Into the East by Karri

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"Ada, how did we get here?" asked a small voice from above, and Thranduil peered up into the tree against which he sat. He smiled as his child's face peeked through the leaves, grey eyes fixed on him inquiringly.

"Here, on Arda?" Thranduil queried with a quirk of the head.

"No, Ada. I know that story," Legolas answered, giggling in a way that told Thranduil his son thought the question silly. "How did we get here, the Greenwood?"

"Ah," replied Thranduil. "That is a much less exciting tale, for it amounts to little more than choosing a direction, and then stopping when we found a large and lovely wood that would have us."

Legolas flipped down so that he hung from the branch by his legs and swung to and fro for a moment, before his father reached up to gather the child in his arms.

"But how did you choose the direction, Ada?" Legolas asked, curiously. Settling on his father's lap, he peered up expectantly.

Thranduil softly petted his son's head as he pondered how to answer. It was not a difficult question...but a truthful answer would reveal more of the ugliness of the world than a child should know exists,he told himself. Yet, ignorance of it did not spare the children of Doriath, any more than the knowledge of it spared the children of the Havens. No, it is better than he learn of it now, so that perhaps in the future he will know it when he sees it and be better prepared than was I."

"Ada?" Legolas prodded, as his fingers played with the edge of his father's tunic.

"Well, you might say the direction was chosen for us," Thranduil began, peering down with a tender smile.

Legolas quirked his head, as he parroted,"Chosen for you?"

"Indeed," confirmed Thranduil. "For our choices were to go into the West..."

"To Aman?" Legolas asked. "Why did you not choose that direction, Ada? Would our people not have been welcome? Did not the Vala call all Eldar to come into the West?"

Thranduil smiled sadly and replied, "We would have been welcome, of course, and many did set sail. Indeed, I suppose all the Eldar will go into the West someday, and, for better or worse, Middle-earth shall be left to the whims of Men, as is the will of Iluvatar. But, then...then, we were... Well, we were angry."

"Angry, Ada?" Legolas asked, sitting up a bit straighter as his interest was piqued.

Thranduil nodded, pensively, and reached out to stroke his elfling's small face in an effort to quiet the echo of emotions bubbling up from memory.

"At the Valar?" Legolas asked, leaning forward in eager anticipation.

Thranduil's head quirked as he pondered the question, then he answered, slowly, "Yes, at the Valar. I suppose we felt...abandoned by them."

"Abandoned? " Legolas parroted. "But did not they send a great host to throw down Angband and defeat Morgoth? Why would you feel abandoned?"

Thranduil's gaze drifted away then, wandering back into days of anger and despair, and he shuddered.

"Ada?" Legolas asked with concern, a small hand reaching up to his father's cheek.

Thranduil closed his eyes and breathed deeply, forcing himself back into the present, and then peered down at his child, once more. "They did," he answered, "But it seemed to us then that there had been so much they HAD not done, nor even that when they did act, they acted as a mercy to us. For, to us then, it seemed that even the Valar acted only in pursuit of the Silmarils... The Silmarils," he sighed.

"The Silmarils! Did you see them, Ada," Legolas asked, his voice filled with wonder. "Were they truly evil?"

"Evil?" Thranduil repeated. "No, they were not evil. And yes, I did see one—the one that Elwing possesed, the one that now sails across the sky to light Earendil's path."

"Gil-Estel!" Legolas gasped, his voice caught somewhere between reverence and wonder.

"Indeed!" confirmed Thranduil. "Something so beautiful, so able to inspire hope, surely cannot be evil. But, I think, it is difficult to behold something so marvelous and not lust for it...and it is in that that the evil lies."

Legolas quirked his head, uncertainly, and Thranduil clarified, "In lust, in wanting more than is our due."

Legolas nodded, then, though hesitantly. "So you did not go into the West because you were angry at the Valar for abandoning our people."

Thranduil tilted his head in thought, and then responded, "It was more than that, and less than that in some ways. For we were angry at the Valar for abandoning us, but also many of the Noldor had been granted leave to return into the West...and to us, they were the enemy. How could we choose to live amongst them?"

"The enemy?" Legolas asked, "But wasn't Earendil a Noldo, Ada? Is he the enemy?"

"Nay," laughed Thranduil. "Earendil is not an enemy. He is of Noldo blood, though, that is true. There were many Noldor living amongst the Sindar at the Havens."

"And they were not your enemies?" Legolas queried in confusion.

"No, they were not our enemies," his father confirmed. "But those who attacked the Havens, they were Noldor, as well, and we could not forget that when time came to choose our direction."

"But the Noldor are not evil?" pressed Legolas.

Thranduil frowned as he thought about his answer, and then admitted, "My ada might have said they are, but no, the Noldor are not evil. There is perhaps too much shadow in the souls of some, such as the sons of Feanor, but there a bit of shadow in every soul, I think. For if there were no shadow, one could not choose goodness and light—and it is the choice that makes one truly good. Do you understand?"

Legolas hesitated a moment, then nodded slowly. "I think so," he replied, then pressed onward. "So you would not go into the West. And you could not go north, for that land had been rent asunder during the defeat of Morgoth?"

Thranduil nodded and smiled, pleased that the child had been paying attention to the songs and tales of old.

"But did not Gil-galad also bring his people eastward?" Legolas asked.

"He did," Thranduil confirmed. "And many Noldor and Sindar together went eastward with Celeborn and Galadriel."

"Is that why you did not go south, Ada?" Legolas asked. "Because Celeborn and Galadriel went south?"

Thranduil laughed, "Indeed, my wise child!"

"And you did not stay west of the Anduin because Gil-galad and the other Noldor stayed on that side of the river," Legolas mused.

"You have guessed correctly, again, my sage little leaf," Thranduil remarked.

"Then do you hate them, Ada?" Legolas asked, his brow furrowed seriously.

"Hate who? The Noldor?" Thranduil clarified, and Legolas nodded. "No," Thranduil answered. "I do not hate them. I was angry for a time, and bitter in my grief for all that was lost, but hate...that is a shadow that corrupts more surely than did the Silmarils."

"Yet still we live here, far away from the Noldor..." Legolas observed.

Thranduil nodded, "Yes, that is true, and perhaps, when we settled in the Greenwood, the shadow of anger and bitterness threatened to darken into hate, but the light and beauty of this place healed our hearts. We found love and joy here, and those things will always win out over shadow in the end if one opens one's heart to let it in."

Legolas smiled and squirmed to his feet, before throwing himself at his father, small arms wrapping tightly around Thranduil's neck in a grateful hug. "I'm glad, Ada, that the direction chosen for you led you here."

The end.

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