A Little Ray of Hope by AussieRo|
Title: A Little Ray of Hope
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters mentioned in the below drabble. They belong to Prof J.R.R Tolkien. I merely borrow them.
Summary: Will a child found on the borders of Ithilien bring to Legolas the one thing that is missing in his life?
Warning: Tissue Alert
Chapter 1 Shocks
It was early in the morning as Arwen, Queen of Gondor strode down the long corridor towards the kitchens of the Citadel of Minas Tirith. It was just past dawn and by rights the staff would be getting breakfast ready for her, Estel and Eldarion, but with other duties needing her attention Arwen had decided it would be best to tackle the cook now, rather than waiting till later. The menu for the upcoming banquet needed to be finalised and quickly.
Nearing the kitchens, Arwen suddenly became aware the area was quiet, too quiet in fact. There were no hisses as liquids came to the boil, no rattling of pans, jugs or plates. No nothing, just silence.
A silence that just at that moment was broken by an almighty scream of pain. A scream filled with such pain, sorrow and terror that it caused the Queen to lift her skirts, and in a most unqueenly like display run into the kitchen, fear in her heart and in her eyes, that one or more of the kitchen staff had in some way cut or burned themselves seriously.
The main work area was deserted, not a soul in sight. Even the stove was not yet fired up. The only sign that there was life in the kitchens that Arwen could detect were noises coming from the largest of the storage rooms.
Purposefully Arwen made her way across to the storage area. Her only thought was to discover just what was going on and why the kitchens were abandoned.
She was just about to open her mouth to vent her concerns when the full room came into her line of vision.
The sight before her left Arwen shocked and speechless.
Sitting in his study Elessar, King of Gondor, or Estel to his closest friends and family, stared at the message in his hands. The courier who delivered messages twice daily had just left, disposing on the table before the king a pile of missives. As was his normal practice Elessar scanned them all briefly and sorted them into priority order.
Most where just responses to the invitations he and Arwen had sent out a week or so ago. Eldarion’s first birthday was rapidly approaching. He and Arwen had planned a big party to celebrate. Buried half way down in the pile was a message bearing very familiar markings. The markings of the Elf colony in Ithilien.
Reaching out for it, Estel tore the seal and let his eyes scan the message. Instead of finding words of gladness and good tidings, however, all he read were words of urgency and panic. It was a call for help. Legolas was in trouble and needed help. Urgently.
Panic rose within the chest of the King as his imagination ran away with him. His brother would not call for his aid in this fashion unless something really terrible had happened, or was about to happen.
Visions of Elves lying across the commons and fields of Ithilien played across his mind, Legolas in the foreground , multiple wounds across his body, all bleeding heavily, draining the very life essence of the elf away. Fire’s raging out of control, unknown enemies swarming over the beautiful principal city of the colony. A cold sweat broke out across the Kings brow, his breathing became uncontrolled and his heart raced faster within his chest than he could ever remember. In front of his eyes, his hands crushed the message page into a small ball.
The hurried footsteps of his beloved wife and Queen settled Estel’s panic slightly. There was nothing like her presence to calm him down.
"Estel…!" Arwen said, firmness and determination evident in her tone. That all changed with the first glance into the face of her King and husband "Estel, what is wrong?"
"Legolas is in trouble." Estel replied simply. He unrumpled the page and handed it to Arwen. "He needs my help." He rose. "I have to go."
The events she had witnessed in the kitchens were wiped from her memory as Arwen hurried to aid her husband with the preparations he needed to make in order to be by Legolas’s side in the shortest possible time.
Chapter 2 Fear forgotten and Joy Found.
Confusion played across the King of Gondors face as he stopped his horse at the top of the small hill that overlooked the Ithilien colony.
Below, everything appeared normal. The Elves that had chosen to come with Legolas and start a new life seemed to be going about their daily business without a care in the world. Nothing, no one thing seemed out of place. If the colony had suffered some misfortune, then nobody was letting on.
Granted, from his position he could not see Legolas anywhere, and Estel was not sure in his mind whether that was a good thing or a bad one.
The sight of the human King riding into the settlement was not a novelty anymore. The Elves of Ithilien were fully aware by now of the strong bond between their Lord and the King of Gondor, so they continued on with their normal daily activities. Those whose paths he crossed bowed their heads to him but none stopped to stare at their visitor.
Carnil, Legolas’s Guard Commander and chief advisor hurried forth to greet the King.
"My Lord Elessar." The Guard Commander bowed respectfully. "You received Lord Legolas’s message."
"I did, Carnil. Is he all right? The note just said that he need help .No specifics." Estel gazed around the settlement again. Still nothing looked out of place.
"Yes, sorry about that my Lord." Carnil blushed. "Bad choice of words on behalf of my Lord Legolas. Physically he is well.."
At those words Estel released the breath he had been holding, it seemed, since earlier in the morning.
"But there is a matter in which he does need your …" Carnil paused, trying to find the correct words to say that would not worry the human King further. "Guidance , your advice. Come, I will take you to him."
Relived that his brother was in no danger, Estel followed the commander, his levels of curiosity rising. For the life of him he could not figure just what it was that Legolas, who was centuries older then he, would need his help with.
The musical sound of Elven laughter floated out of the room Legolas had set aside as his study. Elven laugher mixed in with it another sound, the higher pitched excited laughter of a child. A human child.
As Estel entered the room, he was greeted by the sight of his nearly three thousand year old friend down on all fours in the middle of the floor , bouncing a small human girl child on his back. His male laughter mixed in with the girls childish squeals and squeaks of joy. The scene brought tears of mirth to Estel's eyes and shortly another laugh entered the mix. He had seen and caught his brother in some rather unusual and funny situations before, but this one took the cake.
The sound of Estel’s laughter caused Legolas to look up and acknowledge the intruder.
"Estel!" He greeted his friend and then to the child said. "Time to get down for the moment and greet our guest."
The small child, no more than four Estel guessed, smiled to his brother and grabbed his waist in a hug, the highest point she could reach when Legolas stood to his full height. Her light brown eyes in his direction, smiled briefly and then half hid behind Legolas’s legs.
"Do not be afraid." Legolas encouraged as he knelt down to the little girl’s height. "My brother would not hurt you.."
The girl child looked once again at the Gondorian King and shied once again closer to the Elf Lord.
"Come on, Saraha." he encouraged her . "This man is my brother, his name is Elessar, and I have known him for a very long time. He would never do anything to hurt me, nor would he hurt you."
The child, Saraha, gave Legolas’s face one last long searching look before coming out from behind his legs and presenting to the Human King the most enchanting smile and a very respectable curtsey for one so young.
"Elessar is our King." Saraha said with the boldness of her age. "But you called him Es…Estel."
Both Legolas and Estel smiled. For all the years, and all the name changes the King of Men had gone through, to Legolas at least he still remained Estel.
"I knew Estel long before he was King." Legolas explained to the child.
"Ohh!." The explanation seemed to satisfy the child, who immediately let loose a wide yawn.
"Come on," Legolas said, scooping the tired child into his arms. "Time for pen-tithens to be in bed."
"Will you tell me a story?" The sleepy voice asked from his shoulder.
The small blonde head slumped against the Elf Prince’s chest. Legolas had just finished his third Elven lullaby when Saraha’s droopy eyelids finally closed completely
A feeling of total calm overwhelmed Estel, and not just because of little Saraha’s gentle breathing. His chosen brother seemed more at peace, more happy within himself and his Elven glow radiated about him illuminating the room. Legolas’s heart had been captured. Captured by the little four year old girl now resting against him.
Legolas bent down, kissed the golden head and then gently lifted Saraha off his chest , laid her down on the pillow and drew the cover up and over her.
Quietly, so as not to wake the sleeping child, the two old friends existed the room.
"How did…" Estel began to ask when the two had settled down in Legolas’s study.
"By total accident, Estel" Legolas replied as he handed his chosen brother a glass of his father’s best wine. "We found her two days ago on our western border."
"Abandoned?" Estel asked incredulously. He did not want to believe that anyone within his realm would knowingly leave their four year old daughter alone in the wilderness.
"No, Estel, not abandoned." Legolas said emphatically as he sat down opposite his brother. "She was hidden, purposely hidden. We almost missed her. It was chance rather then good management that we found her. Saraha was hidden in some rather dense bushes and further covered with leaves. Some one meant for her not to be found. There were not even any signs of foot prints in the area."
"And you would like me to make enquires?" Estle asked gently.
"It would seem the right path to take, Estel. Some one hid her, they could be looking for her right now," Legolas admitted. "In the meantime, the real reason I asked you to come was, there are a few things I was hoping you could help me with."
"Anything," Estel responded eagerly.
"We here can provide clothes, food, shelter, protection.. and .." he hesitated. "Love… but look around, Estel. The last Elven child most of my people ever saw was…"
"You," The human King finished.
Legolas nodded. "We have no toys, no books, nothing suitable for her. I cannot keep telling her stories or singing songs to her forever in a language she does not understand."
Estel nodded, understanding just what it was Legolas was requiring of him.
"I will send a message to Arwen right away. It may take a day or two, but they will come."
"Hannon le, Estel," Legolas said relief in his voice. Your room is ready and waiting for you, if you would like to freshen up before the evening meal." He than added with a twinkle in his eye, "Unless you have reverted back to your ranger ways now that you are no longer in your White City."
The only retort the Princes little jibe elicited from the King was a clip to the back of the head.
"Would you care to join us for an early morning ride tomorrow, Estel? It looks like it will be a fine clear morning."
Bright and early the next morning, Estel found himself on Brego’s back trotting along side Arod, with both Legolas and Saraha on his back. Legolas as ever looked at home on the silver stallion’s back. Saraha on the other hand looked small and a little lost.
"I am thinking of sending to Eomer." Legolas said, as the pair continued their morning exercise. "Asking if he could arrange for a suitable pony for her."
"Sounds like a plan, my brother. And in the meantime, your parcel from Minas Tirith should be arriving some time today."
"Ada!" Saraha squeaked in delight as the box before her opened. Wonder filled the little girl’s eyes as each new treasure opened up to her. A golden haired doll was lifted in the air and then squeezed in childs hug. More delights quickly followed, a soft material ball of many colours, large enough to be thrown by a child, but soft enough not the break anything. One cleaver wood turner had created a small carriage on wheels pulled along by a wooden horse. Large enough for Saraha to put her new doll in and drag along.
Another smaller box revealed books, many various books filled with children’s stories, poems and songs. Enough for many nights of bedtime stories.
Moving as fast as her Elven dress would permit the child jumped up and flew to Legolas’s side wrapping her small arms about his waist.
The blue eyes that looked down on the small human were filled with such love that Elessar had really seen. The peace and tranquillity of the mood was such that he too was captured by it.
Saraha’s laugh again caught his attention. Legolas was holding , what Elessar know regarded as his daughter, and was swinging her around and around. To the King the sound was one of the most beautiful things he had ever heard, and the action Saraha took next one of the most beautiful he had ever seen The child wrapped her arms around his brothers neck, kissed his check and said
"I love you Ada."
Surprised Estel stared at the little girl. Not only had she picked up Elvish in her short stay with the Ithilien Elves, but she was calling Legolas ‘father’.
A good sign seeing as how he had been unable to locate a single living relative of Saraha’s.
Chapter 3 Blood and More Shocks
Once again there was a note in Estel’s ‘to be worked with pile’ that had the seal of Ithilien Unlike its predecessor, this was not in Legolas’s fine hand, this hand was coarser and in a definite hurry. This message came from Carnil.
After the interesting reaction the Elf guard had witnessed with the previous message requesting the human King’s aid, this note began with the phrase
‘This time it is for real.’
‘Lord Legolas and Saraha attacked, Saraha almost taken. The little girl is safe but Lord Legolas is injured.’
Short and to the point, but enough to make each and every hair on the back of the human King’s neck stand on end. When it came to his family; Arwen, Eldarion, Elrond his foster father, Elladan and Elrohir his foster twin brothers, and Legolas, and by extension those who were important to members of his family, Estel was not the best at keeping his emotions in check.
The council of Gondor that he was supposed to be chairing was cancelled. Mounted on Brego, the one horse he still trusted the most, Estel headed out toward the Elven colony.
Carnil met him at the Great Meeting Hall.
"There was a small problem this morning as my Lord and the little girl were taking their morning ride," the Guard Commander began.
"What kind of problem?" Estel asked, his nerves still on edge.
"My Lord and Saraha were attacked by a group of five or six men. From what my men who were accompanying Lord Legolas said, it seemed as if Saraha was the one that they were after."
"That is the one thing in all of this that makes no sense at all." Carnil continued as the pair slowly made their way up the stairs. "It is possible that my Lord, in some part of his earlier life," the Guard Commander looked pointedly at the human King
Estel reddened under Commander Carnil’s gaze.
"May have met these men before, he finished. "But Saraha? She, she is so young. So innocent."
Estel smiled. To the Elves, even a mortal of his years seemed young. There were times when even he forgot just how old his chosen brother and the rest of his people were.
The pair were now outside the same room in which only two weeks ago Estel, had watched and listened as Legolas sang and told that beautiful story.
Now he was here again, but this time for a more serious and deadly reason.
"It may appear bad," Carnil warned him. "But it is not really. My Lord was hit on the back of the head rather hard. Our healer said he will be all right. The problem is he has not yet awoken ."
For any Elf, especially with their advanced healing abilities, a small tap on the head like that Carnil had just described should not keep them out for that long.
"Unscathed, my Lord Elessar, thanks to my Lord Legolas."
"The ones who did this?"
"Handled by our guards. They will never again try to take Saraha."
Carnil pulled back the silvery veil that separated Legolas’s private quarters from the rest of the complex and allowed Estel to procede him.
Legolas lay on the bed in the centre of the room. Natural light streamed through the uncovered windows, making him seem paler the he normally was. The white bloodstained linen that was wrapped around his head did not help his appearance in any way. Of Saraha there was no sign.
"It was decided to keep her away from all this," Carnil said from behind the King. "She was upset enough after what happened. It was thought best not to upset her any more."
Sitting on the bed close to Legolas’s bandaged head, Estel felt out of place. He normally was the one who saw to the binding of the Princes wounds, to the cleaning of the open cuts wherever they were on his body and to smoothing the salve on to the bruises. Not someone else.
"What is this, my brother?" He asked quietly, gently running his fingers across the bloodied portion of the linen. "Getting hurt without me being there?"
The weak jibe was meant to stir Legolas enough to answer him with an equally weak response.
"Ada!" A small figure darted in and out of the adult legs and made a beeline for the bed. "Ada, wake up." The child gripped Legolas’s hand and began to shake it . "Please Ada, wake up."
When the unconscious Elf Prince still did not respond to her Saraha dropped his hand and before any of the adults could stop her wrapped her arms about his neck her head resting against his face.
Tears, were flowing down her face.
"Ada please." The small voice begged. "Please do not leave me, not like before, please." She buried her face into Leoglas’s neck. Her tears flowing down the Elf’s pale skin.
On the side of the bed Estel’s heart broke. The child, who had only known his brother for a matter of a week or two, had already formed such an emotional attachment to him that watching the events before him was tearing him apart. That and his own fears for Legolas.
His chosen brother never usually took so long to wake up from a simple bump to his head. He worried that there might be some further damage that the elf healers had missed. Possibly even a second injury to another part of his body. Had anybody, he thought to himself, even bothered to check?
The tear filled eyes of Sarah turned to him.
"Why does he not wake up?" She asked between her sobs. "Make him wake up please. I do not want him to die, like…" She broke off.
"Like who little one?" He asked gently. "Your family?"
Sarah just nodded and turned back to the unconscious Elf Prince.
Pieces of Sarah’s recent past fell into place. She had been hidden for a reason, and more urgently, she had seen one or more members of her family murdered. If, and it was only an if, Legolas did not survive the cost to the little one would be enormous. Possibly of the kind she would never recover from.
Reaching out and cupping his brothers cheek in his hand he tried again to call to the injured elf.
"You are really scaring us now my brother. Sarah is in tears and you are giving me grey hairs here." He said "Please wake up my brother, wake up for those who want to be with you, those who want to see you tall and healthy again and those who love you so very much."
With his appeal to Legolas out ,all Elessar could do was rest his forehead against the unconscious Prince’s and wait.
The hand that clasped the back of his neck surprised him. Lifting his head he was relived and overjoyed to see two blue, if a little foggy ,eyes looking into his.
"Welcome back." The emotionally spent King said.
Legolas nodded, his mouth was too dry and he was too tired to say anything other than
For Elessar that one word spoke volumes.
"Ada!" The happy , joyful voice of Sarah broke into his thoughts. Moving back slightly he allowed the child full access to Legolas. The reunion between the child and, the one whom he now considered, her father was so special. The love Sarah had for his brother was overwhelming. To his mind there was not doubt, Sarah looked on his chosen brother as her father.
"My King, My Queen." Faramir, Lord of South Ithilien bowed before the royal couple.
Beside him stood a lady of mature standing whom both Estel and Arwen recognized as the Lady Argartha, wife of one of Gondor’s most senior and respected land owners Lord Markin. The lady look dreadful, fading bruises covered her face and her left arm was strapped tightly to her chest.
"My Lord Elessar, my Lady Arwen," Lady Argartha said as she curtseyed as best her injures would allow. "I come seeking your help."
Estel rose and gently waved the injured lady in the direction of a chair.
My husband, son, daughter-in- law, granddaughter and I were attacked on our way back to our home over a month ago." The lady began. "My husband was killed in the attack along with our son. I was found by some of Lord Faramir's men and taken to his home, where I have remained ever since. My Lord I seek your help in trying to find what became of my daughter in law and my granddaughter. We were separated after the attack you see." A sob broke the Lady’s voice . "I do not know if they are alive or dead. Please I beg you, my Lord, help me find out what happened to them. They are all the family I have left."
"Of course, Lady Argartha." Arwen rose and stood beside her husband. "We will do all we can, but first we need something to go on. If you could give us the names of your daughter- in- law and your granddaughter."
"Yes, my Lady." Lady Argartha paused and then continued. "Marget is my daughter- in –law and Saraha is my granddaughter."
Estel and Arwen glanced at each other, sadness in their eyes as Lady Argartha mentioned her granddaughter’s name.
Lady Argartha caught the look and asked,
"My Lord, My Lady, what is it? Do you know something?" Panic laced her tone
Estel took a deep breath.
"Of your daughter I am afraid we know nothing, but as to your granddaughter, she is safe and well and in the personal care of the Elf Lord of Ithilien himself."
Chapter 4 Ponderings and a Plan.
Arwen sat in the great hall of the citadel of Minas Tirith pondering the events of the last few days. She wondered what was happening in the forests of Ithilien, what her husband was doing and above all how Legolas was faring.
Two days had passed since she and the Lady Argartha had returned from Ithilien, and yet Estel had not yet returned.
From his continued absence, Arwen could only draw the conclusion that Legolas had not taken well the loss of Saraha. The Gondorian Queen smiled sadly to herself as the few images locked within her memory of the Elf Lord of Ithilien and the little blonde mortal child who had totally and utterly captured his heart played before her eyes.
Lady Argartha and her granddaughter had since departed for their own home. Both needed time now to get their lives back in order and find a way to go on living, while the knowledge of what had happened to the other members of their family haunted them. Both were strong, of this Arwen had no doubt. Both women, the older Argartha and the young Saraha, would find a way to cope.
But would the Elf Prince?
Tears fell down the Gondorian Queens face as the moment of reunion between grandmother and granddaughter played once again in her mind’s eye.
Estel had ridden ahead to brief and perhaps prepare Legolas for what was about to come. She and the Lady Argartha had ridden to Ithilien together in the royal carriage and were at least fifteen minutes behind the King.
Legolas, Saraha and Estel were waiting for them outside Legolas’s flet as the coach pulled up. Saraha in one of the finest Elven dresses in her particular size that Arwen had ever seen. She was standing in front of Legolas, her hands over his. Legolas’s face was mask, a mask that no emotions could penetrate. But Arwen who had known Legolas all his life knew just where to look to see those emotions. His eyes. Those blue eyes carried the all the pain and the turmoil that the Prince could not express anywhere else.
On first sight of her grandmother Saraha had broken away from Legolas, crying "Nana, Nana," and had flung herself into Lady Argartha’s arms. The reunion was beautiful and at the same time so very painful to watch. The uncontained joy in Argatha’s eyes was matched by the overwhelming pain in Legolas’s. Lady Argatha had very warmly thanked the Elf Prince for watching over and taking care of her grandchild, and had promised that she would bring Saraha back to Ithilien wherever she could.
On reflection, Legolas had not really been himself, not since his father and the majority of the Elven population of Eryn Lasgalen had finally departed over the seas to the Undying Lands. Then Saraha had come into his life, and a joy that Arwen had not seen since that day had returned to his blue eyes. If it was at all possible he had appeared younger
The next thought that entered her head was so simple, and yet so obvious the Queen wondered why it had not occurred to her before.
Legolas needed some one to love! Someone to love unconditionally and to be loved in return.
The pair had barely been together for a month, but what a month. A month in which it had seemed that the Elf Lord had known the same sort of love as he had known in Mirkwood long before the War of the Ring, before Estel had come into his life, and for a brief period before Greenwood had become Mirkwood.
That she, Estel, Gimli, Faramir, Eowyn and Eomer loved Legolas was not in doubt, nor was the fact that the Elf Prince loved them all back just as fiercely. That was a given and would never, never change. Nor would the love Legolas had for the forests of Ithilien and above all for his people.
What her husband’s brother needed was to once again know that kind of love. To know the kind of love and joy that Eldarion gave to and received from his parents.
A plan began to take shape within her mind. A plan that if plotted out and executed correctly would bring back the missing joy to Legolas, and give something to one other that she needed so desperately.
For her plan to work Arwen knew she would need luck, every shred of diplomatic skill she had learned in the years she had spent with her grandmother, and Estel.
The pounding of heavy, weary footsteps against the marble floor of the hall announced the arrival of the King of Gondor. His clothes were filthy and ruffled, his hair, not usually known for its neatness was even more unruly than normal, there were deep and dark bags under his grey eyes that spoke of tiredness and his general deportment spoke of worry and failure.
He bent down and kissed his wife tenderly on the cheek and then with a deep sigh Estel sank into the chair pulled out for him by one of the servants, his head bowed.
Arwen rose and stood behind her husband, her hands on his shoulders gently kneading the tension out of his very tense shoulders and neck. There was no need to ask just what the cause of Estel’s tension was, she had seen it too many times in the past. Estel always got this way when he was worried and concerned about his brother.
The need to ask the ‘what’ and ‘who’ questions did not apply. So instead she simply asked,
"How is he?"
"Not good." Estel replied his eyes meeting Arwen. "When he is out in the community nothing appears wrong. But when he is alone," The King shook his head. "He is fading my, love. The life in his eyes is gone. He feels so alone, so ….. lost. Saraha filled a void in his life, a gap that none of us could. Legolas knows that reuniting Saraha with her grandmother was the right thing to do. Right in so many ways for the girl, but it has left him shattered and broken." Estel lowered his head into his hands. "And I do not know what to do to help him, what words to use with him that would ease the pain of her going, what actions to take that will lift him out of the mire that seeing Saraha back with Argartha plunged, him and by default the whole colony into."
"Where is he now?" Arwen asked. "Estel, he is not alone, is he?"
The exasperated look Estel gave her caused Arwen to regret even allowing the question to cross her mind.
"No, my love." Estel reached up and patted her hand gently. "Eowyn is with him, and Faramir and Carnil are seeing to the smooth, daily running of the colony."
Arwen acknowledged the news with a simple nod of her head and continued the gentle kneading she was applying to Estel’s shoulders.
"Estel?" Arwen began gently after a few moments of silence had passed between he couple
"Hmmm?" the Gondorian King replied a little sleepily
"What if there was a way to give Legolas back his joy? Do you think he would take it? Do you think he would be open to loving another mortal child, one that we could both be certain would never be taken from him?"
Estel’s head shot up at his wife’s question, the tiredness and fatigue in his eyes, temporarily at least, gone.
"Just what are you saying, my love?"
In response Arwen held out her hand.
"Come with me, my husband and I will show you."
Slightly bewildered, Estel could do nothing but follow behind her as Arwen led him through the maze of corridors and stairs of the citadel, until the royal couple arrived in the kitchens.
With questioning eyes he watched as his Queen stopped beside one of the numerous wicker baskets in the room, knelt down beside it and then rose, a bundle clutched gently to her chest.
In her arms Arwen held a…
"Yes, Estel." Arwen said looking between her husband and the bundle cradled in her arms.
"But, how?…" The king spluttered. "Who?…. When?…."
"She was born in the kitchens a month ago," Arwen began
"A girl?" Estel asked.
The baby was so snugly wrapped he could make out no details of the child except for the tufts of deep red hair on her head and the deep green eyes that stared up at him, taking in his facial expression.
"Yes, Estel, a girl. Her mother crept in some how during the night. None of the staff knew her. When the staff arrived to begin the early shift the next morning, there she was, and in labour. She had been for some time. The staff arrived just in time to witness the birth and to watch the mother die. They have been caring for the child even since." Arwen ran a gentle finger across the little girls cheek. "She needs someone to love her, Estel, someone to be there for her. She is a month old and still without a name. The staff just call her ‘that poor little thing’."
"What about her father?" Estel enquired, as a tiny hand reached out and grasped his offered little finger.
"From what little information some of the staff could gather her mother was…." Arwen paused, not really wanting to repeat what she had been told.
Estel nodded as he grasped just what it was his Queen did not want to mention.
"The father, in all probability, never even knew he was going to be a father." Arwen drew the blanket back a bit further from the area around the little girls head. "And is most likely not even in Arda anymore."
Puzzled at the last comment made by his wife, Estel peered more closely at the child, and then drew back, part in shock and part in amazement.
The baby in Arwen’s arms was half Elven.
Chapter 5 Acceptance.
Eowyn smiled faintly as she stepped out of the great meeting hall of the Elven colony in Ithilien and towards not only her King and Queen, but her friends. In her arms was her six month old son Eomair.
"My Lord, my Lady." The Shield Maiden of Rohan greeted the couple formally and then accepted a peck on the cheek from Estel and exchanged pecks with Arwen. Having received a message earlier from the King that he, Arwen and a special visitor were on their way, she was not surprised. Her curiosity got the better of her and she could not resist a peak at the bundle held securely in Arwen's arms.
"This is the surprise visitor?" The Lady of Ithilien asked as she pushed back the blanket covering the little girl. When Arwen nodded, she continued, "She is so beautiful."
"And not one bit of trouble," Arwen said proudly. "She slept the whole way here, not one peep did either of us hear from her."
Knowing better then to interrupt women when they were discussing babies, Estel patiently waited and then asked,
"How is he, Eowyn?"
"Sad," Eowyn replied. "A little lonely. He spends most of his time in his private study surrounded by the toys Saraha played with." Eowyn glanced toward the Queen. "The ones you arranged for her, and something else. Something I have never seen before."
"What?" Concern deepend in the Kings voice. He did not like the sound of that.
"A necklace, I think," Eowyn said. "A gold chain and a sort of …teardrop vial.. is the best way I can think of to describe it."
"Like this ?" Arwen asked, and produced a necklace from around her own neck.
"Yes," Eowyn answered firmly "But smaller." Eowyn stared for a moment at Arwen’s bauble. A beautiful light swirled around within the vial giving off flashes of pink, blue and milky white. "And empty."
Estel took the little vial in his hand and studied it. The light he had seen once before. It was the same light that the Lady Galadriel had given to Frodo when the Fellowship left Lothlorien during the Quest of the Ring. The light of Earendil.
"This was given to me at my naming ceremony." Arwen explained as she took the vial from her husband and held it in her own hands. " I have not seen an empty one for nearly three thousand years. This one," she held her vial out to Estel and Eowyn, " was the second last one ever made. The last hangs around Legolas’s neck. I thought the skill to make them had long since vanished from this land."
"Naming ceremony?" Eowyn asked, her comprehension a little off. She still had trouble dealing with the years counted by the Elves.
" Like a human acknowledgement ceremony" the Queen explained. "Once a year, in fact very soon now, our great star Earendil sweeps across the sky very close to Arda. At that time every newborn Elf child is introduced to the star. It is an acknowledgement. They may have a name, but it is not official until the child is presented to Earendil. The second part of the ceremony involves gathering the light of the star in vials such as this." Again she held up her teardrop vial.
"But no baby could wear a necklace so big," Eowyn protested. "It would never stay on."
"Elf magic," Arwen answered mysteriously, only continuing when the exasperated expressions of her companions got to her. "The vial grows as the child grows, it stops growing when the child stops growing." Her laughter rang around the grounds. "Did you truly think we were all born as we are?"
"And you think Legolas was planning to have such a ceremony for Saraha?"
"It is possible," Arwen admitted. "It seems almost a given that he was planning to adopt her." She paused "When these are made, a special ingredient is used. A single tear from each parent., this signifies the love each parent has for their child and a promise to always nurture and protect that child."
While Arwen was finishing up her explanation to Eowyn, Estel headed in the direction of Legolas’s study. Legolas did not know of this visit, and Estel wanted to be the one to explain the situation to his brother.
"How are things with you my brother?" Estel asked as he entered the room and found Legolas seated in his chair at the head of the meeting table. Saraha’s toys and books spread out before him
"Well enough, Estel thank-you." Legolas replied, as he briefly looked up to see who was breaking into his privacy. As quickly as his head went up, it went back down again. He did not want his brother seeing the real truth in his eyes
Not in anyway fooled Estel knelt beside the Elf Lord , carefully gripped Legolas’s chin in his hands and lifted the elf’s head till he could look straight into those very pained, unhappy blue eyes.
"This is me, Legolas, remember?" he said gently. "No secrets, no hidden truths."
"I know, Estel, I know, and believe me you will never know how grateful I am for that."
"So please, talk to me, let it out."
" I miss her, Estel," Legolas said truthfully, the teardrop vial twisting gently through his fingers. "It is so empty here, so quiet. Saraha made me feel …" He shock his head ."So..
"Alive? "Estel finished gently. "Wanted? Needed?" He gently squeezed Legolas’s hands . "My brother you have so much love to give. More , so much more than Arwen, Eldarion, ,Eowyn, Faramir, Eomair, Eomer, Lothiriel, Gimli and I can ever accept. You fill us all to overflowing and still there is more so much more to give. "He looked his brother squarely in the eyes. " Is there enough left , even after what has happened, for one who needs that kind of love more than any of us? One who has no one to love her and needs some one to so very badly?"
"Who, Estel?" Legolas asked cautiously.
"One who is all alone, who is very small and needs one such as you with all that love to spare to depend on. One who at this point in time has no name of her own," the human King replied openly, hiding nothing
Looking down at the teardrop vial he was still holding Legolas pondered all that his brother had asked. It was a lot Estel was asking of him so soon after Saraha’s departure.
"I know no one could replace Saraha in your heart, and no one is asking you too.’ Estel continued gently after a moment of silence.
Legolas’s thoughts at that precise moment in time were as an open book to him. His brother’s emotions were so easy to read.
"This little one just needs but a small amount of that love."
In Legolas’s hands the vial he was still holding winked as the light streaming in caught one of its many edges.
Slowly and with out any words being spoken Legolas nodded.
A cautious smile broke across Estel’s face. One small step had just been taken. The biggest hurdle, though, still had to be overcome. Nodding to the guard at the door Estel stepped to one side as Arwen accompanied by Eowyn, Faramir, Eomer , Gimli and a pregnant Lothiriel entered. The little girl was still securely held in Arwen’s arms. The blanket pulled back from her face and head.
Green eyes gazed around their new surroundings in wonder.
Without hesitation Arwen moved toward Legolas’s side, and placed the baby in his arms.
Every one in the room held their breath
The only sound that could be heard was that of the infant girl gurgling.
Legolas looked down in wonder at the little one that the Queen of Gondor had placed in his arms. Green eyes, greener than any leaf he had ever seen, gazed up at him in wonder. He ran his hand over the red hair, so soft to the touch, he laughed as one little hand escaped the confines of it’s blanket and snagged his long hair, pulling it ever so slightly. He gently stroked the not quite rounded ear of the girl and looked curiously at Arwen.
As if hearing the question on another frequency from everyone else in the room Arwen nodded yes.
Tears flowed freely, and not just from the women in the room when Legolas lifted the little girls head to his lips and gently kissed it.
"Middle Earths newest Elven resident is an orphan no longer," Estel announced quietly to the group. "She now has a home in the best location to understand both sides of her heritage."
The excellent relations between the two colonies of Ithilien would ensure that the little girl learnt of both sides of her nature.
The group split in two so that Legolas could pass and present his new daughter to her people.
Chapter 6. Name Giving.
It was a far different Legolas who walked toward the lake on the clear, warm night. Gone was the pain and the loneliness that had set in only hours after Saraha had left with her grandmother. Striding toward the human King he looked and acted much more like the Legolas that Estel had known for the majority of his adult life.
The teardrop vial meant for Saraha had been put away until such time that she and her grandmother paid their first visit back to the Elven colony.
A new vial had been made in the little one’s honour. Estel, Arwen, Eowyn and Faramir had been witness to its creation, probably the last time its like would ever be created in Arda ever again. Having never seen one made , let alone knowing that they existed, Estel was proud and thrilled that Legolas had invited his human friends to witness the construction. He was even prouder when along with Arwen and Eowyn he was asked to contribute a tear to the process. For one who was born into a world devoid of parental love or support, the little girl was now overflowing with it.
Legolas, of course was her father, For the role left vacant by the death of her mother, the Elf Prince had asked Eowyn if she would mind doing it Eowyn had for her part had said yes with out a moments hesitation. It was an ideal arrangement as far as Estel could see. Legolas’s daughter would have the best of both worlds under the agreement. From her father and his people she would learn of and about her Elven heritage and from Eowyn and the human settlers of the South Ithilien colony she would be taught about her human side.
His and Arwen’s parts in the agreement were as backups. Legolas had requested that if anything ever happened to him, that the royal couple look after her and continue his daughters lessons. Both of them had agreed without hesitation.
Above the gathered crowed the Great Elven star shone bright against the plush black velvet backdrop of the sky. Everything that was needed was in place.
Arwen and Eowyn were ready and waiting by the edge of the crystal clear pool that formed one end of the common area of the Elf colony. Clasped jointly in their hands was the precious teardrop vial. Legolas had explained that both parents played a part in the ceremony. One parent presents the child to the star while the other catches the rays in the teardrop vial.
Estel’s role in the whole ceremony was a minor one. He would accompany Legolas and his daughter to the pond. Faramir, Gimli, Eomer and Lothiriel were standing to the right along with Eldarion and Eomair. Around and behind them the Elves of Ithilien stood in family groups. This night was above all about families.
Earendil reached its zenith, the star’s image reflecting in the still clear water. The time had come.
Legolas stopped before the King. His Elven glow complimenting his tunic made in the colours of the colony. In his arms he held his daughter, the red of her hair and the green of her eyes also complimented by the gown she was wearing, again in the colonies colours.
"Hannon le Estel" Legolas said as he gently moved his daughter, allowing his right hand to grip the human Kings left shoulder "For everything."
The gesture brought to mind his coronation, when their roles had been reversed. He could not help but smile.
"No thanks are necessary between, us my brother," he responded gently stroking the little ones head. "I only ever wanted your happiness." The hand he placed behind Legolas’s right shoulder now gave the elf a gentle nudge. "Come on, this little one has been without a name for far too long."
With the chosen mothers of his daughter to his left and his chosen brother to his right, Legolas, Elf Lord of Ithilien and Prince of Eryn Lasgalen, held his daughter to the Great Elven Star. One ray of pure while light streamed downward bathing the small group in its glow.
For one moment both the Elven and non Elven members of the small group glowed under the star’s light. Then in a clear and firm voice that could be heard by all present Legolas announced to Earendil and the to community at large.
"With the blessing of , and by the wishes of the Valar I present to you Elendail, and to the whole Ithilien community, Melyanna of Ithilien." Then after kissing his daughter’s forehead and in a voice just audible to those closest to him he added "A dear gift for all of us."