Hullo, everyone! Well, here it is, the 12th and final chapter. *sigh* I dunno about all my readers, but I had a lot of fun with this story, even if Legolas didn't. *evil grin* I hope you guys enjoyed this as much as your reviews make it sound! ;)

Whoah…you know what, Cheysuli, you've convinced me. I think maybe I will think about a sequel…thank you for the idea, I hadn't even thought of it! Tell you what, you'll be the first I tell if I write it, kay? ;) Thanks for the idea!!!

Well I'm SORRY Hannah, but as you said: we are running out of uncanny material. Angst is a goldmine for our favorite uncannies! Don't look at me like that. :P No, I'm not going to go for Titanic!…much! :D

Oh, and sorry about your darling baby, Lina. No, really! I didn't kill him anyways…just his best friend the world…sorry, sorry. Are you going to let go of him? Trust me, Lina, he'll never get over this unless I can post with him. Tell you what. You can huggle and cuddle your baby Estel while I finish responding to these reviews, deal? ;)

Whoah, Keyleigh, I had no idea it was that enthralling! I'm glad you liked it, and hope your fear-gripped chair is all right. ;) And um…yes, right about now, a living Legolas would be rather nice, wouldn't it. *sigh*

BEFORE your imagination runs away with you, Gwydolen? Are you sure it hasn't already? :P J/K, it's an interesting idea…hm, supernatural eh? Not exactly beyond the elves, I must say, but I didn't have that in mind, no.

Yipes! *ducks ff.net rule book* I say, Myfanwy, that was unkind! :P And you don't have to go cry in the corner…it'd be much more conventional to just cry out here where you can read the most recent post! :D *grin*

Well, Julia (thanks, indecently, for the name :) I figured you'd feel that way by the time you reached more recent chapters. The only reason I went into greater detail, was because you were right in the way that technically, at that point at least, Aragorn couldn't have known it would be better to go to Rivendell, and you think he would have just gone back to Mirkwood. Anyways, that's why I bothered to explain my reasons for having him travel 10-billion miles just so he could go to *his* dad instead of Legolas'. :)

Hey ElvenFlower! It's really cool to have another Elvish fan around! (despite the bow and arrow, even :) I know, I'm mean and left all in the lurch. But this should help (least I hope, seeing it's the last post!) And as for your story, I went over and read what you've got so far. It's really cool! No, honest, I liked it a lot! You're extremely descriptive, and man alive, your dialog is SO eloquent! Why again do you need an editor? ;)

WOOOOOOAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!………..calm DOWN GolanDays! I mean it's not like I've killed off the best character ever…….oh…well, there's always Aragorn. ;) And sorry, but I can't answer any of your fervently expressed questions. I know, I'm mean terrible and a horrid person. But hey! At least I'm posting, right? :D Here. *hands GoldanDays an oxygen mask and tank* there, that should help. ;)

*tries in vein to wake little elf up* oh my. Sorry about that. Gosh, am I really a wonderful author? Ya know, despite the terrible cliffy that involved Legolas' timely end? Hm. Maybe it's better that you're not awake to answer that. ;)

Hullo, Irishelf, and I don't blame your parents for not enjoying your spouts of insanity. It sounds quite familiar! ;) Yeah, that was a authorized CLIFFY and so sorry about that. And, well if you enjoy stories where Legolas, as you put it "almost dies" than you should read Cassia and Siobhan's Mellon Chronicles…heck, even if you *don't* like stories like that, you should read them! They are just awesome. :)

Wow, Liliana, I hadn't expected to make anyone cry! I'm sorry, and yet glad it was good enough for that! As for his lips turning blue, you're right in that it's due to a lack of oxygen. But he *did* have a lack of oxygen, because he was gasping and crying out so much, he didn't have a chance to breath normally. As for the latter comment…I have absolutely NO idea. ;)

Whoah, Kellen, thank you! I'm SO glad you enjoyed it that much. Golly, I had no idea anyone would be that interested in my writing. And as for *your* writing, your right. You don't write half as well…you write *twice* as well. I mean really, I LOVE your stuff! *starts pushing people towards It Rains Every Day* Go on, go on, you've GOT to read it. Of course, but absolute favorite is probably Any Other Way. *giggle* LOL!

And yes. No more throwing ff.net book. *looks from Myfanwy, to reflection* riiight? Oh good. :P

Aaaah yes, to Sliver-Kalan, Incoherent, Astaldocalwen, and anyone else who asked about Legolas' um…still-existing stats….I'm afraid um…well, I'll tell you this. It's not TOO bad in the end. Lets just say that, eh? Really sorry if you don't like the ending.

Well, once again, I'd like to thank everyone for contributing with your posts! I had a wonderful time hearing thoughts on my story from other people. I'll read any posts for this last chapter, though I'm afraid I won't be able to respond to them, because I don't have another chapter to put those responses on. But if you have any questions, or comments you'd like responses to, you can e-mail them to me at:

Evenstar47@hotmail.com

Heck, if you just want to e-mail me for the fun of it, feel free! :) Just, if you could, when you first send an e-mail to me, put "Iston" or your fan fiction name in the header, so I can tell your e-mail from junk mail. (because, like as not, I won't be able to recognize your e-mail address) :)

Also, if anyone's interested, I'm writing another story (though a much shorter one) that I've now started posting, called Memories of Rose. True, it's a very different genre, and I'm not sure how many Aragorn/Legolas fans will be interested, seeing it's a Rosie/Sam fic, but just FYI.

Well, here it goes! The last post of all. (Lina, you done saying goodbye to Estel yet?)

The post goes ever on and on…

Chapter 12

The Everlasting Candle

Aragorn's first thought when he woke up was 'Why isn't Horthor moving?' then he realized he was no longer speeding on his horse, and his mind fought hard remember what had happened last night. Then, in one, unwelcome rush, it came to him.

Legolas.

"Please…" He croaked to the empty room around him "What happened?"

There was at first no response, then he felt a cool cloth on his forehead. It was Elrond.

"Please." He repeated. "I must know."

Elrond picked up the cloth, and Aragorn heard him dip it into water, then felt the cool on his head again. He was avoiding it. Aragorn's heart shuddered to hear the answer anyway. If Elrond refused to tell him, Legolas was most certainly- he must be…dead.

"I shall never forgive myself." he whispered. "I did not save him."

He felt Elrond put a hand on his own, and he heard a sad sigh.

"Have you informed Thranduil? I suppose I should. It was my fault-" Then Aragorn realized something. The hand on his own was smaller than Elrond's. Elrohir perhaps?

He slowly opened his eyes, and nearly jumped out of bed!

"L-L-Le-"

"Legolas, Estel." His friend smiled "Legolas Greenleaf. Have no fear, I do not return to haunt your life."

Aragorn gawked. "But- how?"

"I shall explain later when I know what I plan to say. At the moment though, my mind is still getting used to working, and I cannot think straight all the time. I have had two days to get it working, and it is still slothful."

Aragorn still couldn't believe his eyes. "I- I don't know what to say…"

Legolas shrugged. "Say nothing, my friend." he reached out a welcoming hand, and a little hesitantly, Aragorn took it.

Laughing, Legolas pulled him into a hug, in which Aragon rested a few moments. "I thought I had lost you. I thought- I thought I-"

"I know Estel, I know." the embrace tightened in reassurance.

For a brief moment, Aragorn didn't know whether he should laugh for joy, or brake down in thankful tears. Instead, he pulled Legolas even closer to him, and whispered, in a voice choked with the suppressed laughter, and barely controlled tears, "I am so, *so* glad you are back, by friend. Finally back."

"As am I, Estel." Legolas sighed elatedly. "As am I."

The door flew open, and Elrohir came in, smiling widely. "Oh good! I told Elladan that Legolas would come see you, before you got out of bed to see him." He told Aragorn jubilantly "But he said that you would get out of bed if it killed you to see Legolas." He slouched into an arm chair, flinging his legs over the arm. "I win!"

Just then, Elladan appeared in the open doorway. "Legolas!" He groaned good-naturedly "Look what you did. Now I have to brew the morning tea!"

His twin laughed, and fixed him with a impudent stare. "Correct! Now off you go."

Elladan shook his head, and sat down on the bed. "Unfortunately for you, I made Estel's tea last night, and father wants you to make the morning tea."

"What?" Elrohir demanded sourly "But Estel did not *drink* the tea you brewed last night!"

"That is so," Elladan agreed "But I did make it."

Aragorn couldn't hold in the laughter any longer, and he and Legolas both chortled at the twin's comical behavior.

The group were once again joined, this time by Elrond. "How do you feel Estel?" he asked, completely relieved to see color in his son's cheeks again.

"I am well *now* father." the human responded, smiling over at Legolas.

Elrond nodded. "It is well." He turned from pleasure to disapproval at seeing the twins. "What are you arguing about?"

"What, father, gives you reason to think we are arguing?"

Elrond sighed. "What reason do I have to think otherwise?" he responded flatly.

"Hmm…" Elrohir thought a moment. "Well, Elladan says that-"

"Is this about the tea?"

"Uuhh…" Elrohir gave his father an uneasy glance. "Yes?" he guessed.

The elvan lord shook his head. "By the Valar, at this rate, I might as well have Estel fetch his own tea!"

"No, no, father. I will get it." Elladan stood.

"Oh, so you will prove better than I?" Elrohir snapped, unable to hide his smile.

"Very well then, brother, you may fetch it."

"Oh, well, make me do it all!"

"You two!" Elrond thundered, but he could not hide the mirth inside either. For, if nothing else, Aragorn and Legolas were both laughing again. "Honestly," He continued "You two have enough foolishness to fill all the minds in Hobbiton!"

"Perhaps," Elrohir consented, "but our foolishness does have a purpose."

"Indeed?" Elrond and Elladan said simultaneously, a doubtful air about both.

"Well, if we work hard enough at it, we might get Estel out of bed. You know, like at Dahast's house-"

"Elrohir!" Aragorn exclaimed, still laughing. Elladan was now laughing as well.

"Remember? How you laughed so hard you fell off-"

"off the bed?" Elladan finished, because Elrohir was laughing too hard to do so.

"It was a *hanging* bed. It was *not* funny." He told a mirthful Legolas, and then turned back to his brothers. "It was *painful*!"

"You laughed, did you not?" Elrohir pointed out.

"Yes," Aragorn admitted "About two hours later. You know, when I was conscious and had lost the headache!"

"Where is father?" Elladan asked, wiping tears away, and looking around the room.

"I think-" Legolas tried to hold back further laughter "I think he left to brew the tea."

This, of course, drove even more sniggers out of the twins, and soon had Legolas beside himself with laughter again.

Aragorn smiled broadly at the three. It had, of course, not been *that* funny, but it was such a relief to be laughing at all again, they wanted to make the best of it. Probably why Elrond had left them to it rather then scold them as usual. The time for solemnity and contemplation were over, and now they felt their right to laughter and happiness. Yes, even frivolity.

And the moment they began to laugh for the first time, in a seemingly endless while, Legolas and Aragorn could almost hear the carefree feeling, sweeping through the room and telling them it was all right. It was all over, and yet only the beginning. "Laugh now." It said "Oh, do laugh!"

*********

Aragorn snuck downstairs, and into the dining hall, looking a long while at the table. He sighed, running his callused hands over it's smooth surface; letting his fingers brush over the intricate design on the side. So familiar, so calming.

A voice that he'd expected to hear came from the next room. "You have been through much."

"Indeed."

There was silence a moment. "And you wish to speak of it."

Aragorn looked up gratefully. "Yes, father, I do."

Elrond nodded, and sat in a high, stone chair across the table, setting the tea intended for his son aside. "Then speak, Estel. Be open as you wish."

Aragorn sighed, sinking into another chair. "I am weary of trying. Of failing. Of worrying. And now that it is all over, my heart is *still* weary."

"It is to be expected, Estel."

"I know." he responded softly "I know. And it will pass with time. But now I worry not for myself, for I know the extent of my strength, and of my ability to handle it. But I-"

"Ah." Elrond cut him of gently. "You worry for your friend still. Of what scars this has left on Legolas."

"Yes." came the disheartened reply. "I am afraid for him, father. Before we rode out for Rivendell, he said that his nightmares would always haunt him. I tried my best to encourage him, but- but I could not ignore his point. He has been through even more than I. He has lost all he holds dear, and shaken hands with death twice. I still do not know how he pulled through last night. Do you?"

"Indeed," Elrond responded softly, "but that is a discussion for you and he. Although he did his best, I do not believe he told me everything. You two are close," He shook his head in emphasis. "Very close. And I believe that most of the explanation can and should be meant for your ears only. " he nodded to the boy across from him, bidding him to continue.

Aragorn nodded, accepting the momentary explanation, and continued. "He has lost everything, and gained everything just to lose it again. Even his father…" his voice trailed off, as he caught a sad look from Elrond. "You know of what Legolas saw about his father?"

"Yes." Elrond sighed. "And this Bodruith that Legolas told me of is not the first to bring up the fight for Bengwiil. Only the first to find it. Yes, Estel, it is true what he said about the dispute over the 'healing' plant. It is also true that Bodruith's uncle, Fulien, came to Thranduil, begging for the plant. But Thranduil did not have any Bengwiil in his possession.

"After Minaeg died, he did indeed have it destroyed. *All* of it. Save, of course, the bushel that Bodruith stumbled across in the spider's lair, for the elves did not risk a visit there. You see, as I have already informed Legolas, his father was not being heartless. He did not have the plant in his possession, and Fulien merely refused to believe it. He poisoned his nephew's mind with stories of how the hardened elves had not saved the boy's father.

"I am also told of Bodruith's death." Elrond shook his head sadly. "It is indeed a tragedy. The grieving son had hoped to cure his own aching heart, and a year ago had eaten the slightest bit of Bengwiil. I am sure you know from Legolas, that it gave him no comfort. He stabbed himself, hoping to find relief elsewhere. In death."

Aragorn nodded mutely, loathed to relive the moments with Bodruith in the underground halls. "I feel for him," He began, and felt his father's eyes on him. "but how could he? How, when he knew the deep pain the plant caused, could he inflict this pain purposefully on another? Another son, no less."

Elrond sighed, leaning back in his chair. "It is strange how the mind works. Perhaps he believed that avenging his father would be a comfort he could see, even in his unnatural, nightmarish world. But alas! Even that was not enough for him."

Elrond glanced down at his son, and saw the human nod, trying to look as though he were listening. The lord shook his head slowly, knowing Estel's mind had not once strayed from his friend. He sighed softly, and leaned over the table. "Your mind is still troubled, my son. What have you to still be concerned about?"

Aragorn also sighed, and looked up at his father. "I must confess, though he has pulled through, he shall not be the same. Will- will Legolas ever truly heal?"

A loud crash sounded from out in the hall.

"Oh now you've done it, Elrohir! You practically *threw* him down the stairs!"

"I did *not*!"

"You should have let *me* help him down. You *know* he cannot walk down the stairs very well yet, and you are only making it worse!"

"I most certainly am *not*! He tripped!"

"Oh indeed! Blame it on the poor elf who cannot stand up and hit you for doing so…"

"I beg your pardon?"

"Oh- oh forgive me, Legolas. You all right?"

"Oh yes. Considering Elrohir dropped me down the stairs, I am feeling quite well!"

"For goodness sake! I did *not*!"

Legolas high, sincere laughter rang from the staircase out in the hall. It was soon followed by Elladan's chuckle, and the two almost drowned out Elrohir's protests as he helped Legolas off the stone staircase.

Elrond picked up the forgotten tea kettle, and looked down at his son, who was already smiling at the unseen commotion in the hall. "Yes, Estel. I do believe he will back to normal very soon." He glanced out at the stairs, and Aragorn watched his face turn to good-natured disproval at whatever was happening in the hall. The look was soon accompanied by a dull thud, and another chorus of laughter. "That is, if your brothers do not kill him first."

**********

Aragorn mounted Horthor, and gripped his reigns tightly. He looked over his shoulder, and saw Legolas climb on the faithful Lint. They had spent two relaxing days in Rivendell, but it was time to go back. Thranduil would be worried about them.

Aragorn had bidden farewell to the twins, and could see Legolas doing the same behind him. Elladan murmured something that earned him laughter from Legolas, and playful cuff on the shoulder from Elrohir.

Aragorn smiled, and looked down beside him. Elrond looked up at him, and returned the smile. "Farewell Estel." He said softly, putting a hand on the human's knee.

"Farwell father. Thank you for everything." He glanced at Legolas again, who was leaning over Lint's neck, and telling Elrohir something, whilst grinning at Elladan. "For you have given me everything." he cocked his head towards Legolas.

"And am ready and willing to give you more." Elrond told him smiling.

"I know." Aragorn nodded, and reached down to touch his father's hand. "Namàrië."

"Namàrië." came the gentle response, and Elrond turned to the steps of Rivendell.

"Thank you for all you have done for me, Lord Elrond." Legolas bowed slightly.

Elrond nodded. "May you live in peace, walk in joy, and stray from danger, son of Thranduil."

"I shall try." Legolas responded, smiling.

Aragorn leaned over the side of his horse, and kicked at a saddle bag. "Elladan, what is this?"

"Rations." He responded innocently. "For your journey."

"But this is far more than we need to get to Mirkwood."

"And through it." Added Elrohir with a barely suppressed chuckle.

Aragorn glanced over his shoulder, and caught a hidden smile on Legolas' face.

He groaned. "Does *no one* think I can hunt?"

"Oh we are sure of your capabilities to hit *something* with a bow and arrow." Elladan assured.

"Well thank you." Aragorn responded flatly.

"But the trouble is," Legolas chuckled "You cannot *eat* trees."

That being the last straw Aragorn whirled around and took off after the already fleeing elf.

"Namàrië father! Namàrië my brothers!" He called back during his pursuit of Legolas.

"Namàrië!" Legolas called as well, swerving around the next corner and out of sight.

Elrond shook his head as he watched them go. That was joy, and somehow, even when infected with Bengwiil, it had accompanied Legolas. And with a friend like Estel, it always would.

**********

The companions rode towards Mirkwood, leaving the Misty Mountains behind them. They gained the top of a hill, where they could see a misty forest before them, and the towering mountains behind. Night had crept over them, and the stars shone brightly above their heads.

Legolas lifted his head, and looked at the brilliant stars, sighing sadly. "I am sorry Estel."

Aragorn tore his gaze from the sky to look at his friend. "For what?"

"For all the pain I caused you."

"Oh Legolas-" Aragorn began to protest, but Legolas cut him off.

"Do not try to tell me it was nothing. I hurt you, unintentionally, but I did hurt you. I am so sorry."

"It is of no matter now, my friend." Aragorn assured.

"Perhaps, " He conceded "but I want to at least apologize for falling apart that night I was first infected with it." Legolas didn't like to say the name Bengwiil, for fear of the terrible memories. He sighed again, and let his gaze fix on Eärendil. "I am sorry I cried. I know how hard that was on you. But I-" his eyes roved over the heavens. "I *so* missed the stars."

Aragorn let his eyes fly over the blanket of stars as well. "I do not blame you." He looked over at Legolas again. "I must know. How *did* you make it last night?"

Legolas smiled and looked back at Aragorn. "You."

"Me?"

"Yes, you. I believe that I would have died…perhaps I even did, but I would not be here, except for you."

"Why?" Aragorn asked, dumb-founded.

"Because you are my friend." Legolas said softly. "It is easy to say 'I am your friend' but you lived it. When you sang to me all night, when you whispered to me and became a light in my nightmares, when you carried me through the tunnel, when you rode non-stop to Rivendell to save me, you were saying 'I am your friend.'" There was a pause as Legolas let his friend take it in.

"Then last night, I was almost dead. I was falling into shadow. And I heard you saying 'Friendship does not waver at a wind. And a friendship like ours lasts forever. Forever like an everlasting candle.'"

"You said that." Aragorn pointed out softly.

"Indeed." Legolas granted. "But you lived every word. And after all this; after all we've been through, I had to come back, Aragorn. I was not meant to leave alone in this world. We are too close, and have been through too much to end a friendship like this now. Not yet, Aragorn. We cannot be torn apart yet."

Aragorn shook his head slowly. "I had no idea. I only knew I wanted to save you- to- to help you. I thought I have failed."

"You did not fail." Legolas insisted gently. "And you did just you planned, and more than you know."

Legolas turned his eyes once more to the heavens. "Thank you, Estel." he whispered sincerely. "For you have saved my life in many ways."

Aragorn smiled. "You are welcome, my friend. I am only glad that we are together again. That the end we long dreaded did come, but did not claim us. That you are next to me breathing, and completely yourself."

There was silence between them a long moment. Aragorn felt there was something else. Something that needed to be said. Something to prove all that had happened over the last few days. Something that had been conveyed, but needed final acknowledgment.

He turned in his saddle, and looked at the fair elf next to him.

"You will always be my friend, Legolas."

Legolas turned his head from the stars, and smiled over at the human outlined in the starlight.

"Iston."

The two rode once again into the darkness, but this time they carried hope with them. Suddenly, Aragorn heard Legolas whispering a soft tune. When he figured out what the elf was singing, he joined in the melody, smiling at the memories it bore.

"The Road goes ever on and on
Down form the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say."

At that moment, the stars seemed to brake free of their beautiful melody, the mystery of their ethereal whispers, and joined the being bellow in their simple traveling song. As they repeated the tranquil music, it echoed over the heavens and became an mystical tune that filled the skies with melody.

But to the two friends riding off into the night, it was a song. A hope. A symbol of an everlasting friendship. And for once, not even the stars could not compare in beauty.

In Meth

//the end//

Namarie, nin maer mellons! Na-luuu layaa go-na nin bod-rim.

//Farewell, my good friends! Until we see each other again.//

(: *sigh* :)