Two Souls, One Heart
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Merry and Pippin looked around, counting the heads in the small glade. They only counted seven.
“Where’s Legolas?” Pippin demanded, running up to Aragorn and shaking the man’s sleeve.
“I think he’s still with Lady Galadriel,” Aragorn replied. “Don’t go looking for him, Pippin- you might get lost in this place.”
Pippin walked back to Merry and sat down. “We can’t look for him,” he reported. “We have to wait till he comes back.”
Lady Galadriel gave Legolas a long look before speaking.
“Tell me, Legolas, have you ever heard of the maiden, Elgalad?” she asked.
Legolas raked his mind for the name, but drew a blank. “No,” he answered, shaking his head, “I have never heard the name.”
“Strange,” the Lady of the Wood mused. “She claims to know you quite well.”
“I’m sorry, but I know none who go by that name,” Legolas apologized, bowing his head.
Galadriel suddenly smiled. “I am sure you have seen Elgalad before,” she told him, “but if you say you have not met, then I shall introduce you. Prince Legolas of Mirkwood, I present to you Lady Elgalad of Lothlórien. She is my grand-niece, the daughter of my brother’s only child, Lady Malloth. I believe you know her as Menelanna.”
The Elf in the white dress and veil behind the Lady stepped forward and took off her scarf. Pushing her hair away from her face, she looked at Legolas, her dark eyes shining, and smiled gently.
Legolas’ jaw dropped in shock. “Menelanna? It’s really you?” he breathed.
Pippin noticed two figures on the terrace in the tree that stood at the right of their campsite. He knew it had to be Legolas- he had seen no other Elf in Lothlórien that wore roughspun clothes of green and brown. Besides, he reasoned, if you looked at the same people for months, you’d know them anywhere.
“Legolas is up there!” he told the others.
“You never told me you lived here, much less you were the grand-niece of the Lady of the Wood!” Legolas exploded. He had been waiting at the terrace for a while- Menelanna had gone to her home to change into more comfortable clothes.
Elgalad, or Menelanna has Legolas knew her, had changed out of the white dress and veil and into the clothes Legolas had always seen her in: breeches, boots, a light cloak, and a plain shirt. She had pulled her hair away from her face; it was held at the nape of her slender neck by a clasp of silver wire wrought to look like a vine.
“You never asked,” she countered, turning to face him. Her eyes searched his face. “You’ve changed,” she suddenly remarked.
Legolas was not startled by the quick change of subject. He was used to Menelanna jumping from one thing to another. “You haven’t, not even a bit,” he told her. “How long has it been since we last saw one another?”
“Too long,” Menelanna replied softly, leaning on the railing of the terrace. She fiddled with a ring around her middle finger. “Too long.”
Legolas went to her side and looked down. Below them was the glade where the rest of the Fellowship was, he could see each of them quite clearly. They can probably see everything up here if they squint, he thought, frowning.
“Well, he’s there but he’s not coming down,” Frodo told them, squinting hard at the terrace. “And he has a girl with him!”
Boromir looked up as well. “Pretty lass,” he commented, also narrowing his eyes in order to see. “Very good-looking. Looks like they’re talking.”
“D’you think-” Merry began.
“-That she’s Legolas’-” continued Pippin.
“-Sweetheart?” Sam finished.
Aragorn shrugged. “Maybe,” the tall man said. “Maybe.”
“What’re they staring for?” Menelanna asked.
Legolas groaned and ducked his head, smacking it on the rail. The last thing I need is for everyone to look. Even if they can’t see as far as Elves can, they can still see if they look hard enough, he mused, rubbing his forehead.
Menelanna cupped his cheek in her hand, smiling. “You always overreact,” she laughed, stroking his cheek. “Let them look if they want to. It never bothered you when we were in Mirkwood.”
“I didn’t know you were the grand-niece of the Lady of the Wood back then,” Legolas mumbled.
“I’m still Menelanna.”
“She called you ‘Elgalad’. What’s with that?”
“That’s what my mother named me.”
“So you’re not really Menelanna.”
“I changed my name because I didn’t want to be called ‘Elf-light’!” “It’s still your real name.”
Menelanna dropped her hand and turned away, her shoulders slumped. “I’m still the same person on the inside,” the Elf said softly. “Why does everything have to change just because you have discovered my birth name and my heritage? I didn’t demand a change when I learned who you were!”
“I’m not demanding a change!” Legolas exclaimed. “I’m just asking why you…why you didn’t tell me about this!” Menelanna faced him. “I was going to tell you,” she said, “but Mother didn’t want me to stay any longer in Mirkwood. She thought you were a bad influence to me. Mother didn’t understand…she never did.”
“So you were just looking for the right time?”
“Trust me, I never imagined you’d find out this way.”
Legolas chuckled. “You’re always full of surprises, Menelanna,” he said.
“You are, too,” Menelanna replied, turning to look at him again. “I missed you.”
Legolas stepped forward and drew her close. “I missed you, too.”
The seven others craned and strained their eyes in order to see Legolas and the mysterious Elf that was with him. They could not see very well, but their eyesight was not poor. In fact, when they saw Legolas draw the Elf to him, Merry let out a yelp of surprise.
“Look at that!” he squeaked, pointing. “Can you see that? Can you see that?”
“We see it, we see it!” Frodo insisted, cuffing Merry on the back of his head. “Be quiet, Merry! They’ll hear!”
“Who is that Elf-maiden, anyway?” Gimli muttered.
Menelanna rested her head against Legolas’ shoulder and put her arms around his neck. His breath tickled her ear, and she could hear and feel his heart beating in his chest. The fabric of his jacket was soft and warm under her cheek, and the cool silver of his shirt clasp pressed against it.
When was the last time she’d been held like this? It had been so long…
An unwanted tear trickled down her cheek. She brushed it away and pulled out of Legolas’ arms. He let her go, watching her as she peered down into the clearing below.
“They’re still looking,” she told him.
“Hey, d’you think Legolas will mind?” Sam asked out of the blue.
“Nah,” Pippin assured him. “Legolas is a cool-tempered person. He won’t mind if we-”
Legolas leaned over the rail and shouted down, “Look for somebody else to spy on! There are plenty of Elves around here!”
Aragorn laughed. “All right,” he yelled back. To the six others, he said, “Well, I guess he does mind. Come along- let’s look for something to do.”
Legolas rolled his eyes. “They’re worse than your brothers, Menelanna.”
Menelanna smiled. “Oh, I miss them a lot, even though they always teased us.”
“You miss those monsters?”
“May I remind you that you were a monster yourself when we first met.”
“Only because I was frustrated with my father’s councilors! I apologized, remember?”
“I was just teasing. Don’t take it so personally!”
They leaned on the railing and there was a moment or two of silence. Then Menelanna looked at Legolas and asked softly, “What happened to Gandalf? Why did he pass?”
Legolas drew in a shaky breath. The grief still hovered over him, but he could tell Menelanna.
And so he told her everything that had happened on the bridge of Khazad-dûm, and he did not falter once.
“Lady Galadriel, where is my daughter?” Malloth asked. She had found her aunt tending to some flowers in her garden.
Galadriel regarded her niece before speaking. “She is with Prince Legolas of Mirkwood. Do not disturb them, Malloth. They have not seen each other for many years.”
Malloth was fuming right when Galadriel had said ‘Legolas’. “I thought I already explained to you why I brought her here!” she snapped. “I do not want her to associate with those Northern Elves, especially Legolas.” She spat out the name as if it were food with bad taste.
Galadriel put down her trimmers and gave Malloth a cold look. “Do not disturb them,” the Lady repeated, her voice firm and icy. “Don’t you see that your daughter loves Legolas with all her heart? You will just break her heart all over again if you pull her away from him. If you care about Menelanna, you will not rip them apart again.”
Malloth looked at Galadriel, her gaze just as icy. “She is my daughter; I will do as I please with her,” she said. “And her name is Elgalad, not Menelanna!” Then Malloth turned on her heel and marched out of the garden.
“Malloth, do not go near those two until he leaves!” Galadriel shouted after her. If Malloth heard, she did not acknowledge.
“I’m sorry,” Menelanna said. “I never thought Gandalf would leave at all.”
“I thought that, too,” Legolas murmured. “I mean, he was an Istari! I never thought he would actually leave Middle-earth. He was a good friend- almost like a father to me whenever my real father wasn’t doing his job as a parent. Gandalf was always there when I needed him, or so it seemed. And now…”
Menelanna sniffed. She had known Gandalf too, and had loved the wizard very much. It was hard to know that he had died, but she could do nothing about it. Menelanna knew she had to say good-bye to the old wizard someday, yet she always thought she’d be there when he left.
Legolas put his hand under her chin and tilted her face up towards him. They looked at one another for a moment. He kissed her forehead gently, and then his lips found hers. For one brief moment, Legolas and Menelanna were swept away by a kiss that was long overdue, a kiss that brought back memories of the times they’d shared together so many years before.
Menelanna was suddenly jerked from Legolas’ arms and he stumbled forward. The sharp thud of a hand slapping a cheek was heard, and he jerked his head up. Menelanna’s mother was shaking her roughly, shouting, “What have I told you before, you stubborn child? Does everything I say go in one ear and out the other?”
“Mother, you’re hurting me!” yelled Menelanna, breaking free from her mother’s grasp. Hot tears flowed down her cheek. Backing up, she stuck out her hand behind her, searching for something to hold onto. Legolas gripped her hand and held tight.
Malloth grabbed Menelanna by the arm and yanked her away from him, pulling her sobbing daughter along, slapping her once or twice. Legolas made a move to follow them, but Malloth’s glare was so cold, so frigid, that it seemed to freeze him to the spot.
He could not follow, he could only watch. When Menelanna’s heart-wrenching sobs finally died away, and when their echoes could not be heard, Legolas spun around and fled down to the clearing, where he cast himself on the ground, a torrent of tears welling up in his eyes and streaming down his face.
Why? Why does this always happen? he thought bitterly, sitting up and wiping his sleeve across his face.
Something cold and made of metal was digging into his palm. Uncurling his fist, Legolas saw a wide band of silver inlaid with emeralds lying in his palm.
It was Menelanna’s ring, the one she wore each day, the ring she never took off. For safekeeping, Legolas slipped it onto his thumb. The cold metal felt comforting against his hot skin.
It must’ve come off her finger when her mother yanked her away, he decided. I’ll give it back to her the next time I see her.
Menelanna saw Lady Galadriel, wrenched away from Malloth, and ran to her great-aunt, throwing herself into the Lady’s lace-encased arms. Anguished sobs shook her slender body, and Galadriel held her grand-niece, smoothing her hair and murmuring soft, inaudible words that only Menelanna could hear.
Looking over the top of Menelanna’s head, Galadriel caught Malloth’s eye.
In her mind, Malloth heard her aunt’s voice.
I told you not to break them apart. I told you not to interfere.
Despite his promise to see her again and give her back the ring, Legolas did not see Menelanna again the entire time they were in Lothlórien. He only caught a brief glimpse of his beloved when he was paddling his canoe away from Lothlórien. She stood alone under a tree, apart from the other Elves, clothed in a dazzling garment of deep blue and silver. Her hair flew free around her shoulders, and Menelanna caught his eye.
Legolas looked down at his hand and realized he was still wearing her ring. He looked up to catch her gaze again, so that she wouldn’t be surprised when he turned the boat around to reach her. But when Legolas looked at the exact place she had been standing, Menelanna was not there.
The Elf glanced back at his thumb, at the silver and emerald ring that encircled it.
And he knew that Menelanna would not mind if he had it.