Prologue

Emyn Muil, Rhovanion, Fourth Age 8

Thranduil quite enjoyed feeling Legolas leaning heavily on him. Not that he liked that his son was so badly injured, of course, but it felt good to hold him in his arms again. When was the last time he had? It must have been before Legolas left with the Fellowship, maybe ten or eleven years ago. Probably longer.

How had they become so distant? It felt like yesterday he was holding that wrinkled, ugly little baby in his arms, his chest painfully contracted, and promised his son that he would be a better father than Oropher.

Legolas was looking at him now, waiting for the scolding he knew was coming. Thranduil could read reserve, defiance and a hint of anxiety in those big, expressive eyes; his son's ability to hide his emotions had always been nonexistent. Thranduil was glad of that; not only because it made his task as a father easier, but because it meant Legolas' heart had not yet suffered the way his own had.

Well, at least not yet. And Thranduil was certainly not going to allow his son to make the same mistakes as he did.

He sighed, knowing he ought to begin, yet hesitant to again having to cause his son pain. But what else could he do? Rushing into a marriage founded on desire alone would hurt even more. He should know. Love took time to build, in his case millennia – and yes, that had probably been a bit extreme – but even for Legolas a few weeks could certainly not be enough to create lasting affection.

Maybe he should tell his son the truth about his mother? That Thranduil and she had, in fact, not met late in life – as Legolas and everybody else thought. If he knew, maybe he would finally understand why he must end his budding relationship.

No. It was too humiliating.

Thranduil checked his features, making sure his face would not give away any emotion.

"Legolas… Once again you disobey me, once again you give in to your desire. This must end now." He sternly met his son's gaze, well knowing the effect his icy stare would have, and secretly despising himself for using Oropher's methods. The defiance very soon left Legolas eyes and he lowered them, but not before his father saw the hurt that had come in its place. Ignoring the pain ignited in his own chest, Thranduil continued his prepared speech, revolving around topics such as duty, mortality and puppy love. If he could, he always carefully thought out beforehand what he would say. Spontaneous conversation had never been his strength.

Finally he reached the last sentence, the one that his own father had told him all those thousands of years ago:

"At such a young age one cannot discern between love and desire. And a marriage begun without love is doomed to bring misery and grief only."

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That night Thranduil had a hard time falling asleep. Lecturing his son had brought back memories of his wife he rarely allowed himself to relive, and now silent tears wetted his cheeks.

Would he have chosen her, if he could have lived his life again?

Yes. Yes, he would. It had been worth it, in the end, she had been worth it.

And it was comforting to know it would not be so much longer until he could join her in Aman. Perhaps only a century or two, and then he would sail west like so many of his kin already had. Thranduil wiped his face, stowing away his grief in its safely guarded spot deep within.

Soon.

He grinned to himself when he thought of what might happen when they finally met, after some hundred years of pent-up sexual energy. Oh yes. It should be fun! The physical part of their marriage had never been wanting, that had been just about the only advantage the first millennia.

Then Thranduil closed his eyes, and remembered.

It had all begun that summer, when Círdan sent his daughter to Doriath to learn how to bake lembas...

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A/N:

I have long thought to explore the reasons behind Thranduil's reluctance to accept Legolas' love in another book of mine, Horse Lady of Rohan, and this is my attempt to do so. Although this story fits in with the storyline of that one, it will be standalone.

I will cover many of the more important events from the First Age until the Third Age, shortly before the events of the Hobbit.

Writing something like this will naturally take a lot more research than my previous book did, and this means it will (probably) be updated slower, perhaps once every week or so.

As usual, I will be crossposting this on Wattpad and AO3 as well.