Author's Note: This is the last chapter. Thank you all for reading and reviewing this story. I hope you enjoyed it.
Dusk shadowed the land when Lyla, Glorfindel, and Diane arrived in Valinor. Having spent three days in America, they had tied up a few loose ends and brought her mother to live in Valinor permanently.
Lyla sighed. The only person they had seen while in Colorado was Will, not wanting to damage their cover story about working in Peru. Although she could open the portal at will, it was difficult to know when or if they would visit again. The vortex felt different this time: weaker, less stable. Was the instability a result of her still learning to control her new powers, or would the portal soon collapse? She didn't want to take the chance of being trapped in America without her family.
An amused smile crossed her face as she thought about Will's reaction to the Elven greatsword Glorfindel gave him. He grinned like an excited child, as though Christmas, his birthday, and every other holiday occurred at once. They left gifts with him for Estella, the Martins, and Kendra and Nick, asking him to tell everyone they had arrived in a big box from Peru.
"It's so beautiful here," Diane said.
"Yes," Glorfindel agreed, his arms around Lyla's waist. "The land is still healing, but it won't be long until it returns to its full glory."
"You can show me around tomorrow. Right now I want to see my granddaughter and the rest of our family. What exactly did you tell them?"
"That we were going on a camping trip for a few days," Lyla said. "We thought it would be fun to surprise them."
"Surprise? I think shock is more accurate," Glorfindel said.
"Well, let's go. Don't make an old lady wait."
"You're not old," Lyla said.
Diane grinned. "I suppose not compared to everyone around here. But I'm still independent, so I insist you find me my own place. I have no intention of depriving my daughter and son-in-law of their privacy for more than a few days."
Glorfindel's arms tightened around her, and Lyla chuckled. "Yes, ma'am."
They headed for Meredith and Gilorn's. Upon reaching the house, Lyla motioned for her mother to wait outside.
Squeezing Glorfindel's hand, Lyla opened the door. "Hello? Anyone home?"
Meredith hurried into the hall. "You're back!" She embraced Lyla then Glorfindel. "Did you have a good time?"
"Elhael, Caleniel, Celin, and James are here. You'll have to tell us all about it."
Lyla gave her daughter a mischievous smile. "Of course. And we brought back a gift, several actually, but this one is the most important."
Diane stepped inside. Meredith's jaw dropped, her eyes widening. She flew into Diane's arms. "Grandmother! You went to America? But how?"
Gilorn came around the corner. "Did you say—?" He froze when he saw Diane. "By Eru! Everyone, come quickly."
The others rushed in, all halting in shock. "How in the world?" Elhael asked.
Everyone crowded around and took turns hugging Diane.
"It's so wonderful that you're here," Caleniel said.
"We didn't think we would ever see you again," Gilorn said.
"You're stuck with me now," Diane said with a laugh. "I'm moving here permanently."
Elhael turned to Lyla. "How were you able to go back? James burned the spell books."
Lyla glanced at Glorfindel, who nodded reluctantly. She bit back a grin. He really had enjoyed keeping this secret from Elhael. But it was her own fault. She should have treated her husband as her confidante from the beginning.
"They were destroyed… sort of."
James arched a brow. "Sort of?"
Lyla sighed. Fortunately, they had told her mother about this in Colorado. Lyla hadn't thought it wise for Diane to learn about Deldhín's demise, her daughter's death, and her resurrection by way of Guldur Perf surrounded by a crowd of people.
"After I defeated Deldhín, right before I, um, died,"—she shuddered at the memory—"I cast a spell that bonded me with the books. In exchange for my life, I agreed to absorb the tomes' magic and knowledge. I didn't even know if it would work at the time. Turns out, it did."
Everyone except Glorfindel and Diane stared at her in stunned silence. After a moment, Elhael regained his voice, "So you-you have all of the books' power?"
Glorfindel slid a strong arm around her waist, relaxing her. "Yes. It's difficult to know exactly what all that entails, but when I want to do something, I just can. It's like the spells are part of me."
"What can you do?" Meredith asked, wide-eyed.
"I haven't done much experimenting. So far I've healed a few plants and opened the portal. I'm being very cautious."
"Do the Valar know?" Celin asked.
"No, and I'd like to keep it that way. I don't want anyone else to know, at least for now."
Glorfindel kissed her cheek. "I think we've earned the right to some privacy."
James nodded. "Yeah. You've sacrificed enough, kid. Besides, if anyone gets too pushy, tell them to piss off. Use those good, old American manners."
Lyla laughed. "I don't know if I'll use those exact words, but I'll definitely convey that message."
They went into the living room. After answering everyone's questions, Lyla and Glorfindel distributed the various gifts they had brought. While the others admired their presents, Lyla sat next to James on the couch and pulled a fitted, black leather jacket with a corseted back out of her bag.
"I brought this for Gwenél. It seemed appropriately badass. Do you think she'll like it?"
His cheeks reddened. "Um, I think so. It looks like her style."
Lyla tried not to smile. James and Gwenél had been dating for a few weeks now, and he always blushed whenever anyone mentioned it.
"I hope so. I thought she deserved something for hanging out with you. Poor girl."
James' eyes narrowed. He snatched a nearby pillow and smacked her with it. "Very funny."
"What? It's true. We're part of a very bizarre family. We have to pity anyone who considers joining it."
His face flamed red to the tips of his ears. "Oh my God. Someone kill me."
Lyla giggled. "What fun would that be?"
"I can honestly say I never imagined my great-granddaughter teasing me about my love life. Thanks for that, kid."
"You can cross that one off your bucket list, Gramps."
"What's a bucket list?" Meredith asked.
"It's a list many humans have of things they want to do before they die," Lyla explained.
"I can cross coming here off of mine," Diane said. "Which pleases me to no end."
Lyla reached over and squeezed her hand. "Us too, Mom."
Beside her on the couch, Glorfindel pulled Lyla against him, wrapping a possessive arm around her. "You will never need such a list because you're never leaving me again, my love," he whispered in her ear.
She smiled up at him. "Never, darling."
Elrond sauntered through the forest, his gaze fixed on the electronic tablet Lyla had brought for him from America. Although he didn't know how she accomplished that journey without the spell books, he thought it best not to press her for information. She deserved her privacy, his burning curiosity be damned.
He swiped a finger across the screen, frowning when an unfamiliar menu came up instead of the book he wanted. Lyla had instructed him on how to use the device, but it still confused him on occasion.
Distracted, he almost walked into an oak tree. He laughed softly. The tablet was going to result in an injury if he didn't pay more attention.
When he neared Glorfindel and Lyla's house, music wafted through the air. He listened for a moment to the instrumental song, intrigued by its fast beat and exciting tone.
Elrond entered the garden and stopped. Lyla appeared to be giving some sort of dance instruction to a group of Elves, Glorfindel assisting her as her partner. Meredith and Gilorn, Elhael and Caleniel, and James and Gwenél, along with Alphiel, Tatharion, Nethwen, and Hithaer, all attempted to replicate various steps and turns.
Transfixed, Elrond sat beside Lyla's mother on a bench. He had heard other Elves mention this activity in passing but hadn't really thought anything about it. Now he wondered if Celebrian might enjoy such an exercise.
Diane smiled at him. "Pretty cool, huh?"
She chuckled. "Interesting, fascinating, amazing."
"Oh, then yes. I've never seen anything like it."
"Lyla's been a dancer since she was three. She actually taught classes for a while when they were all in America."
"What is this dance called?"
"Salsa. It's fun, free-spirited, and sexy."
Heat flooded Elrond's face as he watched Lyla and Glorfindel move together. "I think that is an understatement."
With a grin, Diane shook her head. "Trust me, this is nothing."
"You mean there are some that are even more seductive?"
"Oh yeah. After an Argentine tango, the floor is usually smoldering. But I'll tell you what I told them when they first saw one. These dances are like acting in a play; each one has certain emotions that need to be portrayed. A salsa is fun and sexy. An Argentine tango is passionate and sometimes angry. A waltz is charming and romantic."
Her explanation was logical, but he still felt awkward viewing what seemed like an intimate moment. "I see."
"Lyla holds these classes several times a week. You should bring your wife. I bet she'll love it."
Elrond nodded. Diane was right. Celebrian would probably enjoy it.
He watched for a while longer. Lyla and Glorfindel both looked so happy, which was wonderful to see considering all they had faced as of late. But it was Lyla herself who seemed the most changed. Before, she had appeared ill at ease in Valinor, self-conscious, afraid to do anything that might make the other Elves think less of her and Glorfindel by proxy. Now she acted confident, content, no longer caring if people approved of her or not. Not that such a thing was an issue, as most held her in awe and great esteem since her defeat of Deldhín.
When the lesson ended, Diane wandered over to the others, and Glorfindel took her spot on the bench.
His friend arched a brow. "So, what did you think?"
"It was incredible. You're actually fairly skilled. Shocking, really."
Glorfindel laughed. "Thanks, I think. I enjoy it, and it pleases Lyla greatly." Mischief lit his features. "And it makes things more… intense between us."
Glorfindel gave him a wicked grin but offered no other reply. Elrond's mouth curved. He was definitely bringing Celebrian to one of these classes. And soon.
Her curiosity piqued, Lyla sat on the couch beside Glorfindel. They along with Elhael, Caleniel, Diane, Celin, James, and Gwenél had been summoned to Meredith and Gilorn's house because the pair had a special announcement to make.
"Any idea what this is all about?" Elhael asked.
Lyla shook her head. "Not a clue. The books didn't grant me psychic powers."
"That's probably a good thing."
She chuckled. "I'll say. Like I want to read your mind. The very thought of what lurks inside is terrifying."
"Very funny," Elhael said.
"Oh, it's definitely frightening," Caleniel said.
"I wouldn't want to venture in there," Glorfindel teased.
Elhael attempted to scowl, but a grin soon spread across his face, drawing laughter from everyone.
Meredith and Gilorn entered the living room. "What's so funny?" Gilorn asked.
Caleniel kissed Elhael's cheek. "We were harassing your father."
"Without us? You should have waited."
Elhael groaned. "Please tell us your news while I still have some pride left."
Grinning, the pair clasped hands. "This is something we have wanted for a while, and now that everything is finally good again it seems like the perfect time," Meredith said. "I'm pregnant."
Lyla stared at her daughter, shock and excitement coursing through her. "Are-Are you sure, honey?"
The room exploded with noise, everyone congratulating and asking questions all at once.
Lyla embraced Meredith. "I'm so happy for you, sweetie."
"Are you excited, future grandmother?"
She snorted. "Very, although that title is going to take some getting used to."
"At least you have some preparation time," Diane joked. "I had it sprung on me."
Lyla and Meredith both giggled, then Lyla hugged her again. "You'll be a great mother, baby."
"I had a perfect example, Mama."
"I don't know about that, but at least we managed to get you to adulthood without any permanent damage."
Glorfindel embraced Meredith. "Congratulations, sweetheart. This is wonderful news."
"Thank you, Ada."
While the others crowded around the future parents, Glorfindel pulled Lyla aside. "Well, I wasn't expecting that."
She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Me either, Grandfather."
His eyebrows rose. "Eru, that's strange to hear, Grand—"
Lyla covered his mouth with her hand. "If you call me 'Grandmother,' I'll kill you."
He grinned. "Yes, my love."
Lyla glanced at her daughter and son-in-law. The joy on their faces filled her with delight. They would be the perfect parents: kind, loving, patient, tough yet fair. And she and Glorfindel would enjoy spoiling the little one.
Glorfindel's lips brushed against her temple. "I love you."
She smiled. "And I love you."
Glorfindel kissed her, then held her against him. Feeling completely happy, Lyla snuggled into her husband's warm, strong embrace. Everything was right with the world. And this time she knew it would remain so forever.