A Greenleaf in Winter by Deana Lisi|
No summary given.
Disclaimer: I don't own any LOTR characters. I do however own the name of 'Linwë' for Legolas' mother, since Tolkien never named her!
King Thranduil woke to a sudden moan. He looked at his wife, who slept in his arms. "Linwë?" he said, concerned. "What is it?"
The queen's eyes were open, and she looked up at him, confused. She shifted a little, placing one hand on her pregnant belly. "I…I do not know," she said. "I was asleep, and a sudden pain woke me."
Thranduil sat up, looking at her and placing a hand over hers. "Are you in pain now?" he asked, worriedly. It is much too soon! he thought.
Linwë shook her head. "No."
Thranduil inwardly sighed with relief. "Perhaps you were dreaming of our elfling's birth?"
Linwë frowned, thinking. "I cannot recall."
Thranduil lay down beside her again. "Let us see if it happens again," he said, gently. In truth, his heart was beating faster than he could count, but he had to show calm for Linwë's sake.
The two elves lay quietly for a while, hands clasped together. About ten minutes passed, and just when they were believing that it had been a dream, Linwë gave a loud gasp and grasped her stomach. "Thranduil!" she exclaimed, in fear.
The King had already jumped out of the bed and slid his arms under his wife, lifting her and rushing out of the room. "Elrond!" he shouted, not knowing or caring what time it was.
The Lord of Imladris opened the door to his bedchamber, looking sleep-disheveled but alert.
"The child comes!" Thranduil said, not stopping as he carried his wife down the hall.
Elrond blinked, wondering if he'd heard correctly. The elfling was still a few months away from it's birth date, and it was not common for an elfling to be born so early…or for an elf to miscarry her child.
They arrived at in the house's healing wing and Elrond opened the door for Thranduil, who quickly brought her in and laid her on a bed.
Elrond rushed around the room, gathering supplies and herbs. "Tell me what happened!" he said.
"Linwë had two pains," said Thranduil, holding his wife's hand, who was quietly crying in fear for her child.
Elrond brought his supplies over to the bed, and he gently placed his hands on the queen's belly.
Thranduil watched, suddenly grateful that they were still in Rivendell. He and Linwë had come for a visit two months before, intent on staying for a few weeks. An unexpectedly early winter struck Mirkwood though, and word had come to them that the High Pass was blocked, forcing them to remain in Imladris. As they had no idea when the Pass would be clear once more, it appeared that Mirkwood would be missing their royal members for the entire winter.
Linwë suddenly gave a gasp of pain, and Elrond stopped his ministrations until the contraction eased.
The King and Queen were silent as Elrond continued his examination, allowing him to concentrate fully on what he was doing. Finally, the healer sighed and looked at them.
"The child is indeed coming, there is nothing that I can do to stop it."
Linwë gave a sob at that, covering her face with her hands. Thranduil sighed heavily and lowered his head. Neither of them asked why there was nothing that he could do, knowing that Elrond was the best healer in all of Middle Earth. If he said that nothing could be done, than he was right.
"Here, Linwë," said Elrond, offering her a cup. "This should help the pain."
Linwë obediently drank.
"When do you think it will be born?" Thranduil asked, still holding his wife's hand.
"Rather soon," said Elrond. "The child is extremely small, therefore it will not require Linwë's body to open to the extent that it would need to with a…" he hesitated on his next words. "Normal-sized elfling."
Linwë gave another pained cry, closing her eyes and panting.
"You see," said Elrond, remarking on how soon this new pain had come. He gently felt the queen's stomach. "I require your help, Thranduil."
The King looked at him.
"The child is not in the proper position," said Elrond. "They seldom are at this stage. I need you to place your hands here…" he demonstrated to his friend, placing his hands on the side of Linwë's stomach and pushing them in.
Thranduil blinked, but he complied, gently. Elrond placed his hands over Thranduil's and pushed them deeper.
"Is that not too hard?!" Thranduil exclaimed, shocked at the amount of force that Elrond wanted him to use.
The healer shook his head, going to the other side of the bed. "We need to turn it."
The King watched nervously as Elrond repeatedly pushed on Linwë's stomach, forcing the baby's head to point downwards. He felt it turn and gasped in shock.
Elrond smiled, motioning for Thranduil to let go.
After that, all they could do was wait. Linwë's pains came sooner and sooner at a very fast pace, and only an hour after arriving, Elrond said the words that Linwë was dreading.
"With your next pain, push."
"I do not wish to!" Linwë exclaimed, sobbing. "It is too soon, my baby will die!"
Elrond closed his eyes with a sigh. She was right; the baby's chances at survival were slim. He knew that he would be nearly as heartbroken as Thranduil and Linwë if the elfling died. "You must," he said, his hands gently squeezing the Queen's knees. "None of us can change this. The sooner the baby is born, the sooner I can do whatever is possible to save it."
Those words changed the queen's mind, and on the next contraction, she obeyed him.
Elrond watched for any sign of the elfling, knowing that it would be born very quickly because of its small size. Just before Linwë stopped pushing, he caught a glimpse of it. "Good," he said. "Push again."
Linwë breathed heavily to catch her breath, and as the next pain quickly grew, she pushed, giving a grunt of effort.
Thranduil held her hand tightly, though curiosity got the better of him and he leaned forward to watch.
Elrond reached forward as the baby's head appeared, and it slipped out quickly, into his hands. He took a towel and wiped the baby's face. "Once more, Linwë!" he encouraged.
Linwë gave a sob as she pushed; fear for her baby's life assaulting her again.
The elfling slid free of its mother and Elrond quickly laid it down, rubbing it vigorously to stimulate its little body. He saw that it was a boy, and couldn't help but smile. Mirkwood has its heir…if he lives.
The baby made no sound or movement.
"Elrond!" Thranduil exclaimed, terrified.
"He does not breathe," Elrond said, nervously, lifting the elfling and gently blowing air into his mouth.
"No!" Linwë cried.
Elrond continued to breathe into the baby, rubbing its chest to try to awaken his lungs. "Breathe," he whispered, tears filling his own eyes. "Please, breathe!"
The King and Queen watched, tears slipping down both their cheeks.
What seemed minutes later—but was really only a few seconds—a strange sound emitted from the tiny elf.
Linwë gasped, and they watched as the baby's impossibly-tiny fists clenched and its little legs twitched. It gave a mew, and its little face screwed up with protest at its traumatic introduction to life.
It was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen.
Elrond sighed with incredible relief, knowing that the elfling had a chance at life, now.
The elfling opened his bright blue eyes, seemingly staring at the elf-lord in wonder.
"Give him to me!" Linwë exclaimed, frantically.
"A moment." Elrond laid the elfling down and grabbed a knife, cutting through the umbilical cord and tying the end to prevent it from bleeding. He noticed with distress that the elfling's cries were weak and breathless. He knew that the baby's lungs were not fully developed, and he feared that he would not survive long.
Linwë reached out for her baby and held him to her chest, gently stroking his tiny head. "Do not cry, my sweet son!" she whispered.
Thranduil laid his hand on the baby's back, tears still coming from his eyes as he felt the tiny body quiver.
"Do not hold him that way," Elrond said, one hand on the Queen's stomach to feel for the last contraction that her body would give. "His breathing is difficult."
Thranduil gently turned the elfling from its stomach onto its back.
Elrond felt a spasm under his hand. "One gentle push, Linwë."
She obeyed, barely noticing as the afterbirth left her body; her mind focused entirely on her child.
Elrond quickly wrapped it in a towel for disposal before finishing his ministrations to the Queen, all the while monitoring the sounds coming from the elfling.
"He is beautiful," Linwë whispered.
Thranduil smiled. "Aye, he is indeed."
"What shall we name him?" she asked.
Thranduil shook his head. They hadn't yet decided on a name, since they thought that they still had more time before its birth.
"I cannot believe it," Linwë said, eyes glued to her elfling. "At home, it snows, and yet he was born in Imladris amongst green leaves." She looked up at her husband. "He is our green leaf in winter."
Thranduil smiled. "Legolas."
Elrond shared the smile as he covered the Queen's lower half with a sheet. "A very fine name," he said. "May I borrow your green leaf so that I may see to his health?"
Linwë nodded, though her happiness dimmed a little as she handed the baby over.
Elrond smiled at the elfling as he carried it over to a nearby table. There was a towel covering it, and he gently laid the baby down.
Little Legolas still uttered weak mews, eyes closed.
The healer tried not to frown as he looked the baby over, aware that his parents were watching. He ran his hands along the little body, ensuring that his urgent turning in the womb and fast birth had not caused any injuries. Everything seemed to be fine, and he picked up each of Legolas' tiny limbs and gently poked them with a fingernail, watching for the baby's reaction. Each limb gave a brief jerk, to his relief. He leaned over the table and laid an ear on the tiny chest, listening to his lungs. He could see immediately that Legolas wasn't taking full breaths, and he wished that he would stop crying so he could see how he breathed at rest. Elrond then laid a finger over the baby's heart, and found it beating stronger than he expected…or maybe it just seemed that way because Legolas was crying.
Sliding one hand under the baby, he gently ran the other over the tiny head. The tiny wisps of hair were golden like his parents, and as he gave the baby's body another assessment, he realized that he had never seen a live infant this small in all of his millennia of life. The majority of Legolas' body fit in only one of his large hands.
Laying Legolas down again, he gently wrapped him in the towel and brought him back to his parents, handing him to Thranduil this time. "You have a beautiful son," he said.
Thranduil smiled, looking down at the tiny elfling. He started to ask something, but stopped. When Elrond looked askance at him, the King shook his head.
Aware that Thranduil wanted to ask him something out of Linwë's earshot, he didn't press him.
Dawn rose an hour later and Linwë fell asleep, exhausted from the sudden, traumatic birth.
Thranduil took the sleeping infant from her arms and quietly brought him over to Elrond; it was alarmingly significant that the healer was still in the room. "Elrond, my old friend," he started. "Tell me truthfully…will Legolas live?"
Elrond knew that that was the question that his friend had hesitated from asking earlier. He sighed. "It is difficult to say," he answered. He reached over and placed a hand on the tiny chest. "It is obvious that he cannot breathe correctly. His lungs are not yet fully formed."
Thranduil swallowed convulsively.
"But yet, his heart beats steadily," Elrond said. "If he is constantly watched for breathing difficulty, and is successfully helped if something happens, than I believe that he has a good chance."
Thranduil smiled, reaching a hand to clasp Elrond's shoulder. "Hannon le, mellon-nin," he said. "You saved his life, when you breathed for him. You truly are the best healer in all of Middle Earth."
Elrond returned the smile. "Thank you."
Legolas suddenly made a soft sound, moving his head slightly.
They both looked at him, watching as the infant pursed his lips a few times and continued to sleep.
As Elrond watched, he seemed to sense something that took him by surprise. He suddenly pictured in his mind Legolas as an adult, slaying orcs. In that moment, he knew that the tiny elfling would live and become one of Mirkwood's finest warriors.
Elladan and Elrohir were surprised to not find their father or Thranduil and Linwë when they went to breakfast. Sitting down, they ate anyway, figuring that they would arrive at any moment. They began to worry when they never came, knowing that Linwë was in a delicate condition, and wondered if something had happened to her. Leaving the table, they quickly headed towards the healing wing.
As they entered the halls, a door opened ahead of them and their father stepped out, holding something in one arm.
"Ada!" Elladan called.
Elrond turned and held a finger to his lips. "Hush! Thranduil and Linwë sleep."
"What happ—" Elrohir's voice trailed off when he saw the tiny elf in his father's arm.
"Come," said Elrond, walking further down the hall.
The twins looked at each other in shock, before quickly following.
The second that they entered the other healing room, the twins began to ask questions.
"Is that their elfling?!"
"How can it be? It is much too early!"
"Does it live?"
"Is it male or female?"
"Can I hold it?"
"Can I hold it?"
Elrond looked up at the ceiling before addressing his sons. "Stop! Yes, it is their elfling. Yes, it was born too early. Yes it is indeed alive, and is male. No, you cannot hold him yet, I wish to examine him again."
The twins watched as Elrond laid the elfling on the bed in the room and unwrapped the towel. They both gasped at his size.
"He is so small!" Elladan exclaimed, awed. He reached out a finger and gently touched a tiny hand.
"Why was he born so early?" Elrohir asked, nearly afraid to touch him.
"I am unsure," Elrond said. "Linwë woke with pain and Legolas was born an hour later. At first, he did not breathe."
The twins looked at him in shock.
"I can see that his breathing is shallow," said Elladan.
"Did you need to breathe for him, ada?" Elrohir asked.
Elrond nodded. "Aye, but thankfully, he took his own breath not long after."
"You called him Legolas," Elrohir said.
Elrond nodded. "That is the name that Linwë bestowed upon him."
They were all silent as they stared at the elfling.
"Will he live?" Elladan suddenly asked.
Elrond hesitated, and it sent a shiver of fear down both their spines. Despite the feeling that he'd had earlier, he was afraid to give false hope in case he was in error. "His heartbeat is strong, and though his breathing is shallow, it is regular. He appears to be in no other form of distress…"
The twins nodded, optimistically taking that as a 'yes'.
"Legolas will live," Elladan said, firmly. "And he will be our greatest friend."
In the millennia to come, they would see how correct Elladan had been.