Fathers

The Spider Incident

Author's Note: I'm back! May I present to you: The Spider Incident! A few people private messaged me about adding this chapter and I've had it half written for awhile and decided to finally finish it. Just Legolas and his family in this one but there is mention of Aragorn, Faramir, and Eowyn. Lots of Thranduil being a grandfather too. One more thing.....a few people have pm'd me asking about using my characters in their own stories. Please, please, PLEASE do! I'm so honored that people like them that much! (Just please credit them to me and send me a link! I want to read your story as well!)

Aranestarion bolted through the forest as fast as his legs could carry him. Casting a quick glance behind him assured that his pursuer hadn't caught up just yet but that didn't give him cause to relax.

Spotting a small hollowed out hole at the base of a tree Starion ducked inside it and curled up in a ball to fit better and fully disappear from view. The young prince of Eryn Galen tried to keep his breathing quiet when his chaser appeared into view. Starion scooted farther back into the tree's base and clamped both hands over his mouth to prevent any noise from escaping. The boots slowly disappeared from his line of sight and the little Elfling's shoulders dropped in relief.

Slowly he crept out of his hiding spot and looked around before giggling. There was no one around. He turned to dart back in the direction of the palace when two arms wrapped around his middle and lifted him high in the air. Aranestarion yelped before he was tossed into the air, caught once again, and tickled mercilessly, "Ada! You win! I give up!"

He was tucked against his father's shoulder and hugged him tightly around the neck, "I almost fooled you."

Legolas smiled, "Almost. I heard you giggling just as I was going to look somewhere else."

"Can I hide again?"

"Not right now. It's nearly time for dinner. Nana, Telgalad, and Daeradar will be waiting for us."

Starion frowned before brightening, "Can I ride on your shoulders?"

Legolas swung him up with practiced ease and began walking, one arm holding his legs in place. Starion enjoyed the view before reaching up a tiny hand to brush against the lower hanging branches of the trees. The trees dipped a few of their branches lower so the leaves could be easily reached by their young princeling. Starion lowered his hand so it could rest on his father's head, "Ada?"

"Hm?"

"When do we get to go back to Gondor?"

"Soon. In a few weeks time. We're going to Ithilien first and then to Gondor."

Starion grinned at that, Ithilien was good. Uncle Faramir and Aunt Eowyn were always fun, "Will everyone be there?"

"Mmhm," Legolas confirmed before they once again lapsed into a peaceful silence. Starion once again reached up a hand to touch one of the trees and noticed that the leaves seemed to be trembling just out of his reach. He opened up his mouth to protest this when he noticed that his adar had stilled under him, "Ada?"

No sooner had he spoke that he was slung off his adar's shoulders and into his arms. Legolas spoke to his son, eyes searching the surrounding forest, "Starion, I need you to listen very closely."

Starion nodded, somehow sensing that something was wrong, "Ada?"

Legolas held his son closer and trilled twice like a bird before looking down to meet his eyes, "I need you to stay close and stay quiet, alright?"

The tiny princeling was placed on the ground next to his father and he grasped onto Legolas's legging tightly with one hand, eyes wide.

It seemed as if the forest had gone silent. There was no chatter of squirrels, no whistling of birds, and even no wind. A glance up showed that his ada was pulled taunt like a bow string, eyes hard and searching. A crack of a twig made it apparent what he was searching for.

A spider. A massive black spider. Starion stared at it in horror before his view was blocked by two other Elves dropping from the trees around them. Starion was swept once again into his ada's arms and placed on the low branch of a nearby tree. Legolas spared a glance at his son, "Stay there until someone comes and gets you. We're not going to let it near you."

Starion just nodded, eyes wide, as his Uncle Lacien tossed two long knives to the crown prince who caught them easily. Lacien placed himself in Starion's line of sight as his ada disappeared from view, "Everything is going to be alright Starion."

Aranestarion just shook in sheer terror. With Lacien blocking his view he could only hear the guttural cries and hissing noises from the black creature in the clearing. He heard his adar curse heavily before suddenly appearing in view, "Lacien we need back up. It won't stay down and there are more nearby. I can sense them."

Lacien swung into the tree beside the young Elfling and stood on the branch, trilling and whistling like a bird. Legolas turned briefly to glance at his son, "Lacien, you and Tauriel take Starion back to the castle."

Tauriel ducked out of the way of the spider's fangs, "Legolas we're not leaving you alone here. There are more of them coming. You won't be able to hold off a whole nest."

Legolas threw himself back into battle, as Lacien once agin blocked Starion's view, "I called for back up. The trees are sending the message along."

Legolas turned back to glance at his son once again, "Get him out of here."

Before either Elf could respond a horrid hissing noise came from behind Starion. The young Elfling turned in horror to see yet another spider, this one slightly smaller than the huge one that currently held the Elves' attention. Starion let out a squeak of terror before Lacien pounced on it, knives out. Starion leapt from his tree branch in terror and curled into a ball at the base of the tree, whimpering. The child clamped his hands over tiny, pointed ears but could still hear Tauriel's cry of dismay, "Where are they all coming from? We went from one to five in seconds!"

Legolas barely spared her a glanced before hissing, "Where the hell are our reinforcements?" A quick glance up showed Lacien disposing of two smaller spiders and a lack of his son on the tree branch, "Where is Starion?"

At the sound of his name the little, blonde head rose. The Elfling immediately saw what seemed to him like endless spiders pouring from tree canopy and whimpered, "Ada!"

Legolas spun around and caught sight of his son at the base of the tree. A small amount of relief went through him before a sharp pain pierced the back of his shoulder, followed nearly instantly by a burning sensation.

Aranestarion watched in horror as the largest and first spider, who was somehow still hanging onto life, sunk its fangs in the back of his adar's shoulder. Legolas dropped to one knee and the Elfling cried out in terror, "ADA!"

Before his mind could register anything else, a tall, blonde figured seemed to suddenly appear in the clearing, followed by five more. Starion watched through tears, as they cut down the spiders one by one, effectively eliminating what they could as the spiders fled. Lacien sheathed his knives in his wrist bracers before calling to four of the Elves that had arrived, "Puigon, Raneth, Gweluon, Annor, Tauriel, follow me. We pursue the rest. Ionwe, get a healer."

Starion watched as Thranduil cut down the last, smallest spider still in the clearing before going to one knee beside his son, "Legolas...."

Legolas shook his head, before squeezing his eyes shut, "Its not bad. Get Starion."

Within seconds the tiny Elf prince found himself pressed to a warm chest as he sobbed, "Ada!"

Thranduil held his shaking grandson as best he could as he soothed, "Your ada is going to be just fine, penneth. I promise. He'll be alright. Calm yourself."

Starion buried his head in Thranduil's shoulder with a hiccuping sob. He heard his grandfather sigh in mild frustration, "You can quit giving me that look. I'm not leaving until there's a healer here looking you over."

"Demand and you shall receive," Came the melodious voice that Starion recognized immediately.

"Nana?"

Galadhwen gave her son a pitying look, "Its alright, darling. Everything is going to be just fine," Her eyes met Thranduil's and she spoke again, "Its alright. Go take him back. Maidhion and Idril are right behind me and Amarie is behind them with more medical supplies."

Thranduil spared one last look at his son before walking back toward the place. As they left both grandfather and grandson heard Galadhwen's admonishing tone, "Can you go anywhere? Honestly Legolas.....and you complain about Estel?"

Thranduil withheld a chuckle and hoisted Starion up to his shoulder. The little Elfling was shaking still, though his tears had slowed somewhat, "What do you say we get your brother from, I'm assuming, Halden and get you something to eat, hm?"

Starion shook his head before dropping it onto his daeradar's shoulder. Thranduil brought up one hand and carded long fingers through the soft, blonde mop of hair. His grandson continued to shake and sniffle, hands latched tightly onto the king's robes. Together they made a steady pace until they reached the gates of the palace, Thranduil striding inside with a brief nod at the guards stationed. Bypassing his throne he carried Starion to his own quarters and sat down on the bed, "I need to go get your brother. Can I leave you in here?"

The tiny head shook violently and Thranduil withheld a sigh, "Can I put you down?"

Another violent shake of his head and Thranduil frowned. Spiders were something he had hoped Aranestarion would encounter only in the small, household form. He could hardly blame the child for being scared out of his mind.

First things first, he needed to gather his second grandchild and then get some kind of sugar into Starion to prevent him from going into shock. After that he could get them some real food and check in on his son. Thranduil wished in vain, not for the first time, that his son would stop getting himself into situations that landed him in the healer's ward. A short walk down one of the halls led Thranduil to his grandsons' playroom where, much as he suspected, Halden was seated on the ground with his youngest grandson. Telgalad had started to crawl the month before and was steadily making his way through the toys spread out along the floor. Noticing his king almost immediately, Halden bowed his head in respect before looking at him not as a ruler but as his friend's father, "How bad?"

Thranduil could sympathize, clearly his son's friends recognized this trend as well, "Not as bad as it could have been. He gotten bitten on his shoulder. Galadhwen already has him. He'll be fine. Starion was with when the attack happened though."

The royal family's personal guard gave the child a sympathetic look, "Is he all right?"

Thranduil clearly remembered Halden had been a member of the group that had first discovered the spiders in Eryn Galen long ago, "Just shaken. I need to feed them before checking up on Legolas."

Halden retrieved a protesting Telgalad and Thranduil accepted him in his other arm with a nod of thanks. Galad gave his daeradar a bright smile, "Da!"

Starion raised his head with a sniff, eyes red from crying. Thranduil slowly took them to the kitchens with a brief goodbye to Halden. Soon Starion was deposited on a chair, while Galad stayed in his arms. The kettle was placed on the stove and Thranduil sat himself next to his grandson until it boiled. Starion dropped his head onto his daeradar's arm with a sniff. A soothing hand stroked his hair softly and Thranduil spoke, "I promise you that we're going to get rid of all of the spiders in these woods."

The little elfling's voice was very small, "Even the tiny ones?"

Thranduil withheld a smile, "Probably not all of those but we'll do our best."

Silence resumed and Thranduil was content to see that Starion's tears had stopped completely and he was no longer violently trembling. His younger grandson seemed utterly content with the world and was happily playing with one of Thranduil's braids. A minute went by before he laid a gentle hand on Starion's head and stood. The now warmed water was added over tea along with a few large spoonfuls of sugar. Telgalad reached for the cup and made a noise of protest when the cup with placed out of his reach on the table. Thranduil returned to his seat with the wiggly toddler in tow before rubbing Starion's back gently, "Sit up. I need you to drink this."

Starion raised his head up and managed a skeptical look at the cup even with his red eyes, "Is it gonna be gross?'

Thranduil couldn't hold back the small huff of laughter that escaped, "No. It's sweet and will make you feel less shaky."

Tiny hands wrapped around the cup and a hesitant sip was taken. Soon tiny legs were kicking under the table at Starion slowly returned to his happy self. Telgalad, meanwhile, had discovered a new game that consisted of dropping backwards only to be caught by Thranduil moments before smacking the back of his head on the table while simultaneously causing his brother to crack and smile and Thranduil's heart to get a good workout in. After almost not catching Galad in time the king put at end to the game by placing him on the floor and standing, "You need to eat some dinner."

Starion shook his head, still clinging to some of his somberness, "I'm not hungry."

"You are. Or you will be once you start eating. Now what would you like?"

A tiny sip of tea and Starion looked up innocently, "I think there are pastries and cookies in the kitchens."

Thranduil raised an eyebrow, clearly his grandson was feeling better, "Nice try. Maybe after dinner."

When Aranestarion provided no other suggestions Thranduil stepped into the kitchens and returned with two bowls of vegetable soup and bread. Galad was swept back onto his lap with minimal squirming once the food was presented. That was how Galadhwen found them. Starion kneeling on his chair to better reach his bowl of soup while her marriage father could barely manage a spoonful himself before her youngest opened his mouth waiting with a loud 'ah!' to assure he was heard. She chuckled quietly before speaking, "You didn't have to feed them."

Thranduil looked up from feeding Telgalad, "It's fine. They needed dinner. I don't mind, you know that."

Galadhwen sat down on the other side of her eldest, "At least let me finish feeding him so you can eat."

Thranduil kept possession of his grandson with a shake of his head, "He's fine. How is Legolas?"

Galadhwen sighed, "He's fine. Sleeping now. The antidote always puts you to sleep."

Starion looked up at his nana with wide eyes, "Is Ada going to be alright?"

Galadhwen smiled softly at him and ran a hand over his head, "He's going to be just fine, my brave boy. Promise."

"Can I go see him now?" He asked hopefully.

His naneth pressed a kiss to the top of his head, "Not tonight. Ada is sleeping and you're going to head to sleep soon too. You had a stressful day. Finish eating and we'll get you cleaned up and into bed."

One rather long bath later (Galadhwen hadn't had the heart to stop most of splashing after the day her son had had) and Starion was sitting on his bed with his night bottoms on. He raised his arms and his nana tugged a matching pale blue nightshirt on over his head, "You were such a brave boy today."

Starion frowned as he climbed under his blankets, "I don't like spiders."

Galadhwen's smile was tinged with sadness, "None of us do, darling. You won't have to see them anymore though. I promise."

Tucking the blanket around his shoulders, she pressed a kiss to the top of Starion's head, "Sleep well and Ada and I will see you in the morning."

Galadhwen left the room, glancing back over her shoulder with a soft sigh as she shut the door and walked across the hall to her own room. As she prepared herself for a bath and bed Legolas stirred on their bed and propped himself up on one arm, "Starion asleep?"

She nodded and sat on the side of the bed, one leg tucked underneath her, "Yes. Your father put Galad to bed. I'm going to take a bath. You're going to go back to sleep."

She kissed him gently and rose, heading to their bathroom when her husband spoke, "Is he alright?"

Galadhwen paused, "I don't know. He seems fine but we'll see how he sleeps tonight."

It was very, very dark outside when Aranestarion climbed out of his bed and crept to his door, his eyes wide. Bracing himself the elfling threw open his door and bolted through it and across the hall to his nana and ada's room. Unfortunately their room was just as dark and Starion could hold back the small whimper and tears pricked the back of his eyes. There were a few, almost imperceptible, shifting noises and then Starion found himself face to face with his Ada who suddenly seemed to be kneeling down in front of him. The tears started at the exact same time his son threw himself into his arms, "Ada!"

Legolas lifted him with his good arm and walked out of room back into his son's room to avoid waking his wife, "It's alright. Every thing's fine."

Starion clung to him and he settled down the bed, legs crossed, "Bad dream?"

Legolas felt a nod against his neck and tightened his grip ever so slightly, "Do you want me to sleep in here tonight?"

A pause in the soft tears and then another nod. The crown prince laid himself down into the bed, Starion still clinging to him and began humming softly in an effort to settle him down. The humming turned to soft singing and the elfling's tears slowed until they stopped altogether. Just as his breathing evened out and Legolas was sure he was out a sleepy voice spoke, "Ada?"

He paused in singing, "Hm?"

"Are you alright?"

Legolas smiled, "I'm fine."

"Promise?"

"Promise."

Silence regained control for a moment before Legolas continued with his song. He had nearly reached the end when Starion interrupted again, "Ada?"

"Yes?"

"I'm glad you're fine."

Legolas huffed a breath of laughter, "Me too. Now go to sleep."

The sun was just starting to rise when Galadhwen rolled over to find her husband's side of the bed cold. She rose groggily and looked around the room. Noticing Legolas was utterly absent and having a strong suspicion of where he went she walked across the hall to her eldest son's room. Sure enough her husband was sound asleep, eyes glazed over in Elven dreams on her son's bed, Starion curled up in his arms. She watched them for a long moment before leaning down to kiss them both. Legolas's eyes cleared and he ruefully up at her, "Bad dream."

Her voice was soft as she replied, "I figured, "Do you want to bring him back to our bed?"

He shook his head, "I don't want to wake him. Besides we'll have Telgalad in there momentarily, I'm sure of it."

She stifled a laugh, "No doubt."

Galadhwen kissed her husband again before running her hand gently over her son's head as her mood turned serious, "I'm glad you're both all right.....you very easily could have-"

She was cut off when Starion stirred on the bed, "Nana?"

Blinking away the tears that threatened to fall she sat on the edge of bed, "Go back to sleep. I didn't mean to wake you."

Starion frowned up at her, "Are you alright, Nana?"

"I am, sweetie."

Starion smiled sleepily, "So am I. And Ada said he's fine too. Right, Ada?"

Galadhwen smiled, "And I've very, very glad about that."

"Good," He stifled a yawn, "What time is it?"

"Almost morning."

"Oh. So we can go back to sleep?"

Legolas smiled, "I'd prefer that we went back to sleep."

Starion looked up at his mother hopefully, "Can I sleep in your bed?"

Galadhwen nodded and lifted him into her arms. As the family settled down into the bed she looked over both her husband and son with a sigh, "You are far too much like your adar, Aranestarion."

Starion smiled at her, "Does that mean I get into trouble a lot?"

Galadhwen burst out laughing at both her son's question and her husband's face, "Yes, yes it does, penneth."

Starion snuggled down deeper into the blankets between his parents, "I bet Telgalad is going to be the same way."

The last thing he heard before he drifted back to sleep was his naneth's sigh, "Oh....I hope not."

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