A Ray of Hope

Summary: Thranduil and Glorfindel have a conversation. Young Legolas makes an appearance.

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Glorfindel stood to the side in the healing chambers and watched as his wounded warriors were tended. The adrenaline flowing through his veins had begun to fade and he became suddenly aware of his great weariness. Ambushed by a large troupe of orcs a few days ride from Thranduil's kingdom, his company would have succumbed had not one of the Greenwood patrols shown up and aided them. They had since ridden in all haste to reach the palace in attempt to save the more grievously wounded soldiers.

Thranduil himself appeared by his side, great worry written on his face.

"Glorfindel, mellon nin. I thank the Valar you are safe. When they told me your company had been ambushed I feared the worst."

They exchanged a warrior's greeting of clasped forearms, followed by the brief embrace of old friends.

"Aye, Thranduil. I thank you for your hospitality and the Valar for the timeliness of your patrol. Had they not found us, we would surely have been lost."

"You need not thank me, old friend. If you lack for anything you have only to ask, you know this."

Glorfindel nodded his head in acknowledgement, grateful for the calming presence of the king. Their friendship had spanned many centuries and experiences together. His heart grieved for his fallen warriors and he knew the painful task of informing their families would await him on his return to Imladris. With Elrond's blessing, he had taken up a diplomatic role in fostering relations between the two realms and rode this route fairly often, even though it was becoming increasingly fraught with dangers seen and unseen.

"Come my friend, your wounds need tending. The healers will see to your warriors."

Receiving another acquiescent nod, Thranduil picked up a roll of bandages and a bowl of warm water steeped with healing herbs. Guiding his friend to an unoccupied bed, he indicated for Glorfindel to remove his tunic and began gently cleansing the minor gashes that marred the pale, smooth flesh of his upper right arm and torso.

No more words passed between them as he worked, none were needed as such was the depth of their friendship. There was plenty of time for conversation later. Thranduil knew his friend needed the time to come to terms with the death of his warriors. Mourning was something the residents of the darkening Greenwood knew far too well in recent times.

Tying the final bandage on, the King rose.

"Let us find you a room and some refreshment, or a bath first if you wish."

"Thank you, Thranduil" replied Glorfindel and made to follow the king as he exchanged a few words with the head healer.

They left the healing rooms and began walking towards the main wing of the palace.

At that moment, the high pitched cry of a child was heard.

"Ada!"

They both turned towards the sound and a soft patter of running feet soon reached their ears.

A tiny bundle of golden hair flew straight into Thranduil's waiting arms and they looked up to see Ithildin skidding to a halt as he caught sight of his father and Glorfindel, a grin on his face.

Ahh, this must be little Legolas, Glorfindel mused. He had met the youngest prince on his last visit a few years prior, but the little one would have been too young to remember him now.

"What infraction have you committed now, my little leaf, that your brother must hunt you through the corridors hmm?" A twinkle shone in Thranduil's eyes as he tickled the little bundle in his arms and traded grins with his other son. Glorfindel tried his hardest to cover the blood stains on his clothes and smiled fondly at the child who was too intent on avoiding his father's playful fingers to pay him much notice yet.

"Mae govannen, Lord Glorfindel. I had not known of your arrival." He exchanged smiles of greeting with Ithildin before the prince continued. "This little imp here is reluctant to make a visit to the bathing chambers, my lord. Perhaps some persuasion on your part might change his mind."

The last he said with a mock glare at his little brother who merely giggled at him, safely nestled in his father's arms.

"Is that so, little leaf? We shall have to remedy that. But, first you must greet Lord Glorfindel of Imladris."

He shifted the child in his arms to face the Eldar standing by his side and Glorfindel found himself being stared at by two bright cerulean orbs, gazing upon his person in unabashed wonderment. This little elf has the look of his mother, but his father's eyes, he thought. Even now, he is possessed of great beauty, both in countenance and in spirit.

Thranduil placed the tiny child down on the ground, where he made a small bow and voiced a small "Mae govannen, Lord Glorfindel." A brilliant smile graced his little face and he leant against his father's leg, shyly glancing at the warrior before him.

"Are you Lord Glorfindel of Gondolin, the mighty balrog-slayer from Ada's stories?"

Thranduil smiled a paternal smile and shot his friend a vaguely apologetic look.

Glorfindel returned his friend's smile and knelt down to be nearer to the child's level, for the little one stood no higher than his mid-thigh.

"Aye, penneth, I am he."

"You are very brave. I would like to be as brave as you and Ada and Ithildin someday."

The three elder elves smiled at the little one's earnest, guileless praise.

"Thank you, penneth."

Legolas suddenly cocked his head to the side, as if listening to something.

"What is it, penneth?"

"The trees sing of your arrival, my lord. They say an old friend has come to visit. Do you visit Ada often? Do you travel much then?" Those clear blue eyes brightened in expectancy.

"I suppose so." Glorfindel smiled at the flurry of questions.

"Will you tell me stories?"

At that, Thranduil scooped up his little son and laughed.

"Come now, Glorfindel is much wearied by his journey. And you, my little leaf are in need of a bath."

"But Ada…." The little one wailed as he was handed over to his brother.

Reaching out to ruffle his already mussed up mop of childish golden curls, Glorfindel smiled indulgently and reassured him.

"I will tell you stories to your hearts content later, penneth. A bath would do us all some good now."

"Awright!" came the brightened reply and with promises to see them at dinner, Ithildin walked off in the direction of the royal chambers with one delighted little elfling, excited beyond measure at the prospect of the new stories he would be told, hopefully that very evening.

"You may regret that promise, my lord balrog-slayer. His hunger is insatiable when it comes to stories."

Glorfindel chuckled. "I am familiar with the inquisitiveness of the young. My experiences with Elrond's sons have learned me that lesson all too well. But they are long grown and it has been much too long since I have had one such as yours sat on my knee, wide-eyed and asking for tales of adventure in faraway lands."

"I always wonder that you have not children of your own. You would make a wonderful father, Glorfindel."

"Nay, t'is not my path, mellon nin, though I take much pleasure in watching the children of my dearest friends grow from elfling to elfhood, perhaps assisting when needed. It is enough for me."

Thranduil shook his head and smiled. "Well, you have one more adoring admirer to add to your considerable list this day. He has long been enamoured with the tales of your great deeds."

With a pointed look, Thranduil proceeded. "You, my friend, are his favourite bedtime story."

He chuckled at Glorfindel's wry look of amusement.

"He hears the trees uncommonly clearly for one so young."

"Aye, that he does," Thranduil replied. "It is almost as if the trees embrace him as one of their own and obey his every whim! If not for meals, I think he would stay out all day and sometimes even then he must first be found and creative persuasion employed to bring him in!"

"A true child of the woods" smiled Glorfindel. He paused before continuing in a more somber tone.

"Elrond foresees a great future for him. And seeing him now with my own eyes, I believe it is so. I see a fire in his eyes, one so rare amongst the elves now. Too many have grown weary of these lands and more sail for the West each day."

Thranduil drew a deep breath and sighed. The visions his wife, Anoriel, had seen at the birth of their youngest child came to mind and the fear he had harboured since then clutched at his heart with icy fingers. They both knew that the path their son would eventually take would not be an easy one and that it was with great sorrow that they realised his life would ever be shadowed by the ever encroaching darkness and that they might one day lose him to uncertain fate. He could not bear it to lose another child, and not one so dear to him as his youngest son, the light of his later years and joy of his people.

"I pray his love for the trees holds him here a good while longer."

At that cryptic statement, Glorfindel looked up questioningly at Thranduil but upon seeing the heartache that showed so clearly through his eyes, he decided not to push his friend. The last few days had seen too much grief already. For now, it was enough to enjoy the blessed purity of an elven childhood, no matter what dark future the Valar had in store for this little one. Children came so seldom to the elves, and each was cherished by all in the community. Legolas was no exception, and much beloved by all who knew him. Especially in these dark times, his shining, pure heart stood as a beacon in the gloomy night, as hope for all the elves that in the midst of sorrow, a ray of light still shone.

Glorfindel would do anything in his power to see that light go unsullied for as long as he could and if that meant telling a few childish stories he would tell them until his voice grew hoarse and words would no longer come.

"The Time of the Elves comes to an end, my old friend. We both know this to be true. Dark forces are astir yet again, but we will not go down without a fight, this I promise you," Thranduil stated vehemently.

He placed a brotherly hand on Glorfindel's shoulder and a good-humoured light illuminated his kingly visage once more.

"However, tonight we will enjoy the finest wine the Greenwood has to offer and you can tell me of the latest news from Elrond's fair vale."

Not sure if I should continue… this seemed rather plotless to me! I've never attempted a long piece before. Ideas and any constructive criticism would be most welcome. Maybe finding myself a beta reader would be a good investment?

Let me know what you think!

:)