The carpet beneath the king's feet was lush and thick, and the sunlight poured through the open window. Outside, the songs of birds in the trees sweetened the early summer air; but Thranduil's mind was not noticing any of that. His entire focus was on the closed door at the end of the room, and on what was happening beyond.
"You will wear a rut, meleth," Laeriel said softly, not even bothering to look up from her embroidery.
Thranduil stopped and stared at his wife. "I cannot believe that you are as calm as you appear at a time like this!"
Laeriel's smile was as warm as any sunbeam. "I am excited, of course, but…"
"But…" His patience was very close to gone. "But?"
With what seemed like exaggerated grace and slowness, the delicate silk was set aside, the rawhide finger guard placed like a crown over the needle stuck into the tumbled material. Laeriel rose and moved to face him. "But I know what is happening within, just as you do. We both know that it takes time, and that getting yourself worked up into a lather will not hasten things along. You, my love, are simply impatient…"
"I have a right to be…"
"Right has nothing to do with it, for you have never needed a reason to be impatient; it is simply your nature, just as it is your nature to try to fashion all of life's milestones to your satisfaction," she reminded him even as she put a calming hand on his arm. "As I remember, you were so anxious for the year to end, when it was your turn…"
A commotion from beyond the door broke through the bubble of peace that Laeriel had almost succeeded in constructing around him, and she had to hang on hard to keep him from just pushing through the door. "No! Thranduil! You know better than that!"
"But nothing." Laeriel's hand was now firmly grasping his arm and dragging him over to where her chair sat before the open window. "Sit down. You will wait, as you are supposed to."
"Legolas will come out to us soon enough."
Laeriel glared at him, giving a deep sigh that came from the bottom of her very being. For the most part, this was a side of Thranduil that she hadn't seen for almost an entire Age, and it was a part of him that she really hadn't felt nostalgic for. "Enough. You will survive these next few minutes, although you will do so in a much more diminished capacity if you continue to exhibit the patience of a flea. Now. Sit. Down."
Green eyes narrowed dangerously. "I exhibit the patience of a what?"
"You heard me: you have the patience of a flea today. You remind me of one as well, hopping from one foot to the other the way you were." She shot a wondering look at the closed door, hearing the sounds of murmuring inside, and then returned to give her husband a fond yet frustrated glance. "A great, big, golden-haired sand-flea."
"You forget who you are speaking to."
Thrusting her fists into her waist, Laeriel glared at him. "I most certainly do not. You were once King of Eryn Lasgalen, and now rule Avathar. You are a friend to tree and beast and land alike, and you still look more like a sand-flea than an Elf with all your twitching and hopping about!" With a flounce, she planted herself in her chair again and reached for her embroidery. She'd never have the little gown finished at this rate! "If he were here, rather than back in Tirion as your trade ambassador, Galion would tell you the same thing, and you know it; in fact, he did, back when…"
Thranduil strode angrily over to the open window and gazed across the courtyard to the beach that lay beyond. "You have no idea how impossible it is to believe this day has arrived at last."
"Oh, I think I understand rather well." The silk fell into Laeriel's lap as the hands that held it dropped. "You forget I saw him after Gimli stepped past the circles of the world, Thranduil. I watched him take sole responsibility for giving his brother-of-the-heart – the last of the Mortals whom he loved so dearly – his resting place in Ôl' s halls, and then I watched him begin to fade in the weeks and months thereafter. I spoke to Elrond, who devised some scheme that seemed to slow the process down, but only his reaction to your little boat landing in Tol Eressëa gave me hope that he would actually learn to survive here after all, and maybe heal from the grief caused as a result of his attachment to Mortals." She gazed into stricken green eyes. "So do not tell me I do not understand how impossible this would seem. You did not see the worst of it."
"I saw the Sea Longing," Thranduil whispered, "and the toll exacted every time one of the Mortals he had become so close to went where he would never be able to follow. The long-year he lingered in Ennor before taking ship – all on the strength of a promise to a Mortal friend – was an agony that few Elves survive. That was bad enough."
"But that is behind us now," Laeriel told him, drawing a shaky breath and straightening her posture. "We are together as a family again. You brought us here, to this new land, and along the way gave him a chance to finally find a life's mate in Mídhivren, and now…"
The door that had been closed opened, and Legolas stepped through bearing a small bundle wrapped in warm green. His face showed the signs of the effort that had been spent over the last hours, but his eyes danced and his smile was euphoric. "Father, Mother, I would like you to meet Ninniach, your granddaughter."
Laeriel thrust the silk aside again in her haste to rise and moved closer to get her first glimpse of the tiny face, the dusting of golden hair, the delicate points to her ears, and the deep blue gaze of the newborn. "Legolas, she is beautiful!" She glanced over at her husband when he didn't press in the way she thought he would, and was startled to see him staring at the newborn with tears rolling down his face. "Thranduil?"
Legolas followed her glance, and his face wrinkled in worry. "Father?"
"Ninniach," Thranduil said slowly, finally moving forward a little to stroke the delicate cheek with a forefinger. "The symbol of joy that appears after the storm indeed." He looked into the face of his son, and Laeriel's heart swelled with the pride that suddenly filled his face. "The House of Thranduil flourishes once more. Just wait until your grandfather hears of this! It may even give him a reason to come south at last."
Legolas' worry faded, and he shifted the green-wrapped baby in his arms. "Your newest subject, Sire." And he slipped his firstborn into his father's waiting arms.
Thranduil's gaze landed on Laeriel with intense satisfaction. "Our granddaughter."
And Laeriel leaned into his upper arm and lost herself in the wondering study of a child whose arrival had been anxiously and lovingly awaited. "Our House thrives indeed, meleth!"
Ninniach - rainbow
Ôl - Aulë