Authors Note.

I do not own any of these characters, they all belong to JRR Tolkien and his estate. With the exception of any of my OC's that are created for the purpose of the story.

For any of you who have read 'Returning home' you will noticed that I am reusing Ava, only spelling her name a bit differently. Her past and story are different here, however. But her character remains more or less the same.

Any time a character speaks in complete Italics, they are speaking in elvish.

I love to hear from any and all of you that read my writing, it is one of my most favorite things to see. So please, do not hesitate to leave a review or private message me if you have anything to say.

Thank you all, and I hope you enjoy reading!

..

The entrance to the forest of Mirkwood loomed imposingly overhead, the tall tree's reaching almost impossibly high into the sky and gently swaying in the breeze. The three smaller companions, two hobbits and a dwarf, shifted a little uneasily at the sight. All of their lives they had heard nothing but horror stories of the land within the woods, about dark and twisted creatures that lurked underneath the canopy. About the river that ran through the wood that had the power to put those into a terribly deep sleep, deeper than any have ever felt before. About the heavy air that descended confusion onto those trapped in it, causing them to forget all of their sense and wander in aimless circles. And worst of all, especially in the dwarfs case, of the proud and exceedingly dangerous elven king that dwelt in the heart of it. Vicious, yet rarely encountered.

The company paused at the crest of the hill for a moment to take in the sight, except for the blond elf who called these dangerous tree's home. The entire morning's ride here, he had been incredibly restless, so much so that Gimli had neglected riding with him for the first time in many months and instead choose to share a horse with Aragorn. The dwarf had grown tired of his friends fleeting nature, and apparent burning desire to ride out to nearly every tree they passed on the road. While the others stopped for a moment, Legolas only spurred his horse ever faster, a grin nearly splitting his fair face as he finally raced towards his home.

"Are we quite sure that it's safe?" Pippin asked, looking up and behind himself to look at the elf which he was riding with, face painted with worry.

The oldest son of Elrond, Elladan, looked down at his hobbit companion with a small smirk playing on his lips, "No"

Beside them, Aragorn gave his brother a withering look of disapproval, "Fear not Pippin. I am sure the elven king has set to driving out the darkness from his woods, and I would not be surprised if he had already rid the tree's of it completely. Besides, we plan to take the elven road, one of the only routes still able to be used even in the forests darkest times."

Still, the hobbits nerves seemed not the slightest bit unruffled after Aragorn's comment. Elladan took pity on the small creature, "My brother and I have managed to travel through these tree's on many occasions, even under its darkness. If we were able accomplish it then, I see no reason we would be unable to do it now."

"And we are with the elfling" Elrohir added, the younger of the twins who rode with Merry, and gave a nod in Legolas' direction, "There is no safer company to be in."

"Until Thranduil gets ahold of him, that is" Elladan smirked, spurring his horse forward once more in order to catch up with the prince before he ventured too far into the tree's.

Gimli tried his best not to grimace, as Aragorn followed suit. Every story his father had told him running through his head simultaneously. It was no secret that Elves and Dwarves were of low opinions of one another, but the Elven King seemed to have a much deeper hatred. And his last encounter with Dwarves, specifically Gimli's kin, did not help matters at all. He only hoped that Legolas would be able to keep anything too horrible from happening to him.

As the company entered the forest, they found Legolas much closer than they had expected. He stood transfixed before a pair of identical statues that stood on either side of the road. His horse grazed happily on the grass nearby, completely forgotten. The three brothers exchanged worried glances with one another, but said nothing to interrupt the moment Legolas seemed to be having.

The statue depicted a tall elven woman, her long hair let loose behind her and carved as though it was blowing slightly in the wind. She carried a basket of what appeared to be wild flowers in one hand, while the other stretched out in a welcoming gesture. A kind smile graced her face, and a crown of flowers rested gently on her head.

"Who's that?' Pippin asked, craning his neck around to look at Elladan once again.

Legolas answered before any other had the chance, yet did not turn his attention from the statue, "It is my mother."

Reaching out a hand, he brushed a few of the leaves which had come to rest on her likeness, "She left this world when I was still very young, my father had these built in her honor. He always said she ought to be the one to greet any visitors to our realm, for it is no secret that he can not always be the most, welcoming, host."

Legolas slowly paced around the statue, searching for any other foliage that dared to rest upon his mother, "He had them remake the statutes no less than five times, until he was satisfied. When the darkness came to my home, twisted vines insisted on covering her no matter how many times I cut them off."

He finally turned his attention to his companions, his face holding a kind of deep sadness Pippin wasn't sure he understood completely, "I never had the heart to tell my father of it, although I suspect he was aware of it."

A somber moment hung in the air, as Legolas gazed back into his mother's face.

Then, the sadness vanasehd from both his face and his eyes as if it had never been there to begin with. His cheerful smile slid back into its rightful place, and Gimli felt his chest release the tightness it had held upon seeing the heartbreak on his friends face.

"I am glad she is now free, to bask under the sunlight and greet our visitors once more." He turned back towards the trail, plunging forwards, gliding a hand over his mother's outstretched one as he went, "Come! There is still much distance to travel yet, my friends!"

The others obeyed the command, starting their horses forward once more, Legolas' horse following as well while his master neglected both to ride him and use of the path completely. Opting instead for weaving energetically throughout the tree's on either side of the road, brushing his hands along every trunk and leaf that he could. The tree's for their part, shook more heavily even though the wind had not changed, as if shaking with excitement for their beloved Prince's return.

Several hours had passed, as the company still made their way along the elven road, the hobbits gazing about in open astonishment. The tree's here did not grow quite as tall as the ones in Lorien had, but they somehow appeared to be greener, and the air happier. Several times they had startled a herd of deer, along with several small woodland creatures. A squirrel had chatted unhappily at them as they passed under its tree, stopping only when Legolas called to it softly in elvish. As they got deeper into the tree's the songs of birds colored the air, responding happily when Legolas whistled or sang to them.

When they saw their first bird, Legolas gently held his hand out to it and whistled a little tune to it. The bird had tilted its head to one side, singing a tune back before flapping forward to land on the prince's hand briefly. The elf had whistled another tune to it, while his other hand came up to stroke its head lightly. Once his hand fell back to his side and the song ended, the bird flew off into the tree's once more.

Legolas had turned back to Aragorn then, tears shining in his eyes and his joy nearly palpable in the air, "She's back, Estel. I thought we would lose her to the darkness, but she's strong. The creatures are once again returning to fill her heart, and my peoples joyful songs are greening her leaves."

Aragorn had grinned back at his friend, "She is a stubborn wood, like the one who rules her. And those who protect her."

Legolas matched the rangers smile, and then once more loped off into the woods, no less energetically than he had the first time.

"I don't think I've ever seen the lad so happy" Gimli commented, watching the blond head bob, weave and dance beneath his trees. "I hardly think I've seen anybody so happy."

Elladan and his brother laughed, "He is a joyful soul, our elfling." The oldest said.

"I am glad that he has an opportunity to show it once more." Aragorn commented, unable to keep a smile from his face, even as he shook his head in slight exasperation at his friend. At times he leaped so far into the tree's that he was out of their sight, and just when the hobbits began to believe he wouldn't be returning to their side, he came bounding back.

"He's about to be much happier." Elrohir joined in, pointing a finger forwards down the path on which they traveled.

At first, Gimli and the Hobbits couldn't see what the elf was referring to, but after a second or two they could make out a shape as it came sliding around the corner in front of them.

It was an elleth at the end of their path, from the distance the mortal could make out little of her features except for the long mane of black hair that swung around her. Had they the elven vision of those in their company, they would have seen large green eyes staring forward impossibly hopefully. Twin knives were strung to her back, and she wore a simple tunic and leggings, not unsimilar to those that Legolas wore, with several warriors braids doing their very best to keep her hair as tamed as it could be.

Her chest heaved with deep breaths, as she continued to stand at the head of the path.

Far to their left, Legolas stilled in his movements, suddenly frozen as if by a spell. His head whipped back around, and he ran back towards the path as quickly as his legs could carry him, leaping gracefully over any obstacle that might have been in his way.

"What happening? Who's that?" Pippin asked, but was ignored by the others as they watched the prince race forwards.

He hadn't reached the road for more than half a breath, before the elleth started forward once more, moving as quickly as Legolas had moments before. Her legs made long strides, her hair trailing behind her as she ran. Legolas for his part, seemed frozen again for a moment, as he took in the sight before him.

He made a few steps forward as well, as she drew nearer to him, and braced himself for she did not slow down before she crashed into him. Her arms circling around his neck, and pulling him against her, as his arms wrapped around her waist just as tightly.

Still holding her tightly he spun in a few circles, to keep the momentum of her collison from knocking him off his feet. Her face was buried in his neck, but his face was free for all to see the few tears that slipped from his eyes.

The pair held one another for a moment, before they broke apart. Legolas reached out and cupped both of her cheeks in his hands, and brought her forehead to rest against his, both of their eyes closed.

Opening her eyes, the Elleth broke away from him, running her hands across his face, down his chest, and then down his arms almost frantically. "Are you alright?" She demanded in elvish, continuing to exam him swiftly

"I am fine" He answered, allowing her to turn him roughly in a circle, to inspect his back as well.

"All ten fingers?" Without waiting for his reply, she reached both hands down to grasp his, and examine them for herself.

"And toes" He confirmed, then added with a grin, "I can take my boots off if you would like proof"

She ignored his cheeky comment entirely, "You are sure that you are fine?"

"As positive as I have ever been."

"Good." She answered with a breath of relief, taking half a step back to examine him fully once more. They looked at one another for a breath, before she threw her arms around his neck once more, he smiled into her hair and pulled her tighter.

Without warning she pulled back swiftly, shoving him roughly in the chest and causing him to take a step backwards. "What were you thinking!" She nearly shouted at him, causing both the hobbits to flinch.

"Mordor? You went to mordor? In the company of two men and four hobbits!" She shoved him in his chest once more, and he allowed it even though he could have easily defended himself.

"And Mithrandir" He attempted to defend

"Oh! And Mithrandir! The wizard who thought eleven dwarves and a hobbit could defeat a dragon? That Mithrandir?" She gave a few more small pushes to punctuate each question.

"That is the Mithrandir, yes"

The hobbits continued to look on curiously, surprised to find that although the elleth was shouting and shoving at him their elven friend seemed entirely unfazed by it. He still had a slight smile on his face, and his eyes held their twinkle.

"To Mordor!" She repeated, "Do you know what could have happened to you? You could have been severely wounded, Legolas. You could have been killed! Or worse! There could have been countless unfortunate outcomes!" She seemed to have given up on shoving him, but her voice and her green eyes still held their fire.

"But it didn't"

"But it could have! Do you have any idea how worried your Adar was? How worried I was?" She paused in her tirade, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath to regain a semblance of calm.

The smile slipped from his face, "I did not want to worry him. I did not mean to." Reaching out, he grasped her hand, her eyes opening once more to look back at his face, her expression softening considerably "I am sorry to have worried you. I worried for the both of you as well, every night I worried."

The two stared at one another again. Hers set into a determined frown, his in open sincerity. "I am sorry, Avaleina. Truly sorry." He repeated.

When she still did not say anything he added, "Will you forgive me?"

Her face wasn't able to hold onto its frown for much longer, and it soon slipped from her face. She flung her arms around him once more, whispering "I'm just glad that you are home. In one piece"

Wearing a frown of his own now, he pulled back from her, and directed his gaze towards her stomach. "What this?"

He did not wait for an answer before his hands reached out and gently lifted the hem of her shirt, revealing a heavily bandaged torso. A spot of blood leaked from it on her left side, not even to be concerned about, but the Princes frown deepened nonetheless

She looked down, unconcerned, "We became aware of a spiders nest, far to the west, a bit over one week ago. Thranduil ordered it destroyed. There were more spiders there than we had anticipated, while I was engaged with one another thought I might look better in two pieces, rather than one."

His frown remained on his face, and chastised "You should not have been running like that, with such a wound"

Her lips quirked upwards, "And you should not have gone tramping across Arda with an army of nine."

Legolas threw his head back and let out a laugh, causing the tree's to tremble once more, "As you will"

For the first time since he had spotted the Elleth, he seemed to remember his companions who stood behind them, a captive audience to their reunion. Finally, he turned back around to look at them. Gimli looked incredibly uncomfortable, feeling as if he had spied on a private moment. The hobbits were openly curious, while the other three companions only smiled at the Elleth, and Aragorn are gave a small wave.

Both sons of Elrond slid off of their horses, and approached her. Both speaking in the common tongue as a courtesy for those who didn't understand the elvish language.

"You are a sight for sore eyes" Elladan greeted, allowing her to kiss him merrily on the cheek before pulling her in for a hug.

"And we've been traveling with this lot for weeks, my eyes are very sore indeed" Elrohir added, also receiving a kiss on the cheek and pulling her in for a hug of his own.

"You are not much a pretty site yourself!" Aragorn retorted, sounding affronted, while also sliding off of his horse.

"And the smells coming from you hurts my nose" One twin commented

"And your snoring hurts my ears" The other finished, both smiling at their littler brother good naturedly.

"Hush you two" The Elleth commented giving a small glare to the twins, and then turned her full attention to Aragorn.

"Estel! It has been much too long since I have seen your face, and I congratulate you on both your betrothal and your crown" She threw her arms around the man as well, pulling back with a slightly wrinkled face, "and insist you take a bath"

Instead of taking offense to the comment, the former ranger and now king only laughed. He had long since grown accustomed to such teasing, for elves had been blessed with the gift of never smelling badly after long days of travel. Or battle. Unlike mortals, who according to the fair folk, could be smelled from several leagues away.

The elleth turned her attention then to the three who remained on their horses, her eyes slid easily over the two hobbits and landed solidly on Gimli. He set his shoulders straight and his back went rigid under her gaze, preparing himself for the worst of reactions. He might have sent Legolas a pleading look, had he been inclined to take his eyes off of his potential enemy, which he wasn't

"This is Gimli," Legolas introduced, sensing his friend's distress. He smiled warmly at the dwarf, attempting to convey that he would have nothing to fear from the elleth. "He has gone across the lengths of this world onto the very gates of Mordor with me, and back again. We have fought many battles together, and he has saved my life many times. He is very dear to me"

The Elleth only blinked at him a few more times, and the dwarf kept expecting to see anger or disgust in her features but there was none. Perhaps only mild curiosity. He tilted his head to her slightly in a show of respect, and was startled when she reciprocated the gesture.

"And the hobbits, Pippin and Merry" Legolas indicated which name belonged to which halfing, "the bravest of their people, and quite potentially the hungriest. There are well known to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the one Adar named Elven Friend"

She inclined her head to both hobbits as well, gracing them with a bright smile, "Any friend of Bilbo Baggins, is a friend of the Woodland Realm."

"I am Avaleina" The elleth introduced, her eyes coming back to rest on Gimli

"My dearest, and oldest friend. Also my betrothed" Legolas added, with no small amount of affection "There is not a time in my life where I do not remember her presence, and for that I am eternally thankful."

She gave Legolas another bright smile, before returning her eyes once more to Gimli. Who nearly choked on his own tongue upon hearing the news that his elven friend was engaged. Never had Legolas even brought this elleth up in conversation, the only time he had ever heard her mentioned was if Aragorn told a tale of his times in Greenwood. He had come to accept that Legolas was incredibly private, and alltoagether unforthcoming, but to keep an engagement a secret?

Gimli's thoughts derailed almost immediately as he noticed the Elleth was still staring at him. Nearly holding his breath, he prepared for the worst, meanwhile Legolas did not look the least bit concerned.

"Welcome, all of you, to Greenwood." She smiled at all of them once more, giving Gimi the brightest one.

And the tension drained from his body, and he huffed out a breath. Relieved that there would not be a confrontation. But his back stiffened once more thought, upon the Avaleina's next sentence. Even if she said it with laughter in her voice.

"Good luck explaining the dwarf to your father."

I hope you enjoyed it and please remember to leave me a review!