“But why did you not tell me you fell off the stable roof?” Elrond demanded as he stitched the long gash on the side of his son’s head.
“Because we weren’t supposed to be up there,” Elrohir muttered. “And El promised he wouldn’t say anything!” He glared resentfully at his twin.
“It is just as well that he did, or I would never have known. And it is just as well that you have a very hard head.” Elrond placed the final stitch. “Now drink this, and go to sleep – but you will still have a headache when you wake up.”
Elrohir grimaced as he drank the bitter potion. “Why does it always taste so foul? Why can’t it be miruvor instead?” He touched the side of his head, and scowled at his father. “And why did you have to shave my hair? I must look ridiculous!”
Elladan laughed. “Stop being so cantankerous, El! Now go to sleep. I will stay right here, and I will be here when you wake up.”
“You promised not to say anything!” Elrohir snapped as soon as Elrond had gone.
“I know. I’m sorry – but I should have known better than make such a foolish promise in the first place! You looked terrible, El.” Elladan paused, then added bluntly, “You still do.”
“I felt terrible too,” Elrohir admitted. “I suppose you were right to tell father. I just felt such a fool for falling in the first place!”
“You would have looked an even bigger fool if you passed out in the middle of the Hall of Fire,” Elladan pointed out unsympathetically. “Just go to sleep. I will still be here in the morning.”
Elrohir blinked, fighting the pull of Elrond’s sleeping draught. “And I will still look ridiculous,” he grumbled. “Half my hair has been shaved off – it will take weeks to grow back and look normal!”
“Then shave the rest and wear a wig!” Elladan retorted heartlessly. “Go to sleep.”
Elrohir glared at him again, but his eyes felt heavy and the fog of sleep surrounding him thickened. He lay down carefully and rested his aching head against the pillows. His eyes closed, and he barely heard Elladan’s whisper as sleep overcame him.“Goodnight, little brother. Sleep well.”
He awoke early the next morning to the sound of birdsong and a bright spill of sunlight pouring in through the open window. The headache and dizziness still lurked, and he decided not to try sitting up just yet. Instead he turned his head carefully, and as expected saw Elladan dozing in a chair next to the bed. He squinted and rubbed his eyes, then blinked again. Something did not look right.
“El?” he mumbled.
Elladan woke and sat up with a yawn. “Good morning, little brother. How are you feeling now?”
Elrohir stared at his brother, sure now that he was seeing things. He must have hit his head far harder than he realised.
“El?” he asked at last. “What happened to you?”
Half of Elladan’s hair was gone, for one side of his head had been shaved in an exact copy of Elrohir’s. “What have you done?” he added.Elladan shrugged. “Well, I could not let you suffer alone. Besides, people would have found it far too easy to tell us apart!” He gave a wide smile. “This way, we still look identical.”