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"A new life among the Green Leaves…"
Mirkwood a few years after 1050 TA
Thranduil looked around the new Halls. They would become home but they were not just yet. He guided his horse along the hidden borders of these halls. Soaring beauty in stone. Underground and protected. He sighed, how he hated having to retreat further north. Their palace amid the trees had been a work of art. But over the last ten years something had been happening in the southern forest. Something sinister that he could feel within his very soul was wrong. He feared that he knew what it was; he had felt this presence before and it was not something he was ready to face. So a decision had been made in great reluctance to move his people northward, past the Forest River. It had taken time to locate a new spot as a home for his people but at last it had been found. Upon seeing a mountain in the northern edge of the forest he was struck by a memory. In his mind's eye he saw his long ago home of Menegroth in Doriath. A lifetime ago, in a different world, in a different place one he never thought he would see again. But looking at this mountain he saw the same home. Underground. Every fiber of his being said this could be, this would be their new stronghold. For the last ten years the process of hollowing out the mountain and the creating a new life that hearkened after old had been underway. There had been no real timescale. It would be finished when it was finished and then they would move.
All that changed when Lasgalen came to him last spring with news that set joy alight within Thranduil's heart. She was with child again. Thranduil, after many years of merely existing, came alive again. It had been thought that Lasgalen was long past her child-bearing years. Sadron, their youngest, had been born five hundred years ago. Celebren four hundred years before that. It was not unheard of to bear a child so late, but it was unusual. Suddenly Thranduil wanted emphasis placed on the living areas of the halls under the mountain. Everything else could be worked on afterwards. He wanted his newest child to be born as far away as possible from the evil that now resided in the South Wood.
He approved of what he saw when he looked around this new stronghold. His eldest son, Celebren had been placed in charge of building their new home. He had a talent for this kind of engineering and bringing to fruition large projects such as this. Thranduil marveled at the ability that he never had. "Celebren, ion nin! This is magnificent!" He looked at his son with pride in his eyes.
Celebren, a confident and accomplished elf in his own right, looked at his father with wide eyes of green, full of appreciation for what his father had just said. Thranduil was not effusive in his praise, so for him to say this meant the world to Celebren. "Hannon Le, Adar. It is kind of you to say!"
"Nonsense! I say it because it is true! It will make your Naneth very happy! And maybe she will stop getting after me about this move." Lasgalen had been against the move from the start. She loved her palace amid the trees and was loath to leave it. He knew that she understood why they had to go, and she understood why Thranduil wanted leave before the baby was born but he also knew she loved her home, and it was going to be a wrench to leave it. And the idea of living underground had not sat with her terribly well. "You have found a way to make the inside almost as if it was outside. Tis a marvel!"
Celebren was again stunned by the praise. "Hannon Le, Adar!"
Thranduil looked at his son. They were so very different. Thranduil was all fire and ice. He could blister someone with a few fiery words or freeze out someone out with a look. Celebren was more scholarly and a much more measured personality. It took a good deal rouse his fire but when it was roused, he was a formidable warrior. Thranduil did not always remember to appreciate his quiet son's strengths. But he had to admit Celebren had done some fantastic work within the mountain and its environs. "Come, it is time to return home. Soon though we will be ready to return for good."
Lasgalen was almost to term. Conceived in Spring the child would be born in Spring. She was sitting on an extended flet just outside her suite of rooms shared with Thranduil trying to soak what warmth the early spring had to give her. She was sitting in the only way that was still comfortable for her given that she was eleven months with child. She rubbed her hand over her large tummy. “You listen here my little prince,” she said with mock sternness, “You are going to stop this moving around when I am trying to sleep!”
“Do you really think he will listen, if indeed he is a ‘he’?” Her friend and resident healer, Meren said incredulously.
Lasgalen remained in the half-sitting, half laying posture and said, “I thought it was worth a try! Nothing else seems to work! And yes, he is a boy. A girl wouldn’t give me this much trouble!” Meren chuckled in a commiserating fashion. She pulled up her chair and began to feel Lasgalen’s stomach. Lasgalen just eyed her and said, “I look forward to the day when my stomach is not treated like a free petting zone! Hands at the ready ‘Let’s pet the pregnant stomach.’”
Meren stated matter-of-factly, “Now you know that’s not true! Thranduil won’t let anyone within ten feet of you.”
“Yes, well. I feel like that!”
Meren ignored the grumblings of her friend of many centuries, “Baby does seem to be positioned just as he-,” She paused, “Now you’ve got me doing it!”
Lasgalen laughed, “My work here is finished!”
Meren gave her the gimlet eye and continued with the examination, “The BABY,” she said pointedly, “seems to be getting into the correct position.”
“Good! And you can stop rubbing the free petting space now!” Meren gave her an exasperated look. “I’m sorry, Meren. I am just a little on edge. Thranduil is due back from inspecting our new home and if he likes the progress we are then starting the move. I know it is what he wants, and it is a drain on him to be so close to the South Wood these days, but I love these woods.”
“Then tell him.” Meren insisted.
“I can’t. This means so much to him.”
“All right.” Meren sighed, “but try to relax, this is not doing the baby any favours!”
The Royal family left within a few days of Thranduil’s return. Meren had told Thranduil that the sooner they could get Lasgalen to their new home and settled before the babe was due the better it would be for both mother and child. They would be taking a slightly less direct route than they would be normally because Lasgalen was unable to sit a horse safely. She would be pulled in a well cushioned cart over the flattest ground. Down to the Old Forest Road and east to trace the edge of the forest to the newly hollowed out halls. Three days into the journey as they were skirting the Forest rim, Thranduil was once again riding next to the cart carrying the precious cargo of his wife and third child. He was having misgivings about moving Lasgalen. Perhaps they should have moved sooner so that the journey would have been less taxing on his wife. He regretted that lapse of judgment on his part. But his drive to see his wife and young child safe from the corrupting influence what was happening in the South forest blotted out all other concerns. Now he could only pray to the Valar that they have mercy on his wife for his faulty decision making. Within his soul he beseeched Estë to ease Lasgalen’s weariness.
“What thoughts trouble you, my husband?”
Thranduil started from his ponderings at the sound of Lasgalen’s lyrical voice tinged with the very weariness that gave him pause. Her green eyes shone with the light of stars that had ever mesmerized him, yet he could see around her eyes a tiredness she tried to hide.
“Oh Las! I have done this to you! You should be safe and not trundling through the countryside because of my misgivings and musings!”
“My love! While I will not deny that this is not the most comfortable of times for me, I will also say,” she looked at him pointedly but with laughter in her eyes, “And you are not to remind me of this in future times.”
Thranduil placed his reins-free hand over his heart, “Never my heart!” he vowed. His eyes twinkling with mischief.
Lasgalen flashed him a look that said his words lacked a certain credulity, “Nevertheless,” here her voice regained the more serious tenor. “I too have felt a certain growing sadness within the woods near our home and that you were right to move us northward.”
Thranduil was saddened, “Oh my love! I never wanted you to feel that. I regret that it should have come to that!”
“Husband! I am not made of glass. I will not break because I have knowledge of sadness in this world!”
Thranduil marveled at the indomitable spirit of this beautiful elf who was his wife these many centuries though he could never understand why she ever chose him. “I know.” He said weakly. “It’s just that…” his voice trailed; the words of protection and caring unspoken.
Lasgalen looked him with eyes of compassion, as if she knew what he could not say. “I know.”
It was another two days before they reached the northern mountains where Thranduil’s new halls were still under construction. Lasgalen was napping as best she could when a song entered her heart. A joyful song of welcome spread through her soul. She opened her eyes and looked around to see the new green leaves in the trees swaying gently with a breeze that was blowing through them. A forgotten joy was re-awakened. The lessening of joy in her palace among the trees had happened so gradually that she had not noticed until she entered this northern portion of the forest and realized how quiet her soul had been. The song of welcome was calling to her and her spirit responded with gladness. She felt more alive than she had in many a year. She felt a kick within her stomach. Apparently, her yet unborn prince felt the same way. She looked at Thranduil who quickly steered his horse closer to the cart seeing that she had awoken. Lasgalen then said two words, “We’re home!”
A look of gladness stole across Thranduil’s face, “Yes. We are.” He looked about him at the swaying trees and said a quiet thank you to the spirits of the trees for welcoming them home. “Now then, we are almost to our halls and we can get you settled in.” They rode a few measures further and they came what looked like a dense cluster of trees but as they rode to the cluster it seemed as if they were able to ride through the trees. Within a minute of entering, the trees gave way to a courtyard that was bustling with activity. Lasgalen looked around her and saw soaring stone archways comingling with the branches of the trees to create an effect of a stone forest mingling with the forest of trees. It was a thing of beauty.
The cart came to a halt and Lasgalen had to admit she was glad for it. No amount of cushions could shield her from all bumps and jars of the week long journey. Thranduil was immediately at her side as she dismounted from the cart. Meren was on the other side and they were both fussing like two mother hens. She accepted help climbing down but once her slippered feet touched ground, she slapped both sets of hands away. “I am merely in the last month of child bearing! I’m not an invalid!” she snapped.
“You can keep telling them, Naneth but neither will listen!” She looked up and saw her eldest son Celebren walking up the stairs from what could only be the main hall, his silver hair glinting as he entered the sunlight.
“Celebren, mellion nin!” She reached out both hands to clasp his. Celebren pulled her hands to kiss them both and then bent to kiss Lasgalen on the cheek. She looked all around and then at him. “This is beautiful beyond words, mellion nin!”
Celebren, though he was a fully grown elf blushed at his mother’s praise. “Everything was done with you in mind. Come and see!” He guided her into the main hall.
Thranduil and Meren were left standing at the entrance. “Well, that’s us done then! Not even a second thought.” Meren said with both amusement and exasperation.
Thranduil nodded sagely, “I learned long ago. When that tone is taken. It is time to step aside and let her have her own head!”
Meren laughed. “True enough! Horse comparison aside that is!”
Thranduil looked a little abashed, “I’d appreciate it if you did not mention that particular bit to her!”
Meren stated, “Your secret is safe with me, My King!”
Thranduil stated, “Hannon le! My lady Healer!” He looked to Guildor, his attendant of long years, “Guildor, Can you begin sorting out our rooms. The Queen’s suites first. If you could.”
“At once My King!” he bowed with his hand on his heart.
He turned back to Meren, “My Lady, if you would care to inspect your healing rooms!” Thranduil gallantly offered his arm to escort the lady to her newly appointed workspace.
“Hannon Le, my king. I would indeed.” They walked into the main hall in search the healing rooms.
The scream came in the middle of the night. Thranduil immediately bolted awake, “My Love. Is it happening?” Lasgalen was at the side of the bed, panting. She looked at him with a look that said, “Ya think!” Thranduil shouted for their hall attendant, who came running in to hear what his king had need of. “Eliion, Bring Meren here immediately. The Queen is in labor!” The young elf ran quick as a flash to do his king’s bidding. Lasgalen cried out again, still clutching the side of the bed and continued to pant. Thranduil suggested that she get back into bed, but she shook her head firmly no. Thranduil was at a loss. He was used to battle screams but not from his wife. He was a man of action, but this was beyond him. It was truly an elleth’s province.
Meren and two attendants rushed into the room. Thranduil had never been so relieved in his long life to see someone. “Right, my King. We shall take it from here.” They started bustling around. He simply stood where he was until Meren started to usher him to the door. “She is well in hand, my king.”
“Yes, of course,” he murmured.
Celebren appeared and Meren, with all the efficiency of a battle commander ordered. “Tis time for you two to depart!” Celebren said, “Yes, of course.” And started to guide Thranduil away from the bedchamber.
Sadron met them in the antechamber. “It has started?” Celebren nodded.
Guildor had already pour goblets of wine and was handing them around. “It is likely to be a long night. My lords! We had better settle in.”
Thranduil sat in a daze and sipped his wine. Suddenly he spoke. “Do you think she will be all right? Do you think the journey was too taxing for her.” The child was arriving a week earlier than expected. And his worry that he had managed to bury until now was resurfacing with a vengeance.
“Adar!” Celebren said in his most calming voice, “She will be fine. She seemed to rally these last weeks. The journey was long but Naneth will be fine.”
Thranduil could not seem to calm himself. He had been so anxious over the past weeks about moving his wife and child away from the South Wood that he had let his previous guard down and the pervasive evil that he had been so assiduously blocking from his thoughts started invading his peace of mind and was sowing doubts within his mind and spirit.
Night turned into the early morning and Thranduil’s worry increased with each hour. He stood on the balcony of the antechamber and then as dawn broke, he heard a faint cry. It was only a small sound, but the joyous cry pierced the gloom of Thranduil’s thoughts; sunlight was chasing away the mists. A tired but happy Meren came into announce the birth and even before she finished her sentence Thranduil was bounding past her down the passageway and into their bedchamber. All despair and doubt fled as he beheld his beloved laying in bed, exhausted but radiant. Thranduil walked forward in a happy trance to see the bundle in his wife’s arms. Blue eyes exactly like his gazed up at him, wide with wonder.
Meren appeared at his side, “Would you like to hold your son?” Thranduil mutedly nodded and watched as she picked up the baby from his mother and placed the bundle in his arms. Thranduil simply stared into those innocent blue eyes, so like his own and he felt as if he could take on the world. “Ion nin, mellion nin! I will always be here for you! You will be loved by all who know you. Ion nin!”
Lasgalen looked at father and son and she smiled, “What shall we name him?”
Thranduil looked down at her and then around him, “We came here so that he would not be born near evil. He shall be named for this place of green leaves, our new home. His home.”
“Legolas…” Lasgalen said softly. “I like it.”
“Legolas, you are home.” Thranduil said softly as he bounced his son gently up and down. The child blew a spit bubble in apparent approval. Thranduil could see his love reflected in young eyes. In that moment he knew hope; it had been renewed in his heart as he held in his new son.
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