Elrohir continued to hold Elladan for what remained of the night. Now that Elladan knew his brother lived, he should be able to draw strength and comfort from the contact. Elrohir gazed unseeingly at the darkened windows, trying to imagine the black despair and soul-numbing anguish Elladan must have felt in his nightmares. To be told not only that his twin was dead, but then to relive that moment, and believe it anew – his heart wept for the pain Elladan had endured.
He was still concerned about Elladan. There was the injury to his arm, the residual effects of the poison, and the fever that continued to burn throughout his body. Although he could not help but rejoice that his brother had awakened and been lucid for a short while, the combined onslaught of the three factors of the original injury could still overwhelm him.
Across the room, the door into the chamber opened, and Arwen entered. She moved across to the bed quietly, hesitantly, and stopped before she reached it, gazing down at her brothers, reluctant to disturb them.
Elrohir turned his head slightly. “Arwen. Come and join us.” He indicated the edge of the bed on Elladan’s other side. She sat, and leaned over to hug them both.
“I thought perhaps you were asleep,” she explained. “How is he?”
Elrohir smiled slightly. “I was not asleep, just thinking,” he said. “El woke up a little while ago. He knew me; he talked to me.” The relief and joy on his face was obvious. “Now I think he is just sleeping. But now that you are here, I think I should see to the fire. It went out some time ago.” He moved slightly, and settled Elladan back against the pillows before sliding off the bed and crossing to the fireplace.
When he returned, Arwen had taken his place, sitting at Elladan’s side and holding one limp hand between hers. Elrohir instead went to a high-backed couch beside the bed and sat down, drawing his feet up and leaning wearily against the padded side. “Father looked in twice during the night,” he commented. “And Mother, and Legolas. I wondered when it would be your turn. Are you going to tell me to get some sleep? They all did.”
Smiling, Arwen shook her head. “No, I know you too well to suggest it. You will never rest while you are still worried about El.”
Elrohir smiled. It was true, Arwen knew him better than anyone, apart from Elladan. The three had always been very close, even as children, though he feared that he and Elladan had often – not always unintentionally – excluded Arwen by their bond. “Well, now that you are here, tell me what you have been doing. How are grandmother and grandfather? And what about Haldir? Has he asked you to marry him again?”
“They are well, all of them. And Haldir only asked me once. I think he is learning.” She leaned back against the head of the bed, still clasping Elladan’s hand, and began to tell of her year-long visit to Lórien. She spoke of the tranquillity of the wood, the peace and calm, and the murmuring, musical voice of Nimrodel; and gradually lulled Elrohir into much-needed sleep.
Elladan drifted closer to consciousness, but his thoughts were still scattered and confused. He had been dreaming such bitter dreams, full of darkness and despair. He had dreamed of Elrohir’s death, and could still feel where the desperate anguish of that had torn at him. But there had been another dream, one where Elrohir sat at his side, safe and well, though his eyes were full of worry. But which dream been real? Were either of them true? Had Elrohir truly been there, or was it just another hallucination? If so, it was the cruellest yet.
Warily, full of dread, Elladan opened his eyes again, praying fervently that he would see Elrohir there. He did not. Instead, there was Arwen, smiling at him. Her expression was concerned, but not grief-stricken. But where had she come from?
“Ar?” he asked weakly. “Why are you here? I thought …” he stopped as she placed a finger against his lips.
“Hush,” she told him. “Do not speak. I arrived yesterday, do you remember? Mother wrote to me, she was worried. She said it was time I came home. But I did not expect to find you at death’s door!”
Elladan gazed at her blankly. Had he truly been that ill? But why? “Was I? I – I cannot remember. Ar, what happened? And – where is Elrohir? I thought he was here, beside me. Was it – was it just a dream?” Unbidden, tears welled up in his eyes at the thought that it had just been a desperate figment of his imagination.
Matching tears shone in Arwen’s eyes. “Oh, Elladan, no! Have no fear. Look!” She touched his cheek with gentle fingers, turning his head slightly. “But hush, do not disturb him.”
Elrohir lay curled on the couch beside the bed, his feet at one end – their mother would not be pleased – and his head resting against the cushioned arm. His eyes were empty in sleep, and someone, Arwen presumably, had placed a light cover over him.
Elladan smiled in relief. “Good. He led me a merry dance these past few weeks, did you know that?” he whispered. “First he disappeared, and no-one knew where he was, then I thought he had managed to get himself killed. But it was poor Bereth instead.” He paused, exhausted by the few words, then finished, “Did you know that?”
Arwen hushed him again. “Yes, I knew. Legolas told me all about it. But rest for now. Let me tell you about Lórien.” Softly, her voice soothing, she told him about her stay in their grandparent’s realm, the quiet words again weaving a peaceful spell around him. Elladan slipped once more into dreams, safe in the knowledge that he was home, and that his beloved twin was indeed alive and well.
Arwen watched over her brothers as they both slept, thinking how odd it felt. The twins had always been very protective of her, despite the fact that she was not much younger than they were, and this reversal in their roles felt strange. It was dawn now, and she knew that as soon as their parents awoke – assuming they had slept at all – Elrond or Celebrían, or both of them, would be here again.
Sure enough, only moments later, the door opened and they both entered. “Is there any change?” Celebrían began, but then she caught sight of Elrohir, still asleep next to the bed. “I see that there must be,” she smiled. “Thank the Valar!”
“Elladan awoke again a short while ago,” Arwen explained. “He was still worried about Elrohir – he was afraid that when he spoke to him earlier it was just a dream. But I think he has accepted it now.”
Elrond moved to the bed and began to examine his son, checking his temperature, feeling his pulse. Elladan still had a slight fever, but it was less than it had been, although still higher than he liked. His pulse was steady, if a little fast, and equally strong in Elladan’s left wrist – the circulation in his injured arm did not seem to have been impaired. The only remaining test was to see how much feeling there was in that hand.
Elrond placed one hand on Elladan’s forehead, and said softly, “Elladan. Elladan, awake now.” His son responded almost immediately, his eyes flickering open once more. Elrond did not miss the way Elladan’s eyes turned at once towards Elrohir, checking his presence, before focusing again on his father. “Welcome back, my son. I am glad to see you awake again, at last. Would you like to have a drink?”
At Elladan’s nod, Elrond helped him to sit, before placing a cup in his right hand. Elladan raised it to his mouth, but then stopped, looking at it suspiciously. “What is it?”
Elrond ignored Arwen’s laugh, saying merely, “Watered wine, honey and herbs. Nothing else. No drugs to make you sleep, I promise. It is time to wake now.”
Elladan sipped the wine slowly. It was very well watered, he noticed, but the honey sweetened the taste and soothed his throat as he swallowed. As he finished, his hand began to shake a little, and Arwen leaned across and took the cup from him before it slipped from his grasp. He sighed in frustration.
“I want to see how much sensation you have in your hand,” Elrond said. He took his son’s hand, flexing the fingers and massaging them. “Can you feel that?” At Elladan’s nod, he continued, squeezing each fingertip in turn. “And that?”
“Yes,” Elladan confirmed. “El did the same thing when we were at Withypool, but I could feel nothing then.”
Elrond smiled approvingly. “He did? Good. He did well.”
“Of course. I was taught by the best,” Elrohir murmured drowsily, still half asleep. The voices had woken him, and he had been listening to the conversation. “El, how does your hand feel now?”
“Better. My arm throbs, but apart from that it feels much better.”
“That is well,” said Elrond. “Now, let us see what movement you have in your fingers. Squeeze my hand.”
Elladan tried, but he was unable to do more than curl his fingers slightly. “I cannot,” he confessed, rather worried. “That is all I can do.”
Elrohir sat up at that, trying to hide his concern, but shooting a worried glance at their father. He hoped that the damage done by the poison – which had been considerable – had not caused lasting injury.
“Well, it is early days yet,” said Elrond, sounding supremely unconcerned. “There is plenty of time for your arm to heal, and for your hand to strengthen. We will see how things are tomorrow. Sleep now. I think we all had very little rest last night.”
As the room emptied – even Elrohir finally persuaded to seek his bed – Elladan lay back, frustrated at his weakness. The smallest action exhausted him. He had been awake for a matter of minutes, and was already weary, and could feel his eyelids drooping once again. When would he feel stronger – and when would he regain movement in his hand?
As soon as it was light enough for him to roam the grounds of Imladris without alarming the guards too much, Legolas let himself out into the gardens. He had spent a restless night, sleeping fitfully, and had looked in to see Elladan at one time. There had been no change, and the strain and weariness showed clearly on Elrohir. He had stayed, talking quietly to them both, until Elrond arrived.
He made his way to a small stream that flowed through the trees. Others rarely came here, and he could seek the solitude he relished. Today, however, it was not to be, for there was already someone there. Legolas deliberately made his progress audible, and the other turned as he approached.
“Prince Legolas!” he exclaimed in some surprise.
“Greetings,” Legolas replied. The other elf looked vaguely familiar, but he could not recall a name. “Forgive me; I do not think I know you.”
His companion inclined his head slightly. “My name is Beregar. Bereth was my brother.”
“Then you have my deepest sympathy. I was with Elladan when we learned of his death. Elladan spoke very highly of your brother.”
“He did? He has not seen fit to mention it to me since his return.” Beregar sounded rather bitter.
Legolas frowned. “Obviously you are unaware, but Elladan is gravely ill. He received a minor wound that we did not realise, until it was too late, was poisoned.” He paused, his expression grim. “His family fear he may not live.”
Beregar regarded him in shock. “I – I did not know. Lord Elrohir said nothing of this.”
“Elrohir? When did you speak to him?”
“He came to see my mother yesterday, with some excuse for Bereth’s death, the reason why he sent Bereth off into the wilds while he stayed in the comfort and safety of a town!” Beregar abruptly turned his back on Legolas.
Legolas decided that, despite Beregar’s grief, he had to face the facts. “There was little comfort, or safety, in that town. The infirmary was full to overflowing, their only healer had fallen ill. There were over fifty patients there, and Elrohir had saved all of them, all but a handful. When we arrived, he had collapsed from exhaustion, after working for ten days, alone and without rest. As well as treating the sick, he had been using his own healing skills to help them. You must know from your mother, or Bereth, how dangerous that can be!”
“I do,” Beregar admitted. “They do not have such abilities themselves, but have often spoken of those who have. He must have taken a great risk.” He sighed. “I think perhaps I owe him an apology. My mother said as much last night. I should not have said the things I did.”
Legolas looked at him silently, one eyebrow raised in question.
“I accused him of sending Bereth to his death,” Beregar said quietly. “Of abandoning his commitments for an assignation with a woman – the healer you spoke of. That he could not possibly understand my grief, as his own brother was alive and well.”
Legolas flinched inwardly. Beregar could scarcely have said anything that would wound Elrohir more, yet he had said nothing when he returned to Elladan’s room. “I think perhaps you do owe him an apology,” he agreed. “But it may be best to wait until Elladan has regained consciousness. Elrohir may be in a better frame of mind then.”
Beregar nodded, and turned away towards the house. Legolas watched him go, hoping that the young guard would be able to find some peace to ease his heartache.Stories > First > Previous > Next