A/N: I am actually wonder-woman, not only can I update TWO stories pretty damn regularly, but I can complete and post up another one! Nah, not really, this one has been in the pipeline for a long time, a lot of pent-up feelings have gone into it after reading *so* many Thranduil-hits-Legolas- repeatedly stories... don't get me wrong, I don't mind them (each to his own), but would a father really be that cruel? This is a story that reveals Thranduil's more caring moments, especially with his youngest son... and I know that I have said he has dark hair at some point in this (and yes I have read The Hobbit and know full well that he is said to have golden hair in that), but I am attempting to use what little artistic licence I have to try and disperse the popular myth that all Mirkwood Elves have golden hair - I believe that is simply not the case. But what do you think? Don't forget to speak your mind in the review I'm *sure* you're all going to write just as soon as you've finished this... *ahem*

Anyway, Legolas is the equivalent of 4 years old in this, but has obviously been around for a lot longer than that... so that's why his volcabulary is so wide.

Enjoy! If you're only reading this for Legolas-and-Thranduil-sweetness, you can skip all the bits about Legolas' brothers and sisters and go straight to the good stuff... but be warned, for all my stories, this is the family our favourite elf is always going to have, so it might be a good idea to brush up on the basics and read this....

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The day was drawing to a close; outside the palace of the Wood Elves, the sky above was painted pink with the setting sun, the air cooling considerably, as if the wind itself was reminding it's Elves to seek slumber. The trees groaned, their limbs turning in on themselves as they, too, prepared for rest. The noises of the wood were fading... Middle-earth was becoming quiet.

King Thranduil of Eryn Lasgalen strode down the winding corridors of the above-ground west wing of his palace in an exhausted haze, bumping into cooks, tutors... anyone who attempted to pass him in the opposite direction.

It had been a *long* few days.

He, as the King, had been obliged to lead a hunting party deep into the darkening woods that surrounded the Mirkwood realm in search of a band of fierce spiders - the largest of their kind - which had been terrorising a village of his Elves on the outskirts of his Kingdom. The spiders were known for their cruel poison and evil hearts, and Thranduil thanked Iluvatar that no elf had been killed by them recently. For after a grueling few days of travel and hunting, the trip had thankfully ended in complete success with the King himself, aided by his company, slaying the foul beasts far nearer to Dol Guldur than he would've wished to go.

Thranduil had also been forced to steadily and monotinously work his way through masses of parchments and decrees, letters and the such, signing and sealing everything, as the pile in his main study had been steadily mounting for the past few days and was in danger of spilling out through the doorway into the adjacent corridor. *That* had taken the best part of three days, and he hadn't even had his wife around to aid him, for she always tried to ease the workload on her husband, and the King was eternally thankful for that... he hated paperwork. But, unfortunately for him, it went with being the King.

He had been unable to find an excuse for personally visiting the family of a brave warrior-elf who had disappeared into the forest two days before last when a company hunting orcs had become separated - the King had assured the distraught kin that he did not believe Jyllien to be resting in the Halls of Mandos, for he thought mayhap the elf maiden had encountered trouble on her way to the west side of Mirkwood, and had been forced to flee and take shelter in Imladris. He was currently awaiting the return of messengers he had sent to his good friend Lord Elrond confirming his thoughts. And aside from this and that, there had been other things to organise and to be done.

There had been many irksome things to be dealt with, and many important decisions had been made. But Thranduil would have made light of all these things, forgotton how tiresome and difficult they had all been, in a heartbeat, if only he had seen his children or wife in the last week.

Oh, he had seen Tusinduil, his eldest, of course. But only in the briefest of passings, and that was only because the Crown Prince had been obliged to take his place upon the throne for a time and keep things in order when Thranduil had been out hunting spiders. But his glimpses of Grownoak had been small, and he missed the talks he had with his son over familiar glasses of fine wine at the end of the day, regarding the young one's courtship of a certain pretty elf maiden, and the way his people were feeling, the prince's lore-work and the such. Thranduil wished to place more and more duties gradually upon his eldest's shoulders, helping him steadily get used to the power and the responsibilities involved in Kingship. ~Tusinduil will have to learn at some point~ he thought rightly.

Niandias, his beloved Whiteblossom, had, like him, been completely busy and tied up that past week. She was an elfling tutor, and the week had been devoted to tedious examinations of her pupils, and the consequential celebrations. Thranduil had always known his eldest daughter would take a profession involving elfings, the youngest of their people; Niandias had the kindest heart, and had always been fussing and coddling her siblings since a very early age, and forever dreamed of becoming a tutor, like her mother before her. She had worked very hard to realise this goal and Thranduil was extremely proud of her, and could not begrudge her quality time with her students, though he so desired it from her.

Fienngil and Ithilmir, his third and seventh born children, were out hunting today - Selmanias, Thranduil's most trusted guard and unofficial 'minder' of his kin, had let him know that very morning that the warrior and his brother would not be back until sundown on the morrow. No doubt they were hunting orcs, and not, as they had pleaded defensively, deer and game. The King shook his head ~Will the princes ever learn there is to be no fooling me?~ he wondered. Though he placed all blame of recklessness entirely and directly up Fienngil's shoulders; the handsome young warrior was entirely too caught up in showing everyone he had finally come of age, and Ithilmir adored his brother so, and would follow him anywhere, to the ends of the worlds and back. ~Ithilmir was never born to become a warrior~ Thranduil knew ~My Little Jewel was born with his namesake in his eyes~ Ithilmir was a quiet, calm and stoic young elf, reminding his father implicitly of the Moon that had given him his name, serene and beautiful. The young elf hated any type of battle or fighting, prefering the art of books and writings... he was by far the least pugnatious of the royal sons. ~That boy will make a fine lore-master some day~

The twin princes however, Arianduil and Andariun, were far more likely to charge headfirst into battle, and would be deeply upset they missed such a chance to acompany their elder brother into the woods, but they were visiting Rivendell with their sisters, Esladiya and Aricesla, and their mother. All had friends there - his twins, though a century or two younger, were best friends with Elrond's twins, Elladan and Elrohir. Thranduil smiled as he thought of the four, and what a hard time they'd be giving his great friend, the Lord of Imladris. It was well known that the two sets of twins together was not a good mix, causing trouble wherever they went, and the king was thankful that this time, the pranks would be far away from his palace. He had not quite forgiven the incident of the water pail balanced over his own bedroom door when last they had visited... but they were young, so he let them be. Plus, Leinnia would be there, and they rarely dared upseting their mother, any reason why they would wish to escaping them entirely when they were in her soothing presence - Thranduil's beloved wife had that effect on most people. ~All will be well~ he assured himself with a curt nod.

Esladiya was best friends with Arwen Evenstar, and hadn't seen her in quite a while, so Thranduil was willing to let her leave his presence, though he did occasionally think that his darling Sunbeam was the only calm sanity to be found within eighteen leagues of his palace sometimes, barring Leinnia. He had even been willing to let her take his youngest daughter, Aricesla, to see Imladris, for she could barely remember what the lands looked like, having visited only briefly when she was smaller - the other times when the everyone else had frequently traveled there, she had been obliged to stay in the palace for some reason or another - and her stubborn temper had demanded that she be taken as well this time. So Thranduil had let her; he could not resist giving his little girl pretty much anything she wished for. ~That will have to stop at some point, too~ he regretfully knew ~She is coddled more than her siblings~ But he could not help himself; she was a beautiful young creature with pale skin and dark, sweeping curls - the colour of her father's and the curl of her mother, and huge, deep grey-blue eyes that seemed to bore into his own matching ones, and he found he could not refuse her anything.

Eight of his children were elsewhere, whether he had to wait a few hours to see them or a few weeks, and that left him with the one he was currently on his way to see and put to bed, Legolas. Thranduil missed his Little Leaf terribly, for he had not seen the child in quite some time. He knew Legolas sometimes got overlooked, and it pained him. For though the elfling was wild and energy seemed to bounce off him at all times in the most perculiar of ways, if he saw that his father was dealing with something else - an important decision, perhaps, or merely what meat was to be had for dinner - he did not approach, instead waited patiently for the King to finish. But that sometimes meant one of his numerous siblings jumped in front of him, demanding the King's attention before he got a chance to speak - for it was the bain of youngest children everywhere, and Greenleaf not the least.

Thranduil loved him deeply... the child seemed to be all the Royal family envoked. He had the face, the quick-flash temper and the stubborn nature of his father - or so everyone kept telling the King - and yet had the features and manners and heart of his mother. He could be (and frequently was) as wild as the twins, showing true spirit, an energetic young sprite if ever there was one - almost like a small whirlwind of golden hair with an astounding passion and fervour for life, his family and friends - and yet, could be (and frequently was) more like Esladiya and Ithilmir, as calm as the sky upon a summer's day, quiet and serene, but with an internal light that could not be extinguished nor even dimmed - his mother's son. A perfect blend - or so everyone said - and it greived Thranduil that he could not spend more of his time with the boy.

~That child, though the son of a King, will never be a Royal~ he knew. Legolas was not created that way, Thranduil thought him too full of mercy and compassion to be a King or even an embassador or a lord. Though Elves treated their enemies, except the very worst, with politeness and common courtesy, Thranduil suspected that Legolas would be, perhaps, a little too free with his natural generosity of spirit, and foreign folk would take advantage of such a thing. No, Greenleaf would be a warrior like Fienngil was and the twins most certainly would be, and a fine one at that; Thranduil had never doubted that. Legolas was so ambitious, so determined to fight for what he believed in, which was the honour of Mirkwood and the family of the Oaks, for the beauty of Middle-earth and the happiness of all it's peoples ~Though some do not deserve it~ the King thought darkly, his mind straying to certain cave-dwellers and other self-intrested nations. But Legolas, unlike himself, would gladly lay down his life for any of them, regardless of whether they had wounded him, if it was right - that was just the child he was, and the mighty elf he would be. He would not train to become a fighter just because he had failed at his studies, like one of his brothers had ~A certain Fienngil who didn't work as hard as he could have at his ancient lore and rune-reading~ Indeed, from what early schooling his Little Leaf had indicated, the boy was quick-witted and extremely intelligent, and, if he so chose it, could become a fine lore- master.

But he would become a warrior because it was what he was born to do... it was where his heart lay, fighting for people less fortunate than himself, less able to defend themselves. Thranduil smiled fondly as he remembered his youngest shielding his elder sister, Aricesla, from the teasing of those wretched twin brothers of his, merely a couple of weeks ago. By the Valar, Legolas had put up such a passionate fight, and had launched a well- deserved tirade upon Arianduil and Andariun, who had become completely dumbstruck, simply standing there and wincing as their youngest brother berated them for being bullies who must think indequately of *themselves* if they wished to pull down the spirits of one so much younger than the two of them. Afterwards, they had turned, left, and been almost utterly silent and the perfect children for the remainder of the day, fearing to be pulled up again by the green-eyed demon that had consumed their Little Leaf for a short time. Legolas had simply sighed, helped Aricelsa up from the floor, turned, and sat down by the fireside once more, playing with his toy soldiers, quietly listening to Tusinduil tell him a story.

Thranduil chuckled; how his missed his Green Child.

He had reached the doorway to the play room, and he strode through it. And there was Legolas, in all his young, energetic glory. The boy stood upon the back of a beautifully-upholstered, red and gold chair, which would, had it not been an Elven child's weight, have crumpled or toppled under the strain. But an Elven child Legolas was, and so there he stood proudly, in the process of evading capture from his nanny, Lainathan, who looked rather worn-out and harrassed from where she leant in exhaustion against the grand fireplace.

~He looks like nobody's child~ thought Thranduil with amusment; Legolas' face was dirtied with what looked like soot, his clothes would have to be washed thrice over to purge them of all their filth, and the King thought he spied many holes and tears decorating the light material of his green leggings and the fine golden fabric around the collar was frayed and torn beyond repair. His once-shiny hair had pulled itself from the single, intricate plait that ran down the elfling's back, hanging in dirtied bangs in front of his face, forever falling into his sparkling green eyes, and Thranduil could see more than one leaf tangled in the golden mass. No matter how clean Legolas was in the morning, no matter what the situation he would always end up near-unrecognisable before the day was through - the child was untameable, and could never be kept clean for love nor money - but Thranduil Wiseoak wouldn't have it any other way.

When Lainathan caught sight of her master, her brown eyes widened in shock and she straightened at once, pulling half-heartedly at her blue, delicately-embroidered apron in an attempt to tidy herself up a bit. "My lord! I apologise, the prince... I shall get him cleared up immediately." And she advanced upon the elfling.

"You most certainly shall not," stated Legolas, he young voice most determined in that matter. And he leapt from the chair away from his carer's slender hands, landing gracefully on the top of a ornate chest of drawers, made from the finest, darkest Oak in Eryn Lasgalen, almost cat- like in his actions. "There shall be no clearing up of any kind," he said with authority, still crouching on all fours in a feline manner.

"Dian Las [Little Leaf], I believe that's for me to decide, isn't it?" boomed Thranduil's deep, more-than-a-little impressive, voice from the doorway. Anyone else would have quailed in fear at the tone he used, so intimidating it was, but his youngest-born recognised it at once and his head whipped round - not quite daring to believe.

Legolas' face lit up immediately when he caught sight of his beloved father, and he pounced into the eager, ready arms of the King. "Adar!" Thranduil hugged him close, disregarding the amount of muck the child's body held - *his* clothes would now have to be washed thrice over, but he did not care. "I was unaware you were back!" Legolas' delighted voice held a smile, and he squeezed even tighter, if that were possible.

"Just now, Young One," he smiled, and pulled away, deep blue-grey eyes searching the upturned face of his youngest. He shook his head with a smile, "It never ceases to amaze me, Green Child, just how filthied you can become in the space of mere hours."

Legolas grinned proudly, as though this were some kind of compliment, but Lainathan's exclaimation of distress from the other side of the room - convinced the remark had been for her - drew their attention. "Forgive me, my King - Legolas has had a busy day and I was just about to wash him and put him to bed. But I couldn't... I tried to... h-he was too... ...He should be *tired*! He's been running around outside, climbed up his tree, been around the kitchens and the palace... up the chimney piece."

"Up the chimney?" asked Thranduil, confused.

"We were playing hide-and-seek," Lainathan said mournfully, she dropped her head in shame of the fact the King had had to come home and find his child looking neglected, completely uncared for - she wished to hide herself behind the autumn-red fringe that fell in front of her face.

"Up the chimney," Thranduil echoed, more than a little impressed by the boy's ingenuity, as he glanced to his child again. But then, with five elder brother's on his back all the time, Legolas had gotten good at hide- and-seek - he had to be. Thranduil looked at the child-carer, "Lainathan, drag that pretty, auburn head of your's back up and meet the gaze of your King," the request came out unintentionally-stern and formal - as did many of his requests. She did as he commanded, her dark eyes large and frightened; convinced she was going to be forced to give in her notice - though she had cared for Legolas since he was a babe, today had been the last in a long line of days where she hadn't been able to control the child adequately, and she knew it. Thranduil paused, as if weighing her up, then his eyes softened unexpectedly, "I shall take care of my son, tonight. Lainathan, you shall take care to have a night off."

The nanny's eyes, if possible, widened even furthur, "My lord.. d-do you not wish for me to..."

The King smiled kindly, "I wish for you to say hello to your mother and father for me, and request that they come to the Royal dining-room at some point in the coming week - I have been unable to visit them for so long." He smiled again as the carer stayed rooted to the spot, "Go... That's an order!"

Lainathan dipped her head in thanks, and a small smile spread itself across her face. She walked to the door, but then paused, one white hand upon the jamb, "Are you sure you don't need me to help..."

"Lainathan!" Thranduil cried in mock-exasperation, "You are allowed time off, you know - in all your years of service, surely I have taught you that! But I expect to see you bright and breezy upon the morrow, understood?" He raised a dark brow in question and his voice held an authority that was not to be argued with, even though he was merely jesting.

The maid grinned and bowed her head again, "Naturally, my lord." And she left, chuckling slightly as she walked down the western corridor, the one that held the portraits of the Royal family - no one had ever believed her, but she'd always known (and said) that the King's bite wasn't close to being as bad as he reputable bark. He was a kindly King, with just the right amount of severity.

Thranduil turned his attention to Legolas after the maid left, holding the child away from him at arm's length, hands beneath each armpit, and squinted at him, "Now, Dian Las, whatever are we going to do with you?"

"Nothing," Legolas suggested immediately with hope and a huge grin, his chin upturned cheekily.

His father shook his head slightly, as though grieved, "I am afraid that is simply not possible, Young One... and I know exactly what I am going to do with you." He leaned in as if divulging a huge secret, and whispered conspiratorialy in the child's small, pointed ear, "Bathtime."

Legolas immediately squealed and began writhing terribly in his father's firm grasp, desperate to escape, "Adar! Nay, nay!" He *loathed* bathtime with a passion, and always did everything in his power to evade it's watery claws.

"There will be no escape this time, I'm afraid," stated Thranduil cooly, and with that, he swung the violently struggling child upside-down over one of his broad shoulders and began to make his way to the bath-house. The father and son passed a lot of people along the corridors, and all of them bowed respectively to their King, but couldn't quite hold back the smiles from their fair faces as they saw the pair. It was well known that the King would lay down in the path of a Balrog for any one of his nine children, and Legolas not the least - and everyone knew that to face a Balrog was *almost* on a par with trying to get Legolas into a bath. He was notorious for getting away from the impending doom at the last possible second. Their smiles widened furthur as the young prince pleaded desperately with everyone they passed to help him. "Meltavia, you'll help me won't you? Meltavia? ...Hey! Hey, Davonnan! You *know* I always liked you - don't just smile at me! ...Selmanias! Help!"

Finally, through much kicking and objections, they reached the bath-house. A magnificent structure, it stood just outside the west wing of the palace, and yet was as private as one could get. It was carved of beautiful white- marble, the bath inside matching, with columns holding up the grandly- arched roof, Clamatis and other beautiful climbing plants draped themselves over the roof and hung down like a veil, some winding their way up and down the columns. Between each column was a woven-screen of wicker or fabric, providing superb shelter from the breeze and complete privacy, while not being closed off to the elements or the sky. The night was beautiful, the stars beginning to shine through the deepening pink of the sky, as the evening seeped away into night. And yet Legolas could not appreciate it just then.

"Adar! I do not *need* to take a bath!" he cried from his upside-down position. "And I'd like it more if I wasn't slung over your shoulder like a sack of potatoes!" his youthful coice was full of indignance.

"My apologies," the King said smoothly and, pulling his son down from his shoulder, proceeded to hang him by his left ankle in front of him as he continued to walk.

"Very funny," Legolas grumped, glaring at the King from his upturned position, and crossed his arms moodily - as children do - hair falling down away from his shoulders and face. They continued in such a way until they were actually inside the bath-house, whereupon the King promptly deposited the elfling upon a stack of fluffy towels and began to prepare te bath. Legolas knew there was no escape; Thranduil, though weighed down by heavy robes worn by Kings, was still shockingly fast at a run, and the child knew from many a past experience not to toy with that speed. Plus, his father had secured the bath-house in such a way that Greenleaf would only be able to escape by climbing over the screens of wicker and fabric - and while he was quite able and prepared to do such a thing, in the time it took to get cleanly over the screens, Thranduil would've caught him. ~No fair~ he thought, sulking slightly - which was unusual for him - as he crossed his legs and waited.

Thranduil, in the process of pumping the thermally-heated water from it's underground reserve into the large, ceramic bath tub, glanced at his child, and chuckled. Legolas *never* sulked, he was not that kind of child, but the brows drawn down deep into a frown and the folded arms and legs and hunched posture seemed to indicate otherwise. "Come on, Little One, it will not be all that bad," he tried to reassure.

Legolas half-way glared at him, "I would think you'd never taken a bath if I didn't know better," he replied gloomily, idle fingers turning to play with the frayed hem of his tunic.

The King smiled thoughtfully, and after a pause, said, "Well, we all know what happens when good elflings take their baths bravely, don't we?" At Legolas' puzzeled expression, he continued, "They get told wonderous stories by their ardars and are allowed to stay up just that little bit later."

It was Legolas' turn to appear thoughtful, and he smiled deviously. "Okay," he said, "I accept your terms..." he said, as if he was in any position to haggle the matter. "But you shall have to catch me first!" And with that, he launched himself from the pile of towels, and took off in the opposite direction.

Thranduil dropped the pump's wrought-iron lever and took off after him, fully aware that Legolas knew he was able to catch up with him easily, but playing along anyway. However, as the child grew, he was becoming faster and faster, and it was becoming slightly harder for his father to beat him so easily - all evidence to the fact that Legolas was to become a great warrior-elf. A grin spread across his face; he could hear Legolas giggling excitedly in front of him, and sped up. He caught the child around the his small waist and pulled him to his chest with a roaring sound, Greenleaf yelped and squirmed and laughed with delight. He started squealing hysterically as the King began tickling him. Legolas was terribly ticklish, even a slight jab in the ribs made him shriek, so when Thranduil began to tickle him without mercy, tears of mirth leaked from the corners of his bright eyes and he hollered upwards to the home of the Valar. His father laughed along with him, relishing the sound of his child's laughter ringing in his ears - for he could never hear it enough.

Neither of them knew it then, but this one sweet moment between father and son would serve to become a memory which both parties would look back to fondly later in life - whether it be when facing an unimaginably large army of orcs and Uruk-hai and standing in terrible wait upon a wall surrounded by men and at the side of two dearest friends of different races, facing a band of vicious wargs intent upon ripping the closest throat out, surrounded by no one and with only a bow to aid defence, or merely facing each other (which was perhaps the most frightening of those situations) - and smile.

The bath was ready, and Thranduil carried the now-exhausted, panting Legolas to the tub of warm, oil-scented water. He undressed his youngest and plonked him down in the inviting bath, ignoring the child's half- hearted struggles and awkward limbs. The water reached just below Legolas' skinny shoulders, it was almost like a lake and not a bath! All his other children, bar the twins - who found a way to go against the grain in almost everything - had thoroughly enjoyed bathtime, and couldn't wait long enough for the bath to be filled completely, so the water only ever managed to cover their legs... but because it took everyone so long to get Legolas anywhere *near* the bath-house, he would always be able to fully submerge himself almost twice over in the level of the water when it was through. "Aye, you are a strange one," Thranduil remarked as he watched Legolas play in the water - for *once* you got the child into the bath, he'd be quite happy there, playing with the little wooden ships and fish that were his bath-toys.

Legolas looked up when his father said that, and grinned - knowing implicitly the exact way to answer such a remark, "Why father, surely you know... I learn from the best."

Thranduil chuckled, and cuffed the boy gently upside his golden head, and at that moment he resolved to spend more time with his Green Child - he hated to admit it so, but he had missed so many joyful years and moments in Legolas' young life already, his Kingly duties sometimes having to take priotriy, his heart couldn't bear the thought of him missing any more.

"You are in here for a reson, Little One," he reminded his child after a while when he saw that no clensing processes had, as yet, begun - the child was still as filthy as ever, and quite happily so. Legolas tried to ignore this, and continued playing with his bath-toys, but the King simply reached down and took the wooden objects off him. The prince tried to scowl, but failed when Thranduil tickled his chin. "Now, let's get you clean," said the elder elf, and reached into one of the wooden cabinets beside the bath and retrieved butter-soap and a creamy solution of elvish concoction, made from the wild elderberries that grew all through Mirkwood, that cleaned hair and kept it soft. Legolas was as quiet as a lamb while Thranduil worked at lathering his limbs, back and chest with the butter-soap, and smiled when the pleasant scent reached his nose. Steadily, the grime and filth that had looked as though it might have been ingrained in the child's pale skin fell away as the King poured water from a large jug over the soaped body parts, the soot was washed from his hands and fingers, mud cleaned away from under his fingernails, the dirt from his bare feet and skinny legs... and the prince began looking like a prince once more!

When he had finished and, Thranduil laid the soap to rest on the side of the bath, and took a good look at his son. "Very good, ion nin [my son]," he praised, "But the biggest challenge facing me is your hair." He smiled when Legolas predictably groaned - he *truly* hated having his hair washed; an unfortunate incident involving the younger twin Andariun, the elderberry cream and a smaller Legolas' eyes having tainted the prince's view of this necessity irreversibly. "I am sorry, Dian Las, but it has to be done, I'm afraid."

"I know, adar... I just wish it were not the case," sighed Greenleaf with a wry smile. He screwed his eyes up and clapped both hands over his ears - he *hated* it when the lather got into his ears; he could never get it out - and declared firmly, "I am ready... do your worst!"

Thranduil smiled at his youngest son's hunched back, noting that he could see the boy's spine through his skin - he'd always said that Legolas was too thin - a trait shared by his elder brothers, the Crown Prince, Tusinduil, and Fienngil, who were both taller and lither than the twins, who had their father's broad shoulders and their mother's height - but no amount of feeding up could change him, the child simply burnt too much energy being himself. He glooped a little of the pale-red elderberry cream onto his hand from it's glass container, and began running it through Legolas' hair. The gold began to shine through once more as the muck was relieved from the soft strands as Thranduil worked. As he did so, Legolas began to sing a little song he had learnt recently to do with this sort of thing.

"Sing hey! for the bath at close of day that washes the weary mud away!
A loon is he who will not sing: O! Water Hot is a noble thing!

"O! Sweet is the sound of falling rain, and the brook that leaps from hill to plain;
but better than rain or rippling streams is Water Hot that smokes and steams.

"O! Water cold we may pour at need down a thirsty throat and be glad indeed;
but better is Beer, if drink we lack, and Water Hot poured down the back.

"O! Water is fair that leaps on high in a fountain white beneath the sky;
but never did fountain sound so sweet as splashing Hot Water with my feet!"

And with that, he churned the hot water with his small feet, and splashed his father greatly in the process. "Woah!" cried Thranduil, and took hold of the wild appendages to stop them and prevent any more water getting onto his fine robes. "Where did you learn that ditty? For it is a jolly little thing."

"Mithrandir taught me on his last visit, he told me it had always been sung, and always *would* be sung, by a race of Little People who live in the West of this earth... I had no idea what he meant, but I like the song."

"Me, too," Thranduil smiled, and carried on with his cleaning until finally the locks were shown in their full glory. "There, now... all done."

"Then can I get out now, adar? *Please*? I've gone all pruny, look!" Legolas asked as he showed his father his small hand, which was all wrinkled.

"Aye, you've been shrinking," the King told him with a smile. At Legolas' horrified look he laughed, "I am only jesting with you... but it is, indeed, time to get out now. It's bedtime for you."

"But, adar," Legolas protested as Thranduil lifted him easily out of the marble tub and wrapped him in one of the fluffy towels, "you promised that I could stay up later if I took the bath!"

"And you have... look at the stars, look how they shine for you," the King said as he dried the clean golden locks, and he watched as his youngest gazed out upon the now-night sky, smiling slightly as his father used the words that had always been spoken to him soothingly since he was a babe in swaddling clothes. It was a line from a beautiful song his mother sang to him in her soft voice, but the lyric was used on it's own a lot of the time if he needed assurance or anything. Each of the Royal children had songs made up for them when they were born, and all the Elves of the realm knew them, so in times of sadness or triumph or great joy, all would sing... each had huge meaning and sentimental value to the kin, and many had been sung merely at bedtime to lull the children in to peaceful slumber.

"Come on, bedtime, Little One," and he pulled the now-unresisting elfling into his strong arms and carried him back up to the palace, wrapped in the fluffy towel. When they reached the prince's bedroom, Legolas was near- asleep - the fun trails of his busy day seemed to have finally caught up with him, and so was quiet as Thranduil dressed him in his green, leaf- embroidered nightshirt and tucked him into the cool, soft bed. The King sat himself upon the edge of the bed, and gazed at his youngest who was looking up at him expectantly through his long dark lashes. He was at a loss as to what to do next; Leinnia usually put the younger children to bed while Thranduil spoke with his three eldest over a glass of wine... his heart panged as he realised that this was yet *another* thing he had missed out on.

"Where is everyone?" asked Legolas sleepily, realising suddenly that he hadn't seen any of his numerous brothers and sisters all day, which normally was vaguely impossible.

"Well, your brothers Fienngil and Ithilmir are hunting..." began Thranduil.

"Orcs or other?" asked the highly-perceptive elfling with a wicked grin.

Thranduil grinned, "Well, they *say* game, but I, for one, do not believe them... nor it seems, do you." He chuckled when Legolas shook his head vehemently, and carried on, "They're hunting... Aricesla, Esladiya, the Boys and your mother are in Rivendell with your Uncle Elrond... and Niandias and Tusinduil are about somewhere, I shouldn't wonder," he shrugged, "I think that's everyone accounted for.

"Good, good," yawned Legolas as he snuggled down furthur in the warm bedclothes, "I glad we haven't lost anyone... hey!" His green eyes snapped alert again from being half-lidded and unfocused, upon the brink of sleep, "You promised me a story! Don't think I havn't remembered," and he waved a menacing finger in front of his father's face.

"I did, didn't I?" Thranduil murmured softly as he smoothed some golden bangs away from the elfling's beautiful face. "But I get the feeling you are going to drop off in the middle of the tale if I tell you the story of your thiadai [grandfather's] adventure with the giant spiders again- "

"I will not!" Legolas cutted him off, crying out defensively. He *loved* any tale of his grandfather, and would gladly listen to them a thousand times over - he could pretty much recite the words of all the stories off by heart anyway.

" -*So*..." Thranduil continued pointedly, "I shall sing to you. And we shall save you the story for another time, hey?" He awaited his youngest's response, though he hardly needed to.

"Aye! Please!" Legolas said excitedly - his father so rarely sang to him anymore... he would not give up on a chance of hearing the elder elf's strong yet beautiful voice.

"Well, then, ion nin [my son]... lay down properly, that's it... good..." and he began to sing Legolas' song. The words sometimes meaning nothing at all, sometimes meaning everything, but the warmth and love Thranduil felt for behind the tune coming through.

"Look at the stars, look how they shine for you. An everything that you do,
they were all yellow.
I came along, I wrote a song for you. And all the things that you do,
and they were all yellow.

"So then I took my turn, oh what a thing to have done,
and it was all yellow.
Your skin, oh yes, your skin and bones turned into something beautiful.
Do you know, you know I love you so...

"You know I love you so.

"I swam across, I jumped across for you, oh, what a thing to do,
because you were all yellow.
I drew a line, I drew a line for you, oh what a thing to do,
and it was all yellow.

"And your skin, oh yes, your skin and bones turned into something beautiful,
and do you know, for you I'd bleed myself dry.
For you, I'd bleed myself dry.

"It's true; look how the shine for you, look how they shine for you...
Look how they shine.
"Look how they shine for you, look how they shine for you.

"Look at the stars, see how they shine for you, and all the things that you do."

Thranduil voice trailed off, and he saw that his youngest was the closest to sleep one could go without being fully under it's sway. The elfling smiled sleepily, his heart and mind filled with his song, his eyes heavy- lidded and his fingers curled around the bedsheets. He sighed happily, "Tain le, adar [Love you, father]," and fell immediately into a deep slumber, full of dreams of stars.

The King smiled softly at his sleeping son, taking in the beauty of this one, precious child... he had meant the words of the song; he would do anything for his Green Child, would go to the ends of the worlds just so he could see him smile, so he could hear his laugh. This rare night spent fully with his youngest, had opened his eyes to how much love Greenleaf gave him, and how little he openly returned... that would change.

He stood quietly and placed a gentle kiss upon Legolas' golden brow, his thumb rubbing the prince's smooth cheek tenderly. "Cer a-tain le, ion nin [And I love you, my son]," he murmured, and casting one loving glance back to the bed, where a pale shaft of starlight was illuminating the child where he slept soundlessly, he left the room.

The End

............................................................................ ............................................................................ ....................................... A/N: Song is (if you haven't guessed) 'Yellow' by the gods that are Coldplay.