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Interrupted Journeys: Part Four--Journeys of Discovery

Chapter 9: Expectations--Part Two

by ellisk

Chapter 9: Expectations--Part Two

“This is absurd!” Lalfien exclaimed as she stalked down the path to the next clearing. “We have gone for weeks without bread or meat other than fish. We have been subsisting on nuts because Thranduil can provide nothing more. Now that we finally have greens, we cannot pick them.”

Beside her, Eregeth nodded and murmured a response.

The other ellyth that had been helping to gather greens that morning could hear most of their complaints as they followed well behind them. Arthiel and Lindomiel ignored them, speaking quietly between themselves about their plans to harvest the sweet birch sap. The rest of the ellyth frowned and put their heads together.

“The nerve of Eregeth to tell her son that he had to help gather dandelion greens because ‘no one else will provide them food.’ Where do they think the bread and meat they ate all winter came from? The skies?” one elleth said contemptuously.

“They have lived in the capital for nearly twenty years now. They know perfectly well that what we gather is shared with everyone, whether their daily tasks allowed them to take part in the gathering or not,” another agreed. “I am tired of their complaints. Perhaps in their village people starved if they did not take part in the gathering, but if that is the case, it is the fault of their own husbands’ mismanagement. Dolwon and Dannenion were village leaders you know, before the king brought them here.”

A third nodded knowingly. “The king must be holding them here as punishment for the mismanagement of their villages. What else? To listen to them talk, it is clear they know nothing of how to run a village.”

“I do not care what led to them being held here. I only wish they would go back to the south. Or to the western border or, better still, out of the forest altogether,” the first elleth said. “They contribute nothing positive, so I would prefer to see them gone.” She looked at Lindomiel. “Do you think you could convince the king to send them away?” she asked in a tone of voice that Lindomiel could not pretend to ignore. All the other ellyth turned to her as well.

Lindomiel returned their gaze impassively and drew a breath to respond that she had little influence over court decisions. Before she could speak, the ellyth heard a pair of frightened squeals followed by the screams and yells of several children. By the time the snorts of a boar reached their ears, they had already broken into a run towards the clearing where the children were awaiting them. Lindomiel’s guard, Hurion, was in the lead, calling a signal that would alert any other warriors that might be in the vicinity to come to their aid.

*~*~*

As Lindomiel rushed into the clearing, her attention was immediately drawn to its far end by the noise of several sows and their young crashing into the underbrush, but the thundering sound of a boar’s charge accompanied by his furious squeals left no doubt in her mind that not all the danger had fled with the sows. She spun around, following the line of boar’s charge and scanned for the children. Their frightened cries drew her eyes immediately to the young oak where they had sheltered. Peering through its leaves, Lindomiel released the breath she was holding when she saw Legolas and his cousins perched on its low branches with the other children.

A heartbeat later, her mind registered the fact that many of the children, including Legolas, were leaning down from the tree, stretching their hands towards the ground. Focusing on that, she realized they were shouting at someone to get up. Heart in her throat, Lindomiel’s eyes darted to the ground below the tree and she saw Maidhien face down on the ground, her arms over her head.

Lindomiel’s eyes flashed towards the child’s mother, Eregeth—she had fallen to her knees while struggling to pull away from the restraining grasps of the other ellyth who were trying to prevent her from running across the boar’s charge to pick up her daughter. For a split second, Lindomiel considered dashing forward herself, but it would have been a fruitless effort. Even an elf could not have outraced the boar to the tree. She would have likely been run down herself and worse still she would have blocked their best hope of stopping the boar’s charge—a well-placed arrow.

The sound of bending wood pulled Lindomiel’s gaze to her guard. He had reached full draw on his bow and Lindomiel turned to him in time to watch his arrow leap from his bowstring and fly towards its target. The clearing fell eerily silent as everyone—the adults and children—held their breath, waiting to see if one arrow would fell the boar. The arrow struck the boar behind its shoulder blades, wedging itself deep in its body. The boar screeched in pain, staggered to its side and then righted itself.

“Come here!” Hurion snarled, hoping to divert the boar’s attention, as he slid another arrow from his quiver and fit it against his bowstring. The ellyth began clapping their hands and shouting as well in an effort to draw the boar away from the tree.

The boar swung its head in the direction of the adults, snorting menacingly, but it stubbornly did not turn away from its original victim. Stumbling slightly, but even further enraged, it resumed its course towards the tree without ever completely faltering in its forward motion.

Most of the children, now panicked, began to shout again for Maidhien to get up. Lindomiel saw Legolas look swiftly between Maidhien, the guard taking aim at the boar, and the boar itself, which was again gathering momentum in its charge. She gasped and began to rush forward when Legolas exchanged a determined look with his cousins and then leapt from the safety of the branch to the ground below. Berior followed him.

A bruising grasp on her upper arm stopped Lindomiel from running towards the tree. Focused entirely on Legolas, who, along with Berior, was hauling Maidhien to her feet and pulling her behind the tree, Lindomiel angrily tried to shake off the hand. When she failed, she turned, intending to demand the person release her. Her jaw dropped when she realized it was Hurion holding her back, his bow idle at his side in his other hand.

“Have you lost your mind?” she yelled. “Shoot the boar!”

“I cannot, my lady,” he answered and Lindomiel was aware that he was saying something else about not allowing all of his charges to rush into danger, but she did not really hear him. Her attention had been drawn back to the tree when the boar again loosed a surprised and agonized scream. She immediately realized why the guard could not take another shot—Galithil was hanging onto the boar, one hand grasping the arrow in its side, the other grasping something that he had driven into the boar’s other flank.

As Legolas and Berior lifted Maidhien within the reach of her brother and the other children straining to pull her into the tree, Galithil struggled to wrap his legs around the boar’s broad body in an attempt to remain on its back, out of the reach of its dangerous tusks. The boar bucked wildly, shaking Galithil so that his legs flailed in the air, but he did not lose his grip on the weapons in the boar’s flanks. Just as Legolas and Berior were scrambling back into the branches, Maidhien finally safe next to her brother, the boar raced to the tree and scraped against it, trying to free itself of the arrow. Galithil was forced to let go of the arrow, lest his arm be crushed between the boar and the tree. Pressing against the boar’s side in a vain attempt to pin it against the tree, he raised his other hand and Lindomiel saw the silvery glint of a knife. He raised his arm above his head and plunged the knife back down again, causing the boar to squeal and twist about in pain.

Watching this in horror, Lindomiel realized that she was still pulling against her guard’s grasp. Tearing her eyes away from her nephew for a moment, she turned to Hurion and forced herself to take a step back.

“I will stay here, I promise. Go help him.”

The guard nodded and released her arm, reaching for his sword. As he moved forward, Lindomiel heard Galithil cry out. The boar had turned sharply, raking its tusks along its side, to dislodge the knife. Galithil grunted in pain when the beast’s tusks drove into his side. The boar flung him to the ground and turned to charge him. Before it could, another figure dropped from the tree.

Terror caused every muscle in Lindomiel’s body to tense when her peripheral vision registered a blonde figure drop onto the boar. Fearing to see Legolas hanging from the boar’s back, she spun back towards the tree. Instead, she saw a sword flash in the light before it was driven between the boar’s shoulder blades and into the ground below, pinning it securely. The beast loosed one last squeal of pain and collapsed.

For a moment, everyone in the clearing was immobile, starring at the boar. Then Eregeth ran forward, gathering her daughter and son into an embrace after they leapt from the tree. The other parents did the same, quickly inspecting their children for injuries before pulling them into their arms. A group of young warriors descended from the trees along with the children. As Lindomiel held Legolas and Berior, she recognized the warriors as the third-year trainees that Dolgailon had mentioned would be taking part in a training exercise that morning. It was only then that Lindomiel realized Dolgailon was holding his brother as Arthiel inspected his wound. It was he that had had killed the boar.

*~*~*

Aradunnon and Amoneth rushed into the infirmary, followed by Thranduil and the rest of the family, just as Nestoreth was placing the last stitch in Galithil’s side. Aradunnon took in the sight of his youngest son on the healer’s cot, his face buried against Arthiel’s shoulder. Dolgailon sat to one side of his wife, stroking his younger brother’s hair with one hand. Galithil’s grip on Dolgailon’s other hand relaxed as Nestoreth finished her work. Legolas, Berior and Brethil sat clustered together on Arthiel’s other side, watching with wide eyes as Nestoreth covered Galithil’s wound with a bandage. Eirienil occupied a stool next to the cot, fingering the sash of her dress and staring helplessly at her cousin.

“What happened?” Aradunnon asked. The grief in his voice caused Galithil to lift his tear-streaked face from Arthiel’s shoulder. Seeing the adults, he held out his arms to his mother, a gesture that only deepened his parents’ concern, since Galithil had long since declared himself far too old for cuddling. Amoneth rushed forward to hold him, her skirts still damp from gathering cattail roots at the river.

“It was a boar, ada,” Galithil answered as he settled into his mother’s arms. His voice was hoarse.

Aradunnon frowned sadly, glancing at Galithil’s blood-stained shirt and tunic, which lay on the cot behind him. “Yes, guren, I gathered that,” he said gently. “I was asking how you came to be gored by it,” he continued, turning to Hurion.

The guard straightened reflexively.

“It is not his fault,” Lindomiel and the children said in unison.

Aradunnon raised his eyebrows, obviously waiting for an explanation.

Lindomiel spoke first. “I let the children go ahead of us to a clearing where we intended to gather asparagus. I knew there was only one guard with us, but we were right behind them and I could not imagine that any danger might befall them before we arrived. I should have asked Hurion to go with the children.”

Aradunnon shook his head as Hurion looked at her uncomfortably. “That would have been no solution,” he said softly, “but providing adequate guard it is something we can discuss with Conuiön later.” He turned back to Galithil, kneeling down next to the cot. “So the boar charged you when you entered the clearing?” he asked sympathetically. He blinked in surprise when Galithil looked down and shook his head. “Please do not tell me that you provoked a boar,” he said, astonishment causing the pitch of his voice to rise.

“Galithil did not provoke it. Anastor and Noruil did,” Eirienil answered bitterly before her cousins could respond.

All the adults in the room, none of whom had yet heard the complete story in their rush to get Galithil to the healer, turned to Eirienil. The children quickly related how Anastor and Noruil had refused to climb into the trees and instead had shot at the boar.

“But if you were all in the tree, I still do not understand how Galithil came to be gored,” Thranduil said, when the children paused in their narrative. His eyes widened when Legolas, Berior and Galithil looked at their parents with a mixture of nervousness and resolve.

“We jumped back down from the tree,” Legolas said, returning his father’s gaze evenly. “We know it is a rule that we should go into the trees and stay there if we see anything dangerous in the forest and we did. But Maidhien fell when she tried to climb up…” he began.

“…We shouted at her to get up, and when Hurion got to the clearing we waited as long as we could for him to help her, but his arrow did not stop the boar…” Berior interrupted.

“…and it was about to trample her,” Galithil added. “Hurion did not have time for another shot…”

“…and another shot might not have stopped the boar anyway since the first one did not. No one else had time to reach her and we would not watch Maidhien get hurt,” Legolas concluded, glancing at his cousins. “We talked about it while waiting for Nestoreth and we decided that even though we know it was dangerous, we are not sorry we did it because we did save Maidhien from getting trampled and we would do it again, even if it did break a rule.” As he said that, somewhat breathlessly, he folded his arms across his chest and looked unflinchingly between his father and uncle’s stunned gazes.

“In their defense,” Hurion said softly, “though they do not have the experience to back up their judgment that I could not have taken down the boar, it is correct, none-the-less. The little girl would certainly have been hurt if they had not shoved her into the tree.”

The children looked at Hurion gratefully for a moment before looking back up at their fathers with the same nervous but resolute expressions.

Aradunnon let out a long breath and stroked his hand down Galithil’s hair. “Galithil, you cannot imagine how terrified I was when the guards found me and told me that you had been gored by a boar. And even after seeing that you are not badly hurt, I am still sick that you are injured at all,” he said, wiping tears from Galithil’s cheeks with his thumb. “But I am not angry with you or your cousins fro helping Maidhien. On the contrary, I am very proud of your bravery.”

Galithil’s eyes widened and, despite his discomfort, he sat up a little straighter. “You think I was brave, ada? I expected you to say it was stupid to jump out of a tree onto a boar.”

Aradunnon’s mouth fell open slightly. “You jumped onto the boar?” he asked, looking up at Lindomiel and Hurion.

Galithil nodded reluctantly in response to his father’s reaction.

“We would not have had time to get Maidhien into the tree if Galithil had not jumped on the boar and stabbed it,” Berior said, regarding his cousin admiringly.

Aradunnon’s eyes darted back to his son. “Stabbed the boar?” he quoted. “With what?”

“Dolgailon’s knife,” Galithil answered with a quiet voice. “He left it lying in the sitting room in our chambers last night. I took it and lied to him this morning when he asked if I had it.”

Dolgailon shifted where he sat next to his brother and his brows drew together. “He did not lie, precisely,” he intervened. “I did not handle that conversation as well as I might have.” He looked at his father, drawing his gaze. “It is my fault for being so careless with my weapons, adar.”

Aradunnon sighed. “Do you agree with your brother, Galithil?” he asked softly.

Galithil cast an appreciative look at Dolgailon before looking down and shaking his head. “No, ada. I knew it was wrong to take the knife and even more wrong to not answer Dolgailon honestly when he asked me about it,” he admitted, notably deflated from his earlier cautious hope that he had not incurred his father’s wrath once again.

To his surprise, Aradunnon only leaned over and kissed his forehead. “We can discuss the knife later, when you are feeling better. For now, the only thing you need to understand is that yes, I am very proud of you for helping Maidhien.” He looked over at Legolas and Berior. “I am proud of all of you.”

“Indeed,” Thranduil and Celonhael agreed, smiling at their sons.

“So we are not in trouble?” Legolas asked, surprise in his voice.

“No, Legolas,” Thranduil replied, sitting and pulling his son onto his lap. “You broke a rule. That is true. But some circumstances require us to break rules or otherwise take actions that ordinarily would not seem wise—learning how to make those types of judgments is part of becoming an adult. In this case, it sounds as if you and your cousins considered your options as well as you could, given the dire nature of the situation, and you could not find any way to prevent injury other than the course of action that you chose. We cannot fault you for that. On the contrary, I agree with your uncle that you were very brave, and I am extremely proud of you.”

Legolas, Berior and Galithil exchanged bright, relieved smiles.

“Now is not really the time to talk about any of this, though” Aradunnon said while carefully lifting Galithil from his wife’s lap. “We are going to take you back to your own bed, and Nestoreth is going to make you some nice tea to help you sleep. When you wake up, your side will feel much better and then we can discuss this a little more,” he said soothingly, but Galithil’s face screwed up in disgust.

“I do not want to drink that nasty tea. My side does not hurt much at all. And if we are not in trouble, we would rather talk about the boar” he pleaded, looking to his cousins for support as Aradunnon carried him from the room.

*~*~*

“You can speak to him further if you wish, but I think Galithil has been punished enough already,” Amoneth said, looking at her son propped up in his bed. Galithil had flatly refused to drink the tea and was now shifting uncomfortably every few seconds despite the soft pillows that surrounded him. His cousins were with him on the bed, sitting as still as possible and engaged in a game to distract him. The adults were gathered in Aradunnon’s sitting room, watching the children through Galithil’s open bedroom door.

Arthiel nodded her agreement. “I know there is no excuse for taking the knife and then lying about it,” she added softly, “but Galithil explained to us, while waiting for Nestoreth to clean his wound, that he took the knife because he wanted to show two of the other children that we—this family—do indeed protect this forest and provide for the elves that live in it. And given what I heard today, if I were a child hearing the same type of comments, I might have reacted similarly.”

Thranduil’s gaze shifted to Arthiel. “I think you had better elaborate on that statement, Arthiel,” he said with a carefully neutral voice.

Lindomiel sighed. “While we were gathering greens this morning, Eregeth and Lalfien implied…well, stated bluntly on more than one occasion, that we had not provided adequate food this winter,” she explained.

Amglaur frowned. “When I was with the children listening to the elders’ stories, Anastor and Noruil implied that Thranduil did not protect the southern forest. Galithil reacted quite poorly to that comment.”

“The adults with us today reacted ‘poorly’ to Lalfien and Eregeth’s accusations,” Arthiel said derisively. “They suggested that Lindomiel should persuade the king to send Lalfien and Eregeth’s families from the capital—from the forest, even.”

Thranduil’s eyebrows rose and he looked to Lindomiel for confirmation of that statement.

“They did,” Lindomiel said quietly.

Aradunnon rapped his knuckles against the arm of his chair. “Dolwon, Dannenion and their families’ inability to adapt to life in the capital is a discussion for another day. Galithil taking Dolgailon’s knife is what concerns me now.”

“I think seeing the outcome of Anastor and Noruil’s use of their bows taught Galithil the dangers of weapons in the wrong hands better than any punishment you might devise, adar,” Dolgailon suggested without looking at his father.

Aradunnon’s lips formed a thin line. “Galithil is certainly learning this lesson in a way that I would very much prefer he had not,” he replied.

Dieneryn leaned forward, catching her son’s eye. “Raising your children is your affair, ion nin, but would you mind one piece of advice from a mother who raised two children every bit as headstrong and adventurous as Galithil?”

Aradunnon’s expression softened. “I would very much appreciate your advice, nana,” he replied with an indulgent tone.

Dieneryn smiled at him. “If Galithil took the knife because he wanted to prove that he is contributing to the protection of the forest and its people, give him some way better way to do just that. Did you see your son’s face when you said you were proud of him? Give him some responsibility appropriate to his age that he could be proud of and that you can praise him for. He needs that, Aradunnon.”

Aradunnon looked at his mother, nodding thoughtfully.

“If you are considering that, adar, I have a suggestion for what you might have him do,” Dolgailon ventured. “Galithil is always begging me to let him help on the training fields. He could help by cleaning and repairing the training weapons each evening.”

“Is that not the punishment that the young warriors earn if they have done something wrong?” Arthiel asked, laughing.

Dolgailon shrugged. “Yes, and Galithil has done something wrong, so it is an appropriate job. It is hard work, but it is important, so he can be proud of it. And it will teach him to respect weapons.”

“I would want one of the warriors to account for each of the weapons every evening,” Aradunnon said. “I do not want to provide Galithil with an opportunity to steal a sword—even a wooden practice sword.”

“One of my lieutenants is responsible for accounting for all the training weapons each evening, adar. I can have Galithil report to him. He will like that—it will make him feel very adult.”

Aradunnon nodded, but amusement shined in his eyes. “Yes, it will. Very well then, but we will tell Galithil about this tomorrow. I think he should rest for tonight.”

Just as Aradunnon finished speaking, a knock sounded on the outer door of his chambers. A guard entered.

“I am sorry to disturb you, my lords,” he said quietly, in an effort not to attract the attention of the children. “But the Gate Guards are saying that a child is asking to see Galithil. Not one of his usual little friends. It is a girl—Maidhien is her name. I would not have bothered you, but she is clearly upset and seems very determined to see him. I think she needs assurance that he is not too badly injured.”

The adults glanced at each other, eyebrows raised.

“Bring her in,” Aradunnon finally said.

*~*~*

A few moments later, after another quiet knock, the outer door to Aradunnon’s chambers opened again. Aradunnon and Thranduil stood to greet their guest, but when the guard admitted Maidhien to the room, she took only a few hesitant steps inside, looking about with wide eyes and her mouth open slightly. Pressed against the open door, she did not notice the adults behind it by the fireplace. Instead her eyes were drawn to the mosaic that covered the opposite wall. Made from chips of quartz and the green gems that occurred naturally in the caves, along with stones that Amoneth had painted, it was a sparkling forest scene of trees and flowers and animals. Studying it with her back to the adults, Maidhien walked slowly towards the wall, craning her neck to follow the branches of one of the trees to where they reached onto the ceiling. Just as the guard was about to step forward to take Maidhien’s hand and lead her to her hosts, another distraction intervened.

“Maidhien!” Eirienil exclaimed, surprise making her voice higher pitched than normal.

At the sound of her name, Maidhien’s head turned sharply towards the open door of Galithil’s room. Seeing the children, she dashed towards them, never noticing Aradunnon or Thranduil, who still stood by their chairs next to the fireplace, now shaking their heads and laughing quietly.

Maidhien ran silently into Galithil’s bedroom and stopped next to his bed, her eyes darting between the children sitting with him before they settled on Galithil. He wore a nightshirt, but the bulge of the bandage on his side was plainly evident. Maidhien chewed her lip a moment while looking at it and then she turned her gaze to his face.

“Are you badly hurt?” she asked, her voice so quiet that even the children on the bed had to strain to hear her. The adults that had moved to the doorway of Galithil’s room to greet her could not hear what she had said.

Pitying her obvious distress, Galithil made an effort to smile and shook his head. “It is just a little cut,” he said stoutly. “It does not really hurt at all.”

Maidhien’s eyes narrowed as she peered at him. “Anytime my nana calls Nestoreth to look at one of Anastor’s injuries, he usually ends up in bed for several days and restricted to our cottage for several more,” she observed. Then she paused and glanced at Legolas and Berior before looking down. “I am sorry you were hurt trying to help me, Galithil, but it was very brave of you three to jump down from the tree. I thought I should thank you for it and apologize that Galithil was hurt.”

Her somber tone made Galithil frown. “There is nothing to apologize or thank us for,” he replied, looking to his cousins for support. Legolas and Berior nodded. “You only have to apologize if you do something wrong, and you just fell—that was not your fault. And we did nothing special to merit thanks. Everyone in the clearing was trying to help you—we helped you into the tree, but Hurion shot the boar and it was my brother that killed it,” he said firmly and looking directly at her so she would believe him.

Maidhien did not look up, but her brows drew together. “Ada says that it is my fault that you are injured since I fell from the tree, and he says Thranduil is going to be even angrier with us since his nephews and son were endangered because of me.”

Galithil and the other children stared at her silently, too surprised by that statement to do anything more. A voice from the doorway made them all jump.

“That is absolutely not true.”

Drawing a sharp breath, Maidhien spun around and her eyes widened when she saw the adults. Her gaze traveled swiftly up to the face of the figure that had spoken. The sight of his hands on his hips and his angry scowl made her take several hurried steps backward until she bumped into the bed. When her hands clutched its mattress and she appeared ready to scramble over it to retreat further, she saw astonishment, quickly followed by regret, replace the scowl.

Thranduil dropped to one knee and held out his arms. “I apologize for startling you, child, but there is nothing to be afraid of. Come here,” he said softly.

Maidhien shook her head and shrunk back even further against the bed.

As Thranduil looked over his shoulder at Lindomiel, who had already stepped forward to comfort Maidhien, Legolas hopped off the bed.

“Ada is not angry,” he said quietly, coming to stand on one side of her. “I think what you said surprised him because it is silly to think you were at fault for falling or that he would be angry at you or your parents for such a thing.”

Lindomiel sat on the edge of the bed on Maidhien’s other side, putting her arm around her shoulders. “Legolas is right, sweetheart,” she said, drawing the child against her. Maidhien allowed that, while still staring at Thranduil. “What about you?” Lindomiel continued smoothly, turning Maidhien to face her with a hand under her chin. “Did the boar or the fall hurt you at all?”

Maidhien shook her head. “I scraped my elbow and my hand when I fell,” she said, holding them up for inspection. “But I was not really hurt.” She looked sidelong at Lindomiel. “Just frightened.”

“That boar was awful. We were all frightened,” Eirienil agreed sympathetically as Berior nodded.

“And your brother and his friend, Noruil,” Thranduil asked, settling himself on the floor several feet from Maidhien where he had knelt. “Are they also uninjured?”

Maidhien eyed Thranduil for a moment before looking down and snuggling a little closer to Lindomiel. “Noruil is our cousin,” she corrected. “He and Anastor did not even get a scrape.”

“I am glad to hear that,” Thranduil began but fell silent when Maidhien glared at him.

“Well if anyone deserved to get hurt, they did. They shot at the boar, even after everyone told them not to” she interrupted angrily. “But ada does not care about that.”

Thranduil glanced at Lindomiel. “I do not think you truly believe your brother deserved to be hurt by the boar, do you?”

“They shot at it,” she repeated stubbornly.

“But only because they thought they could kill it and they wanted to help provide food,” Thranduil countered patiently. “They did not purposefully try to harm anyone; they simply overestimated their abilities with their bows, is that not correct?” He paused and Maidhien nodded reluctantly. “So you are not truly angry with your brother and cousin.”

Maidhien frowned. “I am angry with Anastor and Noruil because they did not even try to help me when I fell,” she retorted. Then she looked at Thranduil and continued in a softer voice. “And I am angry with ada because I do not think this is my fault so it is not fair that he is angry with me.”

Thranduil sighed and moved to sit next to Lindomiel on the bed. “When the guards came and told me that Galithil had been gored by a boar, and I knew Legolas was with him, I was very frightened until I saw that both of them would recover. And for a moment, I was angry. I wanted to know how such a thing could happen to someone I love so much. I was mostly angry with myself, thinking I should do more to keep them safe. Sometimes when parents see their children hurt or frightened, they are so upset that they do not react logically.” He paused and looked at Maidhien seriously. “It is your adar’s place and not mine to govern your family, but I feel compelled to agree with you that nothing that happened today was your fault. I am sure your adar will recognize that after he calms down a bit.”

Maidhien sighed. “I doubt it,” she said.

In response to that prediction, Lindomiel gave Maidhien a quick hug and looked at Thranduil sadly.

“Perhaps it will help when your adar realizes that I do not intend to say anything to him or your uncle about this incident,” Thranduil suggested.

Maidhien looked relieved and surprised by that. “You truly are not still angry about the boar?”

Thranduil shook his head. “No, not at all. I am proud of my son and nephews for helping you; I am thankful no one was badly injured; and I am pleased to have met you as a result of all this. My impression is that you are a very polite little girl to have come here to check on Galithil and thank him.”

Maidhien studied Thranduil for a moment. “You are not nearly as mean as ada says you are,” she finally said.

In the silence that followed that observation, Thranduil was aware of his son and nephews’ stunned and angry expressions and the carefully impassive stares of the adults around him. “Your adar and I have our differences, Maidhien, but they do not involve you, your brother or your cousin,” he finally replied neutrally. “I sincerely hope that you will give me a chance to prove to you that I am not ‘mean.’”

Maidhien did not respond to that offer, but Thranduil took comfort in the fact that instead of glaring at him, she now only regarded him shyly.

*~*~*

Thranduil gathered Legolas in his arms and held him just a little tighter and a little longer than normal. When he finally released him, he also placed a kiss on his forehead before tucking the blankets around him carefully. In response, Legolas looked at his father carefully.

“Are you certain you are not angry, ada?” he asked quietly.

Thranduil glanced at Lindomiel and smiled ruefully at his son, safe in his bed. “I am not angry, ion nin. I am still a little frightened that you were so close to such a dangerous animal. And I am having a little trouble with the thought that in very few years I will be taking you with me to hunt for boars and sending you off with the patrols to hunt for much worse things. But I am not angry. You need not worry about that.”

Legolas frowned. “Ada, I will not be a warrior for a very long time…over thirty years. And I will be big with a real bow, not the children’s bows that Anastor and Noruil had today. And you will teach me to use it…”

Thranduil smiled and smoothed Legolas’s hair. “Yes, I know, ion nin. I am trying to remember that, but as I told Maidhien today, parents do not always react logically. And despite the fact that you will not be a warrior for ‘a very log time,’” Legolas scowled when Thranduil winked at Lindomiel as he said that, “it is obvious to me that my son is growing up, and that can be difficult for parents to see.”

Legolas’s scowl melted into a pleased smile. “You think I am growing up, ada?”

“Yes, I do,” Thranduil replied. “Your behavior today showed that, I think.”

“Was our behavior good enough to prove that we can be trusted to go outside by ourselves again?” Legolas asked hopefully.

That question brought a smile to Thranduil’s lips as well. “I believe you will be an outstanding negotiator when you are older, ion nin. You have a fine sense of when to press an advantage.” He paused. “I will speak to your uncles, but I think they will agree that you and your cousins have earned your freedom.” That pronouncement was rewarded by an excited squeal and enthusiastic hug that sent the carefully tucked blankets flying off the bed. Thranduil laughed. “Was it that horrible a punishment, Legolas?” he asked, reaching again for the blankets as the child lay back against his pillows.

Legolas shrugged. “No…just boring. And long. Very long, over a month. And annoying because we did not really see any way to make it end. And at the worst time of year since it is so pretty outdoors.” He paused and looked back at his father. “Yes, it was horrible, ada, but I suppose we deserved it for sneaking into the forest at night. I will not do anything that stupid again.”

Thranduil struggled for a moment not to laugh before fixing Legolas with a serious look. “You will not let Anastor and Noruil lead you or your cousins into any such dangerous behavior again?”

Legolas returned his father’s gaze cautiously. “You knew it was Anastor and Noruil we went to the waterfall with?” he asked quietly.

“I suspected it. Now I know it,” Thranduil replied evenly.

Legolas frowned. “I feel sorry for Maidhien, but we learned our lesson all to well concerning her brother and Noruil. We do not like them and we do not want to do anything with them.”

Thranduil only nodded. “You know them better than I do, Legolas, so I will have to let you decide if Anastor and Noruil are completely unworthy of your friendship. I must confess that, knowing their parents as I do, I would not be surprised if they were. But perhaps Maidhien might enjoy spending time with you and your cousins. And perhaps that friendship might help begin to heal the rift between our families.”

Legolas looked at his father skeptically. “Perhaps,” he said, snuggling his face against his blanket.

*~*~*

“She did what?!” Dolwon exclaimed, nearly spilling his drink in his astonishment.

Dannenion only shook his head. “One of his guards escorted her home along with one of his councilor’s wives and their daughter. The little girl invited her to play with them tomorrow and Maidhien asked me if she could go.”

Dolwon snorted. “I can imagine what you said to that,” he replied.

“I told her she could go whenever she liked,” Dannenion said quietly and smiled when Dolwon stared at him in shocked silence. He shrugged. “You never know what information she might hear there. Or what we might hear if those children begin visiting our homes. It could prove to be a useful friendship in the future.”

Dolwon raised his eyebrows in response and nodded, taking another sip of his wine.

*~*~*

adar/ada--Father/dad

naneth/nana--Mother/mum

guren--my heart

elleth/ellyth--Female elf(ves)

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Chapter name
Expectations--Part Two
Created
08 May 2006
Last Edited
08 May 2006
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345
Words
6511