Stories > Jay's quicklist
Though a bitter wind blew outside, hurling sleet against the windows,
inside the room was quiet and peaceful. Heavy curtains shut the
icy weather out and kept the warmth in.
Celebrían sat by the fireside, engrossed in a book of ancient
lays from Númenor, while Elladan and Elrohir were both working
on an essay Erestor had set them. They were seated at opposite
ends of the table to prevent them copying each other – though she
reflected that it was a pointless safeguard. Their work was so
similar it would be indistinguishable in any case – though given half a
chance Elladan would indeed leave his brother to do all the
work. They were working in blissful silence for
once. The only sounds were the occasional sigh, the crack
and hiss of flames from the fire, and the muffled howl of the wind.
At last Elrohir finished, and wrote the final word with a
flourish. He flung the quill down – and a large blot of ink
spread over his last few lines.
He gave a cry of dismay. “Balrog’s balls, El! Now look what you made me do!”
“Me?” Elladan cried from the other end of the table, indignant at this unjust accusation. “I didn’t do anything!”
“Yes you did!” Elrohir retorted. “You knocked the table! You must have! You …”
“Elladan! Elrohir!” Celebrían snapped. “Stop
arguing!” She frowned. “Elrohir, you know very well that
Elladan did no such thing. And please do not use words like that.”
He looked puzzled. “What words, Nana? Do you mean Balrog’s …”
“Yes!” She interrupted him before he could repeat the expression,
and took a deep breath. “Where did you learn words like that?”
Elrohir looked both guilty and confused; aware that he had done something
wrong, but not quite sure what it was. “Well …” he looked
at her expression and gulped. “I heard someone say it.”
“Someone? Who?” she insisted.
Elrohir squirmed, and looked down the table for support from
Elladan. The accusation still rankled though, and Elladan kept
his head down, concentrating on his work and pretending to be unaware
of his brother’s dilemma. Elrohir gave him a look of disgust at
this betrayal, and Celebrían found it hard to suppress her
amusement and maintain a look of stern disapproval.
She knew perfectly well where Elrohir had heard the phrase, of
course. It was a favourite of Glorfindel’s. Her sons rather
hero-worshipped him, and he could do no wrong in their eyes – but they
were old enough to know that some things overheard should not be
repeated. Glorfindel’s colourful expressions were among them.
“Who?” she repeated.
Elrohir scuffed his foot against the rug. “Someone,” he muttered.
She let the silence draw out; waiting. Elrohir
sighed. “Glorfindel,” he admitted at last. “But Nana,
what’s wrong with saying Balrog’s balls? Glorfindel says it all
the time. You don’t tell him off!”
“Glorfindel is a grown elf – and I am not his naneth. There are
some things that adults say and do which you should not – which you
know perfectly well! You do not hear your father or me say
such things. Now, promise me that you will not say that again.”
Elrohir scowled. Before he could answer, the study door flew open
and Elrond came in, casting off his cloak and shaking snow from his
hair. “Morgoth’s teeth, it is cold out there!” he
Elrohir gave a snort of laughter which was echoed by Elladan, and
Celebrían resisted the temptation to bury her face in her
hands. Elrond stopped in mid step, his gaze switching from
his wife to his sons.
“What? What did I say?”