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The Age Old Question

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The Age Old Question


Title: The Age Old Question


Author:  washow


Rating:  G


Summary:  Complete.  A non-slash tale of friendship.  Legolas finally finds out the answer to a question, which has been plaguing him his entire life.


Disclaimer:  I do not own Lord of the Rings nor am I making any profit from this story.  Any similarities to other fan fiction are purely coincidental. 


A/N:  This fiction was originally written for the January TEITHO challenge which required stories to have the theme of “friends in small spaces”.  Unfortunately I was not able to complete the story in time and am now unveiling it for your reading pleasure.  I use the word wardrobe in this story but it does not refer to a collection of clothing but rather to a cabinet which was used to store clothing before the invention of modern closets.



The Age Old Question



            The young ranger narrowed his eyes as he surveyed the corridor in front of him; he was almost positive Legolas had come this way but yet there seemed to be no trace of the woodland prince.  The human shook his head in frustration and turned to leave but decided to take one last look before moving on to other areas of the palace.  The ranger closed his eyes to concentrate and recalled the words which had been spoken at his first tracking lesson, ‘Start by looking for the small signs then step back to look at the whole picture and you will find your path.’  The ranger slowly opened his eyes and took heed of his brother’s advice, looking for the small signs of someone’s passage rather than expecting his friend to suddenly appear before him; the walls were perfectly flat meaning no door was even the slightest ajar, the flames in the lanterns were all standing straight so no-one had passed to make them bend, and the green and gold tapestry was fluttering just the slightest bit.  Immediately the ranger’s eyes returned to the fabric, why was it moving?  The wood elves lived in a cave so there were no windows to be left open leaving only one possibility – Legolas had been there recently. 


Aragorn looked around to be sure he wasn’t being watched then stealthily, or as stealthily as a human could, made his way down the hall.  Once he was standing in front of the tapestry he quickly looked for causes of its movement and discovered it was located right next to a door.  The ranger smiled – the answer couldn’t be any easier if Legolas had written him a note – the prince had sought refuge within this room and in opening the door had caused the tapestry to flutter.  The man quickly looked left and right, checking for opponents lurking in the shadows, and then when he was certain he was unobserved he slipped into the dark depths of the king’s sitting room.  Slowly his eyes adjusted and he was able to circle the room – looking behind and under every piece of furniture in an attempt to find his friend.  After thoroughly searching the room the man realized that his friend was nowhere to be found and moved his search into the bedchamber.  After searching the room and coming up with nothing the man narrowed his eyes and took one more look around; he had been sure his friend was in here!  Just as he was about to leave he heard a soft thump come from the king’s wardrobe and knew that he had finally found the woodland prince!  The man confidently strode over to the wardrobe and pulled the door open expecting to find his friend, but instead found himself facing nothing but a line of court robes.  Narrowing his eyes in confusion the ranger whispered, “Legolas?”


            “Yes, now be quiet and get in here!” a voice called from the dark interior.


            The ranger was momentarily stunned by receiving an answer but quickly recovered and stepped into the wardrobe.  Once the door was shut the cabinet was transformed into a veritable black cave and the man found himself delayed while he waited for his eyes to adjust to the changing light.  As soon as he could see, as much as one can see in almost complete darkness, he began to make his way around the garments and through the wardrobe searching for his friend.  After passing a pink robe he abruptly came face to face with his best friend.  “Legolas, what are we – ?”


            The woodland elf instantaneously turned and pressed his hand to his friend’s mouth, “Do be quiet ranger or I’ll be forced to use one of my father’s belts as a gag”, the elf whispered dangerously.


            The human’s eyes grew as large as dinner plates and he quickly nodded his understanding causing Legolas to slowly remove his hand.  The elf didn’t spare another glance for the ranger but instead turned and resumed his earlier pastime of pressing his ear to the wood listening for intruders.  The human mimicked his friend’s pose; however, he could hear nothing and was about to ask Legolas what he heard when the elf turned to him and mouthed, “Not a sound”.  The human trusted his friend implicitly so he complied with the command despite the fact he had no idea who or what was approaching.  Fortunately the young human wasn’t left pondering too long as moments later there was a soft click of the door followed by the swish of fabrics and finally the twin sons of Elrond appeared.


            The faint glow of three elves illuminated the small space enough for the human to see the serious look on his eldest brother’s face, “Wonderful spot mellon nín.”


            “Quiet, Noldor, someone will hear you!” Legolas hissed.


            The twins glared at their friend but kept the snide remarks to themselves choosing instead to join the wood elf in his vigilant survey of their surroundings.  From time to time there would be a noise but it usually turned out to be a friend who would join them in the safety of their sanctuary.  As the number of elves in the wardrobe grew the space became both brighter and more cramped.  With a sigh and a wiggle the ranger also noted that the three glasses of juice he had for breakfast wanted to make an appearance.  With the available space decreased it was inevitable that the occupants would bump into each other occasionally but the tenth time the ranger bumped into him Legolas finally lost his temper, “Estel, if you don’t stop squirming I’m going to stick you to a tree and use you for target practice.”


            The ranger squirmed once more than threw an apologetic smile at his friend, “I guess I shouldn’t have had those glasses of juice for breakfast.”


            Legolas shook his head in disbelief, “No, I suppose not but you did and now you must act like the warrior you are and put it aside while we take care of other matters.”


            The human’s jaw dropped and he stared at this friend in amazement, “Put it aside?  Legolas I really don’t know about elves but humans can’t just ignore this when one has to go this badly.  I’ll just squeeze out, use your father’s chamber pot and come right back.”  The ranger started to turn toward the exit when a hand came down on his shoulder, “You can’t leave; they are still out there!”


            The ranger looked deeply into his friend’s eyes, “It will be all right Legolas; I promise.  I’ll be careful and nobody will see me but if I don’t go I’ll disgrace myself in your father’s wardrobe.”


            The sincerity in the ranger’s eyes made the elf relent, “Go then, but be quick about it.”


            “I will, mellon nín, I’ll just step out then join the end of the line when I come back.”  The ranger turned to leave but was again stopped by a hand on his arm, “You can’t just join the end of the line, it’s not allowed.  Terrible things will happen if you don’t come back up here!”


            The ranger shook his head in expiration – this elf had definitely lost his mind but the man decided to humor him for the time being, “All right, all right I’ll come all the way back up here if it will make you happy.”  The elf vigorously nodded his head so the man smiled gently and turned to make his way out.  As soon as he turned around the ranger realized what a difficult undertaking this was going to be – there were elves everywhere!  The ranger took a deep breath and started moving down the line, an action which was studded by, “excuse me’s” and the occasional, “Ouch, watch where your stepping ranger!”  Once the man reached the end of the line he cautiously poked his head out the door and looked around; seeing no one, he exited and headed straight for the small room which contained the chamber pot.  He relieved himself quickly, momentarily thinking that nothing had ever felt quite so good in his life, and then cautiously stuck his head out the refreshing room door to once again survey his surroundings.  This time something was off and the young human ran to the wardrobe, opened the door and practically ran over the line of elves leaving a chorus of “ow’s” and  “Watch where your going’s” behind him.  Despite his best intentions the ranger found himself unable to speak when he reached the front of the line so he just gazed at his friend with panicked eyes.


            Legolas calmly met the frantic gaze of his friend, “Did you see someone?”  The ranger silently shook his head to the negative.  The elf sighed in expiration at the frustrating habits of humans, “Hear someone?”


            The man took a deep breath, “Yes, they are very close”.  The young man’s admission caused every elf in the wardrobe to become as silent as the grave while they focused their senses on the outside world.  The group of elves and one man didn’t have to wait long to learn their fate because moments later the bedchamber door opened with a bang.  All occupants of the wardrobe pulled away from the walls and looked at each other in stunned silence: what was going on out there?  Almost immediately after the door had been flung open there were sounds of running and then a struggle before the wardrobe door was shoved open and a figure rushed inside.  Said figure took a moment to catch his breath then began to do a dance, “I won, I beat you Marir.  The prince smiled broadly when he realized the outcome of the game and he jubilantly announced, “The blue team has stable duty for the next month!”  There was a cheer from the red team and a collective, “oh” from the blue team.   Now that their little game was done the cramped elves started to unfold themselves and make their way to the very welcome exit.


When Elladan finally got out of the wardrobe he stretched and gently rubbed his lower back, “By the Valar I’m glad to be out of there.”


Legolas smirked at the twin, “I thought I was supposed to be the one who is claustrophobic; developing a fear of tight spaces my friend?”


            Elladan glared in the prince’s direction,  “No, Mellon Nín I do not have a fear of small places but rather I have a hatred for the sword hilt which has been imbedded in my back the last few moments.”


            Elrohir narrowed his eyes “What kind of idiot carries a sword while playing a game?”


            “A Mirkwood guard that’s what kind”, a deep and ominous voice responded.


            Both twins immediately turned and came face to face with a less than happy captain of the Mirkwood guard.  The older twin blanched for a moment then smiled meekly, “Oh Gathtur, it was your sword – carry on then.”  The guard silently glared at the group for a moment before turning on his heal and walking away.


            Legolas let out the breath he was holding, “That was close, we could have ended up with day long training sessions for the rest of the week!”


            Aragorn smirked at the prince, “It would have been all your fault Mellon Nín, you invited the guard to join our little game.”


            Legolas glared at his friend, “I didn’t have a choice, I had to do something to keep them out of trouble.”  Sensing a story the ranger raised an eyebrow so the elf continued, “The last time there was a storm the guard couldn’t be sent home so they stayed in the palace and used the dining room as a training ground.”  The blond elf shook his head, “Ada was not too happy to find all the dinner knives embedded in the walls.  So I had to invite them to join the game in order to avoid Ada’s wrath coming down on all of us.”


Elrohir shared a laugh with his brothers and friend then asked, “Now that our game of sardinops* is through what are we to do my prince?”


            Legolas was just opening his mouth to answer when there was a sudden growl beside him.  The prince turned and gave his friend a mock glare for interrupting before busting out laughing, “Well as your brother so eloquently pointed out, it is time for lunch.”  As they were on their way to their chambers Aragorn casually asked, “Legolas, whatever possessed you to choose your father’s wardrobe as a hiding place?”


            Legolas smiled sheepishly then quietly confessed, “I needed to find out the answer to an age old question.”  The other three just looked at him so the prince elaborated, “When I was very young I used to sit on my adar’s bed while he prepared himself for the day.  I was fascinated by his huge wardrobe and often thought that was where he kept the army – because it was so big.”  The other three individuals started to laugh but stopped when an angry glare from the prince was aimed in their direction.  Legolas bravely continued with his tale, “So I had to find out if an army could fit in there.  I guess the answer is no because we only managed to get twenty-eight warriors inside.” 


            Aragorn narrowed his eyes and gazed questioningly at his friend, “But Legolas there were only twenty-seven of us playing the game.”


            Legolas stopped in front of his door and gazed thoughtfully at his friend, “True Estel but your big enough to count as two elves.” 


The blond smirked at the look of shock on his friend’s face and was about to enter his room when Elladan inquired, “How do you think your father will react to the fact that we knocked most of his robes on the floor and the only one left hanging is the pink one?” 


Legolas turned to his friends and was sighing deeply when he heard an irate elf shouting his name.  The prince took a moment to compose himself then replied nonchalantly, “Something like that I suppose.”  He then turned and hurried into his room where he began to gather things and shove them into a knapsack.


            The three brothers from Imladris stood in the door watching the woodland prince hurriedly packing his belongings.  Finally the younger twin innocently asked, “Where are you going mellon?”


            Legolas rushed past them to get some things out of his refreshing chamber, “I believe it is time I join the southern patrols.  I have a feeling the dark lord will be more understanding about our intrusion than ada will be about his clothes.  Are you coming?”


            Elladan was about to act as spokesman for his brothers and inform their friend that although Dol Guldor sounded like fun they thought they would pass when the same voice traveled up the passage, “Elladan, Elrohir, Estel I want to see you in my room NOW!!”  The three brothers visibly blanched and Elladan suddenly changed his tactics, “We weren’t but now I see your point and indeed the southern reaches do sound like the place to be so let us not tarry here.”  After a very hasty packing job four individuals crept silently along the corridors until they finally reached their saving grace of the stables and their mounts.  While the young ones were fleeing for their lives the woodland king was attempting to reconcile himself with the idea of showing up to the midday meal in a pink robe, wondering all the while why he was cursed or rather blessed with a son.



The End





Sardinops – Latin word (no elvish available) for the genus of the Sardine (you know little fish in a can).  Sardines is a game children sometimes play in the US.  The game is sort of the opposite of hide and go seek in that one person hides and the other players seek him or her out.  The hider must choose a place big enough to hold all the players and the last one to find the group is it.


Adar/ada – father/dad

mellon nín – my friend