The soft, though incessant clatter of an elven loom found its way into Legolas' ears as he made his way through the bright passages of the his father's castle. Though truly a series of caves it was, the halls and corridors, and rooms were all spacious and well lit, most often by sunlight, where it streamed through high windows bored through the cliffs of stone to the outer air, giving it a feel of a vast, bright palace, rather than as a cave. Perhaps, had he not been raised within these halls, and in the great green wood that was his father's realm, he would be as wary of entering these caves as Lalaith was, whenever she came to these woods. She was far more used to the airy houses of Imladris, and of the bright tree borne dwellings of Lothlórien. Legolas smiled to himself, thinking of her, unable to fault her apprehension. For even to him, one who had dwelt in his father's caves from his earliest memory, the very thought of true caves, was distasteful beyond measure. Those caves that bore deep into the earth with labyrinth tunnels where the squat, small-minded Dwarves chose to delve for their lifeless treasures, bereft of the light of the moon and sun, and of the stars, and the scent of living, growing things.
Legolas put such thoughts aside, and his smile grew as he came through a high stone doorway into a room, lit brightly by a small window high overhead. The Elf woman, seated before her loom with her back to Legolas, had not heard his entrance, and he smiled as he watched her work. The square of cloth forming upon her loom, seemed to be a small square of blanket. So another baby had been born among the Wood Elves. This was her way; ever aware of the needs of her people, ever ready to give comfort, though she was never eager for the acknowledgement of her good deeds. She was a queen content to let her husband rule the affairs of the kingdom, and to give him her support and counsel when her wisdom was needed. But she was not as visible, nor as powerful a figure as the Lady of the Golden Wood, Galadriel. Still, she was equally strong in spirit, and in the goodness of her heart, and Legolas loved her for it.
She remained absorbed in her work as he drew closer, and Legolas grinned as he bent, drinking in the warm, sweet scent of her that he recalled from his earliest memories, and kissed her on the back of her head where her long golden tresses spilled unbound down her back to her slim, girlish waist.
"Ai!" Aseaiel gasped and spun quickly, her eyes lighting with surprise and delight to see her son returned. "Legolas, you silly child!" She cried, leaping to her feet to throw her arms about her son's neck.
"Welcome." She continued, as Legolas returned her embrace, nearly lifting her off of the floor in his exuberance. "Have you seen your father, yet?"
"Not yet, but I mean to, soon." He placed the two scrolls he had brought with him, into her hands. "I bring correspondence from Lord Elrond. And from Lord Celeborn, as well."
"Celeborn?" Aseaiel drew back, a questioning look coming upon her face. "You went to Lothlórien?"
"A message came from Galadriel while I was in Imladris. Orcs were on the borders of Lothlórien. Elladan and a contingent went to help drive them off."
"And you, and our Elves, as well." Aseaiel sighed, her eyes traveling over her son as if seeking for visible signs of injury.
"And Lalaith went, too, Mother." Legolas sighed.
Aseaiel held back a smile, hearing within her son's voice a tone of longing, and of melancholy.
"Oh?" She asked, dropping her eyes to the letters her son had placed within her hands. She slipped the sealed scroll from Elrond through the belt at her waist, and broke the seal of the letter from Celeborn. "To fight?" She asked absently as her eyes slowly began to travel over the words.
"Yes." He returned, his voice almost forlorn.
"Well, Elrond has raised her well. She is a maiden who follows her heart." Aseaiel glanced back up at him, searching his eyes. "She will not be held back when she sets her heart upon something. She is good for you, my son." Her eyes returned to the parchment before her, and she asked as she read, "Lalaith wasn't hurt, was she?"
"No." Legolas shook his head quickly. "But-,"
"Oh," Aseaiel breathed softly, and a hand went to her mouth, and her eyes stopped at the words that made her face blanche. "One of the Lórien Elves fell."
"And Lalaith was next to him when he was struck down." Legolas murmured. "I think-, the arrow was meant for her, but he took it instead and-,"
"Lalaith is changed, somewhat?" Aseaiel asked quietly, lowering her hand so that Celeborn's letter fell against her skirt, forgotten for the moment as she turned her attention fully upon her son.
"She is." Legolas muttered in a soft voice. "She was quiet on our return to Imladris, and during the remainder of my stay, she seemed thoughtful, and morose. She did not avoid my company, but she did not seek me out, either. She did not sing so readily as she used to, and she laughed not at all. She hardly spoke, unless I spoke first."
"And you are worried for her?" Aseaiel asked softly, smiling gently as she asked with soft inquiry, "Worried for her feelings for you, perhaps?"
"I do not know if she could ever-," Legolas' voice ended, his thought unspoken.
"Of course, she came to see you off at your departure." Aseaiel said as a statement, rather than as a question.
"Yes." Legolas breathed, his eyes gazing off elsewhere, as at a memory for which he felt great fondness, yet one which he also felt great uncertainty over.
"Then you have nothing to fear." Aseaiel consoled, reaching out, and putting a hand gently upon her son's arm.
"She has experienced a great tragedy, Legolas." Aseaiel continued, and sighed deeply as Legolas' eyes returned to study her own; eyes that reminded her so much of the plaintive, passionate child he had once been. "She has a pained and confused heart I would wager, yet she is strong. She is growing because of it. Her love for you has not waned, my son. She will be better for what has happened. And the bright maiden she was before will return, though wiser than she once was."
"Do you think so, Mother?" Legolas pleaded, his brows knit into a somber, thoughtful expression, showing, without words the deep, poignant feelings of his heart.
"I am certain of it." Aseaiel assured him, lifting her hand from his arm, and gently touching his youthful cheek. So strong and wise he was, a son to be proud of. And yet at times so adorably timid and unsure, most often when his thoughts were turned upon Lalaith.
"Return to her in the spring, Legolas." Aseaiel suggested suddenly, with a brightness in her voice that caused a spark to take hold within her son's eyes. "See her again, and soon. When the first buds begin to push out of the ground, go to her. I know she will be glad to have you return to Imladris, so quickly. You will see the change for yourself, then."
"Would Father allow me to go back, so soon?" Legolas asked, his eyes dimming with worry.
"He will." Aseaiel assured her son in a consoling voice that brought a hopeful smile to his lips. "For your father is as fond of Elrond's golden haired niece as I am."
Looping her free hand through Legolas' arm, Aseaiel urged, "Come. Let us go find him. He will be wanting to see these letters, I think." With a smile, she added in a playful tone, "And if he is reluctant to send you back so soon, then I will overrule him." She smiled sweetly. "For I am the queen. And I can be as zealous as Galadriel, when I have a mind to be."
Legolas stifled a smile, for he knew that his mother was right, and his heart lightened considerably as he followed his mother's lead as she led him from her workroom, off in search of Thranduil.