"Imagine a 'Legolas by Laura' rewrite where instead of all the weird crap it's literally just Legolas trying to look after a baby by himself." From that Tumblr comment came this story. Enjoy!

Fantasy / Humor
Age Rating:

A Gift Amidst Grief

Legolas was riding along the north side of the Forest River toward his father’s halls, exhausted from destroying a rather large spider den. He had separated from his patrol to gather his thoughts and make a proper report to the king; Thranduil never took the loss of an elf easily, especially when it was kin. Miraear was a fierce warrior and she was well respected among the elves. It grieved him to watch her release her fëa instead of fighting for survival, and he had taken great pleasure in killing the spider that took his cousin’s life.

The emptiness in his chest grew.

He could hear the sound of occasional battle on the opposite shore as his archers protected those carrying the bodies of Miraear and Fion. Authiel, Captain of the Guard, had sent him across the river to grieve in peace, and while he had been angry with her at first, he knew she had done the right thing. He trusted his captain, knowing she would be sure his elves would allow him as much peace as possible before delivering the bodies home for burial.

The sound of the running river and the chance to catch some occasional sunlight helped ease the heart of the prince as Tinnuroch ambled along the bank. They approached a large open section of the river and Legolas sighed as the sun washed away the darkness that tried to suffocate him. He looked up and saw the Valar Stone standing at the edge of the water and offered thanks for the sun and the feeling of peace that lived there. He smiled and shook his head as he realized Tinnuroch had brought them this way of her own accord, and patted her neck with love.

“You are a good horse. It is good to have a place of peace in Mirkwood,” Legolas said in Sindarin as they paused at the stone.

He was so lost in thought that he didn’t hear the distant cry. Tinnuroch however did not miss it and she twitched her ears, gave a sharp nod and snorted.

“Tinnuroch, man te?” (What is it?)

The horse began to canter, heading north into the forest and away from the river. This time he heard the cry and urged his mount to move faster. They were about a quarter mile from the river when they located the source of the noise. Legolas had knife in hand as they approached a small copse of trees.

The sun broke through the canopy and shone down on a laurel tree and the noisome bundle at its base. Tiny arms waved above the cloth ending in little pink hands clenched into fists, the voice from within shrieking its displeasure. The elf dismounted and cautiously approached the small bundle of rags as Tinnuroch snorted.

“Henion mellon nin, tanya raumo kuile i’ ba!” (I understand, my friend, that noise could wake the dead!) He turned to the baby and squatted beside it. “Ya hyarya lle sinome, pinig? O van oduleg?”(Who left you here, little one? Where did you come from?)

He unwrapped the child from the cloth and blinked in surprise. “Adan! You are a human child,” he said in Westron. “Where is your family?” He gently picked up the baby, wrinkling his nose at the smell. “Oh you are a dirty orc!”

He thought back to when he was an elfling and had gone to visit his aunt and uncle with Naneth to see his newborn cousin.

“Isn’t she beautiful, Legolas? Here, hold her.”

He took the squirming bundle in his arms and arched an eyebrow at her as Miraear did some rather loud and messy business, then smiled in relief.

“She smells like an orc,” he said in disgust as the adults laughed. “Here, take her back.”

His uncle chuckled and put his arm around his nephew. “She chose you, little green leaf. Come, I will assist you in cleaning your ‘dirty little orc.’”

It hurt his heart to know she was now gone to the Halls of Mandos, but Manwë had sent him a distraction from his grief in this smelly little bundle. The infant was happy to be free of the wrap and to be held, and stopped crying. It stared at the elf in wonder as he spoke, and a bright smile crossed its face. The elf responded with a more contained smile.

“You smell worse than the humans in Esgaroth,” Legolas continued in Westron. “Look at your clothes,” he brought the child closer to him and gave a careful sniff, “Ai little one, you do have the scent of orc upon you. Why would a foul beast bring a human child into Mirkwood?”

The baby began to squirm and fuss in the elf’s grip. He sighed, picked up what had passed as swaddling and patted the horse. “Lead us back to the river, Tinnuroch. This little orc needs a bath.”

Of course the elven prince had never actually bathed an infant before and was quite shocked to discover just how slippery a wet baby could be. There were many colorful elvish words spoken as he tried to properly wash her, and Legolas eventually gave up hope of staying dry himself. It took close to an hour to complete the task of cleaning the child and all her garments, partially because the slippery baby was very nearly drowned by her savior. Twice.

Legolas pulled out the extra tunic from his saddlebag and wrapped it around his little charge as she wailed and struggled against him. She eventually fell into an exhausted sleep and he lay her on the grassy bank as he finished washing her clothes.

When the diaper was dry enough to use again, the elf struggled with folding the cloth around the sleeping child. “It has been too long,” he muttered, “Much too long indeed.”

Finally satisfied with his handiwork, he scrutinized the sleeping child. “What is your name, little one?” The sunlight glinted off her blonde hair and Legolas nodded. “Ech Laurelin estathon. Yes, I found you by a laurel tree and your hair is golden. In honor of Yavanna I will call you Laurelin.”

He clicked his tongue, calling Tinnuroch to him. She ambled over and nuzzled his face, giving a contented sigh.

“Yes, I too am enjoying the peace and quiet,” the elf laughed and stood up to get some lembas from his pack. He took a bite and stared at the baby.

“I am certain that you will require food when you awake. We are a day’s ride from my father’s halls, it will be dark soon and I am hard-pressed to find a nursemaid here in the wilderness, let alone your family.”

The elf paced the small area, trying to come up with a solution to a very real problem. He thought about various plants and fruits that might offer sustenance for the child and then remembered the limpe yave that Elladan had given him on his previous visit to Rivendell. The melon had a milk-type substance in the hollow center that might suffice until he reached his father’s halls. Legolas had brought some seeds back with him and the trees flourished in Mirkwood, to the delight of all the elves. Unfortunately he was at least an hour’s travel from where he had planted seeds long ago.

“Come Tinnuroch, we must set off before Laurelin awakes. Walk with all care and speed!”

He gently scooped the sleeping child into his arms and mounted the horse without disturbing her. He hummed a lullaby that his Naneth had sung to him and the baby slept soundly. Legolas was feeling rather proud of himself and was looking forward to sharing this story with his patrol; that is until Laurelin woke up.

Her little coos and gurgles quickly became the cry of hunger. When the elf didn’t provide the requested breast, Laurelin got angry. And loud. Try as he might, Thranduil’s son could not soothe the upset child in Elvish or Westron.

“Ai, din ooma beleg pinig!” (Oh you are so loud for a little one!)

After twenty screaming minutes they reached the limpe yave tree. Legolas took his cloak out of the saddlebag and laid it on the ground, then put the baby on it. “I am going to get you some food little one,” the elf said in a soft voice. The baby cried louder and the horse snorted her disapproval.

“I shall be as quick as I can,” he said as he patted the horse’s flank.

He walked over to a large tree and shimmied up like a monkey. Thankfully the limpe yave was plentiful and Legolas was able to put five ripe melons in his bag. He took a deep breath, relishing in the quiet up in the canopy. He knew the child couldn’t help herself, but it was becoming quite wearisome listening to her wails. Just as he realized that he should be hearing her wails Tinnuroch gave a whinny of distress.

The elf slid down the tree and landed in an attack stance, but there was no one around. The horse whinnied again and pawed at the cloak on the ground. The baby had rolled herself off the cloak and into the scrub lining the river, landing face down in the dirt. In one fluid motion Legolas dropped the bag and scooped up Laurelin with one hand while wiping her face with the other.

“Av-’osto pinig. Don’t be afraid little one.” She screamed in fury at the elf as he finished cleaning her nose and mouth. ”Lasto nin… listen to me. Tiro nin, odulen an gi meriad. Look at me, I’m here to protect you. Shhhh, shhhh… av-’osto…"

Laurelin’s wails soon became whimpers as Legolas continued a steady stream of elvish while walking her up and down the riverbank. Tinnuroch even walked over and snuffed the baby’s head which startled her into silence as her eyes went wide in shock. As the baby continued to catch her breath from her crying fit, the elf walked back over to his cloak and sat down. Tinnuroch knelt down beside him, nodded her head to her left side, then touched the baby’s head with her muzzle.

Legolas understood the gesture and smiled. “You want to hold her?” He looked down at the baby and spoke in Westron. “Tinnuroch is a little mother who thinks I am no good at caring for a baby, so she is going to hold you, little one.”

He propped Laurelin against the horse’s shoulder and set about preparing her food. As he worked, he sang a song about Yavanna, and how she brought forth Telperion and Laurelin, the trees of light.

The infant was transfixed by the song and watched as the elf cracked open the fruit, careful to keep the sticky liquid inside. He added some water to thin down the milk and offered a spoonful to the baby.

“Try this, Laurelin,” he said as he put the spoon to the child’s lips and laughed at the face she made. “Oh come now, my skills are not that bad.”

Her frustrated wail said otherwise.

Tinnuroch turned away from the noise and snorted loudly. She wouldn’t look at the elf as he explained the situation to her, and he became frustrated.

“I was not trained in child care, little mother. I cannot nurse her as a female would.”

Laurelin became red in the face and began to choke from the force of her sobbing. Legolas picked her up and patted her back to get her breathing again. He walked up and down the small path trying to calm her down and figure out how to make her eat. She eventually found her fist and alternately sucked or chewed on it which gave him an idea.

He took one of her clean rags (no sane person would call them clothes or proper swaddling) and put the corner of it into the limpe yave milk. When it was saturated he pulled her fist out of her mouth and replaced it with the cloth. She was not too happy with the switch at first, but then she started to suck the liquid from the cloth. It was a challenge rotating the milk-dipped corners into her mouth, but after a few minutes she seemed to catch on to the routine.

It was a slow process, but finally the child seemed satisfied enough for Legolas to try something new for her. He undressed her from his tunic that was now covered in the sticky liquid, leaving her in just her diaper and propped her up against Tinnuroch again. He then broke off a small piece of Lembas from his remaining square and crumbled it into tiny pieces, dropping them into the milk. The lembas expanded as it absorbed the liquid, so he added some more water to thin the mixture a bit more. He waited until Laurelin opened her mouth in a yawn and poured a drop on her tongue. This was greeted with a look of surprise and he placed the spoon on her lips, tipping the contents into her mouth. She tried to suck on the spoon, getting mad when she couldn’t have it, but the elf prince persevered and was fairly successful at feeding his young charge.

Of course she wore quite a bit of her meal, so Laurelin found herself being bathed in the river for the second time that day, along with the elf’s extra tunic. This turn went much smoother than the first, and she was soon clean, full, diapered and dressed in her own clothes again. She cooed and babbled at the elf and attempted to play with his hair, laughing when he told her no.

“You are a different child when you’re happy,” the elf commented as he laid her down on his cloak and handed her the spoon to play with.

He glanced up at the darkening sky and pondered his next move. A single elf traveling by horse at night could well protect themselves against attack, but Legolas was no longer alone. He did not relish the thought of setting up camp, nor could he imagine fighting any foe with a child in one arm.

"Ai Elbereth,” Legolas sighed as he watched Laurelin successfully roll over onto her stomach, push herself up and look around with wide eyes. “What am I to do?”

A breeze began to blow, causing the brush, reeds and leaves to sing their windsong. The elf laid on his back next to the baby, placing his hand on her back and closed his eyes as he listened to the forest speak. Off in the distance he could hear the elves singing the songs of lament and loss and he pinched the bridge of his nose as he tried to make sense of death.

The elfsong changed and it took a moment for Legolas to process it as the wind carried the music. It was an ancient song of protection and he knew then that he and his young charge would be safe if he chose to travel at night.

Laurelin gave a little squawk and the elf opened his eyes. “Tired of the view, little orc? Well, it is time for us to head to my father’s halls, and time for you to sleep. But before we go, I will make sure my cloak is protected from any business you make during the night.”

He rolled her over and checked her diaper to be sure it was still dry. He then took another piece of cloth and made a second diaper to go over the first. Once that was secure he swaddled her in his cloak and cradled her in his arms.

Tinnuroch stood and shook herself off, then walked to the river for a drink. The baby squirmed in the elf’s arms, turning her head to try and see beyond her wrapping.

“Ah, you want to see where you’re going, is that it?” Legolas shifted her so her back was against his chest while her stomach was on his forearm. Her response was a rather large belch for someone of her size and the elf laughed loudly. “Oh, you are indeed a dirty little orc!”

When his mount was ready the elf settled himself astride her and she ambled into a gentle canter. The baby gurgled happily and reached for Tinnuroch’s mane, grabbing a large fistful of hair which she promptly put into her mouth. When he turned her around to face him, Legolas’ hair became the object of desire.

“Ai, pinig orch il i’ findl!” (Ah, not the hair little orc!) He took the spoon out of his bag and handed it to Laurelin, who chewed on the handle for a few minutes before she began to hit the horse, the elf’s knee and her own head before dropping the spoon and crying for it. She played this game until the elf tired of stopping to retrieve his spoon.

By this time the sun had completely set and Legolas started to sing. He switched Laurelin from her forward-facing position to a reclining one, allowing his body to sway with the movement of the horse. Within minutes the child was fast asleep.

“Oltho vê Laurelin.” (Sleep well, Laurelin.)

It was a long and thoughtful night for Thranduil’s son as he carried the infant safely through the dark forest. He honored his cousin’s memory by singing their favorite songs and remembering time spent together at feasts and in battle. But his most repeated thoughts were of her as a tiny elfling; learning to walk beside him or trying to string an arrow in her bow.

“Ai selen, nínion an gurth dhîn! Govano in nothrim în adh i mellyn în mi Mannos,” Legolas cried in despair. (Oh cousin I weep for your death! May you meet family and friends in Mandos.)

Laurelin startled awake at the cry and the elf swayed to put her back to sleep, remembering how his aunt taught him to sway with Miraear. He looked down at the baby and his fëa felt some peace again.

“I had not realized the comfort caring for a small one brings,” he said as she fell back asleep. “You have helped me grieve my loss and given me hope for the future. The Valar work in mysterious ways.”

They traveled through the night and by morning had covered almost twenty-five miles. Tinnuroch had slowed her pace for the last two miles, plodding along the riverbank bringing them to where the Enchanted River joined the Forest River just after sunrise.

Laurelin began to stir in his arms so Legolas guided Tinnuroch to a small grassy patch and dismounted. While the horse went to the river to sate her thirst, the elf set the baby on the grass beside him and quickly prepared her breakfast and clean cloths to change her before she awoke.

She hadn’t quite woken up yet so he sat down beside her and began to unwrap her from his cloak. “Echuio pinig. Ídhrog vant? Ai, I should probably speak Westron to you shouldn’t I, little orc? Wake up little one. Do you want some food?”

He quickly undressed her and changed her diaper before settling down with his bowl and spoon to feed her again. He had an extra cloth ready this time to catch any spills and this feeding was much more successful than the first. The elf also offered the child some water from his cup which didn’t go as well as he’d hoped, but all in all he was satisfied.

The final ten miles to his father’s hall was a quiet and peaceful ride. Legolas was aware that archers were all around them, but none made their presence known. Laurelin was the happiest she’d been since she was found by the prince and enjoyed telling him all about her ordeal up to when he found her. At least that’s what the elf thought she would be saying if she could actually speak.

A few hours later, Legolas’ patrol was waiting for him at the entrance of the woodland king’s halls. As he approached they greeted him with a song of victory and lament. He could see the two biers that bore the slain and his throat tightened; he glanced down at the sleeping child, thankful for the respite from her storytelling skills. When he had dismounted, the singing stopped and the doors were opened for the patrol to enter. It was time to report to the King.

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