A blond elf strode through the trees of Mirkwood confidently. Every so often he would glance at his dark haired companion and conceal a smile. Ah…the energy of youth!
Indeed, the young one that strode next to the fair being was nearly bouncing in excitement, his dark locks flipping around his shoulders as he turned his head this way and that.
The elf was about to make some comment on the restlesness that surrounded his fellow traveler, but thought better of it as he saw how truly high strung the youngster was. By the Valar! A tap on the shoulder might be taken as an attempt on his life…
The slightest movement of a tree's branches caught the fair elf's eye. He smiled slightly. Holding out his arm, he brought his companion to a halt.
"I know you are there," The elf called out in a clear voice. "Come out where I can see you."
Almost immediately, another elf dropped from the braches over head. He straightened from his crouched position and smiled impishly at the two. "You are late. My Lords Thranduil and Elrond have expected you long before this."
Elladan woke with a start. Sitting up slowly, he glanced around the guest chambers in confusion. What had caused his sudden alertness? Not a sound…nor even the thin beam of light that had managed to squeeze itself through a crack in the curtains. Seeing nothing that appeared immediately amiss, the young elf lord yawned widely and lay back, folding his hands beneath his head. He fully intended to return to the realm of blissful slumber, but…something was tugging at his senses. After several moments of tossing and turning, he threw back his covers in disgust and swung his legs over the side of the bed.
He needed to find out what was happening. Perhaps it was Estel and Legolas. Again. He growled softly as he snatched his clothing from the back of a chair. Those two…
Recognizing that the elder twin had been in low spirits with the prolonged separation from his brother, the irrepressible duo had been attempting to cheer the elf up. This involved the staging and execution of several elaborate pranks all at the dark haired Noldo's expense. Then of course, when he sought retribution, they would claim that they were still 'invalids' and needed to be treated as such.
Elladan snorted softly. It had been a month since that horrible night…an entire month of enduring whatever jokes they could pull without being able to exact revenge.
And now there was this feeling…
As he finished dressing, the elf strode towards his door, testing it carefully before he swung it open. Estel had recently left a bucket filled with pond mud up there…This morning however, the door opened without incident. Elladan sighed in relief and stepped out into the hall.
As soon as he set foot out of his room, the dark haired elf knew that something was up…He could hear voices…his father's, Thranduil's…his heart skipped a beat as he recognized the other.
That was Glorfindel…
…and if Glorfindel was here…
"Elrohir!" The twin sped down the lengthy passage towards his father's chambers. He could hear the voices from behind Elrond's door with a clarity that he had never experienced even with his elven ears.
He could hear the voice of his brother now…
Catching hold of the doorknob, Elladan through the door wide to find himself faced with…
For a moment, neither elf could move or speak. They simply stared at each other. It was incredible, Elladan realized in a detached sort of way, how truly alike he and his brother looked. It was wonderful. His twin. The other half of his soul.
Elrohir's mouth tipped slightly. "Did you miss me?"
"Not really." Elladan allowed his mouth to tip in exactly the same way.
"Liar." Elrohir stepped forward and wrapped his arms around his brother.
"I try." The elder twin returned the embrace fiercely.
"Where is it!" Legolas emerged from a rather large wardrobe, his blond hair sticking out at several strange angles. Tunics, leggings, and several other articles of clothing were strewn about the room, giving a casual viewer the impression that a smallish sized gale had ripped through the prince's chambers.
"Perhaps if I knew what you were looking for…" Aragorn picked his way gingerly across the floor. With a sigh, he sank onto the elf's bed and watched as Legolas began to double check the clothes he had already flung far and wide.
"My favorite tunic," Legolas frowned as he threw something sky blue to one side. "The green one…with those designs on it…"
Aragorn felt the smile on his face freeze. The last he had seen of that particular tunic…he had personally torn it into shreds. 'Of course, it had been necessary,' a slightly panicked voice in his head insisted , ' Legolas had needed bandages…'yet somehow he did not think that the fair elf would take that view of things.
"Have you seen it anywhere?" Legolas turned towards the ranger, a scowl still marring his handsome face.
Aragorn opened his mouth, hoping against hope that nothing stupid would come out… "Um…no?" Drat. Apparently, the Valar were calling his bluff.
"Why was that response in the form of a question, mellon nin?" The prince's blue eyes narrowed dangerously as he slowly started to approach his friend.
A soft knock diverted Legolas' attention from the unfortunate ranger. The elf's scowl deepened slightly. "Do not think that I will forget this, Aragorn," He said darkly as he picked his way across the cluttered floor. With an ill tempered growl, he flung the door wide. "What!…Oh…Elladan…"
It was a curious thing to see the royal elf's temper flee from his body as swiftly as a bird in flight. Aragorn quickly stood at the mention of his brother's name and made his way to Legolas' side. His heart jolted painfully as he saw the dark haired elf's sorrowful countenance. "Elladan! What is it? What is the matter?"
"Glorfindel has arrived." Elladan's voice was low and taught. His grey eyes were shadowed.
Aragorn swallowed painfully. Glorfindel had arrived. What of Elrohir…? "And our brother?" He asked worriedly, " Where is Elrohir?" What if the younger twin's injuries had proved to be more serious than they had thought?
At the mention of his twin's name, Elladan's face crumpled as though he was about to burst into tears.
Standing a fair distance down the hall, Elrohir fought to keep from laughing. When his twin had informed him of the tricks that their younger brother and the esteemed prince had enjoyed performing over the past month…well, he could not resist the chance to help his sibling exact retribution from the duo.
Quickly, the younger twin slapped a hand over his mouth as he saw Elladan's face crumple. Oh…this was so good…
"He…" Elladan allowed his voice to crack, as though with pain. In reality he was probably fighting mirth just as hard as his brother.
"Yes?" Aragorn's slightly frantic voice echoed in the hall.
The dark haired elf burst in very obviously fake sobs. "He has returned safely! COMPLETELY HEALED!" With that, he threw his arms around Legolas' neck and continued to weep.
There was a moment of silence.
"I swear," The ranger's voice was completely flat. "one of these days, I shall simply kill you."
Elrohir would have loved to join his brothers and friend at this point, but was unable. The gales of laughter that shook his frame rendered him quite imobile.
Despite his annoyance at being so fooled, Aragorn could not help but smile as he saw the younger twin finally calm himself to the point where he could move once more. "Elrohir!" The ranger quickly pushed past Elladan and embraced the dark haired elf, his smile widening as he felt the strength and well being that fairly flowed from his brother. Oh how he had missed him. They all had.
Elrohir tightened his grip on his little brother slightly. Yes, he had known that if anything had happened to Estel, his father and brother would have sent word. Still…ever since he had endured that horrible dream…he knew he would not be satisfied until he held his younger brother in his arms. Until he could tell for himself that Estel was all right…that he was well…
The elf's gray eyes were suddenly drawn to the pile of clothing that seemed to cover the greater portion of Legolas' room. "um…what has happened here?"
Aragorn released his brother, concealing a wince. They were back into dangerous territory…
"I can not find a tunic," Legolas grumbled softly, lightly kicking something pale green that had the audacity to not be what he was searching for. "My favorite one."
Elrohir's brows drew together. "Was it green? With designs of your house embroidered on it?"
Legolas brightened considerably. "Aye! That's the very one!"
'Oh no…' Aragorn glanced hopefully at the door, and wondered how fast he could make it down the hall.
"I remember it too," Elladan cast a strange look at the prince. "You were wearing it the night we were attacked by the orcs."
"But I was not wearing it by the time I reached Mirkwood…" Legolas frowned once more, perplexed by the blank in his memory. "I had only the undertunic."
Elrohir noticed the nervous looks his younger brother was shooting towards the door. Suddenly, a suspicion grew in his mind. "Estel, do you know anything about the disappearing clothing?"
The ranger shot a look that would have fried a troll at the twin. "Well…Legolas…do not get upset…I had to tear it up for bandages."
The prince remained remarkably calm. "My tunic."
"You tore it up."
Aragorn surveyed his friend carefully. There was not hint of anger…yet. Nothing to convey a sense of impending doom. "Yes…"
The fair elf smiled sweetly. "I will forgive you, Dunadan."
Elladan and Elrohir exchanged a look. It wasn't a good thing when Legolas smiled sweetly. Orcs and spiders usually had their last view filled with that angelic expression… Aragorn knew this as well as anybody. His eyebrow crawled up his forhead incredulously. "Oh? Really?"
"Yes." A very dangerous glint appeared in the blue depths of Legolas' eyes. "That is why I will give you a head start. And when I catch you, you will only take a swim in the palace pond instead of the enchanted river."
"Legolas, that pond only melted weeks ago…"
"You have until I count to three hundred."
"Legolas you are being unreasonable…"
"Elladan…Elrohir…can I have some help please?"
Elladan grinned at the young ranger. "I do not see how we can help you pen neth. After all, we can not do your running for you."
Swearing creatively, the human dashed away.
Legolas winked at the twins. "Three…four…two hundred and ninety-eight…twohundred and ninety-nine…Three hundred. My. That went quickly."
The two dark haired elves laughed softly as the prince cheerfully set forth to find their brother. It was nice to know that some things would never change.
Elrond sighed in contentment. He sat beside Thranduil on one of the Elvenking's many balconies overlooking a particularly lovely view of the gardens. The fair elf was relaxed somewhat for once, his head turned towards the warmth of the sun overhead, eyes half closed.
"How do you take this, Peredhel?"
Surprised by the question, Elrond turned toward the fair king. "How do you mean?"
Thranduil sighed softly and opened his eyes fully. "Your sons. Three of them who manage to injure themselves on a fairly regular basis. I have only Legolas…yet that is quite enough for me. Every time he is wounded…it tears at me. I do not know if I would be able to stand the feeling magnified threefold."
"I will not pretend that it is easy," Elrond said dryly. "But then, there is not much I can do. They are grown now. Even Estel." The last name was said softly…almost wistfully.
It was understandable, Thranduil thought as he studied the elf lord. The human was, by elven terms, barely more than a toddler, yet Elrond was forced to recognize the fact that he was indeed grown. "Do you think that this experience will teach them to be more cautious?"
Elrond actually grinned. "One may always hope. It would be nice," he added, half seriously, "not to see one drag the other (or others , Thranduil grumbled) back home for me to patch back together."
"It would." Thranduil smiled. "Perhaps they will have aquired a touch of maturity with their latest scars."
The two elf lords enjoyed that rather attractive daydream for all of three seconds.
The sound of a slamming door caught Elrond's attention. He rose from his seat and strode to the balcony's railing…just in time to see Estel race across the lawn, closely pursued by Legolas.
The elf leapt into a spectacular flying tackle, bringing the ranger down.
"Legolas! It was necessary, mellon nin!"
The prince proceeded to drag Estel towards the small pond in the center of the garden.
Elrond glanced back at the Elvenking. Thranduil glared back at him, his blue eyes flat. "Do. Not. Say. A. Word." The dark haired elf fought to retain his customary impassiveness, but the twinkle in the grey eyes betrayed him as the increasingly agitated shouts echoed up to the balcony.
"Legolas! There is still ice around the edges!
"Do not worry, mellon nin, I believe that I have recovered enough strength to throw you to the center…"
There was a splash.
When Elrond looked at Thranduil again, the fair king held his golden head in his hands, groaning softly.
Legolas' clear voice rose in a laugh. "Honestly, you men make too much of cold…"
"You only say that because you have not experienced it for yourself. Come, share with me."
The riotous laughter of the twins, who had calmly followed the prince outside to make sure he did not drown their brother, turned suddenly to shouts of dismay as the sodden pair began hurling large amounts of mud.
Elrond resumed his seat, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. "What did we do to be blessed with such sons?"
"I do not know." The same smile pulled at Thranduil's mouth as he rose to fetch towels he was certain the two friends would desire in a very short amount of time. "But I am sorry already."