May the Valar Protect Them: 28. Welcome Home

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28. Welcome Home

Bregolas stood on the ridge overlooking the River Celduin where it split from the Carnen, turning to the northwest. The camp that had so concerned Galithon several days earlier was destroyed. Aranu and Galthenin and their warriors had decimated the site, throwing the remains of the shelters into the ravine with the bodies of the orcs and men. As soon as the injured elves were able to continue their journey and had passed the ravine, they would set it ablaze.

The prince had noted several things about the attack. The men appeared to be Easterlings, and by their markings they were in the service of Sauron. He did not believe the attack on Rawien’s rescue party was intended; they appeared to have been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dol Guldur had long been quiet; now the peace had ended and shadow had returned with a vengeance. Whether Sauron was returned himself to Dol Guldur or one of his wraiths, Bregolas did not know. Regardless, they needed to fortify their defenses and take what actions they could to protect their people.

Bregolas smiled. Galithon’s party, he mentally corrected himself, not Rawien’s party. It was Aranu who had noted the silver band on Rawien’s right hand. Bregolas had silenced Aranu with a look after the initial teasing when he saw Tathiel blush uncomfortably. Galthenin had immediately congratulated his friend and wished Tathiel his best as well.

Having non-warriors and children in the midst of a war-party was a shock to all of them. The large increase in people moving about, talking and teasing had caused Tathiel and all the children to become more reserved and even uncomfortable. Bregolas had split the campsite, keeping the original ten warriors, himself and the healers and captains at the main site. The others he had moved into a protective ring of smaller sites around the injured. The three children and Tathiel had immediately relaxed in the presence of the smaller group and Rawien had quietly thanked him.

Bregolas returned to the camp, stopping under the trees near the horses to stroke Urevio’s mane. He could see the elves gathered round the fire pit, the fire small and only for cooking on this warm summer day.

Legolas. Bregolas shook his head and smiled. The child was the image of his mother. The rest of the children had inherited their father’s looks and to some degree his temperament. Legolas favored his mother, and his ever-ready smile and cheerful disposition was so like to Narawen that his heart ached to think on it.

“Bregles!” Legolas called as he saw his brother. He started to run to his brother, then stopped and turned to Tathiel for permission. She looked at Bregolas, and when he nodded she waved Legolas onward.

“Bregles!” Legolas slammed into his knees, wrapping short arms around his brother’s legs and climbing to stand on the top of Bregolas’ feet.

Bregolas reached down and swung the child up into his arms. “I am visiting Urevio. Would you like to see him?”

“Urevo good horse,” Legolas agreed readily.

Bregolas swung Legolas up on to Urevio’s back, and small hands clutched the mane with glee. Legolas snuggled his face into the soft hair and patted the horse’s side.

“Urevo Bregles horse. Pretty horse.”

“Urevio is a handsome horse,” Bregolas agreed. “Are you hungry, tithen muindor?”

“Legles hungry,” the child readily agreed. Bregolas scooped him off the horse, and setting him on his feet, took him by the hand and led him back to camp. Legolas let go of his hand and small legs flew as he raced to Tathiel and Rawien. He wrapped his arms around Tathiel’s neck as he hugged and kissed her, then settled into her lap to eat as she set a plate in his lap. His brother temporarily forgotten, Legolas told Tathiel all about Urevio.

“He is a beautiful child,” Galthenin observed as he joined Bregolas.

Bregolas leaned against the tree, his face solemn as he watched the elfling eat and chatter with the elf who was for all intents and purposes his Nana. It was obvious how strong the bond was between Legolas and Tathiel.

“Tathiel is the only mother he has known,” Bregolas spoke softly, speaking more to himself than anyone else. “I cannot imagine the harm that would be done to him should he be taken completely away from her.”

“You might find her equally grieved should you try to remove the elfling completely from her care,” Galthenin replied.

“How are the injured faring?” Bregolas changed the subject with a smile.

“Improvement in all cases,” Galthenin replied. “Camnesta would like a full fortnight for recovery before we move on. This position is defensible.”

“Tell Camnesta to plan on the fortnight,” Bregolas replied. “Barring further troubles we should be home by the fall festival.” He smiled. “We will have much to celebrate this year.”

***

“How much longer, Nana?” Eärundra asked impatiently.

“We shall enter the forest tomorrow, nín-sell,” Ethiwen replied. “We will be home in six days.”

“Will Ada come to meet us?” Tinánia asked from her seat with Meren.

“I do not know, Tinánia,” Ethiwen replied with a smile. “Prince Bregolas has sent an advance guard and messengers that will reach home several days before us. Your Adar will come if the King decides he should.”

Legolas’ tender years made him oblivious to the passage of time, and he was content to ride and play with the warriors who entertained him. The ellyth, however, missed their father and each day they drew closer to the forest was met with excitement. Lists of all they wanted to do and see when they reached home were made. They wanted to see their Ada first, then take baths, then see their friends. Tinánia had several shy discussions with Aranu and Galthenin who had responsibility for training the novice warriors. She was too young for most of the lessons, but they had decided to allow her to continue her archery training with the older children.

“What will you say to your Ada, Legolas?” Tathiel had finally retrieved the child from Sadron who would gladly have kept him the rest of the day. She knew it was rather absurd of her to worry, but she wanted the little prince to make a good impression when he met his father.

Legolas chewed his lower lip, thinking.

“Legles say Mae Govannen Ada King! Legles come home,” Legolas grinned at her.

“That is very nice,” Tathiel hugged him. “Your Ada wants to see you so much.”

Ada see Bregles brother,” Legolas mumbled around the lemba he was chewing.

“No talking with food in your mouth, tithen caun,” Tathiel reminded him. “Your Ada will be happy to see Bregolas come home too.”

Legolas swallowed and grinned. “Food gone!” He was distracted by Urevio appearing at his side, and his face lit up when he saw his brother. “Ride Urevo with Bregles!”

Bregolas laughed as he strapped the carrier to his chest and shoulders, and his little brother settled against him. He had learned when carrying his brother to stay in Tathiel’s sight at all times, or else suffer the consequences imposed by a squirming bundle of energy looking for his ‘Tafiel’.

They camped that night at the edge of the forest near the Old Forest Road.

***

Four days later west of the Long Marshes……

“There are riders approaching, Hîr-nín,” Aeglos called to Bregolas.

Bregolas quickly unstrapped Legolas from his chest and handed him to Tathiel. He rode forward, hearing the sound of riders approaching at a fast pace. A call went out and bows were lowered at the confirmation that the riders were elves from Mirkwood. A rider appeared ahead of them on the path, an escort following him a short distance behind.

The warriors leading the group parted, moving to the sides of the path. Soon only Ethiwen and Meren remained on the path, smiles tugging at their lips. Tinánia and Eärundra were watching the rider approach, watching the warriors part, wondering at first why their Nana and Meren were not moving also when a flicker of recognition sparkled in Tinánia’s face. She leaned forward over the horse, then slipped to the ground and began running forward.

Ada? ADA!”

Eärundra watched her sister begin to run, and the same recognition dawned on her. She slid to the ground, stiff from the many hours of riding and watched as the rider leaped from his horse, hitting the ground running. She heard her sister scream with joy, and she too began to run forward.

Urithral caught Tinánia in his arms and hugged her with tears of joy streaming down his face, but he did not stop. He continued to race forward, Tinánia in his arms, until he reached his youngest. His mind noted the stiffness of her movement, but his eyes saw only the joy in her face, and he dropped to his knees as he gathered her in his other arm.

Urithral wept unashamedly in the middle of the path with daughters sobbing in his arms as he held them tight, raining kisses on their foreheads and cheeks. He looked up, his eyes searching for his wife and he saw her also weeping with joy as she watched her daughters reunite with their father. Their eyes met, and walking over to them she dropped to her knees, and cupping his face in her hands, she kissed him tenderly. He folded her into the embrace.

The elves quietly dismounted, leading horses ahead a short distance to a spot where they often camped, leaving the family alone for a few moments, although well protected by warriors hidden in the shadows at the edge of the road.

Tathiel watched as Legolas walked back to the path. He stopped at the edge, and watched the reunion curiously. Urithral stood, Eärundra in his arms and Tinánia’s hand in his and began to walk towards the camp. Legolas held his ground for some time; after all these were his ellyth and Ethiwen was their Nana. But he did not know this big elf and he turned and ran back to Tathiel as his courage left him.

“That is the little prince?” Urithral asked.

“Yes, Ada,” Tinánia answered. “That is Legolas. I think you scared him.”

Legolas watched the four come near him from the safety of Tathiel’s arms. After they were seated, Eärundra held out her hand to the elfling, and he tentatively walked to her. Urithral was careful not to startle the child, and soon Legolas was engaged in conversation with his ellyth.

“Nania and Rundra’s Ada?” Legolas finally asked, watching the big elf sitting next to Ethiwen.

“That is our Ada, Legolas!” Eärundra squeezed him in a hug. “You will meet your Ada very soon.”

Mae Govannen, Legolas,” Urithral greeted him softly.

Mae Govannen . . . . Rundra’s Ada,” Legolas answered politely.

Urithral laughed, the sound of joy music to the ears of his daughters and he found them both in his lap moments later. Legolas watched them for a moment, clearly taken by the idea of Adas, until Tathiel called him to come eat his dinner.

***

Prince Bregolas led the elves through the gates of the palace grounds. Their approach had been noted several hours earlier, and it seemed all of the elves of King Thranduil’s realm had turned out to welcome them home. The press of elves eager to greet loved ones and friends slowed the procession and a murmur spread through the crowd when the young prince was first spotted.

Legolas sat in front of Tathiel and Rawien on Anorion, gazing in silence out at the thronged masses of elves before him. He stared in wonder at the halls carved into the rock and the dwellings in the trees and on the grounds around the palace. Seeing seventy warriors the day of the ambush had been overwhelming; seeing hundreds of people so close caused him to scoot as far back against Tathiel as he could. Sensing his growing discomfort, Tathiel loosed him from the carrier, and Rawien handed the contraption to one of the guards as Tathiel drew Legolas into her arms, his little arms wrapped tightly about her neck. He peered out occasionally at the elves surrounding him, then buried his face back into Tathiel’s hair.

On the steps of the palace stood Lathron, Celebrinduil, Elenath and Elumeril. Bregolas stopped the procession before them and dismounted. He embraced each of them, and then motioned for them to enter the Great Hall.

The ten warriors, Urithral, Tathiel and the three children followed them, and Bregolas brought up the rear. The report to the King and the first meeting of the youngest prince and his Ada was not for public consumption.

Tathiel carried Legolas into the Great Hall, his face still buried in her shoulder. Bregolas walked at her side. No herald announced their arrival, the guards quietly opened the doors and they passed through in silence.

King Thranduil stood at the base of his throne, watching as his children took their places to his left amidst the empty hall. Thranduil looked out at the warriors before him. Joy shone on their faces as they stood before him. Eager eyes watched as Bregolas led Tathiel forward with the blond elfling in her arms. Rawien and the other warriors followed several paces behind them. Tathiel gently disentangled small fingers from her hair and turned the elfling around.

Legolas looked around, awe evident in his face. His eyes took in the grand room, finally coming to rest on the tall elf standing a short distance before him.

Thranduil felt his breath catch as the child turned to face him. The golden hair, the blue eyes, the facial features – the child was the image of his mother. Emotions flitted across his face – joy, remembrance, pain, longing. He saw the gaze of the child rest on him.

Tathiel lowered Legolas to the floor, and knelt beside him. She whispered in his ear that this was his Ada, and his Ada would like very much for his little son to come greet him.

Legolas stood and looked up at his brother Bregolas. Bregolas held out his hand, and Legolas slipped his tiny hand into that of his big brother, and together they walked forward. When they were just a few feet from the King, Bregolas let go of his hand and stepped back.

Legolas gazed up at the king; the elf who was his Ada. His Ada did not appear nearly as happy to see him as Nania and Rundra’s Ada was to see them. He remembered the words he had practiced. Stepping forward, he bowed as Tathiel had taught him.

Mae Govannen, Ada King,” Legolas started out slowly, his voice unsure. He turned to look over his shoulder at Tathiel, and she smiled at him and motioned for him to continue. He turned back to his Ada. He stopped. Was that a tear on his Ada’s face? Was his Ada sad? Rundra’s Ada had cried to see her too. Drawing a deep breath, one small hand behind his back twisting the fabric of his tunic, he continued, “Legles come home to Ada.”

Thranduil felt tears welling in his eyes; felt his composure slip and he cared naught. He took several steps forward, and saw the small elf tremble. He dropped to his knees.

“Legolas. . . . my son. . . please, come to Ada,” Thranduil held out his arms. Legolas looked back at Tathiel one more time and saw her crying. Why was everyone crying? He looked at Bregolas and saw tears running down his cheeks. He looked at his Ada, holding his arms out to him. In two steps he was in his Ada’s arms.

“Welcome home, Legolas, . . . my child . . . my son. . . I am so very glad you have come home,” Thranduil hugged the child to him, stroking his hair, his back. He felt warm breath in his ear, and small hands brushing tears from his cheek.

Ada sad?” Legolas asked tentatively.

“No, nín-ion, I am not sad. I am so happy to meet you. . . so very happy to meet you. I have waited so long for you to come home,” Thranduil could not hold back the tears. “Ada is so glad you are home.”

“Legles home,” Legolas agreed, and he clasped his arms around his Ada’s neck and tucked his head under Ada’s chin. Yes, Ada’s arms were a good place to be.

The silence in the Great Hall was broken as the King stood, his son finally safe in his arms. The warriors were exclaiming in joy as the children of the King stepped forward to meet their brother.

Legolas peered at the elves gathered round him from the safety of Ada’s arms. He could understand why Nania and Rundra liked being in their Ada’s arms.

“Legolas, these are your brothers and sisters,” Bregolas stroked his back gently. “Come and meet them.”

Legolas looked at them, and with his head resting on Ada’s shoulder he offered them a sweet surprise.

“Elmeril sister,” he began with the one who was like Tinánia, delighted when Elumeril smiled and kissed his hand. “Elnath sister.” Elenath kissed his cheek and shook his small hand. “Duil brother an Legles has Bregles brother,” Legolas was warming up to this game. Celebrinduil gave him the warrior’ handshake. Legolas turned to Lathron last. “Lafron brother,” he said solemnly. “Lafron visit Legles sleep.”

Lathron had felt his heart sing when he first beheld the child whom he had visited in dreams so often in the last year. He felt he knew him already, and to hear Legolas greet him as if he knew him was music to his soul. He stepped forward to the elfling, and was surprised when Legolas climbed willingly into his arms and pressed his forehead against Lathron’s forehead, staring straight into his eyes.

“Legles love Lafron too.”

Tears of joy ran down Lathron’s face as he hugged his brother close. Every time he had departed from Legolas’ dreams, he had whispered ‘I love you’. The child remembered.

The families of the warriors had gathered in the back of the hall, waiting for permission to greet their loved ones. Thranduil saw the growing group, and he reached again for his son.

“Legolas, come with Ada to say thank you to the warriors,” he whispered in the child’s ear.

Legolas turned with a grin, and looked at the warriors. He squirmed down from his Ada’s arms and raced across the floor, flinging himself into Sadron’s arms. Sadron swung him up high in the air, tossing and then catching him. Legolas’ squeal of delight rang out in the hall.

Thranduil approached the warriors, and reached for Legolas who lunged back into his arms and squeezed him tight.

“I. . . Thank you for bringing my son home. You have my deepest gratitude. . .,” Thranduil said to the group, for the first time having difficulty finding the words to express himself. “Please. . . . greet your families. We will gather this eve for a great feast.”

The warriors turned and sought out loved ones with cries of joy and tears of relief. Tathiel stood where she was, listening to the sounds of happiness around her. A sudden feeling of emptiness had come over her as released the child she had protected and loved into the arms of his father. She felt warm arms encircle her and she leaned into Rawien’s embrace, closing her eyes as tears filled them. She was so grateful for his presence; so grateful she had him. She felt suddenly weary, and wondered if the room she had occupied in the palace for so many long years was still hers.

“Tathiel,” she heard the King’s voice.

She opened her eyes and before her stood King Thranduil, still holding his precious charge who seemed very clearly to enjoy the attention.

“Come,” he said gently. “A hot bath awaits you in your room. You must rest, and then come to the banquet tonight. You have much to tell me and there is much I want to hear from the one who has protected and raised this child of mine.”

Thranduil motioned for Rawien to come as well, and it was the king who escorted Tathiel to her chambers. She entered the room to find that it was indeed prepared with a hot bath and clean clothes waiting for her. She turned to thank the King, and felt tears come unbidden to her eyes and she choked on her own sob as she looked at the little one before her. In his entire life he had never been out of her sight. For his whole life she had provided for his needs.

“Come, Legolas. There is nothing an elleth enjoys more than a hot bath and soothing quiet. Let us let Tathiel enjoy that. Your room is just around the corner. She will come see you as soon as she has rested,” Thranduil spoke soothingly to the child as he felt the elfling tense.

Legolas’ lower lip quivered as his Ada turned to leave. In all the excitement of meeting his Ada and his brothers and sisters he had never considered that he might be separated from Tathiel. Legolas wiggled to the ground and launched himself at her. She picked him up and gathered him close, shushing his sobs and her own. She finally allowed her eyes to meet those of the King and was relieved to see only compassion.

Thranduil had known the bond between Tathiel and his young son would be very strong, as strong as any mother’s bond, and he realized some re-arrangement in accommodations would need to be made. He smiled at Tathiel, and then motioned to a servant standing near the bath.

“Meriwen, please prepare a bath for Legolas as well, and bring his clothing here.”

Thranduil stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Tathiel and Legolas. A sob escaped her, and she struggled to regain her composure. To her surprise, she felt warm tears against her cheek.

“Thank you, nín-muinthel o gur,” he whispered in her ear. “Enjoy a warm bath, and rest. I will send Lathron to you later to watch over Legolas while you sleep. Tonight you will sit next to me and tell me about nín-ion.”

Rawien had remained standing outside the door to Tathiel’s chamber. As the King released Tathiel, he turned to speak to her, and found his arm in the King’s firm grasp leading him away.

“You, on the other hand, may have no rest until I have heard at least a brief account of your tale,” he told Rawien. His sharp eyes had noted the silver rings when they first entered the Great Hall. He chuckled at the longing on Rawien’s face, such an unusual expression on this warrior he had known for thousands of years. “You may return in a while to escort the lady to dinner. Now come!”

Tathiel set Legolas down and looked slowly around the room. It was as she had left it; someone had cared for the chamber but disturbed none of her belongings. She felt a sob catch in her throat as she looked upon the soft bed, and then she looked at the steaming tub of water in the small bathing chamber off the main room. Legolas had never seen a tub for bathing. He stuck his hand in the water, and the look of surprise on his face made her smile. He was quite used to cold water; warm water was heated in small pots over fire and used carefully. He began to splash and looked up at her with a grin.

She crossed the room, her clothes dropping as she went. She reached the large tub, and reached for Legolas, stripping his tunic and leggings off. She stepped into the tub and slid down until the warm water reached her chin. Legolas stood in the water that reached mid chest and with small cries of enjoyment splashed and clapped his hands as he enjoyed his first bath.

With shining clean hair and little body scrubbed clean, Legolas snuggled into the towel with which Tathiel was briskly drying him. The servant appeared with clean clothes for the child, and Tathiel wrapped herself in a robe and then dressed him in the finest clothing he had ever worn. Meriwen smiled, and minutes later the tub was emptied and replenished with hot water. Toys and books appeared for Legolas, and Tathiel left him playing content on the big bed under the servant’s watchful eye. Tathiel slipped the robe off, and slid back into the warm water. She was home.

***

Lathron knocked softly on the door and was admitted by the servant. He smiled at her, and followed her gesture to the bed. Tathiel and Legolas lay snuggled together in the clean soft sheets, sound asleep.

The servant resumed her watch sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the room where she appeared to be sewing a small garment. Lathron sat down on the edge of the bed and felt himself drawn into his brother’s dreams.

There was no longer any fear or need. He lightly probed Legolas’ thoughts, and felt contentment, joy and wonder. He smiled as he saw Legolas’ reaction to the bath; his joy at meeting his Ada and his siblings. He felt the strong bond the child had with Tathiel, and the relief the child felt when he was not taken from her. The elfling stirred, and Lathron gently withdrew from his mind. He sat down in a chair next to the bed, and patiently waited.

***

“Tafiel pretty!” Legolas clapped his hands.

Tathiel smoothed the fabric of the gown, something she had not worn in over two years. It was loose, but Meriwen, the servant who had drawn the bath and waited patiently with Lathron while they slept, had deftly altered it so that it hung smooth and hid some of the gauntness that a tunic and leggings only emphasized. Meriwen had also done her hair, braiding it in a simple style that softened her thin face. Tathiel looked in the mirror, and nearly did not recognize the elf staring back at her.

“Tathiel is beautiful,” a voice said from the door. Tathiel turned.

“Rawien is handsome,” she answered, savoring the view of the formally dressed captain.

He held out his hand to her, and she stood. He offered her his arm, and she took it. Legolas stood before them, arms crossed over his chest. He was wearing the clothing of a son of the king; a deep green tunic edged with silver and brown velvet leggings. He had been spinning in circles, enjoying the way the light caught on the silver threads. Now, a little dizzy and tired of waiting he proclaimed, “Legles hungry!”

“Perhaps Legolas would like to come to the feast?” Bregolas appeared in the doorway.

“Bregles!” Legolas raced to his brother and was easily caught up in strong arms. Keen eyes noted that his big brother was wearing clothing very similar to his own and he smoothed his hands over Bregolas’ chest, enjoying the feel of the velvet, then fingered the silver edging. “Bregles and Legles are same.”

“Bregolas and Legolas are brothers,” Bregolas was pleased to see Legolas already making connections.

The Great Hall had been transformed into a massive dining room, and Tathiel marveled at how quickly the furniture, decorations and food had been prepared. It was near the time of the fall festival, and golden leaves and fruits of the harvest decorated the tables and walls. The Hall was filled with merry elves, and minstrels played and led in the singing of songs of joys. Indeed it appeared as if every elf in the realm was present. On the dais sat the long table that seated the King’s family. Also present at that table this evening were Urithral, Ethiwen, Tinánia and Eärundra; Tathiel and Rawien were also escorted to places of honor. Bregolas sat to his father’s right and a special child’s chair was placed to the King’s left. Tathiel found herself escorted to the seat next to that intended for Legolas and Rawien seated next to her. Elumeril was sitting with Tinánia’s arm wrapped in her own; best friends reunited.

The warriors of the rescue party were seated at tables below and in front of the King in positions of honor.

All rose as the King entered.

Legolas knew little of court decorum, or what behavior was expected of a young prince at a formal banquet. All he knew was that the Ada he had just met and already adored had appeared. The herald was just about to announce the King’s arrival when a small voice resounded in the hall.

Ada King!” Legolas flew across the dais and into his Ada’s arms.

The Great Hall rang with laughter as the blond elfling wrapped himself around his father. King Thranduil turned to the herald, who seemed uncertain how to proceed.

“I believe that will do to announce my arrival,” Thranduil chuckled, and he walked with great dignity to his place. He did not put Legolas down as he turned to face his people.

“There is great rejoicing in Mirkwood today, for the lost have been found and returned to us. My deepest gratitude is extended to the warriors who braved much to find and rescue them. Now, I introduce to you my youngest son, Prince Legolas.”

Legolas looked out at the crowd from the safety of his Ada’s arms and saw the people bow before them. They rose, and cheers and laughter rang through the halls. Legolas sat up straighter, and clapped his own hands, laughing with the sea of faces before him.

Thranduil sat, placing his son in his chair to his left. Legolas’ eyes widened as he stared at the table before him. Tathiel was already fixing a plate for him, and he sat motionless as it was set before him. He watched amazed as everyone around him used pretty silver things to pick up and carry the food to their mouths. Curious, he picked up one such item set near his plate, and poked it at a berry. The berry rolled off the plate and onto the tablecloth. He stabbed instead at a piece of meat, and the silver thing bounced back and he dropped it.

Many eyes watched the little prince as he finally gave in and used his fingers to eat his meal. He spoke not at all until his plate was empty. Then he stood on his chair and leaned over to his Ada. Wrapping sticky fingers around the King’s neck, he pressed his blackberry stained face into Thranduil’s robes and whispered, “Legles glad to be home, Ada.”

Thranduil moved back from the table, and pulled Legolas into his lap. He studied the little one, his eyes memorizing the child’s face and features. Motioning Tathiel to stay seated, he took a dining cloth, dipped it in water and washed the sticky face and hands. His heart was filled with love as he looked upon his son and he smiled.

He heard the minstrels resume their music, and the tables were cleared to the side as dancing began in the center of the hall. The great doors were thrown open, and the cool autumn air flowed inside. The stars could be seen twinkling in the night sky.

He needed to speak to Tathiel.

He had spoken for a short time with Rawien and Bregolas. They skimmed only the surface of the story they would tell, highlighting the health and well-being of the four who had been lost. Bregolas had expressed his concerns about the mother’s bond that Tathiel shared with Legolas; a concern Thranduil shared from only his short visit with them. A concern that Rawien echoed.

Thranduil drew Tathiel aside into a quiet corner, and she sat next to him. Her heart was full of joy at the sight of the little prince cuddled in his Ada’s arms while full of heartbreak at knowing what was soon to come. Rawien stood behind her, his hands gently massaging her neck and shoulders.

“Tathiel, there are not words to express my gratitude for all that you have done. Legolas is alive because of you, and the sacrifices you made far exceeded any duty that you might have felt expected of you. Narawen loved you as a sister, and you have been as true as any sister could be. I too consider you my sister. My son, however, considers you his Nana. I see in your eyes that he is to you a son.”

Tathiel’s breath caught and her eyes closed. She felt a warm hand cover her own.

“I know you and Rawien wish to marry, and on this you have my blessing and my joy. I have yet another request of you, my sister, that is great. I hope that you may grant it while also holding to your own desires. Legolas is bonded to you, and I believe it would harm you both to sunder that bond. I ask you to continue as his caregiver. We will work together to bring him into the family, but I will predict now that you will always have a place in his heart. As you served your Queen with selfless devotion, I ask that you continue to serve her family.”

A sob escaped Tathiel and she finally opened her eyes to face the King. She saw love in his eyes; love for his son and love for her. Without thinking, she threw her arms around his neck.

“Yes, oh yes! I was so afraid you were asking me to step aside,” words broke through her tears. “I should think I would die of grief to let him go now.”

King Thranduil held her for a moment, then Tathiel pulled back and felt Rawien’s strong arms about her shoulders again.

“I have arranged for new chambers for you that connect to Legolas’ rooms. I am sorry they are not as fine as I would like, but that will be remedied. Assuming your devoted captain is willing to give up his bachelor’s quarters when you marry, apartments will be prepared for you then.

“Now, you must go dance and I will keep this sleeping elfling company,” Thranduil finished as he cradled the warm little body to his chest.

He sat alone with his son, and leaning down he kissed the child’s head. “I thank the Valar for protecting you, nín-ion. I am so glad you are finally home.”

*******

Author’s note:
tithen muindor = little brother
tithen caun = little prince
nín-sell = my daughter
mae govannen = well met
Hîr-nín = My Lord
nín-ion = my son
nín-muinthel o gur = sister of my heart


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.

Story Information

Author: Nilmandra

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 11/21/04

Original Post: 01/07/03

Go to May the Valar Protect Them overview

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