From the balcony, Thranduil glared at their new neighbour so intensely and for so long that Legolas grew uneasy. Even Tilda and Sigrid appeared concerned. Legolas had just stretched out a hand towards his father when Elrond spoke.
“Legolas? Is that you? You have grown so much!”
Legolas looked around in confusion. As far as he knew, he had never seen Elrond Peredhel before.
“You met him once when your mother took you to the hospital where they worked,” Thranduil said stiffly, in response to Legolas’ unasked question.
Legolas took a closer look at Elrond. The Peredhil elf looked younger than Legolas expected, and his voice sounded deep and calming. He didn’t seem anything like the demented, tyrannical elf Thranduil portrayed him as. Elrond stared hopefully back at Legolas, his eyes pleading Legolas to accept his words as an olive branch, and not to reject him how Thranduil would.
Legolas felt his heart sink. Friendship with the Peredhel family could mean a friendship with Aragorn which despite only one brief interaction was something he desperately wanted. However, he was his father’s son, and no matter how strained things were between them, he knew where his loyalties had to lie. He turned his back on Elrond – and possibly Aragorn – and returned to his room.
Sitting on his bed, he could hear his father’s angry voice, the deep tones of Elrond’s voice and an occasional interjection from Bard, but not their words. It didn’t matter though since just after they stopped, someone knocked on his door and Tilda and Sigrid entered the room.
Sigrid looked around curiously; this was the first time she had been in Legolas’ room since the families moved in together. Her gaze stopped on a framed picture of a female elf on Legolas’ bedside table.
“Is this your mother?” she asked.
“She looks beautiful.”
Legolas smiled uncertainly, wary of Sigrid suddenly being civil to him. “Thank you.”
Tilda sat down on the bed next to him, eager to tell him everything. Between them, the girls described what happened after Legolas left.
Elrond – or Mr Peredhel as they called him, not knowing he was a healer – had apparently invited everyone over that night for a barbecue. He said it would be a good opportunity for the two families to get acquainted and, in Thranduil’s case, a chance for a fresh start.
Thranduil had responded immediately, using words that both Sigrid and Tilda found too embarrassing to repeat. He said no one from his family would ever set foot on Elrond’s property, and Elrond’s family was to stay well away from them. That apparently was when their Da intervened. Following a heated discussion between the two, Thranduil conceded Bard and his children could do as they wished, however Thranduil and Legolas would go nowhere near them. After that, Thranduil left the balcony with an apologetic Bard following soon after.
Legolas sighed. Of course he was the only one not allowed to go! “Are you going to go then?” he asked the girls.
Sigrid blushed immediately.
“We want to,” Tilda answered for her. “Although I don’t know if Bain will go.” She glanced at her older sister and gave a wicked grin. “Sigrid’s in love!”
“W-what? No! I am not!” Sigrid spluttered, going even redder.
Tilda giggled at her reaction. “I saw the way you looked at the twins. You like them!”
Sigrid looked downwards, too embarrassed to face either Legolas or her sister. Eventually she looked up shyly at Legolas. “You know the family. Is there anything you can tell me about them?” She pictured Elrohir’s cheeky wink in her head and compulsively smiled.
Legolas hid a smirk – so that’s what had brought Sigrid to his room. He took a breath, trying to think of something interesting to tell her. “How about that they’re part human?”
“Human? No way!” Sigrid exclaimed. “They look like elves, not humans.”
Legolas nodded. “Dr Peredhel is half-human, which makes them part human.”
“What about their Ma, is she an elf, where is she?” Sigrid gushed the questions out in one long breath.
Where was she indeed, Legolas thought to himself. His gaze shifted to the photo of his mother. Thinking of Mrs Peredhel took his memories back to The Day The Police Came…
Seven Years Earlier
Legolas knelt on the lounge looking out the front window waiting for Mrs Peredhel’s car to come up the driveway. His father had been in his office catching up with paperwork most of the afternoon, so there was no one to tell him off for not sitting correctly. To get a better view, he leant against the back of the lounge, rather than sitting down. The tops of his feet beat out a repetitive rhythm on the seat as he stared out the window.
As time passed, his enthusiasm dipped. It seemed he had been waiting for hours – Why isn’t Nana home yet? – and his head started to droop a little, his feet only moving every so often.
Each time a car came near their gate, his head would shoot up hopefully as he looked for Mrs Peredhel’s car. He caught his breath when, finally, a car turned onto their driveway. His brow furrowed when he realised it was a police car and not the car for which he was waiting.
With a look of confusion crossing his face, Legolas turned to the doorway of the hallway that led to his father’s office, but decided not to say anything. Looking back to the window, he saw two police officers get out of the car. His eyes widened when he saw one of them holding his mother’s backpack. He tilted his head to get a better view of the back doors of the car, expecting to find his mother. When he realised there was no one else in the car, he turned away from the window again.
Thranduil ran out of his office, alarmed by Legolas’ tone of voice, and the first thing he saw was Legolas kneeling on the lounge. He opened his mouth to reprimand him but stopped at a knock on the door. Legolas looked at him meaningfully. Thranduil turned away from Legolas and opened the door.
Two police officers stood there; one a male human, the other a female elf. Thranduil saw straight away what the man was holding. He looked back at Legolas, his face going pale.
“Thranduil Oropherion?” the human asked.
“We need to speak to you. May we come in?”
“Of course.” Thranduil ushered them through the door.
The police officers stood in the lounge room and both of them looked over at Legolas. The female elf police officer walked to Legolas and smiled. “What is your name, young man?”
Legolas looked questioningly at his father who nodded. He climbed off the lounge, stood in front of her and extended his hand, introducing himself how Thranduil had taught him.
“My name is Legolas Thranduilion,” he told her.
“Well met Legolas, my name is Elenwë,” she replied, shaking his hand. She smiled at Legolas again then turned expectantly to her partner.
“Mr Oropherion, is there somewhere we can talk?” the man responded with a pointed glance.
Thranduil took a deep breath and directed the officer to his office. He came to an abrupt halt when Legolas followed them.
The female officer spoke, having spied a pile of Legolas’ toys in the corner. “Legolas?” She waited until Legolas turned to her before continuing, pointing at the toys. “Can you show me what you are making?”
Legolas glanced back at his father who gave him a reassuring smile. Thranduil and the other police officer waited until Legolas and Elenwë had settled down to play before leaving the room.
His father and the police officer stayed in the office for ages and when they came back to the lounge room, the human was no longer carrying his mother’s backpack. His father seemed to have been crying. Legolas ignored what the lady was saying and ran over to him.
“Ada, why did that man have Naneth’s bag?” he asked in Sindarin. He knew he wasn’t supposed to interrupt when adults were talking, but he had to know.
“Legolas!” his father snapped. “Speak Westron when we have company present!”
Elenwë came over to Legolas and ushered him back to the lounge.
Legolas was close to tears, everything was so strange! He had never seen his father like this: his eyes reddened, his shoulders slumped. He even looked smaller somehow.
“Legolas, we are leaving now but your father needs to tell you something important,” the officer said. “You need to be very brave and listen carefully to everything he is going to tell you. Okay?”
Legolas nodded but didn’t look at her or the other one. His eyes were fixed firmly on his father.
He watched his father let the officers out, reply solemnly to their parting words and come back to Legolas. As his father knelt on the floor in front of him, he saw a chilling expression on his face.
Legolas became really scared.
Thranduil opened his mouth to speak, but didn’t say anything. He looked down at the ground, his eyes welling with tears.
“Ada? What’s happening?” Legolas asked.
When Thranduil finally managed to speak, Legolas shook his head wildly in denial. No! That can’t be true!
He vaguely heard his father talk about Dr Peredhel turning up, and lots of cars, and Mrs Peredhel not stopping in time, and his mother being hurt, and ambulances not getting there soon enough, and Mrs Peredhel being in hospital, and, and…
Legolas stood and tried to push his father away. “No, Ada, no!” he practically whined before letting his anger through. “Stop saying that! Why are you being so mean? You’re always being mean to Naneth!”
Thranduil placed his hands on Legolas’ shoulders and lowered him firmly but gently back down. He took a breath and tried again.
“Legolas, I’m not being mean. Your mother…”
Legolas covered his ears in an attempt to drown out his father’s voice, frantically murmuring “no, no, no” over and over again. His mother had promised him she was coming back! His mother was going to bring him a present! She couldn’t not come back! Tomorrow they were going shopping for new archery stuff for him. They were going to do so many things. She promised!
In a sudden burst of energy, Legolas pushed past his father and ran to his bedroom. His mother was coming back – she wouldn’t leave him, no matter what his father said – so he would wait for her in his room, away from Ada, away from those mean words. He ignored his father calling out to him.
Legolas stood in the doorway, shifting impatiently from one foot to another. He itched to do something, but now he was here he didn’t know what.
He looked at his dirty clothes scattered across the floor. Nana was always pestering him to tidy up his room. Perhaps if he cleaned up, she would come home sooner. Legolas took several goes to pick up the clothes as some of the smaller items kept falling through his arms. As he walked towards the clothes basket, some socks fell to the floor again. He dumped the clothes he was holding into the basket and went back for the fallen items. He picked them up and impatiently threw them at the basket. One of the socks missed. Legolas muttered angrily to himself, snatched it up and slammed it down on the top of the other clothes.
He looked around and saw his bed was still unmade. His mother would want him to make his bed, just like a good boy. He walked over and pulled up the bed covers. Still angry with his father, and upset from the socks not going in the basket, Legolas yanked on the covers with too much force and pulled them up too far. Looking to his right, he saw the bottom of his mattress was showing and he cried out in frustration. He stormed to the end of his bed to pull the covers back down but stubbed his toes on a toy lying on the floor.
Nearing the end of his patience, he kicked the toy out of the way, only to hurt his toes even more. Everything became too much for him and he lost his temper completely. He picked the offending toy up and threw it at the other side of his room. He grabbed his bed covers and dragged them onto the floor, stomping on them for good measure. Turning to his other toys, he picked them up and tossed them towards the same corner as the first toy.
The sound of something breaking stopped him for a moment and he looked up, expecting his father to tell him off for making so much noise. Thranduil had told him off so many times for making noise when he was playing with his toys that it caused yet another argument between his parents.
His mother had argued that as Legolas was transferring to a human school, he needed to learn to play like a human child to be able to interact with them easier. Thranduil insisted toys were simply an indulgence, and his son did not require such things. His mother won the argument, as she did most of the ones relating to Legolas, but it never altered his father’s disdain for him playing like a human child.
Legolas looked towards the door and nearly felt disappointed that no one was there. He picked up another toy, one that would make a loud noise when it hit the floor, and deliberately threw it as hard as he could. He looked at the door again; still no Ada. Suddenly angry again, he picked up another toy and threw it onto the growing pile in the corner.
On and on he went, throwing anything he could until his arms were so tired he could barely lift them. With one final scream of frustration, he threw himself across the bed and sobbed for his mother until he finally, mercifully, fell asleep…
Legolas snapped out of his recollections as Tilda called his name. He realised tears had formed in his eyes and he hastily wiped them away. He glanced quickly at Sigrid, expecting to see her mocking him, but surprisingly found a sympathetic expression on her face. Legolas looked at Amdirwen’s picture again and sighed.
He’d heard later that Mrs Peredhel returned to the hospital and stayed in a special ward for a long time. Not because she was hurt in the accident, but due to depression. She hadn’t coped with the loss of her friend and refused to take care of herself or the children. Her husband tried everything he could but she wouldn’t respond to him, she wouldn’t even look at him.
Their daughter was too young to understand what was happening and had started to act out. Elladan and Elrohir had their own anger management issues coping with the changes in their mother, but at least they had each other to keep themselves sane. Elrond realised he had been spending too much time trying to help Celebrían and not enough with Arwen. He sent her to stay with Celebrían’s parents for a while, his own parents being long gone. No one talked about the human foster child, so Legolas knew nothing of him or how he dealt with the situation.
Then one day, Elrond arrived at the hospital to find Celebrían gone. She had forged Elrond’s signature on some documents, had herself discharged from the hospital and just disappeared. No one ever found out where she went.
“Yes, she is an elf, but she left a long time ago. I’m not really sure where she is,” Legolas finally replied.
A phone rang somewhere in the house and the three of them turned to listen. Bain had “borrowed” his father’s mobile phone and changed its ringtone to match the house phone so many times that Bard had given up changing it back. Now when the phone rang, no one ever knew if it was Bard’s phone or not. When no one called for them, they resumed their conversation.
“Have you met Elrohir and Elladan? What are they like?” Sigrid finally asked what she truly wanted to know.
Legolas thought about appearing to think about it and leaving her in suspense for a few minutes, but decided not to. He shook his head. “No, I haven’t met them so I don’t really know anything.” He paused a moment. “Elladan is the older one though.”
Sigrid smiled, happy with any information she could get. She thought of Elrohir’s wink again. He was a middle child, just like her.
Someone knocked at the door and when no one entered, Legolas called out “Come in” with a puzzled look on his face. Bain would never come to his room, his father would barge straight in without knocking, and Tilda was already there.
Bard opened the door and stood in the doorway looking at them all with a vague smile on his face. He held his phone in his hand.
“Legolas, that was the Club. I have to go in early to take some extra junior classes, so if you want a lift this early, you’ll need to be ready in half an hour.”
“Okay, thanks,” Legolas replied and stood up to get his things ready.
Bard looked at his daughters and gestured. “Come on you two, give him some privacy.”
Tilda looked at Legolas, standing there, already prepared for his shower and jumped off his bed. “See ya Legolas!” She left the room.
Sigrid followed straight after her. She looked back at Legolas but said nothing as she left.
Bard watched her go. “Everything okay? Was she giving you a hard time?” he asked Legolas.
Legolas shook his head. “No, she was just after some information on the twins and thought I would know something.”
Bard watched him a moment longer before nodding. “All right then, I’ll leave you to it. I’ll meet you at the car.” He closed the door behind him as he left.
Once he was alone, Legolas wasted no time getting ready. When the families first moved in together, Bain often teased Legolas about his hair. He said Legolas was so fussy about his hair that he took longer to get dressed than both girls put together. As if to spite him, Legolas usually ended up being the quickest of all of them to get ready. Years of braiding his hair had left Legolas so proficient at it that he could style it with his eyes shut.
Bard smirked when he got to the car and saw Legolas already waiting. He dumped his stuff in the car on top of Legolas’, got in the car and inserted the keys into the ignition.
Instead of starting the car, he turned to Legolas. “Did you say goodbye to your father?”
Legolas stared straight in front of him, keeping his expression neutral. “No.”
Bard nodded, not at all surprised. “I think you should. He’s a bit out of sorts at the moment. He’d appreciate it if you went and spoke to him.”
Legolas scoffed and shook his head. “He’s always ‘out of sorts’ with me. He wouldn’t care if I’m here or not.”
“That’s not true, Legolas. He cares very much about you,” Bard replied.
Legolas folded his arms across his chest and prepared to not say another word. Bard sighed in frustration. He verged on commenting on the stubbornness of elves, but knew it would not achieve anything. He didn’t know who was worse, Thranduil or Legolas. Thranduil, he supposed, since he was old enough to know better.
“I want you to go and speak to him,” Bard eventually said.
Legolas looked at him, irritation creeping in. Who was Bard to tell him what to do? He’d never bossed Legolas around before; there was no need to, not when his father was so good at it.
In response, Bard took the keys out of the ignition. “I’ll wait here while you talk to him.”
Legolas glanced at the back seat of the car, considering grabbing his stuff and walking to the club instead. Anything to get away from this conversation. Unfortunately, he would have to move Bard’s gear first, which prevented a quick getaway.
“Fine,” he muttered. He got out of the car, nearly slamming the door behind him, and headed to the master bedroom.
When he got to their room, he stopped in dismay, a chill running through him. His father was seated on the end of the bed, turning Amdirwen’s wedding ring over and over. The blank, dull and lifeless look on his face was one Legolas had grown very familiar with over the months following his mother’s death. It meant Thranduil was once more lost in grief, and no one could get through to him. Not even Legolas.
Especially not Legolas.
Despite Legolas’ annoyance with Bard for sending him here, Legolas felt a flush of anger on his behalf. His father was supposed to have moved on. He had remarried, found himself a new family, he was even sitting on the bed he shared with his new husband. What gave him the right to be lost in his grief for Amdirwen again?
After crying himself to sleep That Day, Legolas had slept so long it was dark when he awoke. He couldn’t hear anything from his father. Entering the hallway, Legolas was about to go to his father’s office, when he noticed Thranduil was still in the lounge room. In fact, he was kneeling in same place where Legolas left him. The deadness in his face made Legolas wonder if his father had even noticed he was gone.
It wasn’t until Himelnith turned up with Feren three days later that Legolas even got a home-cooked meal. Legolas had been feeding himself on sandwiches and whatever he could scrounge from the fridge and pantry. The kitchen was full of dirty dishes. Legolas had obviously made an attempt at cleaning up, but Himelnith rewashed all the dishes anyway and helped him put everything away.
When she saw the state of Legolas’ room, he hung his head in shame. Himelnith went over to him and told him it was all right. She had only intended to kiss him on the top of his head but, as she drew closer, he practically melted into her. She hugged him back, realising no one had comforted him at all. Feren came up behind him and joined the hug, surrounding Legolas on both sides.
Eventually they pulled apart and Himelnith started on Legolas’ room. Since his meltdown he had been sleeping on a sheet with a blanket and pillow that he’d picked back off the floor. After she made his bed, Himelnith sat him on the bed and told him to rest. Recognising Legolas wasn’t in the mood to talk, Feren sat next to him and simply held his hand.
When the room was back in order, Himelnith walked over to the boys. Lifting Legolas’ face by the chin, she saw how tired he was. Bags had developed under his eyes and his skin looked grey. There was no sign of the happy, smiling elfling he usually was.
Himelnith frowned. She wanted to take Legolas home with them so he would be taken care of properly while Thranduil got himself back on track, but unfortunately that would only make things worse. Her husband had found a new job at last, but it meant moving to Rohan. They had already started packing, and Himelnith knew it was not the time to tell Legolas that Feren was leaving.
Steeling herself, she went to Thranduil’s room, where he had been holed up since he left the lounge room, and banged on the door. Despite the lack of reply, she entered the room.
From his room, Legolas and Feren listened as Himelnith spoke to Thranduil. At one point the boys looked at each other, wide-eyed.
“Your Naneth just swore at Ada!” Legolas was both horrified and gleeful.
Feren could not stop a giggle escaping. His mother telling their Lord off? He could not wait to tell his own Ada.
Himelnith returned to see both boys staring up at her in open-mouthed shock. “That’s enough you two,” she said with a touch of a grin. She was surprised at herself too, but it was worth it to see a hint of colour in Legolas’ face again.
Himelnith and Feren left soon after, leaving Legolas alone with Thranduil again. It took a few more days before Thranduil left his room on a regular basis. Despite the telling off by Himelnith, he still did not spend time with Legolas. Instead, he began investigating the accident, coming up with many theories as to what actually happened. His investigations gradually took up more and more of his energy.
In time, Legolas began to feel he had lost both of his parents that weekend. Thranduil was so caught up in his grief and his investigations that he failed to see how Legolas was struggling. Amdirwen’s death drove a wedge between them, one that was still there seven years later.
“Ada?” Legolas knew his father would not respond, but Bard had told him to speak to Thranduil, so that’s what he did. Even if it was just the one word.
When, as expected, Thranduil did not reply, Legolas turned around and went back to the car.
Bard looked at him as he got in. “Did you speak to him?”
Bard raised an eyebrow. “What did he say?”
Bard gave a wry smile; like father, like son. He sighed, not entirely convinced, but short of accusing Legolas of lying, there was nothing more he could do. He started the car and they headed off to the Club.