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A Cage of a Different Kind

Final Chapter

Legolas stood with knives drawn ready to defend his family with his life. His heart raced and he cursed that his senses were so dull that he could not discern the danger. The bushes rustled and he caught sight of a horse.

His father, the twins and Lord Elrond rode into the clearing. Legolas sighed in relief and put his knives away as two dark haired elves jumped off their mounts and ran to him.

"Are you alright?" Elrohir asked as Elladan tried to see what Legolas was protecting.

"You are late." He said as he stepped back and let them see his new family.

Elrond jumped down and crossed quickly to Eowyn. He bent down and with some reassuring words began to check her over.

"You seem to have done quite well without us." He said as he carefully unwrapped the baby and checked him as well.

Thranduil hung back through all of this and Legolas said nothing to him. He wanted to see his grandchild but he knew he needed to keep his distance for now. The twins had moved away as well when they had seen Eowyn's state of undress and Elladan had grabbed a few blankets that Legolas now used to cover her and rewrap the baby. He limped over to his friends holding his new son proudly, a look of pure joy on his face.

The twins cooed and laughed at the small being wrapped in his arms and they marveled at the beautiful child. "He looks just like you did as a baby Lass." Elrohir said as he gazed at his friend's new son and Thranduil could not stop the pain that hit his heart at that comment. He wanted to see him as well but the fact that Legolas was pointedly ignoring him was not lost on him and he decided to wait. He knew he had been wrong and mean spirited and had almost caused a tragedy. This was going to take some time to repair, if he ever actually could. He watched in envy as his son passed his grandchild to Elladan and went to check on his wife. "He really does love her." He thought in surprise.

Elrond had finished his quick examination of Eowyn and had looked up at his approach. "What have you done to your leg?" He asked as he watched the prince wince in pain as he knelt next to his wife.

"It has already been tended, thank you my Lord." Legolas said as he bent and kissed his love once again.

Elrond rose and started giving orders. "Elladan, ride with your brother and give your horse to the prince. Legolas please mount and then I will hand Eowyn up to you. I am sure you do not wish to have anyone else hold her on the ride back."

Legolas looked at him gratefully and was able to mount with just a little trouble from his injured leg. Elrond carefully lifted Eowyn and handed her to her husband who took her lovingly.

"Where's the baby?" She asked and Elrohir brought him over. Eowyn took him with a smile and they set off towards home.

The trip was much quicker on horseback and even though Thranduil tried, Legolas would not respond to him. After a few attempts, Legolas finally looked at him and said wearily. "Please Thranduil, give me some time. I am very tired and angry at you. We will talk about this later. I only wish to get my family home safely." With that, he took his horse ahead and stayed there for the rest of the ride.

When they arrived at the settlement, Legolas handed Eowyn and their son down to Elrond and then slid off the horse. He almost cried out in pain as his leg jolted on the ground but he quickly recovered and was glad it held. He followed the lord of Imladris as he carried his family into their fete and watched as Elrond laid her in their bed. He quickly sat next to her and took her gently into his arms. He gazed at the small being that he had just help enter into the world. Elrond smiled as he looked at the two of them totally absorbed in watching their new son sleep.

"I know how interesting a sleeping baby can be but I was wondering if either of you would like me to have baths drawn for you?" Elrond asked with a smile.

Legolas and Eowyn glanced up guiltily and both agreed that would be wonderful so Elrond left them alone while he took care of the details. When the bath was ready Elrond returned to help them. Legolas did not want to be parted from his family so he followed them down and after thanking the elven lord, bathed them himself. Eowyn sighed as the warm water covered her and she supported their tiny son on her knees as the two of them joyfully gave him his first bath. It was a bit of a shock to his system and he screwed up his little face and gave a lusty cry as they rubbed his little body until it was a healthy pink color. Legolas took him from his mother and wrapped him in the softest blanket he could find. He stood there holding him and gazing at him in wonder until Eowyn laughed, bringing him back to earth.

"Sorry dearest. I will see if Elrond can watch him until we are finished." He said as he took their baby out to the waiting healer. Elrond was more than happy to comply and Legolas hurried back in to help his weary wife.

"That was the most amazing experience of my whole life he said as he slid into the tub behind her and wrapped his arms around her.

She nodded. "I don't think I have ever been happier. Sore and very tired, but never happier." She said as he began to sponge her off. He massaged her head as he washed her hair and made sure she was relaxed and clean before finally climbing out and helping her dry off. He wrapped her in a warm robe and helped her back to their bedroom. They stopped in the doorway and just watched as the great lord of Imladris cooed at their small son, bouncing him gently in his arms and talking baby talk.

"You are just the cutest little elfling I have ever seen, yes you are, you are just the cutest." he was saying in a sing song voice when soft laughter from the doorway brought him up short.

"Oh, uh I was just, I mean he was fussing and I wanted to calm him." Elrond was slightly embarrassed which made it all the sweeter.

Eowyn crossed to him and took the slightly fussy baby from him. "You have nothing to be embarrassed about my Lord, I am sure that you will be one of his favorite people soon enough. Right now he may be a bit hungry." She said as she made herself comfortable once again on the bed.

Elrond excused himself and Legolas joined his small family on the bed watching in fascination as mother and child bonded. The small elfling did not have to be shown twice and he greedily latched onto his mother's breast, settling down instantly.

"You seem to know what you are doing meleth." He said with a smile. "I hope fatherhood comes as easily to me as motherhood has to you."

She ran her finger over the soft fuzz of the baby's silver hair and down the delicate nose. She then traced the delicate points of his tiny ears. She was totally in love. "I did not know you could love someone the instant you first see them." She murmured, taking a small hand and exploring the tiny fingers.

"I did." Legolas said as he watched his wife. "I loved you the moment I first saw you and now it feels like I am seeing you again for the first time."

Eowyn looked up at him with a tear of happiness in her eye. "I love you with all my heart. Together we have created a miracle."

"You did all the work. I don't think I have ever been prouder of you my love. You were so courageous and strong. You endured so much to bring our son into the world. Do you think you ever want to do it again?"

"Absolutely. I hope we have many children Legolas and you had better be there for the birth of each and every one." She said with a smile

"Nothing could keep me away." He said as he settled next to her.

Hours passed and Legolas watched Eowyn sleep. He hoped he could keep the baby happy for as long as possible so she could regain some of her strength. He sat in the chair next to their bed with their baby in his arms. He knew he should put him in his crib but he just wished to sit and look at him. They had not decided on a name yet so there was much to discuss when she awoke. What troubled Legolas the most right now was what to do about his father. If it had not been for his cruel words, Eowyn might not have had the baby so soon. She certainly would not have had it out in the woods. Fate had been kind enough to allow him to find her and help her with the birth but he didn't know if he could forgive him for putting the lives of his family in danger. What if he hadn't found her? What if there had been other Orcs in the area and they had found her? He had to stop thinking about the "what if's", everyone was fine and he was extremely thankful.

As Legolas pondered all this he heard Eowyn sigh and shift in bed. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled when she saw her husband still holding their child.

"You have not set him down once have you?" She grinned.

He sheepishly shook his head. "He is so beautiful."

"Just like his father." Eowyn said as she watched her amazing mate hold his son. "The sight of you with our baby almost takes my breath away."

"This whole experience takes my breath away." He said as he continued to run his finger down the delicate nose and perfect lips of the sleeping baby in his arms.

"Have you changed his nappy while you were gazing at him?" She asked laughing.

The surprised look on his face answered her question.

"He will probably need it soon but let's not wake him unless we have too."

"Have you thought about a name?" Legolas asked.

"Some, but I really wanted to see him before we decided. Have you thought of any?"

"A few. We need to decide soon you know." he said.

"True enough." She murmured. Eowyn was so tired after her ordeal that it did not seem very important.

"Eowyn, I need to ask you, what did my father do to make you run off like that?" Legolas looked at her intensely and she could tell that he was trying to prepare himself for something he didn't want to hear. As she thought about it, she wasn't sure she wanted to repeat any of it.

"I should not have reacted that way. I don't know what came over me but I should not have run off." She said as her pale cheeks colored in embarrassment.

"You were emotional and I know how hurtful he can be. Please meleth; it is not your fault."

She hesitated as if lost in thought. Suddenly she burst out "Are we bonded Legolas?"

The question caught him by surprise.

"Yes of course we are love."

"Then why did I not know you were hurt so badly?"

"It was not that bad, and I am very good at hiding those things. Besides, pregnancy masks the bond for the sake of the child. The fact that you were unaware does not reflect the depth or lack thereof in our bond."

She still looked troubled. "Will I feel your pain or emotions? Will I sense things about you? I don't really understand it."

"You will, I just don't know how deeply because you are human." He replied.

That seemed to hurt her. "Will I live to see our children grown?" She asked quietly.

He thought for a moment and then realized what his father must have said. "Of course you will see our children grown."

"Elven children take much longer to mature and I will be very old by the time they cross over to adulthood." She said softly.

"Do not worry about that Eowyn. You will live to see our children grown."

The look on her face told him she did not believe him.

"You must promise me something Legolas." She said.

"Anything my love." He replied quickly.

"You will not fade when I die."

"What!" He realized that he had spoken too soon.

"You must live and be with our children after my passing. I could not rest peacefully knowing you would follow and leave our children alone."

Legolas studied her worried face thinking about her childhood and how the lack of parents had shaped her life. She had told him how lonely she had been even with her brother, cousin and uncle.

"I do not know if I can make that promise Eowyn. I have never felt like this about anyone before and I cannot guarantee that the grief of your passing would not kill me."

She started to sob. "Please Legolas. I cannot live with that burden. Please tell me you will try!"

He rushed to her side and wrapped his free arm around her pulling her close to him. "I promise that I will try. That is all I can do Eowyn."

That seemed to satisfy her for the moment and she settled back against the pillows. "I believe it is my turn to hold him." She said as he smiled and passed his precious bundle to her waiting arms.

The next few days passed peacefully. Legolas had stayed with Eowyn and the baby, having their meals delivered to their rooms. Thranduil had not had a chance to talk with him or see the baby and he was getting impatient. He finally decided he had waited long enough and took matters into his own hands. He stood outside the door for a few moments, his fist hovering in the air and then he took a deep breath and finally knocked on the door.

"Enter." He heard from inside. He stepped inside hesitantly and peered around the door to see his son and Eowyn in bed with his grandchild. Legolas' leg was propped up but they all looked well.

"Thranduil, I was not expecting you." Legolas said, making no move to rise or greet him.

"Who were you expecting?"

"Elrond and the twins." Legolas replied, raising his eyebrow as if daring his father to challenge him.

"I have not been able to meet my grandchild. I was hoping you would bring him to me." Thranduil said, trying to decide how to handle this obviously hostile situation.

"You mean your mongrel half-breed grandson?" Legolas growled staring at his father, the challenge was unmistakable.

Thranduil's face colored a bit and he had the grace to look down in shame. "Well, I am sorry for that ion nin."

"Do not apologize to me, apologize to my wife."

He was about to say that Legolas did not have a wife but one look at his son silenced him. Legolas seemed to know what he was going to say and since things were not going very well anyway, he bit his tongue.

Thranduil took a deep breath and for a moment Legolas thought he was going to refuse.

"I am sorry for upsetting you." Thranduil said looking at Eowyn.

"That is alright." she started to say but Legolas interrupted her.

"Not good enough. She has a name and you did more than just upset her."

Thranduil realized he was going to have to make an effort. He could very well lose his son forever if he could not swallow his pride for a moment. So he went to the bed and knelt down on one knee.

"Forgive me Eowyn for saying some very mean and untrue things. I had no right and I am ashamed of my behavior. I ask for your forgiveness. Please allow me to see your son...I mean, my grandson."

Eowyn looked at him with softness in her green eyes. "Of course you can see him." She said as she passed the infant to the elf who quickly regained his feet.

Thranduil looked down at the bundle that was squirming quietly in his arms and his breath caught. He could not speak for the blue eyes that peered up at him were his sons. He quickly changed his hold and reverently began to unwrap the small baby. The light fuzz on his head was Legolas, in fact, everything right down to the delicately pointed ears was his son. It was as if he had been transported back in time and he almost expected to see his beautiful wife sitting in the bed instead of Legolas and Eowyn.

Legolas saw the wonder in his father's face and his anger abated a bit.

"He looks just like you ion nin." Thranduil breathed, unable to take his eyes off the small bundle in his arms.

"I think he has his mother's lips." Legolas said.

Eowyn smiled and snuggled into her mate. Their son was his father's image but she appreciated the fact that he was trying to make her feel like there was something of his mother in him.

"Have you named him yet?" Thranduil asked, completely ignoring Legolas comment about the baby's lips.

"We are still discussing it." Legolas said.

Thranduil detected a slight strain in his son's voice and he wisely remained silent. "I will return to Mirkwood soon but I would be grateful if you would let me visit."

Thranduil's heart flipped when his son did not answer him immediately; instead a soft woman's voice was heard. "You are always welcome. You are the only grandparent our children will have so please visit us as often as you can."

Thranduil looked at her gratefully and wondered for a brief moment if he might have been wrong to try to keep these two apart. The word "children" was not lost on him either.

"Thank you Eowyn. You are most gracious after all I have put you through." He took her hand and bowed slightly placing a kiss on it before straightening. He looked at the baby again and passed him reluctantly to his parents. With an inclination of his head to Legolas, he turned and strode from the room.

"I think he is truly remorseful love." Eowyn said noticing that her husband had not risen or said goodbye.

"We will see Eowyn, we will see." He said thoughtfully.

A month later, Eowyn and Legolas stood in a clearing surrounded by their friends once again. There was a new addition this time though and his name was Aranel. Eowyn and Legolas held each other close as Aragorn held their baby up for all to see and proclaimed his parentage and name.

"Behold Aranel, son of Eowyn and Legolas Thrandulion and heir to Ilithien."

Aragorn placed the baby back in his parent's arms and turned to address all gathered.

"I have been proclaimed guardian if anything should happen and I am happy to have that responsibility."

"And I am his guardian as well." A gruff voice added. "Every child needs the calming influence of a dwarf, especially when he has a flighty elf for a father."

Laughter filled the wood and with the formalities done, the group quickly moved on to the festivities.

The End

(for now)

I have some other stories already written so I will start up soon after the holidays are over. Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!