The Moth & The Flame

BY : Avaloyuru
Category: +Third Age > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 2331
Disclaimer: I do not own any copyright to the Tolkien/Middle-Earth Fandom, nor his canon characters or languages. I do not receive any form of compensation for this fanfiction. Original characters are my property.

Curling herself into the comfortable chair before the hearth, Tauriel held the small book tightly to her breast as she gazed unseeing into the flames dancing across the logs.  Images, scattered and disconnected from one another flittered through her thoughts, memories she had tucked away long ago.  Old memories yet new ones still fresh with new pain mingled amongst them, feelings that she still needed to sort out and find a place in her heart to put them.  So many times she had relived that moment on Raven Hill, staring into Kili’s eyes as the light faded from them.  How her life had changed since that moment, loss and emptiness had filled her heart.  It was time to let him go, to somehow try to find a way to make peace within herself.  He was gone and there was nothing that could change that.

Laying the book in her lap, her fingers easily found the gap in the pages where she had tucked the small piece of parchment and the fragile Länciföliûm, now dried, the tiny yellow blossoms faded to a light brown.  There was now only a faint touch of the soft fragrance yet it still filled her senses as she held it close to her face.  The memory was still vibrant in her thoughts as if it had been only yesterday that she had felt his strong comforting embrace as they rode through the forest that chilly morning.

Legolas, she still had feelings for him, they had been so much to each other for so long, his abandonment hurt deeply.  In her heart she understood his pain yet she was still angry for his betrayal.  Theirs was a love that could never be yet blamed herself as well because somewhere, deep in her heart she had known that from the beginning yet chose to ignore it.

“Why do I always want what I cannot have?”  She asked herself silently as she closed her eyes, breathing in the soft fragrance of the Länciföliûm.

A soft knock on the door startled her from her reverie, she quickly tucked the flower back into its safe place between the pages of the book.  Frowning at the late hour, she stared at the door for long moments, hoping whoever it was would leave her in peace.

“Come.”  She reluctantly bade them to enter as the knock grew louder and more persistent.

Hîr vuin.” (My Lord)  She greeted him, laying the book aside as she rose quickly to face the Prince.

“Since when do you address me as such?”  He asked quietly as he closed the door behind him.

“Things have changed between us.”  She said as she tilted her head downward, staring at the braided rug in front of the settee, unsure of herself.

“Nothing has changed for me.  I have missed you Tauriel.”  He told her softly, his long strides clearing the distance between them quickly.  “I have thought of you day and night.”  His tone so soft, it was almost a whisper as he gently lifted her chin, forcing her to look at him.

Swallowing against the lump that suddenly formed in her throat, she could only stare up at him.  Her gaze flickered over the familiar features of his beautiful face, though he tried to smile, she could see the pain in the depths of his pale blue gray eyes where there had once only been love and laughter.

“You must not...”  She choked past the growing lump in her throat.

“I must not what?”  Legolas interrupted her, pulling her into his arms as she started to turn away from him.  “All I have done these past months is think of you, of us.  I love you Tauriel.”

“Legolas, stop!”  Tauriel exclaimed as she wrenched herself free of his embrace and walked toward the hearth.  “I cannot do this.”  She said quietly, swallowing the lump in her throat.

“Why?!”  He exclaimed as he moved toward her, clasping her hands tightly in his.  “Nothing has changed.”  He stated, struggling to keep his voice from trembling yet his eyes pleaded with her as they searched her face.

“What does it matter?”  She stated more than asked, squeezing his hands as she searched his face, seeing nothing but the same pain that mirrored her own.  “You knew the king could never allow you to pledge yourself to me.”

“That does not matter.”  Legolas told her, bringing her hands to his lips.  “I cannot live a lie, I love you Tauriel.  Please, I need you.”

“It’s all been a lie.”  She told him softly, not trusting her voice as she pulled her hands free from his grasp.  “It’s just been too much, I need to sort things out.”  She said, turning away from him.  “Even so, things cannot go back to the way they were between us.”

“What do you mean?!”  Legolas exclaimed, taking her in his arms as he stepped up behind her.  “We can leave here!  We can go anywhere.”  He pleaded with her as he buried his face in her hair.

“Legolas, please.”  She said quietly, stiffening as he pulled her against him.  “I would like to be alone now.”

Closing her eyes as he released her, Tauriel stood there in silence for long moments before she heard the door close behind him.  Swallowing back the persistent lump in her throat as she turned back to the chair in front of the hearth, her eyes fell on the book.  Hastily wiping the tears from her cheeks as she sank into its comforting embrace, her fingers moved caressingly over the engraved leather cover as she thought about the treasure hidden within its pages.

“I do not know what is real and what is not, everything hurts.”  She thought sadly, turning away from the book to watch the flames in the hearth as she struggled with the conflict between her heart and her mind.

                                            ~*~     ~*~     ~*~     ~*~     ~*~     ~*~

“You seem awfully deep in thought tonight.”  Galion ventured, watching the strange play of expressions chasing themselves across the kings’ face as he stared into the hearth.

“Yes.”  Thranduil sighed heavily, turning to look at his friend briefly before turning back to the hearth.  “Much to my regret, I feel that Legolas has left me no choice but to replace him as the patrol commander.”

“I take it he is still determined to leave?”  Galion asked as he refilled their teacups.

“I know nothing of his plans.”  Thranduil stated, a slight flash of anger passed across his face as he glanced quickly toward him.  “He has been avoiding me.”

“The incident in your study...”

“Has nothing to do with it.”  He interrupted him, shaking his head, it was part of it, but certainly not the whole of the matter.  “I had already been considering it but I had not made up my mind. 

“Laurefindë brought it to my attention after the meeting this morning.”  He continued after long moments, not wanting to talk about his sons’ outburst.  “I agree with her recommendation but still I am reluctant to make changes until after the Winter Solstice.”  He said, frowning into the dark liquid in his goblet.

“I can think of any number of qualified officers.”  Galion commented as he dipped a little more honey into his teacup.

“Tauriel has been asking to return to the patrols.”  Thranduil said quietly as he pondered the dark liquid in his goblet.  “I have not wanted her back out there.  I am either a glutton for punishment or out of my mind.”  He sighed as he lifted the goblet to his lips, taking a long drink. 

Thranduil may be foolish in his heart yet in the end Galion knew logic would get the better of him, especially in matters involving the governing of the realm.  Unlike his natural instincts on the battle field where quick action meant the difference between life and death, he was more of a thinker than his father and not known for expressing hasty judgements.  A quality some members of his council members found to be more than a bit disconcerting, particularly when they wanted something from him.

“What has changed your mind?”  Galion asked quietly, even though he was pretty sure he knew the answer already.

“She needs to work though things in her own way.”  He said quietly, his fingers absently toying with the stem of the goblet as he rested it on the arm of the chair.  “I need to give her the time to do that.”

“You will not be able to keep avoiding her if she accepts the position.”  Galion stated, frowning a little with concern.

“I am not avoiding her.”  Thranduil stated defensively, rolling his eyes at him.  “I know Legolas has been following her since his return and is with her as we speak.”  He added as he brought the goblet to his lips, swallowing the last of it in one long drink.

“I do not wish to antagonize him any further.”  He said quietly as he rose to his feet.  “I will deal with this when the time comes.  I believe I am ready to retire for the night.”

“Will you have your morning meal here or go to the dining hall?” Galion asked as he got up and headed for the tray on the table.

“I think I will go to the dining hall.”  He replied absently, not willing to admit that he had been dining in his rooms to avoid Tauriel.

Ben iest gîn.” (As you wish).  Galion commented, watching the king turn away from him and make his way toward his bed chamber.

Reluctantly, his thoughts turned to her, the feel of her body so close to his during their brief ride into the forest.  The soft scent of her mingled with the lavender and lilac as he nuzzled close to her.  A deep frown creased his brow as he laid his robes over the arm of the settee at the foot of his bed.  She was the most vexing elleth (elf maiden) he had ever known, the fire within her that attracted him to her was unpredictable.

 “Yes, and you’re going to get burned if you keep stoking it.”  Aldalómës’ words haunted him as he slipped into the comfort of his bed.

Clasping his hands behind his head as he stretched out beneath the covers, he willed his body to relax as he felt his desire for her building within him.  Staring unseeing at the polished oak of the canopy above, his thoughts turned toward his son.  He knew he should have put an end to their relationship as soon as he became aware that it had gone beyond more than infatuation.  It would have been easy enough to separate them yet it would have raised questions he was not prepared to answer, even to himself.

Unaware of the smile that curled his lips, he remembered how upset she had been when Legolas joined the patrols.  Both of them so young, squabbling like siblings, each vying for his attentions in their own way until Legolas started going on assignments that would take him farther from the palace and keep him away longer.  They were only fleeting thoughts, things he did not wish to dwell on at the time yet now he wondered if his son had done so because his feelings had changed toward her.

Sighing deeply, he frowned as he questioned himself and when his own feelings toward her had changed.  She had grown up so quickly it seemed to him, when he found himself noticing just how beautiful she had become, the way her gowns clung seductively to her feminine curves, the way she would look at him sometimes.  He remembered, the feelings she had incited within him as she shamelessly flirted with him.  She had only laughed it off when he questioned her about it, claiming that she was only practicing on him.  Now he was not so sure, recalling that was also when she had become so adamant about wanting to join the patrols.  It was then that he saw the fire in her as she argued with him relentlessly over his refusals to sign the requests.

Was he protecting the one he viewed as his daughter or an elleth (elf maiden) he had fallen in love with?  Shaken as the question seemed to answer itself, he thought again of his son.  There had already been so much that had passed between them as Legolas struggled to find himself in a world he had no control over.  It was a world he knew all too well and would have protected him from it if he could.  Guilt now twisted painfully in his gut as he thought of his conversation with Garävegión.  Was he being selfish, catering to his own purposes that he only now considered abolishing the hereditary oath to the crown?

The sleepless night had brought him no answers as he threw the covers back and pushed himself up from the bed.  Making his way to his bathing chamber, he knew it was not an answer, only the disheartening realization that he had fallen in love with her.  Pausing to look at his reflection in the polished silvered glass, he knew had it been anyone other than his son who shared the same feelings, he would have fought for her attentions.

“You are a fool, this cannot lead to anything good.”  Again Aldalómës’ words chided him in his mind as he turned away from the reflection. If he followed his heart, he would lose his son if he had not already done so.

Dismissing Galion apologetically as he entered with his usual prattle, Thranduil sighed heavily.  Normally he found humor in his friends’ incessant chatter but he was simply not in the mood for it this morning.  Dressing himself quickly yet with care, he frowned at his reflection before shaking himself into the present.  Pulling on the regal air of his position as if it were a protective cloak, he quickly departed his private chambers to make his way toward the dining hall.

Greeted by the more subdued hum of morning conversations, he politely nodded and smiled his greetings as he strode purposefully toward the dais.  Taking his seat between Lord Garävegión and Lady Laurefindë, noting the absence of his son, his gaze quickly scanned the myriad of faces in the room for any sign of her.

Schooling his expression quickly only from years of experience, he smiled warmly as he turned to Lady Laurefindë.  Meeting her knowing gaze evenly, he hid himself from her as she filled his teacup.  A Sindar and Iathrim like himself, she was tall with silvery golden hair and soft blue eyes that seemed as deep as the sea itself.  The wife of his fathers’ former council member, he had known her all his life and found it more than unsettling that she could read him so easily.  It was impossible to hide the tension between himself and his son, a situation he was loath to have been made public as word had spread quickly of their confrontation in his study.

“The prince departed with the patrols early this morning.”  She told him, her tone much quieter once their morning pleasantries had been exchanged and the king had been served his meal.

“I cannot say it does not surprise me.”  Thranduil sighed as he spread the honey liberally over a slice of bread.  “He is known for devising numerous ways of staying away from the palace.”  He added, decidedly not wanting to openly admit that it was he himself that his son was avoiding.

“Things do have a way of working themselves out.”  She commented, her gaze searching his face as she smiled at him.  “Children will always see the world differently than their parents.”  She added reassuringly, noting his eyes glance once more toward spacious seating area below them.

“Would that we could always protect them from that which has created those differences.”  He said more to himself than as a reply to her observations.  Most of the young elves crowding the dining hall knew only what they read in books about battles the evils that threatened their world.

Skillfully directing their conversation to the more mundane topic of various palace activities, she watched him in her motherly way.  Slowly, in the years following the war that claimed the lives of his father and her husband, she had slowly withdrawn from him.  There were times such as now when she regretted having done so.  After the fall of Doriath she had travelled with Oropher and her husband to the east and had known Thranduil as a child.  There had once been hope in her heart that he would have wed her daughter Laûrläéthëe, but it was not to be as her daughters’ calling was elsewhere.

Listening quietly as she turned their conversation toward the upcoming Winter Solstice Festival, his thoughts turned to Tauriel.  She had continuously volunteered to go out on patrols rather than join the festivities, yet he said nothing to her, letting her think he had not noticed.  He was happy that Laûrläéthëe had decided to attend this year, it had been too long since she had graced his halls for any reason.  Absently running the names through his mind that he had listed on the requests he has signed a fortnight ago for Galion, he was glad to see that there were quite a few returning for the festivities this year.  Regardless of the tension between them, he was happy that his own son would also be in attendance.  The Winter Solstice marked the New Year for the elves, in his heart he prayed this was a good sign.

Pretending to absently watch the milling elves in the main dining area, Lord Garävegión watched as Thranduil rose from his seat.  Smiling as he returned the nod as he purposefully strode across the dais toward the door, he waited a few moments before meeting Lady Laurefindës’ gaze briefly.

“Would you care to join me for tea?”  She asked, pausing as she made her way toward the door herself.

“I would be delighted.”  He chuckled as he laid the napkin over his plate and rose from her chair.

Clasping his hands loosely behind his back, he smiled and nodded as she talked of the upcoming festival.  The halls were pretty much empty as they made their way toward her private chambers, as most were either still in the dining hall or already about their daily tasks.  Still, there was no telling how many or whose ears may be listening, she switched the topic to her daughter as they continued toward the lower levels of the palace.

“I will bring your tea shortly hiril vuin.” (My lady)  Tälileá informed her with a respectful nod as Laurefindë closed the door behind them.  “Hîr vuin.” (My Lord)  She nodded toward Garävegión before turning away from them to check on the tea.

“We can talk in the parlor.”  Laurefindë said quietly, waving her hand toward the door on the other side of her public sitting room.  “Both Tälileá and Táëglÿn will be leaving shortly.”  She told him as they entered the parlor.  “Elvändéruil is out with the patrols this morning, I do not expect to see him until later this evening.”  She continued as they made themselves comfortable at the small table.

“I notice that he seems to be quite a regular among the patrols lately.”  Garävegión commented as he shifted himself to find a comfortable position in the overly padded chair.

“Yes.”  Laurefindë smiled yet she sighed thoughtfully.  “For as much as he pretends not to care for his duties and responsibilities, his actions tell a different story.  He has been going out there every day for the past few months.  I worry for him, but then I worry for all of them.”

“As do I.”   Garävegión sighed yet smiled as Tälileá entered with the tea tray.

“I do like Alythiyiá’s apple spiced tea but I prefer the much stronger flavor of the cinnamon spiced hazel nut.”  Laurefindë commented as Tälileá set out their cups and filled them.

“I will be fine Tälileá.”  She said softly, yet effectively silencing the servant as she started to speak.  “Go one now.  Enjoy your morning.”

Ben iest gîn, hiril vuin.” (As you wish, My Lady)  Tälileá replied with a smile as she nodded and quickly departed the room.

“Do you think Thranduil is serious about the oath?”  She asked as she reached for the honey pot.

“You know him as well if not better than I do.”   He stated, pushing the small pot closer to her.  “Just the fact that he mentioned it is enough to know that it is something he has been thinking of for who knows how long.”

“Well, if history is anything to go by it has been lurking around in his head for quite some time.”  Laurefindë stated as she briskly stirred the honey into her tea.  “It depends on when he actually realized he was in love with her that it voiced itself to him.”

“You really think he’s in love with her?!”  He exclaimed as he stared at her.

“Oh for Eru’s (God’s) sake Garävegión!  Look at him, he’s a mess!”  She stated, shaking her head at him.  “This business with Legolas only makes everything more complicated.”

“In truth.”  He sighed heavily as he wrapped his slender fingers around the teacup.  “As much as he hoped Legolas would return, I do agree with you.  But there are other things we must be more watchful of.  As much as we hate to admit it, Thranduil does have enemies within his court who will fight against abolishing the hereditary oath.”

“We will need to keep an eye on Lord Tirithiáël’s sons.”  She stated thoughtfully.  “Lord Oviëdó in particular.” 

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