Disclaimer: Not ours.

Okay this story is the brain child of two authors. Meisalliam and MCross. It is in a series along with several of Meisalliam's stories but there is no need for you to have read these stories although should you want to then the links are on our favourites page.

Please read and review.

It was a lazy mid summer afternoon. It was the hottest day of the year so far. Birds could be heard singing their joy to the sky; leaves in all the trees rustled their agreement.

The only disturbance that could be heard was the chattering of squirrels as they gathered nuts and acorns in readiness for the coming change of season. Heat haze hung over the forest, lulling all into a sense of calm, the heat too much for other's to really care what was happening in the world.

This sense of calm was shattered by a squeal.

A squeal that was followed by delighted laughter sounding like a bell pealing.

Silence descended….

Through the cluster of trees, came a young boy, he looked to be all of five years old. It was his laughter that filled the air. As he made his way through the trees, his long blond hair floated behind him like a sheet of silk.

Looking around frantically for somewhere to hide, he spied a cluster of bushes at the bottom of a large Mallorn tree. Glancing quickly up into the tree he gauging whether or not to hide in the tree, hearing his pursuers behind him he changed his mind and stuffing his hands in his mouth to stop his laughter; dived into the bush, headless of the tears to his clothes or the scratches he also collected on his arms.

Silence once more descended, broken shortly after by the arrival of what appeared to be two identical Men. Both had long black hair tied back, braids hanging loosely down their backs. They even had the same colour eyes, a deep Chocolate brown. They were completely the same, even to the way they dressed.

The Man on the right, punched his brother on the arm and putting a finger to his lips, gestured for him to move further into the clearing. Grinning from ear to ear, they moved as one.

"Where can he be? We can not have lost him. He must be hiding." The man moved towards the big tree. "Excuse me for troubling you on such a hot day, but have you by any chance seen a small Elfling about this high?" He gestured to just below his knee cap. "We seem to have lost him." Winking at his brother, he continued. "If you could tell us where he is, we can take him back to his Naneth before the strawberries are all gone…."

Silence. Complete silence.

Deep inside the bush, the Elfling in question was almost wetting himself with laughter as he watched his elder brother hold a conversation with the old tree. This was just too funny!

"May be he is not here, Nolvo. If the tree will not tell you…" He looked up into the bough of the tree to see a group of interested squirrels watching them. One of them scampered to the end of the branch, the animal pointed with a form limb to the bush and Nolvo could have sworn the squirrel was laughing.

The twins, for that is what they were, dear reader, grinned even more broadly than they had before, then with barely a glance at each other divided their attention as if to move away from the bush, before Alcarnor sprung round and reached into the bush, catching the Elfling unawares. Once more delighted laughter filled the air.

"We found you, little Leaf! Did you really think you could get away from us?" He was swinging the Elfling high up in the air. "Naneth will be looking for you. Think, little Leaf, strawberries and swimming. Shall we go and join them?" The delighted laughter continued and as they left the clearing even the old tree seemed to be joining in. As if it would tell them where their Elfling was, they would not tell on their Prince…..

Further into the forest four heads turned at the sound of the delighted laughter and screams as they echoed through the trees. All smiled broadly at the sound. There really was nothing quite like the sound of a happy Elfling, especially when that happy Elfling just happened to be with you.

The tall statuesque blond Elf, took a sip of her wine, before turning to her husband. "Melleth, if they continue like this with Legolas I will never be able to get him to settle and sleep tonight."

Her husband gave a deep happy laugh. "Tell me, Laurelin, did you really expect him to settle? I think we should just give him to Alcarnor and Nolvo for the night. Let them deal with such a hyperactive, happy Elfling!"

The Elfling in question appeared almost as if out of no where. Running as if Wolves were at his feet. Which they were, in a sense. The Twins followed closely, determined this time not to loose the youngster.

"Ada! Nana! They chased me!! Nolvo talked to a tree!!!" The Elfling barely took a breath between words as he launched himself at his Mother.

"Goodness, Legolas, what have you been up too? You will need a bath when we go home." She took in the torn clothes and scratched hands and face.

"Ugh! No, Nana, no bath. Swim! 'Dion said we could swim! And berries!! May I? May I, please, Ada?" Incredibly wide, deep sapphire eyes turned their pleading look towards his Ada.

"Thranduil…!" The threat in his wife's voice could not be missed, but the wide innocence could not be ignored either.

"Well, my little Leaf, if you are good and eat some food. And behave." That caused another delightful giggle as Thranduil took his son in his arms. "Then I am sure I can persuade your Naneth to let us all go swimming."

Wide blue eyes turned their gaze onto another who could ignore it no better. "Naneth? Please? 'Dion promised to teach me to swim."

"We shall see, Penneth. After all we do need to see to those scratches."

So caught up in watching the happy Elfling were the others, they did not notice one of their party was not as happy as the others. Sitting near as he could be to his Mother was Drowlin. He like all the other Elves, apart from Legolas and Laurelin, he had the brown hair and eyes that marked the Thranduil clan. The only difference being at present he was not smiling, but frowning yet again as he watched his younger brother once more worm their parent's around his little finger.

"Naneth? May I have some strawberries?" His mother turned towards him.

"Of course, Drowlin But not until we have all finished our main picnic. Is it not a lovely day?" Laurelin carried on brightly chatting unaware of the kernel of jealousy that was making its way into the heart of one of her children.

It was early afternoon before they finished the picnic. Thranduil and Laurelin had had to call a halt to the picnic when Lomion, their eldest, decided a game of hide and seek would be perfect. This had taken some time. Leaving Thranduil the time to take his wife into his arms and enjoy just being with her. He was glad he had decided to surprise them all with this outing. It was rare they all got to spend time together like this and with Eldarion home from Rivendell, where he was an apprentice healer, it was perfect opportunity.

"Happy, Melleth?"

He was rewarded by a deep kiss. "Very. Thank you, it is just so nice to be all together."

They sat up straighter as two figures ran towards them. To their surprise Legolas was chasing hard on the heels of Eldarion and being egged on by Drowlin.

"Get him, Legolas. You can do it! That's it!" Just as Legolas had his hand out to grab Eldarion's tunic, he lost his balance and fell. Skinning his left knee. Only Legolas heard his brother say. "Baby." As tears flooded his eyes….

He was caught up in his Mother's warm arms and led back to the blanket spread out on the ground. As he was fussed over by both Laurelin and Lomion, the other's joined the group. Sinking to the ground and all picking up their goblet's tried from all the chasing and games. Once they had made sure that Legolas was not badly hurt they all sat back, relaxing in the heat. It was Eldarion who began to sing, a soft lilting lullaby that was quickly joined by Laurelin. As Legolas sat in his Mother's arms listening his eyes slowly lost their focus, as the excitement of the day so far caught up with him and he fell into sleep surrounded by love.

Once more delighted giggles could be heard through the forest. Only this time an excited voice could be heard calling.

"Lomion! Lomion, I can not see you. Lomion, please?" The Elfling was turning in circles trying to spy his elder brother. Legolas was fully refreshed from his lap and ready to go. Lomion was taking him to the lake to clean his scratches while the other's decamped, clearing the forest from all signs of their having been there.

"Lomion?" Uncertainty and a little fear began to tell in the young voice.

"Yes, little Leafie?" His brother came through the trees. Seeing the tears in the bright eyes, he reached for his brother. "Legolas? What is wrong?"

"I could not see you. Why did you leave me?" The voice quivered.

"I would never leave you, little Leaf, ever. I promise you that. If you need me just call and I will always be there. I was just getting some Athelas so that I can see to your knee after we swim. Shall we go to the lake?" He lifted the Elfling up into his arms and made their way through the trees, Legolas once again laughing as his brother tickled him until he was breathless.

By the time the rest of the family joined them by the lake Legolas and Lomion were soaked. Legolas happily showed the others how Lomion had taught him to 'dive bomb' the lake.

As Laurelin watched her family happily from the side of the lake, they all took it in turns to 'float' Legolas as he swam, happy and content.

Much later, Nolvo sat Legolas on the shore line and keeping his promise, began to teach Legolas to swim. This was met with a measure of success as Legolas turned out to be a water baby with natural lightness in the water.

The family made their way home, just as the sun was setting. All happy at the good family outing. Legolas was asleep on Thranduil's shoulder, the thumb of his right hand, planted happily in his mouth as he slept. All was well in the world as the Elfling slept unaware that all too soon this would be ripped away….

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MCross and Meisalliam