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Author's Chapter Notes:
This is another of the many stories that fits into the expansive AU I have written around, which is mostly book-verse with a dash of movie-verse. http://pounce.queencheetah.com for more details.
Ever since coming across the sea, Thranduil had found little to do with his time. Though he had originally hoped in the back of his mind for some great adventure, he found himself succumbing to the tedious life in Doriath more often than he would have liked. It was for this reason that he would sneak outside the confines of the protected realm and into the uncharted forests that lay just beyond Melian’s shield.

It was here, and here alone, that he felt his heart lift as it had once soared in Valinor. In Valinor, where flowers bloomed not once but every day, and trees were ever-green. He missed the constant laughter, the harmonious light. Most of all, he missed his two best friends – though, he would admit to no one that the silver-blonde maiden who would wrestle him to the ground and declare herself queen of the trees and the dark-haired elf who smiled constantly and showed little remorse for blaming his errors on his younger and fairer friend were the two elves he missed the most in all of Arda.

“Ecthelion and Artanis, why ever did you stray?” he asked aloud as he wandered through the trees. “How was it that the land that bore you came to bore you?”

There was a rustle in the leaves which caught Thranduil’s attention, and though he might have passed it off as the wind, he caught within the branches a pair of bright eyes watching him. They were gone in an instant, but his curiosity won over his caution, and soon he was in the tree himself, looking to track whatever had spied him. “I’ve seen you,” he called out in a clear voice. “I’ve a troop of archers at the ready,” he lied. “Reveal yourself!”

There was no noise at first, but then he picked up the faint sound of someone panting, and the smell of fear. Likely, he had little to fear himself, and at first the thought came that perhaps he had encountered some creature of the forest. There was a feeling, though, that this was not some rogue animal wandering the swaying branches. This was an elf, but friend or foe he could not tell and so he pursued in the direction of the sounds.

Four trees from the first one he climbed, he could feel the presence of another and turned to see the bright eyes once more. They indeed did belong to an elf – a tangled looking thing, poorly dressed in rags and marked with scars and fading bruises. Unclean and unkempt, with dark matted hair clinging together, obscuring a smudged face. But the ears and the eyes gave away what was hidden beneath the dirt and the grime. The body gave away something else – this was not only an elf, but an elleth.

Thranduil’s surprised look was wiped from his face as he shook his head. First things first, this poor thing had been attacked, or so it seemed. He introduced himself and then offered to take her back to Doriath. Leaning foward, he reached out a hand to guide her down from the tree. Once again he was shocked, for she reared up and hissed at him.

"Or, not," he said quickly, drawing his hand back. The elleth looked as if she might bolt, and so he sat back and placed his hands onto the branch in the most passive stance he could possibly take while still keeping his balance. The she-elf eyed him warily, sniffing at the air with great suspicion.

Unsure of what else to do, Thranduil began to sing. He did not intend to simply leave this elleth, no matter how bizarre her behavior. At the same time, he did not wish to lose any fingers. His voice was soft, singing a lullaby that was common to the Eldar. His words, however, appeared to confuse her, but even music can tame the wild soul, and the elleth listened and lowered herself into a more comfortable position in the branches.

When his throat began to dry from his repeated singing, Thranduil slowly brought the tune to a close, tapering off until finally he stopped with one soft, drawn out note. He held his breath as he surveyed the elleth who had calmed considerably. "Shall we try again?" The elleth rose up a little, giving him a dangerous look. "Perhaps not," he said with a sigh as he pushed his hair back over his ears.

The elleth's eyes widened, and a moment later, she flung herself upon Thranduil, nearly knocking him from the tree.
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