I bet… you all thought… you were never getting that epilogue?
After seven years since beginning this fic, and after four years since posting the final chapter, I had felt so burnt out that I was certain I would never find the desire to pick it back up again. However, after randomly deciding to read through some old comments/emails/messages asking about the epilogue and reminiscing through old conversations I used to have with readers, I felt both ashamed and renewed all at the same time.
PLEASE READ THIS PART! IT EXPLAINS SOME DIFFERENCES This was my first fanfiction and I had so much to learn back when I started this fic. There is a wealth of things I wish I could change and many things would have been written differently had I the experience that I've gained over the years. So, for those who might be new to the story and confused why I suddenly switch to the third person, it's because my style is so incredibly different from where it was seven years ago. Somewhere along the line I started rushing chapters and my goal of keeping everyone in character crashed and burned. I often debate attempting a new rewrite(leaving this one as it is but starting a new one), but the task is always too daunting. But heck, follow me anyways, you never know! Afterall, I never thought this epilogue would see the light of day.
All that being said, I hope and pray that this long overdue epilogue was worth the wait.
Imladris. It had been a great number of years since Legolas had last stepped foot in the last homely house east of the sea. It never ceased to amaze the young prince how beautiful the valley was, especially when painted in the moonlight's soft hues that reminisced of home. Legolas took a deep breath, admiring the scent of pine that came with every gust. Wondering how long it would be, or even if the time would ever come again when he would roam that calm valley. Knowing that at first light he would be off on a journey that could very well be his last. A fellowship had been formed, a group of nine. Of men, halflings, a wizard, and to the elf's dismay, a dwarf.
It had felt like ages since he last had dealings with any such creatures and Gimli, son of Gloin, was just as bull-headed and stubborn as Legolas could recall. It was because of dwarves barging into Mirkwood that Legolas' life had become so different. He remembered their arrogance and the cursed quest that led to the destruction of Laketown. So many lives lost, including those of the elves that fought in the battle of the five armies. And yet, he forced himself to recall one dwarf who he had come to respect, perhaps even admire if he was in the right mood to admit as much. Tonight however, he was in no such mood.
Gimli howled at something his kin had said and Legolas rolled his eyes. Suppressing a groan knowing that he must spend a great deal of time in the dwarf's company. And then when his sharp eyes caught the drunken dwarf tipping over a fragile pillar that smashed into pieces, Legolas clenched his jaw at the disrespectful nature for their humble host.
"Dwarves," he muttered under his breath. Thinking himself to be alone, he was startled by a chuckle.
"They can be a bit much, can't they?"
Legolas turned to the elf who stepped beside him. No, not an elf. Though there was a sharp edge to his ear and the fairest of skin that was distinctive of all elves, there were other traits such as the scruff at his chin that hindered any presumption of his lineage. He wore a smile that seemed familiar, but nothing of this man had a place in his memory.
"It is not my first encounter with a dwarf," Legolas replied dryly. Wishing only to be alone in that moment. The man however, either did not notice or simply ignored the hints all together.
"Gimli is young, I wager this venture will do him a lot of good. But I assure you that he is a good warrior and companion," he continued. "You just have to give him time."
"How is it that an elf of Imladris has come to know a dwarf of Erebor on such good terms?" Legolas questioned with a furrowed brow.
"Good terms? Now there is a presumption that I am not sure is entirely accurate," he chuckled. "Gimli has been quite disgusted by my very existence for much of my youth. It took a great many feats to earn his respect and even still I am not entirely sure that I am liked."
"That does not answer how an elf has come to know this dwarf so well," Legolas reminded when the young man stopped.
"I am only half-elven, Master Legolas. I travel often to the east to visit kin and other friends of my family."
At the mention of his name, Legolas tensed. Bringing his sharp eyes to rest fully upon the man beside him.
"I do not believe that I have met your acquaintance. How is it that you know mine?"
"Lord Elrond made us aware of your coming days ago, shortly after young Frodo arrived. You simply matched the description," the half-elf answered before glancing back at the rest of the fellowship. "Both my mother and father were eager of the council's arrival. We were all quite curious to see if Elrond could manage to bind all worlds together in one quest. I won't say that I am not pleased, but I was quite shocked to hear that all parties agreed to escort Master Frodo. It's not every day that elves, men, and dwarves find a way to tolerate one another."
"You've a bleak outlook on the world," Legolas noted. Remembering a time when he too thought so little of the other beings of Middle Earth.
If the man was offended by his words, it didn't show.
"I am a child of two worlds, I know better than any the fruits that come of such peace. However, I am no fool to ignore the rifts among this world," he noted before glancing back to the dwarves; a gaze that Legolas thought might border fondness.
"Who are you?" Legolas finally asked.
"My name is Calithilon," he smiled. "But most have taken to calling me Cal."
"Greetings, Calithilon," Legolas nodded. Preferring to use his elven name.
"Likewise, master elf, however I did not come on my behalf. There is someone I know who would be devastated if you are to depart without a visit."
Cal turned, gesturing down the path ahead. Asking without words for him to follow. Legolas however, had tired of the young half-elf's game and shook his head.
"The day has been trying and I wish only to retire for the night."
"I assure you, Legolas, you will not regret it," Cal insisted before a wide and mischievous smile spread upon his face. "I also assure you that I have inherited the stubbornness of my father and will not take no for an answer."
Legolas sighed, wanting nothing more than to spend the remaining hours of the night in silence while he could have it. Though, Cal's expression offered no lie and he knew that he would not be rid of the young half-elf until he honored his request. Suppressing a groan, Legolas nodded before finally choosing to follow behind the half-elf.
"My mother makes the best tea. I think you'll find it to your liking," Cal stated as they walked further away from the party.
"How long have you lived in Imladris?" he asked. As they walked Legolas was burdened with a nagging sensation that he should know this person. There were very few half-elf's that existed in Middle Earth, and he was certain that the boy was no unknown bearing of Elrond's.
"It is complicated. I was born not far from here, but as I said all throughout my childhood we would often travel east to visit my father's kin. For many years it felt as if I had two homes until our family grew larger. Traveling became quite the task and we settled here in this peaceful valley since my mother and father do not like to be away from Rivendell for too long." Cal paused. "You see, my sister before me rests here."
Legolas pushed against the temptation to implore further, but the pain in his voice put a stop to any such question. Cal then paused for a moment, as if trying to decipher the way. A moment later he appeared to remember.
"Ah, here we are. Just down this road."
"Do you often forget where your home is?" Legolas chided. Annoyed once again to be wasting his time.
"Our home lies deeper into the forest," he explained. "Arwen, daughter of Elrond, has offered hers tonight while we stay in the city."
Cal placed his hand on the handle and opened the door, holding it open behind him for Legolas to enter.
"Mother!" Cal shouted into the house. "We have company."
Not a moment later, a woman's voice called from the other room.
"Calithilon," the woman chided. "This is not our home, it is not polite to invite others without Lady Arwen's permission."
"I know, I know. But I do not think Lady Arwen will mind. After all, I thought you might want to see an old friend."
Legolas could hear the woman's footsteps approaching. As she crept from around the corner, Legolas felt his heart go still. The red-haired elf gasped in equal surprise, while Cal began chuckling beside him.
"Legolas?!" Tauriel breathed in disbelief. Nearly a century had passed since he had last laid eyes on his friend of so many years. She looked just the same, as beautiful and fair since the day he had left her. Except of course, for the dwarven braids flowing down her chest. Her garbs also appeared to be a mixture of their two peoples, and most strange of all was a small pouch that she clutched to her chest.
"Tauriel." Her whispered name was all that he could manage.
"Mellon!" Tauriel's movements were swift and in a moment Legolas was swept into her embrace. An unusual greeting for an elf he thought, but he supposed that it suited her unique way of life. It was then that he realized the purpose of the pouch at her chest, for peering at him from the warmth of its mother's embrace was a child; not more than three months old he thought. When Tauriel parted and noticed his lingering gaze, she smiled at the babe.
"This is Lily," she explained with a pride he had never seen before. Cal appeared beside her, reaching to pull his mother's head to his. Tauriel smiled as their foreheads met, enjoying a moment with her son before parting. "I see that you have met my eldest, though I had requested that he leave you unbothered during your stay."
"You have said more than once that you wished to see him, I merely ensured that you receive your visit," Cal smirked. "I shall take my leave, I am sure there is much for you to discuss."
"You should find your father and make sure that he finds his way home. You know that his judgment falters when in the presence of his kin."
"One thing you know better than any, mum, is that da' always finds his way home to you. No matter how many drinks cousin Gimli puts in him," Cal smiled. Before leaving the house, he brought a fist to his breast in typical elven fashion. "It was nice to have finally met you, Uncle Legolas."
Cal slipped out of the door and into the night, with Legolas left dazed at everything that had just transpired.
"Uncle?" Legolas raised his brow.
"Kili has taken to calling you my brother for many years. So much so that I think he has started to believe it," Tauriel explained.
"I suppose there is merit to his claim, even if it is not in blood."
Tauriel smiled at the comment.
"I had intended to come find you after your dinner, I did not want to disturb any discussion you might be having. I understand that your meeting here is of great importance," she explained.
"Supper was the least productive meeting today. Your son was right to summon me. We intend to leave at first light, early in the morning to escort the hobbit. It wounds me to think I could have missed the opportunity to see you once more."
A flash of concern covered her expression.
"So, you have accepted Lord Elrond's call?" she asked. Legolas merely nodded in agreement, still reeling at the shock of seeing his old friend once again. Though now it seemed all too obvious, and he felt a fool to have not gathered young Calithilon's lineage at first site. Tauriel's expression then dropped in a way he could not decipher. "It will be a long journey."
"You wish it was you?" he asked. Tauriel chuckled softly while shaking her head. Her chin tilted as she glanced at her daughter, reaching a hand to stroke the cheek of her young child.
"I have other duties now," she answered with a gaze fixated upon her bearing. "Though I do not deny that a part of me longs for those days as a warrior. I simply worry for you Mellon. A journey to Mordor is no easy feat."
She finally met his eyes once more.
"I will have strong companions beside me. Besides, it is the hobbit that I truly fear for. The burden that he must bear is far greater than any I have ever faced," Legolas offered before adding, "I do not know if he can do it."
Tauriel nodded at first, before offering a smile.
"Kili's friend Bilbo has told us all about young Frodo. He is confident that the young halfling is the only one who could be trusted with such a task," she explained. "But, our time is short and I do not wish to see it wasted with talks of worry. Come, tell me of your life. It has been far too long."
Tauriel listened to her former Prince's tales. He had done much traveling since they had last met so many years ago. His eyes appeared softer and wiser than she remembered. No doubt a result of the many things he had seen along the road. Legolas spoke of helping others from all over Middle Earth and of the friends he made along the way. A life very different from that of which they had both lived whilst stationed in the forest of Mirkwood.
"I had traveled this way more than once only to find your house empty," Legolas explained. "I was not sure where you had gone. I had come to fear that I would never see you again."
"For many years we stayed in Erebor. Lady Dis preferred it to be that way, but it was not always easy. Many of the dwarves tried but still did not understand how a dwarf could ever give himself to an elf. I was willing to endure their judgement until Calithilon began to suffer because of it," Tauriel sighed. "I could not stand the way some treated him, mocked and ridiculed just for being born by those who hardly even knew my name. We spoke of it for a long time and after a time both Kili and I wished to return home."
She watched her friend's expression shift between sorrow and anger.
"I am sorry," Legolas whispered.
"Not all Erebor was unkind. We write often to those who care to keep in touch. Fili and Dis, most of all. But no matter, we had always been torn on leaving our first born behind. I think our paths would have led us back even with perfect treatment within the mountain."
Legolas nodded, no doubt remembering that terrible moment that he had the misfortune to witness and the grief that followed. Tauriel shivered as she always did when remembering how close she had come to fading. Legolas quickly tried to change the subject.
"Now you have two bearings."
Tauriel merely smiled.
"Not exactly," she began. However, just at that moment they were interrupted by a ruckus at the front door and seconds later two younglings tumbled into the room loudly.
"Mum! Mum! Look what cousin Gimli brought us!" One of the twins shouted in excitement, holding a stone out for his mother to see. The boy's sister was quick to hold up her own rock.
"He said they are magic rocks!" the girl shouted.
"Kai, Ellie, there is no need to shout," Kili finally entered the room only to stop in his tracks upon seeing their guest. "By my beard, look who it is! It appears we have an assortment of reunions tonight."
The twins appeared uninterested in their visitor as they clambered into Tauriel's lap to show her their new gifts. She chuckled softly at her eccentric children, kissing each of their foreheads before examining their so-called "magic"rocks.
"They are beautiful, I do hope that you thanked him?" Tauriel raised her brow expectantly.
"Yes mother," Ellie smiled sweetly.
"Yeah, even though da' says that cousin Gimli has a skull thicker than a ram's hide!" Kai shouted excitedly.
"Okay! Time for bed, children," Kili interrupted before their son could continue the insult. Tauriel narrowed her eyes at her husband for teaching them such vulgar language and Kili merely raised his hands in surrender. "It slipped! Now come on, give your mother a kiss and it's off to bed."
"But we're not tired!"
Tauriel cupped Ellie's cheek and placed a kiss on her forehead before doing the same to her brother.
"To bed," she stated as firmly as possible while still being loving. "The deal was that you could stay up long enough to go with your father."
"None of that," said Kili, "if you get dressed in your nightgowns within the next five minutes, I'll tell you about the time I was nearly eaten by mountain trolls."
Both children perked right up and leapt from her lap. Shouting a hasty goodnight as they rushed to their borrowed room. Kili remained, chuckling as he watched them go.
"I see your younglings are more dwarven than they are elvish," Legolas smirked.
"Only the twins, master elf," Kili explained with a smile as he made his way to his wife. Tauriel adjusted her hold on their baby so that he could reach Lily, who had somehow managed to remain deep in slumber amongst the ruckus of her older siblings. "This one is yet to be discovered, though she already acts more like Cal did when he was a babe. She will no doubt be a spitting image of her mother."
Tauriel smiled as he kissed their baby's forehead, causing Lily to stir from the texture of his beard.
"Shall I take her to bed while you two catch up?" Kili asked in a roundabout way of seeking his turn to hold the baby. Tauriel began to lift Lily from the pouch, careful not to wake her as he took her gently into his arms. She squirmed at the disturbance and her face scrunched before her father's warmth could be felt.
"She'll need to be changed soon."
"Nothing we can't handle, right little one?" Kili beamed over their child. When he turned his attention back to his wife, Tauriel leaned to receive his kiss. Years of marriage having stripped them both of any care in the world to have others witness their affection. Upon parting, Kili whispered good night before offering a final glance to Legolas. "Good to see you, Blondie."
He smirked as he walked from the room. Legolas narrowed his eyes, but was not without a smile on his face.
"I see that he has not changed much. Except for a thicker beard I suppose."
Tauriel chuckled softly as the room fell into an uncomfortable silence. She suddenly missed the warmth of her daughter at her chest. She glanced at Legolas, unsure what to say now that they were alone. So long had it truly been since they had been alone. A moment later, Legolas finally broke the silence.
"You have four bearings," Legolas corrected his early assumption. Tauriel had to refrain from chuckling at his expression, knowing how rare it was for any elf to raise more than one child in under a hundred years. It was certainly not a typical life for an elf, though nothing of her life had ever been typical.
"Kili wanted a large family," she smiled. A second later her heart ached at a nagging thought that next sprung from her lips, "he is mortal. I did not wish to deny him the chance to see more than one child to maturity."
Legolas remained quiet while nodding in understanding.
"You are as good a mother as you were Captain of the Guard."
"I am not so sure that is a compliment. Afterall, I did marry one of our prisoners after defying our king on multiple occasions," she reminded playfully; happy to be sharing a laugh with her friend once again. "How is Mirkwood?"
"I do not know, most of my days are spent on the road," Legolas answered. He then ducked from her gaze. "It seems I will not be returning home for many days, if at all."
A terrible dread fell upon her, one that had plagued her since learning of young Frodo's arrival and what evil he carried. Her eyes drifted to the halls where her family had gone to rest.
"These are dark times," she said quietly, with tears swelling to the edge of her lids.
"Tauriel?" Legolas whispered, taking notice of her sudden turmoil. She swallowed at the lump in her throat, feeling selfish for allowing the emotions to show. Especially when it was Legolas who would soon risk his life for the safety of the whole world. For the safety of Tauriel and her whole family.
"I often wonder if I should go. To leave my children here under Lord Elrond's protection and take up arms against this enemy before they can reach my family." Tauriel shuttered. Wondering what would be the worser fate? To die out there on the cold battlefield where her children's eyes were safe from such a sight? Or to die in their presence, shielding them with her body for as long as she could manage. Either fate was grim and to Tauriel's horror, either option seemed inevitable. "I have never felt so powerless."
"Mellon," Legolas stated softly. "Your place is here with your family. I am honored to go in your stead and you have my word that I will do everything in my power to ensure that such a fate does not become of you. Please trust me my friend, as you once did."
Tauriel reached out at last to take her friend's hand in her own. "I always have, and I always shall."
Legolas merely smiled. "Then tell me, why it is you worry?"
Tauriel chuckled through silent tears, squeezing his hand in response.
"I suppose you are right," she sighed. "Besides, it is foolish to worry about a future that I cannot control."
"Indeed," he smiled. Legolas waited a moment later before rising to his feet. "It is late, I should prepare for my journey."
Tauriel nodded, though her heart fell. "Will we see you before you depart?"
"I will stop in early in the morn for one last visit," Legolas promised before smirking. "Afterall, I might need some advice from your husband on how to deal with this dwarf that I must travel with."
"You'll need more than a mere morning to receive proper instruction," Tauriel chuckled with her friend. "It was good to see you again."
Legolas shook his head in response. "I will not say goodbye. Not yet. Instead, I shall bid you a good night."
Tauriel smiled as he turned to head towards the door. "Goodnight, my friend."
Kili had barely begun to dream when he was awoken by a movement in the bed beside him. He reached into the dark for his wife without opening his eyes and smiled when met with her tender touch. His wife's fingers were soft against his as they strode along his knuckles, turning so that their palms might meet before tugging to pull her nearer. The sudden warmth at his side was nearly enough to lull him back to sleep, if not for the kiss she offered shortly after. Tauriel's affection was always the same. Always gentle, always sweet, and he would have it no other way. Their hands parted along with her lips, as he saw her shadow reach to stroke the baby sleeping on his chest.
"She did not like her basket?" Tauriel asked quietly.
"I don't think she likes to be alone in a stranger's house," he answered.
She merely hummed in understanding, resting her head upon his chest just above Lily.
"And the twins?"
"They were out before I even got to the part where I was tossed in sack to be roasted."
"Of all the stories to tell them, you chose that one," she grumbled. He merely smiled wider.
"Well, I suppose that it might be time to tell them about the time their mother tossed me in a jail cell."
"How about the time that I saved their father from being a spider's feast?" she teased. Together they chuckled before stopping in an instant when their baby stirred. Lily stretched and cooed for a moment before returning to sleep once more.
"How is Legolas?" Kili asked in curiosity.
"He is well. You should have stayed to speak with him."
"I did not want to rob you of any time," he answered. "Besides, we'll see him off tomorrow."
"Yes, he is most eager to speak with you about your cousin," she chuckled softly.
"I do not think that he is looking forward to an adventure by his side."
Kili scoffed playfully. "I suppose I'll have to break him in. Perhaps another bow competition?"
"I am sure he will appreciate that," she smirked sarcastically. "Where is Calithilon tonight? He did not return."
"You know Cal, he's off helping Gandolf gather supplies and tending to their horses," he sighed contently while his fingers roamed gently along her back. "We raised a good one, my love."
Tauriel hummed in agreement.
"Are you still worried about the ring?" Kili asked, hoping that the elven prince had eased her worries. However, his heart fell when she shifted against him to bury her eyes against his chest. If not for the thickness of his shirt, he was certain that he would feel her tears. Kili tightened his hand around her back and kissed the top of her head; wishing he had forgone the question.
"I have heard all the tales of that ring. If they are not successful in destroying it, all is lost. Our family," she paused, "will be lost. How am I to not worry about such a thing?"
"I know darling, but there is no sense in ruining the present with fright for the future. Do you not think I have that same fear?" he asked.
"If you have any such fear, you do not show it," she sighed. Kili merely smirked.
"Dwarven head, my love. Thicker than a ram's hide."
He was more than pleased with himself for eliciting a small laugh from her. She then sighed once again, though this time in content.
"Get some sleep, melleth. It will be an early morning if we wish to see them off."
"I suppose you're right. I now wonder if siccing the twins on him will be a better preparation for his journey with Gimli?"
"Be kind, Kili," she said sternly, though he knew that there was a smile on her face. "We would not want them to mistake your jests for truth."
"They know very well that I love them with all my heart," he affirmed. "Though, I suppose you are right."
"Of course I am," she teased. "Now, to sleep. I wish to listen to your heart while I rest."
"Will you sing me to sleep?" he asked with a smile.
"You are worse than the twins," she smirked.
"And yet you love me just the same."
"Always. No matter what the future might hold."
Friends, I have now written for a few different fandoms and let me tell you, NONE of them have ever come close to holding a candle to how amazing the Hobbit/LOTR fandom was. I think of conversations with the frequent commentors on this story often, and how much I loved interacting with every single one of you.
God bless you all and know that I tear up thinking about all the conversations we used to have back in the day. I bid you all a very fond farewell!