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"I can carry you, you know," Thranduil worried at her as her steps faltered to a stop. "This is twice as far as you've been walking..."

"Aragorn said I need to exercise. Besides, it isn't that far to Legolas' apartment, just don't walk too fast." Elara leaned on that strong arm with both hands. She wouldn't admit that she would have already fallen down by now without him beside her, supporting her. She wouldn't!

"I don't want you so exhausted by the time you get there that you can't stay awake to eat," he grumbled. "This is supposed to be a treat, not an ordeal. Elessar is here with the business of Gondor for a change. Legolas and I thought you could use some time in a different place with good company to bolster your mood."

"My mood is just fine," she grumbled back at him.

"In which case, we are working to make it just that much finer," Thranduil responded firmly. "A private supper in the company of family and close friends is just what your healer - and I as your Elvenking - have ordered." He patted her hand. "Ready to go on?"

Elara obediently put her feet in motion again; but more quickly than she would have liked, she found herself genuinely stumbling. "It's farther than I remember," she confessed finally.

"That does it, then." The Elvenking swooped in, one arm at her shoulders and the other sweeping at her knees, and in one move pulled her up into his arms. "I am not letting you overdo, even if you are getting better."

"You spoil me too much," she complained, knowing better this time than to squirm her protest. The last time she'd fussed too much when he'd picked her up to carry her, Thranduil had simply kept her in his arms and in his lap for an entire meal, despite Legolas' presence and blatant amusement at his father's outrageous behavior. She wasn't about to suffer the same embarrassment in front of the High King of Gondor.

"Of course I do," Thranduil replied proudly. "I fully expect you to walk back into my hall strong and healthy. If that means I need to pamper you now and then, so be it. And..."

"Now and then," Elara sniffed. His pampering was constant, and at times becoming overwhelming. As her health improved, she began to push for more independence, a chance to succeed or fail on her own and push her limits. She'd returned to her sewing circle, and started chasing Thranduil off from hovering over her there - much to the amusement of the ellith of the group - to lend his experience and expertise to his son.

Thranduil cleared his throat, deliberately sidestepping what was becoming a regular discussion that didn't always end well anymore. "And, as I was saying, your job is to accept my help - at least tonight - with a gracious smile."

"Oh goodness, Elara! What happened? Did you complain too much again?" Legolas chirped all too brightly.

"No..." Elara started, startled and embarrassed, but she was interrupted.

"What's wrong?" Aragorn asked worriedly from behind Thranduil's son. "Legolas, I thought you told me she is much improved in the weeks since last I saw her..."

"She is much improved, but she still tires far too easily," the Elvenking explained in a firm but simple tone, "and I want her to enjoy the meal and the company tonight, not fall asleep in her food. Thank you, my son." He swung her through a door, past his son, and then deposited her gently on a couch. "Rest now, my gift." He seated himself next to her and kept his arm discreetly tucked around her waist. Elara allowed herself to lean into his strength gratefully. Sometimes it was nice to be spoiled.

"If I didn't see it with my own eyes, I don't think I'd believe it," Aragorn's voice chuckled from across the room. "King Thranduil, I commend you for being able to convince her to accept your help so easily. When I've tried..."

"My good King Elessar, it is all in the approach," Thranduil announced regally, although Elara could tell he was highly amused. "The trick is to simply offer her no reasonable alternative."

"Believe him, Estel," Legolas laughed. "And she has also learned better than to protest too much anymore. The last time she tried to resist when he'd decided she needed help, he..."

"I'm sitting right here, if you gentlemen hadn't noticed, and I wasn't aware that I was the evening's entertainment," Elara sounded off before Legolas could relate the embarrassing details of her episode in Thranduil's arms, treated like a wayward child and teased for it on top of it all by both father and son.

Her Elvenking's son merely chuckled at her defensiveness. "You have to admit, Elara, that you listen to my father far better than you've ever listened to Estel or myself; and you listen to him even quicker now than you did before he..."

"I've always listened to your father," Elara stated firmly, once more interrupting the story before it could get started.

"Most of the time," Thranduil offered, his voice smug. "You have done better since, though, I have to admit."

"I think I want to hear the story of what happened when you didn't listen," Aragorn complained almost petulantly.

"She..." Legolas began again.

"You can ask Legolas about it - after I'm gone. Leave it to say that it's hard to argue very successfully with someone as... experienced as Thranduil," Elara spoke quickly, before he could get any further in the telling. "It is a tricky business, arguing with an immortal, and the cost can be measured in pride and embarrassment when it doesn't work, but it can be done."

"I'm certain that if anyone could hold their own against King Thranduil, it would be you," Aragorn actually sounded sincere. "And I'll have to talk to you about it, after I hear this story you won't let either of them tell. For what it's worth, I too find that, with Arwen, it is difficult to argue with thousands of years of experience greater than my own. All I want to do is make her life easier, and..."

"Arwen would enjoy being pampered, Elessar, if you put it to her in the proper way," Thranduil insisted. "You should have learned in your time in Elrond's home that the way of the Elves is the way of strength, the way of the warrior. This holds true as much for ellith as for ellyn. Arwen will be looking for you to honor her strength even as you offer your help - and then she will honor your strength in return by submitting to your pampering. But your gesture of respect must come first, or all you'll get is tears and argument."

"Is that what you did for Mother?" Legolas asked quietly.

"My son, your mother," Thranduil began just as quietly, "was more independent than any other elleth I ever met, except, perhaps, the Lady Galadriel. She was Avari through and through: wild and stubborn and headstrong. I knew better than to not honor her strength when I wanted to convince her of something." Elara felt her Elvenking's fingers twine with her own, and she smiled. He was reassuring her of his love for her, even as he spoke of his wife, from whose side he was forever torn. "Elara is much like her in that respect: headstrong, stubborn, and as independent as she can be under the circumstance. I have to admit, however, that I rather enjoy attempting to tame her from time to time."

"Tame me?" Elara sputtered, outraged. Thranduil patting her hand gently didn't help much, nor did Aragorn's not-so-subtle cough and then outright laugh.

"Yes, come to think of it, you did look like you were enjoying yourself immensely that evening," Legolas began chuckling again as well. "And Elara was absolutely livid."

"It didn't help that you both kept laughing," Elara growled at Legolas now. "It really wasn't that funny, you know."

"Yes, it was!" Thranduil and Legolas answered together, and then cackled maniacally at each other.

Thranduil regained his composure first. "Then again, my son, you should have seen your mother those few times when I managed to get the upper hand! She didn't take it well either."

"Did you ever do to her what you did to..."

"Yes, once," Thranduil replied with chagrin, "and I wore a black eye for my efforts afterwards, I'll have you know!"

Elara sighed. "I should have thought of that."

"I have got to hear this story!" Aragorn exclaimed.


Elara stood patiently as Gelinnas finished lacing up her new gown, a gift from her friends in the sewing circle. Crafted of rich, warm velvet, and in a green to match the occasion, she'd been told, it felt finer than anything she'd ever worn. As she felt firm fingers tucking the laces away, she turned her head in what she hoped was Thranduil's direction. "How do I look?"

"You begin to remind me once more of what you looked like in my hall," Thranduil rumbled at her from across the room, his deep voice rich and contented. "I shall be the envy of many this night."

Elara blushed. "We both know that not to be true, but thank you for saying it. I am no Elven beauty."

"And yet, my eyes will be on you alone, I guarantee," he said a little more softly. "And I have a gift for you."

"I have no MidWinter's gift for you," she exclaimed sadly. "I'm sorry."

"Oh, but you do - one you have already given me. This night with you is your gift to me, Elara nîn, and I am well content with it. Many were the times these past months that I worried that you would not be alive to help me celebrate MidWinter." The Elvenking had moved closer to her and now towered over her at her elbow. "Tonight I not only celebrate the turning of the seasons, but the return of one I love to a living world. And in honor of that occasion..." Elara felt something metallic being set very carefully in place high on her forehead and then the two ends tucked securely into the braids behind her ears.

Her fingers traced and studied the slender metal circlet, noting the way it curled around itself like a thin vine, with small flat tabs that could have been leaves. Her fingers followed the band until she came to where a small, flat, oval stone dangled at the very center of her forehead. "What..."

"I commissioned this to be made not long after I came to Ithilien. I decided that it would be yours - and a visible symbol of my regard for you - if you recovered."

"It's beautiful, Sire, and you look quite lovely, hîril nîn," Gelinnas patted Elara's other hand and then relinquished it to the Elvenking's keeping. "I shall leave you in the hands of your escort now, and see you later in the Hall."

"Thank you, Gelinnas," Elara smiled at her healer-friend, a little taken aback at the unusual formality in her form of address. "And thank you for all you've done for me." She smoothed her hands over the still-too-flat bodice of the gown and waited for the click of the door that told her she was once more alone with her Elvenking, and then put up a tentative finger to again toy with the pendant stone on her forehead. "I'm afraid you're decorating a mushroom, Thranduil. I still look more like something used to startle birds from a ripening field of corn,"

"Stop that! You look fine," Thranduil chuckled, his huge hand swallowing hers in directing it to its spot on his nearest arm. "You were always thin, you know, thinner than many edenith. At this moment, especially with the circlet, you look more like an elleth than ever; just a rather short one."

They began walking, with Elara no longer needing to lean quite so heavily on his arm for support or assistance. Still, he did not hurry their pace down the long corridor that led to the Great Hall, from which the sounds of lively music and happy voices spilled as if from an overfilled goblet. "Tell me what you see," she asked him as they drew near to the revelry.

"They have the entire hall set about with evergreen boughs that hold crystals to catch the light, and with holly branches with berries. There are tall red and silver candles along the walls, and green candles at every table. The servants are dressed in the red and silver ceremonial livery of Legolas' hall. And it looks as if we're just in time, because I can see Legolas still sitting in front of an empty plate."

"Has the feast not started yet then?"

"Not quite. I believe they were waiting for our arrival. Steady on now..." He moved his hand to hold hers on his arm, giving her a gentle squeeze; and she felt him straighten to his full height before stepping forward, pulling her with him.

"Aran Thranduil of Eryn Lasgalen and his Lady, Elara," announced the door ward in his stentorian voice that carried easily over the revelry in the hall.

Elara hesitated, stunned by her introduction to the other feast participants. She'd attended many feasts in Thranduil's hall, and never had she been announced by name when she'd entered the hall. She also was well enough acquainted with Elven etiquette to know that those who had been announced as someone's "Lady" had generally been that someone's...


"No, no stopping. Protocol dictates that after being announced, we keep walking to our table," Thranduil patted her hand and gently pulled her forward with him. "Happy MidWinter, my gift." His voice thrummed with satisfaction and pride.


"We'll discuss it later, I promise. But now Legolas is waiting for us to join him so that he can begin the feast." Thranduil moved them smoothly and surely to the front of the room and then up onto the raised platform that held the head table. He pulled out a chair for her and leaned down to whisper into her ear. "Don't sit yet. As attending royalty, we have formalities to get through yet."

Elara's head spun while contemplating what he had said so casually. "Attending royalty?" " We??"

"Aran Thranduil, Lady," Legolas sounded just as smug and satisfied as his father ever had as he spoke so that all the hall could hear. "You grace our MidWinter feast this year."

"We are pleased to be able to share this time with you, my son," Thranduil announced in his louder and very regal public voice. "My Lady and I are grateful for all the hospitality and aid we have enjoyed in your hall."

Elara listened in a daze as Legolas offered a toast and Thranduil placed a small wineglass in her hand. The sensation of the small stone tapping against her forehead with every move she made told her something very important had just happened; and that, most likely, the strange strip of metal about her forehead was part of it. Then Thranduil nudged her to remind her to sip at the wine in her glass in answer to the toast; and then he was making a toast of his own, to which she again raised her glass and sipped without really hearing what it was she was toasting.

"We sit now," his voice sounded in her ear, and his hand at her elbow guided her into her chair.

"Well, you certainly surprised her, Father, just as you predicted," Legolas chuckled from where he sat just beyond the Elvenking. "Did you see the expression on her face when you were announced?"

As usual at meals with an Elven community, Thranduil was guiding Elara's hand to find cutlery and wine glass. "I did indeed," he replied, his tone very proud, satisfied and amused. "And, if you notice, she's still not entirely paying attention to us yet. Elara, if you fail to pay attention to me now, you will knock over your wine, you know..."

Elara forced her mind to follow what was being said. "I am too paying attention," she complained, although the far-away tone of her own voice gave lie to her words. Still, an explanation was needed. "Thranduil..."

"Later, I said, when we're alone again," he bent to her ear and rumbled at her in a rich voice that not only thrilled with a whole new set of nuances of tone that she'd never heard before, but left her still confused. "Now, do you want some of that delicious fish you like so well, or the venison this evening?"

Elara directed his careful filling of her plate with portions that, while still much smaller than most would find normal, would satisfy her Elven lord's definition of adequate for her. She reached out and found the wineglass and sipped at the watered beverage thoughtfully, feeling very much out of her depth. But both Thranduil and Legolas were in high spirits, and it didn't take long before their gentle teasing and then the usual banter between them made her laugh and give up trying to figure out the precise nature of the change that had happened until, as her Elvenking had promised, later.


"I've kept you up too late. You look exhausted." Thranduil closed the apartment door and resumed his place at her side. "Do you wish me to carry you the rest of the way?" He took firm hold of her arm to give her support as they continued on into her bedroom when she shook her head at him.

"Don't feel guilty. I enjoyed the evening, and I believe this is actually a good tired." Elara sat, as directed, on the edge of her bed. "I should sleep well tonight." She lifted her hands to the circlet. "Help me get this off..."

Gentle fingers dislodged the metal ends from her braids and lifted the circlet away. "This is the bag that it belongs in when you're not wearing it," he announced, handing her what felt like very rich velvet and then letting her hold the bag open while he slipped the circlet inside. "Where do you want it - or shall I just keep it with mine?"

"Thranduil, you promised to explain..." she protested, ignoring his question. "And we're alone now..."

The mattress next to her dipped as he seated himself next to her. "Yes, I did promise, didn't I?" He turned her away from him slightly and began to pull out pins that held braids in place and then to tease the hair free again. "Very well. The simplest answer is you were proclaimed the Lady of Eryn Lasgalen, and Legolas made it official tonight."

"But... We're not... are we?"

"No, we're not." His fingers slowed for a moment. "That is a step that I cannot take with you, as you well know."

"But then... How..." Elara toed off her slippers and pushed them carefully beneath the bed, where she'd be able to find them in the morning.

He resumed his work on her hair. "Tonight you became the Lady of Eryn Lasgalen. I have the authority to entitle you thusly, and I did. Legolas was very pleased to be the Lord responsible for overseeing the announcement."

"But how can I be your Lady? What about Lalaith..."

"Lalaith died long before there ever was an Eryn Lasgalen. The wood that she ruled over with me was called Eryn Galen - the Greenwood. She was, is, and always will be Aranel Lalaith i Eryn Galen. That title will never go to another, just as yours will belong to you until the breaking of the world, whether you are here to hold it or not."

Elara turned, reached up and caught his hands in hers. "Thranduil, I still don't understand. If I'm not your wife, how can I be the Lady of Eryn Lasgalen?"

He tutted at her and reclaimed his hands to firmly turn her back away from him again and resume his work with her hair. "I may not be able to take you to wife, but I will no longer deny what you mean to me. I also will not hide our relationship from the world as if I were guilty of oath-breaking, which I am not. Naming you as my Lady gives you privileges and protections you need for when I'm not around, for it declares officially that you are first in my heart. It also gives you legitimate standing in my realm and my hall - you are no longer a guest who happens to room in the royal wing by my decree, but a full member of my family with every right to be there. All will know that you are not my wife, but you are as dear to me as if you were; and they will treat you accordingly."

Her hair finally completely undone, Thranduil threaded his fingers through the long locks, combing them back, and then began plaiting a single braid in preparation for sleeping. "The circlet I gave you is one I designed during those first frightening days with you here, while you slept so soundly and I could not be certain that you would awaken again. I had brought the stone and the mithril with me from my treasury, and I asked Legolas to commission Gimli of Aglarond himself to craft it for me. I am well pleased with the result. The stone is an emerald leaf, to represent Eryn Lasgalen; and it hangs amid mithril vines and leaves that will never fade or fall, just as my regard for you will last past the breaking of the world."

"Mithril?" Elara gaped. She'd never even seen mithril before losing her sight - and here she'd been wearing it openly at a feast.

"Yes, mithril," he repeated with emphasis. "Your circlet is my way of telling the world how valuable you are to me; and when you wear it, your title as Lady of Eryn Lasgalen will be as clear to all as if announced by a door-ward at the beginning of a feast."


"Yes?" His voice sounded amused and patient.

She refused to be sidetracked by humor. "What about what Galadriel said..."

"I have not forgotten what she said." She felt him tie off the end of her braid and begin loosening the laces on her gown. "There was indeed a time when prudence demanded that you remain in the background; and unfortunately, it coincided with other unwise decisions on my part regarding our relationship. That time is ended, as far as I'm concerned, as are all of the things that kept us from what the Valar intended for us. Those who disapprove of what I've done can just pack up and find another Elven enclave to live in."

Elara swallowed as the gown began to slip from her shoulders, aided by long fingers. "Um... Thranduil, what are you doing?"

"Getting you ready for bed - what did you think?"

She gathered the loose edges of her gown to her to keep it from falling further away from her and exposing her undergarments. "Where is Gelinnas? Is she not coming?"

"No. She and her husband were still dancing when last I saw them." His voice grew soft, and his hands stilled on her shoulders. "Do you distrust me, Elara nîn?"

She frowned. "Of course not. But..."

"Then be at peace," he purred at her. "The eyes that look at you now are fond ones, and the hands that would help you desire nothing more than to assure your comfort. Nothing inappropriate will happen between us - as much as I love you, there can never be passion between us. You know this."

"I know," she admitted. "But you've never..."

A large hand framed her face. "Tell me, how often have we slept together in this very bed - with you beneath the blankets and me above, holding you through the night?"

Elara blushed at the thought. "Every night since you came. You said you rested better that way, and I know that I do too." Her blush grew hotter with the confession.

"Then think of this as nothing more than an extension of that closeness. Gelinnas is celebrating the MidWinter with her husband, as is only right. You are exhausted and need to seek your pillow early, lest our revelries this night cause you to lose some of the roses that are just finally beginning to bloom in your cheeks again. I am right here at hand, willing to help you prepare for bed." He bent forward and brushed her cheek with his lips. "Let me help you. Please. I shall see nothing that is not already very dear to me, and I shall touch you with nothing other than honor and respect."

Slowly her hands dropped away from the loosened neckline of her gown, and Thranduil very gently guided the warm garment and the one beneath it off of her shoulders to fall to her waist. "Stand, for just a moment," he directed, and when she did, both gown and chemise slid down her body to puddle at her feet. "Arms up," he ordered next, and a fresh-smelling sleeping gown slipped over her head and arms and was tugged into place, with her braid then pulled out to lay over her shoulder.

She heard him fuss with the bed, and then state, "Sit." When she obeyed, she felt him gently ease her stockings from her calves and feet. "Very well - in you go," he directed finally. Her blankets settled warmly over her the moment she was prone, and then he sat down next to her on the bed. "There. Was that so bad?"

Elara shook her head slowly. He'd actually been quite efficient - disrobing and dressing her with a gentle and impersonal touch much like Gelinnas' - and then getting her settled. "It's just that..." She blushed again. "The last man who saw me..."

"Ah." The deep voice was filled with understanding. Thranduil leaned forward and kissed the tip of her nose, then rose. Elara heard him move to the hearth and prepare the fire for another long, cold night. He then moved about the room, his audible puffs of breath telling her that he was extinguishing candles and lamps. Finally came the sound of his own disrobing and climbing into his silken sleep wear and a warm evening robe; and at last, he settled onto his side of the bed on the top of her blankets.

"Come here," he rumbled at her as he did every night. And as she had done every night since his miraculous return to her, she rolled toward him and settled her head on his chest, with her arm outstretched over him to hold him back.

This night, however, a gentle finger beneath her chin turned her face up to him. "I love you very much - and this night, I would show you as much of that as I can, if you will allow." The single finger turned into fingers curled and holding the side of her face. "May I kiss you?"

"You kiss me often," she protested at first, but then drew in a surprised breath as the full meaning of what he was really asking finally sunk in. "Yes," she whispered, awed and suddenly shy.

Thranduil bent and brushed his lips over hers, his kiss as soft and gentle as a summer breeze. From the back of her mind she felt a sudden wash of warmth flood through her that gave her a sense of utter contentment that she'd never felt before in her life - and a feeling of having returned to a much-loved home wrapped itself around her until she knew herself to be as embraced and cherished through their mental bond as she was by his arms and his kiss. She felt his heartbeat and hers find and hold rhythm together for the space of the timeless moment he held his lips against hers. Elara nîn. At last I can give you this.

Elara brought her hand up to cup the strong square jaw as the delicate kiss ended. I love you, Thranduil, and I always will, to the ends of the world and beyond, she answered him, filling her mental voice with as much love as she could manage and never meaning it more than she did in that moment. No, there had been no passion; but while passion might have made the moment even more perfect, with that kiss, he had just offered her far more than she had ever dreamed could be hers.

His face turned enough to press another kiss into the palm of her hand. Go to sleep now, Elara nîn - hîril Eryn Lasgalen - and may the stars themselves guard your dreams.

I don't need stars, she told him with quiet simplicity. I have you watching over me, and I can think of no other protector I would rather have. With a contented and tired sigh, she wrapped her arm back over his chest, rested her head where his heartbeat pulsed comfort and security into her ear, breathed in fresh-cut grass and warm forest, and gave herself over to dreams that were nearly - but not quite - as pleasant as her waking hours were.


She could feel it in the tension that flowed through Thranduil's body behind her, and in the sudden spirited spring in Aduial's step. They were very close. She leaned back into him and felt his arm tighten about her waist. "We're almost there," he confirmed for her, bending his lips down to close to her ear. "Only an hour or so more, and you won't have to sit a-horseback again until or unless you actually want to." He kissed her hair.

That would be a blessing. He'd prepared her as best he could - taking her out on horseback every day once the chill of Winter had thawed into the freshness of Spring to become accustomed to being held in front of him on a moving mount. But still, the many hours on the constantly moving back of his spirited war stallion over the past weeks of their journey had sapped her strength and, at the beginning, her ability to even walk in the evenings. She had hurt enough that she didn't even care that he'd carried her from Aduial each evening to her place at the campfire in front of the five Elven warriors that Legolas had insisted in sending along with them. No doubt the lack of privacy of camping in the wild meant that those same warriors had probably even seen glimpses of her Elven lord massaging a healing ointment into the stiff muscles of her legs and backside.

A voice rang out toward them in song, and she felt her Elvenking lift his head and sing an answering melody in his rich, deep bass. She knew that melody - he'd sung it to her often enough during the long days of their journey that she'd learned both the melody and the words - and she began to hum.

"Sing with me," he prompted, breaking his own singing to make the demand. The song from afar had more voices to it now - and the harmony was one of extreme joy and welcome. "Sing with me," he urged again. "Let them know that you return as well." Again he began his melody; and at another not-so-subtle squeeze and poke in the ribs by the large hand that held her securely in front of him, Elara opened her mouth and shyly joined her voice to his.

The response from the distant voices was immediate - they increased in volume and number, and the welcome that suddenly poured from the song was beyond anything Elara had ever experienced. She was momentarily overwhelmed by the knowledge that the joy and welcome was for her as well as the Elvenking. And then suddenly, the pulsing that she knew came from the Greenwood itself gathered itself in the back of her mind and pointedly drew her back into the rhythm of life that was Eryn Lasgalen. She could hear rustling around her, and knew that not only were they now safely beneath the boughs of the wood, but that the trees themselves were singing a welcome of their own.

Her voice caught in her throat, and she leaned back against Thranduil as tears of relief and gratitude began flowing down her cheeks. He bent to her and brushed a kiss over her ear. "All of Eryn Lasgalen welcomes its Lady home," he whispered to her. "We shall be able to celebrate our MidSummer beneath our own trees after all, just as I had hoped."

"We're home," she whispered to herself and felt Thranduil's arm tighten around her in response. "You brought me home."

"As I promised I would," he told her, his voice deep and rich with satisfaction and pride. "What's more, you should have no doubts left that you belong here, in the Greenwood, with me. As it does with me, I know the wood has reached out and claimed you as its own. I felt it happen." He nuzzled her hair. "Do not weep, now. Hold your head high, my gift. Your people would see you rejoice and take pride in your safe return."

Elara sniffled and then straightened and pulled herself together. He was right - this was no time for tears. She cleared her throat, and when she raised her voice again, her song of return grew strong and sure. As Thranduil joined her again, she could hear the pride and sense of accomplishment in his singing, and could feel the possessiveness in his arm about her. Yes, she belonged in the Greenwood - and most definitely she belonged to the Elvenking, and he to her. She would walk into his hall with her health as restored as it could be, just as he had demanded of her - and she would not willingly leave him, or his realm, again.

She was home to stay.



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