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The Scruff Factor  by JastaElf

(Some days later, on the eve of the Many Meetings and the Council of Elrond...)


Imladris was beginning to fill up like the Havens after Dagorlad, and it was becoming a matter of great effort to find any place in which there was peace and quiet. Still, once in a while Aragorn and Arwen actually did manage to sneak away to their favorite bridge near the waterfall. To be truthful though, it was necessary to find the means of keeping the Twins occupied if there was to be any peace there, either. Elladan and Elrohir had long since figured out that Baby Sister and her Ranger liked to snuggle there, and they saw it as their noblest duty to do what brothers have done since the dawn of time: disrupt the occasion whenever they thought they might get away with it.

But Aragorn was more than a fair shot with bow and arrow, and Arwen had learned to throw knives half an Age ago out of self defense. Lord Elrond, wisely determining that he would need both his sons in one piece if Imladris was to be properly guarded in the near future (without running poor Glorfindel and Erestor ragged should said twins become incapacitated), saw to it his sons were kept busy greeting the new arrivals: Dwarves, Men, and Elves alike. So it was, that Ranger and Lady finally managed some quality hugs and kisses, there in the misty romantic venue of their beloved bridge.

So it was, also, that the lovers managed to miss the arrival of the fair Prince of Mirkwood, Legolas, Greenleaf, the youngest son of King Thranduil. He arrived in the company of two of his father’s Sindarin subjects, nearly as blond as Legolas himself but not nearly so devastatingly easy on the eyes. If Arwen was the fairest female of her generation, Legolas was the fairest of the males--but by the time he had finished being over-enthusiastically greeted by Men of Gondor, various Hobbits, many of the currently unattached Elven population of Imladris and far too many of the attached Elven populace as well, the youngest Mirkwood royal was in no mood at all to be hugged, sung to, pounced on, or told in lyrical terms about the beauty of any part of him.


The fair young archer looked up, blood and murder in his lovely blue eyes, and narrowed said eyes at the daunting sight of Elrond’s twin sons coming down the stairs toward him in the small courtyard of the Lord’s private residence. They were smiling (seldom a good thing) and the glint of devilry was in their grey eyes (never a good thing!), and Legolas was unamused to see they were even walking in step with one another.

I do believe they do that just to peeve me, thought the son of Thranduil. Legolas gave a quiet sigh, relieved at least that the crowd around him drifted back politely at the arrival of the Twins, leaving them to greet the newcomer in relative quiet.

"Elladan. Elrohir. How nice to see you again."

The Twins grinned at the weary flatness of his tone.

"Legolas, dear Legolas," Elladan said, taking the Prince by his right arm. "Mae-what-you-call-your-Govannen, dear and glorious neth ernil of Mirkwood! Too long has it been since you graced Imladris with your fair beauty!"

"I shall hurt you for that," Legolas said pleasantly, one dark eyebrow curving upward happily at the thought. Elladan laughed, while Elrohir moved in on Legolas from the left.

"Does he not say just the dearest things?" the younger twin exclaimed, just a little too brightly. "I am so glad your father sent you as his representative to this Council. We were so afraid he would come himself, and we would not have half the fun we always have with you!"

Legolas shuddered delicately at the thought of his regal, old-fashioned, and short-tempered sire being tag-teamed into compromising positions by two handsome, lookalike, over-stimulated Noldor lordlings, and rolled his eyes.

"Will you two please let me be?" he pleaded, trying to break their hold as they led him up the stairs into the House. "I’ve been on the road for days with companions that were not in a chatting mood, there were Wargs and spiders everywhere, and I cannot be entirely certain the bite that nasty little Smeagol gave me hasn’t become vilely infected. I stink unto the very heavens, an offense to the noses of Firstborn and Valar alike, and I want a bath before I even think about going to pay my respects to your father, since the way I am right now, it would be disrespectful in the extreme to go anywhere near him!"

This heartfelt expostulation contained more words and emotion than the generally reserved Legolas usually uttered inside of a week, which fact alone had the Twins looking behind him at one another in bemused confusion. Apparently days on the road under duress had left Legolas in need of companionship as well; he seemed to have stored up a great deal of chat, though the sons of Elrond could see he had not come alone. Still, looking at the close-mouthed Sindar nobles who had ridden along with their prince, perhaps it made sense after all. Under his outward reserve, Legolas was actually a rather merry companion--old enough to have gained experience in combat and a fine-tuned sense of diplomatic finesse, while remaining young enough to have a wicked sense of humour, an easily-tickled sense of the ridiculous, and a lovely singing voice in a rich, clear tenor. Being stuck for days in the darkness that was Mirkwood with two uppity-looking Elves who looked as if they’d been sucking lemons for luncheon, well, that would be enough to drag down anyone’s merriment.

Fortunately the Twins knew precisely how to fix this.

"Estel’s home," Elladan said insinuatingly, trying not to grin as the three of them took the salute of a guard at the main entryway and kept going. Legolas had yet to notice he had naturally fallen into step with the brothers. "He showed up with four periannath, one of them old Bilbo’s nephew. The little folk were hungry--"

"They’re periannath," Legolas commented, as if such were to be expected.

"Just so," Elrohir put in. "And therefore hungry. Except for the one bearing Isildur’s Ring--he had a Morgul fragment in him and I’m sure he wasn’t pondering the menu in the slightest."

"Isildur’s Ring?" Legolas repeated, halting rather precipitously in the dimness of the corridor, and nearly toppling all three of them to the floor. His voice had risen about half an octave; he cleared his throat, wincing at the undignified squeak. "Not--the Ring. The One Ring? A perian has it?"

"The very same," Elladan continued, and hauled Legolas along in the direction of his customary guest chambers. "Bilbo’s nephew has it. Frodo, son of Drogo."

"Sounds Dwarvish," Legolas sniffed, curling his lip.

"Well, speaking of Dwarves, Bilbo apparently had the Ring with him when he and those Dwarves visited your father’s dungeons..."

"Cellars," Legolas said with perilous emphasis, as if this were something of a sore point with him. The Twins affected bland looks of interest, though their eyes glittered.

"Come again?" Elrohir asked, innocent as the day is long in summer. Legolas did not buy it for even half a second, and narrowed those lovely blue eyes of his.

"We haven’t any dungeons. They are cellars."

"Whatever. Cellars with bloody big thick doors on them, and padlocks as big as Orc fists."

"Says who?"

"Bilbo. And we all know he would never exaggerate." Elladan brought them up short in front of the light, airy guest chamber in which Legolas usually stayed when visiting Imladris, despite the fact that he seldom actually slept here. "Anyway, it is neither here nor there. The Dwarves call them dungeons as well, and one of the delegation from the Lonely Mountain is--"

He paused for dramatic effect; Legolas gave him his "Thranduil Look," which on he for whom it was named generally forecast hell and damnation, while on Legolas it just made one think of kittens with their backs up in the face of very large and unruly badgers. Elladan snickered.

"Glóin. One of the Mirkwood Dungeon Dwarves."

"Cellar Dwarves, brother," Elrohir said, with wicked innocence. Elladan snapped his fingers as if he had forgotten--which of course he had not--and leaned forward very close to Legolas' face, to grin at the scowl on that fair visage.

"Cellar Dwarves, right. And Glóin has brought a son of his, as well. Perhaps they were hoping Thranduil would come himself, and felt they would need--erm--a fall-back plan."

The princely kitten rolled his eyes and sagged against the doorpost. Several words not generally found in the vocabulary of well-bred young Princes (and Legolas was more well-bred than most) came sighing out of his mouth, in Avari no less, which impressed the daylights out of the overly-learned Twins, and he looked as if he might cheerfully like to prang his forehead on the wall beside him. Several times.

"I was hoping I could just tell Elrond what has happened, take a nap, and bugger off home again," he sighed at last. "When did matters become this complicated? Why is Estel home? And why are there Dwarves at Council?"

"Oh, it’s not just Dwarves. Mithrandir’s here, and a lot of rather impressive looking Men from one place or another, including Denethor’s eldest from Gondor," Elrohir said, kicking open the door and hauling the exhausted Prince into the chamber.

Elladan went and got Legolas a nice glass of wine and pushed him into a comfortable armchair, while Elrohir continued on into the bathing chamber and began utilizing one of those fantastic perquisites of residing in Imladris: the engineering that made running and heated water possible almost on demand. Though, the younger twin pondered, it was probably just as well Legolas was obsessively neat, and annoyingly good at staying that way for the most part, and hence did his bathing at odd hours. With Imladris so full of an unaccustomed number of guests, hot water--indeed, water at all--might well be at a premium come nightfall.

For his part Legolas sat back to relax, and tried to remember if he had ever met Denethor’s son. He had met the Steward of Gondor himself, once many years ago before he even was Steward, but sons, no. It cannot be a good thing, that the Heir of the Steward of Gondor is here at the same time as Estel… The Prince rested his head back against the softness of the chair and sighed.

"And Estel is home...why?" he asked, not really wanting to run into his dear friend after the recent debacle in Mirkwood. Telling Elrond what had happened was going to be bad enough. Telling him in front of, as Thranduil might say, "bloody sodding Dwarves," was even worse. But Mithrandir? AND Estel? Grand, just grand....

"Mithrandir asked him to go fetch the Ringbearer in Bree," Elladan said, pouring a glass of wine for himself and perching on the balcony railing just behind Legolas. The Prince’s pale brow furrowed briefly in confusion.

"Before or after the bit about Úlairi?" Legolas asked, unable to suppress a shudder. Elladan leaned forward to look at him closely, then shrugged and continued, trying to sound blasé.

"Before. And where did you get Úlairi? No one mentioned the Nine."

"Elrohir said Morgul fragment." Legolas glanced around the carved back of the chair, a puckish look on his face. He was beginning to relax, Úlairi all aside, and was getting therefore somewhat ironic. "Now, unless the Rangers of the North have begun carrying odd weaponry moreso than usual, Morgul generally suggests--"

"I like you better when you’re quiet," Elladan said with a smirk. Legolas saluted him with his cup, and drained it.

"Legolas? Bubbles or oil?" Elrohir asked, his disembodied voice floating in from the other room. Legolas grinned, looking rather intrigued.

"Oh, umm--oil, probably. Bubbles aren’t any fun alone."

"We could fix that...."

"Not before supper, you couldn’t." Legolas chuckled softly, and went to refill his glass. "Are Estel and Arwen spending quality time together?"

"Can you not guess?" Elladan grumped good-naturedly. "Father set us to greeting people as Sons of the House or some such diplomatic twaddle, and Estel got that silly romantic look he gets sometimes. Next thing we know, Arwen’s off to change her dress for the tenth time in an hour, and they both disappear toward ‘that Bridge’ with stars in their eyes."

"And how does Estel look? Well? He seemed tired, when I saw him last some weeks ago."


Legolas cocked one eyebrow. "Come again?"

"He looked scruffy, and smelled worse." Elladan gave a self-righteous sniff. "I mean really, has the Man no room in his pack for shaving soap? He keeps his daggers sharp enough to not need a razor, and sponges are malleable, so it isn’t as if they take up a lot of space. And a comb. Anyone has room for a comb!"

Legolas snickered shamelessly. Every time he had had any occasion to travel with Estel out in the wild, he had evinced similar complaints. They could undergo precisely the same conditions, and yet arrive at their destination as diametric opposites: Legolas with every hair neatly in place, smelling as fresh as daisies, immaculately clean down to his toenails; Aragorn with a face full of stubble beneath a ragged mop of wild hair, with more pong to his person than a wet wolfhound in high summer humidity. It was their favorite thing about which to tease one another, Aragorn convinced Elves stayed tidy by unfair use of magic, and Legolas absolutely certain Men attracted sweat and dirt through some mystical genetic fault.

"He’s just--being manly," the Prince said, trying valiantly to maintain a straight face.

"He’s not manly, he’s messy," Elrohir grumbled, coming back from the bathing room. "Not that he can help it, mind you; it is a Numenorean royal trait."

Elladan joined Legolas in the sputter of laughter that escaped them both.

"Trait?" Legolas repeated. "How so? I mean, Arathorn did not need to shave; he wore a beard! And a most becoming one, I might add."

"True enough," Elrohir agreed equably. "But he did tend to become a tad--scruffy--if left to his own devices, and they all have--how to put this delicately--a rather high--umm--bouquet about themselves. All the ones I can remember, I remember best olfactorily."

"In other words, they stank," Elladan put in bluntly. "Where you, Legolas, always seem redolent of a bright spring day in the forest, with notes of citrus and honeysuckle, and Elrohir manages, for the most part, a charming air of spice and sandalwood, Estel and his forebears always smell like a wet bearskin rug that was tossed into the clothespress. Or at least, they do so far as they have made themselves known in Imladris over the centuries."

The look of amused disgust that crossed Legolas’ patrician features sent Elrohir into a torrent of laughter, such that he had to lean up against the wall and hold his sides.

" ‘Notes of citrus and honeysuckle’?" the Prince repeated on a disbelieving note, eyebrows climbing. "You sound like my father describing wine. And as for Estel’s--ahh--pong, it is not that bad. Come now, be fair, it is a manly, honest sort of smell, and has its own interesting notes, as you say. I do not see Arwen running away every time he gets near her!"

"Arwen has odd notions," her eldest brother sniffed with disdain.

Elrohir managed to right himself, still snickering; he sketched a deep bow, one arm almost sweeping the floor. "Speaking of the need to wash away the grime of the trail, fair Prince of Mirkwood, your bath is prepared. Elladan--is there any more of that?"

His brother handed him a goblet. With typical Elven lack of prudishness, they followed Legolas into the bathing chamber, amused at the alacrity with which the youngster shed his clothing and dove into the deep, oversized tub, which was more accurately a pool. Kept warm by means of a thermal spring that ran under the House, it was a wonderfully relaxing place for a good long soak, of which fact Legolas intended to take full advantage. When he surfaced, dripping water and grinning like anything, Elladan handed him his cup once more, and the Twins made themselves comfortable on a handy bench along the wall.

"Is Estel going to--you know, dress up--for the Council?" Legolas asked, taking a sip before reaching for the pot of soap and a washcloth. "Or will we be treated to another round of ‘Rugged, Mysterious Dunedán’ so he can be all rebellious and manly in black?"

The Twins had not considered this, and flared their nostrils at one another.

"Euww, I hope not," Elrohir growled.

"Ai, Valar!" Elladan swore, and drained his goblet. "No, no, that will never do. I mean, he dressed up for Arwen today, but that’s--well, romantic stuff. Romantic is not the right note for the Council session."

Legolas laughed brightly, so amused at the thought that he slid right down the side of the bathing pool and submerged underwater, bubbles of mirth floating back up to the surface as he rinsed the soap out of his hair.

"No, I do not think romantic is the right note, either," he said, when he had managed to pull back upright. "We need something more--I do not know, something--regal. Yes, that’s it--regal!"

Elladan snorted. "Estel does not do regal," he retorted. "You’re daydreaming, Legolas."

The Prince chuckled. Finishing his ablutions, Legolas leaned back and closed his eyes, luxuriating in the feel of the hot water around sore muscles. "He could be made to ‘do’ regal," he murmured speculatively. At meeting utter silence from the Twins, he opened one eye and glanced sidewise. "With the right persuasion, of course."

Elrohir shook his dark head in decisive negation. "He would never allow it."

"Persuasion of that level of force is not legal in Imladris," Elladan added.

Legolas just looked pensive. Then he dipped his chin and gazed at them, half-lidded, from beneath drawn-down brows. The Twins looked at him, then at each other. They knew of old what it meant, when the Jewel of Mirkwood got ‘that look’ on him. Orcs and Uruk-hai had died painfully in the face of that look. Diplomats who had convinced themselves they were dealing with an amateur, learned otherwise. Archers who thought themselves the fastest draw in Ennor had lost large sums and priceless possessions when the blue-eyed son of Thranduil affected utter, evil innocence and asked if they would like to ‘place a little wager’....

"Legolas," Elladan said, in tones of great sweetness, "just exactly what are you thinking?"

"I am thinking," the Prince replied gently, "that there is persuasion--and then there is Persuasion." His smile deepened, showing straight white teeth. "I am thinking that there is no reason why the Heir of Isildur need know anything of what we have planned, before he absolutely has to know." He contrived somehow to look utterly guileless as he rose up from the pool and wrapped a soft towel about himself, coming to stand dripping before the Twins. "I have a Plan," he announced, in such a way that the sons of Elrond could actually hear the capital letter.

"And--that plan would be--?" Elladan asked. Legolas smiled. It was amazing how much pure devilry could be ladled over a smile on such a sweet face.

"Come with me--I shall tell you while I dress for supper."

TBC… heaven help us… (snicker)


Úlairi: Elvish word for the Nazgûl, "Nazgûl" being a word in the Black Speech and therefore not generally used by polite Elves. (Elladan, Elrohir, and Aragorn were not being polite in Chapter One…)


Author Notes:

Wow, thanks for all the lovely reviews! I'm glad you're amused by the lighter side of me…. (grin) Let's see:

Cheysuli: thanks for your kind words!

PuterPatty: My plotbunnies thank you for the gourmet greens. (grin) I hope you are happier now that Legolas has made his appearance…. Things just seem to happen when that Elf is around! Oh, and the Twins don't mean to be mean, they're just drawn that way. (or something like that.)

Forestsilver: Glad you're enjoying it. Forced to bathe?? Aragorn?? Nah. Well… maybe…. (grin)

Arabiasil: Thanks for your kind words, also. May you continue to enjoy!


Jocelyn: Glad to have you among the readers! I love your stuff… So-- Ithilien, Thundera, Littlefish, and Cassia's stories are tormenting you?? I have a solution. (evil grin) Go read "Dark Leaf." No really, it's a light, fluffy tale of angst, suspense, torment, and stuff… (grin) As for this work, the Hobbits, all of them, will appear in the next chapter. After all, it will be dinner time….

Nancing Elf: (dancing about pointing) Made ya snort, made ya snort… (hee hee hee…) that's payback for all the times you've made ME snort. (grin) More Dark Leaf soon. No really!

Shauna: Lindir has a very diplomatic sense of propriety. (snicker) And he held his breath. He's fine now, complete recovery.

Alliwantisanelfforchristmas: So Leggy has discovered e-Bay? Be afraid… does this mean I oughtn't to send you the URLs I have for wood bows and handmade arrows?? (grin) Glad the two of you are enjoying this, and yes, Legolas, *everybody* loves you. Lord knows I do…

Annakas: I would personally *love* to be teased by Elves…

Klose: I hope you're feeling better! Always glad to do my part. (grin)

AfterEver: Thanks for the referral! Glad you like the story, and yes, I do try to hand out good grammar and spelling with the fun. AND the angst.

Celandine Brandybuck: Hmm, forcibly shaven… now there's a thought…. Ah, but those who put a razor to the throat of a Ranger must needs take what they get… (grin)

Legolas' sweetie: here here here here here here here here here here you go! (grin)

Wild Iris: Delayed gratification being such a feature of the rest of his life, I guess Aragorn just doesn't want to wait when it comes to dinner. Must be something about hanging with Hobbits… I hadn't thought of Dark Leaf per se in connection to Legolas' dislike of caves and enclosed spaces, but several folks brought it up, and it kinda makes sense. They did let him out once in a while, but not nearly often enough…


Eledhwen: Behold the next chapter. Maybe Ch. 3 will be out before Hallowe'en! There's a thought….

Irena: Thank you, my dear! Umm, by now the new Dark Leaf chapter should be out… I'll shoot my feet if it isn't. Argh!

TreeHugger: You write just the greatest reviews, I swear… (grin) And yes, I cannot write something with NO angst at all… imagine having a wonderful meal cooked and served by Elves, in a wonderful Elven hall in Imladris--and you have to sit next to an unwashed Estel. Euwww… And I think you're right about the dirty ears, though his brothers did eventually get through to him. (grin)

Witzend: Yes, it does look as if Legolas has recovered. I would hope so; at this point in his existence, Dol Guldur is about 400 years in his past, and he's had a lot of adventures, and a lot of love, to help him deal. My sympathies on your proximity to unhygienic persons; I have to deal with it from time to time myself. (shudder)

Madeleine541: Glad you liked the butter knife gambit. (grin) Elrohir is such a card….

fliewatuet: I'm glad this Aragorn Bath tale caught your attention! Thanks for not back-buttoning. (grin) The idea of Cirdan having access to neat foodstuffs, etc. comes from his locale and occupation; seafaring peoples always have the cool stuff, and generally share with friends. I've seen it in several good stories, too. We all seem to be collecting a general shared mindset about Tolkien fics…

LOTR lover: I hope things are developing as you like!

DagmarJung: I see you have the Heir of Isildur living in your computer room! Legolas steals the keyboard from me a lot, but not nearly as often as Thranduil does. (whacks the king's knuckles as he reaches for my M&Ms…) Please tell Aragorn that I think he will be pleased with what happens later on… (grin of foreshadowing, no saving throw…)

Hagar the Horrible: I think you are Hagar the Nice for your kind words! Dark Leaf has a new chapter, and there will be another soon. I hope.

Wistful: The Twins know that Legolas endured 18 years of torment at the hands of the denizens of Dol Guldur, and based on what they know for certain happened to their mother, they have a pretty good idea of some of those "gory details." This is their way of coping, not only with what happened to Celebrian, but also with what happened to Legolas--and to Elrond through Legolas. They really don't mean to be mean. (grin)

Evil Old Woman: Aww now, you KNOW I'm a sucker for silver tabby kitties…. No fair! (grin)

Arabella Thorne: Never a dull moment in Elrond's dining hall. (grin) glad you're enjoying it!!

JMac: Glad you're enjoying! I hope they pretty much remain in character; but with this crowd you just never know... (grin)

Soledad: Always glad to see you--and yes, Lindir is here just for you!! I am very fond of the Minstrel, as you know... Yes, several folks have been affected by the concept of Leggy and Gollum up a tree. (snrt!) I'm sure Legs would like to forget the whole thing...

Jenolas: Yes, the Elves do have a wicked sense of humour--and centuries in which to develop same, Valar help us... I like scruff on Aragorn too. Boromir even looks good after a day or two. It's the Manly thing to do! (grin)

Anna (and Vidla, of course!) I swear there will be more Dark Leaf Real Soon Now (c. Jasta). I hope you'll both enjoy this new chapter here, and look for Dark Leaf soon. SOON!!

Shiral: Welcome to the madness that is Folks, Shiral is a dear friend of mine, and a very fine writer; I hope she will be soon posting stuff here as well! Sorry I've been so distant; hopefully that will change soon. Glad you're enjoying the tale--and yes, it has been WAY too long since there was a Deryni update. (throwing self on sword) PLEASE forgive me...

Silver-Kalan: we're glad you're here! The Twins ain't done with Little Human Brother yet... (snicker)

Tremano: put DOWN the cattle prod and step AWAY from the Jasta.... (grin) The Kitten-King says Meow back to Pippin, and begs that you not harm his source of King-Chow....

Jay of Lasgalen: (grin) I'll send you cleaners' money soon, just after I get a job. Yes, the mood here is VERY different... and such change will be needed when you see the next Dark Leaf chapter. SOON. As for Gollum, I'm hearing strains from that old hippie song: "flowers in her hair, flowers everywhere...." Except, Gollum would probably EAT them...

Daphne: Hope the next chapter met your expectations! (grin)

estelcontar: I'm sorry I don't update more often; hopefully that will change. As you can see, it is a constant refrain in my reviews. (prostrating self) Forgive me... I'm not worthy...

Bryn: KUMBAYA??? (falling on floor laughing hilariously) Oh dear.... I wonder, if you toast marshmallows and put them between pieces of lembas, are those Middle-Earth versions of S'mores??? (trying unsuccessfully to banish the image of Legolas and Gollum linking arms and swaying by the campfire...) I'm glad this story tickles you. Will we see more of the Daisy Ent soon?? (grin)

Coming up next: Part the Third, in which Legolas puts his plans into motion, and Arwen has Ideas of Her Own™… which is to say nothing of any notions Aragorn himself may possess….

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