It had started in Mirkwood.

The great cavalcade had set up camp for the night. Legolas was happy—sitting beside the fire with his arm around his beloved, enjoying the simple food, trading witty insults with Gimli and Eomer—when Eowyn suddenly announced that she was retiring for the night.

She rose and said her good nights, stooping to kiss his forehead and whisper, “Do not be too long Lassui…”

He watched her cross the clearing, to the little hut his warriors had built for her to sleep in, turned away—for just a second—to answer some foolish quip from Gimli; and when he turned back, he saw it.

She had tripped over some exposed root or fallen branch—such a tiny stumble that anyone who did not know her, who had not made a close study of all her movements, would never have noticed—but Haldir, returning from his final inspection of the perimeter, noticed—and immediately offered her his arm.

He led her to her tiny shelter and bade her good night, one hand over his heart.

That was all.

But, standing together under the moon, his head bowed, her face raised—its delicate contours bathed in silvery light—they seemed so right together.

And a dark emotion gripped Legolas’ heart, as the voice inside his head whispered, She is not an elf.

Days later, when he sat beside the Anduin, gazing at the flock of noisy white birds wheeling around The Carrock, his fear had not diminished.

“Legolas?” She sat down beside him. “What is wrong, my darling?” She spoke calmly, but he could sense her anxiety.

“Nothing, melmenya…”

“Please do not lie to me, Lassui.”

How could he resist her? “He loves you,” he said.

She was surprised; but she did not ask, he noticed, to whom he was referring. “What are you saying?”

Eowyn!” The bitterness in his voice surprised even him. “Do not deny that you care for him.”

“Is it wrong to care, Lassui?”

“I do not mean… I am not saying that you would ever do anything—dishonourable.”

“What are you saying?”

She began to rise, but he wrapped his arms around her waist, and buried his face in her hair. “You are immortal now, Eowyn nín,” he whispered, “you will not be taken from me; but, one day, you may tire of me.”

For a moment, she was speechless. Then, “Tire of you? Foolish elf! If you want to make me tire of you, this is the way! And to think that I thought…”

She tried once more to pull away, but he held her fast. “What did you think, melmenya?”

“I found you here, watching the gulls—singing of the sea—what do you suppose I thought?” she asked bitterly, her face averted. “I thought you wanted to sail, Lassui… To go where I cannot follow.”

He fell to the ground before her. “I can never leave you, Eowyn nín—when an elf gives his heart, he gives it for eternity. I am bound to you by my very nature. But you… Your heart is human—”

“And inferior to yours?”

“No! It is just—human hearts are made to love and love again.”

“Because we die, Lassui! Time passes and the world changes—we age and our lovers are taken from us. We change… Yes, we love again. But I will not change. Not now… I will be yours forever. Surely you know that, Legolas?”

But the elf did not reply.

“Why does your lady look as if she has lost a silk purse and found a sow’s ear?” asked Gimli, bluntly. From his customary seat, behind Legolas on Arod’s back, he watched Eowyn as she rode along the Great River’s edge, her body slumped in the saddle, her head bowed. “How long are you going to make her wait for an apology?”

“It is complicated, Gimli…”

“No,” said the dwarf, “it is simple—you just go to her and you say ‘I am sorry’.”

Legolas smiled, sadly. “How do you know that I am in the wrong?

“It is obvious,” said Gimli, “—you are the elf.” He squeezed Legolas’ arm. “Are you good enough for her?”

“Am I…?”

“That is all you need consider, lad. And if the answer is no, then sort yourself out quick, and go and apologise to her.”

“I did not know whether you would join me tonight,” said Eowyn, softly.

Legolas closed the door of her little hut. “I nearly did not—I was not sure you would want me to,” he admitted, “but I… Will you forgive me, melmenya?” He made no move to lie beside her, and Eowyn knew that he would not—not without her permission. “I let myself imagine things,” he admitted. “I was intimidated by Haldir.”

“By Haldir! Why?”

“He… Sometimes he makes me feel… Young. Inexperienced. Foolish.”

Eowyn sat up in her bedroll and, reaching out in the dark, laid her hand on his cheek. “Haldir makes everyone feel young and inexperienced, Lassui—that is his way—but you are a wise ruler and a brave, decisive leader; and where you go, Haldir follows, because he is the first to recognise your qualities. He is entirely loyal to you.”

She felt Legolas smile against her fingers. “You will not leave me for him then?”

“You stupid elf!”

“Will you forgive me, melmenya?”

She managed to suppress a laugh; but when she spoke there was a smile in her voice. “Since I am stuck with you for all eternity,” she said, “I suppose I better had.”

 

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Timeline
This takes place between Misrule in Mirkwood and The strange sea road, on the journey home.

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Thank you
To Patricia for asking the question that inspired this.