Disclaimer: I never have and never will own Lord of the Rings of the characters. Trust me, I would love to, but it's not gonna happen.
A/N: Okay, I wrote this at like 10 on Thursday night, while feeling sick. It's pretty much all angst, which is kinda making me wonder if there's anything ELSE I can write. Right now: no. Anyway, I would like to apologize to those readers who are also reading my other story (Mends of Old; Ties of New). I've kinda hit some kind of block on it, and I can't get past half of the next chapter. Actually, I'll go try to work on that now... So, anyway, sorry, and I'm offering this One-shot as a kind of peace offering. Okay, enough of my ramblings (that you probably aren't reading anyway). Enjoy the story and please take a minute to give me feedback, good or bad. ~ CassiKitty
A Thousand Screams for Help
Mirkwood was a quiet place now that the queen was gone. She had been attacked by spiders, and, while her husband had managed to save her from the creatures, he and his healers had been unable to save her from death. None in the land were left unaffected, but perhaps most shaken, besides Thranduil, was Legolas, the prince of Mirkwood.
At a short glance, no one would have thought he was so hurt. One would think he was just quiet and mature for his age, but that was not reality. Before his mother's death, Legolas would be seen running through the halls, and the young blond elf would often make trouble for his father or the staff. Now, he walked through the hallways only when he had to, preferring the solitude of his own room, often behind a locked door, and he didn't make any trouble for the staff. The staff all agreed that they would rather have the "old Legolas" back, than have this withdrawn child who seldom spoke.
But even those that knew him best did not know the full extent of his grief. They did not know that he blamed himself, or, in the darkest of nights, when all seemed lost, how he wished for death. They did not know how he had begun scratching maliciously at his skin until it broke and bled. They did not know how on the rare occasion that he slept anymore, he only got to sleep through sobs that rocked his body. They did not know how he silently screamed for help every time he ventured into the courtyard or the kitchen. They did not know.
Thranduil's own grief had weakened him, but he was already recovering, slowly. It was then, after at least a month from his wife's funeral, that Thranduil first noticed something was wrong with his son. He noticed how Legolas would eat and drink gradually less and less. Concerned but unsure, Thranduil watched his son as the youth slowly fell further and further.
When Legolas stopped coming to meals, Thranduil knew it was time to take action. The only reason he hadn't before was that he had thought that someone else would help Legolas, someone who was not weighed down so by grief of their own. But apparently no one had stepped forward to catch the prince, and now it was up to Thranduil to bring his son back.
Thranduil swept through the hallway, rethinking the signs of depression he had seen in his young son, silently reassuring his mind that this was the right thing to do. When he reached Legolas's room, he hesitated. Never before had he paused before calling to his son, but now he stood frozen. Fear of what he could find shot through Thranduil's mind. Finally, the king knocked on the door.
"Legolas, please open the door!" Thranduil called out.
The sound of frantic scrambling became clear and a moment later, the door swung open. There stood his son. Legolas had become pale; he looked weak and sickly. His eyes had lost their lively shine and he was thin, oh so thin.
"How could I let it come to this?" Thranduil inwardly cursed himself; his reluctance to go to his son, "If I did not come soon enough, I will not forgive myself. What have I allowed to happen to my son: my most precious treasure?"
"Adar, is something wrong?" Legolas asked in a raw voice as he blinked up at his father.
"Yes," Thranduil answered honestly, stepping into the room, "Something is very wrong."
Legolas looked shocked at his father's entry to his rooms, but stayed quiet about it, "What is it, Father?"
Thranduil made a motion to the chair, which Legolas hesitantly took as Thranduil closed the door. Inconspicuously, his hand slipped over the lock and clicked it, ensuring their privacy. He then sat down on the edge of the bed and looked at his son. The curtains were drawn and the room was dark, making Thranduil frown.
"Adar," Legolas called; his voice unsure and filled with a rawness that could not be healthy, "What is going on? What is it that has you so troubled?"
"Not what, but who," Thranduil corrected gently; then took the momentary silence that followed to further study the room. There was a pile of books in the corner, and papers were scattered here and there in unorganized piles. There was a blanket or two on the floor, cast aside hastily. Thranduil had few doubts that, should he look under the bed, he would find a few pieces of clothing that had been kicked under. This was not normal elvish behavior, even for a young elfling. Legolas had always liked things nice and neat, so seeing the room in such disarray frightened the king.
"All right," Legolas said, sounding as though he was really just humoring his father now, "Who are you troubled over?"
Thranduil considered how to answer the question for a moment, before replying bluntly, "You,"
"Me?" Legolas repeated, incredulous.
"You are walking down a dangerous path." Thranduil continued, "A path that leads only to more pain. You are close to the edge of a cliff, Legolas. And I fear what should happen should you fall."
"I am nowhere near a cliff of any kind," Legolas denied, but inwardly, he was screaming, "I am lying! I am already at the edge, dangling. Help me, Ada!"
Thranduil shook his head, "You won't eat, you clearly don't sleep, you don't talk to anyone, you look weakened, and you are pale, Legolas. All these things tell me you are close to falling. I fear worse than you falling ill, Penneth, I fear for your very life." Thranduil waited, and silently added, "And I fear mine will end shortly after that."
"I am fine," Legolas insisted, but was crying out inside, "No, I'm not! I'm lying! I'm already falling ill. Ada, I need your help!"
"Are you quite sure of that?" Thranduil inquired, not because he was taking his son's word for it, but because he wanted to give his son one last chance to open to him.
"Yes," Legolas responded firmly, but his mind raved, "No! No, don't listen to me! I'm lying! Don't leave, if you do, I will fall! Force me to tell you everything! HELP ME!"
Thranduil sighed softly and whispered, "Here is why I do not believe that, Ion nin: there is blood seeping through your sleeve."
Legolas looked down and cursed, trying to hide his arm, "It is nothing." Inwardly, he was shouting now, "Force me to show you! Force me to tell you all of it! Don't stop now! I need help!"
Thranduil got to his feet and crossed the room, "Roll up your sleeve."
"I am fine." Legolas repeated, "No, I'm not. I'm a mess."
"Roll up your sleeve, Legolas. Let me see what you deem 'nothing,' and if it is truly nothing, I will let you be." Thranduil said stubbornly, "Do I need to order you as your king to show me your arm?"
Legolas frowned at his father and slowly pushed his sleeve up his arm, revealing scars and small, still unhealed patches of exposed flesh. Upon seeing these, Thranduil's eyes fluttered closed.
After a long, silent moment, Thranduil spoke again. His voice was shaking and unsure as he said, "This is what you call nothing?"
Legolas remained silent, looking away from his father. The prince did not want to see the disappointment that would cross his beloved father's face.
"How long," Thranduil whispered softly, his voice raw, "How long has this been going on?"
"Since Nana's funeral," Legolas answered, still looking away.
"Ai…" Thranduil murmured; then did something Legolas did not expect. Slowly, the king, reached out, brushing his hand over his son's cheek and turning Legolas's head to look at him. The King rolled up his own sleeve, revealing a single scar, clearly very old. When the Elvenking spoke, his voice was trembling, "Centuries ago, this is what I did to myself after my father's death. I blamed myself; no one but myself. I walked the road you are walking, Penneth."
Legolas looked at his father, finally meeting the king's eyes. And there, in the depths of his son's blue eyes, Thranduil found a thousand screams for help. Legolas did not want this, his son wanted to be caught. Thranduil, in a rare burst of emotion, reached out and surrounded his son with his arms, pulling his little one close. Legolas did not fight the embrace, but neither did he welcome it.
"Look at me, Ion nin." Thranduil whispered, and waited for his son to obey before continuing, "I was told this long ago. You have two choices: continue on and fall, or let me catch you. Let me help you." Legolas trembled a bit, and he bit his lip, as though he wanted to say something but couldn't. Rubbing the child's back comfortingly, Thranduil added, "You have to tell me which you want."
After a long moment, Legolas licked his lips nervously and whispered in a hoarse voice, "Help me, Ada, please."
And in that moment, Legolas broke. His barriers came crashing down and he collapsed against his father, sobbing uncontrollably, trembling hard. And Thranduil held Legolas as the youth's world seemingly crashed down upon him. Drawing him close, Thranduil closed his eyes, letting his son cling to him like a lifeline, because that's what Thranduil was.
As Legolas slowly calmed, Thranduil leaned over and whispered in his son's ear, "I will always catch you, my little Greenleaf."
"It's all m-my fault!" Legolas cried, tears pouring down his cheeks, "It is entirely my fault!"
Thranduil didn't have to ask what his son was referring to, instead, he answered, "It is not your fault she died, Penneth. If anyone here has the right to blame himself, it is me. I was the one who was supposed to protect my people. I was the one who failed. Blame me, if you will, but stop this nonsense about it being your fault."
"This is not your fault, Ada." Legolas whispered.
"And neither is it yours."
Legolas nodded and Thranduil heard him murmur, "Ada, I don't think I'm well."
"I don't either, Ion nin," Thranduil responded, "You need rest."
"I'm afraid." Came the simple response, "I'm afraid to sleep."
"I will watch over you." Thranduil promised, "I will not let you fall."
Legolas buried his head against his father's chest, closing his eyes, "Don't you miss Nana?"
"I miss her very much," Thranduil whispered.
"Then why aren't you like this?" Legolas inquired, motioning around the room.
Thranduil smiled grimly, "Because I know that your mother would not want me to fall into depression. She would want me to go on living; go on feeling."
"And you n-never feel like it's hopeless?"
"I won't lie to you, my little Greenleaf. Sometimes, I feel like I can't do this alone. Then, I remind myself that I have you; that you need me right now. You might not think it, Legolas, but I need you right now as much as you need me. You give me something to go on for; you are all I have left."
There were tears in Legolas's eyes as he wrapped his arms around Thranduil's neck, "I love you, Ada."
"I love you too, Ion nin." Thranduil replied, running his hands through the golden hair as his son's breathing leveled out and his eyes fluttered closed into a healing sleep.
When Legolas woke, his father was beside him, holding him close. The king's own eyes were closed in a deep sleep. Legolas smiled slightly; then glanced around the room, "I need to straighten up."
Instead, Legolas carefully slipped out of his father's grasp so as not to wake the sleeping elf. The prince pulled back the curtains, letting in the light and threw open the window, taking a breath of fresh air. He was hungry, for the first time in a long time, and he felt rested. He smiled down at his father as he sat down lightly on the side of the bed. His father would always catch him when he threatened to fall. Legolas smiled: the first real smile since his mother's death. "Everything's going to be okay now. Someone finally heard my screams for help."
Please, please, PLEASE review!