Elves Are Not Alike!|
Rating: K for some angst and scary situations.
Summary: Legolas and Elladan discover the many differences between the Noldor elves and the wood elves while attempting a hunting trip without Elrohir.
‘And the humans think all elves are alike!’ thought the young Mirkwood prince rather grumpily as he slapped together several pieces of dried tree limbs with slightly more force than necessary. He sent a dark glare at his object of frustration as he carefully gathered the sticks into one neat pile and scooped them up into his arms. The object in question was cheerfully humming over his current work—that of sitting on a decaying tree stump and preparing the fish Legolas had caught earlier. His dark, long hair gleamed with the last rays of the setting sun, and his elven glow radiated sheer warmth, a feat which the younger elf thought extremely deceptive at this point. The young elf (only about 15 in human years) tried to quell the admiration that flared up as he saw the swift and thorough scaling job out of the corner of his eyes. He simply refused to admire anything about this insufferable Noldo elf!
Trying to hurry before he gained more displeasure from the elder elf, Legolas carried the wood over to the area where they planned to start a fire to cook supper, being sure to lay it down even more carefully than usual so the other elf would not have any ammunition to add to the fearsome ‘death by lecturing,’ of which Legolas had already incurred several times during this particular hunting trip. Not for the first time, he wondered if it had been a wise idea to attempt such a feat without the other brother along to add his compassionate nature to the mix. Legolas never realized before just how much the two brothers complemented each other, nor had he realized how often Elrohir must have calmed an agitated Elladan before he became angered enough to explode at those around him. It must surely be so, for Legolas had never before garnered such wrath and lecturing from the elder twin before this attempted hunting trip.
In need of more meat to replenish the stores before a planned feast, Elrond had requested Elladan to go hunting. Elrohir was busy helping in the healing ward, both learning more of the healing skills from his father and helping to care for several wounded elves that had recently battled a pack of wargs across the river. The twins had been planning on taking the young prince along on a hunting trip to teach him more in the art of hunting and wood lore techniques, so Elrohir had suggest that his brother go ahead and take Legolas along with him. Elladan had hesitated for half a minute, but the obvious excitement in the younger elf’s face had decided his mind for him, and the two had gathered together their supplies and left on horseback, planning to be gone for as many days as it would take to bring in several deer for the feast.
From the point they had left the close proximity of the Last Homely House, the trip—according to Legolas’ way of thinking—had gone downhill at a fast pace. The elder brother had seemed more nervous and irritable than usual, and the poor teen could seem to do no right, no matter how hard he tried. Noldor elves were different than those of the woodland realm. They relied less on their connection with nature and more on their learned knowledge. Apparently, the young elf mused as he now arranged the firewood in a circle, they relied more on their emotions as well. He let out a soft sigh as he recalled the numerous angry lectures Elladan had beset him with.
Legolas apparently ventured too close to the water while fishing for their supper. The elder elf saw him while gathering up some water for washing with later, and yanked him away from the edge so harshly he nearly lost the fish on his line, lost hold of the fishing pole and had to grab frantically onto the line instead, and gained a large, rather painful bruise on his upper arm from Elladan’s harsh grip. Then, Elladan proceeded to ‘lecture’ him in a raised voice about the dangerous rapids at this time of year, and how it only took a slight second of inattention to cause a disaster. Stunned, Legolas pressed back against the large oak where he’d landed when Elladan had pulled at him, his features white and his hands clasping desperately to the fishing line, which was being pulled by the tossing fish enough to slice a painful cut across his tender palm. He valiantly held on, though, unwilling to deny the elder twin his supper for the night just because of a little pain. He also rather hoped the elder elf would be proud of his catch, since it was rare that the wood elf had the opportunity to fish, and it was quite a feat for him.
When Elladan finally left to take the water back to camp, his face still angered and his footsteps louder than usual for elves, Legolas quickly grabbed the fishing limb, sending a wave of relief to this throbbing hand, and brought the fish in all the way. Washing his hand off quickly in the water, he headed back to camp quickly with his catch—a fish more than big enough for the two of them for supper tonight and breakfast in the morning as well. He tentatively handed Elladan the fish to prepare, hoping the elder brother would teach him how to prepare the fish. Elladan was still angry with the young elf, though, and the confused and frustrated youth was sent to gather firewood instead while Elladan prepared the fish alone. ‘So much for Elladan being proud of my catch,’ the young elf thought dismally as he went into the woods without a single compliment from the other elf on the size of the fish. He remained quiet about it, though, and did the nightly chores the best he could, hoping still to garner a word of praise from the elder elf who was like an older brother to him, and as much a revered idol as the younger twin was.
The next morning, Legolas’ neglected hand ached so intensely that he dropped the pot of water Elladan had retrieved for boiling tea, spilling it all over the dusty ground which gratefully absorbed every drop nigh the poor elf could save any. Elladan pursed his lips together at the sight, but went quietly to fetch more water, surprising the youth with his apparent reprieve. However, when Elladan brought the water back and a now-nervous Legolas spilled it over the fire while attempting to set it on top of the ring of rocks, thereby putting out the fire and ruining another pot of water, Elladan’s set face turned into a dark frown. Stomping over to the youth, he grabbed his hand up into his own larger one, exposing the enflamed-looking cut that had been gained yesterday.
This earned the hapless Legolas another long lecture on the sensibilities of getting injuries treated right away while the elder twin proceeded to treat the bad gash, cleaning it, placing healing salve on it and bandaging it lightly in fresh bandages, all with a touch much more gentle and careful than the dark-haired elf’s tone and manner belayed. He then vanquished the youth to the other side of the clearing, far away from the fire, water, or anything else that Legolas might ‘happen’ to destroy, as the elder twin put it not so lightly, while Elladan prepared the tea and breakfast.
It was all done so quickly that Legolas looked down at his bandaged hand in somewhat of a daze, wondering how it had been treated so quickly and what exactly had just happened. ‘I do not understand how I manage to keep making Elladan mad at me,’ he thought sadly as he allowed himself to sit back against the tree and close his eyes for a few minutes. The normally carefree youth was feeling a little worn around the edges from the constant stress of Elladan’s moodiness. He was beginning to worry that he perhaps had a lot more to learn that he had ever realized. Yes, he knew that injuries should get treated, but he had not wanted to make Elladan feel guilty over the cut he’d received at the elder elf’s harsh treatment yesterday. And it was justly so, the youth thought unhappily, remembering the guilty look he’d seen flash across the twin’s face when he’d discovered the cut.
He sighed as he rested his eyes, wishing he knew why the elder elf was so angry with him. He wondered if he should just come out and ask him, but then decided it might earn him more lectures on everything he was doing wrong. He just did not quite feel up to that right now!
The young elf began to retreat throughout the day, straying a little from the elder elf when they went hunting again in the hopes that the old adage, ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ might prove to be true. And it did seem to work, for there were no more mishaps for most of the day until late afternoon dusk began to cause the shadows to flicker in the woods. Unfortunately, a tree stopped the young wood elf to ask for news of the woodland realm, and the youth stayed a few minutes too long conversing with it. Before he realized it, he could hear Elladan calling angrily for him as the sounds of light bodies scurried through the undergrowth and a deer flashed by the wayward Legolas and vanished into the bushes beyond.
When Elladan burst through the trees a few seconds behind, Legolas had the uncomfortable feeling that he had failed yet again. And the tree could not even stick up for him, for Elladan was unable to hear the tree-speech as well as the wood elf could. Elladan stormed over to him, grabbing the anxious youth by the shoulders and shaking him. Legolas’ eyes opened wide in surprise and nervousness as he wondered what the elder twin would do to him. The young wood elf had no intention of retaliating, for the woodland folk were peaceable when not in battles to protect their kin and loved ones, and Legolas especially did not have it in him to disrespect an elder elf in any way, even if it was in self-defense. His father was trying to teach that out of him on the premise that not all elves were good, but the youth guessed his wise father had not foreseen the need for this when his son was in the peaceful realm of Imladris among his Noldor kin and friends. ‘Perhaps it is Elladan’s human blood?’ he wondered in a slight daze as his teeth began to rattle from the shaking.
Elladan, seeing the wide-eyed anxious look in the soulful blue eyes of the young elf, abruptly stopped shaking him, keeping his hands on the thin shoulders instead. “Do you not know what can happen to you in these woods, elfling?” he asked grimly, his grey eyes snapping with anger as he began to prepare to deliver another long lecture.
Legolas bit his lip against an answering retort, instead taking time to think on his words beforehand. After a few seconds, during which time Elladan simply waited, obviously expecting an answer this time, he finally responded with the best answer he could think of. “I am sorry, Elladan. I was trying to follow a trail, but got distracted with the tree.”
Elladan’s grip tightened, causing the poor youth to wince. “Distracted? Distracted…? Really, Legolas? If not for your ‘distraction,’ we would have had a deer tonight, perhaps all the deer that we needed to go home. Instead, I had to look for you, and all because of a little distraction? I am beginning to think you are too young to go hunting. Little elflings get distracted, not grown warriors who want to learn about hunting.”
Legolas paled at the other elf’s remark, lowering his eyes almost instantly to cloak his hurt from the other’s harsh words. Did the Noldo elves not communicate at all with the trees? He thought he had seen Lord Elrond talk to the old tree in Lady Celebrian’s garden before, but perhaps is was rare for them to do so? He had not realized it was such an evil thing, and the youth couldn’t help thinking that Elladan could have continued tracking the deer and he would have caught up to him. He did not need to be watched over like a child! He had hunted before in Mirkwood. He was just hoping to spend some quality time with the twins and learn some of the tricks that made them such excellent hunters.
Elladan, seeing the hurt in the young elf’s face despite his swift attempt to mask it, let his hands drop to his side and took several deep breaths to calm his anger. He tried to remind himself that wood elves were different. He knew they had a stronger connection with the trees, and he had seen it in Legolas many times, as well as other warriors from the woodland realm. Perhaps it was something they could not help. Still, if Legolas had been in the middle of a battle, he could hardly expect to stop and talk to a tree for a minute and think he would escape unharmed! He frowned to see the young elf chewing almost desperately on his bottom lip. He lifted up Legolas’ chin with his index finger to peer into his eyes, his heart lurching when he saw unshed tears lingering in the grief-stricken depths.
“Ai, penneth, forgive me! I did not mean it!” He wrapped his arms around the younger elf, enveloping him in a gentle embrace. “I was just worried about you, young one, and am frustrated at the fact that you appear to be purposely placing yourself in danger this trip.”
A slight sniffle escaped from the youth as he tried to keep the tears from falling. Elladan’s quick anger was distressing the sensitive wood elf and was playing havoc with his emotions. He managed to blink back the moisture and pulled back a little from the older elf. “I am being careful, Elladan,” he protested mildly. “I have gone hunting before, you know.” He couldn’t help adding this last part in small defense of his abilities.
Elladan stiffened. “Perhaps,” he agreed carefully, not wanting to make matters worse or bring the youth to tears. “But you do not know the way we do things here, and here you are in my care and my responsibility. I think perhaps we need to quit for the night, since it is already getting dark. I will rethink in the morning on whether or not you should continue hunting with me. It might be best if I take you back and then go out again by myself.”
Legolas’ mouth fell open as he gazed in shock at the elder elf. He began to grow angry himself at Elladan’s inference that he was incapable of hunting. Seeing a warning gleam in the elder elf’s eyes, however, he clamped his mouth tightly shut, drew in a deep breath, and bowed his head stiffly in inclination before turning and marching back to camp without another look behind him. Elladan was angered as well, so the young elf could easily hear the other follow, or he would have checked to make sure the twin was alright.
Now he had finished laying the wood down and wondered what else he should do. The evening chores were all complete and just needed Elladan to finish with the fish so that they could eat. The two elves had communicated very little on their return other than a few terse words about the evening duties. Legolas had gone fishing again, relishing in the few moments he’d had alone to stew before Elladan had come to ‘check’ on him again. This time he had made sure to step much further back from the shoreline, and even Elladan could not see any reason to fault him tonight.
Avoiding the elder elf’s eyes, he decided to walk to the edge of the clearing and climb the large tree that had been waving its branches at him all night while waiting for Elladan to finish. He wondered bitterly if Elladan would find fault with him climbing the tree tonight too, since he could not seem to do anything right this trip. He jumped up into the branches and climbed high enough to see the stars when they came out, but not so high as to make the irritable elder elf panic. Settling in beside the large, humming trunk in a copse of large branches, the young elf tried to relax by conversing with the ancient tree that was eager to speak with a wood elf. The trees in this part of the country rarely saw wood elves, and they were grateful at any chance to see and talk to one, since the Noldor elves rarely bothered with them now. Though Legolas was happy to talk to the trees, he would much rather have been down on the ground joking around and having a good time with Elladan, like they normally did when he was with both the twins. He let out a small sigh, curling in a little and hugging his arms to his body as he shivered from the cool, fall breeze.
Elladan, who had found the familiar routine of cleaning the fish to be soothing to his temper, kept looking up into the trees as he proceeded to cook the fish, just to make sure the younger elf was still in sight. His keen elven vision was quick to notice the shivering of the younger elf, and a feeling of uneasiness tugged at his mind. Elves did not get cold or sick, though sometimes elflings did. Despite the fact that he had all but called Legolas a little elfling earlier, he did not really think of him as such, for the youth had always been advanced beyond his years mentally. The elder twin berated himself as he noticed yet another sign that he had been too harsh with the child. Legolas was young, too young to automatically know the routines of the Noldor elves when his home was in Mirkwood, too young to be expected to do everything perfectly without some instruction. He was very young compared to the many centuries of age of the twins, and he did not deserve to be treated as harshly as Elladan had treated him during this trip. Usually they had a good time together, but the absence of his better half had made the elder elf feel the weight of his responsibility to keep the child safe even more.
It was not Legolas’ fault though, and he wished he had remembered that earlier. Too late, he remembered that this was supposed to be a teaching trip for the younger elf. He certainly had not done much ‘teaching’ on this trip, only reprimanding and lecturing. He sighed guiltily as he turned the fish over on the stick he had placed over the fire. No wonder Legolas was avoiding him! He probably thought someone had taken over Elladan’s body and replaced it with the mind of an orc!
Deciding he needed to clear the air before the child was allowed to retreat into his world of grief any more, he made up his mind. “Legolas!” he called out softly, knowing the young elf would easily hear him. “Come down here, saes.” He kept his voice low, not wanting to attract any dark creatures now that night was fast approaching.
Up in the tree, Legolas was having difficulties. He was literally freezing from the cold, and he knew it was not that cold. His head felt funny, too, and he did not understand what was happening. ‘Perhaps Elladan really has lectured me to death,’ he thought grumpily as he curled up a little tighter in an attempt to get warm. He heard Elladan call to him then, and his face paled. ‘Ai, what have I done now?’ he thought anxiously as another set of chills ran through his body. ‘I have not even been down there to do anything wrong this time! Perhaps he got mad at me for being in the tree after all…’
Sighing wearily, and despite the fact that he could happily stay all night in the tree and not bother to see the elder twin at all, Legolas proceeded to descend from the tree, his movements suddenly slow and shaky. The youth could not seem to get warm tonight, and the exhaustion he felt was overwhelming him to the point of distraction. He refused to say anything to Elladan, though. He already thought of Legolas as a tiny elfling who was incapable of doing anything right, so there was no point in giving him more reason to think so.
Elladan watched the young elf descending, and keen eyes noted the shaky movements as the youth climbed slowly from tree branch to tree branch. It was not at all like the usually graceful wood elf who had grown up in the trees, and the feeling of uneasiness grew stronger. He thought about going up to meet the younger elf in case he needed assistance, but then thought that the young elf might not appreciate yet another instance of being treated as incapable. He sighed, hands on hips, as he watched with bated breath the young elf’s slow descent.
It was then that another strong chill swept through Legolas and one of his hands lost their hold on the branch he was currently holding onto. He cried out softly as he fell to the length of his arm, his shoulder jerking harshly when his body dropped. The hand that was holding onto the branch happened to be the one with the cut on it, and it began to throb with a vengeance. The stunned youth dangled helplessly for a moment, then tried to reach his other hand up to grab on. The weariness he had been feeling chose then to make itself known even more, and he found that he had not the strength to reach up and grab on. It was all he could do to keep holding on with his one hand. He looked down at the ground, realizing he was still quite a long distance away and that a drop of that proportion would be enough to cause serious damage, if not incapacitate him completely.
Despite the fact that he was still hurt and angry with Elladan, he was the first one the youth thought of, and he called out for him. “Elladan! Help me, saes…”
The elder elf was already on his way up, though, having started his climb the instant he saw the younger elf lose his grip on the branch. He heard Legolas calling for him and his heart dropped even more as he tried to increase his speed.
Legolas, in the meantime, was trying to swallow back the dizziness he was feeling and holding on for dear life with his now fire-encased hand, wondering all the while why it was that he would call so quickly for the elder twin when all he had done was be rough with him and lecture him. ‘Somehow,’ he thought weakly, ‘even though it does not seem like it sometimes, I know that Elladan really cares about me. It is strange, though, that we can be not speaking one minute and he can be my hero the next…’ the youth tried to distract himself from his predicament by debating the matter, and it was a scant minute later that Elladan appeared on the branch below him.
The elder twin did not want to risk adding any weight to the thin branch Legolas was holding on to, so he decided that he would stand on the branch beneath and try to catch the wood elf from below. Reaching carefully over, he grabbed the youth around the waist, holding on to a branch just above him to keep his own balance. “I have you, penneth,” he said shakily, “You can let go now.”
Automatically trusting the elder elf, who had carried him around when just a small elfling, Legolas instantly let go of the branch, breathing a sigh of relief when his throbbing hand was free from the fearsome grip. Elladan pulled him back onto the lower branch with him, then eased them both down to sit against the trunk for a minute before making their descent to the ground. The elder elf wrapped his arms around the youth in front of him, burying his face in the soft, blonde hair that was so familiar to him, and breathing slowly in a desperate effort to calm his racing heart. “Ai, Tithen Lass,” he whispered, “how you do like to scare me…!”
Legolas leaned his head back on the other elf’s shoulder, closing his eyes for a minute while he tried to steady his own shakiness. “I am sorry, Elladan,” he whispered woefully. “I truly do not mean to…”
He gripped Elladan’s arm that was holding tightly to his chest. “Hannon le, for saving me. You have ever been my hero…”
Elladan hissed as his heart flopped over again at the young elf’s sweet words. He pulled the youth into a tighter embrace. “I am sorry, little one. I am so sorry for being so hard on you this trip. I was just afraid that something would happen to you because there was only one of me to watch over you. I should not have been so harsh, though, and I hope you can find it in you to forgive me.”
Legolas turned his head to look up at the older elf, his eyes shining with joy. “There is nothing to forgive, gwador nin,” he said softly, the pure innocence and love in his huge eyes once more taking away Elladan’s breath. “I am sorry too, for I should have been more careful, more wiser about things.”
Elladan smiled slightly at the young elf’s self-condemnation. “Nay, child. I should have been more patient and willing to teach you. I will try harder after this. Why did you fall, though, little one?”
Legolas grimaced at the other elf’s continued use of the term ‘little one,’ but decided to leave it alone for now. “I-I do not really know. I was cold, and I got colder. For some reason it made me lose my grip on the branch.” Confusion shone in the huge eyes as they continued to meet the inquiring gaze of the other elf. Elladan frowned, grabbing up Legolas’ hand and unwrapping the bandage enough to see the cut. His face darkened at the angry redness of the injury, worsened by the lone grip on the branch. It was definitely getting infected, but it was not a serious infection yet, and Elladan could not understand why the child would get so cold from it. His eyes grew distant then as he recalled his father saying something about wood elves several years ago.
“Remember, Elladan,” Elrond had instructed him prior to a visit from the elves of the woodland realm. “Wood elves are not like those of us Noldorin descent. They are more strongly connected to nature and have sensitive, light natures. You must not treat them harshly, for their fea’s cannot handle being treated harshly by kin and loved ones. Wood elves do not benefit from harsh punishments or coldly-dealt lessons, but rather from a heart filled with love and patience. You must especially be careful with the elflings like Legolas, for their fea’s are not as strongly linked to Arda as are the adult wood elves, and it is much easier to lose them to grief, even over matters which might seem to be simple to us.”
Recalling his father’s words now, Elladan felt a chill run through his heart. Surely…surely he had not caused the elfling to start fading… It could not be so! He loved the child like no other, and he would never wish such a thing! Taking a deep breath, he looked down at the waiting youth who had given up on a response from the other elf and had lowered his head back against the elder’s shoulder in weariness, closing his eyes for a moment while he waited. Elladan placed a kiss on the top of the blonde head, then quickly rewrapped the bandage on the child’s hand, realizing for the first time that every mishap the child had endured the past two days had been unconsciously caused by his angry reactions. And to think, before this trip he had thought he knew the child as well as anyone could! He began to think he might never fully understand the difference between wood elves and Noldor elves, not even if he lived for countless millennia.
He did not realize that Legolas was feeling the same way about Noldor elves, for the child did not understand how Elladan could yell at him and grab him harshly one minute, then be extremely gentle and loving with him the next. Legolas felt the kiss the elder elf gave him on his head, though, and his heart lightened. At least this beloved twin did not hate him like he had begun to think. Perhaps some of the trip could still be salvaged, if only he would stop getting so cold…
After getting his attention, Elladan helped Legolas carefully down the tree to the ground, where he proceeded to fix him up comfortably in his bed roll, treated his hand carefully with herbs and bandages, gave him some hot tea to drink, then gave him some of the slightly burnt fish for his supper. When Legolas was done eating and his eyes began to drop from exhaustion and the effects of the tea, Elladan scooted behind him against the tree where he was sitting, holding the young elf against his chest and singing softly to him as the youth drifted into a dreamless sleep, his eyes alarmingly closed, but a small smile on his face.
Elladan sighed in relief to see the smile. Now that he knew what the problem was, he would not allow the child to sink any further into grief over the twin’s own behavior. He would shower the elfling with love and affection to the extent that the young elf would probably grow sick of it, but he would repair the harm he had done. He sat for many hours that night while keeping watch over the sickened youth, pondering the many differences between the wood elves and the Noldorin elves. “And the humans think we elves are all alike,” he thought in amusement, as he settled back to enjoy holding his little brother in a rare moment of brotherly affection and comfort.
Tithen Lass: little leaf
Penneth: little one, or young one
Gwador Nin: brother
Hannon Le: thank you