With Friends Like These

Chapter Fourteen: Homeward Bound

by Jay of Lasgalen

Stories > First > Previous > Next

After supper, Elrohir left Legolas, and went to find Elladan.  He found his brother talking to Tirnan and sat down with them, feeling rather dejected.

Elladan noticed his sombre mood, and broke off the conversation.  “What’s wrong with you?”  he asked in surprise.

“Nothing,” Elrohir replied morosely.

Elladan looked at him more closely.  “What is it?” he asked quietly.

“Nothing, really.  I just ...”  he stopped.  Elladan and Tirnan both waited expectantly, but Elrohir said nothing more.

Elladan sighed, then got to his feet.  “Excuse us,” he said briefly to Tirnan.  “Come on, El.”  He pulled Elrohir up, then turned and led the way out of the hall, and through the main doors.  He did not cross the bridge, but instead turned to the left. Between the palace and the forest stream that formed a moat around Lasgalen, was a narrow strip of land, only a few feet wide.  After a few hundred yards the track curved around the hill and petered out.  The banks of the stream met the hill here, and they could go no further.  The path had widened slightly, and formed a secluded, grassed area, partly screened by bushes.  It was a place that  Legolas had told them he used when he wanted to be alone, but had to stay close to Lasgalen, as it was out of sight, but within earshot of the doors.  Elladan hoped Legolas would not mind them using his secret place.

“Sit down,” Elladan ordered.  “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong, or do I have to get Father?  You know you promised to tell him if there was anything the matter.”

Elrohir sighed.  He knew better than try to avoid what was worrying him when Elladan was like this.  “Oh, El.  It’s just ... I thought I was getting better.  I thought I’d remembered most of what happened this week,” he explained slowly.

“You have.  I know you still don’t want me to tell you about the parts you’ve forgotten, but you have remembered most things.  So what’s the problem?”  Elladan sounded rather puzzled.

Elrohir hesitated for a long moment.  “I was talking to Legolas tonight.  He wanted to know what else I’ve remembered.  So we were talking about the food we took from the kitchens and shared, and that tapestry of Glorfindel and the Balrog - I’ve asked Legolas to come to Imladris one day, he wants to see Glorfindel - and when you and I went along the Spider Path.”

“Legolas wasn’t supposed to know about that,”  Elladan interrupted.  “We didn’t tell him we went.”

“Oh.  I thought he seemed surprised.  You see, that’s another thing I’ve forgotten!  I remembered that we went, but not that he didn’t know!”  Elrohir was frustrated at this reminder of yet memory he had lost.

Elladan waited for his brother to continue, then prompted, “Another thing?  What else was there?”

“It was something we did, one afternoon.  I don’t remember any of it, El!  Not even little bits.  I know there are things I’ve forgotten, there are still some gaps, but I’m getting used to that, and mostly I know the gaps are there.  This time, I didn’t even realise that there was anything missing.  It’s a whole afternoon, El, and I can’t remember anything about it!  How much more is there I just don’t know about?”  Elrohir paused for breath, then looked at Elladan quizzically.  “Does any of this make any sense to you?”

Elladan nodded slowly.  “Yes.  Yes, it does make sense.  I think I know what you mean.  But what was it you can’t remember?  You have remembered most things.”

“Legolas told me about when we went to the pool, and going swimming, and Brethil falling in.  I - I don’t remember it at all, not anything.”  Elrohir sighed again, finally voicing his deepest fear.  “El, I sometimes wonder if my memory’s ever going to come back properly.  It - it scares me.”  He glanced at his twin, somehow relieved by the confession.  He was surprised to see a growing anger and indignation in Elladan’s expression.

 “Legolas told you that?  That we went swimming?  El, there’s a very good reason why you don’t know about that afternoon.  It never happened!  He’s trying to make you think it’s something you’ve forgotten!  How could he do that?  It’s not fair!”

Elrohir gazed at his brother, astounded.  “It never happened?  That’s why I don’t remember?  It’s not because of what happened at the river?”  Immense relief swept through him.  His apparent relapse had worried him even more than he had let on to Elladan.

“No, it never happened,”  Elladan repeated grimly.  He was furious on his brother’s behalf, indignant at the trick that had been played on him.  Didn’t Legolas realise the effect it had had on him?  But then, to his amazement, Elrohir began to laugh.

“He made it up?  All of it?  I wondered when he’d get revenge for me pretending I didn’t know who he was!  Oh, El, admit it, it’s even better than one of our jokes!”  The relief had made him light-hearted.

“A joke?  Is that what it was?”

“Well, you must admit, it fooled me.  It fooled me completely.  And let’s face it, El, it really wasn’t fair to make Legolas think I’d forgotten who he was. You saw how worried he was, when he went to find Calmacil.  I think this makes us even!”

Elladan was still not satisfied. “Well, I don’t think it was fair of Calmacil, either, scaring you like that.  He’s a healer!  I don’t think Father would do such a thing.”

Elrohir tried to imagine their father leading a patient to jump to conclusions as Calmacil had done, but failed utterly.  “No, maybe not,” he admitted.  “But El, I don’t want you to say anything to Legolas.  He was only getting back at me for what we did.  I think we deserve it, don’t you?”

He did not wait for Elladan to answer, but let the way back along the path to the doors of Lasgalen.   “Come on.  I want to see if Taniquel’s back yet.”  Elrohir had not yet had the opportunity to thank Taniquel for himself.  She had left the previous morning on an overnight patrol, and was not due back until evening.  He had thought very carefully about what he was going to say, though it was difficult to find the right words.  But it was still not going to be easy.  And there was an initial hurdle before he even started, one that he needed Elladan’s help with.

He stopped as they entered the great hall, catching Elladan’s arm.  “El?  Can you tell me if she’s here?  I - I don’t think I’ll be able to recognise her,”  Elrohir admitted, cursing his unreliable memory.

Elladan briefly considered pointing out someone else instead, but decided it would be too cruel, especially as he had just criticised Legolas for playing tricks with Elrohir’s mind.  In any case, he did not think their father would see the funny side of it.  He scanned the hall and spotted Taniquel with a group of novices who had just come in.

“Yes, over there.  Come on.”  Elladan led the way across the hall. 

As they approached the group, Elrohir stopped his brother again.  “It is Taniquel, isn’t it?  Not one of her friends? You’re not playing games?”

“Of course it’s her!  Would I try to trick you, El?”  Elladan demanded indignantly.


“Well, I did think about it,”  Elladan admitted with a grin.  “But you’re safe, it is Taniquel, I promise.”

When they reached the small group of novices, Elrohir spoke hesitantly.  “Taniquel?”

She turned and gave him a wide smile.  “Elrohir!  It’s good to see you.  You look a little better than you did the other day!”

Elrohir shuffled his feet, feeling awkward again.  He felt uncharacteristically hesitant and tongue-tied.  Stumbling a little, he began his speech.  “Yes.  Thank you.  My father told me what happened at the river.  He told me what you did.  He told me that - that you saved my life.  I just wanted to say thank you.”

“Your father already has.  And your brother. And like I told them, there’s no need.  I’m just glad I could help.”  Taniquel seemed self-conscious at the looks she was getting from her companions.

“Well, thank you anyway,” Elrohir repeated.  “I won’t forget it.”

“You already have,” Elladan pointed out helpfully.

“Shut up, El!  You know what I mean!” 

Elrohir felt in his pocket, and found a small carving he had made.  He had been working on it for some days, planning to take it home for Arwen. He would have to find something else for his sister now, but had decided Taniquel was a more deserving recipient.  During the course of the day he had finished it, finally staining the wood with a dark dye. 

It was a squirrel, black like the creatures native to the Greenwood.  It sat on its haunches, nibbling a nut held between its forepaws, bushy tail erect, and pricked ears slightly tufted.

He held it out to Taniquel now, the little creature sitting on the palm of his hand.  “I made this for you.”

She took it and looked at it carefully, at the nut it held, at the details Elrohir had carefully carved, then looked up with a smile.  “Elrohir, thank you!  It’s lovely!”

To his embarrassment and pleasure, she lent forward, and gave him a swift kiss.  Elladan looked on, staring at his brother in amazement.  How did he do it?  First Athela, now Taniquel.  How many others were there?

Taniquel moved up slightly on the bench.  “Sit down and join us.  Tell me about Imladris.  I’ve never been there.  What’s it like?”

Elrohir began to describe their home, the valley, the Bruinen, the waterfalls along its length, the ford.  “On the far side of the ford there’s a wood, the Trollshaws.  But my father says it’s dangerous, so we’re not allowed to go there. Elladan keeps trying to talk him round, though!”

“Why is it dangerous?”

“There are trolls there!”  they chorused.  Taniquel suppressed a smile at this latest example of ‘twinspeak’, an expression she had heard Elrond use. He swore they did it on purpose.

Elrohir flushed slightly.  It was rather embarrassing that they still did this.  It was a different matter when it was deliberate, usually done to annoy someone like Glorfindel or Erestor.  But all too often, it was unintentional.  They would finish each other’s sentences, or say the same thing at the same time.  Or worse.  On far too many mornings, he had dressed hurriedly, selecting clothes at random, only to arrive for breakfast - late - to find Elladan dressed identically.  He often wondered if they would ever grow out of it.

Sometimes, just sometimes, he wished he could be just ‘Elrohir’, not ‘Elladan and Elrohir’ or ‘one of the twins’.  But he could never say that to Elladan, it would hurt him too much.  He felt guilty acknowledging it, even to himself.  And equally, he could not imagine life without his brother.

“Do you do that a lot?”  Taniquel was asking.

“Do what?”  Elladan sounded puzzled.

“Talk at the same time.  Say the same things.”

Elladan sighed.  “We try not to.  Sometimes it just - happens.”

“Really?  I was there when you first arrived here.  Did that ‘just happen’ ?”

“Oh.  That.”  Elladan recalled how they had deliberately dressed alike, down to identical hairstyles, for the benefit of Thranduil and Legolas.

“And that evening?  When Legolas couldn’t work out who was who?”

“That was deliberate,”  Elrohir admitted.  “It didn’t fool him for long, though.  I still don’t know how he worked it out!”

Taniquel shook her head.  “I pity your parents,” she commented.  “In fact, I feel sorry for everyone in Imladris.  I thought Legolas was bad enough, but at least there’s only one of him!  He’ll miss you when you go back home.  I  think we all will.”

“You’re not going home already, are you?”  Legolas had approached, unseen.  He looked dismayed, but had other things on his mind.  “Elrohir, you know what we were talking about earlier?”

“What about it?”  Elladan answered, sounding suspicious and protective.

Legolas continued to address himself to Elrohir.  “Well ... I told you we went swimming.  We didn’t.  I’m sorry, it wasn’t fair to make you think it was something you couldn’t remember.  I realised that I shouldn’t have done it.  I’m sorry.”  He looked rather shame-faced.

Elrohir grinned.  “That’s all right.  It doesn’t matter.  But yes, we’re going home soon.”

“But don’t worry, you can come to see us at Imladris.”

“Yes, I want to see Glorfindel, and your mother, and Arwen!”

“And we’re going to come back here, one day.”

“Maybe we can go and look for some spiders!”

“So you won’t miss us too much.” 

Now all three were talking simultaneously.  It was clearly infectious.  Taniquel sighed.  Lasgalen would definitely be far quieter when the twins had departed.

Stories > First > Previous > Next