Disclaimer: See chapter 1, please. :)

Beta: Not betaed yet, sorry.

A/N: Sorry for not updating sooner. Work has kept me busy the last week, so I couldn't revise this chapter sooner even though I have written most of it quite a long time ago.

In this chapter you will hear the story of Ñauyár and the Great Grey Wolves and the Helcausali (Watch out, Pegasus! ;) *gg*). Please note that this background stories are completely of my own invention and in no way Tolkien's work! I tried to suit this stuff to Tolkien's work/world as best as I could, but of course it was a rather difficult task and probably you won't like any of it. If so, I'm sorry! Please don't flame me if you don't like this. It's simply my fantasy drawing weird pictures in my head and I don't think anyone has the right to flame me for that. :) Thanks. Besides this stuff is only of secondary importance in this story (But will probably also be used for a sequel :)), so… ah, well, I think you get the message *lol*.

I'd like to dedicate this chapter to Sir Paul Simon, whose song "St. Judy's Comet" (so beautifully sung by the New York Voices) inspired me so much during writing this chapter. Though, you won't recognize the content of that song anywhere here, I think *lol*… Anyways, on with the story... :)


Father and Son – Chapter 11

Lord Elrond and Mithrandir sat down on a bench outside the entrance of the infirmary wing. Neither of them did speak for a while. Both of them were exhausted and needed some time to sort their own feelings and thoughts.

"Mithrandir, these birds…" Elrond started after a while and was stopped as the wizard patted his forearm.

"Birds, young one? No, not birds. Not really…" Mithrandir furrowed his brow.

Elrond glanced at him, irritated. "What do you mean: not really?"

Mithrandir was lost in a thought and did not answer. Elrond waited a moment before he elbowed the wizard gently to get his attention.

"Mhm? Oh, yes, the birds… Elrond, Legolas' wounds looked weird to you, did they not?"

"Yes, they had a strange blue edge and the skin around them was ice cold to the touch. I expected them to be hot, maybe infected even, but they were so cold and they were… they looked like… like… "

"Frozen." Mithrandir completed. The wizard's eyes were filled with such gloom it send Elrond a cold shiver down his spine.

"Yes, exactly. Mithrandir, what is going on here?"

"I am not entirely sure. Not yet."

"But you have an assumption?"

"Yes, I have." He said and rose.

"Mithrandir, tell me about it." Elrond demanded, standing up as well.

"I would not bother you with unco…" The Istar trailed off as he saw Lord Bellbeor approaching them with great haste, a worried look on his face, a bundle of dispatches in his right hand.

"Welcome back, my Lords," the advisor greeted them and bowed and pierced Elrond with a panic-stricken look. "Lord Elrond, how does the prince fare? One of the warriors told me he heard you saying he is fading?"

"Indeed, his spirit is far away. I fear too far away for us to reach. He did not react to our calls. We shall try again later, but it is a difficult task since neither Mithrandir nor I are well-rested at the moment. We need to regain some of our strength first. To be honest, there is not much we can do for him at the moment."

"These are ill news, really ill news. How does the king cope with all this?" Bellbeor's face was pale. He cared deeply for his prince and his king. The thought of losing Legolas was unbearable to him, not only because he held the elfling so dear, but because he knew Thranduil would not live should he lose his only child. Mirkwood would lose her prince and her king. The wood-elves would lose their royal family. His heart wrenched awfully at the thought.

"He is with Legolas at the moment. He wanted to be alone with his son." Elrond mused for a moment. "I fear he would not survive another loss." His sad orbs searched the other elf's face for a reaction.

Lord Bellbeor blinked away a tear and nodded ever so slightly. It was as he had feared. But he had to be strong now. He could not give up. Thranduil relied on him to take care of all matters of the realm as long as he was unable to do that himself, and he would not fail his king. Not as long as there was still hope. He knew Thranduil and Legolas would need time for each other should they ever get through this after all, and it was his responsibility to spare Thranduil as much work and sorrow as possible, now and also later. He took a deep steadying breath and glanced at Mithrandir.

"Mithrandir, I have been informed about everything that happened in the forest. Pardon my rudeness, but I would like to talk to you immediately about some things the Northern Border Patrol and the Home Patrol have reported to us." He held the paper rolls up to the wizard.

Mithrandir nodded and turned his head to look at Elrond.

"I think, you should go and look after Legolas and Thranduil now. We will talk later, young one." He patted Elrond's shoulder one last time and followed Lord Bellbeor to the conference room.


Stealthily Elrond entered the healing room. The first thing he noticed was that Legolas was sucking his thumb, and instantly hope swapped through him at the mere sight. He knew the elfling could not do that if his spirit was still as far away as it had been earlier. The elfling's face was not so pale anymore, either. Things looked definitely better than when he had left father and son earlier.

Cautiously he moved closer to the bed and reached out his hand to feel Legolas' forehead. His skin was still somewhat cold but Elrond could feel the child's spirit was close. He let out a relieved sigh and looked at Thranduil. The elder elf was asleep, and even though his eyes were closed, Elrond thought it was good that he slept. It was not an unexpected thing that Thranduil was so distressed he had to sleep with his eyes closed. Not after what he obviously must have done to call Legolas back.

The healer stroke Legolas' golden hair affectionately one last time before he turned to fill the bowl on the bedside table with fresh hot water. He crutched fresh Athleas in the bowl and for some reason he felt the urge to look at Thranduil again. He turned his head, but everything seemed to be well. He returned his attention to the Athleas. And yet there was something disturbing about the looks of his friend. It was not the closed eyes, but what was it? He looked again but still could not make out what disturbed him so. Instinctively he reached out and searched the king's wrist for a pulse. Thranduil's heartbeat was slow but regular and fairly strong. Elrond's gaze roamed over the other elf's body. His chest rose and fell in a steady rhythm, his skin looked slightly paler than usual but that was not a surprising thing after what he had been through. His violet mouth was slightly ajar and… Violet? Elrond hastily touched the other elf's lips. They were cold. He checked his forehead and found it rather cold, too, and he felt Thranduil's spirit was drifting away.

Frantically the healer shook the king's shoulder.

"Thranduil!" He cried, trying to wake the other elf. "Thranduil, wake up. Stop this, Thranduil! Wake up!"

Thranduil's eyes flew open and he sat bolt upright in the bed.

"What is it?" He gasped in shock and hastily looked down on the elfling in his arms. "Is something wrong with Legolas?"

Elrond let out a breath he did not know he had held and pushed the king back into the pillows.

"No. Calm down, calm down. He is fine." The healer sank down on the edge of the bed, his exhaustion finally catching up with him. These royals will be my death, he thought, trying to slow his racing heart, leaning heavily on one arm.

"You scared me halfway to the Halls of Mandos!" Thranduil accused, still staring down on Legolas, who moaned lowly in his slumber.

"Oh, really?" Elrond raised an eyebrow. "You know, you were halfway down there anyway without me doing anything! You were pouring all your power into Legolas, keeping nothing of it for yourself. What were you thinking?! You scared me halfway to death, too!" He scowled at him.

"I-I… Legolas… I talked to him and rocked him and suddenly he was awake. He was awake! After a brief moment he fell asleep again, and I did not dare to stop giving some of my strength to him. He was so weak. He could not even talk. I was afraid he could drift back into the darkness, so… and then I fell asleep. I did not…"

"I see, I see." Elrond gestured him to stop talking and pinched the bridge of his nose, fighting back the ache that began to pound in his head.

"Elrond, are you well?" Thranduil asked, gently grasping the healer's arm.

"Yes, I am fine. I am just tired, that's all." Elrond answered and looked up, straight into Thranduil's grey-blue orbs.

"What about Legolas? Do you think he is safely back? Will he pull through?" Hope flickered in the king's depths, and Elrond smiled.

"Yes, I think so." He patted Thranduil's hand on his arm reassuringly.

But although he had no doubt that Legolas' body would heal and that he would live he was worried about the effects all this could have on Legolas' young and innocent soul. He had been through too much recently.

"What is it, mellon nin? Please, tell me," the king pleaded, whispering.

"Well, I am rather worried about Legolas' mental health to be honest with you. He is so young and he has been through so much, I do not know how he will cope with all that."

"He is stronger than you think." Came a grumpy voice from the door. Mithrandir had entered the room without either of the elves noticing it. Slowly he strode towards the bed, his staff touching the marble floor with a low *clack* every second step.

"My friends, I will leave you on the morrow. I must go northwards and, well, let's say, investigate. I will return to you as soon as I can though," the wizard explained and squeezed Thranduil's good shoulder.

"Mithrandir, what bothers you so? I can see a worry in your eyes I have not often seen there before." The king eyed him carefully.

"Ah, young one, it seems some evil creatures from ancient times have returned to these lands. One of your patrols reports of finding a dead pack of grey wolves alongside a few dead birds ten miles from where Legolas must have come across 'his' wolves. Probably the she-wolf Legolas told us about was the only one that had survived the attack and has fled further towards here. Your Northern Border Patrol sends word about a similar find, they have discovered a dead pack of grey wolves, some of them apparently mothers but the cubs were nowhere to be found. Dead birds lay with them, too."

"That sounds weird, indeed." Thranduil commented, musing.

"I will go and examine the beasts and the complete area myself. But considering the details of the reports it is as I fear, the Helcausali have returned. If we do not stop them soon, your people will not only have to fight the shadow, Thranduil. The forest and its creatures will be thrown into unnatural imbalance and you know where that could lead to. I also fear an arctic cold could fall upon these woods should we not defeat the Helcausali soon and keep them from breeding."

Thranduil and Elrond traded questioning looks.

"What or who are these Helcausali?" Thranduil asked.

"That is a rather long story." Mithrandir hushed him. He wanted to go to bed now and take off at first light the next day.

"We are rather inclined to hear it." Thranduil replied, and his stern glance showed he would not allow negation.

"Very well then," the wizard replied and sat down on a nearby chair. "Once, the Helcausali were cold-blooded beasts of similar shape as wolves. They were one of the first beings created by Melkor1 with whom they dwelt in the Northern Waste2 for a short time. He quickly lost interest in them and left them behind as he went to build Angband3. The beasts lived on the blood and flesh of warm-blooded beings and without guidance from Melkor they soon got out of control and eliminated all such creatures in their living area even if unnecessary. Then hunger drove them to the east of the Northern Waste first and later southwards."

"Into the Grey Mountains4?" Thranduil interrupted and Mithrandir nodded.

"Yes. There they attacked the Great Grey Wolves5, who lived on the northern side of the mountains at that time and were led and protected by Ñauyár6, a less powerful and mostly unknown Maia7. Only a few wolves were killed thanks to Ñauyár. However, his power was not strong enough to kill them so he could only transform them into incorporeal beings surrounded by an icy cold fitting the coldness of their blood and hearts – hence they were called the Helcausali. Due to being Melkor's creation the Helcausali possessed enough power to adapt Ñauyár's spell, so they could adopt the shape of birds at least for a brief time around dawn. They swore vengeance and attacked the wolves anew, stealing some of their cubs since those were easier prey. Through that they learnt they could strengthen and prolong their bird-shaped state when fed with the blood and flesh of wolves. When Ñauyár realized what was going on, he scared the Helcausali away with a weird bright light when they attacked again to steal the remaining cubs. After that he led the wolves over the mountains, assuming the Helcausali to be unable to follow them into the warmer regions on the other side."

"Well, apparently he was wrong." Elrond interjected, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.

"Do we know that for certain? No one had ever heard of them again after that, so we all thought they were destroyed or had fled so far into the North their existence would not matter to anyone anyway. They had not pursued Ñauyár and the wolves. This I know for sure. Believing, his wolves were safe, Ñauyár returned to Almaren8, where his spirit was destroyed when Melkor threw down the Lamps of the Valar9 and Almaren crumbled to dust." The wizard looked strangely sad at that moment and the two elves wondered if the Istar had maybe been friends with Ñauyár.

"But how did these Helcausali get this far into Mirkwood if they could not even follow the wolves to the other side of the Grey Mountains? These mountains are many, many miles away from here."  Thranduil asked after a moment of silence and furrowed his brow once more.

"This I know not. To be honest, I thought they were long gone. I have not heard anything about them for such a long time I had completely forgotten about their existence until this morning. I shall go to the North and do some research. Maybe their return is just another effect of the presence of the Necromancer10. He seems to possess great power over all kind of evil creatures." The wizard's anger was evident in his eyes.

Thranduil nodded, and again he and Elrond exchanged looks.

"So, these beasts attacked Legolas because he had taken the cub?" Elrond asked, still a little bit confused.

"Yes. I assume after killing the larger part of the pack, they pursued the remaining wolves and attacked them in the hours of morning, which is the time when they are strongest. And I guess Legolas tried to save them."

"Ai Elbereth!" Thranduil gasped, glancing down on his child. He looked so small and weak and vulnerable lying there and yet he had been so brave and strong in his attempts to save the wolves.

"The Valar must be very fond of him." Mithrandir commented and rose again, leaning heavily on his staff. This went not unnoticed by Elrond, who felt rather tired himself.

"I think we all should rest now." He suggested and the other two nodded approvingly.


It was early in the morning as Lord Elrond made his way from the kitchen to Thranduil's bedroom, where they had brought Legolas three days ago after Mithrandir had left to investigate the disturbing events in the northern parts of Mirkwood.

Time had gone by rather eventless in the palace. Legolas had woken again for several times, but hardly responded to the persons or things around him. His wounds were almost completely healed now thanks to his Elvish healing abilities and yet he was still too weak to stay awake for more than two or three hours in a row. And both Thranduil and Elrond were worried. Most of all because Legolas refused to eat. No matter what they offered him he wouldn't eat.

Last evening Elrond had instructed the cook to make a special banana-mash for Legolas. He had to eat something, and the healer hoped the prince would like the mash as much as his own children had liked it when they were small. He remembered Elladan, the older of his twins, being particular fond of it when he had lost his two front teeth in a fight with an elder elfling. Elrond smiled at the memory of his small son grinning brilliantly up at him, almost proudly displaying the gap between his two small canine teeth. Children! he thought amused.

Smiling and humming to himself Elrond strode on down the corridor to Thranduil's chamber, carrying the tray with a bowl of the mush and a mug of hot milk. He did not knock at the door, just in case Legolas or Thranduil were still asleep. He opened the door slightly and peeked inside the room where he saw a half-dressed Thranduil standing in front of his closet. The king quietly put on a fresh undershirt and tunic, occasionally glancing back over his shoulder to make sure he had not woken Legolas who lay curled up in the large bed, sucking on his right thumb, a new cuddle cloth tightly clutched in his small right fist.

Soundlessly Elrond entered the room, nodding his greetings to Thranduil, who smiled at him gratefully. Tightening the belt around his waist the king went over to the table where Elrond had put down the tray.

"He had nightmares again tonight," he informed Elrond, whispering and turned his head in Legolas' direction. Elrond looked over to the bed and could see the dark circles under Legolas' closed eyes. The elfling's father did not look much better, either.

"Mellon nin, did you get any sleep at all tonight?" he whispered back.

"No, not really."

"You must get some rest, Thranduil. You look terrible."

"I know. But I cannot leave him alone during night. Not as long as he is so weak."

"You haven't slept properly for nights now. I could stay with him for a night, if you want?" Elrond offered. Thranduil was evidently reluctant, and the healer knew instantly he would never agree. In some ways he understood why the king did not want it. He surely felt there was a lot he had to make up for.

Thranduil shook his head almost imperceptibly. "No, but I would be most thankful if you could look after him for a while this afternoon. Míriel will not be back until next week and my counsellors wish to talk to me about some matters of the realm. It will not be long, maximum two hours. I loathe leaving Legolas, but I feel I cannot neglect the kingdom in such a way any longer. And I do not think Legolas is well enough yet to come with me. Besides I do not want him to hear all the ill news my advisors surely have for me." He smiled and rolled his eyes in an almost light-hearted manner, but Elrond knew it was faked. His friend was tired and worried anyway and now the issues of his kingdom were catching up with him once again. He felt sorry for Thranduil.

"It is all right, mellon nin. I will stay with him," he agreed, without hesitation.

"Thank you, mellon nin." Thranduil squeezed his shoulder.

"You are most welcome. I will leave the two of you alone now. I have brought some mush for Legolas. You must see to it that he eats it, Thranduil. He must eat something very soon." Elrond shot Thranduil a serious look and the king nodded.

"I know, I will try to make him eat it, but he always tends not to eat when he doesn't feel well."

Elrond smiled at the other elf sympathetically. He knew how difficult it could be to convince children to eat if they did not want to. While his twins hardly denied a meal, no matter how bad they felt, Arwen had often reacted in a way similar to Legolas' when something disturbed her deeply. Elrond sighed knowingly. Glancing one last time over his shoulder at the still sleeping elfling, he opened the door and left the king's room.

Thranduil sat down in a chair nearby the bed and watched his son sleep. He looked so small, so sweet and Thranduil felt a warm wave of affection swapping through his heart. The steady rise and fall of Legolas' chest was such a calming sight Thranduil soon drifted into a light slumber himself.

He started as he felt something or someone touching his knee. He looked down and straight into Legolas' big blue sad orbs staring up at him. Standing barefoot before him, he still had his cuddle cloth clutched tightly in his hand and pressed it against his small mouth, chewing on one corner of it.

"Good morning, ion nin. How do you feel today?" Thranduil smiled and wrapped his large hands around Legolas' small waist and lifted him on his lap. Legolas did not react, no nodding, no shaking of his head, no "yes", no "no", simply nothing, he only sat there, staring at his father.

"Would you like to have breakfast now? You must be very hungry, ion nin, don't you?" He continued, but the elfling just shook his head ever so slightly, dropping his gaze, looking down on nothing in particular.

"Are you sure? You will feel better if you eat. You must eat something, ion nin." Thranduil admonished softly but again Legolas did not react, just stared down on his father's belt, pressing his cuddle cloth against his mouth.

"Well then, what about some warm milk?" No reaction. "Or tea?" No reaction.

He was at loss. At least the child had drunk his milk in the mornings and some tea throughout the day in the last few days.

"My little squirrel, what is wrong with you? Are you still tired or is anything hurting you or do you feel sick?" Gently he took the small chin in one hand and turned his son's face up, forcing Legolas to look at him. "You can tell me everything, my little squirrel. What is it?"

"They've eaten my pony," Legolas informed him, with a small voice, sighing heavily and rubbing one tired eye with his free hand.

"Who?" Thranduil asked, slightly irritated.

"The birds, they have eaten Éli." Legolas went on and started to shiver.

"It was just a dream, my little squirrel, just a bad dream. Your pony is fine." He pulled the child in a tight embrace and carefully rubbed soothing circles in the elfling's back.

"Really, Ada?" Legolas murmured in his tunic.

"Really. If you want we can go to the stables and look after Éli, but only if you drink your milk first, agreed?" Legolas nodded somewhat eagerly and Thranduil rose with the elfling on his arm. He went over to the table where he took the mug of milk. He returned to the chair and sat down again. Legolas turned around on his lap, more clumsily than usual, and tried to hold the big mug, but it was too heavy for him in his weakened state. He leant back against Thranduil's chest and sighed in frustration.

"Here, I help you…" His father soothed him gently and held the bottom of the mug while Legolas grabbed it with both hands and drank thirstily. As soon as the mug was empty he started to squirm on Thranduil's lap and slid down his father's legs to the floor.

"Not so fast, little squirrel," the king laughed and picked him up. "We have to wash you first and dress you and maybe comb and braid your hair, what do you think? You would not want to look like a little tousle-head when we go and visit Éli, now, would you?" He winked and smiled at him and Legolas shook his head. He knew it was impolite to look like a tousle-head when he visited someone, especially for a prince. And Thranduil simply wanted Legolas to be back to normal. And what would be better than trying to start a normal daily routine again?

Thranduil carried Legolas to the bathroom, took a thick towel and put on the broad edge of the marble basin and sat Legolas down on it. He helped his son to take off his nightshirt and gently washed his face, neck, arms and chest with a wet warm towel, carefully avoiding the almost healed wounds on his arms. He wrapped him up in another towel to keep him warm while he carefully combed his golden hair and braided it in the fashion of his warriors. He knew Legolas would not want it any other way and he wanted the elfling to feel as good as possible. Done, he carried him back to the bedchamber and stood, contemplating what to do next.

"We've to go to my room for clothes," Legolas murmured against his neck, tiredly leaning his head on Thranduil's strong shoulder and yet fully aware of the issue at hand. The king turned on his heel to leave the room.

"Ada…" Legolas said weakly but did not say anything further. He did not want to be a baby. Thranduil glimpsed down on his son's small face curiously and noticed the child's longing look to the chair they had sat on earlier.

Your cuddle cloth, of course, Thranduil thought, smiling, and went over to pick it up. Then they left the room and entered Legolas' chamber only two doors down, where he helped the elfling dress. He was about to take him on his arms again, but Legolas shook his head and took one large hand in his own instead. He wanted to be on his own two feet.

His cuddle cloth tightly clutched in one hand, Ada's hand in the other, Legolas slowly padded down the corridor, heading for the main entrance. They had not even reached the great wooden door as Legolas' stumbled, clearly too weak to walk on. Wordlessly Thranduil pulled him up, took him on his arm again and went on. Legolas did not protest and slung his tiny arms around his father's neck.

They passed the sentries at the door and strode down to the stables, where they were greeted by the stable master, the head groom and Labahû. Thranduil put Legolas back down on the ground, allowing him to greet the dog, who first snuffled Legolas' legs, hands and face and then licked him across one cheek. With a faint smile on his lips Legolas stroke the dog's head and unsteadily padded on to the entrance of the main stable.

Thank the Valar, his pony was in one of the first boxes in the left row, so he had not to go too far. The king followed his son and opened the stall door for him so he could go in. Éli bent his head down and snorted as he recognized Legolas. The elfling hugged his leg tightly.

"Hello Éli," he whispered softly and murmured something inaudible into the pony's coat. The brown beast snorted again as if laughing at something and tugged on Legolas' tunic with his mouth to pull him away from his leg. Legolas stepped backwards a few feet and stroked the pony's head as he bent it further down and gently rubbed his forehead against Legolas' small shoulder. The elfling swayed a little and Thranduil rushed inside the box to catch his son before he could fall. The pony whinnied apologetically and the king patted his neck.

"Not your fault," he explained reassuringly and lifted Legolas up on his arms again. "Time to go back to bed, I think, my little squirrel." He left the stable, ready to go back to the palace but was stopped as a large hand grabbed his shoulder from behind.

"My Lord, I think I have something the prince would like to see," the head groom said and pointed off to the small hut next to the stables. Thranduil glimpsed down on Legolas, who eyed the other elf with great interest. He nodded and followed the groom into the hut. They were instantly under attack of a wolf cub jumping up and down at Thranduil's feet, whimpering joyfully.

Legolas face lit up a little and he struggled on his father's arms to be put down again, looking somewhat happy for the first time since his return. Thranduil and the head groom exchanged knowing smiles. He let Legolas cuddle and play with the wolf cub for a few minutes, while he and the head groom briefly argued the necessity to build a new barn. The heavy eye lids and the clumsier and clumsier movements of his son soon alerted him that the elfling was so exhausted that he really should be brought to bed again now.

Reluctantly he took Legolas on his arms, thanked the head groom and left the hut, heading back towards the palace. Legolas fell asleep even before they reached the main entrance.

Avoiding any abrupt motions in order not to wake the little elfling Thranduil slowly made his way back to his chamber, where he laid Legolas down on his bed. Carefully he removed the small cloak and the tiny soft boots and covered his son with a thick, warm blanket. Tucking the lower corners of the blankets in, he was startled as he felt a small hand touching his cheek. He looked up and saw Legolas blinking down on him.

"Oh, ion nin, I am sorry, I did not want to wake you," he apologized, but Legolas only stared down on him, fear written all over his face.

"What is it, ion nin, what's wrong?" Thranduil felt panic flaring up inside of himself.

"Ada…" Legolas started, but then he sighed and let his hand fall limply back down on the mattress, dropping his gaze. There were so many questions he wanted to ask, but he was so afraid of the answers. What if his Ada said he should go away again? He did not want to go away again. He wanted to stay with his Ada. Tightly he cradled the cuddle cloth against his hurting chest.

"Legolas, talk to me, please. You know you can tell me everything," Thranduil urged him with a soft, low voice. He sat down on the bed and leant over Legolas, smiling reassuringly.

"Ada, is Nana…" Legolas trailed off again, blinking several times. He didn't want to cry in front of his Ada, but he was so sad when he thought of his Nana.

"Ion nin?" Thranduil pulled him on his lap so he sat sideways on his legs. Legolas leant his small head wearily against his father's chest, and Thranduil anticipated what his son would ask him. But Legolas did not say a word.

"What is it, tell me, ion nin. You can really tell and ask me everything," he urged again, and his soft soothing voice sent Legolas' over the edge. The elfling started to cry.

"Oh, Legolas, please, talk to me. I cannot help you if you don't tell me what's wrong." Thranduil begged, holding Legolas even tighter now.

"Nana was there and I wanted to run to her but she went away and I don't know why. Ada, is she angry with me?" Legolas finally sobbed out, and Thranduil suddenly felt tears stinging in his own eyes.

"Where did you see her?" he managed to ask.

"In the dark room. I wanted to run to her but she went away and it was so dark… Doesn't Nana love me anymore? Why did she go away?" Legolas trembled helplessly in his father's arms.

"Oh, my little squirrel, of course she loves you. She loves you so much. She had to go away because she lives somewhere else now and she knows you cannot go there with her because it's not a place for elflings to be. She… she knew I would come and get you and she wanted you to stay with me. Would you have preferred to go with her?" Thranduil asked, trying to keep his voice as neutral as possible, while his heart was racing in his chest, fearing the answer could be yes.

"No! No, I want to be with you, Ada," Legolas confessed hastily. Thranduil squeezed him reassuringly and let out a breath he did not know he had held.

"But I miss Nana," the elfling confided and turned his tearful eyes up to look in his father's face.

"I know, ion nin, and I miss her, too. But, you know, even though we cannot see her, she is always with us. When you think of her, she thinks of you, too. And when you miss her, she misses you, too. And when you tell her, that you love her, she tells you that she loves you, too, even though you cannot hear her. She loves you so much." He slowly rocked forth and back, comforting his child and himself. Legolas relaxed a little bit, but the tears did not cease.

"Are you very angry with me, Ada?" He anxiously asked after a while and cautiously looked up again. His heart was racing in his chest, fearing the answer could be yes.

"No, no, I'm not angry with you at all. No! Do I look angry to you?" Thranduil asked, stroking his son's head soothingly. Legolas shook his head, letting out a breath he did not know he had held.

"Why do you think I am angry with you, then?" Thranduil wanted to know.

"'Cause I'm here and you said I should go away," Legolas explained sadly. Thranduil's heart wrenched awfully.

"Oh, Legolas, my little squirrel, I did not know what I was saying. I-…I was sick. I'm so sorry. I did not mean it, ion nin, you must believe me. I never wanted you to go away, never. I am so glad that you are home again." He pressed him firmly against his chest and kissed Legolas' forehead. But still the elfling did not stop crying.

"Ada, I can't be your warrior, I'm sorry. I-… I can't shoot. I couldn't shoot the birds and they killed the wolf nana and the two babies and I… I was so scared. I'm sorry. Ada, please don't be angry with me, that I can't be your warrior…" he rambled on, his voice faltering.

"Oh Legolas, my little Greenleaf…" Thranduil hugged him even tighter if possible. He could not speak. He was choked with suppressed tears. It took all his strength not to cry. He could not cry now, Legolas would only think he cried because of the news that he could not be his warrior yet. He swallowed several times, until the lump in his throat was more or less gone.

"My little squirrel, you don't have to be my warrior yet," he explained gently. "You are an elfling, and no elfling has to be a warrior. And it is all right that you couldn't shoot the birds. You can shoot so well already for one so small, really, I am very proud of you. Did you not know that? You will get lessons soon and learn all the things you need to know to become a warrior when you are grown up. You don't have to be my warrior yet, my little squirrel. Do you understand that?"

"B-But I promised you to help…" Legolas twisted his head to glance up at him again, and Thranduil smiled down on him and kissed his son's tears away.

"You help me, when you are happy, when you play with your friends or with Labahû or with Míriel, when you do all the things that make you happy. You help me when you laugh." He leant his cheek against Legolas' forehead and inhaled deeply. Legolas' hair still smelled like his naneth's hair, but strangely it didn't hurt anymore to smell it. And it did not make Thranduil angry anymore, either. In a strange way it was comforting, just as the warmth of his son's small body pressed against his own.

"You must promise me one thing, my little squirrel. Never run away again, never, do you hear me?" He pulled away again to look Legolas straight in the eyes, and Legolas nodded, his blue orbs locking with Thranduil's grey-blue depths. "You must promise me, that, no matter what I say or do, you will never leave me like that again. Adults can be stupid sometimes, Legolas, and I am no better. Sometimes I am stupid, too. Sometimes we adults say things we don't mean because we're afraid of what others could think of us. You must believe me that I never want you to go away ever. I want you to be close to me all the time. I know I had not enough time for you because I was so busy with work, but I will make sure that I will have more time for you from now on, I promise you that. Please, forgive me for being so mean to you and for hurting you in my study. I didn't want to, I'm so sorry." Legolas nodded eagerly, sniffing.

"Were you sad, Ada?" the elfling whispered after another moment of silence, curiously studying his father's face.

"When you went away? Yes, I was sad, very sad. I was so afraid that I would never see you again. I was afraid that I had lost you," Thranduil confided, stroking down a stray strand of Legolas hair, tugging it behind his small pointed ear. Legolas leant his cheek into the palm of his father's strong large hand, gently grasping the wrist to hold the hand in place.

"I was afraid, too," he said, then mused for a moment, fumbling with Thranduil's sleeve, staring tiredly at nothing. "Ada, I missed you when I was in the forest."

"I missed you, too, my little squirrel. I missed you really badly." He glimpsed down on Legolas' face and for the first time since his return he saw a vague happiness sparkling in his son's lovely eyes. "You are so precious to me, my little squirrel. You mean everything to me, did you not know that?" Legolas looked up at him, somewhat surprised, a small smile on his face. Thranduil was overwhelmed by the warmth and love that instantly flooded his heart when he looked in his son's sparkling eyes. He took the small head in both hands and leant his forehead against Legolas'.

"I love you so much, Legolas, you cannot imagine, how much I love you," he said, and it felt as if someone had lifted a grey veil from his soul, as if someone had cut the chains around his heart, as if someone had drawn the curtains and let the sunshine flood his whole being. He could breathe, finally, really breathe. Breathe like he hadn't breathed for a long, long time. He was free. Finally free again.

"I love you, too, Ada," the elfling in his arms murmured with a relieved smile on his face and fell asleep in his father's warm embrace.

"I am so lucky to have you, my little squirrel," Thranduil whispered in the elfling's hair and kissed the top of his head. And then he finally allowed the tears from the deepest bottom of his heart to roll down his face.


Additional A/N:

Helcausali is a name I created out of Quenya (Considering that it's older than Sindarin and the Helcausali are ancient creatures…)

"Helca" = icy / icecold

"Ausa" = a dim shape, spectral or vague apparition

"li" = plural ending in Quenya (at least that's what my dictionary told me…)


Since English is not my first language and I surely would mess up all these explanations, I simply quote from The Encyclopedia of Arda for the most parts, except of course for things of my own invention. Hope, you don't mind! :)

1 – Melkor: One if not the most powerful Ainur, his name means "who arises with might", better known as Morgoth, the first true Dark Lord. He "was of the same order of the Valar and equal in power […]. While the Valar descended into Arda to order and govern wisely, though, Melkor sought power for himself alone, and sought to bend all things to his own will. All that the Valar made, Melkor looked to destroy; […] he threw down the Lamps of the Valar, destroying their dwelling in Almaren. They removed to Valinor, and fearing for the coming Elves, made war on Melkor and imprisoned him for three ages. By the time he was released, the Elves had come to Valinor; Melkor turned back to his evil ways; slaying Finwë and stealing the Silmarils, he destroyed the Two Trees of Valinor and fled back to his ancient fortress of Angband in the north of Middle Earth." (The Encyclopedia of Arda)

2 – Northern Waste: The northern region of Middle Earth, behind the Grey and the Iron Mountains. Comparable to this day's Arctic, I think.

3 – Angband: "Angband was a mighty fortified citadel originally constructed by Melkor in the earliest days of the world as an outlying fortress to his northern stronghold of Utumno. Utumno was destroyed by the Valar, and Melkor imprisoned in Valinor for three ages, but on his return to Middle-earth, he took Angband as the seat of his power, and raised the towers of Thangorodrim above its gates. Angband was beseiged by the Noldor during the early part of the First Age, but the Siege of Angband was broken at the Dagor Bragollach. It was finally destroyed by the forces of the Valar at the end of the First Age, in the War of the Wrath." (The Encyclopedia if Arda)

4 – Grey Mountains: "A northern range of Middle Earth, running west to east and forming the likely northern border of the region of Rhovanion. They were long mined by the Dwarves, who were driven from them in the late Third Age by Cold-drakes from the north, and were later colonised by Orcs." (The Encyclopedia of Arda)

5 – Great Grey Wolves: Tall wolves with grey coat, forefathers of a branch of the smaller grey wolves, who lived in the northern area of Mirkwood. The great animals dwelt at the Northern side of the Grey Mountains with Ñauyár, who later led them over the mountains to the southern side of it after an attack from the Helcausali.

6 – Ñauyár: One of the less powerful Ainur, a Maia. His name means "Wolfblood" (Quenya "ñau" standing for wolf like in "ñaule" = wolf-howl or ñauro = werewolf / "yár" = blood). He led and protected the Great Grey Wolves and could take on their shape if he wanted to. Together they dwelt in the Grey Mountains at the border of the Northern Waste. He transformed ice beasts created by Melkor into the Helcausali after they had attacked his wolves. When they attacked again he scared them away with a weird bright light. After that he led his wolves to the southern side of the mountains and left them behind as he returned to Almaren. His spirit was destroyed alongside the dwelling when Melkor threw down the Lamps of the Valar. It is believed that his weird light can still be seen at the arctic sky from time to time, though.

7 – Maia (sgl) / Maiar (pl): The less powerful Ainur. "Of the many spirits that descended into Arda at its beginning, those of lesser stature than the Valar, though they were still powerful, were known as Maiar. […] In the Third Age, there were still Maiar in physical form to be found in Middle-earth. The most important of these were Saruman, Sauron (originally also of Aul's people), and Olórin, known as Gandalf, who belonged to the people of Manwë and Varda." (The Encyclopedia of Arda)

(Ainur: Meaning "the holy ones", "The primordial spirits, who existed with Ilúvatar, and with Him created the world through the Music of the Ainur. After the creation of Arda, many of the Ainur descended into it to guide and order its growth; of these there were fifteen more powerful than the rest. Fourteen of these great Ainur became the Valar, or Powers of Arda. The fifteenth, Melkor, turned aside from that path and became the first Dark Lord. The many lesser Ainur that accompanied the Valar into Arda are known as Maiar." (The Encyclopedia of Arda))

8 – Almaren: "Before the time of the Two Trees of Valinor, and even before the Valar came to Valinor, they dwelt on the green island of Almaren in the Great Lake. In the mists of time, long before the awakening of Elves or Men, the Valar dwelt east of the Sea in Middle-earth. This was a time called the Spring of Arda, when the Earth was lit by the two Lamps of the Valar, and Almaren lay in the central regions of the World, where the light of the two Lamps mingled. […] Of much greater importance, though, is the fact that Almaren was the site of the Valar's first major defeat at the hands of Melkor: he loosed his forces secretly from his northern fortress of Utumno (then newly delved). Both the Lamps of the Valar were thrown down and destroyed, and Almaren lay in ruins. […] After this, the Valar left Middle-earth and seldom returned. They founded a new land far away to the west, in Aman, that they called Valinor; a land lit by the fabled light of the Two Trees." (The Encyclopedia of Arda)

9 – Lamps of the Valar: "Illuin and Ormal, the two great lamps made by Aulë to give light to the World in the ancient days when the Valar still dwelt in Almaren. They were overthrown and destroyed by Melkor." (The Encyclopedia of Arda)

10 – Necromancer: "The evil being who dwelt at Dol Guldur in the heart of Mirkwood; originally thought by the Wise to be one of the Nazgûl, Gandalf later discovered that the Necromancer was Sauron himself. A 'necromancer' is technically a magician with power over the spirits of the dead, but Tolkien almost certainly intends the more general sense of 'black magician'." (The Encyclopedia of Arda)