*After surviving the great battle of Helm’s Deep and once again being reunited with Merry and Pippin in the rumble of Isengard, Aragorn has decided to journey forth to the Paths of the Dead, to summon the long dead soldiers still held by oath. His companions Legolas and Gimli and his fellow Rangers of the North accompany him.*
Their party had been riding at a dead gallop for what seemed like hours, thought Legolas. He then caught up with Aragorn a feet few ahead of him and shouted, “Aragorn! Your men tire from this constant riding. I feel no fatigue but I fear soon our comrade Gimli will fall from our horse and roll like a barrel down the hill. Let us slow our pace for a while!”
With a nod of his head, Aragorn slowed his horse and raised his right arm to signal to the others to do the same. Legolas could see upon the faces of the men the relief they had been brought. He could also see that the elven brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, tarried in the back of their party. They were laughing as they saw the men desperately trying to catch their breath.
Elrohir called up to Aragorn, still laughing, “Good, my lord Aragorn!! I do not think I could pick them all up as they fell off their horses!” Aragorn had no answer, merely smiled back at him. Legolas could see that the smile faded quickly and that Aragorn stared blankly off onto the horizon. He never wore his concerns discreetly; always he let them be shown to the world, thought Legolas. Since Gimli’s exhaustion had caused him to fall asleep right there before Legolas, he took this opportunity to speak with Aragorn.
“What troubles you? The Paths of the Dead?” Legolas looked kindly upon Aragorn, and with concern. Without taking his eyes off the horizon, Aragorn spoke quietly to Legolas. “No, it is not the Dead that trouble me. I do believe that I can call them to our aide. It is Arwen that plagues my mind.”
“Why does she plague your thoughts?” asked Legolas. This response had stirred some curiosity within him, and it was apparent in his eyes.
“I fear that I have not made the right choice. I cannot ask her to stay here and refuse to take the ship to Valinor. It is the right of all elven kind. I cannot ask this of her.” Aragorn’s speech faltered, he then glanced over at Legolas with a stern look on his face. With the same stern look upon his fair elven face Legolas replied, “Do you not love her? Would you not spend the rest of your years with her at your side?”
As a key to a lock, these words had unlocked some powerful emotion from Aragorn’s heart. He pulled his steed closer to Legolas, and whispered urgently, “I would have all those things. I would love her until my dying breath, but I would not have it at the expense of her immortality.” Before Legolas could reply, Aragorn signaled to the rest of the group to stop. In a loud, clear voice he announced that they were going to stop for a few hours. To which Elladan chimed in, “Indeed, a few hours of rest would do this bunch good, I feared that they might start dropping like flies!”
“You missed your calling my friend, you would have served better as a jester,” Aragorn called back. Legolas dropped the still-sleeping Gimli to the ground, dismounted, and went to start a fire. There were many words that had yet to be spoken between Aragorn and Legolas, perhaps some would be tonight.
Legolas quietly walked behind Aragorn and rest his hand upon his back. “Still troubled, my brother?” Aragorn continued to stare into the flames of the campfire before him. A moment went by without an answer; Legolas thought perhaps he had not heard him. Before Legolas could speak again, there came a reply. “Yes I am still troubled. The more I think the more problems I seem to discover. I am troubled by you Legolas.” Legolas had been caught off guard with that remark, and he wondered what Aragorn had meant, though deep in his heart he knew all too well.
“I know you love her, and I know she asked you to go with me. I cannot blame you for the love you feel for her. I, after all, have fallen under the same spell. But I would not have man nor elf in my company that was not true to the cause we strive for, regardless of where their love lies.” Not once had Aragorn looked up from the fire. He only sat there, leaning in closely. Legolas sighed and sat down next to him, and said softly, “I see…….Because I love Arwen, it can only be her I love and her alone?” Aragorn broke his gaze on the fire long enough to look disapprovingly on Legolas and say, “You are here because she bid you follow me.” Then his eyes went back to the fire blazing before him.
Legolas stood up and grasped Aragorn by the shoulders, and looked him in the eyes. “I do not stay because of her, I stay because of you! You are my friend Aragorn! Can you not see that?” Legolas’s eyes searched Aragorn’s face some shred of understanding, but there was none. “I came with you on this journey because I chose to protect Frodo and to represent the Elves in the Fellowship we forged. I did not pledge my loyalty only to Frodo, but to all of the Fellowship, to you as well. Yes! She did ask me to come, but I came because I felt in my heart that I needed to. And yes, I do love her, more than anything. She is yours though, no matter how much I feel for her, it is in vain.” Aragorn’s disposition had changed; Legolas’s words had moved him. Aragorn stood up, but found it hard to look Legolas in his eyes.
“I am sorry. I was foolish to doubt you, my friend. I see now that for my own happiness I have stolen yours. I cannot ask forgiveness of you, I am undeserving of it.” Aragorn turned to leave, but Legolas caught him by the arm and said softly, “There is nothing to forgive Aragorn.” With that Aragorn took him into a brotherly embrace. Legolas held him tightly and said, “My place is and ever shall be at the side of my brother.” And after a few moments Legolas gently pulled away and said, “I must go, I promised Gimli I would sit and keep him company this night. He has already built a fire.” Aragorn smiled and nodded his head. He then turned and walked briskly away, no doubt to check on the rest of his company, thought Legolas.
Legolas then walked lightly and quietly over to Gimli, who was trying desperately to keep his small fire burning in the damp air.
“You seem discouraged, Master Dwarf.” Having startled Gimli, he turned around sharply. “Yes! Nothing will burn, I will surely freeze. And I do not think I am the only one by this fire that is discouraged. My lad, you must bear away this love, it has been plaguing your mind since we left Rivendell.”
Legolas nodded his head; he knew this to be true. As he shed his quiver and laid it delicately on the damp grass, he spoke with resignation, “Yes it has, and I do not deny it. But my plight will have grown hopeless indeed if begin taking counsel in the matters of love from a dwarf.” Though his melancholy was thick, a small grin appeared on his face.
“Oh Master Elf,” Gimli chuckled, “we dwarves are more worldly wise then we let on, I assure you.” A soft laugh managed to escape from the elf’s lips.
“Since you are so wise, tell me, what would you do? Have you any answers for me?” Gimli’s laughter slowly faded, and he sat there gently tapping his pipe against his lip. He finally turned to Legolas and said in a clear, strong voice, “No, I do not have an answer for you. I do know what you should not do though; you should not wade in this sadness for the rest immortal life! However long that lasts!”
Gimli’s fire had gone out by now, and Legolas silently moved closer and brought it back to a full blaze with little effort. Never taking his eyes off of the burning wood, Legolas said with a quiet strength, “Yes I know, I do not wish it to consume me either. But I ask you, like everything else in this world, does it not take time?” After taking a moment to contemplate, Gimli took a puff of his pipe and replied, “Yes, it surely does.”
Elrond sat quietly in his library; beside him he had laid parchments and books. When his daughter entered the room, it was apparent to her that he had been reading for a long while. He looked up and was greeted with his daughter’s radiant smile.
“Daughter, come sit down beside me.” Arwen glided across the room and took her place beside her father. “You wished to speak to me, father?”
“I know you have chosen Aragorn; I see you have given him your pendant. Is this what you want?” Arwen knew this was why her father had summoned her to him that evening. She understood very quickly that the decision she had made was not a simple one. She now saw that in the future she would have to explain why she chose Aragorn, why she wished him to be her husband.
“Yes father, Legolas was my childhood love. I know you and the king Thranduil would have him be my love for all time.”
Elrond considered her words thoughtfully for a moment and replied, “We both wanted to see our children happy, the both of us believed you would make a joyous couple. This is why we considered your marriage to Legolas. I thought you would have been happy.” Elrond couldn’t help but think that he had made the wrong choice for his daughter; he had done her some kind of injustice.
“And I was happy to marry Legolas; he is what I longed for as a child. I am a child no longer though. I grew up the day I met him. I fell in love with Aragorn; I wanted…I still want to share my life with him. My love has not diminished for Legolas, is it not possible to love more than one person in your life?” There was a tone of questioning in her fair voice; Arwen desperately wanted her father to understand what she had done. When she looked into the kind eyes of her father, Arwen thought she saw that understanding.
“I do not question your love for neither Aragorn nor Legolas, as a father I have concerns about what is best for you, my daughter. I want you to be happy, most of all.” Elrond did not know how to tell his daughter that he feared for her in this match with Aragorn, that he feared that in the end she would only know sadness.
“I want you what you want.”
The End *Part 3 soon to come*