To Heal A Hurt|
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters of Middle-Earth. I am simply borrowing them.
Thank-you to my beta reader for going over this for me!
Summary: The war against Sauron has been won but for Legolas the pain is still too fresh. Trying to escape the torment he flees his home every night but to where?
Rating: T for some acts of violence and character death
The first signs of morning were just beginning to break through the boughs of Eryn Lasgalen when Legolas made his way slowly back to his room. For the past two weeks since his return from the war he had taken to sneaking off in the middle of the night, venturing deep into the forest. Now that Sauron had finally been defeated, the forest of Mirkwood was cleansed of evil and there was no need to worry about hidden dangers.
As Legolas approached the palace by one of the more obscure routes he was deep in thought, failing to notice a guard watching him closely from the shadows, concern etched on his fair face. Once Legolas had disappeared from his view the guard slipped away to report to his captain.
Belven hurried into the guard room, "Captain Girion? I have just seen Prince Legolas returning from the forest. He did not look like he wished to be seen."
"Have you seen him returning before?" Girion frowned, not quite sure what to make of the situation. While there was nothing wrong with the prince taking a midnight stroll, it had not escaped his attention that he had not quite been the same since he had returned from his adventures.
"No, Captain. This is the first time I have seen him, but he looked distraught, too distraught to cover his tracks."
Girion's brow furrowed. This was not good. "Thank you Belven, I will notify the king. Please stay alert and inform me at once if Prince Legolas leaves the palace in such a way again." A prince with wanderlust was one thing, but a distressed prince was another.
Belven bowed, turning to quietly return to his post. Girion strode towards Thranduil's rooms, hoping he would know what to do about his son, knowing that he would want to know. Legolas had always been known to venture off into the woods alone, but never at night, and never in secret.
The young prince had been changed by his travels, a fact that had been apparent from the moment he had returned; not even his father was quite sure of the extent of the change.
When Girion reached the door to the King's quarters he tapped it quietly, so he would not wake anyone else at that early hour. He heard the shuffling of feet and knew that Thranduil was awake.
"Come in." Thranduil answered with a slight strain to his voice.
Girion opened the door and entered the room and saluted Thranduil. "I am sorry to bother you this early in the morning sire, but Belven has just informed me that your son was seen returning from the forest. He thought that your son did not wish to be seen."
"Did Belven say why my son could be doing such a thing?" Thranduil asked bewildered, concern creasing his face.
"No, my Lord, but he did say that your son looked distraught. I told him to keep an eye on your son and to report to me if he left the palace again in such a way."
Distressed? His Legolas? Thranduil knew that something was seriously wrong if his son was sneaking off to the forest instead of coming to him. Legolas had always confided in his father, no matter what the problem was.
Thranduil swallowed, blinking back a tear that had sprung, unbidden, to his eye at the thought of what pain his son must be going through. He wanted to leap up and confront his son that second, to demand to know what hurt him so, what he could not tell his father. But he also knew, in his heart, that such an action would only serve to drive Legolas further away. He would have to be patient and catch him when the time was right.
"Thank-you Girion. Please have Belven continue to keep an eye on Legolas and to report to you whenever he goes into the forest, but under no circumstance is he to follow him. Report back to me in a few days."
"Yes, my lord." With that Girion left, heading to Belven's post to give him his orders.
For the next three days Belven kept a very close eye on Legolas, even in his off-duty hours. During the day Legolas seemed fine for the most part. He would smile and engage in conversation when spoken to, joking with old friends, visiting his usual haunts. At a glance the prince seemed to be unchanged and even when studied more closely the only visible change was that he was a little more serious, more withdrawn, than before he had left over a year ago following the summons of Elrond to Rivendell.
However, when night approached, Legolas would say goodnight to his father, waiting until the palace was asleep to slip off unnoticed, wandering deep into the forest until dawn, when he would slip back in as the dew began to glisten in the rays of the morning sun.
Girion returned to Thranduil with the news of Legolas' persistent new behavior, and Thranduil knew that he had to confront him. He had to find out what was going on, what was so distressing that his son could not confide in him. Night was beginning to fall and Thranduil crossed his fingers, hoping Legolas had not yet departed on his nightly trek. He found his son in his room staring dejectedly out of the window. Thranduil's heart lurched at the sight of him. Legolas looked as if he hadn't slept in weeks and the light in his eyes was almost gone. How could he have not noticed this before?
Thranduil walked slowly over to his bed and sat down next to him. "Legolas? Is everything alright ion-nin?"
As soon as he spoke Legolas jerked, false happiness fixing itself in his eyes as he smiled softly and nodded. "Yes Adar, everything is fine."
"If everything is alright then why have you been wandering off into the forest late at night when everyone else is a sleep?" Thranduil could only be blunt, there was no other way.
Legolas' eyes snapped open, guarded, darting to the possible exits like a cornered animal. "How do you know about that?"
Thranduil looked down unable to look his son in the eyes, shame filling his heart as he haltingly admitted, "I have had Belven watch you ever since Girion reported to me that you were seen returning at the crack of dawn three days ago." He stared into his son's eyes beseechingly. "What is happening Legolas. Please, I'm begging you, tell me?" Thranduil knew his son would be livid, fiercely protective over his freedom and sure enough Legolas jumped to his feet, eyes blazing.
Legolas could not believe what he just heard. His father was having someone spy on him?! Jumping to his feet he slammed his fist against the wall causing his father to flinch slightly. "You have no right sending someone to spy on me!" His breathing quickened as the walls of his room slowly pressed in around him. He had to get out of here.
Thranduil could feel his heart breaking. Legolas was hurting now. He could feel it, but why? "Legolas, ion-nin, please talk to me. What happened? You have always been able to talk to me, what has changed?" Thranduil was helpless, he could only watch his son as he panicked, in pain and distress.
Legolas turned towards his father, indecision seeping out of every pore. Could he tell his father? "I…" he started to say, tears falling down his cheeks. Then the memories hit, the pain renewed and his heart was filled with doubt. His father could never understand. The room shrank until he began to suffocate under the weight of its walls. Thranduil rose to take his son in his arms and Legolas panicked and bolted.
As he fled down the hall he heard his father faintly crying, "Legolas! Come back, please!"
There was no going back, not yet. He had to get far, far away from here, far from prying eyes and questions, somewhere where he could just forget for a little while. His feet carried him along familiar paths faster than he ever thought possible, hardly knowing where he was going.
Several elves barely had time to dodge the prince before he sprinted past in a blur, concern marring their fair faces as Thranduil followed, shouting after his son.
Legolas finally burst through the palace gate, making for the forest. The time for subtlety was over, he didn't care who saw him leave. He had to get out, get away. On he ran, his feet flying across the ground, instinctively carrying him to the same place he had been going every night. The place he had found by accident two weeks before when wandering, trying to find somewhere to be alone, were none could find him.
He had seen so much destruction, so much death and carnage. So much needless pain and suffering. He had encountered death before, but never on such a scale, never in such a violent, crippling form. It had created great rips in his spirit which he could not heal.
He skidded into his special place and once again it took his breath away. It was a beautiful sight. A huge grove of large beech trees overlooking a small stream. He felt a sense of peace fold around him like a blanket. Here, he felt safe. Safe from all the burdens of being a prince, and a warrior. Here he could just be himself and forget.
He climbed up the same tree he did every night, hands caressing the same branches, in the same spots. When he got to the top, he sat on one of the sturdier branches, and stared off into the horizon. He felt the tears beginning to return as his thoughts returned to his conversation with his father, despite his best efforts to put it from his mind. How could he tell him what happened? His father would never understand. No one would.
March 25, 3019
The sounds of steel against steel crashed in Legolas's ears as the battle rolled on. All around him people were being cut down like flies. Orcs, trolls, and men alike. This was the fight of their lives, a fight that Legolas knew would most likely end in death for the Free Peoples of Middle Earth. They had already lost. Frodo and Sam were dead, there was no hope of stopping Sauron now. But they could not stand by and do nothing. So they fought, and would fight until the breath was gone from the last of their bodies. They were outnumbered and outmatched but each man, elf and hobbit fought like one possessed, determined to take as many of these foul beasts down with them as they could.
Legolas looked around the battle field trying to find Aragorn. Aragorn had to survive. He was the only hope for the realm of men. The elves were fading and the age of man was soon to begin, an age that would not be long without Aragorn at its head. But not only for fate of mankind but for Arwen as well. Arwen, the most beautiful of all elves would not live long without her love. Finally, he spotted him fending off several orcs. Legolas concentrated all of his energy on making his way over to his friend so that they could fight side by side. He was assailed by enemies every step of the way, barely able to move for a snarling orc face and a cruel orc blade. For every meter of ground he made, Legolas had to kill uncountable orcs. Progress was slow, but progress it was. He had just finished taking down an Uruk-hai when he felt a searing pain in his thigh. His injured leg buckled beneath him and he fell to his knees coming face to face with an injured orc who grinned its last as it choked on its own blood, foul hand slipping off the dagger embedded in Legolas's flesh. Legolas pulled the dagger from his flesh with a roar of pain, twisting as he heard Aragorn's warning shout. "Legolas, behind you!" Legolas could only stare in horror as he saw the unmistakable outline of a black arrow coming straight at his face. He felt fear grip his limbs, the knowledge that he was about to die rooting him in place. And then out of nowhere came a body, flying through the air in front of him with a roar of defiance. And when the body had passed, the arrow was gone. Legolas lunged towards the owner of the yell, all pain forgotten, tears streaming down his face. "No!!" He choked on his sobs as he looked into the sightless eyes of his best friend, his best friend with an arrow through the heart. He shook that form, usually so full of life, hoping, praying, that the he would breathe again, light would return to his eyes and he'd leap up with a familiar war cry. But he just lay, cold and still, limbs stiffening in death's embrace.
Legolas barely noticed the shouts of amazement rising up from the army. The thunderous crash of Barad Dur collapsing to the ground and the roar of Mt. Doom were a thousand miles away, utterly muted. Sauron's forces began to flee and the Free Peoples of Middle Earth held up their weapons in joy, survivors clinging to each other in happiness. But all he could do was kneel over the body of his best friend and comrade; Gimli.
"Legolas? I know you are up there. Please come down."
Legolas jerked his head towards the sound and saw his father looking up at him, agitated, fresh tear tracks of worry tracing his cheeks. "Go away, please. I just want to be alone." He couldn't bear to tell him, every time he remembered the pain opened the wounds in his heart.
Thranduil however, would not leave. Could not leave. He could not just walk away when his son was in pain. And if Legolas would not come down, he would just have to go up. Sighing, he began to climb the tree and soon settled on the branch beside him. "Legolas, I am not going to leave until you tell me what is troubling you. I have been in enough battles myself to know that something has happened. The pain will only get worse if you torment yourself with it, keeping it locked away."
"Adar, you wouldn't understand me even if I did tell you. No one would." Legolas's head told him Thranduil made sense, but his heart screamed that he was alone, that no one could ever know or understand his pain.
"You're right Legolas, I won't understand. Not unless you tell me. I can't help you if you won't talk to me. Please, let me help you." Thranduil was almost at breaking point, he could not bear the pain of his son any longer.
As the tears began to flow once again, Legolas couldn't hold it in anymore. He recounted the tale, lost in its retelling, a torrent of tears rolling down his, face. The story came out in fits and starts as he relived that day. He did not notice his father's arms wrap around him, drawing him against his chest. He only saw Gimli's body there in front of him once again, lifeless. Eventually the tears began to slow and he sobbed into his father's chest "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him. He took an arrow for me."
"Who was it ion-nin?" Thranduil asked softly, rocking his son gently as he had done when Legolas was only an elfling.
Looking up at his father, tears falling softly from his eyes, he whispered, "Gimli, son of Gloin."
Thranduil just stared in unbelief. A dwarf, gave his life for an elf? He wouldn't have believed it in a million years if he hadn't of heard it from his own son's lips. His son saw the look on his face and sadly began to reminisce.
"At first Gimli and I hated each other deeply, but slowly we became the best of friends." Legolas smiled at a memory, and hiccupped. "He called me a pointy-eared elvish princeling."
Thranduil smiled at the innocent way the sentence just popped out of his son's mouth with a smile and a fresh wave of tears and placed his hands on his son's shoulders. "Look at me ion-nin."
Legolas looked at his father, trying to keep himself from sobbing again.
"I don't care if your friend was an elf, a dwarf or a man. He gave you back to me and I am forever grateful to him." Thranduil pulled his son into his arms again. "I will leave you be for a while to grieve, but I am always here for you no matter what. You can tell me anything, like you always have" Thranduil kissed his son's hair and slowly disentangled himself to climb down when his son grabbed him tighter.
"Ada, please stay with me for a while." His voice was small, almost like an elfling's and Thranduil folded him back into his embrace with a smile.
"Of course I will."
Legolas buried his face into his father's chest and sobbed, feeling like an elfling once again. Thranduil just held his son and watched the sun slowly sink in the sky, its dying rays bathing the land in fiery gold. And when his son was ready, they returned to the palace, together, and for the first time since that fateful day, Legolas truly felt at peace.