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Title: Portend 1/3
Author: Nmenora
Rating: PG
Pairing/Characters: Legolas/Verno (pre-Aragorn/Estel), Thranduil, OMCs
Warnings: AU, Slash, angst; warm & fuzzy.
Setting: Mirkwood.
Disclaimer: All known Characters are Tolkien’s; even the OMCs have Tolkien names.
Beta: none; all mistakes are mine and that includes any misuse of the Elvish (as well as the English) language.

Summary: Six-year-old Legolas has an imaginary friend—at least this is what his family believes; what will happen when they find out that the ‘friend’ is very real? Who is he and what is his purpose A short WIP (3 chapters) that had begun as a drabble written for the LAS April/May ‘Spring’ Challenge, but morphed into this multi-chapter piece.

A/N: This is an AU world that messes with canon a whole bunch—some obvious, but others not yet apparent. It’s a bit odd, but I hope you like it. I was inspired by the Shirley Temple movie ‘The Blue Bird.’ I have wanted to write a similar fic for quite sometime, but this challenge gave me a vehicle for it, though I am not posting it as a part of the challenge; thanks Akashaelfwitch and the owner/moderators of Aragorn_Legolas Slash group.

Thoughts and stressed words are denoted by * *

Elvish Phrase glossary at the end of the each chapter


Chapter One

“Imaginary Friend”


King Thranduil smiled behind his hand at his son. The heartbreakingly beautiful 6-year-old elfling was stuffing, into a cloth sack, fruit and bread and nuts from the table where he, his ada and step-father were finishing their noon meal. This was a ritual that they had witnessed everyday for the past 18 months, 6 months after Legolas’ naneth perished at the hands of yrch.

After he’d put the last handful of nuts into his bag, the small male jumped down from his chair and ran over to his ada’s. “May I be excused, Ada?” He was shifting anxiously from one tiny foot to the other.

“Are you sure you have enough, Ion-nin?” The blond monarch inquired in serious tone that was belied by the amused twinkle in his green eyes.

With a small frown on his face, Legolas peered into the bag for a few moments at the contents before looking up again, “I have enough; my friend eats a lot, but this should just do.”

“Then you may go, if it is alright with Edrahil.” Legolas looked over at the auburn-haired elf sitting to the left of the King.

“May I go, ‘Da? Verno is waiting for me; he can only stay for a short time each day.”
“Of course you may go, Lass—say hello for me.” Edrahil smiled at the happy look on their elfling’s face.

After Legolas had gone, Edrahil looked at Thranduil with a look of concern replacing the smile on his handsome face.

“What is wrong, A’mael?” The Mirkwood King asked.

“I was just wondering if perhaps we should encourage his fantasies; he is so young. I know that it is common for penneths to have imagined friends, but I have never heard of one having imagined bond-mates.” His violet eyes looked at the door where Legolas’ small frame had disappeared moments ago.

Thranduil smiled as he clasped his husband’s strong, pale hand. “He is only imitating our union, beloved; he was so withdrawn after his naneth died. He’d always loved and trusted you as his protector, but no one, save for myself, could get more than two words at a time from him, his grief was so great. It was only after you and I became closer that he started to smile and laugh again.” The King brought the hand up to his perfect lips, placing a kiss on the palm.

Continuing, he smiled broader, “You saved him...and me as well.” Thranduil’s voice hitched on the last as love welled in his heart and tears in his clear, green eyes.

“We saved each other, A’maelamin.” Their lips came together in a gentle, but passionate kiss. Pulling away (reluctantly), Edrahil spoke, “You are correct, Coramin; it is understandable that he would want what we have. I will cease to worry so.”

“That is good for I have other things to occupy your mind,” Thranduil said with a wink and then a suggestive leer to his consort.

“Oh, you do? Please tell me what these ‘*things*’ are that you would have me do.”

“I’d prefer to show you—it will be much more *interesting* that way!” Standing up, he pulled the taller elf to his feet and they both ran out of the private dining hall like elflings no older than Legolas.

~*~*~

In the Queen’s garden...

Legolas laid out the small bounty from his cloth sack onto the small blanket before his friend. “I brought more fruit this time; we did not have any of the cheese that you like, but I saved you my apples, too.” He smiled happily as the dark-haired boy reached for one of the shiny red fruit, his blue-green eyes excited.

“Thank you, Melyanna! You take very good care of me,” ‘Verno’ said, passing some strawberries to Legolas.

“I will have just one since I’ve eaten already—these are all for you.” Legolas watched as the boy devoured the fruit and then some bread followed by some nuts.

Legolas’ laugh was like small bells tinkling as he looked at Verno; his friend always looked sheepish after he was done with the food the young Prince would bring him. He never eats food where he was from, it not being necessary to live or grow; but he liked the taste of fruit and cheese and fish and meat and...He laughed along with Legolas. He knew that the young elf didn’t remember him from the Before-time, but he had missed Legolas so much.

His Guardian told him that they were destined to be together in one version of their futures, but that their destinies weren’t definite since every living creature had free will. There was one other possible future for him and one other for Legolas; that it would depend on whether they met after he was born—and he was not set to be born for another 675 years. He didn’t really understand it, he only knew that his heart broke when Legolas was sent to Middle-earth and he was left alone.

He’d only had one other friend that he cared for before Legolas came into his existence, but she (who had also been Elvish) had left long ago; he’d only been her friend for a short time, but she’d said that she loved him with all her heart. He had loved her, too—but not the way he loved Legolas. The only thing was (his Guardian told him), once a child (man, elf, dwarf or hobbit) left the Before-time (as the unborn called their home), they forgot everyone they met there; except for a few who managed to find each other again. Those few would feel a special connection with that special friend when they would meet again—some unnamed bond that draws them to the other.

Guardian said that sometimes it is only friendship; sometimes the unborn friends will end up as siblings; but sometimes it is more and those ones would share their lives together until death takes one or both. She said that it didn’t matter if they were male or female, man, elf, dwarf or hobbit; if they belonged together, it would be magical and happy. But, there were times when beings bonded with those that they should not and that is why she allowed him to find Legolas now instead of waiting until after he was born. She said that his life and his future were very important to Middle-earth and his future happiness was tied to the lives of many.

In one of his possible futures, Middle-earth is prosperous and safe; but in the other, the world would be destroyed by some un-told peril and that the good that is there would be no more. She didn’t say from what or why this was so; she only said that it was very important that he spends time with Legolas so that when they met again, their bond will have a chance to take hold once more and that they would be together forever. Legolas was key to his happiness and to Middle-earth’s happiness. He was glad, for he’d missed Legolas so much and wanted them to be friends forever. The Guardian told him to be careful not to say too much to Legolas about what she’d told to him because the Prince may feel the great weight of it and this may keep him from venturing from Mirkwood to find ‘him’ someday. Verno (as Legolas calls him) could handle all of this since he did not experience fear and he had the kind of wisdom far beyond his apparent age that all the unborn possessed. This was necessary so that unborn children would not feel apprehension and would desire to see the world they are destined to be a part of.

Legolas had been happy when Verno had told him that they could be together forever one day. He’d said that then they would be like his ada King Thranduil and his other ada Edrahil; they would be each other’s husband or Veru (married pair)—herven in Sindarin or verno in Quenya he had said. Legolas asked him which he liked best since that would be what the elf called him. He hadn’t liked being called ‘Herven’ so he’d chosen ‘Verno.’ No one had names in the Before-time; they just knew each other.

“How long can you stay this time, Verno?” Legolas asked his voice already sounding sad at their eventual parting.

“The usual hour; Guardian will come for me after that time has passed. I wish that I could stay longer with you, but I would be missed. I don’t want her to get into trouble for bringing me here; then I’d never see you again—unless we find each other after I’m born.” The dark-haired pre-mortal boy said, feeling sadness of his own at that prospect.

“I know.” Then Legolas, determined to enjoy what time they had, said, “What should we play today? Would you like to play treasure hunt or climb trees or do you wish to tell stories of our time in the Before-time?” Legolas inquired. He didn’t care which as long as they were together.

“Why don’t we climb a tree and I’ll tell you about the times we would cloud-sail?” Legolas’ beautiful face lit up with joy; he loved hearing of those adventures and he adored climbing trees. Of course Verno knew this which is why he suggested it.

The two children jumped up and ran to the edge of the garden to the large oak tree and started climbing—giggling as they went to the top. Legolas would have loved to take Verno to climb one of the huge mellyrns, but he was not allowed to venture so far from the palace unless one of his parents or one of his instructors or his muindor Elurn was with him. There weren’t any real dangers in the inner portion of the fortress, but his parents weren’t taking any chances with his safety. His naneth had been killed returning home to the palace from a trip to her former home in Lothlrien and since then, extra care was taken with the Royal family—his ada, his older brother Elurn, Edrahil and especially, Legolas himself.

Once they’d reached the highest branch where they could sit, Verno began to tell Legolas tales of their time together before the Prince was born.

~*~*~

Elurn had just returned from one of his many lessons that day. Shrugging off his quiver, he placed the bow and it on the table just outside the private dining hall. He’d missed the noon meal, but he knew that his parents would forgive him—again—for being late. He would someday rule Mirkwood should King Thranduil leave for the Undying Lands or...Elurn frowned; he didn’t wish to finish that thought. Just suffice it to say, he would make a better ruler if he honed his skills as a warrior; which is why Ada and Edrahil never complained when he didn’t join them for lunch.

He entered through the door and sat at the table so recently abandoned by his family and just as always, one of the servants appeared as if by magic to bring him something to eat. After he’d consumed more food than normal elves should, he stood up to go in search of the King. Before he stepped away from the table, he noticed a small barrette lying on the floor next to the chair where Lass usually sat. He picked it up and smiled fondly at it; he loved his little brother so much, but he worried about him, too. Legolas didn’t have many elfling friends; truth be told, he didn’t have any of importance—the young one preferring to play alone with his imagined friend.

The only time the Crowned Prince recalled seeing his tr dithen play with other elflings his age was when Legolas had his morning lessons. Whenever Elurn would ask Legolas why he liked playing alone so much, the penneth would say to him in a serious voice that he never played alone except when Verno went home to the Before-time. Elurn remembered a time long ago when he had a pretend friend, but he never seemed to be as close to his as Legolas was to this Verno.

Perhaps, Elurn thought, he could help Legolas abandon his pretend friend in favor of some real ones. He pocketed the small barrette and left the hall; instead of seeking out his ada and step-father as he’d planned, he went to the garden to find the little Prince. He would start spending more time with Legolas and wean him from Verno once for all.

Elurn entered his mother’s garden; as he caught the scent of the roses she adored, his heart clinched in his chest. How he missed her so. A sob escaped him and he sunk to the ground near a bush full of white blooms. These had been her favorite. Maybe this is why Legolas played with his ‘friend Verno’ here—to be close to their mother. This place was their naneth’s and she and Legolas would work on her roses for hours until Elurn or the King would come fetch them for meals. Elurn hardly ever came here anymore; if he was truthful—he never came here anymore. Well, that would change today! He was going to spend more time with Legolas in this garden. He leaned forwards and smelled a perfect bloom; making a silent promise to his naneth, Elurn got to his feet once more and turned to find Legolas.

He had only gone a short distance when he found the remnants of what was left of the fruit, bread and nuts meal Legolas had given to Verno. Elurn didn’t have time to ponder the scraps as he heard Legolas’ laughter from high up in the large oak tree.

“Lass?” The older Prince called out as he peered up into the branches.

He could just make out his brother’s small form; but he could also see another one, but the elfling was on the other side of Legolas. He then heard another voice that was unfamiliar to him whisper something to Legolas just before the child climbed higher up the tree.

“Lass, who is that with you?” The elder Thranduilion asked.

“It is my friend Verno; please, Elurn do not come up here. We only have a short time together before he must leave for today.” Legolas sounded so distressed that Elurn began to climb up to make sure he wasn’t hurt or something. But the younger Thranduilion’s next words stopped him.

“Please, Muindor-nin—do not come up! You mustn’t see Verno—only I’m allowed to,” Legolas’ sobs floated down breaking his big brother’s heart.

“Very well, Pen-vuil—I will not come up. Tell Verno he needs not fear me.” Elurn was confused; both their parents believed that this ‘Verno’ was imaginary—he believed it. But now...

He called up to Legolas, “When your friend has gone, please come find me; I’ll be with ‘Da and Ada. Lass—do you promise?”

“I promise, Elurn—please go now,” Legolas said, sounding relieved.

“Come to the King and Consort’s sitting room.” Elurn admonished.

Elurn reluctantly moved away from the oak and moved back towards the palace. Everything in him wanted to hide so that he could glimpse this unseen child with Lass. There were things of Evil in the world—some of them in Mirkwood. There was talk of Sauron and his minion; of the Dark Lord gaining strength again. What if this child was a servant of Evil? He shouldn’t leave his innocent muindor alone with this ‘*thing!*’ Elurn stopped. He was overreacting; there was no reason why he should think that Legolas’ friend was a servant of Sauron; the elfling was just shy is all. And Legolas was a very bright elfling with a vivid imagination. The two penneths were just acting out some fantasy or Legolas just didn’t want to share Verno with them just yet.

Everything he was saying sounded logical, but he still was apprehensive; he’d always been taught to trust his instincts, but was his feelings instincts, intuition or just remnants of his earlier sorrow over his mother and his guilt for not spending more time with Legolas? They had all been convinced that Legolas’ unseen meldir was not real since the little Prince never introduced the elfling to his family. But now, it would appear that Verno was very real, indeed. Elurn would inform Thranduil and Edrahil; perhaps they could convince Legolas to bring his shy friend and his family together.

With that decision made, Elurn left the garden and headed to the family wing to talk to his and Lasse’s adas—the nagging feelings of unease still with him.

~*~*~

When Legolas was certain his brother had gone, he called to Verno, “You can come back down now—Elurn has left us.”

When Verno did not answer right away, he thought that the other had already gone back to the Before-time. But then, he heard the slight rustling of the branches and leaves as his dear friend descended to sit beside him once more.

“I thought you had gone, too.” Tears were beginning to stream down flushed, unblemished cheeks.

“I would not leave without saying namri to you,” Verno wrapped his small arms around Legolas and kissed his forehead. “I love you, Lass.”

“I love you, too.” They embraced for several minutes more, but then a bright white light began to stream through the trees and a soft female voice called out to Verno—unheard by any save him and Legolas.

After they began to spend time together, each time he had to leave the first few days, the young Prince would worry over him since the elf didn’t know who was taking Verno away since he couldn’t hear her; Verno asked his Guardian to speak where Legolas could hear, too for he knew that Lass feared that he would never come back each time. So the Guardian began to allow the elfling to hear her voice to allay his fears on that.

“It is time to go, Child,” she addressed Verno. Then to Legolas, “He will return to you tomorrow at the appointed time, Legolas.” The ‘Guardian,’ as Verno called her, said reassuringly.

She didn’t want Legolas to be distressed over their parting, so she always told him the same every day. She had allowed them to be together for a year and a half. She wanted their bond to grow stronger, for very soon, they would have to part permanently until the mortal child is born into the world; that way, their souls or (as the elves called it) their fa would seek its other part and the future High King and his Consort would save Middle-earth from certain doom.

When the time came for the elfling and pre-mortal child to say that final farewell, she would place a veil of forgetfulness over Legolas; just enough that he wouldn’t grieve. The Prince would think of Verno as the imagined friend his family believed him to be. Legolas would simply outgrow him until one day (hopefully) they would meet never to be parted again.

“I have to go now, my Melyanna,” Verno pulled the elfling closer. “I will return to you tomorrow.”

“I can’t wait! I’ll make sure I bring you three different cheeses and some sweet pastries and...” Verno’s laughter made him stop and he laughed too—it was always the same.

“You must hurry, Child—we must get back.” The Guardian warned.

“Namri, Legolas.”

“Namri,” the Prince said.

His cerulean blue eyes watched in fascination as the white light enveloped the small dark-haired child. Verno became transfigured and then as a wisp of smoke, he vanished.

“Namri,” Legolas whispered to the now absent Verno. With the back of his hand, he wiped away an errant tear. “He will come back to me tomorrow; he always will come back.”

Legolas climbed down and with those happy words ringing through his mind, he went to find his family. He didn’t realize that the last part of his declaration was not true; for very soon, he and Verno would part indefinitely. The blissfully unaware elfling skipped over to the blanket to clear away the leftover scraps; then he hummed as he entered the palace to find Elurn as he’d promised.

TBC

Please review

Elvish phrases:

Yrch – Orcs (Sindarin plural)
Lass –Leaf (Quenya)
A’mael – beloved
Verno – Husband (Quenya)
Penneths – Young ones
Coramin – My heart
Veru – Married pair (Quenya)
Herven – Husband (Sindarin)
Melyanna – Dear gift (Quenya)
Muindor-nin – My brother
Pen-vuil – Dear one
Namri – Farewell
Fa – Soul or spirit (Quenya)
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