Author’s Note: There’s a quote from the Anglo-Saxon poem “The Seafarer” in the second paragraph. And a hint of “Princess Bride” near the end of the story. Cookies, anyone?
Chapter Summary: ‘Death cannot stop true love – all it can do is delay it a little while.’ -Wesley
Chapter 6 - Forgive us Our Sins
By Milady Hawke
The waters lapped at the little coracle as the prow dipped and bobbed on the waves. Ragged shreds of clouds could not obscure the haloed moon that shone a straight path of gold upon the water, stretching westward to the Undying Lands. As a mother would cradle a new-born babe, Arda rocked the elf gently in her soothing sea-arms, in a tender embrace like but unlike a comforting bower of trees. And Legolas allowed himself to remember, to remember a night more than a hundred years passed.
Aragorn had come as he’d promised that night after their lovemaking and found Legolas still sitting on his balcony perch as he had all day, but the elf had not turned to greet his love. In the frosty light of Ithil, he had felt like he’d been set adrift alone in a world blown clear of love.
After a stretch of silence between himself and the man, Legolas found himself scooped into strong arms and set down to stand in front of Aragorn. His hand’s were brought to the man’s chest and held there.
Long minutes passed as they looked into each other’s eyes, divining without words what was in the other’s mind, until finally all that was left to do was to give and hear the explanations.
“Legolas,” said Aragorn, casting his eyes to the floor. “I went to the lady. And she knew. Even before I had opened my mouth.”
“She said to me that she was not so much nobler than the both of us. She knew, Legolas. She knew all those years ago as she prepared to leave Lorien and meet me for the first time in Rivendell. Her grandmother-mistress led Arwen to her mirror of clear water, and Arwen looked, and saw you loving me under the moon. On arriving, she said that Lord Elrond assured her that all was well, that he had washed away our memories, and so she acquiesced because she wanted me for herself. Though she knew,” Aragorn said in a hitched voice.
“And she knew that part of my heart would remember my golden lover and never be hers. She wished she could hate me, but she knew. And so, she said, she had set the stage for our betrayal but that she had played a greater part. Her betrayal was far greater than ours could have ever been. She knowingly prevented true love, and for this, she said, she is punished. All are punished.”
His own he could stand, but the elf could not bear the sight of tears streaking a path down Aragorn’s cheeks. He wiped them away gently with the pads of his thumbs and cupped the man’s face upward to look at him.
“Does she love you still, Aragorn? Will she still have you?”
“You must be kind to her, Aragorn, and both must learn to forgive. We have all suffered enough. You must remember why you married her, for part of you loves her still, flawed as she is, as we all are.” The elf’s next words were barely a whisper. “I ask only one thing for myself, for your forgiveness, that you remember me without bitterness.”
“A thousand times granted, Meleth-nin. And unburden your heart of this guilt - for all the pain it has caused, I would still have you remind me again of our past and love me once more. Our time I would not give up for the world.”
Aragorn’s hands firmly held the elf’s face then with the fierce determination to be understood.
“You know that in my heart I choose you,” he said.
He had not told Aragorn that no grey ship would bear the elf west over water till his lover’s passing.
In the moment that followed his last words to his love, Legolas knew that the meeting of their mouths surpassed in purity all other kisses that had ever been recorded in the history of Arda.
A fresh gust of wind billowed his sails, and Legolas returned to himself, for the moment was over. The corners of the elf’s mouth turned upward slowly, and tears of relief slid down his cheeks as he spread his arms wide and released to the waters the great weight he had carried near two hundred years, receiving in that moment a glowing benediction as the moon wreathed him in light.
For certain, Aragorn had known the pain the elf carried, of separation, of remembering what was and dreaming of what would never be. But surely Elbereth had granted his lover the same peace he had found? This separation was a pain they could both cherish, a decision they had made together. Bittersweet, yes, but he and the man had both remembered, and the memory of their love was the fire that warmed the rest of their days, strengthening the man in the face of life’s onslaught, and in Legolas’ heart set to flourish in Valinor. Their loving was as one ripple forever stretching onwards in the waters of time, Aragorn’s own immortality.
And who knew what fate awaited the second-born of Eru, to what place men went after they passed from this world? Though the elves sailed west to their eternal home or else passed in death to Mandos’ halls, and naught was known of man’s final destination, surely the two races would not forever be separated where bonds of love were strong.
The elf steered his wandering prow back again towards the horizon. Earendil, The Mariner, that ancient symbol of hope, shown a glimmering path of light along the dark waters ahead, and the elf steered his course by it.
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