Wild Justice

Chapter 27

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Snow lay thick and heavy upon the ground, the white powder blanketing the world around him, lying untouched for the most part as he ventured out into the frigid chilliness of the winter morning. A bird chirped somewhere in the distance, the sound echoing through the thinned branches of the skeletal-looking trees lining the outskirts of the woodland realm, they had shed their leaves for the winter season, their autumn-coloured foliage long buried beneath the snows whilst their evergreen cousins stood proud and verdant.

Legolas followed the sounds of lone birds twittering, scattered around the woodland area as they called out seeking their brethren. He venturing deeper into the forests surrounding Imladris, his footsteps light as he gracefully made his way through the thickening trees, the evergreens dominating the inner shelters of the forest. And though his soul soared at the freedom of being outwith the sanctums of Lord Elrond's household, his heart hung heavy with a sense of grief and loss that had little to do with his fears over his pregnancy, his father, or even Ahearn. It was as if in the mere week and a bit since celebrating what he had of Yenearsira something of great importance to him had been taken away.

What confused him more than his feelings however was knowing that the loss was of Elrond, Lord of Imladris, who had subtly seemed to change, distancing himself from Legolas bit by bit until they were hardly to see each other in the space of a few days, never mind having once spent countless days in each others company.

Legolas was constantly berating himself for daring to think he was important enough for the Elven Lord to cater to. He knew that Elrond had his own duties to uphold as Lord of Imladris- duties he'd admitted on more than one occasion to Legolas, when they'd sat together in some room or other discussing what it was they had though to converse upon, that he had been remiss in his obligations to his realm- poor Glorfindel having to take over the brunt of that which he had neglected, along with an exasperated Erestor.

With the prospect of a visit from Mirkwood any day now hanging over them all, it was any wonder the Elven Lord had time to eat and sleep, never mind socialise with the pregnant elf seeking sanctuary from the king of another land.

Legolas rubbed at his tired eyes. And yet his yearning to spend even a moment in Elrond's company once more as always helped to quash the guilt over his thoughts, leaving him left in his longing. He'd wondered more than once if Elrond's distance from him had less to do with work and more to do with whatever agenda his sons were on.

The behaviour of the twins over the past week and a half confused and annoyed him to no end, for though Elrohir was almost to be seen pushing him into an accord with Elrond; Elladan appeared so utterly apposed to the idea of Legolas becoming any sort of something to his father. His knowledge of Elladan's feelings on the matter had not even been accumulated from the spiteful looks the youngest of the twins would shoot his way whenever their paths crossed and no one was around to rebuke him his actions, nor even had the way Elladan would accost Elrond whenever Legolas was close by- so as to keep them from exchanging even the briefest of greetings with one another- given sway to any of Legolas' beliefs. No, Legolas knew of Elladan's feelings on the matter from the best possible and most trustworthy of sources- Elladan himself.

Dry leaves, protected from the snows by the canopy above, crunched beneath the soft soles of his boots as he walked on through the forest. He had brought his knives with him, strapped and easily accessible at his waist. Though he was in no condition to fight off an ambush or attack of any physical sort, Legolas had decided to take a chance at venturing outdoors. The very thought of spending another miserable day stuck inside waiting in vein hope for a visit from Lord Elrond was enough to twist his stomach and spoil his appetite.

Breakfast neglected, Legolas had been swift to don his briefs, shirt and leather jerkin, taking a long moment to pull his boots over swollen feet and ankles before reaching for his hooded cloak. He'd mind enough to filch a stick or two of cinnamon-, which Abie had been kind enough to bring him- from the breakfast tray before leaving his rooms, nimble fingers still fastening the buckle of his blades about his seemingly ample waist, feet already leading him almost unconsciously through the halls and passages that would lead him out of the Last Homely House.

The first touch of wintry air against his face was heavenly to him, a light breath of wind dancing across his skin, teasing at a few flyaway strands that had the boldness to slip out from beneath his hood. Legolas had taken a deep breath, filling his lungs with the cool, crisp air before purposely striding in the direction of the stables, feeling the need to check in on his horse. He had been remiss in his duties towards his mare over the past weeks and though he had every confidence in Imladris' stable hands, he felt the need to check in.

The first puff of hot breath against his hand brought a genuine if small smile to Legolas' face as his horse nuzzled into his palm, searching for something edible. He stroked her mane, running his fingers through the soft hair of her fringe contented for the moment to simply be. Of course such comfortable a moment was not to last overly long as the sound of a waking Imladris increased as dawn passed and the day began.

It was only the huff of breath that alerted him to the presence of another having entered the stables as well. The footsteps light and purposeful as they approached one of the paddocks and led a whinnying horse out.

Legolas turned his head, propriety dictating that he at least acknowledge the individual before departing. Legolas' heart stilled a moment only as he came face to face with Elladan, the dark-haired elf watching him critically as Legolas dipped his head belatedly in greeting.

"Quel amrun, Elladan," Good morning, Elladan Legolas offered the other elf a sort of half-smile, trying to judge the dark-haired elf's mood this morn. Elladan did not return the greeting, though to keep up at least the appearance of decorum he dipped his head in acknowledgement of Legolas even as his brow creased into a frown and his lips thinned at the sight of the Mirkwood Prince.

Legolas pursed his lips at the snub, turning away from Elladan and focussing his attentions back upon his horse. He picked up the sounds of Elladan readying his own horse for riding; checking legs and hooves for any sign of harm. The tensed silence between then building until the sounds of the horses moving around in their paddocks became harsh and loud to his ears.

Legolas sighed softly, wondering momentarily if he should risk a confrontation with the younger twin in some way so as to sort this growing animosity between them. He dismissed the thought as quickly as it came to him however, he was in no mood for a quarrel.

With a whispered word of farewell, Legolas turned to make his way from the stables. The sun had risen further, he noted, the weak rays strengthening by the moment to heat the lands and vainly attempt to melt at the freshly fallen snows. He longed to walk in the forests- it felt like an age since last he'd journeyed beneath the fresh smelling, intricately laced branches; journeyed and enjoyed it. His last encounter in the woods had been detrimental to any enjoyment he may have found.

"It wasn't enough was it?" Had Elladan's hissed words been any softer Legolas might have ignored them, choosing to believe that they were not meant for his ears. But he knew the young Lord spoke to him, and though Legolas would have preferred to ignore them, he did not, turning to face Elladan with crossed arms and an expectant look upon his face.

"I beg your pardon?" He enquired politely enough. Elladan continued brushing down the tall brown horse beside him, ignoring Legolas for a moment. Ignoring him until it became apparent that the Mirkwood Prince had no plans of leaving without an explanation.

"My brother," Elladan said, brushing the sleek coat of the chestnut mare he was preparing. "He wasn't enough for you was he?"

Legolas frowned, not understanding Elladan's meaning in his references to Elrohir. What had his brother to do with his dislike of Legolas and his father becoming engaged as more than just friends? Not that it was likely to happen, Legolas mused, though the thought on occasion was pleasing to him.

"Elrohir." Elladan said coarsely, "Was it not enough you had my brother? That now you must have my father too?"

Legolas' mouth opened and closed in speechless shock, his cheeks flaming red at the insinuation in Elladan's words. His stomach rolled unpleasantly and had he consumed anything for his morning meal, Legolas knew his body would have repelled it at that moment. Unconsciously he placed his hand over his slightly protruding stomach, the other flying to his mouth as he stared wide-eyed and insulted at Elladan- one who at a time had been a friend to him, but who now appeared so resentful of him; so resentful of his brother and his father both.

With a shake of his head in denial, Legolas replied in a harsh whisper, "How dare you, Elladan? How dare you!" He turned on his heel and stormed away as fast as he was able though in truth he expected no chase, not even when he heard his name called out after him; soft enough to reach his ears only, not loud enough to garner the attention of the elves moving back and forth across the snowy courtyard before the Last Homely House.

He had not missed the look of mild regret that had appeared in Elladan's eyes a moment after the words passed his lips, such a glimpse however did nothing to alleviate the fact that Elladan had dared voice such thoughts at all.

His footsteps swift, Legolas was quick to integrate himself amidst the trees and underbrush of Imladris' surrounding woodland, his eyes unable to take in the beauty around him as his thoughts swam with thoughts of Elladan's words, Elrond's actions, the trouble he always seemed to bring upon himself and those about him. Legolas knew he was not at fault- not entirely- for all that had been happening in regards to himself and his predicament, but it did nothing to counter the fact that he felt it was.

Was it not enough you had my brother? That now you must have my father too?

The very memory of Elladan's words had his face flushing, burning with the humiliation they brought. Legolas had not even considered such a sordid scenario when he'd accepted Elrond's kindness to him, when he'd first allowed himself to think fondly of the Elven Lord, if only a little, and even then he had not been so obvious in his like- had he? He'd allowed Elrond the liberty of holding him, of offering him much needed comfort when upset- when they were alone together, but up until Yenearsira they had not been with each other in public enough for anyone, lest of all Elladan and Elrohir to have picked up on his feelings for Elrond.

And yet they had, so easily it seemed. Perhaps it had been their almost-shared kiss? The memory of which was still enough to make his lips tingle in expectation, a little flutter of the heart. But then the remembrance of the twins approach and the looks on their respective faces brought Legolas out of his musings with a sigh and a prickle of tears to his eyes.

Breathing deeply if a little shakily, Legolas slipped off the main path, stepping onto an overgrown and neglected trail that led him further into the thickening array of trees, moving quickly out of sight of the main pathway as he felt the build-up of tears becoming more persistent. Why now the need to cry? Blinking frantically, Legolas moved to lean his back against a convenient tree trunk, tilting his head backwards, looking skywards- his hood falling from his head as he reached up, pressing his fingers into clenched eyelids as he felt the unbidden liquid pooling beneath them a moment before spilling over to wet his cheeks with their salty trails.

Legolas tried to suppress his grief, but it seemed no matter how many times he wiped at his eyes, brushed his cheeks of wetness, still more would fall to soak his face. With a soft cry, Legolas buried his face into his hands, swallowing heavily against the growing lump in his throat as he tried to get a hold of himself and his emotions.

Elladan's words had been hurtful; there was no denying that, but surely not enough to garner such an emotive response from him? Why he felt the need to express his feelings thusly Legolas could not understand, not entirely at least; he only wished he did not feel so weak in his hurt.

"Legolas?" Legolas looked up with a startled gasp at the sound of his name. Having not heard the approach of anyone, he felt the shock of adrenaline shoot through his body as he pushed away from the tree swiftly, hands flying to his blades before he'd even so much as recognised whom it was that had come upon him.

Elrohir raised his hands in a show of faith, his brow creased with concern as he took in Legolas' flushed and grief-stricken face.

"What are you doing here?" Legolas asked hoarsely, voice choked and slightly breathless.

Elrohir opened his mouth to respond, jerking his arm in the direction behind him, "I was just…" He shook his head, his words left to trail off as he eyed Legolas concernedly. "What are you doing here?"

"I…" Legolas began, slowly removing his hands from his knives and discreetly trying to wipe at his face, his tears shocked into discontinuing. "I was taking a walk." He eventually managed, not quite meeting Elrohir's eyes.

"You were crying," Legolas scowled at the older elf's words, tensing as Elrohir gently approached him, placing a comforting arm upon his shoulder and squeezing.

"Come, mellonamin," He said softly, turning away and leading Legolas through the trees to wherever it was he had been before. Legolas followed, sighing quietly as he kept pace with Elrohir. He took the time to rub properly at his face, to compose himself and his thoughts, and to try and quell the erratic beating of his loudly pounding heart in the time it took for them to reach whatever destination Elrohir had in mind.

The young dark haired lord came to a pause long enough to push a few low hanging branches out of their way, turning a little to offer a soft smile to Legolas before beckoning the younger elf closer, his hand falling easily atop the Mirkwood Prince's shoulder as Legolas approached him before stepping past and into a shaded clearing, wet leaves crinkling beneath his boots as he made his way further into the small glade.

The tinkling sound of water rolling from rock to pool came to his ears and turning, Legolas was able to see a small, shallow stream of water flowing through the dell- icicles still clinging to the bare rocks just above the waters edge. The signs of winter's touch was visible even though many of the surrounding trees clung still to their leaves and blades of spring-green grass poked stubbornly up through the powdery snow; there came small signs of movement in the undergrowth of animals foraging for food and the gentle falling of snow from higher branches as birds fluttered from one tree to the next, dislodging the white substance.

"It is beautiful here, is it not?" Elrohir's voice came to him from nearby. Turning his head, Legolas noted that the young Elven lord stood a step behind him at his side. He offered a shaky smile and a nod of agreement at the comment.

"Yes, it is beautiful." He cleared his throat a moment, hands rising to smooth his blond locks from his face, tucking the lightened strands behind his ears as he continued to look around. "I feel as though I have been here before," Legolas spoke, the smallest of frowns creasing his brow as his eyes came to focus on a fallen trunk of tree, the wood covered in parts with a yellowing-green moss, his mind remembering a day from long ago when he had sat upon it in the arms of the one beside him.

"You have," Elrohir softly said. "I brought you here only once before." He stepped a pace to stand beside Legolas. "It is a good place to think, to relax," he turned to look at Legolas in profile. "It is good also to talk, Legolas."

"To talk, Elrohir?" Legolas asked, though he did not turn. Elrohir reached out once again to touch at his shoulder, his hand jerking back as Legolas flinched away from the touch, the younger elf's cheeks flushing, his fingers clenching into the fabric of his cloak.

"Legolas?" It was Elrohir's turn to frown at him, "What ails you, my friend?"

The casual shrug of shoulders in response to his enquiry and Legolas' breathless answer of, "Nothing," belied the sheen of tears that came to the younger elf's eyes. His arms moving up, one to wrap about himself whilst the other came to rest around his belly, the curve of it more readily visible now that it had been when last he'd seen the blond Prince.

"Nothing, Legolas?" Elrohir moved now to stand before him; to watch in undisguised alarm as a lone bead of liquid slipped its way down the younger elf's cheek. It was quickly brushed away with the back of his hand, but such an action did nothing to alter the fact that it had been there all the same. "How can it be nothing, when your very person projects such profound sadness. What is troubling you? What has you so upset?"

Elrohir's words urged him to speak, to look up and meet the other elf's imploring gaze, to see the honest desire to help Legolas in whatever way reflected in his eyes.

"Talk to me, Legolas," Elrohir urged softly. This time when his hand came to touch at Legolas' shoulder, the younger elf made no move to pull away.

"I know not what to say," Legolas whispered, biting at his lower lip. "I… I had thought to come for a walk today, to… to think, and to clear my mind of certain worries." The hesitancy of his words was not lost on Elrohir, who squeezed reassuringly at his shoulder, silently urging him to continue.

"I went first to the stables." He paused, frowning as he thought how best to phrase his next words. "I met with someone there, someone who thought to inform me what they truly thought of me."

Elrohir raised an eyebrow both at how Legolas was speaking as well as the flush that crept up to stain his blotched cheeks.

"What words were spoken?" Elrohir encouraged, swallowing a little in dreaded anticipation as Legolas looked up into his face, eyes searching his own for any trace of insincerity before the younger elf turned away from him once more, staring- unseeingly- at a point over his shoulder.

"I do not wish to repeat what was said."

Elrohir nodded, though he looked as though he wished to pursue the topic.

"Would you speak of it to my father?"

Legolas' gaze snapped back to Elrohir's, his expression shuttering alarmingly at the mention of Elrond. "I will not." He all but hissed in answer.

Elrohir stared at him, trying to deduce the reason behind Legolas' sudden- hostility?- pursing his lips together a moment before chancing a reply.

"I thought you and my father were close?" Elrohir felt slightly more bewildered as the flush staining Legolas' cheeks seemed to darken, with anger, shame or embarrassment he could not be sure, but the pain reflected in Legolas' eyes spoke of it as being something all together more complex.

"Has something happened between you and my father?" The words were spoken innocently enough, though Legolas could not take them as such. He pulled away from Elrohir completely and stepped away.

"I do not wish to speak of this anymore." Legolas' tone had a note of finality to it. Elrohir however could sense the desperation behind his words, his confusion over the whole moment spurring him to delve deeper into just what was bothering the young blond. He only wanted to help Legolas with whatever hurt he was going though.

"Legolas, whatever has happened between the two of you, it cannot be so distressing, can it? Surely it will mend itself. I know my father cares too deeply for you to let this… incident- ruin what you have together."

"And just what is it you think we have together, Elrohir? Because I've heard enough insinuations of what is going on between Lord Elrond and myself this day to stand the thought of anymore! I'm not some-," He waved his hand in a sharp motion, at a loss for the words to express himself. "Just let this matter drop, Elrohir, I ask you please."

Legolas' words had solved at least some of the reason as to why the blond elf was so upset. If someone had been accusing Legolas and his father of… being intimate… but no, that in itself was hardly worthy of such a gross reaction. There had to be more behind it, so much more than some imply of happenings between them.

"I know what and what not you are, Legolas," Elrohir reassured, "I do not doubt your propriety in this. I ask only for you to confide in my father or myself what was insinuated that has caused you so much hurt? I know you care for my father and he for you, and that if anyone hurt you he-," His words were cut off.

"Stop this!" Legolas interrupted loudly, his expression pained. "Stop this at once! I do not wish to discuss this or any relating matter with you, nor your father. Can you not learn to let well enough alone?"

"I mean only to help,"

"You're making this worse."

"You know I do not mean to, if only you would-,"

"No!"

"Legolas-,"

"Elrohir!" the dark-haired elf tensed, watching as Legolas' face went from blush-pink to pallid at the sound of Elrohir's name, for it was not he who had spoken it. Swallowing heavily, Legolas forced himself to turn in the direction from whence the voice had come, a shiver running through his body as he watched Elrond step out into the clearing.

Legolas let out a startled gasp, feeling a rush of blood to his head as he contemplated just how long Elrond may have been standing, watching and listening. Oh Valar! What could he have heard? Legolas felt suddenly faint, his head spinning and his heart palpitating too fast. He felt as his body began to sway, his mind too slow to recognise the danger before his legs buckled and the ground was rushing up to meet him.

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To Be Continued…?

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