Just then his quiet contemplation of the back garden was shattered by the sound of an urgent beating of hooves. The smell of dust reached them. Amras sat up, pulling their blanket off Amrod's bare feet.
"Ow! It's cold. What do think you're doing?"
"Just looking to see who it is?" Amras complained. Amrod huffed in exasperation. It could not be anyone but Fingon at this time of night. In fact, he was late. Everyone knew that Fingon would not sleep without trying to make everything right again after he and Maedhros had had a row.
"It's Finno!" Amras crowed.
"Duh! Cover my feet up. It's freezing."
"Whiney baby. Freezing means like the frost on the grass. In the morning. In Formenos. In the fall, tosser. Not summer in Valinor."
The sound of front door slamming was followed by the soft whinny of Fingon's horse, then a noise not unlike scuffling: Fingon throwing himself upon Maedhros no doubt.
A harsh, desperate whisper from Fingon, "I'm so sorry."
"Shh. Káno." Silence. "Let's go take care of your horse." The sounds of footsteps moved in the direction of the stable.
"Hey?" Amras asked. "Do you believe in ghosts?" A single faraway howl of a dog, or perhaps a wolf, underlined his final word.
"Remember what Atar said? No scary stories."
"See what I mean? A big baby."
"I won't dignify that with a response."
"Ha! You just did." Amras snorted and cackled. Amrod refrained from punching him.
The quiet grew heavy, interrupted only by the subdued chirp of crickets, the wind in the willow tree at the end of lawn, before it sloped down to creek, and soothing water noises. But he could only imagine the sound of the small insects in the grass at the edge of the creek.
After a long while, the back door onto the lawn beyond the chicken coop opened and closed quietly. They both held very still. Hoping that Fingon and Maedhros would think they were sleeping, the better to spy on them, Amrod thought.
"The twins are sleeping in the garden tonight," Maedhros whispered.
"Down by the willow tree then?"
"Yes." Maedhros said, in a peculiar breathless voice. Several yucky squishy, plopping sounds followed.
"Eww. Gross. Kissing again." Amras shuddered.
Amrod gave him short, "Shh." Maedhros and Fingon walked toward the willow tree, their soft, crunchy footsteps fading into the night.
The back door flew open and slammed shut with a loud echoing crack.
"Hey, little guys. How's it going?" Celegorm called. "What happened to Finno and Nelyo?"
"Down by the willow tree doing nasty things," Amras said, cocky as his older brother.
"Don't knock it if you haven't tried it." Celegorm snorted.
"Have you?" The twins chorused together, a rare moment of perfect congruence.
"No! But Finno claims to like it a lot." Celegorm laughed in that way that only he could, like he had said the cleverest thing in the world. "You want a scary story before I leave?"
Amras piped up, unexpectedly uneasy. "Atar said no scary stories."
"Fine then. You be good little boys. I won't tell you anything about the ghost that lives down by creek. Some say it is a dead elf from across the sea, escaped from Namo's halls. Others think it might be something Melkor created that was never dealt with. Maybe there is no truth in it at all. Or maybe, as Atar would have you believe, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of those strange noises at night."
"Turko, you are such a . . ."
Celegorm interrupted Amrod. "Lighten up. You should hear some of the stories Macalaurë told me when I was much younger than you. Well. Gotta go. There's a dance in the city center tonight."
As he walked away from them, light from the kitchen window reflected upon Celegorm's golden hair and the matching threads woven into the trim of one of Maedhros' best tunics. Amrod noted with satisfaction that the sleeves were much too long on him.
"You know he’s full of shit, don't you?"
"Yes!" Amras answered.
"Good. Anyway, Káno and Nelyo are between us and the creek."
Secure that the ghost, if there should be one, would have to encounter Fingon and Maedhros before it reached them, he considered that, although their oldest brother and their cousin were not easily frightened, neither were they pointlessly reckless. It surely must be safe. Amrod fell asleep.
He awakened to Amras clenching his arm. "Listen. I thought I was having a nightmare. But, ai, ai! I'm awake. Do you hear it?" Amrod's heart pounded at the fear he heard in his brother's strangled voice.
"Quiet. I can't hear a thing with you ranting." He wondered for a moment if it was all a prank cooked up between Celegorm and Amras, but one look at his brother's face in the dim silver light dispelled that frail hope. A crackling of undergrowth, closer to their tent than to the willow tree, caused him to throw his arms around his brother and clutch him to his chest. The rustling of twigs and leaves drew closer, accompanied by a series of snorts and snuffles, then a loud squeal, followed by a pained repetitive wailing and louder hideous grunts.
Amrod pulled Amras to his feet. "Oh, shit! What happened to Finno and Nelyo?"
"L-look. The light is on in Nelyo's room now. They're in the house."
It became abundantly clear that the ghost had captured its prey, the screaming and squeaking sounded as though the snorting thing was eating a baby. It would finish soon and come after them. They both took off running in the direction of the back porch, screeching.
Amras caught his foot on something and sprawled flat on his stomach. The sight of the bane of his existence, his best friend and soul mate, lying there helpless, forced Amrod to form actual words as he tugged to pull him upright.
"Atar! Amil! He's down! Amras has fallen and I can't get him up!"
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.