Driving home from the club, Bard thought about the relationship between himself and “his” two elves. He remembered when things had been better between them, back when he first met Thranduil…
Bard had been asked to attend a White Council meeting that had been called to discuss the future of Lake-town. The Master of Lake-town was the official town representative, but Bard was also invited as he was known to have the good will of the residents.
Bard’s attention was immediately drawn to a tall, blond elf. Mirkwood had many trade deals in place with Lake-town, so Thranduil Oropherion had also been requested to attend. Bard had never seen anyone so regal and majestic looking. He had seen many elves before, but none of them came anywhere close to this particular elf! Thranduil’s presence was so distracting that Bard could barely concentrate on the meeting, despite never actually speaking to him.
Later that night, as he told his wife Skyla about the meeting, she could not help finding his little crush sweet and adorable. Over the next several months, her husband frequently spoke of Thranduil and of things he had said and done. She was not worried about it though as she knew nothing would ever come of it. Bard was a good man and would never do anything to hurt her or their children – the two they had or the child she was currently carrying.
Not long after Tilda was born, however, their family was rocked by something entirely different. Skyla was diagnosed with a malignant form of cancer. Months of treatment later confirmed what the doctors had suspected from the beginning: she could not be cured.
The night after the family had eaten at Galion’s restaurant, and a few weeks before her death, Skyla was watching the news when a story about a fatal traffic accident came on.
“Bard! Come in here!” she called.
Bard entered the room and immediately realised why she called him. In shock, he listened to the commentary.
“Tragedy struck the elven community of Mirkwood today, when Amdirwen, wife of Thranduil Oropherion, was killed in a devastating car accident. The accident also left the former lady of Rivendell, Celebrían Peredhel, severely injured. Full details are still unknown but it is alleged that the former lord of Rivendell, Elrond Peredhel, world-class healer and husband of Celebrían, was present at the scene, as well as an undisclosed number of orcs.
“Elrond treated Amdirwen at the scene but when the ambulances arrived she was pronounced dead.
“Amdirwen, a former resident of Lothlórien, first came to the public eye after her fairytale whirlwind romance with Thranduil, shortly after moving to Mirkwood. She is survived by her husband and ten-year-old son, Legolas.”
Bard sat down heavily as the story ended and tears sprung to his eyes. For months he had been faced with the prospect of his wife’s death, and finding out about the death of Thranduil’s wife brought all his emotions to the fore.
“He’s going to need a friend you know.”
Bard shook his head at Skyla. He couldn’t understand her fixation with pushing him towards Thranduil. Ever since her diagnosis, she had been encouraging him to reach out to Thranduil.
Skyla didn’t want Bard alone and withdrawn after her death and, recognising her husband’s attraction to Thranduil could be the perfect distraction, she wanted him to move on as soon as possible. Eating at Galion’s the day before was as close as Skyla had come to making that a reality. While they were there, she saw the look Thranduil had given Bard, and she felt confident there could be something between the two men. Even if it was just friendship.
“You’re amazing, you know,” Bard began. “Most women wouldn’t want their husbands going anywhere near another woman, or man.”
She smiled at him. “I just want you to be happy.”
Bard came over to her chair and they embraced, losing themselves in each other while they could.
Over the next couple of days, her health declined noticeably and she was hospitalised, one last time. She and Bard were alone in the room, once again watching the news when a story covering Amdirwen’s funeral began. They watched it in silence, knowing it would not be long before Bard and their children would be put through the same thing.
The camera focussed on a young elfling that could only be Legolas. He was clutching onto the hand of an older, dark-haired female elf, with another elfling about Legolas’ age standing close by them.
Bard’s heart broke as he watched Legolas. The child looked so forlorn. His blue eyes seemed huge in his pale face, and when a reporter approached him he turned and buried his face in the side of the woman.
“Leave the poor kid be,” Bard muttered angrily to himself.
Skyla reached over and took his hand comfortingly as they watched the woman pick Legolas up and walk away from the reporter.
“Promise me you’ll seek him out when I’m gone,” Skyla said afterwards.
Bard was not convinced Skyla was right that he and Thranduil would ever have a future, but by this stage, he would do anything Skyla wanted. He promised her he would contact Thranduil and, thankfully, she let the matter drop.
After Skyla died though, Bard’s promise was forgotten. He had three grieving children to deal with and a family to run. It took nearly a year, but finally, the four of them settled into a routine. They were still grieving but found a way of coping. Bain became very protective of his sisters and Sigrid took over the cooking and a lot of the household duties. Tilda, being less than two years old, did not understand why her mother was not there anymore and was subdued for a while, but quickly adapted to the new family dynamic.
During this year of adjustment, things changed once again when Lake-town was destroyed and Bard and Thranduil finally met face to face.
Mismanagement by the former Master of Lake-town and his corrupt staff led to a catastrophic fire that gutted the entire town. Knowing he would be investigated, and most likely prosecuted, the Master stole a substantial amount of the town’s gold and disappeared. This left Bard as the popular choice to take control of what was left of Lake-town. He had saved many lives during the catastrophe and his ancestor had previously played a significant role in saving the town from disaster.
Initially, Bard only intended to oversee the relocation of all survivors to the nearby abandoned city of Dale and see to the establishment of trade relations with the nearby dwarf colony at the Lonely Mountain. As time went on, it seemed he would not be able to step aside any time soon. Negotiations with the dwarves had stalled and his people were going hungry. As he began to despair for Dale’s future, Thranduil turned up out of the blue with a much-needed offer of assistance.
Thranduil too had issues with the Lonely Mountain dwarves: he was trying to retrieve some family heirlooms before the Council took over Mirkwood and he lost the chance to reclaim them. Thranduil offered Bard and the people of Dale access to supplies that would see them through until their issues with the dwarves were resolved. Thranduil stayed around long enough to team up with Bard and persuade the dwarves to honour their agreements with both Dale and Mirkwood.
Afterwards, the men went out for a meal to celebrate their success. Over many glasses of wine, they opened up to each other about the deaths of their wives and the issues of raising their children alone. Bard confessed he was going to hand the running of Dale over to the council as soon as he could. One thing the last year had taught him was the importance of family and, as far as he was concerned, his children were the only things worth fighting for. Thranduil spoke of how Legolas would be all he had left once Mirkwood was taken over.
The next day, Thranduil returned to Mirkwood after he and Bard promised to keep in touch.
Around this time, the White Council decided all the former Lords, Ladies, Kings, Queens and other former rulers throughout Middle Earth should all move to the White City to be in one central location.
Thranduil was one of the first to move. The council had now taken over the running of Mirkwood and Thranduil could not bear to watch the council destroy his former home. He also wanted to escape the memories of Amdirwen. Thranduil and Legolas temporarily moved into a luxury, two-bedroom apartment. The council would eventually supply them with a proper family home, but their designated housing estate was still under construction.
Bard and his children also moved to the White City prior to the housing estate being completed. This gave him a chance to see Thranduil in person more often. They began to have dinner in the city on a regular basis but were yet to meet the other’s children.
One night, Bard received a phone call from Thranduil.
“I have sent Legolas to a babysitter for the night. Would you like to come to my house for dinner? I have some new wine to try,” Thranduil paused. “You could stay the night. This wine is rather potent, and I would not want to risk you driving home afterwards.”
Bard held his breath. Was Thranduil only asking him over for dinner and wine? Thranduil had not appeared to show any interest in things developing between them, but Bard knew that public signs of affection were not in the nature of elves. Was this Thranduil’s way of saying he wanted more?
“You can sleep on the lounge.” The disappointment in Thranduil’s voice made Bard realise he had been silent too long.
“No, no, that’s fine,” he replied quickly. “I would like that very much.”
After they finished on the phone, Bard quickly made arrangements for a friend to look after his kids overnight and he drove to Thranduil’s apartment.
Thranduil was correct about the wine – it was indeed very potent, a rare batch of Dorwinion wine Bard had not tried before. Later in the night the two of them sat on the large sofa. They had talked throughout the night but were now just sitting quietly together. Bard was lulled by the feel of the heat of Thranduil’s body next to him and, embarrassingly, felt his head drooping against Thranduil’s shoulder. He was so comfortable and relaxed that he soon fell asleep slumped against Thranduil.
He woke the next morning to the sound of voices, stretched out on his back on the sofa. His eyes stubbornly refused to open but he could tell the voices were in another room. He recognised one voice as Thranduil’s but could not recognise the other. It was the voice of a younger person but not that of a child’s. Frowning to himself, he turned onto his side and forced his eyes open. He jumped as he saw someone – Legolas – standing right up close to him, staring down at him with a frown on his face.
The two looked at each other without saying anything for a solid minute. Bard finally opened his mouth to say something when Legolas spoke over the top of him.
“That’s my mother’s rug, not yours.”
Bard looked at himself to see he had been covered by the throw rug he had seen on the back of a lounge chair the night before.
“It’s a very nice rug,” he offered.
Legolas didn’t blink.
Bard sat up to make himself at a level height with Legolas. “It kept me very warm.”
Still no reaction.
Bard reached his hand out to shake. “I’m Bard Bowman, pleased to meet you.”
Legolas’ mouth tightened but he shook the hand back and said, “I am Legolas Thranduilion, well met.” He clearly did not want to shake hands but did so anyway, politeness having been bred into him early on.
Bard thought over what he knew of the eleven-year-old standing in front of him. “I hear you like archery.”
Legolas’ face brightened and he opened his mouth to reply before he remembered he was cross with the human for using his mother’s rug. He shut his mouth and made himself look stern again. He nodded once at Bard.
Bard relaxed, knowing he had found a way to get through to Legolas. He kept at Legolas with probing questions about Legolas’ prowess with a bow, playing up how good Legolas was. By the time Thranduil came looking for them, he and Legolas were old friends. Legolas giggled as Bard regaled him with a story about a student who could not shoot straight no matter how much help he received.
Thranduil stood in the doorway with his arms folded watching them. He had been annoyed with the babysitter for bringing Legolas back sooner than arranged but was distracted by the sight of his son and his… well, he didn’t quite know what to call Bard at this stage.
Thranduil hadn’t seen Legolas laugh so much in quite a while and felt a sudden stab of jealousy that Bard had broken through to him so easily. He entered the room and sat next to Bard to listen to the rest of the story. Surprisingly, he found himself laughing along with Legolas, his jealousy pushed aside.
Over the next couple of months, Legolas would join Bard and his father when they went out, the three of them becoming very close. With archery being a mutual interest, Bard occasionally took Legolas out by himself to an archery range he used. Thranduil was not interested in archery and was content to let the two go on their own. He still hadn’t met Bard’s kids yet but wasn’t bothered by it knowing that Bard would not have met Legolas either if the babysitter hadn’t returned him early that day.
The only cloud in their relationship was Thranduil’s worsening obsession with digging into what had happened with his wife. Bard could not understand why Thranduil would not let the matter drop considering the police investigation had been long completed. Sometimes Bard felt it was more important to Thranduil than either Legolas or himself. Increasing his frustration, Thranduil would not discuss what he was investigating, or why he felt it necessary.
One day, Bard brought Legolas home from the archery range to find Thranduil was still out on one of his investigations. After trying to contact Thranduil for over an hour, and with neither of them having a key, Bard took Legolas to a nearby park to wait.
Thranduil eventually realised the time and rushed home only to find no one there. He rang Bard’s house but got no answer. As he sat there, thinking desperately of what to do next, a voice nagged at the back of his mind. Before leaving for Rohan, Himelnith had spoken to him again about neglecting Legolas in favour of his search and how Legolas needed him.
Thranduil was suddenly angry at everything; people telling him what to do, all the people hampering his investigations, the Council for everything they had done to ruin his life, the damned Peredhels, Bard for not being there, Legolas for always being there wanting things. Why was no one ever concerned about what he wanted?!
Thranduil’s ire turned towards Bard. Bard should be there with his son, he should have waited until Thranduil turned up or at the very least, left him a note. He went inside and wrote his own note, leaving it under the front door and went out again. Thranduil drove around for a while, trying to think of where they could be. He eventually remembered the day he, Bard and Legolas had stopped for an ice cream in a nearby park and he decided to look there next.
He parked the car as close as he could and ran into the park. He was both relieved and annoyed to see Legolas playing happily with some human children while Bard watched on. Bard saw him coming out of the corner of his eye and turned to him with a smile. The smile disappeared when he saw the thunderous look on Thranduil’s face.
“Where have you been?” Thranduil snapped.
Bard’s eyes widened. Thranduil had never been angry with him before and the force of his anger surprised him.
“We waited over an hour for you before coming here,” Bard replied, trying to remain calm. “I called you but got no answer.”
“I did not give you permission to bring my son here, or to associate with these…” Thranduil gestured dismissively at the children “…humans.”
Bard straightened, no longer bothered with staying calm. “These humans as you call them are my kids. And they were playing together, it’s what normal kids do.” No one, not even Thranduil, had the right to talk down to his kids.
Thranduil glared at the children, noting the family resemblance. The oldest two of the humans were glaring at Thranduil, angry with him for upsetting their father and for the way he spoke about them. Legolas looked mortified at his father’s behaviour.
Thranduil knew he should not let his temper control him but felt helpless to resist.
“Are you insinuating my child is not normal?”
Bard glanced at Legolas in shock before turning back to Thranduil. “What? No! That’s not what I said at all! Don’t put words in my mouth.” The two men glared at each other, no longer giving any thought to reining in their tempers.
“Come, Legolas, we are going home.”
Legolas looked back up at Bard pleadingly, not wanting to leave. He’d had a fun afternoon playing with Bard’s children and didn’t want to go home alone with his father when he was so angry.
Legolas didn’t know quite how things worked between adults yet, but he thought his Ada and Bard were going to be boyfriends. Now they were arguing like Ada and Nana had before she died. He didn’t want to lose Bard like he lost his Nana. Bard was the only one who took him to archery and talked to him and did stuff with him. His father was always too busy “working”.
“Is Bard coming too?” he asked Thranduil.
“No, Bard needs to go home. He has done enough today.”
Bard watched as Thranduil grabbed Legolas’ hand and dragged him away. He took half a step. “Thranduil! Thranduil, don’t walk away from me like this!”
Thranduil paused briefly but started walking again without turning around. “We have nothing more to say to each other.”
Bard was in complete shock. There hadn’t been any hint of trouble in their relationship but over the next couple of weeks, Thranduil refused to take his calls and refused to see him. Legolas called him once in the middle of the night, in tears over what was happening, but Thranduil heard them on the phone and forbade Bard from talking to Legolas again without his permission.
After several months, Bard began to accept that whatever there was between them was over. He missed Legolas and Thranduil but it seemed there was nothing he could do. He gave up trying to contact Thranduil and decided to move on.
Two years later, Legolas and Thranduil blew back into his life.
On Legolas’ birthday he had asked his father for a new bow. He had outgrown his old bow and it was overdue to be upgraded. Thranduil drove him into the city and they parked a couple of blocks away from the shop Legolas wanted to go to. As they approached the shop, Thranduil grabbed Legolas’ shoulder angrily.
“What are you playing at Legolas?”
Legolas didn’t reply, just giving him the same little smile that Amdirwen would give him when she was plotting something. Legolas pushed open the door to the shop and went in leaving Thranduil outside glaring at the sign on the shop front that said “Bowman Archery Supplies”.
Bard looked up in surprise as Legolas walked in. Legolas was the last person he expected to see at his shop.
The shop door opened again and Thranduil stepped in. “Legolas, you have a lot of explaining to do!”
At thirteen, Legolas had grown nearly as tall as his father. Bard noticed that he also looked older, the smiling eleven-year-old he knew had been replaced by a solemn teenager. Clearly, things had not improved between father and son. He was reassured somewhat by the familiar-looking, cheeky grin Legolas sent him before turning away to look at the bows.
Thranduil stood in the doorway looking around at everything but Bard. Bard stood behind the counter, debating whether to stay there and wait for Thranduil to say something or whether to go and help Legolas. He watched as Legolas said something to Thranduil too quietly for him to hear. Whatever he said caused Thranduil to scowl at him. Eventually though, Thranduil looked around at Bard and, with obvious reluctance, walked over.
Bard, determined not to be the first one to speak, waited patiently for Thranduil to say something.
“I am sorry.”
Bard blinked, not quite believing Thranduil had said that. An apology from Thranduil was unexpected.
“My son has informed me, on numerous occasions, that my behaviour was unacceptable. He says,” Thranduil looked back at the younger elf a moment, “that I should have been more communicative.”
Bard raised an eyebrow. He really had no idea what to say.
“You should know that I have ceased my investigations into my wife’s death.” Thranduil looked downwards before letting his shoulders slump. “I have missed you,” he added quietly.
Bard closed his eyes as he processed what Thranduil said. Two years he had been running this shop, working himself into the ground both to support his family but mostly to take his mind off Thranduil and what could have been. Now Thranduil was standing here before him, saying everything he had wanted to hear two years ago. Was it too late?
“Legolas has missed you too.”
Bard looked over at Legolas. He had chosen a new bow and was staring out the front window, waiting for the adults to sort themselves out. Looking back at Thranduil, Bard was surprised to see a vulnerable look on his face. He nodded in agreement. “I have missed you both as well.”
Thranduil looked at him hopefully. “Can we go out for dinner?” He raised a hand as Bard opened his mouth to reply. “Just you and me, out in public. Just to see if we still have any common ground. Then, if things go okay, I would like to meet your children.” His mouth twitched. “Properly.”
Bard found himself smiling back at Thranduil. He quite liked this new Thranduil. “OK,” he replied.
With a sigh of relief, Thranduil turned to look at Legolas as he walked up to them.
“All sorted?” Legolas grinned at them.
“My son, the matchmaker,” Thranduil smiled at Bard.
Bard nodded. Things would be better this time, he thought.
As Bard arrived back at the house he and his kids now shared with Thranduil and Legolas, he smiled as he thought of Skyla and her attempts to bring the two together. She and Legolas would have got along perfectly.
With a sigh, he got out the car and went inside to look for Thranduil. It was time to convince him to let Legolas go to the barbeque.