Queen Lairiel of the Woodland Realm, walked soundlessly through the forest of her home. Upon her brow was a circlet of twined leaves, of golden hues, reds and deep purples, that extenuated her long, flowing, sun coloured hair. She was tall and pale as the stars, her eyes were an ice blue, keen and alert and sparkled with life every time she laughed or sang.
She wore an outer coat of deep, forest green, with a high collar and its hems were long and trailed to the ground behind her, It buttoned to her waist were it tapered to reveal a dress of shimmering silver. She went bare foot and silently, and about her throat was clasped a glowing, amber stone, held by a beautiful golden chain.
This stone was said to hold the enchanted sap of the great trees of the valar, that grew in the undying lands. It was said that those that held it could evoke the protection of the natural world. Those that possessed the stone were gifted in the hearing of the whispers of trees, and could revive and restore the natural woodland in which they dwelt. This was Lairiel's bloodline, the stone belonged to her kin and had been passed down the generations all the way from her teleri ancestors. Though her powers were only a shadow of Queen Melian, nor could they match that of the Lady Galadriel, they were however, enough to help her people rest easier, among the trees of their Greenwood home.
Yes, it was true that Greenwood the Great had fallen under a dark curse, a shadow grew in the south, striking the great forest with a black sickness that choked the goodness from its very roots. The men of middle earth now called it Mirkwood and feared to journey through it. The power of her people only held the darkness at bay, but Lairiel still held hope that one day she would see her home restored, if not for her and her husband, then for her children.
A smiled stretched across her face as the thoughts of her two children, warmed her and lifted her spirits. Legolas her handsome and strong son, was her eldest. Bright as a button and sharp as a fox, his boundless energy and insatiable curiosity, kept her entertained. Though his thrist for adventure and increasing skill for combat worried her deeply, his skill with a bow was becoming quickly renowned and he spent much time honing his skill and training diligently, it did not help that his Father encouraged this. She sighed, and was grateful that his personality matched hers, optimistic and ever cheerful, he was hard to discourage, though sometimes arrogant and more than a little proud. She shook her head and lingered over the happy memories of her son's youth, he was growing fast and soon would braid his hair and take on the responsibilities of a warrior and serving his King and people. She sighed deeply, for now though he was still her little boy, innocent and uncorrupted by the world.
As the Queen turned a corner, her attention focused on two familiar figures not but a few metres from her, she broke into a dazzling smile. Her husband, King Thranduil, stood at the base of an oak, in his arms he rocked their daughter, Ellenya. She was still a young elfling, but Lairiel noted each day how her features shifted ever so gently from childlike to youthful, soon she would be too old to enjoy being carried by her parents.
Ellenya was beautiful and enchanting, her misty, blue eyes held a dream like quality that matched her Fathers. The opposite of her brother, she was a somber child and her thoughts ran deep. Her imagination was vivid and Lairiel had spent many a day fighting dragons and finding hidden treasures in secret worlds, with her daughter. But Lairiel did worry that Ellenya struggled to show emotion and like her Father she was stubborn and quick tempered, qualities that were not at all ladylike, it would be a hard road to teach Ellenya to be an endearing princess. However Ellenya was magnetic and held the attention of her peers, daring to be different, she would make a strong leader, that Lairiel was sure of.
Ellenya noticing her mother presence, stretched her slender hand and waved, a welcoming smile spread across her young face. Lairiel waved back and quickly closed the gap between herself and her husband and child. King Thranduil held out his free hand and quickly entwined his fingers through Lairiel's, bringing her close enough so that their bodies touched, he smiled gently at his beautiful wife, his one love, everytime he looked upon her he felt truly blessed, for she had given him more than he could ever wish of asking for, her love and his two wonderful children greatest among them.
"What are you doing my little star?" Lairiel asked her daughter, who had now turned her attention back to the oak tree they stood under and was squirming and stretching in her Fathers arms, Thranduil sighed and let go of his wife's hands to support his daughters torso as she made for a particular leaf of interest high in the tree's branches.
"Careful child!" Thranduil frowned, as he steadied his daughter, "Will any other leaf do?" he dared to ask. This was met by an adorable roll of the eyes and further squirming from his Daughter. "I'll take that as no?" Thranduil murmured and eyed his wife knowingly, making Lairiel giggle.
"This is probably a very special leaf, Ada," Lairiel explained, patting her daughter gently on the back, "Isn't that right my darling?"
Ellenya stopped squirming and nodded, "It is perfect, perfectly, perfect, just right for my surprise."
"Your surprise? Why is there a surprise? Lairiel asked, Ellenya grinned an impish grin, "That is a secret, Nanneth." Lairiel narrowed her eyes, directing her curiosity at her husband, "What are you's two hiding?"
Thranduil laughed, "I'm sorry my love, but I have been sworn to a mission of absolute secrecy, and confidence cannot be broken, isn't that right my little star?" He jostled Ellenya in his arms, making her giggle, as she play wrestled her Ada.
"Well if that is the case, then the best leaf in the forest must be captured!" Lairiel exclaimed, dramatically waving her arms. Ellenya clearly delighted with the attention her little expedition had gained, nodded enthusiastically at her Nanneth. Lairiel paced slowly, rubbing her chin with her thumb and fore finger thoughtfully, "But how will we reach this most perfect of leaves, it is so very high?" she asked.
"WE CLIMB!" Ellenya shouted, Lairiel nodded excitedly in agreement.
"NO!" Thranduil balked, "It's too high for you!" He threw his wife an exasperated look, surely she wasn't suggesting that! Lairiel did nothing but smile serenely and added solemnly "That is true Ellenya it is much too high for you and I," disappointment marred the elflings features, but Lairiel continued; "What we need is a courageous elf, capable of scaling such a high tree…hmmm…he would need to be very strong and nimble, wouldn't he Ellenya?"
"Yes!" chirped Ellenya, struggling down from the King's arms and dancing to her mothers side, "and strong and quick, in case he was spotted by a horrible orc, or spider!" the elfling added, hoping from one foot to the other. Thranduil sighed, he knew were this was going and he had a sneaking suspicion he would end up having to climb a tree, unless some minor miracle transpired.
"But who?" Lairiel threw up her arms in mock exasperation, Ellenya brow furrowed in concentration, the sight made Lairiel chuckle, how adorable the small frown lines looked, etched on her daughters fair face. She glanced at her husband who looked a little put out that his name hadn't been the first to pop into his daugthers head when a "courageous, strong elf," was mentioned.
"Well," Ellenya spoke very seriously, "since Legolas is not here, it is going to have to be you Ada!" she folded her arms, happy with her decision. Thranduil's eyebrows raised dramatically, as Lairiel let out a loud peal of laughter, before gliding to her husbands side and wrapping her arms around his waist, "Yes darling since Legolas isn't here the responsibility falls to you, can you accept this challenge?"
Thranduil eyed his wife, "I think I can manage," he muttered, Lairiel grinned and stole a quick kiss before adding "Our hero!" Thranduil rolled his eyes and strode toward his daughter and kneeling down.
"Which one then?" he asked
"That one, the one on the thin branch near the top," she pointed somewhere in the direction to a small cluster leaves on relatively thin branches. Thranduil groaned, maybe he wasn't quite up to this challenge, he didn't even know which leaf was the perfect one. Sometimes he felt Lairiel indulged their daughters imagination too much. Sensing her father's uncertainty, Ellenya sighed, "Maybe I should just wait on Legolas?"
"No! No!" Thranduil defended himself, "I'm just unsure which leaf is the perfect on?" he added diplomatically, to this Ellenya blew out a long sigh, "Okay, Ada I'm just going to wait on Legolas." Thranduil grimaced, he was very bad at these games, It seemed to be something Lairiel was just naturally good at, he envieied this.
"Alright Ellenya, we'll just wait on your brother." Thranduil agreed, accepting defeat.
Ellenya kicked a pile of leaves and whined, "It's going to take ages and ages, I'll never finish Nanneths gift by tonight," Ellenya yelped and covered he mouth realising she had said too much.
Lairiel eyed her daughter, "So this is what all the fuss is about?"
To which Ellenya just nodded, "I wanted it be a surprise and just perfect and…" Lairiel silenced her daughter by pressing her finger to Ellenya's rosebud lips.
"Ellenya, my bright, little star, you don't need to make me a gift, I already have you and that is the most perfect gift!"
Ellenya nodded and happily accepted a warm embrace off her mother, before whispering in her ear, "I'm still going to make it though."
Lairiel laughed, "I didn't think I could persuade you otherwise, well you can ask your brother nicely to help you tomorrow."
"Ask me what?"
Lairiel smiled and rolled her eyes, "Perfect timing as always son," she answered and turned to greet her eldest. Her son strode towards her, his youthful appearances all but shed accept for the innocence in his eyes, he truly was growing into his skin, every inch the strong, young ellon, Lairiel smiled proudly. Before anymore conversation could be exchanged, Ellenya was darting towards her brother excitedly and animatedly babbling about the perfect leaf in need of capturing. Legolas listened intently and joined in the animated conversation. Lairiel, felt Thranduils arms wrap around her and she leaned into him, taking in the playful scene before them. They rarely got to enjoy these moments, making them even more precious to the elven parents
"And well basically Ada couldn't even see the leaf! Can you believe that Legolas?" Ellenya had finished her dramatic conclusion, Legolas shook his head in disbelief, before turning to Thranduil, "Really Adar, is your eyesight detoriating already? It is clearly obvious which leaf is the most perfect, honestly Ellenya these older elves are just no use." Legolas shot his Father a wicked grin, whilst Ellenya just nodded in agreement. Thranduil just laughed, "No use? My boy I'll remember that next time you get stuck in another ravine." Legolas frowned, whilst his parents chuckled, recounting the numerous misadventures their son regularly had, in which Thranduil regularly had to help him out of.
Ellenya couldn't really care less about the sarcastic exchanges, as she urged her brother to go fetch the leaf she desperately required. Effortlessly Legolas scaled the tree and retrieved the desired perfect, golden, leaf and presented it to the delighted Ellenya, who proclaimed Legolas was a champion. This unfolded into an elaborate pretend sword fight between the whole family, even Thranduil who quite enjoyed being the villain, which changed from being a horrible orc, to an evil troll, or sometimes a grouchy dwarf. The whoops, and ringing laughter echoed throughout the wood, those in earshot of the playful royal family couldn't help but smile, truly their carefree, love was infectious.
The family bliss would not last the evening though, Lairiel spied two guards approach them, sombre looks etched on their faces, she felt her heart sink and her stomach twist, a strong need to usher her children inside their fortress home overwhelmed her. Thranduil who had Legolas in a head lock, while Ellenya threatened extreme levels of pain at her hands, stopped the game abruptly, loosening his grip on his son who immediately straightened up and assessed the new ominous atmosphere. Ellenya skitted to Legolas's side and wrapped her arms around his waist in a possessive hug, "GOT YOU!" She exclaimed, only looking up when her brother didn't respond to her victory.
"What is it?" Thranduil spoke, his voice hard.
"Orcs, their moving againist us sire, a planned attack our intelligence suggests." The elder looking guard reported.
Legolas instinctively moved his young sister behind him, Lairiel moved to her children's side, picking Ellenya into her arms and keeping a firm hand on her son's shoulder. A knowing look passed between them and Ellenya buried herself into her mother's neck. Thranduil glanced back at his family and sighed heavily.
"Ready my armour Feanor, call my generals to a strategic meeting, we've already lost too much time," Thrandul ordered, the two gaurds nodded and hurried off. "Lairiel take the children home, secure the fortress and await further instruction from me."
"Ada, let me go with you," Legolas started.
"No son, go with your mother and sister, they'll need you this night," Thranduil replied gently.
"Ada I can fight!" Legolas continued, Lairiel pulled gently at her sons sleeve, "Legolas come, your Adar needs to go," she pleaded softly.
"No, I can do this, let me help?" Legolas pushed.
"LEGOLAS! NOT THIS NIGHT!" Thranduil turned furiously on his son, the shock sending him reeling back from the verbal blow. "I will not argue a point with you child, go with your mother, NOW!" With that Thranduil stormed off.
Legolas stung from the exchange, his Adar had called him a child, a heavy insult for a young warrior. Lairiel soothed her son and encouraged him to follow her, Ellenya whimpered and stretched out to her brother, "Don't leave me, like Ada, I need you to protect nana and I!" Legolas responded to his sister's pitiful pleas and smiled comfortingly, "I'll always protect you and Nanneth!"
"You promise?" Ellenya sniffed
"I promise," Legolas crossed his heart with his hand and accepted Ellenya's embrace. Lairiel smiled, at the exchange, if anyone could soothe a brewing argument it was Ellenya. Quickly Lairiel turned her attention to the darkening woods. "Come on now my darlings let us get home."
Legolas sensing his Mothers panic, picked Ellenya up and took his mother's hand, "Come on I know a short cut."