*She tripped on a hole that I had dug in the soil to be part of a human garden, and I could not stand in the straight postured sun. But you stood in the mud which came unsoiled when I came along. You see it is good for nothing, good for nothing. A close look at something. So close. It is too much of not enough, when all we need is a taste.*
"So you hit him back?" Legolas said feeling inclined to laugh. He was leaning backwards on his chair at his desk, fondling a blue feather in his hand whilst Teruthiel leant heavily against the open door of his chambers with his arms crossed across his chest.
"In as many words, yes. I suppose ultimately I should not have retaliated, but my honour was at stake.and he had insulted you," Teruthiel explained, kicking the floor with his toes, "it was lucky Elrond found us at such an unfortunate moment, or I may have throttled his son."
"What punishment did he give?" Legolas asked blowing the feather into the air and watching it twist and turn before it floated gently into his palm.
"We have to clean the stables for the week," Teruthiel muttered, grimacing. Legolas laughed again, but Teruthiel was far from amused, "so, how are you after yesterday, truthfully? I imagine you are quite hurt by, well...."
"I will survive," he said, heaving a sigh, "There are worse things that may have happened. I have a wonderful friend who would defend my honour at the drop of a hat and for that I am most grateful, but was what you said to Serondai really necessary?"
"I felt obligated to. She can be very selfish when she wants and I believe I was duty-bound to tell her so."
"I fear you have upset her rather too much. An apology may not go amiss Teruthiel; we are all supposed to be friends after all and I most certainly would not wish to lose her friendship, even though it seems I have lost other things."
There was silence between them in which Legolas gazed wistfully out of his window, wondering how he would face Serondai after the events of the previous evening. How would he explain his absence? He would lie to her again no doubt. He would continue with this charade day after day, until the opportunity would arise when he could explain his feelings and Serondai would return his love, but there was no guarantee that opportunity would ever occur and with Elladan around, the chances were becoming smaller and smaller. Legolas had once asked his father the purpose of his life, but the king had been unable to explain. He asked if it was love and Thranduil sneered and said 'love? No my son, forget about finding love for it contorts the mind and makes a person irrational.' Legolas lost faith in finding love a long time ago, but when his faith was at last restored by a young elven girl in his home, Mirkwood, it was stolen away from him by his own brother and he feared he would never find it again, but now he had encountered a girl who was not of elven kindred, who was not even beautiful, who had led a tormented existence and who was far from being perfect, and yet he was drawn to her in such a way that made him weak with the passion rekindled in his heart. But alas, she also did not return his feelings and Legolas was hurt and broken hearted once more.
"She is sleepless and untamed, like a restraint on the light around me," Legolas whispered, not realising he was speaking out loud, "and after all these years....."
Teruthiel observed him with interest, unsure if he should speak and interrupt, but Legolas awoke from his sleepless trance and lowered the legs of his chair to the floor.
"I should be on my way Legolas. If I am late for my punishment Elrond will have my hide."
"Sorry Teruthiel. Of course, go I will be fine."
Teruthiel smiled and nodded his thanks before turning and vanishing down the hallway. Legolas left his chambers shortly afterwards, taking along with him his bow and arrow and made for the far courtyard below Serondai's chambers to see if she was there.
When he arrived, he could see Serondai with another elf he knew, Ehsihril. She was more or less his height, perhaps an inch or so smaller and had long bundles of tiny curls tied up loosely behind her head. She had large emerald like green eyes giving the impression of innocent and upon her finger wore a ring with a silver and red butterfly containing a tiny ruby.
Ehsihril was plaiting her friend's hair with a look of sheer exuberance on her face, and Serondai looked far too tired to argue. She sat pulling at the grass beneath her and tossing it to the side. Legolas drew a breath and strode over to them.
"Prince Legolas! "Ehsihril cried standing and dusting herself off.
"What do you want?!" Serondai said, refusing to look him in the eye. She remained seated, and so he plonked himself beside her.
"I wish to..."
"How could you not turn up Legolas! You were invited!" she continued.
"But Serondai, I...."
"Whatever it was you were doing, next time take Teruthiel with you because I never wish to set eyes on him again!"
"You are not letting me expl..."
"So, what is your reason and it had better be good or I shall never speak to you or Teruthiel ever again!" she folded her arms in a sulk, and Legolas could do nothing but let out a tiny, but audible chuckle, "*what* is so amusing!?"
"Serondai, I am sorry for yesterday. It was discourteous of me to not attend after being invited and I assure you it shall never happen again, but I felt I was imposing and therefore resided in my chambers for the evening. I can not excuse the actions of Teruthiel, but I can see he was only defending a friend for which I will not reprimand him and I personally believe that you should not either."
"Do you now?!" Serondai responded, feeling increasing need to shout, "you realise I said nothing of the sort that could possibly have offended either you or Teruthiel and he upset me for no reason. So tell me Legolas, why should I offer forgiveness?"
Legolas rolled his eyes, "Now you are merely being stubborn!"
"Stubborn! Did you hear that?! I am not stubborn am I, Ehsihril?!" Serondai glared at her awaiting a response.
"Well, you can be when it suits you, Serondai."
Her mouth gaped at the treachery of yet another of her friends, but at last she gave in and shook her head in defeat.
"Possibly I am *sometimes* stubborn, but I have my reasons to be and this is one of them."
"Sometimes?" Ehsihril prompted, with a smile in Legolas's direction.
"Oh you will be the death of me! Both of you....yes, I am stubborn! Are you both happy now?!" she sighed, unfolding her arms. Ehsihril nodded.
"Now, that is much better is it not Prince Legolas?" Ehsihril commented, giving him a nudge. Legolas nodded in reply.
"I am glad you are not holding this against me," he said, "I do not know what I would do if I ever lost your friendship. Anyway, onto other matters. I am going to practise some archery, would the both of you like to watch.perhaps I could even teach *you* something, Serondai?"
"I shall watch, but I think it would be wise if I stayed well away from bows and arrows and indeed the battlefield. I fear I would hurt someone I did not mean to if I were to even touch such a weapon," Serondai giggled, glancing warily at the bow in his hand.
"Nonsense!" Legolas cried, "It is easy once you know how I assure you. Will you not at least try?"
"I shall try!" Ehsihril exclaimed, her eyes lighting up with excitement, "I have always wanted to learn and I would be being taught by the finest archer in Middle-Earth. Please say you will teach me Legolas!"
"I think you will have to now, Legolas!" Serondai said, surprised by her friend's enthusiasm to learn, "but Ehsihril, did you not say some time ago that you would never....."
"That was before I met Legolas who is so obviously a fine teacher," she grabbed both of his hands eagerly, "I will do anything for you to teach me."
"Anything!? You must be keen!"
"Oh I am! Please agree!"
"Alright, I shall teach you, but it takes much time and dedication to become as expert as I," Legolas warned, running a thin finger across his bow, "I shall be out in the fields this afternoon. You may both join me when you are ready."
"We will, will we not Serondai!?" Ehsihril grasped her friend's arm and smiled.
"It seems I have no choice in the matter," Serondai mumbled, with a lop- sided grin, "but I am standing well away from you when you are learning. Who knows what might happen."
Legolas drew back an arrow and holding the bow steady closed one eye to aim and released it, watching it whistle through the air towards the centre of the tree where he was aiming. The branches trembled slightly from the impact and Legolas smiled feeling pleased with himself and pulled out another arrow from his quiver. The second hit the target perfectly once again.
Ehsihril had had him under tight scrutiny with a sparkle in her eyes for almost an hour. She felt butterflies in her stomach from her excitement, and her hands were shaking from the nerves she felt. She was hidden behind a large stone arch with ivy intertwined along its length and was admiring him, peering out from behind it towards the centre of the field where the blonde elf stood. She hid with a giggle each time he turned in her direction and prayed Serondai would hurry to meet her so her lesson could begin.
"You are making it obvious you are fond of him," said a female voice behind her. Ehsihril gave a start and span round.
"Serondai! What are you talking about!?" she asked innocently, fluttering her eyelashes.
"You know perfectly well what I am talking about," Serondai assumed, heading swiftly in Legolas's direction, "now, before you faint from excitement let us go. I am interested to see how you fair."
"I am not excited; I am just anticipating how well I learn. It may prove useful one day. *I* do not want to be useless when it comes to battle, unlike some," she said pompously, twirling a loose curl around her finger.
"You are only learning because Legolas is the teacher, Ehsihril. Do you think I am stupid and do not try to deny the truth!?" Serondai said smarmily, looking sideways at her elvish friend, "I know you have a crush on him."
"I do not!" Ehsihril denied, giving her 'deeply hurt' look, "how could you even suggest such a thing? I genuinely wish to learn."
"If you say so Ehsihril, but we both know that is not the reason."
"You can believe what you like," Ehsihril snapped, overtaking her, "but I know that I want to learn archery, and Legolas is the best teacher!"
"You are here at last," Legolas said, his gaze lingering on Serondai, "have you changed your mind yet, or are you still being a coward?"
"I choose to ignore that Prince Greenleaf!" Serondai said, holding her head up arrogantly, "but I suggest you hurry up with this lesson, Ehsihril is growing impatient."
"But father, this is incredibly degrading!" Elladan cried. They were stood outside the stables where Teruthiel had already begun working without any arguments; however Elladan was not prepared to do such work and quarrelled with Elrond profusely over his choice of punishment.
"I do not care!" Elrond snapped, holding up a shovel, "you will do this work whether you like it or not! Now do it!"
Teruthiel was leaning on his shovel laughing. Elladan scowled at him viciously and snatched the shovel from his father, trudging into the stables with a face like a prune. Elrond watched for a moment, and then, hiding a derisive grin he left them to it. They worked in silence for a few minutes, but before long Elladan had had enough and slid down the wall to the floor, wiping the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. Teruthiel glanced up at him and shook his head with a chuckle.
"This is *your* fault," Elladan implied, watching the other elf work.
"I am only doing *my* half of the work Elladan, so I think it best if you have as little breaks as possible or Lindir might make you do double your work," Teruthiel said ignoring his previous comment, "I am willing to work together if you are although."
"Work together?! With you!?" Elladan said pretentiously, "that will never happen!"
"You are just prolonging the inevitable Elladan. If we work together, this punishment may not last as long nor be as arduous or gruelling."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, if we work hard and get things done quicker, then perhaps your father will see we are very sorry for our behaviour."
"You may have a point," Elladan said quietly, deliberating over the idea. He dragged himself to his feet and held out his hand for Teruthiel to shake, "friends?"
Teruthiel took his hand and shook it with a smirk, "for now."
Elladan smiled, "you may not prove to be as bad as I first thought."
"I think I shall take that as a compliment," Teruthiel laughed, returning to his work. Elladan did the same, with much more interest than before and for the first time in the years they had known one another they cooperated, much to their advantage as Lindir was surveying them closely and from what he saw, a grin spread from ear to ear. His job had suddenly been made much easier.
Several hours later, the two of them had successfully managed to clean the entire stables from top to bottom and even had time to spare to brush the horses. Contrary to expectation, both of them had enjoyed working together, even though the work was exhausting and tremendously unclean.
"Well friend, as much as I detested you this morning, I think we have both worked well considering we could barely stand the site of one another," Elladan said, slapping Teruthiel jovially on the back, "I think this could be a permanent arrangement."
"I think you may be right," Teruthiel replied, "but there is one question I would like to ask now we are friends."
"You are very fond of Serondai, are you not?" Teruthiel enquired. Elladan was taken aback by the question and did not answer immediately.
"Of course I am. Why do you ask?"
"It does not matter."
"Come Teruthiel, now we are friends it is only right you tell me."
Teruthiel pondered over it. How would Legolas react if he knew his closest friend had told his enemy his deepest secret? Long had he known Legolas and risking his friendship was not something he was prepared to do, and yet, if he was to tell Elladan of Legolas's affection for Serondai, would he back off and allow Legolas to be the one close to her? It was indeed a complicated state of affairs, one which required many minutes of thinking and time alone, but Teruthiel had neither.
Taking a deep breath, Teruthiel began, "It is a delicate situation requiring a great deal of understanding........"
A World Upon Your Shoulders