Summary: A character study of Legolas, and a little of Galadriel, through the prism of Elven memories and how they deal with them.
Disclaimer: Not one Elf. Or, alas, Dwarf or Man or Hobbit or Wizard.
Author's Note: This placed third in December's Teitho, with the theme Memories.
Like Sunlight on the Grass
Lothlórien, TA 3019 January
"Thranduil's son," murmured the Lady of Lothlórien, gaze rising through the mallorn boughs to the cloudless blue sky. "It is not the decision I would have taken."
"Perhaps not," said her husband, "for ever has there been mistrust between you and Thranduil."
Galadriel's eyes turned on him. Another Elf would have quivered beneath that too-knowing gaze, but Celeborn was accustomed to it.
"You think, then, that I am wrong to mistrust him?"
Celeborn shook his head. "You have always seen further and clearer than I, my love. I would not presume to tell you where to place your trust. Yet Thranduil is my kinsman, and I have some knowledge of his heart. It is true that he can be proud."
"As I have been in the past." Galadriel gave a rueful laugh. "You do well to remind me of that."
"You and Thranduil have not met in all this Age. His losses on the Dagorlad were heavy. Such grief leaves a mark upon the soul. He may not be the Elf you remember. And even if he is, Legolas is not his father."
"Legolas is a child," said Galadriel. "A child who has seen battle, perhaps, but a child still. He is untested against the power of the One. Elves far stronger than he have been deceived by Sauron. And Legolas has long dwelt in the shadow of Dol Guldur." She looked down at Nenya on her finger. "If only one Elf was to accompany the Ring-bearer on this quest…"
"Legolas is reputed to be an unparalleled archer – even as skilled as Beleg Cúthalion."
"The Enemy is not to be defeated by the bow."
"No, he is not. You would have chosen Glorfindel, perhaps, or one of the sons of Elrond."
"That might have been the wiser choice."
"Do not forget, Elrond knows Legolas well. So does Mithrandir. They would not have chosen rashly."
"Mithrandir is fond of the child," Galadriel acknowledged. "All the same, it worries me… Still, it is done, and there is little to be gained by dwelling on it. Perhaps Legolas will prove me wrong. I hope he does, and gladly will I then atone for having wronged him in thought."
Imladris, TA 3018 December
"Long are the memories of the Elves," murmured Elrond. "You do not know what you ask of me, Legolas."
"I only ask that you trust me, my lord."
Elrond laughed. "Trust you? I do trust you, perhaps more than you realize."
"Have you heard, Legolas," said Mithrandir, "that there is a very real possibility that Glóin's son will be the Fellowship's Dwarven representative? You will not find it pleasant going."
"I concede I do not have good memories of the Dwarves' visit to my father's halls – particularly now that I know that the power of the One aided their escape. But I also remember that much trouble could have been avoided if they had spoken honestly of their purpose. I doubt I will ever like any Dwarf, but I can travel with one without coming to blows."
"Even if Gimli baits you? And he will bait you, Legolas. He resents his father's imprisonment. If I know him at all, he will take every opportunity to remind you of it."
"He is not the first to attempt to bait me. He will not be the last."
"All true," Elrond said, cutting off further conversation on the subject. "But this is not what worries me. I have been in the presence of the Ring before. Its evil can cast a shadow on the brightest of souls." He paused. "Have you never wondered, Legolas, why my sons, who were brought up in our valley of light and beauty, shunned it and turned to their quest of blood and vengeance after Celebrían's capture by Orcs?"
Legolas' eyes widened. "Sméagol fled into the Hithaeglir with the Ring a few years before Lady Celebrían was taken."
"He did. I doubt Elladan and Elrohir ever came into contact with him, or they would have told me of it. But I cannot help wondering, now that I know what happened, whether the nearness of the Ring was what put iron in their souls and despair in Celebrían's. The Elves have borne few children in the Third Age, Legolas. Arwen has already chosen her doom. I would not send you to yours. If the joy of your soul were quenched by the Ring's evil, I would not deserve your father's forgiveness."
"I do not for a moment suggest that I am stronger in spirit than Lady Celebrían, or Elladan and Elrohir, or, indeed, any who have been tempted by the power of the one. In my heart I do fear that I will be tried and proved wanting. But I would not turn from the attempt." He paused. "And I would do everything I can to atone for my error of judgement."
"Perhaps it was an error of judgement to let Gollum climb that tree," said Mithrandir. "If so, it is one for which I am grateful. It was mercy that stayed Bilbo's hand when he could have killed Gollum, and mercy you showed him when you gave him leave to see the light of the sun. Mercy does not belong to Sauron, or to his Ring. I have learnt never to regret what is wrought by Nienna's grace. Why did you do it?"
"I cannot say, my lord. He seemed wretched. Even an Orc would not deserve to be shut away in the darkness, far from the sight of all that is fair in the world. I have known grief, but for all that my life has been happy. How could I not pity him?"
"I am no Elven-lord, Thranduilion." Mithrandir held Legolas' gaze. "For my part, I will say that there is no Elf whose company I would more gladly have than yours. If your life has been happy, it has been because you have not let your griefs embitter your soul." He smiled. "It is, of course, an advantage that you can put an arrow through a silver penny from the back of a galloping horse a league away."
Lothlórien, TA 3019 January
"Darkness has come upon the Fellowship." Galadriel shivered and pushed away her loom. "I can sense the stirring of an ancient evil. Have you had word of them?"
"Mithrandir would be too cautious to send word. Their best hope is in secrecy." Celeborn took her by the hand. "They left Imladris some weeks ago. They must have reached the mountain passes by now. Perhaps, as we speak, they are crossing them."
"Danger lurks in the mountains. They will be in the open, where before they were sheltered from the sight of Isengard or Barad-dûr." Galadriel paused. "Or Dol Guldur."
"You are still worried about Legolas."
"I trust Mithrandir. I trust Aragorn, as he now calls himself; he is a Man, but he will be vigilant against the weakness of Isildur. If the Man of Gondor should prove false, either Aragorn or Mithrandir will be his match. The Halflings may be drawn to the Ring, but they cannot use it for more than conjuring tricks. It will not corrupt those who have not worn it."
"That leaves an Elf and a Dwarf. You worry about the Elf?"
Despite herself, Galadriel smiled. "I see I am not the only one affected by ancient prejudices. What has the Dwarf done that you should doubt him?"
"Dwarves have a fondness for trinkets. For a trinket they treacherously slew Thingol and sacked Doriath."
"That trinket bore a Silmaril. Ever have the jewels of Fëanor brought grief to our people."
"The Silmarilli had only beauty to recommend them – beauty that pales before the glorious crown of Alatáriel. The Ring has power to tempt the stoutest of hearts."
"If they should chance to pass this way," murmured Galadriel, "we will see them – and we may then judge for ourselves."
"Do you think it likely that they will?" Celeborn looked very grave. "I find it in my heart to hope their path leads them far from our borders. That which they carry is evil. I would not have it in Lothlórien."
"Do you doubt me, then?"
"Doubt you? No. If the test should come, you will be equal to it. But the corruption of the One may prove stronger than the power of Nenya, and undo much that we have wrought."
"If that must be, there is no cause for regret. Long have I laboured to create in Middle-earth an echo of the beauty of the Undying Lands. But this has never been more than an echo. The Age of Elves is ending. We must soon cross the Sundering Sea, and leave the forests of Middle-earth to the care of those who come after. As the Girdle of Melian faded, so too must the grace of Galadriel. It is time."
Imladris, TA 3018 December
"You are frightened. And disturbed that you are frightened." Legolas was aware that Mortals tended not to speak their minds so openly, but the words had escaped without thought when he saw the expression on Pippin's face as he tried, very clumsily, to sharpen his blade on a whetstone. "Master Elrond's armourers can help you with that."
"Boromir said I must learn." Pippin put the whetstone down and looked up into Legolas' eyes. "I don't want to seem a coward. You're not scared. Nor is Aragorn, nor Boromir."
"I do not know whether to be glad I can reassure you or sorry to disappoint you." Legolas took the dagger and whetstone from Pippin and showed him how to angle the blade. "I cannot answer for Boromir, but Aragorn is worried, and I certainly am." He lowered his voice. "Would you hear a secret? Mithrandir is worried as well."
"It is a dangerous weapon Frodo carries. Only a fool would not be frightened. There is no shame in not being a fool."
"But how am I to help if I am frightened?" Pippin took the whetstone back and began working on the blade. "What was it like the first time you fought in a battle?"
"I was far older than you, Master Pippin, and I had had many years of training. All the same, I was terrified. I was afraid I would not be able to face the moment when it came, that I would disgrace my training masters and my parents. In my panic I even thought I might be slain at once and go to the Halls of Námo to find that my grandsire was deeply disappointed in me." Legolas laughed. "Yet here I am, and I do not think I have disgraced my house."
"How can you joke about it? It must have been dreadful."
"It was, and I could not joke about it at the time. Now, with the advantage of centuries of hindsight, I can look back at the trembling child I was then. I cannot tell you where you will find your courage, Master Pippin, for nobody can do that. I can only promise you that those who are true of heart will always find their courage when the hour is upon them."
"Elves, maybe. I'm a Hobbit from the Shire. I want to go – I do want to go for Frodo's sake. But Hobbits don't deal in hardship and battle. If you want someone to sit by the fireside and smoke, or take you to the Green Dragon for the best brew in all the Shire, or show you where mushrooms grow by Farmer Maggot's fields… But what good are those skills?"
"From what Mithrandir has told me, your Farmer Maggot does not appreciate young Hobbits trampling his vegetable patches in their eagerness to find mushrooms."
Pippin looked up to protest, caught the twinkle in Legolas' eye, and snickered instead.
"Farmer Maggot was once so angry he chased me across five fields with a pitchfork. I had to hide in a barn under a pile of hay, and then a cow tore a hole in my good coat. My mother was furious."
"Thus you prove you have both speed and ingenuity. Do you still believe you have no skills that will be useful on our quest?"
Pippin flushed, but he looked pleased. Legolas, his work done, rose to go.
"Legolas," Pippin said as he was turning away, "is it true that when you were a child you used to slip out of your bed at night and into the trees?"
"Who told you that?"
"It is quite true. In time, I even learnt to do it without getting caught."
Laughing and refusing to answer any further questions, Legolas went away.
Lothlórien, TA 3019 January
"Legolas did not flinch from your gaze."
"No. He did not." Galadriel shot Celeborn a sharp glance. "I sensed no treachery in Gimli. He has courage. He is true."
"He has learnt to love the beauty of the Lady of Lórien," corrected Celeborn. "How can I fault him for that? Peace, my love. I admit I was mistaken. The son of Glóin is very different from his forebears who brought ruin upon Thingol."
"He did bear Legolas some animosity for his father's treatment at Thranduil's hands. I saw that. But it will pass. He is not of a temper to harbour grudges."
"What of the others?"
"Frodo has already been touched by Sauron's evil. The wound from the Morgul blade will never fully heal. The Ring throws a web of malice around him. Yet he has great strength as well. Perhaps he will succeed where the most valiant of Men failed. Certain it is that no Elf could relinquish the weapon once having claimed it. If Frodo cannot do it, there is no hope."
"The one called Samwise seemed solicitous of him."
Galadriel smiled. "Samwise. Yes. Samwise the gardener. He is valiant, although he does not yet see it himself. I believe I will make him a gift of a handful of earth from my own garden. If he uses it in after days in the Shire, some small part of the memory of Lothlórien will linger in Middle-earth."
"What will you give Frodo?"
Galadriel raised her bright eyes to the sky, where the lamp on Vingilot's prow gleamed against the night.
"Frodo goes into darkness, and on his shoulders rests the doom of Middle-earth. What can I give him better than a light to guide his path? Perhaps the Silmaril will bring better fortune to him than it brought to the kindred of the Eldar."
"Perhaps it will. Its vengeance is spent."
"Frodo's two kinsmen are no threat to his quest. The Halflings are fortunate. Long have Elves and Men believed them insignificant, but their very simplicity gives them might that older and wiser races lack."
"Older and wiser races," Celeborn repeated.
"Boromir has been tempted. It is testament to the greatness of his heart that he has withstood it this long. He seeks the Ring to do good with it. His home is beset. When Sauron emerges from his fastness to take the cities of Men, it will be Gondor that faces him first. But the Ring is powerful, and Sauron's deceptions run deep. How much longer will Boromir resist?"
"Can you not help him?"
"I cannot offer him help unasked. What would you have me do?" Galadriel shook her head. "Aragorn will be vigilant. He has already guessed what is in Boromir's heart."
"Aragorn will face greater temptations than Boromir. He is of the kindred of Elros. The Ring can give him power it could give no other Man."
"Aragorn bears the knowledge of Isildur's bane. He will guard it against the whispers of the Deceiver." She paused. "And there is Legolas."
"You said he did not flinch from you."
"He is the son of Thranduil," Galadriel said, "and I dare swear he has all his father's pride and stubbornness. I never expected him to flinch from me. But over both pride and stubbornness Sauron's arts may weave their web."
Imladris, TA 3018 December
"Are you certain you have enough spare arrows?" Mithrandir surveyed the sheaves Legolas had put in his pack. "A few good battles will exhaust those."
"I can gather the spent ones, though I may have to fletch them again. I have what I need to make arrows, Mithrandir." Legolas put a last sheaf in his pack and drew it closed. "Why do the Halflings call you Gandalf?"
"Do you not like the name?" Mithrandir asked, raising his bushy eyebrows. "It was in the Mannish realms that I was given the name, and it was better than any of the other names they gave me. Would you have had me call myself the Troublemaker?"
Legolas laughed. The sound hung in the air and eased the Wizard's heart. They would have need of Elven cheer in the days to come.
"Is it Men who call you Troublemaker?"
"It is Halflings," Mithrandir admitted. "Though I have little doubt that many Men would agree with that name if they were to hear it – and some Elves."
Legolas laughed again. "You know my father is fond of you, Mithrandir. He tends to have some affection for troublemakers."
"You mean," said Mithrandir, "that he, along with every other Elf in his realm, was unable to have anything but affection for the most winsome young troublemaker to disgrace the name of Elf in this age." His broad smile took the heat from his words. "Even if it is likely to bring Thranduil's wrath upon me, I am glad you will be with us, Legolas."
"So you have said, my lord. I hope I do not disappoint you."
"There is little fear of that." Mithrandir's pipe was clenched between his teeth, but, in deference to the fact that they were indoors, it was unlit, for which Legolas was grateful. "I hear you had a talk with young Pippin."
"I hope I said nothing I should not have."
"Not in the least. He was delighted that the most legendary of Thranduil's legendary archers thought he had speed and ingenuity."
"I very much doubt that." Legolas sorted through his garments, selecting a light cloak. "The folk of the Shire are fortunate enough not to have heard of the King's archers, legendary or otherwise."
"A century ago that was true. You forget Bilbo Baggins. He dearly loves to talk. He has spent the past weeks filling the Halflings' heads with tales of all their companions." Mithrandir shrugged. "They have been acquainted with me for some time. They learnt something of Aragorn on the journey here. Boromir has been teaching Merry and Pippin the rudiments of combat. Gimli has been teaching them anything they did not already know of drinking too much ale and telling unfortunate stories under its influence."
Legolas bit his tongue on his response, making Mithrandir chortle.
"Never let it be said that you are not an Elf of your word. But let me not run away from my point. The Halflings are a little awestruck by you. In Pippin's case, at least, your conversation with him has resolved that problem. He told me that you spoke to him, gave him no counsel, told him stories of things that happened long before he was born, and somehow left him feeling better. I was happy to reassure him that that is what one must at all times expect of an Elf."
"Or of a Wizard, from what I know of them."
"Not where Men and Hobbits are concerned. It is easier to offer them counsel; they are less frustrating than Elves." Mithrandir took Legolas' pack from his hands and put it on the table. "You can finish that later, Legolas. The feast will begin soon. A son of the Elven-king cannot be late."
Lothlórien, TA 3019 January
"Legolas." Galadriel studied the young Elf whispering to one of the trees and tried to see past Thranduil's lineaments to any mark the Elven-queen had left on her son. "Will you walk with me?"
"Of course, my lady."
Legolas came forward, offering her his arm. She slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow and guided him through the woods.
"Your companion Gimli is not with you today."
"Dwarves must sleep, my lady. And I… cannot."
"You are grieved. Yet you have not joined in our laments for Mithrandir."
"The grief is too near, my lady. I… I cannot sing of it."
"No." Galadriel glanced at Legolas. Her impulse was to trust him. Thranduil was a good king, after all, and a fine warrior. They had their differences, but that was not one of them. The Elven-king was as strongly opposed to the Enemy as she was herself. "What do you intend to do now, Legolas? Will you journey on with the Fellowship?"
"I am torn, my lady. I sense that Eryn Galen is soon to face the full force of Dol Guldur. Every instinct I have tells me my place is with my father and my realm in this time." He paused, studying the grass. "But that is not where I can do the most good. One more bow added to the hundreds my Elven-lord has at his service will make little difference."
"What do you fight for, Legolas?"
"For the woods of my home, my lady. For Eryn Galen that is not Mirkwood. For an end to the evil that spews from the Necromancer's fortress."
"Indeed." Galadriel tried a different tack. "Tell me, Legolas, what do you think of your companions on the quest? Are they to be trusted?"
Legolas looked surprised at the question. "In the face of such temptation, I do not know whether anyone can be trusted, my lady. But I trust my companions to fight the corruption of the Ring to the very end. Nobody can ask more of them than that."
"I understand Boromir spoke of wanting to use the Ring," Galadriel probed.
"So he did," conceded Legolas. "He spoke of using it to defeat Sauron, and I believe he meant no other purpose than that. But not even he would escape its influence if once he used it. I hope he has understood that."
"If he has not? Would you still trust him?"
"I have not the wisdom to judge, my lady."
"What of Gimli?"
"He has sworn to be true to the Quest. I trust him, as much as I trust any of my companions."
"That is not a remark I thought I would hear from a son of Thranduil."
"Eryn Galen has sometimes had strained relations with the Dwarves. They have improved in recent years. For my recent arguments with Gimli I am as much to blame as he is. I let my mind linger on old grievances at the cost of present peace. We have both gained wisdom. Now that I know his heart I can forgive anything he said to offend me. I trust he will be gracious enough to forgive me as well."
The Lady of Lórien smiled.
Imladris, TA 3018 December
"My brother should have been here in my stead." There was an edge of bitterness in Boromir's voice. "He would have known what to do!"
Legolas looked around. The Halflings were gathered by the fireside plaguing Bilbo to tell them a story. Mithrandir was closeted with Lord Elrond, Gimli was doing whatever Dwarves did after dinner when they didn't have caves to skulk in, and Aragorn was out walking with Arwen. Therefore Boromir must have been addressing him.
"Where is your brother?" Legolas asked politely.
Boromir laughed with no mirth. "Osgiliath, perhaps, or somewhere in the woods. He wanted to come here in my stead – that would have suited us both! Faramir has always been fascinated by Elves and their ways. Gandalf has been filling his head with stories all his life. He would have known how to speak to Elves and what to say… and I would have been happier if I had stayed in Gondor, among Men." Boromir shrugged. "I mean no offence to you, but I am a Man, and my place is with my people."
"I would not take offence where none is meant. Why did you not stay in Gondor, then, and send your brother to Imladris?"
"My father would not have it so." Boromir raised his cup to his lips and drained the wine. "Perhaps you can understand. Your father is King of the Woodland Realm. You must know what it is to do what you must, even when you would rather be… elsewhere."
"I imagine most people know that, whether their fathers are Kings or Stewards or blacksmiths. Your brother is younger than you are."
"My brother is wiser than I am." Boromir refilled his cup. "He would have known what to do."
"You say that often. Your brother must be a wise man indeed."
"My father… May I speak to you in confidence?"
"Of course… So long as what you tell me does not imperil our Quest."
"The reason I spoke in Council for the Ring to be given to Gondor was that my father asked it of me. He suspected that it had been discovered. I do not…" Boromir paused to drink some more wine. Legolas rather thought he had had too much. "I do not know what he will say when he hears of my decision to pledge myself to see it destroyed instead. I do not imagine he will be pleased. But Faramir… I think Faramir would approve."
"Lord Boromir, nothing you, or for that matter your brother, could have said or done would have persuaded Mithrandir or Lord Elrond to give the weapon of the Enemy to Gondor. It is too dangerous and too powerful. It must be destroyed. You know this."
"I do believe it now. But my father does not. I fear that in following my conscience, I have disappointed him." Boromir sighed. "Tell me, what would you have done in my place?"
"I cannot say," Legolas admitted. "I would find it very difficult to disobey a direct order from the Elven-king. But although my King might be displeased, my father would not blame me for doing what I believed was right. I know little of your lord father, but he comes of a noble line. I doubt he will be angry with you."
"You know little indeed of my lord father if you think that." Boromir took a long draught. "When we were children, Faramir and I, all he told us, all he ever told us, was that Gondor came first. Gondor had to be protected at all costs. Mordor is an eternal threat, and against this threat we were to guard our people. The Ring would have helped us defend Gondor. And now… not only have I failed to obtain the Ring, I have committed myself to a course of action which, should we be discovered by the Enemy, will bring his wrath down upon us. And Gondor will suffer first."
"It was a difficult decision," Legolas said. "And I honour you for choosing as you did. That you are here, now, prepared to embark on a quest to destroy the weapon you came here to claim shows that you were meant to be a part of this. Your father will understand your choice in time."
"My father does not change his mind easily."
"Then you must judge your actions by your own lights. You said your father told you to defend Gondor. The path you have chosen is the only one that will ensure the safety of the world of Men, including Gondor. You have done your father's bidding, even if he does not see it."
Boromir let out a long breath. "I can be content with that."
Lothlórien, TA 3019 January
"The Stone of Eärendil."
"It is time," said Galadriel, holding up the green gem. It sparkled with the light of the sun. "The Elfstone belongs to Middle-earth. Here it will stay."
"It is a fine gift."
"I have nothing else to give Aragorn. No sword can take the place of the one he carries already. He has already won the heart of the Evenstar. This is a token of her choice, no more. Yet it may give him courage to face what must come. I will give him a scabbard as well. Andúril must have a worthy sheathe if its bearer is to rise above his past."
"What of Boromir? Will you give him a sword?"
"No." Galadriel put the Elfstone down. "Boromir's path is wreathed in shadow. Stout as his heart is, the power of Sauron may yet prove to be too much for him. I would not put an Elven blade in his hand. I will give him a belt, after the fashion of Lothórien, to remind him of the Lady of the Golden Wood."
"If the Lady of the Golden Wood cannot save him from a terrible fate, nobody can," said Celeborn gravely. "What of the others?"
"I will give Frodo's two young kinsmen belts as well, but that is not out of any fears for their loyalty. They already carry Daggers of Westernesse. They will have need of no stronger weapons than those the Dúnedain wrought to fell the Witch-king of Angmar… I do not yet know what to give Gimli."
"A belt?" asked Celeborn, but Galadriel shook her head.
"He has neither sword nor dagger to put in it. Lothlórien does not make axes. No, I will let Master Gimli choose his own gift. He will not disappoint me."
"Do you fear to give Legolas a sword?"
"I would give him one, and gladly, if I thought it might be of use to him. But the sword is not Legolas' weapon." She smiled. "What do you think I should give the finest archer in Middle-earth?"
Celeborn met her eyes with a smile of his own. "You mean to give him a longbow of the galadhrim."
"Do you disagree?"
"Not in the least. I knew the child would win you over. In the beginning you worried that he had inherited Thranduil's temperament, and now, alone of the all the Fellowship, you are willing to put a weapon in his hands."
"We have all grown in wisdom since last we met. I would never have thought Thranduil could raise a child with a spirit so bright in his darkening realm. Perhaps Thranduil, too, would think better of me now, as I am certain I would think better of him."
Celeborn laughed. "Explain it as you wish, my love. The truth is that the child has won you over."
"Yes," agreed Galadriel. "He has."
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