The roads of Minas Tirith were barren, for no man walked them, no merchant shop was open, for all were mourning the ill health of their king. Elessar was even now lying in the Halls of Healing, dying.
"Legolas," came the whisper from the bed.
The elf still did not turn to face his friend. When he heard the pleading in the voice again, he knew he could not ignore it. Slowly his eyes came to meet those of his friend. Both were damp with the tears that they had shed.
"Legolas, will you honor my wishes?"
"Estel, I cannot take you away from your kingdom, your people. Estel you are not well."
Estel sighed, and tried to ignore the weariness draining his body. Lifting himself into a sitting position he reached out to clasp the slender hand in his wrinkled one.
"Legolas, this I beg of you. I am too proud to die here, hovered over by healers. Let me ride with you again to those places we went as children."
Knowing in his heart that he could not deny Estel this last wish, Legolas helped him to stand, and they packed swiftly to depart.
Estel sagged upon the horse chosen for him, but his heart felt lighter knowing he was going to be with Legolas, that they were going to relive the past, and visit places he had not seen in many years. They had barely left Minias Tirith when Estel began to cough, his lungs desperately seeking the wonderful intake of air they could not seem to grasp.
"Estel!" Legolas screamed, jumping from his own horse and running to where Estel sat struggling.
"Estel, how can I help?"
Estel shooed the hands away from him, and finally sat up again breathing in the short breaths.
"I am fine now Legolas. Please let us go on. I wish not to delay any longer."
For two days they rode onward, Legolas' constant worry starting to tear apart his heart. As the moonlight began to glow off in the distance Estel could just make out the top of a building.
"Legolas, it is as I remember it. The Golden Hall of Meduseld still stands. Long has it been since my eyes have seen it."
The two friends searched all through Edoras and even had a drink of ale with the descendents of Eomer. It was like they had never left, but soon the days activities had taken their toll on Estel, and he fell fast asleep.
The next morning they departed, and headed out again. They came across Lothlorien in the next few days and Estel was glad to see the Golden Woods. His strength had begun to fail him, and he knew it would not be much longer before he would leave this world behind him.
As they walked through the mallorn trees, Estel longed to hear the elven voices in song, but as it had long ago been left to the elements, Estel only heard silence. He glanced to the tree where he had proclaimed his love for Arwen, and to the many places he had sat watching Eldarion in play.
As if sensing Estel's distress Legolas began singing. It was the Lay of Luthien for he knew it was Estel's favorite, and soon the frown that had deepened the adan's face disappeared.
"I recall the look on Pippin's face as Galadriel caught him trying to drink the water from her basin," Estel said, a laugh forming in his chest.
"He didn't, did he?"
At the vigorous nod from Estel, Legolas' mouth dropped open in shock.
"The Lady Galadriel did not kill him instantly for this?"
"Nay, she did not kill him, but do you recall the elven robe he slept in that night?"
"I do recall him being in the attire of the elves. I had asked him then, but he refused to answer."
"Well since he is no longer here, it is safe to say that his own clothes were soiled the moment his eyes caught sight of Grandmother glowing that awful green color."
He and Legolas sat there for many hours, talking about times past, laughing about the antics of Pippin and Merry, and sombering at all the friends they had lost.
Estel laid down under the same tree he and Arwen had pledged their love to one another. He knew his time was growing shorter each day, but he would not falter before he laid eyes on Imladris again. King Thranduil was to meet them there, in two days time. Estel just hoped he had two days left.
The travel had become burdensome. Estel's chest heaved just to draw in air, but he would speak nothing of it to Legolas.
Legolas knew Estel was suffering, struggling, but he also knew his pride would refuse any help. He could do nothing but watch, and try to swipe the tears rolling down his face before Estel saw them.
"Estel, do you see it off in the distance?"
Estel looked to where Legolas was pointing and saw nothing, but he knew he was almost home. He could feel the woods welcoming him, and he was almost sure he could hear the trees speaking to him.
"We can stop just ahead for the night, and we will reach Imladris by noonday tomorrow."
As Legolas turned to help Estel from his horse he saw the look his friend gave him. Staring at him were gray eyes, filled with the pain of remembering, but also ones of renewal.
"We cannot linger here Legolas. I must get home soon, for I wish to lay my eyes upon it and I cannot rest until I do."
Legolas saw the paleness of his features, the color slowly draining away, and taking his life with it. His heart clinched, but he knew Estel was determined to get to Imladris, and he would help him.
Estel's horse slowed as it entered the courtyard, and before he fell from it Legolas was there. Grabbing Estel, and placing his arm around him, Legolas helped him to walk into the Last Homely House.
The halls once alive with the bickering of the twins, and the constant muttering from Erestor were now silent. No Glorfindel coming for lessons, no Elladan trying to sneak into the young maidens room, and yet Estel could see them all as if they still remained. The smile did not leave his face, until he stepped into the darkened study. Here was were he spent many nights, curled in his Ada's lap. It was here he fell asleep, not knowing when Thranduil picked him and Legolas up, carrying them to bed as if they were children again.
Legolas awoke with a start. The room was dark, but he could see the outline of his father sitting by the fire. His face was as youthful as ever, but his eyes held the worry of many years.
"Ada?" Legolas whispered.
Thranduil turned and walked over to where his son laid. Taking a seat next to him he waited for Legolas to speak.
"Ada, I have worried we would not make it. Estel is here, but he came here to die and I do not know if I can watch it. I can't lose him Ada, I simply cannot."
Thranduil held Legolas as he cried all the tears he had refused to let fall in front of Estel. Legolas had been nothing but a broken shell before he and Estel had met, and afterwards Thranduil had seen him return to his vibrant self. The death of his mother had been hard on Legolas, and he had pent up all his grief and anger inside. It had been one stormy night when Thranduil had seen the then ten year old Estel run to the screaming Legolas, comforting him. That night secrets had been revealed. Estel had spoken of losing his parents, and Legolas finally told someone his fears.
"Legolas, my son, Estel shall need you in the end."
The tears now threatened to choke him. "I can't watch him die Ada, or I will follow. How can I go on without him? He is my friend."
Both jumped when they heard the reply come from Estel's bed.
"Nay Legolas you are my brother. You have been there when my son was born, you were there when I married, and now I wish nothing more than you to be here when I leave this world. Please do not fret. My parents, and your naneth shall watch over me."
"Estel," Legolas said, burying his head beside his friend. "I have seen too much death, to see yours will surely kill me."
Thranduil watched Estel beg Legolas to go on without him, but deep down he knew his son would be the same elf he saw after his wife's death so long ago. He feared he would again be waiting for his slow decline into death. Sitting down on the bed, he pulled Legolas into his lap and stroked his hair and rocked him. A decision had been made.
The night was fading away to the sunlight. The rays were just now peeking through the window, and as its rays fell on Estel and Legolas' face, they appeared to be angelic. Thranduil knew his time would be today, the trees had spoke of it. Sighing he waited for them to waken.
Estel was the first to stir, and when he tried to move his head, he saw the blond head lying next to his on the pillow. His slight movement brought Legolas to the waking world. Blinking back the sleep from his eyes, he waited for Estel to speak.
Estel was trying to tell Legolas something, but the words caught in his throat. He could feel the pull of darkness trying to grasp at him, but he knew he wanted to speak to Legolas one last time.
"Legolas," he choked out. This brought Legolas closer to his side.
"I would never change a thing. You have been my friend for many years, my confidant, the person who stood by my side in battle, and in tears. Know I regret nothing my brother."
Estel clasped Legolas' hand in his tightly and the last words fell from his lips. "I love you Legolas, good bye my brother," and then Estel drifted off into the eternal dream.
The wails from Legolas could be heard throughout the valley of Imladris, and as he laid his head on Estel, he could feel the darkness trying to creep into his heart. He could not accept it. Estel was gone. When his father's hand came to rest on his shoulder, Legolas looked up to see the tears rolling down his face. This was a strange sight indeed for his father had not cried since the passing of his naneth. Legolas wanted to comfort him, but his grief held him at bay.
Thranduil engulfed his son in his arms, breathing in the scent of lavender on his clothes, and wiping away the stray tears from his face, before bringing his gaze to meet his. What he saw there justified what he was about to do. In his son's eyes he saw the same emptiness he had seen centuries before.
"Go to him Legolas, go to him and be at peace. He and your mother await you. I love you, but your place is with him now."
As he watched Legolas, he saw his son release all holds he had on his physical body, and soon Thranduil sat with his son in his arms. He was gone, but Estel had needed him more.