Thorin had never before seen an Elf in his life, but he supposed even by Elven standards, their Woodland King was a creature of ethereal beauty. Softly spun robes of dark grey and silver, sparsely decorated in an intricate pattern that traveled up his back like spider webs, drifted around his slender frame as he glided forward on the stone bridge. A crown of berries and red leaves adorned his head, thin stick like branches rising up toward the ceiling. His lustrous hair hung down in silky straight locks down to his waist, the pale gold pairing nicely with his milky complexion. What caught his attention the most, however, were the blue eyes gazing out of the King's face. They were like pools of liquid sapphire, wisdom and experience far beyond what his youthful face implied dwelling within.
His guards wore a plainer garb, clad in dark greens and browns, the colors of the forest. A sword was sheathed at their sides. They were all ridiculously tall and towered over his kin as they neared. The guards all had varying shades of brown hair, one even dark like his own, though the texture was far finer than any dwarf might possess. Each step was fluid and precise, grace exuding in their every movement. Thorin stood by his grandfather's throne, an impressive structure in and of itself. The Arkenstone shone from its place above Thrór's head. The King of the Woodland Realm tilted his head in respect to his grandfather, and Thrór nodded in acknowledgement to his homage.
One of his grandfather's servants shuffled forward, a carved wooden box clasped in his arms. Thranduil glanced up at his grandfather, and Thrór nodded again in an unspoken answer. The Woodland King stepped forward from his guards and walked to stand in front of the servant. The servant opened up the chest with a soft creak. Glistening light seemed to bounce off and exude from the white gems nestled in the chest. The Woodland King looked entranced, staring in silence at the white gems of Lasgalen. There was a sadness that sparked in the King's eyes that remained off the rest of his face, but Thorin was stunned by the emotion.
Thranduil reached his hand out to the chest. Thrór's hands tightened on the armrests of his throne, and the chest was shut with a click. The Woodland King jerked his hand back in shock. He blinked, brilliant blue eyes wide, and looked up at his grandfather. The sadness was gone, and it was replaced with a deep hurt. Thorin looked over at his grandfather in confusion. He thought they were giving the gems to the Elves. Thrór remained tense on this throne. Thorin's attention was drawn back to the Elven King. The hurt in his eyes didn't fade, but it was laced with veiled anger as his pink lips tilted up at the edges in a small, empty smile.
The Woodland King turned on his heel, and he strode back down the stone bridge, dark grey robes swirling around his body like a storm. His guards obediently followed him as he walked out into the halls to the guest chambers. Thorin felt an inexplicable ache of sympathy for the King. He didn't understand why the gems were so precious to the Elf, but he didn't want to see him so sad. It was just so wrong for such a creature to be that way.
Thranduil and his guards barely spoke at all during the mandatory welcoming feast that his grandfather had prepared. It wasn't until afterwards, anyway, that Thorin managed to corner the Woodland King on the way back to his chambers. He actually grabbed onto his sleeve and ripped it in his haste to speak to him. The King's guard placed his hand on his blade hilt. Thranduil made a gesture with his hand, and the guard halted his motion to draw it. The Woodland King looked at his torn sleeve and then him, his brows twitching slightly in askance. Thorin hurriedly released the garment and felt his cheeks flush.
"I apologize, uh, your highness," he said. "I was just trying to get your attention."
"Well, you certainly have my attention now, young prince," Thranduil replied quietly. His voice was soft and lilting, pouring into Thorin's ears like silk.
"Y-yes, thank you," Thorin said.
He reached into his cloak, and the guard stiffened. Thranduil shook his head minutely. Thorin pulled out a package wrapped in leather. He felt a bit stupid for doing this. But it was the right thing. The gold fever was clouding was clouding his grandfather's mind. His decisions were becoming poorer and poorer as the days went on. Thorin wasn't an idiot. Still, his grandfather was going to be furious if he ever found out what he did.
Thorin handed it to the Elf, and Thranduil looked down at it for a few seconds before his slender hands undid the twine and pulled the leather open. The Woodland King glanced up at him with startled blue eyes.
"Why?" was his question. Thorin curled his toes in his boots.
"Let it not be said that a Durin's son does not honor his word, King Thranduil," he said. His voice came out more confident than he felt. "I learned of the deal for these you made with us, so I am only upholding my people's side of the bargain." He managed a smile. "The relations between our peoples should not suffer over such a small thing."
Thranduil was silent, the soft starlight from the white gems lighting up his fair face. His eyes enraptured Thorin, making it impossible to look away. There was an emotion he couldn't quite identify glinting out of them. A slight, genuine smile spread across the Woodland King's face. Thorin's chest warmed.
"I thank you, Thorin Oakenshield," Thranduil said. He tilted his head to Thorin. The gems were rewrapped with deft fingers, and the Elf held them to his chest gently. "Should you ever require a boon of me, if it is within my power to provide it, I shall."
The Woodland King gave him another small smile before he glided off down the dark hall. The guard eyed him contemplatively for a second, but he quickly followed his King. Thorin let out a breath and tried to calm his heart, still pounding from his encounter.
Legolas came into the world at the first light of dawn, right as the morning sun kissed the treetops of Mirkwood. The moments leading up to his birth were painful, but his bereth, so polodren, kept repeating a mantra under her breath through the times that seemed to be unbearable – ‘with great labor comes great reward – pain is temporary’. It started at twilight when she first felt the discomfort from the first of many contractions, and it only escalated as the night continued.
In Eru’s name, Thranduil had not experienced such an ache in his heart before as when he saw his beloved in the excruciating pain of labor. He felt helpless against this natural thing, wanting nothing more than to ease her suffering but knowing it was necessary. He was a constant source of reassurance to her throughout the labor, never leaving her side and allowing her to constantly squeeze his hand once the pains were nearly intolerable. His Aurélia apologized, of course, for nearly breaking his fingers, but he merely smiled and replied that what she was going through was far more painful than a little squeeze to the hand. She responded with a shaky smile and a harder squeeze to his hand, turning his knuckles white.
Their little Leaf came into the world with a resounding cry, and he knew from then on, that the worst of it was now behind them. It was often said that one did not know love until they held their newborn for the first time, and Thranduil had never truly understood what that meant until he experienced it himself. It was as if the world stopped spinning, and his very soul gravitated towards the little bundle in his arms - it was then when he knew that he would treasure him in his heart forever, and that his son would be loved for eternities to come.
"My little Leaf, not a day will go by where you are not loved," his Aurélia whispered to the babe.
"Aye, dilthen las. Your naneth and ada love you very much," Thranduil said.
Aurélia, his lend tinu, sweet star, cradled their darling little Leaf in her arms, stroking his pale blonde hair, barely more than a dusting of fluff, adoration on her face. It made her glow. He took a moment to appreciate the sight of his wife and son in silence. It warmed his heart. Thranduil stepped silently behind her and covered her eyes with his hands. Aurélia gasped in surprise and then scowled. She smacked his hands away with one of her own.
"Thranduil! Naughtui adan," his wife scolded.
"My love," he said with a smile. "How is our dilthen las?"
"Legolas is well, herven," Aurélia replied.
Legolas looked up as if in response to his name being spoken, his mother's blue eyes blinking out of his little face. He smiled a gummy smile and waved a tiny hand at Thranduil. Thranduil let his son grab his finger.
"Laes missed his ada," Aurélia said.
"Oh, I'm sorry, little Leaf," Thranduil murmured.
He accepted the babe from his wife and held him in his arms. Legolas cooed happily. His Aurélia smiled at him and moved to sit on a low hanging branch. Moonlight shone in her silver hair, making it seem almost white, like the light of the stars.
"Nin mel," Aurélia said. "What is this?"
"A gift, lend tinu," Thranduil answered with a smile.
He lifted one of the small white gems and placed it in her smooth palm. It sparkled exquisitely against her pale skin. His wife gave him a curious look.
"These will make a necklace for you," Thranduil explained softly. "They would compliment your beauty so well."
"But I don't need any more jewelry," Aurélia said.
"It is only a gift, from a husband to a wife, nin mel," Thranduil murmured. He pressed her fingers closed and placed a gentle kiss to her knuckles. His wife chuckled and shook her head fondly.
"How you spoil me, Thranduil," Aurélia said.
"Aye," Thranduil agreed. "And I shall continue to do so as long as you allow me, lend tinu."
She eyed the small box of shimmering gems with a furrowed brow.
"Are they not from Lasgalen?" his wife asked.
"They are. But worry not. It was nothing we could not afford," Thranduil assured her. She made a little hmm and shook her head again.
"Our little Leaf has made a new friend," Aurélia said.
"Aye?" Thranduil murmured.
"A young Silvan, Tauriel," Aurélia told him. "A sweet little thing. So polite."
"That is good news," Thranduil said.
Legolas was usually quite quiet and didn't make friends very easily. It was good news that his son was beginning to make connections with others his age, even if it was a Silvan. It wasn't as if he was marrying her. Friends could be anyone. Social classes didn't matter in that way.
The light of his sweet star was snuffed out by the evil, the filth, that resided in Gundabad. Her body was painted with the red of her blood and fading purplish blue bruises of the torment she endured at the hands of the Orcs. Thranduil carried her out of that horrid place and laid her down in the forest clearing where they had met for the first time. He never spoke her name again.
I Ithil ned nîn fuin
I tinu ned nîn hen
I caun ned nîn dîn
I athrad ned nîn men
The Elves sensed the changed in their King. He was no longer as warm as he had been. A shadow seemed to fall over his heart, and he grew to be cold and austere to all but his only son, Legolas. His little Leaf was one of the last good things his wife had left him. His heart ached whenever he saw her eyes looking at him from his son's face, but he loved Legolas far too much to ever take it out on him.
Thranduil was angered when the Dwarf King refused to return to him the gems of Lasgalen, his wife's gift that she would never receive. He could do naught about it, however, so he held his tongue as always and retreated to his chambers. He was surprised that Thrór's own grandchild would give it to him. He waited until he was alone in his room before he let the tears fall.
lend tinu: sweet star
dilthen las: little leaf
naughtui adan: naughty man
nin mel: my love
Nîn bain. I Ithil ned nîn fuin. I tinu ned nîn hen. Nîn maethor. I caun ned nîn dîn. I athrad ned nîn men. Nîn meleth.: My beautiful. The moon in my night. The star in my eye. My warrior. The outcry in my silence. The crossing of my road. My love. (Poem by Jonathan [link is: http://www.theonering.com/reading-room/poetry/nin-meleth-my-love-sindarin-love-poem])
The first sign of the end of their fragile peace was the sound not unlike a hurricane coming in from the north. Pine trees creaked and cracked in the hot, dry wind, branches whipping and trunks swaying under the harsh gale. Thorin ran up the stone steps of the battlement. Balin looked toward him as he came closer.
"Balin. Sound the alarm," Thorin said. He walked around him, and a broken flag stick whooshed past, thunking on the wall, nearly smacking into their heads. They ducked just in time. "Call out the Guard. Do it now!"
"What is it?" Balin asked.
His dark hair whipped in front of his face. Thorin shook it away from his eyes.
"Dragon," he answered his adviser.
The older dwarf's eyes widened. Thorin turned to the railing and leaned over.
"Dragon!" he shouted. "Dragon!"
The civilians below started to move in a fearful frenzy. There was a loud crackling noise, and Thorin looked back. The beast roared. Flames rained down from the sky. Thorin ran forward and grabbed his adviser around the waist, hauling him behind a large stone pillar. They both panted, and Thorin felt blood pound through his ears. The blistering heat whooshed around the sides of the pillar, flames licking close. Thorin kept them both pressed to the pillar, carefully out of the way of the fire.
Thorin led the Guard to the door to the Great Hall. Their weaponry clanged, and the sound of their footfalls echoed against the stone floor. Fire shone reddish orange through the cracks in the wood. He could hear the beast roar. It was a bone chilling noise. The door shattered under the dragon's mighty scaled paws in a spray of wood and metal. Thorin held his sword at the ready.
"Kahr! Tal'!" he yelled.
The stone section above the door broke, and rock rained down on the dwarves. One swipe of the beast's red paw had a dozen of his men flying into the wall. Their terrified and pained screams flooded his ears, accompanied by the rumble of the dragon. Thorin was knocked the floor and just barely avoided being crushed by a falling stone. He covered his head with his arm, and the ground shuddered under the dragon's footsteps. Thorin pushed himself onto his knees as its great tail slithered past him.
He darted between the burning wreckage and ran up the steps to the throne room. His grandfather let out an anguished cry as the Arkenstone tumbled from his fingers, and it disappeared in a wave of gold coins. The dragon roared. Thorin grabbed his grandfather up from the ground and pulled him back. Thrór struggled against him, growling something in Khuzdul that was too low for him to make out. Thorin held out his sword and continued to drag his grandfather with him. The beast's wings sent up the gold coins up in a wild torrent, and it tossed its head from side to side.
"Ka'az, Ka'az. Tal' morred," Thorin said. He had his father's arm slung around his shoulder, and he was doing his best to help the older, injured dwarf walk faster.
His people ran all around him out from the exit, some screaming, some crying. Men and women, young and old, were side by side. Ash stained his face and the faces of many others. He glanced around, and his eyes landed on a most welcome sight. The Elven King of the Woodland Realm sat atop a massive elk, clad in dark silver armor, at the crest of the hill overlooking the city of Men. An army of Elves stood at his back, marching in their even lines. Thorin let go of his father and gently pressed him on forward.
"Cover your eyes," he instructed the child that darted past him.
Thorin looked back at the Elves. Thranduil had stopped, and he was looking down at them. The dwarf prince waved his arms.
"Help! Help us!" Thorin shouted to him in Westron.
There a moment of nothing. His heart pounded.
The Woodland King tilted his head at him finally, and he made a gesture with his right hand. His lips moved, but Thorin had no idea what he said. He was too far away to hear him. The Elves began to march down toward them. The Elven soldiers that reached them first helped to carry the wounded, their long arms easily wrapping around the dwarves and lifting them with unnatural strength.
Thorin had to reassure many of them that the Elves were fine and not going to harm them, murmuring in Khuzdul to the older dwarves. While his people still looked at the Elves warily, they allowed themselves to be led up the hill to safety. A cool hand grabbed his, and the guard he had seen earlier with Thranduil pulled the dwarf prince with him. The guard chirped something in Sindarin at him, his tone stern. Thorin didn't know whether to be offended or not, but he held his tongue.
On the top of the hill, his grandfather was saying something to the Woodland King. Thranduil regarded him coolly, tilting his elegant head.
"You mistake my intentions, your majesty," the Elf said. "I do this not for charity or for some sort of loyalty to you. I owe your beloved grandson a boon, and I am not one to go back on my word."
Thorin felt his grandfather's wild gaze fall on him.
"Follow us, if you will," Thranduil called. "I shall provide shelter for you and your kin."
"Thank you, your highness," Thorin said.
"As I said, it is within my power, and what you did for me, young prince, I appreciate. You returned what belonged na nin bereth," the Woodland King replied, slipping into his native tongue in the end of his sentence. His grandfather looked as though he were about to say something rash, so he quickly grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back. He received a scowl from the older dwarf for his troubles.