45. “I had a nightmare about you and I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.”
I don’t know what happened– I went to save the ask as a draft and it disappeared. So sorry, I do not know who requested this! Please comment and let me know. I found it! @mazikeen Thank you for the prompt! A/N2: Another drabble! I hope you like it. :)
For a moment, Thranduil looked fierce, a wild thing protecting his territory. It was the dead of night, and his door sidled open, softly, but Thranduil’s keen hearing detected the sound.
Ready to expel the bold intruder who dared to enter his rooms unbidden, Thranduil stole out of his bed and into the shadows, shrugging into a robe as he did. Peering across the darkened room, he saw a slender figure and gasped, recognition slackening his scowl–
“Legolas?” Thranduil asked, as he stepped into the swath of moonlight on the floor.
Legolas started in surprise, then hurried towards him, his eyes round and worried.
“What are you doing up at this hour?” Thranduil asked. There was no good reason his son should be awake now, and so he frowned as Legolas raced across the room.
“Ada,” Legolas said with a fraught expression, and launched himself at his father, clasping him tightly.
Thranduil was stunned, but bent to encircle his son in his arms, holding his beloved child close. Legolas made little gasping noises, burying his nose into his middle, and Thranduil realized he was crying, though trying very hard not to.
It pained him some to discover that his son felt he should hide his feelings from him. Even a few years ago this wouldn’t have been true. Legolas’s happy and inquisitive nature overrode any shame he might feel, but nothing could change the fact that his elfling was growing up.
Somewhere in the transition from child to adolescent, Legolas had learned to be self conscious of his emotions. Joy still shone through– the child couldn’t help his nature– like sunshine bursting free of the clouds, but in learning discipline and order, he thought to stifle his other feelings.
From watching me, Thranduil thought. He felt sorrow for it, but he knew no other way for a king to be.
Thranduil’s astonishment at his son’s outburst, yielded to concern. What monsters had hurt his little leaf? Thranduil would slay them all. “What is it, ion-nin?” he asked, smoothing his hand over Legolas’s scalp, resting at the base of his neck.
“I am sorry,” Legolas whimpered. “It is very childish and stupid, my lord, but I cannot help it.”
Thranduil’s heart hurt to hear Legolas addressing him formally, to show respect and put distance between them that propriety dictated.
Legolas was at that age between childhood and young adulthood. He strove everyday to act grown up, yet was still a child. It was very important that he be taken seriously, and he would be wounded if Thranduil dismissed his feelings.
“It must not be either of those things to upset you so,” Thranduil replied. “Tell me. I will not ridicule.” He pulled back enough to crouch at Legolas’s feet to better see his face, and held in his surprise when he realized how tall his son had grown. In another year or two, he would be too big for such a gesture.
“I had a nightmare about you,” Legolas whispered, “and I just wanted to make sure you are okay.”
“What did you dream about?” Thranduil asked.
Legolas was quiet for a long moment, only shaking his head as he gathered his thoughts. Thranduil waited as patiently as he could for his son to speak.
“I dreamed I was in the woods, playing,” Legolas said, then frowned. “No, not playing– on patrol.”
Legolas was too young to go on patrol. It would be another twenty years before he reached the age of maturity, but Thranduil did not interrupt him with that fact.
“You were on patrol, and then what?” Thranduil prompted.
“There was a stag and I followed him, chasing and laughing with the other elves. We ran through the woods, hardly noticing when it got darker,” Legolas said, “but it did.”
“I didn’t see the pit and I fell down and down impossibly long until the sky was ash and the air thick and I landed in mud. I was surrounded on all sides by muck and swamp. I saw the stag, his great antlers protruding from the mire. He was sinking. I lumbered towards him but was weighted down by the mud, water, and marsh plants. I couldn’t reach him in time. He sank under.
“When I got closer–,” Legolas’s voice choked off. Emotion warred across his face as he struggled to remain composed, but ultimately Legolas lost to it, his brow creasing in anguish as he heaved a sob.
“He’s you– the stag is you. You’re floating under the water. And I can’t– I can’t reach you– my hands are bound, held back by the weeds, my feet rooted by the mud– and you’re under the water– I can see you, but I can’t touch you. And you’re sinking, and so still, and floating away from me and I can’t– I can’t–.”
Thranduil threw his arms around him and pulled Legolas close. “Shhh, it’s alright,” Thranduil soothed. “You have me now, my love.”
Legolas wept openly, wailing dolefully into Thranduil’s neck. The king swayed his child tenderly, trying to soothe his anguished heart with a strong embrace and gentle reassurances.
Legolas’s dream summoned images from his own memories.
The Dead Marshes, Thranduil thought and went still. Dagorlad.
Elven history was part of Legolas’s lessons, and the young prince was just beginning to realize his father’s part in it. It had been amusing when Legolas realized just how old his father was, his scant three decades of life uncomprehending of multiple millennia.
However, there was nothing amusing about this.
The battle of Dagorlad marked one of the most harrowing times in his long life. Thranduil could not think on it without feeling intense pain in his heart. The knowledge of this history should have been imparted on Legolas with great care, if not for his own young mind, but out of respect for Thranduil.
How Legolas learned about this without my consent, I do not know, Thranduil thought. There are more pressing concerns at the moment.
Thranduil’s mind raced, but there was no time for his own grief. Legolas was distressed and needed him to be present right now.
“You were dead,” Legolas whispered. “I was too late. I was useless.”
Thranduil sat back on his heels, pulling away only enough to look into his eyes. His son could not know these words echoed his own from thousands of years ago on that battlefield when he’d found Oropher’s body. They were destructive, and useless words themselves, with no place in Legolas’s young mind.
“You had a bad dream,” Thranduil replied. “But that is all it is. I am not dead, nor are you too late, nor are you useless.”
It was obvious anxiety caused Legolas’s dream, his young mind reeling from what he had learned, the horror of it too much to process.
“I do not know what I would do if– if I lost you, too,” Legolas said through his tears, and he heaved an ugly sob into his arm.
Thranduil felt his own sentiment rise up, tightening his throat, but he swallowed it down, focusing on the fierce love he had for this little elf.
“You will not lose me, my love,” Thranduil said, rubbing up and down his arms, trying to comfort his son, but his words had the opposite effect.
“You cannot promise!” Legolas cried, yanking his arms free. “Nana died. Your ada died. I read about it in the book! What could stop you from dying next?”
Ah, my little scholar is reading ahead of his lessons, Thranduil thought. When Legolas was curious about something, he could be as persistent as a dog with a bone. Perhaps Legolas had thought reading about war would prepare him to be a soldier. Lately, he had been very interested in what grown ups do. Thranduil would have to remember to ask him about it later.
The Dead Marshes were macabre even to the most dauntless of soldiers, let alone a child with a vivid imagination. Corpses drifted in the murky water, anchored by rotting weeds that sprouted up like gnarled hands to tether the bodies an easy length from the surface, taunting the living with failure and loss. Despair dwelled in that moor, its legacy of sorrow bequeathed to all who had looked upon it.
Thranduil had many sleepless nights after he had returned from the Dead Marshes on a fool’s errand to see if Oropher floated among the disturbed bodies there. Though he had blessedly not found his father, what Thranduil had seen would haunt him for the rest of his days.
This is not the way I intended for Legolas to learn about his grandfather, Thranduil thought. I need to mend this if I can.
Thranduil remembered all too well the pain of losing his home, of losing his father, of losing his comrades, of losing his wife– so much loss in his long life, more than many elves experience.
I must banish my own bereavement from my mind, Thranduil thought. I must not dwell on my losses but instead on what I have learned from them.
“Without you, I’ll be all alone,” Legolas whispered, blue eyes round, and red-rimmed with tears. “What would I do if you weren’t here with me?”
Thranduil took Legolas’s hands in his own, squeezing gently. Such a stricken question from one so young, Thranduil thought. Elves were supposed to live for all time. That they did not, was the great tragedy of their kind.
“We cannot know what life will bring us,” Thranduil said. “It is okay to worry sometimes, Legolas. You are more capable than you realize, But there are some things we cannot control. All we can do is enjoy life one day at a time, the best we can. Will you try to remember that?”
Legolas sniffled and nodded, and gasped, “I will try. But I am afraid, ada.”
“It is alright to be afraid, Legolas,” Thranduil replied. “We may lose people we love, but we will never lose the love they leave behind. As long as you remember that, you will always have me, and your naneth.”
Taking shuddering breathes, Legolas nodded, attempting to accept his father’s words. “Nana loved me,” he said. “I know that. I remember.”
“You are dearly loved,” Thranduil replied. “You are my heart, ion-nin.”
A smile brightened Legolas’s face. Throwing his arms around Thranduil’s neck, Legolas flung himself at his father, hugging him with all his might.
Thranduil chuckled and held onto him, pressing a kiss to the top of his head. “One day, when you are older, I will tell you about the war,” Thranduil whispered, “but for now, slow down. Do not rush these years.”
Legolas was a sniffling, red faced mess, gasping and wiping his wet face on his sleeve.
Resisting the urge to gather Legolas up in his arms and hold him like he had when he was toddling, Thranduil instead tugged gently at his hand.
“Come with me,” he said and guided Legolas towards his bathing chamber.
Thranduil brought a handkerchief to his face, prompting him to blow his nose. Pouring cool water into a basin he soaked a cloth and washed Legolas’s face, trying to ease some of the tension in his tiny brow.
It had been a while since Thranduil had cared for Legolas like this. Feelings of both shame and pride rose up in him. How long it had been, but Thranduil was here for his son now when Legolas needed his father.
“How does that feel?” Thranduil asked.
“Better, ada,” Legolas replied.
“Drink all of this,” Thranduil said handing him a glass of water, and Legolas gulped it down without hesitation.
When there was nothing more to do, Legolas looked away and fidgeted, reluctant to leave. Perhaps Legolas felt he was too old to ask, even though Thranduil could tell he wanted to, so Thranduil asked for him, “Would you like to stay with me tonight?”
Relief flashed across Legolas’s face and he nodded with vigor, taking Thranduil’s hand in his own. Thranduil smiled and led Legolas into his room.
Legolas hopped up onto the bed, bouncing a few times on the large mattress before settling into the side where his mother used to sleep. A smile curved Thranduil’s lips as he watched his son perform that lighthearted action, realizing Legolas was starting to feel better.
Thranduil shrugged out of his dressing gown, and laid it over the back of his chair, then climbed into the bed next to his son. No sooner had he laid down, did Legolas burrow closer to him, wriggling like a worm until he was safe in the sheltered space between Thranduil’s arm and side.
“Good night, ada,” Legolas whispered, yawning into his chest.
“Sleep well, ion-nin,” he replied.
Sleep would be difficult for both of them to come by that night. But as they lay in the bed, warmth pooling between them, Thranduil took his own advice and simply enjoyed being in the presence of his son.
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