Waiting for Battle by Karri

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Legolas Greenleaf barely stopped himself from fidgeting as his father's eyes flicked to him for the umpteenth time that evening. Thranduil's gaze seemed to seek him out constantly since the parley with Thorin Oakenshield. He seeks the appropriate words to send me away, Legolas mused silently.

"If I find them, will you go?"

Legolas started at the abrupt breaking of the silence within the tent. Recomposing himself, he quirked his head as he met Thranduil's solemn gaze.

"I thought not," Thranduil answered, despite Legolas's silence, and his gaze fell from his son as a shadow darkened his eyes.

"Please do not fear, father; you will not lose me," Legolas vowed, his heart aching from the anguish he'd glimpsed before his father looked away.

"That, my Leaf, is a promise you cannot make," Thranduil replied sadly.

He is right, of course, Legolas admitted to himself. I wonder if my brother made the same vow before they marched away to Dagorlad, he mused, as he studied his father's downturned face.

"Nor can I promise you will not lose me," Thranduil added, nearly under his breath.

Legolas's brow furrowed. It was an outcome that had not crossed his mind, for his father had always seemed indomitable. Yet, likely, his own father seemed the same to him, and still Oropher fell, he thought. Aloud, he consoled, "At least it is but dwarves, and not the fierce minions of the Dark Lord."

Thranduil grimaced. "Beneath the spell of gold and jewels, dwarves can be fierce enough..."

Legolas mentally kicked himself. He had not thought... Of course, to his father, dwarves were not so less an enemy than orcs, for dwarves had been the first to sack Thranduil's childhood home and it had been they who killed Thingol, his King.

"It may yet not come to blows...," Legolas suggested, hopefully. "Thorin and his company cannot hope to prevail over so many; surely, even under the spell of gold, he can comprehend as much."

Thranduil chuckled mirthlessly. "Who can say what a dwarf can comprehend while enthralled by gold." He lifted his gaze, then, and met his son's gaze. "But, yes, I suspect even Thorin can comprehend that the odds do not favor him should it come to blows; thus, I fear there may yet be a card hidden up his sleeve, waiting for the perfect moment to be dealt...a card that shall spend the blood of too many in its playing."

"My bow and my knife shall not falter, father, no matter what cards remain to be played," Legolas vowed.

Though his gaze remained sad, Thranduil smiled proudly. "I do not doubt that you will honor your lineage with your valor, my son," he assured, before his expression fell again, and he added, under his breath, "Skill and valor, though, are not always enough."

It was Legolas's turn to look away. I cannot bear to see him in such anguish, and know that fear for me is the cause of it, he lamented to himself. Yet, neither can I dishonor myself and lineage by fleeing from the threat of battle...battle against dwarves, at that.

"I cannot prevent you from standing at my side should battle come; I know this well, my Leaf," Thranduil admitted, breaking the silence that had begun to grow heavy between them. "As I know that I cannot prevent the battle itself, should that be Thorin's will, save by abandoning those we have sworn to aid." Thranduil sighed softly, before continuing, "Thus, should battle come, we will fight, and fight well, filled with the glory of battle that banishes fear and doubt and all else but the desire to smite the enemy." Thranduil assured. "In that moment, I shall trust in your skill and valor to see you through and bring you back to me again, whole and sound, and will waste no thought on any other outcome."

Legolas's held his father's steady gaze and smile at the pride and love he saw directed toward him. But, after a moment, Thranduil's gaze fell once more.

"It is the waiting that is the difficult part," the Elvenking confessed in a hushed voice. "It is then, before the bloodlust of battle sets in, when there is naught to do but think and hope, that one feels the heavy weight of all that might be lost, so lopsided in value against the little that might be won..." Thranduil's voice faded away and silence filled their tent once more.

Legolas waited until the stillness grew oppressive with the weight of his father's anguish, then he rose and stretch. I have been still too long, he decided. The night air and starlight will do me good. But before he could move, Legolas heard his father's voice, almost as a breath, mutter "It is the waiting…"

His heart nearly broke at the depth of the despair in the voice. If indeed it is the waiting that is most difficult for him, then it during the wait that my strength is most needed by his side, Legolas realized. Resolved, he moved his seat from opposite his father to beside him and made himself comfortable, content to bask in the light of his father's love, rather than the light of the stars, this night.




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