Title: Bonds of Family

Author: Andolin

Rating: T

Summary: Legolas and his younger brother are captured by orcs in an attempt to takeover Mirkwood, and it is up to Aragorn to rescue them. Meanwhile, Thranduil must salvage his relationship with Legolas.

Disclaimer: I do not own any recognizable features of from the Lord of the Rings, they all belong to Tolkien.

Pertinent Information: Tolkien never really says anything about Legolas's family, so in this story, Legolas has a younger brother, Telmir. I explain how I present their family in this chapter, but if you feel that I have left anything important out or any questions unanswered, please let me know. Also, I assume (like many other authors) that Elrond raised Aragorn as a son and that Aragorn would view Elladan and Elrohir as his brothers.

Author's Note: Well, this is the last chapter! I am sorry that it took so long to post. I know that there is no good excuse, but last week I had finals and I moved on Thursday. Since I have been home, my internet access has been severely limited and it has been crazy trying to get unpacked and caught up with everyone here. Sorry again!

On another subject, THANK YOU to everyone who has reviewed! You are all amazing and very much appreciated. I hope that all of you enjoy the last chapter of Bonds of Family. I tried to make everything as believable and plausible as possible, and I think that I succeeded, but we shall see soon enough. Enjoy!


Chapter 8: Healing Hearts

Thranduil related the events that had transpired in Mirkwood in detail. He explained how Estel had overheard the orcs and then returned to Mirkwood. He told about how, together, that had deduced what was actually happening. After Estel had left, he had prepared the Mirkwood army for an attack. Thranduil himself had led a sizable contingent south, making it appear as though the elves had been fooled. This successfully tricked the orcs, who attacked, but then Thranduil's group doubled back and counterattacked the orcs from behind. Caught between a fortified and prepared city and the king's troops, the orcs had not stood a chance. The battle went well for Mirkwood, and was a major setback for the dark creatures of the forest.

At the conclusion of Thranduil's account, Elrond nodded, pleased. "That is well," he said.

"Aye it is," Thranduil's expression became grim, "Forgive me for changing the subject, but I wonder what you know of my sons' captivity and escape. How did Telmir manage to return unharmed?"

"I know few details; Legolas or Estel could tell you more. Legolas was poisoned before they were captured; if he had not escaped when he did, he likely would have died. It is amazing that he continued exerting himself as long as he did."

"Exerting himself?"

"From what I understand, Legolas provoked the orcs into attacking him so that they would pay no attention to Telmir. He was in bad shape when he arrived, Thranduil. The poisoned arrow would have been bad enough on its own, but he was beaten severely and frequently as well."

Thranduil closed his eyes, "He should have been more careful. They should never have even been in the woods together."

Elrond glanced at him, confused.

Thranduil explained, "They rode out with Estel to the edge of the forest. They were ambushed on their return. Telmir does not have permission to leave the palace grounds let alone the city without my consent. Legolas knows this. And even if he did not; he should have been more attentive to the situation. It was utterly foolish of him to take Telmir out there without a guard. Our home is not secure anymore and Legolas knows this, and yet he took his unarmed and untrained brother out there alone. Thranduil sighed, "That is what I meant. None of this should have happened. But, if you will excuse me, I would like to have a word with my son."

Elrond seemed surprised, "Thranduil, did you not hear what I told you. Surely you're not angry with him?"

"Wouldn't you be? He led them both of Mirkwood's princes into danger! It would have been disastrous for Mirkwood if they had died! I don't even want to think about what could have happened."

"Thranduil, you still have both of your sons. One of them is just fine and the other very nearly died to make that happen. I do not mean to intrude upon your parenting, but perhaps instead of scolding Legolas, you should thank him."

"Yes! I'll thank him for putting both himself and his brother in danger, shall I? I'm not just his father, I am his king!"

"That's all that you ever are! He doesn't need a king, Thranduil! He would serve Mirkwood to his death with no encouragement at all; he needs a father! When was the last time you really looked at him? He runs himself into the ground leading patrols and fighting the evil that taints your home. He puts everyone in that kingdom before himself, as he should. But you seem to forget that he is more than just your captain. He is your son."

Thranduil took a step back in surprise at the audacity of Elrond's words. He opened his mouth to speak, but said nothing.

Elrond looked down, "I am sorry. Not about what I said, I meant every word of it, but I am sorry for the way that I said it."

"You have no right to speak to me like that," Thranduil replied, still in shock.

"Perhaps not, but someone needed to do it."

Thranduil looked away, "Perhaps."

Silence reigned in Elrond's study for several minutes. Finally, Thranduil nodded. "It's hard sometimes. Mirkwood is not a safe place, and it is not getting any better. I end up frustrated and angry and he's there. I take it out on him. It is never his fault."

"My friend, it is not hard sometimes, it is hard all the time. I know that, and so does Legolas. He will forgive you if you ask it of him; you raised him well."

Thranduil choked back a laugh, "His mother raised him well till her death and he finished the job. I had nothing to do with that."

"Of course you did, you are his father. The two of you are too alike for your own good. Talk to him; he will understand if you just give him the chance."

Thranduil sighed and moved towards the door. "Perhaps I will," he paused, "Thank you, Elrond."

Elrond smiled, "Anytime."

o-o-o-o

Legolas was sitting on the balcony railing with one leg dangling over the side and the other pulled up to his chest. In spite of the precariousness of his position, he was quite comfortable, and half asleep. He was aware of someone entering his room, but assuming it was Aragorn or one of the twins, he chose not to get up. They would likely try to make him go back to bed, which was the last thing he wanted to do.

Thranduil was not surprised to find the bed empty and walked right out to the balcony.

"Legolas," he said, "you should be resting."

Upon hearing his father, Legolas quickly stood up for his perch, too quickly. Still far from fully healed, he wobbled slightly on his feet before quickly regaining his composure, "Adar, I have not been up long. I just—"

Thranduil waved away Legolas' explanation, "Legolas, it does not matter. We need to talk."

Legolas sighed. He had known that this was coming, but he had been hoping to avoid it. He did not want to hear about how disappointed his father was.

"Legolas," Thranduil said softly, "I'm sorry."

"What?" Legolas questioned, surprised. He rarely knew what to say to his father or what to expect from him, but he certainly had not expected an apology, "For what, Adar? It was I who led Telmir into danger."

"No, you thought that he had permission, and you had no reason to doubt his word. It was not your fault, not this, not any of it."

Legolas tried to interrupt, but Thranduil cut him off, "No, please, just listen."

Legolas nodded and Thranduil continued, "I have always demanded too much from you. I just wanted what was best for you, but I pushed you too hard. Had I ever stopped to look, I would have seen that you had more than enough drive of your own. You are a fine warrior Legolas, the best that I have ever seen. You are a fair and trusted leader; all of Mirkwood follows you faithfully and willingly. I could not have asked for a better son; I am proud of you, Legolas. I only regret that I didn't tell you this sooner."

Legolas' eyes were wide; he could not recall ever hearing his father ay that he was proud of him, not even when his mother had been alive.

Thranduil took a deep breath, "Please forgive me, my son."

"U-moe edhored, adar. There is nothing to forgive, father," Legolas replied.

"But there is. Legolas, I was reckless. I was reckless with one of the most important things in my life: your life. You would come home from a patrol injured and weary, and I would send you out again. You protected the lives in your charge with unprecedented fierceness, and I have failed to return the favor.

"It is frustrating. I have lived in those woods for millenniums, and I have been entrusted with their care and protection, but I cannot stop the darkness that invades it. When your mother died, I very nearly followed her. I felt as though there was nothing that I could keep safe. I became angry over every failed patrol, every lost life, and I took that anger out on you because you are the captain of our armies, and you would report those to me. I will still be angry, Legolas, but not with you. I placed an unfair and impossible burden on your shoulders, and for that, I need your forgiveness."

"Of course I forgive you, father; I love you."

Thranduil pulled his son close to him, "I love you too, my son."

In spite of the tenderness of the moment, Thranduil did not miss Legolas' soft intake of breath when he touched his son's still healing back.

Thranduil then looked closely at his son. He was still too pale; he had always been slender, but now it was far more pronounced; his usually bright eyes were still dimmed by pain and fatigue. "You should rest; you do not yet look well."

"I think that I will sit out here for a while yet."

Thranduil smiled, "Alright, but not exert yourself too much. You are still healing."

Legolas nearly laughed, "You sound like Lord Elond."

"Well you should listen to at least one of us, then," Thranduil replied as he left.

Once his father was gone, Legolas stood up again and leapt nimbly into the tree that reached towards the balcony. Even in pain and injured, he was still graceful in the trees. He dropped lightly to the ground in the garden and walked slowly through the peaceful place, deep in thought.

He wondered if things would really change. He knew that his fathers apology was genuine, as was his forgiveness, but he could not help but wonder if Thranduil was capable of ruling or parenting any other way.

So deep in thought he was, that he did not even notice it when he walked right by Estel.

"Legolas! What are you doing out of bed?"

Legolas turned and smiled wryly, "Believe it or not, I have permission to be up."

"Really?" Aragorn asked, not looking entirely convinced, "Even if you do, do you have permission to be going for a walk? And how did you get here? Did you at least take the stairs?"

"Well…"

"That's a no. At least sit down," Estel said, sliding over on the bench.

Legolas accepted the invitation.

"I saw that your father arrived, has he been to see you yet?"

Legolas leaned back, "Yes."

"I did not hear any shouting," Estel attempted to joke.

"Actually, there was none. He apologized, Estel. I have never heard my father apologize to anyone."

"What did he apologize for?"

"Well, everything, I suppose. But I still wonder if anything will be different once I have healed and we are back in Mirkwood."

Estel considered that for a moment. "I think," he said slowly, "that your father is a great elf. I think that anyone as proud and stubborn as he is will do everything he can to change, if for no other reason than so he does not have to apologize again."

Legolas laughed, "Perhaps you know my father better than I give you credit for, mellon. I hope that you are right; I want so much for you to be right."

"Haven't you learned yet, I am always right."

"Ha! What about the time that you got us lost when returning to your own home? Or the time when you found us shelter in a cave already inhabited by wolves? Or the time that you tried to treat Elladan's minor wounds with an itchy weed and he ended scratching himself to an infection? Or the time—"

"I think you have made your point, elf! And for the record: we were not lost, merely taking a detour; the wolves were not in the cave when we arrived and we desperately needed shelter because someone was injured; and after I was done with the itchy weed, Elladan barely noticed the old wounds, so at least I took his mind of off those."

Legolas merely shook his head with a grin, "I will not be a participant in such an inane conversation. I will see you tomorrow."

"Good night, my friend."

"Good night, Aragorn," Legolas replied as he stood up and began to walk away.

"Oh, Legolas! Take the stairs back to your room; you do not need to climb trees to get around our house."

Legolas laughed and nodded.

His mind drifted back to his father again. Everything is going to be alright, he thought. Legolas knew that change would be difficult and would take time. Even the best of intentions could not erase centuries of strain instantly. Somehow though, Legolas knew that they would work it out. For the first time in a long time, he was hopeful about his relationship with his father.


Epilogue

Time passed. Wounds healed. Thranduil took Telmir back to Mirkwood one week after his arrival, needing to oversee the cleanup and repair from the battle. Before leaving, he gave Legolas permission to stay in Rivendell for as long as he wished. Legolas stayed for several months, far longer than he needed to completely heal and regain his full strength.

Legolas, Estel, and the twins enjoyed the peace and solitude of Rivendell together as only three such good friends and troublemakers could. Time passed swiftly, and all too soon winter was approaching. Soon, snow would block the high pass, and Legolas had duties to return to in Mirkwood. So, with promises to visit soon, he took his leave.

Upon his return to Mirkwood, Legolas resumed his obligations as both prince and captain. He and his father still disagreed with each other often, but they each had a new found respect for the other's actions and ideas. There was still shouting in the king's study, but there were also meals with laughter and significantly less tension in the palace. Both Legolas and Thranduil each made an effort to renew their relationship as father and son, and frequently they could be seen riding through the forest together.

Things were not perfect, and likely never would be, but Thranduil, Legolas, and Telmir were a family once more. Things were as they should be.

The end.


Whoa! It is finished! And it is time for my final plea: there are more people reading this than there are reviewing, but this is the last chapter…so, just this once if no other time for this story, please let me know what you think in the form of a review! For those of you who have reviewed, thank you so much again! Your comments were incredibly helpful and I just loved hearing from all of you!

Have a great summer! I'm thinking about writing another story, but (since I do not begin posting until the story is completely written) I do not know when or if it will be posted. Either way, thank you for reading this one!

Andolin