The Silvan

nimruzir

Chapter 062

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Author's notes:

Hello everyone. As I had already predicted, there are still two chapters left of the story, and not one as I had originally stated. There are still issues to be resolved, so please enjoy this instalment, when Legolas finally gets to meet Maeneth, and Rinion suffers - a transformation.

And just a little dedication to 1. I was horrified to hear of what happened to you. You broke nearly all the bones in your body :((( You must be so sore, and that you are reading this, and reviewing with one hand, is a great honour for me. Get well soon, my friend.

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Ninde: qué bien - vacaciones hasta la extenuación - LOL. Me alegro por ti - a ver cuándo me toca a mi!

Guest: thank you!

Guest: hope you find some great Anime stories and if you don't, I hope you will still read the Silvan and his adventures :))

Rita Orca: thank you! I enjoyed writing that scene with Amareth and I am glad the imagery worked for you. Rinion is a strange one, isn't he? But yes, Legolas will have to prove himself somehow, and the perfect opportunity presents itself! I look forward to your reviews then :)) LOL

Noph: yes, the tattoos would be fun, wouldn't they! Glad you thought Marhen was cool - she is quite saucy isn't she?

Guest 1345: Well, Maeneth is on the way, and well protected :)

Earthdragon: I agree with you - not perfect, no. It's funny how different readers will interpret things in radically different ways, though. Who knows, maybe i will one day write that story of the undying lands and the many meetings Legolas' family would have… BTW, Arwen is not in the Lorien group - she stayed behind in Lorien, remember when she bid her friend goodbye?

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Chapter sixty-two: Have A Care

"Captain Thoron!" shouted lieutenant Eramir.

"Report."

"The approaching caravan is twenty strong, from Lorien. By the looks of it there is someone important riding with them - for the Marchwarden himself rides at the fore."

"Are there still scouts deployed?"

"Yes, Captain. He should report within the next two hours."

"And the enemy?"

"Still some time away. We estimate around forty individuals, mostly orcs - some goblins."

"They are always where the official visitors are," mused Thoron. "There is a pattern here Eramir, Commander Celegon hinted at as much."

"It does seem strange …" said the lieutenant. "They seem to be - aware - of our movements."

"Set a steady pace toward the Lorien guard. Let's see if we can intercept the enemy before they engage our visitors, whoever they are…" said the captain, and Eramir did not miss the worry behind his words.

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Silver hair whipped through the air and a prince with cold blue eyes lent forward over his black stallion, a group of eight fey warriors behind him; two were Noldorin, one was Sindarin, four were Silvan, and the last of them was neither one thing nor the other.

The pace that had been set was merciless, and had it not been for Legolas' call to rest, their horses would have been run to ruin. Rinion wheeled his horse around, his cape swirling around him, face furious.

"How dare you!" he seethed as his horse struggled beneath him, flanks heaving too fast.

"You will kill our mounts; someone had to give the order."

"You will not gainsay me, lieutenant," spat Rinion.

"I do what is best for our warriors - lieutenant," came Legolas' confident reply.

Rinion's eyes narrowed dangerously, and Legolas' slanted even more than they normally were, glittering in silent challenge.

"Five minutes."

"Ten, then we should make it to Maeneth's position without stopping," said Legolas.

"Princess Maeneth to you, lieutenant," said Rinion as his horse pranced beneath him.

"Princess Maeneth, of course, my Prince," nodded Legolas a little too exaggeratedly.

Soon enough, their horses were drinking in a shallow stream and Rafnohtar pulled his mount alongside Legolas'. "Have a care, Hwindo, or there will be a veritable storm raining down on your head - do not let your protocol with Rinion slip - he is not ready to welcome you just yet."

Legolas stared back at Elladan as he considered his words. "He - irritates me," was all he said in his defence and Elladan actually chuckled. "Of course he does - see how your reactions are identical to his - your choice of words, your expressions, you are far too alike for your own good."

"You cannot be serious," balked Legolas.

"Oh I am - you may not see it now, for he is still bitter, but to me it is as plain as the hair upon your head," smirked Elladan. "'Tis not the first time you have been told this."

Legolas gave him a sour look, but to his credit he did not press the point.

"And well done for standing up to him - your decision was a wise one, lieutenant," he added, before moving away to join the rest. Elladan himself was an experienced lieutenant, and although he did not show it, Legolas was glad of his friend's words, indeed he considered himself lucky that Rinion had not reprimanded him more than he had; he needed to remember that in spite of their differences, his brother was his Crown Prince - he owed him his allegiance, and his respect, at least in circumstances such as these. It didn't mean he had to like it though, and so he turned and checked on the rest of the Company, before regrouping with an already impatient prince, who simply stared at Legolas with a dangerous glint in his eye, one Hwindohtar understood perfectly.

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Maeneth loved riding, but her right leg was beginning to cramp with being slung over the saddle for so long. She fidgeted and Caleniel shot her a disapproving glare, before fussing with the princess' light blue skirts.

Not that it mattered to Maeneth, mind. Her carer was overly-concerned with courtly deportment, Sindarin noble that she was and the princess bore it well enough.

They were so close she could smell it now - her home - feel the thrill upon the air. This was no idyllic, dream-like realm of peace and tranquility, of learning and refinement. This was raw, unadulterated nature and she had missed it fiercely, almost as much as she had missed her beloved brother.

She smiled wide at the thought of him, of his gaul, his ironic sense of humour, his rebellious nature and her soul sang, because after all these years, all the letters and all the things they had spoken of from afar, now, the circle of suffering would end. All she had to do was stay away from Bandorion, from Barathon.

She wondered then, if her father had truly changed. In Rinion's last letter, he had suggested that he had, but her brother had not been clear on that, indeed he had not been clear on anything for the last year and Maeneth knew that with the coming of their half-brother, many things would have changed - even Rinion - she realised.

He had been strangely quiet about Legolas, and Maeneth knew that Rinion would not have taken kindly to him. His presence would be a constant reminder of what they had lost and Rinion was not the most forgiving of elves. Maeneth had always had to calm him down, enough so that he could see sense, rather than acting on his impulses and then trying to defend his actions by reasoning them out - it was an impossible tactic, one their father had tried, and failed, to correct, before he had stopped trying.

Handir's face came to her then and she smiled again. Sweet brother, perfect prince, able statesman; where Rinion was fire and ice at the same time, Handir was warm air and water - steady - unwavering. And then it was her father's striking face that replaced her brother's and a pang of anxiety hit her, wiping the smile from her face. Would she find the same, hollow stare upon his face? The same apathy? Would she find the once great king, still walking in the shadow of what he had once been?

From afar, Haldir watched her, studied her expressions as they turned from joy to sadness and then worry. So expressive, he mused, so - Silvan - in spite of her pure, Sindarin blood. A smile tugged at his own lips as his eyes lingered on her beauty and a haze seemed to fall over his appreciative eyes.

"Have a care, Marchwarden…" smirked his lieutenant and Haldir turned to face him, his expression stern and imperious. "I always do," he said simply.

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Hours of hard riding later, Legolas signalled to Rinion that they should slow their pace and this time, the Prince seemed to understand that the enemy was close by.

"My Prince," began Legolas, no irony in his tone this time. "The Eastern patrol are within ten minutes of our position - here," he pointed, "and the enemy lie to our West, just thirty minutes or so away, if they maintain their current pace."

"Excellent, then we join with the Eastern patrol - we should reach them in good time before the enemy engage them. Lead us to them, lieutenant."

Legolas saluted formally and then signalled to the Company that they should surround the Prince, while he himself took the fore. Soon enough, Legolas emitted a succession of bird calls which were immediately answered, and within moments, the two groups met. Legolas saluted the Captain, one he recognised immediately, for this commander had slapped his face during his ordeal with the Inner Circle - Thoron.

Keeping his face as neutral as possible, he manoeuvred to the right to allow Rinion to approach and the Captain bowed formally. "My Prince, we were not expecting you in the area," began Thoron.

"This is an emergency, Captain. As you are aware, there is enemy movement just thirty minutes away from our position. We stand between them and their quarry, a caravan from Lorien you will also be aware of…"

Thoron frowned and his eyes momentarily slipped to Legolas. "We are aware, although your information is more - detailed than our own."

"Indeed," said Rinion. "You must know that it is Princess Maeneth that travels with the Lorien guard. She must be spared the horror of battle, Captain. I would have us engage the enemy before they are besieged."

"Of course, my Prince. Your warriors will be welcome additions to my patrol, he smiled, eyes returning to Legolas. "Greetings, my Lord," he said with a discreet bow.

Legolas nodded back, and then signalled to the Company to join the warriors behind the Captain, while Rinion joined Thoron and both spoke quietly.

Legolas searched the faces of the warriors while they waited, but he recognised none of them, albeit they were almost all Silvan. They smiled and saluted reverently at him, their faces so open and curious; he could see their unspoken questions, for these warriors had yet to learn of the king's ruling, they would be wondering if Legolas had been proclaimed Warlord, that is why they stared, he told himself, fiddling now with the buckle of his quiver.

Thoron came to stand before them, gathering their attention.

"We ride towards the enemy," began the captain in his powerful commander's voice. "We have a group of forty, orcs and goblins with at least some archers, so have a care. Our objective is to neutralise them before they can engage the Lorien group. I am also informed, that Princess Maeneth is amongst them - she returns home!"

The warriors cheered, and Legolas could have sworn he saw a carefully hidden smile on Rinion's face.

"Archers to the flanks, Prince Rinion?"

"I will fight with the swordsmen," he answered.

With a nod, they moved out and Rhawthir, Idhrenohtar and Lindohtar moved to the flanks with the archers, while Rafnohtar, Glamohtar, Ram en' Ondo and Koron en' Naur stayed in the main group. Legolas, however, was left in doubt, and so he rode up beside the patrol's lieutenant, Eramir.

The Sinda turned his head and stared blankly at Legolas.

"Sir, do you want me with the swordsmen or the archers?"

Eramir's eyes strayed to the mighty field bow that jutted out from Legolas' quiver. It was a magnificent weapon, one the lieutenant would appreciate, for field bows were difficult to wield. One needed as much muscle as he did skill, and a keen eye, for the distances these weapons could cover were surprising.

"Archers, Lieutenant," he said, his tone a little softer now.

Legolas saluted, and turned away to the flanks, where Rhrawthir, Lindo and Idhreno hailed him with a smile, while the other archers beamed at the chance to fight alongside the Silvan elbowing each other as their eyes latched on to the weapon perched upon his back.

Their trot turned to a canter and soon, the stench of the enemy was upon them. Thoron held up his hand and the patrol came to a stop.

"Lieutenant Legolas," he shouted, and Hwindo kicked his horse into action, bringing him alongside the captain, the prince and the lieutenant.

"Sir."

"Do the trees report anything else?" asked the Captain, and the three elves looked back at the Silvan in almost morbid fascination as Legolas listened, even Rinion, whose head was cocked slightly to one side.

"They speak of forty, they say there are archers but they do not say how many - this concerns me slightly, Sir, they do not often specify the weapons of the enemy. For them to do so may imply there are more than we are expecting."

"Position?" asked Eramir

"Coming into our visibility within minutes, Sir - in one group we think."

"Dismount! "Archers!" shouted Eramir, "side and pan," he ordered, using his hands to second his words, watching as the snipers ran to the trees and jumped into their boughs, taking up position. Legolas, however, stayed on the ground, and Eramir did not question him, he would not be able to wield his field bow from the trees.

"Ready!" he shouted, and then they waited….

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"Sir, there is an imminent battle off to the North-east."

"How far away?" asked Haldir.

"Ten, maybe fifteen minutes."

"Send out a scout with all haste, determine whether they require aid. I would prefer not to engage with the Princess in our midst," he said.

The warrior galloped away and Haldir turned to his second. "We move to full alert. Prepare to extract the Princess should we find the enemy."

"Sir!" shouted the Lieutenant, and within seconds the warriors had drawn their weapons and manoeuvred their charges into the centre of the group.

Haldir's critical eye inspected it all, his horse moving up and down the line to check with his warriors, until the scout returned and reported.

"It is the Eastern Greenwood patrol. Twenty-nine strong, Sir, and I believe it is their Crown Prince that rides with them."

Haldir's eyebrows rose in surprise and Maeneth beamed. How he could have known she was arriving was beyond her, but the fact was he was just minutes away from them! In spite of the danger, she was happier than she had been for centuries.

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Black bodies streamed onto the path before them, and with a mighty battle cry, Thoron charged forwards, the swordsmen of the patrol behind him and Eramir at his side, watching the rest of the patrol as they ploughed into the first line of orcs.

Around them, the thwack of arrows preceded the thud of iron and wood as it slammed into black armour and flesh. Legolas' mighty field bow, its longer, thicker projectiles sailed elegantly through the air, finding the more distant targets, the most dangerous enemy archers that remained behind the vanguard and that would be seeking the key members of the patrol - the commanders, the archers…

From above, Idhrenohtar, Lindohtar Rhawthir searched for the enemy snipers that dared to target Hwindohtar who stood shooting below them. His position was necessarily vulnerable, and their job would be to defend him as he shot.

Rinion charged into his first goblin, easily slicing its neck open before moving to the next, sensing Elladan and Ram en' Ondo close by.

The thud of an arrow drew Rinion's attention to a warrior at his side, who fell to the floor with a groan, and then another warrior fell, an arrow sticking out of his abdomen; they were being methodically picked off.

Searching frantically for the source of the arrows, he realised he did not know where they had come from; all he knew is that Legolas had been right, there were more of them than was normal. Their own archers were firing in rapid succession, and while they were taking them out, the orcs were firing from greater distances, their bolts heavier, more devastating.

Blocking a blow, he sliced the hand off an orc and then stabbed another in the chest, and as he fought, his anxiety grew, for arrows flew everywhere, slowly but surely decimating their numbers. The impressive whine of Legolas' bow could be heard again, and again, and Rinion could not resist a glance at his brother, who stood with the most defiant, perfect stance Rinion had ever seen; his bow seemed almost as tall as he was, and the bolts that flew from it were larger and heavier than their standard issue weapons. The draw was slow and precise, and in spite of being an obvious target for the orcs, so far, Legolas had not been hit - but he would be, if he did not move, of this Rinion had no doubt and of a sudden, quite unexpectedly, his heart clenched.

An archer fell from a tree with a scream and the orcs cheered, as more black arrows rained down on them and Captain Thoron's mighty voice screamed above the din.

"Legolas!"

Rinion's eyes whipped to the Captain, who signalled into the trees, from where most of the remaining arrows now seemed to be coming - there would be at least one archer there and Legolas turned his bow, eyes searching for his target.

An arrow glanced off his shoulder plate but he did not move, eyes still searching. Another flew past his head, disturbing his hair but still he did not move - eyes waiting for the orc archer to move and give away his position. With a thud, Idhrenohtar and Rhrawthir jumped to the ground and stood to either side of their leader as Legolas continued to calibrate his shot, picking off as many as they could for the arrows had been coming closer and closer to their intended target.

Rinion was momentarily relieved as he staved off another attacker, but soon enough, both Silvan warriors were drawn into closer battle with their swords and once again, Legolas was left partially exposed.

Another arrow flew true, slamming into black armour, so violently it pierced the orc's chest from front to back, but still their arrows flew and Legolas reached back for another and calmly fit it to his bow, as if he were standing upon the archery ranges of the barracks, instead of a battle field. He drew once more, and held, under the terrified, disbelieving eyes of the Company, who watched from afar as they fought.

"Take them down! Take them down!" screamed Eramir.

Another black arrow whizzed past Legolas' calf but he did not move at all, and then something sharp sliced past his cheek. Even then he did not move and Rinion's mouth worked of its own accord.

"Legolas! Move!"

But he did not, instead narrowing his eyes and watching the patch of distant bough for the moment he sought and suddenly, there it was.

Legolas' arrow sailed from his bow, just as an incoming projectile sliced away his shoulder plate, ripping the shirt and skin below. He swayed to the side before preparing another arrow, for the archer that had almost caught him had assumed victory far too early. With one, final draw, hold and release, the beast shrieked and fell to the ground, no more black arrows ..

The warriors cheered as the fight continued, and Legolas discarded his bow as carefully as he was able, and then pulled out his twin knives and swirled them in his hand before launching himself into the fray, into the thick of the enemy, which coincided precisely with Rinion's position.

Rinion blocked a heavy blow that knocked him off balance and another orc came dangerously close to breeching his defence. There were three other warriors around the prince, but as the battle wore on, the more the enemy flocked to him - royal blood.

Legolas danced into his peripheral vision again, swirling and twisting and turning in a way Rinion had never before seen. It was hypnotic, and distracting, he berated himself as another scimitar came far too close for comfort.

Rinion's back collided with his brother's and knocked him momentarily off balance, a moment one orc took advantage of to land a stinging blow to his face. Legolas' knife blocked the incoming blade with a high-pitched shriek and disarmed his opponent, before slicing through it's arm and sending it to the ground. Stomping his boot into its face, he sent the beast's nose bone into its brain, killing it instantly.

Spitting blood out of his mouth, Legolas moved to the next orc, feeling his brother still fighting behind him.

"Down!" he shouted as he himself ducked a powerful scimitar that sailed over his head. Legolas countered by swiping low and effectively hamstringing his opponent.

A warrior screamed and fell to the ground, drawing Legolas' attention to his brother again, but then movement to the left had him reaching reflexively for the bow that was no longer on his back, for in the distance, partially hidden, was an archer, sighting Rinion. He looked around frantically but there was nothing he could use, only himself.

"Archer!" he shouted, but he was already sprinting forwards, placing himself in its line of fire. Using his hands, he launched himself into a series of flips and twists, effectively distracting the orc from its aim for it stared open-mouthed as the Whirling Warrior careened towards him, its bow arm sagging as it tried to think on what was happening, but even as it drew breath and began to screech, Legolas was upon it, launching himself into the air and catching its head between his knees. Using his own weight, he pulled to the side and then crashed painfully to the ground. He was on top of it in an instant, plunging both of his knives into either side of its neck.

Pulling them back out with a vicious tug, he stood and turned towards the battle field once more, his knives dripping with thick blood, chest heaving from the exertion of battle.

His eyes found those of his brother, who was already staring back at him from afar, surrounded by dead orcs. It was over, and the lingering gaze between brothers stretched on for there was much to read behind their eyes.

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Captain Thoron, with the help of Eramir, began to organise the uninjured warriors, setting a perimeter guard to watch for stragglers, whilst the wounded were tended to. Elladan was immediately in the middle of it, his cloth back, replete with bandages, liquids and herbs, even tools, now lying open.

"Lieutenant Elladan, take charge of the wounded," commanded Thoron as he passed, and then gestured to Legolas to join him. Jogging back to where he had left his bow, he stashed it safely on his back and joined the captain.

The Commander looked at him for a moment, before surveying the battle field and then speaking softly. "Your skill with that contraption is duly noted," he said, eyes roving over Legolas' beaten face and then his exposed shoulder. His eyes widened for a moment in surprise.

"It is official?" he asked, "you are Warlord?" he asked.

Legolas looked down at himself, realising that Thoron had seen the mark. "I will be, in two days' time."

"Congratulations then, Lieutenant. I look forward to working with you again. Who has been assigned your captain?" he asked with narrowed eyes.

"Captain Dunorel, Sir," replied Legolas.

Thoron nodded. "He is one of our best, you are lucky to train under him. Look after that," he gestured to Legolas' torn arm, "we cannot afford to lose your bow, lieutenant."

"Thank you Captain," said Legolas, saluting and then walking to where the Company were regrouping and Thoron continued to watch him from afar as the young lieutenant checked his warriors, speaking with them before joining Elladan to help with the wounded.

Thoron smiled and then turned to his own lieutenant, Eramir, who now stood beside him, his eyebrows raised in surprise. "Yes, I know," chuckled Thoron and Eramir allowed himself a smile.

"What a find," said the stoic lieutenant.

"Indeed," murmured Thoron.

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Elladan had been pulling arrows for the last ten minutes, and he sat up for a quick respite, wiping a hand over his brow to remove the strands of hair that had stuck to his forehead. Legolas held out a skin of water to him which he took gratefully, throwing his head back and drinking, some of the water running down his neck unchecked.

Finishing with a great gasp for air, he rolled his shoulders. "I wonder when I can start my project, another healer here would do the world of good," he said as he surveyed the camp. "Come, sit," ordered the Noldo as he reached for his bag again.

"It's nothing Rafno," said Legolas, sitting slowly with a groan he had not been able to suppress.

"What is it?" he asked as he reached for the bottle of disinfectant.

"I need to perfect that move, the landing was - painful," he said ruefully as he rubbed his hip.

"I didn't see it, but I have already heard something of it - drawing attention to yourself again?" snorted Elladan as he cleaned the cut high on Legolas' arm, where his shoulder plate had been.

"Not intentionally," he answered a little timidly.

"And tell me, are there any teeth left in that big mouth of yours?" asked Elladan with a snort.

Legolas simply smiled wryly, and then startled a little as he felt the presence of another, crouching at his side. Turning his head, he was surprised to find Rinion's face now close to his own, icy blue eyes boring into him uncomfortably.

"How is he?" asked the Prince of Elladan, his eyes riveted on Legolas.

"What you see, my Lord, and a nasty bruise to the hip."

Rinion looked peeved as he listened and he stared at his brother, but his words did not fit his expression at all.

"You fought well, Lieutenant. You have my thanks."

Legolas held his gaze as levelly as he could manage, but his head tilted slightly to one side. He had not meant to move it at all, but this elf was perplexing and unnerving, ambiguous and so very difficult to predict.

"It was my pleasure, my Prince," replied his rebellious mouth, for neither had he thought to say those words - but he had, and what surprised him the most, was that he had truly meant them.

Rinion too, seemed surprised but he did not comment. He simply stood, spared a nod at Elladan, and then walked away.

"Is it true? Has the king accepted our request? " asked one warrior, startling both Elladan and Legolas, who had been contemplating Rinion. The newcomer's eyes were staring at the circle of eternity that sat high on Legolas' chest, half way to his shoulder.

"Yes - yes he has accepted," he said simply, watching as a smile blossomed on the warrior's face.

"It is an honour to meet you, Lieutenant," he said. "I have been charged with telling you that we, the Silvan warriors, are proud to fight along side you."

Legolas processed the words as calmly as he could manage, allowing the first words that came to him, to tumble out of his mouth. "And I am proud to serve with you, warrior, with all of you, be you Sinda, Silvan or Avarin.

"The Silvan's smile became wider as he bowed from the waist and then strode back to the thick of able-bodied warriors, slapping them upon the backs and talking animatedly. A cheer went up amongst them and Elladan smiled as he worked.

Soon, the entire Company sat in a circle around Elladan and Legolas, and from afar, Thoron, Eramir and Rinion watched them.

"It is a good job he is on our side, that his loyalty is not questioned. He will be a mighty commander - he will move them in a way Oropher himself once did - more even, perhaps," said Thoron. Rinion heard the words, knew them as truth, in spite of his immediate temptation to make a sarcastic comment. He didn't though, for in his mind he saw once more as Legolas moved into the path of the archer that had sighted him. The sheer power it had taken to move so quickly, and then the tactic that had taken down the orc. Legolas had saved his life and had not sought to collect his thanks, indeed Rinion had been sure he would not.

Closing his eyes for a moment, the battle inside him was being won, and Rinion wondered then, how much longer he could resist what was slowly becoming inevitable. This damnable Silvan child, was getting under his defences, slowly seeping into his tough hide, to the softer tissue below.

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Bird call erupted around them, and moments later, Haldir and the Lorien guard filed into their camp, dismounting at the perimeter. Rinion's eyes searched frantically behind the Marchwarden, but the warriors were so tall, he could not see her - until a wisp of silver hair snaked from around an archer's shoulder and he began to stride forward, until the stride became a canter and then a full out run.

The warriors before Maeneth saw him just in time to move out of the way, and before they knew what was happening, the two elves had come together in a fierce embrace. Rinion's hands cradled his sister's head to his chest, desperately clinging to her, as if he could not believe she was physically there, in his arms.

Thoron, Eramir and Haldir watched quietly as the siblings were reunited for the first time in an almost incomprehensible seven hundred years, and more than a few eyes had become overly bright, for to see Rinon, Crown Prince of Greenwood, express such strong emotion was simply unheard of, and yet so very welcomed for in that one moment, he became alive, became approachable.

From afar, Legolas watched somewhat melancholically as he busied himself with helping Elladan with an elf who had taken an arrow to the calf.

Elladan took his eyes momentarily from the wound he was cleaning, and followed Legolas' line of sight. He stopped dead, his hands freezing over the wounded warrior as his eyes latched onto the source of his shock, for shock it was - his heart sped up, out of control and his breathing accelerated in a half-hearted attempt to keep up. The din around him faded into nothing, as if dampened by morning fog and his eyes focussed only on the silver-haired elf that smiled up at Rinion. Everything else had become a blur, and even Legolas' words went unnoticed.

"Rafno!" said Legolas for the third time, before turning to where Elladan was staring, and when he realised who his friend was observing, his head snapped back, a look of utter disbelief on his face.

"Elladan …"

"What?" snapped the Noldo, as if he were being rudely interrupted.

Legolas let out a long, noisy breath. "I do not think that is a good idea…." he said drolly.

"And what would you know?" asked Elladan as he arched his right eye brow, and then regretted it as his tone came out harsher than he had intended.

"Forgive me, I did not mean…" began Elladan.

"Whatever," said Legolas with a wave of his hand. "Just, have a care, Elladan."

The Noldo simply nodded, before turning his eyes back to his patient.

"Will you not go to them?" he asked Legolas.

"Not yet," he murmured. "I would only distract them from their reunion - it has been so long for them."

Eladan knew he was right; Rinion and Maeneth seemed close, as close perhaps even as he was to Elrohir and he wondered, how it would feel to be as close to her as her brother was now, stand before her, fall into her beauty, possess it…

From across the glade, Haldir watched Elladan as he watched Maeneth and his jaw twitched in irritation. One battle had just ended, and the Marchwarden wondered, if another one was about to begin.

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The Eastern patrol, together with the Company and the Lorien guard, slowly made their way towards the heart of the forest, and Thranduil's court. Song had erupted amongst them, for the Princess returned to her birth place and they shouted it to the heavens. Bird call followed them and then echoed back at them as elves ran through the trees, bearing the tidings to every corner of the forest.

The Lorien guards remained on full alert, while the Silvan warriors smiled as they sang, and the Sindar sang but did not smile.

The wounded rode before their fellow soldiers, and at the centre, rode Rinion and Maeneth. They talked quietly, their heads drawn together, but sometimes they would just listen as the warriors sang. They were happy, and Legolas marvelled at this new, so far unseen side of his older brother, the caring, protective brother that loved just as fiercely as he hated.

Just before they had mounted up, Rinion had called Legolas to meet Maeneth. It had been brief and somewhat formal. She had smiled as she inspected him, and he had traced the lines of her beautiful face, committing her features to memory, but Rinion had cut it short and Legolas could not say he blamed him for that. There were many arrow injuries and their prompt return to the Greenwood would mean they would reach comfort soonest, not that Legolas was sure those were his brothers thoughts though. And so, with a nod, they had parted ways, and Legolas had missed the reproving stare that Maeneth had cast in her elder brother's direction.

She was utterly beautiful, he mused, and he knew he was not the only one to think the same, for Elladan had fallen under her spell no sooner he had first set eyes upon her from afar. He would have to introduce them, the thought, if he could get anywhere near her, he snorted, for Rinion had her full attention and Legolas could not help but think it strange.

Yet why would he think it strange? Rinion was an elf, he had a heart and a soul and although he often seemed made of stone and ice, Legolas knew that was the result of his suffering, it was what his brother had become, not how he had been born. Their sister was the key, he realised then - the key to Rinion's return to happiness and with it, perhaps a chance for his own contentment.

It was back again, that sense of loss, of what he could have had, and had been denied, was still denied. He was jealous of their happiness he realised, and it made him angry, at himself.

He knew the Company watched him, except for Elladan who was far too busy watching the wounded. Idhrenohtar, especially, seemed to have read his thoughts and he wondered how many of the others could see his emotions. Schooling himself, he looked away and allowed his eyes to stray into the trees, spotting the silvans sitting there, swinging their legs over branches as they watched the caravan, waving as they passed and then scurrying ahead to tell the story of who was approaching the fortress, and just who accompanied her.

Children of the forest, he smiled, simple souls - uncomplicated, open and receptive. He missed that simplicity, the joy of simply being and he knew, inexorably, that he would never be as carefree again.

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