Part 22

There were five primary reasons why she should not go to Rivendell, Chloe thought. The road was dangerous, twisting and difficult. Lord Elrond had been obviously opposed to her relationship with Legolas. Lady Arwen, she had heard from passing travelers, had been with the last march to the Undying Lands. She was never going to be accepted by Legolas' people. The Elven maids all looked and felt as if they were lamenting her arrival and would have rather she show them proof of her mortality, and thus, die. They wanted Legolas, and she couldn't really waste her time fighting them for him, because in the end, they would have lost no time at all considering how those beautiful creatures would live forever. And Thranduil... the Elvenking was undoubtedly opposed to her involvement with his Prince.

At certain times on her months of travel, Chloe wondered if it would not have been better if she had joined Clark at the bottom of the stream, been swallowed up by the water and, hopefully, resurfaced in Smallville.

Would she have traded the simple familiarity of home for the months of hardship she had had to endure? Chloe pulled the horse away from the brook she had stopped by to refresh herself and the beast.

On the way to Rivendell, she had seen trees walk. On the way to Rivendell, she had encountered a parade of glowing Elves on their way to a land beyond the knowledge of any Man. On the way to Rivendell, she had experienced an attack of anxiety when she had discovered that she had long run out of nourishment. On the way to Rivendell, she had tried not to think of Legolas. On the way to Rivendell, she discovered thinking of him would save her life, as she revived the knowledge for gathering edible foods she had learned from him. On the way to Rivendell, she had learned to work together with the inhabitants of Middle-earth to earn currency for food and water.

No, Chloe would not trade it for either Smallville or Metropolis.

On the way to Rivendell, she had felt the changes in her body that told her that she was ill. It was on the way to Rivendell that she encountered a group of monks that showed her how to pray to Eru and the Valar for the safety of her child. The Christian inside her rebelled at the thought, as she prayed to God to keep her baby safe, because it was never good for the mother to be sick. It was while lying on top of damp grass, feeling the cramps tearing through her belly, that Chloe wondered if God could hear her when she's so far, all the way out in another world. As she cried out, and sobs racked her spine, a monk grasped her clenched hands and spoke to her firmly.

One day's distance she was from Rivendell when Chloe accepted their instructions and clasped her hands together, fighting through the waves of pain, and reconciled her God with Eru. On the way to Rivendell, Chloe learned that no matter the name she used to call upon the higher power, no matter where she was located, she would be true to her faith.

"Give us the name, my lady. Give us the name of your destination."

And it was the group of monks that took Chloe to Rivendell, and was told that the house of Elrond had been abandoned. The guards of Rivendell would not have admitted them, until they saw Chloe lying on the back of one of the wagons.

"My lady," one of the last guards said. "You are not well. Only Master Elrond can heal you."

"You have no healer here?"

The Elf turned to the monk in disbelief. "This is an Elven home. There is no need for a healer here."

"Can you take her to your master?"

The monks had transferred her to the care of the Elves, and blessed her child.

And she was taken into another journey towards the direction from which she came. It was on the way to Gondor that Chloe opened her eyes, saw the stars and knew that the time to leave had come.

Seconds, minutes, hours, days and weeks had passed before she felt the weight of a cool hand on her forehead. It was the first time she had become fully conscious, and pain ripped through her body.

Try as she might, she could not keep th scream inside her. She looked up at the somber face of Elrond as he muttered Elven phrases that began to calm her. The pain still came and went, but Chloe was too exhausted to fight it. She turned her head and saw Arwen sitting beside her, still so beautiful and serene as she reached to dry the tears from Chloe's temples.

Chloe turned her head to the door, from where a scuffle could be heard. Time stood still. For the first time in so many months, after letters that had faded with the wind, after images from wells and dreams and imagination, Chloe set eyes on her beloved prince. Legolas seemed caught inside a haze as he struggled with Aragorn and Gimli in his attempt to enter the room.

'Melethen,' she saw in his lips.

'Melethen.' The word fluttered on her lips. Chloe tightly squeezed her eyes shut.

"This is my dream," Arwen whispered. "Chloe, this is the vision."

"I know," the young woman on the bed rasped. "You cannot let him know."

Elrond's intense eyes settled on his daughter's. "What is this?"

Arwen turned her eyes away from her father's. "I had a vision long ago, before the Ring had been found. One of Legolas' blood kin will be her death."

"And I was not told? This is why only the elders should see the future."

The argument was cut when Chloe clutched at the silken covers. Elrond worked to release the pain, yet Arwen saw in her father the despair of hopelessness.

"Arwen!"Legolas cried. Yet Arwen did not look up because she feared Legolas would see the secret she kept.

"There is always hope," Elrond said. To Arwen, her own words sounded empty. The child slid bloody onto Elrond's hands, and did not cry.

Arwen took the child and stained her pure white gown. When she looked down at the little boy, she saw open blue eyes, clear as the skies above, staring at her. The child was alive, well, but did not cry once. She glanced at the boy's mother, who lay pale, almost gray.

Chloe slept.

And Arwen knew.

Then to Finwe she bore a son so strong of spirit that it left her none. And Miriel fell into a dreamless sleep. Finwe sat beside his wife as he waited for her awakening. Never did she lay eyes on Middle-earth again.

Finally, Arwen looked up, because she needed to know that Aragorn was with her. Yet instead of her beloved Elessar's warm eyes, she met the confused, agonized ones of Legolas. She could no longer hide it.

Arwen walked forward and met the prince. She released the child into his arms, only to have Legolas return the baby to her. As Aragorn laid a hand on the small of her back, Legolas freely slid into the room and fell beside Chloe.

It was a soundless, motionless reunion, one that Aragorn had not expected. He watched the brave prince of Mirkwood hesitate before taking his lady's hand and bringing it to his lips. Before the eyes of the Fellowship, Legolas ran his fingertips softly on Chloe's face, tracing the lines and angles that were so carefully defined in his mind.

For one who had for three thousand years been so open with his emotions, who never been afraid to express himself through his eyes and his songs, Legolas, it seemed, had nothing left inside.

Chloe lay in the Healing Halls until her nameless son, in the care of King Aragorn and Queen Arwen, learned to stand and take his first step. In his son's first year, Legolas spoke not of the boy. Had he heard references to him, he listened not.

It was on the eve of the first year of Chloe's sleep that Legolas first touched the boy again. Arwen had taken the child into the Healing Hall and left him under the guidance of the Healers. When Legolas arrived, he saw the boy still and silent, sitting by Chloe's feet. As a giant branch falling from a tree, the numbness fell away from his heart and Legolas took the child up in his arms.

That night, Legolas took his family away from the White City. He was cloaked in Lorien cloth. The boy was wrapped in Gondor's robes. Hidden from the last of the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood, Legolas released the body of his sleeping lady into the water.

Epilogue

It had been three years since she had been found unconscious beside the very stream in which she was said to have drowned. Her rescue had been scintillating news to the entire country. How could a young woman drown and disappear for two full years be recovered in the same site? How could it happen when the stream had been searched by underwater divers for two full weeks?

Chloe had suddenly become her own entry into the Wall of Weird.

Now here she was, still possessed of the same stubborn curiosity that caused the entire thing in the first place, standing beside the very stream.

"I cannot say how grateful I am, Mr. Luthor."

Lex waved his hand. "Believe me, clearing out the rocks will be nothing. I am intrigued by your theory of this stream becoming a portal to another world."

"Everyone told me I was insane. Only Clark believed me, and he couldn't even come close to this stream."

"Well, here you have it. You are now upon the very bank on which you were found."

Chloe smiled, then swiftly turned to Lex and wrapped her arms around him. She kissed his cheek and whispered, "I'll owe you."

Lex nodded and returned the hug. "I have a feeling that whatever your reasons are, I'm going to get into trouble. But hey, I'm used to trouble. Chloe, clearing out the rocks tomorrow will cost money. I hope whatever this quest of yours is, is worth it."

"Money is nothing to you. This is everything to me."

She walked into the water and looked down. The water moved with her. She forced herself to remain still so that the water around her would stagnate. Chloe stared at her reflection and whispered, "Show him to me."

"Show what?" Lex asked.

Lex's voice was growing fainter. She had to convince herself of that. Lex, and Smallville, was falling away piece by piece by piece. Three years was too long to be away from home. In Middle-earth, she thought she had to go home and that she would if not for Legolas. In Smallville, Chloe felt that something inexplicable had been torn from her.

"Chloe, you're going too far."

But she was not moving, not at all. She opened her eyes and saw the water rising around her. The stream was swallowing her, the way she predicted it would. The water was closing up her neck. The submersion was fast and uncontrollable. Before it could come up to her lips, she cried, "The meteor rocks, Lex! Promise me when I vanish you will take out the rocks and seal the stream."

She no longer heard his answer. The silt and rocks dropped away from her feet and Chloe was plunged into bottomless dark water. She allowed herself to sink into oblivion.

She opened her mouth and drank the murky liquid, then inhaled and felt the piercing pain go through her nostrils and into her brain.

How many times had she died, she wondered.

A firm hand closed around her wrist and pulled her up. Chloe turned her head and coughed out the water in her lungs. She collapsed onto the grassy bank. Finally, when she had caught her breath, she felt the warm flesh tracing her eyes, her cheek, her lips.

"I knew you would find your way back to me."

And there he was, the vision that had haunted her through all their years apart. At times she thought the doctors were right, and that she had dreamed him up, in an effort to fill with memories the time that she had lost.

"Legolas," she whispered. His eyes fiercely burned with tears as he took her in his arms and kissed her as if hunger drove them both.

Chloe laughed with joy. She wrapped his arms around him and closed her eyes against the sun. And then as if called by an unknown force, Chloe opened her eyes and beheld the most beautiful child she had ever seen. She pulled away from Legolas. "Is that my son?" she asked breathlessly.

Instead of answering her, Legolas smiled at Chloe and kissed her temple. He held out his hand to the boy. "Come, Theodred. Meet your mother."

Her son immediately ran towards them and engulfed her in an embrace that broke her heart all over again. Chloe brushed the boy's hair away from his face, and then revealed a nice surprise. "He's got your ears!" she cried.

"He's too much like me," Legolas expressed. "I had despaired about it for the entire time you were gone."

"Three years of my life," Chloe offered. "It was nothing to an Elf."

"'Twas longer to me than my three thousand years."

So early in the reunion, a dark shadow passed over her eyes. "It only reminds me that I shall die and you and my son will not."

Legolas took her hand and pressed a kiss in her palm. "Our son's will is his own. I will live with you in Ithilien for as long as you shall have me. Then after that, I shall pass the Sea."

Chloe stared into her son's eyes, and kissed Theodred's pink cheeks. She had so long to make up for.

"I shall cross again when your soul whispers to me. I will find your every lifetime."

"It will drive you crazy," she protested.

"My fate is with you, Chloe. If I cannot find you again in life, then our souls shall rest entwined in the Halls of Mandos."

"If it's true that a Mortal was given Death as a gift, so that she can live again, you will come to me a stranger. How will I know?"

"You, melethen, shall know the moment you look into my eyes and your heart rebels... because that is just the way we are."

The words brought a smile to her lips. "You're right. It can't be easy, can it?"

"Easy is for those whose love is less than this. No, Chloe. It can't be easy."

Chloe stood, carefully assisted by Legolas. She bent to take her son up into her arms. "I don't know if I can survive another chase with you," she said. "Right now, we live this life."

Legolas nodded and stood beside her. He whistled sharply, and a white mare galloped onto the bank. "There are more than enough adventures in this one," he whispered into her ear as he lifted her onto the horse. "Melethen."

This is not the end of their story... Just as they promised.

Ah, but this fic is another matter.

Thank you for witnessing this tale with me.