~*~*~*~

Thranduil leaned against the wall arms crossed as he looked at the youths in front of him. His expression was hidden under hooded eyes. "I'm surprised. Your father and Elros would have been out of there within hours. It's taken you two days."

The youths gaped at the elven king. The king's revelation was shocking enough but he also wore only a plain hunting tunic and no adornment of his title. He did not sound angry in the least that they tried to escape. If they had not known better they would have thought it was Legolas waiting for them.

Thranduil reached over shutting Elladan's mouth. "Come you three must be hungry. We will eat then prepare to leave."

The king turned heading back up the staircase. After a moment for the youths to gather their wits and share a look they hurried after the elf lord.

Thranduil led them into a large dinning room where a hearty meal had been prepared for them. He had them sit before seating himself at the head of the table. Silence settled over the group as they ate. The youths constantly looking up at the King trying to figure out just what was going on.

"Elros was better at locks than Elrond." Thranduil stated as he pared an apple.

Elrohir braved the silence. "I did not know you knew him?"

Thranduil chuckled in amusement. "Oh yes. We met several times when we were growing up. In fact Elros was the one to teach me how to pick locks."

"Father doesn't talk about him much." Elladan said softly picking at the food on his plate.

"It bothers him more than he would admit that he lost his brother to the mortal fate." Thranduil stated plainly popping a piece of apple into his mouth. "You two remind me much of them."

The twins and Rowan shared a look. They were uneasy not knowing what was going on. The twins were curious about the current conversation but were to unsettled to continue with it.

"By the Valar!" Thranduil said loudly causing all three youths to jump. "I am not going to kill any of you. Rowan get that look of your face and relax."

"You're not angry sire?" Rowan asked timidly.

"Oh I'm angry." Thranduil assured them. "But not at you three. There is someone else whom I have to talk with."

"Ada." Elrohir replied in a small voice.

"Yes your father." Thranduil replied evenly. He looked over at the twins raising an eyebrow in curiosity. "I am curious though. What did you two do that caused you to be sent as the messengers?"



~*~*~*~

Nearly three weeks had gone by since the Fellowship had departed from Rivendell and Elrond was still researching his books. When the twins finally returned from Thranduil's he knew they would be anxious to go after Aragorn. They had talked about the twins riding North first to rally the Dunadain. Elrond wanted to make sure that everything was ready. Of course, first he may have to go get the twins.

Elrond didn't believe for a moment that Thranduil would harm his sons but the elven king's temper was legendary. Thranduil may still have his sons locked in the infamous dungeons.

Elrond carefully balance the books before carrying them to his study. He set them heavily on the desk watching dust fly. He looked up rather surprised to see a wine bottle sitting on the desk beside some cheese and bread. He smiled. Ihunaew must have dropped them off. Intrigued by the unfamiliar wine bottle Elrond picked it up studying the chilled contents.

Glorfindel entered carrying several more books that he set beside the others. He looked over curiously at the bottle Elrond held. "What have you got there?"

"Wine I believe, but not from my cellar."

Glorfindel liberated the bottle from Elrond sniffing at it curiously. "Maybe it came from Thranduil's house. Smells good."

Elrond rolled his eyes before remarking dryly. "Would you like to try some?"

Glorfindel grinned procuring two goblets from the tray. "I thought you'd never ask."

~*~*~*~

Elladan, Elrohir, and Rowan rode companionably beside the King of Mirkwood as he regaled them with stories from his youth. The young elves were really beginning to enjoy the time they had spent with the elder elf. They were seeing a side to the king they hadn't before. The twins were especially eager, as they had learned many interesting facts about their father and Elros.

Maybe because Thranduil like their father spent most of their time at their homes it was amazing to think of them as children or as warriors. They were simply parents. Parents you respected, loved, listened to, and sometimes feared when you misbehaved.

Thranduil had busted that misconception the first few days of travel. He had astounded the youths with his knowledge and woodcraft teaching them a few things they hadn't even known. And the stories. All in all it was a good time for the young elves.

It was near evening when they approached the borders of Rivendell. The King had become quieter as they neared the heart of the Last Homely House. It was a little distressing that this meeting between Thranduil and Elrond could destroy relations between the two elven homes.

The elves entered into the quiet courtyard. Neither Elrond nor Glorfindel came out to meet them. The twins shared a puzzled look as they dismounted. That was strange.

"By the Valar! He will not ignore me!" Thranduil growled harshly. He swung down from his horse striding up the stairs into the house.

The young elves quickly raced after the blonde king. They slid into the corridor to see Thranduil turn the corner striding to Elrond's study. Slipping and sliding on the polished floor they raced after him. The Elven King didn't even knock on the door only barging straight in, the twins and Rowan right behind him, nearly bowling into the Wood King who had stopped dead. They peaked around Thranduil's shoulders to see what the problem was. The children stared in shock at their seniors.

~*~*~*~

Glorfindel and Elrond were sitting on the desk singing a very bawdy drinking song. Both elves were disheveled and dirty looking as if they had rolled in the dirt like elflings. Glorfindel held a large eagle feather in his hand that he occasionally twisted through the air. They raised their glasses cheerily upon seeing Thranduil and the younger elves.

"'Randuil," Glorfindel called merrily. "It's about time you joined us."

"Indeed." Thranduil replied neutrally.

"Yes!" Elrond exclaimed loudly thumping his fist against the table. "We shall have a drinking contest like we did in Lindon!"

"I won that contest Peredhil." Thranduil replied.

"Well you won't win this one!"

"Ada!" The twins exclaimed in unison.

"You are drunk!" Rowan stated watching the two elven lords with wide eyes.

"Not drunk." Glorfindel corrected. "Not drunk, just slightly, I mean a little, a very little, inebriated."

Thranduil moved to the desk firmly removing the wine bottle from Elrond's hands. Glorfindel made a grab for it but Thranduil easily kept it away from them. He sniffed at it warily. "This is a strange brew."

The twins' eyes widened as they recognized the bottle. "Where on Arda did they get that?!"

"You recognize it then?" Thranduil questioned.

Elladan nodded. "Yes. They will be quite drunk. It looks like they near finished it."

The younger twin shook his head. "This is not good."

"Well it seems as if I will not be talking to your father today." Thranduil replied ignoring the elven lords protests. "Elladan, Elrohir take your father to bed. Rowan and I will see to Glorfindel."

~*~*~*~

The next morning Thranduil sat on the balcony watching the sunrise in the east. It had taken little time last night to get the elven lords to bed. Which left him more time than he wanted to sit and think. That's all he had been doing since the news of his son's departure. He was frustrated, angry, worried, and feeling a bit helpless about the situation. If there was one thing Thranduil hated it was feeling helpless.

He was helpless to stop the Shadow's growth in Mirkwood. Helpless to stop his wife's departure over the sea. Helpless to keep his son safe.

He rose angrily as he moved to lean against the balcony. He reached up slipping a hand into his tunic to touch the letter that Legolas had sent. Legolas had begged him to understand.

...Please understand I do not choose this course lightly. I believe it is the best course of action. It is my decision father, and I want to do what is right. You always told me to follow my heart in these matters. I am. I will make you proud of me. I love you. Legolas.

How could any father not be proud of his son? Legolas was his joy, his little greenleaf. But no father wanted to see his child walk into danger either. He was no fool either and this was a fool's journey into the heart of darkness itself.

Thranduil unclenched his fingers from around the letter. He would find neither peace nor rest until his son came home.

Focusing on the sky, noticing for the first time that the sun had risin high, Thranduil came to a decision. It was time to talk to Elrond.

~*~*~*~

The twins tiptoed up to Glorfindel's door pressing their ears against the woodwork. They listened intently to the sounds coming from within. They hadn't braved their father's room yet and were hesitant to do so. They were hoping that neither of the elves was terribly sick or they would have to ride North immediately, if only to save their own skins.

The image of Glorfindel happily swinging the eagle feather in the air came unbidden to mind causing Elladan to stifle a giggle.

Elrohir glared at his twin giving him a sharp nudge in the ribs. He put a finger to his lips listening intently into the room.

"When I get my hands on the two of you, You will THINK a day spent with ORCS is a PICNIC." Glorfindel's voice echoed out of the room.

The twins eyes widened in horrified shock. They scrambled away from the door putting as much distance between them and it as was possible.

Glorfindel was going to kill them. Packing sounded like a good idea.

~*~*~*~

Elrond groaned out loud as someone burst into his chambers. Did he have no privacy? He tried to bury himself further under the blankets. Whatever the twins wanted they would have to wait until later. If it was someone coming to complain about his sons it would have to wait until later. And if it was Arwen trying to recruit help from the twins she would have to wait until later.

"Wake up Peredhil."

Elrond's head throbbed at the commanding voice. His foggy mind registered the fact that there were few in Imladris that would call him that. Especially in that tone of voice.

Elrond rolled over in bed to focus one bleary eye on his guest. "Thranduil." His voice sounded hoarse to his own ears and his throat felt scratchy. Was he sick? "These are my private chambers, you are being rude."

Thranduil arched a dark brow seemingly unconcerned. The Elf King moved to sit in a chair across from the bed looking quite comfortable. Seeing that the other showed no signs of leaving Elrond glared at him.

"What do you want?" Elrond demanded.

Thranduil smirked. "Seeing as how your sons and I hauled your drunken self around last night you could be politer. There is also the fact that we kept both you and Glorfindel from making complete fools of yourselves to the entire house."

"I was drunk?"

"Verily."

"I haven't been drunk in three thousand years. You should know, you were there and just as drunk as I was."

"You mean since last night."

Elrond gritted his teeth. "You are not going to leave me be are you?"

"No." Thranduil replied his voice going cold. "There is a certain matter we have to discuss."

Elrond sighed sitting up in bed. He rubbed his temples trying to ease the ache that had settled behind his eyes. "He volunteered nin mellon."

"You should have told him no."

"He is an adult. He brings great skills and strengths to the Fellowship."

Thranduil stood stepping closer to the bed. "There are other elves in your house that would have went. Why him? Why my son?"

"Thranduil listen to me he volunteered to go. Yes there are other elves that would have gone. I did not come to this decision lightly nor did I do it to hurt you. Legolas' skill with a bow is great as is his fighting prowess. His dealing with Dol Guldur has made him oversensitive to evil just as his blood connections to Mirkwood. He has dealt with the evil in your woods and knows what to look for. The others will appreciate his youth and light banter. And because he is not an Elven Lord like you and I, he won't attract unwanted attention. He has a strong bond with Aragorn and Gandalf and carries few prejudices against other races like many of our people. And- he was also meant to go."

Thranduil met Elrond's eyes. "What have you seen?"

Elrond shook his head. "It's not what I've seen. When the Fellowship first stood together it felt right. I knew I had made the right choices."

"For your sake, for all our sakes, I hope you are right Peredhil." Thranduil replied softly. "I know what is at stake here just as much as you do. But my son had better return. I have lost a wife, I will not loose a son."

~*~*~*~

Two hours later Thranduil was preparing his mount for the ride back to Mirkwood. Rowan was silently working beside him. The Wood King once more looked upon the beauty of Rivendell. Part of him still did not agree with any of this, seeing only danger for his son. The other part supported Elrond's decision. The Noldor was gifted in these matters and he was willing to trust to blind faith. But it still hurt and he didn't have to like it.

So being of two minds he prepared to leave. His own people would look to him in the coming days ahead. There were still things that must be prepared if it came down to war. Mirkwood would not fall, because his son would look for it on his return.