The child of grief
The Child of grief
The second child of queen Astariel and king Thranduil of Greenwood was born in early spring when their son Legolas had just reached maturity. They had wished for more children ever since he was born but nothing had happened and they had slowly accepted that he would be their only offspring. Then suddenly the queen discovered that she had conceived once more and the entire palace was soon made aware of their new happiness. The queen had a very easy pregnancy and the birth too went well, she did not have to struggle a lot and as the sun rose a new little princess met the world for the first time. She had her father's silvery blond hair and her mother's deep indigo blue eyes. Nobody had seen a more beautiful baby and she was named Ilvanya, because she was perfect.
The royal couple were happier than ever and Legolas was very happy too, he was a big brother at last and he loved his sister very much and spent as much time with her as he could. She grew and became a bit of a handful, her mother and nannies were always busy with the very curios and active toddler and it became apparent that little Ilvanya was a rare child. She did not seem to be afraid of anything, she met everybody with unconditional love and trust and the entire people loved her dearly. Her father was absolutely fascinated by her loving personality, she was so open and caring and he felt whole and complete when he could tuck her in for the night and sing her small lullabies before she went to sleep. This beautiful little girl brought the entire family closer together and nobody could keep a frown on their face when she came running and hugged their legs in a very loving gesture.
She was high and low and everywhere and everybody could see that everything from the horses in the stables to the trees in the gardens loved her just as much as her family. Even the most wild of stallions would act like some gentle old pony when she was near and everybody would agree that this child was blessed by the Valar. She learned fast and her hearty laughter could be heard through the palace rather often. Legolas would teach her how to ride when she got her own pony and he promised that he would teach her how to use a bow too when she got old enough. Ilvanya was always following her older brother when he was around and although her never ending curiosity could be a little challenging at times he never told her to go away. She was such a blessing and it seemed as if she had filled the palace with life and light.
As she grew she started to meet other elflings and she soon got a bunch of friends, now there was a whole little herd of elflings running around causing mischief and joy and the queen was very glad that the girl had so many friends. She never treated anyone differently than the others, she loved everyone with a full heart and it seemed as though she was born unable to restrain her feelings in any way. She felt everything so completely the whole time. When someone was hurt and placed within the healing ward she would show up and stay there for as long as it took for the healers to convince her that the person in question would be ok. The few times someone died she was absolutely heartbroken and her grief was so obvious and heart wrenching the king had to order the healers to keep her out of their area if anyone was mortally wounded. When a horse fell and broke a leg and had to be put down she wept for three whole days and when a tree in the garden was toppled over by a violent autumn storm she was grieving as if she had lost a close friend. The elleths told the queen that this little one was carrying her heart on the outside of her body, she was so sensitive. The king felt a little worried about this, he feared that the world would be too rough for her. She did not know how to restrain herself in any way.
When she was the equivalent of a seven years old human she got a new friend, a ellon about her own age. He had been with his mother in Imladris and now they had moved to Greenwood since his father lived there and worked as an officer in the guard. Nordo was a stocky kid, not very tall and very shy and Ilvanya immediately took him under her wings. With her around nobody dared to tease the little ellon and their friendship became very strong and deep. Legolas thought it was just cute and so did the others too, the two children were together almost the entire day and it seemed as if Ilvanya matured a lot because of it. She needed someone to take care of and Nordo was just perfect.
The queen and the king would often sit in the garden and watch the children play and Thranduil had to smirk a little when he noticed little Ilvanya's expression. She was obviously the boss and very much aware of it. The others did what she wanted but not because she was a princess, everybody just wanted to keep her happy. They wanted to please her and see her smile. Too little Ilvanya the world was only good, she had no idea what evil and darkness was. The times were changing and a darkness was growing, her father and brother were constantly occupied with keeping the realm safe and it was such a treat for them to return home and be greeted by her joyful laughter. It was as if she could wipe away every dark thought, every fear and even the deepest fatigue with just a smile and a touch. She was very open about her feelings and she would hug and squeeze her parents and brother rather often.
She grew even more and she was on her way to becoming a woman, she still had her sparkling personality and her kindness and she was the sweetheart of the entire palace. She had inherited her mother's beauty and her father's majestic stature, everybody said that she would be the greatest beauty within the elven realms and Thranduil was often told that he soon would have to build extra walls to keep all the suitors out. He would just laugh at this but he was starting to feel a little nervous. Ilvanya was still very close with Nordo and he was a little worried that their friendship would cause rumors to spread. Of course there would be nothing to them, the two were just children but Nordo was after all no noble. He was the son of an officer and a common elleth and the king did not want his daughter's reputation to be harmed. The queen would smile when he told her of his thoughts and then she would kiss him and tell him that there was no need to worry. Ilvanya was perhaps having a small crush on Nordo but it was just puppy love, they were children and it was entirely innocent. Thranduil felt relieved by the queen's words but he still had a strange sensation within his chest when he saw the two together. It was gnawing at his heart and he almost wanted to send Nordo away but he knew that his wife would disapprove of it and Ilvanya needed the friendship too. She spent much time with her brother still and Legolas was her closest friend still, they were sure that she would tell him if anything changed or became inappropriate.
What queen Astariel called puppy love was of course just that, a crush similar to the ones so many suffer when they are young and growing up. And of course they both felt like this was the greatest love of their life, that this was their one, the person they were destined to be together with for eternity. Nordo was no longer a stocky kid, he had started to grow and soon he was tall and strong and he was being trained with the other recruits although he was much younger than them. His father wanted his son to become a great warrior and so Nordo was being pushed through very rigorous training every day. He was proud of his skills but he was still somewhat of a child, he was immature and boy-like and Ilvanya felt like she was so much more of a grown up than him. Of course neither of them were grown-ups, they were the equivalent of a human in their early teens and they still had a lot of growing to do. Ilvanya was frustrated because her breasts had started to bud and her dresses needed to be changed and Nordo's voice would change all the time and make him blush and stutter. But they were friends and they stuck together like the branches of two trees, entwined like vines.
The darkness grew and spiders and orcs were a real threat to the peace and calm, Legolas was out on patrol all of the time and Thranduil had his hands full with reports and paperwork and planning their defenses. The queen was the one who kept the social life of the court going and she too was rather busy preparing festivals and parties and meeting important people from the other realms. Ilvanya was sad that her parents were so occupied and she was also sad that bad things happened. She saw warriors being carried away to the healers with terrible wounds and she wept for each and every one. She still had that caring heart and that lack of ability to restrain her emotions. She would meet Nordo almost every day and he was often tired after the training but they would walk in the gardens nonetheless and enjoy each-others company. Then the relationship slowly changed, Ilvanya knew she was in love with him and he had confessed that he felt the same way about her. In their young eyes these were feelings as strong as they ever could be and they could sit by the ponds and swear to love each other eternally. Ilvanya was so sure that Nordo was her one true soul mate, who else could it be? She knew little of the world outside of her father's realm, she was a bit naïve and although she was being taught by the very best teachers her parents could find there were huge gaps in her education. They would be filled as she got older and more mature but she was perhaps a bit slower to learn the realities of life than anyone would have anticipated.
She had allowed Nordo to kiss her, on her lips, once. And he had blushed and stuttered but she had liked it, sort of. Her mother had once told her that she never should be alone with an ellon but in her eyes Nordo was her friend, not an ellon. She could not think of him the same way she would think about the other ellyn of the palace. Ilvanya would have been about fourteen if she had been a human being and she was starting to look more beautiful every day. Nordo often said that she was the brightest star of them all and then she would blush and turn away for a second. But the two would hold hands and kiss and they were rather careful so that nobody saw this, they felt that these emotions were private and only for the two of them to share.
The queen was very busy with the preparations of a new healing ward and the king was almost always in some meeting. He was very sad he did not have time for his daughter but he had to concentrate on keeping his realm and thus her too, safe. Neither of the two saw how the relationship between Ilvanya and Nordo changed just underneath their noses. Ilvanya was so much in love she no longer thought about all the things she had learned and been warned about. She was walking in a cloud of sweet dreams the whole day long and she knew that Nordo felt the same way about her. She had allowed him to touch her breasts and even put his hand up underneath her skirt and it made her feel a little weird, like they were doing something very forbidden. But he liked it and so she let him see and touch more than a friend should.
As the summer reached its height they often met in the gardens at night, after sneaking out through the windows. They would just sit there and talk and share their often naïve dreams of a wonderful future.
Then one day it all changed. Nordo's father wanted his son to join his troop on his first patrol and Nordo was very eager and wanted so badly to please his father and prove himself. And so he was told that they would leave the next morning for the borders, there were reports of spider's nests there and those had to be eradicated before the pest could spread any more. Ilvanya wept when he told her that he would be gone for many days and she was so afraid that something would happen to him. She could not stand the idea of him having to fight, or even worse, getting injured. The concept of death was simply too much for her to consider, he could of course not die! The gods would not let someone she loved that much die? She would miss him terribly and they sat by a small pond in the gardens and kissed. And kisses became more, much more. He was whispering loving words to her, telling her how he worshiped her and wanted to be with her forever and she knew that this was the right thing to do. She loved him and only him and sharing herself with him was the best way she could prove just that. She was shocked though, she had not expected it to hurt, she had been sneaking past her parent's bedroom on some occasions and she had heard her parents and knew what they had been doing. After all, she was not stupid. But it had sounded as if they enjoyed it, and she had not yet been deemed old enough for that little mother to daughter chat about the birds and the bees.
Nordo was moaning and panting and she got a bit scared but she held her arms around him and knew that this was love, it had to be. Afterwards they lay there close together and she felt like she never had done anything so beautiful ever. She had made him truly happy and then it did not matter that she still was hurting and felt a little scared. Later that night when she was back in her own bed she started to feel regret, she was so uncertain if it really had been the right thing to do after all, but she had allowed him to do it and she had wanted it, sort of.
The next day Nordo left with the troop and the queen did notice her daughter's weird mood but she knew how close the two youngsters were and thought that it was just the idea of being apart from her best friend that made the princess act so blue. After all, they were still children, and the queen did not suspect anything out of the ordinary. Ilvanya was very childish in some ways still and she always felt depressed when someone was away, even if it was just for a few days.
The troop returned not one but two weeks later, they had found something much worse than a couple of spiders nest. They had found at least fifty and orcs too. They had been fighting many hard battles and lost more than half of their warriors. Nordo was among the fallen and that day Ilvanya's world collapsed utterly. She locked herself into her room and refused to leave and only her brother was allowed to come in to give her food.
The king was terribly sorry for her loss and he grieved the loss of many good ellyn, Nordo's father had survived and was so deeply caught by his grief and guilt the king ordered someone to watch over him the whole time. He did not want to lose yet another good ellon. The queen tried to talk with her daughter but she could not get through the wall of grief the young elleth had built around herself. Only Legolas could reach her and tried to comfort her as well as he could. But Ilvanya did not want comfort, she wanted her Nordo back and she was crying most of the time. She did not tell anyone what they had done, it was her most sacred memory and she did not want to share it with anyone. Ilvanya did not leave the room for almost three months, she had become pale and thin and the joy was gone from her eyes. Legolas was terrified, she was withering away like a flower without water and they feared for her life and her sanity.
Slowly she started to eat once more, she had many other friends too who had been so worried about her and they all tried to cheer her up. The girls would take her to the tailors and try new gowns and her mother would bring her along when she was gathering herbs in the woods. She was on the mend but it went very slowly and sometimes she would just collapse and weep for hours. She started to eat again and put on some weight and Legolas was always trying to stay with her to give her a shoulder to cry on. One morning she had one of her fits and was sitting on the bed bawling her eyes out, Legolas was trying for the thousandth time to explain to her that it wasn't her fault that Nordo had died, she was just sulking and weeping and then suddenly she got a bit green, threw herself of the bed and started to retch violently.
Legolas was really shocked and got a bucket, Ilvanya just kept crying and kept puking and he first suspected that it was her state of mind which made her retch this way. Then he suspected that she had eaten something which had gone bad. Ilvanya was scared, she sat there in the bed with her blankets around her, red eyed and snotty and she was shivering. "Why is this happening to me brother? I have felt terrible for days!"
Legolas was even more shocked to hear this. "You have not told anyone? What if there is something seriously wrong? "
Ilvanya just looked down, she looked like a child and her eyes were filled with tears. "I did not think it was something I should bother the rest of you with, you are all so very busy"
Legolas sighed and stroked her long silky hair. "Oh dear sister mine, nothing is more important than you, you know that. I'll got get a healer, perhaps there is something they can do."
Ilvanya wanted to stop him but he was already out the door and she sighed and pulled the blankets even tighter around herself. She felt so weird, and she had no idea what was causing it. She was afraid that she perhaps was very ill and she was scared of death even though it would mean that she would see Nordo again.
The healer came after a short time, it was an elleth who had seen more than four millennia and she had experienced almost anything. She could see how nervous and scared this young thing was and so she proceeded with caution. She asked simple questions and soon she started to suspect what it was that was ailing the young princess. It really could only be one thing and the thought was a bit shocking. Ilvanya was so very young, it should not have been possible but it apparently was after all. The healer sighed and sat down next to Ilvanya, stroked the girls soft hair. "My princess, there is something else I need to ask you, it may shock you but please do not feel offended by it, because I need to do my job, and knowing such things is part of it. Did you and Nordo ever make love? You know what I mean by that don't you?"
The girl swallowed, her face was pale and her eyes turned down towards the matrass. "I…I know what you mean. I…"
She sobbed. "Once, the day before he left. It hurt, but I let him do it, I loved him so much!"
The healer took a deep breath, she was confused. Ilvanya was really too young to conceive and she had never met an ellon who was fertile that yearly either but miracles do happen. She patted the princess on her head. "Stay here little one, I need to go and get some medicine which will make you feel a lot better. "
Ilvanya just nodded and the healer got up and left the room. She grabbed hold of a servant and told him to go and get the king and queen and tell them that it was very important. Now, how in the name of the Valar was she going to explain to the royal couple what kind of mess their daughter had managed to get herself into?
She went to the healing ward and got some herbs and made a tea from them, she knew it would help the princess feel less nauseous and she wondered what would be next. She had given the princess the tea when the king and queen rushed in, both looked very worried and the healer sat down and tried to look calm. Ilvanya was weeping once more and the queen looked at the healer with a confused and yet scared expression within her lovely eyes. "What is wrong with her? Please tell us!"
The healer took a deep breath. "I am not really supposed to tell you this because she is my patient but she is not come of age and you are her parents. She is not mature enough to make the decisions needed for the future. I am sorry to inform you that your daughter is with child"
The queen covered her mouth with her hand and Thranduil was pale as a clean sheet. He swallowed hard and had to sit down. "Oh Gods no, not my little girl!"
He was shivering. "It was Nordo wasn't it? It was he who did this to you?!"
Ilvanya got scared, her father's voice was so angry, so hurt. She sobbed and pushed herself away from him, she shivered. "I…I let him do it, he did not force me. I loved him!"
The king gasped and the queen was crying. "Oh my dear child, how could you? Have you any idea of what you have done to yourself?"
Ilvanya had not really understood anything until the healer said it out loud, she was horrified and started bawling once more. The queen embraced her and her face told of complete helplessness. It would be a scandal of epic proportions, not only had the princess managed to get pregnant but the father was a commoner and dead too. She would have nothing to protect her from the vicious gossip which was sure to pop up everywhere.
Thranduil tried to speak, his voice was shivering. "Is there anything we can do?"
The healer shook her head. "No, she is too far along for me to safely remove it and too weak to survive such a procedure too. She has to face the consequence of her actions I am afraid, I will make sure that she has the best of care the whole time."
Thranduil moaned and the queen sighed and stroked her daughter's hair. "Oh my dear little one, we have failed you, we have failed you miserably. Where were we when you needed our advice and our love? I am so sorry!"
Legolas had entered the room again and he saw that something was seriously wrong, he went ashen grey when his father told him of his sisters condition. "How is that even possible, she cannot be with child? She is a child herself damn it!"
The healer got on her feet. "It is very shocking that she has conceived yes, she is far from full grown yet. I have never heard of anyone this young who has become parents."
The queen sobbed and hid her face and Thranduil was still in shock. He could not believe that his little girl had allowed Nordo to lay with her, she was not old enough for something like that, she should not even have known what sex was! Where had they failed? Had they been too kind to her, not taught her enough?
The queen was sobbing softly, stroking her daughter's soft hair and Thranduil knew that he would have to sit down for a while longer, if he got on his feet they would give out under him. The shock was just too great. The healer hawked and stared at them. "It is of the outmost importance that we keep an eye on her from now on, and she has to eat as much as she possibly can, she needs her strength and she is far too skinny already."
Ilvanya made a grimace. "I do not want any food, I feel sick!"
The queen hugged her. "I know my dearest but you have to eat anyhow. You have to be strong when the baby comes."
Ilvanya suddenly went pale as a sheet, she had not really thought of the fact that she would have to give birth to the child growing inside of her and it was more than obvious that the very idea filled the young elleth with utter dread. She started to shiver and sob again and the queen sighed, her eyes were filled with sadness and compassion. She turned towards her husband and son. "You two, out of here. I need to speak to her in private, a small mother to daughter conversation."
Thranduil got on his feet, he was somewhat slumped forwards, looked a bit like a beaten ellon and there was nothing to be seen of his usual haughty expression. He put his arm around Legolas shoulders and they left the room without a word, the queen sighed and watched as the doors closed behind them.
She kissed her daughters brow and felt how the girl was shivering. "Ilvanya, I know that you are scared and confused but you have to be strong from now on. There are many things which are going to happen and I will be there to support you and help you, we all are going to be there for you my child. Still it is important that you are aware of what to expect."
Ilvanya gasped and hid her face against the queen's thick golden hair. "Naneth, I am so frightened. I…I didn't know that…that…!"
The queen rocked the girl in her arms. "I know my dear I know. I have failed you, I should have told you so many things but I thought that you still were too young for that sort of information."
Ilvanya stared at the floors, her face a bit red from both the crying and her thoughts. "I have heard you and adar naneth, when I have been sneaking past your rooms at night. I…I didn't know that it would hurt! And I didn't know that there could be a baby."
The queen blushed, the idea of her daughter having heard them was rather embarrassing, they both were loud whilst in the grip of passion and she had never thought that any of her children had been out of their rooms at night. She had to think to come up with a good answer to her daughter's words. "My girl, I see now that you have huge gaps in your education. How did you think that babies are made?"
Ilvanya blew her nose in a handkerchief. "I just thought that the Valar decided to give an elleth a baby and then it would be there?"
The queen felt a need to do the elven equivalent of a face palm, but she didn't. She embraced her daughter tightly, just to feel that she was holding on to something. "Well, the Valar do bless people with children yes, but now you know that it also requires certain actions involving both a female and a male. You cannot get pregnant on your own, an ellon is needed too."
Ilvanya hung her head. "I know now naneth, but why did it hurt? It didn't sound as if adar was hurting you when I heard you?"
The queen sighed. "My dear daughter, it always hurts the first time an elleth allows an ellon to make love to her, it is just the way it is, the body has to adjust to this new thing."
Ilvanya made a grimace. "It was rather terrible and he scared me, but I wanted it, kind of."
Astariel sighed once more. "You did it because you were in love with him, but you really are too young and you should know that it is something very beautiful and precious when the two people involved in it love each other and trust each other, and are adults!"
Ilvanya nodded. "I see that, now! Did adar hurt you like that the first time you…did it?"
Astariel knew that her daughter needed to know that they trusted her, that they would be there for her no matter what. They needed to rebuild the bonds within the family before the real problems started. "Yes, it hurt but it was my gift to him, and I knew what was going to happen and I was very well prepared. I am so sorry that you weren't my precious child, it never should happen the way it did with you."
Ilvanya closed her eyes and touched her flat stomach. "I can't believe it, that there is an elfling growing inside of me, oh naneth, is it going to be terrible?"
Astariel knew what she spoke of, elleths often had hard and difficult births due to their slender frame and narrow hips and she had a sensation of dread when thinking about her half grown daughter giving birth. "I shall not lie to you Ilvanya, it is going to be very hard and painful and you are probably going to experience a lot of discomfort even before going into labor. But you have many months to prepare yourself for it and to learn more. And when it is over you will have a little elfling that is just your own, and that is going to be wonderful wont it?"
Astariel knew that Ilvanya loved children and the girl nodded slowly, she bit her lower lip and there was a hint of joy in her eyes. "Yes, it will be as if he isn't completely gone, a small part of him is still here"
Astariel tried to smile, it was tragic but Ilvanya still loved Nordo, perhaps the two of them really had been meant to be together but they had met way too early. Astariel saw that the healer placed a box of herbs on a table and smiled towards them. "Here you have enough herbs to stop your nausea for the months to come. Take a cup of tea brewed on half a spoon of it every morning."
Astariel stared at the healer, she bit her lower lip. "May I speak with you in private?"
The healer nodded and the queen rose from her daughters bed and they walked into a small living room and shut the door. Astariel had problems speaking but the words did come out anyhow. "Do you even think she will make it?"
The healer sighed, her shoulders told of a sense of sorrow. "I am not sure your highness, she is so small and frail and weakened by grief. But if we manage to build her strength she may have a chance after all. I will do whatever I can to prepare her. "
Astariel smiled and bowed her head. "I know, and please, get the very best midwife available?"
The healer smiled. "Of course my queen, is there anything else?"
Astariel made a grimace. "Yes, try to keep this hidden? There is bound to be gossip and rumors when she starts showing but we do not want the problems to start too early. She needs to gather some strength before she is confronted by the vicious tongues of the court."
The healer had a sad expression on her face. "I will do whatever I can my queen, it is a tragedy that this has happened and I will do everything in my power to prevent it from becoming even greater."
Astariel petted the healers hand gently and with obvious gratitude. "Thank you mellon nin, I am most grateful."
She returned to her daughter and sat with her for the rest of the day, trying to calm her down and prepare her mentally for what was to happen.
Thranduil and Legolas had wandered into the kings study, they just sat there in two chairs staring into the fireplace, both said nothing until Legolas broke the silence with a curse that made Thranduil wince and stare at his son with shock and disbelief. "By the Valar ion nin, where did you learn that?! Oh never mind, I feel like repeating it!"
Legolas got on his feet, his fists clenched so hard his fingernails bit into his palms. "I wish Nordo wasn't dead, so I could…could…Agh, I want to cut of his…you know what! He violated my sister, my dear little sister. I know she claims that she allowed him to do it but she is a child damn it, she did not think clearly!"
Thranduil sighed. "Ion nin, I have had the same thought as you have right now, believe me. But remember Legolas, Nordo was a child too, he could not have foreseen the results of his actions more than she did. They were in love and I am sure you remember how you felt about the elleths when you were at that age?"
Legolas blushed, he had been caught numerous times trying to spy on the young elleths while they were bathing in the pools and he did remember that burning hunger for female attention which was just normal for a hormonal young ellon. No, he could not really blame Nordo for this, yes he should have been thinking with his big head and not with the other one but the prince really knew of no ellon of that age who would have been able to just say no if the elleth he was in love with suddenly allowed him to go all the way. He sat down again, he sighed and stared at his father. "Adar, what do we do now?"
Thranduil sighed and wished that he didn't have important meetings to tend to that day, he wanted to get drunk, really really drunk! "We do whatever we can to protect her and make her feel loved no matter what. Yes, it is going to be a scandal but we can cope with that I hope."
The last words came slowly and Legolas just nodded. He still had problems with the concept of his little sister being with child and having gotten laid. He should have protected her, been there for her more often but the situation at the borders had taken all of his time. He could only hope that he would be able to protect her in the future. Thranduil sighed and got back on his feet. "There are going to be rumors, gossip and questions, things like this always brings out the worse in people. We all have to be there for her, shield her from the worse rumors and give her strength. She is going to be very fragile from now on, I trust that you understand this?"
Legolas nodded. "It is just one thing Adar, should we tell Nordo's family of this?"
Thranduil looked up with a startled expression in his eyes. "Damnation, I have not even thought of that, of course, his parents should know of this too. After all it is their grandchild she is carrying and perhaps that can ease their suffering a bit. But the news has to be delivered in a very delicate manner so they don't think that we blame them in any way. His parents are grieving, having their late son accused of having violated a princess may send them right over the edge, at least his father if I know him well, and I do. "
Legolas stared at his father. "So, what do you suppose we do?"
Thranduil looked determined. "I will ask Nordo's father to meet me later this evening, and I will of course give him the news in a gentle way. "
Legolas tried to smile. "Then do it, but please, tell him somewhere else than in the throne room, find some cozy relaxing spot. You always look so intimidating wearing your crown."
Thranduil smiled for the first time that day and they left the room together, they had a new task ahead of them and it was one they could not fail in completing.
Ilvanya was sheltered from the public now, the queen had allowed some of her friends to stay with her since they could be trusted and they all tried to cheer her up and prepare her for what was to come. Astariel saw to it that she was being given the very best food and that the healers were keeping an eye on her every day. Ilvanya felt a little uncomfortable with all the attention she was getting but she seemed to accept it somehow. She knew it was needed and why. She put on weight and soon she looked just as lovely as before but she started showing and then the problems really started. Thranduil had told Nordo's father of his daughters situation and the warrior had been both filled with sorrow and shame, he could not believe that his son could have been that stupid but on the other hand there as a grandchild on the way and he could not help but feeling excited by that thought. The families would have to raise this child together and Astariel allowed Ilvanya to meet Nordo's parents on a few occasions. But now the rumors started to fly, and they soon turned into a menace. One feather soon turned into five hens and Legolas came running into his mother's living room one evening with an expression so nasty it made the queen dead sure he had spotted orcs in the royal gardens. "I cannot believe it, the audacity of those damn…!"
He could not finish the sentence and the queen stared at him with huge eyes. She of course knew of all the things people were discussing now. "What?"
Legolas was so angry he was shivering, his face was as pale as a sheet. "I overheard some servants down by the kitchens, they said that someone had mentioned that Nordo couldn't be the father of Ilvanya's child, that he was too young to know what to do! They had said that…that.."
He sat down and his eyes were black with rage. "They claimed that…I…had…Valar, it is vile!"
Astariel gasped and her eyes grew wide with both shock and disgust. She embraced her son and kissed his golden hair, rocked him in her arms. "There there, easy now ion nin, we all knew that all sorts of gossip would show up, even the terrible kind. I think I will have to make a public speech, to remove some of the foundation they base their rumors on."
Legolas nodded. "Do it naneth, if people are told the truth there is no longer any joy in speculating about it."
And so Queen Astariel did assemble the entire court and told them the truth, that the princess was a mother to be and that Nordo was the father. She explained the entire situation and the rumors lessened but there were still some vicious tongues who claimed that her words had been just a cover up to hide the real truth.
Ilvanya was getting larger by the day now, as winter approached she stayed indoors most of the time but she did sometimes go into the gardens just to get some fresh air. Her mother would try to follow her whenever she had the time but if she didn't then her friends or brother would accompany her. The healer was optimistic since she was getting stronger and more prepared but there was still some doubt in her eyes. The princess was small and the child appeared to be rather large. Ilvanya was in the gardens playing with her friends, they were building a small snow castle and the elleths were giggling and having fun. Ilvanya sent one of her girls to go gather her gloves, her hands were getting cold and she did not want to freeze. She stood by a tree when she noticed that one of the ladies of the court walked by, curiously watching the elleths. Ilvanya knew that this was an elleth of considerable age and of a very well thought of family. She also knew that her father never had liked this person, why she did not know but she had a feeling that it had something to do with her daeradar and things that happed centuries ago.
The elleth saw her and a rather patronizing expression slid across her pretty face. "So, who is it if not the little royal whore? I wonder how many you have opened your legs for in order to conceive at such a tender age? It cannot have been just a few, or is it true what they say, that you've been your brother's mistress?"
Ilvanya stared at the elleth with eyes as wide as saucers, she could not believe what the female was saying to her. She was spitting the words out and they were filled with disgust and something akin to hatred. Ilvanya felt her legs give out underneath her in sheer shock and her friends noticed and came running, the elleth just turned around and walked away without even offering a helping hand and one of Ilvanyas friends ran to get the queen. Astariel was in despair when she heard what that elleth had said to her daughter, Ilvanya was crying and in shock and it wasn't at all good for her in her condition. She was getting closer to her due date and such emotional situations could cause all sorts of complications. The girls told the queen of everything the elleth had said and she in turn told Thranduil who almost blew a fuse, he went bright red with rage and then he ordered that the elleth and her family was to be banned from court and that they would be banned also from the other elven realms.
Ilvanya was crying in her mother's arms and Astariel tried to calm her down. The girl was shaking and sobbing and then she lifted her face and stared at her mother's face. "Mother, am I really a whore?"
Astariel gasped and stared at her daughter in disbelief, had those words said so cruelly really affected her daughter so much that she had started to believe them? "No, my dearest child, of course not! You do know what a whore is do you not? Those words were said just to hurt you, I know that the elleth who spoke to you have no children of her own although she has had three husbands, she is bitter and jealous of anyone who has been blessed."
Ilvanya sighed, dried her eyes. "Then why is it that a female is a whore if she has laid with an ellon while the Ellyn can brag all they like about having slept with several ellith and are seen as just virile and strong?"
Astariel stroked her daughter's hair. "That is a good question my dear, and it has no good answer. Rest now little one, you need your strength. Forget what she said, she is old and cruel and vicious and your father has banned her from court and from our realm."
Ilvanya giggled and Astariel helped her get into bed for the night. She was getting so big now she had problems moving around and Astariel knew that the healers were worried. And she was too, she feared that this would end in an utter disaster and she often prayed the Valar to keep a guardian hand above her daughter to protect her.
That night she climbed into bed and found that Thranduil already had gone to bed for the night, It was rare that she was the last one to get ready for the night and she frowned and touched his shoulder gently. He sniffed and made a movement as if to wipe away tears from his face, Astariel was shocked, she had only seen him weep twice, when their children had been born. "Meleth nin, what is it?"
Her voice told of her despair and he tried to grin but it became a grimace. "It is…I cannot believe how anyone can be so cruel? To say something like that to her, throwing it right in her face? I wish I could have ordered that females execution for having insulted my daughter thus!"
Astariel nodded. "Some would, but you are not that kind of an ellon, you rule with wisdom and truth, not with cruelty. "
He pressed his face towards her neck and his warm breath made her shudder. "Our poor child, I cannot imagine how that must have hurt her, I wept for her meleth, only for her!"
Astariel gave her husband a loving smile. "I know melethron, I know the ways of your heart."
He embraced her. "Then hold me tonight, just hold me, help me keep the faith in good things"
And so she did and they laid there embracing each other until they both fell asleep. Whatever would happen, they were together and would face it as one.
Ilvanya's due date was in early spring and the entire palace was buzzing as the day grew nearer, Ilvanya appeared to be brave but on the inside she was absolutely terrified. They had sheltered her as well as they could but she had heard terrible stories before, of elleths who died giving birth and she was almost desperate with fear but hid it well. Nordo's parents had been given rooms in the palace and they too were extremely nervous. They cared about her and worried that this could come to a very sad end. The healer was optimistic but Astariel knew that it was a façade, even the midwife tried to appear as of this would be easy but everybody knew that it wouldn't. It was of the greatest importance that the young elleth wasn't too scared, that would make the birth take a lot longer and put both her and the child at risk and so Astariel tried to make her daughter focus on the baby more than the birthing in itself. But it was impossible, Ilvanya could not get her mind away from the fact that the baby had to come out and that it would hurt. Astariel had asked the healer if they could sedate her somehow but it was impossible, if they gave her anything then the baby would be affected too and that could be fatal all too quick.
Ilvanya reached the due date the midwife had calculated and went over it, now the palace was quiet, everybody was almost afraid of making any sounds and they were whispering. They feared for the princess and many gathered in the gardens to pray for her safety and life.
Legolas had been out on patrol but returned home and he was very nervous, his father was almost a nervous wreck and the queen was so restless she never stayed in the same room for more than a few minutes. They were gathered in Ilvanyas room trying to play a game of cards when the princess suddenly looked very pale, she looked down and they saw how a huge wet spot spread across her bed. She was more than a week overdue so it was no shock but to Ilvanya it clearly was. She started screaming and they got rid of the cards and called for the midwife and the healer. Astariel tried to calm the girl down but to no prevail, she was screaming and crying and absolutely terrified and the queen once more cursed the entire situation. She was absolutely not mature enough to go through this, if she had been just fifty years older it would have been a whole different story.
The midwife allowed Thranduil and Legolas to stay in the room, normally any male who dared to show up would be commanded out but the healer thought that they perhaps would be able to calm her down. The water had broken but it did take some time before things really started happening. The midwife removed any knots she could find within the room, they unbraided Ilvanyas hair and let every lock remain open. All to ensure that the birth would go smoothly. Ilvanya was screaming as soon as she felt the first contractions, she was in a state of panic and the healer was in despair. Her body was not prepared for this, she was too small and young and her high level of adrenaline did not make matters any easier.
They got her into a birthing chair with much effort and the healer had to physically hold the girl down to avoid that she got up from it again. The midwife had gotten at least three helpers and they had to hold her legs while the elderly elleth examined her, Ilvanya would not let anyone touch her and her father and brother was sitting in the back of the room trying not to become to overwhelmed with emotions. Both were terrified, neither had been in a birthing room before and Ilvanya's piercing wails of agony cut into them like orc blades. Thranduil was crying and Legolas was biting his lower lip until it was bleeding, was this really normal? Was she supposed to be in such pain?
The midwife was glad Astariel was there, she had given birth to two children and knew what it all was about. She tried to explain everything to her daughter but the girl was still beside herself with fear and pain. She did not really respond to anything they did in the normal way and the midwife had a grim expression on her face. She knew where this was heading.
An entire day went by, they were all exhausted and the palace was quiet, nobody sang or talked, they all knew what was going on in the princess chambers. Servants brought food and drink and her family took turns sleeping but they did not sleep well. Ilvanyas contractions got stronger but very slowly and her body was fighting the process. She was too tense and afraid to give birth and the healer did give her a sedative when she had struggled for almost two entire days. Her pelvis was so narrow the midwife knew that the baby probably would get stuck no matter what they did and she was preparing herself for a birth which only could end with either one or two deaths. When Ilvanya got sedated it allowed her body to go to work and so things started to move forward but slowly and she was still screaming and wailing like some mad woman. Thranduil had left the room for a short while, he had to tend to his job even if his daughter was in labor but afterwards he went to the gardens where he knelt down praying that the Valar would spare his only daughter, if they wanted a life they could take his, he would not mind as long as his daughter was delivered from this terrible situation.
The baby was too big. Astariel had already guessed that and the midwife was sure that it was already dead. They had two options now and both were grim. To pull the child out of her using instruments or cut her open, both methods would most likely result in her death just as doing nothing would. Ilvanya was exhausted now, barely conscious and she had started to bleed rather heavily. The midwife feared that the placenta had gotten torn and they did not have much time left to act. Astariel took the decision, they would have to pull the child out and Ilvanya started screaming again when they started. She screamed so bad the entire palace heard her and they all knew what those screams meant, the palace was already going into mourning. The king's butler was emptying the closets of the equipment used for days of official royal mourning and the palace had become a very somber place, a place of grief.
The midwife was close to tears, she had never attended to a more difficult birth and Ilvanya was losing her strength fast now. They had to stop her bleeding before it became too late. They had to get the baby out of her even if it meant breaking her pubic bone or pelvis. Thranduil and Legolas were still sitting in the back of the room and neither said anything, they were too horrified by what they were witnessing. Legolas was pale and sweating, he wished by the Valar that his sister soon would be freed from this living nightmare. "I swear, I will rather live my entire life in celibacy than risk putting an elleth through something like this, this is horrible"
Thranduil could just nod and stare at the bed where they struggled to save his daughters life. "I understand that my son, but usually it isn't this bad, I hope!"
Legolas just stared at him with dark despair shining in his eyes and they tried to listen to the voices of the midwife and Astariel, but at the same time they did not want to hear anything. Ilvanya was no longer screaming, she just made some moaning sounds which were even worse than her screams. Finally the midwife got the baby out, it was dead and had been for more than a day and now there was orders being shouted everywhere. The helpers ran around with bowls of herbs and instruments and her family was keeping their fingers crossed.
After just half an hour it became clear that there was little anyone could do, not even elvish medicine could replace all the blood she had been losing and she was fading fast. The healer and the midwife removed the bloody sheets, cleaned the area up to let her family say goodbye in an orderly manner and Ilvanya was barely conscious now. The healer gave her something to ease her pain and she was given so much of the stuff she was almost in a state of euphoria.
Astariel sat with her daughter leaned towards her body, she was weeping and Thranduil was shivering and sobbing, Legolas had never seen his father this vulnerable. They kissed her forehead, caressed her hair and whispered words of love and endearment to her. Ilvanya smiled, she felt just tired now, not afraid or anything. She wanted to sleep and rest and there was no pain. She could not really understand why they all were so sad, was it because her baby had been dead? Somehow it did not matter any longer. She smiled to her mother. "I am tired, can you sing me to sleep like you used to?"
Astariel was barely able to answer, she just nodded and Thranduil kissed his daughters pale cold hand. "Just sleep now my little one, do not be afraid, we are watching over you."
Legolas kissed her brow and he was sobbing, she was fading fast now. Astariel tried to sing, she just remembered one song and so she sang it even if her voice was cracking and uneven.
"Lay down your sweet and weary headNight is falling. You have come to journey's end.Sleep now. Dream of the ones who came before.They are calling from across a distant shore.Why do you weep? What are these tears upon your face?Soon you will see all of your fears will pass away.Safe in my arms, you're only sleeping."
Ilvanya was smiling while she listened to her mother's voice. "That is beautiful naneth, I can see them, the shores…"
She closed her eyes and appeared to drift into sleep. "So beautiful"
Her voice faded out with her last breath and they just stared at her, all three of them. Neither of them wanted to believe it, that she was gone. The healer touched her neck, shook her head. "I am sorry, she is in the halls of Mandos now, safe and without any more pain and grief."
Astariel bend down, kissed her daughter's hair one last time. "We will meet again my little one, one day we will all meet again."
Thranduil broke down, he just collapsed and started sobbing and Legolas joined him on the floor, the two males clung to each other while they were crying and grieving the passing of the princess. Astariel stayed on the bed with her daughter's body in her arms until she started to get cold. Then the healer gently helped the queen off the bed and covered the body with a sheet. They would prepare the body for the funeral as soon as her family left the room but for now they were allowed to stay and vent their sorrow and grief.
The three of them stayed there for hours, Thranduil threw a tantrum and roared with grief, he threw several glasses at the walls so they shattered, then he collapsed once more crying like a child and Astariel used all of her energy on calming her weeping husband and son. At the end they all gave in to their fatigue and despair and laid there on the floor in front of the bed. Servants came and helped them get back to their rooms, helped them getting undressed and into bed and the healer gave them all sleeping potions. While the royal family slept the entire palace went into mourning, many were singing laments and others were preparing for the funeral. Ilvanyas body was washed and prepared and laid on the funeral pyre. Someone from her family would have to set it on fire the next day and the king's counsellors wrote letters to both Imladris and Lothlorien explaining the sad passing of the princess. Everything was being prepared and when the queen and her husband and son woke up they woke up to silence. Everybody was bowing their heads in grief and the three slowly got their clothes on. It was surreal, it could not be true. Ilvanya could not be dead? It was impossible, and yet it was true.
Nordo's family was grieving too, and they were given a prominent place at the funeral ceremony. Thranduil was the one supposed to light the funeral pyre but he could not, he simply could not without suffering a complete and very public break down and so Legolas was given that task. He did it with both reverence and dignity and as the sparks flew up above the canopy the voices of all gathered there were heard singing an ancient tune of grief and loss. Astariel was crying her eyes out and she was barely able to stand up straight, Thranduil had to hold her by her waist to prevent her from toppling over like she was drunk. Legolas was weeping and he did nothing to hide his tears, nobody did.
Afterwards everybody went to their homes and the royal family returned to their quarters, they were silent and joined by their immense sorrow. It would take a long time before things got back to normal, if they ever did. Soon letters of condolence arrived from Imladris and Lothlorien and they told of disbelief and great compassion. It did deliver a little solace and slowly the dark veil of sorrow and loss was lifted off their minds and souls. They would cherish her memory and one day if the Valar were merciful they would meet again.
A few years later Astariel got pregnant once more but she lost the child very early, the same thing happened two more times and was a terrible strain for her and so she decided to sail to Valinor. It was no easy decision to make because she loved her husband and son dearly and did not want to be separated from them. She knew that it would cause them both great sorrow and longing but she could not stay any longer. Every room, every familiar place reminded her of her lost daughter and she knew she would fade if she stayed any longer. And so she left and Nordo's family followed her. Thranduil tried to stay strong for his son but as the years went he became more and more cold and distant and he never opened his heart to anyone again. Ilvanyas name was never mentioned again when the king was near, it made him extremely unstable and so the princess of Mirkwood was almost forgotten by all except from her brother and father and in the centuries to follow only a very few knew of the small ceremony the two of the held in spring. Thranduil and Legolas would gather flowers and place them in front of a statue made in her likeness and there they would share their grief and it became a part of the bond that they shared, a part that remained strong and adamant even when father and son were apart. It was beauty even in sorrow and they both drew strength from the memories and the hope that they all one day would be reunited.
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