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Chapter Three: Cry On My Shoulder

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You say you're falling apart

Reached the end of the line

Just looking for your place in an ordinary life

No one calls you friend

No one even knows your name

You just want to feel loved instead of all the pain

You have had some hard times

Had thorns placed in your side

I know about what you've been going through

Tears of pain are falling down

It hurts so bad you're crying out

You're problems won't last forever

Let me put you back together

You no longer have to say

No one's listening anyway

Come here and cry on my shoulder

I'll hold you 'till it's over

I'll rescue you tonight

Let my arms be your shelter

Your hiding place forever

I'll love you more than life

-Overflow

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Although famished, Legolas found that every bite caused agony to his now throbbing chest, and so contented himself with sipping slowly at the goblet of wine by his plate. He prayed to the Valar that by some smile of fate his Father would choose not to send him out on patrol that night, but wait until the Lord's of Rivendell had departed. He knew his body dearly needed time to recover from the stress it had been subjected to so ruthlessly for weeks, and he feared that, despite what he had told the young human, going out into the forest so weak might endanger just as many lives as if he had accepted the offered medicine. Although he hated to admit it, thanks to Aedril and Huor, what had been at first a nagging pain in his chest had blossomed into full-blown agony and he would have welcomed any kind of relief at that moment.

He chanced a brief glance up at the human who sat across the table, unnerved when their eyes met. At first he had seemed kind enough, and Legolas had even caught himself opening up to the human as he had not opened up to anyone since he had met Lord Elrond so many years ago. Once he had realized what he was doing he had pulled back inside himself, somewhat embarrassed. He didn't believe he had spoken as much in the entire last week as he had when he had spoken with the human in the hallway earlier on. It made him uneasy, especially when he found the human's eyes on him every time he looked up. He saw not the anger or disapproval he was accustomed to from his father, but only worry and compassion, which was in itself enough to irritate him. He wanted no pity from a mortal, whether he was the adopted son of Elrond or no.

Speaking of whom, Lord Elrond was also watching him closely, the added pressure making Legolas fight the urge to squirm in his seat. He hadn't thought his discomfort so outwardly apparent, but something must be showing to merit so much attention. As such, he redoubled his efforts at seeming normal, despite the almost incapacitating pain radiating from his chest. He hadn't thought it was so bad when he had first received the wound—direct result of an 800 pound Warg leaping onto his chest from the roof of a building—but it was quickly proving him wrong. Although it burned his pride, maybe—just maybe—he would go to Lord Elrond later on and ask for the pain medication he had refused from the human.

If his father did not send him back on patrol.

Asking his already on-edge body to trust a mortal he hardly knew was one thing, but he trusted Lord Elrond with his life—probably, if it came down to it, more then he trusted himself. He knew, or at least hoped, that the elven Lord would understand that.

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Little did Legolas know, however, just how much the elven Lord understood. At that moment, Elrond knew exactly what had happened and what Legolas expected to happen. Thranduil had already told him in no uncertain terms that Legolas' brash decisions had caused the loss of the lives of three elven warriors already, and he was going to send him out on patrol later that evening once more.

Frowning, Elrond studied the Prince, unable to put his finger on exactly what he felt radiating from his bowed head and slumped shoulders. As usual, and much to his discouragement, he felt pain, but he could not tell whether it be emotional, physical, or a mixture of both.

He turned his searching gaze to his human son, trying to read what he saw there. He could tell that Estel, ever-faithful to his curious human heritage, was already intrigued with the mysterious prince and the web of hurt and secrets that seemed to surround him.

What is wrong with him, Estel?

Estel physically started in his seat as his Foster Father's voice entered his mind. He quickly flushed as his Elladan and Elrohir snickered, but he had heard the Noldor Lord. Elrond was one of the few elves still remaining in Middle Earth who could instill such a connection. Estel had learned about it when he was younger, and, fascinated, he had asked the older elf if he could speak to him in his mind. Elrond smiled and said that he could, but only if Elrond first established the connection. They had only done it a few times, and the young human still wasn't used to it, but he worked hard to answer.

He's hurt, Ada. He thought back with some difficulty, don't let Thranduil send him back out.

I will not, ion-nin. Elrond returned firmly, I will not. But where is he hurt, and how bad is it? Elrond didn't wish to cause his adopted human son further difficulty by complicating the required answer more than he had to, but he needed to know these things at the moment there was only one who could answer them.

His chest… The human returned. It looks like he was hit by something heavy, and I think he may have some broken ribs. Elrond inwardly winced at this. It's not too bad, but it looks painful.

Fear not Estel. He will not be leaving the palace anytime soon if I have anything to say about it, and I will, if he allows, treat him later. Breaking the connection without skipping a beat, Elrond answered a question from Thranduil's direction with grace and ease that hinted at nothing of what had just transpired between he and the young human.

"So…" Estel's attention was deflected as Elladan tried to strike up a conversation with the reclusive prince. "Do you… Have a lot to do here in Mirkwood?" He finished rather lamely, causing his twin to choke slightly on his food.

Estel shot a warning look at Elrohir. Elladan could do with a little more tact sometimes, but he was at least making an effort to reach out to Legolas, which was more than could be said for his twin.

Legolas, for his part, stiffened a little when addressed, but merely looked confused when he grasped the question. "In what way, my lord?" He returned politely, "As far as duties, or economics…?" He trailed off, leaving Elladan to fill in the gap, although it was Elrohir who did.

"He means recreation." The youngest twin piped in mirthfully.

Legolas' brow furrowed in thought as he set down his glass, leaving Estel with the feeling that he probably didn't do much for recreation.

"And what makes you assume that, Elrohir?" Elladan retorted. "Although you couldn't keep your mind on anything serious for more than half a moment, the same is not necessarily true for me."

Estel came to the rescue, adding his own piece to the discussion before Elrohir could retort. With the twins around, things could easily get out of hand, and he didn't think they realized who would very likely get the blame if anything went awry. "What my brother means, Prince, is if there will be time on the morrow for exploring this grand forest."

Looking a bit flustered by the multiple sources of input from the three siblings, all of whom radiated a constant aura of mischief that left him in doubt of the seriousness of their questions, Legolas answered with guarded hesitance, while still maintaining his air of respectful formality. "There will, since the Palace perimeter is kept well secured by the Guard, but I would not advise straying beyond the walls without an armed escort familiar with the woods."

Having found a source of common ground, the elves and human from Rivendell kept up a steady stream of questions, with Estel, for once, being the mediator whenever the twins threatened to get into a verbal fistfight. So passed the next half-hour, after which servants came to whisk platters and goblets from the table, and Elrond and Thranduil sojourned to Thranduil's study to talk. Estel hoped his foster-father would not waste time in addressing the matter of Legolas' departure. Now that they had the elf talking, he seemed a bit more at ease. He was obviously not used to the way siblings interacted, and sometimes seemed unsure of whether or not they were joking, or in true earnest.

After a time of this, Legolas was rescued when a servant appeared, asking the brothers if they would spare the Prince, since Elrond had requested to see him in his quarters. Legolas willingly complied, a little overwhelmed by the twins and their human brother, who usually received the brunt of their jokes and jabs.

"My Lord." He bowed when he was admitted to the Elven healer's room.

"Legolas—" Elrond returned with a smile. "I trust my sons did not prove overmuch for you to handle."

The Elven lord laughed when Legolas hesitated in his answer. "Their ways are certainly beyond my comprehension." The Mirkwood Prince smiled hesitantly, searching for respectful words with which to phrase his thoughts. "I was simply confused by their… sense of humor."

Elrond shook his head in amusement. "Aye, you are not the first. And they are not the most tight-lipped, to warn you, but most of their complaining is in jest only. They complained about sharing a room as youngsters. Now that they are older and have their own rooms, but still need something to complain about, they complain about sharing the same hallway."

Legolas smiled, this one reaching nearly to his eyes, but not quite, which did not escape the Elven Lord's notice.

"But you do not need me to tell you that, I am sure…" He cocked one eyebrow at the quiet elf, before getting to the point. "But now… How are you Tithen-pen?" He asked quietly.

Legolas gave him an unconvincing half-smile and a shrug, but he needed to give no audible answer. The Elven Lord already knew.

Moving forward, the healer wrapped the young Prince in a warm embrace without further words, and Legolas sighed deeply into his shoulder, relaxing momentarily. It made him feel childish, but there was something comforting in the accepting hug that made him wish he never had to leave. Sometimes, when Lord Elrond embraced him, he would have a flashing memory of his father doing the same, many, many years ago, but it was quickly gone, leaving him to wonder if it had even really come. His father hadn't so much as touched him since he had come of age, and then it had been only to place the crown on his head during the ceremony.

"Legolas?" The younger elf was brought sharply back to the present when he realized it was the second time Elrond had addressed him, holding him out by the shoulders as his brow furrowed in concern.

"Forgive me—" He rejoined quickly, embarrassed. "I—I wondered, if you would allow me to make a request of you?"

"Of course, Legolas." Was the firm reply.

"My lord," He kept his eyes on the ground. "If I may..."

"Yes?"

"If I may request of you… that is, I know you have great knowledge of healing, and—if you know of a herb that I might…"

Elrond paused and frowned slightly, pretending to be ignorant of the Prince's situation. "Are you wounded?" He wasn't trying to be cruel—he only wanted to see how far Legolas' trust in him went, although he felt rather guilty for doing it in such a way.

Legolas flushed violently and ducked his head, unable to answer. He was disgusted with his own foolish weakness, and wished nothing more than to snatch back his words and dart from the room. His voice was barely audible even to Elrond's keen hearing as he murmured a reply. "Yes M'lord."

"Legolas…" Elrond smiled kindly, lifting the young elf's chin with two fingers. "There is no shame in pain. And you need not address me so formally."

The younger elf managed a gratefull half-smile, but offered no verbal response. Elrond gestured to the bed. "Here—lie down and I will treat you myself. From what Estel has told me, you were at the receiving end of a Warg, most likely?"

"Yes my lord…" Legolas returned, surprised. "But I don't think you should—I—my father would—"

Peace young one." Elrond interjected with amusement. "I don't think your father wants you going about wounded, whatever else he may say. It is no trouble."

"Very well… Thank you, m'lord." At Elrond's prompting, Legolas reluctantly laid down, causing the healer to wonder just what kind of hold Thranduil had on his son, that he would be so obviously anxious even when his father was not in the room.

"Wait here. I will return soon." When Elrond did return with herbs and bandages, Legolas was exactly where he had been, one forearm laid heavily across his eyes.

"Ion-nin?" Elrond questioned gently, not wishing to startle the young elf.

Legolas, not moving, smiled slightly, but his words were soft and slightly amused. "I'm not your son."

Elrond smiled in turn as he ground several plants into a bowl. "And yet I consider you such, as I hope you still consider me another father."

Legolas' ebbing half-smile returned momentarily with a soft chuckle. "I wish—" He began wistfully, temporarily forgetting himself, and then flushed, cutting himself off and looking abruptly away.

"Tithen-pen? What do you wish?" Elrond prompted gently, pausing in his work.

Legolas' eyes darted back to the healer's face, and then away once more.

"Legolas?"

A whisper came at last, soft and self-conscious. "I wish… that—that you were my father."

Elrond's heart wrenched, at that soft admission, but he had no words with which to answer such a statement. What should—what could he say to something like that? Even if he had found words, he was not sure he could have spoken them past the sudden lump in his throat.

"I—forgive me M'lord, I should not have said that…" Legolas stuttered, mistaking the Elven Lord's silence. "I have no right to—"

"You have every right Legolas," Elrond admonished soothingly. "But you should not have a reason."

There was a short stretch of silence as the Noldor elf spread a thin layer of paste over the bruise on the Prince's chest. The cool salve made an immense difference, and Legolas sighed and relaxed almost immediately. To look at the Prince, you might not notice his constant tension until you saw it leave him, and then the difference was drastic.

"I spoke to your father, Legolas." Elrond offered at last, receiving no response. "Despite his words to you, he was actually in one of his better moods, and it did not take much prodding to convince him to allow you to rest here at the Palace until we leave."

Legolas' eyes shot open in shock. "M'lord!" He reverted to formal speech in his surprise. "He, he—I..."

"Peace young one." Elrond hushed. "He knows it was entirely my own idea. I told him it was a shame that my sons would have no-one to show them the forest during their stay, and from there suggested yourself. I hope you do not mind…?"

"Mind?" Legolas' eyes shone. "My lord, I dreaded leaving tomorrow. I—I don't know how I can repay you."

Elrond smiled warmly. "You can start by leaving off the "My Lord" part. Valar know I hear enough of that from strangers."

"I shall try my best, Lord Elrond." Legolas hastily adjusted his phraseology.

"That is all I ask." Elrond returned lightly.

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Well, after an extended leave of absence I am back, but only to announce that this is going to be the last chapter I post of this story! BUT—before I make someone angry, I would love it if someone wants to continue it for me! So, if anyone's interested in that, just e-mail me at thanks to:

Enigma Jade—I know, I know! I'm trying to update more often- (racks head for a new excuse) :-) Thanks for the review!

Outspoken Christian—Love your name! Thanks for the review!

bluberryDreamer—Lol, glad to know my fics can keep people sane! Here's one for you!

Raspberry—Well, then, thanks for the compliment! ;-) And the review!

Elwen—Hey there! Good to know I didn't over-do it—I always wondered if I could pull it off, but I decided to be just as realistic as possible, since in this story the Thranduil/Legolas relationship is kind of like it is with me and my Dad. And as or myself--I've never been better! Thanks a million for the review; hope to see you around!

Le Chapelier fou—well, I'm glad my story is an exception! And you're right, I don't like mean Thranduil stories either, so I'm trying to keep this one from being the same—he's not so much mean as he doesn't understand…. If that makes any sense, lol! Thanks for the review!

Deana—Sheesh! Are you ever not on Every time I update you're the very first to review! (lucky…!) Lol, thanks for the review, and for being such a pest! ;-) (A good kind of pest!)

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…..and everyone else who stuck through this story—you just might see the end of it!

Toodles y'all!

-Skande

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