29. To The Sea
The party was over, Caladwen was in her room and Eowyn was in Faramir's arms. His sleep was light as a vision came to him that night. He was visited by the same she-elf that Eowyn had dreamt of. He was standing at the entrance to a garden, Eowyn's garden in Ithilien. Flowers were in bloom and the grass was green. Everything was as it should be except for one tree. Dead brown leaves lay beneath the withering branches. It's bark seemed to be splitting and peeling. The tree was dead.
Faramir looked on as the beautiful elleth in white stood next to him. His heart was breaking for this dead tree and he did not know why. "What has happened here?" he asked.
"The tree is dead. The one that tended it has left with the rest of his kin. He gave life to this tree by nurturing it. He poured his heart into it. But without him, it could not survive." She turned to Faramir looking upon his handsome face. "You see, things were very busy and hectic in the end. He meant to do this one last thing before he left but he put it off time and time again. He did not release the tree from his care. He loved it so much, he smothered it. When this person left, the tree did not know how to survive without him and it died all because he did not let go. Sometimes when we love something so strongly, we must set it free to see what it will do on its own."
Faramir studied the scene before him. "Eowyn is the tree isn't she? You are telling me to let her go. She stays because of me, because of my love for her. I have hindered her choice and stolen her freedom in the process."
The elleth smiled. "You are very wise Lord Faramir. I think you understand now. Go in peace and with love in your heart." She walked away and disappeared into a mist leaving Faramir alone with his thoughts.
The morning arrived much too soon. Faramir blinked and focused on the light streaming in from the terrace. Eowyn was standing there, looking out onto the Golden Woods of Lorien. He got up and went to her, wrapping his arms around her waist. She closed her eyes as he laid soft kisses upon her neck. "Good morning, my love. How did you sleep?" he asked.
"I didn't. My dreams kept my mind busy and I was restless."
It was funny to him that she mentioned dreams. He remembered the one he had last night. As he held Eowyn in his arms, he could not see how he could let her go. He loved her. They were to marry again. Eowyn said she chose him to spend her life with. Why would he let go of her now when everything seemed to be as it should? He pushed these thoughts to the side. There were other things to think about. Today, Legolas was leaving and Eowyn would need Faramir to help her through.
"We should be on our way. Our guests will be leaving soon." Faramir said kissing her once more to the side of her neck. "I'll wake Caladwen and get her ready. You just worry about yourself this morning."
Eowyn turned to Faramir and held his face in her hands. "Thank you. Thank you for being there for me." They kissed deeply, tongues twirling as they did. "I love you, Faramir."
Legolas was gathering the few things he brought with him. Gimli and a small company of Ithilien Elves waited with him. They would travel together until their roads divided. Legolas and Gimli would make for the shore where their ship awaited them. The rest would return to Ithilien. The journey would be a solemn one, for the Elves knew their Prince was leaving. Gimli made sure not to stray too far from his friend. He knew Legolas would need him.
Haldir and his brothers waited to escort the company to the borders where their horses awaited them. They did not know one more would be joining them.
Eowyn, Faramir and Caladwen approached the travelers. Eowyn held her head high and silently swore to keep her composure intact until the return from the borders. This time she would see them off. She told Faramir of her plans and he agreed to keep Caladwen with him. She would only be gone for the day. They would see her just after the sun set. Faramir knew this was something she had to do and he would not stop her.
Eowyn approached Legolas carrying Caladwen in her arms. "I guess this is it then." she said handing their daughter to Legolas. As he held her, he brushed her long golden hair from her face.
"I will miss you, henen. I want you to know that I love you very much. I hope you remember this time we've spent together." he said with a tear threatening to escape the corner of his eye.
Caladwen was told many times about this day. She never really understood what it meant but now she did. And for the first time she said, "I love you, ada."
Eowyn looked away as she lost control of her emotions. Silent tears streaked her face as she watched Caladwen wrap her small arms around Legolas' neck and kiss him on the cheek. She held him there for a moment longer before returning her gaze on him. "Will you be in the stars, ada?"
Legolas smiled. "Yes, pen dithen. I will be there looking down on you. If ever you need me, just look up in the night sky. I will hear you."
They hugged once more and Legolas felt moisture on his neck. Caladwen was crying. His heart was breaking. Nothing could have prepared him for this moment.
"Listen to Mama and Faramir. Be good, my daughter. I love you." Legolas' voice wavered as he spoke.
Eowyn reached out and took Caladwen in her arms as she cried. She comforted her daughter and watched as Faramir stepped up to Legolas.
Faramir bowed to Legolas in true elvish fashion. "Legolas, I have been honored to be your friend through the years. I have not forgotten your words and I will do everything you ask of me. Caladwen will know you even though you will not be here. I will make sure of this. Goodbye my friend. I hope you find what you are looking for."
Legolas smiled slightly. "Thank you Faramir. I know you will be a wonderful father to Caladwen. Take care of Eowyn. I know my heart will rest knowing she is not alone."
Legolas looked to Eowyn. This would be the hardest part, saying goodbye to her. He watched as she handed Caladwen to Faramir. She picked up a pack from the ground and slung it over her back. "Are we ready?" she asked, giving no explanation.
Haldir looked at her, confusion on his face. "My lady, what do you think you are doing?" he said sternly. "Surely you are not going? It is already a day's travel. You will only slow us down."
Eowyn glared at the Marchwarden, daggers flying from the slits of her eyes. "I am going."
Legolas laid a hand on her shoulder. "You should not go. Let us say our goodbyes here. Caladwen will need you."
"My mind is made, Legolas. I am going. You cannot stop me this time. These are our last moments together. I will see you off at the borders." she said emphatically. Legolas knew she would not take 'no' for an answer. The Shieldmaiden had made her appearance.
Haldir stepped up to her. "I think it would be wise of you to stay. In the end it will be better for all."
Legolas flinched as he watched Eowyn take a deep breath. Haldir made a fatal mistake.
"I have had about enough of your arrogance. You may be the Marchwarden of Lorien but you do not tell me what to do. I am a Shieldmaiden of Rohan, the Lady of Emyn Arnen. I annihilated a Nazgul for Eru's sake, and I will take you down next if you stand in the way of my decision. I AM GOING."
Haldir stood his ground. Rumil and Orophin backed up. Legolas was ready to intervene. Faramir was ready to cover Caladwen's eyes if things were to turn ugly. It was a tense moment. The two stared at each other for an uncomfortably long moment.
"Very well, my lady." Haldir said reluctantly. "I heard what you did to that black dragon and I would very much like to keep my head."
Everyone let go of the breath they were holding. The only sound was that of a child's giggle. Caladwen liked seeing Haldir be ordered around by her mother. "Haldir is in trouble." she whispered to Faramir.
The moment passed and everyone came back to the situation at hand. Eowyn went to Faramir and Caladwen, kissing them both. "I will be back tomorrow. Don't you worry." she said and then joined the company of Elves.
As they set off, Gimli came up next to Eowyn. "Very well said, my lady. I could not have put it better myself. It's about time someone put that stuffy Elf in his place." he chuckled.
Haldir overheard them. "Watch your tongue Dwarf or I shall have the joy of blindfolding you one last time."
The trip to the borders was long and quiet. Haldir led the way, followed by Rumil and Orophin. Gimli traveled with some of the Ithilien Elves he had recently made friends with. Legolas and Eowyn tended to hang back slightly from the rest. They walked side by side, reminiscing about days long past. She told him of her pregnancy and the day she gave birth to their daughter. Legolas, she thought, was absolutely glowing with pride as she spoke about Caladwen's accomplishments in her first few years of life.
"She is half-elven and will learn faster than a human. You should know that she will grow at the same rate. However, by her human adult years she will seem to stop aging to your eyes. This may be a very trying time for her as her human friends will continue to age. She may need the advice of one who knows of this burden. Arwen may be of some help. Don't ever be afraid to go to her." Legolas worried for his daughter during this time of her life.
"She has already offered." Eowyn said. Arwen had already talked to her about some of the things Caladwen would face one day. "I also know of her Deciding Day, the day when she must choose to remain here and become mortal or to sail to Valinor and live forever with her elven kin. I can only wish to be there for her then, but I know I will be long gone from this world by the time that day arrives. It hurts to know your child must one day face such a tough decision alone. I guess we have all had to make tough decisions of some sort on our own. I have been without my parents since I was very young and most of my trials were accomplished with no outside help, save Eomer. I know she will be fine. She won't be alone."
"What do you mean?" Legolas asked curiously.
Eowyn smiled. "There is one among us who has sworn guardianship over her." She glanced up ahead to the company's leader.
Legolas followed her line of sight. "Haldir? I know of no such promise. What have you heard of this?"
"Haldir has taken it upon himself to be her protector. He has been a guardian of the Lady Galadriel and Lothlorien longer than I can imagine, but the Lady is long gone and her fair land slowly fades. Evil has been destroyed and the threat expelled. His title becomes less important and he feels he is no longer needed. He will become lost if he cannot do the only thing he knows how to do. He stays while Celeborn remains and will not sail before his lord. Haldir simply does not know how to live free. But Caladwen brings new hope for many and for Haldir it is another chance to show his talents. Therefore, he has become her ever watchful guardian."
A crease formed on Legolas' brow. "I sensed that about him since I first came here. He has been extremely protective of Caladwen."
"And as she gets older, he will become more so. Something tells me he will be her sentinel until her Deciding Day." Eowyn smiled as she glanced to Haldir.
The border was within their sight now. The time had come for the travelers to bid their farewells. The others would go no further. Eowyn's heart felt like it would beat out of her chest. She had been dreading this moment for years.
While the others readied their horses, Eowyn and Legolas took a moment to hide away from the others. One last private moment was all they were allowed. He would be gone after this and she would never see him again. There was something on her mind that she needed to tell him.
"I must admit something to you. It is something that has saddened my heart for a long time now." she started. "It is about the jewel you gifted me. I'm afraid I have lost it. I was wearing it the day I was attacked."
"Do not be troubled meleth." Legolas said as he reached inside his tunic. He pulled out the green leaf shaped jewel and placed it around her neck once more. "I found it hidden amongst the leaves in your garden and have kept it for you ever since. I should have given it to you sooner but with everything that happened it slipped my mind."
Eowyn was shocked to see it again. "It was the one thing I wanted most for I wish to give it to our daughter one day. I am so relieved you found it." she said. Eowyn studied the necklace a moment as her mind went back to the one thing she wished to ask him. Tell him. Tell him now before it is too late and you regret this for the rest of your life.
"Legolas?" she started but again the words disappeared from her mind. "I wish you would not leave." These were not the correct words that would break the spell. Once again she failed to voice her feelings.
"I wish it were different also. This may be the hardest thing I've ever done or will ever do. I know in my heart that you will go on. You have Faramir waiting for you and Caladwen will never leave your side. She learns much from you, Eowyn, more than you realize. Every decision you make is an example of how she is to live her own life one day." Legolas wrapped his arms around Eowyn and pulled her into his embrace. He took in her scent and the feel of her warmth. His soul reached out to hers one last time and they were caught in each others eyes.
Eowyn's mind screamed out. Don't go. Don't leave me. I still need you. The words would not pass her lips. However, Legolas read it in her eyes. He longed to hear her say these words but knew she would not. She had promised to never stand in his way or hinder him at all. But it would be nice to just hear her speak them aloud he thought. Maybe if she asked this of him, he would have no choice but to obey her. Of course it was just one last desperate wish to be with her.
Legolas lowered his head to her and drew her in for a last kiss. Her lips were soft and warm as they were when they first indulged in this intimacy at Helm's Deep so long ago. He stopped though and looked upon her forlorn face. "We should not do this. I do not mean to disrespect you or Faramir."
Eowyn tucked his braid behind his ear. "It is merely a kiss, one last kiss amongst friends and former lovers. I will never have this opportunity again." She drew his mouth down to hers and poured every emotion into this last kiss.
Legolas could taste the saltiness of her tears on her lips. He gently wiped them away with his thumbs and held her face in his hands. "I love you, meleth nin. I will always love you and I have no regrets."
His words were like fire on her heart for she knew she could not say the same. She would always regret letting him go so easily but she just couldn't find the will to fight for him. It was his time to go, to sail to the Undying Lands and look upon their mysteries before he faded. "I love you, Legolas Thranduilion, forever."
They parted and walked hand in hand back to the rest of the company. Gimli waited for her then he bowed. "Goodbye, Lady Eowyn. Take care of yourself and that beautiful little princess of yours. She is a fine lass and will grow to be just like her mother."
"Goodbye, Gimli." she said and leaned down to kiss the top of his hairy head. She whispered to him. "I'm glad you are going with Legolas. Take care of him. He will need you now more than ever."
"Yes, my lady. I certainly will, don't you worry." he said and went to Legolas' horse.
Legolas and Eowyn stood another moment, looking upon each other. "It is time, meleth nin. We must be on our way. Goodbye beautiful Eowyn. Do not grieve for me for I go to find the stars. It is there that I shall relinquish my love for you. It will ever shine down upon you." He kissed her once more. "No galu govad gen. May blessings go with you, Eowyn of Rohan, my beautiful Shieldmaiden."
"I hope you find what you seek in Valinor. I Melain berio le. May the Valar keep you. I hope they will change your fate and save you from your fading. I love you, my shining Prince of Mirkwood." Eowyn said returning his kiss.
Legolas turned to walk away. Eowyn stood still and slowly let their joined hands slip apart. As soon as their connection was broken they felt the loss. His heart could stand it no more. The feeling of fading hit him tenfold and he thought he could have died right then. But Legolas stayed strong and showed no sign of his devastation. He simply smiled to her one last time as he mounted his horse. "Namarie." (Farewell) he called to her and trotted off to join the rest of his elven company.
Eowyn stood there and watched Legolas and the others until she could see them no more. It wasn't until he was out of sight that she finally broke down and let her sorrow overcome her. Haldir and his brothers stood by, giving her this moment to mourn. Then Haldir embraced her in his strong arms. He nuzzled her head against his chest and kissed the top of her head. He whispered to her in elvish, trying to comfort her in her grief. Rumil and Orophin joined them, wrapping their arms around her also. She was surrounded by these remarkable Elves who seemed to make a cocoon around her, protecting her, reassuring her that all would be well. They let her cry until she had no tears left. When they released her from their warm embrace, each one took a turn to lay a gentle kiss on her forehead. Eowyn felt their strength emit from their bodies and enter hers. It was truly Elf magic that got her through that first moment of sorrow. She would never have found the strength to get back home if it wasn't for these three beautiful brothers of the Golden Wood. They turned back towards the way they came and made their way back. No one spoke a word during their return journey. The further they went into the forest, the less Eowyn could feel Legolas' spirit. He was gone and Eowyn thought she could have faded herself.
By the time they were home, Eowyn was spent. Her legs hurt from the long walk. She was tired and worn. There was hardly any strength left in her and she would have collapsed where she was if it wasn't for Haldir. He picked her up in his arms and carried her to her talan.
Faramir was waiting as he said he would be. Caladwen was in the care of some of the ellith and not at their home. It was for the best. Faramir wouldn't want her seeing Eowyn this way. He looked upon his love and saw the despair on her countenance. A slight twinge of guilt flared up in the back of his mind. Maybe he should have let her go as the she-elf told him to.
Haldir entered the talan and carried Eowyn to her bed. He laid her down with the greatest of ease then whispered in her ear. "Sleep well, Shieldmaiden. You are home and surrounded by those who love you most. Tomorrow will bring new hope to your troubled mind."
The Marchwarden looked at Faramir. "She will sleep soundly this night. It is the morning which will be the hardest. Be there for her. She needs you now more than ever, Faramir. They both will. I'm afraid Caladwen will sense her father's loss also."
"Thank you Haldir. Thank you for watching over Eowyn and bringing her home safely. I was afraid she might not return." Faramir admitted.
"She loves the Prince very much but she can not follow him and she chose not to stop him."
"What do you speak of?" Faramir asked.
"I could feel her mind. She wanted to ask him to stay but she gave up that right and let him go. Eowyn is of strong mind and will. She does what she thinks is best." Haldir answered. "She will recover slowly but she will eventually emerge from her anguish. Her soul will suffer the most, I'm afraid. But I think you will help her with that." Haldir turned to leave. "I will check on her tomorrow."
Eowyn never woke up and Faramir went to retrieve Caladwen. It was evening by now and he put the child to bed. She wanted to see her mother but he told her she'd see her in the morning. After making himself a cup of tea and a small meal, he checked on Caladwen once more before he himself retired for the evening. Eowyn was in a deep sleep. He crawled into bed and contoured his body to hers. He held her all night. Only once did she cry out in the night.
"Don't go Legolas. Please stay. Please?" she repeated. Faramir pulled her tighter to him and whispered his love for her into her ear which calmed her. She had been dreaming but he knew it was more than that. She was yelling the words that she should have said back at the borders.
He thought of his dream of the dying tree. It never had a chance to live freely, always dependent upon another. He hoped this would not happen to Eowyn. His love for her was far too great to ever let her despair. He would just have to make sure she knew how much he loved her. He knew what it was he must do to prove it to her.
The next few days were difficult. Eowyn stayed in bed until late in the morning. When she finally got up, she would stroll down to the garden with Caladwen. While the child played, Eowyn just sat on a bench staring up into the trees. Faramir approached her and she didn't even notice.
"Are you alright my love?" he said in a whisper.
Without looking at him she answered. "I don't know what is wrong with me. I knew this would be difficult but I didn't expect these feelings. My soul seems lost. It is calling out but no one is there."
"But I am here. I love you Eowyn. Let me be your crutch. Let me be your shoulder to cry on." he begged.
"I'm sorry I have not been myself lately. It will pass. It's just a stage of mourning." she said smiling at Faramir but he was not convinced. He had a feeling part of her was missing and was afraid it may never come back. He hated seeing her like this and guilt once again rose in the back of his mind.
While they sat together, Faramir holding her in his arms, Caladwen came to them holding a golden bell-shaped flower in her tiny hands. She gave it to Eowyn. "Look Mama. A pretty flower."
"Yes, pen dithen. It is called mallos. It means gold blossom and it is very beautiful, just like you." Eowyn said as Caladwen climbed into her lap.
"It was ada's favorite. He told me so." she said looking up at her mother. Suddenly her eyes filled with tears. "I miss ada. I want him back." she cried and buried her face in Eowyn chest. Eowyn kissed her head and held her tight.
"I know, my child. Mama misses him too." Eowyn could no longer hold back her tears.
Faramir's heart was breaking for them. This just wasn't fair. Caladwen should not have to grow up without her father. Certainly something could be done to change the course of things. That's when he remembered Haldir's words. She wanted to ask him to stay but instead she remained silent. What if she had? Would Legolas stay? Would Caladwen have her father? Would Eowyn change her mind and go to Legolas?
It was a chance Faramir was willing to take. If she didn't do this, she would definitely wither away like the tree. She must be set free. He loved her too much to keep her all to himself. "Eowyn, my love, I cannot stand to see you hurting so. I once told you I would never stop proving how much I love you. I find myself once more needing to do just that."
Eowyn faced him, tears running down her face as she held her daughter. "What are you saying?"
"Go to him, Eowyn. Go to him before it is too late. You and I both know there can be no regrets. The other night, I dreamt of an Elf in white and it has plagued me ever since. She said if I loved you enough, I should set you free. I have your heart, Eowyn but Legolas has your soul. I'm afraid if I don't let you go, I will never have both. I love you more than life itself and Caladwen too, but I cannot sit by and watch you wither."
Eowyn was shocked by his words but one part in particular. "This elleth you speak of, I have dreamt of her also. She said similar words to me about proving your love by setting one free. But I did not understand at the time."
"Eowyn, did you ever set Legolas free?" Faramir asked.
"Of course I did. It is why he left. I did not stop him." she answered.
"Maybe he is not truly free yet. You must go, my love. Go to him while there is still time." Faramir insisted. He knew by telling her to do this he was risking to lose her but it was a chance he was willing to take.
Eowyn didn't understand at first. She thought she set Legolas free by not stopping him from leaving. Maybe she was supposed to stop him. She thought of the elleth's words. He leaves because he has not been asked to stay… with the right tool… tool. She thought about this as she looked at her daughter. Suddenly the answer struck her. "I know what I must do." She left Faramir in the garden and with Caladwen in her arms, went to her talan. She grabbed a few items and stuffed them in her pack.
"Where are you going Mama?" Caladwen asked worriedly.
"I'm going to find ada and if I'm successful you will see him again." Eowyn said as she kissed her daughter. "You have to stay here with Faramir and Haldir and I will be back as soon as I can. I love you pen dithen and I'm doing this for you because I love you so much."
"I love you too, Mama." she whispered.
Eowyn grabbed her pack, lifted Caladwen to her shoulder and went straight to Haldir's talan. He was sitting at his table. "I need to know where to find Legolas' ship."
Haldir gave her a stolid expression and Eowyn was ready to put up another fight. Surprisingly, Haldir said nothing to stop her. He simply reached for a piece of parchment and mapped out a course for her to follow. When he was done, he slid it across the table towards her. As she reached for it he snatched it back. Eowyn looked Haldir squarely in the eyes, her defenses up.
"I can lead you to him." he stated plainly.
"I need you to stay here and help take care of Caladwen." she told the Elf. He nodded and handed her the map.
"Be careful, my lady. Oh and you might need this. It is at least a week's journey." Haldir brought a package out from a basket sitting to the side of the table. It was wrapped in leaves and tied with a bit of twine. "It is elvish waybread. It will sustain you and give you strength for your trip. Eat it sparingly. It doesn't take much to satisfy the appetite."
Eowyn looked in awe at this hardened warrior before her. "You never cease to amaze me, Haldir. When I think I will have to challenge you, I am met with accommodations."
"Good." he answered with a sly smile. "Then it won't surprise you that I am not going to let you go alone."
"I need you to stay for Caladwen." she began to argue.
"I'm not going. I'm sending my brothers. They know the way quite well. If you thought I would let you travel so far by yourself then you truly do not know me." he said with a cocked eyebrow.
"I don't think I will ever have you figured out, Marchwarden, nor do I want to." Eowyn laid her hand over his.
Haldir did not smile or show any emotion for that matter. "You better hurry. If you travel light and not stay long in any one place, you should just catch him. Now go, but hurry back. It will be long before you return and I will be in need of a respite from the young one." Caladwen was already wrapped around his leg.
Eowyn made to leave but turned back and ran to Haldir. She threw her arms around him and kissed his cheek. "Thank you, Haldir." she said and she could almost see a slight blush on his face.
There was one last thing she needed to do before she left. She found Faramir walking amongst the mallorn trees. She noticed how bereaved he looked and she knew he was in fear of losing her. Eowyn herself didn't know what would happen. She was being guided by a great need which she did not yet understand. She approached him but he did not smile like he usually did.
"I am going now." she said as if she was merely going for a walk.
"I hope you find what it is you are looking for." Faramir said solemnly.
Eowyn couldn't stand the distance between them. She ran to him and threw her arms around him. "Will you be here when I return?"
"I don't know. I have been away from my city for far too long. I must get back. I was hoping I would not be going alone." he turned from her.
"I cannot give you an answer just yet, Faramir. I love you so much and I meant what I said when I asked to marry again. But if I don't do this, I'm afraid I will never be able to give myself wholly. If you cannot wait for me, I will understand. You must do what you think is right also." Eowyn brought his head down to her and kissed him deeply. "I hope you will stay." she whispered.
Faramir didn't answer her. He just looked at her with a smile which hid the pain and fear he felt on the inside. "You must follow your heart now, Eowyn. Neither of us knows what the future holds but if that future is with Legolas then let it be. He is the father of your child and I know that weighs heavily in your decision. Whoever you choose deserves all of you, not half. One of us needs to be set free. I won't lie and say I won't be hurt if you do not come back to me but I will understand. Just know this; I will always love you no matter what choice you make."
It felt wrong to leave Faramir again. It brought up old memories of long ago when they felt their love was forbidden. This was the last test only she could not imagine the outcome. Legolas had such a hold on her she wasn't sure what would happen once she saw him again, if she saw him again.
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.