Legolas awoke, slowly, sleepily, thinking he had heard the door open, but there was no one there. He lay still for a moment, enjoying the sensation of peace and contentment; a feeling, he realised, that had been missing for many weeks now. There were strong, warm arms around him, and he felt utterly safe and secure. Suddenly, though, he remembered the events of the night before. Cautiously he twisted around until he faced his father, being careful not to wake him. He gazed at the familiar, beloved face, wondering. How could he have been so foolish as to believe his father no longer loved him, no longer wanted him?
The intensity of his gaze gradually penetrated his father’s dreams, and Thranduil blinked a little, then gave a slow smile. “Good morning, elfling,” he said softly. “How do you feel today?”
Legolas put his arms around his father’s neck, hugging him tightly. “Better,” he smiled, snuggling closer. “Ada, I’m sorry I was so silly last night.”
“Not silly,” Thranduil reassured him. He kissed Legolas on the top of his head. “You were upset. You heard something you did not understand. What have I told you about listening to half a conversation? Now, do you still want to ride out into the forest today?”
Legolas looked up doubtfully, and sighed. “Can we do that? I have lessons today. And one is Lanatus’ history lesson, and it’s so boring! Oh, Ada, I wish I could!”
Thranduil frowned. “I thought you liked history?”
“Not the way Lanatus does it.” Legolas sounded subdued.
“Then I shall give you the day off.”
Legolas tilted his head back to look at his father, his eyes bright. “The day off? Can you really do that?” he asked hopefully.
“Of course I can. The King can do anything,” Thranduil replied lightly.
“Can you give yourself the day off too?” Legolas sounded excited now.
Thranduil smiled. “I already have. I just need to tell Lanatus and Tionel.”
“He won’t like it,” Legolas stated with certainty. There was no need to state who ‘he’ was.
“No, maybe not. Never mind.” Thranduil did not seem too dismayed at the prospect. “Now, we have to get up, or the day will be half gone. What about breakfast? Are you hungry?”
Legolas’ stomach rumbled in reply. “Starving,” he agreed.
“Well, the sooner you get dressed, the sooner you can eat. Come on.”
Thranduil chivvied Legolas into the bathing room, where he stripped off the crumpled clothes he was wearing from the day before. Legolas’ bright chatter filled the room as he washed and splashed. It was a sound Thranduil had sorely missed over the last few months. Searching through various chests, Thranduil finally found clean clothes for his son and set them ready. At last Legolas emerged, clean and dressed.
“Ready? Off you go and have breakfast, then. And decide where you want to go today. I shall meet you later, I have to make arrangements first.”
Legolas scurried down the stairs, leaping over the last steps as he usually did - but had not done for far too long. Thranduil followed more conventionally. First he had to find Lanatus and break the news about the change of plans. As Legolas had predicted, the steward was not best pleased – not about the disruption of his history teaching, nor the King’s dereliction of duty.
“Lanatus, you and Tionel can cope for one day,” Thranduil said firmly. “And Legolas can catch up in his next lesson. In fact, if you let him have the books, he can read it for himself.” He knew that Legolas much preferred to read the stories about battles, alliances, warriors and heroes for himself, rather than listen to Lanatus’ repetition of names and dates, which Thranduil had to admit was stultifyingly dull.
After finally placating Lanatus, Thranduil headed towards the kitchens to find Mireth. He gave her instructions for the day, then realised that like Legolas, he still wore the same clothes as the previous day. He wanted to bathe and change before they left. As he went back to his own rooms, he passed the guest corridor, and met Elrond emerging.
“Well?!” Elrond demanded.
“Yes, things are well now. Thank you.” Thranduil replied irritatingly. He knew perfectly well that Elrond wanted to know how things stood with Legolas. When Elrond had left them the night before, the child had still been distraught.
“How is he? How are you? What happened after I left?” Elrond was asking as many questions as Legolas normally did.
Thranduil briefly explained everything that had taken place after Elrond had left them. However, he was still worried about Legolas, and his reaction.
“Elrond, why did he think that in the first place? How could he believe it? And why did he avoid me like that? It was as if he was afraid!”
Elrond sighed deeply, compassion in his eyes at Thranduil’s distress. He had had a long sleepless night to ponder the reason for Legolas’ behaviour, once the cause had been established. He tried to explain things as he saw them. “After what happened to Telparian, the thought of losing you as well must be the one thing that terrifies him above all else. When he overheard our conversation it must have somehow confirmed all his worst fears.”
“So why did he react like that? Just disappearing. It was not just me he was avoiding, it was Mireth as well. Why?”
“It was probably easier for him to deal with. If he did not see you, he could pretend there was nothing wrong. I expect it caused less pain that way.”
Thranduil considered Elrond’s words. In the eyes of a child, grief stricken and confused, it made sense to behave in that way. He nodded slowly. “Yes. Yes, I see.”
“It also explains why he seemed afraid. When I saw his reaction when I suggested that he talk to you, I thought ...” Elrond shook his head ruefully. “You would not believe some of the things I thought,” he admitted.
Thranduil turned sharply at that. He could believe it only too well. There had been an instance he was aware of in Esgaroth, and then there was what he had heard of the last days of Númenor ... He decided he would rather not know any more.
As Thranduil continued on his way, Elrond went down to the dining hall. Legolas was still there, holding an animated conversation with some of his friends. They too looked relieved - they must have wondered what was the matter with their companion. As he drew near, Elrond overheard one make a protest of disbelief.
“He’s given you the day off? No lessons? That’s not fair!”
The other friend - Tirnan, was it? - said enviously: “I wish my father was King and could do things like that! You’re so lucky!”
“I don’t expect it will happen again,” said Legolas glumly. “And Lanatus is sure to give me extra work to make up for it!”
They were quick to recognise the privileges which Legolas had, Elrond thought, but would not be so envious of the stricter discipline and rules that he lived by. His own sons’ friends were just the same, and had frequently commiserated at the additional studying Elladan and Elrohir had to do, while their friends roamed the woods of Imladris. Elflings everywhere were all the same.
He watched Legolas surreptitiously for a moment. The bright, cheerful, happy child he saw now bore no resemblance to the sullen and withdrawn boy he had met by the stream, nor to the distressed child he had left sobbing in his father’s arms the night before. Thranduil had worked a remarkable transformation.
When Legolas finally finished his meal, he rose with his friends to leave. He saw Elrond then, and came over to where he sat, standing beside the bench.
“Good morning, elfling. How do you feel today?” Elrond questioned, unconsciously echoing Thranduil’s words.
“Better. Much better, thank you.” Legolas seemed hesitant, and dropped his gaze to the stone-flagged floor, tracing the lines between slabs with his foot. Then he looked up again. “I’m sorry I was so horribly rude to you last night, Lord Elrond.”
“There is no apology needed. You were - upset.”
“But I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that. I knew what I was saying, I just couldn’t seem to stop,” Legolas confessed.
“I told you, there is no apology needed,” explained Elrond. “I understand. But I accept your apology. I am just relieved to see you looking so much happier.”
Legolas nodded, a bright smile lighting his face. “Father says we can go out today, just the two of us, for the whole day if we want, and I don’t have to do any lessons! It will be wonderful!”
Elrond returned the smile. “That sounds like a marvellous idea. I hope you have a lovely time, both of you.”
Legolas suddenly remembered his manners, and his duties as host. “Oh - would you like to come as well, Lord Elrond?” He managed to hide it well, but obviously hoped desperately that Elrond would refuse.
Feigning much regret, Elrond shook his head. He had absolutely no intention of disrupting the precious time between father and son. “I wish I could. But I cannot, I am afraid. I have many letters to write today. Perhaps another time?”
Legolas smiled with relief. “Yes, another time. Thank you, Lord Elrond. Goodbye!” He turned, and hurried out of the hall. It was time to find his father, and make their plans for the day.
He found Tionel in the hallway. “Tionel! Please, have you seen my father?”
“Yes, the last time I saw him he was in his rooms.” He watched, amused, as Legolas shot past, a sense of urgency replacing the listlessness of the last few days.
Thranduil looked up as Legolas knocked on the door, then immediately opened it. “Ada? Are you ready?”
“Yes, I think so. What about you? Have you decided where you want to go?”
Legolas nodded enthusiastically. “Can we go to the Beech Valley? I know it’s a long way, but it’s my favourite place, and if we go now we can get there by lunch time, and I thought we could ask Mireth for a picnic, and we don’t have to be back too early, do we?”
Thranduil waited for the torrent of words to stop. He had already asked Mireth if she would prepare a picnic for them, and had also asked her to pack a towel. No matter where they went, Legolas would want to swim at some time, and even if he did not, he usually managed to fall in a stream or pool somewhere. Perhaps he should find Legolas a change of clothes as well?
“The Beech Valley? Are you sure? Then you had better hurry, if we are to be there before supper!” Thranduil followed Legolas as he bounded back down the stairs, realising that he was looking forward to this outing very nearly as much as his son.Stories> First > Previous > Next