"Elrohir!" Although the first impulse of the younger twin was to run upon hearing the voice, something about it told him to stay, in spite of his agitated state.
"Please, do not flee from me!" said the newcomer. The blonde Elf came into full view beneath the boughs of the trees. Elrohir frowned at his appearance, for he seemed to be trembling all over. Still, the Elf hidden within the trees did not move, instead watching warily, waiting for the next move, debating on whether to leave, the earlier betrayal still stinging him.
"It was my fault, Roh! I should never have agreed with Dan to do that with you! Please, I am so sorry! It was a terrible thing to do!"
Seeing how the other was starting to edge away from him in the tree, Legolas took a deep breath. "My father. He is here in Imladris."
Elrohir was startled and concerned enough by the news to drop to the forest floor. He reached forward and touched the elbow of the Silvan Elf. The response he got was heart-rendering, as the prince gave a watery half-smile of gratitude.
"How comes he to be here?" Elrohir asked, trying to gauge just how upset the other was. An irrational anger against Thranduil rose in him. "Have you seen him?"
"Ai, Roh, I walked into him and ada in the study." The tremble Legolas had been fighting to suppress broke free, much to his annoyance. What a spineless creature Elrohir must perceive him to be now! It was no wonder the other had been avoiding him for the past week, ever since he had broken down in front of him that time!
To his surprise, no disgust flitted across the face of his friend, and instead a warm, understanding smile lighted up his handsome features as the twin waited patiently for him to carry on.
"I did not see my father at first, instead I only addressed ada, only realising his presence after!" Legolas said.
Elrohir reached forward immediately, wrapping his strong arms around the slight body.
"I will not let him at you, and neither would ada," he said more to himself than to the younger Elf.
"I am scared, Roh," Legolas managed a small whimper within the embrace. All his pretences of maturity and masked emotions ell away to reveal himself for the young one that he was, and he finally spoke of his fears.
"What should you be fearful of, tithen ernil?"
"My father. You should know how he feels about the last battle and mortals. His wrath will be great."
A sudden surge of anger filled Elrohir as he remembered what had befallen Legolas the last time Thranduil had let his emotions go. "I will let no harm get to you, Lass," he uttered, invoking that nickname of times long past.
Predictably the blonde Elf broke from his embrace, and shook his head emphatically. "I do not mean that, Roh. My father will never hurt me."
Elrohir fought hard but a derisive snort still managed to work its way out of him.
Ignoring his friend's disbelief, Legolas continued to speak. "It is he that I fear will be hurt. How would you feel if your son was taken in as a son by the one who caused the death of your father?"
"Legolas, you do realise it is sometimes good to think about yourself for a change!" Elrohir said in frustration.
"I agree, Master Elrohir," a new voice said
"Esendri!" said Legolas annoyed at being caught unawares.
The head of his servant appeared from the boughs of the tree above, and the Elf casually swung himself down onto the ground. "My apologies for interrupting," he said, sounding anything but.
"What business have you here?" Legolas said
"It seems that two very important people are vying for your undivided attention, my fair prince," Esendri said "His Majesty has sent for you in his chambers."
The frown on the Elven prince's face said it all, and Elrohir could not stop himself from placing a hand on the other's lower back in a hopefully comforting gesture.
"And the other?" Legolas said.
"The Lady Caeriel has also been asking for you. My, Legolas, duty or lust, which would you fulfil first?" Esendri said, jumping away quickly as a livid look appeared across the face of the other.
Legolas lunged forward, managing to just catch the other's arm. He twisted it forcefully behind his back, and marched him aside. Pinning the squirming Esendri face-on to a tree-trunk, he said. "That will do, my dear servant! That was completely out of order, even for one such as you! You soil the Lady's good name with your uncontrollable tongue, and this, I will not allow!"
All the while, Elrohir watched on, his face unreadable, although a strange light flickered in his eyes. In spite of the turmoil within him, the corners of his mouth curled upwards in the tiniest of smiles as he watched Esendri protesting against the treatment.
"My apologies, Roh, for Esendri did not mean to be so casual with his words," Legolas said to Elrohir, who shrugged off the apology without any comment.
"You say my father calls for me?" the prince turned to his servant. Something about his tone caused Esendri to snap out of his sulk, worry filling his face now.
"Legolas, do not read too much into it," he began, turning his gaze to Elrohir, who was trying to appear nonchalant for the other's sake.
"I believe he just wants to discuss the latest turn of events in Eryn Galen," Esendri continued, before leaning forward and giving Legolas a brief hug. "I must run, however. I will see you at the feast tonight!"
Leaving the surprised pair behind, he winked before turning on his heels and rushed off without a further word.
"What was he speaking of?" Elrohir asked Legolas, and only received an equally confused look in return.
"Perhaps we should be heading home?" he continued.
"Yes we should," Legolas answered, not sounding convinced, but taking a few reluctant steps in the direction of the palace.
Walking in silence beside Legolas, Elrohir could not help but sneak a few looks at him, watching coldness take hold of his features. A shiver went down his spine as he saw the way in which his friend forced the change over himself. There was something unnatural about his calm demeanour that made Elrohir feel a sudden urge to grab onto his friend and shake it out of him.
"What did Esendri mean when he spoke of Caeriel?" asked the twin.
A blush crept onto the features of Legolas. "It is nothing,” he said but he saw the unconvinced look upon Elrohir's face.
"A silly infatuation on my part." Legolas seemed to have difficulty getting the words out. He cast his eyes on the ground, refusing to look at the other, quickening his step at the same time."
Elrohir sucked in his breath. Some of his earlier behaviour finally made sense to Elrohir - his distraction whenever she entered the room, the subtle glances he threw in her direction whenever she was about.
"Does she know about this, Legolas?"
A horrified look crossed the face of the blonde Elf. "No, she must never hear of this!"
"I cannot tell you what to do, Legolas. But I promise we will talk in good time," Elrohir continued. They were now within sight of the city. "Do not worry about your father as well, ada shall explain the circumstances in full to King Thranduil, and he will understand. I will see to that personally that he does!"
Seeing the twinkle in his eye, Legolas laughed. "You and what army?" he demanded.
A light punch on the arm from the other signalled an end to the awkwardness that had plagued their initial exchange, much to the delight to both. It was with a considerably lighter heart that Legolas knocked on the door leading to his father's chambers.
The guest chambers were not sound-proofed like those of the principle occupants of the house. Thranduil had heard the approach of his son from a considerable distance away, and his light-hearted bantering with another, who seemed of a young age as well. It was therefore with anticipation that he called for them to enter.
"Father," Legolas stepped forward and knelt before the monarch, only to be quickly made to get to his feet.
"Do not stand on ceremony, my son," he said.
"This is El - " Legolas began, turning to introduce the twin standing behind him.
"I believe I was met by young Master Elladan on the day when I arrived," Thranduil interrupted.
At this, his son laughed, as he recalled how the twins used to enjoy dressing identically to fool those around them, and how even their father had difficulties telling them apart, for they were identical even down to their dimples.
"Nay, father, this is Elrohir, younger son of Lord Elrond!" he said. "Do not worry, father, for I cannot yet tell them apart if their intention was to deceive me!"
Thranduil could not help but smile at the remark, looking at how alike the sons of Elrond were. "Perhaps I should refrain from addressing them by name to avoid embarrassing myself further!"
Elrohir nodded politely and greeted the monarch as one of his kindred, all the while growing increasingly puzzled. Thranduil struck him as being friendly and approachable, a complete contrast to what he had been expecting. He noticed his friend's puzzlement too at the behaviour of the king. However, Elrohir saw that Thranduil had a regal air, and a solemnity and a gracefulness about him, the last of which only was present in his son. Yet, the resemblance was still there, bar the hardness and sadness that was barely masked in those green eyes. Would this be what those blue ones look like, after he had been tested by centuries of experience?
"It is my pleasure to make your acquaintance, Your Majesty, for Legolas has spoken much of you," he said. He felt his dislike for the other lessening already.
The look Thranduil gave Legolas was difficult to read, but Elrohir could have sworn he saw some tinge of regret in the way he regarded his son.
"I trust all is to your liking. The reunion between father and son is long-overdue. Do let us know if we can do anything to make your stay more comfortable," Elrohir continued, making his friend laugh with his formality. While known for being a diplomat, Elrohir was never one to stand on ceremony. It was strange to hear him speak so properly. Shooting Legolas a cross look, Elrohir quickly left the room.
"Have a seat, Legolas," Thranduil said, his face turning serious. Legolas tensed instantly.
Taking a deep breath, the young Elf obeyed. He cursed himself again, why did he feel so inadequate and so unsure of himself in front of his father all the time? Surely this was enough to earn a severe chiding off from the proud monarch already, for had he not stressed time and again how one had to be aware of portraying nothing less than an unwavering front?
To his surprise, Thranduil sighed heavily before sinking into an armchair as well. He had never seen his father look so tired or so strained.
"Do I invoke such fear in you?"
Legolas opened his mouth but no sound came out, so surprised was he at his father's words.
"Have I not told you before how much you resemble a fish when you do that?" Thranduil's words caused both sets of eyes to moisten, bringing back memories of a fine spring day almost two centuries past, when Legolas had, for the first time, on a walk of the palace grounds with his father as a boy of four, discovered for the first time the wonders of a forget-me-not. He had then stared, wide-eyed and open mouthed at the newly-closed leaves, unable to react, much to the delight of his father.
"Father, how goes the situation in Eryn Galen?" Legolas said trying to focus.
To his greatest shock the lip of his father, always proud and unbreakable, started trembling.
"I have erred so, Legolas." The words came out so hushed that the young Elf almost swore that he had made them up.
"It was always my intention of spending the rest of my days in the West after your mother left us. I merely delayed it as you were so little then. Dethronir was to have taken over as king of our people when you came of age at two-hundred. However, this obviously was not to be the case."
Stars flashed across the eyes of the Elven prince as the memories came flooding back. He would have collapsed from under the strain of them had he not been seated.
"I tried to make you someone you were not, and in doing so, almost cost you your life, if not for the timely rescue by Elrond. I cannot say how much I hate myself for doing this to you. I had thought it for the best, but clearly all it did was to deprive you of the warmth of a home. The thought of this haunts my dreams every night."
The tears came fast and hard, and Legolas pushed them aside with his palm. He did not trust himself to speak, instead continuing to stare at his father wordlessly, an unreadable expression in his eyes.
Thranduil leaned forward and touched the wet face of his son, gently caressing the smooth cheeks. The tears in his own eyes were now threatening to spill over, and he took a few deep, steadying breaths before he continued. "When you were born you brought such hope to our people, who had been so ravished by the darkness. Whenever I looked upon you, I saw the life and love present in Middle-Earth that made the losses and sacrifices we have sustained worthwhile. You were such a source of joy and comfort to your mother too, for your brother had been taken away from her as duty called. A late gift from the ainur, as we saw you. I watched you grow, saw that you resented the shackles of being a prince, but it is the destiny to which you were born.
"Your mother died, and I could not bring myself to look upon you as you lay, recovering from your wounds. Everything about you reminded me so much of her, for have you not been told how much you resemble her? Even after I finally brought the news upon you, every tear you shed, every cry you uttered seemed to be coming from her, and so I forbade you from doing so, because I did not want to see so beautiful a thing in pain. I saw then that to give oneself away completely to the world was to ask for hurt, and you were going down that very path. I had hoped to stop you from that suffering, especially when I were to leave. I did not want you to start to fade from my departure. Everything I did was for myself.
"Do you hate me, Legolas?"
More tears poured down the cheeks of the Elven prince, his mind flying in a thousand different directions. So this was his father as he really was. Yet, faced with such an open admission from his father, he suddenly found himself choking up on his own words. Instead, he shook his head furiously from side to side, drawing tears from the old monarch, who attempted a watery smile.
"I have never hated you, father," he finally breathed, amidst the haze of emotion that surrounded him. "I am sorry, I did not know that I was the cause of such pain."
Thranduil choked back a sob and took the head of his son into his arms, cradling it, smoothing the long blonde strands, feeling his tunic moisten with the tears of his son, the only thing he had left in this world now.
"You have caused no pain, Legolas. It was I that have inflicted much suffering on you. Even when you were all that I had left, I failed to see it and continued to drive you away. I can never hope for you to forgive me for what I have done to you."
"Nana once said that there was nothing we could hold against any that is not worth letting go off."
Thranduil nodded, remembering the wisdom that had filled the one that he loved so dearly. Seeing it reflected in his son now gave him strangely no grief, and instead filled him with a kind of resolution. A part of her still survived on in the beautiful creature before him, how could he have failed to see this before?
"Shall we start anew?”
As a response, Legolas looked up, eyes shining, the tears in them magnifying the blue by a thousand times. He smiled up at his father, and broke away gently, but still holding his gaze firmly. After a while, even that was broken, as the young Elven prince walked over to the balcony, his head held high, the poise he displayed taking his father's breath away. A melancholic tune broke from his lips, one that sent shivers down the spine of the king, who too moved over to look over Imladris in the setting sun, the words soon escaping his own lips, the rich bass of his voice complementing the tenor of his son's well. This time, there were only the two of them left to sing it, and each fervently hoped that it would truly be the last time Middle-Earth heard the song.
Arda's light has grown cold The frost has settled Taking over this heart Which laments its loss
I cry out for your sweet kisses But instead am met with doubt and fear Your scent still lingers near But I reach out to grasp on empty air The words you used to whisper Now blown away by the wind
Your love was once immortal As was your existence We thought it would last forever An eternity of bliss But instead you left me behind Filled with sorrow and tears
You filled my heart with joy And now it only knows grief This song of mourning Rings deep and clear 'O dearest queen, Dearest wife Dearest mother
Sindarin Translations: ion-nîn - my son pen tithen - little one ainur - holy ones tithen lass - little leaf
Author's Note: Special thanks to my new beta, Chathol-linn, for her patient work and encouragement for me to write the song for Thranduil's wife.
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.