"Does the temperature change in regard to season?"
Your eyes watched shimmering pools of water, streams intricate, small waterfalls cascading downwards. The walls were damp where the fire's heat did not reach, especially higher up. Looking upwards, it seemed to go on forever before becoming a pure black. Columns ran upwards making arches, all with curlicue Elven patterns of an odd design. It was a merge of various Elven styles, and you could note each influence in this cave. Especially the bridge, it spoke of Doriath and Menegroth, of times now lost.
"Nay, you will have to bear the cold. You should not stand so much in the dark, the fires will have to be a substitute for the warmth of the sun."
But nothing can ever substitute the sun. There were no trees and plants, gardens or plains to roam. There were no more starry night skies where you could spend all night looking at the mysteries out of your own world. No more blue skies or rainfalls, and most of all, no more Erestor or Glorfindel or Elrond. Nay, your time in Imladris was over. But less than a century would have to be spent here before heading off to Valinor, where you could live as your Elven ancestors had wanted to.
But ever with your disagreement to your words you stepped closer to the fire. Like small serpents of relief it ran through you hands and face, bringing each part of you back to normality. When the traces of cold were gone Thranduil spoke again, as if he had been watching you close enough to tell when.
"I will leave you to your room now."
"Thank you, King Thranduil."
You couldn't bear calling him /your/ king or lord yet, but Thranduil seemed to have been used to his title and not in the least embarrassed by it.
His hand fell lightly on your lower back, the pressure minimal yet his fingers were spread out. He slowly pushed you along the pathways, they all looked the same to you. You made your steps fall in sync with his, his style of walking more languid then what you were used.
The blond king stopped before a doorway, motioning for you to go inside. You did so, seeing a good-sized room, high ceilings, carved walls and a majestic beauty. Very beautiful, but yet not what you were used to. As anybody in Rivendell could say, the best rooms had the best windows, especially in the hall for Elrond's family and councillors, where each had a balcony. How many days would Elrond just lounge there with a book? But you had to stop thinking like that. You were in Mirkwood, it was time to act as such.
"It's beautiful. Is this where I will be staying?"
"Yes. Legolas is across from you, I've heard that you know him. And I am to the right of his room."
Thranduil still stood in the doorway, lithe form covered in dark grey robes. He was waiting, for what you did not know. You looked around each corner, not used to being closed off. From Lórien's openness to all of Rivendell's pavilions and windows, this seemed like a prison. You began to feel uneasy.
"Are we at ground height?"
"Nay, two stories below."
Thranduil perhaps saw your discomfort because he made another elaborate hand motion, this time to the ceiling. You glanced up, thankful that the ceilings were high.
"You shall grow used to it, and until then, you may go where you please above ground. But take someone with you, Elrond has made me promise to keep a close eye you."
You gave a nod, perhaps more eager than it should be. Thranduil left then for his room, and you saw that your things had already been put away. You pulled down a book on Mirkwood's history and opened it up, making sure you knew it all. Books could make anything sound more joyous or despairing then what it was though.
"My lady, would you like to explore the forest of Mirkwood?"
You looked to Legolas who stood in the doorway, a light smile on his lips. He knew how you liked the outdoors, your life devoted to Lórien and Rivendell in turn.
Without a doubt, you followed him.
"Can we not spend more time here? Under the trees?"
"Nay, we have spent long enough here. My father does hold some rules."
You followed Legolas silently through the woods, the darkness almost macabre in the unsteady silence. Shadows crept, twisting what had been to something else, something far from Elven.
"And what are those?"
Legolas's eyes traced from you to the marks of claws and axes upon the trees, the smell of orcs upon the air and their dried blood upon the ground.
"After my mother's death, unless one knows how to defend themselves, they cannot be out past nightfall. You, my lady, cannot fight. You are a scholar and a councillor, and not even the trees are friends here."
You had no response, it was true enough with no need for debate. You followed Legolas back, his body almost tense as he took out an arrow, as if expecting to be attacked. He shot three off into the distance, a twang and scream filling the air. You blood chilled and you wished no more to be home in Rivendell. To be able to hide in the library or to even have Erestor to stand behind. To have Glorfindel promising you that you were safe like he did when you were but a young child.
Legolas simply could not provide you with that safety. Nor could he provide you with comfort as you had to feel the closed in space once more. Even the high ceilings could not come close to having the distance of the sun to spread out in though you would never reach the top.
It was unsettling. So much so that you sat down in the throne room- the largest room to be found- with a goblet of dorwinion wine. You sat on Legolas's seat, knowing he wouldn't not be upset over it. Or you had expected it to be Legolas's.
"My lady, you cannot sit there! That is the seat of the queen. You must get off before the King comes!"
You looked up slowly at who spoke, a servant of the sorts by look. Your gaze told them you did not care much, and you heaved your body upwards. You felt like the world rested on your shoulders.
"I'll retire for the night then."
You picked up the bottle of wine, taking in a shallow breath before slipping down the hall and out of the servant's sight. The servant's heart was racing from the shock, and it jumped when Thranduil was seen behind a large column. His face was nostalgic, thinking hard and not showing much emotions because of it. It had been too long since he had let someone sit there. Since he had let someone be his equal and someone to confide in. He wondered how long it would be before he could tell you his secrets and you would share with him a relationship like you did to Elrond. Did it take the centuries which counted up to two ages? Did it take a Ñoldorin high king for that to be done? Or did he just have to wait and try in his own ways?
His fingers traced past the elvish runes on the columns as he strode to his throne and took a seat. He found his hand on the arm rest of the seat beside him. He traced his thumb over his fingertips, remembering what it was like to have someone hold his hand. That had not happened since Legolas had desperately tried to show his archery skills and dragged him into the forest to do so...
It was not just remembering the past which he did, but also crave it.
It was almost a week since you had staid in Mirkwood when a letter came in. It was quite heavy and with a simple message. It was to be delivered by you, upon the request of Rivendell. That meant both Erestor and Elrond wished it to be given to you.
Thranduil took it upon himself to give it to you, his heart speeding up as your fingers touched his to grab the letter while yours sped up to read who it was from. You eagerly opened it up and pulled out a paper. Thranduil watched a relaxed smile come onto your face, and you looked more at peace than you had ever done so in Mirkwood. A twang of jealousy hit Thranduil that he could not make you feel the same way.
He wanted someone to talk to, someone to rule with. Someone Legolas could befriend and someone he could share his woes with. Maybe he did not want an advisor but a friend. He had chosen you upon first look, and convinced Elrond to 'lend' you over from immense begging. Elrond called it lust and told Thranduil no. But after a few years, Elrond could no longer call it just that. He had caved in.
Just like Thranduil was going to.
"You can go back to Rivendell."
You paused as Legolas looked quickly at his father in disbelief. You lowered your glass which was mid-way raised at the breakfast table as Thranduil assured all uncertainty with a firm nod.
"You are much more happy there, and I do not require your assistance in any state matters."
You were silent for a long time, enough time for Legolas to glare at his father and ask you not to leave, if he could visit you in Rivendell. You slowly then took a sip, got up, and gave Thranduil a small bow.
"Yes, my lord."
The first utterance of 'your' lord echoed softly in the room as you turned with no more emotion than what Thranduil had shown you. Legolas sat there as if he was told once more that his mother had left. Thranduil silent with an inner storm of emotions. Legolas a few seconds to screaming out about or at somebody.
"Why?! Why, ada?"
"If you love something, let it go. And if it doesn't come back, it was never yours to begin with."
And those were the only words father and son spoke to each other for as long as two weeks.
You felt someone pick you up from behind and you were spun around and embraced as if a child once more. You gave a small laugh, tilting your head back to catch the rays of the sun. The scent was sweet and of spring, everything safe and open. You were almost delirious before Glorfindel pressed kisses to your cheek.
"I missed you, mellon. I'm so glad you returned. Elrond is waiting."
At the mention of his name you smiled and quickly excised yourself. You actually ran down some halls, halls you've lived in for centuries now. You stopped right before the doors to Elrond's office then knocked.
And you did so without hesitation. The warm sun, sounds of leaves rustling and of birds. No dark shadows looming behind trees or orcs nearby. When you were once more embraced you almost beamed, hugging him back fiercely. You didn't let go of him until Erestor came in. Elrond's chief advisor looked almost disbelieving at you standing there before smirking.
"I knew you wouldn't last long by yourself-"
He was cut off by you kissing his temple.
"I missed you to."
The distinguished elf merely scoffed and pushed a pile of paperwork in your arms.
"Since you're here, perhaps we can actually catch up on paperwork-"
"I'm going back. In two days, actually. I already decided to stay there months ago and I'm not changing my mind now... And I already promised someone I would return."
Elrond merely raised an eyebrow. "Who?"
Thranduil's hand lazily crossed the arm rest of his chair and rested upon your hand. He traced his thumb over it, comforting you in the darker colours of Mirkwood. And over the years, it become appreciative. When you called Mirkwood your home Thranduil's eyes became glossy though he hid it well. Legolas less so, smiling foolishly like a child.
You would now always go back home. To Thranduil and Legolas.