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One Title: Your Story

A Fairy Tale, Middle-Earth style

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The Secret Pool


Animals of Middle-earth

Rating: K

Summary: The Crown Prince of Mirkwood gives his youngest brother, Legolas, lessons in the fine art of fishing.

Disclaimer: I own Balardoron. Tolkien owns Legolas. I really like Balardoron, but I could be persuaded to swap.

A/N: Legolas is ten in human years.





Legolas sat beside the Forest River, leaning against a tree trunk. The air was warm, the breeze gentle and white, fluffy clouds floated lazily across the azure sky.

Watching the river flow past him, Legolas saw a fish suddenly jump out of the water. It arched in the air, flipping its tail several times, and then it hit the water with a splash that sent a large spray of water upward. They sank together until it had blended with the river’s current, and the fish was lost to sight.

The scene made the elf smile. He leaned his head back against the tree and closed his eyes, thinking back to a day when he was an elfling, and he was taken on a fishing trip by his oldest brother, Balardoron. The two had gone far down the Forest River to a special fishing hole that the elder elf and his friends had long ago claimed as their own, referring it The Secret Pool.

Balardoron was the Crown Prince of Mirkwood and Thranduil’s second-in-command, both politically and militarily. He was also married with two sons and a daughter, all older than Legolas. As a result, he had less and less time to spend alone with his youngest brother. It had been far too long, since they had been able to engage in such a completely carefree activity together. Balardoron felt very guilty about his perceived neglect of his little brother.

Legolas had been fishing before, of course, though he was soon to learn that what he called fishing was primitive compared to the way his brother practiced the sport, which in his hands had become an art.

Legolas’s own endeavor consisted of putting a worm on a hook tied to a line that was in turn tied to a pole made from a sapling and then throwing the hooked worm in the water and waiting. He had caught fish doing it this way, but he had always envied the large string of fish Balardoron usually returned home with.

Legolas attributed the difference in location rather than the difference in technique combined with knowledge of the fish for the huge discrepancy in the amount of fish caught by each brother. It also seemed to the elfling that experience due to Balardoron’s age had something to do with it, as well. Unfortunately, that’s one thing he could do nothing about.

Balardoron had promised Legolas that he would take him fishing one day when he was older and show him the finer points of how to secure a haul to be proud of. Legolas was growing. The time to go never seemed to arrive, however, as family and duty claimed more and more of his time. The Crown Prince’s fishing forays slowed to a few treasured trips now and then.

He was not all work, by any means. He made the time to get out of the palace for picnics and horseback rides with his wife, his children and his father. He also spent time with his friends. Thranduil insisted on that. He knew that to be a good ruler, husband and father, his son needed to have a well-balanced life, as a whole. In fact, the king insisted that all of his children balance work for the realm, studious education and family obligations with the pursuit of hobbies and activities totally outside the confines of the palace and having nothing to do with it. For Balardoron that was primarily fishing, as often as he could manage it.

The two brothers were so far apart in age, Balardoron being 652 years old, as mortals count. Yet, the two were close, as were all of Thranduil’s children.

Balardoron’s wife and children were visiting some of her relatives in Lorien for a while. With obligations for his immediate family at a standstill, and matters involving the realm also at a rare momentary lull, Balardoron thought of fishing. He was about to contact some of his friends for a day at the river, when he spotted Legolas in the hallway and decided that now was the perfect time to take his little brother with him instead. They would leave in the morning.

The elder prince did not find it the least bit strange that on one of his coveted days of freedom, he would want to spend it with a small, inquisitive and very energetic sibling.

Legolas was so excited, he hardly slept at all that night. His anticipation was growing with each passing moment.

The elfling was dressed and knocking on Balardoron’s door before the sun rose. The elder prince, used to the excitement of his own children, when they were younger and were looking forward to some special activity, was not the least surprised. He would have been amazed, if he had needed to go and fetch Legolas.

As he dressed, Balardoron found himself anxious to be taking his little brother to The Secret Pool. He fervently hoped that none of his friends would take that day to go there, as well. He wanted it to be just him and Legolas enjoying this special place together.

The oldest and youngest of Mirkwood’s princes stopped by the kitchen on their way out and obtained some fruit, cheese and bread to go with the fish they would catch for their mid-day meal.

The brothers walked, rather than rode, to the river and then made their way downstream, enjoying the beauty of the sparkling water, as it flowed beside them. The sky was cloudless, and the bright sunshine kissed the land with its golden warmth. Being wood-elves, they loved the natural world in all its forms and moods. However, this day was so glorious that neither could imagine Ilúvatar creating one any more perfect.

~*~*~

It took almost an hour for the brothers to arrive at Balardoron‘s special spot. Legolas was happily impressed, when they finally arrived. He stood and stared, as the wind played with his silken hair that fell just below his shoulders.

A pool had been formed by large rocks at the edge of the river, catching and gently holding the water outside of the main current. The fact the water in the pool moved slowly in and out allowed fish to come in and eat, rest or hide before moving back out into the main body of flowing water. At least, that is what Balardoron explained to his curious little brother, who had wanted to know why fish traveling out in the river would come to this small sheltered pool that led nowhere.

Balardoron had pointed out that the overhanging branches of several trees kept the pool shaded and relatively cool even on the hottest of days. The rocks provided shelter, as well as places for the kind of creatures that the fish ate to flourish. The fish loved that, the older elf explained.

Balardoron had brought two poles much more sophisticated than the simple sapling pole Legolas normally used. So after Legolas had dug up a number of worms and put them in a small container of dirt, Balardoron patiently showed his young brother the correct way to put a worm on the hook and how to use the pole properly.

Sitting side by side on the bank, watching the water intently, the two brothers spoke quietly with each other. The conversation started with a lesson on the nature of fish and how to outsmart them. Balardoron told Legolas how to anticipate and then exploit their natural tendencies. “Think like a fish,” he told the raptly-attentive elfling.

Legolas sat with his face screwed up in an expression that Balardoron could only guess was an attempt to follow that advice. He held back a laugh, not wanting to discourage his brother or to make it appear he was making fun of him. He wasn’t. It was just that the look on Legolas’s face was so funny. The Crown Prince smiled, thoroughly enjoying the moment. Legolas was basically a happy child, and despite the growing Shadow in the woodland realm, Balardoron found much happiness in his own life.

Just as he had not found it a strange idea to spend time with a young child, he was happy to note that this child did not find it strange to spend time with him, a much older adult sibling.

After a few moments of Legolas’s attempt to think like a fish, he frowned. “I do not think I am doing this right. They do not seem to understand me, and I certainly do not understand them.”

Balardoron couldn’t hold back a laugh at that. Using his pet name for Legolas, he said, “Keep trying, little Greenleaf. Think about being a fish, who has come to this pool. What would you want to do here? Answer that, and you will know what they are thinking.”

Legolas continued to scrunch his face up in total concentration. Then, a few moments later, he smiled and moved his pole. There was a large rock that itself hung over a smaller one, forming a small hollow beneath it. Legolas dangled the line, so that the worm hung right beside the dark hollow. But to his consternation, doing that did not seem to be working. The worm just hung there untouched.

Then, it dawned on the young elf that worms wiggled. So he jerked the line up and down several times. It took only a few seconds before the elfling felt a pull on his pole. “I have one!” he shouted in glee, turning a huge grin on his brother.

Balardoron’s smile matched that of Legolas’s. He reached out and gently pulled the fish up out of the water. Noting that the scaly creature was securely on the hook, he pulled it toward him, grasping the line firmly.

The fish dangled quietly for a moment, as if in shock at finding itself out of the water, and then it began to flip its tail back and forth franticly, sending sprays of water over both elves.

Legolas giggled and then grabbed the fish, holding tight to it while it tried to get loose. Once the fish’s movements slowed, Legolas carefully took the hook out of its mouth. With one hand holding the fish’s head and the other holding its tail, he held it up to see for himself and also to show his brother exactly what he had caught. The silver-blue fish was clearly a good foot long. Seeing the huge smile on Leoglas’s face from this one small achievement alone was worth the whole trip to Balardoron. “It is the largest fish I have ever caught!” Legolas declared triumphantly. “Ada will be proud of me.”

“Yes, he will. Just as I am.”

Legolas set the fish down in a bucket that Balardoron had brought and filled with river water. He had explained that they would need to keep the fish they caught alive until they returned home, insuring they would be the freshest they could be.

The young wood-elf turned to his oldest brother, sitting on the grassy bank, and hugged his neck. “Thank you, Bal.” Legolas had not been able to pronounce the name Balardoron, when he was much younger, and so just shortened it to Bal. He used that term less and less, as he grew and wanted to use his brother‘s proper name. However, there were times, like this very private one and times when he got excited, that the abbreviated version slipped out.

The Crown Prince returned the hug, squeezing his brother affectionately. “You are quite welcome, Little Greenleaf.”

“I did just as you said and thought just like that fish did. I knew that it would want something to eat, and I thought it would want to keep my worm a secret from the other fish, so I put the worm close to the bottom of the rock for just that fish to see. And when I wiggled it up and down, the fish did see it and grabbed it.”

“You are a very smart elfling, Legolas. Not everyone would have thought of that.”

Balardoron’s praise was worth more to Legolas than a whole river full of fish. He was smiling broadly, as he hugged his brother again and then sat back down to put another worm on his hook just the way Balardoron had taught him.

Both of these sons of Thranduil continued to fish.

When the sun rode high overhead, Balardoron pulled his pole out of the water and set it down beside him. By that time, Legolas had caught three more fish. “Would you like for us to prepare one of your fish for our mid-day meal?”

Legolas looked horrified. “Oh no! I have to take all of my fish home to show Ada.”

Balardoron smiled. “Then we can cook one of mine.”

“No,” Legolas wailed again. “I want to show Ada that I caught the most fish. We must take them all back.” He knew exactly which fish were his and which were his brother’s.

The elder elf smirked. “Oh. So you think the student can catch more fish than the teacher, do you?”

“I do,” Legolas replied smugly. “You taught me very well.”

“All right then. Let us eat the fruit, cheese and bread we brought, and then we will see who can catch the most fish,” Balardoron suggested, accepting the challenge.

The young elfling nodded, and the brothers happily shared their small but delicious meal.

By the time the sun was dropping low in the sky, the two princes together had caught fourteen fish. Only two of them were not large enough to keep and eat and were thus released back into the river to continue their journey toward the Anduin.

Both of the small fish had been Legolas’s, so it was that he ended up with only five in the bucket while Balardoron had seven. However, the elder elf quickly pointed out that Legolas had really caught the same number of fish as he had. That notion pleased the elfling, because no matter where the fish ended up, bucket or river, he had actually caught seven fish on his hook.

~*~*~

As Legolas had thought, his father had been extremely proud of his youngest child for becoming such an ‘expert’ fisherman so quickly. He also took a moment to thank his eldest son for what he had done for Legolas. “He will not soon forget this day.”

“Nor will I. I loved every moment of it,” Balardoron admitted. “He is an amazing child, Adar, and I truly believe that one day he will do great things.”

The evening meal that night had consisted of both fried and baked fish, and Legolas, sampling both, thought it was the best meal he had ever eaten in all his life.

The young elf was grinning broadly, when he went off to bed an hour later, his family‘s praise still ringing in his ears.

~*~*~

Legolas was smiling at the memory of that day so long ago. It was still as vivid as when he and his brother had caught those fish. One day soon, he thought, he and Balardoron would have to go back to that secret spot onthe river together and have another go at the fish there. He was sure that this time, he would win the fish-catching contest.

Th young warrior was still smiling when he stood up and headed back to the stronghold. Realm business was becoming. Legolas looked back over his shoulder at the river and sighed wistfully. The fish would have to wait a little while longer.

~End~

Ada - Dad or Daddy

Adar - Father

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