Two by Two

Chapter Three: Four for Joy

by Jay of Lasgalen

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Elrond gazed at the still, lifeless body of his son in his arms, his tears flowing unheeded.  How could a day that should have been full of joy and hope suddenly turn to such desperate heartbreak?  How could any of them withstand this tragedy?

He looked blindly at Celebrían.  She rocked Elladan gently, and had one hand held out toward him imploringly for the child he held.  He felt a sense of bitter helplessness, and a deep anger at himself, at the Valar, for not doing something, for allowing this to happen.

Someone, it appeared,  was trying to do something.  Nindamos, the healer he had specially chosen to assist in the birth, was attempting to remove the baby from his desperate grasp.  “My lord Elrond, let me help.  Let me at least try!”

Elrond refused to relinquish the body, but relaxed his hold a little as Nindamos placed a finger tip on the baby’s chest, pressing up and down very gently.  Then he covered the tiny mouth and nose and exhaled carefully, once, twice, before resuming his careful massage.  He repeated the pattern several times before finally lifting his head in despair.  “There is nothing,” he said numbly.  He could not bring himself to meet Elrond’s eyes.  “Nothing.  It is too late; there is nothing I can do.  He – he is dead.  I am so sorry, my lord.”  He sank to the floor, weeping.

By the Valar, was there nothing anyone could do?  *Blessed Elbereth, help me!* Elrond prayed, finally tearing his gaze from his son’s face.  He looked up, realising it was growing dark.  The first star of the evening shone brightly above the tree-lined horizon.  In that moment – whether his prayers were answered, or whether he came to his senses, he would never know – his blind panic disappeared, and was replaced by an icy calm.  He was not helpless, he could do something.  He had heard others describe him as the greatest healer in Middle Earth.  It was time to see if they were right, if he could save his son.

He placed his hand, the fingers outspread, on the tiny chest, covering it completely.  It was easy, now, to find the inner silence that held the core of his healing power.  Eyes closed, he called upon that energy, channelling it, all of it, into the tiny body he held.  Unleashed, it poured forth, flowing between them in a flood.  He willed life back to his son, concentrating on breathing, heartbeat and blood flow.  Oblivious to all else, he did not hear Celebrían’s gasp as she saw the nimbus of light that surrounded her husband and son.

He sensed the life returning long before he could feel any movement beneath his hand.  Then there was a choking gasp and a shrill cry, and his fingers detected a faint heartbeat, just the merest flutter, but it was enough.  A faint thread of melody and thought wove into his consciousness again.  Opening his eyes, he saw the pale skin, the blue lips, suddenly flush with colour as the icy pallor was replaced with the healthy pink of life.

Now there were two matching cries filling the room as his sons – both of them! – wailed piteously.  Celebrían, tears still streaming down her face, positioned Elladan more carefully at her side, and extended her arms for their other son.  “Give him to me!” she demanded incredulously.  She all but snatched the child from him, pulling the blanket aside to examine him carefully, counting fingers and toes, before looking up at last.  “He is alive,” she whispered in awe.  “He is alive.”

Silently, full of wonder, Elrond gave her the other mithril bracelet, and she placed it on one tiny wrist, before placing a very tender kiss on his cheek.  “I name you Elrohir,” she whispered softly.  “Come, meet your twin.  This is Elladan.”  Shifting her position slightly, she arranged herself so she held both twins side by side.  Abrupt silence fell as the piercing newborn wails stopped instantly.

Slightly puzzled, she looked at Elrond.  “They are together again,” he explained quietly, remembering.  Stumbling a little, he sank down wearily on the bed beside her, closing his eyes in exhaustion.  The healing had drained him as never before.  “Too much,” he mumbled.  “Too much.”   Opening one eye, he elucidated:  “I have never done that before.  I have prolonged life, and aided healing, and even eased death, but never have I reversed death and returned life where there was none.  I did not know that I could do that, that anyone could!  But I fear it may have been too much for him, too overwhelming.  So much power …”

“What do you mean?  It could have – harmed him?”

“Nay.  The worst that could happen is that it could waken any latent healing abilities of his own.  He may become a healer like his ada, in time.”  Elrond could feel himself drifting into sleep, and with an immense effort of will, forced himself awake.   Together with Nindamos, who still hovered anxiously, he performed all the usual checks on newborn elflings, paying particular attention to Elrohir.  But apart from a slightly reddened mark across his neck which was rapidly fading, both twins appeared whole and healthy.

Finally, Elrond turned to Nindamos and his assistant.  “Thank you, you can leave us now.  And would you pass a message to Glorfindel and Erestor?  Tell them – tell them that all is well, and I will see them shortly.”  He dismissed the healers, and the family was left alone.  Dusk had fallen, and lamps had been lit, casting a dim illumination around the room.  A gentle evening breeze stirred the filmy curtains, and Elrond crossed to the windows to look across the valley.  Eärendil glinted just above the trees, and he smiled.  “Thank you, father,” he murmured. 

Returning to the bed, he watched with awe as Celebrían nursed the twins.  All three were newcomers to this task, but there seemed to be an instinctive knowledge.  “You know what to do?” he asked with a smile.

“Aye.  So do they,” she said in wonder.  “Look at them!”  They suckled peacefully, their eyes half closed in contentment. 

Elrond settled beside them on the bed, watching in delight as first one, then the other slowly stopped feeding and fell asleep.  “You were right, they are beautiful,” he murmured.  He traced the delicately tapered ears with a gentle fingertip.  Both had the same dark, downy hair and the same cloudy grey eyes, closed now in sated sleep.  “They are exactly alike.  Identical.  Do you think we will be able to tell them apart?”

“In time.  I am sure there will be things that are different about them.  But it is a blessing we had the bracelets made for them!”  Celebrían nestled into the curve of his arm, and did not protest as he reached over and gently took the nearest elfling – Elladan – from her, leaving her with Elrohir.  Both twins stirred a little as they were moved apart, but they were too deep in slumber to make any complaint.  A little anxiously, she examined Elrohir again, smiling at the tight grip that grasped her finger.  “Elrond?  He will be all right?  It was a very long time before he drew breath. You are sure he took no lasting harm?”

“He is well,” he reassured her.  “Nindamos and I took particular care to be sure.  He is well, have no fear.”

“Thank you,” she sighed drowsily.  “Thank you for our beautiful sons, especially this little one.  I had no idea that miracles still happened.”  She drifted into sleep, but did not relax the arm that cradled the elfling still gripping her finger.

Awash with pure contentment, Elrond held the three, feeling a love so strong it almost hurt.  A sense of profound awe filled him as he contemplated what he had done.  It was something he had never believed possible – but he had done it.  It was truly a miracle.

He was skimming sleep himself when there was a gentle tap at the door, and a voice called his name.  Glorfindel.  And no doubt Erestor as well.  “Come in,” he called softly, not wishing to disturb the three sleepers.

The door opened, and Erestor peered in, a smile lighting his face as he saw the bundle which Elrond held.  “We bring greetings to the new parents,” he said, indicating Glorfindel who stood behind him.  Elrond watched as they drew near, waiting for the moment of realisation to dawn.

Glorfindel’s smile broadened, and he gave a laugh of delight.  “Two!” he exclaimed.  “So this is what you were not telling us!  Twins?”

“Aye.  Identical, it seems.  This is Elladan,” Elrond indicated with a nod of his head the child he held.  “And that is Elrohir.”  He freed a finger and pointed to the baby Celebrían cradled.   An indulgent smile spread across his face.  “My sons,” he added proudly.

“Twins!”  Erestor repeated.  “Congratulations, my friend.  That is wonderful news.  What of Celebrían?”  He caressed Elladan’s head, and placed a gentle kiss on his brow.  The elfling did not stir.

On the other side of the bed, Glorfindel stroked Elrohir’s soft hair, and bent to kiss him.  “Greetings, little one.  One day I shall tell you and your brother such tales of adventure and heroes!”  He turned to Celebrían, kissing her as well, a gentle brush of the lips.  “Well done, my dear.  You have two beautiful sons.  They are well?”  he asked Elrond.

“They are well.  We all are, now.  I will talk to you later, my friends.  And tomorrow we will go to the Hall of Fire, and present Elladan and Elrohir, the twin heirs of Imladris.  Goodnight.”

Even as they left and the door closed behind them, Elrond was sinking into dreams again, holding his wife and sons safe within his arms, dreaming of elfling mischief when he and Elros had been young.

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