Prompt # 66: Wildlife
Thranduil sighed and looked down at his kneeling son. His heart churned over the things he had learned this day. He was no longer angry at his son, but at himself. His eyes strayed from Legolas to the curled black body of the spider a few feet away. The wildlife was no longer friendly in this part of the wood, and the youngest prince did not yet have training in dispatching the evil creatures. He wondered how Legolas had survived harm without that knowledge, then he remembered certain unfamiliar scars his son had sported from time to time over the past few years. How many times had Legolas come close to death while Thranduil thought him safely in the halls?
Putting his dignity and kingly mantle aside, Thranduil kneeled before his son. Legolas gasped and started to lower himself further, but Thranduil stopped him with a firm hand on his shoulder. "No, my son," he said, shaking his head. "You need not lower yourself further. It is not your king, but your father who seeks you. Look at me, Legolas."
He lifted the young elf's trembling chin with a finger and a great breath left him when their eyes met. Legolas had his mother's silvery grey eyes, and every time Thranduil gazed into them, he remembered his loss. His heart twisted even now, but this time he bore the pain, remembering how it had been before he had learned the awful news of his wife's death.
"Ada," Legolas began, breathless and quaking. "I..."
"Shhh." Thranduil laid a finger over his son's lips. "I am not angry with you, Legolas." He forced a grim smile, dropping his hand.
"You are not?" The youth looked confused. "But...but I took it! It was I, Ada. I knew Manuilos was dear to you, and I took her anyway. I just... just wanted to..." Legolas' voice broke, and he dropped his chin to his chest.
Thranduil opened himself up to the voices of the trees, and sensing no nearby danger, pulled his son into an embrace, leaning his cheek against the soft gold hair. It felt good to hold his son again. When had he last embraced him? Spoke kindly to him?
As soon as his arms tightened about Legolas' shoulders and back, the youth began to speak, his voice wavering. "I miss her, Ada. I miss Naneth so much, and I just wanted to see Manuilos, to be with her, but you said no."
"Legolas," Thranduil rubbed his son's back in small circles in an effort to comfort his child. "I understand why you took Manuilos. You wanted to have a part of your mother, which is why I have kept her to myself. It was selfish of me, but she is the last of your mother's line. I am sorry. I should have allowed you to see her." A nod against his chest confirmed Legolas agreed. Thranduil smiled. "Perhaps, I shall give her to you, though not as a reward for your disobedience and reckless behavior. Rather, because I should have done so from the beginning."
A heart-rending sob came at those words, and Legolas's fists knotted in his father's tunic. "Thank you, Ada," he breathed through tears. "Thank you. I will take good care of her..." Legolas yanked back from his father's arms with a cry of sudden fear, blinking moisture from his eyes. "Manuilos! She won't come to me! And there are spiders in these woods!"
"Now, you think of danger, my son?" Thranduil chuckled, shaking his head in exasperation. "She will come to me. And then we shall head home. We have much to discuss about your forays into the forest alone. Perhaps as punishment, I shall have to bring you out here for a month to teach you the forests ways, before you spend the next year in added lessons."
A blissful smile spread across Legolas's face, and he nodded. "That would be a good punishment, Ada."
Manuilos – Sindarin, 'pure white ghost'.