Disclaimer: Not mine.
Author's Note: And that's the end of this fic. I'm not sure when I'll be able to post next, but I don't anticipate being able to before July.
I hope you've enjoyed the story!
Epilogue: SomeYears Later
"At least you are almost finished with your training," Legolas said. "I have another… thirteen years, at least, to endure with Bregolien."
"Was the King angry?"
Saeldur took a sip from his wineskin and passed it to Legolas, who drank and made a face.
"What is that?"
Saeldur laughed. "I know. It is vile. I bought it off a trader in Dale, when I went with Candnaur last month. He warned me against it, as he has not stopped telling me since he first tried it. I did not think even Men could drink something like this."
"I am impressed that you persuaded Candnaur to take you to Dale. I seem to remember him saying he would never again allow you within ten leagues of one of his meetings unless Elbereth herself stood before him and commanded it."
"I think," Saeldur said ruefully, "that I will not be able to persuade him next time. I got into an unfortunate… disagreement… with some of the guards. Lord Norgalad was furious."
"He has been speaking of it in court a great deal."
They were sitting in an oak, far enough removed from the patrol paths that guards were unlikely to see them, still carrying their bows and quivers from the archery contest they had had earlier. Legolas had won it, barely, as he usually did now. Saeldur did not know who was still willing to bet against Legolas in the contests, but coins and trinkets still changed hands.
Despite the victory, Legolas had been a little moody that evening – as, indeed, he had for most of the past week. Saeldur had brought the wine in the hope that it would encourage him to unburden himself.
Legolas seemed to guess as much, because he laughed and shook his head.
"Whatever you want to know, ask. You do not need to try to get me drunk… and with that I doubt you would succeed."
"I do not want to know anything," Saeldur said, seriously, "other than what it will help you to tell. Is the King displeased?"
"The King is not angry, precisely. He knows Bregolien exaggerates. But it worries him. He thinks being his son has made my training more difficult. It is not only Bregolien. Lord Norgalad has been more… more…"
As Legolas searched for a word, Saeldur suggested, "More like Norgalad?"
Legolas smiled, though there was no joy in it. "Yes, that is one way of putting it. I would not… I would not add to the King's burdens."
The King, Saeldur noted silently, not my father. Legolas revealed a great deal when he spoke, to those who knew how to listen.
"My mother says I must become accustomed to criticism," Legolas went on. "All this time the members of the King's court have seen me as a child, and, for the most part, left me to myself. That will not last much longer."
"If anyone starts anything," Saeldur said darkly, "I will know how to deal with it. But that is not what is troubling you now."
"No. My father says nothing – he does not want to worry me, I think – but, Saeldur, I cannot afford to fail in my novice trials, or take more time than is needed for my training. The King's duties prevent him from taking part in active service as a warrior – at least not nearly as much as he would like, since so many members of court sailed West after the Dagorlad. If I can serve, that will make things a little easier for him."
"It will make things far easier," said Saeldur, "and I am certain it already does. Everybody knows you are training. And everybody who knows anything about it knows you will be the finest archer Eryn Galen produces in this Age."
"If Bregolien does not somehow arrange that I fail my trials," Legolas muttered, uncharacteristically pessimistic.
"It would be a feat, even for someone as determined as Bregolien, to devise an archery test you cannot manage. In any case, we can worry about that when the trials are nearer. As you said, you have thirteen years."
Candnaur was awake when Saeldur returned home with an empty wineskin. As Legolas had predicted, the wine had no effect at all.
"You missed dinner," Candnaur said. "Was the archery contest that exciting?"
Saeldur shrugged. "It will soon be time for breakfast. Naneth knew not to expect me."
"Of course." Candnaur paused; when he spoke again, his voice was serious, although his eyes gleamed with mischief. "So… I suppose you still do not have Legolas' trust in that way?" Saeldur scoffed. "He is still very reserved and will not be honest with you, I expect." Saeldur scowled, but it only made Candnaur snicker. "After all, why should Legolas want to be your friend?"
"Are you never going to stop reminding me of that?"
"Of course not," Candnaur said merrily. "I am certain you will give me many more opportunities of pointing out that I was right."