A large, orange fruit that nobody has seen before passes through many elvish hands in this one-shot, set in Legolas’ childhood.
Written for Halloween 2020.
Lothlórien, Third Age 2155
Celeborn looked suspiciously at the gift, hefting it to assess its weight. It was so large he had to hold it with both hands, a bright orange color and with a rock hard surface. He had thought it was not real first, that it was a painted wooden ball.
He glanced at his grandson. There was a certain twinkle in Elladan’s eye and a miniscule quirk to his lip telling Celeborn the other was seeing this as a good joke. That he knew his grandfather had no idea what to do with such a fruit – or if it was a vegetable? – and was expecting him to admit as much.
Well, he was not going to be anyone’s laughingstock, particularly not his mischievous grandson’s.
“Thank you, Elladan, a worthy gift indeed! This will come in handy now that the Autumn Festival is soon upon us, it was good of you and your brother to think of me. Where did you get it from?”
The younger elf looked disappointed. “Elrohir bought it from a Gondorian merchant,” he muttered.
“Well purchased. Well done. Now, get along with you, your grandmother would want to see you too.”
When he was alone, Celeborn examined the orange globe more thoroughly, turning it this way and that, knocking at its shell and producing a hollow sound, smelling it, but nothing gave him any clue how to use it.
Then suddenly he got a brilliant idea.
Greenwood the Great, a.k.a. Mirkwood, 2 weeks later...
The preparations for the Feast of Autumn were proceeding well, the hunting teams had returned with much game this year, and in the feast area merry decorations littered the trees. Long tables were laid out with fine cloth and colorful leaf garlands, and in the center of the meadow musicians practiced on their instruments around several great bonfires, ready to light.
Thranduil walked sedately around the area with his hands behind his back, examining everything to make sure it was done right; adjusting a fork here, moving a colored lantern there. Behind him, his young son mimicked his actions, and he had to hide a smile as he turned to him.
“What do you think, Legolas, are we ready? Shall we pronounce the Feast open?”
“Aye!” The elfling bounced excitedly.
“Then let us.”
Soon the music played up and elves mingled around, filling their plates and taking seats at the tables.
Thranduil stood with his son near the path to the palace, graciously conversing with the invited guests from other realms.
The lord of Lothlórien came forward with his wife on his arm, carrying a large item wrapped in cloth.
“Lady Galadriel. Lord Celeborn.” Thranduil greeted them in turn.
“King Thranduil. Prince Legolas. Lovely party,” said Celeborn. “I brought a gift for you, in celebration of the longstanding friendship between our realms.” He placed the sack in Thranduil’s arms. “My grandsons Elrohir and Elladan bought it from Gondor.”
Thranduil curiously unwrapped the item. Inside was a large, round, orange thing he could not quite place. Was it a decoration? No, it looked organic. A nut? Or maybe an overgrown turnip?
He glanced at the other elf, noticing Celeborn’s eyes resting on him. So, he wanted to see Thranduil’s reaction? Perhaps wanting him to make a fool of himself for not knowing what it was?
Elrohir and Elladan had bought it, he had said. Maybe Celeborn did not know what it was either? It would be just like those troublemaker twins to prank their grandfather in such a way. Thranduil peered around the feast area, and sure enough, just behind the nearest bonfire he spotted the annoying pair, snickering and whispering to each other.
So, they thought they would make a fool of the Elvenking? Well, he was not going to give them that satisfaction. He had an image to uphold.
“Why, thank you. What a fine gift! I had contemplated getting myself one of these, but now you spared me the trouble.”
“The pleasure is all mine.” Both Celeborn and the twins looked disappointed, and Thranduil carefully schooled his features to hide the smug smile he felt forming. One point for the Elvenking!
Later, when Thranduil had put Legolas to bed and most of the party guests were busy dancing drunkenly in the many large dance circles, he again examined his strange present. What to do with it? He did not want to keep something he did not know what it was.
His butler walked by with a tray and Thranduil reached out for a glass, sipping the lovely Dorwinion wine thoughtfully. He found his gaze coming to rest on the other ellon and an idea formed.
“Having a pleasant evening, Galion?” he asked.
“Aye, Sire, this year you have really outdone yourself. It has been a wonderful party.” The other’s eyes met his slightly unsteadily. So, his butler had been tulling on the wine again. He really ought to do something about that, maybe have him sacked, but did not have the energy to find a replacement. He knew a much funnier punishment.
“You are such a loyal servant, and I really appreciate how I can trust you to always do the right thing, Galion. I am very pleased with you.”
Galion’s face turned crimson. He had the kind of complexion that easily colors, which Thranduil always had found very amusing. It had become something of a sport of his to make the other blush, although he obviously never would admit to that.
“Thank you, Sire. How kind of you to say so.”
“In recognition of your value, I shall donate this fine gift to you, which Celeborn and Galadriel bestowed upon our realm. Is it not lovely?”
“Uh, aye Sire, it is very… unusual.” Galion took the offered globe.
“Take the rest of the evening off, Galion. And take your present with you.”
8 months later...
“Sire, there are some very strange plants growing in the training grounds. Would you come looking at them? The warriors are afraid to go near, thinking it might be some evil spawn of the spiders’.”
Thranduil followed his guard and soon had the plants pointed out to him. They grew at the edge of the archery field, just behind the targets, which probably was why nobody had discovered them until now. Large as they were, the plants must have been growing all summer.
They looked very odd indeed, with long, thick green tendrils all over the place and leaves large as cauldron lids. Small, green fruits and big yellow flowers sprouted on the tendrils, and the shape of those fruits made Thranduil suddenly suspicious. Where had he seen such before?
Then it struck him. Celeborn’s gift!
“I do not think they are dangerous, but leave them be for now. I have to go see Galion.”
As usual, Thranduil found his butler in the wine cellar, where he claimed to have been checking the air moisture and temperature, but his pink cheeks told another story.
“That orange fruit I gave you last autumn, what did you do with it?”
Galion’s color heightened. “I… I was going to keep it, but your son begged me to give it to him. You know how persuasive he can be with those large eyes, right? I did not have the heart to reject him.”
Sighing, Thranduil left the cellars to find Legolas. His searching took him back to the training grounds, where the elfling practiced archery with his young friends.
“Legolas, come with me.”
Curiously his son followed him to behind the targets, where Thranduil pointed out the strange tangle of tendrils and leaves.
“Do you know what that is?”
“Last year, did you get a big orange fruit from Galion?”
“Aye, but I did not know it was a fruit. Why?”
“What did you do with it?”
“Me and my friends thought it would be a good target to practice shooting orcs. So we placed it on a stick and carved eyes and a mouth in it to make it look like a head. It was great fun!”
“Would this have been around… here?”
“Aye, it was, actually!” Legolas peered at the plants again. “Oh, I get it! There were seeds in the fruit and they grew here?”
“That must have been the case.”
“Brilliant! When the fruits are ripe we will have many more orc heads to practice on!” Legolas skipped back to his friends to tell the good news, while Thranduil remained at the plants, regarding them thoughtfully. Then a slow smile formed on his face.
4 months later...
The surrounding beech trees, oaks and lindens were colored in all imaginable hues of yellow and red, and in the clearing of the feast area many elves mingled around, dressed in their finest clothes, their hair braided in their most intricate patterns and their eyes bright and full of expectation. There was a heavenly smell of roast meat in the air and the merry tunes of flutes and lyres made everybody want to dance.
As usual, Thranduil graciously greeted his foreign guests.
“Ah, Celeborn and Galadriel, do come closer. And there you are, Elladan and Elrohir! So glad you could make it. I have prepared presents for you all. And take some extra home with you for Lord Elrond, will you? I am sure he would appreciate it.”
Smirking evilly, Thranduil handed out the many large, orange fruits to his guests, keeping only ten for Legolas and his friends.
As he revelled in the sight of the others’ dismayed and surprised appearances, Thranduil figured it could be the start of a new tradition.
He had a feeling this was the last year he would be forced to entertain those obnoxious twins at his table.
Names and places are copyright of J.R.R Tolkien. This is a work of fanfiction and I make no profit from it.