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Disclaimer: I borrow characters and settings from Tolkien but they belong to him. I gain no profit from their use other than the enriched imaginative life that I assume he intended me to gain.
Many thanks to Nilmandra for beta reading this chapter.
6. Coming to One’s Senses
Ithilden pointed to a place on the map that was slightly to the east of where the Southern Patrol was now camped and just south of the Dwarf Road. “What about here?” he asked. “Two of the bands we have seen in the last four days were heading in this direction. It would be worth scouting it out tonight, I think.”
Todith nodded. “Very well. I will send the scouts out now. It will soon be dark enough for Orcs to be on the move, and that should give the scouts time to get into position.” He moved away to issue orders and then returned to eye the map for a moment. “I wish Eilian would get hold of himself,” he said regretfully. “He is by far the best scout I have ever had.”
Ithilden frowned. “Eilian is too inexperienced to serve in a patrol such as this one.”
Todith looked at him in surprise. “I do not agree,” he said respectfully but firmly. “He had become too reckless during the last few months he served here, but he performed admirably for years before that. He even withstood the effect of the shadow better than most do.” He shrugged wryly. “I always thought that optimistic, adventuresome streak in him made him enjoy the unpredictability of serving here, so I was sorry when he let it get the better of him, but I would take him back in an instant if I thought he had control of himself again.”
Ithilden turned back to the map. “You are unlikely to have the opportunity,” he said coolly. The decision as to which warriors were to serve where rested entirely in his hands, and so far as he was concerned, Eilian was staying where he was. Ithilden’s lack of anticipation had already cost his mother’s life; he would not let a similar failure cost his brother’s. He pushed thoughts of Eilian from his mind. He needed to concentrate on deploying his forces to hold this position south of the road if he was to succeed in keeping it open.
The sound of an approaching horse made him look up again almost immediately to see a messenger attached to one of the border patrols riding into the camp. He stiffened. He had already received his routine reports, and he could see ominous black stains marring the cloak of this unlooked-for messenger. He stepped forward and the messenger saw him and slipped from his horse to hurry toward him.
“My lord,” he put his hand over his heart formally, “I bring a message from Elorfin.” Elorfin captained the patrol that guarded the southwest borders of Thranduil’s realm, beyond the territory of the Home Guard. The messenger looked unhappy and glanced around at the curious warriors now regarding them. “I fear the news is not good,” he murmured.
Ithilden gestured for the Elf to accompany him a small distance away from the center of camp, so that whatever news he bore could be conveyed more privately. “What have you to tell me?” he asked.
“Yesterday morning, our patrol saw smoke rising from an area near where the Enchanted River flows down from the Mountains of Mirkwood,” the messenger told him. “We hastened toward it, but by the time we got there, it was too late.” Ithilden steeled himself for news of something else he had been helpless to prevent. “We found a homestead that had been overrun by Orcs,” the messenger went on, “and completely burned to the ground. Every living thing had been killed, even the livestock, and the Orcs were gone.”
“How many Orcs?”
“Perhaps forty. They went into the mountains.”
“Did you track them?”
“Yes, they had gone to ground for the day, but we flushed them out. We killed most of them, but a handful escaped.”
Ithilden stood in silence for a moment. “There were no survivors at the homestead?” he asked woodenly.
“No, my lord,” the messenger answered. “None.”
“Do we know who lived there?” Ithiden went on.
The messenger nodded soberly. “An Elf named Voniel, his wife, their son and daughter, the son’s wife, two grandchildren.” There was a moment’s silence, and Ithilden looked unseeingly at the thick, dark trees closing in on the clearing.
“Thank you,” he finally told the messenger. “Get something to eat and take some rest. I may have some orders for you to take back to Elorfin.” The messenger nodded and started back to retrieve and care for his weary looking horse.
Ithilden returned to the rock where his map lay. He bent close to it in the gathering dusk and carefully added a small, precise mark where the burned homestead had been. Then he stood looking down at the map, which suddenly blurred before him. I am so tired, he thought irrelevantly, and then put his pen down and walked off into the woods, startling a warrior who was guarding the camp’s perimeter as he passed.
He reached the shelter of a beech grove and stood leaning against one of the trees, with his head pressed against it. The trees here were not so withered as those further south, but they were clearly suffering. He could feel that the beech’s life force was fading. The chances that it would survive another winter were not good. And yet, he could also feel the tree responding to his presence with sympathetic distress. You would do well to be distressed for your own fate, he told it, because there is almost certainly nothing I can do to change it. He stared at the ground near his feet, where a broken branch lay. Suddenly, he snatched up the branch and threw it as far as he could, giving an incoherent cry as he did so.
Footsteps sounded behind him and he whirled to find Maltanaur a short distance away. Two guards came running, probably in response to his shout, but Maltanaur waved them off, and after a moment’s uncertainty, they turned back toward the camp. Ithilden supposed they were not eager to confront their evidently demented commander and were only too happy to leave Maltanaur to do it. He turned his back on the older Elf and leaned against the tree again.
“Did that make you feel better?” Maltanaur asked from close behind him.
Ithilden stifled an impulse to order the Elf to leave him. He had not yet had an opportunity to have things out with Maltanaur, and this was as good a time as any. He was considering what he wanted to say when Maltanaur spoke.
“I have been wishing for an opportunity to have things out with you, Ithilden,” he said, “and this is as good a time as any.”
Ithilden’s jaw dropped, and he spun to face the Elf, spluttering incoherently.
“I have known you all your life,” Maltanaur began in a tone that suggested he had much to say, “and I have always thought of you as level-headed. So I have been puzzled by your determination to seize responsibility for every evil thing that happens in the Woodland Realm. I have concluded that your understandable grief for the death of your naneth has left you more vulnerable than usual to the effect of the shadow that weighs upon us all here.”
Ithilden had finally found his tongue. “That is quite enough!” he snapped, his eyes narrowing.
“I doubt very much if it is,” Maltanaur said placidly. “You seem to be exceedingly stubborn in your belief that your power is, or should be, infinite.”
“Be quiet,” Ithilden hissed. “I may not have infinite power, but I certainly have the power to see to it that you are transferred to a permanent post watching the road to Esgaroth -- the far end of the road!” He could feel his hands shaking in his fury, and he balled them into fists as he shoved his face intimidatingly close to Maltanaur’s. “You talk so easily about my responsibility. My responsibility is what it has always been: the safety of those who live in the Woodland Realm. I command the troops. If I am not responsible when they are not where they are needed when they are needed, then who is? I may not always live up to my responsibility, but at least I know what it is! And my grief,” suddenly his voice broke, and he struggled for control. “My grief is my own business.” He clenched his jaw, unable to go on.
Maltanaur regarded him calmly. “The weather grows cold,” he said. “Are you responsible for that too? For the chill the warriors feel in the night? Can you control it?”
Ithilden opened his mouth to reprimand Maltanaur for speaking when he had been ordered to silence, but suddenly found himself answering the older Elf’s question. “Of course not,” he said through stiff lips. “But as it happens, I can control the troops.” To his horror, his voice was wavering again. “And I would say that recent events prove that I need to do a better job of it than I have been doing.”
Maltanaur’s face was serious but gentle. “Everyone has limits, Ithilden,” he said, “and mistakes and failure are the lot of us all. You are so competent and hardworking that you have seldom been confronted with your own imperfections. But you have them, just as the rest of us do. And you need to learn to forgive yourself for them. No one sees everything or knows everything. Not even you.”
Ithilden stared at him, blinking hard. “Surely the question is not whether I can forgive my failures, but whether others can.”
Maltanaur cocked his head and eyed him. “Do you mean the king? My guess would be that it has never occurred to your adar to forgive you for anything because he has never thought there was anything to forgive.”
Ithilden stared at him wordlessly, dumbstruck by the idea that Maltanaur was proposing.
There was a sudden stir behind them and they both turned. “Ithilden,” Todith said, his words quick with excitement, “the scouts came across a large band of Orcs just beginning to stir. We need to move now.”
Ithilden and Maltanaur were both instantly in motion toward the camp. “How did the scouts get into position so quickly?” Ithilden asked as they ran.
“They stumbled on them accidentally shortly after they left camp,” Todith answered with a grim smile. “Sometimes all the planning in Arda is worth less than a bit of good fortune.”
In the campsite, Elves were scrambling to ready their weapons. Ithilden seized his bow and strapped on his quiver. “There are as many as seventy of them,” Todith told his warriors. “We should be able to surprise them, so make as much use of your bows as you can to even the odds. Then be ready to cut them off if they start to retreat.” His warriors, accompanied by Ithilden’s party, moved quickly into the trees and toward the Orc band.
They came upon the Orcs within twenty minutes after leaving the campsite. In deadly silence, the Elves ranged themselves in the trees around the band, who were still shaking themselves awake. Like everyone around him, Ithilden drew his bow and waited for Todith’s signal. In ironic beauty, a nightingale’s call sounded, and a rain of arrows fell upon the Orcs.
For the next short span of time, Ithilden drew and fired and drew and fired. He did not even need to move from the tree limb on which he stood, for the Orcs milled in surprised confusion below him. Then their archers began to launch their own arrows, and the battle was joined in earnest. Ithilden tried to keep his focus wide so that he would see arrows speeding toward him, but he had to focus tightly each time he targeted an Orc. An arrow whistled next to his ear, and he ducked instinctively but knew that his movement had come after the arrow had already passed and that it had missed him only by chance.
Finally, like most of the Elves around him, he realized that the Orcs were now too close upon them for arrows and jumped from the tree, drawing his sword. As he had unconsciously expected, he found Maltanaur at his back. For once, he was glad to have the older Elf there. A warrior without someone protecting his blind side would not last long in these close quarters.
“Watch out!” Maltanaur shouted, shoving him aside, and he felt the breeze from an Orc’s scimitar passing over his head.
The battle was over soon after that, for the Elves had done so much damage at the start that the Orcs were forced to break and run. With Todith’s forces around him, Ithilden joined in the chase after those who were fleeing, grimly determined that none of these would ever again trouble the Woodland Realm.
Ithilden returned at last to the battle site to find Todith’s lieutenant, Sórion, already directing the care of the wounded. “How did we fare?” Ithilden asked him.
“Not too badly,” Sórion told him. “Most of the wounds are minor. I think that Maltanaur will probably need to be sent home for a while though. He has a nasty scimitar wound.”
Ithilden turned to find two warriors bending over Maltanaur off to one side where he had not noticed them before. He made his way hastily toward them and dropped to his knees by Maltanaur’s side. He could see immediately what Sórion meant. On Maltanaur’s left shoulder, a gash that was deep enough to touch bone was bleeding copiously. Ithilden remembered the Orc’s sword passing over his head as Maltanaur shouted a warning. He knew as certainly as if he had seen it that Maltanaur had taken a blow meant for him. To his surprise, he found that he was immeasurably touched.
“You fool,” he said in exasperation, as Maltanaur focused on him woozily. “I can take care of myself, you know.”
“You are far better at taking care of others than of yourself, ion,” said Maltanaur faintly. He groaned as the Elf beside him began to bind his wound. Ithilden moved out the way and then stood to look around him.
How could I ever have thought I could be in total control of all this? he wondered suddenly. For all his planning, the scouts had found the Orcs by accident. His warriors had fought well, for they were well trained and well armed. But when he thought of the arrow that had nipped past his ear, he knew that his own survival had been due to fortune as well as skill. Not to mention Maltanaur’s sacrifice on his behalf, he reminded himself. What was true for him was probably true for the others too. For every aspect of the battle he had had power over, there had been another that had happened only by the sweet will of the Valar. He would have to let go of the idea that he could order the whole Realm, he thought, if he was to have energy to order his forces.
“My lord, can you help?” called the Elf tending Maltanaur.
“Yes, I can,” said Ithilden and he turned to help carry the wounded Elf back to camp.
When they arrived, he found Todith seeing to the disposition of the wounded and setting the watches. Ithilden approached him.
“That was well fought,” he said. Todith nodded and said nothing, but Ithilden knew that he valued the praise, for Ithilden did not give it often. “In the morning,” he went on, “I want you to take your patrol and withdraw to a position north of the Dwarf Road. You will continue your hunting from there. Keeping the road open is a lost cause. There are simply too many Orcs for us to continue holding them back. If the road is their target, then they may harry us less if we withdraw north of it and concentrate on protecting the Elves living in that area.”
Todith turned to him in surprise. “Are you sure that is what you want?” he asked cautiously, for he knew that Ithilden had fought bitterly to keep from making this concession, even in the face of strong suggestions from Thranduil that he consider it.
“Yes, I am sure,” Ithilden responded. “Moreover, I have decided that you need to expand the size of the Southern Patrol. You cannot continue fighting with the small number of warriors you have been using.” Todith nodded resignedly. He had known that Ithilden was planning this increase. Ithilden had complete faith that he would adjust the patrol’s style of hunting to its expanded size and use the new warriors well.
“You will not have to deal with a larger force immediately,” Ithilden told him wryly, “for at the moment, I have no idea where I will get the warriors to send you.” Todith smiled at this weak jest but still said nothing. Dredging up more warriors was Ithilden’s problem, not his.
Ithilden looked over to where Sórion was settling Maltanaur for what remained of the night. “Sórion says that Maltanaur will need to go home,” he said.
“Yes,” said Todith. “The wound is deep.”
“My staff and I will take him,” Ithilden told him. “In the morning, we will leave for home. I need to talk to the king about recruitment and training.” He left his captain and went to his own blanket to get what sleep he could before morning. For the first time in what seemed like weeks, he walked the paths of Elven dreams in an unbroken stretch until the sun was high and it was time to prepare to leave for home.
“Tithrandir wants to know when you will be coming to the grove again,” Gelmir informed Eilian. “He wants a rematch but only if you have come to your senses, he says. He claims that no sane Elf would have attempted that last jump you made, so he blames his loss on your temporary lunacy.”
Eilian grinned and guided his horse easily among the trees. He and Gelmir were riding tonight because they had been assigned to patrol an area at the southwest edge of the Home Guard’s territory. Tonight was their last night on this duty. Tomorrow they would return to the tamer daytime patrols along the river.
“Tithrandir may be right,” he said lightly. “But you may tell him that I will not be to the grove any time soon and will not be giving him a rematch at all. I have decided that I value my skin too much.”
Gelmir grunted approvingly. “It is about time.”
Eilian raised an eyebrow at him.
“You know you were being reckless, Eilian,” Gelmir defended himself. “That is what got us both sent home so that we could spend our nights taking these pleasant rides through the woods. Not that I am objecting, mind you. And anyway, I will wager that Celuwen says the same thing.”
“Celuwen does not know about it,” Eilian said promptly. “And I mean to keep it that way. She tends to disapprove if she thinks I am taking unnecessary risks.”
They rode in silence for a few moments. “So are you and Celuwen becoming serious?” Gelmir finally ventured to ask.
Eilian grimaced. “I am not sure,” he answered. Then, unwilling to continue the conversation, he urged his horse a bit ahead. He had spent much of his free time with Celuwen in the last two weeks and had finally admitted to himself that he would like to deepen their friendship into something more. He thought that she would like that too, but, ever careful, she was holding back, keeping him at bay. And he had to acknowledge the wisdom of her caution. Leaving aside his recent actions, which would certainly make her draw back if she knew about them, his goal right now was to return to patrolling in the south of the Realm. Neither of their parents were likely to consent to a match in which he was away most of the time and in such danger. And it would not be fair to Celuwen either, he knew.
Something dark brushed against his consciousness. He stiffened abruptly and looked around, trying to identify what had alarmed him. His horse shifted nervously, sensing his concern. He turned to Gelmir. “Do you feel any danger?” he asked.
Gelmir paused. “No,” he said, “but your instincts are better than mine.”
They both scanned the forest, seeing what they could by the light of the moon and the stars. Eilian noticed for the first time that the trees were uneasy. He slowly focused on the area south of where he and Gelmir had halted. “That way,” he murmured. He hesitated for only a second before leaping lightly to his feet on his horse’s back and then into the trees. He hated to leave the horses to whatever danger was stalking them, but he and Gelmir could move much more quietly through the trees. He knew his friend was right behind him although he could hear nothing. Whatever had alarmed him would hear nothing either.
The two of them moved carefully, bows at the ready, scanning the night dark forest. A sound of breaking twigs came from their left and at the same time, Eilian smelled the unmistakable odor of Orcs. A tiny intake of breath from Gelmir told Eilian that he had smelled it too. They crept toward the source of the noise.
Suddenly a darker shadow emerged from the undergrowth and took on the shape of two Orcs moving cautiously in what they probably assumed was silence. They were heading toward the spot where Eilian and Gemir had left their horses. As one, the two Elves stood erect on the tree branch, drew their bows, and let their arrows fly. Both Orcs stopped suddenly and then crumpled to the ground with arrows in their throats.
Eilian jumped quickly to the ground to make sure they were dead. Then he gestured urgently to Gelmir. “You scout on that side and I will take this one,” he said. “Let us make sure that these two did not have friends hanging about. Meet me by the horses.” They both moved off and scanned the area as carefully as they could. When Eilian emerged from the trees to reclaim his horse, Gelmir was already there.
“Nothing,” Gelmir said, shaking his head. “I think they must have been alone.”
Eilian did not like to admit it even to himself, but he was shaken by finding these two Orcs within the territory of the Home Guard, so close to Thranduil’s stronghold. The settlement where Celuwen lived was actually not far beyond this spot, which meant that the Orcs had probably passed it. At least he hoped they had. He turned anxious eyes in that direction but could sense nothing, and the trees had now returned to their normal, nighttime murmur.
“They were strays then,” he concluded worriedly.
“Or scouts,” Gelmir answered grimly.
Eilian’s breath tightened. He did not like that thought at all. “We should report to Deler right away,” he said. “He can see to it that the Border Patrol checks the area beyond this.” Gelmir nodded, and they both mounted and started home.
Eilian knocked on the door of the cottage belonging to Celuwen’s uncle. “Eilian,” her uncle greeted him when he opened the door, “come in. We are in the sitting room drinking wine and trying to ward off this cold weather. We will have First Snow early this year, I think.” He led Eilian into the sitting room, where a number of Elves from the settlement were gathered, including Celuwen and her mother.
Eilian greeted them, accepted wine from his host, and sat down next to Celuwen, who smiled a welcome at him. There was a moment’s awkward silence and Eilian was suddenly aware that his arrival had interrupted a conversation.
“We were just discussing your adar’s reluctance to send warriors to guard the settlement,” one of the Elves finally said.
Eilian was immediately cautious. He had had the importance of keeping private what he heard at home drummed into him from the time he was Legolas’s size. He took a sip of his wine. “Has the king reached his decision then?” he asked.
The Elves in the room looked at one another. “We were hoping you would know that,” one of them said bluntly.
Eilian shrugged. “My lord does not consult with me about these matters.”
The Elf who had spoken continued to press the subject. Eilian recognized him now as the leader of the delegation. “Thranduil would do well to realize that the presence of Elves in the forest is one of the things keeping our links to it alive. To live there is to answer shadow with light. We cannot all retreat into caves!”
Eilian’s grip on his wine glass tightened, but he answered evenly, “You should tell him that the next time you meet with him.” And that would make for a lively meeting, he thought privately. The Elves in the room looked disappointed at his apparent refusal to take up their cause.
Celuwen rose abruptly. “Eilian and I are going for a walk, Naneth,” she told her mother. Eilian rose too, relieved to be going. He took leave of the gathered Elves, helped Celuwen into her cloak, donned his own cloak and gloves, and stepped out with her into the clear, late autumn night.
“I am sorry, Eilian,” Celuwen apologized. “They should not have tried to use you like that. They are worried or they would not have done so.”
Eilian shrugged. It was by no means the first time someone had tried to take advantage of his position as Thranduil’s son, and it would undoubtedly not be the last. “I am just as happy to have you to myself in any case,” he told her, smiling and putting his arm around her shoulders.
“How is Legolas doing?” she asked.
Eilian sighed. “He is a little better, I think. He still is not eating well though, and he is giving his tutor trouble. And Adar sees only the bad behavior, not the grief behind it. He knows Legolas is sad, and that pains him. He just refuses to see the connection between the two things.”
Celuwen put her hand up to cover his. “Give them both time,” she counseled sympathetically. “Your naneth’s death has to be hardest for them. You and Ithilden are away much of the time, but their daily lives at home still revolved around her.”
Eilian nodded. “I know,” he said. “And in some ways, Adar and Legolas are very close. It will be all right.”
They strolled in silence for a few moments. Then they reached the shadows of a large oak tree, and Eilian turned her so that her back was to it and bent to kiss her. She met his lips willingly enough but then put her hands to his face and pulled away. He found himself looking into her serious eyes.
“Eilian,” she said, “why are you home? Why are you not with your patrol?”
He tried to look away, but her hands kept his face turned to hers.
Finally, reluctantly, he answered, “Ithilden thought that I was becoming too reckless.” He could not lie to her. The chances were she had heard rumors of the truth anyway.
“And were you?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said straightforwardly. “I can see now that he was right. But I think that I can act with more care now. Indeed, I know that I can.” His heart twisted at the pain in her face.
“Promise me you will take care,” she said. “I am too selfish to go further with this if you are going to throw your life away. If I let you closer, I will not be able to bear to lose you.”
“I promise,” he murmured and bent to kiss her again. He nuzzled at her mouth gently first and then more urgently. She parted her lips and he slid his tongue over them to take in the heady taste of her. At that moment, he would have promised her to fly to Mordor and back.
And again, thank you to all reviewers, whether you reviewed at ff.net, storiesofarda.com, or via email. I am shamefully wrapped up in my own story and love hearing other people react to it.
Kay: You are so right. Legolas wants everything to be the same as it once was, but it’s not going to happen. It’s so sad I can hardly bear it and I wrote it myself!
Dragon Confused: I was struck by your comment that nothing is in Legolas’s control. That is so true. His father and brothers at least are able to control some things, but Legolas’s fate and even his day to day activity is in the hands of other people. Poor thing.
Fadesintothewest: Legolas would be hard to live with in some ways right now, I think, especially for people whose own temper is being tested by their grief. It’s really one of the tragedies of this kind of loss that the people who could help him are the very one who have been hurt themselves and so have less help to give than they normally would.
Luin: I adore the picture of you dancing with your parents in a clown costume. And I think that Lorellin’s carelessness impulsiveness did contribute to her death, although no one in her family is going to admit that! Eilian is more like her than he thinks.
Lamiel: I like it that Eilian helps Legolas to heal a little, but Legolas helps him too. He understands his own behavior better when he sees it reflected in his little brother. I think Ithilden sending him home to think about his actions is about the same as Thranduil sending Legolas to the corner to do the same!
StrangeBlaze: Another difference with Celuwen is that she and Eilian are both adults, young adults but adults, whereas Miri and Legolas were still adolescents. And in this chapter, you see where Ithilden was while the dancing was going on.
TigerLily: Turgon cracks me up. He’s like a little savage with good instincts and no guidance. No wonder Thranduil cringes at his approach.
Legolas4me: I picture Thranduil as quite good looking! His sons didn’t get all that charm and looks from nowhere.
Karenator: Legolas’s sweet memories must have been a terrible contrast to the reality of the dancing. And Turgon is a mixed bag, as you say. It would be hard to know what to do about him. I think you’ve said that you son(s) had a friend like Turgon. I know my son did!
TreeHugger: You know, I think if you had asked Legolas if he expected his nana to appear at the dancing, he would have said no. But he remembered how he felt and he wanted to feel that way again, and he was holding on to the hope that he would. Instead, Ada was too sad to dance and Eilian was with an icky girl.
Alice: Per your request, Ithilden is on his way home. And thank you for reminding me that Thranduil is a confident parent in later stories. Note to self: Remember that that’s where you’re trying to get him!
Gwyn: Legolas is so young. I can’t imagine that he’ll ever get over the loss. In a way, it’s easiest for Ithilden and Eilian because they are adults and their mother was no longer part of their daily lives. But Thranduil and Legolas must feel like a giant hole just got ripped through their existence.
Orangeblossom Took5: I think Celuwen would do Eilian a world of good. Does your name mean that there are 4 other Orangeblossom Tooks at ff.net? That seems excessive!
Bluebonnet: Eilian and Legolas are pretty easy with one another, more so than either of them is with their father or Ithilden. Partly that’s Eilians’ easy personality, but also it’s their closeness in age and the fact that neither one of them is an authority figure.
Dot: I like to try to remember that Thranduil is king and has a public life with responsibilities. I wrote myself a long list headed “What Does Thranduil Do All Day?” because I was having trouble picturing him in action as king. And you’re welcome to become as attached to Celuwen as you like! ;-)
JustMe: Clever observation on the timing of a romance for Eilian. ;-) I wish Thranduil would listen to Eilian too, but in the king’s eyes Eilian is the troublesome one and he’s not going to be taking advice from him easily. We need someone that Thranduil trusts more!
EarlGrey: Oh, good to hear from you again. I know people get busy. It’s OK. And cruelly enough, I am glad I made you cry. Legolas did indeed lose it, poor little guy.
Coolio2: Legolas does struggle with the death of his mother. He’s so young. For a kid that age, his mother is his whole world.
Naneth: You were the first reviewer to notice the advent of the “brat” nickname! I was glad. I thought everyone had missed it. I had fun writing about Eilian putting Legolas to bed. He hadn’t done it too often and wasn’t quite polished in his technique. Legolas had to tell him what to do!
Karri: You put your finger on what Legolas needs: a secure relationship with Ada. I’ll have to do something about that.
Caz-baz: Power failures make me crazy. And having my computer gone makes me even crazier!
Erunyauve: Oh that is so good that all the adults would remember Thranduil dancing with his wife and feel sympathetic with him but forget that Legolas would remember it too. It’s like he was just a prop in the scene. But to him, it was a treasured memory of one of the last times he saw his mother.
Brenda G: Eilian did indeed need some time out to think (and Ithilden made sure he had it!). But he’s coming around.
JastaElf: I have vivid memories of trying to put shoes on small children who suddenly had no bones in their feet. Poor little Legolas. All he wanted was the impossible: to have everything be as it once had been.
Jay: Good to have you back from vacation. I hope you had a nice time. Thranduil and Legolas are having the hardest time here. They lived with Lorellin, unlike the older sons, and they needed her.
Feanen: I’m glad you liked the chapter. Thank you for letting me know.
Tapetum Lucidum: Eilian is a romantic guy with a way with the maidens. He might be kind of maddening for anyone who took him on permanently.
Wild Iris: That tree scene is my favorite. It did give Eilian a shock. Ithilden needed someone to slap him with a 2 by 4 too and Maltanaur tried to do it here.
Nilmandra: Thranduil needs to smarten up. We’ll work on him.
Levade: Of all these characters, Thranduil is the hardest for me to keep a handle on. I tend to see him in relationship to his sons, but I need to remember to see him in himself and in his broken relationship with his wife. Nilmandra wrote me a birthday fic about Thranduil and Lorellin that helped me see them both. It’s at Royal Mirkwood Home if you want some happy/sad reading.
Dragon-of-the-North: You must have angered the server gods, but I appreciate your persistence. I think you’re right that Thranduil doesn’t open up or get close to anyone easily, and his relationship with his sons is always going to have that authoritative edge to it that makes real openness unlikely. His wife probably was the only one who got close to him.
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