*An entire kingdom is now in mourning, a hero has faded from Middle-earth. King Elessar of Gondor, after many years of reigning justly and wisely, has died. His crown and throne now go to his only son, Eldarion.*
The procession had been miles long; people from every corner of Middle-earth came to mourn the passing of the great king. Finally, at the head of the mass of people, the men bearing the body of the king came to the tomb that had been prepared for him. At the entrance stood the royal family, and with then were their dearest friends. There was a cluster of hobbits, the three remaining of the fellowship, and their families. Faramir and Eowyn of Ithilien were present, as was Gimli and others of his dwarven kind. And standing beside the queen, there was an elf clad in black.
This was the first time Legolas had ever worn entirely black. He knew that black was the color of mourning among mortal men, and he wish to show his friend the respect that his greatness had earned. Legolas could not help the sadness he felt now that his brother-in-arms was gone. A sadness so deep that tears could not begin to express it. Even so, a single tear rolled down his cheek. He could not bring himself to raise his eyes to look at Aragorn’s body being laid to rest.
Though the sound of weeping filled the air, Legolas heard only silence. He had become unaware of anything around him; he had slowly become consumed with his grief. Never before had Legolas envied the mortality of men, until now. Aragorn had grown old and died, just as all mankind do. He could see Aragorn’s children growing older. Now at first glance, he and Eldarion looked to be the same age. Legolas knew that day by day Eldarion and his sisters would grow older and eventually die. The hobbits, though small and child-like, had begun to show signs of their advancing years. One day they also would pass into death. Not Legolas, he knew that years would go by and he would never succumb to old age, yet would watch all those he held dear to him wither and die. For the first time in his life, Legolas wished for death.
After the funeral Legolas went one of the balconies high atop the White Tower, there he could see the rivers leading out to the sea. It was there he found what little comfort there was to be had. He was deep in thought, but not so deep that he could not hear Eldarion and Anantien approaching him quietly. Without turning to face them he murmured, “How is your mother?” Both of them hesitated a moment and then finally Eldarion replied, “She continues to weep. And is gathering her things together, she says she is going to Lothlorien.”
Legolas nodded his head and then turned around and said, “Yes I know, I am to take her there.” He could see tears building up in both Anantien and Eldarion’s eyes. Anantien then asked quietly, “Will you ever return?” He reached up and placed his hand on her cheek gently and replied, “No, I am not coming back.” Legolas’s words had set loose the many tears welling in her eyes. He drew Anantien into his arms and in his soft elven voice; he did his best to comfort her.
“Oh my darling girl, don’t cry. You do not need me to look after you anymore. You will always be that beautiful baby I held in my arms, but you are grown now.”
Until then Eldarion had been standing tall and silent, afraid if he uttered a word his emotions would come tumbling down upon him. He gathered up all he had and stepped toward Legolas. “Yes we are grown and no longer children. But our mother is leaving and our father is dead.” Eldarion’s voice was strong, like Aragorn’s, though its strength had begun to falter.
“Legolas, you also were a father to us, a father and a friend. I have already lost one father; I do not wish the other.” Now there were tears streaming down Eldarion’s cheeks and he had no hope of hiding it. Still holding Anantien in one arm, Legolas stretched out his other towards Eldarion. As he did, he spoke softly because that was all his tears would allow.
“I know not a drop of my blood runs in your veins, but I have always loved you as if you were my own. And I am so proud to have you as my children.”
After a moment’s hesitation, Eldarion walked swiftly to Legolas. And as he held his precious godchildren in his arms Legolas felt himself being pulled in opposite directions. He could feel an overwhelming need to both go and stay. These were not children that stood before him, but at the same time they would remain children to him for eternity. He wished to care for them, and he wished to care for their mother as well. Legolas’s heart ached as he resigned himself to the knowledge that he could not do both. There was a choice to be made. And though it was aching, his heart had made that choice long ago.
Legolas moved silently beneath the great, looming trees of Lothlorien. Gone was his ever present woodland green apparel, he wore grey. The same color that the elves of this realm so often wore; though that was not the only reason he wore it. The green was the color of his home, Mirkwood. Greenwood the Great it was now called, as it had once been called thousands of years ago. Legolas chose not to wear green because that was no longer his home, the prince would never return to his father’s realm. The trees no longer offered him any solace, he longed for the sea. One thing kept him in Middle-earth, just one.
It had been a year since Aragorn’s death, and his son now ruled Gondor. Eldarion ruled well, his kingdom was greater than anyone could have imagined. Legolas had spent the last year by Arwen’s side, he watched as the light that had been all around her and in her eyes grow dim. As time went on the light seemed to have gone out, he could no longer see it in her eyes. She would wander alone through the endless forests and would allow no one to accompany her.
Legolas would walk alone too, as he did now. He walked to see Arwen and refused to allow anyone to come with him. He went so slowly, and then he looked up and found that his walk had come to an end. Part of him wished he could just walk forever because he knew this would be the last time he would ever speak to Arwen, Legolas could feel it throughout him. He came upon her in a pavilion, lying down. He could see that she had become as pale as the cushions as laid upon. As much as he tried to fight it, he could not. There was nothing he could do to help her. Legolas took a deep but silent breath and walk under the pavilion.
“Here you are,” he said in a soft voice. Arwen turned her head and gave him a small, weak smile and replied, “Yes, here I am.” Legolas sat down next to her. There was so much he had wanted to say but now he couldn’t bring himself to say anything. He could only bow his head and look at the ground. His heart had begun to weep even though his eyes had yet to.
The two sat in silence and stillness for a long while until Arwen shifted, placed her hand on his arm and asked softly, “Will you go into the West?” Legolas brought his head up and with all the strength he could gather he answered.
“Yes I will. This place holds nothing for me now, it will hold nothing. In truth Arwen, I will not live in this world without you, so I go to the next.” Already his voice had begun to shake and he could feel his eyes being dampened with tears. Arwen frowned sadly and whispered, “Shhhh, do not speak like that. Soon you will leave this place and have nothing but the everlasting sea before you. You will find peace and forgot about me, forgot all of this.”
Legolas shook his head and replied in a low whisper, “Never. Your memory will last long after everything else has disappeared.” Legolas took her hands in his and gave her a small smile in attempt to hold back his tears. “You shall remain with me until I am gone, I swear it. It is true that the sea is the only thing that now offers me any happiness, though now the thought of it does not give me much comfort.”
Arwen sighed heavily and closed her eyes. Legolas continued to look upon her face. To him it was still so lovely, even now. He could not conceive that a beauty such as hers could ever die, that it could ever fade. Legolas could never believe that she would fade. Arwen slowly opened her eyes and cast them upwards. There was an almost pained look on her face. She then looked at Legolas with a questioning expression. “I feel so strange, like every part of me is becoming weaker and weaker. Is this what it is to die?
Legolas could no longer hold his many tears back; they broke through as he shook his head and choked, “I don’t know.” Tears came rolling down his cheeks and he could not help but sob. Legolas’s grasp had become tighter, and then Arwen lifted her hand and gently wiped away the tears that covered his cheeks. The sight of Legolas weeping had caused Arwen’s eyes to also spill some tears. She struggled to smile as she said softly, “No more tears my love, no more. Do not cry for me. This is what I chose.” Legolas could not answer, so he nodded his head as if to say that he understood. Still holding her hands in his firmly, he looked into Arwen’s eyes. Still he found no light, though they were no less beautiful.
The two gazed into each other’s eyes for what seemed to be ages and yet at the same time but a passing moment. And there in their eyes, all that was needed to be said was said. Nothing was left. With what strength she still had she sighed softly and whispered, “I love you.” He answered as he had done so many times before in their lives. Lives that, to a mortal, would have seemed to be an eternity in comparison. An eternity perhaps, though to Legolas an eternity seemed not nearly long enough. Legolas breathed deeply, his voice had become as a leaf in an autumn breeze, delicate and shaken. “And I you.”
Arwen smiled and tilted her head to the side, until soon her smile faded and her eyes had lost their focus and her shallow breath had stopped. Legolas still sat there for a long while, some hours. He could not bring himself to stand and go. Finally, Legolas leaned over and kissed her gently, for the last time. He then kissed the hand that he still held in his firm grasp. Then he rested it delicately on her other hand and stood. He wiped the remaining tears from his face, and slowly, step by step, Legolas left the pavilion. As he walked back through the forest, he breathed a sigh of relieve. Relieve because as he had told her, he could feel her with him then and would for the rest of his days.