Elrohir realised he was too restless and uneasy to sleep, so he slipped from his room and through the house into the gardens. Walking in the soft solitude of night he felt his spirit eased by the distant murmur of the streams and waterfalls; and the stars glimpsed through the trees. The sweet scents of jasmines and honeysuckles hung in the air, and he drew a deep, calming breath as the chaotic scenes of the evening replayed themselves. He had been angry, he realised; was still angry – with Elladan, for placing him in this situation; with Lindella – surely if she was at all interested in him she would have realised; and with himself, for caring so much. It was, after all, a situation he should be used to by now: few in Imladris could tell him and Elladan apart. He was disappointed in Glorfindel, though – the warrior had known them all their lives, and surely should know better.
Initially he was not alone as he wandered – others also sought the peace and tranquillity of the darkness. Soon, though, he reached a quieter area, and sat by a small stream. Even here he was not alone, though – above the trickle of the water he became aware of someone crying softly.
His first instinct was to slip away quietly – he had no wish to intrude on anyone who so clearly wished for privacy; and tears made him feel awkward and unsure of what to say or do. It seemed wrong, though, to ignore such distress, when he might be able to offer a little comfort or a friendly word. “Hello?” he called quietly. “Are you all right?”
There was a slight gasp and a sniff, and a girl stepped from the shadows. “You!” she exclaimed in utter disgust. “Can you not leave me alone?”
“Which one are you this time?” she demanded. “Although it does not really matter – I have no wish to speak to either of you!” She brushed a hand across her face, and sniffed again. “Did you come after me to laugh at me again? Just go away, Elladan – Elrohir – whoever you are! Leave me!”
“Elrohir. I am Elrohir.”
Lindella glared at him. “Does it matter? I suppose your brother is hovering somewhere nearby in any case. He usually is." Her eyes narrowed. "And he was the one pretending to be you! Just leave me alone, Elrohir – both of you!” She pushed past him and hurried along the path.
Elrohir stared after her in dismay. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse. If he had had his wits about him, he would have attempted to explain his lack of involvement in whatever foolish game Elladan had been playing – but he had never even got the chance, and Lindella was now even more incensed than before.
The night had somehow lost its gentle appeal, and he returned to the house morosely. Passing the dining hall he snatched a half-empty decanter of wine and a dirty glass from a side table, and returned to his room. There were several bottles – and clean glasses – in the shared study which linked Elladan’s room with his; but he had no wish to encounter his brother just yet. Pouring a glass of the wine, he took a slow sip, then leaned back on his bed in a gloomy silence.
A glass of wine later, there was a knock at the door. He ignored it, knowing who it was, but after a moment the door opened and Elladan came in.
“El? Are you still speaking to me?” he asked warily.
“No,” Elrohir responded shortly.
Elladan crossed to the bed, and sat at the foot with his feet drawn up. “Good. That means you cannot tell me to go away,” he reasoned, and sighed. “El, I swear to you that that was not my fault. Really. She came and sat with me – I had no idea she thought I was you! We were just talking – I suppose she seemed more friendly than usual, but thought nothing of it. She never mentioned my name, or yours – she just said ‘you’, or ‘your brother’. It was only at the end, when she said ‘Elrohir’, that I realised! I am sorry, El – I never meant for anything like that to happen – I had no idea!”
Elrohir did not reply, and Elladan tried again. “I know that you like Lindella – you know I would never try to come between you, El. You know that!”
Elrohir sighed, and slowly sat up. He did know. He trusted Elladan – they had their arguments and disagreements, rather bitter at times; but when it came to it, Elladan would never do anything to deliberately hurt him. “I know,” he admitted. “I suppose I should have realised. But you know my chances with her are totally ruined now? I saw her again just now, by the stream. She was crying. She thinks we did do it deliberately – to play a trick; to tease her – who knows what she thinks we were doing? I just wish …” he broke off.
“You just wish what?” Elladan asked. He waited, and when Elrohir did not respond, added tangentially, “Arwen said you told her you sometimes wished you were not a twin.”
Elrohir turned swiftly to face his brother. “You know I did not mean it like that!” he exclaimed. “I just meant …” he paused, trying to put his feelings into words that would not cause unintentional hurt to Elladan. “I sometimes wish we did not look so alike,” he explained. “I wish that people who should know better – like Glorfindel – did not still confuse us. I wish that people would look at us when they speak to us, and see the differences, not the similarities.”
“Even mother called me ‘Elrohir’ the other day,” Elladan admitted gloomily. “And if she cannot tell us apart – what hope is there for anyone else?” They regarded one another despondently for a moment, and then, unbidden, began to grin.
“She called you Elrohir?” Elrohir echoed. “You are right – what hope is there for anyone else?” He gave a short laugh, and shook his head wryly. “Ah, well. Perhaps one day. But first …” he hesitated, and looked at Elladan again. “First I want to find Lindella again, and explain.”
“Explain?” Elladan repeated incredulously. “Elrohir, she is already furious with you – and upset. Now you want to explain as well?”
Elrohir was surprised. “Yes, of course – why not? You did not see her, El – she thought we did it deliberately.”
Elladan shook his head sadly. “You can be very dense sometimes, little brother. You are going to tell her that she was the one in the wrong? Elrohir, she is an elleth. She is not going to like hearing she made a mistake. I think you will just make matters worse!”
Elrohir pondered his brother’s words. He wanted to talk to Lindella, but he could see the sense of what Elladan had said as well. “Well …perhaps I should see her later. When she has calmed down again. Tomorrow, perhaps.” He gave Elladan a hard stare. “And that reminds me – have you done the duty rosters yet? Because I am not going to do them for you, or make excuses for you again! If Glorfindel comes to me demanding to know why they are not on his desk, I shall take the greatest pleasure in explaining their absence to him!”
“Yes, they are done. All of them.” Elladan began to count the various duties off on his fingers. “Patrols for the north and south; the eastern hills and the border to the west. And the guards by the ford. All done, all the duties for the next month!” he finished with satisfaction.
“And have you given them to Glorfindel yet?”
Elladan yawned. “Not yet – in the morning. El, do you have any idea how late it is? I want to go to bed!”
Elrohir suddenly realised how very tired he was. It had been a most difficult evening, and was now very late. But first … “Do you want me to check the duties for you?” he offered suddenly. He felt a little guilty at the way he had suspected Elladan. “Just to make sure?”
Elladan nodded. “Yes, if you like. Fresh eyes may see some foolish error.” He collected the sheets, and handed them to his brother.
Reading swiftly, Elrohir scanned the lists. Although Elladan hated such work, when he eventually settled to it he did it well. His true skill, though, was in training the younger novices in the use of various weapons – where he was proving to be an inspirational leader. “Yes, they look fine,” Elrohir agreed as he read the final sheet. “Although …” he paused, and flipped back to an earlier sheet. “Did you know you have Ilmarin in the north and the south patrols at the same time? I know he is good, but he is not that good!”
“I have?” Elladan examined the sheets. “No matter – I can take him off the north patrol easily enough. Thank you, El.” He grinned. “No elf can be in two places at once – apart from us!”
Elrohir nodded. “Or so people believe. We are going to have to do something, though – I am tired of being mistaken for you. I am sure you are as well.”
“I agree. Tomorrow we are going to have to think of something. Fooling people by looking alike and dressing alike was fun when we were younger – but no more. It causes more problems than ever.” Elladan yawned again. “Tomorrow, El – I am too tired to think now!
Elladan bade his brother good night, and retreated to his own room. Elrohir opened the windows to the night, blew out the candles, and undressed before climbing into bed. The reconciliation with Elladan had eased his mind, and despite his remaining concerns over Lindella, he quickly fell into a dreaming reverie.
He was not aware of the door to his room silently opening, nor of the slight figure that slid through the gap. Ghost-like, the intruder crossed to the bed and looked down at him for a moment. She seemed to hesitate fractionally, then with a nod of sudden resolve, stepped closer, raising her hand. Reflected moonlight glinted off the blade she held, poised to strike.Stories > First > Next