A gentle breeze played with tendrils of fine golden hair as Elindelé stepped out into the open air. She closed her eyes a moment, enjoying the soft caress, then turned in search of the elfling that had ‘escorted’ her from Menegroth to Dor Firn-i-Guinar.
‘Elfling…ai!’ Elindelé grinned, imagining the look she would receive were her son to hear her call him an elfling.
‘It seems only yesterday that it was he entering the world….’ She shook her head, thoughtfully. Thirty-four summers had passed since his first breath. Thranduil was nearly grown -- as he oft reminded any that would hear.
Elindelé’s smile brightened as he came into view. Pacing the river too far away to have heard the first sounds of new life, there was barely contained excitement visible in Thranduil’s every step, and a myriad of emotions danced across his fair features. Trepidation and anticipation were foremost…but there was also ever-present impatience.
‘Impatient…ai! Ever so impatient to grow up and see and do and know all.’ Her expression dimmed again, joy melding with weariness and shifting into melancholy. Without realizing she had stopped moving, Elindelé studied her youngest child. The gangliness of just a year ago was beginning fade into lithesome beauty, though he still seemed all legs, arms and neck.
‘And ears,’ She thought with a pensive smile, as a breeze lifted the soft waves of his long golden locks and sent them dancing.
Elindelé strode slowly onward, noticing for the first time that the roundness of babyhood had melted away to reveal high, delicate cheekbones, and the rosebud lips that so oft graced her cheeks with butterfly kisses had thinned. Still, some fullness remained, creating a strong, expressive…rather commanding mouth.
His eyes had not changed, though, or had they? Reflecting the silvery-blue of his short, belted tunic, their grey was the hue of a clear summer’s morning. That was as it had always been, but his eyes had changed somewhat. Always keen and expressive, they had become increasingly storm-tossed, as though reflecting the growing turmoil of Beleriand.
A smile crept to Elindelé’s lips as she thought of her son’s eyes. Thranduil had long since learned to use them to gain him his way more often than was, perhaps, good for him. They could not, however, be held solely to blame for his occasioned overindulgence. Thranduil held some innate charm, or power, within him. Though hardly more than an elfling, his presence was already a commanding. Yet he did not command; confident in himself, he simply led, and others followed.
Some perceived that it was temper, more than charm, that so oft got him his way, but Elindelé knew better. Thranduil indeed had a temper, which oft showed itself most abruptly. Yet rarely did it burst forth to gain favor for himself. It was deep loyalty and protectiveness that made him sometimes fierce, as well as, fear and distrust.
‘But what else could be expected in one born in such a time,’ Elindelé lamented with a sad shake of her head. He had been so young when his beloved Luthien departed, stolen away by Beren, and then Turin, another Man, had come. Elindelé shook her head again, this time a slight smile touching her lips. ’Turin and Thranduil…ai! Fire and water those two were.’
Then the mortal had stolen away Thranduil’s beloved Beleg, just as Thalionel had come of age and begun spending more time with Oropher, and less time with his baby brother. And, all the while, rumor of battle and turmoil without plagued the halls of Menegroth.
Elindelé feared Thranduil dwelled too much on whom and what would be lost to him next. It was hardly a wonder that he could be fierce. Yet along with the fierceness, and the ever-present impatience that flowed from her son, there was quiet strength. It seemed rather incongruous to Elindelé, yet even now, pacing the bank, nearly bursting with excitement, a stillness hovered just beneath the surface. At times, it seemed almost mournful, as though the shadow that had settled over Doriath since Luthien's departure had settled in his soul. Yet also there was an irrepressible light within him that seemed, at other times, to chase away that very shadow. Her kindhearted son did not let his fears prevent him from delighting in the world around him. In fact, oft to her dismay, he never seemed to weary of seeking new marvels in which to wonder.
‘The reason, I fear, he is so very impatient to grow up and see and do and know all,’ Elindelé mused, her melancholy shifting back into excitement. “And the reason he is here….”
She moved more quickly toward her son, a broad, joyful grin lighting her fair features. Thranduil had insisted on ‘escorting’ her to Dor Firn-i-Guinar in the expectation of delighting in one of Arda’s greatest wonders – a newborn child. It was a sight he had never before seen; increasingly fewer children graced the halls of Menegroth as time passed, and none had done so within Thranduil’s memory. It would not due to make him wait any longer for the experience. Anticipating her son’s expression upon introduction to his new cousins, Elindelé nearly skipped the remaining distance.
Thranduil approached his father’s sister almost warily, his eyes growing wider with every step.
“Naneth…there are two of them….”
Staring fixedly at the bundles sleeping peacefully in Nimloth’s arms, he halted several yards from the bed, too awe-struck to remember to keep his feet moving.
“Aye, ion-nin, there are indeed two of them,” Elindelé replied laughingly.
“Come, sit beside the bed and I shall introduce you,” Nimloth urged, smiling wearily and gesturing him nearer. When he did not heed, Elindelé move to his side, wrapped his arm in hers, and guided him.
“They are so small…,” Thranduil murmured, gazing in wonderment at the two identical round faces. He reached out a tentative finger that hovered a hair’s breath above the nearest newborn cheek, pale as moonlight.
“Indeed, but it is permissible to touch them, all the same,” his aunt prodded, her grin broadening.
A stupefied smile crept onto Thranduil’s face as his finger made contact with the soft peach-fuzz of infant flesh. He moved his hand up and petted a swath of ebony hair, caressing around an ear that held only the barest hint of point. The babe’s eyes opened, and his new cousin graced Thranduil with a wide yawn, drawing a broader grin to young elf’s face. A tiny fist moved toward crimson, rose-petal lips, but Thranduil caught it and maneuvered the small hand around his finger, marveling at the tiny digits with their miniscule fingernails.
“That lively one is Elurin. He was second born, which did not please him at all. And this contented one…” Nimloth led his gaze to the infant in her other arm. “….is Elured.”
“Mae govannen.” Releasing the tiny hand, Thranduil mustered all the solemn reverence he could manage and saluted a proper Elvish greeting. The wonderment, though, soon crept back into his features, and his hand drifted back to Elurin’s tiny fist.
“He seems have taken to you. Perchance you would care to hold him?”
Thranduil looked up to find to asker of the question and belatedly registered that his cousin stood not far away. Not quite thirty winters had past since last he has seen her, which was nearly as far back as he could remember. Her face then had shone with the light of the Maiar. Her eyes, grey as a starlit evening, had been keen and bright. Her hair, dark as the shadows of twilight, had flown in long, lustrous waves. Her voice, sweet as a nightingale, had been light as clear water; it had not changed, but her face no longer shone. Her eyes, though still keen, were weary, and grey streak the dull waves of her long hair.
Accepting the infant she offered him with a numb nod, Thranduil forced his gaze from the fading form of his beloved Luthien. Turning it upon the wonder that was her grandson, he closed his eyes, letting mingled tears of joy and sorrow flow into the blanket as he breathed deeply the sweet scent of new life.
A/N#: The description of Luthien in her youth is derived from The Silmarillion, Chapter 19 - Of Beren and Luthien.
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