King Thranduil looked up from particularly vexing
paragraph in Elronds latest letter with a sudden alarming
thought: Legolas is very quiet
The Elvenking rose from his desk, stepped over the sea of papers
that always seemed to accumulate when he was working, and prowled
around his study in search of his small son.
Legolas was notas Thranduil had fearedbeing
a spider on top of one of the bookcases.
Nor, this time, was heEru be praisedattempting
to light a fire in his goblin cave beneath the map
Nothis time, Thranduil found him in the garden cavern,
kneeling by the low stone bench that ran the full length of one
wall, drawing on a piece of parchment.
A red sausage.
Thranduil paused to brush a few crumbs of colour from the seat
before sitting down. Where did the chalks come from, Legolas?
Lord Astaldo gave them to me, Ada, said the
elfling, looking up from his picture and beaminggiving Thranduil
the opportunity to note that his hands, his nose and, for some
reason, his teeth and tongue, all needed a good scrub. And
these as well. He patted a pile of parchment trimmingsodd-shaped
fragments cut from the edges of the skinsand left a smudge
of small, greenish finger marks on the top piece.
I must repay the Counsellors kindness, thought Thranduil,
watching his son wipe a chalky hand down the front of his velvet
tunic. Perhaps his daughter would like a lump of clay to play
with. Or a pail of whitewash...
And what are you drawing?
A snake, said the elfling, seriously.
A snake. May I see it?
The child leaned back; Thranduil leaned forward and, looking
more closely, saw that the red sausage did, in fact, have two
small yellow eyes.
Have you drawn anything else?
May I see what?
His son laid down his piece of chalkNo, put it in
the box, Legolasgathered up several drawings from
the floor, and handed them over.
Thank you. Thranduil looked at the first picturea
bright orange creature with a big sunflower of a head, two short,
sturdy legs and a long, wavy tail.
Legolas had never actually seen a lionnor, for that matter,
had his fatherbut a passing Haradin merchant, telling him
tales of the king of beasts, had so captivated the
child that the Elvenking had spent an entire morning searching
his library for a woodcut, which father and son had then studied
The elfling had, Thranduil thought, made a reasonable job of
putting the image and the description together, though, with its
round eyes and lopsided grin, the creature was not, perhaps, as
fierce as it might have been. He glanced at his son as he laid
the picture down. Legolas had taken up a stick of green and, biting
his lip in concentration, was carefully adding spots to the sausage-snake.
Thranduil took up the next picturea drawing of a short,
round-bodied, yellow-haired fellow with strong dark brows and
piercing blue eyes (arranged in a strangely familiar scowl). Who
Legolas peered at the parchment in his fathers hands. That
is you, Ada!
Me...? The Elvenking looked again. Yes, the little figure
was wearing a crownwide and white and balanced upon the
tips of his ears. Thranduil considered his expression. Am I
really more ferocious than a lion?
He laid down his portrait and picked up his sons final
The elfling added some finishing touches to the sausage-snakes
forked tongue before looking up.
Did you come into my bedchamber this morning?
I wanted to go to the stables, Adato see the baby
Thranduil took another long look at his sons drawing. Elronds
letter can wait, he thought. Would you like to see the
baby horse now?
Legolas smile was like the sun emerging from the clouds.
Go and wash your hands and face first, said Thranduil.
There is a good boy.
The Elvenking waited until his son had left the garden, then
gathered up the childs drawings and returned to his study.
His own portrait, the smiling lion and the jolly sausage-snake
he carefully pinned to the carved wooden screen beside his desk.
The other picture he studied for a few moments more, thenwith
a sigh of regrethe crossed to the fireplace, laid the parchment
in the grate and, taking up his tinderbox and striking a spark,
he quickly burned the evidence.
Hello, baby horse...
All elves had an affinity with horses, But Legolas, thought
Thranduil proudly, is exceptionally gifted.
The Elvenking watched his small son approach the little grey
foal, slowly and calmly, murmuring reassuring words. It will
do the boy good to help raise it, he thought; to have a
few small responsibilities of his own. What will you
call him, Lasdithen?
Legolas patted the foals neck, laughing happily when the
horse nuzzled his shoulder, and pushed unexpectedly hard. Silverwings,
Silverwings. Thranduil smiled.
Then, as if suddenly making up his mindthough, in reality,
the decision had been made the moment he had seen Legolas
drawingMaeglin, he said, see that my son
gets back to my study. Legolas, when you have finished making
friends with Silverwings, go with Maeglin. I will be there soon.
Your Majesty! Thranduil...
May I come in?
Of course. The beautiful elleth stepped aside andclearly
uncertain how she should behave, given their recent intimacybent
in a half-curtsey before closing the door.
You left these. Thranduil handed her a pair white
She must already know why I am here, he thought. I
do not regret last night, he said, it was an unexpected
joybut there is my son to think of.
The elleth frowned up at him, uncomprehending.
My son came to my bedchamber this morning. Fortunately,
you had already left, and when he saw thesehe pointed
to the drawerslying on my bed he assumed that they
were mine. But, had he come in just a half hour earlier, he would
have seen us.
We can be more carefulyou can come hereyour
Majesty... She suddenly remembered her place, and curtsied
I will not hide from my son, said Thranduil, shaking
his head. Legolas must always know that he can come to me
whenever he needs me. When he is older, perhapswhen he can
understandit will be different. But he will always
I love you, said the elleth, forlornly.
No, said Thranduil, gently. But I thank you
for saying so.
Back in his study, the Elvenking found Legolas on his hands and
knees, beside his father's desk, vigorously colouring another
drawing. What is it this time, ion nín?
The baby horse.
Let me see.
Legolas held up his picture.
He had drawn the foalfor some reason in pale greenwith
a large triangular head and a big round body. But there was something
about the way he had tried to convey the animals long, gangly
legs, with their overlarge knees and awkward feet, andespeciallyabout
the way he had added a pair of feathered wings to the horses
back, that made Thranduil think: If he is still enthusiastic
in a year or sos time, I will find him a drawing teacher...
When you have finished, he said, we will write
his name at the bottom, and pin him up with your other pictures.
He gave his son a hug. But do try not to get any
more chalk on your tunic, Legolas.
Seated at his desk, the Elvenking looked, over his son's head,
at the ashes in the grate.
Legolas seemed to have forgotten his other drawing.
But Thranduil did not believe that he would ever recover
from the shock of seeing his sons pictureof a small,
round-bodied Elvenking wearing nothingbesides his huge crownbut
a knee-length pair of lacy, beribboned, white silk drawers.