Thranduil's Pain of Loss

By Lady Jet

Disclaimer: I own nothing! Except for Adatel, Nethalas, and Taníel, the three sons of Thranduil before Legolas; and Letakan and the other two sisters of Legolas.

Story Notes: This story gives an explanation as to why Thranduil is so protective of his children, and also follows the stories of Adatel and Nethalas trying to talk their slightly crazy younger brother Legolas out of joining the Fellowship and loving the dwarf, Gimli.

I: Loss and Gain

Taníel was the youngest of the three boys of King Thranduil of Mirkwood. There was Adatel, the crown Prince, and Nethalas, the self appointed guardian over the younger elflings, and then Taníel. Thranduil adored his children, both male and female; for he had several daughters as well, but Taníel had a special place in his heart. He was to be the last child he and his wife would have.

The call of the sea to her was strong, yet she stayed to watch her children grow. Thranduil wished for her not to be torn and though he knew the risks of having her leave, he would keep a small lock of hair to keep her with him. She was to leave as soon as Taníel was a grown elf.

"Come on Taníel!" called Nethalas as he walked away from the castle with his older and younger brothers. Thranduil watched and chuckled lovingly as they headed for the edge of the grounds and on a path that they had taken many times before. Thranduil had little to worry about, Adatel was swift with knives and a bow, and he kept them both with him on the walks, just in case.

"You three be careful, and do not tarry in the shadows for long!" called Thranduil as he watched. Adatel smiled and waved back.

"We will, Adar, and I'll make sure these two don't get into too much trouble," laughed Adatel as he waved. Nethalas and Taníel turned and made faces at the older elfling. Adatel was still young to be carrying an adult bow, but his strength was great for his young body. Thranduil smiled and nodded waving them off on their walk. Thranduil saw Taníel turn and yell but those last words:

"I LOVE YOU ADAR!" Then he scampered off with his brothers.

"So what way do you want to go Taníel?" A loving hand placed itself on the golden haired elf child. Taníel chuckled and grinned and pointed to another path.

"That way! We haven't been that way in a while!" Nethalas chuckled and nodded.

"All right, as long as Captain Show-Off doesn't say no." The middle elfling looked back at his older brother. Adatel sighed and shook his head.

"Okay, fine we'll go that way, but we can't stay long today. Adar said he and Naneth were going to have a nice dinner tonight for us!" Taníel grinned at his eldest brother's news.

"I hope Dad will let me have some wine!" he giggled, knowing all too well he was too young for wine.

"Maybe in a few years, little one." The smile that came from Nethalas almost made the little elfling feel better. Almost. Nethalas smiled and walked along side his sibling keeping his eyes on him, as well as the trees. Adatel watched and listened carefully in case of any spiders.

"Besides, after you're incident, Nethalas, I think father will be keeping a good eye on what you have in you're cup." Nethalas spun around and glared daggers at his older brother. The incident he spoke of was when Nethalas 'accidentally' was given wine in stead of juice, and needless to say, unlike his father and the rest of his family, Nethalas could NOT hold his alcohol. He started prancing around and kissing trees shortly after he was half done with his drink.

"Shut up, Adatel," Nethalas glared and stormed off, pouting mightily. Taníel and Adatel giggled and hurried to catch up.

The three walked along for several minuets, unawares that they were being watched hungrily from above. The spider gently crawled ahead in the large trees, watching and waiting for one of them to be careless. He didn't have to wait long either.

"Adatel! Look-it me!" Taníel had jumped into the lower branches of a tree and hung from his knees, giggling and smiling. Adatel laughed and smiled.

"Taníel, get down from there before you hurt yourself." Taníel pouted and sat up flipping around to face his older brothers.

"You guys are no-" he never finished his sentence as the spider gabbed him and pulled him into the treetop.

"Taníel!" Adatel grabbed his bow and placed an arrow into the string. "Nethalas! Get Adar! QUICKLY!" Adatel jumped into the tree and began to hunt.

Nethalas rushed back through the woods, his heart racing and breaking in fear that Taníel was hurt, or worse yet, killed. He shook that though from his head and rushed into the castle.

"ADA! ADAAAAA!" Sobbing he ran into his father shaking fearfully.

"Nethalas! What's wrong? Where are your brothers!" Thranduil lifted him up and held him close.

"Taníel...was in a tree and...and then a spider got him!" he buried his face into his father's cloak and sobbed. Thranduil tensed, grabbed a near by bow and quiver and hurried out calling to the guards to follow as he raced towards the woods, Nethalas still in his arms. By the time they reached the woods Nethalas stayed back with the one guard and watched in shock as Adatel fought with the spider as valiantly as he could, his left arm limp at his side.

Thranduil aimed his bow and shot the spider in his middle eye. Adatel scrambled back as the large spider cried in pain and then fell over legs curling in.

"SEARCH THE TREES! FIND MY SON!" Thranduil rushed over to Adatel and inspected his arm. A large spider bite was already bruising on the elfling's arm. Reaching into a bag on his hip, Thranduil cleaned the wound and looked at his eldest son. At only 38 he was a very strong and stout elfling, not showing a tear or twitch. Thranduil held Adatel and Nethalas close. He looked up and went deathly pale as one of the elvish guards came out of the tree's holding a limp body.

"Taníel...? Iond nin?" His hands shaking he took the body of his son into his arms and brushed the strands of the silk off of his golden hair and pale face.

"I'm sorry my king," the guard said sadly backing away.

"No...NO!" Thranduil clutched the small body to his chest and sobbed. Nethalas clung to his older brother and began to cry. Adatel held his younger brother close and finally let his tears flow, crying and sobbing from the pain in his arm but more from the loss of his younger brother.

Thranduil sent out his best archers and hunters to seek out the spiders and push them back. He too prepared for the campaign, dressing in the clothes he wore at the last alliance many centuries ago. Adatel came in, dressed in his leotards and riding clothes, his boots still a little too large for him.

"Adatel...what are you doing? Why are you dressed so?" Thranduil finished pulling his hair back into a long pony-tail, a single warrior braid falling from his left ear.

"I'm coming with you, that's why, Adar. I feel responsible for what happened to Taníel, the best I can do is help you hunt the spiders that killed him." Adatel looked up at his father, his hair pulled back similarly to the elder elf.

"Adatel, it was not your fault," Thranduil said placing a hand on the elfling's shoulders. "You stay here, and regain your strength. Your body is still working out the poison." Thranduil gently lifted the chin of his son and saw the strength and determination.

"But I have to! I shouldn't be here while you're out fighting the spiders! Please Ada, let me come with you..." Adatel frowned and swallowed hard, desperate to join in the hunt, if only to make himself feel more of use.

"Adatel, no. You are the crown prince, you need to stay here and help your mother govern Mirkwood while I am away. That is your duty."

"ADA! Please let me go with you!" With that Adatel clung to his father desperate and crying slightly. Thranduil frowned and hugged his son close knowing the guilt that ate away at his soul.

"Iond nin, you must be strong. Nethalas and your sisters need you. They need you to be there for them. They look up to you." A small smile crossed Thranduil's face as he pulled his son away to look at him. Adatel was so mature, yet at times he could still be stubborn and behind all facades he needed the support and love of his siblings and his parents.

"But I failed Taníel," the young prince muttered sniffling and looking to the ground.

"No, no you didn't. You did not fail him, you tried your best to save him, that is not a failure, my boy." Thranduil gently undid the war braid from his son and let his hair flow gently over his shoulders. Adatel sniffled and cleared his nose on his sleeve and looked up at his father.

"All right Adar, I'll stay here."

"Good, now go get into your robes and clean up a bit. I promise when I get back I will help you with more of your riding, and teach you a bit more about the courts." Adatel smiled at this and nodded heading off to undress and clean up. Thranduil sighed and looked at himself in the mirror, he saw himself, as well as a part of his oldest son in that reflection. Adatel had to stay behind in case anything were to happen to him. Grabbing a pair of white daggers he slipped them into his quiver and pulled a piece of hair out of his face. Slipping on his cloak he hurried off to speak with his archers and hunters about the task that was to only begin, and also to say goodbye to his love.

Thranduil rode on with the other hunters away from the palace. His eyes were ahead, watching for any movement, and his ears were trained to the language and song of the trees. The horses nickered every once and a while to see if their riders would tell them anything. The elves spoke quietly into the ears of the horses telling them all that they dared. Thranduil frowned, listening and slowing the company down. The trees whispered of danger ahead and everyone got their bows ready. Thranduil called them ready and watched the shadows.

Twenty, at least, it will be a difficult battle. At the first sign of attack by the spiders, the arrows flew.

Two months past before the horns blew for the return of the king. Adatel and Nethalas rushed out of the castle as their father and the remainder of the forces came in. Thranduil was dirtied and slightly bruised but a proud aura was surrounding him.

"ADA!" Letakan, the youngest daughter of Thranduil ran up to her father and lept into his arms. Thranduil embraced her and her two sisters smiling.

"My daughters," he said gently into their ears as they let him go. He looked up at his sons and wife and headed up to them, the stable hands caring for the horses.

"Adar." Adatel tried his hardest not to burst into his fathers arms but had little success when he finally did give his father a hug. "I was afraid you weren't coming back."

"I promised I would though, Adatel, and I did."

"Meleth nin." Thranduil looked up as his wife spoke to him, her eyes filled with joy for the return of her husband, but grief because of the loss of her son, and several hunters.

"We lost three good warriors, but the spiders have been pushed back. Their numbers have increased drastically. I fear they will continue to become bolder, and come closer to our home," Thranduil, dressed back in his fine robes, his crown of leaves and berries upon his head, stated frowning talking to the generals and his wife.

"Either way, the dangers are constant. Did you really need to take our good warriors to avenge your son?" Thranduil stood up and bristled with anger.

"I did that to make sure no other fathers would loose their children to those monsters! They have been left alone for too long! Taníel's death will not bein in vein, I refuse to let those creatures rule over us with fear! Those three elves' deaths will not bein in vein either. I'm keeping my kingdom safe, I'm keeping my PEOPLE safe." Thranduil swallowed hard and sat down letting his wife stroke his hand for support.

"My husband, your king, is passionate about his family, as well as his people. He would never take such a risk unless he felt it was for the good of Mirkwood."

"Thank you, meleth nin," he spoke softly to his wife holding her hand, allowing the rage to pass. Thranduil looked up again, his short temper getting the best of him again during a moment of importance.

"The spiders must be stopped; the darkness that grows with their coming is worrying me. I will die before I sit back and allow my people to be devoured by those creatures." His voice was stern and his piercing eyes halted all voices from being brought up against him.

"I am sorry my king. I did not mean my words to sound so disrespectful." Thranduil looked at the general and nodded in understanding.

"It is forgotten and forgiven. I understand your concern, but I assure you I will protect my people."

Months had past and life in the palace of Thranduil returned to normal for the most part. The children of the King and Queen for several weeks were lethargic and mourned their brother still, but their wounds slowly healed and returned to their games, all but Adatel. Thranduil's oldest son lost interest in most of his sibling's games and the games of his friends and only worked on his weapon wielding skills.

Thranduil watched from the balcony as his eldest worked on several targets at once. He heard his wife come up behind him and gently wrap her arms around him.

"He worries me, meleth nin; and yet, I know how guilty he feels. We all share that same hole in our hearts..." Thranduil closed his eyes and turned his head slightly away.

"Then, perhaps it is time we fill that hole, or at least try and bring comfort to our lives again." Thranduil looked at his wife and frowned worriedly.

"Do you think you can wait another age to leave the shores of Middle Earth? I do not want you to be harmed, my love..." Thranduil could barely get another word out before she kissed him deeply.

"Thranduil, I want another child with you; and it will help everyone in this family. The Gray Havens can wait for another life to be born and raised on Middle Earth. Please, meleth nin." Thranduil was embraced gently by his wife and dear friend and he returned it. His words went unspoken and unneeded. That night another life began in Mirkwood, and the seventh child of Thranduil, King of Mirkwood was conceived.