A Tale of Mirkwood - Chapter 37 - The Warriors Return
© of Leaflocks (excluding all material written and/or created by J.R.R. Tolkien Estate Ltd.) This story is now complete. It's been a LONG time since I've posted on this site, but I thought I should take it up again, now that the story is done. This is Chapter 37 of 46. It is a romantic Legolas story that begins prior to the final War of the Ring, and ends upon his and Gimli's sailing into the west. At all times I have tried to stay as close as possible to the book, while creating a romantic story around Legolas. I hope you enjoy.
CHAPTER XXXVII - THE WARRIORS RETURN
Arod rode hard and fast for countless hours before finally requiring rest. Legolas was reluctant to stop, but would never have abandoned his steadfast horse after serving him so faithfully. They were now only five hours on foot from the eastern border of his father's kingdom. "How odd it feels to be so close to home," Legolas said to Gimli as they sat by the fire. "It seems an age since I was here."
"Now, I had thought that a year is but a day to an elf," Gimli replied cleverly.
"Never before has time passed so slowly, and yet, so swiftly."
"Welcome to time as the rest of us know it," Gimli said, rolling over and finding a comfortable spot with his back to the crackling fire. He was soon snoring sonorously much to the annoyance of the tranquil animal inhabitants in the near and far environs.
The next morning they resumed their journey. Far from riding with haste and fierceness, the warriors walked the last distance at a calm pace, recollecting the hardships and triumphs they had experienced together in days now passed. It was the end of a very long journey together, but certainly not their last, though neither had any knowledge of it.
With every step closer to home, Legolas's anxiety increased. The border was finally within sight; Legolas smiled, and turned to his friend. "There it is, Gimli. I am home!"
Gimli perceived the nervousness in Legolas' voice. "Through all the battles, and in the most dire situations we have been in together, at Moria, Helm's Deep, and Mordor besides," Gimli exclaimed, confused, "you have always been fearless. How is it you come to be afraid upon returning to your own kith and kin?"
"Long have I been apart from Mithryn. She is a mortal and does not have an elf's memory. What if she does not love me anymore? What if she does not forgive me for staying away so long? She may not have forgiven me for. . ."
"You are speaking in absurdity, Legolas. Mithryn's heart still belongs to you."
"How do you know this?" Legolas asked, skeptically. "You have never met her."
"Any lady, of whom I have heard you speak with so much adoration as to make one sick listening to you, surely has your heart in return. Worry not, my friend. She loves you still."
"LEGOLAS!" Haldof's voice called loudly and clearly through the forest. Legolas saw the flash of a golden-haired figure as it jumped effortlessly out of a tall tree, and rushed towards them. Embracing and laughing with his brother, Legolas was, indeed, grateful for this heartwarming homecoming. He remembered explicitly how hard Haldof had argued against his participation in the Fellowship. He had feared the bitterness still remained, but such concerns melted away when Haldof's bright face, smiling in the sun, was seen. "Hail, Legolas! I cannot believe it! Long have you kept us waiting for your return. Is it truly you?"
"Aye, Haldof, it is I. You have not changed. You are not still angry with me, then, for leaving?"
"Angry?" Haldof exclaimed in mock disbelief. "I declare I was not! Merely jealous! I knew how it would be. To our kinsfolk you are now a hero and a great warrior who defeated Sauron singlehandedly, and I am but the knave who, still, is late for duty."
"Surely, still not late for duty?" Legolas teased.
"Alas, that it is so. Yet, not as late as you!" Haldof said, playfully jabbing Legolas on his arm. "We expected you a month ago at least! What delayed you?"
The loud, crisp call of the silver iavin blared out far and wide exclaiming the homecoming for all to hear and prevented Legolas's response. Upon seeing who had arrived, other elves climbed down from their lofty posts to welcome the adventurous prince. All longed to see and embrace him, making sure that he was truly safe and now home. Twas too good to be true!
Haldof noticed that Legolas had not answered his question, but decided later would be best to pester him for answers. "But, who is this?" Haldof asked warily, for the first time noticing a Dwarf standing awkwardly beside his brother's horse.
"Ai, I am sorry, my friend," Legolas replied turning back to Gimli. Haldof blinked in astonishment at the words of his brother. "Haldof," Legolas continued, "I have the very great pleasure of introducing a very dear friend to you, Gimli son of Glóin from Lonely Mountain, who has saved my life many times."
"A dwarf?" Haldof said, obviously confused.
"You may not have wit, Elf, but your eyes appear to work splendidly," Gimli growled.
Haldof blinked at Gimli, but was even more surprised by his brother's outright laughter at this impudent dwarf's insult. "Oh Gimli," Legolas said, laughing. "Pay him no mind, Haldof. He often speaks to me in such manner."
Haldof stared at his brother incredulously. "Indeed? I see you have a great deal to tell."
"Aye, brother, much, and many great things, but later," Legolas said as even more elves came, welcoming, and weeping, so glad were they to see their champion alive and home at last. Finally able to escape the pressing throng, Legolas pulled Haldof aside and asked quietly, "Where is Mithryn? Why has she not come?"
"Mithryn?" Haldof replied, blankly.
"Aye," Legolas affirmed, "my wife. Where is she?"
* * *
Legolas walked hesitantly down the path while all the others, carefully keeping a respectful distance, followed.. Stone-faced and more anxious with every step closer he took, he thought his heart would explode within his chest. Rounding a bend, he halted and gasped. Mithryn sat by a cascading stream, gently humming to a bundle in her arms. He stood frozen at the sight of her.
Mithryn was focused on the large, bright eyes of her child when the most curious sensation came over her. It felt as though someone were watching her! She slowly turned and lifted her eyes to see her husband, Legolas himself, before her. Moments passed by in which it seemed they were the only two people in the world; both hardly able to believe that what they had desired most, had happened. They were together at last. She rose and approached him, as if in a dream, holding their child gently in her arms.
"This is our child, Legolas," she said when she was finally next to him. "Our son."
Without speaking a word, Legolas reached out and pulled Mithryn and the babe close to his chest. His familiar, fresh woodland scent filled Mithryn's senses with long-forgotten memories. Closing their eyes, they were happy merely to be together once again as they shut out the rest of the world for a few stolen moments.
Gimli and Haldof watched nearby, and Gimli could not but help wiping away a very joyous tear. His sniffle did not go unnoticed by Haldof, and Gimli defensively said, "It is naught but a bit of dust in my eye."
"I had not thought," Haldof said insolently, "that a Dwarf could be so moved by such a touching scene."
"And I had not thought elves could be so haughty," Gimli replied, "and yet I am proved mistaken!"
Haldof stared a moment, before smiling despite himself. "Well met, Dwarf!"
"Extremely well met, Elf," Gimli replied, smiling himself.
"Come! As you are a guest of Legolas, perhaps it best that I show you to your quarters as your friend, my brother, is obviously occupied with other matters just now."
"Pray, lead the way," Gimli instructed, "unless, of course, our path leads to your infamous dungeons. I have no wish to see such a dank and miserable place of which I have heard much these past fifty years."
"Much? Who, indeed, could have spoken so ill of our cells?"
"My father, and your former prisoner, prior to the Great Battle of the Five Armies."
"Ah, now I recollect!" Haldof said. "Nay, those are not suitable quarters for a friend of Legolas, even though he may be a Dwarf." The crowd of merry onlookers, following Haldof and Gimli's example, quietly dispersed giving their dear Legolas and Mithryn some time alone.
Overwhelmed with joy, Legolas held Mithryn and their child firmly in his strong arms, not wishing to ever let them, or that moment, go. "I wish I could hold on to you forever," he whispered.
"And so you shall, my love, forever in your heart."
"That is not good enough," he said despairingly.
"Yet, it shall have to be," Mithryn replied, gazing up into his handsome face, streaked with tears. "Let these tears be tears of joy," she said, wiping them away, "for though I am not immortal, how happy I am to know that our son is! When the time has come that I can no longer be with you, he can forever remain at your side, and help you remember."
"I shall need no help, but through those dark times, his company would be most comforting."
"Think not of those times ahead, my love," she said. "Think only of now, and of how happy we all are that you have returned to us unscathed. Here," she said, passing him the babe. "Here is our son, Culúril."
"Culúril? A curious name for an elven child, yet it suits him well." Legolas touched the babe's head, and saw not pale gold, not red, but strawberry coloured locks, soft as down. "Golden-red brilliance."
"Your father helped me name him. Thranduil felt Culúril's hair was so unusual for an elf, we must make special note of it." She stared into Legolas' face uneasily. "I was hesitant to name him without you, but a month passed, and still you did not appear. Father said the naming ceremony had to be performed before the first month was over. I asked him to wait. . ."
"Nay," Legolas said. "It could not wait. Do not worry. His name fits him perfectly. I wished I could have been there. . .Wait! How long did you know?"
"That you were carrying our child. How long after I left did you discover this?"
Mithryn stared guiltily at the mossy earth. "Not after. Before. I am sorry, my Love, but I could not in good conscience tell you."
"But why?" Legolas said, hurt.
Mithryn stared at him. "You cannot tell me that you were not needed on your quest. You cannot tell me how important it was for all of us. My vision revealed this. That is why. I knew that if you knew of my condition, you would be torn, and that this knowledge would compromise the success of your mission and your safety."
"I am sorry, Mithryn," he said, slipping an arm around her waist. "I did not mean to reproach you. It must have been very difficult for you to go through all of this alone."
"Difficult enough, but let us think of this no more, my Darling. You are home, our child is here with us, safe, and the evil that threatened all that is good is now defeated. That is enough. Let us ask no more."
"Very well," Legolas agreed, and he looked down on his beautiful son noting reflections of his mother, himself, and Mithryn. They began to walk back to the palace where his brothers, father, and every elf in the kingdom was anxiously waiting to welcome him home again. They had not walked far when Mithryn faltered, out of breath. "I am sorry, my love," she said, wearily. "I. . .I did not rest well last night. I think I should rest before the festivities tonight."
"Certainly," Legolas said, for the first time noticing how tired and pale she looked.
They walked through a sea of elves, all joyously exclaiming their felicitations, and had just reached the landing, when Legolas saw his father standing tall and proud. "Pray, Mithryn, may I hand him to you? My father. . .I have not spoken with him yet."
"Of course, Legolas," she said, taking tiny Culúril into her arms. I'll be waiting for you." She gave Legolas a soft kiss, and slowly began to climb the stairs. Legolas strode toward his father and, immediately, the king embraced him.
"You have returned at long last!" Thranduil said, gazing at Legolas.
"I have, Father."
"Come! There is something we need to discuss."
Thranduil led a curious Legolas into his study and, promptly, poured him some wine. Legolas sipped the sweet nectar and closed his eyes in blissful remembrance. It felt like home! " I am sorry I did not come to you immediately, Father. I wanted to see Mithryn most urgently. I still have not seen Tarnil or Galamed. Are they here?"
"They went out hunting early this morning. It is a shame that they missed your return, but you shall see them anon."
"What is it you wish to discuss? Sauron? He is defeated! I saw the black tower crumble with my own eyes. What I would have given for you to see it, Father!"
Smiling, Thranduil said, "Aye, that would have been something I would have paid dearly to see. But, nay, Legolas. I wish to talk of Mithryn." He said this slowly and looked at the floor.
The lighthearted feeling vanished as soon as Legolas heard these words. "Mithryn? Why? What is the matter?"
"How did she appear to you?"
"Tired. . .a trifle thin, nothing more. What has happened here?"
"Legolas," Thranduil began as gently as he could, "a great deal has happened in your absence. You have met your son."
At once, Legolas' face blushed proudly. "I cannot express to you. . .the feeling. . ."
"You need not. I have felt it four times already when you and your brothers were born. Nay, what I mean is, Mithryn's health is. . .delicate. Culúril's birth was. . .difficult."
"How?" Legolas asked, eyes wide and worried.
"Mithryn was very weak, and is weak still. A handmaiden has been forever at her side to aid her. What I am trying to say is, her constitution improves and relapses inexplicably. Right now, she is in decline. I noticed it yesterday afternoon. However, she was much better a week ago."
Sitting very still and not breathing, Legolas forced a question out of his constricted throat. "Will she ever get well?"
Thranduil sat a moment. This was the moment he had been dreading for long, dark months. The question from his son he had most feared. "Of course."
Legolas heaved a sigh. "Father, you startled me! Well, if she is ill, I am grateful to now have the opportunity to make her well again as she did for me. I am sorry, Father, but may I go? She is waiting for me, ... and Culúril. . .I long to gaze at him again."
"Of course," Thranduil said, rising. "Tomorrow we shall talk of the business of the kingdom and you can catch up on all that has happened. I also long to know of your many adventures. We are all so gladdened to have you home again, my son."
"Thank you, Father," Legolas called as he hastened out the door.
Thranduil sat down and poured himself more wine. A guilty sadness washed over him. "Nay," he thought to himself, "the truth would be too painful for them both, Legolas having missed a year away from his wife, probably her last. I will not allow him to reproach himself. I regret nothing."
End of Chapter 37