Third Age, 2159
Elrohir, sensing eyes on him yet again, turned slightly and surreptitiously scanned the hall. At first it seemed that no one was paying him or Elladan any undue attention, but then one of the visitors from Mithlond, seated towards the centre of the hall, glanced up. Catching his eye, she smiled slightly then dropped her head again.
He nudged his brother. “El? Who is that? Fair hair, five seats down from Círdan. Do we know her? She keeps looking this way.”
Elladan looked as instructed, then shrugged. “She does look very slightly familiar, but I cannot think of a name,” he admitted.
“Yes. I think we know her, but how?” As they spoke, she rose to her feet and approached, bringing a wine goblet and nearly full flagon as she came. As she drew near, the twins stood to greet her. “Welcome to Imladris, my lady,” Elrohir said formally.
“I trust you are enjoying the hospitality of this house?” Elladan added.
She nodded, and smiled again. “I am, my lords Elladan and Elrohir. Thank you.” Her smile widened. “I wonder if you remember me?”
Elladan frowned. “Forgive me. I feel I should know you, but cannot recall your name.”
Elrohir thought hard. Firienë. The name was also familiar, but how did he and Elladan know this woman?
She laughed. “You both look so puzzled! Forgive me, please. It is not fair to tease you. I would be most surprised if you did remember – you were merely a year old when I left. I was a nursemaid here before I married.”
“Firienë! You were Tasarian’s assistant. She often spoke of you,” Elladan recalled.
As far as Elrohir could remember, Tasarian had spoken of her assistant with at best, a fond exasperation. Firienë had, by all accounts, been remarkably accident prone. Elladan as always was being tactful.
“I often wonder, did your parents ever tell you of the dreadful mistake I made the first time I looked after you?” Firienë grimaced apologetically at the memory.
“Mistake? What mistake?” Elladan queried.
Elrohir caught his eye and grinned. Which mistake in particular would this be? From what they had heard, there had been many.
Firienë took another sip of her wine. “You were both so tiny – I think it was the day after you were born. Tasarian and I had to bath you, and she told me to undress you both.” She flushed a little, looking at the two handsome elves sitting at her side.
“Would you like to try that again now?” Elrohir murmured in a low voice. He took her hand and smiled at her, his eyes gleaming.
Elladan slapped his hand away. “Behave yourself, little brother! She is married!” To Firienë, he explained: “You will have to forgive him. He is an incorrigible flirt.”
“It does not matter.” She turned to face Elrohir. “Even if I were not married, it would never work between us, Elrohir,” she said solemnly. “I could never be interested in that way in you; not after I bathed you, and changed your soiled swaddling when you were an elfling. Forgive me.”
Elrohir felt the heat build in his face and glared at Elladan, who tried valiantly to keep a neutral expression. Elladan soon lost the battle and laughed aloud as he was treated to the rare sight of his twin flushing in chagrin.
Undaunted, Firienë continued, “Unfortunately, I took Tasarian’s instructions a little too literally. You both had small bracelets of mithril, engraved with your names. It was the only way to tell you apart at the time.”
“I remember,” Elladan told her. “I still have mine.” Elrohir, still mortified, silently nodded in agreement.
“Well, I took the bracelets off as well. I was horrified when I realised what I had done. There seemed no way to tell you apart!”
Despite himself, Elrohir laughed. “You mean I could really be Elladan? What happened then?”
“I have no idea how they did it, but your parents seemed quite confident that they sorted you out. They forgave me, but I never forgave myself.”
“I remember father once telling us that things were rather confused when we were born, and that El may have been born first. I always thought he was teasing us,” Elladan mused.
Elrohir prodded his brother. “Yes, because you were going through an ‘I-am-right-because-I-am-eldest’ phase. It put you in your place. Of course he was teasing!”
“He must have been,” Firienë agreed. “Things were certainly frantic, but that was not the reason for all the confusion and panic, was it?”
The twins exchanged a puzzled glance. “Confusion and panic? What do you mean? All what confusion?” Elladan asked her. “What happened when we were born?”
Firienë shook her head. “Not you. It was when Elrohir was born, of course. I heard all about it later.”
Elrohir gazed at her, intrigued. “Very well. You seem to have successfully roused my curiosity. What happened when I was born?”
Firienë caught herself. “You do not know? No one told you?”
“Told me what?” Elrohir was beginning to sound exasperated. He glanced at Elladan, still puzzled. This was another tale they had never heard.
Firienë, however, seemed to realise she had said too much. She looked at her glass, set it down, and rose to her feet. “Never mind. It was a long time ago now, anyway. Now, if you will excuse me, I will perhaps see you tomorrow.” Before the twins could stop her, she moved away and was lost in the throng.
Elrohir stared at his brother, and raised an eyebrow. “Well? Did that make any sense to you?”
“No. None. She was being very mysterious. But do you think it could be true? Could I be you?”
Elrohir gave the question the careful consideration of the very slightly inebriated. “No. I think I am. I have been Elrohir for over two thousand years. I like being Elrohir. One day as Elladan is not going to change all that. What do you think?”
“I think we should talk to mother or father,” Elladan said firmly. “I think we should find out exactly what Firienë was talking about.”
Together, they wove their way across the hall of fire and out into the corridor that led to Elrond’s study. It was time for some answers.Stories > First > Previous > Next