Well, here it is, part three (and the last part) to my litter series. Sorry it took me so long to get it out, it took me forever to write it, pretty much because after the first couple of pages, my plot bunny decided to take an extended vacation, leaving me alone to write and rewrite everything. So now I'm done.

SUMMARY: What happens to Legolas and Gimli when they finally arrive on the shores of Valinor?

DISCLAIMER: I own nothing, absolutely nothing, except for the name of Legolas' mother. I don't even own Kemendil...that elf belongs to my friend!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This can be a stand-alone fic, but it has more meaning if you read the other two parts first. I have no beta, so all mistakes, grammatical and otherwise are mine and mine alone. Oh hey, that would something that I own. Now, on to the story, and please...don't forget to give me feedback!

The Journey Home

By Tiger
To my friend Travis, may this be a story that lifts your weary spirit

All was still in the night. Nothing moved but the leisurely blowing sea breeze. It was quiet save for the breaking of the water on the bow of the Arda. Legolas stood at the wheel of the ship, slowly turning it this way and that, always following the pull in his heart that the Valar put in it to guide him through the vast waters of the sea. Legolas looked up into the sky, noting that the stars were brighter than he had ever seen them. But it was not the brightest star that he looked for. He looked for Estel's Star, the small, faint glow that always seemed to be hidden under the bright light of Earendil. Then suddenly, the pull in his heart became less and less, until it was but a faint memory of the need that had driven him before. Alarmed, he looked ahead, but his worry soon soothed. It was no more than a small shadow on the horizon, a small white and green dot in the middle of a great blue. His elven eyes had at last sighted the island of Valinor.

He stood on the deck, looking at the island for an hour or two, to make sure that his eyes were not playing tricks with his heart. While waiting he felt that the distant land was calling him. "Home" it seemed to say. "Come home." Legolas could not wait any longer. Setting the wheel in place, he rushed below deck and found Gimli in his hammock, fast asleep. Legolas hesitated for a moment before rousing the dwarf from his slumber. It was very late, and yet Legolas had promised Gimli that he would wake him when the time came. Placing his hand on Gimli's shoulder, Legolas tried to shake him awake.

"Gimli, it is time for you to wake," he said softly. Gimli stirred and grumbled a little.

"Not now, laddie, I don't hear any orcs," was the sleepy reply. Legolas let out a breath of frustration before shaking Gimli harder.

"Rise my friend! You asked me to wake you when I spotted Valinor, and I have!" Gimli bolted upwards, rubbing his eyes as he did so.

"Well, why didn't you say so in the first place?" Gimli gruffly bellowed, a bit grumpy at the early call. Legolas only shrugged and rolled his yes. "Come on lad, let's see this island of yours." He jumped up and went onto the deck, scanning the horizon.

"There it is Gimli, is it not beautiful, even at this distance?" Legolas asked as he pointed his finger at the small dot in the sky. Gimli squinted and harrumped for a short while before finally seeing it.

"It appears you are correct, Master Elf. How long until we reach the island?" Gimli asked. He yawned, but he felt wide awake.

"We will not reach it until dawn, perhaps later." Legolas said, unsuccessfully trying to stifle a yawn of his own. He hadn't slept in three days. After passing a chain of smaller islands, Legolas stayed anxiously awake, not wanting to miss the first sight of Valinor.

Gimli noticed the action and noticed for the first time that there were dark circles under the elf's eyes. He took a closer look at his friend and found that the elf's physical appearance was far from his liking. "Legolas, rest, I will look after our journey for Valinor." He pointed to Legolas' hammock tied between two posts of the ship.

"Gimli, I'm fine, I'm all right, really, I-"Legolas began to protest before Gimli cut him off with a wave of his gloved hand.

"Go Legolas. Your father will have my head if he sees you like this. Galadriel's word or no, he will have my head to see that I have taken such poor care of his on." Legolas opened his mouth again to protest, but Gimli shook his head and pointed his finger towards the hammock again. "No more arguments, Master Elf, go and rest!" Legolas only grumbled something about the prince rather than the king wanting the dwarf's head as he sleepily walked off to his hammock. Lying down, he let his mind wander towards the dreamworld. He lost touch with the reality around him as he settled into a blissful sleep without dreams.

Gimli sighed and shook his head as Legolas collapsed onto his hammock. "Why must elves be so stubborn?" he thought to himself. He looked ahead and watched the sun rise as the island got larger. His heart was filled with anticipation. It had been long since he had seen the heavenly Lady of the Wood. His heart nearly broke when she came into the caves of his to bid him farewell. He remembered the softness of her last embrace, the sweet flower scent that was hers. But most of all, he remembered her deep, soothing voice as she told him not to grieve for her passing. He remembered the tear that slid down his cheek as he watched her horse riding away from him and her golden hair as it caught the rays of the setting sun. reaching a hand into his pocket, he pulled out the jewel that was the most precious to him above all other jewels in Middle Earth. It was no more than a glass ball with three entwined strands of golden hair flowing through it. He clutched the ball tightly, missing the golden lady who gave him the strands. Taking a rather noisy breath, he harrumphed and dropped the ball back into his pocket. Sentiment was not a characteristic of the dwarves. Besides, if Legolas knew about the ball, he would never live it down, although he was prepared to do anything in the name of his special lady.

He looked up and saw the sky beginning to flood with demure colors. Dawn was approaching. Had he really spent the rest of the night dreaming about Galadriel? Gimli sook his head and grinned a little. No matter, it was a good dream. He looked at the ever growing landmass in front of him and decided that now would be a good time for him to wake Legolas. They would be approaching thew white shores in and hour. He knew that if he woke Legolas any later, it wouldn't be Thranduil who wanted his head, it would be his son.

"Legolas," he said gently. The elf's eyes came out of the daze they seemed to be in before and became a clear blue. He looked quizzically at the dwarf. He cocked his head.

"What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be guiding the ship?" he asked in a puzzled voice. How long had he slept? It was nearly dawn. He sat up and started to get out of the hammock. He was still exhausted and moved slowly. He tried to hurry himself up.

"Easy lad" said Gimli in his gentle voice again. "There's no need to rush or guide the ship now. We're almost an hour away from the land's shore" Legolas nodded. It was good to know. "Legolas, you're a mess, least rebraid your hair." Gimli observed with a chuckle. Legolas' hands immediately to his head where they began to absentmindedly braided his long, blond hair.

"Speak for yourself, Gimli," Legolas said with the same humor in his voice. "Do you think that the Lady Galadriel will be so pleased to see the dwarf she sent for with his hair standing on end? I think not!" Legolas laughed light heartedly at Gimli's offended harrumph and quick straightening of his hair. So went on the lively banter as they prepared to dock the ship.

The Arda easily slid onto the white sand and planks were pressed upon the sides of the ship so that the serving elves from Valinor could unload the ship. Legolas set a wobbly leg on the plank and slowly made his way down. He had been on the ship for quite some time. He fell into the soft sand and ran a hand through the sparkling whiteness. He was there at last. He had come home. He bowed his head and thanked the Valar for the safe journey. Looking up, he saw Gimli doing the same, but his hand was in his pocket clutching something. Legolas wondered about it, but let it go. It was probably some dwarf trinket that Gimli could not bear to have stowed away. He stood up, having heard soft footsteps. He motioned for Gimli to rise from the warm sand and look ahead.
Seven familiar figures walked towards them to greet them. Legolas' face broke out into a wide smile as soon as he saw who the seven were. Clothed in elven robes and other finery were none other than the bearers of the great rings of Middle-Earth. Standing at the head of the Ringbearers was a man clothed entirely in white, with along white beard and a tall staff. The blue eyes that were nearly hidden under the bushy eyebrows smiled at the odd pair.

"Mithrandir!" cried Legolas joyfully

"Gandalf!" exclaimed Gimli at the same time.

"Yes, it is I," said Gandalf after a short chuckle. "So you have come to Valinor at last. We have been waiting for you." He indicated the other ringbearers.

"Bilbo...Frodo...Sam...Ciradan...Lady Galadriel...Gil-Galad...Lord Elrond!" Legolas breathed unbelieving. The elves he could fathom being in Valinor. They were, after all, elves. But the hobbits, how could they...?

"The Valar have let us dwell here, for carrying an evil burden" said Frodo after the initial embraces were over when Frodo caught the shock and puzzled look in Legolas' eyes.

"I...see." Said Legolas, his shock wearing off. It made sense now. Here the hobbits could find the peace that they were unable to achieve in Middle- Earth. He stood up to face the Lord Elrond where his eyes held a measure of sadness within them. "My Lord," Legolas softly spoke. "I bring sad news from the fair city of Gondor and the once beautiful wood of Lorien." Legolas bit his lip, knowing that Elrond already knew.

"I know, Legolas, I know. I felt their passing as well. I felt the hand of death clutch my heart as my bond with both of my children were broken from me forever." Elrond couldn't keep the choke out of his voice. He couldn't make the lump in his throat leave.

"Arwen bade me to say to you that she did not regret her choice, even though she felt the bitterness that you spoke of to her," Legolas said softly as he relived Arwen's last moments with him in Lorien.

"All was as it should be," Elrond said, regaining his composure. "Come, your father has been waiting to see you." Legolas snapped his head up, happiness filling his eyes. He nodded t Elrond and the two elves set off together to the wood where Thranduil lived.

Meanwhile, Gimli had only stood in front of Galadriel with his mouth open. The Lady of the Wood was even more beautiful than he remembered her to be. A great burden had been lifted from her shoulders and she seemed to be more carefree than before. "Lady," Gimli managed to stutter out. What was he to say to this beautiful being? "Thank you, for giving me the grace to come," was all he could remember to say. She laughed softly at his reaction to her, a sound that was music to his ears. He had waited a hundred years to hear that lovely sound.

"You played an important part in the War of the Ring. You should have been rewarded as you wish to. You have." She said. He fumbled for words to say to her, but none came. She smiled at him and patted his shoulder with a soft hand before she walked away with the other ringbearers, leaving him with the hobbits who turned to him. They ran up to him and chatted away. He only nodded or made small noises. He wasn't really paying attention to their talk, his mind was still on the vision of Galadriel.

Elrond led Legolas to a large house wrapped around a great Mallorn tree. A servant greeted them at the door. "Lord Elrond," The elf said gravely. "We were not expecting you so soon after morning tea."

"Kemendil," Elrond said with a small smile. "Please inform King Thranduil that a surprise awaits when he greets me." Elrond spoke with a hint of amusement in his voice. Legolas looked at Elrond and smiled brightly. It was hard to surprise the ancient king, but the two of them might accomplish the deed.

Kemendil said nothing, but smiled slightly and bowed his head and left to fetch the King Thranduil. Legolas walked around the greeting room. It was much like the greeting room in Eryn Lasglen. He paced the room and stopped at the painting of a slender, blond elf with a face almost like his own. He reached out and gently touched the face with his fingertips.

"Nana," he whispered. It was a name that he hadn't whispered since he was a child. She was here then, he concluded. He would finally see his naneth again after so many long years. Just then, a blustering voice made Legolas smile brightly.

"What's the meaning of this, Elrond? You know that I am not to be interrupted when I'm writing!" came the slightly irritated voice of Thranduil. "Even for surprises! You know that I have to finish at least part of his before-" Thranduil stopped at Elrond's raised eyebrow and the hint of laughter in his eyes. "What is it Mellon Nin?" Thranduil looked over to the place where Elrond pointed to with his eyes.

"Ada!" Legolas cried and ran to embrace his father. Legolas held him tightly, never wanting to let go of him, not ever. It had been so long since he had seen him last.

"Ion nin," Thranduil said into Legolas' hair as the tears ran down his cheek, forming small droplets on his son's golden hair. "I have missed you." He held Legolas' tightly. He felt the sudden urge to site down and hold Legolas in his lap as if he were a child again. The image that dashed into his mind made him laugh.

Legolas smiled at the sound of his father's laughter. How he missed that sound through the years! "What is it that made you laugh so, Ada?" He asked, beaming up at Thranduil.

"I was just wishing that you were not so big so I could sit you in my lap as I used to!" Thranduil chuckled again at the imaged that invaded his mind. "Then, the image of you now came into my mind!" Both fell into a gale of laughter. Neither of them noticed that Elrond had quietly left the dwelling with a satisfied smile on his face.

"Wait here, Legolas, it is my turn to surprise you now!" said Thranduil before he practically ran up the stairs. Legolas just stood there wondering what the surprise was when Thranduil walked back into the room with a slender woman at his side. Legolas' breath caught in his throat as is eyes darted back and forth from the painting tot he woman, hardly believing what he saw. The woman walked up to him and fingered a lock of his hair, her clear blue eyes scrutinizing his face.

"Legolas?" she spoke softly in astonishment, he had grown so much! "Is it really you? You've grown quite a bit since I saw you last."

"Yes, Nana," he replied with bright shining eyes. "I'm here, I'm finally home," he whispered as he embraced the mother he had not seen since he was four. It was true, home was not home without the small touches his mother had put in since she had died all those years ago in Mirkwood. For awhile the palace in Mirkwood felt like home, but the touches became less and less apparent as what had been Runya had started to fade away with the elven race. "I have waited so long to see you," he said as they pulled apart.

"As have I" she said warmly. She linked her arms between Thranduil and Legolas. "Come, there is much that I have missed since my passing and your stubborn father will not let me go near those journals!"

"Runya," Thranduil said with a hint of exasperation. "If I haven't told you once, I have told you a thousand times before, those journals are private, meant only for the eyes of father and son!" Legolas only laughed happily as they climbed the stairs. He had missed this, the banter within a family, the happiness that he now felt. He had not felt this content since Ara—No, he told himself. He couldn't think about him now, not now since he was so happy.

Elrond stared into the night sky looking at Estel's Star. He looked harder and saw if it was at all possible, another star beside it, just as faint, just as bright as Estel's. It too, was a new star, the Star of Undomiel, the Evenstar of the night sky. A tear slid down his cheek at the memory of the beloved son that the star was named after, as well as the daughter forever entwined with his son's destiny. He had felt the bond break when Estel left Arda for the great unknown. He had begun to mourn them all those weeks that had passed before Legolas' arrival that confirmed the terrible truth. During that period of time, he began to remember each year of his human son's life—no more than a blink of an eye—and each memory, no matter how heart-wrenching brought a smile to his timeless face. He could have stood the grief had his bond been broken with only one of his children. But Arwen had died as well. More tears slid down his cheeks as he remembered the life of his daughter.

"Oh Illuvatar!" he cried into the darkness in great, heaving sobs. "Why must you take them away from me to your noble throne? Why could you not let them stay in Valinor?" he sat down on the stone bench with his head in his hands. Hot tears slid through his fingers has he poured his grief out like no other moment in his life save for his brother's death. He felt a hand on his shoulder, comforting him. He looked up into Legolas' grief filled face.

"I miss them too," Legolas said as he sat down beside Elrond. He too, had been crying. He had not the chance to mourn their deaths until now, he had been too busy or too shocked. Though he had been happy earlier, he could not sleep for the memories of Arwen and Estel were burned into his dreams, haunting him until he finally chose to release his pain.

"I know, Legolas. But you do not know what it is like to lose a son and a daughter, forever," Elrond sadly said. Through all his grief, he had been glad that he had not lost Legolas as well, for the elf had come as close to his heart as any of his children had. There were footsteps coming into the garden. They were two sets that nearly matched the other. It was Elladan and Elrohir.

"Ada," Elladan said, crouching in front of his father. "We could feel your grief across the gardens."

"Will you be all right?" asked a worried Elrohir. Though the twins had to face their own grief, they pushed their emotions aside to tend to their distraught father. All of the elves were worried about the great elf lord. They knew that the only reason why Elrond did not fade when Celebrien died was because he knew that he would see her again in Valinor. But that was not so with Arwen and Aragorn. They were of the race of men, destined to pass through the Hall of Mandos and be with the Illuvatar. Elrond had faced the loss of the mortal friends he made through the ages, but none of them was as close to his heart as his own children were.

"I don't know," whispered Elrond. Even the years of knowing that Estel would die had not prepared Elrond for the tidings of his death. The other elves said nothing, but stayed with Elrond until the brilliant red dawn came.

The next day was a busy one for Legolas and Gimli had packed the ship full with their belongings and gifts. It was midday before things were sorted out and the right things to the right people. Legolas carried his things back to his parents' home before joining the others for the midday meal. Sitting down and eating with his old friends made him seem himself again. The hobbits took no notice of anything else except for the stories told and the food that was shared.

The hobbits were in the middle of the telling of a humorous story about the Fellowship when the first started out from Imaldris when a laugh louder than the others rang out across the table. It was silent for a moment as everyone stared at the laughing person. They hardly believed that the man standing before them was real. The man stopped laughing and looked quizzically at the group staring at him.

"What? Please continue, Master Hobbit, I meant no disrespect by laughing at your story," the man said with a smile in his sparkling eyes,

"But, but...how are you here?" asked Elrond. He hardly believed his eyes. Legolas didn't wait to hear the man's answer. Instead, he jumped up from the table, tore past Elrond and gave the man a flying embrace that sent the pair down to the ground.

"ESTEL!" he yelled as he did so. "You're real!"

Aragorn laughed. "Of course I'm real, you have me pinned under you have you not?" Legolas only laughed as he helped his friend up.

"Mellon nin, how is it that you are here?" Legolas asked after he and Aragorn had caught their breaths. Elrond rolled his eyes,

"Yes, do tell," he said somewhat sarcastically. Aragorn shrugged his shoulders slightly.

"The Illuvatar asked me what I wished for while I dwelled in the Hall of Mandos...

'King Elessar, what is it that your heart most desires?' the kindly elf- like being asked me. I did not know how to answer his question. What did I desire? A thousand things I though of, but I knew that I could only ask for one.

'My heart desires that the Fellowship and those that they dearly loved come and spend the rest of eternity with the others on the fair land of Valinor, for I miss them so,' was my reply. I wished that I had asked for more, but I knew I could not. But then, Illuvatar surprised me.

'Elessar, you do not wish for the other actors in the War of the Ring come to Valinor as well?' I stood there, looking at the smiling being, and could not believe my own ears.

'Illuvatar,' I breathed, unable to speak for my heart was racing madly with excitement and pure joy. My wish, and more, had been granted.

'Nay, Elessar,' Illuvatar corrected me. 'It is the Valar who should thank you, for you played a great part in the saving of Arda from Sauron, for you h ad done what we could not. Now go, my child, the others are waiting for you to lead them.' He embraced me and kissed my forehead and left. I turned around and my eyes misted with tears. There stood before me, people I had loved and lost since the time of the Fellowship, as well as others that Ada and the other elves would dearly love to see and be with. All had done great deeds in their own way, and all deserved to be rewarded.

Then I saw here standing before me, you and beautiful as the day I wed her. I quickly embraced her with all the kisses I had long to give her since I felt her pass in Lorien. 'Shall we go now, meleth nin?" she whispered to me. How sweet was the sound of her voice, like velvet upon skin! I nodded, took her hand and led the others onto the path that Illuvatar set out for us. We spent many days crossing the bridge that connected Mandos to Valinor, and then we came here, and found you." Aragorn ended his story. From behind him Arwen walked up to him and quietly slid her hand through Aragorn's. Her soft brown eyes sought that of her father and brothers, telling each of them how much she had longed to be with them again after many years apart. Behind the pair, arrived the rest of the group that Aragorn led from Mandos.

The hobbits could contain themselves no long as they ran to the group, first embracing Aragorn and Arwen, then talking excitedly to Sam and Rosie, Merry and Pippin, and their wives. The rest of the people at the table followed the hobbits' suit, rushing to the new arrivals, their food completely forgotten by even the hobbits. There were many happy reunions that day, as friends welcomed old friends and made new ones, past differences long forgotten. But perhaps the happiest reunion of all was that of Elrond and Elros.

"Elros!" Elrond exclaimed. He felt like a child again for he was nearly humping up and down with excitement. Elros only laughed as he saw his brother run towards him. It had been ages since he had been able to talk to his brother, and the emptiness in his heart felt full for the first time in a very long time. Indeed, for that was what everyone in the happy group felt. No one could wait for the start of a new day, for they accomplished what they set out for. They found their way home, in there hearts, to each other.

~Finis