2. The Return
Elrond peered over the mountain of paperwork stacked rather precariously on his desk and shot his dark-haired advisor a look that would have made a lesser elf quail and flee in the direction from whence they had come, as he queried testily: "Erestor, are you the first elf in the history of Arda to come down with a cold, or are you merely trying to get my attention?"
"I am afraid that I am the bearer of ill tidings, my Lord," replied Erestor gravely as he steadfastly stood his ground. Truth be told, the unfortunate advisor would have rather been anywhere else at that moment, for Elrond had one of his infamous headaches and he was in a rather foul mood. Of course, no one could really blame him for his temper, as Legolas was again in Imladris, and that could only be bad news for all concerned.
Elrond threw down his quill in disgust. Upon hearing of Legolas's return, he had immediately locked himself in his office in an attempt to get as much work done as possible before the inevitable. He had not expected to be interrupted this soon, however, as usually he was given at least one day of reprieve. It had been less than ten hours since the elf prince had arrived. "What have they done now?"
"I am not quite certain, my Lord. I have just received a report from the border guards that the two were spotted limping back to Rivendell and that they looked to be in bad condition," responded the always-somber advisor. "Shall I have them taken to their usual rooms in the healing ward?" Neither felt the need to specify who 'they' were.
"No," said Elrond firmly without so much as a moment's hesitation. "Have them brought here immediately."
"Here, to your study?" asked Erestor, a hint of surprise in his voice. "Are you sure? There is every reason to believe that they are grievously injured. Again."
"You heard me. Bring them here."
Within minutes, the guilty-looking pair were standing before the elf lord's desk as ordered. Aragorn had a make-shift bandage wrapped around his head, and seemed to be clutching his ribs as he moaned in pain. Legolas grimaced as he cradled his arm, which was bent most unnaturally in several directions.
Without so much as offering the two a seat, Elrond directed at them a look that would have brought anyone with the even the slightest hint of sense to their knees begging for forgiveness. "Dare I ask what ridiculous situation you two have gotten yourselves into and out of this time? No, don't tell me, do let me guess … it is so much more fun that way! Let's see…poison orc arrow?"
Legolas and Aragorn remained standing, leaning against each other in order to prop themselves up, as Aragorn replied with a roll of his eyes: "No, try harder."
"You're right, that's far too simple. How about…mauled by wargs?"
"Mugged by bandits?"
"Sold into slavery by slave-traders?"
"No! That hasn't happened since September."
"Ah, of course. You got up close and personal with a dragon?"
"Pushed off a cliff by crazy, deranged elves?"
"Nope, not this time."
"Tortured by men who have an inexplicable desire to be evil?"
"Sat on by a Mumakil?"
"No! Do not even go there!"
"Sorry. Burned by a criminal mastermind bent on taking over Bree?"
"Captured by Haradrim and abandoned in the middle of a vast desert buried up to your necks in sand?"
"Your ears chewed on by giant rabid beavers that mistook your head for wood?"
"NO! Don't be ridiculous! That was last time."
"Right you are. Hmm, let me think…beaten to a pulp by stone-trolls?"
Elrond responded with a nod of his head and a single raised eyebrow: "Ah, a classic. Dare I ask exactly how, pray tell, you came to be beaten within an inch of your lives by trolls while you were supposed to remain safely here in Rivendell? Safe being a relative term, of course."
Aragorn raised his head proudly as he looked Lord Elrond in the eyes directly: "You and everyone else here are always coddling me. You all treat me like a child and you never let me do what I want. Now I find out about this whole heir of Isildur thing, and I wanted to go out and prove to you all that I am a man now and that you could trust me to do things on my own."
Now the second eyebrow joined the first as Elrond glared at his foster son with a look that would have caused a wiser man to run screaming from the room. "So, let me get this straight, in order to prove to your elders that you are mature enough for them to trust you in a position of responsibility, you decided it was a bright idea to sneak away like a naughty child without telling anyone and take on a bunch of mighty, ferocious, fearsome trolls on your own?"
Aragorn looked down, shrugging his shoulders and shuffling his feet. "I guess when you put it that way, it doesn't sound like such a good idea after all."
Elrond responded with a snort of derision. "Well, let's put it this way, I don't think that you should be winning any contests for this one."
At this point, Legolas felt compelled to jump in and defend the honour of his best friend forever. "Now, now Elrond, don't you think you are being a little hard on the lad? Think of his self-esteem. You are hurting his feelings!"
With an accusatory raise of his eyebrow and a disbelieving shake of his head, Elrond then turned his considerable consternation on Legolas: "Because of his inconceivably foolish and childish behaviour and your amazing lack of judgment, you were beaten to within an inch of your lives by trolls, and you're worrying about his self-esteem!?! With his stunningly imbecilic actions he does not deserve to feel good about himself!"
Giving Legolas a look that would have caused an orc to repent from his evil ways, Elrond continued, his voice and his eyebrows both rising with his temper: "And you, a supposedly wise, mature, fully grown, many centuries old elf PRINCE who claims he is a friend to my young and obviously foolish foster son decided to go merrily along with this ill-conceived, harebrained scheme without enlisting aid because…because…?"
Legolas returned the indignant Elf Lord's gaze defiantly as he responded boldly: "Because he asked it of me and I am his best friend, and an act of friendship is far more important than an act of sense…" Legolas's voice trailed of weakly.
Elrond, eyebrows raised unnaturally high, shook his head at the utter inanity of it all and, with a deep sigh of resignation, asked: "Legolas, don't you have something better you could be doing with your time than corrupting my son and encouraging his ludicrous ideas? Oh, like, perhaps, just maybe, being the PRINCE of MIRKWOOD?!?"
Legolas opened his mouth to reply, but Elrond quickly cut him off: "If you dare even try to make one single crack about my eyebrows, I swear by all that is good and holy you will regret it." Legolas promptly shut his mouth.
Having remained silent for far too long, Aragorn felt the need to pipe up: "Ada, I know that you are angry with us, and perhaps it was not the best idea, and I promise that it won't happen again, but we are badly injured and I am starting to feel quite woozy so do you think that you could, you know, heal us now?"
Aragorn's eyes widened in disbelief and his voice took on a truly whiny tone as he exclaimed: "No!?! But you always heal us! You are my ada and a healer and that is what you are supposed to do!"
Shooting Aragorn a look that would have made a wiser son go and heal himself, Elrond responded: "Well, no longer. I am not going to do it anymore. I am not going to work my fingers to the bone attempting to heal you and rescue you from your own stupidity yet again simply so you can go out and repeat the same mistakes over and over ad nauseam."
"Don't you see?" Elrond continued with a sigh. "It is always the same thing. You two go out and do something incredibly foolish and utterly senseless and inevitably get yourselves badly injured in the process. Then you come limping back here for me to heal you, which I repeatedly do, and we all have a nice opportunity to get all sad. After a brief period of angst, you two make the same highly original and stunningly humorous jibes about the awful taste of my medicinal tea. Then, within far too brief a time, you are up and repeating the whole process again, having learned nothing from your previous experiences. Well, I'm just not going to play anymore."
Aragorn grabbed the arm of a chair to steady himself as he whined with a pout: "But we are badly hurt. Don't you care? We could die!"
That's just it," replied Elrond as he casually crossed his arms and leaned against his desk. "Haven't you two realized it by now? No matter what you do, you can not die."
Seeing the disbelieving looks on two stunned faces, Elrond continued: "Let's take, as but one example, a look at a typical week in the lives of Legolas and Aragorn. Hmm, how about the last time Legolas graced Rivendell with his presence? Let's see…I believe, that on the first day of his arrival, the two of you decided to go on a nice simple little hunting trip, correct?"
Two heads nodded in confirmation and Elrond continued: "Of course, nothing with you two can ever be that simple. You stumbled upon a den of orcs within the boundaries of Imladris that we were somehow unaware of, and, in a stroke of utter brilliance, you decided to go into the cave and investigate on your own. In the inevitable scuffle that resulted, Aragorn knocked out a support pillar with his sword, causing a cave-in and resulting in a boulder striking him in the head, rendering him unconscious."
Aragorn rubbed his currently re-injured head at the recollection and Elrond continued with his narrative: "Then Legolas, carrying you to safety, attempted to jump a vast chasm in order to get away from the orcs, but he just barely missed the landing, causing him to fall fifty feet and breaking his back."
"When you two were brought to the healing ward, we all grieved over your condition, as Aragorn had a severe concussion from which it was doubtful he would ever wake and, in my professional opinion, it appeared that Legolas would never walk again."
"Well, you two quickly proved me wrong, as within hours, Aragorn was wide awake and good as new. Then, insisting that recovering from your paralysis was simply a case of 'mind over matter,' he decided to play a trick on you by lighting one of his awful pipes, hiding behind the door of your room, and yelling 'FIRE' at the top of his lungs. Well, defying all that made sense to me as the most gifted healer in all of Arda, you were immediately up and running."
Aragorn giggled. "That was a funny one. You should have seen the look on your face, Legolas!"
Legolas glared at him. "You just couldn't let me have my little moment of deep, profound angst, now could you?"
Shaking his head, Elrond took a deep breath before speaking again. "The next day, against my better judgment, you two decided to resume your hunting trip and as soon as you were outside Rivendell's borders, you were promptly taken hostage by Legolas's evil, psychotic, second cousin on his mother's side."
Aragorn shuddered at the recollection of that terribly terrible traumatic trauma. "There do seem to be an inordinate number of evil, psychotic elves around, don't there?"
Without so much as a sideways glance, Elrond continued: "And, simply because he was so incredibly and utterly deranged and evil, he cut off Legolas's right arm for the pure fun of it. Do you remember that one?"
Legolas, looking a little indignant at that question, responded haughtily: "Of course, I remember that! It was a great opportunity for angst."
Elrond, with a look that would have brought profound fear to the hearts of saner men and elves, replied: "Oh yes, it was so terribly sad, and we all had a good cry over it, until, the very next day, when, defying all logic and the rules of nature, your arm somehow, miraculously, GREW BACK!!! And, may I add, it was stronger and better than ever."
With a shrug of his shoulders and a smug look, Legolas replied: "What can I say? I have good genes."
Elrond simply nodded his head in affirmation, for no level of idiocy could phase him any longer. "Ah ha, good genes, I see. And then, if I recall correctly, later that same day, you rose from your sickbed to join Estel in, pardon the pun, single-handedly eliminating an entire fleet of Corsair ships that had somehow made their way up the Bruinen and were threatening to attack Rivendell."
"I couldn't let my trifling injuries get in the way of defending Rivendell. I have a strong sense of duty," Legolas explained proudly.
Elrond shot Legolas a look that would have sent all but the most brave or the most foolish running for cover. "A sense of duty that, unfortunately for the rest of us, does not seem to extend to your own kingdom!"
Without waiting for whatever highly intelligent response Legolas was going to offer, Elrond continued: "And, since the two of you once again went gaily skipping off alone to fight hundreds of pirates without thinking to enlist the aid of Glorfindel or any of the other highly trained Imladris warriors you had at your disposal, you did not escape that little escapade unscathed either. That time, it was Aragorn's turn to suffer a grave injury as he was slashed through the chest by a cutlass which punctured his lung and grazed his heart."
Aragorn grimaced. "Oh, yeah, I remember that! It really hurt."
"I'm sure it did," Elrond continued, "and Legolas and the Els and I had another terrific opportunity to get all sad and angsty as I laboured for hours to pull you from the very brink of death. Then, after one day of listening to you complain about how much you hated being confined to bed, you were up again, as good as new, running around Rivendell pulling a prank that, I believe, involved the pouring of a bucket of cold water on Elone's, or was it Eltwo's, head."
Legolas sniggered at the memory. "Hee, hee, that one never gets old."
Here now, Aragorn eagerly joined the conversation: "Oh, the bucket of water trick is okay, but nothing tops the ol' dye in the shampoo prank. Remember the time we dyed Glorfindel's hair green?"
"Oh, that was funny all right," Legolas responded, "But not nearly as funny as the time we dyed his hair red. Red is a much more funny colour than green."
Aragorn wrinkled his brows in deep thought. "Do you really think so? I have always been rather partial to purple myself…"
Elrond listened to the conversation for a brief while, temporarily fascinated by the absolute, utter inanity of it all, until he finally snapped: "Don't you get it yet? Do you still fail to understand what I am saying? No matter what astoundingly stupid things you do, and no matter what happens to you as a result, YOUR ACTIONS NEVER HAVE ANY REAL CONSEQUENCES!!!"
"There is never any real drama in anything you do, because we always know exactly how it will turn out. Neither of you ever learn anything from your experiences, nor gain any wisdom, nor progress or change in any way. It is like the ultimate reset button," said Elrond with a yawn, "And in all honesty, it is getting incredibly boring. It also makes it impossible for anyone to actually care about anything that happens to you two."
Upon hearing this amazing little bit of insight, the pout once again returned to Aragorn's fairly fair face, and he stomped his foot as he whined: "What do you mean, you don't care! You have to care because we are so great, and so wonderful and so hot…"
Elrond looked at him intently and, for once, it seemed as though he could in fact actually be a wise, noble and ancient being as he spoke: "Aragorn, Arathorn's son, Lord of the Dunedain, listen to me! A great doom awaits you, either to rise above the height of all your fathers since the days of Elendil, or to fall into darkness with all that is left of your kin."
This gained the attention of Aragorn and Legolas as finally they both fell silent and looked at Elrond with deeply stunned and confused expressions. Unfortunately, the respite was all too brief, as Aragorn, a look of utter bewilderment marring his pretty young face responded: "Huh? What in all Arda are you on about?"
Elrond returned Aragorn's gaze with a hint of defiance in his voice. "I wanted to try something a little different. You know, behave like I am as noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer. I am over six millennia old, and I have seen the greatest joys and the deepest sorrows the likes of which you could not conceive. I thought I should start trying to act like it. What do you think?"
Legolas narrowed his eyes in a suspicious squint as he studied the elf lord warily. "I don't like it. I don't like it at all. This doesn't work. People do not speak like this. Where did you get this dialogue from anyway?"
With a despondent slump of his shoulders, Elrond seemed much more subdued as he answered: "I thought it sounded pretty. I read it in a book somewhere."
Aragorn, being a young and inexperienced mortal, was very confused by all this erudite talk with big words, and, besides, he was being ignored, so he piped up again, his voice a little petulant as he asked: "What does any of this have to do with me?"
Realizing the utter futility of his attempts, Elrond bowed his head in defeat as he answered deflatedly: "Obviously, not a lot."
Aragorn looking far too full of himself, responded smugly: "I didn't think so!" Then, turning to Legolas with that look in his eye again, he asked: "Hey Legolas, I'm tired of all this talk, what say we find the Els and take another little hunting trip?"
With a light wave of his hand and dismissive shrug of his shoulders, Legolas responded airily: "Sure, why not? It sounds like fun. Besides, what harm could possibly come of it anyway?"
I hope you enjoyed that silly little romp, thanks for reading. Please take a moment to let me know what you thought, reviews are always most appreciated!
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.