A Balrog in the Closet
Disclaimer: The characters you recognize belong to Tolkien. Who you do not recognize belongs to me.
Summary: Oneshot. Balrog hunting, warm tea, and a misplaced book is not how Thranduil expected to spend his night. But when Legolas' true fear comes to light, he sees how the loss of a loved one has impacted both of them.
Characters: Thranduil and Legolas, features an OC
Author's Note: Just a cute Thranduil and little Legolas story with sadder undertones and another of my "underrated Elves" stories. Much love to the king of Mirkwood, lol! My OC character has been taken from another one of my stories, a short multichapter, in the works. Written with some help by "Let it Be" by the Beatles, though not a song fic. Enjoy, review, but no flames, please!
"For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer
Let it be..."
-The Beatles, "Let it Be"
Quiet footsteps were barely heard as a tiny figure made its way down the dark hallway. All the inhabitants of the palace of Mirkwood were asleep save this Elfling as he snuck toward a tall set of ornate double doors at the end of the hallway his wide, blue eyes were set on. Though he had been put to bed a couple hours before, his mind was much too occupied to allow him to rest.
As soon as he approached the doors, the Elfling stood on his toes to reach the handle before quietly pushing one open and stepping into the dark room. Turning only to close the door just as quietly behind him, he noiselessly crossed it and climbed onto the bed before crawling to its sleeping inhabitant. He hesitated only a moment before reaching a small hand out and setting it on the cheek of the golden-haired Elf.
"Ada," he whispered, raising his voice slightly when he didn't get the desired response. "Ada."
A moment passed before the blue eyes of King Thranduil cleared as he was roused from sleep, narrowing in confusion until they focused on the young face of his son. "Legolas?" he asked quietly, raising himself up on one arm. "What is it, ion-nín?"
Legolas moved a little closer to his father. "I cannot sleep, Ada," he answered.
Thranduil sighed quietly, rubbing his exhausted eyes. He had not been sleeping well over the past fortnight, ever since his wife had been killed when he and his family were ambushed when they were returning home from their visit in Imladris. The king had fought the onslaught off as best as he could while trying to protect his wife and son, but there had been too many. Their guards had been killed in the attack while he had been injured himself, and he had nearly been unable to get his son to safety by the time the patrol arrived. There had been a few times where he had nearly faded during his recovery, but each time, the small Elfling kneeling beside him now had kept him attached to this world since he had never left his side. Legolas, who had been just as affected by his mother's death, was young and still learning how to handle that terrible grief, and he assumed this late-night visit had something to do with that.
"Did you have a dark dream?" the king wondered, trying his best to remain patient with his son. He had an early morning the next day since he had to return to Rivendell to seek counsel with Lord Elrond, but it appeared he would not be getting much sleep that night either.
"No," Legolas told him with a slight shake of his head. "I... I think there may be something in my closet."
Thranduil opened his eyes to look at Legolas, seeing he was gazing back at him with wide blue orbs. "And what do you believe to be in your closet, penneth?"
"I know not, Ada," Legolas replied quietly, his eyes getting wider, if possible. "It could be that monster Glorfy told us about in his story!"
The king raised an eyebrow as a slight but amused smirk appeared at the corner of his lips. "A Balrog?" He remembered the twice-born Elf lord Glorfindel had told the children a toned-down version of his encounter with the ancient demon after dinner in the Hall of Fire when he, his wife, and Legolas had been in Imladris. Clearly, that was still on his son's mind.
Legolas nodded earnestly. "Aye, Ada!"
Thranduil sighed. "I do not believe there is anything in your closet you need to fret about, ion-nín," he told him as he laid back down on his pillow to attempt to get some more sleep. "Especially a Balrog." The creature was much too large to fit into such a small space, and the palace would have been burning if that was the case, but his son was too young to accept that logic.
Legolas took Thranduil's hand in his smaller ones and pulled on it lightly. Clearly, allowing his father to sleep was not his intent. "Could you look, Ada? Please?"
Knowing it would be senseless to argue with the determined Elfling, Thranduil slowly sat up on his bed with a yawn. Pleased that he had gotten his father's attention, Legolas jumped down to the floor while the king slowly rose to his feet and donned his robe. He took Thranduil's hand and led him out of his room into the dark hallway. His father simply allowed Legolas to pull him along, knowing that as soon as he confirmed there was no Balrog in his closet, he could attempt to get some rest before the early morning came.
When they got to his room, Legolas looked up at Thranduil with wide eyes once again when he set his hand on the door handle. "Careful, Ada," he warned in a whisper.
Thranduil smiled down at the Elfling. "I will be fine, ion-nín," he assured him quietly before he pushed open the door and stepped into the room. Legolas lingered behind in the doorway, sneaking a look inside as his father walked over to the door of his closet that was slightly ajar. Then, he flinched and closed his eyes when the king pulled the door open completely and entered the smaller room used for storage.
There was nothing but silence for what felt like a life age. Then...
"I have found your Balrog, penneth."
Legolas cautiously opened one eye just as Thranduil stepped back into the room. He gasped quietly and shrank back into the hallway, but then, he relaxed as he leaned into his room again when he saw what was in his father's arms.
It was one of his tunics and riding cloaks that he had yet to grow into, the sleeve and hood having given the appearance of the creature his active imagination made him believe he had seen.
Thranduil smiled as Legolas slowly entered the room to stand in front of him. "Nothing to fret over," he said as his young son reached forward and touched the tunic for himself. "I will fold this so you cannot see it."
Legolas watched as his father set the outfit on the chair near the window, beginning with folding the tunic neatly. Once he was finished folding the cloak as well, the king walked back into the closet and set them both on a high shelf before stepping out, shutting the door behind him for added precaution.
"Now," Thranduil continued, effortlessly scooping the small Legolas into his arms. "Time to sleep." He walked over to the bed and set his son down against his pillows, covering him with the blankets before he kissed his head. "Pleasant dreams, ion-nín."
The Elven king turned away from the bed and crossed the room. He stepped out into the dark hallway, just about to close the door behind him when he heard the young voice.
Sighing, Thranduil leaned back into his son's room. "Yes, Legolas?"
Legolas was sitting up on his bed, his eyes once again wide as he looked back at him. "I feel restless, Ada," he told him.
Thranduil slowly walked toward the bed. With the early morning he had looming ahead of him, he really didn't have time for this. "That is why you must sleep, ion-nín," he muttered, sitting next to the young prince as he set his hand lightly on his head. "You will feel better."
But Legolas quickly shook his head before he moved to sit on Thranduil's lap. "I'm not tired," he replied.
It was then the king realized that the incident with the alleged Balrog had probably wound up his son, and he inwardly groaned. Once Legolas was excited over something, it usually took quite some time to settle him down again due to his normal high energy.
Then, he remembered a trick his wife had always used when Legolas was unable to sleep, and Thranduil smiled slightly as he stood with his son in his arms. "I know just the thing, penneth."
Legolas watched from where he was sitting at the table in the dark kitchen as Thranduil finished heating a pot of tea over the fireplace. The king rose to his feet and moved to the counter, carefully pouring the warm contents into a mug. He then added a small touch of honey for flavor and stirred it in before he set the drink on the table in front of his son.
"Drink this, Legolas," he said, hoping it would work to calm him just as it had in the past.
The Elfling looked at it curiously before turning to Thranduil. "Is this what Naneth used to make for me?" he asked.
Thranduil looked at him sadly. "Aye, Legolas," he answered quietly. "It will make you feel better."
Legolas turned back to the mug and took a small, cautious sip of the hot tea, his short legs starting to swing back and forth on the high stool as he hummed quietly to himself. Thranduil, satisfied that he was going to drink it, went over to the counter and poured a glass of wine for himself, hoping to settle down for what he could feel was going to be a long night.
"What is that, Ada?" Legolas wondered, looking at the glass in his hand curiously.
Thranduil was brought out of his thoughts by the question, and he slowly turned to face the Elfling. "This will not appeal to you, penneth," he told him, having the feeling that giving his son a sip of the wine would not be a good idea. "Drink yours."
Legolas, appearing slightly disappointed, took another sip of his tea. Thranduil watched him for a minute, a small smile appearing on his face as the prince once again began to hum quietly as he looked around the dark kitchen. The king took a sip of his wine, but as he continued to watch his son, his smile slowly vanished when he couldn't help but notice that Legolas appeared to be drinking his warm tea slower than he normally would.
"Does your drink appeal to you, ion-nín?" he asked quietly.
"'Tis good, Ada," Legolas answered, taking a longer sip of the tea before giving him a broad smile. "Like when Naneth made it."
Thranduil sighed, but he forced a small smile on his face. "Good." He took another sip of his wine before he leaned on the counter and rubbed his tired eyes. He hoped Legolas finished his drink soon since he needed some sleep before he left early for Rivendell the next day.
As time passed, Legolas continued to visibly get calmer as he drank the warm tea. Thranduil was finishing his second glass of wine when he saw the Elfling's head was starting to droop. He set his empty glass down before approaching the table his son was sitting at, glancing into the mug and seeing there was only a little tea left at the bottom.
"Are you finished, Legolas?" he wondered with another small smile.
Legolas quickly rose his head to look at his father, startled by the sudden deep voice, before he took the mug in his small hands, drinking the last little bit. "Aye, Ada," he mumbled, rubbing his eyes.
Thranduil's smile broadened as he took the empty mug, picking up his glass to also be washed. Legolas watched the king as he rinsed them and clenched his jaw, determined not to let himself fall asleep.
However, he could not prevent his head from starting to droop again, and Legolas was hardly aware when Thranduil picked him up into his arms. "There, my little Greenleaf," the king said quietly when the Elfling laid his head on his shoulder as they left the kitchens. "Time to sleep."
Legolas could feel himself starting to fall into a light sleep at the gentle command, but he gasped quietly as he forced himself to raise his head from his father's shoulder as he walked down the dark hallway toward his room. Thranduil looked at him curiously.
"Are you all right, penneth?" he asked.
The Elfling nodded as he rubbed his tired eyes. "Aye." Then, Legolas' head perked up more when they rounded the corner. "Ada, could we stop at the library?"
Thranduil slowed to a stop, raising an eyebrow. He could tell Legolas was ready to fall asleep. "Why do you wish to stop there, ion-nín?"
Legolas looked up at Thranduil, his blue eyes wide. "The book of stories Naneth read to me is there," he explained. "Aearion did not read from it tonight."
The king recognized the name of his closest advisor who had been at his side since he had ascended to the throne and had been his father's advisor before him. But he never had learned how to completely handle Legolas, and it did not surprise him he had not read from his son's favorite book that night before putting him to bed. However, Aearion had been spending much more time with the Elfling than usual over the past fortnight since Thranduil had slowly been surrendering to the grief that had been exhausting him.
"What reason do you need your book tonight, Legolas?" he wondered. "It can wait until the morrow."
But Legolas shook his head. "I'm not ready for sleep yet, Ada," he told him. "I wish to read a story before I do."
Thranduil closed his eyes for a moment, sighing to himself. "If I bring you to get your book," he muttered, "do you promise to sleep?"
"Aye, Ada," Legolas assured him with a nod.
"So be it." The king changed course and brought the small Elfling down the hall that would bring them to the library. He shifted his son to one arm before pulling on one of the doors that opened into the vast, high-ceilinged room and set Legolas down. Thranduil watched as he disappeared into the darkness between the bookshelves before he sat down at a nearby table with another sigh. Legolas knew right where that book was, so he did not expect this diversion to take too long.
As he listened to him search for the book in the darkness, Thranduil felt his own head starting to wearily droop. This night was not much different than the past few had been, except this night, he was being led around the palace by his son rather than spending it sleepless in the bed which now felt cold and empty without his wife beside him. He had also not been eating nearly as much as he should have, and it seemed every day, he ate less and less. Aearion had expressed his concern that he was fading once more, and the king shared the same worry. He hoped his counsel with Lord Elrond would be able to relieve his burdened heart slightly.
Legolas found his book rather quickly. However, he continued to put it back in different places on the shelf, making it sound like he was still searching for it. The small Elfling continued to sneak glances at Thranduil, seeing it appeared he was falling into a light sleep himself. The longer he could continue his act without his father growing suspicious, the better.
After a few long minutes passed, Thranduil shook himself awake, his eyes narrowing slightly as he looked around the dark library. Had Legolas not found his book yet? He had someone read to him from it if he did not read it himself every night. "Quickly please, penneth," he said, rubbing his eyes. If he wanted to get an early start for Rivendell, he needed sleep shortly.
"Soon, Ada!" Legolas called back.
Thranduil sat for a couple more minutes before he thought he saw Legolas sneak a glance at him from between the bookshelves before quickly disappearing. Wondering what his son was up to, he rose to his feet and walked toward him. "Legolas?"
"Hold on, Ada!"
The king reached Legolas just in time to see him standing on his toes, his arm stretched out above his head as he reached for a book that was slightly sticking out of a shelf just out of his grasp. "I cannot reach," the young prince muttered, looking up at his father with a pleading gaze.
Thranduil slowly reached out a hand and pulled the book from the shelf, glancing down at the worn cover before holding it out for his son to take. However, he could not ignore the feeling that something was strange about the book's placement. He clearly remembered how he specifically had the book within easy reach for Legolas since he was the only one who read it anymore. "Here you are, penneth."
Legolas smiled as he held the thick book close to him. "Hannon le, Ada," he said.
"Come." Thranduil turned and walked for the door of the library, holding it open for Legolas as he scurried out into the hallway before shutting it behind them. They made it to the Elfling's room without any more interruptions, and the king picked up his son and set him gently in his bed.
"Pleasant dreams, ion-nín," Thranduil murmured before he turned and walked toward the door.
Legolas bit his lip as he watched his father walk away. "Ada!"
The king paused in the doorway, turning to look back at his son. "Yes, Legolas?" he wondered.
"Could you read me a story?" Legolas wondered, holding up the thick book.
Thranduil sighed, closing his eyes before he turned completely to face the Elfling. "Legolas, I have an early morning and a long day tomorrow," he told him, trying to be as patient as possible while adding a note of authority to his tone. "I must sleep now. If you wish to read a story yourself before you do the same, so be it. But I cannot. Good night, ion-nín."
Though he felt a twinge of guilt as he hoped he had not been too harsh on his young son, Thranduil turned and stepped out into the hallway without another word. He was about to close the door behind him but paused when he heard his son's cry.
"Don't leave, Ada!"
"I am only going to be around the corner," Thranduil said, starting to get slightly impatient now as he reentered the room. He did not have time for Legolas' game anymore. "I-!" But he stopped, startled, when he saw tears streaming freely down the Elfling's face. "What is wrong, ion-nín?"
Legolas didn't say anything immediately, though he opened his mouth to try to form his answer a couple times in between the sobs that shook his small frame. "Don't leave, Ada!" he finally repeated, his tears causing his voice to waver. "Don't leave... like Naneth..."
Thranduil closed the door behind him before he quickly walked toward the bed. "What do you mean, penneth?" he asked as he sat down beside his distressed son and wrapped his arms around him. "I am not..."
"You are!" Legolas interrupted as he moved into his father's embrace, clinging to him tightly as he buried his face in his chest. He said nothing more as his tears overtook him once more.
The king was at a loss for words, a feeling unfamiliar to him, not having any idea where Legolas was getting this idea from. But he was concerned when he felt his son's breathing was much quicker than it should have been, and he sighed as he began to rub his back. "Calm yourself, penneth," he murmured soothingly. "Slow your breathing."
Legolas held his breath for a short moment, and Thranduil could tell he was trying to comply. But he quickly let it out again as his tears continued to fall, small sobs still causing his rapid breathing. The king held the Elfling closer and rested his chin on top of his head as he continued to cry, and he closed his eyes as he began to hum the lullaby his wife had sung to Legolas since he was born. Its effect was almost instantaneous, and the prince's body relaxed soon after he heard his father's quiet voice. His tears slowed as his sobs were quieted, but his breath would still quickly catch once in a while.
"There," Thranduil said when he felt Legolas' sporadic gasps had stopped as well, noticing he had not released his tight hold on his robe. Clearly, he had no intent to let go of him. He moved back a little to gaze at the small Elf he was holding on his lap, brushing back some of his blond hair behind his ear before gently wiping away some of the tears that stained his cheeks with his thumb. "Now, tell me what this is about. Calmly please, penneth."
A moment passed before Legolas hesitantly met his father's gaze. "I was trying to keep you awake with me tonight, Ada," he muttered, his eyebrows knitting together.
Thranduil's slight suspicion that his son's actions over the course of the night had been meant to prevent him from sleeping had been confirmed. "For what purpose, penneth?" he asked quietly.
Legolas lowered his gaze, and the king could tell the Elfling was feeling some guilt for his actions. "Aearion was talking. I heard him," he answered, his voice dropping even lower than Thranduil's. "He... he said..."
"What did he say, Legolas?" Thranduil's eyes narrowed slightly with concern.
"He said you were fading, Ada," Legolas whispered, a thin line of tears forming in his eyes again. "Fading because of Naneth. And the guards were talking today, saying you were leaving on the morrow while I am unable to go. You... you can't leave too, Ada..."
Thranduil looked down on his son with realization before sorrow entered his blue eyes. He reached a hand out and lightly began to stroke Legolas' hair. "Oh, ion-nín," he muttered. "I will not leave you. I would never do that." It was because of his son that he had not faded completely.
Legolas looked up at Thranduil quickly. "But-!"
"Shh." Thranduil ran his thumb lightly over the Elfling's cheek to wipe away the stray tear that leaked from his eye. "Tomorrow I am leaving for Rivendell, penneth."
"What?" Confusion crossed Legolas' young face.
Thranduil smiled, setting his hand on top of his head. "I am leaving for Rivendell to seek counsel with Lord Elrond," he explained. "That is why I am leaving early. I will return as soon as I am able."
Legolas' brow furrowed. "Then why am I unable to go with you?" he wondered. He had always been allowed to travel to Imladris with his father.
"It will only be a short stay, Legolas," Thranduil said as his smile waned, thinking of a reason he would accept. He did not wish to scare him by telling him he believed it to be too dangerous since he did not want to take another risk with his son after he lost his wife so recently.
"But I wish to see Elladan and Elrohir," Legolas replied.
Thranduil felt his smile return slightly when he thought of his friend's young twin sons who were a little older than Legolas. "I will speak with Lord Elrond and arrange a time where they may come here," he muttered. "Does that appease you, penneth?"
Legolas nodded, a broad smile appearing on his face. "Aye, Ada!"
"All right, then." Thranduil leaned forward and lightly kissed his son's forehead. "Do you feel better, ion-nín?"
Before the Elfling could answer, he closed his eyes as a yawn overtook him. He rubbed his eyes as he slowly nodded, and the king set him on the bed against his pillows, beginning to cover him with his blankets but pausing when his small hand still tightly held his robe.
"Get some sleep, Legolas."
Legolas looked up at him through exhausted blue eyes, but he did not relent his hold. "Promise you will not leave me, Ada?" he asked in a whisper, his blue eyes widening slightly. "You will come back after talking to Elrond?"
Thranduil moved so he was under the blankets beside his son as he sat propped up against the pillows, wrapping his arm around Legolas when he moved closer. "I promise, ion-nín," he answered just as quietly, closing his eyes as he left a light kiss on his son's head. "I will not leave you." Then, a small smile appeared on his face when Legolas slowly released his robe, and he reached across him and picked up the thick book which had been lying forgotten next to him on the bed.
"Which story do you wish me to read to you, penneth?"
The first light of morning dawned over Mirkwood a few hours later, and Aearion hurried through the hallways of the palace with worry. The king had told him specifically that he needed to leave for Rivendell early, and as his closest advisor, it was his responsibility to ensure he completed what needed to be done. But Thranduil was not in his room, and with the state of mind he was in, it concerned him greatly.
But as he turned the corner, Aearion paused when his eyes landed on the door of the prince's room at the end of the hallway. Legolas had been just as affected by the queen's death, he knew. Thinking quickly, he sped his pace a little as he hurried forward, hesitating for only an instant before he quietly opened the door and glanced inside. What he saw made a smile appear on his face.
Thranduil had fallen asleep leaning back against the pillows of the smaller bed, an open book in his hands. Legolas was also resting peacefully nestled against his father's side with his sturdy arm wrapped securely around him. They appeared so serene that Aearion stepped back out into the hallway, shutting the door quietly behind him.
The king was finally getting some much deserved rest in the healing presence of his son, which was important for both of them. The trip to Rivendell could be delayed a little longer.
Quiet footsteps were barely heard as a tall figure made its way down the dark hallway. Nearly all the inhabitants of the palace of Mirkwood were asleep save this archer and the Elf he was going to see as he made his way toward a tall set of ornate double doors at the end of the hallway his intent blue eyes were set on. He had only just returned home after his long journey and the War, but there was something important he had to do before he allowed himself to rest.
As soon as he approached the doors, the archer hesitated for a moment before quietly pushing one open and stepping into the dark room. Turning only to close the door just as quietly behind him, the archer faced the bed once more, his eyes landing on the Elf sitting tensely at the end of it.
When he heard him enter the room, Thranduil quickly looked up, slowly rising to his feet to face the archer. "Legolas?" he said quietly, taking a small step forward.
A small smile appeared on Legolas' face as he met his father's gaze. "I am home, Ada," he muttered.
Thranduil approached his son, setting his ringed hand lightly on the side of his head as he took in his condition. There was some dirt smudged on his cheeks, probably from the long road home, and his face was slightly paler than normal, but otherwise, he appeared to be uninjured. The king carefully rubbed away some of the dirt from Legolas' cheek with his thumb before pulling him into a warm embrace. "Oh, ion-nín..."
Legolas wrapped his arms around Thranduil tightly, sighing quietly as he closed his eyes for a moment. It was a relief to be home and in the arms of his father. "I promised you I would return, Ada."
"Aye, you did, penneth." Thranduil pulled back from Legolas a little, still keeping one hand on his arm while the other made its way back to the side of his head. "And I am more relieved than you could know that you have returned safely." His keen eyes searched his son's face once more. "You must rest. You must be exhausted from your travel."
"I wished to see you before I rested, Ada," Legolas replied. He had not even stopped at his own room, for he still carried his weapons. "Though I must admit it sounds appealing. I have missed my bed."
A small smile appeared on Thranduil's face. "Would you care to join me for a glass of wine in the kitchens, penneth?" he wondered.
Legolas returned the smile. "It would be my pleasure, Ada," he told him.
Thranduil watched as Legolas set his bow, quiver of arrows, sword, and knives on the floor at the foot of the bed before removing his cloak, and his gaze saddened slightly. He wondered for a moment what the younger Elf had to endure while on this dangerous task. But he replaced the look with another smile when the archer turned back to him, and he placed his hand lightly on his shoulder as they left the room and stepped out into the dark hallway.
The two Elves walked in silence as they made their way toward the kitchens, simply feeling at peace in the other's company. Then, Legolas smirked as he turned to look at his father. "I saw a Balrog, Ada," he muttered.
The king met his son's bright gaze, and he chuckled quietly. "It was not in your closet, I hope," Thranduil said, which caused Legolas to laugh as well. The cheerful sound made a broad smile appear on the older Elf's face. It seemed like so long since he had last heard it.
Once they reached the kitchens, Legolas sat at the table while Thranduil poured two glasses of wine at the counter. He set one in front of his son before sitting on the stool across from him, taking a small sip from his glass. They spoke relatively little, both still just relieved to have this time together. But soon, once they had each finished their second glass, Thranduil could tell that though he was trying to stay awake, Legolas was growing visibly tired.
"Get some sleep, ion-nín," the king muttered with a smile, taking his glass from his loose grasp. "You can tell me more about your experience on the morrow."
Legolas watched as his father washed out the glasses, rising to his feet when he rejoined him. They left the dark kitchens together, walking in silence until they came to the prince's room. Legolas went in first, shortly followed by Thranduil, and the older Elf approached the bed and pulled back the blankets while his son washed his face and rinsed his hair after taking out his warrior braids. He then changed from his tunic into his light shirt for sleeping and removed his boots, climbing into his bed. As soon as his head hit the pillow, he closed his eyes and sighed with content as a smile appeared on his face.
Thranduil chuckled quietly. "Feel better, penneth?" he asked.
"If only you knew," Legolas answered, cracking one eye open to look up at him.
"I have an idea." Thranduil then lifted the blankets so they covered his exhausted son, setting his hand lightly on his shoulder. "Pleasant dreams, Legolas."
Legolas smiled up at him. "Hannon le, Ada," he whispered.
Thranduil returned the smile, watching as Legolas' eyes glazed over in much-needed sleep. He would return his weapons to him once first light came, for rest was what they both needed. The king then leaned down, lightly kissing the younger Elf's head.
"I am glad to have you home, ion-nín."
ion-nín- my son
penneth- young one
hannon le- thank you