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Chapter 25 ~ Epilogue
Thranduil kept a firm, steadying arm around Legolas as well as keeping a thick, warm cloak tightly wrapped around his young son. It wasn't particularly cold outside at the moment but the king wanted his son well protected from any further discomfort or harm, a difficult – almost impossible - task considering the dire task that lay ahead of them that morning.
It had only been a week since Legolas had collapsed and the cure had been administered to all the people of Mirkwood. It had taken a while, especially to reach all the villages around the forest but everyone had been given the vital medicine that would save their lives.
This morning was the first time that the King had addressed his people since this crisis started and almost the entire kingdom – or what remained of it at least - had turned out to hear what Thranduil had to say. People, still recovering from the disease, had dragged themselves from their warm beds to listen to their ruler's words, each one of them eager to hear what he had to say. As impressed as they were by their Prince's leadership in a crisis they still loved their King even more and needed his reassurance more than anything.
The prince had also insisted he be there to face his people. Despite having been present during the plague he hadn't actually had a lot of contact with the majority of his people. Now he felt the need to face them, find out how they were recovering.
Elrond had at first forbidden it; telling the exhausted prince that he still needed some much deserved rest. He had argued with the younger Elf that he was still too unwell to get out of bed, much less go outside into the cold air. Legolas had been stubbornly insistent, telling his healer and his father that should he be denied the opportunity he would sneak out of the healing halls and make his own way to the palace balcony. Given the alternative Elrond and Thranduil had reluctantly agreed under the strict condition that he keep warm and should he get too tired he would let someone know immediately.
His friends had also been invited by the king to be given special mention for their efforts during the plague. The only one not attending was Frodo, whom Elrond had informed them was too sick to be outside. He was far more vulnerable than the Elves and so was currently tucked up in bed with Sam at his side for company.
Legolas walked slowly alongside his father up to the balcony. Truthfully, he was already tired from the short walk from his rooms to the balcony from which Thranduil made all his public announcements. Not that he would tell Thranduil or Elrond that. Unfortunately, the healer had probably already noticed his fatigue but he held his tongue for the time being.
Thranduil held on tightly to his son's arm – although Legolas suspected it was as much for his own support as his son's. The King still suffered from his own illness despite the fact he did his best to hide it from his son. Legolas was seldom fooled by his father's false assurances.
They reached the balcony and found Aragorn, Gimli, Gandalf and two of the Hobbits already waiting for them.
"Estel," Thranduil greeted with a strange smile as he helped his son up the last step.
"King Thranduil. Legolas," Aragorn smiled warmly at his friend and Legolas returned it weakly.
"Estel, can you please fetch my son a warm blanket?" Thranduil asked abruptly when he felt the prince shivering slightly.
"I'm fine, Ada, I don't need a blanket," Legolas insisted with a disturbingly weak voice.
"You're cold," the king insisted.
Before Thranduil could speak again Elrond intervened, knowing they were just as stubborn as each other and the argument could go on for a while if not stopped. "Thranduil, I'm sure if Legolas gets too cold he will inform us. That was the agreement, after all, was it not, Legolas?"
"Yes, Elrond," Legolas smiled even as he pulled his cloak tighter around him.
A servant approached them, himself wrapped up warmly, and bowed stiffly to his king. "My Lord, the people are ready and waiting."
"Good, thank you," Thranduil said, turning back to his son. "Are you sure you're feeling up to this. You can go back to your rooms if you wish."
"Ada, I want to be here," Legolas insisted for the third time that morning.
"Alright. How do I look?" he then asked, smoothing out his fine robes.
Truthfully, the King looked pale and ruffled. His robes had not been properly readied for him as usual because of the lack of staff. So many of them had been affected that few were capable of coming to work and those that did brave it lacked the energy to do too much and were mostly kept on keeping the essentials going. And that didn't include making the King look presentable.
"You look fine, mellon nin," Elrond answered with a smile. He doubted very much that people would really care what Thranduil looked like. Legolas had already informed them that he had also been affected by the disease so they would understand his appearance.
Taking a deep breath, Thranduil released his son's arm. Legolas swayed slightly on his feet but was immediately steadied by both Elrond and Aragorn, who discreetly asked if he was alright. He just nodded and turned his attention to his father, who boldly approached the edge of the balcony.
Predictably, his appearance was greeted with a loud cheer from his people. They always knew that in times of great peril Thranduil would be there for them, to help them through it and they trusted him.
A small smile crossed Legolas' face at the sound. It was good to hear his people mildly happy again and for Thranduil to be in control. His kingdom didn't seem nearly as intimidating now someone else was running it. Elrond also smiled across at him and pulled him into a brief hug.
After a moment of cheers and clapping, Thranduil raised his hand and almost immediately the noise calmed and everyone was concentrating on their Lord as he began to speak.
"These past weeks have been some of the hardest we have ever been faced with and all of you have suffered immensely at the hands of this disease. But the dark times are now beginning to clear and we can start to begin to rebuild our lives and our kingdom." Everyone was listening intently to the King's every word. "You fought through this and have come out the other side. I know how much you have suffered and that there is still a long way to go. We have yet to build our land back to its previous glory and we still mourn the loss of our loved ones." He paused here as he remembered the death of his own son and everyone in the crowd also became lost in memories for a moment. "However, we are strong and we can work through the repercussions of this terrible plague. I have faith in each and every one of you and I am proud of how you have handled this.
"However, it was not me who pulled you through the worst of those times, but my son." Legolas glanced up at his father, who looked around at his son. "Prince Legolas fought against all odds to bring our people as safely as possible through this terrible time. With complete disregard for his own well-being, Prince Legolas - aided by Lord Elrond of Rivendell; Elessar, High King of Gondor and Gimli, son of Gloin - solved this dreadful problem, thus preventing further loss of life. It cannot have been easy after the demise of Prince Rumil," Thranduil's voice cracked slightly at this but he continued. "And because of his bravery we all owe Legolas our lives and I hope that none of us ever forget that fact."
The crowd suddenly burst into applause again, cheering in agreement at what had just been said. Thranduil turned around and gently took his son's arm, taking some of his weight, disentangling him from Aragorn and Elrond and leading him forward to meet his cheering public. They clapped as he shyly stepped forward, smiling nervously down at his people. He didn't have the strength to say anything just yet, not to mention the fact that he had never really had to speak publically before.
Ada – Dad
Mellon nin – My friend
A/N: Ok, that's it, folks. It's all over. Finished. Complete.
Thanks so much to everyone who's reviewed this fic, I appreciate it so much. You've all been great and I hope very much that you've enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
There is a sequel coming very soon – as soon as I get around to copying it onto my computer – but I do have to warn you: it is very different. It is called 'The Aftermath' and it revolves almost entirely around Mirkwood's recovery from the plague (with one or two little twists along the way, of course). It also will involve a romantic relationship between Legolas and Glorfindel. I know it veers off the established plot but I assure you it is not a slash story, it's a comfort story so don't worry about that. If you don't like that kind of thing then please don't read it and make yourselves uncomfortable, I think this chapter rounds off the story quite well anyway and the rest is just a kind of extremely extended epilogue. If that kind of thing doesn't bother you then please, please check it out and let me know what you think of it.
Again, I really appreciate all your support so…
Thank you all for reading and thank you if you left a review.
See you soon.