(Fic 4- Picks up where Thranduil's last scene left off in the movie trilogy and continues on from there.*1)
"With every victory, this Evil will grow. If your father has his way, we will do nothing. We will hide within our walls, live our lives away from the Light and let darkness descend. Are we not part of this world? Tell me, mellon, when did we let evil become stronger than us?" (Tauriel to Legolas)*2
Part 1 of 3
"Why does it hurt so much?" Tauriel asked in anguish.
"Because it was real."
She looked up at him and for the first time saw compassionate sympathy in his icy gray eyes instead of cold superiority. It gave weight to the truth of his words.
Thranduil watched as Tauriel kissed the lifeless lips of the dwarf and held his hand to her heart.*3
He marveled at how easily she spoke her heart to him, he who had banished her and threatened to kill her at the point of his sword. It revealed an innocence of Light worth preserving, almost like a child seeking answers and comfort from any adult who passed by.
He realized she had been true to her feelings for the dwarf all along even though it broke his son's heart. He wished he had the power to take away the pain from her, his son as well as his own, but all he could do was protect them by keeping the gates shut against the world's evil. And in that, he now saw, he had been wrong.
Thranduil was not one to repeat himself or speak of his intentions. His commands were never questioned—they were simply and promptly obeyed—and he tolerated nothing less. Only the re-awakened empathy he felt for her loss stilled his impatience. Then he remembered he had banished her from his kingdom for defying his orders not to leave the realm.*4
"There is nothing more for us here."
She nodded. Gently, she laid the dwarf's hand across his chest, making sure the fingers stayed closed around the rune stone. She got up, squared her shoulders, and bowed her head in obedience, ready to follow him as she always had.
They left Ravenhill without looking back.
Feren was waiting for him with the army in formation, ready to go home. The surviving, battle-ready warriors formed a front and rear guard, protecting the wounded as well as the wagons laden with the dead in between.
His royal saddled had been retrieved from his fallen elk and placed on a stallion, but Feren was not holding the reins, it was Bard.
Beside the bowman was an older bedraggled, battle-weary man who had come into his own with bravery and a measure of some leadership. He was holding a crate with two dusty bottles of wine stacked in it.
Thranduil knew exactly what the crate held and wondered what they were doing with it before shifted his attention to Feren coming forward to meet him. "Have you gathered up all our fallen from this foul land?"
"Yes, my Lord King," Feren nodded.
"And that dwarvish weapon—the "twirley-whirlies"—that disseminated our arrows?"*5
"Several of them, Sire."
"Good." Thranduil looked over the legion of his army with pride for they had followed him into battle without question regardless of the outcome. "Do not delay them any longer."
Feren bowed his head then stepped aside so that the Elvenking could pass by. He blew his horn with the signal to move out.
The Woodland Realm Army began their march home.
Tauriel was going to join the formation with her guardsmen, but a subtle quick flick of Thranduil's fingers stopped her.
"My Lord Thranduil," Bard greeted with a smile of friendship as Thranduil approached them, but the shadow of sadness and loss was not easily hidden. "We were hoping to see you again before you departed."
"Do you require further aid?" Thranduil asked returning the smile before showing concern.
Bard shook his head. "No, we can take care of our own now. The new King Under the Mountain is fair and is honoring the word of Thorin. There is more than enough gold for all of us to rebuild Dale and Lake-town."
"Good, but do not hesitate to send for help should the need ever arise again." In one fleeting moment, Thranduil wondered if the original purchase of the white gems and necklace would be honored as well... no, there was no point in possessing them now.*6 It was time to let go of the past and look to the future of Middle-earth.
He glanced at the crate curiously as a prompt to present it. He was very familiar with the seals on the bottles and was impressed.
Bard spoke up. "Percy, here, found these old bottles in a cellar. Please take them as a token of our gratitude in coming to our aid. It is not much, but we do hope it graces your table and you will enjoy them."
"That is not necessary, Bowman." Thranduil said waving it off politely. "We have formed an alliance and that is enough."
"Then please accept them as a parting gift of goodwill between allies."
Thranduil smiled and inclined his head with a nodded, waiting.
"Percy?" Bard nudged the Lake-man who stepped forward and proudly presented the crate to the Elvenking.
Thranduil took out one of the dusty, dirty bottles and held it up admiringly. It was indeed from the great vineyards of Dorvinion*7. He glanced at the Lake-men, wondering if they knew how a rare vintage it was and how it happened to be one of his favorites.
"I accept this goodwill with pleasure," he said with a truly sincere smile. "But such a gift is best enjoyed when it is shared in the company of friends and allies. I will take it only with the understanding that you will come visit the Woodland Realm for a great feast."
"Thank you, my Lord." Bard did not show how surprised he was at the invitation. Everyone knew the Elvenking's reputation for keeping to himself and his intolerance for anyone that dared to venture into Mirkwood. Perhaps the rumors were true, the battle had changed the him for the better?
Thranduil bowed his head first to Bard, then to Percy in a gesture of thanks. He handed the bottle to an attendant who whisked the crate away for travel.
Obviously unsure of the customs, Percy bobbed his head like-wise before heading back to the massive amount of clean-up work and loss that still waited him.
Thranduil mounted the horse. A mere glance and a subtle lifting of his chin to his left where he knew Tauriel was standing told Feren she was to ride home as well.
Tauriel did not suppress her surprise for the Elvenking to show her such favor. But she could not help standing on her toes to look over the legion of warriors passing by. She had to make sure all of the wounded had some form of transport before mounting the extra horse.
Gazing down at the Bowman, Thranduil made a suggestion. "You showed much wisdom and fortitude in leadership, Bard the Dragon-slayer. You should consider governing your people."
"I..." He started and stopped, shaking his head ruefully before looking up at the Elvenking in earnest. "Even so, I will ensure that barrels and barges of trade will once again fill the river between our people."
This delighted Thranduil who had been wondering how to broach the subject. He nodded in agreement. "What of the Hafling?"
"Gandalf is escorting him back to the Shire."
"Ah, yes, of course. The Hafling showed much courage and resourcefulness beyond measure. I had hoped they would do us the honor of giving them rest and readying them for the journey." Thranduil said. He had also wanted to discover how the Hobbit had been able to sneak about the palace unseen and free the dwarves.*8
"I hope he knows he will always be welcome in the Woodland Realm, as are you and all your people."
Bard smiled and nodded his head. "Thank you, my Lord, I will let them know." He handed the reins up to the Sindar Elf and stepped back so that he could move out. "Farewell, King Thranduil."
But Thranduil did not move and a cloud darkened his face. "Bowman," he said gravely, "do not think all is well and be lulled into complacency. We may have defeated the Orcs—this time—but Gandalf was right. This is but the beginning of the Evil that is growing and gathering strength. You must prepare yourselves for the coming Darkness we have yet to see."
Bard nodded gravely, but the fact that Thranduil had just admitted he had been wrong by acknowledging the wizard's counsel was not lost on him.
Thranduil tightened his grip on the reins of his horse, smiled and bowed his head in farewell.
The Elvenking joined the march in the middle so he could assess the wounded and the fallen before making his way up to the front of the line. He was appalled at the number of casualties and how many warriors he had lost...
"You would go to war over a handful of gems?" (Bard)*9
He rarely regretted his actions, but too much had been said and done he could not ignore. More importantly, she could not be ignored—her words and actions needed to be addressed...
"You think your life is worth more than theirs when there is no love in it? There. Is. No. Love. In. You." (Tauriel)*10
"If this is love, I do not want it. Take it from me. Please...!" (Tauriel)*11
"I... can not go back." (Legolas to Thranduil)
"Where will you go?" *12
He longed for the sanctuary of his private quarters where he could meditate and regain peace, but he was patient, they would be home in due time. However, he found the images and impressions crowding his thoughts would not wait...
*1. & *3.= B5A-43, "The Sorrow of Elves".
*2 & *4.= DOS-24, "It is Our Fight".
*5.= B5A-23, "Dain Ironfoot"—where he dared to call Thrandy a "pointy-eared princess"!
*6.= AUJ-1, "Prologue: The Fall of Erebor".
*7.= The Hobbit chp 9, "Barrels out of Bond"—a fun reference from the book.
*8.= DOS-13, "King and Captain"
*9.= B5A-14, "The Elvenking's Aid"
*10.= B5A-37, "Blood of the Eldar".
*11. & *12.= B5A-43, "The Sorrow of Elves".
[No Dorvinion wine bottles, the royal saddle or Percy were harmed during the production of Part 1.]
Thranduil and the world of the Hobbit movies are the property of Warner Bros. Entertainment & MGM directly; Sir PJ indirectly and Mr Lee Pace embodimently because he is—oh my yes!—Thranduil. I was just visiting because I wanted to tour the battlefield since I'm a history buff (guided tours leave the Ravenhill Tourist Center on the hour!) and not for profit. jk2017 tyl]