AUTHOR'S NOTE:

Hold it! Before you go on and read this grand finale, I require that you have the following necessary equipment with you to help enhance the experience: (1) the saddest love song/ sentimental music you can find (or better yet, a copy of the song "If I Never Knew You" by Jon Secada and Shanice from the soundtrack of "Pocahontas"); (2) a heart-wrenching picture of Legolas with a devastated look on his face; (3) something to wipe your tears with! Got all of that? Okay, then you're ready to go! Hehehe . . .

That's all for now . . . now go ahead and read this chapter already; I'm really excited for you to find out how it's all going to end, so I won't delay you any longer!

PLS. JUST TAKE TIME TO READ THE REAL ANNOUNCEMENTS AT THE END OF THE CHAPTER!

HAPPY READING!

* * *

THE SACRIFICE

Chapter Fifteen - Forever

"Be at peace, son of Gondor."

For a moment Legolas could only stand still with shock and horror as he stared at the sight of their fallen comrade. He watched as Aragorn rose to his feet and turned away slowly from Boromir's body with tears in his eyes. Only when the Ranger began to walk towards him was the elf suddenly drawn back to his own concerns.

The battle was over. Many of the Uruk-Hai had been slain, and those who survived among them seemed to have all retreated. The forest had grown empty and quiet once more, with only the dead bodies left behind giving evidence to the chaos that had just occurred. Boromir was the first casualty they had come across after the battle, and hopefully the last.

Legolas stepped forward and grabbed his friend's arm urgently. "Have you seen Armir anywhere?" he demanded, failing miserably in controlling the upsurge of panic in his voice.

Aragorn stared back at him through eyes wide with alarm and concern. "What?" he said, brows heavy with anxiety. "No, I have not. I had thought all along that she was safe with you."

Legolas gritted his teeth and clenched his hands into fists to prevent herself from screaming with rage. "I have been looking for her everywhere, but could not find her." he muttered, his voice so deep and frustrated he almost growled.

The worry on Aragorn's face increased instantly the moment he heard this. He took a deep breath before speaking again. "The Uruks took Merry and Pippin . . ." he began, but was unable to say anything more when Legolas suddenly spun on his heel and began to run.

"Legolas, wait for me!" The elf heard Gimli shout from behind him, but he paid no attention. He had wasted enough time! He was going to find Armir NOW or . . .

Then, all at once, he skidded to a dead stop. Some meters ahead, a tall stranger had stepped out from the trees to stand in the path directly in front of him. It took Legolas a moment to realize who exactly this newcomer was, but by the time he did, his attention had already been caught by something else. The elf prince felt all the blood drain from his face and all the strength leave his body the moment he noticed the motionless figure that lay cradled in the stranger's arms.

"Armir . . ." he whispered, the horror and disbelief shaking every fiber of his being nearly convincing him that the entire world has come to an end.

* * *

Aragorn held up the orc knife with a shaking hand as he examined it carefully. Sure enough, through the blood he could see that the blade was lightly coated with a slimy black substance that reeked with a distinctive smell. The Ranger's heart sank as he shook his head and lifted his gaze back up to look at Elladan, who was standing before him

"Yes. It is poisoned." was all he could say, suddenly too struck with mounting grief to manage anything else besides that useless statement. It was hard enough speaking at all with the hard lump growing in his throat.

His foster brother nodded gravely. Aragorn could see that the elf's jaw was clenched tightly to prevent the tears welling in his eyes from coming out. Nothing, however, could mask the deep anguish that was reflected on every part of Elladan's handsome face, obviously suffocating him on the inside.

"Even if I have mastered the skill of making the antidote, you know it is not that simple." Elladan finally said, his voice soft but dangerously low and even. "It would take several hours to make, and she has not the strength to last that long. She should be lucky enough to make it through the next half hour."

Aragorn nodded. He was familiar with the devastating power of the fiendish poison. It traveled rapidly through the blood stream, and as it coursed through a victim's body it crippled all the vital organs one by one. It was a toxin so lethal, not even the fittest of elf warriors could withstand its potency. Its antidote had only recently been discovered by the Elven healers, and Elladan was right-it was not a simple potion to make, and would take time they did not have.

Time that a young, delicate elf maiden did not have.

Aragorn's hands balled into fists as tears of frustration and sorrow began to spill down his cheeks. In his many years with the Rangers, he had watched orc poison end the lives of any innocent people. But he has never seen it actually kill someone who was truly dear to him.

And now, it was going to take Armir away. His dearest childhood friend, and the only real sister he has ever known.

Aragorn inhaled deeply and shook his head, desperately trying to get a hold of the emotions swamping him. This was not the time for him to fall apart, no matter how aggrieved he was over what was happening. It was up to him to be the strong one, for the sadness he was feeling could not possibly compare to what Elladan and Legolas were going through.

Legolas. Aragorn turned his gaze towards the tree under which Elladan had set his daughter down, where the Mirkwood prince now was, spending the last few moments alone with his beloved.

Aragorn could feel his own heart break with pity for the two ill- fated lovers. It was stunning how fate could be so merciless and unjust at times. Legolas and Armir were the last people to deserve such a tragic ending like this. Their love was stronger and purer than any other he had ever witnessed, and now it was being cut short before it could even really begin.

Right from the start, Aragorn had feared that Fate had some severe trial in store for both his elf friends, but he never realized that it would be something like this. Somehow it was too difficult to believe that the Valar could be so cruel as to let such an unfair misfortune befall two blameless souls.

"She really does love him, does she not?"

Upon hearing these words, Aragorn turned back to Elladan and saw pity on the elf's face that mirrored his own. It was only then that he realized in full the disastrous consequences this tragedy would surely have on Legolas. He knew that if he were in the elf-prince's place, it would seem like his own death was also not too very far off. A death from heartbreak.

At last, the man sighed and nodded sadly. "Yes, she does. Almost as much as he does her." he whispered in reply.

* * *

Armir smiled up tenderly at the handsome face that hovered above hers, and raised up a graceful hand to touch the sight she loved so much. Sensing what she wanted to do but lacked strength for it, Legolas took the maiden's frail hand in his and held it to his cheek. However, the feeling of her soft stroke against his skin gave him no comfort. Instead, it amplified his distress due to the continuous realization that the beauty of this moment was quickly fading away, never to return to him again.

Legolas kissed Armir's palm before finally succumbing to the uncontrollable sobs raking his body. He was losing her. He was losing the one maiden in this world he has ever, and could ever, learn to truly love.

Armir moved her fingers to touch his eyes, gently wiping off the wet beads that slipped from them.

"Such beauty was not meant for tears." she murmured, trailing her fingers down the side of his face. "Or for any suffering for that matter. Please, my love. Do not cry anymore."

"How can I not?" Legolas cried desperately, shaking his head. "This cannot be happening. I . . . I should not have let it. This is all my fault."

"Do not say such things." Armir said sternly. "No one can be blamed for my Fate, just as no one can fight what was really meant to be."

Legolas shook his head in defiance. "This could have been prevented in so many ways." he choked out. "You should never have come with us, Armir. If only you had not gone on this quest at all, then maybe. . . "

Armir placed her hand gently over his mouth to interrupt his distressed rants. "Then I would not have been able to be with you." she said quietly. "I would never have been given a chance to experience your love, and would have gone on living an empty life, which is no life at all."

When Legolas took her hand in his again, she gave his fingers a reassuring squeeze. "Legolas, being on this quest with you gave me purpose, and your love gave me a reason to live,." she whispered, a smile appearing on her face in spite of her welling tears. "I regret nothing. I would not trade a second I spent with you for a thousand more years of moments alone."

Legolas stared down at her, driven to speechlessness by her brave words. Finally, giving in to the longing he had been holding back, he pulled her up in his arms closer to him and caressed her mouth with his slowly, and ever so softly. She linked her hands around the back of his neck and kissed him back, the movement of her sweet lips telling him that she wanted the moment to last forever has badly as he did.

When at last they reluctantly ended this lingering kiss, Legolas placed his warm hand at the side of Armir's paling face. He felt his insides freeze upon realizing how quickly her skin was starting to feel so cold. At the same time he became aware of how limp and strangely heavy her slender body was beginning to feel in his arms.

"Eru, no." he cried in his thoughts, closing his eyes as a thousand desperate pleas to the Valar cried out from his soul. "Please do not take her away from me. Please . . . I cannot live without her!"

"Legolas . . ."

He opened his eyes again to gaze down at her ashen face. She stared back at him through questioning eyes, requesting entry into the thoughts that were so clearly tormenting him.

"I have failed you, Armir. After all those promises I have made to keep you safe . . . I should have been there to protect you!" Legolas finally burst out, his voice heavy with bitterness and regret as he wept. "I should have tried harder to get to you. I just . . . I just cannot understand why." He gritted his teeth as anger surged through his heart in waves. "Why was I not able to?!"

"Sometimes there are just things that cannot be helped." Armir said simply but firmly. "You did all you could, and I know that. That is all that matters."

Legolas shook his head and fell silent. None of this was helping. Nothing could possibly ease the pain that was overwhelming every part of him. Right then he knew that he was not going to survive this. There was no way he could possibly live through another day carrying such relentless, intense grief.

"Do you know what I thought when I first saw you?"

Legolas felt Armir's hand stroke his cheek, then his long hair as it fell down his shoulder to brush against her chest. As she smiled up at him, a small flicker of contentment broke through the gloom in his heart, though it was just for a brief second.

He leaned over and kissed her forehead, her nose and her lips. He stared deeply and lovingly into her eyes for a long moment before finally speaking. "What?"

"When I first saw you, I thought you were one of the Valar." she admitted with a soft laugh. "Never before had I come across a creature so handsome, so strong looking and kind-faced." She lowered her eyes shyly and placed a trembling hand on Legolas' chest. "I realize only now that, from that first moment, I already gave my heart to you. Right then I knew that I would not want to spend my life with anyone but you, the most beautiful elf I had ever seen."

When she finally lifted her gaze back up to meet his, her blue eyes were hazy with tears.

"I am not afraid to die." she told him bravely. "And I am not sorry for sacrificing my life. The only thing that saddens me is the thought of the life we could have shared together. I do not wish to leave you behind."

Legolas took her hand and squeezed it tightly. "Then I will follow you." he said determinedly, the resolve in his heart more powerful than any other conviction he had ever felt before. "I will not allow ANYTHING to separate us."

Armir shook her head forcefully "No, you will not." she told him confidently. "Legolas, listen to me. You must move on. You WILL move on, and you will live your life. There is still so much you can do, so much you can give to this world. I will not be the reason for your throwing that all away."

Then suddenly, she began to cough harshly, her slender shoulders shuddering uncontrollably as she struggled to breathe. Legolas could only watch helplessly as the worst of his nightmares began to unfold before his eyes, caught with nothing he could do to stop it or hold it back. With a gasp, Armir slumped back down wearily in his arms, her strength nearly all gone. Her breaths, which were now softer and shallower than ever, obviously took great effort in simply entering and exiting her failing lungs.

Realizing how little time she had left, Legolas felt desperation begin to choke him. "Armir, please." he cried, uncaring of how pathetic his begging may have looked. "Please do not go. I love you!"

Armir smiled weakly at him and kissed the hand that was stroking her face. "If you really mean that, then you must promise . . ." She paused, her sweet face slightly twisted with the exertion it required to force out her words. "That will not let your life end any sooner than it should. Promise me you will continue to live, Legolas. I want you to live a long, beautiful life, filled with blessings and fulfillment."

She looked up at him imploringly. "Will you do this for me?"

Legolas swallowed hard. He did not have any desire to live another day without Armir by his side, much less torture himself with years alone. But something in his beloved's pleading gaze somehow gave him the strength to relent to her wishes.

"I promise." he whispered, wrapping his hand around hers and holding it against his chest, right above his heart.. "I love you."

"I love you." Armir whispered back and smiled, now reassured by his vow. Closing her eyes with a sigh, she leaned her head back on Legolas' shoulder, completely relaxing her frail, weary body against his, entrusting her helpless condition to his strength and protection.

Legolas buried his face in her hair and closed his tearing eyes, finally surrendering to the inevitable. All he could do now was treasure the precious few moments he had left with her in his embrace. And so he continued to just hold her close, giving in to the tender silence that enveloped the two lovers, separating them from the rest of world.

"Legolas?" Her soft voice was very weak now, but still as pleasing to his ears as ever.

"Yes?" he replied, but did not raise his head from where it rested contentedly against hers.

"Will you sing to me?" Armir whispered, more clearly this time.

Legolas felt his heart leap slightly as he considered this request. Why did he not think of it before? It was the perfect way to fill the silence of their final moments together and at the same time, let her know just how much she meant to him.

For the last time.

Keeping his cheek pressed against her soft hair, Legolas began to rock his precious Armir gently in his arms, as an Elven love song started to flow softly from his lips.

I may have run out of songs to sing

I may have run out of words to say

Know that I want you to know what I feel for you

I love you

As endless as forever, our love will stay together

You are all I need to be here with

Forevermore

He heard a happy sigh escape her as she listened to the wonderful sound of his warm, soothing voice. He felt her nestle herself deeper into his embrace, undoubtedly savoring the comfort of this moment as much as he was. He secured the hold of his affectionate arms around her and continued to serenade her quietly.

There are times when I just want to look at your face

With the stars in the night

There are times when I just want to feel your embrace

In the cold night

I just can't believe that you are mine now

You were just a dream that I once knew

I never thought I would be right for you

I just can't compare you with anything in this world

You are all I need to be here with

Forevermore

He stroked her hair with a gentle hand, hoping she could feel from his caring touch and from the steady beat of his heart just how much he meant with all his soul these words he was singing to her. How he would truly love her for all time, and how, no matter what happened, he would continue to care for no other maiden but her. She would always stay in his heart.

Forever.

Time and again

There are these changes that we cannot end

Sure as time keeps going on and on

My love for you will be

Forevermore

Her chest fell for the last time, and did not rise again. He fought back the tears and the devastating pain that threatened to crush him as he felt her hand grow limp in his tender grasp. Ignoring the tears that were pouring down his cheeks, he closed his eyes, and planted one last kiss on her unmoving lips before whispering the final verse of his song.

As endless as forever, our love will stay together

You are all I need to be here with

Forevermore

* * *

Aragorn sighed heavily as he forced his gaze away from the elf who sat desolately under a tree some feet away from where he stood. Over an hour had passed since Elladan departed to return to Rivendell with his daughter, to return her to her home where she would be laid to rest. Still Legolas had not moved from the same spot where Armir had passed away in his arms.

Weary with grief and concern, the Ranger rubbed his face and turned to the dwarf at his side. "Do you think he is ready?" he whispered.

Gimli shook his head, his usually merry brown eyes still visibly puffy from shed tears.

"Put yourself in his place, Lad." he grunted and sniffed at the same time. "Do you think you would feel ready for anything after all that had just happened?"

Aragorn shook his head. Gimli was right, of course. They couldn't possibly rush their comrade into continuing with the quest right now. Not after all that he had just gone through. It would simply be too much to ask of anybody to move on so quickly. But time was a luxury they did not have. If they did not start going after the Uruks now, their traces would soon be lost, and Merry and Pippin may come to a dreadful end.

"Aragorn, maybe it would be best if we just let Legolas return home." Gimli suddenly spoke up again, echoing what was starting to come to the man's mind. "It may not do well for him to journey on with us. For now, he needs a chance to rest and grieve more than anything."

For a while Aragorn did not speak as he considered their options. Gimli's suggestion did make sense. True, if Legolas left what remained of their small company, they would be suffering a great loss. But it just would not be fair of them to force him to come along on their mission when he had just been so recently bereaved. They may even be placing him at risk by drawing him to battle while his mind was still very much in distress over the loss of his beloved.

Then again, there was also the very real danger of their friend perishing from heartbreak, as severely mourning elves commonly do. Perhaps what Legolas needed was not a period of mourning, but some rigorous activity, a purpose, that would take his mind off the pain tormenting his heart.

At last, Aragorn spoke again. "We must let him decide on his own what he wants to do." he said softly but resolutely. "After all, we cannot always make . . ."

"What are we standing around here waiting for?"

The voice of the Elven prince caught the conversing man and dwarf by surprise. Aragorn spun around immediately to face his dear friend, who had finally freed himself from his pained stupor. He offered him a caring smile.

"Legolas. Are you all right now?" he asked, unable to conceal the pity in his tone.

Legolas merely shrugged in reply, carefully keeping his gaze form coming to direct contact with Aragorn's. "Should we not be moving on?" he murmured. "The trail of the Uruks will soon be lost if we do not make haste after them."

"But . . . are you sure you wish to come along, Laddie?" Gimli blurted out, unavoidably blunt as always. "Because you can always not if you feel . . ."

The elf raised his hand to interrupt the dwarf's anxious blabber. "Armir is where she belongs now." he said softly, making it clear that he knew they had been talking about him this whole time. "She has been brought home to her people, where nothing can hurt her anymore. I, on the other hand, must go on with my own life."

He paused and took a deep breath, obviously exerting much effort to keep his emotions in check.. "Because I can be strong, like she was. And because I promised her."

Feeling a rush of pride for his friend's courage, Aragorn smiled as he stepped forward and placed a hand on the Mirkwood prince's shoulder.

"She loved you with her whole heart, Legolas. Thus, she will always be with you.." he whispered in Elvish. "With all of us. Wherever she is now, I know she must be very happy and proud. "

At this, Legolas returned his smile, and though it was weak, Aragorn ascertained from that moment that his friend would be all right. He will get through this just fine, thanks to the remarkable strength of his spirit, as well as Armir's memory.

"I will avenge her." the elf declared coldly, an angered but at the same time composed gleam entering his blue eyes. "By Eru, I swear that the Shadow will pay dearly for the price of her life."

Aragorn nodded grimly, his determination to gain vengeance for his fallen sister nearly matching the elf's. He stepped back and gestured to his two companions with a slight smirk on his face.

"Let's hunt some orc."

* * *

Shouts sounded from the gates of the Last Homely House as Elladan's majestic horse approached in a furious gallop. The Elven Ranger pulled hard on the reins, urging his steed to come to a stop as they entered his Rivendell home. He had not even gotten the chance to dismount when suddenly he found himself surrounded by an approaching group of his father's eager hands and retainers. Their happy smiles at the sight of their returned prince faded quickly however, the moment they saw the body he held in his arms.

"Aiya (Oh)!" a stable hand exclaimed in dismay. "Arwen en amin (My Lady)!"

A rush of horrified cries and gasps echoed the first as Elladan carefully got off his horse, allowing the elves a clearer view of their beloved princess. The maid servants burst into hysterical tears and wailing the moment they laid eyes on the tragic sight of the lifeless form, and the he-elves were no less upset.

Elladan squared his shoulders and shifted Armir's position in his arms ever so gently, as though she were the same baby he had cradled over eighty years ago. He struggled to shut out the distraught cries surrounding him and bravely held back his own desires to weep. Succeeding in keeping his voice strong and steady, he turned and spoke to the servant nearest him.

"Manke naa Heruamin (Where is my Lord)?"

The pale, trembling he-elf managed to choke out a reply. "I believe he is in the main hall, my prince."

"Then please tell him to come at once." Elladan instructed, before beginning to walk down the stone path leading to the verdant gardens that sprawled between the forest and his father's house. The servants knew better than to follow the pained father, and respectfully stayed where they were, but as Elladan left he could hear their cries and moans intensify, reminding him of what a heartbreaking loss his daughter was not just to him, but to her people.

The elf's swift steps led him to a large, magnificently built gazebo located at the center of the garden. There, he lay Armir's body on the chaise lounge and sat beside her.

"You are home now, my love." he whispered, reaching over to stroke her soft hair. He sensed tremendous affection for his precious daughter as he gazed at the peaceful look on her sweet face. She was so beautiful and angelic, and not even death could steal away the rosy color of her cheeks or the gentle smile on her lips. With her untimely passing, Rivendell had indeed been robbed of a cherished treasure.

Some minutes passed by with Elladan contemplating these thoughts in his solitude. It was not very long, however, before he finally heard footsteps approaching. He rose from the chaise and went down the gazebo steps just as Lord Elrond entered the garden.

He would never forget the look of horror and anguish that he saw swathe his father's usually serene face in that moment. It was quite obvious that the Lord of Rivendell, though a high and mighty elf he was, was not at all prepared for the loss of his sole and most beloved grandchild.

No words or even glances were exchanged between the two as Elrond moved swiftly towards the gazebo and climbed the few steps that led him to Armir's side. Elladan watched silently and motionlessly as the great Elven lord knelt beside the chaise and took the young maiden's lifeless hand. It became ultimately clear to him just how much his father loved his granddaughter as he pressed her fingers against his cheek and began to weep uncontrollably.

Though this display of grief was a reaction he had expected, Elladan felt stunned by the sight of his strong father shedding tears. Not since the death of his mother had Elrond showed any emotions of the sort, and even then he had hidden his sorrow from his children. For the first time in his life, Elladan was watching his father cry.

With tears in his own eyes, the younger elf stepped forward slowly to stand behind his father. After a brief moment of hesitation, he lifted a hand and placed it on Elrond's shoulder. The latter then slowly rose to his feet and faced him at last. By the time father and son embraced each other, both were freely weeping out the pain of their broken hearts.

All around them, their heartache was shared by the elves of Rivendell, as news of Armir's death spread quickly like a sorrowing wildfire that devastated everyone's spirits. Woeful cries and unhappy songs of lamentation resounded throughout every corner of Lord Elrond's House as Imladris mourned their wretched bereavement, for the dearly loved young princess whose beauty and kindness had been taken from them, like a shining star whose light died out and faded all too soon.

* * *

The Lord of the Galadrim found his wife standing alone by the bank of the Silverlode, gazing out into the waters as she reflected on her deep, sorrowful thoughts. He watched her silently for a moment, observing the drops that slid down her fair cheeks as she wept for the their lost great- granddaughter. Not even the departure of their Celebrian did Galadriel shed tears to indicate her sorrow, so it disturbed Celeborn greatly to see his spouse suffering so much visible grief.

Slowly, he came up behind the Lady and slid his arms around her, pulling her into a loving embrace. Feeling consolation in her husband's caring hold, Galadriel turned away from the Silverlode to face him and lean her head against his shoulder, though her crying did not completely cease. Celeborn gently caressed her back and whispered to her comfortingly.

"She is in a safe place now, where she will be happy and at rest." he murmured, stroking his wife's golden hair. "The Valar will take care of her."

At these words, Galadriel sighed and at last began to reveal the thoughts that were tormenting her mind.

"All this time, her destiny had simply been to give up her life for the Ring Bearer. Her role on the quest was as a sacrifice, to ensure that Frodo would be able to make it through the journey unharmed." she whispered softly. "I could have warned her of the dangers if I had only realized it sooner. . ."

"You are not to blame for her fate, and you know that." Celeborn chided gently. "It is not in your power or decision to prevent every tragedy from taking place. If it was not revealed to you, then perhaps it was not meant to be known. It was meant to happen."

"Yes." Galadriel admitted. "That is true."

"Then what is it that still upsets you so, my love?"

"It could have been prevented." the Lady said softly, raising her lovely eyes to meet his. "Someone could have taken her place as the sacrifice, if she had only allowed him to give up his life to save hers."

Celeborn stared at her for a moment before realization dawned on him. "Legolas." he murmured.

Galadriel nodded. "A reversal of fortunes took place after Armir accepted Legolas as her lover." she explained. "His strong love for her would have shielded her from her disastrous fate. He would have given up his own life to prevent her death."

"Then what happened?" Celeborn asked in confusion. "How did it come to be that Armir was still killed?"

"I did not understand all this when I saw Legolas' death in the Mirror." Galadriel said sadly. "I warned Armir of the danger on her beloved's life, but I did not realize that in pushing her to saving him I would be also be urging her towards placing threat on herself."

"When Armir found out that Legolas would be risking his life for hers, Armir prayed to the Valar to keep him safe, not matter what the cost. She was unaware the price that had to be paid was her own life." Galadriel sighed as more tears streamed down her face. "The Valar granted this selfless wish and returned the burden of predestined self-sacrifice to her. Thus, Legolas was forced out of harm's way, and Armir pushed directly into it."

"In other words, one of them simply HAD to perish. Someone's blood had to pay for the Ring Bearer's safety." Celeborn said gravely. "It just so happened that Armir was the one who was able to freely choose to protect her lover."

"Neither of them deserved to have such a terrible burden imposed upon them!" Galadriel cried, sounding somewhat frustrated and angry. "I do not understand. How can they demand so heavy a ransom from one so innocent and young?"

Celeborn sighed and held her closely against him to help ease her pain. "We cannot question the Valar any more than we can question Eru himself." he murmured. "There are matters that simply have to be accepted, no matter how harsh."

Then, the Lord of the Galadrim smiled and planted a kiss on his wife's forehead before continuing.

"Consider this instead, Melamin. If our Armir were to look back at all of these events, think you that she would regret having gone through all this?" he asked gently. "Would she have regretted giving up her life to save the one she loved?"

At last, Galadriel managed to gaze up into her husband's wise, loving eyes and smile weakly in return. With pride in her voice, she gave him an answer that held no hesitation or doubt.

"Not for one moment."

* * *

While Aragorn and Gimli slept soundly after a long, arduous day of avidly pursuing the Uruk-Hai, Legolas sat alone keeping unnecessary watch. In spite of his own weariness, it was beyond him to manage to lull himself to even the lightest slumber. Too many horrible memories still haunted him, just as too much pain still weighed against his heart to allow him any real peace.

The elf stared down at the small leather satchel he held in his hands. It was the pack that Armir had carried with her throughout their journey, and it still contained all of her belongings. Before the trio went on with their mission he had salvaged it from the boats and brought it with him. Somehow, he felt he needed something of hers that he could hold to and continue to cherish. Something that will urge him to go on with his life, to remind him of the promise he needed to fulfill.

He held the satchel closely in his arms and shut his eyes reflectively. He could still smell her scent, the sweet smell of flowers on a spring day. Recollections of her beauty rushed back to him and suddenly it was as though he could feel her gentle touch on his face once more, sense the smoothness of her skin against his, feel the silky strands of her luxurious hair slip through his fingers . . .

When Legolas opened his eyes again, tears almost immediately began to spill from them. With a sigh, he raised a hand to dry his cheeks in frustration. Will this pain and longing EVER go away? Was he going to have to live the rest of his life pining for Armir, tormented by so many wonderful memories of her?

After some hesitation he opened up the leather bag and slowly began to go through the items inside. A small, fond smile crept across his face as he ran his fingers over the spine of the books she used to read, and fingered the soft material of the cloak-his own-that he had given her to wear during the first few days of their journey. As he pulled this cloth out of the bag, something tumbled out to the ground along with it.

Legolas' eyes narrowed as he picked up the object and held it in the palm of his hand. It was a small flower, with petals so immaculately white it seemed to glow in the darkness of the night like an earthly star. Though it must have been in Armir's satchel for quite some time now, and yet it showed absolutely no sights of decay or even wear. It was perfect.

Some unforeseen emotion stirred Legolas' soul as he gently brushed his fingers against the silken petals. Never before had he seen anything so simple and yet so utterly beautiful. Immediately, he realized that this strange, extraordinary blossom reminded him of the princess he loved. And yet somehow, the reminder-for the first time-did not bring him any pain. Instead, it filled his heart with a peculiar kind of happiness and contentment, almost like a gentle reassurance that things were going to be just fine.

A soft smile unexpectedly broke through the gloom on Legolas' face, triggered by a mysterious rush of sudden contentment in his heart. He lifted his face up to the sky and whispered to the air as he gazed up at the moon and stars that shone brightly down on him.

"I will always love you, Armir." he murmured. "I hope you have found the peace and contentment you have always deserved. Wherever you may be now, I just want you to be happy."

With this, he tenderly kissed the flower in his hand before slipping it into the folds of his outer tunic. He would keep it there for all time, as a reminder of the undying love he had for the one maiden who would ever hold his heart.

At last, the Elven prince then reclined under the shade of the trees, falling into a peaceful sleep only a few minutes later. All through the rest of that night he dreamt blissfully of his princess, unknowing of the fact that, somewhere, there lay another elf who also rested in dreams of the only love she would care for for all time. An elf who would one day would return and take her away, and start with her the life that they were meant to share in each other's arms.

Forever.
* * *

~ THE END ~

The song Legolas sang to Armir is not my work. Its title is "Forevermore", and it's one of the most popular love songs in my country, the Philippines. It was written and sung by a Filipino band called "Side A". I think it can be downloaded somewhere in the internet if you are interested in listening to it or getting a copy for yourselves.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone who has supported this story throughout the long months, particularly those who have stuck with me from the very start. I love you guys! I can now say that this, my first FF.net contribution, was a success, and therefore I will continue to write for as long as there will be readers to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Please review for the last time! I would appreciate it greatly if "The Sacrifice" is able to reach at least 300 reviews before ending. Any requests you may have for other stories you may want me to write (like the story of Armir's parents, or the romance of Armir and Haldir) pls. let me know!

Watch out for the first chapter of the sequel to this story, (YES, THERE WILL BE A SEQUEL! You will just have to wait and see what it will be all about!) :D which will be posted in a week or less. I hope I will be able to count on the same kind support you have given to "The Sacrifice"! ;p

See you guys again soon! Take Care!