20. Undeniable Agony
WARNING – You may want to have a box of tissues on hand before you read this chapter.
Legolas waited outside the king's library while Estel was informed of his arrival. He was apprehensive at being here, but he had to come in person to do this. He had already proven himself cowardly by the letters he held in his hand. But one confrontation was all his heart could bear.
So, he was here again in Minas Tirith. It seemed a lifetime ago that he had departed from this place, but it had only been two months. Gimli should be back in Rohan by now, and Legolas was grateful he would not have to face the dwarf. He did not think he could walk away unscathed from that encounter. The elf would ask Estel to see that his letter be delivered. By the time the dwarf received the news, the elf would be too far away for Gimli catch him and to try to talk him out of leaving.
Legolas also had a letter for Faramir and Eowyn. They had been so kind to him, he did not want to leave without saying goodbye. The thought of looking into their eyes and saying it made him feel ill. Again, he had opted for having Estel see the letter delivered.
The king, dressed quite casually, stepped out of the open doorway with a smile on his face. Legolas tried to smile back, but it came out quite crooked. He bowed his head to the man.
"Do stop with the formalities, my friend! Come in, tell me what is on your mind." The man motioned for him to enter the study. Legolas followed, silently entering the room behind the man.
The king's library was just that, a large room, complete with several couches and comfortable chairs as well as several tables. Book shelves lined the walls. The door was usually left open and close friends were encouraged to stop by any time the man was there. Aragorn usually spent his free time here when he wanted to read, as official business was handled in his office or a private counsel room.
The two seated themselves on opposing couches so they could face each other as they spoke. Legolas kept his eyes looking around the room for a few minutes as the man studied him. The king sighed and spoke.
"You do not come with good news...do you?" Estel's face held a grim expression. "Have you remembered anything?"
This was what Legolas had been dreading. He made himself pull his head up and look the man in the eye. He wished he was standing, a more formal atmosphere would make it easier to speak these things.
"No. On both accounts." The elf shook his head slightly. "It is not easy for me to say this, so I shall say it quickly. I am sailing. I will leave in the morning for the havens. I have made my good byes to my family and the elves in Ithilien. Tathar has agreed to take over command there. I hope that is acceptable to you." Legolas watched the man's face carefully as he spoke, but the ex-ranger's face was unreadable.
"That is fine, I have no problems with Tathar's leadership." The man took a breath, frowning as he locked eyes with the elf. "Are you sure, Legolas? Must you leave now? There is still hope for your memory to be restored." The emotions came to the surface as the man's voice came out slightly strangled.
"I would not go if I thought I could stay. I must sail, or I fear my heart will start to fade." Legolas searched the man's face, silently begging him to understand.
Estel spoke, his voice a broken whisper. "I don't want you to go."
"I know," the elf's voice also not more than a whisper. "But I must." He cleared his throat. "I have a request to make." When the man nodded, Legolas voiced what he had come to ask.
"It would have been wrong of me to leave without speaking to one of you personally. I suppose it is wrong to leave without speaking to all. I have letters for Faramir and Eowyn, and one for Gimli. If you would be so kind as to see them delivered." The elf pursed his lips, unable to say anymore.
The man was struggling to accept what he had just been told. He had to, but it hurt, badly. "Of course," Aragorn fought internally to keep himself emotionally distant for the sake of his friend. He could weep later, in Arwen's arms. "I will see that all are delivered as soon as possible. I think you should know, however, that Gimli.."
"Legolas?" A gruff voice came from the doorway behind him and Legolas closed his eyes. This was the one encounter he had desperately wished to avoid. It would have been simpler, so much easier to send a letter. Now, he would have to speak.
Legolas stood and turned. He avoided the dwarf's eyes, not wanting to see the pain that would be there. The pain he would cause.
"Lad, I did not expect you to return yet, but it is always good to see you." The dwarf smiled at him, but the elf was unable to return it. He sensed Estel leave the room, and he was grateful. This was better done in private
"Legolas? What's wrong, lad?" Gimli's concern pierced the elf's heart, the aching increased and he did not understand it. The elf felt tears behind his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. Legolas dropped his eyes to the floor before him.
"Forgive me, Gimli. I thought you would be back in Rohan by now. I should not have attempted to avoid this with a letter." Legolas looked up briefly,. "I appreciate all you have done for me. Though I remember you not, you have been a true friend. Rightfully I named you elvellon, and how I wish I could remember... But I cannot." Legolas shook his head slightly and his voice was hoarse with emotion.
Unable to continue looking upon his friend, he lowered his eyes again. "I am leaving in the morning, headed for the havens. So I suppose this is...goodbye."
"So I suppose this is...goodbye."
Gimli told himself he was not hearing what he thought he was hearing. But the elf was standing before him, head bowed, eyes lowered, and Gimli knew it was true. He felt his heart sink into the floor.
"What do you mean this is goodbye? You can't leave." Gimli looked at his friend, eyes pleading for him to change his mind. The elf did not look up, his golden hair partially hid his fair face.
"I cannot stay any longer, Gimli. The pain...it is too great. I have struggled against it and I can fight no longer. My memory has not returned, I feel it will not unless I sail. I'm sorry, but I have to go." Legolas looked up then and the dwarf saw pain there, and determination to go.
"But Legolas, there is still hope. You could still remember. Did your father push you into this?" Gimli accused, pulling at anything, not considering the words he chose.
Anger filled the elf's eyes at the mention of his father. "NO." The prince spoke firmly. "There is no hope. I cannot remember. And my father has done nothing but support me in my anguish. You would do well to be careful how you speak of him."
"You can't leave, Legolas. Not yet." The dwarf was frantic. This could not happen! It was wrong.
"I can and I will. Who are you to stop me?" The elf asked angrily.
The dwarf's heart constricted at the elf's tone and words. As he stood there, pain filling his heart and tears fighting to come to his eyes. Gimli heard his own voice echo back in his mind from that night more than four months ago.
"Legolas, you are my best friend..."
"I ask not for myself, Legolas." Gimli tried to convince himself this was true. The words continued to ring in his mind.
"...It would pain me greatly to lose you to the sea..."
Never had Gimli felt such pain before. The words tumbled from his heart as his voice filled with emotion. "And I cannot stop you from going. But I beseech you to wait until you have remembered more. I fear once you reach Valinor... and you are healed there and remember... you will regret deeply. You will remember and the regret will be very bitter, lad. You should not leave like this. I know you suffer, I know the pain..."
"YOU KNOW NOTHING!" The elf shouted. "You can NEVER understand the torment I endure! I can remain here no longer!" Legolas paused, taking a breath and lowering his eyes and tone of voice to almost a whisper. "And if I regret, then I regret."
The dwarf dropped his own eyes and he blinked away the tears that were trying to form. He attempted to swallow the lump that seemed to be trying to strangle him. His words from so long ago were no comfort, but they remained right and true.
"...If you need to go, lad, go with my blessing... I won't see you in pain for my sake."
The dwarf swallowed hard and looked up. Reaching out a hand, he lifted the elf's chin and met his eyes. "Very well," he said, and dropped his hand back to his side. "But hear this, Legolas. When you reach the Undying Lands, and the Valar heal your mind...when you remember those that you left behind. Do not sorrow over it, lad. Do not regret. Go with my blessing, be free of your pain. Just remember me Legolas...remember I love you. And I will never forget you."
His voice broke as he spoke and it was all he could do to keep the tears from running down his face. The elf blinked but said nothing. He simply stood there, a slight crease between his eyebrows, but otherwise an unreadable look upon his face.
"Goodbye, Legolas. Have a safe journey... And remember."
The dwarf took one last look, burning the image of his best friend, who was now lost to him, into his mind. Then he turned and walked out of the door.
The tears streamed down Gimli's cheeks as he walked to his room and locked the adjoining door. He would go home. He would leave as soon as he could pack his things. He would start over, try to find his place in this world that had so recently been turned upside down.
An hour later, the dwarf took his leave of the king and queen of Gondor. He would hear nothing they had to say; he ignored their pleas to stay longer.
Gimli strapped his pack on his pony and mounted Moroch. He rode through the city gates and he never looked back.
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.