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The Great Escape
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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5
A Walk in the Woods

The chance to lazily while the rest of the day away in the warmth of Anor’s glow and breathe air filled with the fragrance of the trees and flowers of the forest rather than the musty dankness of stone walls of the city had certainly been accepted with delight, not just by Legolas and the Lothlorien elves, but also those of Imladris. However, the sparkling day promised to turn into a crisp, clear night and to spend an evening under the stars they loved so well was a temptation too great to resist and by mutual consent, the errant Elves decided to remain in the forest overnight. The need for nourishment of some kind was easily fulfilled when the unmistakeable susurration of water flowing over rocks could be heard by all. Desiring a late afternoon swim, Haldir and his patrol eagerly went in search of the stream, promising to return with a few fish for the evening meal.

The Lord of Lothlorien declined the invitation to join his Galadhrim. The voices of the trees deep in the forest beckoned to him, and he was curious to hear their tales.

“Legolas, shall we see what these old trees recall of the years gone by?” he asked the younger elf who was also intrigued by the soft whispers.

“Aye, I would be pleased to join you,” he replied eagerly.

“Perhaps you will even be fortunate enough to find some wild strawberries for dessert,” suggested Elladan hopefully.

“Anything to please my grandsons, who have apparently become children for the moment,” replied Celeborn rolling his eyes in mock exasperation at the eager nods of approval and hungry licking of lips Elladan and Elrohir were displaying at the prospect of their favourite fruit for dessert. The two younger elves exchanged a glance then quickly moved to enfold Celeborn in a combined embrace. Laughing merrily, the elder elf kissed each cheek, and then twisted deftly out of their arms.

“Please see that these young ones behave while we are gone,” he entreated Glorfindel and Erestor who were watching the scene in silent amusement.

“We will do our best, but make no promises,” replied Glorfindel who, like Erestor had seen the hint of mischief in two pairs of grey eyes.

“Enjoy your walk in the woods, we are well experienced in dealing with these two,” added Erestor. More laughter ensued, but it was definitely of a more dangerous kind from Elladan and Elrohir who had decided the seneschal and the advisor had just issued them a challenge. Wishing to take no part in what was to come, Celeborn and Legolas quickly disappeared among the trees, leaving the Imladris elves to whatever fate awaited them.

“It occurs to me that perhaps you would like to hear a tale from the days I spent with Thranduil and Oropher in Doriath whilst we walk?” he enquired of his young companion.

“Aye, my Lord, I would.” Legolas nodded his head in affirmation, his eyes gleaming with inquisitiveness. Thranduil had told many stories of those days, and he delighted in the offer to hear some from Celeborn’s perspective.

“I am kin Legolas, and no matter how distantly we are related, you have the right to call me by my name,” the elder told the younger elf, clasping him affectionately on the shoulder.

“As you wish… Celeborn.” Legolas felt a little uncomfortable using the more familiar form of address, but the brilliant smile of acceptance from the elf lord dispelled any further concern.

They walked in silence for a few moments, simply allowing the serenity of the forest to touch their spirits with the softness of a gentle caress until Celeborn decided which incident he would relate to his young kinsman.

“It is a well known fact that Oropher was not fond of my Galadriel, but do you know why?” he finally asked, choosing to relate the most important incident that he recalled from the past.

“Because she is Noldo and under the shadow of the kinslayers?” Legolas looked slightly embarrassed to speak words that may cause offence and differed so markedly from his own thoughts. “I like her very much and Adar apparently does not hold the same opinion as my Grandada for I have never heard him speak poorly of Lady Galadriel,” he added hastily.

“Nor would I expect him to, he holds a certain fondness for her that is returned in kind and aside from her heritage, their friendship was certainly part of Oropher’s reason for his dislike… especially after a certain incident occurred in Doriath,” said Celeborn, his eyes flashing with anger as he relived that time in his mind.

“Please tell me what happened,” implored Legolas. Celeborn stopped walking and indicated they should rest beneath a large, old oak tree while he told his tale.

“I was not there at the start, but I will recount what Thranduil and Galadriel told me of that fateful day.” There was such sadness and hurt in his voice that Legolas could not help but feel it as well.

“There is no need to speak of something painful,” he said kindly. Celeborn ‘s widened eyes spoke of his surprise that his feelings were so easily seen by one who did not know him well.

“Your sensitivity does you credit Legolas and I thank you for your concern, but this is a story you should hear.”

“As even Master Gimli freely admits, Galadriel is exceedingly beautiful, even for an elf and we were both well aware that she had many admirers from afar among the males in our settlement. Naturally they respected our marriage bond and none dared to more than look on her beauty, however one day a group of elves arrived to join us, one of whom was immediately besotted by my beloved. I was away on a hunting trip at the time, and whether out of an unusual inability to sense a marriage bond, or because of my absence, this particular elf approached her, requesting that she allow him to escort her to the revelry that evening. Galadriel easily saw his regard for her and his less than honourable intentions and politely informed him that she was awaiting the return of her husband. In a disquieting show of disrespect, this elf persisted in his efforts to gain her attentions, even going so far as to attempt to kiss her cheek. He was both astounded and outraged when his lips met the cold steel of Thranduil’s blade rather than soft skin, but he quickly realised his peril and backed away.”

“Adar is quite skilled with the sword,” commented Legolas with much pride. He knew full well that had the affront come from any being other than an elf, the touch of the sword would have been fatal.

“Indeed he is, and he was being nothing but the good friend he was by defending the honour of my lady in my absence. All that evening Thranduil sat close by Galadriel, and although she willingly danced with him, she refused all others. The rejected elf apparently tried to ease his hurt and anger with wine, but after drinking too much, he began to become offensive, accusing Thranduil of trying to break our bond and replace my affections in Galadriel’s heart.

“Of course this was not the case but there were murmurs from a few who held little love for Oropher that perhaps there was some truth to it. Your Grandada, who I always held to be overly sensitive to other’s opinions of his House, was enraged by the slight to his son’s reputation and honour and blamed Galadriel for bewitching him in some manner.

“As if speaking to an errant child, he ordered Thranduil to leave the dance square, but being of like temperament to Oropher, your adar despised being spoken to in such a manner and blatantly ignored the command.”

“Did not Grandada punish him for his disobedience?” enquired Legolas who was astonished by Thranduil’s lack of respect for Oropher in this instance. His own relationship with Thranduil was one of deep love and respect and although they had had their share of disagreements, as was not uncommon for parent and child, he could not imagine ever openly defying his adar in such a manner.

“Indeed he did, but only after they had a terrible argument that lasted well into the early hours of the morning, and ended with a wall of stony silence erected between them that lasted several months according to what your adar told me later, at his wedding, in fact,” he added with a smile. It seemed that not even amongst the trees were they safe from mention of the celebration ahead. Legolas smiled his understanding of the reason for Celeborn’s amusement and waited patiently for the rest of the story.

“ Anyway, to continue… I returned later that day and on hearing of the incident thanked Thranduil for his concern over Galadriel and tried to make peace with Oropher. Unfortunately the small rift that had lain between us already due to, in his opinion, my ‘unsuitable’ choice of wife, did not mend but turned into a bottomless chasm. Oropher announced his decision to leave Doriath to seek a haven as far away from the ‘corrupting Noldo influence’ as he called Galadriel, as possible. Thranduil considered this forced separation from many of his friends, myself and Galadriel included, to be worse than any thing else Oropher could have devised as punishment, and begged him to reconsider,” said Celeborn. “As you are aware, Oropher would not be swayed, and to his credit, Thranduil accepted his role as the self styled King’s son and helped forge the bond between the Sindar and Silvan elves.”

“But what happened to the elf who caused all the trouble?” asked Legolas. Celeborn’s face lit with amusement as he replied.

“It is not wise to incur Galadriel’s fury as he did, and after threatening him at sword point with the loss of more than his already tattered dignity, she banished him from our settlement.” Celeborn’s amused chuckle was unsettling and Legolas felt his brow furrow in confusion.

“Surely she did not intend to kill him?” he asked uncertainly.

“Nay, of course not! You misunderstand. She threatened to remove a certain body part.”

“Ai! Then I hope we have not incurred her wrath,” said Legolas, shivering slightly as he imagined the damage a sword wielded in anger could inflict.

“Nay, we have not, my dear wife realises that she has perhaps encouraged Arwen to be a little over zealous. When I far spoke with her, Galadriel intimated that she understands our need to leave the city, the song of the trees call to her also,” said Celeborn, his eyes shining brightly with the love he held in his heart for his lady.

“Why not ask her to join us now? The wedding is still ten days away, surely she can be spared for a few hours?” suggested Legolas who had found little time to speak with Galadriel, but was eager to do so after hearing of the incident in Doriath.

“Ai, you are not only a heroic warrior, but I suspect you are also a sensitive and romantic lover who will make some lovely young elf maiden very happy one day. Yet I warn you that unless you wed in Ithilien after Galadriel sails West, you will likely find her involved in your wedding preparations when you reach Valinor!” Legolas could not help but laugh at the teasing words spoken with much affection, nor could he prevent himself from blushing furiously. Sensing the younger elf did not feel comfortable continuing this particular discussion, Celeborn changed the subject. “Come, is that not a strawberry patch I see over there?”

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