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An Ounce of Kindness

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Greenwood the Great T.A. 209
The golden-haired sprite darted down the corridors, peeking around corners and into sundry chambers. Each time, his eyes would light up hopefully only to dim with frustration. The object of his search was nowhere to be found. Sighing at last with disappointment, he slowly made his way back to his room.

As he made the turn in the corridor leading to the family quarters, he came up short. There was his quarry, coming down the hallway from the opposite direction, bow and quiver in hand. He could not quite stifle his indrawn breath of anticipation. The sound though soft was enough to snare the other’s attention. The darkling Elf looked up and smiled upon seeing the child.

“Good morning, Legolas,” he called out.

Thranduil’s last-born smiled shyly and approached the younger of the twin sons of the visiting Lord of Rivendell.

“Good morning, Elrohir,” he replied in his high, piping voice.

At ten years of age, he was scarcely more than an infant out of swaddling clothes. And treated as such by his older siblings, sometimes with a touch of condescension thrown in.

An accidental addition to Thranduil’s large and lively brood, Legolas had none of his brothers’ sturdiness of form and limbs. Instead, he bid fair to be as willowy as the Woodland Realm’s late queen.

His mother had not recovered her strength after his birthing and passed away less than four years later. His father, though loving of the babe of his children, was king and could not spend as much time with him as Legolas desired. As such, the child was oft left in the care of dutiful but not necessarily loving nurses and at the mercy of his brethren’s teasing.

Until the advent of the Peredhil in Greenwood. For with Elrond had come a champion for the princeling. A champion in the form of the deceptively gentle Elf-knight. He it was who perceived the little Elf’s hapless straits and set himself to making things a little easier for him. Though only a score of years past his majority, Elrohir was a fearsome adversary and not one to lightly cross. Elrond’s sons were young but mettlesome. Not to mention fiercely loyal when they chose to be.

In the weeks since their arrival, the Elfling had known such blissful respite from his brothers’ thoughtless goading that he dreaded the day the Elves from Rivendell would depart.

“Where are you headed, little one?” Elrohir now asked.

Legolas beamed, his hero-worship of the younger twin clearly visible in his blue eyes. “I was looking for you,” he admitted.

“Ah, I was at the archery yard with Haldoron,” Elrohir explained. “Why were you looking for me?”

“I made something for you,” Legolas said, taking the twin by the hand and leading him to his bedchamber.

They came to the Elfling’s room and Legolas excitedly pushed the door open. Only to stop with shock and stare in dismay at what lay before them.

Elrohir entered the room, a frown marring his handsome face. On a low table against the wall, a small painting reposed. Rivendell had been painstakingly captured on canvas, clad in the brightest of colors, the details no doubt gleaned from varied descriptions heard regarding the hidden vale.

It was not an accomplished piece by any means. Indeed, it was unquestionably a child’s unpolished endeavor. But it had been patiently and laboriously rendered and that imbued the painting with a sterling quality that could not possibly be equaled by even the most renowned of artists. Not unless said artists could match the innate innocence and trusting nature a child possessed.

But someone had marred the little Elf’s labor of love. Some cruel soul had taken a brush, dipped it in black and brown paint and spattered the dark pigments onto the colorful image. Dark streaks cut across the vivid blue of the Bruinen, muddy spots dappled the verdant hills that surrounded the vale and the Last Homely House was barely visible from behind an indeterminately hued smear.

Elrohir scowled then glanced down at the tiny face of his companion. The blue eyes were swimming, the small mouth trembling. Humiliation was written all over the child’s crestfallen countenance.

“It wasn’t like that when I left it,” Legolas said, voice small with shame.

A snicker from the doorway caught their attention. A glance revealed Nimaras and Lalorn, the princes closest in age to the twins. Legolas flinched visibly at their mirth. His shoulders slumped and he bowed his head in a vain attempt to hide the tears that spilled down his pale cheeks.

Elrohir’s grey eyes turned icy. The murderous glare he laid on the princes silenced their laughter. They looked back at him uncertainly. His eyes promising retribution upon the mean-spirited Elves, Elrohir knelt before the quivering child. Only then did he wrench his irate stare from the two and focused it more gently on Legolas.

“Of course it isn’t how you left it,” he crooned, his voice carrying to the listening miscreants. “Only witless dolts could have done this. ‘Tis your misfortune that you had to be born into their dubious company.”

Again, he glared at the two at the door. No longer smug or mirthful, they slunk away. Elrohir turned his attention back to the little Elf.

“Come, we can still remedy this,” he said.

“Can we?” Legolas whispered, a trace of hope in his limpid eyes.

“Aye, we can. Elladan and I have helped Adar restore many an ancient painting. I see no reason why we cannot repair the damage to your splendid piece.”

“Is it splendid?” Legolas asked, his face noticeably brighter.

“Oh, absolutely!” Elrohir grinned. “‘Tis a veritable work of art.” He reached for a bottle of turpentine and a rag.

Legolas raptly watched as the Elf-knight carefully wiped away the offending streaks and smears. Slowly but surely, the bright colors re-emerged. Several minutes later, Elrohir straightened and smilingly presented the cleaned up painting to the princeling. The child’s expression was all the reward he could desire.

Legolas launched himself at his legs, hugging them tightly while looking up at the twin with the sweetest, most grateful smile Elrohir had ever seen. But a moment later, his expression clouded over. He looked at the Elf-knight doubtfully.

“‘Tis my going-away present to you,” he said. “But I do not know if it’s good enough for you.”

Elrohir chuckled. “Of course, it’s good enough,” he countered. “Indeed, ‘tis better than good enough. I shall hang it in my bedroom in Rivendell.”

“Truly?”

“On my honor.”

Legolas would have hugged his legs again but Elrohir laughingly scooped him up in his arms instead. Whereupon the Elfling buried his small face in the twin’s shoulder and curled his slender arms tightly around his neck. And when he lifted his golden head and gazed happily at Elrohir, adoration all but blazed in his crystalline eyes.

“I will miss you,” he honestly said.

Elrohir smiled and tweaked his pert nose lightly. “Then come and visit me in Rivendell, little one,” he teased.

Legolas caught his breath at the suggestion. “I will go to Rivendell,” he promised gleefully. “Will you wait for me, Elrohir?”

“I will wait for you,” Elrohir swore solemnly.

* * * *

Rivendell T.A. 2559
The brethren Elladan and Elrohir strode to their rooms at a brisk pace. It had been months since they’d last walked the halls of the Last Homely House. Months spent in the brutal, gut-wrenching pursuit and slaughter of the beasts that had torn their family asunder.

They came to Elrohir’s room first. “I will see you at dinner, brother,” Elladan said as the Elf-knight opened his door.

“Aye, but now for a good, hot bath and—”

Elladan halted at the sound of his brother’s gasp. “What is it?” he asked.

Elrohir gestured wonderingly at the confines of his chamber.

The bed was turned down and the pillows plumped up. A large tray laden with steaming hot bread, cheese, cold meats, fruit and a bottle of wine rested on the bedside table. The windows had been opened and the draperies drawn to allow the fresh night breezes to sweeten the room. A fire crackled merrily in the hearth, illuminating the painting above it, a brightly hued child’s rendition of the hidden vale.

“Who in Arda did this?” Elrohir softly exclaimed, stepping inside.

A shadow detached itself from behind the door. Slender but powerful arms snaked around the younger twin’s waist from behind. Startled, Elrohir turned in the embrace and found himself staring into one of the fairest faces in all Middle-earth.

“Welcome back, melethron,” Legolas grinned before pressing a kiss to his stunned lover’s lips.

Even as Elrohir swiftly recovered his wits and hungrily wove his arms around the archer’s lissome frame, Elladan beat a hasty retreat, chuckling as he closed the door behind him. He sincerely doubted he would see anything of his twin this dinnertime. Not when a far better repast was to be had within the comfort of his own room!

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Glossary:
Adar - Father
melethron – male lover

The End