Estel stared wistfully out the window of his bedroom, his head resting heavily upon his folded arms. He didn't know exactly how long he'd been sitting there, but he refused to pull himself away until he was sure Legolas had arrived safely in Imladris. The two together had a tendency to come into harm's way while travelling, but perhaps the Elf prince of Mirkwood would have better luck on his own.

Legolas Greenleaf, as he was commonly called, was indeed the only child of King Thranduil of Mirkwood, making him heir to the throne besides prince. He was definitely regal, as far as Estel saw, besides a great many other things. He was a fearless warrior and one hell of an archer. But above all, Legolas was a wonderful friend. And that's what Estel knew him as. His best friend.

No, he's my brother, Estel thought. And indeed, between the two was such a love that words could never do it justice. They had a bond forged by time and destiny, soul mate friends. Estel could not imagine a time when he had not known Legolas, and he was glad he didn't. Every good time he had to look back on in his life had been with the Elf.

Estel sighed restlessly. Where was he? Legolas had promised to come,surely he would not forsake his word. Estel had not seen his best friend for 2 years. He had been so lonely,it was nearly unbearable. Legolas and he had gotten caught up in a perilous adventure before they had last parted. Estel had barely made it out alive, which was why Legolas had left on his own to travel for a time. The Elf had done it out of guilt and the belief that the young human would be better off without him. Elrond too had silently wished for him to leave his adopted son, and not write in hopes to make Estel forget.

But he had never forgotten. He had thought of Legolas every single day since he had left. Indeed, he had been so mournfully sure he would never see his best friend again. But now Legolas was coming back for Estel's twenty-first birthday.

Estel remembered that time two years ago before Legolas had left. He remembered nearly falling into a chasm to his death and how Legolas had grabbed for him desperately. He remembered the moment their hands had clasped across the distance between them and how Legolas had pulled him to safety. He remembered the Elf's guilty silence, saddened eyes, and how he had so swiftly left without a word. Estel remembered how he had ran after Legolas as the Elf galloped away on his horse without looking back, his own shouts echoing in his head. That was the last time they had seen each other. Estel had never heard from him until about two weeks ago,when a letter had come saying he would return to Imladris for Estel's birthday. Elladan and Elrohir had been equally excited to see their old friend again, and Elrond had smiled pleasantly, also looking forward to seeing the prince.

But Estel had sat there silently, and had not spoken of it to anyone since.

" He'll come, Estel ", a voice brought the young man out of his thoughts. It was Elladan,the older twin.

Estel turned around to look at his brother, the pain and yearning in his gray eyes. Elladan looked at him sympathetically, before sitting down beside him.

" Estel, I know how much you care about Legolas. And I know how...hard it's been for you these past two years. I hope you know that no one meant to cause you pain. Father never wanted for your friendship to end. He just worries, Estel, you know? And Legolas thought it best if he took some time away. But he's coming back now and it'll be fine", the dark haired Elf said comfortingly.

" Elladan, I know everyone tries to do what's best for me. But how do you know when you never ask? I am no longer a child, and you cannot treat me like one. How did Legolas and Father know if it would be best for us to separate? That's not what I wanted, that wasn't the solution. My best friend was taken from me, Elladan. And two years might not seem like much to you Elves, but for me 'tis as eternity. And I had to bear my pain and my loneliness every single day for those two years just because somebody else thought it 'best' ", Estel answered, a pain in his voice.

Elladan did not know how to reply to this, for obviously it had been wrong to separate Estel and Legolas. After a few moments of silence, Elladan laid a hand on Estel's shoulder.

" No matter what has been lost, Legolas returns to us,Estel. Take heart and rejoice in it ", he said.

Estel was quiet as Elladan left him alone.

Estel ate dinner quietly that evening, his brothers and Elrond keeping the silence. No sign of the prince had turned up that day. Elrohir glanced up at his little brother with compassion. Elrond looked upon all three of his sons, feeling the tension in the air. The Lord of Imladris also had a daughter, Arwen, who lived in Lothlorien and would not return for at least a few more years. She had been gone longer than Estel had been alive,but Elrond took leave every few years to visit her.

" So, anything interesting happen today? " he asked causally, trying to coax them all out of silence.

" No, nothing in particular ", said Elladan. Estel moved his food around his plate.

Just then, the doors opened as a servant of Elrond appeared.

" My lord, your guest has arrived ", he announced simply.

And the servant stepped aside to reveal the visitor.

And there, in the doorway, stood Legolas.

He stood with his bow in hand, his silvery blonde tresses draped over his shoulders, his fair face still. He hardly breathed as he stood directly across from where Estel sat. His brilliant blue eyes glowed with emotion, almost fear. He looked dangerously close to weeping or fleeing or falling back.

Everything froze for a moment, as Legolas stood there,his eyes locked with Estel's. Elladen,Elrohir,and Elrond all stood still watching them nervously, waiting to see what would take place. Estel had dropped his fork and sat unmoving in his chair, his stormy gray eyes glowering just as the Elf's did.

And then, Estel stood from his chair and swiftly approached the prince. Legolas met him halfway, and the two threw their arms around each other in a desperate embrace. They wrapped their arms around each other and buried their faces in each other's shoulders. Both had tears in their eyes.

" Blessed Elbereth, how I've missed you ", Estel whispered. The two rocked back and forth in their embrace.

" My heart has longed for this every eve since I left ", Legolas replied, his voice laced with tears.

" O Valar, your voice ", said Aragorn as he lifted his face to the ceiling. " Two years have I gone without hearing it. Two years ", he added.

" Estel, Estel, Estel ", Legolas murmured as the two rocked back and forth. They did not wish to let go, and for a long while they did not.

Elrond,Elladen,and Elrohir watched on in amazement and then a rising guilt at tearing the two apart.

With reluctance, Estel and Legolas broke apart finally. Both wiped tears from their face and exchanged smiles.

" It's wonderful to see that smile again ", Estel said,for truly Legolas' smile always brightened everyone's days. This comment only caused the Elf prince to smile even more.

" Well, it's wonderful to see that pair of gray eyes again. Although for once they are not devious ", Legolas said.

Estel grinned broadly. " At the moment, I can be only too happy ", he told him.

" Ah, but no man's happiness can exceed mine ", said Legolas.

" Are you saying that Elves are capable of more happiness than Humans? " Estel questioned playfully.

" What if I am? What would you do about it, juvenile? " Legolas taunted with a sly smile, motioning to be chased.

" Would you care to see how I've improved my swordsmanship over the past two years? " Estel challenged as he approached the Elf, who stood as a deer about to spring away.

" I don't know, what would you show me besides something to laugh over? " asked Legolas.

" Would an Elf prince falling victim to a major ass kicking be something comical? " Estel countered.

Legolas threw his head back in laughter, and the twins had to stifle their own chuckles.

" Then please, oh ass kicking one,come show me ", Legolas beckoned.

Aragorn grinned deviously before drawing his sword. He lunged at Legolas, who whipped out his knives and blocked.

" Ooo, not bad for a rookie ", said the Elf prince.

Aragorn spun around and swung at his stomach, but Legolas ducked swiftly before springing up and swinging both knives at the man's neck. Aragorn blocked as he leaned back with little space between them.

" I'll always be a rookie to you, O ancient, gray-haired one ", Aragorn teased.

The two shifted, Legolas blocking Estel's sword with one knife as it came down above his head.

" Gray hair? Why, I ought to cut your head off right now ", said Legolas in a mock threatening tone.

They clashed blades, Legolas pushing Estel up against the wall.

" And what would you do with my head, Prince of Mirkwood? " Aragorn inquired.

" Why, I do believe I'd put it on my mantle ", Legolas said with a feigned sweetness in his voice.

Aragorn laughed at this and the twins chuckled softly in the background. Elrond was smirking out of the ordinary. The two friends continued to mock fight for a good while until finally, they locked blades and called it a draw. Typical, thought Elrond.

" Now that we've gotten that out of the way, perhaps I should give you your birthday presents ", said Legolas as he walked over to where he had dropped his things on the ground. He picked up his bow and his pack, laying them on the table. Legolas rummaged through his pack as Aragorn crept up cautiously behind him, curious but discreetly patient.

The Elf smirked as his hands met the object sought after. He pulled a small bundle from his bag and slowly untied the leather strip that held it all together. Legolas' eyes were warm as they fell upon the first thing in the bundle. He lifted it up to Estel with both hands, care in them.

" This is for you, mellonin ", he said.

Estel took it and his eyes widened as they recognized the favorite knife of his best friend. He unsheathed it,and the blade gleamed at him, smooth and polished. The sheath was tough leather, the swirls of Mirkwood decorating it identical to that which adorned Legolas' bow.

But there was something new there, Estel noticed. On the hilt there was engraved his name " Estel " and then beside it " Edhel Gwador ". He felt his eyes sting with tears as they were locked upon the phrase " Elf Brother " carved elegantly in Sindarin.

" But this is your favorite blade ", he said to Legolas, still staring at the gift in his palms.

" Well, it used to be. And, truth be told, I am still rather fond of it. But I, too, have improved in the last two year. I have a new and 'sick' passion for my white knives, as my father says ", Legolas replied, smirking at the memory of his father's words. Elrond stifled a chuckle as he imagined Thranduil's annoyance with Legolas.

" And so I could bear to give this one up. Besides, what better present for our reunion and your twenty - first birthday than this? " said Legolas pleasantly.

Estel looked up at his best friend, the words " Edhel Gwador " still dominating his mind, and embraced Legolas.

" Hannon le ", he said, subduing the imminent tears in his eyes. Legolas only smiled in satisfaction and returned the gesture. He let go of Estel and said enthusiastically,

" Now, you still have two more."

Next, he drew a book from beneath the velvety coverlet of the bundle. He ran his hand over the soft leather that the book was bound in, smiling to himself. It was a pure, white color, with gold edged leaflets. He held it out to Estel.

" You have a blade of Mirkwood and now a collection of Elven poetry and song from the Lady of Lothlorien ", he said.

Estel took it in awe, as if it were the most precious of treasures.

" The Lady Galadriel? I know her not, save for in verse. She thought as much of me to give me a gift? " he asked.

" She knows many things, including who you are. She thought your twenty first birthday was deserving of a gift from the Golden Wood ", said Legolas. " And besides, she has given me so many books over the years, she thought it sensible if she were to give my best friend something of similar nature. The Lady is most gracious ", he added, smiling.

" She has given you books before? I knew not that you loved literature that much. I have often seen you reading, though ", said Aragorn as he opened the book cautiously and flipped it's pages swiftly.

" Lady Galadriel and I share the same love of literature, particularly of our own kin. She has such a library as only a dreamer could fathom. She gives me at least one book whenever my path leads to her realm ", said Legolas lightly.

Elrond and the twins smiled as they listened to Legolas speak of Galadriel, the mother of Celebrian, Elrond's wife and the twins' mother. She had long sailed to Valinor, however. But her children loved their grandmother and their mother's native land of Lothlorien, so they spent much time there. It was Arwen's haven, where she now resided blissfully. She also loved books. That seemed common among Elves, really.

" And finally, something from your own Imladris, to complete your gifts from each Elven realm ", said Legolas as he turned back to the nearly empty cloth on the table. From it, he lifted a small box. He offered it to Estel, who took it politely and opened it. It was a ring, one he recognized as the work of the Elves of Rivendell. An almost black stone was inlaid in an intricate, silver band. He slipped it on his finger and looked back to Legolas.

" Thank you, mellonin. For everything ", he said sincerely. Legolas grinned and nodded.

" Did you happen to see Arwen while you were in Lorien, Legolas? " Elrond inquired. Legolas looked past Estel to the Lord of Imladris.

" Indeed, I did, Lord Elrond. She is well and quite content. She sends you all her love and regards ", he told the twins their father.

They nodded and smiled gratefully.

" And she also sent word to wish you a happy birthday, Estel ", added Legolas. Estel nodded. He had never met Arwen, daughter of Elrond. But from what the twins had told him over the years of his lifetime, she was a very special She-Elf.

" Well, if that's everything, I must be getting back to my horse. I simply leaped off of her when I arrived ", Legolas grinned smugly. Yet Estel's eyes went wide. The blonde archer turned on his heel after giving a bow to Elrond and started off for the door. Estel dashed after him, catching him by the shoulder. Legolas turned to face him with a pleasant smile that vanished quickly.

" Estel, what's wrong? ",he queried, seeing the tears threatening to fall from the ranger's eyes.

" You're not leaving me again, are you? ", the young man asked with quivering lips.

" Oh, Estel ", Legolas breathed as he took his best friend in his arms, feeling equally loved and warm when Estel wrapped his own arms tightly around the slender frame of the Elf.

" I'll never leave you again. I promise you that ", Legolas murmured. " I promise."

Estel was holding him as tight as possible, not ever wanting to let go. He was so afraid that if he did, he would lose the prince once more. But Legolas stroked his hair and back soothingly, reassuring him that the Elf was going nowhere save for the stables.

" Estel ", Legolas whispered, his voice laced with tears as well, though they would not fall.

" Yes, mellonin? " Estel replied.

" Don't let go ", the Elf said quietly. He wanted to stay in that embrace forever. Estel buried his face in the archer's shoulder and tightened his hold further. After a long silence, Estel muttered,

" You know what? "

" What? " Legolas asked softly.

" Elbereth gave me my birthday wish."