In place of another – Part II

See ye not yon narrow road,

So thick beset with thorns and briars?

That is the path to righteousness,

though after it but few enquire.

And see ye not yon broad, broad road

That lies across the lilie leven?

That it the path to wickedness,

though some call it the road to heaven.

The Scottish Ballad 'Thomas the Rhymer'

~*

Lamalas hands shook slightly as he bent down to pick up his pack. He could feel Legolas' eyes on him. I had to do it? Don't you understand? Don't look at me so… The other elf's eyes were boring into him. Lamalas tried his hardest not to notice, hurriedly grabbing his pack and running off.

He strode down the path home, breathing a small, shaky sigh of relief. He had not expected Legolas to be at the training grounds today. Apparently, he had insisted on coming down to watch so he could at least learn from others. His arm was still not fully healed, Lamalas had noticed with a surge of guilt.

It was for the best. Sometimes, we have to do these things. In his heart of hearts, Lamalas knew it was wrong. Another had got hurt in place of himself.

~*

Legolas glared hard at Lamalas, noting his shaking hands as he retrieved his things. He wondered how anyone could be so indifferent. Suddenly, a memory resurfaced and he recalled a minor incident a few months ago.

"So you're here at last."

The older elf, Maeglin placed a firm hand on the smaller beings shoulders and led him away.

The next day, Lamalas had been paired with Legolas during warrior training. When Legolas had brushed against Lamalas elbow accidentally, the other elf had flinched and pulled away quickly.

Legolas had dismissed the action as nothing at that time, but perhaps there was more to it then it seemed.

He was disinclined to tell his father who his attackers were. It was not that he didn't want to. It was just that … something nagged at him at the back of his mind that it would be better if he tried to settle this himself. He had to find some answers.

~*

Tuor had heard the rumors.

The prince had been attacked by some assailants.

Their identity had yet to be found…

The king was furious…

He had told himself to relax. Breathe. Calm down. It could have been someone else who did it. All he had to do was make sure Lamalas was still… out of action. If he was, it proved that it was not them

Just then, he caught sight of Lamalas running off home after training.

Running…

~*

Legolas was hurrying back to the palace. He had promised his ada to be home on time. He could just see the palace in the distance, when a hand tapped his shoulder. Not again… Legolas thought dismally, his guard up at once.

Turning around, he found himself faced with the three elves from the night before. He glanced sideways, looking for any possible escape route, before deciding there was no running away, and looking them square in the eye.

"What do you want?"

He said in the frostiest tones he could manage.

"Peace. We come to apologize."

"Yes, we were waiting for the miserable worm Lamalas."

Legolas pondered over this for a while. So he had guessed right. They had intended for Lamalas to take the beating and not himself.

"But why…?"

He ventured after a few moments. He was met with stony silence, as the three older elves pretended to stare at something interesting far away.

"So … will you tell your ada?"

"Will you hurt Lamalas again? Or anyone else for that matter?"

"No."

"And I have your word."

"Yes."

Legolas knew he could believe them, they knew the consequences of breaking their word anyway. With nothing more to be said, he nodded slightly to them and continued on his way back.

~*

Tuor lay on his bed that night, pondering over his earlier conversation with the Prince.

It had all began when his father met with an accident on one of the orc skirmishes at Southern Mirkwood. He had began to withdraw more and more into himself. Ignoring his Naneth and refusing to speak to her. Eventually he did begin to talk to her again, but their conversations were nothing but formal, polite conversation. He supposed his grief had manifested into rage and he had started taking it out on Lamalas who unfortunately was at the wrong place at the wrong time. It had just become a habit after that.

His friend's Maeglin and Amroth were simply being influenced by him. He was slightly older then they and they had always been highly affected by him.

Things could be different now. He resolved to change. He heard the door to his room open and his Naneth creep silently to his bedside. She tucked him in and kissed him tenderly on the forehead, thinking him to be asleep.

He blinked and she pulled back slightly in shock. Things could be different now. He hugged his mother tightly and whispered, quietly a few soft words.

I love you Naneth.

~*

Weeks passed and Legolas' arm healed. His father had not pursued the matter of how he had incurred these injuries. He knew his son would tell him in time to come.

"Lamalas and… Legolas."

Legolas almost laughed out loud at the other elf's look of horror and shock. He had long forgiven the other elf. They both picked up their weapons and prepared to spar.

At the end of the session, Legolas had effectively disarmed Lamalas and brought him to the ground. He reached out a hand to help him up.

Lamalas looked up in surprise and took the hand gladly. He dusted himself off and then whispered rather hoarsely.

"You – I …"

"All is forgiven, mellon  nin. We all make the wrong choice sometimes."

"I am sorry."

Legolas beamed at him and together they walked to where their things lay.

A month, later as Legolas was washing up and readying himself for bed he realized something. Lamalas stuttered no more.

THE END

Writer's note : I'm glad I received such a great response for the first chapter!!! I hoped you found this a reasonable way to resolve the issue. Wow, I really can't believe I FINISHED a fic for once. :o)      

The names, Tuor, Maeglin and Amroth were randomly selected from an elvish name generator. I am only a quarter of the way through the Silmarillion and didn't know the names were from there. So, I hope no one minded too much my borrowing them.

Thanx for the reviews !! :o)

If you have any suggestions for future fics, do tell ! :o)

And pls review this chapter !!!  :o)