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Leaves of Gold: 6. Author's notes
This story results from a self-challenge.
I set out to write Leaves of Gold with three main objectives in mind: to keep Aragorn and Legolas in character; to do my best to give some credibility and substance to this slash pairing that, not entirely undeservedly, suffers from a very bad reputation; and to work with book canon rather than movie canon, which is so often favoured by slash writers. While the story does not explicitly contradict movie canon, some things might seem more obscure if you are not familiar with the book.
In constructing the story, I have assumed the reader to have canon knowledge of The Lord of the Rings, but references to The Silmarillion and History of Middle-earth are briefly explained in these notes for each chapter.
My foster father knows the time is near, and he shall soon summon the peoples of Middle-earth to attend his Council:
This is, in fact, a lapse from book canon towards movieverse, because Elrond does not summon anyone in the book. Thanks to AfterEver for pointing this out to me.
Arwen vanimelda, namárië!: Beautiful Arwen, farewell!
Frodo hears Aragorn speak these words of High-elven Quenya at the foot of the hill of Cerin Amroth, when the Fellowship enters Lothlórien. Cerin Amroth was where Aragorn gave Arwen the ring of Barahir in 2980 T.A.: 'And there upon that hill they looked east to the Shadow and west to the Twilight, and they plighted their troth and were glad.' (The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: 'The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen'. See also Appendix B: 'The Tale of Years'.)
(...) for us death is no unknown step into the dark, and not the last of steps. We have been granted a way back to life from the Halls of Mandos, and our eternity is as long as all times of Arda:
Elves can die in battle or from grief. This is based on a passage from The Silmarillion: 'For the Elves die not till the world dies, unless they are slain or waste in grief (and to both these seeming deaths they are subject); neither does age subdue their strength, unless one grow weary of ten thousand centuries; and dying they are gathered to the halls of Mandos in Valinor, whence they may in time return. But the sons of Men die indeed, and leave the world...' (The Silmarillion, ch.1: 'Of the Beginning of Days'.)
This passage also hints at the somewhat vague concept present in Tolkien's unfinished work that suggests Elves can be re-born and their spirit (fëa) may return to the world in a new bodily form after a time spent in the Halls of Waiting, a place in Valinor where a Vala known as Mandos summons the dead. The Valar are powerful spirits that helped shape Middle-earth and reside in the Undying Lands in the West.
For a further explanation on the concepts of Elven death and re-birth see 'Laws and Customs among the Eldar' and 'Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth' (both in Morgoth's Ring, History of Middle-earth vol. 10).
Ilúvatar: The 'Lord of the World', creator of everything in Tolkien's mythology. Equivalent of 'God' in monotheistic religions. Also referred to as 'Eru' or 'the One'. 'Ilúvatar's younger children' refers to the mortal race of Men, as opposed to the immortal Elves, who came into the world before them.
There seems to be some confusion in canon as to when Aragorn found the White Tree on Mount Mindolluin. The text near the end of the chapter 'The Steward and the King' (RotK) reads, 'And Aragorn planted the new tree in the court by the fountain, and swiftly and gladly it began to grow; and when the month of June entered in it was laden with blossom.' This seems to suggest Aragorn found and planted the tree before June. However, 'The Tale of Years' (LotR, Appendix B) lists June 25th, 3019 T.A. as the finding date. Despite my efforts I couldn't find an explanation for this inconsistency. For the purposes of this story, I've relied on the date given in 'The Tale of Years', which places the finding of the tree just before Arwen's arrival at Minas Tirith and Aragorn and Arwen's wedding on the day of Midsummer.
Eryn Lasgalen: the name given to Mirkwood by Celeborn and Thranduil after the War of the Ring. It translates as 'the Wood of Greenleaves'. (LotR, Appendix B: 'The Tale of Years')
Nínui: the Sindarin name for the second month of the year, or February.
Thranduilion: Sindarin for 'son of Thranduil'. In his formal greeting Legolas replies to Aragorn accordingly, addressing him as Arathornion, son of Arathorn.
Anorloth: this minor original character’s name translates as ‘Sunflower’, and was constructed by using the Sindarin words ‘Anor’ (Sun) and ‘loth’ (flower).
Lords of the West: the Valar, angelic spirits that look over the world and serve Ilúvatar.
And who knows what final end is hidden in the Great Music?:
'The Great Music' refers to the creation myth of the Elves, which tells of Ilúvatar creating music that patterns the fate of Middle-earth in its entirety.
Some of the Wise believe in a world remade, where the shadow of death has been swept away, all children of Ilúvatar walk together in great bliss, and what has been divided will become one:
This notion, while vague, still has its roots in canon. 'Laws and Customs among the Eldar' and 'Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth' (both in Morgoth's Ring, HoMe vol. 10) hint at the idea of a 'healed' world beyond the end of Arda as Elves and Men know it, where death may not separate them anymore - a kind of paradise regained, to use a Judeo-Christian analogy.
And yet, how would Beren One-hand have passed his trials without Lúthien Tinúviel and Finrod Felagund by his side, and the Enemy's brow been deprived of the Silmaril? How would Mordor have been defeated on the Second Age, had not Gil-Galad and Elendil stood side by side, Elrond and Isildur as each other's protection? How would Eärendil have sailed to Valinor and the grace of the Valar been cast upon Elven-folk without a union of Elf and Man?:
These events are hinted at in LotR, but the actual tales are told in The Silmarillion.
I received help from several people while working on this story. The earliest versions of chapters 1 and 2 were betaed by Milady Hawke and Eruantale; Lyllyn read patiently through different versions of each chapter, helped me tackle problems that sprang from writing in a second language, provided insightful suggestions, and was, overall, a real gem for a beta.
My heartfelt thanks to all of them, and especially Lyllyn.
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