Summary: One-shot. Elrond decided that Legolas should be the Elven representative in the Fellowship. Thranduil has his own views about that. Characters: Mainly Thranduil and Elrond, with brief appearances by other Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits.
Author's Note: This fic is probably a little AU-ish, since it's fairly certain that this did not happen... But hopefully that won't spoil the story for anybody, since I've tried to stick to canon as far as dates are concerned and keep it at least remotely plausible.
This is for Silivren Tinu, who helped me find this plot bunny and encouraged me to lure it in. Le hannon, mellon nîn!
Many thanks to my wonderful beta, Calenlass, for advice, suggestions, and patience with questions.
Disclaimer: Of course I'd be thrilled if allowed to persist in the delusion that I own Middle-earth and all the Elves in it.
An Elf-Lord in Peril
Eryn Lasgalen, April 25, Year 3019 of the Third Age
Celeborn glanced at Thranduil, who, now that the immediate urgency of battle had ended, spent most of his time in whispered consultation with trees or staring away towards the south.
"I saw him," the Lord of the Galadhrim offered. "Little more than a year past. He mourned Mithrandir, dead as we then thought, but otherwise he seemed well. Indeed, I believe he and Haldir engaged in several archery contests while he was amongst us." Celeborn quirked an eyebrow. "Many of my kinsmen lost heavily in the wagers that were laid."
"I take it you did not?" Thranduil asked lightly. "Unless your nature has changed enough to allow you to risk your dearest treasures wagering on uncertainties."
Celeborn laughed outright, his kinsman's words reminding him of the long-distant years of his youth in lands now forgotten.
"After what I have seen, I would not call the outcome of such a contest an uncertainty," he commented. "You need not worry about the boy, Thranduil. He is valiant, and his friends are with him. He will not let despair claim him."
"Aye," the Elven-king murmured, his gaze returning to the south. "Aye, I do not doubt that he is. I only wish I could see him, and see this Dwarf you tell me he has befriended." He shook his head. "My son befriending a Dwarf, and the offspring of one of the company of that trespassed in my realm, no less! The infamy! I wish I had sent Legolas off to Valinor years ago ere I had seen this day!"
Celeborn favoured him with a tolerant smile that said he did not believe him in the least.
"Be that as it may, if you wish to see Legolas, the solution is not difficult. Galadriel and I plan to visit Gondor for the wedding of Estel and Arwen. They would both be pleased and honoured if you were present, and Legolas would be overjoyed to see you. I am sure he is just as worried about you as you are about him."
"Worried about me? I did no go running to Mordor in the company of Mithrandir the Mad and a gaggle of inept mortals –"
"Mithrandir the Mad?" Celeborn quavered, barely suppressing his laughter.
"He permitted Legolas to entertain the notion and to follow through on it, did he not? With scores of older, more experienced warriors at his disposal he chose my only child to accompany him on this suicidal quest and then had the gall to abandon him in the depths of Moria!"
"I do not believe that was his intention."
Thranduil dismissed Mithrandir's intentions with an eloquent shrug.
"I confess I would dearly like to travel to Minas Tirith with you, but I cannot in all conscience absent myself from my realm for so long at this time. I shall have to wait to chastise my foolish son until he decides he has gallivanted enough and returns to me. Legolas will simply have to resign himself to representing me at the wedding."
Celeborn paused for a moment's thought.
"It may be some time before you see Legolas," he said at last. "But I can help you relieve your feelings to an extent. I know little of the travel plans of Mithrandir the Mad, but my son-in-law – to refresh your memory, Elrond was the one who was ultimately responsible for choosing the members of the Fellowship – is escorting his daughter to Minas Tirith and they will break their journey at Lórien. Should you choose to pay a state visit to our realm, you would not have to leave yours for long."
Thranduil shot his kinsman a long, speculative look.
"Are all fathers-in-law like this? Lindariel's parents were never particularly concerned about my physical well-being either."
"I want him alive and fit to travel at the end of it," Celeborn stipulated. "And you will not reveal my part in instigating you to my lady wife."
Lothlórien, May 20, Year 3019 of the Third Age
Elrond slid off his horse, allowing himself a relieved sigh before turning to help his daughter dismount. His spirit had been in turmoil for days, rejoicing at Estel's triumph, happy for Arwen's joy, dreading the impending parting and looking forward to the reunion with his beloved Celebrían. But the trees of Lórien were balm even to his troubled spirit.
He nodded politely to the young Elves who came to lead them to the Lord and Lady. When he looked at his daughter again, he saw a small smile on her face.
Arwen, who had glanced up at the treetops just in time to glimpse a golden head being withdrawn swiftly into the branches of an oak, turned her smile on her father.
"I thought I saw something, Ada. It was probably a bird."
Elrond frowned, but he fell silent. For several minutes they followed their escort through the forest, and although the Lord of Imladris was vigilant, he saw no more than a single bright flash that might have been a blossom of elanor. The sight of Arwen's expectant smirk did nothing to allay his trepidation.
At last they came to the great mallorn that held the talan of Celeborn and Galadriel. Elrond stared around the clearing, but saw nobody other than the wardens who customarily waited at the foot of the tree.
"What worries you, Ada?"
"I suspect you know better than I do," Elrond said, not missing the mirth in her tone. "And I suspect I shall find out soon enough. Shall we go pay our respects to your daeradar and daernaneth?"
"They await you, Lord Elrond," one of the wardens said.
Elrond could barely repress his instinct to squirm uncomfortably once he and Arwen were seated with the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood. Visiting Lórien, and especially visiting Celeborn in his talan, always brought back memories of the mingled disbelief, amusement and scarcely-veiled threat that had been in the Sindarin Elf's eyes on the day, so long ago, when Elrond had stood before him and stammered out a request for his daughter's hand in marriage.
"No doubt you are eager to reach Minas Tirith," Celeborn said, smiling at his granddaughter. "We will leave as soon as possible. There is one duty to which you must attend first, Elrond."
"Duty?" Elrond practically yelped, although he had no idea why he was so nervous.
"Indeed. As you are probably aware, Thranduil and I hope that increased travel between Eryn Lasgalen and Lothlórien in these happy days will help us remain in closer contact and know more of each other than has hitherto been possible. An ambassador from Thranduil's realm is with us now. He has expressed an earnest desire for your conversation. I took the liberty of telling him you would meet him."
"Of course," Elrond said, going through a mental tally of all the Elves of Thranduil's realm who had reason to be displeased with him. It was no small number, considering that most of them probably harboured grudges against him for sending their prince away into peril in the hour of their need. "I should be delighted to meet any of Thranduil's messengers, and I trust Thranduil knows that he is assured of the complete support of Imladris in the task of ridding his realm of the taint of Sauron."
"You are delighted?" Galadriel asked. "I wonder if you have thought through the matter fully."
"Since you are so eager, you might as well meet him now. Rúmil, please take Lord Elrond to our guest. You would be well advised to remove yourself from the vicinity once you have directed him appropriately. Elrond, our visitor will be only too pleased to see you at once. Ever since he came here Thranduil has been anticipating the arrival of... of Elrond the Imbecilic, I believe was how he put it."
Amid peals of laughter from Arwen, an indulgent smile from Galadriel and a commiserating grin from Celeborn, Elrond got to his feet and commended his soul to Elbereth.
The clearing appeared to be deserted. Rúmil had taken Celeborn at his word and, after showing Elrond to the small gap in the trees, had departed with all haste.
"Thranduil?" Elrond tried again. Then he jumped as an arrow, fletched in the colours of Mirkwood, sailed a foot above his head to land harmlessly on the ground. He took a few steps forward, as quickly as he could while still maintaining the dignity of an ancient Elf-lord, and craned his neck to see the treetops. "Thranduil, mellon nîn, can we not discuss this like civilized Elves?"
"Hold still, Elrond," a voice floated down from above. "I am not nearly as good a shot as my son. I would not want anything untoward to happen to you before I have the opportunity of acquainting Lady Celebrían with what you have done."
A second arrow whistled past Elrond's ear.
"Don't you think you're overreacting, Thranduil?" he said desperately. "After all, the boy was not hurt. I am told he acquitted himself honourably and brought glory to our race."
"Overreacting?" There was a rustle in the branches overhead, a thump, and Thranduil was standing before him, wearing only the green and brown tunic and leggings of the warriors of Greenwood. Had it not been for the bow he carried, shorter and heavier than the kind Legolas favoured, and the blazing fury in his blue eyes, Elrond might have mistaken him for his son. "I am overreacting?"
Elrond noted with some alarm that Thranduil was also wearing his sword-belt, a pair of wicked-looking hunting knives dangling from it unsheathed.
"Now, Thranduil, listen to me for a moment. I know Legolas is young." Thranduil flung the bow aside, unstrapped the quiver slung on his back, and pulled one of the knives from his belt. "He is young but we all know he is a skilled and deadly archer," the Lord of Imladris went on hurriedly. "I had no qualms about sending him on the quest because I am more aware than any other of his prowess in battle, and I believed that the mortals on this quest would have need of such a warrior to protect them."
"To protect them?" Thranduil growled. Too late, Elrond realized his error. "You sent my son on this ludicrous, dangerous mission in order to protect a Dwarf?"
"No, no, Thranduil," Elrond said, looking around wildly for a place to hide. "You misunderstand. Estel was there to protect the Dwarf. I asked Legolas to go to protect the Hobbits, particularly the Ring-bearer. And the Gondorian. And Estel." Realizing that if it came to a game of hide-and-seek in the forest he would be no match for the King of the Woodland Realm, he tried to sidle around his companion.
"Why Legolas?" Thranduil snarled.
"It was his wish to go. Besides, I thought you would be pleased that he was defending the Ring-bearer, whose companion you named Elf-friend."
"And now they tell me he plans to go exploring Middle-earth with that... that... Dwarf!"
"Thranduil, you know you will have all eternity to spend with your son in the Blessed Realm. Why begrudge him a little adventuring here?"
"Don't change the subject!"
Elrond let out an involuntary gasp as Thranduil's blade missed his nose by a fraction of an inch.
"Thranduil, remember that my wife is your kinswoman. You would not want to deprive her of me so close to our reunion?"
"Did I not tell you I plan to inform her in full of the details of your inadequate chaperoning of my son? You can count your years of bliss with her until I arrive."
"Are you not pleased that your son has won such renown? His praises are sung in Lórien and Rohan, and even, so they tell me, in Gondor. With Estel ruling in Minas Tirith and Éomer, with whom I am told Legolas has struck up a friendship, in Edoras, you will have allies among the realms of Men for as long as you choose to stay in Middle-earth."
"My son," Thranduil snapped, advancing on Elrond with both knives drawn, "is a child, Elrond. With all the remaining Noldorin lords of Middle-earth waiting to do your bidding, what possessed you to –"
"I must disabuse you of your misapprehension," Elrond said, careful to stay out of the reach of the blades. "All the remaining Noldorin lords of Middle-earth are not waiting to do my bidding. In any case, I felt Legolas better-suited to this venture than any of them."
"What! Have you completely lost your mind?"
"Be reasonable, Thranduil! What advantage would Glorfindel have had that Legolas did not, had Sauron or the Witch-King of Angmar chosen to descend on the Fellowship? Legolas has plenty of battle experience, and lore-knowledge would have done no good."
"Ah, I see. Any Elf would have been equally disadvantaged, and so you chose my son."
"Valar, Thranduil, he wanted to go!" Elrond dived out of the way of another thrust in a manner most unseemly for a wise and powerful Noldorin lord. "You know how he is when he wants his way. He came to my study and asked me whether it was his skill I did not trust or his friendship for Estel. And he made those eyes –"
"And you were taken in by that?" Thranduil demanded incredulously. "Have you learnt nothing after raising three children?"
"I never taught my children such underhanded means of bending their elders to their will!"
"That is irrelevant!" Thranduil pivoted to keep the Lord of Imladris in his sight. "You have been Herald to Gil-galad and Master of Imladris and you cannot thwart the wiles of one Elfling?"
"When have you ever looked kindly on those who thwart your son?"
"When they have thwarted his urge to rush into danger!" Thranduil brandished the knives with an air of very real menace. "Elladan wrote, giving me his word that you and he would keep Legolas out of trouble. Out of trouble!"
"You can hardly blame me for Elladan's propensity for making unkeepable promises." Elrond ducked. "Thranduil, I swear to you, your son is unharmed. You have every reason to be proud of him. He is a credit to you and to your realm. I sent him because he is one of the few Elves I know who has never sought power nor desired it."
Thranduil said nothing, but he continued to advance. Elrond backed away until he felt the unyielding trunk of a tree behind him.
"Thranduil, he has been introducing himself all this while as only a member of the Fellowship, at best as an archer of your realm. I had to be certain. When even Mithrandir said he could not touch the Ring for fear of being tempted, when the Ring was being carried by a Halfling who would have been no match for even the most inexperienced of Elven warriors, I had to be certain that the representative of our race would not be tempted to take it."
Thranduil's lips twitched, but he did not smile.
"Our race? You are a Noldo."
Elrond let out a long breath.
"For now I lay claim to the Sindarin part of my lineage and ask you to refrain from spilling the blood of a kinsman."
Thranduil shrugged and tucked his knives into his belt again, but Elrond did not like his contemplative expression.
"So be it, then. I shall save my grievances against you to tell Celebrían when next I see her." About to go, he turned with a smile that Elrond had seen all too often on Legolas' face and learnt to dread. "Rest assured, I shall also be telling her the precise number of days Legolas had to spend away from his Ada and in daily peril of his life on account of your ineptitude."
"Thranduil!" Elrond protested, his voice almost a wail.
Minas Tirith, Mid-Year's Day, Year 3019 of the Third Age
"Are all Elvish weddings like that?" Pippin asked curiously as the Hobbits, Gimli and Legolas made their way up to their quarters.
"To an extent," Legolas responded with a smile. "Although some of the rites we saw were those of the Dúnedain, not those of the Elves." He reached up to adjust his hood, still uncertain whether the Men would welcome an Elf in their midst, although they all knew what he was now. "Did you enjoy it, Master Peregrin?"
"It was beautiful. I only wish Lord Elrond had not looked so sad at the end."
Three voices gave vent to loud, horrified whispers of, "Pippin!" as the young Hobbit's companions variously elbowed him and trod on his foot, while casting apologetic glances in the direction of the Elf. Legolas smiled.
"There is no need to torment him so. I am not offended. Lord Elrond was grieved, Master Peregrin, because he will soon sail for the Blessed Realm and he will then see his daughter no more."
That occasioned a sudden hush, broken at last by Gimli's gruff voice.
"And now I suppose you'll be eager to rush off to your ships and the other side of the Sundering Sea as well, Elf?"
Legolas was not in the least deceived by the studied indifference in his friend's tone.
"Indeed, no, Master Dwarf. I have heard the call of the Sea, but Aragorn has my word that I will wait out the years of his life in Middle-earth. You will all be able to enjoy my company for some time, I hope; but in the end I must sail to the Undying Lands, as must all my people, now that our time here has ended."
"It will be a darker world without the fair folk," Pippin said in a small voice.
"Perhaps not that dark if there are some little folk to cheer it." Legolas patted the Hobbit's shoulder. "Come, my friend, this is no time for despondency. The Elves have little time left here as my people reckon things, but it will still be long years before my kind are no longer seen this side of the Sea."
By this time they had reached the corridor along which the Fellowship had their apartments. Legolas opened the first door to the left, stepping back to allow the Hobbits to stream in ahead of him.
When they stopped short with gasps of shock and surprise, he followed, drawing a knife as he did.
"Sîdh, Thranduilion," a voice said. "I have already been attacked by one member of the ruling line of Eryn Lasgalen this year. I have no desire to increase the tally."
"Lord Elrond!" Legolas slid his knife back into its sheath and stepped forward eagerly. "You saw Ada? How is he?"
"He is very well, penneth," the Elf-lord said. He glanced at the others before adding in Quenya, "He is so energetic, in fact, that he nearly managed to decapitate me before I could persuade him that I had not been bribed by his enemies to send you on the quest."
Legolas heard a soft chuckle behind him, and turned to see Elladan and Elrohir in the doorway.
"You I will send to Thranduil to explain yourselves," the Elf-lord growled. "So you need not be so amused, my foolish sons. But that I can accomplish once everything has calmed down. You, on the other hand, Legolas, are returning home to your father this very day!"
"But my lord –"
"No buts!" Elrond snapped. "If I had not been quick on my feet your father would have had my ears! You will get on a horse today; whether you do so willingly or unwillingly is your choice."
Legolas felt a tug on his elbow. "I think we should go," Elrohir hissed in his ear. "Give Ada time to calm down."
In less than a second the three ellyn had vanished, leaving behind four astonished Hobbits, an amused Dwarf, and one very angry Elf-lord.
Man sa? - What is it?
Ada – Dad/Daddy
Daeradar – Grandfather
Daernaneth – Grandmother
Sîdh – Peace
Penneth – Young one
Ellyn – Male Elves
What did you think? Good? Bad? Terrible? Please review!