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An Ounce of Kindness Redux

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Eryn Galen, laer T.A. 209
The delegation from Rivendell was small but impressive. Not even the most jaded of the woodland warriors or the well-travelled amongst the Silvan folk could feign disinterest in the visitors from the fabled valley realm.

There was the golden-haired legend who had perished when he slew a Balrog yet walked Middle-earth once more. Glorfindel of the ancient House of the Golden Flower made a resplendent figure upon his snowy elven steed Asfaloth. And only the ignorant or overly insular had not heard of the intellectual giant at his side. Darkly handsome, keen-eyed Erestor whose wit and sagacity was renowned throughout Elfdom was a striking but pleasing contrast to his fair warrior-lover. Behind them an Elf bearing a lute looked about with curiosity and appreciation. No doubt the celebrated minstrel Lindir was already composing an ode to Greenwood the Great and its citizens.

Riding ahead of them was the silver-haired Lady of Imladris. It was not surprising that the daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel should be a veritable feast for the eyes. Few could match Celebrían’s will-o’-the-wisp comeliness and even fewer knew of the sharp mind that had as much ensnared her husband’s desire as her bountiful allure.

Yet it was the three Peredhil who garnered the lion’s share of everyone’s attention. Their Half-elven heritage manifesting itself most distinctly in the striking beauty of their features, the unusual breadth of their shoulders and chests and the slightly warmer cast of their complexions, Elrond and his twin sons drew everyone’s gazes with ease. No pure-blooded Elf could compete with these scions of the line of Lúthien Tinúviel for sheer magnetism and the uncommon fairness of face and form born of the singular fusing of Maia, Elves and Edain that had gone into their making.

They were a rarity, these Eldar who bore mannish blood in their veins and carried the gift and the burden of determining which kindred they would cleave to.

The brethren Elladan and Elrohir were of particular interest to the Wood-elves. Already as tall as their impressively lofty sire though they were but a score of years past their majority, the twins were breathtakingly beauteous. Mayhap the most beauteous of all their Half-elven house save for the mariner, blessed Eärendil. Their hair midnight hued, their eyes twilight grey and their skin touched by the faint rose of dawn, they could not have faded into the background even had they tried.

The Rivendell contingent dismounted in the great clearing before the delved halls of Eryn Galen’s king. Thranduil son of Oropher stood by the bridge over the dark stream that flowed before his underground palace, his children hurrying to gather behind him. There were seven royal sons in all with Haldoron, the Crown Prince, at the forefront of his brothers as was his right.

From his position between two brothers, young Legolas stared raptly at the Half-elven lord and his sons, not troubling to conceal his awe. The little Elf could not quite believe his eyes that such splendid beings existed.

He tucked a stray silken strand of pale gold hair behind his ear while his sapphire-hued eyes grew bigger and wider as the Imladrin party approached. 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.

This less than kind regard showed itself even now when he was unceremoniously nudged aside by Lalorn, previously Thranduil’s last-born before Legolas’ unexpected advent. In his haste to secure a good position, Lalorn gave little thought to the child he regarded as no more than an annoyance.

Legolas swallowed painfully when he finally found himself behind Lalorn and Galvreth, compelled to peer out from between their hips if he wished to bear witness to the visitors’ arrival. None of the others deigned to come to his aid. Not Aelluin or Nimaras or Elivorn. He forced back tears of woe and frustration.

It was not that he was unused to such inconsiderate treatment. He knew no other with his brothers. But Thranduil bestowed enough loving attention on him when he found the time, scant as it was, for the Elfling to know that there was much more to life than being the butt of the others’ scorn.

It was a scorn he did not understand. He had never done anything to merit it. Indeed, he did his best to keep out of their way that he might avoid their gibes and occasional hurtful jests. Better to be neglected than actively goaded to tears. He had no recollections of a time when they had shown him fraternal affection. Mayhap they had when he was a newborn but as far as his conscious memory went, he remembered nothing of the kind.

It could be worse, Legolas knew. When their moods darkened, they vented their ire on him without a moment’s thought. Verbally of course or through unkind acts. They were not so foolish as to actually lay a hand on him and gain their father’s umbrage. Nor were they evil despite their habitual loutish behavior toward the youngest of their family.

It could be worse. But Legolas also knew it could be better. He longed for a day when he would know more of the latter and leave the former behind.

Meanwhile, his father was busy welcoming Elrond and his family. Thranduil had not seen how the littlest prince had been brusquely thrust behind his other sons. He was intent on greeting his guests with all due propriety. He would not give these Noldor reason to think the Woodland Realm some backwater kingdom lacking in Elves of good manner.

Legolas wistfully watched the proceedings from his obscured position. His eyes fell on the Peredhel twin nearest to him when said twin paid his respects to Thranduil. He wondered which twin this was. They were so alike he could not discern any distinctive differences between them. So intent was he on looking for any distinguishing marks to tell them apart that he was startled when he heard what the twin was saying.

“My lord king, are you so shamed by your younglings that you hide them from your guests?”

There was a concerted gasp from amongst the Greenwood Elves while Thranduil stared at Elrond’s son, taken aback by his directness and impertinence. Elrond and Celebrían were seen to purse their lips in an obvious effort to stifle either scowl or smile while behind them Erestor looked down with sudden interest at the grass beneath his feet. Glorfindel was more forthcoming with his reaction and the Rivendell captain rolled his eyes in tacit expression of his opinion.

Thranduil quickly collected his wits and replied with some asperity. “We are proud of our younglings,” he stiffly said. “What gave you reason to think otherwise?”

Legolas caught his breath when the twin suddenly turned his head, looked down and trained his grey eyes on him though he stood half hidden behind his brothers.

“Forgive me, Majesty, but I was led to believe ‘twas your custom,” the twin answered evenly. “Else why was that little one so hastily shoved behind the ranks of your sons when we neared you?”

Another gasp rippled through the assembled Elves at his bluntness. Thranduil spun around and glared at his suddenly red-faced sons. They swiftly parted to reveal the tiny Elfling who cowered in their collective shadow.

Before anyone could speak, the twin strode toward the quaking child and, reaching out a friendly hand, softly queried, “And who might you be, lass dithen?”—little leaf.

Legolas gaped at him in surprise before managing a timid squeak of an answer. “I am Legolas Thranduilion.”

“Well met, Legolas,” the twin said with a smile, taking the Elfling’s small hesitantly proffered hand in his. “Elrohir Peredhel at your service. And methinks you need it,” he added in a whisper that only Legolas heard.

The little Elf’s eyes widened in astonishment. The astonishment evolved into shock when Elrohir gently pulled him from behind and led him to the Elvenking’s side. He looked up uncertainly at his father. Thranduil smiled reassuringly at him, placing a hand on his shoulder, before casting a chastening glower at his older suddenly abashed sons. Legolas observed it all in disbelief.

He sneaked a look at Elrohir. Elf-knight, he thought. ‘Twas a fitting name for one as gallant as Elrond’s younger son, he deemed with a child’s simple judgment. Feeling the princeling’s eyes on him, Elrohir met his gaze then winked at him conspiratorially.

In that instant, Legolas decided that this was the hero at whose altar he would gladly worship forever.

laer – Sindarin for summer
Peredhil (sing. Peredhel) – Half-elven/Half-elves
Edain – Men, specifically of the Three Houses of the Edain in the First Age
Haldoron – great oak
Aelluin – blue mere
Elivorn – dark lake
Galvreth – shining beech
Nimaras – white stag
Lalorn – elm tree
Thranduilion – son of Thranduil

To be continued…