Disclaimer: I own nothing in this marvelous universe; it all belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson.

Reviewers:All 32 of you, thank you!

Author's Note: Having finally seen The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug this past weekend, and, at long last, received a glimpse of Legolas before he ever joined the Fellowship, I felt it necessary to post my next chapter to this fic ::grins::. Not really sure how I feel about Legolas's personality in that film—it's somewhat (rather) different than the one we were introduced to in LotR. So I am keeping his personality as close to the LotR one as possible in this (and other) fic. I hope you enjoy this!

Rating: T

Summary: Seven years have passed since Legolas has visited Imladris. Now he returns, no longer the Elf he was, but the tiny Human child he meets there may just be the key to his healing…(Moviebased. Slightly Bookbased. Friendship and Family fic more than anything.)

"Westron (Common Speech)"

'Sindarin (Elvish)'

Memories/Thoughts (Italics)

.:Eskimo Kisses:.

By Sentimental Star

Chapter Two: First Steps

An uproar roused the whole of Imladris the next morning. Shouts and running footsteps outside his chamber door woke Legolas an hour after the sun had risen, as did the confusion of high, lilting voices calling repeatedly for 'Estel!'

In all the chaos, the Last Homely House's occupants had quite forgotten they had a guest under their roof—understandable, considering Legolas had long been a friend of the twins, and therefore was more family than guest. Seven years had passed, and Legolas himself had changed, but that had not.

Groggy, at first only recognizing this to be Imladris, the young Crown Prince slowly blinked heavy eyelids open, wondering vaguely if he were here on a visit.

A soft sigh beside him, though, shed a bit more light on the situation. A young Edan child slept soundly at his side, dark, tangled bangs fluttering with every breath he released.

Legolas's throat seized, Tithen pen…oh, hen…you are worth your weight in mithril, and so, so much more.

A moment later, as the controlled pandemonium outside his door filtered into the bedroom, the child breathed in deeply and his silver orbs fluttered open.

Legolas smiled tenderly into them, slightly worried the child initially would not realize whom he lay with or recognize the room he had slept in, 'Quel amrun, tithen mellon,' he murmured, hoping to put the boy at ease. 'I trust you slept well?'

The wide grin that split the young Dúnadan's face completely contradicted the prince's concerns, 'Your eyes are not so dark anymore!' he chirruped happily.

Legolas's eyes burned. Curling around the child at his side, the Silvan Elf hugged him fiercely, repeating the boy's actions from the previous night: namely, rubbing his nose against the Human's tiny one and deeply inhaling the child's sweet scent as he committed it to memory.

Estel squealed softly, delighted at being cuddled. 'Ada does that!' he laughed.

A brief smile—so very brief—flitted across the prince's countenance, 'Indeed,' he murmured, 'I do not see how he can resist.'

At that moment, a slightly louder cry of 'Estel!' reached the ears of the child and the prince.

In confusion, the boy glanced at the door. Didn't he just hear his name?

Seeing his puzzlement, but as he had never learned the child's name, unable to understand the other Elves were calling for him, Legolas suggested, 'Why don't we find Lord Elrond, penneth? Mayhap he can tell us what this is all about.'

Pushing back the covers, Legolas slipped cautiously out of the bed and onto his feet, turning to face the boy as the child sat up.

Cradling Celebgil in the crook of one elbow, Estel held out both of his arms to the prince—a clear demand to be picked up.

Startled, Legolas chuckled a bit and did as he was bid. As soon as he had been lifted into the Wood-Elf's arms, the boy snuggled back against the prince.

Concerned, Legolas glanced down at him, 'Are you sleepy still, tithen pen?'

The small Dúnadan shook his head against the Firstborn's shoulder and smiled up at him, 'Not really. You're just comfortable.'

Legolas laughed uncertainly, 'Am I?'

The boy frowned slightly, and gave a decisive nod, shifting to fiddle with one of the Wood-Elf's buttons, 'Maybe even more than 'Dan and 'Ro.'

Smiling wanly, Legolas gave the child a gentle squeeze and headed towards the door of his guest chambers. 'Are they your brothers?'

Another nod, this one slightly shyer; Legolas shook his head, deciding not to comment on it.

As they passed the mirror, Legolas paused and glanced in. Smiling slightly as he noticed the child watching him quietly via their reflection, the Woodland Elf leaned down to meet his eyes, 'What are you thinking about, penneth?'

Estel said nothing in response, turning and reaching up with a tiny hand to brush a piece of the Firstborn's golden hair in place behind his ear.

A small grin twitched the prince's lips, 'Hannon-lle, tithen mellon, I should not wish to greet Lord Elrond with messy hair.' On an afterthought he added, 'Or in a sleeping tunic.'

Little shoulders shrugged, and small hands curled gently around Legolas's neck, 'I don't think he'll be mad.'

Legolas eyed the child bemusedly. 'I should certainly hope not,' he managed with a flitting smile.

The boy gazed up at him openly, and stated with the all the unreserved faith of a babe, 'I know he won't.'

The prince blinked. 'Had I not known any better, penneth, I would say that Lord Elrond is your adar,' he murmured.

Utter confusion creased the child's face. Before Legolas could ask, or the boy could respond, another cry tore through the air, 'Estel!'

Prince and child abruptly jerked around, completely startled. That shout had been right outside Legolas's room, and sounded remarkably like Erestor, Lord Elrond's Advisor.

Mirkwood's Crown Prince glanced down at the boy, wearing more of a smile than he had in months, 'Let's find out what this is all about, penneth.'

IOIOIOIOIOI

'Much better!' the small Dúnadan declared fifteen minutes later once Legolas was done. Tiny fingers lightly touched the prince's rebraided hair.

The response evoked a sort of half-laugh. 'Indeed.'

The child's bright expression dimmed a little. Before Legolas really understood what was happening, those small, strong arms wound tightly around his neck again.

Turning so that his cheek rested against the boy's forehead, the Silvan Elf murmured, 'Tithen pen?'

A tiny hand lightly touched his neck, resting softly against the skin there. 'May we go find Ada now?' the child whispered.

'Of course,' Legolas swiftly gathered the boy up in his arms, lifting him carefully up off the chest of drawers where he had set him.

As the warm little flame of life in his arms curled comfortably into his body, a faint smile touched Legolas's lips as he tenderly eyed the child, 'Do not sleep just yet, penneth. I will need your help if I am to find your adar.'

It won him a pout as the small Dúnadan sat up straighter in his hold, 'I'm not sleepy!'

'Of course you're not,' Legolas agreed graciously, hiding the twitch of his lips against the boy's forehead.

He therefore did not see the small grin the child himself hid in his green tunic as he felt their movement.

'Shall we find out what this ruckus is about, hen? Mayhap your Ada will be able to help us.'

The boy nodded seriously, reaching up to touch the prince's braid again. Another tiny smile flitted across his lips as he gazed up at the Elf above him, 'Yes, I think so, too.'

IOIOIOIOIOI

For all the cries of 'Estel!' and rapid tread of footsteps that echoed in the further recesses of the Last Homely House, the corridors Elf and Edan traversed were remarkably empty.

'I should like to meet this 'Estel,'' Legolas murmured thoughtfully, as they proceeded to step into yet another empty corridor. 'Whoever they are, surely they must be important…for Lord Elrond to have the whole of Imladris turned out like this.'

The child frowned up at him, brow furrowing in confusion, 'But I'm-'

Whoever he was, however, never made it past his lips, for at that moment his carrier cried out sharply is surprise, stumbling slightly, as they collided with another coming around a blind corner (for the Human, anyway).

'Hîr-nin…! I am so sorry!'

Legolas found himself blinking at a dark-haired Silvan Elf he vaguely recalled having seen visit Mirkwood once or twice. For all he tried and searched and attempted to remember, he could not conjure up the hunter's name—just that he was a hunter, and a tremendously successful one, at that.

The prince waved him off, trying to steady his spinning head, 'No…no, 'tis fine. I am all right.'

The hunter frowned, studying his face intently, 'Forgive me, my Prince, but you do not look it.'

Legolas forced a smile to the forefront, 'I am well, mellon-nin. Please do not trouble yourself on my account.'

Small arms suddenly slid back around his neck and gave a tight squeeze. The Wood Elf caught just the briefest flash of surprise melding into something darker in the hunter's blue eyes, before he glanced down at the Dúnadan child he still cradled to his chest, 'How fare you, penneth? I apologize if I jostled you.'

' 'M okay,' the boy murmured, half-burying himself against Legolas's chest. The arms around the prince's neck tightened.

The Sindar's eyebrows snapped together at the unexpectedly timid response, Why so shy suddenly, tithen pen?

'Shall I…relieve you…of your burden, hîr-nin?'

The hunter's voice broke into his thoughts, and Legolas jerked his head up, unable to prevent a frown from creasing his brow, 'He is fine where he is, mellon, and no burden would I be more willing to carry. Indeed, 'tis hardly a burden at all.'

The moment those words passed Legolas's lips, he felt them ring true. This child, selfless, innocent, good as he had been for the prince's shattered heart had, somewhere in the midst the dark evening since passed, become absolutely vital to his continued existence on this plane.

He bowed, suddenly unable to leave this other Elf's presence soon enough, and swiftly sidestepped the hunter, 'Please excuse us; I should not like to be late for my counsel with Lord Elrond.'

There was no counsel. Not really. But the tightening of the small Dúnadan's arms seemed to indicate the child fully agreed with his need to leave this ellon's presence as quickly as possible.

'I would not bother, were I you, my Prince,' the hunter's voice rang out down the hall behind them as they made a hasty exit, 'my Lord is beside himself with worry over an errant child who does not care to inform him of his whereabouts.'

Legolas surprised himself (and the child in his arms, if the boy's stiffening posture were any indication) by whipping around with a vicious snarl halfway through his lips.

The hunter, however, had already disappeared around the corner, out of sight.

For a few moments nothing rang in that hall except the other Elf's quietly retreating footsteps. Then the boy relaxed imperceptibly, apparently no longer able to hear them. Feeling the small body go lax in his arms, Legolas forced his own body into some form of submission, too.

'Who was that?' he asked the child softly, when he felt he could speak without growling.

The little boy shivered, 'Someone who does not like me,' he murmured.

Legolas blinked, and frowned severely at the empty corridor behind them, before turning down a full-blown, honestly gorgeous smile at the Dúnadan he cradled. 'Then 'tis to his great misfortune that he does not.'

End Chapter (TBC)

Sindarin (Elvish) Translations:

Estel: Hope (Lord Elrond gave this name to Aragorn when he was little to protect him.)

Edan: Human

Tithen pen: Little one

Hen: Child

Quel amrun, tithen mellon: Good morning, little friend.

Ada: Papa

Adar: Father

Penneth: Young one

Hannon-lle, tithen mellon: Thank you, little friend.

Hîr-nin: My Lord

Mellon-nin: My friend

Mellon: Friend