Calm The Fire: 68

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When it came to being collected for dinner, the last person Náriel expected to see when she opened her door was Thranduil. “Uncle,” she said while stepping back and opening the door more. “I will-”

“May I inquire into something?” He asked, not acting any differently from cutting her sentence off.

“Certainly,” Náriel twiddled her fingers together and looked at him slightly nervously.

He gestured a hand to her green attire. “You are wearing your uniform to dinner?”

“I suppose...” Náriel's voice trailed off as a light frown appeared on her face. “I should dress appropriately. This is, after all, the first dinner we have had together in such a long time.” Stepping back she looked to him quickly from looking over at her wardrobe. “Sorry to make you wait, I’ll be just a moment.” Smiling she plucked a dress from the wardrobe and dived into another small room which acted as a bathroom. Thranduil merely inclined his head and stayed awaiting for her at the door.

It wasn't long until Náriel walked out of the small bathroom, folding her uniform up in her hands and placing it gently on the bed. She wriggled her hands out of the long sleeves and ran them down the ivory material of the skirt. Her dress in general was simple yet elegant enough for this dinner occasion. The neckline was of braided gold, the same braiding ran along and around half way down the long sleeves which on the inside were lined in a golden colour too. Around the waist the same braiding sat, a simple tassel hung down from the band and trailed down the front of the dress. The skirt of the dress wasn't as long as others she owned, but there was still a small trail.

It felt strange and alien to her. It had been so long since she had worn a dress. Let alone a dress this simply beautiful. Thranduil seemed pleased by her change in clothes and gestured to the corridor behind him.

Náriel briskly walked after him while undoing the small braids which were in her hair. Luckily enough her uncle hadn't paid too much heed to how her hair was, nor did he notice when she unclipped the metal clasp and slipped it into a small pocket sewn into her dress. From being earlier washed and then tied up, her hair now hung in loose blonde curls which trailed down her back.

The walk to the hall was silent, the only sounds were the flickering of nearby torchlight, and their quiet almost inaudible footsteps. Náriel entwined her hands in front of her and followed Thranduil down the corridor, by his side. Turning into the hall she drew short though. Her stopping caused him to look down at her, and for the other people in the hall to promptly stop eating.

Náriel stepped awkwardly forwards, her eyes slowly flicked to the side and looked over to her friends which were all seated around a long table laden with food. They looked at her with a certain level of confusion. None of them had heard word of her, and for all they knew she was still out in Mirkwood. Seeing her now, walking along the aisle looking every bit of the Elven Princess she was meant to be, caused them to stop eating and watch her.

Silently she moved forwards and had to literally tear her eyes away from them. Sitting down at a long table at the back of the room she held her hands underneath the table and clenched them tightly. They were shaking. Sitting straight backed she looked to the door. She desperately wanted to run back through it and out of this room. No sooner had Thranduil sat down next to her did the noise enter the room again. The chatter which had disappeared when they walked through had reappeared. Náriel looked down at the meal which was placed in front of her. She was starving that much she couldn't deny. Slowly picking up her fork she took to eating by small degree. Eating fast wouldn't do her any favours. It's not like it'd get her out of the room any faster.

“What do you think they are whispering about down there?” Náriel's eyes flicked up to look at Thranduil. He was leaning back in his chair looking rather bored at the sight of the whispering Dwarves huddled around the table. They were all in some way shackled to either the chairs they were seated in or the table. Thranduil readjusted the grasp he had on his glass and looked to her. “It matters not.” He decided at length.

“They are to stay here?”

“Until they cooperate, yes.”

Náriel frowned and shook her head. “They will never cooperate.”

“You know this for certain?” She just gave him a knowing look. “I know too,” Thranduil said simply while drinking some of his wine. Náriel slowly looked away and looked up at the door when someone else walked through. She smiled at the sight of Legolas. She looked back to Thranduil, he smiled lightly and inclined his head, “Go.”

Náriel stood up and walked around the table, walking forwards she stopped in front of Legolas. “You know when uncle said you may be present this evening, I thought he was actually lying.”

“Did I not say we would talk later?” Legolas asked while looking down at her, though he quickly looked to the side with a narrow eyed expression.

“Don't look at them like that.”

He tilted his head to the side and looked to her. “You pity them,” he said while walking past her and towards the table where his father was sitting watching all. Náriel slowly turned and watched him go. Of course Legolas disliked the Dwarves as much as Thranduil, of course he did, it was something which clearly ran in the family and passed from father to son.

Quickly looking to her friends she moved forwards and sat back down in between Thranduil and Legolas. It was slightly awkward being between them both. “Tell me,” Legolas started while looking to her. “What have you seen when outside of Mirkwood?”

“You know I didn't expect to see anything much. But I have seen so much.” Náriel paused. “Trolls,” she laughed quietly, “They're a lot denser then I ever thought. Then there's Goblins, which aren't much better.”

“Orcs?” Legolas questioned. “They're teeming out there.”

“And Orcs.” Náriel said sadly with a small shake of her head. “They're more terrifying than I ever thought.” She said distantly.

“You do not have to face such things again if you decide to stay.” Thranduil said while looking over to the two of them.

Legolas raised a curious eyebrow, he looked questionably from his father down to Náriel who seemed troubled. “You are to stay?” He asked indifferently. He did not foresee this happening. In truth, he thought that because of the company she was with, she'd find herself in a cell too. Though he was most glad to see she wasn't. Though he was surprised to see her like she was now. It was more than clear that Thranduil was trying rather hard to make her feel like she was wholly welcomed back. Though Legolas couldn't help but feel there was something underlining this all.

“Perhaps, maybe, yes,” Náriel answered at length with an awkward tone and an even more awkward laugh in between. She suddenly oddly realized how Bilbo felt when Thorin and Gandalf were talking to him about matters which he may not know about, or may not have a comment for. Giving a small sigh she opted to ignore the looks which Legolas was sending her way and started to eat again, a few seconds passed and he too commenced eating.

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(A/N: I always oddly liked the meal moment in the book. Though, it shows odd humanity for Thranduil really, no joke, really odd humanity.)

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