26. Chapter 26
The Woodland Halls: Garden of the Brook
Adlanniel's skin began prickling from the icy chill of the early hours of the morning as she awoke suddenly.
Her skin was completely bare as she lay upon her stomach, having seemingly thrown off the furs that had previously blanketed her sometime during the night. Her teeth began clattering together as she shivered, her eyes and mind still trying to adjust to her surroundings in her lethargic state. The fire in the hearth had snuffed itself out completely, and an illuminating glow of blue hues filled the room from the moonlight coming from the engraved glass doors of the Elvenking's private balcony.
Thranduil, who had been resting peacefully beside her, opened his eyes slightly for he had sensed her movement and it had awoken him.
He had never been a heavy sleeper and often easily awoke from even the slightest of things. The responsibilities and memories of the past which weighed heavily upon his heart also often deprived him from a pleasant sleep. Though the young elleth that now lay with him had brought some sort of solace to his soul. And thus he was able to rest somewhat more peacefully for the time that they were given to be together.
However, something then was different about her. He had not noticed it the previous night when they had finally fallen asleep, nor had he felt it the days and eves before. Yet he was too drowsy to even attempt focussing on what it was. Feeling that whatever it was was nothing of an ill kind, he took the shivering elleth into his warm embrace and covered her once more with the furs and blankets.
"Losta, hiril vuin." He whispered to her gently as he stroked the back of her head.
"We have not yet had enough sleep ourselves..."
Indeed, for the eves that had past they had spent their entire nights together in his or her chambers, making love with almost every waking moment until they had exhausted themselves to sleep. It had been blissful, that finally they had found a form of solace with each other, though carnal in nature
"Mmmm...." Adlanniel murmured sleepily in agreement as she, ignoring the fact that her legs were aching, curled herself closer to his strong body, pushing her head against his chest to listen to his heartbeat.
It was strong and its rhythm soothed her like a mother's voice would to a child when singing a lullaby. She often used to listen to Legolas' heart beating when they slept close together for it made her feel safe and secure; it assured her when her dreams wondered into a darker realm that he was still alive and there with her.
The reason she had woken suddenly then however had not been entirely because of the chill of the autumn air, no, her dreams had been dwelling in something dark. Yet her awaking had made the memory of what it had been exactly simply disappear. She strained her mind to try to remember the dream, but no images came to mind - only the foreboding feeling from what it had been. But had it actually been a nightmare? Surely if it had been she would have awoken in a fright, yet she had not, she only felt weighted heavily about it. Pushing all thoughts of it out of her mind for another time, she continued to focus on the king's heartbeat. It continued to console her and once again she was able to drift back into a deep slumber.
She was awoken once more some hours later when the auburn glow of the rising sun shone upon her face. Blinking wearily, she rubbed her eyes to allow them some form of focus. Her gaze drifted over to the tall figure of the Elvenking as he stood in the open door of the balcony, himself gazing out over the mountains that sprawled behind the palace, a white mist covering their peaks. He wore a light linen cloth wrapped loosely around his waist, and his long flaxen hair flittered softly in the chilly morning breeze. It appeared to be in deep thought as he leant against the door frame. Yet to Adlanniel he looked like one of the Valar as he stood there encased in the golden glow of the awakening sun.
"Aur vaer, heruamin. Lle tyava quel?" She asked as she strained to pull herself to a sitting position, her entire body was now aching.
Turning his head to look over his shoulder at her he smiled gently.
"I am well, my dear." He replied, his expression turning to one of concern as he turned to face her; she was still straining to move her sore body.
"But are you?" He asked her as he came to sit beside her, helping her into a more comfortable sitting position. As he had touched her skin, again he felt what he had felt when she had first awoken him earlier that morning.
"I....my legs hurt." She said, blushing slightly, thinking to herself that it was perhaps due to the endeavours of the night before, and the many nights before that.
Thranduil could not help himself but chuckle slightly having known exactly what she had been thinking.
"I wonder why?" He teased her playfully, only to her have her blush a brighter hue of crimson.
"Actually, my king, my entire being aches.....And I do not feel so well."
"Indeed that is strange for we Eldar." He agreed thinking back on the strange feeling he had felt from her. He had felt something like that once before, but such a long time ago he had forgotten it completely until he felt it again from Adlanniel. It occurred to him with that realisation what possibly ailed the young elleth. Though his heart began beating heavily at the prospect, he kept himself composed and calm.
"I can sense something amiss about you, allow me to focus upon it and I may be able to tell what ails you so." He offered her.
"Though it could possibly be all that you have experienced over the past moon finally catching up to you." He said, almost trying to doubt his own feelings on the matter.
Gulping nervously she nodded at his offer and lay herself back against the soft pillows behind her.
The moment his fingers touched her skin he felt it again though somewhat stronger. It was unmistakable, it was indeed what he had felt all those long years ago with his own wife. Placing his hand on her lower abdomen, Adlanniel looking to him somewhat surprised and bewildered, he felt it....or rather....them.
They were definitely apparent, two small faë growing from within her womb. Though why had he, or even she, not sensed them earlier? Was it because their minds had been too preoccupied with other things to have noticed? Or were these two infant faë so recently conceived that their aura had not developed until the past eve? Though a possibility, Thranduil remembered that Adlanniel had been having strange moods, hunger pangs and cravings recently and that she was often highly aroused for his affections, and thus concluded that the faë could not have been conceived so recently but rather within the last moon at least. But then again, if that were indeed the case, why had he not sensed them when they had first started their lascivious affair? Despite their reproductive cycles being somewhat similar to those of human women, as those of the Eldar were so close in their connection to the earth, to Eru Illuvatar and to themselves, it was easy for them to detect pregnancy from the earliest stage, quite often from the day the child was actually conceived.
Again, as he had just thought to himself, the possibility of them both being too preoccupied with other things to not have noticed the two faë ran through his mind once more. But he, he thought, being such an ancient being, regardless of how preoccupied his mind may have been should have surely felt the faë from the earliest possible time. If he had, would it have changed the way things were right then? Would he and the young elleth have given in to each other having the knowledge that she were with child?
Adlanniel continued to look up at Thranduil silently, her face riddled with concern yet too afraid to speak, as he seemed to be in a puzzled daze - staring off into nothingness.
Yet deep in the back of her mind she had an inkling of what he knew, yet she had difficulty comprehending it much like he did - why had she not known earlier? Just like he, so many questions and theories raced through her mind. However, for that moment, and perhaps for the sake of her own sanity, she chose to deny her inner feelings.
Furrowing his brow slightly he tried focussing harder upon the faë to try to distinguish who had indeed fathered them. Though he wanted to believe that his son had begetted them, there was the strong possibility that he had instead. According to Eldar lore, each seed within both mother and father contains a small piece of the parent's faë. Thus, when a child is conceived the remnants of the parent's faë join together to create the child's own. Thranduil, being one of the only known elves still in Arda to have the ability to sense the roots of a spirit's origins, could easily tell the parentage if he focussed enough upon it.
He felt both faë growing within her, yet one was slightly stronger than the other. This seemed strange to him; having two growing within her undoubtedly meant that they were twins - not such an unusual notion seeing that twins ran in her family - yet being twins, and thus being conceived at the same time meant that their faë should have been growing at the same rate as well. One being stronger than the other made it seem like the stronger faë was older. But how could that be possible? The expression on Thranduil's face became even more serious as he contemplated it, focussing all of his energy then to distiguish the origins of the faë.
His mouth gaped ever so slightly and his eyes widened when he felt it. His son Legolas was indeed the father of the stronger faë, yet he was the father of the other!
Indeed, how could it be possible? He thought. It went completely against all knowledge that the wise Eldar had of the cycles of life and conception. But it was absolutely unmistakable. One was his son's and the other was his. Some strange fate had made this happen and no matter how many theories he could possibly think up, Thranduil knew that there was no doubt to it.
"Thranduil? My lord? What is it? Can you feel something? What is wrong?" Adlanniel had been questioning him then, only for him to continue to stare off into the distance in deep and serious thought.
"Thranduil?!" She rose her voice desperately, he face full of worry and fear as she squeezed his wrist to try to regain his attention.
"My apologies...my dear..." He began, his voice slightly shaken as a thousand thoughts and questions continued to race through his mind. Taking in a deep breath he composed himself once more and looked down at her calmly. How should he tell her? He had thought to himself. Telling her directly and outright may send her into shock and dismay, yet she would most likely feel the same if he told her gradually regardless.
"Have you bled in this quarter of the year?" He asked her in a gentle, yet serious tone. Unlike their human counterparts who bled once every moon, elven women bled once every four moons, and only during times in their lives when they were sexually active and thus able to bear children.
From this question, Adlanniel knew where the king was leading. It made her heart pound in her chest and a sense of disbelief, guilt, and yet joy filled her all at once.
"No...not as of yet..." She replied, doing well to keep herself composed and calm.
"Though, now that I think of it, I should have started some time in the previous week....But my mind has been so cluttered and occupied with other thoughts that it totally slipped from my memory."
Thranduil, nodding from her reply, fell silent and went back into thought.
"Pray tell, my dear king, what is it?" Adlanniel urged him to continue. She wanted to hear it from his own mouth.
Looking back at her, he sighed inwardly. "Adlanniel, you are with child."
Her eyes widened and she gasped. It took her a few moments to comprehend the truth.
"I am with child?" She repeated, her voice a mixture of all that she was feeling within her being.
"It is without a doubt." He replied.
"Yet there is not just one growing within your womb, but two."
"Two??" She questioned aghast as she shot upright to sit before him. "I am going to have twins?" Her voice was now more excited than any other emotion.
Giving a weak smile, he nodded and seeing his sudden disposition Adlanniel became worried once more.
"The father......" She began, as her mind too began to drift. She felt an almost painful knot of guilt form in her stomach then.
"Is Legolas." Thranduil replied quickly, the elleth sighing inwardly with relief. Yet she was unprepared for what he was about to tell her next.
"He is the father of the stronger, older faë. I myself have fathered the younger faë..."
Adlanniel felt as if her heart stopped beating within her chest as his words then filled her ears. She stared at him absolutely astonished, and somewhat in disbelief. How could that be possible?
"But that is impossible!" She exclaimed in a skeptical shock.
Unfazed by the tone of her voice then, Thranduil continued. "As I had thought myself when I felt it Adlanniel, but it is indeed the truth. I would not lie about such a matter and you know it." He said seriously.
"But how can you be so certain?" She questioned, her voice almost in a panic. Thranduil could not blame her for her disbelief and so detailed to her how he was able to sense the origins of faë.
"And so you can see..." He continued calmly after his explanation. "That my ability in this case cannot be questioned."
She nodded, a little shaken, her mixed feelings running rampant through her body, confusing her.
What was she to make of this? What were either of them to make of it?
She would give birth not only to Thranduil's second child, but also to his son's first. That would mean that she would be mothering Legolas' sibling as well as his own child, making the children siblings themselves yet one an uncle or aunt of the other. Thranduil himself would be father of one yet grandfather to the other.
The thoughts of it made Adlanniel feel dizzy and she began to swoon. Thranduil caught her and held her gently. He felt a great anguish as she began sobbing in both worry and guilt. She wanted to be joyous, they both did, but the guilt bit deeply at them first.
"What will we do Thranduil?" She wept against his chest. The fact that she was going to give him another child, something that he had always wanted when his wife was still alive, overjoyed him. Yet Adlanniel was not his wife but the future wife of his son. She would bear him the fruit of their affair. They had their reasons for coming together, and even in their current state they were drawn so closely together, yet what they had gone against everything the Eldar believed in; that love was sacred and was unto life and death. Though they did not love each other in the same way that they loved their true partners, they still delved in the forbidden regardless. It made them both feel unbearably guilty to have allowed their relationship to have come so far; to have allowed each other to take advantage of the other in their vulnerability and loneliness. Yet had they really been so vulnerable? Even that thought itself wracked at their minds.
Thranduil knew his son well and knew that the prince would be utterly heartbroken if they were to reveal to him the truth. Legolas was sensitive to heartbreak and loss and would not take their betrayal against him lightly.
Though Thranduil understood why, he knew that Legolas may hate them for it and may disown the both of them. Thranduil, being his father, would always have a connection to Legolas through blood. Yet, if Legolas disowned Adlanniel then that would be the utter end and Thranduil did not want that for her. Thranduil did not want his son to hate her for he knew how much Legolas loved and adored her and how much she truly loved him. Yet Thranduil also knew that telling Legolas the truth was actually the right thing to do.
"If we tell Legolas the truth, it will utterly crush and destroy him Adlanniel. You already know that." Thranduil began as he held her tightly.
"Yet it would be the right thing to do."
"I know..." She sobbed in reply, unsure of what else she should say.
"You know how he may react, and it may be very much detramental for the both of us. I will always be his father Adlanniel, no matter what he may do or say to me. However, his reaction towards you, despite his love for you, may very well shut you out or destroy your relationship completely. Perhaps he may find it in his heart to forgive us if we explain ourselves to him, but I very much doubt that he will. Our betrayal towards him has been too great, especially now that you are with child. I do not want either of you to suffer and feel heartbreak, despite what has happened."
"Then what shall we do?" She asked again, her voice saddened and almost desperate.
"Though you know that I myself wanted more children, and I tell you the truth when I say that I am overjoyed that you will be blessing me with another, I want Legolas to be the father of both. It is his right, for you are his and I have betrayed him."
Thranduil's words, though holding the ominous truth, weighed heavily upon her. She wanted to give Thranduil the joy of being a father without restriction, but in their situation it was impossible. Yet at the same time, as she had always wanted, she wanted to give Legolas the children he had so been eager for.
Seeing how his words had weighed upon her heavily and had made her think deep into the depressing reality, he smiled at her in an attempt to reassure her.
"I will be more than content to be the 'grandfather' of my child, of both children in fact, and I will dote over them and cherish them as such."
Adlanniel smiled at this through her tears, for what he had just said seemed like the best option for them all.
"But I will support you with any decision you decide, and will not abandon you if we have to suffer consequences."
His words then filled her with a warmth and admiration; she knew where Legolas' devotion towards her when they were together came from.
Adlanniel took a few moments to gather her thoughts and make her own decision on the matter. Sitting upright and looking deeply into the king's eyes she agreed with his sentiment.
"Despite what we have done my king, I always have and always will love Legolas with my entire being and soul. He is my soulmate, and I knew that from the moment we fell in love. I know how much he loves me and I know that it would destroy him if he were to learn the truth despite it being the right path. I could not bare breaking his heart, though it breaks mine having to keep this from him. But if it is for the greater good...so that we can all live together as a happy family....then it is a pain that I am willing to endure."
"As am I." Thranduil agreed.
"Yet what we are doing...what we have together will have to come to an end...." He said truthfully, yet wistfully. Adlanniel had filled the chasm that had been left in his soul since his wife had been taken from him. She had also rekindled some of the long lost love he had once held so dearly for her mother - love that he still denied to himself for he loved his wife desperately, yet was undeniably there beneath the surface. It would be hard for him to let go of that.
She too, knew it would be hard for her to let him go, even if she were to teach Legolas all that she had learnt from him. Thranduil's aura simply drew her in and engulfed her.
The thoughts pained them both deeply as they held each other, holding each other like as if they were about to make their last farewells, and fresh tears began flowing down the young elleth's face.
"Despite the truth, and my horrid guilt that is chaining me, I do not want it to end...."
"Neither do I my dear..." Thranduil replied as he caressed the back of her head gently, running his fingers through her raven hair as he did.
"Neither do I..."
Elvish - English
Losta, hiril vuin = Sleep, beloved lady.
Aur vaer, heruamin. Lle tyava quel? = Good morning, my lord. Are you well?
Eldar = Elves
elleth = Elf maiden (female)
faë = spirit(s)
Valar - Are like the servants of 'God' (Eru) who helped him create the world.
Eru Illuvatar = He is basically 'God' - the creater of the world and all creatures, having made the elves in the image of himself.
Arda = the world
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