A/N: Well, here it is. The final chapter. Forgive me, for the ludicrous delay. I can offer nothing but my deepest and most sincere apologies. This is a bit on the short side, I'm afraid, but I did not want to make it needlessly long when it could be wrapped up short and sweet. I hope you all enjoyed this story. I'll have to be updating my other LOTR WIPs soon:
Brothers in Heart
Hearts of Glass
So be on the look out for the revival of those.
Also: I have a few Dead Poets Society fanfics up now, for those of you with any interest in that movie. I love it to pieces and can actually say that the DPS fics I have produced are fairly lovely, to be modest about it. I'd really appreciate it if you were to R/R those:
Maps – WIP
By Your Side
Thanks again, people.
Aragorn stumbled to a halt at last, many strides from the old memorial to Lady Celebrian. He panted for breath, having run madly after only a moment of standing in the doorway of the ward, in Legolas' wake. He didn't know how he had known the Elf had come here, and he didn't bother to question himself. The prince was sitting cupped in Celebrian's cloak that remained perpetually frozen in some invisible wind. He looked nonchalantly at the young Man, his breathing giving away his wounded state. His smile was weary yet calm, his lithe form sprawled down across the base of Celebrian's memorial and the steps leading up to her bare feet that peeked out from under the hem of her gown. His left arm lay across his stomach, while his right was limp at his side. A breeze played with his hair subtly, and his blue eyes were like gentle fetters in their gaze at Aragorn.
He approached Legolas slowly, leaves crackling beneath his feet, despite his years with the Elven kind. The sun had already risen to its place in the sky, where it would linger until dusk. Its light was subdued and golden, shifting through the foliage like late afternoon already. Legolas was shadowed in his sitting place, as he informed Aragorn with great satisfaction that she would let them return. The ranger inquired as to what he spoke of, and Legolas nearly laughed aloud. The twins, he said. Celebrian, he said. Aragorn understood. Aragorn did not comprehend how Legolas could know. He didn't question his best friend. He drew near to the damaged Elf like a hunter to a fallen deer. He had believed the Elf's pain had faded, his wound close to healed, but he now supposed he had been mistaken. Legolas watched him like nostalgic love, and his eyes were blue, his eyes were glowing softly.
"Estel," he began, once the ranger had knelt beside him. "Im mel le." Aragorn's gray eyes glimmered.
"I love you, too, Legolas," he answered, but he suspected Legolas was repeating the familiar words for a reason other than to remind his best friend. Legolas only smiled at him wearily, as if he was very old and his body was worn. His stomach rose and fell beneath his arm, and his fingers reminded Estel of the Elf's sweet soul and gentle nature. "Do you fare ill?" the ranger questioned dubiously. Legolas kept his faint smile and sighed, his eyes slipping closed in peace, as if he were lying in a sunlit field.
"Estel," he murmured again. "Can you imagine your face carved in stone? Memorials, devotions, reminders of your existence once you are gone?" Aragorn didn't understand how the question was relevant to anything, but he thought on it all the same.
"Well, I suppose if I decide to accept by birthright, they would do just as you say," he muttered after a moment, not liking to think of who he was and who he was supposed to be.
"I'm sure of it," Legolas said, almost brightly. "But I doubt any statue will be built of Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood, for the generations to look upon." He nearly laughed at the thought, but Aragorn wasn't smiling. "Ah, there won't be a Mirkwood left to build statues after my time." Aragorn looked up, as if to protest, but Legolas continued on. "I'll only be another name in the record books in the great libraries of the world, perhaps even your own, should you become king. My name might be last, under the royal line of Mirkwood Forest, at the bottom of the page. Legolas Thranduilion." And he sighed away a smile again.
"Why do you speak of these things now, Legolas?" the ranger asked, not wanting to think about any of it.
"Because, mellonin," the Elf started. "These things will come one day. It's not really that bad to think about, is it? Our faces carved in stone, our images standing tall in the kingdoms of the coming ages, much more beautiful than we ever were," he chuckled.
"Like Celebrian," Aragorn murmured. He looked up into the wind and the stone face of Celebrian, Daughter of Galadriel, Mother of Arwen Undomiel. She was not unlike his own mother's statue, yet different than Gilraen in a few ways also. Hers was a much larger memorial than his mother's, taller and grander, more intricate. She was captured in untouched youth, before her children were born unto her, perhaps when she was Elrond's new bride. Her head was bowed, as she looked upon something no one else could see. Her hair was pulled back, tied up, the length of it disappearing beneath her cloak. Her hood hung back, her slim shoulders covered, and even in stone, her beauty was obvious. If one were to look closely, they could see her own pendant above her bosom, a miniature Elendil, the most beloved star of her homeland and people. Aragorn wondered what had happened to it, if she had taken it with her to Valinor or if Elrond had it tucked away in his room or in his tunic.
"I suppose we should return to your Adar and Glorfindel," Legolas said, opening his eyes. "They'll be wondering after us, and the twins will want to know how we fare." Aragorn looked at him in curiosity over the twins. Legolas only smiled. "Let us return."
Aragorn straightened and offered a hand unto his best friend, who took it and rose slowly. He paused for a moment, holding the Man's gaze and giving a familiar look of understanding. The breeze lingered about them, and Aragorn returned Legolas' smile. They turned their backs on Lady Celebrian, slinging arms around each other's shoulders, striding back toward home together. She remained standing alone, amidst the painted trees, cloak caught in the wind and hair unmoving.
When the doors opened and two best friends returned, the twins pulled away from Elrond's desperate embrace, heaving breaths filling the otherwise empty chamber, and their eyes lit up at the sight of their companions.
"Estel," cried Elladan. "Legolas," Elrohir added. The archer and the ranger grinned simultaneously. Legolas broke away from Aragorn and bound toward them, nearly leaping into Elladan's arms, before flowing into Elrohir's. The ranger took his time, casually shuffling toward his brothers with his clever smirk. He did not touch them at first but stood back to take a good look at them, with Legolas beside him. They stared at him in quiet anticipation and subtle disbelief, having no memory or knowledge of how the other two had fared.
"You seem to have lost," the Man informed them, earning confused expressions. "Legolas and I beat you home," he added, crossing his arms with a smirk of triumph. The identical faces melted from uncertainty to deviousness, while Glorfindel gave a hearty laugh from behind the Elf and Man. Elrond reminded them there could be no wild pursuits of revenge until each of them were fully recovered.