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Arianne's name popped up on the screen, accompanied by the ringtone Maglor had reserved for her calls. (It was the Adventure Time theme.)
He always wanted to know when the caller was Arianne, so that—or so he claimed—he knew when not to answer, because she had the habit of rambling and talking too much. And so she did, but in truth the last son of Feanor harboured a great deal of affection for the girl. If ever she needed his assistance, he wished to be there for her straight away if he could. The descendants of his adopted son Elrond he treated as his own family also.
As it turned out, nothing disastrous had befallen Arianne.
"So, what's up with Legolas?" she asked cheerily. "Daeradar said something happened to him the other night, and he's not answering my texts."
Cautiously, Maglor peeked out from behind the doorway just in time to see the former Prince of Mirkwood lowering himself down onto the couch, rather painfully if the look on his face were any indication.
Maglor shook his head and walked over to the kitchen bench just in time to hear an agonized-sounding groan from Legolas.
"It's…a rather sore issue," he said slowly.
"Oh." The sound of dishes clanking together rattled in his ears. "Hang on, I'm just taking some stuff to the sink."
The pause gave Maglor enough time to ask himself a few questions. What on earth did she want to talk to him about? It was not just to gossip about Legolas, surely. And why was she always eating something?
"I'm back," she announced, over the top of the ear-grating screech of a chair scraping against the floor. Maglor cringed, his sensitive Elvish hearing offended. "Now, Daeradar told me that some of you are conducting a reconnaissance of enemy territory sometime in the not-too-distant future. By which I assume he was referring to the Suell place."
"You are correct in your assumption," said Maglor. "I suppose he has already mentioned that you were to be one of our party."
There was a pause on the other end. "What?"
"Lord Elrond wishes you to accompany us."
"Arianne?" ventured Maglor.
He heard a faint snort. "Sorry, I just thought I'd heard you suggest that I go traipsing about on Sue territory. Aren't Sues kind of...dangerous?"
I suspected this would be her reaction, he thought.
"Lord Elrond wishes you to become more acquainted with the ways of the Sue. Mind you," he added, frowning when he caught sight of one of his numerous guitar picks buried in a pile of bills, "he was very reluctant to do so."
"Reluctant? Why didn't he stay that way? What happened to the over-protective Elf Lord thing?" demanded Arianne.
"You do not sound pleased."
"I'm hardly pleased that Daeradar's gone and gotten me involved without even asking me about it."
"I understand," answered Maglor. "I was a little surprised myself when the issue was presented. But I think it is a good idea all the same."
"I thought," said Arianne, with what Maglor thought was a slightly peevish tone, "that Sues had the power to exert influence over the thought processes of nearly anyone with no experience of them. What if I end up under that influence and I start...spouting rainbows and stuff?"
"You will be with myself, Mithrellas and Glorfindel," he said gently. "None of us will let you come to any harm." He paused for a moment to retrieve the guitar pick and to wonder why they were always going missing when he took such great pains to avoid their being lost. "Your Daeradar trusts us to protect you. Can you?"
For the third time, Arianne hesitated to respond. Maglor had never known her to be so quiet.
When Maglor sauntered into the lounge room, hands in his pockets, he found Legolas and Glorfindel locked in what appeared to be an intense staring competition. The Prince of Mirkwood's face was unreadable. The Balrog-slayer's mouth kept twitching. Nimrodel was looking from one to the other uncertainly.
Maglor had to walk in front of them to retrieve his guitar. He did not even spare a glance at Glorfindel as he sighed and said, "Give it a rest."
"Give what a rest?" asked Glorfindel innocently. Mithrellas strolled in at that moment and snorted.
"Laugh it up, Balrog Boy," she said. "I overheard Maglor's conversation with Arianne. It seems that you are going on the next expedition. Maribella may well wish to do worse to you than hurling tacos when she sees your gorgeous face." She paused. "I hope she has not managed to get her hands on a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. Can you imagine?"
"I, for one, would rather not," Legolas said with a shudder.
Mithrellas nodded. "You had better be on your guard, then, Glorfindel."
"My dear Mithrellas," Glorfindel said evenly, "if there is any chance that the Elvish version of 50 Shades is going to be enacted at the Suells', I am going to make sure—"
"—That Billy-Bob is not around, for starters." Legolas grinned at him.
"That," said Glorfindel, "but I was thinking a spiked club might be more pertinent."
"Which is very much in keeping with the theme you have going," pointed out Maglor, tuning a string. Glorfindel raised an eyebrow at him. Maglor held up a hand. "Not that I claim to have read 50 Shades. I hope that you have some safe exit strategies in mind."
"Unlike poor Legolas here, who, it seems, fell out the window and rather spoiled the dramatic effect."
Ignoring Legolas' sigh, Glorfindel leaned over the bowl of Pretzels as he said this and held one speculatively up to the light. "I shouldn't like these things as much as I do. Modern mortal food has this penchant for being revolting and wonderful at the same time."
"It really does," Nimrodel agreed. "Two-Minute Noodles are terribly addictive."
"And Easy Mac," called out Daeron from the kitchen.
Legolas shifted over and Mithrellas took the opportunity to sit down. "In my defence," he said, brandishing a half-eaten Pretzel, "whose idea were those capes?" He raised his eyebrows pointedly at Maglor.
Maglor held up his hands. "I am sure the capes are not to blame for your lack of co-ordination," he said good-naturedly.
"My lack of co-ordination?" Legolas' eyes widened in disbelief. "You trod onto my cape right before I leapt out the window."
There was laughter all round. Maglor remembered the events of a few nights ago with a grin. "Ah. Now I remember."
Glorfindel leaned forward, intrigued. "Now, this is interesting. I heard nothing of these capes being the downfall of Legolas."
"As we were preparing to make our dramatic exit, I reached the window first, Maglor in tow," explained Legolas. "What I failed to realise was that the cape was pinned to the floor and twisted by Maglor's foot."
"Which when he jumped sent him toppling out the window backward, where an accommodating bush broke his fall," finished Maglor. Legolas shrugged and ruefully rubbed his backside amid gales of laughter, Glorfindel's of course being the loudest.
"Sweet Waters of Awakening," he chuckled, wiping his eyes. "Did Maribella see it?"
"With any luck, no," answered Legolas. "The entire point was to...dampen her enthusiasm—"
"By which you mean 'scare the living light of Anor out of her'?" asked Daeron.
"Well...yes." Legolas paused. Maglor glanced at him. Young Greenleaf would have to think carefully about how he would phrase his answer. It would be potentially awkward if it appeared that he did not see eye-to-eye with the Lady Galadriel on the issue.
Which, it must be said, he clearly did not.
The erstwhile Lady of the Golden Wood believed that Maribella should be allowed to continue the way she was. The girl was, inexplicably, not just a Sue, but created human. As such, she existed as any other human girl would - if the Elves simply killed her off, they would draw attention to themselves. And who knew what would happen then?
Legolas was not planning on going against her wishes, but he held to the rather optimistic view that they could somehow contain her. Giving the creature a fright was the first one of his ideas. Admittedly it was a rather painful prospect, the idea of letting Maribella grow to the full extent of her powers. However, once she did, she would leave behind her humanity, vanishing from government records and from all official existence, which would make it far easier to deal with her and less threatening to the Elves' livelihood. It was a difficult situation.
It's not that he has no faith in Galadriel, he thought, wincing as he realised he had tuned the string too high. It was anxiety, and quite justified. The fact was that Legolas had been the main object of interest for far too many Sues over the centuries and sometimes, it was simply too much.
(Of course, that was before The Hobbit movies began to come out. He wondered how Fili and Kili were faring.)
"Anyway," said Legolas, standing up. "I do not intend to venture anywhere near Miss Suell again if possible. With the exception of biology class."
Mithrellas gave a wicked grin. "I am almost certain Maribella would love to get to know your biology."
"Away with you and your wicked insinuations," said Legolas airily, with a graceful stretch. "Now, does anyone else feel like Easy Mac?"
And amid the eager chorus of 'yes, please's! Maglor had to wonder – not for the first time – whether over the course of his writing Glorfindel's friend Professor Tolkien had ever envisaged the wisest and fairest of all beings doing something so vulgar as eating microwaveable pasta.
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