Remember How to Smile

Chapter 9: Friends and Enemies

by Cassia and Siobhan

First > Previous > Next

Bright rays of sunlight filtered down through the spreading limbs of the mallorn trees deep in the heart of the Golden Wood.

Lord Celeborn stood in one of the broad open spaces of his talan, intent on something in his hand.  He read the note before passing it to his wife.  Galadriel’s clear blue eyes scanned the small parchment.

“To Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel,
From King Thranduil and Queen Elvéwen of Greenwood.

Greetings and blessings upon your house.

Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond, are safe in the Greenwood as our honored guests.  They are welcome to remain until such time as it is convenient to arrange their return.  We welcome any envoys you care to send and will extend to them all courtesy when in our realm.  This message is also being borne to Rivendell, to Lord Elrond and Lady Celebrìan.

Yours in peace,
King Thranduil and Queen Elvéwen”

Galadriel looked relieved, as did her husband.

“It seems we can call off the search, meleth-nín,” Celeborn said when Galadriel handed the message back to him.

“Yes,” the elf woman nodded.  “And tell poor Moranuen he can rest at ease; his friends are safe.  Although... they will have much for which to answer.”

“Should we send some of the Galadhrim to retrieve them?” Celeborn pondered the question, but his wife shook her head.

“No... I think this is a situation for our son and daughter to handle.  The reasons behind Elladan and Elrohir’s actions lies rooted in Rivendell and it is there their problems must be solved,” she reasoned wisely.

Celeborn concurred.  “Very well, then we will inform King Thranduil of such.  I am certain that Elrond and Celebrìan have already received the same message and will send for their children at once.”


“What is it, Celboril?” Lindar looked up from where he was busily cleaning tack in the stables.

“I was looking for Lord Glorfindel,” the servant replied.  He indicated a small piece of parchment in his hand.  “He is riding to find Lord Elrond’s party, is he not?  I have important news I wish him to bear with him.”

Lindar tossed his dark hair over his shoulder and straightened to his feet.  “I’m sorry, Celboril.  He’s already gone.  He said he did not know when he would be back, but estimated a few weeks at the least.  Our last word said that Lord Elrond’s party was running into stiff resistance in the hills.  Glorfindel took all the remaining available warriors with him to their aid.”

Celboril sighed in frustration.  He knew Elrond would want this information immediately, but they seemed to have no recourse but to wait for his return.  Lady Celebrìan had also left several days ago with another party of warriors as escort, heading for Lórien to be with her children.  Unfortunately, Celboril now knew that her children were not there.  The servant sighed as he returned to the house.  At least this same message had been sent to Celeborn and Galadriel.  The news would be waiting for Celebrìan when she arrived.  

“Calas?” he called out for the young elf that had brought the message to him.  He would need to send a missive back to Mirkwood explaining the situation.

“Yes, sir?” Calas pelted around the corner and skidded to a stop quickly in front of the older elf.

“Calas, where is the bird who brought the message?”

“Halfway home?” Calas asked, somewhat confused.

“What?” Celboril demanded sharply and the child flinched, suddenly realizing he may have made a mistake.  “Calas, what did you do with the bird?”

“I-I sent him back?” The answer sounded like a question.  “I’m sorry, should I not have?  He delivered the message so I told him he could go home.”

Celboril sighed heavily.  Being upset with Calas would not fix the error, so he reined in his frustration.  “No, Calas, you should have waited to see if there was a reply.  In case you have not noticed we do not have any courier birds of our own.  Now we have no way of contacting Mirkwood short of sending a messenger on foot which will take far longer even if we had one to spare, which at the moment we do not.  Unless you would like to go?”

“M-me, sir?” Calas squeaked.  He wasn’t quite as old as Elladan and Elrohir yet and not nearly as adventurous as they.  “Go over the mountains alone?  Oh please don’t make me, sir!  I’m sorry I sent the bird back without waiting, I’ll never do it again,” he begged.

“Peace, peace, Calas,” Celboril shook his head.  Did the child seriously think he would send him to his death out there?  The old elf smiled slightly.  “Fear not, I have no intention of sending you on any such mission.  We shall simply have to bide our time until some of the warriors come back and there’s someone to spare.  I am certain that the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood will be able to see to things until then.”


Sun sparkled on the water in the pond as Elladan and Elrohir romped in the water with Trelan and Sarcaulien.  Legolas smiled as he watched them from the shore.  The prince sat on a rock by the water, dangling his bare feet in the cool water and enjoying the warm morning sunshine.  Since they had the morning free, the three warriors had taken their young guests out for a little fun.  Elladan and Elrohir had been cooped up in the palace for several days now and they were obviously getting restless.

Elladan and Elrohir thought it odd that the prince did not wish to join them, but Sarcaulien and Trelan knew better than to try to get Legolas undressed and into the water with people he did not fully know.  It was as if Legolas did not want people to see his scars.  Yet the prince’s friends knew that he carried none... at least not physically.  Legolas seemed to be enjoying himself anyway, so no one gave it much thought.

Legolas leaned back on the rock, the wind tugging lightly at his tunic.  He wished Raniean could be here, but his friend had not yet been released.  He felt very guilty about that still.  A few days confinement wasn’t a horribly harsh punishment, but Legolas knew it would have driven him to near insanity.  He could not stand being under lock and key.  Even being in dark, stuffy rooms or seeing barred windows made him feel dizzy sometimes.  He wondered if that’s why both Raniean and Randomir had refused him the right of substitution in this matter.  That thought made his heart sink because it was yet another sign that they were trying to protect him.  He did not want to be protected!  He just wanted everything to be normal.  Legolas sighed, it was no use letting these thoughts torment him.  He should stop focusing on them.

“Don’t swim in there,” Trelan warned as the twins paddled over to investigate a shallower area of the pond where massive tree roots created large pillars descending down in to the water.  “That’s where the three-ringed water snakes live,” the smaller, but older warrior said knowledgeably.

Sarcaulien and Legolas both shot their friend a confused look until they saw the way the twins quickly backtracked into the deeper water with wide-eyed, questioning looks.

“What are they?” Elrohir inquired, attempting nonchalance.  They had already been briefed on many of Mirkwood’s more dangerous inhabitants and had quickly come to understand that this land was not as safe as the one to which they were accustomed.

Sarcaulien smiled wickedly.  “Long, evil things, longer than an elf’s leg.  You can’t see them when they’re in the water, they’re practically invisible.  You’ll only know they’re there when they brush by you and by that time it’s too late.”

Legolas tried very hard not to laugh at the look on the twins’ faces as they suddenly regarded the water around them with unease.  There was no such thing as a three-ringed water snake here or anywhere else to his knowledge.

“Very dangerous creatures,” the prince added helpfully.  “Their venom can immobilize a full grown deer in moments.  It’ll kill you... eventually.  But usually they don’t wait that long.”

“No indeed!” Trelan picked up the tale again, enjoying himself greatly.  He was good at this game – creating scary monsters where none existed.  It was something that the younger elves did around the campfires trying to scare one another and Trelan was the best at it.  He was known to spin the most outrageous tales without even flinching.  It was hard to tell sometimes when he wasn’t being serious. “They wrap themselves around your neck and pull you under the water, holding you there until you drown.  Then they call all the other snakes to come and feed...”

Legolas went into a coughing fit to cover his laughter.  The look on the twins’ faces was incredible.  The younger elves actually believed them!

“Should we even be in here?” Elrohir asked seriously.  Elladan glared at his brother for voicing the nervousness they both felt in front of the older elves.

“Oh, don’t worry, they usually stick to the shallows, although there was that one time... but don’t worry about that, it was unusual behavior for them and has never happened again.  Almost all the elves survived,” Sarcaulien assured.  “Besides, they don’t like certain types of vibrations, so all you have to do is every now and then slap the water like this, and give a little trill.”  Sarcaulien demonstrated what he meant, slapping the surface of the water a few times and making a shrill, trilling sound in the back of his throat.

Trelan had to duck under water and come back up again to maintain his composure.  “Oh yes, always a good precaution if one isn’t used to keeping an eye out for them.”

To Legolas’ great amusement the twins did as they were told, mimicking the motion and sound just to be sure that they were safe.

“That’s the way,” the prince encouraged with a smile.

After a time, Elrohir retreated from the water and clambered up onto the bank near Legolas.  Elladan and the other two Mirkwood elves were not ready to give up their sport yet.  The younger twin was still limping slightly once he was on land and he rubbed his sore knee with a wince as he sat dripping on the edge of the pond.  He was healing swiftly, but his leg was still stiff and easily wearied.

Legolas guessed at once that this was the reason Elrohir had given up the water earlier than the others.  “Are you all right?” the prince asked with genuine concern.

Elrohir nodded quickly.  “It’s just a little stiff.”  He pushed his dripping black hair out of his eyes, tucking it behind gracefully pointing ears.  “What about you?”

“Me?” Legolas queried with a confused smile.  “I’m fine.”

“Then why didn’t you join us in the water?” Elrohir wanted to know as he leaned back, letting the sun begin to dry the beads of water from his body. The thin, sleeveless, knee-length tunic Elrohir was wearing clung to him and he adjusted it a couple times.  Legolas and his friends usually did not swim clothed, and Legolas found it slightly odd that both Elladan and Elrohir did, but he supposed it might just be a different set of customs.  Rivendell elves were bound to do some things differently than they did after all.

Legolas shrugged.  “I did not feel like it today.  Perhaps another time.”

“Ah,” Elrohir nodded.  “I thought perhaps you were avoiding the water snakes,” the younger, dark haired elf said seriously.

Legolas coughed into his hand for a moment.  “Uh... no, they don’t worry me,” he assured.  “I’m... used to watching out for them.”


It was afternoon and Elladan and Elrohir had just finished changing their clothes and drying their hair when there was a knock on the door of their chambers.

“The King and Queen request your presence,” the young page informed them, instructing the two Noldor to follow him to the throne room.  The twins did as they were told.  It was a bit different, being in a realm with an actual monarchy rather than Lordship.  It was like, and yet unlike home.

Thranduil was seated in his throne and Elvéwen sat beside him, holding the King’s hand and leaning lightly on his arm. Thranduil beckoned the two young elves to him.

“We have word that the messenger birds have returned.  I thought you should be here to hear what the courier has to say when he arrives,” the King explained.  He expected some return missives with an arrival date for the party or parties sent to collect Elladan and Elrohir.

Elladan slipped his hand into Elrohir’s as they waited.  They were in no hurry to have to face their family’s disappointment with their behavior, but at the same time they wanted to get it over with... they needed to know they could be forgiven.

The courier entered a few moments later and bowed low to the King and Queen.  “The messenger birds have returned from Rivendell and Lothlórien, Highnesses,” he reported what they already knew.

Thranduil nodded.  The journey too and from had taken only a few days, which was very quick for the distance covered.  The birds must not have been detained at their destinations at all.  It wasn’t surprising however.  He knew he would be very worried if it were Legolas gone missing this long and would have replied as promptly as possible.

“What was the reply?” he inquired.  Elladan and Elrohir were welcome to remain his guests for as long as necessary, but he expected their family would be anxious to collect them.

“Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel send their greetings and thanks for your hospitality.  They bid us await word from Rivendell.”

“And what does Rivendell say?” Thranduil asked the next logical question.

The courier looked puzzled.  “Nothing, Highness.  There was no reply from Lord Elrond and Lady Celebrìan.”

Thranduil’s brow creased in confusion.

Elladan and Elrohir looked at one another in surprise.  No word at all?  Didn’t anyone intend to come get them?  Or at least send for them to come back on their own?  Had they truly made that big of a mess that they weren’t welcome home anymore?

“Could the reply have been lost on the way?” Elvéwen wanted to know.

The courier shook his head.  “No, Highness.  My birds have never lost a message, and they assure me there was no reply given them to carry from Rivendell.”

Thranduil wasn’t sure what to do.  He hadn’t exactly expected to be saddled with Elrond’s children indefinitely, although of course they were welcome as long as there was need.  However, neither did he want to send a second message and give the impression that he was anxious to be rid of the elflings.  He still considered himself somewhat in Elrond’s debt for the way he had saved Legolas’ life some years ago and had no wish to offend the other Lord.

“Very well,” he said after an awkward moment of silence.  “Then it seems it shall be our pleasure to welcome you as guests a while longer,” he said to Elladan and Elrohir.

Elvéwen took pity on the downfallen faces of the two young elves.  “I am sure your parents will send for you when they are ready and able,” she assured gently.

“We can return by ourselves,” Elladan finally found his voice.  “We do not wish to burden you.”

“Out of the question,” Thranduil said firmly.  “It is a long and perilous journey.  As my guests you are under my protection and your safety is my responsibility.  I could never send you on it alone, and have not the ability to send you with a proper guard.  You are more than welcome to remain until other arrangements can be made.”

“Thank you, your Majesties,” the twins responded numbly.  “We appreciate your hospitality.  May we be excused?”

Thranduil released them with a nod.  He turned his questioning gaze upon his wife as the twins fled the room.  “No answer from Rivendell?  What does it mean?”

Elvéwen shook her head.  “I don’t know.  I’m certain there is an explanation.  We will simply have to wait for it.”  She looked at where the door was still swinging slightly on its hinges in the twins’ wake.  “For their sake, I hope it comes soon.”


Elladan followed Elrohir as they left the palace gardens behind them.  They wanted to be out and away.  They needed some time alone.  A little distance into the woods, Elrohir stopped and swung up into the branches of a nearby tree.  He climbed up a little ways to the top and leaned against the trunk of the tree.  Elladan joined him a few moments later and they sat there in silence.  Elladan tried hard to pretend he didn’t notice the tears in Elrohir’s eyes.  He tried to pretend he didn’t feel tears in his own heart.

“We really did it this time, didn’t we?” Elrohir said softly after a moment.  “They don’t even want us back, do they?”

“Of course they do,” Elladan assured, although he did not believe it himself.  “Don’t be silly.”

Elrohir sighed.  It didn’t feel very silly at the moment.  He opened his mouth to say something else, but Elladan pressed his fingers to his lips.  Someone was approaching.  Neither of the young elves wanted to see anyone else right now, so they scrambled a little higher up the tree to keep from being spotted.  Two golden heads and two dark bobbed into view.  One of the golden heads was significantly shorter than the others and one of the dark haired elves looked to be some years older than his companions.

As the newcomers approached, Elladan and Elrohir recognized the sound of Legolas’ voice.  He seemed to be talking with several of his friends.  Elladan and Elrohir recognized Trelan and Sarcaulien, both of whom were still sporting damp hair from that morning.  They thought that the other, older looking, dark-haired elf might have been Sarcaulien’s elder brother Sarcayul.  He had been briefly introduced to them a few days before.

The four wood elves did not continue on their way, but stopped only a stone throw away from the twins’ tree.  Elladan and Elrohir did not mean to eavesdrop, but they could not help hearing the ensuing conversation.

“I asked the guards again, I think they tire of seeing me.  They said he might be released today,” Legolas was saying.  He sounded a little sad.  “I hadn’t thought he’d be kept this long.”

“I can’t believe Randomir put Raniean in the guardhouse in the first place!” Sarcaulien fumed.  “His own son!  Our father would never have done that to Sarc or I.”

Trelan wasn’t so sure that was a good thing.  From what he had seen, he felt that Traycaul could show a little less favoritism to his sons when administering his contingent, but he kept his tongue. 

“I know, and it was my fault.  I tried to do a right of substitution, but Randomir wouldn’t allow it,” Legolas said dispiritedly.  “I wish they’d let me see him, just for a moment.  I fear he shall think I got him into trouble and then forgot all about him.”

Trelan squeezed Legolas’ arm.  “Raniean would never think that Legolas; he knows you better than that.  He knows he’s not allowed any visitors until his time is served, but I’ll wager he’s heard you arguing with the guards every single day.”  The smaller elf chuckled.  “It can’t be much longer now.”
Legolas smiled faintly, Trelan was right, but that didn’t make him feel much better.
Sarcayul fell into pace beside Legolas and hung lightly on the younger elf’s shoulders.  Although Legolas had been one of his favorite victims to taunt when they were younger, he had long ago realized the prudence of not building up enmity with the heir to the throne.  He now rather fancied himself something of a role model for this group of younger elves, although Legolas might have taken exception to that notion.  “Did Randomir lay into you when you told him what happened?

Legolas sighed.  “Not much, maybe a little.  In a way I wish he would have,” he admitted.  “It feels wrong getting off with only a lecture when Ran’s in the guardhouse.  Especially since I was the one who started shooting at unwary opponents.”  The prince’s voice showed that despite what he had told Randomir, he did regret that action, or at least, he wanted to regret it.
“But you didn’t do anything wrong!” Sarcayul scoffed.  “Who cares if the edain had drawn their swords yet or not?  I mean, we all know they would have.  Don’t give them the chance I say.  Would you give an orc that chance?  Of course not, and what’s the difference?  I only wish I could have been there.  Stars, you should have gotten a commendation for ridding the world of those creatures.”

Legolas shrugged in a non-committal manner.  “Maybe.  Randomir doesn’t think so.  He says they might be friendly someday.”
“Sure,” Sarcaulien said sarcastically.  “And maybe one day an orc is going to ask us to tea.  Please, we can never trust any of the lesser races.”

Trelan kept his hands in his pockets and his opinions out of the conversation.  He hated the people who had hurt Legolas, but couldn’t quite bring himself to condemn all men as the sons of Traycaul and now sometimes even Legolas seemed to do.  “The ones from Esgaroth seem to be all right,” he ventured quietly.

“Oh they’re all right,” Sarcayul agreed with mild disdain.  “All right for growing things and fixing barrels - anything that doesn’t require too much intellect.  I’m not saying they don’t have their uses.  I hear that some of the better bred ones can even think,” he chuckled.

Sarcaulien laughed at his brother’s joke and Legolas smiled slightly.

“Well you can tell which are which!” Sarcaulien chimed in.  “Have you ever SEEN that crusty old Delflor who used to come with the trade envoys?  I would swear that man was ten thousand years old if I didn’t know their life spans were so dreadfully short.  You remember the one, Legolas?  He was always drooling in his beard and he’d say: “EH?” every time you said anything to him!”

Legolas did remember and tried hard not to laugh.  The old man had been harmless, but almost stone deaf and very comical to observe.

“Oh, don’t forget the head tics, that was the best part!” Sarcayul said, twitching his head violently and letting his tongue hang out as he launched into an animated, exaggerated imitation of the man in question that soon had all the elves in stitches, even Trelan.

“Perhaps we can understand why Ilúvatar gave them such short lives,” Sarcayul gasped out around his own laughter.  “For their own sakes as well as ours!”

Legolas wiped his eyes as he caught his breath, shaking his head at the other elf’s antics.  He had not liked Sarcayul at all when he was young, although Sarcaulien had always been more or less a friend - at least when his older brother wasn’t around.  As the prince grew into adulthood however, Sarcayul’s biting humor had no longer been directed towards the prince, but rather at more common targets such as orcs and humans.  Both Sarcayul and Sarcaulien shared a deep distrust and distaste for all races not elven, they always had.  Ever since Dorolyn that was a view Legolas was slowly starting to share.  As a result, the prince sometimes felt more accepted by them than by Raniean and Trelan, although he would always be closest to the latter two.

“Well I regret it, but I must take my leave,” Sarcayul said after a few minutes more.  “I promised Father I would see to the changing of the guard.”  He smiled fondly at Sarcaulien.  “Ah, I envy you the carelessness of youth,” he said in parting.  “But if you can tear yourself away from your companions, don’t forget you owe me a hand.”

Sarcaulien chuckled.  “Oh, I won’t forget and I doubt you’ll let me.  I’ll be along in a while.”

After Sarcayul left, the three friends dallied a few moments longer in the glade before deciding to head back.  Suddenly, Legolas laid a finger to his lips, calling for silence.  With his eyes he signaled Sarcaulien and Trelan to look up, into the tree above them.  After a moment they saw what he saw - the unmistakable shadow of figures hidden high up in the branches.  Legolas had a good idea who it was and winked at his friends.

“Say, would you care for some archery practice?” he asked, speaking loudly for the benefit of the eaves-droppers.

Trelan tried to contain the wide smile that spread across his face.  “Why, yes, your Highness.  ‘Tis a perfect place for it.  Shall we try seeing how high we can shoot?  Perhaps in this fine tree here?”

“Aye!” Sarcaulien played along.  “I think I spotted movement up there.  A prize to the first one to bring down a pair of pigeons!”

Their words had the desired effect and the tree rustled quickly with movement.  A moment later two younger elves dropped down out of the branches.

Legolas smiled a warm greeting to the twins.  “Well, what do we have here?! ‘Tis not a pair of pigeons after all, Sar,” he chuckled.  “Rather, a couple of eavesdroppers, am I right?”  The prince held Elladan and Elrohir no ill will for spying on him and his friends.  He doubted they had even done it intentionally.  He would have asked the twins to join them if he had been aware of their presence earlier.

The identical scowls on the two younger elves’ faces however, were neither amused nor jovial and Legolas’ smile faltered a little.  What cause did they have to look so sour?  Did they think he was serious?  Stars, they were the ones who had been rude enough to not make their presence known, not he.

“Why ask us?” Elladan said somewhat sharply.  “We might not be well-bred enough to think.”

Legolas was stunned by their sudden hostility.  He did not grasp its cause.  “What are you talking about?”

“Thinking,” Elrohir said with no less accusation than his brother.  “You know, that activity in which our ancestors and our relatives among the Dunèdain are apparently too stupid to engage.”

Legolas wasn’t sure what to say.  He had almost forgotten that the twins, and indeed, Lord Elrond himself, whom the young prince respected highly, had human blood in their veins.  In any case he hadn’t expected them to claim any kinship there or be very proud or defensive of that fact.

“No one here meant you any offense,” Legolas said somewhat stiffly.  “If you are going to take such, perhaps you should not listen to conversations not meant for you.”

Elladan’s eyes were angry, but Elrohir’s were hurt, he would never have taken the friendly prince for a bigot.  “I wish we hadn’t,” he said softly, but bluntly.  “I would have expected better from you.”

Legolas was at a loss.  He had never intended to insult the twins or vex them in this way, but he did not appreciate their accusations either.  They were too young and too sheltered to understand the evils the world held.  He knew - he had been the same once.  “I apologize if our speech offered offense.  Nothing said here was meant to include you.”

“But it does,” Elrohir said icily.  “And our father too.”

“You’re hardly human,” Legolas protested, trying to extricate himself from this awkward position without insulting anyone further.  As far as the twins were concerned, he was failing.  “I didn’t think that-”

“Obviously you didn’t think,” Elladan said harshly.  The twins were already emotionally disturbed and the wood-elves’ overheard conversation had upset them greatly.  Elladan’s temper had been provoked and he was not about to let the issue drop now.  He scowled at Legolas.  “I had no idea wood-elves were so unforgivably ignorant.”

Legolas’ own temper flared.  They had no right to stand there and call him and his people ignorant!  He felt he knew far more about Men than he hoped they ever would.

“Ignorant?!” Legolas snapped hotly.  “I do not believe I was the one stupid enough to go to a strange town with strange people and then waltz off alone with men who obviously bore you ill will and almost get yourselves killed!”

“No, you already did that from what I hear and our Ada had to save your sorry neck!” Elladan flung back.  “Don’t blame Men for your own stupidity!”

Legolas’ face was lined with fury, but he felt physically unable to speak.  His stupidity?  It had been a trap!  They had had no indications of trouble... should he have known?  Should he?  The question tormented him and made him feel ill.  He already battled the deep-seated belief that what happened to him had been his fault, he didn’t need Elladan to grind his face in that fact.  It made the prince suddenly nauseous to think that the twins knew too much about Dorolyn.  Valar, what all had Elrond told them?

Unfortunately, the opposite was the case.  Elladan and Elrohir knew too little about Dorolyn - else they would never have said something so carelessly hurtful, even in anger.

Trelan’s eyes flashed and he was in front of Legolas in an instant.  He shoved the taller elf backward, barely restraining himself from punching the Noldo in the face.  “Shut up!” he snapped harshly.  “You have no idea what you’re talking about!”

Elladan stumbled, but kept his balance.  He shoved Trelan back.  “This isn’t your business!” the younger, dark-haired elf said with irritation.  “Let Legolas fight his own battles.”

“You say one more insulting word to my Liege and I will make it my business!” Trelan threatened darkly, his hand dropping to the fighting daggers on his belt.

Elrohir immediately moved protectively to his brother’s side while Sarcaulien moved to Trelan’s and the air began to crackle with tension.

“Stop it!” Legolas’ soft, firm voice broke the moment as he shoved his way between his friends, standing between the Noldo and Silvan elves.  There was fire and well-hidden pain snapping in his cold blue eyes, but he could not allow this to come to blows.

“Children will act like children,” the prince spat.  The cold disdain in his words was directed towards the two young Noldor.  “But I refuse to be brought to that level of puerility.  Come on, let’s go,” he said to his two companions, turning to leave.

Elladan saw red.  He hated being called a child.  That was what Elrond had called them, that was what the well-meaning but condescending Galadhrim March-wardens had called them, that was why they had been sent away and why no one wanted them back... Pain and rage clouded his vision.  To hear that from the lips of one only a little older than himself was too much.  Legolas did not necessarily deserve the full brunt of the young elf’s hurt and anger, but he was the recipient nonetheless.

“Coward!” the elder twin shot after them.  “You call yourselves warriors?  You’re nothing but idle words!  Or do you only shoot people when they’re defenseless and less skilled than you?!”  It was an inflammatory and not very accurate barb that Elladan partway regretted as soon as it was out of his mouth, but he wouldn’t take it back once said.

Elrohir had a restraining hand on his brother’s arm.  He was angry too, but he agreed with Legolas on this one - it was best to let it go before they were all in trouble.  The younger twin winced when Legolas froze mid-step, his shoulders tightening visibly.  Trelan spun sharply around on his heel and strode back towards them.  If it came to a fight Elrohir would back his brother a hundred percent... but he wished Elladan would let it drop.  He was almost certain that fighting with the Prince of Mirkwood while they were guests of his father and mother would be a very stupid move on their part.

“You little ingrates, those men wanted to kill you!  We saved your worthless hides!” Sarcaulien hissed angrily.

Quick as a flash, Legolas caught Trelan’s arm and shot Sarcaulien a warning look, stopping them short of getting back into the conflict.  

“Enough!” the prince’s voice trembled slightly with his own constrained rage.  “Trey, Sar, come on, it’s not worth it.”  His friends were defending his honor, he knew, but they would be fighting elves younger and less trained then themselves.  It wouldn’t be fair and someone was bound to wind up hurt.  Just at the moment it was hard for him to care whether the twins were hurt or not since he very much wanted to contribute to the effort, but he knew that it was his friends who would have to pay for it in the end.  Legolas would probably receive a reprimand from his father, but he knew that if either Trelan or Sarcaulien harmed the two visiting Noldo nobles, as warriors in the Royal Guard, they would be flogged for the breach of conduct no matter who was to blame.  The prince would not see any more of his friends suffer because of him.

“But, Legolas-!” Sarcaulien seethed.

“I said let it go!” Legolas snapped tensely.  Faster than Elladan could react, Legolas stepped forward and grabbed the younger elf by the front of his tunic.  It was all the prince could do to not strike the Noldo himself, but he kept his temper in check.  “Do not meddle nor pass judgment on the affairs of my realm and I’ll not meddle in the affairs of yours!” he hissed between his teeth.  He released the Noldo stiffly and stalked away, taking Sarcaulien and Trelan with him.

Elladan seemed like he might say something else, so Elrohir clapped his hand over his brother’s mouth, just in case.

“ARE YOU BRAIN DEAD?!” the younger twin hissed loudly in his brother’s ear as soon as the three Silvan elves were out of earshot.  “Are you TRYING to get us killed?!”

Elladan shrugged his brother off sharply, still in a decidedly foul mood.  “What?  You don’t think we couldn’t have taken them?” he scoffed.

Elrohir cuffed his twin sharply on the back of the head.  “Grow up!  There were three of them and two of us and in case you haven’t NOTICED we are in their realm!  And since no one else seems to want us at the moment, do you really want to get us thrown out of here too?”

Elladan stung from the rebuke.  Elrohir rarely ever disagreed with or crossed him and it hurt.  “You heard what he said...”

“And it was wrong, I agree.  Look, I’m no more fond of a bigot than the next elf, but use your brain, El!  You’re going to get us in trouble again!” Elrohir said tensely.

That was too much.  Elladan’s overburdened sense of guilt over their last misadventure bubbled viciously to the surface and condemned him.  Angry, hurt tears sprung up into his eyes.  “You mean like I did the last time?  Or how I got us sent away in the first place?” the older twin was nearly shouting and nearly in tears.  “FINE!  Then just stay away from me!  I’m sure you’d be much safer somewhere else!”  His voice choked off and Elladan turned and fled into the trees.  If even Elrohir was against him, life wasn’t much worth living at the moment.

Elrohir’s heart clenched.  He hated it on the rare occasions that he and Elladan fought and didn’t understand how this had turned into one of them.  “That’s not what I meant, El!  Come back!” he called after his twin anxiously.  Limping slightly, as he chased after his brother when the other elf did not do as requested.  “Come on... EL!”


Legolas fumed all the way back to the palace.  He regretted not punching Elladan.  Nausea still had a firm root in his stomach and as he mounted the palace stairs he had a renewed urge to throw up.  He just barely felt that he had begun to gain back the respect of his elders and fellow warriors.  He had only just started to believe that when they looked at him they weren’t thinking: “poor Legolas, such a shame what happened, isn’t it nice how they let him pretend to be normal?  His poor parents, what a pity he’s their only child...”

Legolas ran his hand through his hair, nearly retching.  His close friends and family understood his pain, but it was not common knowledge.  Most people only knew the surface truth of what he had endured at the hands of King Meléch, and that was the way Legolas preferred it to remain.  Thinking, mistakenly, that the twins had heard the whole story from their father, he was terrified what Elladan and Elrohir might say, especially now that they were angry with him.  He nearly missed one of the stairs, his hands trembling as he caught himself.  Valar, please don’t let them be that spiteful; he would never be able to look anyone in the face again!

Trelan caught his arm.  “Legolas, are you all right?” he asked with deep concern.

Legolas steadied himself and nodded.  “Mad as a hornet, but I’ll live,” he joked with a thin smile, trying to calm his mind and put away the dangerous emotions once more.  “You don’t think... they’ll say anything, do you?” he asked uncertainly.  “I mean, anything their father might have told them...” he let the question trail off into anguished silence.

Sarcaulien snorted.  “They better not if they have any sense at all.  You should have let us beat the pulp out of them.”

Legolas sighed, making the top of the stairs and slowing to a more normal pace.  “Perhaps, but I wouldn’t see you pay the price for that, my friend.”  His troubled eyes filled with another concern as his thoughts returned to someone else who had already gotten into trouble for him.  “I need to go see if they’ll release Raniean yet.  Do you want to come?”

Trelan agreed quickly.  Sarcaulien declined, saying he had to go help his brother now, but sent with them the sincere hope that Raniean’s punishment would not last much longer.


When Elrohir finally found his brother, Elladan was sitting on a log, violently chucking pebbles at a large boulder.  The smooth surface of the bolder was dotted with white flecks from the force of the impacts.  Elladan didn’t look up when his twin approached.

“El, I’m sorry,” Elrohir apologized, even though he didn’t really believe he was at fault.  Still, he had hurt his twin and for that he was sorry.

Elladan still didn’t look up.  “No, I’m sorry,” he said tensely, flinging another pebble.  “I’m sorry for getting us into this mess, I’m sorry for getting us stuck here and you hurt...” the stone struck sparks against the larger rock.  “And I’m sorry I made Ada so mad he sent us away and doesn’t want us back!” the last statement was muffled held more anguish than anger.

“Oh, El, that was my fault too.”  Elrohir sighed and sat down next to his brother, wrapping his arm around his twin.  He laid his head on Elladan’s shoulder and watched him throw rocks for a little while.

Elrond’s worried and livid face rose in their mind’s eye.

// “You could have been killed!” The elf lord’s normally gentle blue eyes blazed with terrified concern that was congealing into anger.

Elladan and Elrohir stood in the clearing, surrounded by dead orcs and found they had nothing to say.  They should not have left camp, they should not have disobeyed and ended up in this situation.  They should not have forced their father and the warriors to come after them.  Maybe two immortal elves would not have died today if they had not.  But they had, and they could not change it now.

Their eyes strayed guiltily to the blood still oozing between their father’s fingers where he held his arm.  The cut was deep, but not serious.  Still, they knew that too was their fault.

“I told you to stay in camp and wait for us!  Why can I not trust you to listen to me?” Elrond’s voice was anguished. //


“You don’t really think he sent us away because he was mad, do you?” the younger twin asked sadly after a few minutes.  He hadn’t considered that possibility before.  He knew that Elrond was angry and disappointed with them, but he thought it was because they failed to show proper caution and sense that they had been sent away for their own safety.  That’s what Elrond had told them, and Elrohir believed him, even if he was not happy about the situation.  But now he wondered.  Could Elrond really have been so angry he didn’t want to see them anymore?

Elladan tensed.  He hadn’t meant to share that fear with his more sensitive twin, but it was too great a burden to carry alone.  “El, you heard him when they found us; he was furious.  Have you ever heard Ada yell like that before?  Even Nana was mad at us.  And then we’re leaving for Lórien the day after we get home?  What do you think?”

Elrohir burrowed his head harder against his brother’s shoulder.  “I-I never thought they’d send us away to punish us.  I thought they were just worried.  You know, like they said - because they thought they couldn’t trust us to stay out of trouble.”

Elladan swallowed hard.  He wanted to believe that too, but... “Then why haven’t they come after us?” he asked hoarsely.  “They haven’t even sent word.  And why should they?  Valar, El, they were right and we couldn’t stay out of trouble.  I mean, what did we do as soon as we got to Lórien?  We went out and did the same bloody thing again!  To Grandma and Grandpa no less.  No wonder they all hate us; do you blame them?”

Wetness on his shoulder told Elladan that his brother was crying.  “Do... do you think they’ll ever want us back?” the younger Noldo asked quietly, with heart-aching grief in his voice.

Elladan fired off another stone, battling his own emotions.  “I wouldn’t want me back,” he said quietly.

Elrohir wrapped his arms tighter around his brother.  “I want you, El,” he whispered.

Elladan gave up on the stones and wrapped his arm around his brother’s shoulder, laying his head atop Elrohir’s.  “I’ll always want you too, El,” he promised quietly.

They sat thus for some time, lost in their own thoughts.  So lost, that they did not sense the presence of those creeping up slowly and soundlessly upon them until it was too late.

The first they knew, Elladan’s head had been yanked back by the hair and a sharp, cool blade was pressed against his throat.