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Playmates

Chapter 1: Playmates

by Avaril

Author: Bird
Title: Playmates
Series: The Elfling Chronicles #3
Characters: Haldir, Celebrian, Galadriel, Celeborn
Rating: G
Warnings: Violence against toy soldiers
Summary: Another inspiration from the Plot Bunny Generator of Mandos…

Challenge:
Haldir
Celebrian
A Cape
A Gang of Evil Hobbits
Celeborn
"Ai, Elbereth…why me?"

---------------------

The silver-haired warrior crouched in the tall bushes, his matching silver eyes scanning the horizon warily. Squinting he spotted in the distance dozens of short, fat figures wrecking havoc on the innocent elf village. Were they hobbits or dwarves, he could not tell?

Lifting his bow, he leveled his arrow and aimed at the one nearest him. He pulled back on the string, letting it go with an audible twang. The arrow was true to its mark and pierced one of the creatures, which fell over revealing its wide hairy bare feet.

They were hobbits, a nasty gang of evil hobbits.

He loosed arrow after arrow till all the creatures lay scattered around dead. Cautiously, he crept over to the still forms and jostled each one making sure they were truly dead. Proud of himself for single-handedly saving the village, the warrior went to seek the Princess of the Kingdom and thus receive his prize.

----

Celebrian sat quietly hooking her doll's dress up the back, unaware of the ellon standing directly behind her. So he cleared his throat.

"Ahem, Princess…" She ignored him and began to hum a soft tune to herself, diligently working with the stubborn hooks. Becoming frustrated with the elleth, he walked around her and poked his face right in hers.

"AHEM, Princess…" His wide eyes stared at her expectantly as he emphasized `cess', his hands balled up in fists at his side and a scowl on his face.

"Haldir. Go. Away." She didn't look up, still struggling with the hooks. Each time she was able to get one set together another would come undone.

He huffed haughtily. "I just saved you from the gang of Evil Hobbits." He gestured wildly to the area behind her.

Rolling her eyes, she turned her body away from him, keeping her eyes on her work. "If you call a set of wooden soldiers a gang of Evil Hobbits," she replied sarcastically. Haldir allowed himself a moment to look crestfallen as he looked at his toy figures laying all over the ground, his tiny toy arrows sticking out of them. But he pulled himself together.

"I demand that you give me a token for my bravery."

"No. Go. Away."

He was not deterred; he was a very determined elfling.

"Give me the Cloak of Invisibility." He tugged at the suede material draped over her shoulders. She ignored him as long as she could, till his tugging became more frantic. "You promised me the cloak!"

"I did no such thing! Haldir! Let me go! GO AWAY!" Gritting her teeth, she stared him straight in the eye. She tugged back hard so that both fell on the ground and became entangled in the cloak. Struggling to get out of their snare, the two began to fight.

"Give it to me!"

"Get off of me!"

"I saved your ungrateful…"

"Get your foot out of my face!"

"…Warg Poop!"

The sound of tearing cloth silenced and stilled them both. An unholy quiet filled the play area, and both elflings just gaped at each other.

Haldir looked down at his hand to see the long strip of suede material he gripped. He wasn't sure what scared him most – the prospect of Celebrian telling her parents about the ruined garment, or the murderous look she gave him now.

It was her screeching wail that he finally decided was the most terrifying.

"ADA! NANA!" Celebrian wailed, huge tears rolling down her cheeks. The other elfling shook in his little boots, trying desperately to apologize.

"Celebrian! Celebrian! It was an accident! I didn't mean to do it!" He cried, his own torrent of tears bursting forth. She shot him a withering look, but continued in her ear splitting crying. Deciding that he didn't want to be at the scene of the crime when either Lord Celeborn or Lady Galadriel arrived, Haldir stood up and dashed off into the woods still clutching his piece of evidence.

Just as he disappeared, her parents stepped into the small grove. From the appearance of the area both could guess what had happened. Celebrian sat screaming at the top of her lungs clutching her torn garment in her hands, and no Haldir was in sight…as usual.

Celeborn rubbed his temples, feeling a headache starting from his daughter's wailing. His wife was already on the ground clutching the child to her breast, muttering soothing words into her ear. Celebrian's eyes were red and puffy, her voice hoarse from her loud crying, but she eventually calmed down to quieter sniffles.

The silver lord walked over to examine the defeated toy soldiers and pick one up, plucking the arrow from its back. Looking over the elfling's head, Galadriel nodded in the direction Haldir had left in. Celeborn followed her line of sight and also noticed the recently disturbed foliage. Patting her daughter's trembling form, the lady watched her husband leave after the errant child.

------

Haldir crawled up into a tall tree, hiding behind the large leaves. It was not long before he saw Lord Celeborn come through the bushes and stand right below him.

"Now, where could that elfling be," Celeborn mused out loud, knowing the entire time where he was. "I was hoping he would come help me solve a mystery…" Haldir's ears twitched. He knew exactly what mystery Celebrian's ada referred to, and he wouldn't be that easily fooled into revealing his whereabouts.

Celeborn rubbed his chin thoughtful, and continued to think out loud. "Hmm, let me think. What do I know about him? He likes to run and hide. He likes trees. He sometimes likes to play hide and seek. Hmm…where would he hide then?" Looking straight up into the tree, he easily found Haldir cowering behind some especially large leaves. He beckoned the child with one long finger. Kind but stern eyes met Haldir's, and Haldir knew then that he could not hide forever in the tree.

Celeborn's expression softened a bit when he spoke again. "Come down, Haldir. Come tell me what happened…" The small child quickly scrambled down the tree and into his lord's arms, sobbing loudly.

"It was an accident! I-I d-didn't mean to do it!" He sobbed and hiccupped into Celeborn's chest, the lord kneeling in front of him.

"Hush, Haldir. Stop crying, sweet ellon," he murmured softly cradling Haldir's head against him. "I believe you…can you just tell me what happened." Under the careful eyes of the lord, Haldir explained all that had happened, from killing all the evil hobbits to the fight Celebrian and he had had. Celeborn never said anything, just nodded his understanding.

Drying Haldir's tears with the edge of his robe, Celeborn stood and took the small hand in his, patting it reassuringly. The elfling looked up, amazed that he had not been punished or scolded…at least as of yet.

"I believe you have an apology to make," although gentle, his voice brooked no argument, and Haldir followed him, his head hanging in shame at his actions.

They walked back into the small play area where Galadriel and Celebrian still sat. For the most part the elleth's tears were dried, but she was not about to forgive Haldir anytime soon for ripping her cloak. She shot him a murderous look, while he cowered against Celeborn's legs waiting for his cue. A gentle push forward was all it took.

"ImsorryIrippedyourcape…" he mumbled, his eyes down cast in shame; he nervously drew circles in the dirt with his foot. He clasped his hands behind him waiting for Celebrian's reply.

"Humph," Celebrian folded her arms across her chest and turned her nose up in the air, not looking at the humbled ellon before her.

"Celebrian," Celeborn started, a scolding tone in his voice…

"Look him in the eyes, darling, and say `thank you for your apology'." Galadriel quickly finished much gentler than her husband was about to. Celebrian shook her head stubbornly and clenched her eyes shut tight. The two grown elves glanced at each other in exasperation.

Haldir was on the verge of tears again, and Galadriel felt completely sorry for the child. For the most part, Celebrian refused to ever play with boy. She could even imagine how the whole situation had played out. Haldir wishing to have a playmate had bugged Celebrian to play with him till she yelled at him in irritation. Then they had a fight.

But sometimes they would…play.

And then there was the matter of choosing what to play. Haldir mostly wanted to play warrior, and unable to think of a different role for Celebrian, always cast her as a princess in need of saving or an unsavory character to defeat. Once he'd cast her as an Orc spy in the forest of Greenwood. That had not ended well. Celeborn had caught them, she tied up to a tree, and Haldir shooting his toy arrows around her. Luckily he'd missed.

Celebrian almost always wanted to play house or dress-up and would try to make him have tea parties with her dolls. In one case, Galadriel had caught them in her dresses. Haldir had a very unhappy expression, and both were dressed in some of the lady's finest gowns and shoes. It had taken a week for the excessive amount of perfume Celebrian had doused him with to wear off.

Either way, neither ever got what they wanted.

And then there was the matter of Haldir respecting Celebrian's wishes. When a lady says no, the gentleman should respect her decision and leave her alone. The young ellon had yet to master that.

"Celebrian, I promise to never do it again," a very meek Haldir finally said. He looked up at Galadriel, waiting for her reprimand or forgiveness, and then to Celebrian who still snubbed him. His chubby little tear-streaked cheeks made Galadriel pity him all the more. Looking up at her husband, the lady silently pleaded with him to help her out.

"Ahem," the lord cleared his throat, earning the attention of both elflings. "I think I know of a way to solve this problem." He paused for a moment, sifting and organizing his thoughts. Nodding her approval, Galadriel stood and kissed both elflings on their silver heads.

"Listen to what your ada has to say," she gently chided her daughter as she took her leave of them. She smiled knowingly to herself that Celeborn would take care of the problem.

After she was gone, Celeborn crouched down next to both, gently placing his hands on both of their backs. He made them face him and each other, and then took their little hands in his.

"I don't know how to make you two get along, but I do know this…You must learn to, as long as you two have to live under my roof." His silver eyes were serious, his voice soft and gentle though stern.

"But…But! Ada, I don't like him!" Celebrian re-crossed her arms and stuck her tongue at Haldir. He wrinkled his nose in disgust at her and repeated her gesture.

"Well, I don't like ellyth! They stink!" Haldir retorted, clenching his fists at his side.

"Enough!" He raised his voice. Celeborn's headache was worsening. Then softer, "I don't care what you two think of each other. You still must get along! Look at me!" The two shifted their eyes to the lord, a little fearful of his tone. "Haldir," he spoke directly to the elfling. "I want you to leave Celebrian alone when she says `go away' or `no'. Don't tie her to any trees, unwilling or not. Don't shoot arrows at her or her dolls." He recalled with some amusement the day they had found Celebrian's favorite doll a pincushion of arrows. Galadriel had to send him away before he'd laughed in front of the elflings.

He turned to Celebrian. "Celebrian," his voice was equally as stern. "I want you to play with Haldir." She opened her mouth in protest, but he shook his head, and she shut it. "No. You cannot get out of this. He is your brother now, and you must treat him as such. You must play fair, and he will too. You must decide together what to play, you must take turns, and learn to compromise!"

He sighed, and then quickly added. "This doesn't mean you have to play with each other all the time. In no way is that what I mean. BUT, you must play with each other some of the time."

Both children nodded at him, well chastised. However, neither was happy about the arrangement. Celeborn kissed them both on the cheek, hoping that his talk gave them some food for thought, at least for a while. Smiling benevolently, he tousled their hair lovingly and stood to leave. With one last stern look to remind them to play nicely, he left them alone again.

He wasn't twenty feet away when he heard screaming again.

"Sweet Eru," he mumbled, stomping back to the play area. As he stepped through the foliage into the small grove of trees, he stopped a bit stunned at what he saw.

Celebrian had managed to tackle Haldir and had him sprawled out on the ground. She was sitting happily on his back and had continued to work on dressing her doll. The little ellon, however, was screeching his lungs out, his hands and legs pounding the earth beneath him.

Regaining his senses, Celeborn shut his eyes and shook his head thinking, "Ai Elbereth…why me?"