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Prayer for an Absent Son
Summary: When Legolas doesn’t return from a mission, Thranduil mourns. Second place in the Gen catgegory for the ALEC challenge ‘I’m Missing You’.
Thranduil paused at the door to Legolas’ room, almost hesitating to enter. Then, with a disgusted shake of his head, he stepped across the threshold and glanced around. In spite of the anger and sorrow that threatened to overwhelm him, he couldn’t help smiling. The room was so typically Legolas: the bed was neatly made up, as always, but the rest of the room looked as if an army of Dwarves had set up camp. Or no, more like half the armory had been moved into the room. There were three sets of bows but only two quivers, he noticed. Several different white-handled knives of varying lengths and even a couple of swords, including a scimitar his son had won off an orc that had dared to attack his patrol. Thranduil recalled with a grim chuckle that he’d had to order Legolas to dump the orc’s head into the midden heap, refusing to allow him the ‘keepsake’ as his son had so impudently called it.
He shook his head again, as if clearing his mind of that particular memory, and moved further into the room. Discarded breeches, tunics and an old pair of boots littered the room, nearly hiding the brightly woven rugs that covered the stone floor. He moved to sit in the one chair the room could boast. Looking around he tried to see his son here. He closed his eyes and stilled himself. There was the faintest scent of green, a freshness that often did not penetrate this far inside the Stronghold. It was a scent that he always associated with his son, his ‘Little Leaf’.
He could almost feel him here, almost see his dancing blue eyes and merry smile, hear his gay laugh.
"Ah, Little Leaf," he sighed. "Why did I ever send you to Imladris? I should have sent another, but you felt responsible, guilty even, and nothing I said short of ordering you to stay would deter you from doing what you saw as your duty, and so I let you go."
He felt himself growing angry again. Damn Elrond! Damn the interfering half-mortal Noldo! He stared down at the piece of parchment that he was grasping and re-read the words, the hateful words:
‘....decided to allow your son to join the Fellowship to represent the Elves. He does you honor, Thranduil. He does all our people proud.’
Thranduil snarled. Honor! Pride! There was more to the missive but Thranduil wasn’t interested in reading it. His son, his Little Leaf, was not returning from his mission to Elrond. Instead, he was somewhere in the wilds of Eriador accompanying Mortals on a hopeless quest to destroy the Enemy’s Ring. Oh yes! Elrond was not so foolish as to write that, but Thranduil hadn’t survived the Fall of Doriath, the drowning of Beleriand and the debacle of the Last Alliance that saw his own adar dead and not be able to read between the lines, even those written by a devious-minded arrogant Noldo!
Was Legolas insane? Hare off into the blue with a pack of... of Halflings and a Dwarf? A Dwarf! Hadn’t he taught his son better than that? Thranduil shook his head and re-read the pertinent lines again, snorting as he did:
‘....with him have gone Mithrandir....’ — well no surprise there! — ‘... Lord Boromir of Gondor, Gimli son of Glóin....’ — well he knew that name at least! — and four Halflings, one of whom is Frodo son of Drogo and Bilbo’s heir....’ — Well, Bilbo at least he had a grudging respect for, and if Bilbo had chosen this Frodo as his heir, and that particular Halfling was no one’s fool to be sure, then he supposed things were not as bleak as they appeared. — ‘.... and my Estel....’
Hmph... Thranduil had to admire Elrond for circumspection, at least. Aragorn son of Arathorn was a worthy Man, as he had cause to know, and he now realized why Legolas had felt compelled to join this mad Fellowship. It was more than guilt for allowing that detestable creature to escape, more than guilt that he survived the attack that freed the creature and which killed the guards, his guards, his friends. He was going out of friendship for the Heir of Isildur.
"Damn!" he stood, shouting at the empty room, crumpling the parchment in his fury. "You should be here, Legolas, not going on some mad venture with no hope of succeeding. You’re going to your death, my son! And your people need you here. I need you here!"
He collapsed into the chair, his fury spent. He felt drained, heartsick and despairing. He’d lost so much over the long years of retreat, of fruitless victories and stunning defeats. He did not think he could endure one more loss, not that of his son, not his Little Leaf.
His eyes wandered once more around his beloved son’s room as he tried to accept the possibility that this chamber and what it held would be all he would have left of his beloved child, for he could see no hope in the mission Legolas was on. What they intended to do... it was a fool’s hope. Damn Elrond... and Mithrandir! Then his gaze stopped on the bed and for the first time he noticed that stuck in the far corner, almost hidden by the pillows, was a furry object. Thranduil wasn’t sure what it was at first, but he recognized it as he stood and reached for it.
It was Legolas’ favorite stuffed toy when he was an elfling. Thranduil stared at it in surprise, for he could not imagine why his grown son would still have the silly thing. It should have been put away with all the other toys. What had he called it? Oh yes, Araw, after the Balan who had discovered the Elves. He fondly recalled that Legolas had always loved to hear stories of the time when a Balan had led the People westward. It didn’t matter to Legolas that his ancestors never made it to Dor Rhodyn. The elfling simply loved to hear stories of the adventures of crossing Middle-earth with only the stars to light the way. Such tales would naturally appeal to the adventurous child Legolas had been and, in many ways, still was.
He closed his eyes, clinging to the stuffed toy, acknowledging his fears for his son’s safety, and, perhaps for the first time in his long life, prayed. "Lord Araw, protect my son," he whispered. "Oh, Legolas, my Little Leaf, please come back to me... please bring him home, Lord Tauron. We... I need him."
In the silence that followed there was the sound of someone clearing his throat.
Thranduil opened his eyes with a start, becoming angry at the intrusion, and saw his steward standing at the doorway looking decidedly uncomfortable. The King pulled himself together. "Yes, Galion, what is it?"
"Forgive the intrusion, Sire, but King Dain and King Brand are here to discuss defenses."
"Oh yes, of course," Thranduil said, silently cursing the Dwarf and the Man for choosing now to come, though in fairness to them both, it was he who had asked them to attend him. "I will be there shortly," he added. "Please see that they have all they need for their comfort."
"It need not be said, Aran," Galion replied with a respectful bow and then left.
Thranduil stared down at the stuffed toy, his expression wistful. "I missed you five minutes after you left for Imladris, my son," he said to the toy. "I miss you even more knowing that I may never see you again." He started to put the toy back on the bed, then hesitated, staring at this physical reminder of the elfling that had so brightened his heart and filled his soul with joy.
When he left the room to join Dain and Brand it was with his son’s stuffed toy nestled in the crook of his arm and whatever anyone who saw their king with it thought, they wisely kept their opinions to themselves.
Words are Sindarin.
Dor Rhodyn: Land of the Valar, Valinor.
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