He has a bad feeling.

It is one that has been growing with every day that he sees the light fade slowly from Tauriel's eyes, every day that her movements weaken, that her will to live slips away despite his attempts to hold her to this earth.

It is that bad feeling that wakes him from his troubled sleep tonight, and he just knows that she does not have much time left.

He lays in his bed, staring at the ceiling for a long moment while emotions writhe painfully in his chest. With a deep sigh he throws the covers back, kicking his feet over the side and groping for his robes. He tugs the fine silks carelessly over his head and makes his way silently to the adjoining bedroom, where he had Tauriel moved after the battle. When she had started to fade.

She is curled in the bed as if she is cold, knees tucked up against her chest and her body trembling. Her red hair is spilled over the pillow like blood, the color emphasized by the paleness of her skin.

The room is dark, impersonal, pressing in on them both, and Thranduil cannot stand to let her stay here for a minute longer.

"Tauriel," he says, touching her shoulder to wake her. She blinks up at him dazedly. "The stars are lovely tonight. Come see them."

She nods, dragging herself to a sitting position and swinging her legs over the side of the bed. When she tries to stand, however, her knees buckle beneath her. Thranduil scoops her into his arms before she hits the floor, and carries her from her room.

The evening is warm - spring has arrived at long last - and there is a light breeze blowing through the forest. Thranduil carries her to a clearing where the view of the sky is not obstructed, and he settles himself on a bench, wrapping his robe about her shoulders to make sure she doesn't get chilled.

Tauriel glances up, her green eyes catching the starlight, and she lets out a soft breath in contentment. He brushes a stray curl of hair from her face, cradling her close unashamedly.

"Tell me a story?" she whispers, and his soft laugh is marred when his breath catches painfully in his throat in what might have been a sob.

He tells her of Beren and Luthien. It is a tale she has no doubt heard a dozen times as a child, but he finds that the story suits her, and tells it again. Her eyes flutter shut a few times during his tale, and he sees her tear up as he tells of the lovers. He brings his thumb to brush the drips from her cheeks but does not stop his tale, does not dare, because if he does not continue to speak he may start to cry and he is not willing to let that happen.

Not yet.

It is a good while later that he brings his tale to a close, and he sits for a long moment afterward staring up at the stars. Tauriel lies still in his arms, and for one desperate, foolish moment, he lets himself think that perhaps she has fallen asleep.

However, when he looks down at her he can no longer see the rise and fall of her chest, and he knows before he checks her pulse that she has passed from this world.

It's funny, he thinks as he brushes his trembling fingers over her eyelids to close them, he had always figured that if Tauriel was to die it would be out on the battlefield, a war cry on her lips and bathed in the blood of her enemies; not quiet and still, cradled in his arms like a babe.

But in a way it is also fitting that he is the one to hold her as she leaves this life. He had been the one to pull her from the flames when her family had been killed, and he is the one to hold her now, in her final moments.

He presses a kiss to the crown of her head, feeling his heart clench with pain as he presses his eyes closed to stop the burning tears.

"Goodbye, sweet child," he murmurs into her hair, gathering her small, fragile form to his chest. "May your soul find rest."

Her body is cold in his arms, and for the first time in centuries, he allows himself to weep.