This is going to be an occasional series of lighthearted interludes in which elflings will be elflings, i.e., cute and endearing. Angsty elfling stories will be posted elsewhere.
All the stories should be considered part of The Nameless One series because in them Legolas, as Anomen, will be fostered in Elrond's household in Rivendell.
This first one doesn't have much of a plot. In fact, I don't think any of them will have much of a plot. They will be just brief episodes in which elflings get into minor mischief. (I guess it does take angst to make a plot.)
Beta reader: No. Not important enough to bother my beta reader. If anyone notices any errors, just let me know.
Episode 1: Unbearable Sweetness
Anomen's limbs were beginning to cramp, but he didn't dare move. Above him, knives gently clinked on plates, and voices laughed. The feast had been going on for hours, and likely would go on for several more, but Anomen wasn't going to give up now. He would remain in his hiding place under the table until he learned what he wanted to know. If he gave up now, not only would he be in trouble, but he would face Elrohir's scorn. He had been foolish to accept Elrohir's dare, but since he had, he wouldn't go back on his boast that he would discover Mithrandir's intentions.
A new voice joined the conversation above his head. It was Figwit. "My Lord Elrond," the messenger reported, "No one has seen Anomen for hours. It grows dark, and the young one's minder thought you would like to know."
"Thank you, Figwit. You may reply that Anomen's safety shall be seen to."
"Yes, my Lord."
A moment later the table's cloth was raised. "You may come out now, Anomen," Elrond said evenly. Shamefaced, Anomen crawled out, but when he tried to stand, he winced and grabbed at his legs. Gently, Elrond lifted him up and carried him from the room into a nearby chamber and placed him upon a chair. The Master of Rivendell knelt on the floor before the elfling and massaged his legs until the circulation was restored. Then the elf-lord sat upon another chair. "Well, Anomen," he said gently, "You were in a very uncomfortable position for a very long time. Will you tell me why you were hiding beneath the table?"
Anomen decided not to mention Elrohir's dare, for that would be tattle-taling—or 'orcing' as it was known in those days. However, even though he would not tell the whole truth, he would not lie, either. "I wanted to know how long Mithrandir would stay and where he would travel to next."
"Curiosity is commendable," Elrond said, "but is it necessary to spy to satisfy one's curiosity?"
Anomen blushed. He had not thought himself to be spying. He tried to defend himself. "Our scouts spy," he argued.
"True. But upon whom do our scouts spy?"
"Our enemies," Anomen conceded.
"And is Mithrandir an enemy?"
"No," Anomen said softly, studying his knees, which had suddenly become an amazingly interesting portion of his anatomy. Suddenly it occurred to him that he ought to make use of them. He slipped from the chair and knelt before Elrond. "Ada, I am sorry. I won't ever again hide under the table to spy on Mithrandir."
Elrond noticed that Anomen's promise had been very specific—he would never again hide under the table to spy upon Mithrandir. That left a great many opportunities for spying. He accepted Anomen's promise nonetheless, knowing that it was too much to expect that the elfling would cease haunting the steps of his beloved wizard. He stroked the elfling's hair and smiled. "I am sure you will keep that promise, Anomen. You should also consider whether it is wise to allow Elrohir to provoke you by daring you. It invariably results in your getting into trouble."
"I didn't tell you that Elrohir dared me," exclaimed Anomen. "You must tell Elrohir that I didn't orc on him!"
"I did not say that you did, but thank you for confirming what I had guessed."
Anomen uttered not a word, but his face said it all. His blush reached to the very tips of his pointed ears. "You had better stand up," Elrond suggested, "else your legs will be as sore as formerly." The elf-lord arose and extended his hand to the elfling, pulling him to his feet. "Now, as you have been under a table, you have missed the meal served to your brothers upon a table. Betake yourself to the kitchen. Tell the Cook that I have sent you to get somewhat to eat. Then to your room and to bed. No climbing down the trellis for any nighttime excursions. I hope you heard the Lord Glorfindel mention that the contents of the armory need a good dusting. I can think of someone I might assign to that task."
Anomen had no desire to spend several days polishing armor, so he retreated toward the door. He was still a curious elfling, however, so he paused at the door and looked back at Elrond. "Ada, how did you know that I was under the table?"
"When the Lord Glorfindel stretched out his legs, I heard a soft cry and understood that his boot had connected with some creature. It was not hard to guess the identity of the creature. Figwit merely confirmed my guess."
"And Elrohir's dare?"
"Why should today be any different from any other day, Anomen?"
"You say little but express much, Anomen. Commendable eloquence in one so young," smiled Elrond. "Now be off with you, lest you find the kitchen empty."
'Of course', reflected Elrond after the elfling has disappeared from the door, 'if Anomen found the kitchen empty, that would be no obstacle to his satisfying his hunger. He has raided the kitchen often enough to know where everything is stored, including some of those delicacies that the Cook tries to hide in order to thwart the depredations of elflings'.
Just then he heard a knock upon the door frame, and Gandalf poked his head into the room.
"Ah, Mithrandir, you have tired of feasting?"
"No, but I wondered if you had."
"I have not, and I shall return with you to the Dining Hall."
The two fell into step. "What was the lad up to this time?" Gandalf asked.
"Spying on you."
"On me? What did he want to know?"
"How long you will stay and where you will go next."
"Didn't it occur to him that he could ask?"
"You must confess that you can be off-putting at times, Mithrandir, so that he might hesitate to ask you directly. In any event, a forthright approach is not nearly as interesting as stealing into the midst of a company and ferreting out secrets. Truly, Mithrandir, where is the glory in asking?"
Gandalf chuckled. "Elrond, you possess remarkable insight into the elfling mind."
"I think not," Elrond said dryly. "I have been raising elflings for centuries. I would be remarkably obtuse had I not by now acquired a reasonable understanding of their thought processes."
By now Anomen was seated at a trestle table in the kitchen, with an apple in one hand and a piece of cheese in the other. The Cook was bustling about and grumbling as he pulled a dish out of the pie safe. It must be said, however, that this supposedly irritable personage cut a very large slice for the lad, and moreover decorated it with an extremely generous dollop of cream. For good measure, the Cook relit the fire and warmed some cider, and when he plunked the mug upon the table, Anomen opened his eyes wide at the sight of the cinnamon stick poking above the brim.
"Master Cook," he said shyly, "you are very good to me."
"Nonsense," harrumphed the older Elf. "I am a cook, and it is a cook's charge to feed folk properly, regardless of circumstances. Why, if an Orc were to walk hungry through that door, I would make sure his meat were done to a turn. Of course," the Cook added thoughtfully, "I reckon that wouldn't take much trouble on my account, as I hear tell that Orcs prefer their meat raw."
Anomen shuddered, and the Cook apologized at once. "I am sorry, my lad. That wasn't a pleasant thing to say in the hearing of a young one. I hope I haven't put you off your feed."
Anomen assured him that his appetite was unimpaired, and he proceeded to demonstrate the truth of that claim by polishing off apple, cheese, and pie and draining the mug of cider. "Well," exclaimed the Cook, "I hope you will not have the stomach ache from eating all that food! Here, you had better take some peppermint drops just to be sure. They will settle the sourest stomach."
Anomen was tempted to ask the Cook whether he would give an Orc peppermint drops, but decided he had better not. Politely, he accepted the handful of drops and ran off to climb the steps to the bedchamber he shared with Elrohir and Elladan. The two sat up eagerly when Anomen burst through the door.
"Have you any news?" demanded Elrohir.
"I have got something better," Anomen replied, opening his fist and showing them the peppermint drops.
"You have been in the kitchen," exclaimed Elladan, impressed. "You have been in the kitchen and managed to get your hands on such sweets as the Cook keeps well secured."
"Yes," said Anomen grandly. "From my expedition I return bearing a great prize." He thought it unnecessary to tell the twins that the Cook had given him the sweets. As Elladan and Elrohir were not on speaking terms with the Cook, it was unlikely that the subject would ever come up in their presence.
Anomen carefully doled out the peppermint drops so that each had an equal share. As Elrohir sucked one of his, he mumbled that he held the dare satisfied.
"It—mm—would be a great—mmmm—accomplishment to wheedle news out of mmm—Mithrandir, but it is an—mmm—even greater deed to—mmm—come away from the kitchen with—mm—such winnings."
"That is very kind of you to say," Anomen answered, modest now, and Elrohir was flummoxed. After all, if he had come away from the kitchen with a handful of peppermints, he would have not left off bragging for a very long time. Indeed, he knew that he might have hoarded the candy—sharing it only with his twin—save that hiding the sweets would have deprived him of the opportunity to boast. Elrohir felt a little guilty, for Anomen was generous, and he was not. He reached under his pillow and pulled out a curious stone that he had plucked from the bank of the Bruinen on a recent excursion. It was white and pinkish, looking rather like a peppermint drop. He held it out to Anomen. "Here is something to remind you of this day, Anomen."
"Le hannon, Elrohir," said Anomen, surprised. Thank you, Elrohir.
"Oh, it is nothing," Elrohir said loftily. It was now his turn to be grand. His haughtiness, however, proved an irresistible target to Elladan. The younger twin picked up his pillow and whacked it over his brother's head. Forgetting the gracious manners that they had been at pains to affect, Elrohir and Anomen seized their own pillows. Within minutes, all three elflings had vanished in a cloud of feathers.
The next morning, three elflings trooped into the armory, for Elrond, upon being summoned to their room by an indignant housekeeper, had decreed that the elflings should be at Glorfindel's beck and call for the next fortnight. Apparently, however, the effect of the peppermints had not worn off, for the elflings were so sweet tempered that they smiled unceasingly, until at last Glorfindel could no longer bear their perkiness and ordered them to betake themselves to the practice field.
"I would have had them polish armor all day, but their excessive cheerfulness set my teeth on edge," he complained to Elrond and Gandalf that evening. "Whatever could have put them into such a good mood that they were proof against punishment?"
"When have they not been proof against punishment?" Gandalf asked lightly. "In any event, tomorrow I depart, so Anomen at least may be more attentive to his duties."
Elrond had his doubts, but he kept silent. In fact, though, for several days after Gandalf's departure, the elflings did stay out of mischief. What happened afterward, however, shall have to wait for another story.