Epilogue: Valinor

"Is it true he brings a dwarf here?" Celebrinduil asked doubtfully.

"It would seem a strange tale, but I have heard it is true," Rawien replied.

"Why would they let a dwarf come to the home of the elves? A dwarf did betray us," Eärundra pointed out.

"This dwarf is his dearest friend," Lathron replied. "They fought together in the War of the Ring and helped defeat the dark Lord Sauron."

"They let hobbits come to Valinor," Tinánia defended the decision.

"Yes, but they were Ring-bearers," Eärundra argued the point. "Did the dwarf bear a ring of power?"

"No, but he defended the Ring-bearers. He fought orcs, goblins, wargs and trolls. He also has the favor of the Lady Galadriel," Rawien explained.

A short distance away from the excited chatter of the others, Tathiel stood next to her dearest friend, their hands grasped tightly as they stared across the horizon. They had been there since dawn, when word had first come that a ship was on course and would be welcomed to Tol Eressëa. Few words had been spoken, for there was little to say. Finally a sail was spotted, and the ship grew in the distance. Tathiel could feel the building excitement and she savored the memory of having done this not long ago, knowing that this would be as joyous a reunion as any she had witnessed.

Her companion was not so sure, for it had been long since she had beheld the one she now looked for.

The ship finally nudged the quay, and a dock was stretched that the two occupants might descend. The dwarf would have stayed in the background, but the elf dragged him forward in his excitement to see so many family and friends meet him. His eyes danced and sparkled as he beheld each one.

He stopped suddenly and the dwarf bumped into him.

"Legolas? What is it?" Gimli asked gruffly, looking in the direction the elf was staring.

Legolas was silent, then he began to walk quickly towards the one he knew only from pictures.

"Naneth?" he whispered as he neared the beautiful elf standing with his brothers.

"My son, my little Greenleaf," Narawen reached out and touched his cheek, gently wiping away the tear that spilled from his eye. Then she embraced him and they stood there long moments, tear streaming freely, until Narawen finally released him and turned him to the one on her other side. "Legolas, this is your brother Alagos."

Legolas stood before his brother, and as he was the image of his mother, Alagos was the image of their father. He grasped his brother's arm in the warrior's greeting first, and then Alagos had him in his arms.

"Tithen muindor, you are not so little any more," Alagos held him at arm's length finally and looked him over.

There had been silence on the quay as all allowed for this first meeting between mother and son and brothers, but now all gathered round to greet him. Legolas easily drew Gimli into the circle of his loved ones and introduced him to each one.

"Come!" Narawen finally clapped her hands to gain everyone's attention. "There is food and drink waiting for us. Let us go celebrate this reunion in proper style!"

A roar of approval greeted her announcement, and as the crowd started up the hill Legolas could hear his nana's lovely voice welcoming Gimli, telling him of all the fine food and drink awaiting him and drawing him easily into the circle of elves.

"I am sorry you did not know her," Legolas heard Lathron's voice behind him. "That is how she always was - gay and merry and full of laughter. When you were finally brought home to us, that is what you brought with you. You looked like her, and you acted like her. Having you was like having a part of Nana with us."

"Thank you, my brother," Legolas choked on the words as tears filled his eyes and he held his brother close.

"You are welcome, although I do not know why you are thanking me," Lathron hugged him back, then wiped the tears from Legolas' face.

"I had many who taught me to be a warrior, and I had the love and companionship of my father and siblings. I was loved and had the love of a mother in Tathiel. But you were special to me, muindor-nín. You always knew my heart," Legolas replied, blinking away the tears that still spilled from his eyes.

He stepped back to regain his composure, and when he next looked up at his brother, over his shoulder on a low ridge there stood what appeared to be an elf. Legolas took in the practical clothing, the twinkling eyes and the beautiful bow the elf carried on his shoulder. The person waved at him, and bowed slightly. Legolas saw an image flash before his eyes of another ridge, another figure, a last wave goodbye.

"Lathron, do you know who that is?"

Lathron turned and looked in the direction his brother indicated. He smiled and waved at the figure, who waved back.

"He did not wish to tell me his name; he said it was not important. He is a Maia, a personal servant to Manwë and acts only upon his bidding," Lathron answered. "He asked me to give you this." Lathron held out an exquisitely carved figure of a wolf. "You had one of these as a child. Did you know him?"

Legolas took the carving reverently, gently rubbing the fine detail of the wolf's coat and ears. He looked up again at the ridge, but the Maia was gone.

"I still have it," he answered slowly. "I have all the carvings he made for me."

"Then you do know him?" Lathron asked, surprised.

"Not exactly," Legolas slowly smiled. "He was the Watcher, Lathron. The one who took care of us that terrible winter we spent in the cave in the Iron Hills. I hope I see him again. There is much I wish to thank him for." Legolas grabbed his brother by the arm and began to pull him up the hill, "Come! Our mother is waiting and there is a celebration to attend!"

tithen muindor---------------little brother
muindor nin-------------------my brother

The End

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Final author notes:

There are a number of rebirth/reincarnation notes in the HoME series; I chose the one that best fit my purposes here. After a period of time in the Halls of Waiting, Mandos releases the elf to Valinor with a new body. Narawen and Alagos spent a few centuries in Mandos' Halls, and were then released to Valinor in time to greet Legolas.

The watcher is a Maia, similar to Olorin (Mithrandir, Gandalf). We know five wizards were sent to live in ME for the specific purpose that Gandalf so wonderfully carried out; I figured the Valar or Eru himself could send them for other reasons too. He is as like to a guardian angel as I could make him.

THANK YOU to all who stuck with this story to the end. I am amazed and honored by all the reviews and e-mails sent my way. Thanks to Daw the Minstrel, my wonderful beta who also left one of the first reviews on this story; Rorrah for beta'ing many of the early chapters, and Jocelyn for plot advice.

It is easy to be influenced by 'fanon' - the writings of other fanfiction writers. So if you see anything suspicious, I will say here and now that Jocelyn's 'Little Nudge' strongly influenced how I think about wood-elf culture and life; and the way Elwen portrays Elrond and the healing skills of the elves influenced how I saw Tathiel. Thanks to you both; sorry if I took any liberties!

*Nilmandra wanders off to play with the plot bunnies racing and chasing around her desk*