Chapter 1: Grief
King Thranduil had looked up from the pile of documents strewn across his desk, when he sensed a presence in the study with him. His only son stood in the doorway, misery etched into the fine features of his beautiful young face. He’d retired for the night less than an hour ago, but now it was clear he’d been awakened by a very unpleasant occurrence. He stood uncertainly in the entrance of his father’s library.
“What is it, my son?” Thranduil urged. Eyebrows the color of pale wheat knit together in concern.
“I dreamt of her again,” Legolas whispered, and his eyes searched his father’s helplessly.
The king’s heart clenched in a spasm of sympathy for his son, and he stood, holding out his arms to Legolas, who swiftly crossed the room to press himself against his father’s chest as his tears began to flow. He wept without restraint.
Thranduil enfolded his son in his arms, and murmured soothing words. He had long since ceased to shed tears over the loss of his wife, but the aching void left by her absence had never dissipated. Five years had passed since the queen of Mirkwood had ridden out into the forest alone, an action that cost her life, when a small band of Men, thieves by trade, had murdered her for no other reason than to steal the silver, jewel-encrusted necklace she wore. All were caught and executed, but neither king nor prince derived any satisfaction from that fact. Their queen was gone.
Thranduil gathered Legolas in his arms, easily lifting him, and sat in the large chair behind his desk.
“What will we do without her, adar?” Legolas whispered.
“You are not alone, little leaf, and neither am I.” The king cupped his son’s chin and raised it, to look into his streaming eyes. “We will lean on one another, will we not?” he asked gently.
Legolas nodded in silent agreement, and sighed contentedly, making no move to leave his father’s arms. To the human eye, the two would have seemed to be brothers, very similar in appearance and close in age. Tall, golden and beautiful, many hundreds of years separated them, and although the prince was fully grown, he was still young enough to be involved in the studies that would teach him everything he needed to know as both a member of the Elven race and the successor who would rule Mirkwood, when the day came. To take his son’s mind off his nightmares, Thranduil asked, “How are your studies coming along? What is Aniond teaching you now?”
Legolas quickly brushed away the remaining tears from his cheeks, as he began recounting all the subjects he was currently being taught in his tutor’s home each day. Thranduil had chosen to send Legolas to classes attended by other young students, since he didn’t approve of the practice of royalty keeping their offspring separated from the inhabitants of their realms. Every future ruler needed to bond with his or her people from an early age on, he firmly believed.
Encouraged by the fact that a change of subject was lightening Legolas’ mood considerably, Thranduil pressed on, “And your friend…..?”
“Garand,” the prince injected, as a warm smile spread across his lips.
“Garand,” the king repeated, “how is he progressing, in your opinion?”
“Very well, I think. He has a quick mind as well as a good heart.”
An idea suddenly formed in Thranduil’s mind. “Legolas,” he looked down at his son, “why do we not invite him here for an extended visit? If his mother and father can spare him, of course. Would you like that?”
The prince smiled radiantly. “I would like that very much, Father. Thank you.” He wound his arms around the king’s neck and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “And thank you for not pointing out to me that I am far too old to be sitting in my father’s lap,” he added, smiling wryly.
The Elven king’s face grew serious as he replied, “My Las, my own, you are everything to me. You will never be too old to be held by your father thus. I will have harsh words with anyone who says differently.”
Thranduil then cradled Legolas against him, and both father and son took comfort from it.
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