As they moved closer to Lothlorien the air became warmer and sweeter, the atmosphere more still and serene. Storm sensed no threats to their well being in the surrounding woods. About an hour or two before nightfall, Storm halted them for the last time. “We will be comfortable here for the night. There is a brook to fish in and it should be safe to have a cooking fire. When we are ready to sleep for the night, we can use one of the tree platforms. You look tired Legolas of Mirkwood, would you like to rest on the bank while I gather wood?”
Legolas merely nodded his ascent. He was reluctant to admit it, but he was too tired to talk, let alone walk further. He sunk down on the mossy banks of a gentle brook and promptly fell into sleep.
While Legolas rested, Storm busied herself with finding them dinner. She had a small fire burning and several fish cooking when Legolas finally opened his eyes. Despite the lembas bread they had eaten during the day, he had a fierce appetite and ate heartily.
“I am again in your debt, Storm. I would never have made it through this day without you. What can I do to repay you?”
Storm considered his question thoughtfully and then smiled. “I have rarely traveled beyond the borders of my homeland, Legolas. Tell me of Mirkwood and the other places you have visited. I long to hear more of the outside world.”
Legolas nodded his agreement and spun for Storm vivid tales of his homeland and his childhood. The moon was high in the sky when Legolas told Storm about his long friendship with Aragorn of the Rangers.
“Aragorn is a friend to Lothlorien and a personal friend to me as well,” Storm told Legolas, “although it has been many years since he has walked these forests. His true love, Arwen Eveningstar, is much more often within these borders. She suffers very greatly from their long absences, but would never renounce his love. Their deep and abiding passion has always struck me as an ideal, the type of love found in the legends of our people that the rest of us merely dream of,” Storm said absently, poking the fire with a stick.
“I am one of those dreamers,” replied Legolas candidly, in a soft voice. “To see Aragorn and Arwen together is to be forever unsatisfied with anything less. I mean no disrespect to the family of Lorien, but I wish to marry for love, if marry I must. I did not mean to be so long delayed on my trip to Lothlorien, but my heart grew heavier with every mile. How do I choose a bride among strangers? Do I look for the most beautiful ornament for the court of Mirkwood? Do I look for the most motherly to raise my children? Do I pick the best hostess or the most diplomatic? Perhaps a great shield maiden is what my lands need in these dangerous times. My heart and my intellect are at war with each other—can I satisfy the one and still satisfy the other?”
Storm was surprised at the depth of his anguish, the harshness of his tone. She continued to poke thoughtfully at the fire before responding, “I am sorry for your conflict Legolas of Mirkwood, but do not know how to ease it. The nieces of Galadriel are raised to be the brides of princes and kings. They would like to be pleased by their future husbands’ faces and manners and deeds, but by and large do not concern themselves with the nature of true love. I do not truly know what fate awaits your heart in Lothlorien, or that of your intellect. I cannot help but ask however, that if your heart could choose, what would you wish for in a bride?”
Legolas puzzled over this for a moment and then laughed at himself. “That is a fine question, isn’t it? I would wish for someone loyal and true. I would wish for someone who cares about me, who I am, not what I am. I would wish for someone who I feel at ease talking with, who will not judge me. I believe I could only fall in love with someone who loves the forest as I do, who loves the feel of the sun and the rain and the wind. She must long to see the ocean and hear the call of the gull. She would of course, be lovely to my eyes because she would be dear to my heart. And I would always be welcome in her arms, free to lay my head upon her chest, to lose myself in her embrace.”
Storm met Legolas’ eyes again with that disturbing intensity. “That is a great deal to ask of love Legolas of Mirkwood.”
They were both silent for a time. Legolas spoke first, “Do you ask much of love as well Storm of Lothlorien?” Legolas saw some sadness, some inner pain flicker deep in Storm’s eyes.
“I have known true love, Legolas of Mirkwood. It was a powerful thing. I know only that I could never be satisfied with a political marriage. But I am not the Prince of Mirkwood and fortunately I am not faced with your dilemma. Only you know how to best balance the wishes of your heart with the demands of your throne. My position, my perspective, is very different. Storm of Lothlorien no longer asks anything of love.”
Legolas met Storm’s eye with an intense look of his own. “You speak as someone who has experienced great loss, Storm of Lothlorien. It pains my heart to see a lad so young and so full of life give up on love. You feel a fellow dreamer to me. Do not stop listening to your heart.”
It took a moment for the full impact of Legolas’ words to reach Storm. She now sat in stunned silence. With all her fine, sharp senses she had not detected one very important fact over the course of the day— Legolas of Mirkwood thought she was a lad!
© Christine Elizabeth Ray – All Rights Reserved