The year turned, and Spring returned to Imladris. Amazingly, although both Erestor and Glorfindel looked forward to the approaching birth, vying with one another over what comfort and support they could provide Celebrían; and which of them would be the most devoted ‘uncle’ to the future heir of Imladris, neither suspected for a moment that there was to be more than one child. Elrond spoke secretly with his senior healers, so that they were prepared for a double birth, and organised a nurse to help in caring for his sons once they were born. Perversely, he said not one word to those who were his closest, most trusted friends and advisors – but it was becoming increasingly difficult to remember to say ‘he’ and not ‘they’ when talking of the birth.
One day in early spring, Elrond came across his wife sitting in one of the secluded glades along the banks of the Bruinen. She looked up with a glad smile as he approached, but to his eyes she looked weary. Much of her spirit and strength was poured into the growing twins, and however much he lent his own fea to support her, they drained her energy. He sat down beside her on the bench, and she leaned against him contentedly. A pale, watery sun shone down through the trees, glinting off the butter-yellow petals of the earliest primroses. “You look tired, my love,” he told her.
“I am,” she admitted, nestling a little closer. “They are exhausting. Just think what it will be like once they are born! But however weary I feel, I think I have never felt so happy.”
Elrond held her close, and she relaxed against him with a sigh of pure contentment. He dropped one hand and placed it over her swollen abdomen, his fingers spread wide, and extended his healing senses to strengthen and support her, as he always did now. He listened instinctively to the now-familiar songs, hearing two distinct, intertwined melodies harmonising together. “Good morning, my sons,” he greeted them quietly. There was a sudden movement beneath his hand, and he laughed. “They are restless today,” he commented softly.
“They are always restless,” Celebrían murmured. “You know that. They kept me awake for most of last night, tossing and turning!”
“I know. But it will not be for much longer now. Soon they will be too big to move so freely, and you will have a little peace, I hope. I wonder if they kick each other as much as they kick you?”
Celebrían smiled drowsily. “Probably,” she agreed sleepily. “In another month we will be able to see them, and can watch what they do to one another! And then we can all have sleepless nights, and Glorfindel and Erestor can suffer as we do!”
Elrond laughed, tightening his arm around her, and she rested her head against his shoulder. “I wonder what they will look like?” she murmured. “Will they be dark like you –” she touched his dark hair – “or take after me? Do you think they will be alike?”
“Who knows? Just because they are twins, it does not mean they will look the same. Perhaps one will be like you; one like me. Or perhaps they will resemble our parents. Or perhaps –” He stopped as she twisted around to look at him, her finger touching his lips.
“Hush. It does not matter, I know they will be beautiful.” She winced at another hefty kick, then smiled. “Lively, as well, I suspect.”
He sent a tendril of thought towards the twins. “Rest, little ones,” he told them silently. “Rest now, and give your mother some peace. You exhaust her with your antics! Sleep now, my sons. Sleep.”
He began to sing softly, a gentle lullaby he, together with Elros, had heard at their mother’s breast. Fleetingly, he gave thanks that his own sons would never have to face the bitter choice he had had to make, and prayed that they would never be sundered from one another. Despite the joy that first Celebrían, and now his sons, brought him, there was a part of him that was always missing, and could never be replaced.
Gradually the movements beneath his hand slowed and stilled. The murmur of song quietened, and he knew that they slept. He turned his head towards Celebrían. “Is that better?” he began to ask, but then stopped. She, too, was asleep, leaning against him, her eyes empty in slumber.
He kissed her gently; love for his wife, and the two elflings she carried within her; overwhelming him, and wished that this moment – as he held protectively; possessively, those he loved most in all of Arda – would last for ever.
Only a month later, Elrond was to remember the peaceful tranquillity of that moment as he and Celebrían paced endlessly along the grassed terrace and walkways that surrounded their quarters. Celebrían’s pains had started that morning at dawn, and it was now almost . They walked together, stopping at times while she drew a deep breath and leaned against him. At last she looked at him, a mixture of joy and fear in her eyes. “It is time,” she murmured.
They sat together on the great bed they shared, as Elrond supported his wife in every way he could. She leaned against him, her back resting against his chest as they breathed together, hands clasping tightly. His fea strengthened her, and she was able to relax a little as the moment came. A mighty push; a few soft, whispered endearments, then another push; and their firstborn lay in the healer’s hands, squalling lustily.
Two tiny bracelets of mithril lay ready by the bed, already engraved, and Elrond took one, clasping it around the baby’s wrist. “Elladan,” he breathed, brushing a finger across the child’s face very tenderly. “Welcome, my son.”
The baby continued to cry as Celebrían rocked him gently. “Hush, little one,” she told him. “Your brother will be here soon. Be patient.” She looked expectantly at the healer at the foot of the bed. “How long?”
“Not long, my lady. Not long.” But he looked uncertainly at his companion.
Elrond already felt a prickle of unease. He was not the healer here, his role this time was that of loving husband and father, but he knew there was something wrong. The song he still heard from the unborn was faltering, fading. Then it ceased altogether.
In Celebrían’s arms, Elladan continued to cry, refusing to be pacified by suckling. She cradled him absently, while looking at Elrond. “Do something!” she cried desperately.
The healer now held a tiny body, limp and unmoving. The cord was wrapped tightly about the baby’s neck. Swiftly he clamped and cut it with a small silver knife, but there was still no response.
Numbly, Elrond took his son from the healer, scarcely hearing Celebrían’s feverish denials. “No,” she moaned. “No!” He placed his hand on the baby’s chest, but there was no intake of breath, no flicker of a heartbeat. Panic stricken, he tried to call upon his own healing skills, but could not focus himself, could not find the well of stillness within that was necessary for his work.
The room fell silent apart from Celebrían’s desperate sobs, and Elladan’s continuing wails. His son. His only son.Stories > Previous > Next