The Elf pinned to the floor trembled. It was too much for him. He had not planned on this happening. A cold gleaming blade was pressed to the base of his throat, held with the lightest pressure to prevent any untoward movements.
Abruptly, he was released and the knife blade was whipped away. The grip on him relaxed. He climbed to his feet, a look of surprise mixed with embarrassment in his face.
"Legolas," he started.
The other stalked off, annoyed.
He ran after the retreating back of the prince. "Master Legolas, please!"
Legolas spun around in anger. He took a long, hard look at the other Elf. What he saw was concern and puzzlement, and his anger faded a little. There was no doubting that Esendri meant no harm. The cheerfulness and optimism in him had not altered one bit despite the events that had happened. While facetious at times, there was no doubting that he meant good.
"Please do not do that again. The feeling of being hunted is not a good one."
Legolas faced his friend. Guilt rushed up as he realised that Esendri had indeed believed for a moment that he was about to kill him. He regretted placing the knife at his throat. A sudden urge overcame him to break down the icy wall he had so carefully built around himself and bare his heart to his closest friend.
Esendri looked deeply into his master's eyes. He sensed much fear and confusion, and a great sadness as well. Something that was never present in the past. It troubled him greatly.
"Master. Please let me know what is bothering you. Let me help you!" The words came out with difficulty, for he knew his offer would be declined.
Legolas shook his head sadly. The moment of weakness passed. He could not tell his friend. Not yet. He had overreacted again, and let impulsiveness cloud his actions.
"Esendri, I wish to share my burden with you, as I know you would with me. Sadly my responsibilities allow it not to be. My father would not approve. The time would come when I would need your help and you will wish fervently it were not so. I am weary, for it has been a long trip. I wish to have some rest."
He started walking again, the weight in his heart growing, not waiting for an answer. The thought of distancing himself from his closest friend and brother was unbearable. Especially when he had already put a wall between himself and the rest of his friends.
Esendri caught up with him and caught him by the elbow. He spun his master around, and looked straight into the marine eyes. His grey eyes focused on the distanced blue orbs. What he saw there chilled him. Shocked and surprised by the amount of conflict and melancholy, he was stunned by the fear he saw in the other's eyes. Esendri had never known Legolas to be afraid. In all their long years as friends, not once had he seen the prince shown any sign, however slight, of anything less than an iron resolve that was unshakable and interminable.
Legolas held his gaze. He knew what the other saw in his eyes. The grey eyes mirrored his own fear. He saw the concern and love in them, and his heart ached anew. His will broke down, and he finally gave in.
"I promise to speak of it all in the morning, but my body cries for rest. It has been an enervating day for me. Much has occurred that I wish had not. I need time to pool my thoughts together before I am ready." A sad smile played on his lips.
Esendri let go of his elbow. Satisfied that his master would not break his word, he held the other's gaze for a while more. Suddenly, a bright smile broke on his lips as a thought broke through.
"Do not tell me it is your father pressuring you to take a wife?" Esendri asked cheerfully.
Faint colour crept up the sides of the fair face. A strange emotion played on his face, but it was gone in a split second, and Legolas punched Esendri playfully. It caught the smaller Elf off guard, and sent him reeling to the ground.
Legolas laughed, for the first time in days upon seeing the look on the other's face. It was musical, light-hearted. Free of the burden its owner carried. Laughter. How he had missed it, thought the prince ruefully, as he took in his battle-ready friend who stood before him.
Come what may, Legolas knew that he would have Esendri by his side. It was a thought that filled his insides with warmth and joy. It dispelled his unhappiness.
He feigned a lunge to the left. Esendri moved quickly to block it. Before it could reach him, a leg shot out and hooked itself at the back of his knee, pulling himself to the ground for the third time. Constant sparring with the Prince of Eryn Galen, however, had trained him well. With considerable speed and dexterity, Esendri brought his elbow up and against the prince's face. That was enough to cause the prince to slow his attack, as an arm went up to guard his face from the blow. Esendri smiled. He was too well versed in the other's fighting style. A slip here and there might occur, but he could usually predict his master's moves with fluidity and accuracy. Legolas knew well enough, and leapt nimbly aside, breaking the momentum.
"There is no fun sparring with you, Esendri. You know my moves as well as your own."
"Ai, you only have yourself to blame in that, Your Highness. Improvement is the only way to ensure your enemies do not get the better of you. Surely this you know. A prince cannot afford to get complacent or he would end up a sluggard!"
"Luck is with you, that I did not decide to draw blade or bow, or it would have been the end of you!" The prince's retort was sharp but the tone coltish.
"And who would be around to share your burden then, my Master, for is it not true I am the only one you would trust all your thoughts with? For if what I have guessed is true, you would need more than brute force and prowess on the battlefield. Do my words deviate so far from the truth?"
It was more than enough for the prince, his face slowly reddening. He turned from the grinning Elf and started walking with long, quick strides. His face grew hotter with every step he took. He wished Esendri would stop his incessant teasing.
Esendri laughed and called after the fast disappearing figure.
"A prince does not run from anything. Much less when he is going home to an unturned bed. Give me a few moments to catch my breath, my lord, ere I run along to tuck you in!" He made no effort to catch up with the prince.
A smile forced his way to Legolas' lips again in spite of himself. Esendri was skiving again. It would result in a return to dirty quarters for the umpteenth time. Why he had such a lazy servant he could not fathom. But the fun and laughter brought by Esendri, the friendship he offered, more than made up for the cleanest bed in the world.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.