A/N: So, here is the last chapter/Epiloge to this story. I thank you all for the reviews and the support. Without you, I would never have written this story. •bows head before you all•.
Chapter 10: Epilogue
They crossed the Anduin at the Old Ford a day later, followed the Old Forrest Road for a short while before they turned North. Upon an unspoken agreement, none of them ever mentioned the dark forest and the orcs, and had it not been for Aragorn's injuries, it could all have been a very bad dream.
Aragorn rode in front of Legolas, sleeping most of the time during the first few days. The blood loss was affecting him more than the broken ribs or dislodged limbs. The first day after the rescue, Legolas feared that Aragorn would die from the trauma after all, but the young ranger pulled through this newest horrible experience with surprising resilence. After he had drunken a cup of warm stew and downed half a cup of the elvish miruvor, his face had gotten back some color and his constant shivering had stopped. Now, four days after the incident, he had recovered enough to keep awake for a few hours at least.
Sitting in front of Legolas and leaning back against the strong chest, wrapped securely in a thick cloak, Aragorn let his thoughts wander freely. He was more dozing than actually awake, but he did not mind. His ribs hurt with every step the horse took, although he knew that Legolas rode slowly and tried to pick an easy route. His arm was still bound tightly to his chest and his leg hurt immensely, which threw him off balance and forced Legolas to hold him even more tightly. Not that Aragorn would complain…
From the warm sunlight on his face, Aragorn deemed that it was late afternoon. The grassy plains around him smelled of autumn, of fouling leaves and wet moss, while the birds sung overhead of the approaching winter. Indeed, had it not been for the pain he was feeling, he would have found the circumstances almost perfect. For a few more minutes he just sat there, secure in Legolas's arms, but then the pain in his body became too intense. Without opening his eyes, Aragorn said softly, "Tell me about your home, Legolas. Tell me about Mirkwood."
To his surprise, Legolas stopped his horse. When the elf spoke, Aragorn could hear the smile and the pride in his voice, "Just open your eyes, Estel, and see for yourself."
Aragorn blinked his eyes open, staring straight ahead. The last time he had looked around, they had travelled over grassy plains and the forest of Mirkwood had only been a shadow at the horizon. What he now saw, took his breath away.
Before him, as far as the eye could see, high trees could be seen. They were so high that Aragorn had to tilt his head backwards to see the tree tops. He saw brown and green and yellow and red and grey! So many colors that he simply knew that he did not know all their names. Birds sat in the branches, one stranger than the other, their songs mysterious and familiar at the same time. Bushes and flowers grew between the mighty tree trunks, lichens and moss covered the trees, and air roots hung down to the ground. And while Aragorn could see the first trees perfectly well, his eyes could not penetrate the tree line. It was as if the forest was not revealing its secrets to one who stood outside. One needed to enter to open the treasure box and see all that Mirkwood had to offer.
Suddenly, Legolas's mouth was at his ear, "Welcome to Mirkwood, Estel." And he kissed Aragorn sweetly on the cheek, too quick for anyone to see.
•sigh• This was the end of this series. Yes, sad but true. But don't worry, the next story is already in the making, and I will post the next story next week. I haven't decided on a name yet, but you can find it under my account, as usual. It will give you answers to the questions, such as:
Will they find out that Lithdal was the one who rescued Aragorn? •gasp• Will Aragorn tell Legolas that he ate the berries? •bites nails• What will Mirkwood be like? •think think• And what will King Thranduil say to their relationship? •uh oh•
Stay tuned and find out in the next installment. Until then, farewell! •waves happily•