Family Portrait

By

Jaimie-Erin

Rating: T for suicide themes, though since you have obviously read/seen Lord of the Rings, that shouldn't put you off. Remember Denethor? And I got no parents killing kids… yuck… anyway, my point is read!

Summary: Death is not the only thing that can take a wife from her husband, a mother from her children, a queen from her country. My take on what happened to Legolas' mother.

Disclaimer: Only saying it once, nothing is mine but the OCs.

Dedication: To my friend Steph, and to every person out there who has been through or is going through this.

A/N: Legolas is around 15 in human years in this story, and Herenya is 17. I have no idea of the aging process of elves, so I'm not even going to try.

X X X X

King Thranduil Oropherion sat on a chair on his balcony, deep in thought. They were not bad thoughts. Nay, his mood reflected the weather: bright, sunny and cheerful, with a couple of white wisps of cloud that only added to the scenery. The birds and the trees sang, and it was all he could do to keep his dignity and refrain from leaping off his chair to join them in song.

Today, life was good. It was his six hundredth anniversary with his wife Melda today. One week ago today it had been his daughter Herenya's birthday, and one month from today was his son Legolas'.

And there had not been any orc sightings near the palace for three months today.

Ordinarily, he may have been worried by this. He may have thought that the orcs had finally managed to slip past his patrols, and may be plotting an assault on the palace. But as he looked over his shoulder, past the open bedroom door to his wife, he remembered just how thorough his patrols were, and all worries fled from his mind.

Melda yawned and stretched. Thranduil smiled and walked back inside.

"Happy anniversary, meleth nin," (my love) he said, sitting on the edge of the bed and rubbing his wife's shoulder.

Melda smiled as she gazed sleepily up at Thranduil. "How long has it been?" she asked.

Thranduil smiled for what must have been the hundredth time that morning. He had always been the more romantic of the two; he was the one who had noticed the strange arrangement of celebrations around their anniversary, he was the one who could not sleep the night before the anniversary, and he was the one who counted the years they had been together. "Six hundred years today," he said quietly in answer to her question.

Melda's smile grew and she pulled her husband down onto the bed for a kiss. When they broke apart, she sat up, and by some mutual decision made their way to the family dining room for breakfast.

The two children were already sitting at the dining table, though breakfast had not been served and neither were eating. Herenya was older than Legolas, and was very different to her brother. She was the heir to the throne, but had had to fight for it. Many of Thranduil's older councilors did not want a woman to rule them, when Thranduil left Middle-earth. The king had helped Herenya fight them, for as he had pointed out, it was not her fault she had been born a girl. She was a skilled leader and far more interested than Legolas in ruling over Mirkwood, and at her young age she already had many powerful people in many elven realms wrapped around her little finger.

But she did not look it. Now, slouching on a chair with her bare feet up on the table and her fingers picking idly at a hole in her oversized shirt, while unbrushed, dark brown hair stuck out from her head at odd angles, one would think her a beggar's daughter, not the heir to the throne of Mirkwood.

Legolas was the one who looked more like a prince. He never came out of his bedroom still in his nightclothes, and his hair, blonde and perfectly straight like his father's, never went unbrushed for too long. He acted the prince, too, around company. He was always polite and diplomatic, but was far more interested in singing to the stars than ruling a country. In truth, he only really acted like a prince because he knew how Mirkwood's economy would suffer if he did not. Herenya didn't. She was brilliant in some things, but woeful at others, for example, how much her appearance affected her father's reputation. Thranduil had tried explaining it to her, but, well, Ren was just an idiot.

"Happy anniversary!" Legolas called happily as his parents entered the room. Herenya gave a little start, quickly pulled her feet off the table and muttered a hasty "happy anniversary" under her breath. Legolas smirked at her; he knew she had forgotten.

Neither Thranduil nor Melda seemed to notice, though. Melda seemed to glow with happiness as she laughed and joked with her family over breakfast. Thranduil barely ate or spoke. He just sat in his seat and stared at his wife.

"Where are we going this year?" Herenya asked. Each year, on Thranduil and Melda's anniversary, they took a family trip somewhere. When the children had been younger, they would often go far away, sometimes to as far as Lothlorien. Now, with the advancement of the Shadow from Dol Guldur and Herenya's coming of age approaching, where she would join the courts, there was little time available to them, and most family outings were trips just outside of the palace's north gate.

"We said last night," said Melda tersely. "Weren't you listening?"

"No," said Herenya without embarrasment.

Melda gave an exasperated sigh. "We're only going to that clearing a mile away," she said. "In fact, we should probably be getting ready." She eyed her daughter's tattered nightclothes.

"I have to pack... something," said Legolas. He always gave his parents an anniversary present while on their trip. After so many years an a rise in maturity, he didn't bother concealing it.

"I'll just go get dressed," Ren muttered, and she and Legolas went back to their rooms together.

"You have lovely children," Thranduil said. "Amin mela lle." (I love you)

Melda blushed a little at the look of pure devotion her husband was giving her. "I'll go pack our coats," she whispered.

She walked out of the room, leaving Thranduil alone to his pleasant thoughts.

X X X X

"Where on Arda is she?" Legolas muttered. He had long since exhausted trying to imitate a bird, and he and Ren had already had a wrestling match in the leaves of the sunny courtyard. But still, Melda did not show.

Thranduil glanced nervously into the sky. At least three quarters of an hour had passed since Melda had said she was going to get coats. He hoped that, whatever was holding her up, it wasn't an angry citizen wanting to see him in the courts. This was his day for his family.

"Do you want me to find her?" Legolas asked his father.

"No," said Thranduil, "I'll do that myself. Valar, it's usually Ren we have to wait for..."

He walked back into the palace, muttering a little. Ren came over to join Legolas. "He did not just say that."

"You know it's true," said Legolas. He punched his sister on the arm playfully, and she punched him back. Their relationship was fairly love-hate, and they thrived off rude words and fights. They had also developed lightning fast reflexes from having to stop fights as soon as one of their parents came into the room.

X X X X

Thranduil walked back towards his room. He was worried. Had some dignitary arrived? Was Melda trying to do what she could to resolve the issue without having to pull their trip off? It had happened often enough, especially in the last decade or so. Valar, he hated it when that happened!

He came to the royal family's personal wing of the palace. He walked down the corridors, memories following him like sheep following their shepherd. That was where Legolas had shot an arrow directly through the eye of the subject of a three thousand year old painting. Thranduil had pretended to be mad so he could discipline the elfling, but inside he had been bursting with pride that his son - his own son - had aim to rival most of his soldiers. That was where Herenya had gotten scared by the sudden greeting of a servant girl standing right behind her. She had thought she was under attack, had reached out and flipped the poor girl onto her back. It was then that Thranduil had realized that his daughter possessed the upper body strength of a grown elf. That was where he and Melda had shared their first kiss...

He approached his bedroom door and saw that it was shut. Why would it be shut? He hadn't shut it. Melda might have, but she never shut it. She believed it should be open to all, as any who they trusted enough to allow in this private wing of the palace, they trusted enough to be in their bedroom. It was only shut when they slept.

Thranduil reached out and turned the doorknob.

X X X X

"Don't you reckon that cloud looks like a rabbit?"

Legolas rolled his eyes. "I don't really care."

"Why not?" said Ren in a purposely whiny voice.

"Because cloud gazing is stupid. It's for little girls."

"You stargaze."

"That is different," said Legolas with as much dignity as he could muster. "Stargazing is part of our way of life. You stargaze too. But I won't say that a giant white bit of fluff looks like a delicious, succulent rabbit."

"You don't appreciate animals," said Ren, still playfully acting like an elfling.

"I do," said Legolas. "I appreciate them cooked to perfection, the brown, juicy meat in my mouth, seasoned with just the right amount of herbs to bring out the taste..."

"You are disgusting."

Legolas shrugged. He was disgusting himself, if he were honest, but it was too funny to lay off. He knew Ren hated eating rabbits, or, in her words, "things that bounced".

Ren went back to cloud gazing, and Legolas turned back to the palace. Nobody. This was ridiculous. His father had probably been right. There probably had been some foreign dignitary come to ruin the day...

"I'm going to find them," he said to Ren.

"Okay."

He went back into the palace, heading for the wing in which they lived by the fastest route possible. He wanted to leave! How hard could it be to go on a picnic?

He saw his father standing in the middle of the corridor alone. A sudden feeling of foreboding crept over Legolas, and he knew not all was well. His steps slowed of their own accord, but did not stop; and as he got closer, he realized his adar was crying.

Legolas stopped, not saying a word. Thranduil looked up, very slowly, at his son. "We're not going for a picnic today," he said.

X X X X

A/N: I've gone and done the unthinkable: posted a second story. I don't mind other authors doing that, but I don't like doing it myself.

This was a fic specially written for Steph, for those of you who've read my other fic, this is the one I spent all that time writing for her. It's not completely finished, but I've ot a few chapters up my sleeve. And I won't abandon either story.

Anyone guess what happened to Melda?

Reviews make me upload faster.