Disclaimer: LOTR belongs to the creative genius of JRR Tolkien, not me.

Braids of Gold

"Good morning, my little Prince," said the Queen of Mirkwood as she entered her son's room and sat on the end of his bed. "Come, it is time you were out of there, I hope you have not forgotten that we are going riding after breakfast?"

"No, I remembered," Said a muffled voice from beneath the covers, " but I am not feeling very good this morning, can we go another time?"

"Of course." She answered pulling back the covers so that she could see his face. "You appear to be in perfect health to me," she said wondering what was really wrong. Then she noticed his hair. His golden blonde locks had somehow become a matted mess. "What happened to your hair?" she asked. Legolas could not look her in the eye as he mumbled something she did not quite hear.

"What did you say?"

"Nothing" he replied. The Queen ignored the obvious lie, for she could see that her son was both upset and embarrassed.

Collecting his hairbrush from the dresser, she sat on the stool in front of it and beckoned for him to sit beside her. It was with great reluctance that he obeyed, for he hated having his hair brushed, even by his beloved mother.

"Legolas, will you please sit still?" asked the Queen of Mirkwood for the third time in as many minutes. She was attempting to brush the knots out of his hair, a difficult task made more so by his unwillingness to stop squirming. "Honestly, I have never seen your hair in such an unruly state, are you sure that you did not let one of the birds make a nest in it last night?"

"Ouch! No I did not," he replied, not really sure if he wanted to tell her how his hair came to be such a mess. No matter how gentle she tried to be, some of the more stubborn knots pulled, almost bringing tears to his eyes. Finally the 'torture' was over and the brush ran smoothly through the straightened locks of golden silk.

"That is much better," said the Queen, admiring her handiwork, not to mention the fair features of her child. To her mind, Legolas was not just handsome, like his father, but his inner beauty was reflected in his face, even more so than is usual for an Elf.

"Yes, but I think you must have pulled most of my hair out," he complained, checking in the mirror to see if he had suddenly become bald. The Queen laughed and drew him into a hug.

"Do not be so silly. Will you please tell me what happened? I can feel you are troubled by something. Surely there is nothing you can not tell your mother?" Not wanting to hurt her feelings, Legolas quickly explained.

"I was trying to put warrior's braids in my hair, but I kept getting it wrong." He admitted, relieved that he was now telling the truth.

"Oh, I see. I suppose that although it is many years hence before you will be allowed to wear them, you must learn how to do it."

"It is not that many years away!" he protested. "Then I will be able to hunt spiders and Orcs as well."

"All in good time" she said, in no hurry to see him become involved in the war with the evil in Mirkwood. The thought of the day when he would kill his first living thing broke her heart. "However, since we certainly do not want to have to disentangle your hair every morning, I will teach you how to braid your hair." Legolas watched in fascination as his mother deftly plaited his hair in the style of warriors. "Now you do my hair like that," she said to him, "it is much easier to plait another's hair than your own."

Eager, yet gentle young hands collected the strands of his mother's hair and soon he had mastered the technique. Undoing the braids in his own hair, he tried to do his own hair again, this time with much more success. He smiled radiantly as he admired his accomplishment in the mirror. "Look, Mother. I can do it!" he said as he threw his arms about her neck and squeezed tightly.

"Yes, you will make a very fine looking warrior one day." She said, placing a kiss on each of his braids. "But are you sure you do not feel like a riding lesson this morning?"