I Heard Cracks

Harune hummed a tune as he smoothed the piles of snowy linens over the shelf of the cupboard. He looked up from his work as he heard a shriek and a crash from down the hall and dropped his arms with a small sigh.

His son, Landion, charged down the hall, his green robe and black hair flying behind him and, as he tore past, he pointed behind him and yelled, “Legolas did it!”

Legolas ran after him, yelling, “I did not! You pushed me!”

Harune let his eyes follow after the elflings before he pushed the closet door close and went to inspect the reason for the loud crash, collecting a broom on his way. The small table lay overturned with its chief ornament, an enameled vase, shattered to pieces across the floor.

Harune stared at the wreckage for a long moment before he added it to the list of damaged property, wondered why elflings were so terribly inclined to break things, and cleared away the mess.

And later that day . . .

Thranduil stared over the top of his desk at Legolas and Landion, cringing in the throes of about-to-be delivered justice. He looked at the list stretching over the top of his desk and pooling in folds on the floor and folded his hands before him, keeping an impassive and thoroughly evil gaze on the two offenders.

“This list,” he said. “Is amazingly and shockingly long. It is a list of things you have both broken in the last two weeks.”

Legolas and Landion exchanged wide-eyed glances.

Thranduil rose out of his chair. “Now, I wonder how all these things could be breaking if you two were engaging in your rough play outside, as I told you to seventeen days ago.”

“Perhaps it was the guards?” Legolas suggested, with a wide grin. His smile faded as Thranduil frowned at him and realized his humor was not appreciated.

“We forgot,” Landion said, his shoulders slumping. “About having to play outside, that is.”

“It is easy to forget,” Thranduil agreed.

Landion looked up hopefully. “So we are forgiven?”

“That depends,” Thranduil said, fingering the list in his hands. “Since you cannot seem to remember not to play outside where all you can break are sticks and bones, you will have to stay apart for a while. Landion, your father will undoubtedly have plenty of chores he needs done. Legolas, my office needs cleaning!”

“Oh, but, ada, I can help Harune to,” Legolas began.

Thranduil escorted Landion to the door of his office and shut it. “I am afraid the point of this punishment is to keep you apart in order to put a halt to the wreckage you have both ensued for long enough. To work.”

“Yes, sir, your majesty, sir,” Legolas grumbled, and went to retrieve some dusters.

Thranduil collected some essential files from his desk and left the room to leave Legolas to his work. as he stepped out of the door, he added, “You will not be able to finish in one day; clean for an hour and come out. But you are not allowed to see Landion!”

“But if I only do an hour a day, it will take me days to finish!” Legolas said, looking around in dismay. “Each bookcase takes forever to clean! It will take me weeks!”

“Seventeen days, exactly,” Thranduil agreed. “Precisely the amount of time you and Landion disobeyed Harune and I’s wishes.”

“You cannot stop me from seeing Landion when I am done!” Legolas declared.

“I can lock you in your room!” Thranduil replied, and slammed the door.

Legolas frowned at the piece of wood. He knew it would not be as bad as the tone of Thranduil’s threat made it out but the time for arguing was over. He dragged himself and a chair toward the first of the big bookcases lining three of the walls. Climbing up onto the chair, he emptied the top row of its books and sat down on the floor to dust each one off.

He had finished half of the first bookcase when the door opened and Thranduil came in. “It has been an hour; you may go.”

Legolas slid the last book into place and slumped out of the office, wondering where Harune was keeping Landion. After a moment, he draped his duster over the top of the stair railing and skipped away to find another one of his friends down at the archery fields. Ada had not said anything about not seeing them!


Thranduil stretched his feet out to the warm blaze of the fire and sighed, leaning back in his chair.

“I do not know what I will do with them!” he said, taking in a long sip of wine.

“It is unlikely they will survive alone for seventeen days,” Harune answered.

“I doubt they will wither up and die. It is a misfortune we both live in the same palace. Most unfortunate indeed,” Thranduil lamented.

Harune refilled his wine cup from the bottle. “If nothing else, seventeen days without a wrestle or broken cup will, at least, perk up their memories.”

Thranduil sighed again. Then he grinned. “Quite. And, if we are forced to invoke desperate measures, there are always the dungeons!”

“It worked on you,” Harune said, closing his eyes.

“I could use a vacation,” Thranduil said, slumping in his seat.


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