Twiglet's Tribulation

By Evendim

This is a not for profit work of fan fiction based upon the works of Professor J.R.R. Tolkien.

Brethilas, Thalion, Pharin, Culurien and Emmelin are my own characters.


For Nantucket Briar

His world was perfect in every way, this tiny son of Thranduil. He woke to the sound of singing, pouring forth from the fairest elleth in the entire Greenwood, his beloved naneth, Thranduil's queen, Pharin. His name was Legolas, 'green leaf', but he had been fondly dubbed 'Twiglet' by the king, who had labelled his youngest son: 'The smallest branch on the Greenwood family tree…twiglet.'

Twiglet's days were filled with love and devotion by the beauteous Pharin. She would not permit the servants to attend this precious little elfling. Five fair sons she had borne for the Greenwood, but this her youngest son, her darling green leaf, this one was hers to rear, for the succession was secured four times over, and the yawning age gap between this little one and his four elder brothers made it possible for Thranduil to indulge Pharin's maternal instincts. Time was their ally, hers and Twiglet both. Or so Pharin thought.

The day had dawned much as any other day. Beyond the caverns of the subterranean palace the early morning mist draped, veil-like, over the land. The woodland creatures scurried to and fro, fetching food for hungry offspring, as did Queen Pharin, for Legolas had a grumpy expression upon his fair little face, a sign that he was feeling hollow, and expected to be fed. Her majesty was not reduced to foraging though; she simply took her place at her husband's table and settled their little son by her side, preparing to break their fast in the vast dining chamber, in company with the entire court.

"Yonder," said a blond elf of many years standing, for the elves displayed their longevity in the wisdom couched behind their eyes, "is one ravening little squab!"

"Hush, for your voice carries, Thalion," replied Brethilas "like the tread of a troll within an empty cave!"

Thalion, one time principal healer of the Greenwood, now numbered in the army of the king as his breakfast companion's Adjutant, sniffed expressively and replied:

"One speaks as one finds, and that diminutive elfling could eat both of us under the table."

"Do I scent a wager upon the wind?" Brigade Commander Brethilas, younger of the two ellyn, but senior in rank none the less, asked.

"Likely the squab has just expelled…wager, eh?" Brethilas saw a crafty look steal into Thalion's opportunistic mind, and knew the bait had been taken; hook, line, and sinker.

"If you should be proved correct, I shall polish your entire collection of Noldorin daggers," Brethilas vowed.

"That is no mean feat, and I freely admit I personally detest the chore. In the unlikely event of my defeat, what forfeit must I make?" Thalion was merely jumping the requisite hoops. Mentally he was already passing the odious metal polish to the innocent by his side.

"You shall clean my tack until I may view my fair visage reflected in the mithril chasing," said Brethilas as he casually inspected a hang nail.

"I loathe cleaning tack even more than I loathe buffing my daggers, however, I accept your challenge, for I never have seen that squab so hungry of a morn," Thalion chuckled.

"Your word is your bond, o ancient one," said Brethilas.

"What do you know that I do not?" Thalion asked of a sudden, his brow almost creasing as he swivelled his blue eyes hither and thither, seeking some departure from the normal household routine.

"What a suspicious old war horse you are mellon nin," Brethilas chuckled.

Meanwhile, at the king's own board, Queen Pharin was nervously twisting her napkin as the butler, Galion, personally supervised the serving of the ruling family's break of fast. Today was the day that saw the withdrawal of the elfling's customary bread and milk. How would Legolas take to regular oatmeal? Even laced with honey…? Pharin rubbed her temples in anticipation of a squall! Thranduil, knowing every nuance of his beloved queen, placed his be-ringed hand upon Pharin's own cool one and asked:

"What ails thee, sweeting?"

"Legolas…he expects…well, not oatmeal, I fear a tantrum hervyn," said Pharin.

"Do you recall Aranhil's first introduction to oatmeal?" Thranduil mused.

"He bit Galion," the queen said ruefully.

"Over the intervening centuries Galion has…leathered…somewhat. Legolas with his missing front teeth poses no serious threat to our butler," said Thranduil. Naturally, the king had not intended the usage of 'our' to include Pharin; he was simply exercising the royal prerogative; Thranduil, autonomous, regal, and utterly un-assailable in his kingly authority.

"Say it not!" Pharin groaned.

"He has…spirit…I see much of my father in our youngest. Fortunately, he has been gifted with Oropher's better attributes," Thranduil opined.

"Naneth…what is thith?" Legolas asked as he peered into the bowl of oatmeal.

"It is oatmeal, little one. Shall you have some syrup to sweeten it?" Pharin kept her cool despite the growing squall.

"I has bread and milk, Naneth!" Legolas wailed.

"Hmm, oatmeal," said the king, "…yum."

"Why is Adar telling fibs, Naneth?" Legolas enquired with a fierce glare.

"Adar adores his oatmeal, come, eat," coaxed Pharin.

"Legowas wants his bwead and milk!"

"Legowas…Legolas…shall eat that which is set before him," Thranduil decreed. "We command it!"

Brethilas smirked as he leaned towards his companion and whispered: "Ensure you get all the saddle soap off the reins. One abhors the way it feels against one's hands."

"Why you…! You knew. You had prior knowledge of this. I shall have my revenge, have no fear," Thalion vowed.

"Legowas hates the nasty oatmeal," percolated from the elfling seated at the table opposite.

"Bright, shiny, mithril chasing," Brethilas sighed, "does make such a good impression."

"My boot shall make a better impression," growled Thalion, "once seated deeply into your backside!"

"Sour grapes," Brethilas accused as he daintily supped his oatmeal.


It was a relief to be out of doors, given the trial that breakfast had become. Pharin straightened her back, and shook her head to free her long, trapped, blonde hair after such a vigorous gallop. Seated before her upon her saddle, little Legolas was clasping tightly at her hands. He had taken to riding like a duckling takes to water, clinging fearlessly to his mamma as she sent her feisty mare over terrain that challenged even the most proficient riders. The little prince was tugging at the sleeve of her grey suede riding habit.

"'gain, naneth, ride fast again," he pleaded.

"Lasbelin must rest, she is regaining her breath. Remember what your Adar told you, elfling, that a good rider always cares for his mount above himself," Pharin gently rebuked her son. "It is such a beautiful day, Twiglet, such a beautiful day, my little son. Shall we pick blackberries for a pie?"

"Ooh, wets!" Legolas lisped. No matter how many times he did this it still reduced Pharin to laughter. Oh, what a difference those two front teeth would make when they finally emerged.

"Down you go, let me lower you to the ground. I have a gather sack in my saddle bag, large enough for the berries we shall need to bake our pie," said the queen.

"Shall we save some pie for adar, too?" Legolas enquired.

"Of course," said Pharin, "your adar adores blackberry pie."

"Much more than he 'dores oatmeal," Legolas muttered.

"One cannot eat one's favourite food at each and every meal, little elfling," Pharin chided.


"Because one would become bored with one's favourite food, and besides, plain fare never hurt any elf," Pharin explained. That dreaded word 'why' had reared its ugly head, soon to be followed by its close relations, when, where, and who, no doubt. Had the royal couple's other four sons been so inquisitive at this stage in their development? Probably, but had she shown them the unerring patience that she showered upon Twiglet, of that she was less certain. Legolas sensed this was one debate he simply could not win, and so he let the topic slide, and took up another in its stead.

"Naneth, Falion says that when Legowas is big enough he will go to a place called…uhm…Rivaldell. Was Falion telling fibs?"

Pharin stopped in her tracks, disturbed that the tradition of fostering had been broached out with the elfling's family circle. Gathering her scattered wits, she composed a reply that she hoped would mollify her anxious little son.

"Falion…Thalion…ought not to fill your little head with such tales," said the queen.

"But did he tell Legowas fibs?"

"When you are older, when your Adar decides the time is right, you will go on a journey to a land called Rivendell," said Pharin. Rivaldell! Oh, wait until she next saw that lunatic Thalion! If Legolas were to repeat such a witticism to Lord Elrond…! Aiee…!

"I is going on a 'venture?" Legolas was beginning to see this frightening development in a new light.

"I am going on an adventure, Legolas," Pharin corrected.

"You is going too, naneth!" Legolas was bouncing on the spot from excitement.

"No, no, you misunderstand. Blackberries," the queen was downcast, she had been steadfastly ignoring this upcoming separation, but now it had been dragged out of the shadows and laid out before her. The enforced separation from her darling little Twiglet was an ever present spectre at Pharin's feast. The time was not yet upon her, but all too soon she would be parted from this little leaf, and her heart would surely fracture. Unaware of the effect his revelation had wrought upon his mother, Twiglet now set off with the gather sack to seek out a rich seam of blackberries. The elfling was back to his usual irrepressible self, singing some new ditty he had just composed.

"Here we is a gavering, underneef the twees," warbled Twiglet.

"Valar have mercy," Pharin sighed.

"…me and my naneth, picking black-berr-ees!"

"Sidh…!" Pharin begged for peace.

"Naneth, what is that huge ugly fing watching us from behind the twees?"

"No more of Thalion's silliness, Legolas. You really must not listen to that wretched ellon's tall tales!"

"Legowas is not playing games, naneth. See the nasty monster behind that twee," the child insisted.

"No, no, it is not possible, they never have been discovered this close!" Pharin seized her little son, and hauled him to stand behind her as she drew the short-bladed sword in the rig at her flank and held it outstretched in a defensive attitude. Legolas was now genuinely terrified, for he never had witnessed his mother act in such an aggressive fashion. Instinctively he knew she was protecting him from danger. Behind them, from the forest road, Lasbelin could be heard whinnying as she pawed at the ground, the scent of evil tickling her nostrils.

"Naneth, Legowas is fwightened. May we go now, naneth?" Legolas begged.

"Go to Lasbelin, if you try very hard, you can clamber into the saddle. She will bear you back to the Palace. Go, go now, if you love me, obey me!"

"Leave you here, naneth? Nooo!" the little elfling wailed.

"You are a prince of the blood, and so obey your rightful queen. Ride to the Palace and give the alarm. Go now, nin-ion, and remember that I love you!"

Legolas sketched a ragged little bow, and then he ran, weeping, to where the chestnut mare stood waiting patiently by the roadside. With great difficulty he hauled himself up into the saddle, a feat he only achieved due to Lasbelin's patience. With one backward glance he committed his beautiful naneth to memory, sensing somehow that he would never see her again, and then he told the mare to go home, and he held fast to the saddle pommel as she took off at speed with her precious cargo. Pharin held fast as she struck her first, and last, blow against the giant spider that attacked her in conjunction with another of its kind. Thankfully the bereft little elfling could not hear his mother's dying screams as Lasbelin carried him swiftly out of earshot. Time was no longer Pharin's ally. That odd premonition from earlier in the day had been justified after all. Queen Pharin was no more.


Thranduil was in conference with his chamberlain, Culurien, when Emmelin, under butler to the stalwart Galion, burst into the chamber, and such was his distress the servant forgot to bow to the King of the Greenwood. Culurien was making signals surreptitiously, but Thranduil stood to his feet and waved aside his advisor's concerns over this breach of protocol. Emmelin gathered his wits, took a steadying breath, and took upon himself the onerous task of announcing that her majesty, Queen Pharin, was missing.

"Missing," said Thranduil, "how is this possible?"

"His Highness, Prince Legolas, rode into the courtyard barely able to hold to Lasbelin's saddle. It appears the queen and the young prince came under attack as they left the road to gather berries. His highness described the creatures as 'monsters'. I regret that the likelihood is…"

"Spiders," Culurien gasped, "how close to the palace environs have the creatures encroached? This is beyond belief!"

"Send for Brethilas, we shall personally lead out our troop, we shall not tolerate the taint of Mordor to invade our realm," said a now distraught Thranduil.

A newcomer took the king by the elbow and led him towards a chair. Only the former Principal Healer to Oropher would dare to take such a liberty. Thalion, in company with Brethilas, was held in high regard by the king. Thalion had been the healer who had presided at Thranduil-Oropherion's birth.

"Leave us," Thalion commanded, and both the chamberlain and the under butler bowed and left. Such was Thalion's standing at court.

"I am incapable of thought," Thranduil admitted when he and Thalion were alone.

"Rendered thus by the effects of shock. Brethilas has the search in hand, sire. Your place is by the side of young Legolas. The poor little sprite is the one who most needs your presence. Come, sire, come along with me, come comfort your little son," said Thalion.

"But…Pharin is in danger!"

"Brethilas is the ellon best suited to this task. Your majesty is much too distraught to effectively lead the sortie. Even I have accepted that, on this occasion, I may serve you best here rather than by the Brigade Commander's side. Duty first, sire, self last," Thalion dared to stress.

"You dare to lecture us on our duty," Thranduil hissed.

"Your sense of duty is not under scrutiny, sire. It is your emotional wellbeing that concerns me presently," said Thalion.

"Where is the little one?" Thranduil asked as he visibly took control of his emotions.

"He is in the nursery, sire," said Thalion.

"Lead on, we shall trust to our Brigade Commander to secure our Queen, and we shall go to our son to offer him comfort," Thalion nodded his head in approval. Thranduil was back in the groove; taking refuge in the strict protocol that ordered the court. No higher compliment could be paid to Brethilas Hallas-ion than the one Thranduil had just bestowed. Thranduil had entrusted him with securing both his queen and his realm.


Legolas' hastily appointed nursery maid had bathed her little charge and dressed him in a warm red flannel nightshirt, and matching sleeveless robe. His long golden hair had been brushed and braided, and he had been given a warm milky drink laced with cinnamon. Despite the normalcy of the scene before him, it was the look in his little son's eyes that would remain with Thranduil forever. Legolas looked haunted. Raising his arms towards his father, Legolas silently begged with his huge blue eyes to be lifted and held within the circle of his father's arms.

"Come," said Thranduil as he effortlessly lifted his youngest son, and cradled him against one broad shoulder.

The scent of linden blossom rising from the baby powder on Twiglet's skin transported the king back to the night he held his first born, Aranhil, Crown Prince of the Greenwood, in his arms for the first time. Then three other sons had come along, Mallorn, Celevon, and Doron. Thranduil had believed his family had been completed with Doron's birth, but Pharin had begged to bear one last elfling, one she could raise just for the experience, one not brought into being to serve the needs of the Greenwood. What would become of their beloved Legolas if she did not return?

"I saw monsters," Legolas whispered against the king's delicately shaped ear.

"Did you so?" Thranduil's mouth grew dry from fear. "What did they look like, these monsters?"

"They had lots of legs," said Legolas, "and scary red eyes!"

"You are safe now, the Valar be thanked," said Thranduil. He knew he was failing hopelessly at comforting his son, but the words would not form up in his brain, far less elicit from his lips. Quite simply, the king was frozen with fear for his queen. Settling into an armchair by the fire, Thranduil held his son close against his shoulder. Legolas gave a tiny sigh and settled to sleep leaving his distraught father to stare into the flames; clinging to his last vestiges of hope. Emmelin hovered silently in the background, seeking to be of service, yet aware that they also serve who stand and wait. Meanwhile, Thalion had slipped silently from the chamber, knowing instinctively that the lack of communication from the search party could only bode ill. As Thalion sped off into the night to join forces with Brethilas, Legolas gave into exhaustion after a day of waiting for news of his beloved naneth. His shallow little breaths fanned against his father's neck, an invasion of Thranduil's personal space which the Greenwood king freely embraced.

"Hair like thistledown," Thranduil mused as he gazed down upon a stray strand of Twiglet's golden hair, "oh, you are so alike your dear naneth. You have her eyes; blue and clear as sapphires. We wish we had led the sortie in person. It is a curse, kingship; we are constrained by our birthright to preserve the succession, but at what cost? How may any ellon live with his conscience, when his soul mate is in danger, and yet others ride to his elleth's aid? You never shall know the curse of wearing the Greenwood Crown, little Twiglet, for there are brothers to act as a bastion between you and that Office, just as your naneth intended."

Legolas shifted in his sleep, his fingers threading through his Adar's golden mane, then, as Thranduil looked on, the little elfling murmured: 'Kill the monsters, ada, pwease make them go 'way!"

"Hush, little sprite, sweetly sleep, for the monsters cannot harm you here," said the king whose queen most likely had been harmed by those same monsters, the spawn of Mordor, the vile offspring of Shelob. For now, there was nothing to be done until the patrol lead by Brethilas returned with either Queen Pharin, or her hroa, under his protection. This accursed waiting was worse than the fiercest battle to a warrior like Thranduil. Oropher's son was fretting to be out and about and avenging his people, but even he knew that his place tonight was in the nursery of his underground caverns, comforting this smallest scion of the House of Thranduil Oropher-ion.


Even at a distance, Thalion could discern that the detachment of elves headed in his direction was bearing a body upon a wicker hurdle. It took little imagination to conclude that the unfortunate being borne home was Queen Pharin. These were hardened warriors, they did not display grief at the loss of a brother at arms, for the Greenwood had sustained casualties many times over as her army fought to hold off the evil of Mordor. No, the anguish being displayed by these weary ellyn was for the loss of their beautiful Queen Pharin.

Thalion stepped down from the saddle and made his way over to the sorrowing group. Lifting the cloak draped over their departed lady, Thalion recognized the all too familiar symptoms of a death induced by spider venom. These arachnids could 'stun' their prey with the intention to devour the unfortunate victim at leisure. But a sustained and frenzied attack by more than one of these vile creatures invariably overloaded the victim's nervous system, so that death was inevitable. Thalion replaced the bloodied cloak and lowered his head in salute.

"Were we too late in reaching our lady?" asked one young archer.

"By the time the little prince reached us it was already too late. No blame lies upon any warrior here present. Bear our lady safely homeward, I am going to join the Brigade Commander," said Thalion.

The detachment saluted their officer before re-distributing their load and moving off towards the palace. Thalion steeled himself to regain the saddle and ride off to join Brethilas. He knew the younger elf would lay the blame for this calamity at his own feet, but it truly had been an unfortunate mishap. One disturbing aspect to this attack was the location of the spiders. How had they encroached so close to the king's underground palace undetected? It was time to mount sustained attacks; time to root out these vermin and put them to the sword. The healer swung into the saddle, and set his horse off at a canter. As the animal's muscles warmed and loosened, Thalion urged the gelding to a gallop, knowing instinctively where to find the Brigade Commander who would be sweeping the forest in a pre-set grid, destroying spiders and nests alike.


A pall of smoke led Thalion to the location of his friend Brethilas, Brigade Commander to King Thranduil. At a distance there appeared to be a degree of activity ahead, at closer quarters the reality was carnage. Brethilas spun around when Thalion laid a hand upon his sword arm. The Commander was caught up in the moment; his entire being focused upon destroying the spider colony he and his troop had unearthed. For a split second Thalion feared for his own life, and then his dearest friend recognized the newcomer, and he took a deep cleansing breath as he lowered his weapon by his side.

"You know better than to creep up on a warrior, Thalion!" Brethilas said heatedly, his anger directed as much at himself as at Thalion.

"Creep…?" Thalion dismissed the incident with a derisive snort. "I am much too tall, and imposing, to ever be proficient at creeping."

"As a fish swims, so the vine creeps, and you ever were a climber, it is how you achieved your exalted status within the court after all," Brethilas retorted. This was their well rehearsed coping mechanism in full swing. Banter to dispel anger, and hurt, and despair. It had seen these two safely through the horror of the Battle of the Last Alliance, and it would sustain them through this latest tragedy.

"You intercepted the pall bearers?" Brethilas asked softly.

"I did, and I suspect that when the reality hits home that I may go insane," said Thalion.

"In company of us all," predicted Brethilas. He set aside his sword, having swiped an oiled rag along the mithril blade to remove the offending black blood smeared over its surface. To the fastidious elves the gore of Mordor was an abomination. The blade was consigned to the rig slung by Brethilas' left hip and he now sat down wearily upon a felled tree trunk.

"May I join you?" Thalion requested.

"Am I coming apart?" Brethilas quipped.

"Only on the inside," Thalion replied from personal experience. This mutual outward display of normality would fall apart soon enough in private.

"That is alright, then. What of the little sprite? Is he bearing up?" Brethilas enquired as he took the water skin proffered by his companion.

"He is in command of his wits, yes, but the Sapling is distraught," Thalion relayed.

"I was referring to Legolas, you…ninny…but I take your point. Even now 'he' is still a sprite to us, who knew him from birth, our little Crown Prince Thranduil. The years add reserve, but the need to protect lives on, no?" Brethilas said fondly.

"Like two old hounds, we still steal to the same pair of heels in time of upheaval," Thalion opined.

"That is a profound observation," said Brethilas, "even for an ancient such as you."

"I was the sire of your best friend. I am not in Galion's league, Galion, who was decrepit even in Oropher's day!" Thalion protested.

"No, you are not, and I was deeply honoured to be adopted by you, if unofficially, when your son fell at Dagorlad in company with my sire. We make a good team, venerated elder!" Brethilas chuckled.

"Elder or Eldar," Thalion sought clarification.

"Either…both…picker of nits," Brethilas sighed. "I believe we have either slain the arachnid vanguard or caused them to retrench. We may make our way home. Home! Ha! Why does that sound hollow of a sudden?"

"Perhaps because the fire has gone from the hearth," said Thalion, and he folded the now weeping Brethilas into a fatherly embrace, and permitted his own hot tears to flow. Better to clear the emotion away here, now, in a smoke-filled clearing, than in the presence of their grieving monarch.


The Caverns of Thranduil

The King gazed down upon his dear, departed, Pharin, bathed and laid out with loving attention by her ladies, and an expression of such loss took up residence behind his eyes that those of his courtiers present feared for his own survival. An elf may die in battle, or from grief, for the immortality which is gifted at birth may be cast off by an act of will. Thranduil was clearly debating with himself why he should go on without his soul mate, his queen.

"What of the filth that wrought Queen Pharin's passing?" Thranduil asked in a low growl.

"None now lives, sire," Brethilas reported with conviction.

"Would that they could die more than once," Thranduil hissed, "I should like to pass the future slaying the wretches over and over!"

"To their undying misery, and your eventual loss of reason," Thalion dared to state, "they were but mindless creatures, sire, wrought to do the bidding of the one we do not name, and at day's end, your queen would still be a guest of Namo."

"How dare you lecture us, Healer?" Thranduil roared.

"That would be ex-healer," said Thalion, "and one dares because age, and duty, compel one so to do; duty, sire, duty first, self last!"

"Remove this presumptuous ellon from our presence 'ere we strike his head from his insolent body!" Thranduil roared.

"Why is you shouting, ada?"

Thranduil reacted as though he had just been doused with ice water. The newcomer was Legolas. The elfling was carrying a much chewed velveteen brog…bear…his favourite toy from birth, his equivalent of a comfort blanket. He was disorientated after being shocked awake by the sound of his father shouting off in the distance. The curse of the superior hearing gifted to the Eldar. Before any of the ellyn present could prevent it, the diminutive elfling ran to view his dead mother's corpse, and as his initial delight waned, tears replaced his joy, for there was something not quite right with his naneth, and Legolas instinctively knew the change would be life altering.

"Where has she gone, my naneth?" The little sprite asked, displaying shocking comprehension for one so young.

"She is gone to visit Lord Namo, little one," said Prince Doron, coming to his father's aid with his usual aplomb.

"Then why is she here, still?" Legolas was confused, his brow furrowed in concentration.

"Lord Namo very graciously permitted this part of naneth to remain here in the Greenwood. This is the part of our being we of the Eldar call the hroa, the outer shell, and the inner part, the part that made naneth special, the fea, has gone to dwell in the Halls of Mandos. If you wish you may kiss naneth goodnight, and then I shall take you and Brog back to bed," said Doron, and how he maintained his composure during this explanation none present knew.

"Will she know I am kissing her all the way from Mango's Halls, Dorrie?" Twiglet was confused.

"She will know, squab!" Doron employed his pet name for his little brother for his own throat was closing from the grief he had banked up in order to cope.

"That is alright then, night-night naneth, Legowas wuvs you, and we can bake black bewwy pie when you get back from Mango's Hall," said the trusting little elfling, and now he went on tiptoes to bestow a sloppy kiss to the pale cold cheek of his departed naneth.

"Go with Doron, Legolas, do as your brother asks," Thranduil was also struggling to remain composed under the weight of sadness welling within him. Not for the first time the king was grateful for this elder son, Doron was the most tactile of the brood, Legolas aside. Doron had engaged with the little one from the day of Twiglet's birth.

Hand in hand the two princes paused to kneel to their father and then Legolas suddenly broke free for a goodnight kiss.

"Brog, too, ada, like you always does," said Twiglet, disclosing the fact that Thranduil, self-styled monster, omnipotent king of the Greenwood Realm, regularly kissed velveteen brogs goodnight! Somehow this little known fact eased the tension within the chamber, Thranduil duly performed both kisses, and Legolas, unaware how great a gift he was bestowing, turned and blew a kiss to all present. Thalion, tight-laced, bossy-britches Thalion, caught the kiss, and made a show of stowing it in his pocket. Legolas giggled into his little hand.

"You is funny, Falion!"

"But not in a good way," Brethilas muttered.

"Come, sprog, I shall send for some hot milk for you before you get back into bed," Doron promised.

"Hot milk wif bread, and cinnamon, pwease?" Twiglet begged.

"Bread and milk, just as you like it, little brother," conceded Doron, and the battle of the breakfast oatmeal was consigned to the past.

The End