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Fic: "FOH: The Return" PG-13 (9/9) [L/R, S/J, Ororo/Legolas, others]

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  • Nadja Lee
    Hi all, Still a part of the FOH series, still a crossover to LOTR. You need to have read the earlier parts to follow this. You can read it at fanfiction.net
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 15, 2004
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      Hi all,

      Still a part of the FOH series, still a crossover to LOTR.

      You need to have read the earlier parts to follow this.
      You can read it at fanfiction.net
      [http://www.fanfiction.net/~nadjalee%5d or my own webpage
      [http://www.100megspop3.com/scottororo/fiction/FellowshipOfHeroes.htm
      l].

      Enjoy:

      Part 9
      Six months had passed since the War of the Ring had ended. Six
      months since Scott's death, Boromir's death and Phoenix's demise.

      With all the losses they had all suffered, moving on had seemed
      impossible but time had moved them forward anyway. Slowly lands were
      being rebuilt as the dead was being mourned and the scars of war
      were trying to heal. On a political level a lot of changes had
      happened, many of them influenced by the personal changes and
      choices made by the leaders of different countries. Most Elves had
      chosen to stay, some had left. Elrond had stayed for his daughter's
      sake, reinforcing Rivendell's strength and importance. Galadriel and
      most of the Elves of the Golden Wood had stayed as well as had
      Legolas's family and most of the Mirkwood Elves. Gondor and Rohan,
      the countries that had suffered most during the war, were being
      rebuilt with amazing haste, getting help from the Elves. The one who
      felt most alone had been Gimli who was now alone but Legolas had
      kept his word and the two friends had worked to banish Gimli's
      sorrow and loneliness in the light of a new future.

      As soon as Gandalf and Ororo had returned to Gondor with Frodo and
      Sam, Faramir had been appointed the new Steward of Gondor. Still in
      sickbed Aragorn was the practical leader but until it was the right
      time for his coronation Gondor couldn't be without an official
      leader. Faramir was only too happy to let Aragorn tend to Gondor's
      affairs, having complete faith in the future King. His grief at his
      brother's death had almost taken his own life as his body had
      refused to heal and he had cradled his sorrow the way an Elf would.
      Eowyn's gentle encouragement, support and understanding had brought
      him through his darkest hour as Faramir realized that he wasn't
      alone. He had been so used to having only his brother and no one
      else. So used to being disregarded and looked down on by everyone
      but him that he had thought Boromir's death would mean the end of
      the only love and support he had ever had. Eowyn had patiently
      proven him wrong and had helped him through his painful physical
      recovery as well as through his grief and his nightmares. She had
      helped his mental healing after his torture at Phoenix's hands as he
      tried to come to terms with the fact that his own father had been
      witness to his agonizing ordeal and had wanted to kill him. Finding
      a safe haven in her, a new focus point in his life, Eowyn and him
      announced their engagement five months after Boromir's death, when
      Faramir was declared physically healed. The fact that they did this
      together instead of Faramir doing it alone spoke volumes of the
      equal relationship they shared, a unique thing among the human race
      of Middle Earth. Aragorn had been crowned King four months after the
      end of the war, having waited until Minas Tirith and the palace
      resembled its old glory instead of a war tired and half destroyed
      city. The ceremony had been glorious with a lot of fine guests,
      beautiful dresses, jewellery and everything in between. It had taken
      Ororo and Rogue's thoughts to a real fairytale scenario. After his
      coronation Aragorn had finally married Arwen and his smile of
      happiness had stayed on his lips for weeks to follow. Elrond had
      given his daughter away while Legolas had been best man. Aragorn had
      given Faramir the title of prince of Ithilien, as the title of
      steward was now no more. Having been given a new title and a new
      position, as the King's chief advisor, it was possible for Faramir
      to ask Eomer if he was allowed to court his sister. Eomer had smiled
      at him when he had asked and said that Eowyn had already talked to
      him and had said that if her brother didn't approve of her choice
      she would simply go through with it anyway. Faramir had smiled at
      this characteristic show of strength from the woman who had stolen
      his heart and when they had announced their engagement the month
      after Eomer had been the one who had cheered the loudest, knowing
      his sister had finally found a man who would support her instead of
      trying to tame and cage her.

      Two other events had dominated the passing months. One was Legolas
      and Ororo's official signing of their marriage papers to make their
      marriage official in none Elven nations and the other was the birth
      of their child; neither had been easy. Legolas's father, though
      intrigued and fascinated by Ororo's beauty and power, was hesitant
      to allow a human not of noble blood to wed his son. While such
      issues had been overlooked during the war they began to become
      important again now that peace had been restored. As prince of
      Mirkwood Legolas had obligations and a position of power and his
      father was not happy to see that be shared with Ororo. Legolas's
      father hadn't been the only one who had been concerned. Aragorn had
      tried to discourage Legolas, reminding him that Logan, Rogue and
      Ororo were still trying to find a way back to their own world.
      Aragorn's only concern, as always, was his friend's health,
      happiness and not to mention his life but the young Elven prince
      would hear nothing of it. Logan and Rogue had been concerned as well
      but when Ororo had said she was happy and what truth was, that they
      might be here forever, they had wished her luck. The papers had been
      signed after Logan had done some claw showing and growling at
      Legolas's father…while the groom wasn't present of course. Almost
      six months after the battle Ororo gave birth to a beautiful baby
      girl. The baby quickly became a symbol of new life and hope for all
      of Gondor who had taken a quick liking to the unusually colored
      woman who lived with an Elven prince at the palace.

      The palace in Minas Tirith had become a focus point for many of the
      people who had fought together in the war. Haldir had stayed there a
      month's worth of time and had then returned to the Golden Wood but
      he would often come and visit. His normal stoic look had shatetred
      at Merry and Pippin had been devastated at Boromir's death and when
      Aragorn had arranged a beautiful and grand burial for him three
      months after his death, though they had no body, they had cried for
      the man who had been their protector and friend and so much more.
      Even Haldir's normally stoic face had shattered into a look of deep
      grief when he had paid his final respects to the man who had saved
      his life. Merry and Pippin had left for the Shire after the funeral
      with Sam and Frodo who had been declared physically healed yet both,
      most noticeably Frodo, would always carry within them scars from the
      evil of the One Ring that nothing could heal.

      Logan had been the driving force behind trying to find a way back
      for Ororo, Rogue and himself and through it all Scott's absence, the
      lack of his calm leadership and control, had been sorely missed.
      Together with Aragorn, Arwen, Legolas, Gimli, Faramir and Eowyn when
      they weren't visiting her brother who was now the new King of Rohan,
      the remaining X-men lived at the palace in Minas Tirith which were
      frequently visited by old friends from the war. In between helping
      with the rebuilding they would talk about how to get back. Though
      Ororo did her best she found she was happy here which was why Logan
      was the one pushing them forward. He had no great desire to remain
      in Middle Earth forever and neither had Rogue. Even living like a
      princess had its downsides. Taking a warm bath took forever as the
      water had to be warmed by the servants. There was no radio or TV and
      entertainment of any kind was very rare. Also travelling took
      forever unless they could get Ororo to fly them somewhere and as her
      pregnancy had advanced she had not had the power to do so. There had
      even been a point where Ororo's pregnancy had brought her so much
      pain that despite Ororo's distaste for the idea since she wanted the
      baby then an abortion had been talked about as the possible only
      solution to save her life. Though humans and Elves could get
      offspring then it was the humans of Middle Earth they had mated
      with. Most women of Middle Earth were strong women, used to a hard
      life. Ororo was delicately boned and bearing the child of an
      interracial encounter might be more than she could bear. Luckily
      they had been proved wrong, despite the fact that Elves were
      pregnant 15 months and she went 12, overdue for a human but too
      early for an Elf. The lack of medical equipment had made the birth a
      living hell for Ororo with nothing to take her mind off the pain.
      Though when she had held her baby in her arms she had forgotten
      about it. The proud parents had decided to call the baby Aigle
      Katherine Ann. Aigle meant light in Greek for she was their light
      after darkness and Katherine Ann had been Scott's deceased mother's
      name and Ororo had wished to remember her fallen friend in this way.
      Legolas and she had agreed that if the baby had been a boy one of
      his names would have been Scott.

      Logan's thoughts returned from the past when he reached the palace
      after having helped rebuilt some houses at the east end of the
      city. "Honey, I'm home," Logan called playfully as two guards had
      opened the front door to the palace for him, letting him into the
      impressive front hall. He stood looking up towards the grand
      staircase and had to admit that the reconstruction work now almost
      finished on the palace was magnificently done. The palace was no
      longer the dark and gray massive building it had been. It now shined
      with life and colour, having been restored to stand as a symbol of
      Gondor's grandeur and glory.

      "Logan!" Rogue yelled happily, grinning widely as she appeared at
      the top of the stairs and ran down and into Logan's arms who smiled
      and span her around before he put her down and kissed the top of her
      head ever so softly.

      "Missed me?" he asked softly, half teasing.

      "Always," she replied and hugged him close, careful that her chin
      touched only his shirt. When first she had seen Logan in the finer,
      more regal robes he had been given after the battle she had thought
      he looked strange, used to seeing him in the plain versions of
      Middle Earth clothes. However now she thought he looked like a
      prince and her, dressed in yet another long dress with long tight
      sleeves, a fairytale princess.

      "Logan, my husband bid me say that he wishes to discuss the progress
      of the reconstruction of the eastern part of Gondor with you in the
      library before dinner," Ororo said as she appeared at the head of
      the stairs, holding her daughter safe in her arms. Dressed all in
      white with diamonds around her neck, in her hair and ears, she
      looked every inch the goddess she had been thought to be.

      "Okay. I'll go see him now then." Logan pressed one more kiss to
      Rogue's hair before he with a playful gesture kissed her gloved hand
      and gave her a little bow. She laughed as she recalled the diplomacy
      and tact lessons they had all been given a few weeks back now that
      the political game was coming back as the main power in Middle Earth
      instead of brute force.

      Ororo flew slowly down with Aigle in her arms and landed gracefully
      beside the couple. "Hey darlin'. Have you been good to your mom and
      your Aunt Marie?" Logan asked the small baby, his eyes and voice
      softening as he looked at her. She grinned at him and made a noise
      as she reached up her small hands towards him. Aigle had pointed
      ears, both not as prominent as Legolas's but her skin was a soft and
      beautiful warm brown colour which alone would bring her a long line
      of suitors. She seemed to be growing normally for a human so they
      couldn't say yet if she had gained her father's immortality.

      "She has been wonderful," Ororo said with mother pride shining in
      her eyes.

      "But we need to get back home soon," Rogue complained. "It's boring
      here. All I'm expected to do is sew or pick flowers or paint or
      something like that."

      "Didn't you and `Ro help rebuilt the houses to the west?" Logan
      asked, letting Aigle play with a finger on his right hand. Ororo was
      regaining her strength and helped fly debris away and move heavy
      objects with her mutant abilities.

      "Yes but there wasn't much I could do," Rogue admitted. She didn't
      regret she had given up the powers the Ring had given her but at
      times she would realize that had she had those magical powers she
      would have been much more useful.

      Sensing her thoughts Logan added, "Faramir told me yesterday that he
      really appreciated your help on the yearly state budgets for Gondor."

      "Yeah…" She was unconvinced. Since they were now all living at the
      palace they would all eat together so they had all gotten to know
      each other better and she knew how sensitive and kind hearted
      Faramir was. He would have asked her to help him to make her feel
      better and from what she had seen then she doubted he had really
      needed her help.

      "We did build Aigle a pram earlier today. Or began on it," Ororo
      said helpfully.

      Rogue frowned a little. "I'm still not sure if we ought to give this
      culture too much of our knowledge. Prams probably wouldn't have been
      discovered for hundreds of years…"

      "We are still not sure why we were brought here in the first place,"
      Ororo reminded her. "I think we can safely say that we were not sent
      back when our purpose, to help win the war, was over for we are
      still here."

      "I talked to Gandalf again the other day and he insists he neither
      has the knowledge or the power to send us back nor to have brought
      us here in the first place. His theory is that Middle Earth itself,
      the spirits and the magic in this Earth, in every living thing in
      Middle Earth, intensified his silent plea for warriors to come and
      help defend Middle Earth and that brought us here…the best defence a
      large but still limited magical energy source could find," Logan
      explained.

      "I don't suppose he can tap into this universal energy again?" Rogue
      asked, by now used to debating magic as a matter of fact instead of
      a fantasy element.

      "He claims he can't."

      "You believe him?"
      "I see no reason for him to lie now when the war is over."

      "It would help our case if we knew for sure where we are," Ororo
      said thoughtfully, absently letting Aigle play with her long white
      hair.

      "I know," Logan sighed. They had talked about this many times
      before. "I think we covered all the options the other day: parallel
      universe, another planet, Earth's past or alternative past…I think
      we even talked about the possibility that we were living an illusion
      forced on us by a powerful telepath or that we or one of us were
      simply mad…or dreamin'."

      "There must be something we have overlooked," Rogue mused.

      "The only mysterious thing I remember is when Galadriel told me I
      would be the bridge between two worlds. She repeated this at Aragorn
      and Arwen's wedding," Ororo said, most of her mind on her daughter
      as she grinned at her and the small baby happily made noises than
      the new mother tried her best to see if they sounded like a word.
      While she spoke English and at times Swahili, her native language,
      with her child then Legolas would speak Elfish, or rather his Elfish
      dialect as she had learnt that like Chinese it wasn't really one
      language but many different ones. She hadn't yet mastered Legolas's
      native tongue but she practised. On the other hand he hadn't
      mastered Swahili either.

      "We must assume there is some kind of logic to all this. After all
      there were factors to our advantage here…we look like the humans of
      Middle Earth and we all speak English," Rogue said, thinking.

      "Maybe we just think we all speak English," Ororo thought out loud.

      "Bridge between two worlds…We should bring her here and ask her to
      explain," Logan suggested his eyes on the baby.

      "Yeah…"Rogue began when suddenly an idea hit her. "Of course! That's
      it!" She yelled excited.

      "What is, darlin'?" Logan asked puzzled as both Ororo and him looked
      surprised at her.

      "The bridge between two worlds… Galadriel didn't mean Ororo. She
      meant the baby and she didn't mean a bridge between humans and Elves
      because that would be Aragorn and Arwen and she didn't mean between
      us as strangers and them as native to this land because we were
      never supposed to stay here for good. She meant Aigle! Aigle is the
      bridge between two worlds," Rogue explained excitedly.

      "Which two worlds?" Logan asked, a smile beginning to spread over
      his lips. He thought he already knew the answer but needed to hear
      it.

      "Middle Earth and Earth….their home and ours. When Gandalf spoke of
      magic in every living thing in Middle Earth that included Aigle.
      Somehow she must possess some kind of energy or magic because of her
      mixed inherence which can safely connect the two worlds."

      Ororo and Logan were silent for some time. "It does seem
      reasonable," Ororo admitted with some reluctance. She didn't want to
      face the choice a chance to go home would mean but she would never
      lie to her friends either.

      Logan smiled widely. "You're a genius, baby!" he said and gave her a
      big embrace before he drew back. "My wife's a fuckin' genius," he
      said with pride shinning in his eyes, making Rogue blush at his
      openly admiring stare. He looked up towards the first floor, in the
      direction of Aragorn's study where Gandalf would often be, debating
      matters of state with the King. "Gandalf, where are you, you old
      devil?" He yelled happily. "Come here! We have an idea!"

      * * *

      "Now, remember…I cannot guarantee this will work," Gandalf warned
      for the nth time at least.

      "We know, we know," Logan replied and made a dismissive hand gesture
      as if it was of no consequence.

      It was two months since Rogue had voiced her idea and in those
      months everyone had gotten busy. Gandalf had felt there was an
      acceptable margin of error to the idea but, as he had repeated, he
      wasn't sure if it would work. In the two months he had worked to
      figure out how exactly such energy as what Rogue had suggested could
      be manipulated. Aragorn had sent for Haldir who had contacted
      Galadriel but the Elven Queen had said she didn't know how it
      worked. She had simply seen in a vision that through Ororo there
      would be a bridge between two worlds. Her visions weren't precise
      enough to help them with the hows and whys.

      Gandalf had gotten the idea to try and use a mixture of his and
      Rogue's powers. Rogue would absorb a little of the baby's powers as
      Gandalf's magic was touching her aura. In that moment when Rogue
      absorbed some of the baby's powers Gandalf would mould the energy
      and seek the assistance of all the energy around him in Middle Earth
      to help him mould and form the energy to create the same kind of
      inter-dimensional portal that had brought the X-men to Middle Earth.
      Gandalf couldn't get the energy out of Aigle himself but the plan
      wasn't without risks. If the baby had no powers, which no one,
      neither Elf or wizard had been able to say with certainty, then
      Rogue's touch could be deadly. Furthermore, if that happened and
      Gandalf tapped into an energy of death he himself would be in danger
      as could Rogue if she could not control her powers and ended up
      absorbing the baby's death. Ororo and Legolas had both opposed the
      plan, fearful foremost for their baby's life and secondly for Rogue
      and Gandalf's health. However Rogue had raised a valid point when
      she had asked about the danger of them all remaining in Middle
      Earth. They did not belong here. What if Middle Earth or their own
      world was or would suffer from this displacement? Even if this was
      not the case then, as Ororo had mentioned, they had friends they had
      left behind, families…They had a cause that still needed to be
      fought for. If they never returned and their own world would simply
      pretend they had died then what about the fight for equal rights for
      all? For humans and mutants in all their diversity? With Scott and
      Ororo gone so were the X-men's commander and second in command. With
      Logan gone the X-men lost their greatest warrior. With Jean gone
      Xavier had lost his closest assistant in his political battle for
      equal rights. And finally with Rogue gone Xavier had lost one of his
      best supporters among the younger generation. All this put together
      could mean that the changes they had fought to bring about might
      never happen. Their own world could change dramatically and not for
      the better. On a more personal note Rogue's only hope for finding
      something to help her control her mutation was in their own world
      and both Logan and her had grown very tired of staying in a world
      which for all intents and purposes was still in the Middle Ages.
      Though it seemed nice looking at the life of a Middle Age royalty
      like they were being treated then Middle Age royalty still had far
      less comforts than a normal Western middleclass family and there
      were huge issues of breach of human rights and lack of equality
      everywhere despite Aragorn, Faramir, Legolas and Eomer's positive
      reactions to equal rights. Especially Faramir was pushing for change
      but a world couldn't and didn't change overnight. No one wanted to
      give up power and the nobility certainly didn't like the idea of
      sharing just a fraction of their power with the commoners, vetoing
      almost all the suggestions Faramir would bring before the council
      for change. There was also the fact that Middle Earth had no
      dentists, little medicine, no hospitals and people would die from
      illnesses and epidemics that had died out long ago on Earth. The
      average living age here was around fifty for the nobility and often
      only thirty-five for the peasants who with their hard life worked
      themselves to death. Added to it came the daily small irritations
      which by each passing day would seem more and more obvious to the X-
      men, especially Logan and Rogue who no longer had any reason to try
      and see the good sides of their unwilling stranding. There were no
      toilets, no bathrooms, no female hygiene items, no indoor plumbing
      or heat and of course no electronic devices of any kind.

      In the end the decision became apparent when strange storms and
      tornadoes began to rage the east of Gondor out of season. Though it
      didn't necessary have to have anything to do with their staying in
      Middle Earth it was the most likely theory since the hurricanes were
      out of Ororo's control and Gandalf could not control them either. It
      was reasonable to assume that Earth would also be affected, maybe
      also with growing violent weather or an even worse disaster.

      However knowing they had to leave and then do so wasn't easy. They
      now had friends here and Ororo had even more than that; she had a
      husband and a child. Leaving Legolas could mean his death yet
      staying could mean the death of two worlds. Despite their desire to
      remain together both Ororo and Legolas were acutely aware of their
      obligations to their worlds. However despite Legolas's acceptance
      that he might die, claiming and meaning that the few months he had
      had with Ororo was enough, then Ororo would not give up without a
      fight. She would not let the man she loved die. She had seen too
      much death already. She had consulted Aragorn, Arwen, Haldir, Elrond
      and any other Elf she could get her hands on. They had explained to
      her that there existed a magical, almost mental bond between an Elf
      and his or her chosen lifemate. That bond was, unless under extreme
      situations, only breakable in death. If Ororo left, her soul would
      leave as well and it was the soul that Elves connected with; not
      their physical appearance and bodies. This was how Elves could marry
      other races of any gender. They most often married humans as Elves
      and humans had most contact but some had bonded with wizards and a
      few with Dwarfs though the large difference in their values, Dwarfs
      with their obsession with gold, would often mean that an Elf would
      not find such a soul desirable. Still it was this searching for
      love, for someone to share eternity with, that meant Elves looked
      for a soulmate where physical appearance which included race and
      gender had no importance. Beautiful of appearance themselves they
      had no need for anything else but a beautiful soul in the person
      they chose to share eternity with. However this also meant that
      Elves connected very strongly with their lover when they had first
      found the soul that was perfect for them. So without the presence of
      Ororo's soul Legolas could whither and die since their marriage was
      still so new and he wouldn't have had time to try and form a mental
      shield to help him without her presence. However she had found a
      solution which had made her smile and cry at the same time. If she
      left Aigle with Legolas in Middle Earth instead of bringing her
      across which they had both originally agreed upon then the parental
      bond Legolas had with their daughter could probably save him. There
      was enough of Ororo's soul in their child for him to cling to Aigle.
      Yet the thought of parting from Legolas and her child was tearing
      Ororo apart and she had become more and more miserable, despite her
      attempts to enjoy the little time she had left with her family.

      When the day had come where they would attempt to travel back it was
      way too soon for all of them, most of all for Ororo. They had known
      the date three weeks in advance but it was still too soon. The day
      had started with a mixture of excitement and sadness as Aragorn,
      Arwen, Faramir, Eowyn, Eomer, Gandalf, Haldir, Gimli, Sam, Frodo,
      Merry and Pippin had all joined them for breakfast in the palace's
      large banquet hall. The Hobbits and Haldir had arrived in Gondor a
      few days earlier to see the X-men off. The meal had been delicious,
      the conversation and company bittersweet, made even more so by the
      absence of Boromir and Scott. After the meal the X-men had chosen
      what clothes to leave in and each had chosen something that reminded
      them of the joys of Middle Earth instead of all the blood, pain and
      death they had also seen here.

      Legolas had had Faramir, who was a great painter, paint several
      paintings of Ororo so their daughter would always remember her. He
      himself knew he would never forget his wife and needed no painting
      to remind him of the soul she carried within, the soul he had fallen
      in love with. Faramir had given Ororo a small picture, small enough
      to fit into the palm of her hand, of Legolas as a parting gift. The
      dress Ororo had chosen to wear as she travelled home was long and
      white and had been a gift from Aragorn and Arwen. It was also the
      dress she had worn when Legolas and her had been writing their
      marriage papers.

      "Is everyone ready?" Gandalf asked and looked around at the three X-
      men, taking everyone's thoughts back to the present. They had moved
      to stand outside in the palace's beautiful garden, the Middle Earth
      residents standing off to one side with Gandalf standing with the X-
      men and Ororo holding her baby in her arms. Legolas stood just
      beside her, his arm loose around her waist but this simple show of
      public affection spoke volumes of the sorrow the Elven Prince was
      feeling.

      "Now that we're here…I'm not sure I can do it," Ororo whispered
      brokenly, fighting to keep her tears at bay. It wasn't fair that she
      should leave all this behind. Her sense of honour and loyalty caught
      up with her and she felt ashamed for her thoughts. At least she was
      alive; Scott, Boromir, Jean…So many would never return. Would never
      do anything again. "I'm ready," she said loudly, meeting her
      friends' worried looks head on, a determined look in her eyes. Rogue
      moved towards Aigle, a look of deep sympathy on her face as she
      looked at Ororo. She removed her glove on her right hand and moved
      it towards Aigle, not touching her. Like Ororo she was dressed in a
      long dress, this one was green, and had been a gift from Eowyn after
      Rogue a few weeks back had won her first sword fight against her
      without the aid of the powers she had borrowed from Gandalf.

      "You are certain this will not hurt my daughter?" Legolas asked
      worried, his eyes going to Gandalf.

      "There is a risk to everything but Rogue and I have tried to
      practice on her husband and it has gone well," Gandalf calmed him
      and Logan couldn't help but grin a bit at this. Rogue had been
      reluctant to try taking a bit of Logan's powers and then transfer
      them to Gandalf but Logan had been insistent; his healing factor
      would protect him and it would help her in taking just enough from
      Aigle without harming her when the time came.

      "Aigle does not have a warrior's strength," Legolas reminded him but
      stepped a little away from Ororo anyway, having faith in Gandalf and
      knowing that Rogue would rather die than hurt his little girl.

      "I'll be very careful," Rogue promised, having the fear herself that
      she might hurt Aigle. She took a deep breath to calm herself. "On
      your signal," she said to Gandalf who nodded. He moved to stand
      beside Rogue, preparing himself to manipulate the magic around him,
      closing his eyes and reaching out to touch the magic of Middle
      Earth, asking nature Herself for help. After some time which Ororo
      and Legolas had used to share an almost desperate embrace, his arms
      closing around her from behind, Gandalf opened his eyes. "Now," he
      ordered and Rogue quickly touched Aigle's cheek with the faintest
      touch before quickly removing her hand. Gandalf closed his eyes
      again as he found the energy Rogue had harvested and began to mould
      and fold it. Rogue felt like someone was tearing at her heart and
      she gave a yell of pain. It hadn't hurt this badly when Gandalf had
      taken Logan's powers from her and she assumed it was the baby's
      Elven and therefore to her foreign, powers that made it hurt so
      much. Logan was at her side at once, his strong arms holding her
      close.

      "Shh…it'll be okay, baby," he whispered, trying to be strong for her
      but her pain was tearing him apart.

      "Oh, God!" she yelled as another spasm of pain hit her and her legs
      gave way under her. Logan eased them both to the ground and she
      clung to him as if for dear life. He stroked her hair and mumbled
      nonsense words of comfort. It seemed like forever but was probably
      only a few minutes when Rogue lifted her face from his shoulder and
      wiped the tears of pain away from her eyes.

      "I'm fine now," she assured him and smiled, trying to ease the worry
      and concern she could easily read in his eyes and on his face. He
      nodded relieved and kissed her still gloved hand. She turned around
      in his embrace and looked at Legolas and Ororo, her eyes focusing on
      Aigle. "How is she?" she asked worried.

      Ororo looked down at her daughter and smiled fondly. "She's alright.
      She didn't seem to feel any pain."

      "Thank God," Rogue mumbled and felt like she could breathe easier.
      Hurting Aigle had been her greatest fear about this plan. All eyes
      turned to Gandalf and they heard a sudden sharp `swoosh' sound.
      Three meters from Gandalf he had created a strange hole the size of
      a door that seemed to be made up of standing whitish, almost glowing
      water.

      "Wow," Rogue mumbled, saying what they were all thinking. She made a
      movement in Logan's arms to indicate she wanted up and he rose,
      helping her to stand. She gave him a smile as thanks and to indicate
      she was really all right before she returned to stare at the glowing
      portal, Logan's arms closing around her waist and she leaned back
      against him.

      "Are we sure this will lead us to Earth?" Ororo asked, her arms
      instinctively having tightened around her baby in a protective
      gesture.

      "No but it is the most reliable conclusion. I felt Aigle's energy
      help create this portal and her energy was foreign to me," Gandalf
      explained seriously.

      For a few minutes no one moved, as if everyone were fascinated by
      the magic they saw and the fact that they were finally here, saying
      goodbye yet not before they had been forced to say a final goodbye
      to so many friends on the way. Because of their losses and the
      people they would part with, it was a bittersweet moment.

      "Well…let's get going," Logan said, releasing Rogue from his hold
      and going towards the portal. They had all said their farewell to
      the others but Logan stopped in front of Gandalf. "I owe you one,"
      he said and offered his hand. Gandalf smiled a little and shook it,
      knowing those words covered a multiple of meanings like `I now think
      of you as my friend' or as Wolverine would say, a member of his
      pack, people he cared for and protected.

      "You have all done so much for us that the titles and gold Elessar
      King gave you can never fully convey our gratitude. Middle Earth
      will miss you," Gandalf said heartfelt as Logan drew back.

      "Yeah, well…" Logan looked uncomfortable in the face of such praise.
      They could only take very few objects with them; only what they
      could have on their persons. Dressed in his finest clothes from
      Middle Earth, a set Rogue enjoyed to see him in, saying he looked
      like a prince, Logan had only taken a small Elven dagger and three
      coins from Gondor with him; one proclaiming Boromir as Steward which
      had never been in use but had been only a few prints made in his
      honour after his death, one from Faramir's short reign and one from
      Aragorn's kingship. "Just tell Faramir that I'll be back to let him
      taste my claws if he does go through with his idea of creating
      statues of us all," Logan complained good natured.

      "I will," Gandalf agreed, by now used to Logan's way of teasing and
      knowing that Faramir would make the tribute statues anyway as it was
      his way of feeling connected to his friends. He had already started
      working on a statue of his brother, his dedication in wishing to
      have it turn out perfectly would probably mean he would work on it
      for a couple of years. However, when done there was no doubt that it
      would be the statue that touched the viewer the most of all the
      statues in the royal garden.

      Rogue came to Logan, having put her glove back on. Her right hand
      found his and he gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. "Ororo?" Rogue
      gently prompted and Ororo reluctantly drew out of Legolas's embrace.
      She planted a soft kiss to Aigle's forehead, tears falling down her
      cheeks as she handed her daughter to Legolas who took the precious
      bundle and held her close to his heart.

      "Nîn meleth…My beloved wife," Legolas said softly as he gave her a
      long kiss, trying to put all his love and all his pain of her
      departure into that single gesture.

      Ororo gently stroked his cheek. "How can I leave now when I have
      just found everything I have always been looking for?" she
      whispered, her voice betraying the agony she felt within.

      "I ask myself the same but we cannot let personal goals bring our
      worlds to ruin, no matter how hard that is," Legolas replied, his
      eyes and voice reflecting his own turmoil. Their eyes locked and
      they knew everything had already been said…there was nothing left to
      do. Ororo forced herself to turn away and with determined steps and
      tears down her cheeks she reached Logan and Rogue. She could read
      their concern easily and fought to put up a brave front as she wiped
      her tears away with the back of her hand.

      "I'm alright," she assured but fooled no one.

      "It is time," Gandalf said and Logan nodded.

      "Let's go," he simply said and holding Rogue's hand he moved to the
      tunnel. There was no pull from it; it was like standing before a
      mirror of glass. Rogue's free hand found Ororo's right hand,
      intending to keep the grip on her husband and her friend through the
      tunnel. Logan was just about to take the step that would take him
      through the tunnel when Ororo tore her hand to herself.

      "No!" she protested loudly. Logan turned back towards her and she
      came to him, standing face to face with him.

      "'Ro?" he questioned.

      "Please understand, my friend," she begged. "I see the life I will
      lead back on Earth and I see myself as alone and lonely as I was
      before. I will never marry, never have children…never find anyone
      new to love. I will die alone as I will have lived alone."

      "You will find someone," Logan protested.

      She shook her head. "No." She foresaw his protest and held up a hand
      to stop his words before they were spoken. "Do not disagree with me;
      I know the truth of my words."

      "What are you saying?" Rogue asked concerned. Ororo turned to look
      at her younger friend and gave her a small smile.

      "I have more reasons to stay than to go. Scott is dead as are Jean.
      They were my closest friends. Unlike you I do not travel home with
      my beloved…I leave my family behind."

      "I wish you to be happy even if it means I can never see you again
      but what about the growing storms?" Rogue asked.

      "Maybe it is enough you two leave. Maybe I am now a part of Middle
      Earth. All the Elves I have met have told me my connection to the
      Earth reminds them of their own," Ororo suggested hopefully.

      "There is also the theory we talked about some time ago…" Logan said
      thoughtfully. At Rogue and Ororo's questioning look he
      elaborated, "Our idea that maybe we are in the past so that maybe
      Scott and Jean will be alive when we return because they cannot die
      before they were born. This would then apply to you too," he said to
      Ororo. "When you have lived a full life with Legolas you would still
      die long before you were born and would be alive in our own time. To
      Rogue and myself, it would be as if you stepped through the portal
      with us." His logical explanation made Ororo fondly remember why
      Scott had always listened to Logan when he did in fact consider his
      options instead of letting his animal side control his actions and
      outbursts.

      "The portal would in essence kill us so we could be reborn in our
      own time," Rogue concluded.

      "Something like that," Logan agreed.

      "It is just a theory," Ororo said but hope was in her eyes and voice.

      "'Ro, everything about this is nothin' but theories," Logan reminded
      her gently.

      "Logan, I cannot hold the portal open much longer," Gandalf warned,
      his voiced strained by the effort and Logan nodded his understanding
      to him.

      "I can't say I understand how you can choose to live like this, give
      up so much but love…Love I understand," Logan said warmly, his eyes
      sweeping over Rogue who smiled back at him. "I understand all the
      trials, all the rules you'll break for love."

      "I know," she said simply, knowing that Logan and Rogue would one
      day, as they grew older, have to deal with the fact that they would
      most likely never have children, never even have sex and that Rogue
      would die many, many years before Logan.

      "I wish you would come with us but you must make your own decision
      and I'll support it, no matter what it is. If all things fail then
      maybe you can somehow create a new portal you could enter," Logan
      suggested, not sure if that was possible without Rogue but it might
      be.

      "I could be risking the fate of two worlds. How would I ever be able
      to live with that? I would know how Middle Earth would fare but not
      Earth," she protested half heatedly.

      "If you left you would know how Earth was but never Middle Earth,"
      Logan gently reminded her. "Besides, as said, we don't know if
      leaving will end the storms here in Middle Earth. It might worsen
      them. We don't know if all of us needs to leave or just some of us.
      Every decision has equally many unknowns."

      "Follow your heart," Rogue advised and Ororo smiled before her eyes
      settled on Aigle's in her father's arms. Aigle's reached out her
      arms towards her mother, a happy smile on her face as she mumbled
      nonsense words.

      "I…" She knew what she wanted but she felt bad just considering it.

      "'Ro, I've never seen you do anything for yourself. I've never seen
      you be selfish…There would be nothing wrong with being selfish now…
      just once," Logan said softly, guessing her thoughts.

      She smiled at him and hugged him close, her decision made. "I will
      return. If the storms do not settle down I will leave as well, one
      way or another," Ororo vowed. If the storms settled down her natural
      death should bring her back. If not then everything would already be
      lost due to Scott and Jean's deaths in Middle Earth so she had to
      believe her death would set things right. Therefore, if they could
      not recreate the portal she knew she need only die to save both
      worlds. It would be a death she would not fear as her sense of duty
      and her feeling of guilt would make it an easily made sacrifice.

      "Take care and be happy," Rogue said as she hugged Ororo as well.
      Logan again took Rogue's hand and Rogue waved to Faramir, Aragorn
      and the others who had remained at a respectful distance.

      Legolas went to Ororo, tears like pearls glimmering in his eternal
      eyes as he smiled, his joy written all over his face. He balanced
      their daughter with one hand, embracing Ororo with the other,
      holding her close. She laid her arms around his neck and breathed in
      his scent, at peace with her decision.

      "This time around try to play nice and don't go picking up any more
      glittering objects," Logan yelled and earned a heartfelt laugh from
      Gimli. His eyes softened when they fell on Ororo and her small
      family. "See you around," he simply said and smiled at her before he
      stepped through the portal, a firm grip on Rogue's hand.

      "Bye," Rogue said before she too disappeared inside the portal. When
      both X-men were gone from view the portal closed itself and silence
      settled over the garden.

      "Goodbye, my friends. I shall miss you," Ororo mumbled and sensing
      her mixed emotions of sadness and joy Legolas pulled her closer, his
      lips dancing over her forehead in a kiss as loving and soft as
      butterfly wings.

      "Fare well," Gandalf mumbled, his eyes on the ground where the
      portal had been moments before. Only silence answered him.

      Epilogue
      Sixty-seven years had gone by since Rogue and Logan's departure. The
      storms had settled down and Ororo had remained in Middle Earth.
      Aigle had grown up to have her father's immortality and easy grace
      as well as the amazing athletic strength of the Elven people but had
      inherited her mother's white hair and her eyes were totally white as
      well. She was able to fly or rather glide on the winds but could
      otherwise not manipulate the weather. She had been warned that if
      she married a mortal she would have to give up her immortality but
      she had readily done so when she had fallen in love with Faramir and
      Eowyn's oldest son, proving herself to be as sacrificing as her
      parents. Ororo and Legolas had had one more child, another girl, who
      had only a vague hint of pointed ears but had Legolas's hair and
      eyes. However she had inherited Ororo's mutant gene and had
      developed telepathy, one of the more common mutations back on Earth.
      Due to her mutation she preferred the company of Elves whose
      thoughts were ordered and pure and did not hurt her mind. Ororo had
      tried to teach her how to put up mental shields but as each year
      passed by she lost more and more memories of Earth and she couldn't
      recall Xavier's lessons, especially since they had never been
      relevant for her. This meant that often being in the company of men
      or other races than Elves pained her and even her mother's presence
      could pain her if she spent too much time with her. Ororo had a much
      calmer and more ordered mind than most humans and of humans she and
      Faramir, both having calm and gentle minds, were Ororo's second
      child's favorite people but they did not have the mental abilities
      of the Elves. Thus their second child, named Jean after Ororo's
      friend, were her father's child like Aigle had been her mother's.

      Ororo and Legolas had gotten no more children but had often taken
      care of Aragorn and Arwen's since they lived at the palace. Aragorn
      and Arwen had gotten eleven daughters until they finally got the
      male heir they needed, a fact which especially Eowyn had protested
      against, finding it unfair that the youngest child would inherit
      simply because of his gender. Eowyn and Faramir had got only one
      child, a boy they had named Boromir Eomer, honouring their brothers
      who they loved dearly. He had inherited his father's gentle beauty
      and love for art and poetry but had his mother's fire when he saw an
      injustice. He was probably one of the most honourable warriors in
      Gondor, only fighting if there was no other way. He was also a great
      supporter for all his mother's causes, like better rights for women
      and his father's passionate cause to better the living conditions
      for the commoners. Faramir and Eowyn had their own palace but would
      spend many days at Aragorn's palace in Minas Tirith and over the
      years Aigle and Boromir had fallen in love. Forfeiting her
      immortality for her love Aigle also gave up her title as princess of
      Mirkwood to marry Boromir who would inherit his father's title as
      prince as well as his mother's titles and grounds in Rohan giving
      her the status as princess of Rohan and Ithilien after her marriage.
      Since Legolas was not the oldest or an only child Jean would inherit
      Legolas's titles and lands but given his own immortality she had
      quite a few years in which she could prepare for any royal duties,
      especially considering that Legolas himself didn't yet attend to any
      and he was over 6000 years old.

      The years had seemed to pass by quickly. Ororo's thoughts would
      often wander to her friends and when Faramir had finished his
      statues she would come to the royal garden from where her friends
      had left and would sit and talk to the statues of her friends. She
      especially loved the one of Scott; he looked regal in royal
      Gondorian robes, a serious and protecting state over him but there
      was a sadness to his eyes that Faramir had caught masterly,
      remembering the pain Phoenix's presence had brought him. Talking to
      the lifelike statue had made her feel as if he had been resurrected
      in some way. For obvious reasons he hadn't done one for Jean as to
      Middle Earth there had never been a Jean, only Phoenix.

      Ororo had spent her time learning to sew and learning about Middle
      Earth politics and history. She had learnt how to speak Legolas's
      Elven dialect and read Elvish literature as well as literature from
      the other races. She would try and come up with small inventions,
      like a primitive kind of indoor plumbing which had been inspired by
      the indoor plumbing in the Roman noble houses on Earth during the
      reign of the Roman Empire. She had tried to help create a more
      comfortable existence for everyone as she took the fact that Middle
      Earth had accepted her as a sign that she could give Middle Earth as
      many improvements from Earth as possible. The people of Gondor loved
      and admired her and she learned to love her new life. Legolas and
      her spent most of their time in Gondor in Aragorn's palace so
      Legolas could also enjoy his time with his mortal bond brother,
      Aragorn. Her only sorrow was the absence of her friends and the
      uncertainty about their fate. Had they reached Earth? Were they
      well? Was Earth alright? Had Jean and Scott returned to Earth upon
      their deaths? It was logical to assume that since the storms had
      ceased in Middle Earth that Earth would be safe as well but she
      didn't know for sure.

      Now, in her 102nd year of life nothing could prevent her from
      sliding into a sleep from which she would never awake. She had asked
      Legolas to stay and not follow her into death. With their two
      daughters remaining Legolas had promised to try and do just that.
      Aragorn had from his ancestors inherited a longer life span than
      other humans and as long as he remained Legolas had vowed he would
      remain as well. Of the council of friends they had kept since the
      War they had had to bury Eomer who had died from a fever illness
      twenty years prior and Faramir and Eowyn had died four years ago,
      dying within days of each other, Eowyn following her husband. Frodo
      had left for the Undying Lands only a few years after the end of the
      War, unable to settle back into the quiet life of the Shire, having
      been too scarred by the War. Sam had wished to follow him but Frodo
      had wanted him to stay and as always Sam had done what he had been
      asked to do. However, the day Sam himself had died, more than forty
      years after Frodo, had been the first time since Frodo's departure
      that Ororo had ever seen the kind hearted Hobbit smile. Merry and
      Pippin had lived full lives at the Shire but hadn't been unmarked by
      their experience and had often visited Faramir at his palace,
      talking about his brother who they had all loved. They had never
      been able to get over Boromir's death and because of that Ororo had
      been glad that the two Hobbits had died before Faramir for his
      death, their last link to Boromir, would have grieved them greatly.
      Now, besides Arwen and Aragorn the only ones left from the War were
      the Elves and an ageing Gimli who Legolas would help to the Undying
      Lands within a few years.

      When Ororo had felt her time was near she had requested to be moved
      to the palace garden from where her friends had departed so many
      years ago and Legolas had carried his dying wife himself, down all
      the stairs of the palace and out into the beautiful sunny autumn
      garden, filled with colourful flowers and beautiful statues, many of
      them of Faramir's design. Legolas had had a waiter set up a
      beautifully Elven carved and soft diva and had gently laid Ororo
      down upon it. He covered her frail and weak body dressed in the
      finest of night-dresses made from white silk with a soft white
      blanket.

      Legolas then knelt beside her on the grass and stroked her face,
      pearly tears appearing in his eyes.

      "Do not weep for me, husband. This is the nature of all things…the
      way all living things, big or small, must end their days," Ororo
      said softly, weakly and tried to stroke his hair but lacked the
      strength. Legolas caught her hand in his and softly kissed her palm.

      "Yet I will not," he mumbled, locking eyes with her. She smiled
      faintly.

      "No, my magical beloved. You will never grow old." Even in his grief
      he looked as beautiful as he had the first day they had met. While
      some humans who married Elves came to resent them for their eternal
      youth while they themselves grew old Ororo had never done so, never
      felt that way. Growing old and dying was a natural process that she
      had never tried to fight, knowing she wouldn't win.

      "Nîn meleth," he whispered, a lump in his throat.

      "Shh, love. Listen," she said and her eyes went to the leaves
      dancing in the wind and the treetops being moved by that same
      wind. "Can you hear?"

      Rushing leaves, small animals, the smell of flowers…"Life, melda,
      life" he said with a longing almost desperate edge to his voice.

      "Life and death," she corrected gently. Her eyelids grew heavy and
      she knew it was time. "You gave me the life I thought I could never
      have. You gave me love. I thank you," she whispered.

      "My love will always be yours. Till the end of time," he said
      sincerely and held her hand close, holding it over his heart.

      She smiled warmly, her eyes looking at his still young and handsome
      face. She still couldn't believe he had stayed with her till the
      end, loving her despite her ageing body yet that was how Elves
      loved, wholly and with their souls, having no concern for physical
      appearance. "I would have made any sacrifice to stay with you. I
      just pray no one else had to pay the price for my happiness."

      Knowing this was her greatest concern Legolas stroked her now thin
      and grey but still beautiful long hair. "What words is it you use
      when you pray to your Goddess? Have faith? Have faith now, my wife…
      Have faith." He softly kissed her forehead and as he drew back she
      smiled at him, her eyes closing.

      "You made my life worth living," she whispered softly, her voice
      fading.

      "An eternity without love is a curse; not a blessing. You blessed my
      life," he whispered, tears falling down his cheeks when he realised
      her eyes had frozen, half-open they stared at him, never to move
      again. Her lips were slightly curved towards a smile and she looked
      peaceful, like a natural extension of the beautiful autumn day. The
      sun was setting, bathing the garden in rays of red and yellow.

      "Nîn meleth… Lye inye melme," he whispered as tears blurred his
      vision. He had known she was dying but still felt a sharp pain in
      his soul when he lost the connection with her soul. But it was his
      heart that hurt as he realised this was the end. He remained
      kneeling by the diva, holding Ororo's hand, his head resting beside
      Ororo's on the pillow as the year's first snow began to fall. The
      sun rose and the sun set yet he remained. Aragorn came to get him on
      the third day when the ground was frozen and the two lovers lay
      beneath a blanket of snow. First then did he let go of the woman who
      had become his life.

      * * *

      Time went by, borders changed, countries rose and fell as the Dwarf
      race died with Gimli and the last Elves left the lands.

      Years turned into decades. Decades turned into millenniums and
      slowly history became legend and legend became myth. A fairytale
      arose from the mist of time, telling about four magical warriors
      from another place with powers unseen to Middle Earth, a brave
      leader, a beautiful Goddess, a mighty man-beast with claws of silver
      and a sorceress tormented by her own powers. It told of the brave
      sacrifice of the leader of the men of Gondor and of the leader of
      the strangers. It told of the evil Phoenix, who was as evil as she
      was beautiful. It told the bittersweet tale of the man-beast and the
      sorceress who was wedded in love but who had been cursed for their
      forbidden passion so that they could never touch. It told a tale of
      an Elven prince and the Goddess, who sacrificed everything to stay
      with the Elven prince she had come to love. It told of a bloody and
      terrible war that had given birth to heroes and villains alike and
      which had given birth to the strongest of loves and the deadliest of
      sleeps.

      Untouched by change, deep within ruins which had once been a mighty
      castle lay a beautiful flowery garden, filled with statues which
      even now, plagued by age, seemed to shine. Legend said that on a
      warm autumn night when one could hear the rushing of leaves and the
      sound of small animals. When one could smell the most bittersweet of
      flowers…then if one looked closely, one could see two figures in the
      garden, a woman laying on a diva and her Elven lover kneeling beside
      her, keeping vigil over her till the end of time.

      The End

      Author's notes
      Elfish words:

      Nîn meleth – my love

      Lye inye melme – I love you

      melda - beloved

      I'm not fluent in any Elfish dialect so if this isn't 100% correct
      don't kill me here.

      On this last parts political views…I'm keeping with the X-men's
      vision of tolerance and peace. That's really all there is to it.

      Well…here we are…After 3 years, almost 4, I was beginning to wonder
      if this day would ever come!

      Yes. It's finish. This story is completed at around 300 pages. It's
      kinda strange that this story will no longer be a part of my life…

      Since this story has been written over so many years I find it needs
      some major changes so I'm going to rewrite it in one sitting, making
      it just the way I always wished to present this novel.

      If you're interested in reading the improved, longer and illustrated
      (I love pictures!) version please e-mail me (nadjalee2000 @
      hotmail.com) or leave your e-mail as a part of your comments and I
      will let you know when it is out and where to find it. I plan to
      have the rewritten version done within some four months time. The
      new version will include many new chapters as well as a longer
      ending. If you have anything you wish to see in a longer and more
      complete version of this story please let me know and I'll look into
      it.

      Well, I guess all there's left to say is say thanks so much to all
      who has stayed with me. Your support and your kind feedback have
      meant the world to me. Special thanks to all my betas who has helped
      improve this fic. Thanks to Jonas for beta on this chapter *hugs*

      Thank you all for staying with me. I hope you found it worth it.

      As always feedback will save my life (or at least make my year
      *smiles*).

      Love

      Nadja
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