Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings and I write this story as an avid fan with no profit or gain.
A/N: Well, this is the end. I never expected this story to become so long, but I couldn't help it. Lauriel just became so much more of a character than I anticipated and I'll miss her. Thank you to everyone who followed this story and for patiently enduring the long update waits.
Most importantly, thank you to Eryniel Alasse! She is an incredible beta, supporter, and friend.
Lauriel stared into the mirror and chuckled.
"What's so funny?" Yessenia stood behind her daughter and eyed their reflections.
"We look so…" Lauriel motioned towards the mirror helplessly. "This is not how I pictured us on my wedding day."
"You're right, this is very different. Instead of helping my little girl, I'm stuck here with you – an elf princess who has a crown that refuses to cooperate with your hair!" Yessenia huffed and began to fuss with the ornate circlet once more. "There, I think I finally got it. Hold still."
Stepping away, Yessenia examined her work. With a satisfied nod, she turned away, tucking some hair behind her newly pointed ear, and reached for the veil. It was long and covered with meticulously sewn flowers and swirls. "I meant to pass on my mother's veil, but I suppose this one will have to do. It wasn't exactly on my list of things to pack when we left the house for Blue Lite. I'm sorry, mija."
"Mamá." Lauriel's voice trembled with emotion. Her mother had done nothing in her spare time but sew. "It's perfect."
"I'm glad you like it." Yessenia beamed before lowering the front of the sheen material over Lauriel's face and chest. "There, now you're a bride of both worlds."
That was one way to describe Lauriel's appearance. Her veil and gown were of modern fashion, while her hair and circlet were of elf influence. The marriage braid remained prominent in the elegant updo prepared by Tiriel, and the circlet was the most ornate she'd ever worn – its gold woven into graceful twists with emeralds and rubies placed throughout. Lauriel blinked at her reflection, her golden eyes warming with pleasure and excitement. Her eyes wandered to watch her mother's reaction to her finished appearance.
Lauriel groaned, "Mama! Don't cry!"
Yessenia scoffed and dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief. "Damn it, my makeup."
"I'm surprised you haven't run out of eyeliner yet. It's been months; how do you still have some?" Lauriel stood and gently smoothed out her gown. Careful not to trip on its train, she stepped away from the vanity and gave her mother a hug. "You look beautiful."
"I've been saving it up for today," Yessenia admitted. "And thank you, darling, but no one is as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day."
The two stayed there, holding each other, and fighting the urge to cry when a knock at the door ended the moment. They withdrew and Lauriel called, "Come in!"
"Everyone is seated and ready." Anthony's voice announced his presence before the door opened enough to reveal the handsome groomsman.
Lauriel grinned at her older brother and he shifted uncomfortably. "What are you staring at?"
"You look quite dashing in that…'dress' of yours." Lauriel winked.
"Honey." Yessenia beamed and gave her a son a kiss on the forehead, leaving a red lipstick mark behind. "You look so handsome, even in a dress."
"Tunic." Lauriel rolled her eyes.
"It's a dress," Anthony grumbled and rubbed his palm roughly at the lipstick. The red smeared and stuck. His mother rolled her eyes and used her handkerchief to remove the mark. As she wiped, Anthony whistled lowly as his eyes roamed up and down the bride.
"Man, never thought I'd see my little sister wearing a crown on her wedding day," he remarked.
"What did you think I would look like?" she countered, curious. "Didn't realize my brother would even think about that sort of thing."
Freed from his fussing mother, Anthony bent over and adjusted her gown's train so that it was fully spread. "Of course I did," he muttered. "As your older brother, it's my sacred sibling duty to give your husband hell. I used to daydream about tripping or knocking your fiancé over at the wedding but when you got engaged to my best friend… I couldn't help but daydream about punching Scott again. In those daydreams, you were there, so yeah, I thought about your appearance."
"What did I look like?"
"Uhh…" He shrugged. "You were wearing a white dress?"
She scoffed. "So descriptive."
Yessenia frowned and warned, "You'd better not even think about punching Legolas during the ceremony."
"I promise not to punch the pretty boy prince during the ceremony." Anthony mock-saluted her.
Lauriel didn't like his innocent tone and narrowed her eyes. "Anthony…"
He simply smiled and pushed her gently towards the door. "Come on, Dad's waiting. Well, everyone is waiting and you don't want to keep a bunch of kings, queens, wizards, and basically your entire kingdom waiting."
"No pressure." Lauriel took a deep breath.
Anthony laughed, "No pressure."
They passed through the door and Lauriel's nerves lessened when she saw her father jump away from the stone wall he leaned against. Kevin Harris stared at his daughter, unsure of what to say.
"What do you think of the veil?" Yessenia asked nervously.
Kevin regained his senses and looked down, embarrassed by the gloss that had formed over his eyes. Clearing his throat, he nodded stiffly, "It looks wonderful, reminds me of your mother's veil–"
"Yes!" Yessenia kissed him abruptly on the mouth and squeezed his face between her palms. "That's exactly what I hoped you'd say."
Chuckling, Kevin allowed himself to be kissed again before looking back at his daughter. Yessenia released him with a knowing smile and Kevin approached the bride slowly, almost cautiously. "You look… wow."
"You clean up rather nicely too." Lauriel beamed. "Your tunic came out quite nicely. You look so handsome, Dad."
"I didn't think I'd be wearing a damn dress when I walked you down the aisle," he sighed softly. "But now that I'm an elf, I guess I can't say shit."
"Alright, from now on you're all going to start calling them tunics." Lauriel shook her head at her family's stubbornness. "Not dresses!"
"Just because it's your special day, I'll agree," Anthony said.
"Fine." Yessenia threw up her hands in surrender. "Tunics it is."
"Whatever you want, honey," Kevin soothed. "Alright, it's showtime. Anthony, run ahead and let them know we're coming."
"And remember," Yessenia said as her son dashed off, "no punching!"
"Don't ask," Lauriel muttered to her father, then squared her shoulders. "Let's do this."
"Let's do this," her father repeated, standing tall himself. He offered his arm and she took it with slightly trembling hands. His eyes missed nothing and he whispered, "I won't let you fall."
"I'm not worried about falling," she answered back quietly while her mother led the way. "I just don't like so many people staring at me."
"Just keep your eyes on Legolas and you won't even notice," he offered kindly. "When I saw your mother walking down the aisle, I forgot where we were. We only saw each other and I know it'll be the same for you."
"Yeah, but sometimes cheesiness can be the truth."
"Thanks, Dad." She squeezed his arm. They followed Yessenia around a corner and approached two large, grand doors where the wedding party awaited them. The group turned and cheered loudly at their arrival. Lauriel's cheeks turned scarlet at the men's catcalls and whistles.
Kevin's threatening glare silenced the rowdy groomsmen and the bridesmaids stepped forward, all fussing over their friend. Lauriel's veil was straightened out, her dress' trail positioned to flow freely behind her, and a bouquet of vibrantly colored flowers placed into her right hand.
"Wow!" Anna grinned. "You look amazing, Lauriel!"
"The most beautiful bride in the history of Middle Earth," Tiriel declared, eyeing the updo proudly. "Legolas may faint."
"Our prince is strong; I have faith he will stay standing." Calairiel shook her head in disbelief. "How times have changed. When you first came to Mirkwood, you wanted nothing to do with my prince who so fervently chased your heart. Now you are wed! You are far too stubborn for your own good."
"The most stubborn creature I have ever met," Mallosdis seconded and then reconsidered, glancing at her daughter. "Well, perhaps the second most stubborn."
"Mother!" Cuilwen protested as she blushed. "Please. Don't embarrass me before the bride."
"Embarrass you?" Mallosdis clicked her tongue. "Nonsense. You forget who exactly the bride is! She is the one who saved our family the day she killed the troll that crushed your father's body. She was there when you born into this world and wiped your behind as a babe–"
"Mother!" Cuilwen's blush deepened and she nearly dropped her basket of flower petals.
Mallosdis gave Lauriel a mischievous wink but left her daughter alone.
"Okay, okay!" Scott motioned the bridesmaids away. "Let the bride breathe!"
Lauriel couldn't help but feel her stomach knot up at the sight of her old friend and lover. Scott seemed to sense her unease and leaned in, his face full of raw sincerity and love as he murmured quietly, "There was a time where I thought it'd be me waiting on the other side of these doors. Times change, people change. Even though I'm not the groom, I'm glad to be here on your wedding day. Legolas is a lucky man–"
"–Elf," Anthony coughed. "He's got pointy ears just like you."
Scott gave his best friend a look of annoyance then stared intently at Lauriel again. "It's been a long time coming, but you're finally getting the happy ending you deserve."
"T-Thank you, Scott," Lauriel said breathlessly. Her unease disappeared as gratitude and joy replaced it. Her eyes watered dangerously and she felt her throat tighten.
"No more heartfelt confessions!" Gimli warned from where stood between Big B and Aragorn. "We can't have Legolas seeing Lauriel crying before she even steps foot inside!"
"Good point." Yessenia shooed them all with a wave of her hands. "Positions, everyone! It's just like we rehearsed."
"Rehearsed four times," Big B grumbled. "I could've been out hunting spiders instead."
"Shut up, Benjamin," Anna scoffed. "Just because you're a Beorning now doesn't mean you always have to be in animal form. You're still a man too, and a man with responsibilities!"
"Uh, your son is over there, not right here,l." Big B pointed to himself. "Don't mother me, you sassy redhead. I'm just saying weddings shouldn't be so complicated to need four rehearsals."
"The complexity of your realm's wedding ceremony is interesting," Aragorn remarked.
"Are you boys complaining?" Yessenia's voice had a sharp edge.
"Of course not," the king of Gondor answered smoothly.
"No, ma'am!" Big B hastily joined the others in taking their places in line. The paired partners crossed arms, the bridesmaids grabbing their miniature bouquets and the men checking the single flower pinned to their tunics. First in line was the maid-of-honor Tiriel and best man Aragorn; they were followed by Mallosdis and Scott; then Yessenia and Gimli, who held hands regally to account for the height difference; then Calairiel and Big B; and finally Anna with Anthony. After the groomsmen and bridesmaids came Jim, who held hands with a bored-looking Robert, the boy holding a pillow in his other hand with two rings at the center.
"Remember," Jim told the boy, "walk next to me and don't drop the rings!"
Cuilwen giggled as the young boy responded with a whiny, "Yes!" She was last in line before Lauriel and Kevin, and her fingers already dipped into the basket, ready to drop flower petals onto the path for the bride. She was just over a decade old, but already the little elleth girl proved to be lovely. Lauriel couldn't help but laugh, knowing that Orophin and his brothers would have their hands full fighting off suitors.
"Glad to see you've relaxed," Kevin whispered, watching his daughter laugh to herself.
"I've realized how impossible it is to be anything but happy with this crazy group," she said, eyeing the vastly diverse wedding party.
"They need to be crazy to keep up with you."
"Are you calling me crazy?"
"Honey, you're half your mother and half me. Crazy doesn't even begin to cover it."
They grinned at each other and then looked forward as the doors opened, revealing the massive hall beyond. Mirkwood's glow fell upon the group and the chimes of soft music met their ears. One by one, the group stepped forward and began the walk down the hall. Lauriel watched as Cuilwen seemed to glide forward, dropping petals prolifically.
"Here we go," Kevin announced quietly. "Ready?"
"I've been ready for a long time," Lauriel answered and stepped forward in sync with her father. After a few moments, she was fully immersed into the hall and let her eyes roam the numerous tables lined up to her right and left. Everyone stood, dipping their heads respectfully as she passed, some outright bowing to the waist or kneeling. She flushed, her hold tightening on her father's arms when she realized that they were all staring at her. Her hold relaxed, though, when she began to see familiar faces.
Elladan and Elrohir watched her with identical grins, standing amidst the Rivendell party. Next she noticed the Lothlórien party, where Beriadan gave her a small wave. Her golden eyes moved to the three elves next to him, all so similar in features. The brothers stood in order of age with Rúmil first, who boldly winked at her, then Orophin, who regarded her warmly, and finally Haldir. The Marchwarden stood proudly as ever and his cold face betrayed nothing…but his eyes said everything. Their blue orbs were brilliant and cold, but she recognized the tenderness within them. There was not a trace of bitterness or malice in them, just pure and unconditional love for his friend. Haldir dipped his head in not a bow, but a subtle nod, and Lauriel smiled at him, grateful for his support.
She forced herself to look away to the other side of the aisle, where her smile turned into surprised laughter. Standing at their table, a group of dwarves cheered loudly as they held up their goblets towards her in a toast. Tallest of them all was Dvalin – formally David MacTavish – and he catcalled without shame. Lauriel raised her bouquet to them in a meeting toast and they all roared approvingly before drinking heavily. It was then she saw the four hobbits, shorter and hidden by their dwarven companions, also at the table. Frodo stood smiling while Sam simply stared, almost bewildered by the whole occasion. Merry and Pippin held up their own drinks to her, both laughing loudly.
"Maybe I should've been a dwarf," Kevin muttered and guided his daughter forward. Lauriel's eyes drifted fully ahead, sweeping past the front row of spectators where the most powerful beings of Middle Earth stood for her. Lady Galadriel, Lord Celeborn, Lord Elrond, King Thranduil, Gandalf, King Éomer, King Aragorn, and the soon-to-be Queen Arwen made an impressive and striking group. Anyone in their right mind would have remembered to bow when passing such a lineup, but Lauriel barely noticed them at all because her eyes saw him.
Every sense was honed in on the elf who stood at the front of the ceremony, flanked by their closest friends and family. He stood tall and shone like a beacon – glowing in his fine tunic and perfectly kept hair. Legolas was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen and Lauriel felt the world fall away as he smiled at her. Her own smile changed, transforming from a nervous excitement to one of pure love and joy. She could feel him, his very essence, and the feeling only grew stronger with each step closer. It was if he pulled her towards him, his soul calling out to hers.
Kevin brought them a stop and watched as his daughter remained blissfully ignorant of her surroundings, her gaze lost to a sea of warm blue. Slowly, he turned Lauriel away so that she faced him again and she blinked slowly as if coming out of a dream.
"I love you," he said quietly and separated himself so his hands were free. He slowly lifted her veil away from her face and brushed it back, fully revealing her to the world. "I don't care how old we get; you'll always be my little girl."
"I love you too, Dad," Lauriel's voice cracked as she fought tears.
With a sad smile, Kevin took the bouquet from his daughter's hands and turned her once more, offering her to Legolas. The prince swept in, taking her hands into his own, and the two were once against lost to one another. Sighing, Kevin turned and handed the flowers to Tiriel who took them dutifully. With his part now complete, the retired admiral stepped down and took his place besides King Thranduil. The two fathers regarded each other silently and then moved their eyes forward, both understanding the other. It was difficult to understand the swirl of pride, sadness, happiness, loss, and gain as a father seeing his child wed.
Derek, dressed in his fine wizard's cloak, whispered to the couple before him, "Ready?"
Not taking their eyes off each other, the bride and groom both nodded. Derek chuckled and loudly knocked his staff against the floor twice, signaling the start of the ceremony.
Anthony Harris had yet to leave his seat. He remained planted on it as his dark brown eyes continuously swept over the feast. Occasionally, he drank from his wine, but otherwise did nothing else but watch…everything. There was so much to see and hear. While he did feel a bit guilty for his self-imposed isolation at the head table, Anthony felt more comfortable here than anywhere else. Everyone had left the table to mingle, dance, and enjoy the festivities. He was still new to this world and preferred to observe than participate. He eyed his sister, watching as she dutifully greeted the line of well-wishers and guests at Legolas' side. She looked so different, but exactly the same. Gone were her thick muscles and dark features. Instead, his sister was a tall, lean beauty that looked too much like him now. The light of the hall caught the circlet on her head and Anthony took a deep drink of his wine. Lauren…no, Lauriel was a damned princess now. His little sister, the ultimate tomboy, looked and acted the part with apparent ease.
"Drinking alone at a wedding?" a gruff voice asked. "Now that's just sad."
Anthony turned to see the abnormally tall dwarf collapse into the chair beside him. He regarded the former Army man for a long moment. "You're David MacTavish, aren't you?"
The dwarf held out his hand. "Call me Dvalin."
"Anthony." The two shook hands.
Dvalin waved his hand over the hall, "So what do you think of all this? Gotten your head wrapped around this world yet?"
"Not even close."
"I've been in this world nigh on fifteen years," Dvalin said. "There's some days where I don't even think about Earth. And just when I think I have this place figured out, I learn something new. It'll take some time, but you'll feel like you belong soon enough."
"As long as I have my family, I'm happy. So my sister says you used to work together?"
"Yeah," Dvalin chuckled, "I headed the security team at Blue Lite. Lauriel was – and I mean this as a compliment – one of the biggest pains in my ass. She's one tough cookie."
Anthony laughed loudly. "Oh, you have no idea. When we grew up, there were times I feared for my life. She's terrifying if she wants to be. She got that from our parents."
He looked to the side of the hall, where the musicians waited with horrified expressions on their faces as King Thranduil and Yessenia argued fiercely. Anthony shifted uncomfortably as his ears picked up the words easily, still unaccustomed to his new body.
"No!" Yessenia snapped. "We will play one of Earth's songs for the first dance."
King Thranduil lowered his face dangerously close to hers. "I will not break thousands of years of tradition."
Yessenia drew herself up and did not flinch away from the king as she hissed, "What the bride wants, the bride gets."
"Your daughter is now–"
"She's your daughter now too and not your prisoner, despite your best efforts."
Thranduil's eyes flashed dangerously, "She is now princess of this realm and as such, she must respect our traditions and rules."
"Well, your traditions and rules can kiss my ass!"
Several of the musicians gasped audibly while another few flinched away, knowing full well that no one spoke to the king like that and lived. King Thranduil's face tightened and glowed a furious red. Magic sparked off him and he opened his mouth to unleash –
Before the king could even respond, Yessenia was already continuing, "Now that we have that settled, we need to resolve the shortage of wine. The dwarves have drunk far more than we expected and soon we'll be out of the red wine. I suggest we have four more barrels brought up and two more placed on reserve. Also, don't forget that you will be dancing with Lauriel soon, so don't even think about getting drunk before then. Oh! Tiriel darling, can I get your help with final preparations for the cake?"
Distracted with a new task, Yessenia walked off. Thranduil was left leaning forward in shock, his sharp eyes following the tanned elleth who had failed to even bat an eyelid at his rage. The musicians gaped at their dismissed king and one even dropped his flute. The wooden instrument clanged loudly against the floor.
A hand patted Thranduil's back roughly and he snapped upright, glaring at the consoling Kevin. "Don't mess with the mother of the bride."
"How have you survived being married to that beast?" the king snarled.
Kevin chuckled, "Yessenia is one of a kind. She protects her own… We're family now so she can either be your greatest ally or your fiercest enemy. It's up to you."
"Family." The elf king said the word as if testing it out for the first time. He gave a low growl at the still shocked and eavesdropping musicians, who all suddenly became busy with their instruments and sheet music. Thranduil's eyes turned away to look to his son. They softened when Legolas kissed his wife on the head, his arm wrapped securely around her waist.
Dvalin whistled lowly, returning Anthony's attention to the table. "I don't know what all that was about, but damn. I knew your dad had to be a tough son of a bitch but your mom… Don't think I've ever seen anyone shut the elf king down like that. Huh, it's actually kind of hot."
Anthony's eyes narrowed. "Careful. That's my mother."
"Oh, don't I know it. No wonder Lauriel has some good looking–"
"And this," Anthony interrupted as he refilled his goblet, "is why I was drinking alone."
The dwarf grinned. "I'm just giving you a hard time, man. Loosen up. I know you're an elf now, but don't get a stick up your ass like the rest of them…" Dvalin paused. "How exactly did it go for you? Lauriel and I took years to change but rumor has it the Valar themselves transformed you instantly. That true?"
Anthony eyed the dwarf thoughtfully. Lauriel and the others seemed to trust him, and Anthony didn't give a shit if elves and dwarves apparently despised each other. Shrugging, he replied, "Yes, although they didn't say anything to me. One moment I'm getting shot during a mission and the next my dad is waking me up and telling me I'm in another world where monsters are real, he's back from the dead, my family and friends ended a war – and oh, my sister is alive and back and better yet, now royalty of an immortal race."
"Yeah. It was super fun," Anthony said sarcastically.
"Did you wake up with those?" Dvalin pointed up to Anthony's pointed ears.
"Yeah, freaked me out like hell."
"Oh, I know the feeling. When I started to shrink, I thought I was losing my mind or dying."
"H-How…" Anthony cleared his throat. "How did you adapt? This whole world is just so different. I missed so much time when I was in that coma. I missed so much. I feel like I don't know anyone or anything anymore."
Dvalin gave his companion a long look. He reached into his pocket and withdrew a flask. "I was going to give this to your sister, but you seem to need it more."
Anthony took the flask and opened it. He sniffed it, then gagged out, "What the hell is this?"
"Dwarves like to drink." Dvalin grinned. "A lot. That, my friend, is my wife's family recipe."
"But what is it?"
Dvalin shook his head. "I actually don't know. I just drink it. Although…" He tapped his chin thoughtfully as Anthony took a cautious sip and promptly choked. "…'Acid' might be closest to the truth."
"Shit!" The other man closed the flask and put it on the table. "Dwarves don't mess around."
"No, we don't. Listen man, you're going to be fine. You have a lot to learn about this world, but if you're anything like Lauriel, then I know you're going to find yourself. She's a fighter." The dwarf's tone sobered. "It's what kept her alive all these years, through the heartache, terror, war… It's also what led her to Legolas."
"Yeah." Anthony watched his sister laughing at something her husband had said. "I haven't had much time to speak to him, but he clearly makes her happy."
A thoughtful silence came over the pair. "You know," Dvalin said quietly, "I wouldn't be alive if it weren't for my wife. I wasn't kidding when I said I thought I was dying or going crazy when I began to change. The dwarves were already suspicious of me so when I changed, they thought it was dark magic or worse. My wife didn't, though, and stayed by my side for everything. You're lucky. You have your parents, your best friend, your sister, and now her allies to guide you. They'll help you adapt."
"Is your wife here?"
"There she is, over there." Dvalin pointed to a group of dwarves huddled around a table, playing some sort of card game…
Anthony's eyes widened. "A-Are they playing Kings?!"
"Your sister has changed Middle-Earth in more ways than you know. Because of her, Kings is one of the most popular drinking games in Erebor now. My wife is wearing the blue gown, with the gold trimmings."
After a quick scan of the clothing, Anthony picked out the dwarf easily. She sat with her back to them but she was thinner than the other dwarves. Her hair was long and curly, reaching to her hips. She turned around as if sensing their attention, and Anthony struggled to keep his composure as their eyes met. She smiled, her lips full and her cheeks warm from the night's drinking.
"She…" Anthony considered his choice of words. "She isn't what I expected."
Dvalin winked at his wife, who winked back before returning to the game. "I was horrified when I first met the dwarves. I couldn't tell the women and men apart! I mean, how messed up does that sound? The women have beards and are just as stout as the men. It was horrible. But you get used to it and you learn to see beauty from their perspective. My wife is smaller than the others and never grew facial hair. She was shunned for it, just as I was shunned for being a tall dwarf. The other dwarves found us ugly, but we thought we'd never met someone so beautiful. She likes to think that the Valar meant for us to find each other."
"Will you both come with us, then?" Anthony asked. "To Ithilien?"
"Yes, and we are not alone. My wife's kin and many other dwarves will join us." Dvalin answered. "It's a fine idea."
"Dr. Williams – I mean, Derek – came up with it. Since this wedding brought so many leaders together, it was easy to get everyone on board."
"Aragorn was alright with seceding part of his kingdom?"
"With the war over, it's open for reclaiming. It would be a province of Gondor, but Aragorn offered it. Éomer also volunteered a province in Rohan, but Derek thinks Ithilien sends more of a message. We'll be building the future from a land regained."
"Wow," Dvalin nodded. "Seems like Aragorn and Éomer's reputations are true. They must be good men."
"They are." Anthony frowned slightly. "Although Éomer flirts way too much with Lauriel for my liking. Legolas doesn't even seem to care."
"That's because he doesn't." A new voice joined the conversation. The two watched as a very drunk Anna plopped herself down into an empty seat. "Your sister had her choice of suitors and she chose him. As we all know, when Lauriel makes her decision, it's done."
"Wait." Anthony held up a hand. "What the hell do you mean my sister had her choice of suitors?"
"No one told you about the Marchwarden? Or Beridian? Or-" Anna giggled when Anthony grabbed the flask and took a dangerously long swig.
"Okay," he rasped through the burning. "Tell me who I need to beat up."
"Alright." Lauriel shook her head. "I officially hate being royalty. I'm done."
Legolas laughed, "Well, that was a short-lived career."
"How?" She stared at him. "How did you grow up shaking so many hands, remembering a million names, and looking happy while you do it?"
"Most days are normal, I promise. Today is an exception."
"I know," Lauriel sighed. "I just didn't think I'd spend most of my wedding day at the greeting line."
"Well, technically you spent your wedding day in battle at Helm's Deep."
"True. I suppose compared to fighting for your life, greeting lines aren't that bad."
"Not bad at all," Legolas agreed. "Come, let's see if we can't sneak some cake."
"My mother will kill us."
"Only if we get caught."
"Oh," Lauriel whispered huskily, "I like you."
"I like you too." Legolas kissed her and then groaned. "Forget the cake. Perhaps we can sneak away for some private time and–"
"Sorry to interrupt," someone said, though they didn't sound sorry at all.
Guiltily, the couple looked to see an amused Derek. He leaned against his staff and sighed dramatically, "Oh, to be young again."
"Uh…" Lauriel looked him up and down. "You are young again."
The wizard blinked. "Ah, quite right. I'd forgotten."
Lauriel tried not to punch the interrupting wizard. "What can we do for you?"
"There's someone I'd like you to meet." Derek smiled and stepped to the side. Revealed behind him was a…
Lauriel and Legolas gaped at the hobbit. She was taller than a normal hobbit, closer to a dwarf's height, and her silky black hair was cropped short in a modern bob. Even stranger were her slanted eyes and soft Asian features.
"Hello." The hobbit seemed unfazed by their reactions. "My name is Dr. Laura Chung."
"I remember you!" Lauriel stepped forward, her voice full of disbelief. "You…you were the doctor at Blue Lite."
"Chief medical director and researcher," Derek corrected. "She came to visit me sometimes when you were on guard."
"It's a pleasure to see you again. I've had time to meet your family and friends, but not the lucky couple. Call me Laura." The hobbit smiled.
"Laura." Legolas stepped forward and shook her hand politely. "You are most welcome!"
"Beautiful wedding," Laura remarked, then turned and shook Lauriel's hand. "Thank you for having me."
"So…" Lauriel exhaled. "This solves the great mystery then? We found all the survivors in Middle Earth."
Derek nodded, "Laura is the last survivor. It seems that Gandalf was correct in his guess. The original survivors were spread amongst the races. You for elves, David for dwarves, Anna for men, and Laura for hobbits. As for brave Greer, it will remain a mystery. Perhaps he was meant to be the wizard I am now."
"You landed in the Shire then?" Legolas asked their new guest.
"Yes, I was very lucky. The door dropped me just outside a farm belonging to a kind family. They introduced me to the village, where I became the healer. After my body changed I knew I would never return home, so I founded a school of medicine. The Shire folk keep to themselves, so I never knew there were other survivors. When rumors of war and warriors from another realm reached us, I set out to find answers. Derek found me on my way to Gondor and brought me here. He says that you have an idea I may be interested in?"
Legolas and Lauriel exchanged surprised, impressed looks. Then, Lauriel nodded and explained, "The war is over and Sauron is dead. Middle-Earth enters a new age and we have the chance to make it the best one that has ever been. We are forming a new kingdom in Ithilien where all are welcome. It will be a place where the knowledge of two worlds converge, cultures mingle, and all races live together."
"All races?" Laura did not hide her puzzlement. "Middle Earth exists with countries separated by race. Who will come to found this new kingdom?"
"Kings Aragorn and Éomer will send volunteer builders, farmers, and merchants to help found the country. Anna will also spread word that all men are welcome to travel from their lands. Most of her village has already decided to come. The elves that do not wish yet to sail across the sea are welcome to join my family there to seek a new life when their cities empty. The travelers from Mirkwood will be led by Legolas and myself, those from Lothlórien by Marchwarden Haldir and his brothers, and those from Rivendell by Elrond's sons, Elladan and Elrohir. As for dwarves, we already have several families coming from Erebor, led by David MacTavish. The rest of my family and friends are coming too."
"And now you hope that I will join?"
"We do," Legolas affirmed. "We want the Shire folk to know they are welcome and have a place in this new land."
"Also, we hope you would continue sharing your medical knowledge. The goal is for Earth and Middle-Earth to merge their skills and knowledge for future generations. You could move your school and teach new students about modern medicine. Shared with elven healing, the medical possibilities are endless. Derek plans on opening a school of science to teach modern engineering and mathematics."
"And you?" Laura tilted her head, examining the pair. "What do you plan to do in this new land? Will you be the rulers?"
"Hell no." Lauriel grimaced. "I'll be helping my brother and friend, Scott, form and train guards. If I have time, I'd like to give violin lessons too."
"I will also be helping, but with the archery lessons," Legolas added.
"So who will lead the kingdom? It will be difficult at appease all races."
"It'll be tricky, but we plan on establishing a council. Each race will vote for a representative and decisions will be made with majority vote. It's not permanent; we'll see how it goes and change as necessary. No race should have dominance though, for that defeats the purpose of this idea."
A long pause followed and Laura turned to the young wizard. "You seem to have given this plenty of thought."
"It was a group effort," Derek replied, smiling. "I merely provided the suggestion."
"Ah." Laura nodded and smiled back. "Well, count me in. I think it's a brilliant idea, and I know some hobbits who would love to travel there."
"Really? Wow. Thank you!" Lauriel beamed.
"We can discuss details later. For now, enjoy your special day. I look forward to working together." Laura waved and followed Derek away.
At last, the couple was left alone. Lauriel exhaled deeply. "This… This really is going to happen."
"Yes, and it wouldn't be possible without you."
"Not just me. We needed everyone's cooperation for this."
"Before your arrival, elves and dwarves held nothing but distrust for each other, Gondor and Rohan had abandoned each other, and hobbits were all but forgotten from the world. Now, with you and your kin living amongst each, we have the chance to unite Middle-Earth once more. You though, have especially brought them together because of your friendships."
"Friendships, huh?" Lauriel crept her hands up his chest. "Why don't we sneak off and I can show you how much I care about our friendship?"
Legolas grinned and he took her hand. "Come on."
They chuckled as they attempted to casually walk through the crowds and towards a side door. They just began to pass through it when a voice casually asked, "Going somewhere?"
Anthony was leaning against the wall nearby and approached with a lazy smile. He had been a handsome man and now with his immortal features, he was magnificent. Lauriel had already scared away several women and ellith since his arrival to Mirkwood. Her brother needed time to adjust and Lauriel would ensure he got it without interference.
"Yes, we were sneaking off, actually," Legolas said plainly.
"So if you don't mind, we'll be going," Lauriel finished with a smirk.
"Actually…" Anthony sighed and stepped towards them. "Mom put me and Dad on 'sneak off watch' today. Go back in; your first dance should be any moment."
"She put you on what?" Lauriel exclaimed while Legolas laughed heartily.
"Your mother is a smart woman," he added when she gave him an irritated look.
"By the way, I met your friend Mac. He certainly lives up to his reputation," Anthony said as he politely pushed the two back towards the center of the hall. "I also had a very interesting chat with Anna."
"What's that supposed to mean?" his sister demanded, not liking his tone at all.
"Just catching up on some older brother intel. Since it's your wedding day and you asked so nicely for no punching, I'll wait. But you, my dear brother-in-law, have some questions to answer. Particularly, why you and your father held Lauriel prisoner."
"Oh boy," Lauriel groaned. "Look, I can explain, and anyways, this is old news–"
"Not to me," her brother growled. "Why the hell has no one told me about this?!"
"You have every right to be angry." Legolas rolled his shoulder where Anthony had squeezed too tightly. "I will answer any question you may have, but for now" – Legolas fell to his knee and bowed his head – "please accept my apology."
Anthony shifted nervously as the prince made the grand gesture, causing everyone to stare and whisper. "Get up!" He pulled the groom up. "Okay, okay. Sorry, dwarf whiskey and finding out your new brother-in-law once held your favorite sister hostage do not mix well."
"You drank dwarf whiskey?" Legolas asked in impressed surprise at the same time as Lauriel scoffed,
"Favorite sister? I'm your only sister, dummy."
Just then, the musicians began a new song and Anthony gave the two a big push forward. "There's your cue. Go have your first dance."
He watched with satisfaction as the two finally made it to the center of the dance floor. The song was one he had heard a hundred times before. Lauriel and Legolas had chosen the same song his parents had played for their own wedding and anniversaries. It had taken the musicians a month to translate the song played for them on the modern speaker into notes and practice to perfection for the wedding day. The newlyweds danced gracefully together, their feet almost floating. When the song came to an end, another began and other dancers joined the couple.
"Hey, Anthony," a familiar voice said.
He turned to see Scott approaching with three elves. While he had not met them yet, Anthony had a good feeling he knew who they were. Their fine, light features were strikingly similar and their tunics of the Lothlórien colors.
"Hey," Anthony replied, eyeing the newcomers.
Scott motioned between his best friend and the others. "I wanted to introduce you all. After all, you all call yourselves Lauriel's brothers. Scott, meet Haldir, Orophin and Rumil."
"I'm glad to finally put faces to these names I've heard so much about. I know my parents have already told you this, but thank you. Thank you for being Lauriel's family when we couldn't…for taking care of her."
"There is no need to thank us," Haldir replied after had had translated for his brothers. "Lauriel is the one who took care of us."
"From what I've heard," Anthony pressed, "you gave her a home, food, and support when she first landed here. You protected her."
Orophin spoke and as he did, Haldir translated smoothly. "No, she's the one who protected us. She saved my life. We were out on patrol when the troll and Orcs attacked. The troll had me in its hand and was about to crush me to death when she shot it straight through the forehead. Did you know that?"
Anthony blinked in surprise. His sister was slowly filling him in with stories and things he'd missed, but this had not been one of them. "No, I didn't."
Rúmil also said something and Haldir chuckled. He turned to Anthony and relayed, "Rúmil says that if it weren't for Lauriel's advice, he would still be a single, lonely fool. She gave him the courage to pursue his betrothed."
"And you?" Anthony asked the marchwarden. "From what I hear, you and my sister were quite close."
Haldir's eyebrow rose. "Indeed."
"In fact," Anthony added, shrugging nonchalantly, "way I hear it, you nearly broke her heart."
"I was foolish and let fear rule my heart…though in the end, it was for the best. Lauriel found her true match and I–"
"You're the one who bought her this, aren't you?" Anthony reached into his tunic and withdrew the necklace that matched the one around Lauriel's neck. "You knew she'd lost mine."
"She thought about you every day," Haldir said simply.
Anthony eyed the Marchwarden thoughtfully. "Breaking hearts aside, I think you and I will get along just fine."
"Yes." Haldir smiled a bit. "I believe so."
"So, how you holding up today?" Anthony pointed to Scott. "You and him are both my sister's ex-boyfriends and today is her wedding day. Feeling alright? Need some of this?" He offered the flask.
Scott rolled his eyes. "I'm fine, but give me some of that. Dvalin swears it's out of this world."
"Bro, you have no idea," Anthony smirked and handed over the dangerous drink. He then returned his attention to the Marchwarden. "But really, you surviving?"
"More than surviving." Haldir's hard expression broke as an elleth approached shyly. "Now, if you'll excuse me." With a respectful bow of his head, he stepped away and led the elleth onto the dance floor. Her moonlit hair was long with natural curls, her body curved nicely, and her golden eyes were warm.
"And who is that?" Anthony asked, curiously.
"Oh." Scott smirked. "That's Arasinya."
"Huh." Anthony frowned. "That name sounds familiar…"
In the middle of the crowded dance floor, Lauriel and Legolas simply swayed together. The song had a fast and light-hearted beat, but they moved slowly in each other's arms.
"Can you believe that this is our life?" Lauriel grinned at the people surrounding them on their special day. Everywhere around them, she saw hope. Elves, dwarves, men, hobbits, and even two wizards danced together. They were surrounded by nothing but laughter, joy, and love.
"I can," Legolas answered and lowered his mouth to hers. "And I will enjoy spending every moment of it with you. I love you."
"I love you too." She kissed him and then whispered mischievously, "The cake cutting isn't for another hour. Time to finally sneak off, don't you think?"
He chuckled and led her away.
Responses to Chapter 43 reviews:
jshaw0624: Still convinced you are who I think you are. Either way, thank you for the continuing support and always leaving a review. Appreciate it!
Tibblets: Thanks for keeping up with this story.
Feline Predator: I always look forward to your responses. Thanks for leaving your thoughts and making me smile!
Dawn's spirit: Hah, it's such a victory as an author to know someone stayed up waaaay past their bedtime to keep reading. Thanks for your review and hope you enjoy the ending.
Valenza: Okay, now it's over.
LadyScarlettDixon: Yes, I looooove when people admit to binge reading. Makes me excited to know that Lauriel captured your attention, Also, when I read that you wanted to see Mirkwood and a wedding I laughed outright because that's exactly what I had planned. No babies, but maybe the happy couple will have some later : )
DivineHazex: Thanks for your lovely review! I hope you're happy to know that Haldir found someone after all. Best of luck to writing your fanfiction. No matter how it goes, how many reviews it gets, just write if you enjoy it!
DreamMine:Hi there and thank you for your review. I appreciate your well-thought feedback. Yes, the ending does become much more positive and 'fairy tale' like. But the real world doesn't have fairy tale endings and I like that after everything- 2 massive wars, separation from family and world, broken hearts, etc – Lauriel deserved a happy ending. So I gave it to her and I don't have any regret. Hopefully you enjoyed it nonetheless.