In the year 1541 in the Fourth Age of the Sun, the last gray ship sailed from Ithilien, journeying first down the River Pouros, before entering the great vein of the Anduin. It was the last gray ship to depart Middle earth and it carried with it the remaining members of the Fellowship that still survived in this realm. It was a sad time for Middle earth for it was not long since the passing of the great King Elessar. Much of the land was still in mourning for the leader who had, for 120 years of his reign, maintained peace and prosperity through the Reunified Kingdom and ensured that the rest of Middle earth was similarly blessed. Although his son Eldarion was proving to be a good and wise king in the stead of his father, his reign was still too new for his people to love him as much.
Arwen had returned to what remained of Lothlorien, choosing to visit Cerin Armoth, the place where she and Aragorn had been betrothed. Despite Legolas’ entreaties that she should remain with her children, the Queen of Gondor was adamant. Legolas, just by looking at her, knew her reasons for going to that particular place and it was with sadness that he bade her goodbye when he left the White City, for he knew that she would die within the year if not sooner. While she may have chosen a mortal life, she was still an elf and without Aragorn, Legolas knew that she would not be long for this world.
Eden Ardhon was thriving when he left it and Legolas was certain that those behind him would follow soon enough in due course, for himself, he had ruled there for more than a hundred years and he had accomplished all that he had set out to do. His father had gone into the Undying Lands some years before and now the Woodland Realm and Thranduil’s court was fading into memory. Legolas had no doubt that Eden Ardhon would do the same in time. The valley where Imladris used to be had become lost to men and only the few remaining elves left in Middle earth could find where it once was. Lothlorien had disappeared completely into the wood and now there was no trace of the great lady who once lived there.
Arwen had said the world changes and she was right, Legolas thought sadly.
His world had changed and when Aragorn had passed into the world, he realised how much. It was the final cut to the many wounds his heart had incurred in the last century and when he saw the light fade from the eyes of his oldest and possibly best friend, he knew that the time had come to answer the call of the sea. It was not to say that he did not have ties left behind in Middle earth, in truth he had many. The children borne of the Fellowship were dear to his heart and there were his own children, a son, Thalionhis, who now sat upon the throne at Eden Ardhon and a daughter, Annúnmelien who was wife to Eldarion and Queen of the Reunified Kingdom. He would miss them but he knew that their lives would be happy and they would go on without him.
Just as he had gone on without their mother after she had died.
Although it had been almost fifty years since Melia had passed away, for Legolas the pain was as fresh as if it were but yesterday that he stood by the plot of earth where her body had been buried two days after her death on Midsummer’s Eve. It had never truly faded away and he had awoken every morning since that terrible day to find his heart breaking a new when he realised that she was no longer at his side. Finally, he understood the pain that Thranduil had warned him of and Legolas could not deny that it was far worse than anything he had imagined was. When he remembered what they had shared together, the perils that came along the way, the adventures and even the quiet moments, he wanted to die with her. An elf could die of grief and there was more times than he would like to admit when he almost lost the will to continue.
Yet he would have changed nothing if he had the choice to live over again.
They had loved each other for as long as they were together and though it saddened him to see her grow old because her age was a reminder of his impending loss, to him she was still the beautiful Ranger he had met in the Blue Mountains. Nothing would ever change that vision of her in his eyes. There were occasions that he caught the longing in hers as she looked at him, the secret pain that he would endure long after she was gone and that he would be alone forever. However, that sorrow never tainted their love and they lived a life full of surprises but they were never apart.
With Aragorn’s passing, there was nothing left to hold him in Middle earth and since Gimli still lived, Legolas did not wish to see another friend lost to the ravages of mortality thus he invited the dwarf to join him on the grey ship to the West. Gimli, the curmudgeon that he was would not admit that part of his reason to accompany Legolas to an isle full of elves was to see Galadriel again but Legolas was not complaining, it was good to have the dwarf at his side for one last journey. For as long as Aragorn had ruled over Middle earth, Gimli had been Legolas’ constant companion and they had seen each other through great many things, the loss of Melia and eventually the loss of Gimli’s own wife, Lorin.
Now it was time for them to pass on into legend for the years had caught up with both of them. The time had come for the Fellowship to pass into legend and as its final two members sailed into the horizon, going with them was the Age of Heroes.
The isle of Valinor was nothing like the descriptions of it that either Legolas or Gimli had heard. It was more. As they crossed the Enchanted Sea, they could see the tall cliffs and the white sands that made up the coastline of the legendary home of the Valar. From the distance, they could see the home of Manwe and Varda perched atop the peak of Mount Taniquetil, the tallest mountain in all the world. The resplendent beauty of the isle filled their hearts with wonder and took away some of the pain that came with leaving behind everything they knew. The realization that they would soon be reunited with old friends began to loom closer in their minds and suddenly their hearts did not seem so heavy any more.
When the grey ship finally sailed into the Bay of Endamar, past the isle of Tol Eressea, Legolas and Gimli saw the friends that were waiting for them to arrive. He caught sight first of his father and let out a little breath of surprise to note that the woman standing by Thranduil’s side was his mother. Legolas had not seen her in so long that he almost did not remember her. She was smiling at him from the shore, with waves of long golden hair around her shoulders. Also there was Mithrandir and the hobbits, Sam and Frodo. Seeing them made Legolas’ heart heavy for the members of the Fellowship who would not be joining them, most notably Aragorn but also Merry and Pippin and finally even Boromir, who was a good and honorable friend, despite the One Ring’s seduction.
There were happy reunions when the ship finally came to port and Legolas was rather overwhelmed by all the familiar faces. Gimli seemed to take all things in stride and merely contented himself with greeting the members of the Fellowship he knew, leaving Legolas to be reunited with his happy parents. Legolas had been a child when his mother had departed Middle earth and it was with some hesitation that he regarded her but when she smiled at him, mirroring himself in her features, he understood completely why his father had always been so protective of him. He was his mother’s son and the best part of her that Thranduil still had in his keeping when she had left him for Valinor.
When he finally turned joined the Fellowship, after hearty assurances to his parents that he would be with them soon enough, Legolas could not deny how good it was to see his old friends again. He wished, more than anything, that Aragorn was standing with them but contented himself with what he had instead of what he did not. Frodo seemed a good deal more at peace then he had when they had last seen him and Sam was the same, always at his side, ready to protect him no matter what, even in a place where everyone was beyond harm. Gandalf was the same as well, wise and all knowing. He looked at Legolas with an expression that was almost bemusement, as if he had knowledge of some secret joke to which the prince was not aware.
“It’s so good to see you again Master Legolas and Master Gimli,” Sam smiled happily as the old friends conferred. “It will be like old times again.”
“But with not as much peril,” Gandalf added as he gazed upon Legolas and Gimli. “How have you both been?”
“We grew old,” Gimli retorted with usual aplomb.
“Well you look it,” Frodo joked and then glanced at Legolas, “he doesn’t though.”
“Damn elves,” Gimli snorted.
“Remind me again why I invited you to come with me,” Legolas teased, giving the dwarf a little look.
“To keep you from getting lost,” Gimli retorted. “You know you could not find your way out of a room without me.”
“I forgot,” Legolas nodded, rolling his eyes.
“Well it looks like some things never change,” Gandalf chuckled softly.
Legolas was about to join his laughter when suddenly, a feeling of familiarity struck him and it was nothing to do with the friends present. For an instant, his heart stopped beating because he recognized when he had last felt this way and he was struck with the impossible thought that somehow the gods had favored him with a wondrous gift. For an eternity of time, he dared not breathe until he heard her voice behind him.
“So it this the famous Legolas you have been telling me about Frodo?”
Legolas turned around and found himself staring at a young woman who was not much older in appearance than he. She was clearly elven with long dark hair, soft brown eyes and luminescent skin that could only come of being Eldar born. She reminded him a little of the Evenstar though she was not the ravishing beauty that Arwen had been. Still there was a loveliness in her features that was hers alone and she stood before him, her eyes studying him with great interest.
“Yes,” Frodo let out a heavy sigh as if he were a little embarrassed by her sudden interruption of this reunion between old friends. “Legolas, Gimli, this is Ariel.”
“Ariel?” Gimli asked. “Named after Arien no doubt.”
Legolas stared at her for a moment, saying nothing because he was still too lost in astonishment to form the words. Outwardly, she bore little resemblance to anyone he had met before but when she stared at him, with a little smile of amusement at his scrutiny, Legolas swore that he knew her. He had no idea how it was possible, how an elven woman born in the Undying Lands could share the same soul as the wife he had buried in Middle earth years before but there was no denying it. His heart recognized its soul mate and leapt at the excitement at being near it again.
“Ariel was born here,” Gandalf explained, with a hint of knowing in his voice. “By elvish standards she is but a child. She is only fifty years old, born on Midsummer’s Eve.”
“Midsummer’s Eve?” Gimli’s eyes widened, recognizing the significance of that date as well as Legolas.
“Yes, Midsummer’s Eve and I am standing right here you now,” the woman said impatiently.
Legolas swallowed thickly, his spirit bursting with life for the first time in fifty years. He did not know how it could be but somehow, possibly through the grace of Iluvutar or some unknown power that ensured that soul mates throughout the ages would find each other again, Melia had been returned to him in the form of this elven maid. Ariel would not know him and she would know nothing of the life they had shared together but Legolas would love her just the same because in time, she would come to love him as well, for they were meant to be.
Ariel stared at the elf before her with interest, pleasantly surprised because Frodo’s description of the Prince had not done the elf justice. She did not know why but she felt drawn to the handsome elf though he appeared a little pale upon seeing her.
“So, are you as good with that thing as they say?” She asked, glancing at the bow strapped to his back after composing her thoughts a little better.
“I have been known to be proficient,” Legolas replied softly, trying to hide the emotion in his face though Gimli and Gandalf knew all too well what he was feeling.
“Well then,” she replied with a playful lilt to her voice. “I look forward to seeing you again.”
“I doubt you will be rid of me,” Legolas could not help but remark.
Her brow arched slightly and she gave him a long stare, “I have this feeling you are going to be more trouble then you are worth.”
And with a smile that told all before him that he had truly come home, Legolas Greenleaf met Ariel’s gaze and remarked playfully, “I would say that I am not the only one.”