Disclaimer: Only the plot belongs to me.

Summary: When Elrohir plays a prank on Elladan by telling what he believes is a harmless little white lie, will it be Legolas who pays the price?


IT WAS ONLY A LITTLE WHITE LIE

by White Wolf

Chapter One

It was only a little white lie. It was meant to be a prank, one of many that he had pulled. But it didn't end up that way. What harm could one tiny falsehood cause? A great deal as it turned out. It wasn't even anything important, just something to make his brother look foolish. It was a silly act of revenge. But it could have altered the future of Middle-earth.

Elrohir stood on the balcony outside of his room. His far-seeing elven eyes were looking out across the valley of Imladris. Its beauty, which, on any normal day, would have brought a smile to his face, was lost on him this day. For this day his mind was in the Houses of Healing, where one of his best friends lay fighting for his life.

x x x x x

Earlier that day

"I saw it, Elladan," Elrohir insisted. "I swear I did." He frowned, looking miffed that his older twin doubted him.

Elladan saw the look. "I am sorry, Elrohir. I just cannot believe that any of Mirkwood's giant spiders is here in Imladris. It is just plain impossible."

"I could not believe it, either, but I saw it," the younger twin insisted again. "I did not imagine it."

"I am not saying that you did. I am saying that you may have mistaken something else for it. Another kind of animal moving in the trees might have made you think it was a spider."

Elrohir blew out an exasperated breath. "And why would a giant spider come to my mind first, when I know they have never been anywhere west of the Misty Mountains? Would I not think it something else - anything else? I saw it, Elladan, and I knew then, as I know now, that it was a spider." He was passionately arguing his case.

The doubt remained in Elladan's eyes, so Elrohir told him in an almost conspiratorial tone, "I have something that will convince you."

"And what is that?"

"Come. I will show you. It is in my room."

The two elves left the garden they were in and entered the house, making their way up to Elrohir's room in the residential part of the house.

Elrohir went over to his bedside table and opened the bottom drawer. He pulled out a rolled-up piece of cloth and laid the bundle on his bed before unwinding it.

Elladan stared at what was soon revealed. "That is a piece of a very large spider web." Even if he had never seen the webs of Mirkwood, he would have known that this came from a spider hundreds of times larger than the largest species they had encountered anywhere else in Middle-earth.

Elladan continued to stare wide-eyed. "I see it, but I still cannot believe it." He reached out and touched the sticky substance then rubbed his fingers together. The conclusion was unavoidable. "There really are giant spiders near Imladris."

"I told you," Elrohir said with more than a tiny bit of triumph in his voice.

The very thought that these horrible creatures were near his home made Elladan cringe. "We must inform Ada, so he can send out a patrol to destroy them."

Elrohir swallowed hard to try and dispel the rising panic he felt that Elladan would spoil everything. Shaking his head, he said, "No, Elladan, we must not tell Ada until we can confirm the number and location of their nest. Think how grand it would be to be able to come back and tell Ada what we found."

The elder dark-haired twin was frowning. "I do not know, Elrohir. I think perhaps we should say something first. Someone could be attacked before we found those awful creatures."

"That could be true even if we tell Ada, and he sends someone after them. We can leave immediately and save a lot of time and effort by others. Besides, would it not be a great adventure to hunt the spiders ourselves?" He raised his eyebrows to emphasize his question. "Remember what a great time we had, when we went with Legolas and his brothers to hunt them in Mirkwood?"

After a moment, Elladan nodded. "Perhaps you are right." A twinkle entered his eye. "I cannot deny that it would be an enjoyable adventure."

"Exactly."

Elladan nodded again, "All right. Let us do it." Before he turned to go, he said, "I will meet you at the stables in half an hour. You," he added, pointing his finger at Elrohir's chest, "will be the one to tell Ada we are going hunting."

It was hardly a surprise that Elladan had left it to his brother to face their father, thought both knew that the object of their hunting expedition would remain a secret, for the time being anyway.

When Elladan left, Elrohir sat down on his bed and burst out laughing. He put his hands over his mouth to keep the sound from reaching Elladan, who he knew would be able to hear him even in the next room.

Elrohir could hardly believe that his brother had actually believed him. It was all a hoax, of course. There were no giant spiders closer to them than Mirkwood. And that formidable forest was on the other side of the Misty Mountains.

He knew it was the spider web that had been the deciding factor. He had taken some webbing from the trees in Mirkwood the last time they were there. He hadn't known at the time just what he was going to do with it, but he knew it would somehow play a part in the retribution he was going to make Elladan suffer for what his older brother had done to him, which had ended with Elrohir in the cold current of the Forest River fully clothed.

Elrohir was looking forward to watching as Elladan scouted around, vainly searching for tell-tale webs that did not exist. He hoped he would be able to keep a straight face while all this was going on. In short, he longed to see the two little red marks that always appeared high on Elladan's cheeks when he was greatly embarrassed. And there was no doubt that he would be greatly embarrassed when the truth was revealed to him, for Elrohir intended to make sure it was done in front of as many others as he could manage to get together. The Hall of Fire came to mind.

What neither of the elves knew was that Aragorn had heard everything the twins had said in Elrohir's room. He had been about to knock on the door, which had been inadvertently left ajar, when the mention of the spider web had brought him to an immediate stop, and he had listened.

He had barely made it away from the door and into his own room before Elladan left to get ready for the hunt. That meant the ranger never heard Elrohir's laughter.

Aragorn closed his door quickly and leaned against it, exhaling a deep breath at almost getting discovered.

Legolas, who was sitting on Aragorn's bed, waiting for his return, looked up when the man entered. He frowned when his friend leaned his ear against the door and then put his finger to his lips for silence.

The elf waited patiently, and when Aragorn walked over to him, he asked, "What have you done now?" Legolas had seen the man do this to escape someone's attention since he was a child.

Aragorn ignored the question and sat down next to Legolas. He leaned close to him. "Do you know there are giant spiders near here?"

A laugh greeted that question. "You are joking, of course."

"Apparently not," the ranger said quite seriously. "I saw the web myself." He then proceeded to tell Legolas what he had heard and about the web he had seen Elrohir show to Elladan.

The look on the elf's face showed he didn't know whether to laugh again or pity the poor human for his gullibility. "Estel, there are no giant spiders in Imladris. They are spawns of the Shadow. They exist only in Mirkwood."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. They cannot cross the mountains. For one thing, they live in trees."

"So do you, and here you are." It seemed like a good argument to the man.

"I do not live in trees," Legolas protested. "I merely live among them. Besides, I am not a spider." Legolas eyed his friend. "Estel, there are no giant spiders this side of the mountains. Trust me on this."

"Then how to you explain the web Elrohir found?" Aragorn was determined to argue his case, or rather Elrohir's, until convinced otherwise.

The elf paused for a moment. "There can be only one explanation: Elrohir found it in Mirkwood and brought it here."

Now Aragorn paused. His face twisted, as he thought about why Elrohir would do that. "Maybe he brought it to show some of the elves here, who have never seen webs like that."

"I think fooling Elladan into believing such an incredible tale about giant spiders being in Imladris is closer to the truth. He does owe his brother for that Forest River incident."

Aragorn grinned. That made perfect sense. The youngest twin had saved it for now to talk Elladan into doing something foolish, such as hunting a creature that did not exist anywhere near here.

Aragorn was now certain that Legolas had to be right. His grin widened. "Let's follow them and watch this trickery play out. It should be fun."

It didn't take any more convincing on the ranger's part to get the elven prince to agree. Legolas was as up for a bit of fun at the expense of one or both twins as Aragorn was. He had been on the receiving end of enough of their pranks to be happy to get revenge, even if it was indirectly.

"Are they telling Lord Elrond?" the elf suddenly asked, realizing that the elf lord would soon put a stop to this nonsense, if he knew.

"Oh no. Elrohir has gone to tell him they are going hunting but not for what," Aragorn explained. "We will head out right behind them. If Ada misses us, he will simply think we have joined them in the hunt."

Legolas nodded and left Aragorn's room, after agreeing to meet at the stable once the twins had ridden off. He headed for his own room to get his weapons.

x x x x x

It took no more than halt an hour to reach the spot where Elrohir said he found the spider's web.

Elladan looked all around, craning his neck from one side to the other and then up. "So where is the rest of the web? I know it didn't just disappear on its own." He knew those things were thick and sticky and wouldn't even blow away in a strong wind.

Elrohir chided himself for not thinking that his brother would ask that question. He had to do some quick mental scrambling. "I destroyed it," was all he could come up with in a hurry.

The next logical inquiry came soon after. "Why would you do that? I would think you would want to leave evidence."

"There was no need," Elrohir replied, still thinking fast. "I intended for only you to know, and I knew right where it was."

Elladan seemed to accept that explanation, though it still didn't make a lot of sense to him. But then, his younger brother sometimes didn't.

The two elves dismounted. Elrohir suggested they separate but keep in shouting distance of each other. He knew he would have to be far enough away to keep Elladan from hearing his laughter should it get out of control.

Elladan began his search in earnest, inspecting the ground and scanning the trees. The leaves on the branches were carefully inspected front and back. He even turned over some rocks in hopes of finding some kind of clue, remote as that would be. Giant spiders were not likely to leave clues to their presence under rocks.

Elrohir quietly followed Elladan, snickering to himself, as he watched the serious look in his twin's face turn more and more grave as time went by and nothing was found.

Unbeknownst to them, Legolas and Aragorn had dismounted a good distance away and had crept up near them. They were watching both twins with interest. Seeing Elrohir's amusement at watching his brother was almost as funny as seeing Elladan's intense concentration on his task.

It hadn't taken too long before Elladan became frustrated. He whistled for his brother, and when Elrohir approached, the elder twin said, "I think this is a waste of time. There is not one shred of evidence of any spiders. If they were here, we would have seen them or their webs by now."

"They are here. We just haven't found them yet. I did see just the one, but if we found their nest we would get them all." After a pause, Elrohir added, "Perhaps we should climb up into the trees to look. That is where they spend most of their time."

"I wish Legolas was here. He could ask the trees if there are any spiders around."

Elrohir sighed rather loudly in what appeared to be an attempt to sympathize with their situation. "Yes, I agree. Neither of us can communicate with trees the way a wood elf can."

"How right you are," Legolas whispered to Aragorn from their vantage point behind a large tree. He smiled and gave a gentle brush of his hand across the bark in front of him.

A frown spread over the archer's face.

Aragorn looked at him. "What is it, Legolas? Is something wrong?"

"The tree sends a warning."

"About what?"

Legolas stood up and turned, all of his senses trained on the part of the forest he now faced. "I sense something out there. Something dangerous."

The ranger straightened from his crouched position to stand beside the elf, no longer caring if he was spotted by his brothers. His gaze followed that of his elven friend. Could there really be giant spiders here? Aragorn listened but heard nothing.

There was a moment of complete silence that dragged on into several. The muscles of both elf and human were taut in anticipation.

Legolas turned to the man, "Warn your brothers."

Aragorn turned back to shout out the warning to Elladan and Elrohir, but they had moved out of sight. "Where did they go?"

"Find them," Legolas hissed between clenched teeth, as he pulled his bow from his back and fitted an arrow to the string. He stood and aimed. "Now, Estel. Warn them!"

Aragorn was reluctant to leave his friend to face the danger alone while he went to warn his brothers of trouble, but he had learned long ago to listen to what Legolas had to say, especially where danger was concerned. So he obeyed the elf and ran toward where he had last seen Elladan and Elrohir and began shouting for them.

He would forever regret that decision.

Knowing that Aragorn was safe for the moment and would soon alert his brothers, Legolas turned his full attention to the danger in front of him.

Moments later, Aragorn rushed back with the twins right behind him, all ready to fight whatever it was that Legolas had sensed. But it was too late.

TBC