6. Chapter 6: Playing Cat and Mouse
Disclaimer, Summary and Warning could be found in the 1st chapter.
Chapter 6: Playing Cat and Mouse
'Maybe Aragorn could explain to us what happened to drive my son away from me.' Thranduil thought as he followed Erestor toward the house, where Aragorn lay in the crowded room.
Thranduil entered and stood next to Elrohir who had earlier lightened his heart by telling the tale of his son, feeling he would rather be closer to him than to Elrond; somehow the young elf gave him the confidence he lost in his friendship with Elrond.
Even so, Elrond felt the presence of his long-time friend, though he ignored him, because he could not bring himself to feel any closeness with Thranduil – not when his son needed him most.
There was a movement from Aragorn's bed, and they turned around at the yawn and moan of pain from the man. Elrond quickly sat beside his son, gently talking with him as he yearned to hear his voice again, yearned to see his son the way he was before he was hurt.
'Legolas will pay for this; he ruined my son.' Elrond thought bitterly as he moved his hand down Aragorn's face.
"Open your eyes, Estel; you are at home." The healer reassured him, hoping that Aragorn would remember the place that he was in.
Aragorn felt himself leaving the darkness and flying toward the light, toward the voice that called for him, urging him to open his eyes, to return to the land of the living.
"That's it, my son. Now open your grey eyes wide for me."
Aragorn heard and tried to follow, only to be hit by dizziness and a headache. His eyes were hurting too much, and his throbbing head was not helping.
"Try again, Estel, you are doing fine."
That voice was there for him again, and Aragorn, in spite of the pain, tried to open his eyes.
With a hint of success, Aragorn opened his eyes, and then he shut them again at the blinding light flooding the room through the windows. His sight had instantly blurred, and the pain had returned.
"Quick, Elladan, Elrohir, cover the windows, the light seems too bright for him." Elrond ordered his sons as soon as he saw the human's reaction.
Thranduil still watching helped them too, as he felt that he needed to do something to distract him from his anxiety over his son; he wanted to make himself useful in some way, even if it were to help Aragorn. Without hesitating, the king quickly took the white blanket he found on an empty bed and threw it over a window, watching as the twins did the same.
Elrond, meanwhile, wondered about Thranduil's actions, believing that what the king did was close to making peace; after all, he would think that his son would have to pay a price for whatever he had done, and Thranduil might have decided to seek forgiveness on behalf of his son.
Elrond rejected the idea right away, not wishing to buy the king's act, while Thranduil only stared at what was happening, his eyes locked on the injured man, hoping that he would have the answers to his many questions, and perhaps, find out what had happened to his son.
"You can open your eyes now, Estel," Elrond said gently, breaking the silence within the room, "The light has been dimmed and will not hurt your eyes now."
Aragorn tried to open his eyes, trying to ignore the pain that ignited within his body. Finally, his eyes fluttered open, and he let them adjust and focus, before turning to his family.
Aragorn clearly wanted to speak but his throat was too dry, and Elrond, seeing this, gave him to sip from a cup, and added, "Drink it slowly, Aragorn, I do not need you choking; drink slowly."
Aragorn did as he was told. Then when he had drunk enough, Elrond took the remaining half-filled cup and put it near the bed.
Elrond then turned back to his son, sighing heavily before he asked, "How do you feel, ion?"
"I have been better, adar." Aragorn replied weakly.
"Your brothers have been missing you dearly," Elrond told him with a smile, and then he added, "I have been missing you as well."
"You have?" Aragorn teased his father the same way he used to when he was a child.
"I have." Elrond confessed, as light sparkled in his eyes.
"How much?" Aragorn mock-taunted while the twins chuckled at their banter.
Elrond spread his hands as he replied, "You know, if you were little, I could lift you, and say to you, 'Till the Undying Lands and back, here in my heart', as my love for you is that great though it be shared with your brothers."
"Thank you, adar. I love you too." Aragorn gave him his largest smile, albeit tired, and then he moved his head slightly, looking beyond the twins who were holding their laughter.
Aragorn was surprised to see King Thranduil near them and Thranduil could read the questioning look the man gave, though he dared not ask as yet, as he could felt the heavy glare that Elrond gave him.
Not now, perhaps. Aragorn probably needed his family more right now, as much as Thranduil needed his son.
Thranduil left the chair that he was sitting in, and headed quietly toward the door to hopefully find solace for his troubled soul, not wishing to destroy the moment the reunited family now shared.
One word stopped him from doing so. Nevertheless, it was not Elrond's voice, which he was glad for. It was Aragorn who stopped him from running away from the room.
Yet he took another step toward the door, not wishing to ruin what little was left of his friendship with Elrond.
"Please... do not leave..."
That voice again. He wondered what Aragorn wished from him.
The king turned around, looking at the pale man. When Aragorn noticed the confused look upon the king, he looked around him for his friend, then asked weakly, "Where... Where is... Legolas?"
The man started to panic when no answer greeted him right away.
"Is... Is he dead?" Aragorn asked in frantic voice.
Thranduil swallowed the lump down his throat before he replied, "Dead he is not, though he is not here – because of your father, for all I know."
Aragorn turned around to look at his father, who gave him no elaboration.
"Now is not the time, my son. You still need time to recover fully and your body needs to heal." Elrond tried to avoid the topic, not wishing for his son to know what he had done for him.
The man nodded, feeling the tiredness overtake him. He did not say anything as his body seemed to agree with the healer, and he lay back down in the bed and closed his eyes, though still wondering where his friend was and what his father had done to him.
As Thranduil saw how Elrond avoided answering what he had so longed to know, he stormed out of the room, the rage building within him.
Glorfindel and Erestor followed the king out silently while in the room, Elrohir stared at his father in complete shock, not knowing why he did not answer Aragorn or why Aragorn had said nothing of what happened.
Elladan moved his hand to touch Aragorn's palm. His eyes longed to see his brother in full movement and he cursed Legolas in his heart for causing all this harm to Aragorn in the first place. He could only hope that Thranduil's son will meet his due punishment soon.
Elrond sighed heavily, knowing that, now that Estel had opened his eyes, the worst had passed, and he could only hope that Aragorn would understand his motives concerning what he did to Legolas.
Elrohir remained silent in his seat, his mind thinking back on the day they found the two friends in the cold. The look in Legolas' eyes was a look that he would never forget, even if he tried to.
Elrohir wished he could turn back time, perhaps he could have reverse things, perhaps he could have taken care of Legolas as well. No one had asked or even considered if Legolas might have been hurt. All they were concerned with was Aragorn, bloodied and lying on the blood-soaked snow.
'We are at fault; forgive me, Legolas...' Elrohir thought.
He could not bear it any longer, much as he wanted to stay in the room to be there when Aragorn opened his eyes again so he could fulfill the desire to speak with him about what had happened, still, he stood up turning to the door.
"Elrohir, where are you going?" Elrond asked, his eyes still locked on Aragorn.
"I need some fresh air and time to think." Elrohir replied and left.
Elladan rose from his chair, wanting to bring his twin back, but was held back by his father's firm voice, "Let him go."
Elladan nodded and sat back, all the while wondering what Elrohir wanted to think about.
Meanwhile, outside, Thranduil paced back and forth, not knowing what else he should do. He wondered if he should return to Mirkwood and fetch his son, so he, perhaps, could get to the bottom of this.
For once, the king was clueless.
Somehow, in his heart, he knew that Aragorn was the answer to all that had occurred and he hoped to have some time alone with the man who gave his heart and all to his son. Their unique friendship was well-known; Thranduil always knew that Aragorn was the one who gave Legolas the support and confidence he needed and was always there for him, and so was Legolas toward Aragorn.
But what Thranduil did not understand was how quickly things had changed. Why had Elladan and Elrohir, who were his son's best friends, all of a sudden turned their backs on him?
He wanted to know all the details and hoped someone could at least tell him something of what had happened. In the first place, he did not even know what Elrond's message meant.
Thranduil let his mind drift, deep in thought even as his feet walked toward his guards. He needed the reassurance of his friends from home; he needed to hear advice from friends, from his loyal friends.
Galdor looked up as his king walked toward him, and notice the two lords walking a distance behind him. He wondered if his king had noticed them as well, or was he too far distracted. Looking at the king's expression, he knew at once he was searching for guidance. And who could guide the king if not his faithful guard, Galdor?
"King Thranduil," Galdor greeted him with a small smile, "Are you all right, Thranduil?"
Thranduil stopped in his place, nodded toward the guard, then continued his walk as though nothing was the matter.
Galdor, still within the guards' quarters, only stared at the king, who was heading toward the line of trees.
The guard turned his eyes toward the two elven lords and asked, "Will either of you tell me what is troubling my king?"
Erestor looked at the guard, seeing the concern in his eyes. "I can only tell you what I saw and heard, but if you wish for a conclusion or judgment, that is not my part for I do not know enough."
Galdor nodded, and waited eagerly for any insight on what might be troubling his king.
Glorfindel, however, quietly suggested that they should find a place to sit where they could speak peacefully without being disturbed, and proceeded to lead them toward the garden where they sat on the soft ground, hearing the birds sing a song of hope and friendship.
But their plans were interrupted when Elrohir joined the group.
"Have you see King Thranduil?" He asked.
They shook their heads in the negative. Galdor turned to the young elf. "Do you know what is it that troubles the king?" He asked.
Elrohir nodded, and finding a comfortable place, he sat with them.
Glorfindel let Elrohir know why they had come here to the garden, hoping that the young elf might enlighten them on what happened to ensnare Elrond and Thranduil in this web as though they were young elflings fighting over fruitless issues.
"You may speak first, Elrohir, as you and your twin were the first to be involved." Glorfindel finished, knowing that Galdor, though patient, was loyal enough to the king to want to know quickly how best to help him.
Elrohir sighed, and let his mind drift back to the past, to that day, when he and his twin first saw the scene, with Legolas standing, sword was by his side, while next to him, lying on the blood-soaked snow was Aragorn, pale as the moonlight.
As he told them as much as he could recall, the young elf felt ashamed of the words that he and his twin had shot at Legolas; he could still the look that crossed his friend's face – the sorrow and the guilt inside, the helplessness…
Then, continued the tale, telling them what happened in the house of healing, the harsh words from the lord, from his father.
Galdor sighed heavily, remembering the first time he saw Legolas and then the second time when his king and him found Legolas, so vulnerable in the forest, not seeming to care anymore.
"Your father, Elrohir, hurt my prince greatly, and from what I saw when I was in my homeland, it was enough for him to lose the will to live. I only hope..." Galdor trailed off as he felt a presence coming closer.
Galdor rose from nature's gentle carpet and bowed to his king.
"Galdor," Thranduil greeted him in return, and noticed the three other elves who sat there, "Is there something I should know about?"
Galdor smiled at his king, definitely more hopefully with the information he just gained.
"Yes, there is, King Thranduil." Galdor grinned at him.
Thranduil sighed, and grinned back at his friend, "In this land, I am only a lord, not a king. How many times shall I ask for you to not to address me formally?"
Galdor only smiled.
Thranduil shook his head. "Forget it; I see it won't work as you'll continue to do this in any land we shall be."
Galdor smiled widely, almost triumphantly.
Thranduil rolled his eyes, and redirecting the elf back to his earlier question, he asked, "Care to share what you've learned so far from our friendly companions?"
With that, Galdor turned serious, not wish to appear to take this lightly before his king, especially in the presence of the other elf-lords.
"As far as I can tell," Galdor started, and motioned at Elrohir, "Elrohir and his twin were the first at the scene where they noticed Aragorn injured and lying in the snow, and Legolas staring at him with the blood-soaked sword next to him. From what I gather, the twins blamed your son, and later, Elrond accused him as well, telling him that you would not even look at him because of what he did."
"Are you telling me that Elrond said I will not look at my son because I will be ashamed of him?" Thranduil asked the guard skeptically.
Thranduil was visibly angry; he thought he would gladly strangle Elrond right away. "How dare he tell my son such a thing!" Thranduil asked, fuming.
The three elves looked over, wondering what the king planned to do.
"I will kill him..." King Thranduil muttered, and started pacing back and forward, trying to control the anger that had so quickly built in him.
'How dare he?' Thranduil mentally raged, 'No wonder Legolas kept himself from me; no wonder why he shut himself up.'
Glorfindel rose to his feet in concern, and walked toward the king and asked, "Is there anything I could do?"
Thranduil stopped pacing as he noticed the lord. He sighed softly and replied, "Yes, there is."
"What is it?" Glorfindel looked up curiously.
"Well, if I cannot best Elrond in the room where Aragorn is, I can beat him in the field where I have always won in archery," Thranduil replied, a light grin marking his face, "Tell him I challenge him. I will give you the terms, and Erestor and you will be the judges."
"Are you certain of that?" Glorfindel asked politely to confirm the king wasn't simply moved by rage, though it had been awhile since anything particularly noteworthy happened in their homeland.
"I am, and when I will win, I will have all the time to speak with Aragorn without Elrond coming in my way. Everything that Elrond does is within the healing room, but never in the field to show how he can protect all of you." Thranduil responded.
Glorfindel nodded and added, a smile on his face, "It might do some good for him to relax."
"I certainly hope so." Thranduil mumbled.
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.