3. Tears & Temper Tantrums
Motioning his older sons on to prepare for the evening meal, he nudged open the door to Legolas' room. He quickly found a night tunic and slipped it over Legolas' head, and was just tucking the child into bed when he heard Tathiel's soft whisper behind him.
"An afternoon of swimming and playing has worn him out," Thranduil whispered back. "I do not think he would even wake up to eat." He saw her about to sit next to the bed, and touched her gently at the elbow. "Come. For the rest of us, it is time for dinner. Meriwen will listen for him."
Dinner was a lively affair, with the new pool the main topic of conversation. Tathiel was easily drawn into plans to bring Eärundra to the pool the next day, and there was hopeful discussion that this would aid her. Lathron and Celebrinduil were busy describing the fun Legolas had had in the water, and Elenath had moved to sit near Bregolas, telling him about her novice training and her latest archery marks.
"I saw Tinánia on the archery field with the youngest of the elves in practice. She is really quite good," Elenath added. "I had forgotten how young she is - and how small. Her shots do not have much power yet, but she is one of the most accurate."
Bregolas smiled. "I am glad she does not have much power yet." Laughter rippled around the table.
"The others do not know she shot you, do they?" Tathiel looked horrified.
"No, I told her we would not tell anyone. To be the youngest and smallest is enough of a burden," Bregolas laughed.
"Meren is helping lead this archery class," Elenath informed them. "She paired Tinánia with another of similar skill. She did not seem burdened."
Elumeril slipped from her chair and walked down to her father. She tugged on his sleeve when he did not seem to notice her there.
"Adar, may I be excused?"
Thranduil turned to regard his youngest daughter. He glanced quickly at her spot at the table, and then back at her, noting the troubled look in her eyes.
"You did not eat much, Elumeril."
"I am not hungry, Ada."
Thranduil saw the threat of a tear in her eye, and he reached for her to come sit in his lap, but she pulled away with a defiant flash in her eye
"I am not a baby, Adar!"
"No, you are not. Do you wish to talk?" Thranduil was very surprised by such behavior from this most compliant of children.
"No, Ada. I just want to return to my room."
Thranduil nodded that she might go, and she nearly flew from the room. He turned to the questioning faces of his other children, all of whom had caught the end of that conversation.
"Does anyone know why Elumeril is upset? Did something happen today?" Thranduil asked.
Shaking heads and murmurs of 'No, Adar' filled the room. The end of dinner was a quiet affair, as each considered what might be troubling Elumeril.
* * *
Thranduil knocked softly on the door, and entered when a soft voice called to him. He entered, and looked around the room. Everything was in its place; however Elumeril had spent her time since dinner, it had not involved any play or reading. She was lying on her bed on her stomach, and she turned her head to face him as he came in. She had been crying; her eyes were swollen and red, and a handkerchief was crushed in her hand. Thranduil moved to sit next to her, and this time she did not resist when he pulled her into his arms.
"Elumeril, please tell me what is wrong," he whispered as he gently stroked her hair.
"I am just being silly," Elumeril sobbed. "I have no reason to be upset."
"You must have some reason, or you would not be upset," Thranduil reasoned.
He rocked her as she cried, her sobs finally slowing. "Nothing is the same, Ada." She sat up and faced him. "Somehow I thought when Tinánia came home and Legolas, that life would be like it used to be. But it is not. Naneth is still gone, and my little brother does not know me and Tinánia is off with her archery, and Ada, I feel so alone!" With that she flung her arms about his neck and the sobs started again.
Thranduil held her tight and let her cry. In his heart he grieved with her. Narawen was still gone, and Elumeril was so young to not have a mother. Her baby brother should adore her most of all his siblings, and instead he was most comfortable with her friend. Her best friend was back, but she was changed. Elumeril was still very much a child, and Tinánia was not.
And Thranduil could not fix any of this.
He rocked Elumeril until she fell asleep in his arms, and then he gently tucked her into bed. He smoothed the hair back from her face and kissed her forehead. He looked at her for several minutes, thinking, wondering; if Narawen could give him advice, what would she say?
* * *
Thranduil entered the family sitting room to find his four older children and Tathiel present. A raised eyebrow showed his surprise, but he moved to accept the goblet of wine Lathron offered him. All faces watched him expectantly.
"Adar, did you speak to Elumeril?" Elenath finally asked.
Thranduil settled himself in his favorite chair before answering. "Yes, we spoke briefly. Mostly she cried, until she fell asleep." He stopped and sipped the wine, then stretched his neck, resting his head briefly against the back of the chair.
"Why is she upset, Adar?" Lathron questioned.
"I do not know what expectations Elumeril may have had, about how life might be when those missing were returned," he answered slowly, "but I think she is finding it difficult to find her place in this new setting. Despite great rejoicing at their homecoming, she has realized her mother is not coming back. She has a much awaited younger brother, but he does not know her. And her dearest friend has returned, but changed. She is overwhelmed and feels alone."
Despite his own grief at seeing Elumeril hurting, Thranduil took a strange pride in seeing the grief on the faces of his other children. Bregolas looked much as Thranduil felt - like he wished to instantly fix that which was hurting his sister. The clenching and unclenching of his fists, a characteristic he seemed to have picked up from his father, spoke to his own frustration that he could not. Lathron's face mirrored the hurt Thranduil had seen earlier on Elumeril's face, and Thranduil knew this son would be the one to comfort his sister. Celebrinduil appeared grieved, but as if struggling with guilt, for he had worked tirelessly to see to Eärundra's needs and perhaps ignored those closer yet to his heart. In Elenath, Thranduil saw pain, for she had struggled with continuing her own novice training when she felt her family - her little sister - might need her more. Regret began to fill her eyes. Thranduil allowed them to consider his words for a few moments, then continued.
"We cannot bring your mother back; we can only try to love Elumeril the best we can. She is so young to not have a mother, but she has all of us. Her relationship with Legolas will take time, as it will with us all. I do not doubt that not too long into the future she will be wishing for peace from him." Thranduil allowed himself a smile as he saw the knowing looks on all their faces. The child was a ball of energy. "Her friendship with Tinánia will be different, for that child has been changed by what she has been through. The difference in their ages used to be inconsequential; now Tinánia seems much older. We love the daughters of Urithral and will support them, while we also help Elumeril adjust to how their friendship has changed."
"Ada, I will bring Elumeril to the pool tomorrow and ask for her opinions on the gardens. She has Nana's eye for beauty and will offer good ideas," Celebrinduil offered.
"I know that Elumeril would enjoy that, and it would help her to contribute to the venture. I know she would like to help Eärundra as well," Thranduil replied.
Lathron was staring at the wall, at a tapestry depicting the beauty of the forest and the splendor of their palace built in the rock "Adar, Elumeril loves the tapestries. Naneth was going to begin to teach her to weave. May I find a weaver who might teach her? That will occupy her hands and her mind, and I think help her to remember Nana as well."
Thranduil felt tears threaten his own eyes. He had forgotten about that, forgotten that Narawen had been planning that. "Yes, Lathron. That is a fine idea. Please, see to it and keep me informed."
"Adar, I can withdraw from training," Elenath began, but Thranduil and Bregolas both stopped her.
"No, sell-nín, that is not the answer. Then I would have two unhappy daughters," Thranduil answered gently. "In the evenings, when you are free, spend some time with your sister. She values any time you can spare her, but she would not want you to stop your training."
A knock at the door interrupted the conversation, and a palace guard bowed as he entered. "My apologies for disturbing you at this late hour, my Lord. A messenger has arrived from Lothlórien. He bears this scroll and says he was instructed to await your reply."
Bregolas took the scroll from the guard's hands and handed it to his father. "It is late; please see that the messenger is provided food and drink, and a bed for the night," Bregolas instructed the guard.
Thranduil noted the seal of the Lady Galadriel before breaking it to read the contents. He read through the message several times before turning to his sons. "Bregolas, we shall meet to consider the contents of this scroll in the morning. Lathron, please see that Urithral is so informed as well." He stood, for he wished for solitude in which to consider this missive. As he bid his children good night, he noted Tathiel sitting quietly in the corner and beckoned for her to follow him into the hallway.
"Legolas is sleeping, and I shall be in my chamber should he awake. Please see to Rawien, he appeared rather…lonely….shall we say, when I saw him earlier."
Tathiel blushed, and Thranduil laughed as he sent her on her way. He read many things in people and knew that she too would be watching over his daughter.
Thranduil opened the door between his chamber and Legolas', that he might hear the child should he awake, and then sat at his desk, the scroll open before him, as he composed his reply. The short response acknowledging receipt of the letter and his willingness to participate took only a few moments, and he quickly sealed it that the messenger might be on his way early the next morning. His mind, though, was drawn to the meaning of the letter, the words of the Lady, and he felt an almost bitter taste arise in his mouth. He pushed aside his thoughts and decided to concentrate on the facts at hand, and what contribution he might make. A slight noise from the next room caught his attention, and he rose to check on his smallest son.
The little figure was tangled in the bedclothes, one leg twisted in the sheets and blankets while the other was free and kicking at covers. Yet he remained fast asleep, in dreams, fingers fluttering in the air before falling back to his pillow. Thranduil leaned closer to hear the child's mutterings, and nearly laughed aloud as he caught snips of 'do it again, Duil' and 'Lafron' and 'Bregles throw me'. He knew he would cherish the memory of his sons together in the pool; apparently so would this little one.
He gently untangled the blankets, but instead of covering the child back up and tucking him in again, he lifted Legolas in his arms and wrapped him snugly in a blanket. He settled himself into the rocking chair, cradling the little one against his chest, and smiling as Legolas snuggled himself in close and immediately found a braid of his father's hair. He cuddled the hair against his face in a little fist, and with a sigh, quieted into deep sleep once again. Thranduil returned his thoughts to the letter, knowing that the one he held in his arms had been born tangled into a time and events greater than himself.
* * *
Dawn had not yet broken when Tathiel felt a thump and then was descended upon by a small blur of white. Legolas bounced off of her, then scrambled under the blankets and cuddled up next to her. She pretended to be asleep, then felt tiny fingers creeping over her, tickling her, and unable to restrain herself she laughed and scooted away from him. Giggles erupted from under the covers, and a tousled blond head popped up from the blankets.
"Legles tickled Tafiel!" he cried in delight. "Tafiel get up," he demanded, trying to drag the covers down.
"It is too early to get up, tithen caun," she whispered back, holding the blankets in place. "Everyone is still sleeping."
He sat back on the blanket and crossed his arms over his chest. "Legles go to pool."
"We will go to the pool later, with Eärundra," answered Tathiel.
"No, go now," Legolas pleaded.
"After breakfast, when Eärundra and Tinánia and Ethiwen arrive," Tathiel explained. "Elumeril and you and I will go to the pool with them."
Legolas stared at her defiantly, and Tathiel was a little surprised. He normally took being told 'no' well, and it was generally easy to turn his attention elsewhere. "Bring woolf and tell me a story," she coaxed him.
He slid off the bed and padded back to his room. She assumed he was going to get woolf, and was more surprised when she heard his voice raised again. She slipped on a robe and went to his room. To her surprise, he was standing before his ada, arms crossed defiantly over his chest and the same demanding look on his face.
"Legles go to pool now!" His little foot actually was tapping on the ground.
Thranduil was amused but hid it well. "Did you ask Tathiel?"
"Tafiel said no," Legolas pouted. "Ada take Legles to pool!"
Thranduil scooped the child up in his arms. "Ada has work to do. Did Tathiel say you could go to the pool later, when Eärundra comes to visit?"
"Don't want to wait for Rundra!" Legolas cried in dismay.
"I am sorry to hear that," Thranduil replied. He was firm though. "But you will have to wait until later."
Legolas did something he had never done before. He began to squirm and kick at the one holding him, striking small blows with his fists, and crying his frustration as well. Thranduil was not caught off guard; by the seventh child one recognized the arrival of a temper-tantrum, but glancing up he saw the shock on Tathiel's face. She appeared ready to approach him and take the misbehaving child, but he raised a hand to motion her back.
"Legolas, stop!" he said firmly, his voice stern and powerful - his king voice, the other children called it.
Legolas immediately stopped and stared in confusion at his father. A face he had to date only associated with love now looked upon him sternly.
"When I tell you 'no', or Tathiel tells you 'no', it means the answer is no. Do not ask me after Tathiel has said no, or ask Tathiel after I have said no. That is behavior I will not tolerate from my son," Thranduil explained slowly, yet still very sternly.
Legolas drew away and looked over his shoulder at Tathiel, his lower lip trembling. Tathiel's face was impassive. He turned back to his ada, genuine tears running down his cheeks and small sobs starting. He touched his father's face softly. "..Sorry..Ada," he hiccupped, his little voice catching as he tried not to cry.
Thranduil pulled him close, hugging him gently, pressing the small head to his shoulder. Legolas sobbed for a few moments more, then just clung to Ada's neck.
"I love you, Legolas," Thranduil whispered softly as he stroked the small head.
"I love you, Ada," Legolas whispered back.
"Are you ready to go with Tathiel now, and get dressed and have breakfast?"
"Yes, Ada," Legolas answered contritely. "Go to pool when Rundra comes?"
"Yes, Legolas," Thranduil stifled his laugh. "You may go when Eärundra comes and Tathiel says it is time to go to the pool."
Legolas patted his father's cheek again. "When Tafiel says," he agreed.
Thranduil placed the elfling on the ground, and watched in amusement as he raced to his small wardrobe to find clothing to wear. He nodded to Tathiel and left to start what would be a very busy day.
Tathiel watched her King leave, and the little elfling do as instructed and felt a new respect for Thranduil not as a king, or as a person, but as a father. She also felt a great sense of relief, for she truly understood now that she was no longer parenting this child alone.
* * * * *
tithen caun-------------little prince
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.