A/N: This story is something I had been wondering about for a few weeks/months. The inspiration comes from reading many LOTR-fics, specifically the ones that are about a young/uncertain Legolas. The main inspiration source for this story was 'The truth behind those sad eyes' (see my profile favourite stories for the link). I'm not sure about the actual plotline, but I have planned several chapters ahead already and I've written a few more parts. I don't think I will be updating this story a lot, seeing that school is taking it's toll on my amount of free time now. On that account, any updates for my other stories will take a while. I'm not sure where to go with Prodigy, and I think A Small Step needs a total rewrite. I won't stop writing on them, however, so I will post updates (eventually).
I hope my style of writing gets easier to read with every passing chapter. It makes it easier for me to know that you aren't struggling to get through the first chapter of any fic I write. Please post any comments about my writing style/grammar. Reviews are appreciated, as always.
Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings Franchise is not mine. All the recognisable characters are property of J.R.R. Tolkien. The ones that you do not recognise from either the books or the films are mine.
The Fears of a Prince - Chapter 1
Legolas looked into the mirror to see if he was presentable. A small, slender elf looked back at him. Unusually slender, even for an elf, he was. The ignored the long, soft blond hair that fell around his head in long locks, and he paid no attention to the big blue eyes that gazed straight back at him. He sighed. He was unusually small for an elf, like he was slender, and he would most likely not grow anymore. He wasn't really close to reaching maturity at fifteen hundred years of age, but he had stopped growing much quite a while ago. And with only six-hundred years to go until his maturity, he wouldn't grow a lot. Alas, that was the way of the elven growth. He hated it. He hated being smaller than everyone his age.
He sighed again as he watched himself further. He was wearing a green garb, much like the garbs of the patrolling warriors but this one with golden leaves embroidered on the shoulders. This garb had been made for him by the weavers who had done their best to create something that would fit the Crown Prince of Mirkwood, but they hadn't exactly succeeded. The cloth still hung around him like it was several sizes too big for the slender elf, though it wasn't as much as with his usual clothes.
Legolas winced as he remembered how much his ada, his father, always fussed over his clothes, especially around council meetings. He would insist that Legolas grow more, so that he would fill his clothes. But that was not something that he could control, so Legolas remained clothed in oversized tunics and leggings which required belts to be held up.
Legolas tore himself out of his reverie and shook the memories away. He had to think logically, not emotionally. He was going to the council meeting, to join in on the talks over the strategies regarding Mirkwood, and the continuous assault from orcs and spiders that threatened the Forest Kingdom. He was going to have to appear composed, rational and calm. Emotions could not cloud the judgement of a Prince, especially not in times as these.
Legolas left the room, preparing himself for the meeting. He knew what it was like out there, in the wilds, where the patrols fought against the orcs and spiders. He had been on several patrols himself already. Every male elf aged eight-hundred years or over was obliged to go on a patrol at least once a year. Such a patrol took one week exactly, in which the patrolling elves were left to their own devices against the orcs and spiders.
But where most of the other elves, the ones that were not warriors at least, had only one patrol per year, Legolas had already had fifteen. The year was far into passing, yes, for it was autumn already, but only the most seasoned warriors had had more patrols this year than the young Prince.
Legolas walked through the torch-lit hallways of Mirkwood's underground palace as he made his way to his father's council room. He had only just returned from his last patrol this morning, and had spent a part of the morning with the healers. He had dislocated his shoulder on the last day of the patrol, and the healers had set it for him.
They had, of course, asked him how he had obtained that dislocated shoulder, but he had been reluctant to tell the truth. It was quite shameful, to dislocate ones shoulder in such a way as he had had.
On the last day of their patrol, Legolas and his group had made their way towards one of the main paths that led through Mirkwood. They had sent Legolas out as a scout, for he was the smallest elf and the most agile. He could move through the forest unheard; even by elven standards he was very stealthy.
He had stumbled on an spider's nest, complete with spiders and all, from the treetops he moved through. He had observed them initially for quite a while, counting only one old spider in the large webs. He had taken his bow and arrows, to kill the spider from the distance.
But his first arrow failed to kill the spider, embedding itself in the head of the grotesque animal without doing lethal damage. The large beast had begun trashing around, racing the webs that spanned between the trees like it was possessed. After missing the creature multiple times, Legolas decided that it was useless to try and kill the animal using his bow, it was simply moving far too fast and erratic for him to get a good shot.
He had climbed down from his treetop, pulling his twin blades to end the creature's life from up close. As soon as he entered the webs, however, the trashing spider stood unnervingly still. It turned around, looking directly at Legolas with his eight large eyes, spooking the small elf. Legolas tumbled backwards, finding his feet and ankle spun over with thick strands of the silky spider web.
He had grabbed his blades and sliced around him as much as possible, trying to rid himself from the webs that were spun around him, but the strands came to fast. He noticed two other spiders, hidden in the shadow of the trees, that were spewing their trapping webs at him faster than he could slice them away. Before long, the unfortunate elf was spun in a tight cocoon of webs, twin blades useless for they were spun in thick strands of web. His bow and arrows were on the elf's back, out of his reach, for he had put them back there when he went to kill the wounded old spider.
The rest of the patrol had stumbled on the spider's nest not much later, and by that time Legolas had coerced the tree that was holding the cocoon with the elf so far as to drop him. Legolas was usually good in communicating with trees, but this tree was far away from the protected parts of the forest, and had fallen under the darkness quite a while ago. It had been corrupted on the inside, and the elvish words had initially fallen on deaf ears with the tree.
Just when the rest of the patrol had killed the spiders effortlessly, the tree had dropped the slender elf from its branch. The fall was from quite high, and Legolas was unable to catch himself from falling. He had landed painfully on his shoulder, dislocating it, causing him to cry out.
The patrol had reached Mirkwood palace several hours later. Legolas had made his way to the healers deeply ashamed, for it was considered a shame when one was injured by a spider when on a patrol.
Right now, the Crown Prince of Mirkwood was in front of his father's council rooms, gathering up courage to enter. Inside, he would have to face his father and his councillors. He breathed deeply, knocked, and opened the door.
"Legolas, how nice of you to join us today." Thranduil said as he saw his son enter.
"I'm sorry I was later, ada." Legolas said, not wanting to specify why he was late. It was bad enough as it was that his patrol knew that he had been bested by a few spiders. At least they had the respect for their prince to keep their mouths shut.
"Why are you late?" Thranduil asked, seeing through the plan of his son.
"I had dislocated my shoulder when we found a spider's nest on the latest patrol, father. It has been set by the healers only a short while ago." Legolas said, deciding that throwing everything out in the open was the best course of action. At least they couldn't accuse him of dishonesty this way.
"How has the Prince of Mirkwood dislocated his shoulder?"
"I was scouting for the patrol when I found a spider's nest. There was only one spider visible, and I sensed no other spiders nearby. I shot it with my bow, but the shot did not kill it. It was moving too fast to hit with my bow, so I tried to kill it with my blade."
"Legolas, hurry up please, I do not have all day to wait for your tardiness."
"I'm sorry, ada." Legolas said quicky. "As soon as I neared the spider, I was trapped from behind by two other spiders. They overwhelmed me and they spun their threads around me before they hung me off a branch. The trees there are corrupted by darkness, so it took some time before I had coerced the tree that was holding me to drop me. But unfortunately, the fall was longer than I had expected, and thus I dislocated my shoulder."
"It seems to me that you were foolish, Legolas. Is it not considered a shame when wounded while fighting something as trivial as spiders?" Thranduil asked his son, contempt obvious in his voice. "Shouldn't the Crown Prince of Mirkwood be able to fight spiders on his own?"
"I'm sorry, ada." Legolas said softly, ashamed of his own stupidity.
"You have disgraced me, Legolas. Now sit down." Thranduil said, unaware of the effect his harsh words had on his son. He knew that Legolas was hurt, and that he was ashamed, but he couldn't let his son slack off just because he was the crown prince. The prince needed to be an example for all his people, and right now Legolas was not that. Thranduil knew full well that the prince was timid and shy, and he was trying to change that. He needed Legolas to be strong and tough, and he was trying to do that by being colder to his son. A cold shoulder would certainly work to toughen him up, to make him strong. The skies of Middle Earth are made for the sharp eyes and claws of a hawk, not for the soft eyes of a dove.
Thranduil decided to give his son some time to ponder over his current situation by starting the meeting at the subject the furthest away from Legolas' interest. He did not consider himself a bad parent, but he needed to teach his son how to behave as a prince.
Over time, the meeting drifted closer towards Legolas' subject, the latest reports of the patrols.
"Legolas, what are your findings about the latest movements of orcs and spiders in the south?" Thranduil asked his son.
"The orcs seem to multiply by the day. They spread increasingly further from their caves in the south, and they reach further north in larger groups as we speak. The patrols can still defend us from their attacks, but I do not know how much longer they'll hold."
"And the spiders?"
"The spiders seem to place their nests further and further north with each passing season. The patrols are still able to destroy all the nests, but I do not know how much longer we can maintain this kind of vigilance against the ever-increasing attacks."
"Prince Legolas," councillor Ardhel, one of the most influential councillors in Mirkwood, started, "how many orcs do you estimate there to be within the territory patrolled by us on an average day?"
"I do not know, but..."
"Do you not know?" Ardhel interrupted the Prince.
"No, my lord, I..."
"Have you not returned only this morning with a patrol?" Ardhel interrupted Legolas again. "Should you not know how many orcs and spiders there are out there?"
"There are roughly fifty orcs in our patrolled territory, I estimate, as well as twenty spiders, my lord." Legolas said swiftly, interrupting Ardhel before he could speak of the shame Legolas was to his family.
"Legolas, you disappoint me. You know very well not to interrupt you superiors." Thranduil said harshly. Legolas needed to learn manners, this transgression was unusually bad for the prince. It was totally not befitting the behaviour of a crown prince to interrupt a councillor when in a meeting.
"No! No more of your weak excuses. You will leave this meeting now, and you will not leave the castle until I have spoken with you. Now go." Thranduil sent his son away, oblivious to the shame it caused to the young one.
Legolas left the council room, closing the door softly behind him. He was not childish enough to slam doors. He was past that stage.
"You're a disgrace to our family, Legolas." Aerolas said, startling Legolas.
Aerolas was Legolas' younger brother, though one would not guess him to be younger than his sibling. Aerolas was at least a full foot taller than Legolas, having already reached the same height as his ada, despite being two hundred years younger than Legolas. Aerolas was also a lot more muscled and stronger than Legolas, though he was not nearly as agile. Aerolas seemed to radiate a sense of power and might, much unlike Legolas, who only carried out a message of uncertainty and timidity.
Thranduil knew very well of the differences between his two sons. Aerolas was confident and proud, whereas Legolas was shy and timid in comparison. Aerolas was open and outgoing, Legolas was more introvert and closed. Legolas was the crown prince, and therefore the heir to the throne of Mirkwood, but Thranduil rather preferred Aerolas to have the throne. A leader needed to be strong and proud, and Aerolas was far stronger and prouder than Legolas. But Thranduil knew full well that Legolas was the one to obtain the throne after he had sailed, for Legolas was born first. It was the will of the Valar that Legolas had been born first, and their will had to be carried out.
Legolas looked startled into the dark blue eyes of his younger brother. He did not like to admit it, but he had to look up to see his brother's face. In fact, he had to look up at nearly every adult elf to see in their eyes, for he was far smaller than usual for an elf.
"Don't be sad, Legolas," Aerolas started, "You can't change that you were born as a failure."
The younger prince slammed his hand down on his brother's shoulder, eliciting a look of shock and pain on Legolas' face. Aerolas was strong, and he slammed down hard on Legolas' tender shoulder, the one that had been dislocated only hours before. Legolas managed to suppress a cry of pain, and he saw a disappointed look in his brother's eyes.
"Go pick on someone who does care, Aerolas." Legolas said coldly before moving away from under his brother's hand.
"Don't be angry with me, Legolas. I'm not the one who sends you on patrols to get you killed." Aerolas said, unable to keep the smirk of his face.
Legolas barely managed to hide his shock at the words of his brother. Was his father really sending him on patrols that much to have him killed? Did he really despise him that much? It was true that Legolas had been on a lot of patrols the last few years, with only one week of rest between each of them. Maybe his ada really wanted him dead... Maybe he wasn't good enough to be an heir to the throne of Mirkwood. Maybe Aerolas was right. Maybe he was a failure, a disgrace to the family.
Legolas ran towards his room with tears in his eyes. He did not want to cry, for real princes didn't cry, but he wasn't sure if he could manage his tears. And he would not want to be seen crying in a hallway.
Legolas ran through the long hallways of the underground palace as swiftly as he could, to avoid being seem as much as possible. But there were servants doing their everyday jobs, and he could not avoid detection completely. Many servants looked up with a look of contempt in their eyes, for they shared the opinions of their king regarding the behaviour of Legolas. A weak ruler was a bad ruler, after all.
Legolas knew full well that the servants hated him for being a weakling. He knew they despised his weakness, his timidness and his frailty. He knew that he was a bad prince, and everyone in the palace agreed with him.
Legolas reached his room, bolted inside and carefully closed the door. His room was large, and well-lit, despite being carved out of a rock. A large bed, much larger than the small elf would ever need, stood in the corner of the room. Legolas carefully moved towards the bed and curled up in the far corner. He was a disgrace, a failure, to the family and to Mirkwood. He had been one for as long as he could remember, and he would always be one.
Tears fell from the soft blue eyes as the lithe elf laid in the corner of the bed and the wall, trembling. Legolas fought hard to suppress the tears, for a real prince didn't cry, but he failed. He scolded himself for crying, and it made him feel even more unwanted than he already felt. He felt alone, with no one to care for him and no one to comfort him. He felt alone, without friends. He had not had any friend, for as long as he could remember.
Legolas had felt unwanted and unwelcome too, for as long as he could remember. Ever since he was born, his father had been distant and cold to him. The servants treated him with respect, for he was still a prince, but cold nonetheless.
Unbeknownst to Legolas, he was wanted, and he was loved. Thranduil was not heartless, and he loved his son despite his timidness and shyness. But he also knew that if he didn't watch out with Legolas that the prince would transform in an hypocrite, spoiled brat. He had seen it happen far too often with princes from neighbouring realms, that kings were overthrown by jealous princes who had been raised to think that they were better than everyone. A good king should be better than everyone, not just act like it. That was why Thranduil very rarely shoved his love to Legolas, out of fear for him turning into a brat.
A/N: And? Did you like it? Please review!