A/N: Back by popular demand, Keeper of the Dunedain. Hey guys, ya thought I was going to abandon this one didn't cha? Well rejoice my dear readers I am not gonna abandon this fic. I was just taking a break from it. But breaks pretty much over, I won't update this fic often but I will update it nonetheless. Now on to Q and A. –Rei
Nanashi Sonzai- first off thanks for the info that's gonna come in handy. As for your 'title' question well he's the Istar of the north to the Valar Lion of the West to the Twins. They are just nicknames to pick with him. As for the pairing I'm not telling, sorry.
Rokkis- Yup I enjoy being an evil authoress i.e. so many possibilities to explore so little time to enjoy them all. And thanks for the critique I'm still getting used to that.
Shadewolf7- This is whipped compared to The Quick And The Dead. Take a look at that fic and I bet you, you'll be getting an education on colorful language that you'll never forget.
Tmctflyboy- Oh our elven prince is about to get a crash coarse in reality check 101 real soon.
Tobang- I understand your reluctance more than you'll ever know. I've had the unpleasant run in with bad slash after bad slash after bad slash but I'm determined to make this a good one. And key word on this eventually. To me, my characters are real if that makes any sense, and thus they have to evolve change and grow like real people more often than not do. So don't worry too much about it.
Dahlia Franks- Damn it you guessed that's alright cause those two aren't going to be together for awhile. Sorry to disappoint.
Yasu Nozomi- That'd be telling, Shame on you for trying to get me to spill the beans before telling the story.
JuMiKu- You forget about what type of people he had to deal with when he was a child. I know how my mother acts when someone treats me like some of the people treated her when she was young and trust me it was bad. Harry's on edge right now and there's nothing worse than a defensive parent.
LynnGryphon- Sadistic much? But then again the idea had crossed my mind so I'm not much better.
And to the rest of my loyal readers and reviewers sit back, relax and enjoy.
Malrendil didn't return to the hall of fire after his conversation Elladan. Rather he went to his son's room to wait for the young boy to return. To occupy himself, the black wizard began to pack the bag his son would be taking on his first hunt. It was only a small distraction but one that he needed in order not to become impatient. Being a king, father, and husband had done wonders for his patience but Malrendil was still young yet.
So the black wizard tried not to concentrate too much on the questions buzzing around in his head as he tucked away an extra pair of clothes for his son. However, Estel didn't make him wait long seeing as after only an hour later the little ranger went to his room intent on getting away from Legolas's staring. Only to be confronted by his adoptive father's almost intrusive gaze once he entered his room, Estel gulped. Malrendil was smiling at him, and had it been anyone else the youngest of Elrond's household would say the look was purely sinister.
"We'll be having a conversation now my son, exactly why does the prince of Mirkwood hate you?" Estel tried to look innocently confused "I can't read minds Ada, besides, you yourself taught me that people don't really need a reason to hate." As clever as his son's answer was, the black wizard was hardly taken by surprise. He cocked his head, the smile rapidly spreading into a smirk. "True, but trying to divert me? Not the greatest idea in the world my son, I know that you at least have an idea what has gotten into Greenleaf's craw I suggest you share."
Embarrassed, Estel knew better than to try and refute his father when he took, that, particular tone of voice. "Imighthavesavedhislifeagainstacoupleorcswhichistotallynot- "Slow down Estel, I'm not going to get angry if you tell me the truth." 'Much', Malrendil amended but he wasn't about to tell his son that. Taking deep breaths the curly haired child wrung his hands nervously in his tunic. "Well, when I went out, I kinda ran into a bunch of orcs and Legolas was there." Malrendil didn't look in the least bit surprised in fact he looked down right amused.
His face nearly spasms in suppressed laughter. "Let me guess you saved his life?" At his son's startled nod Malrendil did laugh. "Aye you are truly a son of mine, blood or not." Wide eyed Estel was too shocked to ask Malrendil to elaborate. However the loin of the west needed no prompting. Even as the tears of hilarity rolled fat drops down his face Malrendil began to tell him a tale from his childhood of a bitter and vindictive man named Severus Snape.
In the hall of fire everyone noticed the glaringly obvious absence of the birthday boy and his wizard father. However, Elrond wasn't going to interrupt the peace of this gathering, even knowing that Estel left because one of 'his' guest. Many knew that the demise of Legolas's grandsire was in partial fault of the second-born. He had hopped that once the prince of Mirkwood got to know his nephew then Legolas would find that not 'all' the second-born were detestable creatures. Yet the more time passed in each others company the more agitated Legolas seemed to become.
When Malrendil asked to have a word with Elladan instead of Legolas, Elrond was surprised. He had glanced at his mother-in-law. Galadriel's lips were placed in a barely visible frown yet she didn't stray from her conversation with Glorfindel. When his son returned without Malrendil, the half-elven lord sent his son a questioning look. Elladan merely grimaced in return. Elrohir was also watching his brother. It was easy enough to see whatever their 'uncle' had said had troubled the usually unflappable twin. Almost immediately Elladan's eyes met his and flicked toward their' long time friend. Confused, Elrohir tilted his head inquisitively.
Even as he took his seat next to the wood elf, Elladan once again flickered to their' friend and then to where Malrendil had led him. Looking at their' friend, the younger of Elrond's twin sons noticed that Legolas was still glaring at Estel. Earlier he had equated the blond elf's staring to wariness, yet even now Legolas's regard had not let up. Slowly Elrohir nodded toward Elladan, so the black king wanted them to talk to their' friend. It wasn't long after that, even the amiable Estel could no longer stand the weight of the Prince's stare, and with hasty excuses left his uncle's table.
And yet the lord of Imladris still refused to acknowledge the awkward air that seemed to consume his hall. He could only hope that whatever had his Mirkwood kin's heart so inflicted with malice would resolve itself. 'And if it didn't,' he mused wryly, 'then Elrohir and Elladan will speak with him.' Elrond watched every so often as his troublemakers shot the Woodland prince suspect looks. The rest of the night passed on without further incident and everyone went to bed in fairly light spirits. Even the surely Legolas, whom despised the new mystery of Elrond's household.
The next morning, even before the sun made it's ascension to the sky, he was up and helping his fellow elves make final preparations for the journey ahead. The blond elf loaded the horses with Elladan's while Elrohir went to retrieve their cousin. Legolas couldn't help the grimace at the thought of the deceitful creature Imladris seemed so enamored with.
What he didn't know was that Elladan was watching him, and seeing his grimace for perhaps the hundredth time decided enough was enough. "Legolas, I'm going to ask you a question and before you get offended, I want you to answer honestly." His friend frowned severely, and looked at him from around his rather robust mount. Something was askew, if a question was offensive it wouldn't stop Elladan from asking. Not to mention, his friend was rarely serious, and when he did drop the guise of a jester, it was in ones best interest to listen.
The scion of the Mirkwood royal line had a sinking suspicion of what Elladan was going to question him about. Studiously the younger of Elrond's twin sons kept his eyes on the mane he was currently combing. He knew that he had to straighten out his friend, lest Malrendil take up the task himself, and Legolas would be off far worse if the wizard's hand was forced, but that didn't make this any easier. "What is your problem with Estel?" Even though he saw it coming Legolas still froze when he heard the words leave his friend's lips.
This first answer that came to mind was that the second born was treacherous. This fact was proven in how the little human had failed to inform his own family about his skill with a blade. Yet that would be a lie, for such cunning wasn't unheard of amongst those of the elves of Mirkwood who were constantly surrounded by enemies. It was in ones best interest to not show off especially when there was a possibility of said skills being used against you. So no, it wasn't that fact that he was deceitful.
Legolas argued with himself over the reasons for a long while, and the reasons were many. However, every time he contemplated his top reason, the blond haired prince abruptly dismissed it. There was no way in Mordor that was true. Seeing as his fellow hunter wasn't going to answer, Elladan sighed, "fine, don't answer me, but whatever it is Legolas, get over it, and do so quickly, Estel is a good boy and others will not be as tolerant of your antagonism as Elrohir and I."
Meanwhile Elrohir went to their' cousin's room, only to find the boy was awake and ready, with his father at his side. Malrendil was as grimfaced as the elder of Elrond's twins ever seen him. When the twins had come to him months about the idea of his son's 'first hunt' being outside of Rivendell's boarders, Malrendil had flat out refused. For years the wizard allowed Estel to roam out of his sight, because the little Dunedain never went beyond said boarders. Worst of all Elladan and Elrohir wouldn't allow anyone to see them off. To them, the act of saying goodbye was implying that they would never return.
This particular sentiment the former boy-who-lived could understand wholeheartedly, but it didn't make the parting now any easier. Almost reluctantly the wizard handed him Estel's bag. And still he gripped Estel's hand as if he would never let go, Elrohir was of the mind that had he the option Malrendil would hold onto the boy till his dying breath. The little Dunedain by contrast, was more excited than Elrohir had ever seen him.
The dark haired child bounced at his step father's side, ecstatic to go on his first hunt outside of the watchful gaze and under the powerful guard of his father and uncle. Even his owl friend seemed ready to fly off the walls at the prospect of not being under his mother's protective wing. But both parents' did let go, Malrendil with a kiss to his son's brow and Hedwig with an affectionate nuzzle to Hathellor's feathered throat. The brown and white hawk owl fluttered to Estel's shoulder as the boy began to follow his cousin back to the stables.
Hedwig and Malrendil watched their' retreating figures with both wistfulness and more than just a small bit of worry. Both understood that their' son and hatchling respectively had to strike out on their' own but it didn't it make it any easier to let go. The white owl flew down from the rafters to perch on the black wizard's shoulder. "We could follow them you know." He said ploddingly. Hedwig whistled her agreement, they could. But his long time companion then dug her claws gently into his velvet clad shoulder. They, however, were not going to.
The first day of hunting the twins spent most of their' time teaching their' cousin tracking and other necessary skills to survive in the wild. And throughout the entire day, Legolas ignored him. This was perfectly fine with Estel, seeing as he remembered the story his father told him the night before quite vividly. The knowledge that someone hated him simply because he was what he was grated Estel's nerves, but he wasn't about to confront the surly and fully healed Mirkwood elf about it. Despite what the twins might think, the son of Arathorn did have did have self preservation instincts.
By nightfall the four hunters and hawk owl had managed to travel a great distance from Rivendell's boarders, and further toward the Misty Mountains. They set up camp to cook their' day's catch, a cache of rabbits, which Elrohir and Estel had set traps for. Intent on staying away from the child that had provoked his ire for nothing more than existing, Legolas took up residence in a tree for first watch. Neither of the twins paid him any mind. Whatever funk the proud elf was in would pass when he was ready.
Elladan showed Estel the proper way to cook the hapless creatures after his brother skinned them. "You stew them." He told the dark haired child, taking out a small clay vessel, filled half way with watered down wine. The older of Elrond's son then helped his cousin cut up the already skinned meat into chunks to put into the vessel. Elrohir added wild mushrooms that he had found along the way, with salt and pepper he had taken from the kitchens. From his perch on the child's shoulder, Hathellor ate the occasional chunk raw.
After Estel and Elladan was done filling the vessel with the meat, Elrohir but it directly on the fire. Then they settled down around the fire waiting for it to cook. While they waited, they joked amongst each other, the twins hoping Legolas would lighten up already and join them. Estel just hoped the reticent elf would just continue to ignore him, for fear of confrontation on what was supposed to be a pleasant excursion. Abruptly the steel eyed Dunedain clamped down on that train of thought, looking around himself nervously as if someone had heard his thought.
His dark haired cousins looked at him confusedly. "What is it Estel?" The boy let out a nervous chuckle, "it's nothing," Both of the twins looked down upon him disbelievingly. The young one despite his few years even by human standards was far from finicky and was never given to unusual nervous outburst. Seeing the determined not to mention skeptical looks on their' faces Estel fortified himself against his automatic need to just tell them what was wrong. It was stupid anyway and he had no wish to be made fun of in front of their' blond headed friend.
Just as the twins were about to grill him anyway, they all heard the twang of Legolas's bow, far off into the distance. Elladan and Elrohir's heads shot up to find their' friend no longer on his perch in the nearby tree. Immediately they both shot up to their' feet, "stay with Estel." They both shouted running toward the sudden sound of battle. Just as abruptly they both stopped realizing what they were doing. "Hathellor will protect me," Estel quickly said stalling the argument that was quickly brewing.
Seeing the brothers hesitate Estel rolled his eyes before rising to his feet and shoving them toward where their' friend had gone, "go." Finally nodding Elladan and Elrohir drew their' weapons and ran off to join Legolas in whatever battle he gotten himself into. Knowing better than to try and sneak after them, Estel drew his own dagger and remained close to the fire, Hathellor, scanning the trees with his keen gaze. The littlest human of Elrond's household sighed. His father was right, in bad situations whatever can go wrong would most probably do so.