Chapter 16 – Alone?

I only want to sing

Is this too much to ask?

Music, my hope will bring;

In silence, despair falls as dusk.

In this world of vanity,

My heart wants no other thing.

Is not sweet music more lovely?

I only want to sing.

The sweet elven voice sang softly in perfect pitch, drawing joy from the beautiful melody. It was dark now, but Legolas did not care. If there were any place he could be forever, it would be here, with grass as his bed, and the stars as his blanket. Here, there was no one around, no one who could disturb the calm.

Some guests had retired to bed, and those who remained were well entertained. Master Cuorn and Calenlas had attached Mithrandir's fireworks to arrows, and were enrapturing the crowd with flying sparks released in various ways from their bows. Calenlas had even managed to modify an arrow to fly in a curved motion, thankfully, not coming back at himself or anyone. Of course, Brondil stood at the ready to ensure that all went well.

Melanel also had cakes and pastry to serve those awake with, and no one tired of the fragrant and delicious food. Galion's banishment had been lifted, and, in view of his acts of loyalty to Mirkwood and the King, he was reinstated as butler. Now, he cheerfully served the food, keeping himself occupied so he would not have any chance to be drunk and asleep on the job, and allow yet another security breach (But he was finally persuaded to drink, anyway).

Gilion was also helping to serve the guests, and he did this with the same efficiency as he delivered messages between the realms. And, following the previous incident with the confused letters, he was careful to serve the right dishes to the various elves. Osgaron, meanwhile, lived up to his reputation as a builder, and was in the midst of creating a new musical instrument for Liriel, the musician to try out.

Aragorn was one of those who could never stay awake, and was almost the first to have left the merry-making. Himorn spotted Legolas sneaking out through the side, but the Prince had got much better at eluding him so that he was unable to follow. At least the Prince left another note, neatly-written, where the elf was sure to find, saying that he would be in the fields and did not wish to be disturbed.

So now, peace and quiet was all Legolas got, and he was rather grateful for such simple joys, although in the back of his mind, he might have wished that a certain someone would come. Experiencing the breezes and stars and everything of nature somehow felt incomplete without him.

His prayer was answered as a tall figure strode over and sat beside him, laughing softly at the sight of Legolas lying on the grass in pure contentment.

"Ada, weren't you supposed to mingle with the guests?" Legolas asked, sitting up once more.

"It would seem that spending some precious time with my son is far more important," Thranduil said, smiling as he put an arm around the younger elf.

A comfortable silence existed between father and son. Then Thranduil spoke again,

"This song you sing bears much meaning, and even more so now after all these has happened."

Legolas turned, seeing that his father was seemingly lost in some reverie. The reverie that he would soon impart to him now that there was nothing between them.

Flashback

It was another routine patrol, and Thranduil was accompanied by Harthar, Istaril and Cuorn. Carasgon had left Mirkwood, or he would be part of them as well. As they were well within the Mirkwood borders, the patrol unit was kept smaller. Nothing much was expected to happen, after all.

They walked through the woods as though strolling on an outing, chatting and teasing each other. Istaril never failed to bring out points of debate, and Cuorn would seek to make his argument fall. Passing a stream, they stopped to refresh themselves, eating some pastry and drinking of the cooling water, after Harthar had ensured that it was not poisoned. Since the reporting time was still quite a long while away, they could afford the rest, and welcomed it greatly. Even with friends, patrolling was still a tiring task.

It was then that Thranduil saw a sight that revived him instantly.

A young elf was dancing flawlessly in the woods to a song that only she knew, and from that moment, Thranduil knew that he had loved her. Other maidens surrounded her, arrayed in deeper colours, adorned with more jewellery, dancing with more vigour, but Thranduil paid them no attention. He could see that they were more shallow, that their affections, if they had any, would not last long. But she was different.

Her golden hair flowed about her, falling lightly on her shoulders, following her however she moved. In her deep blue eyes, there was an unquenchable sparkle. She was fairer than silver or ivory or pearls and lovely to look upon, perhaps not as much as those around her, but she stood out distinctly above them. Clad in a simple, long, light silvery-blue gown, a sparkling jewel upon her neck, she looked as any other female elf. But there was something else.

Her eyes spoke of wisdom, her nimble movements of unparalleled grace and tenderness. Her dance was simple yet elegant, and her gait was poised. She was barefooted, and leapt on the grass with great delight at its beauty and aroma. A sparrow flew to her, accepting the food she held out in an open hand. She smiled, and her smile was mesmerising; the way her lips curled up gently, how her eyes softened even further, every feature of her involved in a sincere smile.

Then, Istaril called him to resume the patrol, and he turned unwillingly. How had so much time passed in such a short moment? But as Thranduil turned, the female elf smiled enchantingly in his direction. With a deep blush on his face, he carried on the patrol, teased unceasingly especially by Cuorn.

This same lady became his wife. Queen Míriel. She was indeed a rare jewel, and gave him sound counsel. She was gifted in many things, but especially so in music and singing. She could play any instrument the Palace had, and would often do this to soothe the King, or simply to entertain. She sang with the harp, the psaltery and such, with a dazzling light in her face, that many thought her to have come from the Blessed Realm.

She had great foresight and knowledge, understanding beyond her years, and the glow was always resplendent within her. Yet, she never forgot from whence she came from. Song after song, she would sing in praise of her Creator, and oftentimes, she would sing them especially for Thranduil to encourage him.

She had been most unwilling to see him leave before the Battle of Dagorlad.

"I know not what will happen, but I see great evil ahead," she said.

Thranduil tried to comfort her, "Yet will we conquer the evil. The battle will turn in our favour."

Míriel would not be persuaded, but she had to let him leave.

"Come back, melethron nîn," she said finally, "I will prepare a song for you."

And so he had left. But she had been true to her word. She kept his house in good order, ensuring that Mirkwood would not be far affected by the warriors leaving for battle. In her free time, she wrote song after song, but never sang any. For the duration of the battle, no one saw her laugh or smile.

When Thranduil staggered back home, she threw her arms over him, weeping in relief upon his shoulder before finally allowing him to rest. But the battle wore her down. She grew increasingly weary of the world. Nothing seemed to carry much meaning for her within the forests, and she sought ever more to leave for the West. It had taken all of Thranduil's efforts to stay her thus long (and it was not merely the weakness from childbirth or grief over Laeglas' death that had prompted her to set sail).

But her voice was still heard, and she smiled and laughed, though not as before. Thranduil had insisted that she sing for him, and this she did one night, albeit with mock-reluctance. (It was the same song that Legolas sang, even if certain words had been changed. Whoever sang it only found hope and comfort following comprehension of the words, and although Legolas had barely heard it enough, on the occasions when his mother sang to quieten him, to remember much of it, he had captured the essence of the song.)

Husband and wife were in a field (this very same one that they were now in), and there she sang it for him. The melody flowed and penetrated the darkest cloud, reaching throughout the entire realm and bringing relief to all who heard it. The stars twinkled in response and every creature gathered to listen to her praise of Eru Ilúvatar.

End of Flashback

"Because of You, Ilúvatar, we can live on," Thranduil's face told of peaceful bliss as he remembered the joyous times.

Legolas looked at him, imagining what his mother was like. The mother he had barely known, but always thought well of. His father's words only confirmed what he imagined. A beautiful woman, virtuous, seemingly perfect in every way.

Thranduil spoke again, "You are very much like her, Legolas. You're indeed her son."

Legolas nodded, his eyes showing inexpressible joy in them. From generation to generation, much has been lost, but much still remains. It was sad that he had little memory of her, or Laeglas, for that matter, but he would cherish what he had. And they lived ever on in him. Also, it was indeed a comfort that it was not he who had brought his mother's departure. The last puzzle had fallen into place.

His father's arm was still on him, and he moved even closer to his father.

"Sing once more, my son," Thranduil requested.

Legolas smiled and complied, leaning more on his father as he did so. In his heart, he felt a certain warmth and comfort unlike any other filling him from within, and spreading, radiating all over him. He was not alone. He would never, ever be.

Because of You, my Father true,

Because of You, I fear no ill.

Beholding You, my strength renew

Because of You; I'll sing for You.

I Veth

Final acknowledgements

§ Chapter 12, "Spirit of the Sword", contains an extract that was inspired by a non-Western orchestral piece by the same title.

§ The song "I only want to sing" was inspired by Chloe's song in the Iston, Erfier and Nefredal series.

§ Thanks a lot to "sell nîn" and gwathel nîn my beloved beta, idea-generator (The inclusion of Mithrandir and Galadriel's revenge), who will, hopefully, join the MC group soon.

§ Thanks also to my second beta and another gwathel nîn, who never fails to cheer me up or give me a good whack when I need it and even when I don't! Please join the MC group soon, too!

§ Thanks to the only dwarf close to my "peredhelian" heart (just what am I writing!), who gave me this idea of elves crafting and using axes, and basically became my weapon-smith.