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Note: I’m known to write bookverse Tolkienfic, almost exclusively. However, this piece was inspired by Thranduil’s movieverse scar. This is a Christmas gift fic for adafrog, who wanted a story in which Thranduil is nice to Elrond.
Beta read by the generous
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“Have some patience, my friend,” said Elrond, when Glorfindel protested against the delay. “We shall be on our way soon enough. First, however, Thranduil and I have something to discuss.”
“We have?” asked the Elvenking of Mirkwood in surprise. “Elrond, we have not talked to each other, truly talked, since… well, since the Battle of Dagorlad, I deem.”
“We might have, had you deigned to come to the meetings of the White Council,” pointed out Elrond reasonably.
Thranduil’s smile, when answering, was bitter. “And what good would that do for me? Who would have listened to anything I might have said? More dangerous and less wise – is that not how you, High-Elves and wizards, call us, conveniently forgetting that I was born in Doriath and taught by Melian herself?”
“I would have listened,” replied Elrond quietly. “And mayhap a different point of view would have been helpful from time to time.”
“Mayhap,” shrugged Thranduil. “Yet who, pray tell, would have protected the forest in my absence? My older sons are dead and Legolas, while doing his best, is not yet ready to shoulder so much responsibility. It is not as if we had any magic trinkets to protect us.”
Seeing that Elrond wanted to protest, Thranduil raised a hand. “Oh, worry not. I know what I know, and I shan’t speak of it to anyone. Not even to my son – not before he is ready to take over. There was something you wanted to talk about, though. What is it?”
“Your scar,” replied Elrond simply.
“My… scar,” echoed Thranduil, his unblemished face revealing nothing.
Elrond nodded. “The glamour you use to disguise it is amazingly strong, but I am a healer. I was born a healer. I cannot see the scar itself, but I can feel its presence under the glamour. May I take a look? Perchance I can help.”
Thranduil shook his head. “My wife, who was the strongest healer of the Faithful, could not heal me. Aiwendil could not heal me. What makes you think you could do what they could not?”
“Because you might have been taught by Melian, the Maia, but I have descended from her,” answered Elrond simply. “And because healing is my gift.”
Which was very true, not to mention widely known among Elvenkind, thus Thranduil could not truly argue with it.
“I… do not like showing imperfection,” he confessed after an endless moment of silence. “My people need me to be strong. We Elves heal without scarring, even from the gravest of injuries. It is expected.”
“True, but not even we can grow back a lost limb, to name just one thing,” reminded him Elrond. “And burns caused by dragonfire are much more severe than even that; the evil of the dragons’ very being is what causes the lasting damage, not the flames themselves.”
“My people would not understand that,” Thranduil sighed. “They are a hardy yet simple folk. I cannot afford showing any weakness or else I might lose their faith in me as their King, and that would be the downfall of the Woodland Realm that we have been protecting for all three Ages of the world at such sacrifices.”
“Has anyone ever seen that scar of yours?” asked Elrond.
Thranduil nodded. “My wife. My sister. Aiwendil. They were the ones who made attempts to heal me. And Old Galion, who took care of me afterwards, but he is the keeper of every secret of our House.”
“No-one else? Not even Legolas?” Elrond could not quite hide his surprise.
Thranduil shook his head again. “He needs me to be strong, too.”
“You don’t need to be strong for me, though,” said Elrond kindly. “Let me take a look. Celebrían would want me to give it a try, at the very least.
Again, Thranduil could hardly argue with that. Celebrían’s father was his first cousin, after all. They were both princes of Doriath, and such bonds held across Ages. Literally, in their case.
Besides, had he not dropped his disguise in a moment of cold fury before the eyes of a Dwarf? At least Elrond was kin, being of Lúthien’s blood, even though it was mixed with that of mortal Men during the generations in-between.
“Very well,” he gave in with a sigh. “But forget not that I have warned you.”
After another moment of reluctance, he dropped the glamour he had borne for countless centuries, revealing the damage that dragonfire had wrought upon his flesh, back in the early years of this Age, when the Great Worms first stirred in what later became the Withered Heath.
Elrond needed all his considerably willpower to hide his shock. True, he had seen wounds caused by dragonfire while serving as a young battle healer during the War of Wrath. But those people had all died from their terrible wounds, sooner rather than later. He had never seen the aftermath.
It was as if he had been looking at two people at the same time. On one side, there was Thranduil as everyone knew him: cold, arrogant, beautiful and dangerous. On the other side… at first it seemed as if there he had not had a face at all. That side of his face had been burned away once, a long time ago… or, at least, most of it.
Elven healing abilities had clearly done their best to repair the damage. What was left from his flesh had knitted over the bare bones in a rough, ropy, uneven manner, with holes and gauges in-between. And his eye on that side, once crystal clear and ice blue, had a dull white shell covering it, which shocked Elrond even more than the rest of the wound.
“Can you use that eye at all?” he asked.
Thranduil shrugged. “I can see light and shadows, even vague colours and movement, but that is all.”
“And you go to battle with only one good eye?”
“I have had time enough to get used to it. No-one has ever noticed,” his thin, unpleasant smile made Elrond shudder. “They were too busy running for their miserable lives.”
Which was true, of course. Thranduil’s fearsome reputation was not due to his infamous temper alone. He was, in truth, one of the greatest Elven warriors of the two recent Ages; only Glorfindel and perhaps Celeborn could have compared themselves to him.
Elrond only now realized that this well-earned reputation had come with such a high price.
“Does the wound still pain you?” He asked. “It is as healed as it ever will, I fear, but such wounds are known to bother one long afterwards.”
“From time to time,” Thranduil admitted. “On the anniversary of the injury… and it got worse as the dark presence in Dol Guldur grew in strength. I hope now that Sauron has been driven out, it will calm down a little again.”
“It ought to,” Elrond agreed. “Such wounds often answer to the closeness of evil. Alas, I cannot help with that; but I can give you something for the pain.”
He opened his healer’s kit and took out a tightly stoppered little flask, enclosed in white leather and silver.
“This is athelas essence,” he explained. “Tis very strong, so use it sparsely. One drop in a bowl of boiling water should suffice. Bathe the wound with it once the water has cooled somewhat if the pain becomes too much.”
“I have borne this wound – and the pain that comes with it – for so long that I have all but forgotten what life used to be like before,” answered Thranduil flatly. “’Tis part of me now; but some relief will be welcome. Thank you.”
“I wish I could do more,” said Elrond. “But your wound is the kind that can only be healed in the Blessed Land, whether you get there by ship or through Mandos.”
“Neither of which I shall do, as long as I can help it,” Thranduil allowed the glamour to slide back in space. “Not as long as the spirit of my wife lingers here.”
Elrond stared at him aghast. “Are you telling me that Lálisin has died and refused to follow the call of Mandos? That she chose to become one of the Unhoused?”
“I cannot tell for certain,” Thranduil sighed. “But she – or some echo of her – appeared to Legolas under the Great Ash, and the Great Ash is an ancient tree of strange powers. My Queen is – was – one of the Faithful, and as you know, the Faithful do not leave the lands of their birth, not even in death. She told Legolas that she remained here to watch over her family. Whatever agreement she might have forged with the Lord of Mandos, I cannot imagine. But if she truly refused to leave, I shan’t leave, either.”
“You have become almost Silvan in your sensibilities,” commented Elrond with a smile. “’Twas the long exposure to their rustic customs, no doubt.”
“I shall take that as a compliment,” returned Thranduil, with a slightly wicked glint in his one good eye. “My people may be rustic, but I find their ways most reasonable. After all, kingdoms have risen and fallen during the three Ages of the world, entire landscapes have crumbled into the Sea, but the Tree Children are still dwelling in their forests and are not any worse for the wear.”
“Well, their King is,” pointed out Elrond.
Thranduil shrugged. “We all have our burden to bear. Thank you for this,” he lifted the flask briefly. “We should part ways now, though. ‘Tis time for me to return home; and the Balrog Slayer is getting impatient, I deem.”
Elrond laughed quietly. “Glorfindel does not like it when I leave the safety of Imladris. He considers me Turgon’s heir and thus sees it as his duty to protect me.”
“Has he forgotten that you led armies against the Black Tower?” Thranduil snorted. “You might be a healer now, but once you were Gil-galad’s herald and standard bearer.”
“I’ve always been a healer,” Elrond corrected; “and Glorfindel cannot help being over-protective. He is an old Elf, after all; presumably older than even Círdan, though he was… absent from life for a couple of centuries.”
“Which took care of his injuries, I assume,” said Thranduil wryly; then he offered Elrond the warrior’s clasp. “I truly have to depart now; Silinde Ladyhawk is getting edgy and believe me, not even I would raise her ire without a very good reason.”
Elrond glanced at the magnificent female warrior in her shining armour – although considerably younger, Silinde was every bit as famous among the Silvan folk as Glorfindel was among the High-Elves, and rightly so – and had to agree. No-one crossed the Ladyhawk if they valued their lives. Not even the King for whose protection she had sworn a solemn oath many long years ago.
Especially not the King for whose protection she had sworn a solemn oath.
“You are right,” said the Master of Imladris. “We have tried the patience of our devoted protectors long enough. Take care, kinsman, and be not too proud to send for me if you need me.”
He did not truly expect Thranduil to do so – the Elvenking of Mirkwood was famous for his stubborn pride… among other things – but he felt he ought to make the offer. Even though healing that wound was beyond even his skills.
Thranduil thanked him politely, saying neither aye nor nay about the issue. Then they both swung into their saddles and got on the way, flanked by their respective protectors: Thranduil towards the North with the Ladyhawk and Elrond towards the West, accompanied by the Balrog Slayer.
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