~ Chapter 7 ~

He remembers hall-warriors
and the giving of treasure.
How in his youth his lord
accustomed him
to the feasting.
All joy has died!

"Are you being serious about this?" Kilmeny inquired, eying the twins' latest creation with a sceptic's eye.

"I do believe that the wine has gone to your heads already," Erestor, who had been passing by the kitchen only to see through the window, said with a shake of his head. "But I can see there is no stopping the two of you." And with that he turned and left back towards the busy house.

She glanced around at the garden that had been decorated to the nines with spring flowers and unlit torches encircled the area, leaving the great oak tree to be highlight by the fading sun. It was all in preparation for the feasting that would begin when the sun had gone from the sky. It was quiet outside, with most of the visitors choosing either to relax with a drink before the festivities or return to their rooms to prepare the outfits. But Kilmeny had been dragged from her own room, where she had been fawning over the dress given to her by Thranduil, to the courtyard by Elrohir.

"It that all you have to say about my ingenious idea? Really! And after all the hard work I've put into this." He said, placing a hand to his chest as if he had been wounded. Kilmeny looked back to the large flagon of wine he had stolen with the help of his brother from under Galion's nose, the two of them sitting in their hiding spot in a secluded area to the side of the barn. Elladan was happily drinking from his tankard whilst Elrohir offered her a seat and a glass of deep red liquid.

"Uh, no thanks."

"Come on, spoil-sport! You were like this in London as well. Why not try some?"

"I told you before, I'm not very keen on alcohol. It tastes funny and makes my throat dry." She made a face as he quickly down the lot.

"Leave the poor girl be," his brother chuckled. "Just because you want to be drunk before the moon is high doesn't mean you have to drag everyone else along with you."

Elrohir grinned, placing down the empty cup in favour of playing with a piece of straw.

"I don't see you complaining, drinking all my hard work."

"That is because, dear brother, old Thranduil has an excellent nose for wine!"

"Ah, that is true! So true in fact that I'm now in a mind not to share with either of you," he said reaching to snatch the tankard from his brother's hand. Elladan made a noise of protest and slapped him upside the head.

"I'll leave you to it," she sighed deeply and all but stomped back to her room, ignoring Elrohir's pleas for her to stay. His brother watched the expression change on his face and began to frown. He had been listening and watching the situation since the two of them had met in dreary autumn in London three years ago. Only now did he feel a pang of jealousy towards the woman and a bout of sorrow for his brother.

"It will not last," he spoke quietly to the air. Elrohir refilled his cup and drank from it heavily, choosing to watch the birds skip from the treetops.

"Perhaps," he said. "But I cannot help but feel that it is too late for cold feet."

"What brings thee to Castle Rochand, my lord?"

"The stars my lady, to gaze upon them once more before summer nights are upon us."

"Thou art strange, do not the stars linger forever in the heavens?"

"Aye, but many things seek to block their light and winter proves the best time to admire their beauty, do you not agree?"

"Tis so, yet they remain cold and distant to me, no matter the season."

Thranduil blinked several times to clear his vision from the spot he had been standing in for a while, watching the merriment from a distance. His attention had long been removed from his guests and the idle chatter, even with Erestor for company the Gathering no longer interested him. Instead his mind flew to colder times miles away from Aqualate.

Will you give me no peace, not even after an age? He sighed.

"Thranduil!" Haldir called as he approached the table facing the dancers. "Leo has been asking questions again regarding your retirement. The fool is trying to cause another uproar! I tell you I won't stand for him or his gangly son to push their noses in where they are so clearly unwanted!"

"Peace!" He raised his hand towards the elf, wishing not to hear anymore of business for the time being. It was true that there had been speculation as to his retirement from the position of director of Atehlas; many had tried to push him to take a ship westward feeling that his time on middle earth was at an end. Yet still he lingered. As he had once told Elrond Peredhel he would see that he kept his promise.

"You would have such men belittle us so?" Haldir's eyebrows crossed into a concerned expression, his frown grave. Thranduil threw him a glance whilst taking up his goblet.

"Ones such as us should not rise to the bait."

"Aye!" They heard a sudden exclamation come from the house. He turned to see what had caused such a disturbance and felt his blood run cold. A woman, dressed in burgundy red and gold stood laughing at the top of the garden admonishing one of the twins who was teasing her over something. Her hair was braided over her ears with thin laces of gold and cream making it shine and dance in the firelight, the simple twinkle of a gold pendant at the base of her throat. She stood beside Melda who leant against a crutch for support. The pair talked as they entered the area, moving towards the table opposite his where Christopher was exchanging pleasantries. She was given a warm welcome from the man and the watchful distance of the twins.

"The girl looks quite presentable!" Thranduil looked over to Haldir.

"You sound surprised, Haldir."

He said nothing as they watched the group walk towards the directors' table and take their seats facing the garden. The twins continued to argue and throw teasing words to their companion who would blush every time. His amusement rose when she growled and hit the nearest peredhel playfully.

"I would be careful to anger her, brother!" Elladan taunted to his brother who was casting a hurt look to Kilmeny. "Ladies are like swans, they glide along the river, soft and full of grace. Yet to one scorned or abused their anger is a dreadful force that sends even the stoutest of men scrambling for the trees."

"Hey!" Kilmeny chuckled.

"They are indeed, brother of mine, though you forgot to mention their loveliness."

She was way laid by passing guests wishing her a good evening so that by the time she went to take her seat it was gone, leaving the only remaining empty one beside Thranduil. He tensed upon realising, believing that the Valar were punishing him for some misdeed. He kept his eyes forward as she carefully approached the seat and curtsied somewhat clumsily before him and sat on the edge of her chair. The food was served soon after; roast pheasant and duck, a young buck that had been the bounty of the hunt roasted on a spit, there were fruits and salads and fresh bread accompanied by a variety of wines and ales. The table was full of talk and laughter, yet Kilmeny remained silent, unsure of what to say or do without causing offence.

By that time the twins were starting to become drunk, she had guessed that the wine was not purely human quality, and laughed whilst telling stories of times gone by. She chuckled into her hand but didn't comment. She would be sure to let them remember the events at a later date. Next to her Thranduil ate quietly, sometimes replying to Erestor who too was a silent eater. Kilmeny managed to steal glances at him, noting how he ironically seemed to shine in the darkness. She rolled her eyes. They were more different than she had thought after reading Tolkien's works. The historian had made the Elves seem all knowing, wise and untouchable, yet these (with the exception of the one beside her) were as friendly and sometimes clumsy as any human.

"Do you find something amusing?" Thranduil had asked, drawing her back to reality and her blushing at having been caught staring.

"Only the strangeness of the situation, my lord." She gave herself a mental pat on the back for her smooth reply. The king hummed to himself, taking a sip of wine.

"The night is still young, and I do not doubt that you will encounter stranger things still before it is over."

"May I ask you something?" He gave her a look that said – 'you already did'. She gulped. "Um, I was wondering on something you said, when we met. You said that not all the events in Tolkien's books were true, so what happened to Aragorn and Arwen's descendants? I haven't met anyone here or heard talk of them?"

"That bloodline has long been dead. Tolkien was correct in reporting the birth of their son, Eldarion, but he failed to mention that he died a young man leaving the throne to his steward."

"It's sad, to think it was all for nothing."

"There are more sorrowful things, but yes, after all the effort of preserving his bloodline I imagine some would feel more than disappointed." He finally looked to her, seeing her wide eyes soaking in the information.

"And Legolas? What became of him, I mean was he your..."

"Yes, he was my son." Thranduil said with a bite in his tone. Kilmeny noted to tread carefully on the subject. He frowned before continuing. "Legolas did indeed sail west in the end though, I am glad to say, he did not take the dwarf with him."

"I take it you're not found of them?" A look was all the answer she needed. She smiled and took another piece of apple from the centre. "So what happened to Mirkwood after the War of the Ring? I didn't think Sylvan's travelled west so-"

"Do you intend to interrogate me all night?" Thranduil watched her suddenly laugh, finding her humour strange, but was glad to see it.

"Only until I am satisfied that I know more about my host, my lord." He saw a familiar spark in her eyes and on the edge of her wavering smile and, for a moment, forgot where he was and who sat before him. Instead, he imagined he was in a dimly lit hall speaking with a friend from long, long ago.

(Sorry it's so short, more soon but I'm busy for the next week!)


Peredhel – half-elven