The guard standing beside the great double doors
Lord Astaldo, King Thranduils Chief Counsellor for many
centuries, noted the movement and paused, his knuckles a mere
inch from the wood. It is that day, he said, softly.
Yes, my lord, replied the guard.
The counsellor should, of course, have reprimanded the soldier
for his breach of etiquette, butCRASHsomething
heavy hit the study wallthe guards expression was
one of honest sympathy, for Thranduil, so difficult, so prickly
in character, had nevertheless a gift for inspiring love in his
I had better return later, said Astaldo.
The guard nodded in agreement.
The tiny creature tottered along the corridor, cautiously raising
each foot high before slowly placing it down, unable to see the
floor over the two bowsone of them full-sizedand the
quiver he was carrying in his little arms.
Will you open the door for me, please, Maeglin?
I do not think your Adar wishes to be disturbed, just now,
your Highness, said the guard, gently.
He will not mind, if it is me, said Legolas. Please,
Maeglin. He smiled.
Give him a century or so and no elleth in the Greenwood will
be safe, the guard thought. Promise me that if your
Adar tells you to leave, you will come straight back to the door,
your Highness, he said, cautiously.
Maeglin resisted the temptation to ruffle the little imps
golden hair. Perhaps you should leave the bows outside.
Oh no! These are for Ada!
The elfling nodded vehemently.
Valar help me if I ever have a son of my own. Very quietly,
Maeglin lifted the latch of the great door and pushed it open.
Legolas toddled through the gap, miraculously manoeuvring the
full-size bow to avoid knocking its arms as he did so.
Maeglin waited for a moment or two.
But there was no immediate outburst, so he closed the door behind
the little prince.
Legolas stepped carefully over the candlestand lying just inside
the door, and entered his fathers study. Hello Ada.
Not now, Legolas. The Elvenking was hunched over
You are sad, I know, said the tiny elfling, but
Legolas! I said not now.
it is because you are sad that I
I shall not tell you again, Legolas! Thranduil swung
round, giving his tiny son one of his fabled glares.
Undeterred, the elfling carefully laid the bows and quiver on
a nearby chair and approached his father. I am here to cheer
you up, he said, smiling.
Cheer... Thranduil shook his head. Do you know
what day it is today?
The child nodded. It is the day that I was born on.
The day that you...? Yes, the Elvenking admitted,
softly, it is the day that you were born on.
The day that Nana left us, said Legolas.
Thranduil sighed, creasing his brows in his effort to control
his emotions. Yes.
And that is why you need cheering up, the elfling
persisted. He toddled back to the chair, picked up the larger
of the two bows and held it out to his father.
What have you brought that for?
So that you can learn to use it. I will teach you, Ada.
Master Galdor says that I am already an excellent archer.
Thranduil raised his hand to hide an unexpected smile. Does
he now? And what makes you think that I need to learn archery?
It will make you happy.
Hapwhat are you talking about, Legolas?
It makes me happy, Ada. More than anything.
The child nodded.
Show me, said Thranduil. Put that big bow down
and let me see how you draw your own bow.
With great respect for both weapons, Legolas laid the longbow
back on the chair and took up his own quarter-size bow. He walked
into the open space before the fireplace.
Stand tall, he said, drawing himself up to his full
three feet nothing, and adopting a voice that sounded suspiciously
like a certain bow masters, with one foot either side
of your shooting line. He shifted his little hips from side
to side to illustrate the point. Do not lock your knees.
He bounced up and down a few times. Check that your shoulders
are square. He raised the bow to his waist. Curl
your fingers around the bowstring in a deep hook. He exaggerated
the movement of his hand. Raise your bow arm and your drawing
arm together. With childish grace, he brought his bow into
the shooting position. Draw to your anchor, picturing your
target, then let the arrow loose itself... The bowstring
slipped from his little fingers with a twang.
Thranduil stretched out his arms. Come here, Lasdithen,
he cried, tears running down his normally impassive face, Come
here, my Little Leaf.
I am sorry Ada, I have only made you sadder, mumbled
Legolas, smothered in his fathers embrace.
The Elvenking said nothing.
But, without releasing his son, he slid down to his knees and,
for the first time since the day of his terrible loss, he let
the mask fall, and sobbed like an elfling.