I'm really sorry for the delay! It's been almost a year and I can't believe it! - I've been to India and Germany, almost finished my AS's and so I can only promise to start updating a lot quicker! Thank you to anyone who's still reading/just joining on this chapter!
Baran couldn't sleep that night. He tossed and turned on his bed as if in the heat of summer, all his thought swirling around the elf that lay deathly still in his parent's room. His father had been angry, half afraid of the elf, and half at what the rest of the village would do if they found out he was sheltering it, but he had agreed the elf could stay at least the night, as he was clearly no danger in his weakened state.
Mari had fallen asleep next to him almost immediately; she was too young to understand that the elf might not awaken the next morning. But Baran lay there, hoping against hope that the elf would survive, and puzzling over why he had been left in the forest, alone, in such a condition. He had, of course, heard all the terrible tales of the cruelty of the elves, especially that of their treacherous king, who lived in a magic palace in the most deadly part of Mirkwood. But Baran could not believe that they would abandon one of their own to die, particularly one as important as this elf clearly was – with his richly embroidered clothes.
He also worried that his mother would not be able to save the elf. She was no healer and knew only the rudimentary basics required by any parent with small children. But she did have a reasonably good grasp of herb-lore, thanks to his late grandmother's teaching, so Baran believed there was still hope, as long as he held faith in, and trusted, her.
None of the elves in Thranduil's court slept well that night either, although whilst Baran had a glimpse of hope, their hearts held nothing but deepest sorrow. Most paced fitfully about the corridors, busying themselves with irrelevant tasks, or simply sat, stunned that only a short time before they had been members of a thriving court that, now they had lost the prince, was slowly but surely falling apart at the seams. All had thoughts of the farewell ceremony the next day weighing heavily upon their minds.
Indeed, in the king's chambers, only Estel slept, Thranduil had finally dropped his mask and was drowning his grief in many glasses of the potent wine he'd ordered Galion to leave on the table before dismissing him for the night. It had been obvious to the other occupants of the room that the king's butler had wanted, so desperately, to stay and to comfort his king on his loss, for truly they were more friends than servant and master, but Thranduil had seen none of the sorrow or longing in Galion's eyes, seeing only the wine and his own mourning.
The Peredhil's had remained, Elladan and Elrohir stood in separate corners, too wired to sit down or rest and unwilling to break the oppressive silence, whilst their father sat on the side of the bed, one hand carding gently through Estel's hair, whilst he gazed deep into the flames of the fire, as if they could provide some answer to this tragedy.
TCB... Please review if you have time!