Elrond Peredhel, along with his twin sons Elladan and Elrohir, were riding through the forest of Greenwood. The Lord of Imladris did not necessarily want to be there, but there were certain duties that must be maintained, and—unfortunately—politics was one of them. It had been a long time since he had visited the realm of Thranduil, at least two hundred years—though, most likely more, but Elrond didn't really want to dwell on that overmuch—and yes, he knew that he should have come when Thranduil's son was born—he had actually been asked to come for his healing skills. And he knew that he should have paid the King a visit when his wife left for the Blessed Realm, but he had his reasons!
For one, whenever he and King Thranduil stayed near each other overlong, they had such arguments! And usually it was Elrond who was being blamed and yelled at! So obviously he was not going to be the healer overseeing the birth of the Prince—what if there was a complication? What would that do for the relations between Rivendell and Greenwood? Certainly nothing good, Elrond was sure! As for not visiting after the departure of the Queen… well, to him it was fairly obvious: Thranduil would be grieving. When that elf was in great sorrow, he tended to lash out—from what Elrond had seen anyway, but seeing as he was not actually present to witness how the King took it, he did not actually know. Elrond would be the one Thranduil would lash out at! What would that do for the relations between Rivendell and Greenwood?!
So really, by staying away, Elrond was being political, strategic even. He made a strategic retreat.
… That was what he told himself anyway; the only thing he was doing was procrastinating. And what is so wrong with that? Elrond would ask himself whenever the delusions he placed himself under came down in a moment of weakness. That elf is impossible!
Elrond would not have come if not for the nagging of his wife. Then of course, his sons had to come, because they had never been to Greenwood, never seen the King, never met the Prince, etcetera. It had quite honestly gotten rather tiring, and slowly the Lord of Imladris had run out of excuses to not go, and when he had been reading a very interesting book with a half empty goblet of spiced wine beside him, Celebrian had pounced. Before Elrond knew what was happening, he had already agreed to go to the realm of the Wood-elves! And then he somehow got talked into taking his twin sons! It was going to be an exhausting diplomatic visit.
"Are we close, ada?" Elrohir—you could tell it was him because his right eyebrow was always a little bit raised, while Elladan only raised an eyebrow if he was mocking you—asked.
"Yes, I believe so." Truthfully, he was not that sure and he wasn't paying much attention. There was no need to, because Thranduil was expecting them—Elrond had sent a letter—so he would have one of his people come and retrieve them.
"What is the Princes name ada?"
"…I do not know."
Elladan turned to his father with a faux shocked face, one eyebrow raised. "Why ada, how could you have been so careless? So irresponsible? Whatever shall we do when we meet the Prince? Say, 'Oh, pardon me, but not only have I been avoiding your Father-King—not to mention the entire realm of Greenwood—for hundreds of years—before your birth—but I have also not deigned to learn the name of the Crown Prince. I am ever so sorry.' Is that the impression you want to give ada?"
Elrond groaned. Elrohir was more likely to make fun, but when Elladan did, it always had so much more bite. It was usually true too. Elrond thought back to the letter he had received long ago from Thranduil. It had said what he and his wife had named their child, but at the time the Lord of Imladris had been a bit hurried over something and had only skimmed it. He regretted that now. "Daro! Daro, saes. It will most likely not matter what impression we give." (Stop! Stop, please.)
"Why?" Elrohir asked.
"If he is anything like his father, he will frown at us for the duration of our stay, and make subtly insulting comments." Elrond frowned at himself; he did not like having to say these things, but his sons were still young and they needed to be prepared. "Do not feel offended if you do not get along with him."
"You do not even know him ada!"
Before Elrond could reply, an elf dropped down from a fir tree right in front of them. He placed a hand on his chest and bowed just slightly above the waist. "Mae govannen, my Lords. Welcome to Greenwood." (Well met.)
Elrond got over his slight surprise fast. "Mae govannen. Am I to assume that you will be escorting us from here on?"
"You are. My name is Legolas." The elf smiled
After the group of three had introduced themselves in turn, they went on, with Legolas on foot and the Rivendell elves on their horses. Elrond found himself observing their guide as he talked with Elrohir and Elladan as if they had not just met. Legolas had white-blond hair, keen and clear blue eyes, and a smiling mouth. He wore garb that would be ideal for vanishing into the forest within a moment's notice: tunic and leggings of green and brown. He had a quiver on his back, bow in his hand, and a sheathed white knife at his belt. Elrond thought that he should know him from somewhere.
When Elladan and Elrohir gasped Elrond looked up and saw that they had made it to the dwellings of the Wood-elves. The structure was carved into the mountain itself, and it was magnificent. There were many rooms that were underground, but the Wood-elves did not have it in them to dwell wholly in the ground, so there were many open rooms under the sky. Trees grew in the courtyards and vines wrapped around walls and pillars. Elrond knew that his sons had thought that this realm would be similar to Lothlorien because it was in a forest, or maybe even like Rivendell, using the mountains to create houses. They had never really thought that it would be completely unique to itself.
"Beautiful, is it not?" Legolas looked at his home with love and pride as he asked this. "Now I will take you to the King. He is very happy that you have decided to visit Lord Elrond, after all this time." He stared at Elrond with penetrating blue eyes that looked far too knowing for comfort, and once again the Lord of Imladris felt that this new elf was familiar, but he was sure that he had never met any elf named Legolas.
They got to the entrance to Thrandul's palace, and found the King himself waiting for them in front of the doors. The three foreign elves dismounted from their horses and bowed to the waist, along with their guide. Thranduil nodded his head in acknowledgement, and looked to Legolas, "My—"
Legolas cut him off with a shark shake of his head and stepped up to his King. He leaned over to whisper into Thranduil's ear, so quiet that their guests could hear nothing. Thranduil didn't display his emotions very openly, but Elrond—who was slightly shocked that Thranduil tolerated being cut off by one of his subjects—could pick out the range of feelings in his eyes. At first the King was confused, then angry, then exasperated, but finally he seemed accepting—maybe a bit excited. He had a glint in his eye that was evil that matched Legolas' and it made Elrond nervous. He had seen his sons when they were anticipating a prank. This was remarkably similar.
Thranduil smiled slow and menacing-like after Legolas finished and backed away. "Elrond, it is, as always, a pleasure." The King said formally. "Why not let your sons go exploring with Legolas while we catch up."
"Very well." Elrond was a bit reluctant; his sons always seemed to get into trouble when without supervision, but at least Legolas—who would know his way around—would be there and hopefully keep them out of highly dangerous situations. "What of your son?"
All expression was wiped clean from Legolas' face—this made Elrond think that the guide had ill feelings toward his Prince, but was careful not to show his King. Thranduil smiled. "Oh, my son will be busy until supper." He said this in a careless way, but Elrohir and Elladan knew that though there was no mocking nor insult, the King was amusing himself at the expense of their father—they used the same tone often enough to recognize it. Elrond, unfortunately, never even knew what it meant when his sons used this tone, so he did not pay much attention to it. No, what Elrond was nervous about was that he did not know the Princes name yet; he had hoped that Thranduil would mention it. This was not his lucky day.
"Come Elladan, Elrohir. I will show you to the Queen's garden." Legolas gently steered the twins away from the two elder elves.
This left Thranduil and Elrond in uncomfortable silence, though the King did not seem bothered. They ended up in Thranduil's study eating a light lunch, and 'catching up.'
"How is your wife?" Thranduil asked politely.
"Celebrian is doing very well. The birth of our daughter was not nearly as trying as that of the twins." Elrond was hoping that Thranduil would not know the name of his daughter, and would be forced to ask. That would make it less embarrassing for him.
"Ah yes. Arwen, isn't it?" Elrond almost groaned. The King was doing this on purpose just to feel superior, he just knew it. "You must excuse me for not being there for her birth. Though I wished to very much please the Lady Celebrian with an acceptance, I could not. My son was injured at the time." Elrond had not even known that Thranduil had been invited.
"And how is the Prince doing?" Elrond did his very best not to sound eager or hopeful. He only wanted to know the name!
"He is doing very well. He is one of our finest archers, and there is little doubt that he will become the finest in our realm in the upcoming years. He is much like his mother; very in tune with the forest. When he was an elfling, he used to climb out his window onto the tree closest and sleep—he did not run away, but it frightened my wife much the first time she went into his room in the morn and he was absent." Thranduil smiled in an affectionate way, and Elrond suddenly had a thought that did not sit entirely well.
It had not occurred to Elrond that Thranduil would have changed when he had a child. It had not occurred to him that maybe Thranduil would take the leaving of his beloved wife with understandable sadness but not consuming grief that would turn to rage. It seemed that he had taken it with more grace than expected, and if Elrond had to guess, it was his love and the returned love of his child that kept him from a worse state. If only Elrond knew the child's name!
They continued on like this for some time, then went for a walk. They bumped into Legolas and the twins, where Legolas split from the whole group. Elrond noticed that his sons now had that strange glint in their eyes as Legolas and Thranduil, and this made him further nervous. What was going on? Thranduil got to know Elladan and Elrohir, and all conversation had just lulled when a servant came and informed them that supper was ready.
"Where is your son, Thranduil?" Elrond thought he would make one last attempt.
"Do not trouble yourself; he will be here soon."
The four were just sitting themselves down at a medium sized dining table when the door to the room opened and the Prince was admitted. The Prince wore slightly formal garb of silver with green embroidery—though it still looked comfortable—and a plain silver circlet on his brow. His hair was flowing besides his warrior braids, and he walked with the grace that all elves seemed to have, except more regally. He was free of his bow and knife. It was Legolas.
"Ion nin, come sit." Thranduil beckoned to the seat next to him. "I do not believe you have had a proper introduction with Lord Elrond yet."
Legolas turned to the Lord of Imladris and smiled. He was quite entertained by the Lord's expression. His jaw was slightly dropped, his lips parted with surprise, and his eyes were rounder then they ought to be. The twins were almost in hysterics—they had been told by Legolas earlier exactly who he was and what he had planned. "Lord Elrond." Legolas bowed, but it was not as deep as the one he had given when they first met in the woods—he was a Prince after all, and they were practically equals.
"You're not much like your father are you?" This was the first thing that came out of Elrond.
"What, precisely, do you mean by that?" Asked Thranduil with hard eyes.
Elrond looked to an attending servant. "Some wine, if you please? The strongest you have."
What Legolas whispered to his father: "I was eavesdropping on our guests, and apparently Lord Elrond has forgotten or did not try to remember my name. I did not tell them who I was. I thought that for dinner, we could make it a 'surprise'. All you have to do is avoid saying my name; no doubt Lord Elrond will try to subtly find out from you, then pretend he knew all along. Do you not want to see his face, adar, when he finds out that I—who was previously just a mere warrior—am actually your son?"