A raised brow was the only indication that the groom found something amiss in his lady’s request. For her part, Arwen was grateful not to have to offer an explanation. The truth was something he did not need to hear; he would learn it soon enough. The whole city would know soon enough.
When the grey was brought around, Arwen nodded her approval. Smoke-n-ashes, as the head groom’s son had named her, was a quiet dependable mare. Not one of the best in the King’s stable, but far from being a broken down nag. Arwen patted the charcoal colored coat. Smoke-n-ashes was eminently suited for the task ahead.
“Why not take your favorite?”
Arwen felt no need to turn around. She had recognized the near silent footsteps before the familiar voice spoke.
Tying the last knot in the cord on the saddlebag Arwen answered, “My Asfaloth is too well known and I prefer to travel unnoticed.”
Legolas laughed softly. “As if Arwen Undomiel could hide the light of her beauty.”
Arwen turned so that her elven kin could see the truth with his own eyes.
“That light has dimmed over the years; and with its source removed, it has failed.”
In the flickering yellow glow outside the stable, Arwen’s eyes resembled black pools set in the frozen landscape of her white skin. In spite of this, Legolas would not let her off that easily.
“Can you not stay for your children and their children?”
Arwen did not answer, at first. It did not escape her attention that Legolas did not ask why she was leaving.
“They understand.” She almost smiled. “Or they are kind enough to say they do.”
The elf took heart at the minute upward curve of her lip. The light of the Evenstar had faded as the grace of the elves left her yet a natural radiance had remained. Mortal Arwen had become still she shone in a manner no other mortal woman was capable of. Thus when returned from the Hall of the Kings, it was twice painful to see that light had been quenched by an unfathomable grief.
He did not let the ghost of a smile fool him into thinking he had won any kind of victory. The heart of an elf still beat in her breast. She lived for Aragorn and no one else.
”And what of you Legolas? Now that he is gone, what will you do?” The smile disappeared. “And Gimli.”
“The elves who heard the call of Valinor have answered. For those who did not, I know not what fate awaits them,” he paused. Legolas was not trying to evade her question but a simple answer would not suffice. “I fear they will fade into the shadows until all that is left are legends and stories.”
Arwen nodded. “Men have dominion of Middle-earth. As they multiply and spread across the lands, I believe elves will not be the only race to become nothing more than a dream. Dwarves and Halflings will suffer the same fate.”
“That is not my desire, nor is it Gimli’s.” Legolas turned and faced south, to the sea. He took a deep breath and tasted the faint tang of salt in the evening breeze. “I plan to build a ship and sail west. Gimli has agreed to accompany me.”
“Do you truly believe you can find the way? And if you do, do you think Gimli will be allowed to join you?”
A happy grin, the first that day, stole over Legolas’ face. “The hobbits were granted entrance.” The grin slipped a little. “We are the last of the fellowship.”
“I had Meriadoc and Peregrin moved to Aragorn’s side. It seemed fitting.”
“Thank you, my lady. Aragorn had a special place in his heart for Merry and Pippin.” He sighed. “For Frodo and Sam as well. It was fitting.” Legolas took Arwen’s hand. “We are kin and it is in this spirit I offer you a place on my ship.”
“Not even your ship can bear me hence; I chose a mortal life.” She pulled her hand from his. The warmth of it went straight to her heart and threatened to smash the already broken pieces into dust. “Bitter though it is, I must abide by that choice. It is too late.”
“I thought you would say as much, but I had to ask.”
“You are kind and have been a good and loyal friend.” She kissed him on the cheek. Her lips were cold “The summer sun shone on the love of Aragorn and Arwen. Not even autumn could completely dim its brilliance. But it is winter now, frozen and lifeless without the warmth of our love.”
“Where will you go?”
Arwen looked to the north. Her eyes distant as her mind made the journey ahead of her body.
“I would see the mallorn bloom one last time.”
Legolas cupped her chin and turned her face towards him. “And if they have gone the way of the elves?” he asked, his voice almost a whisper.
“Then I will have truly lost everything and I will meet my fate all the sooner.”
Arwen could not bear the look in Legolas’ eyes and pulled away from him.
“Then a darkness shall descend on the world of Men though they will never know the cause.”
There was nothing left to be said. Legolas helped her mount the grey.
The ring of metal shoes on cold stone was the only acknowledgement she gave. It was all he expected.
Legolas shook his head sadly; it was time to go south. There was nothing left for him here.
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.