Excited cries culminated in the halls as elves scurried to and
fro, busying themselves in preparation. In the brilliant stream of
sunlight, the bustling din could be heard leagues away. Shouts, murmurs,
whispers and giggles – the House of Elrond was bursting with
animation. The lord of Imladris was coming back today. And he would
return with the news everyone both anticipated and dreaded: the news concerning
the bridging of Imladris and Mirkwood.
Taking refuge from the chaotic clamor, two dark-haired youths quickly ducked into an empty bedroom and shut the door. Releasing a great breath of relief, they looked at each other. Identical smiles spread on identical faces.
"What do you think?" one of them turned toward a large glass window overlooking the courtyard. "Think Ada managed to reconcile with the Mirkwood king?"
The other laughed softly and approached the window as well. Resting his hand gently against the glass, he gazed down at the elves crowding in the courtyard. "I pray that is the case. But you know the history."
The golden afternoon sun spilled onto the trees and bushes, glinting off of the rich foliage of petals and robes swaying on the grass. The two youths turned away from the window and looked at each other. One of them smiled.
"I think it is time."
Dark blue robes swayed gently as the two leaned sideways against the wall and turned their heads toward the glass once again. Their dark eyes watched the stir of excitement in the courtyard below.
"There he comes," breathed one.
Far in the distance, a majestic procession trailed into the valley. A golden banner flapped at the head of the entourage, and alongside the banner rode the lord of Rivendell upon his chestnut steed. Following on horseback were other familiar faces of Imladris.
Smiling, the twins scoured the members of the entourage, their gaze resting lastly on their father once again. Then one of them frowned.
"Elrohir, look." He pointed toward the elven lord, who was now entering the courtyard. "Do you see that?"
Squinting, Elrohir brought himself closer to the window. His fingers rested against the glass as he widened his eyes. "Is that an elfling I see?"
Indeed, perched in front of the elven lord was a small elfling. Round eyes looked curiously around at the overjoyed crowd in the courtyard. A flowing stream of golden hair reflected the afternoon sun and sent dazzling rays of brilliance around the trees and bushes. All of the Rivendell elves were evidently making an effort not to stare, but their curiosity was failing to take complete cover. The elfling, on the other hand, was staring at everyone and everything with open curiosity.
"Blonde hair," murmured Elladan. "I wonder what this means?"
"Maybe Ada picked up a lost elfling on the way?" suggested Elrohir.
The twins stared at each other. Then they simultaneously burst into soft chuckles. Elladan turned back to the window, and suddenly frowned.
"Elrohir," he called distractedly. Elrohir leaned toward the window once again, following his brother's gaze. Elladan's eyes were narrowed, scrutinizing. "How old do you suppose he is?"
The twin scanned the child up and down. Clad in a light green traveling cloak, the small elfling looked in every way like a tender shoot of green spring. "Not even half a century, I wager," muttered Elrohir.
Elladan squinted harder. "But – tell me if I am seeing things – aren't those warrior plaits in his hair?"
Surprised, Elrohir leaned close to the window and looked down upon the approaching entourage. "By the Valar!" he exclaimed softly. "You're right, Elladan! That child has warrior plaits in his hair."
The procession was now trickling into the courtyard, and the last of the entourage filed into the open space overlooked by the majestic halls of Elrond.
Elladan tossed his dark hair back over his shoulder. "I can't believe it," he muttered softly, watching the elfling dismount from Elrond's horse. "A child so small, and he has felled an orc!"
As the elfling stood admiring the foreign scenery, a small bow could be seen strapped to his back. Indeed, the child was branded a defender after his first orc-slaying. The twins stared with wonder.
"Well," murmured Elrohir, "We would be missed."
The twins quickly turned on their heels and exited the room, hurrying down to greet the entourage.
By the time the twins had reached the courtyard, the elves were all dismounted and waiting. The two sons of Elrond eagerly embraced their father and exchanged words of greeting to the other members of the train, as greetings and exclamations were exchanged through the crowd. Soon, they came face to face with the small elfling who looked up curiously at them. The excited whispers of the crowd fell into a hushed silence. The lord of Rivendell smiled.
"Legolas, these are my sons." He pointed to Elladan. "This is Elladan, and-" he pointed toward the other twin – "this is Elrohir."
The elfling blinked and looked at one brother to another, bewildered at the similarity between the two personages before him. The twins broke into smiles. Elrond gently placed his hands upon the elfling's shoulders. "Children, this is Legolas – Legolas Thranduilion."
Gasps of surprise spread about the crowd like wildfire. The twins stood still, seemingly paralyzed, their eyes wide and mouth hanging open. They stared first at the elfling, and then at their father. The crowd fell into a hush once again, tension rising in the silent air.
It was Elladan who broke the silence first. Composing himself, he bowed deeply, a genuine smile lighting his fair features. "Welcome to Imladris, prince of Mirkwood." His voice was gentle, sincere.
Elrohir followed, also bowing deeply with a smile. "We are honored to have you in our house."
Only then did the elfling finally seem to realize that the two persons standing before him were actually separate life forms after all. He touched his heart and solemnly bowed. Golden tresses streamed down small shoulders, glinting in the sun; thin cords of warrior plaits tapped gently against his face. "You have my gratitude," he said quietly. "It is an honor to be here." The young voice was composed, much more composed than the twins would have expected. They exchanged bemused glances.
When the prince raised his head, the whole of Rivendell was bowing to him. He blinked. Elrond smiled down at the confused blue eyes as they looked about curiously.
"Elladan and Elrohir will stay with you until supper," said the elven lord, nudging the elfling's shoulder. "They will tell you everything you want to know about Imladris. Go unpack your things, and feel free to enjoy yourself. This will be your home for as long as you would like."
Seated atop his enormous bed, Legolas looked wonderingly about himself. Everything was so...different. The ceiling, the walls, the furniture, the windows, the trees – everything was foreign, and his eyes hungrily absorbed every new detail. He was transported to an entirely new world. So bright, so golden, instead of green. He turned his gaze toward the door when a gentle rapping broke his train of thought.
"Come in." He quickly scrambled off of the bed and stood erect, staring at the door expectantly.
The door swung open, and a pair of dark eyes smiled upon him. Legolas hastily bobbed his head. "Ella...hir." He stopped midway through his bow and frowned, carefully repeating the name again. "Ellahir." It didn't sound right.
The dark-haired youth laughed melodiously as he closed the door. "No, Legolas, I am Elrohir. Elladan is talking to my father right now."
Legolas blinked. He really didn't see the difference.
Smiling still, Elrohir approached him and gestured toward the bed. Legolas hopped back up and plopped down, facing Elrohir, who seated himself with composure and inherent grace. Large eyes peered up at Elrohir.
"Why do you and Elladan look alike?"
With a quiet laugh, Elrohir rubbed his eyes. "It is because we are twins." He and Elladan had been through this conversation numerous times with their younger sister.
"Twins?" Legolas was baffled. "What is twins?"
Elrohir smiled. "It's when two people are born at the same time and look exactly alike. Very unusual, but sometimes it happens at birth." When he saw the elfling frown in confusion, he chuckled. "Now, tell me about Mirkwood. I want to hear all about your beautiful home."
As the elfling perked up and began chatting excitedly about his home, the young lord of Imladris smiled thoughtfully to himself. This was looking to be...quite interesting.
"I almost can't believe it."
Elladan shook his head, breathing out a relieved sigh. He raised his eyes and looked once again toward his father, who was pacing languidly around the study.
"After all of that...it seems too good to be true."
Elrond glanced at his son, and smiled fleetingly. His dark eyes softened, sending forth a hint of the depths of the ages he had seen, had experienced. He spoke no words, however. He never did speak when he was remembering.
He slowly approached the giant glass window and stood facing the warmth of the afternoon sun.
"The king has asked me to bring his son here, because of you two."
"Us? You mean Elrohir and I?" Elladan looked utterly bewildered. Too many surprises had struck blow after blow.
Elrond turned around and nodded toward his son. "Yes, you two. I have already sent Elrohir into Legolas' room to get acquainted. I want you to tell him all that I tell you now."
Elladan nodded. He stood still, watching his father expectantly, as Elrond approached him.
"Prince Legolas is the youngest elf in Mirkwood."
Elladan raised an eyebrow.
Elrond continued solemnly. "Not only is he the youngest, but the elf closest to his age is at least several hundred years older."
Elladan raised his other eyebrow. "Ada, Arwen and I are about that far apart in years."
"Almost, but not quite." Elrond smiled upon his skeptical son. "As long as Legolas is here, I want you and Elrohir to relieve yourselves of patrol duty."
A knowing smile appeared upon the youth's fair face. "So you want us to return to being elflings, and help the child enjoy his childhood years...is that it?"
His father smiled. "You are a smart elfling, Elladan."
Elladan scowled. "I wish you'd stop calling me that."
Laughing softly, Elrond tousled his son's hair. "I'll consider it when you grow to be as tall as me."