Blood of a Brother: Dark Glass by Catherine Stafford|
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything from Lord of the Rings (e.g. Characters, Lothlórien, the mirror) nor the reflections from Wanda’s and Rhonda’s chapter of Chain Reaction. I merely borrow them for non-profit-making fun : ).
Summary: A young Elladan and Elrohir visit Lothlórien with their Ada. (Note: the story is mostly from the twins point of view so what the adults don’t tell them the audience doesn’t get told either.)
Rating: PG-13/ T, I guess to be safe though don’t know much about ratings. It has blood and angst in it…
“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away………
………For now we see through the glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known………”
(Bible: Corinthians ch.13)
Elrohir gazed with awe at the huge Mallorn trees that stretched above him. It had been a while since he had seen Lothlórien but the forest was just as he remembered it so far. Enormous, ancient and somehow magical. It had a mystery about it that was difficult to define.
With a jolt Elrohir remembered the contest with his brother. The twins had decided to see if they could spot the Galadhrim guards before they announced their presence or Ada spotted them but Elrohir had totally forgotten to look. Glancing back where his Ada and Elladan had been walking a few minutes ago, Elrohir frowned when he saw only his Ada. The Elfling was still glancing back, wondering where his twin had gotten himself to when he bumped into something in front. Twisting his head round, embarrassed at apparently walking into a tree, Elrohir was surprised when he came face to face with a bow. He gasped. He didn’t think he’d been that unobservant. Slowly however, the Elfing noted that the bow had no arrow notched in it and the person wielding it was on the same eye level as himself. Focussing his eyes on his ‘attacker’, Elrohir frowned again at his brother’s smug grin. “Boo.” Elladan said cheerfully. “Not funny” Elrohir replied testily, though both of them knew he was merely irritated at being caught unawares and being bested by his brother. “I had to do something to wake you up brother” Elladan responded innocently “you wouldn’t have noticed a herd of Wargs stampeding towards you much less a Galadhrim guard! We’ll both have to stay alert to have any hope of spotting them first” he continued determinedly.
Walking a few paces behind the them, Elrond had watched the twins’ antics and smiled amusedly at Elladan’s last comment. Subtly he glanced towards the hidden escort that had shadowed them since the very edge of the woods. He wondered if the twins would notice the guards before they reached their destination. He was curious to find out and also keen that the twins’ continue the task that had kept them occupied for so long.
The twins did not notice the guards’ silent presence during the journey at all and were most disappointed with themselves when Elrond explained how long they had been watched. They had vowed to practice their observational and tracking skills more when they got back home but Elrond was quite sure it wouldn’t be long before they forgot all about such promises. He was right. Soon Elrohir and Elladan were enjoying the feast that Celeborn and Galadriel had arranged and telling their amused Grandparents tales of their many exploits and ‘adventures’ in Imladris. Elladan was just getting to the good part of a story about a trap they had made that had caught something unexpected when someone burst through the doors to the dining room.
“My Lord, My Lady” the senior Galadhrim guard said breathlessly “Many apologies for my interruption but I bring grave and disturbing news from the East” He did not elaborate further in front of the Elflings and other guests. Sensing the guard’s reluctance to speak further, Celeborn and Galadriel pushed back their chairs and stood up. “Very well, we will discuss this elsewhere. Elrond?” Celeborn said, motioning for the other Elf to join them. Elrond stood to follow them but paused to look at the twins. “I do not know how long this will take so when you have finished your pudding go back to the sleeping area where you left your packs. I brought some books that you may read until you are tired but do not wait up for me” he said before he moved after the other Elves.
Elladan and Elrohir were not pleased at being left behind. They wanted to know what was going on, after all they weren’t that young and maybe they could help somehow. They both doubted too, that the books their Ada had brought were the kind they would find very interesting. Elladan sighed. It was also far too early to go to bed. “I vote we stay here as long as possible” he said finally.
Elrohir nodded and then his eyes lit up as he glanced at the delicious pudding they had been eating. “Perhaps we could get seconds?” he suggested.
A short time later the other guards in the party that had returned earlier were eating their meal in the dining room and two pleasantly full Elflings made their way slowly towards the sleeping area. At least, they were making their way in that general direction until several voices piqued their curiosity. Creeping closer, the twins saw Celeborn, Galadriel, Elrond and a few others gathered around something. Elladan gasped when he caught sight of the reflective sheen of water. The mirror. They must be using the special mirror. The one that could tell the past, present and future and the one that their Grandmother had forbade them to go near when they were younger, saying it was not for the use of children. As the twins watched the adults drifted away, speaking in hushed whispers. Elladan continued to stare at the mirror below him. It could tell them what was going on that had the adults so concerned. It was so frustrating being kept out of the loop. Besides they weren’t really children anymore, surely they could look at a little magic water. Glancing at his twin, Elladan saw the same thoughts running through the other Elfling’s mind. Without words they made their way down to the mysterious mirror.
When they reached the bottom the twins came across a new problem. “It’s almost as if Grandmother doesn’t want anyone who’s not adult-height to use the mirror” Elladan commented sarcastically as he looked at the high sides of the mirror which had no step to use. “Yes,” Elrohir agreed “what would she do if a Dwarf or Hobbit needed to use to use it?” Elladan couldn’t help chuckling at the thought of a Dwarf in Lothlórien, never mind anywhere near the precious mirror.
“You can go first” he offered, “I’ll kneel and you stand on my back so you can see”
“Okay, then we’ll swap. We’ll have to be quick and keep a good lookout. Who knows when the meeting might finish.” Elrohir replied anxiously as he stepped gently onto his brother’s back, steadying himself using the rim of the mirror. He carefully poured a little extra water into the partially full dish and watched expectantly as the ripples faded. For a second nothing happened and Elrohir wondered if they’d done something wrong. Then suddenly his reflection was replaced by another face. His Ada. The older Elf was talking to someone and wearing his Serious-Work-Face. It was the same expression he had worn before tonight’s meeting and meant interruption from young Elflings was not appreciated.
Elrohir was growing impatient with this particular apparition when the perspective changed to show the other participants in the conversation. Some he recognised easily, Glorifindel for example, but others were more intriguing. His gaze fell upon two adult elves, almost identical, with long dark hair and he gasped as he realised who they must be. “What is it?” Elladan whispered from below him, sounding very far away. “’Ro’?” Finally Elrohir found his voice. Not taking his eyes off the scene before him he answered “Us. Grown up. And Ada and…” he frowned examining an Elf with long blond hair “…Legolas, I think.” “There’s another Elf I don’t recognise too” Elrohir admitted as he watched his Ada smile warmly at the young stranger. “He seems nice but has messy hair and is a bit chubby too”
“Let me see.” Elladan pleaded, too curious to wait any longer.
“Just a minute more” Elrohir answered absently, distracted as the image abruptly changed to a battlefield. Orc bodies and weapons littered the ground. Elrohir shuddered as he watched the gruesome creatures staring vacantly off into space. “’Ro’?” Elladan questioned, concerned for his brother and frustrated by his inability to see what was happening. “It’s all right. It’s…” Elrohir trailed of as he spotted the beings in the centre of the fighting. “’Dan, you should see this. We’re proper warriors, with proper weapons and everything!” he exclaimed excitedly, forgetting his brother couldn’t look and ignoring the grumbling that his comment caused.
Suddenly, without warning, new images started coming and disappearing at ever increasing rate. Elrohir had a hard time keeping up. Battles, more battles, orcs and wargs, injured elves, Legolas chained to a wall, Elladan lying on ground, eyes closed. Unable to look any more, Elrohir backed away, tripping clumsily off Elladan’s back.
Elladan looked instantly at is brother. “What happened?” he demanded when he noted his brother’s ashen face. Knowing he could never hide anything from his twin, yet unable to say what he’d seen Elrohir settled for a compromise. “People got hurt,” he said simply after a moment “I didn’t see what happened after”. Elladan read what was left unsaid in his twin’s eyes. Gulping slightly, he stared at the stone of the mirror. “I want to see.” he said, impatient enthusiasm replaced by grim determination. Elrohir, knowing better than to argue, sighed as he knelt down before the mirror. Sucking in a deep breath, Elladan stepped up onto his brother’s back, grasped the stone rim and peered into the rippling liquid.
Pain filled eyes greeted him. He watched, too stunned to move, as an older version of his brother fell heavily to his knees, a knife protruding from his body. Rivulets of blood ran over the Elf’s fingers as he tried, futilely, to stem the flow. Elladan’s grip on the stone rim tightened as he noted the origin of blade. Elven. No! It wasn’t possible. No immortal would harm another. Who could even think of such a thing? The frame of the image shifted to the direction which the injured Elrohir gazed in and Elladan gasped shock, staring at an older, but recognisable, reflection of himself.
As Elladan tried to pull away, the image quickly disappeared, leaving the young Elfling uncertain whether he had truly seen what he had thought. It was, after all, rather dark and faces are difficult to recognise when so many years have passed. There was no time to dwell, however, as the water rippled gently to reveal another image. Unable to turn away, Elladan watched as his twin’s blood dripped onto wooden floorboards, soaking deep into the grain. Only it wasn’t Elrohir’s blood this time. It was his own, trickling down his arm from a deep gash too uniform a slice to be from much other than a bladed weapon. Seeking the perpetrator, Elladan froze as a pair of murderous, yet all too familiar, eyes bored into him. He could only stare at the swirling images, as the reflection that was supposedly his brother threw him hard across the room.
Elladan grunted with pain and surprise as his back hit something hard. Opening his eyes, he stared up at the trees which stretched towards the stars overhead. Elrohir’s anxious face suddenly appeared, blocking out the night sky. “You alright?” he asked urgently, hardly waiting for an answer, “They’re coming. We have to go now.” Elladan continued to stare for a second till the sound of voices shook him back to reality. Leaping up, he joined his brother in the race back to the sleeping area.
Elrohir, first to their destination, flung back the covers as Elladan jumped onto the bed sheets fully clothed. Quickly following his twin, Elrohir grimaced at the boot marks they were leaving. Ada would not be happy. Elladan pulled the blankets up to both their necks just as the voices rounded the corner into the sleeping area. Soon, the footsteps accompanying the voices stopped and a brief rustling could be heard.
It was lucky no-one examined the ‘sleeping’ twins too carefully as their heavy breathing would have surely given them away. It was also incredibly hot under all the blankets, especially since they were both still clothed and warm from the desperate sprint. Elladan had to fight the urge to scratch an itch that was developing on his forehead. They weren’t out of the woods yet.
After several minutes, when there was no more sounds other than that of the forest, Elladan dared to open his eyes. His twin gazed back at him with sleepy eyes, grinning with excitement and relief that they had got away with their little adventure. Automatically Elladan grinned back and mouthed “Good night”. Not daring even to whisper, Elrohir nodded back almost imperceptively and closed his eyes.
Elladan watched his twin drift off to sleep. So innocent and trusting. Too trusting. He could never guess that Elladan, his loyal brother, would turn on him. Elladan himself could not fathom it. Was he a danger to Elrohir? Should he leave to keep him safe? Elladan could never imagine, even in his wildest dreams, that he would betray the sacred bond between them, unless…Elladan’s train of thought skipped to the mental image of the older Elrohir’s evil, hate-filled eyes. But Elrohir had such a kind spirit, he was by far the more sensitive and dreamy of the two of them. No, Elrohir could never become evil even if The Dark Lord himself tried to turn him Elladan decided with brotherly pride. Yet, how then could what the mirror had shown be true? For indeed it must be true, as what would be the use of a tool which lied and did not do it’s job?
Elladan spent the next few hours or so, by his estimate anyway, constructing and discarding possible explanations. Nothing seemed to fit. He knew there was some explanation he had failed to consider yet but, he decided reluctantly, it didn’t need to be discovered it tonight. What he had seen could never occur. He could sleep safely with his brother, whose loyalty was beyond question. Yes, things would look different in the morning and everything would be all right.
“’Dan!” Moaning sleepily at being woken so early in the morning, Elladan rolled over and attempted to go back to sleep. “’Dan, wake up! It’s almost time for breakfast and we can’t turn up in yesterday’s clothes” Elrohir continued, trying to roll his twin back towards him. Elladan grunted in response, trying to determine if his brother was playing a joke on him. How could it be so late when he was still so tired? Elladan knew the answer but refused to think about it. As far as he was concerned it never happened. Sighing, he sat up and groggily reached for his pack.
Breakfast was a sombre affair. Celeborn had chosen to leave early, with the a few of the guards from last night and some new ones, to travel to the Eastern borders and see things for himself. It was obvious the adults were deeply concerned about something. Normally, the twins would be listening intently to the hushed discussion to glean any information they could but instead they picked lightly at their food. Elrohir supposed it wouldn’t have made much difference anyway; Ada and Grandmother had a habit of speaking rather cryptically at times. He had always wondered whether they did that on purpose to prevent his brother and himself from hearing about any really exciting grown-up things.
Today the twins’ minds were occupied with their own troubles. Elrohir glanced at his twin sitting next to him, trying not to see the closed-eyes-Elladan from the mirror. Failing miserably, he gave a small shudder and closed his eyes to rid himself of the image. As he did so the constant drone of the adults chatter ceased abruptly. Opening his eyes with surprise, Elrohir was horrified to meet his Ada’s examining glance. Soon all other eyes turned on him as well. Squirming in his seat, he tried to avoid the probing stares. He felt the heat of the gaze as he rearranged the food on his plate. “Elrohir, ion-nin, what is the matter?” Elrond questioned finally, making Elrohir’s heart sink. How on Arda would he get out of this one? “Nothing Ada.” he replied brightly. Watching Elrond’s eyes narrow disbelievingly, Elrohir continued before his Ada could ask any more difficult questions. “Can me and ‘Dan go out into the forest a little ways. We haven’t been here in ages and Grandmother said it was safe to travel in the woods.” Elladan too looked eagerly at his Ada. Exploring the forest was one of the things they had been looking forward to since leaving Imladris. It would certainly be more fun than sitting around here thinking about things he didn’t want to.
Elrond glanced quickly at Galadriel then back at the twins, frowning uneasily. Yes the woods were well protected but he was still loathe to let the twins out of his sight with the current situation as it was. Letting them explore a little would however, keep them busy and out the way for a time. Sighing slightly Elrond gave his permission. “But you must not venture too far and be back before lunch. If you find anything amiss you must return immediately. Do you understand?” Elrond looked firmly at Elrohir and Elladan. It was Elladan who answered him. “Yes Ada, we’ll be careful. And don’t worry I’ll keep ‘Ro’ out of trouble” he said, glancing gleefully at his indignant brother as he pushed back his chair. Elrond watched with amusement as Elrohir gathered up his plate and hurried after his brother, his mouth opening and closing in an attempt at a retort that wouldn’t come. As the door banged closed Elrond’s frown returned however. There was a lot to discuss. He hoped they’d be able to take a stroll around the area while they talked, it had indeed been a long time since he had visited Lothlórien.
As the twins raced up the staircase to the sleeping area Elrohir gently elbowed his twin. “It’s you who gets into the most trouble, ‘Dan” he muttered huffily.
“Is not” Elladan replied elbowing his brother back, “Everyone knows you’re the clumsy one” he teased as he sprinted ahead, out of reach of a growling Elrohir.
Reaching the sleeping area first, Elladan gathered up is bow and waterskin. The twins weren’t allowed to use real arrows unsupervised but carried their small bows whenever they went exploring. Elrohir arrived soon after his brother and gathered up his own bow and two lengths of Elven rope. Perhaps if they found a suitable tree they could tie them to a branch and build a swing to play on.
Glancing at his and Elladan’s half empty packs, Elrohir sighed. Sorting them out to bring them would take too long; they only had till lunchtime after all. Besides having all that weight on their backs would make it more difficult to balance in the trees. Apparently Elladan had come to the same conclusion and was now waiting impatiently at the top of the staircase. The decision was made.
Eager to use ever minute of their limited exploring time, the twins rushed back past the dining hall and towards the less inhabited areas of the woods. A glint in one of the rooms near the dining room caught Elrohir’s eye however, and the young Elf slowed to a stop. The glint was from a dagger. Presumably it belonged to one of the guards that had returned last night, abandoned when they had entered the dining hall. Weapons were not permitted to be worn during meal times, as the twins had found out when they were younger and had tried to enter the hall with their bows.
Elrohir carefully picked up the shiny dagger, gazing in awe at the intricate carvings. “Look ‘Dan. Aren’t these amazing?” he exclaimed as he heard is brother walk up behind him. Slowly an idea formed in his mind. If things were as dangerous as Ada seemed to think, wouldn’t it be prudent to have something to defend themselves with? Reaching for another dagger, Elrohir held the one he already had out to his brother. He was surprised when Elladan didn’t take it immediately but merely stared at it. “Don’t worry ‘Dan. I’m sure the guards wouldn’t mind; it’s their job to protect everyone after all.” Elrohir encouraged, guessing at what might be bothering Elladan.
Elladan glanced at his twin then quickly took the dagger. He couldn’t let Elrohir guess the real reason he hesitated. He examined the well-crafted blade while Elrohir fashioned belts from the rope he’d brought. The blade was so shiny he could see his reflection in the gleaming surface. Looking sharply away he tried to pay attention to what his brother was saying. “S’pose this means we won’t be making any swings today” Elrohir sighed, trying to make a loop in the belt for the dagger to sit in.
“There’s always tomorrow” Elladan shrugged, “Anyway, it would be better to do that when we’re stuck here and not allowed to go exploring.”
“You’re right. We should see how far we can go before we have to turn back” Elrohir agreed, as he started constructing Elladan’s ‘belt’. As soon as that was done they started off again and began climbing the nearest scalable tree, both happily chattering about anything and everything, as long as it didn’t involve last night’s events.
“Wait up, ‘Dan” Elrohir pleaded as scrambled along a particularly narrow branch.
“Okay ‘Ro’, I’ll let you catch up…if you admit my way was better” Elladan answered back as he negotiated a path through the twigs and small branches that insisted on tangling on his clothes. He was glad he didn’t have his cloak; that would have made things infinitely more difficult. “Never” came the stubborn reply that Elladan knew was coming. “You were just lucky, that’s all.” Smirking, Elladan remembered his brother’s adamant assertion that he knew the best way to get across the large gap they had encountered a few minutes ago. It had been too wide for any Elfling to jump across, (well except maybe Legolas, but he spent all his time in trees) so the twins had been discussing the different ways around it. Unable to reach a consensus they had agreed to race each other to the other side. That and a particularly wobbly bough in Elrohir’s route were the cause of Elladan’s current lead. “Wasn’t luck” Elladan countered, “maybe I’m just better at tree-climbing as well as sneaking” he joked, grinning at the growl the comment elicited. “You are not and I’ll prove it you arrogant…” came Elrohir’s amused yet determined reply, as he increased his pace to catch up to his twin. Elladan chuckled as he speeded up, keen not to lose his lead and the challenge.
After a few minutes, Elladan realised he could no longer hear Elrohir’s footfalls behind him. Stopping, he glanced back the way they had come. There was no sign of his brother. “’Ro’?” he questioned. There was no answer so he tried again, louder this time “’Ro’!” Still nothing. Elladan was beginning to get worried. What if his brother had fallen? What if whatever Ada was worried about had got him? Elladan started rushing back along the way he had come, looking for any clues as to what might have befallen his brother. This proved difficult as there were no easy footprints to follow and any trail signs that could be found might not be his brother’s.
Finally, Elladan reached the large gap they had raced across. Surely his brother could not be any further back. The only place left to search now was the ground. This was where Elladan had been dreading searching. He was worried about what he might find since it was quite a long drop. Taking a deep breath he reached out to one of the overhanging branches to act as a handhold on the way down.
Just as he grasped the bough there was a rustling sound behind him. Spinning round quickly, Elladan’s eyes went wide at the sight before him. It was Elrohir, grinning, his bow drawn and pointing at where Elladan was standing. “See. I sneaked up to you and got in the lead.” Elrohir was saying. Elladan however, didn’t hear any of this. He was too busy gaping at the bow and remembering the pair of dark, hateful eyes from the mirror. Slowly he stepped away from the apparition that appeared to be becoming true. His foot met only air. Frantically Elladan wind-milled his arms, trying desperately to regain his balance. It was futile. He watched as his twin’s now horror-stricken face disappeared from view.
“’Rrrrrooooo-‘!” The terrified cry resounded in Elrohir’s ears as he half slid, half climbed down the massive tree after is brother. It wasn’t the cry itself that frightened Elrohir the most. It was the way it suddenly stopped.
After what seemed like an eternity and many scrapped arms and legs, Elrohir reached the bottom. He was rewarded with a pair of familiar eyes staring dumbly at him. Elladan was lying partly on his side in pile of squelchy mud. Evidently he’d managed to turn during the fall. Elrohir had never been so pleased to see dirty mud. He paid no heed to how it covered his clothes and stung his grazed knees as he knelt down beside his brother.
“’Dan. Are you alright? Does it hurt anywhere?” Elrohir asked, trying to remember the basic healing lessons his Ada had given them. Elladan blinked and creased his brow in thought. Finally he shook his head, still wearing a stunned look. Elrohir breathed a sigh of relief. “Do you think you can sit up?” he asked tentatively. Elladan nodded absently and began to move slowly. He hadn’t got very far when a lightning bolt of pain raced through him. Tensing is body and screwing his eyes shut he waited for the agony to subside.
Elrohir’s stomach clenched as he watched his brother go rigid. He had thought they’d been lucky this time. Urgently he looked his brother up and down for injuries. It was difficult task with all the mud. Eventually he came across a patch of mud on Elladan’s thigh which was stained differently to the rest.
The wound appeared to be on the part of the thigh facing the ground so Elrohir would have to move Elladan’s leg over to gain access. Gulping slightly at the pain that would likely to cause, Elrohir removed his shirt and rolled it up to use as a makeshift bandage. All the proper bandages were in the packs they’d left behind and his shirt was the only cloth he had that wasn’t saturated with mud. Not that it would matter that much if the wound had been sitting in the mud all this time. Glancing back to Elladan’s face, Elrohir noticed his brother’s pale, clammy skin and his eyes tightly closed. “’Dan” Elrohir said gently, trying to keep his voice trembling with fear for his brother, “Dan, I’m going to have to turn you over to look at your leg.” Elladan’s eyes snapped open to stare fearfully at his twin. Slowly he nodded resignedly and closed his eyes again as a single teardrop ran down his cheek and off sideways into the mud. Sucking in a ragged breath Elrohir turned back to Elladan’s thigh. Blinking to clear his watery vision, he circled round to the other side of his brother and placed trembling hands on his brother’s leg knee and shoulder for leverage. “One, two, three…”
One three, Elrohir rolled Elladan over so he was facing him again. The tortured scream that his brother gave made Elrohir wince but he didn’t dare stop. A bloody Elven dagger clattered against Elladan’s leg, still fastened in the makeshift belt. No! Elrohir had thought the blood had been from a sharp rock, not a blade that could cut so deep. He’d forgotten about the daggers he’d ‘borrowed’ and given to his reluctant brother. There was no time for guilt though, as blood bubbled up through the hole the knife had left. Elrohir quickly removed the dagger from Elladan’s ‘belt’ and stashed it out of the way, in his own. He retrieved his rolled-up shirt and wrapped it firmly around the wound, tying it tightly with the sleeve ends. Making sure the wound was clean could wait till they got back to Ada, which was the next big task. Elrohir knew he wouldn’t be able to carry his brother’s weight on his front as the adults often carried wounded. He wasn’t strong enough. There was no choice except to carry him on his back. That decided, Elrohir turned to look at his brother.
Elladan’s eyes were still closed but not squeezed shut anymore. His pale face was serene as he lay completely limp in the mud, exactly like in the mirror. Elrohir scuttled back, trying to rid himself of this apparition like he’d done before. It didn’t work. But the Elladan in the mirror was much older, Elrohir argued with himself, That means he has to live. Moving forward with that new hope, Elrohir crouched next to his brother and pulled the other Elfling’s arms over his shoulders.
With great effort Elrohir managed to stand. He had to bend double to keep Elladan’s feet off the ground. Determinedly the young elf started trudging, or rather staggering, in the general direction that they had come from. He’d reasoned it would be best to wait till he got a bit closer before starting to shout for help. No-one would hear this far out and if he started now he wouldn’t have any voice left by the time it was of any use.
Elrohir couldn’t guess how long he’d been walking when his voice became hoarse. It felt like his throat was on fire. His scratchy yells were less frequent now as he struggled to gulp in enough air to sustain his forward movement. He hadn’t expected the trek back to take so long and prayed that he was heading in the right direction. It was difficult to tell when bent over and walking a different path along the ground instead of the way they had come through the trees. His steps had become more clumsy with time and he cursed the tree roots that seemed perfectly placed to trip him up.
Catching his foot on a particularly knotted root, Elrohir pitched forward, propelled by the extra weight of Elladan. He cried out as the ankle of his trapped leg was yanked viciously in a way it wasn’t supposed to. However, the cry was cut short as, unable to use his hands to stop the impact, Elrohir fell flat on his front, his brother’s weight driving out any remaining air from his lungs. For several moments he could do nothing but gasp desperately for oxygen.
Once he was able to think clearly again Elrohir attempted to free his foot and relieve the pressure still being placed on his ankle. He tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a sob at the pain the movement caused. This was going to be a problem.
Still holding onto Elladan’s arms with one hand, he used the other to push himself carefully back onto his knees. He knew it was time for him to shout again but was wheezing too much to manage it. For a few minutes he knelt, sucking in deep breaths. Finally, he had enough air to yell again. “Ad…aaaa!” His shout came out more like a pained shriek, his voice breaking in the middle of the word and degenerating into choking coughs towards the end as his parched throat objected strenuously to the mistreatment.
Elrond felt the leaves crunch crisply beneath his feet as spoke quietly to Galadriel and a few other trusted Elves. It was good to hear the natural sound and not have need to travel silently. The Elf-Lord was stating, although most knew anyway, the likely costs of the option they were considering. He stopped, however, in mid-sentence as he heard what sounded like a distressed yell. The sound was at the limit of even his Elven hearing and he could not discern any words. He thought he had heard a faint scream a few minutes ago but had dismissed it as being due to his on edge mood and forest creatures. Now he was not so sure. Turning to Galadriel he saw she had also heard something. Without words, they darted in the direction of the sound, the other Elves trailing after.
Using the trunk of the tree whose root had caused the problem, Elrohir pushed himself up with his good leg. He had to keep going. His Ada couldn’t be far now. At least, he shouldn’t be if Elrohir was heading the right direction…
Banishing the nagging fear that he was lost, Elrohir braced himself as he prepared to hobble, or rather hop, to the next trunk which stood but a few feet away. Pushing off firmly, he tried to use Elladan’s weight to increase his forward momentum. The tree seemed incredibly far away as Elrohir barrelled headlong towards it, extending one arm in readiness. But the trunk tilted away from him. Elrohir tumbled sideways as the weight on his back overbalanced him. He landed unceremoniously, and painfully, just out of reach of his goal. Elladan was flung a short distance away from him.
Rolling over slowly, Elrohir sobbed with frustration and despair. This is never going to work! Crawling over to his brother, he noted with relief that at least the stain on the makeshift bandage wasn’t expanding any more. That’s something at least. But it won’t mean a thing if he doesn’t get help. “AD…AAA!” Elrohir screamed again with all his might. Being heard was their only hope now, and it seemed a slim hope at that. He was probably lost, miles from anyone. And yet…Elrohir was sure he could hear voices. They were probably only the wind or his desperate hallucinations but Elrohir felt compelled to answer them. His excitement grew as the voices grew more distinct. His Ada. He could hear his Ada.
“Ada, Ada, Ada, Ada!” the voice was calling frantically. By now Elrond was sure it was one of the twins’ but he couldn’t tell which one. The voice was so raspy it was difficult to even make out the words. “I’m coming, ion-nin, I’m coming!” he shouted back as he sprinted towards the yells.
Finally Elrond broke though the last of the foliage that separated him from his sons. His steps faltered as he took in the state that they were in. A very muddy and battered-looking Elrohir was knelt over the equally muddy and ominously still form of his brother. “Sweet Elbereth!” Elrond exclaimed under his breath before dashing to where Elladan lay. He feared the worst and thanked the Valar when he saw the child still drew breath. Hurriedly he checked the Elfling for injuries other than the obvious one and then started examining that. “Are you hurt?” he asked Elrohir, not taking his eyes off Elladan. Elrohir hesitated, then croaked out a negative. He wasn’t going to distract his Ada for a mere twisted ankle. Just then Galadriel came sprinting through the trees, her dress hindering her steps somewhat. Elrohir gaped at her in surprise. He’d never seen his Grandmother sprint anywhere, ever.
Galadriel sank down next to Elrond and glanced down at Elladan before fixing her penetrating gaze on Elrohir. “What happened tithen pen? Were you attacked?” she asked gently. The situation was dire indeed if evil forces had made it this far into Lothlórien. Elrohir shook his head mournfully and glanced off to the side, unable to return his Grandmother’s gaze. “Was accident” he whispered brokenly. “Fell… landed on…on this” he finished gesturing to the bloody dagger still tied to his waist. Galadriel’s eyes widened when she saw the glint of the razor sharp Galadhrim blades. Where in Arda had they got them from? She frowned and opened her mouth to ask just that but stopped. That could wait till later. Instead, she crossed around Elladan to kneel next to Elrohir, who sat with his head bowed, tears running silently down his face. Pulling her Grandson gently towards her, Galadriel whispered soft reassurances in the distressed Elfling’s ear. Elrohir sagged against her shoulder exhaustedly as she stroked his mud-matted hair. Ada was here. Everything would be alright.
“I think he’ll be alright” Elrond breathed with relief “we’ll have to get him back to the healing rooms so I can get a better look and clean it up but…” Galadriel nodded. “You carry him and I’ll take Elrohir” she said as she removed the daggers from Elrohir’s waist and held them out to one of the Elves that had hung back out of the way. Elrond glanced thankfully at her then started off with Elladan cradled in his arms. Galadriel carefully gathered her own weary charge into her arms and started after the already receding form of Elrond and Elladan.
The bed was so warm and comfortable Elrohir was loathe to leave it but voices from the corridor signalled that he must have slept in. Sighing, he rolled over to see if Elladan was awake yet, but his twin wasn’t there. Sitting bolt upright, Elrohir noted he wasn’t their sleeping area but the healing wing. “’Dan?” he tried to say as he flung back the bed covers, the word coming out as a croaked whisper. There was no answer. He had to find his brother.
Elrohir slipped off the bed to go search but immediately sat back down again hissing with pain. He’d forgotten about his ankle. Once the throbbing had died down somewhat, Elrohir placed his good foot on the floor again and, using the bed and wall as support, hopped to the door. The corridor was thankfully quiet for the time being so at least he wouldn’t be chastised for hobbling around without being told he could. Elrohir began to hop along the corridor, peeking quickly in the open rooms. He had never thought he would be grateful that he was already familiar with the layout of the healing rooms from previous visits to Lothlórien.
Elrond was sitting in the third room Elrohir looked in. When the young Elf spotted his Ada he hastily retreated back around the door frame into the corridor and waited for the inevitable. There was no way the older Elf could have not seen him. He would surely be scolded for sneaking around and for keeping his ankle a secret. There was, however, no sound from inside the room and after a moment Elrohir risked another peek.
Still his Ada didn’t move. A book lay open on his lap but Elrond merely stared off into space. He must be asleep. Elrohir realised with relief. Hopping further into the room he spotted who he’d been looking for. Elladan lay facing away from him on a bed near the far end of the room. Elrohir crept towards his brother as quietly as he possibly could, which wasn’t very quiet at all considering he had to hop.
Sitting on the edge of his twin’s bed, Elrohir looked at the still rather pale face which now sported a dark coloured bruise on one cheekbone. Elrohir wondered guiltily if the bruise was from the original fall or when Elladan had been thrown from his back. Suddenly, the previously still face turned towards Elrohir, making him almost fall of his perch on the bed in surprise. “Boo” Elladan said, smiling weakly.
“Not funny” Elrohir retorted raspily, recovering himself. He could not however, hide his delight at seeing his brother awake again. “I was worried” he whispered. “I thought…” he stopped, a guilty expression crossing his face.
“Don’t.” Elladan pleaded, looking briefly away from his twin. “It wasn’t your fault. If anything…” He didn’t finish that sentence but instead turned back to Elrohir. “I couldn’t bear it if you were to blame yourself” he whispered. Elrohir was about to reply when sound from across the room caught both twins’ attentions.
Elrond didn’t know how long he’d been dosing when he was finally jolted awake by his book falling on the floor. Reaching down to retrieve it, he glanced towards Elladan’s bed and blinked as two pairs of eyes stared back at him. So they were both awake then, and Elrohir had somehow found his way here without any of the healers noticing. I should have known. He thought, chuckling at Elrohir’s slightly panicked look. “Good to see you’re both back with us… if not where you’re supposed to be” he said, smiling at Elrohir. “Are either of you hungry? Your Grandmother had some supper brought up a little while ago in case you awakened.” At the nods he received, Elrond headed over to the two trays that lay on a table beside the door. Evidently whoever had brought the food had reasoned the twins were unlikely to remain separated. Glancing at the tall delicate glasses balanced atop the trays, Elrond considered whether to risk trying to carry everything himself. Just carrying a couple of trays was a relatively easy task for an Elf but Elrond still held the book he had been reading too. Since Elrohir was obviously well enough to wander around unauthorised, the Elfling might as well make himself useful. “Elrohir, give me a hand with the trays will you?” Elrond asked, as he pushed the crockery further onto the tray and tucked his book under his arm.
“Yes Ada” Elrohir said hoarsely but then hesitated. How could he possibly hide his ankle from his Ada now? Maybe if he walked very gently on it, it would be okay. Ada might not notice if his back was turned. Elrohir slipped off his brother’s bed onto his good leg and took a small tentative step forward on his bad one. Only the tiniest of gasps escaped his lips but it was enough. Elrond whirled round, wondering which twin had uttered the sound and what was the matter. His eyes centred in on Elrohir’s too-innocent expression and the way the Elfling stood somewhat awkwardly merely a step away from where he had been sitting. “Elrohir, ion-nin, what is the matter with your leg?” Elrohir continued to stare innocently back at him.
“Nothing Ada. I’m just stiff” he replied quietly.
“Elrohir…” Elrond warned, narrowing his eyes. He didn’t believe a word of it.
Elrohir sighed in defeat and sank back onto the edge of the bed gratefully. Briefly he explained what had happened as Elrond gently removed his boot. While they’d been asleep the twins’ cuts had been cleaned, and bandaged where necessary, but their boots and dirty clothes had been left alone to avoid disturbing them too much. Elrohir had after all said he was unhurt. Elrond vowed he would never again to listen to such claims from young Elves as he probed the tender ankle. “I don’t think you’ve broken anything at least” Elrond said as he stood up from the painful kneeling position he had occupied on the floor. “Why don’t you have something to eat while I make something take the swelling down and sooth it a bit?” Elrond fetched both trays, with some stew for Elladan and soup for Elrohir, over to the bed. “We heard how raspy your voice was earlier and thought you might appreciate something without lumps in to swallow” he commented to Elrohir as he set the soup down.
“You really thought you’d get away with that?” Elladan asked incredulously when Elrond went into the room across the corridor. He pushed himself up in the bed to look at his brother and reach for the stew. “Not really” Elrohir admitted, “but I had to try”. He frowned at the chuckle Elladan gave in response to that comment. “Hey, I’m not the one who decided to go falling out of trees! Wait till Legolas hears about -”
“Legolas won’t hear about any Elves falling out of trees” Elladan interrupted confidently. “Or if he does he’ll also hear about Elves who can’t watch where they’re walking and have to have their food mushed like a baby Elfling” he finished, grinning somewhat menacingly at his brother. “Mmm” Elrohir whispered thoughtfully, “maybe it’s best if we leave this whole thing out of whatever we tell Legolas and Arwen.”
It was some weeks later when the twins said goodbye to their Grandmother and Lothlórien. Celeborn was still away near the border but was due to return soon. The twins were disappointed to leave after so little time exploring the woods, partly due to their injuries and partly as punishment for the ‘borrowing’ of the daggers. “I hope we’ll be able to visit again soon” Elrohir said longingly as hugged Galadriel. “As do I tithen pen, although I hope things go better next time. Maybe there will be a chance for you to visit again soon or maybe it will take a little longer. Whichever, Lothlórien and I will still be here for a long time yet. There is no rush” she replied.
It was Elladan’s turn for a goodbye hug next “Why don’t you use your mirror to find out when we will come?” he asked curiously. Both twins had spoken to each other of what they had seen and Elladan had long ago accepted that what he had seen was not really going to happen but he was still curious about the mirror. Galadriel sighed. “The mirror is a dangerous guide tithen pen. It can show the viewer only certain truths that can mislead or it can even show futures that will not occur unless the viewer is influenced by what he or she sees. The mirror is a useful tool but should not be trusted.”
“Oh” Elladan said. “That’s…interesting” He had been going to say “good” but stopped himself. He had proof now of what he had known all along – neither he nor his brother would ever, ever harm each other. Galadriel was slightly puzzled by the Elfling’s reaction but didn’t dwell on it as Elladan gave her a last squeeze before picking up his pack. She smiled as Elrond and the now grinning twins waved goodbye. Everything was right with the world once again.