Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing save the computer this fic has been written on.

A/N: Hey, everyone! This fic was something that was *completely* spur-of- the-moment. I *know* I have "These Bonds We've Forged" to finish, but I'm stuck. Hopefully I'll dig myself out of the rut I've fallen into after RotK comes to theaters, and hopefully, even sooner. I'm sorry it's taking so long! But don't worry, I haven't abandoned it, nor do I plan to. At any rate, I had to get this one down first. Enjoy!

Geographical Locations (check the back of combined LotR Trilogy Book):

Anduin = The Great River

Bruinen = Loudwater

Hithaeglir = Misty Mountains

Imladris = Rivendell

'Elvish'

"Common Speech/Westron"

/Personal Thoughts/

*Italics*

~~Flashback~~

.:When We Two Meet Again:.

By Sentimental Star

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~

(Thirteen Years Ago)

'Do you really have to go?' a small, teary voice asked.

Legolas gazed down sadly at the tiny human laying on the bed, covered to his chin by mounds of blankets. He placed his hand gently on the child's head, stroking his fingers through the seven-year-old fosterling of Lord Elrond's unkempt dark hair. 'I am afraid I must, Estel. And I would leave before your brothers see fit to tie me to the bed,' Mirkwood's Crown Prince murmured. The last part he had said in jest, hoping to light the darkened countenance of the young face that gazed so mournfully back at him.

Needless to say, it did not work.

Tiny fingers caught his own, holding his rather larger hand to the small Dúnadan's face. A face which was, quite obviously, wet. 'You will come back, won't you? You won't stay away . . . like Nana?' Estel choked. In a sudden movement that took even the Woodland Elf by surprise, the Human, in one motion, threw himself at the prince and latched on to his neck, still crying.

Legolas shut his eyes at the spike of pain which seared his heart. This child had swiftly, and without his knowing, become one of the most important beings in his life. Add the fact that he was mortal, something which Firstborns had ironically dubbed the Gift of the Valar to Men (that is, death) . . . and you had quite a friendship, indeed. For death was assuredly what the child was talking about, even if he was too young to understand it fully or remember the death of his mother when he was an infant. Although there were times---like now---when he wondered if that was really the case. 'I will not, Estel,' he whispered, 'I promise you that. And I *will* return, if only to make sure you do not miss me.'

'I miss you already,' Estel murmured, tears still slipping down his cheeks, laying his head in the crook of the Elf's neck.

The prince's throat tightened. He had meant only to check on Estel before he left, to make sure the child's dreams were peaceful. He had not expected the tiny Dúnadan to be awake, waiting for him. He wondered if the child had been up all night, because for sure he himself had not slept well.

'Come with me a moment, tithen min,' he advised the boy softly, reaching down for a blanket on the child's bed. He wrapped the warm cloth around Estel and made his way through the door outside onto the balcony of the human's room.

The first rays of the sunrise were just beginning to peek over the walls of the ravine where Imladris was nestled and softly illuminated the two figures in a rosy glow. Legolas's natural light had also remained, mixing in with the rays of the sun, for the moon had not yet returned to bed, nor had the stars yet fallen asleep. A brisk breeze blew the Silvan Elf's golden blond hair strands about his face and played with the dark strands of Estel's. Far below them, the faint mumblings of the Bruinen could be heard as it tumbled over rocks and crashed over falls.

'The sun rises in the East,' Legolas murmured, 'where this balcony faces. Whenever you think of me, look to the East, for that is where I live--- across the Hithaeglir and on the East bank of the Anduin. That is Mirkwood, my home. And if your heart's voice is clear enough, and loud enough, I will hear you and look to the West, the opposite of East, and mayhap, you will hear my heart as well.'

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~

(Present Time)

Thranduil, Elvenking of Mirkwood, glanced over to his only son when the young prince released a barely audible sigh and looked out the western window of throne room. The messenger from the Southern Wood, just beyond the Old Forest Road, did not notice, and kept droning on. The king smiled slightly, knowing well how much interest Legolas took in conferences such as this. About as much as a stone.

He could understand. Especially on hot afternoons such as this one. At any rate, he was expecting another guest, this one all but unannounced, save to Thranduil and the guards.

'Mellon-nin,' he easily interrupted the messenger at a pause wherein the Elf took a breath, 'you must be weary from your trip.' He motioned to one of the guards at the door. 'Please take him to a guest room, Aries.'

'Aye, Uncle,' his nephew acquiesced with a grin. He caught his young cousin's eye when Legolas took notice that the conference was no longer occurring and winked at him. 'Should I bring my cousin, too, or do you wish him to remain?'

'Not a word,' Thranduil warned the younger Elf quietly, but smiled slightly. 'I would rather he remain. Just keep an eye out for our other visitor and usher him in here. And *no* tricks.' The last had a definite note of warning in it.

Aries was the picture of innocence. 'Of course not, Uncle.'

Thranduil laughed good-naturedly. 'All right.' He nodded to the bewildered messenger. 'Never mind my nephew. He will show you a room where you can take your rest and we will continue this meeting tomorrow morning.'

The messenger bowed. 'As you wish, your Majesty. Hannon-le.' Then he went out with Aries into the hall.

'Hmm,' Thranduil murmured when they left, stroking his chin, 'maybe I *should* have sent you with your cousin.' This he said to his son, whom he turned to with a smile. It only widened when he noticed Legolas looked quite put out.

'Am I to guess what is going on, Ada? I have the distinct impression that I am missing out on something,' Legolas responded with a frown, his midnight eyes searching Thranduil's face.

His father laughed heartily. 'I merely noticed that you were not up to . . . your usual caliber today.'

Legolas sighed and slumped down in his chair on the raised dais, crossing his arms over his chest and looking very unprincelike, indeed. 'I am hardly of the opinion that these meetings are necessary.'

'Ah,' Thranduil nodded, 'but this I know. Is there something else which is bothering you, ion-nin?'

The prince glanced out the western window again. After a moment, he answered truthfully, 'I am restless, Ada. It has been thirteen years since I last visited Imladris and I have gone nowhere else, save the Southern Wood. 'Tis not that I do not want to be here, but I should like to see the twins again . . .'

'And Estel?' Thranduil asked with a knowing smile. His son had told him about the remarkable human child who had, in Legolas's words, 'saved him' that visit. His smile dimmed as he recalled the events which had led up to his sending the younger Elf to Elrond (his own cousin) in Imladris.

Fourteen years ago Legolas lost his best friend to an Orc ambush in the Southern Wood not three leagues from the Old Forest Road. Both young Elves had been brought home unconscious and badly wounded; the Healers feared that neither would survive. In the end it almost seemed that it would have been better if they both had not. Legolas's friend, Eridanus, died just shy of dawn on the fourth day after their return and just as Legolas himself revived.

His son had nearly been driven to death by grief once he was coherent enough to understand what had happened. And fearing that he would indeed do so if he remained in Mirkwood, Thranduil had sent him to Elrond, knowing for a fact that his cousin's realm was an Elven sanctuary peaceful enough and light enough to heal even some of the most scarred hearts. Aries and Legolas's other cousins had accompanied him as far as the southern passage to Rivendell where Elrond's twins, Elladan and Elrohir, took him to their home.

Legolas told him that very same night he had a nightmare of Eridanus's death, only to wake up and find a human child, no more than six years of age, sitting on the edge of his bed. Apparently, the boy had been woken by his son crying out for Eridanus and unused to hearing Elves in pain, took it upon himself to find Legolas and somehow help him.

That night, a year of healing was begun.

'Ada?' Legolas's voice cut into his reverie and came from his knees. The young Elf had moved from his chair some time ago, and in a rare display of physical affection, had knelt and folded his arms so that his elbows rested on Thranduil's legs. He was now gazing up at his father in concern from where his chin lay on his arms.

The Woodland king returned the younger Elf's gaze in slight surprise and quite a bit of delight. Shaking his head, he twined his fingers in his son's golden blond hair and brushed them through it. 'I am fine, ion-nin. I was merely thinking,' Thranduil assured him quietly.

Legolas blushed at the unexpected return of physical affection and rested his forehead where his chin had been mere moments ago. Thranduil kept on stroking his fingers through the younger Elf's hair. The Silvan Elf knew he should probably be embarrassed. He was 2,876 years of age. That was roughly equal to twenty years in Human count, nearly an adult. But he knew that even adults needed this type of affection from time to time, and since Thranduil was normally not this expressive, it was a very welcome display indeed.

For several long minutes, nothing was said between father and son. Only when Thranduil idly glanced around the throne room did he notice the presence of another.

A Man, dressed in the dark garb of a Ranger with a pack slung over one shoulder and a quiver and bow over the other, leaned in the doorway of the throne room, wordlessly watching the two royalty. An Elven dagger, in the make of Lothlórien, was strapped around his waist on a belt; his arms were crossed over his chest, his posture both alert and relaxed at the same time, and he watched the king and his son with warm eyes.

Thranduil gave a start, before smiling. 'And just how long have you been there?'

'Long enough, my Lord,' the Ranger responded with a grin. He was young, no more than nineteen or twenty summers of age.

As Thranduil and Legolas rose to their feet, the younger of the two gazing with guarded curiosity at the---seemingly---unannounced arrival, the Ranger straightened and bowed. Men rarely visited Mirkwood, fearful of the Shadow which enveloped its southern half and untrusting of the Elves who occupied its northern half. It was a popular misconception that the Woodland king was harsh towards visitors, particularly Human ones, so the few who actually *did* enter these halls practically quaked whenever they stood before Thranduil, his son, or one of his nephews. Not so with this Man. In fact, he seemed as at ease as the Elves who resided here. To Legolas's mind, he was either very brave or very foolish. Or perhaps even both.

Suddenly, with a start, the prince realized that the Ranger had spoken in the Elven tongue---Sindarin. That in itself was almost unheard of. Only the Dúnedain spoke fluently in the Grey Tongue, and precious few of that number remained. Legolas found himself hoping the Man would speak again, so that he might decipher the extent of the Ranger's knowledge of his native language. For certainly, the silver orbs shot through with cerulean which had returned to his father's face were familiar---nearly an exact replica of Estel's. There was also something familiar about the Ranger's face, although, at the same time, bearded as it was, it also was completely unknown to Legolas.

Thranduil had since moved from where he stood on the dais at his son's side to where the Ranger waited patiently. Once the king was in front of him, the Man raised his head slightly, eyes twinkling and brightly smiling. The Woodland ruler returned the smile, then gave a soft gasp of surprised delight when the Human threw his arms around his middle and hugged him.

Legolas, watching from the dais, face-faulted in shock. Who in Middle- Earth *was* this Man that he greet the King of Mirkwood with such affection and without any reservations?! And who was he that Thranduil take such delight in the display?!

Such was the prince's preoccupation that he failed to hear the quiet conversation between the Ranger and Thranduil:

'What is this about, young one?' the king asked quietly, stepping back with a gentle smile and placing his hands on the Human's shoulders.

The Ranger's deep silver eyes danced as he rested his own on the Silvan Elf's forearms. 'Well, you *are* family, my Lord.'

Thranduil chuckled. 'Second cousin, I believe. You certainly have an extensive Elven family in that case.'

The Man easily shrugged. 'For which I am glad.' He sighed and his eyes became slightly distant and troubled. ' 'Tis hard, sometimes, knowing I am who I am and not wanting any part in it. Having a family such that I do makes it that much easier to bear.'

The Firstborn's eyes softened. 'Your father has told you then, about your ancestry.' It was not a question.

The Ranger nodded. 'Aye. I am not angry at him for keeping it a secret; I know why he did it.' He released another frustrated sigh. 'I just wish I could continue on the way I was---blissfully ignorant. 'Twas so much to carry . . .' He dropped his eyes to the ground and bowed his head, whispering, 'He does not recognize me, does he?'

Thranduil was slightly startled by the abrupt shift of topic. 'Who?'

'Legolas.' The Man's voice was barely audible and he turned pain-filled eyes to look over the king's shoulder at the Crown Prince. He would have laughed at the look of absolute shock on the younger Silvan Elf's face, but the pain in his heart prevented him from doing so.

Suddenly finding himself the subject of the Ranger's scrutiny, Legolas shifted uneasily where he stood before slowly making his way to his father's shoulder. Once there, he gave a horrible start. The look of utter hurt in the Man's eyes made his heart seize oddly within his chest. This close he could see every bit of it in the way the Ranger's previously warm, alert silver eyes dimmed. And he found himself desperately wishing he remembered anything at all of this Man. But he did not, save for his eyes.

Unable to maintain their gaze, the Ranger looked away and down, squeezing his eyes shut. A single tear glistened at the right one's corner before trickling down his cheek. Legolas swallowed uncomfortably against the lump in his throat. This Man . . . was crying?

Hesitantly, he reached a slim hand out and murmured, wiping away the tear gently with his thumb, 'Why do you weep?'

He was quite startled a moment later when the Ranger's own came up and captured the hand against his cheek. 'Am I so changed that you do not know me, Legolas?' he choked.

The prince's eyes widened and shimmered, the Man's actions swiftly recalling his last day in Imladris to mind. Then he shook his head. 'I fear you have me at a loss,' he whispered, then winced as his response drew forth a soft sob from the Ranger as the Human dropped his gaze a moment.

When he again looked up, the expression on his face stole Legolas's breath from his lungs. Every bit of it was lined with fatigue and heartbreak. The Man took a deep, shaky breath in an attempt to dispel the hurt. Although his voice was considerably calmer when he next spoke, the pain was still quite vivid in his silver eyes. ' 'Whenever you think of me, look to the East, for that is where I live---across the Hithaeglir and on the East bank of the Anduin. That is Mirkwood, my home. And if your heart's voice is clear enough, and loud enough, I will hear you and look to the West, the opposite of East, and mayhap, you will hear my heart as well.' It would seem, mellon-nin,' the Ranger advised thickly as he placed his free hand over Legolas's heart, his eyes begging the prince to remember, 'that your heart was calling.'

The Silvan Elf's midnight eyes widened even further as the Man's words hit home, indeed his very own words to Estel that morning thirteen years ago on the tiny Dúnadan's balcony. As he turned to look into this grown Estel's eyes, tears spilled from his own and he barely managed to force out the Man's name, 'E-Estel?'

Whatever tension, whatever fear, whatever hurt and pain had claimed the Ranger, the Dúnadan released in a huge breath of air, giving a slightly strangled laugh and nodding. 'Oh, Valar, you *do* remember! I have missed you *so*!'

And he held his arms out to the prince.

'Estel!' Legolas cried in joyful shock, rushing forward. 'Estel!! How you have *grown*!'

The Dúnadan's arms were soon filled with an incredibly happy Elf.

The End!

Translation of Elvish Terms:

Nana: Mama

Tithen min: little one

Mellon-nin: my friend

Hannon-le: Thank you

Ada: Papa

Ion-nin: my son

Please let me know if any of these are incorrect!