6. Memories - or Legolas' bad day
Thranduil returned the smile at his little elfling as he reached beneath the table and caught the foot before it impacted the wood again.
"Ada has my foot!" Legolas squealed and squirmed to get away, but he was held fast.
Thranduil pushed his chair back and pulled the elfling into his lap. "You did not give Ada a hug and you are beating on the table," he listed the child's crimes.
Legolas stood on his father's knees and wrapped his arms about Thranduil's neck and squeezed him tight. Thranduil felt the warm breath at his neck, and he breathed in the scent of clean elfling. He had asked Narawen once why small elflings had such a wonderful smell about them.
Legolas leaned back in his father's arms, fingers immediately reaching to play with the braids hanging within easy reach.
"Legles see Sadron today," he announced. He looked at his father carefully. "'Nesta says so."
Thranduil grinned. "If Camnesta says you may visit, then you may. I am sure Sadron would like to see you."
"Sadron hurt," Legolas reminded him. He thought for a moment. "Sadron feel better if he swims with Legles."
Celebrinduil howled with laughter at that; Bregolas, Lathron and Elumeril all joining in. Legolas clung to his father, unsure of why everyone was suddenly laughing at him.
"He will find any excuse to play in the pool," Celebrinduil laughed. "Where does he get his charm from, Adar?"
Thranduil snorted, then studied the child. "From his mother, obviously."
"Because Naneth could talk Adar out of his crown, jewels and clothing, and naked he would leave, thankful for the privilege of doing business with her," Bregolas and Lathron recited together.
Thranduil laughed, as did all at the table, for it was a well known family saying. He found himself surprised that he did not feel pain at the thought. Glancing at the faces of his children, he saw only joy. He looked again at his little elfling. Perhaps having Legolas, having this last gift from Narawen, did help to ease the pain.
Legolas began to grin too, for although he had no idea what his family was talking about, he did like the laughter. He caught the excitement of his siblings and began to bounce on his ada's legs. "Adadadadddadada!" he shouted.
Thranduil winced and simultaneously clapped one hand over the elfling's mouth while flipping the child on his back and gently tickled him. Legolas' shouting gave way to muffled giggles, and Thranduil allowed him to calm while cuddling him to his chest.
"Now, elfling, are you ready for breakfast?" Thranduil asked, one hand hovering over the elfling's mouth, just in case he should let forth another volley of sound.
Legolas smiled and nodded. Thranduil set him upright and put him back in his chair just as the food was served. Legolas tucked in without another word, eating as if he had not been fed in some time.
Thranduil noted Tathiel watching Legolas with pain evident in her eyes. As he observed her, he thought he saw a tear in the corner of her eye. She neglected her own breakfast to watch the child eat, one hand reaching up to smooth away the hair the elfling was eating with his breakfast.
"Tathiel, what are you thinking of?" Thranduil asked. He spoke quietly so as to not interrupt the enthused conversation among his other four children.
"A memory, my Lord," Tathiel answered.
"An unpleasant one?" Thranduil prodded.
Tathiel took a deep breath. "The day we were rescued the children were very hungry. Legolas was so pale and cold, and he did not even ask for food for there was none to give him. Even at his young age he knew this. I nursed him, but it was not enough," she explained.
Thranduil stood and went to the chest of drawers along the wall. He opened the top drawer, and pulled out several drawings that Sadron had made of Legolas. He found the one that he was looking for and returned to the table. He laid it before Tathiel.
"I treasure this," he said.
Tathiel looked upon the drawing and felt tears welling over. It was of Legolas, sitting at the campsite near Dorwinia, with roast chicken in one hand, buttered bread in the other and a pile of berries and nuts in his lap. His cheeks were full, and his concentration intent on what he would eat next.
"That was the first really good meal he had had since the previous fall," she said, her voice breaking. "The first time where the amount of food each could eat was unlimited. He licked every bit of butter off his hands," she remembered. She looked up and smiled at the King. "This is a much better memory, my Lord."
"Eat, Tathiel," Thranduil ordered her gently. "You alone of the four still need to regain the weight and strength you lost. I will not have it be said that my table was insufficient for your needs."
Tathiel looked up sharply to see the king smiling. She sighed in relief, but when he pointed at her plate, she took the order for what it was and finished her own breakfast.
* * *
"Sadron!" Legolas called as soon as he spotted his friend.
Sadron was sitting up on his bed as Camnesta inspected his wound and changed the dressings. He smiled and waved merrily at Legolas. "Elfling! Did you come to visit me?"
Legolas walked cautiously to stand next to Camnesta. "Legles visit Sadron," he agreed while peering at the wound that Camnesta was bandaging. As the healer wound the last strip of linen about the wound he felt a small finger holding the bandage in place. He looked down at the elfling, then removed his own finger and used both hands to tie off the bandage. Legolas grinned at him. "Legles help!"
"Legolas is a good helper," Camnesta answered as he tousled the youngster's hair. "How do you like swimming in the pool, elfling?"
Legolas brightened immediately. He caught Sadron's hand in his and said, "Sadron feel better if he swims with Legles!"
Camnesta laughed. "Not quite yet, Legolas. Sadron cannot swim while wearing these bandages."
Legolas began to tug at the ties of the linen. "Off! Sadron take off and swim."
Sadron grinned and turned to Camnesta. "I love the literalness of elflings." He gently pulled Legolas' hands away. "I need the bandages still, Legolas. When the hurt is gone, then I will swim with you."
Legolas' face fell and he patted Sadron consolingly on the leg. Sadron barely constrained his laughter.
Camnesta caught sight of Tathiel talking with old friends and fellow healers and moved to greet her. A visiting healer from Esgaroth caught his attention, and he drew the man into the conversation of the elven healers.
"Tathiel, this is Tamil, a healer from Esgaroth," Camnesta introduced them, as Tamil already knew all others in the healing rooms. "Tamil is studying the use of …."
Across the room, Legolas turned to see where Tathiel had gone and saw the stocky, short haired man standing between him and Tathiel.
"TAAFFIEEL!" Legolas shrieked. He ran at the man, hitting him in the back of the knees, causing the man to stumble and nearly fall. "BAD MAN! NO HURT TAFIEL!" Legolas hit the man once more on the leg before Camnesta managed to scoop the hysterical elfling into his arms. "NO, NO, NO! BAD MAN!" Legolas sobbed as he fought against Camnesta. "No hurt Tafiel! No hurt Legles!" his shrieks quieted as Tathiel moved quickly to take him from Camnesta.
He clung to Tathiel, no longer screaming, his terror giving way to sobbing. His hands were entwined in her hair and tunic, holding her so tightly she felt her hair would be pulled from her head.
Tamil stepped closer to them, confused by the outburst and somehow wishing to comfort the small elf. "NO!" Legolas screamed again as the man came near them.
Camnesta pulled the man away, apologizing, and another elf escorted the human healer from the room. All activity in the room had stopped and all were watching Tathiel and Legolas.
Tathiel had moved to a corner of the room, Legolas held tightly against her, tears streaming down her own face. She had squeezed her eyes closed as she calmed the elfling. "Legolas, tithen caun, you are well. The man will not hurt you or me. Shhh, tithen pen….he is not one of the bad men," she murmured over and over. She felt a hand on her arm and opened her eyes to see Camnesta. He pulled her gently from the room full of elves, stepping back slightly when Legolas' wails increased.
Camnesta moved them into a small quiet room that he set aside for the care of his most critical patients. Tathiel sat down on the bed and cuddled the crying elfling close, rocking him gently until the sobbing quieted. Camnesta left them alone for a few moments, allowing Legolas to calm down in the quiet of the dimly lit room.
"Tathiel, I have sent for Thranduil," Camnesta said softly when he returned. He watched with clinical fascination as Tathiel's own tears started anew at this. "Do you not wish him here?"
Tathiel shook her head. "No, he should be here for Legolas. I am just surprised at the severity of his reaction," she replied through her own tears. "I should have considered this, that he might react badly to men…." Her voice trailed off.
Camnesta did not press her but sat quietly and waited for the King to arrive.
* * *
Thranduil saw the messenger whisper in Lathron's ear, and then his son start suddenly, rising to his feet and motioning to him that he was needed for an emergency. Thranduil rose, and the petitioner immediately ceased to speak. The king nodded to Urithral to handle matters, and immediately followed Lathron from the Great Hall.
"It is Legolas, Adar. Camnesta has sent a message that Legolas is hysterical, and he would like you to come right away," Lathron said as he hurried with his father down the passage to the healing rooms.
Thranduil frowned. The happy little elfling from the breakfast table was hysterical? His thoughts raced as to the possible reasons why, but before he could consider any particular scenario he found himself in the healing rooms and Camnesta waiting for him.
"My Lord," Camnesta greeted him. He pointed Thranduil to the room where Tathiel sat with Legolas, so that Thranduil might see that the child was uninjured, but laid a restraining hand on the king's arm. "There is a healer from Esgaroth receiving training from us in wound care. Legolas reacted very badly to the mere sight of the human, screaming and hitting him, and calling him a bad man. He seemed to think the man would hurt Tathiel or hurt him."
Thranduil nodded, but he was anxious to see his son, to offer what comfort he could. He quietly entered the room, Lathron waiting just outside with Bregolas, who had joined him. He sat down next to Tathiel, noting the tear-stained faces of both her and his son.
"Legolas," Thranduil whispered gently.
Legolas opened his eyes with a cry and pushed away from his father's hand. Thranduil pulled away slightly, shocked that his own child might recoil from his touch. Anger welled in him at the same time, and he forced himself to focus on his son and not on the man who had caused this.
"Legolas, it is Ada," Thranduil said softly, watching as the fear and suspicion in his son's eyes changed to recognition.
"Ada elf?" Legolas whispered in a hoarse voice.
Thranduil looked at Tathiel, confusion evident on his face. Tathiel answered for him. "Yes, Legolas, Ada is an elf. There are no bad men here," she reassured him.
Legolas sat up slightly, still not willing to let his father touch him, and looked out the door. "Elf not bad man?" he asked, still holding Tathiel's tunic and hair as if his very life depended on it.
"There are no bad men here, tithen pen," Tathiel repeated. She thought about explaining to him that the man Tamil was not bad, either, but decided that he was struggling enough with elves and men that she would not yet complicate matters further.
"Legolas, please come to Ada," Thranduil said tenderly, holding out his arms to his son.
Legolas sat absolutely still in Tathiel's lap, staring at his father. "No hurt Tafiel?"
"Ada will not let anyone hurt Tathiel," Thranduil promised. "Ada will not let anyone hurt Legolas, either." He continued to hold his arms out.
Legolas gradually eased his hold on Tathiel and reached for his father. Thranduil gathered him close, rocking the child gently, and stroking his hair and rubbing his back until the stiff little body finally relaxed against him.
Bregolas and Lathron entered silently with Camnesta, who sat down next to Tathiel and wrapped her in his arms. Tathiel looked at Thranduil with grief-stricken eyes, then bowed her head.
"I am sorry, my Lord. I did not even think about how he might react to seeing a man," Tathiel said regretfully.
Thranduil glanced at Camnesta, confused. Camnesta shrugged.
"Tathiel, I know Legolas did not have a good experience with men. Please tell us more about what happened, to help us understand," Thranduil replied.
Tathiel sat back, Camnesta still supporting her, and began to relate the detail of the story they had heard told weeks earlier when the wanderers had first come home. This time, as Thranduil, Bregolas, Lathron and Camnesta listened, they did not listen for only the facts of a long tale, but for the emotion and feelings of those who lived through it, for their fears and grief and pain at what they suffered. As Tathiel told them of Hazad separating Legolas from her that first day in Agar - how he had stood between the elfling and the only comfort he knew -how the child had sobbed, heartbroken and afraid - and how she had given in to the demands of the cruel man who would torment a child to gain obedience from the child's mother. She told of the anger, of how Legolas had seen the man angry, hurting Tathiel and then hurting him too. She explained how Legolas had reacted negatively at first to the male warriors in the rescue party, not trusting that they would not hurt him or his 'Tafiel'. He had known nice men - Sarn and Tal-Elmar - but all others were assumed bad until proven otherwise.
"In the long journey home and the weeks here in the palace, he was losing his fear of people. I should have thought what seeing a man might do to him," Tathiel apologized again.
Thranduil continued to hold Legolas, now soundly sleeping in his arms, as he considered all he had heard. "Tathiel, we owe you the apology," he finally said. "Until now we have considered the facts you have told to us, not what it was like for the four of you to live through the horrors you did." He paused. "This morning you were telling me what it was like to see the children so hungry. You must have feared you would all die of cold and starvation. I chose to think of the picture of my son feasting, not cold and hungry." Thranduil paused again, unsure of how exactly to say what he wished to say.
"Tathiel, there is more we need to know about those two years, for your sake and for the sake of the children," Camnesta spoke gently. "All of you must speak of what happened, whenever you need to, so that you might heal of these hurts." Camnesta looked at the King. "My Lord, I will consider these things. There may be other incidents like this one today. We do not know what memory might be brought back by something as simple as where a man is standing in relation to Tathiel and Legolas."
Thranduil nodded his agreement. He motioned for Bregolas, and whispered for him to send for Rawien. "Come, Tathiel," he said gently. "You and Legolas need to rest."
Thranduil carried Legolas back towards the family quarters, Tathiel at his side. Rawien had come as requested, meeting them just outside the healing rooms. Tathiel's eyes filled with tears as he put his arm about her, and she nearly collapsed in his arms. His touch evoked strong memories in her, memories of how safe and secure she had felt with those powerful arms holding her close through the long trip home. He swept her up and carried her to her chambers. He laid her upon her bed, but when she clung to him he lay down next to her, pulling her close and wrapping his arms about her. She fell asleep cocooned in his arms.
Thranduil settled himself into the rocking chair in Legolas' room. He was unwilling to allow anyone else to watch over his child, and instead found himself recalling as much as he could of what Tathiel had told them this day and earlier. He swore to himself that he would do whatever it took to help his son, and the place to start was in understanding what had befallen him and how a child's mind would interpret and remember such events.
* * *
Thranduil heard movement and soft voices coming from Tathiel's chamber, and knew that she had awakened from her short nap. Legolas stirred in his arms, small fists coming up to rub his eyes. He stretched and finally awoke, focusing on the face of the one holding him. A look of confusion appeared briefly on his face, but looking around he recognized his surroundings and relaxed.
"Suilad, Legolas," Thranduil said, smoothing the errant blond hair back away from the elfling's face.
Legolas smiled at him, but did not reply. He continued to look around the room, finally grasping his Ada's hand and pulling himself upright. "Where Tafiel?"
"Tathiel is in her room resting," replied Thranduil. He felt the hesitation in his son. "Would you like to see her?"
Legolas slid from his ada's lap and peered around the half-opened door into Tathiel's room. "Tafiel!" he called in delight. Thranduil heard the patter of feet running and then stop, and knew that his son was safely in Tathiel's arms. He waited patiently until Tathiel entered the room, Legolas in her arms. She sat on Legolas' bed, facing him.
"I have sat here as Legolas slept and pondered everything I might do to protect him," Thranduil began. "I can send the healer from Esgaroth away and forbid any more men to enter this realm. I can learn from you everything that might cause my son fear or discomfort and banish it from this kingdom." Thranduil's eyes narrowed. "I would do what I can to protect my child. Yet locking him away will not help him."
Tathiel nodded in agreement, but found herself hugging Legolas tightly, for she had the same desires as the King in this matter.
"Would you like to take him to the pool?" Thranduil asked. Looking up he saw Rawien leaning in the doorway. "Take the captain with you."
Tathiel smiled. "Yes, my Lord. We will all enjoy that. We will wear out this elfling so he sleeps well tonight."
Thranduil waited until they had left before leaving the family quarters. Court was in the capable hands of his sons and advisors. He threw on his cloak and instead left the palace. He walked the cold paths in silence, allowing his fury to rise and fall as he struggled not to allow hate to settle in his heart. For while he knew not all men were bad, it was the race of men who had taken from him his Narawen and Alagos, and caused the pain he had witnessed today in his little Legolas.
It was many hours before he could unclench his fists and calm his spirit.
* * * * *
tithen caun--------------little prince
tithen pen---------------little one
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.