For all those who reviewed… thank you so much for the encouragement. It meant a lot to me. This chapter is for you! =)

Epilogue

Many years later…..

Elrond had made the announcement earlier that week. The Eldar would be represented on this quest to Mordor by the youngest prince of Greenwood. Glorfindel himself thought it was an excellent choice, for Legolas, while still very young amongst their people, was indeed highly skilled with both knife and bow; his prowess honed in the dark recesses of southern Mirkwood. Furthermore, he was Estel's best friend and had already developed a certain fondness for the little Halflings. He was a steadfast companion, with strength of heart and character, ever bright and true. Legolas was yet young enough to feel sufficiently compelled to fight for the lands of Middle Earth when so many of the elves were leaving these shores. All in all, Legolas was truly a worthy representative on this most crucial of missions.

Yet, there was a resigned sadness that descended upon Glorfindel, that it should come to this.

Glorfindel had always thought that the end would come with another Dagorlad. And as the consummate warrior, he had always expected to fight to the last in it. This was infinitely harder for him, to know that instead, they would send off a peculiarly diverse troupe of (it would seem to him) children, and one wizard, on the morrow to face myriad perils and danger unspeakable. There was a measure of wisdom in this, yet Glorfindel could not find any peace of heart or mind. The simmering tension that had been steadily building up over the last two months of reconnaissance and scouting missions was now coming to a head. They had all known what they were preparing for. Tomorrow, he would stand on the steps of the Last Homely House and bid farewell to Thranduil's youngest child as he accompanied a Halfling to Mordor and a King of Men to his destiny.

The innocent Halflings should have had no part in this. He wished they could have lived out their days in the gentle peacefulness of the Shire, where evil could not touch them. But sadly, that was not quite true any longer and even that was not the greatest of his sorrows this night. Glorfindel had known Mithrandir for millennia now, and had watched Estel grow from boy to man but it was Legolas he felt the most anguish for. Mayhap because he was a fellow elf, or the son of a dearest friend. He could only imagine how Elrond was planning to break the news to Thranduil. I have just sent your most beloved child to his doom in the black wastes of Mordor where you saw your own father and two thirds of your warriors perish. No, he must not think that way. Cling to hope, no matter how faint it flickers. Valar willing, there was yet a chance that this Quest might succeed! He could do that, for the ray of sunshine that had renewed the glimmer in his own heart all those years ago.

A cold winter wind whistled through the open corridor where he stood. From here, he could see the lights of the Hidden Valley beyond the majestic falls and let the rushing water soothe his fears. He gazed up at the stars, where Eärendil shone brightly this evening. T'was a good omen on this blackest of nights. Silently he sent a prayer to the Valar, that they might watch over these nine brave souls who carried the hope of all.

Soft footsteps interrupted his thoughts and he turned to see Legolas standing beside him. He smiled a gentle smile at the young prince and placed an arm of affection around the slender shoulders. Together they watched the dance of the stars awhile, no words needed. The memory of another time like this came to mind and Glorfindel felt a swell of pride for this young elf who had grown up before his eyes, through dark times and light, from the merry elfling who sat on his knee to the skilled archer of renown, yet ever with a song in his heart and a gentle word for all who needed it. Yes, this light had stayed unsullied no matter how long the shadows had grown.

Would it be enough, would this light stay pure, even in the face of what was to come? Suddenly he understood what Thranduil had meant all those years ago. But for now, he would return the favour and he would do what he could to reassure this young elf on the eve of the most momentous journey of his young life. He hugged Legolas closer and was glad when the younger elf leaned into the comforting embrace.

He knew the trees too were bidding their farewells to this Wood-elf in their midst. For all trees loved Wood-elves, and it would seem, they loved Legolas most of all. His heart warmed to see the soft glow of star-light upon the young elf's features as the sweet melodies swept over them. Tonight, he too would offer a hymn to the Star-Kindler, in the hopes that it might ease a tender heart, and he prayed it would not be the last they sang together on this side of the Belegaer.

A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
silivren penna míriel
o menel aglar elenath!
Na-chaered palan-díriel
o galadhremmin ennorath,
Fanuilos, le linnathon
nef aear, sí nef aearon!

The beautiful words came to an end, and the silence of the valley descended once more. Slowly, the two elves turned to face one another, eyes bright with unspoken emotion.

"There is always a ray of hope, even in the darkest of nights…... May the stars shine ever brightly for you, penneth."

He placed a gentle kiss upon Legolas' brow, before sweeping him into a fierce embrace.

Gently releasing their grasp, they looked into each other's eyes one last time, and exchanging one last smile they returned to their own rooms, awaiting the dawn of the new day, and the future that it would bring.

The End.

=)