Disclaimer: I own none of the characters that you recognise. Legolas, Thranduil, Elrond and the twins, and anyone else all belong to Tolkien. The only characters I own are those who you don't recognise. This story was written for enjoyment purposes only.
Warnings: None really. For once, there is not gonna be a lot of blood and pain and all. Instead its gonna be more emotional than anything else.
Author's Note: I'll say my stuff at the end of the chapter!
'Nana is dead. She died last week, and today she is going to be put away, where I can't see her any more. I will have to say goodbye to her for the very last time. It will be sad, and I think that I'll cry. But crying isn't bad. She always told me that.'
The young Prince of Mirkwood closed his eyes tightly, and buried his face deep into the pillows that were still damp from last night's tears. He had to get out of bed and get ready. He knew that, even though no-one had been in to tell him. He had known that his father would stay away, but he at least expected his uncle to come and wake him and help him prepare, or even a servant. But there was no-one. He was alone.
'I am alone, and Ada is alone. We are both alone,' Legolas thought sadly. 'But he won't come to me. And he won't let me go to him.'
Exhaling shakily, the Prince raised his head and gazed around the room, searching for the new clothes that had been lain out for him by the servants last night. Ah, there they were, folded up on a chair. But they were so strange, so different to what he was used to wearing. Silver and shiny, shimmering as the sun through the window caught the silky material. He hated them.
'The Sun is shining. That means that She is happy, or so Nana used to say,' Legolas thought, as he pushed back the coverlet and got slowly out of bed. 'How can She be so happy when this is such a sad time?'
There was a round table in the right corner of his room, and he made his way silently across to it, so that he could wash his face in the silver basin that sat there. He hoped that the water would be cold today. Maybe having the icy splash of it on his skin would shock him into realising that today really was happening. For he still found it hard to believe, so hard.
"It isn't fair!" he suddenly spat, flicking his hand into the bowl and splashing water over the rim. "Why did she have to be attacked? Why did the Orcs have to touch her with their dirty black hands, and why wasn't anyone there to save her, and why did-
The Prince turned, startled, and gazed up at the newcomer in surprise. "I didn't hear you open the door."
"No, you seemed preoccupied. But it matters not." The Elf paused as he came into the room and gently closed the door. "How do you feel, pen-neth?"
Legolas shook his head slowly, helplessly. "I don't know. Scared, sad. I miss Nana. And I want to see Ada."
Lord Círhael nodded, but said nothing. He could identify with his nephew's pain, but speaking of it only made him feel worse. His sister, the Queen, had been much more than a sister. She had been a friend, and he knew that never in the rest of his immortal life would he find another like her. She had been a gift, both to him and the rest of the world. And now she was gone.
"Forgive me," Círhael muttered, shaking his head. "I was thinking."
"About Nana," Legolas said softly.
The elder Elf smiled weakly, and busied himself with picking up toys and clothes from the floor. "What else? Come now, get dressed. I know you want to put it off. But today is going to happen. Nothing will change that."
Legolas shrugged off his night tunic, and slowly began dressing himself in the clothes that he would wear for his mother's burial. They felt horrible. "I don't like these," he sighed. "I don't want to wear them."
"At any other time, you would make no complaint," Círhael replied. "It is because you know what they have been made for. You know that they are for this day, and that makes you bitter."
The Elfling made a non-committal noise as he did up the clasps on his tunic. "I miss Nana, but…I miss Ada too. I know that he hasn't gone with her, but it seems like he has."
"Do not say that," Círhael said sharply. "Death is no light matter."
"I know, and I didn't mean it like you think I did," the Prince replied. "What I meant is that Ada hasn't spoken to me for two days now. He doesn't even look at me if we pass each other, and he doesn't come to meals any more. He hasn't come to say goodnight to me like he used to when I go to bed. Only you do it now. Not that I mind, but I just…well…"
"I know." Círhael was silent as he smoothed a slight crease in his dark robes, but then he looked up and smiled briefly. "Legolas, the passing of your mother has greatly affected your father. It is important that you are aware of this. But it is even more important to know that he loves you very much, and nothing will change that."
"I have tried to be a good Elfling for him since it happened," the Prince whispered, swiping at his glistening eyes. "But it's so hard when I want to go to him, and have him hold me tight, when all he does is push me away. I've already lost Nana, and I don't want to lose-
The door swung open. Legolas spun on his heel, and Círhael closed his eyes briefly, hoping against hope that his nephew's words has not been heard from outside. For it was the Elven-king of Mirkwood who stood in the doorway, his face fair, yet expressionless, masked by an impenetrable coldness; and his steely eyes glittering with emotions that were far too tumultuous to even be guessed at.
"Thranduil, we did not expect to see you until the…well, until later," Círhael said.
"No. That does not surprise me." The King flicked his gaze up to meet that of his brother-in-law, and inclined his head. "Forgive me if I am interrupting anything, but I must speak with my son."
Círhael glanced down at his nephew, sighing inwardly at the smile that had suddenly graced the previously sad features. The only thing that Legolas had heard was that his father wanted to speak to him. Those words were all that mattered. If he had caught the cool tone of the King's voice, it clearly meant nothing to him, and was not enough to dispel the brief moment of joy that had been felt.
"Of course," the Elf-lord replied. "I will be outside."
"No, stay. It will not take long," Thranduil said. He glanced at his son, and narrowed his eyes slightly. "Why do you just stand there, Legolas? Braid your hair. You should have already done it."
"But I…" The Prince's smile faded, and his gaze was uncertain. "I thought you wanted to talk to me, Ada."
"Just braid your hair, pen-neth," Círhael said quickly.
Legolas looked up at his father, searching the once soft eyes for answers. But there were none. Nodding once, he turned away and began brushing his golden hair, all the while biting hard on his lip to try and prevent tears from gathering. Behind him, Thranduil stood in silence, gazing at the opposite wall, yet fully aware that his brother-in-law was watching him closely.
"Whatever you have to say," he murmured, "can wait."
"It will," Círhael replied, his voice equally soft. "However, I would advise you to process the thoughts that are in your mind before speaking them."
"And why would I not?" Thranduil questioned. "Do not treat me like a child."
"Would I?" Círhael moved closer to the King, turning slightly to hide their conversation. "No, I am trying to protect your son. Your absence these last few days has hurt him enough, and I cannot see you amending that mistake, not today. You-
The two Elves turned quickly, as a clatter sounded from just behind them. Legolas' hairbrush lay on the floor, where it had been flung by him in a sudden moment of grief. It mattered not that his father and uncle had tried to conceal their words, for his Elven ears had caught everything. The angry tones hurt him inside, and all he wanted was for them to disappear, and be replaced by ones of care and love.
"I told you to braid your hair," Thranduil said sharply.
"I can't," the Elfling whispered. "I tried, but…but…"
"His hands," Círhael murmured. "They are shaking. No wonder he had trouble."
The King closed his eyes, and shook his head in annoyance. "Then, leave your hair loose if you are incapable of doing anything else with it."
Legolas lowered his gaze to the floor, his eyes beginning to sting. "Yes Ada," he said quietly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to…"
"Look at me," Thranduil said softly. He received no answer. Taking a step forwards, he reached down and turned his child's face so that their eyes met. Tears fell onto his fingers, but he did not withdraw his hand. "Legolas, you must not-
"Don't!" Círhael snapped.
The Elven-king ignored his brother-in-law, and knelt down so that he was at eye level with his son. "Legolas, I know that you are hurting. But you must not shed tears outside these walls. I cannot let you."
"I can't cry for Nana?" the Prince whispered. "But why…?"
"There are expectations of us. Our people look to us for strength, and we will give it to them," Thranduil said firmly. "So, pull yourself together, and stop those tears. You will meet the expectations."
"But nothing," Thranduil cut in. Withdrawing his hand, he stood, but did not drop his son's gaze. "Do not let me down, Legolas."
And then with not another word, the Elven-king turned, and left. Círhael stared at his nephew for a moment, almost as stunned as he, before snapping back into reality, and leaving the room swiftly. He was fully prepared to stop his brother-in-law and tell him exactly what he thought of all that had transpired, but his words fell dead.
The long robes that the King wore were not enough to hide the trembling of his body as he leant against the wall, using it as a support. "No father," he said softly, "should ever speak such words. And no child should ever hear them."
"But you did speak them," Círhael said, taking a step forwards. "And Legolas heard them."
"I know. It was the last thing that I wanted to say, but…"
Thranduil turned to face the other Elf, and shook his head slowly. "Ithilwen's death has affected us all. My way of coping with it has been isolation, but it should not have been so. Legolas needs me, and I have been neglecting him."
"This blame will not help you," Círhael sighed.
"Maybe. But I went in there with every intention of telling my son that I love him with all of my heart, and he will never have to feel alone again," Thranduil hissed. "But I could not. I was sharp with him, and I told him not to…I just don't know why. I don't understand why I feel like this."
Both Elves were silent as they tried to control their thoughts, thoughts which spun wildly in their minds, making no sense as they tripped over their fellows. Thranduil lowered his grief-filled eyes to the floor, but Círhael stared into his brother-in-law's face, searching for answers to unasked questions, and clues to unsolved mysteries. And there were many of them.
"I know how Ithilwen died. Orcs stole her life," he said eventually. "But I think there is something else, something that you are hiding, and something that is heightening your grief. Will you not tell me? Do I not have the right to know?"
Thranduil nodded once, but said nothing. No, he could not deny that Círhael had the right to such knowledge, but it would be hard, so hard to tell him. Reliving the nightmare, hearing his wife screaming his name once more, and again feeling the cruel claws digging into his body and pulling at his hair as he tried to reach his beloved, would hurt so much. But he knew that he had to. There was no choice.
"Tell me, and maybe I can help you," Círhael said softly.
The Elven-king opened his mouth to begin his story of grief and guilt, but even before he began speaking, the door to his son's rooms opened. Legolas came out into the corridor and stood beside his uncle, but gazed up at his father. His eyes still shone, but the tear lines had been washed from his face, and no more fell.
"Ada, I have braided my hair," he said. "It isn't very tidy, because my hands were still shaking when I did it. But I tried, and I can't do any more than try, so I hope it pleases you. And as for my crying…I won't cry. Not any more, not if it makes you unhappy."
Thranduil stared at his son in wonder, mind spinning as he sought the right words. He knew what he had to say, what he should say. He should assure the child that tears did not anger him – despite his earlier words – and that he should not be afraid to cry. He wanted to say that, he really did, but again, he found that he was unable to, stopped by his guilt and grief.
'Say something!' Círhael thought desperately. 'Say what you want to; do not throw this chance away…'
"I…" Thranduil shook himself mentally, and nodded once. "Well, that is good. I am glad to hear it."
'For the love of the Valar, why?' Círhael asked silently.
"I must leave you now," the King said, tearing his gaze from the pained look on his son's face. "But I believe it is an hour or so before the service starts, so you have time for breakfast, Legolas."
As his father turned and walked away, the Prince closed his eyes tightly. Breakfast? How could he possibly eat at a time like this? Exhaling deeply, he made to go back into his own room, but a gentle hand on his shoulder stopped him. He looked up into his uncle's sad face, and shook his head. He didn't know what to say, what to do.
"I am so sorry," Círhael murmured. "I am sorry for…"
"Not your fault," Legolas choked out. "But I don't understand. Nana always told me that tears are good, not bad. So did Ada. But now he is telling me not to cry. Why? I want to, Uncle, because…because I just do. But I don't want to make him angry."
Círhael wrapped an arm around the Elfling's shoulders, and pulled him close. "I know that. Now, if you want to cry, then you cry. Believe me when I say that your father did not mean what he said."
"Are you sure?" Legolas asked uncertainly. "Then, why did he…"
"Because his grief is making him say and do things that he does not mean," Círhael replied. "I know what he said to you. But I also know that he hates himself for saying it. Trust me, pen-neth."
"I…I trust you," Legolas replied. "But do you promise me that it will be alright to cry when I say goodbye to Nana? Because if it isn't, then I-
"Stop this," Círhael cut in. He knelt, and gazed into the child's silver eyes. "I promise you. Trust me."
Right, first of all can I apologise for the delay in getting something posted! It's just that, I started writing something, and I got about ten chapters done, but then I got an awful writer's block, and I couldn't write anything for about two weeks. This idea was stored away in my mind, and because it's gonna be quite a short story (about 20 chapters) I thought that if I made a start on it, I'd have something to give you all. That aside, I've had so much work with college it isn't even funny, and I've been touring Cornwall in a play, and I've had various problems with boyfriends (who needs them!) so that's that.
Secondly, I want to thank everyone who reviewed 'Fallen Angels'. You made me very happy!
Thirdly…actually, I have to go. I have to get a train in half an hour, because I'm going to my friend's place tonight. Updates are gonna be about every three days or so, depending on how much work I have.
It's great to be back!