A/N: This story takes place before the Fellowship is formed and before Estel is ever introduced into Elrond's home. Enjoy!


"Haldir?"

The Lothlórien warrior halted, backing up a few paces until he stood even with the open door. "Yes, Lord Celeborn?" Haldir asked as he bowed his head slightly.

Celeborn finished writing on a parchment before rising and moving around his desk to the younger elf. Their eyes met before Celeborn spoke. "Before we get to business, I understand it has only been a short time since you have been under our care, but you need not address me so formally when you are off duty."

"Of course, my lord. What was it you needed?"

A sigh was repressed as Celeborn continued, "I am certain you have heard of the party visiting from Imladris."

"Yes, my lord. Lord Elrond and his sons. They are expected to stay a few weeks."

Celeborn nodded. "We have received word that they should be arriving before the day's end. I would have you be a part of the group that welcomes them."

Haldir was sure Celeborn saw the flash of excuses run through his eyes. Was he supposed to be on a patrol that evening? Rúmil probably wanted him to help with archery later. Or perhaps…

It was not that he disliked the Lord and Lady's family, or had anything personal against the Ñoldor, especially considering the Lady was of the Ñoldor, but if it had only been Lord Elrond visiting, the task might have seemed like less of a punishment. Haldir had never met the twins, well-known for the trouble they caused, and he did not have much problem keeping it that way.

Whatever excuse he was about to give stopped on his tongue when he saw the hopeful gleam in Celeborn's eyes. Encouraged by guilt, he gave in. "Of course. I believe I have only seen Lord Elrond before. It would be an honor to officially meet him," he added with a barely concealed wince, "as well as Lords Elladan and Elrohir."

A triumphant grin, which made Haldir feel at once that he should have given that excuse, broke Celeborn's serene expression. "Good! I only have one more request. I want you to be Elladan and Elrohir's host during their stay."


Orophin burst out laughing. The sound would have portrayed the innocence of a child if it had not been for his older brother's deep scowl. With his back against the tree and his feet dangling back and forth, Orophin should have realized how lucky he was to be far enough above Haldir that he could not be reached.

"It is hardly that funny!" Haldir said.

Orophin peered off his branch, stifling his laugh. "I am sorry, brother, but-"

"An apology does not count when it is followed by 'but'. Consider that before you go on."

"-but, you could have told Celeborn no."

"Do not fane idiocy, brother. He and the Lady have done too much for us for me to refuse without seeming ungrateful."

"That does not mean you could not have said no," Orophin said. "It just means you thought it would not sit well with your conscience if you had."

Haldir went on without paying attention to his brother. "I should have given him an excuse. Rúmil has just started archery classes. Certainly I should be around to support him in that. No doubt he will want to practice after he finishes today's class with Annúnor."

"Celeborn would only say to bring the twins along with you."

"Do not insult his intelligence, Orophin. He may be related, but that has not blinded him to their…" he made a face while thinking of the right word.

"Shenanigans?" Orophin could not help laughing again. "Your face is going to get stuck like that if you keep that up."

"This is not the time for making jokes."

"Oh, for Valar sake! Haldir, if you are honestly that upset about it, go and tell Celeborn, or Galadriel, instead of fuming about in the middle of the forest."

"We live in a forest," Haldir muttered. "No matter where I 'fumed', it would still be in the middle of one." He spoke louder, "Besides, I cannot do that."

"Yes, you can. I am uncertain about how you have failed to see that when you can tell the moment Rúmil is up to mischief even when you are not in the same room, but Celeborn and Galadriel, are not expecting you, Rúmil, or even myself for payment in return for taking care of us." Orophin's voice suddenly dropped to a whisper, "Father served them faithfully. So, if anything, they are returning that favor by watching after his sons and legacy."

A long silence settled between them. Orophin refused to speak again until Haldir answered. Who knew how long that would be? Their father's death had been considerably hard on Haldir who had been close to him in spirit as well as blood.

Orophin leaned against the tree, closed his eyes, and just listened to the woods and the life within. Even a small breeze comforted him.

Haldir slowed his pacing until he was completely still. He turned his eyes toward his brother. How he envied the peace Orophin could find after only a short time had passed. He wished he could empty his mind of all the suffering from the past few months and be content under the leaves once more, but sleeping was challenge enough.

No, perhaps a distraction in the form of twins would be good, if only to get him out of his routine for a while. It could end up keeping him sane a while longer for his brothers.