A Joke Gone Wrong
Summary: 13-year-old Estel plays a joke on Legolas. The Elf's reaction and the ensuing fallout could have severe consequences on several lives.
Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien. I may have invented a few characters, but I don't own them either. I just put them in my stories when they behave (or sometimes because they don't!).
Confession: This was actually the first chapter story I started when I decided to try writing some fan fics. However, shortly in - and before posting luckily - I was hit with major writer's block. (My muse-squirrel went way past the daisy field to who knows where!) So I left it and started and finished "Homecoming" (which you can read from my author's page), but occasionally worked on this as well. I'm finally getting over my writer's block – I HOPE – so I'll be able to post this in a reasonable amount of time.
One more note – this is the joke I refer to in my short story "A Time for Questions."
#Grins# Shameless plugs for my other stories are now over. #Grin turns into a smirk with no shame evident#
Estel was nearly beside himself with joy. He was on the way to the archery range with his brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, and Legolas. Legolas who was finally back in Imladris after being gone for over three years. While three years wasn't long for the Elves, for the 13-year-old human it had been unending. Legolas did write all the time. Whenever an Elf traveled from Mirkwood, it had missives from the prince, usually more than one, but it wasn't the same. But now Legolas was here and had been for almost a week. This was the first chance they had had to go to the archery range. Business, as Estel called it, had to occur first. Long talks with Lord Elrond and Glorfindel and other such matters took time. But now the Mirkwood prince was free to spend time with Estel.
As they walked, the twins and Legolas conversed about their recent excursions. But Estel wasn't paying attention. He was looking too forward to having Legolas help him improve his archery skills. The twins had started teaching him nearly a year ago. When they had been gone from Imladris, other Elves had tutored the teenager. But it was Legolas who was the best archer. Shortly before the Mirkwood Elf had arrived, Elladan confirmed this one day at the end of practice.
"You are improving, Estel. The next time Legolas visits; we will have him work with you. He is the best archer I have ever seen."
"Very true," Elrohir agreed. "I have seen him hit the bull's-eye on targets I could barely see."
The older twin looked at the younger, but decided not to harass his brother on that comment.
"I can usually beat Legolas in hand-to-hand combat with swords," Elladan continued.
Estel gaped. "Only usually?" He knew there were few Elves in Imladris that could equal either of the twins in fighting. And all of those were old, even by Elven standards. The twins trained against themselves most of the time, because the other younger Elves were tired of being beaten by them.
"Yes, Legolas has beaten him a few times over the centuries. Me, on the other hand," Elrohir answered.
"You have lost to him as much as I have." Elladan interrupted. "Which is not often, but has happened."
The younger son of Elrond scowled at his brother. "I am just glad that archery is more important to him than sword work. He might be able to beat us then."
"If he fought orcs as often as we did, it would improve his sword skills. Let us hope he sticks to spiders!" Both twins laughed.
Estel shrugged off the notion of the spiders. He didn't really understand what they meant. Legolas had mentioned before that he fought spiders, but it didn't make any sense to the young human. You could step on spiders, why fight them?
"So you think he'll be willing to teach me?" Estel asked eagerly.
"Oh, he will love it. Just remember, Estel. He makes archery look easy. It is not. Do not be frustrated when you watch him and cannot shoot," the Elf paused searching for the right term, "anywhere near as good, easily, or fast as him."
"That is comforting, Elladan. Scare Estel before he even starts."
"I am being realistic. Many of our own Elves have become frustrated shooting against Legolas. I want to warn our brother."
"I know I won't be as good as him." Estel interrupted what was about to become a good argument. "After all, I'm only starting and he's been shooting for, what, centuries?"
Estel's reflections were broken when a hand was laid on his shoulder.
"I am looking forward to seeing you shoot, Estel. I still cannot get over how you have grown since the last time I was here." Legolas smiled down at the human.
"Humans grow quickly, Legolas. You've missed a lot," Estel countered.
"I know. I wanted to come sooner, but I could not." The Elf's eyes grew distant. "In fact, according to some, I should not be here now. I have responsibilities." His voice grew hard, but then he shook his head to clear the melancholy. "But I missed you, and maybe even those two." He pointed at the twins walking a few steps ahead of them. "I had to come see you." He smiled down at Estel again.
Once they were on the range, Legolas became all business. He had Estel shoot several different targets that were spread out across the field. After the young man came back from retrieving his arrows, Legolas corrected his grip, his way of aiming, basically everything Estel had learned. But after several hours of practice, the teenager hit the bull's-eye of the closest target; the first time ever he had done so!
"Legolas! Look! Elladan! Elrohir! I hit the bull's-eye!" He yelled and jumped up and down.
The three Elves bit back grins at the uncharacteristic display of emotion. And instead complimented him on the excellent shot.
Soon after, Legolas ended the lesson for the day despite Estel's protests, claiming Estel needed to be able to feel his arms tomorrow. The time spent on the range had greatly exceeded the teen's normal practice session.
Then next morning, Estel's arms were sore, but he refused to admit it. He demanded that Legolas work with him again and the Elf agreed with a smile. The second day's session was shorter, but Estel's enthusiasm remained high as he showed even more improvement. For the next several days, Estel and Legolas spent hours on the archery range. Often the twins joined them.
One day, as just Estel and Legolas were on the path to the archery range, Estel felt eyes on him. He glanced over to see Legolas watching him with a bemused expression.
"What are you looking at?" he queried.
"You," was the reply.
The Elf shook his head and smiled slightly. "It is just that I cannot get over how tall you have gotten. And your hair – it is finally growing." The smile was teasing at the end.
Estel snorted and stopped walking to regard Legolas seriously. "The last time you saw me I was a child, Legolas. I'm not anymore."
Legolas raised an eyebrow and laughed. Estel frowned. "You are what? 13? To me, Estel, you are still a child."
Estel's frown deepened into a scowl.
"Peace, Estel. I mean no slight. You are growing quickly, but you still have more years to go before you can truly be considered an adult – whether you are a Man or Elf."
The teen's expression eased somewhat. "You sound like my father. But Legolas, I'm not a baby any more. When will you realize that?"
Legolas bit back a smile and replied seriously. "It is hard, Estel. It was only yesterday to me that we met and you nearly bowled me over in the garden." Both smiled. "I realize you are growing up, but," he trailed off unsure of how to continue. After a pause he resumed, "If it makes you feel better, young one, my nephew feels the same way you do. He is 34 which is nearly the age that Elves are considered adult. But we – his parents, grandfather and I – still have trouble believing he is not an elfling."
The Elf laughed softly. "So you are not alone in your opinion, Estel, if that helps."
Estel made a face that Legolas could not interpret before replying. "So you're saying that this is an issue with all old Elves?"
Legolas narrowed his blue eyes and pretended to be affronted. "For starters, I am not old. Lord Elrond, Glorfindel and my father are old. I am still young."
"Having issues with youngsters growing up and not wanting to admit it is the norm for all adults – Elf or Man – parent or not. You will experience it someday yourself."
"Yea, right," Estel snorted again, this time in disbelief.
Legolas smiled again and shook his head at the youngster. "Shall we continue to the archery range?"
As they continued down the path, Estel again felt eyes on him. "What?" he said exasperated.
Legolas grinned. "You really are getting tall, Estel. I would not be surprised if you end up being as tall as some of the Eldar."
Estel nearly tripped over his feet as he gaped at the Elf. It was the first time anyone had compared him favorably to the Eldar. He then recovered and said as nonchalantly as he could manage, "Yep, I'm getting taller. And I will continue to since I'm so young and have so much more time to grow."
Legolas laughed. "Yes, time to grow and practice your archery. Let us see how you do today."
Several days later, the twins rejoined Legolas and Estel. They had not watched in many days and were impressed with the teen's progress. They complimented him. Late in the afternoon, the four returned to the Last Homely House. The twins turned off to report on Estel's improvement to their father while Legolas and Estel headed to the stable to check on Legolas' horse. As they were leaving, a spider jumped from a hay bale to Legolas' shoulder. The Elf started, then knocked the spider to the ground and took great pleasure in picking up a bucket and smashing it.
"I hate spiders," he stated, more to himself than Estel. Legolas then returned the bucket to its spot and headed out of the barn. "Come on, Estel. We must clean up before dinner."
Estel called out "I'm coming" as a grin spread over his face.
He had just thought of a great joke to play on the Mirkwood Elf.
A/N – I know absolutely nothing about archery, hence the broad terms. I figure you have to grip and aim at least so I was safe mentioning those. So if you know about archery, just wince and pardon my ignorance.
Also, I don't have a beta, so any and all mistakes are mine, but I blame them on my squirrel. BTW, it loves reviews. They give it way more energy to write than nuts do…