AN: This is a continuation of a series of stories titled Interrupted Journeys. Part One (New Journeys), Part Two (Journeys Perforce) and Part Three (Journeys Begin) have already been posted. It should not be necessary to read those parts of the series to understand this story, though you might understand the characters a bit better if you did. The series as a whole covers a lot of ground: Thranduil's first years as king, his decision to move his people north to the stronghold, the birth of Legolas and his youth all the way to their journeys to Valinor in the Fourth Age. Some parts may be more interesting to some people than others.

This part of the story is about Legolas's youth until he comes of age. Most of the chapters stand alone and are only vaguely related. Most of the chapters are very 'fluffy' until Legolas gets nearer adulthood.

Any Sindarin used is translated at the end of each chapter. I am not an elf so if you see something incorrect please tell me and I will fix it.

I hope you enjoy this part of Interrupted Journeys.

Chapter 1: Lessons

"We are going to get in trouble for this," Eirienil warned as Galithil and Legolas seized her wrists and dragged her to the library door. They looked cautiously in both directions down the corridor before slipping out of the room.

Berior tagged along happily behind them, a smile on his lips and his eyes bright but focused on the end of the corridor. Legolas glanced at him and stifled a laugh. His cousin was obviously already seeing visions of green grass and tall trees and Legolas understood that all too well. It was finally spring after a very long winter and the elflings were finding it more difficult than normal to concentrate on their lessons.

When Eirienil continued to resist being pulled along the corridor, Legolas turned his eyes to her and sighed at her scowling expression. Her voice had already been loud enough to be heard all the way to the Gates. If she continued to argue, they would be discovered. Normally, he enjoyed his cousin's company, since they shared a great number of interests in common, but she was only two years older then he and all too often she behaved as if she were in charge. That rankled Legolas and he knew it simply infuriated Galithil.

"We will only be in trouble if we get caught," Galithil echoed Legolas's thoughts, whispering through clenched teeth and turning momentarily to glare at Eirienil. "And we will only get caught if someone hears you. So do not talk so loudly."

Eirienil planted her feet and twisted free of her cousins' grasp. Then she grabbed Legolas and Galithil's sleeves to prevent them from creeping further along the corridor. "We are going to be caught the moment Master Rodonon returns to the library and notices we are gone," she said firmly. "We are going to be caught as soon as we try to walk through the Gates. The guards know we are supposed to be in lessons."

Galithil rolled his eyes. "The Palace Guard is not informed of elflings' study schedules, Eirienil. They have far more important things to concern themselves with," he insisted. "All we have to do is walk past them as if nothing is wrong and we will be free in the forest. Once we are there, Rodonon cannot 'catch' us."

Berior nodded. "He never comes out of the library. He certainly will not pursue us into the trees," he added, obviously unable to understand why their tutor preferred his stuffy old scrolls to the forest.

Legolas snorted softly at Berior's tone but remained focused on persuading Eirienil to go with them. "Once outside, we can go find out what the secret is that Tulus told Berior awaits us in the barn," he reminded her, knowing the existence of that secret had been eating away at Eirienil's sense of curiosity as much as his own since Berior had mentioned it at the beginning of their morning lesson.

Eirienil released her cousins' tunics and held up her hands for a moment in dramatic resignation before putting them on her hips. "Do as you wish," she said, shaking her head, "but I am not going. You will come to understand the flaw in your logic as soon as you return from the forest and walk into the family dining room for the evening meal."

As Legolas, Galithil and Berior exchanged concerned glances in response to that prediction, Eirienil raised one eyebrow and nodded meaningfully.

Galithil immediately frowned. "You think you know everything but you are just afraid of your adar," he said challengingly. Her father, Golwon, was by far the strictest parent in the family.

Eirienil nodded unashamedly. "Yes I am, and you should show the same sense. Even your adars will not approve of us leaving our lessons without permission," she said looking at Galithil and Berior. Berior's father, Celonhael, was very indulgent but even more so was Galithil's father, Aradunnon. He was the king's younger brother and had a reputation for being a troublemaker himself. Berior and Galithil got away with much more than Eirienil did. She turned her gaze on Legolas. "And your adar is not going to react any better than mine," she threatened.

Legolas pressed his lips together and remained silent but he could not deny that she was right. His father could be every bit as indulgent as either Celonhael or Aradunnon in many ways, but he had little tolerance for breaking rules. And as much as Legolas wanted to ignore that they were indeed breaking a rule, he could not.

Galithil frowned at Legolas's wavering expression. "Legolas, do not listen to her. If you do not come, Berior will not either. He always does what you do. And I do not want to go alone. It will be boring then," he pleaded.

Legolas sighed. "She is right, Galithil. We would be better off just finishing the maps Rodonon told us to draw so he will dismiss us. Then we can go visit Tulus in the barn and play in the forest until evening meal."

Galithil's mouth twisted in a disappointed scowl and he drew a sharp breath to make a retort, but a deep voice from the end of the corridor ended the argument once and for all.

"What do you think you are doing?" it demanded with an irate tinge.

The children flinched and turned wide eyes in the direction of the voice to see Thranduil and Rodonon standing at the library door. They had been so involved in their argument that they had not heard the king and their tutor approach from the other end of the hall. Grouped together, crouched down slightly and pressed against the wall, Legolas realized that he and his cousins must look like mice caught in a trap. And so they were. They stared at Thranduil silently.

Thranduil narrowed his eyes at the children. "Get your materials from the library and go back to the family quarters. Finish the maps you were assigned to draw in your parents' rooms while you wait for us to come speak to you. You may not leave if you finish them before we arrive. Understood?"

"Yes, uncle," three small voices chorused. Even Galithil's tone was respectful in the face of Thranduil's obvious anger.

"Yes, ada," Legolas said with his cousins, looking down.

"Get moving," Thranduil ordered.

The four elflings quickly scampered around Thranduil and Rodonon, gathered their papers from the table in the library and ran back to the family quarters without saying a word.

Legolas loosed a loud sigh and continued to pace aimlessly around his parents' room. He had finished the map hours ago. After inspecting the room for anything interesting to occupy his time and finding only his mother's books of poetry and the books his father referenced while doing his work at night, Legolas had returned to the map and added more details to it than his tutor had assigned simply for something to do. Now that he had made the map as complete as possible, Legolas was reduced to stalking around the room again.

He knew his father had sent he and his cousins to their parents' rooms instead of their own rooms specifically because there were plenty of toys in each of the elflings' rooms and they were being punished.

With another loud sigh, Legolas flung himself into the padded chair his father normally occupied and stared at the wall opposite it. Being confined to this room was certainly an effective punishment, he thought, sighing yet again.

His eyes wandered the room, roaming over the mural his father had painted on the largest wall. It was a field of summer wild flowers shaded by a large oak tree. He tore his gaze from it in frustration—the painting was a poor substitution for a real green glade, which was where Legolas longed to be. He looked at his father's sword and bow in their place on the wall. He had long since learned not to touch those. His eyes followed the wall to fall on his father's desk, his mother's dressing table and their wardrobes. As a very small child, when he stayed in this room with his parents, Legolas had enjoyed looking at the small treasures in the unlocked drawers of those places, but that no longer held any interest for him. He knew their contents well.

Thinking that, Legolas's attention turned to the trunk that sat at the end of his parents' bed. He had asked once what was kept in that trunk and the answer had only fueled his curiosity—keepsakes his father would not be parted from. Legolas always wanted to know more, but Thranduil said he would show him the items in that trunk when he was old enough to understand them.

Legolas shifted in the chair to better study the trunk's carved wooden planks, dark and worn with great age. Exploring its contents would certainly be an interesting way to pass the time, though if he were caught, he would be in even more trouble. Legolas stared thoughtfully at the trunk. His father had never specifically told him that he was forbidden to open it, but Legolas knew that the promise to share its secrets with him later implied that he was expected to respect his father's privacy now.

Of course, that promise and implied expectation had been made nearly ten years ago. He was older now, Legolas reasoned.

After moment's hesitation, the elfling hopped out of the large chair and padded silently to the trunk. With a glance at the outer door of his parents' room, Legolas tried the lid. It lifted without resistance—the trunk was not locked.

Legolas let the lid close without opening it fully but he did not move. Everything that children were strictly forbidden to explore in the stronghold was securely locked. Legolas and his cousins had discovered that when trying to explore some of the rooms in the lower levels of the caverns. Legolas glanced again at the door. His father would be working for several more hours before he would have time to come speak to errant elflings—plenty of time to inspect the contents of this trunk without anyone having to know.

"I will only peek," Legolas said softly to himself as he slowly lifted the heavy lid of the trunk. "I will not touch anything."

A musty smell arose from the trunk as it opened, making Legolas wrinkle his nose as he let the lid of the trunk fall back against the foot of his parents' bed. Inside the trunk was a neatly packed assortment of pouches and boxes and items wrapped in cloth. Legolas frowned. He could not really tell what anything was. He ran one finger along a long, thin, flat object wrapped in a silk cloth. It was hard and cold under his touch. Hooking his finger under it, he lifted it slightly. It was fairly heavy.

Brow furrowing slightly, Legolas lifted the long package from the trunk and settled himself on the floor with it. There, he carefully unwrapped it and his eyes widened. It was a knife with an intricately carved bone handle and a gleaming, long blade. Grasping the handle in his right hand and supporting the blade carefully with his left, he picked it up and studied it. Even his inexperienced eyes could tell the blade had been repaired several times but it still held a dangerous edge. Legolas was tempted to stand and swing the weapon as he had seen the warriors on the practice fields swing their swords, but he remembered the punishment for playing with his father's sword and he imagined that punishment would be doubled for doing the same with this cherished treasure. Leaving it unwrapped, he knelt to look back into the trunk.

Next he pulled out a few of the pouches that were nearest the top. Slipping the drawstring on the first, Legolas saw a faded silk cloth that appeared to have once been dark. He pulled it from the pouch and unrolled it. It was a banner similar to the ones that hung outside his father's throne room but with stars embroidered on it in blue and silver thread.

Without any idea whose banner that might be or why his father had it, Legolas reached for another pouch. This one contained several silk hair ribbons and pressed flowers preserved with wax. Legolas shook his head scornfully and put the pouch aside, unable to imagine why his father considered an elleth's hair ribbons worthy to keep.

He picked up the last pouch. It was the heaviest. When he opened it and turned it over to spill its contents, two small cubes of wood with designs carved on them fell into his hand. Legolas smiled to himself. He had seen boxes like these before—they appeared to be solid wood, but would swing open if one pressed in the right spot. Only a few moments fumbling caused the first box to pop open. In it was a plain silver ring. Legolas inspected it for a moment before beginning to work on the other box. When it opened, he found it also contained a silver ring, but this one was more familiar—it was carved with leaves like the rings that his father and mother wore. Legolas frowned slightly, and set the ring aside, wondering why his father had a third copy of that piece of jewelry.

Legolas looked at the items scattered around him and still lying in the trunk. "It might be more interesting to look at these things when ada can explain what they are," he said out loud to no one. Then he spotted the corner of a book sticking out from under its cloth covering. He reached for that, wondering if the books in this trunk were as boring as the books on the shelves in his parents' room.

Letting the cloth fall to his lap, Legolas opened the book.

"Adar and I completed the bow and we are going hunting with it tomorrow," said the first line on the page. It was written with an obviously hurried hand, as if the person had been excited.

Legolas's eyes widened and he focused on the handwriting, recognizing it as his father's. He quickly closed the book—a journal. This is too personal, he thought, staring at its cover. Then he glanced at the items laid out around him and wondered if he could discover the meanings of any of these objects between the pages of that journal. He opened it again and looked at the writing without reading the words—it was not the strong, sure hand that Legolas knew from his father's correspondence but rather a childish version of the same script. Legolas fingered the brittle paper.

"Ada must have been very young when he wrote this. My age, maybe," he whispered. He was so enthralled by the idea of learning about his father as an elfling that he held his breath as he stared at the book.

Then he turned and leaned back against the trunk. "I will skip over any parts that are too personal," he promised himself, turning to the first page of the journal.

The fingers of Legolas's left hand flipped absently over the pages of the journal—a solid inch of pages that had been turned as he read. He was so engrossed in his reading that he did not hear the latch on the chamber door click or see his parents walk into the room.

"Is this what you were sent to this room to do, Legolas?" Thranduil's voice cut through the silence in the room suddenly.

Legolas started and looked up to see his father towering over him, arms folded across his chest. Legolas's heart began to beat quickly and he looked at his mother, standing behind his father. Her mouth was open slightly and her eyes were wide with dismay as she looked at Legolas surrounded by the objects from the trunk. She was obviously alarmed and concerned and that made Legolas breath a little faster.

Putting the book aside, he jumped to his feet and faced his father. "I am sorry, ada. I was bored," he said quietly, not really hoping that excuse would appease his father's wrath.

Thranduil's frown deepened. "Boredom seems to be causing you all manner of trouble today, Legolas," he replied. "First leaving your lessons without Master Rodonon's permission and now looking through this trunk without mine. Perhaps your lessons are not keeping you busy enough."

Legolas's brow drew together. "I had the map done hours ago, ada and it has more on it than Master Rodonon asked for. Our lessons keep us busy but drawing maps of the forest is not as interesting as being in the forest on a day like today. Neither is being trapped in here."

As he spoke, especially the last sentence, Legolas cringed inwardly. He knew his words would only anger his father further and, knowing that, he did not entirely understand why he said them. But before he could stop himself, they were out. Now he looked up to see his father's expression hardening.

To his relief, his mother spoke before his father could reply. "As we expected," Lindomiel said softly into her husband's ear. "And how many plants were you and Ninglor required to describe that day, Thranduil?" she added in an even softer voice.

That question made absolutely no sense to Legolas and he wondered if he had heard it correctly as he looked between his parents. To the child's amazement, his father's tense stance relaxed slightly and he turned to smile ruefully at Lindomiel. Then he loosed a quiet, calming breath and looked at the items on the floor. Legolas blinked in surprise when his father sat on the floor next to the trunk and Lindomiel settled herself beside him.

"Your naneth is referring to a time when I was even younger than you. My cousin and I slipped out of the library where we were working on a lesson describing plants to go swimming in the river against my adar's expressed wishes," Thranduil explained as he sat. "She is trying to remind me that I once succumbed to the same temptation that you experienced today, in hopes that her reminder will inspire me to rein in my temper," he added. Legolas was certain that he heard a hint of amusement in his father's voice. He glanced at his mother and could plainly tell that she was hiding a smile. Legolas's eyes were drawn back to his father when he scowled again. "Of course, that incident happened long before I wrote well enough to be interested in a journal, so you would not have read about it," Thranduil concluded, his tone now decidedly icy.

Still standing, Legolas bit his lip and looked down. "I apologize for not respecting your privacy, adar. I was bored waiting for you but I knew when I opened the trunk that I should not. I knew when I opened the journal that it was personal." He looked back at his father. "But it was so interesting…much better than the books in the library," he said quickly. Then he paused. "Still, I should not have read it. I apologize."

Thranduil patted the ground next to him. "Come discuss with me why you felt compelled to escape your lessons today, Legolas," he said. "And why they are so uninteresting to you. I must admit that I am disappointed that you were so determined to flee a task that I would have found very interesting. You know how much I like maps—seeing one that you drew of this forest, in particular, would have made me very happy. And I know you are drawing the map so that you could better understand the lessons Master Rodonon is giving you about the history of the forest in the First Age. Surely you like those stories."

Looking down to hide his surprise at his father's suddenly calm mood, Legolas hastily sat. "It is not that I dislike the maps or the stories. I would only prefer to learn about them when it is not such a pretty day," he said earnestly. "The trees are all waking up from their winter nap and we want to be with them," he paused and sighed. "More than we want to draw maps of them or hear stories about them."

Again, Legolas would have sworn that he saw a smile tugging at his father's lips, though his voice was stern. "If you had simply complied with your responsibilities this morning, you would be outdoors playing now, ion nin," Thranduil responded.

Legolas nodded. "I know that, ada. I did say that we should stay and finish the lessons right before you caught us. We…well, Eirienil and I for certain, were going to go back to the library."

Thranduil also nodded. "I heard you say that, Legolas," he said. "I am much less angry with you than I would be if I had not heard you reach that conclusion. But you did not reach it on your own. It was Eirienil that made you see the wisdom in returning to the library, was it not?"

"Yes, ada," Legolas admitted. "But Tulus told Berior that there is a surprise for us in the barn. We were curious to see what it is—even Eirienil was tempted," he added in a slightly whining voice.

Thranduil raised his eyebrows. "And what have we said in the past about curiosity?"

Legolas frowned. "That it is good to be curious but there is a time and place for everything," he said with frustration. "I know that, ada. I did say we should go back to our lessons in the end."

"But then you also opened this trunk, though I have told you I would discuss its contents with you when I felt you were old enough," Thranduil replied, picking up the knife and looking at Legolas forbiddingly.

"I did not play with it, ada. I only looked at it," Legolas said nervously.

"I believe that, Legolas," Thranduil replied. "Because I trust you to tell me the truth and because I think you would have injured yourself if you had played with it." He put the knife down and gestured at the other items on the floor. "Do you know what any of this is, ion nin?"

Legolas shook his head. "Will you tell me about some of them, ada?" he pleaded.

To his surprise, Thranduil nodded. "I will. Both because if I do not, I am certain you will sneak back in here to look at them again to try to figure out their significance and because I hope discussing them with you will help you think of your lessons as slightly less boring."

Legolas's eyebrows rose involuntarily in response. "What does any of this have to do with my lessons, ada?"

Thranduil smiled. "You are learning the history of our people, Legolas. This is all part of that history." He picked up the box with the engraved ring. "I will definitely explain to you what this is but I do not think we have time for me to tell you the stories of all these items. Pick one other and we will save the rest for another time."

Legolas frowned and looked at all the items around him. Then he pointed at the knife. "Tell me about that," he said.

Thranduil smirked. His expression betrayed that he had expected Legolas to choose the knife.

"Very well, but this weapon has a very long series of stories associated with it. I will tell you an overview now and then I will tell you the details of the stories as you learn about the time surrounding them in your lessons." He paused and looked at the knife. "The first person to wield this knife was my naneth's daeradar, Malaewon. He used it in the First Battle of the Wars of Beleriand—a series of battles, five of them very large, that were fought against the Orcs of Morgoth. Lord Malaewon died in that battle defending the King of the Nandor, Denethor, who also died," Thranduil said solemnly, causing Legolas to look at him with wide eyes.

"We are learning about King Denethor in our lessons now," he said. "He was king of the Nandor after his father Lenwë was killed by Orcs. I did not know he died too."

"He did," Thranduil responded softly. "You will learn that King Denethor led as many of the Nandor that would follow him west to Beleriand seeking the protection of the High King there. And he died aiding the High King in the defense of Beleriand. He died before I was born, but my adar and daeradar always told me that lord Denethor was a very valiant warrior and a great king of his people."

"Daeradar knew King Denethor?" Legolas asked.

Thranduil nodded. "Of course. Denethor was my daeradar's cousin on his naneth's side."

Legolas silently stared at his father, absorbing that information as Thranduil looked back at the knife and continued his story.

"The second person to wield this knife was my naneth," Thranduil said as Legolas listened intently. "It was given to her by her father, who received it when his father died. She fought the dwarves that invaded Menegroth with it. I also used it to defend Menegroth when it was destroyed, becoming the third person to wield it. Later, I fought with it during the first battle of the war against Sauron that ended the Second Age."

"You only used it in the first battle of that war?" Legolas asked.

Thranduil nodded and Legolas saw a deep sadness in his eyes. "You know my adar is in Mandos. It was in that battle that he died. After his death, I took up his sword and I have fought with it ever since."

Legolas's eyes darted to the sword on the wall. "That was daeradar's sword before it was yours," he asked.

Again Thranduil nodded. "I remember seeing it in his hand all too many time as he used it to protect me, our family and our people. Like this knife, that sword was also forged in Beleriand in the forges in Menegroth and my adar wielded it in the First Battle of the Wars of Beleriand and in the defense of Menegroth. These weapons have faithfully served our family to fight Morgoth's minions since his foul creatures first defiled Middle Earth."

Legolas tore his gaze from the sword to look back at his father. "And they still do," he added quietly.

Thranduil returned Legolas's gaze gravely. "Yes, they do. Your uncle Aradunnon and cousin Dolgailon fight Orcs in this forest. You have not seen me go to battle yet, but you eventually will. And when you and your cousins are older, it is very possible that you will accompany me or your uncles into battle. We will find a way to destroy Sauron and his servants once and for all, but that time has not come yet. Until it does, we continue to fight. For now, it is important that you learn the history of these events and the history of your people so that you understand why we fight."

Thranduil paused and took off the mithril ring that he wore. Holding it and the one that had been in the trunk in the palm of his hand, he continued, his voice very serious.

"This is why it is important to me that you take your lessons very seriously so that you have a thorough understanding of the history of the Silvan and the Sindar. Do you know what these rings are?"

Legolas shook his head. "I know you always wear the one and nana has one like it. The gold rings are your wedding rings but I do not know what the silver ones are. I thought they were just jewelry."

"No, ion nin, they are not just jewelry," Thranduil said, taking his ring and handing it to Legolas. "Like that sword, I received this ring upon my adar's death. He made it, along with the ring your naneth wears and this one," he said holding up the ring that Legolas had found in the trunk. "They are a symbol of our family's place in this kingdom. Look closely at the leaves engraved on the ring."

Legolas looked at his father for a moment longer with a puzzled expression and then turned his attention to the ring, turning it around in his hand. Finally he stopped and squinted at it more closely. "Does it say something?" he asked quietly. Then his eyes widened. "It does. It says Aran o Eryn Galen." He looked at his mother. "Nana, does yours say Bereth?" he asked excitedly.

Lindomiel smiled. "Yes, it does. Your daernana Dieneryn gave it to me on the day ada and I were married."

Legolas looked at the ring that Thranduil still held, the one that had been in the trunk. "What does that one say, ada?"

"It is the ring my adar gave me when he became King of these people. I wore it for almost three millennia, serving my adar and the people of this forest. It says 'Ernil o Eryn Galen.' When adar died and the people of this forest made me their King, I put this ring aside for my son. When you come of age, if you have shown that you can serve the people of this realm, then this ring will be yours." He handed the ring to Legolas, who turned it around to read the runes engraved amongst the leaves. "To earn that ring, you must be properly educated about the people you will serve," Thranduil added meaningfully.

Legolas tried, but failed, to stifle a sigh. "I know that, ada. I told you that I do not mind my lessons."

Thranduil frowned. "Mind your tone, elfling," he warned.

Legolas pressed his lips together and looked down. "I apologize, adar. I know we should not have left the library without permission and I should not have opened this trunk without permission." He looked up nervously. "Are we restricted to our rooms?" he asked, trying to keep his voice even though he could not entirely hide his sorrow over being banned from the forest. His breath caught when his parents shook their heads.

"No, Legolas, we will not restrict you to your room," Thranduil said softly, smiling as the elfling's face lit up with relief and amazement.

"We realize the winter was long and you need to spend time in the forest," Lindomiel continued. "But we also want you to understand the importance of your history and geography lessons and we want you to enjoy them, not merely endure them."

Legolas's tried to keep his face neutral in response to that expectation, though he did not see how it might be accomplished. He noted the smirk had returned to his father's face.

"Your uncles and I discussed how we should best respond to your attempt to escape your lesson today with your tutor. He is going to introduce you several people that have lived in this forest since King Lenwë's reign. We want you to spend some time with those elves and learn some stories from them—ones that you do not already know from the minstrels' songs and ones that interest you. Then you are going to take those stories to the minstrels and help them make new songs for the Spring Festival. You elflings are going to help the minstrels introduce the new songs and you can explain why you like them then. Do you understand what we want you to do?"

Legolas nodded. That 'punishment' was not very terrible at all. "That might be fun," he replied. "I do like hearing stories. It is just that you tell them so much better than Master Rodonon, ada," he said quietly.

Thranduil and Lindomiel both laughed openly at that causing Legolas to look at them sharply.

"I am not certain if you should tell him that or not, Legolas," Thranduil finally said, still chuckling. "On the one hand, Rodonon was my tutor too and it might lend him a sense of hope that, given time, all elflings do eventually learn. On the other hand, he was a scholar and minstrel trained by Daeron in Elu Thingol's court. I think he might be insulted to hear that I, poor student of history that I was, tell stories better than he does."

Legolas shrugged. "Well you do."

Lindomiel laughed and drew Legolas onto her lap. "Do you think the stories your adar tells are better because he tells them from his own memories?" she suggested. "Do you think you like them because they are stories about him, rather than about someone you do not know?"

Legolas thought about that for a moment. "It is more interesting to hear how ada saw things in person and to hear stories about things I can see, like this knife."

Lindomiel nodded. "Well, then you should like speaking to the elves Master Rodonon is arranging for you to meet. Their stories will be much like ada's," she said, earning a smile from Legolas.

With that, Thranduil began gathering the items from the trunk, still laughing softly. "We have two more issues to deal with, ion nin," he said.

Legolas looked at the trunk guiltily. "I am sorry I opened the trunk, ada. I promise I will not look in it again."

Thranduil was closing the wooden boxes containing the rings and placing them back in their pouch. He paused and focused on his son. "There is nothing in this chest, or indeed in this entire forest, that I will not share with you, Legolas. When you are old enough. I am not angry with you for looking in this trunk. But I would be very hurt if anything in it were damaged or lost."

Legolas looked at the hair ribbons and unconsciously raised one eyebrow. "I will not open it again, ada, unless you are with me. I promise," he said firmly.

"If you promise, then I expect that you will keep that promise and there is nothing else we need say about the trunk," Thranduil replied, looking at his son's expression.

Legolas looked up at him. "Will you just tell me what these other thing are? Not their whole story, just what they are?"

Thranduil smiled indulgently. "The other ring," he said, placing the pouch that held it back in the trunk, "is the betrothal ring I gave your naneth. When two people are betrothed, they give each other silver rings. When they are married, they exchange gold rings and give back the silver rings."

Legolas nodded, looking again at the gold ring on his father's finger.

"This," Thranduil continued, folding the banner and putting it back in its pouch, "is a banner of the High King in Beleriand. My adar took it as we escaped the stronghold when it was destroyed."

He paused and picked up the hair ribbon and flower. Legolas noted that his mother was grinning broadly.

"Yes, and what is that, meleth?" she asked, amusement in her voice.

Thranduil looked at her innocently. "This is the ribbon that you took from your hair to make me a crown of flowers on the day of our betrothal ceremony and this is one of the flowers from that crown," he said matter-of-factly. Then he leaned over to kiss her cheek.

Legolas shook his head.

"I am sure you think me as silly as your naneth does, Legolas, but one day you will understand why I keep such things."

Legolas regarded his father doubtfully but remained silent as he closed the trunk.

Then Thranduil focused on him seriously. "One more issue, Legolas," he said sternly.

Legolas straightened slightly.

"You and Galithil were wrong to try to persuade Eirienil to do something that she knew was wrong. Worse still, you pulled her along after you against her will. You both owe her an apology. She and your uncle Golwon will be waiting in the sitting room to hear it."

Rebellion flared in Legolas's eyes before he could smother it. He knew arguing with his father was not smart at this moment. He also knew Golwon would likely impose some further punishment on he and Galithil that Thranduil would support. Resignedly, he preceded his parents to the family sitting room.

Thranduil and Lindomiel settled near the fireplace and watched silently as Legolas and Galithil approached Eirienil to make their apology. The rest of the family sat around them.

"How did Galithil handle himself when speaking to you?" Thranduil asked his brother quietly as his nephew made a most insincere apology.

Aradunnon frowned as he watched his son. "Not much better than he is handling himself now. I am trying to remember how difficult it is to be an elfling after a long winter, but I am finding it challenging. What about Legolas?"

Thranduil smirked. "There were a few instances where he might have spoken more wisely," he replied. Then he paused for affect. "And when we came into the room to speak to him, he was rummaging through my trunk. Reading one of my journals, in fact."

Aradunnon's eyebrows rose and he looked over at his brother. "Curiosity will lead him into trouble one day if it has not already. Did he mention to you what Tulus told them?"

Thranduil nodded. "He did."

Aradunnon shook his head. "Galithil claimed that was why they were so anxious to leave their lessons. I might believe that with your son, but not mine—he will leave lessons given any excuse."

"They are young and they have many lessons to learn about life," Lindomiel soothed. "They will learn to control their urges to give into curiosity." She raised her eyebrows delicately. "Though I have less faith in them learning to curb their impulse to speak their minds. Sharp tongues seem to be a family trait."

As Thranduil and Aradunnon turned to stare at her with wide eyes, her father, Amglaur, and Thranduil's mother, Dieneryn, laughed.

Amglaur nodded, chuckling. "From what I have seen, the acorn has not fallen far from the oak with either of Oropher's grandsons."

Thranduil and Aradunnon scowled as their family continued laughing.



ion nin --my son