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The Love I Have For You

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“How could this have happened? Where is my son? He must be found!” The king of Mirkwood’s voice echoed around the throne room. Thranduil stood quickly, rushing down the steps of his throne and to the ornate doors. “Nin aran, you must calm yourself. I have already sent men out to patrol the forest for him, with another set ready to leave upon my arrival. The servants are doing the same inside the palace. Av-‘osto. He cannot have gone far.” The captain of the guard explained.

Although Thranduil understood well enough that his men could handle the situation, he was not one to sit idly by while his kin were in danger. “All the same, I will accompany you in your search of the forest. Have my horse prepared.” He pushed past the captain, making his way to the armory, not waiting to see the captain leave to do his bidding.

The Silvan king equipped his favourite sword at his side before pulling on his riding cloak and rushing to the stables. As expected, the captain of the guard was awaiting his arrival, his steed already equipped for the journey. “Let’s hurry, my King. We only have a few hours of daylight left.”

Together, they spurred their horses to a gallop, rushing to find thee trail of the missing prince.


 

Eleanor stepped into the clear river, shivering at the chill it send up her body. Carefully, she waded up to her knees, holding up her dress as she did so it would not get wet. “There you are. Such a beauty, and yet such a pain to find.” She mused with a smile at the lilies that lazily floated on the surface.

Gingerly, she picked one up in her pale fingers, bringing the flower to her nose to breathe in its intoxicating scent. Lilies always were her favourites. Smiling even more, Eleanor placed the flower in the pocket created by her dress before reaching down to pick one more. “Two for the home will be nice, I think.” She made her way back to the bank. Carefully, she placed the blossoms into her pack before fixing her dress.

A soft rustling in the brush to her side startled her. “Hello? Is someone there?” She laid her hand on the small dagger at her side. There was no answer, and the brush did not move again. “It must be the darkness, creeping in and making me jump at shadows.” The woman shook her head, retrieved her pack, and headed in the opposite direction for her home, all the while her hand never left the hilt of her dagger.

As she neared the entrance to her humble cabin, she heard rustling again, this time coming from behind her. Eleanor dropped her pack to the ground, choosing to pull the dagger completely from its sheath. “Come out now!” She shouted towards the forest. The rustling began again. Eleanor raised her weapon, preparing for any manner of monster to emerge from the foliage.

But it wasn’t a monster at all. It was a toddler…no more than three in the race of Men, but as Eleanor looked closer at the child she noticed his tiny pointed ears peeking out from his platinum-blond hair. The child hiccupped loudly, his eyes widening at the sight of the blade aimed at him. Tears were in his eyes, waiting to fall.

“Shh. I won’t hurt you.” She sheathed the dagger, holding her hands up to let the elfling know that her word was true. The child ran to her, wrapping his arms around her legs in a vice-like grip. Eleanor knelt, gently taking the child in her arms and lifting him, cradling his head against her shoulder as she did so. “Where did you come from, little one? Where are your parents?”

The child lifted his head. “Ada…I don’t know…” The boy sniffled, rubbing his nose with his sleeve. “Ahh, don’t cry. We will find him. Do you have a name, child?” He nodded as she wiped at his tears with the hanging sleeves of her own gown. “Legolas.”

“Well, Legolas, I am Eleanor. Pleased to meet you.” She smiled, delighted when she saw him smile as well. “Come on. Let’s get you fed and then we can search for your father, okay?” Legolas nodded, sighing contently as Eleanor carried him into her little cabin.

After the elf toddler had been well fed from her stocks of berries and fruits she had harvested from her tiny garden out back, they decided to head out in search of the boy’s father. Eleanor held the child’s hand, letting him tell her all that he could remember of home, but none of his directions made sense. “How did you come to be out here all alone? This isn’t the place for a young child.”

“I was playing, and I got lost, and now I don’t know how to get back.” He tugged at her sleeve with his other hand, removing his grip to rub his eyes tiredly. “I’ll help you find your way back, Legolas. You are safe with me.” The woman removed her large cloak and covered the boy in it. She then lifted him into her arms, snuggly wrapped with the hood up to protect his face from the cold. “Sleep now, little one.” Legolas nodded, yawning once before curling against her.

Eleanor continued her pace. While she may not know where his father was, her best bet would be to take him to the village of Men just outside of the forest. The kingdom of Mirkwood, although filled with elves, was not overtly friendly towards Men like herself.

Gently, so as not to wake him, she rubbed Legolas’ back and began to sing. The song was a soft lullaby…one she hadn’t heard in many years…one her own mother had sung to her as a child.

“On winds and waters may you cross,

See mountains white and blue.

But on your road, let's not forget

The love I have for you

Dance on beaches in Anfalas

Sleep in moonlit fields of view

May you cross another golden age

With preciousness free-flowing

With Halfling, Elves, and Dwarves engage,

Their wisdom on you bestowing.”

 

Eleanor hummed the tune, idly stroking her companion’s back as she made her way towards the village. 


 

Thranduil reared his horse to a halt. What was that? He thought. Singing? He turned his head towards the sound, straining his ears towards the sound. Faintly, he could hear the song continue. The king dropped from his horse, choosing instead to progress on foot towards the feminine sound. The captain of the guard passed both sets of reins off to another guard, dutifully following his ruler on foot.

As the elves progressed closer to the maker of the sound, they silently pulled out their weapons; Thranduil with his sword and the captain with his long bow. Slowly, they ebbed closer to the music, now barely more than a hum. When the captain could see what they had been following, a woman holding an obscured object hidden in a cloak, he raised his bow and took aim.

Daro! Do not move or I will have him fire.” Thranduil spoke loudly and clearly, startling the unaware woman. She froze to her spot, fingers tightening around whatever she carried. “Turn around slowly.” The woman did as she was told. Her brown eyes were wide, watching the every movement of the elf before her.

Thranduil strode towards her, his blue eyes never leaving her own. “What do you carry? Answer me!” The cloak shifted, sending the hood slipping off the child’s head and showing his face to the king. “Ionneg…my little Greenleaf.” Legolas lifted his head sleepily. Upon hearing his father’s voice, he smiled and reached out for him. “Ada! Ada!


 

Ada? Eleanor shook in her place. The king of Mirkwood was Legolas’ father. She had known who he was as soon as she saw him—there were many stories told about his violent and unpredictable nature—but you never guessed that he would be related to the boy you had found.

“And what, exactly were you doing with my son? Are you a thief? Trying to kidnap the prince?” Eleanor quickly shook her head. “N-no. He merely…wandered…” Thranduil raised his brow. “I have little patience at the moment. Captain, bring her with us. We will question her in the morning.” He brushed past her, holding a sleeping Legolas

The man with the bow rushed to her side, gripping one of her arms and pushing her forward to follow the royals. How did I get myself into this mess? Eleanor lamented as she was seated atop the captain’s horse and brought into the heart of the kingdom of Mirkwood.

Chapter Text

The room that Eleanor was currently locked in was larger than her humble cabin. A grand, canopy bed sat towards one wall, the trees that were used as its posts growing up, up through the ceiling. She had just come from the adjoining bathroom, hoping to at least clean off the dirt that had stuck to her body from the ride to the kingdom of Mirkwood.

As she walked back into the guest room, towel wrapped around her body tightly, she nearly screamed at the intruder. A female elf with brown hair stood by the door, a parcel in her hand. She perked up as soon as she realized that she was not alone any longer. “Ah, forgive me my lady. I should have alerted you to my presence sooner.” Eleanor shook her head at the elf. “No, I’m sorry. It’s been…a rather eventful day.”

“I would bet so, my lady. Now, we must hurry. The king has requested your presence at once.” The elf held up the parcel to the woman. “His majesty has asked for you to wear this.” Taking the box from her hands, Eleanor thanked her before cautiously opening it.

Inside, was a beautiful long-sleeved green dress, the colour of spring grass when the first rays of morning light shone down upon it, complete with silver embroidery around the skirt’s bottom and the sleeves. It truly was a beautiful dress. She thought to herself, fingers stroking the silky material. The female elf quickly reached forward, pulling the dress from the box and preparing it for Eleanor to wear.

Within minutes, Eleanor was laced into the gown, and her hair was brushed and braided back in what seemed to be a typical elven style. Although she was grateful she was not in the dungeons, like she had thought she would be, Eleanor still could not fathom why the king would treat her like this…as if she were a guest. “Come, he is waiting for you, and he is not a patient monarch.”

The elf woman, whom she came to learn was named Túrin, led her down endless hallways and to a set of oaken doors. Carvings of vines and trees adorned the doors, adding to the already present beauty of the palace. “I will await your return here, my lady.” Túrin stated simply before knocking on the doors.

A voice behind the door stated something in elvish, which Eleanor could only assume was ‘enter’, to which the elf woman opened the door. Quickly, Túrin ushered Eleanor in, giving her a small smile of encouragement before shutting the door behind her.

Eleanor stood stiffly and silently, her eyes barely glancing at the lord lounging on her throne. “I have questions for you, hên, and you will answer them truthfully. Do I make myself clear?” Eleanor shuddered under his scrutinizing gaze as Thranduil rose from his throne and descended the wooden stairs to stand before her; no words escaped her mouth, despite her wishes to respond. “You will answer when you are spoken to.” The elf king’s hand shot out before Eleanor could retreat, gripping her chin and forcing her gaze to his own icy one.

Her body shook from fear as she struggled to speak. “Y-yes…arannin.” The elvish slipped from her slips hesitantly. She hoped that she had pronounced the words correctly; she didn’t want to offend the man who now held her life in his hands. “I am impressed. It is not often that a child of Men knows the elvish tongue.” He released her chin, confident that she would not turn away from him.

“I know little of your language…but I assumed that you would rather hear your title in your own tongue rather than mine.” The corner of the king’s lip tilted upward slightly, amused at her deduction. Never before had a woman such as her intrigued him so. While she clearly feared his wrath and power, she was not without wit, using it to maintain a semblance of control. “Now that that is out of the way, I will begin my questioning. Who are you and why are you in my forest?”

“My name is Eleanor,” she began “and I have come to build a home in your forest after my own was destroyed. I beg your forgiveness at my intrusion, but I had no other place to go.” She lowered her head slightly.

“What happened to your village” Thranduil straightened his back as he began to walk in a slow circle around the woman, his eyes roaming over her body, looking for any sign of weakness.

“It was attacked…by Orcs. They killed everyone and burned the village to the ground. I…I escaped with my older brother into the forest.” Her hands clenched into fists at her side. Unbidden, the memories of that night came rushing back to her, but she shook them from her head quickly, not wanting to dwell on them any longer than necessary.

“You were not with another when we found you, and Legolas states that he did not see anyone else in the cabin with you.” His voice was right beside her ear, whispering his disbelief to her.

“He…he died…two years ago…I have been on my own since…” Try as she might, Eleanor could not stop the tear that escaped her eye, slowly running down her cheek.

Thranduil stopped in his tracks, watching at the drop of salted water created a streak down her cheek. Something in his chest tugged, but he was not sure what it was. Ignoring the tugging sensation, he circled Eleanor until he could stand before her once more. “I am sorry about your brother, little one.” He resisted the urge to reach forward and wipe the tears from her face. Instead, he chose to remain still in front of her.

Eleanor raised her head to the king, trying to figure out if his concern was genuine or not. Clearing his throat, the king continued his questioning. “How did you come by my son?” A ghost of a smile spread across her lips at the mention of the boy she had grown fond of in so little time. In as much detail as she could, Eleanor recounted the events of last night, telling the king how she had thought to take the boy to a nearby village of Men to aid in the search for his father.

“If there was a village so close, why not just move there to live?” The king mused. “We tried. But when my brother and I arrived we were driven out. They believed that the Orcs would follow us to them and ruin their village.” Unable to hold his gaze any longer, Eleanor lowered her gaze to stare at the brown leather boots he wore.

Before Thranduil could as another question, the sound of the great doors behind Eleanor opening resounded around the throne room, along with the sound of quick footsteps rushing towards them.

Ada! Ada!” The tiny elf prince toddled quickly over to his father, waving something in his hand at the older man. “You should not be here, my little Greenleaf. Ada is busy, Ionneg.” Thranduil’s voice was calm, breaking out of his mostly stoic character. “Ada…are you going to banish her?” Legolas’s voice was small, pleading. His bright blue eyes locked onto Eleanor, who offered the prince a small smile. “It will be okay, little prince. I promise you.” Her voice was strong, even though her heart and soul were exhausted, trying to read the king that held the toddler.

Thranduil stared down at his son, holding him gently in his arms. “Do you want her to be banished, Ionneg?” Legolas quickly shook his head. “Very well then. She shall remain here, as our guest.” The elven king turned his gaze back to Eleanor. “You may continue to use the room provided to you.” Eleanor nodded and bowed before the monarchs. With a wave of his hand, Thranduil dismissed the woman.

Eleanor bowed her head once more before turning to leave. “Ah, wait!” A tiny voice shouted. Legolas struggled in his father’s arms, wanting to be released. Thranduil gently set his child on the ground, expressions of both concern and curiosity crossed his pale face as the little prince rushed towards the woman, clinging to her skirt.

The woman stopped in her tracks, turning to look at the child tugging on the skirt of her green dress. “, this is for you!” He held out what he had been carrying when he first arrived. Opening his tiny fist, Legolas held out the crumpled lily to the woman. His smile turned to a frown when he noticed the bent petals and smooshed stamen.

With a smile, Eleanor knelt down and took the flower from him. Slowly, she brought the flower to her nose, inhaling the sweet scent of the petals before she reached to place the lily in his hair. “It is a wonderful gift, my prince. Why don’t you keep it safe for me? I fear I do not have a place worthy to house it at the moment.”

Legolas nodded happily. He released Eleanor’s skirts and ran back to his father, practically skipping in joy. Taking a breath, she stood once more and left the throne room, where Túrin was awaiting her.

After the strange woman left, Thranduil continued to stare at the door as he sat on his throne. Legolas sat upon his lap, playing with a strand of the king’s platinum blond hair. Such a strange woman… he mused. His gaze shifted to his son, who sat trying to braid the strand of hair he was holding, with a great deal of trouble. Very strange indeed… The king spent to rest of the day contemplating what his son saw in the woman, seeing it fit to allow her to remain as long as she caused no trouble for his kingdom.

Chapter Text

“You won’t be able to catch me! Ai!” Legolas screamed as he saw Eleanor running after him. A wide smile was plastered to her face as she chased the toddler around the garden, her pace slower to allow the child to easily outrun her. The little prince turned around a tree, believing that he had escaped his guardian. “Come out, come out, wherever you are.” The woman’s sing-song voice called out.

Legolas turned to look behind him. But there was no one there. The toddler barely had time to spin around as he was lifted into the air. The elfling let out another scream, which soon turned to a fit of giggles as Eleanor began to tickle his belly. “Daro! Daro!” He cried, squirming to be released by the woman.

Eleanor lowered the prince to his feet, her own smile and giggles matching his own. “You cheated.” She arched her brow at him. “Did I now? How so?” Legolas pursed his lips, pouting at having lost the game. “I don’t know but you did.” The woman couldn’t help but laugh at his reasoning. “I think not, my prince. No cheating involved. You merely are horrible at tag.”

She knelt before the child and began smoothing back pieces of his hair, watching as his pout deepened. “Would you like to play something else? Or would you like to eat? It is nearly dinner time now, and I’m sure that all this playing has you tired out.” His frown erased itself, instead turning to a small smile. “Will you be able to eat dinner with me tonight?”

Eleanor shook her head. “No, little one. It will be only you and your father.” Like always, she mentally added. While she was a guest technically in this palace, she couldn’t help but feel like a prisoner. She had noted earlier that there were guards stationed all around the garden and two had always followed her whenever she left the room. No one, aside from Túrin, deemed it necessary to speak to her, making the loneliness she felt all the more apparent.

“Don’t feel sad. I can talk to Ada if you want.” Legolas put both of his tiny hands on her cheeks, bringing her back to reality. Eleanor shook her head. “It is quite alright. Come, we should get you inside and cleaned up before you meet your father.” She rose to her feet, holding out her hand for the prince, which he gratefully accepted. Eleanor turned her face up towards the sky. It looks like it will rain tonight, she stated to herself, watching the darkening clouds bring themselves closer and closer to their location. Both of them made their way back into palace as the golden sun started to set behind them. A servant stepped forward, taking the prince from Eleanor to clean him up. His face was saddened as he was escorted away from his friend and to a washroom by the dining area.

The two guards stood stoically behind their charge, watching, waiting for her to make a move. Another day, another hour she thought, making her way slowly to her chambers. Opening the door to her own room, she was pleased to find her maid and friend already there. Túrin laid the tray she had been holding down on the table by the wall. Eleanor’s mouth watered at the sight of the various fruits and cooked food on the platter.

The elf turned to her with a smile. “I thought that you would be famished, seeing as how you have been playing with the prince for many hours now.” Eleanor could only nod her thanks as she strode over to the table and picked up an apple. Biting into the juicy fruit, she let out a small groan. “I take it that this is to your liking.” Túrin chuckled. “I thought that we could continue with your Sindarin lessons after you ate.” Eleanor nodded once more.

Since she had arrived here, she had asked her friend to help her learn the language of her hosts. Every day, for the past week she had been here, her maid dutifully and patiently taught her the difficult language. Already, her pronunciation and overall vocabulary had improved, but her writing still needed some work. Scraps of paper on the table, littered with Tengwar scribbles, were testament to her hard work.

Eleanor finished the apple, setting the core on the plate reserved for her food wastes. Túrin had already begun to set up their lesson materials on her lady’s desk, also setting up an inkwell and two reeds for writing. Smiling, the woman moved to take her seat at the desk. “May I make a request for today’s lesson, Túrin? Can you teach me some terms of endearment?”

The maid gave a knowing smile. “Is this for Prince Legolas, my lady?” At Eleanor’s nod, she continued. “Well, the most common endearment is mellon or friend in your native tongue. You could also uses ionneg, but that is usually reserved for parents. Another would be henig, which means my child.” After each Sindarin word, Túrin wrote the word in Common, with the Tengwar script written underneath this.

The mortal diligently copied each word down on her own paper, using her memory for the script mostly, but having to steal occasional glances at her mentor’s own work for some letters. After about an hour of learning, Túrin excused herself from the room, having other matters to attend to around the palace. Eleanor continued to teach herself, trying to write down words she had heard around the palace. She munched on some grapes that the maid had given her from the platter, her eyes never leaving the paper in front of her. Amidst the pitter-patter of rain against the glass door to her balcony, she heard a soft knock at her door.

She lifted her eyes towards the noise. Cautiously, she stood from the desk, piling up her papers and making her way to open the door. As soon as the door was opened enough, Eleanor was almost toppled over as a clearly distraught Legolas flung himself around her legs. He pressed his face into her skirt, bunching up the fabric in his tiny fists.

“Legolas, what is wrong? Are you okay?” Quickly, Eleanor lowered herself to her knees, holding onto the child. Her eyes raced over the elfling, searching for any scratches, bruises, anything to make him so upset. His tears fell as he sniffled, his hands still clutched tightly in her skirts. “Did someone hurt you?” Legolas shook his head. “A-Ada had to g-go…” The woman smoothed his hair with one hand, using the other to wipe away his tears with her sleeve.

“Where did he go, little one?”

“H-he didn’t say a-and I don’t l-like the st-storm…” His little sobs caused Eleanor’s heart to clench.

“I am sure he will be fine, Legolas, and the storm is nothing to be afraid of. Nothing it can do can hurt you.”

The prince could only nod, his tears finally slowing. “Come on, I’ll take you back to your room.” Legolas clenched her skirt fabric more, shaking his head furiously. “Well, you can’t stay here with me, little one. It isn’t proper.” Eleanor began, but one look at his widened blue eyes had her heart melting. “Alright, alright. But only for tonight.” The elf toddler beamed brightly. Leading him into her room, Eleanor closed the door behind them just as a loud boom resounded through the room. Legolas covered his pointed ears with his hands, curling up slightly. Eleanor picked up the trembling child, pulling him close to her chest. She rubbed small circles into his back through his night clothes, trying to soothe him.

“Shh shh. It’s alright. I’ve got you, henig. You are safe with me…always.” Without realizing it, Eleanor had begun to hum a song she had heard a few times from her mother when she was a girl, and then sing the tune.

“O môr henion I dhû

Ely siriar, êl síla

Ai, Aníron Undómiel

Tiro, Êl eria e môr

I 'lîr en êl luitha 'uren

Ai, Aníron.”

The elvish tune was slow, lulling the child in her arms into a peaceful sleep. Eleanor started the song again as she made her way toward her bed. Gently, she laid the child down on the plush mattress and covered him with the blankets. Legolas stirred at the loss of Eleanor’s arms around him and whined a little until she laid down in the bed on the other side of him. The child snuggled in close to her, burying his face in her chest and twirling a strand of her dark hair.

Without realizing it, Eleanor found herself closing her eyes, holding onto the little prince gently as he slept.


 

When Thranduil arrived back in his palace after dispatching the Orcs that dared cross his borders, he immediately made his way towards his son’s chambers. But the prince was not there. His eyes narrowed at the room around him before he grabbed the nearest guard.

“Where is my son?” The king hissed. What was it with his staff and not keeping an eye on his child, their heir?

The guard bowed quickly. “Goheno nin, arannin. He went to the Lady Eleanor’s rooms. Guards are positioned outside of the room. I assure you that he is quite safe.” Thranduil let out a ‘hmpf’ before turning towards Eleanor’s chambers, intent on seeing the “safety” of his son firsthand.

The guards positioned outside of the woman’s room bowed before their king. Gently, Thranduil knocked on the door, but was met with no answer. After another knock and no other response, he slowly opened the door to the room. The candle light from the hallway illuminated a sliver in the room. As the door widened, so did the sliver until it fell on the child and woman who lay in the bed. Legolas stirred, pushing his head back into Eleanor’s chest to escape the harsh light.

Thranduil stepped into the room, closing the door behind him. Silent as the wind, the king made his way to the edge of the bed. Reaching a hand out Thranduil ran his fingers through the ends of his son’s hair, fingertips ghosting across his scalp. “Ollo vae, ionneg. Gi melin.” He bent down and placed a soft kiss atop his son’s head. Legolas smiled against Eleanor, causing Thranduil to smile as well.

His eyes roamed upwards towards the woman holding his child. What makes you special, I wonder, his thoughts shifted quickly. What does Legolas see in you? His fingers twitched, aching to stroke her soft, pale cheek. Her skin looks undoubtedly soft, Thranduil commented. The king shook his head, dislodging such thoughts. He would not succumb to such childish desires, no matter how enticing they may seem. Before he could at upon his impulses, Thranduil turned towards the door. With one last look at the sleeping duo he left the room.


 

Eleanor stirred slightly when she felt Legolas burrow himself closer to her chest. Her eyes opened halfway, but the room was too dark to really see anything. She closed her eyes again, but was alerted by the sound of the door opening again. Opening her eyes, she remained unmoving. She only caught a glimpse of a tall silhouette and a flash of silver before she succumbed to sleep once more.

Chapter Text

Eleanor awoke to the soft ‘tink’ of glasses and ‘thunk’ of plates being set out. Opening her eyes, she immediately noticed that the little elf who had resided with her the night before was no longer by her side. She sat up with a start, dark hair whipping about her head as she searched for the child. But she calmed instantly as she saw the child standing beside Túrin as she set out a variety of foods. The maid’s eyes turned towards the woman’s and a smile graced her face.

Aur vaer, hiril vuin. Did you sleep well?” Legolas turned his head upon realizing that his friend was finally awake. Quickly, he bounded over to the side of the bed and began tugging on Eleanor’s hand. “Yes. I slept very well. Thank you for asking.” Eleanor allowed herself to be pulled from the bed by the elfling and led to the table of food.

Legolas looked from Eleanor to the food and back again. “I told him that it was proper to wait for you before he could start to eat.” The woman nodded at Túrin’s words. Gently, she picked up Legolas and helped him to sit up at the table. “What would you like, little one?” As the elfling pointed out each food he desired, Eleanor placed a small portion onto his plate. Once he was settled, she made her own plate. “Would you care to join us, Túrin?” The maid shook her head. “I appreciate your concern but I am well. I must be on my way though, a celebration is arriving and I must begin the preparations.” At Eleanor’s nod, the maid vacated the room, leaving the other two to their meal.

“Are you going to Nost-na-Lothien?” The prince asked through a mouthful of food.

“Don’t speak with your mouth full, my prince. It isn’t proper. And I have no idea what that festival even is.” Eleanor reached out, napkin in hand, and wiped off a dribble of fruit juice from the child’s face. He swallowed quickly and then began explaining the festival.

“It’s for the birth of spring. It’s the “birth of flowers”. Ada said that our ancestors celebrated the festival as a way to note the passing of winter. There are flowers everywhere and everyone is smiling and laughing. Usually, the other children and I get lots of toys. Last year, Ada gave me a wooden elk that he had made for me to look like his own.” His smile could melt anyone’s heart who dared to look at him.

“It sounds like a lot of fun, my prince. I am sure that you will have a great time. Now finish eating, I am sure your father is worried sick about you.”

Eleanor excused herself for a moment and left the room to freshen up and change her clothes. Túrin had already, thankfully, changed Legolas into his day clothes and had set out everything Eleanor would need to dress. Coming back into the room, the dark-haired maiden reached out for Legolas’ hand to help him down. “Now, where would your father be at a time like this?”

The child screwed his nose up in thought. After a few moments of concentration, he proclaimed that his father would most likely be in the throne room. “Then that is where we will go first. Are you ready?” The child nodded and followed after Eleanor. The two guards outside of the door straightened before bowing low to the prince. Legolas weaved through the endless hallways, leading Eleanor and himself to the throne room.

There was a sound coming from the large oaken doors…and it did not sound pleasant. Thranduil’s harsh voice could be heard shouting at whoever was unfortunate enough to incur his wrath. Before Legolas could push open the doors, Eleanor shot her hand out and stopped him. “I don’t think now is a good time, little one. We should come back later. Okay?” The child hung his head sadly but nodded nonetheless.

“Can we go play outside then, Eleanor?”

The woman sadly shook her head. “No, it has just rained. You will get mud all over your nice tunic.” The prince looked down at his sliver and blue tunic, which looked almost like a replica of his father’s. “Well…can we play in my room?” Although Eleanor was hesitant, she didn’t really want to push the boundaries of being a ‘guest’ in the king’s home, she also did not want to leave the child alone. And when he turned his bright blue eyes to hers, she couldn’t help but say yes.

Legolas grabbed her hand with a squeal and began running towards his room, pulling the woman behind him. Eleanor had to jog to keep up with the agile elfling, but within minutes they were at the door to his room. Two guards stood at his door as well, stoic as always. They both bowed to the prince and opened their respective sides of the door. The child tugged on Eleanor’s hand until she followed him inside. The guards closed the doors behind them.

His room was much bigger than Eleanor’s, but most of the floor was littered in toys of varying craftsmanship. A small rack of wooden swords and a small bow and arrow set lined a wall on the side and his large bed took up half of the space on the other side of the wall. A green, sheer material hung from the trees which made up the posts of his bed, acting like a canopy. On the farthest wall from where they were, small windows lined the upper portion, allowing natural light to spill into the room. It was no wonder the child would be afraid of the storm, Eleanor thought, he would have been able to see nearly everything that occurred from it.

The elf prince let go of Eleanor’s hand and rushed over to his toys. His keen eyes darted over every item until he finally found the one he was looking for. Picking up the wooden toy, he ran back over to Eleanor and shoved it up towards her face. “See! See! This is the one I was telling you about!”

Eleanor smiled at the excited child, taking the wooden elk from his hands. “It is very pretty, little one. Your father has chosen well.” She passed the toy back to the child, who smiled, took it, and ran back into the center of the room to continue playing. The maiden strode towards him and took a seat on the floor beside him. She lifted up a toy soldier and made it seem as if it were walking towards him.

“Give up, little prince. Or else I will have to fight you!” She lowered her voice, trying to imitate a tough soldier. “Not so fast, fiend!” Legolas grabbed up his own soldier, moving it in front of the other. “A prince never gives up! Now we duel!” He moved the soldier’s arm up like it had a sword and slashed at Eleanor’s soldier. Eleanor let out a deep shout. “Ah! I have been bested! Amarth faeg! Bleeeeehhhhh.” Eleanor made her best dying soldier noise and dropped the toy to the floor. Legolas giggled at her horrible acting, passing more and more toys over to the woman so she could continue to play with him.

It went on like this for hours. The two of them would play with the soldiers, reenacting fantasy battles and making up their own stories to go along with it all. About an hour ago, a servant had bought in lunch, allowing them to eat in the Prince’s room rather than have him eat in the dining hall. As the sun began to set, bathing the prince’s chambers in golden light, there was a knock on the door. Eleanor stood, holding her hand up to Legolas, motioning for him to continue paying. But before she could answer the door, it was opened by the guards.

Thranduil stood in the doorway, watching Eleanor as she quickly lowered her head to avoid his gaze. Legolas beamed at his father, rushing over to him in a blur of silver and blue. “Ada! Ada! Look what we did!” The elfling tugged on his father’s robes until he stood by the pile of toy soldiers. Legolas began to speak quickly, darting between Sindarin and Common, telling his father all about the adventures ‘his soldiers’ had. Eleanor had trouble keeping up with the tale, but from the look of the king’s face, he was calm, thankfully.

Eleanor shuddered as the Elvenking’s gaze shifted to her. “I am glad you have been having fun, ionneg. But I must take Lady Eleanor with me for a moment. We have some…adult…business to discuss.” Her eyes widened as her name left the tall king’s lips. I’ve overstepped my bounds, he’s going to kick me out, or worse, kill me. These thoughts and more raced through her head.

“Will you be back later?” The child asked his father, who nodded at his son before turning back to the human woman. “Come. Follow me.” He left the room, Eleanor stepping in line behind him. She glanced back at Legolas, who gave her a smile of encouragement, before the doors were closed by the guards.

Thranduil led his ward from his son’s chambers all the way to his study. Eleanor kept her eyes downcast as she followed her host silently. The elven king opened the doors to the room silently, stepping to the side to allow Eleanor to enter the room first, closing the door behind her. “I see that you are spending quite a lot of time with my son.” He stated simply behind her. “Does this displease you, arannin?” Thranduil let out a huff, moving around her lithe frame and towards his desk. He grabbed a pitcher and two glasses, and began pouring the red wine into each of them.

“No. It is good to see him happy. He talks about you all the time.” Eleanor couldn’t help the smile from forming on her face at this statement. The king passed one of the glasses of wine to her, taking a graceful sip from his own. “In fact, I have a request of you.” Eleanor lifted her eyes to meet Thranduil’s pale blue ones. In the dying light of the sun, his eyes almost seemed grey to her.

“Yes, arannin. What is it you need of me?”

“Legolas wants you near him always. He sees you as a great friend and mentor. I want you to be his caretaker from now one. Seeing as how you are always together anyway.” He took another sip from his wine glass.

Eleanor blinked at the king, processing his words carefully. “I accept your proposal, arannin.” She bowed her head low. “I also have another proposition for you. Has Legolas told you about Nost-na-Lothien?” The maiden nodded. “Good. I wish for you to accompany me to the festival.” Eleanor stared at the king, trying to find the lie in his words. His eyes returned her stare, unnerving her into breaking the gaze first. She set the untouched cup of wine down on a nearby table, choosing to fold her shaking hands in front of her. “The festival is in two days, and I am sure that my son will be more than pleased to have you there with him. The guards I usually assign to watch him only seem to make him nervous.”

“Yes, arannin. I would be honoured to accompany you and keep an eye on the prince.”

Thranduil only nodded, finishing his cup of wine and pouring himself another. “That will be all. I will have a servant come by your room tomorrow morning to have you fitted for your gowns.” He waved his hand in dismissal. Eleanor bowed low before leaving the room, placing a hand on her racing heart to calm it. She returned to her room to turn in for the night.


 

Thranduil felt his heart race as he had stood before the human, but he kept his composure, releasing a deep breath when she had vacated his study. The sight of her playing with his son, and the sight of her cuddling with him the night before, had invoked emotions inside of him that he thought had been dead for a long time. Already, the woman was worming her way into his heart, starting by wooing his own son to her side.

Legolas loved the woman, seeing her as more than the guest that she was. He saw her as more than a friend, as more than a guardian…he saw her as a mother. It was no lie that Eleanor had taken on the maternal role as soon as she had met the small elf child, but it still unnerved Thranduil to no end knowing that his son had chosen this child of Men to latch himself to.

The king drained his full cup of wine in one gulp, trying to erase the visions he had of the woman. Her long brown hair, gently braided into an elven style. The way her dress had hugged her body, showing off every curve. Today, her dress had been a light purple colour, contrasting to her dark hair, dark eyes, and pale skin. For a Man, she was beautiful, even by elven standards.

With a grunt of frustration, he threw his empty cup towards the wall, growling at himself for trying to make Legolas happy. If he had had his way, the woman would have been long gone by now, sent with an escort to a village of Men. But his son had grown to care for the woman; he wanted her close to him always, and the king could not say no to his son, his weakness.

I must stop these feelings. She is not my wife, she looks nothing like her. He felt the ache in his heart at the thought of Legolas’ mother. He never told Legolas about her, himself not ready to come to terms with her passing. I can’t get attached to her. Everyone who has my love is cursed. It was why he kept Legolas guarded at all times. He couldn’t bear to lose another person close to him.

“I must be crazy…” He said breathlessly, running his long fingers through his pale hair. Without another thought of his ‘guest’, Thranduil composed himself and made his way to his son’s room to tell him the news.

Chapter Text

The next two days flew by in a blur. Servants and maids had taken Eleanor’s measurements for her festival dress, but neglected to tell her what it looked like, claiming that the king wished for it to be a secret. Túrin wouldn’t tell her anything either, leaving the poor girl to wonder just what she had gotten herself into when she accepted Thranduil’s request.

Eleanor’s days were filled with her Sindarin lessons with her maid and confidant as well as by Legolas until finally the night of the festival arose. “My lady, the servants are here to help you get prepared for the night. Come, your highness, you need to get ready as well.” Túrin sated warmly. Legolas leapt up from his spot on Eleanor’s bed and practically skipped out of the room. Lately, he had been spending more and more of his time in her room than his own, usually wishing to tell her stories about what he had done that day or what he wanted to do when he got older. Today, he had been going on and on nearly all day about how excited he was about the festival, and the large party that accompanied it that night, his excitement seeping into his guardian.

Three female servants made their way into the room, chiding Eleanor gently towards the washroom. One elf maiden followed her and began to run her a bath. “Please, wash and then return to us. Don’t bother to redress. We will be putting you in your dress after you are finished.” With that, the elf left Eleanor to her own devices. Eleanor scrubbed her body with the fragrant soap the other female had let out for her. When she was finished, she drained the tub and stood up. Wrapping a towel around her body, she made her way back into her room.

One of the elves asked Eleanor to stand before the mirror and close her eyes. The woman did as she was asked, closing her eyes and remaining still before the elves. “Drop your towel please.” Had there been anyone else in the room but these women, she may have been apprehensive. In truth, she still was but found it to be better to obey. Dropping her towel to her feet, Eleanor pushed down the urge to cover her nude form. She could hear rustling to her side as well as a ‘thump’ before her. The women spoke rapidly in elvish, something about needing someone else to hold the other side of the dress and the third elf to set out the supplies for her hair.  

She could feel a smooth material drape down across her body. The strapless dress was held up by one pair of hands while a second pair began to lace up the corset-like backing. “No peeking, my lady.” Eleanor giggled, but it soon turned into a gasp as the elf behind her tightened a cord, pushing the air from her lungs for a moment. Once properly laced into her dress, Eleanor was escorted across the room, towards her vanity if memory served her right.

Eleanor sat upon the small bench, eyes still closed, as the third pair of hands began to comb through her hair. “May I open my eyes?” she asked, curiosity getting the best of her. “Not yet, my lady. But we will need you to remain still. We will be putting some make-up on you, not much, just some.” Eleanor shook her head slightly, earning her a soft tap on her temple from the elf trying to braid her hair behind her. “No make-up.” She stated firmly. “May I apply just a little colour to your lips, my lady?” The elf’s soft tone had Eleanor crumbling. “Okay. But only the lips.” She could practically hear the elf’s joy as she began to rummage through their supplies for the perfect shade of lip rouge.

One hand gently laid itself on her cheek. “I’m putting the rouge on your lips now.” Not a second later she felt a wet substance being brushed onto her bottom lip, the top lip following shortly after. The elf applied a second coat of colour once the first was dry. Not long after this, Eleanor could feel that her hairstyle was completed, something having been put in specific places all around her brown tresses. “Alright, one last thing. Please stand.” An elf asked politely, helping the woman to her feet.

She was led back over to where she had put the dress on. “Raise one of your feet.” The voice came from by her knees. Eleanor obeyed, lifting one foot and then the other so the elf could help her put her shoes on. “Okay…open.” When she did, she could hardly believe the sight that stood before her in the mirror.

Her long brown hair was loosely braided down her back. She turned her head to the side, marveling at the sight of the beautiful blue and red flowers placed throughout. Looking lower on her reflection, she couldn’t help but gasp at the dress. It was a light blue colour, matching the blue of the flowers in her hair, and the bodice was practically covered in the same blossoms. Looking closely, she noticed little silver beads hidden within the flowers, but she had no doubt that they would glimmer once the light struck them. Eleanor lifted up her dress slightly and stared at her shoes. They were the same light blue colour and were adorned with the silver beads, creating an intricate vine pattern that spanned the entire slipper. While she had requested no other make-up, she had to admit that the deep red stain placed on her lips made her look drop dead gorgeous.

“Alright, enough gawking. His Majesty is waiting for you.” Eleanor let out a shuddering breath, forgetting for a moment that all of this was for him. What would he think? Would he find her beautiful? A soft blush heated her cheeks at such thoughts. If the other elves saw it, they did not comment as they led her from her chambers and towards the ballroom, where the festival would be held.

Eleanor remained silent, adding the paths to the ballroom to her mental map of the palace. Jeez, this place is a real maze. If I’m not careful, I could get lost in here. What was she saying? She had gotten lost her second day of being here. She couldn’t help but smile at the memory. It had taken her over three hours to get back to her room, by which time Túrin was more than worried about her. It had taken her much time and assurances to be allowed to roam anywhere without her maid after that incident.

As the group reached the doors of the ballroom, Eleanor could hear the sounds of revelry through the wood. Her escort leaned towards a guard, who began to whisper in her ear something that Eleanor herself could not make out. “I see…thank you, mellon.” The elf turned to her charge. “It seems that His Majesty is running a little late. But has asked that you go on without him.” Eleanor could feel her heart plummet a little in her chest, her smile falling a little as well, but she nodded her head slightly in understanding. As her escort moved away from her, the guards opened up the doors for Eleanor, closing them once she was safely inside.

The ballroom was filled with all manner of elves. Brown, blond, and even a few elves with red hair flitted about, speaking with each other in elvish. But as soon as she entered the room, all eyes turned on her, although the jovial music never ceased. Eleanor bit her lip slightly, unnerved by the sudden attention, but most elves dismissed her presence with slight disgust before returning to their own conversations. Plastering on a fake smile and clasping her trembling hands in front of her, Eleanor made her way towards the outside of the room.

She had always hated crowds and parties; too much noise and people for her liking. It didn’t help that she was the only human here, a fact that did not go unnoticed by anyone who crossed her path. The nearest elves dispersed from her, leaving Eleanor by herself in a corner. Maybe this was a mistake… She took quick breaths, refusing to cry at what should have been a joyous occurrence. Eleanor was pulled from her thoughts at the feel of hands tugging at her dress.

Looking down, she smiled sweetly at Legolas. “Hello, little one. Are you enjoying the festival?” She knelt to be at eye level with the toddler. He nodded multiple times, then begun to ramble on and on about how much fun he was having. “Ada came by this morning and gave me my own crown! See!” he pointed up at the silver vine circlet upon his head. “I see, little one. It looks very regal.” Eleanor’s smile turned genuine as the child continued to tell her about his day. “And I’ve had so much fun playing with my friends. They don’t usually come over, but this time they came with their parents for the festival! That’s them over there!” His smile widened as he pointed out two other children, most likely twins, on the far end of the room. Upon being pointed at, those two children ran over to him.

“These are my friends, Alagos and Amlug.” He pointed at each of the children as he said their names. Eleanor bowed her head to the prince’s friends.

“It is a pleasure to meet you.”

“Why are you speaking with this adan? Don’t you know that they are the filth of this world?” Alagos sneered.

Eleanor couldn’t believe what she had just heard. Her eyes widened as she looked up at the child, who looked no more than ten in the ages of Men. “Your kind have caused us elves nothing but trouble. Perhaps you should go back to where you came from. There are enough îrmelethril here as it is.” It was Amlug who spoke this time. The twins crossed their arms in front of their chests. Although she could not understand the elvish word they used, she was sure that it was an insult based on the way Legolas’ face began to turn red in rage. “You shouldn’t speak about Eleanor like that! She isn’t like the others!” Legolas’ small voice cried out. Eleanor placed her hand gently on his shoulder as she stood.

“It’s okay Legolas. Go on and play, okay?” She begged her voice to remain strong. Forcing a smile, she patted his back, gently pushing him towards the older children. Legolas was not happy about leaving, wanting his ‘friends’ to give his mentor an apology. But the twins refused and left on their own, Legolas running after them still demanding an apology. Eleanor could feel her chest tighten. Her hand reached up and stroked the smooth, rounded skin of her ear, her other hand running across her bare shoulder.

This was a mistake. I shouldn’t be here. She turned to leave, but an arm around her waist kept her in place. Looking up, she was surprised to see the Elvenking beside her. “Are you not enjoying the festivities?” His voice was kind, directed at her even if his eyes roamed the room. She noticed quickly that the colours of their attire was opposites, with his silver suit holding accents of light blue. “No, arannin. It is a pleasant party. Everyone seems to be having a wonderful time.” The blond monarch turned to her then, gently removing his arm from her waist. With that same hand, he reached out and grabbed her own to place a kiss atop her knuckles. His pale eyes raised to meet hers. The king moved towards her ear.

Le bainon, muin nín.” He whispered to her. At their proximity, Eleanor’s blush returned, only intensifying at the king’s compliment. “Le hannon…” the king’s eyes lit up at her Sindarin. “I am impressed. Your Sindarin is coming along quite well.” Eleanor nodded, stating that Túrin was an excellent and patient teacher. The king nodded his approval. “Would you do me the honour of having your first dance?” Eleanor finally noticed that the music had begun to change. She nodded, allowing Thranduil to lead her to the center of the ballroom.

The ensemble began the next song. “I’m afraid I don’t know this one.” Eleanor confessed. “That is why I will lead.” Thranduil smirked, and began to step in time to the music, pulling his partner along. As the song progressed, Eleanor was twirled around and swayed to the music. While they were the only couple to dance at first, others soon joined in. The elf male pulled the woman closer to his chest as the song finally ended, a soft gleam in his eyes. But Eleanor did not see this, instead she was looking over his shoulder at the disgusted looks the other elves were giving her, making her blood run cold.

“Are you alright?” While his voice denoted concern, the look on the king’s face remained impassive.

“I…Forgive me, my king…I’m afraid I’m not feeling well suddenly.”

Thranduil released his partner, knitting his brows together. “Please, excuse me.” The woman raised a hand to her mouth and walked briskly towards the exit. Thranduil made to go after her, but felt a pair of tiny hands wrap themselves around his own larger one. He stopped moving, choosing to instead lift his son into his arms. “My little Greenleaf, what is the matter?” He noted the child’s puffy red eyes.

Legolas nearly cried again as he told his father all about how Amlug and Alagos had insulted Eleanor earlier. Apparently, they were not done insulting the poor woman, choosing to say rude comments about her once they were out of her earshot. “Ada, why do they not like her? Not all Men are as they say, right?”

“You are right, ionneg. But Men are still the cause of much of our troubles. Your friends are not wrong. Now, go on to your room. I think this has been enough excitement for one night.” He set his son on his feet.

“Will you go after her, ada?” Thranduil took a deep breath before nodding. Legolas took this as an answer and exited the festival room, his father following a few paces behind him.

The Elvenking turned to one of his guards. “Did you see which way the child of Men went?” The guard thought for a moment, then pointed down a corridor, the one that led to the garden. Thranduil followed the guard’s instructions until he reached the opening to the garden. His feet were frozen to the ground as he heard a soft humming coming from their flower grove. Following the voice, Thranduil remained silent. As he reached the opening to the grove, the humming stopped.

“Who’s there?” He could hear Eleanor call out, her voice shaking lightly. The Elvenking stepped out from the shadows, holding up his hands to show that he meant her no harm. “Oh, it’s you. I thought you would have stayed at the festival.” She turned her head away from him, choosing to have her eyes roam over the flowers instead. The elf said nothing as he walked to stand beside her. The woman’s fingers ghosted gently over the petals of a blue flower, ironically he same one she had in her hair. “Brunnera…I always tried to plant them but they never grew.”

Thranduil watched as she smiled sadly at the plant. “Eamon…my brother…loved them so much. Whenever he found some growing in the wild, he would always bring back a bouquet for me. One time, he got chased by a swarm of bees because he didn’t notice that they were pollinating those flowers.” A smile spread across her face as she remembered her kin, but it quickly disappeared.

“Why did you run away from me?” When the king finally spoke, his voice came out harsher than he had expected. Eleanor turned to look at him, it was then that he noticed the wetness in her eyes. “My king,”

Peditham hi sui vellyn?” The king asked quickly, cutting her off. Eleanor nodded.

“Forgive me…Thranduil…” His name lilted off her tongue, sending a shiver down his spine. The way she said it was so beautiful, and a part of his wished that she would say it again under different circumstances. This part of him was quickly suppressed.

Eleanor cleared her throat, beginning again. “Thranduil…what does îrmelethril mean?” Thranduil’s eyes shot up quickly, glaring at her. “Who said this?” The woman remained silent, looking off to the side as she wrapped her arms around her upper torso. “It…it is a word that means female lover…ones that are used strictly for pleasure.”

A whore…that is what they had called her. Eleanor hung her head as she nodded. “I see.” Thranduil placed his fingers under her chin, pulling her face up to his. His other hand snaked up to her neck, rubbing soothingly against the pale skin there. “Who dared to call you this?” She sighed, a single tear falling from her eye down her cheek. “Does it matter?”

“Of course it matters. You are my guest, a friend, my…” love…he finished in his head, the word refusing to come out of his mouth. You are my love…he repeated in his mind. But his silence had given Eleanor the wrong opinion. “I see.” She quickly took a step back from him, shaking off his hands. “No, it’s not...” He couldn’t get the words out. A thick strand of hair fell from her braid to hang in her face. Another tear rolled down her eyes. “I’m such a fool.” She whispered before grabbing the skirt of her dress and running back into the palace.

Thranduil called out her name, but she did not halt, leaving the king along in the flower grove. What have I done? What have I done? With fists clenched at his sides, he ran after her.

Chapter Text

Thranduil raced after the fleeing woman. Their coinciding steps echoing all around the hall. The woman turned a random corner, hoping to lose her pursuer. As the Elvenking sped up to reach her, he was bombarded by the elves who were leaving the ballroom. They all bowed quickly before beginning to question their host.

“My king, we missed you at the festival.”

“Who was that woman you danced with? A new consort?”

“Perhaps you should find an elven maiden at the next festival, my king. They are far fairer than a mere Man.”

Their words spun in Thranduil’s head. Their every insult against Eleanor sending his blood boiling. Still, they did not stop questioning him, asserting their opinions. “Leave.” His voice was low, hash, assertive. The other elves stopped talking quickly, staring up at their king and blinking in curiosity. “Did I not make myself clear? I want you out of my kingdom. You have insulted a guest of mine, as well as my son and myself. None of you are welcome here any longer. Leave of your own accord, or I will have my guard escort you to the dungeons to await sentencing.”

The elves rushed away from the livid king, keeping their own thoughts about how he ruled wisely to themselves. Once the path was clear, the king rushed forward again, trying to make up for the time he had lost attending to such idiocy. As he turned the corner, he saw little blue and red flowers all across the ground in a haphazard line, the same flowers from the woman’s hair. Like a breadcrumb trail…even if it were accidental.

Thranduil followed the petals, noting how they winded down corridors and hallways until they finally just stopped right in front of her door. The vast majority of the blossoms were pooled in front of the oaken doors, as if she had shaken the last of them from her hair before stepping through. He raised his hand and knocked on the door with more force than he realized.

No response came, so the Elvenking repeated the action, calling Eleanor’s name all the while. But it was Túrin who answered, not the one he wished. The maid opened the door slightly, only allowing the king to see a sliver of her face.

Goheno nin, arannin, but my lady is indisposed at the moment.” Her face was like stone as she watched her lord. Thranduil’s eyes darted around what little bit of the room he could see. She wasn’t in the main room, but the candle light coming from the washroom told him she was most likely there. “Túrin, I must see her.” The maid shook her head quickly, glancing back at the washroom. So she was there…

His heart wretched as he heard the sounds of dry heaving mixed with soft whimpers. “It would be wiser to come back tomorrow. I’m afraid the lady will not be much company at the moment.” Eleanor’s shaky voice lilted through the crack of the washroom door, begging for her friend to be by her side. “Please, excuse me, my king” She bowed and closed the door, leaving Thranduil silent at the door.

Eleanor, please forgive me. He stroked a finger across the door, its pad curving over the vine design that adorned it. She would not see him, and he couldn’t blame her. Why must it be like this? He clenched the hand upon the door into a fist. Why must I be like this? Shaking his head, he made his way to his own chambers.

Ever since his wife, Legolas’ mother passed, at the hands of those wretched Orcs, he had not allowed himself to get close to anyone. Why is this one different from all the others that tried? He reached his chamber doors, which his dutiful guards opened to allow him to enter. One inside, and with the doors sealed once more, the Elvenking allowed his shoulders to slump. Why was this Eleanor different from all of the elf maidens who vied for his attention?

It’s because she isn’t an elf, she is of the race of Men.

It’s because Legolas actually loves this one, treats her as a confidant and trusted advisor.

It’s because Legolas actually sees this one as a mother.

All of these truthful statements sent Thranduil’s mind pulsing harshly. Rubbing his temples, he tried to alieve the stress of the growing headache. “Stop being so stubborn.” He whispered harshly to himself as he changed from his festival robes and into his sleep pants. He glanced at his reflection in the mirror.

A few scars crisscrossed his otherwise flawless skin. All were easy to hide from the everyday person, but not from any sort of lover. His long, pale fingers touched one of the deepest scars against his side, earned trying to save his wife from the clutches of Orcs. Now it only served as a reminder of his failure. An arrow loosed from an Orc bow had lodged itself into his side as he had tried to get his injured wife to safety, slowing his movements. While he had gotten them both out of there more or less in one piece, regrettably his wife did not survive long after, her wounds being beyond even elvish medicine.

His fingers trembled at the memory. Pushing down the frightful remembrance, he removed his fingers and turned from his reflection, making his way to his bed instead. Get her out of your mind, Thranduil. You need to remain focused. You have a kingdom to rule and a child to care for. With a deep breath, the Elvenking flushed those thoughts from his mind, intent on having a restful night. Tomorrow, he would meet with the woman.


 

The following day, Eleanor woke with a pulsing headache. Her dark eyes were puffy from all the crying she did the night before. Turning to her side, she was pleased to see Túrin fast asleep in a chair by the bed, her torso and head lay on the side of the bed underneath her folded arms. The previous night she had begged her maid to stay with her, and, after much goading, she had obliged, to her relief. It made Eleanor feel safer having someone friendly stay with her for the night. After all that had gone on at the festival and subsequently with the king, she did not want to be alone. It was by Túrin’s hand that she was still in the palace. Had it been her decision, she would have set out that night for a new home. But the elf had managed to make Eleanor feel like she was still welcome here even as a Man.

I’ll let her sleep a bit more…She thought as she crept her way out of the bed, careful not to wake her friend. There was a soft knock on her door. Eleanor turned her head quickly, finding that her maid had only shifted her position, still fast asleep. She grabbed a robe and covered her night dress before answering the door.

Legolas stood awkwardly, holding out a fresh bouquet of blue Brunnera blossoms. How did… The only one who knows is… Ada annatar.” A gift? Eleanor turned to look at her slumbering maid before stepping out of the room, closing the door behind her. She knelt down and took the flowers from the elfling.

“These were a gift from your father?”

The child nodded.

“For me?”

He nodded once more. “Ada said for me to give them to you because you would like them better if they were from me but he said that you said that they were ones you liked because of your brother. He said that you wouldn’t want to see him but that you would take the flowers if they were from me. Are you fighting with ada or something?” His speech turned to rambles, causing Eleanor to crack a smile. She gently shook her head.  

“No. It’s just…adult stuff. Will you wait here for a moment? I’m going to need your help. Okay?” At the prince’s nod of understanding, Eleanor went back into her room to silently change. Before leaving, she left a note to Túrin, telling her that she would be with Legolas for the day and to not worry about her. “Okay. Legolas, can you take me to your father?”

Legolas nodded quickly, grabbing the woman’s open hand (she still held the flowers in her one hand) and began tugging her in the correct direction. Through every hallways as they got closer to their target, Eleanor’s heart pounded; their discussion from the night before playing on repeat in her mind. Finally they stopped in front of the king’s study. “He is inside there.”

Eleanor nodded. She released the prince’s hand and knocked on the door hesitantly. Legolas clung to her skirts as his father’s voice called out, bidding them to enter. Both of them quickly walked inside, the guards closing the doors behind them. Eleanor rested her hand against Legolas’ back, rubbing soothing circles into his skin through his tunic.

As they walked further into the room, Thranduil’s eyes lifted. First he noticed the bouquet, then his son, then the recipient of the gift. Legolas looked up at Eleanor and, at her nod, ran over to his father to hug him. “I did as you said and gave her the flowers.”

“I see that, my little Greenleaf, but it was meant to be from you and not me.” His pale eyes met with Eleanor’s dark ones, sincerity coming from the icy orbs. “Regardless of who sent them, I still love them very much.” The woman curtsied, bowing her head low. The king watched her every move, trying to calm his racing heart and keep his face impassive, like a ruler should.

“Legolas, go to the gardener and tell them to plant more of those bushes. I want one bush in every colour for the lady.” His son smiled wide and nodded, hopping off his lap to do his new task, leaving the elf and woman alone. Eleanor shook her head, the shock of what he had just requested falling on her. “You don’t have to do that, arannin.”

Thranduil raised his hand as he stood. “You are correct, I do not. But I would like to.” His smooth voice got closer and closer. “My lady, let this be an apology for the actions of both myself and my guests during last night.”

“There is nothing to apologize for.” Her words came out rushed and breathy.

“On the contrary, there is. You are a guest of my kingdom as well as someone important to my kin. You should have been respected from the start, and I apologize for the pain it has caused you. Please accept my most sincere apology in regards to the situation.”

Eleanor took a shuddering breath. She couldn’t believe this. The great Elvenking himself was apologizing to a mere mortal like herself. Never before had she heard of the Elvenking apologizing to…well, anyone. “I accept your apology, arannin.” Thranduil reached out, running his fingers over the hand that held the flowers. “Did I not request for us to speak as friends? You are an honoured guest, more than that to my son. You have the right to call us both by our names, not our titles.”

She nodded, looking down slightly. “I apologize, ar-Thranduil.” The king let out a soft chuckle. “It is a start I suppose.” The fingers that were stroking her hand raised upwards to ghost against her cheek. His eyes stared at her face, begging for her to look at him, if only for a moment. The woman lifted her head, as if hearing his plea. Her dark orbs gazed from his perfect jawline, up sharp cheekbones, and to smoldering eyes that hid an array of emotions, ones that never seemed to cross the pale immortal’s features.

“Eleanor,” her name lilted from his lips like cool velvet. “I have another request of you.”

“What is it, Thranduil?”

Thranduil didn’t speak for a moment, instead choosing to let is fingers linger against her warm cheek. Her skin…it is like the softest down, he thought breathlessly. Words truly could not compare to what he wished to tell her in that moment. Never had he seen such beauty…a beauty the complete opposite of his late wife’s. A blush crept across her cheeks at the intensity in which he continued to stare at her. Eleanor reiterated her question, knocking Thranduil out of his stupor.

“I would like-” his next words were drowned out by the incessant pounding of fists upon the study door. The Elvenking let the woman go, took a step back to compose himself (allowing Eleanor to do the same), and called for the impatient force to enter. Eleanor took deep breaths, trying in vain to hide the rosy blush against her cheeks.

The doors opened as if a gust of strong wind had blown down from the north. In strode what looked to be an elf, and he was clearly in a foul mood but trying to quell his anger. One look in her direction had a sneer crossing the newcomer’s features. Eleanor couldn’t suppress her shiver under his scrutinizing gaze. “My king, I must speak with you. It is urgent.” His next words were in hushed elvish, but had a seething tone. Eleanor was not able to catch any words that she may know, nor was she able to follow the entirety of the statements.

Thranduil nodded to the male elf “Yes, I see, Lord Arphenion. Eleanor, go to Legolas, he will no doubt be missing you by now.” Although she wanted to stay, curious over why she was being sent off, she obeyed, leaving the room with a curtsy to find the little prince. As soon as the doors shut behind her, Eleanor could hear the newcomer shouting. That must be those twins’ father. The thought made her shudder. It seemed that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree when it came to either of them. Don’t think such things, she scolded herself internally. Taking her own advice, Eleanor went off in search of the prince. She needed something to keep her mind off what was going on behind her.


 

“That woman has no right being here and you know that. She should be with others like her, not here corrupting your kingdom. You know what my sons have said to be true, if she is not here to warm your bed, what is she here for?” Arphenion’s tone was full of obvious malice, his temper having not dwindled since he had been told by his children of the child of Men residing in the palace.

“Careful, mellon. You overstep your bounds.” Thranduil held up a single finger as he poured two cups of wine, one for himself and the other for his guest. He held the goblet out to the elf dignitary, who accepted it with a slight bow and words of thanks. The Elvenking took a drink before continuing his words.

“Eleanor is a guest of my kingdom and as such she will be respected by all who reside here. Do you understand me?”

Arphenion nodded, his lips sloping downwards into a tight frown. “But, my king, are you not worried about what this will mean for your kingdom? If anyone were to find out that she was here, there would be trouble. You know as well as I do that humans are not tolerated in elven settlements for long. The Orcs on your boarders are always looking for a way to strike you and yours. It would be a shame for something to happen to the Lady Eleanor.” He stated simply before taking a slow sip of his wine.

Thranduil rounded on the elf quickly, both dropping their goblets of wine in the process, and gripped him by the collar of his tunic. He pulled the restrained male close to his face. “Any attempt on her life is an act against me and my kingdom. She is under my protection and I will not allow anyone to get away with harming her. You would do well to remember that.” Thranduil pushed Arphenion away from him as if he were just burned. “Do you have anything else to state? Speak fast, my patience is wearing thin.”

“Nothing else, arannin.” The lord bowed and was dismissed by a wave of Thranduil’s hand. The other elf left, leaving Thranduil alone in his study, surrounded by a small puddle of spilt wine. Had he truly tried to threaten Eleanor in his presence? Either the elf lord was stupidly brave or just had a death wish, Thranduil thought. The idea that Arphenion would even try to harm her was enough to make his blood boil in rage. I am king, I old the power. He wouldn’t dare touch her…but I am sure he would find ways to…

The blond elf pressed a hand to his head, hoping to quell the growing headache there. What am I doing? He shook his head before ordering servants in to clean up the mess he had accidentally created during his argument with the other lord.

Thranduil paced the study as the servants cleaned, trying to clear his head. But it seemed like nothing was working. “Where is the prince and the human woman?” He spoke aloud, not necessarily aimed at either of the two servants in the room.

One piped up, stating that they were most likely in the garden still. Thranduil nodded, stepping around the workers and making his way in that direction. There was much he needed to talk to Eleanor about…much he needed to warn her about.

Chapter Text

The Elvenking halted his steps as he reached the edge of the garden. From his position, he could clearly see his son and guest sitting underneath an oak tree. Legolas was sitting upon her lap, his tiny body curled up with his head laying against her chest. The arms around him were gently rocking him in time to a faint humming he could only just hear, even with his elven hearing.

He took a step forward and the woman’s head whipped towards him, but her humming did not cease. One of her slender fingers raised up to her lips, signaling for Thranduil to remain silent. Her arm returned around the small child in her lap, who remained blissfully asleep.

Thranduil crept forward until he was underneath the same tree and took a seat upon the grass beside Eleanor. “It would seem my son has grown quite attached to you. I have never seen anyone hold him like he lets you.” He spoke softly, one hand reaching forth to smooth back his son’s hair with a feather-light touch.

The little prince smiled in his sleep slightly at his father’s touch. It was as if he knew exactly who was near him in his unconscious state. Thranduil watched silently as Eleanor pulled her cloak from herself to cover Legolas from the soft breeze, tucking the red material under and around his little body. Such a contrast to the child in her arms she was, but nonetheless as motherly as any he had seen. Strands of her long dark hair that had come undone from her loose braid blew in the wind, gently whipping against her pale skin.

She was radiant, the Elvenking thought, without even trying to be. The beating of his heart was going so fast he was wasn’t sure how the woman did not hear it. It was only when he saw her shiver slightly that he was ripped from his thoughts. Without saying a word, Thranduil pulled the side of his cloak open, a silent offer to the child of Men.

“I’m fine. I have dealt with worse. But thank you for the offer.”

“I insist. It would not do well for you to get sick from something that could have been easily avoided.”

Eleanor looked up at his face, searching his eyes for any hint of mischief or falsity. When she found none, she sighed and scooted closer to the Elvenking, careful to not wake Legolas. Thranduil wrapped the long cloak around both of their bodies. “Le hannon, Thranduil.” The king only nodded in response, his eyes watching the faint moving of his son’s lips as he dreamed vividly.

They sat like that, in silence watching the toddler sleeping in her arms, for a few more minutes until Eleanor finally broke the silence. “What had you wanted to ask of me in your study?” Thranduil turned his head to her. “I mean, before Lord Arphenion had arrived. You said you had a request of me.”

“Ah, it is true that I did. But I think that is a matter better left for a more private setting.” He whispered his words against her ear, sending a harsh blush crossing her cheeks. “May I ask you to meet me tonight? I assure you my intentions are pure.” His lips brushed her rounded ear, sending shivers down her spine. Eleanor contemplated his request thoughtfully, before choosing to accept. Her own heart raced at the small smile that broke his usually impassive face. “Then it is done. I will have a place set for you at our table tonight and we can meet back in the study to discuss matters.”

The light of the setting sun filtered through the branches of the oak tree in glorious rays of gold. “It is getting late. It is time to wake up, ionneg.” At first he spoke to Eleanor, but his second sentence was directed at the toddler she held. His fingers reached out to again smooth the prince’s hair. “Echuia, my little Greenleaf.” He leaned forward to press a kiss against the prince’s head.

Legolas’ eyes fluttered open and he yawned, trying to close his eyes again and snuggle closer to the warm body holding him. “No, no, no. You must wake up, little one.” Eleanor’s voice sounded gently as she smoothed back pieces of his hair. The stubborn prince shook his head and groaned. “Oh, but you must. Your father will want to see you.” She shook him slightly, hoping that the prospect of seeing his father would jolt him awake. “Û! Just five more minutes, nana.” The toddler pouted before falling back to sleep.

Thranduil stiffened as the last word tumbled from his son’s mouth. When he gazed at Eleanor, he could see that all the colour had drained from her face. “Thranduil, I swear he has never called me that before. I…” She looked to be on the verge of tears, not doubt worried about how he would react to her being called ‘mommy’ by the elfling. Thranduil raised a hand to her face, a single finger pressing against her lips to silence her. The woman stood still as stone, watching the king’s eyes for any sign of his displeasure.

Iston, hiril vuin. I am aware that he has not called you such. And while I am experiencing mixed feelings towards the sentiment, I cannot say that they are all not full of compassion.” His hands moved to cup her face, his pale thumbs gently wiping the tears that had escaped her from her cheeks. “It brings warmth to my heart to know that my son has found someone he looks up to as a maternal figure, Valar knows that he deserves one. But I cannot help but feel remorse that he never got to meet his birth mother…”

Eleanor noticed how his breath hitched when he talked about his deceased wife; how his eyes seemed to shine from collected tears that refused to form and fall. “Thranduil…I…” Her words were swallowed by the feel of his lips against hers.

The Elvenking kissed her plush, rosy lips as if she was the only thing keeping him alive; as if she was the breath he desperately needed to function. Just as quickly as it had started, Thranduil broke the kiss. Eleanor’s doe-like eyes met with his grey-blue ones. “Forgive me for being forward, Eleanor. I could not help myself.” One thumb stroked absentmindedly against her cheeks, which had begun to become rosy from her spreading blush. Thranduil smiled slightly at the sight.

“Come, we should head back inside.” He stood up, careful not to tug the cloak forcefully from Eleanor. Once he had firm footing, he held his hand out towards the woman. She took his hand thankfully and allowed the elf to help pull her to her feet. Legolas stirred in her arm, moving to curl around her entire torso, legs wrapped around her waist and arms around her neck. Thranduil tied her cloak back around her neck, protecting her back from the chill winds blowing against them. “I could take him if you like.” Thranduil offered as he led them towards the palace doors as the sky darkened behind them.

“It’s alright. I actually miss holding children you know.” She smiled as some memory flitted through her mind. “Eamon never wed to have children of his own…but there were many children still in our village. I used to sit under the nearby trees and watch them play while their parent’s worked. Every now and then, one would come and sit either beside me or in my lap and beg to hear me sing or tell a story. It was always a blessing when another child would arrive.”

“Did you never wed to have children?” Thranduil asked. Eleanor answered with a shake of her head.

“The men of my village were little better than beasts with how they would treat some of the women. Eamon would end up getting into fights with the ones who tried to ask for my hand. Father always thought I was being too prudish. But I guess that was what he chose to see from the end of his tankard. Eames was the only one to understand me.”

Thranduil digested her words carefully, listening as she continued to tell him about her old life until they reached the doors to the dining hall. Legolas had awoken during their walk, choosing to remain cuddled against Eleanor’s chest as she talked. The two ever-present guards opened the wooden doors to the dining area. Thranduil walked in first, stopping only a few steps away for Eleanor to catch up.

Legolas lifted his head towards his father. “I see you are awake. Just in time to eat.” The amusement of his voice echoed around the otherwise empty room. He reached his hands out to help set Legolas into his seat, which had two large pillows against the seat and back of it to allow him to reach the table easily. The king then escorted Eleanor around the table, pulling out her chair for her and pushing the chair in once she had been seated.

The elf spoke aloud a few words in Sindarin, ones that Eleanor was not familiar with, and servants began to usher in trays filled with various foods. While most of the trays were filled with fruits, vegetables, and grains, there was a small tray of quail laid out beside Eleanor.

“I thought elves didn’t eat meat.” She eyed the fowl curiously.

“We don’t.” Thranduil spoke plainly, taking his son’s plate and filling it with whatever the little elf pointed at (and a few things he protested to). “But I know that it is not uncommon for Men to eat it. Which is why I had some prepared for you tonight.” His simple statement brought warmth to Eleanor’s chest. He did this for me…she thought happily.

With a nod in thanks, the woman filled her own plate with food, waiting for the king to fill his own before beginning to eat. All of it was truly delicious, as it had always been, but the quail was especially succulent. She had to hold in her groan at the taste of the fowl. “I take from your facial expressions that it is to your liking?” The king asked, amusement in his voice.

Eleanor nodded, swallowing her bite and wiping her lips with the napkin before speaking. “Yes, it is. Thank you, Thranduil. I haven’t had meat like that for many months. Not since Eamon died and I ran out of my store of dried meat shortly after.” The Elvenking watched as she spoke, remaining silent and carefully listening to her story.

Instead of Thranduil speaking next, it was Legolas, whose voice was muffled through a mouthful of food, making his words indiscernible. “Ionneg, finish your bite before speaking.” The king pleaded with a sigh. Legolas blushed bashfully before doing as told. Then he repeated his question again. “What was your brother like?”

The woman bite her lip in hesitation. “He…He was my best friend, always there for me. We used to play together as children, and when my mother died and Father took to his cups, Eames was the one who took care of me. He was more of a father-figure to me than my own ever was.” Her eyes began to brim with tears, all of the horrid memories threatening to take over. “Forgive me if I wish not to speak any more of this topic.”

The pale-haired elves exchanged glances, before Legolas decided to scurry from his chair, around the table, and crawl into Eleanor’s arms. His own tiny body pulled her close in an embrace. Eleanor smiled slightly, pulling the child closer. “Thank you, Legolas. I appreciate it.” She rubbed his back gently. Thranduil watched his son try his best to comfort the woman, much like she had done for him times previously. He cleared his throat after another moment. “It is time for bed, Legolas. Lady Eleanor and I have much to discuss.”

The elfling nodded, dropping from Eleanor’s lap to exit the room, shouting back to the woman a promise to come see her tomorrow. Thranduil stood, extending his hand to help the woman from her seat. Eleanor took his hand graciously and let him lead her from the dining area back to his study. The two guards at the door opened them and closed the doors as soon as both Thranduil and Eleanor were inside.

“What did you have to request of me, arannin?” She stood still as the king removed his cloak, folding and setting it carefully in a chair. He reached a strong hand out, silently asking for her own cloak. Eleanor fumbled with the ties, but was able to remove the protective clothing and pass it to the elf king, who folded it and placed it with his own.

From her vantage point, she could see the lean muscles of his torso and arms flex slightly through his tunic as he completed his task. While he was slim by Men standards, she had no doubt that he was still a formidable foe. Unbidden, her mind wandered to what his torso would look like nude. It was known that elves were generally hairless like her own race, but did he have many scars or markings, she wondered.

Thranduil’s voice calling her name pulled her from her roaming thoughts. A blush of embarrassment crossed her cheeks. “Lady Eleanor, I wished to meet with you regarding something very important.” He took a step towards her, then another, and another. Slowly closing the distance between them until he would have been able to reach out and touch her if he wished to. He took a deep breath before continuing.

“How do you feel about me, Lady Eleanor, and I would appreciate your honesty.”

She blinked at his words, the blush darkening in colour. “The truth?” He nodded, moving to circle her body slowly. By all the gods of this land, she swallowed quickly. “I…I find you to be a great king, and a wonderful parent. While you were not overtly kind upon our first meeting, I must confess that your presence has come to grow on me, arannin.” Her eyes watched his steps as long as she could see him, watching his face for any sign of his displeasure. She had ended up saying a little more than she wished, but hoped that her answer satisfied the king enough to keep her from having to avoid any embarrassing revelations and admissions.

“Anything else?”

“And...I must also confess…that I have come to adore your son…and…”

“And?”

And I have begun to fall in love with you. That is what she wanted to say, but the words refused to form. Instead, she shook her head. No, it will only sully him if he were to bind himself to me… She thought back to Lord Arphenion’s sons, their words against her, and no doubt that the sentiments were ones shared by their father. “Nothing else…Thranduil.”

Thranduil tilted his head slightly to examine her. If he could tell she was lying or not, she did not know. It wasn’t a common ability, but many who walked the land long enough had honed the ability to near perfection. “I see…then that is all, Lady Eleanor. I will have Bericalnon, my captain of the guard, escort you to your room.” Upon hearing his name, the captain of the guard appeared in the now open doorway. He bowed his head towards Eleanor.

“Thranduil…” The king held up a hand to silence her words. He couldn’t bear to look her in the eyes. Eleanor felt her chest tighten, like her heart was being ripped to shreds. I see…I must have only been here for his amusement. And when he did not get what he wanted, he decided to cast me out. If this is true, then why does my heart hurt so? She bit her lip and nodded, keeping her eyes downcast. “Goheno nin, arannin. I did not mean to overstep my bounds. I will take my leave. Please tell the prince that I will be unable to visit him tomorrow.” Before he could fully grasp her words, she turned and fled the room, shielding her tears from him.

The doors closed behind her as she and Bericalnon, who shot his king a worried glance before following after his charge, left Thranduil alone in his study. Once he was sure he would not be disturbed, he let his tears flow. He thought she loved him, and he was ashamed to say that he desperately needed her love to function. Never had he felt this way since his wife passed not even a decade ago. It was like she was the only thing keeping his heart beating…the only thing keeping him alive. The fact that she was adored by his son, and he of she, was simply an added bonus.

But he wouldn’t subject her to a life with him if she did not will it. The words of Lord Arphenion blazed through his mind like wildfire. That woman has no right being here and you know that. If she is not here to warm your bed, what is she here for? You know as well as I do that humans are not tolerated in elven settlements for long.

The blond monarch clenched his fists in his hair, fighting to push back the monstrous assumptions. He would not force her to be with him, no matter how much he wished for her to remain. The king fell to his knees, his tears flowing openly down his pale cheeks to fall to the floor. There is nothing I can do now, he lamented, and she has made her decision. Yes, but I helped force her in that direction. Both sides of his personality fought with each other, struggling to decide whether to follow after her or not. She is my mirlythnin…my treasured flower. I do not wish to part with her, and yet my heart tells me that it may be for the best. The king was not sure which side he wished to win as he lay crumpled on the floor of his study and wept like he had never before.

Chapter Text

Two days had passed since he had seen Eleanor. Two painful days he spent pining for even a glimpse of her face. But none came. She had not even seen Legolas, the poor child being told bu Túrin that Eleanor had fallen ill with a human sickness she wished him not to catch. And that gullible child had believed the servant, not knowing what had transcribed between the woman and his father previously.

Now, Thranduil sat on his throne, Legolas upon his lap holding the wooden elk he had gifted him and an elven soldier figure. “Ada?” The Elvenking looked down at his son’s voice. “Yes, little one? What is it?” his arm snaked around the child’s stomach, pulling him to a more comfortable position for them both. “Do you think Eleanor is upset with me because I called her nana?”

“No, ionneg. She is just…ill at the moment.”

“Are you upset that I called her that?”

The older elf simply shook his head. “No, my little Greenleaf. I am not. I only wished that you would have been able to meet your true mother is all.” The little elfling nodded in understanding. “Can you tell me more about my nana? You never speak of her.”

Thranduil took a deep, shaky breath. He wanted to tell his son everything but, in truth, he wasn’t ready to speak the words. He wasn’t ready to remember the woman who had stolen his heart, and in the end crushed it with her death. If he spoke his memories, it would only bring the realization that she would not be waiting for him when he sailed to the Undying Lands into full force.

“I will when you get older, my child. But all you need to know now is that she loved you very much and would want you to be happy.”

“Does that go for you too, ada? Would nana want you happy too?”

It was becoming harder to stall his tears, which threatened to gloss his eyes. “Yes…I am sure she would have wanted that too…” The king took one more deep breath to centre himself, gently running his fingers through the elfling’s silvery locks. It pained him that the child on his lap looked more like him than his mother, but he was thankful in the same way that Legolas was showing aspects of his late wife’s attitude.

Always smiling. Bringing light into even the dark reaches of his palace. Adored by all who met him. Such an opposite to his father. But nonetheless it made Thranduil happy to know that his son was as he is.

Both father and son sat in silence for a few more moments, the elder just content to watch whatever scene his son was preforming with his toys, until Bericalnon entered the throne room. The captain of the guard was practically running towards the base of the throne. Thranduil shifted his body, holding Legolas closer to his chest. Already, he knew what the captain of the guard was going to tell him purely from how white his face had been as he entered the room. “Ias?”

The raven-haired elf bowed before his king as he spoke “Western edge of the forest, and approaching rapidly. I have sent a group of soldiers to stop them. But I fear there is more than we had estimated.”

The king stood quickly, setting Legolas to his feet. “Go, Bericalnon. I will meet you at the stables. Prepare my elk.” He turned his attention to his son, not bothering to watch the captain leave the throne room. “Ionneg, I need you to go to Eleanor’s room. Tell her that I asked for her to guard you for a moment. Her servant will know what is going on. Av-‘osto. Now, go!” He ushered the child to the door, his own body following him.

Thranduil signaled for his guard to follow his son, make sure he got to his destination safely. At their bow, he strode to the stables. Bericalnon had already had his mount saddled as well as his armour set out, ready for use. Quickly, the king donned his armour and twin blades before mounting his elk. “Take me to them.” He spoke to the captain before they both set off for battle.

 


 

Legolas ran as fast as his tiny legs could take him, aware in an instant of the footsteps following him. He knew they were guard—he had heard his father order them to follow him—but it still startled him. He didn’t slow until he reached the hallway leading to Eleanor’s room. Taking one look at his face, the guards knocked quickly before the frightened child could reach the door.

At the knock, Eleanor stood from her bed, opening the door just in time to be trampled by the elfling. Before she could stop herself, she was falling backwards, holding the child to her chest to protect him. His toys went skidding across the room from his hands. “Legolas? What happened? Are you okay?” She quickly sat up, brushing his hair from his eyes, searching for any sign of injury, thankfully finding none.

Through his tears, Legolas was able to tell Eleanor what his father had told him; how Thranduil had requested for her to watch him until his return. “Shh, little one. Your ada will be fine, I promise. Don’t worry.” Although she tried to remain strong before the elfling, Eleanor couldn’t help but worry over what had Thranduil rushing away so quickly. She had heard that the orcs were amassing an army to the West and South, but she did not think that they would be able to breach the Mirkwood borders.

Eleanor held onto the little prince, rocking him gently until his tears finally stopped. Túrin had rushed to the room just as the prince had calmed, hearing about the commotion and dropping her task to run to check on them both. “We are fine, mellon. But I thank you for worrying.” Eleanor stated quietly. Legolas was on the verge of sleeping, no doubt tiring himself out from the excitement of earlier. Patiently, she waited for the prince to fall asleep before telling her maid the story she was told by Legolas, not wanting to frighten the child more.

“I see…I just don’t understand how they could have gotten through our borders so easily. Each main road to our kingdom is patrolled. It just makes no sense.”

“I agree, Túrin. It is a little odd. I mean, Thranduil has never told me much, but I must admit to having some pretty open ears.” Eleanor smiled lightly, lifting herself to her feet with the help of her maid. Gently, she laid the prince on her bed and tucked him in. The dark haired maid let out a little chuckle.

“But that is a useful quality, correct?” She watched as Eleanor nodded her head with another smile. “Okay, stay here. You both will be safe here. I will bring dinner to your rooms.” She vacated the room.


 

Hours passed—Túrin had delivered dinner for Legolas and Eleanor about an hour ago—and there was still no sign of Thranduil’s return. Legolas sat on the bed playing with a few toys he had requested the guards bring from his chambers. Eleanor had taken up a comfy armchair by her lit fireplace, choosing to watch the flames dance instead of counting the minutes any longer.

“When do you think ada will be back?” his voice was so small in the vast room, binging Eleanor from her thoughts. “I’m not sure, little one. But I’m sure he will be back soon. Why don’t you go on to bed?” Legolas moved to bundle himself up under the plush covers. “Can you sing me another song? Like you used to?”

Eleanor smiled lovingly at the child and nodded. “Anything for you.” And she began to sing.

“Feasgar ciùin an tus a'chèitein

nuair bha 'n ialtag anns na speuran

chualaim rìbhinn òg 's i deurach

seinn fo sgàil nan geugan uain'.

 

Bha a'ghrian 'sa chuan gu sìoladh

's reult cha d'éirich anns an iarmailt

nuair a sheinn an òigh gu cianail

"Tha mo ghaol air àird a'chuain".

 

She watched as his eyes slowly fluttered shut; his breathing beginning to even out in his light sleep. She continued to sing even though she was sure the elfling would not last much longer.

 

Thòisich dealt na h-oidhch' ri tùirling

's lùb am braon gu caoin na flùrain

Shèid a'ghaoth 'na h-oiteag chùbhraidh

beatha 's ùrachd do gach cluan.

 

Ghleus an nighneag fonn a h-òrain

sèimh is ciùin mar dhriùchd an Òg-mhìos

'a bha an t-sèisd seo 'g éirigh 'n còmhnaidh

"Tha mo ghaol air àird a'chuain".

 

Quiet as a mouse, Eleanor stood and crept towards the bed the child slept peacefully in. She lowered her voice slightly, but still sang.

 

Chiar an latha is dheàrrs 'na reultan,

sheòl an rè measg neul nan speuran.

Shuidh an òigh, 'bròn ga lèireadh,

's cha robh dèigh air tàmh no suain.

 

Theann mi faisg air reult nan òg-bhean

sheinn mu 'gaol air chuan 'bha seòladh.

O bu bhinn a caoidhrean brònach

"Tha mo ghaol air àird a'chuain".

 

Legolas did not stir as Eleanor sat by the edge of the bed. Gently, she tucked the covers tighter around his tiny frame and moved his toys from the bed, setting them upon her nightstand for safe keeping. She leaned down and placed a small kiss to his hair.

 

Rinn an ceòl le deòin mo thàladh

dlùth do rìbhinn donn nam blàth-shùil

's i ag ùrnaigh ris an Àrd-Rìgh

"Bìon mo ghràdh 'th' air àird a'chuain".

 

Bha a cridh' le gaol gu sgàineadh

nuair a ghlac me fhèin air làimh i.

"Siab o dheòir, do ghaol tha sàbhailt,

thill mi slàn bhàrr àird a'chuain".”

 

Eleanor couldn’t help her smile as she watched the prince smile slightly in his sleep. She placed another gentle kiss to his temple. “Ollo vae, henig.” She whispered to the sleeping bundle on her bed. She stood again and made her way back to her chair by the fire. But before she could turn back towards her blazing fireplace, Eleanor heard a familiar voice sound behind her by the door. “Sing it again…for me…”


 

Thranduil entered the stables; Bericalnon hot on his heels, ready to take his king’s weapons from him for maintenance. They had dispatched the orc scum on the Western borders and thankfully had not lost any of their men in the process. When they reached the palace, the moon was high overhead; it was nearly three in the morning when they had returned.

They are getting bolder. Attacking closer and closer to the palace each time. The king frowned in frustration. What is driving them closer? He took the cloth extended to him by the captain of the guard. “You have blood on your face, arannin, and I doubt it would be wise to approach your son in such a state.” Thranduil nodded, giving his thanks to his trusted ally, before wiping away the thick black blood of his fallen enemies.

“Look after my mount, captain. I have something important to attend to.” Without another word, Thranduil sauntered through the halls to his set destination. Using the cloth, he wiped off the little blood from his gleaming silver breastplate and tucked it into the pocket of his trousers. As he neared his destination, his steps faltered. Coming from the end of the hallway, he could faintly hear a voice; singing in a language he had never heard before.

His feet brought him closer, step by step, until he could touch the wood of the door. He raised a single finger to his lips, a silent order for the guards to remain silent as he slipped inside silently. The woman’s front was facing him, but he knew she would not be able to see him in his spot hidden in darkness. The elfling in the bed was sound asleep, snoring softly as she finished her song. He watched as the woman leaned down and pressed a kiss to his son’s face, causing the elfling to smile in his sleep.

Ollo vae, henig.” He heard her say softly as she made her way back to the flames. “Sing it again…for me…” The words escaped his lips before he could stop them. Eleanor stood stiffly, her body turning to him. In a flash of firelight, Thranduil felt the woman rush him, tightening her thin arms around his armour-clad stomach and pulling him close. “Forgive me, arannin, but I have been worried; we both have been. And when you didn’t return…I thought you lost…”

Thranduil hesitantly wrapped his arms around the woman, one hand reaching up to smooth the back of her unbound brunette locks. “I will always return to you both.” He leaned his head down towards her neck, breathing in her scent. Lilies, he thought. Lilies and midnight dew. Purely her. “I am sorry for worrying you.” He nuzzled his nose closer to her rounded ear. Feeling the woman shudder in his arms slightly, the Elvenking let out a soft chuckle. Oh what he wouldn’t give to feel that shudder against his bared skin. Pushing such thoughts aside, he let the woman push herself away from him.

“I thank you for watching over Legolas. He is quite fond of you and your singing.” The king stated as he moved towards the bed to watch his slumbering son. The little elf still had a smile on his face, but he was sound asleep as the king leant down slowly and kissed the child’s head. Eleanor walked over to the other side of the bed. Her gaze lingered between the blond elves before her.

The woman watched as the Silvan king stroked his fingers through Legolas’ hair fondly. “If you would like, you could sleep here for the night…” The words escaped her before she could think better of it. Already, Eleanor could feel her cheeks beginning to heat in a ferocious blush. No doubt the elf before her could see this.

And see it he could. Her blush sent his heart in a flurry. “Is that what you want, Eleanor?” the way he said her name was enough to make her melt on the spot. Words failed her so all she could do was nod. Thranduil smirked at the deepening blush covering her cheeks. “I promise to stay on my side of the bed.” He jested before moving towards the bathroom to remove his armour. The woman crept into her side of the bed, on the right of Legolas, and covered herself with the blankets.

Eleanor watched his shadow in the candlelight as he removed his breastplate and vambraces. Gently, he set them aside so he could remove the rest of his armour, each article being carefully maintained and set together. The last thing to be removed was his outer tunic. Underneath, he still wore his trousers and the white undershirt. Eleanor quickly averted her eyes as she saw his frame about to enter the room again.

The Elvenking strode through the room and made his way to his side of the bed. Taking his place on the left of Legolas, Thranduil moved under the covers, turning on his side to watch both his son and Eleanor. Legolas mumbled something unintelligible in his sleep and scooted closer to the mortal, clenching tiny fistfuls of her night shirt in his hands as he continued to sleep.

Thranduil chuckled lightly as the woman curled her arms around his son, pulling him closer to her. One of her hands extended towards the elven ruler, which he took gently to not startle her. He could see that sleep was about to take her; her eyes fluttering ever so slightly in the ding light of the fireplace. “Thranduil…” she started, a yawn interrupting her words. “I think…I’m…falling for…you…” She closed her eyes and fell asleep instantly.

“I know I’ve already fallen for you, mirlythnin.” He whispered, moving his body closer to the cuddled bodies. Leaning forward, he placed a kiss against her brow before falling victim to sleep himself.

Chapter Text

The following day, Eleanor awoke to the sound of whispered voices—very familiar whispering voices. Feigning sleep, she listened as Legolas continued to talk with his father.

“Do you think that Eleanor would want to stay with us forever?” The child had his back to the woman’s chest, snugged still in the safety of her arms. She could feel his tiny hand wrap around the one around his waist. Her other hand was being held by another, larger hand in much the same manner.

“That is for her to decide, ionneg, as much as I desire for her to stay as well. Come, let her sleep in peace a while longer.” Thranduil let go of Eleanor’s hand gently before slowly leaving the comfort of the bed. While he would have liked nothing better than to remain by her side, he was a king with many duties. Legolas gently untangled himself from the woman before following after his father. With a few words to the guards outside—which Eleanor was not able to hear—the two royals left her room.

Finally alone, Eleanor opened her brown eyes to the sunlit room. Memories of the previous night danced through her head, bringing a smile to her face. For once in her life, since the death of her brother, she felt as though she was part of a family again. The woman pondered over the elfling’s question to his father.

Would she stay here if she was given the chance?

While it wouldn’t be forever, she would gladly spend her mortal life with the blond-haired elves.

That is, if they would allow her to do so.

Eamon would have loved it here…he would have loved Legolas just as I have come to.

Her heart tugged at the memory of her brother. It had been nearly three months of her being here…and it was the end of winter when she arrived. She sat up in the bed and stared out at the window. Eamon…the anniversary is today…isn’t it? She lamented in her head. She slowly got up from the bed, reaching over to the arm chair for her robe. As she slipped on the silky material and tied it at the waist, she walked over to the window.

It was such a beautiful day outside. The sun was shining brightly and Eleanor could hear the singing of dozens of birds. It was as if the world was trying to make up for the pain she now felt at her remembrance. Pushing away the tears that threatened to spill over, Eleanor took a deep, shaky breath before moving away from the window. Quickly, she readied herself for the day, finishing just as Túrin arrived.

If her friend had known about her dampening mood, she did not mention it. This was a good thing, as Eleanor did not feel strong enough to speak about her pain just yet, even if he had been deceased for three years already. Just as she was about to leave the room, Eleanor was stopped by the guards.

“Goheno nin, hiril vuin, but His Majesty has requested your presence at his table. We are to escort you there.”

Eleanor could only nod as the guards walked with her, leaving Túrin to stare sadly after her mortal companion. After a few minutes, the guards stopped at the doors to the dining hall. “His Majesty and His Highness are already inside.” One of the guards motioned over his lips in a ‘u’ shape, motioning for a smile, to which the woman tried to smile as truthfully as she could.

Once they were satisfied, the opened the doors, allowing her to enter. As soon as she took a step into the room, she was greeted with the sound of her name being excitedly called by the tiny elfling, who had already begun eating. Her plastered smile wavered slightly. She hoped that the older elf, who was staring intently at her, did not notice.

The brunette walked over to her respective setting at the table, finding that its plate was already laden with food. “Go ahead and eat, Eleanor. We have business to attend to afterwards.” The woman raised a brow at the ruler before her, confusion causing her smile to drop. “What is the business, Thranduil?” She eyed him warily. “Ah, that would ruin the surprise.” He chuckled before continuing with his own breakfast.

As the three of them ate, Eleanor could feel a true smile beginning to bloom on her lips. So this is what a family is supposed to be like… Her eyes flitted between Thranduil and Legolas, choosing to focus mainly on the elfling, who was currently wiggling in his chair while he ate. Normally, Thranduil would have scolded him for such behavior but, for some reason, he decided to allow it at the moment.

Ada?” Legolas’ voice rang out in the otherwise silent room. At his father’s sound of question, the child continued. “May I be excused for a moment?”

“Why? Is something the matter, my little Greenleaf?” Legolas shook his head, looking down in slight embarrassment. “Go ahead, ionneg. But be back quickly. We will be leaving in a few minutes.” The elfling quickly scooted away from the table and bounded out of the room, followed closely by two guards from the doorway.

Eleanor turned to the Elvenking. “And where exactly are we going?” The king smiled at her. “That is a secret for me to know, and you to find out mirlythnin.” A soft blush covered her cheeks at his new pet name for her. It was something he would call her in private, knowing that it would elicit this exact response from her. The monarch reached out, gently grasping her hand and raising it to his lips. “But I assure you, you will quite like the surprise.” With that, he placed a soft kiss against her pale knuckles.

Thranduil watched as her blush deepened. Such innocence from her, and it made his own heart long to shower her with more kisses, these ones against her rosy cheeks and lips. But that would all come in due time, he reminded himself. He stood from his chair, lifting the woman from her own chair gently. Just as they stood, Legolas came running back into the room, with his hands behind his back, trying in vain to hide the bouquet of Brunnera he held.

Eleanor tried to stifle her laugh at the child. The bouquet was tilted at an off angle, like a head peeking out over the child’s shoulder with him none the wiser. Legolas beamed at the child of Men, believing himself to have hidden his gift well enough. “And what has you so excited, little one?” She asked, playing ignorance to what lied behind his back.

Legolas giggled before handing over the flowers. The pale blue, pink, and orange petals all blended beautifully together, mimicking the colour scheme of the setting sun. A soft smile graced her lips as she accepted the gift with both hands. “Oh my, Legolas! They are beautiful!” She brought the blossoms to her nose, inhaling their scent. “They are for you to take with us.” His voice spoke up.

By now, Eleanor was beginning to become a little suspicious. But before she could act upon her suspicions, Thranduil was leading her and his son towards the stables, after having donned their cloaks and Thranduil with his weapons. “You can ride, correct?” Eleanor nodded slightly. Thranduil smiled once more, leading the woman towards a beautiful golden mare, already saddled and bridled.

“Hello there. You are a beauty…” Holding the bouquet in one hand, Eleanor gently stroked the mare’s neck. The soft hair brushed between her fingers, heightening her smile slightly. “Do you like her?” The king’s voice asked from behind her. Eleanor nodded once continuing to stroke the horse’s soft mane. “Good, because she is yours.”

The brunette gawked at the king. “Thranduil, I cannot accept this gift.” But he only raised his hand. “Nonsense. If you are to stay with us, you will be in need of a steed.” He laid his raised hand against the mare’s neck, stroking her mane as well. “She is in need of a name…” He commented. After a few moments of consideration, Eleanor decided to go with Amrún, which meant ‘sunrise’.

The pale golden mare nickered, as if pleased with her new name. “Amrún is a splendid name for such a radiant mare. Treat her well, Eleanor.” With that, Thranduil helped the woman onto her horse before moving to sit atop his own. With the help of a guard, Thranduil situated Legolas in the saddle in front of him. The elfling was still too small to ride his own horse, much to his annoyance. “Ready?” Eleanor nodded in response.

At that, they took off, trotting out into the woodlands. Eleanor tucked the bouquet underneath her cloak, protecting it from the wind as they rode. Thranduil led the way, taking seemingly random turns here and there. Where is he going? She thought, following after him dutifully. Mentally, she mapped out each twist and turn they took leading from the palace. That is when it dawned on her.

No…it can’t be…

Her suspicions were confirmed when they broke through an especially thick bunch of bushes, allowing Eleanor to gaze at the lopsided shack, now thickly covered with creeping ivy. Gently, she tugged Amrún to a halt. All she could do was stare at what had once been her and Eamon’s home.

“It is the anniversary of his death, is it not? You never mentioned it, but your mood was sour this morning. It is the only thing I could think of that would make you so.” Thranduil spoke softly, his eyes watching her every move. A few stray tears slipped down her cheeks as she opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out. Instead of what she wished to be a small thanks, a light, choked sob was all that resounded.

Thranduil dismounted his own steed, helping Legolas to dismount as well before making his way over to the crying woman. The king passed the bouquet of Brunnera too Legolas before he gently lifted his hands to her hips, pulling her from Amrún. Eleanor dismounted her mare, trying her hardest to stifle her small sobs.

“It is okay to cry, mirlythnin. Your brother would not want to see you hold it all in.” The king’s voice was calm and low. It was as if he were trying to betray his own emotions that called for him to hold the girl until her tears stopped.

With a hand at her back and his other clasped in his son’s, the Elvenking strode through the crumbling hut and into the backyard. What once was a gorgeous garden filled with fruits, vegetables, and an array of flowers was now overrun with weeds and vines. No fruits or vegetables had grown and only a few of the flowers had bloomed. In the center of the garden was a large oak tree, a garland of braided vine and white cloth wrapped around its trunk.

A grave marker. Thranduil confirmed. This was where her brother had been buried…she must have had to do this herself all those years ago… The girl beside him took in a sharp intake of breath. “Thranduil…may I have a moment alone with my brother?” she asked meekly. Thranduil nodded in understanding, taking Legolas’ hand gently to lead him away. The elfling placed the bouquet in Eleanor’s hands before he was led away, forcing a smile in an attempt to create one of her own but to no avail.

With another deep breath, Eleanor made her way over to the tree and set the bouquet at the base of the trunk. “It’s been a long time…Eamon…” She placed her hand on the rough bark of the oak tree. “Forgive me for not visiting sooner…it’s been a busy few months.” A small smile spread across her face as she tilted her forehead to touch the bark just below the garland.

Then she told her brother everything that had happened to her. Meeting Legolas, meeting Thranduil, her lovely maid and friend Túrin, living with them in the palace, Nost-na-Lothien, Thranduil’s gift of Amrún, even her first kiss shared with the blond elf. “I don’t know what to do, Eames…One part of me wishes to stay…but the other can’t help but think that it would be the wrong choice for everyone. What am I to do, Eames? I can’t make this decision without you…I don’t want to be here without you…” Her words ended in a choked sob, tears flowing freely from her eyes. She took a deep, strengthening breath, trying in vain to root herself into the tree with her brother.

I never felt

That it was wise

To wish too much

To dream too big

Would only lead

To being crushed

 

Then I met you

You weren't afraid

Of anything

You taught me how

To leave the ground

To use my wings

A chocked sob and then another soon after halted her singing. Eleanor dug her nails deep into the bark of the tree, not even flinching when her fingernails ripped and bled.

I never thought a hero

Would ever come my way

But more than that

I never thought

You'd be taken away

 

Now it's cold without you here

It's like winter lasts all year

But your star's still in the sky

So I won't say goodbye

I don't have to say goodbye

Slowly, she fell to her knees, fingers still gripping tightly to the tree as if it was Eamon himself. Her tears fell down her cheeks, spilling from her chin and to the lap of her dress. Eleanor didn’t hear the two sets of feet slowly making their way toward her, nor did she hear as their owners sat themselves on either side of her.

My days of doubt

Were in the past

With you around

You helped me feel

I had a place

Direction found

Thranduil gently pulled her hand and head from the tree. He pulled her gently into his own lap as her sobs slowed. Pulling strips from his shirt, he gently wrapped her bleeding fingers.

You showed me that

A greater dream

Can be achieved

Enough resolve

Will conquer all

If we believe

 

The light you gave to guide me

Will never fade away

But moving forward never felt

As hard as today

She struggled to finish the song even though her tears had finally stopped. Looking down, she felt a small weight settle itself in her lap. Legolas curled up, wrapping his arms around her chest and nuzzling into her neck. Eleanor followed suit, wrapping herself around the small child.

Now it's cold without you here

It's like winter lasts all year

But your star's still in the sky

So I won't say goodbye

I don't have to say goodbye

Her tears had finally stopped as she finished the last note of the song. Thranduil held her close to his chest, making sure that she knew she was safe and loved no matter what. He had heard her cry from where he and Legolas stood in the cottage and he thought it wise to comfort her, even if he was quite new to comforting someone in general, let alone someone he had feelings for.

Legolas raised his head to look up at Eleanor, putting his hands on her cheeks to make her look at him. Although there was still sadness in her eyes, she couldn’t help but smile as the child tried to make her happy again. “It’s okay to be sad, Eleanor…” His tiny voice was soft, trying not to make her cry again. “And…even if your brother isn’t here…he still is in here.” He placed his hand on her chest, right over where her heart would be. Eleanor laid her hand over top of his, nodding slightly and biting her lip.

“You will always have a home with us…We could be a family.” His kind and hopeful words sent themselves straight to her heart. She knew it was what he wanted…but she was still conflicted. Eleanor lifted her head to look up at the elf that still held her in his lap. “You will always have a home with us…as a part of our family…no matter your choice.” Thranduil echoed the words his son had said moments ago, leaning down to press a kiss to her temple.

Eleanor nodded her head, finally making her decision. “I want to stay with you both…” She leaned into the Elvenking and the elfling broke into a wide smile. She knew in her heart that Thranduil was elated as well, even if he had trouble showing his emotions at times. “You are loved, Eleanor…by both of us…from now until the end of time we will love you.” Thranduil declared against her hair, pulling both her and Legolas closer. Gently, he lifted the both of them, making his way to their respective mounts. “I feel that it is time to go home. The sun will be setting soon.”

She couldn’t stop her spreading smile. Eamon…I’ve finally found a home…and even though you are not here with me, I know that you will still be looking out for me. I love you, brother, forever and always. With that last mental thought, she began to follow Thranduil on their trek back to the palace.

Chapter Text

It had been a week since Eleanor had visited her brother’s grave for the anniversary of his death. During the subsequent time, she had taken to spending her days bonding with Amrún and riding the pale mare. Often times, Legolas would company her, finding great joy in braiding the mare’s mane, to which the mare seemed to have no objection. In fact, that was where she was at that very moment.

Legolas hummed a cheerful ditty that Eleanor had sung for him once, the words not remembered but the tune sticking in his mind. Carefully, he braided more strands of Amrún’s mane together, choosing to lace a bright blue ribbon through it as well. Eleanor watched his growing smile, enjoying how happy the elfling had become in the past few days.

Since she had stated her want to stay with the two Sindarin elves, Legolas had been attached to her hip, something that she found to be highly amusing. The prince had even taken to sneaking into her quarters in the middle of the night, feigning a nightmare just to sleep beside her, and she didn’t mind it one bit. If anything, she was comforted by the child who slept beside her. Eleanor was so deep in her own fond thoughts and memories that she did not hear Legolas calling her name.

“What? I’m sorry, little one, could you repeat that?”

“I asked if you had talked to ada lately.”

She shook her head softly. Thranduil had been bombarded with ambassadors from Imladris for most of the past week, their arrival signifying the approaching festival of Tarnin Austa, the Midsummer’s Day Festival. “I have not had the time, henig. You know as well as I that your father is busy with his kingly duties.”

Despite the wee sorrow that crept into her heart at not having seen the monarch, she still put on a smile for the elfling. Legolas nodded his head once, finishing Amrún’s braid by tying the leftover ribbon at the end of it. “Do you think you will be at the festival?” Eleanor shook her head again. “No, Legolas. I’m not too fond of festivals.” Her memory flitted back to Nost-na-Lothien and the words of the guests who attended. Since then, she had not attended any other festivals, not even when Thranduil himself extended an invitation to her.

The elfling’s face fell a little at her words. “But…I might make an exception for you, little one.” His smile once again returned full force and an excited squeal left his lips. Amrún nickered, blowing air from her nose and nudging Legolas. “Sorry, Amrún. I’ll be quieter.” The prince apologized, stroking the mare’s neck.

Eleanor led her horse towards the back to its pen, making sure there was fresh water and hay before collecting Legolas and heading back into the main palace. The light of the setting sun filtered through the holes between the trees that made up the majority of the outer walls, illuminating the path that both of them took towards the dining hall. “After dinner, Legolas, you are to go straight to bed. You have an appointment early in the morning with the tailor for your festival tunic. Understand?” He nodded and they both made their way into the hall.

Thranduil was already seated as they entered, the two newcomers took their respective seats at either side of the king. Once the younger took his seat, Thranduil began to reach for his son’s plate, intent on filling it. But Eleanor beat him to it. “I’ve got it tonight, Thranduil. You go ahead and eat. I know you have been run ragged from those ambassadors.” She smiled at him and began to pick up whatever Legolas pointed at for his dinner. Once he was satisfied, she took her own seat and began helping herself for her dinner.

“Have they returned to Rivendell?” Eleanor asked before taking a bite of her vegetables. “No, they have not. And I am to expect more from Rivendell in the coming days.” She nodded her head at the king’s explanation. The festival was in less than a week, and preparations were still being erected. Already, Eleanor could see the dark circles under the elf’s eyes, a sight she had never seen before. He had spent many a sleepless night hosting these ambassadors and it seemed like those days had finally caught up to him.

Eleanor was snapped out of her thoughts by a voice calling her name. Blinking quickly, she tilted her head at the voice. “I’m sorry, but could you repeat yourself?” Thranduil cleared his throat. “I asked if my features were pleasing to you since you seem to be staring at them an awfully lot this eve.” A harsh blush stained her skin crimson, not realizing that she had been staring until she had been caught.

The Elvenking smirked; oh, how he loved to see her blush in embarrassment. It was one of the things that he thoroughly enjoyed about her. He watched as she ducked her head and began to eat silently, avoiding his question, much to his amusement.

The rest of their meal was ate in silence. After all of the dishes were cleared, Eleanor stood, making her way to help Legolas down from the too tall chair. “Come, time for bed little one.” The elfling protested but, after seeing that he would not win his argument, conceded and gripped the feminine hand offered to him.

Legolas tuned his head towards his father, who only gave him a slight wave of his hand. “I will be there in a moment. There is some business I must attend to first.” The elfling nodded and began to walk out of the room side by side with his guardian all the way to his own chambers.

“Alright, Legolas, it is time for bed. Go on and get dressed.” As he left to do as he was bid, Eleanor turned down his bed, preparing it for the child. Two sleepy feet shuffled a now dressed in sleepwear elfling towards his bed. He clambered up onto the mattress, waiting to be tucked in by Eleanor.

The brunette folded the covers over the child, smoothing them up and over his little body. “Eleanor, will ada come tonight?” She tilted her head in question. “Yes, he will. Why would you think otherwise?”

Ada seems busy. No time to play, no time for me.” He turned over, back to Eleanor, his words muffled by the amount of blankets he held up to cover his face.

“Legolas, you are your father’s pride and joy. He…he has just been busy of late…He will come tonight.” Eleanor sat herself on the side of his bed. Carefully, she scooted herself closer to the blond elfling and began to stroke her fingers through his unbraided hair. “Ada gets like this at times. Where he doesn’t want any around him. It’s been like this since nana died when I was smaller.”

Never before had she heard any stories about Legolas’ mother and Thranduil’s wife, even when she asked Túrin. Always, she was told that it was not their story to tell. But now, she could feel her heart breaking for both of the blond elves in her life. “Legolas, your father loves you very much. And I am sure that he misses your mother just as much as you do. Do not hold any of this against him.”

Reaching over him, she pulled the child into her arms, still swaddled in his blankets. She could hear sniffling coming from below her. “Shhh…don’t cry. It will be alright.” Kissed were placed atop his head as she rocked him gently back and forth. “A-ada hates this t-time… he…she…”

“Calm down, speak when you are ready. Take a deep breath.” Eleanor stroked pale hair from his eyes, tucking it behind his pointed ears. A few moments passed before his tears had finally slowed to the point he could speak unhindered.

Ada hates this festival…he never told me why…just something about orcs…and nana.”

The woman felt her heart lodge in her throat. This was not something she was meant to hear, she could feel it. “Legolas, you should not speak of such things. It will give you nightmares. Now go to sleep, I will stay with you and your father will be here soon.” She spoke her words with conviction, even though she wasn’t sure if her words would be truthful or not.

He nodded his head, his tears having tired him out. Gently, she laid his back in the bed, soothingly smoothing his hair back as she began to hum a soft lullaby to Legolas. Many minutes passed, and Legolas had finally fallen asleep, but his father was still nowhere to be seen. With a sigh, she lifted herself carefully from the bed, making her way around the room to blow out what few candles were lit.

The creaking of a door brought her attention towards the only entrance or exit to the room. The oaken door was being pulled shut, a sliver of light she did not notice did not come from the moon slowly receding until finally it was no more. Gripping her skirts, Eleanor slowly crept towards the door, pulling it open. Flitting her head from side to side, she was barely able to catch a flash of silver robes and pale hair as they rounded a corner.

Silent as a mouse, the woman followed the monarch until he entered into a seemingly hidden passageway. Waiting a few moments, Eleanor followed, noticing the ascending spiral staircase, and taking those stairs on up. At the top of the stairs, there was a large open balcony, no trees to hide the sky from view. Directly in front of her, the Elvenking stood, back to Eleanor, hands folded behind him.

“It is a beautiful night, is it not?” The king’s voice filled the void of silence. Slowly, Eleanor stepped forward.

“Yes, it is...but not as beautiful as the sight of a child’s smile.” She waited to continue until the pale elf turned to face her. His face impassive as ever. “Why did you not go to your son? He misses your company, Thranduil.” She took a step closer to him.

Thranduil remained silent, watching her every move. “Thranduil,” By now, she was standing in front of him, hesitant hands reaching to grip one of his own larger ones. “You can talk to me. What has you so upset that you must push us both away? I know it is not only the ambassadors, something else is wrong.”

When he didn’t speak, instead choosing to continue staring at her porcelain face blankly, she pressed on. “Is this about your wife…Legolas’ mother?” At the mention of his departed beloved, Thranduil broke from his stupor. “You know not of what you speak nor is it your business.” He hissed, wrenching his hand from her grip. Eleanor took a step back, her heart racing in fear, being reminded of the stories of the Elvenking’s temper and cruelty, before reminding herself that he has never given her any reason to believe he would hurt her.

“I beg your pardon, but I find it is my concern.” She folded her own arms across her chest. “When your son is in tears before sleeping because of your attitude regarding this festival and his mother, it becomes my concern. When he turns to me for help and I have none to give him because I do not know what has happened, it becomes my concern.”

Thranduil’s eyes narrowed at her outburst. “It would seem time among my people has taught you no sense of control over your thoughts and actions.” Eleanor took a step back from his verbal jab, flinching as if she had been slapped. “I may not be an elf, and I know very well that I am a mortal Man, but I believe that this is something that needs to be discussed, Thran-arannin.”

The male did not miss the change between her using his title versus his name. Cocking his head to the side, he watched as her chest rose and fell rapidly, in fear or anger he wasn’t entirely sure. The woman took a deep breath, exhaling slowly to calm her nerves before she finally spoke again.

“What happened to your wife, arannin? And what does it have to do with Tarnin Austa?”

Her doe-like eyes raised to his grey ones, holding them in a soft gaze. When he did not answer, Eleanor bit her lip and nodded her head. “I see…forgive me for my intrusion, my king.” She turned, making her way back towards the staircase. “Stop.” The Elvenking’s stern voice rang out, halting her steps just as she reached the opening to the staircase. “The…The last Tarnin Austa I held was the one where I lost my wife. A rogue band of orcs came to lay siege to my people during the festivities…but the only one they found outside at the time was my Eärwen. They took her, and I couldn’t do a thing to save her. By the time I found her, she was too far gone that not even the healing of elves was enough to save her. She faded from me, not believing that I would come for her…The festival…It is just a reminder of what I have lost.”

Eleanor could feel her tears falling in slow lines down her cheeks at the Elvenking’s tale, feeling the heartbreak in every one of his words. An arm snaked around her waist, tugging her gently away from the staircase. “Please, do not make me relieve this horror…” Thranduil twisted the woman in his arms so he could see her face as he spoke. “When the festival arrives, I want you by my side at all times, both you and my son.” Eleanor could only nod, not trusting her voice to falter. “Tomorrow, I will accompany both of you on your outings, your words have made me realize that I have much more to lose by stepping back than I do by moving forward.”

His hand reached to tilt her chin upwards, soft skin stroking over milky flesh. “You are my mirlythnin, and I do not intend to lose you as well.” With that final confession, Thranduil lowered his lips to hers, kissing her fears and worries away amidst a sea of starlight.

Chapter Text

True to his word, Thranduil had accompanied Legolas and Eleanor as they went about their day. First, they ate breakfast together, as per usual. Then they made their way to the tailors so Legolas could get fitted for his festival robes and tunic. The elder elf knelt before the prince, dark hair pulled back into a ponytail at his crown to keep the hair from his face as he worked, and began to hem the silvery-blue tunic to its proper length.

“It would seem you are growing again, cóonnín. Perhaps we should begin making you an entire new wardrobe?” While her Sindarin had strengthened, most of the elves around Mirkwood preferred to speak in the common tongue to the human woman to make it easier on her to translate and comprehend. Thranduil gave a single nod of his head and the tailor relayed a series of commands to his associates to begin preparations. “Does the tunic and robes lease you, cóonnín?”

Legolas held his arms all the way up, doing a little jig in place and then jumping up and down, much to Eleanor’s amusement. “Yes” he practically shouted, being sure to add a “sir” at the end after Eleanor shot him a stern brow. Constantly, she had to get on that child about his manners, but he was never purposefully ignorant nor rude to those either above or below him in status. The tailor smiled, adding the finishing touches to the elfling’s wardrobe before ordering him back into his plain clothes.

Eleanor held her hand out towards Legolas, helping him off the tailor’s dais. “Ah, wait, what about you, my lady?”

“I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you mean?”

“Are you not going to get fitted for the festival as well?”

She turned to look at Thranduil, who only inclined his head towards her, then back to the tailor, unsure of what to say or do until she felt a tug at her hand. “C’mon, we can match.” The prince said with a cheeky grin, pulling the human up onto the dais he had just left. Before she could protest, the tailor began to measure her.

Waist, Bust, arms, legs, all measurements were recorded carefully for later use. Eleanor blushed slightly at all of the attention on her, making her nervous. “When the time comes, we will have your wardrobe delivered to you.” The tailor stood and left with his measurements to begin working on the new outfit needed. Eleanor stared at Thranduil, cheeks still rosy in embarrassment.

“Thranduil, this is not necessary. I have many dresses and tunics that are more than appropriate.”

“Yes, while that may be the case, I am king…and I say that you are in need of another, finer one.” He extended his elbow slightly, waiting for her to link her arm with his, which she did, as his son took his other hand. “What is it that you both do on your days off from lessons?” He asked the child at his side.

If the smile that Legolas had been wearing during his entire fitting could get bigger, it would have. “Ada, are you going to spend the ENTIRE day with us?” he all but yelled in pleasure. “Aye, I am. And we are going to do whatever it is that you usually do, my little Greenleaf.” The prince squealed and began racing forward, tugging both his father and Eleanor with him. “I want to go on a horse ride! Ellie and I sit in the garden mostly but a horse ride sounds so much more fun!”

The Elvenking smirked at his son’s nickname for his human mentor, thawing yet another portion of his heart. Before they both knew it, Legolas had dragged them into the stables on the other end of the palace. Eleanor and Legolas made their way to Amrún’s pen, saddling up the golden mare and leading her out into the field. Thranduil saddled up his own mount and made his way over to the as well. “Legolas, would you like to ride with me or your father today?” The human watched the young child decide in his head before pointing at her. With a smile, she helped him atop Amrún before taking her own place behind him. “Shall we?” the human inclined her head, motioning for the Elvenking to take the lead.

Thranduil kept the pace somewhat slow, leading his steed onto a well ridden path. He heard soft whispers and some giggles from behind him. Arching a brow, he leaned back slightly, trying to listen in to the conversation his son was having with the woman, but was unable to hear anything at all. Another set of giggles escaped the young boy and Thranduil could hear the soft smack as Eleanor placed a kiss to the prince’s cheek.

After a few minutes, they reached an opening in the trees, leading to a large meadow of wild flowers. As soon as they broke through the trees, Eleanor shouted at Amrún, ushering her mare forward fast. Legolas held onto the reins for dear life, laughing wildly at the same time. “Ged-ammen, Ada! Ged-ammen!” The child screamed to his father. Eleanor slowed her mare, turning her sideways to stare at the blond elf across the meadow from her.

Bain… it was the only thing running through the king’s mind as he watched the late afternoon sun shine on her chocolate locks and pale skin. Her own smile matched the one plastered to his son’s face. His tiny hands clasping tightly to Amrún’s reins, watching his father…waiting for him to make his move.

Sui cin iest.” The Elvenking made his own command to his steed in Sindarin. His mount rushed towards the other horse. Eleanor gripped the reins tightly, turning Amrún, and shouted to her mare to go faster. Running across the field, Amrún ran as fast as she could, barely maintaining the space between Thranduil’s steed and herself. Eleanor ran around a bend through the woods, emerging on the opposite side of the meadow. But she found no sign of Thranduil neither behind nor in front of her.

It was at that moment that she saw movement to her side. Amrún, not waiting for her master’s orders, bolted, giving Eleanor barely enough time to hold onto the mare and keep Legolas upright in her lap. But, as she bolted, she took a turn too quickly, sending both Eleanor and Legolas tumbling to the ground and rolling down a hill in the meadow.

Thranduil halted his steed, jumping from his saddle and rushing down to the bottom of the hill where the two had fallen. “Eleanor! Legolas! Cin eithel?” He shouted, worried for their wellbeing until he heard the fit of laughter coming from both of them.

Legolas held onto Eleanor’s tunic, trying to calm his wild laughter. The human had her arms cradled around the child, shielding him from the worst of the fall with her body. Mud streaked both of their faces and blades of grass and flower petals hung without abandon in their tangled hair. Upon seeing his father, the elfling tried to stand on wobbly legs. “Again! Again!” he practically screamed. Thranduil rushed over, picking up his son and placing a kiss to his forehead, thankful that he was alright.

Reaching down, he offered his other hand to Eleanor to help her up. “Are you both alright?” They both nodded, smiles still present. “I haven’t done that in years.” The human giggled, reaching over to Legolas to pick out the grass, flowers, and few twigs from his pale hair. Thranduil watched as the human tenderly treated his son. Such a sight she made, motherly instincts taking over when in the child’s presence. Before he could stop himself, the tall elf lowered his head, pressing his lips to her forehead and using his free hand to pull her close to him.

EWW! Dár ha, ada! Host!” The elfling tried to push his father away from Eleanor, oblivious to the reddening of the woman’s cheeks. The monarch scrunched his nose at his son, smirk creeping to his lips at the woman’s face before him. He loved it when she got flustered, it just made her all the more beautiful in his eyes with a bright blush across her cheeks.

Turning his attention back to his son, Thranduil adjusted him on his hip. “It seems I have caught you. What is my reward?” Legolas thought long and hard before his father saw the light of an idea brighten in his mind. Wiggling in his father’s arms, Legolas dropped to the ground, reaching over and gripping Eleanor’s hand. Before she could protest, he half-led half-dragged her over to a clearing with many flowers, pulling her down to whisper in her ear.

The woman’s smile grew and she nodded her head. Together, they sat on the ground near where their two horses had laid themselves down at to rest, Legolas in her lap and their backs to Thranduil. A few minutes passed before Legolas rushed to his feet, arms behind his back. Eleanor turned around slightly, watching both of them with soft eyes and a smile. When he reached his father, he pulled a large flower crown from behind him. “Surprise! Here is your award!”

While Thranduil was never one for such ornaments, one look at Eleanor’s smile and his son’s excitement had him lowering himself to take a knee. He removed his crown of vines, lowering his head enough for his son to place the crown atop his head. “How does it look? Do I still look like a king?” Legolas nodded furiously. If his smile could have engulfed his entire face, it surely would have.

The elfling ran back to Eleanor shouting in Sindarin about how his father loved it. By the time he had reached her, she had made another and placed it on his little head. “And now you both match.” Legolas let out a squeal of excitement, rushing around in a circle, overall just hyped up on excitement. Eleanor watched him play contentedly when she felt a body seat itself behind her and pull her to its chest.

“This is the happiest I have seen him in a long while.” Thranduil spoke softly beside her ear, petals from the flower crown he still wore falling in front of her face at odd intervals. “He has quite some energy.” She admitted, leaning into the elf’s chest and closing her eyes. She looked so at peace in his arms, as if she was always meant to be there.

A stray breeze blew past the pair as they watched the blond elfling play contentedly in the meadow. “Thank you for today, Thranduil. This is the happiest I have seen him in a while.” Eleanor leaned her head back against his chest, closing her eyes and just relaxing in his arms. The king held his breath, afraid that if he were to make any miniscule movement that this dream would be over. But as time passed, he realized that this was in fact reality.

The woman who had stolen his heart, made it her own, was here in his arms. The soft thumping of his heart near her ear lulled her, soothing her magnanimously. Leaning down at a snail’s pace. Thranduil placed his lips to the outer shell of her ear, pressing a soft kiss to the naked flesh he found there. “Eleanor,” his breath tickled her ear as he spoke. “Mirlythnin?” The woman groaned a little. “I’m awake, Thranduil. I’m awake.” She opened her bleary eyes, meeting with his own. The beating of his heart quickened at the sight of her face glowing in the setting sun.

“Perhaps we should head back. It is getting late.” The Elvenking suggested. At her nod, he stood, helping the woman to her feet. “Legolas, anand na glenn!” He called out to his son, who immediately ran over to him without having to be called for twice. At his call for his son, the horses also stood from where they were lounging, making their way over to the king and human, preparing for the ride back to the palace. Eleanor took her place atop Amrún before helping Thranduil lift Legolas into her lap. Once Thranduil had taken his own place atop his steed, they all began the trek back to the palace.

The sun had nearly set by the time they were home again. Taking both horses into the stables, Thranduil helped Legolas down from Amrún, situating him on his feet before helping Eleanor down as well. Two stable hands rushed forward, taking each horse’s reins and veering them into their pens where fresh hay and water awaited them. “Ada, I’m hungry.” Legolas tugged on his father’s robes slightly.

“Well then it is a good thing that dinner is waiting for you both.” A familiar voice rang out. Bericalnon stood at attention at the doorway leading into the palace. “Arannin, I must speak with you.” Thranduil laid a gentle hand against Eleanor’s lower back, ushering her forward. “I will speak after I have had dinner with my son and Eleanor. Not a moment before. Meet me in the throne room after and I will speak to you.” Eleanor held onto Legolas’ hand, guiding him past the captain of the guard and into the dining hall.

As Thranduil entered the dining hall, he found Eleanor already helping Legolas into his seat. “What would you like, henig?” She took his plate in her hand and began placing portioned servings of whatever food he pointed to onto his plate. The king took his seat at the head of the table, watching as Eleanor cared for his son.

She would be a wonderful mother herself… he thought, watching her intently, not worrying about eating. It was only when the human woman reached out and took hi plate that he was awakened from his stupor. “Thranduil? Are you alright?” She asked concerned as she served some food onto his plate for him. The woman set the full plate in front of him, placing a soft hand to his cheek. “Don’t forget to eat. You haven’t been eating well in the past few days and I want to make sure you are well.” She took her own seat, serving herself some food, and began to eat.

Once dinner was over, Thranduil excused himself from his son and Eleanor, making his way from the dining hall and to his throne room. Bericalnon, as ordered, was waiting patiently at the base of his king’s throne o speak with him. “What is it?”

“Sir, the Orcs from the West, they have amassed another small army, joining forces with Orcs in the North. We have stalled them, but I fear their numbers may be too great. Perhaps we should not fulfill the festival this season.”

“Double the guards at the borders. It is already far too late, as the festival is less than a week away. Already, we have emissaries from across the land sheltered here. If we cannot hold our borders from a simple band of Orcs, how can we be taken seriously as a great kingdom?”

“Aye, arannin. As you wish.”

“Take heed, mellon. Alert me of any changes.”

Trusting in his captain and advisor, Thranduil left the raven-haired elf in the throne room and marched his way to his son’s chambers. Arriving at the door, he pushed it open and found the main room empty, but his son’s laughter could be heard from a far room. A soft light from a flickering candle lit the washroom, a sliver of its light creeping into the main room from the slightly ajar door. Thranduil strode over to the door and knocked on the wood beside it. “Shh. Wait here and don’t move.” He heard Eleanor tell his son. “It’s just me. May I enter?” the Elvenking quickly responded.

Ada! Ada!” Legolas squealed, a loud splash occurring. Taking that as a yes, Thranduil entered, instantly being caught off guard by the sight before him.

Eleanor was kneeling in one of her long white nightdresses beside the large tub, the portion from her mid-thigh down soaked and opaque. Wet spots across her chest, no doubt from Legolas splashing her like he liked to do, exposed the soft blush of flesh underneath a thin sheet of cloth. In her hand she held a washcloth, using it to gently bath the elfling’s back while he played with pieces of buoyant wood but into the shape of a duck and frog.

Lend Iluvatar… I adaneth…

Ada thír!” the elfling lowed half of his face into the warm water, blowing fast and hard. Bubbles erupted around him, splashing more water onto the helpless woman at his side. “Ah, Legolas!” she raised her hands in a vain attempt to stop the water from splashing onto her. With another set of giggles, he surfaced, apologizing for getting her wet once again. “Alright, alright. Are you finished playing now?”

The elfling nodded. The human woman stood, reaching behind her for a large towel. Thranduil stepped forward, lifting his son from the tub and onto the floor. Eleanor wrapped the towel around the child, rubbing his body gently to dry him. “Thranduil, can you go and bring me his clothes? I think I left them out on the bed.” Nodding, the elder elf did as she had asked, returning with his son’s sleep clothes.

Together, the blond elf and human woman dried and clothed Legolas. Once his hair was combed free of tangles, Eleanor ushered the child into bed. Thranduil took a spot on the other side of his son, stroking his head softly as the woman sung the child to sleep. Within minutes, the worn out elfling was fast asleep. Quiet as mice, the remaining two tip-toed out of the room, shutting the door softly behind them. It was only after Thranduil had walked Eleanor to her own room that they felt it was safe to finally speak.

“Thank you for today, Thranduil. Legolas had such a wonderful time.” The woman looked up at the monarch angelically.

“And did you?” One of his hands reached up to cup her cheek.

“Aye, I did. Thank you for asking.” Thranduil could feel the heat rising in her cheeks long before she lowered her gaze from him.

Such innocence, such purity and beauty, he mused, thumb stroking the soft rosy flesh of her cheek. “Eleanor, I have something I wish to speak with you about.” Nodding her head, Eleanor looked around for a moment. “May we speak in my room? It is more private there.” Nodding his own head, he let her lead the way, closing the door behind him.

Túrin had done an impeccable job of sorting the room. Looking around, he could see some of Legolas’ toys and clothes neatly piled in an opened chest. The child loved to spend time with Eleanor, making himself at home anywhere, not that she minded it one little bit.

“What was it that you wished to speak with me about?”

The glow from the lit fireplace illuminated her face, making her flesh seem rosier than it was in the hallway. Thranduil took a few steps closer to her, his boots clicking softly against the wooden floors.

“Eleanor, mirlythnin…I wish to court you, if you would allow me to do so.”

The world seemed to stop in that instant, no sound coming even from the fire she knew had to be crackling. Court…me…? An even more furious blush crossed her cheeks, staining them red. She was shaken from her own swirling thoughts by two calloused hands grasping her face, thumbs stroking across her cheeks. At the sound of her name coming from his lips, the human finally lifted her gaze from the floor, chocolate irises meeting the icy grey ones of the king.

“Why me? I…I’m…I’m nothing special.” Her words came out in a whisper so soft she didn’t think he heard her. But his elf ears picked up every syllable that left her lips.

“You have a heart like none I have seen. You treat everyone with respect, even when none is given to you. Since I lost Eärwen…my heart has been iced. But you are thawing it. You are making me feel as if this life that has been given to me is worth it. I would rather die tomorrow than go a day without having ever met you, Eleanor.”

He kissed the top of her head gently, pulling her to his chest. “If you would have me, I wish to make you the happiest maiden across all Middle-Earth.”

“But I am mortal…” She tried to lower her gaze once more.

“That matters not to me. Your happiness is paramount in my eyes.” He lifted her face, again meeting her gaze. “So…will you allow me to court you, Lady Eleanor?”

His eyes watched her carefully, waiting patiently for her answer. Regardless of what she chose, he would still care for her, love her from afar, protect her. His heart hammered in his chest, causing pain to his chest. It felt as if it would break through his rib cage as she finally gave her answer in a breathy, dazed reply.

“Yes, Thranduil, you may court me.”

Chapter Text

The days went on leading up to the coming festival, Tarnin Austa. The Midsummer’s Day festivities had led to an influx of elves from across Middle Earth, in turn leading to a lot of work for both Eleanor and Thranduil.

The king himself was currently busy listening to one of the Rivendell elves discuss the precautions that they deemed necessary for the following evening. “My lord Elrond will be arriving in only a few short hours. I think it would be wise to set up some of our own guard at the borders as well. To ensure the safety of those in attendance.”

“Lindir, I can assure you, mellon, that there is no need. My guard are some of the finest in all the land. They will do the job just fine. Lord Elrond will be quite safe within the walls of my city.”

“And outside the city limits? On the roads leading in?”

“Just as safe. I can assure you.” The monarch inclined his head to the raven-haired ambassador. Recently, they had not had any more trouble coming from either of the orc groups that lingered at the outskirts of the Mirkwood borders, which was very odd and concerning given the fact that they had previously been attempting to gain entry into their borders. It would seem that something much bigger that a simple raid was afoot. The only problem was that Thranduil could not figure out just what their plan was.

Lindir nodded his head in affirmation. “I will take your word for it then. On to another matter, how is the Lady Eleanor? Lords Elladan and Elrohir and Lady Arwen speak very highly of her.” Thranduil tried to keep his face impassive, but even he could not stop the smile from crossing his face as he thought of the woman he was now courting.

Although they had only been courting for a few short days, it felt like forever to him. Every morning, they would meet for breakfast and every night they would do the same for dinner. Afterwards, they would often play together with Legolas in his room. Like how a true family should, he would often muse to himself during such times. As of right now, she was most likely in the garden playing with the four children as she had done when it was once just her and Legolas.

“I am sure she will appreciate you saying that. She is well and I thank you for inquiring about her wellbeing. In fact, I think it is time that we return to the young lords and lady, don’t you think?” Lindir nodded his head, standing once Thranduil himself had stood. Together, the two elven men made their way towards the vast gardens. Where there was once only a few shrubs was now a plethora of wild flowers, all planted on orders of the blond-haired king specifically for the child of Men.

There were still all of the brunnera bushes that had been planted at the beginning of her stay, but now there were many, many more varieties of both flowering flora as well as bushes and trees that bore succulent fruits common to Men.  Rose bushes in nearly every colour imaginable and some in between littered the pathways towards the main garden area. Morning glory and moon flower draped trellises created blooming archways under which the elven men now walked towards the sound of laughter.

On each side of them stood tall fruit trees bearing apples, pomegranates, lemons, peaches, and a few fruits that were only native to the forest of Mirkwood. The bushes underneath them were packed with fruits like cherries and blueberries. As he walked, Thranduil found himself thinking about the day he had all of these planted. Eleanor’s eyes had lit up in joy, her tiny nose scrunching up as her smile spread from ear to ear. “Thank you thank you thank you!” She had cried as she hugged him. Thranduil had explained the customs of courting amongst elves to her once, now stating that all of this was one of her many courting gifts from him. Nowadays, you could find both her and Legolas outside almost every day, playing among the sweet smelling air and eating fresh fruit from the plants whenever they had gotten hungry. In fact, as the elven males rounded the corner into the centre of the garden, that is exactly what they saw.

Eleanor was seated underneath one lager oak tree, all four children sitting around her. All of the children held some sort of fruit in their hands that they were happily munching on, talking excitedly in elvish about what they had planned to do after their snack. The woman herself sat with her cerulean dress around her; a few extra pieces of fruit for the children curled in the folds of her skirts waiting for one of them to grab another piece. If one did not already know that she was a mortal Man before, then they would easily mistake her for an elf. Especially when she left her hair long to cover her ears. In Thranduil’s mind, she was as lovely as any elven maiden, more so even. She sat smiling at the children, listening to them speak and responding to the best of her abilities in elvish, but often switching back to the common tongue for more difficult words she did not yet know.

“Well, it would seem that you all are having a wonderful time.” Thranduil stated, announcing his presence to the group. Legolas immediately let out a thrilled “ada!” before rushing to leap into his father’s arms. “We were just taking a small snack break after playing a vigorous game of tag. Would you like to join us for the next game, Thranduil?” Lindir raised his brow at the informal way the human addressed the king despite them being together, but he said nothing. Thranduil shook his head at her offer.

“I am afraid that I have some other business to attend to with Lindir. We were just coming out to check on you and make sure that you were all well.” His eyes scanned the garden, noting with relief that every guard he had placed was still where they were requested. Out of sight to the human and the children, but still within reach should anything happen. Eleanor hated feeling like a prisoner with guards constantly following her around, but the pale king knew the dangers that lurked in the forests. Not just orcs, but other beats as well that were as deadly as any other. Thankfully, he had not had to deal with any dangers for many days, but with that same sense of relief came a sense of uneasiness and a feeling that something soul would happen at any moment.

A small smile graced her features in understanding. “I understand. The children and I are going to stay outside for a while longer and then head in at dinner. Is that okay?” Thranduil nodded his head. She still had a habit of asking him permission before doing anything even though he had often stated that she was free to roam inside his palace wherever she may wish to go. It was only when venturing outside of the palace borders that he wished for her to have a guarded escort, but even then she did not show any interest in leaving without him at her side.

Lindir stood from his position beside the children of Elrond, listening intently to them speak about whatever games they had played that day. The twins reached for another piece of fruit, much to Lindir’s disapproval as he stated that they would ruin their appetite for dinner if they continued to eat the sweet fruits. Thranduil set down Legolas so he could return to the human’s side. “Shall we continue our business, mellon?” He spoke to the ambassador. Lindir nodded, excusing himself from the woman and elflings before following after the Silvan elf.

Once both elves had left the earshot of the younger elves and the human, they resumed speaking to each other. “It would seem that the children have grown quite fond of your lover in their time here.” The ambassador from Rivendell spoke with a smile. He could not help but to profess that he had grown quite fond of her as well. Thranduil thanked him for his sentiment towards you, pleased that everyone who encountered you was enamored of you. Well, nearly everyone. He was still dealing with Lord Arphenion and his own twin sons who had deemed it fit to insult you time and time again. But Thranduil had not heard from the lord in many months nor of his sons who had often played with Legolas on their visits. In fact, he was not sure if all three of them were attending the festival tomorrow night or not. Only time would tell, but that still did not quell his suspicions surrounding the elven man.

Together, the two lords walked through the palace of Mirkwood, discussing every doubt that Lindir had about the festival with Thranduil answering just as well as he could. This went on until the sun had begun to descend, colouring the sky a brilliant pink and orange hue. Lindir and Thranduil stood at attention, waiting patiently for the arrival of Lord Elrond, who was due at any moment. Eleanor and the children had already gone inside to wash up before they would meet them at the dining hall for dinner.

After a few short minutes of waiting, the sound of thundering hooves alerted the elven men to the arrival of their long awaited guest and the rest of the entourage from Rivendell. “Welcome, Lord Elrond.” Lindir bowed his head as he waited for the lord of Rivendell to dismount. “Mae govannen, mellon. It has been too long since last we met.”

“Indeed. It has been far too long. Come, the others are waiting inside.” Thranduil turned, leading the way back inside his palace and towards the smell of cooked foods. As they entered, all three of them were pleasantly surprised at the behaviour of the children when with their new caretaker. The four children were seated, talking amongst each other in wait of the other adults. Eleanor stood beside all four of them, watching carefully to make sure they behaved well. As the males entered the room, all of the children smiled widely at their respective parents, who all smiled back before taking their own seats. Eleanor bowed to Lord Elrond as she had been shown by Thranduil before taking her own seat beside the prince of Mirkwood.

From their end of the table, Elrond and Thranduil watched as Eleanor helped to serve each of the children alongside Lindir before serving herself. “You never told me that you had found another maiden to court. It is rare to find an elven maiden as lovely.” Thranduil couldn’t help but let out a small laugh as he took a sip of his wine. “What is so funny? Have I said something wrong?” Elrond tilted his head in question at the Elvenking.

“On the contrary, your statement is correct. I would never find another elven maiden as lovely, and that is because she is of the race of Men.” Thranduil took another sip of his wine, his eyes not lifting from the rim of his cup. Elrond gave a small, knowing smile. “Regardless, I am happy for you. It is good to see you smile again after Eärwen. But I must ask, how are your subjects taking this news?”

Elrond meant no harm, he only wished to keep Eleanor safe from harm, but Thranduil honestly felt a shiver of fear run up his spine at the thought of any of his subjects finding out aside from a trusted few. “They do not know. I have not told them yet. I had planned to do so after the festival.”

“And will she be accompanying you? Or is she to remain in her rooms?”

“She will be at my side. I will not lose another...” the Silvan elf took a long gulp of his wine, draining the cup before motioning a servant to refill it and the others’ own cups.

Eleanor watched from across the table, unable to hear a single word of their conversation overtop the noises the children were making. Lindir remained silent, eating his own meal and helping the young Arwen to cut hers into bite-sized pieces she could feed to herself. But the looks on Thranduil’s face told her she was deep in thought, which was only accented by him downing his near full goblet in one swig. She knew that he drank, heavily at times, but never like this.

Soon enough, their dinner ended. Elrond, his children, and Lindir were all escorted to their respective rooms down the hall from Thranduil and Legolas. Eleanor took Legolas’ hand, leading him to his room while his father walked two paces behind them. “Ellie, can you read to me tonight? Or sing me a song like you used to? You haven’t done that in a while” The woman nodded her head. “Anything for you, little one.”

As they reached his room, the two servants that stood guard opened the doors for the trio, allowing them inside. Thranduil stayed back towards the now closed doors, watching as the woman helped his son wash his face and then dress him for bed. Legolas climbed into his bed, waiting with tired, but joyful, eyes as his father sat to one side of him on the bed with Eleanor on the other.

Gently, Eleanor ran her fingers through the prince’s straight locks, detangling them and lulling him as she began to sing.

Kuwata tsunowo vralai

Tsuriji pufuralekai

Kwondzuvai undovartsu wronduwail

Tjortetei jeki liago

 

Jiunmata ivelischpfuli

Neftyoma soepiyamei

Schijiyako alefni fatalililiya

Nic’hpisfa unhoreselye

 

Otrajain aforeje kurasolda

Towari hatasei mic’hatasei tsufrallai

Otrajain aforeje kurasolda

Towari hatasei mic’hatasei tsufrallai ilja

Ullilya kojijichatjukaijai-wa

Nyame fresumekri fretsumekri linganmai

Ulrei manja huteharraku-me

Haririch lahadachfei lahadachfei shindulhwo

 

Otrajain aforeje kurasolda

Towari hatasei mic’hatasei tsufrallai

Otrajain aforeje kurasolda

Towari hatasei mic’hatasei tsufrallai ilja

 

As she finished her song, Eleanor glanced down, noticing that the child was fast asleep. She leant down, kissing the top of his head as she tucked him in. Quietly, she crept out of the room, being followed closely behind by Thranduil. Together they made their way towards her room, as was their usual routine. After laying down Legolas to sleep, Thranduil would always walk her to her room before bidding her good night.

“Would…Would you like to come in?” her cheeks became rosy; she hung her head, avoiding eye contact.

Thranduil lifted her gaze with a finger to her chin. “Is that what you wish for?” She could only nod, not trusting her voice to speak. Without another word, Thranduil opened the doors to her room, allowing her inside before following and closing the door. Eleanor stood in the centre of the room, arms wrapped around her waist.

“What is it? You have something you wish to tell me.” It was more of a statement directed at her rather than a question. Thranduil stepped up to the woman, stroking a hand across her cheek and into her hair.

“Are you ashamed of me?”

Her voice was so small, much smaller than he had ever heard it, which instantly worried the normally icy king.

“Why would you ever think such a thing?” Eleanor shrugged slightly, lowering her head again.

“I’m not an elf…I cannot even begin to be like your people…and they don’t even want me here.”

“It matters little what they think. I want you here and so does my son. That is all that matters. And tomorrow night, at Tarnin Austa, I will declare my love for you to all of them. I will show all of them that you are to be their new Queen. That you are to be respected as if you were elven.”

He brushed hair back from her face, stroking downward to her chin and lifting it so he could gaze into her eyes.

Le melin, mirlythnin. And I always will. You have warmed my cold heart, and I am thankful for that.”

Eleanor opened her mouth to protest, but was silenced by the softness of his lips on hers.

She closed her eyes, melting into his series of kisses that trailed from her lips, to her cheeks, and finally to her forehead. “I will be back tomorrow, but now you must sleep. It has been a long day and I fear that tomorrow will be even longer.” But as he went to move away, he was stopped by two thin arms wrapped tightly around his waist and a face being pressed to his chest

“Could…Could you…umm…” He could practically feel the heat radiating from her neck and face.

“You wish for me to stay?” She only nodded, squeezing him tighter around his waist. “Very well. I will stay for the night.”

Eleanor released her grip on his waist, gently tugging Thranduil towards the bed. He tried to keep the shocked look from his face as she nudged him to sit on the bed and stood before him. Another, fiercer blush was staining the entirety of her cheeks and chest, making her seem even more beautiful to him than he thought she already was.

Hesitantly, she took a step forward. Licking her suddenly dry lips, she leant down and placed a kiss against his lips. Her movements were shaky, as if she were afraid she was going to do the wrong thing. Thranduil did not move, allowing her to take her time and go as far as she was comfortable. He would ever have even thought about forcing her into anything. The beauty before him took her time kissing his lips many times before moving to straddle him slightly on the bed.

The Elvenking leaned back onto the bed, giving the woman more space to sit herself upon his lap and lower abdomen. He could practically feel the heat rushing across her body, the blush now spreading to cover her exposed neck. Pale, icy orbs watched in complete adoration as she leaned herself up to look at him. One of her hands rested upon his clothed chest, the other beside his head on the bed to support her weight. Thranduil placed both of his hands onto her hips, needing something to hold onto to ground himself from all of the sensations and emotions running through his system.

“I…I’m...is this okay?” her voice quavered, her brown, doe-like eyes staring down at him with her unbraided hair beginning to fall like a curtain around their faces.

Valar yes… he wanted to breathe out, but all that left him was a nod, too lost in her beauty and pure emotion to be able to make a coherent statement. Eleanor nodded her head once, worrying her lip a little before Thranduil himself reached a hand up to cup her face, his calloused thumb moving towards her mouth and urging her to release her flesh. Slowly, he stroked the pad of his thumb across the reddened skin. Eleanor stared down at the king underneath her, her blown pupils beginning to match his own. Before she could think better of it, she flicked her tongue out, lapping at the monarch’s thumb, before having it retreat back into her mouth.

Thranduil let out a soft groan, his grip increasing slightly against her hip. “Le melin…” he breathed out and pulled her face down to kiss her once more. Never, not even with his wife, had he felt this much emotion for a female. Yes, he had loved his wife, but for some reason he felt like he had transcended when he was with Eleanor. He snaked his own tongue out, lapping at her sensitive lower lip, begging for entrance that she obliged to him with a small whimper of pleasure.

Not breaking the kiss, the elf rolled the both of them over so she was now underneath him. His hand on her hip stroking up and down her side over her clothes. The hand on her cheek remaining against her heated flesh. After another few moments and kisses, he broke away, leaning his head up to look the woman in the face. “What is it that you want, Eleanor?”

Her hooded eyes met his own, so blown with desire that she could barely think of anything else.

“You,” she let out breathily. “I want you. Please?”

His heart soared at her words. Happy to oblige her request, Thranduil moved the hand on her hip across the clothed planes of her stomach, delighting in the shivers he caused to run through her body, until finally resting on the laces on the front of her dress.

“Tell me at any time to stop and I will, do you understand?” his voice was stern at the same time as being caring. He wanted her to understand that she was not bound to anything with him. If she did not want to go any further after she was bared to him, then so be it. He would never force her.

At her nod and a softly spoken “yes”, the king set about tugging on the laces, loosening her dress bit by bit until he was able to pull the deep blue fabric from her body. Left in only a small white shift, Eleanor began to feel a little self-conscious, which only increased as she watched Thranduil sit up onto his knees to remove his own robe and tunic. His pale flesh, although scarred heavily, was chiseled as if made by every manner of gods to be the perfect being.

Pale arms came to cover her own chest, much to the elf’s confusion. Raising one dark brow, he reached out, pulling her arms from covering her body. “You are beautiful…do not feel as though you have to hide from me.” To accentuate his point and devotion for her, the king leant forward to place a searing kiss against her exposed collarbone. A soft moan left her lips before she could stop it, deepening her blush. She could feel her lover smirk against her flesh as he began to tail his kisses lower until he was pressing loving kisses against her thighs, the fabric of her shift hiking up slightly. With another smirk, Thranduil bunched up the fabric, helping the woman to sit up so he could pull the material from her body completely and throw it onto the floor with the growing pile of discarded clothing.

With her chest completely bare to his gaze, the Elvenking swallowed hard. Soft, supple, milky flesh greeted him. Her plump pert breasts left his mouth watering for a taste. Kissing his way up her stomach and ribs, he gently took one of the pink buds into his mouth, relishing in the moan he elicited from the woman. Her back arched and her hands instantly moved to tangle in his waist length hair, fingernails scrapping lightly against his scalp in pleasure.

“Did you like that, little one?” he smirked at her nod, her body being overrun with newfound pleasures to the point she could no longer form coherent speech.

After laving the peak to stiffness, he moved his head to the other side, repeating the blissful sensation until the same result was reached. With one of his hands, he trailed down her skin, towards the growing heat at her centre. One long finger stroked her sensitive flesh gently, causing her to flinch slightly in alarm.

“Shh. It’s alright.” Thranduil pressed his lips to her temple, trying to calm her. “I will be as gentle as I can be, but I need you to relax for me. Okay? I will not take you fully tonight, sweetling.”

Eleanor nodded her head, taking a deep breath to calm her racing nerves. Never had she been touched like this before. All of the sensations were foreign to her and her body did not know how to feel about them yet. Again, his fingers began to move against her slickening entrance, moving in soft, slow strokes. Mewls of pleasure left her mouth, much to Thranduil’s own pleasure. Already he could feel a straining against the fabric of his trousers. Ignoring his own body, he gazed down at the woman in adoration. Placing a kiss against her lips, he slipped one finger inside of her.

Eleanor’s hands clenched around his arms at the intrusion. It did not hurt, but merely felt strange to her. Against Thranduil, it felt like heaven. He could only imagine how it would feel when he took her for the first time. Moving the finger in and out of her entrance, he began to curl the appendage, hitting a spot inside of her that left her writhing underneath him. “That’s it…just relax.” His voice soothed her nerves, even as he added a second finger inside of her, allowing pleasure to flow like an opened dam through her. A strange coiling started in her abdomen, forcing her breath to become laboured.

“You’re doing beautifully, little one.” The thumb of the assaulting hand brushed against her swollen pearl, a shock of pleasure surging down her spine. Curling his fingers further inside of her, Thranduil could tell that she would not last much longer. He increased his movements and kissed her harder, slipping his tongue into her mouth again. Eleanor’s hands moved to press against his back, leaving scratches against the skin as she tried to ground herself against the onslaught of feelings.

Thranduil could feel her clenching around his fingers now. He broke off the kiss, instead moving to kiss at her neck. “Let go, Eleanor...” He spoke against her throat. At that moment, Eleanor felt an entirely different type of dam break from within her. Crying out the monarch’s name, she felt herself release all over his fingers. Her fingers remained embedded in his back, leaving painful half-moon divots, as she came down from her high. Thranduil smiled lazily at his lover, ignoring the slight pain he felt in his back.

The woman turned her head to look at the elf male, her eyes already beginning to close from exhaustion. Removing his hand from her entrance gently, wiping it on the fabric of his trousers, he cradled her body to his chest, scooting up the bed to place her head on one of the pillows. “Go to sleep, mirlythnin.” Nodding her head, she curled into his chest, one arm wrapped around his waist, and closed her eyes. Within a few minutes, Thranduil could hear the even breathing, denoting that she was fast asleep. Closing his own eyes, he nuzzled his face on the top of her head, pressing light kisses against her scalp.

Tomorrow was another day and the night was going to be even more eventful with the festival. But for now, he was content just to fall asleep in the arms of the woman he loved. And that is exactly what he did.