Summary: When Elflings do not do as they are told, trouble can ensue... Fortunately the sons of Elrond are always there to come to the rescue.
This story was written (a while ago) as a present for Nina, who wanted a disobedient young Thranduilion, a waterfall, Elven rope and an angry Glorfindel. With one thing and another I hadn't got to posting it... I hope it meets the requirements!
Many thanks to my wonderful beta, Calenlass, for comments, suggestions, and patience with questions.
Disclaimer: I am only borrowing the Elves, to be returned intact at the end of the story.
Imladris, 14 June
"Missing?" Elladan hissed. "What do you mean?"
"Precisely that," Arwen said. "He is not in his room, the kitchens, the Hall of Fire or the stable." She shook her head. "You do realize this is all your fault?"
"Our fault!" Elrohir said in outrage.
"Be quiet, you idiot! Someone will hear you. Yes, it is your fault. You're the ones who keep telling him stories about clever little Elflings who satisfied their curiosity against the express wishes of more sensible Elves –"
"One story. It was one story."
"Apparently it was enough. He's gone... With our luck he's probably gone to the Hithaeglir to find out what is beneath the mountains." Elrohir blanched. "I'm joking," Arwen said quickly. "Nobody told him the old stories about the Hithaeglir, did they?"
"Maybe we should find Glorfindel."
Imladris, 9 June
"Where are the waterfalls?"
Glorfindel released the arrow before he answered Legolas' question, smiling with satisfaction when it landed in the centre of the target.
"Well, tithen pen, there is one waterfall not far from the orchard Arwen showed you last week. Perhaps if Elladan and Elrohir stay out of trouble for the next few days, Lady Celebrían will trust them enough to let them take you there." He selected another arrow, drew and released in a smooth motion, and turned back to Legolas. "And if she does not want you to go alone, I will come with you."
"Really, Lord Glorfindel?"
"Really, Elfling," Glorfindel confirmed, laughing at Legolas' eagerness as he unstrung his bow. Legolas scampered off to fetch the spent arrows. "Be careful, tithen pen," the Elf-lord called. "Do not run with them. The points are sharp, and Thranduil will send me back to Mandos if you hurt yourself." When Legolas returned with the arrows, Glorfindel asked, "Who told you about the waterfalls?"
"Ro. He said there are many and they are beautiful."
"So they are." Glorfindel slid his bow into its sheath and his arrows into their quiver before turning serious eyes on the young Elf. "Did he also tell you that you must not try to find them by yourself?"
"Yes..." Legolas mumbled in a tone that conveyed how ridiculous he considered that injunction. "But I will be safe, Lord Glorfindel. I know all the trees here and I will not get lost."
"You do know all the trees," Glorfindel agreed. "And they will certainly warn you of danger and guide you back to us if you lose your way. But the falls are no place for an Elfling. The rocks are wet and slippery, and you could easily hurt yourself. Your Ada and Nana have shown great trust by sending you to us for the summer, and we must do all we can to thank them for their trust by taking good care of you."
Imladris, 14 June
Glorfindel stared from Elladan to Elrohir to Arwen.
"How can he be missing?" he managed to say at last. "One of you always knows where he is. You let us wear ourselves out searching for him, and when we are about to give up in despair and Elrond is halfway through writing to Thranduil you produce him and pretend you just found him!"
"We cannot find him, my lord," Arwen said miserably. "I have looked everywhere."
The Elf-lord sighed and looked out the window, wondering if Legolas was going to take after his father in finding trouble as much as he took after him in looks. He certainly hoped not.
"If you are certain he is not anywhere in the grounds, then it stands to reason that he is outside them. Have you any idea where he might have gone?" Elladan took to studying the toes of his boots and Elrohir suddenly seemed to find the tapestry on the wall behind Glorfindel extremely fascinating.
"All right, what absurd story did you tell him this time?"
"Well, my lord, that is the point," Elladan said, still not meeting Glorfindel's eyes. "We told him many stories. Of course we told him that not even grown-up Elves explore the mountains and –"
"We were telling him about how the Hithaeglir rose from the earth at the command of... Well... You know the story, my lord."
"Please tell me there is another possibility."
"We told him about many things, my lord... The Bruinen, the villages of Men in Eriador, the forest of Iarwain Ben-Adar, the waterfalls –"
"The waterfalls!" Glorfindel gasped, remembering his conversation with the young Elf. "Of course! He was asking me about them – but I persuaded him to wait until we could take him to see them. At least, I thought I did, and he seemed agreeable enough at the time. But that was four days ago..."
"And the Elfling is not known for patience," Elrohir supplied.
Almost before he finished the sentence all four Elves were out of the room, Arwen hurrying to her father's study and Glorfindel and the twins making for the stables at a headlong run.
Imladris, 13 June
It was nearly midnight when a tiny jerk signalled Legolas' transition from Elven dreams to full awareness. He blinked as his eyes focused, glancing around in bewilderment before remembering where he was.
The screeching call of an owl startled him. He sat bolt upright, but before he could do more than clutch at his blankets the bird lowered itself onto his balcony railing, perching itself there comfortably and turning gleaming golden eyes on the small Elf.
For a moment, Legolas stared at the creature in apprehension, but then his curiosity overcame his fear and he slipped out of bed and went to the balcony.
"Mae govannen," he said softly, holding out a hand to the bird. It hooted and hopped closer. "Have you been hunting?" It cocked its head, hooting again. "Can you understand me? I can talk to trees, but not to birds yet. Nana says it will take time, but I will learn."
He says he can understand you.
Legolas giggled as the tall oak tree whose branches overhung his balcony brushed his thoughts with its own.
"What does he want?"
He saw you and he was curious. But he's satisfied his curiosity now, I hope. Shall I tell him to go?
"Go? No! I want him to stay!"
The more you keep your distance from winged beasts, the better it will be for you, Elfling. Flighty creatures, the lot of them, always rushing about as though the Tree-Slayer were chasing them. They only lead to trouble.
"Trouble? But Glorfindel said birds are our friends and –"
What does a Noldo know about it? This one is just trying to get you into trouble –
"But what does he want?"
He wants you to see some waterfall not far from here. Apparently, it looks especially beautiful tonight because of the full moon –
"He will take me to the waterfall?"
He will do no such thing because I will not allow it. I have heard of these waterfalls. Apparently, even grown Elves can be swept away. Eärendilion would be horrified at the thought of you going there by yourself in the middle of the night... What do you mean he will not be by himself, you half-witted woodpecker? You are hardly fit escort!
"But I will not be alone! All the other trees will be there."
Legolas reached up to climb into the oak, whose branches swayed upward just out of his reach.
Oh, no. You are not going anywhere. Go back to bed at once, Elfling!
The owl hooted and gave Legolas' hand a friendly nip before fluffing its plumage enticingly.
"Well..." Legolas said, chewing on his under-lip, "I suppose I could climb down to that ledge and from there it is not a long drop to the ground..."
What! I never heard anything so absurd! Didn't Elrondion and the Balrog-slayer both tell you not to go by yourself?
"They will understand. Ro always says curiosity is a good thing."
You cannot do this! You will fall into that terrible river – I don't need to see it, woodpecker! I know it must be terrible! Elfling, you go straight back to bed. Nothing good ever came from listening to the advice of the winged ones. You – no, wait, stop! Don't try that; you'll fall. I will help you down.
"Le hannon, mellon nîn," Legolas whispered as he jumped up into the oak's branches.
Just remember that I tried to talk you out of this.
Imladris, 14 June
Arwen found her father in his study, engaged in a game of chess with Erestor while Celebrían was sitting by the window buried in a letter. All three of them looked up at her entry, making her blush uncomfortably despite her clear conscience.
"What is it, iell nîn?" Celebrían asked.
"We... I... that is... Legolas is missing." Arwen paused while the older Elves gave vent to various exclamations of annoyance before adding, "And he may have gone into the forest. Glorfindel, Elladan and Elrohir have gone to look for him."
"I hope they find him," Elrond said grimly. "Lindariel warned me the child was a handful, but I never expected him to be so adept at coming up with new mischief everyday."
"You will not very angry with him, will you, Ada?" Arwen asked anxiously. "Elladan and Elrohir have been telling him stories about the world beyond at what is in it and of course we all told him not to try to sneak off by himself but I expect he was just curious. It is really not his fault."
"Not his fault, penneth?" Erestor said dryly. "I would dearly love to hear you try to justify that."
"Well, I suppose she has a point," Elrond commented. "Legolas would not be nearly as much trouble as he is if everyone else –" His accusing gaze swept over his wife, his daughter and his chief advisor, "– did not conspire to help him escape the consequences of his mischief."
"You are a fine one to talk, meleth nîn," Celebrían said with a small smile. "I was there when you attempted to lecture Legolas after he got lost in the archives room. As I recollect, you said, 'That was very naughty indeed, Legolas. You must never go to the archives room alone.' Then you spent the next twenty-five minutes telling him a story to cheer him up."
"That was a different situation entirely," Elrond said in a dignified tone, ignoring the peals of laughter that came from the two ellith.
Imladris, 14 June
Between Midnight and Dawn
Legolas emerged from a thicket, stopped short and stared in wonder. The waterfall was before him, breathtakingly beautiful in the moonlight.
The owl, which had guided him this far, hooted softly and landed on his shoulder. He reached up to stroke its back.
"Le hannon, mellon nîn."
The bird is happy to have given you pleasure, a nearby beech said. Now go home!
"But I have just arrived!"
All the more reason to leave at once. You may be able to get back before anybody realizes that you are missing. Think of all the lectures you will avoid.
"If I am in trouble already," Legolas reasoned, "then I may as well get a closer look before I return." The owl hooted in alarm, digging its claws into the Elfling's shoulder and clicking its beak in disapproval. Legolas chuckled softly and patted its head. "Do not worry. I will be fine."
You see what you have done, woodpecker? One of the trees demanded furiously. This was why you were told not to lure the child away from his home. Do you know nothing of Elves? And you brought him here against the Balrog-slayer's express wishes! Have you no sense of self-preservation at all?
Foolish bird, another one put in. Now why are you sitting there being useless? You brought him all this way; now take him back... What do you mean he won't heed you? You persuaded him to come here in the middle of the night, didn't you? Persuade him to go back... I don't know how! Think of something! Idiot bird.
"I can hear you, you know," Legolas said, giggling.
You can hear the woodpecker?
"Not the woodpecker – the owl, that is – sorry, mellon nîn! - but I can hear you. I am not going to get in any trouble. I will just take a closer look at the waterfall and then go home."
It is too dangerous, Elfling.
"I will be fine."
That is what the Elrondionnath always say.
Imladris, 14 June
Elrohir's heart was thumping wildly as he and Elladan, just a few paces behind Glorfindel, urged their horses towards the forest. The woods around Imladris were usually safe, but Legolas was young enough to get quite badly hurt if he tried to explore one of the waterfalls on his own.
"I cannot believe he did that," Elladan grunted.
Elrohir shrugged, far more casually than he felt. "You know Legolas. I suppose his curiosity finally overcame him. I am surprised he held out this long, to tell you the truth."
Glorfindel drew rein with a suddenness that startled Elrohir nearly out of his saddle and whipped around furiously.
"Curiosity? Curiosity? He ran away in the middle of the night, no doubt on the advice of that oak tree by his balcony, a Balrog take it! He has gone to a waterfall that he was specifically forbidden to visit alone, and you make excuses for him, Elrondion?"
"Excuses?" Elrohir yelped. "Absolutely not. It was reprehensible and unworthy of Legolas and if you choose to punish him by confining him to his room for the rest of the Age I shall have no objections whatsoever."
"Anyway," interjected Elladan, who in the meantime had hastily consulted the nearest tree, "it appears he was not entirely alone."
"Who was with him?"
"You will not like this."
"Who was with him?"
"It was an – Are you sure about this? Well, there is no need to react like that; I was only asking – It was apparently an owl, Lord Glorfindel."
"An owl," Glorfindel repeated flatly before turning his horse and setting off at a dead gallop.
"I must say, muindor nîn," Elrohir gasped as they followed, "I do not envy the Elfling."
Imladris, 14 June
Between Midnight and Dawn
"I am being careful," Legolas grunted, clambering over a projecting rock. He sat on it and looked up. He still had several slippery feet to go to reach the top of the waterfall, and the sound of the rushing water was distracting. But the owl had said the best view was to be had from above, and he was determined to climb up before the moon set.
What do you mean you are being careful? Wait! Stop! Don't try to go up any farther! Stop him, woodpecker!
Legolas ignored the tree, scrambling up another outcropping with a lack of care that would have horrified any adult Elf who had seen him. The owl swooped around his head encouragingly.
When he was over it, he paused again. He eyed the rest of the climb with some apprehension; there were fewer footholds and it looked much more difficult near the top. The rock wall also narrowed, so that he would be very, very close to the falling water if he tried to scale it.
Don't do it. What would your friends say? You know they will not approve.
"They will not mind."
Do you believe that?
"If they do not know they will not mind, and if you do not tell them they will not know. Are you my friends or not?"
Legolas drew in a deep breath, squared his shoulders and began the climb.
A few feet up his hand slipped. The owl hooted a warning, although not loudly enough to drown out the anxious cries of the trees. Legolas gritted his teeth and managed to get his fingers into a crack.
The rock was smoother here, and he had to climb slowly. The owl had flown up to the top and was perched on the edge, looking down at him with its huge yellow eyes gleaming in the moonlight. Legolas grinned at it as he pushed himself up and grabbed a small protrusion in the wall.
Without warning, the stone snapped.
Legolas yelped in shock, reaching wildly for another handhold just as his other hand slipped and he fell. There was a jarring pain in his right arm, confused shouting from the trees, and then darkness.
Imladris, 14 June
Glorfindel's expression had grown steadily darker as he rode. His eyes were glimmering with a light that boded no good for the Elfling when he was finally found.
Elladan and Elrohir, by common consent, were riding behind the Balrog-slayer as quietly as they could. They had been moving quickly, not even stopping to consult the trees now that they were certain of Legolas' destination. Even so, the going was slower than any of them would have liked. They would have taken to the trees had it not been for the assortment of ropes, herbs and healing equipment that Glorfindel had had the presence of mind to gather before they left.
"Is something wrong with the trees?" Elladan said suddenly. "They seem ill at ease."
Asfaloth stopped short as Glorfindel stiffened.
"If something has happened to the Elfling," he growled, wheeling his horse around to face them, "the two of you can go explain to Thranduil."
"How is this our fault?"
"You told him about the waterfalls!"
Elrohir scowled, but said nothing. Elladan dismounted and laid his hands flat on the trunk of an old beech tree that overhung the trail.
What is wrong? We sensed your discomfort. The tree seemed to hesitate. Tell me, mellon nîn, Elladan urged. Has something happened to Legolas? Has he injured himself or –
You will not be too harsh on the Elfling? The tree asked anxiously.
With difficulty, Elladan refrained from rolling his eyes. In all fairness, the blame did not lie entirely at Legolas' door. A large part of it belonged to the Elves who found themselves unable to utter the word 'No' when faced with the Elfling's big blue eyes, and an equal proportion to the trees that were his eternal abettors.
We will ensure that he understands the need to obey, but you have my word that we will not put him in chains. What has he done to himself now?
He tried to climb up to the top of the falls and he fell. It was not his fault. The stone broke. Stone is always unfaithful. If one of us had been there, now, we would never have let the Elfling fall. He is injured; the bird says he is badly injured. He slipped down the inner side of the rock so none of us can see him. If you ask me, it is all the bird's fault. It led him into disobedience.
Surely your friends by the waterfall told Legolas not to climb?
They did, the tree said, coming as close to mumbling as a tree could. They did, but he was deceived by the bird. It egged him on. It was truly not his fault. You will not be angry with him? I would not be the one to earn the Elfling a punishment. It really was only curiosity.
Elladan sighed and turned to Glorfindel.
"Apparently he is injured, and the beech assures me that the blame lies with the owl that led Legolas here and the unfaithful stone that broke under his hands."
"Half-witted trees," the Balrog-slayer muttered, spurring Asfaloth to a canter.
Imladris, 14 June
Between Midnight and Dawn
The first thing Legolas heard when he woke was a blood-curdling shriek. He squealed in shock and tried to back away from the source of the sound, only to discover that he was sprawled against a rock wall and there were shooting pains running through his right arm.
He blinked. The sky was still dark, although it was now the greyish colour that presaged the arrival of dawn. The shriek sounded again, closer this time, and a shadow settled itself on his knee.
"That was you?" Legolas asked.
The owl hooted, its head on one side. Not for the first time, the young Elf wished he had learnt to understand birds. He reached out with his left hand to stroke its head.
He looked around, trying to figure out where he was. There were no trees, only wet stone. The thundering water was mere feet away from him; his hair was already damp from the spray. He seemed to be on a narrow ledge on the inner side of the rock wall, a few yards above the ground.
Ignoring the owl's disapproving hoot, Legolas sidled to the edge of the outcropping and looked down. Several feet below, the water churned furiously as it met the ground.
He slid away from the edge and glanced up. The rock was slick. He could not possibly climb up with an injured arm.
"I will have to wait for someone to come and find me," he murmured to the owl with a sigh. "And my arm hurts." At the bird's questioning expression, he added, "Dan and Ro will come. They always come."
The owl hooted.
"To help?" Legolas hazarded. "I suppose you could go tell the trees what has happened. I cannot speak to them from here. And tell them to tell Dan and Ro where I am when they come."
The owl nipped the tip of the Elfling's ear affectionately before flying off. With a soft sigh, Legolas settled back against the wall.
Imladris, 14 June
"Where is he?" Elrohir panted, reining in his horse and leaping off. He stared around for a moment and then looked up at the trees around the clearing. "Where is he?"
On the inner side of the right wall of the cascade, the woodpecker says. We cannot see him.
With Elladan and Glorfindel close behind him, Elrohir got as close to the waterfall as he could and peered up the rock wall on its right. He could make out the glint of golden hair on an outcropping that was just too high to jump to and just too close to the falling water to climb to.
"How did he manage to get himself stuck there?" Elladan shouted over the roar of falling water. "And more to the point, how do we get him down?"
"I suppose we could climb up to it," Elrohir bellowed.
"No!" Glorfindel inserted firmly. "Nobody is even attempting that climb. We will get up to the top and then we will lower one of you down."
"Do you suppose he is hurt?" Elladan asked.
Elrohir, unable to see anything other than the few locks of hair hanging over the edge of the outcropping, shook his head helplessly. "He must be. He does not appear to be moving. We have to get up. Legolas, can you hear me? Legolas!"
"There is no point," Glorfindel pointed out. "He will not hear you over the noise from the falls. We have to climb. It would take far too long to go around the long way."
With minimum fuss, the three Elves began the climb. Since they were all fully-grown ellyn, what had seemed a near-insurmountable rock wall to Legolas was ten minutes' work to them. In a very short time, the Elves, the rope and the medical supplies were at the head of the cascade.
"I will go down," Elrohir volunteered. Glorfindel nodded acquiescence, helping the younger Elf tie a length of rope around his waist and chest as a harness.
Just before lowering him, though, the Balrog-slayer fixed him with a look that, in days long past, had stricken terror into the foes of Gondolin. "Check him for injury," he said, "and tell us if it is safe to move him. If not, we will lower the healing supplies to you. If you can move him, bring him straight up. Do not coddle him or tell him that this is not his fault. Most of the blame for this escapade lies with the two of you!"
"Only Ro," Elladan protested. "He is the soft-hearted one."
Sparing a glare for his brother and a nod for the Elf-lord, Elrohir descended. Had the situation not been so serious he would have enjoyed the experience; the spray from the waterfall was wonderfully refreshing after a hard ride and a rapid climb, and with Glorfindel holding the other end of the rope there was no danger that he would fall.
As his feet hit the ledge, an owl swooped in front of him, hooting anxiously.
"Oh, so you are the one responsible for all this," Elrohir muttered. "Believe me, I will have a thing or two to say to you when this is done." He dropped to his knees, studying Legolas anxiously. The Elfling was slumped over one of the stones near the edge, his eyes closed. His chest was rising and falling rapidly.
Gently, Elrohir turned him over and laid his hand on the pale cheek.
Imladris, 14 June
Legolas was not certain when the glitter of starlight on the water had blurred into darkness. As far as he knew, one moment he was huddled against the stone cradling his injured arm and trying not to let any tears escape, and the next there was a hand supporting his head and someone was talking to him.
He tried to open his eyes, but they were too heavy. He opened his mouth to ask who it was but only a whimper came out. At once someone was smoothing down his hair and murmuring words of reassurance.
With an effort, Legolas opened his eyes.
Imladris, 14 June
Conscious of Glorfindel several yards above them, watching and probably listening, Elrohir kept his voice firm.
"Yes, Legolas. I am here. Are you injured?"
"My arm hurts," the Elfling mumbled.
Carefully, Elrohir examined Legolas' arm. The Elfling could not hold back a whimper when his companion touched it, prompting the older Elf's brows to draw together in a frown of concern.
"I think it is broken, tithen pen. Are you hurt anywhere else?"
Legolas shook his head, but the blue eyes that met Elrohir's were filled with apprehension.
"Will I still be able to learn archery?"
The young Elf hesitated for only a moment before taking Legolas' good arm and drawing him close, telling himself that not even Glorfindel could have heard that forlorn voice and remained unmoved.
"Of course you will, Elfling. Ada will heal your arm. Do not worry."
Holding Legolas carefully, Elrohir got to his feet and peered down. Around two feet of stone separated the base of the wall from the water; although it was damp, it was level and rough enough to ensure that he would not slip.
"Lord Glorfindel," he called, glad that the haze of the spray prevented him from seeing the Balrog-slayer's undoubtedly thunderous expression, "It might be easier for you to lower us the rest of the way down than to pull us back up. The ledge at the bottom is wide enough for me to walk on. It will probably jolt Legolas less that way."
Imladris, 14 June
Several minutes later, Glorfindel and Elladan scrambled down the last few feet to the ground. They turned at once to Elrohir and Legolas. Elladan could sense his companion's growing displeasure; for himself, he could barely contain his mirth at the sight of Legolas, curled up quite comfortably on Elrohir's lap, shrinking timidly against his shoulder at the sight of Glorfindel's face. Elrohir, with a sheepish and slightly apologetic glance in their direction, slipped a comforting arm around the little Elf.
"Is he hurt?" Elladan asked.
"He's broken his arm. We will have to set it as well as we can, but I think Ada should look at it when we go back. After all, we do not want our little archer to have any problems with his shooting arm, do we?"
Glorfindel met Elrohir's eye squarely. The younger Elf flushed scarlet and busied himself smoothing down Legolas' hair.
Between them, Elladan and Elrohir managed to splint Legolas arm without causing him too much discomfort. Glorfindel stood watching and saying nothing, although his expression spoke volumes. Neither twin dared to make a sound. As Elladan finished tying off the last of the strips of cloth that would hold the splint in place, Glorfindel said curtly, "Tolo."
Elladan got to his feet and was about to put Legolas on his horse when Glorfindel cut in.
"He can ride with me."
Even Legolas, who had learnt very early on that wide-eyed innocence and a voice with just the right amount of quaver would persuade the adult Elves around him to give him practically anything he wanted, did not say a word as he was lifted onto Asfaloth.
Imladris, 14 June
Still in the grim silence in which they had ridden all morning, Elrohir dismounted and turned to Asfaloth. He managed to keep his expression stern as he lifted Legolas down, careful not to jostle the Elfling's injured arm, but when Legolas raised tearful blue eyes to his the older Elf abandoned all attempts at firmness and held him close, murmuring, "It will be all right, tithen pen. Ada will heal your arm, and next time you will heed Glorfindel, won't you?"
"Yes," Legolas mumbled, snuggling against Elrohir's shoulder.
"Honestly," Elladan hissed as he dismounted, "You are hopeless, Ro! Is it that difficult to stay firm for five minutes? Legolas, that was a very foolish and naughty thing to do –"
He stopped short when Legolas flinched and sniffled.
"But I think you have learnt your lesson," Elladan went on hastily. "So we will say no more about it, Elfling." Ignoring Elrohir's smirk, he tickled Legolas' ribs lightly, eliciting a soft giggle. "Why don't you come with me?" he went on, lifting the Elfling from his brother's arms carefully. "Have I not told you I am much better company than Elrohir?"
The twins made their way up to the house with their young charge, leaving Glorfindel to watch their retreating backs with a mixture of amusement and exasperation.
Imladris, 14 June
The first Elf they encountered in the Last Homely House was Erestor. Elrond's chief advisor fell on the Elfling in Elladan's arms with a glad cry, prompting Elrohir to whisper to his brother that Erestor had certainly never been that happy about seeing them. Elladan, with a soft laugh, whispered back, "The Elfling is welcome to it. I think Glorfindel will be expressing his displeasure before the day is out."
Elrohir grimaced, but as they made their way up to the Healing Wards he had to admit that his twin was right.
Elrond, Celebrían and Arwen were waiting; as soon as the twins appeared Elrond seized Legolas and placed him on the nearest bed, his expert eye taking everything in at a glance.
"Has he hurt anything other than his arm?"
"No, Ada," Elladan responded. "We were afraid he might have hit his head, but he seems well. It is only the arm."
Elrond began unwrapping the bandages carefully, sparing a word of praise for his sons' work with the splint. The young Elves flushed, but they were too concerned about Legolas to feel much pleasure.
"Will he be all right?"
"He will be fine," Elrond said with a reassuring smile at his sons. "Legolas, you must listen to me and do exactly as I tell you if you want your arm to heal properly so that you can learn to be a better archer than Glorfindel."
A short laugh told him that the Balrog-slayer had just entered the room.
"I am hardly the most skillful of archers, Elrond. You would do better by telling him he could learn to be a better archer than Beleg."
"For one thing," Elrond said, looking at the Elf-lord reprovingly, "I am hoping that Legolas will have a happier life than Beleg. For another, Cúthalion may have been the best archer of Thingol's realm, but Legolas did not know him. He knows you."
"Anyway," Celebrían said, holding Legolas steady while her husband splinted the Elfling's arm, "that is not the point. The point, tithen pen, is that if you want to be an archer and help protect your father's realm, then you will have to learn to listen to the healers. They are very important, for they are the ones who will help you when you have been injured in battle. If you do not do exactly as they tell you, you may find that it takes far longer for your injuries to heal completely. You cannot help your Ada very much then, can you?"
"There," Elrond murmured, putting Legolas' arm in a sling. "Finished. Legolas, listen to me. You must not take off the sling until your arm has healed. Your arm has healed when I tell you it has healed, not when you think it feels better."
"Yes, Lord Elrond," Legolas said dolefully.
Elrond laughed. "Good. Then go to your room now. You must be tired. Elladan and Elrohir will get you something to eat, and after that you must sleep."
"Before he goes to his room, Elrond," Glorfindel said firmly, "I wish to have a word with Legolas."
The other Elves exchanged glances. Without a word, Elrond gathered his healing supplies and left the room, closely followed by Celebrían, Arwen and the twins. Erestor, however, merely leaned against the door frame, crossed his arms, and eyed Glorfindel with amusement.
Imladris, 14 June
"Legolas?" The Elfling looked up at Glorfindel, his blue eyes beseeching. "That will not work this time, Legolas," the Elf-lord said in a tone that made Erestor roll his eyes. "You know you have been very naughty."
"I did not know I would fall."
"But we told you it was dangerous to go to the waterfall alone."
"I was not alone. The owl was with me." Legolas cast a sidelong glance at the window, his sudden smile attesting to the presence of the offending bird outside it, although what it was doing there instead of finding a place to sleep Glorfindel could not imagine.
"Legolas, did you honestly imagine an owl was fit escort?"
"There were the trees," Legolas said defensively.
The Elfling sighed. "No, Lord Glorfindel."
"Legolas, you are very young, and there are many things you do not know. When you are older, and have seen more of the world, you will be able to make your own decisions about what is dangerous and what is safe. For now, you must listen to us."
"Legolas, Elrohir told you not to try to find the waterfalls by yourself, did he not?"
"Yes, Lord Glorfindel."
"Then, from the fact that you disregarded his advice, and mine, and went off in the middle of the night without telling anyone, are we to understand that you do not trust us?"
"No, Lord Glorfindel."
"Legolas, you must believe that we all care for you. If we tell you to do or not to do something we have a reason for it. You must have enough faith in us to do as we say."
"What if I do not agree with what you say?"
Erestor hastily stifled a snicker. Glorfindel, after a moment's thought, said, "If you do not agree, then you must tell us so. We will never refuse to explain why we tell you what we do." He paused. "Legolas, do you know how unhappy everyone would have been if something worse than a broken arm had happened to you?" The Elfling squirmed uncomfortably. "You know the twins and Arwen think of you as a brother. And what of your Ada and Nana?"
"Ada and Nana need not know," Legolas said hopefully.
Glorfindel bit his lip just in time.
"Well, we will discuss that. But if your injury had been more serious, Lord Elrond would have had to inform them of it. They placed a great deal of trust in him by sending you here for the summer. Your Ada would be very angry with Lord Elrond if you were not returned to him in one piece."
"Ada would be angry?"
This time Glorfindel did laugh.
"He is not as indulgent with everyone as he is with you, Elfling... Which is half the problem, really. But, yes, your Ada would be furious." Legolas frowned in thought. "So we understand each other, I take it. Inquisitiveness in an Elfling is good, but not disobedience."
"Yes, Lord Glorfindel," Legolas replied, with such a woebegone expression that Glorfindel, finally relenting, scooped him up and ruffled his hair, ignoring Erestor's knowing smirk.
"Good. Come along, then... We can wait for Elladan and Elrohir in your room."
Tithen pen – Little one
Ada – Dad/Daddy
Nana – Mum/Mummy
Mae govannen – Well met
Le hannon, mellon nîn. – Thank you, my friend.
Iell nîn – My daughter
Penneth – Young one
Meleth nîn – My love
Elleth – Female Elf
Ellon – Male Elf
Tolo – Come
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