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Reflections from the Paradise of Elves  by Bodkin

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.’ 

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