A/N: I think this is an abnormally long epilogue. Heh. But that's just me. Just a bit of fluff in the beginning b/c this story has been very angst-ridden as of late. I'm so sorry for updating this a month after the last chapter but real life just would not leave me alone! When exactly did Legolas arrive in Rivendell? How long were Legolas and Karalynn there for? Make your own guess. =) I wrote this before I even started on chapter one so the editing was hell!

But I digress.

Read on and enjoy!

Epilogue: Of Temptation and Fate

The halls of Rivendell were as breath-takingly beautiful as he remembered from his last visit.

White columns stretched up like marble hands raised in greeting towards the sky. A blanket of sweet smelling leaves and vines covered the outer walls of the center court and a large, finely detailed fountain stood proudly in the middle grounds, sprouting crystal clear water from a cherubian mouth.

Legolas smiled slightly, enjoying the feast of splendor with his eyes and the music created by the water in the fountain with his ears.

It was early in the morning, the sun was on the verge of rising up from its cradle below the horizon yet the land seemed radiant with a light all its own. The council was set for later on that day, after lunch, and he hoped that afterwards he would be able to better enjoy the glory of Rivendell. After all, it was only the second time he had been to Lord Elrond's realm and....

Legolas paused in his thoughts and raised his head.

Click clack click.

The faint sound of feet clad in thin soled slippers. Legolas turned from his place at the fountain and looked towards the open hallway where he had come from. A soft whoosh of fabric in the air accompanied the gentle footsteps and he tilted his head to the side, curious.

Click clack click.

The person was in a hurry. Most probably a female, since the footsteps were light and quick. The sound of clothing, well, that was most probably due to a long nightgown such as the ones that females wore, fluttering in the air. Not an elf, by the irregular sound of each step.

Of course if it were an elf, the steps would have been nearly imperceptible in the first place.

Ah, he heard soft breathing and Legolas now knew who it was that wandered about the hallways at this hour of morn. The sound of her breaths were familiar to him, as familiar as the feel of his bow in his hand.

The footsteps were coming closer and Legolas turned back around, smile growing wider. He leaned down and let the cool water from the fountain wash over his fingertips. He would pretend that he didn't hear her coming, just to please her. It was a small thing really but she delighted in thinking that she could creep up on her guardian elf.

The footsteps paused a little ways behind him and Legolas knew that she was now most likely raised up on the tips of her toes. He pictured her smiling, trying to bite back her giggles and trying to walk as quietly as possible.

She was right behind him now, he could almost hear her heartbeat and....

"Surprise Legolas!"

He whirled around just in time to catch the warm bundle that leapt into his arms. She giggled wildly, throwing her arms around his shoulders and he moved away from the fountain, clutching her tightly against his chest. He grinned and spun the girl around and around, feeling his heart soar as she laughed.

"I'm getting dizzy!" she exclaimed and Legolas immediately stopped spinning and stood still, setting her back down. His arms were still wrapped tightly around her waist though and she curled her fingers around a few strands of his golden hair.

"Good morning, Karalynn." he said warmly.

Karalynn smiled at him, tugging his hair in response.

"I woke up and went to your room but you weren't there." she said, staring up at him with her large, bright eyes. She spoke on without a breath. "I wanted to find you and sneak up on you but you turned around and..."

"Ah, a coincidence." he said with a wink. "I just happened to turn around at the moment you were going to leap on my back. I did not hear you approaching at all."

Karalynn grinned, satisfied with his small lie, and hugged him again. The soft fabric of her nightgown moved like satin against his neck and he could feel the warmth from her body emanating through the thin cloth.

He kept his face neutral and emotionless as she pressed her soft mouth against his cheeks, his brow, his jaw.

Sweet, chaste kisses that still had the power to leave him feeling weak and helpless. Warm, slightly moist lips against his smooth, velvet cheek.... ah, no, it would not do for him to think of her kisses as anything more than innocent.

This was simply her way of greeting him, had been her way always. Legolas knew that she was a tactile creature, always needing to touch and feel the things around her. He encouraged it most of the time, mainly because of the smile that formed on her lips when she 'discovered' something new. Every morning Karalynn would rush to greet him in this manner, with hugs and kisses, giggles and caresses. It was a routine that he had not grown tired of, despite the many years that had passed.

Finally she stepped back and held up a small object for him to see. In the rush of Karalynn's 'unexpected surprise' Legolas had not noticed that she had been holding something all the while.

"Look what Elladan has given me!" she said happily. "When I woke up, I found this on the foot of my bed with a note from him."

A doll.

Legolas took it from her hands and studied it carefully. The head, hands and feet were carved from a pale, lightweight sort of stone and the body was sewn of silk and stuffed to mimic the soft contours of a body. The hair was a shiny, black sort of fabric and the dress was in shades of blue and gray. The eyes were two small gray jewels, translucent and lovely to look at. Legolas held the doll up to the growing light of dawn and turned it slightly so that the eyes seemed to change colors.

Just like Karalynn's eyes.

It was a beautiful gift- a beautiful replica of the woman that stood before him.

"That was kind of Elladan." Legolas said, handing the gift back to Karalynn. She took it and cradled it in the crook of her arm as he had seen her do with many of her other dolls at home.

She held it like a mother would a babe.

"It was." she said, smoothing down the long black hair of the doll with one hand. "He even gave me a box of clothes for her. In all colors but mostly blue. He said that he noticed I wore blue a lot and I told him that my mother chose the color for me."

She glanced up at him briefly and smiled.

"I like Elladan. His voice is so pretty when he sings." she said. "Elrohir is nice, too. He made me laugh all throughout dinner last night! But he is not as nice nor as funny as you, Legolas. Elladan says that Lord Elrond's garden has flowers that are blue! Blue, Legolas! I have never seen blue flowers before. How can such a thing be? Could you take me there after your council, please? Only if you're not too busy afterwards, of course."

"I will never be too busy for you." he said. He pressed his lips against her forehead and he closed his eyes, hugging her tightly.

He felt her mouth open and close against his neck, bathing his skin in warmth and he smiled slightly.

She had yawned.

He drew back and raised one eyebrow. She rubbed her eyes with her free hand and blinked at him, her smile turning sheepish and slightly embarrassed. His eyes roamed over her hair, which was still tousled and tangled from sleep. Her long sky-colored dress was heavily wrinkled and when he looked down he saw that her slippers were on the wrong feet. She had a tendency to forget which slipper went on what foot when she was in a hurry.

"Perhaps you should go back to bed." he said, trying to keep himself from smiling widely. "There are others who might be awake now and it would not do for them to see a ragged human girl running about still in her nightgown. You are in the domain of Lord Elrond and there are many who have come here, like us, from across the land."

Karalynn's cheeks grew pink and the smile faded from her lips.

"Legolas, I didn't know that I looked that bad." she said, looking around worried that someone might indeed see her now. "I did clean my mouth. And I washed my face too- well, a little. Just a splash of water but... do I really look that horrible?"

Legolas knew that it was a worry to her that the other visitors in Rivendell would think less of her because of her appearance. She was so eager to make others happy that she did not realize she had no need to even try. The other elves in Rivendell had fawned and fussed over her almost immediately, surprised by her beauty and charmed by her seeming innocence.

He tucked his finger underneath her chin and lifted her head up so that they were eye to eye.

"You are as lovely as the sunset and as glorious as the dawn that approaches." he said seriously. "Perfect in every way. But I fear that you have stayed up too late last night and woken up too early this morning. Go back to bed, my love, go back to sleep. When you wake up, have Mithowen brush your hair and tie it back. You may play on your balcony this afternoon with your new doll, if you wish. After the council, we will take a walk in the garden of Lord Elrond but only if you promise to eat all of your vegetables at lunch."

Karalynn beamed and nodded.

"I promise!" she said happily. He tapped her on the nose and she kissed him on the cheek good-bye. She giggled and ran away back from where she came from, clutching her doll in one hand and the skirt of her gown with the other. Her long black hair trailed behind her like a banner and Legolas watched as she turned a corner and disappeared from his sight. A small smile lingered on his lips and for a moment, he stood still, feeling the ghosts of her kisses on his face.

"My brother spent half the night making that doll," a softly lilting voice said behind him. "He made the court seamstress sew a dozen dresses of silk and he picked the brightest jewels in his possession for her eyes. I am afraid that Elladan is determined on spoiling your charge."

Legolas chuckled softly and turned around to face Arwen, who approached him from a small distance. He had known she was there, watching his exchange with Karalynn. He had felt her presence as soon as she had come into the courtyard but said nothing to the girl about her elven observer.

Unlike Karalynn, she was already dressed in a day gown, beaded with pearls and gold thread. Her hair was drawn up in a simple yet elegant fashion and small jewels had been woven into the dark silken strands. Yet despite the finery and splendor of her clothing, it could not match the beauty in her face nor the kindness in her eyes. Though she walked with the grace and strength of Galadriel, there was a softer air about her. She exuded compassion and gentle wisdom.

"Legolas." she said, gliding silently towards him. She bowed her head slightly in greeting and he nodded back. "'Tis a pleasure to see you once again, dear friend."

"And it is an absolute joy to be in your presence once more, fair cousin." he said. Arwen laughed and held out her hands for him to hold.

"You call me fair yet it was your visage that held the awe of so many last night during dinner." she teased. "I am almost envious of your golden tresses, Legolas."

Legolas shook his head and laughed. He had missed Arwen and her soothing presence. She was the only one who had not given him looks of pity or sympathy since he had arrived in Rivendell with Karalynn and for that he was very grateful. Those who knew of Karalynn and her past treaded lightly around the subject, afraid to cause Legolas grief and pain but he would have preferred words to looks and stares.

"You have nothing to be envious of, dear lady," he said, squeezing her hand lightly. "I am but a poor, humble admirer of the Evenstar."

Arwen laughed sweetly at the exchange and Legolas found himself chuckling in response. It felt good to be around an old friend again. He had not seen her since she left for Lothlorien to study under Galadriel and he was glad that whatever added knowledge she had gained from her stay there had not changed her laughter.

"Legolas, you are still the charming elf I met so long ago." she said. "I am sorry that I could not speak to you in length last night. I am glad to see you but I wonder- my father was expecting Lohr to arrive, not the eldest son of the King."

Legolas' gaze became unfocused and distant and his expression was one of wistful thought.

Arwen watched him carefully.

"Aye, Lohr was the one whom my father had chosen to attend the council." he said. "But I have taken his place. Karalynn has not been out of Mirkwood since... well, for many years. As soon as she heard that Lohr was coming here, she begged him to take her along. Of course she could not go on such a long trip without me so Lohr decided to stay. There need be only one son from Mirkwood at the council after all and Lohr has his duties as a healer to attend to."

"So if it were not for her, you would not have come." Arwen stated quietly. Her dark blue eyes seemed disturbingly familiar to Legolas at that moment- they reminded him of Galadriel's eyes. Two fathomless pools of wisdom. Legolas looked at her strangely before nodding.

"You put it in an odd way, dear lady, but yes. I suppose it is true." he said. "If it were not for Karalynn's insistence, Lohr would be here instead of myself."

Arwen was silent for a moment but her expression seemed to be one of fulfilled expectance. Legolas found himself wondering what she was thinking and then decided that perhaps it would be best that he not ask. Arwen was younger than him, yes, but there was a sense of great power within her that he accepted. She had many gifts that Legolas knew of and he suspected that she had many more of which he was ignorant.

Legolas had learned long ago that there were some things better left unknown.

"It is fortunate that you have come to the council, Legolas, though it may not seem so at first." Arwen said. For a moment her eyes seemed to burn into him, like identical blue flames. And then the look was gone and in its place, her gentle smile and kind gaze. "Is your charge as soft hearted as the others have told me? I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting with her."

Legolas smiled, his face lighting up instantly at the mention of Karalynn.

"Yes, she is as gentle as a dove and as playful as a kitten. Without its claws, of course," he said. "And she would be delighted to meet with you, Arwen. I am sure that you did not miss the open-mouth look of wonder she was giving you all evening."

Arwen laughed and placed her hand on her chest, above the place where her heart beat.

"My brothers tell me that she is an angel of humans. In one night she has captured their fancy and I fear that she has taken my place in their hearts," she said, in mock horror. "Alas, your kitten has replaced me."

Legolas laughed, shaking his head.

"That will never happen, Arwen." he said. "You know this. You will forever be the lone jewel in their hearts."

"Yes, and she shall be yours." Arwen said.

The smile disappeared once more from his lips and he sighed heavily, looking away back towards the hallway where Karalynn had gone.

"Yes." he whispered, as he walked away from Arwen. "Forever."

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Legolas sat quietly, watching the proceedings before him.

The Council of Elrond.

As Elrond spoke, Legolas' sharp eyes were drawn to a slim silvery figure, twirling about on one of the balcony tops in the distance. He almost smiled then but thought better of it. It would not do for the Elven representative to smile when such dire news was at hand.

Karalynn spun around on the balcony, her arms open wide and a sweet, endearing smile on her lips. Mithowen had dressed her in one of the dresses that Kythe had packed for her and as far as Legolas could see, Karalynn's newly plaited hair was slowly coming apart as she moved. In her delicate hands was her new treasure- Elladan's gift.

Legolas watched her quietly as she danced and his eyes grew misty at the sight of her.

Nearly sixty years had passed since they had gone to Lorien and Karalynn had not aged one day. Her skin was as smooth as it always had been, her eyes as bright as ever and her form as young and slender. By all outward appearances she still remained, and forever would remain, a young woman, blessed with great beauty and elegance.

But her mind would forever be that of a child's. Aragorn had spoken with her and later told Legolas that her behavior was like that of a very bright seven year-old human child.

Her immortality was a blessing and curse, dual sides of the coin. It was a coin that they both shared.

Legolas knew that he was bound to her for the entirety of his life. He could not leave her for more than a few hours at a time and even now, though there was great danger involved, he had taken her to Rivendell. He simply could not refuse her anything. Though he had told Arwen that Karalynn could not go anywhere without him, in truth, it was the other way around. The thought of sending her away with Lohr had frightened him terribly- not because he was worried about any attacks or other such things, but because of what would happen to him if she was gone.

Her presence was like a soothing balm over all his troubles and worries- a cool hand over his hot brow at night and a warm embrace when the world around him grew cold. Legolas knew that he needed her more than she needed him, for what was he to her but an older brother or a good friend?

He was someone to merely watch over her when others would gladly take his place in her life.

She was a child to the elves of Mirkwood. Once they had learned of her story, Karalynn had endeared herself to them and they pampered and spoiled her as one of their own children. It was not hard, after all, for she was lovely and cheerful and full of joy just like any other elf child.

Kythe and Faran had become her foster parents. What need had they to have their own children when they already had Karalynn? Arwen was the last of the elves to be born but in Karalynn, the elves of Mirkwood had for themselves truly the youngest immortal.

Yes, everyone had grown to accept and care for her and Legolas felt the same way too but...

But Galadriel had been right.

Karalynn had been both his burden and his saving grace. He had tried to love her as the others did- without the silly notions of romance and with the purity of parental affection but it was too late for him. The moment he had made his decision in Lorien, he had sealed his fate. He was doomed to be in love with a woman-child who could never love him in the same way. She would never understand, never comprehend how he felt for her. Even if he could find the words to say, she would not be able to return his love. What child would? She would often cling to him, or hold him in ways that made his heart ache with longing for a forbidden touch, a stolen kiss, but he never gave into the temptation to take what he wanted. She was so trusting, so willing to make him smile that there was no doubt she would follow whatever command he gave.

But no, he would never do that to her.

He would never force himself on her.

He would never hurt her.

As Legolas listened half-heartedly to Gandalf, he watched the girl on the balcony still dancing with a light step. Another figure approached her- Arwen! Legolas blinked in surprise and focused all his attention there. Karalynn paused and tilted her head, walking up to the elf with an inviting smile and sweet gaze. She seemed calm on the surface but Legolas could see the slight tremble of her pale hands. Her fingers clutched her doll tightly, so tightly that he could almost feel the pressure of her hands on himself.

She was nervous.

( "Hello. You are Lady Arwen, aren't you? You sat a few seats away from me at dinner last night." )

( "Yes, I am. And yes, I did. You are Karalynn from Mirkwood, are you not?" )

Karalynn nodded and curtsied a bit awkwardly. Legolas sat up and watched the exchange with new interest. Karalynn had listened to his tales of Arwen with wide eyes and it was clear that the girl had idolized the older elf long before she had even laid eyes upon her. Meeting Arwen was one of the reasons why Karalynn had begged to go to Rivendell.

( "You are truly as beautiful as they say, Lady Arwen. Even more so. I… I am honored to be in your presence." )

Arwen laughed and tilted her head to the side.

( "I think the same about you, little one. I have looked forward to meeting with you since your arrival in Imladris." )

Karalynn's eyes grew even wider and she smiled brightly.

( "Really? Do you mean that? Legolas has told me so many things about you and… and… and now you're here in front of me. Is this a dream, Lady Arwen?" )

Arwen laughed again and she turned her eyes towards Legolas and winked. Ah, so Arwen was aware that he was watching. He nodded back slightly, so as not to draw attention to himself at the council.

( "Nay, little one. This is not a dream." )

Arwen held out her hands to the girl and smiled in invitation. Karalynn put the doll down on the floor beside her and took Arwen's hands.

( "But come, I have interrupted your dance. Let us continue it together." )

And the two began to twirl around, like children but only one was truly a child.

( "Legolas... he is... what is he to you, little one?" )

( "My protector and dearest friend." )

Karalynn sounded so proud as she said it and Legolas allowed himself to smile.

Just a little.

( "And that is all? Nothing more?" )

( "Oh, fair lady, I know not what you mean by 'nothing more.' Is that not enough? He is my world and I, his. I trust him completely. What more could there be between us? Is there anything better than friendship? I think not!" )

Legolas wanted to laugh- Karalynn was rebuking Arwen in her own way, not understanding the deeper meaning behind the other's words. His eyes slowly moved from the two on the balcony back to Elrond and Gandalf. It would soon be his turn to speak and tell his tale of Gollum and the escape. He needed to focus his mind on the things at hand though his heart longed to continue his study of the girl.

As Legolas listened, with full attention now, he realized what they were saying.

The whole of Middle Earth was in danger.

The world as he knew it was on the precipice of collapse.

His heart darkened with dread as all spoke on and at first he was unwilling to believe. Unwilling to even care. His eyes flew back to Karalynn, all sweetness and innocence, and a surge of guilt and pain washed over him. It was not only his world that was in danger- it was her world as well.

The world he had trapped her in, in his moment of selfish need.

Legolas knew- she did not belong with him but because of a moment of weakness and pain, he had forced her to become a captive to her own mind and to his greedy love. Legolas hated himself for binding her to him without her consent- for that is what he honestly thought he had done to her. And though she did not know what he had done (for the events at Lorien were also gone from her mind) Legolas knew and he carried the burden for the both of them. He remembered what she could not- he remembered Tristan and Matthew, he remembered the protection of the elements she had always, he remembered Galadriel's warning and most of all, he remembered their one night together. Their one moment of joining. The bond was real between them but he was the only one who knew of it. Legolas was her history, her memory, and her soul. He would be the container for all she had lost for that was what he felt he owed her.

It was his eternal torture for keeping her in Middle Earth.

For making the wrong decision.

But... if given the chance, would he have decided differently? Would he have had the strength to let her go back to her world, to let her die in peace? Could he have chosen differently, knowing that he would never see her face again, hear her laughter, or feel her touch? It was this question that had plagued him, day after day, for so long. The question brought him pain because of the answer that his heart always gave.

No

He mourned for this one weakness in his spirit.

And now, Karalynn's world was in danger and Legolas would not allow it come to an end. It had not been her choice to stay but it was her home, nevertheless.

He would protect her world or die trying.

He watched as Aragorn walked up to the strange, little halfing with the large, misery-filled eyes and listened as the man made his pledge.

And Legolas knew what he had to do.

Though he could not bear to be away from her, it was a sacrifice he had to make now. A sacrifice he should have been able to make years ago. This was the only world she had and if it fell into chaos then he would never be worthy of her. Never be rid of the guilt that he wore moment by moment.

Atonement.

Salvation.

It all came down to this one moment. To this one choice.

( "It is fortunate that you have come to the council, Legolas, though it may not seem so at first." )

He knew what he had to do. Legolas knew that Lohr would have never done what he was about to do. Arwen had known then as Galadriel had, all those many years ago. Was this what his fate had been leading up to? This choice? What forces had driven him this far and did he ever really have a choice at all?

None of these questions mattered much in Legolas' mind. Answers would bring him no peace- only Karalynn ever brought that. He would leave her now so that he could be with her forever. That was the only resolution he wanted.

He stood up before he could think twice and opened his mouth, speaking the four words that would finally bring into being the full price of the decision he had made in Lothlorien.

"You have my bow."

A/N:

Whoosh! I can't believe it's finally over! I don't think I can thank everyone enough for sticking through this story with me.

:: Big hugs to all of you ::

This was my very first LotR fic so I was incredibly nervous each time I posted a new chapter. I was seriously biting my nails every time I got a review, afraid that someone would scream bloody murder at me for getting some detail wrong. Thank you all for being so kind, so patient, and so supportive! While it would take days to write out specific thank you's, I think that the (very) least I can do is to point out those who have reviewed. Here goes!

Big thanks to: ElsalhirErestar, Lady Katanya, Jazz, LilOne, Dove6987, Orphelia-Rose, GreyLadyBast, ievandie, Yavanna, Nichole, Nunuariel, Nunuariel, Jac'Kee, Rissa Lyrelle, Star, Rune, T. Roma Baldwin, Starrose, C-Bear, Alexeika2222, Electra292, Chibi Chingo, zackzsilverangel, Fragmentor, Ray of Hope, Azure, Elentari, Leanna, Silver Hawk, Silelen, DragonQueen, Lady Alarien, Urebriviel, ruinamlug, schlechte-idee99, Fic-Chik, Aldis, Nevlomeien, CherryCola, Mornaj, schlechte-idee99, Broken Fae, Lady Alarien, Lady Celeste, Sandman, Mica-Trunks, Katie, Beatrice, RainySunshine, Elvengirl, Freakage, MidnightsFairy, Lady Viviane, starbright, melinzi, WinterRose Greenleaf, Freakage, Aldrea, Summer, gapofrohan, Relena Lupin, Daphne, Laicalasse, silver-girl, Shan, Pseudonym Sylphmuse, Mendy (who I hope I did not offend with my use of Psalm 23 =), K-Chan, Mornaj, Daphne, Bobbie, teen_ah, ola, darkfeather22, GrinningContrivance, Renegade, Melika, Lee, Shalemni, Lady Death Cat, Lady Tykeria, Goddess-Isis-112, Black Pearl, Aaahh!! (is that really your pseudonym? Heh), Lanfear, MK, Jade Goddess, Spiffy_One, aga_xris, Little Ray of Moonlight05, Baby JJ, Avarcaliel, Dominique, Kumiko Eharu, Reina, ola, Bina, Hana, mystic roses, Starbrat, Dog chases tail (love the name! LoL), Diana in Texas, Avianca, Im A Brandybuck, Merii, Bookworm12357, Syrenwytch, elv3n, Iden's Garden, Depth, JamieGirl, Crystal, The Elfin Child, Nova S., Jessica, Karen, Starlight, Deepy, Volcan of Dragonfire, Zeriae, Bella, Thiliaen, Horse.Crazed.Chik, Parallel Dreamer, doodlebug, hmsgirl, Liv, Princess Istawen, Swingkid, and last but not least, Aznchick- who left the longest review I have ever had the pleasure of reading! =)

( I may have written a few names twice but hey, I'm thorough! Heh….)

Some of you have been asking me if 'Fall' will be continued. Nope! It's a one shot fic which means that the first chapter is the only chapter. Thanks for asking though!

Will there be a sequel? Hmm… I don't know. I think "In Wonderland" stands alright by itself. However… I have figured out a way to make this a relatively happy ending though it takes place after the 'Return of the King.' I'm afraid that if I do write a sequel, "In Wonderland" might be dragged out for too long a time. Does that make sense?

I do have another story I'm trying to work out… but I might offend all the Bible purists even more, seeing as how I'd be using it heavily as a reference. I mean, hey, who said the Devil was male? It's definitely not a romance. It's actually a bit creepy… but I don't know.

What do you guys think?

Sequel or new story?

I leave it in your hands.