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One Title: Your Story

A Fairy Tale, Middle-Earth style

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Heart Break

Rating: G

Summary: Legolas, while suffering from the Sea-longing, receives comfort from an unexpected source. Written for the Teitho February challenge, “Heartbreak.”

The water was cold, even for an elf. Legolas stood on the wet sand, the water just brushing his ankles with every wave that broke upon the shore. He gazed out at the horizon. Arien was just finishing her daily trek westward. Westward. Across the sea.

Legolas moved away from the tide and sat down. The sea had been on his mind of late. Indeed, it had not left his thoughts since the day he heard the seagulls’ cry, just as the Lady had warned him. The war was over; Sauron had been defeated. Aragorn had claimed the kingship of all Gondor and Arnor, and already the reunited kingdom was flourishing under his care. The man had achieved his dream and married the Evenstar…but that, too, weighed on Legolas’ mind.

It was not that he wanted Arwen for himself---he loved her dearly, but as a friend, not a lover. He was delighted that she and Aragorn had found joy, for a time. Yet, in sharing his and Arwen’s joy, Legolas almost felt like a traitor to the Peredhel family. He had been friends with Elladan and Elrohir long before Aragorn was born. He had sought to comfort them after their mother sailed. Master Elrond, too, had always been kind to him, and had treated his wounds on numerous occasions. How could Legolas be happy for a union that brought these dear friends such pain? Master Elrond had sailed already, and had reunited with his wife, but he would never see his daughter again---at least not as long as Arda remained. Legolas only hoped that the bliss of the Undying Lands could heal the Peredhil’s heart, and those of his sons, whenever their time came to sail.

Sail---there it was again. Always on his thoughts. How long could he resist the urge? Surely for Aragorn’s lifetime, at least. And Gimli’s, he hoped. He could not leave his friends now, not after everything they had been through together. Only the Halls of Mandos, and whatever lay beyond for Mortals, could separate the Three Hunters for long.

Mandos. Vala. West. Legolas buried his head between his knees in frustration. Could he not go two minutes without such thoughts intruding? They were driving him mad. Always there, waking or sleeping, as constant as the waves he could even now hear breaking.

But if he left these shores he could never return. Never tease Aragorn about his inferior human hearing. Never listen to Gimli drone on about the wonders of the Glittering Caves. Never share a merry meal with hobbits. These were all mortal folk, and their lives would pass before long. But even then, he would feel torn. Middle Earth was his home. There was Greenwood, full of darkness no longer and newly renamed Eryn Lasgalen, and Ithillien, with its hills and trees. Trees. Legolas knew there were trees in the Undying Lands, certainly, but were they the same? Did Tol Eressëa ring with the familiar songs of elm and beech? And they must be so old---perhaps some even remembered the light of the greatest Two Trees ever made. Would such stately trees deign to let a Wood Elf climb into their branches?

The salty drops of water on Legolas’ face did not come from the Sea. Yet melancholy soon gave way to terror. It seemed that a great figure emerged from the water, one with it and yet separate. It did not feel evil---not at all. But it was overwhelming in its majesty and power, and Legolas, brave warrior though he was, shrank back.

“Do not be afraid, Legolas Thranduillion.” The voice was deep and booming, but carried a note of----tenderness? Slowly, Legolas looked up. The figure had materialized fully, and was now walking up onto the shore. It, or rather he, was fairer than the fairest of elves, and shone with a radiance that made even the likes of Lady Galadriel and Lord Glorfindel seem like candles in the light of the noon-day sun.

“My-my lord.” Legolas spoke with a trembling voice. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t possibly be who he thought it was---could it?

“Yes, child.” The figure said with a smile. “I am the one you know as Ulmo.”

Legolas barely had the presence of mind to stand and bow to the vala. A vala! Here on the shores of Middle Earth! And none other than Lord Ulmo, who by all accounts stayed mainly unclad, and rarely left the depths of the waters.

“Be at ease, child. Please be seated. I wish only to talk, and to listen.”

Legolas slowly sank back down onto the sand. He did not know what to say, or even whether he should speak at all. “Thank you, my lord. You-you wish to speak with me?”

Ulmo sat down also, sprawling out on the sand---much to the surprise of the elf in front of him. “Yes, child.” His voice was soft now. Soothing. “We Valar have not taken any direct part in the affairs of Middle Earth of late, only for fear of causing yet more grief, but do not think we have forgotten you. We watch over all of our Father’s children. Our messengers have told us of the Quest and of your part in it. We are so proud of you! I sensed when you heard the cries of the gulls and began to yearn for the sea, and for what lies beyond it. My fëa rejoiced to know that you would soon be coming home, to where you belong. Yet you have been resisting the call, and it brings you grief. This saddens my heart, for the Sea-longing should bring only joy to one of the Firstborn, now that Sauron is vanquished and the lands you so love are in good hands. Tell me, child, what makes you hesitate?”

Legolas could not meet the vala’s eyes. “My lord, I mean no disrespect. I am truly grateful for the gift of you and your brethren to my people, and I am humbled by your concern for me. I truly long to sail your waters, but…”

Legolas was truly mortified to realize that he was suddenly sitting in the lap of the Lord of Waters and sobbing into the vala’s shoulder.

Said vala, however, merely hugged the ellon to himself, rubbing soothing circles on his back. “I know, child, I know. Do not fret so; I am not offended. Truly, though, you will find peace in the West. The trees there are not so different from the ones you have known, and I am certain they would love to make your acquaintance. More importantly, though, you will be at home among the other elves---and among us. But if you are not yet ready to leave your mortal friends, we understand. You and young Aragorn have been through many hardships together---it is only fitting that you share in his and Arwen’s joy. And do not think the Peredhel family could begrudge you or them any joy---Elrond loves Aragorn as a son, as well you know.”

Legolas relaxed a little. What the vala said was true. And yet…"But what about Gimli? The lives of his people are longer than those of men, and I do not know how long I can resist the Sea-longing.”

“Then bring him with you.”

Legolas stared open-mouthed at the vala. Surely he was jesting. Only the Firstborn were permitted to traverse the Straight Road across the Sundering Sea.

“There are always exceptions, child, or have you forgotten your hobbit friend and his elderly cousin?”

“No, my lord. But I thought that they were allowed because they were Ringbearers, and there is no bad blood between their kind and mine, as there is with Dwarves.”

“Perhaps, but it is for the Lords of the West, not the elves, to decide who may or may not enter our

realm---although our Father has barred Men from the West because their hearts are too prone to forsake His gift and long for what they cannot have. But your Dwarf friend holds no aspirations to immortality that I can perceive, and surely he should have some respite after the perilous Quest you both undertook. And to be sure, my brother Aulë would be delighted to have a Dwarf dwelling in the West. Indeed, he has hardly stopped talking about his desire to meet Gloin’s son.”

Legolas dared to meet the vala’s eyes, and saw only sincerity and compassion. “My lord, you have given me much to think on, but already my heart is greatly eased. How can I ever thank you?”

“Simply come West when the time is right, and bring your Dwarf friend with you.” The vala rose to his feet. “Namarië, Legolas Thranduillion! May you rest in our Father’s keeping until we meet again!” He stepped out into the waters and was gone as suddenly as he had appeared. Legolas looked out across the sea with a smile, and then slowly walked away.

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