The Other Brother – Chapter 1

The mighty and courageous Prince Legolas would never be defeated! He was strong enough and brave enough to defeat the hideous monster attacking his beloved kingdom all by himself. He would be honoured as Mirkwood’s dashing hero! He would…

Legolas shrieked; the creature was closer than expected. He frantically burrowed into the layers surrounding him. The foul beast howled in response and Legolas buried himself even deeper into the safety of his dark cocoon, shielding himself from the evil light that threatened to bewitch him.

“Legolaaaaaaas!” the monster screeched. “I’m coming to get you!”

Legolas curled into a tiny ball, deciding that the smaller he made himself, the harder it would be for the monster to attack. It was of no use however, and he squealed and jerked helplessly as the monster’s claws attacked his sides and underarms.

The monster screeched again, “Come out young elfling, you cannot escape me!”

Legolas’ heart skipped a beat as his grip on his protective layers slipped. He took a deep breath and used all of his princely powers to keep the monster at bay. Relentlessly, the monster continued pulling at the layers covering him, slowly overpowering him. Legolas clung on for grim death; this would be his last chance.

With one final hard yank, the monster ripped away his layers of protection, the harsh light of day flooded in and a face appeared in the gap.

“There you are Legolas!”

Legolas deflated and groaned as he peered out from under his blankets to see Halion’s face smiling down at him. After the darkness of his bed, the bright sunlight pouring in the window caused him to squint. It wasn’t fair! He didn’t want to get up, not when his bed was so warm and comfortable.

The prince shook his head as Halion’s grin widened and he reached out to tickle Legolas once more. With the blankets removed, Halion’s tickling was more effective and Legolas couldn’t help himself. He tried to squirm away but collapsed in uncontrollable giggles.

Aware of how long it had already taken to get Legolas up, Halion gently took hold of a slender arm. “Come, little master, there is no more time to play. Get out of bed and go have your bath. You need to get ready to join your father at court.”

Legolas screwed up his nose. “I don’t want to go to court. It’s boring! It’s just old men sitting around all day, talking and talking and talking.” He looked at Halion pleadingly, “Can’t I go outside and play in the forest instead?”

Halion guided Legolas off the bed and shook his head. “Legolas, you know you have to be there. You are the Prince of Mirkwood and King Thranduil requires you there when he greets his important guests.”

Legolas’ face fell. He had forgotten the elves from Lothlórien were coming. Visitors from another elven realm meant extended formal rituals would have to be followed, and that meant the talking would be even longer and more boring than usual. And that meant he would have to stay in court even longer.

“Besides, you do not know what will happen, or who will be there today. It might not be as boring as you think,” Halion continued.

Legolas had been thrilled when he first heard they were having visitors from Lothlórien. Legends abounded about the Lady of the Golden Wood and Legolas couldn’t wait to see her magic first hand. But then he found out that Galadriel would not be coming after all, and only her husband, someone she called Celeborn the Wise, would be attending. Wise, to Legolas, meant old and boring, and even more sitting around talking about issues he did not understand or about wars that happened centuries before his begetting day.

Halion prodded Legolas gently and handed him a clean bathrobe. “Hurry up now, or your bath will get cold.”

Legolas reluctantly took the bathrobe and opened his mouth, ready to find any excuse to postpone his bath.

“Can you wash yourself, or shall I get a maid to help you?” Halion interjected, not wanting another delay.

Legolas’ eyes widened as he glanced at the row of maids waiting patiently to remake his bed and tidy his room. As Legolas blushed and looked down at the floor, Halion smiled gently. Recently, Legolas had grown self-conscious about the difference between male and female bodies, and he was no longer comfortable with female maids seeing him undressed.

“I can do it,” he muttered. He went to the bathroom and, with a disgruntled glare at the maids, closed the door firmly behind him.

Halion raised his eyes to the ceiling and shook his head, sighing in both relief and frustration. Why did he have to go through the same battle every single morning to get the prince out of bed, he wondered? Surely his father, Galion, hadn’t had the same issues with Thranduil when he was an elfling?

Halion turned to Aglarebes, the head maid, and gestured towards the bed.

“Apologies for the delay…” he began.

Aglarebes shook her head to stop him. “No apologies are needed,” she said. “You know this is why we leave his room to last.”

They both turned towards the bathroom door as Legolas began singing and splashing the bathwater. Halion suppressed another sigh.

“I could always send Miniel for a bucket of water to pour over his head,” Aglarebes said. “That would help get him clean!”

Halion flashed Aglarebes a quick smile as he turned to the brown-haired maid in question. Miniel smiled demurely back at him and they stood there a while, losing themselves in each other’s eyes. Aglarebes hid a smile of her own – she knew of the romance simmering between the two, and thoroughly approved.

Halion eventually broke his gaze and turned back to the bathroom. “Legolas, are you washing yourself properly?” he called.

There was instant silence from the bathroom.

“Yes?” came the hesitant answer a few moments later.

“Well, make sure you wash yourself from head to toe or I will send a maid in to help you,” Halion replied with a wry smile.

There was another pause before Legolas responded, “I will.” The singing and splashing started up again, albeit a little quieter than before.

Halion gave the prince another ten minutes before entering the bathroom. He stepped through the door and closed it behind him, just in time for Legolas to send a huge splash of water over the side of the bath. Halion stepped back but didn’t have enough space to avoid getting his boots and the bottom of his leggings soaked.

Legolas’ eyes widened and he sucked in his breath when he saw what he had done. Halion looked furious and Legolas thought he was about to get yelled at.

Halion shook his head as he glanced around the bathroom floor. “Legolas! What are you doing? There’s more water on the floor than there is in the bath.”

Legolas looked up at Halion before peering over the side of the bath, keeping his eyes wide open and trying to appear as innocent as possible.

“There was an enormous sea monster swimming through the water…” Legolas began earnestly. He swooshed his hand through the bathwater, trying to show Halion where the “monster” had been. Halion held up a hand in warning as Legolas nearly splashed more water over the side of the bath. Legolas bit his bottom lip and froze.

Instead of saying anything else, Halion walked over and picked up a large fluffy towel.

“Out you get,” Halion pointed to the only dry area of the floor.

Sensing it would be best not to argue, Legolas climbed out of the bath and walked over to the spot indicated. Halion wrapped the towel around Legolas and dried him briskly. He helped Legolas put on his undergarments before picking him up and carrying him back over the wet floor and out of the bathroom.

Once Halion set him down, Legolas ran over to his bed and viewed the tunic, leggings and formal robe laid out for him, eager to escape the disappointment on Halion’s face.

Aglarebes took in the state of Halion’s clothes and, after a resigned glance at Legolas, sent a maid to get him some dry clothes. She then sent Miniel and one of the remaining maids in to clean up the bathroom.

Halion ushered Legolas away from the bed. “Eat your breakfast first.” He pointed to the table where Legolas’ favourite breakfast awaited. “I do not want food spilt on your clothes.”

“Halion, can’t I eat with Ada?” Legolas asked.

Halion chuckled quietly. “Your father ate his breakfast hours ago, Master Legolas. Unlike some elves I know, he actually gets up on time. He is most likely already at court, waiting for you to appear.”

Legolas screwed his nose up again at the mention of his father’s court, causing Halion to laugh.

“Such a face! You better not let your father see, he will tell you it is most unbecoming of an elf and a prince to pull faces.”

“But I hate going to court! It’s so boring and…”

“And nonetheless I expect you to be there.”

Both Legolas and Halion spun around to see Thranduil standing in the doorway; the maid carrying Halion’s dry clothing close behind him.

“Ada!” Legolas’ face brightened as he ran over and flung his arms around his father.

“Good morning little one!” Thranduil picked Legolas up, carried him over to the table and set him down on a chair. “If you promise to eat your breakfast quickly, I can stay here for a few minutes before I have to go.”

At that, Legolas gave him a dazzling smile and began to shovel down his food. Thranduil looked at Halion and at the state of his clothing before nodding towards the bathroom.

“Thank you, my Lord,” Halion acknowledged. He took his dry clothes from the maid and went to the bathroom to change, leaving Legolas in Thranduil’s care.

When he came back out, Legolas appeared to have forgotten about eating as he sat there chattering to his father about anything and everything. Halion considered hurrying Legolas up again, but realised this would probably be the only time Thranduil and Legolas would have alone together for a few days. Instead, he walked over to the maids to talk with them.

As he stood with the maids, most of them conveniently remembered chores they had to do elsewhere and he soon found himself alone with Miniel and Aglarebes. Aglarebes took his wet clothes from him and told him she would send them with Legolas’ clothes to be washed and returned to his room afterwards. He and Miniel remained behind and they made arrangements to meet at that night’s welcoming feast, after Legolas had gone to bed.

Eventually though, a guard arrived to advise the king that the Lothlórien party, having camped a short distance away overnight, were now on their final approach to the palace gates.

Thranduil and Halion both sprang into action and moved towards Legolas. To Legolas’ delight, Thranduil did not leave the room, instead he and Halion both helped him dress and Miniel fixed his hair. The prince basked in having the attention of both Thranduil and Halion and surprised the adults by actually cooperating. They had him dressed in no time at all and he was ready to go to court at the same time as Thranduil.

Halion accompanied the prince, who walked sedately behind Thranduil, as far as the reception area.

Legolas ground to a sudden halt when he saw three elflings standing to the right of a tall, silver-haired elf he assumed was Lord Celeborn. He stared at them in wonder.

“Who are they?” Legolas looked up at Halion. He was aware that Celeborn and Galadriel had an adult daughter, but he hadn’t heard of any sons.

“I told you today might not be as boring as you thought,” Halion replied. “They are Lord Celeborn’s wards. Three brothers whose parents died a few months ago when orcs raided their village.”

Legolas looked back at the elflings. They all had the same silver-blond hair and the same vaguely smug expressions, making their relationship clear.

“It will be good to have elves around your own age to spend time with, will it not?”

“But,” Legolas was confused. “They are Silvan aren’t they?”

“Yes, but they are Celeborn’s wards, and he is a noble Sindar. Your father will not mind.”

Legolas looked relieved.

The smallest of the elflings turned around and, when he saw Legolas, the smugness on his face dropped away as he broke into an enormous smile.

“That is Rúmil,” stated Halion. “Looks like he wants to be friends. Maybe you could play with him after your father releases you.”

“But he is just a baby!” Legolas looked at Halion in horror.

“He is not that much younger than you, Legolas,” Halion replied.

Legolas hmmed softly but offered no further opinion as the oldest elfling drew his attention, the one standing closest to Lord Celeborn. Legolas’ eyes widened in awe; this elf was glorious!

“Who is that?” Legolas asked, his eyes never leaving the older elf. He was oblivious to the disappointment on Rúmil’s face at the lack of response to his smile.

“He is called Haldir and the one in the middle is Orophin,” Halion replied, amused by how intently Legolas stared at the older elf.

“Haldir!” Legolas repeated reverently.

Legolas stood up straighter and pushed his shoulders back, attempting to look as regal as possible. Sadly, Haldir paid no attention to Legolas, his gaze passing them over without pausing. Legolas lowered his head, his disappointment matching that of Rúmil’s just moments ago.

Legolas didn’t understand what was happening. As his attention moved away from Rúmil to Haldir, he felt the strangest feelings overcome him. It seemed like his breath had been ripped away from his lungs and a thousand butterflies were fluttering around his insides. As he struggled to contain himself, Legolas knew only one thing. He had to meet this elf.

With Legolas’ attention on Haldir, Thranduil readied himself for the welcoming ceremony to greet the Lothlórien elves. Seeing this, Halion gently urged Legolas into his own seat and took his own post.

With Legolas required at court, it was Halion’s duty to monitor him. When the prince was younger – particularly in the months following his mother’s death – there had been many incidents resulting from the boredom of sitting still for long hours. One memorable time he had even fallen asleep, his snoring interrupting what would have otherwise been a very serious moment. Thranduil wanted nothing to make his kingdom appear less than perfect but, as king, did not have the time to attend to his son. Halion was to remain near Legolas, out of sight but placed where he could observe the prince and step in when needed.

Once both royals were in place, the guards led Lord Celeborn forward to be received by the king, and the formal proceedings got underway.

As the ceremony dragged on, Legolas kept surprisingly calm and managed to keep the boredom from his face. This was mostly, Halion noted with amusement, because he could not stop staring at Haldir.

For his part, Haldir ignored Legolas completely.

For Legolas, the rest of the ceremony had faded away into nothing. All he could concentrate on was Haldir. Haldir assisted Lord Celeborn with the Lothlórien parts of the ceremony, displaying a grandeur and haughtiness that Legolas could never quite seem to master. Legolas was utterly entranced.

So entranced in fact, that when Thranduil spoke to him, he didn’t hear what his father said. It was not until Haldir looked at him directly that he realised everyone’s attention was on him.

“S-sorry Ad-my Lord?” Legolas sat up in his seat and looked quickly towards Thranduil, trying to work out what he had missed. Seeing the smugness on Haldir’s face, he felt mortified at being caught out in front of him.

Thranduil’s face gave nothing away, but the glint in his eye told Legolas he was not truly angry. He too had noticed Legolas’ fascination with Celeborn’s oldest ward. “I said, you can take Haldir and his brothers and show them where they will stay while they are here.”

Legolas looked straight back at Haldir, fighting valiantly to keep the excitement off his face. He scrambled off his seat so fast that he nearly got a foot caught in his robes. Much to Legolas’ chagrin, Halion stepped in and straightened out his robes, and he had to look away from Haldir rolling his eyes in response. Legolas was determined not to let it bother him though, because now he could finally speak to this wonderful elf known as Haldir.

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