He had said farewell to the others of the Company with a lighter heart, knowing that only time and space, not death, would separate them. Their lives were woven together, the nine, and he thought they would not be forever parted. The years passed, and Legolas dreamed more and more of the sea as the sea claimed more of their company. Gandalf, Frodo, Sam. All had sailed into the mist.
Legolas had brought his people to the green of Ithilien. He would often stand on the shore of the Great River, looking south, listening for the cry of the gulls and the voices that came to him from the whispering of the water. Sometime he saw them there: the golden glint in Boromir’s eyes in a ripple of the Anduin, touched by the sun, or the silver sparkle of Aragorn’s crown the day of his coronation on the surface of the swift water flowing under the moon.
He smiled as he thought of Merry and Pippin and their many adventures on the river. They had returned to Gondor when they were old and lived out their days with what remained of the nine. Joyous days they had been. He and Gimli and Aragorn joined them in nights of drinking and remembering, days of walking through the woods of Ithilien telling stories, evenings of feasting and merry-making for which the hobbits had a special talent. He could still hear the songs and laughter in his mind.
The corners of Legolas’ mouth turned up as he remembered one notable day when they had all taken a picnic onto the river. Merry and Pippin had both stood up in the boat to demonstrate Boromir’s technique of teaching swordplay, which they swore had saved their lives on numerous occasions. Pippin, little sobered by age or honors, had demonstrated a bit too enthusiastically.
He had, of course, upset the boat, lunch, dwarf, king and all. Aragorn lay, gasping and laughing on the bank, listening to Merry berate Pippin about the fate of his lunch. The king had looked for a moment as young as the stripling Legolas first met and loved in Elrond’s house.
He had still seen something of that joy, that laughter, lurking in the Aragorn’s eyes when they had said their last farewells. He came to Rath Dínen where Estel had laid himself down to die. Legolas had stopped first at the two small monuments, placed side by side among the imposing marble statues and cenotaphs of stewards and nobles.
Merry and Pippin had left Middle-Earth many years ago, although their bodies remained here among the great ones of Gondor. He laid his hands lightly on the cool, pale marble as he had so often before, his fingers tracing the deeply incised letters telling of their deeds. As always, he smiled. Their passages had been easy, although he felt again the strange emptiness that first lodged in his heart with Boromir's death. Full of years, and full of stories and mischief until the end, Merry and Pippin had died at peace.
Aragorn’s passing was harder. They had shared so much, yet Legolas felt that the long story of their friendship had just begun. It was too soon. He entered the chamber where Aragorn lay and took his hand.
The king opened his eyes and smiled. Legolas saw their history in those eyes, saw the joys and perils of the years. He saw the grey of the Anduin, the light on the river, and the mists of the sea that came inexorably to part them, at least for a time.
Afterwards, Legolas came back to Ithilien and began to build a ship. Grey it was, like all the ships of his people. It would bear him from this world, his passage to the West. Now he stood on the bank of the Anduin, looking at the ship, almost complete, and heard the cries of the gulls once again in his mind.
“So, laddie, she’s almost finished.”
He turned and looked down. “Yes, almost ready.”
“And I suppose you think you’ll be leaving me soon?” Gimli, now almost as broad as he was tall, planted his hands firmly on his hips.
“I must. It is time. The sea calls me.”
“I know that. I know it, lad. But you misunderstand me. I’m coming with you.”
“But, Gimli, I thought you would want to be laid with your people in the earth when your time comes. You hate the sea.”
“True. Never did like boats, either. I remember the time young Pippin…. Well, that’s neither here nor there. I never thought I’d hear a dwarf say it, but I won’t find any rest in the earth. Boromir was the first to go to the sea, and we’ll be the last. It’s fitting. The most precious jewels aren’t under the earth and never were. The Lady taught me that.”
So Legolas and Gimli stood looking at the Anduin passing down to the sea, remembering.
Author's note: Happy birthday, Avon.