An impatient knock on the door caused the Lord of Imladris to look up instinctively, recognising the particular urgency of the tapping.
"Come in!" he called, almost apologetically, hoping it had better be worth this interruption.
Legolas had his hand on the handle even before his foster father had called out, and would have barged into the room whether or not he had been given the cue to do so, for he had worked himself up by now into a proper state of anxiety. Flinging open the door, he walked resolutely into the room. "Ada, something must be done! We played a trick on Elrohir, and he is now completely beset himself with anger, and refuses to speak to us! And this is on top of his behaviour this past week, this cannot go on - "
The sentence was cut off abruptly by a look from the half-Elven, and the prince of Eryn Galen followed his eyes to the window, and realised that they were not alone. Blushing, he lowered his eyes to the ground and waited, not knowing what to do.
Elrond's guest, who happened to be gazing out of the window, had gone oddly stiff upon the entry of the Silvan Elf. Legolas had not caught a proper glimpse of the visitor, and now instead just stood staring at his feet uncomfortably. He snuck a look at Elrond, whose face remained expressionless and impartial.
The Elf at the window turned around, finally speaking.
"Legolas," he called softly, his voice causing the young prince to stumble back, looking up, shock written all over his fair face. Legolas almost panicked, upon seeing the calm face before him, but quickly tried to compose himself, knowing that it was the only thing he could do. At the same time, he already knew how inadequate his reaction had been, and could have screamed at his stupidity.
"Father." A thousand emotions rushed through the mind of the Elven prince, and he fought to keep his face expressionless and respectful, exactly the way he had been taught to do.
Not to his surprise, Thranduil merely nodded at him, neither showing anger nor joy at seeing his son again.
"What business brings you to Imladris, Father?" Legolas finally managed to ask, cursing the wobbly tone in his voice, and hiding his quivering hands behind his back, dread starting to fill him as he realised the situation he was now in. His father was proud to the extreme, even a young Elf like Legolas knew that he blamed Imladris for the death of Oropher, and now, here stood his only child, addressing the high-Lord as he would his father.
"Legolas, the situation in Eryn Galen is pressing. New developments have sprung up, and it is imperative you leave ere the end of the week. I will announce this at the feast tonight in honour of the King's visit," Elrond interrupted, finally stepping in, seeing clearly how affected both father and son were at the reunion, even though both fought hard to mask their emotions. If ever were there a pair of stubborn Elves!
The young Elf bowed low, before striding over and kneeling before his father. Taking the other's hands in his own, he kissed them formally, before speaking. "My heart warms to see you again, father. I shall seek an audience with you in your chambers, at a time convenient to you, mayhap after you have rested, for your journey has been long."
The words caused Elrond's impartial face to melt into a disbelieving gape, and he quickly followed the lithe figure out of the room, nodding apologetically at Thranduil. So this was the extent to which Thranduil kept his son away from him! Legolas had been so measured, so seemingly in control of his emotions, to an extent that Elrond had not thought possible. This threw everything he knew, or thought he knew about the boy into a completely different light.
Calling out at the quickly retreating figure, he caught up with his foster son.
"Ada?" Legolas tried a neutral smile.
"That does not fool me, neth-pen," he chastised, drawing a more genuine half-grimace from the other.
"Worry not about your father, for I shall make him see sense!" Elrond spoke, half-jokingly.
An appreciative smile lit the face of the Silvan Elf, although it settled into a worried frown.
"What did you wish to speak to me about regarding Elrohir?" Elrond asked gently.
"Do not worry yourself over such trivial matters, ada! My father awaits your return, and surely that is a more pressing issue! It is but a small problem that I can handle."
"Very well then." Elrond leaned over and gave a quick reassuring hug to the young Elf before returning to his study.
For the first time ever, an immense wave of gratefulness welled up in Thranduil for his contemporary as he watched the half-Elven lord re-enter the study. It was suddenly now clear to him that it was Elrond who had been responsible for Legolas maintaining his last vestiges of his true self, a fact the king knew all along, but had simply refused to accept.
"Thank you for looking after my son," he whispered, fighting back the tears.
That was the last thing Elrond had expected to hear, for he had been convinced that Thranduil was filled with rage upon finding out about their relationship.
Seeing the surprised look flicker across the face of the Elflord, Thranduil smiled wistfully and spoke again, "You express surprise at my reaction, do you not?"
Seeing no point in denying anything, Elrond simply nodded.
"I have erred much, and cannot see how I can ever redeem myself," Thranduil continued, not realising that he was sharing his deepest, darkest thoughts to one who was almost a complete stranger. "I know fair well that Legolas does not see me as his father, for I owe him much."
The half-Elf stood by helplessly, thinking hard before he eventually spoke. "He loves you. I have no doubts about that."
A hard, ironic smile replaced the sad features of the king.
"Legolas loves everyone, and that precisely is his problem. It does not say a lot about how he feels for this father of his."
"He will always look upon you as his father."
"You know this?" Thranduil allowed a notion of hope to creep into his voice. It had been such a long time since he had allowed himself to hope.
Elrond nodded firmly, still stunned by the emotional outflow. So, this was the real Thranduil. Sympathy for the king rose in his compassionate heart. While it was true that he too had lost his wife, at least Elrond could claim to have his three, maybe four, children to make up for it, as well as Glorfindel. Thranduil, however, only had Legolas left, his estranged son. Perhaps it was time for the high-Lord of Imladris to finally interfere in the matters of the Royal House of Eryn Galen.
"Talk to him. he does not want it to have to be this way," he encouraged.
Unsurprisingly, Thranduil shook his head obstinately, "I feel unfit to do so, for it is I that am the sole cause of this unhappy state of affairs."
"It was not of your doing."
A strained silence now passed between the two Lords.
"He addresses you as would a son. Pray tell me what passed in that year for which he was lost to us," Thranduil finally sought the truth.
"Legolas was found by Elrohir as he led a patrol around the perimeters of Eryn Galen. He was badly injured from the crossing, and it took the better part of a year for him to recover," he spoke carefully, conveniently leaving out the details of how Legolas had refused attempts to save him and how he had run away countless times. "We did not know of his background then, and he was too concerned with wanting to leave to tell us anything, and so I took him in as my foster son. It was only months later when we found out his real name and heritage." Having spoken, Elrond looked strangely at Thranduil, who was digesting this information with difficulty. He wondered why the Elven King had taken more than a century to ask this question, for he had not even responded when Legolas had finally been returned to his home. Was his pride really that important to him?
"You wonder why I waited so long. You wonder why I push him away," Thranduil stated plainly. He did not wait for a response, and continued speaking, "Eryn Galen needs a ruler, my people cannot do without a king."
The raven-haired Elf frowned. It simply did not make any sense. Legolas had an older brother till he too passed from Middle-Earth, surely Dethronir would have been king, not Legolas! What did this have to do with Thranduil's isolation of his son at any rate?
"Surely you do not mean - " Sudden realisation dawned upon Elrond, alarm bells starting to go off.
A nod from the monarch confirmed his thoughts.
"When Tuilinniel was lost to us, I was determined to pass into the West and spend the rest of my days within the Havens. At that time I doubted Legolas would have been able to survive the departure of both his parents. He was but a child! To lose both of us would have meant him losing his immortal light. He was so full of life, so innocent, and I could not bear to leave him to languish on his own!"
"And so you distanced yourself from him to make your eventual parting easier!" Elrond was unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice. "For whose sake did you do so? Your own? Did you not realise that by doing so you drove a child of less than twenty to the brink? That he was hurt badly and crying like the child that he was when he was found and would have given up all claims on life had it not been for his burning desire to be reunited with his mother, whom he believed to have passed into the West? Elbereth, Thranduil, what have you done?"
He regretted his outburst immediately after the words came out, and cursed himself mentally as Thranduil let out an anguished sob. Standing there, Elrond surveyed the miserable Elf before him, all traces of anger vanished. Reaching forward, he squeezed the shoulder of the other. "It is not too late to make amends," he counselled.
"What good can I do now?" Thranduil remarked bleakly.
"Banish all thoughts of leaving. Middle-Earth needs you, your people need you, but most of all, Legolas needs you. I do not wish to alarm you, but he is not well. He was poisoned by Orcs a few weeks ago, and despite our efforts, traces of it still remain."
A sickening feeling of dread filled the king, for it sounded too familiar. He stumbled backwards, supporting himself heavily on a chair now. The thought of losing his remaining son was just too much to bear.
"We will not allow him to be lost, I promise you," Elrond stated resolutely. "I believe you are aware that we face an ancient evil more powerful than the dark lord himself, and must be able to fight it with all that we have. We cannot afford to lose Eryn Galen in the struggle, and it seems that you are the hardest hit. You must fight, and Legolas will be by your side through all this."
"I do not see how Legolas can ever forgive me for what I have done to him."
"He has never held it against you."
There was no response as the other pondered over his words.
"Rest is what you need, for it has been a trying journey. Speak to Legolas tomorrow, for it can wait until then," was the advice given.
Thranduil nodded heavily, though yet unsure of his next move.
"Tomorrow, we shall talk further," repeated Elrond firmly, and personally escorted the exhausted king back to his chambers, turning a deaf ear to all protests.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.