I really shouldn't bother with my excuses; they aren't acceptable to me anymore. But I want you all to know that I'm really, really sorry for the lack of updates, and the lack of good chapters.

Technically, I could end the story with this chapter. But it would seem empty, with and unfinished feeling, and lacking a good ending you all have been waiting for.

Unfortunately for now, this is all I have. I really am sorry.

Disclaimer: See Prologue. All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 43

Because I Love You

"Asca Arodwen! You cannot be late!" Estë scolded, as Arodwen hurried over to her and allowed a shimmery silver velvet cloak to be set upon her shoulders. Estë looked the 'princess' up and down, smiling with approval. The beautiful ivory-white dress was elaborately embroidered with rhinestones and tiny pearls. The gown hung off her shoulders and had a half-moon cut neckline, flowing sleeves, and a small train. (Hurry!)

"Where is it we go to again?" Arodwen asked, clipping shut the intricate silver clasp of the cloak.

"The last ship from middle-earth has arrived, and we must be there to greet them. It is simply tradition," Irmo said, smiling as he walked fluidly over to his wife and tucked her arm in his. Estë grinned at him.

"There are people aboard that you know Arodwen. Lords Elrond and Celeborn, the Lady Galadriel, Gandalf the White..." Estë commented as they began to walk down toward the beaches, and the port.

Arodwen suddenly stopped stark still in her tracks, her breath coming sharply, and her hands clenching into fists. Her eyes were wide as she stared straight ahead. Estë and Irmo turned to her with concern, when she gasped out, "Legolas is on that ship...isn't he?"

Irmo and Estë shared a mutual look of worry, and then both looked back at their charge with growing concern. "Yes, Arodwen, he will," Estë said slowly, reaching out to take one of Arodwen's hands in her own.

Arodwen backpedaled, nearly tripping over her gown in her haste. "No! I won't go!" she cried, "You cannot force me! I will not go near him again!" Turning to sprint back to the gardens of Lòrien, she collided with a very solid body, and bounced off, falling to the ground.

But strong unfamiliar arms gripped her own, standing her back on her feet. She cracked an eye open she had sealed shut when she began to feel herself fall.

There, before her very eyes, smiling down at her with a look of the utmost love and care was...


Aüle continued to grin down at his daughter who he had not seen for thousands of years... He couldn't believe how much she'd changed... How beautiful she had grown to be...

"Cormamin lindua ele lle, iell nin," he said gently, reaching out to tuck a stray lock of dark gold hair behind a delicately pointed ear. He watched her dazed expression with the same cherishing smile. (My heart sings to see thee, my daughter)

Then, Arodwen beamed up at him, and did the last thing he expected her to do; she threw her arms around him in an embrace only a daughter could give a father.

Estë and Irmo had very rarely heard humor, happiness, joy, relief, or the like from Aüle. And they were both shocked at the light-hearted, booming laughter that came from the Valar lord as he hugged his daughter tightly, and even spun her around in his arms.

She was so overwhelmed with her joy, she noticed neither the tears of happiness that ran down her cheeks, nor the person who had come up to the elated pair.

"And what of me? Do I not also receive such a greeting, dear Arodwen?"

Arodwen whirled around at the sound of the warm voice, her eyes wide and bright with anxiousness. "Nana!" she exclaimed loudly, nearly wounding the ears of the elves around her. (mom/mommy)

The tall golden-haired beauty clad elegantly in shades of green caught her daughter as she flung herself into her mother's arms. Silvery laughter could be heard from the pale lips of Yavanna, embracing her daughter close, and then showering her forehead with kisses. "Oh my daughter... How I missed you!" Like her daughter, her eyes sparkled with tears of relief, and great delight at the reunion.

Arodwen held tight to her mother like a child, weeping all her sorrows, fears, and troubles into the warm green silk. Her father enfolded them both in his long strong arms, his face buried in his wife's gilded hair, as if to hide the tears he shed.

No father could ask for more.

Legolas descended the ship with lowered eyes. Once his bare feet touched the warm sand of the shore, he felt the essence of Valinor engulf him; its magic trying to bring comfort and contentedness into his fading heart. But Legolas shunned the warm presence, sinking deeper into his grieving state.

Thranduil, a mere step behind his son, noticed the absence of change in him. Concernedly, he reached out and gripped the prince's shoulder, unnerved to feel his son tense under his fatherly touch.

Legolas lightly removed his father's hand, and kept walking, not knowing where he was going. Nor did he seem to care.

Thranduil watched him walk away with grief filling his heart. The great king sighed deeply, and bowed his head at a loss of what to do next.

"He needs to see her again, hir nin," a soft, yet commanding voice told him.

He felt a small hand rest hesitantly on his shoulder in comfort, and he turned his head to see Mariel giving him an encouraging smile. "Not all hope is lost. He just cannot see it like we do."

Thranduil nodded at her words, and reached up to grip the warm and consoling hand of his son's keeper. "Hannon lle, Mariel. What would we do without you?"

Mariel laughed lightly under her breath, "I do not want to think of the state you would be in had I not been alive to help raise your son."

Legolas watched the waves crash upon the rocks and boulders that stood before him. The spray of the sea fell upon his face, and should have filled him with the relief of at last being on the shores of Valinor. But his heart still yearned for what his arms did not yet hold.

She hates me...

His eyes, once the most intense, deep sapphire blue, now watched the sunset as a pale blue-grey. He knew his father worried greatly for his health, but there was naught for it. He would not choose life if it meant this eternal suffering of seeing her eyes gleam with contempt and hatred every time they would be caught in each-others gaze. It would kill him.

"You cannot hope to win her favor by standing here sulking, little prince," a light whimsical voice admonished him.

The Mirkwood Prince slowly turned to look at the woman who addressed him so lightly, and was slightly stunned to see the Mother of the Earth gliding toward him over the sand. His heart burned with grief as he saw the mother of his beloved; a painful reminder.

"Why do you mock my pain, Lady Yavanna?" he asked, looking back to the sea.

With a bite of ire in her voice, she answered, "I do nothing of the sort, young one."

"Then will you not help me? Is there nothing you can do to make her remember the way things truly were?" Legolas faced her, and Yavanna could see the grief burning in his hard eyes. The mask of anger he pulled over his facade did not fool her in the least. She saw how helpless and defeated he really was.

And the answer she had for him would not help in the least.

"Legolas, she does remember. Irmo has been giving her dreams of memories the two of you shared together. But she will not believe it. No one can force her to love you, Legolas, and nor can anyone make her believe what she does not wish to. There is a reason why 'free will' is called such." She watched as the prince looked away, his gaze falling to the fine granules of sand in which he would find no comfort or answers.

Yavanna smiled, and rested a pale hand on Legolas's shoulder, under which he stiffened. "You will simply have to woo her all over again, young one. Is that really so hard a thing?"

Legolas carefully stepped away from the Valar Queen's touch, and his cold voice answered, "It is impossible to woo someone who curses your name and would flee in fear at the very sight of you."

"But you have not yet tried. Did she not spurn your presence before? And did you not win her love for you back again?" She questioned him, knowing of how her daughter had claimed that her love for the prince was forfeit once, and did not speak a word to him from Mirkwood to Rivendell.

Legolas did not answer her, continuing to glare at the sand.

Yavanna sighed deeply, stepping away from him. "I can see I will not convince you to go to her... I shall have her come to you then."

Legolas spun 'round to stare at her in disbelief, then found himself openly gaping at the sight before him.

There she stood, garbed in the gown of an angel, and with the ethereal presence of one as well. Her honey-gold locks shone bright in the glow of the dying sun. He could not read the expression on her face; but it wasn't a sneer of disgust.

Yavanna went to her daughter, and gently gripped her hands with her own, smiling brightly. Arodwen looked up at her, with a questioning glance.

"Why did you ask me to come here, atara?" Now, she would not meet the prince's gaze. She feared to meet those eyes that had haunted her dreams.

The Mother of the Earth softly tugged Arodwen forward, toward the immobile ellon. "The prince has been waiting a very long time to see you again, iell. Will you not speak with him a while?"

"Arodwen..." Legolas whispered, his voice betraying the longing and love it held.

He took a small step toward the one he cared for so deeply, and felt his heart clench in grief as she matched his step for three; away from him.

But Yavanna wasn't about to let her daughter run away from the issue. She gripped Arodwen's arm firmly, and tugged her back to stand beside her. "By Eru Arodwen! The elf has no weapons of any kind, nor would he ever think to harm you even if he did! Are your eyes blind? Your ears deaf? Did you not hear him speak your name with such yearning? Can you not see the unwavering love for you in his eyes?"

"I see nothing!" Arodwen shouted, attempting to free her arm from her mother's vice-like grip. She had yet to meet the eyes of the prince...

Lady Yavanna was much stronger than she looked, for she all but dragged Arodwen in front of Legolas, looking as though it cost her no effort whatsoever.

Arodwen tried to run, but her attempts were useless. Her mother held her right in front of the prince whom she feared, and forced her to look into his eyes.

Legolas gazed into the hazel brown depths he had longed to behold again for an eternity. He didn't noticed that she'd stopped struggling... Nor did Arodwen herself for that matter.

As she continued to look into his eyes, she saw all that he had been through... Saw his memories of trial, fulfilment, pain, and love. She saw herself reflected in those changing eyes... The future he hoped to share with her... if only she'd give him the chance.

Involuntarily, Legolas reached out a hand to her, and laid it with gentle tenderness upon her cheek.

It was Arodwen, who spoke first. "Why does your face haunt my dreams? I see myself with you in them always... You look at me in them, the same way you do now. Why?"

"Because I love you."