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Subject: Sorry, post is getting depressing now. Is necessary background info, I promise.

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Date Posted: 16:29:34 05/06/03 Tue

Thranduil's son stared at him for a long moment, unblinkingly. Then abruptly he stood and paced across the clearing, turning his head towards the trees but with downcast eyes. His fists opened and reclenched rapidly; the nearest to a display of emotion Harion had seen from him so far. "Truly my people have been apart from the world of men for too long," he muttered, "Elves are many things, but we are not evil."

When he turned back to Harion, he was obviously distressed.
"Elves are creatures of the light. We do not dwell in shadows. We wish for nothing more than to dwell here in peace, yet that cannot be. My people dwindle; they leave these shores. Soon there will be none of us left, and the world will have forgotten that we ever existed. Only in the stories will we live on, in memory. But you craft false memory. Not in all my life have I ever killed an innocent, or an unarmed man, yet your people fear me. They call us monsters, and that is how we will be remembered. No elf has ever killed a man by looking at them Harion, not even those who embraced the darkness. But that will not matter, will it? It is what the people say, so it must be true," he finished sadly.

Harion stared at the ground even more intently.
"I..I'm sorry" he whispered at last. "I..I didn't know."
Legolas paced back across the clearing and sat next to the fire, his rigid back turned towards Harion. His outburst had even surprised himself slightly. All those things had been building up for a long time, but it showed a lack of self control to express them in a torrent like that. And self control was one of the things he prided himself with.

Harion picked up a stick and scratched a hole viciously in the ground. His anger was also beginning to build up. What right did Legolas have to speak to him thus? He hadn't started the stories, they'd been passed down for generations.
"If you don't want stories told, why do you live in such secretive, enclosed groups?" he asked briskly. "No one knows anything about elves because they never see any. If you were more friendly, we might understand and not imagine what goes on in those hidden away forests." His voice was rising until he was almost shouting. "You think that you're so much better than we are. Well, maybe you can do some things that we cannot, but we're not mind readers. We cannot understand how elves are if they are too high-and-mighty to talk to us mere mortals."

He threw the stick angrily across the clearing and turned his back on Legolas. Already the anger was fading into horror. Had he really said that? - to a prince? he dropped his face into his hands and tried to curl himself into a smaller ball. The clearing remained silent. Neither wanted to be the first to speak.
"No human has been welcome in the Mirkwood for nigh on three thousand years." The voice belonged to Legolas. "And now you will go there. You will walk beneath it's trees, but my people will not welcome you. My father least of all. Such stories will not help matters. So you will forgive me if I try to disabuse you of them now. I am one, but they are many. And I can find it in my heart to forgive. Many of them cannot. 'Tis better you should be prepared for what you will find there."

Harion smiled wryly.
"Luckily I'm not used to warm welcomes, I suppose I should thank you for breaking me in now. At least I know which topics of conversation to avoid!" He picked another twig from the ground and started peeling off the bark in long twisted coils.
"Three thousand years..." he repeated incredulously. "I cannot even comprehend such a long time." He watched the flecks of bark nestle on the grass.
"Did your people quarrel with us?" he asked suddenly. "Is that why you never mix with humans?"
"In a way," Legolas replied distantly. He sighed. "It is as well that I should tell you. Half a story leaves shadows. But I would thank you not to repeat this." Harion nodded.

"Very well." He raised his eyes to the moon that had begun to glow softly in the half-light. "My mother was a Lorien elf, a ward of the Lady Galadriel I believe. She was very beautiful to look at, silver haired and blue eyed. My father loved her deeply. He was less stern of mind then - the elves of the Greenwood wear the sun not just in their hair, but in their hearts. My mother was the moon.
We were friends with the elves of Lothlorien then, and Imladris too. Men lived in the woods then, and visited with us often. But the shadows began to grow beneath the trees and my kindred found their sunshine sullied by dark, evil creatures. The summer we thought we had bought with the destruction of the abhorred one drew to autumn, and we had to fight again. I was just a child then. We fought well though - the elves of Lorien may be wiser, and those of Rivendell more skilled, but none will beat an elf of the Greenwood when it comes to matters of the sword or bow. We held the shadows back.

I do not know when the darkness began to turn men against us, but their hearts were swift to change. They had begun to blame us for their losses - my father should have aided them more when they needed it, or held the creatures back. Men soon forget their ties when it suits them, it seems to me. They were not as strong as we were, and less able to withstand the evil. Finally, they became desparate. While my father was away from home driving off the spiders, Men came to my home - men we had trusted. They took my mother. They were so bitter - they called us monsters. They called her a monster. Then they took her away from us and as they fled, the creatures killed them. Her as well.

My father was consumed with a rage I have never seen before. He drove all humans from our lands, vowing never to let them return. Her death chased all the sunshine from him. Lothlorien turned against us - her loss hurt them deeply as well. It was never said, but I know they blamed my father. If he had protected her better, she would have been safe. I think he blames himself as well. It has been so long, but the wounds those men caused have not yet been healed. Do you see now why my people are hostile?

"I see" Harion agreed quietly. "And I understand... I understand many things. Not only does your story explain why you keep yourselves hidden away. But also that you're not as different from us as I believed." He picked up one of the coils of bark and twisted it tightly around his finger.
"Two years ago, my mother was murdered during an Orc raid. My father has never forgiven himself... It affected his mind, now he lies ill in bed and needs more attention than my little sister. I understand how the loss of a loved one can affect many lives. The only difference... is that my father will not live 3,000 years to watch the bitterness grow." Harion turned his face away sharply.
"In fact he will not live long at all."

Legolas looked at him in sympathy. "I cannot even pretend to understand what that would feel like. I have never had to experienced illness myself, let alone death. They pass me by, with no more effect than the changing wind.
Yet at the same time, I know almost exactly what you feel. I was about one hundred when my mother died - nearly an elf full grown. I can remember a time when mortals were our friends, and the world did not seem nearly so difficult. When I grew older, my father sent me oft as an envoy to other kingdoms. I met Men there but, in what to me was scarce a moment, I saw them grow old and die. So many. It may help you to know that immortality is not the gift that it may appear. Elves were born for sorrow. The grief of humans will fade as the years pass, and it will grow old and die. But elves - we outlive everything on this earth, and watch it wither with the seasons. We will sing, and we will laugh and dance, but we will never shed the sense of loss for a world that we cannot hold on to. In a way, death is a precious gift given to humans. It allows an ending." The corner of his mouth twitched into a smile at the irony. "So says the elf who will never experience it."

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