10. Chapter 10
- Chapter 10 -
Eight months later
Elladan smiled from afar at Wyn's sheepish expression. She stood in the hall and seemed lost, looking around in consternation. He approached her, careful to step loudly in order to warn her of his arrival and not startle her. She turned around, and her brow creased in confusion. Elladan realised that she was wondering whether he was himself, or Elrohir. It still seemed difficult for her to distinguish him from his brother; it had been a source of several embarrassing mistakes in the past few months – not that he could blame her, even Glorfindel had had trouble telling who was who in the first years of their friendship.
'Wyn?' he asked, 'May I help you?' He stopped a few feet away.
'Elladan,' she smiled in relief. 'I am afraid I am lost… Again.' She gestured to the empty hallways around them. 'I don't recognise this part of the house.' She took a step towards him, walking carefully. Elladan noticed that she had rested her hand on her bulging stomach, as if to protect her unborn child from any harm. Her steps, rendered difficult by her crippled leg, were further slowed by her pregnancy, and he hurried to offer her his arm, which she took with a thankful smile.
Elrohir had tried to heal her, Elladan recalled, but the injury ran too deep, and was too old to be cured by the last remains of elven magic he and his brother still possessed. He knew that it was Elrohir's greatest regret: to be unable to give health back to the woman he loved, especially since he was the cause of it. Elladan had never been a healer; he had therefore not offered his help, and not been asked to, much to his relief. The weakness of his own powers could have betrayed him; Elrohir still knew nothing of his choice, but to bear the burden day after day and not say a word to him was becoming increasingly hard.
Elladan nodded. 'I do not believe you have been here before. These were the guest rooms, when we still had guests…' He felt her lean heavily on his arm, and started to guide her slowly towards the inhabited part of Imladris.
'I wanted to visit…' she confessed, looking around. 'I will never tire of the beauty of this place.' She paused to examine the statues that stood beneath a stone arch, and a shadow crossed her features.
'Wyn?' Elladan asked, frowning. 'What is it?' He immediately regretted his question. It was not his place to ask; he was not her husband, nor her confidant or friend, despite their cordial relationship. There had always been awkwardness between them, because of his resemblance to his brother, and also because she felt that her arrival had changed something between them, disrupted an equilibrium never meant to be broken.
But Wyn seemed to take no offense at his question. She sighed and closed her eyes briefly. 'It is as though they are watching me,' she muttered, blushing. 'Watching and judging, and finding me lacking, compared to you all.'
Elladan glanced at the empty eyes of stone, and the unwavering gaze made him feel uneasy as well; it was as though there was reproach on those ancient faces. But for what? 'Come,' he said quietly. 'Let us go back to the living.'
Wyn met his eyes and nodded; they walked slowly in the gloom of the empty corridors in a comfortable silence. Suddenly Wyn put her hand on her stomach, and a fond smile illuminated her face. 'He is kicking!' she chuckled. 'He wants out…'
Despite the fact that he now felt closer to the young woman than ever before, Elladan felt slightly embarrassed, like he was intruding on a moment he had not been supposed to witness. 'He? It could be a daughter,' he argued.
Wyn shook her head with a grin. 'It is a son, I can feel it.' She patted her stomach. 'And a restless one, too. He will give us trouble.'
Elladan smiled, remembering his own childhood with Elrohir; their pranks, their carelessness and energy, until they had been taught to tame it; their first fight, and first wound. He felt his heart go to this out little being, this child of his brother's blood; he vowed that it would live a blessed childhood, and a happy life. Elladan would see to it.
'I am going to be an uncle!' he grinned. 'Oh, this is a perfect way to get back at my dear brother for all the pranks he ever played on me or let me be punished for! I will teach your child everything I know about mischief!'
'…And we will go grey in the head before our time by your fault!' Wyn laughed. 'Beware! What if Elrohir turns those pranks against you?'
'Then I will have to ensure that my nephew's loyalty towards me never wavers! I will spoil him rotten, and cover him in presents.'
Wyn nudged his ribs. 'You are evil!'
Elladan grinned wider, bowing. 'Aye. I am.'
He supported her as they started to walk down a flight of stairs. Wyn clutched his arm, her other hand on the railing. She grimaced with every step, her mangled leg obviously torturing her; but she did not complain, and Elladan realised that he had never heard her say a word about her injury. His words came back to him: he had advised his brother to keep the secret about what had happened the night she had been crippled, but what did Wyn think of it? Was ignorance a bliss, or a curse?
'Do you want to know?' he blurted out. 'Who… Who did this to you?' he added awkwardly as she stared at him.
Wyn sighed. 'I wanted, yes… I used to be so angry at the responsible…' She shrugged. 'But I got used to it. You know, I remember a little about when it happened.'
Elladan felt his heart quicken. '…And?'
'And I saw the rider… I remember that he was leaning on the neck of his horse, and that he was covered in blood. Later I realised that he must have been unconscious, so how could I blame him?' She smiled sadly. 'I'd rather think that my… sacrifice allowed him to reach his home faster, and survive.'
Elladan nodded mutely, thinking over her words. If she would rather not know the truth, and imagine a gentler reality to console her, how would it be for Elrohir? Elladan knew all too well the pain of losing a loved one to death; twice now he had faced it, but it stung just as strongly the second time. He doubted the ache would ever fade completely; it was a wound he would carry in his heart for all his lifetime. Would it be kinder, then, to spare Elrohir the knowledge that he, Elladan, had given up his immortality as well, driven by desperation? Spare him the abyss of helplessness and guilt?
'Elladan?' Wyn squeezed his arm gently. 'Is something amiss? Did I say something wrong?'
Elladan frowned. 'No, no. Why?'
"You look sad…"
Elladan shook his head and forced a smile to his lips. It sufficed to distract Wyn, who winced as another kick was delivered from inside her belly. 'Peace, my little one!' she whispered, stroking her stomach lovingly. 'Ouch!' She grimaced. 'Peace. Your time will come soon.'
Elladan watched her attentively; he knew little of healing and midwifery and, though seemingly harmless, the situation required his brother's knowledge. He guided Wyn down the corridor, and soon they had reached the entrance to Elrohir's chambers.
Wyn let go of Elladan's arm. 'Thank you,' she nodded, 'For your help.' She hesitated. 'It is not always easy…'
To live in a realm of perfect beings, finished Elladan in his head. He bowed and took his leave, striding down the dark, silent halls. He felt suddenly sorry for her, his brother's mortal-born, imperfect wife who would never live up to the image she had of the elves. If only Wyn knew, he thought bitterly, if only she heard of our history, of the bloodstains on our hands… But again, was it a service to do her, or a cruel thing?
Truth was, he understood her better than he had thought possible, and it pained him to think that someday he would have to abandon her. Despite her love for Elrohir, she was in need of a friend, to share the few doubts and fears she dared not tell her husband. Yet he would have to deny her this for his brother's sake.
For someday he would age, reflecting the signs of time on his brother's face; and then, Elrohir would inevitably understand what he, Elladan, had been driven to do. And his brother would suffer a torment worse than any wound, guilt gnawing at his soul and leaving him restless; spoiling the happiness he had with his wife and child. Maybe if he never knew, if Elladan left before the two of them became strangers, all would be easier?
Once in his room, Elladan looked around the room that had been his as long as he could remember, taking in every detail with new eyes. How would it feel to touch that small training bow that used to be his for the last time? The weapon had been made by Glorfindel for his twenty-fifth begetting day, and he had kept it for it sentimental value. Would it hurt to leave it behind?
Memories filled every corner. The eastern wall bore a series of marks that used to indicate his growth; the sheets on his bed had been soaked more than once with his blood and his childhood tears… This was home in its most intimate meaning, a sanctuary. And Elladan understood that he was not ready to leave it behind, to lose the comfort and protection it provided. Imladris was more than a shelter: the mere knowledge of its existence had often kept him warm during the long, cold nights on patrol. That, and the thought that Elrohir was there somewhere, safe and happy.
Discarding his tunic, Elladan slipped under the sheets, wondering whether Elrohir felt the same. And if he did, could he react to Elladan's brutal disappearance with something else than fear and desperation?
I could not… I would search all Middle-earth for you, brother, should our places be inverted…
Elladan shifted in his bed, but the feeling of discomfort did not pass. He realized that there was no easy solution to his situation, no outcome where no-one would get hurt. Either way his brother would suffer, be it from guilt or worry; and he, Elladan, was unable to choose the smaller evil, caught between his own desires and the happiness he wished upon Elrohir. He had made his choice and sacrificed his immortal soul, relieved to think that he might not live to see his twin's death… All in vain, he thought as he slowly sank into slumber. In the end, they would all pay for their dreams.
He was woken up by the sound of someone pounding on the door. Still half-asleep, he reached for his leggings and, fumbling with the fastenings, trudged to the door and opened it. "Yes?" he yawned.
He was met by the pale face of an elleth. 'Lord Elladan!' she stammered, wringing her hands anxiously. 'You must come quickly!'
She looked frightened, and this woke Elladan up for good. 'What is it?' he demanded, glancing towards his sword. 'Are we under attack?'
'It is Lady Wyn, my Lord. Please, Sidguil said you must come.'
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.