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The Last Journey; Chapter 47: Si, na vethed

Story Info



Title: The Last Journey
Author: Del Rion (delrion.mail (at) gmail.com)
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings
Era: Fourth Age of the Sun
Genre: AU, Action/Adventure
Rating: M / FRM
Main characters: Aragorn, Celeborn, Elladan, Elrohir, Elrond, Éomer, Erestor, Faramir, Gandalf, Gimli, Glorfindel, Haldir, Legolas, Meriadoc, Nazgûl, Pippin, Thranduil (, OCs).
Pairings: Legolas/OMC (brief Aragorn/Arwen, Éowyn/Faramir)
Summary: After many peaceful years that have followed the war against Sauron, everything changes. Evil returns, striking without warning, and it is stronger than ever before. It is time for the final fight, but who shall achieve victory?
Work in Process.
Warnings: Characters’ death (major, OC), violence, torture, slash, mild sexual content (het and slash), plenty of evil, etc.



~ ~ ~




Chapter 47: Si, na vethed

(Here, at the End)




Five days later,
The Ethir, Gondor


The smell of the Great Sea hung in the air. After the parched acres of Mordor, the green, moist delta where River Anduin flowed to the Sea was like a blessed land. The day was going to be a beautiful one, the morning sky clear as it reached across the horizon, but Gimli failed to feel its warmth.

At least he was not alone.

The faces around him were all saddened and gloomy. Though it was early, even the Hobbits were already awake, their faces worn after the long travel. They had only briefly stayed in Minas Tirith, mostly to get supplies and patch up the wounded. The Elves had not set foot in the city, choosing to remain with their dead on the edge of Osgiliath. The Men left them alone in quiet reverence, and Gimli knew they were smart to do so.

Now that they had stopped, everyone was hushed and weary. Not many of them could properly rest on horseback, and the Elves had given no indication that they would have preferred to stop to rest, so they had travelled all night. Now the mortals were sitting on a stony patch near the shore, and the Elves had spread out and were building something that looked like small, simple raft.

“They could have asked one of these villages for a boat,” Adír muttered, his small eyes sharply following the antics of the Elves.

“Perhaps it is part of some ancient ritual,” Pippin suggested.

Gimli shrugged, then turned his head to look towards where Aragorn was standing like a silent guardian beside the body of their friend that lay on the ground, covered with a sheet of silk. He felt his chest tighten. It had been five days, and still he felt the overwhelming sorrow and impotent rage take over whenever he looked at Legolas’ lifeless form…

He got up to his feet and walked over to Aragorn. The Man looked down at him and nodded, resting his hand on Gimli’s shoulder as the Dwarf stopped beside him. “Are they building a ship?” Gimli joked.

“Nay. I think they are going to send Legolas away to his final journey on that,” the Man mused.

“It will not be a very long journey,” Gimli observed.

Aragorn smiled sadly. “I am not all that certain it is supposed to be.”

Gimli nodded, then looked down. Part of him yearned to pull back the sheet and hope against all hope that Legolas would open his eyes to look at him, to tell it had all been a mistake, but he knew better than to do that. He had looked at him once while they waited by Osgiliath, and it had been embarrassing to have the Elves see him crying. A child of Aulë should not be so week…

But instead of looking askance at him, the Elves had sat by him, eyes mournful, and sang. Few of the tunes Gimli even recognised as songs Legolas sometimes sung, and while it did not put his heart to ease, it allowed him to sleep a few hours that night.

He was fairly certain there would be other songs today. Mourning, joyless songs of an immortal soul passing beyond those who loved him…

“We might meet him again,” Aragorn said, as if guessing what Gimli had been thinking. But then, they both felt the same pain, and Gimli looked up, nodding.

“Perhaps,” he agreed, then looked upon the Sea Legolas had often spoken of with such passion in his eyes. He wondered if the Elf ever got to smell the Sea air, or had it just been a cry of a gull and a whisper in his dreams?

- - -

The simple raft was ready, and Shannai looked upon it with great sadness.

“How do you bury your dead if there is no sea nearby?” Pippin asked.

“This is not a traditional burial of our people,” Shannai explained.

“Oh,” the Hobbit breathed. Shannai could feel his eyes moving to look up at him. “Are we being a… distraction? Should we leave?”

The Elf looked down at the two Halflings and smiled. “No, my friends. Legolas would have wished you to be here – all of you. And he would have wanted his burial to be… well, something we all can partake and understand.”

“Are you sure that is not what you want?” Gimli noted from where he was standing a few feet away from Legolas’ body. The way he was holding his axe was almost like a threat to anyone who would think of desecrating the body of his best friend.

That had actually been Rafél’s argument when they rode towards Minas Tirith:

“I will not take the chance that someone desecrates his body on our long ride home,” the Guardian had said.

No one argued with him, especially not the mortals who no doubt wished to say farewell to their friend as well. And it was true that their road back to Eryn Lasgalen would have been a long, painful one. It was better to send Legolas to his last journey from here, relatively close to Ithilien where he had dwelled before all this misfortune befell their way.

Rafél and the Cousins walked up to Gimli then, and the Dwarf stepped back with a slight bow of his head. The Elves removed the sheet, then carefully carried their fallen comrade to the raft. Everyone gathered closer, sensing that something was going to happen.

Gandalf muttered a few words of prayer in an ancient language Shannai could not understand, but it sounded fitting. Rafél seemed to approve – he perhaps understood what the Wizard was saying.

Aragorn spoke next, beautiful words in his fluent Elvish; a farewell to a warrior and a dear friend.

“Should we say something?” Merry asked after a moment. He and Pippin glanced at each other, then at everyone else.

“If there is anything your hearts desire to say, then you are welcome to speak,” Gandalf said softly.

“Well, we do not know any Elvish, but…” Merry bit his lips. “He protected us many a time. He gave us a great example of what Elves are.”

“He did not even say anything when he saw us eating an extra loaf of lembas,” Pippin added.

Gimli, Aragorn and Gandalf chuckled at that. The Hobbits smiled, clearly not wanting to offend anyone.

“He was a bull-headed, strong-minded warrior who grew to overcome his own prejudice,” Dínnor said. He and his cousins looked at Gimli.

The Dwarf nodded, then slid his hand into a pocket of his vest. When he pulled it out, the stone birds were gently clutched in his fist. He moved forward, but stopped as Rafél moved to touch his arm.

“Keep them,” the Elf told him. “A memory of hope. Your friendship meant much to him, and he would not want you to forget it either.”

“He has left a lasting impression, fear not,” Gimli joked, but stepped back. There were tears in his eyes. A ray of the sun caught one of the jewels, but now that their inner light was gone, they seemed empty and hollow. “He should have not died like this,” Gimli muttered. “He was not supposed to die at all. What is the point of being immortal if…”

“The world works in mysterious ways,” Gandalf interrupted him. “He gave us a chance to keep on fighting, and gave the Dark army such a blow it will take them a while to recover from it.”

“Ever since a child, that is what he wanted to do most,” Thrénandu chuckled. “He had a will of an ox, and a stubbornness of a mule. His father and brothers fought the darkness within our beloved forest, and he could see no other road for himself but to join that fight. To see us triumph over that evil. And the day they destroyed the Ring, and broke down Dol Guldur…”

“It was a glorious day,” Celeborn agreed.

Shannai looked around. It seemed many had a lot to say, but they would leave it for another time. The long ride home would be filled with stories of the past. But Shannai felt as if a few more should be told. “He was my best friend,” he began. “For hundreds of years. But it does not matter how long; time can be wasted.” He looked at Gimli, then at Rafél. The Guardian’s features were set in stone, and although everyone else was visibly mourning, his exterior had not cracked yet. Shannai guessed he would wait until everyone was not watching.

“We got into the best of adventures,” Shannai added. “And we did a lot of mischief together.” Several groans followed from the Elves, as well as chuckles. “There was this one time I convinced him that our ancestors used to dance naked under the stars. After all, they had no clothes. So Legolas said that we should honour them in a suitable manner… We stripped off our clothes and danced beneath the trees. Of course, a patrol happened to come our way just then. We raced into the trees, but of course Rafél had to be there.” Shannai grinned. “We were good runners, I tell you, and we ran fast, but it seems that once Rafél recovered from the shock and decided to take after us, we were not nearly fast enough.”

Rafél shifted a little.

“Is he blushing?” Asthaldo asked.

“He was quite mad,” Shannai concluded his story. “Once he caught us, he dragged Legolas away. I did not dare to follow him because I was certain he would know it was my idea – which it really was not – and that some grand punishment would come my way.”

“Really…” Rafél noted dryly.

“It was his idea to take off our clothes!” Shannai defended himself.

“Good thing that he said exactly the same thing when he had to explain it to me. I am certain Thranduil would have had another perspective on the matter had he ever found out,” the Guardian snorted.

“You never told him?” Shannai asked, wide-eyed.

“I think we all had embarrassed each other enough for one day,” the older Elf retorted. “You were not exactly children anymore.”

“Ah, the careless years of youth,” Asthaldo sighed dramatically.

“It is… hard to picture him like that,” Pippin admitted.

“He grew up by the time any of us met him,” Aragorn explained. “Although I am sure he and Shannai still got themselves into trouble even then.”

“But of course!” Shannai grinned, then looked down at the still face of his friend and felt the mirth slowly fade away from his heart. “I will miss him.”

“We all will,” Thrénandu agreed.

“He really looks like he is only sleeping,” Merry noted. “I keep expecting him to wake up…” His cousin nodded beside him.

Gandalf straightened a little, leaning on his staff. “May your soul rest in peace, Prince of the Sindar. You have done well.”

“It was an honour to fight beside you,” Aragorn continued.

Gandalf looked at all of them, then nodded. “It is time. Let the Guardian finish his task in private. I know Legolas would have wanted it to be like this.” Then he turned to walk back towards their little camp, and slowly everyone but Rafél followed him.

Shannai turned to look towards the shore until they were a respectable distance away. He wanted to watch, and knew everyone else would too. Behind him, Khai and Ithika began to sing, soon joined by their kinsmen in a sad little hymn. Rafél still stood, looking towards the Sea and its slowly moving waves. Shannai wondered if the Elf was just going to stand there, hoping it would somehow bring back the Elf he had raised, protected, and then fallen in love with.

- - -

The sound of waves crashing against the stones at the shore was oddly soothing. Legolas had once told him, when he returned home after the Ring had been destroyed, that he had heard the cry of a gull, and that the yearning had been awakened inside him. Rafél had never felt it himself, his roots too deep in this land, but right this moment he craved for… absolution.

He was tired, weary, and every beat of his heart made his chest ache. His soul cried out in agony, calling for its lost mate.

Did I ever tell him how much I loved him?

Rafél knew Legolas must have known, for they had been close during these last few months – months of which most they had been forced to spend apart, battling darkness and trying to stay alive. Still he felt unfulfilled, as if there was more he should have said or done; more, to at least make Legolas understand that although unexpected, their love for each other had been just as justified as it was strong.

He looked down finally, knowing there was no hiding from this moment. He had to say goodbye. The younger Elf’s pale yet peaceful features gave him no solace, and would no doubt haunt his dreams whenever he dared to sleep. His protégé was dead, and he could not fight the sense of failure that kept washing over him whenever he thought of Legolas.

Yes, he should have done more.

“Lost,” he whispered. He knew his exterior was cracking, breaking apart as his soul was inside.

He could hear the others singing, but they had left him alone to finish his task; to give him a moment to lament in private. Slowly he knelt beside the raft and slid his fingers lightly over Legolas’ forehead. His skin was as cold as a winter night, making him want to pull back his hand. The light was gone from him, and he could no longer feel Legolas’ fëa beside his own.

“This is not a goodbye,” he decided with determination even when he felt a tear slide down his cheek. His fingers ran over the familiar face once more, shaking slightly. “Will you wait for me?” he asked in a hushed voice. “It will not be forever. Just… a little longer.”

He leaned down to kiss Legolas one more time, but it was like making love to a memory; already slipping through his fingers, a mere ghost of what it used to be.

There was a sound of hooves against rock and sand, then feet hitting the ground as the horse stopped. Rafél looked back, keeping his face impassive as he watched Thaíly walk towards him with a torch in his hand. The other stopped beside him, looking down at Legolas. He did not say anything, but Rafél could sense he also felt the loss.

Rafél stood and pushed the raft to the water. Thaíly followed him, then a dozen feet away from the shore lowered the torch to set the wood on fire. The flames spread slowly, as if it was in no hurry to bury the memory of Legolas, son of Thranduil.

Thaíly stood beside him, silent. They watched the fire spread, wood cracking, a layer of smoke lazily hiding the body from their view. It burned his eyes, but Rafél kept watching. He could not look away. Not now.

“I keep wondering about all the things that led to this moment,” Thaíly finally mused.

“Us standing waist deep in the Great Sea?” Rafél snapped back at him.

“Of us watching your lover’s body burn just few days after he ruined Sauron’s glorious return,” Thaíly corrected smoothly.

Rafél could add nothing to that. He had no desire to think of it now, the loss so fresh he could barely withstand it.

Thaíly lowered the torch to the water. It hissed and went out, after which the half-vampire strode back to the shore and mounted again, then rode away.

The raft was slowly moving away from the shore. Rafél felt a yearning to follow it, but it was not the call of the Sea. He could not go. Not before he bore news home to his King, telling him of his youngest son’s demise. After that…

He raised his voice to a song:

Since your death
Everything has felt so meaningless and vain
That I’ve lost the will to live

Love, your death
Ripped my heart right out and since you went away
Life’s had nothing more to give

Cross my heart and hope to die
May my end come tonight
Across the dark, into the light
May death again us unite

Love, my fate
Will you wait for me there… where our autumn dawns?
There, beyond the dreary seas

Will you wait?
Will you welcome me into your arms once more?
Where our waters still fall free

Cross my heart and hope to die
May my end come tonight
Across the dark, into the light
May death again us unite

Cross my heart and hope to die
May my end come tonight
I’ll depart from this life
May death again us unite

May it come…

My heart went down with you
At your funeral I was buried, too
My life – it ended with your
And I… exist no more.

Once it was over, Rafél still felt the pain in his heart, but he knew that he would survive. One day at the time. From one dreadful hour to the next. And perhaps eventually… all the pain would be gone.





to be continued…





Author’s Note: The song sung by Rafél is Sentenced’s “Cross My Heart And Hope To Die” (Album: The Cold White Light). Beautiful lyrics, so check it out if you can.



Story Info

Comments

Posted by: big_eyed_fish18 (big_eyed_fish18)
Posted at: July 18th, 2009 08:40 am (UTC)

A very sad and powerful chapter. Still love the story and can't wait for more.

Posted by: Del Rion (del_rion)
Posted at: July 18th, 2009 09:49 am (UTC)
Legolas & Aragorn

I have the next two chapters ready to go, but I won't post them until next week... can't give you too much goodies at once, right? ;)

Glad you liked ^^

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