A small hand slid softly into Thranduil’s large palm, as they walked towards the palace doors. A mere glimmer of a smile ghosted across his lips, yet inside his heart was an inferno. He gently gripped the tiny hand, leading him out into the warm summer morning. They weren’t going far into the forest, no need for accompaniment, but for the small figure beside him it would be a mini adventure. Thranduil took a deep breath of the familiar scented air. It was an important day.
They strolled without speaking. Thranduil knew that later there would be a flurry of questions demanding urgent answers, but for now there was a expectant breathlessness beside him. He allowed himself a brief, heartfelt smile of contentment, knowing they were not watched. If Eru willed, he would spend thousands of peaceful days with this delicate hand in his.
Turning from the visible path, they moved deeper into the trees. An unwise move unless you were an Elf and could hear the ancient voice of the forest and see the secret ways. The small figure beside him had yet to learn how to interpret the forest, but in time it would come. Today would be another step on that journey.
A deep bellow sounded ahead of them causing the grip on Thranduil’s hand to tighten slightly. Pushing on through the trees, they suddenly came out into a sunlit clearing. Ahead was the owner of the bellow – his favourite giant Elk, making clear that incursions into this space were only with his permission. On the ground was a pure white Elk, mewing in bursts, as her labour proceeded.
It was almost time.
Thranduil raised his hands and gestured respectfully to the Elk, assuring them of his regard and non-interference. His signal, accepted with a brief nod and bark. He sensed movement behind him as the small figure peeked round his hip, small hands gripping his thigh and robe with a slight tremble. He moved a protective hand to the delicate shoulder to provide reassurance. Whilst some might think his son was too young to witness this, he disagreed. It was important he witnessed the wonder and precariousness of life. Appreciated the balance that was for them to nurture and maintain. Understood their place in this world.
As the white Elk strained with her burden, her antlered companion kept keen watch, dipping his head to her own in reassurance. Thranduil knew a couple of Elves lurked at the treeline, poised to assist if there were any signs of distress, but all seemed to be progressing well. As the calf’s head appeared, he heard an awed gasp from near his hip. In mere moments the rest of a little spotted body emerged onto the grass. The white Elk got to it’s feet and turned, licking her baby all over, encouraging it to move. A high pitched squeal emanated from the newborn to it’s mother’s delight. A rustle in the trees signaled the rest of the herd moving closer, keen to meet their new member. A few nudges later and the calf had wobbled to it’s feet and was feeding for the first time.
He felt the sign of movement under his hand and tightened it, stopping his son in place. His curiousity was understandable, but respect must be maintained. It would be discourteous and dangerous to intrude before welcomed. Slowly shifting to a crouch he took in the wide eyed look of awe in his son’s face. Yes – he was beginning to understand.
“Utinu,” he whispered softly, his arm encircling small shoulders. “There will be time to meet the calf later, but now is time for his family. We will return tomorrow – lle rangwa?”
“Uma, adar,” he replied in solemnly hushed tones.
Taking his child in his arms, Thranduil stood, the Elk herd all around them now. Small arms circled his neck loosely, certain of security. The Elk parted seamlessly before him, as he moved back out of the clearing, away from the newborn. Through the trees they went, back towards the Palace. He could sense the bubbling excitement from his son, knew it wouldn’t be long till he found his voice again.
“Legolas,” he started thoughtfully. “This calf is the firstborn of that mother and as such will need a fine name to accompany him through his life. Would you like the honour of naming him?”
“Uma – yes!” He exclaimed eagerly, his face scrunching up with intense thought. After a few moments, with a finger grandiosely waggled in the air, he proclaimed loudly “Moose!”