Darkness descended once more on Middle Earth. It felt heavy on the minds of the elves of Mirkwood. Legolas knew he had to go to Imladris to inform Lord Elrond that the creature Gollum had escaped, but he also felt the weight of what else might await him to the west. If the Ring of Power had indeed been found, he knew he must see to it that it was destroyed. He had no illusions of what that might possibly mean for his own life.
Before leaving for Rivendell, he decided to make one last pilgrimage up into the Mountains of Mirkwood. For nearly a thousand years, he would ride south for a few days a year to visit the lonely lady he had given his heart to. Though she never spoke or acknowledged his presence, he would bring her gifts and talk to her gently, telling her of what had transpired over the previous year. Duarthon and Lithiril, who had joined him on his journeys for a short time, had stopped coming, telling Legolas that it was a lost cause. All it did was add to his sorrow. But still he went, never letting go of the tiny sliver of hope that she would come to love him once more.
He smiled sadly as he rode into the mountain pass, the leaves just beginning to change with the season, adding a bright beauty to the place that seemed wrong for one that was so gloomy. Upon a branch at the entrance to the pass sat a dark hawk, watching him closely. Legolas ignored it, knowing the young bird would be as passive towards him as all his fore-bearers.
His heart skipped a beat as his eyes caught sight of the source of all his happiness and pain. She sat on her front steps, a knife in one hand and a block of wood in the other. Her eyes never left her work as she continued whittling, making no indication she had heard his approach.
"Melamin," he said softly, kneeling down in front of her so he could look at her face, despite her determination to keep her face hidden behind her thick curls. He gently reached out and tucked her hair behind her pointed ear, his fingers lightly brushing her cheek. Her eyes remained on her whittling, and he sighed, putting his hands on her knees as he continued.
"Melamin, I am leaving for Imladris in a few days, and I wanted to say goodbye. The Ring of Power is found and I intend to see it to its end. Since I have felt the darkness of Sauron pressing on my own heart, I know you must be suffering as well. I will do my very best to get rid of his power for good and relieve you of what pain I can. But I do not know what fate has in store for me on this journey. I have accepted the fact that my death is possible. If that is the case, I wanted to see your face one last time before I depart this world." He paused before continuing, carefully taking the knife and carving from her so he could hold her thin hands in his.
"Even after all this time, I want you to know that my love for you has not changed. Your pain is my pain, and I would do anything to free you from it forever. Since I have failed to do so, I must make this one last effort to take the sorrow and pain from your life. If I fail to return, I hope that you will someday find peace and come to me in the Undying Lands. Goodbye, Dimoriel, my love."
As he finished, he leaned forward, placing a swift kiss on her lips. She remained still, staring at her hands as he pulled away with a sigh, remounting his horse and riding away without a backwards glance.
Long after he disappeared, Dimoriel stayed still, her eyes still unseeing as they observed her hands. As the sun disappeared behind the mountains, words barely louder than a whisper escaped her lips.
"Good luck, my love."
Mirkwood was not immune to the plagues that fell upon the realm of men. Hoards of orcs descended upon the forest from the south, Dol Guldur offering a stronghold from which to launch attacks on the northern kingdom and on Lothlorien. For the first time in almost a thousand years, Dimoriel descended from her mountain home into the forests below, joining the fight against the servants of Sauron.
Though she avoided the armies of Mirkwood and Lothlorien when they rested, she would leap into the fighting as soon as it started. Her bloodlust brought her great strength and will. The elves of both armies noticed the lonely elleth that cut a great swath through the enemy lines, but her mystery remained as she vanished into the trees following every fight.
Her infamy grew as the fights continued, only a handful of elves knowing the truth, though none shared their wisdom with the curious soldiers around them. Lord Duarthon caught a glimpse of the elleth as he fought beside the king, sorrow coursing through him at the absolute unbridled rage she brought forth on the orc armies.
When at last the armies were defeated, dead or scattered to the winds, Dimoriel returned to her mountaintop, the darkness of her own heart filling her mind once more. She had heard no word in her months of following the elven armies to indicate whether Prince Legolas had survived, and her worry only added to the darkness inside her.
She was working in her garden late one afternoon when she felt something approaching. It wasn't threatening, but she warily put her hand on her knife as she moved towards the path down from the mountains.
"My lady," Dimoriel said quickly, removing her hands from her knife and bowing low at the sight of Lady Galadriel herself walking into the mountain pass.
"At last we meet, Lady Dimoriel," Galadriel said with a smile, her internal light glowing ever stronger as she approached. "I have looked forward to meeting you for some time."
"Me?" Dimoriel said in surprise. "Why would you have an interest in me?"
"Several months ago, I heard your name for the first time," Lady Galadriel said, putting a pale hand on Dimoriel's forearm. Dimoriel felt dirty, someone as tainted as her being in the presence of such a beautiful light as Lady Galadriel. To be touched by such brilliance was almost painful. "I heard it in the heart of Prince Legolas as he passed through Lothlorien. Even recent grief and heartache could not keep him from thinking of your light." Dimoriel's own heart felt heavy at the news. Even on his grim task, he still spared thoughts for her.
"I have no light," Dimoriel said before she could stop herself. Taking a deep breath, she continued. "I do not deserve him. I am broken and unclean."
Lady Galadriel just smiled, taking Dimoriel's arm and leading her towards her house. Dimoriel had never been embarrassed about the way she lived, but now, to think that the Lady of Light was to see what a horrendous mess she lived in, she felt ashamed.
"You have seen darkness in the hearts of men, and you have let it become reflected in your own heart," Galadriel said, leading her up the stairs to door. "Prince Legolas sees the light in you even when you do not."
"He sees what he wants to see," Dimoriel said as Galadriel let go of her and started across the room. To her horror, she went straight for the wooden chest on her shelf, hidden beneath a stack of books. Galadriel took the chest off the shelf and placed it gently on the table before her eyes returned to Dimoriel's.
"It is you who sees what you choose to see, I think," Galadriel said, her hand on the chest. She opened the lid carefully, exposing the bones inside. "You see the lives you have taken and think that makes you evil."
"I have killed my friends with my own blade," Dimoriel said, disgusted with herself. "That is unforgivable."
"Even those you killed would have forgiven you long ago. You should not hold yourself responsible for their deaths anymore."
"Their deaths brought a blackness to my soul that cannot be so easily mended," Dimoriel said, her eyes on the bones. "I am not fit company for anyone, let alone Prince Legolas."
"You give yourself no credit," Galadriel said, shutting the chest and carrying it over to Dimoriel. "Prince Legolas is too wise and noble to have wasted a thousand years on you if there was no hope."
"But there is none," Dimoriel said, her regret clear in her voice. "I will be alone in these mountains until the end of Arda."
"That will not be your fate," Galadriel said firmly, handing the chest to Dimoriel and taking her arm again as she descended the steps outside once more. "I have just cleansed this forest of a darkness much fouler than what resides in you, Lady Dimoriel, and I can assure you I can do the same for your soul."
"How?" Dimoriel asked, not daring to be too hopeful.
"You must do it yourself, my dear, but I will tell you how. Come, the first thing you must do is burn this chest and its contents."
"Yes," Galadriel said softly. "You must burn them to release the demons you have trapped in the bones. They will crack in the fire, cleansing your spirit of the dark hold they have on you."
"And then what?" Dimoriel asked, feeling her hopes rising despite her common sense trying to suppress them.
"You must make a journey south. Leave this place behind for good and find your future beyond this forest."
Legolas rode atop Arod through the Ithilien. Even with all the damage the War had done, it was still beautiful and held so much promise. He knew at a glance that he would settle here, bringing a host of elves to re-grow the forest, returning it to its former glory.
As his thoughts wandered freely, his eyes following a hawk's flight through the forest, he heard a soft sound coming through the trees. He instructed Arod to stop as he listened, recognizing the melodious sound of a flute playing a happy tune. Who would be out in these woods, so recently filled with the armies of Sauron, sitting around playing a flute? He curiously followed the sound, listening to the beautiful notes. There was something familiar about the song that he couldn't quite place.
It was with no small amount of shock that his eyes fell on Lady Dimoriel, lounging in a tree just ahead of him. Her back was against the trunk as one foot in her usual brown boots hung off the branch, the other leg bent as her foot rested flat on the branch below her. Her tunic was of a warm green, the silver buckle on her leather belt shining in the afternoon sun. Her eyes remained closed as he rode up to her, not quite believing she was there. As she finished her song, her eyes opened, her hands holding the flute coming to rest on her lap.
"Good day, my lord," she said with a nod of her head and a smile. "What can I do for you?"
"This isn't real," Legolas said, staring at her in disbelief. After all, this would not be the first time her ghost had haunted him, though never had she appeared to him in his waking hours. "You are not really here."
"I am here," she said, putting the flute away and leaping lightly from the tree. He dismounted Arod slowly, feeling slightly dazed as his eyes met hers once more. "This is real."
"Why?" Legolas asked softly. "Why are you here?"
"After cleansing Mirkwood of the evil that had taken hold once more, Lady Galadriel sought me out in the mountains," Dimoriel said gently, taking a step closer to him, but still not touching him. He wanted to reach out and touch her, but he was still afraid she was an illusion, and would disappear before his fingers reached her. "She has given me instructions as to how to rid myself of my own demons."
"How are you to do this?" Legolas said, his breathing shallow, feeling a light of hope in his heart.
"First, I had to burn the chest," she said softly. "Then I had to come south and stand on the ground where I had committed my crimes. I did both. My demons left when the bones cracked and my soul mended when I repented on the plains where I had taken the lives of my friends. But I have one more task to complete before I am through."
"What is that?"
"My soul has been emptied of the darkness inside it, but I must now fill it with light. I cannot do so on my own." Legolas felt the breath catch in his throat as she reached out and put a hand on his cheek. Her warmth immediately ran through his body, indicating that she really was here, standing in front of him, telling him that she was free. He kept silent, watching her, eager to hear the new softness in her voice. "I need your light, Legolas. The only light that can fill the void in my heart is the light I feel from your love. I love you, Legolas, and I am truly sorry for all that I have made you suffer. Only with your love and forgiveness will I be whole again."
Legolas did not respond. Instead, he reached forward, pulling Dimoriel towards him as he met her lips with his. There was no hesitation, no pulling back this time. Dimoriel kissed him back, wrapping her arms around his neck as he lifted her toes off the ground, his arms around her waist.
It was a long time before he broke the kiss, still not putting her down as he looked up into her pale green eyes. "You have my forgiveness," he said softly as she smiled radiantly down at him. "And you have always had my love." He captured her lips once more as he felt all the darkness of the past melt away. All that was left was the pure and blinding white light that came from true love recognized at last.
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