A/N: Hello people! This is me, back with the very last chapter of this emotional story. I poured far too much of myself in this, and I feel very sad leaving it behind... Although it is complete, so I should be happy too.
I thank each and every one of you who has read this, and the wonderful reader who left me one of the kindest reviews I've ever received. Hope you enjoy this last ride.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Hobbit or any of its characters. I only played around with it for my own personal purposes.
Tauriel honestly didn't know how she had come to feel so happy. Nor if she truly deserved it.
Several weeks after Bard's crowning, she was there, living in a palace, taking care of official and unofficial business as if she was the queen, and no one questioned it. No one at all. Not even the Dwarves' emissaries, who bowed to her when she came to fetch a message at the door.
The respect these people showed her was even more puzzling that she did not know how she had gained it. Until of course she'd realise that the children had been spreading tales of their wonderful surrogate-mother – the word never failed to make her feel faint – and her achievements.
It was also rather surprising to see how Bard and herself had fallen into somewhat of a domestic pace without ever having voiced their feelings out loud or made any move other than the kiss he had placed on her cheek that fateful night. They sometimes linked their hands or sat very close to each other, but neither for too long.
That morning, she should by any means have felt horrible. She remembered the day as if it had been yesterday. Two years prior by then. And yet, the grief had settled in her heart and left behind it a pleasant glow of affection she knew was directed at Kíli. He had been her first love. She now had another one. Or rather, four other ones.
She was currently being steered in the third floor corridor by Tilda, her eyes blindfolded by Sigrid who was standing behind her. She could hear Bain's unrestrained chuckle and could feel Bard's presence in the hall as well.
A week prior, she had been asked by 'her' children to vacate her room for "remodelling". She had smelt the paint all the way down to the basement of the building, but that didn't mean she didn't like surprises.
"One, two, three, open!" She was suddenly free of Sigrid's hands, and her green eyes opened and widened at the same time.
A forest. Her room had been turned into a forest.
Ivy climbed onto the far off wall, stretching its leaves and branches over every inch of it and part of the ceiling. She could see some of the leaves had been painted gold, but that the plant was alive, a large pot of it having been placed into two corners.
The wall that housed the two windows had been painted as well in a beautiful trompe-l'oeil of trees, two of which prevailed on the others. Two trees, one with a single and simple trunk; the other with three branches climbing into the canopy of painted leaves. Names had been etched onto the painting. On the simple tree, her name; on the other tree, Bard's name and the children's on the three branches. Both trees merged into one at the top, and someone – she suspected Sigrid – had drawn the Elvish word for 'family' in golden letters.
She blindly reached for the hand of any member of that family, and felt Tilda's small fingers in hers. Sigrid's hand placed itself on her shoulder; Bain's arm went around her waist; and Bard claimed her other hand. She met his gaze, her eyes misty with tears. He smiled warmly and nodded.
This was her home.
She was home.
"I wish to show you something," he had simply said, and she had followed. She had not asked why he was wearing his crown, or why two horses were waiting for them in front of the palace. One of these horses did not have a saddle and she smiled at his kind gesture.
He was glad she had not asked where they were going and merely trusted him. He did not know if he really would have known what words to use.
Tauriel remained effectively silent until they stopped at the Mountain Gate. Her green eyes sought his, and she raised a brow in a silent question.
He smiled. "We are expected."
They climbed the steep stairs, and he studied her stance. She had never been to the Mountain, he knew. He also knew she'd most probably feel claustrophobic in such a place, but they would not be there for long.
Kind Dain welcomed them as warmly as a prejudiced Dwarf could, and directed them to the mausoleum. Tauriel, not knowing where they were going, still was sending him questioning glances.
All of that stopped when they stepped into the huge cavernous room.
It was the size of a temple, in Bard's opinion. Statues loomed dangerously over the visitors, but Tauriel's eyes were glued to the three tomb-chests and effigies that were their only company.
She looked at him and again, there was a silent question in her then teary eyes.
He placed a comforting hand on her shoulder and she reached for it, gripping it tight. "I thought you'd like to say goodbye properly. Dain said you could come whenever you wished, so long as you were accompanied."
She took his other hand, squeezing it as tight as the other. "Thank you," she breathed, and they both moved to the farthest tomb, the effigy of her beloved Prince welcoming them there as if he was merely sleeping.
Bard had visited once before. In a way, he had been wondering if it'd be a good idea to bring Tauriel there, for closure. He had been impressed to see how much the stone looked like the Princes and their Uncle. Thorin's stern face looked at peace there, and he had found himself talking to the fallen King. They had not known each other long, but the Dwarf had made quite an impression.
Tauriel left one of his hands to trace Kíli's stony brow, and she let out a sob. She turned to look at him, and said simply "Hold me," to which he found himself taking her in his arms as she placed a shaking hand on the Prince's chest and wept.
She had needed this, he knew.
And he'd be there, holding her, until she did not wish him to anymore…
A/N2: And there it is my lovelies. Hope you liked that ending which was as sad and gentle as the rest. I'll see you soon enough with another Hobbit tale to tell, but until then, vanye sulie!