Stories of Arda Home Page
About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search

We Were Young Once ~ III  by Conquistadora

Chapter 4 ~ The Golden Years

The entire wood celebrated the announcement that their king had at last fathered an heir, and all awaited the birth with glad expectation.  Many returning warriors had become new fathers over the past decades and they gladly welcomed their sovereign into their number.  When several months had passed, and the royal parents were reasonably certain the child was a son, the popular exuberance increased threefold.  Preparations for the proper ceremonies began as early as that, and the queen and her maids set about embroidering intricate banners and pennons for the arrival of the little prince.  

Despite his own excitement, Thranduil harbored worries which he could not ignore.  Gradually weighed down by her condition, Lindóriel was more obviously than ever the most delicately built of the family.   He consoled himself with thoughts of her strength as he had known it, her endurance, her resilience.  After all, Noruvion had taken a slender silvan wife and she had borne him a son without complications.  Surely his fears for Lindóriel’s health were baseless.  Yet he had not forgotten that sobering moment when Oropher had confided to him how much his Lóriel had been changed by bearing a single son. 

The people were intrigued; this prince would be both of the sovereign Iathrim and yet wholly their own.  He would be small, some said, slender and lovely like his mother, and would never outgrow the shadow cast by his father.  Others argued that he would be more his father’s son, a big boy with broad shoulders, a difficult burden for their beloved queen.

Thranduil, however, suspected that Lindóriel had her own distinct ideas regarding the precious life she carried.  She tired easily, especially now in the final months, and the strain upon her was evident despite her radiant happiness.  She was employing all her efforts and energy in the development of their child, sometimes a bit more generously than was prudent.  Thranduil was not blind to the fact, and he often lent her what strength of his own he could spare, an extremely intimate exercise which they found came quite easily with practice. 

He found her reading when he returned to her on a faded summer evening, elegantly propped up on the divan with cushions and well attended by her maids, all of whom rose and discreetly excused themselves upon the arrival of the king. 

“Are you tired?” he asked when they were alone, knowing well the answer.  She scarcely left their room now, unless it was on a short excursion into the gardens below.

“Somewhat,” she admitted, “but it should be nothing to worry you, love.  You have worries enough already.”

“You know I can always spare a bit of worry for you,” Thranduil smiled, sitting down beside her and sliding a fond hand over her belly.  The child stirred energetically, already recognizing his father.  The kick against his hand was undoubtedly a strong one, and he never ceased to be fascinated by the sensation.

Thranduil sighed.  “You do too much, Lin,” he said again.  “I do not want you to exhaust yourself.”

“I do not intend to,” she assured him with a smile, “but nor will I neglect this son of yours.  He will be as much like his father as lies within my power.”

“Do not neglect yourself,” he asked, almost pleading with her.  “You carry more than my son with you.”

She merely slid her hand over his, comforting him with her own confidence.  “Your heart is safe with me,” she promised. 

Thranduil smiled too, but softly.  “They do not let me spend enough time with you,” he complained, leaning forward to kiss her cheek, her throat, to feel her heart flutter the way it always did.  “I do not want to go back.  Do you think they would excuse me for the afternoon?”

“Your people are waiting for you,” she reminded him, around a smile of intense pleasure.  He could feel the growing tingle of excitement against her skin as he leaned farther into the embrace, snaking his arms around her.  “You ought not disappoint them.”

“I am the king,” he retorted with good-humored petulance.  “I can stay and make love to my own queen if I wish.  Oh!”   He coughed as the child between them kicked him in the stomach.

Lindóriel laughed with a genuine and spontaneous mirth which always made her twice as beautiful.  “He loves you, too,” she assured him.  “And he seems to have your otherwise impeccable sense of duty.”

“Oh, very well,” Thranduil conceded.  “So long as you know I will return as soon as I possibly can.”  He rose and planted a parting kiss on her lips as he went.  “I love you.”

“And I you,” she smiled.

Another month passed with a mixture of expectation and some apprehension.  Lindóriel’s spirits were undampened, but she could no longer hide the mounting strain.  Thranduil looked after her himself as his duties would allow him.  He no longer received audiences, and he removed his paperwork to their private chambers.  The rest and attention seemed to do her good.

The queen officially went into confinement on the day appointed.  Autumn had come again and the sky was dark with promise of welcome rain.  A crowd assembled to wish her well as she disappeared into the royal chambers, hopefully to emerge with their long-awaited heir.

Thranduil lingered in the room as the maids bustled about gathering everything that could be prepared in advance of the birth.  He was rather agitated himself, but largely with pride and acute anticipation.  Lindóriel smiled up at him, an island of serenity amid the commotion. 

“You may go if you have other business, love,” she said.  “I am sure they will call you when it becomes interesting.”

“I,” he insisted, sitting on the bed beside her, “am going nowhere.”  He kissed her fondly, taking her slender hand in his own.  “Today of all days, I am your husband, Lin, nothing more.”

The lines on her brow betrayed her anxiety.  “Thank you.  I did hope you could stay.”

“Nothing could make me leave you,” he promised.

The child was very much awake, apparently as ready to enter the world as they were to welcome him.  Thranduil ran his hand over a bump he assumed was either a foot or a knee, and was rewarded with a flutter of excitement.  He could tell there was a distinct personality there, though largely dormant, and the sense that his unborn son already recognized him was more thrilling than he had imagined.

“Have you chosen a name for him yet?” Lindóriel prodded.

“Do not rush me,” he replied.  “Let me see him and then I will decide.  You did promise me the sons.”

“Yes, well, do not expect me to share the daughters.”

The birth itself began late that evening, and the heavy expectation in the air became feverish excitement.  The more burdensome pangs began in earnest in the depth of the night, just as the rain began pounding on the roof.  No one was very concerned until shortly before dawn when it became evident that the labor had yielded no result whatsoever since it had begun.

Lindóriel was bearing the ordeal as gracefully as possible, but she no longer spent her remaining strength speaking.  Thranduil remained as close as he could without crowding her, yet he was becoming increasingly frustrated with the maids who were proving ineffective midwives.  After another fruitless hour, he took matters into his own hands.

“Bring Noruvion up here,” he commanded. 

Noruvion appeared in short order, as though he had expected to be called eventually.  He assessed the situation calmly, but with a grim face.  He said nothing for a time, instead merely sat and observed.  Thranduil was tempted to be short with him, but by that time he knew better than to question the physician's methods.  Another grueling half hour passed, during which the furrows in Noruvion's brow only deepened.

At last, he stood.  “Thranduil,” he said, beckoning, “come with me for a moment.”

Thranduil glowered, reluctant to leave his wife when she seemed to need him most, but he went.

Safely outside the room, Noruvion turned to face him with a dispassionate expression that always boded ill.  “I have never seen this for myself among the Iathrim,” he said, “but I have heard of it.  Her body simply cannot allow for the easy passage of children.  For all her effort, it does not seem the child has moved in the least.”

“And your only suggestion is rather invasive?”  Thranduil's throat had suddenly become very dry.

“If her labor is allowed to continue, it could go on for days,” Noruvion reasoned, “which could very well be the death of the child.  In the worst case, it could be her death as well.”

“That is unacceptable,” Thranduil protested.  It was a reflex; for a moment he had ceased to think.  It seemed unreal, the possibility of losing everything at once on a day that should have been so full of joy.

“I can make you no promises,” Noruvion went on, “but if you will allow me, I will do everything in my power to save them both.”

In a moment, as his brief flood of panic subsided, Thranduil knew there was very little to consider at that point.  As much as he hated the thought of inflicting greater pain on Lindóriel, under no circumstances could he let her die.  He had never realized just how lonely a woman's battles could be, but she would not have to endure this alone if he could help it.  “It seems we have very little choice in the matter,” he said.  “Do what you must.”

Noruvion nodded, and they returned inside.  He immediately began giving orders and directions, making it seem less like a birthing room and more like a field hospital.  Thranduil returned to Lindóriel and cradled her head against his shoulder. 

“Just relax for me,” he said.  She was too weak to give much resistance, and seemed disinclined to question him.  A desperate idea was growing in his mind as he watched Noruvion select a very fine knife from his collection.  He remembered their most intimate moments together, the intense union of their deepest selves.  The difficulty was that he did not know if he could evoke that union on his own.

“I am afraid our endeavor has not gone to plan, love,” he said in as calm a voice as he could manage.  Noruvion was assembling several maids with clean linens, and had prepared a needle and hair thread, implements Thranduil knew all too well.  “Noruvion is going to put a stop to this before it becomes any worse.”

A faint smile did touch her lips, though she did not open her eyes.  “I am sorry,” she managed to say.  “I had wanted to prove my strength to you, but it seems it was not to be.”

“You may prove it yet,” Thranduil assured her.  “The battle is far from won.  We need your strength now more than ever.”

Another pang prevented her reply, though she gripped his hand with greater force than he expected.

“Noruvion is a master of his craft, as I can well attest, but the process is difficult to endure,” he said at last, almost frantic in his efforts to both prepare and reassure her.  “Look at me, love.  Please stay with me.”

“I would never leave you of my own choosing,” Lindóriel assured him.  She seemed calmer than before, and her breathing had deepened, almost as though her body had exhausted itself for the moment.

Noruvion was ready, standing over them with blade in hand and three maids ready to swab blood.

“Forgive me, Lin,” Thranduil said, seeing their time was up; “I know this is not what you want at this moment.”  Before she could object, he lifted her face and kissed her with all the passion he could muster.

There it was, the mutual spark that flared into an ecstasy of shared consciousness.  Lindóriel was too far gone to do more than let her mind drift in the comfort his inmost presence could provide, but Thranduil had a very focused objective, to shield her from her suffering.  It required every ounce of his composure to do no more than flinch when it came, that horribly familiar feeling, the cold scrape of a blade through flesh.

Noruvion made the incisions quickly, but very carefully.  The sharp smell of fresh blood filled the room in an instant.  Thranduil forced himself to look, breathless with more than just the incredible pain as his friend reached into Lindóriel's open womb and lifted out the languid infant.  The child was immediately passed to the most reliable of the queen's maids as Noruvion finished his work and closed the wounds, stitch by agonizing stitch.

“She may have this for the pain,” he said when he had finished, administering a dose of the usual decoction he always recommended.

A look of quiet serenity had returned to Lindóriel's pallid face now that the worst of the ordeal was over.  “I love you,” she whispered as she at last fell into a deep recuperative sleep. 

Thranduil simply held her, afraid he might be sick if he tried to speak.  The pain had made him lightheaded, and the unpleasant sensation of having been disemboweled threatened to turn his stomach.  When the drug had at last taken effect, he let her go and fell back against the headboard, sapped but satisfied. 

In a few moments Noruvion had swaddled the wailing child and proudly presented him to his father.  “You two earned this one,” he said with a wry smile.  “You look as bad as she does.”

“Keep your opinions,” Thranduil retorted in kind, his excitement overpowering his weariness.  “She looks lovely, as always.” 

He took his infant son and cradled him close in the crook of his arm, surprised by how natural it felt.  At once the forlorn crying ceased, comforted by a familiar and trusted presence.  Already awed by the miracle of it all, Thranduil knew he would value that trust for the rest of his life.

He was so small, so frail, but perfectly formed and full of hidden life, still unfurling like a tender young leaf in the spring.  He had considered naming him for Beleg, the mentor of his childhood in Doriath, Lindóriel's kinsman.  She had wanted to name him for Dorlas, her father, or something which recalled the strong onset of springtime for which Thranduil himself had been named.  A blend of them all seemed to suggest itself, a happy accident of the silvan influence on their Sindarin language, just as the child in his arms was heir to many different legacies.

“What shall we tell the city?” Noruvion asked.

Thranduil smiled.  “His name is Legolas.”

<< Back

Next >>

Leave Review
Home     Search     Chapter List