11. Fair as a Rose in May
“It is mine.” The spider had hissed at him. “It is mine, not yours. I am sure that the three masters gave it to me, though I cannot remember their doing it. I have others much like it that they gave to me, though not as sparkly and pretty.”
: Others, : Thranduil thought wearily. : How many others have you given to the spider, little Greenleaf? : He had not had the heart to kill it so he had sent it with Cuil and Calenthar to find it a place to stay out of the way until his son and his friends returned.
: What a wearying day.” He thought, pressing his hand to his head. He crossed the room and poured himself a cup of tea. He sipped it thoughtfully, sinking into a chair. : Vandal Root. : he thought with satisfaction. : That should help me relax. : He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, covering them with a cool damp cloth, allowing the calming herbs to do their work.
By the time the pot was drained he was feeling quite mellow and content. He allowed himself a small smile and hummed to himself. He heard the door open and two people enter, but he didn’t open his eyes or look up.
“Whatever it is, it can wait.” He said. “I am in too good a mood to hear anything you have to say. So come back later.” He swung his hands slightly in time to the music in his head.
He heard feet shuffling and whispered voices.
“Um…your Majesty. This is important. The spider has -”
“No, no, no. I am not listening.”
“Sire, please. The spider is -“
“No, not now.” Thranduil could feel his good mood dissipating as they lingered.
The two Elves looked at one another. One shrugged.
“The spider is in your room, Majesty. Going through your jewelry.”
Thranduil sat up, the cloth dropping to his lap.
“What did you say?!”
Cuil and Calenthar glanced at one another, and slowly backed toward the door.
“The spider is in your room –“
“I heard you!” Thranduil sprang from the chair and pushed passed the two Elves, muttering curses and invectives as he went. He strode down the corridor scattering anyone in his way, with merely the look on his face and his flashing eyes. Several people were standing outside his room, peering into it with looks of amazement, fear, and amusement. When they heard the king coming they quickly gave way.
Thranduil stopped in the doorway and stared at what he saw. Several of his robes were scattered about on the floor and the bed; his boxes of jewels and stones lay open on the tables and before the large mirror was the spider, holding up a particularly bright necklace with a large white stone dangling from it, his favorite robe of indigo draped over the spiders’ large back.
“What a pretty thing.” It creaked. “Pretty white stone that glows nicely.”
Thranduil trembled with rage.
“What is that thing doing in here?!” He turned to glare at Cuil and Calenthar.
Thranduil growled, his headache returning.
“Get it out of here now!” he roared. “Get it out of here and take it and put it…” He grimaced, clenching at his temples. “Put it in Legolas’ room. Lock it in there. He can take care of it when he returns.” The king whirled about and stormed down the hallway. “And clean up that mess!”
Cuil and Calenthar exchanged slightly relieved glances.
“I fear for those Dwarves when they do arrive.” Cuil said quietly as they moved into the room to try and convince the spider to leave. “I would not want to be in their place.”
“Hmph. I would not want to be in Prince Legolas’ place.”
Cuil smiled, tapping the spider gingerly on its back to get its attention.
“I would not want to be in his place now. Did you see his new outfit?”
“Aye. Very becoming if I do say so.”
The two laughed and coaxed the spider away, allowing it to keep its bauble as it wouldn’t leave without it.
“Come, Gwibess. It is time to go and visit the master’s room.” Calenthar said, hooking a leash to the necklace about its neck. The leash had been found in Legolas’ room, and it glittered with tiny blue gems.
Gwibess creaked and hissed happily to itself as they lead it down the hall.
“Wait until the masters see this one. It is very pretty. They will like it on me, I am sure.”
Several Elves watched as Cuil and Calenthar lead the spider down the hall. It was quite docile. Celebross and Aralith had joined them. They stood shaking their heads.
“I fear for the three masters.” Aralith whispered with a laugh.
“I don’t think our youngest prince will ever get to wear anything but pink ever again.” Thuio said.
“I think that it would be a good night to go sleep beneath the stars in one of the far clearings. Far enough away to not hear the shrieking.” Celebross commented, glancing at his brother.
“That is an excellent idea, brother. Though I would dearly love to see the look on Legolas’ face when father tells him he may not change his clothes.” He smirked. “But I do not wish to hear the fireworks. Let us go.”
The two brothers and several others hurried from the palace, talking delightedly about what might happen in their absence.
Bilbo trotted quickly behind the Elves who lead the Dwarves across a bridge toward the Hall of the Wood Elf King. The Hobbit glanced down at the black rushing water and hurried across. He was a bit surprised to see the Elves taking the Dwarves into a large cave, the entrance behind two massive stone doors. He had thought that the Elves would live in the trees. Then he noticed in the distance, faint lights and glimmers and torches burning. Delicate houses were nestled beneath the towering beeches and oaks as well as in the branches over head. But he didn’t have time to think about it now as he rushed behind the others , quiet as a mouse.
As he had traveled through the woods he had been grateful for the bright pink tunic that the one Elf wore. It had been much easier to see than the browns and greens worn by the others. He could hear snatches of conversation between the three young Elves that lagged slightly behind. He couldn’t understand all the words they said, but he could tell by the tone of their voices and the looks on their fair faces that they were not happy. Especially the one in pink.
: I wouldn’t be happy either, dressed like that. : he thought sympathetically.
“It is just the outfit, isn’t it?” Legolas was saying, plucking at the soft material in disgust. “I don’t really look like a girl. Do I? Please, tell me it is the outfit!”
“Of course it is the outfit.” Tavor assured him. “It is pink and well, that is a girl’s color.” He had never seen Legolas so distressed before.
Brethil, who had been rather quiet, looked up at them.
“I don’t know.” He began quietly, studying Legolas’ face. “You are very beautiful.”
Legolas turned to him, regarding him with despair.
“Well, you are. Even Tavor has said so.”
“What?! I said no such thing.” Tavor’s face reddened. “I didn’t Legolas. Honestly! Brethil, what are you playing at?”
Legolas looked at Tavor, blue eyes filled with suspicion.
“I didn’t! Brethil is making this up! Tell him, Brethil!”
But the younger Elf merely gazed at them with innocent grey eyes.
“Tavor!” Legolas gasped. “No! Don’t touch me! Stay back. First the Dwarves, and now you. I thought you were my friend. Just stay away from me!” He hurried away from the two, joining Meren and Ryn, glancing back accusingly at Tavor.
Tavor turned on Brethil,
“Why did you tell him that?! You know it wasn’t true!”
“I know. How was that for retaliation. I think I am getting the hang of this after all. I fooled you both!” He laughed merrily and moved to join Legolas and the others, leaving Tavor staring after him open mouthed.
Bilbo watched carefully as they entered Thranduil’s palace, but soon became lost in the labyrinth of passageways and corridors twisting and turning in every direction.
: Oh, dear. : he thought in despair. : How will I ever find the way out? :
The doors had shut behind them as if by magic, nearly catching him as he slipped through. And such a dreadful feeling it was to be shut up in here with no idea of where he was going or how he would get out again.
: Keep your wits about you, Baggins! : he told himself sternly. : You’re going to need them. :
The Elves escorted the Dwarves into a large room with gracefully carved pillars. Seated on a chair delicately carved with vines, leaves and flowers was Thranduil. He was dressed in dark green robes that shimmered in the light of the many torches and scented candles. On his golden head was a crown of berries and bright red leaves. He held a staff of oak skillfully carved, its end resting on the floor at his feet.
: Good heavens! : Bilbo thought with a moment of panic. : He does not look happy. The poor Dwarves! I wonder what he will do to them? :
Thranduil’s eyes swept over the string of Dwarves waiting as the blindfolds were removed. His eyes moved to his son, whom he noticed was not standing with Tavor at his side. He raised one eyebrow at that and then scowled deeply at his youngest.
: What did I do now? : Legolas wondered. : I haven’t even been here. What could possibly have happened now? :
The Dwarves blinked in the sudden light and looked about.
“Good stone.” Balin said, admiring the room. “Looks like it was carved by Dwarves.”
“Silence!” Thranduil barked. His head was pounding, there was spider hair on his robe, the necklace that matched this outfit was missing, and he was not in a good mood. He glared at Legolas and gestured sharply for him to stand at his side. Celebross and Aralith seemed to have disappeared which had not pleased the king either. “Unbind the Dwarves.” He said. “And bring them closer. They aren’t going anywhere.” He stared down at them imperiously. “There is no escape from my magic doors for those who are once brought inside.”
: Oh, dear. : the Hobbit thought. : Now even if I can find them again, which I doubt, I won’t be able to get out of them. :
Then the interrogation began and a long and arduous one it was. Thranduil was stubborn, but the Dwarves were angry and surly and stubborn as well.
“What have we done, O king?” Balin asked, feeling that as the eldest, now that Thorin had gone missing, it was his place to speak for them all. “Is it a crime to be lost in the forest, to be hungry and thirsty, to be trapped by spiders? Are the spiders your tame beasts or your pets, if killing them makes you angry?”
Thranduil’s face darkened and he turned to glare at his son once more. : Pet spiders indeed, : he thought, recalling how his room looked and the robes covered with spider hair and the missing jewelry.
: What did I do? : Legolas wondered, amazed at the shade of red that his father’s face had turned.
Thranduil growled in his throat and turned back to the Dwarves.
“It is a crime to wander in my kingdom without leave. Do you forget that you were in my kingdom, using the road that my people made? Did you not three times pursue and trouble my people in the forest and rouse the spiders with your riot and clamor? After all the disturbance you have made I have a right to know what brings you here, and if you will not tell me now, I will keep you all in prison until you have learned sense and manners! And why are you staring at my son in that way?!”
Gloin, Balin, Fili, Nori and Dori jumped, hardly realizing that they were indeed staring at Legolas.
“Son?” Dori whispered. “Son?!”
“Yes, my son.” Thranduil said, turning to look at Legolas. He studied his son in his pink outfit, then frowned. “Who is about to change out of that ridiculous thing he is wearing. Yes. He is my son. And you are not to look at him thus!”
“Son?” Balin said, staring even harder. “But he is as fair as a rose in May.”
Legolas mouth fell open in horror.
Tanglinna stifled a laugh, his eyes bright as they met Thranduil’s. The king shook his head and clutched his temples, which were pounding mercilessly.
“Take them to the dungeons.” He said. “Give them something to eat and drink. But not one of them is to pass out of their cells until they tell me what I want to know. Now get them out of here!”
The Dwarves were marched away. Gloin, Balin, Fili, Nori and Dori glancing back at Legolas.
“Son.” Balin whispered, in disbelief. “His son.”
Gloin shook his head, his hand on his tunic, over his treasured spun gold hairs.
“He is only saying that because we are Dwarves so we will not look at her. She is much too fair to be a son.”
After they had left, the four Dwarves still gazing behind them, Thranduil turned to Legolas.
“Do you see this, little Greenleaf?” he asked, holding up the corner of his robe.
Legolas stared at it.
“I don’t see –“ Then he did see the small silvery hairs. Very familiar hairs. He swallowed.
“Do you know what they are?” Thranduil continued.
Legolas nodded slightly.
“Yes. Spider hairs.” Thranduil’s voice was very quiet and very calm. It scared his son immensely. “And how do you suppose they got there?”
Legolas turned to look at Brethil and Tavor.
“I…I can’t imagine.”
“Well, I will tell you.”
Tanglinna covered his ears and all but Brethil and Tavor fled the room.
“BECAUSE THERE WAS A SPIDER IN MY ROOM, WEARING ONE OF MY NECKLACES - AND MY ROBE! THAT IS WHY!!”
Legolas squeezed his eyes shut and shuddered. Across the room Brethil’s eyes brightened.
“Oh! Did Gwibess come home? How wonderful! You didn’t have to worry after all, Legolas. Everything is fine now.”
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.