Authoress: Ladya C. Maxine
Summary: Two youngsters from two very different races find something in common: friendship.
Disclaimer: I do not own LotR or any of its characters. Any and all unrecognizable characters belong solely to me and are not to be touched. I am not making any money off of this and I write with the sole intent to entertain.
A/N: I know that in the books Legolas is FAR older than Estel/Aragorn but for this story I'm making them both about 10 years old.
26 Sept. 2006: This story was in desperate need of a re-write, so I re-wrote :P
By Ladya C. Maxine
"Can I come?"
Sighing, Elladan turned to find Estel standing right behind him, bouncing excitedly on the balls of his feet. How it was that the child always knew when they were heading out on a hunting excursion was a mystery to him. Not that he didn't enjoy his little brother's company, but ever since they'd arrived in Lothlorien to celebrate his grandfather's, Lord Celeborn's, birthday he and Elrohir had been spending time with their friends, whom they didn't get to see often, going out hunting or simply riding. Estel, despite his best efforts, would only serve to slow them down.
Gracefully crouching, he gave Estel a sympathetic look.
"Estel, you know you can't come."
"Please, Elladan? I'll try my best," Estel promised convincingly.
"We know you would, but still..." Elrohir appeared leading his horse by the reigns, followed by five other elves. All were dressed for riding.
"Estel," Elladan warned, firmer this time.
"Okay…See you later…"
Placing a fond hand on the curly hair, Elladan rose and joined his brother and friends on horseback. Estel watched longingly as they spurred their horses and swiftly disappeared into the trees.
He stood there for several minutes trying to decide what to do. The elves were busy with preparations for the grand celebration. Royalties from all over had been invited and most had already arrived, including many elven children. He hadn't managed to speak to any of them yet but at least he wouldn't be the only child at the party.
Growing bored, he decided to go back to his chambers. Perhaps his father was available.
He found the ancient elf on the terrace overlooking where the celebrations were going to be held. The dark haired lord was in conversation with his in-laws, the Lord and Lady of Lothlorien themselves. Gandalf the Grey, who was one of the guest and also the fireworks master, sat with them, laughing and smoking his pipe. Since it was an open area this didn't bother the elves, who didn't smoked.
"Good day, young Estel," the wizard greeted him, being the first to spot him. "And why the glum face? This is a time for merriment."
Elrond looked over at his youngest with concern.
"Estel, are you alright?"
Estel moved over to where he sat and laid a head on his father's shoulder.
"Do you miss your brothers already, little one?" Galadriel asked knowingly.
"Yes, my lady."
"Oh, don't worry about that. Those two will be back in two days. They wouldn't dare miss their grandsire's birthday. Unless they are looking forward to spending some time in the dungeons," Gandalf said, glancing over at Celeborn. The silver haired lord rose an elegant brow but remained silent, as was his wont.
"Mithrandir's right, Estel; Elladan and Elrohir will be back soon enough. Why don't you go practise with your new bow and arrow? You've been wanting to do that for days. There is an archery field near the lake," Galadriel said.
He wasn't up to it, but he took the obvious hint that he was interrupting something and that the adults would like to resume whatever it was he had interrupted. Nodding with little enthusiasm, he bowed and left.
"It's hard for him," Celeborn said once he was gone.
"Growing up amongst a race so different from one's own always is. I brought him along in hopes that he could make some friends. There are no elven children in Rivendell. Maybe here he'd feel more confident amongst his peers," Elrond said.
"We shall just have to wait and see," Gandalf muttered around his pipe.
As he walked towards the practice field Estel felt his mood lighten when he heard laugher. Clearing the trees, he saw a large group of elflings talking animatedly on the grassy field, trying to outshoot one another or just enjoying the sunny weather. Excited, he ran. The group went totally silent, all eyes on him.
"Hi, I'm Estel, son of Lord Elrond," he said at one go, breathless. It was redundant, but it was the norm that elven children always identified their parents when introducing themselves. He held out a hand.
"And…are we supposed to be impressed?"
Estel's smile wavered and he looked around him uncertainly, taken back by the cold reception. The elflings who had spoken, a taller youth with light brown hair, stepped forward.
"What do you want?" he demanded to know.
"I…um…" Estel played with his bowstring. "I wanted to…um…wanted to…"
"Are all mortals as vocal as you? It's a wonder humans have been around long enough to actually learn how to write."
The other elflings laughed, encouraging the one-sided conflict.
Estel felt his tears building, but he fought them back.
"I wanted to practice with you," he said softly.
"Practice? With us? I don't know. What do you think?" he asked the rest. All shook their heads. "Well, there you have it. Get lost."
"Why are you so mean? Did I say something wrong?" Estel asked, genuinely at a lost to their hostility.
"You are what's wrong," the leader said. "Everything about mortals is wrong. You come around with your clumsy selves; killing nature to build those hideous things you call cities. My father says that we should never mingle with your kind."
"I've never seen those cities. Ada raised me—"
"That's 'Lord Elrond' to you, boy. You certainly have no manners."
"He's my ada!" Estel defended. "He lets me call him that and he looks after me."
"I've heard about that as well. You're the human whose parents were killed by orcs. By orcs! My father can defeat dozens of them without getting so much as a scratch and yours got themselves killed by a mere handful. Then again, I suppose it was for the best. Too bad you survived it, though."
That did it. He could no longer hold back the tears and they started to run down his cheeks. He wiped them away.
The brown haired elf smiled triumphantly and turned his back to the human.
"Can't believe they called you Hope. Hopeless is a much better name."
Laughing and taunting, they left him standing alone on the field, their long, shining hair glittering as they ran, joking amongst themselves.
He too ran. Spinning around, Estel headed into the woods, away from the city. His vision was blurred with tears as he fled through the trees.
'Why is it so difficult? Why do they hate me?'
He was so caught up he didn't see the stone on the path. His toe struck it painfully and he stumbled, landing hard on the ground, cutting his palms and elbows. His bow and his arrows went flying and landed in a series of clatters and clicks around him. Despite his burning wounds, he didn't rise. Sobbing, he buried his head in his arms.
'It's not fair! I didn't do anything wrong!'
"…Are you okay?" a hesitant voice suddenly asked from above.
Estel started and looked up into the bluest eyes he had ever seen. An elfling, kneeling before him on the path, with golden hair and a worried expression.
Not answering, Estel wiped his tears on his sleeves. His bleeding hands were caught at the wrist. The elfling turned them over, examining them carefully, minding not to touch the aggravated flesh.
"They're not deep," he concluded. "Here, just wash off the dirt."
Accordingly holding out his hands, Estel winced as the cold water was poured onto the hot skin but the effects were almost instant and he sighed, content.
"Just keep them clean and you'll be fine," the blond advised. Rising, he started to pick up the scattered arrows.
Estel had been unable to say anything the entire time. Finally finding his manners, he quickly joined in. They worked in silence and before long all the arrows were back in his quiver.
"Thank you," he said shyly.
The elfling smiled but when he picked up Estel's bow he frowned. The bowstring had snapped. Estel hurried over, feeling another set of tears coming on. The bow had been the first weapon his father ever gave him.
"Don't worry. I can fix it," the elfling promised. "Ada taught me how."
"Really? You'd do that?"
"Sure. But not here.I know a great place we can repair it. When it's done we can practice."
"I'm not very good..." Estel trailed but the elfling was already leading him off the path. It was then that Estel noticed the quiver and bow on the elfling's back. "I'm Estel, by the way," he said, this time purposefully omitting his father's name and title.
"Legolas," the blond answered, also not caring to identify his father.
They reached a large clearing, in the middle of which stood a lonely boulder. Legolas easily jumped up onto it and sat down cross-legged. Uncertain, Estel sat beside him.
"Give me your bow."
Estel did and watched in fascination as Legolas took out a small dagger and cut away the remaining string. Taking the pack he had with him, he rummaged through it and withdrew a roll of bowstring. Cutting off the precise measurement, he then took five long strands of his own hair and wrapped them around the string. He smiled at Estel's surprised expression.
"It will make it stronger. That's what everyone says. I do it because it's my good luck charm."
Tying off the now taught strong, he handed it back to Estel. The string now glittered with the golden hair in the sun.
"Thank you. It's better than before!"
"Come, let's try it out," Legolas said, nimbly hopping back down. "We need to find a log first, though."
"Why not just use the trees?" Estel asked. The other elflings had been shooting at the trees earlier.
"Because you hurt them," the blond elfling said as he searched. "How would you feel if someone shot arrows at you?"
"Not good, I suppose."
"Trees have feelings too. Many use them for target practice. It's sad. I though that the other elves would understand but they insist that it doesn't harm them for long."
"Are you a wood elf?" Estel asked. He had always been told that wood elves were far more in touch with the natural than the high elves in Rivendell. Up until now, he had thought it absurd, since all elves love nature, but his brothers never showed much sympathies for the trees the shot at back home.
"Sure am," Legolas said proudly. "I'm from Mirkwood."
At last, he found a suitable log and, with strength that amazed Estel, he pulled it upright. Walking away, taking Estel with him, he didn't stop until they were about 300 feet back, where he suddenly turned, notched an arrow and fired, everything going so smoothly it looked like a single move. The arrow flew straight and hit the log dead centre.
"Okay, your turn."
Now Estel was nervous. How could he go after that display of accuracy? But he didn't want to seem like a wimp so he took a deep breath and notched his arrow.
'Let me at least hit somewhere near it.'
He released the arrow.
It went wide, missing the target by several feet and disappearing into the trees. Estel felt his heart clenched.
"Your stance was not right," Legolas was quick to point out in a helpful tone. "You need to turn a bit more, that way you have more space to pull back. Like so." He demonstrated and Estel copied. "Okay, now lift your arm a bit more. Your fist should be aligned with your shoulder. Aim with the arrowhead. Now, let go."
Estel released and the arrow flew straight. It didn't hit with the accuracy like the Legolas' but it was close enough and a lot more accurate than he had ever hit. Excited, Estel quickly grabbed another arrow, wanting to improve on his new technique.
They practised for hours until their trembling arms urged them to call it quits. Gathering their arrows, they slowly began to make their way back to the city. Legolas showed him a short cut, which brought them alongside a wide stream. They knelt at the water edge to wash their faces and hands. They cleaned themselves in silence for a while until Estel felt a splash of cold water on him. He shot Legolas an accusing look, wet bangs plastered to his face. The elf laughed and splashed him again.
Estel reached down for more water and encountered the bottom of the shallow water. Smiling he scooped up a handful of wet mud and slung it. It made a satisfying squish as it hit the elf on the chest. Legolas gathered an even bigger mud ball and threw it. It caught Estel smack in the face and he lost his balance and fell into the water.
"Estel!" Legolas leaned forward, worriedly.
The water wasn't deep but the young human could have hit his head against a rock or something beneath the surface. Luckily, he stood, unharmed though dripping with mud and water.
"Are you okay?"
Estel didn't answer and the elf moved closer. Suddenly, Estel's hands shot up and caught the elfling by the wrists and pulled hard. Legolas pitched forward and landed in the water with a surprised shriek. He swiftly resurfaced, sputtering and in shock. Estel was glowing with victory.
"No, you did!"
"I most certainly did not!"
Legolas huffed and tackled the boy, sending them both back down with a huge splash. After several dunks and too many mouthfuls of water, they dragged themselves to shore and laid on the soft grass, trying to dry off in the late evening sun as they watched the clouds go by through the spaces in the canopy, pointing out any that resembled animals. Legolas found the best, which was shaped like a dragon, though Estel swore it was a mushroom.
"We should get back. My ada must be looking for me and I'm sure yours is too," Legolas said, turning his head to face Estel.
"Yeah, I guess…Race ya!"
He sprung up and took off down the path. Having had a good head start, Estel looked behind him and noted with satisfaction that the elfling wouldn't be able to catch up; he could even see him behind him! He ran even faster anyway. The city gates were just around the corner. He rounded it and…nearly ran into Legolas, who was calmly standing there. Estel fell on his rear in surprise and exhaustion, wet hair clinging to his face and neck. He took several gulps of breath before speaking.
"How…how did you get here first?"
Legolas looked perfectly relaxed. His hair wasn't out of place. He wasn't even breathing heavily. The blond simply motioned to the trees behind him.
"…So?" Estel asked, confused.
"It is easier to travel by tree than it is by ground. Here, you forgot this."
He handed Estel his bow and quiver, making the young man blush at having forgotten it.
"Let's go. It will be dark soon."
They chatted about trivial though fun things. Since Legolas seemed to be following him, Estel led the way to the pavilion where he and his family were staying. Reaching the spiralling stairs, they fell silent, disappointed that it was time to part.
"It was really fun. Can we play again tomorrow?" Estel asked, eager for another day of adventures.
Legolas' smile, however, lessened and he shifted on his feet.
"Oh…Well, how about the day after that? My brothers should be back then and they can—"
"No. I have things to do then also."
"Surely, you can come the day after that?"
"I don't think so…Today was actually the only day I could spend some time on my own."
Estel's elation was quickly dissipating. Had the elf only played with him today because he was bored? Legolas had been so nice to him…had it just been a temporary thing?
"Fine…sure…" he said, hugging his quilt to his chest. "It's okay. You probably have better things to do. What's it matter what I think…After all, I'm just a human, ain't I?"
With that he ran up the steps before the elfling could reply.
Legolas stared in shock. He hadn't meant it like that. He wasn't even sure what Estel had meant with the "only human" comment. He would have gladly pushed away all the training and lessons that he had to undergo, but he had already begged his father a free day to explore and he doubted he would get a second.
'Without Estel, another day wouldn't be very fun anyway…But how could he say that I don't care what he thinks…That was so…mean…'
Putting on a brave face, Legolas turned and walked away, not wanting to appear as hurt by the boy's comment as he really was.
A/N: Not really sure where the heck I am going with this but I just thought the idea to be cute.
Read & Review, please.