Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, save the plot.

Rating: PG 13 for scenes of battle violence and adolescent angst.

Summary: To all, the prince of Mirkwood was Beloved. But to the lone Warden of Lorien, he was a nightmare incarnate.

Author'sNote: Finally, a story of Legolas and Haldir – a standalone, yes, but a backdrop to my ongoing Road to Redemption series. I am attempting a change in style (again), so bear with me – and thank you in advance for reviews. Wink.

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By Kasmi Kassim

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Golden Sun, Silver Moon

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Prologue: The Coming of the Sun

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"I found out why the guard rota is on hold this month," Rumil announced. "The prince is coming for a visit."

Haldir coughed up his food, causing Orophin to jerk away. Haldir recovered with only shreds of his dignity. "Who?"

"Well, there is only one prince officially left on Arda." Rumil smiled. "This is delicious, Haldir. One thing I hate about patrol is that you never have time to cook. Orophin's cooking is so bland."

Orophin threw a dirty look. "You don't even cook."

Rumil's smile widened. "You and Haldir decided it was better that way."

Orophin's grumbles were lost on Haldir, who rose to his feet. Having guests was one thing, but shifting the patrol rota was another. He would need to see the Lord and Lady about this.

Although a part of him whispered that he already knew. He pushed that thought down.

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His premonitions reared its ugly head when he ran into a messenger sent to summon him. The dread took form as despair when he saw the Lord and Lady waiting for him with a smile. He murmured his greetings distractedly.

"Thranduil sends his regards." Celeborn was not one to waste words. "He could not come himself, but Legolas wished to return. He had fond memories of our woods from his last visit, it seems."

Haldir remembered that visit. It was a brief show, set up to secure the recent ties between the two realms. Haldir had been away from Lorien at that time, and it was no accident.

But he had heard enough. Apprehension between the two realms had dissolved in the face of a round-eyed elfling, he was told. Old feuds were forgotten, new friendships forged; nursemaids whispered about a possible future match between a woodland prince and a dark-eyed evenstar. The little prince had the gentleness of his mother, the mischievous vivacity of his father – he should have been there to see –

Haldir prayed he would never have to see.

But the Valar were intent on ignoring his prayers. Thranduil's message requested that Haldir himself keep an eye on his son this time. Haldir nodded mutely as the Lord and Lady announced the prince to be his charge.

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"In other words, babysitting." Sometimes, Rumil was endearingly tactless.

Haldir returned to staring into the pond. Child prodigy he may be, but beyond sulking he was not.

"Orophin and I will also be around, at least until our next patrol," offered Rumil, crouching next to Haldir. An impassive face stared back through the reflective waters. Rumil sighed. "You could ask to be relieved, you know. The Lord and Lady would understand."

Haldir smiled a little. So sympathetic. Sweet Rumil.

Shaking his head, he straightened. He owed it to Thranduil, and her. As if reading his thoughts, Rumil also climbed to his feet. "I miss her," he murmured.

Haldir missed her too. But Rumil did not need to hear that. "They should be here soon," he said instead. He disappeared into the trees above.

Rumil watched after his brother. In truth, he was just as lost as Haldir. His memories were sketchy at best, and with Haldir in such a mood, he was left with no guidance. And before they could straighten out uncertain hopes and lingering aches, they were to face the very presence that threatened to shake the ground beneath their feet. He hoped Haldir would be temperate to the prince during the month of his stay – after all, he was famously cool and collected in the direst of moments.

But Rumil felt that his wishes would be in vain. He knew Haldir.

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The entourage was led by a crown of yellow hair. Sunlight flitted through green leaves, casting wondrous shadows upon the sparkling smile of the young adolescent who rode at the lead. The sun shifted, casting shards of light into Haldir's eyes.

Dear Valar.

Orophin stared openly, and Rumil stood very still. Haldir held his breath.

The entourage slowed to a halt. Haldir bowed. "Well met, my lords. Welcome to Lothlorien."

The young elf bowed in return. "You have my gratitude," he said. Bright eyes looked up to see three brothers leading the escort. They danced with delight, refracting the dazzling rays of the sun. Haldir felt faint. He averted his gaze with a dry swallow.

"I am Haldir, Warden of Lorien." Haldir gestured to his brothers. "These are my brothers, Rumil and Orophin." Both of the younger elves bowed, Orophin managing to continue his staring.

If possible, the happy smile on the youth's face brightened further. "My lord Haldir," he said. "I am Legolas Thranduilion. A star shines upon the hour of our meeting."

Time ceased to whirr against his brain; Haldir's heart scorched. With no answer, he simply bowed in silence.

A star indeed did shine upon their hour of meeting. But whether it was the gentle vigil of the heavens or an ill-fated star, he could not tell.

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To Be Continued