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The Drunken King

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His adar was not always a drunkard. Legolas remembers a time before, when his adar was kind and cheerful and danced with Legolas on his shoulders. A time where Thranduil need not be prompted to show his love. When he would randomly sweep his wife into his arms and spin her around in the air. A time when he looked down at his son and regarded him with love and affection, instead of that cold confusion that Legolas now receives. Legolas remembered a time when his adar would card his hands through Legolas' hair, because he loved how much he looked like his naneth. Legolas remembered when his adar would allow him to braid all three of their hair together in one braid, just because he liked how Thranduil's platinum hair mixed with his naneth's - and his own - black as night hair.

 

But that was before. It was a normal trip, going to Lothlorien to visit Celeborn and Galadriel. They shouldn't have run into any trouble. they should have been fine. But Legolas ran off. He knew he wasn't supposed to, but he saw something. If you asked him years later, he would not be able to tell you what it was that he saw, or why he found it important enough to chase after it. But he did, and then all he knew was fire and screaming and blackness. He was unconscious for some time, and when he woke up he was in Imladris and Elladan and Elrohir - whom were several hundred years older than him - would not allow him to see his adar and naneth. But he could hear screaming coming from their usual rooms, and Legolas wished with all his heart to break away from Elladan and Elrohir and run to his adar, who was clearly the one screaming.

 

Legolas didn't understand death. He didn't understand how his naneth just... couldn't be there any more. He was confused, and nobody helped him. Years later, he's still confused. Because Mithrandir died and came back, so did Estel, and Merry, and Pippin, so why weren't Boromir and his naneth coming back? But when he was younger he was even more confused, because suddenly his naneth wasn't there. Suddenly, when he had a nightmare and screamed into the night as he so often did, neither his naneth nor adar came running to his room. Most often, it was Elladan and Elrohir. Even after they returned to Greenwood, Elladan and Elrohir returned with them. Legolas wasn't sure why, but he liked having the older elves with him. They had dark hair, like he did, so a braid of all their hair didn't look quite as good as it did with naneth and adar, but he still liked doing it. But Legolas was sad. Because his naneth no longer sang to him and gave him his lessons. She no longer instructed him on how to make his voice perfect. His adar no longer gave him lessons on archery, and Legolas had to teach himself because Elladan and Elrohir preferred knives.

 

And then the drinking started. It started simply enough, a single goblet to get him through one meeting, or maybe two for another. But it got worse. Soon, Thranduil was drinking five bottles a day, maybe more. Legolas didn't fault him. Because when his adar didn't drink all day, pain filled screams would echo throughout Greenwood, and he would be tired. He would sluggishly make his way through the castle. But the drinking helped. It helped to numb the pain, Legolas assumed. Helped to numb the fact that his naneth was dead and that darkness was spreading throughout Greenwood. Legolas could feel the pain, as well. That was to be expected. Legolas had never been quite clear on the history, but he knew that the royal family's fea were connected to Greenwood. The health of the forest was the health of the king. Legolas knew the pain to be much worse for his father.

 

Thranduil drank a lot. Not enough to be called a drunk, not yet, but enough for him to constantly be drunk. Legolas hated when his father was sober. Because he was angry and in pain and yelled so much. And it scared Legolas. His adar scared him. There was something Thranduil was hiding from Legolas. Legolas could tell. Something in the way his face was always turnt ever so slightly to hide the left side of his face. Legolas didn't know why. His adar was handsome. The picture of perfection. He didn't understand why Thranduil would hide his face.

 

Legolas found out one night. Thranduil was drunk, far drunker than usual. And he was angry, an angry sort of drunk that usually he only ever achieved when sober. The servants were too afraid to go near their king, scared to be caught in the cross hairs of his anger. Legolas was scared, too, but he couldn't show it. His adar was surrounded by bottles and bottles of wine. Legolas took a deep breath and marched towards his father.

 

'Adar,' Legolas said, his voice soft, 'Adar, stop. You must come to bed, now. You are tired. It is time for bed.' Thranduil said nothing, in fact he continued his rage and gave no indication he had heard his son speaking to him, 'Adar, come to bed. This is most unbecoming.'

 

The slap seemed to echo throughout the entirety of Greenwood.

 

'Adar...?' Legolas' voice came out much more scared and hurt than he had intended. He wanted to be strong and confident for his father. However, it seemed his fear worked in his favour, as Thranduil froze, the bottle of wine he held in his hand fell to the floor and shatter. A piece bounced up from the floor and cut Legolas' cheek. Blood and wine leaked from the prince's fair face. Thranduil kneeled and came towards his son. Legolas, retaining his position on the floor, scrambled backwards and away from his father.

 

'Legolas? Tithen las?' Thranduil said, still coming closer to the young prince. Thranduil lunged forward and Legolas cried out in fear, but it was not needed. The king swept his son into his arms and held him close, 'I am sorry. I did not... I would never...' Thranduil choked out a sob, and Legolas felt something wrong where his adar's cheek pressed against his own, 'Adar loves you, Legolas. Adar loves you so much and I will never hurt you again, I am so sorry. I am so, so, sorry. It is all right, little love. I have got you. I am sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.' Thranduil continued in that way, sobbing apologies into Legolas' shoulder. Legolas didn't know what his adar was apologizing. It seemed hours later that Thranduil pulled back from Legolas, and the prince didn't even gasp. He saw the hideous scar on his adar's face, but he wasn't scared. He didn't know why he was ever afraid of his adar.

 

'Adar, I love you. I love you, ada,' Legolas said, looking his father straight in the eye.

 

Legolas slept with his father, then. Thranduil had always hated not having someone else in bed. It had been his wife, for the longest time. They would just hold each other. Keep each other warm in the cold Greenwood nights. Thranduil felt the loss of his wife even more strongly at night, when half his bed was empty. So Legolas stayed there. He slept on the same side his mother used to inhabit. He still used his room, but his bed slowly gathered dust as he lay in bed with his father. There were nights when Legolas was afraid to go to bed, because earlier his adar had sobbed about how the sent of his naneth was leaving the pillows and sheets. But then his adar would toss and turn and Legolas would crawl into bed and slip into his adar's arms as he sobbed. Even when Legolas and Thranduil left for the other elf realms or the realms of man, Legolas slept with his father. He had gotten used his father's warmth beside him, to waking up from a nightmare to find his father's arms already wrapped safely around him, holding him close. He had gotten used to falling asleep to the combined glow of himself and his father.

 

Legolas was unused to sleeping alone. He had not slept alone since he was very, very young, and Elladan and Elrohir were aware of this. They did not mind, so when Legolas went to the Council of Elrond, they allowed him to sleep in their beds. Some nights he would spend the night with Elladan, other nights with Elrohir. There was nothing bad about it, they merely shared a bed. And the twins, unlike other elves, never complained of how Legolas perpetually smelt of wine. They told him why Galadriel didn't come to the council. They told him how she insulted his father, called him a drunk. But Legolas just laughed. Because she had never seen what his father had. She had the protection of a ring. She need not face the darkness her king did. Legolas doesn't stay for the full council. He was to go to Imladris, deliver his news to Elrond, and return home. He doesn't stay to hear the decision of the council.

 

Aragorn knows much of Legolas and his family. He was young when he first met Legolas, and Legolas appeared much the same as he does now. Aragorn had thought him the queen, at first. But he knew better, now, that while Legolas acted as a sort of queen to his people, he was nothing more than their prince and their friend. The Fellowship, as it had been named, was traveling first to Mirkwood, called Greenwood in years passed, in order to meet with their actual elven companion. Elladan and Elrohir only came along to guide them.

 

'Who is our real elven companion, if you're not?' Pippin asked.

 

'You will meet him soon enough,' Elladan answered.

 

'Hark!' Elrohir called, 'Hear him sing now!' Aragorn smiled, and beckoned the Fellowship behind him.

 

Aragorn had always thought Legolas a ghostly figure. His black as night hair would curl delicately against snow white skin, a silver glow constantly emanating from his form. Were Legolas not so beautiful, he would be a horrific sight. Indeed, were he a man and not an elf he would surely be mistaken for a revenant. As it was, Legolas was an elf and so his beauty saved him from any horror one might feel at his appearance, though he might still strike fear into the hearts of men with a glare.

 

'Legolas! Tithen las, are you well?' Elladan called, striding into the clearing. Legolas turnt on his heel, the train of his robes forming a circle around him. A strand of his hair fell over his face, and the prince blew it out of his face, annoyed.

 

'Elladan! I am well, you?' Legolas responded, shocking the Fellowship in that he could tell the difference between the two. Aragorn wrinkled his nose, and he could see the other members of the Fellowship do it, too. Legolas smelt of wine. He always did, and one would think Aragorn would be used to it, by now.

 

'You were the elf at the council,' Sam burst out. Legolas looked down at the little hobbit and laughed.

 

'Indeed, I was. I returnt home before it ended. But I see that you all have been chosen to deliver the ring to Mordor. Elladan, Elrohir, what possessed your adar to send you two for this?' Legolas responded.

 

'Actually, ada thought it best to send you,' said Elrohir.

 

'Indeed? How kind of him. Alas, alas, I cannot go. My own adar has need of me here,' Legolas said, adjusting his robes so he could walk with the Fellowship to the castle.

 

'Little one, you are the only one whom can do this,' Gandalf said, 'If we destroy the ring, Sauron will die. The darkness will end.' At this, Legolas' ears perked up.

 

'If the darkness ends, then my adar will be healed, yes?' Legolas asked.

 

'Indeed,' Gandalf said.

 

'Then I will accompany you on this journey. I will inform my adar,' Legolas said, walking swiftly.

 

The Fellowship's stay in Mirkwood lasted no longer than a week, but while they were there they were treated as kings. Pippin in particular seemed to enjoy it greatly. There was almost no time for Legolas to actually speak with the Fellowship, as he was almost always in his adar's company and did not wish to distress his adar any further by discussing the specifics of the mission in front of him. Thranduil was tired. Aragorn could tell. Thranduil was tired and hurting, and did not wish to see his son leave him. Aragorn did not wish to deprive the king of one of the only comforts that remained to him.

 

'Legolas, are you ready?' Gandalf asked, on the last day of their stay. Legolas smiled and leant down to his father, pressing his lips to the left side of his father's face and whispering assurances of his return.

 

'Goodbye, little love. I will see you soon,' Thranduil said, as noble as could be. Though Aragorn could see how he swayed in his seat and could smell the alcohol from where he stood. He had no doubt the others could, too.

 

Legolas is not fond of Lothlorien. He has never been fond of the pretentiousness of the forest. Flaunting beauty that it only has because it was deemed supposedly "worthy" of the protection of a ring. The one good thing that Legolas can find from their visit to Lothlorien, is that he is permitted to see Celeborn, whom Legolas had not seen for quite some time. Haldir is a plus, as well.

 

'Legolas!' Haldir called out to him on their first night, 'You are well, I hope?'

 

'Indeed, Haldir, and you?' Legolas responded.

 

'Indeed, thank you for your concern! It has been too long, how is your adar?' Haldir said.

 

'Oh,' Legolas looked down, 'He is not well. I fear he is becoming worse.'

 

'I am sorry to hear that, meleth nin. But, if your quest is successful, he will be healed, no?' Haldir asked.

 

'Indeed, he will. I just hope that he is able to live without me in that time,' Legolas said. Haldir laughed, looking from their position in a tree to where the Fellowship camped.

 

'It seems lucky, then, that you have the very essence of hope with you,' Haldir said, his gaze settling on Aragorn.

 

'Indeed it does, but I have never had the much luck. 'Tis not something the Valar deemed fit to gift me with,' Legolas answered.

 

'You smell of wine, meleth nin. Come. We will bathe.' Haldir walked off, and Legolas followed behind him.

 

Legolas was glad to be met, not with a bath of water, but one of milk. 'Twas not something he had experienced since he left Greenwood, and it was much appreciated. For the milk eased his aches and, when mixed with honey, was much better at alleviating the scent of licquer than water. The fact that it helped with the softness of his skin and the volume of his hair, was something Legolas neglected to tell those that elected to ask why he preferred that type of bath. Legolas waisted no time in stripping himself of his clothes and climbing into the bath, but he tarried long for it was relaxing and helped him to calm his nerves after the loss of Gandalf. Haldir was less excited, but Legolas eventually convince the older elf to join him.

 

'That was inappropriate,' Haldir commented as the two stood just outside of the Fellowship's camp, Legolas now clothed in the proper clothing of an elven prince.

 

'I cannot see why, we did nothing but bathe together,' Legolas said.

 

'You are a prince, and I a simple guard,' Haldir said. Legolas laughed and turnt to the older elf, stringing his arms around Haldir's neck and pulling him over so his own back was against a tree.

 

'We could do something inappropriate, if you would like,' Legolas laughed, his eyes teasing as he gazed up at Haldir through half lidded eyes.

 

'You are ridiculously inappropriate, Legolas,' Haldir said, leaning down to gently plant a kiss on the younger's lips.

 

'I do not see why he does not just let himself fade away. He is a terrible king, and a drunkard. His son would be a much better king.' Legolas' smile froze against Haldir's lips, his ears perking up. No names were said, but he knew exactly who the elf was speaking of.

 

'Legolas?' Haldir breathed, their lips still pressed together, 'Do not. If you respond, it will only prove them right. Act as if you have nothing to defend, they will be proven wrong.'

 

'He is their king. They owe him their allegiance,' Legolas said, a growl in his words.

 

'There are many like them, Legolas. Do not listen to their false words. They are fools,' Haldir said, pulling Legolas closer and holding him in place.

 

'They say his son smells of wine, too. How do we know that he is not a drunk, as well?' another elf said. Legolas could see the Fellowship tense through the foliage. Haldir tensed as well. His hold on Legolas seemed more as a way to anchor himself than Legolas now.

 

'Legolas. You are their future king. Do with them what you will,' Haldir said, loosing his arms and letting Legolas free. Legolas burst through the foliage into the clearing where the two elves stood. He grabbed one by the throat and held him against a tree. Haldir held the other back without much of a struggle.

 

'My father is not a drunkard, and neither am I. He is your king, you owe him you allegiance, and I am your prince. You owe me the same. My father is a strong, noble elf comparable to Feanor himself. You will never speak an ill word of him again, or I will tear out your vocal chords,' Legolas growled, his gaze feral.

 

'Y-you would not! You would be killed for kin slaying, regardless of your status,' the elf protested.

 

'I never said that I would kill you, peasant. I only said that I would rip your vocal chords from your throat. Now, go,' Legolas threw the elf away from him, Haldir did the same to the other, 'Tell Lord Celeborn what you have said of his brother. And if you lie, I will know.'

 

'Legolas, are you all right? He was scrambling pretty hard at your hand,' Haldir said, coming closer.

 

'I am well, meleth nin. His nail caught, but 'tis not too deep,' Legolas replied. Haldir raised the hand to his lips regardless and pressed a kiss there.

 

'Legolas, why did you attack them? Who were they talking about?' Pippin asked.

 

'I attacked them, because they were speaking ill of my father and myself. I should not have, 'twas irrational and illogical, but I have never been one for rational,' Legolas answered.

 

'They shouldn't talk about you like that! It's just not right,' Sam protested.

 

'Thank you, Sam. They were wrong, though. My father is a great king,' Legolas said.

 

'But why does he drink?' Frodo asked, 'Bilbo met him years ago, and said he drank all the time.'

 

'My adar drinks because he is hurting. He drinks because he is dying.'

 

It seemed forever that Legolas returned home to Greenwood. Indeed, 'twas no longer Mirkwood. The spiders were fewer, and easier to kill. Their nests were being destroyed, their young killed, and they webs burnt. A shadow disappeared from the land, and Legolas could feel his heart lighten with the leaves of his home. But 'twas not just the trees he was excited to see as he returned home. His adar was well, now. The pain should have disappeared with the darkness in the wood.

 

'Little love.' Legolas turned on his heel when he heard his adar's voice. Thranduil stood tall and proud, as he always did. But the telltale swaying of his drunken self revealed that he was perfectly sober. Legolas' face burst into a bright smile and he ran into his adar's arms.

 

'Ada!' Legolas cried, burying his face into his adar's shoulder. Thranduil wrapped his arms around his son and spun him around happily. The laughter of the two echoed through the Greenwood once again.

 

Legolas remembered a time before his father needed drink to live, but he also had a time afterwards. A time where Thranduil gave affection without prompting. A time when wine was no longer consumed at all hours of the day. A time where Legolas and Thranduil and indeed the whole kingdom no longer smelled of wine. A time where Legolas had his father back, unsure of when he had ever lost him.