1. Allergic Reaction
Disclaimer: I don’t own Tolkien’s work.
Elrohir smiled as he watched Elladan chase five-year-old Estel. His brothers were quite energetic that day. Laughing cheerfully, Estel sprinted away from Elladan. Elladan was not running as quickly as he could, but he was fast enough to leave his foster brother breathless.
Catching up with Estel, Elladan playfully but carefully tackled the young boy. Elrohir over to warn his brothers, but it was too late. Estel and Elladan had rolled right into a patch of poison ivy.
“Men are allergic to that plant,” He yelled, “We had better ask Ada what to do. For that reason, the three elves walked back inside and proceeded to find Elrond.
On the way, Elladan and Estel earned many stares. They were much dirtier than their brother. Elrohir had politely declined their invitation to slide in the mud with them earlier. He devised ways to tease the others later.
Adults wondered why Elrond did not make his sons take baths. It certainly did not seem proper for the sons of the Lord of Rivendell to be covered with mud and grass. Elladan just grinned and brushed a few twigs out of Estel's hair.
Youth wanted to finish their tasks so they could go play and get dirty. They rushed through chores, angering the older servants more than Elrond and his sons themselves when they accidentally broke a few glasses and such things.
One woman was particularly astonished by the boys’ messiness. She would never allow her children to roam Imladris in such a dirty state. Her reasoning was questionable, however, because her children where calm, complaisant little girls
Elrond smiled at the approach of his three sons. They had been energetically playing outside all that morning. He paid no heed to shocked guests who thought that Elrond’s sons should be studying, or at least practicing some worthwhile skill.
“Is that a white tunic, Elladan?” He teased. The shirt certainly did not have much white on it. Its color bore a remarkable resemblance to the clay that could be found in certain outdoor places.
“It used to be,” Elrohir answered for his brother. “The servants will be annoyed when they wash our clothing.”
“Go bathe and change clothes, all of you. We can talk later.” The three obeyed the command. They knew their father well enough to know that he was not exasperated at their lack of cleanliness. His orders were perfectly understandable, however, as at that moment none of the boys possessed the neat, clean look that one would expect of two elves and one boy who was being raised among elves.
After dinner that evening, Elladan Elrohir, and Estel talked to Elrond about their most recent mistake. Elrond was sympathetic for his son, but he knew that encountering poison ivy was practically a rite of passage for the children of Men.
“Poison ivy is not hazardous at all for you, Elladan. It will not endanger you either, Estel, except to cause some discomfort. Do not scratch. It will spread the problem.”
Sections of Estel’s skin turned red and itchy. He stayed in his room so that others would not see him like that, and so no one would see him scratching.
“Ada has never felt like this. Surely he’d let me scratch if he knew what it felt like. I can’t keep from scratching. That would be torture. He told me not to scratch so it won’t get worse, but I can’t stand not scratching and I’m the one who’s itchy. It’s fine for me to scratch.” Estel convinced himself that it was all right for him to scratch, and so he did so.
Elrond came in to check on Estel and noticed his scratching. Why did he never follow advice? Elrond rebuked the child. He then put some cold cream onto the red spots.
Elladan and Elrohir rushed in to see how their little brother was doing. Elrond asked them to keep Estel from scratching and left the room.
This arrangement annoyed Estel. His brothers would never let him have any comfort. Why would his Ada do this to him? It wasn’t his fault that he wasn’t and elf. Why did elves get all the luck, anyway?
Elrohir had to literally tie Estel’s hands down to keep him from scratching. Fortunately for Estel, it was a soft but durable elven rope, which functioned properly without being uncomfortable. (It is told among hobbits that many years later Samwise Gamgee learned how to make them after his adventures with Frodo Baggins, but no one else born a mortal has ever achieved such a skill.)
“I don’t care if it makes it worse. At least it helps! How can you side with Ada at a time like this, after all the trouble we have gotten into together? You are traitors! Stop trying to mother me!”
“It could be worse. Our mother deserted us for the undying lands west of the sea! We just had Ada to take care of us. You have Ada, Gilraen, and us to look after you.” countered Elladan.
Despite his intensity in debate, Elladan was remorseful. Not only had he lost his own mother because of orcs, but also Estel’s father had been killed by orcs right in front of Elladan. Now he was being called a traitor not totally inaccurately (in his mind), though Estel said that for the wrong reason.
Estel tried to free his ands, but the secure knot made his efforts futile. He wished his brothers would just leave him alone. It was no wonder elves thought men were weak if they watched allergic reactions and tied up their patients.
“Please help,” he begged, “I’m going to laugh when you are injured and Ada tortures you. It’s just a little poison ivy. Ada said it’s normal for my people to get it.”
“Estel, we’re doing this in your own best interest.” argued Elrohir.
“I don’t want you to so you shouldn’t. I’ll be careful when I scratch. I know what I’m doing.”
You’re not supposed to scratch at all. That’s what Ada said,” said Elrohir.
Elrond and his sons were not mistaken. The problem began to spread over every part of the body that Estel touched because of his scratching.
Soon Elrond returned. He took Estel away from his brothers and put him in an oatmeal bath. He was not pleased with the poison’s spread. The patches of poison ivy were all over Estel’s neck, chest, back, arms, and legs. It was not a pleasant thing to look at.
“I don’t have to eat all this, do I?” asked a shocked Estel who was looking at the bathtub filled with oatmeal.
“It is not for eating. It is to relieve your discomfort.” Elrond said with an amused smile.
Elladan showed Estel his reflection in a mirror, saying “You originally were just affected here, but when you scratched, your fingers spread it to there.”
“Why are you giving me a speech? You’re a trained healer, you should have known better than to play with me in there.”
This statement hurt Elladan, for he knew his little brother was right. Rather than dwelling on his guilt, though, he became defensive. “You’re a man, you should learn how to take care of yourself a little.”
“Then why are you ordering me around?” yelled Estel.
“In the hopes that you would accept what you are told and spare yourself the trouble of learning from experience.” replied Elrohir for his brother with an obnoxious calm voice.
Elrond marched in demanding to know the cause of the childish quarreling. After hearing the explanation, which involved more arguing and brothers interrupting each other, he unexpectedly smiled.
“That’s an excellent idea. Maybe your debates aren’t completely useless, though you proceed with them in an undesirable manner.”
The boys looked at each other in confusion. They had neither come to any conclusions nor planned any solutions.
“I shall teach you about plants poisonous to men. Then we can mark the dangerous areas of Imladris.”
Estel pouted. Elladan and Elrohir attempted to leave but were hindered by their father.
“If you are concerned enough to nag, you should be concerned enough to learn. Elrohir, fetch the book of common poisons”
Estel smirked, the twins sighed, and Elrond gave them each a stern look. They all reluctantly complied to avoid overstepping their Ada’s patience.
The next three hours were filled with monotonous lessons about common poisons and allergies and their treatments, followed by brief first aid instruction.
Elrond led his sons all around Imladris, marking dangerous areas with little red flags. Estel was just observing so that he would not fall into danger while trying to take precautions. Elladan and Elrohir were not enjoying the work, but realized its necessity. Glorfindel had come along to help, and Elrond watched to make sure that the others knew what they were doing.
"Look, Ada, I found athelas!" shouted Estel enthusiastically. "Now you can help people get better!"
Elrond acknowledged the youngest of the group with a smile and a nod. He cut the kingsfoil and let Estel carry it. He was proud of his son's remarkable progress in herb lore.
Not to be outdone by his foster brother, Elladan pointed out plants that all seemed to have three leaves. "These must be poison ivy. I didn't realize how much there is. Keep Estel back."
Elrohir looked where Elladan was pointing. "That's clover, you idiot," he laughed.
"Be nice, Elrohir. Elladan, that is clover. It will cause no harm to Estel. I'll go over the plants with you again tonight.
Elladan was thoroughly embarrassed. One would think that through the centuries of studying under his father, he would have learned these kinds of things.
That evening, Elladan went to Elrond's study to review common plants. Elrond did not humiliate his son, but gently instructed him and rebuilt his confidence.
As awkward as he felt, Elladan enjoyed spending time alone with his ada. He resolved to work harder and please his father.
Meanwhile, Elrohir read aloud to Estel. He read again the Lay of Luthien, which Estel never tired of hearing. Elrohir knew the child would be an excellent storyteller in the future. For the present, though, Estel was quite content to repeatedly ask why Elves got all the luck, why King Thingol was discriminatory, and whether or not Beren had ever had an allergic reaction.
Elladan found Estel asleep on Elrohir’s lap. Elrohir smiled contentedly at his brother. He suspected that someday they would have to help the young heir of Isildur with problems far worse than poison ivy. They would not waste any of the precious time they had to teach and nurture Estel.
Gilraen came in and put Estel to bed. She smiled at the sons of Elrond. Elrond had become like a father to her little boy. She, also, was apprehensive about the future, but she felt perfectly secure knowing that Estel had a double family, including double foster brothers. The young king in exile was protected by Men and Elves, and hidden from the Enemy. She did not hold it against the sons of Elrond if they got into occasional mischief.
As Elrond entered and surveyed the cozy scene, he contemplated that, despite Estel’s questions about the fairness of the races, he had family relationships rivaling that of any elf.
The mischief of boys would only develop character, and someday Estel himself would be a great healer himself and much better able to understand allergic reactions than any elf ever could
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.