half sprawled on one of the couches, the book in his hand dropping to his lap as Gimli entered the room, his boots loud on the stone floor. The man looked up, a smile on his face, "It is good to see you again, my friend! What brings you to Minas Tirith?" The smile on the king's face faded and he quickly sobered as Gimli met his gaze. "What troubles you, Gimli?"

Gimli closed his eyes for a moment, shaking off the memories, as well as the premonitions that something had happened to the elf. He opened them again and looked the king straight in the eye. "Where is the elf, Aragorn? Tell me you have seen him, for I have not seen him since early last summer. At the time I thought something troubled him, but I tossed it up to the sea longing instead of pressing him to speak of it. Now, I am not so sure…" His eyes bored into the king's, silently begging for answers he was sure Aragorn did not have.

"Nay, Gimli, I have not seen Legolas since summer last myself, as my duties have taken me south much of this last year. But surely Tathar would let us know if anything was amiss." Aragorn's eyes widened a fraction as understanding dawned on him. "Legolas missed a visit?"

"Nay, he did not," Gimli replied resignedly, sighing. That was the trouble with elves. They were masters of words and twisting them. "When last I saw him, the elf mentioned he was making a trip to Eryn Lasgalen at summer's end, and that he would contact me when he returned. That was ten months ago! Nothing! Not a message, letter, nothing!" Gimli emphasized his words dramatically with one fist slamming down into the palm of his other hand.

Aragorn frowned, his eyes moving to the window behind Gimli. "Surely he is just making an extended visit to his family, Gimli. Legolas often makes a long trip home every few years…" Aragorn paused as Gimli began to shake his head.

Gimli knew the man was realizing that the elf always took Gimli with him on those long trips. Always. They planned their visits to family to coincide so that they might enjoy each other's company during the trip, before separating near Erebor. The fact the elf had not invited him along suggested a short trip, not an extended visit.

Gimli's agitation was increasing. If Aragorn had not seen Legolas either or heard anything as well, he did not want to consider what their friend had gotten himself into this time. "Send a message to Tathar, Aragorn. If Legolas is there, I will personally kill him! If not…" He trailed off not wanting to consider what could have happened to his friend.

Aragorn stared at him a moment, silent concern filling his blue-gray eyes. "Yes. I shall indeed send a message to Tathar. Have no fear, Gimli, we will find him, and when we do, I will hold him myself so that you can knock some sense into him for his foolishness!"

Gimli's lips pursed and he nodded. In a couple of days, he would have some answers. At least he hoped he would. With that elf, one never knew.

FOOTNOTES

Aglarond (Ah-glah-rond) is the Sindarin name for the Glittering Caves, the vast caverns in the mountains behind Helm's Deep that were given to Gimli's rule by Eomer.

Tathar (tah thar) is Legolas' second in command and lifelong friend. Name means 'willow'.

A/N - centered quotes in italics are words spoken long ago by Legolas & Gimli and come from the story Never Again. In this case Gimli is remembering their conversation in the library twenty years prior.