I did not create nor own Legolas, Elrond, Estel/Aragorn, Glorfindel, Elladan, Elrohir, Ungoliant, Melian, Middle Earth/Arda, or Valinor. I did create Mellolaes, Idhrenohtar, and Alassien.
"Well Lord Elrond, have my fellow Silvan's services proven acceptable?"
Elrond did not look up from his scrolls. Usually, the son of Thranduil did not visit twice in one year, but he was always welcome. The chill of Autumn was as good a time as any for his sons' Half-Silvan brother to arrive. However, the Lord of Rivendell knew this time he was in for a bit of ribbing from the Woodland royal. Ah well, best to let the truth free and suffer the consequences sooner rather than later.
"Why not look out the window and see for yourself?"
Legolas grinned as he approached the sill. Laughter drifted over it. The Half-Silvan gazed out for a moment. Then his grin widened in surprise.
"They are playing 'Fawn and Wolf.'"
Elrond nodded. The younger elf leaned further out of the Lord of Imladris' office. He crossed his arms over the sloped roof beyond the sill.
The leaves of both the trees and bushes beyond seemed aflame. A breeze stirred leaves of many shades of red, orange, and gold. However, the grass beneath these was green and the air nippy in shadows, where the late afternoon light failed to warm it. The elleth outside was bent almost double as she prowled around one particular bush. A high-pitched giggle echoed from the foliage. The Silvan was smirking.
"Come out, come out little fawn. My stomach growls and I want you to join me for dinner."
"No, no! Mama doe said stay inside!"
The elleth raised an eyebrow.
"What else did she say?"
There was a five second pause before the sheepish reply came.
"Not to talk to you."
Legolas clenched his teeth together. His shoulder shook, but he did not make a sound. Even Elrond allowed a corner of his mouth to curl up as he continued to write. The elleth outside continued to prowl and growl.
"Come out, come out little manling."
"I said come out, come out!"
The "wolf" reached one paw in through the bushes. A small squeal and rustle echoed back, but her hand came back out empty. After more fruitless grabs and growled commands the wolf wandered away into the forest. Then a straight-backed, smiling elleth walked up to the same bushes before kneeling down and calling underneath them in a soft voice.
"Come out, come out, my little fawn."
A manling emerged with red and orange leaves along with a few twigs in his tangled hair and grey sweater. He grinned and reached up to the elleth.
"Here I am, mama doe."
Mellolaes picked him up and pulled the child into her lap.
"Were you a good fawn?"
"I talked to the wolf once."
"But you didn't let him get you?"
The manling shook his head with a wide grin. One leaf flew out of his hair to drift to the ground. The elleth pulled him into a hug.
"What a good little fawn you are."
Legolas smirked. Then he drew his head and arms back inside and turned towards the Lord of Rivendell. Elrond glanced up. The son of Lathwinn and Thranduil's gaze gentled.
"I think I will go out and join them."
Elrond managed to not to sigh or smile in relief. He looked back to the paper on his desk and nodded.
"That sounds quite reasonable, Thrandulion."
Legolas nodded back and strode out the doorway. When his guest had shut the door behind him, Elrond allowed himself to smile and shake his head.
"I got off too light on that one."
He rose from his desk and went to the same window The Half-Silvan had used. He gazed out upon the same scene of the elleth playing with the manling. Indeed, the youngest son of Thranduil and Lathwinn had not shared all the reasons for allowing Mellolaes to help raise Estel. Perhaps this was because Legolas did not know them himself. However, Elrond had seen them these past few months.
The Silvan seemed not to mind or even think upon the manling's mortality or how he sped through his youth like an arrow flying towards your heart. She greeted him each day with a grin and never mentioned how big he was getting. This hardly mattered. Estel noticed and proclaimed such things himself. Only then would you see a flash of pain in the Silvan's eyes. Yet, with a warm voice she assured the manling the truth in his words. This always made the child puff his chest out more and grin still wider. Elrond recalled this seemed to be an odd characteristic of the Silvans.
Unlike the Noldor and even Sindar, who had lived in the glory of the Noldor and Melian herself, they did not seem to look much back to the past, except in need. Nor did they look much to the future. While trees, animals, and even annual plants in the Silvan's wood often lived on twice or three times as long as they would elsewhere, they did not live on and on like those of Doriath and Lothlorien. They died and disintegrated to give life to that which would come after. Yet, the Silvans threw themselves into their care and enjoyed them with all their hearts while they lasted. The wood elves seemed to so fully embrace the joy, the excitement, even the pain of the moment around them, they thought not much of what lay behind and ahead. This made Silvans both obstinate and hasty when they clung to the good of the moment. They sometimes scoffed at the griefs of their High kin in a way that pressed into unhealing wounds. So much so, they themselves often regretted their own words.
"You were fools if you thought you could keep always intact your shining cities right on the doorstep of Morgoth's kingdom or even far off when he ever searched for you. Even we did not think in those days we could hold on to our woods. We ever thought when he was through with you he would swallow our lands. Yet, we fought to keep them as good as we could for as long as we could and enjoy them while they were with us and we with them. If we fell in their defense and flew to Valinor, what of it? That was the only way to get there in those days."
The Silvan bluntness stung, but the strategy expert had to admit there was logic in this speech. The reason they thought not of the consequences beforehand was also what lessened some of those consequences for them. For they dwelt not on what they had done unless it continued to affect their present. Silvans often forgave each other with a quickness that startled their kin. Elrond thought he saw this trait forming in Estel as well, and was glad of it. Mellolaes indeed taught his son to love, to grieve, to enjoy in the moment. That was good. Even as Elrond thought on these things he did not realize he had enjoyed the previous months more fully too. He would not realize this until sometime later.
. . .
Mellolaes raised her head. A smile spread over her face. She pointed over her charge's shoulder and the manling turned around. Legolas was striding up to them. Estel jumped up and raced toward the elf.
As Mellolaes rose to her feet with a smile, the blonde elf caught the manling up in his arms. He pulled the child up into something of a half-embrace, half-hold. Then Legolas grinned down into Estel's face.
"Well manling, what think you of the nurse I sent you?"
Estel's eyes widened in horror. He glanced from Mellolaes to the elf and back. Mellolaes' own eyes had widened as well. Legolas' pale brows furrowed.
What have I done now?
Estel body tensed as he stared into the face of his friend. Tears welled up in his grey eyes.
"Is . . . is Melly the nurse you sent me?"
Legolas gave a single nod.
"Of course she is. Do you not like her?"
In response, Estel bowed his head into Legolas' shoulder and began to weep. The elf's startled eyes looked back to Mellolaes. The elleth walked up to them and began to rub the manling's back.
"Hushhhhhh . . . little one. Don't be afraid. No one is angry with you."
The child answered through sobs.
"But I . . . didn't . . . want you! I . . . tried . . . to keep you . . . away!"
Legolas gave a nervous laugh. Then he bounced the child a bit.
"Well, you did not succeed!"
"But I said . . . I wanted her . . . to be . . . eaten . . . by a troll!"
Legolas froze for a moment. He was actually finding these confessions funny, but it was obvious the child was not. How could they convince the child he had done nothing wrong. The elf did not even notice when the elleth glared at him.
Don't you dare.
Mellolaes held out her arms.
"Let me have him."
Legolas glanced at her, noticed the scowl, and surrendered the manling. As soon as he was locked in her embrace, Estel stilled and lifted wet, heartbroken, repentant eyes to his nurse. A light of cunning shone in hers as she smiled down at him.
"Now what is this about trolls?"
"I just . . . I thought . . . I wouldn't . . . like you."
Mellolaes raised an eyebrow.
"And this is an excuse for wishing me eaten by trolls?"
Estel shook his head. Mellolaes gaze softened.
"Ai . . . Estel, I should have told you who I was, so this would not have happened. But you see, I was afraid if you knew, you would not like me."
Estel's eyes widened and blinked.
"But I do like you, Melly!"
"I know! We are good friends, and good friends should tell each other the truth. Now, Legolas and your ada said there was a manling here who could use another friend. I am always eager for another friend, especially a manling. So, I came."
"But I didn't want you to come."
"Because you were a servant and servants . . ."
"Don't like you?"
Estel nodded. Mellolaes lifted his chin so he would look at her.
"I. Like. Manlings. Did your father tell you that?"
"Didn't you believe him?"
"He left me with Lindir!"
Legolas hand slapped over his mouth. The elf's cheeks turned pink from repressed laughter. Mellolaes glanced at him with a dangerous glint in her eye. That sobered him enough to keep still. Then the elleth looked back to the manling.
"Sometimes, in emergencies, elves used to having plenty of time to think make bad decisions. But . . . your ada had much time and good advice to choose me!" Mellolaes attacked Estel with tickling. The boy began to scream with laughter until his tears were those of joy, not guilt. The elleth ended her attack with a tight hug, but not so tight the manling could not breathe or speak. Then she whispered into his hair, which her cheek was pressed against.
"Are you glad I came, Estel?"
The manling nodded.
"Are you sorry you wished I would not come?"
The manling slumped. His face fell.
"Then, I forgive you."
Estel's face beamed. He looked back up at his nurse.
Mellolaes return smile was as soft as her hair.
"Yes, that is the only way friends stay friends, by forgiving each other. When I do something wrong, will your forgive me?"
"Then I guess we'll stay friends."
Estel now gave her as tight a hug as his short, mortal arms could give. Mellolaes smiled over his shoulder at Legolas. He looking on with a grin. Then the elleth whispered into the manling's ear.
"Should we let Legolas play with us?"
The boy pulled away. He gave the Half-Sindar an appraising look, and then gave a nod.
"Yes!" He hopped up and waved his arms while turning towards the woods. "Come on Legolas! Let's go play!"
. . .
Idhrenohtar watched the three figures from the top of the hill. Two of the figures were nearly the same height. One had blonde hair flying behind it, the other reddish-golden-brown. The third had a head of dark hair much shorter. All three raced into the trees.
The Noldo did not smile at the sight, but neither did he scowl. If he ruled Imladris, the son of Lathwinn The Great would never have gotten to play with the heir of Isildur, let alone a far more common and wild elleth getting to nurse him. However, he did not rule Imladris, and Elrond's decisions had led to no great disaster, yet.
He was not as good a judge of manlings health as the Peredhil were, but even he could see the child had never been happier nor healthier. A few ripples had been caused by the thrown stone of the Silvan's presence, but none that had changed the shape of the shore. Life went on as usual for a soldier in Imladris, except Glorfindel and the elder sons of Elrond were more often available to train and patrol. The latter was a good thing.
Idhrenohtar did not like admitting he had been mistaken, and he was not quite ready to yet. It had only been a few months after all. A breeze blew and the autumn chill nipped at his face like a playful pup. It should have been nothing to him, and he did not shiver. However, either the drop in temperature or the very playfulness of the breeze itself brought back a memory, sad then, precious now.
He trudged over ice coated in white dust, both forms of frozen water, one from the sky, the other from the sea. Yet, smoke was on his mind. Smoke rising from a shore so close, and so far away without the timbers drifting up as ash into the sky beyond them. Bitterness rose in his heart.
"Toron nin! Your face will grow no warmer from frowning!"
He turned to meet the grinning face beside him.
"What have you to smile about?"
"Nothing much, just the fact I am going to see Arda for the first time, because I still have my brother to make sure I get there."
"You should never have tried to see Arda at all."
A touch of a growl had entered his voice. His brother had been born in Valinor, and looked it. His fairer face had never seen the dark shadows in the east. "They could not be worse than the one Ungoliant spewed out over home," the Alassien had said. Idhrenohtar shook his head. The younger elf knew nothing, which was why he had had to come too. The elfling was staring at him even now, his smile had fallen.
"We . . . we will make it . . . won't we brother?"
He turned a stare upon the fairer face. The expression on his own gentled slightly. He turned his gaze to their destination again.
"We will reach it and learn to regret doing so."
A smile spread over Alassien''s face again, which was almost wiped away by a blast of wind colder than anything either of them had felt before. Idhrenohtar took a great stride into it and to the side. His brother was sheltering behind him before realizing he was doing so.
"Be careful, Sour-face! We should take turns if we are both going to make it!"
A bitter chuckle rippled in his chest, which felt like it was freezing stiff. There was no chance of the first, small of the second, but he nodded.
"You'll take yours when we reach these cursed shores you were so keen to see."
Idhrenohtar blinked as a burst of distant laughter drifted up to him. The manling, the elf, and the elleth sounded as if they were enjoying themselves. How long had it been since he had? He used to let Alassien enjoy himself for them both. His brother had enjoyed Arda after arriving. There had been some initial disappointment he had tried not to take advantage of with many "I told you so"s. However, when the shining cities, all their own, had been built and their glory had reached its zenith, Alassien had been his joyful self. He even retained his spirit through the dark times as well, weeping over the losses and grinning over the wins. Then, after everything, he had been the one to fly back to Valinor first. Another joint laugh echoed to his ear, the elleth was loudest now. Idhrenohtar clamped down on the spark of bitterness ignited, turned and began to march to the spear-throwing range. It was his favored weapon, and a soldier must be ready at all times, especially when a Silvan was in charge of the most important manling in all the east.
. . .
"Can we three be friends forever, Legolas?"
The blond elf stopped looking at the sky and rose up on his elbows to stare at the manling straddling his chest.
"What have you asked me, mellon nin?"
"Can you, Melly, and me be friends forever, as long as Arda lasts?"
Legolas stared hard at the child. A pain flashed in his eyes so deep and sharp and quick the young mind of a mortal could not notice it. Mellolaes did. She ran a finger up the manling's spine, making it tickle and him turn to laugh at her. She grinned back down at him.
"Yes, Estel, we three can be good friends forever. As long as Arda lasts."
The child beamed at her, but Legolas' gaze asked her many questions. She let her gaze meet his just long enough to show she saw them, but did not answer. Let him ask her later, when the boy was not about. Still, for her the taste of the hour was changed.
For the first time, she saw her beloved in a new light. Here was an elf she had thought so much braver than her, and he was terrified of a pain she already knew. Well he might be, but would it destroy him? Was he ready to weather it? She hoped so, what was almost certain was he would feel it. Either he would feel Estel's loss, or she and Estel would feel his. Which would be worse? She did not like pondering that question, so she turned her attention fully back to Estel.
. . .
The elleth carried the manling back in as the sky turned purple with evening. Legolas followed a few steps behind them. Estel's mouth opened in a yawn. His already closed eyes scrunched. Legolas smiled at the sight. His grin grew gentler as the child's soft voice drifted back to him.
"Thank's for sending Melly to be my friend, Las."
A corner of the elf's mouth quirked up even as his eyes and skin glowed soft.
"You are most welcome, mellon nin."
As the child and elf closest to her heart spoke with each other, a soft feeling filled Mellolaes, one the elleth thought she would never know. This afternoon, as they three played together it had been almost like . . . but it was not. Still, it was better than anything she had hoped for in a long time. Mellolaes glanced over her shoulder at the elf. His gaze meant hers. She smiled and nodded to him.
"Indeed. Hannon le, mellon nin."
Thanks for sticking with this long story. It is over at last. However, this does not mean more adventures are not in store for Melly, Estel, and Legolas. ;) Reviews are much appreciated and often responded to.