"Ada, are you finished yet?"
"Not yet, penneth, stay still!"
"But I want to see them!"
"You will in a few moments. Just be patient."
Legolas swung his legs off the edge of the bed eagerly, bouncing up and down and trying to convince his ada to hurry up. He insisted on braiding his hair every morning and it always took so long. He would wash it, dry it, brush it and then finally, put the back of it into a neat little plait. But now it was growing more and more and he was made to sit here for what felt like ages. And ada was such a perfectionist every time he did it - even though he knew within hours Legolas would get it all messy again.
"Ada, where are you now?" he asked, trying to turn his head. But Thranduil placed a hand firmly upon him and kept him in one place.
"Nearly at the same place I was the last time you asked me. Honestly, Las, if you keep moving about, I will have to start again. And you wouldn't want that, would you now?"
"Good. Now be a nice little elfling for me and keep still."
Legolas nodded, but then thought that might count as moving so stopped. However, only a few more moments passed before be blurted out another question (one of many that morning). Thranduil sighed. "Ada, how long does it take to braid your hair?"
"A long time, Legolas."
"Do you do it by yourself?"
Thranduil laughed. "Yes, I do."
"I want to learn how to do it. Did your ada teach you?"
Thranduil paused for a second, Legolas' golden hair lying in his palms. He let out a breath and quietly muttered, "no. He didn't."
"But you will teach me, ada?" Legolas turned a little as he felt his father stop. Thranduil smiled at him, quickly regaining his bearings.
"Of course, lirimaer. Of course I will."
Legolas beamed and obediently looked forward again. Thranduil continued to braid and soon after, finished the neat plait. He congratulated himself on a fine job, gently patting Legolas' head to let him know he was done. "There you go, Las."
The little prince squeaked happily and jumped off the bed, hurrying to the mirror. He flushed bright red and giggled as he saw himself, hopping around in a circle to see the braid fully. Thranduil felt his heart fill with warmth at his happiness. "Ada, it's perfect! I love it! You do it better every morning!"
"Thank you, my sweet one. Now come and give your ada a cuddle for his hard work and we can go to breakfast."
Legolas obeyed willingly and leapt into Thranduil's arms. He hugged him tightly and the king tenderly kissed his forehead. "Was it worth the wait, Las?" he asked.
The prince nodded emphatically.
"See," he smiled. "Some things are worth it even if you have to wait a long time. Remember that, my dear."
"I will, ada."
And together, they left the room to go to the breakfast hall.
The years passed after this and Legolas slowly grew apart from his father, starting to make his own decisions and defying those that came from above. He spent his time in the woods, training to become an expert archer and to join the guard patrol and hardly came into contact with the king. But Thranduil did not stop him; he was getting old enough to earn his own responsibility but still, he missed the days of running around with his son and showing him all the wonders of his realm. He missed caring for him and tucking him in at night. He missed embracing him and holding onto his hand. He even missed the simple act of braiding his hair in the mornings. It had been something they had always done but now, Legolas did it on his own and had become just as skilled at it - as he was with everything else he tried.
His majority day fast approached though and this was one event he could not push his father away from. Thranduil prepared for the festivities diligently, an excitement growing in his heart (more than Legolas', he wagered), and invited the guests with delight. His beautiful son was becoming an adult ellon and he couldn't have been more proud. And he was determined not to make it like his own majority day - his father had not seemed to have cared much in the slightest, viewing the development in a purely political way. He would not put Legolas through that.
It was why, on the morning of that important day, he found himself outside Legolas' room, knocking on the door and asking to be let in. After a while, Legolas allowed him to and as soon as he entered, he was greeted with the sight of him sitting almost mournfully before his mirror. In his hands was the crown he would be wearing later on.
"Legolas." Thranduil frowned. "What is wrong, iôn-nîn?"
Legolas shook his head. "Nothing," he said. "I am just nervous."
"Oh, penneth. There is no need to be nervous. It will be wonderful - and I will be there for you through every step."
Legolas smiled sadly and turned away. Thranduil crossed the short distance over to him and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. He noticed his hair was hanging loosely over his shoulders, drifting down his back; it was almost as long as his now. An idea came into his mind. "Would you like me to braid your hair, Legolas?" he asked, a little tentatively. "I will be happy to."
Legolas slowly raised his head and looked into Thranduil's eyes in the mirror. Another smile, this time far more bright, touched his mouth. "Yes," he said. "Yes, please, adar."
Thranduil returned his grin and picked up the brush lying on the desk. He ran it through Legolas' silky hair and gently pulled it all back into an easier position. Legolas sat patiently as he began to plait it, a large one at the back and two smaller ones at each side, signifying his changing position in the realm up to a warrior and guard. It took some time but Legolas no longer tried to turn his neck around and inhibit Thranduil's progress. He even stayed quiet most of the time.
However, when Thranduil had almost finished, he finally opened his mouth, uttering a quiet little word.
"Ada?" he said.
"I am sorry I have not been a very good son to you."
Thranduil frowned. "No, Legolas," he said, surprised. "Do not say that. How can you think such a thing?"
"I have hardly spoken to you in these last years. I disobeyed you, I stayed away from you, I said terrible things about you." He paused. "But I realise now that that was all ridiculous. I should not have been so distant. I want to be your little elfling again, ada, so we can start again."
Thranduil felt his heart ache at these words. He finished with Legolas' braid and tenderly laid his hands again on his shoulders. Legolas still avoided his gaze, hanging his head. "You'll always be my little elfling, Legolas. I will always love you, no matter what. I always have, even when you were running around in the forest against my orders and getting into trouble. We do not have to start again. This is a new day, a new time for us."
Legolas at last turned around. He stared up at his father and slowly rose from his chair, standing before him. He looked into his eyes for the first time in years and gently touched his cheek. A tear dripped down his face. "You are wonderful to me, ada. I love you dearly."
With a sob, he threw his arms around his neck and burrowed his face into his shoulder, shaking. Thranduil embraced him tightly, gradually soothing away his trembles with affectionate words. He held him as if he were a little child again until eventually, a quiet mumble came from him, muffled against his robe. "I'm sorry I made you wait so long for this, ada. I could have done so much more."
Thranduil merely smiled and stroked Legolas' neatly braided hair. "Some things are worth it, even if you have to wait a long time," he said softly.