Disclaimer: Refer to Chapter One
Title: The Heart's True Home
Author: Lady Silma
A/N- Well here it is, the last chapter to this epic story. I hope that you have all enjoyed it, and thank each and every one of you for all your support over the last year. Davan, my beta, has written a small story at the end of this chapter dedicated to all you Hadrielia haters out there. Now on to all the fluff…..
Epilogue: Part 3
It would have been a lie to say that their life was one of perfect bliss after their wedding. Like all married couples, they had their disagreements and quarrels. Valia was too strong willed to step passively aside and as a crown prince, Legolas was too set in his ways to easily change them.
Yet despite their disputes, which were few compared to the times of happiness that they shared, Legolas and Valia's love grew stronger with each passing year. There were times when Valia would think back on her life before becoming Legolas' wife, and wonder why she had fought so hard against the abundant joy that he had brought to her life.
It was with equal joy that Thranduil, Elowen, and Legolas watched her take to her role as princess of the land with a graceful ease that spoke well of both her and Legolas. The people of Laiquarille quickly grew to love their princess equally as much as they all ready cared for the rest of the royal family. She was a particular favorite amongst the children, who would go to the royal library in the palace with great glee, whenever she invited them to hear her tell one of her stories. In return, she earned a group of loyal helpers in her project to renovate the library. She was often seen with a small following of elflings gathered around her skirts or general vicinity, happily carrying books for her from some other part of the library or running messages into the town for her to the local bookshops.
Valia proved equally adept in political and economic matters as she was at organizing the library, often providing Legolas with a suggestion to a problem that the advisors of the land had overlooked. Years ago, Legolas had taken to affectionately calling her his 'lovely mastermind' when he needed her unique opinion on a matter. She would merely grace his comment with a roll of the eyes, shaking her head as an indulgent smile spread across her lips.
Such being the routine of her new life that she had fallen into with ease nearly four decades ago when she had married Legolas, it was a rather singular occurrence that she was now feeling a nervous fluttering in her stomach that caused her breath to come at an unnaturally fast pace.
She turned her head to the side when she felt a stirring in the bed next to her. Stretching with all the grace of a jungle cat, Legolas opened his eyes, green orbs flashing bright despite the sleep that still lingered like an untouchable mist about him. He smiled at her, strong arms snaking out to draw her close against him.
'And how are you this morning, my heart?' he asked against the crook of her neck where he had buried his head. 'You are up early this morn.'
'I could not sleep,' Valia admitted, sighing in contentment as his fingers found her hair and began playing with it. She nestled closer against him, seeking as much of his warmth as possible in an attempt to dispel the uneasy feeling within her.
However Legolas had become attune to both her mind and body long ago, and easily saw that something was amiss. 'What is wrong?' he questioned softly, drawing back so that he could look at her face. He rose on his elbow, placing his head in his hand while he gently cupped her cheek with his other hand and guided her face towards him. The emotions he read in her cherished face confused him. Her normally smooth brow was rendered wrinkled by her eyebrows that were knit tightly with anxiety or worry; he could not tell which. Yet there was a light of such joy and happiness in the blue of her eyes that it caused his breath to hitch in his throat, coalescing there to form an aching tightness.
She uttered no words in response, only lay before him, seeming to be in a fixed state of indecision. Slowly however, her forehead smoothed itself out. She reached out and took his hand into her smaller one, guiding the warmth of his palm over her abdomen where she placed his hand, covering it with her own.
The blue of her eyes shuttered as her eyelids closed, and her body seemed to melt into the deep layers of feathered pillows and sheets about her. He watched her curiously, after a time mirroring her actions and closing his own eyes to concentrate on he knew not what.
But concentrate he did, nevertheless.
She sensed in her being, more than felt the jolt of surprise when the connection was made and it swiftly turned into a bond, just as it had occurred with her. Her mind whispered soothing words, sending her peace both within her and to her husband.
So concentrated was she, that she did not notice Legolas lay down once more on his pillow, cradling her close against him again, though his hand remained on her flat stomach and began to stroke there.
'How long?' he asked within her mind.
The reply to his question came verbally, with a note of amusement in her silvery tones. 'I should think that you would know such an answer, my lord.' Here she paused, nestling herself further against him. 'It was last week.'
Recognition flooded him, and he drowned happily in the understanding. 'Our midnight ride to the waterfall.'
'There was a doe in the forest, with her fawns,' Valia remembered by way of explanation.
'You were there,' Legolas added pointedly, 'all silver and soft curves under the moonlight. For a moment, my heart whispered a desire loud within me, wished to see such beauty in the face of another one that I could treasure as I do you.'
Silence settled between them, and Valia's eyes opened, seeking out his for assurance. 'It pleases you?' she asked quietly. 'I know that we have not planned for this, as it was highly unlikely to ever happen. We had not expected…' She bit her lip to stop the flow of words that were thick with uncertainty. How she longed for him to be as happy as she was when she had discovered her condition for the first time.
A lazy smile slid across his lips, and he bent down, shifting slightly to comfortably slant his mouth over hers. 'It pleases me very much, my wife.'
How could such a thing not? He should have noticed it sooner, by the way she had been so light and carefree yesterday, as if Manwe had suddenly blessed her with all of the goodness that Arda had to offer her.
Well, in a way he had, Legolas thought.
'We are blessed,' Legolas whispered, having hoped for this day since they were wed, and yet dreaded such hope for the possibility that it might not ever happen.
'Blessed indeed, herven-nin' Valia echoed back, twining her arms around his neck and pulling him down close to her.
Legolas could feel her smile grow wider against his searching lips as the tension melted, leaving her body pliant to his knowing touch.
She did not waddle.
There was not even the slightest disruption in her normally gracefully walk as the year of anxious waiting was slowly nearing its end. Funny, and he had always heard that ladies waddled when they became heavy with child, a side effect of pregnancy that afflicted the immortal as well as the mortal.
Not his Valia, though.
She was radiant, he noticed. A faint glow, mingled with an ever present flush and additional sparkle in her eyes, caused a familiar pang in his stomach whenever he looked at her.
He had suffered long to make her his own and endured much. It had been worse than any battle or war he had ever endured before in his life when he had tried to woo her heart and make it his own.
It had been such sweet torture.
'And well worth it in the end' he reminded himself with a soft smile curling his thin lips upwards. Just to be able to hold her in his arms at night and wake up with her still there in the morning made it all worthwhile. He would have endured it all again if he were given the chance to go back and avoid all the suffering and agonizing he had gone through to make her his own. She was more than worth it.
And so was this child of theirs, whether it was yet to be born or not. Such a trivial fact made no difference to him. He all ready loved their little one because it was a part of her, as well as him.
'Pregnancy suits her' he noticed when she first began to show physical signs of the tiny elfling that was growing inside her. His elfling. Their elfling.
She smiled even more than she normally did during their four decades of marriage. She absolutely glowed.
He smiled now, as he watched her from the arched doorway. His meeting with his father and advisors had ended early, and he had gone to find her to eat lunch together with the extra time. It seemed he could never find enough of it of late. His search had ended in the library, the place he should have known to look for her from the first.
There was a patch of sunlight coming through one of the numerous windows that lined the book filled room. Upon her arrival and taking up her duties as his wife, she had made sure that the existing library was moved to a room all its own and given the proper attention that it deserved.
She now sat upon a couch, one of many that had been brought into the room, positioned in the generous rays of sunlight, a book in hand as the rays of Anor spilled onto her ivory skin and caressed her fair features.
He could tell that she sensed his presence before she even turned to him. It came with years of observing her behavior and sensing her within his mind. Her back straightened and a sudden air of expectancy rested over her. Smiling languidly, he watched as her neck arched, turning left and right to look for him.
Softly stepping towards her, he reached her couch on light feet before she turned to look behind her. He sat down on the side of her couch and she closed the book in her hands before turning to him with a smile that sent another pang through his stomach.
She was so devastatingly beautiful to him. Such a simple look from her, when once it had been a joyous occasion for him to receive, now became a necessity for him.
'How is my bookworm this afternoon?' he asked her, brushing his knuckles against her glowing cheek and bending down to place a soft kiss on her forehead.
Sighing softly, Valia placed her bookmark in the page she was reading and shut the book gently, putting it down on the couch beside her and turning slowly to her husband. 'I am fine, though I think your child is restless today,' she added, placing her hand over the large bulge of her stomach. She rubbed the swell, feeling the elfling kicking and turning inside her with unusual energy. Not even her whispered words of assurance and love had calmed their child today.
'It will be time soon,' he told her, tucking a loose strand of her hair behind her leaf shaped ear before resting his hand on her extended stomach.
'I am ready,' she whispered back, leaning her head against the cushions behind her and bringing up a hand to trace her husband's jaw. 'My arms ache to hold our child. He will grow to be beautiful like his father. A strong elf both in wisdom and in skills.'
'He?' Legolas asked in amusement, grasping her fingers in his hand and pressing his cheek against the palm of her hand. It was the first time he had heard her express anything about the gender of their elfling.
'We shall have a son,' she answered with a soft smile, brushing her captured fingers against his hairline and tracing the gentle curve of his ear.
'And what makes you so sure of this, herves-nin?' He released her hand, trading the warmth of her palm with the heat of her back pressed against his chest as he stretched on the couch and pulled her into his arms.
Valia pressed her nose against Legolas' neck, laying her head on his shoulder as one of his hands wrapped around her swollen belly and quickly set to work stroking. He somehow managed to ease the agitation out of their child quicker than it took herself to settle completely into Legolas' embrace.
'I simply know,' she returned, bringing her hand up to rest against his steadily beating heart.
'Well whatever the gender of our elfling, I hope that he or she has your beautiful eyes.' He squeezed her shoulder where his other hand rested as he felt her smile against his exposed skin.
She had been right, of course.
Call it a mother's intuition, Legolas cared not what it was attributed to, but she had known all the same. A year after they had found out they were to be parents, a beautiful elf child had been born into the light of Aman while his father waited anxiously outside the room.
Once Legolas had finally been admitted into the room, after what had seemed like too long with too little information, he moved quickly to Valia's side, laying his cool palm against her sweat slicked forehead. She burned against his touch, and while her cheeks were flushed with the excursion of bringing their child into Aman, her skin was such a pale color that set his mind was set worrying instantly.
'I am fine,' she soothed away his frown, reaching her hand up to clasp his wrist and offering him a weak smile. 'Just a little tired is all. Your son is all ready a fighter, Legolas.' Her smile brightened then, as an elf maid walked unobtrusively over to them with a bundle of white in her arms that had started to wail and squirm about.
Legolas swiftly relieved the attendant of her burden and looked upon the bundle cradled carefully within his arms. His son recognized the familiarity of the elf who held him, having felt his father's touch within the protection of his mother's womb for so long. Quieting down at Legolas' gentle rocking and murmurs of comfort, the young one's eyes opened, blinking unseeingly into the brightness of the sunlight in the room.
'He has your eyes,' Legolas smiled in delight, sitting down at the head of the bed next to Valia. She moved closer to him, resting her head wearily against his chest as one of his arms wrapped around her, holding her as carefully as he did their son.
They both looked into the small face of their child. He did indeed have the eyes of his mother, a deep blue shot with flecks of silver. His hair though, now that he had inherited from his father. It was a light shade of blond all ready, like a downy heap of sunshine atop his head. Perfect leaf shaped ears were prominent on either side of his face, a face that was looking at the moment quite contentedly at his parents.
'What shall we name him?' Legolas asked quietly, combing the hair away from Valia's face and neck that was stuck uncomfortably to her from the sweat.
She pondered a moment, reaching out a hand to caress her son's rounded cheek. 'Elen,' she declared softly. 'Our Elen.'
'Our star,' Legolas murmured agreement, finding the name suited their son perfectly.
Valia woke in the darkness of the night to the patter of light feet walking across the wooden floor. She barely had time to brace herself for what she knew would follow only moments later. Legolas, with his head nestled against her shoulder and an arm wrapped over her waist, mumbled something unintelligible against her ear as a tiny figure, lost amidst the thick blanket they were wrapped in, launched itself onto the bed.
'Ada! Nana!' The tiny elfling whispered loudly, trying to wiggle his way between his parents, though he was rather unsuccessful at doing anything other than disturbing the covers they lay under.
Placing a kiss on the tip of Valia's ear, Legolas rolled onto his back and waited for his son to crawl his way up to his father. 'And what are you doing up this late at night, little one?' the Prince asked the elfling who came to sit perched, cross legged, on his chest, squirming to try and find the most comfortable position.
'Did Elrohir really fight beside King Aragorn in battle ada?'
Valia looked sharply at her son, noticing the way his blue eyes were widened in childish curiosity, with just a hint of underlying fear sparkling through. 'Has Elrohir been telling you stories before bed time again, Elen?' Valia asked, raising herself into a sitting position before reaching out to smooth her son's unruly hair, tousled into a disorderly mass of soft golden locks from sleep. Elrohir had come to visit her and her family on his journey to another city not far away, with gifts and warm greetings from her family, as well as Elrond, and Celebrian in Earsilme. Valia had been delighted to have him stay for a few days, though watched with slight vexation as Elen took a fancy to all of 'Uncle Elrohir's' tales, whether they be too frightening for such a small elf his age or not.
'Elrohir said that there was a big battle and he killed so many orcs that their blood turned his skin black. He says that orcs liked to eat elflings for dinner and that is why they had to fight them, to protect all the elflings.'
'Elrohir says too many things for his own good,' Valia stated firmly, scooping her little elfling into her lap. She resumed running her fingers through his hair that all ready resembled his father's so much, even at such an early age, and tried to banish the fear she saw lingering in his eyes. She was going to have to have a little chat with Elrohir in the morn about these "innocent" stories he was telling her elfling before bed.
'Do orcs really like to eat elflings, nana?' Elen questioned, crawling closer to her until he could easily reach out to trace the features of his mother's face. Valia let his fingers wander over her for a few moments before she captured her son's hands in her own, placing gentle kisses on the smooth flesh of his wrists.
'You need not worry, ionn-nin. There are no orcs in Aman.' She straightened his twisted nightshirt as she spoke, wrapping his worn blanket, a favorite he refused to part with despite its bedraggled condition, more securely over his shoulders when she was done.
'Did Elrohir and ada kill them all?' he persisted, worming his tiny form between her legs and huddling beneath his blanket as he raised the fabric over his head to create a makeshift hood. Golden strands of hair peeked out from underneath the blanket, standing out brightly against the rich green of his blanket in the light of the moon.
Valia looked over at her husband and raised a brow.
'Orcs never lived in Aman, Elen,' Legolas answered, sitting up beside Valia.
'But Elrohir said that you have killed lots of orcs before,' Elen told his ada with clear excitement in his features. 'You never told me those stories before.'
'That is because there are some things little elflings like yourself should not hear or they will not be able to sleep at night,' Legolas told Elen pointedly, scooping up his son from between Valia's legs and sitting him on his lap. 'Now give your nana a hug and it is off to bed with you.'
'Will you read me a story, ada?' he queried, fixing his eyes pleading up at Legolas. 'One from nana's book?'
Valia smiled contentedly. When Silia had learned that Valia was pregnant, she had given Valia her book back of children's tales as a present, telling Valia that her own children were far too old for them anymore and that the book should go back to its rightful owner now in its time of need. Valia had been moved to tears by the sweet gesture of her dear friend and spent the remainder of her pregnancy filling in the still blank pages at the end of the book with other stories till it was finished. Now, much to Valia's delight, it was Elen's favorite book to be read to.
'Only one story will I read you,' Legolas told his son, both warning and promising him at the same time. 'But we must return you to your bed first, and swiftly, or ada shall simply lay back down in his nice, warm bed and go to sleep.'
Legolas watched as his son promptly wiggled his way over to his mother and dutifully wrap his skinny arms around Valia's neck and pressed a wet kiss to her cheek.
'Quel undome, my little one,' Valia told him, pressing her forehead to his before dropping a kiss on his nose. 'May the Valar grant you a peaceful slumber.'
'Goodnight nana,' Elen replied, sleep suddenly pervading his words, making his voice thick.
Legolas slid out of bed, leaving the warmth to pick up his son in his arms. The sooner he made the short trip to Elen's room, the sooner he could return to his wife and bed.
Valia smiled at him as he left their room before snuggling back down into the covers, stretching out over the heated spot Legolas had just vacated. Elrohir and she were most definitely going to have a talk tomorrow about the outrageous tales he was telling her son, especially when it was Legolas and her who had to endure the consequences, mainly a terrified elfling crawling into their bed in the middle of the night. Valia did have to smile though. Elen tried very hard to cover his fears by appearing interested. No doubt he was already trying to be brave like his ada.
She had almost entered the paths of sleep when the bed sunk under Legolas' weight, scattering the clouds of rest that had almost dimmed her view of her surroundings completely. A strong pair of arms wrapped around her hips and shoulders, pulling her back tightly against Legolas' chest.
'You are in my spot, my lady,' he whispered in her ear, his hot breath and low tone still able to make Valia's cheeks tinge a pale red color.
'It was cold and you took long in returning, herven.'
'A mistake I hope not to repeat anytime soon,' Legolas whispered against the skin of her neck as he blazed a trail of kisses up to her earlobe, leaving her flesh tingling in his wake.
Valia could not help the laugh that passed from her lips as his eager fingers flew over her skin, knowing just where to place gentle caresses after decades of marriage to sway her to his side.
And it was working quite well, even though her silken night clothes still separated her skin from his. She could feel him smile against her shoulder blade where his lips were positioned when his fingers found the sensitive area on her neck and she gasped as he gently began to work the skin there.
'What do you think you are doing, meleth-nîn?' she asked him in a saucy tone, though the grin on her face banished any anxieties that she did not enjoy his attentions. Slowly turning onto her back, she looked up at his face hovering above her, bathed in the moonlight from an open window.
'Apologizing for not coming back sooner?' he asked, raising an eyebrow that effectively turned his features into a look that resembled the hopeful elfling of theirs resting only a few rooms away.
Valia reached up to brush a few stray locks of his golden hair that had fallen over his shoulder behind his leaf shaped ear. 'Then by all means do continue,' she managed to reply before he captured her lips with his own, needing no other encouragement from her.
She awakened the next morning to calloused fingers running along the bare skin of her abdomen, dancing effortlessly along the skin as they trailed the curves and contours that were located there. Sighing happily, she burrowed closer to her husband, glancing down to see the top of his fair head lying against her chest. No words passed between the two as they placed innocent touches along each other's body, enjoying the peace of the morning and content with merely the gentle touches they felt pass between their minds.
It was the songbird outside their window that first alerted Valia to the lateness of the hour. 'We have lingered longer than we should have in bed today, Legolas,' she broke the silence at last while running her fingers through the silky strands of his hair.
'I did not wish to wake you this morn,' he told her, raising himself on an elbow to bend down and place a soft kiss on her lips. 'It is rare occasion that I am allowed enough respite to enjoy the benefits that come with the title of husband in the morning.'
'Indeed,' Valia conceded, trailing her fingers along his high cheekbone. 'But we shall be missed at the breakfast table if we delay our rising any longer. I do believe you have promised Elen a ride on your horse this morning, if I am not mistaken,' she added hastily when Legolas did not look convinced at her first attempt to rouse him.
'We will not be missed if we linger fifteen minutes longer,' he reasoned, moving his mouth over her collarbone and into the hole that rested above it.
And who was Valia to argue with the commands of her lord and crowned Prince?
She gladly relaxed back into their bed, letting his lips wander over her at will.
'I love you, husband mine,' she told him when his eyes flashed dark before her.
'And I love you,' he echoed back, 'till Arda no longer exists.'
A/N- Well, there you have it! All done! Finally! *throws up confetti* Do come back in a few days though, so that you can read the thank you page. I have kept track of all your reviews as you have sent them to me, and am busy writing individual notes to all the reviewers that I can :)
From my beta Davan:
B/N- well, as many of you have expressed a hatred towards the-one-who-shall-not-be-named, and I and Power of the Book have a rather… violent/malicious/vehement/passionate/intense dislike of the witch, and she does belong to me, I have come up with an ending for her. I have –out of respect for Silma's desire to keep it pg, and lack of wanting to know *what* happens— kept this rather short and simple.
This is dedicated first to Power of the Book, who's witty comments and hate of the witch have kept me entertained, and my own creative juices in this subject moving. I have not been able to reply to all of your comments dearie, but know that they were read, and loved, every chapter! Especially your refusal to name her! From pitchforks, to skinning the cat, I can honestly say I have never laughed so hard. Thanks you! *hands over a set of bow and arrows* you shall find this useful below….
Special Thanks also to:
OverCastDay (her for her comments about Legolas' stupidity! Classic!), Winters Roar, Im, Aidenfire, Ameliebabie, Crystal, Elf Ears 1, Doodlebug, Just2spookey, SilverWinter, Jynessea Greenleaf, UndomielEveningstar , Soules, Blu-eyed-belle, Legolas' Lover, Arushinchu, Luintathraiel, Littlesayingirl, Rina5, BaMBbles, Calenore, Peacock girl, Armar, Lothwen, Enelya, Oxpeachi3xo,
You all contributed in some shape or fashion to the story below. Even if you don't remember what you wrote, I do ^_^ You are the official members of the 'Witch Haters Club' (as I could think of nothing else to call it) enjoy! *If I missed anyone I am truly sorry. I went through all the reviews of Shadows of the Past, and The Hearts True Home to make sure I got everyone. My apologies if I did not catch your name.*
The hunt has been going on many days. The tired elf witch no longer knows which direction she is going, why she is being chased, nor who is hunting her…
*a hunter peeks through the dense trees, her gear camouflaged, and face painted, an amused smirk written across her features…the hunter watches the loan elf witch stumbling through the trees, and slow evil smile spreads across her lips…turning to another hunter, dressed in the same manner, only carrying a bow with her. She whispers softly as to not alert the target. *
'You go that way' *points to other side of forest* 'we circle her, then chase again.' *the counter part grins back, her own smile slightly feral, before leaving, her feet barely making a sound upon the earth floor*
*the first huntress cackles softly to herself, before moving through the forest… she stops to watch as an arrow sails through air startling the witch, before the aforementioned creature shrieks and stumbles off… her legs no longer wanting to take her in the direction she wishes to go… but moves on never less… the soft evil laughter ringing through the glad spurring her on…*
And the hunt continues….
~that's all folks… for now…~