Summary: A trip to Imladris is not everything Legolas expects it to be when he meets Lord Elrond's foster son, four year old Estel.



Never, In All My Days…

By Nieriel Raina


Chapter 1

Some Quiet Time To Himself


Year 2935 Third Age


The morning had been fairly uneventful, unless one considered sitting through three separate meetings with Lord Elrond and several advisors exciting. 'And I do not,' the fair-headed elf thought as he slipped into the library to finish several reports he had been asked to prepare on the recent orc activities he had observed, which stretched from the pass across the Misty Mountains to near the borders of Imladris. 


He worked determinedly through the mid-day meal, gladly foregoing eating so that he could put this mundane work behind him and get outside to enjoy the lovely day. The quill scratched lightly over parchment as he wrote, pausing every so often to dip into the inkwell. The golden-haired warrior scanned several documents, checking the notes he had made of what he had seen. His eyes strayed to the window and he looked longingly at the trees within sight. He had never been an elf who enjoyed being cooped up under a roof when the sun was shining. He much preferred the trees and gardens surrounding the Last Homely House to the lavish rooms and libraries and spent as much of his time outdoors as possible when he was here.


Completing the last of the reports early in the afternoon, he hurriedly signed his name to the last parchment with a flourish and stood, stretching the stiff muscles in his back and legs. As much as this kind of work was necessary, he was pleased to have it finished for a time. Gathering the papers, he left the library behind, and strode towards Lord Elrond’s study.


“You asked that these be completed today,” he told the dark-haired elf, who was seated at a desk in the office outside the Lord of Imladris’ study. As the fair-headed elf placed the parchments on the oak desktop, he met the other’s eyes and waited for a response.


Erestor picked up the reports and scanned them briefly. “Yes, these are most helpful. Thank you, Glorfindel. I will see Lord Elrond gets them immediately.” Lord Elrond’s chief counselor inclined his head slightly in dismissal as he stood and hurried through the study door, closing it firmly behind him.


'Pompous elf!' Sometimes the prim and proper Erestor truly got on the elf-lord’s nerves! Releasing the breath he had been holding, the Captain of Imladris shook himself in relief. 'Finally,' Glorfindel thought. 'Now I am free for the rest of the day, if I can only avoid running into anyone else who requires my assistance!' The tall, golden-haired warrior quickly left the vicinity of Lord Elrond’s study before Erestor found him something else to do. He headed for his rooms to change from his formal robes into a comfortable tunic and leggings.


A short while later, Glorfindel closed the door to his chambers feeling more like himself. He walked purposefully down the halls of the Last Homely House, determined to spend the rest of his afternoon outside under the trees. With his duties finally complete, and not due to rejoin the border patrols for another week, Glorfindel looked forward to some quiet time to himself. He picked up his pace, anticipating the warm sunshine on his face and the wind playing in his hair.


Turning a corner, an unexpected blur crashed into his legs. Glancing down, Glorfindel discovered four-year-old Estel looking quite dazed by his collision with the tall elf’s legs. The child’s blue-grey eyes turned upwards, growing huge and almost fearful, before turning pleading.


“Hide me! Hide me, quick! They are going to get me!” Estel begged, practically vibrating in agitation.


Glorfindel frowned, his brow creasing faintly. “Who is going to get you, Estel? What have you done? Are you in trouble?” The elf-lord knew of the small boy’s penchant for mischief and aptitude for disappearing in the aftermath, and he would not be a party to the child avoiding responsibility for his actions.


“Please! You gotta hide me, quick! It’s Leg’las’ turn and he’s really good! An’ I heard El’orir and ‘Ladan say they was gonna help ‘im.” Estel blinked bright hopeful eyes at the usually serious and somber elf who helped his Ada.


A slow smile began to grow across Glorfindel’s face as he realized the boy was simply playing a game of hide-and-seek with Prince Legolas of Mirkwood and the twin sons of Elrond. How long had it been since he had enjoyed such a simple child’s game? 'TOO long!' Glorfindel surmised.


The elf-lord’s smile became a fetching grin. “Come Estel! I know just the place!”


The little boy’s eyes grew wide in amazement. He had not expected this elf to help him, not really. “Thank you, G’orfin’el! OH! Thank you!” Estel bounced up and down on his toes in excitement.


Glorfindel could feel the child’s happiness as he took Estel’s hand and led him in the direction of his favorite garden, which required backtracking through several rooms and corridors of the Last Homely House. They moved stealthily through the house, to avoid being seen by the many elves bustling about their daily tasks. The elf-lord would leave no witnesses who could give away their choice of hiding place.


Surprisingly, the elf-lord of Gondolin found himself having great fun sneaking through the house on such a mission. Crawling past the back of a sofa, the Balrog-slayer caught himself giggling with the young boy and wondered if his own eyes were shining with as much mirth as those of his small counterpart.


As they left the cover of a heavy set of drapes, once again on their hands and knees, a voice stopped the mighty elven-warrior in his tracks.


“And just what, pray tell, are you doing?”


Glorfindel froze, his eyes closing in a grimace. He looked up into the face of a very amused Erestor and cleared his throat. “I am playing with Estel. What does it look like I am doing?” The usually intimidating elf-lord raised an elegant brow, refusing to show any signs of discomfiture at being caught on all fours.


Erestor grinned. “Can anyone play, or is this an exclusive game?”


Glorfindel blinked.


“You can play, ‘Re’sor! We’re hidin’ from Leg’las and my brothers! Come on!” Estel grabbed the counselor’s hand and jerked the surprised and usually dignified elf to his knees. “We have to be careful, so nobody sees us,” Estel whispered, continuing on his hands and knees past a large chair and through a doorway.


Glorfindel looked at Erestor questioningly, but the elf just shrugged his shoulders as best he could from his position on all fours and motioned the Captain onwards after the little boy with a tilt of his head. The elf-lord hesitated for a moment, before shrugging internally himself. 'Why not?' he thought.  'If I’m to make an idiot of myself, might as well bring Erestor with me. If we are both gallivanting about with Estel, then he cannot tease me mercilessly about it later.'




The dark and golden haired elves quickly crawled after the nimble child, completely unaware of the amused eyes fastened upon them. Elrond shook his head in disbelief, holding in his chuckles until after the strange threesome had left hearing range. 'Never, in all my days…'


The Lord of Imladris ceased his soft laughter as he made a decision. Stealthily, he followed at a discreet distance. This, after all, he had to see…


Chapter 2

It Would Not Be The First Time


Legolas was completely at a loss. He entered another room of the Last Homely House, searching every shadowed corner, every cabinet and behind every piece of furniture. But once again, he came up empty-handed. The prince frowned to himself.


He was here in Imladris as official courier, though the prince strongly suspected the king had devised some excuse to send him specifically, hoping he would find some rest and healing after an especially difficult year. With the darkness in Mirkwood spreading, and the Shadow in the south pushing further north and engaging the elven patrols regularly. There had been many casualties over the last months, including three elves in Legolas’ patrol, with whom he had been close. Legolas supposed the king believed a couple months in the haven of Imladris with the twin sons of Elrond would help soothe the pain of those losses.


The golden-haired prince knew it would take more than his time here to heal the internal wounds. Those three elves had been some of his closest friends for centuries. The pain of their deaths was not an injury Lord Elrond could treat, only time would soothe the ache left by the death of those dear to him.


Legolas had anticipated going out with the twins on patrol, or spending some time lounging in the many beautiful gardens surrounded by rushing waterfalls. What he had not expected was the small human child who was being fostered by Lord Elrond and whom Elladan and Elrohir saw as a younger brother. As one of the youngest elves in Mirkwood, Legolas did not have much experience with children, other than his infrequent visits to Laketown handling certain affairs for the Woodland Realm. He found the human youngsters he came across quite amusing with their antics and games.


Four year old Estel was one of the most delightful children the prince had ever encountered. When he first arrived two weeks ago, Legolas had been unsure of the child and how to respond to him, but Estel had grabbed his hand and led him on a tour of ‘his’ garden. It had been strange and uncomfortable at first, spending time with a child, but after a few days, Legolas warmed up to the small boy. Since his arrival, the Mirkwood prince found himself involved in more games than he had played since he was an elfling…and enjoying them immensely. He did not miss the patrols or the sparring he usually engaged in while visiting Imladris. Instead, he woke each morning looking forward to a new game or chatting with the bright-eyed, energetic boy who had captured his heart.


The fair-headed elf shook his head in dismay as he looked behind a curtain. Nothing. He had turned the place upside down, it seemed, and could not find the small boy he was hunting. Looking around the room one more time for any hiding place he might have missed, he wondered if the twins had perhaps had any luck.


That was when a shadow darkened the doorway to the porch outside, and Legolas narrowed his eyes, trying to make out the face of the elf who was slinking around the side of the Last Homely house. The elf never turned in his direction, but from what Legolas could see, he resembled Lord Elrond. Surely, he must be mistaken, for the Lord of Imladris wouldn't be skulking around outside his house. The mysterious elf seemed to have his attention focused on something beyond the porch, so Legolas moved to the doorway and looked in the same direction. He was surprised to see the object of his search in the company of two tall guardians, one golden-haired in casual tunic and leggings, the other with dark locks wearing more formal attire. Estel was chattering excitedly, and both elves and the child were looking constantly over their shoulders, as if trying to avoid being seen as they headed for the furthest garden near the high falls. 


Legolas grinned to himself and headed for a different exit from the house. It would seem little Estel had enlisted help finding a better hiding place. Now that he knew where to look, Legolas would give the child more time to think he had succeeded in throwing his new friend off track.


A nagging sense that he had forgotten something tugged at the back of his mind, pausing him momentarily, but the arrival of Elladan and Elrohir distracted him from the elf moving discreetly from tree to tree outside, and instead the prince told them of Estel and his unusual helpers. Together, the three elves moved towards the back of the house and the trail that would lead to above the high falls, where they could observe the garden unseen.   




And so, Lord Elrond continued trailing his prey undetected, a smile on his face as he watched his small son laugh, swinging from the arms of his Captain and chief counselor.




The garden was one of the most breathtaking in Imladris and Glorfindel’s favorite for the fact it was a more natural setting, very different from the meticulously manicured gardens preferred by many elves in the valley. The small plot sat further from the Last Homely House than the others, actually part of the rocky hillside around the valley and overlooking the most beautiful falls, lying right against the gorge where the water tumbled down. Smaller, hardy evergreen trees were here, fitting for the rocky slope. Mosses and plants which grew easily in rocky areas filled haphazard beds. The only true sign that it was a garden, rather than just part of the surrounding slope, was a low fieldstone wall along the edge keeping visitors and small children from straying too close to the rim of the rocky ledge that sheered off into the water below.


In the center of the garden, Glorfindel sat under one of the largest trees, an old oak, somewhat out of place on the sloping, rocky hillside. His head rested comfortably against the bark of the gnarled trunk as he watched Estel’s antics. The child was bouncing from one flowerbed to another, Erestor following after the boy as Estel insisted on showing the elf every flower and stone in the garden.


Glorfindel sighed in pleasure. Ah, outdoors, a happy child, even an amused Erestor…perfect. A bird began to sing on a branch above him and his eyes slid shut as he listened to the perfect melody. A light wind teased strands of his golden hair, drifting them across his face. The elf-lord allowed himself to relax completely, letting himself become one with the nature around him.


Estel’s childish chatter drifted to him and he could not stop the grin that spread across his face. Erestor was answering question after question, and Glorfindel found himself wishing the councilor would incorporate more ‘hands-on’ instruction such as this in Estel’s lessons. Elrond’s chief counselor had recently agreed to be one of the child’s most prominent tutors…at least in certain areas of study such as history, reading and writing.


Cracking an eye open, the elf-lord watched Estel point excitedly at a flower hanging just over the low wall separating him from a sharp drop.


“Please, ‘Re’sor? I could give it to Ada! He would like it…it would make him smile. Ada likes pretty things.” Estel begged the dark-haired elf to retrieve the bright red blossom dangling just out of reach.


Erestor looked at the blossom, then back at the small boy, a look of uncertainty on his face. Then the elf smiled and patted Estel on the head. “Why not? I think it would look lovely on Lord Elrond’s desk. I even have a nice vase in which you can put it.” Erestor reached out for the flower, leaning slightly against the stone wall.


It all happened so fast, Glorfindel hardly had time to think. He sensed a change and a warning came to his lips, only a split second too late. A rumble of rock sounded, and the ground shifted beneath the barrier on the edge of the rock face. The section of wall Erestor was leaning against crumbled, giving way. The elf found himself falling with the stones, slipping over the edge of the gorge towards the water and sharp boulders some distance below.


’RE‘SOR!!” Estel cried out, terrified as he watched the ancient elf fall.


Glorfindel was on his feet even as the rock began to give way. He ran swiftly, his long strides bringing him to the wall as Erestor slipped over. The tall elf lord dove for the dark haired elf, sliding to the edge through the hole in the wall on his stomach, reaching for the falling elf.


Sharp, loose stones bit cruelly through his tunic and into skin. Hanging halfway over the lip, Glorfindel caught the plummeting elf by the wrist with one hand, but Erestor’s momentum pulled them both further downwards. Spreading his legs outwards, the elf-lord managed to catch his feet on the remnants of the wall surrounding the newly formed opening. It would not hold them for very long. He looked down into the terrified eyes of the dangling elf.


“Hang on! I will pull you up…somehow.” Glorfindel began to use his free hand to try to find a way to reverse their downhill path. His fumbling with the rock face caused him to slip a little further, jerking Erestor when it stopped.


“Let me go, Glorfindel! You cannot pull us both up! You will only get us both killed!” Erestor yelled, trying to loosen his friend’s fingers.


The golden-haired elf tightened his hold on the elf’s wrist. “If you go, I am going with you! I will not release you!” Glorfindel returned, continuing to try somehow to inch backwards.


“You always were a fool! Do you wish to die again?” Erestor asked, still prying at the vise-like grip holding him.


“It would not be the first time I have fallen off a rocky cliff, though I do believe I had better company last time! Now cease your struggling, it is not helping!” He narrowed his eyes at the irritating counselor below.


“Better company? Last time you fell with a Balrog!” Erestor complained.


Glorfindel smirked, “EXACTLY! Now, be still or I swear I will haunt your every step in Mandos’ Halls, and you will never be rid of me!”


The struggling ceased. Above, the lord of Gondolin felt something grab onto his left leg and he risked a glance over his shoulder. Estel had latched onto the leg and was pulling with all his might, but a four year old boy could have no effect against the weight of two grown elves.


Sensing his tenuous hold slipping, the elf yelled up at the child. “Let go, Estel! Release me and go find help!”


Estel shook his head violently, a determined look on that small face. The little boy continued to yank and pull at the elf’s leggings, stubbornness unfathomable in his blue-grey eyes.  But the tugging was too much for the rock wall; it crumbled more and with a cascade of dust and rock, the two elves fell. Behind him, the last thing Glorfindel heard Estel’s terrified scream, and then all went dark.

Chapter 3

Ever So Slowly And Painfully


"I have never seen anything like this before. I am unsure whether to be amused or frightened! Not only has Estel lured Erestor from his offices, but he actually looks as if he is enjoying the garden!" Elladan stood behind a large rock, peering down at the garden from the ledge near the high falls. He turned his head and looked at his twin with a raised brow.


Elrohir grinned at him. "We should allow them their fun, brother. And enjoy the break from sibling caretaking. As much as I love Estel, he can be trying after a time." The elf stretched out on a small grassy plot and closed his eyes with a smile.


Legolas smiled at them from his place on a branch in a tree. From here he could also see the garden and the small child wandering around it with Erestor in tow. Glorfindel was no where to be seen, however, and the prince wondered if he had abandoned the Chief Councilor and small child to seek some solitude. Legolas had noted in his years visiting Imladris that the ancient elf-lord enjoyed time alone outdoors. Legolas greatly admired the Captain of Imladris who had spent some of his valuable free time over the years training him in swordplay and beating him in Tâd Erain, a popular game of strategy among the elves of Imladris. The thought reminded him that Glorfindel owed him a rematch from his last visit when the game had been called due to orcs seen roaming the wilds near the valley.


Erestor, however, was an elf Legolas thought he would never understand. He did not think he had ever seen the elf outdoors before, and he was almost positive he had never seen the Chief Councilor without a scroll or pen in his hand. Erestor was probably the most organized person he had ever met. The prince admired Erestor's sense of duty to Elrond and his dedication to his work, but as a Wood Elf, Legolas could not fathom spending that much time indoors pouring over papers.


The Prince of Mirkwood leaned back against the trunk of the tree and closed his eyes. If Estel was with Erestor, he was in good hands. The sun warmed his face and as he sat enjoying the soft caress of its rays, he began to sing softly. Elrohir joined his song from his place on the grass and Legolas smiled. It was good to be here among friends with no worries of danger, no sense of foreboding pressing upon him as it did at home.


The minutes passed slowly, and the calm surrounding the serene hillside eased the ache in the prince's heart. The loss of his companions back home still weighed heavily upon Legolas' spirit, but it was times like these, just being in a place of tranquility with friends who knew him well enough to let him grieve his own way, which helped him the most. He drifted along with the song of the trees, finding solace in their medley.


His peace was shattered, however, when his senses suddenly flared to life, warning him of imminent danger. The trees were troubled! Legolas' eyes snapped open a moment before Elladan cried out in alarm. He was on his feet rapidly and scanning with his sharp eyes for the peril he had sensed. Elrohir joined his brother at the rock ledge and all three looked in horror at the place Elladan was pointing.


There at the edge of the garden Legolas could clearly see Erestor dangling from Glorfindel's grip. Both elves seemed to be suspended from nothing, and Legolas could not fathom how the elf-lord was holding himself in place. Slight movement at the lip of the cliff, near a broken section of wall, caught the prince's eye and he gasped as he realized it was Estel holding onto Glorfindel's leg.


"Estel is still there, near the edge!" Legolas cried. "We need to help them quickly before they all fall down that gorge."


"I know a shortcut!" Elladan called, already heading up the dangerous slope. Where they had rested was across the gorge from the garden, and not an easy trip to make quickly. Yet, the three elves scrambled with haste, their sure feet flying over the rocks as they raced up the ridge to the stream.




A fallen log served as a foot bridge across the gurgling water, and the elves darted across it without a thought, running all out down the slope towards the garden just below. Elrohir shot ahead of them, sprinting down the paths, and dodging trees. As they approached the wall, he leapt clear over it, landing cleanly on the other side, continuing his dash to Estel.


Legolas and Elladan were right on his heels and both gasped when Elrohir all but slid over the edge of the cliff in his haste to grab Estel. Just as he approached, Glorfindel's feet slipped, and Elrohir caught Estel right before the child was pulled over with the two elves. Estel screamed and reached around his brother, trying get to the elves who had fallen down the steep drop.


"Estel! Estel, you must stop!" Elrohir pleaded, lifting the child and moving him from the edge. He grabbed the child's chin with one hand, forcing Estel to look up at him. "I want to help Glorfindel and Erestor, too, but I need your help right now!"


The boy instantly stopped his squirming. Tears streamed down his dirty cheeks, leaving twin trails through the dust. "Help 'em, Elorir! Please!"


Elrohir sat Estel down and kneeled in front of him. "I need you to stay away from the edge, little brother." He glanced at Elladan and Legolas leaning over the sheer drop, calling down to the fallen elves. Looking back at Estel, he hated what he was about to do, but felt he had no choice. "Estel, look at me." The boy's grey eyes snapped back to his and Elrohir took a steadying breath. "I need you to go back to the House, Estel. I need you to tell someone we need help. Find Ada or Lindir…anyone! Tell them what has happened. Tell anyone you find first! Do you understand?" Estel nodded quickly and turned to run. "Walk! Do not run down the hill. You cannot help us if you are injured!" Estel nodded again, and walked quickly down the path toward the gate.


Elrohir turned back to the broken wall and his brother and Legolas. He carefully peered over the edge, afraid of what he would find. His eyes widened in shock. Somehow, Erestor had managed to grab hold of a root of some kind, and Glorfindel now hung limply from his grip. Elrohir grimaced when he saw the blood trickling down the Captain's face  from a cut somewhere above his hairline. The elf-lord appeared to be unconscious.


"Hang on, Erestor," Elladan called.


The Chief Councilor looked up dryly. "Do you expect me to purposely let go? I thought you were smarter than that, child." Something, almost akin to a grin twitched the advisor's lips. It fled when he glanced down at the elf dangling from his grasp. "Do something quickly, Elladan. I do not know how much longer I can hold Glorfindel. My grip is slowly slipping!"


"We will figure something out. There must be someway we can pull you up!" Elrohir called down. He glanced at Legolas. The prince's eyes were traveling up and down the cliff face, and his expression was one of contemplation. Legolas was planning something…and Elrohir did not think he would like it.


When he turned to meet Elrohir's eyes, Legolas smiled grimly. We can form a chain. If we each link to the other, I think we could reach them. They are not that far down."


"Have you lost your mind?" Elladan exclaimed. "We cannot reach them that way!"


"Why not? The distance is not far. I have done this at home many times with my patrol when we have no rope. Sometimes it is the only way to rescue an elf caught in a spider web." Legolas' eyes gleamed with hope.


"We do not have much choice, Elladan," Elrohir interrupted when he noticed Glorfindel slip a tiny bit further in Erestor's grip. "You can be the one at the top. I will try anything at this point!"


"Very well. But if we all fall…" Elladan's words were cut off.


"It will not matter very much. We will not be conscious for a very long time," Legolas retorted in irritation. Quickly he outlined what they needed to do.


Slowly, Elrohir and Elladan lowered Legolas down the cliff face. As the one experienced in this form of rescue, Legolas had volunteered to be at the bottom of the chain. Each son of Elrond lay on their stomachs holding onto a leg as they inched the prince downwards. When Legolas could be lowered no further, Elrohir took both legs and Elladan scooted back to grab his ankles. He was pushed forward and slowly he and Legolas were lowered to the dangling elves below.


As he felt himself reaching probably the furthest Elladan could lower them, Elrohir noticed Legolas could just reach Erestor's hand and arm. The prince grabbed hold of the Advisor's wrist and Erestor released the root to grasp Legolas' arm in turn. That was when it dawned on Elrohir that Elladan would not be able to hold all their weights single-handedly.


"Legolas? We will all fall! Elladan cannot hold us all for long!" Elrohir shouted downwards.


"He will not have to," Legolas returned. "I will take Glorfindel, and Erestor will climb up us. IF he does that quickly, Elladan should be able to hold us for that long."


Erestor's eyes widened and he gulped. "Climb up…" Slowly he lifted his arm, straining to lift the unconscious form of Glorfindel. Legolas grabbed the elf with his free hand and encouraged the Chief Councilor to start climbing.


Ever so slowly…and painfully, Elrohir thought, watching Erestor's foot connect with Legolas' ear, Erestor moved upwards. But even as he climbed, Elrohir felt Elladan's grip on his ankles slipping. "Erestor! You must climb faster…Elladan is going to lose his grip!"


"I have you!" Elladan called down to them, but Elrohir could hear the strain in his voice. They were running out of time.


As Erestor moved up his body, Elrohir felt his own grip on Legolas beginning to slip. When Erestor's foot came down on his hand, the son of Elrond yelped, and Legolas' ankle slipped from his hand. With the weight shifted, he found he could not hold onto the other either.


"Legolas! I’m losing you!" he cried, as the prince's other ankle slipped from his hand.


Tâd Erain - means 'two kings'. My name for a Middle Earth form of chess.


Chapter 4

Things He Needed To Do

(Earlier that day…)


A bird chirped from a branch low on a tree as it eyed the dark-haired elf hiding behind the trunk. The elf looked up sharply and silently bid the creature to hush and not give away his position. The small red bird cocked its head to the side and eyed the elf-lord disdainfully before spreading its small wings and flittering off to another tree.


Elrond breathed a sigh of relief, and turned his eyes back to the endearing sight of Estel leading Erestor around the high garden. He shook his head in astonishment. The child would never cease to amaze him with his ability to get people to open up to him. Estel was gifted when it came to dealing with people, be they human or elf. The elf-lord would not put it past the little boy to befriend a dwarf.


As the sun slowly began its descent, Elrond realized he could not stay any longer. Looking wistfully at his friends and small son, Elrond smiled. With Estel under the watchful eyes of Erestor and Glorfindel, he had no fear for his foster son in this otherwise dangerous environment. He wished he could join them, but alas, he could not. Others might have time to play, but today, Elrond had things he needed to do. Smiling softly, he turned and headed back to the Last Homely House and his study.


As the elf-lord made his way down the path towards the Last Homely House, he hummed softly to himself, enjoying the beauty of the late afternoon. He was halfway down the path when a loud clattering from the gorge rang in his ears. He turned and studied the area, but from where he stood, he could see nothing of significance. Shrugging slightly, he continued on his path. The rocky gorge was frequently giving up parts of itself to the flowing water below, so it was not something worthy of noting.


Walking a short distance further, Elrond paused momentarily as he considered the noise and the fact his youngest was still up on the hillside in the garden. But he quickly berated himself. Glorfindel and Erestor would not let Estel come to harm and there was a wall to prevent a child from falling over the edge. Without further thought on the matter, Elrond continued back to the house.




Estel walked as fast as his short legs would carry him. The smooth and well-worn path beneath his feet did not once hinder him as he obeyed Elrohir and walked. But as he trod down the path, tears coursed down his cheeks. His little boy's mind was sure that his two new friends were dead, and that was wrong, for elves are not supposed to die! Even he knew that.


Sniffling, the child reached the bottom, and once on the flat path, he broke into a run. Not far ahead of him was the one person he needed right now more than anything else…his Ada.




Elrond walked swiftly through the herb garden and back in the direction of the high falls. A sense of dread had filled him since he had heard the rock-fall in the gorge. Discovering his sons and Prince Legolas had been seen heading in that direction only intensified the fear in his heart. If the twins and Legolas were up there with that clatter, one of them was sure to be hurt.


Suddenly, a small form darted around a corner not far ahead of him. Elrond gasped, as he realized it was his youngest child. "Estel!" He caught the child and held him by the arms, waiting for the boy to speak, alarmed at the panic in Estel's eyes. Surely his fears for his children were well-founded, for Estel's dash down the path confirmed his sense of unease. Why else would Glorfindel and Erestor allow the child to come back on his own?


"ADA!" Estel gasped out, still breathing heavily from his run. " ‘Re’sor and G’orfin’el fell! You have to help 'em, Ada! El’orir said to find you and bring help! Come on!" The child grabbed his hand and pulled, but it took Elrond a moment to comprehend what Estel was saying.


As understanding dawned, Elrond's eyes widened. "Estel, go inside the house. Find anyone you can and tell them what you told me. Tell them I said to send more help and bring rope. Can you do that, son?" Outwardly showing calm and patience, Elrond inwardly was wishing to rush back up that slope! But first, he had to ensure that more help would come to assist in what he hoped was not a serious accident.


Estel nodded his head and dashed towards the house as quickly as he could. Elrond felt a surge of pride in the small boy for obeying quickly and keeping his emotions in check as he accomplished the task given him, but the elf-lord could not allow himself to dwell on his son's accomplishments at the moment. He needed to get back up the hillside quickly! Wishing he was wearing anything but formal robes, the Lord of Imladris drew them up until they did not hinder his steps and ran back up the path towards the gorge.




"LEGOLAS!" Elrohir yelled as the prince's legs slipped from his grasp.


In horror, Elladan watched his brother lose his hold on their friend and Legolas begin to fall, but he gasped in surprise as the prince managed to grab the same root Erestor had clung to minutes ago. The momentum swung the golden-haired elf into the cliff wall, and both twins winced along with their friend at the impact. But it did not shake the Mirkwood warrior loose from his hold, nor did Legolas lose his grasp on Glorfindel, much to Elladan's amazement.


Legolas looked up and grinned at the twins. "Bet you could not have done that!"


Elladan shook his head in bewilderment from his place above the prince. "Only you would think of such a taunt in this situation! What do we do now, oh brilliant one?" the elder son of Elrond inquired with a quirked brow. Holding dangling elves like this was not his idea of a pleasant time.


Below him, Erestor clung unmoving to his brother and Elladan called out in frustration. "Keep climbing, Erestor! You cannot help us like this."


The advisor glanced down briefly, and reassured that Legolas and Glorfindel had not fallen due to his error, began to use Elrohir as a tool to climb upwards once more.


Elrohir grit his teeth as Erestor's feet dug into his ribs. But the advisor changed tactics, straddling him and holding onto Elrohir like a rope while bracing his feet on the rock wall. He began to ascend faster in this manner.


Legolas blinked through a sudden cascade of dust which rained down from Erestor's movement. When it cleared, he called up to them. "Erestor, when you reach the top, you must take Elladan's place! You can then lower him and Elrohir back down to me and we can attempt this again."


The dark-haired secretary glared downwards, "You are crazy! This almost killed us all once and you wish us to try it again? There must be another way!"


"If you can think of one," Legolas yelled back, "then please tell us. Otherwise, you had best hurry. I cannot hold Glorfindel and myself for much longer."




Elladan heard Erestor sigh heavily, but he did not stop his ascent…or offer any other suggestions. Moments later, Erestor clambered over the top of the wall and slid over to take Elladan's ankles. Being lowered in this manner was worse than being the one doing the lowering, Elladan thought, but he kept his musings to himself. Slowly, Elrohir was lowered to where he could reach Legolas' arm.


Elladan frowned. "And just how is this supposed to work now Legolas? You cannot climb up, and neither can Glorfindel, as he appears to be still unconscious. Erestor cannot lift us all!"


Legolas frowned, but returned the hold on Elrohir's arm as he released the root to which he had been clinging. Suddenly, they started to rise! Elladan felt himself being pulled backwards up the cliff face, but he could not see or understand how Erestor was managing this on his own.


Inch by inch, they were all hauled upwards until Elladan was lying on the top. His legs were released and two elves moved forward on either side of him to latch onto Elrohir's legs. Elladan snuck a quick glance at the elf on his right and blinked.




Chapter 5
A Collective Sigh of Relief



Elrond heaved and pulled on Elrohir's legs, slowly lifting the youngest twin to the top of the gorge. Without stopping his work he glanced at his eldest. "I will explain later…keep pulling."


Elladan put aside his amazement at his father's timely arrival and lent his strength to pulling up the other elves. With the three of them working together, Elrohir was quickly raised over the lip of the gorge, and slid back leaving only his head and arms over the edge as he held on to Legolas. It was then fairly easy for them to lift the prince and Glorfindel from the dangerous rock wall.


As soon as both Legolas and Glorfindel lay safely on the top of the cliff, they all released a collective sigh of relief. Carefully, Elrond lay Glorfindel out on the ground a safe distance from the edge of the cliff and began to examine him. Once satisfied his Captain was not severely injured, the healer looked up at the rest of them, concern clearly in his grey eyes. "Is anyone else hurt?" Elrond inquired, scanning each one with experienced, knowing eyes.


Four heads shook in the negative, though Erestor spoke up for all of them. "I believe we are all bruised, but otherwise fine. Glorfindel was hit on the head by a large rock as we began to fall, but the rest of us, for the most part, are simply dirty and sore, I believe."


The twins nodded easily, but Legolas hesitated a fraction of a second…long enough for Elrond to notice. "Where are you hurt, Legolas? And do not tell me you are not, for I can see the pain in your eyes," Elrond chastised the prince, pinning him with such a look, Legolas knew better than to give anything other than a honest answer.


"I believe I bruised a rib pretty badly when I connected with the wall…it might be cracked,  but that is the extent of my injuries." When Elrond lifted a brow, Legolas sighed in exasperation. "I swear, Lord Elrond! That is all!"


Elrond's eyes traveled over the group one more time before his attention returned to the elf lying unconscious on the ground. "If I find you have injuries you are hiding -  any of you - you will wish you had fallen to the bottom of the ravine, instead of withholding such information."


The twins shared a meaningful look, but no one claimed further injury. Elrond quickly determined Glorfindel simply had a severe concussion and would recover completely from his ordeal, but he did not speak it aloud. Movement beside him caused him to turn his head. He looked into Erestor's tormented eyes.


Erestor knelt beside the healer, his eyes scanning Glorfindel's face for signs of life. "Will he recover?" the Chief Councilor asked quietly, lifting one of the Captain's hands and holding it gently in his own.


Elrond smiled slightly. "Yes. He will recover and be his old, ornery self again soon. Before we know it you two will be arguing over petty issues once more." Elrond turned to look at his sons and the prince. "If you three are able, head back down to the House and inform whoever Estel has spoken to that everything will be fine. Ask that a litter is brought up to carry Glorfindel back to the Healing Rooms, but see to it that others bring it up…I want you three bathed and resting when I return."


The three younger elves nodded obediently and headed to the path leading down the hillside.


"Legolas?" Elrond's voice broke the stillness of the late afternoon. The prince turned, wincing as he rotated. "See one of the healers immediately. I will check on you later."


"Yes, my lord." Legolas answered humbly, before turning and grumbling, "It does not hurt THAT much…"


Elrond watched them leave and shook his head with a grin. He turned to meet Erestor's confused expression. "When I heard the rocks fall and was told those three were up here…I assumed they would all be grievously injured. Yet, I find it is you and Glorfindel who were in danger. I never thought I would see the day you two decided to spend a day together enjoying the great outdoors."


Erestor frowned…and moaned. "Actually, we were spending time with Estel," his lips quirked slightly. "We were playing hide-and-seek. I guess we lost."


"I refuse to admit defeat," a soft voice mumbled, bringing Erestor and Elrond's eyes down to wincing Balrog-slayer. Glorfindel slowly lifted a hand to his head. "Though I do not recall crumbling cliffs being a part of the game."


Erestor smiled at his friend. "I am just glad, for once, you were on my side." His expression turned very serious. "I would have died, if not for you, and I am not even injured."



Glorfindel shook his head slightly, but stopped and groaned when the movement caused pain to flare through his temples. "I do not believe you came out of this unscathed. Check him, my lord, he lies." Elrond's brow rose at this and he eyed his Chief Councilor suspiciously.


Erestor grimaced. "Could not keep quiet or stay unconscious long enough to get you back to the house, could you, old goat?"


Glorfindel smirked. "Nay, that would take all the fun out of watching Lord Elrond lecture you on hiding injuries."


"You only admit to them because you could not hide them!" Erestor fumed.


"Ah, so you admit you are hiding injuries, my good Erestor?" Elrond's other brow rose and he blinked, waiting for a response.


His Chief Councilor's shoulder's slumped in defeat as he frowned. "Very well, I believe my wrist is sprained from Glorfindel's weight dropping and I am sure I also have a cracked rib or two."


"All I got was a bump on the head," Glorfindel chuckled.


"And I am surprised you did not break the cliff side with it, hard headed as you are!" Erestor barked back, but his hand did not leave that of his friend, in fact, it squeezed tighter as the two shared a meaningful look. They both smiled. Today had changed everything, and yet, nothing.




A group of elves bearing a litter topped the ridge and entered the garden, followed by a worried Estel. The small boy brushed past the others and threw himself at Erestor who was kneeling beside Lord Elrond and Glorfindel. The advisor grimaced as the boy's arms squeezed him tightly around his injured ribs, but managed to hold in the accompanying grunt of pain.


" 'Res'or! You are okay!" he cried, tears streaming from his steel-colored eyes.


"What about me?" Glorfindel asked in amusement. Estel's head whirled in the direction of the prone elf who had spoken.


"G'orfin'el! I thought you were dead!" the boy cried with wide eyes, releasing Erestor, who sighed with relief at the loss of the pressure against his sides. Estel dropped onto the Captain's chest and hugged him tightly. 


The elf-lord chuckled and squeezed the child back. "Nay, little one. It takes much more than a cliff to stop me." His eyes twinkled as he looked up at Erestor and Elrond who bore looks of astonishment on their faces. As Elrond opened his mouth to comment, Glorfindel cut him off. "At least, when I have had such a great friend as you to help me."


Elrond smiled. "Indeed. Now let us get you on the litter and back to the house where I can tend everyone's injuries."


Blue eyes glittered dangerously. "I am NOT being carried. I can walk just fine," Glorfindel declared indignantly, glaring at Lord Elrond.


Estel, however, patted his hand. "It's all right, G'orfin'el. You're hurt. We know you are strong, but sometimes, you need help when you are hurt. Right, Ada?" the child asked, turning his bright, inquisitive eyes to his father.


"You are correct, Estel," Elrond told him, amusement flickering across his face. "And I am sure the mighty Captain of Imladris is not too prideful to admit he requires aid…and will wish to set an example for others," Elrond finished, his voice tinged with warning.


With a sigh, the concussed elf-lord submitted to the humiliation of being placed on a litter and carried back down to the Last Homely House. On either side of him walked Erestor and Elrond, the latter carrying Estel who clutched Glorfindel's hand tightly in his own.




Legolas stretched slightly, ceasing as a grimace distorted his fair face. He brought a hand to his broken rib and made himself breathe slowly as he relaxed back into his supine position on the bed. He hated being in bed…strongly disliked being cooped up indoors, but Lord Elrond was not about to let any of them out for at least two days. 'Except Elladan and Elrohir,' Legolas thought disdainfully, quite annoyed that the twins had managed to actually avoid injury. At least, for once, it was not his fault he was injured. He wondered if he had ever journeyed to Imladris without receiving some form of hurt along the way or during his stay. Of course, his father would argue that he had the same propensity for being hurt at home, but that was in the line of duty, not almost dying from saving elves falling down a cliff. He snorted to himself. It was almost amusing…almost.


The door to his room slowly swung open and a small, dark head peeped into the room. "Leg'las?"


The prince smiled warmly and gestured for the boy to come to him. Estel ran to the bed and climbed up without thought. Legolas hid his discomfort as the movement caused his rib to burn once more. "Have you come to keep me company, Estel?"


The boy nodded, glancing around the room. "I haven't been in your room before, Leg'las. I like it. You can see the trees from your window," Estel noted by standing on his tip-toes to look out the window that framed the bed.


Legolas frowned. He could not see the trees without rotating, and that was out of the question at this point in time. If Lord Elrond would let him up…he could be out and under the trees, but alas, he was a prisoner in the Last Homely House, for one did not go against the wishes of the Lord of Imladris!


Estel dropped back down beside the elf and studied him, and again Legolas hid his grimace of pain when the boy brushed against him. "Are you sad, Leg'las? I bet you wish you could be outside, huh? I wish I could be outside…but Ada says I have to stay inside and help keep you and 'Res'or and G'orfin'el from getting too orn'ry." The boy tilted his head. "Maybe you could tell me a story about your home, and then you wouldn't be orn'ry?"


It was all Legolas could do not to laugh aloud, but the question and comments had been made in such innocence that the prince acquiesced. "I will tell you a tale of my home, and then you can tell it to Erestor and Glorfindel. How about that?" Estel nodded, his eyes wide in anticipation. Legolas settled him against his uninjured side and began to share the story of how he killed his first great spider.




Lord Elrond peeked into the Prince of Mirkwood's room some time later to find his youngest son sound asleep next to a dozing Legolas. The prince had his arm around the child and his head was tilted down so that their foreheads were nearly touching. Elrond smiled and moved silently to cover his son with a blanket before slipping back out of the room undetected. The door clicked shut softly behind him.


Chapter 6

Pursuit of the Elusive Prey

Shrieking laughter echoed through the rooms of the Last Homely House as a small boy darted around a corner at full speed, his short legs making easy work of the sharp turn. Behind him, the tall, blond elf giving chase hit the rug before the doorway, sliding past it and across the highly-polished floor into a dark-haired elf. They both tumbled to the ground.


"Did you find him?"


"He eluded me! He went through the sitting room."


Both elves scrambled to their feet, hands assisting each other as they stood. Erestor's eyes flashed. "Shall I go around through the library and cut him off? He cannot slip through all our grasps!"


Glorfindel's brow furrowed slightly in thought. "Aye. Go and hurry. I shall continue the pursuit from behind. Perhaps Legolas or the twins will close in from the sides, and then we will have him for sure." Strategy decided, the two quickly clasped hands and grinned at each other before taking off in different directions.




The child never paused in his flight, but continued through the halls and rooms, laughing with delight as he ran. Ahead, mirror images closed in from different directions, their black hair is disarray as they converged on him. Estel kept running, and as all three came together and long arms reached for him, the boy twisted and turned in a manner that imitated a certain fighting maneuver of wood elves, slipping through and leaving his twin brothers grasping only each other. Beyond them, Estel turned another corner, giggling with glee.






Elladan and Elrohir looked at each other in shock. "He learned that from watching Legolas spar with us!" Elrohir howled in disbelief.


"Do not just stand there, brother. After him! He can not escape…not this time!" Elladan growled. The sons of Elrond quickly resumed their pursuit of the elusive prey.



Legolas watched the twins miss the boy and changed his course through the house to match that of Estel. Cutting through a room full of ladies sewing, he paused only to nod at them and politely excuse his interruption, before barreling out the far door, gold hair flying, leaving feminine whispers and giggles in his wake.


A flash of movement caught the corner of his eye, and the prince lunged, tackling what he assumed was Estel to the ground. "Got you!" he declared triumphantly.


Lindir raised a brow from his prone position under the Prince of Mirkwood. "Yes, you do. And I find I am not sure if I wish to know why."


Bright grey eyes darted to the minstrel's face. "Lindir! Forgive me! I thought you were Estel." Legolas pulled himself off the elf, and offered a hand up.


"Yes, of course," the minstrel replied as he stood. "I can understand that. We resemble each other so closely after all." The minstrel's words were spoken dryly, but his serious expression was quickly replaced with a smile. "He was headed towards the library, I believe."


"Thank you!" the prince threw over his shoulder as he tore away, leaving a bemused Lindir shaking his head.


"They will never catch him."




 Estel was slowing now, his little legs growing tired though his blue-grey eyes still shone with the thrill of the chase. From different directions, five elves were closing in on him, and he made a last, mad dash for the library. He ran through the doorway with all five on his heels, and slid to a stop.


His pursuers also managed to come to a halt without trampling the child, and all eyes came to rest on the impressive form of Lord Elrond, standing before them, arms crossed and an eyebrow raised. Slowly the elf-lord lifted an arm and pointed towards an exit.


"Your bath, Estel. Now. Your mother is waiting."


"Yes, Ada," Estel said in a tiny voice. He ducked his chin respectively then looked up from under his brows at his father, his unruly dark curls hanging in disarray around his cherubic face. Elrond dropped his arm and winked at him. The child grinned and skipped happily from the room.


Elrond's eyes turned to the rather sheepish-looking, winded and bruised elves standing before him. He tilted his head questioningly. "Do you mean to tell me that five respected elf-lords could not manage to get a small, human child to his mother for his bath?"


Suddenly, everything in the room was of more interest than Lord Elrond, as all eyes looked anywhere but at the disapproving Lord of Imladris.


Glorfindel, however, quickly regained his composure and stepped forward, proudly meeting Elrond's eyes. "Nay, my lord. We were simply trying to make the experience as fun for the child as possible. Youth is so fleeting among mortals. Surely, we should encourage him to enjoy his childhood to the fullest…considering what he will one day face."


Erestor's lips twitched upwards at the Captain's words, and he came to stand beside his golden-haired friend. "Yes, it is important that he be carefree while he can, my lord. We had him heading in the right direction. It was simply a game."


Both Elrond's eyebrows lifted at his Chief Councilor's remarks. "You, Erestor? Play a child's game? And twice in one month, no less? Surely this is an age of miracles."


"Father," Elladan interjected. "Erestor played with us frequently when we were children. Why should he not do the same with our brother?"


Elrohir's brows lifted, and he smiled. "Yes, if I recall, we played a similar game, as well." The younger twin smiled at the advisor, noting the tightening of the elf's features.


"Yes, of course, we did." Erestor nodded, fighting not to frown at the horrific memories.


Elrond snorted. "You nearly drove every elf in this house insane with your games, my sons. And I will not be thrown off track by this nonsense. Between the five of you, none of you were able to catch Estel and deposit him in his quarters as Gilraen requested. If you cannot catch a four-year-old, how do you manage to kill orcs?" None missed the amused twinkle in the elf-lord's eyes. He was not going to let them live this down.


"My Lord Elrond," Legolas spoke quietly, stepping forward. "I fear this was my fault. I mentioned we could conclude the game of Hide-and-Seek that we had begun. Forgive me. I should have just taken him to his room."


Elrond nodded thoughtfully. "Yes, you should have, for now Gilraen will not have time to oversee Estel's bath herself, since she has plans to spend the evening with the ladies of the house. So I suggest all of you quickly find your way to Estel's chambers and see the child is bathed and put to bed properly, so that she may proceed with her plans."


Five faces broke into large smiles. "As  you wish, Lord Elrond," Legolas replied for all of them, bowing gracefully. As a group they burst from the library, their laughter floating down the halls of the Last Homely House bringing smiles to all who heard it.


And so it was that the Lady Gilraen managed to have a delightful evening sewing with the ladies of Imladris, and a small boy fell asleep to the stories and songs of five elves piled around his room, the memory of which would remain with him for all his days.


The End


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