19. The Wild Berry War
But even as this thought crossed his mind, his eyes strayed to the children's table across the clearing. Seated at the shorter tables covered with green cloths embroidered with grape vines and butterflies were the children of Mirkwood. And seated in their midst were his youngest son, his two friends and the Master Archer, their long hair hanging down their backs in a single intricate braid. Tanglinna seemed very disconcerted as he sat with the giggling, laughing Elf children. And Tavor looked rather unsure of what to make of his present situation. But the looks of delight and great amusement on Legolas' and Brethil's faces gave the Elf king pause. They actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. He shook his head and reached for his wine, refusing to worry overmuch about anything this night.
Legolas was smiling at the antics of a small boy seated across from him. The child, one Celuon by name, was carefully sorting through the pile of berries on his plate, expecting each one carefully before eating them. His green gaze fixed on the Elf prince every few moments. Legolas smiled at him and picked up a plump berry from his own plate. He held it out to the child who inspected it then nodded. Legolas popped the berry into his mouth and grinned. The child grinned back.
"Legolas, what are you doing?" Tavor asked, feeling rather ridiculous seated at the much too small table in a much too small chair, knowing that he looked as silly as he felt. "One would think you were enjoying this."
Mirkwood's prince shrugged eating another berry deemed acceptable by his tablemate.
"Actually, I am. I always rather resented sitting here when I was a child, wanting to sit at the big tables with the grown-ups, but now it is rather enjoyable.'
Brethil was enjoying himself also, singing a rather silly duet with a golden haired girl child who was giggling helplessly before the song was done, her bright eyes watching him with undisguised admiration.
"I think Aralith would be happier here." He commented, looking to where Legolas' older brother sat beside Thranduil. "He doesn't look very festive."
Aralith wasn't feeling very festive. The spider Remmith wouldn't leave him alone. The giant beast haunted the young prince's room at night, demanding more and more sparkly things. His every waking moment was fraught with dread, fearing to see the lumbering arachnid bearing down on him at any moment. He sat now, surrounded by his family and friends, glancing about wondering where Remmith was. He had taken to trailing his father everywhere, knowing that the spider wouldn't dare to approach him if he were with Thrumb Dumb, the name the spider insisted was the king's.
"Where is my Magic Spider Spray?" he muttered quietly, his fingers tangling in his napkin. "Where is it? If only I could find it he would go away! Where is Mithrandir? He hasn't visited in so long. Why doesn't he come?!"
Celebross glanced at his brother.
"What are you talking about, Aralith?" he asked, shaking his silvery head in disbelief at his younger sibling. "Spider spray!" He snorted. "I thought you had outgrown that nonsense."
Tavor looked at Aralith and shook his head, but then he saw the gazes of some of the Elf maidens on him, the laughter quite evident on their fair faces. His own face flushed with red and he turned miserably away.
"Will this never end." He moaned, picking morosely at his food. "Will we ever stopped being punished for this? It wasn't even our fault. I mean, it wasn't Gwibess was it?" He looked to Legolas.
"I told you it wasn't. It was one of those other spiders." He deftly picked up one of his own and threw it at the child, hitting him on the top of his blonde head. He totally ignored Tanglinna's rather distressed look. "Gwibess said that there are three of them around here somewhere. They want masters." He laughed at the expression on the child's face. "It had to be one of them. But I am not telling father that there are now four spiders running loose here. You tell him."
Celuon picked up a berry, inspected it, then tossed it at Legolas who looked at him with mock surprise.
Tavor widened his eyes and snorted.
"I think not. Thank you all the same. But it really isn't fair. It wasn't our spider. And we really need to do something with her. She just can't come into the palace whenever she pleases." He shifted uncomfortably in his small seat. "I don't like this, Legolas. Baranri and Colmaidh are staring at us." His eyes wandered to the young maidens once more, their hands over their mouths as they whispered back and forth to one another, their eyes dancing with amusement as they stared at the children's tables.
Celaer, Brethil's little admirer had thrown a plump blueberry at him, and was giggling wildly as he threw one back.
"They are staring at you , Tavor. You look so grumpy. Rather like the king on a bad day." He threw another berry at the child, smiling at her.
"Don't start that again, young one!" Tanglinna snapped, his gaze going to his king, fearing that Thranduil's sharp ears would pick up on their words and bring even more anger down on them. "An no more talk about spiders either!"
"Start what, old sourpuss." Legolas said, launching a berry at the Master Archer. It hit him squarely on the nose.
Calaer squealed with laughter at the look on Tanglinna's long- suffering dignified face. Celuon's eyes widened uncertainly then he made a careful inspection of a berry and threw it at Tanglinna as well.
Legolas glanced at Brethil, who grinned as his eyes slide to Tavor.
"Oh, no. I am not getting involved in this." Tavor stated, folding his arms over his chest and managing to overbalance himself in the tiny chair. He fell backwards with a woof of surprise. Suddenly Legolas and Brethil were pelting his prone form with berries, laughing like the children who had soon followed suit.
Tanglinna couldn't prevent his smile as he unfolded from his own chair, his fingers curling about some berries as well. But they didn't fly at Tavor. They landed solidly on Legolas and Brethil.
Soon bread and berries flew about the children's tables, amidst their shrieks of joy.
The grown-ups stared at them from their own tables and Thranduil shook his head and stood. Aralith looked panicked as he moved away across the grass, and he leapt up and followed.
"Wait for me, Adar!"
Thranduil threw an exasperated glance at his middle son - he was really becoming quite tiresome - and headed to where the food fight was in progress.
"What is this?" He asked, glaring at them.
The children instantly subsided, eyes wide as the king stared down at them from his impressive height, arms folded over his chest.
"Get up, Tavor." He said, looking down at the younger Elf, who rolled rather ungracefully to his feet, wiping at the berry juice stains on his festive tunic. Tavor took one glance at the king and looked at the ground.
"Ai, Valar." He whispered. "Not again!"
Brethil had dropped the last of his berries onto the ground, and stood looking anywhere but at Thranduil. Tanglinna stood with his eyes wide and blank. Completely innocent looking, or so he thought. But Legolas still held a handful of the berries, his blue eyes dancing.
"What is this?" Thranduil repeated, his eyes turned to each in turn.
"Nothing, Sire. Merely children being.children." Tanglinna answered, keeping his gaze straight ahead of him, which unfortunately was now on Legolas. : Don't even think it, nin caun : he thought at the prince who was looking decidedly mischievous.
For once Brethil managed to keep quiet though the words crowded in the area of his throat, begging for release. Tavor refused to look at anyone, though he could feel Tanglinna's great discomfort.
Thranduil gazed at his son, who was struggling to control what looked suspiciously like a smile of delight.
"Legolas. What is this behavior? You are too old to be acting in such a childish manner. Throwing your food. Honestly, will you never grow up."
"I doubt it, father." He tugged on his long pale child's braid that lay over his shoulder with the hand not cupped about the berries. "Twould seem I will always be a child."
Tanglinna groaned and shook his head imperceptibly.
"Don't." he hissed, drawing the king's gaze to himself.
"Did you have something to add, Tanglinna?"
"No, Sire. Not I."
"I didn't think so." His blue gaze returned to Legolas. "After all that has happened, how can you behave like this? Surely the pipeweed has worn off."
Legolas raised one dark brow as if say "perhaps it has, but who is to say."
Thranduil stared at him and narrowed his eyes. But before he could say or do anything in answer, a berry bounced off his dignified brow and caught in his autumn crown.
Legolas couldn't prevent the laugh from bursting forth and he looked at the berry thrower, young Celuon, who was smiling rather proudly at his handiwork.
Thranduil stared down at the imp whose eyes sparkled with laughter.
"And who, my I ask, taught you that trick, Celuon?" he asked plucking the berry from his crown and holding it between his fingers.
The child giggled and pointed to Legolas. Thranduil raised one brow and tossed the berry at his son. Legolas gasped and then smiled wickedly at his father and threw his handful of berries all at once.
Tanglinna gasped in shock and stared at the two royal Elves before him. They would never any of them grow up, he thought with something akin to amusement. Tavor groaned, wondering how much more undignified things could get when Brethil launched an attack on him. Tavor growled and picked up his own neat plate of berries and proceeded to throw them at his friends.
The children were all laughing and shrieking, clapping their hands with joy and throwing any thing that came to hand. Their parents and the other Elves began to laugh as they watched the wild berry war continue until all the combatants were laughing too hard to continue. Thranduil moved around the table to embrace his son, chuckling with delight.
"Mayhap I should wear a child's braid as well." He said, staring down into his son's shining blue eyes. "At times I fear I am too serious."
"That is not what I have heard." His eyes went to Tanglinna, who suddenly shook his head rather violently. "I heard that you once danced with a Goblin." He grinned widely. "And seemed to enjoy it right much."
Thranduil turned to stab Tanglinna with his eyes.
"And where did you hear that?" he asked, knowing quite well where that story had come from.
Legolas shrugged again, feeling that he had gotten his revenge on Tanglinna whose eyes were huge, rimmed with fear.
"Oh, I don't recall. Though it was rather a funny story. I shall have to tell Bilbo."
"Bilbo?" Thranduil asked, straightening his robes as he glared at the Master Archer. "Who is Bilbo?"
Legolas choked, his mouth opening and closing like a fish.
"Did I.did I say Bilbo? I.I." He grimaced an looked at the ground.
"Yes, you did say it. Who or what is Bilbo?" Thranduil stared at him.
: I am turning into Brethil : he thought miserably.
"Haven't you told him, Legolas? It is really a rather interesting tale, your Majesty." Brethil began, his eyes bright as he warmed to the tale that Legolas had told them during their time of punishment in the Gem Room. "You see, Bilbo is - "
"Shut up, Brethil!"
They all turned to Thranduil who had uttered the words. The king shook his head and adjusted his crown.
"Truly shut up. I do not wish to know. Now, may we finish our feast in peace?" He turned to the four. "If you wish you may join us at the grown ups table and.you may fix your hair if you wish."
Legolas grinned, relieved that Thranduil put an end to Brethil's story ere it began.
"If you don't mind, father, I think I will finish the feast here." He winked at Celuon, who grinned.
"And I as well, Sire." Brethil said, taking Celaer's hand and leading her into the clearing as the music began once again.
Tanglinna looked at Tavor who shrugged, but was pulling on his braid to free it.
"We will abide here as well, your Majesty. If it pleases you."
Thranduil shook his head in amusement then nodded. Slowly he moved back to his seat to watch the dancers, Aralith on his heels. Legolas had carried small Celuon out to join the others who were dancing happily. He perched the youngster on his hip and spun him about, both laughing happily. Tavor was delighted and surprised when Baranri and Colmaidh came up to him, running slender fingers through his loosened hair and invited him to join them in the dance as well. He smiled quite pleased with himself and followed them across the grass. Tanglinna had just reseated himself when a solemn eyed girl with tiny flowers braided into her long locks came and sat on his lap. She stared up at him with shining eyes and, tugging one of the flower chains from her own hair, adorned him with it. He smiled and carried her out to the dance.
Thranduil watched it all with amused eyes. This was indeed a feast that they would never forget.
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.