Disclaimer: For full disclaimer, please see chapter 1.


Well. That's it. The last chapter. The LAST chapter! *sobs*

I still can't believe it. I have actually written and _finished_ a story. That's just ... surprising. Very surprising. Ah well, whatever... *g*

First I want to thank you for your understanding, I really hated to kill off Nólad. I liked him, a lot, and the more I was writing about him, the more I hated the thought of killing him. But it had to be this way, he is much happier as it is, I think. Plus, it would have been so cliché to let him live, wouldn't you agree? Still, I'm sorry, and I am willing to hand out Nólad-clones to everyone who wants one. Better than nothing, huh? *g*

Second, about the sequel:

Since a lot of people asked me to write one or another story, I have decided to indeed do so. BUT it will not come out for some time, I'm afraid. I have a plot idea and everything, but I'm moving into a new flat and won't have a computer there. I know! How am I supposed to survive? I will have to work a bit to get enough money to buy one, so I have no idea when that will be. Under no circumstances before mid-May, I'm sorry. But I'm doing my best, and I think end of May is quite realistic. So look out for it in a month or two!

Okay, on to the last chapter!
In which we see: Worried fathers, annoying brothers, quite angry elven princes, confused rangers, and a bit of male-bonding in the end. *sighs happily* Those two are just sweet, aren't they?

Enjoy and review, please!!
For the last time...

Chapter 22

Thranduil, son of Oropher, King of the realm that had once been known as Eryn Lasgalen, survivor of the War of the Last Alliance, the Battle of Five Armies and countless other minor wars, battles and skirmishes, stood in the courtyard and fearfully eyed the huge, ornamented magically sealed stone doors in front of him, mentally debating if he should lift the seal or not.

'I could pretend I couldn't remember the words. Or that I had forgotten how to speak Quenya,' he thought with an odd sparkle in his eyes, a sparkle that strongly reminded the elves that stood behind him of his son. And if that sparkle looked scary in Legolas' eyes, it looked positively terrifying in his father's.

The king slowly shook his head, knowing full well that he would have to open the doors in a few seconds, since the sentries had reported that the group they had been awaiting for the past days had been sighted a mere league away, so they would be here in a few moments. Besides, it was Legolas out there, not to mention the Lord of Imladris and his sons.

'But if you open that door, things will never be the same again,' a voice told him silently. 'From what Glónduil said, it appears that Legolas and Lord Elrond's youngest have reached a whole new stage in their relentless endeavour to get themselves killed.'

This entire line of thought was pointless and more than a bit ironic, of course, and the golden haired king stepped forward and firmly commanded the doors to open. While the stone swung inwards, silently moving on invisible hinges, he tried to remember when he had been this worried before. After a few seconds of giving the matter considerable thought, he decided it had been when his son had dragged himself back to these gates about a year ago, barely alive and delusional because of an angry-looking, badly poisoned spider bite.
And now this…

When the first horses came into view, moving at a breakneck speed, he shot a quick look behind him, making sure that his best healers were assembled in front of the main entrance. The laws of nature demanded that Legolas and at least two of Lord Elrond's sons were wounded, and Thranduil intended to make sure that the Lord of Rivendell had all the help he could possibly need at his disposal when he patched them up. Again.

The group had reached the gates by now, and Thranduil turned back and straightened his back, balling his hands into fists in the folds of his robe and hiding the choking worry he felt. He would never again allow Legolas to leave the palace, never, and not even his patented Please-ada-I-promise-to-be-good-look would be able to dissuade him.

The first rider to dismount was one of the twins, Elladan, the king guessed. He had never been able to tell them apart with absolute certainty, but he was relatively sure that this was the older twin, and Thranduil made sure with a quick glance that Glónduil was really confined in his quarters as he had ordered.
He had witnessed quite a few times how fiercely protective Elladan could be towards the human Lord Elrond had claimed as his son, and he didn't want him to do something he would regret later. Something he would hopefully regret later, although the elven king doubted somehow that he would.

Thranduil's eyes searched the quickly growing crowd of elves that began to fill the courtyard now, noting with some surprise that some humans accompanied his warriors, prisoners by the look of them. The king's brow wrinkled slightly, he really hoped Legolas had a good reason for just bringing some edain here…

The thought of his son brought him quickly out of his musings, and he stepped forward, heading to the spot where the healers clustered together. More than 2500 years of experience told him without the slightest doubt that Legolas would be right there, undoubtedly wounded in one way or another.

When he had almost reached his destination, the flood of the elven healers parted for a second, and Lord Elrond stepped out of their midst, looking pale, drained, dishevelled and thoroughly exhausted, but otherwise relatively unharmed.

The elf lord gave him a slight bow, relief on his face.
"My lord, thank you for accepting us in your house at this late hour."

Thranduil shook his head, genuinely pleased to see the other elf. The relationship between their two realms had greatly improved during the past ten or so years, partly because they were busy trying to come up with ways to prevent their sons from getting themselves killed, something that was much more effective if they did it together.
"There is no need to thank me, Lord Elrond. We have been awaiting you, although we expected you tomorrow at noon, at the earliest."

Elrond nodded and ran a hand through his hair, which caught in a tangled braid in an instant.
"We travelled through the night and as fast as we could. We have urgent need of your healers' assistance."

The elven king felt how the worry that constricted his throat even increased, what could be so bad that the Lord of Imladris required help?
A horrible thought struck him, and he asked hastily, grabbing the other elf by the arm,

"Is it my son? Legolas, is he…"

The dark haired elf lord shook his head, the relief on his face being swiftly replaced by worry.
"Nay, my lord, your son is alive and … he is well I think one could say, considering the circumstances. It is Estel; we need to get him inside as fast as possible."

Thranduil sighed deeply, relieved beyond measure that his only child was alive and not on the brink of passing into the Halls of Waiting, which was very nice for a change.

"Thank the Valar," he muttered quietly and added, remembering that the other elf probably didn't feel particularly relieved right now, "What happened, Lord Elrond? The reports I heard were vague at best."

Both of them moved forwards, and the mass of elven healers parted in front of them to reveal the figures of three young elves and a young ranger, all more or less in the state of passing out from exhaustion, if they hadn't already, that was.
The king's eyes travelled over the twins, who were for once distinguishable by the fact that Elrohir's face sported an enormous bruise and both of his arms were bandaged, over the unconscious form of Aragorn who lay on a stretcher the healers had brought with them, seemingly covered from head to toe in bandages and deathly pale, to finally come to rest on his son, whose posture was far too stiff, but whose eyes seemed to light up under the bandage that wound around his head.

"Father!" Legolas exclaimed and took a wobbly step forwards, only to curse not so softly when his burnt leg crumbled under him.

Thranduil quickly moved and caught his son, grasping him tightly by his left arm, since the right was bandaged tightly up to the shoulder.

"Legolas!" he said, studying the younger elf's face closely, allowing the enormous relief he felt to show on his face. "Are you alright, my son?"

The elven prince nodded absently, leaning heavily against his father in exhaustion.
"Yes, ada, I am, but Aragorn is hurt badly. We need to get him inside, please."

The king let his eyes wander over his child, deciding that this was one of the times when Legolas' and his definition of the term "alright" differed vastly. He nodded at the healers who took up the stretcher and quickly made their way towards the palace.
Turning back to his son, he said,

"You are not well yourself, Legolas, and don't try to convince me otherwise."

At this Celylith stepped forwards, nodding his head at the king in respect.
"He is not, your Majesty. If you allow, I will take him to the healers."

Thranduil nodded, and the silver haired elf took Legolas' arm and firmly steered him into the direction of the house. The king had to stifle a smile when he heard his son hiss at his friend, "Traitor! Do you know what you've just done?"

"Earned you some much needed bed rest, mellonamin. I am tired of your protestations that you are 'alright'; I say, let the healers worry about you for a while."

Legolas snorted softly as they slowly made their way up the steps that led to the main entrance.
"We'll see about that, Celylith. And I am alright, just a little tired."

The soft laughter of his companion echoed across the slowly emptying space as the elven warriors took away the humans and guided their horses to the stables.
"Of course you are," he said dryly as they disappeared into the building. "Whatever you say, my prince."

Elrond nodded at his two elven sons, who were about to follow the healers that had taken their human brother away.
"You may follow them. I will join you in a second."

The twins nodded and, leaning heavily onto each other, made their way toward the palace, leaving the two elf lords behind.
Turning to Thranduil, he added,

"There is one other thing: With the captive men there is a boy, about twenty years old, with brown hair. His name is Seobryn, and if you would have him brought up into the palace and assigned some quarters, I would be very thankful. You have my word that he will not try to escape or wander around unattended. I will explain everything later."

The King of Mirkwood nodded slightly puzzled and motioned one of the servants that stood nearby to carry out the request.
"Your word is more than enough for me, my lord. But, please, tell me: What happened to your youngest? And to all of you, while we're at it?"

The question seemed to remind the other elf once again why he was here and he began to walk hurriedly into the direction of the main entrance.
"Many things, Lord Thranduil, many things. As for Estel, except for more broken ribs, bruises, cuts and lacerations than you could count in a human lifetime, he has developed a rather high fever from an infected arrow wound. The worst bit is his head injury though, two days ago he suffered a skull fracture. We could get him to wake up for small periods of time, even though he didn't seem to recognize us, until yesterday evening, that is. The swelling is not receding, and he isn't responding anymore. I did not have the herbs to treat his condition, and so we chose to travel through the night in an attempt to get here as quickly as possible."

The golden haired elf noticed the fear and despair that were beginning to show on the other's face, and he reached out and placed a comforting hand on the elf lord's shoulder.
"He will be fine, my lord, don't worry. That human is as stubborn as my Legolas, he won't give up that easily. My healers are excellent, and with your help Estel will recover, as he has before."

Elrond smiled at the woodland king, lowering his eyes.
"I pray that you are right, my friend. This time has been truly exceptional, even for them."

Remembering the battered sight the four young ones had presented, Thranduil nodded in fervent agreement.
"I agree, this time they have outdone themselves. It is a tale I would very much like to hear, once you have seen to your sons and taken some rest, of course."

"Gladly," Elrond agreed as they climbed up the stairs, leaving the all but empty courtyard behind, "It is a long tale, and a very sad one, but, in the end, it was ended by the timely arrival of your warriors. But the game, I fear, has been lost by all of us."

Thranduil blinked at the other elf's back as they quickly headed for the healing rooms. Lord Elrond, he decided, spent far too much time with Mithrandir.
But then again, he mused with an inward smile which he did not allow to show on his face, perhaps answering as vaguely and cryptic as possible was a Noldor habit. The Lady Galadriel talked just like that as well.

Darkness, that was all there was, all he could see, and all he could remember.

All in all, it was a situation he could very well live with. Somehow, he knew that darkness was – after a time – often accompanied by pain that only grew when the darkness dimmed and dissipated entirely in the end, and he definitely chose darkness over pain.
But until now, the darkness had shown no signs of dissipating, which was just fine with him. He couldn't remember if there had been anything before this, and, right now, he didn't really care; all that mattered to him was the fact that there was no pain and no one that disturbed him or prevented him from getting some rest.

Slowly, however, the blackness that surrounded him and muffled his senses was beginning to thin and become somewhat wispy, like shreds of smoke that disappeared when a soft breeze blew it away. He groaned softly as everything happened just as he had predicted: The darkness grew more insubstantial by the second, and pain was beginning to spread in his formerly comfortably numb body with an amazing speed.

He groaned again as he remembered something else: There would be a voice, pleading and coaxing him to return to consciousness, there always was a voice like that. As memories of past situations like this one slowly returned, he remembered that it wasn't always the same voice, no. There were different ones, and sometimes it were more than one, but they all had one thing in common: They were incredibly annoying and persistent and wouldn't give up until they had ripped him out of the comforting dark.

He winced when he heard it, one of the voices had finally made an appearance.
"… think … waking … ada …"

Another voice spoke up, already much easier to understand than the first, now that the darkness was lessening quickly.
"Estel … wake up ... just open your eyes, my son. Let us see that you are awake, please."

Aragorn fought desperately to hold on to the darkness, moaning softly when stabs of pain cut through his head. Curse these voices!

Against his will, his body tried to obey the commands the voices issued, and, bit by painful bit, it made its way towards consciousness. Giving up with an annoyed growl, he decided that he could try to make it as quickly as he could then, do as the voices asked and return to the wonderful, numb darkness that would take all the pain away.

Trying with all his might now, Estel finally managed to open his eyes, regretting it instantly as far too bright light shot through his head. With another moan he squeezed the lids tightly shut, wondering if, this time, the voices wanted to kill him perhaps. It certainly felt that way.

The voices mumbled softly, and he felt a hand touch his forehead, shielding his eyes.

"It is alright now, my son, open your eyes. Please, Aragorn, just a minute."

His entire being told him to trust this voice, that he could always trust this voice, and so he obeyed slowly, blinking as he tried to get his eyes to focus. After a few seconds, the hand was removed, and he stared into a blurry face, a face so blurry that he couldn't even tell where it ended and where the room began.

It seemed to smile at him though, and Estel was sure he heard immense relief in the voice.
"Welcome back, Estel. Do you remember me? Can you tell me what happened?"

He just stared at the face in front of him, trying very hard to remember. Before the blackness … had there been anything? Slowly, for those in the room agonizingly so, images began to come back, of sneering faces and pain, and then, the faces of four elves that leant over him, three of them dark haired and the fourth with pale golden hair…

The young man blinked again, and this time, the face in front of him seemed to swim into focus for a short time, just long enough for him to recognize it with a weak smile.
'Ada,' he mouthed, surprised to find that his voice wouldn't work.

Elrond smiled down at him, having obviously understood what he had been trying to say. He briefly closed his eyes before fixing them back on the pale face of his foster son, for a moment he had really thought the boy couldn't remember him…

"Yes, Estel, I am here, and I won't go anywhere, don't worry. Don't try to talk, you got a very hard hit on the head, my son." Noticing the way Aragorn's eyes wandered unsteadily across the room, he added, "Your brothers are fine, as are Legolas and the other warriors. No one was seriously hurt except for you and the prince, which is something that doesn't surprise me in the slightest anymore."

The young human frowned slightly; Legolas had been hurt? He remembered his elven friend leaning over him, his face pale and bruised, telling him that Donyc was dead… What had that human done to his friend? He needed to see for himself that he was all right…

Before his father could stop him, he tried to sit up and lift his head, which, as he quickly discovered, was the stupidest thing he had done in a long time, probably since he had fallen off that tree right into the laps of Donyc and his men. The world grew blinding white and then black as night, and his head exploded into countless ragged pieces, well, that was what it felt like anyway. All thoughts of his family and friend disappeared under the wave of staggering agony that swept through his head, causing other parts of his body to scream in pain as well.

Trying desperately to get the pain under control, he finally gave up and whimpered softly as the pain even increased. One of these days, he decided fuzzily, he would get the voices for having ripped him out of that wonderful darkness for this

A moment later he felt a hand carefully lift his bandaged head and a cup being pressed against his lips, urging him to drink. In too much pain to resist, he allowed his father to pour some of the bitter concoction into his mouth, something that alarmed Elrond even more than the agonised expression on the young ranger's face. If Aragorn was drinking any medicine without protesting, resisting, trying to escape or at the very last glaring daggers at the person making him drink it, he had to be in a lot of pain.

Slowly Estel's body began to relax as the potion took effect, and the lines of pain on his face smoothed slightly. Elrond gently ran his hand over his son's dark hair, desperately wishing he could take away the pain the young man was suffering. Suffering because of him

"Rest, Estel," he soothed, continuing to stroke his hair, "We are all save, go back to sleep. The next time you awake you will feel much better, I promise."

The young human's breathing evened out as he fell back asleep, and Elladan looked at his father with worried eyes, running a hand over his face.
"Will he be alright, ada? That was normal, wasn't it?"

Elrond nodded, smiling at the twins that were standing at the foot of the bed, having vacated their armchairs when their human brother had shown the first signs of waking, the first signs since that evening on their way to Mirkwood four days ago.
"Yes, Elladan, he will be just fine. It will take some time for him to heal, I'm afraid, for he is very weak, but he will be fine. He just tried to move too soon, which I should have thought of, really. He will have to stay in bed for quite some time though."

Elrohir shot his twin brother an wicked look, the bruises on his face all but healed.
"How much time?" he asked, turning twinkling eyes on their father.

Elrond raised an eyebrow, but replied,

"Well, two weeks at the least."

At that an identical grin spread over his elven sons' features, a grin that made him think of asking King Thranduil to post a guard outside Estel's quarters for that time, just in case. Ignoring the wicked sparkle in their eyes, he rose and gently pushed them into the direction of the door.
"Don' t you dare. We are not at home, don't forget that. King Thranduil most graciously allowed us to stay for as long as we wish, even after the last time, which is something I absolutely refuse to remember, by the way. Don't even think about it! Besides, your brother needs rest now."

"Exactly," Elrohir grinned at his father. "He needs rest. And after two days he will get bored and will try to escape, and then we will be here, reminding him of it."

"Once or twice a day…" Elladan added as they reached the door, giving his sleeping brother a fond look.

"Every hour…"

"All day long…"

"All night long…"

Before the twins could elaborate their plans for their little brother any further, Elrond shut the door in their faces, cutting off their laughing voices.

Making his way back to his foster son's side, he once again thanked the Valar that they had protected his sons and given them back to him, even though in several pieces.
Protected them so that they could go back to their favourite pastime, namely trying to drive each other insane, but he wasn't complaining. As long as they were all alive, he was willing to overlook some small matters such as these, for the time being, that was.

The next morning, Legolas was hurrying down the corridors that would lead him to his rooms, shooting furtive glances over his shoulder once in a while. He rounded a corner and nearly ran straight into Celylith who reached out to steady him, noticing the way the prince was still somewhat unsteady on his feet.
Legolas just shot his friend a venomous look, shook off his hands and continued walking down the hallway.

The silver haired elf raised an eyebrow and hurried after him.
"You know, the usual thing to say is 'I'm sorry', or 'Excuse me', or even 'Thank you for preventing me from falling flat on my face'. If your father knew…"

Legolas' face darkened even more.
"I am not talking to you," he replied, keeping his eyes straight ahead.

Celylith grinned, understanding beginning to dawn on his face.
"Why not, my friend?" he asked, already guessing the answer.

The prince stopped and grabbed his friend's arm, fake anger on his face.
"Why not? Well, dear friend, let me tell you why not! Because I had to spend the last three days in the hospital wing, because you so kindly informed my father that I was, and I quote, 'not alright'! How would you know!? Have you any idea how incredibly boring it was? And I think the master healer even enjoyed keeping me there! Was it my fault that Lord Elrond told him he was an idiot to give our warrior useless herbs? I think not!"

Celylith quickly stifled the smile that was threatening to spread on his face.
"Lord Elrond didn't call him an idiot. He is just worried about Estel, everybody knows that. He merely said it was a questionable decision…"

"Which, in diplomatic terms, means just the same," Legolas grumbled.

"…and, strictly speaking, it was your fault. You brought him here, after all."

The fair haired elf shot his friend a threatening glare and opened his mouth for a scathing reply, but was interrupted by the cheerful voice of Elrohir.

"And we are very thankful for that. We had feared we would never see these woods again, not after the … spider incident last year. Your father was quite upset, I believe."

Legolas rolled his eyes and gave the younger twin a long-suffering look, stifling a smile on his own when he looked at him. Elrohir's shoulder was still bandaged, for even an elven body needed some time to heal broken bones, and the collarbone had been broken, of course. The younger twin still grumbled and claimed that the whole thing was a conspiracy cooked up by his brother to annoy him, but now it was healing quickly, something for which the prince was thankful. There was only one thing worse than a healthy and cheerful twin, and that was an ill-tempered one.

"If you would excuse me, I need to go back to my rooms. I have a meeting with my father in an hour, and I still need to come up with a way to explain all this to him."

Elladan appeared next to his twin and narrowed his eyes, looking at the prince suspiciously.
"Are you escaping or have they actually allowed you to get up and leave? Because if you are out of bed against ada's orders, I will leave now and pretend not to know you. We have already stressed our luck with him, there's no need to push it."

The prince grinned and started moving, trailed by the three other elves.
"Believe it or not, the healers have actually allowed me to leave. I think I annoyed them so much that they did it in a desperate attempt to save their sanity… How is Strider?" he asked, sudden worry on his features.

Elrohir placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, smiling at him.
"Don't worry, Legolas, he will be fine. He awoke shortly yesterday and recognized father, so ada says he will make a full recovery, given time."

Legolas stopped dead in his tracks, giving them an accusing look.
"He has woken up? Why did nobody inform me? You promised me to tell me right away should he regain consciousness!"

Elladan sighed and gently pushed the prince into the direction of his quarters, forcing him to resume his walk. Yes, they had indeed promised, for that had been the only thing that would keep Legolas quiet and in his bed.
"He sleeps again, Legolas, he was awake for only a few minutes. There was no reason to tell you, father said he will not wake up for two or three more hours."

Catching Elrohir's pleading gaze, Celylith nodded and asked, trying to divert his friend's attention,

"Has the king already decided what to do with Glónduil?"

The silver haired elf's eyes were cold and hard when he spoke the other elf's name, he hadn't forgiven him his actions yet, and he doubted that he ever would. True, he had needed some time himself to accept the fact that Legolas now spent more time with Strider than with them, but every time he saw the deep friendship they shared, he understood just why the prince had chosen to befriend that ranger.
Besides, it was nearly impossible not to like the cheerful young human, and every time he and his brothers visited, one could be sure to be in for an interesting time.

Legolas shook his head, his expression unreadable.
"Not yet. It is one of the things we will discuss, I think. He still claims that he didn't know what Cornallar was planning, and I think I believe him."

Elladan's face darkened, his eyes flashing dangerously.
"How could he not have known? What did he think that elf and the humans were planning to do to Estel, invite him for a feast?"

"He might have guessed something, and if he had used any energy at all to think about it, he would have found out the truth, but I am convinced that he never really intended to harm your brother or father," Legolas tried to appease his friend, quickly deciding that Glónduil needed to leave the palace as soon as possible, whatever his punishment might turn out to be. There was no telling what would happen if the older twin came across the dark haired elf.

"That doesn't change anything," Elladan hissed fiercely, his eyes dark with barely suppressed anger.

His bother took a step closer and put an arm around his shoulder, looking at him seriously.
"Estel is alright, brother, he will be fine. Those responsible for what happened to him are dead or captured, and he will recover. He needs you to help him get well again, not stare darkly into empty space planning how to avenge him on someone that isn't even responsible for his wounds. I know how you feel, but it won't do any good.
Don't let this consume you, let it go."

Elladan returned the gaze steadily and finally gave his younger brother a smile.
"I am the oldest, I am supposed to say such things," he said, his eyes serious even though his voice was light. "But you are right, brother, it is foolish. Glónduil isn't even worth the thoughts we give him, and he was probably truly too stupid to consider the consequences of his actions."

Legolas smiled at the twins, feeling as if the first steps towards healing had just been made, and in his heart he began to forgive his former friend.
Aragorn had dismissed Glónduil's involvement as insubstantial when he had told him about it in the caves, and if Aragorn and his brothers could put this behind them, then so could he.


Elrond closed his eyes, wondering briefly how it was possible that Estel was already feeling well enough to argue with him. He opened them again and gave his foster son the look, which was more formidable now than ever, if one took the fact into account that he had spent a whole week improving it by staring at the men that had been accompanying him over the Misty Mountains.

"Drink it. Now. It will reduce your headache, and don't even try to tell me that you don't have one. And there are your ribs, shoulder and back as well. I promise it will not send you to sleep."

Aragorn gave him a pleading look, doing his best to look pitiful. With his pale, bruised face and the enormous bandage that wound around his head, he looked indeed more than just a bit pitiful, but the Lord of Imladris had had more than 2800 years of experience with pitiful looks directed at him by his sons, and therefore wasn't very impressed.

"Very well, Estel. How many fingers am I holding up?" Elrond asked, raising two fingers.

Aragorn scowled at his father, Elrond knew perfectly well that his vision was still blurred! Leaning back into the pillows, he squinted and guessed,

"Uhm, three?"

His father just smiled at him and pressed the cup that held the bitter medicine into the young man's hand.
"Drink up."

Estel opened his mouth to protest, but as Elrond knitted his brows and narrowed his eyes, he hurried to comply. After all, his father was right, his head hurt horribly, and he wasn't feeling strong enough to quarrel with him over this subject.

He closed his eyes and downed the cup, grimacing at the bad taste, his head still spinning with the new information he had just received. His father had told him all that had happened since Gwaer had been killed, with the twins chiming in or correcting small mistakes.

A few minutes ago his brothers had left with Celylith who had stopped by to see how the young ranger was doing, claiming that they would go and have a look at the horses.
'Ha, the horses!' Aragorn thought, swallowing the last of the medicine, 'I don't know what Celylith wants to show them, but I am very sure it is not a horse! Besides, Elrohir won't go anywhere near the stables, he's still afraid of Legolas' horse…'

His thought quickly strayed to his elven friend, and from him to all that had happened in the past few weeks. So many people had died, just because of the illogical, ill-founded hate of a single person…

"Estel?" Elrond asked softly, taking the cup from his son. "What is on your mind, my son?"

Aragorn let his head sink back into the soft pillows, wincing as that movement pulled against the stitches in his back.
"All that happened, ada… You say there are only ten human survivors, that means that nearly thirty were killed! So many … and Nólad as well! He didn't deserve to die, he did all he could to protect me without betraying his lord! Without him I wouldn't have survived the journey over the mountains, of that I'm sure. It is not fair, ada!"

Elrond smiled sadly at his foster son.
"I know, Estel, I know. But it is not your fault. The humans chose their own fate, they must have known what the consequences to their actions would be. And Nólad, I think, has finally found the peace that had been denied to him all these long years here on Arda. He chose as well, he chose to follow his friend to the end."

The young human looked up as he heard the odd ringing in his foster father's voice, a tone of voice that had already been present when Elrond had talked about how he had killed the dark haired elf.
"And neither was it yours, father," he said quietly, reaching out with a bandaged hand to weakly squeeze Elrond's hand. "You had no choice. You did the only thing you could."

"Really?" the Lord of Rivendell asked, his eyes adopting a pained look. "I killed another elf. I am a healer, Estel, not a warrior, not anymore... Perhaps I could have found a way to make him see reason, perhaps Cornallar could have found healing in the Undying Lands… Perhaps I could have done something to save him, but no, I killed him instead. I did what he wanted me to do in the end, and by now I think that he has won the game after all."

Aragorn began to shake his head, but froze as sharp pain lanced through his temples. He gritted his teeth until the fit passed, blinking several times as his vision blurred even more.

"Don't say such a thing, please," he begged his father. "It is not true. You did all you could to save him, you offered him every chance to step down and end it, but he refused. All he could see was his vengeance, and if even Nólad couldn't convince him that he was doing the wrong thing, how could you have? And if he would have wanted to sail to Valinor, he would have done so a long time ago.
Perhaps you have done what he wanted you to in killing him, yes, but you have the same choice he had when his son was killed: You can either accept the fact that there was nothing you could have done differently, nothing that would have made a difference, or you can let yourself be consumed by anger, pain and doubt.
He chose badly, and it led him to death and destruction in the end. But it was his choice, and no one but him can be blamed for what happened."

Elrond studied the face of his human son, wondering why humans had to grow so quickly. It seemed only yesterday that the boy had been brought into his house, crying for his parents and looking around him with big, frightened eyes. And now he sat here, lecturing him about guilt and the choices that are laid before every being in life.

'And he is right,' he admitted inwardly, smiling fondly at the young man, 'He has truly grown up, and soon now will he leave us to follow his destiny. But please, Ilúvatar, not yet.'

"You speak wisely, my son, far wiser than anyone of your age should," he said, taking Aragorn's hand in both of his.

His youngest son smiled back.
"Well, I had a lot of time to think about it," he said as his eyes wandered to his left hand that was being encircled by his father's long fingers, coming to rest on the Ring of Barahir that once again was on his forefinger.
It had been there when he had awoken, as if these past weeks had been nothing but a nightmare, a figment of his imagination. He knew Elrond had taken it from Cornallar after the dark haired elf's death, but he didn't ask him about it, and his foster father didn't seem too keen to comment on it. In the end, he didn't really care, he was just contend that he had it back, even though it had sharply brought to his attention that his life was in danger should anyone find out who he truly was.

"Estel?" his father's worried voice drew him out of his thoughts. He blinked and pushed these thoughts into the back of his mind, he was too tired to think about it now.

"I'm fine," he mumbled, looking up to meet Elrond's still slightly worried gaze.
After a second, he asked,

"What will happen to the men? And to Seobryn?"

He had been quick to confirm that Seobryn had indeed been trying to help him, and that his refusal to give Addramyr the sword had probably bought the twins enough time to arrive and save his life.

Elrond had assured his human son that he had believed Seobryn when he had told him what had happened before Elladan and Elrohir's arrival, and that the boy was staying in his own quarters and not in the dungeons, still slightly nervous because of all the elves around him, but otherwise unharmed. The elf lord had had a talk with the terrified boy on their way here, who was firmly convinced that they would all be killed once they arrived at their destination, and had soon found out that he truly had done all he could to stay away from the fighting.

"I don't know what will happen to the humans, Estel," he admitted, shaking his head. "It will be for Lord Thranduil to decide, for they fall under his jurisdiction, if under anyone's. But I would think he'd turn them over to the next human settlement, perhaps Dale or one of the nearby towns. The humans there do not look too kindly on mercenaries who jeopardise their relationship with Mirkwood."

He smiled when he saw the impatient sparkle in the young ranger's eyes; patience was something Aragorn still needed to learn.
"And Seobryn … you do not think the rangers could take him in?"

Aragorn had to stifle a laugh at that, holding his breath when his ribcage protested.
"Definitely not, father. He is the clumsiest being I have ever met, he wouldn't last a day with them. Even orcs would be able to hear him for miles."

"I thought so," Elrond mumbled, playing with a ring on his hand in thought. "Well, I have an idea, but I will have to talk with the king about that, for I would need his help, and his permission of course, because technically, the boy is still a prisoner of Mirkwood. But don't worry, I am sure he will agree."

"What kind of idea? Please, ada, tell me!" Aragorn said, curiosity in his eyes.

"I will talk with the king about it, young one, and if he gives his permission, I will tell you," the elf lord answered, giving his son a stern look. When he noticed the rebellious look on the boy's face, he added, "Seobryn would be with good people and would have a real chance to start a new life, and he wouldn't have to display any stealth whatsoever. King Thranduil should be able to make the necessary arrangements. Patience, my son, patience."

"Alas, Lord Elrond, he doesn't even know the meaning of that word! I have been trying to teach him since we met, but without success, as you can see…"

Two dark heads swivelled to the left, and two pair of grey eyes fixed – one rather reluctantly – one the broadly grinning figure of Legolas who stood in the doorway, leaning casually against the doorframe to take some strain off his burnt leg, something that was not lost on Elrond.
He was about to give him the look and ask him what exactly he thought he was doing running around like this, when the voice of his youngest child interrupted him.

"Legolas!" Aragorn called, silver eyes shining brightly with relief. "Are you well? They refused to tell me what had happened to you, are you alright?"

"I am fine, Estel, don't worry," Legolas said and stepped into the room, settling down into an armchair one of the twins had dragged over to his brother's bed. "'Twas nothing serious anyway, just a few scratches."

At that the Lord of Imladris raised an eyebrow, staring at the younger elf in disbelief.
"Scratches, son of Thranduil?" he questioned. "Well, what about the broken ribs…"

"Only three, my lord, the rest was merely cracked," Legolas replied, smiling innocently.

"…the cuts and bruises…"

"Not worth mentioning."

"…the concussion and rather severely burnt leg…"

"I have had much worse, Lord Elrond."

"…and the knife that stuck out of your shoulder for so long that we had almost forgotten to remove it because we had become so used to the sight?"

"There was a knife?"

Elrond shook his head in mock dismay, stifling a smile, while Aragorn burst out laughing, for a short time anyway, until his body let him know what exactly it thought of that pastime.
After he had caught his breath, the young ranger asked,

"Knife? Burnt leg? What happened to you, Legolas?"

The Lord of Rivendell got up and gazed at both of them seriously before the prince could reply.
"You are both not well yet, so please, don't overdo it. I will give you exactly fifteen minutes before I come back and throw you," he nodded into Legolas' direction, "out so Estel can get some rest. Do you understand?"

Both of them nodded earnestly, innocent looks on their faces, and Elrond left the room, wondering once again how he should survive the next two weeks. Perhaps he could convince Thranduil that he had urgent business in Lothlórien? He could go and visit Glorfindel until Aragorn and Legolas were well again…

No, he thought as he closed the door, he wouldn't go anywhere near Lórien as long as his golden haired advisor was there. He really was not in the mood for his You-cannot-be-serious-please-tell-me-you-are-joking-look that would closely be followed by the I-told-you-so-speech and the Things-a-proper-elf-lord-never-does-speech.
'Ilúvatar, just when did my life become so complicated?'

Aragorn watched the door close behind his father before looking at his friend with wide eyes.
"Are you really alright, Legolas? What did Donyc do to you?"

The elven prince smiled at his human friend, leaning back into the stuffy armchair.
"Nothing much, Estel, really. There was a knife, yes, but that was about all. Elves heal quickly, as you well know. How are you?"

The young human stopped himself just before he could shake his head, and decided to just smile at Legolas.
"I am fine, or at least I will be, my friend. And now quit stalling and tell me!"

Legolas quickly told Aragorn about the fight in the cave, only leaving out the part where Donyc had taunted him with an account of what he had done to the younger man. He was quite sure that his friend didn't want to be reminded of that, and it would probably take the young ranger some time to put it behind him.

Aragorn listened quietly until the prince had finished his tale.
"So he is truly dead," he said softly, closing his eyes.

The fair haired elf nodded.
"He is, mellonamin. And if you ask me, he died a far too quick death."

The young man opened his eyes again, giving him a strained smile.
"I hate to say it, but I agree."

Legolas smiled at his human friend and let his eyes wander over the room that Lord Elrond had turned into a makeshift herb room and the twins into their temporary quarters, since they had refused to leave Aragorn's side before he had woken up.
"Where are those creatures you call your brothers? I had thought they were here."

Aragorn gave a careful shrug.
"They were, until Celylith took them to the stables to look at some horses. Really, Legolas, that elf is the worst liar I have seen in a long time. Do you know what they are up to?"

Legolas gave his friend a horror-stricken look.
"The stables? Oh, please Elbereth, he hasn't really kept it, has he…"

"Kept what? Legolas?"

Legolas closed his eyes as he slowly shook his head. He had quickly found out just why that supply bag had moved and hissed: It was very displeased to have been separated from its colony and didn't like horses – or elves – overly much.

The spider inside the bag, of course, not the bag itself.

Celylith had apparently really found the baby spider which he had tracked a few days ago, and had brought it with him, convinced that this was the breakthrough in the relationship between their two races.

Legolas had been able to stop his friend before he could open the bag to show him how sweet and adorable the spider really was, and ordered him to get rid of the thing once they arrived in Mirkwood. Celylith had promised to do so, but apparently he hadn't been able to part with the "sweet, gorgeous little thing".
The prince winced when he remembered the hostile hissing the arachnid had emitted during their heated discussion, an endless series of "Wicked, wicked!!" and "Nasty elves, put me down, nasty!".

"Legolas?" Aragorn prompted again.

The elf opened his eyes and shook his head again.
"You don't want to know, Aragorn, you just don't want to know. Trust me on this. I will tell you later. If the palace still stands, that is. Perhaps I will simply leave with Glónduil and never come back…"

"Where is he going?" Aragorn asked, leaning back into the pillows and suppressing a yawn. He was feeling quite exhausted, his father had a point there…

Legolas studied his friend's tired face as he replied.
"He is going north-east with the next long-term patrol that is leaving. It is a patrol whose captain is extremely open and tolerant – don't say it, for a wood-elf, I know. They will be gone for over at least two years, it will be more than enough time for him to reconsider his attitude towards other races. It was quite hard to convince my father not to have him thrown into the dungeons for the next few centuries."

The human nodded, feeling relieved that this was all that would happen to the dark haired elf. He didn't really like him, and he had had to endure more than his fair share of taunting and degrading remarks from him, but he didn't blame him for what had happened. He was quite sure the elf had never meant him any harm, and Cornallar would have found other ways if Glónduil hadn't supplied him with information. One could say about him what one wanted, but the dark haired elf had been anything but unimaginative.

"Good," he said, struggling to keep his eyes from closing, "I fear Elladan has still some things to discuss with him."

The elven prince laughed, rummaging through his pockets.
"You could say that, my friend."

The young human frowned, watching his friend.
"What are you looking for?"

Legolas' face lit up as his fingers closed around a small object he had found in the breast pocket of his leather vest.
"I have something for you, Strider," he said, pulling his hand out of his pocket. "Your brothers instructed me to return it to you once we found you."

He opened his hand and offered his friend the small, silver, leaf-shaped brooch Cornallar had sent together with his note not so long ago. The prince studied the small piece of jewellery closely, once again marvelling at its beauty and wondering how it had managed to survive the entire journey without a scratch or dent.

Aragorn reached up and Legolas put the brooch in his hand, closing his fingers tightly around his friend's.

"I hadn't even noticed," the ranger muttered, his eyes filling with guilt, "I never noticed it was gone."

The fair haired elf shook his head, giving a short laugh.
"And nobody could blame you, mellonamin. I am sure you had other things on your mind."

The young man looked seriously at his friend, inclining his head as far as he could without risking it to implode again.
"Thank you," he said softly. "Thank you for returning this. It means a lot to me."

"I know, Strider, I know," Legolas answered, squeezing his hand gently before placing his friend's arm on his bandaged chest. "I think you should get some rest, Estel. Your father will be here soon."

"Well, he isn't back yet, is he?" Aragorn asked, a mischievous sparkle in his silver eyes.

"No, Aragorn, whatever it is you are thinking, I will have no part in it," Legolas said hastily, eyeing the door fearfully. "I have not gone through all this to rescue you only to see Lord Elrond kill you for being out of bed or something like that. I would like to see you healed before you go and get yourself injured once more."

"Valar, what is it? Are you still sulking because of that bow?" Aragorn asked incredulously.

Legolas shot him a nasty look.
"It was my very favourite bow, human, and it was a lot older than you."

He smiled at his friend, turning serious again.
"But it was well worth it."

Aragorn gazed at him, suddenly looking older than he was.
"Thank you," he said simply, those two words conveying more than many sentences.

The elven prince simply nodded, brushing a strand of dark hair away from his friend's forehead.
"You should go to sleep, Estel, or your father will have my hide."

Estel smiled and closed his eyes, before opening them again, fixing a pleading stare on the elf.
"You haven't finished that song."

Legolas raised an amused eyebrow.
"How would you know? You fell asleep after the first three verses."

"One more reason to finish it. Please?" Aragorn asked, tightening his fingers around the brooch.

Legolas shrugged lightly, smiling fondly at the young human.
"If you insist, my friend, I will even sing it all over again."

"I insist," Estel mumbled tiredly, closing his eyes again.

The prince lightly touched his friend's cheek.
"Reckless human."

"Stubborn elf."

A short while later, Lord Elrond walked down the corridor, past Legolas' room to his human son's, a pile of white bandages in his hands. As he steeled himself for another argument that would surely ensure if he tried to remove Legolas from Estel's room, he suddenly stopped, his ears straining to pinpoint the location of the faint singing he could hear. After a second, he decided that it came from Estel's room, and, intrigued, he walked up the hallway to the doors and entered as soundlessly as possible.

The occupants of the room obviously hadn't noticed his appearance, and so he remained standing in the doorway, smiling at the sight before him.

His human son was lying in his bed fast asleep, still looking pale and exhausted, but already a lot better than in the past days. Next to him, in an armchair that looked as if it didn't belong in this room, sat the Prince of Mirkwood, one hand resting lightly on his friend's chest that rose and fell with every breath the man took, singing a song that Elrond had never heard before.

Elrond's smile broadened, and he quietly leaned against the wall, watching the friends. As he listened to Legolas' clear voice, he suddenly understood that Estel had indeed been correct, even more than he himself had known.

This had never been about the game, as Cornallar had claimed. There had never been a game, it had only existed in his former advisor's twisted mind. Besides, it weren't the players that mattered, it were the pieces, the pieces one could never fully control. These pieces had motives the other elf had never known, and never felt, and that was the reason why he had failed in the end.

There were some things that mattered more than one's own life, and one of those was the need to protect those you loved. But Cornallar, so blinded by grief and hate, had only seen his own darkness reflected in others, and had slowly forgotten that not he was controlling the pieces, but that the pieces were beginning to slip out of his grasp.

That was something the dark haired elf had never understood, Elrond thought as he slowly left the room, he had never understood that, sometimes, there was friendship so true and binding that it was all that truly mattered.
It was something Cornallar's son had understood though, and so did the two young ones in front of him, the elf lord mused, giving his son and the prince one last look before he closed the door.

He leaned against the door and took a deep breath, for the first time in weeks feeling truly at peace.

'Nay, Cornallar, the game was over the second you made your first move, and you never had full control of it. It just took some time to become apparent, and when it did, you weren't prepared to face the facts,' he thought, slowly beginning to walk down the corridor.

Behind him, the song continued, floating loftily through the hallways, a symbol of a friendship so strong that nothing but death would ever be able to separate it, and Elrond decided with a smile that it was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard in his long life.

The End

ada - father (daddy)
edain - humans, men

mellonamin - my friend

I know I know I know: What are Elrond's plans for Seobryn? And what about the sweet little spider? Well, my friends, I need something to motivate you to read the next story as well, don't I? The questions will be answered in a few months, don't worry... *runs off to escape readers' wrath* Mhahaha, I am so evil... *g*

Okay, this is the place where I want to thank a few people.

First, again, Halo Son and Lina Skye for telling me to write a story in the first place, something which I never would have considered otherwise.

Second, my little sister for encouraging and supporting me, and for coming up with ... uhm, let's just say interesting ways to hurt Aragorn and Legolas, even though I rarely used her ideas, which is a good thing, believe me! Thanks a lot, little one! (Mhaha, she hates it when I call her that!)

Third, the Coca Cola Company for inventing Diet Coke with Lemon (Hmmmm, yummy!!), which kept me going on more than one occasion. Countless litres were devoured in the process of writing this fic.

And, last but not least, all my LOVELY reviewers. It is impossible to overestimate the amount of encouragement I received from you, and I would very much like to thank all of you, again. You helped me beat off the plot bunnies, gave
me lots of lovely ideas (I never wanted to poison Legolas, really!! *g*), and continuously made my day! Thanks so much for your support! *huggles all of them*

Very well, this is it then, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and I enjoyed it a LOT, believe me.

If you want to (*grim, threatening look*), send a last review to tell me what you think about the story as a whole, and I will see you in a few month, hopefully end of May!


Additional A/N:

Acacia - *g* Don't worry, Aragorn will wake up! I need him for the next fic! Hey, you're right! JKR does it as well, but she mentioned Yorkshire Pudding! And there was something else that was plain disgusting, but I've forgotten what it was... Ah well. I'm getting old.
Sabercrazy - *grins evilly* Yeah well, if all this taught us one thing, it is never to get one of them angry at you. And never ever to hurt their little brother/son/best friend. At least not if you want to see another sunrise... As I said, I'm sorry for Nólad. Really. But you're right, he's happy now - althought I've heard that Lina Skye has broken him out of the Halls of Mandos to kep him as her personal love slave... *g* Uh-huh, Elrond is NOT a happy camper right now...
Imbefaniel - Oh, poor you! *pats her back* But insulting the Valar is never a good thing... Oh, I had completely forgotten about the new year, thanks! I hope you manage to make a new, beautiful, even better bow! You could five it to Legolas, the poor little elfling... *g*
Lina - LOL, what? A gay cross-dresser? Well, if you intended to get him to spare Estel's life, than that wasn't exactly the right thing to say... *g* Well, yes, this time I agree with you, Cornallar IS nuts. But hey, we knew that, didn't we? *grabs Lina by the shirt* Will you just stop it? You run into every scene and slap and hit and insult my characters! Enough is enough! You threaten my characters, and I fall back. You hit and b**** slap them, and I fall back. The line must be drawn here, this far, no farther! I will make you pay for what you've done.... Éomer! Get here out of here before I do something I will NOT regret later!! *g* J/K.... *giggles* Your love-slave, huh? Well, uhm, okay then! And don't worry, I won't kill Estel ... not in this story, anyway... Ooops, did I just say that out loud? *huggles her* Thanks so much for all your reviews! They are so great!
Reginabean - *tears in eyes* Oh, that was so beautiful ... the white little pamphlet... disappearing into the clouds... *blows nose* Awww! Well, I'm sorry for Nólad, really. But hey, you'll get over it! I did - after a month or two...
ManuKu - *nervoeses Kichern* Uhm, ja, fuer Deprimierte war das Kapitel auch nicht unbedingt gedacht... Aber okay, wenn ich dich zum Weinen gebracht habe, dann ist meine Mission doch erfuellt! Ich meine, wenn ich dich zum Heulen bringen kann, dann muss es ja ganz gut gewesen sein ... und wie gesagt, ich habe auch geweint - aber nur ein ganz klitze-kleines bisschen! *verbeugt sich tief* Danke fuer das Kompliment, langsam bekomme ich Uebung in den Kampfszenen! Woll'n wir doch mal sehen, wer hier das Sagen hat... *g*
ThE iNsAnE oNe - Uhm, I'm sorry about the school uniform? And I AM sorry, really! And see, you still have your Nólad-clone, you can huggle him all you want! But be a bit careful, even clones tend to suffocate if squeezed too tightly... *wide eyes* O-kay, I take it that you liked the Donyc-dies-scene then? He deserved it, that mean little... I'm calm. I'm calm... And see, all the baddies are dead, including Cornallar, and Nólad is really happier now. Once he can escape Lina who has kidnapped him and made him her love-slave, that is... *g* Well, you have your clone, where is ITB? Huh?? Where??
Lady Lenna - *g* Glad you liked Donyc's death, I was grinning myself when I wrote it... It's great you like it, and don't worry, Estel is NOT dead. I would never kill him! Well, not in _this_ story, anyway... *evil grin*
Coreinha - Well, yes, it was a very sad scene, I'll admit that... Meep! Your profs? *hastily* No, don't worry, Estel's just fine, don't worry! See?? See???? Thanks a lot for all your reviews!!
Froggy - Well, I wouldn't know about French phrases, but C'est la vie fitted just fine! But hey, I know perhaps twenty words, so I wouldn't know... *g* Don't worry, our fav ranger will be fine, and Elladan's hair is back to normal now. But I'm sure he hasn't forgotten about it.... *g*
Mommints - Just ignore the warriors. They're spoil sports, nothing more... *g* Awww... *blushes crimson* Thanks so much for the compliments! I am so glad you like it! Wow, wicked! I have my own scimitar! Yay! Be afraid, be very afraid... *g* You are right, large battlescenes are just the horror! I hated mine every step of the way, and I didn't even write a large one! Thanks a lot for your reviews, and good luck with your battle!
A.Katz Omnipotent King - Thanks! Finally, someone who understands the needs to sacrifice characters, no matter how much you like them! Well, I will read your parody once I managed to get a computer, which might take some time, but hey... *g* And thanks for saying that, I HATE writing battle scenes... Well, I updated so fast because I was always at least one chapter ahead, most of the time two or three. So I could update even when the last few days were to busy to write.. Sorry, no, I have't sen Chicago, but one of these days I will. Probably... *g*. And: 'Ach du lieber Gott! Es regnet blaue Hosen!' Was soll DAS denn bitte heissen? Und wo hast du das her? *grins evilly* Well, let's see if you can figure that out...
Sue - Thanks! We aim to please - or something like that... *g* Glad you liked the end, I found the reunion quite hard to write, somehow. I hope you'll like this last bit as well!
Thranduilion - One of the best OC you've ever seen? Thanks!! I liked him quite a lot myself - poor baby... Thanks for the review!
Analia - Of course you can do it! Breathe in ... breathe out .... breathe in ... breathe out ... Oh, and I agree: Cornallar, Donyc, Addramyr and all the others deserved what they got! They were just plain evil! Don't woory, Estel'll be fine - I think. Read on to find out!
Mouse - Yupp, Legolas deserved to kill him, and I agree: Poor Elrond will not be happy. I wonder if he's ever letting them out again... *g* Well, I'm sorry about Nólad, but the plot demanded it. *shrugs* Tough luck. *evil grin*
Firnsarnien - Awww... *blushes* It wasn't that good, as it? But thanks a lot for saying all these nice things!! And COME ON, it wasn't a real cliffy! Well, I thought it wasn't! You know that I would never kill poot little Estel, don't you? Uhm 'heart pangs' Well, I'm sorry? I really liked him as well, but there was no way to let Nólad live, sorry... *g*
Nell Marie - Glad you like it, and killing off the baddies was actually a lot of fun! Thanks for reviewing!
Kandice - I know that feeling, believe me... *grrr* Die, C&S, die!! But I LOVE writing them... As I said, a new story is in the planning, but will unfortunately take some time to come out. You'll have to be patient, I'm afraid... *g*
Xsilicax - 'A noble death'. I like that! That's true, Nólad was very noble indeed. Well, your darling Estel will be fine - eventually. Okay, he might have a headache for a while, but he'll heal. Well, I would like to go on, but there's not much more to happen, sorry! As Donyc said, all good thing must come to an end... Thanks for all your reviews!
Kaeera - *grr* Ja ja ja, das sagen sie alle... Aber ok, Entschuldigung akzeptiert! *sabbert mit* Er IST cool! Ich kann es kaum ertwarten, dass X2 in die Kinos kommt... LOL, Elrond im pinken Kostuem? Interessanter Gedanke... Tja, anscheinend sind Kopfwunden ansteckend... Oder sie liegen in der Familie! Keine Angst, ein bisschen Elrohir kommt noch, leider nicht ganz so vile, fuerchte ich... Hmm, Elrohir-Verletzungs-Szene in der naechsten Story? Kann ja mal gucken, was sich da machen laest, aber die Zwillinge kommen wahrscheinlich nur am Anfang vor, denke ich. Tja, sei DU mal froh, dass du ueberhaupt einen PC hast! Ich armes Wurm habe ab So. keinen mehr! *grummelgrummel* Na ja, auf jeden Fall danke fuer all deine reviews! Man sieht sich dann im Mai, nehme ich mal an...
Arahirien - Yeah well, Nólad WAS good, but... Sorry. *shrugs* Glad you still like it though! Thanks for the review!
Alilacia - Sure you can put it on your hard drive. But careful, it takes quite a lot of space, there are 263 pages now! *sighs* You are right, Legolas of course GOT hurt, he's just stupid sometimes... And this time it's the twins that save Estel, they needed to get to do that as well at least once, I think... Oh, great you like the Donyc-dies-entence. I really love it, so it's great someone else does! Well, yes, Elrond is of course going on a litle guilt trip later on, where do you think Estel gets it from? Thanks sooo much for this great long review and all the others you sent me! Thanks a lot! *huggles her*
Ana - *nods fervently* Yes, Nólad will be _very_ happy there. At least I hope so... *grins* I can just imagine what our dear elven prince would say to a spider... "Have you completely lost your mind?? A spider? A SPIDER??? Argh!!" *shrugs* Or something like that... *g*
Lavender of the Shire - Well, it's not that I don't like long chapters, but somehow I feel that I'm losing control when it's longer than 12-15 pages... *sighs* The last one was 22, I think...
TrustingFriendship - Yeah, you are right, I mean, I had to kill four people! It was quite a bit of hard work, I can tell you... *g* And don't worry, poor ickle Estel will wake up, I just felt that he needed a rest. A very LONG rest... *g* Thanks so much for all your reviews!
Firondoiel - *hands her an Estel plushie* Well done! 21 chapters! That's hard work... *g* Aww, thanks for saying that, battle scenes are something like a nemesis of mine. I hate them! Yeah, I agree: Poor Nólad, but sorry, it was necessary... Glad you like it! Thanks for reviewing!
Miss Undastood - It did NOT sound like 'Mhahahaha'! I _really_ cried! I liked Nólad, a lot! *wide eyes* Uhm, don't worry, your baby Seobryn is fine, he is not hurt, Elrond is looking after him and you'll find out what happens to him! Well, not now, but... *evil grin* Thanks so much for the compliments, but as I said in the A/N, it will take me some time to post the next story. Sorry, but there's nothing I can do about that... Thanks for all your reviews!
Zam - *for the threehundreds time today* I AM SORRY! I liked him as well! But I never said I wouldn't hurt him and the plot demanded it. Yessir. Sorry. LOL!! That scene is great! *watches orc horde slide down the hill* ROTFL, you are just a bunch of incompetent.... Ooops, I didn't say anything! Well, if you like Celylith, great! But don't go all Lina on me and try to make him your love-slave or anything, okay? *grins evilly* Yupp, I'm sure Estel doesn't agree with Legolas on the tree subject, but that's the beauty of it, isn't it? LOL, Sourbob shrugged Tinánd and Anárion to death? That's an ... interesting ... thought... I'm sorry for disappointing your orc horde, Legolas has a weird kind of humour sometimes... Thank you and Lina SO MUCH for all your reviews! I loved every single one of them, and the one (or was it two?) time Lina didn't review I spent the whole day crying in my room... *g* J/K!! *huggles noth of them* Thanks!!
Tbiris - You're disappointed? Wahhh!! *cries* Sorry, but I couldn't torture them to death or anything... But hey, if you want to, pay Mandos a visit and try to convince him to let Addramyr, Donyc and Cornallar out to play... *g* You want me to do what? After LOTR? Do you mean Post-War of the Ring? Well, perhaps. We'll see... Thanks for all your reviews!
Shandrial - Oh, come on! That's not a cliffy! Not a REAL cliffy anyway... Uhm, what last comment? *evil grin* Yes, in Tolkien's universe Aragorn still has to become king, but I could make it A/U... *cackles evilly* No, never fear, only joking! I would never kill our dear ranger! Yupp, poor Nólad, but hey: I'm evil. He had to die, sorry....
Carrie - Uhm, so I take it you are a little upset? How many times do I have to say it today, I AM SORRY? I couldn't let him live, though, he would have been so unhappy here. Without his friend and family and all that. I really cried when I Nólad-dies-in-Elrond's-arms-scene, I did! I thought it was a litle sad... Well, I really hope you WILL update soon! I might not have a computer to check regularly, but still! I demand an update! I posted, so now you have to as well! Thanks so much for all your lovely reviews, they mean a lot to me! *huggles her* Thanks!
Marbienl - Uhm, I lost your email (well, I didn't really _lose_ it, but I can't read it right now), so I won't be able to answer any question or comment on anything you said. Sorry. Let me just say that I am still waiting for that story of yours and that I really am hoping that you will update soon, and that I really loved your feedback. Thanks a lot for all your support!
Cestari - Don't worry, Seobryn is fine, and has finally got rid of that evil uncle of his. LOL, the Ultimate Bad Luck of the Universe, you could say that! Or they are just unlucky enough to have US after their blood... Yes, I have some of the letters, and once I have a computer I can use and a little time, I will most definitely write a review! And hey, I am not torturing them! My alter ego is... *g*
Jambaby1963 - Well, I would love to drop a few hints (I know I am evil, I would just LOVE to torment you a bit!), but since I have no real idea of what's supposed to happen... *shrugs* Sorry. Yeah, well, Legolas was extraordinarily unhappy, I think. Plus Donyc was a real bastard, wasn't he? Huh, Hahn Airbase? I have no idea, I've never been near Hahn. I'm from the north of the country, and we never had many airbases there. Or anything else, for that matter... *g* Well, my condolences for living there, Germany is dreadful. Ah well, thanks for the reviews!
Serenity C. - He is not dead, why does everybody so reeadily assume that I would kill him? *hurt look* I love him, I would never - permanently - harm him! No, not permanently... *evil cackle*
Alexis - *tired sigh* I have been reassuring people the whole day now, so: He is okay, he will be fine, and I would never kill him. Okay? *g*
Lievre - *nervous smile* Hey, you can go and kill them again if you'd like! Just go and ask Mandos if he'd let them out for a while and then... *g* I am sorry, really, but he had to die. I won't explain again just why, but he had to. *smiles* Oh, that's a really nice card! I will make sure he gets it once he wakes up from that coma of his... *evil grin* Thamks so much for all your reviews!!
Alisha - *nods* Just like me. I always start to do things when it's already too late or I'm running out of time or something like that... It's a curse. *sour smile* Oh, it's no problem, it's so great to see you happy... If you like nagging, please, go on.... NOT! Don't you dare! It's here, I've updated! Oh, you too? He had to die, he will be much happier with his friends and family, besides, who are YOU to tell me about this? You killed or almost-killed SO MANY nice people in your story!!! Really... *shakes head* Well, I would like to thank you for all your great reviews, it was an honour for me that you've read and reviewed my weird little story. Thanks so much! *huggles her*
Stasia - Glad you are so happy that the baddies are finally dead! *g* But hey, I am too! They were morons, all of them... *hurt look* I haven't 'maimed' them or anything! They will be fine, given time... Oh, come on, admit it: You like torture! Admit it! Admit it!! *g* Well, a bit of sarcasm never hurts, or that's at least my motto. *sighs tiredly* It's not a real cliffy, is it? I mean, you KNOW I would never kill poor little Estel, don't you? Don't you? Nah, better don't answer that... *blushes* Thanks so much for all your compliments, and all your extremely long and helpful reviews! I was always so glad to see them!
CrazyLOTRfan - Well, I'm German! We are all odd, but quite a lot of us don't have a sense of humour, unfortunately. Plus the bavarians are _really_ weird. Besides, you can't even understand their dialect. Very odd people, those... *frowns* 'Warm fuzy ending'? Estel loses consciousness and could die? Fuzzy? *grins* No, I understand what you mean ... but hey, it's getting fuzzier! *g*
Aralondwen - LOL, 'this much'?? That's quite a lot... Well, I would advise you not to print all of it, because it's something like 230 pages now... Your printer would probably quit on you if you tried... *g* Well, if my story gets you through biology, it's woth something, isn't it? *wide eyed* Thanks a lot for all your compliments! It's great you like it so much! Uhm, did anybody ever tell you that you're weird? Really weird? But hey: I like you! Thanks so much for your ... interesting ... reviews!!
MidnightLoner - How many more casualities? Hmm, about thirty humans and two elves, but they did - mostly - deserve it. Thanks a lot for all your reviews! *huggles her*
TrinityTheSheDevil - Great you love this fic, that's always great to hear! *big fat grin* Uhm, and since you ASKED so nicely, I even risk my live by sitting in froint of the screen instead of packing my things to update! Ain't that great?? *g*
E - *gulps* Your mafia of monkeys? Well, we can't have that, can we - but it might take some time, so don't get impatient... Well, with Elrond: I think it's partly because Cornallar was an elf. I mean, it was someone he had known for a few thousand years. And I don't really know if he had really killed Donyc or one of the other men in cold blood, I mean, he was just very angry at the moment. Okay then, very very very very VERY angry. *blushes* Oh, I passed the C&S exam? Now that's great! Thanks a lot for all your lovely reviews!
One15 - Oh, du mochtest Donyc nicht? Warum bloss?? *g* Hmm, ein Elben-sind-perfekt-Anhaenger? Na ja, ich finde NICHT, dass sie perfekt sind! *hustHaldirhustCelebornhust* Tja, ich liebe unsere beiden kleinen Elbenzwillinge auch! Sie sind einfach putzig! Och, Sachsen? Alles suedlich von Hannover ist Sueden, also: Suedstaatler. Danke fuer deine reviews!!
Aurienia - *grins evilly* Great you like Donyc's death, I was wondering if it was evil enough. But I just couldn't come up with a better way of killing him, so I just left it like that... Well, as I said, I really can't post sooner, there's nothing I can do about it, really! Thanks so much for all your reviews, and I really loved your death threats! They were most imaginative!
JoX5 - Yes, all good things must come to an end... I hate to end it as well, I had sooo much fun! Hey, see: Here it is, you didn't have to wait too long! *g* Thanks for reviewing!

And, for the last time: Thanks for your reviews! They helped me loads and I loved every single one of them!