is ahead of
me bitter and blessed
Transparent moments of exhaustion and rest
Someday I’ll walk alone, someday I’ll be older
But right now I’m shivering as I grow colder
when I’m scared
Let me know that you’re there
When I’m lost in the gloom
Take my hand, lead me home...
and I’m a million miles away
Hold me tight in the darkness
and whisper why I should stay
make me home
You make me home
When I feel alone
You make me home.
The trap had been well
set. Not even the most experienced
among them had seen the tell-tale signs that the orcs were waiting for
When the rangers passed through the small valley nestled in the northern mountains, the attack had taken them unawares. The orcs were brutal and swift. They hadn’t engaged the Dúnedain, merely swept them out of their path. The spawn of Mordor were intent on one thing only, returning to Isengard.
The wounded had kept the rest from pursuing the black creatures as they headed southeast. But the toll they had exacted on their rampage would not be soon forgotten.
Their leaders lay among the injured and so it had been quickly decided that they should head south to Imladris – and with all speed.
was falling in Rivendell. It was Elladan’s favorite time of the
year. In this
one thing he differed from his twin. He loved the change of
seasons from the
heat of summer to cool calming of autumn. Elrohir favored the
and the blanket of cold and mist that clothed the earth for a
time. He said it
seemed that the woods slept and that peace fell upon Middle Earth
long slumbering months.
Elladan smiled as the memories and thoughts chased through his head, winding from one subject randomly to another until he was wondering what Celboril had concocted for dinner.
The twin’s reverie was broken as men and horses flooded the outer courtyard of Imladris. Many were calling for help and several of the animals themselves were being led limping through the main gates. With a start, Elladan turned and raced back through the house.
Elrohir erupted from the library having picked up on the chaos at almost the same instant his twin had. They were brothers, they were elves and, more importantly, they were twins. The fears and emotions of one often were felt and reflected in the other.
Elrond was already outside directing the rangers to take the wounded men into the house and calling for the stable handlers to see to the injured horses.
As the men filed in, the twins took up the job of rerouting them. They sent most to the Hall of Fire, but directed others to specific rooms throughout the great house.
A young ranger that Elrohir did not recognize approached him. The man was carrying another Dùnadan. Tears streamed down his face as he stumbled forward. He did not try to speak, he simply turned so that Elrohir had a good view of the man that he carried.
The elf brushed blood-caked hair out of the wounded ranger’s face and froze in place, his hand resting on the man’s forehead.
“I’m sorry,” the Dùnadan whispered softly, breaking Elrohir out of his stupor. “Laerner said to bring him to you.”
“El!” Elrohir cried, having found his voice once more.
Elladan turned towards his brother. He held the man before him by the shoulders, quieting him with his touch.
Without a word Elrohir simply turned the young ranger before him around so that his twin had a clear glimpse of the wounded Dùnadan.
Elladan’s mouth dropped open. He tried to form words but they wouldn’t come. The ranger in front of him was talking again, quietly, desperately trying to get the elf’s attention.
Aragorn hadn’t been with the rangers for more than three months. Their father had just become accustomed to allowing the young human to roam the wilds on his own. When Halbarad had heard that Estel was of age and had traveled to Mirkwood on his own, he had sought out Elrond’s counsel asking to take the boy with them on some of the closer forays. Elrond had thought it wise and had agreed, much to Estel’s excitement. They had been out a week before the orcs had attacked them. Neither of the twins had been prepared to see him return in the shape he was now.
“Upstairs!” Elladan shouted, “Put him in the first room on the left. Do it! Go!” he instructed the young man before returning his attention to his own charge.
Elrohir pointed to the staircase on the far side of the landing.
“Can you make it?” He asked the young ranger.
The man simply nodded and walked away. Before Elrohir could think to follow or move, another ranger stepped in front of him. The man held his left arm gingerly against him, the shaft of an arrow protruded from his tunic above his elbow.
With a sharp hiss Elrohir gently inspected the injury and passed the man off to Moranuen who escorted him to the Hall of Fire.
“El! El!” Elladan’s voice caught Elrohir’s attention. “Get father! Let him know.” He needn’t explain any further; his twin knew what he meant. With a quick nod, Elrohir waded out through the mass of bodies choking the front doorway and pressed through the throng in the courtyard. Celboril was quickly lighting the glowglobes in the failing light as the press of men lessened in the outer yards.
Elrohir searched the sea of faces for Elrond’s. The older elf was kneeling on the ground near a severely wounded ranger, working frantically to bring the mortal back from the edges of Mandos’ Halls.
Glorfindel stood from his lord’s side and looked around the throng, trying to locate the twin who was calling. He saw Elrohir wading through the rangers and heading slowly around the east side of the courtyard.
“Gwanahin!” the blonde elf shouted, drawing the younger Noldo’s attention.
It was hard for the elven warrior to distinguish between the twins most of the time. He often took to calling them his pet name for them both until he could figure out which one he was talking to. When Elrohir raced up to his position out of breath and nearly in tears he knew immediately it was the younger of the two. Elladan never broke down in the midst of crisis. His tears were saved for later when he was alone or with his twin. Elrohir on the other hand could never hide his heart and his emotions sat on his face no matter what the circumstance.
“What is it, Elrohir?” Glorfindel questioned as he drew the younger elf closer.
The twin glanced down at their father and took note that Elrond was working with Halbarad. The ranger would not live if he stopped anytime soon and there was no possible way they could move the Dùnadan until the elf lord were convinced he would survive.
“It is Estel,” Elrohir whispered softly.
Glorfindel nodded slowly, licking his lips as he thought through the ramifications. “Is he badly hurt?”
With a shrug Elrohir glanced back up at the balrog slayer, hoping for help, direction, anything at the moment. “There are so many wounded in the house that the Hall of Fire is full.”
Stepping away from Elrond, Glorfindel cornered Celboril and Erestor. Explaining the situation inside, he quickly sent them in search of more help. The crowd in the courtyard was thinning. Only Elrond and a few of the healthy rangers now huddled in the middle around their injured leader. Laerner was on the ground beside Elrond, holding his leader’s face gently in his and talking quietly to the unconscious man. The ranger was not ready to lose his friend just yet.
And as far as Elrond was concerned, Mandos couldn’t have him yet either.
Glorfindel pushed Elrohir back towards the house. “Get the men settled down and go see to Estel. There are plenty to help; if there are severe wounded they can seek you or your brother out, but go now and don’t worry.”
With a small nod Elrohir turned and raced back into the interior of Rivendell. Seeking his twin in the mix of peoples near the door he headed for the stairs.
Elladan was nowhere to be seen as Elrohir bounded up the staircase. “Where are you, El?” he muttered as he grabbed the doorframe of Elladan’s room.
“In here, El,” came the softly spoken reply.
Elladan sat on the bed near Estel, washing the man’s face gently with a warm, wet cloth. “Where is father?” he asked.
“With Halbarad, keeping him this side of Mandos’ Halls,” Elrohir answered. He closed the door behind him and rounded the bed. Sitting down gently on the oversized sleeping couch, he leaned across the human and took Aragorn’s face in his hands.
The man was bruised and blood seeped from a cut on the left side of his face. His hair was matted by dirt and ichor. Blood crusted the edges of his bangs and Elrohir took to gently washing the filth out.
“How is he?” the younger twin asked softly. He was almost afraid to ask.
“He is doing better than most of the others,” Elladan answered distractedly. The elf was busy removing the ranger’s boots as he talked to his twin. “He was grazed deeply by an arrow on his right shoulder. Other than the cut to his head, there are only bruises and scratches that I can see. Some of them will need tending so they do not fester. But he seems to be unharmed otherwise.”
The two elves worked quietly over the prone man for several minutes. They removed his soiled tunic, replacing it with a warmer sleep shirt. His boots were tossed into the corner and clean socks slid onto his feet.
“How do the others fare?” Elladan asked, breaking the silence.
“More of the same type of injuries. A few arrow wounds and one with damage from a blade. Other than that, I think the worst wounded was Halbarad and Father was seeing to him,” Elrohir answered. He noticed that Aragorn had started to shiver and immediately began covering the man with thick blankets.
The ranger’s breathing hitched and accelerated in an odd pattern as consciousness wove through his mind. With a start Aragorn jerked upright, his gaze searching wildly around the room as he moved back from the two startled elves.
“Where?!...Halbarad?” Aragorn glanced around him, his surroundings not quite making sense in his injured state.
“No, Estel, you are home,” Elladan reassured. He grasped the man’s wrist and gently pressed Aragorn back down onto the bed.
Allowing himself to be restrained, Estel glanced between his brothers. His head hurt and his eyesight was blurry. “Elladan?” He questioned the elf on his left, his confusion showing through his furrowed brow.
“No, Elrohir,” the twin corrected gently. With a nod to the other elf he redirected the man’s attention to his right. “Elladan is over there.”
Aragorn nodded slowly. Reality was shifting beneath him as he tried to keep hold of consciousness. His vision blurred and images ghosted in and out of his conscious waking thoughts.
“Halbarad?” The word was slurred as he turned towards Elladan.
“He will live,” Elrohir answered. “They will all live. They are fine. The others are caring for them.”
It took too much effort to glance back at the twin that was speaking, so Aragorn kept his gaze locked onto his eldest brother and simply nodded slowly.
He started to shake once more as his body caught up with the fact that it was wounded, tired and cold. The man grabbed hold of Elladan’s wrist and pulled him closer as the two elves covered him up once more with the warm blankets.
“What is it, Estel?” Elladan was worried that something more might be wrong with his younger brother, something they had overlooked or missed.
“There were orcs,” Aragorn stated simply as though that sentence were enough to answer all the questions.
“Yes, we know.” Elladan brushed the hair away from the man’s face with his free hand as he bent over the young ranger. “You’re safe now.”
“There were orcs,” he simply repeated. A shudder shook his frame and he closed his eyes against the tears that threatened to betray him.
“El,” Elrohir whispered softly as he climbed onto the bed next to Aragorn. They hadn’t heard their younger brother whisper that phrase with such a forlorn tone of voice since he had been much younger.
The house had quieted below them and no sounds drifted up to the private rooms. Without giving it too much thought, Elladan lay down on the covers next to Aragorn. The man had not released the death grip he had on the elf’s wrist.
“It will be alright, Estel,” Elladan barely spoke the words, as he pulled the man against him. He cradled Aragorn’s head against his chest and let the man feel him speaking.
Elrohir climbed onto the bed on the other side of his brothers and laid his head on Aragorn’s shoulder, his arm draped over the young man’s chest. Slowly, Estel’s left hand touched Elrohir’s arm and gently rested on it. His breathing slowed and hitched slightly as he calmed down, nestled between the twins and warm under the pile of blankets.
Aragorn tensed as he remembered the events of the day. He had seen Halbarad go down beneath a wave of orcs. It brought back frightful memories of the day his parents were killed, images that he had buried deep in his mind hidden away from conscious thought. The fighting had kept him away from helping his friend. He feared losing the man the same way he had lost his family. He fought his way through the mass of dark creatures until the blow that had sent him spiraling into darkness stopped his forward movement. He hadn’t felt so helpless or afraid for many years. Maybe his Ada was right and he was not quite old enough to be out on his own just yet. He didn’t feel well enough to be thinking such thoughts.
His grip tightened on Elladan’s wrist as he pulled the elf closer to him.
“I hate orcs,” Aragorn whispered softly. Elladan chuckled lightly at the statement.
“We all do,” Elrohir answered.
“They give me nightmares,” Aragorn continued. “They always have.”
“I know. Us too,” Elladan reassured. “They aren’t here though and they can’t get to you here. You are safe now, so sleep, little brother. Just sleep.” The elf’s voice deepened and softened sending the human into restful slumber.
With a sigh, Aragorn shifted closer to Elladan and succumbed to the elvish command.
Elrohir pulled the coverlet up over the three of them, tossing the far edge over Elladan.
“He hasn’t been that afraid since he came here,” Elladan commented. He glanced over the sleeping man and watched his twin.
“I know,” Elrohir agreed. He smiled softly as he glanced down at the young human. “He hasn’t wanted us to stay with him at night for quite some time either.”
“Are you saying we should enjoy it while we can?” Elladan laughed softly.
“Yes, I think we should. And I would bet this isn’t the last time he has night terrors, nor comes home in need of patching up.” Elrohir smiled at his twin and lay his head back down against his younger brother. “I weary myself. Wake me in the morning.” He murmured as he moved into a more comfortable position and relaxed fully.
“’Nite, El,” Elladan whispered into the quiet of the room. The glow globe had nearly burned down and the shadows on the walls lengthened and became indistinct as darkness crept into the bedroom, wrapping them all in peaceful slumber.
of the occupants noticed when hours later the door was pressed open and
entered, holding a small light in his hands. At first he was
alarmed by the
state of his youngest son. The bruises on Aragorn’s face stood
against the youth’s pale skin.
Leaning over the bed, Elrond carefully inspected his youngest. Aragorn’s head had been bandaged and his clothes changed. He was bracketed between the twins and had a good hold on both of them. Gently, Elrond peeled the bandage back from Aragorn’s head. He was pleased to see the wound was superficial only. Further investigation turned up the ranger’s boots in the corner. All the blankets that could be spared had been piled on the bed atop his three sleeping children.
With a sigh of relief, Elrond gently touched his eldest’s face. He had been so afraid of what he would find when he looked in on the human. “Sleep well,” he whispered. He was suddenly shaken by the distinct premonition that this would not be the last time he found them all three tucked into bed together with one or more of them in need of medical help. The thought alone was enough to send panic through his heart. Raising twins had been hard. Raising a human was proving to be tasking.
But he wouldn’t have traded it for all of Middle-earth. Content that his children were whole and sleeping soundly, he stole quietly out of the room and headed for his quarters. The day had been tiring. But he was pleased with how it had all ended.
Slowly the tightness that had wrapped around his heart eased up. Yes, the future was uncertain, there was darkness haunting the path ahead it was true, but they were together and as far as he could tell they always would be. Love did things to the heart that reason would never be able to fathom – like taking a human child into his home and into his heart. It had surprised his friends when he had taken in Aragorn, but it had surprised him the most.
With a smile he entered his own room and sank down on to the bed.
Life never had turned out the way he imagined it would – not in all of his thousands of years of living. He doubted it ever would.