Author's Note:Like most first drafts, this story is an irretrievable mess written with more enthusiasm than an eye to craft. Errors litter it-Elvish names that are not Tolkien elvish, pseudo-Sindarin thrown in for no particular reason, off-kilter characterization, shameless stealing from other fanfics, too much description and plot holes galore (it almost sells itself).

That being said, Agar Saer was my first milestone as a writer of Lord of the Rings fanfiction, and I had an indecently gleeful time writing it. I guess readers enjoyed it too because even more than ten years after it was completed, it is still being favorited. So, if you'll forgive the errors of a very amateur author, I hope you find something in it to enjoy. I also recommend my more recent stories, if you prefer a little more spit n' polish.

Thank you for reading!

Agar Saer (Bitter Blood)

Chapter One: A Family Reunion

A cool wind whipped through the dark red leaves of the trees. Autumn was fast approaching the elven forest. Everything felt the changing of the seasons upon them, even the spiders who disappeared into their warm, dark hollows as the icy bite of the wind hinted at the winter to come.

Hidden in the depths of the dark forest where few interlopers dared tread, nested the elven haven of Mirkwood. The palace was stone and vast but many mullioned, emerald colored windows and vaulted ceilings gave the place some space. The stone walls hung with vibrant tapestries of ages long past. It was in one of these halls that a group of young elves sported about with each other.

Legolas grinned and raced playfully after his friends. The elves of Mirkwood were in rare high spirits this night for tonight began the festivities and feasts that would last a week or more. The autumnal equinox was upon them- a time when the stars burned brightest and the elves celebrated by setting ablaze the old leaves that fell from the trees in anticipation of the beautiful spring and revival to come.

Legolas was watching his friend, Rinniad, out of the corner of his eye and didn't see the elf in front of him until he had collided head-on into him.

"Do try to be careful, young prince!" An irritated voice snapped peevishly.

"Sorry, Telas!" Legolas laughed at his father's councilor. Telas was an old elf, much revered by the adults, and much made a mockery of by the younger ones. His stuffy manner and overweening demeanor had often been the brunt of no few jokes; and the councilor's person had often fallen afoul of the playful prank or trick that his young students loved to amuse themselves with at his expense.

Telas took the young elf by the shoulders.

"Now, young master, why are you still in here? You must be changed and ready before the festivities begin tonight," he admonished. Legolas groaned inwardly. Of course! The formal start of all the affairs! How could he have forgotten?

"All right, Telas. I'll go change." Waving goodbye to his friends, Legolas bolted upstairs. If he did not hurry he would soon be late and his father had already chastised him once today for being late to his lessons.

"A prince should be on time! Not gallivanting around with his friends," Legolas muttered, echoing his father's severe tone while he had lectured his son, as he hurriedly rebraided his disheveled hair.

Legolas glanced at himself in the mirror and though he had not had the time to scrub his face or really comb his hair, he thought he looked passable. Without another thought on it, he dashed down the stairs and out towards the vast clearing that had been prepared especially for tonight.

He was just in time. The feast was about to begin.

He rushed out towards the great clearing and took his seat beside his mother and father. Anariel, the beautiful Queen of Mirkwood, greeted her son lovingly, smoothing his pale hair from his face. She looked over at Thranduil chidingly as Legolas shifted restlessly in his seat again.

"Really, hir-nin (my lord). You cannot keep the boy here all night," she remarked to her husband. Thranduil leaned towards her.

"I can try."

The sweet, smoky scent of burning leaves filled the air and the ringing tones of elvish singing echoed in the woods. Legolas pulled at the uncomfortable collar strangling him. How he longed to slip into a comfortable tunic and boots and race off through the forest with his friends in search of hind and rabbits.

Alas, 'the duty of a prince is with his people,' his father had often- far too often- reminded the young elf. To the prince's mind, he had his entire immortal lifetime to think of his people! The only thing he wanted now was to be with his friends. But, he was stuck until his father released him.

Legolas glanced idly around the circle of merrymakers. Long wooden tables had been set up, groaning beneath the weight of the harvest. All kinds of fruits weighed down the tables, freshly baked loaves of bread sent the lingering scent of flour wafting into the air and the King's favorite Dorwinion wine had been brought up from Lake Town especially for the occasion. A magnificent roast boar crowned the head table where the king sat.

"Come Legolas!" Rinniad shouted to him, beckoning from across the fire. Legolas glanced up at his mother for permission and seeing the gentle smile on the queen's lips and small nod, the prince considered himself dismissed.

"You cannot sit beside your father for all of the narbeleth (sun-waning) festival, can you?" The prince laughed and sat cross-legged beside his friend.

Suddenly, a pounding of hooves halted the beautiful music and elvish singing as several of the woodland guards galloped into the clearing. They were careful, however, not to crush the revelers underfoot and rode right up to the dais where the king sat.

"There are riders approaching my lord!" Thranduil raised an eyebrow. He had not been expecting visitors so late.

"Who are they?"

"Elves, my lord. But strange… I have not seen them before…"

"If I may, my lord," Sarithan, the captain of the border guards, interrupted, stepping forward. His grey eyes flickered with an emotion that Legolas could not quite place and it troubled him. The captain turned towards the king, his face grave. Sarithan opened his mouth to speak but the sharp tones of elvish horns that rang out over the great forest, announcing the travelers, cut him short.

The Elvenking stood as a party of a score of elves or more stepped into the firelight. For the first time in many long centuries, Thranduil looked up in surprise at his estranged brother's face. He was actually Anariel's brother but Thranduil had come to think of the elf as his own family. Years ago they had lost all contact when Thranduil had been crowned king after his father had been slain during the Last Alliance. Ainan had changed little with the passing of the years as elves are wont to do.

The deep burnished gold of his hair caught the light of the torches as it fell down to the middle of his back, elegantly pulled back into a ponytail and braids of elven wayfarers. He was tall and slender though there was a certain harshness to his features that the wilderness and rigors of long travel had carved into his face. He carried himself with the elegance of royalty and the haughtiness of the elven race. But warmth was in his gaze as he beheld his brother-in-law.

Legolas stepped to his parents' side, looking up at the strangers. He barely remembered his uncle, who had left the palace not long after the young child had been born. For what reasons, Legolas did not know and he had not asked for he found that whenever he questioned his mother about her brother, Anariel seemed to become so sad. Legolas had thought for the longest while that his uncle was dead.

But, no. Here he stood, smiling and waving to those who recognized him and clasping his brother-in-law familiarly by the shoulder.

"Such a welcome, muindor-nin (my brother!)" Thranduil nodded.

"Ainan, mae govannen (well met)," the Elvenking greeted him, still looking faintly puzzled. Ainan smiled warmly.

"I have realized the error of my ways and wished to surprise you by arriving before the winter snows and in time for the autumnal festival! Time can pass by so quickly in the wild! Shall we let bygones by bygones, muindor?" he entreated, his silver-blue eyes bright. "Let us forgive each other and let no ill will pass between us again." Thranduil smiled gently and embraced his brother-in-law firmly.

"Indeed, muindor. Indeed. Let bygones be bygones."

So saying, the elf's silver-blue eyes flickered to the woman beside the King. He bowed low to the Queen.

"My dear sister, you become more beautiful every time I see you," he said familiarly.

"And you become more the snake charmer," the Queen replied coolly, allowing him to give her a brotherly peck on the cheek. The honey gold of his hair sparkled as he lifted a wine goblet from the long table and seated himself at the king's right side.

"Tell me," Thranduil asked pleasantly as his brother took a sip from his goblet. "Why the change of heart?" The words were spoken low and still in a friendly, level tone but Legolas, who was the only one close enough to hear the whispered conversation, detected a hint of warning behind his father's voice. But why?

Legolas cast a glance at his mother who sat rigid in her chair, staring straight ahead but seemingly not seeing the bonfire before her or the singing elves. She caught Legolas' worried look though and smiled gently. She kissed him on the forehead.

"Go on now, ion-nin (my son)," she said. Legolas paused, burning to ask the questions that buzzed around his head but the Queen nudged him. "Go on."

"Hannon le, naneth (Thank you, mother!)" he muttered back, smiling broadly as he raced off after Rinniad and the others. But inside his mind was turmoil: what was his uncle doing here?

Author's Note: As always, if you like it, please review and another chapter will be forthcoming. Thank you!

The Lady of Light