Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings although I am hoping to get an elf for Christmas.
Additional disclaimer: Some of the phrases in this story are taken directly from Peter Jackson's amazing work The Fellowship of the Ring. Those words are his (and his fellow writers and Newline's and Tolkein's), not mine. No offence is intended by their use.
Summary: A tale of the fellowship in Rivendell. They had to meet sometime…
Chapter 1: A Ranger Caught Off Guard
The trees of Rivendell were different to those of the Shire. These trees, thought Samwise Gamgee, were like the elves that walked amongst them. Long, slender limbs stretched overhead as leaves of red, gold and green brushed against each other. For a hobbit who had never ventured far from home, and particularly for one as fond of gardening as Sam, Rivendell was a beautiful introduction to the outside world.
As he walked Sam took a moment to consider his companions. Next to him, Frodo still looked a mite too pale for his liking. However, he was healing quickly here in the Last Homely House, where the very air seemed to ease and renew one's spirit. Colour once more bloomed in Frodo's cheeks, his eyes had regained their startling morning-blue and his step was lighter than it had been since he had left the Shire. Noticing Sam's gaze, Frodo smiled at him, knowing that his loyal gardener still worried over his health, despite the more than capable healing skills of Lord Elrond.
Reassured that his master was well on his way to recovery, Sam directed his attention to the man who led their small party. Strider, ranger of the wilderness, looked more relaxed than Sam had ever seen him on their arduous journey from Bree. Although still exuding his usual air of mystery, he, too, seemed to be enjoying the peaceful gardens, his grim face having softened slightly. Sam looked next to the hobbit cousins, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took. Merry's head was twitching back and forth, seemingly unable to settle on just one direction. Pippin's head on the other hand, was tilted back, his eyes focused intently on the branches above. Used to the younger hobbit's strange ways however, Sam paid him no further mind and turned his attention back to the sights of Imladris.
Pippin looked up again, eyes searching the trees above, positive that he had glimpsed a flash of gold amongst the thick foliage. Focused on that far above his head, he neglected to note the hazards on the ground, and tripped, less than gracefully, on a protruding root. Ignoring Merry's chuckle, Pippin quickly righted himself and continued searching the trees. He almost stumbled again when a face framed by golden blonde hair appeared amongst the leaves. The owner of said face raised a finger to his lips and silently faded back into the tree, disappearing amongst the foliage. Pippin blinked. He looked to his companions, but none gave any sign that they too had seen the face in the trees, one which could seemingly vanish at a moment's notice. Wondering whether to tell his friends that they had company, Pippin decided against it, doubtful that any danger would have been allowed to enter the elven sanctuary. This was quite apart from the fact that the look of mischief upon the face of their hidden companion reminded him distinctly of the one so often reflected in ponds and windows as he walked by.
Strider halted near the edge of a pond shadowed by overhanging trees and motioned for the hobbits to sit down.
"We shall rest here for a while, master hobbits," he said, not wanting to overtax the still recovering Frodo. Certain that nothing would provide a threat to his charges here in Imladris, Strider leaned back comfortably against a nearby tree and drew out his pipe, enjoying the tranquillity which enveloped Imladris.
Whilst Sam hovered around his master, much as he had done since Frodo's awakening, Pippin looked once more to the branches above the small party, trying to locate their mysterious companion.
"What are you looking at Pip?" asked Merry, staring at his cousin.
"Hmm…? Oh…nothing," replied Pippin, craning his neck to see behind him. His efforts were rewarded when the face reappeared, this time attached to a lithe body clothed in green. Surreptitiously, he nudged Merry and gestured to the figure in the trees, who, aware of his audience, gave a quick wave. Moving easily and somehow silently through the heavily leafed branches, the figure reached his desired position. He glanced once more at the hobbits with a mischievous smile and then literally dove from his branch directly onto his unsuspecting target.
Strider let out a shout as he was suddenly bowled over by a green blur and knocked to the ground. Struggling to reach the knife he kept in his boot, he quickly found himself pinned on his back and looking up into the grinning face of a blonde haired elf.
"What's this? A ranger caught off guard?"
"I am going to hurt you if you do not get off me," said Strider mildly. "Then I am going to find Arwen and make her swear by the Valar never to tell anyone that tale ever again. And then I am going to hurt you anyway." Glancing behind the elf he continued. "Of course, that may prove unnecessary, for I believe that you are about to be attacked by a foe more formidable than Sauron himself."
Following the man's glance, the elf found himself confronted by two angry hobbits, one with a look of awe on his round face. The two he had waved to earlier were on the ground overcome by laughter and apparently quite incapable of coming to the ranger's defence.
"Peace, master periannath," said the elf, quickly backing off his victim. "I mean your ranger no harm." Reconsidering, he corrected himself. "Not much anyway. And by the way Estel, it was not the lovely Arwen who told me that most entertaining tale. It was Glorfindel."
"Glorfindel. As in he who fought the balrog. He who was sent back to Middle-earth by the Valar knows that I was 'caught off guard' by Arwen."
"Do not despair Estel. At least your brothers remain ignorant. For the time being anyway." The elf smiled.
"If you tell them that then I will tell the hobbits that you are"- here Strider switched to elvish- "a ernil."
The hobbits stared first at the elf, then at Strider. Gone was the brooding, tense ranger who had watched them silently from the corner of the Prancing Pony. In his place was a laughing man currently attempting to cuff the back of his friend's head in retaliation for the surprise attack whilst the fair being fended him off with a handy stick. Looking closer however, Frodo realised that although the careworn face had smoothed, and laughter lines had replaced those caused by stress, the sense of danger and watchfulness around the man had not disappeared, merely relaxed. He still carried the burdens of Strider, ranger of the North, only here in Rivendell they were dimmed.
Frodo's musings were interrupted as the soft voice of the elf broke into his thoughts.
"I am glad to see you again, mellon nin."
Strider grasped the elf's shoulder. "As am I, Legolas. It has been too long."
When Frodo cleared his throat politely Strider's attention was brought back to the hobbits.
"My apologies, my friends. Legolas, may I present Frodo Baggins, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Peregrin Took and Samwise Gamgee, all respected hobbits of the Shire."
Deciding that Frodo's soft cough was due to his recent illness he continued. "Master hobbits, this is Legolas, pr-" At a glare from the elf he quickly changed what he had been about to say. "-Pride of Mirkwood."
Legolas bowed gracefully to the four beings, all of whom only reached his waist and they bowed back with varying degrees of success. "Pride?" he whispered so that only the sharp ears of the ranger heard him.
Seeing that his fellow hobbits were too nervous around the graceful elf to say anything, Frodo spoke up, gesturing to his cousins and gardener in turn. "If you don't mind sir, he's usually called Merry, he's Pippin, and he's Sam."
"It would be an honour," replied the elf, folding himself to the ground opposite Strider. "However, in return you must call me Legolas." Eying the man who had settled back with his pipe once more he directed an enquiring glance at the hobbits. "I must admit that I am somewhat curious as to how you came to be in the company of Estel?"
"Why do you call him Estel?" piped up the ever inquisitive Pippin, ignoring Frodo's admonishing glare.
"Because that is his name," replied Legolas simply.
"But I thought his name was Strider? At least, that's what the innkeeper in Bree told us," said Frodo, curious despite his despair at the younger hobbit's manners.
"It is. This human has many names, each stranger than the last." He began ticking them off on his slender fingers. "Strider, Estel, Longshanks, Ar-" The man glared at him but the elf simply shrugged and continued. "Arrogant human…"
"Arrogant human?"Strider interrupted.
"Why, yes. Did you think that I was going to say something else?" the elf asked, another grin flashing across his face that only Strider caught.
"I seem to remember that the expression 'arrogant elf' is more common, that is all."
"Strange, I do not remember that." At the ranger's low growl Legolas quickly turned back to the hobbits. "Now that that mystery has been resolved master hobbits, if you would be so kind as to reveal the ever deepening puzzle of how you met this man of many names?"
Merry and Pippin eagerly launched into the tale of the dark figure in the corner of the Prancing Pony and his subsequent abduction of Frodo. Frodo himself broke in occasionally to prevent the others from revealing that which was to be kept secret and Sam, still in awe of the elf, remained silent, face beet-red as the two cousins gave an impressive, if slightly exaggerated, re-enactment of Sam's brave entrance.
Encouraged by the elf's obvious interest Merry and Pippin continued the story of their journey to Rivendell. Upon relating Frodo's comment that an enemy would look fairer and feel fouler than Strider, they were rewarded by the rare sight of one of the firstborn so overcome by mirth that tears formed in his eyes.
"I told you needed to bathe more Estel!" gasped the elf through his laughter.
"But if I did then the hobbits would have believed me to be a servant of the enemy,"
Strider countered triumphantly.
"Then you admit that you do not bathe often enough?" The ranger opened his mouth to reply then closed it again, seemingly stumped and thus provoking the elf into further merriment.
Afraid that he had offended Strider, Pippin began to apologise but was distracted by the sight of two identical figures approaching their small party. He soon identified the twin sons of Elrond, both of whom he had met the previous night in the Hall of Fire. Pippin had immediately warmed to them, recognising a mischievous streak that reminded him of Merry. Although retaining the same ethereal feel of the other elves present, they seemed more often merry than mysterious, with even Sam relaxing enough to mumble a few words in their presence. They had immediately taken the four hobbits under their wing, ensuring that they never lacked for food, wine or company.
Legolas, having gained a semblance of control over his laughter, glanced up as the two elves approached and nudged Strider with his foot. "Here come your brothers Estel. Do you think that they would enjoy the hobbits' tale as much as I?"
"Brothers?" asked Merry curiously.
"I was raised here in Rivendell," replied Strider, straightening up and watching the approaching elves with a slightly panicked look on his face. "Do not dare say a word Legolas."
"Estel, your words wound me. Do you really think that I would be so cruel?"
"Yes," the ranger replied without hesitation. "Therefore, I propose a deal. I will not tell the hobbits if you don't tell my brothers."
"Tell us what?" asked Merry but the twins had already arrived. Dark hair framed two identical faces, still youthful despite the many years that only their keen grey eyes betrayed. However, these were lit by a bright spark of mischief which, when combined with their angelic expressions, put both Strider and Legolas immediately on their guard.
Ignoring the rest of the company the two elves halted directly in front of Legolas. "Mae govannen, Your Highness," they murmured, simultaneously sweeping into low, formal bows.
"On behalf of Elrond Halfelven, we, as lords of Imladris, are honoured to welcome you to the Last Homely House," said the one on the left.
"It is both a pleasure and a privilege to have you grace our humble home with your presence once again," continued the other almost reverently.
The hobbits stared in surprise and awe at the blonde elf currently sending murderous looks in the direction of the twins.
"Your highness?" said Frodo softly to Strider in amazement.
"Yes. Although he may not seem it, Legolas here is royalty."
"Estel! You gave your word that you would not tell!"
"And I kept my word. I promised I wouldn't reveal that you were a prince, not that I wouldn't reveal you were royalty."
"You're a prince?" echoed the four hobbits as Legolas looked at his friend in reproach and with more than a hint of irritation.
"He is indeed," cut in the left twin, the pair only just having straightened from their bows. "You are in the company of Prince Legolas Greenleaf of the Woodland Realm…"
"Son of King Thranduil…" continued the other twin.
"Youngest prince of Mirkwood the Great..."
"Bane of orcs…"
"Slayer of spiders…"
"Desire of many an elf maiden's heart…"
"And currently very annoyed," finished Strider with a grin.
Indeed, a scowl occupied the prince's fair face as he glared at each of the three brothers in turn. His blue eyes had turned to ice, and Sam could not help but think that if he were the target of such a look, he would prefer to face the Dark Lord himself than even attempt to return it. However, it seemed to have no effect on the three brothers, who over the years had grown immune to all but the worst of Legolas' stares.
"You remember my brothers, Elladan and Elrohir," said Strider, gesturing to the twins who had sat down on the left and right of Legolas respectively, trapping the prince between them. The hobbits nodded silently still staring at Legolas.
The prince was certainly not dressed as one of royal status; at least, not how Frodo would have imagined from Bilbo's tales. No crown adorned the fair head, no robes draped on the ground behind him. Rather, the elf was clothed in a manner more befitting a warrior, in shades of green and brown. A light blue shirt was all but covered by a suede tunic reaching to mid-thigh. Soft boots covered his feet, and even here in Rivendell the elf carried on his back a bow and quiver, as well as two long knives. Noticing the hobbits' stares, the elf sighed and drew his legs up to his chin, his arms encircling them like a child, yet somehow managing to maintain a dignified grace.
"You had to tell them, didn't you?"
"Of course we did," confirmed the twin now identified as Elladan. "Besides, they would have found out eventually so you should really be thanking us."
"And why is that, may I ask?"
"Good question. Estel?"
"Well," said the ranger, thinking swiftly. "If we had not told the hobbits now, imagine how difficult it would have been for them to find out at the council tomorrow."
"Difficult?" echoed the prince.
"Yes," said Strider, warming to his topic and seemingly oblivious to the fact that the eyes of blue ice had hardened into steel. "It would hardly have been fair to expect them to deal with both the serious business of the council as well as the discovery that the supposed warrior elf whom they had met the previous day was no more than a spoilt princeling who lazes around in his palace all day leaving us ordinary people to do all the work."
Even Strider could not fail to notice that the steel had sharpened to a point. However, knowing that it was too late to avoid his impending doom he continued.
"Thus, you should be thanking my dear brothers and I because we just saved you from disappointing these worthy hobbits in public." Having finished his explanation Strider gained his feet more swiftly than the hobbits would have believed possible, and ran.
"If you would be so kind as to excuse me for a moment, master hobbits," said Legolas calmly. "I have a slight problem that must be dealt with." With that, he rose gracefully and shot after the fleeing human.
The twins dissolved into laughter as they watched the two friends, Strider desperately trying to keep ahead of the furious elf.
"He won't hurt Strider, will he?" asked Frodo anxiously.
"No. Not badly anyway," replied Elladan. "You must understand that Legolas is somewhat sensitive about his position as prince. He has found in the past that some people tend to underestimate the amount of responsibility and work which his position entails, especially as he is the youngest of a large family. Although such people are far mistaken, Legolas prefers not to draw attention to his position whenever possible. Of course, this provides his dearest friends, namely Estel, Elrohir and I, with more than ample opportunity to provoke our favourite princeling. But do not worry. There is no need to fear for your ranger. He should escape with merely a few broken bones and possibly an arrow in the back."
Not reassured in the slightest, the hobbits watched with growing concern as man and elf lapped the pond once again. Strider, seeming to realise that there was no hope of escaping the fast gaining elf, suddenly swung into the branches of the nearest tree followed quickly by his pursuer.
"Ai, Estel, what caused you to do that? You'll never escape him now," said Elrohir regretfully.
"A mistake indeed," agreed Elladan, shaking his head at his little brother's foolishness.
Seeing the puzzled expressions on the hobbits' faces, Elrohir explained. "Legolas is a wood-elf and is thus far more at home in the trees than he is on the ground. He'll easily catch Estel up there whereas my foolish brother may have had a chance on level ground. A small chance, but a chance nonetheless."
Sure enough, a shout soon sounded, a tree shook briefly and a few leaves fell to the ground, followed closely by a far heavier ranger.
Seconds later the elf had landed lightly next to the human who was picking himself up off the ground, muttering loudly about arrogant, tree-loving elves. Calmly returning to the small party, Legolas bowed to the hobbits, pointedly ignoring the twins. "My apologies, master periannath, but I am afraid I must leave you for the moment."
"Why?" asked Strider, approaching behind the elf, both apparently having forgotten their dispute.
"I have a prior appointment with some elves from Rivendell."
"Not another archery match," said Elrohir with a sigh. "You think they would have learnt by now."
Legolas shrugged. "It is my duty to defend my honour as a warrior, and that of Mirkwood. It should not present too much of a challenge, anyway. They are only Noldor elves."
"What!" cried the twins whilst Strider let out a bark of laughter. "He is insulting you too, Estel," reminded Elladan. "You were trained by Noldor elves." His brother subsided immediately.
Legolas just smiled, bowed once more to the hobbits and set off in the direction of the Last Homely House. Strider beckoned to the hobbits. "Join us," he invited, hastening to catch his friend. "If you wished to see the elves, this is something you would be wise not to miss."
Mellon nin- my friend
Mae govannon- well met
A/N- If you're wondering why I had Aragorn wanting to keep his name secret it's because I believe that Frodo, at least, would recognise it as that of the Heir of Isildur. Not knowing what would result from the Council of Elrond, I do not think that Aragorn would want relative strangers to know who he really was as he seems to be trying to avoid his destiny whenever possible. Legolas wanting to hide the fact that he was a prince comes largely from my reading of many other authors' work. Also, it is never mentioned in the films unless you watch the extended Two Towers in which Gimli uses it to taunt Legolas. Also, this whole hidden identity thing provides some good entertainment.
I would love to get some reviews. Whether my story made you laugh, cry or possibly want to put an arrow in my back, any comments would be much appreciated, particularly nice ones! I have a few more ideas for 'In Imladris' so if you would like to see them take form as much as I do please let me know. Of course, they will probably be written anyway…