Characters: Thranduil, Legolas, OC
Disclaimer: The characters and places of the Lord of the Rings are the creation of J.R.R. Tolkien, and currently licensed to New Line Cinema. All original characters and situations belong to the author. No slash expressed or implied at any time in any of my stories.
“Legolas? What are you doing?” Without shifting his gaze, Legolas pressed a finger to his lips and gestured to his nephew to sit beside him.
“I am watching,” he whispered in a tone that made it quite clear that he thought this most obvious.
“That I can see,” Belegorn said matter-of-factly. “What are you watching?”
Legolas rolled his eyes in mild exasperation and pointed down the passageway to his mother, who had just emerged from a chamber beside her own. He ducked a little to allow Belegorn to peek past him.
“What is it I should see?” Belegorn inquired, staring intently. Legolas rolled his eyes, again, and added a sigh for emphasis.
“There!” he hissed softly and pointed more insistently. “No one ever goes in there, but today Mother has gone in and out and in and out and in and out...”
His voice faded in bewilderment, and he abruptly turned a questioning gaze upon his nephew. Belegorn was very old - approaching his twenty-first summer - and was therefore very wise. Surely, he, if anyone, ought to know what was afoot.
“Oooh, that is all...” Breaking into a sudden grin, Belegorn shook his head at his uncle’s baffled expression. “Grandmother is only preparing the chamber for you.”
“Preparing it for me?“ Legolas echoed in a mystified whisper, his hands pressed against his chest.
“Indeed,” Belegorn said, laughing. “You have grown too big to live in Grandmother and Grandfather’s chamber any longer.”
Legolas’s eyes widened. He had never imagined he could grow too big for Mother and Father’s chamber. It seemed large enough to house every elf in the Greenwood. His eyes widened further as, to his dismay, it occurred to him that bedtime approached. Surely, he was not too big to sleep in Mother and Father’s chamber this night!
“Do not be frightened,” Belegorn soothed. “It is not as though you must move into it this very hour. Mother says that the time is long overdue, but that it may be many weeks yet before Grandfather is ready - though I am not certain what that means, as it is you who will be moving, not Grandf...”
“I am not frightened,” Legolas said, narrowing his eyes. He really had not yet decided if he were or no, but if ten springs were too old to fit in Mother and Father’s chamber, then he was certainly too old to be frightened - and he would not have his nephew see otherwise.
Belegorn shrugged indifferently.
“Would you like to take a peek inside? I am certain Grandmother would allow it. After all, it is to be your chamber.”
Eyes growing wide once more, Legolas shook his head emphatically.
“Very well,” Belegorn said, sighing as he rose. “Would you like to come with me, then? Mother has begun a new tapestry, and I am certain she would tell us the tale of it if we asked.”
Legolas shook his head, again.
“You are just going to sit here and watch?” the older youth queried incredulously.
“Elflings!” his nephew huffed under his breath and, with a roll of his eyes, ambled away.
Legolas watched him go until Belegorn passed the small chamber. His gaze shifted then to the somewhat-inviting, somewhat-forbidding doorway. My chamber! He rose cautiously and stole toward the entryway, halting just outside. Perhaps just a little peek...
The heavy oak door stood slightly ajar, which allowed him to peer inside, while remaining safely outside. The vantage point was too narrow to get a view of the entire chamber, for it was quite large, but he could see an enormous bed. It was not as large as Mother and Father’s - it was hardly possible for there to be another bed in all Arda as big as that. Still, it was much too big for an elf to be expected to sleep in all by himself, Legolas decided uneasily.
Then again, perhaps it must be so large because I have grown so big, he considered and puffed up a little with pride in the accomplishment. In the light of this new understanding, Legolas studied the bed more closely and decided that it appeared quite comfortable. Satiny sheets peeked out from beneath layers of soft furs and a fluffy stack of pillows. His courage mounting, he pushed the door open enough to enter and bravely stepped inside.
Come in! Come in, child! Well met! Come in! The stone of the chamber walls lightly echoed in a myriad of friendly, eager voices.
Legolas giggled. The palace’s stone would often hum with merriment or drone in lamentation, but it rarely spoke with words. Mother and Father’s chamber would sing to him sometimes if he awoke frightened with no one else awake or about to soothe him. Its voice was always kind and patient, never excited like this chamber. Legolas stepped further inside.
Yes, yes, come in! Come in! Are you going to stay a while? Are you going to be our elf? We have not had an elf of our own in so very long! Not since the brothers went away to war. It has been very lonely. Pray, tell us you are going to stay!
“Yes, I think I am to be your elf. I mean, I think you are to be my chamber,” Legolas said with a grin. A room that was so eager to have him within it could not possibly be a scary place. He was just about to say as much aloud when a voice beckoned from the passageway.
“Little leaf!” it said. “Come, it is time for my bed, and I wish for some company.”
“I must go now. That is my father coming to fetch me for bed,” Legolas whispered. The stone’s voices stilled, and a heavy air of disappointment filled the chamber.
“Do not be sad. I will return when I awake,” he promised solemnly, before squeezing past the heavy door and into the passageway.
“There you are, my leaf,” said Thranduil, catching sight of him. “Come, it has been a busy afternoon. I am long past ready for my bed.” He smiled down at his elfling as Legolas took his hand. “How was your afternoon?”
“It was busy, too, father!” Legolas answered earnestly, his grey eyes large and grave.
“Oh?” Thranduil prodded, valiantly endeavoring not to grin at his child’s seriousness.
“Yes,” he said with a nod. “I have been watching.”
“Watching?” said Thranduil quizzically. “That does not sound very busy.”
“Oh, but it is, father!” Legolas asserted. “When you are watching, you must also be thinking and figuring out what you are seeing, and that is all very tiring. I am ready for bed, too.”
“I see,” came Thranduil’s choked response, as he hid a stifled laugh behind his hand. Legolas mistook the gesture for a yawn and gazed sympathetically at his father.
“I think bedtime has come none too soon,” he said. Then remembering something his mother sometimes said at naptime, he added, ”You will be asleep before your head hits the pillow.”
“Indeed, it is entirely possible,” Thranduil replied, with a bark of laughter. “Be that the case, you will have to tell the go-to-sleep story tonight.”
“Oh, no, father!” Legolas said, gaping up at Thranduil. “I cannot tell the go-to-sleep story! A grown-up must do it.”
“And are you not grown-up?” asked his father. “You seem very grown to me.”
“Indeed, I have gotten very big!” his elfling confirmed, puffing up with pride once more. “But I am still not quite all the way grown up yet. Perhaps in another year or two...”
“Hm, perhaps,” said Thranduil, as they entered the king’s chamber. “I suppose I shall simply have to stay awake long enough to tell the go-to-sleep story.”
Legolas nodded in solemn agreement, as his father helped him into his nightclothes and lifted him onto the king and queen’s great bed. Lying on his side beside the elfling with head propped on hand, Thranduil asked”What shall it be today? Dragons? Trolls?”
“Ents!” said Legolas, nestling into the soft pillows.
“Ents, hm? Ah, I know just what you want to hear,” replied Thranduil, with a shrewd grin. The tale of the entwives was one of Legolas’s favorites. Clearing his throat, the king put on a deep voice and began. “The ent says: When Spring unfolds the beechen leaf, and sap is in the bough; When light is on the wild-wood stream, and wind is on the brow...”
As the king finished the second ent verse, he decided that watching was, indeed, very exhausting work. His elfling was fast asleep. Legolas usually made it to the start of the third entwife verse at least, though he never made it to the end. Thranduil smiled, wondering if the child would ever hear the song’s end. By the time he is old enough to stay awake for it, he mused, my leaf will be too old to be sung asleep by his father. Such thoughts brought a melancholy frown to Thranduil face. Snuggling into the pillows, he watched his little one sleep.
“You cannot stop him from growing, Elvenking though you be,” came a tender voice in his ear, followed by soft arms sliding around him. Thranduil turned his head toward his queen as she rested her chin on his shoulder.
“Just a little longer, that is all I ask,” his eyes pleaded. The queen smiled lovingly, before shifting her gaze to the elfling beside him.
“It is time, Thranduil. You know it in your heart as well as I. He needs his own space,” she said firmly but patiently. The king turned his eyes toward his elfling.
“I am not ready,” he said in a soft whisper.
“Indeed,” answered his queen. “This I know, but he is. You cannot keep him an elfling forever.”
Thranduil nodded wearily. He comprehended the truth of her words. Legolas would keep growing, with or without his king’s leave. Thranduil had to come to terms with it...but he did not have to like it.
The queen smiled wanly and, laying her head more comfortably on his shoulder, snuggled in beside him. “A few more days will make little difference.”
Thranduil nodded again, before drifting into a sweet memory of other elflings.
Legolas woke with a yawn and a slow stretch. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he rolled onto his side and found his mother and father snuggled beside him. He frowned. They had not changed out of their day clothes, and everyone knew that day clothes were not for wearing at night, else they would be called nightclothes. Legolas wondered if he should wake them and remind them of such, but decided against it. Mother and Father would want to cuddle and snuggle and, most importantly, go back to sleep, and he had an adventure to go on.
Crawling carefully down, Legolas padded around the bed to claim the candle that had been left burning there, and then he softly crept out to the passageway and back to the mysterious chamber that was to be his. The door remained ajar, just as it had been earlier, but this time when he peeked inside, he found only darkness, except for a narrow beam of dancing light filtering in from the passage and the faint flicker of his own candle. Legolas hesitated, but then remembered that he had grown too big to be afraid and steeled himself.
“It is only dark because it is sleeping-time and the candles have been put out,” he whispered and pushed the heavy door further open, lighting more of the chamber with torchlight from the passageway.
Oh! You have come back! The stone echoed joyfully.
“Of course,” whispered Legolas. “I said I would return when I awoke, and now I am awake.”
The stone hummed delightedly. Come in! Come in! You left too quickly before; we did not have time to share our treasure with you!
“Treasure!” Legolas squealed, remembering too late that one had to be very quiet when on a secret adventure.
Indeed! The brothers left it here for the elfling to come. We had begun to despair that one would ever come, but we should not have doubted. The brothers were always true to their word. And here you are! Come now and see the treasure we have stored for you. It is here, at the foot of the bed.
Legolas clapped with delight and hastened in from the doorway. He frowned, though, as he reached the appointed place. The light from the passage barely reached the foot of the bed and revealed naught but shadows. Still, despite the darkness, Legolas was certain he saw no treasure. He lifted his candle higher and turned a slow circle.
The stone hummed with laughter. You look up, when you should look down.
Legolas dropped his gaze to the floor, and his eyes widened. There, beneath his feet, was a squiggly crack growing ever bigger. He shuffled hastily to one side and watched with astonishment. Soon, there was a small hole. Kneeling, Legolas set his candle on the edge and peered in, his mouth forming a small 'o’ as the sight of the treasure filled his vision. His expression shifted into a delighted grin as he reached in the hole and pulled out the first marvelous wonder.
“Oh, it is beautiful,” he praised, flying a mithril eagle in the candlelight so that the light danced upon the intricately detailed feathers. It could not hold his attention for long, though, and soon his hand plunged in for the next wonder and then the next, until he sat surrounded by the most delightful treasures he had ever see. There was a golden songbird sitting on a branch that sang when he pulled a little lever, and an archer that came up almost to the elfling’s nose when he stood it on the floor beside him. He was painted to look like one of Father’s warriors and had arrows in his little quiver and a silver bow that he could fire if Legolas pulled his arm back for him. There was a mithril horse and a red dragon. There was a golden boat with moving sails and tiny oars that had little oarsmen sitting at each one. There was a slingshot sitting atop a bulging bag of mithril marbles and a chess set with a king and queen that looked just like mother and father and funny little dwarves as pawns. Legolas set all the figures on the board and clapped with delight as he studied them.
“Legolas? Where are you, little leaf?” Legolas froze as his father’s voice wafted in from passage. “Are you in here?”
A moment later, the tall form of the king stood outlined in the doorway. Legolas grinned at him. Once a secret adventure had been found out, it was much more fun to share it.
“Father, come and see what I have found,” said his little voice excitedly. “Come, meet my new friends.”
“Friends?” Thranduil repeated sleepily, as he approached and knelt beside his child. Legolas nodded eagerly.
“The other elflings put them here just for me!” he said jubilantly.
“Other elflings?” asked Thranduil with a funny tone that make Legolas look up solemnly. Perhaps the other elflings had not meant the treasure for him after all, and father was angry. He nodded soberly at the king, his wide eyes anxious.
“The elflings that lived here a long time ago; the ones that went away to war and didn’t come back. Before they went away, they left all their old friends in this small space...left them here just for me, so that one day I would find them, and they would become my friends, and I would not ever be lonely.” As the words tumbled out, tears welled up in Legolas’s eyes. His father’s face had grown more somber with every word, making him increasingly certain that the other elflings had not left these things for him, but for some elfling that was yet to come.
His slender shoulders slumped dejectedly.
“Would you like to hear a tale of these elflings?” the king’s voice queried after a long minute of eerie silence. Legolas tentatively lifted his gaze to meet his father’s damp eyes.
“You knew the other elflings?” he asked warily.
“Indeed,” said Thranduil, his voice wavering slightly. “They were my very own elflings once, just as you are now.”
His worry forgotten, Legolas gaped at his father. After a moment, he found his voice again. “Your very own elflings! But...but...that would make them my brothers! I have brothers! I have brothers?” He frowned perplexedly at his father.
“Yes, little leaf,” said Thranduil, taking his child small face in his hands. He tenderly wiped away the remnant of tears, even as his own trickled down his cheeks. “Would you like to know their names and all about them? I have many tales I can tell.”
Legolas nodded, climbing eagerly into Thranduil’s arms as the king held them open invitingly.
“Let us make ourselves comfortable, and then I will begin,” his father said and carried him over to the large bed. Soon they were cozily settled, and Thranduil began his first tale as he absently caressed Legolas’s golden hair.
Leaning against the doorframe, the Queen listened with tears of mingled joy and sorrow upon her cheeks. The king had not spoken of their sons in centuries, though she had pressed him to tell Legolas of his brothers. The pain is still too near, Thranduil would say, yet as he spoke now, it seemed to her as though she could actually see the weight of his grief lifting from his heart and the great festering wound begin to heal.
A/N: The ent tale come from Two Towers, Book III, Chapter 4 - Treebeard, page 80.