Remember How to Smile

Chapter 10: Fallout

by Cassia and Siobhan

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Elrohir started violently and jumped to his feet, but froze when he saw the arrow leveled at his heart.  The wood-elf that had the weapon trained on him was watching him with dark, serious eyes that made the younger elf shiver.

“S-Sarcaulien?” he said uncertainly, fearful of what was going on.

Elrohir kept his hands up and turned to see the other elf holding Elladan.  He vaguely recognized Sarcaulien’s older brother Sarcayul.   Elladan was still seated on the log, but Sarcayul had him arched painfully back at an angle over the older elf’s knee, pinned in place by a tight grip in his raven hair and a sharp knife to his throat.

Elladan gasped and grimaced as Sarcayul tugged painfully on his hair, stretching him further back as he glared down into the younger elf’s shocked face.

Elrohir was terrified and about two inches away from diving for his brother, despite the danger to himself.  “Please, don’t hurt him,” he begged, deciding that their current predicament must have something to do with the angry words they had traded with Legolas and his friends earlier.

“We aren’t in the habit of hurting babies,” Sarcaulien said scornfully.  “We just want you to listen and know that we’re serious.  Legolas is a good elf and my prince, and I’m not going to let you or anybody go about spreading vicious stories about him, do you understand?”

Elrohir felt a bubble of panic in his chest.  He didn’t understand.  He didn’t understand at all.  What stories?  Surely Legolas would be in no trouble over the words they had had earlier!  Or perhaps they meant the anti-human sentiment that had gotten them into the fight in the first place?  Somehow, he had gotten the feeling that the King actually shared those feelings to some extent, so he really didn’t see how they could get Legolas in any trouble, but at this moment he wasn’t about to quibble.

“We won’t say anything, I swear,” Elrohir promised nervously.

Elladan was too choked to speak.  He could barely breathe.

Elrohir shifted, shooting his brother a worried look.  “You have our word!  Please let him go.”

Sarcayul smiled darkly.  He jerked Elladan off the log and turned him around so that the younger elf’s back was pressed against the fallen trunk, the knife still at his throat.  “Not until this little half-breed has learned a lesson.”  He struck Elladan full across the face, snapping the Noldo’s head to the side.

Elladan gave a strangled cry of surprise and pain that was brutally checked by the harsh pressure of the blade at his throat.

“No!” Sarcaulien hissed in protest.  He had taken his fears about Legolas’ safety to his older brother and agreed with the plan Sarcayul came up with, but they had already had this discussion.  Sarcayul wanted to play with the half-human elves, but Sarcaulien had been very firm that they should frighten them only since they were guests of the King.  He winced and fidgeted nervously with his bowstring when his older brother slapped the captive Noldo again.

Elrohir’s frightened face clouded with anger when they started hurting his twin.  “Stop it!  Stop hitting him!” he demanded, but it was still half plea.

“Come on, Sarc, stop!” Sarcaulien agreed with their adversaries on this issue.  “We made our point, let’s go!”

Sarcayul scowled, staring into Elladan’s frightened, but blazing eyes.  “Did we?  I’m not sure they understand us.”

“You did, please, I swear you did,” Elrohir was still trying to make peace.  He could see the fury in his brother’s eyes and was afraid Elladan was going to say something stupid and truly get them both killed this time.

Sarcayul did not like the look on Elladan’s face and slapped him again.  The younger elf’s cheeks were beginning to flush red from the abuse.

“Enough!  You bruise and him someone’s going to find out!” Sarcaulien hissed through his teeth.  He was adequately convinced that the twins would not speak anything they knew about Legolas’ past and that was enough; it was all that had concerned him.  He did not want to stick his neck out just so his brother could play at his favorite sport.  The twins may have been half-breeds, but Sarcaulien leaned towards Legolas’ view on this.  If they were even part elven, they were elves.

Sarcayul had to grudgingly admit his brother had a point.  They couldn’t afford for this to become known or they were both headed for the guardhouse and a serious reprimand.  Not even their father could get them out of it if they were found guilty of accosting royal guests.  “All right, but if either of you half-breeds breathe a WORD of this to anyone we’ll finish the job we started.  Is that clear?”

Sarcayul ground his thumb hard into Elladan’s throat, just below the knife until he brought tears to the younger elf’s eyes and Elladan was forced to nod stiffly if he wished to be allowed breath again.

“It’s clear, all right?  We’re not going to cause any trouble,” Elrohir’s hurting gaze was locked onto his brother’s pained face.

“I want your oath,” Sarcayul pressed.  “Both of you.”

“You have it!” Elrohir implored as Elladan began struggling weakly with the older, bigger elf who was cutting off his air supply.  “On our word and honor!”

Finally satisfied, Sarcayul released Elladan with disdain and jumped lightly back to his feet.  With a nod to his brother he simply vanished into the trees.  Sarcaulien removed the arrow from his bowstring and made to follow.  He hesitated for a moment first, glancing at Elladan to be sure he was all right.

“Look, I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.  But you remember what we said, all right?  Not a word about the prince, or us.”  Then Sarcaulien too was gone.

Elrohir stared after them for a suspended moment before he dropped to his brother’s side.  Elladan was pulling himself back up onto the log, holding his aching throat in one hand and his burning cheek in another.

Fuiagwaur,” Elladan spat, licking blood from the inside of his lip.  “I’m fine,” he warded off his twin’s next obvious question.  “Although I’d like to get my hands on that precious prince of theirs.  What kind of elf sends someone else to do their dirty work for them like that?  Couldn’t get his own hands soiled with us half-breeds I suppose,” the peredhel said bitterly.  The truth was, he liked Legolas and had thought they were becoming friends.  This morning had been so much fun, and now this... it left his head spinning.  The betrayal and outright prejudice stung.

Elrohir shook his head.  He couldn’t believe Legolas had done this to them either.  It hadn’t seemed in the prince’s nature, but then, he supposed they really didn’t know him at all, did they?  “I think we may have worn out our welcome here, brother,” he said sadly.

Elladan closed his eyes and let his head fall into his hands.  “That makes everywhere then, doesn’t it?” he said softly.


Legolas and the twins cordially avoided each other at dinner that evening and did not speak more than was required.

Thranduil was not able to be present, but Elvéwen watched the three, silent young elves and knew something was wrong.  Legolas ate very little and excused himself early.  The twins played with their food for a while longer before also asking to be excused.  Elvéwen let them go, but not before calling Elladan to her.  She touched the small bruise forming on his cheekbone.  She said nothing, but her eyes asked the question.  Elrohir thought she reminded him a bit of his own mother, only quieter and more reserved.

Elladan forced a smile.  “Tree branch accident.  El let go too early.  I’m fine.”

Elvéwen wasn’t entirely convinced, but until she had any actual evidence that her son and their guests had been in a fight she would not jump immediately to the worst conclusion.  She didn’t know the twins and their somber moods might not mean anything at all.  And Legolas... Legolas was given to acting moody at times.  She knew it was usually because something had stirred painful memories, but she had learned that letting them settle back down again and be forgotten, rather than trying to address them, was usually the best course.

Elladan and Elrohir left hurriedly once released and Elvéwen found that she wasn’t very hungry anymore either.  Instead she made her way to her son’s chambers.  The door was open so she let herself in.  Legolas was in his sleeping clothes, curled up on his bed with a book.  He quickly laid it aside and sat up when he saw his mother.  He smiled at her – that bright, little boy smile that he had only for her.

Elvéwen smiled back and sat down next to him, running her fingers gently through his silky hair.  Legolas leaned into her touch without embarrassment.  Elvéwen’s smile grew.  She loved her son so very much.  Childhood had completely left the strong lines of his young face.  He was an adult, a leader and capable warrior, yet she could still see her golden-haired dreamer child in his eyes, even if he only pealed back the layers of protective walls for her.

“Did they release Raniean today, Tyndolhen?” she asked, knowing that had been weighing heavily on her son’s mind.

Legolas nodded.  “He has the day off tomorrow and then he’ll be back on duty.”

“I’m glad to hear it.  Legolas... did you have a fight with Elladan and Elrohir?” she got straight to the point.  She knew Legolas would tell her the truth and he knew that whatever he said was safe with her.

Legolas sighed.  “Fight?  No.  Argument?  Yes.  It was nothing really, just something stupid.  I tried to apologize, Nana.  I don’t know why they got so upset.”

Elvéwen smiled softly.  “They received some difficult news from home today, Tyndolhen,” she tried to offer insight.  “I fear that might have affected their mood.”

Legolas nodded slowly.  That made sense.  “Then I am sorry I made them more upset, I honestly did not intend for it to happen.”

“I know, ion-nín,” Elvéwen drew his head to her shoulder.  Legolas was tense for a few minutes, but then slowly started to relax.

“Maybe you should rest tomorrow.  You and Raniean should go for a ride or spend some time at the ranges,” she suggested after a few minutes.

“I was off today, tomorrow I’m on guard duty in the Throne room,” Legolas reminded her.  “I’m supposed to attend Father.”

“He’s already released you,” Elvéwen replied, hoping Legolas wouldn’t ask why.  Of course, Legolas did.

“Why would he do that?” he asked, lifting his head enough to give her a questioning gaze.  Then he seemed to figure it out for himself.  “Oh.  The envoys from Esgaroth are coming tomorrow, aren’t they?” he said quietly.

Elvéwen could feel the tension spreading throughout the lithe body leaning against hers once more.

Elvéwen wanted to pretend that wasn’t the reason, but they both knew better.  “Yes,” she said quietly.

Legolas turned his face against her shoulder in shame.  In a way he was grateful that his father understood his feelings, but he hated the fact that Thranduil knew he didn’t want to be around the visiting humans - knew that he was that weak.  In so many little ways, everyone treated him differently now, even his own parents.  Part of Legolas despaired of things ever being able to go back to what he had once considered normal.

“Then I will spend the day with Ran, if he still wants to be around me,” Legolas said finally.

“Of course he will, Legolas,” Elvéwen assured, glad to turn to some other subject.  That matter settled, they fell into comfortable silence.  Elvéwen didn’t ask what had happened today that the memories had come back to trouble him.  It was enough that she knew they had.  She did not let him know that she knew.  She just offered her love to cover the hurt if Legolas was willing to accept such.

Legolas allowed his mother to hold him and slowly released the nauseous tension in the pit of his stomach.  Maybe everything would be all right.


Elladan and Elrohir rose late the next day and stayed in their rooms for a while.  They really didn’t know what to do or where to go, but eventually sheer boredom and unease drove them out into the rest of the palace.  They passed Legolas’ chambers and nearly ran into a servant carrying an armload of towels.  The servant was attempting to open Legolas’ door with over-full hands, so the twins assisted him.

“Are those for the prince?” they inquired.

The servant nodded busily.  “Yes, he requested some brought up.”

Elladan and Elrohir watched as the older elf quickly opened a door in the far wall that apparently let into a bath chamber.

“Your towels, Highness,” the servant announced, placing the folded cloths into a wicker hamper just inside the door.  Legolas, apparently already in his bath, thanked the elf and the servant took his leave.  Elladan and Elrohir found themselves standing alone in Legolas’ chambers.  They looked at one another and knew they were thinking the same thing.

Creeping silently to the door they had just seen the servant open they cracked it open noiselessly.  The room was filled with steam.  They were afraid that Legolas would be able to see them, but they were in luck.  Legolas was obviously in the room, but nowhere in view.  The back half of the chamber was divided by a curtain that probably concealed the prince’s bath.  Quickly and quietly the twins removed the towels from the hamper beside the entryway and closed the door again.

Legolas was relaxing in a tub of hot water that had been recently filled for him.  He intended to follow his mother’s advice and spend some time with Raniean later, but he was still a little tense, knowing that Men were going to be in the palace today, so he was attempting to relax first.  He heard the servant announce his towels and then he thought he heard the door open again, but when he pulled aside the curtain and looked out there was no one there, so he pulled it back again and decided it must have been nothing.

Elladan and Elrohir hid the towels in the prince’s bedroom.  It was not a terribly interesting or clever joke really, they had to admit that.     It was more of a spur of the moment idea and right now they felt they had a right to give the prince a little grief after how he had treated them.

They slipped quietly out of the room and hurried down the passage.  They were heading for the out-of-doors when Elrohir skidded to a stop.  He backtracked several paces and looked in the open doorway to one of the rooms they had just passed.  It was a large, formal waiting hall.  Inside the foyer, six or seven humans sat, presumably awaiting an audience with the King.  Their manner of dress was unfamiliar to the twins, but they guessed that they were some of the men from Esgaroth at whose expense Legolas and his friends had been having fun the day before.

Elrohir looked at Elladan.  “Are you thinking, what I’m thinking?” he asked with a small, wicked smile.

Elladan smiled back.  “I believe I am.”

The twins entered the room in their most regal manner.

“Good sirs, are you the men from Esgaroth who await the King?” Elladan asked with a carefully practiced air of authority.

One of the humans rose to his feet and bowed in greeting.  “Yes, we are, my name is Brandl, son of Trayma.  We were told to wait here for his Highness, King Thranduil.”

“Yes, well, he has requested we move you to another room,” Elrohir said politely.  “If you would be so kind as to follow us?”

As the twins suspected, the men complied without question, following the two young elves down the passageway through several twists and turns until they reached Legolas’ chambers.

“You may wait in here, but we ask that you observe a strict silence until someone comes for you, if you would be so kind,” Elrohir said sweetly while they were still out in the hall.

If the men thought the instructions odd, they would never have admitted such to their hosts.  They knew the elves could be a little... eccentric sometimes and graciously did as they were bid.

Elladan and Elrohir led the small troupe of men quietly into Legolas’ common room, and seated them just outside the door to his bath chamber.  Begging their leave before the grins tugging at the corners of their mouths could give them away, the twins exited into Legolas’ bedchambers.  They pulled the curtains across the door almost closed so that they could stand behind them unseen and observe all that happened.

Now this was a much more clever joke.  They felt that turn about was fair play after how cruel the prince and his friends had been yesterday.  They couldn’t wait to see the look on Legolas’ face.


Legolas ended his bath when the water began to cool.  He felt better and more ready to face the day.  Dipping his head under the water one more time, he came up and rung as much water as he could out of his hair.  Rubbing water out of his eyes, he climbed out of the tub and reached blindly into the hamper for a towel, but his searching fingers found only air.  He opened his eyes, looked around and discovered that his towels were not in the bin where they should have been.  In fact, they were nowhere to be found.  He knew the servant said he brought them, so someone had to have taken them afterwards.  Probably that sound he had dismissed as nothing.  The wood-elf grimaced ruefully and pushed his wet hair out of his eyes.  It was most likely Elladan and Elrohir’s doing.

Raniean and Trelan might have been suspects had he not known that Trelan was working and Raniean was waiting for him on the archery ranges.  Besides, they had almost outgrown these kinds of pranks.


Legolas hoped this meant that the two Noldor were willing to put aside their unfortunate disagreement of the previous day and be friendly again.

The prince shook his head.  He was not entirely uninventive himself.  He would have to find a suitable way to show the Rivendell twins that he could give as well as he got.  His smile turned wicked.  He would get Raniean and Trelan to help him; he knew from experience that his friends could be very devious when they wanted to be.

Legolas crossed to the door and paused.  He could sense that his chambers were not empty and guessed that the twins were waiting for him to come out.  Probably with something propped over the door or spread on the floor, the prince thought wryly.  He rolled his eyes.  A little juvenile perhaps, but in the interest of putting their differences aside, he would ignore the obviousness of the situation and play along.  His reflexes were good and if they did intend to spring something on him he felt confident he could deflect it and it would be worth it to see their faces if that happened.

Turning the knob and stepping out quickly, the amused look on Legolas’ face instantly faded as he found himself staring at the now very shocked and embarrassed room full of humans.

Elladan and Elrohir, hidden behind the drapes in the doorway, had expected the prince to blush and quickly duck back into his bathing chambers, but that was not what happened.  Instead, Legolas’ face turned white as a sheet and for half a moment it looked as if he might pass out.  Sheer terror flared in the prince’s wide blue eyes.

Legolas felt his heart thrum in his ears like the taunting laugh of a dozen harsh voices.  It pounded wildly in his chest as he felt the humans’ eyes on him.  What were they doing in his rooms?!  His mind screamed the question, but he was too panicked to find a reasonable answer.  All he could think was that they had come for him, that they wanted to take him back to the way life had been in that painful eternity he tried ever to block from his mind.  For a few heartbeats he couldn’t move, fear and shock pushing him into an almost catatonic state.  With none of his usual grace, Legolas tore himself free of his paralyzed stupor and scrambled backward.  The tiles under his feet were slick with the trail of water he was leaving.  He slipped and skidded.  He bumped hard into the dresser next to the door, sending the mirror sitting atop it crashing to the ground.  The looking-glass shattered, spreading a broken spray of silver glass slivers across the intricate tiles.  Legolas did not register the sound, or the sting, although several of the flying glass shards cut him.

Brandl did not understand what was going on, but was deeply mortified that either they or this young elf seemed to be in completely the wrong place at the wrong time.  The last thing he wished to do was cause an incident, but when the mirror shattered he moved forward in concern.

“Are you all right?” he asked with a worried frown.

The young elf seemed terribly unbalanced so Brandl put his hand on the youth’s arm to steady him.  It was the wrong thing to do, although it had been done with the best of intentions.

Legolas went wild.  He yanked his arm free and shoved Brandl away from him.  The young elf was surprisingly strong and the human was knocked sprawling halfway across the room.  Backpedaling hard on the slippery floor, the prince slammed into the partially open door, causing it to bang closed.  The knob dug painfully into his low back as he impacted.  Wrenching the door open again behind him in a clumsy attempt to not turn his back on the humans who had violated the safety of his chambers, the prince fled through the portal and slammed it shut behind him.

Legolas’ whole body was trembling as he hastily threw the bolt on the inside of the door and shoved the heavy marble pedestal of his hand-washing basin up against the portal for added protection.  His breath was coming in such fast, ragged gulps he was hyperventilating.  Bright yellow splotches danced before his eyes.   

What were they doing here?  Why had they come after him?!  How had they gotten to him in the only place he felt safe?!  Legolas couldn’t think rationally; he was in too much shock to do that.  He wanted to run away, but he was trapped in the bath chamber.  Scrambling to the back of the room, Legolas sank down between the tub and the far wall, curling into a tight ball and rocking back and forth.  He flinched at the feel of the cold marble under him.  It felt like a cell floor.  He could still feel Brandl’s hand on his arm and he rubbed the spot vigorously with his other hand, as if he could make it go away, as if he could make it all go away...

He balled his hands on either side of his head, trying to stop the pain, trying not to remember that which he could never forget.  A quiet sob shook his shoulders.


Elladan and Elrohir were horrified at Legolas’ reaction.  The raw fear in his eyes before he fled both haunted and shocked them.  Legolas seemed so strong and unshakable; they would never have thought that something which to them seemed only mildly embarrassing could have ever affected him so badly.  They might have expected anger, outrage even, since they knew how disdainful the prince was of Men, but they had never anticipated terror.

Elladan looked at his brother and saw that there were tears in Elrohir’s eyes.  Elrohir swallowed hard, his tender heart smote deeply by the pain they had apparently caused.

“We should never have done this, El,” the younger twin whispered hoarsely.

Elladan had to agree.  Somehow, the situation had gone terribly wrong and now he had no idea how to fix it.  They had made a horrendous mess of things – again.  He wished he were dead or at least very far way from here.

“Your Highness?  Prince Legolas, is everything all right?” a voice called from the outer door as Brandl pulled himself back to his feet.  The humans all looked at one another uncertainly.  What had just happened?

Elrynd was passing by Legolas’ chambers when he heard a loud crash of something breaking from within.  When he got no response to his worried inquiry, the servant let himself in to be sure that Legolas was all right.  What he found both surprised and dismayed the older elf.  It appeared he had found the missing envoys from Esgaroth, but what in the name of Manwë were they doing here?!

“Gentlemen, are you aware that you are in his Royal Highness Prince Legolas’ private chambers?” Elrynd inquired with a polite, but steely tone, fully prepared to call the guards if this was not an honest mistake.

Every face in the room paled.  The Prince?  “Good sir, I fear there has been a terrible mistake,” Brandl tried desperately to salvage this unfortunate situation.  “We were told to wait here, we had no idea...”

“Told?  By whom?” Elrynd was still wary.  Visitors were not allowed nor admitted to any of the private royal chambers, everyone knew that.

“Two elves,” Brandl explained.  “They had dark hair and I believe they were twins; they must be around here somewhere.”  The man was a little desperate, beginning to think that he and his men may be in very deep trouble.  “I swear to you we meant no disrespect or intrusion.”

“Twins, you say?” Elrynd relaxed a little, beginning to understand what had probably happened.

Elladan and Elrohir, still hidden in the curtained doorway, wondered if it were physically possible to sink through the floor.

“I fear, gentlemen that you have been mislead.  No, worry not.  I do not fault you, nor, I think, will their Highnesses when the truth be known,” Elrynd assured the uneasy envoys.  He stepped out in the hall for a moment and could be heard calling to someone.  Another elf joined him quickly.

“Maybren, please show these gentlemen to the audience chambers, the King is awaiting them,” Elrynd requested of his subordinate.  “If you will follow Maybren you may continue with your business here.  I am sure I speak for everyone when I apologize for this... misunderstanding.” The servant graciously but firmly escorted the men out of the prince’s chambers as he spoke.

“Nay, the apology is all ours.  Please tell the prince that we are very sorry to have disturbed him and he has my sincere apology for any distress our presence caused,” Brandl replied earnestly as they followed Maybren towards the correct location for their meeting with Thranduil.

“I shall indeed,” Elrynd assured, although he doubted it would do much good.  With a sigh he went back into Legolas’ chambers and shut the outer door behind him.  He had hoped Legolas had not been here since he was nowhere to be seen, but from what Brandl said they must have had some kind of run-in with the prince.

He did not seem at all surprised to see a very guilty looking Elladan and Elrohir standing in the center of the room, even though they had not appeared to be there moments before.  He spared them only a passing glare.

“Where is Legolas?” he asked quietly.

Elrohir pointed at the bathroom door.  “Elrynd, we’re sorry, we didn’t mean...”

Elrynd silenced the younger elf with a gesture.  “I’m not the one you need to talk to.  I believe you have done enough here.”

The twins flinched, but Elrynd was not paying attention to them anymore.   He crossed the room.  Carefully stepping over the shattered glass on the floor, he knocked lightly on the door to the bath chamber.  He tried the handle, but found it locked.

“Prince Legolas, your Highness?  Are you all right, can you hear me?  ‘Tis Elrynd, Legolas.  Please open the door.”

There was no response from inside, so Elrynd made a decision.  Pulling a large ring of keys from his pocket he fitted one into the lock in the door and turned it, sliding back the bolts.  As Thranduil’s personal servant and seneschal, he had a master key to almost every lock in the palace.

Elrynd tried to open the door, but found that it gave no more than a few inches.  This turned out to be due to the marble pedestal that had been placed against it and he gently eased it back a little, until he could squeeze through the narrow opening.

“Your Highness?” he called, looking around the room.  A soft sound from the back of the room drew him thither.

What Elrynd found broke his heart.  Legolas was curled up on the floor, still dripping wet with a small puddle of water forming around him.  The prince was leaning forward with his arms on the side of the bathing tub before him.  His head was buried against his arms and his shoulders shook.  He was weeping.

Hurrying back into the outer chamber, Elrynd grabbed the comforter off of the prince’s bed and made his way back to his distressed liege.  He ignored Elladan and Elrohir who were still standing uncertainly in the center of the room.

Elrynd wrapped the down-filled quilt around Legolas’ shoulders.  Legolas started and looked up as if just noticing the servant’s presence.  He appeared relieved to see a friendly face and hugged the covering tightly around himself.

“A-are they gone?” he asked shakily, quickly trying to dry his face and pretend that all the water there was coming from his wet hair.

Elrynd crouched down next to the young prince’s side, keeping a comforting hand on his shoulder.  “Yes, they are gone, my Lord.  They asked me to apologize... they meant no harm, Legolas, they were just in the wrong place.”

Legolas did not look like he believed that for a moment, but he did not contradict the older elf.  “Could you ask Amil-Garil to put a guard outside my door, please?” the prince asked softly, hating how weak and frightened that made him sound.

“Of course. It is prudent after such a mix-up as this,” Elrynd tried to sooth the young elf’s shame at his own fears.

Gently, Elrynd guided Legolas to his feet and into the other room.  Elladan and Elrohir were still standing there.  When Legolas saw them a look of vague understanding came over his face as he began to comprehend what had happened.  The twins fully expected the prince to be angry, to yell at them to get out of his rooms.  Once again, they were surprised.  Legolas merely looked at them, his pale face flushing a painful shade before he turned away and hurried past them into his bedroom.  He didn’t understand how they could have hurt him this way.  He didn’t understand how anyone could have hated him enough to know what they knew and intentionally put him in that kind of situation.

The raw hurt in Legolas’ eyes made the twins feel ill.  This was not something they had ever wanted or intended to cause.  “Legolas... we’re sorry... please, we didn’t mean...”

“Leave,” it was Elrynd who answered them, standing protectively in the doorway to Legolas’ bedroom.  His voice was quiet but cold as he tried to contain the small flame of anger kindled in his breast.  He knew their young guests had meant no harm, but they had no idea what they had done.  Right now however, his only concern was for his young lord.  Elvéwen should be sent for; she was one of the few people who could get through to Legolas when he was in this kind of state.

Elladan and Elrohir needed no prompting.  They fled the room, hurrying back to their own guest chambers.  Closing the door behind them they sat on the bed and looked at one another.  What had they done?  Apparently something far worse than they understood.  There was no call for Legolas to react that way; it had only been a joke...

“That’s it, we are dead,” Elrohir said quietly, twisting the end of his tunic in his fingers.  He wasn’t joking.  His grey eyes were frightened as well as remorseful.

Elladan flopped belly down on the bed, burying his face in the quilt.  “How do we manage to get into these situations?!” he moaned quietly, agreeing with his brother’s assessment.

“Do you really want an answer to that?” Elrohir asked dryly.  He stood to his feet, still favoring his injured leg a bit.  “We’ve got to get out of here,” he said quietly, his eyes going to the window.  “El... those elves weren’t joking, they’ll come back for us, if the King and Queen don’t kill us first.”

Elrohir opened the shutters and leaned out the sill, sizing up how hard it would be to make it to the ground from here.

“No,” Elladan’s quiet voice made his brother turn away.  Elladan was now sitting cross-legged on the bed with a pillow clutched to his chest.  “We can’t run, El.  We’ve made a big enough mess already by doing that kind of thing.  Besides... where would we go?” he asked softly.  “We’ve got to stay and stick it out this time.”

Elrohir sagged dejectedly into a chair.  He knew his brother was right, but this wasn’t going to be good.


Legolas refused to leave his rooms.  For a long time he refused to see anyone but Elvéwen, until Raniean resorted to standing outside the door and pleading until he was admitted.  Elvéwen let Raniean in, hoping he could do some good by her hurting, troubled son.

Raniean found Legolas lying on his bed, staring blankly out the window.  The emotions that had gripped him earlier were gone, leaving only empty, numb depression and shame in their wake.  The prince was fully dressed, but his hair was still damp and tangled as if he had never dried or combed it after his bath.

“Legolas?” Raniean said softly, sitting on the edge of the bed and watching Legolas’ quiet back.

“Go away, Ran,” the prince murmured.  “I want to be alone.”

“Well that’s nice,” Raniean said with gentle mock indignation.  “You make a pest of yourself to the guards every day and then when you finally can see me, you don’t want to.  I could be offended,” he said in a voice that suggested there was no real danger of such a thing.

Legolas rolled over quickly.  His eyes were red-rimmed and the sight made Raniean’s throat constrict.  He hadn’t seen Legolas this bad in a long time.

“I-I didn’t mean it that way, Ran...,” he shook his head earnestly.

Raniean held up his hands, gesturing for peace.  “I know you didn’t,” he assured.

“I just don’t want to talk right now,” Legolas admitted, his gaze wandering up to the ceiling.

“Then we won’t,” Raniean transferred to a chair beside the prince’s bed.  Leaning back he stared up at the ceiling as well.  “But that doesn’t mean you have to be alone.”


As soon as his business with the delegation from Esgaroth was completed, Thranduil sent for his two young guests.

Elladan and Elrohir had rarely felt so apprehensive as when they had to make the long trek from their rooms to the throne room.  The fury concealed behind the Elvenking’s cold blue eyes did nothing to reassure them.

Thranduil was not sitting, he was too disturbed to sit.  Instead he paced in front of his throne, hands clasped tightly behind his back.

“Do you want to explain to me what happened today?” Thranduil demanded quietly.  Too quietly.

Elladan and Elrohir felt suddenly dry-mouthed and speechless.

“I... we... we’re sorry, your Highness; we didn’t mean to hurt Legolas,” Elladan said finally, when it was obvious that not speaking was only going to irritate Thranduil further.

Thranduil held his hand up, silencing them abruptly.  “I did not ask you what you intended; I asked you what happened.”

The tale came out very haltingly, but Thranduil already knew the end result.  His glare bored smoldering holes in the twins as they weakly finished their explanation and hung their heads.

Thranduil was livid.  “If any of my subjects had done to you what you have done to my son, they would be flogged for it,” he said his voice taut.

Elladan and Elrohir’s faces paled, but they said nothing.

“You have no idea what you have done, do you?” Thranduil continued.  “Does your father allow this kind of behavior in your realm?”  He was barely holding his anger in check as he questioned the young elves.

The twins glanced at each other unsure if they should venture an answer or not.

“Answer me!” Thranduil’s voice boomed through the throne room.

“No, we don’t understand,” Elrohir spoke up quickly answering the first question.

“And yes, we do these sorts of the things at home...,” Elladan stammered, picking up where his brother left off.

“...all the time, my Lord,” Elrohir finished for his brother.  Nervously he reached for his twins’ hand as much for support as out of fear.  They would get scolded for their pranks of course, but usually if no one got hurt then no one was seriously angry with them.

The back and forth answering that the two identical elves gave him confused Thranduil and he found himself glancing from one to the other as they stammered out an apology and tried to explain.  He was unused to the way twins would automatically speak for and with each other in this manner.

Finally having had enough and unable to keep up, he stopped them.

“Enough! One of you speak at a time,” Thranduil growled darkly.

Elrohir was visibly shaking at this point and Elladan stepped closer to his brother.

“We are very sorry.  We never meant to hurt Legolas.  In our house we do play pranks on one another, frequently sometimes.  Even Glorfindel gets good ones over on us from time to time,” Elladan explained quietly.  “He’s very good at it.”

Thranduil was surprised to hear about such a well-spoken of elf encouraging this type of behavior but he said nothing as the youngster before him continued speaking.

Elladan squared his shoulders.  They truly hadn’t meant any real harm, but they had apparently crossed some invisible line they did not understand.  It was possibly the final nail in the coffin they had put together rather nicely for themselves these past few weeks, he though glumly.  If Thranduil threw them out... what would they do then?

“El and I take full responsibility for our actions.  If by your laws, we must be punished, then we accept that consequence.  Just... don’t send us away.  We’ll accept any punishment you give, but please let us stay.  I... we... we have nowhere to go; even our Ada doesn’t want us back.”  Elladan was trying to carry himself like the young lord he was, but the boy inside him was hard pressed to deny the tears starting to sting his eyes as he pleaded for leniency on this one point.  He had begun to believe that they had indeed been abandoned by their family because of their behavior and now they had effectively burned their bridges here as well.

The words took Thranduil by surprise and he found his anger waning slightly in the face of the distraught elflings before him.

Leaning forward he lowered his voice a notch and questioned the one twin that was still speaking for them both.  “Why would you say such a thing?”

“My Lord?” Elladan questioned.  He was unsure what exactly Thranduil was asking.

“Why do you think your Adar does not want you anymore?”

“He sent us away to our relatives and now he has not asked to have us returned or sent word that he is coming for us.  He was angry when we left.  Why would he want us back now?”  Elladan whispered.

Elrohir began to cry softly.  He didn’t want to show his feelings like this in front of the King, but he seemed to have no control over the matter.  Desperately he wiped his eyes with clenched fists, turning his head away slightly as if in hopes that no one would notice.

“I think, young ones, that perhaps the answer is not what you fear at all.  Your father may simply not be available to answer the message I sent.  Although after the stunt you pulled today it wouldn’t surprise me if he did leave you here awhile.  That however, is only my opinion at the moment; do not be so certain that he no longer wants you.  You young ones often think that of us.  And it is not true.” Thranduil stared hard at the two elves in front of him.  His voice had softened slightly, his initial red-hot rage beginning to abate.  He saw in the depths of the twins’ eyes the same fear he had seen so many times in his own son.  He felt compassion on their situation and their fears, but he was still very displeased and intended to see the twins punished, although nothing quite as drastic as they were fearing, he was sure.  He would not suffer his son to such shame after Legolas had come so far to heal.

“He will come for you, worry not,” Thranduil assured once more.  “Because I owe your father a debt of gratitude I could never begin to repay, I will not subject you to the punishment you deserve.  However you will remain confined to your room for the rest of the fortnight.  I do not wish to see either of you at all for the next four days.  When your confinement is over you will help in the Kitchens as you seem to have more energy than you know what to do with.  I will decide later when I am not so angry, just how long that will last.  Am I understood?”

Both of the dark heads nodded mutely.

“Randomir, escort Elrond’s children to their room and see to it that they remain there,” Thranduil ordered.  The head of his guard had just entered and only heard the last of the King’s conversation with the twins.

Randomir stepped forward and escorted the twins out, taking the children a little more roughly by the shoulders than he had intended.  He had not yet heard the full tale of what had happened, but Elrynd had filled him in on the details that mattered – Legolas had retreated again.  And it was the fault of these two elflings.

Elrohir had barely stopped crying and shied away from the tall elf when the guard grabbed his tunic and shoved him out of the throne room.

Seeing the fear in the young ones eyes, Randomir relented slightly.  Releasing them, he pushed the twins more gently in front of him, allowing them to walk side by side.

Elladan glanced warily over his shoulder at the elf who was guiding them.  He recognized this one from before when they had been rescued.  The elf did not smile or speak to them but he had seemed kind enough at the time so Elladan relaxed slightly.

“Do you really think Ada will come for us?” Elrohir asked softly.

“I do not know.  I hope so but ... I just don’t know El.  After this?” Elladan whispered his response.

Randomir had heard this conversation before.  Not from these two but from other young elves in his charge and he had overheard Thranduil’s answer to them as well.

“He will come,” Randomir answered, startling even himself.  He forced a smile when Elrohir flinched.

As they walked by Legolas’ room the door opened and Elvéwen stepped out into the hallway.  Elrohir hazarded a quick glance into the chambers and saw Legolas sitting on his bed with the elf they had come to know as Raniean.

Quickly making up his mind, Elrohir stopped in front of the Queen.  He was a peace-maker by nature and did not like having this shroud of enmity hanging around them.  It had always been something unique about the youngest of the twins.  He liked to seek out those he had hurt or offended and ask forgiveness, unwilling to live with himself if he could not make amends.  It hurt his heart too much.  And so it was that without a second thought he found himself before the Queen of Mirkwood begging her to be let in to talk to Legolas.

Stepping away from Randomir, Elrohir blocked the Queen’s path.

“Please your highness; may I go speak with Legolas?  I need to.  I cannot stay in my room for four days seeing no one and unable to apologize.  Please,” he asked forlornly.  “We meant no harm.  We did not know it would affect him so.”

“Elrohir!” Elladan hissed pulling his twin back against him. “We have already done enough. Let it go.”

“I can not let it go,” Elrohir answered just as softly.

“I am not sure that is such a good idea right now,” Elvéwen replied at the exact same time that Raniean, who had heard them from inside the room, barked out a stern ‘no’.  The Queen looked down into the tear-stained, upturned face.  Her son had been hurt, again, and this time it had been by the hands of these two small guests.  She wanted to shield Legolas from further pain. She wanted her son back, the one that smiled and laughed, whose heart was trusting and carefree.  But it seemed that that elfling was long gone.  Gazing down at the two dark-haired elves, she warred with herself as she thought over the request.  Deep in her heart she knew that somewhere across the mountains another mother worried over her children, the two that were now in Elvéwen’s care.

“I must tell him I’m sorry. Ada says it is good for the heart, both the one that has been offended and the one that has done the offending.” Elrohir’s gaze never the left the eyes of the Queen.  “Ada is always right,” he whispered.  “I promise not to hurt him anymore.”

With a small sigh Elvéwen glanced at Randomir.  The guard stoically returned her gaze.  He wanted nothing more than to shield Legolas from further pain as well and was not predisposed to let these two anywhere near his prince.  Randomir discreetly shook his head no.

Making up her own mind about the matter, Elvéwen crouched down in front of the younger elves that huddled next to one another.  “Your father is a wise man.  I know you did not mean to hurt my son and would expect you to never do so again.”

Elladan nodded soberly.  Everyone kept asking if they knew what they had done, but no one told them what exactly had made it so wrong.  Yet he was beginning to understand that Legolas must have been hurt pretty badly in Dorolyn.  That was the only thing that could account for the raw terror they had seen on his face earlier.  “We would not have acted as we did if we knew it would cause so much grief.”

“We have human blood in us...” Elrohir whispered as though the admission was a secret.

“...and we have always had good relations with the towns around our home.  We didn’t know... didn’t think it would be so different here,” Elladan finished their combined thought.

“We did the same thing once to Glorfindel,” Elrohir admitted.

“After he got over being angry at first, he thought it was funny,” Elladan confessed.

Elvéwen suppressed a small smile.  She found their ability to finish one another’s sentences endearing.

“You must remember that when you visit someone you are not free to act as you would at home,” the Queen instructed them gently, “You never know what has gone on before you came to stay, nor the way that house is run.  I would dare to say that the way things are run here in the palace are not at all like your home over the mountains.  And it is not polite to pull pranks on people whom you have only recently been introduced to.”

“I know,” Elrohir said softly, “Naneth says that too.  We just... we were upset because Legolas and his friends were making fun of humans.”

“And well, we took it personally,” Elladan offered.  “We shouldn’t have.”

“They were, were they?” Elvéwen questioned.  She turned her gaze on Randomir.

“But...but we don’t want them to get in trouble, please,” Elladan quickly interjected, seeing the glance that passed between the adults.  He hoped they had not already said too much, he did not want to anger Sarcayul and Sarcaulien.  He gently reached out and touched the queen’s arm.  “Please, we won’t trouble you any more, just let us apologize.”

Elvéwen stood to her feet and regarded the two elves solemnly for a moment.

“I think it would do Legolas good.  And you do owe him an apology,” she agreed.  She hoped she was doing the right thing as she slowly opened the door, making sure her son was fit for visitors and preceded the two elflings back into the prince’s room.

“Legolas, you have someone who wants to speak with you,” Elvéwen warned him softly.

Elrohir moved out from behind the queen’s profile allowing the prince to see him.

Legolas turned away from the Noldo elf and glanced out the window, shaking his head slowly.  Raniean stood to his feet defiantly but was warned quickly off by his father who had followed the queen.

Grabbing Elladan by the sleeve, Elrohir tugged his twin forward.

“Legolas?” the Noldo twin ventured quietly, “I needed to apologize, please, if you’ll let me.”

With a sigh the blond-haired elf turned back towards his guests.  Part of him wanted nothing to do with them and part of him knew that it was his responsibility as royalty to be more gracious.

The prince looked like he had been crying as much as Elrohir had.  It startled Legolas to see that there were still tears in the younger elf’s eyes.

Elrohir didn’t speak when the Silvan prince looked his way; instead he did something more surprising.  He took off his outer tunic, passed it to his brother, and turned around slowly so Legolas could see his exposed skin.  His back, shoulders and stomach were crisscrossed with thin whip lines that were just now starting to disappear.  Holding his palms up towards the prince, it was easy to see new pink skin on his wrists were ugly, vicious rope burns had once been.  His heritage caused him to heal more slowly than his full blooded kinsmen.  In time the scars would fade completely.  But it would be a while yet before the healed marks would completely absorb back into his body without a trace.

“Not too long ago, Elladan and I were caught by orcs and beaten.  They... they were very cruel to us,” Elrohir whispered.  “It’s partly why Ada sent us away.  The orcs are back near our home again.  It has been several seasons at least since then, but we... we do not like to show the scars because they heal so much slower on us than they do on our other kindred.  But...but I show them to you now because the way you looked earlier was the way I feel when we run across orc trails near our home.”  Elrohir swallowed hard, his voice dropping softly.  Elladan’s warm hand on his shoulder helped steady him and he backed up against his brother.  “I don’t know what happened to you, but I recognized the look on your face.  And I know how I’d have felt if someone put me in that situation with orcs.  I’m really sorry.  You probably won’t believe me, but we honestly never meant to truly cause you harm.”

The look of horror that passed across Legolas’ features betrayed his silence.  The light pink stripes on the younger elf were similar to the ones he had borne not so long ago.  He understood now why the twins wore those light under-tunics when they were swimming together.  It may not be a Rivendell custom after all.  It was probably just a choice of the twins, who hadn’t wanted to show their scars anymore than he wanted to bare his.

“You don’t... but... You mean you don’t know what happened in Dorolyn?” Legolas asked softly.

“No,” Elladan answered for the both of them. “Well, not exactly.  Ada only said that you had been captured.  He helped you get out and brought you home, here.  He said he helped heal you from some injuries you had taken, but I guess I didn’t stop to think how you might have gotten those injuries.  I assumed maybe you were hurt in the fight.  I guess now that you were probably intentionally hurt and beaten, like El and I were by the orcs.  I... I’m sorry.  What I said to you before... I should not have said.  I should not have spoken carelessly about events I was not privy to understand.”

“I thought you knew, I...”  Legolas faltered.  He glanced at Ran who breathed a sigh of relief and smiled back at him.  The prince could live with the twins thinking the worst thing that happened to him in Dorolyn was being beaten and ill-treated.

“Please forgive us,” Elrohir entreated once more, “I can’t stay confined in my room for four days knowing you hate us.”

“I don’t hate you,” Legolas answered softly, “I did misunderstand you though and I do forgive you.”

“Then you won’t tell... any of your other friends, will you?”  Elrohir blurted out before Elladan could stop him.  His twin’s hand covered his mouth a second after the words had left.  Elladan jabbed his brother sharply in the ribs.  Oh that had been a brilliant move!

“Don’t get them suspicious.  He’ll kill us,” Elladan whispered harshly to his brother.  He kept his voice low enough so that Legolas and the others before them could not hear, but had forgotten that the captain of the guard stood directly behind them.

Randomir, who had been waiting quietly, stepped forward and questioned the twins.

“Who said they would kill you?” His voice was stern and the twins flinched as they spun around.

“Uh... no one,” Elrohir attempted, but it fell very flat.  No one believed that.

“I’m sure it was all a misunderstanding too.  He said we couldn’t tell.  We gave our word, and we won’t,” Elladan began to explain.  He was interrupted by Raniean.

“It was Sarcayul and his brother, wasn’t it?”  Raniean walked around the bed and stood beside his father.  “Trelan said there was an argument and Sarcaulien was involved.  It was about humans and some harsh words were exchanged.”  Raniean was not clear on the specifics, knowing only what he had heard from his friend, but he knew enough of Sarcayul and Sarcaulien to know that they could be dangerous people to cross when their tempers were aggravated.

“Is this true, was it them?” Randomir asked.

“What did they say to you?” Legolas asked, almost at the same time.  He glanced from his mother to the twins.

Elvéwen sat on the edge of the bed and encouraged the Noldo elves, “No one will hurt you in this house and no one has the right to threaten the guests of the King either.”

The twins looked a bit confused.  They still thought the other elves had acted on Legolas’ behest, but the honestly confused look in the prince’s eyes suddenly made them think otherwise.

“Please, I’d really rather not say who it was or wasn’t.  We gave our oath and we don’t want any more trouble,” Elrohir said quietly.  “We have caused enough already.  We just don’t want to get killed for what we’ve done either.”

Legolas laughed softly, a sound that caused the other elves in the room to smile and brighten.  It usually took the prince a bit to recover from something as traumatic as what he had endured earlier.

“Well if it was Sar and Sarc, they won’t really kill you, I promise,” Legolas reassured.  He of course, had no way of knowing that the threats had been much more violent than just words.  “Was it them?”

Elladan and Elrohir shook their heads mutely, indicating that they were unwilling to speak.

“I’d like to tell you,” Elladan said softly.  “Believe me, I would, but Ada taught us to take oaths we swore on our honor seriously, no matter how they came to be given.”

No one there could argue with that, despite how they might have felt.

Legolas sighed and let the matter drop.  “It probably was them, but please don’t mention it to them, Randomir.  If Elladan and Elrohir don’t want to confirm it for sure, then it will only stir up more bad blood with them, and between you and Traycaul.  I am sure they thought they were protecting me,” Legolas said finally.  “I’ll talk to them about it, I promise.”  Legolas realized that Sarcaulien had probably taken to heart the prince’s fear that the twins would say something and resorted to fool-hardy measures.  He didn’t want Sarcaulien to get in trouble for it, but he didn’t want them threatening the twins anymore either.  He could see they were sorry, and now that he knew they did not know his secrets he felt a great deal better.  He desperately hoped this whole, painful situation would just be allowed to fade away.  He was still badly shaken by his experience earlier, but he hated the way everyone was crowding around and worrying over him.  He had to move on and push the demons back again, and swiftly before he lost ground in the eyes of those he loved.  The demons of the past wouldn’t go away.  They never went away, but he could pretend they did not exist and life would eventually return to normal once more.

Fixing a firm smile on his face that he knew he would eventually be genuine if he kept it in place long enough, Legolas hoped everyone else was ready to move on as well.

“Thank you,” Elladan breathed softly, “We never meant to cause so much trouble.”

“We do this all the time at home,” Elrohir confessed.  “In fact last month when Glorfindel returned, we...”  The twin’s story was interrupted when Elladan leapt at his brother and covered his mouth once more pulling his twin with him from the room.

“I’m sure you don’t want to hear that story.  We’ll just go to our room now and we’ll be good we promise.” He tried to reassure with a smile.  Releasing Elrohir he smacked his brother on the back of his head and passed his twin back his shirt.

“Would that be Glorfindel the Balrog Slayer that I have heard tales of?” Legolas questioned.

Raniean looked horrified that the twins would pull pranks on such a highly renowned elf.

“Yes, the very one!” Elrohir answered.  “He tells the best stories!”

“Well stay and tell me some,” Legolas entreated.  “Please.”

But his request was met with downcast glances.

“We have to stay in our rooms for the next four days and we aren’t to be seen,” Elladan answered softly, “I’m sorry, maybe later.”

“Well just because you are confined to your room doesn’t mean I’m confined to mine,” Legolas offered with a small smile.  “If I come with you, will you finish that story?”

“Can he come?” Elrohir asked, glancing up at the tall guard that stood behind them.  Randomir was trying to steer the two to their own rooms.  He had been gone long enough; the King would begin to wonder what had taken so long.

“I don’t see why not,” Elvéwen answered for the Saleon.  “Go on, you were already given the day off.  Go enjoy yourself, my love.” She kissed Legolas on the top of the head and pulled the covers out of his way as he swung his legs off the side of the bed.

“Father?” Raniean questioned the older elf.

“Yes, you may go as well,” Randomir consented.  Actually he wouldn’t have had it any other way.  He wasn’t quite at ease yet with Legolas being alone with the twins.  Legolas had recovered a bit too quickly for his liking.  He knew the prince was acting again, putting on the smile he thought everyone wanted to see.  The truth was, they did want to see it... and even if it was an act, it was better for Legolas to smile than to mourn.  So he said nothing, just giving Legolas’ shoulder a squeeze before they parted.

“You know, you’re not so bad either,” Elladan commented over his shoulder as Ran walked into the guest room.  “Sorry we misjudged you.”  His voice could be heard through the door as it swung shut.

“I’ll have a guard brought up.  To make sure the room is secure and to keep those two in for the next few days,” Randomir answered his queen’s unspoken request.  “I pity Elrond and Celebrìan.”

“They do have their hands full,” Elvéwen agreed with a small laugh. “But they seem to be good for Legolas.  He recovered much quicker than I thought he would.”

Their conversation was cut short as a commotion drew attention down the hall.  Thranduil mounted the stairs and stalked towards his wife and captain.

Peals of laughter rang out from behind the closed door of the twins’ room causing the King to quirk an eyebrow and glance at his wife.

“I thought I banished them to their room.  Do I hear other voices in there?” Thranduil questioned darkly.

Taking her husband by the arm, Elvéwen gently turned the King around and proceeded to lead him away from the door.

“You do indeed, my dear,” she affirmed his suspensions. “And you will not disturb them as Legolas is in there and apparently enjoying himself.  I will not suffer you to interrupt.  They are not so unalike you know - our son and Elrond’s children.  Besides the youngest was so endearing I think he won our son over.”

“The youngest?”  Thranduil glanced at his wife in confusion.  He was still trying to grasp the whole concept of identical elves.  “I thought they were twins!”

Elvéwen laughter followed them down the stairs as she explained what had transpired to her husband.  Things were settling down once more in the palace and she was glad for that.


Legolas floated on his back in the water, looking up at the tree-filled sky.  The sun shining through the leaves above turned them golden-green.  The water lapped gently at his ears as his hair spread around him like pale seaweed, undulating softly on the waves and ripples generated by his companions.  He sensed a presence near and righted himself before Raniean could get close enough to think about dunking him.  They were back at the lake again today, and after some urging Legolas had consented to join them today.  After all, they were all friends here.

Raniean nudged Legolas and jerked his head towards the shallower water where Elladan and Elrohir were amusing themselves.  The twins stopped every few minutes to slap the surface of the water and trill, obviously still trying to keep away the alleged snakes.

“WHAT is all that about?” Raniean asked, perplexed by their behavior.

Legolas couldn’t help laughing as he answered, “Oh Ran, that’s quite a story...”

Raniean rolled his eyes.  “Wait, do not tell me... three-ringed water snakes, right?”

Legolas nodded, treading water languidly.  “That’s the one.”

Before their conversation could go much further, a loud cry from the shallows yanked their attention back to where the twins had been playing.

At a distance, Legolas honestly couldn’t tell which one was Elladan and which was Elrohir, but one of the dark-haired elves was thrashing around and the other was calling out urgently for help.

Legolas, Raniean and Trelan knifed swiftly through the water, reaching the panicking younger elves a few moments after the alarm went up.

Elrohir was holding Elladan, trying to pull him towards shore.  Elladan’s eyes were closed.

“Help him!” Elrohir was pleading urgently, almost incoherently.  “Something bit him, I think it was one of those snakes!”

Legolas immediately looked around them in alarm.  There were no such thing as the snakes they feared, but that didn’t mean there might not be something else nasty in the water.  Unfortunately the shallows had already been churned up into a muddy brown color from the twins’ frantic movements and even the sharp eyes of the Mirkwood elves could see nothing below the surface.

Legolas grabbed Elladan from his brother.  Holding the younger elf under the armpits he towed him quickly to the bank and carried him up onto the shore.  Raniean swiftly escorted Elrohir out while Trelan jumped out and quickly dragged his tunic on, preparing to run for help.

Legolas’ dripping fingers instantly sought a pulse at the base of Elladan’s neck.  He was relieved to find it, but the twin’s chest did not rise or fall.  Elladan wasn’t breathing.