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Brotherly Love (PG-13) Print

Written by Susana and Kaylee

19 January 2011 | 14479 words

Title: Brotherly Love
Series: Desperate Hours AU
Author: Susana, co-written with Kaylee.
Feedback: Please use the form below
Rating: PG-13
Warning: AU; Spanking.
Disclaimer: All characters and everything else belong to Tolkien, this is just written for fun.

Summary: Fourteen year old Eldarion learns that sometimes it takes an older brother’s help to put mistakes in the proper perspective, something his Daerada Elrond would quite agree with.

Beta: Thanks to Kaylee for being very diligent (although not an Assyrian) about helping me with ME history, Sindarin, and Quenya, and reading over parts of this and catching my mistakes. Thanks to Holly and Lou and others, who’ve written great stories about Elrond and his family, which led me to ask, so what was Elrond like, as a young half-elf?

A/N: This story is set in Fourth Age (FO.) 14, a year before “Likely Lads” and the “Frodo Baggins Day” stories. Eldarion is almost 15 in this story.

For the parts set on the Isle of Balar, I am having Elrond and his twin and their family use mostly Quenya terms of endearment. I think the twins would have spoken both Sindarin and Quenya fluently, as their parents were a Prince of Gondolin and a Princess of Doriath, respectively. But Ereinion, I suspect, would have used the Quenya terms with his guardian, and so the twins, coming into Cirdan’s and Ereinion’s household, also would have used the Quenya.

Brotherly Love

Eldarion, Crown Prince of Gondor and Arnor, grinned as he walked arm in arm through Minas Tirith with his good friend Lord Veantur. Veantur had graduated from the academy just yesterday. He and his year-mates had invited Eldarion, and some of the other younger students who’d been skilled enough to join the seniors in weapons classes, to join the new graduates in one of the lower-level gardens to celebrate with an impromptu party. Eldarion felt very …free. It felt good to walk through the streets of the city, for once unhindered by guards or even well-meaning family. Good to feel included like any other teenager, to be offered ale and included in the revelry of his fellow cadets. Well, now they were officers, mostly. And three of the most sober had accompanied Eldarion and Veantur from the party to a garden on the fourth level of the city.

Veantur directed, “Now you lot wait here. I’m going to see this cadet back to his house safely, and then I’ll rejoin you.”

The young Lord Baranor, a son of Lord Golasgil of Anfalas, waved them off merrily. “Thanks for risking the wrath of Adar to come, ‘Darion. See you next week!” Baranor called, winking at his Prince and friend. Baranor and Eldarion were both supposed to have been at what even Faramir had expected would be a very boring reception, that night. And Eldarion’s brother was almost never bored, by anything, no matter how tedious. The rest of their family had gone ahead to Emyn Arnen last week, so it was just Eldarion’s parents and his brother. Which was a little quiet, but kind’ve nice for a change. Except that it should have meant missing this party, which Eldarion had decided he simply wasn’t going to do.

Eldarion waved cheerfully to Baranor, but sighed when he and Veantur were alone, and Veantur was walking with him up through the hidden tunnels to a garden in the House of Healing.

“We are glad you came, ‘Darion. But I hope you don’t get into trouble for it.” Veantur offered, hearing the sigh and guessing at its cause.

Eldarion smiled at his friend. “You’ve got to do the things that make life worth living, sometimes. No matter what the risk is.”

Veantur laughed ruefully. “You sound like my Adar. Well, replace, “sometimes” with “at all times,” and “no matter what the risk is,” with “the more risk, the more fun!”

Eldarion had to laugh at that. It was very true; Lord Telemnar of the Green Hills, the former Admiral, lived up to every iota of his larger-than-life reputation. Knowing that Telemnar was also a grandson of Prince Angelimir of Dol Amroth (if an illegitimate one) helped to explain some of the fire that occasionally sparked from Eldarion’s controlled, quiet elder brother, and from Uncle Imrahil. Veantur, fortunately for Eldarion’s Adar’s peace of mind (as Eldarion was good friends with Telemnar’s son) took more after his sensible mother, Lady Lindorie. Aragorn was quite fond of Telemnar, but the thought of a young Telemnar installed in the royal nursery with his children (as Lindorie was often a Lady-in-Waiting to Arwen), had at first caused him some concern. But it had usually been Eldarion or Theodwyn leading Veantur into mischief, not the other way around.

“Be well, tithen-gwador.” Veantur said, grasping Eldarion’s arm and pulling him into a firm hug. “I’ll see you on the morrow, and in just a few years, it will be you, graduating.” Veantur was only a year older than Eldarion, and he was actually bound for a second education as a naval cadet, rather than the field. But he had done well at the army academy and passed all of the tests required for graduation, so he was counted as a graduate, now, though he would be a student warrior for several years yet.

“Can’t happen soon enough for me.” Eldarion agreed aloud, though secretly, he rather liked being a cadet. In a few years he would be ready to graduate, he thought, but he wasn’t now. Eldarion already had a lot of responsibilities, he didn’t really feel that he needed more just yet. The Crown Prince was looking forward to having Elboron at the academy with him starting next year, though he thought it was rather a shame that he couldn’t have Theodwyn, too.

After bidding Veantur farewell, Eldarion moved quietly through the garden of the House of Healing, toward the tunnel that led to the hallway adjoining the royal wing in the Citadel. The same tunnel he’d once followed a ghost through when he was a small child, only to find his brother and a long-dead Steward, at the end.1 Eldarion smiled at the memory, his attention momentarily distracted from watching his surroundings. In a split second, he was on the ground, looking up into a familiar, laughing face.

“Oof!” Eldarion wheezed. “Get off, Uncle ‘Roh!”

Elrohir pressed more of his weight onto his teenage nephew’s chest. “Now, now, ‘Dari-nin, what do we say when we want someone to do as we ask?” The laughing elven Lord teased.

“Please.” Eldarion managed, adding “You jerk!,” after Elrohir had released him.

Elrohir laughed again. “And hello and fine evening to you, too, nephew.”

Eldarion glared at his uncle mildly as he tried to wipe the grass stains off his clothing. He hadn’t had much to drink, so he didn’t smell of ale. But no one could miss the grass stains. “Did you have to pounce me?” He asked his uncle aggrievedly.

“Yes, Eldarion, I did.” Elrohir replied, half-serious. “You can’t let your guard down, even when “safety,” Elrohir gestured towards the hidden entrance to the tunnel, “is in sight. Better you learn that here in this pleasant garden at twilight, than someday in battle with a blade to your throat.”

Well, Eldarion couldn’t argue with that. “I suppose. Thanks, I guess.” As the adrenaline faded, realization set in, and Eldarion’s shoulders slumped as his hopes sank. “Was I missed?”

Elrohir’s lips twitched into another smile, “Yes, and no. Your parents noted your absence. Your brother told them he thought you were studying. Then Faramir asked me to make sure you made it home safely.”

Eldarion relaxed a little and shook his head. “I’m still going to be in trouble.”

Elrohir looked at his nephew, the normally diligent crown prince, with sympathy. “I can take care of it, if you would prefer, ‘Darion.” He offered kindly.

Eldarion winced, but nodded gratefully. Uncle Elrohir had a harder hand than Uncle Elladan or Ada, but being out of the citadel without leave or guard was a particular pet peeve of ‘Darion’s Ada’s. And if Uncle Elrohir had already dealt with the matter, Eldarion knew his Ada would let him off with a few stern words. Ada didn’t believe in multiple punishments unless the offense had been “very serious.” Eldarion wasn’t sure what, exactly, that entailed, and rather hoped not to find out.

Elrohir put a kind arm around his nephew’s shoulders, and to Eldarion’s surprise led him not into the royal apartments within the Citadel, but rather to a little-used practice yard in an out of the way courtyard. “Uncle ‘Roh?” Eldarion questioned, confused.

“I thought we could see how fast you can run sprints, after drinking spirits tonight.” Elrohir said with a fierce grin.

“Umm… I didn’t drink much, actually.” Eldarion said, confused. “Is this my punishment?”

“Yes, nephew.” Elrohir said with a small iota of sympathy, but more annoying amusement, “The sprints, and the obstacle course I’m about to make up for you, and perhaps learning a few new hand-to-hand counter moves. So that if someone else pounces you, as I did tonight, you know what you should do.”

Eldarion groaned, but dutifully sprinted, maneuvered, and wrestled as Elrohir directed. Afterward, his uncle did lead Eldarion back to his rooms within the Royal Apartments, but just to help him bathe and dress for bed.

“Can I wait and tell Ada in the morning?” Eldarion asked his uncle after they had both bathed, when Elrohir was rubbing liniment into Eldarion’s abused muscles, which were sore from the impromptu training session. As exacting a tutor of the fighting arts as his Uncle was, Eldarion knew he had lucked out. Aragorn was a kind and loving father, but he hated when his children broke this particular rule, and would have been much stricter about punishing Eldarion for going on a walk-about.

“If you wish.” Elrohir agreed good-naturedly, well aware his baby brother the King would be in a poor mood after sitting through the entire reception Eldarion’s adventure had given Elrohir a welcome excuse to abandon. “Though in my opinion, your Adar should not be such a… um.”

Eldarion wiggled around so that he could look to his Uncle in mute appeal, “Such a what, Uncle ‘Roh?” He asked innocently.

“No.” Elrohir replied immediately, a mock stern expression on his face, “I am not teaching you yet another swear-word, and having my baby sister your mother glare at me for a month.” Then his expression softened, and he said “Ai, ‘Dari-nin, the number of times your father played hooky as a child…”

Faramir, entering the room quietly, still dressed in his finery from the reception, added in agreement, “It was not so great a mistake, muindor-dithen, this going to enjoy an evening with your friends.” Faramir sat down beside his night-shirt clad brother on Eldarion’s bed, and put an arm around his brother’s slumped shoulders.

“You hardly ever get caught.” ‘Darion pointed out with some asperity, though he welcomed Faramir’s arm and aid, “And when you do, its always for doing something noble and brave as well as stupid and dangerous.”

“That’s not always true,” Faramir protested, incredulous that Eldarion would even think that. “Tonight, for instance, I told our parents I thought you might need help with your task for the evening. I let them assume I meant studying, but its really just because I would rather spend time with you two than endure another moment of that reception.” Faramir was glad to help Eldarion stay out of trouble as Boromir had once helped him, though there was less need. Aragorn would have been upset that Eldarion was missing only because he would have been worried. And he would have calmed himself, before punishing ‘Darion. And Aragorn would never be cruel, just… it had been better, to let Elrohir deal with this. So that Aragorn didn’t have to feel bad about overreacting and yelling at Eldarion, and Eldarion didn’t have to get yelled at, in addition to getting punished. And so Aragorn didn’t have to feel like a hypocrite, as well, Faramir noted to himself.

Elrohir smirked. “Ithilien, a wedding, a wager, a many-times great-grandmother, and trolls.” He tossed in, “You only got in trouble that time, Faramir-nin, because you were so very incredibly drunk.”

Faramir made a face at their uncle, and Eldarion chuckled a little. “Well, there was that.” The Crown Prince noted.

“There have been other instances, as well.” Elrohir added, “When Elladan or I played the caring uncle for your own big brother, keeping him out of trouble with our baby brother your father.”

Faramir nodded, with a grateful smile to Elrohir, before telling Eldarion “In fact, muindor-laes-nin, your Daerada Elrond had his own big brother, who tried his very best to keep his twin baby brothers out of trouble.”

F.A. Year 555, in the Home of Aran Ereinion on the Isle of Balar.

The War of Wrath had been raging for ten years. Elros and Elrond Earendilion were twenty three years old, and more than ready, in their opinion, to join the fight. After all, twenty year old humans were fighting, and weren’t the twins half-human?

Sadly for the twins, their foster father Cirdan disagreed with them. Though he had complimented them on their well-thought out and persuasively presented arguments. Then Elros had thrown an inkwell at Cirdan’s favorite portrait. Elrond’s twin had been that angered at the condescension he thought he had heard in their guardian’s voice. The day had deteriorated from there, and the week hadn’t been much better.

In a way, it was a real shame, Elrond thought. This was the first time they’d really seen Cirdan, or Ereinion, who was like a brother to them, in several years. Both had been very busy commanding the elven soldiers of Middle Earth, and coordinating with great-uncle the Aran Arafinwe, the commander of the Noldor Elves who had come with the host of the Valar, and with great-uncle the Prince Ingwion, the commander of the Vanyar elves, as well as with Herald Eonwe, the overall Commander of the Host of the Valar and of all of the elves of Middle Earth and the humans of the Edain who were their allies.

The first opportunity the twins had a chance to spend any appreciable time with their foster-father and brother in months, and all the twins had managed to do was argue with them, practically non-stop over the last few days. In the end, the twins had submitted a petition to the Aran’s council, like any other elves, asking to be permitted to join the army.

Elrond grimaced as he overheard the results of that petition, that he and his twin were still to stay “safe” on the Isle of Balar. He was upset, and he knew Elros would be even more upset.

The twins were squeezed into a broom closet near the council chamber, where they could hear everything the advisors said. As long as they were quiet, and whispered, Elros and Elrond could converse, and not be overheard by anyone official. They were supposed to be doing homework in their rooms. It was one of the current injustices in the twins’ lives, that they had to spend six or seven hours a day in lessons, and were only permitted to do useful things for two or three hours.
Elros grimaced, too, reading from the look on his brother’s face that the news was not good. “They’re not letting us go?” he whispered, feeling rather more like screaming.

Elrond shook his head, sighing. “No. More lessons, as if we were elflings, rather than half-grown peredhil.

Elros looked ready to throw another ink bottle, or maybe kick a wall. Which would be inopportune, in Elrond’s opinion. Uncle Cirdan had threatened to spank the twins with his ruler, if he caught them eavesdropping again. Elrond hastily tried to soothe his brother, “Well, at least we can keep working with the shipwrights and healers.” Elrond pointed out consolingly.

Elros made a face, and whispered a fulminating curse. “Only for three hours a day. As if we need the time for lessons… we’re already finished with everything useful.”

Elrond nodded. He’d never disliked their lessons as much as Elros had when they were younger, but even Elrond had to admit that he wasn’t sure how literature would be useful in defeating Morgoth. If anything could be presented as potentially useful… the twins had pretty much already learned it. They were nothing if not determined to help. They’d lost their parents and everyone they knew from their first home to this struggle. There was nothing that mattered more to them, than winning this war. Well, nothing except one another, and their absent parents, and their normally-absent foster family. “Maybe they’ll let us go next year.” Elrond said softly.

Elros made a foul gesture. “Not bloody likely, gwanur. But that’s the end of it, for now. This was our last gambit, for this year. We’re not big enough to pass as grown, and we’re cursedly notable. There’s not an elven or human commander on Arda who wouldn’t pat on us on the head and send us home to Uncle Cirdan. We might as well go back and read about poetry. As if anyone cares.”

Elrond sort of cared, but he’d infinitely rather be doing something useful. He just nodded, quietly furious, whereas Elros was crackling with fury.

Elrond followed Elros out of the broom closet, his eyes widening as they ran into Ereinion, coming through a passageway from the kitchen. Part of Elrond noted inanely that Ereinion wasn’t supposed to use the secret passages for anything but emergencies, and that he didn’t think getting a cup of tea counted. But most of Elrond knew they were in more trouble than that.

Ereinion lifted an eyebrow at Elrond and Elros. “And just what were you two doing in a broom closet?” He asked in confused amusement, purposely keeping his tone light. Elrond had snapped at him over the breakfast table this morning, and Elros had adopted a policy of not speaking to either Cirdan or Ereinion if he could help it, since talking just got him into trouble. Ereinion knew his foster-brothers hated being left behind, and sympathized with them. More, as the twins elder foster-brother, Ereinion knew that the twins’ role as mascots, of a sort, to the Host of the Valar, including elves who were horrified by the reality of war and wanted to meet the twin sons of Elwing “just to remember what we’re fighting for,” was draining on them. To his baby brothers’ great credit, they met with those elves graciously and kindly. They were doing well in their other lessons (even Elros), and with their many other responsibilities. Ereinion, as well as Cirdan, was proud of them both, and just wanted to know what they could do to defuse the tension in their household, that had the twins back to nearly pre-attempt-to-sail-away hostility. Well, on and off. They’d been very happy to see Ereinion and Cirdan, until Cirdan told them (understandably, in Ereinion’s opinion) that there was no way twenty-three year old half-elves were getting to go to war, even if they looked more like young teenaged humans than twenty-three year old elflings.

Elrond blinked at Ereinion’s question, then looked to his brother. They hadn’t been doing… well, what Nallos and that Laiquendi elleth had been doing in the closet, last year. If that was what Ereinion meant about being in the closet… and Ereinion might not know that one could hear the King and his advisors, from the closet.
Elros frowned, throttling his temper back. “Nothing really, Ereinion. We just wanted to have a look.” He explained.

Elros sighed as Ereinion’s eyebrows rose skeptically, “It’s a broom closet.” Their elder foster-brother pointed out with some asperity, wondering why Elros had gone from sulking and snappish that morning into sweetly persuasive. It made Ereinion more than a bit suspicious.

“A haunted broom closet, Ereinion,” Elrond suggested, creativity striking him.

“Oh, really.” Ereinion commented skeptically, well –accustomed to Elrond’s creative tale-telling, when he and Elros had been caught at something they weren’t supposed to be doing. Ereinion suspected the twins were again up to something, but he had no idea what.

“You can hear voices when you’re inside it.” Elros added persuasively, putting his temper aside and hoping that maybe the meeting had adjourned, and the voices would be those of strange elves from the entry hall, which he and Elrond could legitimately claim was at least an odd phenomenon. Rather than having it be apparent that they had been purposely eavesdropping on official business, which they’d been told repeatedly not to do.

Ereinion frowned, but found himself somewhat convinced. Elros was quite charismatic, and believable when he lied. “Where are you hearing these ridiculous tales from?” Ereinion asked his cousins.

Elrond extemporized, “Umm… the Edain?”

“Well, let the Edain talk about haunted broom closets all they want,” Ereinion said in exasperation, “we haven’t got one, and it’s silly of you to go exploring broom closets to check.” He thought to himself it was a very good thing his little kinsmen were being kept out of the fighting, if they were going to shut themselves in broom closets to check for ghosts.

“Yes, Ereinion.” Elrond agreed, speaking again before his twin, which was a bit abnormal for him but he wanted to encourage Ereinion to drop the issue. Unfortunately for the twins, just then, cousin the Lord Amdir took issue with something Uncle the Lord Celeborn had said, and the voices sounded quite clearly, even out of the closet.

“Voices in the closet,” Ereinion repeated, his voice studiedly level. “I see.”

Elrond winced. Cirdan had made it very clear to them that he would not tolerate any more eavesdropping.

Elros crossed his arms, ready to fight this issue out with Ereinion. Not that he was really mad at Ereinion so much as Cirdan, but Ereinion was here, now.

“We’re sorry, Ereinion.” Elrond offered softly, kicking his brother’s foot lightly. Play along, Elros. He pleaded. I know you’re angry. Hold onto your temper, if you can.
With great effort, Elros kept his tone somewhat penitent, rather than confrontational. “Very sorry, Ereinion,” Elros added quietly. And he was. Sorry that Cirdan and Ereinion were being stupid. If the twins were just allowed to help as they should be, then they wouldn’t have to eaves drop.

Ereinion considered them both, his own arms folded, and fixed them with an extremely disbelieving look. “Oh, you are, are you? Sorry you got caught, little ones?” The twins had recently decided that being called “elflings” was an insult to them, as was being called children. They demanded to be referred to as “half-elves,” “peredhel,” or “peratani,” at all times, and looked hurt when Cirdan or Ereinion forgot. Since calling them whatever they wanted to be called was something Ereinion could do for them, unlike letting them join his army at such a young age, he was trying very hard to remember. So, his brothers were “pityahannor,” or “tithen-muindyr,” or “my little ones,” but not, anymore, “my elflings.”

“Yes.” Elrond offered honestly, “But also sorry we disappointed you, and Uncle Cirdan. We just… they were talking about us, Ereinion. We just wanted to know what they were deciding about us.” Elrond and Elros and Ereinion all three had similar ideas about justice; Elrond hoped this argument would appeal to Ereinion.

It seemed to, as his expression softened a little. Still, Ereinion was not pleased. “You know what Atarinya said about the eavesdropping,” Ereinion said sternly.

Elros looked like he wanted to throw an inkwell again. Elrond stepped on his twin’s foot, and spoke again. Ereinion didn’t look too surprised, as sometimes Elrond would do all of the talking, when the twins were trying to get out of trouble.

Elrond nodded unhappily in answer to Ereinion’s question. “Uncle Cirdan said he would, umm,” Elrond blushed, “spank us with the ruler, since his hand was not getting the lesson across.” Elrond sighed. “Please, Ereinion, you and he only just got back… and you have to leave again soon, and we’re not to be allowed to go with you. Please don’t tell Uncle Cirdan?”

Ereinion sighed, too. He loved his little brothers, and his Atar might be annoyed that Ereinion had stepped in, but Ereinion couldn’t say no, when Elrond framed the question like that, and looked at Ereinion so appealingly. Still, Ereinion was not a complete pushover. “Only if I take care of your punishment myself,” Ereinion told the twins firmly.

Elrond looked to his brother, I think we should say yes. Ereinion isn’t as mad as Uncle Cirdan, about the eavesdropping.

Elros shook his head. No, he’s just our brother, not our guardian. He doesn’t have the right. And they should just let us go with them, so this is all their fault, anyway.

Elrond frowned. You said it yourself. We’re not going to win the going –to-war –this-year-thing. Ereinion’s just annoyed, not mad. And he feels a little sorry for us. Uncle Cirdan is mad, about the eavesdropping. I don’t want a harder spanking. Let’s act like we’re sorry about the eavesdropping, and let Ereinion deal with it.
Elros took a deep breath. He was tired of being told no, and tired of being pushed around by authority figures, however much loved, who had been far away for most of the last few years, while he and Elrond had been stuck here, worrying over them. So he tried to bargain with Ereinion. “How about instead, hanonya,” He emphasized the term of endearment. Ereinion was their brother, not their guardian. “You don’t tell Uncle Cirdan about the eavesdropping, and we don’t tell him you were using the tunnel to get yourself a snack?”

Ereinion was their brother, but he was their much elder brother, the better part of a century older. And any older brother would have taken offense to such a blatant attempt at manipulation by a younger brother. Especially since Ereinion did not, particularly, want another lecture on walking the full distance from the kitchen. Not that Cirdan was likely to lecture him in front of the twins, and it certainly wouldn’t be more than a lecture, but still. Elros knew exactly how to annoy Ereinion, he had for years, and Ereinion rose to the bait. “Either Atarinya spanks you, or I do.”
Elrond pleaded, “Ereinion, its just not fair. They were talking about US. We’re twenty three years old. We’re old enough to go with you, we don’t need decisions made for us as if we were very small children.”

Ereinion frowned, though a bit of sympathy crept into his expression “You are not grown up, Elrond,” he pointed out. “You are not fully Mortal, so that argument does not carry.”

Elros scowled. “We know we’re not. We’re not fully Elven either, so you can stop treating us like babies. You don’t have the right to punish us, Ereinion.”

Elrond winced, wishing Elros had managed to hold onto his temper just a bit longer. Bargaining with Ereinion was one thing, outright defiance was another. We are going to get it, now, hanonya. He griped to Elros, while warily watching Ereinion for his reaction. Ereinion was their King, as well as their foster-brother. And saying things like that to the King was a bad thing, Elrond knew.

Ereinion raised an eyebrow at Elros’ words. “I see, Elros. Well then, I have no intention of punishing you. Elrond? You may choose differently from your twin, if you will.”

Elrond shook his head sadly. He would have preferred to have Ereinion spank them, but he would follow Elros’ lead.

Ereinion nodded formally. “Very well then,” he said, adopting a tone he very rarely used with the twins, though he had been inching toward it ever since Elros defied him. “We will not interfere with thy punishment, Elrond Earendilion, nor with thine, Elros Earendilion, fosterlings of Lord Cirdan. We will leave ye in the care of Lord Cirdan. Await his coming in your chambers.” It was not a request, and even Elros winced.

Elrond gasped. He knew what they were supposed to say. “Yes, Aranya.” He said softly, nudging the equally shocked Elros. Both twins bowed, as Ereinion was speaking to them as Aran, not their elder foster-brother.

“Yes, Aranya,” Elros replied, very much subdued.

Then Elrond seized his twin’s hand, and hoped that they had not forfeited their foster brother’s regard, over this whole ridiculous situation.

As the twins departed, obviously shocked and upset, Ereinion closed his eyes and sighed. He had hated having to do that, but he felt like Elros had left him literally no choice.

Ereinion walked over to the door of the council chamber and knocked briskly, keeping his composure as best he could.

Cirdan looked up with a gentle smile for his young King and foster-son, despite his recent contretemps with Amdir. “What kept you, yonya?” He asked Ereinion, already tensing at the troubled set to his fosterling’s shoulders. No one else in the room noticed, but Cirdan loved Ereinion as if Ereinion had been born to him, and knew all of his moods and expressions.

“We desire a private audience with Our Lord Cirdan,” Ereinion said quietly, causing Amdir and several of the other elves to start in surprise.
Cirdan’s eyes widened ever so slightly. “Of course, Aranya.” He answered with great respect, “My Lords, if you will excuse us.” Ereinion’s other advisors filed out, leaving Cirdan with his oldest fosterling and beloved young King.

As soon as Ereinion was sure they were gone, he gave Cirdan a stricken look. “Elros and Elrond…” Exhaling, he related the tale, finishing with what Elros had said to him.

Cirdan heaved an exasperated sigh. “I know they are frustrated, but that is beyond tolerable. You did well, yonya. Do not worry,” Cirdan’s voice was very stern, “I will deal with the twins, and have them apologize to you.”

“Thank you, Atto,” Ereinion said quietly. “I will have to reassure them, too, that they have not lost my love. I hate having to be their King, not their brother or cousin.”

‘I know, yonya.” Cirdan soothed, sighing again, and offering his son an embrace. “But they must learn to behave more responsibly, as a King’s close kinsmen, and given their special status amongst our people. You did exactly as you should, and we will teach them to behave as they should.” Cirdan loved the twins dearly, and he was glad they felt comfortable enough with him and Ereinion to speak their minds, but there were most certainly moments when Cirdan thought Celeborn had been right, all those years ago. Elrond and Elros were cuter when you didn’t know what they were thinking.

Ereinion nodded unhappily, frustrated with the situation. He had missed the twins, and always looked forward to their letters, to the chess games they were playing by mail. But he and the twins had fought constantly, these past few days, and now he had been instrumental in getting them into more trouble.

Cirdan stroked his grown elfling’s dark hair, and offered, “You may witness their spanking, if you wish. Or I shall witness it, and hand you my ruler with which to apply this lesson, so that they know that their older brother and King has every authority over them, and that eavesdropping shall not be tolerated.”

“I shall witness it, if that is well with you, Atarinya,” Ereinion deferred. He didn’t like to cause his brothers pain, but he rather suspected they would need his support, judging by the depth of his Atar’s displeasure with the twins.

“It is well, of course, yonya.” Cirdan assured, “Ai, your little brothers. If they were but a handful of years older, I would use a paddle. I have warned them and warned them about eavesdropping.”

“They were trying to tell me how grown up they were,” Ereinion said, shaking his head in disbelief.
Cirdan rolled his eyes and asked the Valar for patience. “Yes, they have been making that point with me, as well.” He told Ereinion, “Apparently, they are so grown up that they no longer require a guardian, from their perspective.” Cirdan stiffened his resolve. He would not be overly harsh with his dearly beloved twin wards, who were, after all, far from as grown up as they thought themselves. But a firm lesson was evidently needed.

Ereinion’s brow furrowed at Cirdan’s comment. “Atar,” he said carefully, “what would they do if we gave them what they thought they wanted?”

“They are entirely too resourceful for the experiment you suggest, yonya.” Cirdan admonished Ereinion gently. “Do you not recall them building a boat to sail to the undying lands when first they came here, when they still looked human children of six? A boat that, may I remind you, is still in use in the harbor for ferrying goods and persons in between larger ships?” Ereinion sighed regretfully. “Any other elflings, it would work for,” he muttered, “but the twins… Valar help us.”

“Maglor did warn me,” Cirdan said with some slight humor, before becoming more serious. “There is something else going on here, I suspect, Ereinion yonya. I may provoke Elros a bit further before I speak to them in-depth of their behavior… sometimes Elros can be forth-coming, when he loses his temper.

Shaking his head, Ereinion commented, “We should have them work out billeting arrangements with the Vanyaran elves. The twins, when they decide not to give something away, are as close-lipped as the Vanyar.”

Cirdan chuckled, but reprimanded his son gently, “Here that is fine to say, Ereinion, but don’t go complaining about our valued allies in such terms where others can hear you. Even your gwedyr. Nallos is close-lipped enough, but Drystan can lose his temper and say too much.”

“Yes, Atto.” Ereinion agreed.

“Very well. Let us go deal with the little miscreants, then.” Cirdan shook his head. “I think we had best plan on taking dinner informally, this night. I doubt your little brothers will be up to dinner in the hall.”

Elrond looked up from the bed, where he was perched. Elros was pacing, back and forth, back and forth. An unpleasant thought occurred to Elrond. “Should we… should we put ourselves in the corner, do you think?” He asked his brother softly.

“I..suppose so,” Elros said softly. He felt even worse than Elrond did. “I’m really sorry I was so rude to Ereinion. This is only part his fault. What if he doesn’t love us anymore and it’s my fault?”

Elrond went to give his brother a hug. “It will be ok, Elros.” He consoled his brother, “We’ll apologize, and they’ll forgive us. They always do.”

Elros nodded, his arms around his brother. “For as long as they’re alive to, anyway.”

The twins embraced one another, the only support that either of them knew they could absolutely count on, for a moment more. Then they went to different corners, and stood quietly for the fifteen minutes or so until they heard the sound of their door opening.

Cirdan entered the twins’ room without knocking. Normally, he would grant even the smallest of elflings that courtesy, but his young wards had behaved themselves so badly today, that his right to enter was not in question. And he did not want to give them the warning to put themselves in the corner, if they hadn’t yet. He hoped they had, as he didn’t want to add additional swats to what he was already planning to give them. Cirdan’s eyes noted approvingly that the twins had stationed themselves penitently in the corners, rather than awaiting him scowling and sullen on their beds, as they sometimes did when they felt he was being unfair.

Cirdan paused a moment. He had half expected the twins to be still completely unrepentant of their misconduct. They obviously were not, as they were proud little elves, er, half-elves, who thought they were much too old for corner-time. So he gentled his voice. “Elrond, Elros, it was very good of you both to put yourselves in the corner. I am pleased that you have shown you understand how badly you behaved this day.”

Ereinion came into the room beside Cirdan, and his eyes widened. He hadn’t expected his little brothers to have done that. He certainly hadn’t told them to go in the corner, he had only said to wait for Cirdan. They’d done the rest on their own.

Giving up his plan of inciting Elros into honesty, and keeping his tone gentle, Cirdan called, “Come here, my elflings,” to Elros and Elrond.

Ereinion hid a wince. Atto had apparently forgotten that “elflings” was now a dirty word, with the twins.

Elros lost his temper, storming out of his corner. “We are not elflings! We went to the corner as if we were children because you’re in charge, both of you. Even though it isn’t fair. Do with us whatever you want, because you will anyway, you… unmitigated tyrants!”

Cirdan counted to ten, and decided if Elros was already in a temper, he might as well learn incite the child further and see if he could learn what was really going on in the twins’ minds, before they… tried to sail away to Aman again, or convince the entire Isle of Balar that it was haunted, again, or… well, who knew really, with the twins. Promising himself he would make it up to Elros later, Cirdan said gently “I’m so very glad you’ve been working hard in your lessons to improve your vocabulary, son. Its certainly working.”

That was all it took. “I am not your son!” Elros said quietly, but fiercely, “Don’t ever call me that again. Ever. You lover of an orc.”

Elrond, who now stood beside his twin, gave Cirdan a hurt look. Their uncle ought to have known better, than to have said that to Elros. But then Elrond became worried, because Uncle Cirdan looked hurt, like someone had hit him.

Cirdan himself took a deep breath, remembering that he had incited this, and that this was just how Elros acted out. And reminding himself to have a word with Erenion, Drystan, and Nallos, as well as the twins’ arms-masters, about their language around his wards.

“Elros Earendilion!” Ereinion’s voice rang out, firm and commanding. “Apologize to your Uncle, now, pityahano.”

Elros, realizing he’d gone too far, managed a mumbled apology that Cirdan accepted with a stiff nod.

“Now.” Ereinion’s voice was low, but still commanding. “Tell me why on Arda you… and Elrond, for that matter… are acting like unmitigated and unrepentant brats. We know you love us as we love you, we know that you’re normally caring, polite young… peredhil. What is going on?” Ereinon demanded. Since he knew how to egg Elros on almost as well as Elros knew how to annoy him, Ereinion figured he was the best one to get the truth out of the twins.

Elros met his foster-brother’s eyes angrily, “You and Cirdan leave again to go back to the war in just a few weeks. There’s every likelihood that one of these times, you won’t come back. And we’ll be left alone, again. We’d rather be with you, no matter what happens. We’re ready to fight.” Elros’s anger was more or less gone by the end of that statement. His shoulders fell and he looked away, tears in his gray eyes.

Elrond embraced his twin, and looked to his guardian and older foster-brother. “Or just let us come with you to the front, and do work around the camp.” Elrond added appealingly, “I could help the healers, and Elros could help with the farriers and the carpenters and the smiths. Please, Uncle, Aranya, please don’t leave us behind again!”

Cirdan sighed, and swept all three of his foster sons into his arms. The twins resisted a moment, but then relaxed against him. “I’m sorry, my elf… children… peredhil.” He smiled gently at the twins, as they managed small smiles at his trying to call them as they had asked. “I’m sorry we must leave. But I can’t in good conscience take you two into a battle zone. You’re too young, I’m sorry. I hate being so far away from my beloved wards as well.” Cirdan explained gently but firmly, pressing a kiss to each of their dark heads.

“Poor pityahannor.” Ereinion added, hugging the twins closer to him. “Why didn’t you say something of your fears? My foolish but beloved pityahannor.”

“Aunt Galadriel knew.” Elrond explained, wiping tears away from his eyes.

“So we thought you knew.” Elros explained, crying as well.

Ereinion’s arms tightened around the twins. He could count on one hand the number of times he had seen them cry. Then Ereinion exchanged a look with Cirdan, who shook his head. “My dear boys, we do not read minds quite the way our kinswoman Galadriel does. And she is very careful not to share what she sees with other elves. You have to be more forthcoming in the future. This whole upset could have been avoided, if you had.”

“We’re sorry, Uncle Cirdan, Ereinion.” Elrond offered softly, “And we’re sorry we were so rude to you, earlier, Ereinion.”

“Are you angry at us?” Elros added.

Ereinion saw the real question in Elros’s eyes… did Ereinion still love them. Of course he did. “No, am not angry. I am not pleased with how you both behaved, but pityahano,” he said softly, “pityahannor,” he amended, including Elrond with a sweep of his hand. “You are still my little brothers. I am your brother first and your King second. I am your King only when you make me have to be. But I still love you, always. More, I know how fear and frustration can make an elf… um, peredhel.. look, curse it, can I just call you elves?”

“No.” Elrond replied primly, catching the attention of foster-father and foster-brother, as he hardly ever insisted on something if Elros didn’t. “We’re not elves; we’re not human; we’re half-elves. And we’re more like humans.”

“And humans are very, very like elves.” Cirdan pointed out gently, “So there is little difference in truth, my beloved young one.”

“Well, if half-elves are anything like me, I know how fear and frustration can make you angry, and cause you to say things you don’t mean.” Ereinion soothed, hugging the twins fiercely. “I forgive you both, and I will always love you.”

The twins hugged their foster-brother back, before turning reluctantly to their foster-father. “Can we call the eavesdropping practice at intelligence gathering?” Elrond bargained.

Cirdan huffed a laugh. “No. You’re both in trouble for that, and not a little amount.” Looking at his down-cast younger foster-sons, Cirdan asked gently, “Have you thought about what you did wrong, my dear ones?”

Elrond nodded, eyes on the floor, as Elros said softly “We were horrid to Ereinion. I was horrid to Ereinion,” he amended.

Elrond added softly, “And we disobeyed the rules about listening to conversations that are official, and to which we were not invited. We are sorry.”

Cirdan listened to the twins attentively.“That seems accurate to me, my dear ones. Ereinion?”

Ereinion nodded and dropped a light kiss on top of each raven-dark head. “I know you are sorry, pityahannor. Atarinya is going to spank you,” he said, “and I am going to remain here, if you wish me to, in case you need help staying still.” Which Ereinion rather thought they would. He’d personally never disobeyed Cirdan by breaking any one rule as often as the twins had kept on eavesdropping. Ereinion wished their spies were as persistent as the peredhil, especially as he suspected the twins had only been caught a fraction of the times they’d purposely gone about overhearing conversations. Who knew how long they’d been using that broom closet, for example.

The twins cast worried looks at Cirdan, who raised an eyebrow at them. Then the twins nodded gratefully to their elder brother.

“My dear wards,” Cirdan said firmly, but not unkindly, “as I can tell you are aware, you were very naughty indeed, today. Hardly the actions of two elves who wish to be treated as having achieved maturity. Not only did you break a rule for which I have repeatedly been forced to chastise you, you were terribly rude to your older brother and King. I have half a mind to let Ereinion hand out this spanking to you both, as it is somehow unclear to you that your older brother has the right to deal with you as he sees fit. If you feel he is unfair, which I doubt he would be, you may come to me, and I will listen. But you shall not, ever again, speak so to him. Is that understood?”

“Yes, Uncle Cirdan,” Elros said in a small voice, as Elrond nodded.

“Very well. As you have both already apologized to your brother, and understand how you have misbehaved, we shall begin.” Cirdan said, eyeing the twins gravely. “Elrond,” Cirdan instructed sternly, “Go back to the corner, and remain there until I call for you.” Turning to Elros, Cirdan instructed sympathetically, “Over my knee, Elros. I am going to give you a warm-up spanking, before I spank you with the ruler.”

Elrond turned to Elros and hugged him fiercely, “I’m sorry I said we should listen to the council today.” He whispered softly, but fiercely. “Sorry, sorry. We never would have gotten into trouble otherwise.”
“It’s all right gwanur-nin, we can’t change it now,” Elros sighed and hugged his twin back just as tightly.
Cirdan waited patiently for Elros, and then guided his young ward gently over his knees, waiting for Ereinion to take his brother’s hands.

Ereinion sat down on the bed next to Cirdan, and took Elros’ hands in his. The elfling held tightly to his big brother’s hands. “I’m sorry… I really, really am,” Elros whispered. Ereinion nodded sympathetically. “I know, pityahano. I have you, just hold on to me. But not so tense, pityahano,” he whispered, “easy, easy, relax, I know it’s hard, but relax or it will feel worse.” Slowly, under Ereinion’s soothing guidance, Elros managed to lose most of his tension. Cirdan waited patiently for the elfling to relax, rubbing Elros’ back gently. “This is going to be a hard spanking, titta quen.” He warned, “but know that I love you, and that your elder brother also loves you.” Then Cirdan brought his hand down sharply, but not with his full-strength, on Elros’s bottom. The elven elder marveled that Elros and Elrond always seemed so sure they were full grown… granted, they seemed older than elflings of twenty-three. Perhaps the equivalent of human children of 13, or even 14, some days. But they were not full-grown. One of Cirdan’s hands could cover the entirety of Elros’ bottom in stinging swats in mere moments, and he quickly warmed the elfling’s bottom to a light pink, paying particular attention to his sit spots and the undercurve of his bottom.

Having admitted to the fears behind his temper, Elros started tearing up almost immediately as Cirdan began spanking him. Elros didn’t feel particularly bad about the eavesdropping… how else were they supposed to learn anything? But he was very sorry that he and Elrond, but mostly he, had been so angry and rude to Cirdan and Ereinion, when he knew they were just trying to protect him and Elrond. Still, the one thing that Elros wanted to be protected from was losing another family, and there was no one, anywhere, who could protect him from that. Cirdan and Ereinion would hopefully keep being lucky in combat; but if not, there was nothing Elros could do to save them. Not yet. Elros’s gasps and tears turned to sobs.

Ereinion squeezed Elros’ hands supportively, and the young Peredhel was grateful for the reassurance.
Cirdan’s heart clenched, for Elros hardly ever cried until the very end of a spanking, if at all. Cirdan’s hand ceased falling, and he rubbed his ward’s back supportively. “I know you are sorry, dear one.” He said consolingly, “but you have been sorry before, and yet still I find you disobeying this rule. You must learn, as close kin of your King, not to listen where you have not been invited,” Cirdan paused, for he knew this was a hard lesson. “No matter what fears are running through your mind, you must learn to confide them. And you must also learn to treat your older brother with the respect due his age and station, even though you are his beloved foster-brothers.” Cirdan straightened, hating what came next, “Elros, I would like you to kneel here, and rest your upper body on your bed.”

Elros caught his breath, and worried. Uncle Cirdan hadn’t asked that of him before. “Uncle Cirdan?”

“Yes, dear one?” Cirdan inquired patiently.

“Um, what is going to happen?” Elros asked, trying to be brave. Over a decade of precedence suggested that Cirdan would never truly hurt him, but the ruler was quite unpleasant, even a few swats over Cirdan’s lap.
Cirdan gently lifted Elros and set him carefully on his lap. He then looked at his young ward compassionately, before calling, “Elrond, come over here as well, little one. You should hear this too.”

Elrond, who had been standing in the corner, listening worriedly as his brother sobbed through his spanking, quickly walked over to his brother’s bed. Tears were in Elrond’s eyes as well, he hated his brother being hurt.
Cirdan explained gently, “When my elflings… pardon, my wards, repeatedly make the same mistakes, it calls for a more substantial punishment, my dear little ones. You have earned such a punishment today. What will happen is that you will kneel down here, with your body supported by your bed, so that your bottom is in position for me to smack it with this ruler.” Cirdan pulled the slender wooden implement out of the pocket of his robes, and showed it to them. “I will smack you with the ruler until I feel you have learned this lesson fully, then you may stay in position while you gather your composure. Then you will switch places with your twin in the corner. Elrond will then receive the same, spanking and then ruler.” Cirdan explained, his voice gentle and sympathetic. He did not like having to punish the twins so, but he could not have them continue to listen in to whichever conversations they pleased. Some of the things Ereinion had to discuss with his advisors were unfit for ears as young as the twins’.

Elrond grasped his brother’s hand. Its alright, hano. He soothed, tears in his eyes, Just a little more, and it will be over.

Stupid, Elros commented of himself and his twin, but mostly himself, Waste of a week, being so angry, and now this.

I couldn’t have told them. I’m glad you did. Now at least… they know why. Elrond pulled his twin to him, and they held onto one another for a moment.

Elrond looked to their guardian sadly, “Please, Uncle Cirdan, may I not stay with my twin?” Elrond pleaded.

“No, hinya.” Cirdan said sternly. “Normally I would permit it, but you have both repeatedly defied my will, on this point. Today you must wait in the corner, and consider how you might behave better. Ereinion will comfort Elros.”

“Ereinion?” Elros gasped, looking to his elder brother for support.

Ereinion nodded. “Do not worry, pityahano. I will stay right here with you, and hold onto you so that you know you are not alone.” Elros knew exactly how to annoy Ereinion, and vice versa, but after the relatively frequent fireworks of their arguments, they were always closer than ever. Elrond was less likely to argue in the first place, his younger twin was just a quieter child, so far as Ereinion could tell.

Elros nodded gratefully. “I…I’m ready, Uncle.” He looked uneasily to the ruler, but knelt over the bed anyway, trusting his foster father would not hurt him. Well, not really hurt him.

“Very well, my brave little one.” Cirdan praised. Gently rubbing his ward’s back, Cirdan waited until Ereinion had sat down on the bed and drawn Elros’ head into his lap, stroking the elder twin’s hair. Then Cirdan gently placed a hand on Elros’ back, above his pink bottom. “Are you ready, Elros-nin?” He asked.

Elros took a deep breath as Ereinion took Elros’ hands in one of his while he continued to comfort his little brother. “No, but I guess I can’t be more ready, Uncle Cirdan,” Elros said honestly.

“Please remember that we both hate this next time you and Elrond feel the need to listen in on a conversation, hinya.” Cirdan implored, preparing to paddle Elros carefully with the ruler. He pulled back his arm, and then applied a firm swat with the ruler to the top of Elros’ bottom, quickly following it up with another four overlapping smacks, ending at the top of the elfling’s thighs.

Elros sobbed into Ereinion’s lap, as his older cousin and foster-brother held his hands and stroked his hair. “S-sorry, so-so sorry… won’t be rude again,… sorry…”

Cirdan paused and rubbed Elros’ back. “You are handling this very well, little one.” He soothed, “Just a few moments and it will be all over.” Quietly, Cirdan called Elrond from the corner, and let the younger twin join Ereinion, comforting Elros. Then Cirdan steeled his resolve, and brought the ruler down twice on the fullness of Elro’s bottom, and then three more times on his sit spots and undercurve, before dropping the ruler, and sweeping Elros into his arms, carefully. “Oh, my little one.” He soothed, “I am so glad you will try to do better, so that I do not have to spank you again.”

“Shall… shall try, Uncle Cirdan,” Elros sobbed. “P-promise, I’ll t-try.” Ereinion rose and nodded, trailing his fingertips over Elros’ hair. “That is very good, pityahano. I am sure you will try, Elros. It is wise to not promise ‘never to be naughty again’, but to at least promise to try,” Ereinion observed, thinking it was particularly good the twins weren’t promising not to ever eavesdrop again, though perhaps… perhaps there was something he could offer the twins, on that point. Ereinion did believe Elros would try not to be quite so rude to either him or Cirdan again. Elros loved them, Ereinion knew, and Elros did not go out of his way to be rude to people he loved. “Making promises that are too much to live up to never works out well, not even for an Aran.” Ereinion continued, with a wink for his little brother.

Cirdan smiled gently at his young King over the head of the twin he was comforting. “Very wise, yonya.” He observed. His eyes twinkled, but he did not give the twins more details, leaving that up to Ereinion, should he so choose.

Elrond rubbed Elros’ arm, and raised an eyebrow. Elros chuckled through his tears, leaving Ereinion startled for a moment. It was a chuckle, not a giggle, and Ereinion had only just noticed it, but the twins sounded… much older, even than they had previously. Perhaps there was something he could do for them, indeed, to relieve their frustration and their sense of impotence.

“Promises too big for our Pityaran?” Elros teased his older brother boldly, quite sure that Ereinion would not enact further vengeance on him at this exact moment, despite Elros’ use of Ereinion’s hated nick-name, “little King.”

Ereinion gave Elros a baleful look, but had to admire his bratling brother’s sense of strategy. “Watch it, pityahano.” He said warningly, reaching over to tickle Elros’ ribs.

Elros squirmed away, laughing, and protested, “Oww… Ereinion!” Squirming away from tickling fingers on a just-spanked bottom was less than comfortable, after all. Elros took a deep breath, and accepted his brother’s help to arise, with a last fond look for his foster-father. “I will try to be less of a trial to you, Uncle.” He promised Cirdan. “Even if I think you are wrong, about what Elrond and I are and are not capable of.”

“I admire your honestly, Elros guren.” Cirdan said kindly, standing up to pull the older twin into a final hug. “And you have always been much greater of a joy to me, than a trial. Both of you. All three of you.”

Elros nodded back, and he and Elrond exchanged another look before switching places. Elrond laid himself over Cirdan’s knees, taking Ereinion’s offered hands with a grateful squeeze.

“Try to relax, pityahano.” Ereinion urged the younger twin, “It will hurt less, that way.”

Cirdan rubbed Elrond’s back, helping his youngest fosterling to relax. “Are you ready, Elrond?”

Elrond took a few deep breaths. He did know that this would not be the worst part. “Yes, Uncle Cirdan.” Elrond replied softly.

“Brave hinya,” Cirdan praised, and began the spanking, again using far less than his full strength to turn Elrond’s bottom light pink, the same shade as he had Elros’. He focused on Elrond’s sit spots and undercurves as well, and the younger twin yelped and squirmed. Elrond did not have Elros’ usual stubborn determination to remain stoic during a spanking.

When Cirdan was finished warming up the bottom in front of him to a rosy pink, he rested his hand on Elrond’s back for a moment. “All right, hinya,” he said, not unkindly, “you know what is coming next.”

Elrond nodded, starting to cry a little bit. This part was a bit scary. He knelt over the bed, and tensed for the first smack of the ruler

“Do not tense, Elrond, though I know that is hard,” Cirdan cautioned.

Ereinion lifted his little brother’s head gently, “Do not worry, Elrond. I am here with you. You will be fine, Elros survived, did he not?”

Elrond sniffled. Elros was braver than he was, and Elros had cried rather a lot. But he knew Cirdan would not hurt him. “I’m ready, Uncle Cirdan,” He said softly, still sniffling.

Cirdan patted Elrond’s back. “I know, little one.” He brought down the first five smacks, covering the little one’s bottom, and then paused to rub Elrond’s back comfortingly.

Elrond yelped and whimpered through the smacks, more from surprise and upset than pain, though he definitely felt them. His bottom was hot and sore, and he didn’t think he and Elros had gotten a worse spanking from their guardian since they had tried to sail away in their boat.

Ereinion gently stroked Elrond’s hair. “Shh, little one. It is nearly over,” He soothed.

Cirdan finished the spanking in the same manner as Elros’, and put the ruler aside. “There now, Elrond-nin,” he soothed, “all done.”

Elrond cried as Cirdan held him. “I’m sorry. I will try not to behave… sniffle… badly again.” Elrond also meant not so badly towards Ereinion. The eavesdropping, he felt, was more of an agree-to-disagree-but-try-not-to-get-caught type of issue.

“I know you will try, my elf… little one,” Cirdan murmured soothingly. “I trust you will try. I understand. It is forgiven, for both of you.”

“From me as well, pityahannor.” Ereinion soothed them, helping the twins to settle as comfortably as possible on their stomachs on Elros’s bed. Just a few years ago, Ereinion would have made sure that the twins’ toy dolphins, Sindolle and Luin, were tightly tucked into their arms. But now, looking around his small brothers’ room, he didn’t even see the once-cherished toys. Ereinion suspected they were around somewhere… they had been a gift from Galadriel, and Galadriel and the twins had always gotten along quite well. Galadriel was not particularly maternal, but the twins were not ordinary children… er, elflings, well, they were the only peredhil of Ereinion’s acquaintance. And though they had been happy and carefree when Ereinion knew them in their parents’ home, for those few brief years at the Havens of Sirion, by the time that they came to live with him and Cirdan, they had been both wary and cautious. Though time had eased that distrust greatly, Ereinion would never forget that it had been Galadriel and Celeborn amongst those who had aided them, in those first difficult days.

And he did not think the twins had forgotten, either, even if Luin and Sindolle had been consigned to a chest somewhere, to leave more room for… Ereinion peered more closely at the shelves on his way out of the room, and blinked. The healing tomes were expected, and the books of past wars and maps as well. But not how advanced the books were. Nor the level of complexity to the maps that the twins had quite evidently created themselves, as he recognized both of their handwriting… and the notes beside them… his little brothers had earned a seat at the council table, though they remained too young . And between Ereinion and Galadriel and her confederates, he felt confident they could outvote Cirdan, Celeborn, and Amdir, if need be. But it would be best to let the twins show Cirdan that, themselves. Ereinion left the room, still deeply in thought.

The twins awoke to a soft knock, several hours later, and Elros struggled to his feet, rubbing his sore bottom as he went to the door. “Er..Ereinion.” He greeted his elder foster-brother with a blink. He hadn’t expected to see Ereinion before dinner, and it was still at least an hour prior. Elrond, too, blinked sleepily at Ereinion, as he stuffed a suspiciously dolphin shaped lump under a pillow.

“Pityahannor.” Ereinion greeted his younger brothers with a mischievous grin. “How would you like to shock Atarinya at dinner tonight, and make it so you never need to eavesdrop on regular council sessions again?”

Elros looked at Ereinion suspiciously, but Elrond, who had helped Ereinion with his paperwork a time or two before, and who really wanted to be invited to the Aran’s councils, grinned back at Ereinion. “You just want more help sorting through “boring Aran work,” anyaro hanonya.” Elrond teased, but the thankfulness in his eyes warmed Ereinion’s heart.

“I will not deny that wanting help is part of it.” Ereinion agreed, “but mostly it is that you two have been working very hard at understanding everything that is going on with the war, and have improved your knowledge and analytical skills to the point where you look like peredhil,” he winked at the twins, “who can help me, rather than elflings who should be at their lessons.”

“No lessons?” Elros perked up. “By all means, have a seat, Ereinion.” The bolder twin invited with a perfect courtier’s bow, indicating the other bed.

With both of his baby brothers’ complete attention, Ereinion outlined his plan.
The visit went better, after that. Despite the twins’ being sore, the four elves had a pleasant working dinner, and Elrond and Elros even helped Ereinion figure out where the false numbers in his cost reports were coming from. That success caused Cirdan to take notice, and agree to have the twins attend more of Ereinion’s councils with him. And that seemed to help the twins, as well as giving Ereinion more free time to spend with them. The three foster-brothers spent that time talking long walks beside the shore, or organizing games of “chase me, find me,” with the twins and Ereinion on one side, and Ereinion’s gwedyr on the other.

Elrond and Elros gave up campaigning to get to fight in the war during that visit, though Cirdan and Ereinion both knew it was but a lull in the storm. When Cirdan left the Isle of Balar, the twins had somehow ended up with a schedule that was the opposite of their former schedule… three hours of lessons a day, and the rest of the day spent working with the healers, the shipwrights, and the other, various measures to support the war.

Fourth Age year 14, Minas Tirith

“Ouch.” Sympathized Eldarion with the grandfather and uncle/many-times great-grandfather he had never met. “Great Uncle Cirdan was very upset with them, wasn’t he?”

“He was a little tired of Ada and Uncle Elros eavesdropping,” Elrohir pointed out, “They’d been warned, many times. Ereinion was more sympathetic.”

“They did learn from the experience,” Faramir said with a smile, “In fact, your Daerada Elrond told me he and his brother never again took a pass on such an offer from their big brother.”

“Ada used to get in trouble for not taking his guards with him, too.” Elrohir added gently, “though it was most often that he wasn’t paying attention, rather like your Uncle Elladan.”

Eldarion shook his head, “I can’t imagine Uncle Elladan as the heir to a kingdom. He would get in so much trouble, without even trying,”

Faramir nodded in agreement. “Lord Elrond,” he began.

“Your Daerada as well, tithen-pen-nin.” Elrohir corrected kindly.

Faramir smiled and corrected himself, “Our Daerada Elrond, ‘Darion, forgot to tell his guards he was going from the Healing Wing to meet his friend Erestor, one night in Lindon. One of his guards had been napping in the lounge, the other was flirting with another healer, and neither noticed their distracted young charge wandering out the door.”

“Ada was a young elf when this happened, maybe 600 years of age.” Elrohir explained, with a wink for his two nephews who were both not yet a hundred.

“Daerada Elrond’s guards were accustomed to him, and normally they could catch up with him before it was necessary to let someone know they had “lost” him.” Faramir explained.

“Oh, there you are, sergeant. I’d wondered where you had gone off to.” Mimicked Elrohir lightly, not quite nailing his father’s tone. That was Elladan’s particular trick.

“But that one particular evening,” Faramir continued with a smile, “Though your Daerada’s guards did catch him up, it was not in time to keep him out of trouble. He and Erestor were sitting with several of Erestor’s friends, who were half Sinda, like Erestor, but looked it, unlike Erestor. Some prejudiced fools came along and started insulting them…

Year 600 S.A., Lindon

Lord Elrond entered his foster-brother’s chambers nervously, having been admitted by one of Ereinion’s scribes, who was on his way out. The King had left standing orders that his cousin and heir be admitted to his rooms. Elrond was embarrassed… he was an Advisor to his elder foster-brother and cousin the King, a respected healer, a trusted young commander, and not the type of elf who normally got into bar fights. Normally, since Elrond’s foster-father was in Lindon at the moment, Elrond would have gone to Cirdan to confess this wrongdoing, since Cirdan would hear of it eventually anyway, and Elrond would prefer it be from him. But Elrond hoped Ereinion might be less upset, and so he had wrestled over daring to bother Ereinion for a matter so small, when Ereinion was so busy, but in the end had decided to go ahead and do so. Ereinion was always telling Elrond that Elrond could come to him with anything, so, in a way, Elrond was just obeying orders.

Elrond again considered just leaving when he saw Ereinion reviewing petitions with that frown that indicated an impending headache. Then Ereinion looked up at him, and smiled fondly. So Elrond went ahead. “Um, hi, Ereinion,” Elrond said nervously, his usual eloquence deserting him, “I have something to confess.”

Ereinion raised an eyebrow. “Is the door closed?” he asked kindly. Elrond coming to confess something to him was… odd. Since Elros had sailed, Elrond found much less trouble. Oh, he still found some. And, well, sometimes much stupider trouble than Ereinion had ever expected. But it was rare, for Elrond to approach him, like this, outside of their normal schedule of meals and meetings. Odd, and Erestor’s influence, Ereinon thought, both grateful and a touch bitter that it had taken Arandil and Elain’s young son to help them find the emotional cryptography key to Elrond, with Elros gone.

Elrond nodded. “I closed the door, although you’ll, um, probably be hearing about this, from Captain Sarando of the guard. So I don’t think its exactly a secret, per se.”

Ereinion leaned back, avoiding a smile of “what on Arda have you done,” only because Elrond seemed so upset. “Is the door locked?” Ereinion asked instead. If whatever it was was so upsetting to Elrond, whose judgment was generally sound, Ereinion didn’t want it to be overheard. Even more, he wanted Elrond to have his undivided attention, and only a locked door came close to guaranteeing that. The Aran was a busy elf.

Elrond swallowed nervously and locked the door. “It is now, Ereinion.” He said softly. His brother did not mind if Elrond addressed him by name, in private.

In fact, Ereinion preferred it. He hated the formality of titles, from his only remaining foster-brother. “All right, then, hano. What’s this all about?” Ereinion asked.

Elrond explained, a bit shame-faced. “I was having dinner and drinks with Erestor and several of his friends, Aerandir and Falathar. There were some drunk, angry ellyn there, and they started, ah, well, insulting Aerandir and Falathar, for being Sinda. They must not have realized that Erestor and I are as well, or even who we were, I think, as their comments were directed entirely at our companions.” Elrond flushed angrily, “We asked them to leave, but they would not, and continued, ah, talking in the same vein. One of them said something particularly vile, and I punched him.” Elrond rubbed his forehead. “He’ll be fine, and no one was hurt seriously in the ensuing scuffle, but I have a fine to pay, for hitting that one ellon.”

“Something particularly vile?” Ereinion asked, in his ‘you may repeat it without further punishment, but you must tell me’ tone. More his big brother tone than his Aran tone, but it was usually effective with Elrond, who did not like to burden his brother or King with extraneous details like this, but would go on at length about topics which bored Ereinion greatly, such as proper sanitation. Elrond was a strange elf, at times, in Ereinion’s opinion, much as he loved his younger brother.

Elrond’s face flushed in remembered anger, and he looked away, at first. He did not like to repeat it, but, “The ellon I hit, well, he had just said that it was a Sinda slut who had first lain with a human, and speculated that the Sinda must not have had any pigs, as laying with a pig would be preferable to laying with a human.”

“Excuse me?” Ereinion’s face flushed with anger, though he quickly got himself under control. “Come here, hano,” he commanded, rising to his feet.

Elrond approached his foster-brother, slightly confused. “You asked, Ereinion,” he protested faintly, not sure if he was in trouble for repeating what had been said, or not.

“I know, Elrond. Come here.” Ereinion held out his arms in welcome.

Elrond sighed in relief. That, at least, was welcome, though he hadn’t thought to ask for the affection. Elrond accepted the hug, laying his head against Ereinion’s shoulder. “I lost my temper,” he murmured softly, in explanation.

Ereinion held his brother gently. “Shhh. I know. I know, hano. That slur… it was about Luthien, was it not?” Ereinion murmured, stroking his brother’s raven hair soothingly.

“That was certainly the implication.” Elrond said, relaxing in his older foster-brother’s arms. “The witnesses swore to it that though I might have thrown the first punch, it was not unprovoked. And the ellon elected not to pursue the matter further, when my guards waded in, and he realized who I was.”

“It was most certainly not unprovoked, and I would have been quite as angry as you were,” Ereinion said sympathetically. “Still, you know what Atarinya thinks about fighting, pityahano.”

Elrond shuddered a little, involuntarily. “Um, yes, about that.” He turned imploring gray eyes to his brother, “There was a period of time when we got into a lot of fights, and Uncle Cirdan said that, if we were caught fighting again, he would strap us. That was hundreds of years ago… but I’m a little worried he might remember. Would you, um, be willing to take care of it? And tell him you did?”

Ereinion knew that by “we,” Elrond meant he and Elros. In fact, Ereinion even vaguely remembered, when they had just been starting out in Lindon, Elros going through a phase where he had decided to prove that having chosen to be human didn’t mean he was weak, by getting into fight after fight, poor Elrond at his side. But Elrond never said his twin’s name, if he could help it. It wasn’t a lack of love; it was that Elrond still missed Elros like half of his soul, after the better part of six centuries.

“Poor pityahano,” Ereinion murmured, lost for a moment in memories. Then he recalled, as well, how angry their Atar had been about those fights, and added, “Wouldn’t it be better to ask Atarinya if I could deal with you myself? I rather think with a case of ‘act first, tell after’, instead of ‘ask first, act second’, we both might end up being strapped, don’t you?”

Elrond nodded reluctantly. “You are quite correct, hanonya. I am sorry, I was not trying to get you into trouble. Atarinya is here this week… will you come with me?” Elrond finished softly. He felt badly for taking Ereinion away from his work, and for failing to face up to this bravely. But Elrond didn’t think he deserved to be strapped, for this, and he didn’t want to be, if it wasn’t deserved. He deserved to be punished, yes, but he hated the strap.

“Of course I’ll come with you, pityahano,” Ereinion said, giving his baby brother a firm hug. “Don’t worry. You’ll be all right, I’ll take care of you, pityahano.” Even if Ereinion couldn’t take care of Elrond’s spanking… or strapping, if it ended up being so… he’d still take care of Elrond.

Cirdan looked up from his reading to find his foster-son the King escorting a shame-faced Elrond into his study. The elder elf shook his head, suppressing a jibe that it felt like the Isle of Balar, at this moment. He knew Elrond still had trouble, thinking of the years when he had been only half of a whole. “What is amiss, my sons?” Cirdan asked gently.

Elrond looked down, embarrassed and upset. “I got into a fight, Atarinya. I have asked Ereinion to deal with the matter, but he directed that I should first ask that such would meet with your approval.”

Cirdan sighed. Elrond’s description of such events was, as often, bare. “Ereinion?” He asked, “Are you willing to take on this responsibility?”

“Entirely willing, Atarinya,” Ereinion said firmly. “It was not an unprovoked fight. The ellon in question slandered Luthien.”

Cirdan’s eyes narrowed, and he arose from his desk to offer both of his remaining sons a brief embrace. “I am sorry, Elrond.” he said gently, “But I know that you understand you should still not have fought. I will let your brother deal with this.” Cirdan’s face turned stern, “But if it happens again, I may take a different position.”

“Yes, Atarinya. Thank you.” Elrond offered, following Ereinion from the room in relief.

The hallway was empty. “Where do you want to, um, deal with me, hano?” Elrond asked Ereinion softly, only now realizing that while he had spared himself a strapping, he had signed up for a spanking from his beloved older brother.

“Your room will be fine, hano. I think you will want to rest afterward,” Ereinion said sympathetically.

Elrond nodded, embarrassed but grateful, and led the way.

Admitting his brother to his rooms, Elrond waited for instructions, wishing he would not feel too foolish, retrieving Luin from his nest in Elrond’s chest, on top of outdated medical scrolls. Elrond would not normally be upset enough about a punishment… but the last time he’d been in trouble for fighting, Elros had been with him. And he missed his twin so much, it was still like a physical ache. Even though it had been over a hundred and fifty years since Elros had died. Elrond still had no word, but he’d dreamt of his twin, aged and gray but happy, with children and grandchildren around him. And Elros had looked straight at Elrond, in the dream, and said, “Take good care of yourself, hano. And of Ereinion and Uncle Cirdan.” Elrond shook his head, to clear it of memories.

Ereinion gently prompted, “Perhaps you would feel better if Luin were to join you, pityahano?”

Elrond flushed, and collected his old friend. It was probably his imagination, but he rather thought Luin’s smile was a trifle exasperated, as was Ereinion’s. “You won’t tell anyone, will you, hano?” He asked, meaning about Luin.

“Of course not, hano,” Ereinion reassured him.

Elrond smiled a little, very tentatively. “Its been a long time since you last …um, had to punish me.” he said softly. “Do you still want me over your knee?”

“Of course, pityahano,” Ereinion said gently. “I’m sure you’ll still fit.” He sat down on the edge of Elrond’s bed.

Elrond followed, laying himself down over his older brother’s lap, and holding Luin tightly. “I am ready, Ereinion.” He said.

“Elrond,” Ereinion said wryly, giving his baby brother’s hip a light nudge and hooking his fingers into his brother’s waistband. “Lift up a bit.”

Elrond blushed and did so, murmuring, “sorry.” He hadn’t meant to forget to pull down his leggings.

“I know,” Ereinion said equably, easing Elrond’s leggings down and helping Elrond settle back into position. “There now, pityahano. Much better.” He patted Elrond’s bottom lightly, then brought down the first smack sharply.

Elrond winced. Ereinion’s hand wasn’t quite as practiced as Cirdan’s, but it was still quite firm.

Ereinion continued the spanking. He may have spared his brother a strapping, and he definitely agreed that Elrond had been provoked. He was also much more upset with the other elf than with Elrond. Nevertheless, his baby brother knew the rules, and Ereinion wasn’t holding back.

Elrond winced and squirmed as the spanking continued. He did feel guilty for having lost his temper, and he wasn’t fighting the punishment, nor did he think it was unfair. But he wasn’t able to hold perfectlly still for Ereinion, and he soon began to gasp and then yelp a bit at each sound smack.

Ereinion didn’t care if his brother held still. If Elrond held still after this much spanking, he was trying too hard, in Ereinion’s opinion. Ereinion tilted Elrond forward and began spanking Elrond’s sit spots firmly.

“Oww!” Elrond howled, kicking his feet a little but not trying to move himself out of position. Sorry… OWW… hurts,” He explained incoherently, before promising, “No more… owww…hitting.”

Ereinion finished with some firm smacks to Elrond’s undercurves and thighs, then moved his hand back up, to rub Elrond’s back in comfort.

Elrond gasped in relief to have the spanking done, and wiped his eyes. Looking over his shoulder at his brother, he said hoarsely, “Thank you, for not leaving me to Atarinya’s mercies. And I’m sorry I hit one of your other subjects. I’ll try to do better.”

“I am angrier with him than you, pityahano,” Ereinion reassured Elrond, “because I am not angry with you at all. No more now, baby brother. All finished, and you should sleep. Luin won’t mind staying with you, I’m sure.”

Elrond nodded, thanked Ereinion again, and bid him good day. Ereinion started to say farewell, but then …there was something about his baby brother’s expression that gave him pause. Oh, Elrond’s facial expression was reserved, his baby brother was one of Ereinion’s best diplomats, after all. But there was something… a crease to his forehead, perhaps. Something, that Ereinion suspected would have told Elros, once, that Elrond did not want to be alone. The type of thing that Erestor, who’d never known Elrond with Elros, somehow recognized, and would throw an arm around Elrond, and ask that Elrond please help him with some bit of research or another, or please go riding with him, or whatever Erestor thought his friend needed that their schedules could accomodate. So, Ereinion thought to add, “And nor would I mind staying with you, if you would like.”

Elrond would very much like his elder foster-brother’s company, though he hadn’t known how to ask. Still, “Don’t you have work to do, that I took you away from?” Elrond asked.

Ereinion did. Quite a bit of it, in fact. But Elrond had come to him for help, with an issue that had nothing to do with any of his official duties. Something just for Elrond, because Ereinion was his brother, not his King. And Ereionion had been waiting centuries for Elrond to feel comfortable enough, without Elros, to do that. So he just smiled at his little brother, and gently teased, “What’s my most important duty, Elrond?”

It was a question Cirdan and then Ereinion had asked the twins many times, over the years. Unless Morgoth was attacking right now, the answer was that family was most important. Elros, come to think of it, had almost always answered, for both the twins, as was evidenced by Elrond’s hesitation.

“Um.” Said Elrond, “You have so many important duties, hano, I don’t know which… oh.” He gave Ereinion a slightly embarrassed smile. “Yes, I’d like you to stay, if you don’t mind. I love you, hano. Thank you.”

“I love you too,” Ereinion said fondly. He helped Elrond up and out of his boots and leggings. Elrond’s long tunic covered him well enough, so Ereinion just turned down the bedcovers. “In, pityahano,” he said gently.

Elrond laid down with a relieved sigh, glad to have the day over. Though he hissed in discomfort, when he accidentally rolled onto his back for a moment, while making room for Ereinion.

Ereinion took his boots and outer robe off, and joined Elrond, drawing the covers over them. He embraced his brother, having seen Elros and Elrond snuggled together countless times and realizing now how much his baby brother must miss it. “Shhh, pityahano. Sleep.”

Elrond stiffened for a moment, memories of loss and grief overwhelming him. Then he relaxed against his older brother, felling lucky to have Ereinion even if he could not have Elros, and slept.

Third Age Year 14, Minas Tirith

“So…” Eldarion asked, an amused grin on his face, “Our cousin the Aran Ereinion never even knew Daerada Elrond had lost his guards, that day? As well as gotten into a fight?”

“He never knew.” Confirmed Faramir with answering grin. “It apparently wasn’t until Glorfindel arrived that anyone realized Elrond and his guards might accidentally part ways several times in any given day. Glorfindel took over the training of Elrond’s guards himself, rather putting an end to that.”

“Ada was still a bit annoyed, over that, well into the Third Age. Though he loved Glor to pieces.” Elrohir added, also amused.

“Hmm.” Commented a level voice from the door. “And yet it was Ada who stuck me with my guards, when first I became King. Ada… and, oh, yes, Faramir, was it not, ion-nin?”

Faramir made a face at his father. It had been, but Faramir hadn’t known himself as Aragorn’s son, then.

“And Elrohir, I believe you were in favor, as well. So why are the two of you, and Ada Elrond by unknowing example, working together to lead my poor heir astray?” Aragorn asked, dropping a kiss onto Eldarion’s head, as Eldarion blushed.

“I just wanted to spend some time with my friends, Ada.” Eldarion explained softly. “They’re all going off to different units, and ships, and… it will be awhile, before I see them again.” Unspoken, and some of them may not come home. Eldarion’s was a family who fought in the front lines of all the conflicts that came to their lands. They knew, all to well, what was unsaid.

“I understand, ‘Dari-nin. I do not approve of you having left alone and without word, but as the issue was dealt with, that can be the end.” Aragorn thought, for a moment. “Perhaps if we recruit a few younger guards, nearer to your own age. Ones who might blend in with your group of friends, and have them accompany you on these outings?”

Eldarion’s jaw dropped. So did Faramir’s. It had taken years for Faramir and Dervorin to get any of their men hired into the Royal Guard. Of course, perhaps if they’d just come out and asked… Faramir decided to put that thought away for future consideration.

Elrohir chuckled. “Younger children, they have parents wrapped around their cute little fingers.” He consoled Faramir, patting his oldest nephew on the shoulder in commiseration.

“Oh, be fair, Faramir.” Aragorn chided his older son, “I did not get particularly angry at you, either, for ducking your guards when you were with your friends, rather than alone. And Eldarion, if you’ll note, has never disappeared for months on end, leaving his poor family to think him dead.”

“Ai, will I never hear the end of that?” Faramir muttered, as Eldarion turned grateful eyes on his father.

“It would be nice, to have guards nearer my own age, Ada.” Eldarion agreed.

Aragorn ruffled his hair, and nodded. “Then we’ll work on it. Next time, leave word with Faramir as to where you’ll be, if you’re sneaking out, rather than leaving him to guess.”

As both of his sons stared at him, Aragorn grinned at his brother. “They’re upset.” He said, nodding to the nonplussed Faramir and Eldarion.

Elrohir nodded sagely, “Very overwrought. We can’t possibly leave them alone. It would be irresponsible of us as healers and as elders.”

Catching onto the plan, which was apparently for them all to continue evading their official hosting duties for the night, Faramir shook his head, “Nana is going to kill us all.”

Aragorn sat down between his sons, “Let her try. This whole terrible evening was her idea. Even you cautioned her against it, but no, my wife knew better…” Aragorn cut himself off short, as Eldarion’s fascinated gaze turned back to him.

“So, Elrohir, how about another story?” Aragorn asked. And the two sets of brothers listened, and laughed, and enjoyed one another’s company late into the night. And were very glad that they’d all found an excuse to leave the reception for the seamstress’s guild, even if that guild was an important part of the economy of Gondor and Arnor.

1 This reference is to “Eldarion and the Spirits,” 24189.

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