Thranduil ran long fingers over the delicate branch, a gentle rain fell over the green forest. The musical spatter and rhythmic drops along with the soft rustle of leaves was a beautiful song, but did little to calm the aching mind of the once joyful king. The lilting tone of his subject’s musical voice failed to lift his dour spirits. This time of year was always the worst. The memories always clearer and more painful, harder to deal with. The echoed words of long-ago comfort circled through his mind as his hands trailed the branch. He recalled someone, he remembered not who, had told him it would get easier. It had been a lie.
The loss of Ellerian pained him now every bit as it had when she had died in his arms centuries before. The fiend who had taken her from him, and maimed him, was long dead but that was small consolation for the hole he felt in the fibre of his being. She had loved the autumn, how the colours had spread through the leaves, turning them to fire. Weaving the fallen leaves, golden, brown and red, into festival circlets for their people had been a favourite pastime of hers. She’d sat for hours in the window, the cool breeze touching her auburn hair, working those leaves together. Sometimes she’d add berries, especially if they had been for young ones. She had made the one set about his brow, many centuries before and he had sworn to always wear it in autumn. She had smiled at that. He’d do anything to see that smile again, to have her here with him again.
He smiled, aware that there was only melancholy in the gesture. That could not be. She had been stolen, taken away on the wind of death, leaving him with an emptiness that could never be filled. Not completely. He had Legolas of course. The dear child had done much in the first years to pull his focus away from the all consumptive loneliness. He had loved him and taught him as best as he could, though he had fallen short. There were times that he could have been more tender, less reserved in his affections towards his son.
Ellerian had said that to him while she had lived. She hadn’t been one for grand displays, but love and affection came easily to her. Those she loved knew they were loved, Thranduil was quite different. All he had managed was a gentle touch of a shoulder, or what he had hoped was a kindly smile. He could have done so much more. A kiss while he slept hadn’t been enough, had it?
The leaflet still brought a smile to his face, a true smile, one that reached his star-blue. As awkward and strained as their relationship had become, Legolas was still a shining beacon of hope. His steadfastness to his duty and their people were a true credit and although Thranduil never said anything, he was fiercely proud of his son. He defended the borders as passionately as any of the scouts, though his interest in Tauriel might prove to be a cause for concern. He would spare his son the pain such love could cause if it was in his power to do so. No one should experience this if it could be helped.
His hand let go of the branch he was holding and he turned back towards his chambers; perhaps some time sitting in the window watching the autumn leaves will offer some of the solace that he was forever seeking.