Estel snorted and jerked up, shuffling his bedroll in an effort to
‘fluff’ it…he just could not get comfortable; every pebble felt like a
boulder and every twig felt like a log. He laid down for about
three seconds, then grunted and flopped over to his other side, only to
notice an aggravated Elf glaring down at him.
“What is wrong with you? I took the watch so you could sleep because
you were soooo tired…”
“I know.” The Man grumbled, raising up and attacking his bedroll again.
“I just…*pound*… can’t get…*punch*…settled to sleep.”
Legolas commiserated with his friend, dropping to sit cross-legged on
the ground beside him. “Well, there is no danger about, so that should
not be a worry for you, and we are suffering neither from drastic
wounds nor poisoning for a change.” The Prince laughed lightly, as it
was a rarity they had not encountered some great danger as usual on
their forays. Running into a small pack of wolves a day earlier, a
relatively slight effort on their part had convinced the beasts to seek
easier prey. He and Estel had acquired only minor scratches and bruises
in the skirmish. “Mayhap it is the lack of dire circumstance that makes
you unable to rest, as you must wonder what may lie in wait.” His
teasing tone earned a scowl from the Ranger.
“Oh, indeed, my day is not complete minus the thrill of battling an Orc
army riding Wargs, with Oliphants at the rear, pinning us at the edge
of the highest cliff, at which bottom rages the deepest river
overflowing from the terrible storm…”
Legolas’ eyes grew larger as the scene unfolded. “Enough!” He finally
broke in. “Arrogant Human! You should be careful what you wish for.” Oliphants, indeed – that would be all we
need to run into. The Elf began to worry as the Man continued to
fidget. Could he be sick? Mortals
can react so strangely to such common things. He surprised his
friend by suddenly reaching to feel the Man’s brow for fever. Finding
no unnatural heat, he tried to recall what other signs of ailment to
Realizing the concern, Estel assured him, “I’m fine, I just need to
Legolas had a sudden idea. “You could drink some ‘special’ tea. You
have the ingredients with you.” The Man made a terrible face at the
very thought of swallowing the vile stuff when not on the verge of
death. “I could brew some for you right away; you will certainly sleep
The Ranger shook a fist at his friend. “I will fight you if you try to
make me drink it.”
The Prince appeared affronted. “Fine, no need to be belligerent. Your
need to sleep is making you even more obstinate than usual. And Lord
Elrond’s tea tastes not that bad.”
Estel was looking at him in mock shock. “I thought Elves had such
marvelous memories! You have tasted some of that tea yourself, and yet
you speak thus?” He watched as Legolas considered and then made a face
of his own.
“It is rather nasty at that…still, it works.” They both silently agreed
to forgo further discussion of the tea.
Estel began flicking pebbles from around his bedding, while Legolas
gazed at the trees as if expecting them to present a solution to their
problem. As none was forthcoming from that source, the Elf turned his
gaze back on his friend. “What might I do that would help you relax?
Perhaps a massage?”
Estel sat up, smiling, but shook his head. “The offer is kind, but it
is not my body that is tense, rather my mind.”
“Too many thoughts crowding that small space?” Legolas dodged a swat.
“Then we must concentrate on your head.” Having another idea, he moved
closer to the Man. “I shall braid your hair. It is more relaxing to do
it oneself, but having another braid it is well also, plus you have not
much experience.” He cut off the expected protest. “I am surprised at
that, for all I have heard you contrived in your innocent youth to
‘look elfish’.” The Prince was remembering a tale told him by Elladan
and Elrohir, Estel’s fostering brothers, of a time the human child had
gone for a whole day holding his ears to points, hoping the skin would
stretch and stay that way.
Estel was fairly certain of Legolas’ thoughts, and the memory still
caused a faint blush on the Man’s face. He had been quite disappointed
at the results those years ago, ending up that day with bruised but
still very round ears. Returning his thoughts to the present, and
seeing his friend patiently waiting for permission to begin braiding,
the Ranger gave a sigh. “Have a go at it then, but be warned my hair
will likely not be compatible with your efforts.”
The Elf sorted strands of human hair to work with, fingers gently
stroking along the scalp in the process. Considering the Ranger’s
comment, Legolas paused. “So you have tried this then?”
“Not I, but my brothers have, many years back.”
“Both of them?” He hoped Estel had been willing, for the twin Elves
could be mercilessly persistent.
“Aye, both, at the same time, one on each side of my head.” The Man did
not sound particularly traumatized over the occurrence. “They were
quite earnest to ‘help’ me, and did a fine effort, but they got
somewhat carried away with it.”
“And…” the listener nudged the talebearer past the pause.
“And when they were done, my entire head was in braids.” Estel was
snickering softly, and Legolas joined in.
“I am sure you could have started a whole new tradition among the
warriors of the realm.”
“Umm, well, except…” The Ranger’s voice trailed off as he realized he
was freely telling a tale that he would usually pay his brothers dearly
to keep secret. But it would be only
a matter of time until they told it anyway; I am surprised they have
“Except…” the Prince ‘nudged’ again, eager to hear the rest of the
“They had run out of the usual leather and twine ties about halfway
through, and there was no way my hair was going to hold on to itself,
so one of them went to Arwen’s room and raided…er, ‘borrowed’ most of
her hair ribbons to use. I could not see the result as the twins were
working at the back of my head by then, and so I flaunted about all the
rest of the day blissfully unaware.”
Legolas could not suppress a wide grin. “I am sure you were
He could well imagine the soft rose, baby blue and other very feminine
shades of silken décor twined in the Man’s dark locks. “And when
you found out, I suppose you got appropriately even.”
“I believe I did threaten them with several types of torture, but I
didn’t follow through. For once, the twins actually did not intend to
embarrass me, at least not at first. And since they were careful to put
Arwen’s ribbons back in place before she would miss them and promised not
to tell her I’d worn them, I supposed us even.”
“Hmmph.” Legolas grumped. “She could hardly have faulted you when it
was your brothers thieving her possessions. I believe you do owe them
yet; I would help you plan a proper revenge, for I am sure if I think
hard enough, I will recall some matter I also owe them for.” He
finished off the first braid and leaned back to critique his work.
Gaining no response from the Ranger on either the braiding or the offer
of revenge-aid, he took a closer look at his silent friend.
Estel’s thoughts had remained on Arwen. In his childhood years, she
had lived away from Imladris, so he had been familiar with her then
only from tales told by her family and friends. Now he imagined her in
that earlier scenario: berating him
for staining her lovely ribbons with his messy human hair. And even in such a temper, every word from her lips would I hear
like the note of a nightingale. He
gradually became aware of his companion’s stare and flushed deeply.
Legolas merely moved to the Man’s other side and began plaiting again.
“You are besotted.”
Though he found his friend’s ministrations relaxing, more so than
expected, the topic of conversation now was making the Man tense again.
“Am not! I…love her, Legolas.” Silence came and lingered a while.
Legolas noted the Man’s wistful, almost sad, countenance. Ai, he loves her! This should be a good
thing…his worry over it is not! “True love is a wonderful thing,
Estel,” he replied seriously, “and can overcome most if not all
obstacles it encounters, if you but give it time to do so.” He finished
the second braid and moved back. “There, you look almost civilized now.”
Estel scowled briefly, then tilted his head back and forth in mild
surprise; the braids were holding and it felt nice, if odd, to not have
hair sliding in front of his eyes. A thought came to him, and he gave a
suspicious glare to the Elf. “What did you use to hold it so well?”
“Only some moss from the trees.” Legolas held out some of the stuff,
much like a gray-green twine.
The Wood-Elf uses a plant…I should
have known. Satisfied, his thoughts returned to Arwen.
Legolas, knowing the human so well, could see the change in thoughts by
the slight glazing of gray eyes as well as the subtle shifting of
facial features. He groaned inwardly. He
is being much too serious about this, and will never sleep tonight,
which will not bode well for either of us on the morrow! How might I
make him forget his lady love for now? An idea began to form. Perhaps not forget, but only lighten his
The Prince recalled a talent discovered a long time back while teasing
Arwen. After her initial shock, she had been delighted and conspired
with him to prank her brothers in the same manner…several times. They
even managed to prank her father Elrond once; however, although the Elf
Lord seemed highly amused afterwards, Legolas always felt a tiny guilt
for such boldness and had not used that particular method since. Now seems a time for hidden talent to
resurface… if I master it still, as long has it been since tried, and
no chance here to practice. No matter, I shall just give it my best
effort. Yet first things first…
Legolas cast his senses sweeping outward and found no dangers
lurking. With that and knowledge that the trees would also warn of any
approaching threat, he returned his attention fully to the Ranger. The
Elf stretched himself out alongside his friend, taking no apparent
notice of the Man’s new round of fidgeting.
“Of course,” he began, “even two clearly in love must go through proper
procedures of declaration.” He knew without looking he had caught
Estel’s attention. “I am certain the Evenstar will expect a lengthy and
attentive, even ceremonious, courtship.” He then glanced at the Man,
who was giving a rather pitiful ‘I know’ look back. He continued,
“And even giving allowance for your race’s…umm, hygienic deficiency…”
Legolas thought he heard a snarl from the human’s direction, but
ignored it. “she will expect an effort on your part to be as least
scruffy as you can manage, which will involve a great deal more than
braiding that mop you call hair.”
The Ranger was no longer fidgeting; rather he was putting all his
effort into glaring at the Prince. “I am well aware of that, and just
what ‘helpful’ hints would you give to me to accomplish such a daunting
task, my ‘dear, dear’ friend?”
The Elf chose to again ignore the snarls mingled with the words. “Well,
first of all, you might make the effort to bathe more often.” It was an
ongoing joke between them that the Man avoided baths; truly he did not,
and was quite more attentive to it than most Men would be.
Estel groaned. This again!
“If I took to bathing as much as certain prissy Elves I know of, I
would be so wrinkled as to be unrecognizable. How could I woo my lady
Legolas had actually overlooked that peculiar effect water had on
humans in long contact with it. “Hmm…all right, I’ll concede you that
point. Then another must be conceded, I suppose, due to that odd thing
you Humans do.”
“Which would be?” Estel suspected his friend had a very long list of
‘odd’ things Humans did.
“When you get as wet as if you had bathed, but you do not smell
bathed…and though it happens often, it does not wrinkle your skin!”
“Sweating, it’s called, and it’s natural for us Humans to do so.”
“Still seems odd,” Legolas muttered, but decided to forgo continued
complaints on the matter. “You could at least camouflage that problem
with scented oils. Arwen is quite fond of such blandishments…I believe
her favorites are ‘Ripe Summer Strawberry’ and ‘Wild Orchid in
Bloom’...” His speech was cut off by a series of snorts from the Ranger.
“Which do you think would truly personify me, the ‘rugged Ranger’…am I
more fruit or flower?” Estel smirked at Legolas, quite pleased as he
put the Elf at a temporary loss for words.
Legolas, with difficulty, refrained from laughing aloud at the images
in his head the Ranger’s words created. He narrowed his eyes and
smirked back. “Would you really want me to say?” The direction of this conversation moves
well with my surprise…soon, very soon, I will spring it… He
communed briefly with the trees again. All was safe still; the Prince
was ready to implement his Grand Plan.
Moving closer to the Man, Legolas stretched out on his stomach, placing
elbows to the ground with hands up, palms cupping his chin, and his
long legs neatly crossing at the ankles. He fixed a stare at the
Ranger, who was still snorting in laughter at his own mind-images
concerning various flora. “One might suppose you could manage to smell
clean, if not ‘dainty’, at least for the duration of courtship. Your
appearance even at best is still, well, ‘scruffy’ and not even fine
clothing can disguise much of that. Not that you seem to have much
inclination for acquaintance with silks and linens rather than leathers
The Ranger’s retort died off as he noted something distractingly
peculiar about the Elf’s position. Unable to decide just what was
‘wrong’ with it, Estel buried his face in his arms and mumbled
imprecations at his friend, whose Elf ears heard all.
“Your advantage might lie in darkness, Estel, for if your fair maid see
you not, nor hopefully smell you, she might thus be moved to acceptance
of your offerings by sound. You do have a pleasant enough voice, both
in speech and song; though, those could yet benefit from practice.”
The Man raised his head. “Thank you for such finite praise! Are you
offering to let me practice my wooing skills on you? I suppose I should
not find it of high difficulty…only meager imagination is needed to
view you as ‘Princess’ Greenleaf.” Estel grinned madly as the Prince
made a rude face.
Inwardly, the Elf was quite pleased. This
is too easy; he is setting himself up! Ah, well, just a bit more, then
let the main game begin! “Imagine as you will,” he huffed, “but
let me hear some of your effort at winning said fair princess’ hand.”
By this time, lack of sleep and the strange conversation were making
the Man positively giddy. Forcing back an urge to giggle, he leered at
his reclining friend. “Oh, most lovely one, teasing me out here alone
under the stars…it is a great deal more than your hand I wish to be
winning!” His laughter would no longer stay contained, and the Ranger
lowered his head again to smother the sounds.
Legolas narrowed his eyes and tensed slightly. Perfect! Here goes something…!
“That is the manner of your entreaty to your love? Ridiculous Human!
Why, I can almost hear Arwen’s response to such a serenade now…”
being! If you were to have all eternity to try, you shall never possess
even my little finger, much less any greater part of me, as such is
your intent by your own ignoble words!”
ARWEN?! The Ranger’s head shot up and swiveled wildly around, at last
stopping to rest his stare on the bland-faced Elf staring back at him.
“What ails you now, Estel?” The Prince sounded genuinely puzzled. “You
look as though you’d seen some frightful specter.”
“No, I…not seen, but…I heard…I thought…” The Man groaned and tried to
relax again. “Twas not a fright, just…unexpected.” I must need sleep even more than I
realized…I am becoming delusional…mayhap I should have some tea after
all. He attempted to allay his friend’s apparent worry. “I fear
I must make myself immune to your charms, my ‘princess’, for now at
least, but mayhap the future will provide another chance to ‘know’ you
better.” He spoke while resting his head back on his arm, and had just
closed his eyes, when the Voice spoke again.
“Fickle Human! So
now you insinuate you would thrust yourself on whosoever ‘lucky’ lady
should just happen in your vicinity whilst you are ‘in the mood’?”
Estel’s head had shot up again at the first words, and this time he was
able to ascertain the direction from which came the shockingly familiar
voice. His eyes nearly fell out of their sockets and he mouthed like a
fish out of water before words finally sputtered out. “L…Legolas? You…!
Legolas, fighting laughter, sighed deeply and rolled his eyes. “Mayhap
we should forgo this aspect of your wooing as well; you are only
getting more incomprehensible by the moment! Mayhap you should
concentrate strictly on the written word, though I wonder if your
penmanship fares any better than your speech…at least one might have a
chance to proofread a note…”
Estel suddenly realized the Prince’s position mirrored Arwen’s favorite
manner of reclining as she would laze on the grass during a picnic; she
would also place herself similarly on the floor of Elrond’s Hall of
Fire, supplied with an armload of pillows, if some interesting debate
or discussion occasionally ran late into the night. The Man found
Legolas’ level of mimicry both fascinating and disturbing.
“Are you paying attention to me?”
The Ranger started. “Oh, aye, I am paying great attention to you.” He
leveled another intent stare at the Elf, who in turn began to feel
beginnings of an urge to fidget. “Though my mind wanders, as it wonders
what sorcery has apparently allowed you, like the fabled giant serpent,
to swallow whole my beloved, alive I presume, for I have just most
recently heard her voice coming from your lips!”
The Elf gave a laugh, followed by a grimace. “Ugh, Estel, that’s
disgusting! I have only ever touched the Evenstar in a brotherly
manner…I certainly have never attempted to eat her! I am going to tell
her, when next we meet, of what you have accused me and we shall see
which of us two she thinks is ensorcelled.” Pretending to pout, he
turned his face away from the gawking Man.
The Ranger relaxed and stretched back out on his bedroll, watching his
‘possessed’ friend carefully. I
wonder how long he has had that jest in waiting to spring on me…and an
excellent trick it was, though I can never let on to him I think so.
He began considering how he could get back at the Elf, although the Man
supposed it might take Elladan’s and Elrohir’s help to construe a prank
of equal magnitude to the one Legolas had pulled. Or mayhap not… A rather wicked idea
was forming in his head. Two can
play this ‘teasing’ game! The Ranger took a deep breath and
released it slowly to prepare himself, then spoke in a low, husky tone.
“As it seems I am doomed in my endeavors to have the love of my life, I
shall just have to make do…with what I can get.”
What is this, now? The
question Legolas was about to ask Estel became a surprised yelp as a
human arm snaked around the Elf’s waist. The Prince abruptly found
himself snared, as the arm drew him close and a human leg slung over
to pin his own. Oh, my…I may have
overachieved in my goal to distract him. “Ahhh, Estel? What do
you think you are doing?”
The Ranger leaned close to whisper in the Elf’s finely pointed ear.
“Well, my lovely, you have accused me of several things this night, of
which I would defend most as not true; yet you have bewitched me it
seems, and so some accusations well might be founded…”
“W…which would those be?” A fine
thing for my own prank to be turned against me! How did I let this
happen? The Elf turned his head away to rescue his ear from the
Man’s bristly beard stubble.
“I do have some small measure of sorcery skill…at least I have been
told I have ‘magic fingers’. I believe I should like to give a
Legolas' suspicions were tempered by his great trust of Estel;
therefore, the Elf responded with only a minimal effort to escape.
Failing in that, he made a final bid for freedom using what he hoped
enough element of surprise to gain it. “Keep your ‘magic
fingers’ to yourself, beastly Human! Unhand me at once, knave, or I…AAAIIII!”
Estel had had enough, and was steadily applying pressure up and down
the Prince’s side, poking tickles just between various ribs, which was
resulting in the amazing transformation of a strong Elf warrior to a
quivering, squeaking lump. Steadfastly ignoring what curses and pleas
Legolas managed to utter between gasping laughter, the Ranger at last
had pity and released the tortured
Elf. After a second to gain his breath back, Legolas scooted quickly
out of grabbing range and rubbed furiously at the lingering itch in his
while glaring darkly at his friend.
Estel, meanwhile, had suddenly found himself enormously relaxed and his
bedroll quite comfortable. “Thank you, my friend,” he murmured as he
closed his eyes, drifting almost immediately into sleep. A few more
soft words were barely heard as he retreated into dreams. “Wonderful
cure-all…give Ada…bottled Elf giggles…”
Legolas also relaxed at hearing the Man’s deep breaths and occasional
light snore. “You are most welcome, mellon-nin,” he murmured back. My plan worked, if not quite in the manner
intended. He amused himself then by trying to decide if the
Ranger was in fact more the ‘Ripe Strawberry’ type or the ‘Blooming
Orchid’ type. His soft snickering gradually faded, and the remainder of
the night passed blissfully quiet and uneventful.
1. Legolas’ impersonation comes from an idea of how kids tease each other like so: (A)
Quit it. (B) Quit it. (A) I’m
telling! (B) I’m telling! (A)
Stop saying what I say!! (B) Stop
saying what I say!! and etc. Only Legolas could mimic Arwen’s
voice as well as her words, which led to later collaborative pranks
against the Twins (“Arwen’s Secret Evil/Insane Twin” – may write a
story on that later *grin*).
2. The gray-green twine-like plant is Middle-earth’s
equivalent of our time’s Spanish moss.
Estel, meaning Hope, is the Elvish name for Aragorn from
his time living in Rivendell.
Ada = dad
mellon-nin = friend (of) mine]