Authors note at the top, urgh. Sorry about that.
For those who may be curious as to the whereabouts of my sequel to The Path we Walk, it is limping along but it is being written. You may thank Lindir's Ghost for this - without her constant support it would have been abandoned long ago. I truly don't know what I'd do without her faith in what has become a rather hefty undertaking! This is dedicated to her.
For anyone who hasn't read either of my multi chapter fics, these two OCs may not mean anything to you but you should be fine. To those of you who have: here's a shamelessly fluffy piece of history for the three friends. I hope you enjoy.
Deep within the elven realm known as Greenwood the Great there is a vast meadow that stretches as far as the sight of a man. The trees are a far distant shadow to north and south, east and west, and all that lies between is open to the sky.
It is summer, and the meadow is now waist high with grass and wildflowers. It is a riot of colour: sprays of white amongst the green, dapples of blue and wide spills of dancing red that bleed through gold. No single blink of the eye captures the same scene; no patch of colour matches another. All of it whispers and hushes in the warm breezes of summer, and the sun bruised scents mingle just the same. Insects hum and chirp from within the thick growth, birds dart and chatter in the skies and it seems deafening here amongst the gaudy display of the summer. It is amongst a wide splay of shorter golden flowers that two young elflings play.
They are small and delicate things; fine of feature and clean limbed, but they are strong and wild just as their kind are. Their hair is wind tangled and mussed – one head is russet red, and one is pale sunshine gold. The latter belongs to the smaller of the two, who is the prince of this wood.
They are fast through the grasses and flowers: they race and shout and call with the high, clear laughter of the very young. They are dusty and have somehow lost their boots, and there is an edge to their shouting and singing... it is sharp and wild: they are laegrim children. They are born of these endless woods just as any other forest creature; as welcome as the wolf and fox, bird and hare.
They are watched from a distance by a tall Sindarin warrior with serious eyes and a resigned air. He is attentive and watchful, but has the anxious eye of one who expects ill to occur at any moment and would give his left ear not to be the one watching for it.
There is an angry shout and a cry of rage, and the elf – whose name is Almárean – sighs and moves to see what has occurred this time.
The russet haired child, Idhren, looks guilty and the one with the golden head sits tending to a torn and bloodied knee. Any other child his age might weep, but not so the woodland prince. Almárean has only moments to note the wild flash of anger in those feral blue eyes before he is up and barrelling into Idhren with a yell of wrath. The older elfling is bigger, but the prince is swift and nimble. Idhren does not hold back for a moment and the two scuffle like wolf pups there in the dust.
Almárean takes a moment to look to the sky for strength, and wonders how he has vexed Lord Ionwë enough to punish him so. He has never known two friends to dislike one another so greatly, and to fight so often!
The laegrim are a mystery – as much as the stars and the moon are a mystery – and he does not believe that he will ever understand them. He hopes that he will not need to. He hopes that returning the Crown Prince of Mirkwood to his father with yet another bloodied nose might mean that he will be dismissed from his sudden and unexpected role as watcher. He will work in the stables or deploy southward if he must: an easier life can be had elsewhere… anyplace elsewhere.
He wades into the fray to separate the two brawling pups, and by the time he has them apart he has a scratched jaw and his own nose bleeds sluggishly… the latter a gift from the prince himself.
Anyplace elsewhere at all, he thinks fondly.
"Hurry Almárean or we will miss it!" cries a thin and young voice. A golden headed child tugs at one hand and an autumn red one the other, dragging him roughly through the trees so that his only hope is to avoid being tugged flat upon his face. They have returned back to the shelter of the trees for the night, although they return now to the edge of the meadow so that they may watch the sun setting.
"I am quite sure that should we miss it this night, the sun will set again tomorrow." He tells them. Both groan loudly, mutter something between them about how much of a dullard he is and what a burden the Sindar are, but they continue to drag him onward.
Once they reach the tree line the elflings sprawl upon the soft forest floor and drag him to the earth between them. He finds them both tucked up quite close, although with an air that suggests they do not need to or mean to. Both elflings fall silent and the prince – Legolas, his name – rests his head lightly upon the arm of his watcher.
Almárean – quite set aback by this first show of affection – is too distracted by the unfamiliar glow of warmth in his chest to see much of the riotous glory of the setting sun. It is golden and pink and purple above: vast paintbrush strokes swept carelessly, with sunshine gold and navy blue all in between. Residing in the forest such sunsets are not often seen: beyond the canopy the sky seems vast, and as such the end of the day is also vast.
"Will you truly tell Lord Ionwë that we had a disagreement again?" Idhren asks carefully. After such a long silence his voice sounds loud, even though he is intentionally quiet. Legolas looks up, interested in the answer. "He will be angry with us – angry indeed. He said that we might not be permitted to play with one another any longer should we continue to fight as we do."
"Then perhaps you should not fight."
The younger – Legolas – makes a noise as though this is ridiculous. The two share a secret glance that makes Almárean feel – once again – foolish and absurd, and he feels a flare of irritation that elflings so young are so able to make him feel this way.
"You could tell him that it was not a scuffle," Legolas suggests. "You could tell him that we fought a beast of some kind – a warg perhaps!"
It is Almárean's turn to bark a laugh, but the two are filled now with the tale. Their eyes flash and their voices ring out in how it would have happened: how brave they might have been and how skilled.
"Of course you saved us, Almárean," the prince tells him with a wild grin. The tale is no longer for Lord Ionwë; it is a sunset tale for firesides. "You are so brave: you would have fought off the beast and saved us both… although we might have helped a great deal."
"You are a hero!" Idhren laughs.
"Greater even than Gil Galad… or my adar!"
"Should a warg attack I have no doubt at all that it would turn tail and flee after just five minutes in your company," he tells them. It is quite the right thing to say and they smile in delight. Almárean thinks that perhaps they do not understand his meaning, but to be met with such approval makes something within him warm and burn again. It is a new feeling and he quite enjoys it, and so he does not upset them by clarifying.
"You believe me braver than Gil Galad?" he jests with a smile, and Legolas laughs delightedly in the way of the young. The tiny hellion nestles beneath his arm, fitting perfectly, and Almárean is unsure for a moment how he should react before resting his arm about the child. He feels so small and fragile, so important.
"I never met Gil Galad," Legolas says. "So I am safe in saying 'aye', and it not be an untruth."
Almárean is taken for a moment how much like his father the child sounds.
"Perhaps I will tell Lord Ionwë that you did not fight, although no reason so far-fetched. You are to say nothing on it, but I think perhaps Lord Ionwë frightens me as well."
Again, it is the right thing to say. Legolas beams and Idhren now also tucks himself quite casually beneath the other arm.
Almárean sits in silence with the two elflings warm and nestled against him. He smells the forest in summer; he watches a riotous and glorious sunset and thinks that perhaps this is not the most arduous of duties. Perhaps there is a thing to be said for watching these elflings – laegrim as they are and so unfathomably strange. He realises his doom with sinking resignation, because any intent that he had toward unleashing them upon another is well and truly gone with the sun.
'Valar aid me', he thinks, 'for I am truly lost'.
As always, reviews keep me writing. It's the only payment I get for a very odd and demanding hobby, and I love to know that you're out there and (hopefully) enjoying what I've written.
Have a wonderful day.