Twiglet and the Billy Goat
This is a not for profit work of fan fiction based upon the works of J.R.R. Tolkien
For Justine Darkchylde, who drew the picture of Thalion and Brethilas that I now have as my Avatar.
It began with a simple plea to the king.
"Ada…?" Twiglet scuffed his toe across the marble floor of the Throne Room, using his 'cute factor' as his eldest brother, Aranhil, had acidly labelled this doe-eyed innocent act, to charm the socks off King Thranduil. Usually it worked to a degree where the royal digits were permanently on display, but this particular plea had fallen upon deaf ear-points on several occasions now, hence this re-doubled effort on the part of the elfling prince.
"Ye-es…?" Thranduil was distracted over some affair of state, and was barely factoring in his littlest son's request.
"You know how much Legowas wants a pet and, well, he still has not got one, Ada." Now the bottom lip was quivering, and this was an act that could melt the Helcaraxë.
"Yes, well, right at this moment, Ada is much too busy, little twiglet, and so run along and play," said Thranduil.
Sensing his father's distraction, Legolas decided to exploit this rare lapse in the king's usually tack-sharp concentration.
"If Legowas should happen to find a pet, can he keep it, Ada?"
"May, little sprite, of course one can, you wish to ask if one may, it makes a vast difference, do you see?" Thranduil was not too distracted to improve upon his youngest son's grammar it would seem.
"May I, Ada?" The crafty little elfling carefully avoided repeating his question, for his father was actually paying him some heed now.
"Yes, yes, now do please go back to your Na…!" There it was again, that automatic dismissal to go to his naneth, who had just spent her first round of the seasons in the company of Lord Námo. Oh, he must learn to pay this little sprite more heed, for no affair of state mattered more than his and Pharin's sons, surely?
"It is alright, Ada, I is not upset," and now the calculating little sprite had vanished, and in his stead was the loving little Twiglet that all in the Greenwood adored. Going up to the glittering crystal Swan Throne, Legolas went on tippy-toes, and kissed his father upon his cheek, and then he backed from the magnificent elf, and knelt humbly before leaving the Throne Room.
"That shall suffice for today, Culurien, we are weary," said the king, and his Chamberlain dipped his head and backed from the throne room, leaving his weeping master to vent his grief. Pharin's fading was an open wound upon Thranduil's soul, and such an unnecessary one, for she could have escaped the spider attack, she simply had put her maternal instincts ahead of her common sense, and had held off the brutes to ensure her little son escaped. Thranduil's eyes slid towards the smaller of the two carved crystal thrones, another swan, a pen, to match his cob, for just like elves, swans mate for life. The emptiness of the throne echoed the emptiness of his heart. One thing alone had anchored his fea; Legolas.
Ada had said yes. He did not know that he had, of course not, but Culurien had witnessed the exchange, and so Legolas felt fully justified in searching for his much longed for pet. The village seemed the most logical place to begin his search, the villagers knew him, obviously, and they all had a soft spot for Legolas. Thalion, with his usual wit, had declared it to be the Dead Marshes. Heads were dipped, curtsies dropped, as the little elfling wandered about amongst his people. He tried to be polite and wish them a good day, or a thank you, but his little mind was racing as he searched for some sort of furry companion to share his often empty days. There seemed to be a dearth of pets on display. No kittens, no puppies, not so much as a tame polecat. This was discouraging in the extreme. He was about to re-trace his steps when the Valar answered his prayer. An ellon was working in a vegetable patch, and his face was a deep shade of red. Suddenly he paused, fists balled upon his narrow hips and he roared: "Will no elf rid me of this benighted billy goat?"
Legolas remembered to thank the Valar for this windfall, and then he loosed the rope tying the goat to a post, and he and 'Billy' left to return to the Palace. Twiglet had his pet!
Thalion dropped into his armchair, and heeled off his boots. He was feeling the strain of so long a patrol. He had not known when he was well off as Oropher's Premier Healer. That brought to mind his long dead son, Alion, lost in the Battle of the Last Alliance, along with the father of Brethilas, the surviving ellyn had adopted one another as father and son, and together they shored one another up against their loss. Still Alion would tiptoe through Thalion's mind, the visits grew further apart with time, but his beloved son lived on in his heart.
"I shall stir the…fire," said Brethilas, and he fell silent, for he knew that look only too well, the veil of remembrance dimmed his adoptive father's eyes, and Brethilas knew that Alion had come to visit. The moment was fleeting, and then Alion was once more a fond memory, Brethilas said naught, but stirred the fire into life, and set the kettle to boil over the spirit lamp. Why was it that his dearest friend could make his presence known to Thalion, but not to Brethilas? And why did Brethilas' father never come to his son? Oh well, no point in brooding over what could not be changed. Tea was what they both needed; and seed cake.
"Is it my imagination," Thalion asked, "or can I smell…wet dog?"
"One had assumed it was your socks, humming quietly in the background," Brethilas snickered.
"One is splitting one's sides," Thalion said with a curl of disdain tugging at his lip.
"I take your point, for there is a definite aroma in the chamber, not wet dog, but not sweaty socks, either, almost a new twist on a mixture of both, and cheese…definitely cheese!" Brethilas now noted.
"It is truly vile, whatever it is, and look at this, Twiglet has been to visit, for he has spilled raisins upon the floor!" said Thalion.
"I shall collect them presently, tea first, for we had a longer than usual patrol, and I need the energy from the honey," said Brethilas.
Settled back in their opposite armchairs, the two friends settled their feet upon the upholstered fender and wiggled their toes as the warmth seeped into aching joints. Elves were capable of great feats of endurance, but even elves had their limits. There was an air of domesticity in these caverns, for the two ellyn rubbed along nicely together, and they each had been the other's reason to carry on when the urge to surrender up their immortality due to loss and grief had been strongest. Brethilas, even with his eyes closed in repose, sensed the older ellon was distracted, and so he turned his head towards Thalion to study him.
"The seat of my best under-drawers has been torn away!" Thalion said with indignation as he stared at the garment hanging from the mantle shelf to dry.
"Ha!" Brethilas barked. This reaction was one of surprise, as opposed to humour. What had been going on here in their absence?
"No hope of patching these!" Thalion said as he shoved his entire fist into the hole.
"Like a ghostly hand puppet now," Brethilas opined.
"I left another set drip-drying over the bath tub. They had better be intact or there shall be blood spilled when I track down the culprit!" Thalion was out of his chair now, his tea laid aside in his eagerness to investigate how this travesty had come about. Brethilas sighed and shook his golden head. There was always a drama playing out in Thranduil's caverns, but this latest one was indeed a mystery. Oh well, best sip his tea before it cooled, he hated tepid tea, and he might as well put those raisins out of their misery, Twiglet loved them, they kept a jar stocked especially. A little dried out, these ones, but then they likely had lain there on the floor a day or two.
Thalion returned from the bathing chamber with a frown etched upon his normally smooth brow. "Have you been shedding of late? It is claimed that stress can lead to baldness!"
"What are you twittering on about now?" Brethilas asked around a mouthful of stale raisins.
"The bath tub is coated with hair. Worse, the same smell pervades the entire chamber. I am still getting cheese in the mix," said Thalion as he tilted back his head and scented the air like a hound.
"Perhaps you are the one who is shedding," Brethilas suggested.
"If I did not know better," said Thalion, "I would suspect there has been a goat in here!"
"Goat…?" Brethilas repeated, and now he glanced down at the raisins collected in the dish by his hand. "Augh…! These raisins are not raisins! They are goat droppings! One is going to be….!"
"…calling out to one's friend 'Huey' who lives behind the plumbing?" Thalion chuckled.
Doron, a prince of the Greenwood, was working over his weaponry, and just as he was re-stringing his bow, his elder brother, the crown prince Aranhil, stormed into his chamber demanding: "Where is my best curry comb?"
"Try in the coat of your best horse, or, ask your groom, for the likelihood it migrated into your idle mitt is non existent!" Doron retorted.
"How dare you speak to me like that?" Aranhil asked.
"It comes naturally," said Doron, "you are such an easy ellon to loathe."
"If that little whelp has taken my curry comb I shall…!"
"By whelp one supposes you are referring to Legolas. Touch one hair on the little one's head and I shall slice off your ear-points, you…throwback!" Doron said with fire in his eyes.
"I am telling you, he likely has taken my curry comb!" Aranhil insisted.
"Naturally, for he has a whole string of horses in urgent need of grooming, you…moron!" said Doron.
"If I find out…!" Aranhil growled, and then he turned and strode from the chamber.
"Waste of space!" Doron muttered, he loathed his elder brother, and loathed the way he made life so miserable for their little brother also.
"Once a bully, always a bully, but Legolas shall not always be a harmless little ellon, and one day you shall meet your match, Aranhil!" Doron predicted.
"Here we is a' wandering, underneef the twees, me and 'Billy the Goat', happy as can be!" Sang the happy little elfling as he led his newly bathed, newly brushed, 'pet' through the king's garden. Billy, for that was what Legolas believed the creature was named, not getting that the term billy was the opposite of nanny, was having a wonderful time. One moment he was being slapped about the rump with a broom for devouring a crop of carrots, next he was being manoeuvred into a tub, and being soaped, and pampered, and all this after a tasty snack of a set of freshly laundered linen under drawers. Billy thought life could not get any better, but that was before he turned the corner and spied Thranduil's sunflowers!
"Well, Ada will not miss one or two, but mind you does not trample the little flowers," said the little elfling, not quite understanding that Ada would most certainly mind!
Billy then went on a binge, tasting here, snatching there, until Legolas was forced to get really cross and stamp his foot! Onwards they walked, all around the gardens, and then it was time for tea, and then bed.
The sunflowers had clearly only taken the edge off Billy's appetite, for he saw off three of Twiglet's supper sandwiches, and half the linen napkin from his tray. He then trotted about Twiglet's bedchamber while the little sprite changed into his nightshirt and went off to wash his face, behind his ear points, and brush his teeth. During this window of opportunity, Billy hopped up onto the bed, somehow burrowed under the coverlets, and settled to sleep. Now, who should come to say goodnight but King Thranduil.
"Ah, there he is," cooed the king, "my precious little son, already in bed, like a good little elfling."
"Yes, it is Ada little one, shall I read you a story? Would you like that?"
"Oh, well, of course, if you are too tired, I could just sit here for a while, until you fall asleep?" Thranduil placed one hand upon the tuft of fair hair protruding from under the coverlets. "My, your hair feels so…hairy…tonight."
A gentle snore rose into the air of the room, and so Thranduil stooped to press a kiss atop the…hairy…head, and then he crept from the chamber, drawing the privacy curtain across the entrance, and making sure he did not make a noise as he walked away along the passageway to his own apartments. Ah, how soon those elfling days passed. Only this morning, as he begged to be allowed to have a pet, Legolas seemed so much smaller, and when he kissed Thranduil on the cheek there had been no sign of whiskers, but tonight there had been the definite suggestion of a…beard?
Rushing back to Twiglet's chamber, Thranduil discovered his little son snuggled up asleep next to a billy goat!
"Where…? How…? You cannot…oh, Twiglet," Thranduil groaned in exasperation, "very well, but only for tonight, and then tomorrow you may choose one of the kitchen mouser's kittens!"