As soon as he could, Elladan made his excuses and left. Neither his father nor Thranduil seemed to notice, both preoccupied over Elrohir and Legolas. Elladan could understand that. He could not ignore a vague, nagging unease that had haunted him all night. With the dawn, he had hoped that Elrohir and Legolas would return, safe and sound, full of tales of their adventures.
His father’s words, clearly intended to reassure him, had done anything but. ‘Nothing can get into the valley’. ‘Something tried to enter the river … it will have stood no chance against the flood.’ The reassurances made him feel sick. Elrohir had tried to get into the valley – and now, he had either been swept away on the flood waters, or at best was stranded on the far side of the river, in the Trollshaws, at the mercy of whatever dangers lurked there.
He had tried to slip out of the house earlier, but had been caught. Now he hurried down to the river, desperate to find some trace of what may have happened to Elrohir. He knew where his twin would have tried to cross the river, so headed away from the ford, north, to the steep path they had discovered some years before. As he went he tried again to feel for his brother. It was a sense he still did not understand, but was beginning to accept existed. Then he smiled. Elrohir was safe. He was worried and preoccupied – probably realising they were all in a lot of trouble – but he was safe. And as he was merely worried, not frantic with fear, Legolas was obviously safe too.
Elladan sighed with relief, and hurried on his way. Suddenly, without warning, a guard emerged from the trees in front of him. “Lord …Elladan? Your father has instructed us to watch the valley. Would you return to the house, please?”
Elladan was about to respond furiously that no one had the right to restrict his movements in his own home when he bit his tongue. He simply nodded, turning and retracing his steps, and as soon as he was out of sight of the guard veered off into the trees, on a route that passed close to the stables. Ahead, he heard voices. Other guards appeared – they seemed to be everywhere today, like vermin! “So there you are, younglings!” he heard. “The night patrols have been asked to look out for you – I believe your lord fathers would like a word with you both.”
He stayed out of sight, waited, and watched. Elrohir replied to the guard. “Thank you, Ilmarin,” he said coolly. “My father is in the library? We will go there now. Carry on with your patrol.” Elladan suppressed a grin. Elrohir very rarely played on his position of Elrond’s son – neither of them did – but when he did, he did it well.
The guard straightened and saluted. “Yes, Lord Elrohir,” he responded, in a very different tone to the one he had used before. Elladan waited until the two guards had continued on their patrol, then stepped from concealment just as Elrohir turned towards him.
“I knew you were there, El. Did you come to look for us?”
Elladan nodded, hesitated for a second then gave his twin a brief hug. “Yes. I was worried about you.” All the tension and worry of the night caught up with him, and he hugged Elrohir more tightly. “I’m sorry about what I said. I didn’t mean to drive you into doing something so dangerous. I know something happened; I could feel how scared you were earlier. And then father said that he had commanded the river, and that it had flooded. I was so afraid that you would be trapped, El!” He felt overwhelming relief to see his brother and Legolas safe and sound at last. The problem they all faced with their parents could be dealt with later.
Elrohir returned the embrace, then they began to walk towards the house. “I’m sorry too, El. It was a stupid argument. No-one cares what Finglor thinks – I don’t know why I let him annoy me.” He looked a little sheepish. “And although I said I wanted to go without you, all the time we were over there I kept wishing you were as well. It seemed so – strange.”
Legolas watched them both with a grin. “Well, I’m glad you’ve made friends again at last! And I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be back here. Elladan, so much has happened – we’ve got so much to tell you!” His face fell, and he sighed. “But my father’s going to kill me now. I think we were better off with that troll!”
Elladan stopped dead, staring at them both. “Troll?” he repeated. “You mean there really was a troll? You saw one?”
His brother ginned. “No. We saw two. El, it was amazing! It was as tall as – as that tree there, and as close to me as you are. It was looking at me! It was curious – it had never seen anything like us before, I think.”
“When was that? Around ?” Elladan asked. He recalled the sudden jolt of fear he had felt from Elrohir. “I know there was something that scared you badly.” Legolas looked at him in surprise, but then he shrugged, evidently accepting it as one of the twins’ oddities.
Elrohir nodded. “Yes. I was moving, to get away from it, when it put its foot down behind me, between me and Legolas. I thought it was going to step on us! You’re right, I was scared. And then it put its hand around Legolas – I don’t know what it was going to do to him, but it could have killed him. So I shot it in the hand, and it let him go.”
Elladan listened to his brother’s incredible adventures in disbelief. “What did you do then?”
“We ran,” Legolas told him. “As fast as we could. It was angry – it didn’t like being shot in the hand! But when we looked back, we realised that it was only a little troll, a sort of toddler. It was with its Nana!”
“But – trolls don’t have babies! Do they?” Elladan’s firm denial changed to an awed question.
Elrohir stopped as they came to the steps that led into the house. “This one did.” He looked towards the library windows. “Adar is going to kill me,” he sighed. “He’ll tell me it was stupid, and reckless; that I should have known better. And he’s right. Come on.” Dejectedly, he led the way into the house.
Tentatively, Elrohir knock at the door to the library and opened it. His father stood there, and Thranduil. Both looked extremely grim. Elrohir glanced over his shoulder at Elladan and Legolas, swallowed, then went in first. This whole idea – somehow – had been his, and it was his responsibility to face his father’s wrath.
Elrond said nothing initially, merely regarding him coldly. Elrohir’s heart sank, and his gaze dropped to the floor. The silence extended, and the only sound Elrohir could hear was his own heartbeat. At last, his father spoke. “Well, what do you have to say for yourself? What did you think you were doing? An expedition like this was totally irresponsible, Elrohir! You told no-one where you were going, what you were doing, that you would be out all night. Your behaviour was foolish and reckless, and I expected more of you.”
Elrohir said nothing and continued to stare at the floor. There was nothing he could say in his defence – every word his father spoke was true. “You are intelligent, Elrohir. You can understand the consequences of your actions. Did you stop to think about what could happen, tonight of all nights? Did you not think of the dangers? To risk yourself was bad enough, but to take Legolas with you on this ill-advised excursion was utter folly!” Elrond paused, just for a moment, then concluded, “I am most disappointed in you.”
Elrohir swallowed hard at the final words. He could weather his father’s anger, although he hated it, but his disappointment was almost impossible to bear. “Forgive me,” he said, very quietly. “I – I do not really know why I did it now.” He looked up at last, meeting Elrond’s eyes for the first time. “I’m sorry, father. It was foolish.” Then he looked at Thranduil. “Forgive me, your majesty. I was wrong to let Legolas come with me.”
Elrond regarded him for a moment longer, but Elrohir was surprised to see something that looked like sympathy in his expression. “I imagine it is somehow connected to your argument with Elladan. I will talk to you both about that later. Thranduil?” Elrohir realised he was dismissed for the moment, but he felt no sense of relief.
Thranduil regarded him silently for a moment, then turned his attention to his own son. Legolas stepped forward, and before Thranduil could say anything, he burst out, “Please Father – Lord Elrond – it’s not Elrohir’s fault. He didn’t ‘let’ me come, or take me with him. I went – it was my own idea.”
“Elrohir’s culpability or lack of it is not what concerns me. Your disobedience is. However, I have little to say that has not already been said. This was foolish, and dangerous, and you have let me down.” Thranduil’s expression was very stern, and Elrohir felt sorry for Legolas, who looked stricken. Then, in a gesture that surprised him, Thranduil stroked Legolas’s head softly. “It would grieve me if anything happened to you,” he said gently.
Legolas nodded. “I’m sorry, Ada – we both are,” he added with a glance at Elrohir, and hugged his father tightly. Before he realised it, Elrohir too was hugging his father, feeling the balm of his love despite his displeasure.
“Go, all of you,” Elrond commanded. “I will consider a suitable punishment. Rest assured, there will be one.”
With a nod, Elrohir followed Elladan and Legolas outside again. All three were rather subdued. Then Elladan looked at his brother. “Nothing was said about the Trollshaws,” he pointed out. “Do you think no-one realises you went there? Adar must still think you were in the valley the whole time!”
“Mmm.” Elrohir found he did not really care anymore. He was just glad that they had got back in one piece.
Elrond watched the three depart, their high spirits very much quenched for the moment. He turned to Thranduil. “What do we do with them?” he enquired. “They have been irresponsible, but have not exactly broken any rules. I usually favour imposing some dirty, unpleasant task.”
Thranduil considered. “Cleaning out the stables?” he suggested. “It is an occupation Legolas hates with a passion – he is rather fastidious.”
Elrond shook his head. “It would be no punishment at all for Elrohir – he delights in spending time with the horses. He spends much of his free time helping the grooms. Translating manuscripts in the library would also not work – he enjoys the work too much.” He considered. “I have it! Scullery duty. They can prepare the vegetables for the feast tonight.”
Thranduil nodded. “An excellent idea. And perhaps scouring the pots and pans as well? It would be a great shame if they were to miss the feast as a result of their labours, would it not?”
“A great shame. Elladan can join them, I think. He is guilty by omission – he clearly knew what they were up to, but chose not to speak. Yes, he can miss the feast as well.” Elrond considered his sons’ reaction to the news. They would be bitterly disappointed to miss the farewell feast before Thranduil left, but would make not one word of protest. “I have been to war,” he mused. “I have raised twins. If I had a choice, I would rather go to war again,” he concluded.Stories > First > Previous > Next