A Second Chance

Chapter 27

"Are we there yet?"

"No!"

"What about now?"

"Emma, go torture Legolas with your petty whining."

"But Thraaaandyyyyy!"

"No buts. Go." Thranduil waved his hand in Legolas' general direction, and Emma grumbled before skulking down the long train of elves. She fell into step next to Legolas and stared at him.

Legolas lifted an eyebrow. "Yes Emma?"

"Your father told me to annoy you."

Legolas looked vaguely surprised.

"Apparently I was irritating him."

Legolas mouthed 'ah' and wore an expression of understanding.

"How much longer?" Emma whined.

"We're almost there Emma. Where is Zippy and Carl?"

Emma shrugged.

Legolas sighed.

"I hate those word crimes!"

Legolas internally panicked. "No singing… Please!" he begged.

oOo

Finally they reached the clearing that the festival was taking place in. As the king rode in on his elk, a cheer went up among the elves already busy preparing for the party. Emma was glad to see fires and… tents! Emma nearly squealed and ran up to Thranduil (both of them pretended like the vengeful snowball fight never occurred) and practically hung off him, asking which tent she could use.

Thranduil contained an annoyed sigh, before pointing to the good sized tent that was placed to the left of his (which was, of course, the biggest). Emma actually did squeal this time, and ran back to Miri and her bags, dragging both to the inviting tent.

After Emma and Miri changed, they went back outside and Emma took in more of her surroundings. It was decorated not unlike the feast of that dreaded night, the night she had been taken, except it was much prettier; especially with the snow (she studiously avoided thinking of anything other than that party). There were lanterns hanging from the branches of the trees, and a large, ginormous actually, bonfire was being built in the center of it all. Tables lined the sides of the clearing, slowly being filled up with food and drink, and elves were rushing back and forth, doing their jobs, chatting, laughing, and singing. Emma went over to the nearest important looking elf, and asked for a job, hoping to occupy herself until the actual start of the feast. He pointed her over to the elf who seemed to be addressing the food ferrying.

"Uh… Excuse me?" Either he didn't hear her or he was ignoring her. Emma rolled her eyes and proceeded to vigorously poke in between his shoulder blades.

He whirled around. "I beg your pardon!"

Emma smiled innocently up at him. "I need a job."

The ellon looked confused for a moment, before he sighed and directed her to haul the biggest salad she had ever seen in her entire life, over to the table 'on the right'. The problem was, her arms were neither long, or strong enough to haul the giant salad bowl anywhere, let alone to the 'table to the right'. This was another problem. There where at least four tables to the right. Emma rolled her eyes and looked around for someone to assist her.

"Zippy!"

Zippy froze midstep, looking like a cornered squirrel.

"Could you help me lug this salad over there?" Emma gestured to the right with her head, busy holding the salad up against the table. Zippy heaved a sigh of long-suffering and slowly shuffled over to help the bane of his existence (he really didn't have too big of a problem with her… she just seemed set on making him miserable).

After they had deciphered which table they needed to plant the salad on, Emma thanked him and wandered around, looking for someone to antagonize.

Unfortunately, everyone was looking like they were doing something too important to interrupt, so Emma decided she may as well be useful until the festivities began.

oOo

Three Hours Later

The sound of laughing and singing echoed through the forest as the elves engaged in vigorous dances around the bonfire. Emma was fairly drunk, but at the moment had abstained from throwing herself into the whirling circle of dancers.

She was more preoccupied with forming snowballs and randomly pitching them at the dancers. Fortunately three quarters of the dancers were fairly inebriated and didn't seem to mind too much.

Emma paused for a moment and searched for a familiar face. There was Legolas.. dancing with Miri (naw… they looked so cute together..) and… there was Thranduil, lounging in the seat that had been erected in front of his majestic tent. He was holding a goblet carelessly in his left hand while he gestured with his right hand to a server, probably an order to bring the wine jug.

Emma giggled. Typical Sassyking.

Speaking of wine… she seemed to be out. Emma frowned down at her goblet. It was desolately empty. Heaving herself up and disregarding the wet patch on her dress, courtesy of the snow, Emma went in search of more wine. Failing to find a server, she eyed Thranduil's personal jug. Sauntering over, Emma leant against the side of Thranduil's chair. Thranduil seemed vaguely surprised and eyed her warily.

"What do you want?" he asked cautiously.

"Give me your wine," Emma said loftily, holding her goblet out with a flourish (the wine she had consumed seemed to be making her bolder.. than usual). Thranduil snorted derisively and purposefully moved his wine further away from her.

"Hey… I wanted that…" Emma pouted.

"I don't think so, my dear. I believe you have had quite enough," Thranduil said, a smirk playing across his lips.

Emma rolled her eyes. "I'll just take it then!"

"I'd like to see you try," the Elvenking sneered.

"Is that a challenge?" Emma said, hands on her hips.

Thranduil merely looked out into the crowd. He looked back towards Emma only to notice that she wasn't there. His head immediately snapped to the left and just in time, he snatched his jug just as Emma's hands were about to close around it.

"No fair!" Emma whined. "Don't make me sit on you," she threatened.

That only made Thranduil laugh.

Indignant, Emma growled and started to wildly grab at the wine jug in his hand. Thranduil shook his head and moved it higher. In her struggles, Emma tripped and landed right in his lap (she was able to do a twist thingy so that she was actually sitting on him, not lying on him… because that would just be ridiculously awkward).

Covering up her embarrassment, Emma looked smugly up at the Elvenking and said flippantly, "See. I told you I'd sit on you." She sat up straight and once again proceeded to snatch at his jug.

And then their eyes met.

And they realized that they were practically level.

Maybe it was the wine. It could have been the atmosphere. But somehow they found themselves leaning in slowly, Emma almost totally forgetting about her mission for wine, and Thranduil not really thinking about anything other than her beautiful eyes.

Emma felt a strange sensation wash over her. With only centimeters between them, Emma whispered breathlessly, "I feel dizzy." Thranduil raised a brow, and then felt his eyes go wide as Emma suddenly slumped backwards, out cold.

"Emma?" he prodded her. There was no response.

Exactly how much wine did she drink?!

oOo

24 hours later

Emma shot up straight in her bed, tears streaming out of her eyes as she furiously tried to delete the dream from her mind. She hadn't had one in awhile, and she blamed it on the decorations of the party, they must be bringing back more memories of that night.

Unable to stop crying, Emma slipped out of her tent and into the edge of the woods, close enough to see the clearing, yet far enough for privacy.

She had woken up that morning, safely tucked into her blankets, with no recollection of the previous night. She had been greeted with the sight of many many unconscious elves and near total silence (with the exception of the few not hungover cooks that were preparing food. As soon as all of the elves woke up, the celebrations continued, and went on all day. Thranduil had studiously avoided her, which wasn't anything new to Emma, so she thought nothing of it.

Currently, all the elves were sleeping, for once calling it quits before they all passed out. Sniffing rather pathetically, Emma stared up at the roof of the forest and then to the tree next to her, contemplating attempting to climb it. She desperately wanted to see the moon, of which she currently could only see a few shafts of light. She stood in silence for a few moments, watching her breath puff out in front of her.

Trailing her hand over the bark of the tree, Emma grabbed onto the nearest branch, but couldn't seem to make herself pull up onto it. Suddenly there was a woosh of air and a soft thud as somebody jumped out of the tree behind her. Emma gave a short scream and whirled around, only to find Thranduil standing there, staring at her curiously. Wiping away a stray tear, Emma took in his appearance.

For once he wasn't dressed in a fancy robe, dressed in a dark blue tunic and leggings, his head bare for once, the crown nowhere in sight, Emma realized he could pull off the 'normal' look quite well. She was startled out of her musings by his voice, quietly asking why she was crying.

"It was… just a dream," Emma turned away quickly and furiously scrubbed at her face. Thranduil gently placed his hand on her shoulder and turned her around to face him again.

"I think it is more than that."

Emma glared.

Thranduil sighed lightly. "It does help to talk about it."

"How would you know," Emma said, refusing to meet his eyes.

"I understand better than you think. I have fought in many battles. Contrary to what you may assume, this does come with it's repercussions. There have been countless nights during which the has darkness crept back and haunted my dreams…" Thranduil drifted off, his hand still resting on her shoulder as he stared off into the distance.

Emma was the first to break the silence. "I wish I could see the sky."

Thranduil snapped out of his little world and quirked an eyebrow. "Why do you not climb up and look."

Emma dropped her head. "I tried… I just… I can't. I used to love climbing… and then…" She looked up when Thranduil suddenly grabbed the branch her hand had been on and swung himself up. Her mouth dropped open when he held out his hand.

"You're kidding me."

Thranduil raised his eyebrow again. "Do you not trust me?"

"Not really," Emma muttered, staring at his hand. Thranduil wiggled it slightly.

"I know you want to. The stars are out and there is a full moon tonight," he said, smirking slightly. Emma looked from his hand, up to where she could see the shafts off moonlight peaking through, and finally staring into his eyes. Whatever it was she saw there, compelled her to shakily take his hand and allow him to pull her onto the branch.

Emma held his arms tightly and stared down at the ground (which was five feet away… she felt more than a little pathetic). Thranduil held back a chuckle. "That wasn't so bad, was it?" Emma glared at him.

"If you're going to be a jerk, then I am going back to my tent," she huffed, not actually making any move to let go. Thranduil snorted and gestured to the next branch, "After you." Emma stared at him wide eyed.

"Oh don't give me that look. You are perfectly capable. I will be right behind you, but do not expect me to lead you along like a little elfling," Thranduil said sternly. Emma sighed and looked back up at the branch. Finally, she reached up and climbed onto it, looking down at Thranduil to make sure he was still there.

Thranduil waved his hand. "Well, go on!"

After two or three branches, Emma seemed to be getting over the insecurity. Soon, she quit looking down at Thranduil every ten seconds and began climbing quicker, reveling in the elven agility she had never quite exercised.

And finally, finally, she was at the top, pushing aside the branches and gazing in wonder up at the huge moon, the endless sky with the shining stars scattered across it. She forgot about her worries and about Thranduil, and just stood there, losing herself in the shining white light.\

"It is beautiful, is it not." Thranduil's voice was just a whisper, and Emma barely heard it. She turned and saw that he was standing on the same branch as her.

"You're lighter than you look," she murmured.

Thranduil laughed suddenly. "You can ruin a moment in ways no other would," he chuckled. Emma smiled slightly and turned away from him, lowering herself so that she was sitting on the branch, looking up at the moon again. She knew that Thranduil had sat next to her, even though she did not feel it (he was an elf, of course she didn't).

"I dreamt of Dol Guldur," she said quietly. "While I was there, the orcs, they would set wargs on me, I was like a toy. They enjoyed my pain… Every time I dream of it, it's like I'm there again… I am feeling it all again, the pain. The hopelessness." She trailed off into silence.

Emma could feel his eyes on her, but kept hers fixed stubbornly on the moon. Her eyes wandered down over the forest and far in the distance she saw a great lake, and rising above it was a solitary mountain.

"That mountain… isn't it the one the dwarves live in?"

"Emma."

"And the lake… what is it called?"

"Emma."

"I would like to go there someday," she said quietly. She felt Thranduil's hand on her face as he turned forced her to look a him. She was fighting back the tears again, and found herself wishing that he would leave her alone.

"Yes?" she whispered.

The only answer she received was his lips pressed softly against hers.


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