A/N: Hello, dear readers!
I've fallen - nay, crashed hard and burned - into The Hobbit fandom. (Nothing like being ridiculously behind all of the hype!). Thus, I have a brand spankin' new story to share with you for this new obsession of mine. It demanded to be written, so I intend to see it through. :)
Important Notes Before Reading: This story marks my first foray into writing this rare pairing, which I've grown immensely fond of, as well as writing for the Tolkien fandom, so I beg your patience with me throughout this process. (Tolkien's world is quite overwhelming, to put it lightly). You may feel free to point out any inaccuracies you find, but please do bear in mind that this is a work of fanfiction and, therefore, everything will be deviating from canon to a certain extent. As such, this fic follows the movie version of The Hobbit (and some of The Lord of the Rings), not J. R. R. Tolkien's epic novels. I've researched certain aspects where its necessary, though (and hopefully accurately!).
Fic is rated M for later mature content. I sincerely hope that readers of the Tolkien fandom will enjoy this tale as much as I'll be enjoying writing it.
Lastly, to my wonderful usual (SSHG!) readers, not to worry. I'm still working on all of my WIPs, as well as some new material for you. Feel free to follow along, though, if you'd like!
Reviews are welcomed and appreciated! Without your thoughts, it isn't worth sharing.
Disclaimer: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are copyrighted to and belong to J. R. R. Tolkien. I'm just playing in his sandbox and receive no financial gain from this. Artwork is entitled "lotr - because it was real" and credited to ItanHimitsu on DeviantArt.
West of the Moon, East of the Sun
Chapter 1: Awarth (Abandonment)
'Because it was real.'
That had been the mighty king's reply to the Elleth's sorrow. His words had been arresting, too; long-lasting and still heavily engraved in her mind.
So simple, so profound, so befitting...
Tauriel had repeated them over and over to herself since then—that painful, exquisite truth that spoke of her heart's agonising despair—and yet, in the long, lonely year since her experience with grief had first began, she had gained no parting wisdom from its cruel message. It's repetition hadn't lessened the ache that continued to crush her heart, sucking whatever light out of her being it could devour.
It doesn't matter, she told herself. Nothing matters anymore.
Indeed Tauriel, a once esteemed and spirited captain of the Mirkwood guards, had her flickering moments where the clouds momentarily parted and showed her the travelling stars—quick glimpses of brightness in an otherwise desolate darkness, of which she found no peace or quiet—but the utter hopelessness and loss still lingered on, hanging about her immortal person like a burden unshed, never seemingly intended to be parted.
How much longer?
Did mortals tend to mourn their losses forever? How could such a tremendous weight such as Grief be endured? Surely, the pain that Tauriel felt would as easily kill a mortal being, so how did they manage to carry on? How would she carry on, particularly without anywhere to call home, where she might be permitted respite and rest from her weary heart?
Tauriel had lost track of time ages ago and wandered the outer realms of her homeland without much thought. The amount of tears she had shed since Kíli's passing at the Battle of the Five Armies couldn't be accounted, nor could the Elleth recall how she had survived to the present day.
Again, there wasn't much consideration for the day to day. One year in the life of an Elf was only a blink of the eye to mere mortals; a single exhale of breath.
It means nothing.
Under the setting sun in Éothéod, where Tauriel had kept camp to the far east, she dwelled alone—a wanderer; a lone Elf with no permanent residence or kindred spirits to sing and dance and rejoice in the changing of the ages.
You're alone, Tauriel. There is no going back, forward, sideways... Anywhere.
Tauriel watched the sun sneak behind the Lonely Mountain, her emerald eyes hollow and unlife-like as they turned, with morbid heartache, towards the direction of where the dwarf who had once captured her heart was decayed and buried. It was there that he lay in death alongside his brother and their king, Thorin, passing into memory, into shadow...
Where I cannot follow.
'Do you think she could have loved me?' the dwarf had asked her once, gazing upon Tauriel as though she was someone else and not the shining star of his deepest wish.
If only I'd answered. If only I'd told him, 'Yes'.
The sky grew pink, purple, and then black, nightfall disguising Tauriel's lamented tears as she retreated to her camp to cry another night. Alone.
The Elven king, Thranduil, gently turned his head in search of the source of such a splendid, musical greeting. Internally, he wanted to wail; to wrap up his son—the only family he had left—in his arms and never, ever let him go. He refrained from succumbing to his personal sorrows. This was a celebration as much as a bittersweet victory for their people, and he wouldn't spoil it with tears.
The king's sharp eyes spotted young Legolas amongst the crowd of well-wishers—their people—who had gathered at the front gates to welcome their king and his legions home from battle. There was much singing and rejoicing, with tossings of dying flowers and autumn leaves being strewn at his feet. The elven prince was no more than three feet high, but his lightness of foot was on proud display as he snuck softly between gatherers, fast approaching the grand elk his father rode and sporting the handsomest of grins to welcome him home.
"Lonneg," Thranduil returned quietly, arms outstretched to receive the child gladly.
Using the leg of the enormous beast to boost himself into the air, the Elven prince, Legolas, swung up and into his father's embrace, his tinier arms wrapping eagerly around Thranduil's neck.
"Ada! You've returned!" he exclaimed happily, smiling as Thranduil pressed a feathery kiss to the top of his pale head.
"I have." Thranduil reared back to return his son's bright smile, but his crystal blue eyes hinted at something else; something far graver than the ceremony that greeted him, weighing heavily upon his heart in such a way that it couldn't be contained from the highly perceptive child. "My, but how much you've grown!" the king added, his attempt at laughter short-lived.
Legolas's blue irises, also as sharp as the kings, grew thoughtful. "Ada," he pressed Thranduil in a whisper, his gaze darting about the king's face, "where is Nana?"
Thranduil's strained smile slipped his mouth, surprising Legolas as his father's eyes turned watery and the beautiful lines on his face soured and deepened. He lips wove tightly together, too, the words that followed seemingly difficult to release.
"Legolas," Thranduil began delicately, his register small and tender, "my son... Nana has..."
"Yes, Ada?" asked the child seriously; he angled his head of golden hair, waiting.
Thranduil pressed Legolas closer to his chest, bringing them forehead to forehead. "Nana has...fallen."
Thranduil watched the prince blink a few times, his mind—and heart—trying to process the gravity of these words. "Nana?" Legolas repeated, staring up at Thranduil imploringly; the innocence in that cherished face shattered the king's heart. "She's...gone, Ada?"
"Yes, Legolas... Nana is gone. She fell...in battle."
Thranduil closed his eyes and rested his head against Legolas's, who, for a long moment, continued to search his father's tragic face, as though he required a more in-depth explanation for his mother's absence. The queen had gone off to fight alongside her king. The prince had never doubted that she wouldn't return with him. His mother and father were never without each other. How could it be so now, and forevermore?
Thranduil hugged his son tightly, feeling the little Elf shift and wiggle within his all-consuming embrace; but, he couldn't let go. He wasn't ready. After all he had lost, he couldn't lose the child as well, so he held on with all his might.
Then a pair of miniature lips suddenly kissed the side of Thranduil's cheek, where a lone tear had fallen, unseen by the masses but caught by the young prince. With difficulty, Thranduil's eyes opened to receive Legolas's childlike warmth and fondness, unchanged despite the terribly sad news. The Elven prince re-secured his arms around his father's neck and whispered words into his ear that now haunted Thranduil every hour of the day.
"I'm sorry Nana's gone," he murmured mournfully. "I shall never leave you, Ada."
Thranduil's jaw unconsciously tightened as he sat in the solitary silence of his bedchambers, the trimmings and furnishings of which had been carved from the oldest oak of the forest. Here, he listened intently to the leaves that crumbled and withered outside, viewable beyond his open windows. He heard every single one as it detached from a branch and descended to the ground on the shoulders of the wind, seemingly without a sound. The ear of an Elven king heard them as they came to rest, however, one by one.
Today, and like many before it, such merciful signals from nature brought Thranduil no tranquility. Instead, the sight and sound of each falling leaf was like pouring salt into an old wound that refused to heal. It festered and worsened, piercing him with emotional pain and turmoil unmatched since the death of his beloved wife.
He's gone, Vanya, and likely never to return. I lost you, and, now, my son is lost to me.
Thranduil inhaled a deep breath, wishing to still his bleak thoughts. How much more agony and suffering must he personally withstand? Had he not led his people for thousands of years with just, wisdom, and goodwill?
His family was gone, his lineage now forsaken. All the world would inevitably turn to darkness, and he and those of his people who remained would be called upon yet again to aid in the war against Sauron. How much more Elven blood must be spilt? How many more immortal lives must be cut short under his command?
Thranduil's grip upon his carven staff of oak tightened as a gentle breeze kicked up and swept through the palace windows, catching on the king's long golden hair, whipping it freely about his shoulders.
Would it not be best to sail to the Grey Havens now, and be done with this godforsaken realm that had brought upon him nothing but ruin and misery?
No. Not while my son still roams out there...somewhere...beyond my reach.
'I cannot go back,' had been Legolas's parting words to his father last they crossed paths at the Battle of the Five Armies a year ago.
In the end, Legolas's departure hadn't been unexpected, but it wounded Thranduil, nevertheless, to watch his son go.
Regardless of their differences of opinion on many crucial matters, none more so then the growing spread of Sauron's dark influences in the world, they had always had one another's backs. Father's and son's petty arguments and disagreements were many, particularly as Legolas grew older, but, still, they remained as close as ever, their bond unbreakable; or, as it turns out, so Thranduil had wrongfully believed.
To think he would choose...her over me!
The pounding in Thranduil's head was abruptly disrupted by the arrival of an Elven maid, who brought forth his requested wine and dinner for the evening in a silver goblet on a matching silver platter.
Thranduil hastily dismissed her and helped himself to his first sip of the wine, the contents of which trickled smoothly down the back of his throat, easing some of the unwritten tension festering within.
Legolas wouldn't have left if it hadn't been for her influence! his conscious heatedly toiled over. That notorious Captain of the Guard! I should never have allowed him so much freedom, Vanya. Our son was so easily swayed by Tauriel; too good-natured to see past her charms to the faults within her character.
In a flash, Thranduil was on his feet and circling the room with fierce stride and power, the skin on the left-side of his face shrinking to nothing but alarmingly red, taut muscle. His left eye, too, glowed misty and grey, no longer Elf-like but something far more sinister and terrible.
I was right to have banished her; that treacherous, faithless dog! Because of Tauriel, I have lost my family. I have lost everything that is near and precious to me, including my only son.
Thranduil's robes billowed from behind as he stalked to a window and looked out upon the far reaches of his realm. All was calm, undisturbed, but for the thoughts raging in the angry king's mind.
May she bemoan her disloyalty. May she never know peace, just as I have hardly known of it myself.
'I cannot go back.' The words wrung in the Elven king's head louder and more bitter than ever, turning over and over without rest.
Nor can I, my son. Nor can I.
That morning started out like any other: uneventful, mundane, and entirely typical.
Tauriel awoke at dawn's first light, unable to fall back asleep (and not really caring whether or not that she had the freedom to choose). A light rain had fallen during the night, marking the ground and caking it with mud. Tauriel cared not. She set out for the river, an approximate six-mile hike on foot; but, for an Elf, such an endeavour was hardly tiresome. She arrived in virtually no time at all, unmindful of the picturesque walk that had brought her to this treasured spot.
Well, not treasured. Expected, more like.
The leaves had long since turned to a speckle of lush golden fires and crimson reds, though Tauriel paid the changing of the season little mind. Such natural transformations were of great importance to her kin and normally celebrated at the first full moon, but, as Tauriel was no longer a part of the Woodland realm, she couldn't find the joy in her heart to commemorate the coming of autumn; certainly, not on her own.
What does it matter? For the always veering Elleth, the answer was continuously the same: None of it matters anymore.
Tauriel sought refuge beneath an enormous mound of rock to wash her clothes with limited supplies she had gathered on her aimless journey. It had probably been a week since she had last bathed, but cleanliness was another importance the former Elven captain found herself not keeping track of. Besides, she had found that any lingering stench she carried kept strangers at a distance, and that was an added welcome. Most were too suspicious at spotting a wandering Elf of no homage to bother her, and Tauriel hadn't the patience or the will to explain her story to those who were curious.
What a juicy tale the locals would make of Tauriel's plight, if they knew: an Elleth banished by her king for disobeying his command that she return home rather than track Orcs, only to meet him on the battlefield, where she defied him further by pointing an arrow directly at his face, threatened to kill him should he attempt to pass, and proclaimed to him and their people who bore witness that 'there was no love' in her king.
A juicy tale indeed, she scoffed as she headed back to her camp by dusk, the clothes on her back now properly dry and unsoiled.
The ground was no longer mucky, making the trek far easier on foot, though, as an Elf, Tauriel hardly required good weather on her side to saunter her way back with success. She reached camp as the last of daylight settled behind the Lonely Mountain, only realising as she crept into her tent that she hadn't eaten a thing all day.
Too much effort, she determined without much consideration, and quickly settled in for the night. Perhaps I'll eat something tomorrow.
Or you could let yourself waste away?
Don't be a fool. You're hardly the 'type' to off yourself. What kind of an Elf would resort to such measures? No, Tauriel... Centre yourself. Besides, if you'd really wanted to die back there on the mountain, you'd have done so.
Yes... If only I'd died with him.
Tauriel's heavy eyelids closed, and, soon, she was fast asleep, dreaming of another time, not very long ago, when she had come so close to uttering the one word that might have changed everything for her and the dwarf she had grown to love: 'Yes'.
Yes... I could have loved him.
Tauriel wasn't aware of the cloaked group of twelve who descended upon her tent until it was almost too late. The barely audible snap of twigs outside her tent shot the former captain of the king's guard eyes open, her bow and arrows at the ready. Although highly skilled in combat, Tauriel wasn't equipped to outfight twelve of her own kin, and the startling realisation of who she was fighting against cost her the initial advantage in hearing their approach.
Disoriented, and thoroughly confused by the appearance of Elven guards in these parts, Tauriel found herself swiftly overrun and dragged away from her camp under the cover of darkness, into the thickest parts of the forest where she could no longer see the stars.
Perhaps...at last...I'm to meet my end.
Elleth = Female Elf
Ada = Daddy
Lonneg = My son
Nana = Mommy
A/N #2: Here we go!
I was anxious to get this posted, but I'll be working to try to post new chapters about once a week, if not every other. They'll likely be longer than this, too, but we'll see.
Your feedback is greatly appreciated! Please let me know your thoughts via the Review Box below. I'd love to hear from you! :)