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The Elf Who Would Be King

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It was finally over. The war was won. But the cost had been terrible and all celebrations on the victorious side were overshadowed with grief and horror, not unlike dust on a surface. It could temporarily be swept away, but alway it would resettle there and coat it in a thick layer of grey.

The tall elf standing at the edge of the water felt neither joy nor grief. He could only watch one of the many ships sailing away in numb silence.  Vaguely, he thought this lack of reaction should bother him somehow. One should not feel nothing whilst watching his heart being carried out of his reach, if not for forever then at least for a very long time. But all emotion had been used up in the days leading up to this moment, and the many arguements that filled them. So many words had been spoken, words of anger and love, blame and forgiveness, desperation and hope and countless more, until all the words ran dry. She would not stay. He would not leave. The only words left were those of parting.

Oropher did not move for a long time. Only when he could no longer see her ship did he finally break his vigil and began the walk back towards his tent. He did not acknowledge the elves he passed on his way, though almost none offered a greeting of their own. Most were too caught up in their own affairs to muster much interest beyond those closest to them. When he finally reached his temporary home, he paused and tried to steel himself for what lay inside. With a deep breath Oropher squared his shoulders and pulled the cloth back.

The scene inside had not changed since he and his wife had left hours prior. The unmoving form of his son was laid out under the watchful gaze of one of the many volunteers who assisted the overworked healers. The numbness made way for the first stirrings of a familiar anger. Apparently Thranduil did not warrant the attentions of a fully fledged healer, for they deemed his chances of survival slim and with too many wounded as it was, their care was better used on those they could save, not on a single elf everyone but Oropher himself had already given up on. Even his mother did not think he would wake, her grief over the presumed death of her only child just one more thing that drove her from this shores and towards a realm she  had never seen before, fueled only by some vague hope for peace and healing.

He dismissed the other elf without a second glance or words of gratitude for his services and took his place next to the bed. If he were inclined to think about it rationally, he would realize that the other was not to blame for his situation. But he felt only the bitterness of a helpless father and reason was not his first concern at the moment. Thankfully the other seemed to understand und left without a word.

Thranduil looked unchanged. Too still. So unlike his vibrant, beautiful young son. The left side of his face was covered in bandages, the destroyed flesh hidden from Orophers eyes. He could not even claim the satisfaction of having killed the beast responsible. He combed his fingers through the pale hair on the uninjured side, a soothing habit from a time when Thranduil was still a young elfling and often sought solace in the embrace of his father, and settled himself more comfortably in his chair. He would wake, Oropher was sure of it. Thranduil was strong and stubborn. Everyone judged ist the desperate notion of a grieving father who closed his eyes to the truth, but Oropher knew better. He did not need to travel to an unknown land to find hope. It was right in front of him, still breathing. And after he woke up, Oropher swore to himself, he would find them a place of peace and healing on this side of the sea.