20. Brethilitis Strikes Again
Bilbo grimaced slightly and bid farewell to the Dwarf.
: Bother! : he thought as he crept back up the passage way and into the more inhabited part of the palace. : Those Dwarves are more trouble than they are worth! No amount of treasure will make up for this! I only have one ring and there are thirteen of them! How am I to get them out of here? Those blasted doors seem to be the only way out of this confusing place. What am I to do? :
His furry feet carried him to Legolas' room. The activity about the palace was rather subdued that day as the feast of the night before had been very festive indeed. Legolas was lying on his bed staring at the ceiling; his blue eyes somewhat blank. Bilbo slipped his ring into his pocket and climbed onto the bed, smiling.
"Rather late in the day to be lazing in bed." He said cheerfully. When he received no response, he frowned and bent over the prince. "Prince Legolas?" The Elf remained motionless. The poor Hobbit felt a stab of fear pass through him. What if he was dead? What if the pipeweed had at last killed him? "Legolas! Legolas!" He shook the Elf looking into those staring blue eyes.
Legolas' eyes focused and he blinked, rather startled by Bilbo seated on his knees beside him shaking him rather forcefully.
"What is it?" he said, sitting up. "What is wrong? Bilbo?"
Bilbo stared at him.
"I .I thought you were." He shook his head. "Your eyes were open and you weren't responding."
Legolas stretched catlike and stared at the Hobbit.
"I was asleep, Bilbo. I had a rather late night."
"Asleep? But your eyes were open. How could you be sleeping?"
The Elf prince laughed merrily. He felt in quite a good mood and smiled down at the Hobbit, whose blue eyes were filled with confusion and concern.
"All Elves sleep with their eyes open, Bilbo. Unless we are ill or hurt. And what are you doing in here anyway? Where have you been these past days?" Even as he said this he thought : Do I really want to know? : He knew that his father was not one to let anything slip by him, and he had mentioned the Hobbit's name the night before. Then Brethil had started to blurt out everything he knew in typical Brethil fashion before Thranduil had stopped him. His father may not have wanted to know whom Bilbo was last night, but Legolas feared that Thranduil might want to know today. Truly, his father never forgot anything. "Never mind." He muttered, looking down at the cover on his bed. It was best not to know. And he couldn't get in trouble for something he didn't know. Well, maybe not.
"I have been visiting the Dwarves."
Legolas raised his dark brows and got out of the bed.
"And how are they faring?" he asked politely, moving to wash his face, which had suddenly reddened as he recalled what had happened the Dreadful Night of the Pipeweed Incident as he had come to think of it. He stared into his mirror and pushed distractedly at the hair sticking up on the left side of his head. "They are all well, aren't they? We have been feeding them, you know. They are no longer starving." He still felt somewhat guilty about not feeding them when they had happened on them in the woods.
"Oh, no, they are no longer starving. They are all doing quite well actually." The Hobbit laughed and slipped from the bed and moved to the chair he had inhabited when portraying Silivren Hithlain Man. "Bombur doesn't want to leave."
"Oh? And why is that?" Legolas splashed water on his face and dried it.
Bilbo chuckled remembering his conversation with the Dwarf. Bombur was rather enjoying his time of imprisonment. His guards had soon found him to be something of a connoisseur of foodstuffs and had delighted in bringing him delicacies from the kitchens that were meant for the king's table. They enjoyed his critiques, thought he never seemed to have anything bad to say about anything placed before him.
Legolas smiled at this, having heard much the same thing from some of the Elf guards. He frowned once more at his hair muttering again as his slender fingers tried once more to weave it - unsuccessfully - into a longer braid somewhat further back on his head then it normally would have been.
Bilbo smiled over at him, and shook his head.
"I really am rather sorry about the pipeweed, Prince Legolas. If I had known how you would react to it I never would have given it to you."
"If I had known how I would react I never would have taken it." The Elf rejoined, pushing yet again at his wet hair with his fingers. "I can't believe I cut my Warrior braid off." He said, glaring at his reflection. "And gave it to a Dwarf!"
"Gloin is quite thrilled with it." The Hobbit continued, looking amused. "He keeps it near his heart. He was all concern for your welfare after it happened."
"I am pleased to hear it." Legolas said sarcastically, then a worried frown creased his brow. "He doesn't still think that I am a female, does he?"
"Well." Bilbo shrugged. "I am afraid he does, though he mentioned that your voice was deeper than he imagined."
"My voice?" He snorted, then paused. "Bilbo, did I really sing with the Dwarf?"
"You did. And a very nice song it was, too. Something about rolling down a hole." The Hobbit laughed remembering that night. "Your voices complimented one another nicely. Though I was rather surprised that Gloin knew any songs in Elvish."
"The barrel song." Legolas groaned, leaning forward to rest his hands on the dresser and shaking his head. "I hate that song."
"What is the barrel song?" Bilbo asked curiously.
"It is a song that we sing about the empty barrels that we float out of the palace and down the river. We import many of our things from other places. Especially the wines. They come from our kin in the south or from the Men. Valar!" he sighed, looking at his mutilated hair once more.
"You float the barrels down the river? The one that runs in front of the castle?" Bilbo sat forward, suddenly feeling a dim ray of hope.
"Yes. Celon o Tinnu - the River of Night."
"Do you roll the barrels out of the magic doors then?" Bilbo asked excitedly.
"No. They are pushed into the water and go out the water-gate. Some of them go to Long Lake. There is a settlement of Men there living on an island. The only way to reach it is by crossing one of their many bridges." He snorted, twisting at his hair and giving himself a headache. "They fear the Dragon of course."
"Dragon? Did you say Dragon?" : Perhaps, : he thought gleefully. : I am useful!:
He listened to the prince rattle on and on about Smaug the great Dragon that inhabited Erebor. And how it hoarded all the Dwarves treasures that were supposedly in the mountain. But while he continued to speak Bilbo heard something that the prince did not: footsteps approaching the room. He hastily shoved his ring onto his finger and slid out of the chair and under the bed.
"I have always wanted to see a Dragon." Legolas was saying, pleased with himself now that the hair had at last been forced into a tight braid that he continued to weave it in with some longer strands. "I know that is foolish, but I am sure Dragons are quite impressive. That is why I like my bubble pipe so much. It has a Dragon's head on it, remember? They must be quite enormous. Don't you think so, Bilbo?" He turned to the Hobbit, but he was gone.
"Who are you talking to, little Greenleaf?"
He spun and found his father standing in the doorway, one brow raised.
Blue eyes frantically searched his room for any sign of the Hobbit. But he was nowhere to be seen. He gulped slightly and turned to his father.
"I.um.that is.I was just." His eyes widened as they met Thranduil's. His father did not look amused as he had the night before.
"Little Greenleaf, I believe that there are some things we need to discuss." He said, his own eyes roaming about the room for the elusive Bilbo.
"Oh? I can't imagine what. Wasn't.wasn't the feast last night wonderful?" He smiled tremulously. "And.and the children were so sweet and cute and -"
Thranduil's brow rose further.
"And did you see Tanglinna dancing with Lendlaes? She is so small and cute and he looked rather ungainly. Almost like you must have looked dancing with the Goblin when you smoked.pipeweed.in.the forest." He faltered and swallowed. Then he groaned. : There must be magic afoot here! : he thought desperately. : Because I have turned into Brethil:
Thranduil's face reddened and his eyes narrowed. He had not had an amusing night after the feast. Aralith had trailed him to his room, insisting that he wanted to spend the remainder of the night there and not in his own room. And when at last he had wrested the reason for his son's great fear from him - more spiders in the palace!! - he had lost his mellow mood and spent the rest of the night brooding and growling. And now his son mentioned that time with the Goblin!! No one was supposed to remember that! He had specifically told all those who had been with him at the time to forget about it! But it seemed someone had not. : I should have made them drink water from Morn Nen : he thought angrily.
"What did you say?" he asked in a low dangerous voice.
Thranduil breathed slowly several times through his nose, feeling the heat in his face cool a bit.
"It seems we have more to discuss than I first thought." He managed in a normal voice. "You had better come with me now."
Legolas' shoulders slumped and he grimaced. He glanced once more in the mirror only to find that his braid had come loose and his short hair was free once more.
"This is not going to be a good day." He said morosely.
"What are you saying now, little Greenleaf?" Thranduil called back from the hallway.
"Nothing. I am saying nothing. Ai, Valar. When will I learn to keep my mouth shut. I am turning into Brethil. This is not going to be a good day." And he followed his father down the hallway, kicking at the floor.
Bilbo waited until they were gone before slipping from under the bed.
"Water-gate, eh?" He smiled. "I will have to find out about this water-gate." He left the room, quietly and on invisible feet. "Thank you again, Prince Legolas. This has turned out to be a rather good day for me!" And he hurried down the corridors toward the cellars.
Yes. I know that Bilbo learned about the water-gate by lurking in corners and listening to the king's servants talking about it. But I changed it a little. Canon people I apologize, but hey! It is more fun this way.
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