Title: The Switch

Author: Sivan Shemesh

Beta: rosethorn59

Disclaimer: Not mine. I just playing, honest.

Rate: T

Warning: AU, angst/humor.

Summary: Ever wonder how King Elessar knew what to do as a king? Looking at his childhood can tell a lot… poor Thranduil though.

Author's Note: Estel is only a boy, let's say 7... And he is very naughty, yet he has manners and curiosity like any other boy...

Just a reminder the story is AU.

Chapter 1: Greeting

Estel was on the way to Mirkwood in the company of Gandalf. He seemed at ease as he enjoyed the stories and the fireworks that the wizard played for him with his staff.

The boy was as curious as a cat, and wanted to hear more tales. He also wanted to know about everything that was beyond Imladris, although he was happy that his foster father gave him permission to travel to Mirkwood to see his friend.

"Gandalf," the boy called as he noticed the shadow that seemed to come from nowhere. "What is going on?"

The wizard stared at the boy curiously and then set his eyes upon Estel who looked at the coming shadow. He sighed heavily before answering the question.

"Estel, Mirkwood is alone as the enemies are around her; and the shadows are of Sauron who wishes to claim it..."

"But it is Legolas' home. I do not wish Legolas to lose his home to the evil..." Estel cut in.

"I know Estel, and believe me that the king is making efforts to not let the enemies conquer his homeland." Gandalf explained.

Gandalf noticed the boy's eyes still looked confused; and decided to change the subject to see him smile again.

"Are you enjoying the view?" Gandalf asked.

Estel did enjoy the beautiful view. He believed that Imladris was a very beautiful place as well; but it seemed that Mirkwood was even moreso despite the shadows, cold and lack of fresh air. He could feel the warmth of nature, and smell the sweet scent of flowers tingling in the air like a bird in flight.

Gandalf noticed Estel smiling and how calm he had become, so he poked him gently as he wanted an answer.

"Estel?" Gandalf asked.

"I think that Mirkwood is now the most beautiful place that I have ever seen, and I wish to be here longer than what father wants me to be," Estel replied. Then with a muttering voice, he ranted, "I do not think that two months in Mirkwood will be enough."

"But Estel, do you not think that Lord Elrond loves you and wishes that you were there, safe and sound, and unharmed? Sometimes you just need to use your time better. I also believe that 2 months are enough, as you will miss the twins fooling around, and perhaps Erestor's tales and language lessons. And don't forget Glorfindel's fighting lessons. You do know how much he enjoys teaching you."

Estel sighed and knew that the wizard was right. Although he already did.

Mirkwood's border...

"Do you think that the king will like me?" Estel asked after a long sigh. He wondered if Legolas' father would like him, even if he was human.

"I do not see any reason for him not to like you. If Legolas likes you as a friend, he will try his best to like you as well." Gandalf replied.

"But what if he does not like me? I am different as Lord Elrond told me. I am human and not an elf," Estel sneered.

Gandalf stared at the boy, understanding all the emotions that the boy was going through, and tried to ease the pain from Estel's heart. "You are human, though you forget that you have a heart of gold; and you have lots of friends despite the fact that you are from the race of men." Gandalf then turned to face Estel, "You are one of a kind Estel, and do not forget you were a son of a king, and you will become a king one day."

"I will be a king?" the light sparkled in Estel's gray eyes.

The wizard smiled and nodded to him.

"Try to befriend the king and learn about strategies, but do not lose hope. You will need to know about everything and you will have to care for your people but now is not the time. You are young, only a boy." Gandalf explained.

"Oh..." Estel only mumbled. `

Later on the next day they reached the palace. Estel seemed pleased to see Legolas standing near his father.

When he noticed the king, he frowned a little, not knowing how the king would react to him.

"Estel..." Legolas called as he walked toward him.

Estel could see something different in his friend's features. He could read him easily, as Legolas' blue eyes gave him away.

The boy wondered where the sad, and yet bittersweet, smile came from. He wished that he could do anything just to see his friend smiling at him. At the moment, though, he reminded himself, he still did not know how the king would react toward him.

Estel glanced up toward the wizard. It seemed to him that Gandalf read him easily, as he felt his shoulder gently squeezed.

"Go, Estel." Gandalf gave him a slight push.

Estel walked toward his friend and clasped his hands upon the elf's shoulder. Then all of a sudden, his worrisome thoughts left as he smiled at his friend; but that soon faded like the wind as he noticed the way that the king walked toward him without stopping.

He fearfully took a step back, and felt his heart stop; even though he knew that he should take a deep breath and face the king.

Then Thranduil took his son aside and spoke with him in quiet. Estel was worried for his friend.

When it was over, the king and his son walked closer toward him, and he could feel his heart racing like he was running after the twins in circles.

"Mellon?" Legolas asked in concern, not knowing if he should walk to his friend.

Estel gathered himself up, and took some breaths, before walking toward the king, and facing Thranduil's blue-green eyes.

"My name is Estel, King Thranduil..." the boy said with his firm and yet shaken voice. He quickly added, before the king could say anything to stop his courage, "I am proud to be your son's friend, and I love his companionship as he is the one and only best friend that I have ever had."

Thranduil sighed heavily before he knelt beside the boy to be at the same level with him.

"Estel, I hope that you can forgive a king as old as me," Thranduil started to say after a long sigh. "It has been awhile since my son has been on his own... my own past with humans was very difficult; and when Legolas told me about his best friend, I did not know that he was referring to you. I was not told that you were human, all I knew is that you were his best friend, the one that always kept the spirit in my son's blue eyes shining; and for that I need to thank you."

Thranduil then clapped his hands on the boy's shoulders.

"Ada?" Legolas came closer toward them, not knowing how to act, though his heart missed a beat before his father said anything.

"It is all right, my son. Everything is now settled," Thranduil told him. "Why don't you show him around; and the room that you helped me get ready for him?"

Legolas smiled and motioned to Estel to join him.

After both of them disappeared, Gandalf walked toward the king, and clapped one hand on the king's shoulder, while his other hand held his staff.

"Is there something wrong, Thranduil?" Gandalf asked him, as he saw the concern in the king's eyes.

"My son is not pleased with the way I am teaching him, nor of the way I am being a father to him, as well," Thranduil replied to the wizard.