Disclaimers: See the Author's Notes! This is an AU!! Elvish is in ' '; Common is in " ". Rated R for major angst and sexual innuendo. This song is also not mine, it's called 'Vision of Love', by Mariah Carey. A special thanks to Crem for beta-reading this for me! Amin Ai Olin

(My Little Secret) Part 18. Coi-, Gurth-, Na- leitha (To Live, To Die, To Be Free)


It took so long

Still I believed

Somehow the one that I needed

Would find me eventually


Elessar gasped.

Legolas' eyes had closed! The elf seemed to collapse unto himself, the lines of pain disappearing from his pale face even though the presence of pain did not. As if Legolas were already withdrawing from the world and.

"No," the man whispered hoarsely, denying the sight before his eyes. "You can't. I won't let you."

With a trembling hand, he brushed the back of his hand over the lips of the seemingly lifeless elf, waiting for a hint of warm air to tickle the hairs on the back of his hand.

Nothing. His beloved had stopped breathing.

"Don't do this to me," he choked and leaned over the elf, sucking in as much air as he could hold. Before the pale body could fade more, he was forcing the bloodless lips apart, pushing the life-giving air into the failing lungs.

Force the air in. Push the air out. In. Out.

Was it just his imagination or was the lovely elf actually breathing on his own now?

He stopped, watching the slow rise and fall of Legolas' chest.

Yes. He wasn't mistaken. But already he could see the breathing faltering, catching in the throat. Legolas' spirit was leaving Middle Earth, readying to enter the Halls of Mandos.

"No," Elessar sobbed. "You're not going. Do you hear me? You. Are. NOT. Going. To. Leave. Me."

He all but crushed Legolas' lips in an attempt to force more air into his beloved's lungs and pushed the air out with just as much force. In and out, relentlessly, until he saw the elf breathe again.

"Fight this, Legolas! Fight this!" he begged, no, ordered the limp form before him, desperation and terror straining his voice to a hoarse sob.

Suddenly he remembered. His children! Elessar turned to them. "Kasia, Elleelen- go get Elrond as quickly as you can."

"But daddy." Elleelen began.

"Do it!" Elessar screamed, regretting it instantly the moment fear crossed the tiny face. O Valar.what a monster he had become! "Please," he gasped softly. "Please. before Legolas disappears forever.

The children raced away, after staring wordlessly at their father for a few moments.

Amazingly, Kasia found the Lord of Rivendell almost instantaneously, almost as if some invisible force willed her to find her grandfather and save Legolas' life. Together, Kasia and Elleelen burst into the kitchen, and, tripping over the step before the kitchen door and falling on King Thranduil, managed to deliver the urgent message.

"Father. needs. you, Grandfather," Kasia panted. "Legolas. is." She choked on the sobs hitching out of her throat, unable to bring herself to say the words. She stared at her grandfather, her eyes, red and swollen from crying, imploring the elven lord to believe her.

Beside her, Elleelen nodded mutely, too grief-stricken to speak. His tear- streaked face scrunched up in worry and fear. He didn't want to be alone! He didn't want to lose his daddy.

Elrond took note of the black shadows under the boy's eyes and the puffiness of his granddaughter's eyes and nodded. "Stay here, both of you. I will help him." Thus saying, he tousled the hair on the children's heads and quickly left the room.

"Grandfather," a small, trembling voice began.

The lone, tall elf left in the room turned to regard the small boy at his knees.

"Yes?" he prodded gently.

"Will my daddy d-die?"

Thranduil stared at the shaking, crying children in front of him. They were frightened. Much as he was. Why? He could understand if Elleelen was upset, but Kasia? He looked at the little half-elves' tear-bright eyes and saw the terror in them. Terror that his son would fade away. A terror that arose from love. And he felt the residual anger in his heart, anger that the king of Gondor had gotten his son with child, melt away.

"Please, sir. will Legolas die?" the other small child whimpered.

The Elven King found that he could no more hurt them than murder his son in cold-blood. Even with the truth.

Sighing, he pulled a nearby chair close and sat, gesturing for the children to climb on his lap. The golden-haired boy and raven-haired girl complied, and he wrapped a reassuring arm around each.

Somehow, Thranduil managed to smile at them before murmuring thoughtfully, "Elrond is one of the best healers in Middle Earth. I'm sure that everything will be fine."

"R-Really?" his grandson hiccupped.

The King smiled, albeit a bit sadly, and smoothed the golden locks that were so like his own. "Really." And it wasn't a lie. Not really. If anyone could save Legolas, Elrond could, and Thranduil prayed the Elf-lord's power would be enough.

"How would you like to hear a story?" Thranduil abruptly changed the subject, trying to draw the children away from the tragedy so close to their hearts.

Kasia's lower lip trembled, but she nodded finally. The little girl was worried, but the prospect of hearing a story. and the nice Elf *had* said that her grandfather would save the nice Elf her father had brought home with him.

Elleelen was swayed by similar thoughts. He sniffed and wiped his tears away, afraid for his father's life but somehow knowing there was nothing he could do about it.

I'd probably make things worse, he thought to himself. He looked at his grandfather and nodded.

Thranduil cleared his throat. "Once upon a time, in the wondrous, far off land of Valinor, which is also known as the Havens, there lived an elf."

The smile on his lips belied the ache in his heart. He knew his son was fading.

In another room, the bedroom in which Legolas was situated, in fact, another faced the same heartache.

"You can't do this, Legolas!" Elessar cried, shaking the elf, rocking him on the bed, anything to wake the pallid form in his arms. "You cannot die. You. Cannot. DIE!" Harsh sobs ripped from his chest as he remembered Arwen.

Elessar had been helpless to save her life. No herbs had been able to ease her pain as she lay dying. Nothing had been able to cure her illness. The only remedy, the healing gift of an Elf, had arrived two days too late. Lord Elrond's horse had gone lame after a day's desperate ride.

Yes. He remembered the pain and suffering Arwen had had to endure. And he swore he would not lose someone else he loved the way he had lost Arwen. He *could* not. It would shatter him completely.

"Please." Elessar whispered, his voice soft and shaking. "Please, Legolas. I. I love you."


Somewhere Between Life and Death


Legolas didn't know where he was. It was dark all around, and there was no light, save for his inner light. He found the place strangely silent and barren.

There had been some forms of comforting darkness. The darkness of the night sky, illuminated by only the stars hanging from the heavens. The darkness of black velvet, soft and warm to the touch.

This was not one of them.

No one else was there, and Legolas found himself feeling very alone as he looked around, trying to see if there was anyway out of the stifling darkness.

What happened to me, he wondered. Something about. soul-pain and.

And then he remembered.

I was in danger of dying from my grief. I. I must have died, Legolas decided.

He didn't quite remember dying, but it seemed to be the only reasonable explanation. Why else would he be in this all-encompassing darkness?

Perhaps the elves who died of grief found themselves in the darkness in their own hearts instead of Mandos' Halls, he wondered silently.

Shivering, he wrapped his arms around himself. A single tear trickled down his face and plummeted somewhere far, far below him. Soon, another followed. And another. And another. He sat in the nothingness, his knees bent and pulled against his chest, silent tears falling into the abyss around him, and he despaired.

I'm sorry, Elleelen, I didn't want to leave you alone. I tried to live, I really did. It was too much for me, too much grief at once. And Kasia, don't take this too hard, I didn't choose to die. Take care of each other. Remember me. I love you both as my own, and I will miss you.

Legolas sighed and pressed his face into his knees, an endless stream of grief spiraling around his shivering form. He felt so alone.

"I didn't mean to leave anyone behind," he whispered softly. Another pearl- like tear rolled down his cheeks. "I didn't. I didn't."

The darkness closed in around him.

"I didn't choose to die."

He thought of his friends, his father, his son, Kasia, and, finally, Elessar.

Elessar, he thought sadly, don't blame yourself for this. In spite of your tendency to be stubborn and arrogant, you still have a good heart. I know you will take care of Elleelen and Kasia just fine without me. I should have told you sooner how much I cared about you, regardless of what you did. I wish.

"I wish I could have told you how much I love you."

The azure eyes dimmed, and the darkness gathered, ready to kill. As the cruel, cold fangs closed in on him, one last thought flickered in his fading mind.

My Elessar. You will be a light of hope within me, when the loneliness becomes too much for me.


Back in the Kitchen


"And so, the elf answered the call of the sea and left for the west," Thranduil finished, rocking the sleeping children in his arms.

As he gently kissed the smooth brows, he only hoped he would have the chance to tell his son that the children now knew his favorite story.

To be continued