Title: A Child's Torment

Rating: PG right now

Summary: A baby Legolas deals with his mother's death and the fact that Thranduil no longer wants him. Leads up to why Elrond and Thranduil are enemies.

Paring: none

Characters: Legolas, Lord Elrond, Elrohir, Elladan, Glorfindel, Thranduil and a person I made up named Dunthral.

This is an AU story

Special thanks to my beta Cass!!

Feedback: Please! I live for feedback with out it I shall perish in the depths of Moria... wildchild@vci.net

Disclaimer: I do not own the charters nor the people who portray them ~only if I did own Orlando Bloom and Viggio Mortensen or even Legolas and Aragorn. ~ They belong respectively to themselves and J.R.R. Tolkien. The story line however is my own.

Archiving: If you have a fic site and want it.. take it just tell me where it is going.

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Prologue

News of the Queen of Mirkwood's death traveled fast through Middle Earth. It was tragic for any creature to die but this stung deeper; not only was she an Elvin Queen but a mother as well.

Prince Legolas Greenleaf was born five summers ago, a proud addition to the royal family and a blessing to the Mirkwood elves. Great prophecies spoke of the elfling and his part in a fight against a great evil attempting to destroy Middle Earth. However after the Queen's death his future looked grim. Not only was the child suffering the loss of his mother but the loss of a father as well. It seemed Thranduil no longer wanted the prince in Mirkwood and was sending him away. How will this alter the future of Middle Earth?

Ch 1

****Flash Back*****

The Queen and her court were preparing for a short trip through Mirkwood to see to the harvest of the fruit. It grew on the outskirts of 'safety' in their kingdom and King Thranduil was not thrilled about her going, now that the giant spiders inhibited the woods but the Queen insisted. She told him that if she showed fear in the face of darkness the others would as well. Although in the end he agreed, he insisted that she took several archers along. She in turn insisted that he spend the day with the Prince. After a great deal of debate he reluctantly agreed. Oh, he was happy to have his son; it was his Kingly duty to produce an heir to the throne but it did not mean he had the tolerance of a father. He insisted that rearing a child was women's work and would be seen to as such so when the Queen took a trip, either Legolas went with her or a nanny would care for him. The only time Thranduil spent with him was either yelling at him for mischief or disciplining him for not doing something properly.

Standing outside the doors to her son's room, the Queen took a deep breath and assured herself she was doing the right thing. If Thranduil spent time with Legolas then he would grow to love the child and he truly was a child worthy of love. Sighing she opened the door and walked inside. Legolas ran to her and embraced her excited about their upcoming trip to the woods. She smiled at him, "Legolas, you will not be joining me on this trip."

He looked up at her with wide eyes, "Did I do something bad again?"

"You," she smiled, "are going to spend time with your father while I'm away."

Unsurprisingly the prince was not happy about staying with his father, "Naneth (mother) I wish to go with you."

"It is unfitting for a prince to argue with his mother," she forced back a chuckle at his indignity.

Looking up at her through long lashes, bottom lip jutted in a full pout "I'm sorry Naneth (mother), please forgive me?"

She picked him up and hugged him, "There is nothing to forgive, my son. You must understand that your father does love you; he just," she paused.

"I'm in the way," he finished for her. "I will be a good elf today, I promise."

Her mind reeled at the perception of the small child in her arms. She kissed his cheek, "You are always a good son; if a little mischievous," she teased as she tickled him. His laughter echoed throughout the palace as she carried him to the sitting room.

"For heaven sake put him down," the King snapped. "He should not be babied so!"

"Mind yourself, Thranduil," the Queen scolded loudly as she set the elfling down. "He acts as a child because he is one least you not forget it!"

Legolas scampered across the room and hid his face against the leg of Dunthral; captain of the Mirkwood guards, as his parents argued. Dunthral hid a smile as he looked down into the steel blue eyes that, to his surprise, shown bright with fear. He ruffled the prince's hair and gave him a quick wink. He liked the elfling more then he thought he should and had grown very attached to him.

"Manko? (Why)" the small voice whispered.

"Uuma dela titta er ron naa quell (don't worry little one, they are good)." Dunthral whispered back trying to ease the prince.

Before the young one could respond his father called to him, "Come here elf and stop pestering Dunthral!"

He went to his father's side, "Amin hiraetha adar (I'm sorry father.)"

Both the prince and King bid the Queen glad tidings and she left for the harvest.

*****End Flash Back*****

That was two days ago; two days since the queen was killed by a band of Orcs. The few who survived said she refused to leave her court behind and picked up the bow and quiver of a fallen archer fighting valiantly to her death.

Legolas had been summoned to the throne room by his father and told abruptly of his mother's demise. Even Dunthral was stunned by the callousness of King Thranduil. Legolas tried to be strong but emotion won over pride and the child wept uncontrollably. Everyone in the throne room bit their tongues as the prince sat on the floor crying and his father sat on the throne looking at him, offering him neither consolation nor support. Dunthral took all he could stand and scooped the elf up into his arms. He thought he was going to be banished for the breach of etiquette when Thranduil's voice rang out but he didn't care.

"Pack his things and take him to Rivendell; ask Lord Elrond to care for him for a while. If he refuses, to take him to Lothlorien." With that said the King stood and left.

Dunthral was stunned and heartbroken for Legolas. He did not pretend to understand why the King reacted as such. It was no secret that Lord Elrond and King Thranduil were enemies although no one was sure just why and it stunned Dunthral and the rest of the kings court to hear him make such a request but he could not refuse his command.

The horses were loaded and led to the entrance of the palace. Legolas stood at Dunthral's side, tears still falling from his eyes and his breath coming in hiccupped gasps. Dunthral was a proud man, brave and decorated warrior for Mirkwood for over 5 millennia and had been willing to die for Thranduil but not anymore. He decided he could no longer serve as Thranduil's head of security and would inform him after his return from Rivendell. He knew that he must accompany Legolas on this journey, as he did not trust anyone else with the child.

Thranduil finally walked out of the palace and told Dunthral he could have one archer to take with him incase of an Orc attack and then handed him a letter to give to Lord Elrond. Legolas grabbed Thranduil's robes and begged, "Adar sase a uume karne amin wanya! Amin merne ana erin o lle! Sase adar! (Father, please do not make me go! I wish to stay with you. Please, father!) His small hands clung as if death itself were reaching for him, the small knuckles turning white from his grip.

Thranduil looked down with disregard trying to disengage the clinging elfling from his royal robes. The small ones grip was so strong that when the king got his hands free the child inadvertently was knocked to the ground where he laid in a small heap sobbing, begging his father not to send him away. Thranduil looked down at his spawn and shook his head, "You will fit in perfect at Rivendell; elf as you are, as weak as Elrond. If you are ever to return here you will learn a warriors demeanor and know how to conduct yourself properly!" That said he swiftly turned and walked back inside leaving the elfling on the ground.

Dunthral's blood boiled, how could he have been in the service of such a cruel lord all this time and not be aware? Why was the King nice to everyone but his own son? He knew the Queen had forced Thranduil to be a part of the prince's life but was blind as to his true feelings toward him. He knelt and scooped the child into his arms "It's ok, little one," he soothed not knowing how to offer comfort. Legolas clung to the elf like a soul clinging to the heavens. Dunthral handed the reigns of Legolas' pony to the other rider and mounted his steed with the elfling in his arms. As they rode away he whispered: "Seere titta er. Amin tuluva lav laa mel nwalya an lende an lle. (Peace little one. I will allow no more pain to come to you.)

Ch 2

The long ride to Rivendell was silent. Legolas did not speak a sound, only silently crying for his lost mother. Dunthral was very concerned for the elfling's welfare, as he could not get him to eat or sleep. He would not even ride his pony, which normally you could not keep him from. He rode on Dunthral's steed seated in front of him the entire way. It was as if he was with drawing into himself. He knew an elf could die of grief and he said a prayer to Elbereth that it was not what he was witnessing. Dunthral decided that they were close enough to Rivendell to be safe so he sent a rider ahead to inform Lord Elrond of their coming and why.

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Elrond was awakened with the late moon and informed that a rider from Mirkwood had an urgent message. Knowing of the Queens' death he rose instantly and went to his throne room. The Mirkwood elf bowed, "Lord Elrond, I regret waking you at this late hour but my message is of great importance."

"Who is the message from," he asked eying the weary elf.

"The first is from King Thranduil, the second from the captain of the Mirkwood guards."

"Continue."

The elf informed him first of the request to care for the young prince, then of the elfling's poor state. Elrond was livid! "Your Captain was right in sending you ahead so that I and my sons will be prepared and so the child does not witness my anger!"

The messenger cowered at Elrond's tone, "King Thranduil said if you did not wish to keep him we should take him to Lothlorien. I would request that you still see the prince however, as you might be able to help him sleep for a night."

"Fear not," Elrond held up his hand in surrender. "My anger lies not with you nor the prince but with King Thranduil. I will gladly take Prince Legolas but I will prepare a message to be sent to Thranduil upon your return!"

"Yes my lord." The elf was happy that Lord Elrond was going to express his anger over the matter. He too had been stricken by the actions of his King and wished to help the prince.

"Take the second room atop the east stairs and rest yourself till morning. I will send someone up with some food."

"Thank you," he bowed then dismissed himself.

Early the next sunrise Elrond summoned his sons to the setting room. The teenage twins, Elladan and Elrohir yawned as they sat across from their father. He had to laugh at their similarities, not only in looks but actions although they would never admit it. "By the Valor, why are you up with the sun," Elladan asked?

"Lazy elf," Elrohir scoffed then yawned.

Elrond laughed again at their playfulness and wondered how someone could give away their child as Thranduil apparently had. "I have news of Mirkwood's young prince. He will be here shortly and I need the two of you to help me."

"Why is he coming here ada (dad)? Is he Ill?" Elrohir asked worried. He knew that his father and Thranduil were not friends and that it had to be bad for either of them to agree to this.

"Yes and no," Elrond answered. "Thranduil could not deal with both his son and the loss of his wife so asked if I would care for the elfling for a time. A messenger came ahead last eve to inform me that the prince is not well. Both of you have experienced the loss of your mother and I hoped you would offer counsel to him in coping."

"Of course," they both chimed; their own mothers death still fresh in their minds.

"Now," Elladan sighed, "Why don't you tell us the real reason the prince is being sent here. I believe he is grief stricken and I am not questioning you but we know of your past with Mirkwood and it has to be something more for this to happen."

"I fear you are too smart for mind games anymore," Elrond smiled. "To be truthful I know not why he is being sent, only that a small elfling, who is suffering and greatly needs our help. Whether or not I am an enemy to his father has no bearing on the prince, as he is not the one that is faulted with the transgressions. That being said, are you still willing to assist me?"

"Of course," Elrohir said. "We would have it no other way."

"Good," he said proudly. "Now both of you go to my chambers, prepare the bed and set out my herbs. I have a feeling I will need to keep a close eye on the young prince when he first arrives."

They nodded and left to do as instructed.

It was not long until Dunthral was escorted into the setting room carrying the young prince in his arms. He bowed before Elrond then knelt, gently placing the prince on his feet and encouraging him forward with a gentle swat. He exchanged a look with Lord Elrond that conveyed what they both felt, no words needed to be spoken.

Legolas was vaguely aware that he was indoors and standing in front of a very intimidating elf but said nothing. A swat to the backside prompted him forward and he bowed his head, his eyes never leaving the floor.

"Creoso a'baramin Prince Legolas (welcome to my dwelling Prince Legolas)," Elrond said as he rose from his chair and knelt before the elfling. "You need not fear me child," he said softly, placing his hand under the elf's chin and lifting his head upward. His heart ached as he looked into the tear-filled, innocent eyes; his shoulder length blond hair was mussed and his pale skin dirty from the trip. "It is an honor to have you Prince Legolas, I hope you will feel at home here. I will do all in my power to see you happy once again."

Dunthral instantly eased at Lord Elrond's words and kind touch to the elfling. In that moment he thought to himself perhaps Legolas would be better off in the house of Elrond than the house of Thranduil. He was pulled from his thoughts when Glorfindel, a close companion of Lord Elrond, entered the room.

"Elladan said we were to have visitors from Mirkwood my lord. How many rooms do you wish prepared?" He caught Elrond's gaze and followed it. "My apologies, young one I did not notice you," he smiled.

For the first time since his mother's death Legolas spoke, "Uuner uma n'dela no'ta (no one does, don't worry.)"

All three Elf men looked at each other with dismay. Elrond lifted Legolas up and rested him on his hip, "That will not be so as long as you are in the house of Elrond, Legolas Greenleaf. I will personally see to that." He turned to his friend, "Glorfindel will you see Dunthral to a room so he might freshen up and rest?"

"Of course, my lord."

"Good and I will take care of our young friend."

Ch 3

Elrond carried the elfling through the dining hall to the back of the palace where a large tub was full of warm scented water. He sat Legolas on his feet and removed his tunic, "You will have a bath then some sleep, I think." To Elrond's surprise he got the child undressed and into the tub without resistance. He then picked up a cloth and some soap to wash him.

"I can do it myself," the little voice said firmly.

He smiled, "I am sure you can. Why don't you take care of washing and I will fetch you some clean clothes." When he returned, he found Legolas clean, even his hair had been washed but he was still sitting in the water with his knees pulled to his chest and looked as if he'd been caught doing something bad. Elrond was perplexed by the look and thought perhaps, like his own sons at that age, he had not really cleaned but only poured water over himself. "Let's see your feet." One at a time the little feet were lifted from the water. "Now the face, look at me," he said sternly. The elfling looked up so he could inspect his face. "Very good," Elrond laughed, "I knew there was an elf under all that dirt." To his surprise the child still looked distraught. "What's wrong?"

The small voice trembled, "I washed, sir, but I cannot get out of the tub on my own. I am sorry," the words were almost a whisper.

He noticed Legolas tremble and cringe as he reached to lift the child from the tub. He wrapped a large towel around him and then stood him on a stool to dry him. "Legolas, I want you to understand something, but I am afraid only a big elf may understand."

Now dressed in a fresh sleeping robe, still perched atop the stool he puffed out his chest, "I am a big elf."

Elrond smiled, "So you are. I want you to understand that while you are here you will behave just as you do at home. Do not be afraid to ask for something if you wish to have it or for help if you need it, understood?"

"Yes sir."

"Good, now let's get you to bed." Once again he lifted the boy onto his hip then carried him upstairs.

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Elladan and Elrohir stood when the chamber door opened. They looked on in awe of the elfling with blond locks and steel blue eyes yet there was a sadness about him that would shatter even the strongest of hearts. Elrohir couldn't help but think how fragile the elf in his father's arms looked, even more fragile then his infant sister Arwen. "So this must be Prince Legolas," he asked with a small bow.

Elladan stepped up beside him, "My name is Elladan and the show off is Elrohir. Tis nice to meet you."

"Excuse me? I am not a show off," Elrohir snapped incredulously. "I just happed to be a proper elf unlike you!"

Elrond looked at Legolas, forcing himself to hide a smile, "Oh my."

"A proper elf?" Elladan sputtered! "There is nothing proper about you o' ascarer! (Impetuous one.)"

"Suvrar! (Foul one)"

"Uaquener! (Smelly one)"

"Lanner! (Wide one)"

"Solle na lost! (Your head is empty)"

"Lle naa haran e'navsalle! (You are king in your IMAGINATION)"

"Antolle vlva sulrim! (Much wind pours from your mouth)"

"Dian! (Silence)" Elrond said in a loud voice trying not to laugh.

Sorry ada (dad)" Elrohir said with an innocent look. Both twins turned to him and saw Legolas smiling; mission accomplished.

Elrond sat Legolas on the soft bed, "Elladan, will you fetch our guest something to eat?"

"Certainly," he smiled hitting his brother in the back of the head as he left.

"Hey!" Elrohir yelped. He stood and poured some water into a goblet and put it on the bedside table then sat down by the elfling opposite his father. "So I hear you will be staying with us for a while?"

"Yes, sir," he saddened again.

Elrohir looked quickly behind him; then to his father and back at Legolas, who by then was looking at him quizzically. "I am no sir, little one, you may call me Elrohir," he smiled. Then he put his hand beside his mouth and whispered, "Sir is for old elves, not us youngsters." This time Elrond popped him in the back of the head. "Ouch!" Legolas laughed.

"Old elves?" Elrond stammered. "Old indeed."

Still rubbing his head he turned to Legolas, "When you wake come find me. I will show you around the fine grounds of Rivendell. If I'm not unconscious from a head wound," he added quickly.

"Thank you, sir... err Elrohir," he corrected himself.

Elladan returned with a plate pilled high with fruit and handed it to his father. Elrond placed the food in front of the prince and the elf grimaced, "I am not hungry, sir."

"You need to eat, Legolas, or you will grow ill." The child frowned and shook his head violently from side to side. "How long since you ate last?"

"Since my mother passed," he whispered as he wiped angrily at tears that wouldn't stop.

"That was six moons ago," Elrohir gasped.

Elrond scooped the crying elf into his arms, "Stop fighting the tears, Legolas, let them fall."

"Nay! Warriors do not cry!"

"You are not a warrior yet child and they do cry I assure you."

"Adar (father) says it's bad to cry!" he yelped trying to get away but Elrond's grip increased.

"Your father is..." he caught himself before he said something harmful and tried again. "Your father is wrong, Legolas. It is ok to cry. I will not have you think otherwise!" tiny arms encompassed his neck as the elfling sobbed unto his shoulder.

After about twenty minutes the tears were slowing but his breaths were still coming in hiccupped gasps. Elrond freed a hand from the child's head and put a small amount of white powder into the goblet of water. "Drink this, little one."

Legolas was so thirsty he gulped it down quickly. Elrond, Elrohir and Elladan all three laughed when the prince frowned sticking his tongue out a few times, "Yuck!"

"Sorry," Elrond said half-heartedly as he deposited the prince back into bed and covered him. "Now sleep, I will see you when you wake."

"But I am not sleepy," Legolas yawned, earning another laugh from all involved.

"I will sit with him a while," Elrohir offered.

Elrond nodded and he and Elladan left them.

Ch 4

Elrond was in the setting room finishing his letter to Thranduil when Glorfindel came in, "Lord Elrond, the Mirkwood elves prepares to leave today." He realized that Elrond was still writing, quill moving against parchment at an astonishing rate.

Once he had gotten all his thoughts on paper he quickly sealed the letter with the seal of Elrond. It wasn't until he stood to take the letter to Dunthral that he noticed Glorfindel. "How long have you been standing there?"

"Long enough to realize this wasn't a good time to disturb you, my lord. I am sorry," He bowed and turned to leave.

Elrond looked at the elder, "I'm sorry, Glorfindel, I meant no disrespect it's just." Elrond let out what one might consider a growl, "How can someone be so damned heartless? How much of a coward is this man that he might turn his son away because he has no need for him other then an heir to his precious Mirkwood throne?" Elrond's voice echoed with rage through the big room, "I suffered the loss of my wife and was stricken with grief as you well know but I did not turn away from my sons nor my infant daughter!" He began to pace, "No, Glorfindel, there is much more to this than his wife's death and I intend to know what it is for I will not let this child surfer any longer!"

"Adar (father)!" Elrohir burst into the room! "I went to check on Legolas and he is gone!"

"Gone?" both Elrond and Glorfindel chimed in unison.

Elladan ran into the room panting, "He is not in the palace."

"Glorfindel, gather a search party and have them meet me in the throne room. Elladan, go tell the Mirkwood elves of our discovery; I fear it will not be taken well. Then go out and ask the other children if they have seen him. Elrohir, you come with me."

In the throne room:

A large group had gathered and Elrond was barking instructions on Legolas' description and where each party was to search. Elrohir asked the crowd, "Did anyone here see him today? Perhaps someone knows of a direction he may have traveled?"

An older maiden, a kitchen servant stepped back with her head lowered. Elrond caught the movement out of the corner of his eye, "Madam, is there something you wish to tell me?"

She froze to the very spot she was standing, "My Lord, I," she stammered. Elrond gave her a stern look and she continued. "We were talking about the elfling being here and why. We did not know he was there my lord, I swear," she offered trembling.

"What did you say?" he demanded.

"Just that we didn't understand why his father sent him here. What did he do? My lord, at his age to be already unwanted by his kingdom," she stopped and tried to take a better route of explaining as this one was getting her unhappy looks from Elrond, Elrohir and Glorfindel.

Elrohir tried to keep his anger in check knowing an outburst would only drive the woman away but he had to know what was said, "Madam." He spoke slowly and evenly though his body radiated anger, "What were your exact words? What did the prince of Mirkwood overhear?"

"We wondered if he was the cause of his mother's death," she said in a whisper.

Elrohir could no longer control himself and started towards the woman. Elrond and Glorfindel were snapped from their own boiling tempers in time to grab Elrohir and stop him.

The woman continued her explanation in hopes that it would help her case. "Some believe the boy is a curse to your kingdom my lord and others believe he is a spy sent by Thranduil so that he may bring down Rivendell."

"Do you know what the downfall of my Kingdom shall be from, woman?" Elrond's voice boomed. "It shall come from imbecilic fools like yourself who want to do nothing more the gossip and bring about destruction for your own enjoyment! Madam, I assure you that no where in your 'discussion' did you fear for my kingdom but for your lack of rumors to spread!" He turned to face all of his people; unsure of which had taken part in this he wanted to be sure everyone knew such an action would not be tolerated. He didn't see Dunthral enter before he started speaking again. "You are banished from Rivendell to the outskirts where you will work for the border patrol until you once again earn my trust! Is that clear?"

She bowed, "Yes, sir."

"If any of you are left questioning my judgment or leadership again then you shall address it properly before my court and I will inform you of why I reached my decision! Otherwise I will not stand for this sort of action in my house!"

Elladan ran into the room, "Adar (father) two of the children said they saw Legolas run to the southern part of the forest. Border patrol is on the look out for him if he manages to get that far."

Dunthral spoke from the back of the room, "Take me to this forest at once!"

"I will accompany you my friend," Elrond said as he dismissed the others to their searches.

Ch 5

Legolas ran as fast as he could through the strange forest. He had heard what the old woman had said about him and wondered if it was true. Was he a curse? Did he cause his mother's death? If he had been a good elf for his father would she have went out and gotten killed? She might have taken him with her and he could have died as well. Did she leave him because she was ashamed of him too? So caught up in his thought Legolas did not see a log sticking up in front of him and he tripped. He fell face first onto a sharp stone causing a huge gash in his head and making his nose bleed. He lay there for a moment stunned then opened his eyes only to find the world spinning and his head pounding. When had little drummers taken residence in his head and why were they pounding so hard? He forced himself to his feet and tried to run again but collapsed into the side of a tree. It was tall but it's limbs started fairly low and an elf's instinct was to climb to safety when they were injured.

After many attempts to reach the lowest limb he sat down and sighed. His leggings were torn; his hands and legs were scrapped and bleeding from the rough bark. "Stupid tree," he grumbled.

"Tis not my fault you are to small to climb."

Legolas jumped to his knees and quickly looked around; grabbing his head as waves of pain and dizziness over took him. Once it passed he slowly looked around and saw no one. Maybe he hit his head harder than he realized?

"You are not a gray elf but a sylvian, why are you in this land so far from home?"

Legolas looked around again but saw only trees. This time a soft female voice spoke, "You need not fear us."

"Wh.. who are you?" the elfling asked timidly.

"We are nature. We are life. We are the force that helps all beings live," another voice offered.

When Legolas began to tremble the soft female voice spoke again, "We are the trees, young Greenleaf. We are your friends."

Legolas heard voices drawing near and looked at the tree he had attempted to climb. "If you are my friend please help me."

The tree pondered the request. "They search for you but you do not wish to be found. Why?"

"I do not wish to cause anyone else harm," he said sadly.

Sensing the sincerity of his words the tree lowered its branches, "Climb up, Greenleaf."

Legolas did as he was told and the tree raised and lowered its branches so that he could climb up to its fullest area. Once there the tree nestled the young prince away safe from danger.

The search party that passed was constructed mostly of the palace staff that had caused the elfling to run away in the first place. They continued their banter as they searched saying that they hoped they never found the boy. He caused one of their own to be banished and he did not deserve their loyalty. They searched only out of fear of the same treatment.

The ents and the elfling heard all that was said. The ents were less than pleased with the actions of the elves and huddled their limbs and leaves close together to protect and comfort the child all the could. They spoke to him softly telling him stories of the old forest until he was lulled into a fitful sleep.

All of the search parties had returned to the palace with no sign of the prince. Glorfindel continued to run the searched from the palace while Elrond, Elrohir, Elladan and Dunthral went out for their fifth search. Elrond turned toward a part of the forest that had already been scanned. The others stopped and turned to him; Elladan spoke, "Father that part of the woods has been searched."

"It shall be searched again," he offered. The others without question turned and followed. He did not know exactly why he was going here but it was like he was being drawn in this direction. In his long life if there was one thing he had learned it was to follow his instincts. He led the small group about a mile before he came to a stop.

"What is it?" Elrohir asked.

"He has been this way," Elrond explained.

"How do you know?" Elladan questioned as he looked for signs.

"The forest speaks of it," Dunthral explained. "You are a gray elf, Lord Elrond, and while I know all elves communicate with nature your ability to do so this well surprises me. How do you know of tree speech?"

"True, I am half elf and not sylvian but I do know my signs," he smiled. "I spent a lot of time around sylvian elves as a child and learned how to trust my instincts and to allow myself to be led by nature although I do wish I could speak with the trees as your kind can."

Dunthral smiled, "Not all Sylvia elves are capable of speaking to the trees. It is only the special elf who can conquer such a feat and they seem to be rare."

Elrond stopped and knelt to the ground, "He is injured."

Elrohir knelt next to his father and touched the blooded stone. "I can not talk to trees but I can see blood as could the other party who searched here! Why did they not see this? Why did they not report? How could they have missed such a thing?" Elrohir roared.

"Easy my son. I agree it is more than disturbing that blood was missed and I shall look into the matter farther but right now we have to find Legolas, I fear he may be in danger from his wounds."

"Agreed," Elrohir snapped. "But when this investigation takes place I wish to be a part of it!"

"As do I," Elladan said mirroring his brother's disdain.

The twins continued on until they spotted a tree with low hanging branches. Upon examination they found pieces of bark stripped away from the trunk and small traces of blood. With out hesitation both elves scaled the tree and at the very top, nestled in thick branches, laid the prince. "He is here, father," Elladan called down softly as not to startle the elfling.

Elrond and Dunthral sighed in relief. "Can you bring him down?" Elrond asked.

"Yes," Elladan said. He started to reach for the elf but saw the look in his brother's eyes; Elrohir was attached to the child already. Some how deep inside Elladan knew it was something more because he felt the draw to Legolas as well. Pushing his thoughts aside he put his hands on Elrohir's shoulder, "Can you bring him down?"

Elrohir shook his head and lifted the elfling into his arms, careful to cradle his head as he descended from the tree. Once on the ground Elrond looked the boy over then ripped a piece of cloth from his robe and held it firmly on the prince's bleeding head. "We need to get him back to the palace quickly."

Elrohir did not speak only began to walk with the elf safely in his arms. The others looked at each other with a smile and followed. Elladan put his hand on Dunthral's shoulder and pulled him to a stop. "As I can not commune with the trees I was wondering if you could thank them for keeping the young prince safe for us, sir?"

Dunthral smiled, "They know of your thanks my friend and bid you well."

Ch 6

Upon returning to the palace Elrond treated Legolas' wounds and put him in bed. Two moons had now passed, the elfling was still unconscious and his grieving had increased. They had expected the decline in his health because of what he'd overheard from the staff but it did not make it any less worrisome. Elladan and Elrohir refused to leave the child's side even taking meals in the room. During his usual morning check on Legolas he realized that the grief had not lessened and it would be a fight to save his life.

He stepped quietly out of the room and found Glorfindel and Dunthral waiting in the hallway. "Glorfindel, prepare the guestroom nearest mine with a bed as big as my own. In this room I wish you to place the things that Elladan and Elrohir will need to remain comfortable as well as books and other things to keep them occupied. They will not leave the prince's side and I will not have them sleeping in chairs any longer. Make sure all of Legolas' things are placed in there as well and perhaps Dunthral could tell you of something he cherishes most and you could place it with in his reach or sight at least for when he awakes."

Glorfindel bowed, "As you wish, my lord. I will start on it straight away."

Elrond watched as Glorfindel rushed through the hall and grabbed different members of the staff to begin the task. He turned to Dunthral, "I fear, my friend, that grief has set in even stronger for the elfling. I assure you I will do all in my power to help him but he has to find something in this world to hold on to or he will not fight the pull into the darkness."

Dunthral's head bowed, "I understand and I will do anything you need me to do in order to help Legolas." The began to walk slowly once more, "As you know I must head back to Mirkwood today."

"Ai, I will be sorry to see you depart."

Dunthral stopped and turned to Elrond, "My lord, there is something I wish to request from you."

Elrond looked on rather confused, "What is that?"

"Upon my return to Mirkwood I will resign my services to Thranduil. I cannot, nay; I will not be in service to any one who could treat his own offspring as such. I was wondering, my lord, you allow people to seek safety here when they have no where else to go; would you allow me shelter here?"

Elrond smiled and placed his hands on Dunthral's shoulders, "It would be an honor to have you in Rivendell, my friend." Elrond's face turned somber, "Take heed my friend, Thranduil will not give you up lightly. In fact it may be in your best interest if you do not return at all but send a letter to him through with the party traveling back."

"My lord, are you sure?" Dunthral asked in surprise.

"I have known Thranduil for many life times and one thing I know for certain is his cruelty. I can protect you within these lands but once you set foot into Mirkwood I cannot. If he intends to retaliate against you it must be done here."

"I can not allow you to open your kingdom to attack because of me."

Elrond smiled and patted Dunthral on the back soothingly, "It would not be an attack my friend as the lands of Imladris are protected."

Dunthral did as Elrond wished and sent a letter back to the king resigning his loyalties to Mirkwood then insisted he be put to work so he could earn his hospitality. Gratefully Elrond offered him a position with the border patrol and guards for they were now short two of their best, his sons. Dunthral accepted and left with Glorfindel to his new post.

Elrond sat back in his chair and took a deep relaxing breath; maybe things would get better now. A blood-curdling scream rang out through the palace and Elrond jumped to his feet running towards the sound. His heart stopped when he realized it was coming from Legolas' room. Running inside he saw both his sons standing over the still unconscious prince, swords drawn and pointed at a young house maiden. "In the name of Valor what is going on here?" He roared!

"She was trying to take Legolas," Elrohir yelled!

"My lord," the maiden said shakily, "Glorfindel said the prince was to be moved and I did not want to disturb the sleeping princes." She paused, "Other princes."

Elrond looked to his sons, "For Elbereth sake lower your swords!" He turned to the young woman, "Please forgive my sons, they are very concerned for the young prince's safety. Take the rest of the day off to do as you please." With that she was dismissed.

Elrond stepped toward Legolas and noticed his sons tense again, "Are you going to draw on me as well?"

They lowered their heads. "Sorry father, we just don't know who can be trusted any more," Elrohir said.

"We know you, Glorfindel and Dunthral will not harm him but the rest of the staff has proven traitorous," Elladan offered.

Elrond was not sure why be he felt something strange in the bond of the three princes. Pushing the thought away he gently lifted Legolas into his arms and started out of the room, "Follow me."

They traveled only two doors down and stopped. Elrond motioned for Elladan to open the door. Elrond walked inside and laid Legolas in the middle of the huge bed. When he turned back around he laughed, Elladan and Elrohir both stood, mouths agape in awe of the room. Slowly Elrohir stepped forward, "Our things?"

"What is this adar (dad)?" Elladan asked.

"I am tired of seeing you sleeping in chairs and not being nourished. You now both have clean garments as well as books and other things to help pass the time. Oh and a bed big enough for you to sleep on either side of the young prince while still protecting him," he added.

Before he could get out the door he was engulfed in a huge hug, "Thank you, adar," Elrohir smiled. "I do not know what it is about him but it feels right to have him here."

"It does feel right," Elrond smiled.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Glorfindel returned to the throne room after settling Dunthral in his new position. "How are the princes, my lord?"

Elrond laughed, "Very protective. They pulled their swords on a chamber maiden who was trying to move Legolas to his new room."

Glorfindel gasped, "Oh my!"

"Yes," Elrond chuckled again, "The poor woman aged ten years."

They were both silent for a moment, "What's bothering you?"

Elrond looked at his dear friend, "You always could read my thoughts."

Glorfindel laughed, "No, not your thoughts but your emotions. What troubles you so?"

"Legolas. I can't help but feel there is so much going on with this elfling and so much that is meant for this house to help him with yet I do not know what the gods wish for me to do. It seems my sons have felt the pull also and are now his 'protectors' but what of it? What lies ahead for the prince and for us?"

"There is a way to get the answers you seek my lord but Legolas has to be conscious enough to travel."

"The Lady Of The Wood," Elrond said more then asked. It was what he had to do if they could get the prince well enough.

Ch 7

Elladan sat himself in a soft chair next to the window and began to read a book while Elrohir fussed over the prince making sure he was warm enough and had plenty of pillows. He stopped fidgeting with Legolas' hair and left the room. Before Elladan could go after him he returned with the infant Arwen. "What are you doing?" Elladan asked.

Elrohir lay Arwen on the bed next to Legolas, "I thought it would be good for him and besides, we have been neglecting our sister."

Elladan put down his book and joined them on the bed. The twins made faces and tickled Arwen until she was laughing and cooing happily.

Elrond walked into the room and was surprised when he saw Arwen in the mix on the bed. He couldn't hide his laughter when she began to giggle at her brothers, "I see I have lost another child to this room."

They turned, smiling as their father strode up to the bed and picked up his daughter. He held her in his arms as he sat down as well, "I came to talk to you about Legolas. When he is conscious again (he knew better than to say IF because his sons would have run him through) I would like for all of us to travel to Lothlorien to see Galadriel. Perhaps she can shed a bit of light on the young prince and why we all feel so drawn to him."

"We would be able to go as well," Elrohir asked?

"Of course," Elrond smiled.

"Then it is settled," Elladan said.

"Good," Elrond replied relieved. He looked down at Arwen in his arms, "What about you, young lady? Do you wish to accompany your brothers to Lothlorien?"

Arwen stopped all movement as if she were really pondering the decision then answered with a resounding, "Pbbbbbbllllllllllllttttttttttt!"

Everyone burst into laughter until tears were falling. Finally able to speak again Elrond tried to compose himself, "Ok, which one of you taught her that?" Each boy pointed to the other.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It was hours past the highest moon when Elrond finally finished his trade agreement with one of the towns on the outer realm. Three days had passed since the agreement to take Legolas to Lothlorien was reached but the boy was no better. He was still unconscious and he feared for the elfling's life. Glorfindel had agreed to ride ahead to Galadriel and inform her of the situation so that she may be prepared for their arrival.

Shaking himself from his thoughts he bounded the stairs towards his room making one last stop at Legolas' door. He peered inside; Elladan was fast asleep with a book across his chest and Elrohir was laying next to the prince stroking his soft blond hair and whispering to him. Elrond strained to hear what was being said.

Elrohir looked at the innocent being next to him and could not help but think how ethereal he looked even in his weakened state. He wanted him to wake up now, to be ok so he and Elladan could teach him to shoot a bow and hunt orc but he just would not wake. So Elrohir did the only thing he knew, he whispered encouragements to Legolas and began to tell him how he felt when his mother sailed the sea leaving his family behind. He told Legolas that he knew how much it hurt and how easy it was to let grief over take him but he had to fight. He told him that he was special and that his family would do everything in his power to keep him safe. Elrohir's encouragements soon turned into soft, sobbing pleas as he laid his head on the small princes chest. Elrond was about to go to his son when he noticed a small, pale hand move across Elrohir's face.

"Legolas?" Elrohir asked as if afraid to wake himself from a dream. He delighted when small fingers brushed his and he smiled. "Elladan!"

Elladan startled at his brother's yelp and fell out of the chair. Hurriedly getting to his feet he asked, "What is wrong?"

"He is awaking!" Elladan and Elrohir were beaming as Elrond joined them.

Elrond leaned over Legolas, "I know it's hard right now, little one, but I need you to open your eyes and look at me."

The small blue eyes fluttered open and looked erratically around the room. He couldn't seem to get his eyes to focus and his body hurt. He tried to speak but his mouth was as dry as fall leaves on the forest floor and nothing would come out.

Elrohir noticed and grabbed some water. Gently lifting the prince's head he held the cup to his mouth. Legolas drank gratefully all the while his eyes never left Elrohir. He took the cup from the small hands and sat it back on the table. Turning back to Legolas he pushed the mused hair from his face, "Are you in pain, little one?"

"I hurt a little," the small voice rasped.

"I am sure you are in some discomfort, Legolas, you were injured when we found you," Elrond said. "You have no broken bones so you will heal in time."

Legolas looked at the three of them, tears forming in his eyes, "Why did you bring me back here? I do not wish to harm anyone again," his voice wavered, "like my mother."

Elladan had heard all he could stand and grabbed Legolas by the arms and pulled him up. Elrohir and Elrond tensed but both knew he would not harm the elfling. The look of shear terror on Legolas' face showed that he did not know this. "I have never heard such falsities in all my time, Legolas Greenleaf! How could you believe something like that? Just because the words flow from the mouth of a worm-tongued socialist does not mean that truth lies with in!" Elladan's voice was loud and booming causing the elfling to tremble as he continued to shout. "Do you truly believe that you are the reason your mother died?" he shouted.

"Yes!" Legolas shouted trying to break free of Elladan's grasp unsuccessfully. "She died because of me! She wanted Adar to love me but he cannot so she had to force him to! She died because I am not a good warrior! Or a son," he added in a whisper.

Elladan shoved Legolas back onto the bed and stood pacing in front of them. Legolas quickly crossed the space and curled in to Elrond's safe embrace. He laid his pounding head on the eleven lord's chest trying to comprehend all the thoughts in his own head.

Elrohir lost his temper and stormed over to his brother, "What the hell do you think your doing? Hasn't he been through enough with out your added abuse?"

Elladan spun towards his twin, "I have only just begun, dear brother!" His words seethed out like a snake. "I will not let this child suffer this torment needlessly! Do you understand, Elrohir?"

"I do not wish him to suffer either brother but causing him further trauma is not going to fix this!"

"Coddling him will not fix this, Elrohir!" Elladan took a breath to calm himself and spoke again, "He needs love and guidance, Elrohir, and that you and father can offer but he needs also a firm hand to assure him this is not his fault. Grief will not be cured with love but only repairing of the heart. I do not wish him to suffer a long drawn out grief, Elrohir. Let him enjoy his youth not spend it thinking he is the reason his mother is gone!"

Elrohir watched as Elladan turned his back to him and grasped the windowsill. Anger flowed through him at his brother's words. Did he think he was the only one who suffered when their mother left? "You arrogant bastard! Who are you to tell me how to deal with grief? I have suffered too you know? Mother left us all, Elladan, not just you!" He gasped as his twin turned to him.

"I am the reason she left, Elrohir!" He screamed as tears poured from his eyes.

Elrond sat Legolas back on the bed prepared to jump in but he knew this needed to be said. He knew how much his eldest son had suffered.

"I was not strong enough to keep her here!" Elladan screamed. "I begged her not to leave, not to leave you and Arwen but she told me I was brave and strong enough to care for you myself." The dark elf was sobbing, "She said she loved me but not enough to stay!"

Elrond was to his son in an instant, "Why have you never told me this before?" he demanded! His large hands framed Elladan's face, "I know you suffered my son and I knew she spoke to you before she sailed but I did not know what words were spoken." Elrond was now crying as well, "I am sorry I was so over come by my own grief that I paid no attention to such a wrong to my own flesh and blood. I fear I am no better then Thranduil."

The twins crushed him in a tight embrace, "You could not have known Adar," Elladan smiled.

"I am sorry," Elrohir said to them both. "How could I have not seen this before now?"

"Because your brother is very good at hiding his heart," Elrond smiled.

"As is another in this room," Elladan offered. Their gaze fell to the blond elfling. He sat on the bed and pulled the elf into his lap, "Do you understand any of this, Legolas?"

He thought for a moment, "A little. Your naneth left too and you thought it was your fault?"

"Right," he smiled at the child's perception. "And I suffered greatly because I knew no better. Father was there for all of us but I was afraid to tell him, afraid that he would no longer love me as well. I suffered alone wondering why I was so evil that she left me alone in this world and it was not until I laid eyes upon you that I realized how wrong those thought were." He sighed, "Legolas, your mother wanted Thranduil to express his love to you but it is my understanding that she went on these trips all the time so it was no different for her to do so on that fatal day."

"But she always took me with her," he whispered. "I should have died with her."

"If death was meant for you, Greenleaf, then it would have taken you," Elrohir offered as he sat beside his brother. "There is more left for you to do little one and Elbereth means for you to be here to do it. As do I," he added as an after thought.

Legolas twisted in Elladan's arms when he heard the soft cooing. Behind them on the huge bed in the middle of a sea of pillows lay a small child. He gently crawled over the silk coverings and peered over the pillows at the smiling baby. Elrond smiled as he walked to the side of the bed and pulled Legolas next to him. He sat down so that the young prince rested against him then lifted the baby softly laying her in his arms. He was unsure at first and started to squirm but Elrond showed him how to support her head and he felt Elrond next to him for his own support. In the end Arwen's smile won him over and he played with her tiny hands, "Who is she?"

"Our sister," Elrohir answered.

"She is lovely," he beamed down at her.

"She is, isn't she," Elrond smiled proudly.

"Pbbbllllllllttttttttttt," was Arwen's reply. Legolas laughed a real hearty laugh for the first time.

Ch 8