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A Fairy Tale, Middle-Earth style

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Drafn Tolthol


HolidaysRating: PG

Synopsis: When Legolas reminisces about home before the end of the year, he gets an unexpected visit from an old friend... and a gift from his father whom he has not seen in years.

Tagline: Home is always closer than you think.



Mae govannan, El & Ro

There are times, like now, when I find myself missing the comforts of home. Of course I do not mean it in the sense of comforts such as material things... but of the feelings and the love those you hold dearest have in their hearts for you. Family and friendship are perhaps my greatest comforts and while I must confess that I would join your little brother during this season of light... I find myself ever looking toward the north and remembering that which I once had beneath my father's halls...

Especially during Drafn Tolthol.

It is known in the Shire, I am told, as Yule... and while the Log Fetching festival of my youth is a merry time indeed... it seems to me that the race of men and Hobbits and even Dwarves certainly celebrate it far different than my own people. I yearned for a return to the feasting and the singing that would be heard within my father's halls and try as I might in years past, the world of men was hard to adjust to in terms of festivals. I tried, believe me, but there is something to be said of the memory of laughter and love and the warmth of home.

But perhaps, mellyn nin, it would be best if I started at the beginning...


Drafn Tolthol


Snow...

How the Elf dearly missed that beautiful time when the chill of winter began to bite bitterly cold and the winds began to howl in the night. The feel of waking on a crisp Rhiw morning and finding that the world beyond was blanketed in snow. Even if the trees of the Mirkwood did tend to block out most of it... it was still there, if an Elfling knew where to look and which trees to climb.

The prince would spend hours out of doors, much to his mother's worry, but under the careful watch of his father's captain. The sun would set and grudgingly a sleepy Elfling would find his way back into his father's halls, only to fall asleep without supper and wake the next morning famished. If it were the will of the Valar, the snows would remain and the prince would start the cycle all over again once more.


Caldor had noticed the melancholy that had fallen over his lord of late. There truly was no denying it. Every day he watched as blue eyes turned to the cloudy skies outside of his study or upon the balcony when he was taking breakfast... every day that same wistful look toward the north...
Finally, the steward could take it no more and had sent word to his king about the prince's disposition. That had been at the very beginning of Firith... and soon the Darfn Tolthol would be upon them. But Caldor knew enough not to broach the subject with the Lord of Eden Cuil... for that would only put the archer in an even more sour mood. There were times when the prince did not wish to be reminded of the home he had left behind in the north... even if his cause was noble and just.

So the days had ticked by slowly and not even a visit to Minas Tirith had changed his lord's mood... though that usually helped things considerably. The archer had simply complained that Elessar had been far too busy getting the city ready for it's own Yule celebrations... and while the Elf was obviously invited to attend... the prince always declined and for the last few years had simply holed up in his own halls in Eden Cuil and remained while his people lit fires and drank and sang and told stories well into the morning's first light.

And still no word had come south from Eryn Lasgalen... no letter nor emissary had set forth, to Caldor's knowledge, from the Elvenking's Halls since Laer.

“You will surely go mad at this rate, Legolas.” the steward spoke as he set a glass of wine down upon the prince's desk. “King Elessar has invited you to Minas Tirith for their holiday. Perhaps you should...”
“Estel celebrates this time of year differently than we do. I suppose all those of Imladris celebrate it differently as well... and now of course there are the customs of men to consider.” Legolas said.
The archer was sitting at his desk, one elbow propped up on it, his chin in his upturned palm. Blue eyes were gazing out the window toward the north... toward Eryn Lasgalen...
“Besides...” he sighed softly. “It would do no good to darken his spirits with my own foul mood... It has been years since I was last home, Caldor...” another sigh escaped the prince, but he smiled, blue eyes closing as if he could still see the halls he had grown up in. “Adar would have changed his crown by now, you know... there would be snow outside and that first fresh bite of cold chill in the air. The whole of his halls would smell of cinnamon and spices as the kitchens prepared for the Darfn Tolthol feasts... and the wine... Galion would have stocked up on barrels and barrels of the best Dorwinion had to offer. Legolia would be dancing, or trying to use Legede as a dance partner and the whole of our realm would be filled with laughter and light and song.” Sighing once more, Legolas looked to his aid. “I fear I miss it, Caldor... and yet, it does me no good to dwell on home, for even if I left now... I would not make my father's halls in time. Perhaps next year...”
He straightened, stretching his arms over his head before focusing on the parchment that lay before him. For a time, Legolas stared at the tengwar script, a letter to the twins in Imladris was what he had been trying to write all morning and yet failing miserably at... The moments ticked by in silence, and soon, just as before, the prince found his gaze drawn back to the north.
Caldor departed, since it seemed his lord needed nothing further... and yet he couldn't help but watch from the doorway. Even the Elves Legolas had brought south were beginning to feel their prince's melancholy...
“Lord Caldor.” a guard spoke in hushed tones, having rushed up to him quickly. “There is a messenger from Eryn Lasgalen. He has only just arrived. Should I...”
“Send him up. Quickly.” the steward spoke, practically pushing the guard back down the steps. “Hurry!”
Caldor then hoped desperately that this messenger could aid him in alleviating the prince of his disposition.



The Elf had never been blessed with children, for his duty to lord and land had come first always in his mind. And yet, the archer who sat at his desk, staring wistfully toward the north was as dear to him as any son could be. He knew that look so well. That glazed over expression that spoke of the prince's mind walking far far away from where his feet actually found rest. Over the plains and through the mountains and forests and marshes... down the hidden paths, over the great gate, and in through the doors of his father's halls.
Legede took this moment to watch Legolas in silence, before the prince realized he was even there. The captain took in the slight slump of proud shoulders that spoke more than anything of a weight on the heart. He watched as with a sigh, the archer looked back down to the paper on his desk... tapped a quill absently on a piece of scratch parchment to the side... then glanced back out the window once more, as if torn between falling into his own melancholy and in writing the letter that had hardly even begun to take shape.

“Your father would chastise you for such posture.” Legede eventually spoke up from his place in the doorway, a small smile on his lips.

The sudden voice startled Legolas, the prince's head snapping up and blue eyes focusing in disbelief on the white haired Elf in his study. “Legede...” the archer whispered.

Finally it seemed that something clicked in the younger Elf's mind and Legolas sprang up from the desk, quill tossed aside and the letter quite forgotten, to quickly cross the distance between himself and his life long friend.
Legede clasped the archer's arms in greeting, just as Legolas grabbed the captain's own, and both Elves stood there for a moment just smiling.
“Why are you here? I thought... with Darfn Tolthol so near...”
But Legede's smile grew slightly, “Yes it is near... and you are not. Caldor sent word to your father and we both thought it best someone come and spend Rhiw with Eryn Lasgalen's wayward prince.” the Elf replied, drawing from his tunic a sealed letter and a small wrapped bundle that was barely bigger than his hand. “Thranduil sends his love and would have been here himself but...”
“But it is Darfn Tolthol and he is the king.” Legolas spoke with a nod. “I can not fault him for it... I should have taken leave and traveled home but...”
“But you are also a lord of your own halls now.” the captain added. “Your father, more than any, understands. What you do here is for the good of the world and he knows that. But he does miss you.”
Legolas smiled, “And I him... and you... and Legolia... and the forest... and the halls... Ai! I miss it all, Legede. But come! Come!” he stepped out of the way, letting his friend into his study to sit with him beside the fire. “Tell me news of home. You can not begin to understand how much your visit lightens my heart, mellon nin.”


As the day turned into evening, captain and prince spent hours before the roaring fire of the archer's hearth. They had drained more than a few bottles of wine between them and the stories and tales which each told were filled with laughter and mirth and sometimes even a bit of disbelief. All the while Caldor made sure they were not disturbed, except when it was becoming quite late and the steward knew that his lord and his guest surely must be getting hungry. He entered quietly, waiting for a lull in the conversation before politely informing Legolas that dinner had been prepared on the prince's own balcony and the fire in both his chambers and in the guest quarters which the captain would soon occupy were lit and well tended.

So they adjourned to Legolas' chambers, laughing and talking as they walked through the halls. Spread before them was an assortment of breads, cheeses, and fresh fruit. There were also a salad of green vegetables, along with a main entree of roasted quail with a light cranberry sauce and even a small apple pie for dessert.

“Your table looks a bit different than I remember it, mellon nin.” Legede spoke as he sat down at the prince's side.

Legolas of course smiled as he refilled his wine glass before doing the same for the captain. “The influence of men and Dwarves and Hobbits, I fear.” spoke the Elf. “Game is still scarce in these woods, though more deer find their way back to this forest as time goes by. Most of that which we consume here in Eden Cuil comes from Minas Tirith by way of the Anduin.”

“So, like your father, your people ferry goods along the river as well?” Legede asked, taking his cup once the prince had filled it.

The archer nodded, “And like ada, we do not farm nor raise livestock of our own. There are few of our people, after all, who know the proper way to do such things these days... and so we keep the lands safe and sound from as far south as Osgiliath and up north to the Nindalf. We heal the good things of the wood as well... and while some of my people have traveled south to aid Lord Faramir at Emyn Arnen... most remain here, clustered about my halls.”

For a time, the captain's blue gaze traveled out past the balcony. He could see the lands near at hand, for the stars were out and the moon was hanging full on a cloudless night sky. It reminded him, in truth, of the Greenwood... before darkness took it... before fire and death... and yet the wood still held a haunted scar upon it... the trees were still slow to speak.

“In time... this land will be beautiful.” Legolas whispered, his own gaze far away, falling on the mountains of the Ephel Duath that still kept part of the land in shadow in the distance. “Sauron's taint washes away with each new rain... and it seems to me that every day the land brightens just a bit more. And the trees, Legede... ah they speak with shy voices but they grow ever stronger.”

The captain smiled softly, “You and your people bring them joy, caun nin. Thranduil will be very happy to hear that.”

“And our own home?” Legolas asked, turning his gaze to the white haired Elf near at hand. “I have not seen it in what feels like an age... though I know it has been only a few years. Does it too heal from the scars of war?”
“It does.” Legede replied as he took a corner of bread and put it and a few slices of cheese on his plate. “Dark have been the deeds beneath it's boughs... that business with your uncle set us back quite some time... but the fires of war have been washed away by new growth. A growth untainted by the foul spawn of Ungoliant. Those wretches have not been seen for more than three years now. Nothing bigger than your common house spider ever shows it's face in Eryn Lasgalen these days. Dol Guldur is fallen in complete ruin at last... and for the first time in many many long years... the forest can breathe the free air once more.” for a moment, the captain paused. Then, taking a sip of wine, he smiled. “Even the Dwarves of Erebor visit your father's halls from time to time for trade these days.”

At this, Legolas' eyes widened, “You jest!” he spoke, but the smile on his face was unmistakable. “And why could adarnot do this when I visited? The Dwarves are...”

“The Dwarves are not our enemies. Yes, I know that, Legolas. Your father knows it as well. I just think it took him time to see things from your perspective. I think...” Legede sighed softly, his blue gaze flickering to the golden serpent ring on the archer's hand. “I think your father has learned to put some things behind him.”

Legolas caught the look but he could only smile, “I am my father's son, mellon nin. I would not change that for all the starlit jewels in the world.”


And so the Elves ate dinner and talked more of the happenings of the wide world. They spoke of Legolas' companions and how they fared. They talked of the twin sons of Elrond, to whom the archer fully intended to finish his letter to, and how it was a miracle to the astonishment of all, Lords Celeborn and Glorfindel chief amongst those in amazement, that Imladris had not fallen into complete and utter ruin with Elrohir and Elladan at it's helm. But mostly, they spoke of home... of the beauty of Eryn Lasgalen and the warmth and comfort of the Elvenking's Halls and of the family that Legolas had left behind.

And so it was that as the night drew closer to day, Legede at last stood, with a little help from the younger Elf who was no less inebriated but bore a tolerance for strong drink that could have rivaled that of even Thranduil himself.

“Forgive me, caun nin. I fear I must retire for a time.” the captain spoke once he was steady.

Legolas smiled brightly, “It truly is a blessing to have you here, mellon nin. Do tell me you will stay a while, for it does my heart good.”

“Of course, Legolas.” Legede replied, clasping the archer on the shoulder. “I will stay until the Ethuil... then I must return to your father's side. Speaking of which, you should read his letter and unwrap the gift he has given you. You will see me on the morrow.”

The prince laughed, “But it is already the morrow.” he teased before nodding and walking the captain to his guest quarters.

Once they had parted, Legolas returned to his own chambers and poured himself another glass of wine... the very last from the bottles upon the table. He clasped the glass cup lined in silver between two fingers and, for a time, drank peacefully as the sun began to rise behind the Ephel Duath. Soon, the prince drew forth the letter from his father and retreating to a far corner of the balcony... settled in to read and to watch the sunrise.


My dearest Legolas,


Long has it been since I saw your face, but even now it seems that you are ever by my side. In the day to day things I do I find myself recalling some happening, for good or ill, that involved you or at times I hear the laughter of an Elfling that I had not heard for an age. You are the Lord of your own lands now, ion nin... but you are still the Prince of Eryn Lasgalen... you are still my son and though it pains me to be parted from you... more than any other, I can understand the sacrifices you have made. In part, that is why I gave you my ring... not as a mere trinket to aid in your own illusions... but as a hope that you can rule your people and protect those most precious to you, as I have tried to do all my own life.

I can still remember that one Drafn Tolthol morning when I had spent all the night before in counsel with Legede and my other advisers, only to return to my study and find you, a tiny Elfling, curled up and asleep upon the rug before the hearth. You had been playing with wooden horses and figures of Elven warriors who were battling fierce carved spiders upon the green carpet which you had made your bed. I remember kneeling down and scoping you into my arms. I held you close and you stirred, asking me if the snows had come. I told you that it was still not time for the snow... but you frowned and stared at me with sleepy blue eyes and asked if I would play with you in the morning... for you were very tired. Then you asked if 'it' were alright. Of course I knew not what 'it' was and so I asked. You yawned and pointed one small hand to the edge of the carpet where a wooden token lay. It was a small circular piece of wood that had the emblem of the House of Oropher carved into it. It was something that Legede had given me long long ago as a token of our friendship. I remember smiling and asking where you had found it... and you told me it had been with your toys. At that time, I recalled my own childhood and how, as I grew older, I had locked the token away with my own wooden horses and figures of Elven warriors in painted armor that I wanted to keep for my own children. I realized then, as I held you close, that you had gotten your own toys and had found those which I had thought lost to time, and started to play with them all in a jumble of a battle on the rug. You then told me with a very tired voice that you didn't know if that token was yours... that you didn't know if it were a toy to be played with. You said it was special because it meant... 'me'. I smiled and kissed your brow and told you that it did not just mean 'me'... but it meant 'us' and that it was your symbol too. You smiled and yawned and hugged me around the neck, whispering 'hannon le, ada' before falling deeply asleep once more.

I do not know if you recall the incident, Legolas... but I do... as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. When Caldor wrote to me and spoke of how melancholy you were... of how desperately you missed home... I found that small token and I gave it to Legede to bring to your side. Though I must admit I did have your Dwarven acquaintances from Erebor spruce it up a bit.

That symbol means 'us', Legolas. The House of Oropher... the House of Thranduil... the House of Legolas and beyond...

Le u-erui, Legolas. ~{(You are not alone, Legolas.)}~

U lu erui, u-lui. ~{(Not once, not ever.)}~

You are my son... and you always will be.

These Halls are your home for as long as you wish to remain in this Middle-earth.

Do not let your heart be wearied by the distances of this world, Legolas. Home is always closer than you realize... and there are times when a mere reminder of home can do just as much good for the heart as setting foot on familiar paths once more.

Enjoy Darfn Tolthol for me, ion nin and I will raise a glass of wine at my own table for you.


Your father,

Thranduil Oropherion


Smiling to himself, Legolas carefully folded the letter from his father and placed it just within his robes, careful not to let it be blown away by the light wind that stirred his blond hair about his face just slightly. The morning was coming on cold... but it hardly mattered to the Elf, who now had a very small parcel on his lap.

Carefully, the archer unwrapped the gift and stared down at the symbol of the House of Oropher that he had once played with as an Elfling. And yet, it was grander now... it was no longer a mere wooden token carved by the hand of a Silvan Elf... no... now it was fashioned into a pendant that gleamed in the early morning light. Now, the token was inlaid with lines of mithril... sparkling brighter than silver or gold and it hung from a chain of mithril as well.

An expensive and kingly gift... and yet it brought tears to the prince's eyes. He held the pendant close to his chest, gaze closed as he found himself speaking a silent prayer to the Valar for the safety and the love of his father far to the north.

When Legolas opened those eyes, he very carefully hung the pendant around his neck and raised his last glass of wine to the sun as it peaked just over the tops of the mountains and the trees.

“Hannon le, ada... Le geritha meren Drafn Tolthol.” ~{(Thank you, father... [You] have a joyous Darfn Tolthol.)}~


THE END


Elvish Words to Know:
Drafn = Log [hewn log]
Tolthol = Fetching [toltha – fetch (make come)]

mae govannan = well met (a greeting)

mellyn nin = my friends

Firith = Fading (time between summer and winter)

Rhiw = Winter (time between fading and stirring)

Ethuil = Stirring (time between winter and spring)

mellon nin = my friend

adar = father

caun nin = my prince

hannon le = thank you

Le u-erui = You are not alone

U lu erui, u-lui = Not once, not ever

Le geritha meren = You have a joyous


Author's Notes:
- ”Drafn Tolthol” is taken from the Quenyan mentioned holiday of “Turulhame” which appeared in “The Book of Lost Tales 2”. It means “log bringing” and was celebrated in the winter and so, to make it a Sindarin holiday as well, I translated “log” and “fetching” into Sindarin to make “Drafn Tolthol”. Please do not take this as a canon holiday because it IS stated elsewhere that Elves do not celebrate Yule. However, I figure that since Thranduil is fond of celebrations... a small exception can be made, hehe.

- Info on Turulhame came from here: http://www.silmarillionwritersguild.org/reference/references/pf/holidays.php

- Caldor for Legolas is the equivalent of Erestor for Elrond. He is the steward of Legolas' halls. So please don't mistake him being called a steward for Faramir being the Steward of Gondor (course he's also the Lord of Ithilien but Legolas is too in his own right... gets confusing, I know).

- Caldor, Legede, Legolia, and the Elf haven of Eden Cuil are all of my own invention. You may use them, but please ask permission to do so first.

- The symbol for the House of Oropher is the same as that which can be found on the Official LOTR replicas by United Artists Cutlery backing for Legolas' white handled knives. There is an image here: ( http://www.weaponreplica.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/THE-LORD-OF-THE-RINGS-Legolas-Greenleaf-Fighting-Knives-United-Cutlery1.jpg )

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