Summary: The forest comforts the new King of Greenwood.
Rating: T just for safety.
Disclaimer: Not one tree.
This is slightly different, but do enjoy!
All of my stories are interconnected unless stated otherwise, but you do not need to read one to understand the other.
The weight of the crown weighed far less on his head than on his heart.
He felt as if it was that burden that forced him to his knees. Tears began to leave his eyes unbidden. He was not sure why he wept. Perhaps he grieved for his father's death, or for he feared the future as king, or both. But he pressed his back against the trunk of the tree behind him and sat under the shade. Tears coursed over his cheeks and some rolled off the tip of his nose. He was mercifully alone, a young king, surrounded by the trees he was meant to rule over.
"Why does the King of my forest weep?"
Thranduil froze and he scrambled away from the tree and looked around. He was unarmed, and his horse was far. But the voice was soft and feminine, without any intention to hurt or deceive.
"Who speaks?" He asked the forest cautiously. Soft amused laughter echoed around him. Thranduil felt his heart calm to the sound of it.
"I am the one who nourishes the trees, bids the crops to grow. I am the one who walked with the Ents when they were first born." Thranduil looked around him and saw nothing except for trees swaying in the wind and golden sunlight streaming between the branches. "You should know who I am, Elf."
There was a fond caress in the woman's voice. And yet it simply did not belong to a woman. There was a lilt and softness to the voice that made it seem otherworldly. Thranduil rose to his height, cheeks still damp. The wind blew gently against him, drying his face. Every step he took in the wind, he felt lighter and calmer.
"I do not know who you are." He said, looking about him. There was a low sigh of disappointment.
"Have you forgotten your childhood takes so quickly, son of Oropher?"
"You know my name!" He cried. "But I do not know yours."
"But you do. As I know yours because you are now a monarch. Look."
He stopped by a large tree that had the width of three Elves clustered together. Its branches were high and outspread and the thick network of leaves made a dense cool canopy. Sunlight shone over the tree as if it was the only thing worthy of its attention. He stared at it in awe.
The longer he looked, the more he noticed that it was not just a tree. He saw faint outlines following the depressions in the trunk. He kept his eyes on the mysterious tree and stepped back. Gentle laughter whispered in his ears. The lines joined together to form folds of cloth, and some joined to make a face and hair and a crown.
It was a tall woman, dressed in robes of green. Her black hair was combed back and held in place with a circlet of gold. Her light brown skin was flawless. Her features were matronly and reminded Thranduil of his mother. Her smile was kind and her eyes were soft. She was not there in body, and she was not the tree either. She was an image but still very real.
"Do you see me now?" She asked him. Her smile did not fade.
"Kementári," he whispered. He dropped to one knee and bowed his head. "Forgive me."
"There is nothing to forgive," she answered. Her voice was clearer, as if she spoke directly in front of him. Something caressed his head, like fingers but less tangible. It stopped over his metallic crown. He clenched his jaw and said nothing.
"You despise the crown."
There was no need for him to lie when his lady understood his heart.
"It is heavy, my lady."
"On the heart or on the head?" She queried. He hesitated before answering.
"Both, my lady."
"Interesting," she whispered. The dead leaves rustled around him. "Why do you find it heavy on your head?"
"It is made of metal, my lady. It is tight and it stings. I find myself uncomfortable wearing it."
"Is there anything else?"
"It belonged to my father. It seems unfair that I am wearing it."
"You came by it on the battlefield, because you were Oropher's heir. And it was rightly so." There was a long silence and for the moment it felt as if the Lady studied him. "And how do you suppose the crown burdens your heart?"
Thranduil's head drooped lower.
"Many responsibilities come with this crown, my lady." He said. He could feel the warmth of the sun on top of his head and the back of his neck, as if her eyes were still on him. "My army is crippled, the people are weary and even the forest changed after Dagorlad." He paused. "There is evil afoot in this forest. It is faint, not yet deadly, but it is there."
The air around him shifted and the dead leaves that circled him crumpled to dust. Faint sprouts of green budding plants sprang forth in their place. Thranduil looked at them in wonder.
"It appears I have chosen well," Kementári sighed in his ear. He looked up sharply. She wasn't there. The image of the woman was still embedded in the tree. Yet her voice sounded so near. "You were the King of your people, but I was not yet certain if you were capable of governing these trees as well." The trees around him shifted, bark groaning and leaves rustling. "But now I am. I name you King. But do not take this title lightly. You were already King but only for your people. Now these trees will come under your rule as well. Although," she laughed lightly, "they are old but many of them are playful. Do not be shy to befriend them. You know evil grows on your domain. You will need their help to defeat it. As for the crown," she paused.
He felt something, like fingers tap against his crown and it immediately felt lighter, more comfortable. Thranduil's hand reached up to touch it, and instead of feeling cold hard mithril, he felt the roughness of twines decorated with soft, velvet-textured leaves. He lifted it off his head and looked at it. He ran his fingers delicately over it in wonder.
"It will change according to the seasons," Kementári murmured. He felt warm fingers under his chin, forcing him to look up.
The woman in the tree was now before him. Her green robes spread over the grass like a lush carpet. Her black hair was bound back and held in place with a golden circlet. Her skin was just as brown as the light-coloured trunk of the large tree behind her. Her eyes were tender.
"Do not question the fates of whether you were meant to be King or not." She advised him. She released him, took his crown and returned it on his head. "It may that the road leads to a better end. And you are stronger than you seem."
The sunlight shifted, prolonging the shadows. With a smile and a playful wink, she faded with it.
For a brief moment there was silence. Then one tree brushed its presence against his mind and asked.
Thranduil and Elrond sat in quiet, companionable silence. The sapphire blue sky was clear, without even a small white cloud in sight. They watched as two eagles collided claws against claws and spun in mesmerising fashion, round and round. The morning sun was still bright as a yolk. The peace after the War of the Ring was hard won, but it was worth it.
"How did you do it?" Elrond asked at last. "You were outflanked. The fires surrounded you. The Enemy overwhelmed you. And yet you and your people came out of it victorious." He turned and faced the King of Greenwood. "How did you do it?" He repeated.
Thranduil took a long sip of his cold fruit juice and answered Elrond only with an indulgent, mysterious smile.
At the foot of the balcony, where box gardens were fitted, green sprouts appeared.
-Kementári, also known as Varda, was the Lady of the Earth. She appeared in many forms and her description was inspired from the Silmarillion.
-I always wondered the conception behind Thranduil's crown of leaves and twine. This is my take on it.
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