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Hope in the Healing (PG-13) Print

Written by Susana

14 February 2011 | 36497 words | Work in Progress

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Title: Hope in the Healing, Part VI
Author: Susana
Series: Desperate Hours; Young Estel story
Feedback: Please use the form below
Rating: PG-13, to be safe.
Warning: AU.

Beta: Thanks to Kaylee, for help with Quenya and Sindarin (without you, there would be so many more mistakes and so much less proper use of the elven languages!) Thanks to Holly and Kaylee for their kind assistance with characterization of the Imladris elves. Thanks also to everyone who has reviewed earlier parts. Remaining mistakes are mine.

Disclaimer: All recognizable elements are Tolkien’s.

Summary: In this chapter, there is a meeting of the Imladris Council, or as Aran Ereinion once described them, the artisans, lore masters, and scientists who decide to meet every so often for coffee and conversation, and once in a blue moon, to govern. Also, Elrond discusses with his sons what he thinks of their recent tactics in the field.


Part VI

Erestor cast his gwador a fond but exasperated look, as Elrond reviewed a variety of notes in preparation for the quarterly meeting of all of Imladris’ heads of staff, called Imladris’ council. Elrond’s cousin and older foster brother, the former High King of the Noldor on Middle Earth, had irreverently observed that the “council” which served his baby foster-brother’s settlement was more like an academic discussion group than any kind of governing body. Elrond had smiled and said that it worked for Imladris, and that Ereinion was just jealous because he wished his council only met once every four months. What had followed was a brotherly squabble that Cirdan, Erestor, and Glorfindel had all declined to referee.

Becoming Elrond’s friend, and then his gwador, had taken Erestor down many strange roads. Erestor had known Elrond since Erestor had been but an elfling himself. Elrond had, in fact, been the healer who presided at Erestor’s own birth. Erestor’s parents, Arandil and Elain, had been personal friends of Aran Ereinion Gil-Galad, as well as his valued advisors. Ereinion’s personal friends all had known Elrond, as he was the King’s foster-brother and cousin as well as his heir. In the first centuries after Elrond’s twin brother sailed to NĂºmenor, Ereinion had ordered that Elrond accompany him to informal get-togethers, if Elrond proved otherwise unamenable to attending them.

As an elfling, Erestor had not know that the King’s quiet young cousin was there under polite protest. He had only known that Elrond was happy to listen to him describe the books he had just read or what he was learning in lessons or the story he had made up, for as long as Erestor wanted to talk. Erestor’s childhood memories of Elrond were mostly faint impressions of a kind but sad elf, who was often in the company of his merry cousin the King. Erestor also had a few memories of Elrond treating his childhood scrapes, when Erestor’s mother Elain, also a healer, had been otherwise occupied. But Erestor had been a busy and happy elfling, and Elrond had been Aran Ereinion Gil-galad’s heir and advisor, a healer, and also a Captain in the Aran’s army. The paths of Ereinon’s heir and Arandil’s elfling had simply not crossed that frequently.

Then Erestor’s parents had left Lindon to be Gil-galad’s ambassadors to Eregion, when Erestor had still been quite young, so his childhood memories of Elrond were somewhat hazy. Although Elrond (and sometimes Ereinion, in Elrond’s name) had never forgotten to send presents for each of Erestor’s begetting days, as well as the begetting days of Erestor’s best friend in Eregion, Celebrian Celeborniel.

When Erestor returned to Lindon as a young archivist, just of age, he had been far too junior to run in the same circles as his parents’ old friends. Nor had Erestor been aware, at that point, that his parents had been friends and mentors to Elrond himself, in Elrond’s youth. In fact, it had been a matter of chance that Elrond was the senior healer on duty the day when Erestor had walked into the healer’s wing at the King’s palace in Lindon on behalf of a fishing hawk. Neither Erestor nor Elrond had known that they were beginning on a path that would lead them to follow a family tradition.

Elrond had already been a senior healer in service to the Aran, and the Aran’s own heir, when Erestor first met him again as an adult, that long ago day. Being Elrond’s friend had brought Erestor into close association with Aran Ereinion, who had made Erestor one of his advisors, when Erestor had been scandalously young for such an honor. Since year 1700 of the Second Age, Erestor had pledged his loyalty to Elrond, as Aran Gil-galad’s deputy in Eriador, at Imladris. Since Aran Ereinion’s death at the last battle of the Last Alliance, at the end of the Second Age, Elrond had been by right Aran Golodhrim in Endore, High King of the Noldor elves on Middle Earth. It was a title Erestor’s gwador had never claimed, though he did occasionally take advantage of its prerogatives. Some might have wondered how the … lamentably clever, twin sons of Lord Elrond, had come by some of their personality traits. Erestor and his family did not have to wonder. They had known Elrond in his younger days, and Erestor’s father had known Elros, as well.

Thinking of the twins brought Erestor back to the reason for his exasperation with his gwador Elrond. “You know,” Erestor ventured, “I think you should ask the twins to stay, and help you with the raising of Estel, and other preparations for the approaching crisis.”

Elrond looked up at Erestor, and frowned. A very older-brotherly, I-am-the-Lord-of-Imladris-and-I-know-best, expression.

It did not intimidate Erestor. “Anatar agrees with me.” He related, undaunted.

“He would.” Elrond said with a sigh, “He took my irrepressible sons into his guard more than a full decade early, did he not?”

“He had your permission.” Erestor defended Glorfindel with a half smile.

“He had my horrified acquiescence.” Elrond disagreed, but a faint smile was tugging at his lips. “That is somewhat different than my permission. But, please, tithen-gwador, do elaborate.”

Erestor took that opening. For Elrond, it was practically an admission that Erestor was right, and Elrond wrong. “With Sauron’s allies increasing their activities, more of the work of opposing them is going through Imlradris. It is too much for us to deal with, at the same time that we are preparing this most important of Isildur’s heirs.”

Elrond shook his head, appearing troubled rather than decisive. “I am proud of what the twins have been doing with the Dunedain. I do not want them to have to choose between the duties they have chosen, to our human kin, and what should properly be my duties, here.”

Erestor sighed, wishing he had written down certain conversations that Ereinion had once had with Elrond, so that Erestor could now rub his gwador’s face in the fact that Elrond had practically turned into his elder cousin, some days. “They’re your sons, gwador.” Erestor pointed out gently, “If they feel they cannot be spared by their human allies, they will not say yes. But, when Ereinion had problems, did you not want to know, as his heir, and his kinsman, and his friend?”

Elrond frowned again, but long experience with his friend allowed Erestor to read it as thoughtfulness, rather than disagreement. “I am not a King, Erestor. My problems are not so great as Ereinion’s once were.” Elrond argued. Elrond thought it was a very great distinction, that he was not a King as Ereinion had once been.

Erestor asked the Valar for patience, before commenting neutrally, “Mmm-hmm. And who coordinates the communication between here, Greenwood, Lothlorien, and Mithlond, as well as a number of human cities, regarding our opposition to Mordor?”

Elrond snorted, before retorting. “You do.” Then, more honestly, “Well, I do, but you help a great deal. As does Melpomaen, and Glorfindel, provided we do not require him to write anything personally.”

Erestor shuddered. Normally Galadriel and Glorfindel got along quite well, but that last letter Glorfindel had sent, after the twins ran into trouble near Lothlorien, had been bluntly enough worded to anger even Elrond’s doting mother-by-law and kinswoman. Putting that unfortunate memory aside, Erestor returned to his argument, “My point is, you’re doing the twins a disservice. And my son their advisor and gwador, as well.”

Elrond sighed, and offered Erestor a small smile of apology. “I suppose you are right, Erestor, as usual. Perhaps I will ask for their assistance. But I would have to tell them everything.”

Erestor nodded. That was undoubtedly true. The twins with half of a story were like…a cat, who could see the end of a ball of yarn. “Probably it is time for that, anyway.” He related tactfully, adding, “I think Mel may have guessed something, and whatever he guessed, he’d have told the twins. They probably already know something is up.”

Elrond came to a decision, and asked a passing messenger, busy on this day of the council meeting, to fetch his sons, and Lord Melpomaen as well. Erestor asked Glorfindel to join them, and within a dozen minutes, the two elves had become six. The older triumvirate who ruled Imladris, and the younger triumvirate who went out into the world, and who felt rather than saw the tides of change approaching. Between the six of them, they had enabled the elven city to ride out the storms of the past several thousand years, and at the same time remain true to the heirs of Isildur, Elrond’s distant nephews, the twins’ first cousins of increasing generations removal.

Considering his sons and his gwador’s son, Elrond mused that the relationship between the two triumvirates was not an exact parallel, though those who knew them well but not intimately normally equated Elrohir with Glorfindel, Melpomaen with Erestor, and sometimes Elladan with Elrond.

And Elrohir was a military prodigy, no one had questioned that since Elrond’s heir’s earliest elfling days. And Elrohir and Glorfindel did often side together on issues pertaining to security and arms training. But Elrohir often sided with his father as well, as he was the more…responsible, in some ways, of the twins. Though he was also the most likely to suddenly decide to take physical retribution on some elf or human (who usually deserved it, but not perhaps to the extent Elrohir thouht appropriate), which made him again like unto Glorfindel. Melpomaen usually sided with Erestor, and the two of them were perhaps the closest parallel, of the six of them. Erestor, like Melpomaen, rarely put his foot down, but when he did, his friends listened seriously, and often did as he had asked.

Though even between Elrond’s gwador and his gwador’s son, there were differences. For instance, Melpomaen had adopted more of a humor and handle strategy with the twins, rather than the sometimes loud lectures that Erestor bestowed upon Elrond, when he thought his gwador was being particularly wrong-headed. But Melpomaen was actually nine years older than the twins, and the three had grown up together, from their adolescence. That was a very different start than the relationship between Elrond and Erestor. Elrond had been a centuries-old war hero, a council Lord, and a senior healer, by the time he had become friends with the fifty year old junior scribe Erestor.

More, Elrond had literally been the healer in attendance at Erestor’s birth. The junior healer, but it had been Elrond who had fought – and convinced – the senior healers to have Erestor’s mother Lady Elain drugged to induce early labor, so that Erestor would be a smaller than normal baby when they had to manipulate his tiny form from its breech position safely into the world. Elrond had seen similar techniques prove successful, working with healers amongst his human kin. Lady Elain and Lord Arandil, with even the most senior master healers predicting a dangerous birth, had been willing to try Elrond’s crazy idea. It had been one of the five or six most excruciatingly difficult births Elrond had presided at in six millenia, that had still turned out well. Not so, unfortunately, with the birth of Erestor’s own first son.

So, there were reasons why Mel, who was actually nine years older than his sons, could handle the twins on a more even footing. And reasons why Erestor had to speak more sharply to be listened to by his gwador Elrond, who was at times protective of his much younger gwador, whose wife and first child Elrond still mourned he had not been a great enough healer to save. Erestor’s perspective on this, which Elrond knew because they’d been drunk enough to discuss it on several occasions, was that Elrond’s tragic childhood had left him with severe trust and abandonment issues, whereby the twins had been raised by two loving parents and a caring extended family, and were just more sane. This was what Elladan thought, as well, but Elrond was too set in his ways to change completely, though he appreciated that his family cared enough to point out his flaws and irrationalities. Repeatedly, in fact, and without much in the way of encouragement from Elrond.

And Elladan…Elladan was Elrond, with less tact and more boldness and creativity. Elladan was, alternatively and sometimes all at once, a disaster, a catastrophe, and a miracle. What frightened Elrond was that Elladan could be careful, subtle, and discreet, when he really wanted to be, though it did not come easily to him. Elladan was Elrond if he had been bolder, and had not learned caution and quiet from such a harsh school. Elrohir wasn’t Elros, and Elladan wasn’t Elrond. But there were times when the parallels were too close for Elrond’s comfort.

“Ada?” Elladan questioned, echoed by his twin, both surprised to have been summoned before the council meeting. It was not unusual for Elrond to have a pre-meeting with his closest advisors, but it was unusual for it to be unscheduled. The twins knew their father well, and he was an elf who did not like departures from the routine.

“My Lord?” Melpomaen asked, only to wince as Lord Elrond shook his head at his honorary nephew’s formality, and then to yelp “Ow!” in surprise as Glorfindel kicked his shin. Glorfindel had not given up on trying to get his great-grandson to relax and feel more like family amongst them, and Glorfindel was comfortable enough with Melpomaen at this point to express that opinion as he would with Erestor or Elrond. Forcefully.

“Anatar, really.” Erestor reprimanded his grandfather gently.

Glorfindel patted Mel’s shoulder and apologized, though he gave his Lord and his grandson an aggrieved look. They had thought nothing of kicking him when they had all three been members of Ereinion’s council, and Glorfindel had looked ready to express especially honest opinions.

Elrond, for a change having the opportunity to shake his head at the antics of his gwador’s family, gestured for his sons and advisors to take a seat at the round table in the small council room adjoining his study.

“Ionnath-nin, Melpomaen, I have asked for speech with you at such short notice because we have decided that you should be aware… Galadriel has seen, and I have seen, that the end of this age approaches us. The increased orc activity the Dunedain have been frantically countering is not an isolated incident. Slowly but surely, Sauron’s lieutenants are gathering his forces, and for a certainty it must be at their master’s order. Sauron’s gold and other, darker bribes flow through the south lands and the lands of the Easterlings again, and the orcs and spiders grow bolder in the Greenwood.”

The twins appeared unsurprised but thoughtful, more elves who had heard something confirmed which they had already suspected, than the recipients of a grand revelation. A quick look passed between them, and Elrond reflected with some amusement that the younger three elves had a fairly regular if fluid system of decision making. All three contributed ideas, though Elladan contributed the most. So far as Elrond had been able to observe, they actually took action on an issue when (in order of frequency) (a) Elrohir decided that they would; (b) Melpomaen really wanted to; or © Elladan proved completely undistractable from whatever it was that he had his heart set on.

Melpomaen and Elrohir and Elladan, between the three of them, exchanged a final look, which apparently elected Elladan as their spokesman. “Ada, we should invite Lady Ambraxiel and Lord Ingloren to join us, in the discussion of military matters. As well as Lieutenant Drystan, and perhaps…hmm, Lieutenant Thenithol, as well.”

Elrond considered that for a moment. Ambaraxiel and Ingloren had both come from the undying lands with the Host of the Valar to fight in the War of Wrath, and then had decided to stay on Middle Earth, each for their own reasons. Although they were not as mighty as the reborn Glorfindel, or as the ringbearers Elrond or Galadriel, Ingloren and Ambaraxiel were still quite powerful. More, they were among the wisest of elven kind on Middle Earth, Lords of the Eldar from beyond the furthest seas.

Elrohir had grasped the strategic ramifications of Elrond’s explanation immediately, and then moved beyond them in a direction Elrond hadn’t yet contemplated. “Ada, we should also inform Lady Ambaraxiel for another reason, so that she can have the head engineers start working on possible defenses to Mordor’s current weaponry, and siege arsenal.”

Elladan added, “And we should coordinate with the Gray Wanderer, to see what he knows of Mordor’s activities. As well as the alchemists here under Lord Ingloren, to counter those weapons of Mordor’s which are more chemically based, and concoct antidotes to Sauron’s current arsenal of poisons and drugs. And I assume you’ve already been in communication with our daeredhryn in Lothlorien?”

“And Cousin Thranduil in the Greenwood?” Elrohir added. He and Thranduil had always gotten on quite well. Thranduil loved all of Elrond’s children, but he was still somewhat cautious of having both of Elrond’s twin sons in his Kingdom at the same time, as a result of an incident which had occurred some centuries ago.

Elrond paused to admire his sons’ nimble and clever minds. Still, despite that, the twins were not conceited, although they had been well on their way to thinking themselves the smartest elflings on Middle Earth, when the Valar (by the means of Elrond’s own foster-father Lord Cirdan) had sent Melpomaen to Elrond’s house when his sons had been teenagers. Mel was Erestor’s son in every way that mattered, and he had quickly become the companion of Elrond’s sons as Erestor had been Elrond’s, Arandil had been Earendil’s and then Ereinion’s, and Glorfindel had been Turgon’s, and Idril’s as well. Vorondanyar, the most faithful, the family of Glorfindel and Laureamoriel, and their kinsmen and descendants.

Elrond’s family had been lucky indeed, that one day long ago in Tirion, when Lord Turucano (who became King Turgon) had first befriended the young warrior Laurefindil (who became Lord Glorfindel). Loyalty to Turgon was what had brought Glorfindel to Middle Earth, to Gondolin. Loyalty to Turgon’s daughter Idril and her young family was what Glorfindel had once died for. Glorfindel’s son had been badly wounded defending Turgon during the Fall of Gondolin, but he had survived, to later become Earendil’s, then later Elros’ and Elrond’s, tutor, guard, and friend. And the father of Elrond’s best friend Erestor, as well. Erestor, who had in turn adopted Melpomaen, the best friend and companion of Elrond’s twin sons.

Melpomaen, a few beats behind the twins as he remained the quieter of the three of them, waiting to voice a thought until he had realized that no one else would, added, “It may well be worth talking to Master Hisilr and the minstrels, those who write songs which they are accustomed to sharing with human friends and students, in particular. Songs which remind the humans that we elves have long been their allies, and which speak of the influence Mordor can have over the minds of men, and how to weaken it.”

Erestor shared a knowing grin with Glorfindel. Elrond gave them both a look. Yes, you were right. It was right to tell them today. I should have told them, earlier. But the fewer beings who know of Estel’s likely fate, the better.

Right on time, Elladan, Elrond’s most lamentably perceptive child excepting only perhaps Arwen, asked, “Ada, what does that mean, for Estel?”

Three sets of young eyes moved intently to Elrond’s face. “It means he is the last heir of Isildur, unless Sauron is defeated.” The Lord of Imladris related gravely, worried for his newest child, the human one, the one whose life was so endangered.

The twins’ faces stiffened in fear and defiance. “Well, then, we’re just going to have to see to it that he is.” Elladan said.

“We’ll help you to train Estel, staring even earlier than we did with his…father.” Elrohir added, and Elrond sighed to himself to realize Elrohir was still having trouble even saying Arathorn’s name.

“Should we send for the military council, my L…Uncle Elrond, and discuss with them how best to precede, before the larger meeting?” Melpomaen asked quietly. Glorfindel didn’t comment, but his eyes twinkled in approval.

Elrond sighed again, this time less heavily, as Erestor’s eyes twinkled. Elrond wasn’t going to hear the end of how he should just have listened to Erestor months ago, not for some time. “Yes, Melpomaen. But not the whole military council…only Ingloren, Ambaraxiel, and Drystan. And Gilraen, as well.”

Melpomaen merely nodded and went to make the arrangements, but Elrohir asked, “Adar, I understand why not the whole military council, but surely we can extend our trust to Thenithol.”

Elrond shook his head, “Elrohir, I do not wish to argue over this with you. Thenithol is indeed trustworthy, and I trust that he will do as you and your brother ask without having to be told why. I am sorry as it is somewhat unfair to ask him to, but,” Elrond paused, seeking for the best way to explain this to his children. Oddly, it was Elladan who assisted.

“Glorfindel and Erestor agree with Ada, ‘Roh. Glor remembers the Fall of Gondolin, from inside, from treachery. It was Maeglin alone who was untrue, but Maeglin knew watch schedules in part because there were elven soldiers who did not know better than to tell the King’s nephew when they would be on duty.” Elladan pointed out.

“And then there was Eregion.” Erestor added gently, knowing that Elrohir had studied with Melpomaen and his twin how Sauron had infiltrated that city, and used its talented smiths for his own evil plans.

Elrohir still looked unhappy, so Glorfindel added, “And we all remember Annuminas, and how we might have lost Arnor’s royal line earlier in this age, had it not been for clever Arwen.” And Belemir, but out of respect for Elrond’s grief, Glorfindel left Belemir’s name unsaid. Keeping Elrond and his line safe was Glorinfindel’s divinely-given charge, but besides that the reborn elf loved Elrond and his children like they were Glorfindel’s own grandchildren. And Elrohir was Elrond’s son in this matter, Glorfindel knew. Elrond did not speak of Elros, Celebrian, Andreth, or Belemir, if he could possibly help it. Nor the unborn grandchild they had lost when Belemir’s human wife had died at sea.

Elrohir reluctantly nodded, but still seemed torn, so Melpomaen added gently, “Its not Thenithol himself, ‘Roh. Its just that the only way to protect some information, is to keep it as close as possible. Sauron is very clever, and will often recruit to his service men who can pass as honest and good amongst other men and even elves. Ingloren and Ambaraxiel survived the War of Wrath, and both recognized Annatar as untrustworthy when he came to Eregion, so your Adar feels he can trust their judgment. Ingloren recognized Annatar for what he was and left Eregion when your daeredhryn did, and Ambaraxiel stayed to help my daeredhyrn stay as long as Ereinion allowed them, keeping the lines of information open between Eregion, Lindon, and Lothlorien. They have aided Ada before, and he trusts not just their loyalty but also their judgment and discretion, in the most impossible of circumstances.”

“And Drystan was my own foster-brother’s gwador, and often privy to confidences that I know he kept to himself.” Elrond said gently, putting a hand on his heir’s shoulder. “Do you have any further objections, Elrohir-nin? If so I will hear them, though I doubt I will change my mind.”

“Nay, Ada.” Elrohir said with a sigh, accepting his father’s judgment. “I would choose differently, but I respect your decision. As Daernana told us, Nargothorond may never have turned against its master, if great-uncle Finrod Felagund had not trusted his cousins Celegorm and Curufin, and admitted elves to his councils who gossiped freely with them.”

Elrond squeezed his son’s hands, reflecting to himself that he was somewhat surprised Galadriel had shared that story with the twins, but glad for it.

Then the elves who had been called arrived, as well as Gilraen, and the ten of them moved to the larger council room, and set about figuring out the best ways to prepare for the forthcoming intensified struggle against their ages-old Enemy. Gilraen’s pretty face whitened to hear Elrond tell her so bluntly of her son’s danger, but she was otherwise composed. “My mother Ivorwen saw some of this.” Gilraen related, tone carefully controlled. “It does not come as a complete surprise, and it is part of why I sought sanctuary, here.”

As the discussion continued, Elrond reflected on how grateful he was to have such valuable assistance, if they must face the dark one again. He also hid his amusement at his fellow elves’ growing respect for Gilraen, as she helped them determine how best to enlist the aid of her people. Elrond was not surprised. Gilraen was very much Imrazor’s many-times great-niece, and it had been Imrazor who had been instrumental in catching one of Elendil’s captains, who had been subverted by the enemy, during the War of the Last Alliance.

“I think that the situation merits continuing with the charade that you and Thranduil are on the outs, Elrond.” Erestor commented quietly, when the topic turned to their own counter-intelligence measures.

“Yes, I agree. Though Thranduil is enjoying this entirely too much.” Elrond said, with a rueful smile. His younger cousin the King of the Greenwood was quite an actor.

“Yes.” Erestor agreed, hiding his own smile, “But it does seem to be effective, as Sauron has pretty much stopped his efforts to turn the elven realms against one another, believing that task already complete.”

“Still,” Elrohir added with some concern, “That means we can’t recall Arwen, unless Ada and Glor have changed their minds about it being too dangerous to have we younger elves serve as unofficial messengers and envoys, as we had been doing previously?”

Glorfindel shook his head, “I am sorry, guren. It is too dangerous. Despite Sauron’s not realizing, so far as we can tell, at least, that you were serving as your Adar’s envoy in Greenwood and Elladan in Lothlorien, he does realize that you and your twin, all of you, really, would be valuable hostages. To use you as routine messengers for sensitive matters, when Arwen can hear Elrond from Lothlorien and Orophin can hear Lady Galadriel from Thranduil’s hall, well, it is not worth the risk.”

At the end of the meeting, the discussion again turned to Estel.

Elrohir commented quietly, “I’m no expert, but that’s not normal, is it, for a child to be setting up a scale reenactment of a battle, accurately, at age three?

Elrond considered that, “No, not to my knowledge, ion-nin, although I do recall Elros would accomplish similar feats, with my father and Arandil’s sand table.”

Gilraen shook her head, “I do not know if it is normal, or not. I was not much around children, before my own son. It is normal for Estel.”

“Kids do all sorts of strange things, it is well he shows talent for what he’ll have to do someday as chieftain.” Elladan commented blandly.

Elrond eyed his second son intently, but let the issue settle. It was almost time for the larger council meeting to begin, and he wanted a private word with his sons. Pulling them aside into his office, Elrond quickly assured them, “I am still planning to discuss the other incident after the meeting, but I have a request to make of you.” Elrond paused, having trouble asking for help, even from elves he trusted as much as he did his sons. “I would like the two of you to stay here, instead of returning to the Dunedain, in the spring.” He said at last.

Elrohir’s eyes widened, as did Elladan’s. Their fingers flickered and their eyes met as they spoke between themselves for a moment. Finally, Elrohir said, “We will consider it very seriously, Ada.”

“And we will, if you truly need us, or if you make it an order.” Elladan added, “But we have responsibilities to the Dunedain, as well.”

“I know you do, ionnath-nin. And I am proud of you, I honor you, in fact, for the responsibilities you have taken on to your distant cousins’ men.” Elrond said gently. “And I will not make it an order. I understand that you are torn, and I will respect your decision, whatever it may be.”

The twins nodded, and Elrond embraced them both before taking a deep breath, and going to deal with his council. Who were, as councils went, fairly non-objectionable, but it was still not the loremaster’s favorite day of the quarter.

One thing that had to be understood about Imladris, was that it was neither a settlement nor a city in the normal meaning of such words. It was more like a university. Oh, it was true enoguh that Imladris was a city, in that it was about the size of a large human town, though far more intricate in some ways. But the day-to-day matters of Imladris ran more in spite of itself, than as a matter of course. The elves of Imladris, and the humans who came to live with them, were more interested in the accumulation and advancement of knowledge, and the advancing of technologies and the arts, then in making sure that they had enough food to eat or were properly prepared for the various formalities of elven life.

In fact, Aran Ereinion Gil-galad had once thrown his hands up in amused despair at how his little foster-brother’s refuge failed to even have the most basic operating council, but somehow still functioned. “I think you should have a candle-maker on your council too, pityahano. After all, you have the tailor and the baker.” Elrond could recall Ereinion telling him wryly, right before they left Imladris together with the armies of the Last Alliance. Elrond had replied seriously that the chief cook (who had then been a certain pastry chef familiar to both of them, one Carmave, brother of Nallos) was also representing the candle-stick makers, and Imladris was mostly using lanterns, rahter than candles. Ereinion hadn’t grasped that Elrond was purposely missing his sarcasm, and had given up. Elrond wished, now, that he had risen to that jibe, had given Ereinion the pleasure of having once again flustered his younger foster-brother. But there were no do-overs in life, and if the Valar were kind, Elrond would see Ereinion again, one day in the West.

One of Lady Celebrian’s handmaidens had been horrified that Elrond’s heads of staff included not a single elf with any common sense (in her opinion), and met on average only once a month. Elrond had invited that handmaiden to join the council, and eventually to become his castellan. And she had proven to be the most efficient and capable administrator who had ever served Imladris in that position, though she had changed her title to something else. But Elrond hadn’t cared what she called herself, and thinking of her was still too painful, as she had also been Celebrian’s shadow. And Elrond missed his wife, at least as much as he had once missed Elros.

Elrond was interested to observe that his old friend and sometime-rival Moicasion was attending, as well as his daughter Ceredithlas, who usually handled administrative matters for their Healing Ward. Amused and touched, Elrond resolved to Moicasion aside after the meeting, to thank him. And to talk to Erestor and Glorfindel, about perhaps inviting Moicasion to join the smaller privy council. Moicasion’s discretion was absolute, and his judgment sound.

During the first part of meeting, the twins were quieter than normal, as they’d been more or less absent the past few years and had fewer suggestions regarding the day-to-day running of Imladris than they had had at other points. The main topics of discussion surrounded the need for increased provisions and guards. More elves were sailing for Mithlond from Greenwood or Lothlorien, and since Imladris was the only elven outpost inbetween those lands and Mithlond, that meant they more frequently had elven guests. There were also an increasing number of human messengers from Gondor, Dol Amroth, and other more far-away lands, as well as the Arnor Dunedain.

During the meeting, Elrond observed with interest that the twins just backed Melpomaen’s recommendations, and cast their votes as he did. When the twins had been in residence, they were more likely to make their own suggestions, and to take differing positions. Elladan, in particular, possessed Celebrian’s charm, and even her tact, on the rare occasions he deigned to exercise it. More, he had a gift for team-building. Elrohir was a respected leader amongst the younger elves, but except for his twin and his gwador, and rarely a few chosen protegees such as their cousin Legolas, Elrohir rarely drew other elves into their confidence, preferring to let Elladan figure out how it would be best to do so. But both of his sons followed Melpomaen’s lead without question or qualm, since their absence meant they were not abreast of current issues.

In some ways, Elrond actually envied his sons’ relationship with Melpomaen. Between Elrond, his gwador, and his gwador’s grandfather, Elrond had always been their sworn Lord. Fortunately, Erestor and Glorfindel were not respecters of rank and title most of the time, but it was still there. And Glorfindel was thousands of years older than himself or Erestor. He was their friend, yes, and even their drinking companion, but he could go from friend to grandfatherly authority figure in the blink of an eye when he chose. And Glorfindel, though he was kind and loved them all dearly, just was not the indulgent, doting, type of grandfather. To be fair to Glorfindel, he was normally not the kind of elven elder who regularly uttered idiotic platitudes such as “in my days, young elves like you..etc.” But sometimes, he was. And Glorfindel was an elder, Erestor’s actual grandfather, and a contemporary of Elrond’s great-grandfather. It gave the balrog-slayer a certain authority in their relationship, though he was Elrond’s vassal, and cheerfully admitted to being the inferior of the three of them when it came to patience, off the battlefield. How Glorfindel could wait with perfection patience for a strategy to ripen, or even for a fine stag to tip toe exactly into position, Elrond did not know. Glorfindel certainly had no patience for paperwork, or for discussions, once they veered off topics of his interest. As a matter of fact, Glor, vorondanya, pay attention, please. When we don’t pay attention to Elladan and the alchemists, we always end up regretting it.

Glorfindel frowned, Name once, other than the siege, and surely they’d not do something like that again without prior notice…..

Elrond suppressed a smile, The great spider incident, though that was in Greenwood. The Ice Horse incident. The …

Glorfindel waved Elrond to silence, startling some of the elves who did not know they had been conversing, and paused to glare at Elladan, who inched closer to Melpomaen. But Glorfindel did pay closer attention, for the rest of the meeting.

As the meeting concluded, Moicasion approached Elrond, “My Lord, if I may have a moment of your time?”

Motioning for Erestor and Glorfindel to join him, Elrond agreed, “Of course, Mo. We can discuss this in my office.”

Melpomaen and the twins observed this, Melpomaen with a profound sense of relief that Elrond had agreed to trust someone else. Moicasion had a fine enough hand for a healer, and might well be willing to assist with some of Elrond’s confidential correspondence. Melpomaen looked with some sympathy to his gwedyr, who he knew were staying to speak with their Adar, after. “Unless you want me to stay, I’ve work to do for your Adar, and my Adar, and the two of you.” Melpomaen told them gently.

Elrohir blinked. “For us?” He asked, confused.

“Your new inks and scrolls will not order themselves, Elrohir.” Melpomaen pointed out good-humoredly, “And I need to correspond with the blacksmith’s guild in Minas Tirith, the swordsmiths in Dol Amroth, and the dwarven smiths in Erebor, on your behalf, concerning the changes to armor and offensive weaponry that you think would be effective against the new curved blades some of the orcs are carrying.”

“Oh, and don’t forget to order those chemicals we spoke of.” Elladan added. “I need a better accelerant- one that can be timed more exactly.”

Elrohir looked at his twin incredulously We have not yet finished paying our loved ones for the last time you wanted to set something large on fire, and here you are planning to do it again?

Elladan wiggled a finger, indicating “No,” before continuing in osanwe, I want to do it better, gwanur. To be able to, at least. Maybe they’re right, and we should not have set those orcs on fire. Maybe the situation was not yet that desperate….I am not sure. I do not regret the price we must pay, if it saved even one of the Dunedain who would have died over this winter and next spring, with the orcs unabashed. Images passed between the twins of Lord Dirhael, slowing down in his increasing age. Of the new spymaster, Captain Oskari, earnest and true, who had taken on a job he was unsuited for, because the Dunedain had lost their young spymaster when they lost their young chieftain. And of trainee Magordan, so young and promising. Perhaps it had been worth it, after all, Elrohir considered. And even it wasn’t, Elladan continued, What if we need to set something on fire and blow it up at a set time, someday? Or one of the Dunedain rangers does? Its a worthwhile line of inquiry, gwanur.

Elrohir sighed, and almost shrugged before he caught himself. Lord Elrond was in the room again, bidding farewell to Mo and Erestor. And Elrond viewed shrugging as vulgar, the non-verbal equivalent of a grammatical error. Elrohir didn’t fear his father, but there was no need, at this particular moment, to annoy Elrond any more than necessary. You win. He told Elladan, following it with, but don’t mention it to Ada or Glor until later, if you can help it.

Ellaan rolled his eyes. I’m not an idiot.

Mel chuckled, lending weight to Elrohir’s theory that sometimes, their gwador heard them just fine, no matter how they communicated.

Then the twins were alone with their father and their Captain.

“I’ll wait for you two in my office, Lieutenants.” Glorfindel cautioned his unhappy former students, pausing to embrace them again. “I am glad you are home safely.” The Captain assured the talented younger warriors who were like his own great-grandsons, stroking Elrohir’s soft cheek, and smoothing the dark flyaway strands which always seemed to escape from Elladan’s warrior’s braids, but never from Elrohir’s.

Elrohir stepped on his brother’s foot before Elladan could ask “Glor” to please show his welcome by not blistering their backsides. Captain Glorfindel had been known to add extra strokes for malingering and attempting to avoid punishments.

When they were alone, Lord Elrond raised a brow at his sons. “Well, ionnath-nin? Swinging over a watery chasm after setting a boat full of orcs on fire? Was that really the best way to go about encouraging them not to return?”

Elladan sighed, and side-stepped Elrohir’s foot, which was again aiming for his twin’s.

Elrohir gave his father a contrite glance, before saying. “We were very frustrated, Ada. But we should have come up with a …less reckless plan, you are right.”

“Or at least out-waited the down-draft.” Elladan commented honestly, prompting a sigh of aggravation from their father, and a glare from his brother. “Oops.” added Elladan. “Sorry, Ada, I did not mean to mislead you, or give you more information than you need, and sometimes it is a fine line.”

“One on which you should always err on the side of more information.” Elrond advised gently, arising from his seat behind the desk to embrace both twins, still basking in the joy of having them home, safe, again.

“That’s not what you said after we came up with those chemicals to hurl at the Witch-King during the siege, Ada.” Elladan commented, dancing eyes alight.

“True enough, Elladan. But when your safety or your twin’s is at issue, I would prefer to know more rather than less, hmm?” Their father clarified, looking with pleasure at his handsome, capable sons, and regretful that he must take them to task. But determined that they would learn to value their own safety, even if it meant he must belabor the point on their poor backsides throughout all of the ages of time. “Are either of you in any doubt as to why I am about to call you to account?”

The twins shook their heads sadly. “No, Ada.” Elrohir answered for both of them.

“For recklessness in the fireboat incident.” Elladan clarified.

“That, and for riding throguh the pass though the snows had already started. You both know better, ionnath-nin. Whole armies have been lost in these mountains in winter.” Elrond himself had in fact once arranged for that to be so, during the times Imladris had been under siege.

“But we know these mountains, Ada.” Elrohir protested.

“Besides, are you not happy to have us home for Yule?” Elladan added.

Elrond pulled his oldest children close to him again, pressing a kiss to each of their brows. “Of course I am. We all are. But I would rather have had you winter again with the Dunedain, and missed you terribly for another season, then had you risk your lives to be home by Yule. Deliriously happy though I am to have you both home with me.”

“And you are going to punish us for that?” Elladan observed in unhappy surprise. “Ada, that is not logical.” He complained, before bargaining “Besides, Captain the Lord Dirhael already birched us for the fireboat incident, so perhaps we could just… no, no I suppose not.” Elladan concluded sadly, at his father’s raised eyebrow.

“I am glad that Dirhael took you to task, as was his right as your commander at the time.” Elrond said gently, knowing it must have been embarrassng for the twins to be birched by the commander of the Dunedain, as they had once taught the young Dirhael when he had been a fosterling at Imladris. “But I am your father, and Glorfindel is your permanent commander, and we both get a piece of your hides, as well, ionnath-nin.”

“Your turn to go first, ‘Dan.” Elrohir commented softly. “Best to get it over with, muindor.”

Elrond nodded encouragingly. Unless one twin had been obviously more at fault for a given incident, he and Celebrian had always had them take turns in being the first to receive a punishment. Elrond had clear memories of Elros’ resentment that Elrond had always been punished second just for being the younger twin, and he had wanted to avoid that small inequity between his own twin sons. Elrond was surprised the twins remembered whose turn it was to take the unenviable position over their father’s knee first, as it had been some decades since they had last managed to upset or worry him enough to bring him to punish them in this manner. But that occasion had probably been just as memorable for them, Elrond reflected, as he opened one of his desk drawers and pulled out a replica of the paddle he had once made, long ago, at Ereinion’s order.

“Come here, Elladan.” Elrond prompted his less stoic son gently, as he took a seat on an armless chair. “It will be over soon, ion-nin.”

Elladan gave his father a wide-eyed, sad look, before gracefully walking over, loosening the ties to his green leggings, and bending over his father’s lap. Elrond put the paddle on the edge of the table and gently adjusted his son, so that Elladan’s muscular, pale bottom was well positioned for the sound spanking he was about to receive.

“Are you ready, ion-nin?” Elrond asked, resting his hand gently on his son’s backside.

Elladan always thought that was a stupid question, but he did want to have it over with, so he softly replied, “Yes,” fighting not to clench his muscles in anticipation of the first hard smack of his Ada’s hand. He did not have long to wait, Elrond quickly and firmly began expressing his strong disapproval of the twins’ recent antics, with a series of sound smacks to Elladan’s upturned bottom.

Elladan closed his gray eyes and tried to hold still, and to not cry out. Lord Elrond was a kind, understanding, and loving father, but he had a very hard hand. Which Elladan, trying to distract himself, decided made some sense. After all, his father had centuries of experience at disciplining the elves under his care, including his five children. While Andreth and even to some degree Arwen had not required as much of their famous father’s hands-on attention, he, his twin, and even their younger brother Belemir had been quite a handful. Elladan hissed and groaned a little bit as his father’s hand began its obsessive (in his opinion) focus on his sit spots. “Ada,” Elladan called out in protest, as his entire bottom already felt like it might spontaneously combust, “why… must you… be… such an… oww… overachiever… at… oww!” Elladan was very much regretting that his father was the type of elf who was determined to do everything thoroughly and well, including spank his erring sons.

“Why do you have to talk so very much?” Elrohir murmured to his brother, walking over and kneeling to clasp Elladan’s hands tightly. Elladan squeezed back, gladly, meeting Elrohir’s caring, concerned, sympathetic, amused, and loving eyes. Sometimes “big brother twin” was hard to take; other times, Elladan was glad for him. Some centuries ago, their father had stopped requiring corner time before every punishment, which generally left his sons free to comfort eachother. I always forget how much this hurts. Elladan thought to his brother, their normal communication of gestures currently unavailable, as he was twitching, wriggling, and gasping over his father’s knees. Elrohir nodded; he knew. Both twins had endured firmer punishments than being bare-bottomed like elflings over their Ada’s knee, his firm hand burnishing their buttocks until they were rosy and pleading. But there was something about this type of spanking that had them back to their elfling days, each of them.

Elrond watched his dear son’s reactions carefully, as well as the level of color showing as he spanked Elladan’s backside rhythmically, as it progressed from light pink, to a rosy pink. When Elladan’s entire bottom had reached a shade of deep pink, and his brave knight errant son of many centuries had begun whimpering and squirming, Elrond paused. “It is time for the paddle, ion-nin. Six swats; that is all. I know you still have your captain to face.”

Elladan groaned at that reminder, but managed to keep from crying aloud as the paddle impacted on first his right buttock, then his left, then smacked down in the middle of his backside.

As Elrond prepared to finish this unpleasant task as quickly as possible, he reminded his son lovingly, “I do not think less of either of you for crying out. I know this hurts – I must show you that I feel your actions were unacceptable, but I do not begrudge either of you a reaction.” Elladan nodded tensely, and Elrond brought the paddle down, firmly, on each of his son’s sit spots, and once on the under-curve of Elladan’s red backside.

Elladan yelped loudly at the last. Elrond gently righted his son’s clothing, and pulled the younger twin into his arms, to comfort him, careful not to put Elladan’s sore bottom in contact with anything. “Sorry, Ada, sorry.” Elladan said sincerely, in between sniffles.

Gently pressing a kiss to his son’s forehead, Elrond said gently, “You are forgiven, ion-nin, of course, but please, learn to have greater care of your own safety, hmm? You and your twin will be my death through worrying over you, ‘else.”

Elrohir forbore to say that this particular plan had been all Elladan’s idea, in part because the twins did not tattle on eachother, and in part because he had thought it a good one, at the time. After a few more moments of comforting his sore, sorry, and teary-eyed brother, his father stood Elladan gently on his feet, and bade Elrohir approach him. Elrohir did so, reluctantly but obediently doffing his leggings, and taking Elladan’s former position over his father’s knees. Elladan, kneeling carefully, took Elrohir’s hands in his own, though Elrohir did not need the comfort, yet. But Elrohir did not reject his twin’s kind gesture. Elladan was more…tactile, of a elf, than he. Sometimes it annoyed Elrohir. But not now. Neither twin liked having pushed their father to this extreme, and Elrohir would not push his twin away at a time that was so difficult for both of them.

Elrond settled Elrohir over his lap, pulling up his son’s gray tunic. “Are you ready, ion-nin?” Elrond asked his heir.

“Aye, Ada.” Elrohir said, sighing. He did not wince at all as his father’s hand began falling firmly on his backside. He barely gasped, even when Elrond’s hard hand attended to his sit-spots.

Elrond spanked Elrohir just as he had Elladan, well attuned to his son’s state of mind, and careful not to be too firm, as he knew his boys still had Glorfindel to answer to. Elrond stopped spanking Elrohir when his heir’s bottom and undercurves reached the same deep pink shade as Elladan’s had been, rather than waiting for some further reaction from his eldest. Elrohir was a stoic, it was just how he was. He did not show hurt or emotion easily, and it required a much harsher punishment than his father was usually willing to give to the twins, or great guilt, for him to do more than hiss or gasp in reaction. Elrond warned his son, then applied the paddle exactly as he had with Elladan. And Elrohir did hiss, and hold his brother’s hands more tightly, but little more.

“All over, ion-nin, from me.” Elrond soothed, offering Elrohir aid to stand. His elder son liked to right his own clothing and return to his feet immediately after a punishment, so Elrond let him, before offering an embrace, which Elrohir accepted. “I forgive you, and I love you.” Elrond crooned to his eldest son, “Please do not worry me so again.”

“I…will try very hard not to, Ada.” Elrohir assured him. After a few moments, Elrond pulled Elladan into his arms as well. “Now, do I have to walk you to your Captain’s office for your punishment with him, as I did when you were elfling trainees?” The Lord gently teased his grown sons.

Elrohir chuckled a bit in memory of what fools they had been as elflings.. As if disappearing ever made things easier. “Nay, Ada.”

Elladan agreed, “I don’t know any elf who would be foolish enough to hide from the Captain at this kind of time. Well, more than twice. Or was it three times?” Elladan pondered that, having trouble remembering their elflinghood folly, after so much time.

Elrond chuckled, and embraced his sons a final time, before they left his office to find their Captain. Elrond had complete confidence that Glorfindel would not be too firm with his beloved sons, though he knew from personal experience that the Captain had a very hard hand, and that Glorfindel was not opposed to using more, to apply a lesson, if he felt it necessary.

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I really enjoyed this fic. I stumbled across it completely by accident when looking for a translation for “mellon muin nin” (which incidentally I read in another of your fics) The first chapter was my favorite because Faramir was in it. I LOVE your characterization of Faramir. I have been reading all your stories that contain Faramir over and over since I first discovered them last week.

One thing I think that you could do to make them better is to translate any elvish you use at the end of your chapters or at least put a glossary of terms somewhere. I don’t know about your other readers but I am not all that familiar with elvish. I can recognize a very few words and even those confuse me when they are used outside of the context with which I am familiar. I really want to know what all those terms of endearment mean exactly. :) Other than that, I love your stories and I love that you update so often! I can’t wait to read the rest of your series. (especially the stories about Faramir)

— firstar28    3 September 2011, 03:39    #

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