In Your Image|
Legolas could hardly contain his excitement as their company began their descent into the Valley of Imladris. They had been on the road for days—from the Greenwood’s Forest Road, across the Anduin, and then up into the Hithaeglir.
He had never traveled this far West. Father had let him travel to the settlements near the Long Lake but he had never been this far from Eryn Galen before. This was his first diplomatic mission, as King Thranduil’s representative to Imladris. It had taken years of steady persuasion, on his part and Galion’s, before his father had agreed to let his only child make this trip.
Legolas had risen to the rank of Captain, far more rapidly than Thranduil had liked, but his tactical mind and ferocious skills with blades and bow had made that swift rise inevitable. He commanded his own unit, was part of the elite commanding officers of the Greenwood’s army, yet to his dismay he had never traveled outside the boundaries of his father’s kingdom.
Not to the Golden Wood, not to Imladris and certainly not to the Havens. Legolas had chafed for years at this isolation, arguing that Thranduil had not been subject to such stringent restrictions in his youth.
“Interacting with the outside world is how I lost my father and became King,” Father had said, at the end of one of their more heated conversations on the matter. That had silenced Legolas and it was many years before he brought the subject up again.
Thranduil had always been the one to venture to Imladris and Lothlorien, only a handful of times in all the years of Legolas’ life. The Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood had come to Eryn Galen when he himself was still an infant—he could not recall that visit, although his mother thought on it fondly, from the stories she would still tell.
The Lord and Lady of Imladris had come when he was still young, bringing their three children with them. He had not had much use for the littlest one at first but she proved to be quite a persistent child. He had to admit he had been flattered when she had taken to following him around, begging to have him show her how he walked in the trees. Arwen had been so disappointed when he had gently refused, worried her parents would object to the wild Silvan ways and the risk of having her try to learn them.
He had managed to distract her with a promise to explore the caves—she was delighted to see the depths of Eryn Galen’s storage cellars and barrel drop, so different from her own home.
Her brothers had been less engaging. Older than Legolas, they had been in that awkward stage between childhood and coming of age, yearning to be counted with the warriors and adults and unwilling to engage in pursuits they deemed too childish for their years. They had interacted little with Legolas, content to have him take the entertainment of their sister off their hands.
He had attempted to interact with them—with archery practice, swimming in the river, exploring the forest near their halls. But they had never seemed to warm up to him the way Arwen had. Perhaps having a younger sibling did that to you. Legolas wouldn’t know.
No matter. It had been many years since that visit. His attention and focus was to be on Elrond anyway.
Although. . . he knew this was childish but he was most excited to meet Glorfindel, the legendary warrior of Gondolin. To his dismay, Glorfindel had not been among Elrond’s company when they had visited Eryn Galen all those years ago.
His elation at finally being allowed to head a delegation and leave the vastness of the Greenwood had been expanded by the realization that Imladris would be his destination. Not only would he get to see the famed refuge but he would also get a chance to meet the legendary Elves who made it their home—Elrond, Celebrian, Glorfindel and Erestor.
Even though he had met Elrond and Celebrian before as a youth, he was now coming to them as an adult, an equal—that in itself was a daunting prospect. Coupled with meeting Glorfindel, the Balrog-slayer himself, and Erestor of Himring, companion to the sons of Fëanor—Legolas was restless with anticipation.
“Settle down,” Galion growled, from next to him.
The only part of the whole mission that still galled him was the fact that his father had sent Galion with him. As if he needed a watcher!
He glared at Galion. “I’m fine,” he said.
“You’re twitchy. You look like a moonstruck maid. Get yourself together. It’s just a valley, like any other and these are just Noldor. You’re meeting Elrond, not one of the bloody Valar!” Galion replied.
That successfully wiped the smile off Legolas’ face. Galion was such a killjoy.
He had known him all his days, of course. Originally one of his grandfather’s elite guards, his father’s best friend and his own personal watcher since he took his first steps—Legolas had never known life without Galion grumbling somewhere nearby.
Galion had long ago taken over as seneschal for Thranduil, his reasons for leaving his warrior life behind known only to him and to his King.
Even though he had long ago ceased to officially be Legolas’ minder, Galion had taken it upon himself to continue in an unofficial capacity, with Thranduil turning a blind eye to it when Legolas complained.
He had been sorely tempted to question Galion’s presence among his company when Thranduil had announced it but he thought better of it; he wouldn’t risk anything--not even Galion’s annoying company—spoiling his first diplomatic mission.
He could tell his father had been prepared for him to object to Galion’s inclusion and his polite (but inwardly seething) response had set just the right tone with Thranduil.
Despite Galion’s comments Imladris certainly was not just any valley. Legolas reveled in the early afternoon’s light glinting from the many waterfalls, the majestic trees rising above them, the delicate architecture of the dwellings just ahead of them, deep in the valley itself.
Horsemen were approaching from those dwellings, a much smaller company than their own. Legolas’ heart raced as he caught sight of their leader, golden-haired, astride a brilliant white horse. Glorfindel!
“He’s not one of the bloody Valar either,” Galion muttered at his side, but Legolas ignored him, his eyes focused on the Elf who approached.
“Hail and well met,” the golden-haired warrior called out as he slowed his mount to meet their delegation. A wide, warm smile creased his face. He ducked his head at Legolas. “Do I have the pleasure of addressing Prince Legolas Thranduillon of Eryn Galen?” he asked.
“You do, my lord,” Legolas replied, inclining his head in turn. “Mae Govannen. Do I have the honor of addressing Lord Glorfindel?” Legolas kept his eyes fixed on the Elf in front of him, ignoring Galion’s snort at his side.
“That you do, my Prince, but the honor is all mine. I welcome you in the name of Elrond of Imladris.”
“Legolas will do fine, my lord,” Legolas replied, his voice steady but the excitement rippling through him as he spoke. “We are most grateful for the hospitality.”
“It is simply Glorfindel. Follow us then. You have doubtless had a long and weary journey. You shall find accommodations when we reach the House.” He turned his stallion away from Legolas, his companions following suit.
Legolas had noted the two who rode on either side of him. Dark hair, identical faces betraying no emotion, and matching slate grey eyes; those must be the sons of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir. They had changed in the long years since he had seen them last—taller, broader, the planes of their faces sharp, their eyes wary and distant. No matter. He wasn’t here for them, he reminded himself.
Hours later, rested, refreshed and wearing more formal attire, Legolas drifted onto the balcony of his room and took in the sight of Imladris at sunset. Glorfindel had immediately put them in Erestor’s care on their arrival at the House. Legolas had no time to be overwhelmed by Elrond’s chief counsellor. Erestor briskly and matter-of-factly introduced himself, sent stableboys running to care for their mounts and had then whisked them to their appointed accommodations in no time.
“Elrond will greet you in his study before the evening meal, my Prince. You have been long on the road—take the time so you and your men can settle in. I will find you and bring you to Elrond when it is time.” With a swift nod of his head Erestor had disappeared, shutting the door to Legolas’ room behind him.
A knock at his door brought Legolas off the balcony, to find Erestor waiting in the hall, to escort him to Elrond as promised. He was gratified to see he would be meeting with Elrond alone—there was no sign of Galion.
Legolas could not help casting sidelong glances at Erestor as they walked, still in awe at being in the presence of an Elf who had seen the light of the Two Trees and lived through the tumult of the First Age. He had seen the Valar. He had known Fëanor. He had sailed on the swan ships of the Teleri.
And burned them, his mind added grimly. Perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to dwell on that time, he thought to himself.
Erestor caught the younger Elf’s glances but said nothing. He was casting his own surreptitious looks in Legolas’ direction. It was uncanny how much Legolas resembled both Oropher and Thranduil.
Thranduil himself had been a near perfect copy of Oropher, just without the legendary fiery temper. On the surface at least, Thranduil was cool, reserved and distant—at least he had seemed so at every encounter Erestor had with him. But maybe that was just due to Erestor himself and his . . . associations—first the Fëanorions and then Gil-Galad—neither well loved by the House of Oropher.
It would be interesting to see if Legolas had Oropher’s fierce temperament or Thranduil’s cold, reserved one.
Elladan and Elrohir had watched Erestor direct Legolas’ to their father’s study. “Why do you think Thranduil sent him this time, instead of coming himself, ‘Dan?” Elrohir asked his brother, as they made their way to their rooms. “Father hasn’t let us go on any diplomatic missions yet and he’s younger than us!” he added indignantly.
Elladan frowned. “I wonder if it’s not just a diplomatic mission.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Elladan’s frown deepened. “Maybe Thranduil is interested in forming an alliance.”
Elrohir grunted. “Could you be a little clearer. What kind of alliance? An alliance against what exactly?”
“Not that kind of alliance, ‘Ro. An alliance of our families. I wonder if Thranduil wishes to convince Father to marry Arwen off to his son.”
“You think that is why he sends Legolas, instead of coming himself?” Elrohir’s face darkened. “She’s far too young for anything like that.”
“She’s not and you know it. It’s bound to come up sooner or later. The Prince of Eryn Galen would be a likely match,” Elladan pointed out.
“I don’t like it.”
“It’s not like you know him at all,” Elladan said.
“No, but we’ve heard enough about his family. His grandfather was a reckless, angry man. I’d hate for Arwen to have to deal with someone like that,” Elrohir looked at his brother. “And his father is scarcely better—I heard he buys out the Dorwinion vintages each year. A drunk would make a lousy mate.”
Elladan looked thoughtful. “I’m more concerned about his temperament than his drinking. Thranduil is a cold one. If his son is the same it will be a dismal life for Arwen, deep in those Halls with an icy and distant husband. She’s too open and cheerful for that.”
The brothers walked in silence for a few moments.
“There’s just one thing to do,” Elrohir said.
“What’s that? We can’t just ask him if that’s what he’s up to. He may not even know that’s Thranduil’s plan,” Elladan replied.
“We feel him out. I’ll be next to him at dinner. I can see if he’s as big a drinker as Thranduil. You can try to get him riled up and see if he’s temperamental like Oropher,” Elrohir explained.
Elladan nodded. “And then we can have Arwen steer clear if it looks like he’s a bad deal.”
Ehrohir nodded back, the mirror image of his brother. “Exactly. Father will never force her into something she doesn’t want.”
Legolas had conveyed his father’s greetings, his messages and his concerns to Elrond in their brief meeting before the evening’s feast. He had fulfilled his mission on his own, without any meddling by Galion, who remarkably had not managed to ferret out Legolas’ location.
Legolas agreed to meet with the Lord of Imladris again, the next day, with Erestor and Glorfindel in attendance, to speak in further detail of his father’s plans and to discuss issues that were of concern to Elrond. All in all, it had been a good meeting and Legolas was looking forward to the famed Hall of Fire for music and tales after the meal.
He and Elrond walked together, to join the others at the feast. “You likely remember my sons from our visit to your halls long ago,” Elrond said, a smile coming over his face. “But I am sure you will find Arwen much changed.”
Legolas’ laughed, his shoulders unconsciously relaxing as he did. “I expect she has little interest in learning how to tree-walk anymore,” Legolas said.
“She might surprise you,” Elrond said. “I must thank you again for not indulging that particular whim of hers. She would have gotten herself into much trouble and given you a headache for certain,” He gave Legolas a sidelong look. “Although she has finally gotten her wish, to be up in the treetops—Lothlorien utilizes flets and she spends much time there, with her grandparents.”
“I look forward to seeing her again,” Legolas said.
A thoughtful look crossed Elrond’s face as he studied the smiling young Elf. Despite the uncanny resemblance to his father and grandfather, Legolas had a much more open demeanor and cheerful disposition than they did.
He wondered if his daughter would be as entranced by the adult Legolas as she had been by the youngster. It would be something to consider and discuss with Celebrian. Their daughter was of age now—it would not be unheard of for her to find a mate at this age. She could do far worse than the Prince of Eryn Galen. If he was truly as pleasant and even-tempered as he seemed Elrond could get quite used to that idea.
He would not rearrange the seating for tonight—Legolas was to be seated by Celebrian at table with Arwen at Elrond’s side. It would be good for Celebrian to get a read on the young man. Arwen could escort him to the Hall of Fire—that would be a better opportunity for conversation anyway. Satisfied with his plans, Elrond continued to make polite conversation with Legolas as he drew him to his seat.
The meal had been a pleasant enough occasion, Legolas thought as he took a token sip of his wine. The Lady Celebrian had been enchanting and a very welcome dinner companion. The same could not be said for Elrohir, who was seated on Legolas’ other side.
He had said very little and had been more concerned with keeping Legolas’ wine glass filled than actually talking to him. Legolas was not a devotee of red wine and he was weary of politely sipping it.
“Is the wine not to your liking?” Elrohir asked, one eyebrow raised inquiringly.
Legolas was surprised at being addressed, after enduring silence from him for so long. “No, it’s lovely,” he said politely, forcing himself to take another tiny sip.
Elrohir eyed him speculatively. “I would have thought you would be partial to Dorwinion’s vintages,” he said.
“As I said, it is a lovely wine,” Legolas repeated politely, a bit puzzled at the conversation.
“Is your father not fond of the Dorwinion reds?”
“He is,” Legolas admitted, still not sure where this line of questioning was going.
“It is hard to obtain enough for our feasts,” Elrohir continued. “I hear they ship almost all their inventory exclusively to Eryn Galen.”
“Your point being what exactly?” Legolas asked, his voice a little sharper than he intended.
“That Thranduil has a legendary appetite for their production,” Elrohis said, raising an eyebrow again.
Legolas did not like the implication he read in the Noldo’s tone. How dare he make such an insinuation about his father?
Elrohir continued, apparently undaunted by the expression crossing Legolas’ face. “Am I to understand you do not share his fondness? I assumed like father, like son.”
“I am not my father,” Legolas said tersely. “I do not find the flavor of the red appealing.” His eyes narrowed as he continued. “As far as my father’s ‘fondness’ for the vintage—it is a fondness shared by many in the Greenwood. Unlike the table of Imladris, the Halls of Eryn Galen serve the same wine to their King as they do to his people. As we have so many loyal subjects we need to provide an adequate supply of wine for all—far more than your Homely House requires, for my father is not stingy with his bounty and we have many more inhabitants than you do here.” Legolas’ eyes had grown as cold as his tone.
“Forgive me for my assumptions then, Prince Legolas,” Elrohir said with a brief nod.
Legolas looked down at his plate. He was seething. How dare this golodh speak to him this way and impugn his father’s reputation.
He did not notice the dark look Celebrian gave her son, nor Elrohir’s flush at his mother’s silent censure. Celebrian gently placed her hand on Legolas’ forearm. “We are so happy to have you join us this time, Legolas. Not that I don’t miss the chance to see your father, for it has been far too long since he has joined us, but it is a joy to finally have you here.”
“It is my pleasure, my lady Celebrian,” Legolas said politely. “I cannot tell you how long I have looked forward to visiting your lovely realm.”
“And you shall enjoy your time here, I promise,” she said. “I will arrange to have you get the full tour before you time to depart.”
“I would appreciate that,” he replied.
She would have words with Elrohir. What in Arda had possessed her son to be so impolite and downright rude to their guest? The young prince had behaved with great restraint—far greater than Elrohir would have exhibited had been subject to the same treatment. A fact she would point out to her son in great detail.
Legolas may look like Thranduil and Oropher but he was far better at keeping his temper in check than poor Oropher had ever been. And he was far less cutting in his replies than Thranduil would have been.
Interesting. It seemed he had more of his mother in him than looks would show.
Legolas found himself escorted to the Hall of Fire by Arwen. He had greeted her at the start of the meal, his eyes lighting up as he realized who she was. She had answered back in polite tones that matched his own but her eyes had danced with mischief when they met his.
She leaned close now as they walked, to whisper “I have not forgiven you, you know.”
Legolas looked startled. “For what? How have I offended you, my lady?”
Arwen smiled at him. “You never did teach me to walk in the trees like you!”
Legolas beamed at her. “I was sure you would have forgotten that by now.”
“Not forgotten, nor forgiven. I had such a hard time sleeping in the flets in Lothlorien the first time I went to visit Grandmother and it is all your fault!” Arwen said, her laughing eyes and face contradicting her words.
“You know, you’re never too old to learn. . .” Legolas said boldly.
Her eyes widened. “Would you really?”
“I was just teasing.” Legolas started, his voice fading at her look. “You weren’t though, were you?”
“No, I’m not joking,” She leaned even closer to him. “I heard Mother promise you a full tour. I’ll volunteer to show you around but you have to promise me you will show me how to tree walk!”
“And if I don’t?” he asked, a teasing smile on his face.
“I’ll make sure you are stuck with Elrohir all day.” There was an unmistakable smirk on her face.
“Did you even eat dinner or did you just eavesdrop on my conversations the whole time?” Legolas asked.
She raised an eyebrow. “There was nothing else to entertain me.” She tugged on his arm as they entered the Hall and she chose a spot for them in an alcove near the hearth. “So is it a deal or do I tell mother it would be the perfect punishment for Elrohir’s behavior tonight?”
“It seems to me I would be the one being punished!” Legolas protested.
“Not if you choose to spend the day with me. What is your answer?” Arwen persisted.
There was no way he could refuse, not when she was looking at him like that. There were far worse ways to spend a day than in the company of Arwen Undomiel. “Fine. I promise,” he conceded. “But I tell you, you must listen to me and do as I say. I imperil the alliance of Imladris and Eryn Galen if I let anything happen to you.” He frowned at Elladan and Elrohir, who were lurking nearby and casting dark looks of their own in his direction. “And your brothers will most likely have my blood if one hair on your head is harmed,” he added, in a lower voice.
“Oh don’t be such a spoilsport. Maybe you should spend the day with Elrohir after all.” She bumped his shoulder as he shook his head at her.
“I’m sure I’m going to regret this,” he said.
It seemed he would not get to spend the day with Arwen after all. As arranged, Erestor approached him after breakfast to request his presence in Elrond’s study. An emissary from the Havens had arrived late in the night and Elrond thought that Legolas should join their council and add his report from the Greenwood.
It was early afternoon by the time he left Elrond’s chambers and Arwen was nowhere to be found. He did run into a grumpy Galion, who fussed at not being part of either of his meetings with Elrond.
“This is my appointed task to carry out, Galion. Just because you still think of yourself as my nursemaid doesn’t mean you still are.” Legolas was proud of how he was handling his role and duties. Other than the brief unpleasantness with Elrohir he was enjoying the experience immensely.
“I’m off to the archery range,” Legolas informed Galion. “Glorfindel said I was welcome to join their ranks while I was here and I intend to take full advantage of that offer.” He left Galion grumbling to himself about jumped up Elflings and went to his room to change and grab his bow and quiver.
As expected Imladris’ Captain was already at the training fields and welcomed Legolas warmly.
Glorfindel joined him at the archery range and they soon were shooting at targets together. Glorfindel eyed the young archer, impressed by his skill and surety.
“The archers of the Greenwood have long been the envy of Imladris. We do well with spear and sword but your archers have ever been superior,” Glorfindel admitted.
“It is hard to master spear or sword in the close quarters of a forest battleground,” Legolas said, basking in the praise from this renowned warrior. “Our bows serve us well and our knives as the need arises.”
“So you think little of sword skills then?” A voice said from behind Legolas. He turned to find the Peredhel twins had approached.
Legolas took a deep breath. He was a guest and was owed a certain courtesy but he would take the high road and not let their barbed comments irk him today. “To each his own,” he said, politely inclining his head to acknowledge them. “I have studied bow, knives, spear and sword. But in our forest patrols the bow and knives serve our needs best.”
“So you are skilled with the sword, you say.” The other twin now spoke. Legolas could not tell if it was Elladan or Elrohir, so alike they were.
“I have some experience,” Legolas conceded.
“Elladan, what are you at?” Glorfindel broke in, eyeing the sons of Elrond warily.
“I was just inquiring, Glorfindel. It is not often we have the opportunity to spar with our friends from the Greenwood,” Elladan looked at the warrior innocently. “You matched your skills with his in archery. I can claim less skill in that than you.” He smiled now but Legolas saw it did not reach his eyes. “I thought perhaps to set my sword against yours, Prince Legolas.”
“Legolas is fine,” Legolas said curtly, narrowing his eyes at the twins.
“Elladan that is not fair,” Glorfindel interjected. “You are quite the expert swordsman and Legolas has clearly told you that is not his weapon of choice.” Glorfindel’s tone was stern.
“I meant no disrespect to the Prince, Glorfindel,” Elladan said smoothly. “I assumed Legolas would share his father’s affinity for swords.”
“As I made clear to your brother but have not yet had the chance to make clear to you—I am not my father.” Legolas words were clipped, his tone brusque. “I wish I had half my father’s skill with swords or my grandfather’s with the spear, but that has not proved to be my strength.” He narrowed his eyes at Elladan. “But I would gladly spar with knives, if you are so inclined.” The smile he gave Elladan was fierce and far from friendly.
“There is no need, Legolas,” Glorfindel said, glaring openly at Elladan now. “It would be a waste of your time. We spend so much time on horseback on our patrols that we do not train as you do with knives—we can get the job done but profess no skill in it.” He looked pointedly at Elladan. “So unless you wish to school a mediocre pupil, I would advise you not to waste your time. You could best Elladan with one hand tied behind your back, I am sure.”
Elladan made to protest but Glorfindel cut him off with a gesture of his hand.
“I have no wish to school anyone, Glorfindel,” Legolas said, his eyes on Elladan. He turned away from the twins and addressed himself directly to Glorfindel. “I would greatly appreciate a tour of your barracks and a chance to discuss training regimens. There is always something to learn from other’s experience.”
“It would be my pleasure,” Glorfindel beamed. “I wish to consult with you on your archery training protocols as well.”
“I trust you will excuse us,” Legolas said to the twins, his voice as icy as Thranduil at his coldest.
“I’m not sure what’s gotten into Elladan today,” Glorfindel said as they neared the barracks and were out of earshot of the twins. “That was discourteous of him.”
“It is of no import, Glorfindel,” Legolas said, a thoughtful look on his face. “I feel there is some test that I am not aware of, that they are putting me through. To what end I do not know.”
Thankfully he was seated between Elrond and Arwen at the evening meal and again found himself Arwen’s companion to the Hall of Fire.
“You seemed to have forgotten your lesson today, my lady,” Legolas teased, once they were seated in their alcove again.
“I have my whole day open for you tomorrow, Prince Legolas.”
“Just Legolas, please,” he responded.
“Then it’s to be just Arwen and none of this ‘my lady’, Legolas,” she said.
“As you wish,” Legolas replied. He noticed the two Elves positioning themselves at either end of their alcove. It was the twins, of course.
“It seems you are to be chaperoned, even in this Hall full of people, Arwen,” he said, motioning towards her brothers.
She glared at their tall forms but their eyes were not on her, so it had no effect on them. “Oh, they are just insufferable lately!” she fumed.
“I have a feeling that may be due to me,” Legolas said slowly. “I seem to irk them for some reason, though I cannot recall what I may have said or done to do so.”
“I can’t think why! You are polite, charming and far more tolerant of their idiocy than I would be.”
“Let’s hope they don’t come upon us during your lesson tomorrow. I have a feeling that would end poorly for us all,” Legolas said.
“Don’t you mind them,” Arwen said. “Just leave them to me.” She stood up and approached the brother on the left—it was truly impossible for Legolas to tell them apart. She tugged on her brother’s arm and pulled him over to his twin. Holding each of their arms she all but dragged them both out of the Hall.
Legolas leaned back, eyes closed, listening to the harper sing. His eyes opened as he felt a presence approach and looked up to find Arwen had returned.
“Come with me,” she ordered.
“Where are we going?”
“Just come with me. This won’t take long,” she replied.
She dragged him down a hallway and then pulled him into a room. It looked like a library—floor to ceiling books, tables and two tall Elves, matching ferocious looks on their faces.
“Now, I believe you both had something to say to Legolas?” Arwen prodded.
They both scowled at her.
“Would you prefer I get Father? Or Mother?” she asked, her voice cold.
“Arwen,” Legolas began, putting a hand on her arm.
She made a dismissive gesture and turned to her brothers, her hands on her hips. “Well?”
The twin on the left stepped forward, his grey eyes glinting at Legolas, his jaw clenched. “I am sorry if my words offended you, Prince Legolas,” he said.
Arwen cleared her throat and looked at her brother meaningfully. “Not good enough, Elladan.”
“What my brother means to say,” said the second twin, who must be Elrohir, Legolas thought. “Is that we apologize for our earlier words to you.”
Legolas looked from one to the other. The apology didn’t sound sincere at all to him but this was an awkward situation he wanted to get out of as soon as possible. Arwen was looking at him now.
“Apology accepted,” Legolas said but then he continued. “I am curious to know what exactly brought about those comments.” He genuinely looked perplexed. “I have only met you once, when we were children and try as I might I cannot recall any unpleasantness I might have caused you at that time. Have I done something to offend you both?”
Arwen directed her gaze at her brothers, curiosity in her eyes as well. “He asks a valid question.”
Uncharacteristically, the Peredhel dropped their eyes, Elladan clenching and unclenching his fists and Elrohir biting his lower lip.
“We have heard many stories,” Elrohir began. “About your father and grandfather.”
“What sort of stories?” Legolas asked, even more perplexed now.
“Your grandfather’s ferocious temper and disdain for our people,” Elladan said.
“Your father’s reputation for drinking and his haughty, cold demeanor,” Elrohir continued.
“And his distrust of the Noldor as well,” Elladan added.
“Elrohir! Elladan! Those words are unbecoming to you both,” Arwen took a step towards her brothers but Legolas stopped her.
“Let them speak, Arwen. I really want to know,” Legolas said. “What has any of that to do with me?” Legolas asked the twins. “I have told you more than once that I am not my father. I do not say that because I am in any way ashamed—quite the opposite—there is no one I respect or admire more, no one I wish to emulate more. But that still does not make me him. I am not his copy. I am my own person—with my own likes and dislikes, my own skills, my own temperament and my own faults.” He scowled at both of the brothers. “I am content to be judged on my own character but I will not tolerate assumptions or disparagement of my father.” He looked from one to the other. “You do not know me. You do not seem to care to discover who I am, having deemed me a poor replica of my father.” Legolas drew himself up as tall as he could, still shorter than these arrogant, proud Noldor but he didn’t care. “I would be proud to be compared to my father if there were not such disdain in your words. You do him no justice, for you do not know him either, by your words. As you have no interest in correcting any of your misguided assumptions I will accept your apology and leave you to your pursuits.” He nodded at them stiffly and turned to leave, his heart pounding and a roaring in his ears, anger at these arrogant golodh overtaking him.
“Legolas!” It was one of the twins.
He turned and looked at him expectantly.
“Truly, I’m sorry. I acted like a complete ass,” Elladan stood in front of him, face flushed and looking somehow younger.
“We just assumed you’d be different than you are. It was wrong of us to think that and treat you as we did,” Elrohir added.
“But you’d met me,” Legolas said.
“That was long ago. You were just a child,” Elrohir said. “It doesn’t excuse anything, of course, but we had to be sure what kind of person you were.”
“To what end?” Legolas asked, still unable to understand their reasoning.
“I wasn’t going to let my sister marry just anyone,” Elladan said. “I had to know if you had a temperament that would make her unhappy, so I could put a stop to it before it was too late.”
“Marry?” Legolas stared at the twins.
“What on earth are you talking about Elladan? Who said I was going to marry Legolas?” Arwen interrupted. “Have you both gone mad?”
“Well, what other reason would Thranduil have to send him here like this? You’ve come of age and all of sudden the Prince of Mirkwood comes on a ‘diplomatic mission’? What were we supposed to think?” Elrohir snapped.
“You both have gone mad,” Arwen said. “Legolas let me apologize for these fools I happen to be burdened with as brothers.”
“We were just looking out for you!” Elladan snarled, turning on her now.
“Enough!” Legolas’ voice cut through the siblings sniping. “I have no idea how you jumped to the conclusion that I was here to seek your sister’s hand in marriage. It is nothing of the sort.” His eyes darted to Arwen, a worried crease on his forehead. “Not that you aren’t lovely and wonderful and most certainly a joy to be around,” he said hurriedly, fearing he’d offended her. “But I’ve had no thoughts of marriage to anyone, let alone your sister, marvelous though she may be.” He darted another look at Arwen and was relieved to see she seemed to be amused now. He groaned and sat down in one of the nearby chairs. “I was just so excited Father was finally letting me get out of Eryn Galen and I was being allowed to actually go somewhere!”
“So he sent you here just as his representative?” Elladan asked.
“Yes,” Legolas said. “He thought it was time for me to take on some responsibilities—he thought this would be a safe, easy first trip for me.” He put his head in his hands. “He was obviously wrong about that and so was I.”
Arwen put a hand on his shoulder. “Well, I think you’ve been doing a splendid job. I’m sorry these two idiots have made your stay here so miserable.” She looked at her brothers and tilted her head towards Legolas.
“Legolas. I’m so sorry. Really we’ve both been complete asses,” Elrohir said, his voice softer.
“I’m not going to disagree with you,” Legolas said, looking up at them both.
“Um, maybe we can try again,” Elladan said. “Let bygones be bygones?”
Legolas frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Give us a chance to get to know you, not who we assume you are?” Elrohir suggested.
“And how do you propose we do that?” Legolas asked.
“You want to go hunting with us tomorrow? Just the three of us?” Elladan asked. “It would give a chance to get to know each other.”
“I’m not sure I trust you with him, after all this,” Arwen said. Legolas agreed with her but felt it wouldn’t be in his best interest to say so out loud.
“Fine, then you come along too, if you’re going to be that way,” Elrohir said.
“I like that idea better!” Arwen beamed at her brothers. “Legolas?”
“I’m up for it, as long as Arwen’s there to keep you two in line. Seems like that would be a full-time job,” Legolas said, with a mischievous smile at Arwen.
“You have no idea!” Arwen said.
“That’s totally not fair—we cover for you more than you even cover for us.”
“As if you don’t need to be watched.”
“You’re the one Mother and Father worry about, not us.”
“Legolas, I think I should get you back to the Hall of Fire. Lindir is gracing us with his harp tonight and I wouldn’t want you to miss it,” Arwen pulled Legolas up by his sleeve, leaving her two fuming brothers behind. “I promise you’ll be safe with me tomorrow,” she assured Legolas.
“Not if you make me teach you how to tree walk when they are around!” he answered.
“Oh it would be such fun to have them try—they are so ungainly it would be so amusing! You know they will want to if they see us do it—they are so competitive that way!” Arwen’s laugh carried all the way back to the library.
“Do you think she’ll tell Mother?” Elladan asked.
“It’s not a question of if,” Elrohir groaned. “It is whether she already has or not.”
“If she hasn’t . . .” Elladan said.
“She’ll make it worth her while to hold her tongue.”
“I was afraid you were going to say that.”