A/N: I don't own anything. Please review!

Edoras was a hum of activity when they arrived. Most were celebrating the victory at Helms Deep: laughing, drinking, and carrying on in a cheerful manner. Doors were open and overflowing with excited villagers, most with mugs of ale grasped in their hands. Despite the sorrow that lingered from the loss of loved ones, joy from the victory over Saruman's army prevailed. They knew that the war was far from over. They knew more lives would be lost, but that did not hinder them from enjoying the company of those who were still living. Inside the Golden Hall, the cheerful air was also present.

"Welcome my lords, once again to this mighty house. I pray thee, come and feast with us," said Théoden happily as he sat at the head of a long wooden table.

Hermione ate little during supper, forever watching her father as he sat so near the king. He ate solemnly and paid no heed to the watchful gaze of either Eowyn or herself. After the meal was cleared away and a cheerful chatter was taken up, Eowyn commanded that beds were to be made for the four new comers to the Golden Hall. However, Aragorn declined and instead informed her of his destination the following morn, earning himself a heated argument. During the argument, in which Eowyn accused Aragorn of taking valiant men away from the upcoming battle, he spoke what Hermione had known all along.

"My lady, I leave you not unarmed. Only two of my companions accompany me. The road is too perilous for others so young," he said, casting his eyes upon Hermione.

Eowyn looked up Hermione with hard eyes, "She has followed you on many a dangerous venture. Why do you cast her aside now?" she asked.

"She nears your age, my lady, and as such has far too much to live for to go on such a road," he said.

"To go on this road is madness for anyone," said Eowyn.

"It is not madness my lady. Even if it was I would go, with companionship or no," he said.

Eowyn's eyes were hard set and without another word she turned on her heel and left to prepare the promised bed chambers. Once the numerous guards, courtiers and maids had dispersed, Aragorn called Hermione to the outer area of the hall. Standing there, wind playing with their dark hair and softly caressing each face, Aragorn took both of Hermione's hands in his own and gently kissed them. Such a gesture brought tears to her eyes.

"You have many years ahead of you Hermione, ones that should be spent in peace; either here or in the havens. Much awaits you in the future, and I will not take that away from you," he said, meeting her eyes.

"If you do not return, what type of future will I have? We need you adar," she said, breathing deeply; "I need you."

"Ield nin, with or without me, your future will be well," he said.

"You leave behind those who love you, those who would rather ensure your safety rather than their own. Why do you abandon us, and all of our hope?" she asked, her eyes glassy and hands shaking.

"There is always hope, Hermione. Do not forsake it when the tide turns ill," he pressed his lips upon her brow, lingering there for a moment. "I will return."

"Promise me," she said, voice but a whisper.

"I promise,"

Aragorn released her hands and stepped away, returning to the hall and then his chambers. Hermione remained outside, in the chill evening air, gazing into the distance with sorrowful eyes. The sun had long since set, enveloping everything in an inky curtain. Bellow her in the city lanterns had been lit and the cheerful silhouettes of the people of Edoras danced upon the ground. The chill air played with her dark hair and the ends of her cloak; billowing them about her in cheerful mockery. The cold bit her fingers and stung her eyes and she felt tears well and spill over. Water marked wet lines along her pale cheeks and dripped onto the front of her shirt: she made no move to stop it.

There she stood, wrapped in a sorrow, for the entire world to see. Slowly her life was breaking apart and she could not pick up the pieces. She had left Hogwarts and the wizarding world at the beginnings of a war that may destroy it entirely. Her father and lover were leaving her to go on some hopeless venture, one would cost them their lives. If indeed they did not return from the Paths of the Dead, her mother would fade from grief and her grandfather would be heavily struck with the death of his adopted son. She would lose all she held dear and her future would be ruined. Whether or not she left for the havens, she would not find happiness there. No, only despair.

"Melamin, why do you cry?" asked a soft voice from behind.

Hermione turned and found Legolas standing in a doorway. His form was cast in the bright lamplight from inside the hall and he took on a luminous appearance. Standing there, he was like an angel, and as she looked at him Hermione couldn't help but let another tear fall.

Closing the door Legolas stepped forward and gathered her in his arms, pressing her unmoving body close to his own. He stroked her hair and pressed his cheek atop and head and let her quietly soak his tunic with tears. After a moment, she spoke, voice hoarse and soft.

"Promise me you'll come back,"

"I promise. Nothing, not even Sauron himself could keep me from you," he said, hugging her tighter to him.

"But what about the dead?" she asked.

Legolas pulled away slightly and looked down at her. Hermione, however, stayed where she was, though, face buried in his tunic. "You will be facing the dead, Legolas. They do not suffer the living. While Sauron would lock you in Barad-Dur, they will kill you on the spot. You might not even get a chance to notch an arrow."

"You've been reading in your grandfather's library again haven't you?" he said with a sigh, having found her there numerous times pouring over some large tome carrying sometimes frightening information.

"That's not the point," she said, pushing him away, irked by his lack of concern, "This may be the last time we see each other again and I just want to make sure that you know what you're up against."

"I know what I will face Hermione. I have heard tales of the Paths of the Dead and what lies there. We will not die on this quest," said Legolas.

"How do you know that? How can you be so certain that you will live to see the end of this war? How can you be certain that we will be together again?" she cried.

"I am not certain, but I believe that the Valar will protect us, and I believe in your father," he said, coming closer her.

She turned away from him, cheeks red from her slightly hysterical outburst. He left her for a moment before wrapping his arms around her once again. This time, she returned the embrace and locked her arms around his torso. She buried her face in his tunic and clung to him desperately. They stood, wrapped in each other's arms, each taking comfort in the other's presence. Much time passed before either spoke.

"I don't want you to go," Hermione said at risk of sounding like an elfling.

"I have to," he said.

"I know," she whispered.

Silence settled once again as the pair listened to the still of the night. Birds had stopped their chatter, horses were quieting, and lamps were being extinguished. The moon shone bright above them and Hermione would swear you could hear the drop of a pin; even without elvish hearing. As the wind picked up Hermione felt Legolas' arms tighten around her. Softly, just loud enough for her to here, he spoke:

"I love you,"

Hermione smiled against his tunic, "I love you too,"

Slowly they pulled apart and looked into each other's eyes. They leaned in; eyes now half lidded and gently began to search out the other's lips. Their noses brushed, their lips parted, hands caressed, and then they connected; lips touching gently and tongues softly meeting. Legolas kissed her sweetly, leaving the taste of his lips lingering long after they had parted, and soon he moved to place soft kisses over her face. He mapped out a path with his lips, memorizing every detail of her. He locked it all away in his memory, promising himself to never forget it; the taste of her, her smell, how her skin felt against his lips. He wanted to take it all with him.

As Legolas once again captured her mouth with his, Hermione found her inhibitions leaving her. The rational part of her mind told her that in the desperation of the situation things were getting too heated. The flush in her cheeks and the fire beneath her skin was not present in the proper place; there on the Golden Hall. However, the more animalistic side of her mind didn't care where they were and would be happy if he took her then and there. She wanted him, she needed him, and though she knew she couldn't, she never wanted to let him go.

With regret she broke the kiss, resting her forehead on his shoulder, tightening her arms around him. Legolas brought a hand to stroke her hair, sending a wave of contentment through her. He pressed his lips to her temple and whispered words of comfort and love to her softly in their native tongue. They stood for some time, gently swaying, wrapped in each other. Hermione let all thoughts of time leave her and waited for the sun to rise once again. Slowly, and much to Hermione's surprise, Legolas scooped her up in his arms and carried her across to the door. He walked with a slow and soft step so as not to disturb the resting inhabitants of the hall, coming to her room opposite the one he shared with Aragorn and Gimli. Once inside, in the light of two flickering candles, he set her down upon her bed. He did not leave, however. He stayed, kneeling beside her; one arm still wrapped around her midsection, and brushed wayward hair from her face. His fingers lingered upon her cheek and he leaned up to place the softest of kisses upon it. With a sigh he smiled at her and set his head in her lap.

"Your father must be wondering where I am," he said softly. "He would be furious if I stayed here with you,"

Hermione looked down at him, stroking his fair hair, "He would," she said.

"I know that," he said, lifting his head from her lap to look at her. "Yet I can't make myself leave you."

"Legolas," she breathed.

"I could not leave you out in the cold, standing alone, and I cannot seem to leave this room, now that you're safe and warm," he said. "I can't leave you,"

Hermione licked her lips and swallowed the lump in her throat from what she was about to say, "So don't,"

Legolas raised a thin eyebrow.

"Ada knows where he leads you, the danger you will face, the possibilities that arise from it," she paused, collecting her thoughts. "So stay, even if it mean's facing my father's wrath tomorrow. Stay, please,"

Legolas looked down, thinking over all possible situations that could arise from him spending the night in Hermione's room. Aragorn would be furious and have a price on his head. He could come barging in at some point during the night; if he awoke and found Legolas' unoccupied bed. He would forbid him from ever seeing Hermione again, or he could skip all formalities and push him off the next cliff they passed. Then there were the possibilities of what would happen between himself and Hermione during the night. It would possibly be their last night together, and he worried about the consequences of one heated evening. He worried about what he may leave behind.

"Legolas?" Hermione asked after he had been silent for some time.

Legolas raised his gaze from where it had been resting in her lap and looked at her, waiting expectantly for his answer. He paused for just a moment before he spoke, sifting through every thought before he made his decision.

"I'll stay," he said.

Hermione smiled and embraced him, kissing his cheek before she rose from the bed and walked over to her pack. She gathered together a nightdress and vanished behind a changing screen, leaving Legolas to undress on his own.

Hermione was quite elated that Legolas had decided to remain in her room for the night; not that she hadn't thought about every consequence of his stay before hand. Naturally she was worried about the possibility of what a simple kiss goodnight might lead to, especially after their heated embrace outside the Golden Hall. She knew that if she kept a level head, despite any instincts trying to dissuade her, she would regret nothing of this night.

Hermione emerged from behind the screen, dressed in a long white nightgown of a soft fabric to find Legolas sitting on the edge of her bed clad in only his leggings and undershirt. His hair was still braided and his tunic and boots had been placed safely on a chair near the bed. Legolas, upon her nearing him, pulled her into his lap, running a hand through her unbraided locks. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, kissing the pale skin softly as he did so. Hermione on the other hand stroked his hair in the same fashion he had done previously and sighed happily. Quietly they slipped into bed, wrapped in each other's arms, sharing light kisses as they did so. There they lay, heads cushioned by feather pillows and covered in the warm golden quilt. Hermione rose from Legolas' warm embrace but once; quietly extinguishing the two candles. With a last kiss, soft and lingering, both slipped into a dreamless sleep.

X

Hermione returned to the land of the waking slowly; the darkness dissipated, the fog parted and she saw everything with startling clarity. Traces of sunlight trickled in through the window slightly illuminating the room in its soft warmth. Beneath the quilt, wrapped in two strong arms, Hermione sighed heavily. She could hear movement in the hallway and the sounds of people conversing. At one point she even heard Gimli's bellowing laugh echoing through the halls. Regretfully Hermione turned and sat up, disentangling herself from Legolas. She rose from the bed, gently nudging Legolas awake in the process. They both dressed, a melancholy air about them, neither welcoming what was to come.

Hermione dressed slowly, setting her dressing gown aside and slipping on one of the only gowns she had stored in her pack. The long lavender dress trailed the floor and the sleeves billowed out around her hands. She carefully tied the silver sash around her waist and smoothed out the wrinkles that had set in from the time it sat in her small pack. She slipped on her tall boots, as she had no other footwear, and made sure the dress covered the brown leather. She ran a brush quickly through her loose hair and watched as Legolas strapped on his leather wrist guards. Once both were dressed, sorrow evident within their eyes, they stood face to face in the center of the room, hands clasped tightly.

"Hermione, mela en' coiamin," said Legolas, bringing a hand to her face, rubbing his thumb against her cheek.

"Cormamin niuve tenna' ta elea lle au'," said Hermione.

"Amin vestal lle, amin tula n'alaquel," he said.

"Amin ilyamen mela lle," she said, smiling sadly.

"Ar' amin lle," he said, leaning down to place a soft kiss on her lips.

Hermione smiled up at him, releasing his hand to wipe away any tears that may fall. With joined hands they left to the main hall where breakfast was to be served before they departed. Among those present were Aragorn, Gimli, Eomer, Théoden and a slightly melancholy Eowyn. Upon entering, taking a seat opposite Aragorn and Gimli, they received a rather puzzling look from Aragorn. Hermione could not decipher whether it was of anger, or of slyness.

After the meal they prepared to leave, Hermione and Legolas parting as he went to ready his horse, the king and Eomer lapsed into conversation, and the only ones left were Hermione and Eowyn. She was dressed in white and red, a solemnity surrounded her. They both sat, not far from each other, in quiet sadness. It was many minutes before Eowyn spoke, her voice baring no traces of the harshness it held before.

"You are aggrieved to see him go? The elf?" she asked, looking at her through a curtain of golden hair.

"Yes," said Hermione, "I worry that the Valar will not carry him safely through the Paths; that I may lose him."

Eowyn was shocked by such a forward display of emotion. After all, had they not been cold to one another since their first meeting? Eowyn slid down the wooden bench and laid a hand upon Hermione's shoulder, causing her to meet Eowyn's mirthless eyes.

"I worry for them too," she whispered.

It was then that Hermione saw a great tristine within Eowyn that mirrored her own. She knew that the woman held great affection towards her father, and Hermione knew he did not reciprocate it. It seemed that he had told her just that, and had broken her heart. Eowyn's pain, just like Hermione's, was fresh and new. However, whilst Hermione held the possibility of healing, if Legolas were to return to her, Eowyn did not. Aragorn would not heal her heart. Despite this Hermione found in her a companion, something akin to what she had with Ginny.

With a small sniff Hermione wrapped her arms around the elder girl and rested her cheek on her shoulder. Eowyn did the same, pulling the younger girl to her in a sisterly embrace. They were a tangle of long hair and gowns, of salty tears and choked sobs, and they sat there, wrapped in a cloak of sorrow, until Eomer roused them.

"Aragorn and his company are ready to depart," he said.

Softly both Eowyn and Hermione rose from their seats and followed Eomer and Théoden outside and down to the gates. Along the way Hermione spied many of the villagers leaning out of windows and standing in doorframes watching the farewell. The wind blew forcefully about them, tossing about their hair and long gowns. Hermione felt the bottom of her dress become weighted with caked mud from the street and the wind whistled in her ears. When they reached the gates, Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli were waiting for them, horses at the ready. Gimli was already seated atop Arod, but Legolas and Aragorn were waiting pensively for Hermione and the king.

"Good speed to you all. May you return from these perilous Paths unharmed," said Théoden.

"May you be blessed with good fortune on this journey," said Eomer, standing tall and proud.

"I bid you all farewell," said Aragorn, eyes lingering upon both Eowyn and Hermione before he leapt atop his horse.

Legolas stepped forward and brought a hand to her cheek, Hermione doing the same, "Amin mela lle," he said.

"Amin mela lle vithel," she said.

"Namaarie," he said, turning and leaping in front of Gimli.

With that the gate opened and they turned their horses, riding out of the city. As they did so, Hermione ran after them, pausing a little outside the gate. Wind tossed her hair and gown about, as did it to Eowyn when she came to stand beside her. The pair watched the company leave, departing under the shadow of a mountain until they were far even from Hermione's sight. Hermione felt Eowyn clasp her cold hand around her own as they both gazed after the departing warriors. As they did Hermione felt a tear slide down her cheek and a breathless word escaped her lips:

"Namaarie,"

A/N: Alright, before I start with anything else, I just realized as I was finishing this that I majorly screwed this up. I seemed to have read my sequence of events at the back of RotK incorrectly, as they only stop briefly at Edoras and then go to Dunharrow…unlike in this fic…I apologize for this, but I'm not going to change it. (I looked at a map and Edoras isn't that far from Dunharrow) If anyone complains too much, then I'll do some major editing, but since I think it's fine the way it is…it stays.

Anyway, I hope you liked this installment of ESLO and will review! There was lots of Legolas/Hermione in this one, and I softened the relationship between Eowyn and Hermione. I don't know why, but she reminds me of Ginny in a way.

Translations:

Iled nin- my daughter

Hermione, mela en' coiamin- Hermione, love of my life

Cormamin niuve tenna' tae lea lle au'- My heart shall weep until it sees thee again.

Amin vestal lle, amin tula n'alaquel- I promise you, I will come back (return)

Amin ilyamen mela lle- I will always love you

Ar' amin lle- And I you

Amin mela lle- I love you

Amin mela lle vaithel- I love you also (too)

Namaarie- farewell

Thank you's:

Firstly, thank you to my beta Zvezdana!

OnceUponADecember31- thank you!

Rock and Sarcasm- thanks!

Blue Rose4- thanks!

mdemanatee- thanks!

MysticalSpirites- I like your new name. Thanks!

xoulblade- you'll have to wait and see. Thanks!

Creative-Imagination505- thanks! . lol! You'll just have to read the next chapter.

Poet Diem- thanks!

Dark Me- thanks!

Prinsses Bloom6363- thanks!

Setsuna Bu- thanks!

TiffanyBlack2004- thanks!