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Elrohir aimed his bow and fired without hesitation, taking down the orc, while his brother, Elladan took down the warg that the orc was riding on with his bow and arrow. They dismounted their houses and inspected the orc that they had just killed.

“This is no way that this is a scout.” Elladan said as he knelt down and inspected the orc. “This orc was tracking something.”

“Or someone…” Elrohir said as he lifted his head and look around the valley that surrounded Imladris. He listened closely to what was around him and his brother. That was when a soft whimper reached his ears. “Over there,” he motioned to his brother. “Do you hear it?”

Elladan turned his focus to where his twin had motioned. That was when he heard it was well. He turned back to look at his brother and nodded in agreement. They both locked an arrow into place as they slowly made their way towards a clump of bushes that were nearby. The closer they got, the more the sound became apparent to both twins.

A child whimpering.

Putting down their arrows, the twins gently pulled back the bush where the whimpering was coming from. To their surprise, they found a middle-aged woman lying up against a rock, her body ravaged from some sort of sickness. And sitting next to her, whimpering in fear were her children – a boy and a girl, both who looked to be no more than 2 or 3. The boy clutched his sister tightly in an embrace from the strangers who had found them, while the girl whimpered against her brother.

“We need to get them to ada,” Elladan whispered to his brother.

“I agree. Their nana does not look well.”

Elladan knelt down to the boy and girl. “I am Elladan and this is my brother Elrohir. We are elves from Imladris.”

“Mama said we were looking for the elves,” the little boy said looking up at Elladan.

“Good.” Elrohir said. “But your mother is very sick. And we need to get her help. Can we take you with us so that we can help your mother?”

The little boy nodded.


 

Lord Elrond gently ran a hand along the side of the face of the woman who his twin sons had brought to him. She was in a near delirious state from a fever that was ravaging her body. He had done all that he could for her fever. Now all she needed was to rest.

“Please my Lord,” the young woman begged as she opened her eyes. “My twins. They are all I have. Please protect them.”

 “I will do all I can for them. But who is their father?” Elrond gently asked, not wanting the young woman to use too much of her energy.

“Arathorn, the nine and thirtieth heir in the right line from Isildur,” the woman breathed as an Elf healer gently ran another cold cloth along her forehead to try and break her fever. When the Elf Lord heard the name Isildur, he turned and looked at the twin children who were sitting down the hallway from his location. His own twin sons were watching over them.

Isildur’s heirs…

“Rest now,” Elrond said, standing up and leaving the healer with the woman. He slowly moved towards the two children who sat huddled next to each other on a bench. It was late and obviously past these children’s bed times. The girl, who was much smaller than her brother, lay curled against his shoulder sleeping, while her brother fought off sleep. He knelt down in front of the twins as the boy looked up at him with light grey eyes.

“Come little one,” Elrond said as he picked up the sleeping little girl from her brother’s lap. “You need to sleep.”

The little boy stood up and took Elrond’s hand as they walked silently through the hallways of Imladris. Elladan and Elrohir fell in step behind their father.

“Where’s mama?” the little girl groggily asked, waking up as she was carried by the Elf Lord. She looked up at Elrond with her large grey eyes – the same shade as her brothers.

“Resting, iell nin.”

She nodded and placed her head back onto his shoulder. “Are you going to be our papa?” she then asked.

“We shall see,” the Elf Lord said, reaching the bedroom that had been prepared for the twins. “Tomorrow is a new day with new beginnings. Until then, sleep.”

He gently placed the little girl into the bed then helped her brother in as well. Both children were fast asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillows. He stood there and watched over the children for a few more minutes, with his own twins.

Their father had been killed by orcs. Their mother was ill and being tended to by his best healers. And she had intentionally sought him out. She had known that her children would be safe in the protection of his household. True that these weren’t just any children, for they were both Dúnedain. The boy was also the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. And they even had a bit of elvish blood deep in their veins. 

Their mother had been right. He was the best one to protect them all.

“Ada, you look like you have seen something that you should not have.” Elrohir whispered.

“These children are kin of my brother and the rightful rulers of Gondor.” Elrond said answering. “That is why they were being hunted.”

He turned and left the room where the sleeping twins were. His own twins were now full of questions of their own. But Elladan asked the only one that mattered once they were in the hallway. “What happens to them now?”

 


 

It had been a simple decision. The children would be raised in Elrond’s house, treated as his own and even have their names changed until they came of age and the truth of their past could be revealed to them – more so the boy than the girl.

The boy would change his name to Estel and the girl would change her name to Elin. That was his only condition for staying in his home. And he was sure that their mother would not care if it were for their own protection. He knew that darkness was slowly creeping back into Middle Earth. From where and from whom he did not yet know. Yet he could already tell that these two children would play a role in vanquishing this encroaching darkness.

 

Chapter Text

Ten-year-old Elin curled up tightly around herself as she lay on her bed. She had once again been plague by nightmares.

After waking up from her dreams, she had gone in search of her older brothers for comfort, but they could not be found in the middle of the night. Probably Glorfindel had sent them out on patrol again while her ada was away – far over the Misty Mountains to the East he had gone. He had not told her where he was going, along with so many of Imladris guards, but he had been gone a long time. Usually he was the one that she went to whenever she had nightmares.

She could always go find Estel, but she did not want to show that she was weak around him. It was already bad enough that she was smaller than he was and could not keep up with him or the other elflings that were around their ages when they were playing games in the courtyards. So why would she want to tell her twin brother about her nightmares and visions that seemed to always plague her dreams?

Instead she lay awake in the dark, terrified to close her eyes and see the vision of a dark figure reaching out for her from inside of a flame – a flame that was in the shape of an eye.

Slowly sleep won back over as Elin fell into a dreamless slumber for the rest of the night.


 

Legolas Thranduilion had heard of the beauty of Imladris, yet in all his years he had never imagined such a place could exist after living in the darkness of Mirkwood for so long. Yes, there were places of beauty in Mirkwood – but nothing like Imladris.

As he rode into the courtyard of the Last Homely House East of the Sea with several other elves from Mirkwood, he was relieved that the long journey was over.

With the Battle of the Five Armies behind him and the other elves in the party, he had nothing but regrets, frustration and despair running through his veins. He was regretful for never telling Tauriel how he felt about her before she was gravely injured during the recent battle. Yet he knew that a relationship with her could never be…she did not see Legolas the same way that he saw her nor would his father approve of their relationship. He was full of frustration because of his jealous feelings; he almost lost the person that he cared most about. And all of this was because she seemed to care more about a dwarf than him! If he had only been able to put aside his jealous feelings, then perhaps Tauriel would be with him and this delegation from Mirkwood, instead of fighting for her life. He had wanted to stay behind with her, but his ada insisted that he travel with the delegation. All of this only added to his despair. If he could not be able to pledge himself to Tauriel, then whom would he ever find to love in his long life? He had always been devoted to his ada and his duty to guard Mirkwood, but he was not his ada’s only son nor was he the next in line to rule Mirkwood. That would fall to his older brother, Laurian. His older brother had been married for a few centuries and seemed extremely happy.

Legolas would never admit it to anyone, but there were times that he would watch Laurian be greeted by his wife, Talia, upon a return to Mirkwood after a long patrol or even the way they acted around each other a times and he longed for that as well. Alas, it seemed that he was not made to love another. His life was to revolve around duty to his father in the Mirkwood guard.

He stopped his horse and dismounted as the other elves did. He noticed that several elves from Lord Elrond’s house had greeted them. One was a dark haired ellon who stood along side a taller, golden haired ellon. As he moved closer towards the other elves, he could not believe his eyes. The stories were true that the Balrog slayer, Glorfindel, was indeed one of the elves that resided in Imladris.

Yet he was quickly distracted by an elfling that was pushing her way past the dark hair ellon, who he had just learned was named Erestor.

“Ada!” the elfling cried as she launched herself at Lord Elrond. In her arms were a bunch of wild flowers.

Without hesitation, Elrond caught the elfling and hugged her tightly. He whispered something into her ear before setting her back down to stand on her own. Legolas stood by and watched the entire scene unfold.

Once she was standing back on her own, the elfling approached him then she curtseyed before presenting him with a with a flower from the bunch she was holding before turning and retreating back into one of the various buildings that surrounded the courtyard. As she retreated, Legolas noticed something about the elfling’s ears – they were not pointed like an elf’s should be. Was Lord Elrond actually raising a human as his own?

Yet as Legolas looked back down at the flower in his hand that he had received from the child, he couldn’t help but feel bound to keep the flower safe. He was not sure why, he just felt that he had to.


 

“Humans, Lord Elrond?” Legolas asked in amazement once he was able to have time to talk to the Lord of Imladris in private. Legolas was still shocked that any elf would allow another race to live with them, let alone be treated as equals – especially after growing up in his father’s halls. Not only was Elrond raising a little girl, named Elin, but she had a twin brother named Estel as well.

“Yes humans. But not just any humans – they are Dúnedain. Estel is the rightful heir to throne of Gondor. That is why they are in my protection and they have been since they were two years of age.”

“Isildur’s heir?” Legolas realizing one of the human children in Lord Elrond’s care was the one that his father had mentioned to him about seeking out.

Elrond nodded. “Their mother begged me not to tell them until they come of age, which isn’t for another 10 years. The fate of men rests on that boy’s shoulders.”

“What of the girl?” he then asked with peaked curiosity.

“I believe Elin has been blessed with the gift of foresight. Before the White Council’s attack on Dol Guldur, she had visions of what was taking place. She does not yet realize what they were, but when she told me about them, I knew exactly what she was talking about.”

“And that troubles you?”

“Not as much as it troubles her.” Elrond said, sighing. “Lady Galadriel has tried working with her to calm her mind along with myself, but nothing seems to help her. Her gift of foresight is unlike anything I have ever come across.”


 

“Ada, I can’t sleep.”

Elrond looked up from the parchment he was reading in his library to see Elin standing in the doorway in her long nightgown. He knew that a visit from Elin was likely, yet he was not prepared for it to be this early. Typically it was later in the night when she would seek him out to tell him about her nightmares.

“Come here, iell nin,” he said turning away from the parchment and moving to sit on a couch. Elin quickly moved to where her ada had sat down and curled up next to him. “What troubles you this night?” he asked.

“I’m scared that the shadow man in the fire is going to hurt me,” she softly said.

“Why do you say that?”

“He told me so.”

“Told you so?”

Elin nodded. “He said that the blood of Namio…”

“Numenor?”

She nodded again then repeated what he had said. “That the blood of Numenor will cease to exist before making me burn.”

Elrond flattened the messy hair against Elin’s head before placing a kiss against her cheek. “There is no need to worry, iell nin. The shadows can never hurt you nor will they ever.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.” Elrond said as he stood up with Elin in his arms and carried her back to bed.


 

Legolas had not been able to sleep that night. Instead of a peaceful sleep, he had been plagued with visions of an elleth holding a sleeping child in her arms before being consumed in fire. Yet these frightful visions had appeared after he had seen glimpses of the same elleth in happier times – smiling, laughing, simply living.

What bothered the Mirkwood prince the most was that this seemed to be almost taunting him. His heart was crying out to find its match, yet all there seemed to be in his future was more despair.

Was he ever going to be happy?

He sat up in bed and turned to look at the flower that sat upon the nightstand. He was still drawn to this flower, yet he could not figure out why.

There had to be an explanation for it. There had to be.

 

Chapter Text

Eight more years had come and gone.

For Elves that was a blink of an eye, yet for humans it was a large part of their lives. Growing up from a small child to a young adult was a big ordeal in their society. Even though his adopted children were Dúnedain and would live much longer and hopefully fuller lives than that of a normal human, Elrond still wondered about them both at times. At the age of 18, the twins were so different, which was to be expected.

Estel had grown tall and strong with his young age. Elrond had made sure that he had been trained as a warrior with his own sons, Elladan and Elrohir, as well as a healer. There was even a strong sense of confidence in him. Time would tell if this confidence would last when Estel’s true path in life would be revealed to him in just two more years. Elrond often worried that Estel would reject his chosen path in life, but that was where his sister came in.

Elin on the other hand was far more reserved than her outgoing brother. She had not always been that way. When she was a child, she, too, had been outgoing. But in the last few years, she had became more reserved and withdrawn into herself. While she did learn the elvish ways of archery at the urging of her elf brothers, she was best at the healing arts. Yet she was still plague by visions and nightmares more often than not. As she had grown over the years, she had better control over them. Also there were very few who could talk any sense into Estel when he became too hardheaded from an idea. That was why Elrond thought that Elin would help her brother out in the future. While her destiny may lie on a different path then that of her brother, Elrond couldn’t help but sense that they would actually depend a lot more on each other in the future more then they did now.

With all their differences and similarities, it was still not revealed to the twins that they were Dúnedain. Elrond still kept that from them, for now at least. Why burden them any sooner than needed with the problems of Middle Earth.


 

“Ada?”

Elrond turned to look from the book that he was reading towards the soft voice of Elin. She stood in the doorway of his library, looking down at the floor. “What troubles you, iell nin?” he asked.

“Why are you sending me to Mirkwood with the delegation that is going to train under their healers? You are the best healer in Middle Earth. Why do I need to learn from anyone else?”

Elrond set his book down as he stood up and walked towards his daughter. He gently tipped her downturned chin up so that he could look at her face. He knew that something was truly bugging her if she was looking away from him. “There is more to this iell nin, isn’t there?”

“I’m not sure…” she softly said with a bit of uncertainty in her voice. “I’ve never been away from home without family.”

He leaned forward and gently kissed her forehead. “It is not for long and we all need new experiences in life. Besides your brothers and myself are traveling with you to Mirkwood. I have something to discuss with King Thranduil.”

She nodded as she hugged him tightly before turning and leaving the library. “Remember that we leave first thing in the morning. Dress comfortably and pack light. It is a long journey,” Elrond said before Elin left the room.

She stopped and acknowledged the comment before leaving him alone in his library to read for a bit longer. As she disappeared from sight, Elrond began to wonder if he was actually doing the right thing in sending Elin to Mirkwood to study.

Only time would tell.


“You cannot expect me to allow her to stay here and study in Mirkwood.” Thranduil said, a bit shocked once Elrond and his delegation had arrived in Mirkwood a few weeks later.

It had been a long journey and thankfully an uneventful one. There had been very few run ins with orcs along the way and much to Elin’s chagrin – only one run in with a huge spider – which had been promptly dealt with by her brothers who had been riding along side of her.

“She is as much a member of my household as my own sons and daughter are. Yet if that is what you wish, then none of your guard shall be allowed to train with Lord Glorfindel in the springtime.”

Thranduil’s mouth went rigid as he glared at Lord Elrond. While he knew that he own guards could stand on their own, a bit of training under the legendary Glorfindel would not hurt. “Fine, she can stay. But do not expect her to receive any special treatment just because she is human.”

Elrond could not help but smile. “That is the last thing she would ever want.”


 

While the elven lords were discussing the details of the arrangement to train certain delegations of elves different things while visiting the two kingdoms, a hunting party had been sent out to obtain wild game for the night’s feast. The twins and Aragorn had joined the hunting party lead by King Thranduil’s sons.

After a few hours, the hunting party had been successful in obtaining the wild game that would be served that night. As the party made its way back to the Great Halls of Mirkwood, the sons of Elrond and the Woodland Prince, Legolas, were some of the last to return. The groups were heading off to clean up for the feast that was to be held later that night, when something caught the keen eyes of the Prince as he turned to make his way towards his chambers – sitting on the edge of a balcony was an unfamiliar young woman with long wavy brown hair. She looked to be reading a book of some kind.

“Elrohir, who is that?” Legolas asked. “Did she come with you and your kin?”

“She is our sister, Elin.”

“She is not an elf.” Legolas responded, noticing her ears.

“No, she is the twin sister of Estel. They are both mortals.”

Hearing her name, Elin looked down and smiled at them from her perch before turning her attention back to the book that she was reading. The prince couldn’t help but keep his eyes transfixed on the beauty before him. He had seen and dealt with mortals in the past, but never had he gazed upon a one that was lovely as the one that sat in front of him.

As he walked past her, he could not help but study her features. From how she was sitting, it was difficult to tell how tall she was. Yet her grey eyes were her most striking feature. They were not too dark, nor were they too light – they almost seemed to shine like silver. He felt as if he could get lost in them forever.

The more that he watched and studied her; something began to dawn on Legolas. Could this of been the child who had presented him and his ada with flowers when they had arrived in Imladris all those years ago? At the time he had been compelled to keep the flower from the little girl. Had it been fate telling him that he would eventually meet her again? Could this in fact be whom he had been waiting for all his long, lonely years?

Perhaps.

But a mortal? He knew the stories of what happened to elves who pledged themselves to mortals – they would eventually fade from a broken heart once their loved one passed into the Halls of Mandos. Yet the more that he thought about her as he continued on his way to his quarters, the more he realized that he needed to talk to her.

What harm could come from talking? Besides it was not like he was actively seeking to find the match to his fëa – the one who would complete him. For a time, he had believed that it was Tauriel. Then the Battle of the Five Armies happened along with the serve injury to his closest friend. When he had witnessed her rushing to the aid of a dwarf, he knew that Tauriel was not his match.

Like he had thought before, perhaps this was all fate.


 

Legolas’ keen eyes scanned the Great Hall for any sign of Elin a while later. He had quickly changed once he had reached his quarters and made himself look more princely than a member of the guard of Mirkwood. Even though he did not want to, he placed his circlet into his hair after he had taken down his warrior braids. His ada insisted that when delegations from other elven colonies are present, that he had to act more like a prince.

As he scanned the Great Hall, he noticed that it was crowded with elves from both Mirkwood and Imladris. Yet he could still not find the one that he was looking for. Sighing, he began to make his way towards the high table where his ada and Lord Elrond were seated. That was when he spotted her.

Sitting just to the left of Elrohir, he spotted Elin sitting down, looking down at her hands. To him it almost seemed that she was uncomfortable. Thankfully the seat to Elin’s left was still empty.

A small smile spread across Legolas face. Quickly making his way towards her, he took a hold of the chair and leaned down to talk to Elin. “Is this seat taken, brennil nin?” he asked.

Elin looked up from staring at her hands. There was a bit of confusion in her silver-grey eyes for a moment, before she answered him. “No Prince Legolas,” she gently said.

“Please, just call me Legolas,” he said as he sat down. “And your name is Elin, is it not?”

She smiled at him as he sat down next to her. Briefly she caught the color of his eyes and felt herself drawn into the bright, blue orbs of the Woodland Prince. All along she had known there was a reason why she had to come to Mirkwood besides to learn from their healers.

Was this the reason why?

A question from Legolas quickly brought her out of her thoughts. “How was your journey?”

“Unique.”

“Unique? How so?”

“I’ve never seen a forest that was infested with such evil and darkness nor have I ever met elves who live within caverns.”

“We do so for our protection.”

“Yet away from the light of the Eldar.”

“I see your point. But we do have ways that we see the light of the Eldar.”

“How so?”

Legolas smiled. “Perhaps I shall show you sometime.”

“Perhaps,” Elin said returning his smile.


 

All during the feast and the hours to follow afterwards, Elin and Legolas found themselves immersed in conversation. While many of the other elves – including her brothers – were enjoying some of the Elvenking’s wine, Legolas had taken Elin on a small tour of Mirkwood as they continued to talk. Legolas had only wanted to find a quiet place where he could talk to Elin better. He found her to be very intriguing both with her gentle demeanor that was coming across as they talked as well as her beauty. While on the other hand, Elin could not help but be mesmerized by the Woodland Prince – from blue eyes to the way that his face curved to his flawless skin. He was gorgeous. She was certain that many ellith had lined up to try to win his heart.

So why was he talking to her? She was not an elf – it was very apparent. Yet she could not find a reason why to stop sharing stories with him.

Eventually the morning came too soon.

Neither of them had cared that they had talked the entire night away. “I did not mean to keep you up all night,” Legolas said noticing the morning sun beginning to stream into Mirkwood’s halls.

“It’s fine. I can sleep another time,” she said trying to hide a yawn.

Legolas could not help but smile. “Why don’t you try to get a few hours of rest in before tonight’s grand feast in celebration of your family. Yet I would be honored if you would allow me to escort you tonight,” he suggested as he helped her up from their sitting position and led her towards the guest bedchambers that she was staying in. He wanted to make sure that she got some rest, even though he would love to spend more time with her.

“I would like that,” she said returning his smile.

They continued to make small talk as they walked. “You really did not have to walk me back to my room,” she said once they had reached their destination. It was still early in the morning and very few elves were up.

“I just wanted to make sure that you did not get lost.”

“Thank you,” she said as she leaned up and gently kissed his cheek before slipping into the room to sleep for a few hours.

Legolas stood there for a moment and couldn’t move. A simple gesture from Elin had made him almost paralyzed with emotions that he never felt – his heart was racing, his head was spinning a bit but he felt like he could do anything!

Or that’s what it at least felt like.

Was this what it felt like to fall in love?


 

Legolas traced the petals of the dried flower that he had kept for the last eight years. Every so often, the vision of the young woman and child would come to him in his dreams. He had never been able to make out the faces of either figure, but now he was wondering if the young woman was Elin.

Thinking of Elin made him smile. Yet he knew that his father would not allow him to pledge himself to just anyone – no, Thranduil had to approve of any relationship that Legolas would have with an elleth.

Sighing, he wondered how his father would take it if he pursued a relationship with Elin.

All of these thoughts were way far out there. It had only been a day since he had actually started to pursue Elin so to speak. He could not wait to see where this would go. He had never been lucky when it came to matters of the heart – first Tauriel’s feelings seemed to be directed other places then there had been the endless numbers of ellith that his father had him meet, trying to find him a suitable wife. None of them had suited him. Besides, he did not want to be forced into marriage. Both his father and Laurian had married for love, so why shouldn’t he be able to do the same when the time was right?


 

Elin smiled as she slowly brushed her hair before slipping in the circlet that her ada had given her a few years ago. There had been a good reason for her coming to Mirkwood Hall. She had not been sure at first why she had needed to come, but now she was pretty sure the reason why fate had seen to it that she had come.

She had needed to meet Legolas Thranduilion. That was what fate had in store for her.

Just thinking of the way that his deep blue eyes had bore into hers, setting her heart aflutter. Of all the ellith at dinner the previous night, why had he chosen her – a human – to sit next to and talk with? Had he been drawn to her as well? She had asked herself this question several times since the Woodland Prince had sat down next to her the previous night.

Whatever the reason was, she hoped that she could make it last for as long as possible.

A soft knock on the door brought her out of her reverie. She stood to answer it, straightening her dress before she opened the door. She had settled on a light blue dress that she had brought with her from home for the feast that night. It had reminded her of Legolas’ eyes.

Opening the door, she found Legolas waiting on the other side. He was dressed in a darkish blue-green tunic, that Elin thought only brought out his eyes more. She swore that she heard his breath hitch as she stepped out into the hallway and shut the door behind her. By then she was smiling gently up at him.

“Brennil nin,” he said offering his hand out to her once he had taken in the beauty that stood before him. She could rival any elleth that he had ever met before.

No matter what happened between them, he would always remember this night. He would remember it because for the first time in the longest time, everything seemed to be perfect.

Elin took ahold of his hand as he let her down to the Great Hall and to the feast for the night.

Elrond sat back and observed the interaction between his daughter and the Woodland Prince during the feast later that evening. For this first time in a long time, she was smiling – a genuine smile. This was the Elin of old, coming back to life after so long of being locked away thanks in part to all the visions she would get. Could this meeting be what she had foreseen? Could this have been the reason that she wanted to come with them to Mirkwood?

He couldn’t help but wonder.

Perhaps having her serving on the delegation to Mirkwood was the right thing.

 

Chapter Text

            Ever since the feast to honor her family, the only thing that Legolas could focus his mind on was Elin – from her smile to large silver-gray eyes to even the way that her hand felt against his own. That had been a few days ago and since then, he had not found the time to talk to Elin between his duties to the Woodland guard along with whatever menial tasks that his father had him do. Every so often, he would catch a glimpse of Elin in the halls or see her at mealtime. Yet he found that she managed to slip though his fingers each time he had tried to talk to her.

            The one thing that Legolas was dreading was the day that Lord Elrond and his kin were going to depart Mirkwood to return to Imladris. Sure, some of the elves from the Mirkwood delegation were staying behind to train in the Mirkwood Halls of Healing before returning to Imladris before the snows arrived. The one thing that kept him going was the fact that he would be a part of the Mirkwood delegation that would travel to Imladris to train under Lord Glorfindel for several months. Hopefully he would be able to see Elin at that time and perhaps he would have the time to talk to her.

            The night before the Imladris delegation was to depart, the twins of Lord Elrond managed to corner Legolas after the evening meal. Legolas had tried to catch up with Elin after the meal, yet she had disappeared from the Great Hall quickly after the meal was finished. At least during the meal, he had been able to look into her deep eyes and smiled at her – which much to his pleasure, she had returned his smile. He had not been able to sit next to her since her ada and brother, Estel, both sat in the chairs around her. So a smile would have to do.

            “You must do something for us,” Elrohir said in hushed whispers once they had taken Legolas away from those who were lingering in the Great Hall.

Confused, Legolas looked back and forth between the twin sons of Lord Elrond. “What would that be?” he asked.

“We worry about Elin. Please make sure that nothing happens to her while she is here with our delegation.” Elladan said.

Had he heard correctly? Elin was staying in Mirkwood with the Imladris delegation. His heart began to pound against his chest. He was not going to have to say goodbye to her after all. “Do not worry,” he said with a smile. “I promise to make sure that nothing harms her.”

“She is extremely shy and ada has kept her sheltered for so long. We know he has his reasons and that he most likely is right for doing so.” Elrohir added.

Perhaps that is why she has been avoiding me…’ Legolas thought to himself. Whatever the reason was, he vowed to himself not to make Elin feel uncomfortable in any manner.

“We know that you will make sure that she is accepted.” Elladan said as the twins turned and walked away, leaving a bewildered Legolas behind. What had they meant by making sure that she would be accepted?

While this was a fleeting thought, Legolas knew that he was going to have his work cut out for him if what her brothers said was true – Elin was extremely shy. Perhaps that had been the reason why she had seemed to avoid him. He had to admit that the ways of the heart were all but foreign to him, but if love was like any of the feelings he had been experiencing since Elin had arrived in Mirkwood, then he was done for.


 

 "Remember, iell nin, it is only a short while until you return home.” Elrond said as he and Elin walked through the halls of Mirkwood, shortly before he and her brothers were going to depart for Imladris.

Elin slowly nodded as she looked down at her feet as they continued to walk. She did not want her ada or brothers to leave her. Sure she would have other elves from Imladris to keep her company, but none of them understood her. None of them knew that she was constantly bombarded with dreams, visions and nightmares that wore on her fëa. Some would consider her gift of foresight a blessing, but she found it a curse that left her alone and isolated from so many…

…including someone that she truly wanted to get to know, but found herself keeping everything locked away. She was scared more than anything. Scared that if Legolas Thranduilion found out her burdens, then he might turn away from her. She did not know why she felt like this since she and the Woodland Prince had talked only the first two days after their arrival. Yet since then, Elin found herself pulling back into herself so to speak – refusing to talk unless spoken to. That was when Elrond knew that something was troubling his daughter.

“Elin,” he said stopping their walk. She turned to look at him, wondering what was going on. “I know that your gift is troublesome to you at times and you take each vision or dream to heart. Yet there are times that all that must be set aside so that you can enjoy life. You cannot continue to keep yourself locked away from others.”

He watched as she bit her lower lip as she tried to figure out her response. Instead of her saying something to him, she launched herself against his chest and hugged her ada tightly as warm tears began to slide down her face. Elrond allowed her to cry against his chest for a few minutes, as he held her close.

“I’m scared, Ada…” she whispered a few minutes later.

“Scared of what?” he asked down at her. The sound of her voice had been so tiny and timid, that it reminded Elrond of when Elin was younger and would have nightmares and cry about them in his library or in his quarters before she would fall asleep.

“Scared of letting anyone else in…”

Pressing a soft kiss against her head, Elrond could not help but smile. He knew exactly who she was talking about – Prince Legolas. “Listen to your heart over your mind. It whispers softly, so listen carefully.”

Elin looked up at him as she wiped the remaining tears out of her eyes. A small smile formed on her face as she nodded in understanding. Her ada returned her smile as he hugged her tightly.

Now he was certain that having Elin serve as a part of the Mirkwood delegation was the right thing to do.


Legolas leaned against a pillar that was near the entrance to the Halls of Healing. He knew that Elin and the other Mirkwood elves had begun their training as soon as Lord Elrond and his sons had left. Hopefully he would be able to find a way to talk to her now instead of having to cater to his ada’s requests – Laurian could do that – he was the crown prince of Mirkwood while Legolas was not.

Managing to avoid his adar’s long time advisor, Enol, for most of the day, he had spent the better part of the afternoon waiting for Elin to emerge from the Halls of Healing. Legolas began to worry that she had yet managed to slip through his fingers once again. Taking a last look at the doorway, he turned to leave. This was foolishness. Why had he waited almost all day just to catch a glimpse of Elin and possibly speak to her?

Sighing, he knew the reason why. He was drawn to her. He had never felt like this about any of the ellith that his father had tried to set him up with. That was the only way that he could explain it.

Perhaps he would try to talk to her after the evening meal. He knew that Elin would most likely share her evening meal with those that were apart of the delegation, while he would have to eat with his family. So afterwards, he would just have to go to her guest quarters and see if she was there. Yes, that was what he would do. It was time to act on his feelings, instead of sitting by with nothing happening for him.


 

Elin sat at a desk in her guest quarters, sketching out a random picture on a loose piece of parchment that she had. She had not been focusing on what she had been drawing for she had too much on her mind. How was she going to allow herself to open up more to anyone? Sighing to herself, she looked down at her sketch. To her amazement, she had sketched the visually appealing face of the Woodland Realm prince. Setting her quill to the side, she crumpled up the sketch and threw it into the fire before capping her bottle of ink. She watched the as the flames from inside the small hearth destroyed her sketch.

She had not meant to draw the face of Legolas. So why had she?

That answer was harder to come by. Part of her wanted to get to know Legolas better and let him know her secrets and burdens, while the other part of her just wanted to keep everything locked away. Everything was confusing. And on top of everything, a new vision of the future had begun to disturb her nights. Yet this vision was not like the others she had appeared to her over time. The first time she had seen it, only Estel had appeared in it. He was surrounded by orcs on a large plain. There were other beings with him, yet they seemed to be lurking in the shadows. Then the night that she and Legolas had first talked until the wee morning hours, the vision came to her again, but with one difference. Now Legolas had joined her brother in her vision. Normally she could figure out what her visions were trying to tell her.

But not this one.

And that was what bothered her.

A soft knocking on her door brought Elin out of her thoughts. She stood up and moved towards the door, opening it a bit to peer out. Standing on the other side of the door was Legolas. Opening the door a bit more so that it did not seem like she was being rude, Elin smiled up at the Woodland Prince who was a bit taller than she was. “Good evening,” she said still smiling.

“Good evening, brennil nin,” he said returning her smile. “I was hoping that you would care to join me for a walk.”

He held out his hand to her, hoping that she would accept. Taking a second, Elin looked down at Legolas’ outstretched hand then back up at his face then back to his hand. Remembering her ada’s advice from that morning about listening to her heart over her mind, Elin reached out and took ahold of Legolas’ hand.

“A walk sounds wonderful,” she said, shutting the door to her quarters behind her.

Deep inside her heart, she hoped that she was doing the right thing because of the little time that she had already spent with Legolas; it had felt right to her.

Without much being said between them as they had begun to walk, Elin wondered where Legolas was planning on taking her. Taking in the parts of Mirkwood Hall that she had never seen, she was beginning to get nervous.

“Where are we going?” she finally asked.

“I promised to show you how we see the light of the Eldar,” he answered. “And that is what we are going to do.”

A slight blush appeared on Elin’s cheeks as they continued to walk through the halls of Mirkwood. She was shocked that he remembered what he had promised her that. Noticing her slight blush, Legolas could not help but smile. Perhaps acting on his feelings was the right thing to do.

After a few more minutes, Legolas led Elin out into the cool Mirkwood night. He had taken her through a narrow passage and out into the forest. “A secret passage?” she asked.

Legolas nodded. “When I was an elfling, Adar would not let me see the stars at times. I think it was because the stars reminded him of my nana. So Laurian and I found this passage. We would sneak out of Mirkwood to climb tress and gaze upon the stars.”

Elin was impressed. She would not have ever thought that Legolas would disobey his father’s wishes.

They continued for just a few more minutes into the dark forest. “Here we go,” Legolas said stopping next to a large tree that looked to be easy enough for anyone to climb. Still Elin was not so sure.

“I don’t think I can climb it,” she hesitantly said, stepping a bit back from Legolas.

“Sure you can,” he said taking a hold of her hand once again. “I will help you and make sure that nothing happens.”

Slowly, but surely, Legolas and Elin climbed the large tree. Much to her surprise, Elin managed to not fall out of the tree – it’s branches to large and sturdy enough for both her and Legolas to stand on. Eventually, Legolas helped her to the top of the tree. Pulling Elin close to him to help balance her stance, Legolas leaned close to her ear and whispered “look up.”

Elin did as she was told and smiled as she took in the heavens above her. Legolas studied the face of the young woman that he held close to him. Every time that he had thought about her, looked at her or been able to spend time with her over the last few days, he had felt a stronger connection to her. It did not worry him, yet puzzled him instead.

How could another being have this much pull on his emotions? Whatever the reason may be, he had a strong urge to turn Elin towards him and capture her lips in a deep kiss. He had never wanted to kiss another elleth like he wanted to kiss Elin. Yet he withheld his emotions in check for the time being. He had promised Elrohir and Elladan that he would protect her and he knew that she was shy. Besides he knew very little about seeking out a relationship with the fairer kind, which meant he was already treading in dangerous waters.

Better to go slow than not go at all,’ Legolas thought to himself as Elin turned to look at him. She still wore a smile on her face.

“Thank you for bringing me here.”

“My pleasure brennil nin,” he said lifting her hand to his lips and placing a soft kiss on the back of her hand.

Yes, taking things slow was exactly what Legolas was going to do.

Chapter Text

Over the next few months, time seemed to be fleeting for both Legolas and Elin. During the daytime, they both did whatever they needed to around Mirkwood – Legolas would work the Woodland guard, while Elin was leaning new techniques to improve her healing skills while in the Halls of Healing. Yet their nights were a different story. Many times, Legolas would not eat evening meals with his family – choosing to instead eat with Elin and some of the elves from Imladris. After the meals, Legolas and Elin would often walk through Mirkwood, either discussing how their day has gone or sharing small stories about their lives.

Legolas always looked forward to his evenings with Elin. Each time he spent anytime with her, his feelings towards her grew. He was beginning to find more things about her that he loved each time he saw her – from her eyes to her smile to the way she would bite her lower lip when she is thinking about something. More often then not, Legolas had to restrain himself from wanting to pull her close to him and lay out his feelings for her.

Yet there was something that was holding him back from telling her his feelings. No it was not the fact that Elin was still a bit shy and timid around him. He found that endearing. What was holding him back from laying his heart out in the open for Elin was his adar’s reaction. What would King Thranduil do when he learned that his own son was pining for the affections of a mortal? This was only another reason why Legolas kept all of his feelings for Elin bottled up for the time being.

Legolas was not the only one who was holding back his deep feelings – Elin was doing the same thing, except her reason why was not fear for what her ada or even King Thranduil would do. No, Elin was holding back her feelings because of her vision of loosing both her brother and Legolas in a battle of some kind. Even after a few weeks of this same vision occurring night after night, she still had yet to figure out what it meant. She knew that this was not what her ada would want her do. He always told her that the future was fluid – always changing. Perhaps it was time for Elin to start living for the now, instead of running from her future. Ever since that night star gazing, she had felt more drawn to the prince. Something deep inside of her felt that she needed to spend all the time in Middle Earth with him. Her days always seemed brighter whenever she was with Legolas.

 And often times that left her wondering – was this what love felt like?

Among the elves in Mirkwood, there were a few who had taken notice of Legolas’ newfound relationship with the adopted daughter of Lord Elrond. While most Mirkwood elves did not care what their prince did, there were a few who did. Tauriel knew from the first night that she saw Legolas’ eyes gleam as he talked with Elin, that all the feelings that the prince had harbored for her were gone. Ever since the Battle of the Five Armies a little less than 10 years ago, she knew that all the affections that Legolas might had shown towards her were slowly fading away. She had always known that she did not stand a chance at winning the prince’s heart, but she was weary about King Thranduil forcing Legolas into a loveless bond. Secretly she always assessed each elleth that the King forced onto his son at the various feasts and balls. She could only wonder how the king would take this new relationship of his son’s, because if she could tell that Legolas was smitten by Elin, then most certainly the king would be able to.

One evening, King Thranduil watched as youngest son led Elin from evening meal back towards one of the many places were they would engage in conversation for hours. Needless to say, he was not impressed with the entire situation. How could his own elfling show signs of falling for a mortal? Thankfully it was not a dwarf maiden, but still a mortal could be just as bad. True, Elin was a Dúnedain, which meant she would live longer than a normal mortal would. Yet the end result was the same – death for Elin meant that Thranduil would loose a son to a broken heart. This was not going to be allowed. It was about time that Legolas started acting more like the prince he was instead of a normal elf.

It was time to take matters into his own hands.

The next morning, Thranduil put his plan into motion. “Enol,” the king said looking at his long time friend and advisor. “I believe that it is time that we had a Grand Ball. There has not been one for several centuries and it is about time for another.”

“A Grand Ball, my liege?” Enol asked a bit befuddled. He knew that the king despised lavish parties since it seemed to cause his wine supply amounts to dwindle.

“Yes. Make sure that every single elleth is invited from both Mirkwood and the Imladris delegation. It is time that my son found his match in life.”

Knowing that Prince Legolas was actively pursuing a relationship with Lord Elrond’s daughter, Enol felt that it was his place to point this out to the king. “I do not…” he started to say, but was quickly cut off by the king.

“I did not ask for your opinion.” Thranduil said turning and glaring at Enol. “Have I made myself clear?”

“Yes sire,” Enol said turning and leaving the King’s study to go and prepare for the Grand Ball.


 

Over the course of the following days, Enol made several preparations for the upcoming Grand Ball. He did realize how set that the King was to having his youngest son find an elf maiden to bind to. Yet it seemed that the King had become blind to all matters of the heart. Elves, even princes, we supposed to marry for love – not because their adar’s believe that it was time to marry. He knew that the King longed for his beloved, yet he also knew that the King would not journey to the Undying Lands until he knew that Mirkwood would be taken care of.

Despite all of this, Enol was going to make sure the Elin was invited to the Grand Ball. Perhaps then he could talk some sense into the King. He knew that there was a large chance that it would not work; yet it never hurt to try. Legolas deserved to be happy just like his adar had been and just like his brother was.

Maybe witnessing Legolas’ happiness was a way to do that.


 

The day of the Grand Ball finally arrived. The entire colony was buzzing with anticipation since there had not been a Grand Ball in several centuries and the last time there was one, the Crown Prince had found the elf maiden that would steal his heart. Many of the ellith were trying to find their best gowns to wear, hoping to catch the eye of Prince Legolas. Even the ellith that had traveled from Imladris were getting in the mood as well.

Everyone seemed to be happy in the days leading up to the Grand Ball.

Everyone except Elin.

It had been several days since she and Legolas had spent any time together. It always seemed that after evening meals, Legolas would have to attend to some thing that his father requested that he do to help prepare for the Grand Ball. At least that was what he told her.

Or was he lying to her about having to do things for his father? Maybe it was a nice way of telling her that he was no longer interested in her.

Sighing to herself, she knew that she had to at least attend the Grand Ball, so that it did not seem that she was being rude towards her hosts.

Making sure that her hunter green dress was perfect, she took a deep breath before leaving her quarters. She was only going to stay for a few minutes – that was all. Just enough time to see Legolas and to find out if her heart was wrong in ever trusting him in the first place.


 

Scanning the expanse of the Great Hall, Legolas stood near his brother and his wife, Talia. He felt horrible. The last few days had been a nightmare thanks to his adar taking up all his free time with menial tasks. He had not even had a chance to make sure that Elin was going to attend the ball. He had every intention on telling her how he felt about her that night. And it was thanks to his brother that Legolas had come to the conclusion that he had. A few days prior to the Grand Ball, Laurian had noticed that his younger brother had gone from being happy as a lark to looking sullen. He confronted Legolas about what was troubling him and that was when Laurian learned that Legolas was smitten with Elin.

“I’ve watched you the last few weeks, Legolas. You have become a very different elf when this Elin has been around you. I’m certain that she is your match,” Laurian had reassured him during their conversation a few nights ago. “Adar married for love. As did I. You are not inheriting the throne. He might be upset at first, but anyone can see that you truly love this human. Elves have married humans before. And you should be with whom you please. There is no reason that you should not pursue a relationship with her.”

Yet Legolas was still worried. Would Elin accept him? Would his adar accept his decision? Would the other elves in Mirkwood accept his decision?

Even though he worried, Legolas knew that this was the right decision for him. Then he finally saw Elin enter the Great Hall. His breath hitched slightly as he saw her in her hunter green dress. He had never seen that color on her before, yet he thought that it looked gorgeous on her. As he took a step towards Elin, a hand caught his lower arm. Legolas looked up to see his adar moving to stand next to him. Behind his adar was an elleth with a bight blush spread across her cheeks.

“Ion nin, this is Melda. She is the daughter of the merchant, Glandur.” Thranduil said introducing his son to the elleth.

That was when it dawned on Legolas. The entire purpose of the Grand Ball was to help him find an elleth to marry. He knew better than to cause a scene with his adar in front of all of Mirkwood. So for now, he would just accept the fact that he would not be able to dance with the one his heart was calling out for.

“Brennil nin,” Legolas said offering his hand to Melda. “Would you care to dance?”

Melda graciously accepted as Legolas escorted her to where the other elves had begun to dance to the music.

Thranduil watched as his son danced with the elleth. Hopefully his plan would be successful and Legolas would forget about the mortal.

“Just because you present beautiful ellith for Legolas to dance with, do not think that this plan of yours will work,” Laurian whispered to his adar.

Thranduil flashed a menacing glare towards his eldest son. “I do not understand what you mean.”

“Oh I think you do,” Laurian said as he led Talia out onto the dance floor.


While most of the elves that were attending the Grand Ball were enjoying the festivities, there were some who were not.

Tauriel watched as her friend danced with another elleth. She could tell by the way that Legolas was holding his shoulders up; that he was uncomfortable with what his father was making him do. She knew that Legolas wanted to dance with someone else since she had seen him look around the Great Hall while he was dancing.

He was looking for Elin.

Yet where was she? Even Tauriel had not seen her that night.

Pushing her way through those who were enjoying themselves, Tauriel began to look for Elin. Maybe if she pulled Elin closer to the dance floor, then Legolas would see her and ask her to dance. It was the least she could do for her friend. She could tell that Legolas was miserable.

After a little while of looking, Tauriel found Elin standing alone in a darkened corner. The young woman had her back turned to the elf. The closer that Tauriel got to Elin, she could hear soft sniffles coming from her.

“Elin?” Tauriel gently asked, approaching her.

Hearing someone say her name, Elin turned to look at Tauriel with confusion splashed across her face. Seeing her puffy eyes, Tauriel knew that she had been crying.

“Is everything alright?” the Captain of the Woodland Guard asked moving closer to her. She knew that Elin had no idea who she was, but that did not stop Tauriel. She figured that she needed to make sure that nothing happened to her since Legolas could not be with her at the moment.

Elin slowly nodded as she tried to take a step away from the corner, but instead she stumbled slightly. Grabbing for the wall, Elin steadied herself. She had no idea who this elleth was and all she wanted to do was go back to her quarters.

“How many glasses of wine have you had?” Tauriel asked moving next to her.

“I lost count,” Elin admitted, looking down at the floor. “It’s not like it matters anyways. I do not even know why I came here in the first place if my heart was going to be shattered anyways.”

That was the problem. Elin was believing that Legolas was willing dancing with whatever elleth that his adar introduced to him to. And to make matters worse, Elin was drunk from Dorwinion wine – it was obvious from how Elin was stumbling as she walked and not caring what feelings she told to anyone. Without saying another word, Tauriel wrapped her arm around Elin’s midsection and helped her stand straight up.

“How about I help you back to your quarters. I think that sleeping on your troubles will make them disappear,” she said helping Elin walk.

“That would be nice.”


Finally Legolas managed to get away from his adar’s parade of dance partners. The one being that he had not danced with all evening was nowhere to be found. He had seen Elin once towards the beginning to the evening, yet since then he had not been able to see her again. He admitted to himself that he had not been able to escape his adar’s clutches for quite some time, even so – it was not that late into the evening.

Scanning the crowd, he could not find her in the hunter green dress that she had been wearing. Signing in disbelief, he turned and made his way towards some of the members of the woodland guard. Tauriel was over there. Perhaps she would have seen where Elin had gone. While he had not confided in Tauriel about his feelings for Elin, he was certain that she probably knew that something was building between the two of them – she always had been observant, more observant that he ever was.

Before he could even ask her anything, Tauriel lay into the prince. “You have a lot of nerve,” she hissed under her breath.

Legolas raised an eyebrow to her in confusion. He had no idea what she was talking about.

“That poor girl is heartbroken!” she continued. “If you were going to spend the entire night dancing with other ellith, looking uncomfortable, then you should have at least made it a point to let her know that it was her that you wanted to dance with all along!”

That was when it dawned on him what she was talking about – Elin.

“Where is she?” he asked, pulling her off to the side.

“Back in her quarters.”

Legolas turned to head towards Elin’s quarters. He had to make this right. Whatever Elin had seen him do that night was a farce. The only one he had wanted to dance with all night long as her. Before he could get too far, Tauriel caught his arm and held him back.

“Leave her be, mellon nin. She is very upset and I believe that the sight of you will only upset her more. If you truly care for her, like I believe you do, then do this for her.”

Knowing that Tauriel would not lead him astray, Legolas nodded in agreement. Instead he turned and left for his own quarters. He was through with his adar’s schemes for the night. Thanks to them, the one that Legolas had hoped to build a future with was heartbroken. Hopefully, given enough time, he could reforge the bonds that had slowly been forming between them. He was not sure what it was going to take, but he would do it.


Laurian was furious. His father had no right to force a marriage upon Legolas. Elves married for love not for convenience. It had always been that way. Yes, he could understand that there was going to be hesitation on his adar’s part because Elin was mortal and therefore when she passed away, Legolas would soon follow. But this was not his decision – it was Legolas’ choice!

“You are loosing him with your stubborn ways!” Laurian argued as he confronted Thranduil late that night after the Grand Ball. He had held his tongue in check for long enough. If he was going to be king someday, he better start acting like one – even if that meant standing up to his own adar. “He has just started to come back out of his shell after so many centuries! And now you are going to isolate him once again!”

“Do not lecture me on how to raise my own son until you’ve have one of your own!”

“When he’s left the kingdom to be with her and then fades away to nothing after she dies it will be because of you! Why are you forcing a loveless marriage upon your own son?”

“I do not have to explain myself to you.”

“Then obviously you have not spent enough time around Legolas when he has been around Elin! They both have this gleam in their eyes; yet keep their emotions and feelings locked away. I am certain that it has something to do with having to face the wrath of a certain King.”

“Get out.” Thranduil sneered.

Glaring one last time at his adar, Laurian quickly turned and left his adar’s chambers, knowing that this was far from over. He refused to allow his father to win. Even if it meant that his brother had to leave Mirkwood to be with the one he loved.


 

Lying in bed, Legolas stared up at the ceiling of his chambers. His mind was so occupied that he could not find sleep. Ever since he had learned that Elin was heartbroken by the events that had taken place at the Grand Ball, all he had wanted to do was go and comfort her, letting her know that it was a façade for his adar and that she was the one he wanted to be with.

But he could not.

Tauriel had warned him that Elin was too upset and that if he suddenly showed up and tried to talk to her, it might upset her even more. She suggested just letting things calm down a bit before approaching her again. As easy as that sounded, Legolas found that his heart could not take it – knowing that Elin was hurt because of his actions.

No, not his actions.

His adar’s actions. Laurian was right, there was no reason that he should not pursue a relationship with Elin. Mirkwood already had an heir to the throne and as soon as Laurian and Talia had elflings, there would be more.

This was not the only issue that was bugging Legolas. The other was of a vision that Legolas had kept having since the night that he had received the flower so long ago in Imladris – the vision of the young woman holding a child before being engulfed in flames. At the time he had never seen the face of the young woman who was in his vision.

But recently that all changed. Now the face in his vision was of Elin.

While most elves had the gift of foresight to an extent, having reoccurring visions was something completely different. And this worried Legolas. Not because he knew that he and Elin were destined to be together, but because something might happen to her in the future.

And that was what worried him.

Yet the more he thought about it, the decision he finally came to was that a future without Elin by his side was not a future that he wanted to have any part of. He only needed to figure out how to make both his adar and Elin see that.


 

Early the next morning, Thranduil was thrilled that Legolas had appeared in his chambers. He hoped that his son had decided on which elleth from the night before was suited enough to be his wife. Yet he was not going to look to eager to know, but still he was not going to hide his thoughts from his youngest son.

“Have you decided on an elleth that you would like to court?” Thranduil asked as he sat down at his desk, while Legolas stood before him.

“Yes I have adar,” Legolas said standing tall. He knew that it was now or never – he had to stand his ground.

“Then who is the lucky elleth?”

“She is not an elf. It is the adopted daughter of Lord Elrond that I wish to pursue a relationship with.”

“Absolutely not! You are a prince of Mirkwood. Therefore you are to marry an elf.” Thranduil said standing up so that he towered over his youngest son.

“Why not adar?” Legolas said raising his voice in anger. “Why should I not be allowed to marry the one I feel connected to?”

“How will the rest of the kingdom see your relationship? She will wither and fade away, while you will stay young and vibrant!”

“I already understand this!”

“I think you do not!”

“If you attempt to condemn me to a loveless union like you did centuries ago, then I will leave these halls. You can either accept my decision about who I want to court and hopefully pledge myself to or Mirkwood will loose a prince before its time.” Legolas said moving closer to his father. His words had hung with malice and intent on them.

Thranduil knew that Legolas had inherited his temper and determination. And perhaps given long enough, Legolas would relent on his choice seeing as it was ill fated. “Is this what you truly wish for, ion nin?”

“Yes adar.”

“Even if it is against my wishes?”

Legolas slowly shook his head yes, fearful of his adar’s response. Thranduil took notice of this before sighing.

“If courting this mortal is what you think is best for you, then so be it. I only hope that you realize how others will see you.” Thranduil said dismissing his son from his study.

“I do adar.” Legolas said leaving with a smile.


 

Legolas paced back and forth near the entrance to the Halls of Healing. He was half tempted to enter and find Elin, just so he could tell her what he felt and how it threatened to consume him. But instead he waited. He remembered the promise that he made to her brothers – not to let anything happen to her. And he was going to live up to that.

He was not going to let her have a broken heart.

Slowly the elves of Imladris began to trickle out of the Halls of Healing in late afternoon. Yet Elin was not among them. Not wanting too many to know what he was doing, Legolas moved into the shadows and watched as more ellith and ellyn began to emerge.

“She never came today,” Legolas heard an elleth say to her friend as they left the Halls of Healing. He recognized the face of the elleth as one of the many that he had been forced to dance with the previous night. “I would not be surprised if she never showed her face until Lord Elrond returns to escort us home. I have never understood why he took in those ungrateful humans.”

Once the ellith had passed by, Legolas emerged from the shadows and glared at them as they strode away. How could they talk so ugly about someone else when they were not present to defend themselves? Let alone someone that their Lord was taking care of. He had wondered why Lord Elrond had taken in Elin and Estel to raise as his own, but he figured there was a good reason why. So he never questioned it.

He wondered if Elin even knew the reason why?

Oh well.

This was not what his purpose was at the moment. His purpose was to find Elin and tell her about his feelings.

At the moment, that did not seem to be in the cards for him. Perhaps he would see Elin at evening meal.


 

Day after day, Legolas tried to catch Elin either going or leaving the Halls of Healing or during meals. He had never heard any other ellith talk negatively about her like what had happened during that first afternoon, yet he never saw her.

Several times, Legolas would wander the halls of Mirkwood aimlessly once his tasks for the day were complete. Several times he had come close to Elin’s quarters where he had felt himself drawn to go and knock on her door just to see if she was there. Yet in the end he found that he could not.

A little over a week after the Grand Ball, Legolas sat in his quarters cleaning his weapons while thinking about what he could do to make amends to Elin. He had caught glances of her walking the halls several times, yet by the time that he had tried to catch up with her, she was no where to be found. He had no idea how to go about any of this. Matters of the heart confused him and that was why he had stayed away from them for so long.

He knew that he needed to act quickly and make his feelings known to Elin since the Imladris delegation was due to depart in a few short days once Lord Elrond had arrived. He did not even know who from the Mirkwood guard would be traveling to Imladris to train under Lord Glorfindel. Secretly, he hoped that his father would allow him to accompany the Imladris elves and train in the hidden valley. In all honesty, he doubt that his father would allow such a thing to happen. So how was he ever to see Elin again?

While he was running these thoughts through his head, Legolas was not paying attention to what he was doing. In a split second, one of his dual blades cleanly sliced through the palm of his hand. Grabbing whatever he could to try and quell the bleeding, Legolas found that he could not. Slowly pulling the piece of cloth that he had pressed against the wound, he could tell that it was deep.

There was no way that he would be able to take care of this on his own.

Pushing back the embarrassment that was rising, Legolas quickly made his way to the Halls of Healing. Hopefully there would not be too many questions asked.

Thankfully the Halls were not that busy and he was placed into one of the healing rooms where he waited for a healer to attend to his bleeding hand. Within mere minutes of his arrival, a healer walked into his room caring bandages along with a tray full of other items.

Legolas’ breath hitched as he gazed upon the healer who had entered the room.

It was Elin.

Looking up at him, Legolas saw that her eyes had lost their bright silver color and instead had been replaced with a dullish gray color. Slowly he could feel sadness overtaking him. Was Elin still heartbroken?

As she moved closer to him to inspect his hand, the only thing that Legolas wanted to do was brush the loose strand of hair that had fallen across her face, back behind her ear then pull her close to him while he spilled his heart out to her. Yet he found that he could not.

Instead he watched as Elin cleaned his wound, applying some sort of liquid to it that burned a bit causing Legolas to hiss. When he hissed in pain, he swore that he saw a small smirk spread across Elin’s face. After that she quickly wrapped his hand with a dressing.

“You will have to have the dressing changed daily until the wound has fully healed. It was a clean cut, so I doubt that it will take many days to heal,” she said without looking at him as she began to clean up from treating him. She began to leave the room, yet Legolas’ voice stopped her.

“Wait Elin…”

She sighed and turned around to look at him. She said nothing, while she waited for him to say what he needed to.

“I know that you are leaving soon and I would like for nothing else but to enjoy a walk with you tonight.”

“I do not know, Legolas…” she said, trying to leave once again. But Legolas was quicker than she was.

“Please? Just one last time?” he asked, quickly moving in front of her to prevent her from fleeing him.

“Alright. One last time.”

Legolas smiled as he placed a hand against her cheek before brushing the hair out of her face. “I will see you tonight then,” he said as he left the healing room.

As he walked away, Elin could not help but blush. She knew that her heart belonged to the Woodland prince, yet she also knew that they could never be.


 

Just as he promised, Legolas met Elin at her quarters later that night. As normal, he greeted her and she simply smiled. They walked in silence through the halls of Mirkwood until Legolas had led them to one of the remote corners, where they had often come to sit and talk over the last few months. As they moved to sit down, Elin noticed that Legolas was extremely silent – too silent.

“Does something ail you?” she asked.

Legolas turned to look at her with a smile on his face. “No, I am just savoring these final days that you are here in Mirkwood for I will miss you when you return home.”

Elin blushed and turned her face away, trying to hide the deepening red that was flooding her cheeks. She too would miss Legolas.

Without hesitation, he placed his hand against the side of her face and turned it back towards him. He gently began to stroke her cheek as he began to lay his heart out there for Elin.

“I used to not believe that I would ever find who I was supposed to be with in life. So instead I focused on duty towards my father and my people. Then you appeared like a bright sunrise and suddenly I felt that everything was different – almost brighter. It pained me that at the Grand Ball, I could not spend the entire night dancing with only you. I did not care for a single one of the ellith that my father had me dance with. You were the only one that I had eyes for. Ever since then, I have felt that I cannot breathe unless I see you. It pained me to be parted from your presence for a short while and the last few days have been horrific. I know exactly what I want in life now and whom I want in it. I would love for nothing more than a chance to prove just how much I need you in my life, Elin. Will you allow me that chance?”

Tears weld up in Elin’s eyes as she listened to Legolas spill his heart out to her. As he went to brush the few tears that fell away from her eyes, all she wanted to do was collapse into his arms and say yes to his request. But she knew that she could not condemn him to a short time with her. What she told him next cut both of them to the core and tore at their hearts.

“No.”

Chapter Text

Legolas was numb. He did not know how to think or to feel. It felt as if his heart had been ripped from his chest and stomped on. It had been several days since he had spoken to Elin…

And he was still in denial about it all.

He could not believe that Elin had said no.

He had spilled his heart out to her and she was even crying. Yet in the end, she had still told him no. The question that he had was why? Why had she told him no? It seemed obvious to him that she had been moved by his words and actions that night, so why was the end result not what he had wanted it to be? Why was the one who he was sure that he was meant to be with, denying him the chance to prove it?

There was not much time left before she and the delegation from Imladris were to leave Mirkwood and return home. Lord Elrond and his twin sons had arrived late previous night after the evening meal and were due to leave the next. The only good thing was that he and ten other members of the Woodland Guard were going to be traveling to Imladris to train with Lord Glorfindel for several months. Sure that gave him more time to figure out why Elin had refused his advances, it still did not make up for the fact that without Elin in his life, what reason was there to even live an immortal life?


 

During the first full day that her brothers and ada were in Mirkwood, Legolas had spotted Elin as she walked through the halls with her brothers and she actually was wearing a smile on her face. That was a relief to Legolas. He was worried that she would never smile again and he loved her smile. He also wondered if she was going to show up at the evening meal. She normally had not shared any meals with the royal family during her stay in Mirkwood, yet this was a different occasion since her brothers and ada were there as well. Legolas was thrilled that Elin actually showed up. He was worried that she might not because of him. While he had not sat next to her like he wanted to, he had managed to catch her eye once and smile at her. She blushed then quickly looked away as she sat in between Elrohir and her ada. Perhaps there was hope yet.

And perhaps Elrohir and Elladan could help shine a light on the subject of their sister for him.


“We figured that Elin would have said yes,” Elrohir said, when Legolas had approached them on the subject of Elin.

“But remember, Elrohir, that she has always been trying to prove herself to someone.” Elladan reminded his brother, who nodded in agreement.

Legolas looked at the twins in puzzlement. “What has she always been trying to prove?” he questioned.

“That she is not weak.” Elladan answered.

“But she is not!” Legolas answered, shocked to hear the words coming from Elladan.

“We know that, Ada knows that, Estel knows that, yet Elin does not. When she was younger, she could not keep up with Estel and the other elflings when playing games in the courtyards. She was often sick with fevers. Ada was even worried for a time that she would not make it to her coming of age celebration, which is now only two years away. Yet as she has grown older, things have changed…”

Legolas noticed that Elrohir trailed off at the end of his explanation. “What things have changed?” he questioned, with his curiosity now peaked.

The twins went silent as they debated internally about telling Legolas what they were withholding from him or not. “It is Elin’s story to tell. Not ours.” Elladan finally said.

Legolas sighed in defeat. He was never going to find out why she had told him no. He was determined to make this right with her.

“Just do not give up on her,” Elrohir said. “She will eventually come around when she sees that she does not have to prove anything to you.”

Silently, Legolas hoped that the twins were right. Elin had nothing to prove to him. It was him who had everything to prove to her. Thankfully he would have time to do so during his visit to Imladris.


 

“Something troubles you iell nin,” Elrond said, cutting off Elin as she was telling him about what she had learning during her time in the Mirkwood Halls of Healing. After their evening meal, Elrond promised that he would make time for his daughter since he had been in meetings almost all day with King Thranduil and his advisors. He had been listening to her go on and on about practically the same thing. And Elrond was anything but a fool – he knew when his daughter was trying to avoid something. He had already raised three elflings for thousands of years, so one Dúnedain child was no match for his wits – even one with the gifts that Elin possessed.

He had a pretty good idea about what was troubling Elin and that it involved a fair-haired prince of Mirkwood. Elrond had seen Legolas glancing several times towards Elin at dinner, every time with a hopeful smile across his face. Most of the time, out of the corner of his eye, Elrond had noticed that Elin had not returned the prince’s affections. He wondered what had happened between his daughter and the prince. Before he had left Elin and the delegation several months ago, he knew that Elin was worried about opening her heart to anyone. Yet what had transpired during the course of her time in Mirkwood?

Elin stopped talking about what she had learned and looked down at the floor as they kept walking. “I tried opening my heart ada and listening to it more, I really did. And it felt so wonderful and overwhelming! I also knew that Legolas felt that same way towards me. I could tell by his actions during our nightly walks,” she softly said.

Seeing that this was going to get emotional, Elrond turned their walking direction back towards his chambers. He figured that Elin would like some privacy while they talked. Once they had entered his quarters, Elin moved to sit on the edge of the bed, while Elrond pulled up a chair next to her. “What else happened?” Elrond asked, gently probing Elin so that he could get a feel for what had all happened.

“King Thranduil threw a Grand Ball in an attempt to find Legolas a suitable bride. I had hoped that we would be able to dance together yet that did not happen. The entire time Legolas was made to dance with all the single ellith…” Elin said continuing her story as she looked down at the bed below her.

He voice trailed off.

Elrond reached out and gently tilt her chin up as he watched a single tear slip down his daughter’s cheek.

“Did he ever explain why he did not dance with you?”

Elin shook her head yes as more tears fell. “But that did not stop others from talking about me behind my back before he was able to explain.”

“Mirkwood elves?”

This time she shook her head no. “It was Hantaliel,” she whispered.

Elrond sighed as he wiped away Elin’s tears. Hantaliel was one of the elves that resided in his own house. She had originally come from Lórien at his in-laws request due to not getting along with others and Elrond had warned her that none of that would be tolerated in his house. That had been centuries ago. So why now? He would just have to make sure to watch her when they returned to Imladris.

“So Legolas explained why he had not danced with you,” Elrond recounted, trying to get back to the matter at hand. “And I’m sure that it was a good explanation.”

“It was,” Elin flatly responded, adverting her eyes from her ada once again.

“Then why the sadness?”

“I do not want to be his death sentence, ada!” she wailed, suddenly bursting out into tears. Elrond stood up from his chair and moved to the bed, where he gathered his daughter into his arms and rocked her like he did when she had been younger and a nightmare had haunted her dreams.

“You know what he wants. Yet what do you want?” he asked.

“I want Legolas to marry a beautiful elleth, have a large family, live a long and happy life then leave these shores when the time comes.” Elin said sniffling.

Elrond wiped the fresh tears from his daughter’s cheeks then kissed her forehead. While Elin may have the gift for foresight, Elrond did as well and he had a much better grasp on how to manage his abilities. Ever since leaving Elin in Mirkwood, Elrond had seen nothing in her future besides her and Prince Legolas together. He was certain that they were meant to be together much like Tuor and Idril had been during the First Age. He also knew that Elin truly did not want Legolas to marry another. She only wanted that so that he did not fade of a broken heart when she passed away. Yet the future was never set in stone.

“Remember iell nin, the future is fluid – its always changing. Always in motion. Besides we cannot help whom we fall in love with. The greatest call that anyone can ever feel is the pull towards another. And just because you think that elves and mortals do not belong together, does not mean that the Valar feel that way.”

Elin took a deep breath and slowly nodded. She truly hoped that her ada was right.


 

Rest did not come easy that night for many in the Halls of Mirkwood.

Legolas could not find sleep thanks to the visions he kept having of Elin holding a small elfling close to her that looked exactly like he did. He could not figure out if this was an evil taunt from his broken heart or truly a vision of the future. Which ever it was, it only made him more determined to prove to Elin that they did belong together. He knew that they did. Each day that he was not able to spend any time with her wore on him.

And deep down, he was certain that he would not survive another rejection from her. Without her in his life, he did not know what he would do. Perhaps he would sail to the Undying Lands.

In another part of Mirkwood, Elin tossed and turned in her own bed, unable to find sleep as well. She had even drank a cup of calming tea before bed at her ada’s suggestion. Yet nothing was helping. The conversation with her ada kept replaying itself over and over again in her head. She knew that her ada was correct about the future – it was never set in stone. Yet it almost seemed that he knew something that he was holding back from her.

‘Besides we cannot help whom we fall in love with…’ he had told her as well.

Had the Valar meant for her to fall in love with Legolas? Was it her fate to doom him to a shorten life after he had been made to watch her grow old and die?

She only wished that she knew of another way that they could be together. She would give anything in Arda to be able to be the one that Legolas bound himself to.


 

Bright and early the next morning, the Imladris delegation prepared to leave Mirkwood with roughly ten members of the Woodland guard that would train for several months with Glorfindel. Elin sat upon the back of her beloved horse, Argo with Elladan next to her upon his horse as she looked at the members of the Woodland guard who would be traveling with them. She noticed that Feren, one of Legolas’ friends in the guard was going with them and that was the only Mirkwood elf that she had recognized. She had even hoped that the she-elf Tauriel would travel with them since she was a captain. There had been several times since the Grand Ball that Elin and Tauriel had talked. Elin had found the she-elf interesting and was glad to call her a friend, since she did not have many of those.

Yet a larger part of her had hoped that Legolas would be traveling with them. But she knew that her wish was probably in folly since he was a prince and there was very little chance that his adar would let him leave the Halls of Mirkwood for so long.

“All set?” Elrond asked, maneuvering his horse next to his daughter as she looked up at him. She quickly turned to look back at the Halls of Mirkwood that were framed against the shade of the trees of the forest. She sighed, wishing that she had made time to say goodbye to Legolas. He at least deserved that much from her.

She nodded as she turned back to look at her ada. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed something. Another figure on horseback moved along side Elrohir. A small smile spread across her face as the figure came into view.

It was Legolas.

She felt her heart pound against her rib cage as happiness swelled throughout her body. Was this the calling that her ada had been talking about the night before? She had felt this before when Legolas had been close to her, but never with this intensity. Yet seeing the way that Legolas’ eyes held no sparkle in them any longer worried her. Was he already fading because of her actions?

Surely not.

He looked up at her and a small smile crossed his face as he returned hers. That was when she knew it – she had been wrong all along.

Perhaps she was meant to be with Legolas and together they would find a way to spend their years in happiness.

Now she just needed to prove it to him.

Chapter Text

During their journey through Mirkwood Forest, Elin rode alongside Elladan with Elrohir and Legolas in front of them. Behind them rode the other members of the Woodland Guard and Imladris delegation. Essentially Elrond wanted Elin to be surrounded for her protection as they rode. Elin had never understood why her ada was like this about things when it came to her and sometimes Estel, but she never questioned them. She figured that her ada always had a good reason as to why he always did everything.

As they continued their journey, Elin could hear the conversation that Elrohir and Legolas were engaged in about Mirkwood – from how it had changed to some of the dangers that the Woodland Guard had faced.

“But with all this darkness and evil, is there not any beauty left in the forest?” Elin asked edging Argo a bit forward so that she could butt into their conversation.

“There are places of beauty deep in the forest. You just have to know where to find them.”

Moving close to Legolas’ horse with Argo, Elin essentially pushed Elrohir behind her in the procession. But Elrohir did not mind at all. In fact, he was thrilled. He and Elladan knew that both Legolas and Elin had feelings for each other and the twins would do just about anything to make sure the two of them end up together – even if it meant locking them in a closet together once they reached Imladris.

As the day wore on, the twins were not the only ones who had taken notice of the fact that Legolas and Elin were once again talking. Elrond had as well. This was a good thing too, since both of their futures were becoming clearer to him – Elin’s depended on Legolas and his depended on Elin.


 

As the days wore on and the procession made their way out of Mirkwood forest and along the River Anduin south towards the High Pass in the Misty Mountains, Legolas and Elin slowly slipped back into their easy routine of talking with each other. It began to seem to Legolas as if nothing had happened between them – almost like Elin had never told him “no” to begin with when he had asked if he could court her.

While he would not air his frustration about the entire situation during the day – when the procession made camp at night, it was a completely different story.

“Something troubles you, my friend,” Feren noticed one night.

“I’m afraid it is more than just something.” Legolas said, as he watched Elin brush down her horse for the night, before she disappeared into her tent.

“You know if she turned you down then do you mind if I try?” Feren asked in a hushed whisper leaning close to his friend.

“She is not an item to be traded,” Legolas said as he quickly unsheathed one of his dual blades and pressed it against his friend’s throat. “She is to be cherished.”

Feren pushed the blade away with the tip of his finger. “I was merely trying to see how much you cared for her. That is all. There was a rumor that you fancied her. So I take it that it is true.”

“It is. Yet I am not certain how she feels about me.”

“Truly this is something! The noble Prince Legolas uncertain of something!” Feren remarked laughing.

Legolas could not help but blush a bit. He only hoped that not too many had over heard their conversation. He really wished that he knew what was going on between him and Elin. Yet he did not know how to approach her about his feelings that were still present and only seemed to continue to grow. He was still certain that they were meant to be together even though she did not believe so.


 

Running through the forest, she could feel herself being pulled towards something – no someone. She knew that this figure was in danger, yet from what she could not tell from what. That only propelled her to move faster. Eventually she came to a clearing where she saw a tall, lithe male figure with long blonde hair standing with a bow drawn and ready to fire.

This is whom she had been pulled towards.

This is who was in danger.

The figure turned and aimed his bow at her.

‘Don’t shoot!’ she whispered, within her mind – almost through a bond of sorts. ‘It’s me!’

The figure lowered his bow just as she crashed into him, knocking them both to the ground. Yet it was too late. The sound of an arrow being released from somewhere else was heard along with it striking flesh could be heard. As they lay in a tangled heap on the forest floor, Elin began to feel something warm and wet against her skin.

Blood.

Pushing away from the other body so that she could make sure that they were both alright, it was then that she saw the face of the figure that she had crashed into. Lying against the forest floor, with an arrow through his chest, was Legolas…

Elin sat up breathing hard. Running her hands through the tangled mess of her wavy hair, she tried to calm herself down. Had it all been a dream or had it been a vision?

Tears spilled from her eyes. Why was her heart tormenting her so? She was feeling the pull towards Legolas. The need to be close to him. The want to know everything about him. The longing to feel his lips against hers. Yet these dreams and visions scared her. How could she allow herself to love if she was doomed to loose him?

She knew that there would be a time that if they did bind themselves to each other that they would eventually have to say goodbye…but even then she did not want to think about that. Yet this had been something completely different. This had not been death from old age.

This had been murder.

Besides she had told him that she did not want him to court her, but was she having second thoughts about what she had said to him? Did she truly want to bind herself to the Woodland prince?

Taking a deep breath and willing herself to calm down, she kept remembering her ada’s words – the future was always in motion, always changing.

Remembering that, she fiercely wiped the tears away from her cheeks. Nothing was ever certain. So perhaps Legolas was not doomed to die thanks to an arrow to the chest.

Once she had calmed herself back down, she lay back down and tried to get back to sleep knowing that the next few days there would be time for little sleep since they would going over the Misty Mountains. After a few minutes, she found that sleep evaded her.

Perhaps some fresh air was what she needed.

Slipping on her riding boots and a cloak over her nightgown, she slipped out of her tent into the cool night air. Wrapping her arms around herself for more warmth, she closed her eyes and inhaled a deep breath of air. As she released the breath, she could already feel herself calming even more down.

Yes, fresh air had been what she needed.

Opening her eyes, she took a look around the darkened camp. Most of the elves were resting for the journey over the Misty Mountains – either in tents or some were in nearby trees. Then there were others who were gathered around small campfires spread throughout where the various tents were located.

Seeing that there was once such campfire close to her tent, Elin made her way towards it. Perhaps there was someone up that she could talk with – perhaps take her mind off things.

As she approached the fire, she discovered that she was both right and wrong.

Yes, there was someone who was awake. Yet, there was no way that she would be able to take her mind off of what kept flashing through her mind – Legolas dying in her arms.

The reason why she would not be able to take her mind off of the thought of Legolas dying was because the only elf that was sitting around the campfire was Legolas.

When she had walked up to the campfire and noticed that he was sitting there alone, she tried to quietly turn back around and head back to her tent. Even that did not seem to be in the cards. Underneath her foot, a twig broke. She immediately froze on the spot where it had happened, knowing full well that Legolas would have heard that.

“Elin?” she heard him whisper.

She turned back around and smiled at him as he had turned to look at her from his sitting position next to the fire. “I umm…did not mean to bother you, Legolas,” she stumbled out. “I was just looking to see if my ada or brothers were awake. That’s all.”

“I believe they all retired a while ago,” he said standing up and beginning to approach her. “Is everything alright?”

She hastily nodded. “I guess that I will just be going back to bed then,” she quickly said, turning back around and scampering back to her tent.

Legolas watched in puzzlement as Elin retreated back to her tent. That had been the oddest conversation that had been held between them during the length of this journey so far. What could be troubling Elin so much?

Sighing, he sat back down next to the fire and stared into it. He longed for the simpler days before the Grand Ball that his adar had thrown. Back to when Elin felt that she could tell him anything at all.


 

Over the next few days, as the delegation made their way across the Misty Mountains, crossing at the High Pass, Legolas found that Elin did not ride next to him like she had been for most of the journey thus far. Instead she rode closer to the front, near to her ada. Perhaps this was for her protection since the mountains were treacherous to even the most skilled elves and yet Elin was a mortal.

Or perhaps it was because she did not want to. Had she finally made her decision about not wanting to ever talk to him again? Deep in his heart he had wanted to believe that she had reversed her decision about not wanting to take their friendship further and turn it into something else by allowing him to court her. Had he been that naïve enough to allow himself to believe in love after all his years without it? Perhaps he was destined to be without it his entire existence.

Yet whenever he looked at Elin, especially into her eyes, he knew that it was with her that he belonged – mortal or not. The Valar had determined long ago that she was to be his match in life, even if it were to be for a short amount of time. And he’d be damned if anything would stop him from making the most of it or even denying him it.

One way or another, he would make Elin see that she belonged with him.


 

Elin sighed in relief. The Misty Mountains were behind them and soon they would be home. She could not wait to see the Hidden Valley. This had been the longest amount of time that she had been away from home by herself. All the other times she had travel it had been with her family, such as when they would travel to Lórien to see Lady Galadriel and Lord Celebrían.

As the delegation rode on a wider path, Elin suddenly found herself surrounded by her brothers. She could tell that there was something that they wanted to talk to her about. They typically never both came to talk to her about anything at the same time.

“Why do you deny him?” Elladan hissed at her.

“Deny who?” she asked a bit confused.

“Legolas.” Elrohir answered.

Elin turned and looked at her other brother. Then looked straight ahead as she tried to figure out why the twins were questioning her about Legolas. Had he talked to the twins about her? Surely not…or had he? When she did not say anything, Elrohir spoke again.

“We both know that you have not had the easiest childhood, always trying to fit in when you were weaker than others. Things are different now. You are no longer weak,” he said. “You just need to see that for yourself.”

“There are reasons for everything,” Elladan added. “So why are you denying him? Why are you denying yourself?”

Elin slowly looked back at up then at both of her brothers before sighing as she looked down at Argo’s mane. “It’s my visions. I do not see happiness in them. All I see is death and destruction. I want to let Legolas in; I want to love him. Yet I am scared that if I do and he learns of these visions, that it will drive him away.”

Elladan reached over and squeezed her shoulder. She looked up at him. “Let him be the one to make that decision,” he said.


 

Standing on her small balcony that overlooked the River Bruinen, Elin closed her eyes and felt the rays of the sunshine fall upon her face.

It was good to finally be home.

Yes it had been good to finally see more of Arda and to have more experiences. Yet home was so much better. Here she would not be confined to a cavern. Here she could sit outside among the trees in the sunlight and feel the breeze along her skin. Here she could ride Argo to her favorite spot along the river and sit all afternoon and read while Argo grazed on some nearby grass or lay next to her in the sun.

Life was back to normal.

But why did she feel so sad?

It felt almost as if part of her fëa was gone.

Looking out across the courtyard, she could see Erestor and Glorfindel showing the Mirkwood delegation around before the feast that was going to be held in their honor that night. And standing out among the dark headed Mirkwood ellyn was Legolas with his fair hair. Elin could spot him anywhere.

Knowing that there would be a feast tonight also meant that there would be a gathering in the Hall of Fire afterwards. Elin hoped that Legolas would attend that – which knowing how he was about putting on a façade for his father, that would mean that he would be there, representing him, even if it was only for a few minutes.

Thinking back over the last several days of the journey home, Elin realized that she had froze Legolas out – all thanks to that vision of him dying in her arms. She had not told anyone about it, instead choosing to lock it away deep inside her heart – hoping that it never would come true. Yet even while she did not talk to Legolas for several days, the desire to be close to him never faded. And after the discussion with her brothers, she knew that they were right.

She had to stop denying her feelings. She was not only hurting herself, she was also hurting Legolas. She could see it in his eyes every time that she looked at him. She had to let him in. Whether or not he decided to stay – that would be up to him. Just like her brothers had suggested.

Turning from her balcony, she made her way towards her wardrobe. She remembered how Legolas’ breath had hitched the first time that he had seen her in a light blue dress. So what about if she wore a light blue and dark blue pattern dress. She had always loved the color blue since it brought out the color of her eyes. Hopefully it would help her tonight.


Hantaliel scanned the Hall of Fire for any sign of Legolas. She was pretty certain that the Mirkwood elves would join the elves of Imladris in the hall after the evening meal since it had been a feast in their honor. So why would their prince not join them as well?

Spotting him in a corner with one of the other ellon from Mirkwood, he looked to be forlorn – almost lost. Perhaps the prince was a bit homesick. Maybe she should offer to show him around Imladris in an attempt to get to know him better. Ever since they had danced at the Grand Ball, she had felt something for him. Something that she wanted to explore. Yet it seemed that Legolas was only interested in the mortal daughter of Lord Elrond.

What did Elin have that she did not?

Besides Elin would die, while she never would. Legolas did not need a bride like that. Who would want an old hag to love?

Smiling to herself, Hantaliel made her way towards Legolas and his friend. “Good evening my lords,” she said bowing to them slightly. “I was wondering if either of you would like a private tour of Imladris?”

“No,” Legolas responded looking up. “That is quite alright.”

He remembered exactly who this elleth was and what she had said about Elin while in his father’s halls. There was no way that he would have anything to do with her. If it were up to him, he would have punished her for speaking ill of a member of the Lord of Imladris’ family.

“Are you certain?” she whispered in his ear as she moved to almost sit in his lap.


 

Elin took a deep breath as she entered the Hall of Fire. It was now or never. She was going to find Legolas, ask him to go with her on a walk, then she was going to tell him everything – from why she told him no in the first place to about her visions and nightmares to even asking for his forgiveness. Hopefully he would forgive her.

Hopefully.

Dinner had been good. He had sat across from her and smiled at her. She had returned his smile and she could tell that his eyes had once again begun to show the glean that they once had when he had looked at her.

She did love his eyes.

They had not said anything to each other because Estel had occupied much of her time at dinner, wanting to know all about her journey home and her time in Mirkwood, but that was fine with her. There would be time to talk to Legolas after dinner.

Even after dinner, she had been detained for a few moments by Erestor, who was letting her know that her lessons would begin once again in two days time – but after that nothing else was going to stop her. She had quickly thanked the counselor and was finally free to make her way to the Hall of Fire. Yet when she got there, she was not ready for the sight that she saw.

Another elleth was practically in Legolas’ lap!

Without even figuring out who it was, she turned and fled from the Hall of Fire into the darkness of the gardens.


 

Feren saw the entire thing happen.

Here was a random elleth, who neither he nor Legolas knew, who was trying to persuade either of them – more so Legolas than him – to go for a tour of the grounds. She was obviously making his prince quite uncomfortable as well.

Then there was Elin, who he had just seen walk into the Hall of Fire with a smile on her face which had quickly turned to a look of hurt before she turned and fled into the darkness of the gardens. Obviously she had no idea what was going on. Perhaps she had thought that Legolas and this strange elleth had something going on, which was the furthest thing from the truth. Feren knew that he was going to have to do something to help out Legolas.

“How about you show me around?” he asked the elleth as he took ahold of her arm, pulling her away from Legolas. “I would love a tour. I have never been here before unlike some of the other members of the guard.”

Hantaliel stood up and looked at Feren then back at Legolas before sighing. She nodded before beginning to lead Feren in a different direction than the way that Elin had gone.

Feren quickly turned back and looked at Legolas. ‘Elin’ he mouthed and pointed towards the other set of outside doors that were wide open.

Legolas quickly got the hint as he stood up and made his way out into the garden to search for the one whom his heart belonged with.

With a waning moon hanging in the sky, there was more than enough light for Legolas to see. There were various elf couples throughout the garden, quietly talking or walking along the various paths. Yet nowhere could Elin be found.

The further and further he moved through the garden, the more his heart began to sink. It was beginning to become hopeless. He was never going to find Elin.

Then he heard something odd coming from the other side of a tall brush. It sounded almost like crying. Pushing the foliage aside, he found Elin sitting against a tree with her back turned towards him. Her knees were pulled up to her chest and she was crying into her arms.

Stepping through the bush, Legolas moved silently towards her. “Elin, what is wrong?” he asked as he sat down next to her on the ground.

Slowly looking up at him, with a look of shock on her face, it took her a second before she wiped the tears away. “Legolas, what are you doing out here?” she asked as she sniffled.

“Looking for you.”

“How come? Are there not others who are throwing themselves at you?”

“Yet they are not who I want to spend time with,” he said as he slowly and hesitantly placed his hand against her cheek.

A small smile formed on Elin’s face and she was ever so thankful that it was dark because she could feel the blush rising in her cheeks. She knew that it was now or never. She had to tell Legolas everything.

“I’m sorry,” she barely whispered as tears began to fall again. She averted her gaze away from his.

“Sorry for what?” he asked, tilting her chin back up to look at him. There was no way that he was letting her escape from him now. He was too close now. He was going to prove to her just how much he needed her in his life.

“For not letting you in. For denying my feelings for you – both to you and to me. And for being scared,” she whimpered as the tears began to flow once again.

Legolas sat there stunned. She did have feelings for him. He could not believe it. He did not know what to do or say at that moment, so instead he thought it best to let Elin air all of her repressed feelings first.

“I never knew that coming to Mirkwood, that I would find happiness. But I did. And it scared me. It scared me because I have always been weaker then all the other children – both human and elflings. That was why I turned to the healing arts. Yet for some reason, I felt that I needed to go to Mirkwood when ada was choosing the delegation that had made the journey. Perhaps that had been the reason he choose me to go. Who knows? Fate is funny like that. Then I met you and I felt that I could do anything in the world, yet I was also scared.”

“How come?” he asked, wiping a few remaining tears away.

“Because of a pairing between a mortal and an elf…”

“I do not care.”

“But I do! I do not want you to watch me grow old and die!” she practically yelled, getting worked up again.

Legolas placed his other hand against her other cheek to calm her down even more. “Elin, listen to me. That is not what matters to me right this moment. And a lot can happen in a lifetime. Besides, the Valar can be forgiving. They were for Lord Elrond’s parents.”

She took a deep breath and nodded as she closed her eyes. Legolas was right. Things could always change.

“Then there are my visions and dreams…” she softly said, with her eyes still closed.

“What sort of visions and dreams?”

“Mainly ones about the future. And I fear what the future will bring. I only ever see death and destruction. I will loose everything I hold dear.”

“Does that include me?”

She slowly nodded yes, as more tears began to fall from her still closed eyes. Legolas gently stroked the sides of her face as she opened her eyes to look at him.

“Is that another reason why you denied my request to court you?” he asked.

Biting her lower lip, she nodded yes as more tears fell.

“I promise you that no matter what happens – no matter what you dreamt or what you saw - I will always fight to get back to you. ”

“Promise?”

He nodded. “Let me prove it to you,” he then asked as he cupped her face. A small smile appeared on Elin’s face as she nodded in agreement. That was all Legolas needed to do what he had been longing to do for months.

Pulling Elin closer to him, he gently brushed his lips against hers before deeping their kiss with the second pass of his lips. Much to his surprise, he felt Elin return his kiss. He wrapped his arms gently around her, holding Elin’s slender body against his stronger, lithe frame. Eventually, trembling fingers began to run themselves through his hair the longer that the kiss continued and Legolas could not help but melt into Elin’s touch. All of it felt as if he was on fire.

And that was when he knew.

Elin was his match.

He was certain of it.

Once their kiss ended, which it had not been a long kiss – it had just felt that way since it was a first for both of them – Elin lay her head against Legolas’ shoulder as he wrapped his arms loosely around her. As she lay in Legolas’ arms, she could not help but smile. This felt right.

Her world finally felt right.

This was exactly where she belonged.

Chapter Text

For a moment, Elin could not remember where she was or what she had been doing. The only thing that she could recall was the dream that she had just had.

A dream where there was nothing but happiness in her visions and Legolas was by her side.

It had been a perfect dream.

Yet something had woken her from it. Squinting up into the late afternoon sun, she managed to make out the figure that she was lying against. A smile spread across her face when she realized who she was snuggled against.

Legolas.

He was slowly twirling a piece of her loose hair around his finger before he brushed it out of her face. A smile spread across his face when he noticed that she was awake. “I did not mean to wake you,” he said, leaning down and softly kissing her lips.

“It is alright,” she said stretching as she sat up. “I did not mean to fall asleep.”

“That is fine. Besides, you look peaceful when you are sleeping,” he answered, leaning forward and stealing another quick kiss from her before moving to stand up. He then helped Elin to her feet. If there were one thing that Legolas could not get enough of the last few weeks, besides spending his free time with Elin, then it would be the feel of her lips against his. The feeling was almost intoxicating to him and it always left him craving more.

Noticing how late it had gotten, Legolas suggested that they make their way back towards Imladris from their secluded spot along the River Bruinen. Elin had told him that this was where she would ride Argo to when she wanted to escape Imladris for a bit. And now he always enjoyed spending time with her here. It was where they could be just them.

As they walked back, Legolas held Elin close to him as he thought about how their relationship had transpired and grown since Elin’s confession to him that night in the garden as well as their first kiss underneath the stars. And Legolas had come to the conclusion that he had never felt as happy or free as he did during the moments that he was able to steal away with Elin once his training was complete for the day. Even though his heart wanted to spend every waking moment with Elin, he knew that he could not – training came first. He had been sent to the hidden valley for a purpose – besides that of finding true love – and he knew that he needed to fulfill that task so that his father would not ill with him when he returned home.

Home.

The thought of returning to Mirkwood without Elin greatly saddened him. Yet it was still several months away until he would have to leave and he was determined to make the most out of the time he was allotted with her for now…

…that was until her coming of age celebrations, which were a little less than two years from then. If he and Elin were still courting when she came of age, he was going to pledge himself to her before asking her to bind with him and become his wife. There was no doubt in Legolas’ mind that Elin was the one he was supposed to be with, yet he did not want to rush things with her. He knew that she was still a bit weary about everything and was still trying to feel her way through this entire relationship idea.

In fact, so was he.

But that was not stopping him from making sure that nothing befell Elin – especially when they were away from Imladris. It only made him want to protect her that much more.


 

“How about some more archery practice?” Feren suggested as he cleaned his sword before setting it to the side in the armory as he and Legolas cleaned up from their early practice session with Glorfindel and the other guard members from Mirkwood. “We have to be able to shoot from horses instead of on our feet during the patrols that we are going to be sent on.”

“Speak for yourself,” Legolas said with a smirk on his face. He never doubted his archery abilities. Besides his shoulders were aching just a bit from all training that he had been going through along with the rest of the Mirkwood guard. The last few nights he had done little else but sleep – simply seeing Elin for a moment after evening meal to see how her day had been along with stealing a quick kiss before heading off to bed.

“So since Lord Glorfindel gave us the afternoon off and you do not want to practice archery, let me guess – you are planning on spending your free afternoon with Elin.” Feren quipped as Legolas blushed slightly. In all his years of knowing the prince, Feren had never seen him this happy.

“Of course. What would make you think otherwise?” Legolas retorted with a smile on his face. He stood and turned to leave the armory carrying his weapons, only to be greeted with a surprise. Sitting at the bottom of the steps that led from the armory back to the main part of Imladris was Elin.

“What are you doing here?” he asked as he held a hand out to help her up.

“Waiting for you. I knew that your session ended early today and I have missed spending time with you the last few days,” she said wrapping her arms around his neck. “I wanted to see if you wanted to steal away and spend the afternoon together before you have to go on patrol in a few days. I have a basket prepared with food as well.”

She held up a basket that was sitting at her feet.

“I do like the sound of that. Let me put my change out of my armor and I will meet you in the gardens in a few minutes.”

Elin nodded as they walked hand in hand back towards the housing complex. Legolas kissed her cheek before turning and heading towards his room to change and drop off his weapons while Elin turned and headed towards the main part of the gardens, carrying the basket with her. On her face was the brightest smile that any elf in Imladris had seen on Elin in the longest time – perhaps since she was a little girl – and they all knew the reasoning behind it.

The Mirkwood prince.

While most were happy that their Lord’s daughter was finally returning to herself after being locked away for so long, there was one who was worried. In fact, if he had it his way, Elin would have nothing to do with the Mirkwood prince since he knew that it would only lead to heartache in the end.

Estel had watched from the shadows for several weeks and taken notice of the growing relationship between Legolas and his sister. How could ada allow this relationship to continue, especially since Elin would age and Legolas would not?

Besides, he had not been able to spend any time with his sister since she had returned from her time in Mirkwood. All her time seemed to be taken up by Legolas. Frankly, he was tired of it.

He needed to put a stop to it before things got too serious.


 

The afternoon had been perfect. Legolas and Elin enjoyed the lunch that she had prepared for them before settling down underneath a tree in their favorite spot to read a book. Legolas loved it when Elin read to him, especially when she spoke elvish. There had also been numerous kisses – long and short, sweet and tender, deep and passionate.

Hearing the way that her breath hitched each time they kissed along with the smile that was on her face afterwards, made Legolas’ heart skip a beat. He had known for several days now that he was in love with Elin, yet he was too nervous to tell her, instead deciding to wait just a few more days. Perhaps after his patrol with the Imladris guards.

That seemed like a good time.

Hoping to be able to spend time with her when they returned to Imladris towards nightfall, he was disappointed that he was not able to. Instead, Estel had pulled Elin off to the side after evening meal and seemed to be in a deep conversation with her about something. He decided that he better leave the siblings alone for a while.

Whatever they were discussing seemed to be important.


 

“Have you lost your mind?” Estel hissed at his sister as he escorted her back to her room after evening meal. “Forming a relationship with an elf?”

“What concern of it is yours?” she hissed in return.

“You are my baby sister!” he said as he opened the door to her room, leading her inside and shutting the door. This conversation was best done behind closed doors.

“Only by a few minutes!”

Estel glared at her. “What does ada think?”

“He supports it! And so do the twins! Why do you not?”

“What happens if King Thranduil does not approve of your relationship?” Estel then countered.

Elin glared at her brother. Estel knew this glare far too well. It was the glare that Elin would give whenever she thought that her brother was being too overbearing. He quickly moved on to a different question. “What about when he ages and you do not?”

“Why should any of this matter? The only thing that does is the fact that I love him!”

Estel gazed wide-eyed at his sister for a moment as Elin quickly covered her mouth when she realized what she had just said – she loved Legolas.

Did she really?

She knew the answer deep down and it was yes.

Yes she loved Legolas Thranduilion. She loved the Mirkwood prince.

If only she had told Legolas first instead of her brother. That would have been a whole lot better.

Realizing that this was a lost cause, Estel turned and left Elin in her quarters. If he could not convince his sister that this was folly, then hopefully he would make sure that Legolas knew not to hurt his sister in any way at all.

The last thing in the world that Estel wanted to have happen was for Elin to suffer from a broken heart.


 

Over the next few days, Elin tried to bridge the subject of love with Legolas, yet found that she never could or never got the chance to. Either he was too busy or tired. Hopefully after the patrol that he was preparing to depart for, she could bridge the subject with him.

She thought of it as a welcome back gift – telling him that she loved him.

Hopefully he felt the same about her.

Hopefully.


 

While the Mirkwood elves and a few of the Imladris guard led by Glorfindel were out on patrol in the Moors, life continued as normal for the other residents of Imladris. Most of the elves were busy in preparing for the Midsummer’s Feast as well as the arrival of King Thranduil in a few days time.

Yet there was one thing that Lord Elrond was going to make sure that he had taken care of before King Thranduil’s arrival.

A knock at his study door caused the Lord of Imladris to look up from his papers. “Enter,” he said.

Slowly and timidly the figure of Hantaliel entered his study. Ever since her return from Mirkwood, Elrond had kept a close watch on her. He knew what she had done and said about Elin in Mirkwood, as well as her attempt to seduce Prince Legolas and several other Mirkwood elves once they had arrive in Imladris. He knew that he could not send her to Lórien, since she had been banned from there already and he did not dare ask King Thranduil to take her.

That only left one suggestion.

“I hope that you know why I have summoned you?” he asked.

Hantaliel slowly nodded.

“Good. Now with all that you have done from speaking ill of one of the members of my family to trying to seduce several Mirkwood elves, I think it best that you leave Imladris.”

“But where am I to go my Lord?”

“A ship is sailing in a few days time for the Undying Lands. There is a place for you on that ship. Hopefully you will find happiness with the rest of our kin there.”

“Hopefully,” she softly said as she turned and left Lord Elrond’s study.


 

There had been several times that King Thranduil had traveled to the hidden valley of Imladris during his lifetime. Usually it had been to discuss elvish matters with Lord Elrond – never to retrieve members of his own guard as well as his son.

How things had changed.

Perhaps his son’s feelings towards the human daughter of Lord Elrond would have changed as well during this extra time that they would have been able to spend together. Even that was wishful thinking on his part. Thranduil knew how stubborn and hardheaded his youngest son could be. When Legolas set his mind on something, his almost always succeeded.

Upon his arrival in Imladris, Lord Elrond and Legolas greeted Thranduil and the others who had traveled from Mirkwood. Almost immediately, Thranduil could sense a difference in the way that his son was carrying himself. Not with more confidence but with more self-worth. He silently wondered if this was because of the daughter of Lord Elrond. He felt it best to keep his suspicions to himself for the time being.

Over the next few days leading up to the Midsummer’s Feast, which would be the final event before the Mirkwood delegation was set to depart, Thranduil made more and more mental notes about his son’s behavior. Legolas was attentive and dutiful during the training sessions, yet as soon as the training for the day was over, Legolas seemed to almost disappear from wherever rest of the Mirkwood delegation would have gathered to relax for the remainder of the day. The king did not question this; he simply filed it away. He also never question his son about what he was doing or where he was going – for he did not want to seem too overbearing outside of Mirkwood since he was a guest in Imladris. Yet he had his suspicions about where Legolas was going and who he was spending all his time with. And those suspicions were confirmed on the night of the Midsummer’s Feast when Legolas escorted Elin to the festivities.

While he had given his tentative blessing on their relationship, Thranduil was still hesitant about his youngest son wanting to pursue this path in life. Perhaps he needed to get a better feel for what Legolas’ true intentions were.

Besides, if a human could bring about such happiness and self worth in his son, he could only imagine what that future could hold.

“I have never seen you this happy before, ion nin,” Thranduil said as he moved to stand next to Legolas as they watched Elrond and Elin dance during the feast.

“She makes me happy.”

“And is she your match?”

“I believe she is, ada,” Legolas said turning to look at his father. “Yet I do not want to rush things with her.”

“How long are you intending on waiting until you pledge yourself to her?”

“Until her coming of age celebrations in a little over a years time. Then married the next.”

“Does she know any of this?”

Legolas shook his head no as he turned his attention back towards Elin, who was still gracefully dancing with her father. “Soon though.”

“Seeing the difference that she has already brought about in you, I do not dare separate the two of you for so long. Perhaps you should take leave of Mirkwood for a bit to expand your horizons further as its prince. Serve as an ambassador of sorts. Then return home once you have either a new princess or princess to be.”

Legolas turned to look at his father with a bit of confusion splashed across his face. Had his father just suggested that he stay back in Imladris with Elin until he marries her? Surely not. Or had he?

Sensing his son’s puzzlement, Thranduil assured him that he was telling the truth. “Go enjoy the night and I will work out the details with Lord Elrond.”

Legolas smiled and nodded as he moved away from his father. Thranduil watched as Legolas took Elin’s outstretched hand and pulled her deep into the throng of the other elves of Imladris who were busy celebrating the Midsummer’s Feast.

Thranduil hated to admit it but his eldest son had been right. Legolas simply needed someone to love him for him.


 

“So you are not leaving?” Elin asked with a huge smile on her face.

“Hopefully not,” Legolas said holding her close as they danced towards the end of the night. “Adar is going to talk with your ada about all the details.”

Elin simply snuggled closer to Legolas and wrapped herself in his warm embrace. She had never been as happy as she was at that moment. She had been dreading the next day for several days now – thinking for so long that she was going to have to say goodbye for who knows how long. Yet now that was not going to be that case.

Now they were going to be together.

“Legolas, there’s something I need to tell you,” she whispered as she lay her head against his chest.

“What’s that?” he asked looking down at her.

“Amin liy llie,” she softly said looking up at him.

Without saying anything, Legolas softly kissed her lips. Pulling back from her for a moment, he returned her sentiment as well. “Amin liy llie, meleth nin.”

Yes, for now, life was perfect.

Chapter Text

Legolas smiled as he stood in the doorway of the stable and watched Elin brush down Argo as she hummed a song that only she knew to herself. In the year and a half that he had been able to spend with her in Imladris, he had learned more about the human that he had fallen in love with.

Not only was she smart and whose beauty could rival any maiden – either human or elf, she also had a heart of gold. No matter who it was, may it be human or elf, if she could heal or help them in any way possible she would. Legolas figured that she had learned this trait from Lord Elrond.

Yes there had been times when Legolas had to leave Imladris for a few days to travel the countryside as his father’s ambassador. But those times were few and far between. Yet each time he did leave, Elin always greeted him on his arrival back in Imladris. Her smile simply made his world brighter. It was what kept him going when they were apart.

“And what shall we do today?” he asked, moving behind her and wrapping his arms around her slender waist as she finished brushing down Argo.

“We do have to get ready for everyone’s arrivals later,” she reminded him as she turned around in his arms. “I believe that there is a White Council meeting today then your father arrives later tonight.”

“Then the celebrations for you and Estel tomorrow, along with our betrothal ceremony” Legolas added.

Elin sighed and adverted her eyes as she moved to lay her head against Legolas’ chest. She hated big ordeals. Yet she knew that this was a big ordeal for humans – coming of age celebrations. And it was going to be even bigger since she and Legolas were also going to have their betrothal ceremony as well.

She would never forget when Legolas had asked her to become his wife a few weeks ago. He had planned out the entire afternoon just for them. He packed a picnic and took her to a picturesque waterfall not far from Imladris where they had gone several times before. Shortly before they left that afternoon, Legolas had been holding Elin in his arms when he whispered into her ear “marry me?” and tearfully, she had accepted. On the way back to Imladris, Legolas told Elin how he had been planning on how he was going to ask her before her coming of age celebrations so that they could also have their betrothal ceremony then as well. And while the issue of her aging still bothered her, as long as it did not to Legolas, then she would live with it.

“Do we really have to wait a year to be married?” she asked glancing up at Legolas from beneath her eyelashes.

While having Elin look at him like that did have him feeling the heat surge through his body, Legolas knew that doing things right by the Valar was the best. “Unfortunately, we do. But it is only a year. And I promise it will be worth the wait,” he said leaning down and kissing her lips deeply.


 

“Sauron has been driven out of Dol Guldur, there is no need for any more worry.” Saurman said standing as the White Council met in Imladris before the twin’s coming of age celebrations. “He is no longer a threat.”

“No longer a threat! He now openly declares himself leader of Mordor!” Gandalf the Grey argued. “Darkness will soon cover all the lands of Middle Earth.”

None of the other council members said anything as they listened to the two wizards argue. Galadriel did not trust Saurman and wished that Gandalf were the council’s head. And if the forces of Sauron now occupied Mordor once again, then both Estel and Elin were both in danger – that was why Elrond said nothing. If Sauron knew that the heir to the throne of Gondor was alive, then he would send his dark forces after the twins.

“I will hear of no more of this foolishness!” Saurman said as he stood up from the table and left the meeting. Gandalf sat back and sighed in defeat. What had become of his old friend?

“Mithrandir, worry not,” Galadriel softly said. “There may be hope yet for Middle Earth’s salvation.”

“What do you mean?”

“The throne of Gondor will have a king on it once again.” Elrond said with confidence. “I am certain of it. The heir of Isildur has been found.”


 

“Why always blue?” Estel asked as he escorted his sister to the dais that was just outside of Lord Elrond’s library.  Elin was dressed in flowing light blue dress that had been made by their mother specifically for this day.

“Because it reminds me of Legolas’ eyes,” she said with a smile on her face.

Estel simply shook his head for a moment and returned her smile. While he had his doubts about his sister’s relationship with the elven prince at first, the more that he watched them together, the more that he knew that they were meant to be together. Besides he did make Legolas aware of the fact that if the Mirkwood Prince ever upset his sister, then there would be consequences and Legolas’ response had simply been that he would die before he would ever hurt Elin in any way. That had satisfied Estel. Hopefully he would never have to make an example of Legolas for his sister’s behalf. But he was pretty sure that he was not going to.

“So do you know why we are being summoned to ada’s library?” Estel asked as they walked down the corridor.

Elin shook her head no. In fact, she had been wondering the same thing. Neither twin said anything as they entered the quiet library and found their ada waiting for them just inside the door.

“Perfect,” Elrond said. “We were beginning to wonder when the two of you would arrive.”

‘We?’  Estel and Elin both thought to themselves as they were led onto the dais. There they were met with a surprise. Sitting in a semi-circle were Lady Galadriel, Lord Celeborn, King Thranduil, their mother and even Legolas was there as well, along with Elladan and Elrohir. Elrond motioned to two chairs in the center of the circle for Estel and Elin to sit in.

Elin sat in the empty one next to Legolas who reached out and took ahold of her hand. He squeezed it gently before placing a kiss upon it. Elin smiled at him before turning her attention back to her ada who had begun to speak.

“Since you both are now of age, it is only right that you both know of your true heritage.” Elrond said as he stood before the twins.

Estel and Elin looked at each other with confusion splashed upon their faces before turning to look at their mother then at their ada. “What is going on?” Estel finally asked.

“As you both know, your father was killed by orcs when you both were three years of age,” Elrond said continuing. The twins nodded in agreement. “Yet the part about your mother being brought here by her kin is a lie.”

“What?” Elin asked taken back a bit. “A lie?”

“For your protection,” Gilraen added. “If others found out who you both were then it would be dangerous.”

“What really happened then?” Elin asked, still pressing for answers.

“Elrohir and myself found the two of you and your mother while we were out on patrol in the valley. We had already killed several orcs and a warg rider. The two of you were safe but scared, yet your mother was very sick and we brought all of you here to ada.” Elladan explained.

“Where I discovered the truth about who the two of you were. It did explain why the orcs had been chasing after all of you.” Elrond said, finishing the story.

“Who are we then mother?” Estel asked turning to look at his mother. He had to know who he was and where her and Elin came from. It was only right. 

“Your real name is Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the nine and thirtieth heir in the right line from Isildur. The rightful ruler of the Kingdom of Gondor.” Gilraen said without hesitation. She then turned to look at her daughter. “And your real name is Aria. Your names were changed to protect you from those who would have wanted to harm you.”

“And who would want to harm us?” Elin asked, still unsure about what was going on. It was going to take sometime to get used to her real name.

“Those who would want Isildur’s line completely ended for one,” Gilraen said, trying to placate her children. “Then there are those who serve the forces of darkness such as the orcs and the warg riders…”

Fed up with the lies and deceit that he and his sister had been told for most of their lives, Aragorn cut his mother’s sentence short as he stood up and yelled at his mother. “How could you keep something like this from us! From your own children!”

“Please son, calm down,” Gilraen gently said to him.

“There is nothing to calm down about! How are we just supposed to start going by our true names now? Is there suddenly no longer any threat?” he yelled, still full of resentment.

“No there is. That is why we have told you the truth ion nin. My metal smiths can reforge Narsil.” Elrond said, trying to soothe Aragorn. “Then you can assume your rightful place on the throne of Gondor.”

Aragorn turned and watched as his ada uncovered several broken pieces of a sword that had been resting on a table near to where he was standing. He had seen this same sword several times in his ada’s study. He had never dreamed that it would one day be handed down to him.

“I do not know what I want,” Aragorn said turning away from his mother and adopted father. He turned his focus to his sister, who sat quietly in her chair with her head hung down. His eyes then focused on Legolas who sat next to her. It was obvious that the Mirkwood prince was trying to take in everything that he was hearing as well. He knew that Legolas would help his sister get through this sudden upheaval in their lives, but he wanted to make sure that everything was fine as well.

“Aria?” he asked, kneeling next to her. He placed a hand gently against her cheek as wet tears gently splashed on to his hand.

She jerked her head away from him. “That’s not my name. That’s not who I am!”

Aragorn pulled her tightly into a hug as he stood up with her still in his arms. “A name change doesn’t change who you are,” he whispered to her. “Nor does it to me. I am still your brother.”

“What about if you become king? Then who will I be? Just one of your humble subjects?” she snapped at him as she pulled out of his hug. Tears were streaming down her face now. “What am I supposed to do now? Change my entire life?”

“Not exactly,” Lady Galadriel calmly said as she stood up behind Aria. “While you might think of this as all negatives, there are many more positives to this.”

Aria turned and looked at the older elf, who she had grown to consider a grandmother in many ways. “How?” she softly asked.

“For one your blood line. You worry about growing old once you and Prince Legolas marry, while he stays young forever. Yet the line of the King of Gondor are Dúnedain. Therefore they age much slower,” Galadriel said as she brushed a loose strain of hair out of Aria’s face.

Tears began to rim Aria’s eyes once again as she looked from Galadriel to Legolas who was still sitting down then back to Galadriel. Yet the Lady of Lórien was not finished.

“Secondly, because of your bloodline being that of Dúnedain, that also means that there is elvish blood deep within your veins. You can choose who to be counted among – men or elves. Yet if you choose the latter, your choice is not permanent until you have bound yourself to a full blood elf. Which should not be hard,” the Lady of Lórien said with a smile on her face.

Without saying a word, Aria turned and fled from the dais. She was too overwhelmed at the moment and simply wanted to be alone. Besides, she needed to wrap her head around everything that she had just been told. Too much was happening at once and she needed to figure out what it all meant.

 Aragorn went to go after her, but Elrond and his mother stopped him.

“Let her be,” Gilraen said.

Aragorn did as he was told, but that did not stop Legolas from slipping out to go find Aria. He needed to make sure that everything was all right. He could tell by the look on her face that she had been overwhelmed by all the new information, in fact so was he.

Yet the biggest thing that stood out to him was what Lady Galadriel had said – Aria could choose to be counted among the elves.

That meant they could be together forever. And that was all that he wanted.


 

Within a matter of minutes, Legolas had found where Aria had gone. It really was not much of a surprise that she was in the first place that he looked – she was sitting near the river in their favorite spot to sneak away to for a quiet afternoon of just being together.

As Legolas approached her, he could tell that she was crying. Her legs were pulled up close to her body and she lay with her head against her knees, sobbing. He quietly sat down next to her under the shade of the tree and pulled her close to him. Nothing was said, instead she continued to sob against his shoulder and into his chest.

“You know that this changes nothing,” he softly said.

She lifted her tear-stained face off his shoulder and looked at him. “Yes it does. I am a fraud! I am not who I was told I was. I was lied to – therefore I lied to you as well.”

“It was for your protection. And it is only your name. Whether you go by Elin or Aria, I will still love you for all of time,” he said placing a hand against her warm cheek. A small smile slowly appeared and made its way across her face as her tears dried.

“At least not everything was bad that Est…I mean Aragorn and I were told.”

Legolas could not help but smile. “So what is your decision going to be? Be counted among the men or elves?”

“What do you think?”

Leaning close to her, Legolas’ lips quickly found hers as he kissed her deeply, pouring in his love and devotion to her in a single kiss. He heard her breath hitch as he felt her body relax against him. He knew that he had been successful in calming his future wife down. “Amin liy llie, meleth nin,” he whispered against her lips before kissing her once again.

“Amin liy llie,” she responded once they had finally broken their kiss. 

Legolas smiled as he held out his hand to her, palm opened. Looking down she saw two silver rings – one larger than the other. “I know that you do not want to make a big deal of our betrothal. So I thought that we should exchange rings privately and then we can declare our intentions to everyone tonight.”

She returned his smile as she took the larger of the two rings from Legolas’ hand. She watched as Legolas took hers in his other hand then he took ahold of her right hand and slipped the silver ring around her forefinger. When Legolas was finished, she took ahold of his right hand and did the same. Once she had put his ring around his finger, she looked back up at him. “One year?” she questioned.

“One year,” he replied leaning forward and gently kissing her lips.

An immense amount of tension seemed to be taken away. She sighed happily before moving closer to Legolas and laying her head against his shoulder. They sat in silence for a few minutes – both of them thinking about the year ahead.

“Just one question,” Legolas said asking as he broke the silence between them as he intertwined his fingers with hers, crossing their new silver rings. “Which name should I call you now? Elin or Aria?”

“Aria. Is that alright?”

“Of course it is. Just remember though, you will always be my star,” he said, as he pressed a kiss into her hair. “For all eternity…”

Aria smiled as she looked up at her future husband. While all the events of the day had been overwhelming, she could not believe all that she had been told – especially the fact that she had a choice in her destiny.

Be counted among the race of men and grow old.

Or stay young and spend forever with Legolas.

There was no doubt which choice she was going to make. Long ago her ada had told her that the future was always changing…always in motion and that the Valar had seen fit to allow her and Legolas to spend eternity together. Perhaps she should not doubt her visions either – she had seen her and Legolas together, sailing on a ship of sorts.

Perhaps her heart had known all along that she and Legolas would be allowed to be together. Maybe she should listen to it more often.

“Come on,” Legolas said, swiftly and easily standing up with her in his arms. “We better head back to the celebration.”

“That sounds wonderful,” she said wrapping her arms around his neck as Legolas carried her bridal style back towards Imladris.


 

Gilraen had seen her children interact with elves on a daily basis, but never like this. Prior to the celebration, Aragorn’s demeanor had been horrible. But now he was practically giddy.

Then there was Aria. She had not been seen since she had fled the dais earlier that afternoon. It was not much of a surprise that she had arrived to the celebration on the arm of Legolas. It was a surprise about the smile that she wore on her face, as did the prince. She also took notice of their new silver rings that they each wore on their forefingers.

No wonder her daughter was happy. They had pledged themselves to each other in private.

It was about time.

Shortly after their arrival at the coming of age celebrations, Legolas and Aria both stood at the front of the garden, where the celebration was held. They stood hand in hand as all of the attention was suddenly on them.

Ai odhron adh odhril! Ai muindyr a muinthil! Ai meldir a meldis! Go-vestatham na veth min în!” they said together.

All around them, cheers and shouts of well wishes could be heard. And Gilraen could only see Aria’s smile grown larger.

Good. Her daughter deserved all the happiness in the world. And there was no doubt in her mind that her daughter was going to choose to be counted among the elves. That did not bother her at all since she knew that Aria had been weary about her relationship with the Mirkwood prince due to her aging. And now that was no longer an issue. 

As for her son, Gilraen spent most of the night trying to figure out what had made him so giddy. Finally she noticed that Aragorn would sneak glances towards Arwen, Lord Elrond’s daughter who had just returned from Lórien with her grandparents. And she in return would sneak a smile back. Now this would be a problem. Lord Elrond would be hard to convince to allow his only daughter to marry a mortal.

She would have to talk to her son about this.

 

Chapter Text

Legolas gently brushed the loose hair out of Aria’s face before leaning close and kissing her deeply on the lips. As he pulled away from her, he gently thumbed away the tears that slowly ran down her cheeks. “It is only going to be for a few months, meleth nin,” he whispered. “Then you will arrive in Mirkwood with your family and we will be married.”

Aria nodded as she leaned into Legolas’ touch before leaning up and capturing him in another kiss. While she had known that this was inevitable, she did not want Legolas to return to Mirkwood without her. Yet like he said – it was only for a few months.

Besides it was not like she did not have plans for her remaining months in Imladris. Shortly after their coming of age celebrations, Aragorn felt that he needed to get away from the hidden valley and seek his rightful place in the world. Therefore he accepted his place as chieftain of the Dúnedain of the North and became a Ranger as well. Joining him were Elladan and Elrohir, who had no problem in hunting orcs. They had long despised orcs for the torment that they had inflicted upon their mother, Celebrían, so long ago. Elrond had not stopped his sons from leaving Imladris, but had requested that they protect Aragorn from harm they best that they could.

And now the twins were going to have to add Aria to their protection detail.

She was going to join them in the wilds for a few months until she left for Mirkwood.

Legolas was weary about her decision, but she promised that she was going to be staying at a cottage in Bree where she would tend to the wounds of the townsfolk as well as the Northern Rangers. She also promised to never go into harm’s way. As long as she was doing only healing, then Legolas could live with it.

Thankfully it would only be for a few months. What could happen in that amount of time anyways?


 

“Quickly! Over here!” Aria instructed to the men who carried the wounded Ranger into the cottage just outside of Bree. The Rangers set their wounded companion on the bed that Aria had prepared for them as she quickly set to tending to the wounds of the Ranger.

“Another orc attack?” she asked.

“Unfortunately my lady,” one of the Rangers answered. “We were to bring him to you then join up with the rest of the Rangers.”

“Understandable.” Aria said with a smile. “Please inform my brother that if there are more orc attacks that I will need Elladan and Elrohir’s help in healing.”

The two uninjured Rangers acknowledged her message before bidding Aria farewell as she attended to their fallen companion.

“What’s your name?” she asked, as she gently cleaned out the gash on his leg first.

“Halbarad,” he said through gritted teeth.

“Well I’m not going to lie to you Halbarad, you are in for a long night,” she said. “But I do have a sleeping draught that should help take some of the pain off.”


 

A loud thud followed by muffled yells and screams, awoke Halbarad from his daze of dreamless sleep that he had been in. A sudden jolt of pain shot through his leg and both arms as he moved to try and get up to see what was going on as another scream penetrated the darkness of the night.

He could swear that it was Aria who was screaming from the front room. He knew that it was the middle of the night and no where close to sunrise since the candle had long since burned out. The more screams he heard, the more he fought through the pain to see what was going on.

Slowly and painfully, he got to his feet and moved towards the door and opened it. A rush of cool night air greeted him. Allowing his eyes to fully adjust to the faint light of the moon, he could make out that the front door had been smashed in and several other things had been broken in the small main room of the cottage. “Aria?” he called out.

No response.

He slowly made his way to the smashed door. Off in the distance he could see several figures riding away on horse back with screams fading away in the distance.

Aria.

He had been right. The screams had been from her.

He had to get to Aragorn and let him know what happened.

Slowly making his way to the side of the house where Aria had her horse stabled, Halbarad managed to get onto the stead and rode off into the night towards the Rangers camp. He prayed to Valar that he wasn’t too late and that he didn’t pass out from the pain that he was in.


 

“Aragorn! Aragorn! Come quickly!” Elrohir cried out awaking most of the sleeping camp.

It was the early morning hour when Aragorn was awoken by his elf brother. Typically the Rangers did not camp together since the job was a solitary ordeal. But with the recent uptake in orc attacks, it was better safe than sorry.

“What is it?” he asked sitting up and looking around a bit dazed. He tried to shake the sleep from his head.

“It’s Halbarad! He’s returned!”

Aragorn was fully awake now. Aria never sent a Ranger back into the field until they were completely healed. Even he knew how severe Halbarad’s injuries had been – if neither he nor the twins could treat him in the field, he would be sent to Aria. Which was what had happened.

Standing up, he followed Elrohir to where Elladan had Halbarad settled down.

“Now tell us what happened to our sister?” Elladan calmly asked, obviously using some sort of elvish calming technique.

The trio listened to Halbarad’s account of the previous night’s events and the mysterious disappearance of Aria.

“There had been those disappearances along the Great East Road and as far south as the North-South Road. All young women.” Elrohir said, trying to put everything that had been relayed to them together.

“But this is our sister!” Elladan said.

Both of them turned to look at Aragorn, waiting for him to say something. Neither of them were prepared for the look on his face – a look of determination that had never been on his face before had suddenly appeared. “Elrohir, ride to Imladris and tell Ada what has happened. Perhaps he has seen something or can even send some trackers out searching. Elladan, ride to the Halls of Mirkwood and find Legolas and see if you can convince King Thranduil to help in our search for Aria and the other missing young women. I will inform the others of our new situation. We will meet in Imladris in one month no matter what.”

The twins nodded in agreement and immediately left.

“We’re coming for you, Aria…” Aragorn whispered to himself.


 

A sudden sense of dread coursed through his body as he sat up straight in bed. It took him a moment to catch his breath and to calm his pounding heart. All that Legolas had seen in his dream was Aria surrounded by darkness then she was suddenly snatched away.

Had something happened to his beloved?

Was she in danger?

They had been apart less than a month and while Legolas counted down the days until she would return to him in Mirkwood to become his wife, he had never had a feeling such as this.

Something was definitely wrong.

Yet how would he be able to find out what?

Chapter Text

Aria brought her knees up to her chest and clung to them tightly as pain shot through every part of her body. Sobs racked against her bruised and aching chest. She laid her head against the dirt covered stone floor and quietly sobbed. Her clothes had been torn to rags, which now barely clung to her even thinner frame. Her hair was matted and full of dirt.

She had no idea how long she had been held captive. Had it been days? Weeks? Months? Essentially she had given up on everything.

Including love…

Another thing that she was dealing with was the fact that she had been defiled in the most inhuman way possible. There was no way that anyone would want to be with her now, even more so a prince. She didn’t know what hurt more – being raped or the thoughts of loosing Legolas…

“You’ll get used to it in time,” a voice said in the shadows moving closer to her.

She sniffled as she looked up in the darkness towards the voice as another thin figure slowly emerged. “Excuse me?” she asked. “What do you mean?”

“You’re not the only one this has happened to,” a young woman, who looked to be about her age said, coming into focus in the darkness. “They are just preparing us for our new masters. Or that’s what I’ve been told from the others who have already gone before us.”

“Already gone?”

The young woman nodded. “The other day before you came.”

“So where are we?”

“I don’t know. The others just told me to tell the new girls what they told me and to pass it on in case one of us can escape.”

“My name is Aria. What’s yours?” she asked as she sat up. Having someone else with her, seemed to calm her down a bit.

“Mara. I come from the Kingdom of Gondor.”

“I live in Bree, in the north.” Aria replied, not wanting to give up too much about herself.

The two girls softly talked, trying to ease their fears and anxiety about what the future held for both of them.

As they did, Aria twisted the grungy silver ring that sat upon her right forefinger. The only thing that she longed for at the moment was to be held in Legolas’ protective embrace. Thankfully these abhorrent men had not taken her one link to him. And that gave her hope.

 


Over the next few days – or that is at least how long Aria thought that it had been - two more girls had been added to the damp, dark cell that Mara and Aria shared – Lisbeth and Belen, both from the Kingdom of Rhovanion. Both of them were younger then Mara and Aria were. And both were beginning to be treated worse than either of the older girls had been.

When Aria witnessed one of the men beating Belen, something in her snapped. She knew that she had to protect the younger ones the best that she could.

“Please take me instead!” Aria had insisted several times, trying to give the smaller girls a chance to allow their bodies to recover a bit from the abuse that they were enduring.

It had worked for a while, but eventually it led to several beatings for Aria. The men did not like to be kept from what they thought should be theirs.

Each time that the vile men put their hands on her in any way, Aria simply wanted to curl up and die. How could anyone treat another human in the way that these men were treating her and the other girls?

 


 

“Move it!” one of the men said as he forced Aria and the others out of their dingy cell and outside for the first time in what seemed like weeks. Wincing at the brightness, Aria squinted as she allowed her body to adjust to the sunlight. Slowly she opened her eyes wider and wider. She finally saw where she and the others were being led to – a covered wagon to take them to wherever their new “masters” were. Quickly glancing around, Aria tried to take in any signs of where she was. Nothing she recognized except something far in the distance, just to the southeast of where they were.

Erebor.

The Lonely Mountain of the Dwarfs.

She now knew approximately where she was – somewhere in between the Grey Mountains and Mirkwood. She knew that she was hurt, but she had to try to escape and take the others with her. She was so close to Mirkwood – so close to Legolas. She only had to get close to the Woodland Guard. Then they would protect her and the others. That was all it would take.

Most of the other men who had been wherever they were being held hostage had apparently left to go kidnap more girls. That left only two men that were going to transport her and the other girls to their final destination. And she’d ben damned if she’d let that happen.

If she ever wanted to see her family again, see Legolas again, see home again then she would muster up the strength to do this.

The two youngest girls and Mara walked in front of her, slowly due to their injures while she brought up the rear. One man led the way, while the other walked to her left. The man on her left wore a knife loose in his belt.

Without hesitation, Aria lunged for his belt, grabbing for the knife before plunging it deep into his throat then rolled off of him. Before the other guard could do anything, Aria clumsily lunged at him and plunged the knife deep into his gut, moving it to one side so that it made an even bigger cut. Yet he still managed to swipe her with his own knife, slicing open her side.

“Quickly into the wagon!” she ordered, wincing in pain as she walked.

The two youngest climbed into the back, while Mara climbed onto the top to drive. Aria had tried to climb to the top, but a deep gash in her side prevented her from doing so.

“Tell me where to go and what to do. Then rest.” Mara said, quickly helping her into the back, where the two younger girls made her comfortable.

“Go to the west then go south. Seek the elves. Do not stop for anyone.”

Mara nodded, as she made sure everyone was secure before leaving the hell that they had all known far behind them.

As they rode, Aria cringed in pain. The wound to her side was refusing to stop bleeding. She was already weak. If she lost any more blood, she wasn’t sure what would happen. She closed her eyes and tried to rest as she felt weaker and weaker.

“Farewell meleth nin,” she whispered knowing that Legolas would never hear her mutter the words.

“Mara! Hurry! Aria is getting worse!” Lisbeth cried out. “She’s speaking in other tongues!”

 


 

“You will be no good to anyone without some rest!” Laurian said forcing his brother to lie down on his bedroll for a little while longer. “We have ridden for three days, searching every cave and crevice looking for Aria. We have already covered a vast majority of Rhovanion.”

Legolas sighed and listened to his brother. He knew that the sun would not rise for a few more hours and it was all but pointless to search in the darkness.

When word had reached Mirkwood about Aria’s kidnapping, he immediately set out with his brother to search while his father sent out trackers as well. So while he and his kin were searching the Kingdom of Rhovanion, Aragorn and the Rangers along with some elves from Imladris would search the Kingdom of Andor.

It had been two weeks since he had found out about Aria, and every day that went by without Aria back safely in his arms, he was loosing hope. And there was no telling just how long that she had been kidnaped prior to that. He only hoped that nothing dreadful had become of his future wife.

“Fine, a few hours will not hurt. But at first light, we ride again.” Legolas said settling down and falling into another restless night of sleep, just like all the other nights had been. The only thing he saw when he slept were visions of Aria vanishing from his grasp.

“Farewell meleth nin,” she whispered to him in one of his visions as images flew past him, most of which he had never seen. Except for one.

Erebor.

Legolas sat straight up. “Wake up Laurian! I think I know where Aria is!”

 


Two days they rode towards the west and then to the south as Aria directed. Sometimes it felt like it was in circles; sometimes it felt like they would never find an elf anywhere. Aria was in and out of consciousness. Thankfully there were wild berries in the forest for them to eat so that they didn’t starve. Nights were the worst because all Lisbeth and Belen were scared to go to sleep, while Mara was too worn out from the day of riding to stay up with them. And of course, Aria was far too weak to do so. Instead, they just kept on moving.

A bit into their third day, Mara saw something large moving fast towards them. “Girls, stay quiet!” she hissed behind her. Belen and Lisbeth had been telling Aria a story to try and keep her conscious. The girls immediately went silent.

Mara watched as the large creature reared up on its hindquarters and let out a ferocious growl. It was a monstrous bear.

“Beorn?” came a soft whisper from the back of the wagon.

Suddenly there was movement from behind Mara along with a clamor as Aria sluggishly made her way out of the wagon. Belen and Lisbeth tried to stop her, but were too scared of the creature that had let out the growl.

The girls watched in horror as Aria approached the bear, who was still reared up on its hindquarters.

“Beorn…” she said pleadingly to the bear, as tears began to swell in her eyes. “Help us…”

Aria fell first to her knees then landed with a thud against the ground. Mara and the others were still paralyzed with fear, did not know what to do.

Yet to everyone’s shock, the giant bear let out one more growl, before staggering forward. They watched as the bear was replaced with a tall, strong man. The man tenderly picked up Aria’s limp body and carried her back to the wagon. He moved past Belen and Lisbeth who stood to the side, as well as Mara who was still sitting atop the wagon as he carefully placed Aria in the back of the wagon.

“You seek the wood elves?” he then asked Mara.

“Y…es…” she managed to stumble out. “Aria told us to.”

“You are close to the Forest Gate, but she will not make it to Thranduil’s Halls. Come, I will help you. Just follow me.”

The trio of girls looked at each other before giving in. What could go wrong?

 

Chapter Text

“Is she going to be alright?” Belen gently asked as she watched Beorn tend to Aria’s wounds. She and the others had arrived at Beorn’s cottage shortly before nightfall after following the tall figure of a man back to his home.

“These will serve her well enough until she can arrive at the Halls of Mirkwood. I sent out one of my dogs to King Thranduil’s halls to bring aid.”

“But she is not an elf,” Lisbeth said.

“That is not my story young one,” Beorn said turning his attention to the other girls. “But hers. Now let me tend to the injuries the three of you have before I find us some supper.”

 


 

Beorn’s dog did not have to travel very far into the woods. Legolas and Laurian had been riding in the direction that the dog had been coming from. As soon as the three met, the dog conveyed the message to the woodland princes, who requested that the dog continue on his way to Mirkwood and inform their father that Aria had been found but is injured.

Once they parted, Legolas rode with even more speed as he and Laurian made their way in the darkness towards Beorn’s cottage on the western part of Mirkwood Forest. It was well into the early morning hours when they arrived. Only the light from a single candle burned inside the cottage.

“Are you sure you do not want to wait a few more hours so that she can sleep a little while longer?” Laurian asked as they approached the oversized wooden door.

“If it was Talia, would you wait?”

Laurian sighed. He knew that Legolas was right.

With a quick, but soft knock on the door, the elven princes did not have to wait long before the door was opened and Beorn greeted them. “I am not surprised,” he said letting Legolas and Laurian in. “She’s over there,” he said point to his oversized bed where Aria lay sleeping on one of the edges with three other girls next to her.

Immediately, Legolas was by her side. Finally he could sigh in relief that Aria was found and as far as he could tell she was unharmed. He gently ran a finger along her dirt-crusted cheek as she continued to sleep. He hoped that nothing serious had been befallen her during her ordeal. Yet something deep inside was telling him otherwise.

Off to the side, Laurian and Beorn watched. “What of their injuries?” Laurian asked in a hushed whisper.

“Lady Aria suffered a deep wound to her side along with several other bruises. I cleaned it the best I could but she needs to be taken to Mirkwood’s healers quickly. As for the others, just bruises. Yet none of them would tell me what had exactly happened to them.”

Before Laurian could get in a response, one of the younger girls began to toss and turn in the bed before screaming out in her sleep from a nightmare. “All of them have done that at various times throughout the night,” Beorn added.

Laurian sighed. Hopefully Aria would reveal to Legolas what happened. “We will leave for Mirkwood once they all awake in the morning.”

 


 

For the rest of the night, Legolas kept a vigil over Aria and the other girls. The younger girls were the main ones who were crying out in their sleep from nightmares, while Aria and the older girl had little fits in their sleep here and there but nothing too big.

While the other girls’ well being did concern Legolas, his main focus was on Aria. He had to hold back from wanting to crawl into bed with Aria and hold her close to him while she slept – just so he knew that she would not disappear from his grasp and that this was not all some dream. But he did not.

Instead he sat dutifully by her side until she woke up.  

“Please….please stop…” Aria whimpered from her sleep shortly after the sun rose. Legolas moved closer to his betrothed.

“Meleth nin,” he whispered. “You are safe now.”

Legolas watched as Aria’s eyes opened and adjusted to the morning light. It took her a moment to realize that she was not only safe, but that Legolas was sitting next to her. “Legolas?” she asked in confusion.

He nodded.

“I knew you would find me,” she said in a soft whisper as tears began to rim her eyes. Legolas placed a hand against her cheek as he leaned forward and gently kissed her lips.

“Always,” he answered. “Yet we must get you to Mirkwood’s healers. Will you be able to ride on your own?”

She shook her head no. “I still feel weak.”

“What if you rode with me?”

“I can try that.”

  Pulling back the covers on the bed, Legolas gently gathered Aria from her lying position on the bed and into his arms. He was careful to avoid the injury to her side that Laurian had told him about a few hours ago. Aria curled tightly against Legolas’ chest as he carried her towards the front door that was opened since Beorn and Laurian had gone out to prepare the horses, but a voice stopped him.

“Where are you taking her?”

Legolas turned back around and looked at the bed where he had just picked up Aria. Sitting up was one of the younger girls who had been lying next to Aria.

“I’m taking her to the Halls of Mirkwood. She needs immediate attention,” he said. “My brother will lead you and your friends there. Once you have arrived, our healers will take care of you then you can tell King Thranduil what happened.”

“Will we be in trouble?” Lisbeth asked. “Aria killed someone.”

“No little one. Far from it.” Legolas assured her, as Aria looked up and smiled.

“I’ll be fine. Do not worry,” she said before Legolas turned around and carried her outside where Laurian and Beorn were waiting. He walked towards his brother who took Aria from him so that he could mount his horse.

“Be safe,” Laurian said, handing Aria’s frail body to Legolas. She had always been petite but this was ridiculous. Legolas adjusted his grip around her, so that he didn’t injure her any more than she already was and also so that he could ride fast.

“I will be.”

Legolas willed his horse into a run through the forest towards his father’s halls. Aria moaned slightly and curled up close to him as they rode. “I know it hurts. But soon all the pain will be gone. Try to rest,” he whispered, kissing her forehead. “Amin liy llie, Aria. Just know that.”

She gently smiled as she fell into a restless sleep as he led them to safety.

Chapter Text

Ever since the arrival of one of Beorn’s dogs at his halls, King Thranduil had done nothing but pace in the Great Hall.

Aria was injured.

Thankfully his sons were going to retrieve her from Beorn.

And he had no idea what the dog had meant about other girls with Aria. Had other girls been kidnapped as well?

During his time pacing and worrying about what was exactly going on, he did send a rider to Imladris to let Lord Elrond know that his daughter had been found and would be at Mirkwood. Now he could only wait and wonder when his sons would arrive back with Aria and these other girls.

Someone stepping onto the dais, brought him out of his thoughts. He turned quickly and saw Enol standing at the edge of the dais.

“Legolas just arrived with Aria. He took her immediately to the Halls of Healing.” Enol said.

“What of Laurian?”

“Legolas said that he would arrive later with the other girls. Aria’s injuries were the worse and needed immediate attention.”

Thranduil sat down on his throne. “Have the head healer report to me once the other girls arrive. I want to know everything that happened to them.”

Enol nodded in understanding before he turned and made his way back to the Halls of Healing.


 

Aria buried her face against Legolas’ tunic as another round of fresh tears began to roll down her cheeks. The pain from the wound to her side left her body throbbing as the healers cleaned the wound and bandaged it.

At least now she was not screaming like she had been a few minutes ago when Legolas had tried to hand her off to the healers while he waited in the hallway. Reluctantly he gave into her pleas for him not to leave her. She was too scared that this was all a nightmare and that she would wake up still a prisoner of those horrible men.

“Everything is going to be fine now,” he whispered as he held her in his arms while the healers began to treat her smaller wounds.

Then he noticed something. Aria was shaking like a leaf in his arms. What was wrong now?

He glanced up at the healers, who all had worried faces as well. What had they found out happened to her?

“What is it?” he asked.

The healers looked at each other before one of them spoke up. “My Prince, the elves do not have a word for what has happened to her. It is what men called raped…” the older female healer told him in a low voice.

Raped.

He had heard that word before and knew exactly what it meant. How could something so precious and innocent as his Elin – his Aria - be violated in such an extreme and horrific way? He was furious at what had happened to the one thing in all of Arda that he lived for. The men who had done this to her and the other girls were as low as the dwarves in his book. And that was pretty low. If Aria had not of killed these men already then he would have probably gone and finished the job himself without a second thought.

Yet he could not let his anger show for Aria’s sake. She needed him to be strong enough for both of them to make it through this.


 

It was late into the day when Laurian arrived with the other girls and Beorn. By then Thranduil had already been alerted to the fact that Aria had been violated by her captors along with her other injuries. Now what he wanted to know was whether or not the other girls had as well.

While he had not yet seen Aria or even his youngest son, Thranduil knew that Legolas was most likely sitting besides Aria’s bedside in her guest chambers where she could rest and heal. He made sure that the kitchen sent up some soup for Aria to have as well as something for Legolas. If there had been one thing that Thranduil had learned about his son and the relationship that he had with Aria, it was that there was nothing that Legolas would not do to protect Aria.

Even if that meant staying by her bedside until she was completely healed.


 “Where is Aria?” Mara asked as she, Lisbeth and Belen as settled into their room in the Halls of Healing.

The healers had decided that it might be for the best to keep them all together for the time being, especially after the incident earlier with Aria and not wanting to be parted from Legolas.

“I haven’t seen her at all.” Belen said, settling on her bed.

“What if she died?” Lisbeth asked.

A healer walked in to check and see if they needed anything else for the night before they gave each girl a sleeping draught to help them sleep – hopefully without any nightmares. “We were wondering about our friend, Aria. Where is she?” Mara asked.

“Fret not, little one. She has been healed and is now resting. You shall see her in the morning.”

Semi satisfied with the answer, the girls drank the draught and tried to get some sleep. But little came to them as well. They too were haunted by nightmares of their ordeal.


 

“Make them stop!” Aria sobbed as she curled into Legolas’ opened arms and lay against his chest later that night.

“I’m here aren’t I?” he gently asked wrapping his arms around her. He made sure that he didn’t brush against her slash wound on her side. “That is all I can do, meleth nin.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“None of this is your fault,” he replied, gently kissing her forehead. “What else would you like me to do?”

“Never let me go.”

“I never will. Now try to get some sleep. You are far too weak to be staying up. Rest is what the healers ordered. Your ada will be here soon and he would tell you the same thing,” he said, kissing her forehead once again in the dim light of her room.

“Will you hold me the rest of the night?”

Legolas smiled and nodded at her as he watched her close her eyes before she snuggled into his embrace a little more. Legolas watched in the dim moonlight as Aria finally fell in a restless sleep in his arms. It was far better than what she had been in a few minutes ago, when she had woken up screaming from nightmares – sending him scrambling from the chair that he had been sitting in onto the bed where she had curled into his protected embrace. It tore at his heart to see her like this. He had seen her upset before, even seen her injured before from a fall from Argo, her horse, but nothing like this.

As he watched her sleep in his arms, he thought about the last few hours and the tormenting experience it had been – for both him and her – from the screams of pain and not wanting to be left alone to finding out that the one he was going to bind himself to had been violated in a violent manner. Eventually, Legolas allowed himself to drift off to sleep for a few hours. He knew that even though Aria and the others were safe, it was still going to be a long few days.


 Thranduil slowly walked the halls of Mirkwood. He checked on the three young women in the Halls of Healing first. The healers had reported to him that they were all soundly sleeping after a second dosage of the sleeping draught because of nightmares that had awoken them. He figured that it was to be expected with the ordeal that they had gone through. As he peered into the room where the three girls that Laurian and Beorn had brought were sleeping, the king ran over the list of injuries that had been told to him that each girl had sustained. And they all were the same.

Beaten.

Raped.

Starved.

Those were just the physical wounds. There was no way to tell the mental traumas that had been sustained. Only time would reveal those.

After leaving the Halls of Healing, he made his way towards the bedchambers where Aria was resting. Thranduil quietly opened the door a crack and peered in. Aria was sound asleep wrapped in Legolas’ protective embrace on the bed. Part of him frowned at the idea of Legolas holding Aria in such an intimate way as they were not yet bound to each other.

Yet what could have caused his son to hold Aria like his?

Had she had a nightmare that she couldn’t escape from that caused her to seek solace in his son’s arms?

Perhaps.

Had his son just wanted to make sure that she wasn’t taken again?

Perhaps.

Whatever the case may be, the devotion that his son had shown towards this human was remarkable. Perhaps this tragedy had been what it took for him to see that.


 

Aria’s eyes slowly parted to the bright sunshine pouring into her room. It felt so warm and welcoming on her face instead of painful like it had felt the previous day. Oh how she had missed this feeling for so long. She turned her face up a bit and gently placed a soft kissed into the neck of her sleeping prince – but she knew better. Legolas turned his face towards her and smiled at her.

“I’m sorry for sleeping so long and keeping you hostage in this bed,” she said, slowly moving to sit up. Her body still ached from all her beatings and the deep slash wound to her side. Legolas had stayed with her the entire night, holding her after she woke up screaming from nightmares. Before that he had been sleeping in a chair next to her bed after he had brought her from the Halls of Healing to her bedchambers that she used when visiting Mirkwood.

“It is perfectly fine with me,” he said as he continued to lie against the pillows and look up at her with a smile on his face.

“What?” she asked returning his smile.

“I just thought that it might take longer for your smile to return,” he said, gently running his finger down the side of her arm. “That’s all.”

“You make me smile,” she replied leaning over and kissing his lips. She curled back up against his chest for a few minutes before they both knew they had to get up and prepare for the day.


 

“A meeting with the King!” Belen squealed. “I’ve heard stories about King Thranduil before but I never thought that I would get to meet him!”

Mara shook her head in disbelief at the younger girl. “Just make sure that you behave. He does understand that we all just had a bad experience. I guess that he wants to hear about it.”

“I hope we get to go home soon.” Lisbeth said as the group was led down the halls towards the Great Hall of Mirkwood. The other two agreed. The girls had been awoken that morning, given clean dresses to wear and told that the king and his family had invited them to breakfast. They had quickly made themselves presentable before being led towards the Great Hall.

After a minute or so longer, the girls were led into a room where a long table was set up with some of the most spectacular foods that they had ever smelled, let alone seen. At the far end of the table sat the two elves who had saved them yesterday, along with another female elf, another elf who was wearing a crown of some sort – they all took him to be King Thranduil. Then they all saw Aria, along with Beorn. She quickly got up from the table and made her way towards the other girls.

“Come my friends, breakfast is waiting!” she said approaching them.

She led the girls towards the table and introduced everyone. “Your majesty, this is Mara, Lisbeth and Belen. My friends this is his Highness King Thranduil of the Mirkwood Realm and his sons Laurian and Legolas. And this is Laurian’s wife, Talia.” Aria said. “And of course, you remember Beorn.”

King Thranduil nodded to his guests before everyone sat down.

The conversation of breakfast was casual and nothing about the ordeal that the girls had gone through was brought up. Though the question did come up about how Aria knew the King and his family.

“She was raised by elves,” Laurian answered for her. “Plus she has a thing for pointy ears.”

Thranduil threw his eldest son a glaring look while everyone else laughed. Laurian simply shrugged his shoulders.

“Belen and Lisbeth, since you are both from the Kingdom of Rhovanion you will be able to return to your families as soon as your wounds have healed and my healers have released you from their care. It should not be too many more days.” Thranduil said once breakfast was over. “You will escorted home by several of my guards with an explanation to your families as to what happened and what has been done to those who did this to you.”

“What has been done to them sir?” Belen asked.

“I am going to let the Rangers of the North take care of them. My guards are keeping them secure for the time being. Once Aria told us the location where you were being held, my guards were sent out. I received word shortly before breakfast that several other men were arriving with other girls – all of whom had been unharmed thus far. But since most of the kidnappings took place in their region, I will allow them to pass judgment as well as any other measures that need to be taken.”

Aria smiled as she looked down at the table. She knew exactly why he was doing this. Aragorn was in command of the Rangers. Her elf twin brothers rode with the Rangers. And most of the Rangers who were under her brother’s command felt that she was their little sister at some point since she was their healer.

“When will I be able to return to my home in Gondor?” Mara asked.

“Once the Rangers arrive, they will be able to escort you home.” Thranduil said.


 

Looking down at the tiny object in his hand, Thranduil sighed as he waited for his son to join him in his study. He knew that Legolas wanted to spend every waking moment with Aria, making sure that she didn’t disappear into a void – but this was important.

“Talia said that you wished to see me Adar?” Legolas said walking into the study.

The king nodded and approached his son. “I will make this quick. I’ve watched you over the past few years and you’ve had your ups and downs all thanks in part to Aria. I remember way back in a time when I was that way too. And there is not a moment that I do not miss your mother. I admit I was skeptical at first, but I’m beginning to think that Laurian was correct in saying that Aria is your match in life. So I want you to have this.”

He took his son’s hand and in it placed a glittering gemstone stone on a delicate chain. The gemstone was cut into the shape of a star. “This was your mother’s. But now I want you to give it to Aria.”

In shock, Legolas gaped at the necklace for a moment then at his father. “Really?”

“Yes.”

“Thank you Adar,” Legolas said hugging his father in a rare moment of tenderness before turning and heading back to where he had left Aria reading a book.

Thranduil couldn’t help but smile as he watched his son walk away. He knew that he had done the right thing.

As Legolas made his way back to the balcony where he had left Aria reading with her new friends, he debated about how he wanted to go about giving her the necklace. Should he do it then? Should he wait? He was so indecisive.

While he wanted to give her the necklace, he had other things to worry about at the moment. He was most concerned about Aria healing from her attack. She barely slept the night before and that was only after finding comfort in his arms. Before that she had not wanted him to leave her side, even while she was treated for her injuries; earlier that morning during her bath, she had made him sit outside and guard the door while she bathed. Even at breakfast he noticed small changes. She picked more at her food than she ate it. With these changes in the last day, Legolas hoped that none of them would become permanent.

Time heals all wounds – he knew this, so hopefully in time the wounds that Aria and the other girls had sustained would all heal. Perhaps the healers from Imladris could help as well. If not, then perhaps just the thought of not being still held captive would do. Whatever the case may be, he would never leave her side until he knew that Aria was fully healed.

Once he had reached the balcony’s doorway, he stood there in silence for a moment and watched Aria’s interaction with the other girls. She was telling them a story of some kind, probably one that she was told when she was a child in Imladris as they all sat in the sunlight. All four girls looked hundreds of times better than they had been the previous day.

“Do you three mind if I steal Aria away for a walk?” Legolas asked, walking into the sunlight after a few minutes. Perhaps having Aria do some of the normal things that they enjoyed doing, would help her recover.

No one disagreed as Legolas helped Aria stand up and walked away.

“What was that all about?” she asked once they were out of earshot. “You could have simply said ‘let’s go for a walk.’ I’m sure they get the idea that we are together.”

“I wanted to have a little decorum since they are guests.”

“Sorry,” she said looking away.

“It’s fine, meleth nin,” he said pulling her flush against him as they walked. “I only want you to get better. That is why we are going for a walk.”

“Me too,” she said sighing. “But I am still so tired. Can we just take a short walk instead and find some place to sit?”

“Of course. I know just the place.”


 

Legolas led her to a tall old tree not far into the forest that sat on the edge of a cliff overlooking a valley. There he lay down a blanket that he a brought with them on the ground. He sat down first and pulled Aria into his arms as they sat against the tree.

“I would come here when I was younger a lot. I usually sit up in the tree, but I doubt that you are up for climbing,” he said wrapping his arms gently around her.

“Not at the moment,” she said with a small smile. “Maybe in a few weeks. Yet it is a beautiful sight from right here.”

“It is not the only thing that is beautiful in my eyes.” Legolas said looking down at her. Aria blushed underneath Legolas’ gaze.

“I am far from beautiful - especially now. Why would you even still want to be with me? I had been waiting for my wedding night and now that has been robbed from me. I am no good for anyone, especially you.”

Her voice trailed off as tears weld up in her eyes. She sniffled and wiped them away before the tears could fall.

“I do not see it like that,” Legolas gently whispered in her ear. “I still love you. I want to be with you, because you complete me. I cannot breathe unless I know that you are safe. I rode for days in search of you until I would collapse from sheer exhaustion. Laurian would have to force me to rest. I was determined to have you back safe in my arms. I would rather die a 1,000 deaths then to see you suffer any more than you are now.”

A small smile crept across her face as she laced her fingers together with Legolas’ and leaned against him as he kept talking.

“I still have every intention on marrying you, Aria. I do not care what it takes; I want to bind myself fully to you – in every way possible,” he said continuing to whisper in her ear. “You are not ruined in my eyes. You are still the only one who can make my heart race and I feel that I can do anything. Not in all the centuries that I have been alive has anyone but you made that happen.”

She gently squeezed his hands and pressed a kiss into them.

“Now close your eyes.”

She did what was asked. She felt him move her hair away from her neck and gently slipped something around it. Legolas smiled as he placed his mother’s necklace around her neck and fastened the clasp. “Ok you can open them,” he said pressing a kiss into her shoulder.

Her hands slowly went up towards her neck as she felt the thin chain and down to the star shaped gemstone. She looked down at it and gasped. “This is too much! I cannot take this!”

“I want you to have it. It was my mother’s. She had been my star for a large part of my life, but now you are. You guide my directions, Elin nin. You are my star.”

She turned around and knelt in between his legs as she wrapped her arms around his neck. She leaned in and kissed him deeply on the lips. Legolas placed his hands gently on her hips to help balance her. He knew that she was bruised there and he did not want to hurt her any more then she already was. He deepened the kiss as he felt her fingertips gently brush against the base of his neck. He melted into Aria’s embrace before finally breaking the kiss.

“Amin liy llie, meleth nin,” Legolas whispered against his lips.

“Amin liy llie,” she answered.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in a rare sense of bliss. Gentle kisses were abundant as well as gentle promises for the future. Hopefully focusing on their upcoming wedding would help Aria heal.


 

Even with the happiness that Aria had exhibited during the day – especially with plans for her future with Legolas - sleep did not come easily for Aria that night. She insisted that Legolas lay with her in bed and not sit in a chair right from the start. He gave in since he knew that when she had been lying in his arms the previous night, she had gotten to sleep.

But even lying in Legolas’ protective embrace, Aria found sleep evading her.

“I can get you a draught for dreamless sleep from the healers,” Legolas suggested after she had tossed and turned in his arms for over an hour.

“I do not want nightmares at all. The only things I see when I close my eyes to go to sleep are those awful men and what they did to me.”

Finally, Legolas managed to get her to sleep through a combination of humming to her and gently running his fingers along her arms and back. He sighed in relief when Aria had managed to be lulled to sleep. She needed her rest so that she could heal. Hopefully she would sleep though the night.


 “LET GO OF ME!!”

Aria thrashed around violently in Legolas’ arms, hitting and punching at him as she screamed for him to let go of her. He had been awoken by this sudden and violent outburst. He did what she asked and when he saw that the screams and thrashing continued, he gently took ahold of her shoulders and tried to wake her from the nightmare she was in.

“Aria! Aria! Wake up! It is only a dream,” he said pleading with her.

Slowly her eyes parted and they adjusted to the dim light in the room. When she saw Legolas sitting next to her, holding her shoulders, she realized that it all had been a dream. “Make them stop!” she pleaded beginning to cry. “Please Legolas, make them stop…”

Gathering her in his arms and settling back in bed, he let her cry out against his chest. “If there was a way for me to, I would. You know in a heartbeat I would,” he whispered to her.

Slowly her breathing calmed down and she began to fall back into sleep. Silently Legolas hoped that no other dreams would plague her that night.


 

She felt a hand gently run across her forehead then down her cheek. She knew this touch from the many times that she was sick when she was a little girl. “Ada?” she asked opening her eyes.

“Yes, iell nin.” Elrond said, as he sat on the side of Aria’s bed. “How are you feeling?”

“I hurt and there are nightmares,” she said as she sat up and looked around her room. Standing behind her father were the twins. But where was Aragorn?

“Your brother will be here soon,” Elrond said, sensing exactly what his daughter was thinking. “He and the Rangers had business to attend to, while I had to twins ride with me to make sure you and the other girls were safe.”

“How could you have arrived in only a few days time?”

“We were already heading this way when word reached us. We rode nonstop.”

She smiled then leaned forward and hugged her ada.

Slowly her world was coming back together.

Chapter Text

“Where is she?” Aragorn immediately asked as soon as he dismounted his horse in the stables of Mirkwood a day after his ada’s arrival. Elladan greeted him there.

“She is with ada and Legolas. They are talking with King Thranduil at the moment. Elrohir is down in the Halls of Healing helping tend to the other girls that were with Aria when she was found. All of them are suffering from nightmares. He is trying some relaxing techniques with them. We will try them on Aria later.”

“Is that all she is suffering from? The men and I found two dead bodies at that house. Tauriel said something about Aria having a hand in that.”

“From what I have gathered, she did kill those two men so that she and the girls could escape. It is bad, Aragorn. I am not going to lie. She has lost a lot of weight, she barely sleeps, she will not let Legolas leave her side and she barely ate anything this morning.”

“What of her injuries?” Aragorn asked as they began to walk into the palace.

“Bruises from beatings – several of them, she also has a large slash wound to her side. Yet the worst thing is that she and the other girls were all raped.”

“What!” Aragorn growled as he turned on his elf brother.

“I speak only the truth.”

“All the more reason that I allowed the Rangers to rid Middle Earth of the filth of those men. The others will join us shortly with more girls that the vile filth of men had kidnapped, along with Tauriel and the rest of the Woodland Guard. I rode ahead to be with Aria.”

“I will inform the other healers that more girls will be arriving shortly.”

Aragorn nodded as he departed from his brother and headed for the Great Hall of Mirkwood. He needed to see just how bad Aria looked for himself.

As he walked, he thought about what he was going to first say to Aria. Would he apologize for not being there? Would he simply hug her? Would he do both?

He had always felt that he needed to protect her from harm and usually his instincts were right about when she was in danger. Often times when they were younger, they had gotten lost around Imladris when trying to keep up with Elladan and Elrohir. But this time he had not been.

As he entered the Great Hall, he was surprised to hear a light and happy conversation taking place between his father, Aria, Legolas and King Thranduil. He was not sure what they were discussing, but it was obvious that it wasn’t about what had taken place just a few days ago. He stood back for a moment and observed the situation in front of him. The two elf lords were engaged in conversation with input every so often from either Aria or Legolas – both of whom had smiles on their faces. Aria sat close to Legolas, who had his arm draped around her waist loosely before gently brushing a kiss against Aria’s forehead. In response, Aria smiled and leaned closer to Legolas.

Aragorn could not help but smile himself. There had been a time that he did not want his sister binding herself to the elf. Yet now things were different. He had watched how they were when they had been together for almost two years in Imladris. They brought out the best in the other. Who was Aragorn to stand in the way of what was meant to be.

He finally took a step forward and immediately Aria’s attention was on him. She smiled, left the conversation that she had been apart of and headed towards him. They met halfway across the Great Hall and embraced.

Hesitant about how tightly to hug her, Aragorn gently wrapped his arms around his sister as she hugged him tightly.

“I am sorry, Aria,” he whispered, leaning over and kissing the top of her head since she was just a few inches shorter than he was.

“It is fine,” she said looking up at him with tears running down her bruised face. “You cannot always protect me.”

He gently placed a finger under her chin as he moved her face from side to side so that he could get a better look at the bruising on her face. Although the bruising was fading, it was still very much there. It was obvious that she had been smacked across both cheeks, near her right eye and even grabbed around her throat a time or two from the looks of it. Even her collarbone was all bruised up. And the dark circles from lack of sleep were not helping her case any. If this was how her upper body looked, there was no telling what the rest of her looked liked. Anger was building up inside of him. How could anyone do this to another living being?

“Come on,” she said, sensing his anger. “Let’s go some place and talk.”

“But what about them?” he said motioning towards the King and their Ada, who were still in deep conversation. Legolas had turned and watched them for a second.

“Concessions and agreements.” Aria said, leading him out of the Great Hall. “Legolas can handle it for the both of us.”

Legolas had turned watched them leave with a smile on his face. For the last few days, the only person that Aria had wanted to see besides him was her brother. Perhaps having Aragorn around would aid in her recovery.

Aria led her brother to one of her favorite places in Mirkwood Hall – the balcony where she loved to read. Even though most of Mirkwood was inside caverns, this area was not. They sat down on one of the benches and Aragorn took ahold of her arms as he gently pushed up the loose sleeves of her dress. She cringed in a bit of pain as his hand brushed over her bruises. These bruises were darker then the ones on her face and neck.

“Aria…” he breathed. “What happened?”

She sighed as pulled her arms back from her brother and placed them gently in her lap. Tears weld up in her eyes as she looked down at her hands and her body began to shake. Aragorn gently pulled her close and whispered calming words to her in elvish. She leaned into his shoulder and sniffled.

“It is alright, you do not have to tell me. Elladan told me what the healers had told him. Yet did this happen to all the girls?”

She nodded yes into his shoulder. “I tried to take more beatings than Lisbeth and Belen. I even offered myself more towards the end, but it did not work all the time. They are so young; it just was not fair. Mara did as well once she knew what I was doing.”

“The others are impressed by your handy work on the two men that you did manage to take out,” Aragorn said.

She forced a smile. “I have the wound to match it,” she said rubbing her side gently.

“All this will heal in time.” Aragorn said smiling at her. “Now what is this around you neck?”

Aria gently ran her fingers along the slender chain and down to the star gem that hung down at the end. “Legolas gave it to me. It was his mother’s.”

Aragorn smiled as he watched Aria’s face light up at the mere mention of Legolas. “Now what of these concessions and agreements?

  “Oh that! Legolas and I are to be married before the year is over!” she said as the smile on her face great larger and brighter.

“Excuse me?” Aragorn asked, making sure that his hearing was correct. “But why so soon?”

“Ada felt that perhaps through binding, Legolas could help my mental scars heal faster. At this point, I am willing to try anything. So in a few days time, Legolas and I will be married. The concessions and agreements are about living arrangements. You know that King Thranduil is keen on having Legolas stay here even though he is not the Crown Prince? And Ada is not very happy about me not being able to travel to Imladris, especially on the celebration days in the spring, summer and fall. So the deal is that we live in Imladris during the spring and summer and Mirkwood during the fall after the celebration days and through the winter since the high mountain passes will not be passable unless we go all the way around through Gondor. That was the biggest issue that was to be discussed.”

“So I take it that you have chosen to be counted among the elven kind.”

Aria nodded yes as she absentmindedly played with her engagement ring on her finger. “Now you just need to find someone who would make a suitable Queen.”

“I will never be King,” he adamantly said.

“We are still young, things may change. Who knows, I may become a great warrior like you while you may become King.”

“And what do your visions tell you? They are rarely wrong.”

She only smiled.


 

The rest of the day sped by. Not long after Aragorn had arrived, the rest of the Rangers had arrived with several other kidnapped girls, along with the other members of the Woodland Guard. Thankfully, none of these girls had serious injuries. Mainly they were shaken up by the entire ordeal. The healers tended to them and administered a sleeping draught to them all. Hopefully none of these girls experienced any nightmares during the night, since the healers were running low on sleeping draught.

As for Mara, Lisbeth and Belen – all of them managed to sleep through the night thanks to the relaxation techniques that Elrohir had tried with them. Yet, the twins were worried that it might not work on Aria since she had talked about the ordeal with Aragorn that day and it brought back up the painful memories. Yet she was willing to try anything to get to sleep. She was teetering on the edge of complete exhaustion, so relaxation techniques might just do the trick.

The twins had her prepare for bed then lay down on her bed. She did what they asked. “Now, we are going to apply a little pressure to various points on your body,” Elrohir said standing next to her bedside.

“So it may hurt just a little bit.” Elladan added.

“Please make it quick,” she pleaded.

The twins set to work gently pressuring and massaging along her arms, legs, shoulders, feet and different pressure points to relieve tension. Legolas watched from the side as he saw the tension in Aria’s body loosen somewhat. After a few minutes, her eyes began to droop. The twins each placed a soft kiss on their sister’s forehead and left the room, leaving her and Legolas alone. Legolas had to admit that Aria did look relaxed as she lay on the bed.

He stood up from his chair and gently pulled the sheets up around her so that she didn’t get cold in the cool night air.

“Legolas?” she mumbled, half asleep.

“Yes, meleth nin?”

“Hold me?”

“Just let me change into sleep clothes and then I will,” he said brushing a soft kiss against her lips, which she sleepily returned.

He quickly slipped into the bathroom and changed into the sleep clothes that he had brought with him into her room, knowing that Aria was going want him to hold her once again. There was no way that he would deny her request – especially with all that she had gone through. He quickly changed then made his way back into her room and slipped into bed with her. By that time she was fast asleep.

Thank the Valar.

Now if only she would sleep the entire night, he thought to himself as he slipped his arms gently around her and molded his body around hers to act as a shield protecting her from anything and everything.


 

A kiss followed by a whisper of ‘I love you’ brought a smile to Legolas’ face as he slowly opened his eyes. In his arms, Aria lay looking up at him with a smile on her face.

“What?” he asked, gently tracing a finger down her back, avoiding the known bruises.

“It is morning and I slept all night.”

He turned his head towards the window and saw the first rays of sunlight slowly peaking their way inside. “Yes you did,” he said with a smile, leaning down to kiss her. “Have any dreams?”

“Just one.”

“What was that?”

“Just our wedding and my future with you.”

“That sounds like a perfect dream to me. And in a short while, it will all come true.”

“I cannot wait.”

Chapter Text

It had been well over two weeks since the girls had first arrived in Mirkwood and it had been several days since any of them had any nightmares for their entire ordeal. The other girls that had arrived with the Northern Rangers had been treated and taken home by the Rangers to their homes, since most of them had been taken from the Kingdom of Rhovanion. They all had been moved out of the Halls of Healing and into guest quarters within the palace at Thranduil’s request. Aria had asked if they could all stay for her and Legolas’ wedding ceremony and celebration. He had obliged.

As for Aria, she had begun sleeping through most nights, yet occasionally woke up with nightmares. And every time, her prince was there to lull her back to sleep. The twins had taught Legolas the pressure points on Aria’s body to relax her, which typically worked.

Each time that Aria woke up thanks to a nightmare, it tugged at Legolas’ heart. He hated to see his beloved in pain. While her physical injuries were healed, her mental traumas were not. He knew that through physical bonding, he could help a little by feeling what she felt through their bond that would be created. Even though the urge to bind with Aria to ease her suffering was there, Legolas did not want to do that until they were married in the eyes of their parents.

And it could not come soon enough


 

Legolas hesitantly approached the Lord of Imladris. He had spoken to him several times over the years, but never one on one. But there was something that was bugging him and he figured that one of the eldest elves left in Middle Earth would be able to answer it for him. “Lord Elrond?”

The elf lord looked up at him. “Yes Legolas? Is something wrong with Aria?”

“No sir, she’s visiting with Belen and Lisbeth before they leave to return home tomorrow. But I have a question about Aria.”

“What’s that?”

“A few nights before Aria was found, I had a dream about the area that we found her in. And in this dream I heard her whisper goodbye to me. It felt so real. I have never felt anything like that before.”

Elrond smiled at the younger elf prince. “Legolas that is the bond between you and Aria. As you know as elves, we bind ourselves to one mate for life. Your connection had already been forged even though you both were unaware of it. Now that you know the two of you can build on it and strengthen it, especially with her decision on who to be counted among becomes permanent.”

Legolas could not help but smile. After all the trials and tribulations that they had gone through before they began to court, everything was going to work out for the best in the end. Fate was funny like that.

“Now do you not have a wedding ceremony to get ready for?” Elrond asked with a smile as he observed the prince’s reaction to his mention of Aria’s decision to be counted among the elves.

Legolas nodded as he began to make his way towards his quarters. In a few hours, he and Aria would be bound to each other in their wedding ceremony. He thought that this day would never arrive, but here it was.

And he could not wait.


 

The Great Mirkwood Hall was full of onlookers and well wishers. Legolas was thankful that so many were accepting of his choice as a bride. Aria had been worried that she would be shunned for being an outsider in Mirkwood, while in Imladris she was not. He had assured her that she would be fine. She had spent some time in the past, so hopefully that would help a bit.

Several of the Rangers, as well as the elves that had come with Lord Elrond from Imladris also waited patiently for the wedding ceremony to begin. The night before Glorfindel and Erestor had arrived for the wedding. Aria had been thrilled that her “uncles” had arrived and as long as Aria was happy, Legolas was thrilled.

Besides, if Legolas had it his way, it would have been him, Aria and just their families. But his father over ruled their wishes on this matter. He made it clear that the kingdom deserved to see whom their prince was marrying.

So instead he, Laurian and Aragorn stood at the front of the hall waiting for the procession to begin. Gandalf stood with them as well, since he would preside over the ceremony at the request of Aria.

Legolas took a nervous breath and smoothed the bottom of his bluish silver tunic he was wearing, before running his hands nervously through his hair – trying not to knock his circlet out of place. Behind him, Laurian placed a reassuring hand on his little brother’s shoulder. “It will be fine,” he whispered at his brother. Legolas nodded.

He took another nervous breath. He already knew that his bonding with Aria was non-traditional in the elvish sense - especially for an elvish prince. Technically, they had not courted for very long by elvish standards nor had they been engaged for the normal year. But what between him and Aria was normal? In retrospect, both his father and Lord Elrond had agreed that the faster that he and Aria were to marry, the faster that the mental scars she had might heal. That was why they were marrying so soon after their engagement. Besides he knew that Aria was the one for him. He had known it since the first night they had talked so long ago when she had come to Mirkwood with her ada.

Slowly the bridal procession began. First came Tauriel. Over the years, especially when she was in Mirkwood, Aria and Tauriel had become good friends. Legolas was thrilled that one of his best friends was going to be able to share in his day. After, her came Talia. Then last was Aria being escorted by Lord Elrond.

Legolas’ nervousness melted away as soon as he saw Aria approaching him from the back of the hall. Her dress was a mix of white material was tiny silver threads throughout and she wore a simple mithril circlet that the Imladris elves wore. She carried a bouquet of flowers that had been picked from the Mirkwood forest. And lying perfectly around her neck was the necklace that he had given to her. A smile appeared on her face as soon as her grey eyes met his vivid blue ones. They held their gaze with each other until they stood beside one and other, clasping hands.

As they stood there, their family formed a semi-circle around them. With Legolas and Aria in the center, those that moved in around the couple at the front of the Great Hall included King Thranduil, Lord Elrond, Elrohir, Elladan, Aragorn, Laurian and Talia. Lord Elrond stepped forward from the group first. As per elvish tradition, their parents were going to bless their union. Since Legolas’ mother had passed away and Aria’s mother did not make the journey to Mirkwood, both parts of the blessings would be spoken by their fathers.

“Lasto iâl Legolas adh Aria, adh elio din Eru,” he said.

Once his blessing had been spoken, King Thranduil spoke his. “Tiro Legolas ar Aria, Aran Einior, ar elio din Eru.”

The entire time, Legolas kept his eyes transfixed upon Aria. He had been waiting for his match for so long and he had finally found her. Thankfully he would be able to spend forever with her. After tonight, her choice to be counted as an elf would become permanent.

Once the blessings had been spoken, it was time to exchange wedding rings. Legolas’ smile grew as he removed the small silver band from Aria’s forefinger and replaced it with a simple gold one. She was now his wife. He watched with the smile still on his face as Aria exchanged his larger silver band for the new simple gold one. And in a simple exchange of their rings, Legolas knew that he was now just as much Aria’s husband as she was his wife. He could not be any happier.

Now it was time for Gandalf to utter the phrase that Legolas had been waiting for. “You may kiss the bride.”

Legolas smiled as he pulled Aria close, cupped her face and gently, yet deeply kissed her lips. Of course she returned his kiss with as much love.

Cheers went up from around the hall as well as shouts of congratulations once they separated from their first kiss as husband and wife. But neither of them heard any of it. The only thing that mattered to either of them at that moment was the new beginning of their life together.

Chapter Text

Legolas held Aria close to him as they danced to the soft music later that evening at the celebration of their marriage. He could not help but smile. He was finally where he belonged and with who he was meant to be with. And overall, the day had been perfect. Aria was breathtakingly beautiful in her wedding gown and her smile during their vows could have driven all the darkness from Mirkwood. He could not help but continue to smile as they danced.

“What are you thinking about?” Aria asked as she looked up at him from where her head was against his shoulder.

“Just how beautiful you are and how lucky I am,” he said answering as he leaned down and captured his wife in a gentle kiss.

“No, I am the lucky one,” she answered after their kiss as she closed her eyes as the music continued.

Legolas could not help but smile as he pressed a kiss against her forehead. This was the Aria that he had fallen in love with. And this is who would be by his side for eternity.

Thank the Valar.

Yet he was still nervous. And he was pretty sure that Aria was as well, but she would never let on that she was. He was not nervous about being intimate with his wife.

No, he was nervous about how Aria was going to handle the entire situation.

It had only been a few weeks since the horrific events that had left deep mental scars imprinted on Aria’s psyche. While the physical ones had all healed, Legolas was pretty sure that the mental ones had not. Her nightly visits with nightmares had all but vanished, yet there were times that he knew that Aria would be thinking about what had happened to her. That would be when he would quickly do something to change her thought process – give her a kiss, ask her a question, distract her some way – anything to get her thinking again.

Maybe, just maybe, he could replace some of those bad memories with some good ones he thought as the music they had been dancing to ended before another tune began.

“Come on,” he whispered. “Let us slip away before too many notice that we have taken our leave for the night.”

Aria looked up at him and nodded, biting her bottom lip a little. Legolas gently kissed her lips before leading her out of the Great Hall.


 

Legolas led her through silent corridors in a part of the palace that she had never been in before. She figured that this had to be where the Royal Family resided. Then it dawned on her. That now meant her as well. While she was lost in her thoughts, she had not noticed that her husband had stopped, before he quickly swept her up into his arms. The look of surprise on her face brought a small chuckle to his lips.

“You need to learn to stop daydreaming, meleth nin,” he said as he entered a room that was lit by candlelight. He kissed her lips then set her back on her feet. “These are my quarters – I mean our quarters now,” he said as he shut and latched the door behind him.

Aria took in the large expanse of a room around her. It was a circular room with a large bed in the center, along with a picture window. She noticed that Legolas had various bows strewn about in one of the corners near a chair along with his dual long knives. There were also several bookshelves of books, along with a shelf full of woodcarvings of various animals. The room was very humble, not too fancy, but so Legolas.

“It is perfect,” she said turning towards him and smiling.

Without saying a word, Legolas leaned down and captured his wife in a fiery kiss – pouring all his love, fear, anxiety and desire into that one kiss. Aria returned the kiss with just as much emotion – if not more. As they broke apart from their kiss after several seconds, a tear slipped down Aria’s cheek.

“What is it meleth nin?” Legolas asked, wiping the tear away.

“Nerves,” she whispered avoiding her husband’s piercing blue eyes.

“I have them too,” he whispered back.

She looked up at him and smiled softly. “Aníron le,” she softly said.

Legolas didn’t say anything as he gently ran a hand down the side of her face before taking the circlet out of her hair and allowing it all to cascade around her face as he set the circlet to the side. He had already taken his out and set it to the side when Aria was looking around his room. No need for adornments – they would only get in the way. “Amin liy llie,” he whispered as he slowly began to kiss along her neck.

Neither of them knew exactly what to expect for their first time as husband and wife. For both of them, there were more nerves than anything else – Legolas was worried if Aria was going to handle being intimate with him so soon after her attack and Aria was just nervous that Legolas would realize that she was no good to him after being attacked.

Once Legolas had kissed along Aria’s neck then back up to her lips, he felt that he was going to loose control if he did not bind with her soon. Slowly and carefully, he helped Aria out of her gown, since it was far too beautiful to rip off her body in a moment of unbridled passion. In return, Legolas slipped off his tunic top, so that he stood bare chested against Aria’s bare body as he kissed her deeply as his hands explored her curves. The simple touch of Aria’s bare skin was setting him on fire.

Not being able to stand for much longer, he led Aria to the bed and lay down with her and continued to kiss as his hands explored her body more – pinching and stroking her taunt nipples, cupping and rolling her soft breasts and even massaging her stomach. Yet he did not dare go any lower at the moment. He would hold out for just a few more minutes.

During their kisses and exploration, Aria had begun to gently rub her knee against his groin, eliciting a deep moan from him as her hands trailed from his toned stomach and chest muscles then up to the tips of his pointed ears. It was the tips of his ears that just about sent him into a frenzy. Aria had known that stroking the tips of an elf’s ears was a turn on for them, but she did not know that it would cause her husband to capture her in such a fiery kiss. She would have to remember that for future reference.

“You are going to be the death of me,” Legolas lustfully whispered towards his wife as he stood up and rid himself of his leggings as he broke away from her after their fiery kiss.

Before he could crawl back in bed with her, Aria stopped him.

“What?” he asked, wondering if she was having second thoughts about continuing. Surely not – he hoped not. He was too worked up for her to stop. He needed to bind with his wife both physically and mentally.

“I just want to admire my husband’s body,” she said looking him up and down - from his broad shoulders to tone, muscular chest to his hard penis that was aching to be one with her. Legolas smiled as he indulged his wife for a few more seconds before pouncing back on her in bed. He was far too needy at the moment.

He quickly captured her in a deep kiss as his hand slipped down between her legs and gently began to rub her bud. She moaned into the kiss. He continued his assault on her senses as he moved his kisses to her neck and collarbone as he worked his way down her body, stopping at each of her taunt nipples where he sucked and rolled each one around his tongue briefly. As he continued to kiss and stroke her body, Legolas situated himself so that the tip of his weeping penis brushed against her opening.

Aria, whose eyes had been closed, opened them and looked up at her husband who was looking down her, waiting her permission to push on. All it took was a simple smile from her. Legolas captured her in another fiery kiss as he slowly pushed into his wife for the first time. He was not going to go fast, knowing that it might send Aria into a panic. Instead he went slowly. And while it had taken longer then he wanted, he felt that this was best. Eventually Legolas’ full length was sheathed inside of her and Legolas knew that there was no one else that he wanted to share this with.

As for Aria, she only felt a bit of pain, yet it was not like the pain from before – no this pain she knew would disappear. She looked up at Legolas who was waiting to see if she was okay. She smiled up at him as she put her hands behind his neck to pull him down for a kiss. Legolas took that a sign as he slowly pulled back then pushed into his wife once again. Aria moaned as she wrapped her legs around his body so that she could feel more of her husband within her. Her moans urged him on as he began to thrust in and out of her at a faster rate. Eventually Aria matched his rhythm as they continued to reach for the place that they could only reach together.

“Amin liy llie,” Legolas whispered in her ear, the faster his hips thrust against hers as he could feel himself tethering close to the edge. She could not help but moan and cry out his name as she was sent into a state of bliss. As her muscles clinched around him, Legolas lost himself inside of Aria. At that moment, they felt their world click and everything came into a much brighter focus.

Now they were truly husband and wife – bound to each other both physically and mentally.

Legolas collapsed against Aria, who wrapped her arms around him as they lay there in each other’s arms, trying to catch their breath. It was then that Aria knew that Legolas would always love her no matter what happened in their lives.

“Amin liy llie, Legolas.” Aria said, snuggling in his arms and kissing him. “Thank you for taking care of me.”

“Always meleth nin. Always,” he said kissing her once again as he moved to leer over her before kissing her deeply on the lips. They rolled over in their bed and began another round of lovemaking that would take them towards their new dawn.

Chapter Text

Legolas smiled down at the sleeping figure splayed against his chest as images of the previous night replayed themselves over and over again in his head. It had been perfect. He had waited for so long to find the match to his fëa and it had been worth the wait. There had been others who had tried to win his heart in the past, yet he had known deep down there was someone else for him out there. And here she was.

His Aria.

He gently twirled a strand of her loose hair around his finger while his other hand slowly traced the curve of one of her exposed breasts against his chest then down along her slender waist before gently resting his hand against the bare skin of her hip, where he pulled the thin sheet up to cover them more. He could feel how cold her skin was in the cool Mirkwood morning. In his arms, Aria began to stir.

“I could get used to this for eternity,” she said, slowly waking up. She turned her head and placed a kiss against Legolas’ bare chest before turning her face up towards him.

“That’s the plan,” he said brushing the hair out of her face before leaning down and kissing her lips softly. “How do you feel?”

“Loved.”

“Loved?”

She nodded as she sat up in bed and reached for Legolas’ fallen tunic top that was lying on the floor – where it had been discarded the night before. Legolas watched as she slipped it on. He could feel that there was something that she wanted – no needed – to tell him. He knew that something was bugging her – he could feel it through their newly created bond.

“Whatever it is, Aria. Please tell me. Never be afraid to tell me anything,” he said picking up her hand and squeezing it as he reached across the bed for her hand.

 Finally she turned and looked back at him. Tears rimmed her eyes. “It’s just that I never would had thought that being intimate with someone was supposed to feel so wonderful and so right after what happened.”

“That’s because what happened to you was vile and inhumane,” he said as he sat up and moved closer to his wife before wrapping an arm around her. “And it is not what you and I share. We willing gave ourselves and our hearts to each other, along with our fëas. There was no force behind any of it. Nor will there   ever be.”

She smiled at him as he reached out and wiped the beginnings of her tears away. 

“Besides I can sense your feelings now, can you not sense mine?” he asked.

“A little.”

“That’s our bond. While it had already formed, it became permanent last night during our first time with each other.”

She leaned in and kissed her husband. “What did I do to deserve an elf like you?”

“You were you,” he replied as her kissed her in return, laying her back on the bed and discarding the tunic top once again. “That looked much better on the floor and I want to keep you to myself for just a while longer before we make our presence known to the world. Is that alright with you, meleth nin?”

Aria simply pulled him down for a long, deep kiss.


 

 “Will you and Legolas come and see me some day?” Belen asked. The youngest girl of the group had grown attached to Aria over the last few weeks. She loved having Aria tell her stories during the day and also taking the time to braid her long hair.

“Perhaps,” Aria said smiling at the younger girl as they said their goodbyes. She had already said goodbye to Mara and Lisbeth.

It was later that afternoon and it was also the day that Belen, Lisbeth and Mara were all going to be escorted back to their homes. The Woodland Guard would be escorting Belen and Lisbeth home while Aragorn and the Rangers would be escorting Mara back to the Kingdom of Gondor. Her father and the twins, along with the rest of the delegation from Imladris had already left that morning – shortly after Aria and Legolas made their appearance to the world. She would miss seeing her Ada often, but she knew that it wouldn’t be forever and in a few months time, she and Legolas would be heading for Imladris.

“Good!” Belen said throwing her arms around Aria and hugging her tightly. She leaned up and whispered something in her ear. “You do make a pretty princess.”

“Thank you,” Aria whispered back before helping Belen up onto the horse.

She stepped back as the Woodland Guard, Belen and Lisbeth set off into the Kingdom of Rhovanion to reunite two families. Hopefully it would all turn out for the best. Legolas and Aragorn walked up behind her.

“We are leaving too,” Aragorn said. “Best to get a move on before it gets too late. Gondor is several days ride.”

Aria didn’t say a word, but just hugged her brother. Legolas stood by and watched. He knew that the twins were close, especially after they had found out the truth about their lineage. He wondered if being separated this far would have an effect on them.

“Be safe,” Aragorn said, pressing a kiss against her forehead.

“Tell mom, I love her.” Aria replied. “And don’t get too injured. I’m not there to heal you – only the twins are.”

Aragorn smiled and hugged her one last time before turning to Legolas. “Take care of her.”

“I will,” Legolas answered, wrapping an arm around her as they watched Aragorn walk away to join the other Rangers and Mara.

They both stood there in silence and watched as the last group disappeared. Legolas felt a twinge of sadness from his wife. “Come on,” he suggested. “How about I have a warm bath drawn for you? I know that part of you is sore. And a warm bath would help loosen your muscles.”

“Yet its because of you that part of me is sore,” she said raising an eyebrow at him. “But it was worth it.”

He smiled as he led her back into Mirkwood Hall. “So how about that bath?” he asked again.

“Only if you share it with me.”

Chapter Text

Aria sighed as she walked through the halls of her new home. Mirkwood was far different than Imladris was. Imladris had wide-open spaces where the air flowed freely in and out.

Yet, Mirkwood was confining. She knew it was for good reason. Mirkwood had once been known as Eryn Lasgalen or Greenwood, but over time darkness had taken over the wood and all sorts of evil creatures had found refuge in its confines – Goblins, Orcs and Huge Spiders.

There was only one thing that bound her to Mirkwood - her husband. For him, she’d go to the ends of Middle Earth and back. She would even sail to the undying lands whenever he deemed it time to. Whatever it took just to be with him. So she could live in the confines of Mirkwood for a few months each year before leaving for Imladris. That is why Legolas and Elrond had pushed so hard for that concession from Thranduil before the wedding – they both had known how much Aria needed open spaces.

Then there was something else that she noticed since her ada and brothers had departed several weeks ago from Mirkwood – the Mirkwood elves had begun to treat her differently over the last few weeks. While they had been cheerful and welcoming during the wedding celebrations, as of late they had begun to treat her as an outsider who was beneath them – had they honestly thought that she would be a passing fancy that their prince would tire of and move on from?

 Yet these encounters only took place when she was alone. No Mirkwood elf wouldn’t dare do this in the presence of any of the other members of the Royal Family – especially their youngest prince or more so their King. All of this only isolated Aria more. Perhaps it had been the fact that she had grown up in Imladris and was the adopted daughter of Lord Elrond, but here she felt so much different. Sometimes she felt that Legolas didn’t even understand her. But that feeling was fleeting and would often dissipate as soon as he held her in his arms.

Yet the fact still remained that she felt like an outsider.

Deep in her heart, she longed for Legolas to take her away from this place – to take her back to Imladris.


 

Legolas walked the halls of Mirkwood looking for his wife. He knew that she was feeling down in the recent weeks and he had something that could possibly cheer her up. Finally he found her in an isolated corner, curled up with a book, silently reading.

“There you are!” he happily said. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”

She glanced up at him for a moment then right back down at her book. “You can stop putting on a façade. You are just trying to make me feel better.”

“Isn’t that what a good husband is supposed to do?” he asked sitting down next to her. He took the book from her hands and set it to the side. She glared at him.

“I was reading that.”

“And now you are not.”

She continued to glare.

“Come on,” he said standing back up and holding his hand out to her. “I have something I want to show you.”

Aria sighed as she took ahold of his hand and stood up. Legolas smiled and gently kissed her lips before handing her the book she had been reading back. “Come on,” he said. “You will like this.”

He led her towards the part of Mirkwood Hall where the Royal Family resided, yet walked past their quarters. “I know that living here has been an adjustment for you, but hopefully this will help,” he said as they continued down the hall.

“What do you mean?”

He just kept on walking a little bit further down the hallway before stopping. “Close your eyes,” he said as he moved to covered them as well.

She eyed her husband with a questioning look, but did as he asked. Legolas led her on towards a door that he pushed open with one hand. He pulled her inside and shut the door behind them. “Ok open them,” he whispered, as he held onto his wife’s hand

Aria opened her eyes and looked around her. Legolas had led her to larger room that was still in the Royal Family residence, yet she had never been in this room before. It was at least twice the size of Legolas’ quarters. And there was much more sunlight. She turned towards the sunlight and saw that there was an opened balcony attached to the room. Her feet immediately carried her towards her the tiny balcony, pulling Legolas with her. She walked out into the cool, fall air and sighed happily as Legolas wrapped his arms around her. He nuzzled his chin against her neck before placing a kiss there.

“These are our new quarters. Adar granted me two to choose from. I know that you miss the openness of Imladris so I choose this one for us. I knew you would love the balcony as well,” he said still holding Aria close to him.

She turned her head and kissed him deeply on the lips. Perhaps her husband did understand her after all. Even if her new home was not like Imladris, at least he was trying his best to make her as comfortable as he could. She could not ask for anything more.


 

The move from Legolas’ old quarters to their new quarters was quick and easy. It amazed Aria at how much weight an elf could carry. In a matter of days the move had been completed and Aria had even managed to find some sitting chairs, a table and a couch that were not being used to put in their quarters as well to make a sitting area for reading.

As she sat putting the books back up on the shelf one of the books fell to the floor. As she picked it up, a flat withered flower fell from inside the book and landed gently onto the floor. She bent over and picked up the tiny flower and looked at it with a puzzled look on her face. This was no flower from the forest of Mirkwood.

This was a flower from Imladris.

Why did her husband have a flower from Imladris inside of a book?

“You do not remember do you?”

Aria turned her head towards her husband’s voice as he stood in the doorway polishing one of his bows. She still held the flower in her hand. “Remember what?”

He smiled at her as he set his bow to the side and walked toward her. He gently took the flower from her hand. “I met you once before you came to Mirkwood with your father and brothers. I met you in Imladris when you were very young - probably too young to remember. It was shortly after the Battle of the Five Armies. Your Ada had been gone for so long and when he and myself rode into the Imladris with the other elves, there was this little girl who came running to greet her Ada with an arm full of flowers. I remember watching as all the elves parted for her as Lord Elrod picked her up and hugged her tightly as soon as he had dismounted his horse. I was amazed at how well behaved she was because then the girl acknowledged my presence, before presenting me with a flower from her bunch before running off to rejoin whomever had been watching her. And for some reason I felt bound to keep the flower I had been presented with.”

Arias held open the book that the flower had fallen out of as Legolas gently lay it back inside. “Did you think at that time you would end up marrying me?” she asked as she placed the book on the bookshelf.

“I did not see myself marrying anyone at that time,” he said. “Yet over time, I kept seeing you in my dreams after meeting you once again. And now I see myself with no one else but you.”

She sighed as she looked down at the floor.

“I know that something has been troubling you meleth nin and you have been blocking it from me. Is it a vision?” he asked tilting her head up towards him.

“No.”

“Then what ails you?”

“None of the elves like me. I mean your family does, but no one else. They all treat me as an outsider who is beneath them. No one will talk to me unless either you or one of the family members is with me. That is why I have been reading so much. Yes I was depressed about being confined so much, but these new quarters do help. But I also miss the companionship of my friends. I have yet to make any here outside of Talia and Tauriel. And with you having to go back out on patrol soon and be gone for days, I do not know how I will survive.”

Legolas pulled his wife down onto his lap as he moved to sit down on the couch. “I know that when Mara and the other girls were here that you did have others to relate to and now they are gone. Honestly I never thought that the other elves would be this cold towards you.”

“Perhaps its because they wanted their prince to marry his own kind.”

“If that is the case, then they will just have to be disappointed. For I am not their Crown Prince. I am second in line to the throne – third once Laurian and Talia have an elfling. You are my choice. I received Adar’s blessing. That is all that matters to me.”

Aria smiled as she leaned against her husband’s shoulder and interlocked her fingers with his. “I love you,” she whispered.

“As do I,” he said kissing her forehead. “Now when it comes to the patrol situation. I will be gone for no more than a day at a time. I used to be gone for weeks at a time, but Adar would rather I not be gone from you for long periods of time in case you relapse into nightmares.”

“Really?”

He nodded. “But I do have something that I want you to practice more often doing.”

“What?”

“How to correctly shoot a bow and arrow. I know that your brothers attempted to teach you, but now I want to be certain that you are able to.”

 “Let me change clothes then. No point in ruining a dress.”

Legolas waited patiently as Aria slipped into the bathroom changed into a pair of leggings and a tunic – both of which were too big on her thanks to the weight she still had yet to put back on from her kidnapping. She had also pulled her hair back into a braid. These were her traveling clothes for when they would travel from Mirkwood to Imladris.

“I find this look on you appealing,” he said pulling her close, still with the bows and sheath of arrows in hand.

“You find everything appealing on me,” she said kissing him quickly before spinning out of his arms.

“And is that such a bad thing.”

“No my prince it is not,” she said with a sly smile. “And perhaps after my archery lesson you can show me just how appealing I am.”

Legolas silenced her with a deep kiss before grabbing his bow, along with a bow that he had made for Aria and quiver of arrows from the corner as he led Aria out of their quarters.


 

Legolas led Aria to a clearing where they often would come to practice archery skills. Her brothers had told Legolas that they had taught Aria how to shoot when she was younger and that made Legolas determined to make sure his wife was proficient when it came to archery skills. He did not want to worry her about an attack on his adar’s halls, so that was why he was determined to make sure that she could proficiently shoot a bow and arrow. He had spent the better part of a month carving her a bow and had just finished it a few days ago. They had tried it out and he had to admit that Aria wasn’t that bad of a shooter, but she was going to need some more practice.

He watched as she lined up her shot and released the arrow, which went a little to the side. He adjusted her stance a bit before she tried to shoot again. This time she hit the target dead on. “Now keep practicing a few more centuries and I am sure then you will be prefect!” he jokingly said.

Aria glared at him as she notched another arrow and hit the target again in the same spot, destroying her other arrow in the process.

“Good aim,” came a new voice into the clearing. Legolas and Aria turned to look behind as Tauriel approached them.

“Ah Tauriel,” Legolas said. “I thought you were going to be waiting for us.”

“I was. I just wanted to see how much better Aria’s shooting had become,” she said with a smile. “Besides I know that she has not been practicing much in the last few weeks.

 “I’ve had my reasons as to why we have not been practicing,” Legolas said defending himself as he wrapped an arm around his wife’s waist. Aria blushed slightly.

“But that is in the past,” Tauriel said. “How about you let me teach you to defend yourself while Legolas continues to teach you how to shoot better?”

Aria looked from her husband to Tauriel then back to her husband. She was a bit shocked. In fact she didn’t know what to say. Her brothers had begun her training but she had never allowed them to finish it because her visions of the future had gotten to vivid and horrific for her. She actually had tried to hide from her visions by doing everything in her power not to let them come to pass. But that just was not going to happen. So what better way to face the future head on then being prepared for it and fighting for what she loved.

“Sure,” Aria said with a smile.

Chapter Text

“She does not have any friends?”

Legolas shook his head no as he continued to brush down his horse. “I know that she is lonely. Then there is something else. Some thing that I cannot figure out. It is almost that she is hiding something from me.”

“What is it that you want me to do?” Tauriel asked.

“If there is any elf that I know that could be a true friend to Aria and mean every word that was spoken, it is you. Then there is the fact that Aria already knows you. Simply talk with her. Try to find out what is wrong with her.”

Sensing that Legolas was truly at a loss about what to do about Aria, Tauriel agreed to help. Hopefully during their training sessions, Aria would start to talk to her more.

 


 

“Can I ask you something?”

Tauriel looked over at Aria waiting for the question. Over the last several weeks, Aria had seemed to come out of her self-imposed shell when it came to talking with her. Slowly Aria has seemed to open up a bit more to her, especially in her feelings about living in Mirkwood – just like Legolas had hoped would happen.

“Sure, what is it?” Tauriel asked as they took a break from sparring practice for a few minutes.

“If you and Legolas were so close growing up, why did not the King ever pressure him to marry you? You are pretty and you are an elf.”

“Self-doubt will get you no where.”

Aria shrugged her shoulders and sighed as she drew symbols in the dirt with the tip of her sword blade. The elf watched her for a second, assessing her feelings before proceeding. “Something is still bothering you is it not?” she gently probed.

“In Imladris, I was not treated like I am here. It has been almost six months and I still hear snide remarks behind my back. Do they honestly think that I cannot speak elvish? I was raised by elves!”

“What do they say?”

“I have bewitched the entire Royal Family; that I am just as evil as Sauron; that I am a reject that my mother left on Lord Elrond’s doorstep; that Legolas only married me because of what happened to me – things like that.”

“And you have not told anyone?”

“No. You are the first one that I have mentioned any of this to.”

“You have not even told Legolas?”

Aria shook her head no.

A sound of running footsteps nearby stopped their conversation short as one of the members of the guard came skidding around the bushes into the clearing where Aria and Tauriel had been practicing fencing skills.

“Princess come quickly, you are needed in the Halls of Healing,” the guard said.

Immediately Aria’s first thought was about Legolas, who was currently out on patrol and should be returning that night. Was her husband injured? If not him, then what was wrong?

“Why?” she questioned.

“The healers cannot determine what ails an elfling. They sent me to find you. Perhaps your Ada’s training could help them.”

Aria nodded as she followed the guard back into the Halls of Healing with Tauriel behind them.

 


 

“We have checked for all the symptoms of something that was poisonous could have been ingested, a spider bite, rare sickness. Yet none of it fits,” the head healer said as he explained to Aria and Tauriel what was going on as they walked towards the room where the elfling lay in the Halls of Healing. “Her parents informed us that this has happened before, yet never this severe.”

Aria glanced up at the parents of the elfling who were talking in whispers with another healer further down the hallway. As soon as Aria saw the elleth, part of her was tempted to turn and leave the Halls of Healing without saying a word about how to help this elfling. Yet she did not. Instead she sucked in a short breath before speaking again.

“Give me a moment,” she told the head healer. “Then I shall be in to speak with the elfling.”

The healer nodded as he turned and left Aria and Tauriel alone.

“What is it?” Tauriel asked in a hush whisper.

“The elfling’s nana is one of the elves that has been talking about me.” Aria whispered turning back to face Tauriel.

“Are you certain?”

Aria nodded as she slowly approached the room where the elfling lay. As she did, the nana of the elfling looked up at Aria with contempt on her face, which quickly turned to a blank expression as she noticed the glare that Tauriel had across her face.

Without saying a word, Aria walked right past the elflings parents and into the room.

“I need everyone to take a step back,” Aria said as she entered the room. She already had a pretty good idea of what was going on. She just needed to talk to the elfling.

The other healers immediately did what she asked, giving her the room she needed. Tauriel stood off to the side with the elfling’s parents. If this elleth wanted to say something snide about Aria then Tauriel wanted to catch her in the act. And if Aria would not do anything about, then she most definitely would.

Aria sat down on the side of the bed where the elfling lay and picked up a cool cloth that lay in a basin beside her beside. She rung it out then ran it along the forehead of the little elf girl. The little elf girl opened her eyes and looked up at Aria.

“What is your name, little one?” Aria asked.

“Tarkin,” she faintly answered.

“That is a pretty name,” Aria said. “Now when you close your eyes, do you see the same thing over and over again?”

The elfling nodded.

“And all you want to do is make them go away?”

Tears began to slowly stream down the elfling’s cheeks as she reached for Aria to hug her and cry against her. Aria happily accepted the hug and let the young elfling cry against her chest. The elfling’s mother tried to move towards her daughter, but Tauriel held her back with another menacing look.

“How did you know?” Tarkin asked.

“I have visions too,” Aria said, using the cool cloth to clean the dried tears from her face.

“Do they scare you?”

“Sometimes. But I have learned to control them and use them to help me.”

“Will you teach me?”

“We shall see. But I am going to have the healers give you a draught for dreamless sleep to help bring down your fever while I talk to your parents. Is that ok?”

Tarkin nodded as she lay back down in the bed.

Aria stood back up and quietly left the room with Tauriel and Tarkin’s parents behind them. Once they were in the hall, the other healers went back in the room to administer the draught.

“Oh thank you, princess for figuring out what is wrong with our daughter!” her mother began. “We have been so worried. Are you going to teach her to control her visions?”

Before Aria could answer her, a new voice entered the conversation. “Absolutely not!”

Aria whipped her head around and saw Legolas striding up the corridor towards them, still wearing his armor from patrol. Through their bond, she could feel fury rolling off of him. What had him so upset?

“What do you mean my prince?” the mother asked, obviously a bit confused.

“Your comments about the princess do not fall on deaf ears. All of Mirkwood does not feel the same way you do about her. So unless you want your daughter to continue to suffer, I suggest you quickly decide where your loyalties lie because King Thranduil is waiting for you and your husband in the Great Hall. He will decide what happens to you and your family.” Legolas said moving to stand between his wife and Tarkin’s mother.

“But my daughter!” Tarkin’s father interjected.

“I will work with her,” Aria said as she placed her hands against the breast plate of her husband’s armor. “Legolas, she is the first seer that Mirkwood has had in many centuries. Let your father decide her parent’s punishment. But do not let the child suffer.”

Legolas looked down at his wife, whose eyes begged him to listen to her. He sighed, knowing that she was right. “So be it. I will speak to my father,” he said as he turned to Tauriel. “Please make sure that they both get to the Great Hall immediately.”

Tauriel nodded as she led Tarkin’s parents away.

As Tarkin’s parents were lead away, Aria felt some of the anger that Legolas was emitting slowly dissipate. “Where did this anger come from?” she asked, as they began to walk back towards their quarters. She leaned against Legolas, who wrapped an arm loosely around her waist, as they walked.

“Towards the end of patrol, I suddenly was hit by this wave of grief. I knew that you had been holding something back from me for a while now. I have been hoping that you would open up to Tauriel like you have, which I am glad that you two have become better friends. Yet when this immense grief hit me, I reached into our bond to find out what was wrong. I know that we promised to never dig too deep into memories, but it was just too much. I had to know what had been troubling you for so long. And when I saw and learned what you had been called behind your back, I was furious. That is why I returned a few hours early.”

“I am sorry for hiding it from you. I thought that I would get over it and that everyone would get used to me. I guess I was wrong.”

“Like I have said before, never be afraid to tell me anything, meleth nin,” he said sweeping her into his arms and carrying her the rest of the way to their quarters.

Aria smiled as she kissed the lips of her elf in shining armor before laying her head against his shoulder.

Hopefully everything would only get better from here on out. 

Chapter Text

Legolas stood back in the doorway and watched as Aria worked with Tarkin in their quarters during one of her sessions. This was part of the agreement that had been worked out with his father. Aria would help Tarkin learn to control her visions, but on her terms – all sessions would be conducted in their quarters with no interruptions. Thranduil agreed to that seeing as the elfling was the first seer born in Mirkwood for centuries. As for her mother’s punishment for belittling Aria, which was considered treason in the King’s eyes and he made that perfectly clear, she was given extra work detail and her husband was sent on extra patrol duties in Mirkwood with the Woodland Guard. This was relativity mild to what could have happened, but it was all for this little girl.

One thing that he had noticed in the weeks since was a change in Aria. This was the Aria of old emerging after being locked away for so long.

This was the Aria that he had fallen in love with.

There was no doubt that he had loved his wife, but he did notice a change in her ever since their wedding. He had though that it was because of the kidnapping and her torture. Yet now Legolas felt that these reasons were not causing this change in her. So then he felt a change in scenery might help her out and that was why he moved them to new quarters. Aria had never been confined when she was in Imladris, so perhaps that was the problem.

Yes, it had helped for a while.

Then a few weeks later, the mental barriers that Aria had created within their bond were back. That was why he had turned to Tauriel for help.

And that was when the break through happened.

Simply having someone else besides him or the other family members to talk to had been the greatest breakthrough that Legolas had discovered when it came to his wife. Since then Aria had seemed so much happier – it was almost like nothing bad that had happened in the last year to her had taken place.

Life, to him, was just about perfect.

“Do all elves see the future to some extent?” Legolas heard Tarkin ask as he continued to watch Aria and the elfling. Tarkin was working on a drawing of some kind that Aria had asked her to complete.

“Yes but then there are some who can see deep into the future like my Ada and Lady Galadriel.”

“Will I be like them someday?”

“Maybe with lots of practice.”

“Can I ask you one more question?”

“One more then you have to finish your drawing. Our time is almost up for today.”

“How can you have an elf father when you do not have pointy ears?”

Before Aria could answer, Legolas interjected and answered for her. “Because she is special,” he said as he moved from the doorway and into the small sitting area within their quarters.

Tarkin, who was not expecting the Prince to show up, blushed as Legolas sat down across from them in a chair. Aria motioned for him to be quiet while she finished up with Tarkin. “Now Tarkin, what are you supposed to do if you have a vision that just will not go away while I am gone?”

“Draw it out.”

“And if it is really bad?”

“Have someone write you a message and send it to you.”

“Good. Then I will respond and tell the healers what to do. But I am sure that you will be fine while I am gone.”

“You are going to come back because some elves leave and never come back. My ada says that those elves have sailed home and you said that you are going to your other home.”

“I promise I am going to come back.”

The little girl stood up and hugged Aria before quickly leaving. Once she was gone, Legolas moved from the chair over to the couch and sat next to his wife, who curled up next to him. He wrapped an arm around her while his other arm reached out and picked up the drawing that Tarkin had left on the table. He looked at it for a few seconds. It looked to be a shadowy figure of some sort. “What is it?” he finally asked.

“I am still not sure. She has drawn it several times.”

“Did your Ada make your draw out your visions when you were younger?”

“Sometimes, especially the scary ones.”

“What do you do now?”

“I would either draw them out, keep them to myself or tell someone – like you or Ada.”

“You have not had any recently have you?”

“Visions?”

“Yeah.”

“Not really. I have been too preoccupied with other things. First it was recovering, then it was adjusting to married life and living in a new place and now it is being a teacher. I think once life settles down a bit; things will come back into focus. Yet, I do keep having that one vision about loosing everything that I hold dear…”

Aria’s voice trailed off as so looked towards the ground. Legolas set the picture down and moved his free hand to tilt his wife’s chin back up towards him.

“And I will fight my way back to you. I vowed that years ago,” he said before gently kissing her lips. It was not a long drawn out kiss, but instead was a short and sweet one. These were always the best type of kisses – the ones that seemed to mean the most.

She sighed happily after their kiss and relaxed into her husband’s embrace for a short while. Legolas simply held her and allowed her the opportunity to do so.

Yes, life was just about perfect.

 


 

“Talia and I have something that we would like to share with the three of you first,” Laurian said during dinner that night.

Everyone in the family turned their attention to the Crown Prince and his wife. “What is it ion nin?” Thranduil asked.

While Legolas and the King sat and waited for the response, Aria simply smiled. She knew exactly what they were going to say. She could hear it in their voices – they were both so happy. Talia was pregnant. She had to be.

“Adar you are going to have a grandchild!” Laurian said.

And for one of the few times since Aria had known him, King Thranduil smiled. Congratulations were shared as well as hugs. The rest of the dinner talk was spent discussing things about the upcoming Royal Birth.

 


 

“You know we never talked about having a family of our own one day,” Aria said as she emerged from the bathroom wearing a silk nightgown. Legolas was already in their bed, clad in his sleep pants, waiting for her to join him.

“Why rush things? We have a while to figure things out.”

“But what if things did not work out like Galadriel said they would. What if my choice to be counted among the Elves was not legitimate? What if I do slowly age?” she said crawling into bed next to her husband.

“It was,” he said as he wrapped an arm around Aria’s slender body as she curled up against his chest.

“How do you know?”

“The way that your skin glows faintly in the moonlight,” he said as he slowly ran the tips of his fingers up and down Aria’s arm. In all the time that I have been around you, I have never noticed that about you until after we were married. That is how I am certain that we have all the time in Arda.”

A small smile spread across Aria’s face as she inhaled her husband’s scent. “So if you are so certain, how long do you want to wait until we start to have a family of our own?”

“How about leaving that up to the Valar to decide. Besides can I not keep you to myself for a while longer?

“Of course,” she said looking up at him. “I just wanted to talk about it that’s all. It’s not like I wanted to go and make babies right now. Besides is it not true that both parties have to want a child in elf society for things to happen?”

“Typically. I am not really sure how it would work with us. Perhaps the same way.”

“Hopefully.”

“Besides a little practice would not hurt either,” Legolas said as he moved in the bed so that Aria was lying on her back and he was now leering over her.

“I do not see why not,” she said pulling him down for a long, deep kiss. “But we do have a long trip a head of us tomorrow. So we will need some strength.”

“Trust me,” he said kissing her again as his hands began to trail up her slender body and remove her nightgown. “You will have more than enough strength to get you to Imladris in a few days time.”


 

Aria’s smile grew wider and wider the closer they got to the hidden valley. She, Legolas and Tauriel had departed Mirkwood over a week ago for this journey. And they were so close. The journey was originally supposed to be just her and Legolas, but at the last minute Thranduil had insisted that Tauriel and at least four other Woodland Guards accompany them. Aria threw a fit to her husband because with too many of them riding, the journey would just take longer. In return, Legolas had to persuade his father that just allowing Tauriel to accompany them was fine enough. Thankfully it had worked.

When it came to resting, Legolas had to plead with his wife to stop and sleep for just a few hours. He knew how bad she wanted to get back to Imladris, but he was not going to have her return to her home exhausted.

During all of this, Tauriel was wondering why Aria was so dead set on getting back to Imladris since she had never been there before. Even in all the years that Legolas had spent there, prior to his wedding to Aria, Tauriel had never made the journey to see him.

“You will see,” was the response that she got each time from Aria.

As they rode over the last hill on their way into Imladris towards sunset on the 10th day, Aria turned to look at Tauriel. “Welcome to Imladris, or in common tongue – Imladris,” she said.

Tauriel sat gaping at the scene in front of her. There sat several buildings built at the edge of a narrow gorge along the river Bruinen. It was beautiful.

“Now I see why you wanted to return home,” she said to Aria.

Aria simply smiled and led the way on.

They rode over a bridge and into the city. The trio dismounted their horses as Erestor greeted them. “Lord Elrond is currently in his study. We were not expecting you until tomorrow,” he said.

“I was ready to be home,” Aria said as she turn and headed up the stairs leaving everyone behind. Legolas and Tauriel helped Erestor take their horses to the stable.


 

Aria gently knocked on the study door that she knew so well, that was always a crack open, before sticking her head inside. “Ada?”

“Iell nin!” Elrond said greeting his daughter at the door. “What are you doing here so early?”

“It was only a day,” she said. “Besides I missed you and everyone else.”

Elrond pulled Aria into hug and held her close for just a moment. Through their hug, he could tell that there was something on her mind. “Something is bothering you, is it not?”

“Mirkwood is so different than here. I have been homesick the entire time,” she said as her eyes began to tear up.

“No tears, iell nin,” Elrond said, gently placing a hand against her cheek. “Legolas and I both knew that living away from here full time would be hard. That is why we made the deal with his father.”

“I know,” she said forcing a smile. “And Legolas has tried to make it better and easier for me, but I still missed home.”

“As you probably will for several more years. But no tears now. You are here with your family, friends as well as your husband. Now is a time for celebration.”

Aria smiled as she and Elrond headed to find Legolas and Tauriel. It felt like everything had been lifted off of her shoulders and thrown to the side.

It was good to be home.

Chapter Text

Aria leaned back against Legolas and sighed as she closed her eyes. “Tired, meleth nin?” he asked as he wrapped his arms around her. He gently nuzzled her neck and placed a lingering kiss against her neck.

Shortly after dinner, Aria and Legolas had decided to go for a walk to one of their favorite escapes in Imladris – the banks of the River Bruinen. They had many memories of sitting along the river’s bank during their time courting. So why not make a trip to their favorite spots now that they were married. 

“I think the long journey home is finally catching up with me. Yet I am glad to be here.”

“I know you are.” Legolas said pausing before speaking again. “Yet is Mirkwood really that bad?”

“No it is not because you are there,” she said turning and looking up at him in the moonlight. She smiled at him before he leaned down and kissed her lips. “Home is wherever you are, Legolas. Have you not figured that out yet?”

“It is just that the last six months had been so hard on you. There were times that I have felt that you would simply tell me that you have had enough for being held captive within Mirkwood’s halls and that you were leaving me.”

“I am sorry, Legolas. I really am,” she said looking away from him.

 Tears were beginning to build up in her eyes. She did not want to cry, but she knew that she was going to anyways. She felt absolutely horrible about keeping all her feelings bottled up inside for the last few months, only to have them come bursting out all at once. “I am just not used to having someone attuned to my emotions and I to theirs. It has been a bit overwhelming at times,” she said sniffling as she tried to fight back her tears.

Legolas gently turned her face back towards him, knowing that she was about to start crying. “No tears,” he gently said placing a hand against her cheek. “This is something that can easily be fixed. I am sure every new couple has rough patches. I know that Laurian and Talia did. Besides I feel that same way you do about home – wherever you are, is where my home is.”

Aria sniffled again and then allowed a small smile to form across her face as no tears fell. “You are my home,” she whispered leaning up towards her husband. “And you always will be.”

“As are you,” he answered capturing her in a kiss.


 

“Are you sure that you do not need me to accompany you?” Tauriel asked as Legolas and Aria prepared their horses for the journey to the village of Bree. The trio had been in Imladris for about a week before Aria had decided that she wanted to see her mother, who had moved to the village.

“No, we’ll be alright. Besides this gives you time to relax, which is something you never do.” Legolas said before turning his attention to Aria who was talking to her horse. The horse was a sleek black mare with a white star on her forehead and along her chest. He watched as Aria patted the horse down before the horse nuzzled Aria’s shoulder.

“That’s my girl. I have missed you too, Argo,” she said before mounting the horse.

“Ready?” Legolas asked once he had mounted his horse.

“Of course,” she said. “Oh Tauriel if the twins return while we are are away, please tell Ada to not let them leave.”

“I will do that.”

She stood by and watched as Aria and Legolas rode out of the hidden valley on their way to Bree. There was no telling how long they would be gone for. So what was she supposed to do while they were gone?


 

When Gilraen answered the door to the soft knocking, she was not expecting who was waiting for her on the other side. She thought perhaps it would be someone from the village needing something seamed or stitched. But this was so much better.

“Mother,” Aria said with a smile pushing back the hood of her travel cloak.

“Aria!” Gilraen exclaimed pulling her daughter into a tight embrace. “This is a surprise.”

“Well when Legolas and I returned from Imladris, Ada told me that you had left to live here. So we came to see you.”

Gilraen looked behind her daughter and noticed the tall Mirkwood prince standing behind her daughter. She knew that the two had been married several months ago after Aria had been kidnapped and rescued. She had wished that she had been able to attend the wedding. At least Aragorn had been there for her.

“Well come in! Come in!” Gilraen said, letting them inside the cottage. Aria and Legolas followed her inside and took off their traveling cloaks as they settled down.

The trio talked for a while about Mirkwood and the difference between Imladris and Mirkwood. Then Gilraen told her daughter about what Aragorn and the Rangers had been up to. Thankfully, there had not been too many injuries. Elladan and Elrohir had been more than able to take care of all the injuries on their own.

“Do you know where Aragorn and the twins currently are?” Aria asked.

“They should be checking in a few days,” Gilraen said. “Then they stay for a day or so before heading back out. This is what they do every few months.”

Aria turned to look at her husband. “Mind if we hand around for a few days?”

Legolas shook his head no. “Is there a local inn here?” he asked.

“That is absurd!” Gilraen said. “I have more than enough room here. You two will stay here with me. Then when your brothers get here, then can find somewhere else to sleep, like the floor.”


 

Over the next few days, Aria and Legolas both helped Gilraen with whatever she needed done around the house – from mending a fence post or two in the stable to helping her move things around the house. Neither of them minded since it kept them busy. Other than that it was a change of pace from their normal lives.

Mid afternoon of the second day, Aragorn and the twins arrived and were greeted with the surprise of Aria preparing dinner instead of Gilraen. She was immediately tackled in a bone-crushing hug by all three of her brothers, which Legolas found amusing.

After dinner that night, Aragorn pulled Legolas off to the side – out of earshot of Aria and their mother. He needed to talk to Legolas about recent activities that had been going on around Bree.

“Something troubles you, mellon nin,” Legolas said in a hushed whisper to Aragorn.

“Has there been an increase in orc attacks in Mirkwood?”

“There has, especially recently. Adar has increased patrols. That was why he wanted to send 5 Woodland Guards with us on the journey, but Aria threw a fit. So just one accompanied us.”

“The rangers have seen an increase as well. The twins and I chased a pack of ten of them away today. It seems as if it is every other day.”

“What is it from?”

“Still not sure. But do not let Aria know. Her vision of loosing everything dear still haunts her does it not?”

“It does.”

“I think this has something to do with it.”

Legolas looked over at his wife who was smiling and laughing with her twin brothers and sighed. He hoped that Aragorn was wrong. For everyone’s sake.

Chapter Text

Legolas wrapped a cloak around Aria’s slender shoulders as they sat on the balcony outside of their suite in Imladris, late into an early spring night. “No need to get any sicker,” he whispered. “Your Ada would not take too kindly to that.”

She shook her head in agreement as she leaned into his embrace and sighed as they sat under the stars for a while longer, enjoying the fresh air. Over the last few days, Aria had been bedridden with a stomach ailment. Finally she had gotten enough strength back to venture outside with her husband’s assistance. She had been longing to sit outside under the trees for several days. But even with a bit of renewed strength, Legolas had insisted that they venture no further then their balcony that connected to their suite. That she could live with.

Anything was better then just lying in bed. Closing her eyes, she breathed in her husband’s scent and she curled up tighter against him. She felt Legolas’ arm readjust in holding her against him. Allowing herself to relax for the first time in several days, she could feel sleep overtaking her once again. Not wanting to move from her place of comfort, wrapped in her husband’s embrace, she happily drifted off to sleep.

After just a few minutes of sitting in the fresh air, Legolas heard Aria’s gentle breathing signaling that she had fallen asleep.

Good. She needed rest since she had not gotten much the last few days.

Carefully standing back up and not readjusting his hold on Aria, he managed to picked up his sleeping beauty and carry her back in to their suite where he tucked her back into bed before crawling in next to her. Out of instinct, Aria moved close to him in bed and Legolas happily indulged his sleeping wife by wrapping his arms around her.

He lay there for a little while and let his mind drift back over the last 10 years that they had been married as he held Aria in his arms. The years had been peaceful, loving and completely wonderful. First had been his and Aria’s wedding followed by the ups and downs of the first few months of marriage. Yet after that rocky start, things got better. Their communication with each other improved and their bond deepened as well. They had learned to communicate nonverbally along with feeling the needs and wants of the other in their deeper connection. All of this only strengthen their love for each other.

Outside of their relationship, their immediate family had grown thanks to his brother with the addition of his new son, Fligan about 10 years ago. And now, Talia was once again pregnant and would soon give birth to another elfling. Sadly, they would miss this birth, unlike the last time since they would be in Imladris during the summer when the elfling was due. With Laurian and Talia having their second elfling in such a short time span, the conversation of a family had once again been brought up with Aria just after Talia had announced she was pregnant. Previously Aria had said that she wanted to have children before she was too old, but this second pregnancy had gotten her thinking – 30 years old was a good age to start trying for a family with a centuries old elf.

That had been several months ago. There was no doubt in Legolas’ mind that they were trying. There had been failures and they both knew it, which resulted in heartbreak each time. But Legolas reminded her each time that everything was the will of the Valar and if they were to be blessed with a family of their own, then so be it. Yet one of the problems with their pairing was that neither of them knew the exact signs that Aria could be pregnant.

Would she show the signs that pregnant female elves or of female humans?

Or would it be a combination of the two given that she did choose to be counted among the elves. They had yet to find an answer – so the only thing left to do was to keep on trying.

Aria mumbled something in her sleep and snuggled closer to her husband. Legolas couldn’t help but smile as his thoughts about the last ten years drifted back to the present and to what was laying in his arms. He gently brushed a kiss against her forehead before settling down to sleep as well.

As he readjusted his hold on his wife, he moved his hands against her flat stomach. While his hands were against her stomach, he felt a small but steady pulse emanating from her lower abdomen. Curiously he moved his hand away, and then moved it back.

The pulse was still there.

A smile formed on his face as he placed his hand protectively against Aria’s abdomen, not wanting to get his hopes up too much for he was not a healer.

Yet he did know the best one in Middle Earth.

 


 

“Lord Elrond?”

The Imladris Lord turned from the chart he was studying towards Legolas, who had entered his study, bright and early the next morning. “Yes, Legolas?” he said. “Is Aria any better?”

“A little, but I need you to examine her.”

“Examine her?” he asked, a bit confused. “She told me that it was a stomach ailment.”

“I believe it is more than that,” Legolas said pausing before continuing. “I think that she might be pregnant.”

“Pregnant?”

Legolas went on to explain what had taken place the night before when he was holding her and how they had been trying for a family.

“If she is pregnant then this could explain this sickness,” Elrond said.

“It would?”

“It’s a human sign of pregnancy. Some women just have it in the mornings. But some have it more often, like Aria is. Now let’s go find out, shall we?”

 


 

Aria’s eyes flew open as she stumbled out of bed, into the bathroom and lurched over the basin. Coughing and wheezing for a moment, she then took several gulps of water to clean out her mouth before slowly crawling back into bed and pulling the covers back around her.

She felt horrible.

Last night she had felt a little better after a small dinner of a soup that her Ada had sent up for her. But now she just wanted to crawl under the covers of her bed and die. It seemed like this aliment was never going to go away. Then she noticed something.

 Where was Legolas? If he had been in the suite, he could go get her Ada and perhaps he could make her better. But she doubted that Legolas was in the adjoining room to their bedroom. Hopefully he would be back soon.

She heard the door to her suite open and two different sets of feet walk in. within a few seconds, she felt the bed dip as a cool hand ran itself down her back.

“Go away,” she mumbled from under the covers, no wanting to be bothered – even if it was Legolas. Sleep was all she wanted now. Forget going to get her ada. He would tell her the same thing anyways.

“Sorry, meleth nin. But your Ada needs to examine you.” Legolas said pulling back the covers.

Aria sighed as she pushed herself up in the bed and extended her feet out as her Ada sat on the edge of the bed as Legolas stood up.

Elrond gently ran his hands along Aria’s arms, neck and upper body then moved towards her abdomen and stopped. He looked up at Legolas then moved his hands over Aria’s abdomen again.

“Iell nin, this might hurt for a moment, but I just need to feel for something.” Elrond said.

She nodded as Elrond began to gently poke and prod at her lower abdomen. After a few seconds, a smile crossed his face. “It is not a stomach ailment that ails you iell nin,” he said placing his hand against her cheek. “You are pregnant. I would say about a month a long. So probably either right before or right after you and Legolas arrived back in Imladris.”

Tears formed in her eyes as she looked from her Ada to her husband and back. “Really?” she asked with a smile on her face.

Elrond nodded as he stood up to allow Legolas to sit back down next to Aria. He watched as Legolas wrapped an arm around her, pulling her close to him and then gently kissing the top of her head as she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face against his chest. Elrond silently made his way from the room to allow the princely couple some privacy to savior the good news they had just been told.

“Aria?” Legolas gently asked after Elrond had left.

“Yeah?” she replied lifting her tear stained face from his tunic.

“I love you and our child,” he said.

“As do I,” she replied pulling him close for a kiss.