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Hunting Ada

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Thranduil ducked around the corner, a grin forming across his normally
solemn features. He could hear his son's giggles now, the elfling was
getting closer. For one who loved being outdoors as much as Legolas did,
rainy days usually heralded ill temper. Thranduil had suggested their
game of 'Hunting Ada' as much because it would raise Legolas' spirits as
the fact that it would raise his own. It had been a hard week for the
king. Not only had this week marked the anniversary of his wife's death,
but he had had to deal with several difficult petitioners and two
delicate political matters.

He was not sleeping well, partly because of his memories and partly
because of Legolas' residual nightmares from his recent traumas. When
the rains had started, he exercised the privilege he rarely used and
declared that he was taking the day to spend with his son. Surprisingly,
no one complained. He and Legolas had spent the last hour playing in the
twisting halls of the caverns. He moved silently farther down the hall
and ducked around another corner. He would have to allow Legolas to
'find' him soon. It was almost time for their mid day meal. As he waited
and listened, he allowed his mind to wander a bit. His memory drifted
back to a day very long ago and another game of 'Hunting Ada'.

The small blond elfling tiptoed carefully up to the corner and peeked
around it. He sighed and moved forward, seeing no sign of his quarry. He
strained his ears as he walked, constantly listening for the slightest
noise that might betray his quarry's location. His nose worked, too
sniffing the air frequently in the hopes that he would detect the faint
scent of balsam scented soap that his Ada favored. Days like this were
rare. Ada was usually too busy to play and the elfling had to settle for
amusing himself. His nose twitched as it picked up the scent and the
elfling moved a bit more swiftly. He rounded the next corner and caught
a glimpse of his quarry as the larger elf ducked into an alcove.
Readying his toy bow with its rag-wrapped tip, he sped up to the alcove
and fired.

Oropher stumbled back dramatically as the arrow hit him square in the
chest. Laughing, he scooped his son up into his arms and promptly turned
the elfling upside-down. Thranduil's shrieks of laughter echoed up the
corridor. Oropher swung the elfling back upright and tickled his tummy.
Giggles escaped the elfing as he squirmed in his father's grasp. Oropher
laughed again and kissed his son on the forehead.

"Do it again, Ada, do it again!" Thranduil's little face was flushed,
his eyes bright. Oropher chuckled.

"Not right now, little tree frog. We need to go fill our bellies before
we do battle again. I believe there might be a berry tart for an elfling
who goes and washes his hands and face without arguing." He chuckled
again as Thranduil darted off eagerly as soon as his feet touched the
ground.

A giggle, much closer this time, brought Thranduil out of his reverie.
Darting around the corner, Legolas let fly with his toy arrow and struck
his father in the stomach. Thranduil clutched his imaginary wound and
staggered a few steps forward, and then a few steps back before
collapsing in a dramatic sprawl on the floor. Legolas gave a war cry and
pounced on his father who caught him mid-pounce. Tickling ensued.

Several minutes later both father and son picked themselves up from the
floor and dusted their clothing off. Thranduil swung his son up into his
arms and hugged him tightly. Little arms encircled his neck and a soft
voice whispered in his ear.

"I love you, Ada."