By Any Means Necessary
Where was Elrohir? Arien had long set and Ithil had risen high in the sky and yet there was no sign of his twin brother. Elladan had the feeling that Elrohir had been avoiding him all day long. Elrohir hadn’t even joined him for dinner! /Why are you avoiding me? And even more importantly, where can I find you? I have grown fed up with your behavior. You *will* tell me what is bothering you!/
But first he had to find his elusive brother. Where would Elrohir hide? Where would be the last place he would look? Of course! A sad pain twisted his heart, recalling the bower where Celebrian had found some semblance of peace and quiet. She had already begun to fade and had gone outside more often, claiming she needed to feel free. The house had made her feel cornered. He would most certainly find his brother there.
Elladan grabbed his cloak before leaving his rooms. Winter was about to set in now that Vilya no longer resided in Imladris and he had the feeling it would be a cold, harsh winter without the aid of the ring’s balancing powers.
Leaving the buildings behind him he headed for the rose gardens, recalling a time when Elrohir and he had spent many nights there in remembrance of their mother. When Celebrian had left, they had mourned the loss and had found the strength they needed by comforting each other. It had brought them even closer together – something which he hadn’t believed possible.
Rushing through the gardens, he paid the roses’ lovely scent no heed and headed for the ardor near the waterfall, hoping to find his twin there.
Elrohir spied his brother from a distance and mentally prepared himself for the upcoming confrontation. He didn’t know how much longer he could successfully hide his attraction from his twin. Elladan already knew something was wrong and his older brother wouldn’t give up until he knew what was troubling him. Right there and then he made his decision to deceive Elladan if necessary, and never admit the horrid truth to the brother whom he desired as his lover.
He shivered as a chilling breeze penetrated the wooden confines of the bower and he wished he had brought his cloak with him. But when he had made his way here, Arien had shone hotly and he had been warm.
“Gwanunig, (twin brother.)” said Elladan in greeting, entering the summer house. Elrohir had seated himself in their mother’s rocking chair and for one ominous moment his twin resembled Celebrian in an uncanny way. It was true that they had inherited many physical traits from their father, but the lips and nose were definitely their mother’s. He remained standing in front of Elrohir, who seemed reluctant to meet his gaze. “Elrohir?”
Elrohir sighed and finally looked at his twin brother. He cringed when their gazes met, wondering what Elladan read in his grey eyes.
Elladan read loneliness, despair and the need to be loved in his brother’s expressive eyes. Those emotions urged him into action. “Make way for me.” Squeezing himself into the chair as well, he pulled Elrohir partly onto his lap. Their mother’s rocking chair was rather spacious and could hold them both. When Elrohir tried to pull away and get to his feet, Elladan established a tight hold on his twin.
After shifting on the chair to get comfortable, he pulled Elrohir close and forced his brother to rest his head against him. “Tell me what is on your mind. I won’t let you leave here until I know.” Elrohir’s distressed sigh hopefully indicated his twin brother was finally going to unburden his soul.
Elrohir loathed himself for telling half-lies to his brother, but he reminded himself that it was in Elladan’s best interest. His twin couldn’t know what truly worried him. Instead of telling the truth, he said, “I have been thinking about the choice that I have to make shortly.”
Elladan stiffened. “Are you contemplating choosing mortality?” Nay, this couldn’t be happening!
Elrohir’s self-loathing increased; hearing and sensing his twin’s pain. He didn’t want to hurt his brother in this way, but it would keep Elladan from finding out what truly ailed him. “Aye, I think I will choose mortality like Elros did. Don’t you think it ironic that history will repeat itself?”
Elladan’s heart shattered into fragile bits, hearing his brother’s admission. “But you know I want to be counted among the Firstborn. You cannot leave me, Elrohir! We cannot be separated.”
/But we must go our own ways, êl. (star.) We must, or else I might drag you into disgrace with me./ Wetness dripped down one of his braids and startled, he looked at his twin. “Don’t cry, gwanunig. Please don’t cry.”
But the dam had broken and hot tears flowed from Elladan’s darkening eyes. “I cannot live without you!” Elrohir couldn’t be serious!
“Ada survived without Elros. They dealt with the separation. We will manage as well.” Elrohir’s eyes also filled with tears, seeing the shock and disbelief in his brother’s orbs. /Even if I chose to be counted among the Firstborn I would fade within the year. It doesn’t matter if I choose mortality or not./
“Don’t,” said Elladan pleadingly. He grabbed Elrohir’s hands, panicking now that he faced losing his brother to mortality. “Don’t make this choice now. If you love me you will postpone it!”
/Aiya, Elladan. It *is* because I love you that I have to leave you./ He wished he could leave Imladris right now, before the Elven Sickness fully struck, but Elladan needed him and Elrond had entrusted his realm to them. He couldn’t leave now; he had to endure a little longer.
“Promise me, Elrohir! Promise me you won’t make that decision now. Wait a few more years.” Elladan turned Elrohir’s face toward him and was stunned to find that his brother was crying as well. “You don’t want to leave me! Don’t deny it! I read the truth in your eyes. You want to stay with me! Why are you doing this to us?”
Elrohir closed his eyes in an attempt to shut Elladan out. But the bond between them was strong and his brother’s pain palpable in his mind. Carefully he shielded his thoughts and emotions. He couldn’t risk Elladan accidentally finding out the truth. “Your words are true, êl. I don’t want to leave you, but –“
Elladan cut him short. “Then don’t! Promise me you won’t chose mortality, not yet. Give yourself more time. Maybe you will change your mind and regret your rash decision later!”
At that moment, Elrohir realized Elladan might also choose mortality if he did. That prospect worried him. Elladan and he shared a tight bond and his twin would never allow for them to be separated. “Is that it, êl? You would become mortal to stay with me?”
Elladan stared at his twin in shock. “You always read me too easily,” he said eventually, averting his eyes. “I cannot let you go, gwanunig. I need you close. I do not desire to become mortal, but I am determined to make sure that history does not repeat itself. Ada and Elros were separated. I promise you that it won’t happen to us. I will become mortal if you do, but please… Give us time.”
/Us,/ thought Elrohir saddened. /With you, it is always *us*./ At times he wondered if Elladan ever saw them as individuals. “Elladan? What do I mean to you?”
The question surprised Elladan, but he grabbed hold of the opportunity to talk to his twin. Elrohir seemed willing to listen and he had to reach his brother now. He missed the intimate, emotional contact that normally existed between them. “You mean everything to me, Elrohir. You are the other half of my fëa. (soul) Without you I am lost, incomplete. I can deal with everything that life throws at me as long as I know you are at my side. You are my heart – and at times my guardian. I lost count of the times that you have rescued me from the awkward situations I got myself in. That is why I need you so much.” Elladan could only hope that his words had reached his twin. “Elrohir, promise me you will never leave me.”
Elrohir sighed distressed. “I cannot make that promise and you know it.”
“Why?” Elladan stared at his twin with desperate hope in his eyes.
“I might die in battle or—“
“I will watch your back! I always did! No Orc or other foul creature will ever take you down!”
Elrohir raised a hand and wiped away the lingering tears that had settled on his twin’s face. “I cannot make that promise.” He wished he could. But he was already fading.
“At least promise me you won’t choose mortality!” Elladan wrapped his arms possessively around his brother and stared at him. “Promise me!” The mere thought of having to live without Elrohir made him panic.
Elrohir nervously moistened his lips. He couldn’t bear seeing the distress in his brother’s eyes and whispered, “I promise.” He ignored Elladan’s triumphant outcry at hearing his promise, as he had just condemned himself to fading and facing Mandos when the time of his death was upon him.
Realizing Elladan was shaking like a leaf, Elrohir pushed his troubled thoughts aside and returned the embrace. He pulled Elladan close and guided his twin’s head against his shoulder. As he was already in the rocking chair, he used that to his advantage and rocked slowly, hoping the motion would bring back memories of their parents rocking them when they had been Elflings. It worked. The tension in Elladan’s body grew less and Elrohir mumbled reassuringly, whispering words that had a hidden meaning to him, but seemed completely normal to Elladan. “Im mela lle, êl. (I love you, star.) You are my heart and my soul.”
Elladan finally let go of his fears and worries, and clung to his brother, letting Elrohir rock them and soothe his soul.
“So you bound yourself to him,” said Glorfindel thoughtfully. Their normal friendly banter had now given way to serious discussion.
“It was the only way to keep Thranduil alive,” said Erestor in a calm tone. He studied his friend’s expression, wondering how Glorfindel would react to learning the truth. “I cannot leave his side for long and at night he needs me close.”
Glorfindel felt slightly dumbfounded. As long as he had known Erestor, the raven-haired Elf had never taken a lover. Elrond had once hinted that Erestor had been bonded once, but that the advisor’s mate had perished before Erestor had joined him at the Battle of the Last Alliance. He felt conflicted, learning that Erestor had accidentally bound himself to the Ruler of Mirkwood. “Do you care for him?” He had many questions and would ask them one by one.
Erestor frowned; that was one question he hadn’t expected. “Aye, I care for Thranduil. I do not know when or how it happened, but I want him safe and alive.”
Glorfindel shifted on the chair. “Does this mean you will stay in Mirkwood for the rest of your life? That you won’t return home with us?”
Erestor swallowed nervously. “I am bound to Elrond’s service. I cannot desert him like that. I would prefer to stay here with Thranduil, but should Elrond insist I will return to Imladris.”
“But you would rather stay here?”
“Aye, Thranduil needs me and I have discovered that he is not the arrogant Elf I thought him to be.” Erestor gave Glorfindel an apologetic look. “I would greatly miss Elrond and you, the twins and Arwen, but…” His voice trailed off, uncertain how to continue. “I have served Elrond for millennia and I always put him and Imladris first, but now I feel like I have found something -- someone -- just for me.” He hoped Glorfindel understood.
“We both know Elrond well enough to realize that he won’t force you to return to Imladris if your heart is bound to this place.” Glorfindel’s gaze shifted away from Erestor and came to rest on Thranduil’s face. The Sindarin Elf was fast asleep, and this time the nightmares left him alone. Arien’s rays illuminated his face, giving him a semblance of his former beauty back. “I must admit to being surprised that you would have him for your mate. As long as I remember you have been a loner.”
Erestor waited patiently for Glorfindel to finish, uncertain what would come next. At least the Elda didn’t seem to condemn him for his actions or his desire to stay with Thranduil.
“Do you think Thranduil will make you happy?” asked Glorfindel, meeting Erestor’s gaze again.
“I honestly do not know,” replied Erestor slowly. “Right now we are too pre-occupied with fighting the Shadow. We take it night-by-night. I have only been here for a few days, but I have seen him fight the evil, and on several occasions I fought alongside with him. I find him brave, courageous and compassionate, but I do not know what kind of mate he will be in the long run.” Erestor closed his eyes temporarily. “I do not know if he will live long enough for me to find out.”
“Trust me, he was beautiful once,” whispered Glorfindel in a dreamy tone, recalling past meetings with the golden-haired Ruler. “He always struck me as passionate and a bit possessive.” Suddenly he shivered and his features contorted. A terrible thought had come over him. “What if Legolas had been close instead of you? Legolas would never have let his father die. It would have been truly disastrous if Legolas and Thranduil had bonded instead.”
A bond didn’t necessarily have to be sensual in nature, but it would have kept Legolas from forming another one with a potential lover. Glorfindel sighed, suddenly feeling relieved that it had been Erestor instead. The dark-haired advisor was strong and wise; Thranduil and Erestor were evenly matched. “I hope you will find some measure of happiness, then,” said Glorfindel eventually, smiling at his long-time friend. “If Thranduil ever recovers he might be more than you can handle, meldir. He is quite strong-headed.”
Erestor returned the smile, although somewhat saddened. “I would be content to see him recover, Glorfindel. Being bound to him will change my life
-- has already changed my life -- but I will manage. Maybe once Thranduil is strong again I can spend part of the year in Imladris.”
Glorfindel understood; Erestor realized he was making a sacrifice that would serve the greater good and felt his own happiness didn’t matter as much as keeping Mirkwood and its Ruler safe. Recalling that Thranduil had allowed Erestor to call him ‘melamin’, he suspected that the Sindarin Elf did care about Erestor. A smug grin surfaced on his face, hoping Thranduil would love Erestor the way his friend deserved to be loved.
“Elladan, saes, (please) I am not hungry.” His older brother had dragged him to the kitchens after stating that he looked too skinny and pale. The cook had complied at once, serving a rich soup filled with meats and vegetables. But Elrohir just stared at it and couldn’t bring himself to eat.
“Just a few spoonfuls, Elrohir,” pleaded Elladan, who had seated himself opposite his twin. He placed his hand atop of Elrohir’s and his eyes begged his younger brother to reconsider. “You need to eat something.” He didn’t dare ask when the last time was Elrohir had eaten. “Do it for *me*.”
Sighing deeply, Elrohir brought the spoon to his lips and tried to swallow the rich substance, but his stomach protested at once. He swallowed, fought the gagging reflex that followed, and then pushed the bowl far away from him. “I cannot. I am sorry.”
Elladan’s eyes darkened with concern. He reached for the plate with bread and cheese and offered Elrohir tiny bits of both. “Try again?”
The cook had placed hot milk with honey in front of Elrohir and now also looked expectedly at him. Not wanting to let them down, Elrohir tried again and managed a few bites of the cheese. The bread however, he had to spit out. Giving the cook an apologetic look, he felt guilty for disappointing them.
“Is there anything else I can tempt you with?” asked the cook hopefully.
“Nay. Please… Let me be.” Elrohir caught the disappointed look in the cook’s eyes when the Elf turned away to give them some privacy. Next, he stared at Elladan. The worry that stared back at him made him swallow hard.
“You cannot eat,” started Elladan in a thoughtful tone. “At night you shiver when it is not even cold. You distance yourself from me and seek out Nana’s bower to sit in her rocking chair.” Horrified, he realized he could only reach one conclusion, but his heart fought this revelation. Nay, he couldn’t lose Elrohir!
“Elladan?” Elrohir whispered his brother’s name in concern, seeing the gray eyes darken even further with realization. Had his twin figured out what was happening to him? He prayed to Elbereth that he hadn’t!
“By the Grace of the Valar, you are fading…” It took him a moment to fully comprehend that truth, but then he jumped to his feet and broke out into a frantic pace. “You are fading! Nana had nearly faded completely when she sailed for Valinor. Had she stayed her soul would have traveled to Mandos!”
Elrohir shivered, seeing the almost feral expression on his twin’s face now that the terrible truth was sinking in. He tried to placate his brother, but Elladan growled – actually growled – at him like a hurting wolf.
“That is why you promised me not to choose mortality. You knew you were fading!” Elladan threw his arms into the air. “Where is Ada when I need him? Why are Erestor and Glorfindel not here? I cannot deal with this alone!” For one moment he stood frozen in time, then he shook himself and threw himself onto his knees in front of his trembling twin. “Why? Why are you fading, Elrohir? Tell me!” He was determined to find out why and stop the Elven Sickness from taking his brother away from him. “Whom are you pining for? Why are you grieving? Tell me! I must know!”
But Elrohir shook his head slowly, denying his brother his answers. “Gwanunig, I cannot tell you.”
“But you *are* fading?” Elladan shook violently and released the tears that had been building in his eyes.
“Aye, I am fading,” said Elrohir eventually, confirming his brother’s suspicion. “It started a few days ago. Nana lasted almost a year before she sailed. I will stay with you during that time. Maybe I will leave before… before I fade completely. I do not want you to witness my last hours.” Oh, he knew it was a lot for Elladan to take in, but it was best to do this now. “I will not sail for Valinor like Nana did.”
“You choose to die?” Elladan stared at Elrohir in complete shock. “Nay! I will not allow it!”
“It is not your choice, Elladan, it is mine,” said Elrohir calmly. He was taken by surprise when Elladan suddenly jumped to his feet, pulling him along as well, and then wrapped strong arms around his trembling frame. Elrohir sighed blissfully at having his twin this close, but then berated himself for feeling that way. “We still have a year, êl. That should be enough time to say good-bye.”
Elrohir wasn’t prepared to hear the keening wail -- filled with utter dread and despair -- that Elladan released. It ripped through him, broke his heart and made him return his twin’s hug. “I am so sorry, êl.”
Elladan rocked against him, forced his head onto his brother’s shoulder and Elrohir gave in, knowing the close contact would comfort Elladan. He also continued to whisper soothingly. “You will still have Ada and Glorfindel, Arwen and Erestor. You will grieve for me for some time, but the pain will fade. Ada recovered after Elros died and you are just as strong as he is.”
Elladan suddenly shook his head fiercely. “Nay, I am nothing like Ada!” He leaned back and made eye-contact with his twin. “I know Ada and Elros were close, but not as close as we are, for I won’t survive losing you. You have to stay with me, Elrohir!”
“I cannot,” whispered Elrohir softly. “I know you do not understand, but trust me; this is for the best.”
“How can it be for the best?” Aggravated, Elladan pushed Elrohir away. Glaring at his twin, he sneered, “You do not love me!”
The words caused Elrohir immense agony. /Aiya, Elladan, I love you *too* much!/
Elladan missed the pained expression on his twin’s face and continued to rave. “Why won’t you fight? Why won’t you tell me what is ailing you?” When Elrohir remained quiet, he sobered slightly, trying to suppress the insane rage that threatened to consume him. He went down on his knees again and this time he gathered his brother’s icy cold hands in his. “Don’t you know that I will follow you into the Halls of Waiting? That I will challenge Mandos to either release your soul into my care so I can take you back to Arda, or to allow me to stay at your side for all eternity?”
Elrohir’s eyes widened in shock. “Nay, Elladan, don’t ever follow me! You have to stay and support Ada when I fade!” Elladan couldn’t be serious!
Elladan sadly shook his head. “We share a bond so strong that it pulls me to your side wherever you are, gwanunig. I cannot let you go! Never!”
“You must let me go when my time comes,” said Elrohir pleadingly. “I do not want you to forfeit your life because I chose this fate.”
“How can you choose to fade?” Once more panicking, Elladan jumped to his feet and headed for the doorway. He needed to distance himself from his twin before he said or did things he may regret later. He couldn’t let his impulsiveness get the better of him! “I would let you fade! I won’t allow it!” Fleeing the room -- and his twin’s presence -- he slammed the door shut hard behind him.
The loud bang startled Elrohir and he stared at the door in disbelief. Why did Elladan’s violent reaction surprise him? He chided himself. He should have known that Elladan would throw a tantrum. It was his brother’s way of dealing with unpleasant events. “You will just have to accept it,” he whispered saddened.
“Nay, Elrohir, I won’t allow it. I will keep you here!” Despair overwhelmed Elladan as he stepped into his father’s study, wishing Elrond were here to take charge.
Suddenly his frantic movements slowed, and when he sat down behind Elrond’s desk a determined expression crept onto his face. A strange calm came over him, as he closed his eyes and focused inward. His father would know how to stop Elrohir, how to make his younger twin open up. All he had to do was to tell his father that he should hurry back home. But sending a messenger to Mirkwood took too long. He wanted a solution to his problem right now!
Focusing inward, he did something he had never attempted before; he gathered his strength and tried to reach out to his father, who had probably reached Mirkwood by now. But was he strong enough? He lacked the experience, never having farspoken with anyone before. Would Elrond hear him? Answer him?
/Ada, please, I need you. Elrohir needs you. Please tell me you hear my plea!/
But no answer came forth and it made him try harder. /Ada, please! Please hear me!/ The panic returned, as he didn’t know what to do if he failed to reach his father. /I cannot deal with this alone and I do not want to lose Elrohir. He is growing weaker, Ada! Like Nana he is fading and we must stop him!/
For one brief moment he felt his father’s presence in his mind, but a wall of darkness seemed to rise between them, stopping him from fully contacting his father. Desperately, he clawed at the armrest, making one more attempt to reach Elrond. /Ada, please!/
But his father didn’t answer him. The silence and darkness remained, driving him to utter despair. Exhausted, his eyes opened and he stared at his hands, resting idly in his lap. /I failed you, Elrohir. I cannot reach Ada./
The effort to reach Elrond had drained him and he slumped forward until his upper body rested on the desk. /I failed you… I will lose you… Aiya, we will both fade, then./ His eyes closed in fatigue as a soothing sleep claimed him.
“My Lord?” Haldir instinctively reached for Celeborn when the elder Elf unexpectedly swayed on his feet. They were inspecting the patrol that would shortly leave to check their borders when Celeborn simply collapsed into his arms. Several Galadhrim stepped forward, eager to help their Lord, but Haldir waved them away. “He needs air to breathe. Don’t crowd him.”
The sentries stepped back, eyeing Celeborn worried. They hesitated when Haldir ordered them to leave as scheduled; they preferred to stay with their Lord, but they eventually obeyed their march warden.
“My Lord? My Lord Celeborn?” Haldir had wrapped his arms around Celeborn when the elder Elf had fainted and they now gently cradled him whilst the silver-haired Elf lay on a bed of soft moss and grass. He kept his eyes trained on Celeborn’s, hoping to see awareness return to those heaven-blue eyes. “Must I fetch the Lady Galadriel?”
Celeborn struggled back to awareness through a dark haze of despair. “Elladan…”
Haldir raised an eyebrow questioningly. “Is something wrong with Elladan?” Throughout the centuries, the twins and Arwen had often visited Lothlorien and he knew that Celeborn had a soft spot for the twins, as much as Galadriel had for Arwen.
Celeborn, suddenly growing aware of the fact that he was in his guardian’s arms, made eye contact with Haldir. “Something is terribly wrong. Elladan’s despair was overwhelming. He was calling out for Elrond, but… I did not receive all of his thoughts. The little I could gather was that Elrohir was fading.”
“Fading, my Lord?” Haldir’s eyes widened. “But he is so young and...” His voice trailed off, not knowing how to comfort Celeborn. In the end, he settled for helping Celeborn back to his feet.
Celeborn sighed deeply. “I must go to Imladris.” He would contact his wife and inform Galadriel of what he had learned once they were on their way. “Haldir, assemble an escort. I am leaving at once.”
“I will accompany you personally,” said Haldir determinedly. He would ensure Celeborn’s safety.
A hesitant expression appeared in Celeborn’s ancient eyes, but in the end he nodded once. “Make haste then, for I want to leave now.”
Haldir hurried away to do Celeborn’s bidding, and as his back was turned to the elder Elf, he completely missed the look of longing in Celeborn’s misty eyes.
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