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Reflections from the Paradise of Elves  by Bodkin

The Paradise of Elves – Foreword: Reunion


The powerful hug between the Woodland King and his son had extended to a length that was leaving them both short of air, but neither could be persuaded to release one whom he had had little expectation of meeting again.

‘Which one will give in first, do you think?’ One dark eyebrow lifted in a fair face that was the image of his twin’s. ‘Or do you think they will keep the stranglehold going until they both faint and fall in the water?’

Elrohir reluctantly loosened his grasp on his mother and kissed her gently before turning to look. ‘Oh, Legolas will let Thranduil win.  He has known how to manage him for centuries.’

‘Perhaps we should have got him to give us lessons. We have always had difficulty getting round his adar, even these last years. So unlike our relationship with our own dear parents.’

Elrond exchanged a playfully resigned look with his wife, while Elladan laughed and embraced him. ‘Excuse us for one moment, adar, naneth.  We must just go and greet our old partner in crime.’

The two approached from either side, jabbing sharp fingers into his ribs so that Legolas released his grip on his father and gasped.  ‘Not very wary these days, Thranduilion,’ Elladan jibed. ‘Have you gone soft?’

‘It is good to see you, Legolas,’ Elrohir added. He clasped both father and son affectionately. ‘We have missed your ugly face.’

‘You are both orc bait,’ Legolas replied easily. ‘Just you wait.’

‘I do not know how you can have failed to notice, my friend,’ Elladan teased.  ‘No need for orc bait. No orcs!’

The three friends exchanged looks that made Thranduil groan and glance towards Elrond. ‘Even without them,’ Elrohir remarked, ‘I am sure we will find something to amuse us if we try.  After all, we always do.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 1: First Impressions


‘I’m bored.’  Elladan threw one of the artistically arranged pebbles into the elegant fountain, disturbing one of the aesthetically pleasing fish.  ‘What in Arda have you found to do with yourself here, my friend?’

Legolas sighed.  ‘Very little.  I’ve often wondered whether we truly live eternally here or whether life just seems to drag on for ever.’

‘What purpose do we serve?’

‘Well - ,’ Legolas selected another of the co-ordinated pebbles and sent it to join the fish. ‘Do you realise, by the way, that someone will come along later, remove the stones from the pond and place them back in the exact spots we took them from? – We actually seem to serve almost no purpose at all.  I mean, those elves who work in practical roles, cooking food, cleaning, making things, sewing, looking  after elflings, and so on – they have all continued to carry out the jobs that have always been theirs, but princes and warriors – well, there is no point to us, is there? There are more kings and lords here than you could shake a stick at, and, short of the elves taking up kinslaying again – which really doesn’t strike me as a good way to bring entertainment into our lives – there are no threats, no dangers and there’s precious little to kill.’

‘So what do you do all day?’  Elrohir joined in the conversation.

Legolas paused, as if finding it difficult to come up with any explanation that would suit his friends.  ‘Well – since Gimli died, not much.  Watch the sea.  Flirt with a few ellyth.  Climb a tree or two.  Sing to the stars.’

‘And before Gimli died?’

A long moment of silence ensued.  ‘About the same really.  With a bit less tree-climbing.’

‘And this is the paradise of the elves?’

‘So they tell us.’

Elladan spent several minutes selecting another small stone, which he then threw in to join the others.  ‘I’m bored,’ he said.

The Paradise of Elves – part 2: New Dangers

‘Tell me’, Elladan challenged. ‘What is the best thing about this elfling’s playground?’

Legolas considered the question. ‘No orcs,’ he replied, ‘and the spiders are all of reasonable sizes.’

‘And what would you say is the worst thing?’ Elrohir enquired.

They walked along the avenue between two rows of tall beeches, their light footsteps making little noise on the neatly raked gravel.  ‘No orcs,’ Legolas repeated. ‘And the spiders are too small and innocuous to use for target practice.’

The twins lifted similar eyebrows. ‘You miss the delights of fighting orcs?’

‘At least if an orc attacks you, everyone accepts that you are fully justified in removing its head,’ their friend told them. ‘The worst creatures here are far more dangerous, but you are not permitted to lay a finger on them.’

‘There are dangerous creatures here?’  Elladan’s eyes brightened.

‘Dangerous and untouchable,’ Legolas warned.

‘Is that not a contradiction?’

Legolas stopped abruptly, causing the other two to turn and face him.

‘Tell me, my friend,’ he asked earnestly, ‘who is the person whom you would go furthest to avoid annoying? The person who can turn an intrepid warrior into a snivelling elfling with one barbed reminiscence? The person who will approach a sovereign king on his throne and wipe a smudge from his cheek with a handkerchief dampened with saliva?’

‘A mother?’

‘Now imagine that mother multiplied by ten, by a hundred or more – each of them viewing you as prey and looking you over with the object of ensnaring you in her web to be a husband for her daughter.  Let me tell you – I have had more practice in running since I have been here than in hundreds of years of fighting the creatures of the dark.’ 

The twins shuddered and grew pale. 

Legolas smiled wryly.  ‘I have even begun to encourage belief in the insinuation that I am not interested in ellyth in that way.’  He looked at Elladan and Elrohir. ‘Thank you for your most welcome arrival, my friends.  Now you can spend some time as the objects of the hunt.’

Elladan winced as the horrific prospect registered. ‘Do you think that if we started running now, we might be able to escape?’

‘Not a hope, my friend,’ Legolas replied regretfully.  ‘They are far too ruthless to let us get away that easily.’

‘So,’ Elrohir said thoughtfully, ‘here in the Blessed Realm we are forced to suffer two-legged spiders trying to wrap us in their silken coils in place of the Mirkwood monsters.’ He sighed as they resumed their walk. ‘I think I could learn to miss the simple violence of dealing with orcs.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 3:  Maturity

‘So, how are you enjoying being together with your parents again?’ Legolas asked as they lounged at the top of the tower overlooking the gardens.

The twins exchanged glances. ‘Now the first euphoria has worn off, you mean?’ Elrohir enquired, tossing a berry high up into the air and flicking it as it fell.

‘It is rather like being back in the nursery,’ Elladan admitted frankly. ‘I keep expecting to be asked if I have washed behind my ears or whether I have remembered to change my underwear.’

‘Despite our centuries as warriors, adar seems to think we are incapable of looking after ourselves,’ added Elrohir.

‘What about you?’ Elladan asked curiously.

Legolas looked at his friends as their eyes followed the curve of a berry sent high into the sky.  ‘Do you know,’ he said, his tone ironic, ‘I am being led to believe that only the very great grace of all the Valar combined can possibly have enabled me to survive the last centuries in this peaceful haven without my adar’s guidance.’  He shook his head. ‘To listen to Thranduil you would get the impression that I am a disaster waiting for a chance to happen.  He keeps reminding me of all the times I have said that I was perfectly well able to take care of myself only to tumble into some misadventure.’

‘Anyone would think we were still elflings,’ Elladan said disdainfully.

‘And simple-minded ones at that,’ Legolas agreed.

‘Right, it is your turn now.’  Elrohir turned to his friend.

Legolas picked up a handful of the hard red berries and began to flick them, one by one, targeting the patch of grass below where sat a group of ellyth  who were, as yet, quite unaware of their presence.

Elladan sniffed. ‘It really is about time that our adars learned to see us as the responsible adults that we clearly are,’ he said.

The Paradise of Elves – Part 4: The Opposite Sex


‘I must admit that I am quite partial to hair of a glossy chestnut,’ Legolas admitted.

‘What a Wood Elf,’ Elrohir teased.  ‘I expect you like them with hazel eyes, too, do you not?’

‘Apple-cheeked,’ Elladan added.


‘Oh, be quiet!’ Legolas snapped.

‘Wood Elf.’

‘It all sounds a bit precise to me.’  Elrohir lay back beside the stream and admired the pattern the leaves made against the sky.  ‘Are you sure you do not also have a name to which you are quite partial?’

‘I did not add most of those details,’ Legolas huffed. ‘You did.  I like chestnut hair, true – and green eyes – and curves.’ His eyes became slightly unfocused.

‘He has a name in mind,’ Elladan commented. ‘We just have to make him tell us.’

Elrohir smiled gently.  ‘He will tell us soon enough.  He has never been good at keeping secrets.’

‘I beg your pardon – I am excellent at keeping things hidden.  For instance, I know why it was that Estel told you both to leave Minas Tirith just after Eldarion was born.’  Legolas lifted his head and stared at his friends, his eyes as hard as blue steel. ‘Peredhil,’ he added.

Elladan blushed.  ‘He did not tell us to leave.  Arwen suggested that I needed some time to think about what I planned to do.’

‘And by the next time we visited the White City, the object of Elladan’s interest was middle aged, married and possessed of five children.’ Elrohir turned over to his side and glanced at his brother. ‘It is easy to forget how short a time Men have.’

‘Arwen was right,’ Elladan said sadly. ‘It was just a passing infatuation. I sometimes wonder if I will ever find someone to love.’

They remained silent for some time.

‘So what is your type, Elrohir?  Blondes, as I recall.  Leggy and with silly giggles.’

‘Oh, that was when I was scarcely grown,’ he replied. ‘I look for more in an elleth now.  Looks are not everything – I like them to have a few brains these days – and a personality. And I must say it is pleasant after all these years to be somewhere where there are ellyth to meet. And such a variety,’ he added appreciatively. ‘I have spotted one or two I would not mind getting to know better!’

Elladan turned his head to look at him piercingly. ‘You do not have to wait for me to find my perfect elleth, brother.  When you find someone to cherish, I will be happy for you.’

‘You will not have to be happy for me any time soon,’ Elrohir reassured him.  ‘We have hardly had time to get to know anyone since we arrived.  Legolas, on the other hand, has had centuries to make his mind up.’

‘We will find out, my friend,’ Elladan warned. ‘You would do better to tell us. Confess her name and we will not need to torture you.’

‘You need not, but that would not stop you – it never has before.  Not that it matters – I have no particular elleth in mind, understand?’

‘Of course you have not,’ Elrohir said amiably.  

They sat back, at ease in each other’s company, and watched the slices of sunlight move through the trees as the stream rippled past and the birds sang.

‘So what is her name, then?’ Elladan asked again.


The Paradise of Elves – part 5:  What if. . ?


‘What are you thinking about?’ Legolas asked Elladan, as he considered his rather gloomy countenance.

‘Arwen,’ he replied.  ‘Have you ever thought how different life would be if you two had married as our adars would have liked?’

The three old friends leant on the handrail of the delicate wooden bridge and watched the water as it flowed round larger moss-covered rocks and over smaller stones, pushing busily past on its way to join the river.

Legolas sighed and turned his back, lifting his face to the sun and closing his eyes. ‘The Dark Lord in control of Middle Earth; Men reduced to slavery; Dwarves and Hobbits wiped out; the Elves in flight, waiting for the final attack as the forces of the Shadow proliferate like maggots in the corpse of Arda?’

His friend frowned at him. ‘Do not be foolish. Events would have transpired as they did – except our sister would be here in the Blessed Realm with us.  Our hearts would not be torn between our family here and those lost.’

Elrohir turned his clear silver-grey eyes towards Legolas and considered him at length. ‘You are serious, are you not?’

‘Oh yes, I am serious,’ Legolas answered softly, his words dropping like tears. ‘Without Arwen, Estel would not have had sufficient strength to stand as the heir of Isildur and take up his destiny.  Without Estel, Gondor would have fallen, as would the Rohirrim. Without the forces of Gondor and Rohan, the Ringbearer would have failed in his quest.  Arwen was the rock on which the whole house of cards depended. She was the foundation upon which Elessar built his House.’  He paused.  ‘If she and I had wed -,’ he shook his head, ‘it would not have been right. We were always friends, but not lovers.  I would not be surprised to find she was placed on Arda by Iluvator himself to inspire Aragorn and make victory possible.’

‘Destiny? Is that not overly simplistic? The sort of thing that people say afterwards to rationalise the unacceptable?’ Elladan flicked a small red beetle from the rail. ‘If Arwen had been married to you, then Estel would have fallen in love with someone else.  We would still have missed him all our days, but we would not have watched her fall into complete despair and die alone among the fading mallorns.’

‘So are you saying it is my fault that Arwen chose Estel?’ Legolas asked.

Elladan shrugged.  ‘You are prettier than he was,’ he said.  ‘I am sure you could have won her over.’

‘Arwen was not so shallow as to love for looks, my brother,’ Elrohir smiled, ‘or she could have subdued our blond prince at will, whether he wished it or not.’  He sobered and looked at his brother seriously.  ‘We must stop brooding over what cannot be altered, Elladan.  We have all wondered what might have resulted from our choosing a different path – but we must all live with the choices we made.’

‘I miss her,’ Elladan said softly.

‘Do you realise,’ Elrohir spoke as if struck by an unexpected idea. ‘Had Legolas and Arwen produced elflings, then fate might have led Estel to marry their daughter?  Can you just imagine him as Elessar’s adar-in-law?’

Legolas shuddered dramatically. ‘Not a chance,’ he insisted. ‘I would never have permitted a scruffy, pipe-smoking ranger near any daughter of mine!’

‘Not even one who was like a brother to you?’

‘Especially not a brother.’  Legolas grinned.  ‘After all, that would make him her uncle!’

‘I do not believe that you could convince a twenty year old Dunedain and an elleth of several centuries or more to behave like uncle and niece, my friend, any more than you can make them feel like brother and sister,’ Elladan said dryly. ‘No matter how much you might have desired it.’

They stood and gazed at the water as it wove its way between the banks, rippling past obstructions and swirling gently in small pools.  A willow trailed its long slender fingers in the stream as a gentle breeze stirred the air.

‘Her song goes on, my brother,’ Elrohir insisted, resting his hand on his twin’s. ‘Learn to rejoice for her, and let yourself live.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 6:  Heart’s Desire

‘How is he?’ Legolas jerked his head to indicate the older twin as he stood cleaning out his horse’s hooves.

Elrohir rolled his eyes in amused exasperation. ‘Besotted,’ he replied.

‘Only Elladan could go from being resignedly unattached to madly in love in the space of an hour.’ Legolas shook his head in amazement.

‘An hour!’ Elrohir pushed back his hair and grinned. ‘Do not under-estimate his impetuousness, my friend. Seconds – that was all it took.  He saw her and fell.’

‘What is she like? I confess I cannot place her at all, even though I am sure we must have met.’

‘She is – a perfectly normal elleth.  Pretty: dark hair, grey eyes – infectious giggle. She has trained as a healer – that is why she was visiting adar.  Bright.  I like her, although I feel no urge to turn into a creature with the intelligence of a troll at the sight of her. You do know her – her parents came from Lasgalen, and she is about your age, so you probably grew up together.’

‘Does she care for him?’

Elrohir laughed.  ‘Need you ask?  You should see them gazing into each other’s eyes. They barely remember to breathe.  It grows tiresome, Legolas.  The sooner they wed and return to a form of normality the better.’

Legolas tensed slightly and turned to his friend, an anxious question clear on his face. He opened his mouth to speak, but Elrohir shook his head, smiling.  ‘I do not mind, my friend.  We are more closely connected than most brothers, but we do not wish to live each other’s lives.’  He paused.  ‘In many ways, I am relieved.’

Raised eyebrows encouraged him to continue, but instead, Elrohir turned the attack. ‘And what of you?’

Legolas reddened. ‘I told you both you were making something of nothing.’

‘You did.’  His friend continued to groom his horse, and there was only the soothing sound of even brush strokes to be heard until his head appeared over its back. ‘I did not believe you then, either.’  He kept watching Legolas’s face.  ‘Chestnut hair and green eyes are a most unusual combination.  She was not difficult to track down – although I must admit it took us some time to realise what we were seeing – and where.   I know her name – I know all about her.’ He laughed softly. ‘You do not like to take an easy path, do you, my friend?  What does your adar think about your choice?’

Legolas shrugged and offered a rueful grin. ‘He says that he is not one to hold grudges.’

The two stared at each other, before breaking into wild laughter.  ‘Stop,’ Legolas insisted. ‘At least he is making an effort.’

‘An effort I will enjoy watching,’ Elrohir admitted. He added wickedly. ‘Still, I suppose he would have found it more difficult had you fallen in love with a dwarf.’

‘I think he feared I had for a while,’ Legolas admitted. ‘Not that he said anything.  At any rate, he was a great deal less hostile to Gimli once certain that he was male. At least he is now contemplating me making a liaison with a beautiful elleth.  He will come round.  In time.’

‘Optimist.’ Elrohir considered his friend and shook his head.  ‘I confess I am surprised that you did not choose to marry before your adar sailed, so that he was too late to object. A sweet little elfling might have helped reconcile him to your choice.’

Legolas looked uncomfortable. ‘It did not seem right.’

‘Typical of your twisted nobility, my friend.  Nothing like having to fight for your heart’s desire, is there?’ Elrohir stopped. ‘All this romance has had an effect on you though, my friend. You are slightly better able to hold a conversation than Elladan, but you, too, are now to be counted among the fallen.’

‘What are you talking about?’ Elladan joined them, as they tossed the brushes on the shelf and prepared to leave the stable.

‘Ellyth,’ Legolas answered simply.

‘Ahh,’ he sighed in response, his normal alert expression giving way immediately to one of soft bedazzlement.

‘See – I told you,’ Elrohir said smugly. ‘The brains of a cave troll.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 7:  In Vino Veritas


Putting the half-filled glass down with a lurch that caused the remaining contents to slosh over his hand, Elladan turned dizzily to grasp the balcony rail as he licked his dripping fingers. ‘The stars are beautiful tonight,’ he said expansively, narrowing his eyes at the sky in a vain attempt to stop them moving.

‘You are drunk,’ his brother laughed, giddily enough to suggest that he, too, had been partaking rather liberally of the wine in his goblet.  ‘You had better stop now – the last thing you need tomorrow is a hangover.’

Legolas stretched his long legs out in front of him as he watched his friends. ‘Or your wife will ensure that your headache lasts a very long time,’ he said, with an evil grin. ‘Possibly for centuries.’

‘My wife!’ Elladan responded, with a mixture of pride and bemusement.  He turned, leaning back on the rail for support. ‘I cannot understand how you could have let her slip through your fingers, my friend.  You must be mad.’

‘She was meant for you, Elladan,’ Legolas told him easily, taking a draught of his own wine. ‘I must have known that one day this would happen and refused to take advantage of her – or of course she would have fallen into my arms.’

‘After all, you never fail with the ellyth, do you, little prince?’ Elrohir said reflectively. ‘That was not you who ended up in the fountain pool after trying to kiss our head groom’s sister, now, was it?’

‘I remember that!’ Elladan crowed gleefully. ‘She gave you a black eye and we told adar you had slipped and fallen, although I do not think he believed us.  And do you recall at Arwen’s wedding – that elleth from Lothlorien who backed you into a corner because you had not written as you promised.’

‘All right, all right.’ Legolas waved the comments away.  ‘It was a long time ago.  Do not forget that I, too, could come up with many stories about both of you that are no less embarrassing.’

‘If you come out with any of them tomorrow, you will die!’  Elladan pointed a wavering finger at him. 

‘Would I do that to you?’ Legolas answered, his exaggeratedly hurt tone leaving them in some doubt as to his intentions.

‘Arwen always said that you were sick of being pursued and would never love an elleth unless you had to chase her,’ Elrohir reflected, putting his empty glass down and blinking at his friend.  ‘And she was right.  What I want to know is – has your target slowed enough to let you catch up with her yet?’

Legolas scowled into his wine.  ‘What of you?’ he challenged, changing the subject.  ‘You are taking your time to win that blonde over.  Are you losing your irresistible charm, my friend?’

‘I am in no rush,’ Elrohir smiled.  ‘We have to get this old one married off first, before we youngsters begin to get serious.’

‘What blonde?’  Elladan enquired, as he reached for his glass.

His brother pushed his hand away.  ‘Enough. You need water now, Elladan,’ he insisted. ‘This party is over and it is time to ready yourself for tomorrow.’

‘What blonde?’ his twin repeated, with the obstinacy of the intoxicated.

‘You know,’ Legolas shook his head. ‘I never understood how Elwe and Melian could have been so stunned by each other that they forgot about the rest of the world – not until I saw these two.  I do not believe Elladan has any awareness of what has happened around him since the lightning struck and fried his brain. I only hope he regains his sanity soon.’  He turned to his friend and spoke slowly and deliberately, as if to a rather simple child.  ‘Elrohir is very – shall we say – taken with a certain rather attractive elleth, Elladan.  She seems to be looking his way, too,’ he added, ‘though I am not sure their relationship has progressed much beyond sighs and smiles.’  He shot an inquisitive glance at the younger twin.

‘I am saying nothing, Legolas,’ he replied, a hint of colour on his cheekbones. ‘After all, you are not exactly informative about the progress of your hunt.’

Legolas sighed in exasperation.  ‘It is not as if there is anything to say,’ he retorted.  ‘We are all dancing round each other with the caution of diplomats trying to avoid war: my adar and hers, naneths and brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins.  Every time we seem to take one tiny step forward, somebody opens their big fat mouth and we take ten leaps back.’

‘Elope, my friend. It will be the only way.’

‘And your daernaneth thinks it is hilarious.  It is driving my adar crazy.’

Elladan chuckled. ‘She will be enjoying that.  What is it about Thranduil and Galadriel?  There always seems to be some kind of tug of war between them.’

‘Well, at the moment I feel like the rope,’ Legolas concluded gloomily.

‘Come on,’ Elrohir spoke with decision. ‘Let us get Elladan sober. We had better fulfil our duty to put the bridegroom to bed before it is time for him to get up. We have a busy day ahead of us.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 8:  Changes


The dancing had become frolicsome: playful with heady laughter and dizzy with joy rather than with the effects of excessive wine.  The younger elves had drawn away from their more sober elders and were allowing themselves to be infected by the atmosphere of euphoria.

‘I must thank your naneth for inviting her,’ Legolas remarked as he and Elrohir stood in the shadows of the starlit glade.

His friend raised his glass.  ‘She understands your difficulties.  Daeradar was actually quite fond of my adar as a friend and colleague, but that did not mean he wanted him as a son-in-law.  His many good qualities could not erase his descent from Man and Maia – and yet worse, Noldor ancestors.’

Legolas raised his eyebrows in a manner singularly reminiscent of his own adar.  ‘Surely he could not find that objectionable!  After all, he wed your daernaneth. And Thranduil tends to look on her as first cousin to a Balrog.’

‘I am wounded.’  Elrohir put his hand to his heart and feigned distress. ‘You insult my family.’

‘Only to point out the narrow-mindedness of my own,’ Legolas retaliated swiftly.

They watched silently for a moment as Elladan danced with his bride, the pair of them isolated in the midst of the crowd around them by the luminous air of rapture that enclosed them, and then they each turned to look at a different guest of the wedding party.

‘She is beautiful,’ Elrohir commented. ‘You have done well, my friend, although I do not know what she sees in a pasty princeling like you.’

‘She is more than beautiful,’ his friend replied softly. ‘She is brave and generous and kind and tolerant.  She is honest and strong.  She is too unassuming – she even manages to be ashamed of her family’s connection to something that happened centuries before she was conceived.  I want to fight dragons for her, Elrohir, and she will not even let me tell my adar that he has no right to interfere.’

The dark-haired elf put his hand on his friend’s arm consolingly.  ‘Patience, Legolas. Try diplomacy first.  There is always time for all-out war if that should fail.’

The other drew a deep breath and forced himself to relax.  ‘Are you making progress with your chosen elleth?’ he asked lightly.  ‘You seem to have been enjoying a pleasant evening.’

‘An understatement,’ he answered, his eyes seeking the wheat-fair silken locks and soft blue gown of a certain maiden whose silver eyes were straying in their direction, despite her best attempt to appear nonchalant.  ‘It amazes me that, throughout all this time, she should have been waiting here for me, heart-free, so that now our song might twine together.’

‘Your family will welcome her?’

Elrohir’s swift glance was deep with sympathy.  ‘I fear so, my friend.’

‘I would not have it otherwise,’ Legolas maintained, spreading his hands wide in a gesture of giving. ‘It would not be of any assistance to me to have you in similar straits.  I am happy for you.’  He watched with interest as the fair-haired elleth talked with her friends, glancing periodically in their direction. ‘She is lovely, Elrohir – with a look of the Galadhrim about her.  Did she come from Lothlorien?’

‘Her parents did, but she was conceived after they came to these lands.’

‘Got you, my brothers!’  A figure in elegant formal robes grabbed a shoulder of each. ‘I have not spoken to either of you for hours.’  Elladan looked at them a little self-consciously, a slight uncertainty apparent in his glowing face.  ‘We will be taking our leave shortly.  I wanted. . ,’ his voice trailed away and his grip tightened.

‘Nothing will break our bond,’ Elrohir told him in immediate reassurance. ‘We are twins.  Marriage cannot change that.’

‘Brothers by blood and blood brothers,’ Legolas added, as they returned the fierce hug.  ‘We are not going anywhere, Elladan.  We are still here for each other.’

‘But it will not be the same,’ he replied, his voice no more than a pained whisper.

‘It will be better,’ Elrohir insisted. ‘Love is one thing that is better shared.’

They held on to each other for a brief moment, clinging to their past, before Elladan released them suddenly, clapping each on the back.  ‘Come and dance,’ he commanded them. ‘I have the perfect partners for you.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 9:  Adjustments

Elrohir stood in the centre of the garden, looking down at the basin of water as it spilled its contents gently into the pool beneath.

‘Ah, there you are, my friend,’ Legolas said cheerily, putting a hand on his shoulder.

The response was no more than a sigh.

‘I thought I saw you come in here with the light of your life,’ he continued.  ‘But I have just seen her with her pack of giggling ellyth, so I thought we might be able to escape to the forest for a while.’

Elrohir drooped in his friend’s grasp.  ‘She says she is not a substitute for my brother,’ he muttered.  ‘She says that if I cannot stop talking about him all the time and start treating her as a person in her own right, I can just go away until I become better company.’

Legolas’s grip shifted so that he held his friend consolingly. ‘That sounds rather unsympathetic,’ he responded carefully.  ‘After all, you and Elladan have been first in each other’s eyes for over three thousand years.  It will take time to grow used to the change.’

‘Oh, I do not blame her.’  Elrohir lifted his head.  ‘I am being very boring.’

‘What made her snap now?’  Legolas asked.  After all, he thought, the unfortunate elleth had tolerated her love’s moods with unfailing kindness up to this point.

‘I only suggested that we went fishing,’ his friend said, sounding a touch aggrieved.

‘Ahh.’  Legolas nodded with understanding.  ‘I do not believe she is very fond of sitting on the river bank while you splash around in the water.’

‘She has come fishing with me before!’

‘Indeed she has, my friend,’ Legolas informed him with amusement.  ‘How do you think I know she dislikes it so?  I do not believe she has yet recovered from the time you took her to picnic while you fished and she sat there in the rain for hours because the fish were biting.  I heard all about it!  It was pointed out to me quite plainly that I had better not repeat your errors.  You have to remember that she is an elleth, Elrohir.  To her, going fishing means an opportunity to sit in the sun by the sparkling water while you look into her eyes and tell her how beautiful she is.’

‘But the fish bite better when it is overcast.’

‘I know that, my friend, and you know that – but we do not choose to go fishing in our prettiest dress, with our hair fancily arranged.  Ellyth hear a different language from the one we speak, Elrohir.’

The despondent twin reflected.  ‘What can I do to make it up to her?  I really do not want to remain in her bad books.  It is bad enough not having my brother around without her absence to make it worse.’

‘Do not chase after her!’  Legolas exclaimed in alarm.  ‘She will think that she can make you do whatever she wants.  Give her time to get over it.  Then – I suppose we could arrange an excursion suitable for ellyth.  A formal picnic, perhaps – with white cloths and crockery and blankets to keep the grass from staining their gowns.  Wine glasses. Cakes.  We could even prise the lovebirds out from their little paradise and take them along with us.’

Elrohir brightened.  ‘Just the six of us.  No fishing, no hunting – nothing to get us dirty or wet or injured – simply a pleasant day in the company of friends.  She would like that.’ 

They turned and began walking through the gardens, reaching out and touching individual blooms as they passed.  ‘I miss him,’ Elrohir spoke softly.  ‘I miss him more because he is here, but not with me.’

‘He will return,’ Legolas said with certainty. ‘He is lost to us only briefly. It will take more than ellyth to keep us apart.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 10:  Time Off

The bow sang as the arrow flew.  The duck dropped from the air, taken out as neatly as ever he had felled the enemy. 

‘You have lost none of your skill, my friend,’ Elrohir observed, as they headed over to pick it up.

Legolas snorted. ‘It is hardly a challenge. They are not exactly trying to escape, are they?’

‘They are smaller than orcs, though,’ Elladan remarked.

‘But bigger than crebain.’

‘I suppose so.’ Elladan added the bird to the others he was carrying. ‘I never thought crebain would make much of a meal.  Too small to be more than a mouthful and full of bones. You would have to be pretty hungry to bother with them. Do you not think this will be enough?  After all, we are only feeding the three of us.’

‘Should be,’ Elrohir said easily. ‘It is not as if we have been spending months on patrol in foul weather with scant rations.  We have only been granted a week’s leave of absence in the run-up to the betrothal to let them organise things in peace without us objecting to any of their little ideas.’

‘You do not yet realise how ominous that is, my brother.’ His twin shook his head. ‘She looked at you, all big-eyed and innocent, and you rashly committed yourself to do whatever she chooses.  Enjoy these few days, Elrohir, for I dread to think what she will ask of you when you return.’

Their camp was neat, organised and situated in a defensible position, with nothing that would take them more than minutes to pack up.  Their horses grazed contentedly, near enough to be summoned quickly, but not so close as to attract attention.  They gazed around sharply, using both eyes and ears, and working as a team to check that nothing was out of place or appeared odd before approaching the packs and fire pit.

‘You do not forget, despite the passage of years,’ Legolas said softly, his voice tinged with regret.  ‘Nothing threatens us here, yet we are still prepared to respond to attack.’

The twins shrugged. ‘There is no harm in taking precautions,’ Elrohir said cheerfully.  ‘I will prepare the duck, if you will ready the fire and sort out the rest.  Elladan has forgotten how to care for himself now he has a wife to cosset him.  We will leave him to sit sipping his wine, while we do the work.’

‘I will cook breakfast,’ Elladan offered.

‘Yes, with no warm wife beside you, you will be bound to wake up early,’ his brother teased.  ‘You will be only too eager to drag us from our rest to take your mind off your abandonment.’

A slow reminiscent smile warmed Elladan’s face.  ‘You just wait until you try it,’ he said.

‘That will not be yet awhile.’ Legolas said with an edge to his voice, grabbing a stick from the pile of firewood and tossing it at him. ‘I am too young to be tied down.’

‘Tied up though, perhaps,’ his friend retorted indignantly as he moved out the way. ‘Elfling!’

After they had eaten, they allowed the fire to die down so its glow did not detract from the brightness of the stars above the glade.  Legolas sat back against a welcoming tree and enjoyed the freshness of the light breeze as he watched the stately dance of the night sky. 

‘It is easy to become so embroiled in the stresses of everyday life that you forget simple joys,’ he sighed.  ‘Starlight, the song of the trees, the company of friends.’ 

The wave of sympathy from the twins was so powerful that he could feel it lifting his spirits.  ‘It is good to be together again beneath the stars,’ Elladan agreed.

‘Do you remember,’ said Elrohir, ‘when your adar forbade us to ride out with the patrols that were hunting wargs?  You were livid – a trained warrior, almost fully recovered from injury, being kept at home to wind wool for his old nurse.’

Legolas smiled slowly.  ‘I thought he would have my hide when he found us sneaking out to the stables.  He was so sure we were joining the hunt – wargs would have been a far less dangerous prospect!  I have never seen him so angry, not even when I caught his hair in a candle flame and burnt off one of his braids.’ 

‘I have not heard that story!’  Elladan laughed.  ‘Surely you did not do that on purpose.’

‘No, of course not,’ his friend replied indignantly.  ‘But I was young and foolish and had taken rather a large quantity of his best wine – without his consent – and I was not, shall we say, in full control of my limbs.’

‘What I am trying to say – badly – is that Thranduil just does not want you to get hurt.’  Elrohir looked at the pale face gleaming in the dim light. ‘He wants the best for you and he is not yet convinced that she will be that.’

‘I seem to have spent most of my life telling him I am too old to need nursemaiding,’ Legolas replied wearily.  ‘I do not know why I should expect him to change now and accept that I can make my own decisions.’

‘Stop fighting him,’ Elladan advised. ‘But do not give in. It may not feel like it, but you are wearing him down. The storm will pass in time and the land will be left fresher and more fertile for it.’ 

The Paradise of Elves: Part 11:  Taking Advantage


‘So how are you, my friend?’ Elrohir asked, looking him over with obvious concern.

‘You must stop landing on your head, Legolas,’ joked Elladan. ‘You will addle your few remaining brain cells, if you are not careful.’

‘Is there a bone in your body you have not broken?  I have attended your sick bed so many times that I have lost track,’ the younger twin remarked.

‘There may be a rib or two,’ Legolas offered wearily, ‘and I do not think I have ever broken my jaw.’

‘I am sure you will remedy that in time.’

‘I hope not.  I have already endured enough hours spent helpless in this bed,’ he sighed.  He accepted the glass offered him by the green-clad elleth and smiled his thanks, his eyes following her hungrily as she moved across the room, enjoying her graceful movements and the coppery tones in her gleaming chestnut hair until she turned her anxious green gaze on him and inspected him seriously.  

‘We will look after him while you rest,’ Elrohir promised her.  ‘Believe me when I say that we have had plenty of practice!’

‘You are supposed to drink that,’ Elladan pointed out as he closed the door behind her.  ‘Your leg will not mend any quicker for your suffering unnecessary pain.’

‘In a minute,’ their friend replied with some irritation.  ‘I am tired of sleeping and I want to remember talking to you.’

The twins came over and sat down by the bed, careful not to jog their friend’s aching body.

‘You have done very well, Legolas,’ Elladan told him admiringly.  ‘You could not have made a cleverer move if you had planned it.’

‘What do you mean?  I do not think anyone, even you,  could describe acquiring a broken leg, cracked ribs, a fractured wrist and concussion as intelligent!’

‘Look at the results, my friend.  Thranduil is here, staying in her parents’ house.  He is grateful to her for caring so devotedly for his beloved son.  They have shared watches over your unconscious body and comforted each other’s distress.  He will observe you both together as you recover.  How better can he see what a good match she is for you?’

‘And her parents,’ Elrohir chimed in. ‘They are smotheringly grateful to the brave elf who fished their reckless little daerelfling out of the water at such enormous risk to himself.  How can they reject you at this point?’  He paused.  ‘You would love to be watching the dance that is going on when they are all together,’ he confided.  ‘They are all being so polite and fulsome to each other it is nauseating.  Ancient grievances have all been swept under the carpet for now, leaving a very uneven surface on which they are balancing carefully.’

‘Seize the moment, Legolas.  Play it shrewdly and you will be wearing silver rings before you leave that bed.  Do not give them time to get on each other’s nerves.  Get in there quickly – as soon as they ask how they can possibly thank you – once their consent is obtained you are home and dry. They are all honourable elves and far too obstinate to go back on their word.  Your time has come!’

The recumbent elf’s face began to glow as his friends’ words penetrated the haze of pain caused by his injuries and the confusion resulting from the drugs.  His tactical skills allowed him to grasp the truth of their words.  If, between them, they could not win their parents over at this time, they would not deserve success.  His eyes narrowed as his mind began to work, before his aching head forced him to abandon the effort.

‘Unfortunately, Elrohir, I doubt whether I will be sufficiently recovered to be at your wedding,’ he admitted, shifting his shoulders uncomfortably.

‘You mend quickly,’ his friend shrugged.  ‘I am sure you will be able to make it.  It is not for another month.’  He grinned. ‘I will make a point of inviting your probable betrothed,’ he added.  ‘Then she will have to come and stay with your family, so they may get to know her better.  I am sure I can leave it to you to make the visit last as long as possible.’

The pale, rather drained elf who had greeted them vanished as Legolas’s eyes recovered their expression of enthusiastic vitality.  ‘You can trust me on that, my friends,’ he said.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 12: Making Whoopee

‘You had better not let them catch you!’

Elrohir’s voice made him jump nearly as much as Elladan’s prod in the back.

‘Valar! Do not do that!’  Legolas snapped, turning back to the pliant elleth in his arms and smiling at her apologetically as he reluctantly released his hold on her.

‘We would not have disturbed you at your – pleasures,’ Elladan laughed wickedly, raising his eyebrows in a chillingly accurate imitation of his adar, ‘but we are sure you would rather be captured by us.’ 

His dark-haired wife moved to a position beside the maiden and whispered in her ear, causing her to blush furiously and raise her hands to her hair in a vain attempt to return it to the ordered style she had worn earlier, only to have her friend remove the pins and swiftly arrange the chestnut waves loose over her shoulders before draping a casual arm around her waist. 

The blonde on Elrohir’s arm tucked her spare hand into Legolas’s elbow and leaned towards him as if in the middle of a conversation, as a party of older elves made their way through the trees towards them, bowing rather stiffly to the fair-haired prince and his companions.  Their penetrating eyes took in the members of the party, looking for any suggestion of impropriety which they could report to her parents, visibly disappointed when they failed to find any.

Legolas returned the salutation courteously, greeting his betrothed’s cousins as if he were pleased to see them, and watching them pass on to the lawns beyond the wood, before returning to look into the dancing green eyes before him.

‘That was too close,’ he agreed.

She laughed and drew him near enough for a last kiss before leaving for safety in the company of his friends’ wives.

Elladan gazed speculatively after them.  ‘They have done that before,’ he said.  ‘Maybe not to aid each other, but they are clearly experienced in evading capture by suspicious relatives.’

‘Bear that in mind, my young friend,’ Elrohir wagged his finger at Legolas.  ‘Ellyth may not spend much time fighting orcs, but they are highly skilled at dancing with dangers you do not even recognise.’

‘They spotted and defused that peril at a hundred paces,’ Elladan agreed.  ‘Not only did they know exactly what you were up to, my friend, and where, but they were also on guard against interruption. Without a word spoken between them!  At times, my brother, they frighten me.’

‘At least they all seem disposed to be good friends,’ Elrohir said with relief.  ‘I was concerned for a while, because their experience is so very different.  If they like each other, it will make our lives considerably easier.’

‘Especially for you,’ Elladan informed Legolas.  ‘Even if they hated each other, they are stuck with Elrohir and I being twins, but if they disliked your bride or she loathed them – we could whistle goodbye to many opportunities for us to get together.’

The friends began to stroll through the stand of trees towards the gardens.  ‘Have you been able to come to some agreement about where you will reside?’  Elrohir asked.

‘Thankfully, that, at least, has not been a problem,’ Legolas sighed.  ‘It appears that a bride is supposed to join her husband – although I have been informed that they will expect visits that are regular, prolonged and, preferably, solitary.  Every other arrangement, however, seems to require extensive discussion and delicate negotiation.  I am attempting to reconcile my adar to every imposed Noldor tradition by reminding him that we end up taking the prize.’

‘He sees her as a prize?’

‘Oh yes – what you said proved correct, my friends.  Watching me mend brought them into immediate partnership, as they agreed on my obstinacy and combined forces to compel me to follow the healer’s orders.  Thranduil may be able to stand against the forces of the Dark Lord, but he has no resources to help him resist the appeal of beautiful ellyth.  By the time I was permitted to stand, he was colluding in our plans to force her parents’ hand.’ 

The twins grinned.  ‘You cannot go far wrong if you follow our advice,’ Elladan bragged.

‘Although. . . .’ began Elrohir.

‘I can think of many occasions. . . .’ Legolas started simultaneously.

‘Were we not right?’ Elladan ignored them.

‘Yes, my friend,’ Legolas surrendered.  ‘This time.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 13:  Uneasy Alliance

‘This is a real gathering of the clans,’ Elladan said appreciatively.

‘Oh yes,’ Legolas replied.  ‘Everyone who might impress from Arda, standing shoulder to shoulder to dominate the assembled Noldor hordes of the Blessed Realm. It reminds me of the Black Gate.’

‘We are still outnumbered.’

‘That reminds me of the Black Gate, too.’

‘Daernaneth is standing as your kin-by-marriage,’ Elrohir observed. 

‘That is causing a great deal of confusion,’ Elladan said gleefully.  ‘I do not think they can quite credit that the daughter of their High King is claiming closer kinship with the upstart Moriquendi prince of a forest realm from Middle Earth than with them.’

‘I do not think Thranduil can quite believe it, either,’ Legolas admitted.  ‘And he would probably feel rather safer if she were not.  He is not, you may have noticed, entirely open-minded in his response to Lady Galadriel – he would much rather not have to be obliged to her for her support.’

‘Your guests cover a far wider spread of Elvenkind,’ Elladan remarked.  ‘You have some with Noldor blood and Vanyar and Teleri as well as Silvan and Sindar.’

‘And that is just you two,’ jested the nervous prince. ‘Although I do not believe her family looks on mixed blood as something to be admired.’

‘The bearers of the three elven rings are your guests, too.’

‘They do not feel that is worthy of admiration, either.’

‘Never mind, my friend,’ Elrohir comforted him.  ‘If you can just survive the day, you can spirit her away to safety and leave the rearguard to fight the remaining action.’

Legolas winced. ‘Maybe we should stop talking of this ceremony as a battle,’ he suggested.  ‘It is supposed to be a happy occasion and you are making me even more nervous.’

‘Oh, I do not know,’ mused Elladan.  ‘The waiting is the worst part.  Once the fighting starts, battle is rather exciting.’

The others gave his words a reluctant recognition.  ‘The aftermath, however, is atrocious,’ his brother commented. ‘I think, perhaps, Legolas is right.  We do not wish to spend the next several centuries attempting to mend unnecessary injuries.  We should glue smiles to our faces and keep reminding ourselves that this is a celebration.  Legolas is marrying into our distant kin.  It is our duty to keep telling them how fortunate they are.’

‘I am not altogether convinced that that would be of assistance,’ he responded carefully.  ‘I think they are of the opinion that I am the one who is fortunate – far beyond my deserts.  And – ,’ he said, his face radiant as he turned towards the new arrivals, ‘in that, at least, I believe them to be correct.’

‘It is like a sunbeam dragging a thundercloud,’ Elladan nudged his twin, as the bride’s father escorted her, slowly and formally, across the lawn to her groom, releasing her reluctantly to his grasp, before stepping back to allow his precious daughter to bind herself to her unsuitable choice of husband.  Legolas raised her hands to his lips, before lifting his eyes to hers, blue meeting green, and the glow of complete euphoria enveloped them as they spoke the words that would join them for all time.

‘Gone,’ Elladan murmured in his brother’s ear.  ‘How long do you think it will take for him to learn to function again?’

Elrohir shook his head.  ‘Not as long as it took you, my brother,’ he replied softly. ‘But I hope they make a point of enjoying every moment along the way.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 14: Arboriculture

Legolas ran his hand down the warm curve of her and held her close.  The fragrance of her hair filled his senses and, without thinking, he turned to press a kiss on her willing lips.

‘Please!’ Elladan protested, his head resting in his wife’s lap.  ‘Not in front of us old married folk.  There is no need for it!’

Elrohir grinned and ran sensuous fingers through his wife’s unusually dishevelled fair locks until she tangled his fingers in hers to still his hand.  ‘I think this trip was a very good idea, my brother.  I congratulate you.’

‘It is a delight to get away from everyone,’ Legolas admitted. ‘I had no idea how tired I would become of endless curiosity and spite disguised as congratulations.  I would love to move away from the chattering crowds and take refuge among the trees.’

‘It is still all a little tidy around here,’ Elladan criticised.  ‘Even the wilderness seems manicured. And I am not even a wild Wood Elf of the deep dark forest.  Legolas, of course,’ he said seriously, aiming the comment at the green eyes looking at him with some suspicion, ‘prefers his woods to be untamed, with the added entertainment of wolves and giant spiders.’

‘Don’t forget the orcs,’ suggested his brother.  ‘And then there should be the evil presence of a Nazgul or two, just to stop the rest from becoming too mundane.’

As she shivered, her husband tightened his hold. ‘They lie,’ he told her. ‘We elves of Lasgalen prefer our forests to come without the extras.’

Elladan took his wife’s hand and raised it to his lips.  ‘I am sorry,’ he said.  ‘I forgot for a moment that it was your home as well as the breeding ground of the spawn of Thranduil.  It was a beautiful place.’

‘I wish I been able to stay long enough to see it,’ Legolas sighed, ‘after the Shadow had departed and the trees had time to heal.’ 

‘I loved Lothlorien,’ Elrohir gazed into the silver-grey eyes of his daughter of the Galadhrim, ‘with its golden mallorns reaching up to the sun and its air of being somewhere apart, but Lasgalen had such vitality. As Imladris and Lothlorien faded, it continued to thrive.’ 

The four elves of Middle Earth mourned briefly as they remembered the home of their youth, before they turned resolutely back to their new lives. 

‘Do you realise,’ Elladan teased the newest member of their group, ‘that all the rest of us are Wood Elves to a greater or lesser degree?  I hope you are prepared to spend a large part of our time in these woods practising your tree-climbing skills!’

‘It is an essential part of your role as my wife,’ Legolas agreed soberly, caressing her reassuringly even as she turned to him anxiously.  ‘I am sure my adar would be most disappointed to find that you were uncomfortable in the canopy.’

‘Elrond had to undergo an extensive period of training before Celeborn would permit him to wed my naneth,’ Elrohir joined in, keeping his face straight with difficulty.  ‘He found it quite taxing.’

‘Ouch,’ Elladan complained as his wife tugged his braids sharply in punishment for his joking words. ‘Protect me, my friends, I am being attacked!’

‘It could not happen to a nicer elf,’ his brother egged her on. ‘Keep pulling – he can take it.  And, in case you have not yet discovered it, he responds very amusingly to being tickled just under the ribs.’

‘Do not pay any attention to their words, my love,’ Legolas murmured confidentially, his lips touching her ear, but his tone pitched so that all could hear.  ‘Wood Elves indeed!  Celeborn might be their daeradar, but they are about as talented in trees as one-legged dwarves – and with as much sensitivity to the song of the forest.’

‘I am offended,’ Elrohir remarked, as his fingers traced his wife’s cheek.  ‘Next, you will be denying that my daernaneth is in tune with the song.’

‘I am not that foolhardy,’ Legolas returned swiftly.  ‘Even Thranduil admits that, for a Noldor, she is remarkable – although I am not convinced that he meant it in the way it sounds.’

Elladan trapped his wife’s tormenting hands and pulled her down to him, drawing a deep breath to quieten his laughter. ‘Enough,’ he told her, kissing her into submission.  ‘I begin to think that Thranduil enjoys carping at Galadriel as much as she likes to torment him,’ he said, when he had finished. ‘They are like brother and sister – they fight each other constantly, but when it comes to the point, they stand shoulder to shoulder – as at your wedding – and woe betide anyone who gets in their way.’

‘Well,’ Elrohir said comfortably, his wife settled in his arms and nuzzling happily into his neck, ‘as long as we stay in this glade, that is one fate from which we should be safely protected. I can live with that.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 15:  Signs

‘Do you ever feel,’ enquired Elladan thoughtfully, breaking a twig into small pieces and dropping them one after the other into the stream, ‘that, now it is perfectly acceptable for us to disappear into forest glades with our wives for secret trysts, it is actually rather less exciting?’

Legolas turned to look at him.  ‘Well,’ he said. ‘I suppose in some ways you are right.  But I am afraid that I am pleased to be able to take time to enjoy myself with my wife without having to look back over my shoulder all the time as I snatch a few quick kisses. That held an excitement I can do without.’

His friend accepted his words with a quick wave. ‘That is different, Legolas.  Elerrina’s father would have been quite delighted to find an excuse for inflicting some rather painful surgery on you – I am not surprised you were a little edgy about being caught.  I, on the other hand, find I rather miss the intrigue.’

‘You would,’ his brother sighed.  ‘I love waking to find my wife beside me, her head on my shoulder, knowing that she is always there for me and that we are free to take our pleasure in each other’s arms – and that we will be together not just today, or tomorrow, but for ever.’

‘Well, you are a romantic,’ Elladan said critically. 

‘Is that a bad thing?’

‘No,’ his twin sighed. ‘It just that, good as life is, it all seems rather – monotonous.’

‘Only you could complain about being too happy,’ Legolas informed him with exasperation.

‘Miriwen says I need something challenging to do.’

‘She always was a sensible elleth.  Does she have anything in mind?’

Elrohir sighed. ‘Why do I have the feeling that any scheme devised to occupy Elladan will inevitably involve us?’

‘Experience, my friend.  Centuries of experience.’

Elladan’s eyes gleamed brightly.  ‘Come, my brother, you would not turn down an opportunity for adventure, would you?’

‘That would depend, my brother, on the particular heap of manure in which you wish to drop us now.’

‘Is one heap of manure likely to be preferable to another?’ Legolas pondered.  ‘I would have thought that they were all worth avoiding.’

‘Anyway,’ Elladan ignored him, ‘I am not at all sure what my beloved wife was intending to suggest.  But – and here is the scary part – ,’ he added, ‘when she said it, naneth laughed.’

Elrohir straightened up. ‘Really?  That is quite worrying.’

‘How can that be worrying?’ their friend protested.

Elladan shook his head.  ‘Naneth sometimes shows a very perverted sense of humour,’ he explained.  ‘The only more ominous sign is if our daernaneth smiles at you in that way that says ‘I know exactly what is going to happen and I am looking forward to watching you find out.’  And do you know what?’

‘She did?’ Elrohir asked.

His brother nodded.

‘Valar protect us,’ the younger twin said piously.  ‘You should never have tempted fate, Elladan.  I only hope you do not bring us all down with you.  You are the one who wanted some excitement.’

‘Are you sure there is something to trouble us?’ Legolas asked.  ‘After all, nothing has happened yet.’

‘Not yet,’ Elladan agreed, smiling at the picture made by the three beautiful elves making their way across the bridge to meet them, animated smiles on their faces.  ‘But I have a feeling that it will not be long before we discover what particular peril is heading our way.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 16: New Life

Elladan stretched and sprawled out on the grass, his mouth gaping wide in a comprehensive yawn. ‘I have not felt this tired in centuries,’ he said.

Legolas and Elrohir exchanged quick glances of unsympathetic hilarity.  ‘What is the problem?’ the blond elf enquired innocently.

‘I cannot believe,’ Elladan shook his head, ‘that a creature so small – one I can hold in one hand – can cause so much chaos.’  He allowed his eyes to half-close.  ‘Tell me, my brothers; are they too busy with him to notice us?’

Elrohir looked swiftly back at the wide verandah.  ‘I do not believe they would notice if we set off some of Mithrandir’s fireworks.  We are no longer of importance to them.’

‘Oh, believe me, my twin, if we were to wake him up, or make him cry, they would notice us – and we would wish they had not.  Do you think that if we moved with enormous stealth, we might be able to sneak away to the stables?  I would like to spend some time in the company of large creatures that are unlikely to break when I touch them.’

‘We could,’ Legolas replied simply, ‘but do you think it would be wise?  Miriwen seems a little – shall we say – overwrought. I do not believe she would be very impressed with us should we vanish – and that would displease my wife.’

‘And mine, too, Elladan,’ Elrohir admitted. ‘As long as they are so bound up in cooing over that tiny elfling, we might escape their attention – until they want us for something, but this is an occasion of considerable importance for them, and I, at least, am not foolhardy enough to spoil it.’

‘No matter,’ his brother sighed. ‘Just let me sleep, will you.’ 

‘What is it like?’ Legolas aimed a small pebble at him.

Elladan grunted, but rolled on his front and lifted himself up on his elbows.  ‘He is noisy and demanding and malodorous.  He remains awake when I need to sleep, then sleeps all day.  He exhausts his naneth and makes her bite my head off – and he is wonderful.’  His smile lit up his shadowed eyes. ‘From the moment I saw him, he filled a gap I had not known existed.’

‘That is a good thing,’ Elrohir considered. ‘I believe I could live with that.’

‘Are you saying,’ Legolas asked, ‘that you. . . ?’

‘No, not yet,’ he replied dryly.  ‘But look at them.  Do you believe we will escape from here without our wives having been thoroughly corrupted?  I blame you for this, Elladan.  I am not yet prepared to gratify adar and naneth by increasing their supply of daerelflings, but I doubt I will be given very much choice in the matter.’

‘But think, my friend,’ Legolas pointed out, ‘how much pleasure you will gain from Sirithiel’s attempts to convince you that it is a good idea – and from the subsequent practice of what is involved in their creation.’

‘How do you think adar felt,’ Elladan asked, eyes closed, ‘when naneth and he realised they were expecting twins?  Let me assure you both that one elfling is enough to disrupt an entire household.  Can you imagine what it must have been like with two?  I have never respected my parents enough.  I must remember to tell them so, if they can ever be bothered to take their eyes from his face long enough to talk to me again.’

‘It is as well that Thranduil is not here,’ Legolas reflected. ‘He is also likely to be inspired to demand little ones.’

‘Is he still dealing well with your marriage?’ enquired the wakeful twin.  ‘Has he completely reconciled himself to the presence of your Noldor wife?’

‘He has decided to disregard Elerrina’s origin completely and bestow on her the status of honorary Wood Elf,’ his friend said and shook his head. ‘He is putty in her hands.  All she has to do is look at him under her eyelashes and pout prettily and he will do anything she requests.  If only I had her skills, my life would have been so much easier.’

Elrohir laughed. ‘I am just picturing you with a pout, my friend.  It is a horrible vision – I cannot imagine it would impress Thranduil one iota.  It would be far more likely to make him question your sanity.  The techniques used by ellyth to such effect do not work in the hands of a son, I can assure you.  You have seen how proficiently Arwen could manipulate my adar, without him even noticing – we were never able to do that.  Sons are better at managing their naneths.’

‘Perhaps you should remember that, my friend.’  Legolas prodded the dozing elf with his toe.  ‘You have been superseded in your wife’s affections and all you can do is watch.’

‘I just hope he turns out to be somewhat better behaved than we were,’ yawned the proud adar. 

‘You should be some steps ahead of him, at any rate,’ his brother reflected.  ‘There can be few pranks and predicaments which we did not at least sample. It should be some time before he begins to outwit you.   Maybe not even until after he starts to walk.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 17:  New Civilisations

‘I am astonished that she trusted us.’

‘She did not trust us, my brother.  She trusted me.’

‘Even braver of her, should you ask me.  Are you sure you know what to do?’

Elladan gazed at the cradle with trepidation.  ‘Of course I know what to do.  I have even done it – on occasion.  He will be perfectly safe with his adar.’

‘Of course he will,’ Legolas joined in soothingly, somewhat spoiling the effect by adding, ‘as long as he remains asleep.’

‘Come,’ Elrohir commanded them both. ‘If we remain here, we will be bound to wake him.  Let us sit outside – close enough to hear him, but not too close.’

‘I do not know,’ Elladan wavered.  ‘I am supposed to be taking care of him.’

‘You will be.  Does his naneth hover over him all the time?  I am sure she occasionally leaves the room – and maybe even holds a coherent conversation.’

The proud adar looked uncertainly at the sleeping elfling, then consented to be drawn outside to perform his duties from a distance. 

‘It reminds me,’ Elrohir remarked, as they took up a station within easy reach of the wide-open doors of the room in which the infant slept, ‘of the first time Glorfindel left us in charge of managing the defence of Imladris.  Do you recall?  He travelled to Lasgalen for some purpose – I forget what – and we had to organise the patrols, plan the duty rosters, analyse the reports and deal with any problems.  We felt very responsible – and absolutely petrified about how we would survive if anything went wrong.’

Elladan grinned.  ‘I remember.  It was years before I realised that he had arranged for us to be nursed through the experience and that we had Erestor looking over our shoulders the whole time.’

‘Are you suggesting. . . ?’  Legolas lifted his eyebrows.

‘Be fair, my friend.  Would you trust Elladan to guard something as precious as that elfling, supported only by us?  Of course she has her spies out. Use your eyes.’

After a moment of silence, during which he registered the distant presence of a few of the female members of the household, his brother said, ‘Perversely, that actually makes me feel better.  I ought to be indignant at her lack of faith in me but at least I will be rescued before I do anything too terrible.’

‘I wonder what is so important that your wife would leave her son to your dubious care and disappear for hours,’ Legolas mused.  ‘I asked the light of my life to let me in on the secret and she laughed at me!  She said she thought the procuring of intelligence was an important element of a warrior’s skills and it was a shame I did not appear to have any.’

‘I hope you repaid her for the insult,’ Elrohir chuckled.

‘I have not yet had the opportunity,’ his friend replied regretfully.  ‘But I will – be sure of it.’  His eyes sparkled at the prospect.

The distant gurgles of a contented elfling raised in pitch to become complaint.  Elladan leapt to his feet in immediate alarm and led the rush to the cradle.

‘Valar, he smells!’ Elrohir exclaimed, recoiling.

‘That is worse than putrefying orc!’ Legolas protested.  ‘How can you stand it?’ 

The two of them retreated to the doorway, their hands covering their noses, as Elladan picked his son up at arm’s length and, choking back his nausea, carried him to where the necessary supplies were stored.  His attempt to cleanse the elfling was somewhat hampered by his effort to remain as distant as he could, but he finally succeeded in removing the offending garment and washing the child, before covering him with a clean replacement.

‘Take him,’ he said, offering the wailing infant to his uncle and looking at the mess in front of him without enthusiasm.  ‘I had better dispose of this before his naneth returns.’

‘What am I supposed to do with him?’  Elrohir asked desperately, his strong fingers holding the small form cautiously.

‘Oh, give him to me!’  Legolas took hold of the elfling gently. ‘You have seen it done, Elrohir.  You tuck them in your arm like this and sway. It does not look difficult.’ 

The cries continued unabated and the atmosphere of panic became almost palpable. 

‘Perhaps singing might help,’ his adar suggested, as he returned and looked at the red-faced infant.   ‘His naneth sings to him.’

‘I do not believe I can think of any suitable songs,’ Legolas confessed.

‘Does it matter?’  Elrohir retaliated. ‘He is not exactly going to criticise, is he?  I will try anything to stop the noise.’  He broke into a song with a lilting rhythm and was gratified when his nephew gulped and settled down. 

Legolas joined in softly, rocking back and forth and stroking the silky dark hair, so that the first thing their wives observed as they returned was a content elfling, who was unfortunately being informed by father and uncles of the wide variety of joys available to those who visited the less salubrious inns of Minas Tirith.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 18:  To Boldly Go

‘Are you content to remain here – forever at your adar’s side with little to occupy you?’ Elladan asked seriously, his grey eyes dark.

Legolas regarded him consideringly, but remained silent.

‘In his absence, those of Lasgalen looked to you as their leader.  Now, once again, you are subordinate to him,’ his friend continued.  ‘Do you not sometimes want your own authority, as you had in Ithilien?’

‘Is this just about me?’  Legolas regarded him narrowly.  ‘Or is this a question from one of the Lords of Imladris?’

Elladan smiled wryly.  ‘It was a small realm – even smaller once most had sailed – but for a time the responsibility was ours. It was long enough to become accustomed to a certain level of independence.  I find our current life somewhat – claustrophobic.’ He stopped and looked at his hands. ‘Elrohir,’ he added, ‘seems content to act as adar’s aide in his activities here – but I wish for us to have our own lands.’

‘It is not that I do not wish to spread my wings,’ his brother protested.  I am just more prepared to make accommodation and do what is here to be done.’

Legolas sighed.  ‘I suppose that is what I am attempting to do,’ he said.  ‘Thranduil is not altogether settled – he is not one to relish living by another’s rules and he finds it very boring to spend time twiddling his thumbs – but he is happy in our reunion and he enjoys having Elerrina as a daughter.  I suppose we are both frustrated – neither of us is making the best use of our talents. However, I do not feel we can leave him.’

‘That will be even worse if you have elflings,’ Elladan informed him. ‘Believe me – any suggestion of separating grandparents from their precious little ones makes you extremely unpopular.’

They turned in unison, reminded to check on the small ellon who was lying on a blanket busily chewing on a wooden horse.  He cooed at them, waving his hand in the air and they beamed an instant brilliant response to their new lord’s condescension. 

‘I cannot blame adar and naneth for that,’ Elrohir admitted. ‘Or Miriwen’s parents.  He is delightful.’

Elladan inspected him with the proud but slightly more jaded view of an adar.  ‘He is rather nice to have around,’ he conceded, ‘but he causes a lot of fuss and there is more involved in looking after him than I would have thought possible.’

‘If you had a tail, you would wag it,’ Legolas repeated the old saying. ‘Do not try to fool us into thinking you would change him for anything.’

‘He needs a real home in which to grow up.  A place of his own.  It is not,’ Elladan reverted to the former topic, ‘as if there is not land in plenty. We would not want to take anything away from those who are already here.  We could all move to the empty lands and establish our own states.’

‘Would it be necessary to hold it from the High King? Thranduil would not care for that.’

Elrohir spread his hands.  ‘Do we not accept his authority anyway, purely by being here?’ he asked.

‘Would Elrond stay here?’

‘I believe,’ Elrohir said slowly, watching his brother lift the elfling above his head and pull a face to make him giggle, ‘that our elders – among whom I include your adar – are much further along this path than we are.  We have been somewhat – distracted from politics recently. And if Lasgalen and Lothlorien make new havens for themselves, then Sirithiel’s parents and Miriwen’s are likely to be among those who journey to the new lands.  We ourselves would go with our parents to build a new Imladris.’

‘That would leave Elerrina further divided from her parents,’ Legolas mused.

‘Would she mind?’

‘They would,’ he answered honestly.  ‘I am not sure how she would respond.’

Elladan glanced away from his game of peek-a-boo, grinning at them.  ‘Miriwen would tell you not to be patronising,’ he told him.  ‘That you should not treat your wife as mindless and helpless, but involve her in the decision-making.  I think you would find that she is far more aware of these plans than you might think.’

‘You have discussed this with your wife?’ Legolas was slightly surprised. ‘You have changed! When you are worrying over something, you are usually like a clam.’

‘Miriwen does not care for clams,’ his friend replied dryly. ‘Or indeed, any shellfish.’

They laughed, and Elrohir declared, ‘Sirithiel has her own ways of finding out what is happening.  I find it is a mistake not to talk over what is in my mind, because she usually knows it anyway – and she has a way of clearing my head and easing my heart.’

‘You are right,’ Legolas admitted. ‘We need to talk about this – not just with our wives, but with our parents. If they are excluding us from their discussions, then they are guilty of patronising us.  We are none of us elflings.’

‘Except you,’ Elladan commented lovingly to the crowing ellon, as a trail of dribble fell from his open mouth to land in his adar’s eye.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 19:  Where None Has Gone


‘Are you sure you do not wish to run, my friend?’ Elladan asked, a somewhat malicious glint in his eye as he viewed Legolas’s pallor and shocked expression.

‘Even adar says it is exceptional,’ Elrohir added.  ‘It is almost unknown among elves.’

Even the rill rippling past their feet and the leaves rustling in the breeze seemed to be expressing their amusement and chuckling at the news borne by the elf before them.

‘Twins,’ Legolas said numbly.

‘In fact, they may be the only pair of known elven twins who do not have the blood of Men in their veins,’ Elladan continued.  ‘Elerrina’s family have never left Valinor – are you certain there is no history of mixed marriage in your family?’

‘Twins,’ Legolas repeated.

Elrohir laughed.  ‘You cannot keep saying that, my friend.  Twins, yes – accept the news and be joyful.’ 

‘But twins!’

‘Oh, hit him, Elrohir!  He needs something to bring him out of shock.’

‘Console yourself, Legolas, with the knowledge that they will not be identical.  At least they will not be able to torment all those around them by pretending to be each other.’

‘How is Elerrina reacting to the news?’  Elladan looked at him sharply.

‘Twins,’ Legolas said again.  ‘She said we would be having twins.’

‘You are being monotonous, Thranduilion!  Have you told your adar yet?  What did he have to say about it – and do not say ‘twins’ or I will be forced to punish you!’

‘You have known long enough to recover the power of speech, Legolas,’ Elrohir said with slightly more sympathy.  ‘Part with some information, my friend.  We wish to know more details.’

Legolas drew a deep breath. ‘Elerrina is thrilled,’ he forced himself to say. ‘Adar is delighted.  Your adar is grinning in much the same way that Elladan is.  Your naneth is dancing with joy.  Miriwen has a ‘just you wait’ expression pinned to her face. Lady Galadriel is amused.  Lord Celeborn is bemused.  Sirithiel – ,’ he frowned, ‘seems to be in two minds. She is smiling, but there is a look in her eyes.’

Elrohir shrugged apologetically.  ‘I think she would like to have been next to offer news of a new arrival, my friend.’

His brother put a consoling hand on his shoulder.  ‘Do not worry, Elrohir.  It will happen when the time is right for you.  Sirithiel is ready, but I sense a shadow of doubt in you.  You need to talk to each other.’

‘So what do the midwives say, Legolas?’ Elrohir said, returning to the interrogation.

‘They say, ‘Twins’,’ Legolas replied.  ‘They say, ‘It does not happen’. They say, ‘We do not know what to expect’.  Why do you think they sent us to Elrond?  He is the only healer in the Blessed Realm with experience of a twin pregnancy in an elf.’

‘And what did adar say?’

‘He said not to worry and he sent Elerrina to your naneth – and she settled most of her anxieties easily.  Strange as it might seem, Celebrian enjoyed expecting you two.  Even stranger, she managed to convince my wife that looking after two growing babies at the same time enhanced the pleasure of being a nana and that it was wonderful for elflings to grow up with close siblings.’

‘Is it?’ enquired Elladan.  ‘I do not recall.  I remember it made it much easier to create complete mayhem – although perhaps I should not be telling you that.’

‘Twins,’ Legolas moaned, reminded of his problem.

‘But mixed,’ encouraged Elrohir.  ‘Adar says an ellon and an elleth.  That is unique.’

‘I do not want my family to be unique,’ his friend protested. ‘And can you imagine what Elerrina’s parents will say when they hear?’

‘Unfortunately,’ said Elladan, ‘I can imagine exactly what they will say.’  He paused and glanced at his brother and, together they howled with laughter as they announced a single word. 



The Paradise of Elves – Part 20:  Arachnophobia

‘So how are you enjoying the visit of your beloved’s naneth?’ Elladan said.

‘The long visit,’ his brother added helpfully.

‘The very long visit.’ 

The twins laughed with wicked glee at the idea of Legolas being condemned to accept the presence of Elerrina’s less than approving naneth until after the eventual arrival of the long-awaited elflings.   

The look he returned was acid enough to rot tempered steel.  ‘It is all very well for you two,’ he snapped.  ‘Miriwen and Sirithiel have reasonable parents, who seem, for some incomprehensible reason, to think that you make acceptable spouses for their daughters.  Having Linevende staying with us is like sharing a house with a giant spider – you never know when she is going to bite next and she can be truly venomous.  Even Elerrina is not safe from her tongue.’

‘How does she deal with your adar?’ Elrohir asked curiously.

‘Carefully, my friend, carefully.  At least she has sufficient wisdom to recognise that his patience can be tried too far.  She has no such scruples as far as I am concerned! I, after all, am in her opinion responsible for what she considers an embarrassing twist on what is usually an exciting prospect.  If it were not that I have no wish to distress my wife, I would have packed her off to rejoin her colony of fellow arachnids weeks ago.’

‘Perhaps you should point out that spiders usually number their descendents in much larger quantity,’ Elladan remarked. ‘Two is a modest achievement.’

There was a moment’s pause.  ‘That would make Elerrina a spider, too,’ Elrohir protested.  ‘She is nothing like her naneth.’

Elladan waved his hands dismissively.  ‘Perhaps she is a changeling,’ he offered.

‘At least Linevende is better than she was at first,’ Legolas admitted.  ‘Your adar has had Celebrian keeping a close eye on Elerrina and your naneth could see how much the situation troubled her, so she brought your daernaneth into the game.’

‘Ouch,’ Elladan winced.  ‘I should think Shelob did not know what hit her.’

‘They were more subtle than that,’ Legolas said.  ‘Celebrian pointed out that Elerrina’s naneth would be sharing a unique distinction with Galadriel, as daernaneths to the only two sets of twins living here in Valinor.  You could see the cogs turning as Linevende thought over the information and her head swelled.  Then your naneth suggested that Elerrina invite your daernaneth to pay a visit.’

‘What did your adar think of that?’

‘Oh, the plan was for it to take place in his absence,’ Legolas sighed. ‘All females together.’

‘I take it,’ remarked Elrohir, ‘that did not work out that way.’

Legolas laughed and shook his head.  ‘If I could have watched it from a safe distance, it would have been amazing,’ he commented. ‘Your daernaneth and my adar were both lifting their eyebrows and looking down their noses at each other – at times, they are so alike!  Thranduil had that expression that could cow the Dark Lord himself – and it was making no impression at all.  The atmosphere was so charged you could barely breathe.’

‘I wish I could have been there,’ Elladan said regretfully.  ‘It sounds as if it should not have been missed.’

‘You could have had my place with pleasure,’ his friend replied wryly. ‘It was not until Thranduil settled down enough to listen to what Lady Galadriel was saying that he understood what she was doing – and then, of course, he had to remain stiff as a board so as not to give the game away.’  He grinned. ‘He did not find it too difficult – as he has to be grateful to your daernaneth for placating Linevende, who now believes she is on excellent terms with Finarfin’s daughter.  Although funnily enough, Elerrina tells me her naneth is most pleased by the fact that Thranduil is even more stand-offish with Lady Galadriel than he is with her.’

The twins chortled at the picture of Thranduil between the two redoubtable females. ‘How much longer do you have to wait, Legolas?’ Elrohir enquired.

‘Ah, that is a little difficult to judge,’ he sighed. ‘It should be thirty eight days, but apparently, as twins, they are likely to arrive early.’

‘Which is a good thing,’ Elladan commented idly.  ‘For it means that Shelob will leave sooner.’

‘How did you endure the waiting, my friend?’ His friend turned anguished eyes on him.  ‘Elerrina is increasingly uncomfortable and anxious – and there is nothing I can do! Nothing!’

‘Hold her,’ the twin said simply. ‘Hold her and reassure her – and endure the insults she hurls at you.  And make your peace with her naneth if you can.  She needs both of you.’

‘I might be able to placate the spider by letting her bite me, but there is worse is to come,’ Legolas said gloomily.

‘What is that?’

‘Elerrina’s adar is about to join the happy party.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 21: Come out to Play

He stood beneath the spreading arms of the old oak, leaning against the solid strength of the trunk, his eyes half shut.

‘There you are!’  Elladan sat on the bench and drew his feet up to cross them, so that he perched like a bird on a twig. ‘I am surprised you are not with Thranduil and your adar-in-law, re-fighting the War of Wrath and arguing over every detail.’

Elrohir draped himself over the grass.  ‘Why are you not with your wife, Legolas?’

‘She does not want me there,’ he replied gloomily.  ‘She told me to get out before she took something sharp and used it to ensure that my suffering was as great as hers and that I would never be able to put her in this position again.  Your adar said that my presence was currently not helpful, so he suggested that I take a break.’

‘She does not mean it,’ Elladan told him sympathetically.  ‘I can tell you from experience that she will forget every curse she has hurled at your head within minutes of their arrival – more; she will deny that she ever uttered them.’ 

‘That is what her naneth said.  I am not sure I believe her.’

Elrohir looked at him enquiringly.  ‘You seem to have made peace with the great spider,’ he remarked.  ‘Do I take that she is not as bad as you would have had us believe?’

Legolas looked shamefaced. ‘I should not have said what I did about her,’ he admitted. ‘She was only worried about Elerrina.  I can understand that.’  He cast an anxious glance at the windows.

‘It is odd, is it not,’ Elrohir said after a few minutes of silence, ‘how things change and you do not even realise it.  It seems no time ago that we were riding out after orc and adar was fretting that we would be injured – no matter how many years we attained everybody still seemed to think of us as elflings. Yet now. . .’ 

‘It is marriage, I think,’ his brother mused.  ‘It puts you in a different category.  You are an elfling, at your parents’ command – and then you are a youth, and that lasts until you take to yourself the responsibilities of adulthood – maybe fifty years, maybe five thousand, it does not seem to matter.  Once you marry, you are closer to becoming their equal – and then parenthood takes you further along that path.  I feel I have more in common with adar now, even though Elrin is still so young.’

‘It will take more than elflings to make my adar treat me as his equal,’ Legolas commented.

‘Well,’ Elrohir shrugged. ‘That is Thranduil for you. He has always been your king as well as your adar – it makes a difference.   He needs to be in control – but you deal with him well. Notice he has you standing at his side now, rather than bowing before his throne.’

‘Elrond is your lord as well as your adar,’ Legolas observed, ‘but you have had an easier time with him.’

‘He is a diplomat rather than an autocrat,’ Elladan offered. ‘It makes a difference. He would still command – he was just better at making it sound like a request.’

‘And he was – and still is – very talented at leading you into making the decision upon which he would have insisted – and then congratulating you on your good sense,’ Elrohir added ironically.  ‘Typical healer.’

They lapsed into silence again, unable to concentrate for the buzz of activity not far away. 

‘It is so much easier when you are the one over whom the healers are fussing,’ Legolas said finally, his voice strained. ‘Standing by and waiting is unbearable.’

‘If adar was worried, he would have summoned you,’ Elladan told him, injecting as much calm confidence into his tones as he could.  ‘As long as he lets you wait here, you know that things are going well.’

Even as he spoke a head appeared at the window and Elerrina’s mother beckoned.  Legolas was across the lawn and into the house before his friends had time to stand, leaving nothing but a stir of air behind him.

As Elrond’s sons strolled across the sunlit grass towards the house, the tension emanating from the room above, risen to the point of frenzy, suddenly stilled and a wave of wonder replaced the sense of anxiety.

‘I think this is it, my brother,’ Elrohir smiled, as the mewling wail of a new-born reached them.

‘I wonder which one it is,’ his twin said. ‘Ellon or ellyth?  Any wagers?’

Elrohir shook his head.  ‘Not this time,’ he answered, his face bright with anticipation. ‘Come, by the time we reach the house, I suspect the second-comer will have arrived.  Let us go and join the welcome.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 22: Enthusiasm

Elrohir looked around him and drew a deep breath of the cold air. ‘I have missed this,’ he said.

‘Wet feet?’ enquired his brother.

‘Poor hunting?’ suggested Legolas.

‘I think this is the longest period we have ever spent without riding out on patrol,’ Elrohir pointed out.  ‘The longest time in all our lives when we have sat within walls dealing with management and negotiation – talking over the price of flour, working out contracts, settling disputes, salving hurt feelings.’  He shuddered dramatically. ‘It makes me feel that at last adar is in agreement with us that we are grown-up. This is a happy escape.  I find that I am enjoying not knowing what is awaiting us over the next hill.’

‘I know what you mean,’ Elladan sighed. ‘I am not made to sit and shuffle paper.’

‘And yet,’ said Legolas, ‘I have never felt so guilty.  I am actually carrying out a mission – we have been instructed to do this and our wives appeared content to wave us farewell – but all I can see is Elerrina pacing the floor throughout the whole night because the little terrors will not sleep.’

‘It passes, my friend,’ the voice of experience informed him.  ‘Or, if it does not, then ensuring they are placed in a room distant enough for you not to hear them can be of help.’

Legolas threw him a cynical glance.  ‘Oh yes, Elladan. I can see you being permitted to abandon your squawking son.  Miriwen would have your ears.’

‘I have almost mastered the art of appearing to remain asleep,’ he offered.  ‘I will train you in the skill, should you wish it.’

‘I think ‘almost’ is the key word there.  ‘Almost’ is not enough.  And I could not allow Elerrina to struggle with two wailing elflings when I can aid her.’

‘Those desirous of starting a family should listen to you two.’  Elrohir shook his head. ‘It is enough to put off all but the most enthusiastic.’

‘And speaking of enthusiasm, my brother,’ Elladan raised an eyebrow, ‘are you much further forward? I have noticed a rather smug look about you recently that suggests that your practice has been rewarded.’     

‘My lips are sealed,’ Elrohir returned.  ‘Sirithiel has told me to say nothing, and it is my duty, of course, to obey.’

His brother and friend exchanged a look and refrained from pressing their enquiry.  Behind Elrohir’s back, Elladan raised his hand and made an obvious point of counting the number of seconds that passed before his brother broke and told them. 

‘Where is your curiosity?’ the younger twin complained, just as his brother reached the number ten.  ‘Do you not wish to know?’

‘Sirithiel has told you to say nothing,’ Legolas reminded him earnestly, a broad grin brightening his face. ‘It is your duty to obey!’

‘Of course,’ Elladan added, ‘that rule does not apply to her.’

‘You know already?’  Elrohir was clearly disappointed.

His brother laughed, but surrendered, reluctant to spoil his twin’s moment.  ‘News of some kind has spread to certain favoured people, but they have refused to pass it on – despite torture, too.  Even when thoroughly tickled, Miriwen would say no more than that I was to talk to you.’

‘Elerrina would not even say that much,’ Legolas bemoaned. ‘Of course, whenever she is not caring for the little monsters, she is asleep from sheer exhaustion.  I am glad that, between them, Thranduil and her naneth have managed to get her to agree that she will accept the help of a nursemaid. At first she looked on it as a sign of failure – she pointed out that Miriwen has no help to look after Elrin – but they convinced her that, with two elflings demanding her attention, she needed reliable assistance.’

‘Are you asserting that I am no help?’ Elladan protested.

‘A liability, I would say.  In need of much care yourself.’

‘Are twins truly that bad, my friend?’ Elrohir asked uneasily.

Two pairs of sharp elven eyes focused on him.  ‘Not you, too?’ asked Legolas.

‘This is one fellowship I am happy not to join,’ Elladan remarked with smug satisfaction.  ‘I do not know what I have done to be spared, but I am grateful.’

‘Come,’ Elrohir insisted.  ‘Let us ride.  The sooner we have carried out our assessment of the site and gathered all the reports, the sooner we can return to our families.’

‘What did your adar have to say about what has been achieved so far?’

‘He is excited, Legolas.  He is itching to make the journey and see it for himself.  If we are not careful, our elders will decide that our family commitments require us to sit at home, being sensible and mature and discreet, while they ride out to take on the task of establishing the new havens,’ the older twin warned.

Legolas gave a crack of laughter.  ‘I can just see myself telling Thranduil to be careful to avoid unnecessary risks,’ he said. ‘And that I look forward for once to seeing him come home uninjured.  That would be quite a role reversal!’

Elladan shuddered. ‘But one to be avoided, my friend.  Definitely one to be avoided.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 23:   Moving On


‘It was most odd,’ Elrohir said.  ‘Sirithiel knew the instant conception took place – it was like the ringing of a bell – but there was just one child.  It was clearly a single infant.  But then, some time later – we felt one become two.  It was breathtaking.’

‘Well, you are an identical twin, and your adar is a twin – I suppose it is not unexpected,’ Legolas remarked thoughtfully. ‘What amazes me is the twist of fate that presented us with a pair of elflings.’

‘Were you aware at once that there were two?’ Elladan asked him.

He shook his head.  ‘It was strange,’ he mused. ‘There was one at first – and then another joined him.  But was not a division – it was the beginning of another song.  Elerrina was aware that the second child was an elleth, so we knew they could not be identical.’

Elladan lifted his head from his pack and looked out over the expanse of green in front of their campsite, a broad grin on his face.  ‘We sound like a bunch of old biddies,’ he said, ‘sitting round the fire and talking about conception and pregnancy.  Before you know it, we will be discussing the best way to remove stains from table linen or arrange flowers.’

Elrohir and Legolas looked at him disdainfully.  ‘I think not,’ his brother informed him.  ‘We can think of better topics for debate.’

‘Such as?’

‘How we ever convinced Elrond and Thranduil that we should be sent to assess the progress Glorfindel and his team are making?’ Elrohir suggested.

‘Oh, we did not,’ Legolas stated matter-of-factly.  ‘I think we were the victims of a wifely putsch.   They wanted some ellyth time, with us well out of the way, so they could drink tea and gossip and play with the babies.  They convinced our lords that we were the best candidates for this task, and waved us off – confident in the knowledge that we would have an enjoyable time, whilst feeling guilty about leaving them.’

‘Do you think they are that devious?’ Elrohir asked doubtfully.

‘Miriwen?’ Elladan said incredulously. ‘You are asking me if Miriwen is devious? Of course she is, my brother.  She manages me so efficiently that most of the time I do not even notice – although on occasion I just have to catch her out, so that she knows that I am on to her tricks.’

Legolas grinned.  ‘You both enjoy every minute.’

‘Of course we do,’ Elladan laughed. ‘Elerrina uses her wiles slightly differently, nudging you gently along the path she wants you to follow – but I have watched you, my friend – you know what she is doing and I have seen how neatly you can divert her!  And Sirithiel -,’ he looked at his brother, ‘Sirithiel coaxes you sweetly into doing whatever she wants.’

‘Oh well,’ he replied amiably, ‘I do not mind.’

‘Just as well,’ his twin commented. ‘Although she finds you hard to win over should she choose her ground badly.  Obstinate barely begins to describe you.  How long did it take you to give in to her wish for an elfling?’

‘And then you were granted two at one go,’ Legolas reminded him.  ‘It probably serves you right.’

‘We are back to talking about elflings,’ Elrohir sighed. ‘It seems a difficult topic to avoid right now.’

A faint rustle drew their attention to the woods behind them. Without need for discussion, Elrohir slid away from the others.

‘Good hunting here,’ Legolas remarked as they eased their blades loose in the scabbards.  He leant his mind into the tree-song, looking for any changes or inconsistencies, but found nothing.

Elrohir returned from behind them. ‘Deer,’ he said briefly.  ‘These woods are full of them.’

‘Part of me cannot wait to get here,’ Legolas admitted. ‘The space, the trees, plenty of game – all here for the taking. To be able to bring my offspring up in the freedom of a forest unmarred by Shadow.’

‘But there are disadvantages, my friend, are there not?’ Elladan pointed out.  ‘We will lose as well as gain.  Our closeness – we will again be weeks’ ride apart.  Our wives will be a similar distance from their parents.  We will miss our grandparents.  And there are conveniences to living where we do now – I never thought I would say that, but there are.’

‘Everything comes at a price, my brother,’ Elrohir shrugged. ‘We know that. All we have to decide is how much we are prepared to pay.’

 ‘We will have work to do – work that is worth the effort,’ Legolas mused. ‘And we will not be constantly fighting against an intractable enemy – we will be able to take time to spend together and with those whom we love.  I think that, overall, the price will not be too high.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 24:  Come with your Playfellows         

‘What are you doing?’  Legolas asked curiously as he approached the crouching figure of Elladan among the beds of tall wild flowers on the edge of the small wood.

His friend looked up quickly, an expectant expression giving way to irritation. ‘Be quiet!’ he hissed. ‘Can you not see that I am hiding?’

‘You are not hiding very well,’ Legolas criticised.  ‘It would not appear to be too difficult to find you.’

‘It is not supposed to be challenging.’ The answer sounded exasperated. ‘Yet neither am I supposed to be jumping up and down and waving my arms whilst shouting ‘here’.  I have this down to an art now.  If Elrin finds me in less than two minutes, he feels I am making it too easy: if it takes him more than six, he feels I am cheating.’

‘How many minutes is it now?’ His friend’s voice was full of suppressed laughter.

‘About ten.’

Legolas shook his head.  ‘Either you are losing your touch, Elladan, or your son has been distracted from his attempts to entertain you.’

‘He will be along shortly.’

‘He will not.’

Elladan turned to him, straightening up as he did so.  ‘I have the impression there is more to your words than a belief he has lost interest.’

Legolas grinned.  ‘He has forgotten his brave adar, skulking somewhere among the bushes, and turned his attention to being the mature older friend.’

‘Ah.’  Elladan stepped away from the flowers, brushing himself down with dignity. ‘Shall we rejoin our offspring?’

‘I am certain Elrohir will be glad to see us.  He implored me not to take too long to find you.’

‘Our wives have entrusted you with the care of the elflings?’

‘They are secreted with Sirithiel and your naneth discussing important matters such as embroidery and smocking.’

Elrohir sat on the steps, his head bent towards a small elleth who was leaning against his knee and chattering to him in a sweet high voice.  Elrin was lying on the grass, a farmyard of animals in front of him, moving them around and making noises as he told a story to a the small fair-haired ellon who was imitating him as best he could.

‘Getting in some practice?’ Elladan enquired.

‘Do you understand a word she is saying, my friend?’ his brother asked Legolas as he smiled and nodded approvingly at Eleniel.  ‘I have no idea what she is telling me, but she seems very serious about it.’

‘Do you not comprehend?’ the proud adar said in apparent surprise, nudging Elladan.  ‘She speaks very clearly.  You will have to spend much more time with little ones to get in training.’

‘You do not know what she means, either, Legolas!   Do not take me for a complete fool.’

‘It took me several days to realise that Elerrina was tormenting me when she told me that,’ his friend said ruefully.  ‘She must have been more convincing.’  He laughed. ‘However, I can say truthfully that she and Galenthil seem to understand each other – although I fail to know how.’

Elrohir raised his eyes to his brother, a bright smile on his face.  ‘Do you remember?’ he asked.

‘Naneth was very worried, apparently,’ Elladan nodded. ‘Adar told her that it was quite common among twins of all races for them to speak in their own private language, but she was not entirely convinced until Galadriel assured her that there was nothing wrong with our minds.’

‘They will learn to talk fluently,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘Look at us!’

‘Not encouraging, my friends, not encouraging,’ Legolas replied with the amiable insult of long acquaintance, as he and Elladan came to join him where he perched on the steps.  Eleniel stepped automatically into her adar’s arms and took hold of his sleek golden braids as he stroked her head.  ‘How is your wife?’

‘Large.  Hot.   Bad-tempered.  Trying hard to conceal that this experience is somewhat less pleasurable than she had believed. But,’ he nodded at the sight before him, ‘still convinced that it will be worthwhile.  I cannot say I disagree.’

‘It changes you, my friend,’ Legolas said seriously, his strong archer’s hand holding his daughter as gently as if she were a dream made real while he watched the two ellyn playing on the grass.  ‘But it is most definitely worth it.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 25:  Completing the Set     

‘Why,’ asked Legolas jealously, ‘has Elrohir been permitted to remain with his wife at this time, when I was summarily dismissed to the garden?’

Elladan grinned as he stretched and leaned back on his elbows to admire the stars.  ‘Because you are useless?’ he suggested. ‘Because watching you stand there and shake was driving poor Elerrina beyond her levels of tolerance?  Because my adar thought that you might draw a blade on the next person to put a hand on your wife?’

His friend scowled.  ‘It was not like that at all!  I was calm and supportive – and did all the things I had been told to do.  And still they threw me out.’

Elladan turned his head to inspect him.  ‘There would be reasons, Legolas.  And delivering twins – especially from a first pregnancy – can be a nervous time.  I suspect Elrohir’s presence is as much to do with his long years of working with Elrond as a healer as it is to do with his paternity.’

‘Your brother has been increasingly nervous in past weeks,’ Legolas observed.

‘H’mm. There are times when too much knowledge is not helpful.  Still, I believe he has managed to keep his worries from Sirithiel.’  Elladan turned to his side.  ‘What do you think of Thranduil’s trip to the new lands?  I was surprised when I heard that he had loaded up a packhorse and headed off with no more than a couple of his advisors.’

Legolas laughed.  ‘You are turning into a perfect administrator, my friend.  Even at a moment like this, you are attempting to discover something that might be of political import.’  He admired the quality of Elladan’s grimace.  ‘Adar could not endure any more talking – he felt he needed to go and see what was happening for himself.  There is truly nothing more to his journey than that.’  

‘I am surprised he felt he could leave Elrond and Celeborn to deal with things fairly in his absence.’

‘Do you not think he trusts me to uphold the position of Lasgalen?’  Legolas asked. ‘I am his deputy, my friend.  You will show me the respect you would to him.’

‘Little chance of that,’ his friend snorted.  ‘I know you too well.’  He turned to look at the house, where a wall of glowing windows warmed the night.  ‘Still, at least you will not make a point of annoying my daernaneth.’

‘Is something happening?’ Legolas enquired, as Elladan’s attention seemed to focus on the most brightly lit window. 

‘Not yet.  But it is close,’ he replied absently.

Legolas looked at him sharply.  ‘What I would like to see,’ he said to act as a distraction, ‘is all of our elders – but especially Galadriel and Celeborn and my adar – sent off together to spend several weeks in each other’s company as they travel to the new realm.  No aides, no grooms, no guards, no-one at all to absorb the irritation – and then, I would like to be a fly on the wall, able to watch the battles that go on.’

Elladan sat up, a slow appreciative grin spreading across his face.  ‘You do not want much, do you?  Even as a fly, you would be in great danger.’  He considered. ‘I would not want to put my naneth in the middle of that confrontation.  She would be run ragged trying to keep the peace.  Your adar seems to like Celebrian as much as he is annoyed by Galadriel and she might just be able to avoid bloodshed. Moreover, Elrond and Celeborn would combine to keep the combatants apart.  No, it should be just the three of them.’

‘It would never happen, though,’ Legolas added regretfully. ‘I cannot imagine your daernaneth travelling anywhere without a full complement of elves to see to every aspect of life.  No-one who dresses constantly in white would do well in the wild.’

‘At this point I should say Mithrandir,’ Elladan remarked,  ‘but when my mind places them side by side I can appreciate that is an argument that will not hold water.’

Legolas laughed at the vision of the white-clad, but scruffy wizard, who seemed to carry with him evidence of all the places through which he journeyed, dust-covered and adorned with leaves and twigs from his hair to his hem. ‘Mithrandir can present himself well,’ he said, ‘but it is not, shall we say, his prime motivation.  He is not afraid to get dirty.’

‘He has more often been seen as being afraid to get clean,’ Elladan said dryly.  ‘But I suspect you underestimate my daernaneth.  She likes to look good, but she is able to put that to one side if necessary.  Anyone who crossed the Grinding Ice is not going to refuse the demands life places on her for fear of a bit of mud.’

He turned again to the window, aware of his twin’s tight-strung nerves as the process of birth reached culmination.  ‘The first one is almost here,’ he told Legolas. ‘One more push.’  He stood, as if his readiness would be of help in some way.

‘Keep breathing, my friend.’  Legolas rose and put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. ‘It will not do any of them any good if you faint.’

Elladan felt his twin’s stab of exultation as the infant slid into his hands, drawing her first breath to protest an arrival into a world that seemed cold and vast.  ‘She’s here,’ he said. 

‘I remember the next bit as being rather frantic,’ Legolas spoke softly.

‘Adar will want the other delivered quite quickly,’ Elladan agreed. ‘It is better thus. Elrohir is concentrating on Sirithiel again.  Miriwen must have taken the new-born.’

They waited, tense, as the new naneth gathered herself for a final effort. 

‘Done,’ Elladan announced, weak with relief.  ‘She’s here. Elrohir is beside himself.’

‘Perhaps, my friend,’ Legolas grinned with excitement. ‘We should go and greet him.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 26:  Reflections                        

Elrohir’s low voice echoed the tree song and reflected the brightness of sun on raindrops as he walked in the freshness of the early morning.

‘Will she not sleep?’  his brother asked gently, joining him in his slow pacing up and down the wide terrace.

‘No,’ Elrohir kept his tone soft and sing-song. ‘And she will not permit anyone else to sleep either.  In the end I brought her out, so that Sirithiel and Nimloth, at least, may rest.’

‘It will be a beautiful day,’ Elladan remarked looking at the dew adorning the points of the grass and sparkling on the gossamer of the cobwebs.  ‘We are supposed to be going hunting with Legolas.  Do you think you will be able to get away?’

‘Oh yes.  There will be no problem with that.  Aewlin will need her nana soon and, between our naneth, Miriwen and Sirithiel, they will be able to cope with the elflings during the day.  For one thing, as soon as the sun comes up, both of these little ones will decide that they need to rest until it sets again.’

‘Miriwen always denied that Elrin was nocturnal – she said it just felt like that.’

‘These are not only nocturnal,’ Elrohir sighed, ‘they are also possessive.  Every time I think they are settled and attempt to show my affection for Sirithiel, they wake and protest until they are again the centre of attention.’

Elladan smothered a laugh.  ‘That does not change any time soon, my brother.  Elrin still appears to have some mystical ability to know when I am drawing close to Miriwen – for inevitably the door opens and we have a small ellon with exceedingly cold feet slide between us.’

‘How did we come to this, my twin?’ Elrohir marvelled, as he stroked the flaxen hair of the infant collapsed on his shoulder.  ‘In all our long years, I never imagined the sheer simple happiness of being a husband and adar.’

‘At the end – before we sailed – I do not believe I had it in me to be happy,’ Elladan said, a bleak echo shadowing his voice.

‘It ate away at us, did it not,’ agreed his brother, ‘like a hungry winter, sucking life from those of us still there, numbing all sensation, so that we did not even realise that we were losing all that we were.’

‘And when we arrived here – it was like feeling returning after being frozen, and it hurt.  At first – at first, I wished I had remained.’  Elladan looked over the grass with eyes that were seeing another world.  ‘But then, gradually, I learned to adjust – to live again.’  They continued to walk slowly and silently along the broad stones. ‘We were right to come, my brother.  You were right to want to come.  This is our place and these are our people.’ 

They continued in silence for a few moments, relishing the quiet purity of the morning, enhanced by the joyful birdsong.  ‘Every experience I have had over these years,’ Elrohir said suddenly, ‘has increased my respect for – my honour of – Adar. Only now that I live with the depth of the bond between spouses and that between parent and child can I begin to realise how much he suffered and what he endured.  Not only was he sundered from Naneth, which in itself must have been an anguish I can scarcely imagine, he was then torn apart from Arwen when she chose Estel.   He had the strength to let them both go and still remain himself.  I do not know if I could have done it, Elladan.’  

‘I remember when he showed us the Evening Star,’ Elladan reminisced quietly, ‘and told us that Earendil was his adar.  And then when we heard of Elwing and the Silmaril – and we learned that he and Elros had lost them both when he was too young to remember them.  Adar learned resilience in a hard school, brother.’

‘And to lose his twin.’ Elrohir’s strong hands curved protectively around his precious elleth.  ‘I have at various times feared that I would lose you, Elladan, but it was never from your choice.  I have always known that only compulsion beyond your ability to resist would take you from me.’

Elladan gripped his brother’s free shoulder. ‘And I have known that you would always be there for me,’ he said simply. ‘And that will never change.’

Their steps slowed as they watched the sun creep above the shrubs that bordered the lawn, casting long shadows across the neatly cropped grass, offering the tentative warmth of early morning. 

‘A new day,’ sighed Elrohir.

‘And it is full of promise,’ his brother added.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 27: Leading Strings

‘Do you really think it will require all three of us to keep the elfling safe on a simple overnight camp in woods no more than half a mile from his bedroom?’ Legolas enquired.

Elrohir grinned.  ‘I suspect that this is one outing Elladan could probably manage on his own,’ he replied. ‘Although I can remember occasions when being close to home has not precluded trouble.’

‘Miriwen insists,’ Elladan said airily.  ‘And who am I to point out that we have survived worse dangers than being responsible for the care of one elfling?  As it is, I believe she feels that we provide insufficient security – I would not be surprised to discover that we have had spies set on us to ensure that we are doing just as we have been commanded.’

‘Then they will have delivered their first bad report by now!’ Legolas reminded him.  ‘I have already had to retrieve your son from a tree.’

‘He has more confidence that skill.’ Elladan shook his head. 

‘Of whom does that remind me?’ Elrohir mused in mock puzzlement.

‘I think it is probably just as well that your wife put her foot down about camping by the lake,’ Legolas mused, ignoring the friendly scuffle in which the brothers were indulging.

‘Valar, yes!’ Elladan laughed, as he lay back among the crisp leaves. ‘Water and elflings make a dangerous combination, do they not, brother dear?’

‘I was never any more likely to end up wet than you,’ his twin answered with dignity. ‘And I only ended up close to drowning that one time, because you had rendered me unconscious. It was not my fault.’

Legolas met the eyes of the elfling lying on a branch above his adar’s head and winked.  ‘Have you seen Elrin recently, my friend?’ he asked innocently.  ‘I do not believe we should lose sight of him.  Miriwen would be most annoyed if we returned without him.’

Elladan sat up quickly and narrowed his eyes to peer into the surrounding undergrowth.  ‘I told him not to go out of our sight,’ he said anxiously.

‘That always worked with us, did it not?’ Elrohir reminded him dryly. ‘Should we split up and look for him?’

‘Elrin!’ Elladan called.  ‘Where are you?’

The elfling put his finger to his lips and a shadow of a smile crossed Legolas’s face.

‘Come here at once, my son!’ his adar commanded, an edge of panic apparent to those who knew him well.

Elrin gathered himself and leapt, landing on his adar’s back and knocking him off-balance, so that they fell to the ground, giggling as they landed among the leaf litter.

Elrohir winced.  ‘That looked painful,’ he remarked, as his brother rolled over, pinning the chortling elfling to the ground.  ‘I hope Aewlin and Nimloth decide to be rather gentler with me.’

An evil grin lit up Elladan’s face as he looked up.  ‘Not a chance, my twin,’ he said with relish.  ‘Do you not remember what a terror Arwen could be as an elfling? And then she would give you that Look – so you could not even be cross with her.’  He turned back to his son.  ‘Just for that, you little monster, you can take your uncle to the stream to get the water.’  He laughed as the young one bounded up and grabbed Elrohir’s hand, pulling him excitedly after him.

‘You knew he was there, did you not, Legolas?’ Elladan commented after a moment. ‘I will hold you responsible for damage to my back.’

Legolas smiled.  ‘It is good to have a break, is it not, my friend?  I seem to have spent the last weeks imprisoned in my adar’s office going over endless sheaves of paper.  Elerrina was becoming quite concerned about me – she almost forced me to come away with your little expedition.  She said I needed air and sunshine and trees.’

‘Will you bring Eleniel when she is old enough to camp, do you think?’  Elrohir asked, returning with filled water skins.  ‘I have set your son to collecting wood,’ he told his brother.  ‘I told him to sing as he worked, so we will be able to keep track of him.’  He turned back to Legolas. ‘Or just Galenthil?’

‘I might leave her behind because she is an elleth, you mean?’  Legolas considered.  ‘I do not know what Elerrina might think, but I see no reason why she should not join in – or why your little ones should stay at home poring over their stitchery.  I think they should come – until they choose not to, at least.’

Elladan stood and moved to the edge of the clearing so that he could see his son.  ‘It will not be many years before he is the age we were when we started weapons’ training,’ he remarked.  ‘He finds the idea exciting – but I do not know that I am keen for him to take up the sword.  It is not as if there is anyone here for him to fight. It seems pointless.’

Legolas shrugged.  ‘It is traditional,’ he said. ‘He will need to learn if he is to fit in with those around him.  The sword and the bow – it is part of who we are. It is a good discipline, even if there is no need to use the skills in anger.’  He grinned at Elrohir.  ‘And yes, my friend, I will train Eleniel to use a bow, although I doubt her naneth will want her to learn to wield a blade.’

‘Do not worry that you will be left out. I am sure Sirithiel will understand,’ Elladan told his brother, ‘and that she will agree to your ellyth taking part in our games.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 28:  Mid-life Crises                                             

‘We are growing old,’ Legolas said bleakly. ‘I am not sure that I am enjoying the process.’

‘I only said that we needed to spend more time going through the reports and preparing a detailed analysis,’ Elrohir protested.  ‘It is true – we need to ensure that nothing has been overlooked.’

‘We do not do things like that,’ Elladan informed him. ‘A detailed analysis – that is something that Erestor would say!’

‘The trouble is,’ Legolas said, picking up a flat stone and skipping it over the lake, ‘it is what we do now.  It has got to the point where I automatically put on formal robes when I dress for the day.  Elerrina says I am beginning to look like my adar!’

‘I am beginning to sound like mine,’ Elladan said ruefully.  ‘Miriwen caught me telling Elrin that he needed to show more consideration for the staff – that was when he had raided the kitchen, looking for berry tarts.  She laughed herself silly.  And then I complained that she was undermining my discipline – and she laughed even more.’

‘We are even starting to think like them, too,’ Elrohir sighed.  ‘Can you imagine us, a few short years ago, talking about negotiations and planning – even if we were sitting in on meetings?  We would have been trying hard to look as if we were still awake. Yet, here we are, outside on a beautiful day – and we are still wearing robes and talking business.’

‘Well, you are,’ his twin snipped.

‘Discussion is not something you can do on your own, my brother,’ Elrohir said regretfully.  ‘Let us make a bargain – we are to say nothing else today that is not entirely frivolous and light-minded.  We will search out our youth.’

‘Agreed,’ Legolas remarked with heartfelt agreement.  ‘In fact, why do we not visit the training grounds and get some exercise. We will have our sons disgusted at our incompetence if we do not practise.’

Elladan winced. ‘As an elfling, I used to think that Adar was unable to use sword or bow,’ he admitted.  ‘He was always working in his study, or in the infirmary. I knew he was important – but Glorfindel was the one I adored for his skill on the field.  It was years before I realised how good Adar was.’

‘Do you remember the first time we saw Celeborn training with Glorfindel?’ Elrohir asked.  ‘I was amazed – I had never even considered Daeradar in that way before.  And then, when they talked about Adar – it was as if he was a different person in their eyes.’

‘But then,’ Legolas mused, ‘how could we expect our children know about us?  What have they ever seen us do, but shuffle paper?  And we cannot tell them many of the stories of our past lives – we do not want them to grow up knowing the horrors of those dark days, do we?’

‘We have told them tales in plenty,’ Elrohir sighed, ‘but they are all of mischief and laughter.  I would not speak of orcs and wargs and Nazgul.  There is no need to shadow their innocence.’

‘Frodo wrote down all his experiences, did he not?’ Elladan said thoughtfully.

‘He did,’ Legolas agreed.  ‘I have read it – together with the parts added by Sam and Merry’s own writings.  It was – interesting, to know the story of the Ring from their point of view.’

‘Perhaps we should do the same,’ Elrohir suggested. ‘Our children could then read it when they were old enough.’

‘Some things,’ Elladan said bleakly, thinking of Celebrian, ‘they will never be old enough to know.’

Legolas put his hand on his friend’s shoulder in a consoling grip. ‘It must not be forgotten,’ he said. ‘When the past is too well buried, that is when someone will come along who is prepared to resurrect it.  We want to keep them innocent, but that is not the same thing as ignorant.’

‘For a frivolous and light-hearted conversation, this is very depressing,’ Elrohir commented. 

‘Come,’ commanded Legolas.  ‘I will guarantee that I can skip a stone further that either of you.  Best of three.’

‘And when you lose?’ Elladan enquired. ‘What will the penalty be?’

The twins looked at the lake contemplatively, a slow grin spreading across each face.

‘Total immersion I think, my brother,’ Elrohir agreed.

‘You can try, my friends,’ Legolas said disdainfully, ‘but it will not be I who is going to get wet.’  He grinned.  ‘At least, not alone!’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 29:  Grass Widower       

Elladan lifted the decanter of wine and topped up his glass before offering it to his companions, then leaned back.  ‘How are you coping with your bachelor life, then, Legolas?’ he asked.  ‘For centuries you wanted to have some independence from your adar – and ran to outstrip the ellyth chasing you so that you might remain unwed.  And now Thranduil is off visiting and your wife has taken the elflings to see her parents and you are on your own.’

‘Might I point out that I have begged you both to join me this evening?’ Legolas pointed out.  ‘What does that suggest?’

‘A desire to recapture your youth in an evening of drinking and revelry?’ Elrohir suggested.  ‘Or would it be more correct to say you are screaming with boredom?’

‘Well,’ his friend replied, ‘I am not exactly screaming – yet.  But I had no idea how much I would miss them.’

‘Whom do you miss most?’ Elladan asked mischievously.

‘It is not a competition,’ he said with dignity. ‘I miss them all.  The house seems twice the size and horribly empty.’

‘How many people do you have working for you here?’ Elrohir mused. ‘Cleaning and cooking and stitching and so on?’

‘Naneth suggested that you might like to come and stay with us,’ Elladan offered.

‘Adar said it was terribly brave of her considering the amount of chaos we used to create, but she said we were grown up now.’

The three friends exchanged glances and burst into uproarious laughter.  ‘We were grown up then,’ Legolas chuckled.  ‘In fact some of our best disasters happened after we were old enough to know better.’

‘Do you know,’ Elladan sobered up, ‘I hope Elrin never gets to hear of some of the things we did – it makes me shiver to think of him and Galenthil sneaking off to copy some of our pranks.’

‘You do not think Eleniel would join in?’

Elrohir grinned.  ‘She always seems a bit more sensible to me – although so did Arwen and when I think of some of the things she did -.’ He shook his head. ‘Do you remember when she sprinkled that innocuous looking powder on our pillows and into our beds one night when we had been celebrating rather too enthusiastically, and we woke up in the morning with the bedding and ourselves dyed patchy green?’

His brother closed his eyes. ‘I do indeed.  It took weeks to wear off properly.  And I recall that somehow I ended up feeling that it was my fault and that I should apologise to her!’

‘It’s not Eleniel I worry about,’ Elrohir returned to the subject, ‘the elleth who scares me is Nimloth.  I think Aewlin will be a bit more reasonable, but Nimloth seems to have no concept of danger.’

‘She takes after her Uncle Elladan,’ Legolas suggested. ‘He has always felt a need to try things out – oh look, there is a hole in the ice, what will happen if I jump into it?’

‘Look, a patrol of orcs, how many can I take out single-handed?’ Elrohir chimed in.

‘If I jump off the cliff, will I learn to fly before I hit the water?’ their friend continued.

‘I am not reckless,’ Elladan insisted.  ‘I just make decisions quickly.’

‘Without considering all the information,’ Elrohir added.

They sat in comfortable silence for a moment.  ‘Do you think,’ Elladan asked, ‘that, if we had the elflings promise not to copy anything we did, that we would be safe?  After all, I can think of very few adventures that we did not attempt.  They would be compelled to be well behaved.’

Legolas turned his glass in his long fingers.  ‘There would have to be limitations,’ he said.  ‘After all, if they do not know we tried it, but instead come up with the idea spontaneously, that would not count as breaking their promise.’

‘We would have a good reason for telling them all the stories, then, would we not?’ Elrohir added reflectively.  ‘Every piece of mischief we described would mean one more trick from which we would be safe.’

‘I do not believe Miriwen would approve: she would say we were being underhand, manipulative, devious schemers and that we would deserve what we would undoubtedly get.’

‘She would probably be right,’ Legolas told Elladan reluctantly.  ‘She usually is.’

‘It seems too good an idea to waste,’ Elrohir pointed out. ‘I will put it to Sirithiel. And perhaps I will ask Adar why he did not try it.’

‘So,’ Elladan changed the subject, ‘for how long have you been abandoned?’

‘Too long,’ Legolas replied morosely. ‘And I have been left far too many tasks to complete simply to sneak off to the woods.’

‘Ah,’ Elrohir nodded, ‘that, of course, is one very effective way of ensuring that your elflings do not get into trouble.  Keep them busy.   Maybe the old methods are the best.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 30:  Safety First      

‘Are you all right?’

Elrohir shook himself, setting his head swimming.  ‘Oh yes, my friend,’ he said, somewhat muzzily. ‘Of course I am.  How is Nimloth?’

‘Elladan caught her.  He has taken her back to Sirithiel.  She is uninjured, my friend, although her naneth may decide to remedy that.  Where do you hurt?’

Elrohir considered.  ‘I am not sure,’ he replied.  ‘There is nothing that stands out. Somewhere between everywhere and nowhere.’

‘We will wait for Elladan to join us before we make any attempt at movement, Elrohir.  He is better at this than I am.’

A cascade of small stones to the right indicated that the uninjured twin was clambering down the steep wall.

‘How is he?’

‘I am here, my brother.  Speak to me.’

Elladan released his breath with relief.  ‘Are there any broken bones?’

‘I believe not,’ Legolas remarked. ‘And he is aware of his bruises.’

‘Help me up,’ Elrohir insisted.  ‘And tell me how we are going to get back up this slope.’

His brother laughed, as he began a careful examination.  ‘Not a chance,’ he said.  ‘You will stay just where you are until Miriwen leads the rescue party back to lift you out.’

Elrohir closed his eyes in exasperation. ‘At least tell me how Nimloth is.’

‘You managed to lift her high enough for me to grab before that root gave way and tipped you down here,’ Elladan shrugged, ‘and I returned her to her naneth – who is less than pleased with her.  I begin to think that only chains will keep that one out of peril, my brother.  She seems to feel that a warning about the danger of an activity is an invitation to proceed.’

‘Yet if offered no prohibition, she feels that is an instruction to go ahead,’ Elrohir sighed. ‘Nothing seems to make her pause and think.’

‘Eleniel said that Elrin told her not to try to climb down to see the nest,’ Legolas informed him.  ‘He apparently tried to divert her by leading them off to watch the parent birds circling in the thermals, but she slipped away.’

‘She will develop more sense in time, my brother,’ Elladan consoled his twin.

‘If she survives long enough!’  Elrohir lay back, eyes shut, a crease between his brows.  After a moment he added, ‘This hillside is a seriously uncomfortable place to lie down, my friends.  Can we not find somewhere a little less – rocky?’

‘You look like Adar,’ his brother commented.  ‘I had no idea until recently that it was we two who put that expression of weary anxiety on his face. I had thought it was more to do with the Dark Lord and the responsibility of running Imladris, but since your elflings started their campaign of terror, I have realised what a worry we must have been.’

‘They do things it would never occur to me to forbid,’ Elrohir admitted.  ‘Nimloth is reckless, but the ideas that spring from Aewlin are terrifying – she thought it would be a good idea to picnic on the roof a few weeks ago, Legolas, which would not have been so bad had they not decided to have a camp fire.  Fortunately, Sirithiel found them before they managed to ignite the tinder and she confiscated the flint.’

Legolas grinned.  ‘You make me feel grateful, Elrohir, that Galenthil and Eleniel are reasonably co-operative. And I believe Elladan thanks the Valar every night for the sensible ellon who is Elrin.’

‘There is no justice,’ Elrohir commented as he turned on to his elbow and began to lever himself from the hillside.  ‘You two deserve sons who throw themselves into every piece of mischief they can devise – but instead, I am sent daughters from whom Sauron himself would choose to run.  Sirithiel is tearing her hair out.’

‘I wonder what your daernaneth was like as an elfling,’ Legolas mused.  ‘Perhaps you should speak with her adar – he might have words of wisdom for you.’

‘Daernaneth just laughs, and says that they will learn,’ Elrohir moaned, wincing as he pushed himself carefully to his feet.  ‘Daeradar looks at her in that way he has and adds, ‘in time’.  I do not think he anticipates a rapid improvement.’  He tested his limbs cautiously.  ‘I believe I am in one piece, my friends.  Shall we look for a way to remove ourselves from here?’

A cry from above was followed by a rope snaking down the slope.  ‘Ah,’ said Elladan. ‘Rescue seems to have arrived.  I will go up and inform Adar that you are capable of movement.’

Legolas put his hand on Elrohir’s shoulder consolingly. ‘Do not worry about them too much, my friend,’ he said.  ‘At least they will keep us from becoming too self-satisfied in this land of ease and plenty.’

‘Thank you, Legolas,’ Elrohir said, grimacing as he put his weight on his badly scraped leg, ‘for words that I find to be singularly lacking in consolation. I will remember them.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 31:  Holiday 

‘I must thank Elerrina appropriately for arranging this,’ Legolas said, as he rested against the rail and admired the stars. 

‘It is certainly a different begetting day gift,’ Elrohir commented. ‘Most wives content themselves with a book or a cloak pin.’

‘It cannot have been easy to get your adar to agree,’ Elladan remarked.  ‘I do not believe he enjoyed the voyage here.  He seemed to spend a large amount of time leaning over the side – and I do not think he held down a single meal.’

‘He did not understand,’ Legolas admitted.  ‘My wife said that he asked incredulously if she was sure I would not prefer to journey to the forest to spend time with the trees – and when she told him she was certain I would enjoy a week sailing the coast and exploring the rivers and islands, he shook his head and muttered that Mithrandir was responsible for much.’

The water rolled like black satin in the light of the rising moon and Legolas’s small grey ship rocked comfortingly.  ‘I shall miss this,’ he said to the night.

‘Yes,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘I have spent nearly all my years far from the sea, but its song eats into your soul, does it not?  It becomes like the beat of your heart.’

‘It no longer consumes me,’ Legolas said consideringly.  ‘As soon as we took ship, the aching hunger for it left me.  I love the sound of the waves and the cry of the gulls, but it is a love that can be satisfied with occasional visits to remind me of its beauty and power.’

‘Do you not feel it at all, Elladan?’ his brother asked curiously.

His twin shrugged apologetically.  ‘I prefer the music of the Bruinen or the laughter of the Nimrodel,’ he said.  ‘I am afraid the sea-longing never became a reality for me.  I can see the ocean is impressive, but, like your adar, I could live without it.’

‘Which is just as well,’ Legolas observed.  ‘Considering how far we will be from its waters.’

Elladan’s eyes blazed with excitement. ‘I cannot wait,’ he said.  ‘I have enjoyed our time here far more than I thought I would, but to move to our own lands – it is like being reborn.’

‘It must have been somewhat like this for Oropher and my adar,’ Legolas said.  ‘Going from the lands of another, where they lived on sufferance, to a new life full of promise. Only, then they watched it turn sour as the evil spread, until they fought to hold every piece of ground.’

‘We will be spared that,’ Elrohir pointed out. ‘Although, even here, elves seem able to cast unnecessary shadows over their lives.’

‘There is not enough to do,’ Elladan shrugged.  ‘If there were more like Adar and Thranduil, there would be less trouble – I do not believe our elders have let us have more than a day free in the last month.  It is one of the reasons that Miriwen was happy for me to come with you.  She said she and Elrin would like to see me in daylight, but she knew that I would only be working if I stayed at home, so I might as well have a few days away.’

Elrohir laughed.  ‘Sirithiel’s message was rather similar – if less clearly expressed. Although she said that, if I was going to be away, she was taking Aewlin and Nimloth to stay with her parents – she felt that maybe, just maybe, if each of them had two alert adults on constant duty, they might be able to get through a few days without disaster.’  He put his head back and let the moon shine on his face, bathing in its cool light.  ‘She also made me promise that, once we got back, I would look after them for a week, so that she could enjoy a peaceful visit with her friends.’

‘Ouch – that sounds a high price to pay,’ his brother commented.  ‘I am pleased to say that Miriwen failed to exploit the opportunity to extort a similar promise.’

‘Elerrina, on the other hand, my friend –,’ Legolas said ruefully, leaving the end of the sentence for him to work out.

Elladan fixed his silver-grey eyes on him.  ‘You, too?’ he asked. ‘Oh well, we might as well make it the full set.  At least Elrin is just about old enough to be helpful.  What shall we do with them?’

‘Make sure we stay very close to the more senior and intimidating members of our families,’ Legolas suggested.  ‘Rope Thranduil into controlling Elrohir’s little terrors, set Galadriel on to Eleniel and Galenthil – and take Elrin fishing with us.’

‘It will not work,’ Elrohir disagreed. ‘Daernaneth indulges their every whim – and gives them lessons in how to circumvent their parents’ perfectly reasonable requests.’

Elladan eyed him cynically.  ‘Just because she told them stories about how we used to confuse everyone to avoid tasks we were set,’ he said. ‘It is not as if they needed instruction. They have been doing the same thing since they learned to talk.’

Legolas laughed.  ‘Actually, Thranduil is also ridiculously indulgent – he seems to enjoy making me play the ogre.  He says it is only justice.’

Elrohir stretched, cat-like.  ‘All the more reason to enjoy every moment of this excursion, my friend.  No elflings, no responsibilities, no-one looking over our shoulders – just good weather and open water.’

‘I do not know about that,’ Legolas replied with some foreboding.  ‘Those have the sound of famous last words, my friend.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 32:  Toxophilia

‘Eleniel is very good with a bow, is she not?’ Elladan remarked.  ‘Remarkably accurate – and surprisingly strong. She has inherited your talent.’

Legolas grinned ruefully.  ‘It irritates Galenthil intensely.  No matter how hard he tries, she is always able to defeat him with her final shot.  He suspects that she lets him come close to winning, but cannot bring herself to let him beat her.’

‘He will develop greater strength eventually and be able to shoot further,’ Elrohir said.

‘I am not sure,’ Legolas considered.  ‘I suspect he will not work hard enough to develop the skill.  He prefers to work on the blade drills, where he does not have to compete with his sister.’

‘Lucky Galenthil,’ Elrohir commented.  ‘Elladan and I both had to train in the same classes at the same time – I was never as good with a sword, however hard I tried. Or, come to that, as talented at hand to hand fighting.  I became accustomed to spending a lot of my time on my back in the dirt.’

‘You were the better archer, though,’ Elladan said amiably. ‘As well as being a more observant scout – and cleverer at strategy.  Eleniel and Galenthil will sort it out.’ He looked over to the young archers.  ‘I am glad to see there are more ellyth training since your daughter joined the groups.’

Legolas and Elrohir turned to scan the groups of elflings.  ‘The ellyth are nearly all Sindar or Silvan,’ Elrohir pointed out.  ‘And it does not look as if they are being made very welcome by the older ellyn.’

‘Eleniel does not appear to care,’ Legolas laughed. ‘She seems to feel that beating them at the butts is reward enough – although that may change as she grows older.’

‘What does Elerrina think?’  Elrohir asked curiously.

‘She has her foot firmly down about blades,’ Legolas admitted, ‘but I am carefully not asking Eleniel what she is doing when she and Hithien sneak off in the early morning. I have a strong feeling that Hithien is of the opinion that the ability to attack is the only real defence.’

‘Well, she is there to protect your elflings,’ Elladan pointed out.  ‘The better they are at defending themselves, the easier her task will be.’

‘I am rather alarmed by the prospect of putting anything more dangerous than a pencil in Nimloth’s hands,’ Elrohir reflected.

‘Now, there is one whom the training would benefit,’ Elladan mused.  ‘If ever an elfling needed to develop self-discipline, it is Nimloth.’

‘You do not think that it would just make her more dangerous?’ his twin enquired.

‘Well,’ Legolas pondered, ‘initially, it probably would, but she would rapidly learn that skill requires control.  I believe I would start her on the bow – it would be much harder for her cunningly to conceal one about her person – and make any other training dependent on her developing the discipline needed.’

The twins exchanged identical grins.  ‘I think you have just acquired a pupil, Legolas,’ Elladan informed him.  ‘Nimloth is still too young to join in the formal training –.’

‘And, in any case, I am of the opinion that she needs a different type of coaching,’ Elrohir broke in, ‘from one whom she respects.’

‘And that excludes her adar?’ Legolas enquired ironically, lifting his eyebrows in unconscious imitation of his own parent.   

‘Please,’ Elrohir looked pained, ‘I have enough trouble managing her everyday behaviour.  I do not want to have to deal with either Aewlin or Nimloth when they are armed.’

Legolas watched his daughter’s serious expression as she prepared herself for her turn to shoot and smiled.  ‘I believe Eleniel and I would enjoy working with your twins, Elrohir,’ he said, ‘on one condition.’

‘And that is?’ his friend countered suspiciously.

‘Galenthil would also benefit from some extra attention, I believe,’ Legolas replied blandly.  ‘I am sure he would enjoy working with those who were trained by a legend such as Glorfindel.’

‘If that is all –,’ Elrohir said cheerfully.  ‘We would be glad to share any skill we have with Galenthil and Elrin.  It will be a good excuse to spend more time on the training fields.’ 

‘And less in the council chamber,’ added Elladan optimistically.

Both Legolas and Elrohir turned to him and laughed.  ‘Do not count on that, my brother,’ said his twin.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 33:  Hanging Around 


‘How did we get into this?’ Elrohir asked as he looked down from the tree to the water swirling round the sturdy trunk.

‘Stupidity?’ Legolas suggested.

‘Well, that is a possibility,’ his friend conceded. ‘Although it is one I would prefer you not to put to my wife.  She seems to be under the impression that I am an elf of many talents.’

Elladan descended from his vantage point.  ‘Although she has not told you what those talents are.’  He sighed.  ‘We will have to wait for the flooding to go down,’ he said. ‘This very useful oak is not close enough to any other for us to escape through the trees and the water is flowing too fast for us to be able to wade safely.’

Legolas lay back easily along the branch.  ‘There are worse places to be,’ he shrugged. 

‘We only came out to fish,’ Elrohir complained.  ‘How is it that even such a simple thing should end up with us in trouble?’

‘I remember a time,’ Legolas mused, ‘when we could not walk from the Citadel to the gates of Minas Tirith without getting into trouble.’

‘And when we could not leave the borders of Imladris without becoming the target of every orc west of Mirkwood.’

‘Come to that,’ Elrohir conceded, ‘even inanimate objects seemed to have something against us.  Do you recall that landslip in the Misty Mountains?’

‘Still,’ Legolas added.  ‘We always seemed to survive relatively unscathed.’

Elrohir laughed.  ‘How many times has Adar patched you up?’

‘Not at many times as he has watched over your sick beds.’

They lapsed into a companionable silence for a few minutes.

‘Where do you think this flood came from?’ Elladan asked.

‘Upstream,’ his brother informed him.

‘Oh, very witty.’ Elladan shifted his position. ‘I mean, there has been no rain for weeks.  I cannot understand how the river should flood now.’

Legolas propped himself on one elbow, looking as comfortable as if he were reclining on his own bed.  ‘There have been storms in the mountains,’ he pointed out.  ‘I suspect the waters built up behind a dam of fallen debris until the weight became too much.’ He looked at the muddy waters lapping at the tree.  ‘It will pass quite quickly,’ he decided.  ‘Although probably not quickly enough for us to return home before Adar expects us to present ourselves at his reception.’

‘More trouble,’ Elladan sighed.

‘At least we will not be sent to our rooms in disgrace.’

‘I would not count on that, my friend,’ Legolas said thoughtfully.  ‘Elerrina was looking forward to this evening.  She will not be pleased that we have spoilt it for her.’

‘I am constantly surprised,’ Elladan admitted, ‘how efficiently my wife can punish me for any transgressions.  She is much better at it than ever Adar was.  What is more, half the time she manages to do it with a smile on her face while saying absolutely nothing at all.’

‘Miriwen is impressive,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘Sirithiel forgives me – I think it is even worse.  She has me doing anything to recompense her for what I have made her endure.’

‘You should have chosen ellyth with that delicious hint of red in their hair, my friends.’  Legolas shook his head.  ‘Elerrina does not generally concern herself with subtlety when she is annoyed.  If I push her beyond the bounds of courtesy her naneth instilled in her, she will shout.’

‘We have heard her.’  The twins exchanged grins.

‘I have often wondered what the result would be if Elerrina and Thranduil decided to fight it out.’

Legolas laughed. ‘It would be no contest.  Thranduil would give in to her at once – and then make her feel so bad that she would grant him back every concession he had made and more.’

‘Have you thought of practising his technique?’

‘No, my friend,’ Legolas grinned.  ‘I prefer the making up that comes after the dispute.  That way, we have twice the fun.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 34:  Elfling Power

‘How are you feeling?’ Elladan asked his brother sympathetically.

‘Guilty,’ Elrohir admitted.  ‘She looked at me with those big eyes that told me that I was being totally unreasonable and let her lip tremble just a little.’

‘I hope you refused to give in,’ Legolas commented.

‘I was strong,’ Elrohir boasted.  ‘I kept my head down so that I could frown at her and told her that I was not going to give way on this.’


‘She let a big tear form in each eye – and when I put my foot down, she let them spill over.  I have never felt so cruel in my life.’

‘Did you break?’ Elladan enquired with amusement.

‘I would have done,’ his twin admitted.  ‘I was teetering on the edge of giving twice what she asked and apologising to boot, but fortunately her naneth came in at that point, and Aewlin knew that the game was up.  After that, all I had to do was keep frowning, while Sirithiel saw off the challenge.’

Elladan laughed.  ‘I hope when Miriwen decides we need another elfling that we are blessed with a daughter.  They seem so much more entertaining than sons.’

‘Well,’ Legolas commented dryly, ‘that is one way of putting it.  Although I am of the opinion that sons can be fairly amusing, too.  Who was it that decided it would be interesting to find out what would happen if he added some – additional items – to the list of goods to be brought from the market?’

‘That made me laugh, actually,’ Elladan admitted.  ‘I was quite hard pressed to keep a straight face while I performed in my stern Adar role.’

‘It depresses me,’ Elrohir revealed, ‘that you seem to have so little trouble with Eleniel.  Aewlin and Nimloth seem to keep me constantly alert as I watch out for their next scheme, but your offspring seem as reasonable as Elrin.’

‘It is a deception,’ Legolas smiled.  ‘Eleniel is just a little more subtle than Aewlin – she has learned to set to work long before it comes to the confrontation in the study.  And Galenthil knows only too well that, if he really wants something, the best way to obtain it is to convince Eleniel that she wants it too – and then set her to work on Daeradar.’

‘Were we this bad, my brother?’ Elrohir reflected.

‘Worse, I expect,’ Elladan confirmed.  ‘We cannot know about our little prince here, but I cannot imagine that his blond locks and big blue eyes were any less effective in his youth.’

‘Adar would not have dreamed of letting me get away with what he encourages my offspring to do,’ Legolas said firmly. 

‘Our adar managed to be fairly firm with us, as I recall,’ Elladan informed him, ‘but he was putty in Arwen’s hands.  You should have learnt, my brother. Do you remember when we thought it would be funny to draw up a list of rules for Adar’s benefit?  How did it go?  Never let her catch your eye.  Never let her start a sentence with ‘But, Ada.’  Never let her make physical contact. If the lip starts to tremble, turn her briskly around and have her face the wall.  Somehow ellyth are much less winning once they actually start to squall.’

‘I must encourage Miriwen to think about the advantages of having elflings close together in age,’ Elrohir said, looking at his brother in disgust.  ‘I think you will find the game entirely less predictable when you are the one being victimised.’

‘What was she trying to coax out of you anyway?’ Legolas asked curiously.



‘She has a desire to fill the nursery with small furry rodents she can pet.’

‘Remain strong, my brother,’ Elladan said firmly.  ‘Remember one mouse can become an infestation in less time than it takes to track them to your wardrobe.’

‘You speak from experience?’

‘I do – by the time we returned from patrol, Arwen’s sweet little Nibble had become a great grandmother and was reclining happily with half her horde in my best boots.’

‘For the Valar’s sake, do not tell that story to Aewlin,’ Elrohir begged.  ‘She will look on it as a precedent.  And if she feels we had something to do with it, we will not have a leg to stand on.’

‘Let her have a kitten,’ Legolas shrugged.

‘A kitten?’ Elrohir repeated doubtfully.

‘You know,’ his friend teased, ‘a young cat.  They spend most of their time sleeping in the sun.  And they catch mice.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 35: Having a Ball


‘Look,’ Elladan nudged his twin.

Among the dancers, a tall blond figure in gold-embroidered green was holding up the hand of a slight elleth in white as they moved elegantly through the practised figures of the dance.

Elrohir grinned.  ‘He is still irresistible to ellyth, even though his wife is standing over there and watching,’ he remarked.  ‘Where did we go wrong, my brother?’  He handed over a tall goblet of heavy red wine.

‘It is as well that Miriwen did not have dancing high on her list of required talents,’ Elladan shook his head.  ‘Or she would never have chosen me.’

‘She seems to have taught your son rather better skills,’ Elrohir said, indicating naneth and son among the dancers.  Elrin was clothed elegantly in blue and silver, with a mithril circlet around his brow, and he seemed to be managing the complex measures of the dance with considerable aplomb.

‘Do you know,’ Elladan replied as he digested the sight, ‘that is really rather humiliating.  I asked her to dance and she turned me down.   I have been rejected for an elfling.’

‘We were not, by any chance, put in charge of our remaining offspring, were we?’ Elrohir asked somewhat nervously.  ‘I would not like to think that we had lost them.’

‘Do not worry so much, my brother,’ Elladan grinned.

‘That is easy for you to say – your son is dancing!’

‘Nimloth is adorning Legolas’s arm and Eleniel is with her Daeradar,’ Elladan observed cheerfully.  ‘Although I must admit that Galenthil and Aewlin appear to be absent.’

They both turned and scanned the room.  ‘We cannot be held responsible for whatever Galenthil is doing,’ Elrohir said hopefully. 

‘I would not count on that,’ his brother replied uneasily.  ‘I wonder where they could have gone.’

An unexpected movement of the heavy damask cloth covering the buffet table caught the edge of Elrohir’s vision.  ‘I think, my brother –,’ he said, nudging his twin and indicating the direction.

They stood and watched as the cloth moved gently.  ‘Do we do anything?’  Elladan asked.

Elrohir paused and considered, his eyes on the elflings’ hiding-place.  ‘I am of the opinion,’ he said slowly, ‘that there is really very little reason why we should not leave them where they are.  After all, if we should choose to go and stand nearby, and we keep a watch on them –.’  He looked at his brother.

‘They really cannot get up to much while they are under a table,’ Elladan concluded with a grin.  ‘Brilliant.’

The dance ended and Legolas bowed to Nimloth before returning her to her naneth. Elladan nudged his twin.  ‘Do you think he is relieved?’ he asked.

‘Are you saying,’ sniffed Elrohir, ‘that merely dancing with my daughter is enough to terrify a trained warrior?’

Elladan stilled and slid an apologetic glance at his brother.

‘You are right,’ Elrohir admitted after a moment, with a sigh.  ‘Even I would be relieved to hand her back safely.’

Legolas moved graciously across the large room, acknowledging the other guests, until he came to a halt before his friends.  ‘Have you seen my son?’ he asked.  ‘Elerrina says he was with Aewlin.’

‘We believe,’ Elladan told him confidentially, ‘that they are secreted beneath the table.  Look, my friend.’  He indicated the bulge in the cloth.  ‘They are keeping delightfully quiet.’

The three of them watched in interest as a small pair of bare feet peeped out before being drawn back into shelter.  A muffled, yet slightly hysterical giggle reached their ears.

‘There is only one thing that occurs to me.  Did you consider what they might have taken under the table with them?’ Legolas enquired anxiously.

They paused, thinking of the range of items available to their elflings.

‘Valar help us!’ Elrohir groaned.  ‘They could have any manner of things.  Perhaps we should intervene.’

‘Or maybe –,’ Legolas remarked, as he observed one of the servers offer a bowl of pastries to a small hand, ‘we should just continue to act as if we were ignorant of their whereabouts.’

Elrohir grinned.  ‘We bow to your wisdom, my friend,’ he said, and raised his glass in acknowledgement.  ‘To ignorance!’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 36: After the Ball was Over


The three elves sat in a row, each face wearing the same look of bewildered incomprehension combined with indignation.

‘How can it be our fault?’  Elladan said with confusion.

‘I do not know.’  Legolas shook his head, baffled.  ‘I was not even there and yet I am to blame.  I do not understand the way their minds work.’

‘How was Galenthil?’ Elrohir asked.  His face was pale and tired-looking.

‘Not well,’ Legolas said after a moment’s reflection.  ‘And he felt very sorry for himself when he woke up this morning.’  He remained silent for a while.  ‘He is rather young to discover the after-effects of too much wine.  Aewlin?’  he asked.

‘I shall not be happy when I find the fool who decided that strawberries and raspberries would add a delightful touch of interest to the punch,’ Elrohir sighed.  ‘Our offspring agreed – and when they found the bowl almost empty, they slipped it beneath the table with them.’  He grinned wryly.  ‘They did not care for the sauce much, she told me, but the fruit was delicious.’

‘I suppose,’ Elladan remarked, ‘that we should be grateful that their stomachs rebelled when they did.’

They considered.  ‘Although it did not do much to enhance the evening,’ Legolas admitted.

‘I thought,’ Elrohir said plaintively, ‘that we did quite well.  As soon as we heard the sounds of distress, we fished them out from their hiding place – and smelled their breath.’

‘It might have been better to get them away from the guests,’ his brother conceded. ‘I did not realise they were quite so close to – returning what they had consumed.’

Elrohir laughed.  ‘Galenthil added an interesting shade of pink to your hair,’ he told Legolas.

His friend pulled a face.  ‘He did not do much to improve my robes, either.  Elerrina will find time to be infuriated by that once she has recovered from her wrath over Galenthil having been ill.’

‘It could have been worse,’ Elladan said with cheerful optimism.

His friends threw him a look of disgust.  ‘It is easy for you to say that,’ his twin said.  ‘Your son was talking to Lady Galadriel in a sickeningly mature way.  You are only in trouble by association – because our elders long ago gave up attempting to identify which of us was guilty and just consented to let us share responsibility.’

‘It could!’ Elladan protested.  He began to list the ways.  ‘It could have been all of them,’ he pointed out, ‘they could have drunk enough to make them unconscious instead of simply unwell, Galenthil could have adorned my daernaneth with his vomit rather than his adar, Aewlin could have admitted to stealing and drinking a flagon of wine – whereas their sickness was, in fact, accidental.  It could have been much worse.’

‘We still receive the blame, though,’ Elrohir told him.  ‘We were plainly not caring for them properly, or they would not have had the opportunity to secrete themselves under the table in the first place.   And once we had discovered them, we allowed them to remain there.’

‘Oh well,’ Legolas leaned his head back and closed his eyes. ‘Receiving the blame is nothing new.’ He added easily, ‘Our shoulders are broad.’

‘Will you punish Galenthil?’ Elrohir asked him after a few moments of quiet.

‘It should not prove necessary,’ Legolas said thoughtfully.  ‘I did not provide the usual hangover cure.  I believe he will remember this day with aversion for some years.  What of Aewlin?’

‘The same,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘Moreover, Sirithiel insisted that she got up and joined us for breakfast – and I think she was planning on making Aewlin go to her lessons, too.’  He grinned.  ‘My wife has very little sympathy with drinking to excess.’

‘Wives can be very cruel,’ Elladan commented.

Legolas smiled wickedly.  ‘It is part of their charm,’ he commented appreciatively.  ‘Circumventing their disapproval is very entertaining.’

Elrohir looked at him cynically.  ‘It is no wonder that your children can charm their way out of almost anything,’ he said.  ‘They take after their adar.’

‘As do yours,’ Legolas pointed out to both his friends.

‘Oh well - I can think of one good outcome to this,’ Elladan said, stretching and yawning as he spoke.

‘Which is?’

‘I do not believe we will be trusted to look after elflings at a ball for a good few years.’

‘By which time,’ Elrohir sighed, ‘we will have much more serious problems with which to contend – at least, Legolas and I will.’

Legolas raised his eyebrows.

‘Ellyn, my friend.  We will be trying to keep our little ellyth away from the ellyn.’ 

The Paradise of Elves – Part 37:  Keeping Vigil

Legolas relaxed in the angle of a broad branch and rested his head back against the trunk of the tree, allowing its night song to flow through him in its muted restfulness.  He watched the moon rise over the wide lake, turning the flat water to an argent pathway.

‘It is a beautiful night,’ Elladan said softly from below.

‘Come up, my friend,’ Legolas murmured.  ‘It is even more beautiful from here.’

‘Can you not sleep?’  Elladan climbed efficiently, although without the lightness that took Legolas so easily into the canopy.

Legolas waved his hand.  ‘It still seems wrong to consider sleeping unguarded in the woods.  I might find it easier to accept once the elflings are confident enough to sleep in the trees.’

‘Galenthil shows promise in scouting.’  Elladan allowed his eyes to absorb the scene in front of him, but kept his hearing alert.

‘It seems a pity, in some ways, that it is a skill of which he will have little need.’

‘Oh, I do not know,’ Elladan tilted his head.  ‘It has uses beyond seeking orcs.’

‘It would have been simpler,’ Elrohir remarked as he settled between them, ‘to have set a proper guard.  As it is, none of us will get any rest.’

‘Still – no matter, just as long as the elflings remain asleep.’  Legolas leaned over to watch them between the branches.  ‘We can enjoy the peace of the night and watch the stars.’

Elrohir looked at the nest of elflings rolled in their blankets on the soft moss of the little glade.  ‘They look so innocent while they sleep,’ he said wonderingly.

‘Even though we know better,’ his brother concluded.

‘Elerrina’s brother was telling us tales of things she did as an elfling,’ Legolas said idly.  ‘It destroys her theory that all their bad behaviour is down to my influence. Adar was moved to say that he was thankful that he had not had the rearing of her.’

‘Although,’ Elladan grinned, ‘Miriwen has told me various things about your early years that you had gone to considerable lengths to keep quiet.’

‘If that is true,’ his friend told him, ‘then I shall certainly return the favour.  I would hate Miriwen to delude you into believing that she was a sweet and obedient little elleth.’

A string of babbled words made the three adars focus on those in their care, but Nimloth simply brushed at the air and turned over, her silver-fair locks spread out in the moonlight.  Elrin lifted his head and stared blankly for a moment before relaxing back into sleep.

‘Elrin reminds me of Estel,’ Legolas murmured.  ‘He feels a responsibility for all that happens round him.’

‘It is odd, is it not,’ Elladan said softly, ‘that there should be such a resemblance between two whose kinship is so remote.  If he were like Eldarion it would not be such a surprise, since he was our sister’s son as well as Estel’s, but he is clearly an elven Estel.’

‘I see something of Arwen in Eleniel,’ Elrohir remarked, ‘which is even odder in a way, for at least Estel was raised as our brother.’

‘I see what you mean,’ Legolas considered. ‘Although I had not thought of it before. She has Arwen’s fierce loyalty.’

‘And her quiet determination,’ Elladan pointed out.  ‘Nimloth throws herself into battle to get what she wants and, as often as not, suffers ignominious defeat before she bounces back to try again, but Eleniel just persists sweetly and resolutely until she achieves her goal.’

Legolas laughed.  ‘You have just described yourself, my friend as well as Nimloth – did you realise how like you your niece is turning out to be?  And Aewlin is like her ada. She is just as dogged as Nimloth, but slightly more receptive to what others have to say.’

‘I would be offended if what you say was not so true,’ Elrohir sighed.  ‘And if Galenthil was not so much like his adar.’

‘Thranduil says the same thing,’ Legolas agreed ruefully.  ‘He said he is looking forward to my having to deal with the trials of adolescence – and he has warned me that he will do nothing to aid me in my suffering.  I think he looks on the prospect as a reward for all the trouble I gave him as I was growing up.’

‘I would not be without them, though,’ Elrohir said as he watched them sleep.  ‘They drive me to distraction – and at times I wonder if I am capable of helping them grow up to be the people they should become – but life before them seems rather empty.’

‘They certainly help life avoid becoming dull,’ Elladan agreed cheerfully. ‘I think we should make a point of trying not to lose them in the forest after all.’

‘If you insist,’ Legolas laughed.  ‘We will keep careful watch over them.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 38:   Management


‘What are you doing here?’ Legolas enquired as he slipped into the hayloft.  The fresh scent of the meadow grasses filled the confined space, and the sunlight slanting through the narrow window gleamed on the golden sheaves.

‘Shh,’ Elladan looked up with a grin. ‘Look.’  He indicated a large knothole in the boards that made up the floor.

His friend crouched beside the twins and peered into the stable below. There was no horse standing patiently in the stall, but instead a group of elflings huddled over a pile of straw in the corner.

‘No Elrin,’ Legolas observed.  ‘That always strikes me as ominous.  He usually manages to keep the intention, at least, within reasonable bounds.’

‘You would not say that if you had just had to deal with his naneth’s reaction to his decision to miss his lessons and go with his friends to explore a cave they had found. Miriwen was frantic when they had not returned by nightfall.’

‘It probably made sense to him.’

‘Legolas – he is an elfling.  Remember what you were like.  The most bizarre things make sense to you at that age.’

His friend grinned.  ‘He returned safely – and I am certain you have ensured that is one error he will not repeat.’

Elladan sighed. ‘The trouble is that he is endlessly finding new things to do.’

‘If you think Elrin causes you worry, try having my pair,’ Elrohir’s voice sounded gloomy.  ‘I have just spent an hour listening to Mothwen’s complaints about Aewlin and Nimloth coming home covered in pondweed and hiding their clothes in among the best linens.  Apparently both the linens and their clothes are beyond redemption – and she did not even think to query what the twins had been doing to get themselves in such a state.  Sirithiel is going to be most upset – again. If either of you can think or an effective penalty short of chaining each of my offspring to a minder, I would be glad to hear of it.’

‘I think Galenthil might have been involved in that incident,’ Legolas said thoughtfully.  ‘Adar caught him by chance the other day, dripping his way across the entrance hall, and sent him to me.  I did not enquire whether he had company in the water.’

‘Did he, by any chance, say what they were doing?’

 ‘He said he had been told that there was a huge pike in the pond – and he thought that, if he were to climb right out over the water, he might be able to see it.’

‘I did not think that there were any branches that stretch over the pond.’ Elrohir frowned.

‘There are not.  But he thought – notice how he very carefully failed to mention the names of any co-conspirators – that if he climbed a sapling birch to the very top it would lean over the water and that would do just as well.’

Elladan closed his eyes.  ‘I imagined it worked in the way that such ingenious ideas always do.’

‘Oh yes – right up to the moment of no return, when the tree proved too young to support his weight and deposited him into the middle of the pond.’

‘And, then, I suspect,’ Elrohir said thoughtfully, ‘Nimloth leaped in to help him and Aewlin jumped after her.’

‘Did they find the pike?’ Elladan enquired curiously.

‘If you were a pike, would you remain anywhere near three splashing elflings?’

‘Well,’ Elrohir sighed. ‘At least that gives me some idea of what questions to ask.’

‘What are they doing now?’ Legolas enquired.

‘The stable cat has had kittens,’ Elladan told him simply.  ‘They are working on a scheme to persuade their loving parents that they really, really need to be permitted to adopt them as pets.’

‘That seems harmless,’ offered Legolas.

‘But the scheme Aewlin has just hatched,’ his friend grinned, ‘is for them to catch and introduce to our houses as many mice and voles and shrews as they can trap in their grubby little hands – in the sure belief that we will be far happier to welcome those squeaking kittens if they are to defend us against the rodents.’

‘She is devious enough to be worthy of her ancestry,’ Legolas said with respect.

‘That sounds like a barb aimed at Daernaneth,’ Elrohir informed his brother.  ‘Of course you realise we could render this plot worthless very simply.’


‘All we need to do is join them – and invite them to select the kittens they wish to take home with them.  They will then have no need to persecute us – and we will be in favour with our elflings as loving adars.’

‘But,’ Elladan reflected, ‘we should not be hasty.  That could possibly – and more importantly – put us equally out of favour with our wives.  Let us show our wisdom, my friends.  We will wait and see.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 39:  Getting Physical 

The clash of swords filled the air as the blond elf span and struck in response to the actions of the more broad-shouldered dark elf.  Both had the excitement of battle in their eyes – combined with the centuries of discipline that enabled each to analyse the movements of the other and take advantage of any slight error.

They had drawn an audience without any effort or desire, but they were unaware of its presence.

Elrohir kept a hand on his nephew’s shoulder, watching the pair critically as their easy movements became a little more laboured and their breathing heavier.  Finally, just as Elrin reluctantly drew himself up to go to his training group, Elladan’s greater power overcame Legolas’s agility and he managed the touch that ended the bout.

Elladan acknowledged his son’s beam of delight as he ran off, and clapped Legolas on the shoulder. ‘A good match, my friend,’ he grinned. 

‘Not bad,’ Legolas agreed ruefully, as he stripped off his protective clothing. ‘But not good enough.’

‘You nearly had me – much longer and the weight difference would have shifted the advantage to you.’

‘Next time, I will keep out of your range for longer then,’ his friend told him.

‘My brother needs to score some victories,’ Elrohir said amiably.  ‘After all, you always win at archery.  Come – let us go to the baths.  You both stink.’

They returned their equipment to the stores, responding cheerfully to the comments thrown their way.

‘Actually, my friends, I would rather swim,’ Legolas said.  ‘There are too many people here.  Shall we go to the river?’

‘Your son was most impressed,’ Elrohir told his twin as they altered their path to head off towards one of the more isolated pools suitable for bathing.  ‘I think that is probably the first time he has ever seen his adar and Uncle Legolas in full battle display.  You have inspired him.’

‘We should get Daeradar to perform for him – with Glorfindel.  That is something to watch.’ 

‘And Adar is good.  More considered in the way he fights – it is an interesting difference.’

‘He is more like you, Elrohir.  When you challenge each other, you are both so busy thinking ahead, that neither of you is willing to start to attack.’

‘What would really astound Elrin, though, would be if Lady Celebrian and your daernaneth were to show what they can do,’ Legolas said thoughtfully. 

‘No,’ Elrohir said hastily, ‘that would not be a good idea.’

Elladan grinned.  ‘How could my brother possibly keep sharp items out of the hands of his daughters once they were aware that Celebrian and Galadriel were skilled with weapons?’ he teased. 

‘It is time they started to learn,’ Legolas said seriously as they approached the river. ‘Nimloth is always sensible when she has her bow in her hand.  She saves her wildness for when she is running free.  And Eleniel says that Aewlin has made her think much more about why she does things in the way she does – because your daughter insists on having clear explanations for everything.  Perhaps your naneth and daernaneth would agree to take some part in training them.’  He grinned.  ‘I think Eleniel – and Hithien – would be glad of some competition.  And it will be much harder for Elerrina to object if Lady Galadriel is involved.’  He drew his sweat-stained tunic over his head and dropped it on the turf.

‘We should have stopped to get some clean clothes,’ Elladan exclaimed.

‘Drying cloths might have been useful, too,’ Elrohir added.

‘No matter.’  Legolas paused to admire the deep still pool among the rocks, overhung with willow branches that trailed in the water.  Half the pool was in the shade, dark and green, but the other part glittered in the sunlight. ‘We will soon dry – and we can bathe again when we return home.’

‘I am enjoying my freedom too much to waste time worrying about anything,’ Elrohir shrugged. ‘The sun is shining, the air is alive with the promise of summer – I feel like an elfling unexpectedly freed from lessons.’

‘We will pay for it later of course,’ Elladan added.

‘Of course,’ Legolas agreed as he prepared to dive into the cool water.  ‘But it will be worth it.’

‘Mind your head on the rocks, my brother,’ Elladan said dulcetly.  ‘I would not want to have to fish you out again.  Remember water can be dangerous.’

‘One day, my twin,’ Elrohir replied with remarkable patience, ‘I will remind you of the number of times I have saved you from having your brains spattered over various parts of Arda.’

‘But not today,’ Legolas called.  ‘Come in the water.’  He sent a wave of sparkling droplets in their direction as they grinned and threw off their clothes to join him in the welcoming pool.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 40:  Schemes

The rain fell in torrents, persuading even those who were not averse to exposing themselves to the blessing of water to remain indoors.  Elrohir watched, glad that they were no longer dependent on canvas to keep their possessions dry.

‘We should discover whether any mistakes have been made in the drainage system,’ Elladan commented. 

‘The pitch of the roof is designed for swift run-off,’ his brother said absently.  ‘And the gutters and down pipes should work efficiently to channel the rainwater into the storage tanks.  I am more concerned about snowfall, when it comes – we have little experience of prolonged fall and it puts a strain on the roof timbers – but we have taken advice from those who know its effects.’

‘Then what is keeping your attention so firmly fixed out of the window?’ Elladan enquired impatiently.  ‘Watching the rain will not make it stop.’

‘I do not want it to stop,’ Elrohir told him.  ‘I have just realised how good it feels to be here – safe, in our own house, among these trees, with our family about us.  It is a homecoming.’

Elladan stilled and registered the content deep within him.  ‘It is,’ he remarked in some surprise.  ‘It is almost as if much of life is back to normal after a long hiatus.’

‘Except,’ Elrohir turned to face him and gestured, his hands spread wide.

‘Except,’ Elladan agreed.   He did not need to list the gaps left that time would never fill, because only after time’s ending was there a chance of their repair.

Legolas stopped on the sheltered verandah outside and shook himself like a dog, his grey cloak shedding raindrops in a shower.

‘If you have quite finished,’ Elrohir said amiably, opening the door.   ‘You may come in if you promise not to drip on the books.’

‘I would not dare.’  Legolas squelched in, pausing briefly to strip off his boots and drop them with his cloak in a corner.  ‘Your adar long since made plain to me the fate reserved for those who damaged even the least of the works in his library.’

Elladan laughed.  ‘I believe it was the only time he ever turned me over his knee to exact immediate vengeance,’ he admitted.

‘And he succeeded in making quite an impression,’ Elrohir added.

‘What were you doing out in the rain?’ Elladan asked curiously, as Legolas moved to stand in front of the fire and allow his wet clothes to steam gently. 

His friend shrugged noncommittally, but his eyes twinkled with mirth.

Elrohir looked at him suspiciously.  ‘Would I be too far away from the truth if I suggested that our daughters had something to do with it?’ he asked.

‘I will admit to taking Eleniel to the stables,’ Legolas conceded.  ‘Elerrina said that, after two days of continual rain, she was prepared to risk whatever she and your daughters might do, if only it would keep them happily occupied.’  He grinned. ‘I even ensured that they were all dry before I left them – and Ninniach said he would keep an eye on them.’

Elrohir closed his eyes and shook his head.  ‘We had better enjoy our peaceful morning,’ he said with resignation, ‘for we will undoubtedly have to face a great deal of trouble this afternoon.’

‘Dare I ask the whereabouts of our sons?’ Elladan enquired.

‘How should I know?’ Legolas replied innocently.  ‘They are supposed to be learning wisdom at the feet of their tutor.’ 

The twins looked at each other.  ‘What is going on?’ Elladan insisted.  ‘Something about this makes me feel exceedingly nervous.’

‘Sirithiel was behaving oddly this morning,’ Elrohir said slowly.  ‘She seemed singularly determined that I was to remain out of her way.’

‘Well,’ Legolas shrugged.  ‘I can understand her desire to have some peace and quiet – do you not agree, my friend?’  He glanced at Elladan, but the other twin refused to play. 

‘Miriwen was insistent that I should spend the day working in the library,’ he told his brother.  ‘And Adar made sure that we had plenty of tasks that would keep us here.’

The pair of them turned their piercing grey eyes on their friend.

‘Oh, use your brains, Elrondionnath,’ Legolas surrendered. ‘Just keep out of the way until all the members of your family are ready for you.  It is only once a year.’

‘Oh,’ returned Elladan, enlightened.  ‘If that is all, we may as well sit here and enjoy a glass of wine.’

‘It might even keep the elflings out of trouble,’ Elrohir added hopefully.

‘In all likelihood,’ Legolas agreed, raising the glass Elladan handed him and offering a toast.  ‘Happy Begetting Day, both of you.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 41:  Escort Duty

Legolas flicked amused eyes at Elrohir, whilst controlling the expression on his face so that he appeared the epitome of frowning disapproval.  ‘You have prisoners as well, my friend,’ he murmured.  ‘I wonder if Elladan has been as fortunate in his quest.’

Elrohir shepherded Elrin and Eleniel forward to join Galenthil and Aewlin with no more than a lift of his eyebrow and a flick of his finger.  ‘I would hope so,’ he sighed. ‘Although it remains for him to track down Nimloth.’

‘I cannot believe that they have chosen to behave so recklessly,’ Legolas said, inspecting the rather bedraggled quartet, who wisely refused to meet his eyes, but continued to pick their despondent way towards retribution.  ‘So soon after the last time, too.  Did they learn nothing?’

Stifling a chuckle, Elrohir remarked seriously, ‘Do you think we should take them in hand, my friend?  Perhaps we should give them some coaching in avoiding the results of their mischief.’

‘I believe that is not something in which you displayed too much skill in your youth,’ Legolas commented. ‘Not if the half of what I have heard is true.’

‘There you are!’  Elladan stepped out of the shadows, one hand firmly on Nimloth’s shoulder.  ‘Do not attempt to escape,’ he told the elleth firmly.  ‘If I have to chase you any further tonight, I shall be too annoyed to guarantee your safety – I might just tie you to a tree and leave you there.’

Nimloth scowled, but reluctantly joined the other elflings.  Aewlin glanced swiftly at her uncle and took her twin’s hand drawing her away from the irritated adult.

‘What did she do?’ Elrohir asked with trepidation.

‘She bit me!’  Elladan said indignantly.  ‘I could understand it – just – if I had come at her from behind, but she knew it was me.  Look!’  He stretched his hand out to his brother to display the neat imprint of tooth marks.  ‘She drew blood!’

Legolas felt his composure beginning to disintegrate.  ‘Clearly that is a serious wound,’ he said with gravity.  ‘I have never seen you suffer worse.’

Closing his eyes and focusing on his breathing, Elrohir managed to steady his voice. ‘It is shocking, Elladan,’ he said, aiming his censorious tone at the back of his daughter’s dishevelled head, but, finding his control slipping, he confined himself to the simple comment.

‘It is all very well for you two,’ Elladan complained quietly to his brother and friend.  ‘You were not attacked by your captives.’

Legolas moaned softly.  ‘Say nothing, my friends, or we will never get them home before we disgrace ourselves.  Just imagine what our wives will say if we escort our wanderers in while holding each other up and giggling.’

Elladan grinned reluctantly.  ‘Do you think our parents found it as hard to control their laughter as they disciplined us?’

His twin’s shoulders shook. ‘Do you mean on occasions such as the time we put a powdered green dye on Glorfindel’s hairbrushes?  Or when we convinced Baranion that we had lost our hearing while diving?  Or when we tricked Arwen into singing that song in the Hall of Fire?’

‘I can see what you mean,’ Elladan acknowledged, his own voice becoming unsteady. ‘Adar had more self-control than I seem to be able to muster.’

‘Enough,’ Legolas insisted.  ‘Concentrate.  We can do this.  Remember why we are out here in the middle of the night.  They are disobedient elflings careless of their safety.  It is our duty to point out their failings and do what we can to correct them.’

‘I recall one occasion,’ Elrohir said, ‘when Adar took us both to Lasgalen.  We were both adult by then – but you were not, and we arrived in the middle of a most impressive performance from Thranduil.  It had my knees knocking and I had not even been in Lasgalen when you committed whatever sin he was addressing.  I could not believe it when we saw your adar and ours later.  They had clearly been at the Dorwinion and they were in hysterics as they compared your pranks with ours – and boasted about a range of offences from their own early years that made my mouth drop open.’

Elladan smiled like a cat in the dairy.  ‘Fortunately, by the following day, they had little recollection of the evening.’ 

Legolas swallowed his glee.  ‘As soon as we have disposed of the elflings, you must tell me more,’ he requested eagerly.  ‘Adar is insistent that he was beautifully behaved as a youngster – I know he is attempting to deceive me, but I am acquainted with so few who remember him as an elfling.’

‘And most of those are probably reluctant to reveal anything he wishes to keep hidden,’ Elrohir nodded.  ‘We will send our little mischief makers to bathe and, once they are in bed, we can spend the remainder of the night telling stories.  The miscreants can wait until morning for judgment.’

‘H’mm,’ Elladan reflected.  ‘I suppose it was inevitable that our offspring would turn out to be – adventurous.’

Legolas grinned.  ‘And I am sure that all our parents would agree we are only reaping what we have sown.’

‘Just as they did,’ Elrohir agreed.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 42:  Losses  

Elrohir’s arms clasped the limp form of the tear-stained elfling and he continued to stroke her hair soothingly.

‘Is she sleeping?’  Legolas asked softly.

‘She is,’ Aewlin’s adar agreed.  ‘My poor sorrowful little one.’

‘This is her first close contact with mortality?’

‘I sometimes wonder if it is a mistake to let elflings keep small animals,’ Elrohir sighed as he nodded.  ‘It seems that no sooner do they learn to love their pets, than the little creatures reach the end of their lives.  Aewlin has been weeping since she found Fluffy.’

‘Nimloth has been very concerned,’ Elladan poured his brother a glass of wine and set it down next to him.  ‘She said that Aewlin could share Patch, but it just made her sister cry harder.’

‘She feels it would be disloyal to Fluffy – show that she did not care about him,’ Elrohir told him.  ‘Do you remember the dog we adopted when we were about Elrin’s age?  Adar was not at all keen to let us keep him – he knew that, even if he lived to a ripe old age, we would still not be old enough to understand when he left us.’

‘I remember that Tug was caught in that rock slide,’ Elladan said quietly.  ‘And that I held him as he died.  Adar offered to let us have another dog – but I could not bear the idea.  I have been fond of other dogs since, but I have never risked investing so much love in one.’

‘I do not want my daughter to have to learn to guard her heart.’ Elrohir pressed a gentle kiss on Aewlin’s fair head.

Legolas closed his eyes and allowed a feeling of weariness to overcome him. ‘It seems wrong,’ he said, ‘to be confronted with mortality here.  I always thought that it was one of the sorrows we would be spared in the Blessed Realm.’

‘It seems that to live is to know pain,’ Elladan said sadly.  ‘If we are to grow, we must offer something of ourselves – to live without the possibility of heartache would be to stagnate.’

‘That is very philosophical of you, my brother,’ Elrohir remarked.

‘I am more than a pretty face,’ Elladan bragged.  ‘I have brains, too.’  He looked at Legolas and laid an encouraging hand on his shoulder.  ‘They are here always,’ he added seriously, moving to touch his heart. 

Aewlin turned her head and murmured, a sob catching in her throat.  Her adar resumed his steady stroking of her silver-fair hair and rocked her gently as she settled back into sleep.

‘What happened to Fluffy?’ Legolas asked.  ‘She was barely out of kittenhood – she should have survived another twenty years or more.’ 

Elrohir smiled wryly.  ‘She had the soul of a stable cat,’ he said.

‘You can take the cat out of the stable, but you cannot take the stable out of the cat,’ Elladan interjected.

His brother shook his head.  ‘She was too curious – and she put herself in the way of a hoof.  At least, that is what her injuries suggest.  And then, in true cat fashion, she hid and tried to lick the damage better.’

‘Aewlin was searching for her last night,’ Elladan said.  ‘Sirithiel insisted she went to bed in the end – and said that the cat would turn up.  Aewlin and Nimloth were both up at dawn to continue to seek her.

‘And, unfortunately, Aewlin found her,’ Elrohir concluded.  ‘She was still warm, so when the first shock wears off, I suspect we may have to deal with guilt that she did not succeed earlier in finding the unfortunate creature.’

‘Try as much as you can, you cannot shield them,’ Legolas mourned.

‘Daernaneth says you should not stand between elflings and the light,’ Elladan observed. ‘That the only way to ensure they grow straight and true is give them love and structure and let them be free to learn from all that surrounds them.’

‘Although saying is not doing,’ Elrohir added.  ‘The expression on Adar’s face when she said it was – interesting.’

‘They have many centuries to grow,’ Legolas pointed out, ‘and so few years to be kept safe.  I want these years to be as – untouched as possible.’

‘They will fight you,’ Elladan said, ‘every step of the way.’

Legolas’s grin held an edge of recklessness.  ‘Then let them fight,’ he declared.

Elrohir shook his head.  ‘It will not work, my friend,’ he stated.  ‘The world has a way of working its way in.’ As he spoke, he rested his cheek against Aewlin’s hair and her fingers reached up to grasp his dark braids.  ‘And all we can do is be there for them.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 43:  By the Water

Elrohir put back his head and smiled as the sun warmed his face while he relaxed on the tongue of rock jutting out into the gurgling river.  Below him, his daughters giggled as they tossed stones into the water and his wife’s soft voice warned them to be careful. 

‘It is a good day, is it not, my brother?’ Elladan sprang lightly over the jagged edges to stand beside him.

‘It is,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘Adar has shown his customary wisdom in seeing that we needed to get away from mundane matters for a time.’  He turned slightly and rested on one elbow.  ‘What have you done with your wife and son, my brother?’

‘Elrin has joined Galenthil and our over-sized squirrel friend in the trees.  Eleniel clearly longed to join them, but was not invited, so she has come to sit primly beside her naneth and aunts.’

‘It seems unfair,’ Elrohir objected.

Elladan grinned.  ‘Oh, come now, my brother,’ he insisted. ‘Recall yourself at the same age – would we have welcomed an elleth in our play?’

‘I concede,’ his brother said, raising his hand.  ‘It is only in relatively recent years that I have been willing to accept ellyth into our games.  But it still seems unfair to leave Eleniel out of the fun.’

‘She will unite with your daughters in a moment,’ Elladan said easily.  ‘And now that Miriwen and Elerrina have arrived to distract Sirithiel, the three of them will be off on some evil little scheme of their own before we know it.’

A faint flicker of movement attracted Elrohir’s attention.  ‘Have we any nuts?’ he enquired loudly, flicking a finger towards a nearby oak. ‘It is the only way to entice such creatures from the trees, you know.’

Two giggles were accompanied by a disdainful sniff.  ‘Noldor mud-huggers,’ Legolas called.

‘Silvan tree-scamperer,’ Elladan returned the insult.

‘At least your son has had the good sense to take after his naneth,’ their friend added, leaping easily from the branches and joining them on the rocks.  ‘Keep within your limits,’ he advised, turning back to the trees.  ‘I will come back later – after I have told these two what I think of them.’

‘And what do you think of us?’ Elrohir asked idly as the rustle of leaves disappeared into the distance.

‘It is just as well they have no reason to hide,’ Legolas commented disapprovingly.  ‘They are extremely noisy.’  He turned away from the trees.  ‘What do I think of you? That you make good friends, of course.’   He sat down on a flat rock and drew up one knee, wrapping his arms round it and lapsing into a comfortable silence.

Elladan grinned.  ‘Your daughter is less than happy with you,’ he observed as he watched Eleniel glance up at them and pout.

‘I am carefully not looking in her direction,’ Legolas admitted. ‘Galenthil has to give way to her far too often as it is, and I am not about to insist that Elrin should take her under his wing.’  He glanced at the twins.  ‘I used to envy you two dreadfully, you know,’ he informed them.  ‘You had always had each other as friends and companions and you were never on your own, as I was – but having my own pair has shown me that there are disadvantages.’

Elrohir turned towards him.  ‘In some ways,’ he agreed easily.  ‘But I would say they are greatly outweighed by the good points.

‘Are you suggesting,’ Elladan said in amazement, ‘that there have been times when you would have wished not to be a twin?’

‘Not often,’ his brother told him reassuringly.  ‘But it is not easy growing up as the second of a pair.  It takes time to develop your understanding of your own place.  With Galenthil and Eleniel it is different, because they are elleth and ellon and no-one expects them to be the same, but they are still learning how they relate to each other.’

‘And Eleniel learned early the feminine skill of managing the males in her life,’ Legolas said dryly.  ‘Her daeradar’s training has proved even more effective than watching her naneth manipulate me.’

‘Keep your foot down,’ Elladan recommended. ‘It will not do at all for her to see you as an easy conquest.’    He grinned.  ‘Like my brother.’

‘It takes a naneth to manage daughters,’ Elrohir said lazily.  ‘I have decided that the task is beyond me.  I will give them unconditional love and approval and allow Sirithiel to wield authority.  And when we both run out of ideas, I shall send them to stay with Daernaneth.’

Legolas looked at him with respect.  ‘That is a battle plan worthy of the greatest minds, my friend,’ he said. ‘Would your Daeradar not be suspicious of your motives?’

‘Highly suspicious,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘But there would not be a thing he could do to prevent it.’

‘Of course,’ his brother told him after several minutes thought.  ‘You do realise that there would be a chance of receiving back into your care two ellyth who had learned all that the Lady Galadriel could teach them.  I am not certain that I would consider that to be an improvement.’

Elrohir smiled ruefully.  ‘Perhaps you are right,’ he sighed.  ‘Maybe I will have to reconsider all the possibilities of the idea.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 44:  Parents and Children

‘I had never really thought,’ Elrohir said softly in his brother’s ear as he watched Legolas lean towards his naneth in laughing response to some comment, ‘how it must have been for Thranduil to have to bring his son up without his wife’s presence.  Somehow, my focus has always been on Legolas growing up with no Nana to provide him with love and approval.’

Elladan looked towards his own dark-haired wife as if to comfort himself with her nearness.  ‘It is being a parent,’ he said.  ‘It makes you see things from the other side.’

‘I would not care to attempt it,’ Elrohir admitted.

‘I should think not!’ his twin laughed.  ‘I doubt you would last a week!’

Elrohir glanced at the elflings who had escaped being confined with their parents to sit together in a group that had instantly divided into ellyn and ellyth.  Elrin and Galenthil were busy eating and, in the intervals between bites, were clearly planning their afternoon’s activities with a complete disregard of their female kin.  Nimloth was giggling furiously at something, while Eleniel and Aewlin looked as if butter would be reluctant to melt in their mouths.

‘Perhaps not,’ Elrohir agreed ruefully.  ‘Not, note, that I am agreeing that my daughters are any more difficult than we were as elflings.’

‘Your caution does not change matters though,’ his brother remarked frankly. ‘They are, to say the least, headstrong and disobedient – and far more manipulative than we were.’

Miriwen and Sirithiel had abandoned their husbands sprawled on the picnic blankets and were sitting with Celebrian, conversing on a subject that was clearly of great interest to them all, while Elrond had joined Thranduil on the rocks overlooking the water. 

‘It seemed strange enough,’ Elrohir remarked, changing the subject, ‘when we came from the ship, to see Naneth and Adar together on the shore.  It was as if we had stepped back a thousand years or more to the days when we were still young – and in possession of a modicum of innocence.’

Elladan leaned back and watched the comfortable family occasion with a soft wonder. ‘I think it is part of what made it so difficult to settle,’ he said.  ‘What we knew for truth had changed – and we had half our adult lives cut away.’

‘Do you think having little recollection of his naneth makes it better or worse for Legolas?’ Elrohir mused.  ‘I think in many ways it must be less hard.  Laerwen is detached from his previous life.  She has come to him now, in the forest realm – she is solely part of what he is here.’ 

‘No,’ his twin insisted. ‘She is his naneth and yet not his nana.  Legolas has none of the points of reference that we have.  He does not remember her soothing his hurts, or smoothing away troubles.  She is a stranger who gave birth to him – and yet, at the same time, she is his adar’s wife and love.  They have missed so much of what we take for granted.’

Elrohir watched.  ‘Perhaps you are right,’ he said.  ‘It is a good thing that he is adaptable – and easy-going.’

‘Although a lot of that is a front,’ Elladan added.  ‘There is far more Thranduil than you would think under that blond amiability.  Just as there is more of Galadriel in you than you ever let anyone see.’

‘Do not tell,’ his brother grinned, ‘or I will see that everyone is made aware of the calm and reasoned lore-master hidden beneath the surface of your impulsiveness.’

Elladan laughed.  ‘Far beneath the surface, my twin,’ he insisted ruefully. ‘I think you take after Adar far more than I do.  I have more of Naneth in me.’

‘What is occupying your minds, my friends?’ Legolas enquired as he joined them.

‘Naneths, mainly,’ Elrohir told him.

Legolas looked back to his own naneth where she sat talking to his wife. ‘I find I enjoy having a naneth,’ he remarked.  ‘She and Elerrina get on well with each other, too.’  He grinned ruefully.  ‘Although I am not at all certain that I am going to survive the extended visit of my wife’s parents.’

The twins grinned, remarkably similar expressions lighting their faces.  ‘I find keeping quiet is the wisest course of action,’ Elladan recommended.  ‘Miriwen’s parents do not mind me – and they adore Elrin – but it is never wise to contradict anything they say.’ He shook his head.  ‘I am under the impression they believe I am reckless,’ he said.

‘Sirithiel’s parents, I am glad to say, are reasonable and well-balanced people,’ Elrohir said thankfully.  ‘I enjoy their visits – and going to see them.’

‘Your daughters must take after your side of the family, then,’ Legolas suggested.

Elrohir groaned and buried his face in his hands. ‘Do not start,’ he complained.  ‘I have heard enough comments on my daughters’ behaviour.’

‘They will grow up,’ Legolas said optimistically.  ‘In a few centuries you will look back on these years and laugh.’

‘As long as I have Sirithiel by my side to laugh with me,’ Elrohir added softly.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 45: Dates

‘I suppose we should be grateful to his Highness the Woodland Prince for finally deigning to spend some of his precious time visiting us lesser folk,’ Elladan teased.

‘Such graciousness on his part,’ Elrohir agreed.

‘Oh, be quiet!’ Legolas protested.  ‘I really do not need to have you two on my back as well.  I have been busy.’

Elladan and Elrohir turned their horses and flanked their friend as he continued to ride at an easy pace towards their home.  The wide grassy roadway curved attractively through the graceful beeches and the leaves of spring green rustled invitingly to the elves below.

‘What kept you?’ Elrohir enquired.  ‘Elerrina was expecting you to join us days ago.’

‘She is beginning to look decidedly irritated by your procrastination,’ Elladan grinned. ‘You might have your work cut out placating her.  Somehow, the more Miriwen said that you undoubtedly had important business to deal with, the more exasperated your wife became.’

Legolas grimaced.  ‘I had better let her get her annoyance out of her system, then,’ he said, ‘before I tell her what delayed me.’ 

‘You have learned wisdom, my friend,’ Elrohir approved.

‘Is the excuse likely to worsen her wrath, then?’ Elladan asked curiously.  ‘I can never decide,’ he continued, ‘whether it is better to present Miriwen with all the bad news in one go and endure her reaction, or to dole it out in smaller doses, each of which brings about a lesser explosion.’

‘In your case, my brother, I should think it makes little difference,’ Elrohir declared cheerfully.  ‘Miriwen can read you more clearly than Daernaneth can read her mirror.’

Legolas laughed.  ‘In this case,’ he said, ‘it will give Elerrina a chance to relieve her feelings before she learns that my absence was reasonable – whereupon she will feel guilty for misjudging her loving husband and be anxious to make up with me.’

The twins digested his comment before throwing him identically cynical glances. ‘You hope,’ Elladan concluded.

‘You might have got away with something like that,’ Elrohir informed him kindly, ‘up until yesterday.  But now,’ he shook his head, ‘it is too late for your winning ways, my friend.’

‘Why do you think we are so far from home, Legolas?’ Elladan asked, in the manner of a tutor demanding information of a student who had not prepared his lessons. 

‘Are you running away?’ Legolas asked, aware of a slight sinking feeling.

‘That is not a bad idea,’ Elladan sighed.  ‘But no.’

‘We have been sent to hasten your arrival.’  Elrohir glanced at his friend quickly.  ‘Do not worry too much,’ he told him.  ‘No-one is in deadly peril – except perhaps you.’

‘What have the twins done now?’ Legolas enquired with resignation.  ‘And why am I to blame?  I was not, I will point out, anywhere nearby at the time.’

‘Do you not love the automatic assumption that his offspring are at fault?’ Elrohir addressed his brother.  ‘Anyone would think they were badly behaved and forgetful and inconsiderate, whereas, of course -,’ he allowed his voice to trail away, shaking his head in mock amazement.

‘One of the reasons we came seeking you, my friend,’ Elladan addressed him, ‘is to ensure you arrive with the right words on your lips.’

‘Sirithiel instructed me not to return without you,’ Elrohir remarked, ‘and to see that you were properly prepared.  She is soft-hearted enough to prefer not to have you bleeding on the floor.’

‘I know you are hinting at something,’ Legolas sighed, ‘that I am clearly too dense to understand.  Take pity on me and simply tell me what I have done.’

‘It is what you have not done,’ Elladan announced.

‘Do you know the date, my friend?’ Elrohir hinted.  ‘Yesterday was a day of some significance to your beloved.’

Legolas frowned.  ‘I cannot think,’ he said.  ‘Why do you not simply tell me – and then help me find a way to restore myself in her eyes.’

Elrohir grinned.  ‘It was the anniversary of the day on which her adar reluctantly placed her hand in yours,’ he said.  ‘For some reason, wives seem to find that worth celebrating.’

‘It is probably a good thing, then, that I come bearing gifts,’ Legolas said thoughtfully.  ‘If I am careful, Elerrina might even believe that I remembered.’

‘You have a special gift for your wife?’ Elrohir asked.  ‘Or would it be more accurate to say that you have gifts for everyone, including one for Elerrina?’

Legolas’s expression was remarkably smug.

‘You could not be more wrong, my friend.  I am late because I was awaiting the arrival of a very special gift.  One that will, in my opinion, more than compensate my beloved for my lateness.  There are, I have discovered many reasons to be grateful for the presence of my naneth.  Even if I will have to enquire of her why she did not find it necessary to remind me of the reason why I should bring this treasure with me.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 46:  Into the Darkness

‘I do not know why I permitted you to talk me into this,’ Legolas said, his stomach tense with nerves. 

‘You are not fond of caves, I know,’ Elrohir said, ‘but this is something you ought to see.’

Elladan put his hand on his heart and spoke with hurt, his storm-grey eyes fixed earnestly on his friend. ‘You overcame your aversion for Gimli; can you not bring yourself to do the same for us?’

Legolas glanced at him cynically.  ‘You are attempting to manage me,’ he said.  ‘You do not fool me for a moment.’

Elladan laughed.  ‘Come on, my friend – or I will tell Galenthil that his adar is afraid of the dark.’

‘You would, too,’ Legolas complained.  ‘I remember when you told Arwen that I was too nervous to ask her to dance with me – and she spent the whole evening dragging me onto the floor.  I had to pretend I had twisted my ankle in the end.’

‘You were too nervous to ask her to dance,’ Elrohir pointed out.  ‘Mainly because Elladan had told you that our adars wanted you to wed each other.’

Legolas scowled.  ‘I sometimes wonder why I continue to be friends with you.’

The twins turned identical looks on him.  ‘Do you not love us any more?’ Elladan asked plaintively.

‘I tolerate you for your sister’s sake,’ he sniffed.  After a further look at the shadowed cleft in the rock, he continued, ‘How did you discover there were caves here?’

Elladan grinned.  ‘My beloved son – and his equally beloved friends,’ he admitted.  ‘They discovered them by chance, some time ago – and were instantly banned from coming here again without proper supervision.’

‘I will warrant your naneth wishes you were young enough to be subject to the same rules,’ Legolas commented.

‘Possibly,’ Elrohir considered; then laughed.  ‘But we are not.’   He stepped into the inky shadows and eased into the narrow entrance.  ‘It is a tight fit,’ he said, his voice echoing, ‘but the passageway opens out after a few paces.’

‘After you, my friend,’ Elladan bowed with a flourish.

‘You just do not want me leaving once you have wedged yourself in that prison,’ Legolas said sourly.

‘No-one would believe you were a Dwarf-friend to listen to you,’ his friend replied sadly, shaking his head.

Legolas threw him a last reproachful look before easing his way in through the small gap.  The entrance to the cave seemed dark and cold in contrast to the brightness of the day outside.  He stepped carefully deeper in, his hand trailing along the rough wall.

‘You will need to duck,’ Elrohir said from ahead, a faint glow identifying his presence.  ‘It is not far – just follow me.’  He reached out and caught hold of his friend’s wrist.  ‘Keep breathing, Legolas.’ 

The amusement in Elrohir’s voice was more irritating than the teasing, Legolas thought.  ‘I am fine,’ he retorted.

‘Of course you are,’ Elladan agreed.  ‘Are we ready?’

The passage was narrow enough to demand that the three edged through sideways, hunching themselves down as the roof lowered.

‘Why would anyone even think of attempting to come in here?’ Legolas muttered. ‘It is not the first thought that would occur to me – ‘oh look, there is a tiny little hole in the ground: why do I not see if I can get stuck in it?’ – Elves belong in the open air under the sky.’

‘The ellyn did not find the passage quite so – confined,’ Elrohir remarked.  ‘It is not much further.’ 

‘It is getting lighter,’ Legolas said suspiciously, as they followed the passage round a curve and downwards.

Elrohir put out a hand to steady Legolas as they emerged from the confinement of the tight stone walls and rounded a final slab of stone to step into a cave so large that its roof soared above them in graceful arches.  Narrow shafts of light broke through from high openings to gleam on the reflective stone, turning the crystals to diamonds.  A delicate waterfall tumbled from a small opening, its spray turned to rainbows of colour.  Where light and water met rock there were ferns cascading down the damp stone to the pool that drained away in a stream of still green water.

Legolas drew a shuddering breath.  ‘It is beautiful,’ he said in wonder. ‘It is a masterpiece from the hands of Mahal reworked for elves.’  He stepped further into the heart of the cavern.  ‘How Gimli would have loved it.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 47: From Dark to Light


‘It it unbelievable,’ Legolas marvelled. ‘How many such marvels exist, I wonder, hidden in the dark places of the earth?’

Elladan looked around with a possessive pride.  ‘I cannot think that there are many more beautiful than this.’

‘Although,’ Elrohir added, ‘you have not seen it all yet.  This is only the first hall. Adar was speechless when we brought him here.  He said that we must keep quiet about it and then bring Daeradar when he visits.’  He grinned.  ‘When we got home he took out all his books about Menegroth and started poring over the illustrations.’

Legolas turned round slowly, his eyes absorbing the soaring height of the gleaming stone, following great pillars of fluted rock arching to the dim ceiling, examining curving steps of smooth slabs that looked too elegant to be entirely natural, yet too real to be manufactured, and admiring every surface as it glinted in the reflections of light.  ‘It is one of Aulë’s hidden gardens,’ he said, his voice hushed, ‘filled with treasures that are not for everyone to see.’

‘Is this some secret knowledge of the Naugrim that you are sharing with us?’ Elrohir enquired with interest.

‘It is hardly very secret,’ his friend replied absently.  ‘If it were, I would not know it – Gimli was my friend, but he would no more tell me his people’s most private mysteries than I would tell him mine.’

‘What did he tell you?’

Legolas drew a deep breath of the cool still air.  ‘That Aulë – Mahal – took pleasure in creating perfect treasure houses deep in the rock that only Dwarves could find – to remind them that beauty consists of more than a fine vein of ore or a trove of gemstones. He filled them with those things – but no Dwarf would touch them, because the hidden gardens were Aulë’s gift.’

‘A fine gift,’ Elladan said softly.

‘I wish he were here to see it,’ the Dwarf-friend murmured.

Elrohir placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. ‘Perhaps this is Aulë’s gift to you,’ he said.  ‘In memory of a relationship unparalleled between out races since Narvi and Celebrimbor.’

‘It is not quite the same,’ Legolas remarked with a wicked grin.  ‘She and Celebrimbor shared an interest in creating works of art from metals and gemstones.’

She?’ Elladan said incredulously. ‘Narvi was female?’

Legolas raised his eyebrows.  ‘Do not tell me you thought Dwarves kept their females hidden below ground, my friend!’  He reached out to touch a gleaming vein that twisted through a pillar of solid rock.  ‘Although I am told that Narvi long believed Celebrimbor to be female.  Dwarves apparently consider the delicacy of elves to be a very feminine characteristic.’

Elrohir stared at Legolas.  ‘I have not yet decided whether or not to be insulted, my friend,’ he said, narrowing his eyes in apparent threat.

‘I am just imagining them at cross-purposes,’ Elladan said with glee.  ‘Narvi believing Celebrimbor was female – and him convinced that she was male.  It must have led to some very puzzling exchanges.’

‘At least Gimli and I were under no illusions about gender,’ Legolas grinned.  ‘A few days of marching, camping and washing with four hobbits, two men and a wizard were enough to ensure that we had all seen enough of each other to be certain.’

‘You should have tried orc-hunting with groups of Dunedain,’ Elrohir recommended. ‘I would have welcomed rather more nudity, if it had only meant that they would bathe regularly.  We frequently had to make sure of the wind direction before we decided where to sit.’

‘Gimli made far more effort to accommodate you,’ Elladan commented.  ‘He even stopped smoking that evil-smelling pipe when you were around.  And I think he was the only Dwarf ever known to attempt to commune with trees.’

‘I miss him still,’ Legolas said simply.

‘Do not hide him away from your friends – and family,’ Elrohir told him seriously. ‘Share your memories and keep him alive in all our hearts.’

‘Come,’ Elladan insisted.  ‘Let us show you the rest of Aulë’s Halls while the sun is still showing them at their best. 

Legolas trailed his hand along the cool wall of the cavern as he followed the twins. ‘Gimli said that stone was the skeleton upon which the living forest depended – and that it had its own song,’ he reflected. ‘That the world we love out under the sky depended on the dark and secret depths and elves were foolish to turn their backs on them.’

Elrohir clapped him on the shoulder.  ‘Are you not glad after all that we made you come, my friend?  Just imagine – only an hour ago you were whingeing about entering here.  You never know, we might make a Dwarf of you yet!’

‘Provided the Blessed Realm is ready to cope with the idea of a very tall, thin and beardless Dwarf, of course,’ Elladan added dryly. 

The Paradise of Elves - Part 48:  Climbing High       

Elladan’s eyes gleamed in the moonlight.  ‘Tell me again why we are doing this,’ he demanded.

Legolas smiled.  ‘Because it is there,’ he suggested.

‘That really is insufficient reason,’ Elrohir remarked, removing a leaf of lembas from his pocket and offering a section to each of them. 

‘Because my wife thought it would do us good to get some fresh air,’ Legolas offered again.

Elrohir shook his head.  ‘There are many perfectly sensible ways for us to get fresh air, my friend, but this is not one of them.’

‘You are just taking it out on us for making you go into the caverns,’ Elladan asserted.

‘Would I do that?’ Legolas put a hand to his heart, as if wounded that his motives could be so misconstrued.

Elladan laughed.  ‘Of course you would,’ he said.  ‘I would do the same.’

‘How did you find this?’  Elrohir asked.  ‘The elflings?’

‘It is,’ Legolas remarked dryly, ‘a little hard to miss.’

‘Not the pillar of rock, orc-brain,’ his friend sighed.  ‘The path.’

‘Oddly, not the elflings,’ Legolas admitted.  ‘Mainly because Elerrina has threatened to nail shut the doors to their chambers should they keep escaping at night and – more practically, I feel – has ensured that some of Adar’s guards earn their keep by observing the exits and entrances available to them.’

‘Does that work?’ Elrohir asked with interest.

‘It is not infallible.’  Legolas grinned.  ‘Last time I was away they were caught sneaking out, and a very irate Elerrina carted them off to Adar for judgment.  I think they had always believed that I exaggerated,’ he commented.  ‘Even Eleniel’s skilled use of her eyelashes failed to mitigate their sentence.  I do not believe they will take advantage of my absence again.’

Elrohir gazed at the moon thoughtfully.  ‘Would Thranduil care to employ intimidation on my daughters?’ he asked.

His twin laughed.  ‘You have given up on the idea of Daernaneth as an elfling trainer?’

‘I am keeping it as a last resort,’ his brother said with dignity.

‘So, who discovered the path?’ Elladan dropped the subject and returned to the reason for their outing.

‘That information is lost in the mists of time,’ Legolas said poetically and grinned.  ‘I do not know – all those who have lived here over the years know of it.  They were quite surprised to find that I did not.  Amondil asked me one day if I enjoyed the view from up here and he was astonished when I confessed that I had never climbed it.’

The full moon appeared to smile at them from above the trees as a wisp of luminous cloud drifted past.  The light caught flat planes of the rock and cast others into deeper shadow.  Trees stood silhouetted against the sky, whilst, at their feet, the short turf glinted.

‘It is almost time,’ Legolas murmured as the silver gleam illuminated the huge monolith.  ‘The moon path,’ he said softly as their way up the vertical face became apparent.

‘Have you climbed it before?’ Elladan asked him.

‘No,’ their friend replied.  ‘I saved it for this visit.  Come, while the light holds true.’

He stepped swiftly but with care up the precipitous path, followed by the sons of Elrond, all of them taking care to avoid the loose stones that could have made the way treacherous.  The path gave way to a ledge and the ledge to footholds and projections of rock that would have been impossible for any but elves to climb and proved testing even for them.

‘Is it much further?’ Elladan queried breathlessly.  ‘I am not sure that I am cut out for life as a mountain goat.’

‘Amondil was right,’ Legolas said.  ‘Without the moon path, this would seem impossible.’

‘As opposed to the first cousin to impossible,’ gasped Elrohir. 

‘That part is the worst,’ Legolas told them.  ‘As soon as you turn the corner, there is a path again.  We can rest for a moment if you like.’

‘No,’ Elladan told him.  ‘Let us get to the top first.  I want to see if this is as good as you say – because, if it is not, I might just decide to see if you are the first Wood Elf to develop the power of flight.’

They stepped onto the pinnacle – much greater than it seemed from the bottom – and stared out over the moon-bathed forest canopy, stretching in every direction as far as they could see, to the distant shrouded mountains in the east, crossing the broad ribbon of the river in the south and extending in other directions until it blurred into the horizon.

‘I think I can say that it was worth the climb,’ Elladan patted his friend’s shoulder. ‘What do you think?’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 49:  Above the World

‘How long do we remain here?’  Elrohir said, watching the of the sky fade to grey as the stars winked out. 

‘I am told we would be foolish to try to climb down without the aid of the moon path,’ Legolas told him.  ‘But that, also, to return before nightfall would be to miss out on some things we should see.’  He looked towards the east.  ‘I should like to see the sun rise above the forest,’ he observed.

‘And set, too,’ Elladan added.  ‘I am in no rush to descend.  It is not the first time I have tried rock-climbing, but it was not the easiest task.’  He lifted an eyebrow at his friend.  ‘I do not know that you prepared us too well for that, Thranduilion.  I shall bear that in mind.’

‘I have never been here before, either,’ Legolas said mildly.  ‘I did not know what to expect.’  He tilted his head back and looked at the sky, now taking on hint of burnished bronze.  ‘I suspect climbing up here could be one of those rites of passage young elves are only too ready to undertake.’

‘Although we know what happens when such challenges are accepted without due preparation, do we not, my twin?’ Elrohir commented.

Elladan sniffed and ignored him.

‘Do I sense a tale you are reluctant to tell?’ Legolas asked idly.

‘No,’ Elladan informed him haughtily.  ‘It is a tale I refuse to tell.’

Legolas turned his glance to Elrohir, who shrugged and grinned, shaking his head. ‘My lips are sealed,’ he said. 

‘I will ask your adar,’ Legolas threatened.

‘You will discover nothing,’ Elladan told him smugly.  ‘He does not know of it.’

‘How long do you think it will be before your son attempts this climb?’ Elrohir interjected hastily. 

‘Many years.  Many, many years,’ Legolas said decisively, ‘if I have any say in the matter.  A climb that is difficult for us would be far too dangerous for elflings.’

‘True,’ Elrohir reflected, remaining silent for several moments before adding, ‘not that that will stop them.’

‘Them,’ Legolas repeated, a hollow tone to his voice.

‘Of course, them,’ Elrohir nodded.  ‘You do not think Eleniel would deign to be left out, do you?’

The sky lightened in swirls of pink and gleaming gold as the sun reached up above the snow-capped mountains, turning the white peaks to blazing glory as a haze of mist disguised the canopy of green leaves with a veil of shimmering pearl.

‘It is like being on the masthead above a dawn sea,’ Elladan said breathlessly.  ‘It makes me feel like an albatross drifting above the world.’

‘Just do not try to act like one, my brother,’ Elrohir said absently.  ‘You are not Daernaneth.  It is as if I had never seen sunrise before,’ he said, marvelling in the purity of the morning. ‘I had forgotten how it felt – those first weeks in the Blessed Realm, when the sun rose over the sea with a cleansing fire that burned away the taint left by too many injuries in Arda.’

‘Listen,’ said Legolas, as the birds of the forest greeted the morning with a chorus of joyous song.  ‘It amazes me,’ he commented, ‘that the most beautiful song comes so often from the least remarked of the birds.  My eyes rejoice in the sight of many of these forest dwellers with their plumes of bright feathers, but my ears are delighted by the song of the seemingly insignificant small brown birds.’

Elladan took his eyes from the mountains as the sun rose higher and the colours of the day replaced the glory of dawn and looked sideways at the Prince of the House of Oropher, whose beauty had excited attention from so many.  ‘I am saying nothing, my friend,’ he commented dryly.

The early mists faded leaving the world above the forest contrasted in clear blue and multi-hued greens.  It grew hot on the pinnacle of the great stone column and the three climbed down a little to use the peak itself as shelter from the sun.  Racemes of white flowers opened on the broad branches of some of the tallest trees, sending wafts of heady fragrance to perfume the air across broad stretches of the forest.

‘Look,’ Elrohir said, breaking the silence in which they relaxed. 

Turning in the direction he pointed, they saw a mass of butterflies; vivid scarlet and rich gold, fluttering from tree to tree as they made use of the gift of nectar provided by the flowers, whilst tiny birds of iridescent blue darted among them.

‘I had been told of them,’ Legolas murmured, ‘but I had yet to see them.’

‘This experience has been remarkable,’ Elrohir admitted as the moon rose to bathe the great column of rock in silver light.  ‘I think the sunset may have been even more stupendous than the dawn.  And yet, you realise, that the more we say about it, the more likely we are to find that the elflings have sneaked out to discover its joys for themselves.’

‘I shall make a point of telling my offspring that they should not even consider climbing up here,’ Legolas said, ‘until your daughters are old enough to be able to keep them company.’

‘I would not risk that, my friend!’  Elladan grinned.  ‘I can think of nothing more certain to guarantee that all five of them undertake the adventure at once.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 50:  Fishing for Compliments

The crystal water pushed at Legolas’s calves as he gazed intently at the gold-flecked pebbles of the stream bed beneath his feet.

‘Have you not caught any yet?’ demanded Elrohir.  ‘Could it be that you have over-estimated your skill?’

With a quick flip, the blond elf secured a large trout, ending its life with a quick blow on the wet rocks, combined with an apology and an offer of thanks.

‘It is rather like watching a bear after salmon,’ Elladan commented lazily.  ‘Less hairy, of course.’

‘And somewhat better tempered,’ his brother added. 

‘Less malodorous, too,’ Elladan sniffed pointedly.  ‘Have you ever got close to a bear?  Breath like an orc’s armpit.’

‘Oddly, I have never felt the need to resort to bears for female company,’ his brother jibed.  ‘Neither have I been in the habit of assessing the personal hygiene of orcs.’

‘Are either of you planning on helping?’ Legolas pushed back his hair with a dripping hand.

‘No,’ Elrohir considered.  ‘You seem to be getting wet enough on your own.’

‘Take this, then.’  Legolas tossed the fish at Elladan, who snatched it out of the air before it could land on his lap.  ‘If you do not wish to help catch supper, then the least you can do is clean it.’

‘Perhaps I was wrong about the temper,’ Elrohir remarked idly, as Legolas pulled another trout from the water and tossed it at him.  ‘He does seem to be a little gruff.’

Legolas remained motionless, waiting for another fish to come and investigate the strange fronds waving gently in the chill water.  The shade from the trailing willows disguised his form from the most suspicious of fish and before long another sizeable trout found itself on the way to providing a meal for the three elves.

‘Is that enough?’ he asked, as he waded towards his friends.

‘Oh, I should think so,’ Elladan said seriously, ‘we would not want to appear greedy, now would we?  And we have brought bread and cheese – and wine.’

‘A feast,’ sighed Elrohir.  ‘And we can eat it in perfect peace, without having to weigh up everything we say.’

Elladan looked at him sympathetically.  ‘Adar thought you should wait a while before coming on one of our trips, but Sirithiel told him that it was exactly what you needed to help you relax.’  He grinned at his brother.  ‘He was pleased with you,’ he added. ‘You are apparently the pride of our House when it comes to getting the best out of trade negotiations.’

His twin lifted an eyebrow at him.  ‘Do not try to make anything of it,’ he said warningly.  ‘There is nothing that I can do that you cannot.’  

‘Debatable,’ Elladan said with a disarming grin.  ‘I have my talents, but watching every word I say is not among them.’

The three friends moved without consultation to prepare their meal.  Elladan cleaned the fish and speared them onto sticks as Elrohir raked out the hot embers to give them a consistent heat.  Legolas fetched their food supplies and wine skins before sprawling by the fire.  The smell of cooking fish drifted on the air as the twins turned them.

‘Am I the only one to feel guilty,’ Legolas enquired, ‘that I am so pleased to escape everyday life to disappear into the woods?’

Elrohir smiled.  ‘No,’ he answered candidly.  ‘There are time when I feel I should refuse to come – that I am abandoning Sirithiel to care for our enterprising daughters while I enjoy myself.’

‘They are not as bad as they were,’ Elladan said critically.  ‘I was thinking only the other day – you have been away for well over a month, and the ellyth have behaved like reasonable elflings all the while.’

‘It is dangerous to remark on it,’ his brother replied with foreboding.  ‘It almost challenges them to misbehave.’

‘They are beginning to grow up,’ Legolas pointed out.  ‘Eleniel even suggested that they should come and stay for the summer.’

‘Is the invitation seconded by her adar, though?’ Elrohir grinned.  ‘Not to mention her daeradar?’

‘Her adar would like to extend it to the whole family,’ Legolas said amiably. ‘Why do you not all come?  We could all head off into the woods and spend a couple of months among the trees leading a simple life.  It will do the elflings good to learn to look after themselves – and it will not do their adars any harm to get away for a while either.   Elerrina has agreed to come – and I cannot imagine that Miriwen would object.  Do you think Sirithiel would indulge us, Elrohir?’

Elrohir leaned back and closed his eyes as the golden glow of the evening sun warmed his face. He breathed in the scent of wood smoke and grilling fish, whilst beneath it he caught the fragrance of the living forest and his ears relished the sound of birdsong and the soft busy hum of a thousand bees.   A blissful smile spread slowly across his face.  ‘I think she could be persuaded,’ he said. 


The Paradise of Elves – Part 51:  Growing Pains


‘Look.’  Elladan indicated the lonely figure of a blonde elfling currently engaged in throwing pebbles at a small cairn, single-mindedly trying to ensure that not one stone should remain on another. 

‘She has a good arm,’ Legolas commented.  ‘I would not want to get in the way of one of those missiles.’

Elrohir sighed.  ‘She does not know how to deal with it.  I only wish that I could help her through this time, but telling her I understand will not make it any better.’

‘I suppose we could use distraction,’ Elladan offered.  ‘We could offer to take her riding – or Legolas could work with her on her archery.’

‘She would know it for what it was, though,’ Nimloth’s adar said ruefully.

‘What do you mean?’ Legolas asked curiously.

‘Have you not had this with Eleniel and Galenthil?’ Elladan sounded surprised. ‘Although,’ he added, ‘now I come to think about it – they have always done different things, have they not?  Eleniel has been obliged to train in feminine pursuits, such as – I do not know – stitching and making preserves and whatever it is that females do in the absence of their males, whereas Galenthil has had to learn the skills required of his adar’s son.  They have made friends beyond each other.  But this,’ he indicated his niece, ‘is the first time that Aewlin has wanted to do things that Nimloth has not.’

‘And it is the first time that her sister has chosen to spend time with another over her,’ Elrohir said softly.  ‘It is a painful time.  It will take them both some experience to learn that having other friends does not take anything from the love they share.’

Legolas watched the elleth as she rebuilt her target and gathered up the pebbles before returning to see to its destruction.  ‘What are Aewlin and Eleniel doing that excludes Nimloth?’ he enquired.  ‘Could we not ask them to let her join them?’

‘We could,’ Elrohir agreed, ‘and they would – they are not excluding her deliberately.  They are just involved in the weaving that Sirithiel is teaching them and want to talk about it and practise – and Nimloth does not.’  He smiled sadly.  ‘And, as yet, she has not found a path she wishes to follow.’  He looked at his twin and shrugged slightly. ‘She is not ready to move forward.  She could cope with Elrin and Eleniel and Galenthil starting to grow up – but not Aewlin.’

‘Did the same thing happen to you?’  Legolas glanced from one twin to the other.  ‘I suspect that Elrohir grew up first,’ he guessed.

A wide smile spread across Elladan’s face.  ‘Everyone thinks it was I who was ready to – expand my horizons first,’ he said approvingly.  ‘You are one of the few who know us well enough to realise that I was dragged, kicking and screaming, from the easy irresponsibility of elflinghood to bear the demands put on us.  Elrohir took to education and the demands of dealing with outsiders much better than I did.’

‘You learned more quickly on the training field,’ Elrohir pointed out.  ‘And you were always the leader.’

‘It tends to lead to a few uncomfortable years, though.’ Elladan squeezed his brother’s shoulder affectionately.  ‘We had to relearn who we were in relation to each other.’

‘So, Elladan,’ Legolas smiled, ‘what can we do to help your niece?’

‘Love her,’ he shrugged.  ‘Be there for her.  Refuse to make comparisons.  Praise them both.  Give her the time she needs.’

‘Adar says that one of the hardest parts of being a parent is standing back and letting your young ones learn for themselves,’ Legolas reflected.  ‘Watching them hurt and being unable to do anything about it, when you would fight dragons for them if you could.’

‘I will warrant you put Thranduil through a good deal, then.’  Elladan teased.  ‘You always insisted on learning from experience – and you made sure threw yourself head first into activities that gave you plenty of opportunities to suffer.’

Elrohir leaned forward, focusing intently on the two ellyth coming up behind Nimloth, who turned her head briefly before hurling a particularly vicious stone that struck the cairn and bounced off at an angle.  Eleniel called a greeting and veered off, leaving Aewlin to wander over and sit down close to her twin.   She picked up a twig and appeared to be drawing in the sandy soil without paying any attention to the angry clack of stone on stone.   Nimloth’s sharp rhythm eased and softened and she turned her attention to her sister, watching Aewlin uneasily, until she looked up and smiled.  Without speaking, the two ellyth rose and wandered down towards the stream, their normal relationship apparently resumed.

‘Aewlin is clever,’ Elladan approved.  ‘She handled that well.  It is very hard to focus wrath on somebody who is just there, wanting to be in your company and paying no heed to your ill-temper.’

‘Perhaps she takes after her adar, the diplomat,’ Legolas suggested.

‘Unfortunately,’ the diplomat pointed out, ‘that was just one round of what will, I am sure, be many.’ 

‘Then let us hope it sets the tone for the rest,’ Elladan said thoughtfully, ‘and that Nimloth finds her path sooner rather than later.  I am not sure that I feel able to cope with your daughter in full fury, if that example of her reaction is an early sample of what we might have to expect.’

Legolas smiled.  ‘She could be dangerous,’ he agreed, ostentatiously fingering the back of his head as if checking on an old wound. ‘It is, after all, a family trait.’

Elrohir raised an eyebrow.  ‘Watch out, elfling,’ he said haughtily, ‘or we will show you the meaning of danger.  Life in Lasgalen will not have prepared you for it.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 52: Making an Effort

Two fair heads bent together over the objects before them, eyes gazing intently on the slender shafts, hands steady and careful as they worked.

‘I do not believe,’ Elrohir remarked, ‘that I have ever seen Nimloth sit still for this long.’

‘Not even when she fell when escaping through the window and broke her arm?’ his brother enquired.

‘Well,’ Elrohir conceded, ‘perhaps then – although she was unconscious, so it does not really count.’

‘I thought Legolas was supposed to be teaching Galenthil the noble art of fletching.’

‘He was – but the ellon could not endure the dedication being shown by these two obsessives and he begged off after the first couple of hours.  He and Elrin took their bows off to the butts to spend some time using arrows rather than creating them.’

‘Alone?’ Elladan raised an eyebrow.

‘Do you think I am insane?  Of course not – Thranduil offered to take them.   He seemed to find this,’ he nodded towards the table, ‘highly entertaining and said it would be a shame to interrupt them.’  Elrohir gazed thoughtfully at his daughter.  ‘Do you think we might have been looking in the wrong place for something that would inspire Nimloth?  She is clearly not much moved by traditional feminine pursuits.  We thought that taking up archery would help her – but, although she is quite good, it does not arouse in her the dedication that Eleniel shows.  Do you think she might have inherited some of the Noldor side of her ancestry and need to learn to make things?’

‘Work in wood?  Or metal?  I cannot see her forging swords,’ Elladan said doubtfully, ‘or ploughshares, come to that.  And, given the family history, would you want her working with jewels?  It seems a risky idea, only to provide her with an occupation.’

His twin smiled wryly.  ‘Yet what is more important than to see that your offspring’s talents are developed to their fullest?  Sometimes need means that one talent has to be subordinated to another, but if youngsters are forced to take a path that is wholly against their personality – well, they will not be happy and they will not be good at what they do.’ 

‘I wonder if that was what Finwë said as he watched Feanor,’ Elladan mused.

Elrohir lifted an eyebrow.  ‘Are you comparing my daughter to Daernaneth’s uncle?’ he enquired haughtily.

‘No,’ his brother grinned.  ‘I am comparing you to Finwë.  Maybe you are more like your andaeradar than we realised.’

‘So you think it is a bad idea,’ Elrohir said with a disdainful sniff.

‘I am not saying that,’ Elladan protested, ‘although I think I would prefer to have her working in wood.  It seems more – natural, somehow.’

‘That is the blood of the Lord of the Golden Wood showing in you,’ Elrohir observed.  ‘One of the moments that proves we are more Sindar than Noldor.’

‘I refuse to be mistaken for a Wood Elf,’ Elladan objected.

‘There is not much chance of that.’  Legolas did not take his eyes off his work.  ‘No-one who has seen you in a tree could make such an error.  You climb with all the skill and grace of an arthritic bear.  Estel was at least twice as good as you in the canopy – and he had the disadvantage of being a Man.

‘I think I have been insulted, Elrohir.’  Elladan looked at his friend.  ‘Do you think we have been insulted?’

‘Demand satisfaction,’ Elrohir suggested.  ‘A challenge.’

‘It would not be wise.’  Legolas gave his pupil’s arrow a last searching look before putting it down and nodding dismissal to Nimloth.  She beamed at him and skipped off, ignoring the typical banter between her adar and uncles.    ‘If I were you, I would not press the matter,’ Legolas grinned.  ‘It would be my right to set the challenge – and I would make it a race through the treetops.  You would flounder like a seal on a stony shore.’

‘Tempting as your suggestion is,’ Elladan said with firm regret, ‘we had better not indulge ourselves.  Can you imagine the response of our wives and parents if we set such an example to our offspring?  Our lives would be in serious danger.’

‘True, I fear,’ Elrohir sighed.  ‘We will have to find something less – contentious to do.’  He leaned over the table and picked up the arrows on which Nimloth had been working, looking them over critically.

‘She has talent,’ Legolas informed him, ‘but I do not know if the work would sustain her interest for too long – it has the delight of novelty at the moment.  She seems to enjoy being challenged – if something is new or difficult or somebody tells her that she cannot do it, then she immediately wants to have a go, but I doubt that will be enough to make her master the skill.’  He looked at Elrohir.  ‘I do not think you have yet found the path for your daughter, my friend.’

‘I suppose it was too much to hope for,’ Elrohir shrugged philosophically.  ‘We will just have to keep giving her different things to try until she finds something that inspires her.  She has time enough, after all.’

‘Indeed,’ Elladan agreed.  ‘I am still looking forward to the day when I find the work to which I wish to dedicate my years in Aman.’  His eyes sparkled as he glanced from his brother to his friend.  ‘Any suggestions?’


The Paradise of Elves: Part 53 – Night Sight


The harvest moon hung low over the wide clearing, its pure silver seeming touched with the gold of ripe wheat.  The bonfires, set carefully in stone-lined firepits, cast red glows on the faces of the elves tending them and sent sharp-edged shadows out into the broad space where the wilder, less formal dancing of a forest feast was absorbing the energies of most of the participants.

The scent of roast venison filled the air, cut with the fragrance of bruised grass and night-perfumed flowers, while the sound of the pipes and drums overwhelmed the normal night-song of the forest.

‘It is hard to believe that the last time we saw him dance, he was dressed up in silk and crowned in mithril,’ Elrohir leaned over to speak into his brother’s ear.  ‘Look at him now – he seems a different person altogether.’

‘I wonder what Elerrina’s parents would say if they could see her,’ Elladan remarked, pursing his lips and looking down his nose, even as his grey eyes laughed.  ‘I feel sure they did not bring up their daughter to prance half-naked and barefoot in the woods.’

Elrohir inspected Legolas and his wife as they leapt in time to the music, swinging round and spinning as the rhythm took them.  ‘She does not look half-naked to me,’ he commented. 

‘Sirithiel has permitted you to stop dancing?’ his brother asked, lifting an eyebrow in imitation of his adar.

‘Temporarily,’ Elrohir admitted.  ‘She thought it would be a good idea to check up on Aewlin and Nimloth.  They should not be planning to get up to any mischief in the middle of a feast, but, with them, you can never be sure.’

‘Nimloth is making Elrin dance with her,’ Elladan told him.  ‘I can see them from here.  And Aewlin is with Galenthil and Eleniel – and under the eye of Thranduil.  I believe we may be safe for the moment.’

‘Do you remember the first time we attended a feast in Lasgalen?’ Elrohir asked suddenly.  ‘I had never realised that Naneth had another side to her – she was always the gracious Lady of Imladris – and to see her dancing in her light tunic with her feet grass-stained was a revelation.  I had always known that we had Sindar blood – and connections with the Wood-Elves, but they had always been just names on the family tree.  It was not until I saw her dancing in the moonlight with her hair unbound that it meant something to me.’

‘What impressed me most,’ Elladan said slowly, ‘happened much later that night.  I think you had fallen asleep.  Only the adults were left dancing – and Naneth dragged Adar out to join them.   The Wood-Elves faltered a little, as if they were not sure of him, and he was stiff to start with, but once he let the song take him he seemed a different elf.  And there was a glow about him that seemed to dim the gleam of most of the dancers.  The dance grew even wilder as he was accepted into its heart.  When I woke to the light of day, I was not sure of what I had seen.’

‘Do not forget that your Adar is the great-grandson of Luthien,’ Legolas said breathlessly, accepting Elrohir’s offer of his goblet of wine, ‘whose dancing among the trees captivated Beren.  Why should he not be able to be one with the forest – when he can cast off the shackles of proper lordly behaviour?’  He grinned at his friends.  ‘You are mongrels, you descendants of Eärendil and Elwing, able to belong to all the kindreds – or none, as you choose.’ 

‘Come, my friend,’ Elladan indicated the spits.  ‘I feel it is time for us to take a break and refresh ourselves.  Let us eat.’  He grinned.  ‘I would not want those who have been working to provide us with food to feel slighted.’

‘You could be a hobbit,’ Legolas said disapprovingly.

‘One of the races, at least, to which we are not related,’ Elrohir observed.

‘I would not over-eat if I were you,’ Legolas advised the first-born twin.  ‘I imagine your wife has plans for you this night that involve a great deal of energetic dancing – I would not want you to spoil that for her by becoming unwell.’

‘Miriwen is unlikely to permit me to tread on her feet tonight,’ Elladan gave a small secretive smile.  ‘Your suggestions would be better aimed at my brother.’

Legolas laughed.  ‘Well, if your wives can spare you, you must join Adar and me in the dance – I dare you.’   He watched the twins exchange doubtful glances.  ‘You would not let your House down by showing cowardice here, now would you?’

‘We have given up jumping into peril without considering the risks,’ Elrohir told him.  ‘We are mature elves, these days, I will remind you.  Responsible.’

Two pairs of eyes met his disbelievingly.

‘We do not accept challenges without thought.’  Elrohir kept his face straight and his voice sober as long as he could, but eventually broke into a grin.

‘I will snag one of Adar’s special flasks,’ Legolas offered.  ‘A few sips of his special brew will remove your reluctance – and it is surprisingly exhilarating to perform with all the ellyth watching.’  His eyes sparked wickedly.  ‘You will enjoy it.’

‘Oh well, why not?’  Elrohir surrendered.  ‘For the honour of our House, my brother.’

‘Of all our Houses,’ Elladan added.  ‘Lead on then, Woodland Prince.  Show the mongrels what to do.’    



The Paradise of Elves – Part 54: Playing the Master


‘What is the matter with your brother?’  

Legolas perched on the top rail of the stable yard, one long leg tucked beneath him, like a particularly elegant stork.

Elrohir pushed back the wild black hair blowing in his face and grinned, ducking his head down as he continued to brush his horse.  ‘Nothing,’ he returned, his voice slightly muffled.

‘Are you nearly finished?’ his friend asked plaintively.  ‘You have had long enough to groom the whole stable full.’  He paused, the brisk wind stirring his neat braids as if trying to undo them.  ‘And he is not himself at all.’

‘He is just exasperated,’ Elrohir told him.  ‘Adar has left him in charge – and no sooner had we waved our parents farewell than every single dispute that has festered in these lands since the beginning of time came to a head.  He is tempted to lance them,’ he added, ‘with a sharp blade – but I think Miriwen and I have managed to convince him that it would not be tactful.’

Legolas laughed.  ‘They are testing him,’ he said.  ‘I know how he feels.  It is not so much the problems as the knowledge that everyone is inspecting everything you do and making comments behind your back.’

The dark head appeared again.  ‘Of course, Thranduil and your naneth decided to take some time to themselves and left you to run things for a few seasons, did they not?  Did your people go out of their way to make it difficult?’

‘Not out of their way,’ Legolas judged.  ‘I think being awkward is a natural part of the nature of these Forest Elves.  Although, for Naneth’s sake, I think they were probably a little more forgiving of my – peculiarities.’

‘I think that Adar has gained acceptance,’ Elrohir said thoughtfully.  ‘He listens to what people are not saying as well as to the words on their lips and he has been insistent that those who chose to come with us should learn to live with those whose home it was and not the other way round.’

‘He is experienced in building a refuge that succours all comers,’ Legolas agreed.  ‘The Forest Elves know that he has taken them into his care and that he will do all he can for them.’ 

‘You have spoken to them of him?’  Elrohir sounded surprised.

‘Not I,’ his friend denied.  ‘I would not interfere – but you know that many here still look to Naneth for guidance.  Word reaches her of many things.’

Elrohir tilted his head, narrowing his eyes in consideration.  ‘It seems a good early response to his rule,’ he said.  ‘I think.’ 

‘Are you intending to be all day?’ Elladan called, as he drew close.  ‘Miriwen says you should be preparing to join us for lunch.’

Legolas raised his eyebrows.  ‘She is not usually so formal,’ he remarked.  ‘We usually grab some bread and cheese and stay outside when the weather is fine – lunch seems such an unnecessary interruption.’

‘Not today,’ Elladan told him firmly.  ‘Today we are going to sit down together.’

‘So lordly, is he not?’ Elrohir teased.  ‘Put him in charge and he has us all back in the nursery.’

‘You will do as you are bid.’  His brother aimed a pretend whack at the back of his twin’s head.

‘As you command, my lord.’  Elrohir bowed obsequiously before drawing his horse into the stables.  ‘If my lord will permit, I will be with you immediately.’

‘There is more to this than you having to hold court,’ Legolas said mistrustfully.  ‘What are you plotting?’

‘Nothing!’ his friend protested.  ‘Miriwen merely wishes to share a meal with us and the offspring – is it too much to ask?’

‘When you put it like that,’ his friend told him, ‘it sounds even more suspicious.’

Elrohir laughed.  ‘Come, Legolas.  We will find the reason for this more swiftly if we concede defeat and join everyone in the dining room.’

‘You know what it is about, Elrohir,’ Legolas accused.

‘I do not!’ The second twin’s eyes twinkled.  ‘But the sooner we are presentable, the sooner we will find out.  I would not want the elflings to burst with frustration as they wait for us.’

‘I begin to feel that you are both singularly suited to a life of trying to negotiate a path between Forest Elves and a collection of superannuated Elves of Arda,’ Legolas muttered.  ‘When it comes to being awkward you are past masters.’

‘Why, thank you,’ Elladan said with enthusiasm. ‘I am glad to see that you have discovered our full worth at long last.’

‘Keep your secrets, then,’ Legolas sighed with resignation.  ‘I do not want to know.’

‘Oh, you do.’  Elladan grinned at them both.  ‘And you will, soon enough.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 55: Surprise

Elladan looked sheepishly at his brother and friend.  ‘Well?’ he said.

‘The thing that surprises me,’ Legolas commented, ‘is that you told us now.  I would have thought you would wait until your adar was home.’

‘Miriwen says there are some secrets you can only keep for so long,’ Elladan admitted.  ‘She informed me that this would not have remained between the two of us for much longer.  You only have to look at the smug expression on my brother’s face to know that he is glorying in having guessed correctly – and I am sure that whatever he suspected, he has shared with Sirithiel.’

‘It is a bit of a drastic way to get Adar to return and relieve you of your responsibilities, though, my brother.’ Elrohir shook his head mournfully.  ‘I am sure he will be most disappointed in you.’

His twin was clearly disconcerted by his twin’s apparent disapproval.  His mouth opened and shut as he looked from Elrohir to Legolas, but he made no response.

‘And Naneth was so looking forward to this opportunity to visit her grandparents,’ Elrohir continued sadly.  ‘Yet now she will be forced to cut the trip short and return to us early, simply because you have no sense of timing.  I do not know how you can be so inconsiderate.’

Elladan’s eyes narrowed as Legolas choked back his laughter.  ‘You are dead, my brother,’ he said with feeling.  ‘I will make you suffer when next we spar, believe me.  You will be reminded of why it is not a good idea to provoke me.’

‘You terrify me.’ Elrohir’s eyes brightened with anticipation.  ‘Tomorrow, my brother?’ he asked hopefully.  ‘It would be good to spend some time away from the paperwork involved in keeping things running smoothly.  And, I must say, the thought of some simple violence is very tempting after far too much time spent being tactful and conciliatory.’

‘The only thing I have to add to what we said over lunch,’ Legolas stated firmly, ‘is that, this time, we are not going to follow suit.  You are on your own, my friend.’

Elladan snorted.  ‘As if you get any say in the matter, Thranduilion.  Your wife will wheedle her way into your heart and make you feel invincible.  She will convince you against your better judgment.’

His brother and friend looked at him, surprised at his choice of words.  ‘Is this not what you want, Elladan?’ Elrohir asked tentatively.

‘I did not mean that at all the way it sounded.’ Elladan pulled a face and ran his hand through his hair.  ‘I told you that I have no talent for diplomacy.  I meant that our wives have a way of making us want what they want.  Believe me when I say that both Miriwen and I are delighted about this.  But I am sure that, if Elerrina or Sirithiel wants to – extend the celebrations to your households, they will win you over inch by inch, until you are as excited by the idea as I am.’

Elrohir laughed.  ‘Can you imagine,’ he said, ‘Sirithiel wanting to have more elflings at this time to add to the chaos created everywhere that Aewlin and Nimloth go?  We have our eyes set desperately on some distant time, when they have outgrown the desire to test every boundary set them and become reasonable people, and we are working on surviving until then.  Give us a few centuries after that and we might be prepared to consider having another elfling.  Maybe.’  

‘I think there is something about having youngsters in pairs,’ Legolas agreed, ‘that makes you less anxious to try it again too quickly.  I cannot imagine Elerrina wanting to have another baby for a long time.’

‘Of course,’ Elladan said reasonably, ‘your children already have a sibling, do they not?  Miriwen felt that, although Elrin has his cousins, if we wanted him to have a brother or sister close enough for him to feel like a brother rather than an uncle, we needed to provide one fairly soon.’  He paused reflectively.  ‘I always felt,’ he added, ‘that Arwen was rather lonely as an elfling.  We were adult by the time she was born – and on our early patrols.  We had other interests . . .’

‘Ellyth, mainly,’ Elrohir interrupted.

‘Ellyth, dancing – gaming, wine, adventure,’ Elladan said reminiscently.  ‘All the follies of being old enough to do as we wanted, yet with very little responsibility.  We grew up at a good time, did we not, my brother?  Not like Adar, who became adult in the middle of a war, or Estel, who grew into a responsibility that would have horrified us.’  He smiled at the memory of his younger self, then drew a deep breath.  ‘Arwen was so thrilled when we spent time with her – time with her brothers was a treat, rather than an everyday part of her life.  I did not want it to be like that for Elrin.’  He looked at the others seriously.  ‘He is already on the edge of adolescence,’ he said, ‘but he will have years yet to spend with this little one before he moves on to adulthood.  It is the right time for us to have another elfling.’

‘And it will be a son,’ Legolas smiled.

‘A son,’ Elladan agreed.

‘We share your joy,’ Elrohir said simply, placing an affectionate hand on his brother’s shoulder.  ‘It will be good to have a little one in the household.’

‘You will excuse us, though,’ Legolas declared, ‘if we have a sneaking hope that your younger son will prove a little more challenging than the elder.’

‘In fact,’ Elrohir added with a mischievous grin, ‘we will do our best to see to it!’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 56: Absence and the Loving Heart


‘Why are you in such an evil temper?’ Elrohir asked mildly, turning to gaze at Legolas as he walked beside the twins towards the training grounds.

Legolas scowled.  ‘Would you not be less than pleased if your wife announced her intention of leaving you?’

They continued in silence along the path between the trees.  The breeze stirred the leaves and they whispered comfortingly as the blond elf passed.

‘I feel sure,’ Elrohir said finally, ‘that there is more to the story than that, my friend.’

‘She intends to take the elflings and spend some months with her parents,’ Legolas complained.

‘And, of course,’ Elladan nodded, ‘no sooner did she mention the matter, than you threw a fit of the sulks serious enough to make her doubt the wisdom of ever coming back.’  He grinned.  ‘I have tried that one, my friend.  It does not work.  If anything, it makes your beloved even more determined to carry out her plans.  Miriwen told me that she had no intention of being blackmailed by someone whose behaviour resembled that of a particularly obnoxious elfling.’

Legolas grinned reluctantly.  ‘Miriwen was always one to speak her mind,’ he allowed.

‘It is just as well,’ Elladan agreed.  ‘I am not, as you know, the most talented of elves when it comes to picking up coded messages.  If she expected me to work out what I had done, she would be waiting a long time.’ 

Elrohir smiled.   ‘True,’ he remarked.  ‘Arwen always found it better to hit you over the head with her reasons for annoyance, too.’  He shook his head.  ‘Of course, Naneth was always skilled enough to manipulate us with no more than a tilt of her head and a wistful expression.’

‘Anyone who grew up with Galadriel and Celeborn as parents would have to develop an above average level of talent in getting her own way,’ Legolas allowed.  ‘Your naneth not only gets everyone to do as she wishes, she also makes them grateful for the opportunity to please her.’ 

‘After Naneth and Daernaneth,’ Elrohir said thoughtfully, ‘Miriwen’s attitude is really rather refreshing.  And my brother responds to it like a puppy anxious to please.’

Elladan sniffed disdainfully.  ‘You cannot talk,’ he said.  ‘Your wife only has to flatter your masculine pride and you purr like a kitten.’

‘Puppies and kittens,’ Legolas remarked.  ‘What does that make me, I wonder?’

‘A hedgehog?’ Elrohir suggested.

‘Or perhaps a mule,’ Elladan said idly.  ‘You are stubborn enough.’

‘Thank you, my friends.’

Elrohir scrunched his face up in disgust.  ‘I do not appreciate the idea that my wife has turned me into some kind of pet.’ 

‘I accept the truth,’ Elladan admitted.  ‘Miriwen can play me like a harp.  I suppose I should be grateful that her manipulations are well intentioned.’  He grinned.  ‘I think Naneth was relieved that I ended up in the care of an elleth who suits me so well.’

‘Many of your past interests,’ his brother agreed, ‘would have been a disaster.  Although marriage has not stopped you looking at other ellyth,’ he added disapprovingly.

‘I am married, not dead!’ Elladan protested. ‘I can admire the view without wanting to leap in the river.’

‘You want to watch out,’ Legolas warned him.  ‘Miriwen is not one to tolerate such games.  If she catches you flirting with another, she will have you on a plate – and Sirithiel and Elerrina will cheer her on.’

 ‘Perhaps you could convince Elerrina to stay if she thought you might flirt with another,’ Elladan suggested.

‘I would not do it!’ Legolas rejected the idea out of hand.  ‘Any more than you would.  You are all talk, my friend.  Elerrina has a perfect right to take the offspring to see her parents – but I do not have to like being left behind.’

‘You could accompany her,’ Elrohir offered.  ‘I am sure she would not object to taking her husband along with her.’

They strolled in silence for a few moments.

‘On the other hand,’ Legolas said thoughtfully, ‘the thought of being left to myself for few months is beginning to seem better all the time.  I will appreciate my wife and children so much more for having missed them.’

‘You could remind yourself of how much better off you are these days,’ Elrohir said solemnly, ‘by packing up a few possessions and going off into the woods.  It will remind you of the value of a comfortable home and a loving family.’

‘And we would not want you to put yourself at risk,’ Elladan agreed.  ‘We would be almost bound to come with you – just to ensure your safety.’

The three looked at each other thoughtfully before breaking into laughter.

‘Perhaps I am coming to terms with the idea of my wife’s absence,’ Legolas allowed.  ‘You are right.  It will only be a few weeks, after all.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 57: The New Year


The stars danced across a sky of silk, as Legolas lay back on the bed of fragrant meadow grass and watched them with the content of the slightly intoxicated. 

‘I had never seen such an open sky,’ he said suddenly, ‘as that above Rohan.  The plain was nothing but grass and horses and wind, until we came to the hill upon which Edoras stood.’

Elrohir ran a lazy finger round the rim of his cup, too idle even to lift the wine to his lips.  ‘The star song made my bones ache,’ he mused.  ‘It was almost more than I could endure – and it made me long for trees.’

‘It did.’  Legolas sounded surprised.  ‘I thought it was just me!  It did not seem to affect Estel or Gimli.  It was not so much of a problem in the day, but as darkness fell, I could hardly bear the sheer quantity of it.’

‘And yet,’ Elrohir half-closed his eyes in recollection, ‘once I grew more accustomed to it, there was something exhilarating about it – almost like flying.  I could understand how the Rohirrim felt when they rode headlong across the plain with nothing between them and the sky.’

‘Free,’ Elladan agreed.

‘There were moments,’ Legolas mused, ‘when Éomer was on horseback, when he could almost have claimed kinship with the elves.  He was one with horse and land – part of both in a way that men seldom are.’

‘Estel had it, too,’ Elladan insisted.  ‘He was more aware of it – that is where the difference lay.  Those early years in Imladris had trained him to listen consciously to what the land around him was saying, whereas Éomer did it entirely without thought – just because he was himself.’

‘I miss it still at times,’ Elrohir admitted.  ‘And all of them.’

‘Is that why we are sitting here in the middle of a field rather than taking our ease in a welcoming tree?’ Legolas asked.

‘It seems as good a way to celebrate the New Year as any,’ Elladan said softly. 

Legolas rolled to support himself on his elbow and looked at the twins.  It was at moments like these, he thought, that their closeness was still so apparent.  Much of the time they happily led different lives – Elladan more boisterous, laughing with Miriwen, teasing her about her swelling figure, encouraging his son to take his first steps towards the adult world, while Elrohir was quieter and more observant, gentle, but with a strength beneath the softer surface that made him a rock for more than Sirithiel and his two daughters – but at times like this they were again the two halves of the same shell; the wary warriors he had first met, shielded against the arrows life had aimed at them.

‘It means so little here,’ Elrohir mourned.  ‘The day that Arda was granted the chance to go on – courtesy of two from a race whose sheer existence was doubted.’

‘The day that our foster brother resigned himself to kingship,’ Elladan added.

‘And our sister to death,’ his twin concluded.

‘Then it is up to us,’ Legolas told them, ‘to see that their sacrifice is known – and honoured as it should be.  If it pains us to speak of them, we should not be surprised to have others avoid the subject.’

‘It is a day that should be celebrated,’ Elladan agreed. ‘In Valinor as in Arda – and our memory of the events should remain true until time’s race is run and we all meet again beyond the circles of the world.’ 

‘We will see to it.’  Legolas reclined again and inspected the stars. 

‘How?’  Elrohir enquired.  ‘If it was that simple, surely Mithrandir would have seen to it when the Ringbearer reached these lands.’

‘Frodo would have hated it.’ Legolas shook his head firmly.  ‘He would have been embarrassed by the attention.  I think Merry and Pippin – and Sam – accepted the celebrations in Gondor because they believed that Frodo deserved them, but Frodo would have put his foot down had Aragorn tried to praise him in his presence.’

‘Should we do it now, then?’ Elladan wondered.

‘There was more to it all than Frodo’s part, though,’ his twin said.  ‘They all deserve to have their deeds known.’

‘It is too easy for the elves to disregard them,’ Legolas agreed.  ‘They were mortal – that in itself is enough to make many shrug off what they achieved.’

‘Not among those who stood against Sauron,’ Elladan said firmly.  ‘Not among those who lost kin at Dagorlad.’

‘Nor among those who saw Lasgalen twisted to Mirkwood,’ Legolas added quietly, ‘or saw the desolation of Dol Guldur.’

‘We will do it then,’ Elrohir said firmly.  ‘We can rope in Adar – and Daernaneth.  I am sure that Daeradar will support us.’

‘Olórin,’ Elladan suggested.

‘We will establish a celebration to end all celebrations,’ Legolas insisted.  ‘And spread it throughout Aman.’

‘In memory of those we have lost,’ Elrohir raised his cup in salute and looked up to the stars.  ‘And for what they have given us.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 58: Wanting

Elladan looked at his friend and grinned.  ‘They will not arrive any more quickly for your sitting and staring at the road,’ he said.  ‘Have patience, Legolas.’

‘You are a fine one to talk,’ the fair haired prince accused him.  ‘You are not the one whose wife and children have abandoned him for intolerably long months, when all it seems to have done is rain.’

‘Four months,’ Elrohir said mildly.  ‘At most.’

‘It has felt longer.’

‘We could ride further,’ Elladan suggested.  ‘You do not seem to be able to sit still anyway.’

‘We might miss them,’ Legolas protested.  ‘They are bound to pass this point.’  He stood in a single graceful moment and began to pace.

‘I do not know why we agreed to come with him,’ Elladan looked wearily at his restless friend.  ‘It is worse than being in charge of an elfling – he is wearing me out.’

‘We brought him so that your wife could have some peace,’ his brother reminded him.  ‘Sirithiel said that, although Miriwen was finding his impatience more that a little entertaining, she really needed to rest.’  He paused and considered.  ‘Are you sure that she is not going to add to the family’s collection of twins?  She is expanding at a remarkable rate.’

‘Valar, no!’ Elladan exclaimed.  ‘Of that I am totally certain.  A son.  A single son, who will, I hope, be as reasonable as his brother.  Although I am not counting my chickens.’

‘You have been lucky once,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘It would be most unfair if you were to have another easy-going elfling.  It would make me feel even more inadequate.’

‘Where are they?’  Legolas turned and looked at his friends accusingly.  ‘You are not tormenting me here, by any chance?  They will be arriving today?’

‘My friend!’ Elladan looked hurt.  ‘As if we would tease you on such an important matter.  Gwathor reported that they were on their way – and he has no reason to feed you false information.’

‘I would not have believed,’ Legolas admitted, ‘that I could miss them all quite so much.  It is almost enough to make me wish that I had joined their expedition to visit Elerrina’s parents.  Almost.’

‘I thought you had outgrown your hostility to each other,’ Elrohir observed.

‘We are not hostile at all,’ his friend replied with dignity.

‘Not, at least,’ Elladan grinned, ‘as long as there is a range of mountains between you.’

‘Taryatur will never entirely forgive me for stealing his daughter,’ Legolas admitted.  ‘Particularly not since I dragged her away from civilisation and imprisoned her in the forest.  Elerrina was not looking forward to trying to convince him – again – that she is perfectly happy here.’  He looked thoughtful.  ‘Or, indeed, that it is the best possible place for growing elflings.  I am sure he thinks that Eleniel and Galenthil will turn into savages.’

‘They are elflings,’ Elladan said easily.  ‘Savagery is a natural state of affairs.’

‘Perhaps Linevende and Taryatur would feel better about it if they were to come and see the forest for themselves,’ Elrohir remarked innocently.

A bird’s piping song rang in the moment of silence like mocking laughter.  Legolas stiffened into complete stillness.  ‘Are you hinting at something, my friend?’

‘There appear to be rather more returning than left,’ Elrohir allowed, hiding his amusement heroically.  ‘Although we have no means of knowing who are among the additions.’

‘Are you feeling unwell, Thranduilion?’ Elladan’s voice was filled with a mock-concern.  ‘Perhaps you should sit down before you swoon.  I am told that shocks are bad for the system.’

Legolas’s eyes narrowed.  ‘I will be sure to educate your new elfling in the history of all his adar’s mischief,’ he threatened.  ‘And, while I am about it, I feel sure that Elrin is now old enough to learn the truth of many half-heard tales.’

‘Have pity,’ Elrohir said lazily.  ‘The infant will have Aewlin and Nimloth as older cousins.  I am sure they will do all they can to corrupt him without any help from you.’

A rustling in the trees and a sound of distant voices made Legolas turn sharply enough for his hair to swing out in a pale arc.  Without thought, he leapt onto the nearest welcoming branch and began to race towards his approaching family.

‘Do you think he has considered how he is going to get back?’ Elrohir asked, shaking his head.  ‘Ahh, the impetuousness of youth – at times Legolas makes me feel quite old.’

‘I daresay Elerrina will be quite happy to ride with him.’ Elladan grinned suddenly.  ‘And, if it is indeed true that she has returned with her entire family in tow, it might be the closest he will get to her for quite a while.’

Elrohir’s smile was warm with affection.  ‘We will continue to wait here with the horses, then’ he agreed.  ‘And consider what we can devise, so that when they arrive, we will be ready to offer what distraction we can.’  He laughed.  ‘It should prove more than a little entertaining – for us, at least.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 59: Frustration 

The sharp regular thwacking interrupted the tranquillity of the golden afternoon.

‘A woodpecker, perhaps?’ Elrohir enquired as they strolled towards the sound.

‘Only if woodpeckers have developed fair hair and an enormous sense of frustration,’ his brother grinned.

They paused on the edge of the dishevelled clearing, where the previous winter’s storms had felled a great oak.  Stripped to the waist and gleaming with sweat, Legolas stood with a great axe raised.  He hesitated only briefly before bringing the bright blade down to split the log sitting on the stump.  Neatly sliced into two halves, each fell to join the tumble of other freshly hewn logs.

‘What do you want?’ he asked shortly.

‘Perhaps we have just come to view the remarkable sight of a Wood Elf with an axe in his hands,’ Elrohir remarked.

Legolas turned and looked down his nose at his friends.  ‘Not so remarkable, surely.  Even the elves of Imladris must have had foresters to care for their trees.’

‘But they were not using oversized dwarven battleaxes,’ Elladan pointed out.

‘I do not believe Gimli would appreciate the use to which you were putting his gift,’ Elrohir added softly.

Legolas’s gaze dropped to the rune-inscribed blade in his hands.  ‘He would understand,’ he said.  ‘And I do not have an axe better suited to this task.’

‘He would roar at you for a foolish, light-minded elf,’ Elladan contradicted him, ‘and lambaste you for blunting the edge – and then drag you off to fill you with dwarvish ale until you told him what was upsetting you.’

‘Not that we need to get you drunk to know the answer to that problem,’ Elrohir added.  ‘Whose head are you imagining on that stump?  Your beloved adar-in-law, perhaps?  Or is it your wife’s naneth this time?  Or perhaps some other member of her family has infuriated you.’ 

Legolas let the axe drop to rest its head on the rich brown remains of years of rotted leaves and sank to sit on the golden chips of wood on the littered stump.  He rubbed his hands absently over the smooth polished surface of the axe’s handle.  ‘It is not Linevendë,’ he allowed. ‘Naneth seems to have her well in hand – and she can be diverted fairly easily by producing the elflings for her to cluck over.  But Taryatur!  Everything here is wrong!  The trees are too tall, the water is too wet, the sun is not as bright as it is in Tirion, the wind is too brisk, the grass is too long.  Everything is inferior – and not what Elerrina has a right to expect.  He has taken to calling her ‘my poor daughter’.  I think that if I do not find myself driven to kinslaying, then Elerrina will do it herself.’

A laugh from Elladan made the blond prince scowl. 

‘It is not funny,’ he said insistently.  ‘He controls himself around my adar, so even Thranduil laughs when  I complain – and points out that my naneth’s adar was less than friendly towards him until they got drunk on Dorwinion one night and exchanged a lot of off-colour stories about the whole of their acquaintance.’

‘Not recommended,’ Elrohir interrupted swiftly.  ‘Do not try that – it has a potential for providing everlasting embarrassment.  In the end you will be unable to assume the necessary expression of self-deprecating amusement and you will explode.’

‘You need to find out more about Taryatur,’ Elladan said idly.  ‘I am sure there are skeletons in his cupboard, which, if you only knew them, would still his tongue.  Perhaps Camentur is the one you need to ply with strong drink.’ 

Elrohir rubbed his nose.  ‘No,’ he pondered.  ‘We still cannot extract the best stories about Adar from Glorfindel – and we know that he has dozens.’  He grinned.  ‘He has hinted at them often enough.  Neither Elerrina nor Camentur will know the stories that will make their adar cringe.  Linevendë, on the other hand . . .’   He allowed his voice to trail away.

‘She would not tell me,’ Legolas said regretfully.  ‘It will not work, my friends.  I am going to have to endure his perpetual jibes and digs.’

‘Daernaneth,’ Elladan suggested.  ‘She has contacts who are more than capable of discovering awkward details from Taryatur’s past.  I am sure that she will do that for you.’

‘You are, after all, one of the Nine Walkers,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘Daernaneth has great respect for you – even if you are the half-Silvan infant son of her most dogged detractor.  She might find it highly entertaining to stir things up and set your adar and adar-in-law against each other.’

Legolas contemplated the possibilities.  ‘No,’ he said regretfully, ‘it would distress Elerrina to feel that we were ganging up against her adar.  She loves him dearly – and his affection for her is, to my mind, his one redeeming characteristic.’

‘Then there is nothing else for it, my friend.’  Elladan removed the axe from Legolas’s hands and handed him his tunic.  ‘You will have to resign yourself to drinking with us.’

Elrohir held up a wineskin.  ‘The closest the Blessed Realm has to Dorwinion,’ he said.  ‘Courtesy of Thranduil’s cellar – provided by your wife, who feels you need a break.  Let us find a refuge where we can enjoy it in peace.’

‘And then,’ Elladan added with a grin, ‘we will find you another axe!’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 60: Rain


‘Elerrina’s adar is right,’ Elladan complained.  ‘There is such a thing as too much rain.’

Legolas glanced at him in irritation.  His fair hair was plastered to his head and his nose and chin were acting as channels for water.  He had long since abandoned any attempt to use his saturated cloak to shield him from the torrents and his clothes clung to him as if sculpted to his body.  ‘I do not wish to have to defend to you the need of the forest for rain,’ he snapped.

‘Particularly,’ Elrohir said pleasantly, ‘as, in fact, the forest has had all the rain it requires for the next season or two – and all in the space of a week.’

‘Much more,’ Elladan sounded jaded, ‘and it will no longer be a forest, but a lake with trees.’

‘I think perhaps Taryatur and Linevendë would have appreciated their invitation to visit Galadriel’s home rather more,’ Elrohir considered, ‘if they had travelled longer in sunshine.’

‘Perhaps.’  A remote smile began to dance on Legolas’s face.  ‘I find that I am rather delighting in this weather.’

‘They might have enjoyed the prospect of the visit still more,’ Elrohir continued, ‘had they found that Daeradar and Daernaneth dwelt, as they expected, in a sensible construction of stone – with slate-roofed towers.’

Legolas’s smile stretched wider.

‘I do not believe,’ Elladan grinned, ‘that I have ever seen anything to equal Linevendë’s expression when she realised that she was going to have to climb up into a tree.’

The smile began to make it seem as if the sun had come out in one small wet area of the forest.

‘It made Taryatur realise,’ Elrohir commented, ‘that Thranduil’s home: incorporating  trees into the building, and having wings that reach up into the canopy yet remaining largely earth-bound – at least as far as the main halls are concerned – is quite a sober design.’

Legolas laughed.  ‘They could not credit, could they, that their High King’s daughter would dwell contentedly in a tree!’

‘By the time that our grandparents return with them, they will have learned better,’ Elrohir informed him.  ‘They may even come to enjoy arboreal living and desire to build their own flets.  You never know, it might lead to a new fashion in the lands of the Noldor.’

‘They would not find it easy,’ Legolas said gleefully, ‘to find trees large enough – or co-operative enough – to let them.’

‘At least,’ Elladan shook a spray of drops from his head, ‘they stand a better chance than we do of keeping their feet dry.  I am rather concerned that the river may have decided to move into the house by the time we get back.  I do not think Miriwen would appreciate giving birth in a pond.’

‘Adar would put his foot down,’ Elrohir said firmly.  ‘I cannot imagine him permitting a water birth.’

‘I am tempted to continue riding,’ Legolas smiled, leaning his head back and allowing the pelting rain to fall in his face.  ‘We need to get Elladan home before his wife decides he has abandoned her – and it is not as if we will find anywhere dry to rest along the way.’

‘Will you stay a day or two before heading home?’

‘Perhaps,’ Legolas shrugged.  ‘If there seems any prospect of the weather improving.  Otherwise I might as well continue.  I am looking forward to spending as much time as possible with Elerrina in the absence of any distractions.’

The knowing look on his friends’ faces enhanced their similarity, so that, as many times before, it was almost as if he was seeing double.

‘Come then,’ Elladan commanded, urging his horse forward.

‘Carefully,’ his twin advised.  ‘The ground is so soaked that it will be sliding downhill on its own soon.’

‘You worry too much,’ Legolas told him expansively.  ‘It is only rain, my friends. What harm can it do?’

Elrohir looked disapprovingly at the hoof prints of Elladan’s horse, each now filling with water as if to present them with a cup of welcome.  ‘I seem to remember dredging you out of a mudslide once, my friend, that was only too much proof of how much harm it can do.  I would prefer not to have to do that again.’

‘Are you planning on spending all day talking?’ Elladan called.  ‘Let us make our way home before our horses decide for themselves to seek shelter.  If you are not careful they might return us to our grandparents’ house.’

‘I think not,’ Legolas said firmly, as his horse’s hooves squelched through the mud.  ‘I would rather paddle home than spend any more time with my adar-in-law.’

Elrohir shrugged.  ‘Come then,’ he said.  ‘Let us ride - before our princeling decides to develop gills and make us swim.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 61: Fallen

‘Do not move!’

‘It is not the not moving that is the problem,’ Elladan groaned.

His horse flailed in a desperate attempt to get his hooves under him and lurched to his feet.   Elladan was dimly aware of a deep gratitude that the headlong tumble of mud, water and stones had carried the beast further down the hillside.  Had he remained under Tolog, he was not sure he could have survived the animal’s frantic thrashing.

The rain still fell with the dedication it had shown over the last weeks, but, for once, Elladan found himself rather grateful for its determination to bathe his face in needles of cold water.  He turned his head slightly and attempted to spit out the gritty dirt he had managed to inhale as he had slid down the hill.

‘Do not move!’

Elrohir’s voice was urgent and insistent.

His brother flapped a hand.  ‘Do not keep on, my twin,’ he said vaguely.  ‘It is enough to make my head ache.’

‘The trees are rooted firmly enough,’ he heard Legolas’s soft voice say.  ‘It is only the surface that is too waterlogged to be stable.’

‘Have we ropes?’

‘Enough, I think.  And we will need a stretcher,’ Legolas observed.  ‘The fall cannot have done him any good.’ 

Elrohir made a sound of exasperation that would have made his brother laugh under any other circumstances.

‘There is a fallen tree,’ the Woodland Prince suggested, ‘some hundreds of yards back.  The bark is solid enough – we could cut it to fit Elladan and hold him motionless.  It would keep him still more effectively than a travois.’

‘Do it,’ Elrohir commanded.  ‘I must get down to him.  He is not complaining – that is, in itself, enough to make me worry.’

‘I will protest if it makes you happy,’ Elladan said groggily.  ‘How long is it going to take you to fish me out of this puddle?  I shall be growing gills soon!’

Legolas and Elrohir exchanged glances.  ‘Be quick,’ Elrohir murmured.  ‘He will make a tremendous fuss over a broken fingernail – but serious injury only ever brings out his worst jokes.’

Elladan roused as Elrohir stepped carefully up to him.  ‘What kept you, my brother?’ he asked airily.  ‘I thought you were going to turn down the chance of visiting.’

Gently but thoroughly, Elrohir examined the wet and mud-stained elf, finally removing his cloak pin to test for the response in his brother’s limbs.  ‘Amazingly,’ he said finally, ‘you seem to have damaged little more than your leg.’

‘How is Tolog?’ Elladan asked weakly.  ‘My leg caught under him as he came down, and then we slid, with me acting as a pillow for him.’

Elrohir glanced down to the bright green of the plants beyond the red stain of the fallen earth.  ‘He seems fine,’ he said.  ‘He is eating, at any rate.’  He looked back to his brother.  ‘I am going to put a collar on you,’ he insisted, ‘just in case.  And then I will splint your leg.’  He hesitated.  ‘It will need further treatment – but I want to get you home first, so that Adar can deal with it under conditions that are a little more conducive to good healing practice.  If we were further from home, I might have to . . . but we are not.’

His twin reached out to grasp his wrist.  ‘You will do what you can, Elrohir – and no-one can do more.  I would rather have you with me than an army of healers.’

Elrohir patted his brother’s hand.  ‘Legolas is bringing a body splint.  We will immobilise you and get you out of here.’  He met his brother’s eyes.  ‘It is going to hurt.’

‘I would worry more if it did not,’ Elladan told him.

‘Once we have you safe, I will make up a potion to knock you out – we want to make it home as quickly as we can, and your whingeing will only distract us.’

‘I can accept that.’

Elrohir tried to conceal the anxiety caused by his usually bull-headed twin’s unexpectedly easy co-operation.


Legolas looked at the unconscious form of his friend as he lay motionless in the rigid hold of the stretcher, then glanced at Elrohir enquiringly.

Elrohir shook his head.  ‘I am just glad we are within a few hours of Adar,’ he said quietly.  ‘The bone is – badly broken.’  He closed his eyes.  ‘And the wound is still full of mud and gravel.  He could lose the leg.’

‘He will not,’ Legolas said with conviction.  ‘Elladan is indestructible.  He has survived worse and bounced back.’ 

His friend gave a slight shake of his head.  ‘I shall feel more convinced of that when I hear those words from Adar’s mouth.’

‘Well, in that case,’ Legolas said staunchly, taking one end of the stretcher, ‘let us hurry up and get Elladan home, so that Lord Elrond can tell you himself.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 62:  Brothers

Elladan sat helplessly in his chair, his leg supported in front of him, as he gazed into his younger son’s cross-looking red face.  ‘I can do nothing to assist you,’ he said reasonably as the infant’s mouth opened as if searching for food.  ‘Do not tell your uncle, but I would not wish to chance carrying you anywhere – I would be afraid of dropping you if I could not use my cane.  We have been abandoned here out of earshot so that your naneth can dress herself for the occasion – and neither of us is in any condition to help ourselves.’  His long fingers gently smoothed the fluff of black hair adorning the baby’s head and caressed the soft cheek. The wobbly head wavered in the direction of the hand.  ‘There is no point looking to me for sustenance, little one,’ he continued, speaking as if imparting a confidence.  ‘I am not equipped to provide for you in that way.  You will have to wait for your naneth to fetch you.’

Eyes the blue-grey of rain-washed slate gazed in the direction of the voice and then concentrated as if attempting a task of great difficulty.

‘Valar!’ Elladan groaned.  ‘Is it not enough that I cannot walk properly, without having you soak my lap?  I really do not need to suffer any further, my son.’

‘It is laughable, is it not?’ a cool voice behind him said conversationally.  ‘I debated with my wife whether we should come to welcome this little one to the world, but I am glad we did.’

‘You sulked and wished to stay at home with Elerrina, you mean,’ Elrohir told him, ‘while she insisted that nothing would keep her away from my nephew’s naming ceremony.’

‘I do not sulk,’ Legolas said haughtily.

‘Enough of this banter!’ Elladan demanded.  ‘Remove this soggy mite and do something about him.’

‘Have you wet yourself again, my brother?’ Elrohir sighed.  ‘I thought you had outgrown such behaviour.’

‘Just wait until Adar frees me from this chair,’ Elladan threatened.  ‘You will pay for every insult – believe me when I say that I am keeping score.’

Legolas took the child between his capable hands and smiled.  ‘He is rather appealing,’ he admitted.  ‘It is too easy to forget how small and helpless they are when they are first born.’

A drying cloth landed on Elladan’s lap.  ‘Did you not realise why you were gifted with a stack of these, my brother?’ Elrohir teased.  ‘You have clearly spent too long without the joy provided by an infant.’

The first-born twin scrubbed at the patch on his leggings.  ‘I shall have to go and change,’ he said gloomily, ‘or everyone will think that I share my son’s inability to control certain bodily functions.’

‘Miriwen will think you have done it on purpose, too,’ his brother said cheerfully, ‘so that you cannot wear that rather attractive outfit she had planned.’

Legolas looked away from the new scion of the house of Elrond.  ‘Why do our wives seem to feel the need for us to be colour co-ordinated with them?  Half the time I feel that Elerrina considers that I exist purely to make her chosen gown look even better.’

‘Well,’ Elladan said thoughtfully, ‘it is true that you have little other purpose.’

‘He cannot help being pretty, my twin,’ Elrohir chimed in.  ‘He spent a great deal of time in combat with orcs in an attempt to correct the problem.’

‘It is better to be pretty than to have to wear a label to let others know that one is not an orc,’ Legolas said cuttingly.  ‘It is to be hoped that this little one has inherited his looks from his naneth, rather than his adar.’  He smiled at the infant.  ‘I will return him to his nana for – repair.  I only hope for your sake that this is not the garment he is supposed to wear for his official introduction to the household.’

‘Elrohir watched thoughtfully as Legolas bore the baby away.  ‘How long do you think it will be before the House of Oropher produces another heir?  Legolas seems fairly smitten and Elerrina can barely keep her hands off your son.’

‘I am wondering,’ Elladan grinned, ‘whether our prince might not find himself with a sibling rather than a child of his own.  Lady Laerwen is at least as enthralled as Elerrina – and Thranduil is putty in her hands.’

His twin laughed.  ‘It is good to see that everyone has their breaking point, is it not?  Thranduil has intimidated many into submission – but his wife only has to glance in his direction and he will do anything to please her.  It is much like watching you and Miriwen when you first discovered the joys of love.’

Elladan raised an eyebrow.  ‘You were little different.’

‘In fact, the euphoria of reunion being what it is, in many ways I was somewhat surprised that we did not arrive in the Blessed Realm to find that we were, once again, older brothers to an elfling or two.’


Elrohir frowned at his brother.  ‘Refrain from making knowing noises, my twin, unless you are also prepared to add an explanation to your grunts.’

‘Both our parents would have looked on it as an abandonment of hope,’ Elladan told him.  ‘They wanted us to sail – and they knew that Arwen could never come. To have more elflings –,’ he shook his head, ‘would have inferred that we were replaceable.’

‘Which, of course, we are not.’  Elrohir looked at his brother.  ‘You are brighter than you look,’ he sighed.  ‘Well, we came in the end – and at least they now have their grandchildren to enjoy.  Shall we go and inform the world of this one’s name?’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 63: Finding your Feet


‘It was a bad break, my brother,’ Elrohir said mildly.  ‘It is bound to take time to recover fully.’

Elladan did his best to conceal the trembling in his knees.

‘You are rushing it,’ Legolas observed.  ‘You have always been too impatient.’

‘I feel like an old man,’ Elladan said, trying to sound as if he was joking.  ‘Fit only to sit by the fire and mind the young.’

‘You need to take it steadily, that is all,’ his brother told him reasonably.

‘At this rate, my son will be on his feet before I am.’

Legolas stared at his friend, his blue-grey gaze disturbingly intent.

‘What is it?’ Elladan enquired.  ‘Have I grown a second head, perhaps?  Or have you just realised how amazingly good-looking I am?’

‘What must it have been like,’ the prince said softly, ‘for Estel?  Growing old in front of us – his muscles stiffening and his hair turning white – while we remained unchanged and unaffected by the passing years?  From being a younger brother still learning to develop his skills to being older in body than the most aged elf?  Discovering that he could no longer attempt to keep up with us?’

Elrohir sighed.  ‘He knew it would happen, Legolas – as he knew that he would outlive all those among men who were part of the years of his prime.  It was part of who he was.  In many ways I think he found our changelessness to be a relief – at least he had no fear that we would decay into old age and death and leave him bereft.’

‘Or that Arwen would.’  Elladan leaned forward to massage his calf.  ‘Although I think that, in some ways, he wished she would precede him from the world.  He did not like to think of the depth of her despair after he left her.’

‘He knew that there was nothing he could do about it,’ Elrohir said gently, ‘and that we would remain as long as it was necessary.’  He cleared his throat.  ‘Are you ready now to follow Adar’s advice?  Or are you still determined that you know better?’

Elladan scowled.  ‘I suppose there is no harm in taking things at a reasonable pace – but I do not intend to be seen in public with a walking stick.’

‘No,’ Legolas remarked supportively.  ‘Better by far for you to hobble along under your own control.  Until, that is, you measure your length in front of a hundred watching eyes – and put yourself back in a splint.’

‘Come on, brother,’ Elrohir told him patiently.  ‘Or would you rather I fetched your wife to deal with your intransigence?’

With a crack of laughter, Legolas proffered the rejected stick.  ‘I would like to see it, my friend,’ he said.  ‘The nemesis of an army of orcs cowering in dread before the elegant form of a single slight elleth.  You would do well to co-operate.  Miriwen will not be pleased if she is forced to abandon her new baby to deal with one much larger.’

‘You will feel better once you are in the water,’ Elrohir coaxed.  ‘A few sessions of swimming and you will be much less wobbly on your legs.’

‘Or,’ Legolas suggested to Elrohir, ‘we could just grab him and carry him down to the pool – and drop him in.  I am growing rather tired of this discussion – it is going round in circles.’  He lifted an eyebrow at Elladan in imitation of Elrond.  ‘And I wish to return to the house in plenty of time to change before the evening meal.’

Elrohir nodded seriously.  ‘Elerrina needs assistance in dealing with those buttons, does she not, my friend?’

‘They are indeed very small and fiddly,’ Legolas replied, straight-faced.

Elladan laughed.  ‘Well, if it is a matter of not delaying your return to your wife, how could I be so churlish as to refuse to co-operate?  Give me the wretched stick.’

Elrohir and Legolas flanked Elladan as he made his way cautiously to the warm shallow pool that had been created at the end of the rippling fall of water for the purpose of ensuring that all elflings would be able to swim competently before they began to move farther afield and ventured into more dangerous waters.

‘I resent being treated like an infant,’ Elladan murmured.  ‘I see no reason why, if I must swim, that I cannot brave the pools usually used by adults.’

‘I seem to recall,’ Legolas told him, ‘that men talked of a second childhood – when injuries refused to heal as they had in the heyday of youth and they had to resort to such devices as walking sticks.’

‘And they became cantankerous,’ Elrohir agreed, ‘and refused to take the advice of those who knew best how to aid them.’

Elladan paused.

‘And they could walk only slowly and with difficulty,’ Legolas continued. 

Elladan’s eyes narrowed.

‘It is plain, my brother,’ Elrohir said cheerfully, ‘that you are an ideal candidate for spending an hour or two exercising your muscles gently in the elflings’ pool.’

‘Just you wait,’ Elladan threatened.  ‘I am going to take great pleasure in exacting a painful revenge for each and every one of your insults.’

His brother grinned.  ‘We would not have it any other way,’ he said amiably.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 64: Splashing Around

‘It would seem that you were right, my friends,’ Elladan sighed blissfully as he floated in the warm water.

With an air of resignation, Legolas tipped the water from his second boot and tossed it to join its fellow on the wide bank.

An elleth advanced, scandalised expression on her face, to scold this party of rowdy adolescents for invading the elflings’ space; then, realising who they were, she blushed and retreated swiftly.

Elrohir stood, ignoring the water pouring from his clothes.  ‘Yes, that is right, Elladan,’ he said loudly.  ‘Kick your leg.  The effort of working against the water will exercise your muscles while supporting your limb.’

‘You will not convince her,’ Elladan told him with satisfaction.

‘We are far too old to have ellyth complaining to Adar about our behaviour,’ Elrohir protested.

‘Do you remember,’ his brother grinned, ‘when we sneaked out one morning to bathe in the pool favoured by the ellyth?  It seemed to our naïve younger selves that, because we were barred from approaching it too closely, it must be more exciting than our own pool.’

‘As I recollect, the only difference between them was that, when we were caught by a bunch of squealing half-clad ellyth, we were condemned to remain dry for several weeks of a long summer and stay under Naneth’s eye until she decided that we could be trusted again,’ Elrohir remarked.

Legolas laughed.  ‘I sometimes wonder that your parents survived your early years,’ he said.  ‘I used to involve myself in mischief, it is true, but Adar only had to contend with me – my friends had to go home to face their own parents.’

Elrohir peeled his dripping tunic from his body and wrung out what water he could, making sure that as many drops as possible landed on his brother’s face before throwing the garment to the bank.   ‘I cannot believe that I fell for the old ‘my leg has gone: pull me from the water’ trick,’ he said gloomily.  ‘I must be slipping.’

‘I noticed,’ Elladan murmured smugly.

‘Not so much that you failed to grab me by the ankle and haul me in after you,’ Legolas complained.

‘You did not expect me to leave you laughing and dry on the side, surely?’ Elrohir raised a dark eyebrow.  ‘It was a matter of getting you then, or missing out.’

‘And no-one evades the sons of Elrond,’ Elladan agreed.

‘You make me grateful that I did not grow up with you in Imladris.’ Legolas shook his head.  ‘It is no wonder that elves of your age are wary of you.’

‘Well, what of you, Thranduilion?  I do not see you surrounded by hosts of loyal friends from your elfling days.’

Legolas shrugged.  ‘There were very few elflings when I was young, Elladan, and fewer still among them are here now.’  A shadow crossed his fair face at the recollection of how many of Mirkwood’s staunch defenders remained in Námo’s Halls.

‘My apologies, my friend.’  Elladan turned and gazed at the younger elf sympathetically.  ‘Sometimes my mouth works without consulting my brain.’ 

‘Come, Elladan,’ his brother decided.  ‘We are not here for pleasure.  You really do need to work your leg carefully if you wish to recover full function.  I want you moving your ankle until it is uncomfortable – but no more than that.  When it starts to pain you, ease off.  You want to increase the flexibility slowly.’

‘Actually, my brother,’ Elladan winced, ‘what I want is to wake up tomorrow and find that my leg is completely healed without any effort on my part.’

Legolas sat on a flat rock at the pool’s side and watched as Elrohir drilled his brother through a series of exercises before allowing him to rest.    ‘Your leg is looking better,’ he remarked.  ‘The scar is beginning to fade.’

‘It is aching though, my brother, is it not?’ Elrohir looked narrowly at his twin’s face.

‘You should know.’  Elladan sent a wave to splash him.  ‘You are the one to make me work it.  You are merciless.’

‘Rest in the sun,’ Legolas suggested.  ‘Sit here with your feet in the water and take your ease.  I know that neither you nor Miriwen has slept well in recent days.’

‘He can be noisy,’ Elladan allowed, his smile spreading as he thought of his infant son.  ‘Miriwen assures me he is no louder than his brother was – she insists that I only notice his squawking because my leg has been keeping me awake.’  He grinned.  ‘I am enjoying him more than I did the first weeks with Elrin – I am not so afraid that I will break him.’

‘No, elflings are fairly resilient,’ Legolas said thoughtfully.  ‘They can be damaged if you drop them, but they seem to survive most other things without ill-effect.’

‘We, on the other hand,’ Elrohir announced, looking towards the delegation approaching the pool, ‘are far more sensitive to the disapprobation of others.’

Legolas smiled at Elerrina as she attempted to frown disapprovingly at her damp husband.  ‘This time,’ he said with satisfaction, ‘we are entirely free of blame.  This course of action was sanctioned by your Adar for Elladan’s health – and I am pleased to say that he can deal with any consequences.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 65: Curiosity


‘Have you ever wondered,’ Elrohir enquired idly, ‘at the differences between men and elves?  Do you think that the Firstborn might have been an experiment on Eru’s part and that he then took out the elements that displeased him when he made men?’

There was a moment of total silence before Elladan turned to meet Legolas’s eyes.  ‘I knew it would happen,’ he said gloomily.  ‘He thinks too much – like Adar – and his brain has finally gone.’

‘I think not,’ his brother said amiably as he rested against the rock and looked out over the valley.  ‘It seems a reasonable enough thought to me.  When a craftsman is designing something new, he tries it out and refines it and alters the bits that do not seem quite right and makes a second trial that is better than the first.’

‘I prefer not to think of myself as a rejected experiment,’ Legolas commented.  ‘I would say that I am much closer to perfection, myself.’

Both twins stared at him with identically disdainful looks.  ‘You would,’ Elladan told him.  ‘I would say that blond heads contained little but dandelion fluff, but you might take that as an insult – and mention it to Naneth.’

‘Not to mention our grandparents,’ Elrohir reminded him with a shudder.  ‘I cannot imagine which of the three would exact the most painful vengeance.  Unless of course, they put the matter in my daughters’ hands.’

Legolas grinned.  ‘Or I could set Thranduil on you,’ he suggested.  ‘Or my naneth.  I believe she would be less than impressed to hear you insult her long-lost son.’

They sprawled easily in the dappled shade above the small trickle of water, content to listen to the rustling of the trees and the sweet trill of birdsong.

‘What made you think that?’ Legolas asked.

‘Oh, I do not know,’ Elrohir shrugged.  ‘I just wondered.  The Valar and the elves are part of Eä and will be until the end of days, so why would Eru choose to make men short-lived creatures who pass beyond its bounds?  Why would he feel that the gift is a gift unless it is special?  Does the Creator feel that it is better to move on – is it the elves who are, contrary to most opinion, the ones who are stagnating?’

‘If you feel that,’ Legolas asked, ‘why did you not then choose a mortal life, as Arwen did?’

‘Because I am an elf, of course,’ Elrohir told him.

‘We are,’ Elladan nodded in agreement.  ‘We took our time about it, but in the end there was no real decision to make.  All this half-elf business is easier on the tongue, but it is less than accurate.  I suppose that if we had been in Arwen’s position – a fated love beyond the understanding of the two kindreds – you know – all that Beren and Lúthien stuff – we could have made her choice, but,’ he shrugged, ‘when it came down to it, we were not and we wanted to come home.’

They turned over the ideas as best they could on a still warm afternoon.

‘If the Secondborn were an improvement on the elves,’ Elladan mused, ‘why would Eru choose to make them so heavy-footed?  What benefit would there be to wallowing in mud?’

‘And the only advantage to their being so unobservant,’ Legolas added, ‘would be to make it easier for Morgoth’s creatures to prey on them.  Surely Eru’s intention was not to provide easy meals for monsters?’

Elrohir grinned.  ‘And how could anybody not like the pointed ears,’ he said.  ‘Changing them for the rounded variety is a clear abandonment of taste.’

‘Maybe he had seen one elf too many serenading the trees when he decided to make men ungainly,’ Elladan teased.

‘Or perhaps he had grown tired of watching certain elves crafting pointless creations of polished stone.’

‘I miss them,’ Elrohir said softly.  ‘Much as there is to love in the Blessed Realm, the absence of the Secondborn will never cease to grieve me.’

‘And yet,’ his brother said, ‘I do not miss losing them.’

‘You have a point,’ Legolas acknowledged, his eyes dark.

Elladan looked at him swiftly.  ‘So have you come to any conclusion, my twin?’ he asked.  ‘Is it the part of our heritage that comes from men that makes us so irresistible?’  He grinned.  ‘Were we drawn to the Blessed Realm so that all those poor inferior children of the Firstborn could have something to admire?’

‘And the lines of the Edain continue here,’ his brother grinned.

‘Although, Peredhil,’ Legolas remarked as his long fingers combed patterns in the dust.  ‘It would seem that your children will no longer be confronted with making a decision.’

‘There would be little point,’ Elrohir agreed, ‘in facing a choice of kindreds here, where there is only one.’

‘When they discover that,’ Elladan said, grinning wickedly at his brother, ‘your daughters are going to be really annoyed.  How dare you commit them in their absence, Elrohir, to living the lives of elves!’

‘Oh, I think I can live with the fate, my brother,’ his twin smiled, ‘of having my daughters by my side until the end of Arda.  Even if they are among the most recent products of an early experiment.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 66:  Music of the Heart

Elrohir turned his head to pinpoint the origin of the distant piping.

‘I wish he would not do this,’ his brother said.  ‘It is unnatural.  He is a Wood Elf.  They are supposed to be joyful and mischievous.’

‘Well – he is both of those.  But sometimes he accidentally lets slip the fact that he is deeper than that.’

‘Should we leave him to it, do you think?’

Elrohir grinned.  ‘What do you think?’

‘I think we should creep up on him and torment him until he has a reason to feel less than cheerful.’  Elladan listened to the plaintive melody.  ‘He is very ticklish.’

‘It would make him laugh,’ Elrohir allowed.  ‘But hysterical mirth is not laughter of the heart – and I think he needs something more.’  He sighed.  ‘Come, my twin.  Let us go and share his sorrow.’

Legolas sat almost hidden in the canopy of a stately beech, one leg trailing down and the other drawn up in front of him as he played.  His flute trilled melodiously, taking the rhythm of the wood and turning it into song.  He closed his eyes as he played and built in memory the shadowed glades of ancient trees; the banks, jewel-studded with wild flowers; the clear cold streams of rippling water; tentative deer stepping cautiously from the shelter of dense undergrowth in the light of a fresh dawn.

‘It is very beautiful, my friend,’ Elladan said softly.

‘It is very beautiful,’ Elrohir added, ‘but it is not here, is it?’

The music ceased abruptly.  Legolas opened his eyes to see the twins watching him with understanding.  ‘It should not be forgotten,’ he said, more harshly than he meant.

‘It will not be,’ Elladan told him.  ‘Not as long as there are elves in the Blessed Realm in whose hearts the forests of Lasgalen still live.’

‘There are nights in the Hall of Fire here,’ Elrohir pointed out, ‘when it is not only Imladris that is rebuilt in the memories of those who sing, but Doriath and Gondolin, Sirion and Ost-in-Edhil.  Lothlórien flourishes in the hearts of those who dwelt there.  Lindon is as real as the woods in which we now have our homes.  Nothing good is lost, Legolas.’

‘Do you ever wish you were back there?’ Legolas asked.  ‘Home again?’

Elladan leaned back against his branch.  ‘You were not there at the end, my friend,’ he murmured.  ‘In the end it was no longer our home.  Even Thranduil –,’ he shook his head.  ‘I never thought that your adar would accept that it was over,’ he said, ‘but he did.’  He looked up.  ‘Have you spoken of those last days to him?’

Legolas shrugged.

‘Not that it makes any difference,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘When I mourn the passing of Imladris, it is not the empty halls that I recall, in which the stirring of dried leaves sounded like the footsteps of the departed, but the valley of our youth – full of laughter and song, with busy people leading purposeful lives.’  He paused a moment in recollection.  ‘The sun always shines in memory,’ he said.

‘Except when it does not,’ Elladan added.  ‘Do you not recall being caught in a flood?  Or when we went out into the snow and became so lost that it took the whole guard to find us?  Or . . .’

‘I was being metaphorical, orc-brain,’ Elrohir interrupted with dignity.

‘Would you think I was mad if I said that there are times when I even miss the presence of orcs?’ Legolas smiled wryly.  ‘I would be horrified to find here the dangers that we faced in Arda, but sometimes . . .’

‘We need a challenge,’ Elladan agreed.  ‘I enjoy being an elf with a family.  I even enjoy being faced with the responsibilities of an adult – some of the time, anyway – but it can all become a little monotonous.  And you have been here longer than we have – you must itch for something more exciting every now and then.’

Elrohir gave his friend an evil grin.  ‘Perhaps we should invite Elerrina’s adar to visit again – that took your mind off other things and no mistake!’

‘I think I would rather be left to lament the home of my youth,’ Legolas stated firmly, ‘if it is all the same to you.’

‘Carry on,’ Elladan said with a wave of his hand.  ‘You have my permission.’

‘Without an audience,’ Legolas insisted.

‘No,’ Elrohir shrugged.  ‘Wakes work better in company, my prince.  We will stay – and you will play and we will talk and drink and sing – and in the end we will all feel much better for it.’

‘You are going to insist, I take it,’ Legolas remarked.

‘Most certainly,’ Elladan nodded.

‘Then you had best join me in goblet of wine,’ the prince said with resignation, reaching into a hollow behind him and tossing a silver cup to each of them and holding up a full wineskin.

Elrohir smiled slowly.  ‘You were that certain of us, my friend?’ he asked.

‘I was,’ Legolas allowed, laughing. ‘You are, I am afraid, nothing if not predictable.’ 


The Paradise of Elves – Part 67:  Gathering 

‘The elflings are eating more than they are picking,’ Elrohir observed. 

Legolas’s long nimble fingers continued to strip the ripe berries from the low bushes in front of him.   ‘How is that possible, my friend?’ he asked

‘Unless they are grazing,’ Elladan teased.  ‘Like deer – nibbling at the berries on the vines.’

‘You know what I mean!’  Elrohir sat back and watched for a while.  ‘It seems an awful lot of work for a few berries.’

‘Where did you think your whortleberry jam came from?’ Legolas enquired, looking down his nose with mock hauteur.

‘The store cupboard,’ his friend grinned.  ‘How should I know?  Why should I care?  Just as long as it is there.’  He glanced at the basket he had been commanded to fill.  ‘I shall appreciate it a good deal more in future.’

‘I think we cultivated the bushes in Imladris,’ Elladan told him thoughtfully.  ‘They were bigger – and it took fewer berries to fill a trug.  We dried them mainly, I believe.’

‘We would send out parties at this season,’ Legolas reminisced.  ‘Ellyth, elflings, warriors – for a few days, all would seek as many of the berries as we could find to preserve them for the winter and then we would leave the remainder for the creatures of the forest, while we went home to celebrate the bounty of the wood.’

‘It all sounds a lot more fun,’ Elladan said enviously, ‘than having the gardeners deliver them by the basket-load to the kitchens.’

Legolas laughed and gestured to indicate the small bushes beneath the oaks.  ‘You are doing it now, my friend,’ he pointed out.  ‘Is it more fun?’

‘More work,’ Elrohir mused.

‘For you, my lord,’ Legolas teased.  ‘For those who did the picking, the work is no different.’

‘I would enjoy it more if I knew we could look forward to a celebration, though.’  Elladan lifted an eyebrow at his brother.

‘Adar enjoys an excuse to provide a feast,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘This is not the time of harvest – but it is a garnering of the produce of the forest.  A celebration seems in order.’

‘We would hold a mushroom festival, as well,’ Legolas said, eyes sparkling.  ‘I remember Pippin getting very excited about the idea of that.  He and Merry and Sam long threatened to descend on Lasgalen at the time of that celebration – but I told them that even Yavanna’s generosity would be insufficient to support the demands hobbits would place on our fungi and that our people would go hungry as a result of their depredations.  I think they believed me,’ he added, ‘for it was not until I issued them with a specific invitation that they consented to leave the Shire and visit my home.’  He looked thoughtful.  ‘They had a remarkable knowledge of both what to pick and how to turn it into the most delectable treats.’

‘They were underestimated as a race,’ Elladan agreed.  ‘In more ways than one.’

‘Galion made a point of collaring Sam and sitting him down to record some of his favourite recipes.  Adar was most appreciative.  I think he overcame his suspicion of the halflings almost immediately.’

‘There is a wide variety of fungi to be found among these trees,’ Elrohir said thoughtfully.  ‘It would be rather fun to hold a hobbit-style festival to celebrate mushrooms.’

Legolas looked around the trees affectionately.  ‘The forest provides,’ he said. 

‘Although you interfere less with what is growing naturally.’  Elladan sat back.  ‘Would you not be less dependent on the forest if you cultivated more of your open spaces?  We have moved saplings from some areas to grow fruit trees – apples and plums are well-suited to this climate – and there are some areas given over to growing grain, as well as gardens planted in sunny spots.’

‘You like to control nature’s gifts,’ Legolas shrugged.  ‘We prefer to accommodate ourselves to accept what is offered.’

‘The forest changes,’ Elrohir argued.  ‘Even without interference.  Birds bring seeds; animals root in the ground – what we do is merely an extension of that.  Who are we to hold ourselves aloof from the process of change and say we may not touch?’

‘There is a difference between change and disruption,’ Legolas insisted.  ‘I have no objection to apple trees growing in the forest – but if trees are cut down to be replaced by rows of stunted trees, clipped to produce the greatest quantity of fruit – that is not right, any more than is bringing in a crop that damages the balance of species.’

‘Stop aggravating the Wood Elf, my brother,’ Elladan recommended.  ‘You know that Adar has said that nothing is to be introduced that cannot live in harmony with the forest – and that includes people!’

‘Yes, Elrohir,’ Legolas said smugly, ‘or you will find yourself assigned to your andaeradar’s court indefinitely.’  He popped a ripe purple berry in his mouth.  ‘And it will be a long time before you get another chance to go berry picking.’

‘In that case,’ Elrohir grinned, ‘I will let him get away with his primitive point of view.  For the moment, anyway.’  He placed another handful of berries in his basket. ‘Or the elflings will be finished with this task before we are.’ 


The Paradise of Elves – Part 68: Reward


‘How do you feel?’

Legolas raised a single eyebrow and pursed his lips, then relaxed and grinned.  ‘Elerrina is not altogether sure whether or not she should be scandalised,’ he said.

‘I think she would be wiser not to be,’ Elladan suggested helpfully.  ‘I cannot see your Adar reacting very well to a scandalised daughter-in-law.’

‘She is torn,’ Legolas smiled.  ‘She knows that her adar will be horrified – and she knows that she will have to put a lot of energy into defending the uncontrolled, irresponsible ways of Wood Elves, but at the same time she is looking forward to the event with the delight that ellyth always seem to feel under such circumstances.’

Elrohir leaned back and put his booted feet on the elegantly wrought rail.  ‘I think it is a good thing,’ he said amiably.  ‘I am rather hoping that it gives ideas to certain other people, as well.  After all, why should we be required to follow the traditions of those who have been divided from us over three ages and more?   We have our own ways.’

‘True enough,’ his brother agreed.  ‘We have had limitations put on us by our experience and the dangers of the land in which we lived – it has imposed ends on us that were never an intended part of the lives of elves.  Why should we not do things differently?’

‘Taryatur cares little what the elves of the forest do without his knowledge and beyond his sight,’ Legolas admitted, ‘as long, Elerrina says, as they refrain from doing it in public and shocking the sensibilities of the refined.  But this will be a little difficult to hide.’

‘Your parents have the confidence to carry it off,’ Elladan commented.  ‘And you never know – they might start a fashion.’

‘It does seem to be infectious,’ Elrohir added.  ‘You only have to look at us!’

Legolas looked at him quizzically.  ‘Is there something you are not telling us?’ he enquired.

Elrohir looked pained.  ‘Please!’ he protested.  ‘Give us credit for some sense.’

‘Why should I be the first?’ Legolas ducked as his friend seized an apple from the bowl beside him and made as if to hurl it.

‘Hah!’ Elrohir bit into the fruit. ‘We are chock-full of sense, I will have you know,’ he announced.  ‘Just because we do not choose to put it on display all the time . . .’

‘Ever,’ Legolas interrupted.

‘I beg your pardon,’ Elrohir said with dignity, ‘I was speaking!  You are insulting my wife – who is one of the most sensible people I know.’

‘I would have to debate that,’ Elladan objected.

Elrohir threw him a wounded look.

‘Well, she did choose to marry you,’ his twin said reasonably.  ‘There are some – not including me, of course – who would say that is not an indication of good sense.’

‘Others might insist that was a sign of her excellent taste,’ Elrohir told him.

‘Some might say that your naneth is hardly an impartial judge,’ Legolas teased.

They lapsed into comfortable silence, watching the dance of sunlight through the leaves as the small brown birds called to each other.

‘So, how do you feel?’  Elladan repeated mildly.

‘You are not going to give up, are you?’

‘Do we ever?’ Elrohir asked.

‘You are persistent,’ Legolas conceded.  He smiled reflectively.  ‘I feel fine,’ he said.  ‘Why should I not?’

Elladan shrugged.  ‘It is not always an easy transition to make.’

‘How would you react?’

The twins exchanged glances.  ‘I think we would be pleased,’ Elrohir told him.  ‘It is hard to be sure without actually being in the situation, but intellectually – yes, we would be happy about it.’

‘About time, I think I would say,’ Elladan added.

Legolas’s smile brightened the afternoon.  ‘I think I would agree with that point of view,’ he remarked.  ‘It has been a long wait – and something I never expected after all these centuries.’

‘Much here is not what I expected,’ Elrohir mused.  ‘I was not hopeful – of anything, really, other than that Naneth would be here and healed – but it would seem that there is always something round the corner to anticipate with joy.’ 

‘And here is another.’

 ‘An opportunity,’ Elrohir suggested.

‘A reward,’ Elladan decided.

‘A gift,’ Legolas said with satisfaction.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 69: Hope over Experience


Elrohir exchanged a glance of malicious satisfaction with his brother.  ‘There is something highly amusing about seeing Thranduil as an attentive elf at the beck and call of his wife,’ he remarked.  ‘I wonder if he was this bad when she was carrying the Woodland Prince.’

‘I cannot see it,’ Elladan decided, his hand clasping his younger son against his shoulder and stroking the silky black hair as Ellanthir slept with the boneless relaxation of the very young.  ‘He would never have allowed those dwelling in Lasgalen to see him as anything less than in charge.’  He smiled.  ‘It is rather touching,’ he added.  ‘I find it changes my perception of him – he is no longer the rather terrifying monarch of an endangered realm – he is an elf whose experience mirrors ours.’

‘Naneth tells me he was even worse the first time,’ Legolas chimed in, ‘but I suppose he might have made more effort to hide it – for the sake of the dignity of the throne.’  His expression softened as he watched his adar tuck a cushion behind his naneth’s back.  Laerwen smiled at her husband and subtly eased the pillow out of the way as Thranduil went to fetch her a glass of cool fruit juice.  ‘Things seem back to front,’ Legolas observed.  ‘I cannot ever recall Adar looking to me – as one with experience – to guide his behaviour.  He was full of wisdom when Elerrina was expecting Galenthil and Eleniel and he supported me serenely when I was in a state of panic, but the roles seem to have reversed.’

‘I wonder if we can persuade Naneth that she would like to enlarge our family,’ Elrohir mused.  ‘It might offend Adar’s sense of propriety, but I think it would be very good for them both.  Healing.’

Elladan inclined his head to look at the elfling in his arms.  ‘One is not like another,’ he said.  ‘I thought that caring for this little one would be much the same as dealing with Elrin – but it is not.  Each is himself.’

‘We have found that with Aewlin and Nimloth,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘For all they appear so similar, they are – like us, I suppose – individuals.  One child can never replace another, but that is no reason not to find comfort in the gift of a new life to cherish.  But I do not know if Adar would see it that way.’

‘Perhaps we should badger our parents to provide us with a sibling,’ Elladan grinned.  ‘It would not be the first time, would it, my brother?  I have since realised,’ he added, ‘that Glorfindel put us up to it – and that it was another of his many ways of teasing Adar.’

‘I requested a brother a good few times myself,’ Legolas observed, ‘before I realised why Adar kept telling me that it would not happen.’

‘How many centuries did you have under your belt by that point?’ Elrohir jibed in passing. 

Legolas cast him a mock-offended look.  ‘I was well-educated, I will have you know,’ he remarked with dignity.  ‘I came to understand the – technicalities of sibling production long before I reached my majority.’ 

Elrohir quietened as he watched Thranduil settle beside his wife and encourage her to lean against him.  ‘How old were you at the time?’ he enquired delicately.  ‘Sirithiel laughs and says she will ensure that our daughters understand the answers to any questions they wish to ask, but . . .’  His voice trailed away.

‘You do not need to be very old to realise that it requires both an adar and a naneth,’ Legolas pointed out.  ‘More than that – I suppose I was somewhat younger than Eleniel and Galenthil when Adar found it necessary to set straight some of my more bizarre ideas.’  He smiled.  ‘It was an experience I prefer not to recall too closely.’

‘Naneth always said that it was not the mechanics but the morality that needed to be clearly understood,’ Elrohir observed.  ‘And that that was not so much taught as breathed in with the air around them as those who raised elflings showed love and generosity and consideration by example.’

‘Yet I remember her being more that a little annoyed by our – rather immature level of interest in certain ellyth when we were little more than Elrin’s age,’ Elladan reminisced.  ‘And I remember several formerly friendly elves who were fathers of daughters started looking at us with a good deal of hostility.’

‘I thought my adar would set a guard to dog my footsteps for a while,’ Legolas admitted. ‘And I spent far too much time and energy striving to escaper supervision.’ He grinned.  ‘I wonder how Adar will feel about being on the other side of that.’

‘He will have the pleasure of watching you endure it first,’ Elladan said.  ‘So he will know what not to do.’

‘Although when it comes to daughters and ellyn, I would expect a certain pair of twins to provide quite a challenge to their protective parents.’  Legolas lifted an eyebrow at Elrohir.

‘I think I will take them to live deep in the forest for a century or two,’ Elrohir sighed, ‘to live in splendid isolation – an island in the middle of a lake sounds a good idea.’

‘I would not recommend that idea,’ Legolas commented.  ‘Just think what you would miss – you are about to be offered the chance of watching my adar go through the pains of paternity.  Can you think of many things more entertaining?’

‘One or two.’  Elladan’s eyes sparkled wickedly.  ‘One or two.  But I will take what I can get, my friend.  And having seen Thranduil in the palm of his granddaughter’s hand, I look forward to seeing how he deals with the manipulations of a daughter of his own.  My money is on Laerwen to pull him through the experience.’

‘He will not object to that, I am sure.’  Legolas laughed.  ‘I find I am anticipating the arrival of a sister into my life with considerable enthusiasm.  It would seem to offer the possibility of amusement on so many levels!’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 70: Harmony


The small white-peeled stick of dead fall turned lazily in the small eddy before consenting to lip over the rock barrier to tumble along the rushing water to disappear into the next pool.

Elrohir thoughtfully snapped off another length and dropped it to bob along in its turn.

‘Do you think,’ Legolas asked idly, ‘that a piece of wood dropped over here would travel more swiftly?’

Elladan narrowed his eyes and considered the currents.  ‘It might,’ he conceded.  He leaned over and snatched the stick from his brother’s hands, breaking it into three pieces of similar length, keeping one himself and offering the others to Legolas and Elrohir.  ‘All together?’ he asked.

‘On three,’ Legolas suggested.

‘Wait,’ Elrohir commanded.  ‘Where will the race finish?  There is no point in holding a competition if none will be able to tell the winner.’

His twin inspected the stream before them.  ‘First past that rock,’ he decided, indicating one set in the middle of the water, shouldering the flow into two narrow channels.  ‘Select your starting point,’ he said, grinning eagerly.

‘I will remain here,’ Elrohir said firmly from where he sat perched on a slab of rock, dangling his feet in the water. 

‘Will you?’  Elladan’s eyes sparkled as he glanced as Legolas and inclined his head.  The Wood Elf slipped silently behind his friend and, at a signal from Elladan, they simultaneously grabbed at Elrohir’s elbows to thrust him into the water.

Elrohir twisted with the agility of a fish, reaching out to haul on his brother’s leg in an attempt to unbalance him.  ‘I am not totally stupid,’ he claimed.  ‘You are not going to trap me that easily.’

With a swift leap backwards, Legolas attempted to retreat from the scrapping brothers, only for his foot to land awkwardly on a green and slippery rock.   As he lost his footing, he turned and jumped, only to splash neatly into the knee-deep pool behind the slab.

The twins promptly stopped their battle and turned to look at him.  ‘They are good in trees,’ Elrohir remarked, ‘but water is a little too much for them.’

Legolas flushed slightly. ‘It is a warm day,’ he said airily.  ‘The water is most refreshing.’

‘You cannot fool us,’ Elladan pronounced.  ‘You are not paddling intentionally.’

In a cat-like desire to divert attention from his mis-step, Legolas peered into the pool around his feet and dipped into the clear water to extract a glistening nugget.  ‘Is this gold?’ he asked.

‘I believe so,’ Elladan replied indifferently.

Elrohir stretched his hand out to receive the shining pea-sized lump, placing it on the stone beside him and retrieving a solid pebble with which he hit and flattened it.  He handed the disc back to the Wood Elf without comment.

‘It adds a rather pretty sparkle to the stream,’ Elladan said, ‘but I would rather it stayed where it is.’

Legolas laughed.  ‘I have no desire to have the stream banks littered with Noldor goldsmiths,’ he agreed.  ‘Let it long remain undiscovered.’

‘Except by Wood Elves unable to keep their footing,’ Elrohir added, his sober tone in contrast to the twinkle in his eyes.

‘No such creature exists,’ Legolas declared.  ‘And if you have quite finished attempting to push each other in the water, I imagine we can continue with our race.’

‘A wager?’ Elladan enquired.

‘I can put up a very pretty piece of gold,’ Legolas suggested, flipping the disc so that it spun in the air, catching the light in a series of flashes.

The twins exchanged only a lightning glance, but their dive towards their friend revealed centuries of co-ordinated experience beyond the need for discussion.  The flattened gold hit the rock and slid back into the water as Legolas evaded their grasp.  ‘You are far too predictable,’ he teased.  ‘Your thinking is becoming unoriginal.’

‘Throwing you in the water does not require originality,’ Elladan pointed out.

‘But it does depend on your catching me,’ his friend retaliated.  ‘And, so far, you have not managed to do that.’

‘Peace,’ Elrohir demanded.  ‘We are not elflings.  We can spend a pleasant afternoon together without descending to infancy.’

Silently agreeing to abandon their games, at least temporarily, they returned to their places stretched out on the rocks in the broad stream as the sun turned the spray to living gold.    

‘So,’ Legolas remarked finally, ‘do you think that a length of wood dropped here would travel more swiftly than any other?’

Elladan laughed.  ‘We will never know unless we try, will we?’  He scrabbled for the three discarded sticks and tossed one each to his brother and friend.  ‘On three?’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 71: The Secret Tongue of the Dwarves

The tinkle of small fragments of glass seeking the flagged hallway echoed in the silence before Elladan expressed himself forcefully in guttural and rolling Khuzdul.

‘Naneth will not be pleased,’ Elrohir observed.  ‘She was quite fond of those glasses – I believe Daernaneth’s Adar gave them to her.’

‘Make me feel better about it, why not?’ Elladan exclaimed bitterly.

‘We had best clear away the shards before your son comes and steps on them.’ Legolas turned away from Elladan with a slightly puzzled expression on his face.  ‘I am sure you will be able to make it up to Lady Celebrían – but if Ellanthir gets glass embedded in his foot, Miriwen will make you very sorry.’

The fragments, the three elves discovered, had managed to spread themselves liberally across the hall – and, no matter how many they picked up, there still seemed to be more.  Elladan muttered another of his favourite phrases as a tiny sliver of glass sliced his finger and added a sprinkling of blood to his favourite blue tunic.

‘It is no good,’ his brother decided.  ‘I will get Mothwen to send someone to clear the rest – you two go into the library, so you do not have to listen to her reproaches.  I will join you shortly.’

‘I have never quite understood how females manage to tidy up mess so effectively,’ Legolas admitted as he sprawled on the sofa.  ‘I try, if Elerrina leaves me in charge – but it never looks the same.’

‘They like doing it really,’ Elladan said absently.  ‘It makes them feel needed.’

‘Miriwen would make you pay for that comment, too.’

They looked up as Elrohir pushed the door open with his shoulder and entered.  ‘We have been relegated to the elflings’ glasses,’ he grinned.  ‘But fortunately, we are still permitted the wine.’

Legolas sipped appreciatively, before placing his glass carefully in the middle of one of the small tables that were scattered round the room.  ‘I have been meaning to ask you, Elladan,’ he remarked.  ‘Why do you lapse into odd bursts of Khuzdul when you are under stress?  It seems an odd thing to do.’

His friend raised his eyebrows.  ‘It is such a good language for conveying fury and frustration,’ he said, before rolling one of his favourite phrases over his tongue.  ‘Does it not just say it all?’

After a brief hesitation, Legolas agreed.  ‘It does, indeed, my friend,’ he said, managing to keep his voice steady.

Elrohir frowned at him.

‘I like this one, too.’  Elladan closed his eyes and gave voice to another expression full of throat-clearing consonants.   ‘It sounds delightfully vindictive.’

Legolas’s shoulders shook slightly.

Elrohir looked from his friend to his brother. 

‘Where did you learn to say that?’ Legolas asked.  ‘The dwarves are not generally very inclined to teach outsiders any of their language.’

Elladan frowned.  ‘It was some while ago,’ he said.  ‘We encountered dwarves on the Great West Road when we were journeying for Adar – to Mithlond, I believe.  We travelled together for a while.’  He grinned.  ‘I think they found our presence rather an irritation, actually.’

‘I suspect they did,’ Legolas agreed.

‘We taught them a few phrases of Sindarin,’ Elrohir recalled.  ‘I wondered for a while whether they were surprised by the reaction they got when they tried to use them.’  He shrugged. ‘It seemed funny at the time,’ he added.  ‘We were very young and foolish.’

‘Among dwarves who travel,’ Legolas observed carefully, ‘there are usually one or two with a reasonable grasp of Sindarin.  They tend not to speak it – they prefer it if the elves they meet think them ignorant.  They find they learn a lot that way.’

A faint flush of colour stained Elrohir’s face.  ‘You mean . . . ?’ he asked.

‘Oh yes,’ Legolas nodded.  ‘I think I can assure you that they knew what you were doing.’  He grinned wickedly.  ‘Although you, it seems, did not see through their – er – willingness to teach you some words of the secret tongue.’

Elladan closed his eyes.  ‘But Gimli taught you?’ he said in a rather hollow voice.

‘He taught me to recognise various insults,’ Legolas corrected him.  ‘He did not want me nodding agreeably to smiling dwarves who were making abusive comments about me and my race.’ He paused to control himself. ‘And I have spent enough time among dwarves to learn more than they expected.’  He hesitated.  ‘You really do not want your offspring even thinking about using some of those phrases, Elladan,’ he said. 

 ‘What do they mean?’ Elrohir asked hollowly.

Leaning forward and dropping his voice to a murmur, Legolas illuminated them.  The twins paled.

‘If you ever, and I mean ever, tell anyone, Legolas, that I have spent the last two thousand years informing everyone that I want to be a dwarf-maiden’s lapdog I will never forgive you!’ Elladan spoke from the heart.

Legolas grinned.  ‘I will consider your request, my friend,’ he said.  ‘Although, rest assured that it is an image that will live in my mind for ever!’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 72:  Betrayal

Elladan brooded over the rim of his glass.

‘What is the problem, my brother?’ Elrohir asked.  ‘You have refrained from comment in the last hour.  It is most unlike you.’

His brother opened his mouth, then closed it again, moving his eyes sideways to stare at Legolas before moving them back to rest on his twin.

‘I cannot read your mind,’ Legolas said pleasantly.  ‘You will have to speak.’

Elladan reached out for the decanter and topped up his glass carefully.  ‘Who knew?’

‘Who knew what?’

‘Do not act as if you are dense, my brother,’ Elladan snapped.  ‘Who knew that we were making fools of ourselves each time we let loose with a mouthful of Khuzdul?’

Elrohir exchanged a wary glance with Legolas.  ‘Why should anyone have known?’ he asked carefully.  ‘We did not exactly lapse into the secret tongue in company.  The words we used – that we thought we were using were not ones to be shared.’

‘That does not mean we were not overheard,’ Elladan said scornfully.  ‘It is about as easy to keep a secret among elves as for a leaf to keep its movements quiet from the rest of the forest.’

‘The secret language was called a secret language for a reason,’ Legolas offered.  ‘It was – well – secret.  Why would any have known the true meaning of anything you said?  You never exactly went round shouting insults at any dwarves you met, did you?’  He took a mouthful of wine.  ‘So I doubt that any of Aulë’s people knew of the trick that had been played on you – at least, not once the dwarves who fooled you passed beyond the world.’

‘May their beards have been plucked out by vultures,’ Elladan said spitefully.

‘Hair by hair,’ Elrohir agreed, raising his glass to toast the sentiment.

Legolas contemplated the twins.  ‘I was under the impression,’ he said carefully, ‘that you had sent those dwarves into the world ready to suggest to any elves they met that their beards could be used for scrubbing pots.  Amongst other things.’

A ghost of a grin twitched the corners of Elladan’s mouth.  ‘True,’ he acknowledged.

‘We deserved to have the tables turned on us, my brother,’ Elrohir conceded.

‘But,’ Elladan returned doggedly to his original point, ‘I cannot believe that we have been expressing our frustrations in those – offensive phrases over all this time without somebody realising.’

‘Perhaps we should have given in to Adar’s suggestion that we learn Khuzdul,’ Elrohir said thoughtfully.  ‘We would have been harder to deceive.’

‘Adar speaks Khuzdul,’ Elladan remarked.  ‘He must have known that we were looking like idiots.’ 

‘He knows the formal phrases,’ Elrohir said mildly.  ‘Greetings and compliments – I do not know if he can hold extended conversations in it.’  He stretched.  ‘Glorfindel speaks a little, I think.  But, if I had to think of the elf who was best able to converse with dwarves in their own tongue, it would be Naneth.’

‘Naneth,’ Elladan mused.  The shadows danced as the wood fire crackled and cast its warm light over the shelves of books.  ‘No,’ he decided.  ‘She would not play games with us.’

Legolas sipped his wine.  This, he reflected, was definitely an instance when keeping his opinion to himself could only be a sign of wisdom.  In fact, he was rather beginning to regret that he had ever mentioned the matter in the first place.  After all, what did it matter if the twins declared to the world that they wished to lick the dwarf king’s armpits!  It was not as if more than a handful of those present in the Blessed Realm could understand their words.  And most of them were members of the twins’ family and unlikely to use that knowledge to embarrass them.

‘This,’ said Elrohir, ‘is something best forgotten.  As completely as possible, as soon as possible.  We will wipe the words from our memories, my twin.  I do not care if anyone has heard us use them – just as long as no-one ever hears them again.’

‘Agreed,’ Elladan nodded.  The three friends lapsed into silence again.  ‘It is a pity, though,’ he added regretfully.  ‘It is such a good language for expressing your frustration – even if the words do not mean what you think.’

‘You could just acquire some different expressions,’ Legolas suggested.  ‘I know a dwarf drinking song or two that are more satisfying than a morning on the training fields when it comes to relieving stress.’

‘You do not think for a minute that we are about to trust anyone to teach us to use words we do not understand,’ Elrohir objected.  ‘We have been fooled once!’

‘But this is me,’ Legolas said, wounded.  ‘I am your friend.  And Gimli was as my brother.  He would never have taught me to sing anything that would be insulting to me as an elf, now would he?’

‘Possibly not,’ Elladan conceded.

‘And someone will notice,’ Elrohir decided, ‘if we change our habits completely.  Perhaps we should trust the Wood Elf.  Let him teach us something we can say without blushing.  On the clear understanding that any deception will bring about his demise – in the most painful and humiliating way we can imagine.’

Legolas grinned.  ‘That sound reasonable enough,’ he said.

The Paradise of Elves – Part 73: Like Adar, Like Son

The sons of Elrond looked infuriatingly smug.   Legolas wondered briefly if they were offering enough provocation for him to challenge them to test their skills against his in the training grounds, but concluded reluctantly that they were not.

‘It reminds me,’ Elladan said conversationally, ‘of one time when you were just an elfling and you escorted your adar to Imladris.’

‘Thank you,’ Legolas told him.  ‘I do not wish to discuss the matter.’

‘Now you come to mention it . . .’ Elladan began.

‘And I do not wish to be reminded of long-past follies.’

‘Your adar was most displeased,’ Elrohir commented.

‘I rather enjoyed being innocent of any ill-doing for once,’ his brother added.  ‘It made a pleasant change to stand to the side and watch.’

Legolas began to feel that inflicting physical discomfort on his friends would be more than a relief.  It would also, he decided, be a pleasure.

‘I can understand now why Adar could barely conceal his smiles,’ Elrohir remarked.

‘And that Thranduil’s reaction was at least as much to do with Adar’s amusement as what you had done.’

Elladan’s sympathy mollified their friend a little.

‘I do not intend to punish my son,’ Legolas met his friends’ eyes determinedly.

‘I quite understand,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘I think Thranduil regretted his burst of temper, but, once he had committed himself, he refused to back down.’

‘Of course,’ Elladan conceded, ‘when we did much the same thing – long before you were born – Naneth was the one who dealt with it.’  He grinned ruefully.  ‘Note that we did not repeat the offence.’

‘Galenthil was not attempting to sneak up on the ellyth,’ Legolas insisted through gritted teeth.  ‘He was interested in the kingfishers.’  He stared at the Elrondionnath, his eyes flint-like.  ‘Even the ellyth agreed on that.’

Elrohir leaned back against the wall and laughed.  ‘Do not take it all so seriously, Legolas,’ he said.  ‘Galenthil was at least as embarrassed as the ellyth – and Nimloth told her friends that if they persisted in making all that fuss about nothing she would see that they regretted it.  I should be taking her to task rather than teasing you about your son.’

‘But at least Nimloth refrained from using her fists this time,’ Elladan pointed out.

‘And, of course, using intimidation is so much less serious than using force.’ Elrohir nodded.

‘Well, it is,’ his brother defended himself.  ‘In a way.’

‘I think Sirithiel is giving up hope of ever turning Nimloth into a lady.’

‘She does not need to be a lady,’ Legolas relaxed.  ‘She is a Lady.’

‘Surely you are not learning to speak in capital letters,’ Elrohir grinned.

‘You cannot tell me that you have not, on occasion, found that your position excuses behaviour that would have been frowned on in someone whose adar was, say, a forester.’  Legolas raised his eyebrows in query.

‘Just as it brings with it expectations of conduct that would not be part of living as a farmer’s son,’ Elladan commented.

‘True,’ Legolas conceded.

‘Anyway,’ Elrohir added, ‘neither Adar nor Naneth would permit us to take advantage of their position.  They always said that respect had to be earned and that we had achieved nothing remarkable by being born as their sons.’

‘Of course,’ Elladan shrugged, ‘everyone always expected the worst of us when we were Galenthil’s age.’

‘Probably because we deserved it.’

Elladan inclined his head in acknowledgement.  ‘They are much more likely to believe that your son was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And he would only have to say ‘kingfishers’ and look at everyone with that pink and confused expression and they would believe him anyway.’

‘Do you think we would have got away with more had we been blond?’ Elrohir asked.

‘Almost undoubtedly.’

Legolas opened his mouth to retort indignantly, but, realising he was being provoked, he closed it again and drew in a deep breath.  ‘Perhaps you should try it some time,’ he suggested.  ‘I am sure that Miriwen could provide you with something to lighten your hair to a more attractive colour.  She might even be able to produce the same shade sported by Glorfindel.’

Elladan grinned.  ‘We should try it one day,’ he said.  ‘Just to see how everyone reacts.  It could be entertaining.’

His brother looked at him in horror.  ‘Think again,’ he said firmly.  ‘If you wish to make a spectacle of yourself like that, you are on your own, my brother.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 74:  Well Met by Moonlight

‘You want to hope that your adar has not yet noticed that she is missing,’ Elrohir said softly as he approached from the shadows.

‘I have not stolen her,’ Legolas replied, continuing his gentle rocking.  ‘Adar’s attention, like Elrond’s and Miriwen’s, is fixed on my naneth and this little one wanted some admiration of her own.’  He glanced towards the wide windows in which many candles burned.  ‘We are only a step away.’

Elladan joined them, peering over his friend’s shoulder with the confidence of familiarity.  ‘She is beautiful,’ he said.

‘She is,’ Legolas agreed. ‘And,’ he turned towards the doorway, ‘I believe her adar requires her presence.’ 

Moving with easy grace, he transferred the sleeping baby to Thranduil who gathered her jealously in his arms and took her back inside to continue her acquaintance with her naneth.  Legolas raised his face to the moon and allowed the light to bathe his face, linking his hands behind his head and stretching until it seemed as if his bones would crack.

‘It is a nervous time,’ he remarked.  ‘Worse, I think, when you are less intimately involved.’

‘I am not sure of that,’ Elrohir considered.  ‘But certainly the hours pass more slowly.’

‘And people tell you even less,’ Elladan added.

‘I wonder how long it will be before Miriwen emerges,’ Legolas said thoughtfully.  ‘We should be able to drag more information out of her.’

‘Do not count on it, my friend.’ Elrohir sat on the top step of the elegant stairway that curved up the tree trunk to the suite of rooms used by Thranduil and his wife.  ‘Miriwen has learned her views on confidentiality from Adar – and he would refuse to tell you it was raining if he felt it was better for you not to know.’

‘Elladan can torture the truth from her.’ Legolas yawned.  ‘Can you remember when last we ate?  I am feeling hungry.’

‘We could go and raid the kitchen,’ Elrohir suggested.  ‘And liberate a bottle of your adar’s best to wet the baby’s head.  Sirithiel has gone to check on the elflings – and ensure they are sleeping the sleep of the oppressed.’  He grinned.  ‘They were furious when she and Elerrina insisted that they should go to bed.  Even Eleniel complained that it was not every day that you got to attend the birth of your aunt and it was most unfair to dismiss them as if they were babies.’

‘They will not be sleeping then,’ his brother observed ‘but sitting up and pinching themselves to keep awake – just to show us all how totally unreasonable we are.’

‘They can sleep late in the morning,’ Legolas said easily.  ‘There will be far too much excitement going on to compel them to attend lessons.  And they can spend the afternoon helping prepare the feast with which my sister’s arrival will be greeted.’

Elrohir frowned.  ‘Will she not be rather young to attend a feast?’

‘I doubt even Adar will be there – except perhaps for a few minutes,’ Legolas shrugged.  ‘But a feast is, nonetheless, inevitable.  There will be another in a few days, when Naneth will preside and Adar will present the little one for all to see.’  He grinned.  ‘We do not hold to your Noldor customs, you know.  If we Wood Elves are going to celebrate anyway, we might just as well ensure that the party goes well.’

‘Are the elflings expected to attend?’ Elladan asked.

‘Well – apart, perhaps, from Ellanthir – although that is your choice.’  Legolas raised his eyebrows.  ‘Why do you ask?’ 

‘I was considering tormenting them,’ Elladan suggested.  ‘Having them work on the preparations, but telling them that, after their disturbed night, they would be far too tired to stay up for the feast.’

‘No,’ Elrohir vetoed firmly. ‘Try anything like that, my brother, and I will leave you to deal with my disgruntled daughters.’

‘Galenthil and Eleniel would know you were teasing them,’ Legolas told him, ‘Elrin would be sure you were not including him and Ellanthir is too young to care.’

‘You are all growing remarkably tedious as you get older, you know,’ Elladan complained.  ‘You are turning into your own parents.’

‘It is not tedious to wish to avoid meaningless disputes,’ his twin protested.  ‘If we deliberately upset my daughters, I might end up having to forbid them to attend the feast as a penalty for their consequent behaviour.  And that would be unfair.’

‘Oh, very well.’  Elladan admired the peace of the silver-painted night.  ‘Shall we go and see if Naneth has organised anything for us all to eat?  She is bound to know that we will be craving food and wine after all this emotional stress.’

‘That sounds a very good idea,’ Legolas approved.  ‘And your naneth might have twisted some extra information from Elrond and Miriwen.’

‘You can try,’ Elrohir said doubtfully.  ‘But I am of the opinion that, short of Thranduil spilling the information, you will remain as much in the dark to the details as your children.’

‘Well, at least there is one thing I know one thing you, as yet, do not,’ Legolas asserted as they headed for the stairs.  ‘I know her name.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 75:  A Noble Child

Fireflies danced among the elves in the moonlit glade, surrounding them like living jewels.  Elflings pranced in and out of the more formal dancers, dodging round those who were displaying their athleticism in bounds and leaps.

Elrin emerged from the crowd, his laughter somewhat louder than usual and his movements less controlled.

‘Too much wine?’ Elrohir asked, sipping from his own glass.

‘I doubt it.’  Legolas leaned back against the smooth trunk.  ‘The servers are careful when dealing with those who are neither elflings nor adults – and his acquaintance with those who know how to break the rules is slight.’  He gazed over the gathering of celebrating elves.

‘You, on the other hand, have definitely had enough,’ Elladan commented.

‘True.’  Legolas raised his glass and took a mouthful.  ‘I have been anxious,’ he admitted.  ‘It is not every day that one’s parents provide one with a baby sister.’

‘Nor even every age,’ Elrohir added.  ‘Do you think we could convince our parents of the need to follow suit?  Or our grandparents?’

Elladan shook his head.  ‘Not wise, my brother.  Not wise at all.   The only one who might safely succeed in putting across that message is currently small, pink and indisputably innocent of any intention of interfering.’

They fell silent as the rhythm of the music rang in their bones and set their feet to tapping.  ‘I wish Miriwen was here,’ Elladan said wistfully.  ‘This is my kind of dancing.’

‘Why is she missing this?’ Legolas asked vaguely.  ‘It seems unfair.’

Elladan grinned.  ‘She will be here shortly,’ he said.  ‘She will come out just before your parents arrive with the guest of honour.  Apparently Ellanthir needs to be well-rested, well-fed and freshly clothed in order to be an honour to our House.’

‘Do you remember,’ Elrohir said suddenly, ‘when Adar carried Arwen into the Hall of Fire to show her to those who dwelt in Imladris?’

‘I do.’  Elladan lifted his chin to stare at the eternal stars above them.  ‘I have never seen him look happier.’

‘Daughters are special,’ Legolas pronounced.  ‘You should have one, Elladan.’  He raised his glass in an airy salute.  ‘I believe an elf has a right to a daughter.’

Elrohir cast up his eyes and exchanged the glass he was holding for the one that had slopped its remaining contents over his friend’s fingers.  ‘Drink that,’ he commanded. ‘I will fetch you something to eat.’

‘It is water!’ Legolas complained as he took a mouthful.  ‘Anyone would think I had been drinking too much!’

‘Have you not?’ Elladan grinned.

‘I have not,’ the fair-haired elf spoke with dignity.  ‘I am thinking.’

‘About what?’  Elrohir offered him a plate of bread and venison.  ‘Eat as you talk – you do not need to have your party manners on display with us.’

Legolas took a bite.  ‘So much time wasted,’ he said indistinctly.  ‘So much pain.’

Elladan shook his head.  ‘Not wasted,’ he insisted.  ‘That would infer that everything we did in Arda was pointless.  That every sacrifice was in vain – and that what happened would have happened anyway.’

‘I prefer to think of it as payment in advance,’ Elrohir shrugged. ‘And Thranduil is currently receiving some of the reward due to him for his age-long battle to hold Lasgalen against evil.’

‘A reward.’  Legolas smiled.  ‘I like that.  Celumíl is a reward worth having.’

Two identical faces turned towards him, eyes narrowed.

‘Orc’s teeth.’  Legolas’s hand froze on the way to his mouth.  ‘You did not hear that.’

Elladan’s lips moved, clearly trying out the name.  ‘I like it,’ he said.  ‘And I will certainly not be the one to let slip in front of your adar that you failed to keep the name secret until he announced it.’

‘Nor I,’ his twin said airily.  ‘Far be it from me to reveal to Taurevron’s King that his son is unable to keep a confidence.’

Legolas scowled.  ‘You had better not,’ he told them.  ‘Arwen told me enough about you to keep me supplied with blackmail material until the end of days.  I imagine Lady Galadriel would still be interested to know that chance had nothing to do with a certain piece of root finding its way into her ewer.  And that your adar would appreciate information about the fate of a certain scroll.’

Elrohir held up his hands.  ‘Peace,’ he demanded.  ‘We will say nothing – have confidence in us.’

‘I am shocked, though,’ Elladan added, ‘to discover that our little sister proved unable to keep our secrets.’   He shook his head.  ‘You will need to keep that in mind, my friend – little sisters, especially when young, can be tempted to reveal your errors of judgement in exchange for ribbons and sugared plums.’

‘It can prove very useful at times,’ Elrohir grinned.  ‘Now I am on the other end of the arrangement, I find I have learned to appreciate a daughter’s loyalty to her adar.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 76: Serendipity


Elladan looked confused.  ‘I fail to understand quite what happened there,’ he said.

‘It is remarkable,’ Elrohir agreed.

‘I would have expected,’ his brother mused, ‘that such an abundance of – incidents – would have let to us being the objects of everyone’s opprobrium.’

‘Yet . . .’ Elrohir marvelled. 

Legolas nodded.  ‘Each apparent catastrophe resulted in some fortunate fall of the dice that somehow produced a breath-holding moment before tumbling in precisely the way that worked.’

‘It will never happen again,’ Elrohir said.

‘Never,’ his brother shook his head in amazement.

‘Come, my friends,’ Legolas encouraged them, ‘we deserved the good fortune.’

Two identically raised eyebrows made him grin.  ‘Well – maybe not,’ he conceded.

‘The look on Adar’s face suggests he knows that we are not quite the heroes of the hour we seem to be,’ Elrohir remarked.

Elladan waved an airy hand.  ‘It would take more than our modest demeanour to convince him or Glorfindel that anything more than a fortunate chance enabled us to walk away from this.’

‘Just think,’ Legolas shook his head.  ‘If we had not slipped out to enjoy a night’s fishing on the river, we would not have lost the oars . . .’

‘If we had not first over-indulged in wine and boastful stories of past catches,’ Elrohir added.  ‘Do not forget that.’

‘But,’ his brother protested, ‘if we had not been – shall I say – made light-headed by the transcendent beauty of Ithil’s argent disc gleaming on the water, we . . .’

Elrohir groaned. ‘No, my twin. Avoid bad imagery at all costs. Argent disc, indeed.’

‘Had we not been on the water and without oars, we would not have drifted down river.’ Elladan stared down his nose at his brother.  ‘And had we not, we would not have seen the tree fall.’

‘Which was, in truth, convenient for us,’ Legolas mused, ‘as it enabled us to – er – halt our voyage just as it was becoming rather too swift.’

‘And then our rods made it possible to retrieve the elfling safely before the current took him,’ Elrohir smiled.

‘Not to mention getting his stunned parents out of the flet,’ Legolas added.

‘Before their neighbours arrived,’ Elladan continued.

‘To find us co-ordinating the retrieval of the family’s goods . . .’

‘And ensuring the health of the shaken elves.’

‘And then,’ Legolas added, ‘we happened to have a handy boat to transport the victims to receive your adar’s care.’

Elladan considered the night’s activity, then shook his head to dismiss the events.  ‘Remarkable,’ he shrugged.  ‘I can only assume that it was one of those things that was fated to happen.’

Legolas extended his legs to prop his feet on the small table before him.  ‘It is reassuring,’ he remarked.  ‘Too often we have seen series of unfortunate events that led to disaster – no single one of them that bad in itself, but with a cumulative effect that was . . . ,’ he waved his hand as if to summon the word he was seeking.

‘Devastating?’ Elrohir suggested.  ‘Overwhelming, perhaps?  Crushing?’

‘It stands to reason,’ Elladan mused, ‘that, if bad things lead to worse, there should be good chances that lead to better.’

‘And that a hero can be a bold elf with good fortune – just as villainy can just be a reflection of insuperable pressure.’  Legolas stretched.  ‘Take Turin Turambar . . .’

‘No, thank you,’ Elladan interjected.

‘His misfortune was to be on the edge of a blade – between triumph and disaster.’

‘Or your daeradar,’ Elrohir said softly.  ‘With better luck, he could have been the hero of the Second Age, honoured by all.’

‘What counts,’ Elladan said seriously, ‘is trying.  If you spend too much time worrying about how history will see you, you will never do anything.  And it is always easy to look back and say how things could have been done better.’

‘Good fortune,’ Legolas murmured, ‘is made up of a hundred hundred small sacrifices and choices, most of which pass unregarded.’ The look on his face told his friends immediately who was in his mind.

‘They succeeded beyond all hope,’ Elladan said, grasping his friend’s shoulder.  ‘Then accepted the responsibility that came with it.  And they received the reward they deserved.  Of that I am certain.’  He grinned.  ‘As will we.’

‘Now that, my brother,’ Elrohir observed, ‘is a rather less encouraging thought!’

Just in case you're interested, this episode and the next occur around the same time as Elflings 11.  Legolas has taken Galenthil to spend some months with his cousin - and Elrohir and Elladan are visiting their great-grandfather.


The Paradise of Elves – Part 77: Display

Elladan arranged himself so that his shimmering silk robes in dark Imladris blue draped themselves elegantly around his feet.  Elrohir grinned and automatically took up a position at his brother’s shoulder: identical brothers, identically clothed, mithril bands around their brows keeping their gleaming hair under control. 

‘Do you think if we look forbidding enough it will persuade the chattering hordes to keep away from us?’ Elladan murmured.

‘No,’ his brother said simply.  ‘We are here to demonstrate the bond between Adar’s realm and the Finarfin’s House.  We are here to be admired, not overlooked.’

‘Is that why Adar sent us?’ Elladan sounded surprised.

Elrohir watched the approach of a certain blond elf in gold-embroidered green.  ‘Well, that and because he knows how much Legolas dislikes the time he spends with Elerrina’s parents.’

‘We are protection?’

‘Support.’  Elrohir grinned.  ‘A reminder to Taryatur that Galadriel would be very annoyed if her favourite Wood Elf happened to fall off a tall cliff while he was visiting.’

‘Ahh.’  Elladan pitched his voice to be heard by the new arrival.  ‘And an indication that he has powerful friends.  With relatives in high places.’

‘You have relatives in very high places,’ Legolas laughed and glanced up at the darkening sky in which the light of Eärendil’s star was rising.

‘Well, that is one from which your wife’s adar is unlikely to throw you,’ his friend told him.

Legolas looked at him with some confusion.  ‘Have you been drinking, Elladan?’

‘Ignore him,’ Elrohir said.

‘How are Linevendë and Taryatur?’ Elladan asked with apparent interest. ‘Are they showing any signs of wishing to take you out for long walks?  Or perhaps to admire the view from any high towers?’

‘Be silent, orc brain,’ his brother commanded.

Elladan grinned mischievously.  ‘I am delighted to see you, my friend,’ he said.  ‘If only because the courtesies between realms impel us to pass some considerable time in conversation.’

‘Not as long as I would like,’ Legolas said ruefully.  ‘My naneth says that I should be sure to dance first with Lady Eärwen.  And Elerrina instructed me to dance with Linevendë and then with Nisimalotë.   And Hithien has asked me to speak to Calion’s naneth – preferably in public so that Artamir does not realise that the conversation is more than casual.’

Elrohir brightened.  ‘We could help,’ he suggested.  ‘I could talk to Artamir while you inveigle Minyariel away.’

‘And I could take Finarfin to one side while you entice Eärwen away.’ Elladan threw Legolas a wicked glance.  ‘Although you might end up having to fight off the whole of the court.’

‘I am only surprised that you do not have, tucked in your sleeve, a list of those with whom you must be seen to talk – and for how long – and those with whom you must dance – and how many times,’ Legolas commented.

‘Really, my friend,’ Elladan drawled, ‘you must think us to be totally socially inept.’

‘We outgrew the need for lists years ago,’ Elrohir agreed. ‘When we discovered the repercussions of losing them!’

‘Elrohir pays attention to the instructions now,’ Elladan grinned. ‘And pushes me in the right direction at the right time.’

‘This is such a tedious way to spend an evening.’ Legolas viewed the brightly clad groups of Noldor with a jaded eye.  He sighed.  ‘I would rather be home.’

‘I would rather be fighting orcs,’ Elladan raised the bar.

‘I would prefer to be dancing barefoot on hot coals while fighting dragons with a wooden spoon,’ Elrohir declared.

‘He lies,’ Legolas told Elladan.

‘He does,’ the first-born twin agreed.  ‘He actually enjoys prancing around being suave and clever.’  He shook his head.  ‘He is nearly as good at it as Arwen was – I am sure the only reason she married Aragorn was so that she could spend her evenings engaged in subtle chit-chat with advantage-seeking diplomats.’

‘Obviously,’ Legolas nodded.  ‘She cannot possibly have had any other reason for binding herself to a scruffy ranger in the robes of a king.’

Elrohir squared his shoulders and took a deep breath.  ‘Well,’ he said, ‘I suppose it is time for us to go on a charm offensive.  We know what we have to do.’

‘We are doing this for the New Realms,’ Legolas said encouragingly.  ‘For Taurevron.’

‘And for Emyn Ovornen.’  Elrohir laughed.  ‘Come on, then.  Time to impress.’


The Paradise of Elves – Part 78: Standing In

Legolas sat in the window seat, turned so that the light shone on his face, his attention focused on the stack of documents before him, scanning each one carefully and scratching comments on a small tablet before placing it one of several smaller piles.

‘You would think,’ a voice observed, ‘that his tutors would have managed to teach him to work without getting ink all over his face.’

‘Erestor never permitted us to suck on our pens,’ a very similar voice agreed.  ‘And he insisted that working at a desk was much more efficient.’

‘If Erestor wishes to transfer his loyalties and come here to us, I will happily provide him with a desk,’ Legolas said absently.  ‘And as many pens as he likes.’

‘No poaching!’ Elladan insisted.  ‘You do your own paperwork.’

Legolas looked up at the twins and grinned.  ‘As if Erestor would agree to leave your adar,’ he said mildly.  ‘What are you two doing here?’

‘We have run away from home,’ Elrohir declared straight-faced, ‘and come to seek refuge in Taurevron.’

‘I am not sure that I can permit that.’  Legolas shook his head.  ‘What skills, after all, do you have that you could put to our service?  We have no need of court jesters – and orc-slaying is quite out of fashion!’

‘Alas, my brother,’ Elladan put a slender hand to his heart, ‘we are given so little credit for our multifarious talents – perhaps we will simply have to return home where we are appreciated.’

‘But not until we have delivered the formal letters and gifts,’ Elrohir said.  ‘Did we forget to mention that we are considered excellent messengers?’

‘Not for you!’ Elladan scolded as Legolas extended his hand.  ‘We are to perform in a princely manner and place them only in the right hands.’

‘I suppose in that case you might wish to bathe – and have your robes pressed – before you present yourselves,’ Legolas suggested.  Arranging his river-smoothed pebble paperweights to hold his documents in place, he rose.  ‘I was not aware that you had yet had time to return home.’

‘When the High King requests, it is difficult to say, ‘But. . .’ and get away with it.’  Elrohir shrugged and turned to follow their friend to the rooms they customarily occupied when visiting.

‘And he knows it,’ his brother added.  ‘I think he was quite pleased with himself – he sent us here as his representatives rather than Adar’s or Daeradar’s – and managed to use the cry of ‘family’ to have us comply.’

‘There are times when it is useful to be related to everybody,’ Legolas observed, ‘and doubtless times when it is somewhat of a handicap.  I can imagine that this is a time when it is both at the same time.’

Elrohir grinned ruefully.  ‘I think Andaeradar thought he was exceptionally fortunate to be able to send us to greet your daeradar – great-grandsons who are also in Elwë’s direct line!  And he is certainly wise enough to seize any advantage offered.’

Legolas looked from one to the other.  They were clearly too pleased with themselves to have allowed Finarfin to play them that easily.  ‘And?’ he asked.

‘We rode hard,’ Elladan said, ‘and took the southern path – so that we arrived as quickly as we could – as instructed.’

‘But on a rather roundabout route.’  Elrohir raised an eyebrow.  ‘With word from Adar – and Celeborn – as well as Finarfin.’

‘Underestimated.’ Elladan shook his head.  ‘We always have been, my friend.’  He sighed with mock disappointment.  ‘I know not what it is – but all our elders seem to look on us as frivolous.’

‘And you have worked so hard to rid yourselves of that reputation,’ Legolas mourned with him.  ‘I fail to see how they can be so deluded.’

‘Less of that, Thranduilion,’ Elrohir protested.  He unstrapped his pack and withdrew his robes with a flourish.  Silver-grey shimmered, sliding over his hands in creaseless folds.  

Elladan clearly smirked as he shook out his own robes of deep blue.

‘And which of you dresses to represent the High King of the Noldor?’ Legolas enquired.  ‘You are here as Elrond’s heir – and Elrohir as Celeborn’s representative: that is obvious.  But what of Finarfin?’

‘It was undeniably difficult,’ Elrohir acknowledged.  ‘Three into two just will not go – but Glorfindel came up with the perfect solution.’

‘Are you going to make me ask?’ Legolas leaned on the door frame and looked quizzically at his friends.

‘We could make you wait and see,’ Elladan teased.

‘Except,’ Legolas pointed out, ‘that I am not hard of hearing – and I suspect your solution is currently conversing with my daughter.’

Elrohir laughed.  ‘Very well,’ he agreed.  ‘Glorfindel suggested that Elrin could represent his andaernaneth’s adar – and that his presence would smooth a range of difficulties, as well as making it perfectly clear that, while we are happy to be of assistance to Finarfin, we will not be used.’  He grinned.  ‘Although I rather hope he has time to get over his irritation before we see him again!’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 79: Feeling your Years

Legolas leaned his head back against the trunk and closed his eyes.   He drew a breath so deep it seemed to Elrohir amazing that he did not swell like a bladder.  

‘Bad?’ he asked sympathetically.

Thranduil’s son flicked him a tight look.  ‘You are more than welcome to take your turn and spend the next century or two acting as a cushion between a variety of people old enough to know better.  At least it would free me to go and become a hermit.’

Elladan laughed.  ‘You would not make a good hermit, Legolas.  The presence of your wife and children . . .’

‘And your parents and daeradar. . .’

‘And old Uncle Ilquen and all – would rather get in the way of any craving for solitude.’     

‘Not to mention,’ Elrohir added, ‘that you are too fond of good conversation – and competition on the training field – to take well to a life of isolation.’

‘Oh well -,’ Legolas dismissed their teasing with a wave of his hand, ‘perhaps it would be better to send certain others off instead.’

The three turned over his words warily.

‘I do not believe that anyone is within earshot,’ Elrohir said guiltily.  ‘We may still live to fight another day.’

‘Daernaneth does not need to be within earshot,’ his brother reminded him.  ‘She can pick such thoughts out of our minds – if she so chooses.’

‘She long since abandoned any hope of making sense of our thoughts, my twin.’

‘That explains a lot,’ Legolas remarked.  The twins exchanged a glance and dived for him simultaneously, but their friend evaded them easily.  ‘I mean it!’ he declared.  ‘I am impressed – truly I am!  If you can deter Lady Galadriel from examining your motives by seeming mind-numbingly shallow, then you are worthy of respect!’

Elrohir abandoned his attempt to reach the Woodland Prince.  ‘What are we going to do?’ he asked.  ‘We have elders behaving like elflings – and elflings behaving like – well. . .’

‘Elflings?’ his brother suggested.  ‘Leaving us in the middle, like the jam in a sandwich.  Squashed.’

‘I have longed all my life to know my daeradar,’ Legolas said wearily.  ‘And he and my daughter clearly adore each other – but the tensions between him and Adar begin to outweigh the joy they take in each other’s company.  And then, having fought with Lady Galadriel since before Angband fell, Adar is suddenly determined to behave as if she is one of his most trusted friends – and put pressure on Oropher to move past whatever resentment he feels.’

‘It is too much,’ Elladan agreed.  ‘If it were only possible, I would like to line them up and deliver one of Adar’s most measured and crushing discourses.’  He grinned.  ‘But I do not believe they would consent to listen to our words of wisdom.’

‘It will settle down in time,’ Elrohir sighed.  ‘But I am not sure that even elves have that much time with which to play.’

‘Adar is determined that Oropher will see he is a king of wisdom and experience,’ Legolas mused.  ‘One who can take natural opponents and mould them into friends.’

‘And Daernaneth is gritting her teeth,’ Elladan grinned mischievously, ‘because Daeradar has long been determined that she and Thranduil will learn to like each other – and he will not let her say any of the things that are passing through her mind.’

‘Every now and then,’ Legolas said quietly, ‘Daeradar has a look of confusion – as if he is not entirely certain where he is or why he is doing what he does.  Naneth understands him better than anyone, I think, and she worries that this is not doing him any good.  He needs peace – and trees – and the company of those who ask no questions and demand nothing of him.’

‘Take him off for a while,’ Elrohir suggested.  ‘Just you and him.  You had better speak to Elerrina – but leave the rest to us.  With luck, they will feel a little chastened that their rivalries have driven Oropher to take refuge from them.’

‘You could take a boat and cross south of the Great River,’ Elladan considered.  ‘Few people have settled there – the river is too dangerous over most of the year – and you should be able to help your daeradar come to a better understanding of the Blessed Realm and his place in it.’

‘It is a good time of year to hunt and forage in the forest,’ Elrohir agreed.  ‘You could return before the autumn rains make the river unsafe – and, by that time, everything will have had a chance to settle down.’

‘It seems unfair to think of taking Oropher away from Adar,’ Legolas said slowly.  ‘He has missed Daeradar so badly.’

‘That is half the problem.’  Elrohir shrugged.  ‘They have not had time to come to terms with building a new relationship.  A little separation will give them both time to think.’  He smiled.  ‘Thranduil will forgive you – once Laerwen has straightened him out.  And perhaps we will have had a chance to talk a bit of common sense into the rest of this party of ancient and wise elves.’

Legolas grinned.  ‘Do you mean I would miss that?’ he asked.    ‘I am not sure I could live with knowing that I have deprived myself of the chance of watching you challenge Lady Galadriel and charge her with behaving unreasonably.  That, my friend, seems too much to ask of anyone!’


Ilquen means, I think, everyone, and the expression is intended as an elven equivalent to 'Uncle Tom Cobley and all'

This episode links in with the events in Elflings 12

The Paradise of Elves – Part 80: Sisters

‘Why have you been landed with the task of caring for her?’ Elrohir enquired, looking over Legolas’s shoulder at the sleeping babe.

‘Naneth said – and she managed a straight face, too, which is remarkable – that it was important for an older sibling to bond with a younger.’  The new brother shook his head pityingly.  ‘I do not think she expected me to believe her, though.’

Elladan lifted an eyebrow.  ‘Do not tell me – she and Thranduil are taking a walk in the woods.  To admire the effect of Ithil shining on the water and listen to the night-birds singing.’

‘I believe they said something of the sort,’ Legolas nodded gravely, suppressing his urge to laugh.

‘Naneth never tried that one on us,’ Elrohir observed, ‘despite her liking for carrying Adar off into the woods.  I am of the opinion that they did not trust us to care for Arwen competently.’

‘You cannot blame them,’ Elladan grinned.  ‘We were little over a century old and noted for our heedlessness – we would probably have forgotten her and left her under a tree somewhere while we engaged in horseplay with our friends.  Or used her as an enticement to attract cooing ellyth.’

‘And why take a chance on us when they had a tame Balrog-slayer panting to care for our little sister.’

‘Glorfindel should become an adar,’ Elladan mused.  ‘He adores elflings.’

‘There is just one problem there.’  Legolas brushed the baby’s fair head with his cheek. ‘Before having elflings, the Golden Flower needs to find himself an elleth to whom to devote himself.’

Elrohir leaned back and put his feet up on a small table.  ‘He is excessively loyal,’ he mused.  ‘I suspect that he has never looked at anyone – not since his return.’  He smiled.  ‘Do you remember what Lestanen said?’ he asked.

‘Lestanen. . .’ Legolas said meditatively.  ‘The elleth who told us such delightful stories about Glorfindel in his less-than-perfect youth?’

‘Including,’ Elrohir agreed, ‘one about an elleth with hair like spring sunshine – one he allowed to ride his horse.’

His brother looked at him with some bewilderment.  ‘I have let many ellyth ride my horse, my twin.  It is not a promise of eternal devotion.’

‘But you are not Glorfindel.’  Elrohir stretched.  ‘Our favourite son of Gondolin is very possessive about his long line of Asfaloths.’

‘Do not expect me to involve myself in this game,’ Legolas declared.  ‘I have a strong wish to live long enough to embarrass my offspring – and challenging Glorfindel is never a good idea.  If he wants to find a wife, he is more than old enough to seek one for himself.’

‘Arwen could have done it,’ Elladan said regretfully.  ‘I would have relished watching Glorfindel squirm.’

‘Sisters can get away with a whole variety of things that are best avoided by their brothers.’  Legolas smiled the sleeping Celumíl.  ‘I have observed Eleniel win over her daeradar as efficiently as her naneth can handle me – while Galenthil finds him much harder to manage.  And I, of course. . .’  He shook his head reminiscently.

‘I loved Estel dearly,’ Elrohir said.  ‘He was a brother to me – but there are still times when I resent his theft of my sister.’

‘You cannot steal what is given freely,’ his twin stated soberly.  ‘Arwen asked for our understanding and support.’  He stared at the infant in Legolas’s arms.  ‘Let me hold her a while, my friend.’

Legolas held his eyes for a moment before surrendering his sister to his friend’s care.  ‘She was happy,’ he said.

Elrohir’s eyes gleamed in the cool light.  ‘And we were happy for her.’  He blinked. ‘But we have lived without her – without them both – so long, and the gap remains unfilled.’

‘She is with you still.’  Legolas spoke with some effort.  ‘She is just – elsewhere.  It is as if she is in a different room.’

Elladan held Celumíl close enough to inhale the clean scent of sleeping infant.  ‘Is that how you see the fate of the Secondborn?’

‘It is the only way to see it.’  Legolas shrugged.  ‘Nothing is lost merely because we cannot see it: Ilúvatar would not permit it.  Life is too precious to waste.’

‘My turn.’ Elrohir held his arms out imperiously.  His brother frowned, but reluctantly handed over the elfling.  His twin’s long fingers arranged her blanket carefully, smoothing it in place.  Celumíl’s head turned and her mouth worked as if she was dreaming about food.  ‘They are all blondes,’ Elrohir complained.  ‘Not one of us has produced a dark-haired elleth.’

‘I would not expect my parents to have a dark-haired elfling,’ Legolas pointed out.

‘Elrohir, on the other hand. . .’ Elladan grinned, leaving his sentence incomplete.

‘Oh no, my brother,’ Elrohir rejected the suggestion.  ‘I am not ready for another attempt at parenthood.  And, anyway, what I want is not a daughter.’

‘A sister?’  Elladan stared at him speculatively, and both twins smiled.

The Paradise of Elves – Part 81: Patience

‘I have never,’ Elladan said lazily, ‘thought of myself as a patient elf…’

‘Nor has anyone else,’ his brother interrupted.  ‘Ask Erestor.  Or Glorfindel.  Or, indeed, anyone who had to coax a little knowledge into your head.’

Elladan buzzed a beech nut at his twin.  ‘I have always wanted to understand why, you donkey.  Whereas you were so eager to please that anyone might have been under the impression that you thought approval was dependent on compliance.’

‘Elrohir?’ Legolas asked incredulously. ‘Are we talking about the same dogged elf?’

‘You were not acquainted with him when he was an elfling.’  Elladan shook his head sadly.  ‘Had it not been for me, my friend, he would have been one of those sad prodigies who sit indoors on beautiful days translating treatises into Quenya, while all their age mates mock them.’

‘While had it not been for me,’ Elrohir retaliated, ‘Imladris would have had an heir who never mastered basic literacy.’

‘Unfair.’ Elladan pulled a face.  ‘I would have learned – in my own time.’

Legolas shook his head.  ‘Is this one of those moments when you manage between you to make me glad that I never had a brother?’

‘I hope not.’  Elrohir grinned.  ‘We made a good team – together we covered most possibilities.   We saved each other a lot of work.’

‘Probably just as well,’ Legolas mused.  ‘Considering Elladan is not a patient elf.’

‘But I am learning,’ Elladan reproved them both.  ‘I am adjusting my pace to suit the Blessed Realm.’

The three friends considered.

‘I hope not,’ Legolas said finally.  ‘It takes an age for anything to change here.  There are still elves following the same routines they did when the Trees lit the land.  I would not want anything to give me that kind of patience.’

‘That is not patience,’ Elrohir objected.  ‘That is inertia.’

‘And complacency.’ 

‘I would not want to develop that level of inactivity!’ Elladan declared.  ‘There are those here who could have moss growing on them.  It is almost ent-like.’  He paused and reflected on the image for a moment.  ‘Well, maybe not,’ he conceded.

‘So what has happened to make you pontificate on your personal failings?’ Elrohir asked.  ‘You tend to do your best to avoid introspection.’

‘If you were less keen on mocking me,’ his brother grinned, ‘I could have made my point long ago and moved on to other things by now.  I was going to say – I have never been a patient elf, but I think taking development in the new realms at this slow pace has been to everyone’s benefit.’

‘M’mm.’  Legolas leaned back against the welcoming beech.  ‘You are right.  There was a time when I felt that I would be stuck for yeni negotiating over haulage rates and grain supplies – and settling who should be allowed to journey when, knowing all the time that half of those travelling west were not bothering to wait for permission while the rest felt that every decision made only went to prove how prejudiced we were against whatever group they represented.’

‘As long as they are all offended,’ Elrohir shrugged, ‘they can accept it.  It is only when one set of people appears to be favoured above another that it causes trouble.’

‘Elves are not always creatures of reason, whatever they might claim.’ Elladan stretched himself out along the branch.  ‘Half the time I think that the only purpose of lordship is to provide everyone with someone to dislike.’

‘Maybe it is a Noldor thing,’ Legolas suggested.  ‘Wood Elves will ignore their lords and slide off into deep and hidden places if they wish not to co-operate, but they rarely engage overmuch in debate.’

‘Legolas – their kings since the First Age have been Oropher and Thranduil!  Would you argue?  Being somewhere else seems the best imaginable way to avoid complying with unpopular commands.’

Elladan laughed.  ‘He has a point!’

‘I would not say that the Noldor kings are much fonder of being defied!’

‘No.’ Elrohir grinned.  ‘But the Noldor I have known seem to be far more convinced that they can talk you into submission.  Very politely, of course.  With plenty of compliments and bowing.’

‘Maybe you have just been lucky in your Noldor,’ Legolas remarked.

Both twins looked at him sympathetically.  ‘It is more that you have been unlucky, my friend.’  Elladan shook his head.  ‘Your beloved adar-in-law has pig-headedness down to a fine art.’

‘He will get over it,’ Elrohir said doubtfully.  ‘He is surely not so stupid as to fail to see – eventually – that you make as good a son-in-law as anyone.  Better than most, I would say.’

‘But you might need to develop a remarkable level of patience, my friend.’  Elladan grinned.  ‘The sort that can wait for mountains to grind down to sand.’

‘But I doubt you are the one to teach me how,’ Legolas said dryly.  ‘Unfortunately.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 82: Long Shadows


The thunder grumbled as it rolled around the bowl of the mountains, clearly reluctant to leave the wet elves to continue their journey unmolested.

‘I hope it has no more lightning bolts to hurl at us.’  Legolas regarded the sky with a jaded eye.  ‘We are rather exposed here.’

Elrohir stroked his jittery horse soothingly.  ‘It is the best shelter available,’ he said calmly.  ‘We do not wish to make targets of ourselves.’

‘I have always rather enjoyed storms,’ his brother admitted.  ‘They are exciting.’

‘They are exciting,’ Elrohir corrected, ‘as long as you are safe from their mindless enthusiasm.  I can think of once or twice when I would have paid to be at a considerable distance.’

His brother glanced up at him, his eyes bright.  ‘Now you come to mention it…’ He grinned.  ‘We have fallen foul of the weather on more than a few occasions.  Naneth used to say that we had less sense than a pair of ducklings.’

‘Glorfindel insisted we had inherited Eärendil’s affinity with water,’ his twin mused. ‘Only we lacked the wit to have a ship in which to shelter.’

Legolas laughed.  ‘I am glad that Glorfindel was not around when I was growing up,’ he said.  ‘He is far too good at putting into words the bemusement that parents feel when considering their children’s follies!   Adar would occasionally hold his head in his hands and wonder what he had done to deserve a son with so little sense of self-preservation – but there was no-one producing witty epigrams.’

The narrow overhang channelled the torrents of rain into a cascade that tumbled over the path.  Elrohir gazed at it dubiously.  ‘I hope the path remains intact – I have no wish to scoop Elladan out of another pickle.’  He lifted an eyebrow at his friend.  ‘I am surprised Thranduil was so resigned – I would have pictured him much more vocal in response to your sins.’

‘Well,’ Legolas grinned, ‘I have glossed over the early stages of his reactions.’  He leaned back against the stone.  ‘I understand his attitude much better now.  When Galenthil decided to climb up to the eagles’ nests to see them more closely – and when he and Eleniel were found petting a family of wolf cubs – I could not decide whether to shout at them, lock them in their rooms until they developed some sense, lecture them until they were too sullen to listen or simply despair!’

‘And you should hear some of the things that Aewlin and Nimloth have tried,’ Elrohir commented gloomily.  ‘If nothing else, their exploits would make you feel better!’

‘What would you say was the worst thing you ever did when you were an elfling?’ Elladan asked curiously, turning to look at the fair-haired elf.

‘Not what you might expect.’  Legolas smiled slightly.  ‘What you think is terrible when you are an elfling and what seems terrible later – they are two completely different things.  Although at one time…’ his smile twisted, ‘I held myself responsible for my naneth’s death.  Now – I would have to recognise that was not my fault.’

‘What shames me most,’ Elrohir said abruptly and paused, looking at his brother.  ‘Do you remember Galuion?’  He stopped and raised his eyes to watch the rain.  ‘He was a little older than we were – part Silvan and very much an outsider in Imladris.  His adar had been badly injured at Dagorlad – he had lost a leg and a hand and was in constant pain, but refused to sail.’  He drew a deep breath.  ‘I shall never forget the time we made him cry with our clever digs and our so-called wit.’

‘Naneth was disgusted with us.’ Elladan reflected. ‘She refused to speak to us.’

‘They left Imladris shortly afterwards – and I always felt it was our fault.  The look on his face haunts me still.’

‘Galuion,’ Legolas considered.  ‘I know the name – he was a forester in Lasgalen.  A quiet elf, who lived with his family as far from the Stronghold as he could.  He was killed in the Battle under the Trees.’ 

Elrohir exhaled slowly.

His brother glanced at him.  ‘I always felt far more wicked for drawing on Adar’s scroll of the Fall of Gondolin,’ he said airily.  ‘I knew I was doing what I should not – but I was so bored with being forced to remain inside to study.’

‘It does not compare!’ Elrohir objected.

Elladan shrugged as another rumble of thunder echoed.  ‘It sounds like a halfling’s stomach when he has missed elevenses!  You are right, of course – but it all boils down to perception.  Nimloth does not see why you object to her meddling with Adar’s herbs, Galenthil cannot comprehend why Legolas prefers him not to climb sheer cliffs – and none of them would tell us if Elrin was off doing something we know he should refrain from doing until he is much older!’

‘Ignorance is sometimes the best solution,’ Legolas suggested.  ‘Leaving the young to learn from experience.  It is hard to do, though.’

‘That sounds like a solution Daernaneth would come up with,’ Elrohir said disapprovingly.  ‘She has always felt that some learning needs to come with pain attached – and that without suffering the lesson is unlikely to stick.’

‘She is probably right.’ Elladan peered out at the slackening rain.  ‘She usually is.’

‘Well – I am sure you will excuse me if I continue to try to educate my daughters rather more gently in the realities of life.’

‘As long as Elladan strives to remember that rain and mud together can make a slippery combination.’ Legolas grinned.  ‘That is one experience I wish not to repeat!’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 83:  Cousins


‘I was unaware that Cúraniel was Sirithiel’s cousin.’  Legolas looked at the two fair heads curiously.

‘So was I,’ Elrohir admitted.  ‘Well – it is not surprising.  They had never met before Cúraniel sailed and are not close.’ He smiled with gentle humour.  ‘Sirithiel is still not altogether comfortable with many ellyth who have experienced life east of the sea.’

‘You would not think that to see them together.’  The three elves watched the ellyth.  ‘And your wife seems to be quite happy in Miriwen’s company.’

‘Miriwen is careful what she says,’ Elladan said.  The other two stared at him, making him shrug defensively.  ‘Well, she is!  We all are.  In Sirithiel’s presence, we avoid indulging in topics of conversation that might distress her.’

Legolas looked doubtfully at the back of Sirithiel’s head.  ‘I do not avoid talking about things for fear of upsetting Elerrina.’

‘You do,’ Elrohir declared.  ‘You just had not thought of it before.’  He shrugged.  ‘There are topics we avoid when we are together – why should we want to bring them up when we are with our wives?’

The three former orc-slayers took on a slightly predatory look as they reflected.  ‘I suppose you are right,’ Legolas conceded.

‘Miriwen,’ Elladan admitted, ‘refuses to let me get away with silence.  And she knows far too much of my past to let me hide behind the idea of protecting her.  She says I need to speak to stop bad memories festering.’ He met his twin’s astonished eyes.  ‘Some need a scalpel and some a plaster, she says.  I am one and you are the other.  And Legolas…’ he turned to his friend, ‘is somewhere between the two.’

‘But on whom can Cúraniel unload her memories?’ Elrohir mused.  ‘I hope she has not allowed them to prevent her from moving on here in the west.’

‘She dwelt with Adar and Naneth for a time.’ Elladan dredged up the recollection. ‘And shared with them all she knew of Arwen’s life and children.  And Estel.  But, by the time we arrived, she had moved elsewhere – I cannot recall where or why.’

‘I would have thought she had sought trees,’ Elrohir considered.  ‘Rejoined her family maybe?’

‘But you said Sirithiel did not know her well.’

‘She would not have gone to live with the Galadhrim,’ Legolas said with certainty.  ‘And she has not spent the last centuries with those from Lasgalen.’  He hesitated.  ‘I am ashamed I did not think to seek her out,’ he regretted.  ‘It was a long while before I was ready to confront the pain brought by what I had left behind.’

‘Why would she not have gone to the Galadhrim?’ Elrohir asked.

‘Because she had changed,’ Legolas said simply.  ‘In ways that they had not.  She had been touched by time.’ 

Wordless, the three turned away from the sparkling sunlight shining on the water and headed automatically for the comfort of dappled shade of the beech grove.

‘It is not,’ Elrohir said, turning his face to the gentle whispers of the broad leaves, ‘as if there is not time here.  Night follows day and the seasons turn.’

‘Children grow,’ his brother added.

‘It is not the same, though.’

Elladan glanced at him sympathetically.  ‘You stayed too close,’ he said.  ‘It became personal.’

‘And it was not for you?’  Legolas shook his head.  ‘You cannot delude me, my friend.  You lived each day with them, whether you were there or not.’

‘But Cúraniel was there.’  Elrohir looked over his shoulder.  ‘In the White City, surrounded by men.’  He shook his head.  ‘One battles with more than blades – she showed the courage of an elven warrior.’  He smiled wryly.  ‘But hers was not a battle that sounds good in song.  I doubt many – other than our parents and our redoubtable daernaneth – gave her the credit she was due.’

‘Instead, she finds her cousin is not comfortable with the person she has become – and that she cannot go home, for it is home no longer.’  Legolas shrugged at Elrohir’s indignant frown.  ‘It is not just Sirithiel, my friend.  We live in a blinkered land – where people prefer to pretend that uncomfortable sacrifices just do not happen.’

‘But would you change,’ Elladan asked, ‘to be someone who fits in?’

‘Not for a moment,’ Legolas declared.  ‘I am the product of the experiences that have gone into making me – the bad along with the good, the painful with the pleasant.’

‘Just because she is an elleth does not mean that Cúraniel cannot feel the same way.’

‘True,’ Elrohir reflected. 

‘And just because she is an elleth does not mean that she is not one of us.’  Elladan spread his hands as his brother and friend stared at him.  ‘She knows what we know – has seen what we have seen.  That makes her our sister.  Perhaps we should tell her.’

‘It might be a good thing,’ Legolas allowed.  ‘We cannot expect her to know instinctively what is in our heads – just because she is an elleth.’

‘Oh, I doubt that,’ Elrohir grinned.  ‘Ellyth are very good at reading minds! Just as I daresay Sirithiel understands far more about us than we believe she does, whether she says so or not. There is more to her than we might think, my friends. Trust me.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 84:  In Loco Parentis


‘What do you think he is doing?’  Elladan leaned back, putting his feet up along the length of the branch and clasping his hands behind his head.

‘How should I know?’  Legolas rested against the smooth bark of the trunk.  ‘He appears to be measuring something.’

Elladan yawned. ‘I had no idea how wearing it would be to take a swarm of elflings off for a week in the woods. I always thought ours were bad because they were ours.’

‘Swarm,’ Legolas reflected.  ‘A good word choice.  They buzz everywhere – and yet there is a sting in the tail. I do not know why we ever agreed to take charge of them.’

‘Just because one knocked you from a tree.’

‘He did nothing of the sort,’ Legolas declared with dignity.  ‘I merely jumped to another branch so as not to unsteady the child.’

‘Knocked you from a tree,’ Elladan repeated.  ‘You were not expecting it – a warrior of centuries’ experience and not expecting it.’

‘You are becoming tedious.’

‘He has been tedious for a long time,’ Elrohir commented.  ‘Especially when it comes to reminding anyone of things best left buried.’

‘So tell us,’ Elladan ignored his brother’s words, ‘what were you doing?’

‘Planning how best to dig a pit to hide your body.’ Elrohir kept his face straight.

‘I doubt whether that would be a good place,’ Legolas remarked idly.  ‘You have been spotted for one thing – and it would be centuries before the soil settled back entirely as it was before.  Anyone with a good eye would see it had been disturbed.’

‘Oh well – in that case I might as well let him survive to irritate us further.’

‘Thank you, my twin.’

‘Who is supposed to be in charge of the brats at the moment?’ Legolas looked round as if expecting to see evidence of half a dozen busy elflings.

‘You.’  Elrohir settled down easily.  ‘Do you not recall?’

‘Perhaps I am trying to bury the memory.’

‘We would be better employed trying to bury Elladan.’ 

‘They are here to spend time in the woods.’  Elladan tilted his face to look at his friends.  ‘I say – let them do it.  Surely they cannot come to too much harm.’

‘But part of the idea is to prevent them damaging themselves when in the woods,’ Legolas objected.  ‘And, in my experience, that is what happens as soon as you leave them unsupervised.’

‘Did you enjoy having adults hanging over your shoulder all the time?’  Elrohir crossed one leg comfortably over the other.

‘No,’ Legolas conceded.  ‘Generally because I was up to something that I knew no sane adult would let me do.’  He grinned.  ‘Even if I claimed to think otherwise.’

‘Like?’ Elrohir asked.

‘Is this really the time to be telling stories?’

Two identical faces looked at him expectantly.  Legolas grinned reluctantly.  ‘You will ensure we retrieve this pack of elflings before they go over the edge of the cliff in search of eagles’ eyries, will you not?’

‘If the story is good enough,’ Elladan promised.  ‘Now, reveal all!’

‘Well – Mirkwood was not the safest environment when I was growing up.’

‘You astound me!’ Elrohir raised an eyebrow.  ‘Is that really so?’

‘Do you want to hear this?’  Legolas looked down his nose at his friend before resuming.  ‘Our parents had just begun to loosen the leading reins a bit to permit us to wander a little further from the Stronghold.  In daylight.  When there were adults around.  If the warriors were of the opinion that the wood was relatively free of threats.  My friends and I were sick of being treated – as we thought – like a group of helpless babies.  So – to prove we were quite capable of fending for ourselves, of course – we decided to light a fire and roast ourselves the chestnuts we had gathered.’ Legolas paused.  ‘Fortunately we were not as alone as we liked to believe – and the fire was extinguished before it could do any harm.’

‘Let us go and find our charges,’ Elrohir said after a moment’s thoughtful pause.  ‘I can remember one or two incidents with us and fire – and I really do not want to have to learn from experience that these elflings are just as headstrong as we were.’

‘I am surprised your adar allowed you to survive to grow up,’ Elladan commented.

‘Had I not been an only child,’ Legolas mused, ‘he might well have decided to cut his losses and abandon his constant struggle to bring me to years of discretion.’

‘Oh,’ Elrohir remarked. ‘You are not too bad.  And he can sit back now and enjoy watching you suffer the same trials.  In fact, I would not put it past him to coach your offspring in the skills required to make their adar’s life as difficult as possible.’

‘Well – in that case, there is one thing he should bear in mind,’ Legolas grinned. ‘It is my brotherly duty to see that my little sister keeps him on his toes.  And I shall.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 85:  Lost


Elrohir looked up.  ‘Is there any sign of them?’ he asked.

‘I hoped…’ Elladan said simultaneously.

Elrohir rubbed a muddy hand over his face in an attempt to revive himself. ‘Nothing,’ he said.  ‘We covered the route to the east from one end to the other.  Nothing.  Not even any deadfall or landslips that might have concealed their passage.’  He massaged his temples.  ‘I have no idea what might have become of them.’

‘They did not travel the northern path either.’  Elladan leaned against the door frame as if he was no longer able to support his weight.  ‘We have everyone who knows his way round a wood out there – and we have found nothing.’

‘This is stupid!’ Elrohir’s usually amiable temper flared up.  ‘It is totally irresponsible of them!  It makes no odds how they feel – they are far too old to put us through this!’

‘When we find them,’ his brother said dryly, ‘I will back you up in imposing every painful penalty you can come up with – but before we can make them hurt, we first have to lay hands on them.’

‘Adar is leading the search to the south.’  Elrohir ignored his brother.  ‘And Thranduil has his warriors scouring the forest to the west.  We can only hope they are having better luck than we did.’

‘How is Elerrina coping?’

‘How do you think?’  Elrohir pushed himself to his feet.  ‘She is frantic.  I am not certain if she thinks they may finally have cracked and done each other an injury – or whether she is merely afraid that, if they are missing much longer, one or the other will lose their last vestiges of self-control.  Linevendë is as pale as a frosty morning and looks as if she is about to shatter.  I had no idea,’ he added absently, ‘that she was so fond of the old curmudgeon.  Miriwen and Naneth are dosing the pair of them on soothing teas to the point where they must be awash – and Sirithiel is doing her best to keep the elflings both out of the way and ignorant of what is going on.’

‘Sweet Valar.’  Elladan closed his eyes.  ‘This is madness.’

‘Trying to keep the elflings out of it?’ Elrohir smiled wryly.  ‘I think so.  But needs must when wives insist.’

‘Where can they be?’

Elrohir opened his mouth to give a flippant answer, but Elladan’s glare stopped him and he sighed.  ‘I think we should ask the offspring if they have any ideas,’ he said.  ‘I am out of them, that is for sure.  And, if they are nowhere obvious, it may be because they are somewhere only an elfling would think of hiding.’

‘Caves?’ Elladan mused.  ‘Water?  I am not sure whether to hope they are both unconscious or dread it.’

‘I doubt they are among trees.’ Elrohir sounded exhausted.  ‘Laerwen is attempting to hear any disturbance to the forest – and, if Legolas were well, the forest would know where he was.’

‘It is to be hoped he is unwell,’ Elladan said savagely.  ‘It will save us a lot of effort.’

‘In many ways, it serves them both right.’  Elrohir drew his gloves from his belt and began to ease them over his fingers.  ‘How long have they known each other now?  How long have Legolas and Elerrina been wed?  Long enough for the two of them to learn each other’s good points, at least.  Leaving them to their own devices for a while, with none to intervene between them and coax them into good behaviour while soothing their egos – it might be just what they need.’

‘Provided they survive it.’  Elladan contemplated his brother.  ‘Where now?’

‘Caves.’  Elrohir said.  ‘We are going to ask about caves.  We are least likely to be able to seek them out easily if they are surrounded by stone.  You ask the elflings, while I go and find those who have been here longest.  And then we are going to go looking for them.’

‘What if we do not find them?’

Elrohir’s eyes narrowed.  ‘We will find them,’ he said with determination.  ‘It is not as if there is something else out there seeking them.  It is only a matter of time.’

‘It has already been the best part of a week.’  Elladan met his brother’s eyes and they both chose not to give voice to their fears.  He pushed himself away from the support of the wall.  ‘I will see if Elrin has any ideas.’

‘Do not forget the twins.’  Elrohir twitched the corner of his mouth into an attempt at a smile.  ‘Mine know more of what they are not supposed to than any reasonable person would expect – and this is home to Legolas’s pair.’

‘Do you remember,’ Elladan said, ‘how angry Glorfindel was when he caught up with us in the Trollshaws the year we decided single-handedly to take on the dragons in the far north?  He said that the last thing Naneth would have wanted was for us to sacrifice ourselves on a fool’s errand – that we should stick to trolls if we wanted a fight because at least they were only marginally brighter than us and could not fly.’

Elrohir grinned reluctantly.  ‘Glorfindel could be remarkably cutting when he was provoked,’ he admitted.  ‘He was right, though.  We spent years throwing ourselves into danger with total abandon – I suspect there was more than luck involved in our survival.’  He glanced at his brother.  ‘This is not the same, you know.’

His twin placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.  ‘They will be all right,’ he said.  ‘We will find them before it is too late.  I am sure of it.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 86:  Found

If only he felt better, Legolas thought, the white hot glares from his friends would scorch him.  But, as things were at the moment, they were warming and encouraging.  ‘What kept you so long?’ he asked airily, secure in the knowledge that the gentle hands would remain gentle – at least for now.

‘Surely you do not believe you are that high on our list of priorities?’ Elladan retaliated.  ‘We have better things to do with our time than waste it searching for a pair of elves who are more than old enough to look after themselves.’

Legolas winced.  ‘I suppose I should be grateful that you managed to fit me in,’ he remarked.  He glanced painfully towards his adar-in-law.  ‘How is he?’

‘Unconscious,’ Elrohir replied.  ‘Which might be as well, for lifting him out of here is bound to hurt him.’ 

‘I am surprised he gave in.’ Legolas accepted the flask Elladan offered him and took a small sip.  ‘He is the most obstinate elf I have ever encountered.’

‘And you should know,’ his friend accused him.  ‘You can be stubborn enough.’  He looked at the younger elf.  ‘You need to take more than that,’ he added practically.  ‘It would be better if you, too, had – er – a diminished awareness of what we are about to do to you.  You are pretty battered.’

Legolas shook his head.  ‘Feeling the wind on my face will be enough,’ he murmured.

‘What were you doing?’ Elrohir burst out.  ‘Even your offspring have never got themselves in quite such a mess!’

It was difficult to convey injured dignity when the injuries were rather more real, Legolas thought fleetingly.  Knowing that his friends – and his family – had been tearing their hair out for…  He frowned.  ‘How long have we been missing?’ he asked.  It felt as if it had been … years.  And yet, at the same time…  He swallowed and closed his eyes.

‘Anor has crossed the sky eight times,’ Elrohir said neutrally.

Legolas drew an incautious breath and hissed.  ‘Elerrina?’ he asked.

‘Delighted, of course.’  Elladan said, straight-faced.  ‘Enjoying the peace.’

‘She will be glad to see you again, even in this state,’ Elrohir said more kindly.  ‘I think she was beginning to fear that you and Taryatur had finished each other off.’

‘I fell,’ Legolas said.  He sounded as if he thought the incident remarkable.  ‘My horse shied away from some disturbance and I caught my head and …’ He screwed his eyes up.  ‘I did not think the fall would ever end.  Time slows down – and you can see all possible outcomes and all the things you wish you had done flash before you.’

‘Oh yes,’ Elladan said.  ‘I know the feeling.’

‘Only too well, I should think,’ his brother remarked.

‘He did not hesitate, you know.’  Legolas glanced towards Taryatur.  ‘I am sure he thought that there was nothing for him to do but retrieve my body, but he still…’  He paused.  ‘It is just as well.  I was floating face down in the water, apparently.’

‘If he rescued you, how is it that he is the one lying there unconscious?’  Elladan watched his brother checking the older elf.

‘He was frantic,’ Legolas shifted uncomfortably.  ‘Determined to get out of here – to get help – so he attempted the climb.  He said that he had climbed down successfully, so he could get back out.  But the rock wall is sheer and there is an overhang – and he had spent several days crouching in the dark with very little food.’  He shook his head.  ‘He got high enough for the drop to be dangerous.’  He paused in recollection.  ‘I did what I could, but…’   In the silence that followed, the slow drip of water from the rock ceiling was both loud and irritating, like fingers tapping on a table.  ‘How are you planning on getting us out of here?’ he asked.

‘Oh my,’ Elrohir said, ‘we never thought of that.  We will be stuck here for ever!’

‘Sarcasm becomes you not,’ Legolas informed him. 

‘Not only do we have rope,’ Elladan told him, ‘but we also have people – and horses – above ground capable of pulling us up.  I do wish people would stop thinking that we are completely stupid.’

‘I do not!’  Legolas protested.   A small grin brightened his dirty face.  ‘Not completely!’

‘Just wait until you are better,’ Elladan pronounced.  ‘We will put you in the dust again, my friend, and rub your nose in the dirt until you beg us for mercy.’

‘You are welcome to try,’ Legolas sniffed.

‘Taryatur is ready to be lifted,’ Elrohir said.  ‘I will climb beside him to make sure he has the smoothest journey we can manage.  Get Legolas ready, Elladan, will you?  We do not want to stay here any longer than we have to – it is not exactly comfortable.  I will send the ropes down as soon as we are safe.’

Elladan watched anxiously as his brother slipped the loop over his shoulders and began the process of guiding the framework safeguarding Taryatur smoothly up the rough wall.  ‘Be careful, my brother,’ he said.

‘I will be fine,’ his twin declared, grinning confidently.  ‘I cannot wait to see everyone’s face when we get them home.’

‘Nor I,’ Legolas said.  ‘But, glad as I will be to get home – Elladan, Elrohir – I have rarely been happier to see anyone than I was to see you two today.  Thank you.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 87: Broad Shoulders


Elrohir looked bewildered.

‘Everything used to be so simple,’ Elladan remarked as he watched his nieces walk away, noses in the air.  ‘You know – us, them.  They tried to kill us and we did our best to take them out first. How did it turn into a world where everything is our fault?’

A broad grin, half-sympathetic, half-knowing, spread across Legolas’s face.  ‘It is a female thing,’ he said.  ‘You should be used to it – your naneth and daernaneth could put you firmly in the wrong with no more than a glance.’

‘That was different.’ Elrohir shook his head.  ‘Then, we usually were in the wrong.  But now…’ he drew a deep breath, as if seeking strength, ‘they twist everything,’ he complained. ‘You think you are taking a stand on one thing – and it turns into something completely different.’  He glared accusingly at Legolas.  ‘How have you escaped it?’

‘Do not think for a moment that I have,’ his friend replied mildly.  ‘Eleniel is just a little more subtle about it than your daughters.’

‘And stop looking smug,’ Elrohir turned on his twin.  ‘You may have sons – but Miriwen manages you without your even noticing.’

Elladan laughed.  ‘I notice,’ he protested.  ‘I just do not mind.  Why should I?  She has my best interests at heart – and she does not push me into doing anything to which I am truly averse.’ 

His brother sighed.

‘You would not change your daughters for any number of sons.’  Elladan grinned.  ‘And already I have noticed a certain suspicion on your face when ellyn look towards your pair.’

‘Who should know better than I how little ellyn of that age are to be trusted?’  Elrohir shrugged moodily.  ‘And yet…’

‘Elerrina just smiles,’ Legolas admitted.  ‘And tells me that being a parent is like riding a raft through the rapids.  Ellyn think they are in control, she says, but really the river could decide to smash the raft and leave them to drown – it just chooses not to and lets them  get away with thinking they are directing their path.’

Elladan tilted his head reflectively.  ‘I do not appreciate the idea that I am being humoured,’ he said.  ‘I wish to be the master of my own fate.’

His brother snorted.  ‘As if we have ever achieved that!  I sometimes feel that I have spent my whole life having my strings pulled by some sweetly-smiling elleth.  I am certain that one of the reasons ellyn willingly took on armies of orcs was that they were predictable and – unless they came at you in large groups – easily defeated.’

‘Our daughters are using us for target practice,’ Legolas said easily.  ‘I have come to the conclusion that one of the main duties of an adar is to provide his female offspring with someone on whom they can refine their wiles – so that when they decide who to take as a suitor, they are able to manage him effortlessly.’

Elladan looked at him indignantly.  ‘I have never been manipulated by the ellyth in whom I showed interest,’ he declared.  ‘I chose those with whom I wished to flirt!’

A crack of laughter escaped his twin.  ‘I only have one word to say to that load of … twaddle,’ he pronounced.  ‘Uruiel!’

A faint wash of colour flushed his brother’s cheekbones.  ‘Yes … well …’ he muttered.  ‘We were very young at the time.’

‘A certain young ellon,’ Elrohir explained remorselessly to a grinning Legolas, ‘decided to pursue this elleth – she was rather older than him and considerably more experienced.  He thought she would appreciate his attentions and perhaps reward him with a kiss or two…’  He ignored his twin’s moan of protest and continued.  ‘She decided that my brother would make a very suitable partner – despite the fact that his body was barely of age and his brain had yet to catch up with it – and chased him relentlessly.’  He grinned.  ‘We had often pretended to be each other just for the fun of it – but my dear twin took to claiming to be me and sending her off in my direction whenever he got the chance.’

Elladan smiled reluctantly.  ‘That and spending much of my time in the sties – Uruiel seemed to object to the smell of pigs.’

‘In the end, Naneth took pity on him and sent us both to Daernaneth for a season or two – and, when we came back, Uruiel had gone to dwell in Mithlond, where she found an ellon more willing to become her husband.’ 

‘So is the moral of the story: leave such matters to those with greater wisdom?’ Elladan asked.  ‘Or it makes no matter what we do, our place is always in the wrong?  Or, perhaps, that some things just have to be learned through experience?’

‘Or,’ his brother suggested, ‘that orcs are easy in comparison to ellyth.’

‘I would not worry about Aewlin and Nimloth,’ Legolas said.  ‘If they take their complaint to Sirithiel, she will give them short shrift.  They are just testing their limits – and they are quicker learners than their uncle.’

‘I fail to see,’ Elladan remarked, ‘how it is that I came out of this conversation as the butt of your mockery!  I simply remarked how our offspring managed to twist what we say to blame us for matters of which we have no knowledge – and suddenly it is all my fault!  Your daughters have clearly inherited their sophistry from their adars!’

Elrohir grinned.  ‘You cannot blame me, my twin.  You offered your services!’

‘Ah, well,’ Legolas remarked philosophically, ‘we have broad shoulders, my friends, and strong backs.  And it is just as well.’

The Paradise of Elves – Part 88:  Peace

‘It is different here,’ Elrohir pointed out.  ‘Did we really have a choice in what we became?  We were born at a moment of hope, true, but even then those wise elves who had seen Anor rise knew better than to believe that peace was more than a fleeting thing.’

Legolas drew up his long legs and rested his forearms on his knees.  ‘That is right – as far as it goes,’ he said mildly.  ‘We had our obligations, it is true – I could no more have become a potter or a scholar or a blacksmith than you could.  My path from the moment I was born led me to take up weapons – Galenthil knows he need never defend the forests here from evil.  Not by shedding blood – either his own or that of any enemy.  But he is still my son, and Adar’s grandson.  The direct male heir of the line of Oropher.   It puts a burden on him that he cannot escape, any more than Elrin and Ellanthir, as Elladan’s sons, can evade the duty of supporting their house.’

‘My daughters would protest that they share the same heritage,’ Elrohir pointed out. ‘And demand why you were excluding them – in some narrow-minded patrilineal way.’

His friend grinned.  ‘Eleniel would simply look – she can be frighteningly like Adar at times.’

‘No descendant of Galadriel …’

‘Or Lúthien – or Melian – or Elwing …’ Elrohir interrupted. ‘Idril – Celebrían ...’

His brother ignored him, ‘would be so foolhardy as to disregard the female line.  But you know what I mean.’

‘In some ways,’ Legolas said thoughtfully, ‘it makes their paths much more complicated.  Galenthil, I think, would never choose to be a warrior.  He trains because he knows it is expected of him – enjoys it most of the time – and, under different circumstances, he would have done what everyone perceived to be his duty, but here?  Now?  Is it not the rather unnecessary residue of a world that is gone?  Would it not be better for the … the arts of war to disappear into the shadows where they belong?’

‘Do you think that is possible?’ Elrohir asked, rather doubtfully.  ‘Are we not considering something that – once released – cannot be closed away?  Half the history of the elves is the story of warfare – to deny the skills would surely make them more attractive to those who cannot realise the reality.  Does not training the young – teaching them to deal with weapons with respect, in full awareness of their demands – lessen their appeal?  There is nothing like coming back from the training fields dripping with sweat, with arms that ache from overwork, bruised and trembling from the strain put on muscles, to make a young firebrand realise that there is more to fighting than easy glory.’

Elladan leaned back.  ‘There is more behind teaching the young to handle weapons than the need to use them to fight,’ he said.  ‘What of hunting?  What of defending yourself from attacking animals?  And it is not so long since events proved that not all elves are beyond using force against each other.  Being able to defend yourself is surely only sensible.’

‘But when does defence become aggression?  When does the fear of war become the springboard for war?’ 

Elrohir opened his mouth and then closed it again, frowning.  ‘You are not speaking figuratively, are you?’

‘Peace – harmony – a safe life in a guarded land … Those of us who know what it is to live through conflict treasure it.  We prize it so highly that those who come after us have no idea of how easily it can be shattered.’

‘It must not be forgotten,’ Elladan said.  ‘We are elvenkind – our memories do not fade.  Those who were there have a duty to pass on the understanding of the cost of conflict.  The risks of pointless divisions – the dangers of parochialism and blinkered selfishness.  The perils inherent in thoughtless rhetoric.  We have a duty to teach the young the value of what they take for granted.’

‘Yet …’ Legolas sighed.  ‘When did the young ever believe that their elders had something to say that was worth the listening?  Has not experience always proved the best teacher?’

‘But war,’ Elrohir said dryly, ‘is not an experience we would wish on anyone.’

‘Then we must ensure that the education we provide is sufficiently … impressive,’ his brother observed, ‘that it obviates the desire for practical knowledge.’

‘Probably easier said than done.’

‘But worth it.’ Legolas’s words were heartfelt.  ‘Definitely worth it.’

Elrohir tossed a small stick into the busy stream.  ‘I never thought I would care enough about the Blessed Realm to have any urge to preserve its tranquillity,’ he said.  ‘It does not seem long ago that we felt like cuckoos set down in an alien nest.’

‘Not long in years, perhaps,’ his brother agreed.  ‘But an age in everything else.’

‘Only the fact that I had survived my own transition,’ Legolas told them, ‘gave me confidence that you would – if you gave yourselves the chance – find happiness here.  You were …’ he drew a breath as he recalled the shadows of the Elrondionnath who had landed in the Blessed Realm, ‘in a bad way.’

The twins exchanged a glance, half-amused, half-challenging, the bond between them clearly declared.  ‘We never surrender,’ Elladan said.  ‘We will fight every battle to the end.’

‘Even if the battle involves learning to live in peace,’ his twin added, concluding softly, ‘and ensuring that everyone in these lands has the chance to do the same.’

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