Title: Fortunate Son
Codes: Lord of the Rings, AU, R-Mature, Elrond, Legolas main pair and other characters including the twins and Glorfindal are secondary.
Summary: Legolas is fostered as a youngster to the court at Rivendell, much against the wishes of his parents and in keeping with the 'guidance' of Celeborn and Galadriel, two who hope to end the bickering by creating a bond. All that follows is not gold.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. I merely tell tales.
Feedback: Requested and answered.
He sat on a tree root waiting for his parents to come down from the platform that marked the entrance to the home of the Lady and Lord of the Wood. They had arrived earlier, the Captain of the Guard, Haldir leading them in. As they arrived it was clear that there were others already here, their horses tied nearby and their retainers waiting patiently.
He had dismounted, eying the strange dark-haired Elves with curiosity even as he was eyed. They had noticed him from the group, his unusual beauty standing out in a crowd known for it. He had not recognized anyone and seeing the saddle markings of Elves from Imladris, he had found a place by himself, sitting on a large root at the bottom of a Mallorn tree.
He had only snatches of reasons for the trip to Lorien, this being the first time in his life he had ever accompanied his parents any place beyond the strict confines of their kingdom. He was the youngest and often times in the hectic schedule of business of state, the one left behind with his mother.
Now something had arrived in their midst and it had upset both of them terribly. His father almost didn't agree to leave, so unhappy was he with the 'request' of the Lord and Lady of the Wood. The situation had not been discussed with him but he had been asked to go, riding to Lothlorien with his parents.
They were met and taken inside the great forest, the trees stupefying to him, even as he had been raised among them. They rode to the city, soldiers tying their horses to railings for them as the great lady and lord met them, escorting them inside. He had been introduced, Lady Galadriel especially gracious and then they had left him to cool his heels in the shade and serenity of the great wood.
People had come and gone, some he knew from a glimpse here and there and some not, causing him to speculate who was 'friendly' and who was the 'enemy', his own euphemism for Rivendell folk. Horses trumpeted their impatience to him as he waited with growing anxiety for the outcome of the meeting.
All he knew was that he was the agenda.
***In the presence of the Lord and Lady of the Wood ...
They sat together, each on their own side. The King and Queen of the Green Wood stared with regal coolness at the dais where Celeborn and Galadriel sat. On the other side, equal to them, Lord Elrond, Glorfindel and Erestor sat.
Galadriel suppressed a sigh, the emotions of all involved clear to her and she turned to her husband, Celeborn and nodded. He rose and stood before them, tall and contemplative.
"Welcome to our country, good and wise people. We are most gratified that you came to our summons. It is on the business of all good that we asked you here today. For these many years it has been estranged among us, the relations between the great Green Wood and the valley of Rivendell cold between you. That is not the way of our people.
"There is much to gain from a closer and warmer alliance. Contact between our three countries should be increasing but it is not. Our people should feel free to come and go amongst us but they do not. Much that is good and valuable is not emerging between us because of old wounds and attitudes."
Elrond stole a glance toward Thranduil and noted that the King was uncomfortable under the unblinking gaze of the great Lord. He, himself, a son-in-law of the two was more used to the ethereal contact and therefore felt less harshly the impact of his words.
Celeborn turned to his wife, Galadriel smiling at him with her usual gaze of loving admiration. He smiled back, considering his words. As he did Thranduil stole a glance at Elrond. Their gazes met, a chill was passed between them and they turned back, listening as Celeborn began again.
"It was and still is the practice of fostering sons between families of great houses. For my Lady and I, having the children of Elrond for lengths of time is close to the experience of our ancestors but that is the relationship of grandparents and grandchildren. That is separate even if it is good."
He stared at both men for a second. "The Lady and I wish that you, Thranduil, foster your youngest child to the household of Lord Elrond. It would be in the interests of all for you to do this thing. It would help to heal wounds that have lingered far too long between us. I would suggest a son sent to you, Thranduil, but Elrond's children are grown."
It was silent a moment, no one speaking and then Celeborn continued. "We are asking this for the greater good of all our people. We would consider it a favor personal to us, Thranduil, if you would do this good thing. A favor to us. A personal favor."
They all sat, listening to the implications unspoken and then Elrond rose, turning to the two silent pale people on the other side of the small room.
"It would be an honor to do this and I would give to any child of Thranduil the best possible care and protection." Inside his head a banshee howled even as he acceded to the inevitability of the moment. He waited, breath held, stealing a glance at Galadriel. She winked just barely perceptibly and he struggled not to smile.
Thranduil glanced at the shocked and pale face of his wife and then rose slowly. "Does the Lord of Lothlorien mean that I must give up my youngest child at this tender moment of his fostering to the care of another? What manner of thing is this? That a father and mother must send a child of their own off to live among strangers?"
The emphasis on strangers was clear and angry even as Thranduil struggled with the manner of his speaking and Elrond struggled too not to bristle.
"Your son would be safe in my lands, as safe as a child of my own," Elrond countered, his words and manner deliberately soft and gentle.
"But he isn't your son," Thranduil said, struggling with his anger. "He is mine, my youngest boy. I am being asked to give him to you for how long? Years? All the days of his youth to be given to another?"
"It is the way of our people to foster young ones among the great houses, to build harmony and trust. You are a king of our people as are you, Elrond of Rivendell. There are no easy paths for any of us who bear this burden. Surely by now you would know this truth."
Celeborn's voice was sharp, the rebuke in it clear to both men. They hesitated, turning to the great lord and lady. As they did, Thranduil's wife rose and moved to stand before them.
"All these many years I have longed for detente. This way of anger and rage is not the way of our people. It has cost us all dearly. However, I implore you to consider the cost to my heart of the loss of my young boy. Even as he approaches the end of his younger days, he is still in many ways my child. It would grieve me uncounted to lose him for many years at this stage to another. Soon the day will come when he will become a man and have less need for his mother. I forestall the sorrow of that time by his company now."
For a moment it was silent and then Galadriel rose, her face filled with understanding and pity.
"I too know the loss of a child. My only child, my daughter is gone from me oversea and who will know how many ages will pass before we can see each other again. Your pain I understand in ways no man can know. But what we are responsible for is greater than our own needs and desires. Your son can be a bridge for our people to become whole again. For all the pain of separation, there is the joy of reunion, not just for you but for all our people. Even as I grieve for your heart, I implore you to be gracious and kind, to give your child to Lord Elrond to heal the breach between our people."
She stood before Galadriel, her grief on her face and then she composed herself, turning to her husband. "The Lord and Lady have spoken. What say you, husband?"
Thranduil stood silently, his internal emotional firestorm clear to all. It raged on his face as he looked from his wife to Celeborn to Galadriel and finally to Elrond. He stared at Elrond, the anger of centuries flashing in his eyes and then he turned to Celeborn at last.
"I would wish to take council on this," he said shortly. "It is a step that must not be considered in haste."
Celeborn nodded and the two turned, walking hand in hand out of the room. Elrond watched them go and turned to his in-laws, a frown forming on his face.
"That wasn't good," he said finally.
Galadriel chuckled, walking down to where he stood, bemused advisers all around him. "I think it was a good start, don't you, my Lord?" she asked, turning to her husband.
He shook his head, a smile forming on his lips. "If you say so, my Lady."
Elrond had to laugh in spite of himself.
***Outside in the courtyard...
Legolas scrambled down from the root and rushed to his parents, staring at their faces as they walked toward their horses.
"Mount up, Legolas. We're leaving."
He nodded, not daring to ask and joined his family and their party, riding with them from the hitching area. Through the forest, not waiting for Haldir, they rode out of Lothlorien. It would be a silent ride home, the three of them keeping their own council before the explosive arguments between his parents would begin in their home. Legolas would only wait, his fears his own as they shouted their way to a decision.
***Arrival at Imladris a month later ...
They rode through the great gate of the city, entering the courtyard that led to the house beyond. He rode beside his father, sitting as straight as he could. His eyes flickered around, even as he sat affecting indifference to the beauty that hit him like a gloved fist to the jaw, so great was the effect Rivendell had upon him.
The group dismounted while he and his father sat, waiting for the head of the household to greet them. Standing in the doorway, Elrond noted the tension in the older man. Considering he was giving over his son to the care of a man he didn't like, Elrond could hardly blame him. He stepped forward, Glorfindel and Erestor on each side and walked the short distance to where the two waited.
Standing on a balcony nearby, watching with silent interest, Elladan and Elrohir waited. They could see through the facade of relaxation he wore like a mask the tension in their father as he greeted the haughty king of the north wood. There was an exchange of conversation and an invitation to dine. Thranduil declined it and Elrond absorbed the insult without comment.
For a moment they just stared at each other, neither one giving an inch and then Thranduil turned toward his son, a flicker of emotion in his eyes. "You will do well here, Legolas. Your family is expecting it."
Legolas nodded, swallowing hard. He watched as his father directed his men to unload his son's things and then he turned back toward Elrond. "You have my son for a period of time. I have no say in this matter it would appear. I will hold you responsible for his safety and his well-being."
Elrond nodded, watching the youngster's facade crack slightly as the time came for his father to leave. He stepped back, allowing the men with Thranduil to carry the boy's luggage to the steps of the house. They put it down and walked back, remounting their horses. For a moment father and son whispered to each other and then Thranduil turned toward Elrond, a strained look on his face. He nodded and then, without a backward glance, rode back through the door with his party.
Legolas sat and watched them, swallowing his tears. Then he turned and stared at the man who would be master of his fate for the next few years. Elrond looked at him and then gestured for him to dismount. The youth did, revealing nothing of himself in his expression and followed the older man inside. They entered the house, a marvel of beauty and then Elrond turned to him, noting the appearance of his sons on the stairway.
"Welcome to Rivendell, Legolas. I am glad to have you here. My sons Elladan and Elrohir," he said, nodding to each, "will escort you to your rooms and when they have helped you settle in, then I would like you to come to my study so that we may talk together."
Legolas swallowed, his eyes flickering between father and sons and then he nodded, silent as a statue. Elrond nodded back and turned, walking away with Glorfindel and Erestor toward the center of the house. It was silent a moment and then Elladan moved forward, picking up a case. He turned and looked at the other two, standing quietly as they watched him.
"Come on. Grab something," he said, picking up another case. Elrohir did likewise and they turned, noting that Legolas hadn't moved. "Aren't you going to help here?"
Legolas, filled with conflicting emotions, shook his head. "I am a prince from a house of princes. I don't carry my own baggage."
"It seems to me that you do already," Elladan replied dryly, sliding a case toward the reluctant prince with his foot. "My grandfather is the evening star. My mother is the daughter of the Lady of the Wood, yet I obey my father's commands. I would suggest you pick up your things and follow us."
The two older boys turned and walked up the stairs, not looking back at Legolas. They walked along the corridor, snickering about the problem they now confronted. When they arrived at Legolas' room, they put his things down and turned, more than aware that he hadn't followed. Elladan sighed, shaking his head.
"He's going to be a problem."
Elrohir smiled and walked to the door. "What do you want to do about it?"
"Paddle his butt," Elladan said, moving toward the door as well. "He's probably still standing there. Do you suppose he means it? That he doesn't do things for himself?"
"I don't know. He's Thranduil's son, right? Anything is possible. It might be that he's that been catered to."
"He's come to the wrong place for that to continue," Elladan said, distaste filling his sensibilities. "Father has his hands full."
They walked out into the hallway, moving toward the stairs. Peering down, they saw the youngster standing beside his last baggage, arms folded and stubborn look set firmly into his fine features. They both paused at the top, smiling to each other.
"He's pretty, I'll hand that to him, pretty even for an Elf," Elrohir said with a smirk.
"I'd love to wipe that smug bastard look off of his face," Elladan said, sighing softly.
"Is that all?" Elrohir asked, peering out of the corner of his eye at his twin.
"No, but it'll do for now," he sighed, moving to walk down the steps.
They reached the bottom, pausing before him. Legolas stared back at them, his eyes as stubborn as the set of his chin.
"You need to cooperate. You're esquired here to do what my father bids and to learn what you need for kingship sake. That means you carry your own baggage," Elladan said patiently.
He looked at Elladan as if he had grown horns. "I am the son of a king. I do not carry my own baggage."
Elrohir snorted, drawing the disdainful stare of the younger boy. "You have as much chance of being king of your father's country than I have of being Lady of the Wood."
For a moment nothing happened and then Legolas launched himself at Elrohir, the two falling to the floor in a tangle of arms and legs and shouts of rage and surprise. Elladan watched for a moment, enjoying the fine spectacle when he heard footsteps coming from the general direction of his father's retreat. Moving hastily, he pulled the youngster off his brother, falling to one knee in his struggle to hold him.
Elrohir, maddened by the whole matter, rose up and leaped forward, falling into a tangle with both boys and when Glorfindel, Erestor and Elrond rounded the corner, it was a grand melee, Legolas swinging at everything, Elrohir hitting his brother in his zest to get at the Mirkwood prince and Elladan falling backward, his arms around the visitor's slender body.
Elrond stared a moment, shock informing his features and then with the two men at his side, he waded in, pulling the struggling blond boy out of the tangle of his sons. As he did, Elrohir rose up maddened and swung on Legolas who then ducked, the blow falling straight into Elrond's face.
For a moment it was as if time stood still and then Elrond staggered, falling backward with a thud. He sat stunned, blinking his eyes and then lay back, dazed. It was as silent as a tomb as Legolas scrambled to his feet, turning with clenched fists toward the group standing silently before him. For a moment he didn't understand and then he looked backward, staring with growing fear and loathing at the sight of his benefactor laid out on the floor. Turning, he looked at the others and swallowed.
***Several minutes later ...
Glorfindel chuckled as he handed the cool wet cloth to his lord. Watching as Elrond gingerly applied it to his eye, he considered his words and how much teasing the dignity of the Lord of Imladris could handle at the moment. Erring on the side of caution, he sighed.
"Boys will be boys," he said.
Elrond removed the cloth and stared up at one of his oldest friends. "Speak for yourself. We were never that foolish."
"No," Glorfindel replied, sitting. "We were probably worse."
"I never struck my father," Elrond said, sighing deeply. "What has Galadriel and Celeborn gotten us into?"
"They have their reasons," Glorfindel replied. "Even if they are the only ones who know them."
Elrond rose and peered around the corner of the door discreetly. Three youngsters were sitting in three different chairs in his study, waiting for the ax to fall. He turned and walked back, sitting on the edge of his bed once more.
"I want to take a spoon to their bottoms but I doubt that would be the appropriate response to this sort of foolishness for boys that age."
"Probably," Glorfindel agreed with a smile. "I think King Thranduil would disapprove if you spanked his son."
"Thranduil ..." Elrond scowled and then winced. "I fear that we shall rue the day this little one came to our doorstep."
"You *would* have an open door policy," Glorfindel said, taking the cloth back. He peered at the dark bruise that was forming around Elrond's eye. "Your son packs a wallop."
"He does. My fault for teaching him how to fight."
"True," Glorfindel replied, sighing. "Physician, heal thyself."
Elrond chuckled and winced, rising and gathering his dignity around him. Walking to the door, he entered, three youngsters jumping up quickly as he appeared. They stood nervously, Elrohir's face a desolation.
"Well, well ..." Elrond sighed, staring at them with a stern expression of disapproval. "This is a fine way to begin a new alliance."
"I am sorry, Papa," Elrohir said, falling back on a more intimate form of salutation in his distress. "I didn't mean to hurt you."
"Then you meant to hurt someone else? Legolas perhaps?"
Elrohir glared at the youngster, who glared back as firmly.
"I would like to state that young Legolas is here in my household for a purpose and deserves by that status and that of his rank, respect."
A smile formed on Legolas' lips and Elrond was more than aware of it. He turned his formidable gaze toward the young prince, the smile falling from his lips like raindrops. "I also expect that a squire in my household will do their part in all things. It appears that there is baggage of yours in my hall. Since my sons carried some of it to your room, I suggest that you carry the rest. Unless of course you have some valid reason why it is undignified for a prince of the North Wood to carry baggage and it is not undignified for princes of Imladris to do the same."
Smiles flashed on Elladan and Elrohir's face until their father's gaze passed by and then returned to Legolas. His face was red but he lowered his eyes, moving to comply with Elrond's demand. When he left and was clomping up the stairs, Elladan moved forward, peering at his father's eye. Elrohir, ashamed and disgusted, held back.
"Are you not going to check the outcome of your labors?" Elrond asked, staring at his other son.
Elrohir looked at him miserably, blurting out emotionally his sorrows. "Are you never to forgive me?"
Elrond felt a smile form on his lips. "Are you never going to rise above petty bickering with a stranger to our household?"
"This is the first time!" Elrohir protested.
Elrond smiled. "Make it the last."
Elrohir sighed and nodded. "I am truly sorry, Papa."
"I know. That is why I don't find a big spoon."
Elladan smiled. "You'd have to catch us first."
Elrond arched an eyebrow, turning to the older of his sons. "And you don't think I can catch you?"
For a moment there was silence and then they laughed. "We know you can!" Elladan said, snickering.
On the staircase above them, a sad look on his face, Legolas watched. Silently, with a ragged sigh, he turned and walked back to his room alone.
**********Later that night ...
Dinner was a quiet affair, Legolas sandwiched between two visiting Elves from the Gray Havens. Ordinarily he would be dazzled at the idea of strangers at table bringing news from other places, so sheltered and isolated was his father's court but he was too homesick to care very much.
This was the longest time he had ever been away from home and it bothered him more than he had dreaded that it would. He had never been away from home, the confines of their kingdom and the company of one or both of his parents. He even missed his brothers, the older boys usually having little to do with the bright, handsome youngster that was such an afterthought to all their lives.
He had grown up close to his mother and idealizing his father, a man who was emotionally volatile but emotionally distant as well. He wanted to please his father more than he wanted to breathe sometimes and so he worked hard at the skills that his father would notice, most noteworthy his uncanny ability with a bow. He was among the finest natural archers in his entire kingdom, someone to pit the best against in tournaments.
This was something that his father admired in him and when he would compliment the boy, he would float in joy over it for days. Now his father was far away and he was here, living in the midst of the enemies of his family. His grandfather had suffered, the Noldor unworthy of his trust and he was stuck among them for a very long time.
Looking at the head of the table, sitting on his chair slightly raised above all others, he studied as best he could the comptroller of his fate. Lord Elrond of Rivendell, the Master of Imladris, the names didn't come easily to his mind. He was raised on another ethos regarding this place and these people and he felt surrounded and alone.
Elrond was tall, like all Elves were and his hair was long and dark. Dark hair was not commonly seen in his woods and so the idea of it was strange to him. Elrond had gray eyes and they seemed to pierce him when they looked at each other, dark eyes capable of drilling holes through his brain. It was almost as if the older man could read his mind and even though it was a possible thing among his kind, Legolas felt he could read every syllable, not the odd stray thought or the emotional landscape of the moment.
It made him feel naked and vulnerable and along with that, nervous. He usually wasn't nervous unless his brothers had provoked him and now he was, sweaty nervous, the kind you get before something terrible happens. Like at that moment. He reached for his glass and missed, knocking it over with his hand.
The glass tipped and red wine spilled, spreading like blood across the snow white cloth of the table. He watched it with dismay, his cheeks flushing with embarrassment as the eyes of all fixed upon it. He rose, his napkin falling and he stood helplessly.
Elrond noted his dismay and made a snap decision. Reaching out for his own glass, he bumped it and it tipped, falling over. He stared at it for a moment, drawing attention away from the suffering boy and sighed.
"Papa," Elrohir exclaimed with surprise. "You spilled your glass."
It was comical, the note of extreme surprise in his voice as he witnessed an event he had never seen before and before he could speak again, Elladan kicked him under the table. Elrond rose and took his napkin, placing it on the stain. He looked at Legolas, the darkly emotional eyes of the youngster upon him and he nodded.
Legolas looked around flustered and retrieved his napkin, imitating the great lord himself. Then all rose and they turned and walked out, moving to the balcony beyond. Elrond lingered, waiting for all to pass before turning to the laggardly boy moving as well. He took him by the arm and stopped him, looking into his face with kindly eyes.
"Thank you for not letting me be the only one to be clumsy tonight," he said louder than need be, squeezing Legolas' arm gently. He stepped aside and the astonished boy passed, moving onto the balcony to listen to the singing that was wafting up from the valley below.
Elrond watched him go and stop at the railing, staring into the soft night glittering with twinkling stars. Waterfalls filled the evening with beauty, both visually and melodically and they sat or stood, listening and watching for hours.
Legolas sat on the railing, unaware of the many admiring glances he drew, puzzling over the enigma of the lord of this realm. With a sigh, he gave himself over to the music of the night, one more reason to be homesick.