Slowly, life began to return to some semblance of normality. The training for novices and apprentices resumed, as did weapons practice for the warriors. Although both Thranduil and Legolas felt as if their world had ended, all around them the minutiae of everyday life continued unabated.
Thranduil had decided it would be best if Legolas went back to his lessons as soon as possible, rather than have too much free time to dwell on things. Studying kept him busy, though his tutors, even Lanatus, were rather more lenient with the occasional lapses of attention than they would have been normally.
Envoys bearing messages had been sent out to Esgaroth and Dale, to the villages scattered along the edges of the forest, to the border patrols, and to both Imladris and Lothlorien. They proved to be the hardest letters Thranduil had ever had to write. Many, many drafts ended up fuelling the fires that heated the deeper recesses of Lasgalen. He found it impossible to set the right tone. The contents were either too raw and emotional, or so casual as to seem uncaring. In the end, Tionel took over the task. It was difficult, but he was glad he could shoulder at least part of the burden.
Messages of condolence began to arrive - some merely formal, noting ‘with deep regret’ what had happened, while others were more heartfelt and sincere. There was a long letter from Celebrían, full of genuine sympathy, enquiring after both Thranduil and Legolas, and asking if Elrond, who was due to travel to Esgaroth and Dale, could stay in Lasgalen for part of the journey.
Elrond arrived in Lasgalen some two months after Telparian’s death, after a long, weary journey. The long, hot summer had eventually come to an end, in the last week giving way to ferocious storms and heavy rain. The incessant, driving rain had seeped into everything, even the light, warm, ‘waterproof’ cloaks Elrond and his party wore. After a hot bath, and a meal together in the great hall - the feasts had been suspended, but people still had to eat - Elrond joined Thranduil in his study, next to a warm fire.
“I was so very sorry to hear your news. It is a great tragedy, Telparian was well-loved. But what of you, my friend? And Legolas?”
Thranduil shook his head. “We - manage. Legolas seems to be coming to terms with it, but he has good days and bad days. As I do,” he admitted.
Elrond was silent for a moment, trying to put himself in the other’s place. How would he feel if he ever lost Celebrían? How would the twins cope, or Arwen? He shied away from the thought, it was too terrible to contemplate.
“When the news came, I wondered what you would do,” he said instead. “I half expected you to join them in death, or at least to travel over the sea. You show great strength in remaining.”
“I was sorely tempted,” Thranduil confessed. “I think I would, if I could, even now. But how can I follow them? I have Legolas. He is all that prevents me - I could never leave him,” he added simply.
Elrond smiled, thinking of the quiet, solemn child he had met briefly for the first time that day. “He reminds me much of you both.”
“Yes. He has Telparian’s gentle nature and sweet temper - most of the time. He also seems to have inherited my father’s stubbornness and strong will!”
Privately, Elrond though that Legolas had received his obstinate character from a little closer to home than Oropher, but wisely said nothing.
The heavy rains had caused flooding along the Forest River as far as Esgaroth, and the banks were impassable. Elrond stayed in Lasgalen for several days, in no hurry to continue his journey. He spoke much with Thranduil, who seemed to be slowly accepting his wife’s death. However he saw very little of Legolas. The child was rarely to be seen, even at meal times. He queried this with Thranduil.
“He has always been out and about in the forest,” the King explained. “Always. If he is too late for supper, I think he manages to persuade Mireth to find him something to eat. He seems to have been out with his friends even more of late, and I think he must be tired. He forgets to come to say goodnight, and when I go to his room, he is already asleep.”
Elrond wondered at this behaviour. In Imladris, Elladan and Elrohir were always underfoot, causing mischief and mayhem, and never went to bed voluntarily. They never missed a meal, either, and frequently caused chaos in the kitchens when they helped themselves to extra ‘snacks’. Legolas’s invisibility seemed rather strange. “Is that - usual?”
“He has been very quiet recently. I scarcely see him on some days. I feel at times that he is avoiding me!” Thranduil smiled, but it seemed forced. He sighed. “I worry about him, Elrond. He is so young for such a thing to have happened.”
When he left Thranduil, Elrond wandered outside to gaze at the stars. The skies had finally cleared over the last two days, and the evening was still and peaceful. The area was deserted apart from the guards on the doors, and very quiet. The only sound was the incessant voice of the forest - the faint movement and rustle of leaves, a breath of soft breeze, the calls of birds and insects, and the murmur of the river behind him. Faintly he could hear the high-pitched clicks of bats hunting moths and other night-flying insects.
Suddenly there was a louder sound, close behind him, a dull splash as something was thrown into the water. Startled, Elrond turned, but could see nothing apart from the spreading ripples on the surface of the water. There was another splash, and he traced the origin to a stone thrown from the other side of the stream - but where from? There seemed no room. The water very nearly met the side of the hill just here.
He moved a little further along the bank, and saw a tiny patch of grass squeezed between the river and the walls of Lasgalen. A narrow path led to it, then vanished. Just visible, tucked away in a nearly hidden corner, he saw Legolas, moodily tossing pebbles into the water. “Hello, there!” he called.
Legolas looked up slowly, staring across the river. “Hello,” he replied shortly.
“Do you mind if I join you?” Elrond enquired.
Legolas shrugged. “If you want.” The curt answer bordered on rudeness.
Elrond was not put off. “How do I get there?” he persisted.
Legolas sighed, then pointed back to the entrance. “That way. Between the doors and the bridge. There’s a path.”
Elrond retraced his steps, and negotiated his way along the narrow path, squeezed past some bushes, and found himself in Legolas’ tiny enclave.
“I had no idea this was here,” he commented.
“No. It’s private,” said Legolas pointedly.
Elrond ignored the hint, wondering at the child’s attitude. Legolas was staring gloomily into the water, wearing an expression of abject misery. Concerned, Elrond sat down next to him. After a while, he commented: “If you jump in, you might scare the fish. You could drown, you know.”
Legolas started. It was clear he had forgotten there was anyone there. He muttered something under his breath. It sounded as if he had said “No one would care”, but such a comment was so unlike Legolas that Elrond decided he must have misheard.
“Why are you out here, alone, so late at night? It could be dangerous. Does your father know where you are?”
There was another mutter, even quieter, but perfectly clear. “He wouldn’t care either.”
Rather alarmed at the tone of the conversation, Elrond sat quietly, searching for a neutral topic to talk about. “Lasgalen is a very lovely place, I had forgotten how beautiful it is. One day I will bring Elladan and Elrohir to visit - I think you would get on well.”
There was a flicker of interest at this. “They’re your sons, aren’t they. Are they twins?”
“Yes, and so alike that even I have difficulty telling them apart sometimes. Especially when they do it deliberately.”
Legolas gave the ghost of a smile. “They try to trick you?”
“Yes. The strange thing is, Arwen always knows who they are.” Elrond sighed in puzzlement, not for the first time. “I wish I knew how she does it.”
“Is she their sister?”
“I wish I had a sister. Then perhaps ...” he stopped
“Perhaps what?” Elrond prompted.
There was a long sigh, full of sadness. “Nothing.”
“Legolas?” Elrond spoke very gently. “Legolas, what is it? What worries you so much? Is it because of your mother, or Lissuin?”
Legolas shook his head each time. “I said there’s nothing wrong!” he insisted. The utter misery Elrond could see in his face belied the defiant words.
“Is someone being unkind? Teasing you? Bullying you?”
There was another shake of the head.
Elrond sighed, knowing he was getting nowhere. “Well, if you cannot talk to me, why not tell your father about it?” he suggested. “I know he - ”
“No! No, I don’t want to tell him anything!” There was something that sounded very much like fear in Legolas’s voice.
Elrond felt cold. Surely not ...?
“Legolas?” he asked softly. “Is it your father?” There was little reaction, but Legolas seemed to hunch his shoulders a little more tightly. He turned his head away. Elrond was sure he had heard a stifled sob.
“What has happened? What has he done? Has he hit you, or - or hurt you in some way?” Elrond could not believe what he was asking, but the question finally got a reaction.
Legolas raised his head a little, and looked up at Elrond at last. “I said there’s nothing wrong! I don’t want to talk about it!” His eyes were dark with sleeplessness, and his face was pinched-looking.
Elrond did not know whether he was relieved or not. Was Legolas telling the truth? He could never believe Thranduil would lay a finger on his son, but he had to consider the possibility. He had seen such a thing once in a child brought to him for healing, many years ago. The physical scars from a terrible fall had been nothing compared to the scars Elrond had found on his soul.
“Then what?” Elrond, for all his experience with his own children, was at a loss. Legolas denied that there was anything wrong, but that was clearly untrue. And whatever it was, Legolas did not want to talk about it.
“Nothing’s wrong!” he repeated obstinately. He got to his feet abruptly. “I’m going in,” he announced, and began to walk back along the track.
“Legolas!” Elrond called.
He stopped, his back rigid and stiff with tension, but did not turn around. “What?”
“I was always told that it was rather rude to say ‘what’,” Elrond commented.
“What is it, Lord Elrond?” Elrond was stunned to hear the insolent tone.
“When you go to bed, will you come to say goodnight to me?” He sensed Legolas was about to refuse, so added: “Please?”
Legolas’ shoulders sagged, as he was defeated by kindness. “All right.”
Elrond watched him go, by now very worried indeed. One thing was clear. He had to see Thranduil, now.Stories> First > Previous > Next