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Reunion in Mirkwood  by Mirkwoodmaiden

A/N: Thanks to my word wrangler, Ellynn! ((hugs))


Chapter 21 A Place for Healing

Legolas stood at the railing of the balcony that overlooked the twin falls.  The beauty enthralled him; he felt the stirring mist land upon his face as it gently tried to ease away his sadness and confusion. He breathed deeply and allowed the feelings to be sluiced away, only then to be assailed by a strange sense of disloyalty and betrayal. His disloyalty and betrayal of his family. Imladris was casting its gentle spell upon him and yet, as long as he could remember, it had always represented sadness in memory of his mother who had died enroute to the sheltered ravine to visit her cousin.  Legolas heaved a deep sigh, these conflicting feelings making gentle war within his breast.

“Legolas.”

The wizard’s softly spoken word cut through him with the efficiency of an elven blade. Shame flared at what his actions had wrought when the wizard had placed such faith in him.

“I am sorry, Mithrandir. I have failed you and my adar,” Legolas spoke, not turning toward the wizard but still gazing at the twin falls.

“Legolas,” came the voice laden with regret and sadness, “no, no, it is I who have failed you.”

Legolas turned at that assertion to argue his point but stopped, the first words stalling upon his lips when he beheld a look of regret and sorrow such as he had never seen on the old, wizened face before.

Gandalf paused before speaking again. “Legolas, sit, please. There are things I must tell you that may not be easy for you to hear.”

Legolas sat and gazed upon Gandalf expectantly. The old wizard seemed sheepish somehow as he paused once again before speaking. He seemed to be debating within his bosom issues of great import. “My boy, I feel I owe you an explanation and, more than likely, an apology.”

Legolas looked at him quizzically. “How so, Mithrandir? It is I who have failed. I who am responsible for Gollum’s escape no matter how my friends try to explain it away.”

“Yes, that is a matter that needs to be dealt with, and soon, but that is not what I am speaking of.” Again, Legolas looked at the old wizard with uncomprehending eyes. “I should have told your father the whole of the tale concerning Gollum.”

Legolas’ eyes held a look of pain. “Perhaps you are right. It was not wise to trust my judgment. I have failed you.”

Gandalf sighed. “No, Legolas. Listen to me.” He muttered to himself, “Saruman always did tell me that my plots within plots would come to a muddle of unexpected consequences.” He directed his words at Legolas once again. “I told you because I thought I could help Thranduil to realise that you could be trusted with information. Maybe he would start to see you as I see you.”

Legolas looked him and said with some force, “But I didn’t tell him, and it resulted in Gollum’s escape and the death of two under my watch-” he broke off speaking and turned away from Gandalf and towards the falls.

Gandalf looked at Legolas and saw that what he had wrought by his own machinations needed more attention than a recitation of his own self-recriminations. “Legolas.” He paused. “Look at me.” He requested gently. After a moment, the young elf turned his eyes toward the old wizard, eyes still filled with shame and self-doubt. “No one can know the workings of fate.  No one can truly know that they caused a thing to happen.  We do our best within the situation we are given.”  Legolas looked him wordlessly. “Tell me what happened between you and your father. I think it is a tale that needs telling. Tragedy wears on the spirit; only by telling do we let the heart begin to learn to live with it and to learn from it.”

Legolas stared into Gandalf’s grey eyes for a few moments before saying, “Grimbeorn’s wife, Dalaria said much the same thing.”

Gandalf raised his bushy grey eyebrows. “Did she now?” he harrumphed approvingly. “Those bears have much wisdom and more would know that if they only took the time to listen.”

Legolas then unfolded his heart to his old friend, haltingly at first, but then the story began to flow and before long Gandalf could understand how the recent events were shaping Legolas’ soul.  After his tale was told they lapsed into silence, listening to the only sound occurring, that of the ever-present churning of the waterfalls lulling them into a sense of serenity. Birds chirped and the scent of lilac and honeysuckle mixed with the cherry smokiness of Gandalf’s pipe as Imladris worked its gentle magic upon both hearts in need of solace.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Elrond watched from his balcony, and while he could not hear everything that was being said, he knew that somehow Gandalf was coming to the reason for the woodland prince’s astonishing appearance in Imladris sans one very overprotective father.  It was not hard to understand the reticence Legolas had concerning Imladris.  Given the family history and knowing Thranduil as he did, it was predictable.  But he was intrigued by Thranduil’s youngest son.  He knew his brothers at least somewhat, but Legolas seemed a little different than either Celebren or Sadron, perhaps owing to his guarded and cossetted upbringing.  Elladan and Elrohir seemed to be fond of the boy.  He needed to know more about him.  He needed to get his measure, and from him understand how Thranduil, and by extension Mirkwood, might react to the world around them as these times grew perilous.  How best to gain this knowledge was the question.  The straightforward approach might actually be the most useful and effective.  When considering whatever opinions the young prince had been given by his father, any subterfuge would probably only serve to reinforce those ideas.  Also, during his brief meeting with Legolas, Elrond had the impression that the young elf was open and honest with almost none of the guarded and jaded nature of his father.  He would seek him out and simply talk with him.

~*~*~*~*~

Legolas stood on the riverbank in a secluded alcove close to the waterfalls and watched as the froth of the cascade fed the river as it flowed past him.  It was unlike anything that existed in Mirkwood; it was hypnotic.

“I never tire of this view.”

Legolas started and then looked to his left at the unexpected voice.  Upon seeing the Lord of Imladris standing a few feet away, also gazing upon the waterfalls, he moved to make his respectful obeisance and then depart, unsure of how he felt about this Elf Lord and unsettled by the fact that he did not immediately dislike him as a dutiful son of Thranduil should. “Pray pardon, My Lord!”

Elrond immediately snapped from his reverie. “No please, I apologise for intruding upon your thoughts so abruptly. But please, do not leave.”

Legolas eyed him somewhat warily but made no further attempt to leave the river’s edge.

So far, so good, Elrond thought with an inward sigh. Outwardly he stated, “I come here when I need to pause in my thinking, to allow the cascading waters crashing down to drown out the din of my overcrowded thoughts and lead me to serenity.”

Legolas gave him a side glance of thinly veiled surprise, for that was exactly what he had been doing before Elrond had disturbed him.   A tenuous sharing of fellow feeling flowed in his heart which confused him, but good manners required a response. “It seems a good place for it.  Do you often find yourself here?” Legolas paused, wondering what prompted such a personal enquiry of someone he had only just met and yet had been raised to think askance about.  But there was something about the Lord of Imladris, an energy that was so very different from his father.  There was a quiet about him; a peace that he never associated with his father, and Legolas found himself drawn to that peace that seemingly came from within.

Elrond looked thoughtfully the young blond elf.  The posing of the casually stated yet unusual query presenting an insight into his character.  He answered honestly, “I do, more often that I would like to admit.  But it is the way of things.” He ended with a resigned air.

“So true,” Legolas stated, again struck by the difference between Elrond and his father, who could never admit weakness to anyone, most of all to his youngest son.  It was a heady experience to be confided in and spoken to as a mature elf and not like someone who needed to be protected from all things.  Legolas said, “The times grow cautious.  In Mirkwood the Darkness grows.” He stopped and looked at Lord Elrond. “I am sorry, My lord. I should not have spoken so freely.”  Shame flashed through him that he should have spoken so disloyally about his realm.

Elrond sensed the struggle within the young prince. “As it does everywhere, Prince Legolas.” He sought to allay the feelings of conflict. “It is nothing but the truth, sad though it is.”

“Indeed,” Legolas stated in what could have been thought to be a reflexive statement, the polite response required, but Elrond heard much restrained emotion and confusion in that one word.  “If you will pardon me, My Lord. I will take my leave of you to rejoin my friends.”

“Yes, of course, my lord prince,” Elrond intoned pleasantly.  He stood quietly and watched Legolas depart for a few moments before returning his gaze to the mesmeric waterfalls.

“So, what do you make of our young Legolas?” Elrond turned and found Gandalf walking up from the opposite direction to which Legolas had departed.

Elrond looked at his old friend. “Very interesting. He is his father’s son, there is no doubt about that, but I sense he will be far more that, far more than he realises.”

Gandalf nodded sagely, peering in the direction Legolas went. He wondered at the change even now that had been wrought upon the young prince. He was growing out of his naivete, which had hung about him far longer than it should have.  He was learning how to deal with the consequences of his own decisions and how to live with the results.  And yet through it all his innate optimism, though tested, was still remaining at his core. “He is learning.”

“Yes,” replied Elrond. “But what will this world teach him?”  He glanced meaningfully at the old wizard. Gandalf pursed his lips and in lieu of answer he puffed on his pipe and looked forward listening to the falls, ever churning. “Exactly…” Elrond said pensively, and he too allowed the falls to calm his soul, washing away the unanswerable question if only for a few more moments.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Legolas entered the suite of rooms set aside for him and his companions.  He saw Navedir sitting on the floor sharpening his sword, humming a small intoning for when sharpening one’s blade, a half full goblet of wine sitting at his side.

“I see you have found occupation. Where are Erthion and Vivelle?”

Navedir looked up and then, as he was about to speak, Erthion entered holding another bottle of wine in one hand and a long loaf of bread and a round of cheese in the other. “I come bearing comestibles!”

Legolas gave him something of a gimlet stare then said, “And just where did you get those?”

Erthion looked at him. “I asked Elmiran the way to the kitchens and he most graciously showed me. I thought a little refreshment among ourselves to be entirely warranted.”

“Where’s Vivelle?”

“Where else? She promptly asked where the houses of healing were, and Elmiran asked another Elf enroute to the kitchens to give her a tour of the healing houses. We may not see her for days!” Erthion rolled his eyes with a knowing smile on his lips.

Legolas smiled, knowing that Vivelle’s love of learning and healing was all-consuming.  It could truly be days before they saw her again.  He looked at his two companions saying, “So what think you of this place?” His heart felt a difference that his head could not explain.  He wondered if it were the same for the others.

Erthion nodded and said, “It is good. Imladris is a place all its own.”

Navedir stopped the rhythmic sharpening of his blade and looked at Legolas. “It is the oddest feeling, though I have never been here before, I feel at peace, almost as if I could call this place home.”

Legolas released a breath that he had not realized he was holding.  For once he was not alone in his feelings and that somehow lifted a burden from his shoulders.  A flame of fear within him had begun to kindle the idea that he was weak in allowing Imladris to affect him, but it was doused almost immediately upon hearing that his two companions, who by no means could be considered weak in any way, were also affected by Imladris’ very air.  Dalaria had said Imladris was a place of healing, but Legolas, in his naivete and his sheltered opinions, had not really believed her.  Now, surrounded by the verdant ravine and its inhabitants, he began to see that she was right.  A heart could be made whole here.  Legolas looked at his companions. “It is a good place,” he said and smiled.

Erthion caught a glimpse of the customary joy that had always resided in Legolas’ eyes before this whole episode with Gollum and his father began.  Only by its re-emergence had he noticed its absence and this more than anything else told his heart that Imladris was indeed a place for healing.





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