9. Respect Your Elders
"Indeed, thus far the young ladies seemed closest to winning it from him. Not that they really would have succeeded. They are truly amateurs at this, afterall. If one is to entice such a resourceful young elf as Legolas, one must be able to flaunt one's attributes appropriately, not in such a foolish, childish and wasteful fashion. After all, men appreciate a keen intellect and wit when it is complemented with an appealing physical side."
"It would have been better had they sat back and watched the true masters of this game."
"Oh, grandmother? And what game is that?" Arwen and Lúthien gracefully siddled up to Galadriel and Celebrían.
"Why, dearest Arwen, the affirmation of womanly wiles. Legolas would be far more affected by a more mature and powerful charm. And Arwen, it is most rude to snicker."
"Honestly, daughter. I thought I taught you to respect your elders and betters."
Arwen could not help herself. Bending towards Lúthien's ear, she whispered "And we both know which of the two these are."
"By all means, honourable ladies," said Lúthien, trying unsuccessfully to keep her breath from hitching, "Please show us 'amateurs' how to play."
With one look to her daughter, Galadriel began to glide over to Legolas with the grace and hidden power of the tide, Celebrían following with the poise and strength of the seasons.
As Legolas took his leave of Haldir, who stood stone-still in shock, he glanced forward through the crowd. He could see waves of people parting, but could not as yet see the cause. It was, however, moving directly towards him. "I should have guessed I would only be afforded one breath before the next onslaught," he sighed.
The seas parted before him, and there stood, in all their majesty and daunting beauty, the ladies Galadriel and Celebrían. His stomach seemed to be struggling to reach the floor. Before the ladies could utter a word, however, Legolas looked over their shoulders to see Arwen and Lúthien smirking at him. Their manner seemed to suggest the expectation of entertainment. Looking back at the ladies before him, he felt his heart scream to a halt. Had Galadriel just batted her eyelids at him? Oh, no. Not good. NOT good! Think fast, Greenleaf! his mind screamed. Seeing yet another passing tray, and thinking rather abstractly How odd. These trays appear just when needed, and I am never able to see who carries them. The thought, however, was cast aside as he struggled to come up with a good escape route.
"Good evening, Legolas! I am glad to see our husbands have not detained you with yet another boring account of history. Their recollections can get rather dull after a while."
"No, m'lady. Their recollections were ... pertinent, I suppose."
"Good, good. Now, tell me Thranduilion. When last you were in Lórien, you were fast becoming friends with Gimli Elvellon. Yet I have heard this night of many disagreements between you two, both in Ennor and after you brought him to Valinor. According to my grandchildren, you were oft heard trading barbs and insults."
"Lady Galadriel, our relationship is steadfast as the mallorn. Those insults were merely friendly banter, I assure you."
"I had hoped it was so, and yet I am concerned."
Oh, here it comes, thought Legolas. "How so, m'lady?"
"If rumours be true, Gimli has this night endangered you with his implied tale." Brushing her finger lightly over his cheeck and along his jaw, the Lady Celebrían suggested "We would be willing to offer you our company this night, Legolas, if it would avail you some protection."
"In return, you might provide some ... entertainment" the Lady Galadriel added, her words but an airy whisper in his ear.
Legolas began a mantra in his mind: She does not have the power of the ring. She does not have the power of the ring...she can no longer read minds. Can she? He gulped audibly for the second time that night, and cursed his reactions. Somewhat unsure if his voice would betray him, he said, "Qwah...ahem...What sort of entertainment did you have in mind, m'ladies?" Damn voice!
"Oh, nothing much. Perhaps you could recite a tale. I'm sure your adventures with Gimli produced quite a few interesting ones. Or even the tale of your encounter with the tree stump? What say you escort us to a more quiet room. We won't even mention it to any of the others. Not even Elrond or Celeborn." Where all those before them had made reference to the tale with ill-concealed humour, Galadriel and Celebrían managed to make the prospect quite...appealing. But the sudden reminder that the two ladies had husbands, and the sudden crawling feeling that made Legolas suspect at least one pair of eyes were boring daggers into his back brought Legolas to his senses.
"Alas, my ladies, I fear I must decline." Braking apart their proposal left him truly contrite. But getting on the bad side of Lords Elrond and Celeborn was not a thing to be taken lightly. Particularly when they had already threatened him once this night. Taking each lady's hand in turn, and chastely saying farewell, he managed to free himself from the spell of their company and walk rather dejectedly towards the East with dragging steps.
Both ladies turned towards the younger women and smirked. Galadriel inclined her head slightly to Celebrían and whispered, "We've still got it!"
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