1. Changing The Rules
Author's Note: Many people have helped me with this story along the way. Many thanks to Wimsey, Nea and nautika for their help in earlier drafts; and much thanks to my current betas for the final drafts: Aearwen and Ignoblebard.
Warning: This story contains sexual content between married couples.
Greenwood The Great
Year 310 Third Age
She stopped, her feet firmly planted, but she refused to turn her eyes towards the speaker calling her name. Cellinn crossed her arms over her chest and clenched her teeth in anger. How dare he try to talk to her after what he had done! "NO, Legolas! I do not want to forgive you! I do not ever wish to speak to you again!" Her anger had her trembling, and she hoped the harsh words would be sufficient to make him leave her alone.
The sound of his steps halted and she heard his slight intake of breath, then he began in a placating tone that grated on her nerves. "But Cellinn, the stablemaster said it was a minor injury. It wasn't my fault — that fox came out of nowhere!"
She spun around, her loose hair swishing out behind her as she turned and stared at him. He had folded his arms and his eyes sparkled with indignation. He had no reason to be indignant! "Not your fault? You took my horse, without my permission, and ran her nearly to death, going break-neck over jumps—"
"She's a better jumper than Echereb," he interrupted, as if that settled everything!
She gaped at him a moment. "Gwaloth is the better jumper, so you thought you'd just take her, without asking, on some foolish stunt, nearly getting you both killed…" She let out a small scream of frustration. "I tire of your thoughtlessness! When we were children, you shoved those nasty creatures of yours in my face, and even now, you do not show me the respect due a friend! It never stops! Just last week, my favorite dress was ruined thanks to your showing off! I've had enough!" With each word, he had flinched back. Good! "I am done. As it is obvious I am not important enough for you to consider my feelings, I do not wish to be your friend anymore." Her voice broke on the last words, but she raised her chin so he would know she was serious. Even as angry as she was, pain flared in her chest saying the words, words she meant. She tamped it down with her ire. She had had enough.
His gaze wavered, indicating he was shaken by her words. "You really mean it? You will end our friendship because a fox startled your horse?"
Oh of all the arrogant, stubborn... There was no point in rehashing it again. He would never see the truth of what he had done, so she nodded once, firm, decided. "Yes! I told you last week that if you did something stupid once more, I would never speak to you again, and I meant it!"
"But Cellinn! You always say that, ever since we were little you have threatened to stop speaking to me for such things, yet you always forgive me in the end. We have always been friends..." Legolas looked confused and tilted his head as he gazed at her, waiting for some explanation.
Cellinn pressed her lips together in determination. She would not let him talk her into forgiving him this time. She had had enough of his pranks, his teasing, his irresponsibility and slimy creatures. "I may have said it before, but I really meant it last time. Now, leave me alone!" She turned back around and stared at the small pink flowers on the ground in front of her, fighting back the tears that threatened to well up in her eyes.
"How was I to know you really meant it, when you have said it so many times before?" His voice sounded almost sorrowful, but she would not give in. He would never cease taunting her if she did not stand by what she said, no matter how much it hurt to do so.
She kept her eyes on the ground before her. "It does not matter, Legolas. I am through with it all. I suggest you find someone else to torment, for it will no longer be me."
And with that parting phrase, she walked away, heading towards the sound of giggling coming from further down the garden path. It was time she made a place for herself among the other young ladies. Her mother had urged her to do so since she was a child, but she had never listened, insisting on playing with the only boy her age. Now, she saw him for what he was. Males were dangerous, irrational creatures! They pushed the limits of friendship in order to show off their 'skills' for Elbereth knew what reason! Even stole her horse! She was sick of it all!
It was time she began to act more like the lady she was. She would reach her majority next spring; she was no longer a child, and it was time she started to act like an adult. It was unfortunate that a certain irritating prince had not come to the same conclusion when he had come of age almost two years ago.
Legolas stood in shock, watching her walk away from him. Cellinn was his best friend. She could not just up and decide to change the rules of their friendship all of a sudden! Could she? Sure, he had done some stupid things over the years, and she complained when she was the brunt of his pranks or they affected her adversely, but she always forgave him later. And she always joined in wholeheartedly in planning against others. And they always had a lot of fun. They had always been close, and he could not fathom his life without her in it.
I shouldn't have taken her horse...
She drew further away without glancing back, and with her every step, her rejection stung him more sharply. His fists tightened, his nails digging into his palms as he realized she was not going to turn back around and tell him it would be alright, that she would forgive him again. It was true; she was no longer going to be his friend - the only real friend he had. The only other elves his age were giggling, silly maidens, and he never understood them. His Cellinn alone was different.
He spun on his heel and fled from the garden and the churning, confusing emotions stirring inside him. He needed to get away, far away from the one who had cut him so deeply. He darted out of the garden gate and down the lane.
As she walked towards the other ladies, her heart ached, and Cellinn had to fight the urge to run back to Legolas as she had done so many times before. Unable to stop herself, she peeked over her shoulder, and gasped to find he had just disappeared. He never gave up that quickly. He must have believed her...or did not really care.
Good, she told herself. But it did not stop the ache that pulsed in her chest. Doing the right thing or not, she had still lost her best friend today. Her feet slowed as she continued towards the sound of giggling females, and she frowned. Somehow, even with all pain and fear his dangerous stunts and irritating pranks caused her, she knew from the few occasions she had spent time with them that the other young ladies would not be as much fun as a certain mischievous, and terribly handsome, young prince.
She slowed her steps even further, stopping to sit on a bench placed under an oak. She dropped her head into her hands, and despite her resolve, she let her memories take her back twenty or so years before...
"Come on! No one is looking!" Legolas motioned for Cellinn to follow him.
She glanced at their parents, seated some distance away on a much larger blanket than the one allotted to she and Legolas. The adults had seemed only too happy to agree to let the elflings have their own picnic a ways apart from them in the small meadow. The small basket, just for them, contained roast fowl, chunks of hard cheese, crusty bread, and almond cakes. There was even a flask of watered-down wine, though she suspected it was really just brambleberry juice. Her gaze drifted from the laughing adults, who were too caught up in their talking to notice the two elflings, and over to the horses.
The picnic had been Queen Eirien's idea, but their mothers let them choose the location. Legolas and Cellinn agreed the glade where the mares and foals grazed would be the best possible place to spend the day. It was near the King's Halls, within walking distance, and their parents had agreed. The warmth of the spring day and the scent of new growth made them all a little giddy, and they had laughed and pointed out different aspects of the scenery along the way.
When they arrived, the elflings had set up their picnic site as close to the horses as possible, which was not too close, since the mares herded their new babies away from them. Cellinn eyed the colorful wildflowers growing amid the grasses and longed to collect and braid them into crowns, but Legolas had his own plans for the meadow. Those plans involved convincing a young foal to come to him of its own free will.
She even now doubted he could get any of the protective mares to come to him, let alone one of the skittish foals. But she knew he was determined. She had not heard the conversation that had filled him with this desire, but he told her of it often! If you could call a new foal from its mother, could get it to let you run your hands over its neck and back, if you could place a kiss between its eyes, then that foal would be yours and a special bond would form between you.
Rolling her eyes, she stood up to follow him through the tall grasses towards the mares and foals.
"Get down!" Legolas hissed at her, crouching low to the ground. Like a wild thing, he crept up on the very suspecting horses. Many of the mares raised their heads high, snorting and blowing as they looked with much suspicion at the small elf easing towards them. The small foals, most less than a week old, moved uneasily around or under their dams. Cellinn giggled. She loved it when the babies skittered under their mothersâ€™ bellies.
A small, bay mare whinnied a command, and the group whirled, trotting away.. Legolas sat up looking rather annoyed and turned reproachful eyes on her. "You scared them!" he accused.
She rolled her eyes. It seemed to her that if a foal was to choose you, it would be better to approach them outright, where it could see you, and not crawling on the ground like a badger. She turned away from her friend, having decided she was going to win over a foal before he did. Walking nonchalantly towards the group of horses, she began to sing, keeping her voice pitched soft.
The mares ignored her, but the foals eyed her as if she were a giant wolf on the prowl. They hid behind their mothers, not letting Cellinn get a good look at them. It frustrated her, for how could she pick which one she wanted if they kept hiding? She moved around the group trying to see them, but the foals darted under tails or necks or bellies, keeping their dams between them and the perceived danger.
"That isn't going to work either," Legolas said, walking up to her, upright and like a normal elf should walk.
"Galass, I told you this would never work."
"It will," he assured her. "We just need to work together."
Cellinn turned her head to look up at him. He had grown taller than she again. "How?"
"I think letting them see us like you did is a good idea. I also think singing to them might work. Arandur sings to his horse all the time."
"But they just stare at us and the foals hide!"
"And that is where my idea comes in." He grinned at her, and then sat down in the grass, his back to the horses. "Sit down and ignore them." He grabbed her hand and pulled her down.
She felt very confused by this sudden change, and even more so, when Legolas began plucking flowers and singing softly. Well, it might not draw the horses, but at least she could make some flower chains. She began to hum along with him, recognizing the song he sang. For a long while, nothing happened, and Cellinn forgot about the horses.
Her fingers wove the flower stems into a golden crown, which she placed on Legolas's head. He grinned at her, one corner of his lips pulling up into crooked smile that caused his dimple to show. Then he puffed out his chest and making a face like his father, one long stem held in his right hand as if it were the king's intricately carved, oak staff. She giggled, and turned her attention to a crown for herself.
She had just tucked another stem into the chain, when something tickled her ear. She brushed at it, and continued her braiding. She did not really notice the flowers that dropped from Legolas's fingers.
"Linn," he whispered. She raised her head and looked at him. "Behind you!" He moved his eyes to gesture at something behind her.
Turning just her head, a little fearful of what she might find, she came face to face with a curious dark brown filly with a tiny white star on her forehead. The soft, dark eyes set in a lowered head blinked at her. "Oh, she's darling!" she whispered, reaching out a hand.
"Don't..." But the warning was too late. The filly scrambled away from her reaching hand and back to a safe distance from the elflings in the grass. Legolas sighed. "Now we have to start all over," he complained, but she could see he was not as upset as he pretended to be; he was grinning ear to ear.
They resumed their chain making and singing, and this time, it did not quite take as long to draw their quarry. This time, three foals, the filly along with two colts crept forward towards them.
"When they get closer," Legolas whispered, "just hold up your hand. Don't actually try to touch them. Let them come to you."
"All right," she whispered back.
The filly, having come to no harm from the strange creatures, was bolder this time. The colts dogged along behind her, much more cautious. Soon, Cellinn felt another tickle at her ear, and she giggled, but did not move. Then a soft nose touched her cheek and rubbed against her ear.
The filly lipped at her hair, and she turned to look at the foal, keeping her hands to herself. "Hello there, little one." The filly snorted in her face and resumed nuzzling in her hair.
"Linnaew," a soft, amazed whisper drew her attention back to Legolas. One of the colts had overcome his fear and was taking stock of her friend a little less gently than the filly investigated her. She smiled as the black colt butted Legolas's shoulder with his head. "Hey!" he laughed.
As she watched, he held up a hand, but did not reach for the colt. After a minute, the tiny muzzle found it, sniffing it curiously before lipping at Legolas's fingers. She raised one of her own hands and before long her own fingers were being explored. She took her cues from Legolas, who had much more experience with horses than she did, as he was allowed to ride under supervision. She had not had much interest in riding up until now, but as the filly became friendlier, and she stroked the soft neck and face, Cellinn decided she wished to have her own horse. This horse if it was possible.
"Well look at that!" a voice called, and they glanced up from their fuzzy companions to see their parents gazing at them with smiles on their faces. "Looks like the youngsters earned themselves the privilege of caring for a horse," the king stated, looking proud.
"Oh, I don't think Cellinn needs a horse!" her mother gasped. Eitheliel did not think young ladies should be caught up in such masculine pursuits.
"Please, Naneth?" Cellinn pleaded, leaning her face against the filly's forehead. "Oh please!" She turned her eyes upon her father, but he was already nodding.
"Let her have the horse, my love. It will teach her much responsibility." He nodded to where Legolas sat, looping his arms around the colt;s neck. "She will need such skills." Her father gave her mother a look Cellinn did not understand.
"And I can have Gondram?" Legolas asked looking up at the king with his arms still around the colt's neck.
Thranduil nodded with a laugh. "Is that what you will call him? Gondram?"
"Well," Legolas snickered, "he has a head as hard as a rock!"
They all laughed, and then the king looked at Cellinn. "And what will you name this lovely lady? She will be a beautiful gray like her dam when she gets older."
She thought for a minute, and then noted again the tiny white star on the filly's forehead. "Ithildin," she decided, "because she will shine like the moon or a star." She stroked the tiny muzzle, marveling at how soft it was. The filly closed her eyes and let her head drift down when Cellinn's fingers moved to rub the tiny ears.
Something plopped into her lap, and she reached down to move it away, but instead of a branch or flower, her fingers encountered cool, bumpy skin. She looked down, blinked at the toad in her lap, and screamed. She jumped up, but Legolas was already running, scattering the mares and foals as he headed for the tree line, laughing as he went.
Making sure the toad was no where near her feet, she planted her hands on her hips and stared after him. "Legolas Thranduilion! I am never speaking to you again!"
An hour later, she plopped down beside him, the offense forgiven and her anger forgotten. She laid her head on his shoulder, giggling as the foals nuzzled her hair.
Cellinn wiped the tears that had slipped unbidden down her cheeks with a handkerchief her mother insisted she always have on hand, and stood. She glanced back once more to where Legolas had stood, but his absence, his uncharacteristic giving up, emboldened her. With determination, she continued down the garden path to the group of young ladies and tried not to wince at Ninglorwen's patronizing welcome. Somehow she would endure the giggling and chattering, and even Ninglorwen's disdainful looks. Maybe she would even come to enjoy their company, though she doubted it.
Legolas ran towards the fast-flowing creek, stopping when he reached a large oak tree, and pausing only then to shimmy up it and settle into the large crook created by three large branches meeting at the trunk, making a safe place for two to sit in comfort. He drew his knees up to his chest, resting his folded arms across them and releasing a sigh.
But sitting there alone felt wrong. This was their tree. They had discovered it, and its hidden crook, as small elflings scarcely big enough to climb into it. Many hours they had spent here, coming almost every day, laughing and talking, sitting and just watching the stream flow by, sharing secrets and comforting each other through childhood sorrows. She should be here laughing at him as he told jokes or tossed acorns at unsuspecting elves who wandered by. But she was not, so he buried his face in his arms and sulked, allowing all the emotions to swirl inside him.
He was coming to understand his heart — feelings he had long felt but not truly understood. They had motivated his actions, caused him to do things to gain her attention. And for what? It had all gained him nothing. She would no longer be a part of his life. The hurt within him turned to anger.
He climbed down the tree and paused to run a finger over the roughly carved initials in the bark, marking the tree as theirs. He had carved them there when he was only a small boy, after obtaining the tree's permission. With determination, he pulled a small dagger from his belt, and touched the tree again. He shared his loss with the old oak and obtained the answer he needed. He scratched out the carved letters, apologizing to the tree as he did so.
The tree whispered comfort to him, saddened that it might never see the two happy elves sitting amongst its limbs again. Its leaves rustled and the branches creaked in sorrow as he walked away. Guilt joined the hurt and anger in Legolas's heart. The tree would not see him again for some time.
To Be Continued...
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.