Premise: Thranduil thinks Bard is Legolas’s lover.
Thranduil burst into the houses of healing, expecting Legolas to show himself. To prove himself unharmed from the latest patrol and the latest run-in with not one, but two nests of spiders.
Thranduil accosted the nearest healer.
“Your son was not injured, my lord. He has gone to clean himself.”
The healer returned to the bedside of the man she had been treating. He was unconscious, dark hair fanning about his head. There was something about him. Thranduil could not look away.
“Who is this?” he asked.
“This is the prince’s friend from Lake-town.”
Ah, of course. Who in the kingdom has not heard of Legolas’s human friend from Lake-town? Thranduil was privy to the rumours; the most prevalent of which were these: that the human was a bargeman, that he was skilled with the bow, and that Legolas was particularly fond of him.
Thranduil has never known Legolas to show preference towards Men, but he could understand why he might have made an exception for this man. He was uncommonly attractive. Yet, Thranduil could not pinpoint what was so pleasing about him. It wasn’t just the slope of his cheeks or the line of his jaw. Thranduil frowned.
“Does he suffer?”
“His wound was aggravated by the spider venom, but he will heal after his fever breaks.” The healer left after bandaging the man’s midsection.
Thranduil took the seat she vacated and waited for Legolas.
His gaze was drawn to the man again when he fidgeted and murmured in his sleep. Names slipped from his lips; three of them, none of which were Legolas’s. Thranduil glared. Did this mortal not return Legolas’s affection? He did not have to wait long to interrogate the man.
The man opened his eyes, blinking slowly. “I suppose I have lost the wager, Legolas. It was me, not you, who ended up on the healer’s bed. What do I owe you?” He rose to his elbows, struggling to sit.
“Legolas isn’t here, though I suspect he will be soon.”
The man did a double-take upon seeing Thranduil, lips quirking in a cautious smile. It brought attention to his warm, brown eyes and the lovely rise of his cheeks. An arresting smile for such a face.
“You must be the healer,” said the man. “I thank you for nursing me back to health. Your prince will never let me forget it. Mind you, he did tell me to keep away, but I fancied myself skilful enough to help with the spiders.” His voice had a deep, husky quality. Thranduil wondered if he always sounded like that or if it was the effect of sleep on his voice.
Thranduil cleared his throat. “You have a fever. You will have to remain here until it breaks.”
The man tried to climb off the bed. “I can’t. My children will be wondering where I am.”
Thranduil furrowed his brows. “Does Legolas know you have children?”
The man nodded. A different smile came over him; one that made his eyes soft. “Bain looks up to him. Tilda had been intent on marrying him until I told her he was older than me. I beg your pardon. I have told you everything but my name. I am Bard.” He held out his hand.
Thranduil placed his hand over Bard’s; felt the callouses of a dedicated archer along his palm. “I understand your concern for your children but consider Legolas’s affection for you. He would be angry with me if I let you leave in such a state.”
“Legolas’s…affection?” Bard gave an amused snort. “Legolas has as much affection towards me as he would a favoured horse. He would not have spoken to me if he had not been fascinated with my longbow. So if you have designs on his heart, you don’t need to fear me,” said Bard, his smile dimming.
Thranduil drew back, unsure of how to respond. He had been so sure of Legolas’s regard for Bard that he now wondered how any elf could deny Bard’s charms. Thranduil sighed, folding his hands in his lap. “I do not have designs on his heart. I am his father.”
“I am Legolas’s father,” said Thranduil, rather enjoying the flush that came over Bard’s face and the way his jaw went slack.
As if to further reinforce his claim, Legolas joined them then, freshly bathed and clean of spider blood. “Ada, I did not expect to see you here. Bard, I am glad to see you awake.” But his words fell on deaf ears. Bard was blushing so hard, his fever rose, and Thranduil was filled with such mirth that he smiled.
“I apologise deeply for my callous words, Lord Thranduil,” said Bard eventually. “I have the utmost respect and regard for your son.”
“Bard,” said Legolas, laughing, “what is the matter?”
“If you excuse me, I would like to rest.” Bard slithered back down onto the bed, pulling the blankets up to his chin for emphasis.
Thranduil suppressed the urge to tease him even more and excused himself.
After Legolas assured Bard he would send a scout to look after his children, he joined Thranduil in the hall. He raised an eyebrow, as if to say, ‘Really, ada?’, but what he said was, “If he makes you happy.”
“I don’t know what you mean, young leaf,” said Thranduil, but Legolas was already walking away, shaking his head.