Thranduil had met her before, before he had travelled over the Misty Mountains with his father and joined the Silvan Elves. The oldest daughter of a high elf lord, who was an adviser if he remembered correctly to King Thingol, he'd stopped and stared when he'd first saw her. His father, Oropher, had laughed at him and given his shoulder a gentle shove – 'She would have you jump through hoops, my son.'
And he had simply smiled and replied that he would jump through flaming hoops to see her eyes fall on him.
Not long after that incident her eyes had fallen on him – just as his wine had fallen upon her dress. There was a long moment where their eyes met, wide and horrified, Thranduil's mouth was ajar, his bottom lip faltering as he tried to force an apology out of his closed throat. He expected her to be angry or upset, he expected her father to come down and knock his teeth in but that didn't happen, she had done the last thing he'd expect and she'd laughed. 'Your face!' she tried to hide her smile behind her hand as she continued to laugh, 'You look like a scared deer.'
They'd crossed paths many times in Doriath and Thranduil never told her that she was more precious than the stars to him. Something he regretted when Doriath fell and he departed the only land he'd known.
It was almost an age, well into his life as a prince of the Greenwood, until he saw her again. Passing through the wood with a small entourage of guards, she glowed brighter than the Nauglamír and was twice as captivating to his eyes. He'd fallen out of the tree in his enamoured state and after she'd made sure he wasn't broken – she'd laughed at him again.
The golden haired elleth had asked the Elven King Oropher to allow her to live within the Greenwood and he had welcomed her and the seven she travelled with to stay; including a rude little elfling that cried whenever he was near.
Still, Thranduil said nothing of his love for her. Instead he helped her learn the Silvan language, taught her of their odd celebrations and would often accompany her to the tops of the trees to gaze at the stars. She would stare up at the heavens, pale blue eyes glazed over as she smiled serenely in the glow. Thranduil would tilt his head to the side and watch her, every little twitch of her lips, every flutter of yellow eyelashes and every delighted gasp as a star fell was mesmerising to him.
It seemed utterly unfair to him that he loved her, that she was his other half – he was certain of it – and she couldn't see him as more than a dear friend. 'Thranduil,' he startled at her voice but hid the flinch rather well, 'Would you teach me to wield a sword?'
'I thought your talent was with daggers...why do you wish this of me?' He was not offering her flattery, she was known to be the deadliest with knives in the entire woodland realm and he couldn't understand her interest in sword fighting.
She turned her head to face him and grinned, two little dimples making their appearance, 'I always thought swordplay looked so ugly but when I watch you practice - '
'You watch me?!' his dark eyebrows rose and he willed a delighted blush to stay hidden. She watched him, hidden from his view she would turn her gaze on him and he'd never known...would she watch him the same way she watched the stars?
She ignored his interruption and continued, 'You make it so graceful and beautiful. Smooth. As if you are wielding a feather and then you make an effortless arc to cut right through solid wood. Knives are dainty but what you can do with your sword is so powerful.' Thranduil's eyes glazed over slightly and his lips parted to suck in more of the crisp, night air. He must have looked as fevered as he felt because his beautiful Nauglamír was looking at him in confusion, the sweetest wrinkle between her eyes that he wanted to smooth out, 'Thranduil?' her hand rose to to touch his left cheek and the prince reared back violently.
The sudden jerk cause her to lose her footing on the branches below and fall forward, Thranduil found himself with an elleth against his chest, her fingers grasping the material of his tunic as she steadied herself. She looked up at him with a mixture of emotions, confusion, hurt, surprise and all he could do was look at her parted lips, pink and soft like rose petals. An age he had kept quiet of his love, holding it inside and now all he wanted to do was lean down and kiss her – perhaps this was the chance he'd always wanted, 'My Nauglamir.' the name came out as barely a breath but it seemed right, Thranduil leant forward to cover his lips with hers and found he had to abandon the movement to avoid her head hitting his nose.
'Did I insult you?' She asked as she righted herself on the branches, moving backwards to create a void between them, 'Of course I have. You have better things to do than indulge one of my dalliances.' She was suddenly cold to him and the prince felt his entire being spike with anguish as she motioned for them to leave the treetops.
'Wait!' He scrambled down after her, catching up on a thick branch that she now sat upon stiffly. He'd upset her, all she had wanted to do was touch him and he'd over reacted...or perhaps not. The enchantment that hid his scarred face was visually faultless, he'd never tried to touch it – terrified it would ruin the illusion and that everyone would see. When she had reached for him, he hadn't seen her hand at first, his blind eye oblivious and it wasn't until he caught the movement with his right eye that he moved away instinctively. An age of training and the battles that eventually led to Doriath's fall telling him to move before he was struck instead of accepting it as the kindness it was. 'Forgive me, I was distracted and thought you were a moth – I would indulge you even if it meant getting tree sap in my hair.' He offered his hand to her and she took it without hesitation, 'It would be my honour to teach you swordplay.'
He had kept his promise and every morning they would find a clearing and he would teach her, the same way Oropher had taught him, how best to take some ones head off with a sharp stick. She often made the mistake of getting to close, something natural to someone who used daggers but fatal for a sword user. Despite his love for her and perhaps because of it Thranduil was a merciless tutor and she would end up on the ground more times than either could count. It frustrated her and the complaints of tangled hair at then end of each lesson were constant. 'If we were still in Doriath you would be thrown in a cell for dumping me in the mud – probably executed for messing my hair!' She gave him a shove as they walked side by side.
Thranduil barely moved from the playful push, laughing at her pout he replied, 'War is not gentle or patient and it has no care what so ever for the hair on your head. I lost a great chunk of mine the first time I stood with a sword against my Father.'
'I should be grateful that you are my teacher then.' She was running her fingers through her hair, forcing them through the knotted ends, 'I sometimes forget you fought battles, there were so many after Thingol was slain and then the dragons...I very nearly sailed with everyone else but I was not ready to leave.'
The prince nodded, more to himself, he had not wanted to sail either. He stopped and sat himself down on a fallen tree, gesturing for her to sit beside her before taking her hand gently and removing it from her hair. 'Might I suggest you braid your hair for tomorrow,' he saw her eyes glance at his own braids, two either side of his head that led to a larger one at the back, 'It would save you from these.' he waved one of her knotted ends in her face, her nose wrinkling as it was tickled and she gave him a swift kick in the shin.
'And I think you should try loose hair to see just how you like it!' They laughed and spoke for a long while, sharing the picnic she had brought and reliving a few fond memories of their home across the sea. It wasn't long before Thranduil found himself captivated by her entire being as was usual when in her presence, he found his eyes drawn to her lips as they were nearly a month ago in the tree. His hands were still busy with smoothing out her golden strands, she was close enough to just lean forward and kiss – close enough that he could tell her that she was his his moon, stars, sun – his very reason for existing. He would do it this time and then he would carry her home to tell everyone that she was his.
Before he could finish those thoughts she was suddenly up on her feet, the daggers that usually sat on her slim hips were in her hands, pale blue eyes hard and focussed. He stood too, his head turning to regard he creature among the trees, it stood like a man but it was twisted and foul. 'What is this thing doing so close to your father's lands?'
Thranduil drew his sword and stepped forward, not in front of her for that would cause her wrath but beside her as an equal, though he had no qualms with pushing her aside to protect her should the need arise. 'Orcs have been encroaching for weeks now, never so close though...would you like to do the honours?'
'I do not want to spend hours getting its stink from my weapon – all yours, my prince.'
He'd cut it down with one swift move, its head left its body and thick, black blood was spilled onto the wood's floor. They'd immediately set off at a run towards home, needing to let the guard know there was trouble and the wood needed to be swept up of more foul things, 'You did not see that thing until I stood up,' she told him as they ducked under a low branch, 'And do not dare tell me you were distracted because it was more in your line of sight than mine!'
'I do not have to explain anything to you – why have you stopped!?' More to the point – why was she glaring at him as if he were an orc? 'We need to go.'
'I will have you remember just who you a speaking to, Thranduil. You may be a high elf prince now but I was once above you in title and I do not recall ever using it against you. “Explain anything to you”' she nearly spat, 'You are my dearest friend and I thought you trusted me.'
'...And you are so very dear to me, more than you know. Please, we need to warn the others before someone gets hurt.'
'The same way you may have been hurt if I had not of been with you?' She wasn't the type to let things go and Thranduil knew she was as stubborn as he was on occasion, 'Tell me.'
Thranduil's jaw clenched and he reached for the large ring on his finger, a white gem held in silver, it kept his enchantment in place and he was contemplating taking it off. How would she react to his face? To the burns that marred him, the muscle and sinew that was revealed just as plainly as his teeth. No. He let go of his ring and straightened his back in the cold demeanour his father often had. She wouldn't want to see the hole in his face that dragon's breath had left, 'I was blinded in this eye. It is not a battle story I want to talk about.'
'Then we will not talk about it.' She said gently coming to his side and taking his hand, 'Now, stop standing around! We need to warn the others!' They made it home without incident and told the elven king of what had occurred. They didn't know it at the time but this was just the beginning of something far more terrible, the shadow of the Dark Lord Sauron fell upon it, and men began to call it Mirkwood. From then on, Mirkwood became a haunted place inhabited by many dark and savage things. Sauron established himself at the hill-fortress of Dol Guldur on Amon Lanc within its southern region, and drove Oropher and his people ever northward.
And in all this time, Thranduil never spoke of his love for her.