ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS

The elven father started at the gentle touch at his elbow, and after blinking a few times, found himself staring into the eyes of his son's caretaker. He realized then that he had fallen asleep himself, still sitting against the wooden headboard of his son's bed, with the elfling still in his arms.

He smiled at the caretaker and shook his head to indicate that he would put the child to bed himself. As the caretaker left the room, he sat up slowly and loosened the hold the elfling had on his waist so that he could place the young one on the bed without waking him.

To his regret, the movement did wake the elfling, whose eyes came into focus. But he allowed his ada to lower him onto his pillow and adjust the blankets. His father smiled at him, thinking that the elfling would drift back into elven sleep immediately, but was surprised when the young one suddenly asked:

"Ada, Beleg was from Doriath?"

The elfling's fine eyebrows seemed to be knitted in deep thought, amusing his father no end. What was he thinking about now? Had he been dreaming?

"Yes, ion nin," Ada replied softly. "The elf kingdom of Doriath, where Thingol was king."

Instead of falling asleep again, the beautiful elfling opened his eyes wider. "Is that not where Daerada once dwelt?"

The elven father groaned; was the little one going to stay awake?

"Aye, tithen pen," he replied patiently, hoping the answer would satisfy him and send him back into reverie. "Your grandsire dwelt there for a time."

His hopes were dashed, for the eyes went even wider. "Then Daerada knew him?"

Ada sighed resignedly, prepared to entertain his son's questions a little while longer.

"Of course he knew the king – "

"Nay, Ada, not the king," the elfling corrected him. "Beleg."

Ada smiled. "Ah, I see. Beleg. Well, your grandsire was still a young elf then, but yes, he had been acquainted with him. That is how I first learnt of the tale myself – from your daerada."

The elfling lapsed into silence again, and his father wondered what else was running through the mind of his offspring now.

"Were the elves angry at the human, at Túrin?" the elfling asked again suddenly.

The father's eyes clouded with memories. "I think many elves who mourned Beleg's death grew wary of Men after that," he recalled. "And so should we all. Let that be a lesson to us who live in this Age."

The little elfling lapsed into silence yet again, and his ada was about to tell him to go to sleep when the next question came.

"But you said Beleg loved the Man, Ada?"

"Yes, he did," Ada replied patiently.

"And Beleg was a great elf?"

Ada was becoming curious, but answered nonetheless. "Yes, he was."

"Was he a fool?"

"Of course not!" Ada exclaimed, not certain that he liked where the elfling's thoughts were headed. "Why?"

"Because if Beleg was not a fool, and he loved the adan so much that he left his home to follow him… then the adan could not have been unworthy. He made mistakes, but perhaps… perhaps there was much good in him."

Ada's brows furrowed. "It still pays to be cautious where humans are concerned," he said carefully. "We do not want to form such close friendships with them or trust them too much. Who knows what might happen?"

The elfling was not convinced. "The Strongbow knew what he was doing." With a determined lift of his chin, the elfling declared, "I would also be willing to be friends with a Man when I grow up. I will also find a good human friend, like Beleg did."

Ada grumped in annoyance. "Now is not the time to be making decisions, young one. You do not yet know what your life will be like, or how Men will be involved, or whether you will indeed meet one. And you have many years yet before you 'grow up', remember? You are but a little elfling for now, ion nin, and it is time for this little elfling to go to sleep."

The elf child's mouth opened to begin a protest, but at the firm look from his ada, he reluctantly acquiesced and snuggled under the covers, letting his ada pull them up to his chin.

The elven father studied the fair face of his little son for a while, waiting for the bright eyes to glaze over as the elfling entered the elven dreamscape. His heart filled with pride. His little son would be a leader one day, and he was already showing so much sensitivity and thoughtfulness.

He sighed. Perhaps what the elfling had said about Men was true. Perhaps the sundering of Elves and Men would be reversed in this Age; perhaps not. And perhaps there would always be a Beleg and Tùrin in any Age. Who knew? He only knew that his son was already demonstrating wisdom for one so young. He had no doubt that those who would serve his son would grow to love him.

A smile graced the face of King Thranduil as he stood looking at the elfling a moment longer, then gently planted kisses on the child's forehead and long golden hair that was so like his own.

"Sleep well, ion nin. Tomorrow is a new day."

But Legolas, youngest prince of Mirkwood, was already asleep.

In his dreams, he was making a promise to his friend that he would stop calling him Chestnut. And this friend smiled and stopped throwing chestnuts with such good aim when Legolas used his proper name: Hamille.

Then his dream shifted, and Legolas saw a day when he would become good friends with a human: a dark-haired human standing under a white tree.

Only the Valar knew then just how real that dream would become.


More than a millennium later, a tall figure stood at the door of a bedroom where a grandfather stood between two little beds, looking lovingly upon their occupants tucked under warm blankets.

"Are they asleep?" came a soft voice at the door.

The grandfather turned around and smiled, wondering how long the figure had been waiting there.

"All but," he replied, turning back to the two children who were losing their battle with their heavy eyelids. Their heads were already sinking into their pillows, their dark hair framing innocent faces with flushed cheeks and soft lips.

Aragorn bent down to kiss each head softly and whispered: "Sleep well, little ones," receiving only blissful silence in response. After his customary nod to the nurse, he walked quietly to the door, grinning at the elf waiting there.

"I am getting too old for this, Legolas," he quipped, shaking his head.

The youthful-looking elf laughed lightly, glancing at the streaks of grey running through the dark hair of his regal companion.

"Never, my friend," he said affectionately, placing a hand on the shoulder of the king and looking steadily into the grey eyes. "Some hearts never grow old, and some things live on through the Ages."

Aragorn returned the elven gaze and nodded, a wistful smile signaling his agreement.

As they left the room and made their way to the gardens where they had arranged to meet Arwen and the rest of the royal family for supper, Legolas enquired: "Are we still leaving for the Glass Pool tomorrow?"

Aragorn nodded eagerly, feeling younger and lighter at once. "Most certainly, mellon nin," he replied determinedly. "I am still not too old for that."

The chuckles of Man and Elf rippled through the air and warmed both hearts as their steps led them along the hallway, just as they had led them down many paths – both smooth and rough – on which they had walked together.


But where they walked, dear readers, is another story. This storyteller bids you goodnight and pleasant dreams.

I still respond to every review in 2013 and beyond... So, please leave one if you enjoyed this story.


Note:

The significance of the Glass Pool and Legolas' friendship with the elf Hamille becomes clear in my other story For the Love of the Lord of the White Tree.

I have read accounts that Legolas' grandfather, Oropher, was once in Doriath, from whence he fled East to found the realm of Mirkwood and rule over the Silvan elves there. Perhaps that is not what everyone believes, but it is what I choose to do, and thus runs my tale. :-) It is based on this assumption that I imagine Oropher having recounted to Thranduil some of the details of the tale of Beleg and Turin not found in the Silmarillion.

Hannon le to all who have read this – especially to those who have taken time to leave reviews: Templa Otmena (hope your PC probs stop bugging you), Tinnuial (that 'little elfling' is always adorable and cheeky – at any age), Ezra-Asgard and DarkStarofMirkwood (glad you like Aragorn as grandpa), Kelsey Estel (you were right about the elfling), , lindahoyland (I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your constant support despite your not being a Legolas fan) ArcherGal (great math work, lol – thank you for your constant support), Ainu Laire (Shall I expect more madness from the Hatter when the new story starts?), Ali64 (back from Greece – where to next, you lucky one?), 'The Shy Toenail' (Long live the Pumpkin Suit! lol), Brina, AliciA, Soar, Macie, Remy, Sivan (your pleasure doubles mine, my friends – thank you).

Till my next tale – which, I hope, will be coming soon – Namárië.

But where they walked, dear readers, is another tale. This storyteller bids you goodnight and pleasant dreams.