1. Chapter One
“Why couldn’t they have named me ‘Jennifer’ or ‘Heather’?” she asked her cat, Gothmog, as she sat down on her bed. “When I turn eighteen, I’m changing my name to ‘Isabel’.” Gothmog looked at her unblinkingly for a long moment, then yawned and rolled onto his side.
Luthien spent the rest of the afternoon listening to Dar Williams while she worked on the rough draft of her research paper for English on Queen Elizabeth I. She’d thought when she chose to write on how Elizabeth had been influenced by her father she’d enjoy the research, but after one day source-gathering at the huge library downtown had disabused her of that idea. Most of the books and articles were boring and dry and she was looking forward to the day when she handed in her final draft and never had to write down another quote on another notecard ever again.
She was just about to save her work when the screen turned an ugly yellow and laughing jars of Smuckers jam began to dance across the screen, followed by ‘Greetings! You’ve just been jammed by Cap’n Lonestar’ in blood-red letters. Luthien stared at the screen in mute horror as the jars and message scrolled across her screen in an endless loop. No. Not again. Not now. Not when she’d all but finished her research paper. “ELLADAN! ELROHIR, YOU STUPID LITTLE-!”
“Cursing is futile,” a voice interrupted sardonically from her doorway. “Your files have been assimilated. We’ll give them back if you’re real nice to us.”
Luthien closed her eyes and counted to ten. “Why don’t you use your skills for good, like hacking the school and failing the jocks in gym?”
“Already did that,” Elladan said, sounding smug. “We want to wait a while before we do it again.”
Luthien’s eyes opened and she looked back at the older of her two brothers, slouched against the doorframe. “When?”
“Last June. The football coach was livid when his star quarterback couldn’t play. And how do you think I passed Art?”
“You could have changed my grades while you were in there,” she pouted.
Smug smirk. “We did. Why’d you think you passed Algebra?”
“Because I studied like crazy for the final and done well,” she admitted, cheeks warm. So much for studying paying off. “I need my research paper back. Now.”
Elrohir appeared next to Elladan. “If you’re nice to us, Lulu.”
“Please don’t call me that,” she said, her clipped words dripping with sweetness. As soon as she had her paper back, she was going to make them pay. “What do I have to do to get my paper back?”
Her brothers looked at each other, then at her. “Clean our rooms,” Elladan said.
She felt her stomach turn over. “Other than that.”
Elrohir shook his head. “That’s the deal. Clean our rooms and you get your files back.”
Luthien shoved back her desk chair and stalked over to her brothers. “No. Stinking. Way. Your rooms are total pits of despair. Give me back my school files before Mom gets home or I’m telling her you two hacked my computer to blackmail me into cleaning your rooms.”
“That’s not why I did it,” Elrohir said. “I hacked into your computer because I was bored. Elladan suggested borrowing your files so you’d do us a favor once I was in.”
“My mistake,” she said tightly. “I’ll tell Mom you hacked my computer and then decided to take my files to blackmail me into cleaning your rooms for you.” Her brothers blanched slightly, making Luthien smirk. They knew if their parents found out they’d hacked their sister, they’d be grounded from their computers (which they lived for) for a long, long time. “I want all my files back in five minutes, or I’ll also tell her that you hacked the school last summer and changed people’s grades.”
“Including yours,” Elladan said quickly. “If you rat us out on that, Ro will have to change your Algebra grade back.
Luthien narrowed her eyes. Rats. She’d been so close to total sibling domination. “I’m still telling her you hacked my computer and took my files and I lost a good chunk of my research paper because of that and you won’t give my files back unless I clean your rooms.”
“We saved everything,” Elrohir assured her emphatically. “And you’ll get it all back.”
“I was about to save when you stole my files and froze my computer, you little turd. You know what happened the last time you hacked me.” She suddenly had an idea. “Recover what I didn’t get a chance to save and put all the files back on my hard drive before Mom gets home, and she never hears about this from me.” She gave Elrohir the Evil Eye.
After a long moment, he looked away and muttered, “Fine. I’ll get your paper back for you.”
“And put my files back.”
“Yeah.” He slumped back down the hall, muttering under his breath.
Elladan, however, didn’t move. He stared after Elrohir, and when his younger brother’s door slammed, he looked at his sister and said proudly, “Taught him everything he knows.”
She regarded him with narrowed eyes. “Only you would take credit for turning him on to high-tech espionage.”
“The CIA pays well for someone with those skills.”
She rolled her eyes and shook he head slightly. “Or he’ll end up in prison, and you’ll be his cellmate.” She went over to her desk and opened the ‘Documents’ folder on her computer desktop and checked that her research paper was there in its entirety. “Excellent. Go tell Mini Me he’s safe from Mom going lawnmower on him.”
Later that night, Luthien was curled up in the ‘secret’ room behind her closet, reading. The farmhouse they lived in had been used on the Underground Railroad, so there were several of these spaces built into the walls around the house. By chance, she’d gotten the only bedroom with a hiding space, which made her brothers green with jealousy. More than once, they’d attacked it, necessitating that her father put a lock on the closet door. For extra security, she’d put one on the inside of the entrance to Mirkwood for when she was in there. She’d wanted to call the room Imladris, but you couldn’t very well call an enclosed space Imladris, now could you?
Something began pounding on the closet-side wall, startling Luthien. “Sweet Eru on a pogo stick!” she exclaimed, sitting up and hitting her head on the reading lamp. “Ow! Geez! WHAT?”
“Let me in!” Elrohir said in a low voice. “Elladan is going to pound me to a pulp if he finds me!”
“So says the boy who came into my room and closet without permission. If he doesn’t turn you into hamburger, I will, and I’ll feed your remains to Gothmog and Beruthiel when I’m done.”
“Tee, please.” He was using his old nickname for her, and that tone! He sounded so pathetic! “Please?”
“You owe me,” she grumbled as she unlocked the panel and pushed it open slightly. Elrohir grabbed it and jerked it up, sliding underneath quickly and letting it drop back into place. Luthien pulled her knees tightly under her chin so Elrohir wasn’t sitting on her feet. “What’d you do this time?”
He grinned, dimpling in a way that always made female relatives want to pinch his cheeks. “I replaced all his MP3s with Backstreet Boys and N’Sync.”
She smothered a laugh, not wanting to encourage him. She didn’t want him messing with her settings again. “You can’t hide in here forever, Ro. You’ll have to face Dan at some point.”
“Yeah, but the longer I hide, the less mad he’ll be when I do have to see him and maybe he won’t want to pound me so bad then. Can I have some chocolate?” Without waiting for an answer, he grabbed the bag of mini Hershey bars on the floor by the reading lamp and took out a handful. “Thanks.”
“Yeah, sure, Ro, you can have a few,” she said sarcastically. He gave her an angelic smile as he unwrapped the first little bar and popped it into his mouth. “It’s not going to work, Ro. I know you too well to be fooled by the Charming Angel look.”
“So does Mom, but she always gives in to it.”
“Mom’s a sucker for dimples and puppy eyes. And that would be Dan” she added, hearing feet pounding up the stairs that were on the other side of the room’s back wall “looking for you.” As if on cue, they heard a muffled “RO, YOU’RE DEAD WHEN I FIND YOU!”
Elrohir’s eyes grew wide. “I told you he was going to pound me.”
“That’s if he finds you.” She unlocked the panel and started to open it, but Elrohir grabbed her arm. “Ro, let go.”
“Don’t tell him!”
“I’m not going to, I promise. I’m going out to tell him you came looking for somewhere to hide, but I kicked you out and I think you went down the back stairs.”
Elrohir let go of her arm. “Okay. Thanks.”
“I like your style. Usually.” They both grinned. “You owe me for this.” She crawled out into her closet, hearing the inside lock slide closed when the panel was back in place.
She followed the sounds of things being tossed around down to Elrohir’s room, where Elladan was pulling apart the closet.
“He went down the back stairs,” she said, trying not to think about the moldy plate on the dresser. “He came to me to hide, but I kicked him out.”
Elladan cursed as he crawled backwards out of the closet. “You should have let him hide and then come told me where he was.”
“And let you make a bloody mess out of my room?” she asked dryly.
“Mom and Dad would let you change your room around, like you’ve been begging them to let you.”
“Probably.” She stood back to let him out the door. “Still proud you taught him everything he knows?”
If eyes could dance, hers would have been. “No thanks. You’d probably taste nasty.” She laughed when he stuck his tongue out at her.
She did the Secret Knock on the back wall of her closet and was rewarded with the feeling of several wooden planks smacking hard into the front of her left ankle. “You could have warned me first!” she hissed as she crawled into Mirkwood. “Where’s the chocolate?”
Elrohir’s eyes grew large. “I finished it?” he offered in a small voice.
“You ate an entire bag?” Luthien echoed with disbelief. “You’re going to be up all stinkin’ night! And Mom’s going to blame me if she hears you’re bouncing off the walls because the chocolate you ate came from my supplies. Like it’s my fault you pigged out while I was gone.” She rolled her eyes and silently counted to ten while biting the tip of her tongue. “Give me one good reason I shouldn’t go and tell Elladan where you are?”
“Because if you do, he’ll kill you, too, because you hid me and lied to him.”
The kid was too smart. “He won’t if he knows what’s good for him,” she said, thinking fast. “Mom will nail his butt to the wall for going after me when I was only trying to keep you from being hurt, and when I tell her he helped you hack me today, he’ll be in even deeper trouble.”
“And so will I.” His voice was small and pathetic and he’d crawled up next to her, his huge, sad puppy eyes threatening to melt her resolve to use the hacking to her advantage at some point. “I put everything back. And you didn’t lose any of your research paper.”
“Which I would have if I hadn’t insisted you restore it,” she shot back.
“No, I made sure to save it before I did anything.”
“Thanks.” Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.
“If I didn’t, you’d definitely tell Mom, and she’d take my computer away, and everything I need to hack Matty Simcoe’s computer is on there. I’m really close and don’t want to stop now. Do you have anything in here to eat? I’m hungry.”
Luthien unlocked the panel and pushed it open. “Get out, brat.”
“Get. Out. Now. You just ate all my chocolate, you only give a crap about wreaking havoc on everyone else’s computers, and you want to eat the rest of whatever I might have in here. Get out. I hope Elladan pounds you good.”
“Thee, I’m sorry about the chocolate. Really! It was just so good, and I didn’t realize-”
“Get” she pushed him towards the opening “out!” Brothers!
She locked the panel behind him and swore she’d never stand in the way of Elladan giving him what he deserved ever again. It was funny, though, replacing all of Dan’s MP3s with Backstreet Boys and N’Sync. Quite a shock for a kid who liked acid rock and ska. She giggled. He must have been livid. Violently livid, like the time she told some kids at school his nickname at home was ‘Elly’. He hadn’t forgiven her for a month.
“MOMMY! HELP! AUGH!” Elrohir’s piercing shriek was followed by a moment of silence, then the ‘whump’ of something heavy landing on furniture. Luthien grinned, trying to imagine what Dan was doing to Ro. Probably tossed him onto the sofa and was pushing his face between the back cushions, pinning an arm behind Ro’s back while Ro shrieked and cried. “MOMMY!” ‘Mommy’ didn’t answer. She likely had the door to her office shut to keep out the noise while she worked.
‘Mom should know better,’ Luthien thought to herself as she unlocked the panel and got out of the hiding space. ‘Probably assumed I’d take it upon myself to keep them from killing each other.’ Just because Mom hadn’t minded taking care of her siblings didn’t mean Luthien wanted anything to do with it. If she wanted to baby-sit, she’d hire herself out for $8.00 an hour, not referee her brothers after dealing with overgrown kindergarteners at school all day. If she heard one more person call her Ginny Weasly one more time….
“Oh, there you are.” Luthien stopped short at the top of the back stairs, surprised to see her mother on the second step in front of her. “Your brothers are fighting.”
Luthien kept her face flat. “I heard. That’s why I’m going downstairs.”
Her mother’s face relaxed into a smile. “Thanks, honey. I knew I could count on you to break it up.”
Luthien feigned surprised at her mother’s assumption. “Break it up? I was going to watch and maybe offer to hold Ro down for Dan.”
Her mother frowned. “Luthien, you need to set a good example for them.”
“Like sitting in my room reading like I do most nights while they’re playing bloody video games or war games outside when the weather’s nice?” she replied sweetly. “Mom, I’m a girl. They’re guys. It’s in their genes to destroy each other in as bloody and violent a way as possible.”
Her mother didn’t look convinced. “Could you get them to stop? I’m working on an important case, and the yelling is distracting.”
“Excuse me, young lady? I asked you to please help me out while I’m working on something important. Don’t talk back to me!”
“You always lock yourself away in your office at night and expect me to magically keep the brats-”
“They have names.”
“Dan and Ro under control, and it’s my fault when they don’t listen. It’s not my fault! They don’t care what I say, because they know all that’s going to happen is you’ll come out of your office and yell for them to go to their rooms, where they’ll spend the rest of the night on their computers, playing games, and Elrohir will be working on his latest computer hacking efforts.”
“Computer hacking?” Her mother sounded skeptical.
“Yes. He drives Dan and me nuts messing with our systems and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s hacking other people now, too.”
“Where would he learn how to hack? He hasn’t had any computer classes at school.”
Luthien tried not to roll her eyes. Sometimes, parents were so dense. “Online.” She didn't know what it was that had stopped her from fingering Elladan as well. Momentary insanity, perhaps.
Luthien took a deep breath to keep her from losing it. “Yes.” ‘No,’ she thought to herself sarcastically. ‘I’m not, actually. I just pulled that out of my butt because it sounded real good.’ “He’s done it to me and Dan.” She leaned against the wall.
“Why didn’t you tell your father or me?” her mother asked, a slight edge to her voice.
“We haven’t needed to.” As if on cue, Elrohir shrieked for ‘Mom!’. “We can handle him on our own.”
“Like right now?” Her mother was definitely Not Happy with her.
She shrugged. “Dan has his ways, I have mine.”
Their mother gave Luthien The Look. “I have a son to rescue. We’ll finish this talk later.”
“Right,” Luthien muttered under her breath, staring after her mother running down the stairs and yelling for her brothers to “Stop it now! I said NOW!” Well, there went all the excitement for the evening. She turned and went back to her room to see if Trish was online. They hadn’t finished talking about Michael Burns and how Luthien should go about asking him to the prom next month during lunch.
Thundering feet on the stairs, yelling, crying, their mother telling Elrohir to “Get back down here RIGHT NOW, young man!”. Her door flying open and Elrohir cursing at her in Sindarin.
“You told her!” he yelled. “You said you wouldn’t!” He grabbed her Figwit-signed copy of ‘Lord of the Rings’ and tore a handful of pages out. “You lied!”
“YOU SHIT!” She scrambled off her bed, across the room to her bookcase, and wrapped one arm around his neck and grabbed the book with her free hand. “I’m going to bloody kill you, you little turd,” she spat through clenched teeth, so furious she couldn’t see straight. “I’m going to choke the living crud out of you for this.”
“Shut up!” She tightened her hold on his neck. “That was ‘Lord of the Rings’, you moron. My signed copy. And you tore pages out of it because you’re all pissed Mom busted your ass. How’d you like it if I came in to your room and tore up your first-edition ‘Silmarillion’?” She pried the torn pages out of his hand. “Or maybe your Topps cards? That’s not a bad idea, actually. I’ll go do that now.” She let go of his neck and shoved him away from her. “I’ll flush every single one of those cards.”
Hands grabbed her arms. “Thee, I know you’re really mad, but you need to calm down.”
“He tore up my ‘Lord of the Rings’, Dan,” she spat. “Because he’s pissed he’s in trouble.”
“He was turning blue, and you promised you wouldn’t tell Mom about today.”
The bit about ‘turning blue’ penetrated through the angry fog in her brain. “I didn’t say anything about today. Only that he’s hacked into our computers before.”
“What happened today? And what’s wrong with Elrohir?” Their mother pushed past her and Elladan to pull her youngest son into her arms.
“Dan didn’t give me a chance to finish choking the little turd for tearing apart my ‘Lord of the Rings’,” Luthien answered.
“You were choking him? Sweet Eru! Elrohir, are you all right?" She sat down on the bed and pulled Elrohir onto her lap. "Luthien, how could you?”
Luthien smiled weakly, her eyes connecting with Elladan’s. “Oh, it’s easy. Just put your arm around his neck and squeeze until he stops trying to pull free.” Elladan squeezed his lips together, obviously trying not to smile.
“That’s not funny!” their mother exclaimed. “Hurting your brother like that!”
“I wasn’t trying to be, Mom. Dan, you can let go. He’s safe.”
Elladan let go of her arms and stuffed his hands in his pockets. “For now. Mom, he just came bursting in and saying I lied, and then he grabbed ‘Lord of the Rings’, the one Dad gave me and I had signed when we went to L.A, and just grabbed some pages and ripped them out.” She felt herself tear up as she said it. “The book is ruined.”
“I’m sorry. But that’s not a reason to choke your brother.”
She turned a hard stare on Elrohir. “I’m going to get all your Topps cards and flush them. And then tear up your photo of Hugo Weaving. And maybe take a few pages out of your ‘Silmarillion’. And-”
“You’re not doing any of that,” her mother interrupted sternly. “Destroying his things isn’t going to make up for what he did to your book.”
“No, but it’ll feel good,” Luthien shot back grimly.
Her mother sighed, gave Elrohir another once-over, and stood up and walked over to Luthien. Putting an arm around her shoulders, she said, “I know how much that book meant to you. And I am sorry.”
“It was signed by lots of the stars. What good is it now?”
“I know. When I was living at home, one of your aunts got mad at me and threw out about half of my 45’s, many of which were hard to get.”
“What’d you do?”
“Tried to pull her hair out. Gramma stopped me and made Jeanne pay to replace every 45 she’d thrown out.” “How long did that take?”
Sigh. “A while. But Jeanne didn’t go out on the weekend during that time, either, so it wasn’t all bad.” Shoulder squeeze. “Don’t worry.”
‘Right’ Luthien thought. Good luck making up for this.
Her mother walked back over to Elrohir. “You are in deep trouble, young man. Not only for hacking your sister and brother’s computers, but for destroying your sister’s copy of ‘Lord of the Rings’ for absolutely no reason.”
“She lied to me!” Elrohir protested. “She said she wouldn’t tell about today!”
“What happened today?” their mother asked. “Elrohir?” Silence. “The longer you wait, the angrier I get.”
“He hacked into Thee’s computer and took her files and was going to make her clean his room to get them back,” Elladan said.
“You helped me!” Elrohir shot back. “You were going to make her clean your room, too! And taking her files was your idea, not mine!”
“Prove it! Mom, he’s making that up. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”
“You stinking liar!” That was Luthien, now ready to pound both her brothers. “You were right there alongside Ro, demanding I clean both your rooms to get my files back! And I didn’t tell Mom about today, you little turd. I kept my promise. All I said was that you’d hacked into my and Dan’s computers. I didn’t tell her when.”
“QUIET! All of you.” All three kids fell silent. “Elladan, I’ll deal with you in a minute. Go to the kitchen. Elrohir” she looked down at her youngest son “you and I are going to my office to have a chat.” Hand firmly on his back, she propelled him forward and out of Luthien’s room, closing the door behind them.
The silence was deafening. Woodenly, Luthien walked over to her bed and flopped down onto her back. “They should have been drowned at birth. They’re the spawn of Morgoth. Especially Elrohir,” she said to the ceiling. “I can’t believe he tore up my book. No way Mom can do anything that’ll make up for that.” She sighed deeply. “I hate my life! Everyone at school thinks I’m some kind of freak and that I like being named all weird, and they think they’re so damn smart by asking me if my parents were going to name me after a character in a book, why didn’t they name me Ginny? I’m sick of having to deal with Morgoth’s spawn. I’m sick of being treated like a bloody babysitter so Mom can spend all night in her office and spend more time on her clients than she ever spends with us. I’m sick of Dad working all the time in that crappy walk-in medical clinic because he thinks everything will fall apart if he’s not there. I’m sick and tired of being trapped in this pink nightmare of a bedroom! FUCK!” She jumped up and pulled the bedspread off the bed, dragging it behind her as she walked over to the window. Letting go of it for a moment, she threw the window open, shoved the screen up, then reached down and grabbed up the bedspread, pushing it out the totally open window. When she head it ‘plop’ on the ground two stories below, she grinned. That felt good! Energized, she went back to her bed and snatched up the decorative pillows and threw them out the window. In short order, everything pink, frilly, ruffle-y, lacy, or daintily femme joined the pillows and bedspread on the ground below.
“And now, the finishing touch,” she said brightly as she carried a bucket of water into her room from the bathroom across the hall. “Add black ink to water” she opened the pot of black ink she used for calligraphy and poured it into the bucket “stir, and dump on pile of Pink Nightmare” she hoisted the bucket up to the window and tipped it towards the opening, smiling when she heard the black water hit the pile below. “Let sit overnight. Serves one with an excuse to re-decorate and not live like a six-year-old.”
Feeling slightly better, she went downstairs to make some tea. Elladan was at the kitchen table, looking cross. Luthien ignored him, not wanting to get into another fight. Not tonight. For all she cared, he could be grounded from his computer until he graduated high school. The only person he cared about was himself and he’d let someone else take all the blame for something he’d been involved in if it meant he wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences. ‘If there was ever been a real Elladan, he’s rolling in his grave that my brother is named after him,” Luthien thought smugly to herself as she poured hot water over a strawberry teabag and set a bowl over the mug so no steam would escape while the tea steeped for ten minutes. ‘Wouldn’t be surprised if Real!Elladan started haunting my brother in retaliation for giving his name a bad name.’ Not a bad play on words. Maybe she had a future in speechwriting.
When her tea was ready, she added milk and cream and went back up to her room, hiding away in Mirkwood. “What I wouldn’t give,” she said with a sigh, “to be in Middle Earth right now, mingling with elves and sons of Man, but especially elves, and not dealing with two little brothers that should have been drowned at birth.”
A light, tinkling laughter came from somewhere behind her and over her head. “At least this one has read the Red Book,” a barely-audible female voice said, sounding very amused.
“And she’s not wishing for Legolas to fall in love with her, thanks be to Eru,” another voice said, male this time and also barely audible. “One of those had Mirkwood in an uproar for decades.”
The female voice made some kind of noise that sounded like a groan. “Don’t remind me.”
During all of this, Luthien was turning around and looking for any cracks where voices could be coming through, but found none. Odd. But who would be talking about her and wishing for Legolas to fall in love with her? Was she cracking up? Was this a sign? Would she see little men next? It wouldn’t surprise her if she was, after the day she’d had. Those two beasts were enough to drive anyone over the brink. She tried wiping out the insides of her ears with her pinkies, but the voices were still speaking. She must be going crazy. Ah, well. May as well enjoy it. She rested her back against the rear wall of the space and slid down into a sitting position to listen to what the voices were saying.
“So we’re agreed,” the male voice said. Luthien blinked. What had she missed?
“Yes. Tomorrow, after afternoon Tea.” The female voice laughed again. “What is it Men always say? Be careful what you wish for’?”
“Because you just might get it,” the other voice finished and they both laughed. “If they knew we were listening, they’d probably be more careful.”
“Men were always foolish,” the female voice said indulgently. “Some things never change. Now, about those storms in northern China. Do you think….” The voices faded to nothing, leaving Luthien extremely confused as to what had just happened. Had the coffee creamer gone bad and triggered halucinations? She looked down at her mug for a moment, then set it at the far end of the space. No more of the tea, just in case. She didn’t want to end up seeing elves two-stepping around her bed later. Or maybe she was simply loosing her mind and she’d end up in a rubber room talking about the little green men tapdancing on the ceiling. She giggled. That could be interesting, tap dancing men on the ceiling. Maybe they’d take requests.
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.