Dusk was falling over Mirkwood as Legolas made his way down the hall
towards his chambers. It had been several months since Mirkwood’s
reunification and the difficult work of beginning over had thus far
been going very well.
The prince paused when he saw light spilling into the hallway from the partially open door to his father’s study. Thranduil was obviously working late again.
Legolas crept to the door and peeked in through the crack. His father was seated at the desk, working over a stack of parchments that were spread around him.
Not wishing to disturb the older elf, Legolas started to creep away again, but a voice from within the study stopped him.
“Legolas? Is that you?”
“Yes, Ada,” Legolas pushed the door open somewhat sheepishly. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
Thranduil smiled and laid aside his quill, gesturing for the child to come closer. “You’re never an interruption Legolas, please, come in.”
Legolas complied happily. All the chairs by Thranduil’s desk were covered in requisition papers and missives waiting either to be read or sent, but the Elvenking pushed the stack of parchments on the edge of his desk further into the middle, patting the desktop in an invitation for Legolas to sit down.
The young elf hopped nimbly up and sat on the edge of his father’s desk, curling his folded legs under him and letting his hands rest on his ankles.
“Your mother says that Cúrorth has decided to sponsor you in the junior archery tournament next season. Would you like me to come with you tomorrow when you meet with him?” Thranduil asked.
Legolas beamed excitedly. “Yes father, I would love that, but I thought you had a meeting with the council tomorrow. I really don’t mind if you can’t, it’s not important.”
Thranduil nodded. “I do have a meeting, but if we aren’t finished by then they will just have to wait and we can reconvene the day after. Legolas... it is important,” Thranduil captured his son’s eyes. “It’s important to me to be part of your life and I have been too remiss about letting you know that.”
Thranduil reached up and squeezed his son’s hand. When Legolas squeezed back his fingers caught on the ring his father was wearing. The edsiria glimmered faintly in the candlelight.
Thranduil caught his son looking at it and Legolas quickly looked away as soon as he realized he had been, withdrawing his hand. The boy’s inner hurts were healing, but the memories would take far longer to fade.
“I’ve never told you the story behind this ring, have I Legolas?” Thranduil asked softly, considering the green and silver band on his finger. “It was given to my father by Maenas, a Sinda craftsman who was friend to Celebrimbor. It helps to channel and focus the power of the wearer, giving them greater control over their own innate strengths. It is a very special heirloom of our house and a secret not to be made known to the outside world.”
Legolas was studying his hands in his lap. “I didn’t know. Father, I’m sorry about...”
Thranduil touched the boy’s lips gently, bidding him stop. “No Legolas, no more apologies. They aren’t necessary. I tell you this because someday it may pass to you. If and when that happens, I want you to be ready for what guiding a people and guarding a realm entails. There’s so much I haven’t shared with you that I should; so much I want you to be a part of now... if you want to be. Do you want to help shoulder the responsibility of running this kingdom with me?”
Legolas nodded quickly, his smile brightening once more. “Yes, Ada, I would.”
Thranduil smiled and ruffled the boy’s hair. “Well then, you can start right now. How about helping me sort through this...” the Elvenking glanced around at the stacks of papers strewn about the room and gestured helplessly. “This mess?”
“All right, where do I start?” Legolas agreed eagerly. Thranduil never shared his personal responsibilities with anyone and the prince felt incredibly honored that he wanted to do so with him.
Thranduil assessed the carefully controlled chaos with a rueful grin. “I’ll take the right flank,” he gestured to the piles overflowing from the desk to the chairs on one side of the room. “And you take the left flank,” he gestured to the side closest to Legolas. “And we’ll catch them between us and meet in the middle.” The Elvenking laughed. “They almost all need answers. Most are fairly simple and you’ll know how to deal with them, if you have any questions, just ask. I think you’ll find another quill... under here... somewhere,” Thranduil chuckled as he rifled through papers until he discovered the extra quills and ink-dippers hidden beneath.
An hour later when Elvéwen looked in, she was surprised to find them both there. “Legolas, it’s past your bedtime,” she chided with a soft smile.
“I’m not tired Nana, I’m helping Ada,” Legolas said proudly, lifting the quill in his ink-smudged fingers as proof.
Thranduil smiled conspiratorially at his son over the desk they were sharing. “Ah, but we’re working my love. I’ll see Legolas gets to bed at a decent time.”
Elvéwen smiled and shook her head. “Your idea of decent could be questioned of late dearest, but very well, I will see you in the morning.” She was glad to see them together like this.
The next morning, Elvéwen realized that she had slept alone and Thranduil had never been to bed. Pulling on her dressing gown, the queen made her way quietly out of the bedroom. Just as she suspected, a faint light was still spilling from beneath Thranduil’s study door.
Soft sounds of laughter could be heard issuing from within and her eyebrows went up. Many mornings she had awoken to find Thranduil still busy at work from the night before, but there was never anything mirthful to the situation.
Cracking the door slightly she peered inside. The papers and missives had all been dealt with and were stacked neatly in the corner of the room. The desk had been cleared and a chair was pushed up against it at an angle. Much to the Queen’s amusement, she found Thranduil and Legolas racing flat, circular goblet coasters down natural ramps made by the chair arms and attempting to knock over a tall tower of carefully folded and balanced scrap parchment.
Elvéwen could not help laughing, which caused both Thranduil and Legolas to look up at once; sharing the same amused, but slightly guilty look.
“Morning already, dear?” Thranduil remarked with an innocent smile. He and Legolas had been having more fun than he had had in ages and the Elvenking had actually lost track of time.
“Good morning Nana!” Legolas bounced over to give his mother a hug. Despite having been up all night, his eyes were glowing and dancing in a way that warmed Elvéwen’s heart. “I’ve beaten Ada five times now.”
“Four and a half,” Thranduil protested good-naturally. “We haven’t finished this one yet! Good morning, meleth-nín,” he kissed his wife on the cheek.
“Good morning, my loves,” Elvéwen could not contain her amused smile. “Well, since you are obviously still very busy with your important affairs of state, I shall tell them you won’t be wanting breakfast, although I did hear that they were making fresh fruit over aflas...”
“Aflas!” Legolas cheered happily. “Let’s go have breakfast Ada!”
Thranduil laughed. “I think that would be good. That way I can leave my ignominious defeat at four and a half. But I will be wanting a rematch,” he warned with a smile as the three of them headed down the hall together.
Legolas flashed his father a brilliant grin. “Any time, Ada.”
There was much work ahead for all of them, but together they would find a way to make it through.
The process of restoring everything that had been torn apart was long
and difficult, but Mirkwood did rebuild and reunify completely,
becoming a stronger and more affluent realm than ever before.
Eventually Legolas would get his wish, although in a way quite unforeseen, and many of the lost exiles of Mirkwood who had shared Doriflen’s banishment were brought home and reunited with their former kin. Such was the case with Garilien and Cirlith who were reunited after Doriflen’s death and managed to rebuild what had been lost; letting two broken hearts become whole again in newfound joy.
Over the years Thranduil never did beat Legolas’ record at coaster-racing and they stopped counting sometime after five-hundred and thirty-eight, although the Elvenking still swore it was five-hundred, thirty-seven and a half.