Wrath and Ruin by KimicThranduilion
Summary: The battle with the Great Serpents of the North brought nothing but wrath and ruin for the wood elves. The aftermath is bitter – particularly so for their great King now laid low by the destruction of dragon flame. A short tale of Thranduil’s healing and how he and those around him adapt to his new, life-changing injuries. Thranduil-centric later on. Thranduil, Legolas, Tauriel, Gandalf, Radagast, Elrond and a host of OCs. Disclaimer: It's not mine!
Categories: Fiction Characters: Elrond, Gandalf, Legolas, OFC, OMC, Radagast, Thranduil
Content: Angst, AU, Hurt/Comfort
Challenges: None
Series: Tales of Mirkwood
Chapters: 7 Completed: No Word count: 34667 Read: 1062 Published: September 11, 2016 Updated: September 20, 2017
Story Notes:
A/N: New story here solely based in Mirkwood. This will only be a short story – no more than 3 to 5 chapters. Hope you all enjoy.

* Legolas and his friends (Faervel, Aeglosson, Tauriel) are all very young here think 12 – 13 in human years.

1. Chapter 1 by KimicThranduilion

2. Chapter 2 by KimicThranduilion

3. Chapter 3 by KimicThranduilion

4. Chapter 4 by KimicThranduilion

5. Chapter 5 by KimicThranduilion

6. Chapter 6 by KimicThranduilion

7. Chapter 7 by KimicThranduilion

Chapter 1 by KimicThranduilion
Shapes that had been nothing more than dark, distant blurs and blobs for the better part of an hour were now finally starting to come into focus. More distinct now – shapes of elk, horses, banners and elves were being made clear with each step they took down the path. Legolas could barely contain his excitement and he watched from his perch with happy, expectant eyes. Even the threat of Lord Arahaelon's wrath when he found out that Legolas had disobeyed his orders to slip out of the palace could not dim his enthusiasm.

For after what seemed like the longest four months of his life all the maethyr along with his Adar were finally returning to the stronghold. They would be returning triumphant and glorious and Legolas would be damned if he were to miss out on seeing it. He could not wait to see his Adar at the head of the column leading his warriors in the traditional victory chants as they marched up to the palace. Victory was theirs; they had kept the Woodland realm safe and protected from the terror and shadow of the Great Serpents of the North.

Legolas was sure of it – sure that his people, their great warriors had quashed their fiery foes. So then why was it still so quite? Surely he should be able to hear the victory chants of the troops by now? Yet the only thing he could hear at the moment was the joyful, giddy rambling of the tree he was currently perched in, for it was as pleased as punch that a wood elf had seen fit to seek refuge among its boughs.

Legolas inched closer to the end of the branch he was on eager to see more of the troops, perhaps they were simply waiting to be closer to the palace before they started up their songs. Legolas smiled as he imagined it.

His Adar would ride at the front high upon the back of Diomedes with all the other mounted troops following, the battle elk would be next followed by the foot soldiers. The faces of warriors and beasts alike would be painted with swirling patters in gold and green, with gold ribbons and chain used to decorate the manes of the horses and the antlers of the elk. A glorious and joyful procession they would be indeed, and once back at the palace feasting and dancing would be declared for at least a week to allow everyone to celebrate with and congratulate the success of the maethyr.

He shifted again impatiently, he really could not wait and the tree he was in began to babble at him once more and it quivered as though it too was excited. Legolas grinned at its glee, patted its trunk and looked down again – the troops were getting closer; his sharp eyes were able to see them perfectly now and his smile faltered. It froze on his lips and faded away all together as he took in the solemn scene that marched ever nearer.

There were no flashes of gold nor snatches of green to be seen anywhere on any of the maethyr. The warriors looked grim and worn out and all the animals seemed uneasy. Closer inspection showed many of them to be carrying litters that tired looking healers flitted between. A good many more carried litters where the occupants were covered from head to toe, the black symbol of mourning hastily drawn onto the covering cloths.

Legolas stood up and craned his neck as his eyes darted to and from every warrior now solemnly marching by. Where was his Adar? The front of the column had passed Legolas by and Thranduil had been nowhere to be seen. Eagle sharp blue eyes continued to scan the troops below searching for distinctive ash blonde hair that remained irritatingly and worryingly elusive. Legolas was beginning to get annoyed and rather scared (if he was being honest) and he was just weighing up jumping down into the throng - future punishments be damned - when he heard it. The long, high pitched, mournful sounding whiny of Diomedes.

In an instant Legolas picked out the black stallion with the distinctive silver, star shaped patch on his forehead. Diomedes gave another long, woeful whiny and Legolas' heart suddenly caught in his throat as he saw the beast jump up and give a frightful kick out with his front legs. Next to him some poor ellon tried to calm the struggling horse and tugged down on a length of rope in an attempt to bring the horse back down on all fours. Diomedes struggled all the more as he snorted, stamped and tossed his head before he launched another kick.

Legolas continued to stare – where on Arda was his Adar? Thranduil would have Diomedes behaving and calm in a mere instant. Why was some unknown elf handling his father's horse? The beast was not given to tolerating anyone other than Thranduil; in fact he had even once bitten Legolas himself so for this ellon to try and control Diomedes was folly. Fear began to pound through him then as Diomedes continued to act up and no Thranduil appeared to soothe him. Legolas nimbly hopped to the next tree along impatient to see if he could spot his father and see what had taken him from his stallion's side. To see why he wasn't riding up in front chanting and singing joyfully like he should be. To see if he could make sense of why this return seemed more like a funeral procession than a victory parade. Legolas felt dread and panic was over him as solemn warrior after warrior and sad litter after litter continued to pass him by. The beginning of the procession was quite close to the palace now and still not one victory cry nor chant was there to be heard.

Suddenly he heard something far, far worse. The low, gentle notes of it washed over him and filled him with terror.

No, no, no. Legolas turned and fled through the trees back to the palace the way he had come. This was all wrong – it was not real. His eyes and ears were playing tricks on him. The troops were returning home with joyful songs not the songs for the dead. And his Adar was fine – he had ridden ahead as always and Legolas had simply missed him. Diomedes was calm and Thranduil was fine. Fine, fine, fine - he was fine damn it.

Legolas would go home brush and braid his hair, put on his circlet and greet his Adar back at the Palace just like a good Prince should. It was all fine. His Adar would come through the gates smiling and laughing and triumphant because he was completely and perfectly fine.

Right?

Legolas wiped away unconscious tears and hastened his steps. Everything was just fine.

~o~

Legolas hastily re-arranged his circlet and after giving himself a quick once over in his mirror he snatched open his door and hastened down the long corridor that led away from the Royal quarters. He noted unconcernedly that the Royal Guards who were usually posted at each door were not at their posts. He pondered for a moment where they all might be but he was not truly concerned at the moment – he just needed to get down to see his Adar. To see that everything was truly all ok. Valar why was this corridor so very long and winding? Had it always taken him such a great amount of time to leave the Royal quarters?

He turned the last bend and his earlier question of the Royal guards' whereabouts was answered - they were all gathered at the double doors that lead out into the Palace proper talking in whispered tones amongst themselves. One of the outdoor Palace guards was also with them. They turned as one to face him – all with varying looks of worry and unease clear on their usually stoic faces. Legolas squared his shoulders and continued to approach – they would not stop him – Legolas was determined to see his Adar.

Suddenly the gilded doors swung open to reveal an extremely worried and harassed looking Thanniel. It seemed she was about to confer with the guards gathered at the door but then her gaze fell upon Legolas.

"Oh child." She rushed toward him arms held outward and caught him in an embrace.

Legolas was immediately embarrassed; he didn't need Thanniel to coddle him like this any longer – he was far too old for it. He was twenty nine for pity's sake.

"Thanniel please," his voice sounded muffled from where she tenderly held his head close to her chest. "Please stop this – I don't have time I need…I need to go now. I need to go and greet Adar and you are making me all dishevelled. He hates that – let go."

Legolas struggled and Thanniel loosened her embrace but did not relinquish her grip on him. Instead she gently held his hand and pulled him back in the direction of his room.

"Come pen-neth," she paused to look him in the eye, "I'm afraid you won't be able to see your Adar just yet Lasseg."

Legolas snatched his hand away and made a step toward the doors again.

"Why?" There was more than a hint of fear in his voice now.

Thanniel simply held out her hand to him again and gave him a slow, sad smile. A smile that Legolas had seen once before, but it had been on Thranduil – right before he told Legolas news that had turned his entire world upside down. News that had led to Thanniel becoming a permanent fixture in his life.

Legolas' heart began to beat a frantic rhythm in his chest but he calmly took Thanniel's outstretched hand and followed her back the way he had come dread growing within him with each step.

Please, please Elbereth, he prayed, please let it not be news like that again.

~o~

Cold.

So cold, so very cold and yet there was also heat. Red, hot, fiery pain that seemed as though it wanted to engulf his entire face.

Darkness.

It was dark here too, a pitch black darkness that even elven eyes could not pierce. It was cloying, suffocating and thick and seemed as though it wanted to drown him. To pull him deep down into its shadowy embrace.

Where was this place?

Thranduil did not like it in the least – it was miserable and he was in excruciating pain. It started as a deep ache in his shoulder spreading up into the scorching agony that seemed to be slowly melting his face. The rest of him was as cold as ice however and felt just as leaden and heavy.

Where was he? Why did he feel like this? What had happened to put him in this dank and miserable place?

Another agonizing wave of hot pain washed over him and his already dark surroundings got darker still. Thranduil did his best to remain calm even as the inky darkness seemed to grow heavier over his aching body.

He was being pulled down, down, down. Deeper, deeper, deeper.

He panicked and tried to resist, to flail, to somehow save himself from the thick black terror that closed in around him. Yet to his horror he could not move – not even the smallest muscle. The shadowy blackness washed over him completely then - crushing him, forcing dark tendrils into his mouth and down his nostrils. It washed over eyes that Thranduil could no longer be sure were open or closed.

Wave after wave of it washed over him and pitch-black tentacles anchored themselves to him and dragged him ever deeper into the abyss.

Yet the deeper he went the less was his fear. For the darkness beckoned, called to him with sweet promises of pain relief. He would be free – free from the chilling, bone deep cold and scorching hot pain.

Yes.

Thranduil threw himself into the darkness' arms willingly now. He wanted nothing more than to be free of his pained existence. To melt slowly into the blackness.

He still did not know where he was nor where he was being dragged down to but found that he cared not. His pain was lessening with every tug of darkness and he felt his tiredness begin to melt away.

His consciousness ebbed then faded and at last all was black.

The darkness reigned supreme.

~o~

Deep within the Palace Calelon – the Royal chief healer – watched as his wards began to fill. Litter upon litter of wounded being brought in. He sighed as he watched his healers and apprentices scurry round with perfect order and precision as they organised the wounded according to the severity of their injuries. He noted with mounting concern that there were more litters being directed toward the 'severe' ward than any others.

Still he remained where he was, face stoic and inscrutable as he watched the organised chaos around him. He was not as cold as he looked nor was he such a harsh taskmaster that he would stand in a time of such crisis and watch as those under him began to buckle under the pressure. No – usually he would have been right there alongside them.

Yet he had been sent word that he would be needed to act in his capacity as Royal healer first and foremost.

He watched a few moments more then suddenly there was a commotion greater than all the others at the doors as Thranduil's Elite – his personal body guards came in bearing a litter, the body with covered completely. As one they threw mournful, pleading eyes on him and Calelon motioned for them to follow him still calm and stoic though his heart had begun to pound fiercely in his chest.

This is what he had feared when he first became the Royal healer centuries ago – he had long prayed to all the Valar to spare him from seeing such a day as this.

The body in the litter was placed upon the pristine white sheets with utmost care and again Calelon had to endure the hopeful, pleading looks that begged him to make things right once again before a solemn faced Crown Commander Aglardaer ushered them all out.

Alone now Calelon braced himself and threw back the white gauze that covered the body – that covered his King.

He gasped – breath stolen by what lay before him.

Burns, there were burns the message had said and burns he had prepared himself for. Yet nothing could have compared him for the utter devastation of the form that lay before him.

Calelon took a deep breath and steadied himself – he had the hopes of the realm resting upon his shoulders and the life of their King hanging precariously in his hands.

"Tiro ven Eru," he prayed and before he began the most delicate task of bringing light and life back into the ruin before him.

TBC.
End Notes:
Maethyr – (plural) warriors

Adar – Father

Ellon – Male elf

Pen-neth – Young One

Lasseg – Little Leaf – Family nickname for Legolas

Tiro ven Eru – May Eru watch over us

Horses:

Diomedes – Thranduil's horse – (Greek) Cunning Warrior

A/N: I apologise in advance - this story will not be updated as regularly as Friendship Amidst Loss as that is my priority. I will however update this story as and when I can – it will be finished so just bear with me :)
Chapter 2 by KimicThranduilion
It was the second day of the week long period of mourning that had been announced and Legolas sat listlessly on the window seat as he stared out above the courtyard below. He kicked his legs from time to time and watched the Royal flags that had been lowered to half-mast flap in the wind. Black and white mourning flags fluttered above them. The Woodland realm mourned her dead – and such a lot of dead there were too. Legolas had already been to five pyre burning ceremonies in the three days since the troops had returned home. Thranduil always attended the funeral of his warriors and where he could not the rest of the Royal family was expected to do so in his stead. Thus Legolas and his sister Rithel had been quite busy and Legolas found the condolences rolling off his tongue more and more easily.

He was not quite sure how he felt about it – about any of it. In fact he was not quite sure whether he could feel anything anymore. Since he had been told rather gently by Thanniel of his father's plight Legolas had floated along in a sort of numb cloud. Rithel, Crown Commander Aglardaer and Lord Arahaelon had all been present but Legolas heard nothing of what had been said once Thanniel had told him the reason he could not go down and greet his Adar.

Burned.

Serpents.

Dragon Fire.

Grave Condition.

Lengthy Recovery.

Be brave.

Stay strong.

Thanniel's words bounced round and round in Legolas' mind. The serpents had been defeated but at a great price to his people and especially so to his Adar. He was supposed to be brave, to stay strong and stand stoically as he attended each solemn funeral along with Rithel and so far he had done exactly that and been praised for it. Yet Legolas didn't feel particularly brave nor strong. He simply did what he must – his duty. He didn't feel brave, he didn't feel strong, he didn't feel worried or scared or anything at all. He just floated around in his cloud numb to it all; which suited him just fine really – there was another pyre burning ceremony in just under an hour.

Legolas canted a look behind him at Rithel who was stood in the middle of the room – her living room – having a formal gown amended with a few last minute stiches and embroidery. Legolas huffed a little sigh as he went back to staring listlessly out of the window. Rithel had better hurry up – they didn't have all that long.

Legolas smoothed his own black tunic and trousers (he hadn't seen the point in changing) before he rested his head gently against the glass and stared down at the strangely empty courtyard. He had rarely seen it look so deserted and empty; even when the troops had been away it had still been quite lively. Now though due to the week of mourning no one save essential staff such as the healers worked.

It's just as empty as me, was Legolas' idle thought before Thanniel's words began to crowd him once more.

~o~

Rithel struggled to remain standing perfectly still as she waited with great impatience for her nethryn to finish their delicate work on the gown she currently modelled for them. It was one she would be wearing tomorrow to attend a commemorative service for the fallen maethyr. She resisted the urge to sigh – so many funerals and now this upcoming service where half the realm would be attendance. Lord Arahaelon would preside over the ceremony in her Adar's stead but she along with Legolas would still have to attend and look their most stoic and regal. Rithel glanced over at her little brother who stared passively out of the window a look of utter boredom on his young face.

She was worried for him. Surely so much death and loss could not be good for such a young elf? There was another funeral to attend this very afternoon with still another eight yet to come in the week ahead in addition to tomorrow's service. Legolas seemed to be holding up well, he stood through all the pyre burning ceremonies with patience, seemingly unaffected by the sad laments and wails and cries of the bereaved. Yet Rithel still worried for him. For all that he outwardly seemed to be doing well, since they had received news of their Adar Legolas had stuck to her side like a bur. Rithel was unsure whether or not it was intentional but in the three days since the troops had returned home they had hardly spent any time apart whilst awake.

She supposed that he was frightened in a way – of being left alone – whether he realised it or not. It was not an unreasonable fear for him to have after all. Legolas had already suffered the terrible tragedy of their Naneth's death and it would be unsurprising if he was also scared of losing their Adar.

Unfortunately it was not a fear that could be dismissed out of hand. For though Thanniel had given news of their Adar being injured to the both her and Legolas at the same time, Rithel had afterwards been called into a meeting with Commander Aglardaer, Lord Arahaelon and been told the truth by Calelon. The rather unpalatable truth that their Adar was in actual fact close to death's door. So close in fact that he already had one foot in Mandos' Halls.

The thought frightened Rithel to her very core. The thought that she could be the next Queen of the Woodland realm, forced to take the throne before her time made her feel faint with worry. She was not ready yet to be Queen – no matter all the classes and councils and diplomatic missions she had attended – she was not ready. Rithel forced herself to breath as she began to get breathless with worry at the mere thought of it. She did not want to rule the realm, she could not rule the realm. All that her Adar and Daer-adar had worked so hard to achieve would most certainly be lost under her unprepared rule.

Nay that could not happen. Her Adar had to get better – he must.

Rithel looked down at her seamstresses, patience finally worn thin as she felt the sudden urge to visit Elbereth's temple and plead for her Adar's life. She wanted to do something, anything to stop her from feeling so useless, so helpless.

"Ladies are we nearly finished here? I would like to visit the temple before the next ceremony begins."

"Yes, yes Hiril-nin, I must simply put in another two stitches and the dress will be ready," piped up the head seamstress, "the other ladies have already finished. Correct ladies?"

Rithel was relieved to see the other two seamstresses nod their head in agreement. She stood still for a few moments more before the dress was at last declared finished.

"Perfect. Le fael ladies," Rithel nodded her thanks before she gathered the voluminous gown around her and called to her little brother who had remained listless at the window during the exchange.

"Lasseg-nin I am going to Elbereth's temple now to say some prayers quickly before the next funeral. I will be back in time – will you await me here?"

Legolas peered over his shoulder and a look of mild fright crossed his young face before the blank wall of impassivity came down again. "Ok Rithel – be safe."

He flashed her a small smile that came nowhere near his baby blue eyes before he turned back to stare out of the window before he leant his golden head against the glass and fear stabbed through Rithel at the sight. He seemed so small, so much younger than he actually was and most worryingly of all he seemed so devoid of life. The usually bright, mischievous and sparkling eyes were dull and empty.

What were the signs of fading? Could that be what was making her little brother seem so vacant?

Rithel slipped into her sleeping chamber and hurriedly began to change. She didn't have much time and now in addition to going to the temple she wanted to see one of the healers as well. She needed to know all the signs that pointed to fading so she could keep a sharp eye out for them in Legolas. She would do everything in her power to see to it that he got through this – he had suffered too much already.

~o~

Rithel entered the Temple of the Blessed Lady Elbereth hair covered with a light scarf as was customary and head bowed in supplication. It was busier than usual with laments being sung and priests lighting candles for the recently deceased. Rithel kept her head bowed and continued to walk, briskly, toward her destination – the inner sanctum of the temple.

Rithel passed through the entrance guarded by two priests and was instantly enveloped by an almost audible quiet and a sense of peace. Rarely did she ever use the privileges her Royalty afforded her but this time she felt the need to make the exception. Only the priests and Royalty were allowed to cross the threshold into the inner sanctum and Rithel had only one or twice ever done so but today she did. She did not want to be seen by prying eyes nor her prayers overheard. She was so heavy of heart and she did not want to look as weak as she felt in front of the people - that would not do. With her Adar, the King already incapacitated it was up to her as heir to the throne to be strong for the people. Or at the very least look strong.

Still, strong was the last thing she felt as she sank to her knees in front of the great marble likeness of Elbereth and lit several candles and incense sticks.

She knew that her Adar, the very one she was here to plead for, no longer believed in or called upon the Valar having lost all faith when her Naneth had fallen. Yet he had never discouraged her or Legolas from carrying on with their own temple visits and prayers.

She could see now in times like these why her Father had given up any hope in the Valar. For where were they – any of them – when the dragons were raining destruction down on her people? However she could not so easily give up her own faith, her own hope. She had to believe, had to hope that somewhere Elbereth or one of the other Valar would hear her and send help. This was her one and only source of comfort right now – and here and only here could she vent and release all her fears unseen and without burdening those she was supposed to be strong for.

"Ai blessed Elbereth hear me, please, I beseech you…"

Rithel bowed her head toward the floor and wept even as she begged, pleaded and prayed for divine intervention.

~o~

Calelon gave small hum of disapproval as he tied off the last of Thranduil's bandages. The King lay perfectly still, not even the slightest hint of pain being shown in his too pale lifeless looking body. In fact Thranduil was so lifeless looking and so wrapped up in gauze that he looked like a corpse ready for its funeral.

Calelon shook the grim thought from his head and a quick glance at Thranduil's chest assured him that the King was indeed breathing and still in the land of the living - for now.

Calelon sighed and turned to put away the roll of bandages when his assistant – Lady dhes appeared in the doorway.

"Hi Calelon, I've come to relieve you," she gave him a kindly smile. "You really ought to take some rest now – you have been tending to the King since he came in three days ago."

Calelon sighed again louder this time, "Yes, yes, I know but he does not improve dhes. I have just changed his bandages and he did not so much as twitch."

Calelon held out a bony hand over Thranduil's bandaged forehead and closed his eyes as he focussed on trying to feel for and call back the King's weakened fa. After a moment he gave up and turned weary looking eyes to Lady dhes.

"He is so far away from me dhes, so deep in darkness. I can barely reach him." Calelon turned so he faced the large window that let in the fresh, light summer breeze. "I think we must call for help now – for this - this is beyond us."

Lady dhes went over to the King herself pouring forth healing energy even as she too tried to reach his fa.

Calelon watched her work for a few moments and noted with growing distress that there was still no reaction at all from the King – it was as if he were nothing but an empty husk.

At length Lady dhes finally pulled back, a look of anguish on her face that Calelon was sure was reflected on his own.

"I agree with you Calelon – we must seek aid if we are to save our King."

Calelon nodded tiredly, "I will go and speak with Lord Arahaelon now. He will know how to get word to the Istari. I should like both Mithrandir and Aiwendil to lend us their aid."

"Yes I think that would be best," Lady dhes tied her dark hair back and immediately began to bustle round the room disposing of the used bandages Calelon hadn't yet dealt with. "I will take over here Calelon, you go on ahead and speak with Lord Arahaelon and then you really must rest. I will call for you should there be any changes."

"Hannon-le dhes." Calelon mumbled before he washed his hands, smoothed his hair and made for Lord Arahaelon's study.

Thranduil would be fine in dhes' more than capable hands. She had been trained by Lord Elrond himself after all and was the Woodland realm's most powerful healer besides himself.

His most pressing concern was to get the Istari here – and soon. For Thranduil was perilously close to entering Mandos' Halls. It would take great strength – greater that even his and Lady dhes' combined – to pull the King back from the brink, to bring him back into the light. Calelon was not too prideful to admit that he had reached the end of his power and strength and that he needed outside help. He just hoped that Mithrandir's strength would be enough for the task, whilst he prayed that Aiwendil would be able to use his extensive knowledge of herb lore to come up with an ointment that would be of some use against burns caused by dragon fire. For the ones they had at the moment had made no difference at all to the wounds. They were all just as red, raw and blistered as the day Thranduil had first sustained them; and that along with the King's continued unresponsiveness and weakening fa were getting to be most worrisome.

Calelon continued along as he fervently wished that the council chambers and studies weren't three floors above the healing ward. He was so weary, a bone deep tiredness that came from having poured forth all the healing energy he could spare without endangering his own life.

Yet he would not rest until he had done all he could for his King, and he continued onward with renewed determination burning in his heart.

~o~

Four days later a wizened yet rather fidgety old man paced up and down in front of the Forest Gate. He alternated between stopping to peer out into the slowly brightening morning beyond the gate over the plains beyond and kneeling to give fond pats and ruffle the fur of his four legged companions.

The man knelt down again and this time brought out several carrots from a fold in his brown cloak and offered them up to his companions.

"Oh, late, late, late. Why, oh why is he always late. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear," the man stood up abruptly again before he resumed his frantic pacing. His large, long eared friends had made quick work of the carrots and he bent down to pet them again whilst he continued to fret.

"Always late - he is never on time. Oh dear, dear, dear."

"A wizard is never late. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.* You should know that by now Radagast."

The man garbed in brown shot up and spun round to look at the one who had spoken rather startled. He hadn't heard anyone approach and he certainly hadn't been expecting his long-time friend to appear from that direction – hence his gazing through the Forest Gate to the plains beyond. Still it mattered not – he was here now.

"Gandalf, you really should stop that sneaky habit of yours. Now come, come. Hop on. We have no time."

Radagast quickly gathered the extensive folds of his brown cloak and hopped aboard the sled tethered to his rabbit friends with an agility that belied his age.

He patted the seat behind him impatiently, "Hurry Gandalf we must hurry. The Elven King needs us. We must hurry."

"Yes," Gandalf murmured as he stroked his beard slowly a thoughtful look on his face. "The message from the good Lord Arahaelon was rather cryptic even for elves. The most I got from it was that Thranduil was in need of my strength. Though it was unclear why or what for."

Radagast nodded which made his scruffy brown hat flop around and threaten to fall off altogether.

"Yes my message was rather hard to read as well Gandalf. I think they have need for my herb lore."

"Curious indeed," Gandalf leant upon his staff before he fumbled with a pouch at his hip and pulled forth his smoking pipe.

"Nay Gandalf we must go. You cannot smoke now," Radagast deftly grabbed the pipe from Gandalf and stashed it in his own pouch.

"Thranduil needs us. Why we don't know exactly but we must make haste – that much was clear at least. And my rabbits will have us there by dusk. They're very fast you know. Rhosgobel rabbits. They can -"

"Yes, yes, the rabbits" Gandalf sighed, "I thought we were in a hurry Radagast."

"Oh. Yes. Quite right Gandalf," and he patted the space behind him once more and this time his grey clothed companion obliged him.

In matter of moments the Istari were off at dizzying speed down the Elf Path towards the Elven King's halls - each in their own way anxious to get there and find out exactly why they had been summoned.

TBC.
End Notes:
Adar – Father

Nethryn – Weavers (in this case think seamstresses)

Maethyr – (plural) warriors

Naneth – Mother

Daer-Adar - Grandfather

Hiril-nin - My Lady

Le fael – Literally: You are generous – Sindarin version of Thank you

Lasseg – Little Leaf – Family nickname for Legolas

Fa – Soul (Quenya)

Istari – (Plural of Istar) – Quenya for Wizards

Hannon-le – Thank you
Chapter 3 by KimicThranduilion
Legolas was having a bad morning. The seven days of grieving had passed and the realm was to resume all usual work and tasks today. Legolas was glad – he was itching for some form of normality again – the recent dread, gloom and despair that had pervaded the palace had become quite stifling. However, it seemed this simple wish would not be granted him.

First he had had Thanniel fussing, hovering and generally breathing down his neck at breakfast simply because he hadn't felt like eating very much. Granted he hadn't felt like eating very much for the past week, but still, there was no need to his former nanny to have made breakfast into such a huge ordeal. Legolas was only thankful that he had chosen to have the meal in his chambers and therefore no one else had been privy to the near war that had erupted over a simple thing as porridge.

Once he had finally eaten enough to get Thanniel to cease her needless fussing he had gone to get dressed – ready for a full day of warrior training only to see that his bow string had somehow snapped. Annoyed he had stalked off toward the armory in the hope of quickly grabbing a replacement and being on his way to training. It was not to be however, for as he walked across the barracks yard toward the armory he had been stopped and accosted by Lord Arahaelon.

And that had led him to where he was presently – in a stand-off with Lord Arahaelon over whether or not Legolas ought to attend warrior training.

"I just do not think you ought to return so soon. And come let us make this conversation a little more private. I was about to head back to the palace. You can accompany me."

Legolas grit his teeth impatiently, "The entire realm is returning to their work Lord Arahaelon – why must I be any different? Surely I ought to show an example as a member of the Royal family?"

"Walk with me."

Lord Arahaelon was firmer in his suggestion of accompanying him back to the Palace this time and with a long-suffering sigh Legolas obliged. A suggestion from Lord Arahaelon was as good as an order and resistance was futile.

Legolas followed alongside the taller ellon and tried his hardest to keep his face as neutral as possible, which proved somewhat difficult as he was rather aggravated at the forced leisurely stroll he was being made to take back to the palace. He'd only just left for pity's sake, and at the rate Lord Arahaelon was walking by the time Legolas managed to convince him to let him attend training he would be late. Which would then of course incur the wrath of today's trainer – archery master Lady Yal – an Avari elleth with a temper to rival his Adar's.

Legolas let out a slow, frustrated breath – it was going to be a very long day.

~o~

Rithel and Thanniel both looked up at the brusque knocking at the door to Thranduil's study and Rithel quickly gave the command to enter. She was surprised to see the very object of the discussion she had been having with Thanniel walk in alongside Lord Arahaelon. Legolas had a face like thunder, though Rithel could tell he was trying really very hard to look neutral. She made a mental note to help him learn to mask his emotions better. No elf's face ought to convey so much of what they thought.

"What brings you both here Lord Arahaelon? Lasseg?" Rithel sat up straighter behind her Adar's desk and hoped she did not look as much as an imposter as she felt. "I thought you were off to training Las?"

Legolas' face brightened instantly and he turned to Lord Arahaelon with a superior little grin. "See – Rithel expects me to attend my training. So what is your problem?"

"Legolas Thranduilion! You hold your tongue and show some respect for your elders and betters," Thanniel was quick to call Legolas on his rudeness. "How dare you? You will apologise to Lord Arahaelon this very instant."

"But Thanniel he -"

"But nothing Legolas. I will hear not another word from you until you apologise to Lord Arahaelon."

Rithel watched as her brother took a deep breath before whirling to face the object of his wrath and apologising. That done she was quick to get to the point and find out why Legolas had been brought before her in the first place.

"Lord Arahaelon besides his rudeness," Rithel paused to shoot Legolas a warning look, "is there a reason you have brought Legolas here?"

"Yes Riel indeed there is – I do not believe Legolas ought to return to training at present." Lord Arahaelon paused and looked at Legolas, "Please understand Legolas that I do not do this to annoy you. I'm just rather worried for you. You haven't been eating properly recently and you look tired."

Rithel scrutinized her baby brother; Legolas did look paler than usual and there was an air of tiredness about him. Not only that, she had just been speaking with Thanniel about Legolas' poor appetite since the maethyr had returned and in particular since he had found out that their Adar had been badly injured.

She bit her lip worriedly. These were two of the very first, milder signs of fading – lethargy and loss of interest in food. She had all the signs and symptoms of fading memorised after having had a long talk with Lady dhes.

These were signs that could be easily fixed however; and Rithel had really been hoping that a bit of exercise in the beautiful summer sun would help cheer Legolas and get him to work up an appetite. As she looked him over she could understand Lord Arahaelon's concerns for his welfare yet she felt that it would truly be best for Legolas to go to his training. The boy thrived out in the open and he had been rather cooped up of late – leaving the palace only to attend funerals. That was no way for someone with such a wild and free spirit to live for very long.

Rithel decided she would take Legolas' side – it would hopefully be the correct choice.

"I understand of course Lord Arahaelon – and I have been worried over you too Lasseg," and Rithel watched as her brother turned a dismayed face toward her. She continued unperturbed and faced Lord Arahaelon again, "however I feel it would be best in this case for Legolas to attend training. Hopefully it will give him an appetite and wear him out a little so that he will sleep soundly tonight."

Lord Arahaelon cast a doubtful look at Legolas at though weighing him up in his mind, "I simply do not want him to be injured due to tiredness… but I suppose it could do him some good."

Legolasfrowned, "I am right here; you need not act as though I weren't."

Rithel smiled at her scowling brother, "Well you ought not to still be here – lest you want to face the wrath of Lady Yal."

Legolas paled and with a hasty bow toward his sister and Lord Arahaelon he fled the room with a panicked look on his face that Rithel could not help but chuckle at.

"Right," Rithel grabbed hold of the rather large stack of papers in front of her, "I guess I had better get my day started too."

She looked down at the hefty amount of paper work and sighed, as she decided then and there that the life of a monarch was not for her.

Long may you reign Adar, Rithel prayed fervently, berio le Eru.

~o~

Legolas hurriedly rushed through the Palace annoyed at the fact he had to navigate the winding halls for the third time that morning – and he still had not grabbed that replacement bow string. He quickened his steps even more stopping short of breaking into a run as he murmured his apologies to those unfortunate enough to get in his way.

Finally, he made it out into the courtyard and made a dash across the enchanted bridge – he might just be able to make it on time and get his bow string if he ran now.

Again, it was not to be. It seemed he was doomed to faced Lady Yal's wrath this day.

He came off the marble bridge and rounded the corner ready to take off at full pelt when he was bowled over by something rather solid yet furry. Legolas blinked and pulled himself up into a sitting position and was startled to see a pair of large rabbits staring down at him. Before he could form a coherent thought he was interrupted by a familiar, friendly voice.

"Oh dear, oh dear. I am sorry. It's the rabbits you see they're -"

Legolas gasped in surprised before he interrupted the rambling man, "Aiwendil?"

"Ah young Legolas – just the elf. Come, you can lead us to Lord Arahaelon. No doubt your Adar will also wish to see us."

Legolas was even more startled to see the grey wizard appear behind his brown companion.

"Mithrandir?" he questioned as he finally stood to his feet, "What are you both doing here?"

Gandalf huffed as he gingerly stepped off the rabbit sled. "That's a fine way to welcome visitors young Thranduilion."

"Uh-um forgive me," Legolas gave a small bow to the Istari, "Mae govannen Mithrandir, Aiwendil – the Woodland realm welcomes you."

Gandalf snorted again and began to mutter about the hospitality of elves before he was interrupted by a frantic Radagast.

"No time Gandalf for formalities. We are in a great hurry."

Gandalf still looked disgruntled but waved a hand at Legolas none the less, "Lead on young Prince – take us to them."

Legolas froze unsure what to say in regards to his Adar; Lord Arahaelon had told him he was not to discuss the King's current health with anyone. But Mithrandir and Aiwendil were not just anyone – they were both long-time friends of his Adar.

"Well Legolas?" Gandalf prodded a lot more gently this time as though he could sense Legolas' inner turmoil.

"Um- you w- you won't be able to see Adar but I do know where Lord Arahaelon is; I will lead you to him."

Legolas lead them back across the enchanted bridge, stopped in the courtyard to hand over Aiwendil's precious rabbits to an eager groom before they continued onward.

"Mithrandir? Aiwendil?" Legolas slowed his steps so that the wizards were now on either side of him. "Exactly why have you come? And in such a hurry?"

Legolas cursed the way his voice sounded weak and worried yet he could not help it. He was worried. He hadn't really felt anything since he'd had news of his Adar's injuries yet his numb little bubble threatened to break now and he felt the beginnings of dread stir in the pit of his stomach. Somehow he had a feeling that the arrival of both Istari did not bode well for his Adar. Something was wrong, very wrong – something he had not been told of.

"Well," Gandalf pulled on his beard, "I'm not entirely sure – it was a rather cryptic message you see. The general idea was that your Adar had need of our help."

Radagast nodded his agreement even as his hat threatened to fly off his head.

Legolas swallowed and did his best to get his voice under control before he murmured, "I see."

It was he had feared then – things with his Adar went ill indeed if Lord Arahaelon had sent for them both with utmost haste.

They had reached their destination now – Lord Arahaelon's study – and Legolas tried hard to get a grip on the wildly spiraling fear that threatened to engulf him before he turned to face both wizards.

"I must attend training and I am terribly late as is – I will not join you."

Legolas gave a sharp rap on the door, and without waiting for it to be opened he announced both his guests before he gave them another bow and weak smile and all but fled down the hall.

He ignored the concerned voice of Mithrandir calling to him as he hustled back through the palace and toward the training fields. He did not notice the anxious and worried glances cast his way.

He could only feel his numb shell as it crumbled at last and all the feelings that he had hidden from came crashing down upon his young shoulders. His heart felt as though it would break – the thought of something terrible happening to his Adar – his only remaining parent was too terrible to think on. The thought of becoming an orphan smacked at him hard.

Nay, nay, Legolas shook his head as he broke into a run as he went outside once more. It could not happen - it would not – he had to be positive. He had to hope. His Adar was strong. Thanniel's words came to him again.

Be brave.

Stay strong.

Legolas calmed his breathing and squared his shoulders.

His Adar was strong and Legolas determined that he would be too.

~o~

Gandalf called out to Legolas' retreating back in vain as he wondered what ailed the young prince. Mention of them being here to see Thranduil had seemed to set him on edge for some reason. And the boy had seemed positively terrified when Gandalf had stated they had come to lend Thranduil their aid. The fear in his eyes had been impossible to miss.

Gandalf harrumphed. He was already tired of elves and their odd, cryptic and shifty ways. He was an Istar – it was he who was meant to confound them – not the other way around.

Gandalf pushed open Lord Arahaelon's door determined he would have some answers.

~o~

Lady Yal watched from the corner of her eye as the young Prince Legolas slipped into her class a full thirty minutes late. She turned to pin him with a glare and was about to let loose with her famous temper when she saw his eyes. Fear and heartbreak were clear within them for her to read; though she could tell he was doing his best to mask those feelings. Indeed, his face was blank yet the emotion shone through in his eyes. Nevertheless, it was her job to instill discipline in the future maethyr of the Woodland realm – regardless of title.

"You are late Thranduilion," she barked and raised a single dark eyebrow in a silent demand for an answer.

"I am sorry Hiril-nin," Legolas kept his eyes appropriately downcast and his head bowed. "Lord Arahaelon had need of me and then I had two guests to attend. Still I know there is no excuse for tardiness and again you have my full apologies."

"I understand your position Thranduilion," at that Legolas raised his head and eyes and looked her full in the face and the fear and sadness she saw in those bright blue eyes gentled her tone. "Still I cannot accept tardiness, you are correct – so there will be laps around the training grounds for you after this session is done."

"Yes Hiril-nin."

"Now warm up whilst you watch this demonstration."

Lady Yal's voice rang loud and clear across the training ground as she effortlessly and rather mindlessly demonstrated the technique to her young warriors-in-training. She had done it so many times over the centuries she knew the demonstration like the back of her hand.

Yet that was not the only reason for her absent mindedness. She pondered the look the young Prince had in his eyes – he seemed so fearful, so sad. Had the condition of the King worsened? For everyone knew by now that the King had been injured in the battle. What no one knew however was the extent of his injuries; though she herself had presumed they were fairly serious when he made no appearance at the memorial service for his fallen troops.

Her eyes momentarily flicked upward to where the Royal flags still fluttered at half-mast in the distance. That in itself was unusual – the flags should have been raised again when the black and white mourning flags had been removed.

Lady Yal ended her demonstration and called up the first of her students to have a try. As she did so her eyes again fell upon the Prince and she could not help but wonder what he knew, what he had been told this morning that gave him such a sorrowful look. If anyone knew why the Royal flags still flew at half-mast it would be Legolas – and if one were to go off the abject look in his eyes – well – things did not look good for the King. Not at all.

Lady Yal sent up a silent prayer to all the Valar – she would hate to see the realm lose its King; but even more than that she would hate to see one of her most promising students lose the only parent he had this side of the Sundering Seas.

Elbereth please, she prayed, please watch over our King.

~o~

Gandalf looked upon the ruined face that supposedly belonged to his long-time friend. He understood perfectly now just why Lord Arahaelon had had such urgent need of their help. Gandalf sighed as he wondered just where to begin. Radagast and the Royal healer Calelon were in the apothecary putting together powerful painkillers and salves yet Gandalf just stared as he contemplated the grievous injuries before him.

The facial burn was the most grievous of all the burns the elven King had sustained and stretched from eyebrow to chin. It also covered Thranduil's left eye which had a frosted, vacant look to it and Gandalf wondered sadly if the eye would ever be of any use to its owner again. Melted, waxy looking flesh gave way to raw red muscle some of which had been burned away to expose the stringy, pale pink sinew beneath. The area over Thranduil's cheek was particularly bad, held together by only two strands of exposed sinew, and all that was only his face.

There were further lighter burns all down the left side of Thranduil's torso before they came to an end at the King's hip. Though lighter and seemingly less damaging Gandalf knew that dragon fire was dragon fire, and even those lesser burns would give Thranduil hell in terms of pain. Wounds from dragon fire were also notoriously difficult to heal and were one of the few things that could permanently scar an elf.

He sighed again and pursed his lips before he gave a weary tug on his beard. At last he put a hand on Thranduil's brow and felt for the King's fa. He was not happy with what he felt.

Thranduil was far away indeed – it was no wonder that even the combined efforts of the Wood's two strongest healers hadn't been enough to call their King back. Thranduil was deep in shadow, fa wandering very near to Lord Nmo's Halls.

They had come not a moment too soon.

Gandalf would deal with the wounds after – Thranduil's fa took priority. Placing both hands upon the King's chest Gandalf called forth his power and he begun to call back Thranduil's weakened, deeply injured fa into the light.

~o~

With a start Thranduil became aware of a voice. Soft, gentle and caring.

It sounded muffled and he strained to hear it more clearly when he became aware of a small, faint red light. That immediately grabbed his attention and voice was forgotten as Thranduil began to follow the light. It seemed forever since he had been here, wherever here was, alone in the darkness. The light immediately enchanted him and he followed it willing.

He was so fixed on the light that he did not notice his surroundings as they got lighter and lighter.

He did not notice that the pitch black darkness got less oppressive as he continued to follow the light upwards.

He did not notice inky black tendrils as they unwillingly gave up their possessive grip on him.

He did not notice as the cold that rivalled the Helcarax began to dissipate into a genteel warmth.

He did notice the pain.

It was sudden and sharp and immediately pulled him out of the trance like state he had been in whilst focused on the light. It tore across his face like a giant fiery claw and Thranduil let out a soundless scream. He struggled as all of a sudden he noticed he was no longer in the nameless, dark, pain-free void. The light no longer appealed and he fought to sink back down into the black, numb oblivion.

Yet he could not. The red light was stronger now and seemed to draw him toward it of its own accord. Thranduil did not want to follow it – for now it felt as though flame licked across this face and upper half. It burned terribly and the pain was overwhelming. The heat was like nothing he could recall feeling before. It was as though someone had dipped the top half of him into Orodruin itself.

Thranduil gave another pained yet soundless cry sure that he would soon be overwhelmed and die.

Just then the red light flared then glowed brightly and enveloped him in warmth. A real genuine warmth – not the fierce fiery pain he had just felt. In fact his pain eased and slowly began to flow away.

All of a sudden Thranduil felt relaxed. Warm. Contented. And then – he was finally, blessedly, pain free once more.

The voice he had first heard was there again – stronger and clearer now.

"…tolo dan nan galad."

Thranduil recognised the voice just before he lost his brief struggle against the sleep that swiftly overtook him.

Mithrandir.

~o~

Gandalf sighed in relief as Thranduil shifted into a natural sleep rather than the death like unconsciousness he had previously been in. It had been hard to watch the elven King struggle and writhe in pain as Gandalf dragged his soul and consciousness back into the light. It had evidently been a excruciating experience for Thranduil as both Radagast and Calelon had been needed to hold the King down as he had flailed about madly.

Still at least Thranduil was back with them now – and Gandalf was determined to see that it stayed that way. He would not see the Woodland realm lose its greatest King.

"You may let him loose for he sleeps naturally now," Gandalf nodded his thanks to both Radagast and Calelon. "Please show some haste with those herbs – he will awaken again and his pain will be terrible."

The two hustled off to finish their potions and Gandalf hummed quietly to himself and brushed a loose strand of ash blond hair from Thranduil's sweat dampened brow.

The worst was not yet over for Thranduil, the Istar mused darkly. Indeed, it had only just begun.

TBC.
End Notes:
Ellon – Male elf

Elleth - Female elf

Adar – Father

Lasseg – Little Leaf – Family nickname for Legolas

Riel – Princess

Maethyr – (plural) warriors

Berio le Eru – May Eru protect you

Istari – (Plural of Istar) – Quenya for Wizards

Mae Govannen – Well met

Hiril-nin - My Lady

Fa – Soul (Quenya)

Tolo Dan Nan Galad – Come back to the Light
Chapter 4 by KimicThranduilion
Radagast chanted slowly over the final potion before him and watched as it slowly turned a pale blue colour. TheIstar nodded, it was ready at last.

The brown wizard turned to face the bed in which his close friend Thranduil lay. Calelon had just finished applying the second of the three salves they had prepared for the King's grievous burns, whilst Gandalf sat on a chair in the far corner of the room as he recovered from his recent exertion of power.

Radagast padded over to him slowly, pot of pale blue potion in hand. "Erm…Gandalf? I…my potion is made but it will need you to activate it once it's been applied." Radagast cocked his head to the side and studied his grey companion, "Are you recovered yet Gandalf? As we need to activate the potion straight away once applied."

"Yes, yes," Gandalf muttered as he sat up straighter in his chair and then motioned for Radagast to proceed.

"Ah yes…right."

Radagast walked until he stood above Thranduil and looked down at him. He was burned so very badly – Radagast could not even begin to imagine the pain the elven King would have gone through. Radagast continued to stare down at him sadly – very few knew it but Thranduil often sought him out, and where others often took him for a bumbling fool Thranduil had a healthy respect for him. As such Radagast had taught the elven King much about herb lore and how to harness and use green magic – he had even helped the King set the spell upon the Enchanted River. Over the centuries they had become unlikely but firm friends and he would not let his friend suffer any longer.

Determined, Radagast stepped up and first called the healing chant to memory – it had been a good few centuries since he had needed to use such a strong healing song. The first part of it – his part - was to be sung in Sindarin with the second part –Gandalf's – to be sung in the high tongue of Quenya. He went over the lines in his head a few times and once certain he had it correct he began to work his way around Thranduil's bed as he applied the potion and sung the chant.

"Ceven dhaer, anno vellas ln enin 'raw hen…"

With each application of the potion Radagast pushed a little surge of power into Thranduil. He hoped it would help strengthen and sustain the King against the next step in the process.

At length the last wound was tended to and Radagast cast a weary glance over to Gandalf to see if he was ready to step in. It seemed he had perhaps pushed a bit too much of his own strength into Thranduil, but if it would help his friend then Radagast did not regret it one bit.

"I have done my half Gandalf – now for your turn. Oh, do, do hurry Gandalf, we haven't much time to activate it."

"Yes, yes, I know – keep your hat on."

~o~

Gandalf rolled his eyes heartily at his brown robed companion. Really did Radagast think he had a hearing problem? He had heard him the first time and was fully prepared to do his part – even if he had not looked it.

With one last irritated tut Gandalf stoop up and stretched forth his left hand – the hand that held Narya - over Thranduil's prone form.

"Hold him steady now Radagast, Calelon – I do not know how much this may hurt him."

The two did as instructed and satisfied Gandalf immediately began. Radagast did have a reason to fuss – the time span between the first and second part of this healing procedure needed to be kept to a minimum for it to have maximum effect.

"Nrendur pusta…"

The once pale blue potion began to glow and slowly turn a pale red with each word intoned by Gandalf. Thranduil stirred slightly mouth parting as his breaths began to come faster and harsher. He did not thrash, only flinched from time to time as a small frown worked its way onto his face. So far so good, thought Gandalf as he moved deeper into the chant. Maybe, just maybe Thranduil would come out of this without much pain on his part. Gandalf certainly hoped so – the elven King had already suffered enough.

" ruc s Nrendur… tra cotumolya…"

The glowing continued until the potion turned fully red and it was at this point that Thranduil began to move much more forcefully. He bucked and thrashed as he turned his head from side to side and began to groan.

Gandalf forced himself to focus and sang on, "Nrendur pusta…"

The potion was a deep ruby red now and its glow spread so that it encompassed Thranduil's body fully. Thranduil unfortunately chose this moment to wake up and scream. The scream was one of pure agony and deep pain yet Gandalf hardened his heart to it and continued on regardless. This was for Thranduil's own good – it would help him in the end.

Gandalf stood firm and continued to focus as he called forth the evil that made dragon fire burn so terribly. The level of power he used threated to lift the illusion that kept Narya a hidden secret and Gandalf upped his concentration again as he struggled to get the power balance right. No one save Cirdan, Lady Galadriel, Lord Elrond and of course Radagast knew he held an elvish ring of power and Gandalf had no intention of letting that information become public knowledge.

He struggled for a moment before he finally struck the right balance and continued with his chant.

" ruc s Nrendur…"

Thranduil screamed all the more, bucked and thrashed so wildly that had it not been for Radagast and Calelon he would have fallen from the bed. He was more than fully awake now, though his eyes were rolled back in his head as he writhed and shouted in agony. Gandalf simply gave thanks that the walls of Thranduil's stronghold were thick enough to save any passing wood elf from hearing their King scream in tortured anguish.

They were nearly at the end now; the glow around Thranduil had all but disappeared and the potion slowly returned to its original pale blue colour as the malevolent sting of dragon fire let loose its hold upon Thranduil's tender skin. For an ancient healing spell that Gandalf had used but once before it had gone rather well; the evil that lingered in the burns had heeded the will of Narya – master of all fire – and fled.

Now Thranduil's body would have a chance at healing. True, there was much more work to be done on him and he would face a lengthy recovery alongside unsightly scars but at least the slimy evil of dragon fire would not hinder him in his progress – would not drag him back into the abyss.

Finally Gandalf pulled back his hand and all but slumped to the floor in exhaustion. It had been a long time indeed since he had had need to call on so much of Narya's power and he felt utterly drained. Still - he pulled himself back up – Thranduil had not yet stopped his anguished wailing and he still trashed violently against his brown companion and the Royal healer.

Gently and mindful of the burns that had nearly eaten away the King's face, Gandalf tenderly cupped the unburned side of Thranduil's face and held him steady.

Thranduil tried to move his head but Gandalf's gentle yet strong hold prevented him from doing so, though the King did not cease in flailing his body.

"Sdh, sdh, Oropherion – heed my voice and calm yourself."

Thranduil's thrashing eased only a fraction whilst his one clear eye roved the room – fear and confusion easy to see in the ice blue orb.

"I need…I need – no, no, no…" Thranduil's voice was no more than a whisper, hoarse from screaming and smoke inhalation as he tried desperately to move his head so he could look around but Gandalf held him still.

"Look at me Oropherion, look at me – be calm," Gandalf soothed. "You are not on the battle field now. Sdh mellon-nin."

Slowly Thranduil stopped his writhing and Gandalf gently angled the King's head so that he could look him in the eye.

"Just focus on me mellon-nin – you are at home now – the battle field is left far behind. You are injured but we will help you," Gandalf intoned slowly and calmly.

The grey wizard could sense Thranduil's great unease and panic had not calmed in the slightest as he continued to look frantically round the room. With a sigh Gandalf stroked his ash blonde hair – if he could just get Thranduil to focus, to calm himself and just focus on him things would go a lot smoother.

Gandalf tried to soothe the elven King again, "Me Oropherion – forget about looking around the room. Just calm yourself and look at me."

Instead of calming Thranduil got even more agitated as his one clear eye continued to dart from direction to direction and he bucked hard against Calelon and Radagast as he tried his utmost to sit up.

"Where Mithrandir?" Thranduil's hoarse voice was steeped in panic.

"Where are you? Mithandir? I can't… I can't see!"

~o~

Thranduil knew he sounded panicked, frightened even – but he did not care. He could not see.

He. Could. Not. See.

Black - black was everywhere even though Thranduil knew very well that his eyes were wide open. He could hear Mithrandir speaking to him, telling him to be calm yet he paid him no mind as he tried again to sit up in spite of the pain in his body only to find himself being held down firmly and he had no strength left to try again. Instead he keep moving his eyes – up and down, round and round, left and right hoping against hope – but still there remained just blackness.

Complete and utter darkness.

Thranduil jerked his head free of Mithrandir's grip at last and let it lay on the pillow in exhaustion as he let the fact that he could not see sink in. He tried his best to calm, willed his rapidly beating heart back to a normal pace and at last let out a long shaky breath. He stared hard into the inky blackness and felt a single tear slip from his right eye.

He. Could. Not. See.

The words spun round and round in his mind and Thranduil felt another tear slide free. It came from his left eye that time, stung horrifically and caused more tears to spring to eyes. Thranduil tried, tried hard to blink them away but each blink only confirmed his plight. Whether his eyes were closed or open the darkness remained.

"Leave me," Thranduil cringed to hear the soft weakness of his voice and tried to steady it. "Leave me now."

"B-but Aran-nin I really need to…"

"Calelon, Mithrandir and…Aiwendil – it is you right? I can feel your presence. Please leave…I…I need…"

"Nay Oropherion we are not leaving you," Thranduil could hear the concern in the grey wizard's voice. "We have only just dragged you back from the brink – what you need is to let Calelon take a look at you. Starting with your eyes, we will do everything to help you Thranduil…"

Thranduil cut him off, "What? What will you do Mithrandir? If my sight is gone then it is gone – there will be no help and I…I…"

The King found himself choked by a sob and took a great heaving breath before he continued, "Just leave me please – I need…I need a moment. Go."

"Th-Thranduil…" Aiwendil's voice sounded soft and broken but it could not match just how broken Thranduil felt inside at that moment.

"Come," Calelon's smooth calming voice interrupted the brown wizard, "We will leave but only for a moment Aran-nin. Then I must come back and tend you and check over your sight. The sooner I begin the more chance we may have of saving it."

Thranduil only gave a soft snort which gave way to a near silent sob. The door clicked shut behind the three and for the first time since his beautiful wife's death Thranduil loosened his iron grip on his emotions and gave them free reign.

Grief, pain, fear and despair all freely flowed forth.

And the elven King cried.

~o~

Legolas glared at his arrow that had gone so clearly astray. Why could he not get this right? He was usually so good in his archery lessons and it was rather aggravating that he was so off today.

"Right all - that's it for today. You are dismissed but I recommend that you all seek the training grounds before our next lesson together and get some practice in." Lady Yal chuckled, "Some of you definitely need it."

Legolas huffed and stalked over to collect his wayward arrows – they had all been so off the mark – how embarrassing.

"Las."

Legolas turned to see his three best friends as they too gathered their arrows.

"Valar Las you were quite off today," Aeglosson stated as he plucked one of Legolas' arrows from a nearby hedge and handed it to him.

"Do not remind me," Legolas pouted as he accepted another awry arrow from Tauriel. "I am surprised Lady Yal did not call me out on it."

Faervel gave him a small encouraging smile, "It was not so bad Las – Aeglosson exaggerates as ever. After all it is only our first time trying this technique."

"Yes but no one was quite as bad at it as me today," Legolas could not shake his annoyance.

"Well it's over for now – doubtless you will practise yourself silly before the next lesson and show us all up then." Tauriel smiled at him, "Now are you coming for lunch?"

"Yeah," Aeglosson piped up. "My Naneth packed us up a huge lunch back at mine. She said we were welcome to come and take it after practice and head out for a picnic."

"Uh I don't think -" Legolas cut himself off as he felt the ominous presence of Lady Yal behind him.

"Going somewhere Thranduilion? If I remember you have laps to do for me."

Legolas spun slowly on his heel before he dipped into a quick bow, "Of course Lady Yal. I will begin them now."

The Prince turned to look at his friends apologetically, "Sorry mellyn – you go on ahead and enjoy."

"Will you join us later? We can wait for you." Faervel was ever the nice one.

Legolas gave him a quick small smile before he shook his head – no. He would have loved to go on a picnic with his friends and he knew they would have waited for him. After all it would not take him overlong to get through Lady Yal's punishment. But Legolas wanted to get back home – he had decided to face his fears and accost one of the adults in his life and get them to tell him the truth about his Adar. He needed to know; twas the reason he had been so off his aim during the lesson and Legolas knew he could not function properly whilst he was so in the dark about his Adar.

"Nay – I am to head straight back to the palace after this, Lord Arahaelon's orders," Legolas fibbed when he saw that his friends looked as though they would protest.

"Oh – ok – I guess we'll see you tomorrow then Las."

Legolas nodded, quashed his guilt at the lie and waved goodbye before he followed after Lady Yal to begin his laps.

He would use his punishment time to get his head clear and straight before he confronted either Rithel, Thanniel or Lord Arahaelon. Physical exertion and fresh air always helped him feel better and think more clearly and already this morning he had managed to work off most of the cloying fear from earlier that morning that had near crippled him. He would be brave, he would be strong and he would find out the truth about his Adar.

~o~

Thranduil lay perfectly still and emotionally drained. He had gained a hold of himself, ceased his weeping and now waited patiently for the expected return of Calelon. The time of his grief was done. He was King and he had to move on. Or at the very least try.

He sighed as he continued to blankly stare into nothing. He thought that the darkness in his right eye had lightened somewhat to a more dull grey; then again it was likely his overly hopeful imagination showing him what he most wanted just then.

Valar how he wanted it. For this to all be some form of shock or something that he would recover from and regain his full sight. Yet Thranduil was nothing if not a realist. He knew that this tale had a very slim chance of a happy ending; whilst he had sobbed he had reached up to wipe at his eyes and… well… half of his face seemed to be missing. He had jerked his hands back in shock and agony as his raw skin protested at being touched but not before he had gained a glimpse of how much of a wreck his face was.

Slowly Thranduil began to take stock of the rest of his body and started by wiggling his toes. He moved upward, bit by bit, wincing a little as he felt a painful area on his hip. The further up he went the worse the pain seemed to get and Thranduil found himself gasping at it. Finally he was back up to his face again and the elven King braced himself as he lifted a shaky hand in readiness to touch it. He wanted detail – to know just how badly he was maimed.

"I would not do that if I were you Aran-nin or I fear you will come to regret it. The wounds are still very fresh and will be very tender."

Thranduil stilled then let his hand drop slowly to his side at Calelon's voice.

"How bad is it? My face Calelon – how bad?"

A weary sigh left the Royal healer before, "Quite bad. Now here, drink this it will help your pain."

Thranduil forced himself to swallow the vile drink set to his lips before he ground out another question. "Quite bad tells me nothing Calelon. Tell me this instead – will I be able to face others again without them fleeing in terror at the sight of me?"

Another deep sigh, "You will have to learn how to hold a glamour spell in place – and a powerful one at that."

Thranduil's heart sank, "That bad?"

"Yes Aran-nin that bad. Even once you heal your face will never be the same – not this side of the Seas. I am sorry. Now may I have a look at your eyes and conduct a few tests? Your looks I can do nothing for but your sight I may well be able to save."

"Of course."

Thranduil lay still and tried not to flinch as he felt Calelon's cool hands upon him, but it was difficult. The pain in his face was unbearable even with the painkiller he had taken and it was not long before Thranduil flinched away from the Royal healer's touch with a gasp.

"I am sorry Aran-nin, this will hurt and I wish I could put you to sleep or give you something stronger for the pain but I need you awake for this part of the procedure. I apologise in advance for any pain I cause you."

"Worry not Calelon – do as you must. Tis doubtful that I would be able to find rest anyway."

"But you must Aran-nin for tis the only way you will recover."

"Hmm," Thranduil gave a non-committal grunt.

Unless Calelon drugged him Thranduil knew he would not find rest. Already the burden of his Kingship began to crowd him as he tried to recall his last memories. How had he gotten here from the battle field? And what of his maethyr? How had they fared? Had they won? Or had his and his people's suffering been in vain?

Thranduil scrunched his face up both at the pain of being examined and as he tried desperately to call forth his memory. Alas for him all remained as dark as his sight currently was. He could remember nothing.

"I cannot remember."

"That is expected – do not worry over much at this stage. After all Mithrandir had to call you back from the very brink of Mandos. It will be a few days until anything comes back to you."

Mandos? So that had been where the dark place was, Thranduil mused. He had been badly off indeed.

Thranduil hissed as he felt Calelon lift the lid on his sore left eye and decided to keep speaking to distract himself from the pain as well as catch up on what had gone on in his realm since whenever it was he had been knocked out.

"How long have I been asleep?"

"Nine days."

"Nine days? Elberethabove!" Thranduil had not expected that, "I take it Lord Arahaelon has assumed position as Regent?"

"Yes Aran-nin with Riel Rithel at his side. Along with the help of Br they seem to have everything under control. And worry not we were victorious over the dragon scum – you cut down the last one that charged our forces. The Serpants of the North have been routed and the realm is safe."

Thranduil tried his hardest to remember the battle – to call to mind how it had gone yet still nothing came to him and he cursed under his breath.

"Sdh Aran-nin you will get a full report from the war council eventually and it will all return to you then if not before. If it eases your mind now however I am told that all the dragons were slain apart from one slug which managed to make good its escape."

Thranduil tensed at that news before Calelon soothed him again.

"There have been watches set day and night my Liege – if that dragon were to show its face again we are well prepared."

Thranduil felt himself relax a little. Arahaelon was wise – he would ensure the realms safety whilst Thranduil recovered.

Any sense of relaxation quickly left Thranduil and he very nearly screamed as he felt pain tear trough the left side of his face and Calelon hastily apologised.

Struggling not to whimper Thranduil asked after his warriors. "How have the maethyrfared? How many wounded? How many deaths?"

"Aran-nin I do not think -"

"How many?" Thranduil was pleased with the strength he managed to get into the question.

Calelon gave that great, weary sigh again. "Too many. The numbers of wounded are so great that we have had to open the lower emergency healing halls in order to tend to them all."

"And the deaths?"

"Also far too many. Twenty five arrived here already dead and a further five joined them. My staff have worked very hard but could do nothing for them."

"Of course - I have every faith in all thenestryn," Thranduil was quick to assure.

"Le fael Aran-nin. There remain another five warriors perilously close to Mandos but again I assure you my staff will do everything in their power to keep them in the land of the living."

"I know and I thank you and your healers for all you have done and continue to do."

Thranduil meant it. His people were often mocked as 'less wise' but they were in fact very skilled in herb lore and medicines; he knew he could rest assured that his warriors would receive the best medical care possible outside Imlardris.

Satisfied that he knew what he needed to know regarding the realm Thranduil asked the last question he was dying to have answered. He would have asked it beforehand but he was a King first and a father second. It was sad but a fact of his position.

"What of my children? You mentioned Rithel was aiding Lord Arahaelon but what of Legolas? How do they both fare? Do they know the extent of my injuries?"

"Riel Rithel has been nothing but exceptional – a pillar of strength to the people; she has done the name of the Royal House of Oropher proud. Ernil Legolas too has been most brave for someone so young. Both he and Riel Rithel attended every funeral in your place. Riel Rithel alone however knows the extent of your injuries – Thanniel, Lord Arahaelon and the Princess deemed Ernil Legolas too young for all the details."

Thranduil attempted to nod before he swiftly abandoned the agony inducing action, "I see. Thank you for filling me in Calelon, it is most appreciated."

"You are most welcome my Liege," and Thranduil could hear as the Royal healer pottered around with something before Calelon moved closer to his bedside again.

"I have finished my examination of your eyes and face now Aran-nin. I will begin to bandage your wounds now and I think it will be best if you are asleep for that part."

Thranduil felt himself gently propped up before the cool rim of a glass was pressed to his lips for the second time.

"This will help you sleep and contains stronger medicine for your pain Aran-nin; the more rest you get the faster and easier your recovery will be."

Thranduil lifted a trembling hand and slowly pushed the glass aside. "Do not try and put me to sleep without first telling me your findings Calelon. What of my eyes? My sight?"

"As you wish Aran-nin – I believe in your right eye you have what is called flash blindness. It is caused by exposure to high intensity light and heat. I will put some ointment directly into the eye itself which whilst uncomfortable will help greatly. It is my hope that you will have full vision in your right eye within the next two days."

Thranduil wanted to smile, grin and whoop for joy but he heard what Calelon had been very, very careful to say – his right eye. Calelon had spoken of his right eye only and not the left so instead Thranduil braced himself.

"That is good news indeed but I notice you have said nothing about the sight in my left eye."

Thranduil gulped as Calelon gave that heavy sigh that he had come to dread.

"I am so very sorry," Calelon began and Thranduil felt his heart sink in fear. "It will take a divine miracle from the hands of the Valar themselves for you to ever see even a smidgen of light in that eye. I am afraid Aran-nin that your left eye will never see again."

TBC.
End Notes:
Istar – Quenya for Wizard

Ceven dhaer, anno vellas ln enin 'raw hen - Great earth, may you give your strength to this body

Nrendur pusta – Servant of Fire halt (Quenya)

ruc s Nrendur – Flee now Servant of Fire (Quenya)

tra cotumolya - Face your foe (Quenya)

Sdh – Peace

Mellon-nin - My friend

Aran-nin - My King

Naneth - Mother

Mellyn – Friends

Adar – Father

Maethyr – (plural) Warriors

Riel – Princess

Nestryn – (plural) Healers

Le fael – Literally: You are generous – Sindarin version of Thank you

Ernil – Prince
Chapter 5 by KimicThranduilion
Legolas glared at Calelon as the older ellon stood stock still, arms folded across his chest and a firm frown upon his usually calm face.

"I am afraid I cannot grant you permission to see your Adar at present Ernil-nin," Calelon stood directly in front of the doors that Legolas so badly wanted to get through.

"Why not?" Legolas was all but growling at the royal healer now - he really was getting frustrated.

For the past three days Legolas had tried and failed to get any new information on his Adar. He had asked Rithel first thinking she would be most sympathetic to his plight but to his great surprise and annoyance she had given him the exact same spiel as Thanniel had before and she would not be moved from it nor had she answered any further questions from him. Rithel claimed to be just as in the dark as Legolas but the young Prince knew that to be entirely untrue. Still for the sake of not falling out with his big sister he had left the matter alone and instead gone to pester Thanniel.

The result was the same; Thanniel would not elaborate any further on his Adar's condition merely telling him that he ought not to worry, that his Adar was in good hands and that he should continue to keep being brave. Legolas had been unable to stop himself answering her sarcastically and they had ended up in a row. Indeed he had still been giving her the silent treatment this morning at breakfast.

Lord Arahaelon had been his last and final stop. Legolas had never wanted to go to his Adar's Regent; he was always so stern and grim faced and proper. He was sure the older ellon would tell him nothing new and he had not been disappointed. Lord Arahaelon told Legolas the exact same thing he had heard before from both Rithel and Thanniel. At that point Legolas had been enraged and ended up having yet another furious row - that time with Lord Arahaelon - which saw him grounded by the older ellon.

Legolas didn't really care – he'd hardly been going out since this had all started anyway – he was far too worried over his Adar and the potentially awful news that was being kept from him.

Finally Legolas had decided to something about it. If no one would give him an answer he would go and get one for himself.

And that brought Legolas to where he was now - just outside the private rooms in which his Adar currently resided in a standoff with Calelon. He had managed to sneak through the entire healing ward and had just been about to open the door when Calelon had opened it from the other side and looked quite shocked to see Legolas standing there. Calelon had swiftly shut the door behind him in a hurry before Legolas could even catch a glimpse of the room beyond. Legolas had demanded entry to see his Father and Calelon had denied him at once - so now here they were.

"I'm afraid he is asleep Ernil Legolas and cannot be disturbed just now. The more he sleeps the quicker he will get better."

Legolas pouted, "Well then can I come see him once he has woken up?"

"I am sorry Ernil-nin but it is for the best if your Adar has no visitors at all right now. He needs to be kept calm and stress free at the moment."

Legolas was in despair, "Why would seeing me stress him out? He is my Adar!"

Calelon gave a short shake of his head and began to speak again but Legolas interrupted him.

"Yes, yes I know what you will say Calelon – that you are sorry but I still can't see him and do you know what? That's just fine. I don't care anymore!"

With that Legolas turned on his heel and stormed off back up to his room. The young Prince bit his lip to keep the tears that threatened from spilling freely forth.

He felt so betrayed by everyone – Rithel, Thanniel, Lord Arahaelon and now Calelon.

Legolas threw himself onto his bed as he stomped into his bed chamber and at last let free his hot tears of frustration, anger and worry. He knew, he just knew that there was something gravely wrong with his Adar. The adults would not go to such lengths to keep him in the dark otherwise. Not only that but Mithrandir and Aiwendil were both still at the palace – had spotted them both the day before.

Legolas clenched his fists and buried his face in his pillows; he would never forgive any of them if something bad happened to his Adar.

Please Adar, he prayed, please, please be ok.

~o~

"…I don't care anymore!"

Thranduil clenched his fists in his bed sheets before he rapidly unclenched them when his singed skin protested such movement. It pained the elven King to hear his son so upset and it was all Thranduil's fault. For truthfully he could have visitors; he had just chosen not to and had instructed Calelon to keep everyone – Legolas included – at bay. The only ones he permitted to see him were Calelon, Aiwendil and Gandalf.

Thranduil really hadn't expected Legolas to turn up right at the very door to his private room on the healing ward. He would have to instruct Calelon to be a bit more vigilant; Legolas was wily and when he had his heart set on something he was not so easily dissuaded. Thranduil knew he would be back – anxious to see him and confirm that everything was alright with his Adar.

Thranduil frowned ever so slightly (too much facial movement hurt); everything was not alright. In fact things were as far from alright as they could be and hence Thranduil's refusal to see anyone just now. The elven King sighed as his thoughts turned to his current circumstances.

Thranduil was swathed in bandages from head to foot and he ached from head to foot. Valar how he ached. The pain varied from place to place on his body, from dull pain in his upper thigh to pure agony in his face. Not only that but his bandaged skin felt hot and way too tight, as if it were going to burst if he moved too much. That discomfort coupled with the pain his extensive burns caused him had seen Thranduil actually ask Calelon for one of his vile but potent pain killing brews. Thranduil had spent most of the past two days asleep and he doubted today would be any different. Already he could feel himself begin to be pulled under by the latest vile tea Calelon had given him.

Almost as if summoned by his very thoughts Calelon rested his hand on Thranduil's shoulder and spoke quickly to reassure his King. "Sdh Aran-nin tis only me."

Thranduil forced himself to relax and pretended to himself that he had not jumped when Calelon had touched his arm. He was still not used to not being able to see and so every time Calelon approached or touched him Thranduil near jumped out of his skin. The healer had the uncanny way of moving as silently as a wraith and due to his injuries Thranduil was having a hard time in sensing his presence. With the two Istar Thranduil could at least smell them – Mithrandir smelt of pipe weed whilst Aiwendil smelled of hay and rabbits. Calelon however smelt of the very healing ward itself and so always caught the King unawares.

"Calelon when will my senses return to me? You scare me half to death every time you approach."

The healer gave a small chuckle, "My apologies Aran-nin, believe me it is not my intention – I worked too hard to keep you out of Mandos. Your senses will return in time – your body is pre-occupied with healing itself right now and so your ability to sense the presence of others will naturally be somewhat diminished but do not fear. All will get better in time."

Thranduil snorted softly - bitterly, "You know that is not true Calelon. You yourself told me my left eye will never get better."

The Royal healer sighed as he began to fuss round Thranduil smoothing back his hair, straightening his bed sheets and fluffing his pillows. Calelon knew the King was still rather upset over the news of his blindness and the healer fell silent for a moment as he searched for the right words to say. He didn't want Thranduil to sink back into the silent depression that had enveloped him when the King had first heard the news.

"I stand corrected. Nearly everything that ails you now will get better in time. How is that Aran-nin?"

"Hn," Thranduil made a small non-committal noise. He did not want to focus on his loss of sight; it was best if he pushed those dark thoughts right to the very back of his mind. Not to mention he was really starting to feel the effects of the pain killing draught now. Instead Thranduil apologised for his son's rudeness, "I am sorry about Legolas – the boy can be given to fits of temper from time to time."

"Oh think nothing of it, after all such a thing is expected from any offspring of yours Aran-nin."

Thranduil could hear the teasing smile in Calelon's voice and rolled his eyes. He regretted the action immediately as a sharp stinging pain flared in both bandaged eyes. The elven King could not help the groan that slipped past his lips – the pain was so intense.

Calelon was there in a flash. "What? What is wrong Aran-nin?"

Thranduil grit his teeth against the burning agony and remained silent for a moment as he slowly mastered the pain.

"Aran-nin?"

"Do…do n… not panic… Calelon," Thranduil heaved a great shaky breath as he regained himself, "I merely rolled my eyes forgetting that they have been all but scorched by that accursed worm. I am well do not worry."

The healer made a disapproving noise, "That little habit of yours will need to be put on hold for now Aran-nin."

Calelon rested his hand upon Thranduil's brow and the King suddenly felt ten times sleepier as Calelon sent a gentle current of healing energy through him and greatly eased his pain. This time Thranduil surrendered to the feeling completely and allowed pain free sleep to wash over him.

~o~

Flames. Flames were everywhere and no matter which direction, which corner, which nook or cranny Thranduil turned to flee in he could not escape them.

Some a brighter orange, others much darker, they leapt round him in a wild dance determined to devour him whole. Determined to incinerate him. Thranduil saw the smallest of gaps and ran hard for it, twisting and turning this way and that as the flames all shot out toward him desperate to reach him, to set him alight. Still Thranduil ran – he could see his maethyr, his army – just there, just through there, just a little more and he would make it. He could hear their voices – crying out for him, calling him back to them – back to flame free safety. He was almost there….

Suddenly with an almighty crash his way was blocked and the elven King could no longer see his elves; instead there were flames in the mammoth shape of a dragon burning brightly and wickedly. Thranduil felt his heart sink as he looked round frantically for any opening, any way of escape. But there was none – the long, flame wreathed, serpentine body of the leering beast had encircled him completely and the elven King felt despair, dread and horror roll though him in wave after sickening wave.

The flame dragon gave a horrid, sneering smile then opened its mouth wide – directly aimed at the elven King.

Thranduil screamed.

~o~

"Sdh, sdh Oropherion. Nothing can harm you here, you are well in your Halls and you are safe. Come now awaken and leave the nightmares behind."

Gandalf placed a cool hand upon the elven King's sweat soaked brow – one of the few parts of him not swathed in bandages – as he tried to coax Thranduil awake. It was clear he was caught in some nightmarish vison.

"Awake, awake Oropherion, awake and see that you are on the battle field no longer. Come now."

Gandalf pushed a small wave of calming energy through the hand on Thranduil's brow and heaved a sigh of relief as the King at last seemed to awaken. Gandalf kept up the little stream of energy until he saw that Thranduil's breathing had evened out and was gentle again – no longer the great heaving, panicked breaths he'd been taking.

"M…Mith…randir?" Thranduil's voice sounded weak and it cracked in places due to disuse and dehydration.

"Yes it is I Oropherion, now remain perfectly still," Gandalf placed a gentle hand on Thranduil's chest to stop the weak struggles of the King to sit up. "Remain still – do not try to move and undo all the good work Calelon has done."

"Ca..le..lon?" Thranduil rasped and Gandalf frowned at the state of the elven King's usually strong and commanding voice.

The Istar left the King's side, went over to the large sideboard and poured out a small glass of water, "You sound in dire need of a drink Oropherion."

Thranduil made no reply, only turned his head ever so slightly toward the wizard and Gandalf decided to take that as agreement. The Istar rested the glass upon the bedside table closer to Thranduil and then slowly and cautiously began the rather difficult task of manoeuvring the King so that he was no longer laid flat on his back but instead in a more upwards position that would enable him to drink the much needed water.

It was certainly a delicate task that required numerous pillows and the utmost care. Calelon had left Gandalf in charge after finally being persuaded to take some much needed rest and Gandalf was determined that Thranduil would not have a relapse under his care. Still, despite his best efforts every inch that Gandalf moved Thranduil - slowly propping him up with pillow after pillow - saw the elven King stiffen in pain or give a soft agonised gasp.

It took seemingly forever for Gandalf to get Thranduil into a low sitting up position and by then Thranduil was panting hard, breath coming in harsh, pained gasps.

"Sorry, I am sorry that it hurts so much Thranduil," Gandalf rested his hand on the panting ellon's brow and sent another wave of healing energy into him. "Here, you can have a drink now."

That too turned into another long, agonised task as most of the water splashed uselessly down past chapped lips unable to properly function on the left side. Gandalf realised then his mistake but it was too late – Thranduil was already caught in another wave of pain as the cold water soaked through his bandages and onto his still raw and wounded skin which sent sharp jolts of pain through him.

Gandalf had been hard pressed then to get the elven King to stay still rather than writhe in agony; the task was only accomplished in the end due to the aid of the Istar's rapidly dwindling healing energy.

At last Gandalf prepared another glass and moved back the King's bedside.

"Right Oropherion – your drink. I promise not to bathe you with it this time round."

"Hn," Thranduil gave a small grunt but his lips were quirked up into the very tiniest of smiles and Gandalf felt himself relax.

It hurt to see his long-time friend (and verbal sparring partner) laid so low in agony and Gandalf had been mortified to be the cause of further pain; so to see Thranduil's dry sense of humour was still intact was met with relief by the Istar.

"Right…" Gandalf mumbled more to himself that the ellon before him. The wizard dipped a spoon into the cold and now drugged laced water and began the task of easing his friend's thirst.

~o~

Thranduil let himself be spoon fed the cool, refreshing water that his parched throat had been crying out for. It was a huge indignity of course but he had no choice but to suffer through it; being spoon fed was far better than trying to make his useless lips work properly and risking another dousing of painfully cold water.

The elven King could still feel the slight sting of it despite Mithrandir's healing efforts yet he made no mention of it for he knew the wizard felt badly for having caused him pain. So Thranduil simply made light of it, going so far as to dredge up a small smile to put Mithrandir at ease.

The cool metal of the spoon against his lips was Thranduil's signal to open his mouth again and he did so mechanically trusting Mithrandir to not spill it over him despite the earlier mishap.

Truth be told Thranduil's mind still reeled and was struggling to free itself from the memory of his fiery nightmare and he only paid half a mind to what was happening. The memory of the huge flame wreathed beast of his dreams was proving difficult to shake off and Thranduil was glad for the bandages that covered his eyes. Glad for the peace and privacy they afforded him as he tried to forget his rather terrifying dream. Perhaps he would be best off not sleeping for a little while lest the nightmare returned with a vengeance.

Yes, Thranduil decided – he would get Mithrandir to read to him for a bit once they were done to help take his mind off his dark dreams and relax him.

Almost as if on cue Mithrandir spoke up, "Just a little more and you will have finished the cup Oropherion. I would offer you more for I know you are thirsty but Calelon warned me not to give you too much too fast to begin with."

"Hn," Thranduil gave the small non-committal grunt that was his only pain free way of communicating. He would save his breath for asking Mithrandir to read to him.

After another few spoonfulls Thranduil felt a dense fog creep up on him from all corners of his mind. His head felt decidedly fuzzy and his body as though it were about to float right off the bed. The King puzzled this out for a minute or three growing increasingly frustrated as he just could not seem to keep hold of one thought before it slipped straight into another. It was most befuddling not to mention aggravating and soon Thranduil struggled to remember what he was trying to figure out in the first place.

He remembered only as the creeping fog in his mind began to affect his ability to keep his eyes open and then it hit him in a brilliant flash of sudden clarity.

Drugged. Mithrandir had drugged the water and intended to send Thranduil right back to sleep – the very thing the elven King did not wish to do so soon after his night terror.

Yet it was too late. Thranduil's eyes were now like leaden weights and as they slammed closed he knew he would not be able to open them again for some time. The fuzzy fog in his head grew all the thicker and unable to even berate the wizard for drugging him Thranduil slipped helplessly back into his sleep induced world of torture, gore and fire clad serpents.

~o~

Gandalf let the spoon drop with a clang into the now empty glass and eased himself back into his seat. His fingers twitched with the urge for his pipe. He had not had a smoke since he had first arrived in the Woodland realm and now that the fatigue that came with excessive use of his healing powers slowly crept up on him the Istar longed for a nice, deep drag on his pipe.

The urge would have to wait though until Calelon returned to watch over the now peacefully slumbering elven King.

Gandalf felt bad for taking the easy way out for both of them and drugging Thranduil back into oblivion but… Valar! It was so hard to watch the way the pain of the slowly healing injuries tormented Thranduil. Everything seemed to cause him pain – even the very bandages that were supposed to help seemed to cause the great King discomfort as they put pressure on his burns.

Nay Gandalf had been unable to face the rest of his watch over Thranduil knowing he would be in nothing but agony and had decided putting him to sleep would be kinder to them both. The wizard only hoped that this time round Thranduil would be sparred any nightmares.

Gandalf studied the nearly completely bandage wrapped ellon before him and sighed.

"Tough watch Mithrandir?"

Gandalf startled and turned to face the culprit with a small frown, "You really ought to stop sneaking about so much Calelon." The Istar harrumphed and glared when the other smiled back at him.

"Aran Thranduil has told me much the same."

"Well then you should heed him and stop walking round as silently as though you were a mere ghost," Gandalf grumbled annoyed at the fact he had all but fallen out of his chair with fright.

"I am sorry Mithrandir truly – it is never my intention to scare anyone – this is just how I walk. Silently."

Gandalf only tutted and made a disparaging remark about elves as he gathered his robes and stood more than ready to find some quiet elf free corner in which to smoke his pipe in peace.

The wizard turned to face the Royal healer, "To answer your question – yes. It was a bit of a difficult watch." Gandalf pulled out his pipe and stuck it in his mouth as he rummaged round in his deep pockets for his small bag of pipe weed.

"Oh how so?" Calelon inquired, anxious to hear what had caused the Istar to sigh so heavily and forlornly a few moments before.

Gandalf at last located the small bag in one of his numerous pockets and held it out triumphantly before his face fell as he focussed on Calelon's question. "Well to start with he had a nightmare…"

Calelon listened silently as Gandalf recounted his watch over the King.

"I see," Calelon frowned down at the sleeping King. "Well you have my deepest gratitude Mithrandir for watching over him for me but now I must get to work. I need to develop a stronger painkiller for when next the King awakens – after all we cannot keep him in a drugged slumber forever. I need to make something strong enough to keep his pain at bay without putting him to sleep."

Gandalf nodded and began to shuffle out of the room – he was really feeling the effects of having used such large quantities of his power in such a short span of time and even going off for a quick smoke now looked like more effort than it was worth. Perhaps he would just head for his bed.

"Peaceful watch Calelon."

"Thank you," the Royal healer held the door to the private room open for him and Gandalf nodded gratefully.

"Oh Mithrandir?"

Gandalf looked behind him wearily.

"Could you please send Aiwendil my way? His knowledge of herb lore would be most helpful."

Gandalf nodded and trudged off as the door clicked shut behind him. He really wanted – no needed - his bed; not to go tracking down Radagast. Yet he knew Calelon was right – no one knew herbs and their medicinal purposes better than the brown wizard. Together the two would most definitely be able to concoct something that would save Thranduil from the anguish he had had to face today and the thought gave Gandalf new energy.

If the end result was Thranduil no longer feebly writhing and hissing in pain then he could easily push aside his exhaustion.

The Istar put his pouch of pipe weed and his pipe back into his pockets mournfully as he trudged down the long winding corridor. He hadn't even the faintest idea where to find Radagast. The brown wizard was something of an enigma and completely a law unto himself. Gandalf hadn't seen him for hours and drew a blank for any ideas as to where his fellow might be in the sprawling palace.

Aha! He had spotted a way to find Radagast.

Gandalf stopped near a shadowy corner and peered into it, "You there - young Thranduilion – I have seen you so you may as well come out."

"H-how did you see me Mithrandir?" The young Prince Legolas poked his head fully out of the secret door he had been hiding behind.

"I am an Istar Thranduilion – that's how. Now come lest a guard or Calelon find you skulking about and you get into trouble." Gandalf grinned at the young ellon, "I have a task for you."

~o~

"I am already in trouble so it makes no difference to me. I think I shall stay here thanks."

Legolas crossed his arms and pouted a little; he was here to see his Adar not to go off on some wizard's wild goose chase. After the few hours of crying and being upset Legolas had decided to try and see his Adar once more and had snuck out of his rooms where he was supposed to be studying and used the secret passage ways to make it up to his Adar's private rooms in the healing wing. It had all been going so smoothly until Mithrandir had accosted him. Curse the sharp eyes of wizards.

Still the blonde Prince had made it this far and wasn't about to give up now, "Truly I'd love to help Mithrandir but I need to see my Adar – it has been far too long since I have seen him and I must know the truth."

Legolas immediately bit his lip and swiftly averted his suddenly stinging eyes. He had said far too much.

He was not nearly fast enough however for the Istar had caught sight of the deep emotion that swirled in the young elf's eyes.

"Calelon will not let you through Thranduilion. Have you not already tried this? Why do you think this time will be different?"

Legolas blinked his eyes rapidly to get rid of the traitorous tears that threatened and turned his back to the wizard. Deep down he knew the gentle words Mithrandir spoke were right – Calelon would not permit him to see his Adar.

But still….

Legolas blinked again and made to brush past the grey wizard, "I need to see him Mithrandir…or at the very least force Calelon to tell me the truth."

Mithrandir's surprisingly strong arm shot out and held him fast in an iron grip effectively stopping Legolas in his tracks.

"Don't make a scene Thranduilion – you know Calelon will tell you nothing nor will you get in through the doors. You will only cause a great deal of fuss and disturb your Adar who needs all his rest." The wizard gave the young Prince a gentle tug on the arm so that the blonde faced him again. "Help me and I will help you."

Legolas' head snapped up then and he stared hard at the wizard. "What do you mean Mithrandir?"

"My task – help me with it and I shall tell you all I know about your Adar – the whole truth and nothing but the truth may the Valar themselves help me."

Legolas gazed at the wizard – would Mithrandir truly tell him what he longed to know? And more than that would he tell the truth and not just sugar coat things?

Legolas voiced his doubts, "I mean no disrespect Mithrandir but why would you help me? All the other adults have done their best to keep me in the dark about Adar. Why would you tell me what they are desperate to hide?"

Legolas trained his bright blue gaze unwaveringly on the Istar who did not so much as flinch under the heavy (even for child) elven gaze.

"I will tell you because you deserve to know," Gandalf stated simply. It was true; the wizard did feel that the way the young elf had been kept in the dark was a bit cruel – he was old enough now to know the truth about his Adar especially since the King was now out of the immediate danger of heading into Mandos.

Legolas felt the tension drain from him at the wizard's simple admission and he gestured to the wizard, "Ok then…thank you Mithrandir. What is your task?"

The wizard gave him a small soft smile and pulled Legolas further under his arm in an almost one-handed hug.

"I need you to find Aiwendil for me," Gandalf used Radagast's elvish name uncertain if Legolas would know the other.

Legolas raised a neat eyebrow. "Is that all? For some reason I had thought your task would be difficult Mithrandir."

Gandalf shot the Prince that he still held close a glare and harrumphed. "I'll have you know Thranduilion that finding my brown counterpart is no mean feat. Especially not in this labyrinth you elves call a palace."

Legolas gave the other a cheeky grin before he slipped from under the wizards arm and out of his loose (and rather comforting) embrace.

"The palace is truly not that difficult to navigate Mithrandir…well if you have any sense of direction at all that is…" The Prince paused to dodge a cuff to the ears, "but besides all that Aiwendil is not even in the palace. Come, come Mithrandir I'll take you straight to him."

Legolas grabbed hold of the wizard's grey sleeve and tugged him back into the shadowy corner from whence he came – into the secret passage ways.

"Where are you taking me Thranduilion? Don't you know better than to drag an Istar? And where is Aiwendil if he is not in the palace?"

Legolas gave another cheeky grin before he pulled Gandalf into the dark passage and slipped the false panel shut behind them.

"Aiwendil is with his most precious rabbits of course – in the stables. Honestly Mithrandir, he has been there morning, noon, night and any time he has not been needed by Calelon. How could you not have noticed?"

Gandalf gave Legolas a gentle whack with his staff, "Don't be impertinent elfling…just lead on in this accursed darkness."

"Oh sorry Mithrandir – here I have a torch if you need me to light it. I forgot that you do not have elven sight."

Legolas tried not to snicker when the Istar snatched the lit torch from him grumbling all the while about rabbits, silly brown wizards and cheeky elflings. The Prince fell completely silent then – he really did not want to aggravate Mithrandir too much – he wanted him to tell him all about his Adar.

Legolas glanced behind him with the most apologetic look he could muster on his face. "I'm sorry Mithrandir – don't be too annoyed with me. I'll take you straight to Aiwendil via these tunnels; we shall be there in no time at all. These secret passageways are quite a quick means of travel…also I'm not really supposed to have left my room."

Legolas gave another look back, this time with the tiniest of smiles and eyes that begged the wizard to keep his secret.

"Come Mithrandir – we want to take this next right."

~o~

Gandalf only smiled at the young elf's antics; he was not really annoyed with the youngster. He actually quite liked the Prince's youthful, jovial disposition. Gandalf could see though that those smiles did not quite reach Legolas' eyes at the moment. The smiles were forced in order to distract from the maelstrom of emotions that could be seen in the young one's eyes.

Gandalf frowned a little as he kept pace behind the child as Legolas continued to lead the way through the maze like passageways. The wizard was feeling rather annoyed with the Prince's current carers. Could they not see that instead of easing his worries over his Adar they had increased them tenfold by denying the boy the truth and thus allowing his no doubt overactive imagination to run wild?

Gandalf took a deep breath. He was in no doubt that the elves in question would accuse him of meddling in their affairs once they found out what he was about to do but he did not do it out of malice. He was only trying to do right by Legolas and the boy needed this. Needed to hear the truth and have his wildest fears put to bed.

Gandalf took another bracing breath – he would tell all to Legolas but he would leave out the part about the King's potential blindness. That tale ought to be reserved for Thranduil to tell and him alone.

"Right young Thranduilion – I shall tell you about your Adar now whilst we are quiet and private in this maze - …"

~o~

"Here we are Mithrandir."

Legolas made a small gesture to the grey wizard and ushered him out into the sunlit stable yard. Aiwendil was in plain sight fussing over his rabbits as Legolas had predicted. Mithrandir bid him thanks before giving him a clap of the shoulder and a meaningful look.

"Remember what I said Thranduilion – your Adar is on the road to recovery and though it will be long and hard you need fear for his life no longer. Let your mind and your heart be at ease now."

Legolas nodded, forced his brightest smile and gave a limp wave goodbye as the grey wizard turned to deal with his brown companion.

The young Price let the stone sliding door swing easily and silently back in place glad that none of the stable hands had been about and he had remained unseen.

For that was exactly how he wished to remain just now. Unseen and left quite alone to process the news he had been given. The news he had so longed to hear, the news he had been so sure he could handle.

Dragons. Nasty and greedy and pure slithering malevolence.

Fire. Hot and bright and full of spiteful evil.

Burns. Pain and torture and lifelong disfiguring scars.

Legolas felt his legs shake a little and unable to stop himself he slid down to the ground as he began to tremble violently.

Legolas had been sure that the adults had been being hurtful toward him –treating him like a mere elfling. The Prince had been sure he could handle it all.

But oh how wrong he was. So, so very wrong; and Legolas hated it. Hated that they had been right about him being too young to hear all the gory details.

More than anything however he hated the images that flashed round and round and round in his mind.

Destruction. Dragons. Death.

Legolas brought a shaking arm around his knees and curled himself into a ball. He should have listened; he should have listened to them all. Rithel, Thanniel and Lord Arahaelon. He should never have pushed so hard to hear the full gory truth and oh how he wished he hadn't now.

Flames. Fear. Fire.

Legolas dropped his head down to his knees and cried hard over all his Adar had suffered and the horrifying images that would now never leave him.

TBC.
End Notes:
Ellon – Male elf

Adar – Father

Ernil-nin / Ernil – My Prince / Prince

Sdh – Peace

Aran-nin/Aran - My King/King

Istar – Quenya for Wizard

Maethyr – (plural) Warriors

A/N: My deepest apologies for the mega late update. Loss of inspiration attacked and I then managed to injure both my wrists which led to very slow going once I did manage to grab hold of the plot bunny. So mea culpa, mea culpa and thank you for sticking with me on this one. For those reading Friendship Amidst Loss – it's all plotted out its just the typing that is slow going at the moment (it hurts) – but I'll get the next chapter to you as soon as I can.

KimicT
Chapter 6 by KimicThranduilion
Legolas looked around him in a slow, bewildered way not entirely sure where he was. He was on a path of some sort; it was thin with only just enough space for him to traverse upon and covered in a thick coat of snow and the young Prince was being pulled along it despite no effort on his part. The path wound away from him into foggy, misty gloom and despite his best efforts Legolas could not see past the mist. Even though with every moment he got further and further down the path he still could not see where or what he was being pulled toward.

The immediate surroundings Legolas was being pulled through were quite clear however in sharp contrast to the mist that lay at the end of the long, winding path. The young blonde was surrounded by trees, leafless and withered looking as though they were deep in their winter sleep and the Prince frowned. He was pretty sure that summer had just come upon the Woodland realm. Why did it look like deepest winter here?

Legolas' frown deepened as he studied his surroundings – the 'snow' on the path had a distinctly grey tint to it and now that he was paying attention the atmosphere was warm – quite warm – and the temperature seemed to be increasing with every unwanted step that he took.

Legolas kicked out at a particularly large mound of the 'snow' as he passed it and coughed and sputtered as it sprayed up into the air filling it with dusty smoky smelling smog. It stung his eyes, made them water and burn and threatened to smother him as it did its best to work its way into his mouth and nostrils. Legolas coughed hard again in an effort to clear his lungs whilst he waved his arms round in a vain attempt to clear the air.

Ash. It wasn't snow but ash and Legolas looked round him feeling even more bewildered and now just a little bit scared. Why was there so much ash here? There were great big piles of it everywhere and it covered everything in a thick layer and now that he was further down the mysterious path it seemed to be falling from the sky in a mocking mimicry of real snow. Legolas looked up anxiously wondering at the source of the soft smoky particles and was horrified to see that it fell from the very tops of the trees. Trees that no longer looked as though they were in their peaceful winters sleep but trees that looked as though they had been very badly burnt. Burnt to almost nothing - only the stronger, sturdier braches and trunks remained - cracked and blackened whilst the rest crumbled and tumbled to the earth below in a shower of ash.

Legolas tried to bring himself to a halt then; it was rather disconcerting to be pulled against his will into such horrifying destruction and ever closer toward the deep impenetrable mist but found he could not halt his motion. Whatever invisible force that propelled him along was infinitely stronger than him and Legolas had to fight down a wave of panic.

He had no idea where he was but he knew he didn't like it – it was awful to see so many burnt and scorched trees and even more terrible to be pulled through the ashes of what had once been magnificent, beautiful green living beings. It filled his heart with sorrow to think of the fiery end the trees had met and he put even more effort into trying to pull away, trying to turn back. Legolas had had enough – he didn't want to see any more of this – he wanted to go home. But the force that pulled him along had entirely different ideas and if anything seemed to pull him even quicker down the path entirely resistant to the Prince's struggles.

Then the whispering started.

Softly at first, so low that Legolas almost missed it. It quickly grew in volume though and came at the disconcerted Prince from all sides.

Stay with us, stay.

Legolas whipped his head up and looked around in haunted manner as the first coherent words came through to him.

You wanted to have true knowledge of the terrible things that dragons do.

Legolas was quite sure he wanted to know nothing further of dragons and the terrible things they could do. He had already learned rather a lot more than he had bargained for from Mithrandir.

You were ever so curious about it all so stay with us, stay and look.

Legolas struggled all the harder; he most certainly did not want to stay. He wanted to leave. Now.

Stay and feast your eyes upon the destruction of dragon fire. Stay little princeling and we shall show and tell you all. Come now, come and see.

"No!" Legolas tried to dig his feet in, desperate to stop his progression down the path but they only slid and slipped on the copious amounts of ash instead. "I don't want to see. I don't want to know. I don't need to know. Stop this! Let me go!"

The young blonde's struggles remained futile and his pleas unanswered as the burnt, dead trees continued to chant for him to stay and see. Worse than that he was very near the end of the path now, very near the mysterious mist.

"No!" Legolas screamed, all pretence at bravery and calm cast aside in genuine terror.

Oh yes! YOU MUST STAY!

All of a sudden the dead, charred, blackened trees all around Legolas merged and morphed into the towering, terrifying shape of a dragon. It leered down at Legolas and before the Prince could so much as scream it shot out its huge spine covered tail to encircle and trap Legolas within its iron strong grip and pure cold terror filled the Prince.

COME AND SEE LITLE ONE; COME AND SEE WHAT HAS TRULY HAPPENDED TO YOUR ADAR. COME AND SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE TO LAY LOW THE MIGHTY ELVEN KING!

The dragon gave a sharp pull with its tail and dragged Legolas into the mist. Mist that was in actual fact choking, cloying smoke that emanated from yet more trees that were being burned all around him. Huge flames licked at them, blackening their leaves, branches and trunk until nothing remained save scarred, charred stumps and piles upon piles of ash. Tears pooled and fell and Legolas screamed unable to contain his fear and horror at the sights before him. The forest – his beautiful home was being burned away into nothing before his very eyes.

The dragon which still had hold of him only cackled mercilessly – a cruel, cold sound that sent shivers up Legolas' spine.

WHY DO YOU CRY ALREADY LITTLE ONE? I HAVE NOT EVEN SHOWN YOU MY BEST WORK YET. BEHOLD…

The dragon thrust Legolas forward with its tail toward something that looked suspiciously like an unlit funeral pyre. Legolas blinked once, twice, eyes burning from tears, smoke and ash and then he saw it.

A glimpse of distinctive platinum blonde hair that Legolas would recognise anywhere drifted up from the prone figure on the pyre and floated for a moment in the too hot air.

Legolas gaped. It could not be.

The dragon smirked.

BEHOLD THE ELVEN KING – MY GREATEST WORK OF DESTRUCTION TO DATE. I AM PLEASED YOU ARE HERE LITTLE ONE TO WITNESS THE FINISHING TOUCH TO MY MASTERPEICE.

Legolas looked up at the horrific beast in confusion and saw the dragon inhale a monstrous breath; and he stared as a fiery red lit up the beasts belly and travelled up its throat toward its open mouth. Its open mouth that was aimed directly at the figure on the funeral pyre – aimed at his Adar.

Dreadful understanding came to the Prince all at once and fear filled his very fa.

Legolas screamed.

~o~

"Adar! No!"

Rithel shot up and out of the bedside chair she had been sitting in and onto the bed in seconds. She pulled the bed's young occupant lovingly into her arms and gave a firm shake. Enough was enough; the Princess could not bear to see her baby brother trapped within the throes of what was clearly a horrific nightmare any longer.

"Las, Lasseg-nin, wake up tithen Las. I need you to wake up." Rithel punctuated each word with a small but firm shake.

Fear filled blue eyes finally snapped into focus and darted round in clear fright before another firm shake ensured that the blue orbs concentrated on the Crown Princess.

"It's ok Lasseg. It was just a bad dream, you are here – with me – you are safe." Rithel cuddled her little brother closer.

The young blonde slumped against her in clear relief for a moment before he pushed up and away from her cheeks aflame. "What…what are you doing here Rithel?"

Rithel silenced the chuckle that wanted to escape her; Legolas was at that adorably, awkward age where he felt far too old to be accepting such things as comfort and hugs.

Instead she gave her little brother a warm smile, "The guards posted at your door could hear that your sleep was disturbed; it is Thanniel's night off so I thought I'd come and look in on you."

Legolas crossed his arms and inched even further away from his sister, "You needn't have come – the guards ought not to have disturbed you." He frowned in the direction of his doors as if trying to see said guards through the walls before he turned back to Rithel, "I'm fine – you needn't worry. You can go now – I have held you up enough."

Rithel held back an aggrieved sigh – her brother's standoffish-ness was rapidly losing its adorable appeal.

"You are not holding me up Lasseg-nin, I will always have time for you – you know I know you are far from fine – do not lie to your gwathel." Rithel reached out and placed her arm around his shoulders and forcibly drew him closer. Tenderly she brushed aside dishevelled blonde locks to look into Legolas' troubled blue eyes, "Tell me what you dreamt of. What was so awful that it had you calling out for Adar?"

Legolas twisted and broke eye contact, "It was nothing – really Rithel – do not worry."

Rithel sighed but did not let loose her grip and instead pulled Legolas even closer and ignored the way he tensed under her hands. She pulled him until she was able to lay her head on his and rubbed soothing circles into his back.

"You can tell me Las, I am your big sister and I will always be here for you no matter what." Rithel murmured gently into the soft blonde hair, "I will never laugh at you or mock you and I will never betray your trust. I will always protect your secrets, so just please, please tell me what troubles haunt your dreams. You seemed… you seemed so terrified."

Legolas took a deep breath before he let it out slowly and crumpled into Rithel's arms.

"I…I dreamt about Adar…"

~o~

Rithel was fuming.

Damn you Mithrandir, she thought with pure malice. If the Istar were to make an appearance just then Rithel could not be sure she wouldn't badly hurt him.

The Princess let out a slow angry breath and tried to reign in her temper lest the murderous intent that rolled off her in waves disturb her tithen gwanr who was at last sound asleep and peacefully so.

Legolas had crumbled quickly and told her the entirety of his dream in disturbingly vivid detail. Rithel shivered just thinking about it and instinctively her hand went to Legolas' brow and pushed back a stray hair in a soothing gesture. Legolas had been crying by the end of his tale and she had been hard pressed to get him to stop. Somewhere in between Legolas recounting his nightmare and crying himself into tired oblivion he had let slip that it was Mithrandir who had given him the details to fuel his vivid, terrifying dream.

Rithel grit her teeth. There was a reason why Lord Arahaelon, Thanniel and herself had decided to omit a rather lot of details when speaking to Legolas of their Adar's plight. Legolas was just too young to handle the full, violent and disturbing truth. Who did Mithrandir think he was to go against their wishes? What had he been thinking? Surely he did not think that such a tale would have no effect on such a young and impressionable ellon?

Rithel sighed and continued to stroke her brother's silken hair. Legolas had such an active imagination as it was – Mithrandir really ought not to have told him anything. The Princess knew that until Legolas got to see their Adar in the flesh he would continue to suffer from the terrifying mix of his over-active mind and the grim details he had been so unwisely given. Rithel rubbed at her tired eyes – she had not had the heart to leave her brother on his own even after he had finally fallen asleep and she had spent the entire night at his bedside keeping a keen eye out for even the slightest bit of disturbance in his rest.

Anor was rapidly rising now and Rithel got up, drew the heavy drapes and effectively shut out the cheerful light. Legolas had only been asleep for an hour or two - when he had finally given in to his exhaustion after hours of sorrowful, frightened tears and near fevered imaginings. It had taken her what felt like an age to convince Legolas that yes, their Adar was really still alive and that he had not been killed by dragon fire. Rithel had also had to forcibly drag Legolas out onto his balcony and make him take a good long look out over their extensive realm to prove to him that the Wood did not burn, there were no more dragons and that it had all been part of an exceptionally intense nightmare. She was damned if she was going to let the sunlight awaken her exhausted little brother just yet.

Rithel would have a word with Lord Arahaelon and Legolas' tutors and instructors informing them that the young Prince would not be attending any lessons or practise sessions until the morrow.

A tapping at the door and Thanniel's cheery voice calling out for Legolas to rise and shine saw Rithel rush to the door.

"Ah," Thanniel took a surprised step backwards. "Oh Riel Rithel you surprised me." Thanniel hurriedly dropped into a curtsey, "Mae govannen Riel-nin."

Rithel peered into the darkness of the room behind her and satisfied that Legolas was still asleep she shut the door gently behind her.

"Suilad Thanniel," Rithel rubbed her eyes and willed away her own tiredness. "You needn't awaken nor attend Legolas just yet – he shan't be attending any lessons or his pre-warrior training today."

Thanniel's face paled, "Why? Um, begging your pardon Riel-nin but what is wrong with Legolas?" Thanniel directed the question at Rithel but her gaze was focussed on the bedchamber door behind Rithel and the former nanny looked as though she would shove the Princess aside if she did not get an answer soon.

"He had a night terror, a rather frightening one to the point where the guards could hear him from the hallway. They sent for me as it was your night off and I calmed him in the end but he has spent nearly the entire night awake and rather distressed. I think it would be best if he just got some rest today."

"Oh the poor lamb," A concerned frown marred Thanniel's fair face. "Did you manage to pry out of him the cause for his nightmare? I know Legolas has a tendency to to clam up when it comes to things that trouble him."

Rithel nodded – she had a new found respect for Thanniel whose job it was to deal with her awkward, skittish and stubborn little brother every day.

"Yes – I manged to get Lasseg to confide in me in the end." Rithel's lips thinned in anger, "Mithrandir told him the truth about Adar."

"What? Surely not Riel-nin. Why on earth would Mithrandir do something as foolish as that?"

"Who can phantom the workings of a wizards mind?" Rithel snapped before she heaved a heavy sigh, "I am sorry Thanniel I do not mean to be crabby but I am rather upset that Mithrandir has seen fit to scare Lasseg witless with whatever tales he has been spinning. I simply cannot understand why Mithrandir would go behind our backs and tell Legolas the gory details we were hoping to spare him from."

"Well…" Thanniel pursed her lips before they curved into a fond smile, "Your brother can be rather conniving when he puts his mind to it. Perhaps, just perhaps all the blame does not lie with Mithrandir."

Rithel gave a grudging nod; she too had been thinking the same thing. Armed with his wide baby blue eyes and beguiling smirk Legolas could talk most elves into doing his bidding. Yet she would have thought an Istar would be able to resist her tithen gwanr's charms.

The Princess huffed irritably, "Still, Mithrandir is millennia older than Legolas – he ought not to have let Legolas convince him into doing something so foolish. I shall be having some rather strong words with Mithrandir when I see him."

Rithel gathered her nightgown tighter about her, "I leave Lasseg to your care Thanniel, I'm afraid I can stay no longer. I have several council meetings to endure this day and I am late as is." The silver haired Princess gestured helplessly at her underdressed state.

"Oh of course Riel-nin worry not, Legolas will be well with me. I shall sit with him now as he sleeps and shall wake him around dinner time. That way he'll still be tired enough to get some sleep tonight rather than if he sleeps the entire day away."

Rithel promptly shook off her own yearning to sleep the day away and instead fixed Thanniel with a tired smile. "Thank you for looking over him Thanniel. I know Adar and I do not say it nearly enough but we are eternally in your debt for the way you have cared for Lasseg all these years."

Thanniel only waved a hand and fanned at her reddened face with the other, "Please Riel-nin I need no thanks – Legolas is such a joyful child. He really is no trouble at all. Now please do not let me hold you any longer."

Rithel smiled but whatever she had been about to say was cut off by a small, fearful sounding whimper from Legolas' bedchamber.

Thanniel had the door open and was there at Legolas' side smoothing bed frazzled hair and murmuring calming nothings in the mere blink of an eye. Rithel looked on for moment more as she watched Legolas writhe and cry out once more before he relaxed into calm sleep as Thanniel began to sing. Rithel marvelled at the bond between her baby brother and his not-quite-nanny for a moment longer as she watched the effortless way Thanniel eased Legolas back onto pleasant dream paths; it had taken the Princess far longer. Rithel firmly pushed away the niggle of jealousy that threatened to rear its head and gently shut the door on the scene. She would leave Legolas in Thanniel's more than capable care – she had a realm to run in the continued absence of her Adar.

Rithel rushed out of Legolas' living quarters and hustled down the corridor to her own not caring who saw her in her current state of dress; she had five meetings and a luncheon today and she was late, already stressed and she simply did not understand how her Adar managed to do this 'running a realm' business day in day out even with the help of Lord Arahaelon.

Yet again Rithel could not help but send up fervent prayers for her Adar's swift recovery and healingto any of the Valar who might be interested.

Please, Rithel prayed, we need him back.

~o~

Calelon jerked his head up from where it had been bowed in deep concentration over his work to glance at his King behind him. Thranduil had made a noise – like a gasp of panic - and Calelon studied his King a few moments more as Thranduil struggled against whatever nightmare he was trapped in. The Royal healer sighed, Thranduil had tossed and turned all night long and had not gotten any meaningful rest. The drugs Mithrandir had used upon the King were enough to numb physical pain but were not strong enough to help block out any lingering fears or traumas of the mind.

Thranduil let out another gasp, louder this time, and gave a sudden sharp jerk of his arms. Calelon was up and at his side then – so far the most Thranduil had done was murmur, cry out and toss his head a little – but if the King was going to start thrashing in earnest then Calelon would wake him. He could not afford for the King to further damage his already burnt and torn skin.

Thranduil gave another cry - one of genuine terror and Calelon placed his hand gently on the small bit of unbandaged skin on the right side of Thranduil's face.

"Awaken Aran-nin – you are safe here. The battle is no more – come now Aran-nin awaken."

Calelon sent a small burst of calming, healing energy into his King and willed Thranduil to wake up fully. "Awaken Aran-nin you are back home and you are safe – awaken."

Thranduil jerked awake with a gasp then moaned long and low.

Calelon gave another burst of healing energy, "I'm sorry you are in so much pain Aran-nin, give me but a moment and I will bring you something for it. Just remain still."

Thranduil only gave another low groan and Calelon sat up and walked back to his work station now satisfied the King would no longer be flailing about doing himself further harm.

Calelon picked up a small vial and walked back over to Thranduil's side, "I'm still working on something a little stronger to help with your pain Aran-nin but it's taking a bit longer than hoped. Aiwendil is helping me – in fact he has gone to fetch some of the herbs we need for the new painkiller." Calelon held the vial close up to Thranduil's lips, "This will help you in the meantime."

The instant the vial touched his lips Thranduil jerked back and a grimace was clear on the portion of his face free from bandages.

"N-no." Thranduil gasped the word out with difficulty and Calelon blinked in surprise.

"Aran-nin?"

N-no….no…drugs." Thranduil coughed – a dry harsh sound before he spoke again, "N-n-no… more… s-sleep."

Calelon cocked his head to the side in a questioning manner even thought his King was unable to see it. "I am sorry Aran-nin, I know you probably feel like all you do lately is sleep but it is needed and necessary. Your body needs rest and plenty of it if you are to recover from this."

Thranduil drew in a great raspy breath and tried to speak again. However the sound that left him was only a rough sounding garbled noise before the King collapsed into a coughing fit.

"Shh Aran-nin you should not try to speak right now. The only thing you need to do right now is rest." Calelon held the vial to his King's lips again only for Thranduil to repeat his earlier actions and jerk away from the vial.

"No pl-please…Ca..le..lon. No dr-drugs," Thranduil coughed, "N-no sleep."

The words were gasped out with more than a hint of desperation and Calelon finally understood what his King was trying to say. The King wanted no more drugs as they would make him sleepy and send him back into the world of nightmares, his own private hell.

Calelon put the vial aside and stared down at his King helplessly. It was clear from the harsh panting breaths the King was gulping in and the way his entire body was tense and rigid that he was in significant pain. Surely his nightmares were not so bad as to make the King prefer to stay awake and painkiller free?

"Aran-nin I…I understand you have been suffering nightmares but," Calelon hesitated, "You are in pain Aran-nin – I cannot just sit idly by and let you remain in such agony."

"Can…handle it."

Calelon pursed his lips, "It is about time for me to change your bandages and check over your wounds Aran-nin – that is really something I would rather do with you asleep – it will cause you a great deal of pain."

Thranduil coughed before speaking again, "Can…h-handle…it."

Calelon bit his lip and studied his King for a moment more. He had relaxed a little, body no longer as rigid and tense as it had been meaning Thranduil had gotten somewhat used to the pain that doubtlessly wracked his body. Yet Calelon knew that the cleaning and re-bandaging of Thranduil's wounds would cause the pain to flare again to nigh unbearable levels and the Royal healer really did not want to have to put his King through such an ordeal. He was about to speak again when Thranduil's raspy, dry voice cut him off.

"D-do as you must…Calelon. It is a…an order. Do not put me back… t-to sleep." The King collapsed into yet more coughs, the strain of speaking too much for his dry, sore throat.

Calelon heaved a deep long suffering sigh before he firmly corked his vial of pain-killing medicine. "As you wish it Ara-nin I shall not drug you but at least have some water. Your voice sounds as though you have been gargling rocks."

The King gave a croaky, dry noise that Calelon supposed was meant to be a laugh before hacking coughs overtook him once more. Calelon gave another tired sigh as he filled a glass with cooling water for his King. He was very tempted to slip in a sedative regardless of whatever Thranduil said but he knew there would be hell to pay once the King found out. One did not disobey direct orders from the King no matter how incapacitated said King currently was. Calelon could only hope that Thranduil would give in and see sense before things got too painful for him.

The Royal healer suppressed yet another heavy sigh, it was going to be a long and most trying afternoon.

~o~

The cool rim of a glass was pressed to Thranduil's dry lips.

"Here is your promised drink Aran-nin."

Thranduil took the tiniest sip possible and swished the water round his mouth as he carefully tasted it. He was unsure whether Calelon would heed him or if his wily healer would still attempt to drug him.

"I assure you there is nothing in the water Aran-nin. I have heard your command and I will heed it. You needn't be so suspicious."

Calelon sounded exasperated but Thranduil cared not. When he had last accepted 'water' it had turned out to be laced with a strong sedative that had sent him into a bleak world of seemingly never-ending nightmares. And what nightmares they were. Nay, Thranduil didn't care if he was exasperating his healer so long as he was not forced back into the realm of sleep to suffer through yet more night terrors. The King took another small sip of the water held out for him, tasting it again and satisfied that the liquid wasn't drugged Thranduil took a deeper drink.

Calelon grumbled, "Was my word not enough? I promised you I would not drug you back to sleep just now and though I believe this decision of yours to be folly I will keep my word Aran-nin."

"Hn," Thranduil gave a non-committal grunt; wizards and healers weren't high on his list of trustworthy people and besides that he was too busy trying to gulp down the deliciously cool water.

"Easy Aran-nin," Thranduil found the glass being pulled back from him. "You haven't really eaten nor had anything to drink recently so please just drink slowly. It would be most unpleasant for you if you were to be sick now."

Thranduil huffed in annoyance but gave a small nod to show Calelon he understood and would comply. As thirsty as he was he wasn't eager enough to make himself sick. He instead waited as patiently as he could for Calelon to guide him to drink again and took slow, small sips as directed by his healer.

It was irritating and made Thranduil feel quite pathetic and weak as he had to be hand fed water but there was naught the King could do but suffer through it. His world remained completely dark due to his firmly bandaged eyes, his wounds ached with a fierce fiery pain and his skin felt so tight that he half feared it would split and break if he were to move overmuch. All in all Thranduil had never felt as dire in all his long life but he would be damned if let Calelon know, he was determined to just soldier on through whatever Calelon had to do to him. He really, really did not want to have to go back and relive the horrors of the battlefield in his dreams.

For memory had returned to him in his dreams and his memories were positively terrifying. There was so much, blood, so much death – the stench of both almost buried under the acrid smell of the black smoke that had turned the air into a nigh unbreathable fog. Then there was the memory of the beasts themselves, slithering, serpentine, malicious evil with mouths that breathed flame wreathed destruction.

Thranduil shivered and forcibly wrenched his mind away from such thoughts and memories and brought himself back into the present. There would be no point in his staying awake and suffering through Calelon's ministrations if he was going to fixate on the very memories that plagued his dreams.

The blonde King instead took a fortifying breath and returned his attention to Calelon whom he could hear tinkering somewhere off to his right.

"Wh-," Thranduil coughed, cleared his throat and tried again. "When will you begin?" The King was pleased to hear his voice sounded stronger and smoother than it had a few moments ago.

"Now Aran-nin, I'll begin now – the sooner I start the sooner it will all be over with. I don't wish to prolong this for it will be most unpleasant."

Thranduil tried and failed not to startle at the sudden closeness of Calelon's voice. The ellon had such an infuriating habit of moving so very silently.

"I shall have you wear bells Calelon if you persist with this silent sneakiness," Thranduil took a moment to calm his racing heart before he continued, "For my sake at least will you make a bit more noise when you approach me? At least until I am once again able to sense your presence?"

"I am sorry Aran-nin I forget the situation. I shall take care to make a bit more noise in your presence."

"Hn," Thranduil gave a soft grunt somewhat mollified.

He was still rather worried that he was unable to sense the presence of others but he made no mention of it. He knew Calelon would only tell him to be patient; that his senses would return to him in time.

"Right," Calelon clapped his hands together disrupting Thranduil's musing, "I'll begin with your eyes – see how they look today and then I'll work my way down. I'll need to clean and change all your bandages to keep infection at bay and as I've said before this will not be pleasant for you. I shall respect your wishes to remain awake for now but you must inform me should it all become too much for you Aran-nin…please…you have suffered enough and I wish to cause you no more pain."

Thranduil gave a small smile at his healer's earnest plea; underneath his droll and somewhat sarcastic demeanour Calelon was a rather gentle hearted ellon who would do everything in his power to keep his patients as pain free and happy as they could be in an infirmary.

"Worry not Calelon – do as you must. I can handle it."

Thranduil smirked as he heard Calelon give yet another exaggerated sigh and then he felt the healers' cool hands at either side of his head as Calelon began to gently unwind the bandages that wound round his eyes. The blonde tensed as he waited for the last of the bandages to fall free from his face anxious as to whether he would be met with the so far ever present darkness of if there would be any change that would give him hope of regaining his sight.

Just as Thranduil thought he would burst from the tension the last swathe of cloth was lifted from his face and Calelon's hands were upon his sore, tight skin once more.

"Open your eyes Aran-nin."

Thranduil took a deep fortifying breath before he followed Calelon's almost whispered instruction. The King slowly opened his eyes and did not even wince at the sting they gave upon being opened so great was his anxiety at what he might or might not be able to see.

With his heart pounding a fierce beat in his chest Thranduil let his eyes move from side to side and with a wave of relief that was so strong it stole his very breath the King noticed that though the deep blackness in his left eye remained unchanged the sight in his right eye was a few shades lighter. He still could by no means see but instead of the inky darkness in his left eye the sight from his right eye was a deep grey in colour.

"Your right eye looks a bit better today. Tell me can you see any improvement?"

Thranduil gave a weak nod nor trusting himself to be able to answer the question without betraying just how emotional he felt at that very moment.

"Good – it is as I hoped. It does not look nearly as sore and glazed as it did before. I will continued with the treatment and hopefully you will regain your sight in your right eye before too long."

Thranduil said nothing as he tried to calm his still racing heart as Calelon began to clean his right eye. He had been so very afraid that there would have been no change – that his right eye would have remained just as dark as his left. Had that happened…

Thranduil shivered at the thought, "The difference is not huge but it is there nonetheless."

The King's voice shook, more with emotion that the pain of his sore eye being cleaned and Thranduil took another moment to compose himself. "Where there is complete and utter darkness in my left eye, in my right eye it is now a dark grey. As I said, tis a barely noticeable improvement but I am pleased indeed. I could not remain in this world were I to be completely blinded."

"You mustn't say such things Aran-nin – you are strong and well able to overcome any obstacle thrown in your path."

Thranduil gave a soft snort, "So you say Calelon but I tell you the truth – if I do not regain my sight in at least one eye I will have Rithel instated as Queen and I will sail."

"Do not say such -"

"Nay Calelon," Thranduil interrupted his healers' shocked protests. "Running a realm is difficult enough when able bodied – I could not do it justice if I am blind. And that is not all – if any of my other injuries are grave enough to hinder me in my duties to the realm I will still sail. The people of the Woodland realm do not deserve a cripple as their King – they need someone who is able to protect them properly."

Thranduil heard Calelon's sharp, sudden intake of breath at his second statement and he knew he had shocked the Royal healer but Thranduil was telling the truth. It would cost him all of his pride and be his greatest shame were he to actually have to sail and abandon his realm but Thranduil knew that would be better for his people in the long term. The realm and his people had to take precedence over his wishes and pride and they needed an able bodied, strong leader. The King had given it some thought since regaining consciousness and had decided that should he not make a satisfactory recovery from his injuries he would sail no matter what his Regent, councillors, healers, friends or family had to say about it. He would do right by the realm entrusted to him by his Adar Oropher all those centuries ago.

"A-Aran-nin you…you cannot…you cannot sail." Thranduil felt his healers' hands slide limply from his face, "What…what of the people and…and what of your children? You…you cannot be serious Aran-nin. You will heal! I will do everything in my power to ensue that is so; you must not give up hope so easily."

Thranduil quirked a small smile, touched at Calelon's vehement declaration although he was baffled by it. The blonde King wasn't sure what he had done to inspire such loving loyalty.

"I must say I am touched and honoured that you are so keen and willing to help me but I admit I am baffled as to why. Rithel is well trained and would be a mighty Queen – the future of realm would be safe enough. You do not have to go to extreme lengths for me Calelon – you best will be more than enough."

"N-no. No. I will do my best and more besides Aran-nin and even if I have to scour the very ends of Arda to find that which would aid in your recovery I will do it. Just keep your faith. You will see again in your right eye and you will heal from all your other injuries. I will do all I can to see that it is so."

"But why Calelon? As I said should the worst come to pass and I do indeed sail sure, the people would mourn for a while but within a decade I would be forgotten and life would go on as it ever has."

"You think too little of yourself Aran-nin," Calelon's voice was grave. "The Woodland realm would be nothing without you. Your sailing would be the greatest disaster to befall this realm and its people yet. For it was you who held us all together when your great Adar went to be with Mandos. You pulled us through that dark time and brought us out brighter and better than we could have ever hoped for." The Royal healer gave Thranduil's hand the gentlest of squeezes, "No offense to Riel Rithel but we could not lose you not now, not ever. So kindly remove all thought of sailing from your mind Aran-nin for it shall not happen – not on my watch. Now be still and let me work on your left eye in peace."

TBC.
End Notes:
Adar – Father

Fa – Soul (Quenya)

Lasseg-nin / Lasseg – My Little Leaf / Little Leaf – Family nickname for Legolas

Tithen – Little

Gwathel - Sister

Istar – Quenya for Wizard

Gwanr – Brother

Ellon – Male elf

Anor – Sun

Riel / Riel-nin – Princess / My Princess

Mae Govannen – Well met

Suilad – Greetings

Aran-nin - My King

A/N: Finally got some inspiration for this fic again – so much so I've half written the next chapter. I hope you enjoy and thank you for sticking with me :) - KimicT
Chapter 7 by KimicThranduilion
The Royal healer gave Thranduil's hand the gentlest of squeezes, "No offense to Riel Rithel but we could not lose you not now, not ever. So kindly remove all thought of sailing from your mind Aran-nin for it shall not happen – not on my watch. Now be still and let me work on your left eye in peace."

Thranduil said nothing and did his best not to flinch in pain even as he pondered what Calelon had said. He honestly did not think he would be that much of a loss to the realm but clearly others felt differently. It made him feel warm; glad that his hard work for his eledhrim was noticed and appreciated. Speaking of whom, what did his subjects think of his pro-longed absence? He had been laid up here for nearly a full two weeks. It was unprecedented for him – usually he would have long since hauled himself back into his office.

"What news of the realm Calelon? Tell me the latest? What has Lord Arahaelon told the people regarding my continued convalescence?"

Calelon huffed in an irritated manner, "I thought I asked for a little peace?"

Thranduil smirked, "I'm bored and very much out of the loop – that is never a good thing for a King."

"You're bored?" Calelon sounded exasperated and disbelieving all at once.

"Yes bored. If you were stuck in bed with naught to do or even naught to see then you too would be bored. So answer my question; after all it would be a terrible waste of all your hard work if I were to die of boredom now."

Thranduil could almost hear his healer grit his teeth and it filled him with glee; which was far better than the alternative of being wracked with pain, for Calelon had now moved lower down to tend his face and it really did hurt.

"There is not much to tell in all honesty – the realm remains fine and stable under the leadership of your fine daughter and Lord Arahaelon. There have been no sightings of that last dragon that managed to escape and ten of your warriors were released from the infirmary yesterday. As for what Lord Arahaelon has told the people regarding your absence – well as far as I know nothing at all has been said. The people know you were wounded but that is all."

"Hmm," Thranduil mulled it all over, happy to hear Rithel was doing well and that the healing halls were emptying. He was even more pleased to hear that there had been no further dragon sightings – they could keep watch for another month or two before calling back the patrols who currently watched Ered Mithrim altogether. The King was stumped however over how much he should have revealed to his people about his injuries. It would be a long and tedious healing process and he could not keep his realm in the dark for that long. On the other hand however too much information about his current state could lead to panic and unrest and Thranduil did not want to make Rithel's stint at the helm any more difficult than it needed to be.

He thought it over for a minute more before speaking, "Will you send a message to Lord Arahaelon when you finish here with me? Tell him to make it known that though I have been injured gravely I am now awake and on the mend but it will take time - and during that time Rithel will reign as my Regent. Make no mention of my injuries."

Calelon gave a thoughtful hum before, "I will do as you have asked Aran-nin however Lord Arahaelon is bound to ask after you himself. He has been quite worried you know, and will want an update on how you are doing. What would you have me say? Can I tell him of your blindness in your left eye?"

"No! You must never breathe a word of that to anyone. Do you hear me Calelon? Only you, Mithrandir and Aiwendil must ever know of this. You may give Lord Arahaelon a full update but you will say nothing of my eyesight. Understood?"

Calelon sighed, "Do you really think it prudent to hide such a thing from Lord Arahaelon? He is your Regent and will be bound to find out sooner or later."

"I said you are not to tell him," Thranduil ground out.

"I understand your position Aran-nin but I still maintain it is best to inform Lord Arahaelon now rather than let him discover the fact for himself. Your depth perception, peripheral vison and hand eye co-ordination will all be affected. Your gait, stance and the way you interact with the world around you will change as a result and Lord Arahaelon is as sharp as a hawk's talon – he will notice instantly. You cannot really hope to hide this from him. You ought to tell your bodyguards as well – they will need to be aware so they can keep your blind side covered and protected at all times."

Calelon paused and gave a thoughtful hum before he continued, "The way you handle your weapons from now on will be altered and your bodyguards will need to know in order to help them compensate for it. Crown Commander Aglardaer should also be told – you train with him do you not Aran-nin? He needs to know so he can best help you re-learn how to use your weapons. I know -"

"Stop," Thranduil bit the word out. "Just stop speaking Calelon – I know you mean well but I command you to follow my orders – tell absolutely no one of my blindness. Am I clear?"

There was an aggrieved sigh from the healer before, "As you wish Aran-nin I will keep your secret, but as I say you cannot hope to keep this from those close to you for long. What of your children? Do you plan to keep them in the dark too?"

"The only one in the 'dark' right now is me," Thranduil snapped now thoroughly aggravated by Calelon's words. "You will breathe not one word of this to a soul. This is my problem, my affliction and I alone will decide whom to tell and when. For now I will not be having any visitors save you, Mithrandir and Aiwendil so I needn't worry about who will notice I am partially blind or not. Now please will you speak of this no more. Just do as you must and then leave me be."

"I am sorry to have upset you Aran-nin, but you must begin to think of these things – this blindness will not solely affect you."

"Stop. Talking."

Thranduil knew he was being snippy with Calelon but he could not help himself. The healer had brought up a multitude of things Thranduil hadn't even considered and in truth he didn't want to consider them. Some part of his mind was still in denial about the whole blind-in-one-eye thing. Somehow a part of the elven King still felt that this would all pass – that he'd make a full recovery and go back to being the strong, healthy ellon he had always been and this would all be some dim, dark and distant memory.

Yet Calelon's words had struck him – hard – this was real and everything Calelon said was true. He'd have to re-learn multiple things from basics like climbing stairs to the more complex things like using his twin swords and close combat. Worse than all of that was the realisation that Thranduil would have to disclose his life changing injury to several people. Arahaelon was his Regent as well as a father figure to him, the older ellon looked out for him and knew him very, very well – Thranduil had not a hope of hiding his blindness from him.

Calelon was also right about the fact that he would have to tell his Elite; his bodyguards could not do their job properly if they did not know that Thranduil now needed them to act as his left eye. Aglardaer was his best friend and deserved to know the truth for that reason alone as well as the fact that the leader of his Army was also his preferred sparring partner. The two often had rather vigorous bouts of training together so that Thranduil could stave off the effects of the oft desk-bound life of a King. There was no way he could hide from Aglardaer. Telling his children was something the King did not want to contemplate altogether – he couldn't imagine how he was meant to break the news to Rithel and Legolas.

Thranduil gave a deeply weary sigh, he did not want to have to discuss his handicap with anyone. He was a prideful ellon and to divulge this devastating weakness and admit that he would need regular help from now on was a huge blow to his pride. Thranduil gave another sigh – this was going to be a hugely humiliating recovery for him. He cringed internally at the thought of having anyone see him stumble around as he tried to adjust to half his field of vision being taken away. Then there would be learning how to do close combat and use his extensive range of weapons again – that was bound to be an injury filled and embarrassing time. There was also the issue of his looks – Calelon had said he'd need to learn how to hold up a powerful glamour spell in order to look normal again. And all this was only the beginning – there was no telling yet what other permanent afflictions he might yet be left with due to the burns that stung all down the left side of his body.

What if his left leg was left with too much scar tissue for him to ever walk gracefully again? What if the burns on his left shoulder didn't heal sufficiently for him to ever be able to fire an arrow? What if? What if? What if? Question after terrible, tormenting question swam round the King's blonde head and Thranduil begun to hyperventilate. Would he really be forced to sail after all?

"Sdh Aran-nin – please do not work yourself up like this – I am truly sorry, it was not my intention to upset you with my words." Calelon's calm voice broke through Thranduil's increasingly panicked thoughts. "Please try to relax, do not tire yourself with overthinking things too much. Yes the road ahead of you is long and daunting but you are stronger than you think and you have plenty who will be more than willing to support you along the way. So please, please do not be upset and do not worry. You will overcome."

Thranduil said nothing – he did not feel like he would overcome but that he would succumb instead. Perhaps that would have been easier? If he had simply succumbed to his injuries in the first place, then he would not have to sit here and be so tormented. After all the Halls of Mandos were rumoured to be a place of great peace.

A sharp rap at the door was followed by Mithrandir's gruff voice and interrupted the elven King's miserable, brooding thoughts.

"Open up Calelon, Radagast is here with the last of your herbs."

Calelon finished securing the bandages round Thranduil's eyes and lower face with a gentle caress of his hands. "Cheer up Aran-nin you have visitors and now that Aiwendil is here with the herbs needed we can finish up this medicine for you. Then you needn't spend all your days in a drugged slumber and you will be well on the path to recovery."

Thranduil gave no indication he had even heard his healer's soft, slightly excited words. Thranduil wanted no visitors, wanted Calelon to cease poking and prodding him, wanted his mind to stop tormenting him with bleak, dark thoughts of his future and haunting, painful memories of the past battle. Thranduil just wanted some peace – a bit time to himself so he could fully come to terms with everything that had happened to him.

He heard his door open and click gently shut again and knew he would have no such luck. In addition to Calelon he'd now have Aiwendil clattering round in that clumsy way of his along with Mithrandir's too sharp eyes, observations and comments to put up with. Yet he had no choice but to put up with it as best he could.

"Ah Oropherion, I am glad to see you awake."

Thranduil caught a whiff of the grey wizard's ever present scent of pipe weed and he wrinkled his nose, "Suilad Mithrandir. Have you been at the pipe weed again? I hope you stay away from my trees when you indulge your filthy habit; I did not suffer though battling fire breathing dragons only to have you burn my forest to the ground with a stray ember."

Gandalf gave a dry chuckle, "I am truly pleased to see you in such high spirits."

Thranduil almost rolled his eyes before he remembered the unholy pain that once favoured action now caused and settled for a grunt instead.

Gandalf chuckled again before Thranduil felt the wizard place his hand upon him and send a warm wave of healing energy through him, "How do you feel today? I hope you are not in too much pain?"

"Nay, I am not in much pain at present though I am sure Calelon will change that once he gets back to work on me. I am as well as one can be in this situation."

Calelon gave a small laugh, back at the elven King's bedside, "I will do my best to keep you as pain free as possible Aran-nin but it will be difficult if you refuse to take any painkillers."

"What is this Oropherion?"

Thranduil held back a groan of annoyance. Calelon was nothing if not crafty; although he had promised not to drug Thranduil the healer knew that the grey wizard would have no such compunctions.

"I do not need anything just now Mithrandir, I am fine worry not. I am tired of being drugged to sleep – especially without my prior knowledge." That last little barb aimed at the Istar.

"Hmm, yes well…"

Thranduil smirked as he listened to the wizard shift around and clear his throat guiltily.

"Be that as it may Oropherion you ought not to take your injuries so lightly. Dragon fire and its resultant wounds are serious business indeed. You should heed Calelon."

"No – I can manage whatever pain comes my way. I am not as weak as you think Mithrandir."

"Elbereth save me from the pride of elves," Gandalf muttered crossly. "There is no shame in needing the relief and comfort painkillers bring Thranduil, especially not when in your condition. Calelon fetch the pain killers."

"Calelon will do no such thing as I have commanded him to leave me be. I don't need to be coddled Mithrandir. Why don't you make yourself useful and regal me with one or two of your yarns? And tell me have you seen either of my children recently? How are they?"

"M-make myself useful?" Gandalf grumbled at the King's cheek, "What do you think I have been doing all this time Oropherion if not making myself useful? Do you suppose I have come to these elf infested woods of yours for a nice sunny holiday?"

Thranduil gave a soft snort, "Oh come now Mithrandir you know what I mean. I am grateful for what you have already done for me." The blonde let the gratitude he felt seep into his tone, "Yet I would be even more grateful now if you would take my mind off things as Calelon tends to me."

Gandalf grumbled under his breath some more before Thranduil heard the grey wizard settle himself into a chair to his left. "As I'm sure Calelon has already told you, there's no need to worry about your realm. Arahaelon and Rithel are doing a fine job. I haven't seen much of the Princess to be perfectly honest with you Oropherion; the business of running a Kingdom does not lend to much free time but there have been no ill reports and day to day life continues as smoothly as it ever did. So aside from her probably being worried about you I am certain Rithel is fine. You should let her visit you – I'm sure it would ease her worries and do her a world of good – and the same goes for young Legolas."

Thranduil smiled at yet another positive report on Rithel's running of things in his absence before his thoughts turned to his young son.

"What of Legolas Mithrandir? How does he fare? He had a bit of a shouting match with Calelon yesterday over not being allowed in to see me," Thranduil smiled a little wider at the memory.

Gandalf harrumphed, "And that is exactly why you ought not to ignore my suggestion and ought to allow your children to come in and see you Oropherion. Sure your appearance now – bandaged from head to toe – will be a little disconcerting for them but it will stop them from near worrying themselves to death over you."

"Nay Mithrandir, this too I have told Calelon already – I want no visitors just now save you, Calelon and Aiwendil. And you are not to breathe a word of my injuries, especially my blindness to anyone."

Gandalf snorted, "Well it is too late for you to warn me off now Oropherion, I have already explained your injuries to young Legolas who was woefully in the dark about what had happened to his own Adar. Really Thranduil, it was shameful the way the boy was -"

"You did what?" Thranduil hissed interrupting the Istar mid-flow, "You told Legolas of my injuries?" The King's voice was low, full of incredulity and the promise of violence.

There was a rustle of cloth as Gandalf sat up straighter in the chair, "Yes I told Legolas and feel no regret. I am sorry but I think it was shameful of you all to keep him in the dark."

"Ah, Mithrandir with the greatest of respect I do not think Riel Rithel, Lord Arahaelon and Thanniel were being unkind when they decided to keep the young Prince in the dark," Calelon interjected as he sensed the rising murderous rage emanating from his King. "Ernil Legolas is rather young and really did not need to know all the gory details just yet. It was for his own peace of mind."

"Peace of mind? Well that plan clearly backfired Calelon – I have never seen such a stressed and fear-filled elfling in all -"

"What. Did. You. Tell. Him?" Thranduil snarled interrupting the wizard again.

The elven King was furious – he knew wizards loved meddling but really this was too much. Who on Arda did Mithrandir think he was?

"Calm yourself Oropherion – I said nothing of your blindness – that tale is yours alone to tell whomever you may wish. I did tell him however the truth of what has happened to you; that you were grievously injured in defending the realm from the perils of dragons and their fiery breath. And I also encouraged him – told him you were in good hands and on the mend. It was the right thing to do. The boy was not eating and had such a haunted look to his eyes. No child should ever look so stressed and frantic and fear-filled. I did what I thought was best for him."

Thranduil's anger left him in a rush as he considered Mithrandir's descriptions of Legolas.

Stressed, frantic, fear-filled, not eating, haunted.

The King clutched his bedsheets tightly in his fists easily ignoring the pain that flared. Had his son, his Lasseg really been so worried over him? The thought pained Thranduil more than any of the wounds on his body currently did. He could not bear to picture Legolas that way. He was such a cheeky, happy-go-lucky child; the words stress and fear did not belong in any sentence pertaining to Legolas.

"H-h…how is he now? How is Legolas now Mithrandir? How did he take the news? How is my son?" An edge of hysteria had crept into Thranduil's voice but he could not help it.

"Sdh Oropehrion, young Legolas took the news well and seemed relieved to know that none of the wild imaginings he'd had regarding the situation were true. I have not yet seen him today but he was well when I left him. Still I do think it would do both him and Rithel good to see for themselves that you are awake, aware and on the way to being hale again."

Thranduil's death grip on his sheets loosened just a fraction. He had thought it would be easier for both his children if they did not have to see him like this and truth be told he didn't want them to see him in such a weakened and pathetic state either. He was their Adar, their protector and the only parent they had this side of the Seas; he'd been reluctant to let them see him in fear that somehow he would go down in their estimations – that they would see him as weak and pitiful rather than their strong, ever capable Adar. It was a ridiculous thought – he knew neither of his children were so shallow – but it was a thought he could not shake.

Perhaps, Calelon and Gandalf were right, perhaps allowing his children in to see him would put to bed their fears and worries for him. If Rithel and Legolas could see that he was coherent, able to talk and even smile perhaps then they would feel better and be able to go on without the burden of their worry for him weighing them down. Thranduil could see the many benefits of such a visit – not just for his children but for himself too – nothing on Arda made him feel joy and comfort in the way his children so effortlessly did.

Yet Thranduil knew what else his children would see should they visit him – bandages, weakness and pain. Three things that were sure to garner pity and pity for him was the one thing Thranduil could not bear to ever hear in the voices of his children. The bandages across his eyes would also be sure to raise comment and that was one thing Thranduil really did not want to get into with anyone just now.

Calelon's gentle voice sounded very near Thranduil interrupting the King's thoughts. "So what say you Aran-nin?"

"My answer remains the same Calelon, I want no visitors. Please just carry on with your procedures and let us get this over and done with."

Calelon sighed in defeat, "As you wish it Aran-nin, I've finished tending to your eyes and haven't much more to do on your lower face then I will move onto the rest of your body."

"Yes, just please continue as swiftly as you can, I tire of being prodded and poked. I just want some peace and a little time to myself to think."

"Of course Aran-nin," there was a small splash as Calelon wet a new cloth to use and Thranduil had to resist the urge to hiss as the cool, stinging cloth was pressed to his chin.

"I'm so sorry Aran-nin, this really would be easier if you would take some pain killers. You needn't even take the strong ones; you can take the ones the maethyr use on patrol - they are non-drowsy."

Gandalf snorted, "Just give him the strongest ones you've got Calelon, ignore Thranduil – wounds caused by dragon fire are among the most painful things one could ever suffer."

"You stay out of this Mithrandir, it has naught to with you. I tire of being drugged into oblivion."

"Sleep is good for you Oropherion – just now the more you get the better. Honestly why stay awake and be put through such pain? All for the sake of your pride? Is it worth the agony?"

"I said stay out of it Mithrandir! Why must you meddle? You cannot possibly know how much pain I am in or not. I think I am well able to ask for pain relief when I really need it – which right now I do not." Thranduil huffed at the Istar.

Gandalf sniffed, "Of course Oropherion; that is why you were clenching your teeth so hard when Calelon merely dabbed at your face."

Thranduil spluttered in shock rather than outrage. He had clenched his teeth, but not so hard that he thought anyone would be able to tell just by looking at his jawline.

As if reading his mind Gandalf continued, "Your left cheek now comprises of two pieces of sinew. I can see every time you clench you teeth in agony or bite your tongue to hold back a cry of pain. It is pointless to argue any further. Admit your pain, forsake your pride and take the painkillers."

Gandalf gentled his tone at the look of shock that appeared on the King's face at his words, "The sleep will do you good Oropherion."

"S…Sinew?" Thranduil questioned his voice sounding weak and scared even to his own ears. But he was scared – very scared. He had caught but a mere glimpse of how damaged his face was when he'd tried to wipe at his eye and had caused himself a whole deal of pain. It had felt like a portion of his face was missing but Thranduil had assumed that had been his fevered imagination running wild. He hadn't gotten to touch his face again since then but surely, surely his face was not so wrecked that Mithrandir could see straight through his cheek? Mithrandir exaggerated… right? Calelon had said he would need a strong glamour that was true but was he really so badly off that he had a hole in his face?

"Calelon you told me my face was quite bad…" The elven King struggled for words, "How…how…what do you mean? What does my face look like? What do you mean Mithrandir that I have only sinew where my cheek once was? What exactly has happened to my face?!"

Calelon threw an annoyed look over at the grey wizard; he really felt Mithrandir could have used a bit more tact and care with his words. Now it would be up to him to break the news to Thranduil of just how much of a mess his face really was as best he could. It was honestly a talk he had wanted to deal with later – much later. Not now when he was still trying to get Thranduil to see sense and take something for his pain.

Calelon sighed – it was fast becoming a habit. "Your face is…well do you wish me to be blunt Aran-nin?"

Fear tightened its grip on Thranduil's heart but he gave a small nod and almost whispered his answer. "Yes. Tell me everything Calelon – hold nothing back."

"Very well Aran-nin, truth be told your face is a complete wreck," Calelon began unhappily before he launched into a full description of his King's ruined face.

Thranduil was silent throughout the entire description as he struggled to imagine his new looks. Right then he wished for nothing more than to be able to see – so he could inspect every inch of his face in morbid curiosity. Thranduil had never been vain about his looks (he took far more pride in his jewellery and hair) though he knew he was considered handsome; it would take some time to get used to seeing a beastly, orc like face in the mirror going forward. For that was what Thranduil imagined his new visage to resemble.

The elven King let out a weary, shaky breath. He would definitely not be inviting either Rithel or Legolas nor anyone else for that matter to visit him. Not until he got this glamour spell Calelon spoke of down to a fine art.

"So you said I would need a glamour spell Calelon, are you certain there is one strong enough to cover the multitude of sins that is now my face?" Thranduil honestly felt like crying the more he thought about it. What if there was no spell strong enough to help him cover up? He would most certainly have to sail then.

"Yes there will be a spell strong enough but I shall have to work on it. The glamour spells I know right now are on a smaller scale – you need a spell infinitely stronger and I shall need some time to study it and fine tune it before I can teach it to you."

Thranduil didn't feel entirely re-assured by that answer; while he was glad to know there was a strong enough spell out there he was dismayed that Calelon did not know it or hadn't even found it as yet for that matter. He wanted to get this part of his recovery out of the way sooner rather than later. The elven King would not be able to turn away visitors indefinitely so the sooner he learned a way to mask his disfigured looks the better.

"How long do you think it will take you find and learn such a spell Calelon?"

The healer blew out an exasperated breath even as he begun to wrap a fresh length of bandage over Thranduil's lower face signifying the end of that part of the King's treatment.

"I am unsure Aran-nin, in all honesty medicine rather than magic is my forte – I should have to seek outside help – perhaps from one of the Avari. They are rather proficient in magic after all. Right now though my priority is to get your sight back fully in your right eye and get your body healed and out of this bed so you can begin your rehabilitation. Your looks can come after as far as I am concerned."

Thranduil felt a small surge of anger shoot through him at the remark, "Well Calelon I am sorry to say your priorities and concerns do not line up with mine. I want you to start working on that spell today – once you've finished with me here." Calelon made a noise as though he were going to protest but Thranduil pressed on, "Nay Calelon you will listen to me. I know you think me vain for prioritising my looks but it is not so – just think for a moment – I shall not be able to keep visitors from my door forever. Yet I tell you I shall not consent to a single one being let in to see me whilst I look like this, so the sooner we find an appropriate glamour spell the better. Otherwise I shall leave it to you to keep my concerned visitors at bay and provide them explanations as to why they cannot see me."

Calelon threw an aggrieved look at his King even though he knew the blonde could not see it as he thought of the futility and stress it would cause him to continually try to keep Princess Rithel, Lord Arahaelon, Prince Legolas, Crown Commander Aglardaer, Thranduil's Elite personal guard and countless others from being able to see the King over a prolonged period of time.

"Aran-nin please be reasonable – your face is covered in bandages – none will see what is beneath should they visit you. You really ought to just focus on getting your strength back and learning to cope with your visual handicap. I thi-"

"How Calelon how?!" Thranduil interrupted. "How am I supposed to focus on my rehabilitation and feel like I am getting better when I know there is a hole in my face? A hole Calelon! How will my visitors be able to believe me when I say I am on the mend if they still see my entire face swathed in bandages? What good is it if I gain my strength and complete my rehabilitation only to be unable to return to my throne as I have no way with which to disguise my now gruesome features?"

Thranduil paused and took a moment to regain his breath and swallow past a throat that was once again sore due to his little outburst. The elven King tried his best to find his centre again and calm himself – it was unfair of him to yell so at Calelon – none of this was his fault after all.

Thranduil let himself sink further back into his pillows, gave a deep sigh and when he spoke again his voice was a mere hoarse whisper. "Calelon…I…I am sorry…it is just…how am I supposed to recover and feel normal again when I know my face looks so hideously abnormal?"

Thranduil felt Gandalf give an undamaged part of his arm a comforting squeeze but he felt anything but comforted. Perhaps he was a bit vain with his looks after all. This was all proving too much – the thought of having to simply make do and live with his ruined face for the foreseeable future on top of everything he had still to face and overcome felt like a weight that would crush Thranduil completely.

Distantly Thranduil heard Aiwendil clear his throat but paid no attention, mired in his dark thoughts as he was.

"There is no need to be so down in the dumps about your face Thranduil." Radagast spoke for the first time since he'd entered the room.

The elven King cocked his head in the direction of Aiwendil's voice and the brown wizard suddenly found him the centre of attention of all in the room as his fellow wizard and the Royal healer both paused to look at him.

Radagast startled at the attention and fumbled with the small jar he had in his hands then, dropped it and looked down at the fragments in dismay before he began to mutter in a distressed manner under his breath and he bent to scoop them up.

"Never mind about the jar now Radagast," Gandalf had a feeling his fellow had been about to say something significant. "Why do you tell Thranduil not to worry about his face?"

The brown wizard looked up from his squat on the floor, "Oh why that's easy Gandalf. I have a spell. The perfect one too – very powerful, very powerful indeed Gandalf."

Thranduil struggled to sit up a bit more at those words, "Is it a glamour spell you speak of Aiwendil? One that will help my cover the damage done to my face?"

For Thranduil did not doubt the Istar knew a great many powerful spells but did he really have one that would help Thranduil camouflage his dire facial wounds? Aiwendil did tend to get rather muddled up and forgetful sometimes and Thranduil didn't dare get his hopes up too high before he made sure.

"Oh yes Thranduil, I use it to help protect and hide my rabbits and other animals from the orcs and other nasty creatures in the Woods. Just one small change to the words of the spell and it will ensure your face looks nothing but perfect Thranduil."

Thranduil let out a relieved breath he hadn't been aware he was holding and he heard Aiwendil move closer.

"I can teach it to you now if you like."

Calelon interrupted then, "That is wonderful news Aiwendil but please you must allow me to finish my work here before you attempt to teach Aran Thranduil anything. I have only tended to his face thus far and I really must finish."

"Oh," Radagast sounded somewhat surprised before he strolled back to finish work on the new painkillers for his blonde friend. "Of course, of course Calelon. Do as you must. I will teach you later Thranduil – after I check on my rabbits."

"Hannon-le Aiwendil, I am in your debt." Thranduil's heartfelt gratitude was clear in his voice.

"Yes, yes, yes." Radagast waved away the thanks embarrassed and delved back into his work.

Gandalf chuckled at his fellow's antics and gave Thranduil's arm another fond squeeze, pleased that Thranduil's demeanour was no longer as dour and despairing as it had been before Radagast's timely interruption.

The grey wizard turned to Thranduil, "Well now that that is sorted Oropherion will you be still and cease in making Calelon's job quite so difficult?"

Thranduil made an indignant sound and did not even deign to answer the grey wizard but instead inclined his head to where he last heard his healer's voice, "You may proceed Calelon."

"Thank you Aran-nin though I must ask again, can I convince you to take some of the non-drowsy painkillers?"

Thranduil held back a sigh – so they were back to this again?

"You have done well so far that is true but cleaning and re-bandaging the larger wounds on your body will take a great deal more time and will most likely cause you a great deal more pain than the ones on your face as they are spread over a much larger area."

Thranduil blanched at the thought – in all honesty having his face tended to had been agonising enough – surely the pain could get no worse? Yet he was still nervous that if he opted for painkillers Calelon would go back on his word and slip him ones that would put him to sleep.

Dark images of dragons, burning trees and melting flesh flashed through his mind and Thranduil steeled himself. He did not want to go to sleep. Not just yet when the memories of his last horrifying nightmares were still so fresh.

"I am fine Calelon, do as you must. As I said before I can handle it."

~o~

He most certainly could not handle it.

Thranduil supressed yet another groan – he'd never been more wrong in all his long life. He had grossly miscalculated the amount of pain that would result from Calelon's ministrations. Even the slightest touch sent pain searing through Thranduil's too sore, burnt skin. The water Calelon was using to clean his larger wounds felt as though it was pure high grade acid rather than the refreshing, cooling liquid it was meant to be and the salve was even worse. It didn't soothe and ease his hurts like Calelon and Aiwendil had promised it would. It stung even more fiercely than the water and made the King want to curl into a small ball and never move again.

And Valar! How it hurt to move – even breathing was beginning to become a chore with the way his skin protested every little movement with fierce agony.

Calelon was being really very gentle with him; Thranduil knew the Royal healer was doing his utmost not jostle or move him about too much. Yet after what seemed like a long, agonising age Calelon eventually came to the point where he'd fully dealt with all the raw, open wounds on Thranduil's chest, torso, hips and upper thighs. It was time for the wounds that could not be tended to by Thranduil lying on his back. And then the elven King had had no choice but to move; and even with the slow, careful, coaxing movements Calelon and Mithrandir employed it was absolute torture for Thranduil.

The slow and gentle move to get the King into an upright position so that the burns that snaked round onto his back could be tended left Thranduil a pained and weakly panting mess. The room spun in the most horrifying and disturbing manner – the floor and ceiling switching places several times – and Thranduil had to force back a dizzying wave of nausea.

The blonde felt really rather glad that he hadn't really had anything to eat since first awakening after the battle, for it would all have come up at that moment in a rather undignified manner and Thranduil felt sure he wouldn't have been able to stop it. He was having plenty enough trouble holding back the bile that kept rising in his throat with each sickening lurch his stomach gave.

Calelon, Mithrandir and even Aiwendil all looked at the elf King in grave and clear concern and though Thranduil felt as though he had several pairs of eyes on him (even if he could not see them) he paid them no mind. The blonde was too busy trying to centre himself again and keep the bile from rushing up his throat. His body ached fiercely, his stomach roiled rebelliously and with each minute that passed Thranduil felt his mind get more and more clouded by pain. His grip on reality was slipping little by little without the King even realising it.

"I think now would be the best time for those non-drowsy pain killers Aran-nin." Calelon spoke up concernedly as he eyed Thranduil's suddenly ashen white skin. Clearly the move had taken a lot more than expected out of his King.

Calelon watched as Thranduil shook his head but before the healer could so much as groan in exasperation he saw the King rear forward suddenly, hands flying up over his nearly fully bandaged mouth as he made a retching noise.

Instantly aware of what was about to happen Calelon was there, small chamber pot at the ready and he held his King steady, "It's ok Aran-nin I'm here."

Thranduil gagged and retched again before he swallowed desperate to stop himself from being sick; yet his tortured body had clearly had enough and gave in with the next nauseating flip his stomach made. He vomited violently, vaguely aware of an arm round him but only just. He was far more aware of the tight pain of his stomach clenching in the most painful manner as it emptied itself and of the vile taste of blood and bile combined. His tight, burned skin too protested his jerky, heaving movements as Thranduil gagged repeatedly until at last there was nothing left.

The King collapsed backwards onto his pillows in utter exhaustion, mind completely hazed by pain.

~o~

He could hear voices – they seemed distant and faraway – and Thranduil felt panic seize him. His maethyr, those were the voices of his maethyr were they not? His Elite. Why did they sound so far away? Thranduil looked round him wildly, forced himself to sit up a little – he would not let that beast separate him and cut him off – not again.

Just then Thranduil felt something brush him, touch him and he jerked back violently.

"Do not – do not touch me!" Thranduil reached for his sword but was dismayed to find it missing. Still he held his hands up in a combative stance, steadfastly ignoring the pain that flared in them. "Stay away serpent!"

Calelon pulled his hands away from his King in surprise at the sudden change in demeanour and shared a concerned glance with both Mithrandir and Aiwendil.

"Aran-nin sdh, sdh please. You are safe try not to be alarmed."

Gandalf took a step closer to Thranduil and laid a gentle arm on his tense shoulders, "You can relax and calm down Oropherion. You are here, safe in your halls and you are well."

Thranduil jumped as the fire serpent dared to touch him again and he snarled, "How do you know my name? I said stay away!"

With those angry words the blonde violently jerked himself backwards and to the side and very nearly fell off the bed as result. Calelon was there in an instant reaching out to steady his King before he took a nasty fall.

"Help me Mithrandir I need him to be still, Aiwendil bring me the strongest painkillers we've got – ones with the quickest sedative effects. Please both of you quickly."

For it was now clear to Calelon that Thranduil's grip on reality had slipped completely and that the blonde was in the throes of delirium. Promises be damned – it was more than time that the Royal healer administered some pain relief to his agonised King.

Yet Mithrandir holding Thranduil down whilst Calelon tried to secure him to the bed seemed to have been the worst move they could have made as Thranduil really began to struggle then, to fight them in earnest and scream.

"Unhand me miserable worm – I will not succumb to you – not so easily. My warriors are nearby and you do not wish to anger them so unhand me servant of Darkness!" Thranduil struggled then panicked as he felt the dragon's claws tighten round him and hold him in place all the tighter.

"Duron! Arodon!" Thranduil struggled harder to free himself and felt his skin, which was tight and painful for some reason he could not fathom, break and begin to bleed.

"Arthon! Aglardaer please! Anno dulu enni!" Thranduil screamed out for his Elite – he cared not how weak and cowardly he looked at that moment shouting for others to aid him. He simply wanted to be free of his serpentine prison.

The healer and Istari in the room were horrified. Thranduil was completely and utterly delusional and quite clearly thought himself back on the scorched battlefield.

Calelon steadied his grip on his King before shouting back at Aiwendil, "Do hurry and bring that dratted potion here already Aiwendil before Aran Thranduil really hurts himself." The healer looked down at bandages that were slowly colouring red under the firm grip of both he and Mithrandir and felt deep pain sear his heart at the sight. "Please, please hurry!"

Thranduil for his part just screamed; raw and pained and dreadful. His Elite were gone – no doubt murdered by the same miserable worm that had him trapped now. He was alone. He was alone and he was on fire – his skin burned fiercely and he hurt with a pain that seemed soul deep and Thranduil knew he was being consumed.

Consumed by a dragon's dark flames. The elven King screamed.

~o~

Calelon sat in Thranduil's bedside chair as he tried and failed to nurse hot cup of chamomile tea. His hands shook badly, sending the hot liquid sloshing dangerously about the cup and in the end he simply set it down and clasped his hands together tightly in the hope that they would stop shaking.

They didn't.

And Calelon didn't think they would stop anytime soon – at least not whilst he had Thranduil's dreadful screams and panicked, gurgling shouts still ringing round in his mind. The Royal healer failed to suppress a shudder even as he glanced at the now peacefully sleeping figure in the bed as he recalled how Thranduil had very nearly choked to death as they had tried to administer the powerful painkiller and sedative that Aiwendil had brought over.

Calelon rubbed a tired hand over his face. The morning's events were not ones that would fade from his memory anytime soon.

Gently he reached a still trembling hand out to push a stray strand of hair from Thranduil's re-bandaged and now slack face. Calelon sighed aloud – once Thranduil had succumbed to sleep he had had to re-do all his hard work. Cleaning and re-bandaging all of Thranduil's wounds which had opened again due the blonde's frantic trashing brought on by his hallucinations.

Calelon sighed again – deep and weary, "He looks so peaceful now yet I feel guilty. I broke my promise to my King and he will be furious when he awakens."

The Royal healer's grey clad companion snorted, "Your King is a fool. You should have listened to me instead and drugged him long before." Seeing the other's crestfallen expression Gandalf gentled his tone, "Still, never mind all that now – what's done is done and it was done for the best. How deeply have you put him under? How long do you think he will remain asleep?"

Calelon clasped his shaking hands in front his face, "I put him under quite deep. Unless I call him back first he will be asleep for at least a full week before he awakens again."

Calelon stared at his pale, scrubbed-clean-from-blood, trembling hands as he rested them in his lap. He and Mithrandir had decided it would be best if Calelon forced the King's fa deep into sleep in order to give his body time to heal and give his mind much needed respite from the memories that so clearly haunted him. Calelon really hadn't wanted to go to such an extreme but found that he couldn't argue against the benefits such a deep and prolonged rest would bring to his King.

Slowly and reverently Calelon crossed his heart even as he murmured fervent prayers to Elebereth under his breath.

Hopefully the next time Thranduil awakened he would be lucid and in a much better state of mind and health.

Hopefully when next the King awakened most of his sight would be returned to his right eye.

Hopefully. Hopefully. Hopefully.

TBC.
End Notes:
Riel – Princess

Aran-nin/Aran - My King/King

Eledhrim – Elves

Ellon – Male elf

Sdh – Peace

Suilad – Greetings

Istar – Quenya for Wizard

Istari – (Plural of Istar) – Quenya for Wizards

Adar – Father

Ernil – Prince

Lasseg – Little Leaf – Family nickname for Legolas

Maethyr – (plural) Warriors

Hannon-le – Thank you

Anno dulu enni – Help me

Fa – Soul (Quenya)

A/N: So a completely Thranduil-centric chapter here and I think there will be more like this as we go on – but fear not I have gotten over my need to torture the poor ellon now and so next chapter we should see him making progress. Yay! Thank you guys for sticking with this fic (and me) I appreciate it so much. Also – I know I said this would be no more than eight chapters but I think there will be a bit more than that now – it won't be Friendship Amidst Loss style epic – but still more than I initially anticipated. And for those reading FAL – I'm working on it – I'm just stuck on a bit of dialogue and can't seem to move past it – I'm taking it in to my lovely beta Karleen for some help this weekend so I promise I'm working on it! And as ever thanks for reading :)
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