Summary: Upon reaching the shores of Aman, Legolas has a task he must complete.
“And to make an end is to make a beginning.” T.S. Elliot
Slipping out of his father’s house just as the first blush of Anar’s rays bled into the horizon, Legolas breathed a sigh of relief as no sound of voice or footfall followed him. The reunion with his family was a joyous affair, full of feasting and tales, songs and dancing. It had gone on overlong, however, and Legolas had a task that he could delay no longer, else it fall into ruin.
Striding purposely, Legolas swiftly made his way back to his gray ship. He climbed aboard apprehensively, worry that he’d let his cargo sit too long unattended gnawing at him. Once on deck, however, he realized he need not have been concerned. His Teleri kinsmen had clearly tended his cargo in his absence.
I must find an opportunity to repay the favor, he thought to himself, as he shifted each bundle toward the ramp, before realizing that, in his haste, he’d given no thought toward transport. Legolas had little time to worry over the problem, however, for nearly as soon as he’d thought of it, a small, single-horsed cart drew up near the bottom of the ramp.
“Mae govannen, Legolas Thranduilion,” greeted Glorfindel, smiling warmly.
“It is you to whom I owe my thanks?” Legolas inquired, gesturing toward his many bundles.
“I would hardly see such a valued cargo suffer for the enthusiasm of your family’s greeting,” Glorfindel returned.
“I am in your debt, all the same,” responded Legolas, as he hefted up one of his many bundles. “Doubly so, for in my eagerness, I fear I gave no thought at all toward procuring transport.”
“Indeed,” laughed Glorfindel, as he hastened up the ramp to help in the shifting of the cargo. “I suspected that if you escaped at all, you would do so with such haste that you would arrive ill-supplied, as you have. Thus, I thought to leave this cart for your use,” he explained. “But, as chance would have it, I have arrived just in time to offer my own aid, as well,” he added, as he placed a bundle into the cart and turned to retrieve another.
Between the two, the cargo was soon safely stowed, leaving Legolas shifting uncomfortable beside the cart. As fortuitous as Glorfindel’s arrival had been, Legolas preferred to complete his task on his own; yet it seemed ungracious to dismiss his friend. Glorfindel chuckled as he noted his friend’s discomfort.
“Fear not, Legolas,” he reassured, “My part in this is now over; the remainder is for you alone.” Legolas grinned with relief. “I ask only that I may visit sometime when you have finished?”
Legolas’s grin broadened, as he replied, “Of course! You will be a most welcome guest.”
Satisfied, Glorfindel bade a merry farewell, and Legolas set off to complete his task. As he’d sailed, he’d prayed to Irmo to provide him what he needed for his task; then he’d prayed to Osse, just to be certain the message reached Irmo. Thus Legolas was certain a place had been granted him; he just wasn’t certain where that place was, so he let the reins hang loosely in his hands, allowing the horse to be guided by other than himself.
Butterflies of doubt fluttered through Legolas as the cart neared his father’s home, but then the horse turned, plodding toward a thick stretch of forest to the east of the house. Carefully navigating through the trees, the cart was soon climbing a gently sloping heavily-wooded hill. Cresting the top, Legolas found himself upon the edge of a wide meadow, broken only by a small, lazy stream meandering through the middle, down from the higher trees above toward his father’s house below.
I could have asked for no more perfect a place! he thought. “Thank you, my lords, for granting my prayer,” he whispered aloud, before jumping down from the cart and climbing a tall oak to better survey the meadow.
It didn’t take long for him to make his plan, but Legolas stayed in the tree a while, anyway. He’d grown used to his own company by the time he’d finally reached the shores of Aman, and so, though he was as overjoyed as his family to be reunited, this moment of quiet stillness was a most-welcome gift.
A sanctuary, he mused, I do hope it shall become just that… And with a sigh, made his way back to the ground.
Draping a hand across the horse’s neck, Legolas led it through lush growths of elanor, lissuin and niphredil until he’d reached the stream. There he stopped the cart and lifted a long, thin bundle from its bed. He quickly unwrapped the bundle, revealing a beautifully crafted spade – a gift from Gimli Evellon, given not long after he had returned to Ithilien with the elves that would help him heal that land.
Spade ready in hand, Legolas stepped across the slow-moving water, and carefully paced eighteen yards further. He struck the ground there to mark the spot, before turning parallel to the stream and pacing out nine yards to one side of the mark, marked the new spot, then paced eighteen yards further, before turning toward the stream and pacing forward nine more yards. He marked the spot, turned back toward the stream and strolled forward until he’d crossed the water. Then, once again, he paced forward nine yards, marked the spot, paced another nine yards, and then turned back toward his cart, paced eighteen yards, marked the spot, paced none more yards, then turned away from the stream, pace nine yards, marked the spots, turned parallel to the stream, in the direction of the cart, paced nine more yards, marked the spot, paced another none yards, marked the spot, then turned back toward his original mark and strolled towards it.
It was to his relief and pleasure that he reached his original mark without having to deviant from the line he’d marked in his head as he walked. Upon reaching his point of origin, Legolas began the process again in the other direction, until he found himself back across the stream on the mark opposite his original point. He then dashed back to his cart, stood atop it and surveyed his work. Though not quite high enough for a proper perspective, he decided he’d managed the task well enough and hopped back down.
Legolas led the horse and cart forward to his second mark and pulled out his spade. First he widened the mark into a hole, then, leaving the spade in the dirt spoil, he returned to the cart for a bucket of water, which he dumped into the hole, and then returned again to retrieve the first of the tall swaying bundles that had waited so patiently. He eased it gently into the soggy hole, packed the spoil around it, and then added a bit more water for good measure. He then took a step back to admire the beautiful sapling, lovingly stroking the smooth white bark and brushing his fingers lightly over the dark green and silver leaves.
“Eldarion gifted me the seedling, my friend, and it has grown into a fine sapling,” Legolas announced, addressing the tree. “I hope when someday he meets you again beyond the confines of the world that he will tell you of it and that you will not mind I brought it with me here.”
Closing his eyes, Legolas allowed his mind to drift back to a memory of shaggy brown locks falling over vibrant silver eyes. The vision soon began to shift to a later image, but Legolas quickly opened his eyes before it could fully form and refocused on his task. Grabbing up his spade, he move to the next mark, dug his next hole, and planted his next sapling.
“Thin you are now, young one, and sparse are your leaves,” he patiently informed the tree, as he gently ran his hand over the soft, supple stem, “but one day you will be mighty -- the mightiest of all the trees that ever sprouted in the great Greenwood, for you shall never know the shadow that plague the tree from whence your acorn fell.”
Legolas graced the tree with a smile, and then moved hastily along to his next hole. He did not wish to linger in memories of the great Greenwood, or even of Mirkwood, as it had become known, for he’d too easily become lost in them.
“Tall and majestic you shall be one day, neldorlaes,” he announced to the next sapling as he ran his fingers over the silky young beech leaves, “as befits a remnant of Imladris.”
He smiled as an image of the last homely house came to mind unbidden, but the expression soon faded as his memory drifted to his finally visit to the hidden valley, and the cold loneliness of its empty halls. With a sigh, Legolas withdrew his hand and shifted his attention to his next hole.
A grin returned to his face as he placed his next sapling in the ground. “May you someday have an opportunity to meet your benefactors,” he bade the young rowan, “for I would not have thought to include one such as you had Fangorn and Quickbeam not offered you to me.” As before, though, the smile soon faded. “I should like to meet them again someday, myself,” he added pensively.
His pensive mood deepened as he moved to the next hole and the next sapling. Gimli had bid him include this one, and it was for that reason only that Legolas had done so. He did not caress the dark, spiny leaves of this one once he finished planting, yet he could not seem to tear himself away from gazing it, nor stem the tide of memories that now flowed unbidden, many of which were cold and dark.
“Yet, were it not for my journey there and all that befell after, I would never have known your friendship, Gimli Evellon,” he reminded the tree, “and that I would not trade away.”
Finally turning away from the tree, and its many associations, Legolas moved on to the next hole, and, at last, his expression lightened once more. He did not run his fingers over the soft needles of the pine as finished, for fear of displacing the delicate spines, but he smiled upon it.
“Your birthplace never flourished as much as I had hoped it would,” he admitted with chagrin. “But it thrived for a while, and Faramir once assured me that the elves brought more beauty back to it than he’d ever believed possible,” Legolas reminded himself, his smile growing pensive, once more. “I must find solace in that, I think, and believe our sojourn there worthwhile, for indeed the friendships formed there were most worthwhile.”
Another sigh escaped him as Legolas moved on to the next hole. This sapling, too, brightened his expression almost to the verge of laughter as it brought to mind tales of the Shire told him by his dear hobbit friends.
“I did not visit the Shire, though I oft thought of it,” he regretfully informed the tree, as she stroked its young leaves, “but so vivid were their stories, I sometimes feel as if I did.” Withdrawing his hand, Legolas bowed to the tree. “I am so glad that Merry and Pippin brought you to me before departing.”
Legolas smiled once more at the memory of the hobbits, before moving along to the final hole that would complete his circle of saplings. He bit back the sigh this sapling provoked and focused on finishing the planting, for he fear the emotions it evoked might swallow him whole if he dwelled to deeply upon them.
“Arwen…” he whispered softly, stroking the smooth silver bark of the sapling. Despite its young, green leaves, in his mind, Legolas saw only the golden leaves of Lothlorien. “I cannot fault you for your choice, for you were the light of Aragorn’s life…but… if only…” He did not bother sorting out the remainder of his thought, for it was pointless to ponder the ifs and buts of Arwen choice. Still, he could not forget her sorrow in the end.
“I should not delay overlong in visiting Elrond’s household,” he mused as a means of forcing his thoughts elsewhere.
Moving back to the cart, Legolas found another distraction, as with a smile, he remembered his remaining cargo. Then he frowned, uncertain how to proceed. He did not muse long on the problem, however, for he had departed his father’s house very early, and it was now growing late. His belly was requesting he return soon to the feasting, his limbs were requesting he return soon to a warm bed, and, he did not doubt, soon his father would be requesting the return of his company.
In the end, Legolas decided to simply hope for the best and, after jamming his spade beneath one of the rear wheels, he jumped into the back of the cart. Lifting one end of his heaviest bundle, he dragged it to the end of the cart, and then jumped back down again, intending to try to lift it out from the ground.
“Surely, you will injure yourself, the cart, the horse, or at the very least, whatever lay beneath the covering doing it that way, ion-nin,” came a voice from behind that nearly made Legolas jump out of his skin. Turning, he glowered at his father.
Thranduil’s smiled apologetically, before continuing, “Jump back up and hold of the other side, and I shall help you lift it down.”
Legolas nodded appreciatively, jumping back up, and soon the bundle was had been set safely upon the grown.
“Thank you, Adar,” Legolas bade gratefully, as he removed the covering. Forgetting his father for a moment, a smile lit his face and Legolas lovingly traced the lines of the stone, finely carved into graceful vines and leaves that formed a sturdy, welcoming bench – Gimli’s final gift to him. It was exactly what his sanctuary needed; now it was complete, and with its completion, Legolas felt the heavy weight upon his heart seep away, as though each sapling were taking from him a share of that burden, until it was no more.
“I am glad to have been of service, Lassen,” Thranduil replied, as his eyes pensively studied his son. Legolas had landed upon the shores of Aman so thin and wan and weary that, upon his first glance, fear that grief would yet take his son had begun to grow in Thranduil’s heart.
“You fear I am holding to the past, instead of looking forward to what is to come,” Legolas surmised, feeling his father’s gaze, “but it is not so, Adar.” Turning to face his father directly, Legolas continued, “This garden is a memory of what was, but equally it is the beginning of what will be; it shall grow and flourish here in Aman, becoming grander and more glorious than ever it could have in the lands of its origin…as, someday, shall I. So, you see, you need not worry for me any longer, Adar.”
“Indeed,” replied Thranduil, with a smile as he finished his scrutiny and met his son’s eyes. “Even now I can see it begins to flourish.”
Neldorlaes – beech sapling
Lassen – my leaf