With Friends Like These

Chapter Twelve: The Sweet Forgetfulness of Sleep

by Jay of Lasgalen

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Elrond was wakeful all that night, watching over his son as he slept.  There was a slight possibility that Elrohir had inhaled some of the river water.  It seemed unlikely, but if he had, it could still cause serious complications.

The night passed uneventfully, but Elrond was alert to every slight sound that Elrohir made, every small movement, every tiny irregularity in his breathing.  By the time dawn finally came he was tense as well as tired, and was grateful to see Calmacil enter.

“How is he?”  the healer enquired.

“Sleeping peacefully.  Which is more that I have been able to do,”  admitted Elrond.

Calmacil checked Elrohir for himself, gauging his level of consciousness.  “I think he should awaken in a few hours.  Remember, he will have some loss of his short-term memory, but you must not be alarmed.   Neither should he.  Most of it will return over the next few days.  But you should be aware that there is the possibility that some memories, particularly of yesterday itself, will never return.”

Never?”  Elrond looked down at his son.  Would Elrohir suffer from a permanent memory loss?

“The hours immediately before falling into the river tend to be lost for ever.  But it varies so much.  It can be a whole day, or just a few minutes.  Sometimes there is no permanent loss at all.”

“What else can you tell me of the memory loss?”  Elrond felt he needed to know as much as possible if he was to help Elrohir through this.

Calmacil frowned. “It tends to be - erratic.  Elrohir may remember nothing of the journey here, but will recall events that happened after you arrived.  There may even be some patchy memory loss of things that took place in Imladris, although that is unlikely.  Most of those memories will return, in full.  You must reassure him.   It can be very - distressing - at first to realise that so much has been lost.”

Elrond was now looking even more alarmed than ever.  Calmacil hastened to reassure him.  “There are no serious, long term effects!  There are many here who have fallen in, with no permanent consequences.”  Calmacil decided it was time to change the subject a little, and lightened the tone of the conversation.  Elrond had been looking far too drawn and worried over the last few days. “How much will you tell him of what happened?”

“The truth.   All of it.  It would be better for him to hear it from me, rather than an exaggerated, garbled version from anyone else.  He will not be the first or the last foolish elfling to fall in!”

“Yes.  I think you are right.  You should not try to hide it.  And  ...  no, perhaps I should not tell you this.”

Elrond was curious now. “Tell me what?” 

“Well ... it is not always just elflings who fall in.  Others have, as well.”  Calmacil smiled, as if at an old memory.

“Like who?”

Calmacil had a definite glint in his eyes.  “You must promise never to say where you heard this.”

“You have my word.  Who was it?”  Elrond sounded intrigued.


Thranduil fell in?”  exclaimed Elrond in amazement.

“It was a few months after he was crowned.  He and the Queen went to the river to see if the enchantment could be lifted.  Whether he thought he had been successful, whether he fell, or there was some other cause, we never knew.”

“Why not?”

“He was never able to remember!” said Calmacil with a chuckle.

Elrond gave a shout of laughter, which he hastily stifled, with a guilty look at his sons.  He did not wish to disturb them.  And it was not really funny ...

“There were some who claimed that Telparian had pushed him in,” added Calmacil.

“And did she?”

“We never found out.  She never said, and he could not remember!  Or at least, he claimed he did not remember.”

Elrond laughed again.  He wondered if Legolas knew the story.  He would have to remember to tell Elladan and Elrohir - though it might be best to wait until they had left Lasgalen.

Calmacil left then, leaving Elrond to his lonely vigil - but his heart was much lightened by Calmacil’s reassurances, and by his story. 

Elrohir finally  began to stir at about mid-morning.  He stretched and yawned, blinking sleepily - exactly as he had done when very young, awakening from an afternoon nap.  Elrond watched him anxiously.  At last Elrohir opened his eyes, an expression of surprise crossing his face as he saw Elrond peering at him.  “Father?  What is it? Is something wrong?”  His gaze went past Elrond to the window.  The sun was high, he could tell.  “What time is it?  It seems late.”

“About four hours after dawn.  Elrohir, how do you feel?  Do you know where we are?”

Elrohir have his father a strange look.  What odd questions he was asking.  “Where are we?  In Lasgalen, of course!  We arrived here the day before yesterday.  And I feel fine.”

“The day before yesterday.  I see.  And can you remember what you did yesterday?”

Elrohir glanced at Elladan, hoping for support from him, but he was asleep in a chair, covered with a light blanket, which was strange as well. There was no help there. Deciding it would be best to humour his father, Elrohir explained what had happened patiently.  “We rode through Lasgalen with Thranduil and Legolas.  Then we played with - with some wolf cubs, and explored a small ravine.  We found a cave there.”

Elrond had not missed the slight hesitation on ‘wolf cubs’, but it seemed as if Elrohir was hiding something, rather than not remembering.  “I see.  What about the next day?”

“Father, this is the next day!”  Elrohir looked at Elladan again, wondering what was wrong with him -  and with their father.  At the sound of their voices, Elladan awoke, shifting slightly. 

As Elladan turned his head, Elrohir noticed that his brother’s face was bruised, and his arm was in a sling.  “El!  What’s wrong?  What happened to you?”

“Don’t you remember, little brother?  You pushed me out of a tree!”  Elladan declared with a wicked grin.

Elrohir gaped at him, but before he could say anything, Elrond interrupted.  “Elladan, would you please go down to the kitchens and ask for some food to be sent up?  Now?”

Elladan, with a glance at his father, stood, and departed hurriedly.  Elrohir watched him go with a bemused expression.  He was beginning to feel confused.  “Father? What is it?  What’s been going on?”

Elrond hesitated, wondering where to start.  Elrohir had lost nearly a week of his time in Lasgalen.  “Elrohir, yesterday there was - an accident.  Do you remember me telling you about the enchanted river?”

Elrohir nodded.  “Yes, of course.”

“A group went there yesterday, and one of them - fell in.”

“Fell in?  That could be serious.  If they were unconscious, they could drown!  Who was it?  I bet it was Brethil!  It sounds just like him!  Is he all right?”  Elrohir was concerned, and also a little puzzled.  What had this to do with anything?

“El, it was you!  It was awful, I thought you were dead!”  Elladan had reappeared, still hovering in the doorway.

“Me?”  Elrohir echoed in disbelief.  “El, what are you talking about?  We never went near that river yesterday!  You know that.  We were with Thranduil, then just Legolas.”

“Elladan, I thought you were going down to the kitchens?” Elrond asked pointedly.

When Elladan had finally gone, Elrond turned back to his younger son.  Elrohir was thoroughly confused, and a little worried.  He had the uneasy feeling that something was wrong, but he could not say what.  The ride with Thranduil and Legolas somehow seemed much longer ago than yesterday.  And what on earth had Elladan been talking about?  Both his father and brother were acting very strangely.

Elrond sat on the edge of the bed again, and took Elrohir’s hand between his.  He wanted to keep this short and simple.  Elrohir had to know, but he did not want to terrify him.  He recited the stark facts as dispassionately as he could.  Elrohir listened to his father in disbelief, silent for once, his eyes wide.

“But - you mean - I -” he said at last.  He stopped, shaking his head in frustration.  “I can’t remember!  I don’t remember anything about it!  The last thing I can remember is the day El, Legolas and I went out with Thranduil. Then we split up.  Legolas showed us some ... wolf cubs, and we found a cave in a tiny valley.”  His voice fell, and he added quietly, “I thought it was yesterday.  You said it was a week ago?”

There was that odd hesitation on ‘wolf cubs’ again.  Elrond wondered what had happened. “Yes.  It was a very - eventful - week.  Calmacil said your memory will return, some time over the next few days.  It will not be permanent.  Do you want to talk to him?  He knows far more about the effects than I do.”

Elrohir considered this.  “No.  Not yet.  Maybe later.  And I don’t want you to tell me what happened since we came here, either.  I want to see what I can remember on my own.”

Elrond wondered at times who Elrohir had inherited his iron will from.  His stubbornness certainly did not come from either his father or mother, who were both far more amenable to suggestions.  It was, however, a trait shared by Oropher and all his descendants.  If he had not known better, he would have looked hard in Thranduil’s direction for parentage of the twins, or Elrohir at least .

“Very well,” Elrond agreed.  “I shall tell Elladan, too.  But you must promise to tell me when you remember something, or if you are worried.  Promise me?”

Elrohir nodded.  “Yes, father.”  He sounded rather subdued.

The door, which Elrond had closed after Elladan’s departure, began to open slowly.  Elladan came in, precariously balancing a laden tray while he manipulated the door handle - entirely one handed.  He deposited the tray on a table, and straightened triumphantly.  “I knew I could do it!  I told that old fool I could!”  His voice took on a portentous tone: “ ‘But master Elladan, you cannot possibly do it like that!  You will drop everything!  Think of the mess!  You will not be able to manage!’  Ha!  I knew I could carry it without dropping everything!”

Elrond managed to look stern.  “Elladan, you should not be so disrespectful of the servants here.  You should apologise.”  However, he was unable to suppress a grin at Elladan’s wickedly accurate imitation of Lanatus.  It could be no one else.  Elrohir, though, was looking rather puzzled. 

“Who are you talking about?”  he asked blankly.  “And El, I still don’t know what happened to you!  Don’t tell me that I pushed you out of a tree, I know I didn’t!  I told Thranduil that.”  Elrohir stopped, as surprised by his words as the others were.  There had been a swift flash of memory, as brief, fleeting and illuminating  as lightning at .  It was gone again just as quickly.

“You told Thranduil?”  asked Elrond carefully.

Elrohir nodded, startled.  “Yes.”  He could recall himself kneeling next to Thranduil, the king’s hand on his shoulder, seeing his father bent over Elladan, who lay motionless on the ground.  He could hear himself, protesting indignantly: “I didn’t push him!  I didn’t!”  There was nothing else.  The brief memory both startled and alarmed him; and oddly, reassured him.  It alarmed him because it confirmed that he had indeed lost so much.  It reassured him because the memories were still there, and would presumably return in full.

He shook his head, then grimaced as an unpleasant smell came to him.  He seized a lock of his hair and sniffed. It was lank, limp, and smelled foul.  “I need a bath,” he muttered.

Elladan was trying, not very hard, not to laugh.  “You fell in the river, little brother,” he said in explanation.

Elrohir slid out of bed, and headed for the bathing room.  To be honest, he needed the time alone to think about what his father had said.  It was difficult to know which was most unsettling; the fact that he had clearly nearly died, or the fact that he could not remember.

Equally uncomfortable was the thought that Taniquel - whoever she was; a novice warrior - had saved his life.  He would have to thank her - somehow.  What, in the name of Elbereth, did one say in such circumstances?  ‘Thank you’ hardly seemed enough.

After a hot, leisurely bath, Elrohir felt a little more relaxed.  He came back into the main room, and eyed the tray Elladan had brought in hungrily.  It was piled with fresh bread, fruit, butter, cheese, honey and a pitcher of creamy milk.

“El, how did you manage to get so much?” he asked at last.  There was a vague memory of illicit visits to the kitchens, taking a single loaf, or wedge of cheese.

“I remembered what Legolas told me,” Elladan explained.  “I asked Mireth if you could have some breakfast.   She wanted to know if it was enough!”

Both Elrohir and Elladan ate hungrily, and Elrond joined them.  He had been too anxious to eat anything the evening before, and welcomed the meal.  As they were finishing, there was a knock on the door, and Legolas entered. He looked delighted to see Elrohir awake and alert.

“I came to see if you were feeling better,” he explained.  “We were all worried.”

Elrohir glanced first at his father, then at his brother, with a puzzled expression.  Then he looked up at Legolas blankly. “Who are you?” he asked.

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