AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well, this is it; the final chapter, so I'll shut up and let you read it!


I tossed and turned all that night, having only a few thin blankets between me and a stone floor, but the next morning I was one of the first elves up and ready to leave. I could see the city of Minas Tirith in the distance and could not wait to get there. Soon after I had wakened everyone else was ready, so with some of us on horses and others walking, we set out for the city. As we drew nearer, I could see men working all over the city on repairing the damage caused by the war.

As the gates to the city began to swing open, I unconsciously urged my horse to go faster, only realizing what I was doing when my horse neared Legolas's, which was slightly behind King Thranduil's. Those of higher rank rode in front, so it was only natural for the king and prince to be in front. I had started to slow my horse down to allow it to get back where I was supposed to be, but was stopped by Legolas placing a hand on the horse's bridle.

"Ride with me into the city," he said.

"I am, but I accidentally pulled my horse up, so I was just-"

"No, I mean beside me," he said. I stared at him in shock.

"But you are-"

"The prince. And I want you to ride beside me." I gulped nervously and kept my horse at the same pace, blushing as several glances were thrown our way.

'The other elves are staring,' I said through our link.

'Let them stare,' he replied carelessly. By this time we had reached the gates and were passing through. Not too far inside, Aragorn was waiting, standing alongside another man with reddish brown hair. They both bowed as we entered, but Aragorn's eyes stayed on Legolas and me, a questioning look in his eyes. As he straightened and spoke his greetings, I realized how much he had aged in the past years. His once smooth brow had some visible lines of worry, and his hair, once dark as midnight, now had bits of gray in it. His eyes, however, were the same blue-grey, and were now trained on Legolas and me as we dismounted.

"Lord Faramir, current Steward of Gondor," Aragorn said, gesturing to the man at his side who bowed slightly. "Prince Legolas, I-" He was cut off as Legolas stepped forward to hug him.

"Please, mellonin," was all he said before he backed away so that I could hug him as well.

"He seems to be enjoying putting aside all protocol today," I said into Aragorn's ear as I hugged him, earning a chuckle. "You look wonderful," I said as I pulled back. "You look happy." He grinned boyishly.

"Love will do that to you," he said with a meaningful look before turning to speak to Thranduil. I sighed and looked over at Legolas, who was speaking with Faramir. When he smiled, I had to smile to myself just from seeing it. Of course I felt something for him. I always had. It just was not love; not in the romantic sense of the word, anyway. I had never been in love before, but surely I would know if I were!

Soon we were settled into guest quarters, and I was told that someone would be sent to take me to dinner. Not long after I had changed out of my traveling clothes, there was a knock at my door. I opened it to a servant girl.

"Lady Maranwe, I was sent to show you the way to dinner." As I followed her, I sensed a presence behind me, and turned to see Candor close behind. I knew he was only following orders, but I could not help but feel uneasy with someone watching my every move. I sighed. As long as I was going to have an extra shadow, I may as well get to know him.

"Hello Candor," I said as I stepped back to walk beside him. He seemed surprised that I had spoken to him.

"Lady Maranwe," he replied politely, slightly inclining his head.

"Please, call me Mara," I said. "If we are to spend the majority of our time in Minas Tirith together, I see no reason to be so formal, if that is alright with you, that is." He smiled and seemed to relax a little.

"I would like that, La- Mara."

"How did you fare on the journey?" I asked, trying to make conversation.

"Very well, actually," he said with a smile. "I love traveling, though there is not much opportunity to do so. I went with Prince Legolas to Imladris last year, but we had to be alert for orcs that whole trip so it was not quite the same."

"I wanted to go to Imladris with Legolas and my brother, but they both claimed it to be too dangerous. I suppose they were right, though I still wish I could see Rivendell. Is this your first time in Gondor?"

"I've been on the outskirts of Gondor before, but this is my first time in the city."

"Mine too. I love it, even though the war has taken its toll here."

"It is a beautiful city; that much is obvious even with piles of rubble still lying around," he agreed.

After dinner, Legolas walked me back to my room.

"The coronation is tomorrow, right?" I asked.

"Yes, tomorrow morning, and the wedding ceremony is directly afterwards, then of course the feast."

"Oh, I thought they would be on different days, I had the seamstress make two different dresses," I said, frowning. I hated that she had worked so hard on them and I would only be able wear one. "Which one should I wear?" I asked, holding up two different dresses. One was a wine colored dress with a high neckline that would reach halfway up my neck and slightly belled sleeves. The other was a white dress with silver embroidery, a scooped neckline, and dramatically belled sleeves. After taking a good long look at both dresses, he pointed to the wine-colored one.

"I like that one," he said decisively. "I like both of them, of course, but I like that deep color."

"Thanks," I said as I placed the white one back in the bag. "I never could have decided on my own!"

"Has Aldeon talked to you about what he plans to do when we return to Mirkwood?" Legolas asked.

"No," I replied, immediately alert. "Has he told you?"

"No. It is possible that he and Firine will wish to move out into a village."

"I know," I sighed. "I admit I wish they would stay with us, but they probably want to start their life together away from prying eyes," I laughed.

"True. The palace gossip is gone now, though," he said with a smile. "I just wanted you to know how sorry I am about all that-"

"None of that was your fault!" I exclaimed. "You had no way of knowing that she was scheming while you were gone."

"I know, but still. . ."

" 'But still' nothing," I said stubbornly."Now there is a coronation and wedding to attend tomorrow, so you go get your rest," I said, turning him to face the door.

"Sleep well," he said as he left, after reminding me to set the latch on the door after he left.

I awoke the next morning to sunlight streaming in through the window beside my bed -- and very loud knocking at my door. I sat up and squinted from the sun.

"Come in," I called, knowing it had to be Legolas. Thranduil was likely at some fancy breakfast, and Aldeon would be with his wife.

"The door is latched," Legolas called through the door. I groaned and got up to open the door. Legolas was standing on the other side in a very formal deep green tunic.

"You look very handsome," I said sleepily after my initial assessment.

"And you look beautiful, but I doubt you wish to go to the coronation in your nightgown, and it starts in a few moments!" he said as he grabbed the dress I had set out the night before and shoved it into my hands.

"I overslept?!" I cried as he turned his back so I could change. "I never oversleep!"

"The travel must have taken its toll," he said. I struggled with my hair before he took the brush and did it himself, braiding several small braids and leaving the rest down.

"Thank you," I said as I glanced in the mirror.

We rushed outside and hurried to the courtyard. We would have been in the back, but it seemed that everyone made way for Legolas when they saw him, so we ended up where we could see Aragorn easily. I smiled broadly with teary eyes as Gandalf placed the crown on Aragorn's head. When Aragorn turned to speak to the people, I could see their love and respect for him in their eyes.

He stepped down from the steps, pausing long enough to give Arwen his arm before he walked out to meet his subjects. After he had walked around the courtyard once, which took a long time, considering all the people he stopped to talk to, the crowd began to move and thin out a little. Legolas looked down at me after the reverent silence was over.

"Are you alright?" he asked, noting my tears.

"I am fine, just so happy for him," I said, rubbing my tears away fiercely.

"He deserves it: the kingship, Arwen, all of it." I nodded and smiled as we approached Aragorn and Arwen.

"That is the most nerve-wracking thing I have ever done," he said as we approached. Legolas and I laughed as we stepped forward to embrace him. "Arwen, Mara," Aragorn said casually as an introduction.

"Nice to meet you," I said with a smile.

"Likewise. I hear you are the one who kept Estel in line while he was in Mirkwood," she said. It took me a moment to realize that Estel was yet another one of Aragorn's many names.

"Of course; Eru knows Legolas would not. He would only join him in the mischief." Arwen laughed.

"Yes, they have gotten into mischief before in Rivendell."

"Where is Aldeon?" Aragorn asked.

"Most likely with Firine," Legolas replied.

"So is he planning on marrying her?" Aragorn asked. "He has been courting her forever, it seems."

"He has wed her," I said, grinning. "on the journey here."

A look of shock passed over Aragorn's face. "Really? I must congratulate them! I suppose we will not be the only newlyweds in Minas Tirith," he said, smiling at Arwen, who smiled back.

The look that passed between them was so full of emotion, so overflowing with love, I felt as if I was intruding upon a private moment simply by being there. The moment was interrupted by Lord Elrond approaching.

"Have you seen your brothers?" he asked, and I realized he was speaking to both Aragorn and Arwen.

"No, not for a little while. Is something wrong, Ada?" Aragorn asked. I admit it surprised me to hear him address the elf lord as such, but I remembered that he was his foster father, the only father he had ever known.

"Not that I know of," he sighed. "But you know their capacity for mischief as well as I."

"Not even they would do anything to disturb Aragorn and Arwen's wedding," Legolas said.

"No, they would not," Elrond agreed with a smile, although his gaze still perused the crowd every few moments.

"If you will excuse us, we must go change for the wedding ceremony," Aragorn said as he and Arwen turned to leave.

"Lord Elrond, this is Maranwe," Legolas introduced me after they had gone. Lord Elrond smiled.

"I have heard much about you from Legolas and Estel," he said. "All good, I assure you," he added.

"I have heard many good things of you as well, my Lord. I am glad to meet you at last."

"Likewise, my dear. If you will excuse me as well, I would like to go speak to Estel and Arwen before the ceremony."

We took a little while to go get something to eat from one of the many vendors who lined the street, since the wedding ceremony would not start for an hour or two. We walked around a bit, Legolas pointing out certain things, before eventually heading back to the courtyard, where tables were being set out, along with chairs. The ceremony was to be held on one end of the courtyard, but since only certain people were invited, instead of the whole of Gondor, there was enough room for the tables to be set up beforehand. Legolas led the way to the front part of the courtyard where Thranduil, Aldeon, and Firine were already standing.

I saw Candor a little way behind us, and was surprised to see a young mortal girl with him. I was even more surprised to see her reach up and give him a kiss on the cheek, causing him to blush fiercely. He smiled down at her with a tender look that made me smile at the sight of it. As someone called the girl away for a moment, I stepped back to where he was standing, watching her walk away.

"Who was that?" I asked teasingly, causing him to blush again.

"She is a girl I met last night. She was singing in a restaurant I stopped in. Her name is Kaela."

"A human girl?" I prompted.

"Yes, but she is unlike any other mortal I have ever met. I am scared to feel the way I do, especially so soon, but I cannot seem to stop myself," he said, a smile lighting his eyes as she turned back to flash a smile his way.

We did not have long to wait; soon after we arrived, Aragorn appeared at the top of the steps with Elladan and Elrohir beside him. He looked anxiously out over the crowd, waiting for his bride to appear. She soon did, being escorted by her father through the crowd. I had never seen a wedding ceremony, since elves did not have them and Aragorn was the only mortal I knew, so I was curious what would happen.

Lord Elrond handed Arwen over to Aragorn, pausing to speak quietly to both of them. All three of them embraced, all with tear-filled eyes, before Elrond stepped away to stand beside the twins. Gandalf, who was standing to the side, spoke.

"The bride and groom will now exchange vows."

Aragorn cleared his throat and clasped Arwen's hands, looking deep into her eyes as he spoke. "I remember when we first met, when I thought you were a dream come to life. You assured me that you were flesh and blood, but that was not what convinced me. What convinced me was that I knew I never could have dreamed up anyone that I could love as much as I love you. There were times when I lost hope. I knew I would always love you, but there were times when the obstacles we had to overcome seemed insurmountable. We were raised by the same elf, yet in completely different worlds that made it seem as if we could never be together. But our love was strong enough to overcome all that, and I know now that if we have made it this far, nothing can part us. Our love has crossed boundaries of convention and race. You are my love; you are my life, my heart and soul, the truest friend I've ever known. You are my world, all of my dreams, my fantasy, my reality. I love everything you are, and I swear to you to be true and faithful to you until the end of my days."

The look on his face was so intense, so full of love, that I knew, and everyone present had to know, that every word of what he was saying was true. I smiled as tears of joy filled my eyes, and then found myself swaying, dizzy with an onslaught of sudden emotion coming from Legolas as Arwen began her vows.

Trust, caring, confusion, sadness, and over all pure love was flowing through our link like a raging river too powerful to be dammed up any longer. I took a deep breath and managed to look over at Legolas, who had looked at me when he realized that he had accidentally let loose all the emotion he had been holding back from me. When I saw that he was looking at me with the same look that Aragorn had looked at Arwen, the same intense, unrestrained love, I could take no more.

I left, right then in the middle of the ceremony. I made my way through the crowd as quickly as possible, with Legolas's silent calls to me echoing in my mind.

The sun was beginning to set as I raced back to my room. I had barely gotten in the door when Legolas raced in behind me.

"You should have stayed through the ceremony," I said after taking a shuddering breath to steel myself. He did not reply, but stood there looking at me, allowing all of his emotions - the main one being a love bigger and more pure than I had ever imagined - to flow freely, before he stepped forward to kiss me.

This was not just a kiss like the one so many years ago at the dance, or even like the one he had given me before he left for Rivendell. This was more; an outpouring of emotion into a kiss that was filled so filled with love that it nearly bordered on desperate.

From the second his lips touched mine, I was lost. The thought to resist never even crossed my mind as I returned the kiss with as much ardor as he was giving it with. I felt as if I was suddenly bursting with something I both craved and feared; I wanted to clutch at it and shove it away at the same time. When Legolas pulled back I reached for his tunic to steady myself.

"Can you deny that?" he asked. "Can you deny what you felt just then?"

As I looked into his impossibly deep blue eyes, I knew that I had fallen. For Eru knows how many years I had teetered on the edge, knowing I felt friendly love but holding myself back from the edge of more, but now I knew I had fallen headfirst.

"I cannot deny it," I finally answered. "And that frightens me." Legolas smiled and gently cupped my face in his hands.

"Do not be scared of falling in love," he said. "Because I fell long ago and am ready to catch you." After no more than a second's hesitation, I gave in and kissed him again, wrapping my arms around his neck to pull myself closer to him.

"I love you," he said after we finally pulled away. "My heart is yours and yours alone." I smiled as I reached up to touch his face, in awe that this was happening, that I could feel like I did.

"I love you," I replied, smiling. "I think I always did, even though I did not know it. I think I have waited for this longer than I know."

"This has all happened so fast," he said, his expression serious, "But I know I have wanted this nearly as long as I have known you, and now I know nothing I want more than to spend eternity with you."

"Are you asking me to be your wife?" I asked with a smile and a blush I could feel working its way up my cheeks.

"Yes," he said, smiling in return. "I would be the happiest elf in Area if you would agree to bind yourself to me."

"You realize you will have to compete with me for that title," I laughed as I kissed him again.

"Is that a yes?" he mumbled against my lips.

"No, this is," I said as I ran my finger up to the tip of his ear, giggling at his sharp intake of breath.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The next morning I awoke to those blue eyes fixed on my face.

"You overslept. Again," he said as he leaned down to kiss me.

"Do we have anywhere to be?" I asked as I stretched sleepily.

"Breakfast," he replied, his voice muffled by my neck, which he was nuzzling. "Where we will be able to announce our marriage," he added. I smiled.

"I cannot imagine the looks of shock on your ada and Aldeon's faces." Legolas laughed.

"I can!" He stopped again to place another kiss on my lips. "I love you," he said. "And I want to tell the world," he added with a grin.

"I suppose you will have to settle for Gondor and me for now," I replied.

"You are all I need," he said as he gathered me in his arms and placed a kiss on top of my head. "All I need and all I want, and now that I have you I will never let you go."


A/N: Wow! I cannot believe that this is actually over. It seems like I just started this thing! Thank you once again to all the reviewers who have supported me all the way through and to Kaela, my wonderful beta who has stuck by me despite my oddities ;-). Watch for the ficlet spinoff of ICWY coming soon! Thanks for reading!