When we have shuffled off this mortal coil

Learning to Fly

1. Learning to Fly

High amid the branches of the towering mallorn that stood in the centre of Cerin Amroth, Legolas sat on the edge of an ancient white flet. Closing his eyes, he dangled his feet and breathed deeply the sweet scent of spring. Then he gazed out over the tops of the mellyrn, glowing golden red in the light of the setting sun. In the distance beyond, just visible from his high perch, Legolas could see the sward of grass that covered the hill. It was not so green as it had been in the days when it lay beneath a ring’s enchantment. Like all else in the Golden Wood, even in spring, Cerin Amroth seemed faded.

‘Yet life continues onward,’ Legolas reminded himself.

Though veiled by the taller inner-ring, he smiled at the memory of budding pale green leaves upon the branches of the snowy white trees of the outer ring -- an echo of the grin provoked by sight of them as he passed beneath. It was fitting, somehow, that on this day they should be here in this fading land amidst the burgeoning growth of spring.

Beneath him, Legolas could hear his companion singing in his deep Dwarven voice. Legolas’s smile grew as the recognized the words -- the song of the maiden Nimrodel. He thought, ‘That is fitting for this day, as well.’

The singing stopped at the very place he had faltered those many years ago when he had sung it to a weary Fellowship. Gimli’s task was complete; the time had come to finish this undertaking. Legolas closed his eyes and breathed again the sweet-scented air.

He lingered a while longer upon the flet. His companion would not mind a few extra minutes of solitude, a few extra minutes for peaceful contemplation. Finally, though, Legolas climbed nimbly down and sat beside the Dwarf.

“Ah, there you are, Elf,” Gimli greeted with a gentle smile. He understood the difficulty of this day for his friend. Though he had long planned and prepared, Legolas had only just learned of his intentions. ‘It is better this way,’ he thought, as he had countless times over the years. ‘He will be well on his way before the grief truly settles in his heart.’

Legolas returned a pensive smile, his sad eyes studying the Dwarf closely.

“I am certain,” Gimli said in answer to the unspoken question. “My place is here in Middle-earth, not in the faraway land of the Elves, though Galadriel herself be waiting upon the shore to greet me. Nay! It is here in the land of my forefathers that I shall rest most peacefully.”

“Your people will think you have sailed away with me,” said Legolas in a tone of barely-achieved stoicism.

“Indeed! And don’t you dare send them word that it is otherwise,” replied Gimli with a bark of laughter. “What a fun game that shall be, don’t you agree?”

Legolas smiled appreciatively at the Dwarf’s jest. It was so like his friend to find humour even in this. Quickly growing sober once more, Legolas asked, “But do you not wish again to see the Lady?”

At this Gimli fell silent and gazed off into the deepening tree-shadows. He drew several long puffs from his pipe before turning back to his companion.

“Nay, I see her still so clearly,” he answered, tapping his head. “Here, as she was, a golden lady amid her golden trees. I do not wish, I think, to see aught else.”

Legolas nodded thoughtfully and gazed off into the deepening tree-shadows, though the Dwarf’s deep voice continued on.

“Nay, it is better that I remain here to guard forever that piece of herself that my Lady left behind.”

Legolas closed his eyes, remembering Arwen, of whom his friend spoke. “Yes, it is fitting. The Lady will be much pleased to have such a faithful guardian watching over her.”

“Besides,” Gimli added abruptly, “I am weary.”

The bluntness of the statement brought Legolas’s eyes open with a snap. They welled with tears as he peered at his friend.

“Nay, none of that now,” Gimli gently chided. “You must think instead of the great task that lies before you.”

Legolas tilted his head curiously.

“Aye, a very great task,” the Dwarf said. “For who else among the dwellers of Valinor knows as much of the history of the Dwarves as you have learned. Indeed, much knowledge you have gained, but there is still much for you to learn. In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn.

Legolas grinned suddenly. “I see that you have learned much as well, Elvellon, for you speak like an Elf.”

Gimli laughed and said with a wink, “Ah, a plague on the lot of you and your tangled tongues.”

His smiled faded though as he added, “Come now, look to the sky, lift your spirit, and set it free. You will find your place beside the ones you love, and all the things you dreamed of, the visions that you saw, well, the time is drawing near now. Life is yours to claim in all.”

Tears trickled down Legolas's cheeks as he grasped the finality of his friend’s words. He met Gimli’s eyes, and the Dwarf nodded gently.

“Indeed, the time has come,” said Gimli. He took one final puff of his pipe, as Legolas rose from his seat on the edge of the Dwarf’s finely-carved, self-crafted tomb. Gimli lay back, smiled at his friend one last time, and closed his eyes.

Legolas watched him sleep until the first stars of evening appeared, though he knew the Dwarf’s fëa had passed with the closing of his eyes. Finally, he fitted the stone lid in place and sat up against it.

Long he remained, until at last the first rays of the dawn lit the golden leaves above him. Then he rose and left the hill Cerin Amroth, making his way to the river Anduin, and from there, to the sea.

The End.

Author's Notes:

According to the Appendices, it is only rumoured that Gimli sailed with Legolas. It is not known as fact.

“Come now, look to the sky, lift your spirit, and set it free. You will find your place beside the ones you love, and all the things you dreamed of, the visions that you saw, well, the time is drawing near now. [Life] is yours to claim in all,” is taken from the “Son of Man” written and arranged by Phil Collins.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.


In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Karri

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 02/15/06

Original Post: 05/11/05

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