So, recently I've kind of been pointed in the ways of censorship. Now censorship and I have a long and complicated history, and mostly I tend to ignore it. I have a weird view on censorship in art, literature in particularly. I've never once picked up a book that had warnings before the text for character death or acts of violence or non-con etc, some times for the best (I personally couldn't imagine picking up Harry Potter and reading an incredibly spoiling warning before every chapter; I mean Dobby? Fred? How would you tag all that death and violence in the 7th book?) and sometimes for the worst (I literally dropped the Kite Runner when I got to that part and didn't read it for weeks after) but ultimately I appreciate archive warnings and I appreciate the CHOICE for them as well. I never use them, mainly because I just never know what to tag, what to tag without ruining everything, what people would want me to tag—and it always ends up worse for me when I do… if I forget a tag people often accuse me of intentional oversight, or if I don't agree with a tag it often ends up in a lot of flaming.

So no, I didn't use tags in this story. Though honestly I think it's a little obvious from the plot summary that pregnancy and abortion are going to be some common themes in this. And obviously they're not in any kind of established relationship, they're not married, baby out of wedlock etc.

I'm not trying to preach a certain lifestyle over another here… I'm just writing a story for fun.

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It took Legolas a bit before he arrived at their designated meeting place; a long slab of rock that jutted over the top of the Golden Hall as a sort of marble slab. It might not have been the most practical of meeting places for 'sword practice', but it was secure, and more importantly, as private as she could probably get in a place like Edoras. Granted, she wouldn't want to misstep and fall off the edge, but the two of them weren't novices to the blade, and the fall wouldn't be particularly threatening to her anyway. She toyed around with her blade as she waited, swinging it in rapid patterns to listen to the wind whistle as the metal sliced through the air.

The movement entertained her briefly, before she paused to peer up into the stars, her eyes searching first for Polaris. It peered back down at her with a delicate twinkle, hanging on to the rest of its constellation as it swam around the moon.

Sakura made a valiant attempt to draw strength from their light—or at least, draw courage to face the result of her own foolishness. What would she say? She hadn't gotten past the, "So, I'm really sorry and all…" Prequel to her monologue. But try as she might, she really couldn't find any tactful way to say it. I'm going to be your baby mama? That's how Ino would say it.

Hell, Sakura snorted, even Ino wouldn't have gotten herself into this situation; and everyone knew what a closet slut Ino was.

But, for the first time, her thoughts strayed past this moment of honesty, and into the shrouded, unforgiving future. Would she just… leave? She tried to imagine Legolas' reaction when she would reaffirm the fact that she was, indeed, going to leave Middle Earth after this mission, pregnant self and all. Would he demand custody for the baby? She could already feel the headache of a vicious custody battle coming on—how would they split the child? It's not like it could just switch parents on the weekends. Would she give it up voluntarily to him?

It wouldn't be a bad life for it, She supposed idly, tossing her blade into the air and ducking through a taijutsu set, catching it deftly and moving through the motions. It'd be like, a prince or something. Princess. Elven Princess.

That was pretty cool, she decided. It'd be better than having to stick around in her studio apartment, with an absentee mother who was constantly out on missions.

But it wasn't like she hadn't thought of kids, or hadn't wanted them. She did, and she had. She'd had those girlish dreams of white-paper weddings and pastel baby dresses, oversized stuffed teddy bears and cute little knit hats. She'd always imagined herself retired by then—or at the very least, not an active ANBU operative. Maybe even as a full-time doctor at the hospital. Then, at least, she'd work some predictable hours.

To that end though, she hadn't thought on them recently, or in any other regard aside from the abstract.

It'd be better off here. She decided, tentatively.

She had enough foresight to know she'd make an awful mother, anyway. She didn't have a single maternal bone in her body.

Sakura halted her taijutsu, easing out of her crouch to stand straight, contemplating the stars again. It sounded like as good an idea as any—now all she had to do was tell Legolas.

But speaking of Legolas, where was he?

"It's not like him to be late." She noted with a frisson of concern. In all her time in his presence, this tour through Middle Earth and the last, he'd always been incredibly punctual—almost to a fault, really. It was never becoming to be too predictable with punctuality (at least for ninja)… probably one of the best lessons Kakashi had ever taught her.

She went looking for him anyway, turning back to towards the stairs that lead into the hall. Halfway down she was taken by surprise by the elf himself, briskly walking up the stairs.

"Sakura!" He sounded unnecessarily relieved at finding her, considering she'd told him where she's be. "I apologize for my tardiness—Aragorn chose the most inopportune moment to speak to the king… at any rate, he's evacuating the city. We must hurry to assist with the pilgrimage to Helm's Deep."

"Wait… what?" She blinked. "Repeat that."

Legolas smiled at her, as if he could somehow find her slowness appealing. "Aragorn and Gandalf have been persuading the King to take his people to the great fortress of Helm's Deep—they believe an attack by Sauron to be imminent."

"Is it?"

"Oh, undoubtedly so." Legolas nodded. "Which is why the evacuation has begun immediately. We're needed at the front; your friend Naruto is already there… he is… most curious."

That startled a laugh out of her. "Well, that's certainly a nice way of putting it."

He proffered his hand, and she took it, for once without any caution. Half of her was annoyed that she'd made such a fuss of summoning up all her courage—only for events not created by herself to once again waylay her long delayed conversation. The rest of her was simply relieved. Another opportunity, swiftly avoided.

The downstairs was utter chaos; the inhabitants of the hall in a riotous cacophony of noise and movement. Frightened mother's tending to their equally frightened children, men barking commands over each other and the clanking of weaponry, the movement of belongings and supplies as they passed through the hall all so overwhelming Sakura had to stop for a moment to take in the sight, Legolas deftly pulling her along through the crowds.

Out on the stoop of the Hall, a stout man was commanding out orders over the din. "By order of the king, the city must empty! We make for the refuge of Helm's Deep. Do not burden yourselves with treasures! Take only what provisions you need!"

Quite clearly not a soul was paying him any mind, for all the residents of Edoras seemed intent on taking everything they could carry with them, pets included.

Legolas pulled her around him, marching over to where Aragorn and Gimly stood at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for them.

"Helm's Deep!" Gimli scowled, in way of greeting. "They flee to the mountains when they should stand and fight! Who will defend them if not their king?"

Aragorn shook his head, moving towards a weathered path and motioning for all of them to follow. "He's only doing what he thinks is best for his people." The human protested to the dwarf vehemently, in defense of the king. Sakura supposed this discussion must strike quite the chord with Aragorn—what with him being a king and all as well. It would explain his sudden fervor. "Helm's Deep has saved them in the past."

Aragorn lead them into the stables, where Naruto and Gandalf were already gearing up horses. Well, Gandalf was gearing up horses—Naruto didn't seem to be doing anything particularly productive.

Sakura rolled her eyes, moving to assist the blonde ninja in dressing the horse. "You've never done this before—why are you pretending you have?"

Naruto pouted. "It looked fun."

She adjusted the riding straps and fitted the saddle properly, turning to Naruto with a look of fond annoyance. "Please, try not to fall off."

Naruto scoffed. "Never!"

"There is no way out of that ravine." Gandalf snorted, loudly, causing Sakura to turn and pay attention to the Fellowship's conversation. The great wizard sighed then, turning to address the fellowship, but more so, Sakura thought, he was directing his words toward Aragorn. "Theoden is walking into a trap—he thinks he's leading them to safety. But what they will get is a massacre. Theoden has a strong will… but I fear for him… I fear for the survival of Rohan. He will need you al lbefore the end. The people of Rohan will need you. The defenses must hold."

"They will." Aragorn swore.

Gandalf turned towards Shadowfax, stroking the immaculate horse. "The Grey Pilgrim…" He said softly, almost to himself. "That's what they used to call me. Three hundred lives of men I've walked this earth and now I have no time."

Three hundred…? Sakura gaped.

Jesus, if Orochimaru had wanted immortality that badly he should've just become a wizard.

The wizard mounted his horse. "With luck, my search will not be in vain. Look to my coming at first light on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East. Now, Naruto, hurry. We must make haste."

Naruto nodded seriously, moving to mount his own horse.

"Wait!" Sakura cried, panicked.

Naruto looked down at her curiously.

She swallowed. "Don't… Don't go." She protested, quietly. "Send a Kage Bunshin. But stay here."

"Sakura?" Naurto whispered back, his eyes darting to the Fellowship, who all looked on curiously. "Why?"

She shifted uneasily, swallowing around her dry throat. "It's just… there's going to be a battle, right? At Helm's Deep?"

Naruto nodded.

"Well, don't you think it'd be better for you to be there?" She pointed out. "If anyone's got the firepower for that sort of mess, it'd be you. You'd do more good in a battle like that than just riding off for reinforcements."

The blonde blinked. "Huh. Hadn't thought of that."

This is why I'm the strategist, She thought wryly.

Naruto threw up the seal for the Kage Bunshin, a clout of smoke appearing on his horse instead of him as a powerful clone. The fellowship, if possible, looked even more curious as two Naruto's peered back at them. Sakura realized belatedly that this was the first time any of them had seen the clone technique. Granted, she'd used many a clone in her first stay here—but she'd been keen to keep the shinobi techniques secret. She supposed it was something of a moot point, though. The people of Middle Earth didn't have chakra anyway, and wouldn't care to steal secret hidden village techniques.

"Naruto's going to stay and help defend Helm's Deep." She explained. "…And he'll also ride with Gandalf."

Gimli blinked, sputtering, pointing widely between the two blondes. "But you… you were, and now you're…"

"It's a ninja technique." Legolas explained, amused. He, at least, had seen it many a time. "The user can make a shadow of himself. Or, in some cases, many shadows."

"Yes." Sakura agreed. "But they're just that: shadows. They're not actually a double of the real person—however, a clone should be enough to assist Gandalf. I think, given Naruto's… certain skill set, he'll be more of an asset at the stronghold."

"If you think that's best." Aragorn said mildly. He didn't seem upset that she was refuting the Fellowship's decision to have Naruto travel with Gandalf. More than anything, he looked fascinated.

The King of men and the Grey Wizard shared a long look that Sakura couldn't quite decipher, before the elder man rode off into the darkness on his luminous horse.

.

.

.

Though Sakura had been astute in her observation, the real heart of the matter was that she had a deeper, more selfish reason for Naruto to stay with the Fellowship. The idea of a battle—a real, true Middle Earth battle, fitted with legions of orcs and men, crashing into each other with arrows and swords and cannons alike—terrified her. Well, she wasn't precisely terrified for herself, but for it. Legume, the lovechild, the strange tailed-fetus thing currently taking most of her nutrients for itself, whatever she likened to call it at the moment.

She simply couldn't, in good conscious, participate in the event, as much as her sense of duty may call for it. It was one thing to travel across the country side, perhaps occasionally delving into a skirmish or two (Moria didn't count. Nowhere in the mission description did something like Moria ever come up) and entirely another to voluntarily engage in a battle of this scale.

She eyed Legolas, some paces away. Ahead of him was Aragorn, who seemed to be sharing a… weirdly intimate conversation with the fair-haired daughter of the King. The Fellowship was undoubtedly going to question her decision—and she'd have to tell them the truth.

Which was an event she wasn't particularly looking forward to, but an inevitability all the same.

And anyway, she had full faith and confidence in Naruto's capabilities. Total moron he may be, but he was an unquestionably talented ninja and one of the most powerful shinobi in the hidden nations—if not the most. Hell, the only reason he wasn't Hokage was just a question of maturity. And that was mostly a waiting game… already, when she thought of the Naruto of a few years ago in comparison to the Naruto before her the contrast was striking. Naruto of a few years ago would have been benched for a diplomatic mission like this—but the Naruto of today was… actually being weirdly tactful. Still loud and occasionally naïve, but ultimately it seemed to be more endearing to the people of Middle Earth than aggravating.

Even right now, he was charming the pants off a group of teenage girls, telling some long winded story, hand gestures and all. Although, the more accurate term may be, 'fondly aggravated'. He certainly had the way with people.

Still, Sakura was just glad for his presence in general.

Although, even more so than the Fellowship, (and maybe even Legolas), she was worried about what he would say.

Legolas, at least, she'd understand—whatever his reaction may be. And she'd feel like shit and she'd deserve it, and at the end of it all they may part amiably or with great animosity but at the end of the day they had an ending. The mission had an ending. Naruto… Naruto was her best friend in the entire world. No, even more than that. He was her brother. There was no other person on this earth whose opinion she valued more than Naruto's, and the idea of him being upset with her already made her stomach churn. Only two things upset Naruto in any serious capacity—Injustice, and people who abandon their comrades… and stale ramen, but Sakura doubted that was really relevant in conjunction with his moral barometer.

Fortunately she didn't think on this for much longer, as Gimli and Eowyn slow enough for Sakura's horse to match their gait, drawing her into a conversation between them and Aragorn.

"—It's true, you don't see many Dwarf women, and in fact they're so alike in voice and appearance, that they're often mistaken for Dwarf men!"

Aragorn waggled his brows, and Sakura smiled with helpless adoration for her dwarven friend. He gestured to Eowyn, and when she leaned toward him he whispered, loud enough for Sakura to hear, "It's the beards."

Sakura snorted.

"And this, in turn," Gimli continued on, having not noticed the interruption, or perhaps just ignoring it. "Gave rise to the belief that there are no Dwarf women—and that dwarves just spring out of holes in the ground!"

"They don't?" Sakura feigned shock.

"Oi there!" Gimli pointed wildly at her, careening backwards on his horse. "Nothing from you, Lassie! Ye of little faith!"

He turned to Eowyn, quite serious. "Don't listen to her nonsense. This is, of course, absolutely ridiculous—whoa!

They laugh uproariously as the horse suddenly reared up, and the dwarf slid down off it's rump and was promptly deposited on the ground. "That was deliberate!" He shouted, as he struggled up from the ground.

"Of course." Sakura agreed, with good nature. She held a hand to assist him back onto his horse. "Perhaps you and horses don't get along because you were born from rock—and simply weren't meant for them!"

"I was born from no such thing!" Gimli retorted, hotly.

"We believe you, Gimli." Eowyn smiled enchantingly. "Dwarven women exist." She turned merrily towards Sakura. "Isn't that right, Sakura?"

"Yes, yes it is." She agreed solemnly. "That they do."

The blonde's eyes slid towards Aragorn, and in that moment something paralyzed between them. Sakura blinked, wondering if she was simply catching a stray fracture of light, or if there had really been something between the two of them. Signs pointed towards the latter, as color rose quickly to Eowyn's fair cheeks, and she turned smarly towards the front. Aragorn gazed upon her for some time after with a glance too somber to have simply been a trick of light.

Sakura looked between the two of them, a little surprised, and mostly bewildered.

Was there something going on? But Sakura was sure she'd heard of some sort of scandalous relation between the lovely elf Arwen and the rugged, handsome King of men. Or perhaps the tryst was over? Or was he reconsidering his choices?

She supposed it really wasn't any of her business—but she contemplated all the same.

After all, musing on everyone else's business was surely better than musing on her own.

.

.

.

Naruto proved his worth easily enough—but in the end, it hadn't been enough to save Aragorn.

"There's no time!" One of the Rohirrim, Hamla, argued with the blonde ninja. "It's imperative to get these people to the stronghold—after, we can search for the body—

"No!" Naruto roared in refusal. Sakura wasn't in the least surprised with his vehement protestation of this; if there was one thing Naruto valued above all other shinobi law, it was never leaving a comrade behind. This entire ordeal went strictly against his policy. "You don't understand. I can't leave a teammate behind… and Aragorn is a teammate!"

Hamla scowled. "At the cost of all these people? You would condemn them to death?"

"There's always a way!" Naruto retorted, his ire a great inflection to his voice.

"Hold on!" Sakura cut in, ever the peace maker. "I think I have an idea."

She bit her thumb, swiftly moving through hand seals. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!"

She was aware she had an audience from the murmuring behind her at the ninjutsu. A clout of smoke erupted from the ground at her feet, and out of the shroud a large female lynx glided out of the cloud. Sakura blinked. She'd never managed to summon one of the stronger summons of her clan: her pelt shivered in speckled silver and white, gleaming in the washed out sunshine like her luminescent green eyes.

"Can I help you?" The lynx narrowed her eyes, haughtily. Still as insubordinate as ever though, Sakura thought almost fondly.

She moved towards the cliff, picking up a tattered cloth where Aragorn had fell, and proffering it towards the large cat. She docilely sniffed the material, making a pinched expression at the smell. Sakura doubted anything in Middle Earth would smell pleasant, though.

"I need you to track down the owner of this smell." Sakura commandeered. In response, the lynx blinked languidly.

And then, like an incredibly put-upon teenager, rolled its shoulders and sniffed around the ground. It maundered about for a little bit, before moving towards the edge of the cliff.

"The scent falls at the river." The lynx noted, blandly.

Sakura rolled her eyes. "Yes, I figured as much."

The cat looked back at her, and she at it.

Finally, at great length. "You want me to go in there."

Sakura nodded.

"I'm a cat."

"You'll get over it."

The feline scowled, turning its cheek and cleaning its paw with more pretentiousness than Sakura had thought possible from an animal.

"I'm serious here." Sakura frowned. "Look, I know your clan doesn't like me—why you took a contract with me when you don't still, to this day, baffles me. But I need you to do this for me. The owner of this cloth is a dear friend of mine and I refuse to believe he's dead."

The cat's big eyes peered at her owlishly, an indecipherable expression to it's face. "Fine." She said, with great reluctance, sitting up from her haunches to expend a great leap over the cliff. It dropped into the torrenting water below, and within seconds it's bobbing white head erupted out of the rapids, paddling downstream.

Sakura turned back to the Rohirrim gathered.

"If there's any chance of finding him—it's with the cat."

Hamla opened his mouth, stunned.

Naruto pursed his lips, still looking unsatisfied.

"There's nothing else we can do." Sakura started, before he could speak to voice his dissent. "These people need to get to safety; Aragorn wouldn't want us to endanger them for him."

"You're right." Naruto sighed. And then, whining, "Could you please stop being so rational? You make me feel dumber than usual."

She patted his back. "Naruto, I really don't think that's possible."

Legolas watched her with beseeching eyes, turning his horse to trot over to her, her own horse's reigns in hand.

"Sakura," He greeted. "What of Aragorn?"

She shook her head. "He fell off the cliff."

His face turned grim.

"I don't think the fall was fatal." Sakura refuted hastily. Considering her cat summon had jumped off voluntarily. And if there was one thing she'd learned about her summons, it was that they valued self-preservation above all else. If there was even a shadow of a doubt in the Lynx's mind it could have died from the jump it wouldn't have even attempted it.

Legolas sighed. "Even so," He said with graveness, "I fear for his health. A fall like that couldn't have been painless."

"There is that." Sakura agreed, taking the offered reigns in his hand and mounting her own horse once more.

Eowyn trotted up soon thereafter, Gimli in tow. "What of the ranger?" The dwarf boomed, fearful. "Is it true what the Rohirrim whisper of? He fell to his death?"

"We don't know yet." Sakura answered. "But, it is Aragorn, lets have some faith, huh? And you were teasing me of being of little faith."

That, at least, got her a small smile for her troubles.

She could see why they were so troubled, though. Aragorn was, aside from a dear friend, a little too important to the fate of Middle Earth to die.

.

.

.

Down to just two, the remains of the Fellowship were tense and disquieting during King Theoden's last minute battalion planning meeting. Sakura didn't blame them. She herself wasn't in particularly good spirits, either. What with her upcoming withdrawal from the battle. She spent most of the discussion attempting to maneuver the spotlight more onto Naruto, and less on to her. It was made difficult, however, by the presence of the elves, all of which exalted her tales with great exaggeration and regale; enamoring all who cared to listen.

Which was a lot of people, as it were.

"No, no." She waved her hands. "It wasn't—I didn't—" She turned to Legolas, pleading for assistance.

"The tales are over stretched." Legolas agreed, much to her relief. However, he followed the statement with, "This isn't to say that there is no merit to these stories, however. Sakura is an incredibly force in battle; we're fortunate to have her."

"Is it true you can leap from wall to wall without a step to the ground?" One Rohirrim asked, delightedly.

"And what of walking on water? Is that true as well?"

"Well yes, they are true," She answered reflexively. And then, "But it's not as grand as you might think! And at any rate, I don't know how that will be of any assistance to us in a battle like this…"

"And upturning the Earth? You can do that to?"

"With your fists?"

"I heard she can do it with but a single toe, too—

"Oh, enough!" She scowled. She flew up a hand in Naruto's direction. "He can do all that—and then make a thousand copies of himself to do it too!"

"Sakura!" Naruto yelped, flushing red.

She ignored him, turing back towards those assembled. "Look, not that I don't appreciate the gesture, but I think we're getting a little off topic. It's unwise to center an entire battle plan surrounding one—or two—people; what if something happens to Naruto or I? I think the original plan was best. Board the openings and man the towers with archers. We'll have the upper ground, at least. We should maximize our capabilities with the catapults and try to maintain the vantage for as long as possible. Use the stronghold to our advantage."

"Lassie's right." Gimli agreed. "Relying on just the two of them is folly!"

"But it will be good to have them regardless…"

Sakura let the proceedings wash over her, pinching the bridge of her nose. This whole mess was giving her a riotous headache—and the nervousness over having to reveal that no, in fact, she wasn't participating in the battle was only making it infinitely worse—and she closed her eyes and attempted to tune it out. She succeeded moderately, to the point she didn't even notice Legolas moving towards her until he was gently pressing against her forehead with probing fingers.

Her eyes snapped open, and he was right there. She almost recoiled in shock.

"Are you feeling unwell?" He asked quietly, concern marring his features (although somehow, it managed to mar them in the most attractive way possible).

"Fine." She nodded, dazedly.

And then, "Wait. Actually, no. I'm not okay."

The concern doubled immediately. He knelt beside her, brows furrowed. "Are you ill? Is it your head? Your stomach? Perhaps you haven't had enough water…"

"Oh, no, I don't think it's anything like that." She protested, catching his hand to stop him from fussing. "Listen, do you think we could talk somewhere? Somewhere that's not…" She looked around, and then tried to make a universal symbol for 'someplace quiet' that didn't look like 'someplace quiet to fuck'.

Fortunately, he seemed to accurately decipher her vague hand gestures. "Yes, of course."

He spoke quietly to Gimli, and Naruto, who was seated beside the dwarf, turned to look at her curiously. Oh god, Naruto. She waved him off worriedly, hoping he wouldn't jump loudly with questions and alert everyone in the room. She was hoping to keep this discreet. To her great relief, he only nodded and turned back to studiously attempting to pay attention.

Legolas turned back to her, rising with a soundless grace and motioning to an adjacent hallway.

"Sakura, what is it?" He asked, worried, once they were a moderate distance away from the crowd. "Are you injured? Did it happen in the fight?"

"What? No, that's not it." She shook her head. "It's not—

"Will you be able to fight later? Do you need a healer?" He pressed on.

"Uh—no. No healer. And no fighting."

"Perhaps all you need is a bit of rest, maybe some food. We haven't had much rest in the past few days and—" He blinked, her words catching up to him. "You're not?"

And then, "What do you mean, 'no fighting'?"

"…I mean, no fighting. I'm not fighting."

"In the battle? But—

"I'm not going." She interrupted. "I can't participate in the battle. I'll assist the women and children and escort them to safety, and protect them if need be, but I can't be on the front lines."

"Why not?" He asked, baffled. "Sakura, we'll need your assistance… greatly. That you've included Naruto here is a great turning in our favor, however more than one ninja would be a great help to our side—

"Oh, you'll find he's most certainly more than one ninja." She refuted, amused. "But regardless, I can't."

He watched her, perplexed. "Why?"

"I'm pregnant."

Emotions flickered over his face, too fast to be more than imperceptible movements across his face, like patterns of light shifting over him. Finally, they settled onto something like shock. "But when…" And then, swallowing, "Is it mine?"

"Yes." There really wasn't anything else she could say to that.

"How long?" He stepped closer, a hand coming to brush against her arm as he looked her up and down, something like wonder in his eyes. He dropped his questing fingers, and then made another move to reach out to her, before hesitating. "When did you find out?"

"Three months, or around that time." She trembled, closing her eyes. "And… I knew the whole time."

"You—" His throat worked, but nothing came out. His eyes were wide and grave. "Why? Sakura… what?"

"I… I found out when I went back home. I didn't think I'd ever come back and then—well, I answered Gandalf's summoning… I thought it would be at least polite to decline in person. But when I heard about the fate of your world… I knew I had to help. I hadn't thought… I honestly hadn't thought it'd be as dangerous as it was, but to that end, I also knew it wouldn't have been easy."

"But—this whole time? Sakura, this is absolute madness. So many opportunities when you could have… I could've lost both of you, and I wouldn't have even known it!"

"I know." She agreed, solemn, eyes guiltily downcast. "And I'm sorry for that."

Color rose to his cheeks—more emotion gathering on his face than she thought she'd ever seen. He looked… not angry, per say. But upset. Distressed.

"This is—" He paused, sucking in a deep breath as if to reorder his thoughts. "This is such a precious gift, don't you see? To endanger a child so recklessly is utter insanity. You should have said something sooner. You should have… —it was entirely remiss for you to even embark on this journey in the first place! What were you thinking? Were you even thinking?" He reprimanded fiercely.

"Not really, no." She answered, frankly. And then, thoughtful, "I'm really not—I haven't really thought about it, haven't I? Going about this mission anyway, without any significant care for my wellbeing-, or at least not any more than usual… it is rather reckless, isn't it? And endangering. But the real fact of the matter is I'd make an awful mother. I think it's quite plain to see, given the circumstances already."

Legolas blinked, brows furrowing. "No, Sakura, that wasn't what I—

"I think you should take it." She cut him off, imploringly.

"What?"

"The baby. When it's born." She elaborated. And, to his blank stare, she shrugged. "It's not like I could… I'm no mother, Legolas. I simply can't…"

She struggled for words. "Listen, the fact of the matter is, I haven't really given it a fair chance, and that's the truth. If I was really invested in it's well-being I would have never accepted this mission in the first place. I wouldn't have even come to Middle Earth—I would have stayed in my Hidden Village, with free-maternity care and a working hospital and oh, I don't know, prenatal vitamins and monthly checkups! But I didn't, is the thing. I wasn't think about it at all, aside from the physical hindrance I'd have to take account for on the mission, which really isn't the way you should think about a baby."

"So, I think, if you'd like, you should… you should take it."

"But you… you are it's mother." He pointed out, shocked. "You cannot simply—simply abandon it!"

"I'm not abandoning it." She refuted. "I'm giving it to you. This child… well, it will be half of you. It'll be an elf! It should stay here, with it's people."

"And ninja aren't it's people?" Legolas retorted. "Sakura you cannot just leave the child here. Children belong with their mother." He blinked, and as if the thought just came to him, "…Are you not allowed? Is there some sort of law against ninja children? Or children not fostered by ninja?"

"No, nothing like that." She backtracked hastily. "But, to that end, ninja children are few and far between. We simply don't live a lifestyle compatible with child rearing. Yes, of course I could take the child… but I don't think it would be fair to it. It'd have a better life here, I think, with you and your family and your people. Unless, of course, you don't want it…"

"That's not it at all!" The elf protested. "My people… my people will rejoice at the coming of an heir to the throne. My father will be absolutely ecstatic—they would all welcome it with open arms. I cannot even begin to think of the celebration that will occur with this news. However, I don't think a child should be without its mother."

"Well I can't stay here." Sakura retorted flatly, with absolutely no room for discussion.

He looked as if he was going to say something, before he shook his head, sighing. "Yes… I understand that."

Something like sadness warred with the emotions on his face. Finally he sighed, brows furrowed. "This isn't the time for a discussion like this."

"You're right." Sakura agreed, hastily. "You're absolutely, absolutely right. We'll talk more about it later when, you know, legions of Uruk-hai aren't about to come crashing down on us."

"Legions," Legolas repeated with a laugh, somewhat hysterically. "Legions. Tens of thousands. Yes, you are correct. We must speak of this further, when our lives aren't up for forfeit."

She smiled a little hesitantly, unsure of their standing. This had gone… infinitely better and infinitely worse than how she had imagined it.

He was looking away, examining the rock and yet looking right past it. She could only imagine what was going through his head—concern for the future, most likely. They were fighting for the fate of his world right now, for the fate of their lives. For the idea of his future that she'd probably completely upended.

She didn't expect his hand to reach out and grab hers; a gentle and warm grip. His thumb smoothed across the thin skin of her inner wrist, and he pulled her forward just enough to press his lips lightly against her temple.

"You must stay safe. Go with the women and children, into the deeps. Help them. But if the battle does not turn in our favor, if the forces of Saruman have overtaken us… do not linger there. You must escape. I know you are capable of it, I have seen you move rocks to your whim before; do not fear for us. You must save yourself. You must."

"I understand." She answered, swallowing the lump in her throat. "I will." She choked. "I promise."

He moved away, looking down at her, and this time, she did absolutely nothing to stop the inevitable. She turned her head up, almost defiantly brushing her lips against his. He didn't deny her, arms wrapping to envelop her fully, his mouth wonderful and warm on hers.

"Legolas—" She mumbled, barely getting his name out before his mouth swooped down again to cover hers.

"I know, I know." He murmured against her lips. "But just… just for a moment. Let's have this, just for a moment."

She nodded, tilting her head and delving the kiss deeper, hands unwinding into his long and unnecessarily glorious hair, which still made her silently bemoan her own. Did he really always have to be so… perfect? Granted, his perfect was only suiting her interests at the moment, but it only furthered the sinking feeling in her stomach. But what the fuck, she wasn't going to think about that right now. No, right now was awesome. Right now was the best. Right now was like that night three months ago that, now that she was allowing herself to reminiscence, was an experience she'd love to repeat.

You know, aside from the whole, 'fate of the world resting upon us, also surprise baby, etc'.

Sakura pulled away, and Legolas let her, his hands dipping in to cup her cheeks, thumbs rubbing slow circles beneath her eyes. He was smiling.

"We will… we will come out from the other end of this, and we are going to talk about this, afterwards, when Middle Earth is safe and we are no longer in danger of being constantly interrupted by Saurons minions." She choked on a laugh, an involuntary smile on her face that matched his own. He was definitely getting a little hysterical. "We'll figure this out. Come up with… something, okay?"

"Okay." She nodded frantically, not sure if she was saying this out of any ounce of truth or simply just as hysterical as him, feeling like she could say anything in the world with a battle like this before them.

He kissed her again, and she kissed back, at this point practically melting into his arms. This was so stupid. She was so stupid. She couldn't have picked a worse opportunity to be having this emotional moment.

"Legolas!"

They broke apart swiftly, as an elfen archer came tumbling into the stairwell, breathless. Legolas straightened into an admirably professional pose, considering there circumstances a few seconds ago. The elf whispered something urgently, and even if it was louder Sakura wouldn't have been able to understand it anyway. Legolas' eyes widened. He responded, and the archer left quickly.

"What?" She asked immediately, unable to curb her curiosity.

Legolas' smile could blind a person at point blank range. He really ought to put a sensor on that thing, she thought, dazed in the face of it. This close, it was almost lethal.

"Aragorn." He breathed, eyes alight. "He's alive."