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Interrupted Journeys: Part Three--Journeys Begin

Chapter 1: Prologue: A Special Day

by ellisk

AN: This is a continuation of a series of stories titled Interrupted Journeys. Part One (New Journeys) and Part Two (Journeys Perforce) have already been posted. It should not be necessary to read those parts of the series to understand this story, though you might understand the characters a bit better if you did. The series as a whole covers a lot of ground: Thranduil's first years as king, his decision to move his people north to the stronghold, the birth of Legolas and his youth all the way to their journeys to Valinor in the Fourth Age. Some parts may be more interesting to some people than others.

This part is the most complex of the series thus far. It revolves around new additions to Thranduil's family. The prologue is set in Third Age 1946. The first chapter of the story is set in Third Age 1939 and the story fills in that period of time.

Any Sindarin used is translated at the end of each chapter. I am not an elf so if you see something incorrect please tell me and I will fix it.

I hope you enjoy this part of Interrupted Journeys.

*~*~*

Third Age 1946

Thranduil and his council were in the king’s office engrossed in the day’s business when the latch on the heavy wooden door clicked. The door slowly and quietly swung open the slightest bit. Thranduil frowned and turned his eyes to the back of the room, waiting for the guard to announce the reason for the interruption.

Instead, he saw the guard’s hand hurriedly grasp the handle to close the door. At the same moment he heard a breathless and obviously dismayed feminine voice cry out, “You come here this minute!”

Thranduil looked down as a small figure eluded both the guard and the elleth pursuing him. He ducked through the narrow opening in the doorway to look at the king with slightly guilty but excited eyes.

“Ada, is it time yet?” he asked in a soft voice.

Thranduil’s frown melted to an indulgent smile at the sight of his son as the elleth and guard reached to pull the elfling from the room.

“I beg your pardon, your majesty,” the elleth said, taking the child’s hand. He promptly twisted free, eliciting an angry exclamation from the elleth. She took a step into the office to recapture her charge more securely.

Thranduil chuckled softly. “Let him come in Seidreth,” he said. The elfling’s face lit with a bright smile and he ran to the king’s outstretched arms to be whisked from the floor and into his father’s lap. “We are almost done here and it is past time for lunch.”

“I knew it was,” the elfling said firmly, scowling with a betrayed look at his nanny.

Siedreth crossed her arms over her chest. “Lunch is served when the king is ready for it, not when elflings dictate,” she replied sternly.

The child frowned defiantly but snuggled his face against his father’s soft dress robes. “But today is my Begetting Day. Lunch is special today,” he said sulkily.

Thranduil turned his son to face him with a finger under his chin. “Pouting is unbecoming, ion nin. And you must obey Seidreth. Obeying her does not include running away from her when she tells you to stop.”

“Or when I tell you not to go into the king’s office uninvited,” Seidreth added irritably.

The child looked down. “I am sorry,” he said quietly.

Thranduil kissed his son’s head. “I will forgive you this once. I seem to recall that Begetting Days are cause for excitement. Manners and rules are easily forgotten on such occasions.”

Thranduil heard his mother attempt to stifle an amused snort. He winked at her.

One side of Seidreth’s mouth turned down disapprovingly. She sighed and then looked resignedly at the king. “Shall I take him to the garden until you are ready, my lord?” she asked, taking a few steps forward.

Small arms tightened around the king’s waist.

“No, Seidreth. He can stay. We are finished here. I will look after him for the rest of the day.”

Seidreth stopped and sighed again. “Do consider trying to puts shoes on the child before you take him outdoors, my lord,” she said tiredly. “By your leave,” she added with a brief curtsy. Thranduil nodded and she turned and left the room.

The council dissolved into light laughter as the door to the office closed. Thranduil’s laughter rose above the rest.

Dieneryn, Thranduil’s mother, looked at her son knowingly, eyes shining. “Laugh now, ada,” she said, taking obvious pleasure in the form of address. “When your son runs wild through the forest without a thought for your discipline, you will rue days such as this one.”

Thranduil rolled his eyes but his retort was cut off when Hallion, his steward, reached over and plucked the child in question from the king’s lap. The elfling giggled happily. Hallion was one of his favorite ‘uncles.’

“Legolas is a wonderful child. You would never misbehave, would you?” Hallion asked this while raising Legolas swiftly over his head with his hands around his waist.

Legolas squealed and clutched at Hallion, grabbing anything he could reach in this precarious position. His hands finally landed in Hallion’s hair and he twined the steward’s braids around his fingers. “No, Lord Hallion,” he gasped, still giggling wildly. “I will behave.”

Hallion settled the elfling on his lap. “I thought so,” he said, smiling. Then he looked at Thranduil, mischief glinting in his eyes, and wrapped both arms around Legolas possessively. “I am sorry, my lord. I think I am keeping this little treasure for myself.”

Thranduil laughed and shook his head. “I am afraid I cannot let you do that. I have grown rather fond of him myself.”

Legolas looked between the adults with bright eyes. “We are all family,” he said, his tone making it plain that he thought Hallion and his father were very silly.

“Indeed we are, ion nin,” Thranduil replied, smiling. “And it is time for our family to go celebrate your Begetting Day.” With that, Thranduil stood and took Legolas from Hallion. The rest of his council rose to their feet along with the king. “I will see you all shortly in the garden, I trust,” he said, dismissing them. They left, smiling at father and son with varying degrees of amusement.

Only Hallion stayed behind, now looking at Thranduil seriously. “Unfortunately, my lord, you must finish the correspondence the courier is waiting for,” he said quietly.

Thranduil heard Legolas groan softly. Looking down at his son in his arms, Thranduil saw his face had fallen, though he did not give any further voice to his disappointment. When he was still an infant Legolas had learned that when Hallion said work must be done, it would be done. Cajoling his father to abandon it was futile and only led to trouble.

Thranduil rubbed his son’s back soothingly. “This will only take a moment, ion nin.”

Legolas’ expression did not change. He had often seen ‘a moment’ turn into hours.

Hallion smiled at Legolas and picked up a quill from the king’s desk, tickling the child’s nose with its feathery tip. “Do you want to write something too while your adar is composing his letter, Legolas?” he offered. Writing was still a novel activity to the elfling.

Thranduil opened his mouth to protest—Hallion had his favorite eagle feather quill in his hand and was offering it to Legolas. Little fingers moved from where they clutched Thranduil’s silk dress robes and closed around the delicate writing instrument. The complaint died on Thranduil’s lips when he saw the delighted look had returned to his son’s face.

“I can write all my letters and my name by myself now. Do you want to see, Lord Hallion?”

“Of course I do. And I will show you how to write your adar’s name as well. Then you can help him with his correspondence in the future.”

Thranduil scowled, imagining the potential for mischief in that suggestion, and looked at his steward with a slightly raised eyebrow but Legolas only laughed. He sat his son down in a chair in front of his desk before seating himself behind it and watched for a moment as Hallion pulled out a scrap of paper for Legolas to write on. Standing in the chair to reach the ink, the child quickly dipped the quill in the inkwell on his father’s desk. He began to carefully draw the runes that formed his name, his face the very picture of intent concentration. He was becoming quite good at writing his name. He no longer used too much ink or pressed too hard with the quill or tried to make too many letters too quickly at once.

“You are not writing, ada,” Legolas reminded his father imperiously without looking up from his own work.

Thranduil loosed a short laugh. “Forgive me, ion nin,” he said with some sarcasm.

Legolas still did not look up but he did raise his eyebrows. “Sarcasm is not becoming, ada,” he said seriously. That was a lesson Legolas had heard a few days earlier.

Hallion turned his head to hide his reaction to Legolas’ impertinence. Thranduil suppressed a laugh himself, shook his head and picked up a quill. As he finished his letter, he heard Hallion praising Legolas’ work and encouraging him to write other simple words. By the time the king was finished, the entire sheet of paper was filled with the names of nearly everyone in the family, of Legolas’ favorite animals and long rows of L’s. Thranduil smiled as he reached for his seal and wax.

“Can I put the seal in the wax, ada?” Legolas asked, leaning across the desk to seize the seal from his father’s hand.

Thranduil laughed. “Do not grab things,” he admonished though not very sternly. He did relinquish the seal. “Let me help you,” he said, putting his hand over the small fist that clutched the royal seal.

When the seal was set, Legolas bent closer to it. “I like beech trees better, ada,” he declared, glaring at the oak tree imprinted in the wax. “Can you make a seal with a beech tree on it?”

Thranduil smiled and pried the seal from his son’s hands, locking it in a drawer in his desk. “I like the beeches too, ion nin. But, no, I cannot change this seal. Your daeradar designed this device and he liked oak trees.”

Legolas straightened, still standing in the chair, and looked at his father frowning slightly. “Well, that does not make sense at all. Part of daeradar’s name means ‘beech.’ He must have liked beech trees.”

Thranduil tried not to laugh at his son’s serious expression. “I imagine he did, ion nin. But oak trees were very special to him. They reminded him of the land he came from and his family. I will tell you a story about that tonight at bedtime if you like.”

Legolas nodded vigorously in response to that offer. The stories Thranduil told or read in the evenings were his favorite activity of the day.

Thranduil smiled at his son’s enthusiasm. “Very well. Do you want to go to the garden now for lunch? I think I heard the cooks saying that they were making berry tarts.”

Legolas’ eyes lit up and he jumped down from the chair.

Thranduil stood as well, smiling his thanks at Hallion for his efforts to entertain Legolas. “Would you tell the family we are ready for lunch? I will take Legolas to the garden and wait for you there.”

Hallion nodded. “Shall I bring shoes, my lord?” he asked, looking pointedly at Legolas’ bare feet.

“No, ada,” the child begged, turning pleading eyes to his father.

Thranduil scooped his son from the floor. “I do not think your Begetting Day would be nearly as enjoyable if you hurt yourself stepping on something sharp or thorny in the garden. Therefore, Lord Hallion is going to bring shoes and you are going to wear them. No complaints if you want those berry tarts.” Thranduil nodded at his steward, giving him permission to leave, as Legolas strove as well as a child could to control his pouting expression. He wriggled from his father’s arms and walked slowly towards the office door following Hallion.

Thranduil carefully folded the paper Legolas had filled with writing and put it in his desk. Then he looked at his son standing by the door waiting for him.

“Come here, Legolas,” he said quietly.

Legolas’ expression grew instantly concerned. “I tried not to pout, ada. But I like the way the grass feels in the garden and shoes ruin that,” he said nervously, obviously anticipating a scolding.

Thranduil smiled. Dropping to one knee, he held out his arms. “Come here,” he repeated.

Legolas studied his father for a moment before trotting over to him. Thranduil kissed him on the head and lifted him up. “I know you dislike shoes but I do not like seeing you hurt. And I see that you tried not to pout. You are disappointed and I understand that. Do you promise to wear the shoes without making a fuss?”

Legolas nodded, looking down. “Yes, ada. I will wear them.”

Thranduil placed another kiss on his son’s head. “Then I will show you a secret in honor of your fifth Begetting Day. But only if you promise that you can keep it a secret. You cannot tell anyone that is not part of our family. Can you keep a secret, Legolas?”

The elfling’s eyes shone. “I can keep a secret, ada,” he replied quickly.

“Then I will show you.” Thranduil carried his son behind the tapestry hanging behind his desk. Without saying a word, he laid his hand on the stone wall. Legolas gasped audibly and his eyes flashed to his father’s when the wall swung open.

“It is a secret door,” he whispered.

Thranduil had told Legolas stories of palaces in ancient times with secret doors and magical spells defended by powerful kings. He was still too young to really grasp that his father was a king who ruled a palace whose doors closed with a magic spell. But he had been in his father’s office thousands of times—he had played behind that tapestry many times—and he had never seen that door. His eyes were filled with awe.

Thranduil laughed lightly at his son’s wonder and he stepped through the door. Legolas’ eyes widened further.

“Nana’s garden!” he exclaimed, squirming again from his father’s arms and running towards the beech tree in its center. This garden, planted on a level ledge on the side of the mountain stronghold and accessible only from doors in the family quarters, was Legolas’ favorite place in all the world known to him. Until now, he had only entered it from a door in the family sitting room. This secret door in his father’s office was all the more special since it led to this wonderful place.

Thranduil loved the garden as well. Its character unmistakably reflected his wife’s tastes, as well it should since she had originally planted it. The garden was the king’s refuge—a peaceful, bright place of beautiful green trees, flowering plants and treasured memories where no one outside his family could disturb him. Since Legolas’ Naming Day, the family gathered in this garden to celebrate important family events, including the children’s Begetting Days. The beech tree that Legolas was happily climbing had witnessed many happy moments in the king’s life since he moved to the stronghold.

“That is far enough,” Thranduil called, swinging into the tree himself. It whispered a welcome to both he and his son and Thranduil watched as Legolas paused to pat its trunk in response. Thranduil had no doubt the tree would never let his son fall and that Legolas, young as he may be, was more than capable of climbing safely. Still, his heart leapt to his throat each time he saw Legolas scaling effortlessly from branch to branch into its heights.

The elfling climbed a little further—as much as he dared before he knew his failure to comply would earn a firmer reprimand—and then he straddled a branch and sat with his back against the trunk, waiting for his father to reach an equal height in the tree.

“I am not so high, ada,” he said in a reproving tone when Thranduil sat in a branch next to him.

Thranduil laughed. “Perhaps not. But we are here to eat, not climb trees. The servants cannot bring our food into the branches.”

Legolas leaned back and closed his eyes, drawing a deep breath. “Why not?” he muttered. “I love Spring,” he continued in a stronger voice. Then he opened his eyes, looking excitedly at his father. “Ada, is the Spring Festival soon?”

Thranduil smiled. “You know it is always a few days after your Begetting Day.”

“Is Uncle Aradunnon going to be back in time for it?”

“Possibly. I am expecting a letter from him soon.”

Legolas closed his eyes again. “I hope he comes,” he said softly. “It will not be the same without him and Galithil and Dolgailon.”

“Your uncle is managing a very serious situation for me, ion nin. Otherwise he would be here today. He will come for the Spring Festival if it is at all possible.”

Legolas nodded absently. He was accustomed to that explanation. “If he cannot come, can we go visit him, ada? We have never gone to his village.”

Thranduil frowned at that. How did he explain to his young son that he thought the village where his beloved uncle lived much of the year was too dangerous to visit? Thranduil remembered all too well the events in his childhood that had so violently robbed him of his innocence—the murder of Elu Thingol by dwarves and the attacks on Menegroth first by dwarves and then elves. Thranduil was only forty when Elu Thingol died. He was not yet of age when he fled Menegroth in his mother’s care, through the bloody halls strewn with the bodies of his slain kin, leaving his father behind in the fighting.

Legolas was only five. Thranduil had been persuaded to have this child in such dangerous times only with great reluctance, though now he was inordinately thankful to have him. In his mind, the elfling had already seen far too much. Thranduil fully intended to protect his son’s innocence as much as possible for as long as he could. He did not want to explain the perils of the southern part of the realm.

Fortunately, he was spared that task by the arrival of a surprise that made both Legolas and Thranduil rush to descend the tree.

*~*~*

Elleth--Female elf

Adar/ada--Father/dad

Ion nin--My son

Daeradar--Grandfather (Thanks to the folks that coined this term. It wasn't me--I saw it first in Bodkin and Nilmandra's stories and I hear others use it. I am stealing it here because I've seen it so much it seems like canon to me. I hope no one minds.)

Naneth/nana--Mother/mum

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Prologue: A Special Day
Created
29 Jan 2005
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29 Jan 2005
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