Is that our star?
Eärendil? Legolas looked upwards, in the direction
of her pointing hand. Yes, Melmenya.
He is still beautiful, she said, wistfully. Then,
Can I ask you something, Legolas?
Something more? I shall have no secrets left, Eowyn
Do you need secrets from me?
The elf smiled. The day had broken down the last emotional barrier
that had stood between them. No Melmenya, I need no secrets
from you. What do you want to ask me?
How old are you?
Legolas was taken aback.
I know that you are young, continued Eowyn, by
elven standards, but
Does it really matter, Eowyn nín?
Will you not tell me? Now there was a pleading in
her voice that did not sound like his Eowyn.
He took her in his arms. No secrets, he thought. But how
would she react to the truth?
Two thousand, nine hundred and thirty-seven years,
He felt her body go limp.
He lifted her into his arms and carried herhis precious
human wifecradled safely against his chest. I am still
your Legolas, he reminded her.
She did not reply.
You are older than Arwen, she said, at last. And
I am younger than Aragorn.
Does it matter, my darling?
I do not know.
What does your heart tell you, Eowyn nín?
My heart wants you to make love to memake love to
me and never stopbe inside me forever, and never, ever,
I shall never leave you.
But I shall leave you, Legolas. I shall leave...
He had no answer to that. So he kept on walking, painfully aware
that she was crying, and battling to hold back tears of his own.
Gradually, the silent sobbing stopped, the sniffs became less
frequent, and the gulps of air less necessary. Has he changed?
Has who changed, meleth nín?
Eärendil. In all those years, have you seen him change?
The stars do not change, Melmenya. They are the one thing
that remains constant
Eärendil has not been constant, she insisted.
When he was a man, he was not a star; and that piece of
sky would have been empty.
That was long before I was born, Melmenya. It was...
He smiled. You are right. The stars do change.
But not elves.
Elves change. I have changed.
Because of the sea.
Because of many things. Because of Aragorn and Gimli and
the hobbits. Because of the War andand everything I saw
on the Quest. But, most of all, because of you, Eowyn nín.
I see things differently through your eyes. Like the stars tonight.
Is that is a good thing, Legolas?
How could it not be?
It could make you less elven.
Oh, Melmenya! He stopped walking, to concentrate
better on what he needed to say. Those of us who choose
to remain here, in this Age of Men, Eowyn nín, must do
one of two things, he said. We must either withdraw
into the forest, and hide from men, pretending that the world
has not changed, or we must mix with men freelyand, perhaps,
become more like them.
She was silent.
Something else is troubling you.
She sniffed again. Three thousand years is so longin
all that time you must have known so many womenellithso
why would you choose me?
I did not choose you, Melmenya. You chose me.
Yes. You ran into the Golden Hall and you stole my heart.
I had no say in the matter.
It is true. None at all.
He felt her body shake, and realised that she was laughing against his shoulder.
That is better, Melmenya. Much better. Now, have we talked
enough for tonight? Because I am tired.
She fell asleep soon after.
And Legolas kept walking, his thoughts turning to another starry
night, some years earlier, in Minas Tirith.