Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, but this story itself and its predecessor are all mine. The Sea Bell is by J.R.R Tolkien and The Walrus and the Carpenter is by Carol Lewis.
Summary: Legolas and Haerelion have reached the shores of the Valinor and Legolas' heart is once more at peace. That is, until he realises how much more Haerelion has always had control over his happiness and the contentment of his heart than the seas and tides ever did, and it is not the seas he cannot live without. Sadly, the solution has been in front of him the entire time; Legolas just hopes it's not too late to make amends now.
Inspiration(to continue into a sequel): You Belong to Me originally performed by the Duprees, I believe. The version I listened to was by Katie Rusby. The idea rather morphed into something very different from there, though. This sequel is for all those who thought Legolas was selfish in bringing Haerelion over to the Undying Lands so soon after his majority, basically bringing Haerelion to his death. Hopefully you'll find some solace in Legolas getting a bit of his own medicine in return.
Note: Here is the standard note where I tell you that this is a sequel to another story (The Pull of Heart and Tide) and that you don't necessarily have to read that story to understand the machinations of this one, but it might help. For those of you who were looking for an epilogue to The Pull of Heart and Tide, as well as those who wanted some questions answered, well, here it is...sort of.
And finally, a thank you to Dragonb8for chapterising this for me. She's just amazing and I selfishly hide her away all to myself. No, you can't have her.
The Turning of the Tide
Dannen na Duinen
The sun had just broken over the water's edge in the distance and the whole sea, calm and smooth as a sheet of glass, began to light up, sparkling, in the rays of the newly risen sun.
Legolas had woken only an hour prior and was sprawled out on the ship's deck, one hand behind his head, and the other combing through Haerelion's hair soothingly as he sang sweet lullabies to the younger elf, who was still asleep.
Then I saw a boat silently float
On the night-tide, empty and grey.
'It is later than late! Why do we wait?'
I leapt in and cried: 'Bear me away!'
It bore me away, wetted with spray,
wrapped in a mist, wound in a sleep,
to a forgotten strand in a strange land.
In the twilight beyond the deep
Legolas' breath held before the next note as Haerelion began to stir in his hold, his eyes coming into focus and turning languidly towards Legolas with a sleepy smile still on his face.
"Good morning, my love," Legolas greeted with an answering beaming grin of his own. "Sleep well?"
"With the constant rocking of the boat, the creaking of the wood, the splashing of the waves, and you beside me?" Haerelion cocked his head with a teasing smirk. "How could I not?" Legolas released him from his hold as Haerelion rolled over and began to stretch, stirring his muscles and bones, and encouraging more blood to start pumping through his body and into his brain.
They had spent the past several months on their beautiful red cedar ship, sailing across the Belegaer; their destination, the Valinor, also known as, the Undying Lands. It had started with Legolas hearing the cry of the gulls at the white shores of Pelargir and awakening the sea longing in his blood; a trait of the Sindar, the grey elves that had not finished the journey across the sea to their home. Legolas had been content with his life on Middle Earth and had planned to forever rest in his home of Greenwood along with the wood elves he and his father watched over.
But it was not to be.
His time as one of the Nine Walkers had changed that, changed him irreparably, and he had since felt powerless against the longing in his heart, that strong affinity in his blood to cross the great seas and finish the journey of his ancestors.
Some things were easier said than done, however, as Legolas' father refused to let him go, as any parent would desire. It had all come down to Haerelion, though, an elven child that had shown up mysteriously by way of the eagles one day, needing protection, needing a home. Legolas had vowed to stay for him, to see Haerelion grow to majority. But along the way, watching Haerelion grow from a child to a mature adult, they had fallen in love.
Legolas was luckier than words could express that Haerelion had pledged to never leave his side, to follow him to the ends of Arda, even if it meant leaving Middle Earth centuries before his time.
"I am so very lucky to have your love," Legolas mused as he moved to lean his back against the bow of the ship, crossing his hands over his knees and looking up at Haerelion, who was at the gunnel, breathing in the morning air and looking out into the endless waves of nothing but sea and sky. Legolas wondered whether Haerelion had heard him or if he was in a world of his own at the moment.
"Yes, you are," finally Haerelion answered playfully, turning from his post to push his weight back against his hands behind him and regard Legolas with a semi-serious gaze, a small, contemplative frown forming on his face. "But I am very lucky as well. Don't forget that," he intoned as the smile returned.
Legolas stood up to join Haerelion, checking the sails and gauging the wind for the day, when he heard a soft gasp of surprise. Haerelion's gaze was fixed firmly towards the bow, his jaw slowly dropping in wonder. Before Legolas could ask, Haerelion whispered, "We're here."
Whipping his neck around to follow his husband's gaze, Legolas' breath caught in his throat as he saw, out in the far distance, for the first time in months...land.
"And at last I came to a long shore. White it glimmered, and the sea simmered," Legolas breathed out in wonder, a smile of excitement and pure joy blooming on his face as he saw their journey finally coming to an end.
They had arrived.
Legolas sat back in his seat and let out a slow, silent sigh as his eyes slid out of focus from the book in his lap, his mind too preoccupied with the empty space at his side to concentrate on the words he was trying to read. Finally giving in to the frown fighting for dominance on his face, Legolas closed his book and pushed it away, sliding it across the desk in front of him. Then standing up he began restlessly pacing the length of the sitting room in his and Haerelion's talan.
It had been about a year since he and Haerelion had landed on the shores of the Bay of Eldamar to a warm welcoming committee of Frodo, Bilbo, Gandalf, Lord Elrond, and Lady Galadriel, among other elves who came to receive the beloved Princes of Greenwood. Though, to be honest, Haerelion's presence was rather a shocking surprise for all but three in the group, as most had been unaware of Haerelion's existence, let alone his place in Legolas' heart.
Legolas had received a few admonishments from the inhabitants of Valinor for bringing an elf so young to these shores, even after the fact of Legolas sharing his story and curse of hearing the gulls' cry. Surprisingly enough, it had been Haerelion who had had the final say, putting an end to all arguments and dark looks by stating with a resounding finality that though he had not had a choice in loving Legolas – not that he would change that given the option – it had been his decision to not leave Legolas' side to come here rather than let him go and wait to follow him hundreds of years later.
That had made Legolas smile to hear those words with such conviction come from his love's mouth, chiding in return all the naysayers who had been set on broadcasting Legolas' scandalous affair and forceful insistence of bringing a mere child to the Undying Lands. Even elves could be horrid gossipers, and with little else of interest going on in the lands of the Valinor, Legolas supposed he couldn't entirely blame them, not feeling completely innocent of their charges as it was. Haerelion, however, had no problem doing just that and letting everyone know when they needed to back off and leave well enough alone.
What was done was done and Haerelion certainly harboured no regrets over it.
And with Haerelion happy and ready to take on all the inhabitants of the Valinor, and the Valar as well, for Legolas' sake, Legolas couldn't help but decide to live happily with Haerelion and let all else just be, now that the weight of the curse was freed from his soul and heart. Everything Legolas was belonged completely to Haerelion, just as it had been from the very beginning. And he knew, though he wondered if he would ever get a similar chance to prove it, that he would make the same promise in turn - to follow Haerelion wherever he chose to go, because Legolas could not be parted from his side. In fact, if he could have it his way, Legolas would never be out of Haerelion's company.
Only, now Haerelion was leaving his side in order to explore the Valinor with Gandalf, while Legolas was stuck at home, always waiting for his return.
Haerelion's magical apprenticeship with Gandalf had been a possibility they had both been aware of, that Haerelion had been excited for, and Legolas had encouraged him in, knowing it had been a secondary reason for Haerelion following Legolas here. Haerelion had wanted to meet the old Istar, possibly learn more about his past, and more importantly, learn more magic.
And therein lay the current source of Legolas' pacing.
Legolas could still remember the first words Gandalf had spoken to them, to Haerelion really, the moment they had disembarked from their ship and Legolas had brought Haerelion up to introduce his love to the old wizard.
"The sea was wet as wet could be, the sands were dry as dry. You could not see a cloud, because no cloud was in the sky: No birds were flying overhead –there were no birds to fly," the White Wizard finished with a wide smile that crinkled the wrinkled skin around his grey eyes until they were mere slits in his face, buried beneath his large, bushy eyebrows that had not changed from the last time Legolas had seen him.
Haerelion's face had immediately lit up upon hearing Gandalf's odd, yet interesting greeting and before Legolas had even opened his mouth to begin introductions, Haerelion was already responding in kind.
"The Walrus and the Carpenter were walking close at hand; they wept like anything to see such quantities of sand: 'If this were only cleared away,' they said, 'it would be grand!'"
Gandalf had thusly answered with a booming chuckle before finishing with, "'If seven maids with seven mops swept it for half a year. Do you suppose,' the Walrus said, 'That they could get it clear?'"
Haerelion quickly picked up, "'I doubt it,' said the Carpenter, and shed a bitter tear." Then, with a wide smile to match Gandalf's Haerelion swept forward into a bow with a hand over his heart and said, "A star shines brightly on the hour of our meeting at last, and I pray it never dulls."
Shaking his head resolutely, Gandalf said, "And we shall not give it the chance to, my dear Haerelion, for our meeting has been foreseen, and I believe you are in need of a teacher, if I am not mistaken," he added, with a twinkle in his eye, pausing for a moment as he watched the shock, awe, and then open, blinding smile flash quickly across Haerelion's face.
"You-you'll teach me more magic?" Haerelion cried excitedly, and Legolas could practically hear his lover's heart pounding in his throat as he spoke. Haerelion's eyes were shining in pure elation as he looked up hopefully at Gandalf, with only a hint of fear in his face as though waiting for Gandalf to revoke the offer of apprenticeship. But Gandalf merely nodded kindly.
And that was where it had all begun, Legolas mused in retrospect. If he had only known what Haerelion was signing himself away to at the time, perhaps he would have voiced a word of protest. But at the same time, he knew that he would never do such a thing to jeopardise Haerelion's happiness, and learning magic and scouring the lands of the Valinor certainly made him happy.
Gandalf had given them a good several months to settle in, wherein Legolas and Haerelion had chosen the perfect place on the edge of the Woods of Oromë for their talan and had done all that they could to make it into a home.
Though it had been such a short time, Legolas – and he suspected Haerelion too – felt like before this, the closest thing they'd had to a real home since leaving Greenwood was on the deck of their ship. The world had narrowed down to just him and Haerelion, and nothing else but the salty air and mercurial waves existed in that world. It was like they had been in a blissful state of limbo, out of time and care and notice; a second honeymoon for the couple, it had seemed. And though Legolas was glad to have finally reached the Undying Lands and fulfilled the prophecy set upon him, there were many a time he wished he were back riding those waves with Haerelion at his side and only a few square inches to call their own.
On the ship Haerelion could not run from him. Not that that was what Haerelion had done when Gandalf had come to their door all those months ago, starting Haerelion's apprenticeship and whisking the young elf away to explore the Undying Lands in ways only one with the ability to control magic could. But it sure felt that way to Legolas.
Legolas was abruptly startled out of his recollections as he heard the sound of light footfalls climbing up the tree from below. It had been a good week since Haerelion had left on his latest venture, Gandalf having promised to take him to the Pastures of Yavanna to learn more about the magic of growing things; fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers, trees, and even a bit of the healing involved in helping things grow as well. That was all Legolas had been told before Haerelion had packed his things in a small pack and left without once looking back.
But now he was home.
Legolas let loose a sigh of relief and turned to watch the door for that familiar head of black hair to emerge.
"Legolas," Haerelion called excitedly, just as he was about to reach the top, "Im bâr!" (I'm home)
"Cormamin lindua ele lle," Legolas cried, standing happily as he waited for Haerelion to fully enter their home. He did not think his heart could grow any bigger or beat any faster than when he saw Haerelion's face appear in the doorway and his eyes light up in greeting, momentarily overcoming the exhaustion written in the faint lines around his eyes and mouth. But before Legolas could go over and sweep Haerelion into his arms and ask what was wrong, what had happened, and what caused him to look so dead on his feet, Haerelion had pushed himself fully into the talan and turned his back to Legolas to remove his boots. Legolas stopped short and his gaze fell on the worn pack slung across Haerelion's shoulder, and then to the plaits in his dark hair that tumbled a little loosely down his head. (My heart sings to see thee)
He looked an utter wreck.
Haerelion didn't even spare Legolas a glance as he unloaded his bag and swung his bare feet inside. Running a hand through his hair and dishevelling it even further, Haerelion twisted his torso from side to side, cracking his back slightly as well his neck before jumping to his feet and walking over to greet Legolas.
"Aduial maer, mellnin," Haerelion said softly as he placed a quick peck on Legolas' lips, but before Legolas could even properly respond, Haerelion was moving again and heading into the kitchen area. (Good evening, my dear)
Legolas stood staring into nothing for several seconds, fighting against the hurt and shock that pulled at him from Haerelion's casual, careless greeting, as though he had only been gone for a few hours and not an entire week out of Legolas' company. Like he did not know what melancholy his absence had subjected upon Legolas.
Seconds later, Legolas could hear the sound of cupboards opening and closing and then Haerelion called back to him, "Have you eaten yet?"
Blankly, Legolas looked out the window to see that it had indeed fallen dark since he'd begun his ruminations earlier in the day about Haerelion moving further and further away from his side. "No," he answered in a voice slightly above a whisper, "I have not." Legolas looked flatly around the room and then moved to follow Haerelion into the kitchen, intent on receiving his proper, and well deserved, welcome.
Just as he was about to cross the threshold, Haerelion stuck his head out the doorway and stopped short in surprise at coming face to face with Legolas.
"Man-" Haerelion's question was cut short as Legolas covered his husband's lips with his own and took him fully into his arms, pressing their bodies together fervently and kissing Haerelion with all the passion and ardour he was feeling. All the longing and emptiness he had felt at Haerelion's absence went in to that kiss and Legolas was cheered when it was returned with equal fervour. (Wha-)
Unfortunately, it ended all too soon for Legolas' liking; Haerelion broke the kiss and bussed Legolas' forehead before moving out from under his arms. Legolas, however, was reluctant to let go and reached out to catch his husband's wrist, an arrested look flashing on his face for a moment as he felt Haerelion pulling away.
Halting in his regression and looking back, Haerelion tilted his head up and regarded Legolas oddly. "Are you okay, love?" he asked softly.
Legolas opened his mouth and froze. Smoothly sealing his lips together once more, Legolas smiled somewhat sadly and shook his head. "I've just missed you. That's all," he said with a shrug.
Haerelion smiled sweetly and reached up to plant another chaste kiss on Legolas' nose. "You're sweet. I missed you too." Slipping his wrist from Legolas' grasp, Haerelion stood back at arm's lengths and wrapped his hands around Legolas' biceps and squeezed gently. "You sure that's all? You're being awfully quiet."
Legolas inwardly sighed and nodded again. "I'm sure."
Tenderly pushing Legolas backwards, Haerelion guided Legolas towards the seat he had been occupying earlier and Legolas compliantly let himself be led, falling back into the softened wood, all the while not separating his gaze from his husband's. Haerelion stood over him, placing his legs on either side of the chair, and leant his weight against its spindly arms. Cocking his head, he peered down into Legolas' face solicitously. It seemed so wrong that Haerelion was the one worried about Legolas, when it was clear that Haerelion had had the more trying day – more trying week, even – yet Legolas said nothing for the moment, just basking in his love's attentions. He did not need to distress Haerelion with his complaints when it was clear that the younger elf had enough troubles occupying his mind already with all that Gandalf's apprenticeship entailed. Legolas did not wish to add to the exhaustion and concerns weighing Haerelion down.
Finally, Haerelion murmured a familiar question, one which Legolas had come to miss in his husband's prolonged absences, "Where are your thoughts tonight?"
Hearing the words Legolas had come to rely on as a morning greeting of sorts, the older elf smiled appreciatively and intensified his gaze, searching for something in Haerelion's eyes that he knew must be amiss. He wondered when he had lost his husband's attention, his continuous devotion that had been an ever-reliable constant in Legolas' life. How was this distance not hurting Haerelion just as much as it was hurting him?
Reaching up, Legolas ran the back of his hand along the side of Haerelion's cheek and smiled at Haerelion's ardent stare, basking in the notice Haerelion was at least currently bestowing upon him. "Just with you," he finally replied softly.
Haerelion smiled and took a seat on the edge of the desk. "Then why do you seem so serious? I'm home now," he stated affably.
Legolas reached up to snag Haerelion's waist once more, but Haerelion stood swiftly beforehand, unknowingly missing Legolas' grasp, and bowed his head to lay a quick kiss on Legolas' crown before making his way back into the kitchen.
"Come, I'll make us dinner. What would you like?" Before Legolas could even think about any kind of food in answer, Haerelion smacked his head and exclaimed, "Ah, how could I have forgotten? Yavanna gave me some fruits and vegetables from her personal garden. We should cook them up; could you hand me my pack?"
Legolas moved to stand up when Haerelion interrupted his movements again. "Wait, never mind. Don't get up, I've got it." Seconds later, Haerelion's pack was flying across the room and into Haerelion's waiting hands. "Sit tight and I'll have dinner ready in a second."
Legolas slumped back down in his seat and let out another long, disappointed sigh as he watched Haerelion's back heading into the kitchen and he once more waited for his love's return.
Later that night, Legolas lay in bed waiting for Haerelion to join him as his husband unpacked his things and performed his nightly ablutions. Legolas had not been able to sleep well all week, for most of this year, in fact, but he would not say anything, instead choosing to concentrate on the fact that Haerelion was here with him now. And when he had the good fortune of having the slighter elf in his arms once more, Legolas slept like the sweetest of babies and woke with a refreshing energy that nothing but Haerelion's presence could match.
"Did you like dinner?" Haerelion called over his shoulder as he pulled off his shirt and threw it in the corner.
"It was delicious," Legolas repeated for the fifth time that night with a sigh, "Will you come to bed now?"
"In a second," Haerelion reached into the closet and rummaged around.
Legolas observed him moving about, settling in, and both dreaded and felt compelled to ask, "You are putting your travelling gear away, does that mean you'll be staying home for awhile?" He held his breath as soon as the words were out of his mouth, praying to the very gods Haerelion had been steadily visiting with Gandalf these past few months that the answer would be positive.
Legolas breathed a sigh of relief and a relaxed smile softened his face. Now perhaps the two of them could visit the wonders of this land together for pure enjoyment and to spend time with one another, not for the sake of learning magic or because Haerelion needed to. Legolas would love to see Yavanna's Pastures for himself, meet with the goddess, and hear from Haerelion all that he had learned. He was not used to being away from his love for so long, not since Haerelion was a mere babe and would come crawling into Legolas' arms whenever the tall, blond-haired elf was in his sights. They had been inseparable for so long, even when they were fighting, or not on speaking terms they still stayed close to the other's side. So it should be no surprise that this separation was causing Legolas great pains, yet what hurt even more was that Haerelion did not seem to notice it in the least.
True, he appeared much more haggard than normal; exhausted, worn out, and frequently a step away from dropping where he stood and sleeping for a good month. Legolas would have to be blind not to notice, but he also knew the solution to Haerelion's distresses. To Legolas' eyes, Haerelion needed to take a step back from his work with Gandalf, lighten the stress that worried his face and burdened his shoulders so, and allow Legolas to care for him for a spell in the comfort of their home. But he also knew that Haerelion had no wish to hear of such input, that he would work himself to the bone to find the answers he sought and learn more magic, and nothing Legolas could say would change that. His stubbornness was something that both endeared and frustrated Legolas to no end, but it was what made Haerelion the elf he was, the elf Legolas loved.
"Gandalf has some things he wants to show me that he says we can stay near home for. I'm meeting him again tomorrow morning in the mountains just outside the Bay. But I'll be home before dinner tomorrow night," Haerelion stuck his head out of the closet to grin reassuringly at Legolas and then immediately went back to what he was doing before he could see the disappointment fall back onto Legolas' countenance. It was a disappointment Legolas was most familiar with and good at hiding as well.
Legolas quickly rearranged his expression with practised ease into something neutral as Haerelion finally emerged, finished with what he was doing, and came to bed. Immediately, reaching over to wrap his arms around Haerelion's waist and mould his body into Haerelion's, Legolas held fast to his husband until not even all the forces of the Valar combined could tear them apart.
Haerelion curled one hand around Legolas' arm and entwined the fingers of his other hand with those of Legolas', and then reached back to share a languid kiss with his partner. Legolas responded whole-heartedly, and perhaps a bit desperately as well, overjoyed that he had his love in his arms once more, but if Haerelion noticed, he didn't comment.
"I have missed you," Haerelion whispered as the kiss broke and Haerelion laid his brow against Legolas', staring into his eyes and truly looking at him for the first time since his return that evening. And Legolas felt all his worries, doubts, and sorrows being laid bare in that moment, completely unable to hide them. Haerelion frowned and pressed his forehead deeper into Legolas'. Bringing a hand up, he caressed the side of Legolas' face and Legolas could feel the regret and distress pouring out of him as Haerelion in turn read Legolas' emotions with ease.
"I'm sorry I have not been home with you very much lately," Haerelion sighed and dropped his eyes away from Legolas', "but you know how important this is to me. I must find out, I have to know...," Haerelion closed his eyes and squeezed them shut tight, "I feel like I am so close to finding out where I came from, who my parents were, why I can do magic, and why I am so...so... different. And yet the answers still seem so far away and out of my reach." Haerelion squeezed Legolas' hand, still in his hold, and Legolas remained silent as he listened compassionately, wishing he had something to say to ease Haerelion's mind and make it all better. But he had no answers for the younger elf at the moment, none the wiser than when Haerelion had first shown him his extraordinary talent all those years ago at the tender age of six.
"I am eager to learn more," Haerelion continued after a moment with a fascinated, yet almost desperate plea in his voice, "I cannot get enough of uncovering more about my magic, which is growing stronger every day, and discovering all the things I can do. I feel the need to learn more, it calls to me so strongly - like the Sea once called to you. I need to know how my magic is different from Gandalf's. That has to tell me why and where I came from; tell me what I am."
Haerelion opened his eyes and gazed imploringly at Legolas. "I know I have been away a lot, and I do not like to see you so lonely and sad, but –" he stopped himself and turned his head away to gaze at the far wall. "This is so very important to me. I cannot – I just," Haerelion gave up with a sigh and collapsed deeper into Legolas' embrace.
Legolas could only hold him as he'd always done and show Haerelion that even if so much of his past was still left unknown, that he would always be loved no matter what, and that Legolas would always be there for him. All the more reason, Legolas thought, he should be there for Haerelion as he continued to study under Gandalf's tutelage and search for clues about his past that would bring him the answers he so desperately sought in finding out who he was. Haerelion needed him just as much as Legolas needed Haerelion; didn't he?
"Haerelion," Legolas' warm breath puffed over the top strands of Haerelion's crown, his lips brushing against the small plaits keeping the hair out of Haerelion's eyes. "I understand why you need to do this, and I want nothing more than for you to find exactly what you are looking for. I know you will not truly be at peace until you do. But please allow me to be there for you and help you where I can."
Haerelion made a sound as he opened his mouth in what Legolas was sure would be a cry of protest, but Legolas silenced him by pulling Haerelion tighter in his hold and shushing him softly like he would a small child. "Please listen, melanin. You never wavered by my side as I heeded the call of the Sea, following me to the Undying Lands though it was well before your time to do so. You stayed with me and promised to go wherever I would take you. But now it is your turn, mela en' coiamin; I vow to stay by your side as you heed the call of your magic and embrace the mysteries of your past...if you will let me."(My love; Love of my life)
Haerelion lay silent in his hold for a while, and was as still as a tree frozen in the dead of winter. Legolas could not feel much from him, almost as though he were supressing his emotions somehow, but Legolas did not know why, or how he could do so with such efficiency, and it worried him.
Looking beyond into the night sky outside their bedroom window, where the moon hung high among the stars, shining its white light over the wood of the floor and walls, making their surroundings seem so pale and wan, Legolas waited. He wondered, as he cast his eyes nervously about, whether Haerelion did not need him anymore, whether his husband did not seek his company as avidly for the reason that Haerelion no longer saw Legolas as the answer to all his problems as he once had. What had he done to make Haerelion lose trust in him like this? And could it be undone or repaired somehow so that Haerelion's heart could be at peace once more?
"You wish to come with me in my travels?" Haerelion finally spoke softly into the night, half of his mouth pressed into the pillow, muffling his words slightly.
Legolas blinked in surprise at his own ignorance. Without fully realising it, that was exactly what he wished for, exactly what he had asked for. Why had he never thought of it before? Instead of bemoaning Haerelion's absence from his side, why had he not just picked up and followed him down like Haerelion had once done for him?
Pausing for breath, Haerelion ploughed through, oblivious to Legolas' sudden epiphany. "Much of the time it is just Gandalf showing me a spell of some sort or other and trying to find ways to coach me until I can perform the same magic as well in my own way. It is rather tedious and frustrating, and my results are not always the same as his, but we still have not been able to figure out why or how." Haerelion released a breath as his ramblings trailed off with a shake of his head. "There is really little you would be able to do other than sit and watch, and I suppose I just assumed that you would rather find more entertainment speaking with the elves nearby or even just walking amongst the trees here or along the shore. I did not wish to bore you with it all."
Legolas was gobsmacked. Haerelion had not wished to bore him? This was his life, his past, his identity, just as intrinsically as Legolas was part of his childhood, his present, and his future. How could he possibly think that being part of the process of Haerelion growing as a magic user and a confident, young adult would bore him? Truthfully, Legolas wanted to be angry and insulted at the subtle rejection. Haerelion had put aside everything, given up his future and changed his plans all for Legolas so they would not have to be parted when Legolas gave into the longing to join his ancestors in the Undying Lands. How could Haerelion not think that Legolas would do the same thing for his love, given the opportunity?
But he hadn't done the same given the opportunity this past year, hadn't even thought to do the same until the solution was literally placed in front of his eyes, right under his very nose, Haerelion laying it out for him in words as plain as day.
So instead of anger, he just felt incredibly depressed, ashamed in himself, and at a loss for what to say in response to make amends for failing Haerelion so spectacularly when he needed Legolas the most.
Finally, after an eternity had passed, or so it seemed, Legolas whispered bewilderedly, "How could you even think that? I could never be bored by anything you do."
He waited several seconds for Haerelion to respond, but upon hearing the steady breathing of his companion, he leant over to see the glazed look in Haerelion's eyes and knew that he had fallen asleep. Knowing how tired he was, Legolas was reluctant to wake him and instead fell back on his pillow and tried to follow Haerelion into slumber.
He lay awake most of the night.
Legolas eventually fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning, which would explain why he missed Haerelion's departure shortly after dawn to meet Gandalf for the day. The talan still smelt of freshly cooked eggs and herbs from Haerelion's breakfast, so Legolas knew he could not have been gone for long.
Sitting up in bed, he wondered what he should do. How had he not known how Haerelion felt? He had raised him from six months old, led him on adventures through the spider-infested lands of lower Mirkwood, to the Glittering Caves of Aglarond, the hobbit holes of the Shire, and even to the Bay of Anfalas. There was nothing the two had not shared with each other, nothing that they would not do for one another. Haerelion had shown that better than Legolas thought possible when he accompanied Legolas here, and Legolas had always known that he would do the same for Haerelion. And yet somehow Haerelion did not know that axiomatic truth, neither had Legolas proven that he would do the same when it came down to it, and he didn't understand why. How could they both have been so blind and foolish?
Legolas knew Haerelion to be selfless and caring to a fault, always thinking of others before himself, putting others happiness before his own. Now more than ever, Legolas felt guilty for manipulating that trait when his own desire to cross the sea had become too strong. He should have fought it for Haerelion and kept them in Middle Earth for even a century longer. Maybe then Haerelion would not be questioning Legolas' devotion to him and support in any goals he wanted to pursue.
Feelings of selfishness and guilt kept Legolas in bed for far longer than normal as he turned the problem over and over in his mind with little success.
If there was anything Legolas knew best about Haerelion, it was that actions always spoke louder than words for the black haired elf. Haerelion wasn't always the most eloquent, but he acted where it counted and it could never be said that Haerelion was not loyal and devoted to his friends and loved ones. And yet he never expected the same from others in return.
It did not help that Legolas had so far failed him in showing Haerelion how wrong he was to think so.
Legolas knew he needed to prove to Haerelion that he was just as deserving of the loyalty and devotion he gave so readily to others. And it was Legolas' responsibility to do that, there was no question about it. He needed to act - and act fast before it became too late and they truly started growing apart.
With a plan formulating in his head, Legolas finally got up and began to dress for the day. He had somewhere to be.
It was a long hike that took him most of the day, but Legolas grinned when he finally caught up with the two wizards on the edge of the Eastern Pelóri Mountains, just entering into the realms of Avathar. Legolas could hear the waves crashing ashore in the distance, but they were still hidden from his sight by the rocky hills and trees of the mountain range. That was not the only thing he could hear, however.
"Better, Haerelion, much better. But try to get more depth and breadth next time, don't just take from one source, it's all around you!" Gandalf's gruff, slightly impatient voice reached Legolas' ears before he passed the last few trees to finally see them.
'Yallume,' he silently sighed, delighted to have finally arrived. (At last)
Climbing swiftly and soundlessly up a nearby tree without catching the attention of the others, who were very much focused on the task at hand, Legolas leant out on a branch and looked down upon a small clearing below with only a few boulders and young saplings dispersed throughout. In the relative centre stood Haerelion, deep in concentration, staring at the ground around him, which looked oddly wet to Legolas' eyes.
"Find your centre. Don't start until you've found your centre and feel the element calling within you," Gandalf urged softly from off to the side, sitting on a rock with his staff in hand and watching Haerelion intently.
Legolas froze where he perched, just out of sight of the other two, and turned his gaze to Haerelion as well, and then waited, watching, anticipating.
Suddenly, Haerelion lifted his arms in a great, sweeping motion and with the gesture came a burst of water up from the very ground!
"Yallume," Haerelion cried as he looked wide-eyed at his accomplishment, unknowingly repeating Legolas' own sentiment from earlier. With his arms still outstretched, he began directing the water to form a whirlpool, reaching up to the tops of the surrounding trees.
"Ed' i'ear ar' elenea!" Legolas breathed out, just below the rushing sound of the water, his jaw dropping as his relief and anxiety at finally finding Haerelion quickly turned to shock and awe at the powers Haerelion was wielding so expertly before him. (By the sea and stars)
Legolas had never seen Haerelion do something quite so impressive before. It was a far cry from the simple manipulations of tree nuts and transfiguring shells into water that Legolas had been impressed by in the past. Apparently Gandalf had been working Legolas' love hard and the results certainly spoke for themselves. Though so did the stress lines creasing beneath Haerelion's eyes and around his mouth, becoming quite prominent in Haerelion's features, much to Legolas' dismay.
Frowning, Legolas bit the inside of his lip, realising that weightiness of his task in relieving the burden performing such great feats of magic put on Haerelion.
How had he become so blind and senseless, Legolas lamented silently to himself once more? This was truly a travesty; how had Haerelion not even said a word of Legolas' grave transgression and neglect before? How had he stayed so silent and allowed Legolas to believe that he was the one being slighted?
Legolas was truly disgusted with himself. At the same time, though, the elder elf couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of pride at the incredible display of magic Haerelion had just performed and the skill with which he was commanding the water into giant shapes of creatures and other things Legolas could not name. A painful heaviness settled in his stomach at the same time as a spirited lightness lifted his heart, amazed with all his husband had been able to accomplish; but overall, it left Legolas with a distinctly confused feeling that made him ill.
Trying to focus his mind on the present and what Haerelion was doing for the moment, Legolas forced himself to relax and just take in the show, in all its magnificence, when out of nowhere, a jet of water shot straight towards his direction, before stopping abruptly, inches from the tip of his nose.
"Legolas?" Haerelion cried incredulously. "Mani naa lle umien?" he demanded, nonplussed. (What are you doing here?)
Found out, Legolas lightly jumped to the ground without any further forestalling and walked over to Haerelion, who was slowly releasing his control over the large pool of water and letting it sink back into the ground. Although, as Legolas made his way over to his husband's side, he could still feel a light rain falling down from where the water had been moved swiftly from overhead.
"I wanted to come and watch you," Legolas replied with a shrug, attempting at a show of nonchalance to make it seem like such a gesture was not out of the ordinary, as it really shouldn't be. Again, Legolas questioned himself on why he hadn't thought of coming to watch Haerelion practicing his magic before, or travelling with him, at his side, as they met with the gods of the Valar and hunted down the keys to Haerelion's past? It was so simple, so obvious. Instead of moping alone and lonely, he could have been at Haerelion's side this entire time. It was his own fault that he wasn't; plain and simple.
He hoped it was not too late to join him now.
"Why?" Haerelion asked, cocking his head to the side in unadulterated bemusement. Then a look of dawning comprehension fell over his voice and his mouth opened in a slight 'o'. "Legolas," he started with a tired sigh, "if this is about last night, do not worry. I do not expect you to be out here watching me try to control greater acts of magic. Sometimes I bore and frustrate Gandalf, even," Haerelion flashed an amused, teasing smile to the old Istar, who was still sitting off to the side, mutely watching the couple in slight fascination. "You would be bored to tears," Haerelion reasoned as he turned back to Legolas and offered a comforting smile, which Legolas knew he was meant to take in the context that he would not be offending Haerelion in the slightest if he left.
But Legolas had not walked for half the day only to turn around now at Haerelion's feigned indifference. So he soundlessly shook his head and gave a small, sad smile to Haerelion in answer.
Not wanting to see how long he could argue with Haerelion on the reasons he should turn around and go home, Legolas adeptly switched topics and exclaimed his pride and amazement at Haerelion's performance seconds before. "I cannot see how you think I would be bored to tears. That was absolutely brilliant magic that you performed just now. I have not seen even Gandalf perform such feats, though I am sure he is more than capable." He gave an apologetic nod to Gandalf, which the wizard returned in amusement. "It was remarkable. Incredible! You're extraordinary," Legolas cried, smiling wide in pure wonderment. "What else are you working on? May I see more?"
Haerelion blinked in shock, and opened and closed his mouth at a loss for words. He searched Legolas' face for some sign of deception or false enthusiasm, reflexively feeling for the emotions of his partner with the natural empathic abilities of the elves, but found only genuine interest and pride, pride for Haerelion. Moments later, Haerelion was nodding a bit dazedly, his eyes still slightly suspicious and confused, but it was swiftly being replaced by something Legolas had not seen in a very long time. Haerelion was blushing slightly, and Legolas could feel a small bit of gratification and nervousness in response to Legolas' attentions, like he was a small child once more, awaiting Legolas' approval for something.
"You're sure you want to stay?" Haerelion asked hesitantly in what seemed to be a token attempt at giving Legolas one more chance to leave. But at Legolas' assured nod and eager smile, Haerelion found himself smiling delightedly in return and gesturing to the large rock where Gandalf was still sitting, wordlessly asking Legolas to take a seat.
"Alright then," Haerelion whispered quietly to himself, though Legolas still heard, and the older elf could still see the anticipatory smile that had not left Haerelion's face yet. "Let's try this again."
"Good," Gandalf called, returning to teacher mode as everyone settled down. He gave a welcoming smile to Legolas and then began instructing Haerelion on what he wanted his pupil to do next.
Legolas sat and watched, astonished, flabbergasted, and utterly speechless, yet honoured and humbled at the same time by the power and skill being demonstrated before him. This amazing elf, this Istar – and a powerful one at that – this beautiful, stunning creature, so strong, so magnificent...was his. Haerelion loved him, despite the fact that Legolas knew he was wholly undeserving of such love from such an amazing elf.
For hours, Gandalf ran Haerelion through his paces, manipulating water in the ground for the most part, until they finally picked up and started heading even closer to the shore just when the sun had begun to set. As they walked, Legolas listened as Haerelion and Gandalf discussed the effectiveness of the spell and the power behind each bit of magic. Gandalf critiqued Haerelion's wavering levels of control, telling him he needed to be more sure, steady, and consistent, whereupon Legolas had to bite back his tongue in retort, for he thought everything Haerelion had done had been perfect and awe-inspiring. How could Gandalf possibly find any fault? Legolas never thought he would even think this before, but perhaps the old Istar was right to retire to the Undying Lands when he had, for obviously the old man's wherewithal was slipping.
When they finally made it to the shore's edge less than an hour later, the tide had gone out and the air smelt ripe of salt and fish. Legolas breathed in deeply and was secretly overjoyed when Gandalf declared they would camp here for the night. It was a good thing he had thought to bring his own bag for travel, assuming Gandalf's plans might be changed with his arrival. Gandalf's plans tended to change constantly as it was, which Legolas had discovered throughout the past year, expecting Haerelion home at one date, only for him to come back a week, sometimes a month later.
"I shall go and gather some firewood for the night," Gandalf said with a mischievous gleam in his eye that Legolas certainly did not miss, "Perhaps you two could set up camp while I'm gone, and find us something to eat."
Haerelion nodded and started making his way to the water with Legolas following closely at his heels.
"That was easily the most impressive sight I have ever seen in my long life," Legolas leant in to exclaim his amazement to Haerelion softly as his partner halted for a moment just out of the waves' reach, scanning the shoreline for the perfect spot to go fishing. At Legolas' words, though, he turned to regard the other elf with a tentative smile, showing a shyness that Legolas had not seen in many, many years from the younger elf.
"I think you are exaggerating, melanin," Haerelion responded softly, disparagingly; yet Legolas could still see the slight redness of the younger elf's cheeks and the tips of his ears that showed Haerelion's pleasure at the compliment.
Shaking his head, Legolas wrapped his arms around Haerelion's waist and rested his chin atop the other's shoulder. "I do not think so. You were breath-taking."
Tired from the day's workout, Haerelion readily leant back in Legolas' hold and closed his eyes for a moment.
"I have to catch dinner," he moaned quietly in protest, making no move to extract himself from Legolas' arms, "else you will starve and complain to me all night that I did not properly feed you."
"I would never do such a thing," Legolas rebuked, knowing full well how much he relied on Haerelion's cooking, preferring it much more to his own skills.
"Liar," Haerelion deadpanned, glaring playfully at Legolas' denial, which Legolas blithely ignored. "I have been with you too long to know otherwise."
They fell silent after that, just listening to the soft whoosh of the waves gently slapping the shore and running over their feet without care. Legolas wondered whether he should say something and bring up their conversation from the night before, but Haerelion beat him to it.
"Thank you for coming to see me today," he said quietly, his voice barely rising above the sounds of the water, "You know you did not have to, but I cannot adequately express my joy at your presence. I felt stronger and performed better than I had all morning once I knew your eyes were watching me. Thank you," he repeated. "It meant a great deal to me."
Legolas smiled and pressed the side of his head against Haerelion's in silent communication. Even in the few hours time, Legolas could see that a weight had lifted off his love's shoulders. The lines around Haerelion's eyes and mouth, even the one between his brows, had lifted, if ever so slightly, and were much less obvious now. Overall, the younger elf seemed much more contented and at ease. Legolas was more than relieved to finally be there for Haerelion and doing something for him, rather than the other way around.
"I loved watching you," Legolas answered sincerely. He paused and breathed out inaudibly in shame. "I should have been here watching you from the moment you began your lessons with Gandalf. At first I thought you wanted your time with the Istar on your own, as you were so excited to finally have a teacher in magic, but it was not until I could no longer bear the loneliness at missing your presence that I finally realised there was nothing keeping me from being at your side, except my own foolish blindness."
Haerelion moved to reply, but Legolas silenced him with a kiss under his ear. "I should have been there for you from the start as you have always been there for me, even when I put you through great pains to do so. You followed me across the Great Sea to quell the restlessness in my heart, ensuring that my soul was at peace and my heart belonged solely to you and my thoughts to no other. Now it is my turn to repay the favour and follow you anywhere you need to be." Legolas squeezed his love tighter in his hold, delaying any protests or words of uncertainty. "Anywhere you wish to go, I shall follow you, be right at your side, and I will help you solve the mystery of your past because I want to see you happy and at peace with yourself as well. We shall explore the whole of the Valinor if we must, meet every god of the Valar and track down every possible clue until you are satisfied with who you are. I will love you no matter what, but it is you who must be at harmony with yourself."
The contemplative silence of the moment stretched out in the wake of Legolas' words until the sky had gone completely dark and only the starlight reflecting off the sea was the sole source of light around them, other than the muted, natural glow of his and Haerelion's skin.
"I am sorry," Legolas said into the night, realising that even with his whole speech, begging for forgiveness and for Haerelion to consent to bring Legolas along with him as he explored the secrets of his past, he had still not yet said the actual words of apology that Haerelion rightly deserved. "I promise I will not be so blind to your needs again. I shall stay by your side and support you in every way possible, as you have always done for me.
"I am not going anywhere, and you're not going anywhere without me either," Legolas said solemnly, mimicking the promise Haerelion had once made to him on the night they had abandoned Greenwood and their father's protection for good. Though the reminder of that night was sobering, the sentiment was heartening and Legolas felt that he could express his intentions no better.
A moment later, Haerelion started shaking in Legolas' hold. A fact that would have worried Legolas greatly, automatically assuming him to be upset and crying, if not for the boundless joy he could feel radiating off Haerelion, calling forth answering laughter from deep down in Legolas' entire being. Light-hearted chuckles broke the quiet sounds of the night a few seconds later and Legolas knew that all was well, though the subsequent passionate, grateful and endless kiss that Haerelion shared with him a minute later made everything even better.
They did not return to camp for another hour yet, with a couple of fish in hand caught by Haerelion with his magic, and twin expressions of glee on their faces.
Gandalf was already fast asleep by a crackling fire.
They made no move to wake him as they cooked the fish and left out a plate, preserved with magic, for the elder wizard, but instead decided to call it a night and try to get as much sleep as possible before they had to set out tomorrow morning for their next destination. Where the road took them, Legolas hadn't a care, only that he would not be parted from Haerelion's side. As Haerelion had once vowed to him on the eve of their wedding, Legolas would follow Haerelion to the ends of Arda and beyond if it meant that he still got to wake up in his arms every morning and fall asleep in them every night.
And he would never let Haerelion doubt that again.
A/N: Well there you have it! Took me practically the entire summer to finish, and the only thing that ensured it was done today was that I finally got a call back and found out I start work this Thursday. Excellent motivation that.
Additionally, as my lovely beta has so subtlety hinted, there will most likely be a third part to this story to answer the mystery of Haerelion's presence on Middle Earth and ability to do magic. Does that sound good, or shall we just leave it here...? I'd love to hear any and all input, please, if you would be so kind.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the story!