If someone was to stand in the clearing in the middle of the forest, they could be forgiven for believing they were the only person in existence. The peaceful silence that spread throughout the area was so very different to the constant hubbub present in any house or palace halls.
If someone turned to their left and looked beyond the trees, they would see the river flowing swiftly and birds soaring gleefully in the heat of the day. Or if they looked to the right instead, they would see the shadow of the mountains and they would feel the cool breeze flowing down around them, making their long, blond hair flutter gently about their shoulders.
If, however, that someone was to look upwards into the trees, if they looked far enough, and at just the right angle, they would see the bottom of a pathway lining the canopy, one made by Wood Elves centuries ago. And if this certain someone was lucky enough to glance up at just the right time, they may even see the back of an elfling as he disappeared into the leaves, scampering away out of sight as silently as his young feet would take him.
Lord Thranduil, my king and beloved husband, apparently was not that lucky.
He stood motionless in the clearing, listening for any sound that did not belong, searching for any sign of movement that should be hidden. He remained so still that only the hint that there stood a living, breathing elf, and not merely a statue, was an occasional flutter of his hair in the breeze.
My husband jumped in suitable surprise when, with a rustling of leaves and a sudden thump, something came barrelling out of the trees and jumped onto him. Thranduil fell to his knees in mock surrender as he found himself with an armful of victorious, giggling elfling.
“I – caught – you – Ada!” Legolas managed to say in between gasps. “I caught you before you could see me!”
Thranduil smiled gracefully at Legolas after sending me a surreptitious wink. “That you did,” he replied, bringing a fresh laugh of triumph from my son.
I knew that wink – of course he had heard Legolas in the trees. Thranduil had been a soldier for all of his adult life, only taking a step back once he became king, so there was no chance he had not heard Legolas. But, like the loving and encouraging father he was, he would never deny Legolas his victory.
Legolas pushed as hard as he could on his father’s shoulders, pushing him down flat on the ground. Legolas jumped on top of Thranduil and started tickling him, revenge for an earlier encounter between the two.
“And I will never let you go,” Legolas concluded in glee.
Thranduil lay on his back a few moments longer, seemingly defeated and unable to move, as Legolas continued tickling him. Then, with an almighty effort, he grasped Legolas on either side of his body and lifted him into the air above him. The full length of Thranduil’s arms made it impossible for Legolas to reach him, suspended in the air as he was, and the giggles stopped straightaway.
“Not fair, Ada, not fair!” Legolas pouted as he tried to wriggle out of his father’s grip.
Then it was my husband’s turn to laugh. Gently of course, for he did not want to upset Legolas, but the look of disbelief on Legolas’ face as the tables were so suddenly turned on him was far too adorable to ignore.
Thranduil continued holding Legolas up a few minutes more, before gently drawing him close and standing up in one steady, graceful action. “You did so well this time, my son. Next time, I think we will take you somewhere there are no pathways and see how quietly you can climb through just the trees alone.”
Legolas’ face grew serious as he considered his father’s words. His face brightened again when he remembered something else his father had told him. “Does that mean I can start archery lessons now?” he asked.
Thranduil smiled patiently. “I believe I said you could start archery once you had completed all the lessons on stealth and hiding in the trees, not simply when you began a stage of training.”
I could see that Legolas was about to pout again and, not wanting to spoil the joyful mood of the afternoon, I decided to interrupt. “Legolas, have you sung that new song to your father?”
Legolas grinned eagerly, his disappointment instantly forgotten. “Ada! I have learnt a new song. Maethon taught it to me. Do you want to hear it?”
Thranduil smiled in return and carefully lowered him to the ground. “Sing it for me then,” he requested.
Legolas took a deep breath and launched into the song. Thranduil looked down at him in pride as he sang the first verse and half of the chorus. Exchanging a glance with me, Thranduil opened his mouth and joined in the second half of the chorus. Legolas’ eyes widened in surprise as he realised his father also knew the song and he sang with even more gusto. Legolas’ young voice brilliantly complemented Thranduil’s deeper, more mature voice.
It was a balm to my soul, seeing my two beloveds as happy as this. Thranduil had shed the trappings of kingship, and was dressed in a hunting tunic and leggings, an adult version of Legolas’ clothing. All thoughts of Orcs and Spiders and other dark creatures had been banished. He had cast the robes of his office, and the worries of his role, aside to become the loving husband and father I had married all those centuries ago. His smile, the first thing that attracted me to him, was back and the shadows that haunted his eyes had receded. It was beautiful to watch.
As dark storm clouds began rolling in, Thranduil took Legolas’ hand to lead him home before any rain came, neither of them pausing in their singing. I stayed behind a moment longer, watching as they walked off, eager to delay the return to our “official” lives as long as possible.
I rested a hand on my stomach. In another year or two, Thranduil and I had agreed, we would have another child and make our family complete. I sighed in contentment, a daughter would complete my life I knew. Right now however, I had a husband and a son to love, and they were all I could ask for.
I hurried after them. Who knew what trouble they would get into without me!