1. Legolas's First Yule
The sound of singing awoke him. Recognising to whom the melodious voice belonged, Lord Thranduil focused his eyes back to awareness to look for Eilian. She wasn't in their room, something that surprised him at first; soon, however, a smile brightened his features as he guessed where his queen could be. He regretted a bit that he had to abandon the comfort of his bed just yet, but his wish to find the lady closest to his heart was too powerful to ignore. Finally setting his mind to it, he arose, slipped into his royal robes; then went to the garden.
The garden was, to the king's mind, one of his greatest achievements. It was his gift to his beloved when she had consented to rule by his side as his wife, for he knew of her love for every growing thing. He had even arranged it in such a way that there was every kind of flower of every season, in order to be blooms abound all the year round. Moreover, he had also made sure that the flowers could get plenty of sunlight and water from the river close to his realm, so that it soon became a small, wondrous green haven within the halls; one to which Eilian always went to in the morning.
Truly enough, the Queen of Mirkwood was there, walking amongst the blossoming nature that surrounded her, her raven black hair decorated with winter flowers, which gave the impression of a crown on her head. Thranduil stopped at the door and kept gazing at her in awe; for in that moment she seemed like an elusive spirit of the woods, revealed to him by some favour granted by the Valar. He closed his eyes and cocked slightly his head, trying to take in as much of the song as possible: his wife always had this almost magical ability to make every living thing hold still and simply listen, oblivious to anything else.
The Elvenking snapped out of the mesmerizing spell when the singing stopped to be replaced by a soft humming. When he opened his eyes again, he saw Eilian's slender form reaching to a particular colourful flower in order to breathe in its scent. It was a wonder to him how she didn't seem to notice him, considering he was only a few feet away from her; then again, she had her back turned on him. Trying to be as silent as possible, he walked up to her and gently wrapped his arms around her waist, while placing a light kiss on her hair. To his surprise - and slight disappointment - she didn't seem to get startled at all: she merely placed her arms over his own and rested her head against his frame. Thranduil had to admit it to himself: of all the people he had encountered, she was the only one that was able to sense his approach and so not be caught unawares, no matter how many tricks he tried on her or how stealthily he moved. He didn't know how she was able to do that, but it was still one of the things he loved about her.
"It was high time you awoke, my lord and husband," she said in the softest of tones, savouring the embrace.
"Was I missed that much then?" asked the king with a grin, brushing slightly his cheek against hers in affection.
"Indeed," she answered, laughing a bit. "Eregdos was looking everywhere for you!"
Thranduil actually let out a long groan at this. "I chose him as my seneschal in the hopes that he would take care of the preparations for Yule's festival on his own!" he noted in a dramatic sigh.
"Even the most capable of seneschals need the king's approval for their arrangements," Eilian reminded him, half teasingly, half serious. "You should go. Even if it is not your wish, the sooner you talk with him, the sooner you will finish."
The Elvenking wasn't all that eager to leave just yet, however, for his grip on the queen hadn't loosened at all.
"My lord, I do not jest," she said, even though she couldn't help but smile at this. "Eregdos has been searching for you since dawn."
"Then he can wait a little while longer," Thranduil declared, gently prodding his wife to face him and so place a loving kiss on her lips.
Just then, a child's laughter echoed throughout the garden and made the royal couple turn. Before either of them could say anything, a small boy's form had rushed toward them and had wrapped his tiny arms to his best of his ability around the knees of his parents.
"Legolas!" cried a woman's voice, hurrying behind the child. "You cannot disturb your parents this way!"
"No harm done, Beriel," laughed Thranduil, as Eilian picked up her son. The Elfling instantly settled in his mother's embrace, crooning happily while listening to her breathing. "I trust he slept well?" asked the king.
"Indeed, Sire," said the governess, bowing courteously. "He has been full of energy ever since Arien rose."
"Good!" said Thranduil, pinching Legolas's cheek and earning a shy giggle.
"Will I be needed anything else, my lady?" asked the governess.
"No, thank you, Beriel," replied the queen, trying not to mind her son's chubby little fingers tugging her hair. "He will stay with me today, since I will go for a walk amid the woods. He will love to see the snow."
"In that case, with your permission, I will go prepare for tonight's festivities."
"Of course. Till then, Beriel."
The governess bowed in respect; then walked out. As soon as she had left, Eilian turned to her husband to tell him that he should be on his way, too, but he stopped her with a wave of his hand.
"I know, I am going," he said, smiling a bit. "I hope you two enjoy your walk." And with that, he placed another small kiss on his queen's lips and got ready to walk out as well.
Somebody, however, thought otherwise. The moment that Thranduil turned to leave, Legolas's arms had reached out and hugged his father's large one.
"Ai, my son," sighed the king when he saw the pleading look in the Elfling's cerulean-coloured eyes. "I cannot come with you. Please, try to understand."
Unfortunately, all that the young prince understood was that he wanted his father close and he was denied. With his eyes swimming in tears that threatened to flow out at any minute, he turned to his mother in the hopes that she would do something about it.
"I am sorry, Legolas," said the queen regretfully. "Your father has a lot of work and we only keep him away from it."
That was precisely what Legolas didn't wish to hear! In an instant, a small sob escaped his lips, alarming both parents. If their son weren't cheered up quickly enough, the little one would prove just how loud his crying could be - to every Elf that was unlucky enough to be within the halls at the moment!
"Legolas?" said the queen, trying to shush her son urgently, forgetting for the present her royal dignity in her worry as another - louder - sob escaped the Elfling's lips. "We will see him in the afternoon!"
"Your mother is right, my son!" seconded the Elvenking. "And the forest looks so nice covered in snow that you will want to play all day there!"
A third sob made the couple understand to their horror that this wasn't working. Just when it seemed the young prince would burst into wails that would frighten the Dark Lord himself, Thranduil's mind formed an idea.
"Legolas, look at the giant's eye!" he said quickly, resting his forehead against the little one's and looking into his eyes.
His sobbing lessening somewhat, the Elfling looked back curiously. There, indeed, was a huge, cerulean-coloured orb. Legolas giggled at once, his young mind not grasping that his own eyes were actually playing the trick by looking at his father's eyes from so close.
Eilian sighed with relief to see that her son had calmed down in time. Both parents knew, however, that nothing was over yet: they had to make sure that Thranduil could leave without upsetting Legolas again. The Elvenking seemed to have thought even of that though.
"Legolas, do you know what day is it today?" he asked the Elfling.
The prince blinked a bit and shook his head no.
"It is the day of Yule," continued Thranduil, "and people are happy because it means that a new year is coming. But you know what is the best thing about this day?"
Legolas again shook his head no.
"People say that a gentle spirit, which loves all children, comes to their homes while they sleep; and after blessing them for being kind all the year round, it puts close to their beds whatever their heart wishes as a gift."
The Elfling's eyes widened at this, the story clearly fascinating him.
"They also say that the spirit likes it when everybody remembers Yule and celebrates it. And here is our problem."
Legolas blinked, puzzled.
"The spirit will be sad if I do not make a feast to welcome the New Year. That is why I have to go and help Master Eregdos: so that this year we will have the best celebration ever. Do you understand how happy the spirit will be if he sees everything that we have ready for him?"
The young prince nodded yes.
"Then promise me something?" ventured then Thranduil, making his move. "Do not get sad when I go now. Just know that the spirit will love you the more for letting me do this, seeing the kindness in your heart."
The Elfling's face showed that he was ready to protest, but then he remembered his father's words. So, all he did was just nod his consent.
"Thank you, Legolas," said Thranduil, rewarding his son with a warm smile and an affectionate caress on the little one's golden head. The Elvenking was far from finished though. He let out a long whistle and turned to the doorway to shout two names:
The call had hardly flowed out of the king's lips, when two magnificent-looking black hounds appeared and rushed to their master, wagging their tails with abandon.
"Dartho guin hyn, saidyr nín,"* commanded the king, motioning his head to the direction of Eilian and Legolas. "Ae boe, berio hyn go cuil lín!"**
The dogs' eyes shone in understanding and took their positions next to the queen and the young one.
"Surely the guards will be more than enough," said Eilian.
"Perhaps, but it will be good for them to walk in the open as well," said the king with a smile; and, after placing another kiss on her lips, accompanied by a new caress on Legolas's cheek in affection, he walked out.
Legolas certainly enjoyed his day outside. His parents had told him about snow before, but this was the first time that he actually saw it from so close. His mother also gave him a handful to feel it in his fingers and marvel at its softness; he even tasted a bit of it, liking how it melted in his mouth. Corhuinu seemed to enjoy it as well when Legolas offered her some. Alachas, on the other hand, didn't seem interested in fooling around, for he considered that his task appointed by his master was far more important. So, he simply kept vigilance for any danger that might come up - that is, until Legolas climbed onto his back with the smug grin of the most fearless of riders. The hunting dog didn't mind much though, for he could prove the most gentle of creatures to the ones his master loved; thus he indulged the Elfling and let him stay on his back while he walked around.
Eilian couldn't be happier either. She watched her son playing all day long, smiling to see the white landscape before her. Feeling like a young maiden again, unburdened by her responsibilities as the Queen of the Woodland Realm, she danced and laughed, her feet barely touching the ground, while the trees parted their branches to allow some of the sunbeams fall on her form, making her beauty shine all the more in the dark forest.
But time passed and they all had to return home once again. Alachas led the way, Legolas still riding him happily, and Eilian with Corhuinu followed close. Thranduil, who had by then finished with all the proper arrangements, was waiting for them at the gates and welcomed them back. That certainly pleased the young prince to no end, for he immediately threw himself in his father's arms and stayed there for the rest of the day. Indeed, he remained there even for the banquet, cooing contently in his father's embrace while everyone drank and ate to their heart's desire. In fact, when the feast and merry-making was over and the royal couple was about to hand their son into Beriel's care, he wouldn't have it.
"Legolas, do you not want to go to your own bed?" asked Eilian, puzzled.
The young prince shook his head emphatically and his grip on Thranduil only became tighter.
"Son, please," said the Elvenking. "It is late for all of us."
Beriel tried to coax the Elfling away from her lord, but, to everyone's horror, Legolas's breathing quickened and his face became completely red. Finally, two loud words echoed throughout the room.
And with that, Legolas buried himself in his father's embrace, still repeating his pleading and so not noticing his parents' stunned faces. It was the first time that their son spoke!
"Legolas..." murmured Eilian, hardly able to contain her excitement and yet at a loss for words.
Thranduil looked up at the governess, his eyes shining proudly for his son. "Thank you, Beriel, but I think Legolas made it quite clear he will stay in our room tonight."
Smiling as well, the maiden bowed and, after wishing them all goodnight, she walked out.
Seeing this and hearing his father's reassuring words made Legolas calm down and lessen somewhat his grip. "Staya..." he said again softly.
"Yes, you are," said Thranduil with a grin, placing the boy on the royal bed. Beaming, the Elfling waited patiently for his parents to change to their nightclothes and even sat still to be dressed for sleep as well. Soon enough, Thranduil and Eilian had lied down too, keeping Legolas protectively between them. The prince crooned and closed his eyes dreamily, letting his mother caress his hair; he was just about to doze off when he heard his father's voice.
"Legolas? Why did you want to stay here so much tonight?"
The Elfling opened his eyes and gave to both his parents the sweetest of smiles. "'Irit come an' b'ess all."
Thranduil and Eilian looked at each other and smiled as well. "Yes, my son," said the Queen kindly, brushing her fingers over her son's cheek. "The spirit will bless us all."
And with that the whole family drifted to the land of dreams, this Yule proving the best one for all of them.
*Dartho guin hyn, saidyr nín: Stay with them, my faithful ones (Sindarin)
*Ae boe, berio hyn go cuil lín!: If necessary, protect them with your life (Sindarin)
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.