Chapter 16

Finally and Completely.

Elrond returned that next morning with the good news that Mornaeg's orcs had scattered to the four winds, and every trace of Bengwiil left in that camp had been destroyed. The elves were freed and Elladan, Elrohir and Edren had returned with hardly a scratch on them. No one really could get a straight answer as to where Daurrè and Átniir were, but with Elladan and Elrohir's jibes about "enjoying a midnight stroll in the flower gardens" and "having a picnic and tea in the woods, I expect…" The most lucid response was a hint from Elrond that Aragorn's room in Rivendell was being borrowed for a short time.

Legolas and Aragorn both woke up with splitting headaches. Aragorn claimed he hadn't felt that dreadful since the last time he'd been to some pub called The Prancing Pony, and Legolas said that was why he never drank much ale.

The morning was a good one. Quiet, but good. Legolas didn't feel like talking much for a little while, except to Aragorn, and even then it was little comments like, "Let's have a walk" or "Pass the bread, will you?" but Aragorn suspected he was going to be all right.

A general feeling of relief had swept the Halls. Thranduil had not yet decided how best to handle Mornaeg's death and burial, though he expected he wouldn't tell Legolas his decision, what ever it was. As far as he was concerned, Legolas had all ready said his proper goodbyes to Mornaeg years ago.

With the afternoon came a difficult task; Legolas had agreed to show Edren to his room again, if he was ready, which Edren said he was. Legolas' heart pounded in his chest all the way through dinner. He had not seen Thernad since returning to the Halls, but he was not looking forward to having to see her and Edren's reunion. He could not even imagine what it must be like to have your own husband utterly forget you.

His knuckles rapped their door, and Aragorn answered it. "Did you tell her?"

Aragorn nodded. "She actually all ready knew. I guess your father told her."

Legolas shrugged in reply. "I suppose that makes sense." He turned to Edren. "Ready?"

Edren looked blankly ahead, trying to collect himself. "And…her name is Nithelian. That right, Nithelian?" Legolas smiled and gave his shoulder an encouraging squeeze, ignoring Aragorn's quizzical looks.

"You'll be okay, Edren." Edren inhaled deeply, then nodded. "All right, here we go." Aragorn pulled the door open, and the two walked in.

Thernad was standing in the living room in a long, lavender dress with flowing sleeves. She smiled when she saw Edren. Legolas felt she was trying not to look overly eager, bless her heart. "Hello, Edren."

Edren stopped halfway across the floor, staring back at her. "Nithel…" he looked suddenly confused. "Legolas, you said this lady's name is Nithelian?" Thernad, too, looked confused. A hint of a smile touched the corner of Leoglas' lips.

"Is there something wrong, Edren?"

"No…No, I just- I don't think that's her name…"

Legolas tried not to sound too hopeful. "Oh?"

"No, her name…There- Tera…no, it's…" he walked towards her, hands outstretched. Thernad reached quickly forward and took his hands in hers. He watched as their fingers interlaced. And then something clicked in his eyes. "Thernad."

"What?" Thernad leaned towards him, her breath held.

"Thernad." He looked up at her, and there were tears in his eyes. "Thernad- Thernad…I knew it, I know…I think…"

"Woah, easy, easy-" Legolas rushed forward as his friend began to topple, but Thernad caught him under the elbows, steadying him.

"Edren? Darling, what's wrong?"

He gripped at her sleeves, pressing the side of his face to her shoulder, inhaling deeply. "Thernad…Thernad." He looked up, meeting her gaze finally. "It's me, Thernad, it's me…I promise."

"Edren?"

"I'm back, I remember it I remember everything, I-" he was almost panicking, he was so excited, and Thernad was crying softly.

"Edren, I love you."

"Oh- oh, Thernad." He pulled her close, kissed her, hugged her, and kissed her again. "I'm sorry, I don't know how it all happened, I- I missed you, I know that, somehow…I missed you so much." It was a long time before Edren opened his eyes again, and he looked over Thernad's shoulder to see Legolas standing there. Thank you, he mouthed.

Welcome back, Legolas replied.

"Well," Aragorn said quietly, "you were hoping something would spark his memory." Legolas smiled back, nodding, unable to take his eyes of Edren and Thernad.

"I forgot how much I missed him till now." He pressed his palms to his eyes, and Aragorn let him have his silent cry, though he had to admit to himself…it was good to see the prince crying for joy for once in a long, long time.

"I'm so glad that he's back," he said after a moment, putting a hand on Legolas' shoulder.

The elf nodded, looking back at him. "And now it's over, Aragorn. All Mornaeg's evil, it's…now that Edren's back, it's-" His breath hitched, and he cleared his throat, swallowing the emotions inside him. "It's all gone."

"Finally and completely."

Again, Legolas nodded, and the tense muscle between his shoulders relaxed. Everything about him seemed to calm. Finally. Completely.

Aragorn was quiet a moment. Then something occurred to him. "Nithelian, Legolas?"

Legolas laughed, brushing his hands across his face again, clearing the rest of the tears. "It was the first thing that popped into my head."

"Anyone you know?"

"A young elf I once knew. She used to pick on me because I was born before her but she was taller." Aragorn smirked. "Oh hush." Legolas nudged him in the shoulder, and looked back at Edren. Smiling, the two left the room, quietly shutting the door.

- - - - -

The sun had gone down, the stars were out, and in the forest below was a very strange sight: An elf and a human sprawled on the mossy ground, staring at the dark sky, weaponless.

"We should do this more often, Estel."

"Hmn. Your father is going to kill us."

"Why?"

"Because, we're in the middle of the forest in the middle of the night and we're completely unarmed. Don't you think that will bother him rather somewhat?"

Legolas snickered, and flicked Aragorn on the shoulder. "That's the idea, I told you that."

"Feeling suicidal tonight are we?"

"Not really, just…invincible." His voice became serious then, and he shifted his position with a sigh that said he was thinking. "Do you realize, Estel, that we really ought to have died tonight? And last night? And perhaps the night before and several days before that? I mean…honestly, we really shouldn't be here now."

Aragorn shook his head. "I know it. Though- I keep thinking about what Mornaeg said. I mean, Legolas, it's really not possible to live by will alone. Mornaeg was right when he said that if you shoot a man in the heart he dies. It doesn't matter if he's in love, he cannot live with an arrow in his chest. I denied it, but…I think that's just because I didn't want to believe him." He tipped his head back so he could meet Legolas' eyes a moment. "I just wanted to believe you were all right, and it made me irrational, I guess." He looked back up at the stars. "Now I'm not sure what I think."

Legolas was quiet a moment, pondering that. "But you were right, Aragorn. I mean, I was all right, and you knew it. Do you- do you suppose that with our friendship has come a certain…power?" Aragorn was silent, but his skepticism was apparent. "Well, I don't know, maybe not a power. But there's an element inconsistent with logic between us, you have to admit. Somehow you died without dying, I survived being burned alive by sheer willpower and the both of us pulled through despite being poisoned more times than I can even count anymore."

When Aragorn finally spoke again, his voice was smirking. "What's wrong with us, anyway?"

Legolas laughed under his breath and rubbed his eyes with his palm, groaning. "I have no idea."

"Luck, I guess."

"Maybe."

"Maybe not."

"Mhmn, maybe not…"

"…Legolas?"

"Yes?"

"Do you really think we're invisible?"

"What do you think?"

Pause. "I…tend to doubt it."

Legolas laughed. "Me too."

"I guess it just wasn't our time."

"I guess not." Legolas rolled onto his side, facing Aragorn. "Why do you suppose that is? Does this mean we're meant to do something incredible?"

"Maybe." Aragorn rolled over as well, and the two stared at each other a long moment. "I think…maybe I can't go until you don't need me."

They both looked up at the stars again. "Same here."

"Legolas?"

"Hmn?"

"You know…you'll always be my friend."

"Isten."

He shifted again, glancing over at the elf. "Iston?"

"No, isten." Legolas smiled. "I think I always knew that, Estel."

"I know. But the next time someone, someone like Mornaeg, tries to tell you any different, you can say, 'no, because one night under the stars, Aragorn swore he would always be my friend'." He shrugged. "More simple this way."

Legolas seemed to like that idea. "Thank you, mellon-nin."

"Ea le govonnen."

The night sounds filled up the spaces of silence between them, but the air was heavy with Legolas wanting to speak. Aragorn waited patiently.

"…Estel?"

"Hmn?"

"You'll always be my friend."

He smiled and closed his eyes. "Isten."

As the stars brightened, the sky darkened, and the forest became alive with its nocturnal inhabitants, a hawk rested on the highest branch of a sycamore. His gold eyes stared into the undergrowth below and then he heard a sound alien to the natural noises of the late hours. Diving to a lower branch, he cocked his head towards the noise.

"The Road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began-"

"You are off-key."

"You're off-key, I'm harmonizing."

"But you're doing it wrong."

"Now far ahead the Road is-"

"Are you ignoring me?"

"GONE- yes, as a matter of fact -and I must follow-"

"All right, have it your way."

"…if I can."

"If I can."

And through the whole night, not a creature disturbed the sleeping companions.

Maybe it was luck.

But maybe not.

The End

Namarie, mates. It's been real fun. :)