Dúvainiel's mind slowly became aware that she was laying on a soft surface that was quite comfortable. She would have been content to lay there with her eyes shut, were it not for the throbbing pain in her leg. Her brows furrowed in pain and she moaned as she shifted.
She opened her eyes slowly.
"Legolas?" she asked, confused. Hadn't she just been with her brothers? The ellon helped her sit up and then handed her a glass of water. She took it gratefully, and he sat on the bed next to her. "What happened?"
"You're leg was struck by an orc," he replied. Her brows furrowed again, this time in confusion. She closed her eyes, the image of Haldir, Orophin, Rumil, and the horses still fresh in her mind.
"It was just a dream," she murmured.
"What?" Legolas asked.
"I was having a dream," she explained. "About my brothers, and the day they first tried to teach me how to ride a horse."
She closed her eyes in pain, this time because she was feeling Haldir's loss again. The dream had felt so real. She had honestly felt that she was going to wake up and see the three of her older siblings fussing over her.
"Where are we, Legolas?" she asked, as she looked around the room for the first time since opening her eyes.
"And the Ring?"
"Destroyed," he said with a grin. Dúvainiel hoped that it had been in time to save Evenstar.
"Elessar?" she asked.
"Frodo and Sam?"
"Miraculously, they will both pull through. Dehydrated and exhausted, but they are survivors of this war." He put an arm around her and pulled her close to him. She sighed.
"My leg," she said.
"Yes, I can imagine it's quite painful. The cut was nearly to the bone," he told her. "It will take some time to heal completely."
"Where is Mithrandir?" she asked.
"He's watching over Frodo."
She closed her eyes briefly, thinking of the battle. Her eyes snapped open and she looked at Legolas, "Eomer?"
"He found you," Legolas replied. "He was nearly frantic when he saw you falter."
Dúvainiel's brows furrowed yet again. "Why?"
Legolas grinned, "I think he wanted to be able to say 'I told you so'."
Dúvainiel rolled her eyes in response, just as there was a knock at the door. Legolas rose from the bed to answer.
"Oh, Legolas," she heard a familiar voice when the door was opened. "How is the wee lass?"
Dúvainiel grinned at the Dwarf's words. "Better, Gimli. Come in."
Gimli leaned his body to look around Legolas, and smiled slightly at the sight of the elleth sitting up in the bed. Legolas moved so that he could enter the room, and Dúvainiel was amused to see he carried a handful of flowers.
"You gave us quite a scare," he said as he walked to the bed and handed her the flowers. She took them with a smile.
"Thank you, Gimli," she said. "My leg still hurts quite a bit, but it will be better in a few days."
The two Elves and the Dwarf talked for hours after that. They spoke of the War and all that had been lost and plans for the future. The three of them were grateful that they had a future to plan. After a while, Dúvainiel became tired, and Gimli and Legolas left her to rest.
The pattern of Legolas and Gimli keeping her company continued until she was well enough to be up and around. Once that happened, she then began to help in the planning of the coronation ceremony.
The day of the coronation arrived and everyone was nervous. Dúvainiel was grateful that it was finally here. That morning, she sat at a table, dressed and brushing her long hair out and thinking of her future. Once the coronation was over, she and Legolas would be leaving Minas Tirith and Gondor- at least temporarily. The King had asked Legolas to stay in Gondor to help him rebuild, but Legolas wasn't ready to settle down just yet. He and Dúvainiel had decided that they would accompany Gimili back to Rohan, back to the Crystal Caves at Helm's Deep, where they would leave him and head back to Lothlorien, and then Mirkwood. Although they had bonded some months before, there had been no ceremony, and Legolas was sure his father would want one for the prince. Thinking of a ceremony for herself and Legolas made her think of Evenstar. After the destruction of the Ring, everyone had waited anxiously for news from Imladris, only to be met with silence. She was thinking about her kin in the Woods and the other Elven realms when there was a knock at her door.
"Come in," she said as she set the brush down.
The door opened, and Legolas walked in. He wore a silver tunic, embroidered by the Elves of Mirkwood. Pinned near the top was a silver emblem of his homeland. She noticed he also wore his slender cirlet, a symbol of his status as a prince among Elves.
"Good morning, Dúvainiel," he said.
"Good morning," she said as she rose from the chair and walked over to him. She looked lovingly into his face and then brushed a stray lock of blonde hair away from his face, then leaned up to kiss his lips softly. He put his hands on her ears and returned the kiss.
"You look beautiful," he said when he pulled away.
"Thank you. You look very princely yourself," she teased.
He walked over to the table, where she had set her own circlet, and he picked it up and turned to her. She smiled at him as he placed it on her head and brushed her hair aside with his fingers.
"My lady," he whispered, then leaned down to her and kissed her softly. "I have a surprise for you."
She cocked her head to the side and looked at him questioningly. He didn't say anything, but took her hand instead and led her from the room.
"Legolas!" she giggled as he pulled her along.
"It's a secret," came his reply as he led her down a level of the city through the crowds that were headed up to where the coronation would be held in the courtyard. Finally, Legolas led her inside one of the buildings. She was shocked to see the large group of Elves inside.
"Dúvainiel!" she heard a familiar voice call her name. Working her way through the crowd of her kin, was Evenstar.
"Arwen!" Dúvainiel rushed forward and hugged the elleth fiercely. "I'm so glad to see you! And you look so beautiful!"
Arwen was dressed for the coronation, and looked more regal than Dúvainiel had ever seen her. The soft green dress brought out the blue in her eyes, and the intricate circlet crowning her head accentuated her elven ears.
"I've brought you a gift," Arwen said, taking Dúvainiel's hands and leading her towards the back of the room. Setting on a table, were many packages, some small, some larger. Arwen picked up a smaller one and handed it to Dúvainiel. Dúvainiel looked at the package, trying to guess what was inside. "It's from my grandmother."
Dúvainiel's eyes snapped back to her friend's face. "You've been to Lothlorien?" she asked. "Did you see Rumil and Orophin? How are they? How are the Golden Woods?"
Arwen laughed softly, "Your brothers are well. They worry for you, though. Knowing how close you were to Haldir…" Her voice trailed off.
"It was a near thing. If it had not been for Legolas, I would have been lost."
"Did you know," Arwen said softly, "my grandmother once tried to get me to fall in love with Haldir?"
"What?" Dúvainiel giggled.
"Yes," the older elleth replied. "Once, when I was in Lothlorien. It was a very long time ago, before you were born. She thought we would make a good match."
Dúvainiel giggled louder.
"Of course, he was so insufferably arrogant…" Arwen finished, causing Dúvainiel to then laugh so hard, tears fell from her eyes.
When she finally could catch her breath, she proudly said, "That he was."
Both elleths sighed and held far away looks as they both thought of the Marchwarden of the Golden Wood.
"Well, I guess I better open this," Dúvainiel said to break the uncomfortable silence that had fallen between them. She opened the package gently, and a piece of folded parchment fell out and revealed a soft, golden cloth underneath. Dúvainiel gasped at the beauty, as she pulled it out. It was a dress. Cut in the style of a formal dress befitting a lady of Lothlorien, it was simple, yet elegant. The gold fabric was muted, rather than flashy, and the bodice and sleeves were embroidered with green mallorn leaves trimmed in a deeper gold. It was clear that Lady Galadriel was telling her that she would stand at the coronation as the representative from Lothlorien.
As she looked at the gown, Arwen leaned over and picked up the parchment and then handed it to her. She took it with a smile, laid the dress over her arm, and opened the paper.
Rumil and I hope this letter finds you well. When word reached us of Haldir's death, we were quite concerned for your well being. Lady Galadriel insisted that you were fine. The weight of the loss of the Elves has weighed heavily on her shoulders.
We've had some problems with Orcs near the border, and I sadly pass on the news that a great deal of our Golden Wood was lost in the North. Between the Elves leaving for the West and those lost to the War, there are few that remain to protect Lothlorien. Even the trees seem to be mourning. Rumil and I hope that, following your return home, we might join those leaving for Valinor.
We look forward to your return.
Your loving brother, Orophin
Dúvainiel looked up to see Arwen giving her a concerned look. "How bad is it?" she asked.
Arwen sighed and looked away.
"Arwen, how bad is it?"
Their eyes met and Dúvainiel was taken back to the Golden Wood through Arwen's eyes. Dúvainiel felt like her heart stopped beating at that moment. Her beautiful woods, burned. It was just another reminder of how much had been lost in this war.
"I should have stayed home," Dúvainiel whispered.
"Dúvainiel…" Arwen started.
"No," she said forcefully. "I was needed there."
Arwen put a hand on her shoulder, "You couldn't have stopped it, Dúvainiel. Saruman took advantage of the fact that so many Elves left the Woods to help at Helm's Deep. You likely would have been gone anyways."
Dúvainiel sighed, knowing Arwen was right.
"Come on, Dúvainiel. This is a happy day. Let's not think of unhappy things today. Change into your dress."
Dúvainiel gave the other elleth a small smile, and shook her head. There would be time later to dwell on the unhappiness of the loss of the trees, but right now, there was nothing she could do about it. She pushed the sad thoughts to the back of her mind as she allowed Arwen to lead her to a room to change. She looked back at Legolas just before leaving the room. He was deep into a conversation with Elrond and another blonde Elf that Dúvainiel didn't know. She smiled at his look of concentration and then entered the room Arwen had led her to. She quickly changed gowns, and Arwen helped her fix her hair and circlet before they returned to the group of Elves waiting for the coronation to start.
She wondered through the group of Elves, mostly from Rivendell, though she met a few who had come from Mirkwood to escort the prince home.
"What is this?" a voice asked from behind her. She turned to see Legolas looking at her in wonder. "Surely I've been bewitched. What do you think, Silinde?" He turned to the Elf standing with him. "Is this not the most beautiful creature you have ever held your eyes on?"
"Your Highness is too kind," Dúvainiel said with a curtsy to the prince.
He held up his hand to her, "Now, now heryn vuin, none of that." She grinned at his words as his companion raised an eyebrow. "Silinde, may I present Lady Dúvainiel, of Lothlorien?"
"My lady," Silinde said with a slight bow. "Rhau vain gîn palan-híla"
Dúvainiel blushed at the ellon's words and gave a small curtsy, "Ni meren gen govaded, Silinde."
"Legolas tells me that you will be returning to Mirkwood with us," Silinde said.
"Yes, I will."
"It will be my pleasure to escort you, my lady." He bowed again to her and then Legolas, "If you would excuse me."
"Nan lû, Silinde," Legolas said to his friend. He turned back to Dúvainiel and took her hands into his. "Ce bain, Dúvainiel." He leaned in and kissed her softly, ending only when someone near the door announced that it was time for the group to head to the court yard.
They held hands as they followed their kin. Arwen carried a banner adorned with the White Tree. King Elessar, as he would be named, would be so surprised to see his beloved.
The celebration continued long into the night. The drinking, the dancing, and Mithrandir's fireworks and just the peace of the evening kept everyone in high spirits. Elessar and Evenstar had disappeared into the citadel hours before Dúvainiel finally decided that she was ready for rest. Tomorrow they would begin their new adventure together, her and Legolas. She was excited to see her home again, however brief the visit would be, and she was nervous about going to Mirkwood and seeing Legolas' home and meeting his father. She lay on the bed looking out at the stars and every once in a while, a firework came into her line of vision. She reflected on her journey so far, from the day the Fellowship had entered the Golden Woods, and all the other events that led up to today's celebration. Now that Sauron was gone, she wondered what the future would hold. With peace settling over Middle Earth and most Elves sailing for Valinor, she thought her days as a warrior might be over. The thought made her happy and sad at the same time. She was ready now- ready to be a lady, ready to step into the role of wife and companion and perhaps someday, mother. The door to her room opened and closed quietly, and a moment later, the bed shifted as Legolas joined her. She smiled in contentment as he wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her ear. Who knew what the future would hold for them.
A/N- So now we are at the end of the story. BONUS POINTS if you caught the line Orlando was disappointed about being cut from the movie. BONUS POINTS if you caught the line Viggo wanted Aragorn to say that was in the book and not the movie. BONUS POINTS if you caught the William Wallace reference.
I've left it open to do a sequel, but it really depends on the feedback that I get. I really loved doing this story and I am so proud of myself, because it is the first one I've ever actually finished. I wish I could draw halfway decent, because I would love to draw some of the scenes and clothing that I visualized as I was writing. I hope my descriptions were enough to help you see what I saw in my mind. As always with my stories, this will go through a ton of revisions. Whenever I write, every time I read it, I find errors or little things I was to change, and I will do that with this. If you read through the whole thing as I updated, you might want to go back, because I did some revisions to every chapter before adding this final chapter.
The Lord of the Rings DVDs, regular AND extended editions (yes, I own both)
Bonus DVDs from the regular editions & 6 Appendices disks from the extended
A Guide to Tolkien by David Day
Several websites, which I will list with this story on my fan page when I finally get it up on the fan page.