Stunned silence followed Thranduil's comment.
"That could be a problem." Elrond said quietly. Beraid nodded.
More silence followed.
Finally Elrond broke the uncomfortable silence "however, I think there is something more pressing to be taken care of first."
"What could that be?" Valandil asked confused.
"Legolas told me something while we were being held captive. I think that legolas knows much more than he is letting on. In fact I thin that he know more about any of this than any one else"
"Legolas?" Thranduil questioned "what could legolas know about any of this?'
"He told me something about Amras, something that I don't think anyone else knows about." Elrond answered
"Well what could he have told you? Amras left almost a year ago. What does he have anything to do with this?" Thranduil asked quickly. "I don't understand you Elrond. If you have something to say than say it, don't dance around the subject."
"Legolas told me that Amras had been killed. He told me that he did it." Elrond replied.
Shock, horror, and disbelief appeared on everyone's face. After a long pause Beraid found his voice "That's impossible, legolas couldn't have killed anyone. He is only a child, Elrond be reasonable!"
"I am being reasonable. I never thought for a moment that legolas did it. I think that Vero did. I also think that legolas witnessed it. He must have. It all fits together if you think about it, His behavior, Amras's sudden disappearance, everything."
Thranduil shook his head "no, that, that never happened!" he stood up and started to pace, running his hand through his hair. "There is no way in all of middle earth that it could have happened."
"Thranduil, I'm not lying. He told me this." Elrond said softly "I'm sorry"
"Even if it did happen, why did he tell you, why not me, his ada? He knows he can talk to me. I've never given him any reason to doubt that."
"Thranduil, legolas loves you very, very much. He may have been threatened. Someone, most likely Vero, may have told him that you would be next unless he kept his mouth shut." Elrond tried to soothe the distraught king. "I'm sure that legolas would have told you other wise. He may have been trying to protect you."
"Milord, you have to admit, it sounds logical." Valandil said.
"But, that…" Thranduil trailed off, his eyes filling with tears.
"The only way would be to talk to him, Thranduil. You have to ask him what happened." Beraid said "you have to make him talk about it."
Thranduil abruptly stopped his pacing. He turned and looked at Beraid. "Me? He wouldn't tell me in the first place! Why would he tell me now?"
"Thranduil calm down, you're doing no one good by getting upset." Beraid stated. "You need to talk to him because you are his ada; he loves you and will tell you anything. You just have to know how to get him to talk to you."
Thranduil took a deep breath. "And how do I get him to tell me?"
Beraid and Elrond glanced at each other. "Well, try this…"
Thranduil walked slowly to his son's room. He replayed the instructions that Elrond and Beraid had given him. Stay calm and keep talking to him. He told himself over and over again. Make sure he knows he is safe. He stopped when he reached the door that held his elfling behind it. He took several deep breaths and steadied himself for what would probably be one of the hardest times of his life. He knocked softly and slowly opened the door.
"Hello, my little leaf." Thranduil said with a smile on his face.
"Ada" legolas breathed as he looked up from the story book that Nefaith was reading.
"Hello, done already?" Nefaith asked
"No, not nearly, I need to ask legolas something." Thranduil said as he walked toward the bed and picked up a stuffed bear that was leaning dangerously on the edge of the bed. He sat down on the other side of Nefaith.
Legolas's smile quickly faded and turned into a thin line. He looked cautiously at his nanny and father.
"Do I need to go?" Nefaith asked quietly
"It would most likely be best if you did. I'm sorry Nefaith. " Thranduil said. "I think this is something that legolas and I must talk about alone."
Nefaith nodded and stood "if it is that bad than I do not envy you, milord. I think I will go and check on little Arwen, maybe she needs some help with those brothers of hers."
Thranduil nodded, "I will send for you when we are done."
Nefaith bowed, "I take my leave now. I will see you later legolas."
"Bye, Nefaith." Legolas said softly
Nefaith smiled and left the room, closing the door softly behind her.
"Come here, my little prince." Thranduil scooted to the middle of the bed and held out his arms. "There are some things that I want to talk about.
Legolas sighed and slowly made his way over to his fathers waiting arms. Thranduil picked him up and set him in his lap. He took a deep breath and looked down at legolas.
"Legolas, you know that I love you, right?" Thranduil asked
"You know that you can tell me anything, right?" Thranduil said.
Legolas nodded again, but this time slower.
"Legolas I want to ask you something, something that you might not want to talk about." Thranduil started "I just want you to tell me something. Alright? Can you do that?"
Legolas shrugged his shoulders.
"Legolas, I… I wanted to ask you about Amras. Do you know anything about what happened to him?" Thranduil asked
Legolas stiffened and shook his head.
"Legolas, please. Something is not right, and I think you know what it is. Nothing is going to happen to you. I'm here, just tell me. I need you to tell me." Thranduil told Legolas in a calm voice.
Legolas bit his lip and shook his head harder.
I can't tell, not ever. They'll hurt me or ada. I can't tell
"Legolas, I know that you're sacred, but please tell me. I can help." Thranduil said struggling to keep a calm face. It hurt that his son was in so much turmoil and that he couldn't stop it. Only Legolas could.
Thranduil sighed and pulled Legolas closer to him.
"I love you so much Legolas. When you were gone I thought that I had lost you forever. I never want that to happen again. I was so sacred that you would be hurt or worse. I didn't want to talk to anyone or do anything expect find you. I was very, very frightened that if I did something wrong, and you would be hurt because of it. I didn't want to be the reason that you got hurt. It sacred me."
Legolas looked up at his father, his blue eyes shining.
"Really?" he whispered
"Really" Thranduil whispered back.
"I think that you feel the same way. Something happened that made you so sacred. Did someone tell you not to tell?" Thranduil asked
Legolas bit his lip and looked up at his father again.
"You can tell me Legolas. That's what I'm here for. Whatever it is, I want you to tell me. I can help. Nothing bad is going to happen. I promise. The bad part has already happened. Please, Greenleaf. Don't keep it to your self. Tell me. Let me help you." Thranduil pleaded looking into Legolas's eyes. "Please, you're only hurting yourself."
Legolas broke the eye contact with his father. He looked around the room, anywhere but at his father.
"Legolas don't do this. It's not helping anyone." Thranduil said trying to regain the eye contact with his son.
Legolas refused to look at him and started to struggle against his arms.
"Legolas, no. this is not going to work. I can't let you go." Thranduil said softly, gently but firmly holding Legolas in place.
Legolas blinked back tears.
"No" he whispered.
"No what, Legolas?" Thranduil asked
"I can't" Legolas said trying even harder to break out of his fathers grasp despite the pain that it caused in his worn body.
"Legolas, you can. I know you can. I can help." Thranduil said trying to keep his son in place but not cause him more pain.
Legolas's lips started to quiver. He shook his head.
"Tell me, I know, you want to. I know that you don't understand. Legolas, it's alright. They can't get you anymore." Thranduil whispered.
Despite Legolas's attempts to stop them, tears started to roll down his pale cheeks.
"Legolas, tell me what happened to Amras." Thranduil commanded quietly.
Legolas suddenly stopped struggling against his father. He knew? How could he?
He started to sob.
"Oh, Legolas. It alright. Tell me. What happened." Thranduil asked as he turned Legolas around to face him.
Legolas shook his head, sobbing uncontrollably now.
Thranduil sighed, blinking back tears of his own. He pulled Legolas's head down unto his shoulders and started to rock gently back and forth.
"My little Greenleaf, how could this have happened?" Thranduil murmured in his son's ear. "I love you so much. All I want to do is make it so that you don't hurt anymore. And that you aren't scared."
Legolas nodded and continued sobbing into his father's shoulder making his tunic wet with his tears.
"Will you tell me Legolas? Will you let me help you?" Thranduil asked stroking his son's golden hair.
Legolas nodded but did not cease his wails.
"It's okay Legolas, Ada's here. Everything is going to be alright. I'm going to make things alright. I promise you. No one is ever going to take you away again. No one is going to hurt you like that either. I'm not going to let them." Thranduil whispered in Legolas's ear. "You need to calm down Legolas. You're going to be sick. Shh…shh, that's a good boy, calm down. It's going to be alright."
Slowly Legolas calmed down enough to be able to breathe normally expect for the occasional hiccup. He still had his head on Thranduil's wet shoulder and he had his arms wrapped around his father's neck in a hard grip.
"Legolas, will you look at me please?" Thranduil asked gently pulling his son's arms off his neck.
Legolas nodded and leaned back until his fathers face came into view. He rubbed at his eyes.
"I want you to tell me what happened, alright? From the very beginning. Can you do that?" Thranduil asked, wiping his son's face off with a dark green handkerchief from his pocket.
Legolas nodded, he eyes welled up with tears.
"Shh… take a deep breath…good. Take another one. That's a good boy. Stay calm." Thranduil coaxed.
Legolas took two more deep breaths. He looked questionably into his father's eyes. Thranduil nodded with a grim look on his face. Legolas took one last deep breath and began to talk.
"They killed him." He whispered softy.
"Amras? They killed Amras?" Thranduil asked
Legolas nodded, eyes tearing up again. "Yes."
"Who did it, legolas? Do you know?" Thranduil questioned
"It was that elf who took me." Legolas stated "the scary one."
"Vero." Thranduil hissed
Legolas looked frightened "ada, they said that they were going to hurt you if I told. That's why I couldn't tell. I didn't want you to get hurt! I was scared! It was really scary…" he blurted out becoming hysterical. "I shouldn't have told Elrond, he told you. Now they're going to come and kill us, just like they did with Amras! Ada, we have to go, we have to hide so they can't get you! I don't want you to die. I don't want you to go away like Nanna. I need you to stay with me. I don't want to be alone."
Thranduil shook his head, and crushed legolas against him, "legolas, they can't hurt you. When we found you and took you out of that horrible cave they were captured, and some of them were killed. Vero is dead. He can never hurt you or me. I am so sorry that you were so scared. That should have never happened. I wish that I could make it so that you would forget everything that you saw, but I can't. But I can keep you safe. I'm not going anywhere; I'm not going to leave you like Nanna did. I know that you think that I might, but I don't plan on ever leaving you. I love you too much." Thranduil's voice cracked, "I'm sorry that you don't have a Nanna, I would give anything to be able to have her back with us. But nothing will bring her back. It's just you and me legolas. I know that you miss her, I miss her too. You are not alone; I'm always here for you. Nefaith, Beriad, and Valandil, are too. And Nanna is always watching us, I'm sure that she was crying when you went through all this."
"I feel like I'm alone." Legolas sobbed
Thranduil blinked back his own tears, "my little Greenleaf, you don't have to feel that way. You are not alone. You shouldn't think that. It feels like that because you have hidden this horrible thing from everyone. The secret that you have kept has torn you up inside." Thranduil took a deep breath "I would never leave you alone, especially when you need me."
Thranduil shifted legolas into a more comfortable position in his arms; he looked down at Legolas's tear-streaked face. "I love you legolas, I would do anything for you. All I want is for you to be happy, to be like all the other children. You should be able to do whatever you feel like, you shouldn't be so afraid all the time. You should be able to talk to me about anything, anytime that you want. I want to talk to you, I love talking, and playing with you. It's the best part of my day. I love your smiles, and your laughs, I want you feel like you can do that. Do you understand?"
Legolas sniffed and wiped his eyes, "I think so."
"Alright. Let's get something to wash your face off. That should make you feel better." Thranduil stood up and once again changed Legolas's position so that he lay against his chest. He walked over to the counter on the other side of the room. With one hand he pulled a bowl off of a shelf and set it down in front of him. He picked up a pitcher of water that a maid had left and poured a little bit into the bowl. He reached up and pulled a soft cloth down from the shelf. He set legolas down on the counter. "Let me wash your face, Greenleaf."
Thranduil dipped the cloth in the bowl and squeezed some of the extra water out of it. He
Washed Legolas's tears off of his face. He rinsed out the cloth and laid it on the side of the bowl.
"Feel better?" Thranduil asked
Thranduil took a deep breath. "We are going to have that talk now, little green leaf."
Legolas looked miserable and nodded, lifting his arms so that his father would pick him up.
"That's my boy" Thranduil said picking legolas up and walking back over to the bed. He set legolas down on it and sat next to him. Thranduil sighed and wrapped an arm around his small son. "You have to tell me what happened that night that you went off with Amras. You need to tell me everything, no matter what you think I might say about it, alright?"
Legolas drew a shaky breath and nodded.
"Tell me what happened, legolas. Get all of it out, you'll feel better afterward." Thranduil coaxed.
Legolas nodded. He took another breath, "it… I ….um…."
"Take your time legolas,"
"The day that I went with Amras I played with his cousins and some of their friends. I had a lot of fun with them, we played all sorts of games and Amras played too. We ate lunch under a tree that was near a stream. The older kids wanted to go swimming but Amras said no because there wasn't enough big people there to watch everybody. Then we played even more games and I liked them too. When it was getting dark Uruviel, his sister, said it was time to head back. Amras took my hand and we started to go back home. It got dark really quick, it was a good thing that they knew the way home cause I could barely see. Amras said he was sorry, he didn't know it had gotten so late. He said that you might be mad cause I was out in the dark." Legolas stopped and looked up at his father "are you mad?"
Thranduil shook his head "I'm not mad. Go on."
Legolas nodded, "good, I hoped that you wouldn't be. It was kind of scary but I knew that Amras was there and that nothing would happen but, I…I…I guess I was wrong!" legolas sobbed. "Something did happen!"
Thranduil tightened his arm, "its okay legolas, it will be alright tell me what happened."
Legolas calmed himself a few moments later. "Um… what happened next was that we made it out of the trees and then Uruviel took all the other children and said goodbye, they went down a different path to their home. Amras said that he would take me home by himself. I could see much better out of the trees cause the moon was shining so I wasn't scared as much. Then Amras-"Legolas stopped suddenly
"Legolas, what happened? What did Amras do?"
"He, he, he got caught! A bad man grabbed him!" legolas blurted out
Thranduil breath quickened this was what he had wanted to hear. This was what had caused his son so much pain.
"Try to keep going legolas, I know its hard." Thranduil coaxed his quivering son, feeling a strange ach in his stomach.
Legolas continued in a shaky voice "the man grabbed him and…."
"So I guess you didn't think too hard about what we said to you last time, huh?" the elf said keeping a firm hold on his captive. "I guess you'll have to pay the price, too bad that you had the little prince here with you. It would be a pity so see him get hurt."
Amras' eyes lit up in anger, "Don't you lay a finger on him! I'll kill you if you as so much as pull a hair from his head." He struggled more violently to break free.
"You mean like this?" another elf appeared from the trees. He reached down and grabbed legolas from the top of his head and hoisted him up.
Legolas cried," let go! You're hurting! That hurts!"
"Put him down!" Amras roared.
"As you wish." He said simply, he let go and sent legolas tumbling to the ground.
Legolas let out a pained cry.
"What do you want?" Amras asked.
"Vero wants to see you." A third elf answered from inside the darkness of the trees. "Stop your playing, gather them up and come on."
"Coming" the two said. One produced a bit of rope and tied up Amras tightly, leaving only his legs free.
"Now if you try to run, Amras, I'll kill the prince." The first elf said fingering the sword that lay at his side.
The second elf bent down at Legolas's level "and if you try to run, or scream, or anything else, I'll kill your friend. Understand?" he pulled out a knife and laid it against Legolas's cheek.
Legolas's eyes widened with fear, he stiffly nodded.
"Good, it seems we have an understanding." The elf said with a sinister smile. He stood and grabbed one of Legolas's arms and jerked him toward the trees.
The three elves dragged their two captives through the trees for what seemed like hours finally they came to a small clearing that held more elves. The three elves stopped at the edge. The one holding Amras shoved him forward into the center of the clearing. The one that held legolas pulled him closer to him. He leaned down and whispered in Legolas's ear "watch this very carefully, your highness"
An elf from the other side of the clearing stepped up to Amras. He looked down at him. "Tut, tut, tut. You couldn't even make up your mind. Now its been made for you. It would have been so much simpler to just agree and go along with us. But you just have to make life difficult, don't you. You always have to choose the hard way. You could have had it so easy! You could have had anything you ever wanted!"
Amras glared up at the elf, "Vero, you are nothing but a lair and a murder! All those things that you keep talking about are lies, and they will never work! You can get no gain from murdering; nothing good can come from it. You are mad! Soon the king's guard will be on to you. Then were will you be? Locked up in a prison cell, with no one to talk to expect the rats. But then, you wouldn't mind that would you? After all they are your kin!"
Vero's face contorted with anger. He bent down and yanked Amras off the ground and threw him off to the side. "You should watch your tongue! It will get you into some trouble some day!" he snarled. He kicked Amras's chest. A sickening crack echoed through out the clearing.
Legolas gasped, "Amras!' he cried out. A rough hand came and grabbed the back of his neck. "You should hold your tongue, little prince, lest the same should happen to you."
The hand released his neck and legolas stumbled forward. The elf yanked him back close to him. When legolas looked back at Amras a gag had been placed in his mouth and Vero was dusting some dirt off his leggings. He reached into a sheath and pulled out a long, sliver knife. He grabbed Amras and stood him up. Legolas saw the knife flash in the pale moonlight. Held high above Vero's head. He watched in horror as it was slung down into the stomach of the elf that was held in front of him. The knife kept plunging into the poor elf's body as he tried to yell out but was stopped by the gag in his mouth. He soon hit his knees and looked over at Legolas. He slowly shook his head and tried to motion something but was stopped because the now bloodied knife was firmly lodged in his head. Right on the top of his head above his forehead. His eyes glazed over and he fell to the leaf covered ground face first. His hair was no longer blonde any more. It was rapidly turning red with blood. Legolas tried to look away but a strong hand held his head in place. He forced his eyes down but only saw a puddle of red blood. The next thing he knew was a hard hand on his back.
"Stop screaming! Now!" one of the elves said. Legolas was confused. Had he been screaming? His mind was processing slowly. But he was quickly brought back to his senses as he heard a loud, cold, cruel laugh. Legolas somehow knew that it would haunt his dreams for years to come. The one that had been laughing, which was Vero, stopped and walked quickly over to where Legolas was being held. Being held up was more correct.
Legolas started to shake. Were they going to kill him too? Or were they going to kidnap him and he'd never see his ada or home again. He winced as the elf grabbed his jaw roughly. Not hard enough to leave a bruise but hard enough to hurt. Especially to Legolas. His ada had never hit him or grabbed him hard enough to hurt unless they were playing and it was an accident. He slowly forced his eyes upward towards the face of the elf in front of him but didn't seem to do it fast enough. The elf shook him so hard that if Legolas weren't already being held up he would have fallen. "Look at me boy!" Vero shouted. Legolas tore his eyes from the shirt of the elf and looked at his face. His hood was pulled back and he could clearly see the cold cruelty in the others eyes. "You saw what happened right?" he asked still holding Legolas's jaw. Legolas couldn't move; the realization had just hit in full force as he remembered how Amras, his friend, was killed. He would never ever come again to Legolas's bedroom and tell him funny stories or help him climb up a huge tree. They would never again run though the trees or go swimming in the small pond.
"Answer me boy," the elf said as he pulled out another knife. This one free of blood but Legolas could clearly imagine blood dripping off of it. "And you won't get hurt." Legolas nodded. "Good. Good. Now, listen and listen well. You are the reason this happened. That person was a good elf but you killed him. Do you understand how you killed him?" he asked with a little smile. Legolas shook his head. He knew there was no way in all of middle earth that he could use his voice. His brain couldn't even think. All of his attention was on the elf in front of him. "No. I didn't think that you would, you stupid prince. You killed him by being around him. Playing with him, listening to his stories. Little things like that. And if you ever do it again to any one else I'll kill them and then you. And if you ever, ever tell anyone I'll kill your father and you too." he said his face was only inches away from Legolas's "do you understand now?" he asked. Legolas didn't really understand but he nodded his head any way. It was better not to risk his anger. A few minutes passed. Vero's face still only inches away from Legolas's.
Legolas couldn't hold back his tears any more. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't. They started to fall down his cheeks and by the time the first tear hit the ground Legolas's entire body was heaving with his sobs. The elf seemed content with this and let Legolas's face go and stood up saying something to the elf holding him up. Whatever it was Legolas couldn't hear for because of his crying. He soon found out though as his shaking body meet the ground. The elf holding him had let go. Legolas coughed as he inhaled dirt and leaves. He couldn't stop. No matter how hard he tried to hold his head up he couldn't hold it up high enough to stop breathing in dust. He was jerked up as one of the elves yanked him up and said something in a language he couldn't understand. Water was forced down his throat but he couldn't shallow. He spit it out and started crying even harder. The surrounding elves spoke again to each other. One of them bent down and poured a small vial of a green liquid into a waterskin.
"If you spit this out you will regret it." The elf said. She held it up to Legolas's lips and poured some into his mouth. Legolas gagged on the vile taste but some how managed to swallow it. The she-elf capped the waterskin and stood up leaving legolas sitting on the ground.
Legolas started to feel strange his cries started to quiet.
it was poison. I'm dieing
Legolas felt a strange kind a numbness fill him, he couldn't cry now, he couldn't do much of anything really, expect sit there. After what seemed like hours his head started to clear, the numbness left him. One of the elves grabbed him and stood him up. Vero leaned down once again, his face inches from Legolas's.
"We are taking you back to your ada. Remember what I told you. If you tell anyone I will kill your ada and you. You know I will. You will tell your ada that Amras told you he was leaving and that he wasn't coming back. That is why you are so upset got it?"
"What are you going to tell your ada?"
"That, that Amras left and isn't coming back." Legolas stuttered out.
"What am I going to do if you tell anyone?"
"k- Kill, ada." Legolas whispered.
Vero smiled and patted legolas on his head. He stood and spoke again in a language legolas couldn't understand. The elf that had dragged legolas to the clearing again grabbed him and led him out of it. To legolas it seemed as if they walked forever. Soon, when legolas thought he couldn't go on any more they broke through the trees and the palace filled his view. He gasped. The elf holding him bent down and whispered in his ear "you are to go straight to your ada and tell him that Amras left. Do exactly what you were told to or else we will kill your ada and anyone else close to you, understand?"
Legolas nodded quickly.
"Good, go" the elf let him go and legolas ran toward the palace.
Legolas choked back a sob "and then, I found you and I told you and you-" he broke off sobbing
Thranduil wiped his own tears away and pulled legolas into his lap. "And then I believed you and sent you to bed. I am so sorry legolas, I never should have bought that story you told me. I- I don't know what I can do to make up for that."
Legolas sobbed and held tight to his ada. "It's okay, ada. I shouldn't have done it either."
Thranduil nodded and rocked his son back and forth listening to him sob.