Rumil eyed the Noldo across from him suspiciously; there was something in those steely eyes. After a few moments, he answered. "All right, I agree to the wager."
Elladan laughed, "Do you not want to know what it is first? I could be making you eat orc meat!"
The younger elf smirked, "As long as it is 'blackened'. Anyway, I trust you."
"Oh, that hurts. Now I'll have to think of something else."
Elrohir and Haldir watched in amusement. They could hear the ongoing conversation as the din in the hall had long ago stopped. Both could be seen rolling their eyes.
"Well, since you trust me, I will go easy on you. If you loose this hand, you must accompany me on a hunt."
The silver-haired elf looked at Elladan incredulously. "A hunt?"
"Yes, just a hunt."
"Agreed." Rumil played out the hand as best he could. While he really needed to win back some of what he lost, the prospect of going hunting, especially with Elladan, certainly had its appeal. All too soon, Rumil noticed the lop-sided grin gracing Elladan's face; the game was over. Rumil dropped his head to his forearms where they rested on the table. "I guess I should prepare for a hunt," he said, as he glanced at the winning hand.
Elladan reached over and patted the young elf's shoulder. "Do not worry; I said it would not be life-threatening. I just have to find a missing horse."
"A horse? I always thought they would be rather tough, but the cooks here are remarkable."
Elrohir chuckled as he and Haldir approached the table.
"Well, little brother, how bad is it this time?"
"I did not come and ask you for money did I?"
"No," Haldir said dramatically, "You just agreed to go horse hunting."
The small group laughed. Elrohir asked a remaining servant for a round of drinks as he and the Lorien captain sat down. Eying his brother, the younger elf spoke.
"You are to hunt that horse alone, since you alone *forgot* to lock the corral. I do not think Glorfindel will be happy with this."
The young Silvan's eyes went wide. "This is a punishment from Lord Glorfindel?" He groaned. "I really do not want to get on his bad side. Please, Elladan. I will do anything else…just please do not make me cross the Captain."
The older twin cast a heated look at his brother before explaining the situation. "Yes, I was responsible for the horse getting out and yes, Glorfindel did order me to find it. Yes, it is true that 'Ro cannot help me…," he winked at the silver-haired elf, "but he never said I had to go it alone. Think about it, it really would not be safe to go wandering around the valley all alone."
Rumil's outlook improved and with a gleeful smile he replied, "Anyway, with Glorfindel chasing after our dear brother, he will never notice I went with you."
Haldir smacked the youngest brother one the shoulder quite hard. "Stop it!" He said through gritted teeth. While he too thought Orophin set his sights a bit high, he was not about to let the elf be embarrassed in front of the twins, or anyone else for that matter. Rumil looked at his brother and quickly muttered an apology, looking quite contrite.
The twins watched the interplay, each admiring a different quality. Ellladan really enjoyed Rumil's light-heartedness and adventurous disposition. Somehow the worries of the world seemed lighter with the young elf around. On the other hand, Elohir was impressed with Haldir's sense of honor and family loyalty. There was never any doubt that he cared for his siblings, but he often seemed to be tougher on them than the other guardians. Yet, at this moment, it was clear that the Captain was not always *the captain*. The youngest son of Elrond hoped to spend more time with the often-stoic elf.
The morning sun peaked over the mountain and flooded the courtyard with gentle warmth. A small group of elves was gathered, saying brief goodbyes.
"Be careful, alright? Do not let anything happen to Rumil." Elladan rolled his eyes at his twin. Elrohir was such a worrywart.
"We are looking for a horse, not an orc pack. What could possibly go wrong?" Rumil piped in.
Elrohir sighed, if Rumil only knew.
"Do not embarrass yourself. Remember who you ride with." Rumil looked down at his brother from the saddle, ready to make an off-handed comment when he saw the sincerity in Haldir's eyes. The older elf did care. Haldir could see the interest in his brother's eyes and he only wanted to be sure Rumil would not get hurt…and he did not mean physically. It was a well-known fact that Rumil plowed through things headfirst, often falling victim to his own naiveté.
"I will behave," came Rumil's cheeky reply. With that, the two elves departed. Haldir sighed. Before Elrohir could ask him what troubled the older elf, a young page came running toward them.
"Lord Elrohir! Lord Elrohir!" The page came to a skidding halt before the scowling elf. The younger twin hated being addressed by his title. It only served to set him apart from everyone else, something he really did not want to see happen at the moment. He did not want Haldir to start treating him differently. He enjoyed the older elf's company.
"What is it?" He hoped he was able to mask his irritation.
"Your father would like to see you in his office. He said you were to come quickly."
Flashing a worried look at Haldir, Elrohir quickly strode up the steps and towards his father's office, Haldir following in his wake.
Reaching the closed door, Elrohir knocked softly.
Elrohir entered the office, leaving the door ajar. Haldir hung back in the hall. He was not sent for and did not want to intrude. He did, however, want to be available if needed.
"Ah, son." The elf lord said affectionately. "I understand that your brother has left to find a way-ward horse."
"I understand that you were not to help him out this time, but I hope he did not go off alone."
"No sir. Rumil went with him." Elrond's eyebrow rose slightly, but he really had no time to inquire about that development.
"Son, as you know, a delegation from Mirkwood is due to arrive." Elrohir nodded. "I must ask you then to greet them at the border, Glorfindel can go as your escort."
"With due respect, sir. Glorfindel is supposed to be helping Maedhros settle in and get acclimated. I will not be traveling outside our boarders and will be within shouting distance of a guard post nearly all time. I am sure I can handle this alone."
Elrond smiled at his youngest. Elrohir was not as battle-hearty as his brother. The younger twin was the diplomat, the healer, and in some respects, the follower. Perhaps it is for the best that his brother is not able to go with him. "I do not doubt you abilities, my son. It simply is not safe to travel all alone. I would feel better if Glorfindel went with you."
Elrohir really had no desire to go with Glorfindel. With the re-born warrior with him, he would no longer be in charge of the situation. How could he demonstrate his ability with his tutor hovering over him? "Adar, what if I could find an equally suited escort?"
"Well, if you have someone in mind, that is fine. I just do not want you riding out alone. From the messages, it sounds like the delegation will be at our border the day after tomorrow."
"Then I had best get set. It will take at least a day to get to the meeting point and I would like to be early. I would rather wait for them than they for us." With a curt bow, the twin left the study.
Elrond smiled with pride at his son. The twins were two sides to one coin, a perfect split of mother and father in them both. Elladan was a capable strategist and born leader, which he got from Elrond. His stubborn streak and his seriousness he got from his mother. Elrohir on the other hand assumed his role as a diplomat and healer. His mother blessed him with compassion and a desire to learn everything. The elf lord sighed at the thought of his departed wife.
Haldir had been leaning causally against the wall about half way down the hall. He stood straight when Elrohir entered the hall.
"Everything alright?" He asked.
Elrohir smiled at the tall warrior. Haldir was taken aback by the twinkle in the younger elf's eye.
"Oh, yes. Everything is all right. Tell me, do you have any plans for the next couple of days?"
"Good. Now you do. You'll need to pack up and be ready to leave after mid-day meal." With that, the dark-haired elf glided past him.