Written for Oshun for the Yule fiction exchange
Request: A post-LotR story involving Elladan and Elrohir choosing to go to Valinor
Elladan was on the floor of an open porch, sitting with his back against an ancient pillar and enjoying the last of the late autumn sun. In reality it offered little warmth but it was a change at least from the eternal drizzle they had suffered for the past week. Everything looked wet and bedraggled, especially the drifts of fallen leaves. Someone had tried to sweep them together, but with only middling success before giving up and leaving them in untidy heaps beside the path. Rivendell was starting to look old and neglected, but he supposed that was only to be expected. The water dropped down rapids a short distance back and due to a formation of rocks and the habit of the current, left a deep calm pool only accessed by clambering under branches and over rocks. It was a scramble, but worth it. The water rippled along smoothly, circulating around a spine of rock, willows hung heavy and low, and the air smelt green and fresh. There was always a warm rock to relax on, birds to listen to. Peace. No angry voices, no arguments, no having to hear his own voice repeat the same instruction over and over and over again…. He cleared his throat, as much to shake back the memory of that pain as anything else, the pain underlined by the kind words and faces when he came back home that implied, ‘But she would have been gone soon enough, anyway, and we would have lost you as well. Better like this.’
Idly he watched a pair of elves giving final attention to a small cart, almost ready to start on the road to the Havens. Out the corner of his eye he saw movement that resolved itself into the golden haired, straight backed figure of Glorfindel, carrying an ornate wooden box. He reached the cart and handed it over. There were a few demurrals – he could imagine them trying to be diplomatic while telling the ancient warrior lord that there was really no more space, and Glorfindel telling them to make space – then they took the box and started moving things around.
Glorfindel stood back and shaded his eyes, his attention on something just out of Elladan’s line of vision. Then, as though he knew he was being watched, which was quite likely, he turned, spotted Elladan, and raised a hand in greeting. Elladan returned the gesture. At that moment the person Glorfindel had been watching came into view. It was Elrohir with the dog and one of the children, the youngest. The dog was trotting determinedly after Glorfindel – dogs loved him, for some reason – followed by the child, with Elrohir taking up the rear. Knowing he was trapped, Elladan resigned himself and waited.
Glorfindel reached him first and sat down against the next pillar with a grunt. “It never seems to end,” he said conversationally. “As soon as one space is cleared, someone always finds things that were overlooked and simply have to be taken along.”
“Not cataloguing and packaging the wine cellar, are you?” Elladan asked. “I heard talk of that just before Grandfather left to visit with Thranduil. I thought he might not have taken a good look in there.”
“Erestor put Celeborn right,” Glorfindel said with a grin. “He told him exactly how many bottles and how much onboard storage that would need – several ships, just for wine.”
“He’d counted them?” Elladan asked in disbelief.
Glorfindel shook his head, sun catching random strands of hair and turning them molten. “Oh no, he just thumb sucked a figure, but it works when you sound as if you know what you’re doing. And he’s very good at that.”
The dog came to a stop in front of him, panting wide-mouthed and cheerful, tail wagging. Glorfindel reached a casual hand to tug on an ear. “Sit, you,” he said. The dog thought about it, then sat.
The child followed and stood next to the dog, waiting for her father. They were about the same height. Elrohir reached them and scooped the child up, then sat with her in his lap. “They’re not happy down there,” he told Glorfindel. “Apparently their cart’s unbalanced now, thanks to you.” Only then did he glance at his twin and say, “I was looking for you. Why are you hiding out here?”
“Then they need to balance it,” Glorfindel said with great equanimity, leaning back and stretching out his legs. The dog lay down, nose against his boot.
“I’m not hiding. Just wanted some sun after all that rain.”
“Are you the same person who wanted to stay on here, foul winter weather and all?” Elrohir said it lightly, but there was something hard and hurt under the words that twisted Elladan’s heart a little more each time he heard it.
“Not the time and place for this, brother,” he said more sharply than he’d intended. “Let’s just enjoy the end of the afternoon, why can’t we?”
“And then there’ll be something you have to do, or someone you have to see, or some errand only you can carry out for Gildor…”
“I do not carry out errands for Gildor,” Elladan said with great dignity. “I sometimes do him favours, that’s all.”
“Best not let him hear you say that,” Glorfindel said wryly. “He’s got a bit high handed from having to shepherd all those independent-minded wanderers down to the Havens and point them at boats.”
“You haven’t started packing yet, have you?” Elrohir asked directly, not prepared this time to be deterred or sidetracked.
Glorfindel sighed and got up. “Come on,” he said, picking the child up from Elrohir’s lap. “Let’s see what your mother’s doing, shall we? And pass through the kitchen on our way – they’re baking, I heard.”
The brothers watched him stride off without a backward glance, the child carried on his crooked arm, the dog at his heels. Finally Elrohir said, “Well, that’s one way of telling us to talk, I suppose.”
Elladan fought down the tension that stirred each time he sensed he was being pushed into a corner over this. “Rohir, there’s nothing to talk about. This is my choice, mine and Becca’s. If I need advice, I’ll ask for it.”
Elrohir frowned at him but this time, unlike in past discussions, he kept the quick flame of his temper under control. “You have to decide if you’re sailing West with us or staying behind, alone. There’s only a month left, but you don’t talk to anyone about it, you don’t pack, and you act as though I’m hounding you when I ask the very reasonable question – are we to be separated for eternity like Father and the uncle we never knew, like Wen….?”
Elrohir did not like to talk about Arwen. Erestor could say all he liked about wood-elves comforting her last days in the now-haunted place that had once been their grandparents home, but it sounded unlikely, a comforting pastiche, and Elladan knew all his twin could see was an ending and a sister lost forever. He reached over to put a hand on his brother’s arm. “It was what she wanted, how she wanted it,” he said quietly, the tension between them momentarily forgotten. “That’s the part you always overlook. It was choice, and one she made for love. In the end we all have our reasons and we have to honour them.”
Elrohir pulled away. “Oh, for love?” he said roughly, trying and failing to hide the catch in his voice. “What love is that? It’s enough Father had to go across without us – there was work to do here and we needed to see to it for him and be here for Wen while she still needed us. But he’s expecting us both to get off the boat on the other side. What do you think he’s told Mother? He’s already had to explain why Wen won’t be coming….”
“Don’t try and guilt me, Roh.”
“I don’t have to. If you weren’t guilty you wouldn’t be avoiding me.”
“I’m not avoiding you because of guilt.” Elladan couldn’t help it, his voice was rising. “I’m avoiding you because you plain refuse to understand that I need to work this out on my own.”
Elrohir looked stunned. “That’s nonsense! If you don’t believe me, ask Maldis. She knows how hard I’ve tried to get through to you.”
“There you go again. And that sums it up perfectly. You’re not trying to understand. You’re trying to get through to me.”
“I’m trying to make you see sense. You no longer have a reason to stay. Damn it, I’m trying to save your life!”
Elladan got to his feet and Elrohir rose as well. They stood barely arm’s length apart, glowering at each other. Elladan eventually shifted his gaze away and blew out a heavy breath. “Look,” he said more calmly. “I know you’re trying to help me see things the way you think is right. But you don’t understand, Roh. You can’t. There you are, your perfect life – a wife you love, three children. And all of it later in life, when you’d almost stopped looking for it. Whereas I…”
“Whereas the love of your life was mortal and lies under the green grass with the kin that have gone before her,” Elrohir said gently. “As much as it hurt, I respected your reasons for wanting to stay before, while she still lived. And I do understand that this was her land and when you leave it, you leave the places you’ve shared, the memories you’ve made together. But the best and brightest of those memories, you will take with you.”
Elladan looked at his twin, into those clear grey eyes, the image of the ones he saw when he looked in a good mirror, one of those nice ones that came these days from Ithilien of all places. Who’d have thought they’d take to manufacturing as well as agriculture there. Dwarf influence, making wood-elves act like Noldor. “Roh,” he said quietly. “That’s just the thing. It’s not like packing up a possession. In the end, this isn’t really my decision. It’s Becca’s.”
In three weeks they were due to leave Rivendell for good, and after a long, busy day filled with irritations, Erestor needed some peace. He took a path little-used even in the days of Rivendell’s glory, that bypassed the popular spots along the river and came out near a pool that some residents only found after centuries in the house.
There was someone sitting on his favourite rock, an adolescent girl with long dark hair, back turned to him, her legs drawn up and clasped by the circle of her arms. She was staring down the river towards the edge of the waterfall, unaware she was no longer alone. He stood watching her for a minute or two while the sounds of rushing water and untroubled birdsong wrapped him around, remembering other visits to this spot and finding that same rock occupied by a girl very like this one...
He knew of course that she wasn’t Arwen. Sometimes though she looked just like her from behind and a little about the face too, in the shape of her eyes and those same high cheekbones that all Elrond’s offspring had inherited from him. The likeness had been there from the first time he saw her, when Elladan finally came home after his wife’s death, bringing with him haunted eyes, a dozen years of bittersweet memories, and a tiny, half-elven girl child.
He roused himself from the memory and shook off the sadness that always came with it. Elladan had been so much in love… “Hello Becca,” he said, raising his voice slightly above the water. “You seem to have found my rock.”
She started a little and turned, hair sliding back over her shoulder. The illusion of Arwen lasted another moment and then faded. She started to get up. “I’m sorry Erestor, I never realized…”
He laughed and gestured for her to sit, making his way over to settle beside her. “I was teasing, child. Plenty of space for two. It’s just a favourite place of mine, that’s all. I come here when I want a little calm in my life. The water and the birds always revive me.”
She smiled, her grave face softening. “That’s why I come here too. It’s a good place to think.”
Erestor nodded. He did not say, as some might, that it was dangerous for her to pick her way over the rocks alone, although Becca had been born severely nearsighted, her vision limited to things well-lit and close at hand. Elrohir speculated it might have been due to something her mother was exposed to while carrying her, a danger unknown amongst elves but all too common for their mortal kindred. She liked to be independent though, and he tried to respect that; to his mind, if she had come down here more than once, then it was clearly not beyond her.
“Those look like heavy thoughts you’re entertaining,” he suggested gently.
Becca hesitated. “Just - things I need to decide,” she said slowly. “Difficult things.”
“Difficult things are always better shared,” he told her, getting comfortable on the sun warmed rock. “I’ve had to deal with all manner of difficult things in my life. I would know.”
She gave him a dubious look. Erestor was old and beautiful in an amber-eyed, midnight-haired kind of way, and was best known for being Elrond’s seneschal since quite early in the Third Age – when he finally stopped travelling with Gildor’s Wanderers in the wake of a famous breakup with Gildor – and for his long and at times tempestuous relationship with Glorfindel. He would be the first to admit that neither by looks nor reputation did he seem like someone often overcome by ‘difficult things’.
“What?” he asked. “I was young once.”
Becca almost laughed, which he supposed was a good start. “You’re an elf. You never look old, just your eyes sometimes.”
“That’s how we tell age, yes,” Erestor agreed. “You don’t count yourself as an elf, Becca?” He had always been happy to step in where others feared to tread and had his own suspicions about Elladan’s hesitancy in the face of a final sailing date less than a month ahead.
The girl looked up at him uncertainly. She had grey-green eyes, like her mother, Elladan said, but in this light they were pale green. “My mother wasn’t?” she said, almost as a question. “And I only age slowly as I do because my father’s here? If he leaves and I stay, I will grow old.”
“The choice of Elwing’s children, yes,” Erestor agreed. “Be an elf and sail into the West with him, or be your mother’s daughter and remain and be mortal, as Arwen did.”
She nodded. “Elwing chose elven kind because she grew up knowing the pain Lúthien’s death had caused, or that’s what I was taught. And my father says Eärendil would have liked to be numbered with his father’s kin, but he let her choose for them both.”
“So I’d heard too. And never thought it a good idea to let someone else make such a vast decision for you. So – you want to remain here, with your mother’s people?” When she put a hand to her mouth and looked worried he shushed her gently. “Child, either way is your decision. As long as it’s what will make you happy, I would never try and change your mind. I’ve known some perfectly respectable mortals in my time, nothing wrong with claiming their heritage if it sits well on you?”
The joke fell a bit flat and Erestor mentally kicked himself for trying to go against the mood. Becca looked down at the water. Finally, she said, “Have you ever met an elf who can’t see properly and is almost blind at night, Erestor? The people from Lórien think I’m strange, but it gets explained and they’re my father’s guests, so… What will they think of me over there?”
Erestor considered it. “That you’re Elrond’s quite lovely granddaughter? And you do beautiful needlework, which no other woman on your father’s side of the family could ever claim, including your great-grandmother Galadriel who can do almost anything? And you are good-hearted and kind?”
“But different. And I have to hold the work right up to my face to be able to see it.”
Erestor sighed and moved closer so he could put an arm round her. “But you do it, you don’t just throw up your hands and say you can’t. That’s the whole point. Let me tell you a little secret,” he went on. “Just between you and I. I have worked for very important people, but I come from ordinary folk. It took me a long time to believe Glorfindel wanted me to share his life. And I have to go over the sea and face his parents, a great Lord and Lady of Gondolin, who will look down their noses at me and wonder if their son’s experience with death didn’t affect his mind or at least his judgement.”
Becca made a sound between a laugh and a gasp and Erestor grinned. “What, you think I’m joking? So like you, I have good reason to be uneasy about the future. But,” he said, shaking her gently, “I’m still going. And if the only thing that worries you is what others think, then you need to get over that right now. Does your father know why you’ve been hesitant? I thought not. Go and tell him. He’ll tell you what I will – some may find you unusual, but there are enough of us who love you for it not to matter.”
“And they’ll make a huge fuss over Uncle Roh’s family and it will hurt Ada,” she almost whispered.
Erestor snorted. “Those three are young savages. You’re the family’s hope. And your father is tougher than you seem to give him credit for. He won’t care as long as no one upsets you.” He gave her another gentle shake and then rose gracefully to his feet. “Right, make sure you get back before dark – the footing can be treacherous here. I’ll leave you to enjoy the silence and think about it. But don’t think too long. Packing to fit limited space takes longer than you’d believe.”
The library was not what it had been even ten years before. A hundred years in the past it had been the ultimate centre of elven research and information in Middle-earth, visited by elves and even men as a final bastion of knowledge, superior even to the great library at Minas Tirith – after all, it was many centuries older. Now the books had been sorted, many sent to Minas Tirith or closer to home to Annúminas where a start was being made on a collection of writings on the history of the northern kingdoms and the Dúnedain. Other books had been packaged carefully and sent over the sea, a task which was in its final stages.
The fiction still remained, however, most of which Erestor was determined to send north, where life was taken too literally and a little imagination would, he said, go a long way. While the books were there, so was Becca who had loved stories all her two hundred years. Her eyes got tired easily from reading too-small letters by lamplight, but Elrohir’s wife, Maldis the Smith, had given it some thought and created magnifying glasses which she placed in a pretty frame that rested neatly on Becca’s nose. This was Becca’s most prized possession, the thing she said she would save were the house on fire and there being time only to salvage one thing.
And her cat. Becca always had a cat.
Elladan paused in the doorway of the Small Reading Room where his daughter had settled in beside a stack of books, curled up in one of the more comfortable chairs, two lanterns placed where they could throw the best light on the text. The light gleamed softly on dark hair that vanished into shadow and highlighted the curve of her cheekbone and that firm, round chin. Everyone told him regularly how like Arwen she was, but when he looked at her, all he saw was her mother, gone too soon and the baby boy she had been carrying with her.
Becca looked up, frowning because the eye glasses made it hard for her to see much beyond the circle of light she sat in. She took them off and smiled. “Hello, Ada. Is it late?”
He came over and took the chair opposite her, hooking a little footstool over to put his feet on. Leaning back, he relaxed. “Oh, that feels better. I’ve been wrangling barrels out of the cellar along with every other person Oldhin could catch. No, it’s not that late. Can you leave that for a while though? We need to talk.”
She put the book aside slowly and placed the glasses atop it. “Is something wrong?” When she was little she would ask, ‘Did I do something wrong?’ until he’d had to sit her down and explain that if she did wrong he would tell her, but not to expect it as her due. She had always been a sweet child, eager to make people happy or comfortable, and felt it deeply when she seemed to have failed.
“Nothing and everything,” he said honestly. “Nothing, in that no, there’s nothing untoward, but everything, because our future rides at anchor at the Grey Havens and we need to make plans. You said you needed time, Becca?” He had resisted a lot of pressure while waiting for her, but said nothing of that: it had been his burden, not hers. Aloud he said, “We can’t leave it much later because if you want to stay, Elrohir needs to know that he’ll have sole responsibility for this last voyage.”
“Ada, I never expected you to stay with me,” Becca said quickly. “I would never ask that. The grandparents I’ve never met are waiting for both of you over there. Of course you’d have to go.”
Elladan smiled, half to himself. It was much the same as Arwen, who also never thought anyone else would be dragged into her decisions and had been startled to find she was not an island. “Becca,” he said gently. “You’ve lived most of your life here in Imladris. You have no near relatives outside. Who would you go to? Of course I would stay if you insisted. You’re my child, bone of my bone.”
“But – but you would die.” She looked horrified at the idea.
He grinned, he couldn’t help himself. “Darling, so will you. It’s the truth of being mortal. Why would it be worse for me? I’ve had a pretty long life as mortals measure it. Can’t complain.”
“Stop joking about it, it’s not funny,” she exclaimed, shaking her head at him. “It’s wrong because you are an elf, all the way through. It’s how you’ve been raised, how you’ve lived. The touch of mortal blood doesn’t matter. You can’t change now.”
“My sister did,” he pointed out gently. “And as willingly as I would, and also for love, though of a different kind. I’d need to know your reasons though. At least I understood hers.”
Becca frowned, looking up towards the top of one of the almost empty book shelves. “I saw Erestor this afternoon. He said I had to talk to you. I was going to in the morning.”
“Erestor doesn’t interfere in people’s lives without a reason,” Elladan said. “He prefers to let them self-destruct without his help; he told me this once when I’d done something particularly stupid.”
She giggled. “I know. When I was small I’d do things and he’d shake his head and say ‘I could have told you that wouldn’t work’, and I’d get cross and ask why he hadn’t because it would have been easier for me. And he’d say that then I wouldn’t learn.” Her voice trailed off and she continued staring into the darkness beyond the limits of her sight. “They won’t accept me over the sea, Ada. Because I can’t see like an elf. Because I’m different in a very mortal way, with something they can’t fix, something I was born with.”
Elladan stared at her. “Gods, who has said what to you? Becca, where did you get this idea?”
Becca shook her head hard. “People born this side of the sea who know about mortals still don’t understand why I can’t see a bird in a nest or whether someone’s hit a target in archery. Not people I’ve grown up around, Great-grandfather I think made sure of that while he was here. But others - people passing through on their way to the sea from Lórien or the Greenwood, they’re confused and then decide I’m not actually an elf, so it’s all right….”
Elladan slid off the chair and onto the floor in front of his daughter. Reaching out he took her hands in his, looking into her face. “Becca, listen to me. Those are the actions of thoughtless people with no reason to think beyond their tiny circle of experience. I cannot believe you never told me this, or Maldis or - or someone – Erestor, Glorfindel… You want to stay here because you think you’ll be made to feel out of place? Sweetheart, we will all feel out of place one way or the other. And because of that,” he went on quickly before she could interrupt, “because of that, we’ll stand together, support each other. And your grandfather will be there, and your great-grandmother – can you imagine anyone being stupid enough to make a member of Galadriel’s family feel uncomfortable? She would rip them apart – she can be difficult but she loves us.”
Becca was frowning though. “I don’t want to be a problem that everyone has to look after, Ada,” she said softly. “I know everyone would try, but I’ve always liked to do things without help…”
“This isn’t about help,” he said firmly. “This is about two things. One is love, because we all of us love you dearly. Yes, even Rínor,” he added, naming his twin’s eldest, who was going through a stage of not liking anyone very much. Elladan thought it had a lot to do with the upheaval going on around the boy, but Elrohir and Maldis insisted on looking for deep-seated and unlikely traumas, and who was he to dispute someone else’s approach to parenting. “And the other reason is equally important where we’re going. You are Elrond’s granddaughter, Galadriel’s great-granddaughter. People will fall over themselves to be your friend.
“That sounds horrible,” she said seriously.
He laughed, squeezed her hands. “Yes, well, I’ve heard enough stories to know that life can be quite horrible in that way. When he’s in a good mood some time, get Erestor to tell you about his years at Gil-galad’s court. Not the risqué bits,” he added hastily. There was no need for Becca at her age to know Erestor had slept with a king.
She brightened up. “Do you think the king’s been reborn?” she asked. “What will happen if he meets Erestor with Glorfindel?”
“People are too quick to gossip,” Elladan said getting up. “That’s not a suitable story for a young girl.”
“Ada, everyone knows that! And I’m not a baby anymore.”
Elladan rolled his eyes. “Everyone should mind their own concerns. So? Are we going on this adventure across the sea, or are we moving to Bree? You could do needlework perhaps, though I don’t like the thought of you straining your eyes like that. No idea what I’d do. Go work in one of the pubs, perhaps? Can you see me working in a pub?”
Becca laughed. “If I said either yes or no you’d want to know how I know what the inside of a pub looks like. And you’d never believe me if I said Glorfindel told me.” She also got up, carefully marking her place in the book and retrieving her eye glasses. Standing beside him she barely came up to his shoulder: her mother had been tiny as well.
“I’ll not ask how Glorfindel knows about a pub in Bree,” he said fondly. “Some things are none of my business. So? Will you be a princess or a seamstress?”
Becca took a deep breath then slipped her hand in his as she used to when she was a child. “I’m not sure about being a princess, Ada. I don’t know how to do that. But from all you’ve told me, I think I’d like to be Elrond’s granddaughter.”
He pulled her to him and gave her a hard hug. “Good. Whatever you felt in your heart was best would have been right, but – good. And you never know, it might not be as bad as most of us expect.”
They walked out the library like that, Elladan with his arm round his daughter’s shoulders, into a corridor lit by only one lamp where in the past there would have been a row of lights. A turn and another turn took them to one of the many doors out of the house. There was a story amongst the Hobbit folk that Elrond’s house had forty doors, and while that was an exaggeration, it was fact that there were any number of ways in and out, a relic of the many different additions to the original structure.
The door let them out onto a grassy square and a line of paving stones that led over to the wing housing the main living quarters. They were half way across, walking in companionable silence, when Glorfindel rounded the corner coming towards them.
“You’re out late,” he said upon reaching them. “I was looking for Erestor – have you seen him?”
“We just came from the library,” Elladan said. “If that’s where you were heading, he wasn’t there.”
“He was earlier,” Becca said. “You should look in the smithy. He wanted to talk to them about starting to melt down armour or – or something.”
“The armour we’re not passing on to anyone else when we leave, yes,” Glorfindel said wryly. “I offered to oversee that but he said I’d keep finding things I want to save, rather as I’ve done with packing up our rooms.”
“He was complaining about that at dinner a while ago,” Elladan said laughing. “Apparently he throws out ruthlessly and hasn’t an iota of sentimentality.”
“You know that’s a lie, right?”
“Oh, yes of course. But he’s Erestor and I’d never dare accuse him of exaggeration.”
“Coward,” Glorfindel said cheerfully.
“We’re only meant to take things very meaningful to us, aren’t we?” Becca asked. “Favourite clothes and memories and things like that?”
“And many, many things are meaningful to me,” Glorfindel agreed. “For some reason he finds that hard to understand.”
They reached the other side of the little courtyard laughing. About to take the path that would lead him to the smithy down near the river, Glorfindel paused, a hand briefly on Elladan’s shoulder. “From that I gather you’ve decided to sail then? Good. Now if you’ve not put your brother out of his misery yet, go and tell him. And I am more glad than I can say that you’ll be coming with us – both of you. I’d not willingly leave another loved girl child behind.”
The ship, one of a small flotilla, had pulled well away from the shore, out of the delta and into the widening bay with the Ered Luin falling away on either side. The Grey Havens, formerly called Mithlond, the once-capital of High King Ereinion Gil-galad, were starting to fade into the distance, ancient buildings crumbling and sinking into the land much as was starting to happen with Rivendell too.
Elladan and Elrohir stood together in the stern. They had been watching the land of their birth drawing away but now turned back of one accord to look at the controlled chaos on deck. There were two dogs tied to the main mast, part of the ceaseless movement as crates and chests were dragged about the deck, covered against spray, and elves sought out comfortable corners to stake out as their own. Becca was sitting with the dogs, Elrohir’s three in a semi-circle in front of her.
“Telling a story?” Elrohir asked, indicating the little group.
Elladan smiled. “Looks like it. My book-lover. She’s quite good at it.” Her mother’s father had been a bard and his gift for tale telling and music lived on in his grandchild.
Elrohir nodded, eyes still on the young ones. “She’s a good girl. I understand why you would have stayed for her. But this is how it was meant to be, if we had to leave – you, me, our families, so many others close to us…”
Elladan remembered the wordless hug when he had told his twin he, too, would be sailing and smiled, not challenging the implied ‘I told you so’. “By the way, Erestor isn’t speaking to Glorfindel. Something about Glorfindel trying to get rid of his precious book of Haradrin fairytales.”
“The one he had when we were children?”
They exchanged a grin, mirror images of windswept dark hair and bright grey eyes. “Not sentimental at all, he says.”
“Not a bit of it. But it wouldn’t be right if they weren’t fighting about something either.”
“As long as it’s not Gildor.”
Elrohir sobered. “I hope he’s still got the big blue one with the Fall of Gondolin, complete with utterly over the top illustrations.”
“Not even Glory would dare,” Elladan said confidently. He watched Becca take her youngest cousin onto her lap while the other two leaned in closer. “I told Becca we’d all feel out of place over there, not just her, but I think I was wrong.”
“I was shaken when you told me she felt they’d reject her,” Elrohir said soberly. “Maldis told me I don’t think enough. If anyone dares, they’ll have me to deal with. You were wrong?”
Elladan squeezed his arm in wordless thanks. “Father too. And Grandmother. The three of you should be enough to stop anyone. And yes. We won’t be out of place. We may be going to a strange land – strange to most of us at any rate – but we’re going together. We haven’t left home after all. We’re taking it there with us.”
Elladan was on the floor of an open porch, sitting with his back against an ancient pillar and enjoying the last of the late autumn sun. In reality it offered little warmth but it was a change at least from the eternal drizzle they had suffered for the past week. Everything looked wet and bedraggled, especially the drifts of fallen leaves. Someone had tried to sweep them together, but with only middling success before giving up and leaving them in untidy heaps beside the path. Rivendell was starting to look old and neglected, but he supposed that was only to be expected.
The water dropped down rapids a short distance back and due to a formation of rocks and the habit of the current, left a deep calm pool only accessed by clambering under branches and over rocks. It was a scramble, but worth it. The water rippled along smoothly, circulating around a spine of rock, willows hung heavy and low, and the air smelt green and fresh. There was always a warm rock to relax on, birds to listen to. Peace. No angry voices, no arguments, no having to hear his own voice repeat the same instruction over and over and over again….
He cleared his throat, as much to shake back the memory of that pain as anything else, the pain underlined by the kind words and faces when he came back home that implied, ‘But she would have been gone soon enough, anyway, and we would have lost you as well. Better like this.’
Chapter End Notes:
Maldis - gold bride
Rínor - remembrance
Oldhin - dream of silence
Becca is just Becca. It's the name her mother gave her and precious for that reason.
Beta: Red Lasbelin (deserves a medal for putting up with my last minute submissions)