Chapter 1: The begenning
The light shining down beautifully through the open doors to the balcony was the first sight that greeted Legolas that morning. The place next to him in the bed was empty but still warm and fragrant with her, she had probably gone to the interior palace gardens as was her costume. The blond had the sudden urge to bury his head in hear pillow but he didn’t want to move just yet, a smile softly curving his pink lips.
Last night had been different.
They had discussed about it, many times. The shadows of the East grew ever stronger, that much was undeniable, and the age of the Eldar would soon come to an end, however in their union they saw light and in their hearts there was hope for a future together, a family. The decision was made time ago, both knew that but had never before the night prior voiced it to each other nor put their passion and tenderness towards it. By the name of Eru they had set their minds and bodies to that which they desired most.
Legolas sighed and drove a hand to rest on his lower abdomen, it wasn’t like they had a guide to begetting or could ask someone for advice, they could only hope.
The couple have meant to try again the following night, but the attack happened and the creature Gollum escaped. They had managed to regain control in less than a day but damage was done none the less. The Realm was in lock down for three months under the King’s commands and among the alert, repairs and grieving for the fallen there had been no time for thinking of offspring.
As soon as the gates were open once again, and without much more than a farewell kiss from his wife, Legolas was sent to Rivendell along with a small party of his guard as a messenger of the dark twist that had befallen on Mirkwood. Unknowing for all that his plea had already been granted.
They arrived at Imladris right on time for a Council held among representatives from all free people of Arda. The Prince had sent back an envoy to his father afterwards regarding the situation with the Halfling and Isildur’s bane, and informing him of his staying in the Last Homely Home until they reached a final decision.
Legolas’ strength failed him soon after. He was enjoying a solitary stroll around the breath-taking pools on the soft autumn afternoon when all of sudden he felt lightheaded and drowsy, the next time he was aware of the world was to Lady Arwen’s worried face.
“We are at your chamber” She explained softly at his confused expression “You fainted. Legolas I’m sure it is known to you that I like my father have the gift of insight” He observed speechless as she took one of his hands and laid it flatly on his stomach “You carry a child”
In his heart he had already known, still his breath hitched as alarm rose on his chest and he stood from the bed on a swift motion, Arwen following suit and securing his arms when he swayed on his feet “Do not tell anyone, not even your father nor Aragorn” he locked her gaze “You must give me your word”
She slowly helped him back to the mattress without breaking eye contact “You have it. But please, take care.” She reach to the bedside table and handed Legolas a clear vial “I’m far from an outstanding healer but it will help. I will personally bring you some foot later” with a final squeeze to the archer’s hand she stood up “Rest now” and with that she left, closing the door behind her. That same night he wrote a letter to his beloved Glinuilos and one to his father, the later he burnt and the other he kept hidden in a drawer not having the courage to actually send either one.
Then the nine walkers, members of the Fellowship of the Ring, were announced and it was time for his long overdue talk with the Lord of Rivendell. Legolas presented himself to the half-elf’s studio two days before the leaving, a lump in his throat making it hard for him to speak.
Elrond merely raised an eyebrow “I am well acquainted with your predicament, Thranduilion” to the younger’s paleness he answered with some humour “It is obvious to any how have met an expecting one before and know of your people’s particularity, I’m afraid. There is a radiance about you beyond that inherent to the Eldar. May I?” He gestured with his hand to Legolas’ midsection, the Sinda merely nodded still at loss at his not-so-secret been blown. Elrond placed both hands on his abdomen, still traceless of the child within, concentrating hard for a few moments as he prodded around before a heartfelt smile made its way to his lips “I will admit that I had worried for the health of you both, but you are strong and the child is healthy” he backed off and allowed Legolas to bask in his gladness and relief for a moment before continuing on a more serious tone “Still the question remains, will you partake in the Quest? Think it thoroughly”
“The decision was taken long ago, and not in haste. We were reckless in our pursuit of a family in these times of war, now we must attain to the consequences” the pain in his voice was evident.
“You risk both your lives” Elrond turned around and began running through the many different flasks and vials spread on his table.
“Let it be the will of the Valar. You said yourself I was meant to be in this Quest” the blond felt breathless. He found a seat and wrapped his arms around himself.
“And does your King, or the mother know of your choice?” He glance over his shoulder at the silence.
The answer was but a broken whisper “It was mine to make” and that had been the end of it.
The day of the departure Legolas wrote another set of letters, this time explaining of his travel as well as of his pregnancy, sealed and quick like who plucks out an arrow handed them to a messenger under oath that she will tell none of the way and direction the Prince took. Soon before leaving he received a small bag from Lord Elrond in the hands of his daughter, inside were half a dozen vials with two different inscription on the labels which the elleth soon clarified.
“These are to ease the different symptoms and these are to ensure the health of both of you, you can take them together. Just a few droplets of each. Do not drink of the flask that Gandalf will likely share with the others, it may cause it harm. And here-” she dropped something squarish and wrapped in leaves into the bag which Legolas immediately recognized “This will help you keep your strength”
He thank her earnestly and went to stand beside his companions. Elrond gave them a last departing word and they set off through the gates into the night, thus the journey began.
Chapter 2: South, Caradhras and Moria
As the Fellowship moved south along the Misty Mountains Legolas was pleased to realize that he found the journey bracing, opposite of the constant weakness and illness that had downed him in Rivendell. The fresh air of the night walks soothed some of his discomfort and his keen elven eyes granted him the position at the rear of which he took advantage to inadvertently grace a reassuring hand over his stomach from time to time. He also took secret delight to see that the natural star-like glow of his skin, unconcealed in the complete darkness, seemed to brighten with each passing night.
At the first lights of dawn they would already be protected from unfriendly eyes in any hiding place they came across, get a small meal and set the watches to get some well-deserved rest. Legolas sat just above their camp perched on the thick branch of a tree, close enough to the top for the sunlight to past through the foliage and bath him in its warmth. His eyes were closed relishing in the feeling while all of his other senses were sharp as ever taking in the matutinal setting of the cramp-roofed forest, as it was his watch. He always took two turns during the day to allow his mortal companions the sleep they needed more than he did -since elves were considerably more tireless- even in his condition, with a few hours of rest been enough besides the possibility to drift into elven dreams while walking.
A soft rustle of blankets alerted him of movement and Legolas glanced downside as Pippin futilely tried to awaken Merry with hushed words and shakes to the shoulder, ultimately just standing from his bedroll alone and frustrated. The elf hid a smile when, from all the trees around them, Pippin chose precisely his to empty his bladder. Legolas wondered briefly if he should make his presence known for the sake of harmless mischief but quickly decided against it. Then the hobbit actually started to whistle and it was too much of a tentative offer not to take.
“Shouldn’t you be sleeping, my friend?”
The hobbit jumped at least a third of his height into the air but quickly recognizing the voice changed from startled to a defensive stance facing up the tree “I could ask you the same question!” Immediately the words passed his lips he cringed at his mistake and the reproachful tone “I’m sorry, Legolas. I couldn’t go back to sleep, I…” he murmured something under his breath, staring at the ground.
The elf ears heard him perfectly clear. Jumping down from his high spot, Legolas remained crouched were he landed in front of the other and fix him with an intense gaze “I’m afraid I did not catch that”, blue eyes not even bothering to hide the lie.
Pippin tentatively peeked up from his feet, a light blush spread on his cheeks “I had a nightmare. Or maybe a daymare, since it’s about noon” at this the archer raised a delicate eyebrow “Whatever, thing is the Black Riders had come back, they caught us at the foot of a mountain and were turning everyone into one of them with those awful blades they used with Frodo” the hobbit wrapped his cloak tightly around himself, as if chilled by the mere memory.
Legolas meditated for a moment about what to say to ease his companion before an idea came to him “You know, Pippin, I used to have lots of nightmares when I was an elfling, a mere child. I dreamt of all kinds of horrid creatures attacking our people. You see, my home in the Woodland Realm is very near to the ruins of Dol Guldur, it was once a wondrous place but the shadow have long dwelled there. My father would walk in after I had awaked him screaming and reassure me that we were safe and that we had an army of great soldiers that would fight to their last breath to protect the kingdom, sometimes he would even tell stories of the valiant deeds of some of the finest warriors among my people”
“And did that help?” Pippin inquired, at this point they were both seating cross-legged before each other.
Legolas’ face contorted into a complicit grin and he leaned in “No. After my father had left I would sneak out of my rooms and make for the housing of a friend of mine, one of the few other elflings my age. She always took me to the interior palace gardens and we played and ran under the tall trees. She told me that no matter where I was or if the night was dark, I needed not fear for the stars always shine above us even if we cannot see them” His voice had drifted into a whisper, moist eyes shifting north and a heavy longing weighting down his shoulders.
“What happened to her?”
“I married her” the blond blinked several times trying to subdue the tears, internally cursing the strong emotional swings that came with pregnancy.
“Are you alright, Legolas?” Pippin battled between confusion and alarm at the other’s unexpected anguish.
“Yes, I’m just weary all of sudden” He stood abruptly “Would you mind finishing my watch?”
“Sure, it’s not long until Boromir’s anyway-”
Legolas didn’t wait for Pippin to finish talking and stalked off to where he had left his belongings, quickly taking off his shoulder bow and quiver and digging out two vials from his traveling bag, his fingers trembled slightly while he poured a few drops from both liquids into his mouth. He expected no comfort from the medicine as he lay down on his side, pillowing his head on his arm and protectively wounding the other over his stomach. His mind wandered again to home- to his beloved-, and there was nothing in this world capable of easing the grieve Legolas felt at their sundering.
Nearly 20 days after leaving the House of Elrond the fellowship made it to the Pass of Caradhras, but the mountain had defeated them and the choice was made to travel further south to the ancient Gates of Moria.
“Why is Legolas scouting on his own?” Pippin demanded from his place cuddling with Merry.
“Because-” sighed Aragorn rubbing his eyes “He’s the only one that can get back safely given a storm strikes anew”
“I, for one, am quite happy to be off that accursed snow” Boromir interjected, moving closer to the hearth enjoying the well-deserved warmth.
“He can take care of himself, Master Pippin” added Gandalf throwing a glance at the entrance of the cave-like rift they found on the way down from the mountain to shield them from the cold.
Sam looked up from his tending to Bill the pony and pointed a finger at the youngest hobbit “See? He’s a warrior. There’s nothing to worry about, like I told you”. Pippin had spent the last week or so trying to convince them there was something wrong with Legolas and recruit them to figure out what it was.
“A remarkable warrior at that. Trained by the finest Mirkwood can offer”
“Remarkable isn’t the word I would use” refuted Gimli at Aragorn’s praise for his friend “My people tell tales of Mirkwood’s army. Long have their minds being poisoned by the evil that twirls in their forest, making them the more deadly and unstable of elves, but we are most leery of their commander. He is known as…” He paused for a moment to find the correct translation to Westron “The Undefeated Sharpblade, an elf tall like a tree, fierce and ruthless as is his strategy. They say he is only surpassed in skill by the terrible Elvenking himself!”
Those words brought a tense silence. Which was suddenly broken by Gandalf’s and Aragorn’s peals of laughter.
The dwarf’s face reddened “Do not mock me. I assure you he is real and as fearsome as they say”
“We merely laugh at the accuracy of your description of King Thranduil.” managed to breath out the dunedan, “Is it not true to his image, Prince Legolas?”
Various expressions from bewilderment to delighted surprise then turned to stare and gape at the newly arrived blond elf. Legolas merely shook his head at his friend’s lack of tact, finding himself a seat by the fire. He had been feeling lightheaded as of late and he worried the cold might had been harmful for the baby even if it didn’t affect its bearer. Gimli’s voice drew him from his musings.
“You are Thranduil’s son?!”
The elf tilted his head “Did I not mention so at Lord Elrond’s house?”
“You may have left it out” replied Boromir tightly, still struck by the news that he had being travelling with yet another secret royal.
“Wait, if you are the Elven Prince…” The change in the course of the conversation seemed to spark Frodo’s attention “were you there when the company of Thorin Oakenshield were captured? I grew up hearing the story from my uncle Bilbo, we all did” he gestured vividly to the other hobbits, who nodded energetically, happy to see Frodo so excited.
“I was in the realm at the time, yes, but we did not meet for I was rather busy”
At this the elf delicate lips curved into a smile and he ducked his head briefly before watching Gimli out of the corner of his eye, still facing the hobbits “Being fierce and ruthless” the effect was immediate.
“You are the commander?”
“You are Mirkwood’s finest warrior”
“You are the Undefeated?”
“YOU ARE SHARPBLADE!?”
Legolas grimaced both at the name and at the headache the shouting produced him “That ridiculous name is nothing but a translation error of my own I’m afraid and aye, like my Mother before me, I am commander of my King’s army. Though I am not unbeaten like you make it sound” he answered modestly with a small smile.
“But you were.” Merry countered with barely held back excitement. “At the Battle of the Five Armies, am I right?”
The whole fellowship then engaged in a retelling of the historical battle, sharing and listening to each other views on what they have heard or seen about what had happened. Legolas felt a subtle bubbling sensation just below his navel but it was shortly gone, and he let it slip off his care not to damp his one lighthearted moment between so much worry.
They have been attacked by wargs on the early hours of the day. Legolas took pride on his impeccable performance despite his condition, shooting again gave him a pleasant rush of euphoria and made him feel elated - until the fight was over. An agonizing headache crept on him while he collected his arrows as the adrenaline left his system. A strong wave of pain hit him when he rose from picking up the last arrow, its shaft broke easily under the hard grip.
Sam was just beginning to relax when he shifted his eyes towards the edge of their camp, right in time to see their elf companion collapsing. He rushed forwards crying out “Strider!” turning the blond on his back, he panicked at the blood staining the fair features.
“Legolas” Aragorn belted out kneeling besides them as the rest of the fellowship crept around. The elf’s breath was elaborated as if his lungs didn’t have room to expand, a small cut on his forehead from the fall bled flagrantly and flooded half of his face. The healer’s training kicked in “Turn him on his side, he can’t breathe” he ripped off a piece of his clothing and pressed it to the wound.
“There should not be so much blood” Boromir worried with a frown, rolling Legolas onto his flank.
Wrapping one of the pale hands on his own Sam exclaimed “He’s burning up”, noticing the heat emanating from usually fresh skin.
Frodo stared helplessly at the hands trying to stop the flow of red on lime white face, he looked about intended on making himself useful “Merry” he called suddenly “your water”. The younger hobbit caught the meaning and passed the waterskin he carried on his belt. Frodo promptly took off the lid and began to gingerly pour it down to sweep away the blood.
No sooner the cold liquid touched skin the elf snapped; in the blink of an eye he had moved three feet away from everyone eyes wide and clouded, standing like a cornered animal.
Aragorn stood calmly -whilst the others stayed frozen in place by the unexpected burst of action-, raising his hands in the universal sign of peace, and spoke in elvish “Be at ease, my friend” he took a step forward “You fell and hit your head” another step “And you are feverish for reasons unknown” the blond flinched and backtracked realizing the man’s approach. “Why are you acting so?” Aragorn grunted, switching back to Westron momentarily in his frustration. “Have you been keeping an injury from us?”
Legolas was all at once self-conscious of his exaggerated demeanor and stunned in horror at the prospect of his comrades unveiling his secret. He forced his body to release its tension but his eyes kept staring unseeingly straight ahead “I am alright. My apologies for worrying you” Aragorn attempted to close the space between them once more “Do not touch me, please” it was barely audible enough for the man in front of him to hear, his hands twitched suppressing the urge to hug his midsection.
“Legolas” the ranger bellowed clenching his jaw “We must continue our way, least more of this foul creatures find us…” he gestured pointy to the warg’s corpses lying around “and we can’t wait for you tell us you’re wounded amidst of journeying.”
“By the Great’s beard, would you two mind talking in a language we all understand?” Gimli fumed, tired of the pair’s secrecy.
Putting on a tight lipped smile the elf turned to the group “I am fine. We may continue with our quest, I won’t delay us further” he didn’t blame them for the disbelief on their faces, having his own covered in his blood.
Aragorn clicked his tongue and stalked off to lead the march, muttering under his breath about the ‘damn stubbornness of the elves’ and angrily snatching his bag off the ground in the process; the rest of the companions quickly falling in line. Pippin carefully came before the archer and sheepishly offered up a handkerchief which he gratefully accepted. The hobbit beamed at him and scrambled off to his kin. Legolas began to raise the cloth to scrub away the blood when a hand suddenly grasped his wrist.
Gandalf brought the flesh up to his face for closer scrutiny “Ho Uhm. Funny that an archer’s wrists would swell after shooting, especially an elf’s” The wizard’s eyes then shifted to his own, they seemed to bore deep into his very soul. “Even stranger for one of the Firstborn to faint out of nowhere, except they were…” Legolas breath hitched in his throat “But surely it is just the overly excited musings of an old man” Gandalf waved his hand in dismissal, releasing the other’s wrist and tipping his hat with an easy smile before turning away to follow the fellowship. “You out to clean your face, it will do you no good”
There was a double meaning to those words. Legolas felt a tremor grow in his chest. The handkerchief remained forgotten in a tight grip by his side.
Where there once was light now Legolas saw only gloom, the darkness of Moria successfully crushing his spirit to the edge of his breaking point. More often than not he found himself short of breath at the enclosing and endless shadows. This uneasiness stole away his rest, and laying quietly besides his slumbering companions he couldn’t help but wonder if he had made a terrible mistake coming along. He feared for his unborn child, after all he was nearing his eight month and the bulge of his belly (if it could even be called so) was only just notable if he ran his hand through it, besides the fact that by then he should have been able to feel the baby move within him. His despair had also made him reckless, for the ever inquisitive Merry and Pippin had caught him taking his medicine and he had had to invent an elaborated story of a faded injury from an ancient imaginary battle to keep them distracted, earning the dirtiest of glares from Aragorn who knew of the lie but not its cause.
He sighed brokenly. Oh how his heart yearned to tell the ranger, to seek solace from the anguish with his friend’s knowledge on healing. The archer doubted that Aragorn had previous experience with ellon pregnancy, or any elven pregnancy at that, but at the very least he had tended to human females before and thus surpassed Legolas’ own information, which mostly came from stories and experiences some of his friends back home had confided on him. Still, it had been centuries since the last elfling was born in Greenwood.
‘And with good reason’ he thought bitterly, getting up from his bedding in the floor and resigning to another restless night, if such existed beyond the dark caverns. He spotted the faint light of the tip of Gandalf’s staff and lightly maneuvered his way around the sleeping forms of his comrades to sit beside him.
“What keeps you awake, mellon?” the Istar inquired warmly.
Legolas glanced behind to reassure himself everyone slept before replying in a cautious tone “You already know of it, Mithrandir”
“And you have yet to confirm it”
They held each other’s gaze for a moment, daring the other to say it out loud. A coppery smell filled Legolas nostrils and he finally ducked his head in defeat. “It is true, I am with child”, he murmured.
Gandalf’s eyes smiled briefly before a stern look took place “Tis’ Needless to say how folly it was for you to come with us in such a state. Or even to separate yourself from your mate”
A pang of pain crossed the blond’s face and he bobbed his head a few times. “I was not aware at the hour of my departure from her. But I chose to enter this quest with full knowledge”
Gandalf hummed again, then frowned “You are bleeding”
The elf felt a trickle on his upper lip and quickly took his fingers to it, they came away red. He gaped at the offending blood, eyes burning and his body trembling with raw emotion.
It was the last straw.
Impotence, fear, anger and heartbreak all fought for dominance inside his chest, breath coming out in ragged pants. After all his efforts… Legolas gulped air down a few times trying to cast away the thought of losing his child and the feeling of utter desperation that came with.
Wrinkled hands firmly clasped his shoulders in an instant “Legolas” the wizard shook him once to break the stare away from his bloodied fingers “Look at me. You have borne this infant for months know, you will know if something was amiss with it. Do you feel that is the case?” Distressed blue eyes locked with Gandalf’s own, then gave a tentative shake of his head “Good, now listen. It’s quite normal for pregnant folk to experience nosebleeds, among many other unpleasant symptoms as I’m certain you have noticed”
Slightly calmer now, Legolas drew Pippin’s handkerchief from a fold in his tunic and held it to his nose, once more staining the recently cleansed fabric. “I should have started feeling the babe’s movements erstwhile” he murmured bitterly.
“Is it not your first child?”
“Of course it is”
“Then how could you tell if you have felt it or not?”
That gave him a pause, of which Gandalf took advantage by leaning forward and placing a hand against the elf’s stomach, whispering softly to it. Miraculously, as if sparked by the Maia’s power, a strong kick collided with the pressed palm.
Legolas gasped loudly, his vision blurring with joyful tears as he basked in the relief that ran over him from his feet to the tips of his ears. Gandalf retreated and his own trembling hand sharply replaced the wizard’s. It took him a few minutes to break away from the spell the sudden flash of life within him had put on his mind. “Le Hanon” he sighed finally and with a blush realized by Gandalf’s chuckles that he must have look quite the fatherly image for he had been gently stroking his abdomen all along. “How did you do that?”
“Legolas have you tried speaking to your child?”
“Not aloud” he casted his eyes down “I have not had the chance to be by myself. With the other…. I’m leery of being caught”
“Then how will they recognized their Ada, when the time comes? It may very well think it's me now. I am in no shape to be raising children at my age" Gandalf said in fake reproach, a pout curling his lips.
A light hearted smile illuminated Legolas' face, taking the jest for what it was "And I would rather if you did not. You have quite an odd history regarding little people", he nodded behind to the sleeping pile of hobbits.
They kept up conversing lightly until it was time for the fellowship to move ahead. Legolas felt that a weight had been lifted from his shoulders after the talk with Gandalf, and the baby seemed to rejoice with that for afterwards it had begun moving and turning regularly, effectively lifting his bearer's spirits with each sharp kick.
As the nine made their way through the dark halls and caverns a set of eyes stole concealed glances at Legolas' stomach furtively, trying to catch the curve they knew to be there. Unknown to both elf and wizard there had been a third party listening to their words.
Chapter 3: Lorien and uncovering secr
Translated from Sindarin in italics.
Gandalf fell to Moria. And with him the relief Legolas had felt at having someone to support him. Every step they took towards Lorien the loss felt more asphyxiating, turning to bitter melancholy under the mallorn trees. The absence of his wife clawed at his heart harder than ever.
Anxiety burned his chest at the meeting with his kin, Elrond’s words resonating in his mind. Haldir’s eyes had bolted forthwith to his stomach for a split second and his head had twitched sideways. Their gazes met for greetings and it was crystal clear that his secret was evident to this people. Yet not Haldir nor his brothers said a word to the fellowship, and for this Legolas was grateful.
All the way to Caras Galadhon the awe he felt at contemplating at last the beautiful city was tainted by the discomfort of being pried at. He countered by exhibiting all the dignity of royalty he was so instructed his whole life. Head held high, confident strides and icy blue eyes daring any elf to speak up to his face. His Father would be proud.
He managed to maintain that profile up to the moment the Lady Galadriel laid her stare on him. All sudden the baby moved and Legolas’ breath left him. Fists bawling and frowning he tried to force his diaphragm to expand against the pressure. It was of no use. He paid no mind to the exchanges of the fellowship around him, too focused on getting air to his lungs. But there was no missing the voice that spoke inside his head once they were dismissed ‘I will send for you in the morrow’.
That night, despite having for the first time since they left Rivendell a soft warm mattress to lay in and the safety of his people, Legolas found no rest.
With the first lights of the day, Legolas heard is name being called in whispers meant only to an elf’s sensitive ears. There in the edge of the sleeping arrangement the fellowship shared was and elleth dressed in a long flowing sky blue tunic. The corners of her mouth rose into a kind smile and she gestured for him to follow.
She drove him through the flets and streets of the city, already springing life in the early hour. Fair elves prepared for their daily work all around them. The guards shifted turns. Crafters poured fresh water on white clay. Musicians retreated after singing to the stars all night. A single elfling still under her fifties dashed from her home, empty basket hooked on her elbow. Legolas’ hearth leaped with joy at the sight of her.
They walked past what he supposed was the kitchens -since the air was there filled with mouth-watering smells. His stomach growled and he tried to stiff the sound by putting a hand to it, embarrassment heating his face. The elleth in front of him chuckled. “You will be taken back to your companions for breakfast as soon as this is over"
Legolas saw the opening to ask “What exactly is this?”
“You have caught the Lady’s attention”. She glanced meaningfully at the hand still holding his midsection. “It is not oft we see one of your kin in such a state”
They spoke no more on the matter.
Adjacent to the main palace, they went into a hall. Legolas noticed that it was constructed with a technique similar to that of his Father’s Halls. The space within the trees had being filled to make closed rooms. The trees themselves were carefully carved into exquisite columns. From the inside it was impossible to see the exterior beyond the tall walls but the sunlight still filtrated through the thin foliage roof. From the centre of the hall at least a dozen silken curtains made the part of doors to the rooms. The elleth drew open the one further to the entrance and urged the Prince to go inside.
The circular room held no decorations whatsoever. A pair of cupboards were right to the curtain, and a table with a few tools on its surface was to its left. In the centre was a simple bed. Next to it stood another elleth bearing a solemn expression and Galadriel herself. Legolas bowed his head, hand travelling to his chest in the typical elven salute.
The Lady smiled in greetings. “Worry not, Legolas. I will not burden you further with chastising words. I offer you aid.” she extended a hand to the dark blonde besides her “This is Leristil, my personal and most trusted healer. She was also midwife to me and my daughter Celebrian.”
Leristil saluted the archer then gestured to the bed “If you would lay on your back”
Legolas did as he was told but as soon as he was horizontal he felt like rocks were thrown over his chest. Spams shook his body while fighting for oxygen. The healer only managed to pull at his tunic before he was seating up again. “I need you lying down” the blank face and voice now held an undertone of annoyance.
“I…I can’t…breathe” He gasped.
Galadriel drew closer. “The child is pressing against his lungs” she uttered, a maternal worry upon her features.
Leristil frowned “But it should not be. When did you beget?” she demanded addressing Legolas.
“Eight moons past”. He was hauled back to his feet in a rush and his tunic pushed up to reveal the shy curve of his baby bump on his flat abdomen. Both ellith stared stunned.
Snapping out of it first, Leristil drew a ribbon and measured Legolas’ middle. The ellon in question feeling self-conscious of his lithe form. “You should be at least twice your size.” She nagged and since she couldn’t force him on his back, she crouched at the level of his stomach and began probing and feeling the pressed skin. “The result of your travels and neglect, undoubtedly”
“If I may…Since the Prince is tall the baby has plenty of room to grow upwards.” Legolas didn’t noticed when the elleth that brought him there had scurried into the room, but he was grateful for it. “Also this is his first child, correct?” he nodded. “The muscles on his abdomen are taut and tight. They have not stretched before and it could explain why the baby hasn’t dropped.”
Leristil didn’t seem contempt with being corrected but Galadriel saw the logic on the matter. And so Meldes –for that was her name- was assigned to assist the more experience healer in tending to Legolas pregnancy for as long as he decided to stay. The Lady made sure he knew he had a choice ahead of him. To continue the journey when the fellowship departed or to remain in Lorien.
None of the options sounded right, but to what his heart truly desired he could not oblige.
Legolas soon came to realize that what he had thought to be mere animosity towards his choice to join the fellowship in his state was downright hate on Leristil’s part. She will keep to herself during Legolas’ daily examinations, prodding him none too gentle, and lashing hurtful words when she did speak. He confronted her about her lack of tact after a particularly nasty comment about his probabilities of stillbirth. Meldes was absent that day, so the older healer had had no reason to hold back her tongue. Legolas smacked her hands away from his stomach and bolted to his feet. “You would do well to remember who you are talking to” he warned. In truth, he hated pulling rank but he wouldn’t stand to be insulted either.
Her mask of serenity shattered then and there. “You are a guest of the good will of Milady, princeling. Nothing more. I fulfil the duty she bestowed on me out of loyalty. You people are nothing but traitors, even to your own nature. And the creature you carry is a spawn of that strain.” She rampaged out of the room, leaving a dismayed Legolas in her wake.
He waited until her steps faded before sprinting away from the healing hall as well. His feet stopped moving when he ran out of breath. Shoulders heaving and shaking in outrage.
“Legolas? Are you alright, lad?”
He looked up and found Gimli examining him up and down. In his flight he had passed their arrangements into the nearby forest. “I’m fine” he retorted. As the fog of anger lifted something caught his attention “What are you doing in the woods? I thought they made you uncomfortable”
The redhead puffed his chest. “They do, but those pointy-eared peepers are worse. I needed a walk to clear my head”
A heartbeat passed. Then, “Could I join you?”
They walked in the uttermost silence going deep into the trees. “This woods are strange. It feels like the trees have eyes and ears” the dwarf muttered after a while.
Legolas agreed but to him it felt more like protection than prying. The gentle presence of their songs acting as balm over his ever aching heart. “You are free to go back if you so want it” his words held no judgment yet he received no answer.
Gimli seemed to fight an inner battle before finally speaking up again “I…I wanted to…Uhm…” He cleared his throat. “I believe I owe…You didn’t…” Legolas stopped in his tracks, blue eyes catching hazel ones. “I thank you, master elf, for saving my life back in Moria. Twice. You did not have to. Our two races had been at odds with each other since before either of us was born” those words edged on questioning and Legolas nodded to confirm it. “It would be logical to leave me to death. I expected it, even... But you have proved me wrong and it would be against my people’s traditions not to show my gratitude. Dolzekh Menu” And the dwarf did a quick but low bow.
Legolas was taken aback by such a humble act. He hadn’t thought that saving his life will mean anything to him coming from an elf. He gazed down at the dark eyes concealed under thick auburn eyebrows, dipping inside for the first time. In them he saw mirrored his own soul. Solitude and homesickness and grieve buried beneath steadfast determination to see their mission trough. His face softened in a smile and he crouched to be the same level with his bearded companion. He laid a long-fingered hand on the other’s shoulder. “It was my privilege, friend Gimli” he stated, warmth flourishing in his chest.
The baby kicked and Legolas couldn’t stiff the delighted laughter that sprouted from this call for attention. 'My gwinig is jealous', he thought inwards.
Gimli gave a deep cackle too, mistaking it as part of their current conversation. “I don’t see why this feud has lasted so much. My people no longer even remember how it started, if the many legends are to be accounted for. Are elves prone to holding grudges?”
Legolas stood and they carried on, elf and dwarf side by side, walking and talking. On the days that followed they would eat together with the rest of the fellowship then submerge back into the woods. More than once did keen elven ears pick up from their comrades a bet that one or both of them wouldn’t come back to tell the tale.
On their walks they spoke of themselves and of their respective kins. First tentatively, as if afraid to break the understanding that was just seeing light, then with eagerness to deny and right all myths the other knew as result of their races' fight. Both tiptoed around the subject of Thorin Oakenshield’s company’s imprisonment in Mirkwood, but finally reached the conclusion that both their fathers exaggerated about it. The elf listened to Gimli praise the Lady Galadriel for hours at a time, and in return the redhead showed interest on his stories of Mirkwood. Their deeds of war were also a common subject on their chatting -specifically the tales the dwarves told about Sharpblade which brought Legolas great amusement. The curious dwarf even managed to get a few stories and a vivid description of his wife out of him but those appeared to dampen the Prince’s spirits and soon enough Gimli stopped asking about her altogether.
His newfound friendship brightened Legolas’ days after attending in the mornings to the hall of healing for his examinations. Since they’d altercated Leristil had not bespoke him directly, instead contenting to measure his middle and listen in evident scorn to any novelty he reported about his condition. If there was need for a medicinal draught it would get to him from Meldes, as well as some extra ration of food or the occasional sweet delicacy as a treat. Her kindness came as a splash of fresh water on the arid interactions with his head healer. Yet he didn’t have the heart to blame the older elleth.
From what he had managed to scatter from the few elves willing to talk about the subject, Leristil’s mate had perished during the Last Allegiance under the command of the Sinda Lord Amdír- hence her disgust for Sindar elves. He understood. The mere thought of losing his beloved left him breathless and pained. So Legolas played his part as the perfect patient, open and gentle in his sessions enough to make them bearable.
Time happened fast for him in Lothlorien and soon the fellowship found themselves preparing to leave the safe heaven.
Galadriel had summoned him in private before they left, yet he hasn’t expected Celeborn’s presence by her side. Nor their solemn faces.
As he bowed and saluted a trepidation rose inside of him along with the beating of his heart.
“You fare better than when you first arrived”
Legolas knew as much. He had gained a few pounds and his eyes, skin and even his hair increased their gemlike shine under the watchful cares. “Thanks to you, Milady” he mirrored the warm smile from Galadriel.
“However as your stay here nears its end, we are to discuss some matters of political importance, Prince Legolas from the Woodland Realm", Celeborn announced.
Legolas eyes hardened. He stood more erected, falling back into his proud royal persona.
The celeste gaze of the Lord of Lorien rested for a second on his low abdomen. A flash of sympathy passed his brow and he extended his arm in an open gesture towards a table to his left that had been set for their meeting. After all three took their seats he continued in even tones “We harboured you here for as long as you needed without ordering a messenger to Eryn Galen, but to send you on your way is a different subject. We knew of your condition ere you entered the limits of these woods. Your father has informed every ally and friend to him of his search for you. Thranduil will see ill intentions where there are none- were we to grant you leave without sending word to him. You better than anyone know this to be true”. A faint exasperated sigh escaped Legolas’ lips and the Prince diverted his look to the side. “A rider left two nights past to go and tell your King of your presence here. That should give your party enough time to reach the borders of the dark lands before his envoys arrive.”
Legolas lighted up and the Lord across the table conceived a diminutive grin.
“Now that is dealt with…" Galadriel began. "At your departing I shall bestow gifts upon your fellowship, yet I considered it best to give you this in private” The Lady lifted her hands from her lap, a small object cupped in them. It was a drop-shaped vial about the size of Legolas thumb filled with a thick liquid of rich tawny colour. “This contains mallorn tree-oil- highly prized for its proprieties to reduce pain and bleeding, and specially used by my people for complications during childbirth. I wish you do not find yourself in need of it"
Realization of the implications of such a gift hit Legolas full force as pale graceful fingers held the vial by a string in front of him. His face bleached but he reached for it anyway, hand trembling. "Le Hannon"
The maternal expression again brushed over Galadriel's face. "I feared as well when my own daughter was but a promise. It is only natural", she admitted. Celeborn discreetly took one of her hands, comforting. "Trust yourself and your body to keep your child safe, for it will"
Sensing the end of the issue, the Prince stood, excused himself and began to leave. 'And Legolas...' the soothing voice spoke again in his mind ‘Confiding in your companions would prove rewarding’. With a lump in his throat, he dragged his body down the stairs. Not for the first time feeling his burden heavier than Frodo's.
As usual Galadriel's words were prophetic, five nights apart from Lorien.
The eight companions had settled camp on the shore of the river, preparing their meal and conversing in the last dim lights of the day. Neither Gimli nor the hobbits -save perhaps Pippin- were too fond of their transportation and insisted on touching land as soon as the sun dropped each afternoon. Legolas was half-tempted to tell Gimli of the naps he took while padding their way in the river, if just to see the dwarf's reaction -were it not to put him in evidence of his secret.
Legolas laid at the moment fast asleep with his back propelled up against a tree a few feet away from where the others gathered. Fair hands entwined and secured above the bulge on his low abdomen that- if now evident- could still be concealed by his loose tunic given he'd forsaken his belt. But there was no way to hide his closed eyelids, the slight twitching of his head or his elaborated breathing.
This last caught Boromir's attention. "What's wrong with him?" he inquired nodding to the blond's direction.
They turned collectively. "It looks like he's having a nightmare" urged Frodo, who was plagued by those himself.
Pippin seemed confused "But I thought he said that adult elves didn't have nightmares"
"Or dreams for that matter. Just old memories" Merry agreed with his cousin.
"And they don't" Aragorn noted, grim-faced and biting hard on the pipe between his teeth. He stood from his place next to Sam by the boiling fish soup they were cooking. "Nor do elves sleep with their eyes closed. Or tire so easily. Or take medicine for wounds received on battles that never happened. Or faint for nothing after a fight." Each sentences was quieter than the one before as the ranger crept on their slumbering mate. His hand was mere inches from the elf's middle. Aragorn bit his lip, not sure he wanted denial or confirmation.
Legolas jumped awake panting, missing Aragorn's head with his own thanks to the latter’s quick reflexes. Distant in horrid, vivid images- blue eyes blinked into focus on surprised grey ones.
"Are you unwell, master elf?" queried Gimli enclosing on the two and boring his gaze straight into Legolas' arms wrapped tight over his belly.
The archer's eyes once more locked onto Aragorn's. "Would you tell them the truth, or would you have them worry for you in their ignorance?"
Alarm shot up in Legolas’ brow “Since when…”
The brunet answered swiftly “I heard your conversation in Moria” A hand landed on his shivering shoulder and his friend whispered "You don't have to be alone, Melon."
Legolas took a deep breath. "Nay, Gimli. I'm neither ill nor injured"
"Then what's with all the funny stuff going on about you since we left Rivendell, hum?" Pippin claimed elbowing the hobbits on both his sides.
Seating straight and letting his gaze run over each of the presents "It's quite simple, you see" His heartbeat drummed in haste as he raised to his feet "I am expecting"
Silence felt upon the group like a bucket of icy water for a few seconds.
Then… "Expecting what?" came Pippin's oblivious reply, to which he received a sharp smack to the head.
"Expecting a baby, you witless hobbit" Merry reproached.
“Now wait just a moment" Boromir stood as well, faced screwed and palm raised to the elf as if blocking the incongruence of his speech. "It doesn't make sense. Are you not male? How can you be pregnant?" He now understood why the elf had insisted on waiting until everyone was finished to wash in the water alone along their trip.
Aragorn snorted without humor "I suppose it depends on what you define as 'male', son of Gondor"
Legolas glared "My kin's anatomy may differ from all others. But be assured that I am as much a male as you are, Boromir"
Gimli snapped out of his stupor and sputtered "Is this some twisted joke?"
Hurt painted across exquisite features. Wordlessly Legolas grabbed the hem of both his tunic and undershirt and pulled them up to his chest.
The companions stared in dumbfounded awe. In spite of its pettiness the bulge was round and well-marked against his toned-muscled abdomen, obviously pregnant. The father-to-be caressed the exposed pale skin with tenderness. It twitched and moved with the touch as the creature inside shifted and kicked. Legolas smiled thrilled "The gwinig hails you"
"That is marvelous, mister Legolas. Congratulations" Sam croaked on the verge of tears, moved to his core.
This show of enthusiasm sparked the other hobbits into movement and in a second they were all encircling the elf. Their height granted an excellent first-hand view of the baby bump and excitement flowed with them expressing their joy and pleas to feel the child move.
Aragorn chuckled and went back to attend the soup.
"I hate to bring gray clouds over happy news, and I too congratulate you. But shouldn't have come with us in your condition. It's dangerous for everyone" Boromir reasoned and all halted. "I must insist that you go back to your people in Lorien, where you can have their attention and cares. Why risk your child's life for this doomed quest?” His words turned the air to lead.
Legolas' hand tightened its grip of Frodo's where it guided it to follow the baby's movement. He looked Boromir right in the eye, "I won't step back" There was a cold fire burning in the blue pools with that statement. "You can try and force me"
Chapter 4: Care and pain
The next morning Legolas was on the boats before anyone even woke up. Through the day he kept to himself, singing in undertones in his beautiful fluid language. Gimli could not understand the meaning of the lyrics but he heard the melancholy and sorrow that vibrated on the silvery voice . Once the melody was cut by a choking sound -yet the redhead had not the heart to turn and face the pain he knew would be written in those sapphire eyes- before it started again .
When they made shore Gimli rushed to grab both their bags and jump out of the embarkation. He left them with the others’ and hurried back to offer his hand to help Legolas off the boat, all in the span of a few seconds. Aragorn snorted at the dwarf’s antics but the blond in question seemed to take no notice, simply accepting the help and perching himself on a tree branch as soon as he was on land .
Gimli deflated, having failed in lifting his friend’s spirits.
Boromir closed behind the ranger to murmur in his ear “Is it because of what I said yesterday?” with genuine remorse.
“Nay” He shook his head and eyed both man and dwarf “I fear it might be something worse: Longing”
That was enough for Gimli -who had listened to many tales of culture and home from the Prince- to connect the dots. An idea formed in his mind.
After a few hours of dozing in the tree Legolas was called down for supper. Landing light on his feet, he was met by eager hobbits wanting to know of the baby’s state. The smile he gave them as he reported its welfare didn’t last nor reach his eyes. The blond seated by the fire and Sam leaped to serve him a full square of lembas with roasted fish.
“I also made some berry sauce” the hobbit spluttered watching Legolas eye his plate as if it would bite him. “I had thought it to be for the morning but if you want some you can have it. You know what they say, life without sweets is bound to be bitter” he laughed nervously “But you couldn’t know they say that because it’s a Shire saying . And I don’t know if you even like berries. Of course you do, I’ve seen you eat them dozens of times. And now I’m babbling.” Sam seated back down, red as a beetroot.
Legolas sighed and took a bite of lembas to ease his companion “This is fine, my friend. But you exaggerate with the portions”
“Nonsense” exclaimed Pippin, indignant “You forget you are now eating for two”
“Aye but that applies for two elves, not two hobbits” a fine eyebrow arched along with the corners of his mouth.
The youngest hobbit grimaced and looked down, suddenly fascinated by his toes “In my defense, I was starving”
All laughed around them and Legolas noticed for the first time someone was missing “Where is Gimli ?”
Frodo was relief to be distracted from his own food “By the river. He said something about a rock”
“Not a rock, dear Frodo.” The booming voice was followed by a bush of orange hair and a sturdy body coming from behind one of the boats. Gimli stopped right in front of Legolas and place a small heavy object in one of the slim hands “A token”. He didn’t let go, instead pulling the elf to his feet and taking him away from the others to have a bit of privacy, meal forgotten . “I’m sorry, lad, about how I reacted to…you know” he gestured over his own belly. “You did not mention this about your people during our walks- and I was quite shocked”
“Will you not ask why I hid this from you? Or why I refuse to abandon the quest?”
Gimli shook his head and squeezed on the hand he still held on his own “I’m sure you are tired of that query. Besides, I don’t need to. I understand”
Dark eyes stared up at his and Legolas’ heart jumped with gladness at the acceptance in them. He raised his open palm to scrutinize the object inside. It was a flat river stone of a bright green shade masterfully carved with intricate patterns. There were also a few Khuzdul runes describing a circle and in the center a single elvish character that he had taught Gimli how to draw . The mark of Legolas’ royal House.
“It is our costume to give the expectant mother one such as that one to place on the dwarrowling’s crib. To ward off evil.” Gimli fidgeted with his hands. “Although usually is crafted on a gemstone. This is the best I could find, I’m afraid”
“It’s perfect. Thank you” he rasped, voice thick with emotion. It wasn’t every day that a dwarf shared their culture with an outsider –less of all an elf- for they were private by nature.
“Do your people have similar ones?” Traditions for when a little one arrives, I mean” The redhead specified as they returned to their friends .
Legolas smiled at the bright memories before answering “Elflings are always cause for celebration, even if there have not been any for centuries. We gather family and friends for a party to announce the pregnancy, once the couple feels ready. Some do not do it until it’s obvious they are showing, however that is considered extremely rude”
The hobbits peaked up at the topic. “We also celebrate new little hobbits greatly ”, sang Pippin.
“The future parents invite everyone to their party and there’s lots of food and music” said Merry.
Sam nodded with a piece of fish still held in hand “Each family brings a gift for the little one”
“And the games! We play many games such as making riddles and songs with the names the parents picked up, or trying to guess the baby’s gender . Some even bet on it” The lightheartedness in Frodo’s voice and grin was a rare sight for his companions. “My Uncle Bilbo won ten barrels of Old Toby when I was born because of that” He laughed, all echoing him.
It was an odd tradition in Legolas’ view, given that he already knew of his child’s gender early on due to their bond, and some elves went as far as to know their babe’s future appearance . He stated as much when the four hobbits got everyone into making their guess. The look on their faces was priceless! They begged for Legolas to tell yet he denied them. The only one who didn’t try to convince him was Estel. Having grown up with elves he was aware of the privacy of the matter, only ever shared among the parents-to-be. Still the ranger humored Merry by betting on a girl when they resumed their game.
Legolas just pursed his lips, not given any other clue. Suddenly he gave a yelp, bleaching as he reached for his small belly. Seeing the pain written in his friend’s brow Aragorn was by his side in an instant, and surprisingly enough so was Boromir . Placing an expert hand under the silky tunic and resting it against the soft skin the healer felt the muscle beneath taunt as Legolas’ own bowstring . “Help me lay him down”. The men did so and as soon as Legolas’ body stretched the pain seemed to leave him. “That’s better. How far along are you, Legolas?” Aragorn inquired.
The elf closed his eyes, puffs of air passed his lips as he tried to catch his breath. “Little over nine months”. Legolas could feel the unbelieving stares around him. Aragorn hurried to explain that elves gestated for exactly a year. Probably as courtesy to Boromir considering the man would have thought him going into labor by human standards . On the back of his mind Legolas heard a voice asking about the child. Panic-stricken, he shot upright clinging to the first thing his fists closed unto. Which happened to be a very embarrassed dirty-blond man’s tunic.
Wrapping his hands on the distressed archer’s wide shoulders Aragorn carefully turned him around to meet his own grey orbs, prying him away from Boromir . “Calm down, Mellon. Everything is fine”
“But the pain…Nin Gwinig…”
“Your baby is safe. It’s perfectly normal to star feeling some contractions by your stage on the pregnancy. Your body is preparing for childbirth.” Blue eyes widened further. “It does not mean this will be soon”, he remarked. “But they will get stronger until it happens”
Legolas just acknowledged it with tired resignation.
When they left that morning it was not Gimli in his boat but Merry and Pippin- having switched so the later could help the pregnant elf with paddling .
Over the next few days he was in equal parts amused and annoyed by his companion’s antics. They never gave the archer chance to pick up his own bag and constantly helped him in and out of the boats whether he wanted the aid or not . Legolas wasn’t accounted for the watches anymore, not that he got much sleep anyway. His nourishment also was supervised with the uttermost care. On one occasion Boromir had emerged from the forest behind them with a bounty of rabbits and a very self-satisfied looking Pippin in tow after Legolas had confided on the hobbit that he craved for an elvish hunting dish that consisted of the animals- which Aragorn had cooked for him . He got asked to feel the baby at least three times a day and the questions about both of their health came even more often .
All in all, he felt cared for and safe as if he was with his family back in Mirkwood and finally allowed himself to be just happy in the wait for his baby .
Then they were attacked on the edge of Rauros Falls and everything broke, the fellowship included . Frodo and Sam had left for Mordor on their own. Boromir had fallen. Merry and Pippin were taken away by orcs and Saruman’s foul creations. And Gimli, Aragorn and Legolas pursued them.
Three days and nights they ran, with only brief pauses for rest or to better track their way. Several times Gimli looked up at Legolas’ face in worry only to find his eyes glazed and unfocused, lost in elven dreams . It weighted on the dwarf as much as Aragorn to see their friend pushed to this exertion but there had been no other option . They had to rescue the hobbits and having Legolas go back to Lorien on his own would have been even more dangerous than him coming along .
By the time they came across the Rohirrim Legolas was all but shacking on his feet, a few drops of sweat well concealed on his hairline . The grim news Eomer bestowed did not help either. All remaining blood seemed to leave the blond’s face at the prospect of having lost their small friends to dead as well . Discreetly Gimli rested a hand on the small of Legolas’ back as he looked close to fainting. Eomer seemed to realize that too, for he handed them two of the magnificent horses of those lands before giving a sympathizing word for their pain and leaving them behind . Though grateful for the gift –and beyond his own despise for the big animals- Gimli wasn’t certain it was better for the tattered elf to ride than to continue on foot .
The site of the battle was not a far ride and the sight was horrible. Their hopes shattered the further they looked. Legolas stood still to the side. Head hanging and hand clutching his middle, a single quiet sob escaped his lips. The heartache adding to the increasing pain that clawed at his insides, coming back and forth through the day and stronger each time .
All of sudden there was a spark of light on their situation, a hope that Merry and Pippin may be alive. And everything else was forgotten for the time being as they followed the clues. Only to be halted again as they came to face the limits of Fangorn Forest.
“What madness drove them in there?”
Gimli’s musing was cut by a shriek. Turning round, they saw Legolas on his knees curling around his middle. Fair features contorted into a grimace and mouth open in a silent cry. Both man and dwarf rushed to his side.
“Did the pain come of sudden? Is it a contraction?” urged Aragorn, the healer in him taking over.
After a deep breath Legolas managed to utter through clenched teeth “Been having them all day…stronger now…and shorter apart"
Feeling his hands grow cold, Aragorn collected the shaking elf into his arms. With a sharp intake of breath, he noticed moisture on the back of his thighs. Searching the frightened blue eyes he found that Legolas already knew. Yet he felt like nodding and voicing it out for their companion. “You are in labor”
A second passed. Then two more. Gimli reacted eloquently .
Chapter 5: Birth and love
Translated from Sindarin in italics
"I thought you said elves were pregnant for a full year!"
"It must be the physical strain of the past few days. Alas, Legolas". Aragorn walked as even as he could -as to not further incommode his cargo- towards the line of trees. Finding a trunk thick enough to shield them from prying eyes just a few yards into the forest, he lowered the elf to rest against its bark. Making sure Gimli had followed, he ordered him to stay with Legolas and ran back to retrieve the horses.
About that time Gimli was hit with the fact that he knew nothing about births, nor had he ever attended one before. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d held a baby for crying out loud! Gulping, he looked down at his friend. The elf was holding his belly with trembling fingers, eyelids shut and mouth moving in rapid whispers Gimli didn’t understand. Sitting next to his propelled up knees and patting one as to reassure him of his presence Gimli hushed him “It’s going to be alright lad, you’ll see”.
Legolas nailed him with his blue stare and as he was about to speak another contraction hit him, in time with Aragorn’s return. The ranger placed a large pot filled with water on the ground and told Gimli to get it boiling. Meanwhile he extended one of the horses’ riding blankets over the forest floor and helped Legolas lay on it. Most of their original luggage they had left behind when their hunt began, so they had limited resources. Not that any of ç had carried birth materials anyway.
Helping Legolas out of his light shoes and his leggings he saw a blush cover both his companions and Gimli turned away so fast his neck gave a loud crack. Aragorn allowed himself a small snort, being completely unaffected thanks to his experience. Still he took the blond’s cape and covered his privates with it after a quick assess of the situation. “You are fairly far on, it should be a few hours from now”. Despite the satisfied words he had a stern frown and clicked his tongue before proceeding “How long have you been hiding the pain Legolas?”
The elf sighed “At first I thought them nothing. They began growing more intense this morning”. He bit hard on his lower lip as another contraction waved over him.
Face softening with the low whimper that left his dear friend, Aragorn reached over and secured a stray lock of golden hair behind a pointed ear. “The pain has still to reach its peak, rest while you can, Mellon. We will be right here” A set of pleading eyes found his own. “You would rather having us away?” Thick dark eyebrows rose in disbelief as Aragorn inquired. “I’m sorry Legolas, but your child is coming far before its time. Which I’m sure you know is unheard of for elves. You cannot deliver unassisted!”
“I know” the melodious voice broke. “Believe me, I know” Legolas took a calming breath, “You said it is still a few hours away. That is all I ask for. You of all people should know how personal this moment is for my kin. How much I suffer at the circumstances… And what will most likely be the outcome of this delivery” he had shifted into Sindarin in the middle of his speech. A single tear down his cheek betraying his blank façade.
“Then why? WHY, Legolas?!” The ranger erupted. “I have tried to be supportive. But I can’t keep quiet anymore. You knew this could happen! You knew what you were risking! So why did you accept joining in the first place? Why not go back to Mirkwood?” Aragorn didn’t even notice he had gotten up and began pacing like a caged animal until Legolas stood as well.
Leaning and grasping white-knuckled at the trunk for support. His half-thigh long tunic being the only cover of his dignity. “Because…” the elf snarled back in Westron, “There would be nothing for this child to go back to. You haven’t seen the darkness in Mirkwood.” He spat the name like it was poison on his tongue. “What you saw during your delivery of the creature Gollum was nothing! Nothing compared to the illness that corrupts my home from the Dark Fortress. Nothing of the spilt of elven blood and the cries of fear of every good being that still survives in the forest.” Pain again cut his speech and Legolas panted a few times as he clutched his stomach. “And yet we had hope. We hoped for the end of the darkness in all of Arda. We hoped for our Kingdom to come to its former glory and beauty. And because of that hope we wanted a child. Our own light to guide our hope and efforts. There have not been any elflings for many centuries. If we had one it would mean there was still hope for the elvenkin in Middle Earth, we thought. And our prayer was answered”
Gimli observed the faint sad smile in his friend’s lips, and it touched him deeply. With careful steps he crept to the shaking elf and helped him sit back down. Blue eyes far away and unfocussed. For a moment they though him asleep, until Legolas spoke again.
“I already knew, in my heart, when we arrived in Rivendel. And I felt joy. Then…” the murmur of his voice was heard clear in the utter silence around them, as if even the trees were holding their breath. “…I dreamt of my child. Grown into a beautiful elf…but in shackles. A slave of Mordor. No light on those eyes, so like my Glinuilos'. I could not bear it” He took a quivering breath. “The members of our fellowship were announced short after. And that night I dreamt of our family –all of us” he smiled down at his belly, “dancing and singing in Greenwood. Bright as I have never seen it. The Lady Arwen also had a vision once I had informed her of my decision. She saw two elflings playing together”. Aragorn’s head shot up to Legolas once more and was met with an earnest blue stare. “One she did not see his face, the other was mine. I knew that I had to go. I was needed in the quest and my heart would find no rest if I stayed behind. Yes, I knew what I was risking. But I would gladly embrace dead rather than serve the Dark Lord in slavery. So is it for any elf. And so is my decision for my child.” Tears now streamed freely down the exquisite face. Curled over himself with yet another contraction, Legolas gasped. “I do not want my gwinig to die. But I will not have him in the hands of Sauron, as long as there is breath in me to do something about it.” His voice -though small and parted on his heavy breathing- was resolute.
It was clear that the elf had exhausted himself with his rant. With a heavy conscience Aragorn was aware that his inquiring was to blame. Slowly, testing, the ranger kneeled by his side and rearranged the grey cape over the lithe frame. “I am sorry, Mellon-nin” he muttered, offering his waterskin to Legolas’ dry lips and gingerly helping him drink. “I do not share your reasoning, but I won’t disturb you further. What’s done is done.”
The blond pressed his mouth into a thin line “I have had my doubts. But that terrible image would haunt me every time I thought of quitting the quest”
“Hush…Don’t trouble yourself with that now.” Gimli petted the soft golden hair.
“He is right. Save your energies” Tucking the cape up to Legolas’ neck, Aragorn sighed and pulled a reluctant dwarf up with him. “You shall have your privacy for the time being. We will be within earshot”
For the hours that followed they scouted the nearby area, waiting. Their uneasiness and worry growing with Legolas’ ever louder tortured moans as the night fell upon them. Several times Gimli made to go back, only to be stopped and reassured that it was best to leave the elf alone by Aragorn. Though he was not so convinced himself. About six hours after sunset it grew on the dwarf’s nerves. “Should it be taking so long?” he grumbled.
It appeared the Valar heard him, for that instant Legolas cried out their names. In a matter of seconds they flew across the forest and were by his side.
With a quick glance under Legolas’ cape, Aragorn began removing his bracers and everything along his arms. Rolling up his sleeves he washed his hands on the boiled water and lit the fire under the pot again, placing a small dagger inside. Turning back to Legolas still propelled against the three, Aragorn sat between his spread knees and folded the cape over his stomach. “Listen, Legolas, I can already see the baby’s head but you will have to push it out”
The elf in question left out a strained growl. “What do you think I have been doing for the past forty minutes?!”
“And you are doing an excellent job!”
Gimli stood a few steps away, petrified by the scene and jaw hanging open. An agonizing cry brought him out of his stupor. As he got closer he really looked at his birthing friend. Dishevelled and pallid as the moon, Legolas was writhing in pain. Hands fisting and releasing the blanket beneath him between grunts and moans. At this Gimli made a motion to take one of the elf’s hands but was cut short by a hard elbow to his shoulder.
“Don’t. He will break it and that would help no one” Aragorn contested to the redhead’s glare with a shake of his head, returning his eyes down to more important matters.
Cursing under his breath Gimli settled for taking a cloth to Legolas’ sweating brow, removing a few strands of golden hair that had stuck there.
“The head’s crowing” Aragorn exclaimed a while later. “Stop pushing!”
Legolas tucked his chin into his chest, groaning “I have to. I feel I have to”
“I know and I know it hurts but is very important that you stop. Pant instead, you’ll feel better”. For some minutes all was silence save for Legolas' forceful panting, then his screaming. “It’s alright. Don’t push, don’t push! Pant! Perfect!” Aragorn looked up at the blond, smiling.
Not being able to resist the curiosity, Gimli stretched his neck to take a peak. He felt dizzy at the sight but there it was indeed. A small round head held in Aragorn’s hands. He even managed to see a tiny pointed ear! “The head is out!” Gimli cheered.
“Yes, and with the next contraction you can push if you are ready” spoke the ranger. Legolas tilted his head back to rest against the tree, teeth flashing out in a snarl. With the uttermost gentleness Aragorn retracted on the baby’s head, guiding it up. Shifting his hand to support the child’s neck and head he helped out one shoulder after the other.
With one final excruciating push the baby was born and placed immediately on its father’s stomach to be rubbed clean and dry.
“We won the bet, it is a girl!” the dwarf laughed, teasing yet overjoyed.
Aragorn took a quick look before wrapping the grey cape around the newborn. “No, it’s not” he replied, grinning at the horrified realization of his blunder in Gimli’s face as his dark eyes shifted from the baby to their friend and back.
Despite his weakness Legolas wounded his arms around the bundle and drew his baby close up to his chest, who began wailing at the movement. Releasing a breath he didn’t know he was holding Legolas choked down a sob of his own. “He is gorgeous”. Both his friends turned their attention back at him, but Legolas only had eyes for his son. He was mesmerized. The baby was minuscule, with a head-full of blond hair and a tiny peaked nose. He traced the round soft cheeks and leaned down to kiss them. “It’s alright, ion-nin. Ada is here” he soothed and the baby stopped his cries, blinking up at him with wide eyes the colour of ice. The air was knocked out of Legolas and he mumbled “Glinuilos, Melleth-nin. I have found our star in the darkest of nights. I wish you were here”
Aragorn sighed, urging Gimli to say something to their dispirited elf as he delivered the afterbirth.
“Congratulations, lad. You did great! You can be proud of yourself. Just listen to those lungs!” True, the baby was crying loudly once more. But instead of lifting his spirits, Legolas seemed to sink deeper in his sorrow.
“He is hungry. His mother should be here, I can’t…I am not equipped to feed him now that he is born” his breathing took a rapid pace. “I am a fool. We were hasty to conceive a child and I have been nothing but reckless ever since. My King is despairing in his search for me. My wife missed the whole pregnancy and birth of her firstborn. And now my sweet child must starve, all because of my choices!” Legolas was downright hyperventilating, tears blurred his vision and fell down onto the agitated baby’s face. His arms shook with the effort of not giving into exhaustion and unconsciousness.
Seeing this Gimli grasped the blond’s shoulders and gave a gentle shake “Legolas, breathe! Calm down, for Durin’s bear!” He looked over to Aragorn for help but found a pair of frightened grey eyes instead. Further down he saw the reason, “Why is there so much blood?” the dwarf sputtered.
“The long labour is my best guess.” Aragorn hurried to press a clean cloth against the bleeding opening. The elf kept babbling ‘He will die’, over and over in his panicked state. “Legolas! He’s survived this far and he still lives. We’ll find a way but right now I need you focused!”
Legolas gave a deep sigh and blue orbs trained on grey ones, but he repeated in resignation “He will die”
“And so would you if you don’t get a grip, dammit! What do you think would happen to your wife if you die? To Thranduil?! They will fade! And any chance this child has of surviving now will die with you.” Aragorn snapped, desperately trying to remember if he had seen any athelas around the area and chastising himself for not taking his bag of healing supplies back in Rauros.
Legolas screwed his face in misery but his breathing steadied. He was just so tired. Through the fog in his mind he remembered Lady Galadriel’s gift which hung around his neck. But he had not the strength to reach for it nor the willingness to take his hands off his baby. “Gimli” He called weakly. “There is a vial…around my neck”. The redhead felt around his collar for the string and carefully passed it over Legolas’ head, handing it to Aragorn who recognized it on the spot.
“Mallorn-tree oil! Arwen always brings a supply for her father from Lorien”. He explained in haste, trained fingers already applying it.
Only a slight jump and a grimace testified of the discomfort Legolas was undoubtedly feeling. “Hold on there, master elf” Gimli chanted. But as Aragorn brought his bloodied hands to massage hard down on the pale skin of his belly, the pain overcame him and all strength abandoned the Prince. His eyes shut tightly and his body went limp. With his Ada passed out, the tiny bundle would have fallen off had it not been caught by Gimli’s sturdy arms. “Aragorn! What do we do? Should I wake him?”
Backing off from the bloody mess with a final survey of his work Aragorn glanced up to the shivering elf’s pallid face, before shaking his head “Nay. The bleeding is already ceasing and is still an hour or two before dawn. Let him rest”. The ranger sighed, placing his own cape over the unconscious Legolas. Taking the dagger from the boiling water, he gestured for the dwarf to come over. He understood that was a poor choice of actions as Gimli’s eyes grew the size of plates and he held the infant closer to his chest, away from Aragorn.
“What will you do? You cannot-“
“Of course not!” Aragorn interrupted, horrified. “I would never-” not being able to even voice such atrocity, he rather elaborated “The cord must be cut. You can do it, if you distrust my words”
Noticing the long purple cord hanging from his precious cargo, Gimli nodded. Then shook his head “Nay, I can’t do it. I don’t know how”
“Come on, don’t tell me Gimli son of Gloin is afraid of a small dagger work” Aragorn thrusted the object into the dwarf’s hand, taking the newborn to hold on his own arms and seeing him thoroughly for the first time. “He so is small, it is indeed a miracle he lives”
“He is about the size of dwarrowling” Gimli shrouded, fidgeting with the blade “What do I do?”
“Tie this around the cord...” Aragorn drew out a leather strap and passed it over. Handling the baby with one arm to remove the cover only around the cord. “...Three inches of yours from his belly and cut above it. It won’t hurt him”
Doing as he was instructed, Gimli held his breath before cutting through the flesh in a rapid move. The baby didn’t even stir and he sighed in relief. Coming closer he looked down at the little elfling, who sucked his thumb in peaceful slumber. The image was so sweet and heart-warming that Gimli felt his eyes prickle. Aragorn’s dark head fell against the bundle and his broad shoulders shook once. Looking away, his glance fell on the blond’s alabaster face. A slight frown disturbing his well-deserved rest. There and then Gimli made a vow. He didn’t know how but they would see that this child lived, for not only Legolas’ heart would shatter if he died.
Legolas’ eyes opened when he woke up come morning, which he found strange. Across from him Aragorn dozed with his back against a young tree, sword bare on his lap. Confusion swam on Legolas’ head. Then there was wailing -loud and clear as bells- and everything came rushing back to him. He managed it half-way up before two strong hands forced him to lay back down and a pair of grey eyes scolded him.
“It’s alright Legolas. He’s fine”
Gimli came into his field of vision, grey bundle held protectively against his wide chest. Legolas rose a trembling hand and the dwarf hurried to place the babe down by his face. Seeing his friend press his forehead against his son’s in tenderness, Gimli felt the need to reassure him “Slept all through the night, the little one. Didn’t even cry until now”
Legolas seemed not to hear him, lost as he was on his love.
“Mellon, we must continue our hunt” Aragorn sighed, hating to disrupt the peaceful moment. “We have yet to find our hobbits. And we do owe them six pints of ale each” He snickered, remembering how the two trouble makers had dragged Boromir onto their side of the bet.
“I still have some trouble with that bet” Gimli grumbled. Taking off his own cape, he placed it on the grown next to the baby, folding two opposite corners inwards. He made to take the child but a dangerous blue glare and an iron grip on his wrist halted him.
“I. Will. Carry. My. Child”
Gimli was unintimidated. “I know, master elf. Which is why I meant to wrap him in the fashion of my people” He freed his arm calmly. Helping him sit against the three trunk, Gimli placed the folded cape over Legolas’ lap “You see, dwarf women are stubborn as yourself. A couple of days after giving birth you see them working like nothing happened. But they are also fiercely protective. So they use this wrappings to carry their dwarrowlings around and still be able to work with both hands.” By the end of his speech the cape was tied over one shoulder behind Legolas’ back, child cocooned across his chest and his tiny head resting against his ada’s heart.
“You said you haven’t been around dwarrowlings for many years” Teased Aragorn, helping the elf into a spare pair of pants –courtesy of one of the horses’ former rider- and his light boots. He heard Gimli grumble something about cousins and unforgettable dirty diapers. Shifting his attention back to the blond he caught a grimace, and not for the first time Aragorn feared the early birth would take its toll. “Can you walk?”
His whole body felt strained and his center burned hot with pain, yet Legolas nodded.
As the others picked up the remaining of their makeshift camp, he stood. His legs shook but the mere thought of falling and hurting his baby was enough to steady him. He willed one foot in front of the other and so were three had stopped four now departed.
For a while they walked in tense silence. Legolas hiding the pain and effort each step took from him, and his companions pretending they didn’t see the sweat on the archer’s brow nor hear his heavy breathing.
Eager to distract his friend from his discomfort, Gimli asked something that had been nagging at the back of his mind since the previous night “Have you chosen a name yet?”
Aragorn’s eyes sparkled as he turned to face Legolas “How about Estel? He was born on my name-day, after all”
Legolas blinked at him. “May the Valar bless your years with happiness and may they be grand in number” A smirk curled his fair lips and walking past he patted Aragorn’s shoulder “But I am not going to name my child after you, Mellon”
Gimli guffawed, passing his well wishes as well. “So not Estel. Still it will be easier to refer to him other than child or babe”
“I call him Gwinig”
“Prince Little Baby. Befitting for the Royal house of Mirkwood. Your court will be pleased” teased Aragorn.
“It will not be his name. For that, I will wait.” bellowed Legolas in a sober tone, walking ahead with his back to them. “If nothing else his mother should partake in naming her firstborn”
Not a word dared passed neither man’s nor dwarf’s lips on the matter afterwards.
With the passing hours of the day their hopes of finding their friends wagged, along with Legolas’ forces. The exhaustion and the pain heightened by the incessant whispering of the trees around him that the white wizard was coming.
He sighed in deep relief when it turned out to be Gandalf, for Legolas feared that he no longer would’ve been able to protect his child otherwise.
But Gandalf it was, and they all rejoiced on their reunion.
Most of all Legolas, marveled as he was of having the first of his companions to have supported him with his pregnancy come back from the dead when he was so sorely needed. Such was his excitement that the world spun and he grew lightheaded as the baby began crying loudly.
“Why, Legolas sit down.” The wizard ushered him as soon as he laid eyes on the pallid elf. “I must congratulate you, Mellon. That sounds like a very healthy elfling for its early arrival” Gandalf grinned, sitting next to them.
Legolas slouched in the rock he sat upon, face scrunched and his lip quivered “He has not fed yet”
Gandalf seemed unfazed by this “He. A boy, then. May I see him?”
The blond gave him a confused scowl but none the less untangled the wrapping and held the screaming child for him to see.
“As fair as his parents” said Gandalf with a smile, rubbing a chubby cheek. He ran through his robes and pulled out a small flask filled with clear water. Removing the lid, he handed it to Legolas “A gift from a friend of mine. This should nurture him more than enough until we have reached the Halls of Théoden King and a maiden can lend her help”
Legolas eyed the liquid closely –it looked and smelled like regular water- before dipping a finger in it and taking it with the uttermost care to the baby’s mouth. The elfling stopped wailing at once and sucked on the finger. Legolas smiled.
As they observed the tender moment between father and son, Aragorn questioned “The Halls of Théoden? But what of our hobbits, Gandalf?”
“Worry not. They are now off to play a big part in this quest”
Thus Gandalf laid to them the whole story of his battle with the Balrog and resurrection, and of his brief encounter with the ents and their two hobbits.
All along, Legolas was absolutely immerse in the task of feeding his son. Drop by drop he emptied the flask into the baby’s tiny mouth, a look of adoration adorning his features. Gandalf commented once that a sip of that liquid could do Legolas great good in regaining his strengths as well, but it fell on deaf hears.
Once it was done they made their way out of the forest. Despite everything Legolas had loved the ancient ambient and mentioned so to Gimli, who in returned promised to accompany him back there on future travels.
Gandalf called on his stunning stallion and they were off, riding swift as the wind through the fields of Rohan.
That Legolas didn’t pass out from the excruciating pain that the rough ride caused him was indeed a miracle.
The baby didn’t cry anymore for the rest of their journey to Edoras. He was awake a few times on the brief pauses they took to let the horses rest, but contented himself with staring at his ada’s tired face or at the colorful sparks the wizard made for him.
More often than not, however, it was Gimli who the baby entertained himself with.
While riding, Legolas had accepted that Gimli carried his son since it could be dangerous for him otherwise. Both infant and dwarf got along well, and caring after the child proved a great the distraction for Gimli’s dislike of horses. When they stopped Legolas would insist on holding his baby, but his fading forces would have his eyes glazing over and closing halfway as soon as Gwinig was in his arms.
Aragorn also tried to take the child, but his gooing over him would have the babe screw his face red every time.
They arrived at Edoras two nights after leaving Fangorn, and found it under the corruption of Saruman’s words already. There was a struggle with the King’s guard but Mithrandir managed to rid Théoden of the spell that had befallen him and the King himself cast out the Wormtongue.
“Where is Legolas?” asked Gimli, noticing that he hadn’t followed them outside.
“My Lords!” called one of the guards from the door, wide eyed “The elf fainted!”
If anything it was surprising that it didn’t happen sooner, thought Aragorn rushing up the stairs. Legolas had been barely able to stand on his feet when they arrived and the fight had not done him any good.
Bursting through the door they found the elf sprawled on his back on the floor, his head pillowed in the lap of a maiden and his hands clutched at the wailing bulge wrapped across his chest.
Legolas had refused at once any chance of leaving the baby at anyone’s care before they had even entered the city, saying that if there was to be a fight he would be best to protect his child. The fire in his eyes had prevented anyone from speaking up against him. Instead they’ve just put another cape around his shoulder to cover the bulge.
The woman had noticed the crying and made to reach for the baby.
Gimli dove forward first and gave the woman a warning glance before working the knot on Legolas’ shoulder loose and holding Gwinig close. He didn’t mean to be rude, but these people had just attacked them.
Aragorn quickly assessed the baby in Gimli’s arms. Once he made sure that the fall hadn’t hurt him, the Ranger turned to Legolas. His lips were chapped and his eyes shut, skin as pale as it had been after the delivery and covered in a cold sweat.
“What is the matter with her?” Théoden inquired from above them.
Aragorn almost snorted. With the cape covering the bulk on his chest, Legolas had indeed seemed like a…well-proportioned elleth. “He just gave birth.” Aragorn didn’t have the time to mind the confused expressions all around the hall.
Taking his friend in arms he asked where they had the healing quarters.
A young lady dressed in white showed him the way and Aragorn recognized her as Eówyn, Théoden’s niece. Behind them followed Gimli and the petite woman from before.
They arrived at a room with three windows and six beds. Aragorn placed his cargo in the closest one and began taking Legolas’ pants off.
Taking pity on the ladies’ discomfort, Gimli called to them “The little one hasn’t eaten yet. Wouldn’t you ladies know someone who can…?” He cleared his throat, unsure as how to finish.
Fortunately, they understood.
“This is Lyd, my maid. She’s currently nursing her own child” Eówyn introduced as the other woman sat on the bed next to Gimli and extended her arms.
She had strawberry blond hair and gave him a pretty smile when Gimli passed her the baby. Lyd accommodated Gwinig in one arm and with the other hand she uncovered his tiny face. He cried still, distressed at his ada’s absence and now at the stranger. Lyd hushed him softly and –unbothered by the dwarf’s stare- brought one of her breasts out and into the baby’s mouth.
Gimli jerked his head away, but was glad to hear the babe’s peppy sucking.
From the other bed Aragorn sighed and asked the Lady of Rohan for some medical supplies. Legolas had been bleeding again. Almost nothing, he assured at the worried face of the dwarf, but it must have been painful nevertheless.
They cleaned and treated him. Eówyn had some fresh clothes brought for all three men -along with a crib to lay the child, and baby clothing-, and she valiantly helped Aragorn change the elf into them.
Around the time they were done Gandalf appeared at the door. “The King asks for you, Lady Eówyn”
She excused herself, as well as her lady, and with a lingering look at Aragorn they left.
“Théoden extends his hospitality to you and sends his wishes of a swift recovery to our friend” Gandalf had walked up to the sleeping elf’s bed and sat down. Legolas seemed to be faring better already but had yet to wake up.
The crib had been placed next to the bed, at arm’s reach from his ada. The wizard threw a glance over at Gwinig, “Uhm, curious effect of the Ent’s water” he spoke to himself.
Dressed in a soft woolen dress instead of wrapped in a bundle, it became obvious to all three of them that the baby was larger than he had been three days ago when he was born.
He now was a bit bigger than the average newborn elf or human, stated Aragorn.
Happily curious indeed.
Legolas regained consciousness that same night. And since he was too weak to do anything else anyway, he seized the chance to simply enjoy the time with his baby.
He bathed his son for the first time. He sang ancient lullabies and told Gwinig tales of his mother and of his people whilst he was cradled against Legolas’ chest. He heard the baby’s first laugh and soothed his crying. Many a memory of those moments would Legolas cling to in the forthcoming horrors of battle.
At least for the couple of days it took before Legolas was back on his feet. It amazed the Rohirrim how fast the elf recovered from the traumatic childbirth.
During that time, as the King mourned the dead of his only son Théodred, tidings came from all of Rohan of the attack that Isengard had set upon them. The King decided to send everyone who couldn’t defend themselves in battle to Dunharrow, while every available warrior went with him to the Fortress of Helm’s Deep.
With a heavy heart, Legolas knew this meant the time to part from his Gwinig was come.
He no longer was forced to bring the child about with him to the perils of the war. And Legolas would not stand down from his part on the coming battles, least all the suffering he had brought upon himself and his family be for nothing.
The child grew stronger each day, noted Gimli out loud as Gwinig did a valiant effort to crush the dwarf’s finger in his hand. He didn’t mind it. This will likely be the last time Gimli got to spend any time with the baby.
“Seems he will be as tenacious as his father” mussed Aragorn, standing by the window. They were all ready to leave.
At that moment Legolas slipped inside the room, eyes downcast.
After him came the Lady Éowyn and lady Lyd.
Gimli wordlessly handed the elfling to his father and received a small nod of gratitude before Legolas sat down on the bed.
“I have written to your grandfather,” he spoke softly in Sindarin, holding his child up close to his face, “and to your mother. They will meet you soon.” A thick nod formed in Legolas’ throat then as he said “I must leave you now, my sweet child” He glanced at the women by the door. “The lady Lyd will care for you. You will not notice I am gone”
Not understanding the language didn’t blind Gimli to the mournful tone of his friend’s voice nor to the moist pooling in his blue eyes. It was goodbye. Coming forth, he placed a hand on the archer’s shoulder. “He’ll be alright, lad.”
Legolas blinked forcefully and a tear made its way down his cheek. He brought his Gwinig close to kiss his forehead, his nose, his cheeks, his hair. He took a shuddering breath before raising and striding up to Lyd. His eyes, however, were trained on the Lady of Rohan. “I leave at your charge an elven Prince of Greenwood, Lady Éowyn” There was a dangerous undertone to his words. A warning that she would be held responsible if anything befell the child.
Éowyn’s eyes widened and her maid squirmed besides her, but she was confident when she replied “I trust Lyd with my life. The Prince will be safe.”
Legolas nodded and with a heavy sigh placed his most precious son on the waiting arms of the wet nurse. “My people will come for him ere long”
“Will they recognized him? There are plenty of babes traveling to Dunharrow Gimli cringed as soon as he spoke. He wasn’t sure which was more shameful- implying that the Rohirrim would lie to keep the elfling or assuming that the elves would let themselves be fooled. But worse treason he had heard of as of late, and anxiety clawed at his heart at the mere possibility.
“They would recognize him” smiled Legolas, tracing his fingers over a tiny pointy ear. “And even if they did not…” from a fold in his tunic he pulled a green river stone- Gimli’s gift. Aragorn had helped fashion it into a pendant with the strap made of Legolas’ golden hair. The archer tied it loose around Gwinig’s neck and leaned down to kiss his sleeping baby. “…I always would. And I will come back to him”
They parted soon afterwards. Father towards Helm’s Deep to fight, and son to Dunharrow and long last safety.
Long did Legolas’ piercing eyes follow their march, until finally he had to turn ahead and don’t look back- least he changed his mind and followed his son.
If he had watched but a little longer, he would have seen a small party of elven riders making for the other group. Glistening mithril crowning the flowing mane of the leader.
This is the actual end of the story, but an epilogue is on its way ;D
Chapter 7: Epilogue
This is more based on the movie verse :D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The Ring was destroyed. Sauron defeated. And what remained of their Fellowship, alive and reunited again.
It was dreamlike, almost impossible for Legolas who had though his friends (and himself) lost more than once. He’d had faith in the success of their Quest all along, but he had come to believe for a time that it would cost them their lives. It had nearly cost Sam and Frodo theirs.
As they made their weary march back to Minas Tirith, Legolas’ mind drifted back to his son and his family. And to his newly found love of the sea.
The though got a tired smile out of him- Glinuilos would murder him for going and getting sea longing when they finally had everything they had wished for in Middle-Earth.
Legolas sighed and Gimli shifted from his seat behind him on the horse.
“Everything all right, laddie?” the dwarf’s voice came muffled by Legolas’ own shoulder. Gimli had gotten used to horse riding but didn’t like any more than before and thus held tightly onto his friend, thumbs buckled on Legolas’ belt. “Have you hid pain from us again?”
“Nay, friend Gimli. My heart aches for the fate of my child”
“Then you worry needlessly. Have we not been informed by the Horse Master that your wife took him from the Lady Éowyn not long after we left him?” Gimli cursed under his breath, suddenly realizing “Or is it the sea that steals your thoughts away from him?”
Legolas took a shuddering breath, but had not the heart to answer.
Indeed Éomer had told them of his sister’s meeting with the party from Mirkwood and the elven princess among them. It gladdened him to know both mother and child had finally found each other. But what became of them after, Legolas knew not.
That they would have stayed there with the Rohirrim was unlikely. And whether they went to Lorién or dared to travel back all the way to their woods danger would have followed them, for tidings had reached Legolas of the dark legions’ assault on both elven lands.
The knot on his throat didn’t allow him any more words until they reached the citadel of the white city.
He couldn’t speak once in the shelter of the inner halls, either.
Not a second after dismounting his horse the doors to the court flew open and an elleth flung herself at Legolas’ arms.
It took his startled and battle-weary mind a heartbeat or two before he dropped his hand from his empty quiver and wrapped it around the elleth’s waist, finally recognizing the scent of her hair and the feel of her body pressed against his.
“Glinuilos” Legolas breathed out. He squeezed her as close as he could, burying his face on the honey blond curls of his wife. “Na vedui.”
The princess trembled, tears flooding her icy eyes “Gwannas lû and, melleth-nin.”
Aragorn smiled at the loving meeting and was swift to usher the servants that were taking the injured hobbits to their resting rooms. Only the four of them and Gandalf remained in the hall.
“This is all very touching but would you not help an old dwarrow get down from this beast!”
Turning to the fumbling redhead, Aragorn laughed and helped him to his feet.
Glinuilos pulled away barely enough to look at her husband’s face.
Then proceed to bestow him a half-hearted slap across the cheek.
Gimli gaped at the pair, Aragorn had to suppress a snort and Gandalf eyebrows reached his hairline.
“That was for being a reckless selfless nightmare” she cried. Legolas began to mouth a response but she pulled their lips together into a desperate kiss, short as it was. “And that was for what you did for Middle-earth…”she sighed, putting their foreheads together and staring deeply into his eyes “…and for the son you gave me.”
Aragorn cleared his throat and Legolas smiled, turning to them with the fair elleth still in his arms “You two already know her, Aragorn and Mithrandir. But may I present to you, friend Gimli: Glinuilos Princess of the Woodland Realm, my wife” He spoke full of pride.
The redhead did the customary low bow of his people. “Gimli, son of Gloin, m’lady. At your service. I may also say that despite all I heard of you, your husband’s tales don’t do justice to your beauty” And with this his cheeks turn slightly pink.
In truth the princess was fair in ways different that any elleth Gimli had seen. Not the pure pale gleam of Lady Arwen and not like the glistening unearthly shine of the Lady Galadriel, but a wild and powerful beauty. Mighty like the sight of the snowy peaks of Caradhras yet delicate like the intricate patterns of light swept through the foliage. Her skin was fawn beige, her delicate features peppered with freckles upon her nose and cheeks, her brow strong and her eyes, intense and calculating, were of a most impressive hue of white.
Glinuilos smiled and bowed her head to all three of them, but then she untangled herself from Legolas to take the hands of both king and dwarf. “What you did for my family that night in the limits of Fangorn, my heart will not forget. Come and passed all the ages of this world, I will remember that you were there when I could not. Thank you.”
Her moist honest gaze bore into them and Gimli blushed under it, Aragorn nodded and replied “It was our honor.”
Quick as an arrow she turned on her heel and embraced the wizard “And thank you too, Mithrandir! For saving Celegil’s life when his mother was unviable!”
Gandalf’s response as he patted the elleth’s back died in Legolas’ ears, drowned beneath the thundering of his heart. He stood frozen in place.
His Gwinig’s name was Celegil.
“My love?” Glinuilos murmured before his eyes. They were now alone. “Will you come see our child?”
“Our child.” He echoed, while his princess guided him through the hallways and up the stairs. A tear fell down his cheek.
The sound of relieved laughter filled the hallway in the morning light, dissipating any doubt that the ringbearer had finally awoken.
Two overly eager hobbits ran past them and Aragorn’s laughter joined the elven couple’s as the King placed a hand on Legolas shoulder.
Gimli looked over his shoulder to grin broadly at them. “Hobbits” he said simply.
Reaching the last door Gimli entered, and Glinuilos nodded for Aragorn to follow. Once more the room erupted in cheers.
She placed the baby on her husband’s arms and pushed him inside with a quick “you go first”.
Gandalf sat with his pipe in hand at the bedside. Aragorn and Gimli stood by its foot. Bundled up in the bed were all four hobbits. Once Legolas was inside the room they gasped loudly and unlike with every other member of the fellowship, they went silent.
Man, dwarf and wizard glanced at him and then focused on the faces of the hobbits, not wanting to miss their expressions.
It was the first time any of the halflings saw the baby.
“Legolas,” Frodo choked, “is that…?”
Legolas smiled radiantly. Celegil on his part made a gurgling noise and began to suck his fist.
Both Merry and Pippin gave wet laughs, and Sam pressed his palms against his burning eyes “Ah, cricket! I promised myself I wouldn’t cry!” he cried.
“Get closer” suggested Aragorn and Legolas complied. The hobbits made room for him on Frodo’s bed and he sat down. He set the baby on his lap, but after a moment of hesitation Legolas stretched and placed in on Frodo’s.
The ringbearer’s arms flew in panic to hold the child in place and he looked at Legolas, wide eyed.
Legolas only chuckled.
“This way Frodo, you need to support its head” To everyone’s surprise it was Pippin who reacted first, accommodating the elfling in his cousin’s arms. “What? I have several siblings!” The not-anymore-youngest replied in defense at the other’s astonished faces.
“As if that were uncommon in the Shire” Merry huffed and reached to caress one of the baby’s bawled fists. “And speaking of Shire common-things…”
Pippin caught his meaning in the air, his eyes shining “Is it a girl or a boy?”
Legolas grinned cryptically, “Celegil was the name we chose.”
Both Merry and Pippin groaned and Frodo smiled “They will tell you yes and no” he murmured the old saying about elves. Having calmed down, he stared mesmerized at the little elfling, who returned it as best has he could with his icy eyes.
The archer laughed wholeheartedly “If you must know, Master Peregrine, then I will speak.” Legolas nailed his eyes on Frodo, as he said “It is a boy”, and wasn’t disappointed by his reaction. Poor Frodo almost dropped the baby along with his jaw.
The two younger hobbits howled in joy and jumped from the bed to prance in circles boasting their triumph.
Sam shook his head, he pressed his lips together in mild resignation and Gimli placed a sympathetic hand on the gardener’s shoulder.
The celebration broke, however, when Celegil decided he was hungry and the other members of the fellowship learned that elven voices were not always melodious.
Glinuilos had not wanted to overwhelm the recovering Frodo with too many introductions, so instead she had waited until a celebration was held a few days later for the closest friends of King Elessar to meet the hobbits along with many other heroes of the war.
Compliments of fairness and bravery had flew back and forth, but Merry specially was charmed by the princess and offered to babysit Celegil any time needed. Soon the other three hobbits joined their offers and it ended up in a sort of contest of who was better suited to look after the elfling.
Legolas and Glinuilos simply shared a knowing smile, Celegil had more babysitters than time his mother or father were willing to depart from him. At any given time the two elves would be together, and if the baby wasn’t held by one of then it was only because he was in the arms of the other.
It was so even in Aragorn coronation, where the child had spent most of the ceremony chewing on his ada’s hair whilst his mother cradled him, none of them seeming to notice or mind.
By Aragorn’s request the fellowship would stay at least until he was wed to Lady Arwen, and the new parents had decided that they wouldn’t dare the journey back to Mirkwood at least until Celegil was six months old.
They sent a messenger to Mirkwood, to bring tidings of his grandson to the Elven-king.
They needn’t trouble themselves.
Close to two months after the fall of Sauron, the horns of the heralds of King Thranduil rang crystal clear through the white city.
It took everyone by surprise. Why, he had made better time than Elrond and Arwen who came from closer land!
As hurried as he could muster Aragorn prepared a welcome- though nowhere near as it should have been had the Oropherion announced of his coming- and waited for him at the gate of the courtyard.
Thranduil’s guard was much smaller than what protocol demanded: barely six guards, a standard-bearer and the elven-king himself.
“Welcome, King Thranduil of the Woodland Realm!” Exclaimed Aragorn with a respectful nod of his head as soon as the elves halted their horses. All of the people gathered behind him bowed as well and Aragorn bit down the impulse to grin sideways at Faramir, who had advised him into choosing this escort.
Thranduil on his part looked distinctly annoyed at the gathered party, but schooled his expression into a blank one as he dismounted and strode graceful up to Aragorn “King Elessar” and nodded back. “I do realize that my visit is unannounced and unexpected. I am afraid that I must ask that you overlook my disregard of protocol, in the light of the events that bring me to your land in such haste”
His normally cool voice carried a hurried undertone and Aragorn’s face softened. This was not a King come to demand that his heir return to his duty, but a father whose son had been lost to a hopeless mission in the most dire situation.
“Think nothing of it. Now if you would follow me this way…” Aragorn turned to guide the elf but Faramir cleared his throat loudly.
“King Elessar,” Thranduil called, unmoved from where he was “my people have traveled much to grant the wishes of their King” he spoke slow, pointedly.
Aragorn felt young and dumb, “Of course, Lord Faramir will arrange that they are well served”
Faramir nodded and signaled for one of their escort to fetch the stable boys, while he spoke to the others indications of the rooms they would take their guests to.
Nodding at his steward, Aragorn spread his arm. “Now… this way”
Aragorn didn’t bother trying to make small conversation with the elven king, instead settling on stealing side glances at him as they strode down the corridors.
Thranduil looked disheveled, for an elf. Though most who hadn’t spent as much time with elves as he had wouldn’t notice.
His flaxen hair was loose –instead of fixed into traveling plaids- and slightly ruffled from the hasty riding, the mithril crown on his head crooked barely to the side. There was a well-disguised limp on his left leg and with a start Aragorn noticed that he had lost weight, even in the tight traveling robes and light armor it was noticeable.
Out of sudden Thranduil stop in his tracks and his breath quickened.
The wailing reached Aragorn a bit latter just as the blond king sprang into action, leaping high the flight of stairs in the blink of an eye.
Aragorn thought to follow, but quickly dismissed the idea and turned on his heel.
Legolas had wanted privacy, after all.
Thranduil burst through the door and froze, eyes wide. There stood his Greenleaf with his back to him, as beautiful in the dim light of the twilight as he had ever been. His little leaf.
In the back of his mind Thranduil registered the voice of his daughter-in-law greeting him, Legolas smiled at him over his shoulder and echoed her ‘my King’, turning fully to face him.
What little breath was in him after the relief of seeing his son alive and well left him entirely at the sight of the child cradled against his Legolas’ chest.
Whether Legolas drew closer or he drifted over them Thranduil knew not, but suddenly they were so close that he was looking down directly at the elfling’s face and breathing in the smell of beech and sunlight that had always carried his son.
He raised a trembling hand to gingerly caress with a finger his grandchild’s cheek.
Thranduil sighed deeply, letting the months of worry and hopelessness drain from his body as he dragged his gaze up to his son’s bright face. Legolas had a watery smiled, and Thranduil felt tears down his own cheeks.
Thranduil’s hand shot up to cup his son’s face while the other grasped at his arm.
“Isn’t he wonderful?”
His shoulders were shaking. Or was it Legolas’?
“I did it, ada. Look at him, I did it” Legolas choked.
Thranduil held his son and his grandson close and brought his lips to Legolas’ brow. It didn’t matter that they both were crying over the baby.
Centuries seemed to pass before they let go of each other.
Finally Thranduil sat down on the armchair by the fireplace, the weariness of his long journey catching up to him.
Legolas bent over to him and dropped the sleeping baby in his daeradar’s experienced arms before seating with his legs folded beneath him in front of them. Thranduil looked tired.
Glinuilos ha left to let them have their moment.
“His name…” came the king’s thread of a voice.
Thranduil chuckled, “He was born before his time.”
There was no reproach in his father’s voiced and Legolas hummed contently.
“He looks much like my father” the older elf whispered, pressing the sleeping child against his breast with a tenderness rarely seen in him.
“He will look like you” Legolas answered swiftly. “I have seen it. He will be fair and taller than us both, and he will live free in the woods.”
Something of that statement caught the king’s attention and he bore his steel blue eyes into Legolas’. What he read, Legolas could tell for the concealed horror that fell like a curtain over his father’s face.
Thranduil turned to the child and traced the soft flaxen curls on top of his head “You were not much older than this when your mother left, did you know?” Both father and son swallowed. “I tried to convince her to stay at least until you could stand and talk. But the sea-longing was too hard on her, so she placed you in my arms and kissed us farewell to travel west.”
Cold eyes bore into Legolas, but he would not meet them.
“She never made it to the Havens”
“I will not leave!” Legolas covered his mouth with his hand and waited, but thankfully his outburst hadn’t waken Celegil. He huffed. “I have promised. I promised my love, my friends, my son and myself!” he hissed in a low voice. “No matter how it tugs at me, I will not answer the call of the west until Aragorn has passed and Celegil allows me to”
“Then do not let it destroy you, ion-nin”
Never again did they speak of the matter.
Thranduil stayed for a whole of two months, but no more for their steward could not fulfill the negotiations with Celeborn and their people needed their King.
He urged Legolas not to tarry once the young prince was fit for travel, since their people had also suffered from this war and the beacon of hope and joy that Celegil signified was much needed in the recovery of their forest from the darkness.
Legolas chuckled at imagining the magnitude of the welcome his son would receive at his arrival home.
In the meantime, the hobbits made sure to visit Celegil everyday if possible –they insisted that since he had departed with them from Rivendel, his son was a member of the fellowship- and marveled at the speed of the development of elfling on their first age of life.
Faramir had been less than thrilled when Aragorn and Legolas had left him watching after the baby while they talked about the renovation of the gardens and the little devil had crawled away in a second’s distraction.
Arwen and Elrond arrived the eve of Midsummer’s day, and the wedding took place the day after.
The new queen was nothing but in love with the baby and the looks she kept sending Aragorn whenever she held Celegil were plain as day. Poor old Elrond couldn’t do anything but look the other way consternated.
Finally the day came for them to leave. They would be setting out with the rest of the fellowship and each would go their way as the road demanded it. It made Legolas sad to think that they probably would never be all together again.
He bid Faramir farewell and gave a short but heartfelt embrace to King Elessar, Legolas picked his son from Arwen’s arms and kissed her cheek as he thank both her and her father for the life of his child. A glint caught his eye as he watched Arwen’s face and he had to turn away to hide his grin. Now he knew how the half-elves had known of his pregnancy back in Rivendell. He and Celegil would be visiting soon, no doubt.
His parting from the rest of his companion was harder still.
Gimli bestowed many blessings in low Khuzdul at little Celegil as the child pulled the red beard laughing hysterically and made Legolas promise to fulfill his promised for them to travel together as soon as he could. And the hobbits had no reserves to held them from crying bitter tears at having to depart from the star of the fellowship as they had taken to call the elfling, and each had their turn to squeeze him in a tight hug even though the baby was then a third part of their height.
At long last, more than a year after his departure Prince Legolas, First Captain of Greenwood’s armies, returned home in company of his Princess and their hasty little star of hope.
As they walked hand in hand through the renewed light and life of the forest, Legolas felt pride and gladness of everything he had endured to bring this new era of the world for his son to grow up into.
And Thranduil really outdid himself with the welcome of his first grandchild.
Glinuilos> something along the lines of everwhite gem.
Celegil> Hasty star
Na vedui> At last
Gwannas lû and> It has been too long
Melleth-nin> my love
You guys! this is the first time ever I have finished a multi-chap fic! this feels amazing!