A/N: Why hullo there! Bet you missed me... Beth, I'm looking at you... ahahaha.

Ahem, yes... I am proudly pleased to announce that this is the first chapter of the Mirkwood story I've been procrastinating about for such a very long time.

Little, tiny catch, though... I haven't really written the whole thing out in my head yet, and so to save you all a vast, annoying delay (like the one I've subjected my Star Wars fans to: I'm far too scared to go back to one of my stories... I think they may have given up one me!) - I decided that if I get good response off of this first chapter... 'cause I have to know whether you all like it.... there'll be a gap of about a week, where I'll write (hopefull) the next two chapters, and so I'll be at least a couple ahead when it comes to updating etc.

It's far better in the long run, seriously. Trust me. lol.

Anyway, I proudly pronounce that this story is dedicated to my fav. reviewer: Beth.... and my new internet bud: Jaimie.

Hope you all love it, don't forget to review.

AliciA xxxxxxxxxx

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"Legolas! If you fidget about much more you shall fall off your horse!"

Gandalf's shout from the front of the company was amused, and it caused all the fellowship to turn around and stare at the vastly uncomfortable elf bringing up the rear. The prince's leaf-shaped ears immediately flushed a light-pink colour in reaction as he stilled in his seat at once, much to Gimli's amusement, who was sitting right behind Greenleaf upon the great white steed, Arod, and therefore had a very good view. Merry and Pip sniggered heartily, large eyes sparkling with mirth, and even Aragorn turned his dark head away slightly in order to hide his unwanted smile.

But Legolas did not retort with a sharp return or even glare at the Istar, but instead simply carried on fiddling with Arod's soft mane, and staring straight ahead blankly, his green eyes fixed resolutely on some remote point in the distance and flashing silver occasionally, biting his bottom lip till it was flushed red.

Dark imposing trees leered down threateningly over the barely-trodden path of the company of eight travellers, gnarled fingers tempted to grasp at any unfortunate soul who strayed too far within their reach, giant trunks cruelly trapping hearts that were now evil and trecherous. Those of the fellowship who had not before travelled through the vast forest of Mirkwood were discovering that the land certainly lived up to it's name. The War of the Ring and the battle against evil may have been over for Gondor and Rohan - for the most part, at least - but the elves of this area were still galantly fighting the forces of darkness, as they had been doing for so many millenia, and unfortunately the wood about them bore evidence of this justice, as the majority of it had become twisted and under the sway of evil quite some time ago.

And yet, despite the grim danger and frightening feel the forest held, Legolas should still have been happy and excited: it was his homeland, after all... he knew the ways of the wood, knew that the closer one got to the Elven stronghold in the far North-East, the grander and more beautiful the trees became, given hope and light by the elves who constantly praised them, deigning to live within their boughs.

But Legolas was neither happy nor excited, and none but a scarce few could understand his behaviour at that time.

Samwise Gamgee, himself utterly bewildered by the perplexing elf's strange actions, suddenly urged his plump pony to trot up to the front of the company from where he rode with his master Frodo, and he fell into step with his friend Aragorn, sitting upon the great chestnut-beast, Brego. "Mr. Strider?" asked the hobbit garderner quietly, still calling the Elessar by the name they met with, but only because the King ordered it to remain so.

Aragorn - no more a king to the rest of the fellowship than ever before, for he did not act any differently than when they had all set out with the Ring two years earlier - twisted in his seat, and looked down amicably, "Yes, Sam?"

"I was jus' wondering," and here Sam's voice dropped even lower, to an almost conspiratorial level, so as not to catch the sharp ears of Greenleaf. "Why is Mr. Legolas so worried 'bout returning to his homeland? I would have thought he'd be happy about coming home - I was 'bout the Shire... 'til I saw what had happened, the Scouring an' all, that is... if you follow me, sir - but Legolas seems to be almost fearing it.... I jus' don't understand."

Aragorn, King of Gondor, grinned in the same haphazard manner he had during his long span as a ranger. He knew the reason for his small friend's worry and confusion, and so he explained it to the young hobbit, who did not know his Elven friend as well as he did, having not grown up with the elf as his protector and friend. "Legolas, I'm afraid, is working himself up for nothing. He believes that - once again - he shall be victim of his father's wrath when he returns home, for he left his lands without the King's blessing... The King is very strict in the ways of orders: they are to be abided at all costs... that is the way in Mirkwood - it's a matter of survival here."

He sighed a little, remembering the swift but furious argument that had taken place between he and his best friend just after the council of Elrond when Legolas had named himself a member of the walking nine. The prince had been so determined to go, to 'look after Estel', as he had put it, that not even the threat of his father's temper - a threat not to be trifled with at the best of times - could reign either him or his spirit. The elf, though a wise being, had been completely unable to imagine or comprehend his best friend walking of his own will into almost-certain death without having him at his side, and had flat-out refused to be left behind. Aragorn had eventually agreed to let him come, perhaps more for his own selfish benefit than anything else: he knew he would be greatly comforted if the prince was guarding the path about them, for he knew of no better warrior.

Aside from that, who would have known Legolas could be that frightening when he wanted to be...

Aragorn continued, "You probably did not know it, Sam, but Legolas gave up a great deal to join us on the quest, including his father's happiness and his duties as a prince and leader of the Warriors of Mirkwood. He also forfeited the chance of attending his eldest sister's betrothal - and I can imagine that Princess Niandias was most upset. I believe that he has been able to ignore those unhappy facts during our journey by always trying to ensure that we were all safe, to look out for us. He had a job and duty in the fellowship and to his friend and his adopted-world," he paused and sighed again, "but now it seems that old fears have come back to haunt him."

"Oh, dear..." Sam looked most distressed, and looked away in something like shame. He hadn't even imagined that the prince had had to sacrifice anything to accompany them on their great journey. He'd always taken rather for granted the fact that, for as long as was possible, he'd had a noble Elven warrior looking out for him and his friends, guarding them with his keen eyes, sharp intelligence and swift bow. He realised suddenly that he had not even given Legolas' decision a second thought. "Poor Mr. Legolas," he said aloud, voice saddened but heart touched that his friend would do such a thing.

Aragorn chuckled deeply at the halfling's expected reaction... the young Gamgee held one of the largest hearts he had ever encountered in a creature of Middle-earth, and always gave his feelings generously to those he loved.

Sam himself did not see anything in the dismal situation that should amuse his friend, and looked confused at Aragorn's surprising response. And so Strider continued, aware he had only been helpful in confusing the halfling even further, "Aye, poor Legolas... But fear not, Master Gamgee: I know Thranduil Wiseoak well, and I believe whole-heartedly that he will not be angered with his youngest son when he sees him. King Thranduil is an extremely regal and powerful elf, and most who are in their right mind do not wish to vex him, but he has no small heart... and also, one must remember that many have often said Greenleaf is not in his right mind."

They both chuckled rather sneakily for a moment. Then Aragorn sobered and, leaning down in Brego's saddle, spoke quietly... as though the wall of trees about them had ears. "The King, though not one to usually show his emotions to anyone other than those closest to him, will have missed Legolas sorely when he left, despite what our Elven friend has to say. Despite the fact that Legolas defied him... but you are not to let that information escape into the knowledge of the populus of Mirkwood, for most know their King as the stern, hardened leader that he is... if you follow me." At this, both the man and the hobbit turned and looked back at the anxious Wood Elf, who now had his gazed glued firmly to the forest floor in front of his horse, his proud shoulders slanted, still quietly fiddling with Arod's mane.

"Indeed," rumbled Gandalf from just in front of them, who had been listening to the exchange with amusement, making them whirl round to face him. "I know the King of the Elven Archers will be quite overjoyed to have his Little Leaf back with him again, and so Legolas may get away with being locked in the dungeons for only a short time." The wizard had had the pleasure of being in the Royal family's company for many, many years, at different points in his long life, and was priviledged to know just how fondly Thranduil viewed his youngest child, though he would never dream of showing it to any impartial observers. "Especially as it will be a great surprise, for they do not know we are coming." At this, Gandalf twisted round upon Shadowfax's grand back with a smirk and a wink, deep blue eyes twinkling almost-mischievous starlight.

Aragorn laughed heartily and even Sam grinned. But then the hobbit became pensive once more, heart rebelling, "Do you not think you should, well... let him know... That is to say, let him know that his dad won't be angry with him after all... Strider?" Sam's large brown eyes narrowed slightly at the innocent look suddenly plastered across his good friend's handsome face as Aragorn shifted his gaze to the scorched bark of the large, intimidating trees lining both sides of the almost-path. "Mr. Strider.." Sam said slowly, trying to prevent the smile he felt from creeping across his lips, wariness present in his voice, "...you haven't, perhaps, thought it was a good idea to let our poor prince stew in misery for as long as possible, just for your own laughs, have you?"

As he looked down at his half-sized companion in apparent shock, a look of mock-horror flashed across the weathered plains of the former-ranger's face, "Me, Master Gamgee? You believe me, someone who has known 'poor' Legolas as a best friend for decades, someone who knows each and every single way to irk our 'poor' Elven prince, every way to make him light of heart, to make him sad, to make him angered... you believe someone of that experience to pull a trick that so idiotically simple?"

At Sam's raising of dark brows, obvious disbelief making them arch, Aragorn sighed and looked him right in the eyes, slate-grey against deep brown, and whispered, "Mayhap."

"Aragorn, sir!"

"Well..." The King of Gondor raised both his arms in a helpless position, trying to verify his actions, as if he were a mere lad, "He well and truly deserves it, letting me think I had insulted him and his family for three days!"

Sam laughed aloud at that; for he remembered, not too long ago in their journey to Mirkwood, Strider making some jesting comment or other about the famed sharp-wittedness of the Royal family of Eryn Lasgalen at the campfire to make the hobbits - most especially Frodo - laugh. There had also been sneaky objective of trying to tell them more about the elven society they would soon be residing with - either way, Aragorn had not realising at the time his best friend had been standing right behind him at the time. It was only the positively stricken look that adorned all three hobbit's features suddenly that had alerted him, and he had turned in time to see the prince apparently storming off in the opposite direction.

The hobbits had learned then that Legolas was extremely protective of his family's name, and it was unwise to besmirch the name of the Oaks ever. This was due to the fact that they had worked hard to make their name proud and utterly respected in all realms of Elvedom, forcefully casting aside the typical assumption that Royals were ignorant, good-for-nothing but hoarding jewels and trinkets, fools who merely sat languidly about in their lavish palaces whilst their people worked and fought for them.

Obviously, once he had decided it was truly not a jest at his expense, Aragorn had felt truly terrible, seriously believing to have wounded his best friend's heart and pride, and erred most grievously. He had tried many methods to make amends with Legolas, who had neither looked at nor spoken a word to him for almost three days after the incident, something that had been fair near tearing the ranger's heart apart. It was only on the third night, when Aragorn made a particularly heart-felt plea in front of the rest of the Fellowship (declaring his undying friendship for the elf and the love of the royal family, and declaring that he would never consciously dirty the name of Oak ever, ever again) that Legolas calm visage had finally crumbled in his mirth. He had been quite unable to control himself any further, laughing melodiously. With a few tears of laughter rolling steadily down his slender cheeks, Greenleaf had managed to gasp out that he had known all along that it was a jest, and had just been letting his best friend sweat in order to feel bad. To 'teach him a lesson he deserved', apparently.

"Three days!" Aragorn was sulked as though still bitter, continuing with this rant because it made him glad at heart to see the halfling Sam laughing merrily at something, anything - despite it having taken him making a right and proper fool of himself to cause it. "Three days that blasted elf didn't speak to me! I still don't know how he didn't let the mask slip and laugh!"

"Well... even so, sir, I don't think it's right to let him sit and worry himself away into a stick," said Sam, still grinning slightly at the memory. He fixed wide dark eyes upon his good friend and spoke simply, "You should tell him at some point, it's not right."

"Aye... aye, I will," Aragorn assured his friend with a wave of his gloved hand, serious now as well, "But it will also enhance the homecoming I know Legolas will be getting if he is expecting the worst..." he let this thought trail off invitingly, waiting patiently with a near-anxious smile to see what the hobbit's rection would be, hoping Sam would take part.

After a short pause, and a shrugging of shirt-clad shoulder: "...Aye, well, in that case... you can hold out for a little while, to be sure."

Aragorn laughed and shook his head again as the company rode on.

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Legolas was riding at the front of the company now they were nearing his father's Kingdom, leading his friends through well-known pathways and winding trails that he knew by his heart. He smiled softly at the familiar trees he had grown up with as they welcomed their child back in deep, loving voices - too long had the prince tarried with his best friends in Gondor, it seemed.

The past year he had been wholly consumed in the task of building and strengthening a new elven realm in Ithilien with his friend, the honourable Lord Faramir... Ithilien was somewhere the elf found to be most beautiful, despite the dark shadow that still threatened to strangle the fair lands. Whilst all others of the fellowship had travelled home to see their families, friends and lands at least once - though almost all returned to Gondor soon after, loathe to break the fellowship - Legolas had declined this offer, prefering instead to help build the foundations of the Fourth Age at the side of his brother-at-heart, Aragorn. The archer knew not why he had taken this decision - but he knew now, after it, that he needed to strengthen the link in his heart with his forest, he needed to remember and cherish the place that had been his home for so many lives of men.

He was still incredibly nervous about the reaction his father would have when he returned home to the palace, and there was a constant coil of uneasiness to be found in the pit of his stomach. But it seemed the sickeningly-anxious feeling that had been constricting his heart since they passed through Lothlorien on the way to Mirkwood was, at that moment, being held at bay by the joy at returning to his own beautiful woodlands. Not near enough trees grew in the White City to his liking, and he resolved to speak with his best friend, the King, about planting some more.... not only that, but many of those newly-planted in Ithilien were little more than saplings compared with the mighty trees of Mirkwood, the majority of which having at least a few millenia to their names, like the elves that lived among them.

The vast trunks of trees seemed to glitter green glory in the bright sunshine, though many were still scorched with obvious signs of recent battle. It grieved Legolas that he could see some that had been destroyed by way of evil: either having been burnt, or hideously uprooted, with limbs axed haphazardly away from the main trunks which mourned their loss and with deep slashes in the once-magnificent trunks that bled rivers of sap. The elven prince tried hard not to notice the dark stains of kin blood marring the scuffed grass and the bases of weeping trees.

But the air, though hot with summer and slightly acrid with the faint smell of death (presumably coming from the same source as the ruined trees and the stained ground) and - as always - holding the familiar hint of the danger ever-present beneath Mirkwood's canopy, was still sweet with the smell of life. The floor of the forest was mottled with fallen sunlight and Legolas, at that moment, could think of no better time to return home. He could hear the quiet babbling of a brook far off, the faint but affectionate murmurings of the woods, intermingling with the heavy debate that was taking place behind him between Merry, Pippin, Frodo and Samwise - something to do with the right way to make a pie: what to put in it, how to decorate it, how to consume it, and so on.

The prince drew a deep sigh of happiness, content with the finally- comfortable world and enjoyable situation he currently found himself in... even though something did not quite feel right in his home.

All of a sudden, a sharp cry of 'Daro!' went up from the trees around the fellowship. The horses halted immediately, understanding the order implicitly, and their masters looked about wildly for whatever was upon them, attempting to draw their weapons. But they were far too slow.

The whole company suddenly found themselves surrounded by the sharp edges of arrows and shining spears, gleaming wickedly at their necks, and behind the weapons, almost as though they had been conjured from thin air, were some of the most intimidating creatures the hobbits and Gimli had ever laid eyes upon.

The menacing figures were mostly slight in frame but all seemed huge, and had a heart-racingly dangerous air about them. They were dressed in green and brown shimmering tunics and natural-hued cloaks that made them almost fade into the background of the scenery, and all had at least ten seperate weapons strapped somewhere to their persons. They looked to be trained assassins in the way they held themselves and looked upon the company fiercely and without mercy, eyes glinting with passionate flames that told of the utmost loyalty in battle alongside the sharp starlight present in the eyes of all elves.

Gimli's hand held sway of the shaft of his axe, but he thought it folly to attempt anything: he'd be run through in mere seconds. And so he could only glower up at the creature training a deadly spear at his larynx, and was surprised to find a woman glaring back at him, a thunderous look of deadly intent upon her fine brows. What was this: women warriors? The dwarf cast an eye about the rest of the aggressors he could see, and spied a fair few others that were of the female persuasion.... surely not?!

Then a tall, cloaked figure - tall even for an elf - stepped forward into one of the sparkling beams of fading light that drifted down through gaps in the trees' canopies. Flowing, light brown hair fell, unchecked and unbinded, down to strong shoulders and wayward strands were blown across a handsome, sculptured face. The hobbits found the elven warrior (for it was definately one of the Firstborn, they could tell by the light that seemed to shine from him naturally) even more frightening than those holding weapons to their necks. Severely-set were the fine features of his face, and his brows were drawn down darkly as he looked upon the travellers each in turn with an unbelievably-intense stare - lethality clung to him, almost as if it drained the air about him of it's safety.

Merry felt the wind knocked out of his chest when the elf's stony gaze fell upon his upturned face; and Pippin reckoned his heart was going to burst, it raced so. Samwise thought he might drown in the ice-cold terror that drenched him all of a sudden; Gimli couldn't help but feel threatened and sickeningly vulnerable, despite himself... and the dwarf felt such noble power and potent ancestry given off by the figure, that he almost fell from Arod's back. To Frodo, the figure appeared - for just a mere second - as the Lord Glorfindel of Rivendell had done upon their first meeting: a pure light shone through a veil from the air about him... but with this creature, the light seemed to pulse with a sort of eternal strength that had not yet faded from Middle-earth, and didn't seem about to.

Suddenly, eyes of the deepest grey and blue, that had seemed to be capable of boring holes into any substance, glinted suddenly with starlight as they lighted upon one of the company's number, and a hand relaxed upon the dark wood of the bow that had been raised and strung. He smiled a wide, warm grin, and hearty laughter bubbled up and out gaily of the mystery elf in his sudden delight. The once unnervingly-stern features of his fair face seemed almost to completely change, for the hobbits were no longer afraid as much - how could one be afraid of such an obviously friendly being?

"Yalumme [at last], Legolas!" the elf cried with glee, his voice deep and melodic.

"Fienngil!" Legolas leapt from the back of his horse, straight into the outstretched arms of one of his elder brothers.

They embraced as though they had not seen one another in centuries, though it was merely a span of five years. That was not even considered a long time among Elves - but they had missed each other deeply, and had longed for this day to come for what seemed like an age. The rest of the fellowship looked on with surprised smiles as the two embraced - though the majority of the company had no idea what the relationship was between the pair, they would have to be blind to miss the love evident between them.

Fienngil Morningstar set his youngest brother down and cupped the prince's pale cheek fondly, deep grey-blue eyes dancing. A crashing tide of elvish burst forth from him then, sweet upon the ears of the fellowship, "Cormamin lindua ele lle: nae saian luume [My heart sings to see thee: it has been too long]." His deep voice was so full of joy that it seemed as if it might crack, and the loving words fell swiftly from his mouth as though in a waterfall. Fienngil had been away on his own travels when his youngest brother had set off in a company intent upon saving all of Middle-earth, and the threat that he might have lost Legolas without having been able to say goodbye had terrified the elder elf.

He continued, and spoke in Westron for the first time, voice holding a very heavy Sindarin lilt, "That's what the trees were whispering about - I could not follow them, they babbled so... and you were always better at understanding them than me, anyway... Ed i'ear ar' elenea [By the sea and the stars], I am now the one babbling!" And he hugged the warrior again, his large frame almost dwarfing Legolas' slight figure as the elder elf wrapped him in another, almost-desperate hug, eyes squeezed shut tightly, "Thank the Valar you are not hurt - we feared you had joined Naneth when you did not return home for so long."

Legolas drew his hands up to Fienngil's shoulders and hugged back fiercely, realising suddenly that he had missed the safety he felt when he was near his family, especially his elder brothers, when they were protecting him. He hated to be coddled, all elves did, and he perhaps hated it more, for being the youngest of a large family gave everyone around him the opportunity to always try and protect him... And yet after such a long time of looking out for everyone else as his younger brothers, guarding all the fellowship and unable to once rest easy and safe, he wished - though he was slightly shamed to admit so - to be relieved for just a little while, to go back to how things were when he was surrounded by his blood-family.

"I am back now," he said softly into the smooth fabric of Fienngil's jerkin. "So don't fret."

It was only then that Legolas realised there was the rest of the fellowship with him, let alone a whole battalion of assorted elven warriors present. He pulled away with slight embarrassment, calling to the suddenly-familiar guards, who all smiled welcomingly back at him, recognising one of the Captains of Mirkwood's Forces now they saw something other than the threat they had been trained to regard everything as, "Release my friends!"

The guards did so at once, relaxing - if these strange elves of the forest knew the meaning of the word - to stances that reminded Gimli very much of strung bows: seemingly effortless and stable, but taut and ready to snap at a second's warning. However, their faces no longer held glares of death upon them, and Gimli saw then that they were all incredibly beautiful, even by elven standards. The women had strong, noble features but a pale light about them that made them delicate and wholly glorious, and the men were both beautiful and handsome at once, their androgynous faces guarded but their eyes glittering and mouths smiling.

Fienngil coloured slightly also, and straightened himself, taking on the regal, more-than-a-little-dangerous air he had carried before he had spotted his youngest brother. He then spoke fully in the tongue of Westron, though his voice carried such a heavy accent that it was sometimes hard to understand him, "Aye, who are these creatures - two I know, though one is looking slightly cleaner than is entirely usual." He shot a friendly grin in Aragorn's direction, and winked as the ranger chuckled, then smiled in turn at Gandalf, who nodded back fondly.

"Come now, introduce yourselves - I am Fienngil Morningstar, Second Prince of Eryn Lasgalen."

Well, that threw a hammer in Gimli's plans, for though he had guessed this to be some relation to Legolas, he could not abide rudeness. He had been about to demand that the elf tell them of his name before they told him theirs, as he had with the horse-lord Eomer (and, in actual fact, he had immediately liked Eomer anyway: he had only bristled because he could not abide being ordered to do anything by anyone other than another dwarf). But as the prince introduced himself freely, all he could do was go along quietly.

Frodo - seeing that neither Merry nor Pippin were able to lift their jaws off of the floor, let alone introduce themselves - dismounted his pony with a noble-hobbit's grace, followed immediately by Sam, with a little less grace. He raised a hand to his heart and then out in front of him, greeting the elf in his own manner, "Mae govannen, I am Frodo Baggins of the Shire... Elen sila lumenn' omentilmo [A star shall shine upon the hour of our meeting]."

The elven prince's face fair near lit up with a smile that would rival the Great Lamps in it's brightness, he seemed about to say something but then Frodo's companion stepped falteringly forward. Sam bowed awkwardly, wishing furiously that he was blessed with the same fitting behaviour and knowledgeable manner as his master - Frodo knew so much better than Sam about stuff like this - but nevertheless, the hobbit garderner introduced himself politely, fumbling only a litte, "I am Sam Gamgee of the Shire... I am, ah... I'm h-honoured to meet you, your majesty."

Fienngil's dark-blue eyes twinkled starlight as he heard Sam's name, and he shook his fair head with a small smile, eyes dancing between the two hobbits. "Nay, my lord," he said earnestly, accent even thicker suddenly. "It is I who am honoured to meet you; you are i-Pheriannath we have been told of, and we know of your deeds. We of this Woodland Kingdom would be most humbled if you would grace us with your company at the palace." His large eyes were wide and imploring, and he bowed his proud head in utter respect to the halfling, as did all of the elven guards surrounding them, creating a silently earnest circle.

Sam blushed violently with embarrassment, still so unused to this sort of praise from Kings and queens and those of the firstborn - he felt completely undeserving of it, but they would persist in giving it to him. "Oh, there's really no need to go being humbled, my lord..." he smiled shakily, surprised he had even been able to answer.

"But thankyou," Frodo added quickly, ever polite, though he was slightly in shock of this mighty Elven warrior prince considering them so dignified and worthy of his distinction.

Fienngil nodded kindly, then looked behind them to where Pippin and Merry were now standing, "And these tall fellows must be Meriadoc Brandybuck: Rider of Rohan, and Peregrin Took: Guard of the Citadel - the other two Pheriannath we have been told so much of. Lete it be known that their courage is now renowned, also." He bowed deeply, again not jesting, pale brown hair falling in front of his face. "It is an honour to finally meet with you two brave soldiers also, my lords - amin sinta thaliolle e dagor [I know your strength in battle]." And the pair were also left quite speechless at the elf's complete earnestness.

The fair prince's gaze finally fell upon Gimli, but it was not in a haughty, disgusted way he looked at the dwarf - as a large majority of Elves did - but rather more intrigued and utterly guarded. It was as though thick, Dwarven gates of iron had been shuttered over his soul, revealing nothing of his thoughts or feelings. "And, if I may be permitted to ask, who are you?" his voice was not a sneer, nor a raised eyebrow, it was polite and curteous... even if that were all it was.

Well, he is Legolas' brother, after all thought Gimli, trying not to be surprised by the prince's politeness, despite the fact he detected a large amount of coldness behind the fair words. So he cleared his throat and announced himself, not with the usual aggressiveness he had when meeting with Elves. "Aye, you are permitted: Gimli, son of Gloin," he said simply, rather pleased with himself for not adding on 'And I shall counsel you to remember it' or 'I believe you have met my father?' After all, it was probably not this elf's fault his father had been held here all those years ago.

Fienngil smiled once more, though the gesture seemed a little stiff, and bowed his head courteously, and that was that.

A real, warm smile took over his handsome face then , and the hobbits were reminded of Legolas slightly - though the pair otherwise didn't look all that similar, really, aside from some obvious family traits. "Come, we shall walk you to the palace... for the young Greenleaf may have forgotten the way on his travels. Tolo amin [follow me]."

And with that, he led them home.

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A/N: Let me know how you like this, and in a week or so and if there's a good response, I'll have a brand, spanking new beginning of a slightly long- haul story for you all. How do you like them apples? Review please!