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The First Green Leaf

Disclaimer: see in the Foreword.

Author’s Notes:
Yes, I know it was mean to bring the original Legolas into the game. But he is such an interesting character, who played an important role in Idril’s (and therefore Eärendil’s) escape from Gondolin, and it is a shame that he rarely even gets mentioned (except in Cirdan’s stories). All relations between him and Legolas Thranduilion from LOTR are purely my doing, not canon.


8. The First Green Leaf

Legolas?” repeated Celebrían in confusion, for the venerable Lord of Eglavain had little to no resemblance to the fiery, auburn-haired, exotic-looking Prince of Northern Mirkwood who had been a frequent and much-beloved guest in Elrond’s house for the last two thousand years.

“Legolas of the House of the Trees, also called Greenleaf, or Laiqalassë in the Ancient Tongue,” someone answered, and in the dark-haired, strangely greying Elf she recognized Ilverin’s father whom she had not seen since their fleeting encounter in the haven of Avallónë.

“Voronwë,” she said as a manner of greeting, and he nodded politely.

“Lady Celebrían. This must be confusing for you, I deem. Rarely do Elves born in later Ages wear names that belong to the Elder Days.”

“Are the two related somehow?” Celebrían asked, for Legolas of Mirkwood rarely spoke of his sires, and even if he did, he only spoke of his father. Voronwë nodded again; being bound to Galdor obviously made him well-informed about the affairs of Middle-earth.

“Rather closely, I would say,” he answered. “Our Legolas is the brother of one Nellas from Doriath(1), who was King Thranduil’s mother.”

This surprised Celebrían more than a little.

“I cannot remember to have even heard Oropher’s wife being mentioned,” she said. Voronwë sighed.

“Small wonder. She made it not out of Doriath; they say she was slain before the eyes of her young children, neither of whom had come of age yet at that time.”

He fell into silence, and remembering what Ilverin had told her about the loss of his mother, Voronwë’s Silvan wife, Celebrían tactfully remained silent, too. After a while, however, Voronwë picked up the thread of their conversation again, s if he felt the need to speak about those events in his own past.

“’Tis a shame that the deeds of Legolas Greenleaf(2) of the House of the Tree are now forgotten among the descendants of Eärendil. For without him, whose eyes are like cats’ for the dark, Galdor would never be able to lead those who escaped from Gondolin through Idril’s secret way over Tumladin in that fateful night. ‘Tis due to Legolas’ keen eyes and Glorfindel’s sacrifice that Eärendil was saved and Middle-earth could stand forth.”

He cast a quick look at Celebrían’s surprised face. “You knew naught of this, my Lady? How strange!”

“Elrond was but a small child when Eärendil left, and who could tell how much Elwing knew,” she replied. “And after Elwing, too, was gone and Elrond and his brother taken by the son of Fëanor, there was no-one to remember anymore, as Glorfindel had not returned yet.”

“I cannot imagine that he would praise his own deeds, even if he had,” said Voronwë. “Mayhap earlier, in the days of Gondolin’s glory, he would have. But not after he has treated the paths of the dead.”

She nodded. “Tis true. He willingly answers when asked about the Blessed Realm, but wraps himself in silence whenever it comes to Gondolin and its fall. No wonder; who would like to speak of their own death?”

“Death is something Elves were never meant to experience,” said Voronwë slowly, “’Tis alien to us, and mayhap that is why we accept it so unwillingly. If someone we are bound to dies, ‘tis as if part of our own fëa would die with them. I could see it in my father’s eyes when my mother was lost, and I could feel it ever since my own wife was slain. And as she refused to go to Mandos and chose to become an unhoused spirit that perished with the lands it could not leave, my heart, too, has been crippled for eternity.”

“But you have formed a new bond – have you not?” asked Celebrían.

“I have,” replied Voronwë, “and without Galdor I would be lost, too. For I was fading rapidly when he found me,” he gestured towards his silver-sparkled hair, “and without him I would never find the strength to face the Sea again, after the terrors of my last journey, searching for Valinor. I might have ended up like one of the Unhoused, myself.”

Celebrían gave no immediate answer. Not so long ago, it seemed selfish that she had not fled her body in the den of the Orcs – a mistake even, for it brought her family no relief, only more pain. Yet know she was wondering what her death might have done to Elrond. He suffered badly enough from their separation as it was, but how would he take the news of her death? She was torn between her love for him and the wish that their children would remember her as she used to be, not the broken, unfortunate creature she had become. But even though she felt guilty for having left him, just like everyone else in his life had done, she was certain that watching her fading little by little with every passing day would have broken his heart beyond healing. Thus she chose the lesser evil – the one that might still harbour some hope that one day, when her spirit has been healed, they might be reunited again.

“Is that the reason why Ilverin has no chosen mate?” she asked. “The fear to lose another beloved one?”

Voronwë thought about this for a moment.

“I cannot tell,” he finally admitted, “for even though he is my only son, sometimes the ways of his mind are strange to me. That what you said might be part of his reasoning; yet I believe ‘tis mostly because he hopes to return to Irmo’s gardens one day. There he found a true home, among the spirits that attend on Irmo and Estë, and I deem that his time there had changed him somehow, restoring the old innocence of the Quendi in his heart – which is why he is called Littleheart among our people.”

While he was speaking, they had reached the main table, and Voronwë led Celebrían to their host and introduced her. And Legolas of Gondolin spoke the time-honoured words of welcome in Sindarin, first in the old-fashioned manner as it had been spoken in Beleriand in the days of his youth, then, seeing that she had difficulties understanding him, in the fashion that was still spoken in both Imladris and Lothlórien.

“Sit with me, my Lady,” he asked, and it was strange for her to hear his deep, pleasant voice instead of the light, silvery one she was used to associate with that name, “for I am eager to hear of my friend Celeborn and how he fares back in the Great Lands.”

“You know my father?” she asked in surprise, while accepting the offered chair – it was low and comfortable, woven of willow-twigs and softened by silk pillows. Legolas laughed.

“You can say that, my Lady. Indeed, I was a friend of his father, long ere our people followed the summons of King Turgon to join his folk, first in Nevrast and then in refuge of Gondolin. And I returned to Doriath for a short while after the Hidden City had fallen, for my sister lived there still. Yet ever since Doriath, too, had been destroyed and our people astray all over the Outer Lands, I heard but little of him – or of my own kindred,” he added, saddening. “I know that Oropher, my sister’s husband has been slain in Mordor during the Last Alliance, but that is all.”

“His only son, Thranduil, is still King of the Greenwood,” said Celebrían, a little uncertain what she should say, “though his realm now contains only the northern third of that forest. And I do know one Legolas Thranduilion rather well.” She paused, looking hesitatingly at her host and said: “He is nothing like you, I fear. He does have the fine features of his father, yet in all else he comes after his mother, who is said to have been a Dark Elf.”

“There is nothing wrong with that,” the Lord of Eglavain shrugged, “not in my eyes anyway. The Noldor never truly understood the Hisildi, which is why most of our people think badly of them, calling them Avari and other less-than-friendly names. I for my part can understand why they wanted not to leave the lands of their birth. Neither did Lenwë, my forefather of old, turning back from the Great Journey with the Laiquendi(3). And so would have done I, too, were it not for my wife who was killed along the way by Morgoth’s monsters. But when she is released from Mandos, she cannot return to Middle-earth – no-one can. Glorfindel alone was ever allowed to do so. Thus, if I wanted to be with her again – which I want more than aught else on Arda – I had to come to the West.”

“Yet you did go no further than Tol Eressëa,” she said. “Why?”

“This place is what Middle-earth was meant to be,” answered Legolas softly, “and here I intend to remain. I have no doubt that my wife will join me when she can. We are both Laiquendi who prefer to live in the forest. Eglavain will do us just nicely. But hush now, for the music is about to begin, and I am certain that you would hate to miss as much as a single tone of it.”

While the people of Eglavain brought forth the food and set it on the tables, others with harps and pipes and small drums sat down on the grass, on pillows or on sawn rings of the felled trees, forming a loose half-circle, the open end of which looked towards the tables. Right before them upon the smooth glass, tall, slender shapes began to form – they were half-translucent and shimmering like pure mithril, and Celebrían realized with caught breath what she was seeing: the spirits of the winds, taking on corporeal forms, so that they would be visible for their Elven hosts.

The whole gathering sat utterly enchanted, no-one even touched the food set before them, for in Elvenhome, just as Ilverin had said, this was a rare sight indeed. They were fortunate that the First Meal of Samírien traditionally started with various sorts of leaf cake, fruit and wine, so that the food getting cold did not become a disturbance.

Then the music started, sweet and yet full of vigour, and the Súruli began to dance, weightless and fleeting like flittering flames, their not-quite-solid bodies changing in the rhythm of their movements, glittering in the golden and silver flame of the lamps that were hung upon the lowest branches of the great oak-trees. And above the music their voices arose, not whispery any more but sonorous like the sighing of mighty winds, swelling to new heights with every new turn of their dance. And still singing, they broke the circle of their dance, each grabbing two Elves by the hand and sweeping them into the dance like the whirlwind.

And among all that whirling and singing and powerful music, Celebrían laughed.


End notes:
(1) Yes it is Túrin’s childhood friend! I gave her the credit of being smart enough to marry someone suitable – and used the idea of blond Nandor Elves to explain Thranduil’s golden hair, regardless of him being a Sindarin Prince.

(2) Believe or not, this is how he is mentioned in “The Lost Tales”, at least in Christopher Tolkien’s comments.

(3) The Green-Elves of Ossiriand (Nandor Elves).


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