Title: What is Expected of Stars
Disclaimer: I'm a woman in my mid-twenties - I don't even look like J.R.R. Tolkien or Peter Jackson, who actually own The Lord of the Rings. Don't sue me; the only thing you'll get are my enormous student loan debts and I'll happily turn those over to whoever wants to pay them.
Summary: A supplement to What is Meant to Be, What Love Brought Into Being, and What Dreams Can Tell Us. This is about Legolas' childhood, how he came to be known as the Sun Star, and how he and his father dealt with it (a crappy summary, I know, but to the point).
Warnings: While it's not prevalent here, the entire series is SLASH. Some might also interpret some creepy undertones between the messengers and Legolas, but let me assure you that the way they feel about him is entirely chaste. There is also one POSSIBLY OBJECTIONAL WORD.
Author's Notes: As I mentioned before, this is a supplement to a series I've written. Since this story takes place before the action in the other stories you'll probably be fine if you read this without reading those (though I always welcome new readers to all of my stories). I'm terrible at gauging this type of thing, though, so be warned.
Author's Notes, Part Two: This was meant to be a one-shot, but it got too long; now it's a two-parter. I'll get the second half out in a week (possibly sooner).
Reviews: I welcome praise and constructive criticism; I will not, however, beg for those reviews or withhold the conclusion until I get a certain number of them. I appreciate those who take the time to read my story and review. I do not appreciate those who flame. If you find you don't like my story, please do us both a favor and hit the back button whenever you realize this. All that happens when you flame is I take a second to ponder how pathetic you are if the only way you can feel important is to insult strangers, another second to roll my eyes, and then I delete it from my e-mail. If it's within my power, I also remove the flame from my story's review history the next time I go to Just save the two of us some time and don't bother.
Now I present…the story!
It was only the middle of the morning and already Legolas Greenleaf was having a spectacular day. 'It's about time, too,' he thought resolutely as he dashed into his father's cavern palace one excellent morning. 'It's been downright awful around here for so long.'
That wasn't exactly a fair evaluation; one would think that the prince of Mirkwood had been enduring plagues, famine, and sieges for months on end instead just having to put up with a slightly more distracted father for the last week or so. For Legolas, however, not having Thranduil's undivided attention at least a couple of times a day was not only unusual, it was miserable. The king had been sufficiently distracted with the coming of two messengers from Rivendell – enough so that he'd even allowed their special times together to be constantly (in the eyes of the young elfling) interrupted. Legolas scoffed under his breath; what could be so special about a couple of strangers? If something terrible was happening or about to happen, wouldn't Lord Elrond or even Mithrandir come themselves? The twins, Elladan and Elrohir, weren't even tagging along with the messengers, making the entire situation even more inexcusable to the elfling.
That morning, though, had been more like the ones that had come before Thranduil got so busy with the messenger nonsense. He'd requested that the cook make Legolas' absolute favorite breakfast, complete with some watermelon from storage even though it was out of season and therefore a very precious commodity. This had made the princeling a little nervous and he feared that his ada was just doing this to make up for the fact that he wouldn't be able to see him at all that day. The fear proved unfounded; not only had Thranduil joined him but he'd also made it clear that no one was supposed to disturb them unless an army of orcs, spiders, or the Enemy himself was attacking the realm. The time had been spent most pleasantly with father and son catching up on all that had been happening in each other's lives. Thranduil had even congratulated Legolas on the distance he'd gotten when he spit his watermelon seeds instead of scolding him.
Breakfast had been easily enough to make it the best day he'd ever have in his whole life (or so Legolas believed; he couldn't imagine how anything else could even compare with it), but it kept getting better and better over the course of the morning. After bidding his father goodbye Legolas had gone outside and had been pleased to find that the weather was just perfect for his archery lesson. Then at his lesson – one of his favorite parts of any day – he'd not only hit one of the most difficult bull's-eyes on the field but also all of his bulls-eyes. His tutor had called it "astounding," which was more praise than most of his pupils got during their whole trainings. He'd felt it necessary to warn the prince not to get too 'cocky' – a word that that the elf had assumed that Legolas was familiar with – but then said that if Legolas continued to perform and improve at his current rate he would probably become one of the finest archers in the history of Mirkwood. This news excited the elfling to no end; since he was going to be the best warrior that Middle-earth had ever seen and being the best archer in Mirkwood would undoubtedly help him along to that goal.
Then had come a short break, followed by his sword-fighting lesson. Now this was usually where the day went downhill; Legolas considered that particular weapon to be too bulky and clumsy, unlike the beautiful white knives that he could twirl so easily despite his instructor's terrified insistence that he shouldn't do that, and not as efficient as his glorious arrows. It had been particularly difficult to concentrate that morning since he was still basking in the glow of the news that he was going to be the best archer ever. After several minutes of trying to get his pupil to stand still long enough to listen to instructions, the hapless elf had admitted defeat and excused the young princeling for the rest of the lesson. He'd said something about making up the time at their next session but both teacher and student had known that it was an empty promise – the poor instructor could barely handle a bored Legolas for the normal amount of time as it was.
The early dismissal had given Legolas the unexpected but certainly not unwelcome opportunity to go swimming and he gladly took it. In fact, he'd been so excited that he'd omitted going back to his chambers to get proper swimming attire or just stripping down to nothing and instead had run into the pleasantly cool water of a nearby river fully clothed. As he dove underwater for the umpteenth time to look for some shiny rocks that might make his father happy, he got to thinking about Thranduil and how his day might be going. They'd both had a wonderful breakfast, but Legolas had gotten to go outside and do archery and swim while his poor ada had to stay inside with two boring messengers from Rivendell who weren't the twins. At that moment the elf prince decided to go and fetch his father; after all, he was the king – why shouldn't he be able to go swimming in the middle of the day with his son if he wanted to?
That was the reason why Legolas was racing through the corridors of the palace, following the familiar path to his father's closed study door, when a voice that came out of nowhere startled him more than pride would ever allow him to admit. "Prince Legolas!" scolded Galion, the king's butler.
"What?" asked Legolas impatiently and not at all politely. He really didn't want to speak to Galion right now. Knowing the butler's stuffy nature, he was probably planning on telling him that his ada was very busy at the moment and it wouldn't be a good idea to interrupt him now. Galion wasn't the type of elf who knew how important having fun was. "I don't care about how important this secret message is supposed to be, or about secret meetings, or any of it! If any of this was so important, why isn't Lord Elrond here – can you explain that? No, Galion; all of this silliness has gone on long enough. My ada needs to have some fun in his life again and I'm going in there to make sure that he gets it!"
"You are dripping water everywhere," Galion informed him in a tone that might have been cold if it weren't for the touch of amusement in it. Secretly he shared the prince's point-of-view concerning the vitality of the message and the toll worrying about it had taken on the king but none of that changed the fact that the corridor had been mopped recently and now would need it again.
Oops. Legolas glanced down at the puddle around his feet and then down the path he'd just taken. Sure enough, there was a small stream that would have led back to the grass outside had anyone cared to follow it. "I'm sorry," apologized the elfling sheepishly. "I didn't mean to – you know I didn't mean to."
"You didn't decide to just jump in some water before coming in here, did you?" asked the butler in a long-suffering tone that made it clear that he wouldn't put such an act past the rambunctious prince.
"No," answered Legolas defensively before the memory of where he had come from made him look down and dig one toe into the floor. "I mean I guess I did, but not like that. It's just that I got to go swimming and I didn't have a towel or a blanket or anything with me."
"And it was impossible for you to return to the palace to retrieve any of these items?" pressed Galion doubtfully, cocking one eyebrow. "How did you find the time to go swimming and attend both your archery lesson and your sword lesson?"
"I didn't have to stay at my sword lesson the entire time," replied Legolas in a very important voice. "I was so good at my archery lesson – just ask! – that my sword instructor decided that I didn't need to learn anything more today."
Galion had the sneaking suspicion that the prince's reaction to his splendid archery lesson was more the reason why his sword instructor gave up the good fight for today. He shuddered inwardly, not envying that poor elf's task at all. Still, he decided to let that part be in; there seemed to be something more pertinent to address. "So you decided to use your free time to go swimming," he noted.
Legolas nodded happily and Galion narrowed his eyes. "Alone?"
The elfling was wishing that that he'd never run into Galion now more than ever. Not only was the butler going to get him into trouble but he was also really sucking all of the enjoyment out of his day! "Yes," admitted Legolas begrudgingly. "But nothing happened –"
"This time," interrupted Galion sternly. "Your highness, you are getting older; too old, I must say, to make such foolish decisions and then try to excuse your inappropriate behavior. You know as well as I do that you are not permitted to go swimming without an adult or a responsible near-adult present. I am not going to stop you from seeing your father; quite the contrary, I think you should go in right now and tell him what you did."
Legolas scowled momentarily; then an idea popped into his head. He flashed Galion his most innocent smile. "Is now really a good time?" he asked sweetly. "Those messengers did come all this way and he's got so many important things to do –"
"I'm sure he's bored witless by now and would welcome an interruption, especially from you," Galion told him in a voice that was light but left no room for protests. "Go on, my prince."
As the messengers concluded their tale, Thranduil just stared at them in an emotionless way that made those who were unused to his presence extremely unnerved. "That is it?" he questioned, not bothering to hide his displeasure. "That was the vital message that had to remain a secret, the reason why I have been neglecting my child and my kingdom for a week? Now I understand why Elrond was reluctant to give me any information before you two arrived – I would not have granted you an audience for this."
The messengers winced at the extra disgust that the king added to the last word. "Lord Elrond was not trying to deceive you in any way," promised one of them in what he thought was a calm voice. "The entire situation, as I'm sure you can tell, is growing quite bleak. My lord fears for the future; he is terribly concerned."
"I have no doubt in my mind that he is," replied the elven king blithely. "I do not understand, however, why he felt the need to share all of his concerns with me. The line of Isildur and its survival is his pet project, not mine."
"This is not only about that bloodline!" protested the second messenger. "The future of Middle-earth is at stake. Whatever you may feel about the race of Men you cannot deny that their waning strength and growing fractures affects us all."
"Do not presume to know how I feel about Men," said Thranduil harshly. He'd long ago come to resent how most outsiders (and some of his own people) assumed that he blindly hated all Men just because he, unlike Elrond, was smart enough to keep them at arm's length. "And I do deny that their actions – or lack thereof, as the case appears to be – will have any impact on my realm. The last time the weakness of Men had any influence on life in Mirkwood was when Isildur made the sacrifice of my father and the majority of our forces vain."
The second messenger clenched his knuckles nervously. "One moment of weakness –"
"I can forgive one moment of weakness as long as the person is able to what needs to be done when it counts," countered Thranduil immediately before he had to hear yet another person excuse the inexcusable. "No; you can tell you lord that I do not care about any crisis that those of that particular line has faced, is facing, or will face in the future. Their trials will never have anything to do with me, my son, or my kingdom."
"Lord Elrond truly believes that all of the races of Middle-earth must look beyond the grievances of the past and unite against the hidden Shadow before the Enemy grows in power again," the first messenger informed him.
"I might be inclined to think that way as well if I had a ring of power at my disposal to defend my realm," said Thranduil. The messengers winced again, this time at his bluntness, but at the moment the king of Mirkwood was too annoyed to care that he was speaking about things that should never be mentioned aloud. How dare they enjoy the hospitality of his kingdom, waste his time on such a frivolous matter, and then talk down to him as if he were an insolent child when he rightly refused to offer Elrond any assistance in aiding the line of Isildur during their latest but obviously not last calamity? "But since I do not have the same luxury I must put all of my energies in defending my people and not worrying about a line that has long ago lost all of its honor."
The finality in his voice left no room for more arguments or reasoning but plenty for an uncomfortably long, awkward silence. All three were relieved to have it interrupted by a knock at the door. "Enter," Thranduil ordered as the messengers let out a loud simultaneous breath.
The door creaked open hesitantly, as if the person on the other side didn't want to be coming in at all. Thranduil was just about to order whoever it was to hurry if he or she intended to see the king when a sopping wet Legolas came in, sprinting to his father without sparing a glance for the guests. "Hi, Ada," greeted the elfling, jumping up onto Thranduil's lap and wrapping his arms around his neck.
"Greetings, ion nin," replied Thranduil. He was a little surprised at his son's sudden entrance – Galion usually kept everyone away when the king was conducting business, a matter that Thranduil had spoken to him about in the past when he grew worried that Legolas might think that he was rejecting him in some way. Of course, Legolas' current appearance wasn't helping him figure the situation out. "You are wet – as am I."
"Oops," said Legolas in a voice that was too bright for it to have been a total accident. "I'm sorry, Ada. I'll just come back later when we're both dry."
"That will not be necessary," the king told him suspiciously. Truth be told, this wasn't the first time that Thranduil's garments had ended up in a less-than-presentable state after being in Legolas' presence. However, in every other time his son had expressed bewilderment that he had to worry about such things at all and disappointment when Thranduil made them both clean up.
The fact that Legolas was backing down so quickly and easily might have been a mystery had it not been for Thranduil's fatherly instincts: the prince had done something wrong. Something so terrible, apparently, that Galion had thought it more important to send him in immediately to his father's punishment than to make him wait until the meeting was officially over. "I think you should tell me how you came to be in such a state, my Little Greenleaf," he urged.
"Well," Legolas bit his lower lip, desperately hoping for some inspiring excuse to delay the inevitable. "I had fun at breakfast, Ada. I miss you when you get too busy to spend time with me."
"I feel the exact same way," Thranduil assured him. He resisted throwing a withering glare at the messengers – Legolas needed his undivided attention at the moment. "Is that the reason why you are so wet?"
"No," said Legolas. "I just wanted to tell you about my day. It was a really, really good one. I went to my archery lesson after breakfast; and I hit the hardest of all the bulls-eyes. I'm going to be the best archer in all of Mirkwood, Ada – aren't you proud of me?"
"Of course I am, my Little Greenleaf," Thranduil assured him even though the idea of Legolas actually becoming an official archer and fighting in real battles made him sick to his stomach. "But I do not need an excuse to feel that way: I am always proud to be your father."
Legolas leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "I love you, Ada," he said sweetly. "I did so good at archery that I didn't even have to stay at my silly sword lessons." That wasn't entirely truthful, but the princeling figured that lying once over a minuet detail wouldn't be so terrible.
Thranduil reminded himself to give that unfortunate sword instructor a raise. "Legolas," he said, "please answer my question."
"It's nothing, really," insisted Legolas. "I got to go swimming because I had so much free time."
"That explains the water," Thranduil chuckled at how much Legolas took after him. Then he realized just what his son must have done wrong. "I hope you found an adult to accompany you."
The prince meekly shook his head. "Legolas Thranduilion!" the older elf exploded.
"I'm sorry!" cried Legolas. He hated making his father unhappy! "I won't do it again, Ada – I promise!"
"No, you will not do it again or anything else like it," agreed Thranduil. "And to make sure of it, someone will watch over you wherever you go until I feel that you have demonstrated enough maturity that I can trust you again."
The elfling's face crumpled. Thranduil felt a twinge of guilt for making his beloved son so miserable but knew it was better that he was a little unhappy now and learn his lesson than to keep him happy no matter what and have him pay a steeper penalty later. "I am not doing this to be mean or because I enjoy it, Little Greenleaf," the king said as tears threatened to fall from Legolas' eyes. "You cannot do things like that. Do you not understand that my grief would kill me if I lost you? You are my life, Legolas."
"I'm sorry, Ada," sobbed Legolas, valiantly holding back the tears. He squeezed his father around the neck once more. "I never want to make you sad. I'll be a good boy from now on and forever."
"I am sure that you will," Thranduil told him lovingly, "to the best of your abilities, at any rate."
He embraced his son, rocking him back and forth a little, when something unusual caught his eye. The two messengers from Rivendell were staring – goggling, even – at them. "Yes, what is it?" asked Thranduil irritably. If there was one thing he disliked above anything else, it was having his time with Legolas disturbed, and this time it wasn't even for anything important. Really, was the sight of a father and son hugging so fascinating that it warranted such unfailing attention? He found it difficult to believe that Elrond had never behaved in a similar manner; and surely those mischievous twins had gotten into the same sort of trouble before!
"I – I apologize," stammered the second messenger while the first one continued to stare with his mouth agape. "I just never – he – who is this?"
"This is my son, Prince Legolas Thranduilion of Mirkwood," answered Thranduil slowly, not sure if he wanted to tell them when they were behaving so oddly. The elfling snuggled closer to his ada and peered suspiciously at the two strangers.
"He's…beautiful," breathed the first, finding his voice at last.
"Thank you," said Thranduil as he twitched a bit. Their borderline arrogant behavior earlier was becoming more and more preferable to this absurd fit. Having to subject Legolas to it made it all the more intolerable.
The elven king sucked in a breath and tightened his hold on his son when the obviously insane messengers fell to their knees in front of them. "You don't understand, sire," said the second, sounding dazed. "All elves are beautiful in their own right, but the prince…. I've seen portraits of the maid Luthien and I can say without hesitation that Prince Legolas is just as stunning as she was."
"Except that her beauty reflected the glory of the evening while Prince Legolas is made of all that makes the morning lovely," added the first. He reached out and stroked the silken but soggy hair on one side of the elfling's head, apparently unaware of Legolas' disgustedly confused stare and the alarming way that Thranduil continued to tense. "Indeed, the glory of the sun's light has been captured in his hair, and his eyes are as blue as the clearest sky. It is truly a privilege to look upon you, most exquisite Prince Legolas."
Then he took one of Legolas' hands and kissed it.
Legolas turned his face toward the hand that was still stroking his hair and promptly bit it. "He kissed me like I was some girl!" he shrieked to his father, incredulous and clearly insulted, as the messenger jumped back with a yelp. "And the other one said that I was like a picture of Luthien. I'm going to be the best warrior that Mirkwood has ever had, not some girl in a picture. They called me a girl, Ada!"
Thranduil leapt to his feet with his furious child still in his arms and didn't feel the least bit sorry when the two messengers were knocked backwards by the sudden movement. "I do not know what is considered to be appropriate in Rivendell," he seethed, "but in my realm it is not permitted for virtual strangers to touch and kiss an elfling without the permission of said elfling and their parents! You two are a disgrace to your lord and he will be hearing about this damnable behavior. Galion!"
The door opened almost immediately and the butler stuck his head inside. "Did – did Prince Legolas tell you what he did?" he asked uncertainly as he surveyed the strange scene before him.
"Yes, because he is a good boy," snapped Thranduil. He struggled to compose himself when he saw the taken aback expression on the loyal Galion's face. "I apologize; and thank you for having Legolas confess to me about the swimming. You are not the reason why I am so enraged. Those two" – he gestured with his head at the two ninnies on the floor who didn't have the good sense to stop staring at his son – "have delivered their lord's unimportant message and have my reply. They have also upset the prince and angered me. See to it that they leave Mirkwood as soon as they can be made ready – we no longer welcome their presence."
The king gave them one last fierce look before turning and stomping out of the room. Still the messengers were undeterred – not even Legolas scowling and sticking his tongue out at them as his father carried him away discouraged their awed stares or marred his beauty in their minds. That didn't matter to Thranduil at the time being; Mirkwood guards would see to it that they would leave them alone. All he had to worry about was getting to Legolas' bedchamber, where sanctuary and dry clothing awaited the elfling.
"I still can't believe that they called me a girl," huffed Legolas indignantly on the way. "And all that stuff about sunlight and the sky – what a bunch of hooey!"
Thranduil remained silent. While he found both of their behavior deplorable, he couldn't argue with the Rivendell messenger's descriptions of his son's looks. Perhaps he and the people of Mirkwood were more used to his striking beauty than outsiders who hadn't seen him grow up – not that any of that excused them.
"I didn't like them, Ada," Legolas continued to complain. "Why couldn't Elladan and Elrohir have come instead of two?"
"I would have preferred the twins' company as well," said Thranduil, though the mere mention of the last time that the sons of Elrond visited sill made Galion break out in nervous laughter before crying. "But do not think about those messengers anymore, my Little Greenleaf; they will be gone before the day is over and the two of us will be able to get back to our normal lives."
To be concluded…