A Time to Speak
"Be hush, child," the king tiredly said to the grizzling elfing cradled in his arms, "and listen to the forest." He paced back and forth along the balcony, and the thin streams of early morning sunlight that made it through the thick canopy above caught the mithril thread that decorated the infant's garments; sparkling and reflecting from it, casting rainbow flecks up against Thranduil's silk-draped chest and the green enameled leaf that hung pendant from a heavy gold chain about his neck.
"Hear your naneth's voice in the breeze through the branches, feel her touch in the sunlight," he whispered and then went silent, closing his grief-shadowed eyes, and tilting his face upwards as his heart sought in vain for his lost love, his feet finding their way from well known habit the eight paces back and forth from railing to railing.
His son, his last born, crammed one fist in his still toothless mouth and gnawed on it; seeking to stop the painful pressure on swollen gums. Blue eyes opened and focused on the moving flashes of rainbow light and the baby's free hand grabbed at them, only to entangle delicate fingers in the chain that held the pendant gold-rimmed leaf just above the Greenleaf's face.
Determinedly, Legolas dragged the leaf towards his mouth, removing drool-wet fingers from between his rosy lips to make room for this new toy. He gummed at it enthusiastically, and gurgled, suddenly happy, drawing Thranduil's attention with the unfamiliar sound.
It struck the elven king that he had never in the two and a half months his son had been on Arda heard the babe laugh. It seemed that from the moment the babe had been drawn from his dying mother, his little Greenleaf had done nothing by cry. Legolas had wailed as he was placed at the breast of the wet nurse elleth; screamed as he was laid in the cradle that had held the scions of Oropher's line; howled as he was presented to the court; and grizzled unceasingly when cuddled by his father. Thranduil's only consolation was that if anyone other than the King held him, Legolas' crying would transform into shrieks that made elves a dozen rooms away cringe. It seemed that nothing would comfort the child.
As nothing had comforted Thranduil in his loss.
Until now. The king of Mirkwood gazed down into his son's blue eyes and felt his feä lift, and he smiled for the first time since his beloved Pharin had gone to Mando's Halls.
Legolas gazed up at him and let the leaf pendant fall from his mouth. A glimmer of white was briefly visible within on the lower gum, and he smiled back. Thranduil cuddled him closer and lifted him to rest upright against his shoulder after bestowing a kiss on the smooth forehead. Silken tufts of golden hair tickled the king's earpoints as his son nuzzled against him, and then the baby arched his back and neck so as to look at his father's face, clutching at the folds at the shoulder of Thranduil’s robe for balance.
A giggle, another smile--and a word.
Chapter End Notes:
A/N: This ficlet was written in response to a challenge from the Royal Mirkwood writers group to take a phrase from Ecclesiastes ("For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven"). I chose "A time keep silence, and a time to speak" for my inspiration. I realized after this was written that it also could fit "A time to mourn, and a time to dance". I also admit to taking liberties with just how early an elfling learns to say his or her first word. They are described by the good Professor Tolkien as being able to dance and sing at age one--and to me that implies an extremely early ability to vocalize words. Also, the sounds that make up the word ada are used by most babies in their earliest random vocalizations, so it doesn't seem too far-fetched to me that Legolas would be able to call Thranduil 'father' at two and a half months of age.