Part 6 - Shadow Dancing
Elladan couldn’t sit quietly during today’s lessons. He shifted impatiently on his chair, wishing Erestor would finally finish, but instead he was now giving them a new assignment! Sighing, he glared at his dark-haired tutor. “You are making us work too hard,” he muttered beneath his breath, but he knew the opposite was true.
A few weeks ago Elrond had briefly taken over teaching Erestor’s classes and they had been swamped with work. Until that moment they hadn’t realized how easy Erestor was when it came down to homework.
“He is not,” said Elrohir, coming to Erestor’s defense before the dark-haired tutor had a chance to address Elladan. “You just cannot wait until Glorfindel appears to take you for your first riding lesson!”
They were thirty-five years old now, young Elflings. Glorfindel had finally decided it was time to start their riding lessons, and Elladan would go first. Elrohir hadn’t minded. He liked to study with Erestor, whose patience was endless, and the elder Elf was always willing to explain matters when he didn’t understand.
Erestor shook his head. “Elladan, I am not changing the assignment just because you have a riding lesson.” He could tell he was losing Elladan to Glorfindel. The blond had become Elladan’s hero and the youngster wanted to spend as much time as possible with the Elda.
Erestor had been relatively happy since his arrival in Imladris. The time he had enjoyed most was when the twins had been babies and toddlers. Now the time had come to let them go. They would lose interest in his lessons and hurry to meet with Glorfindel who would take them riding.
Elrohir’s timed tone alerted Erestor. Was something wrong with the younger twin? Looking at Elrohir he saw concern in the half-Elf’s eyes, which had turned darker over the years. “Aye, Elrohir?”
“Are you sad?”
Erestor swallowed; that was Elrohir, direct and caring. “Maybe a little,” admitted Erestor. “But we should continue today’s lessons.”
“Ah, lessons!” Glorfindel entered, smiling cheerfully. “I will give you your first riding lesson, Elladan!” He extended his hand and waited for the youngster to take it.
But Elladan first looked at Erestor for permission to leave the study.
Erestor sighed wearily. “You may go, but do not forget to hand in your assignment in time.” He ignored Glorfindel’s irritated glance, which was now directed at him. Unfortunately the tension between them had never left, and although they tolerated each other, they never sought out the other’s company. Deep in his heart Erestor had hoped things would have developed differently; he would have liked to have had a friend. No matter how much he loved the twins, they were children. “And we will continue to study this scroll.” Seeing Elrohir’s smile, his heart warmed slightly. The youngest twin had never stopped loving him, unlike Elladan.
“Come with me, then.” Glorfindel wrapped his fingers around Elladan’s, who was actually already pulling him along. “Wait for me!”
Elladan giggled, dragging Glorfindel toward the stables. “Can I ride Asfaloth?”
Glorfindel laughed warmly. “Asfaloth is too big for you, Elfling!” He took control and guided Elladan to one of the smaller mares. “Gell is mellow and perfect for you to start with.”
Disappointedly, Elladan stared at the grey mare, who now raised her head to look at him. “But I want to ride Asfaloth…” The big, white stallion was a magnificent creature and he had hoped Glorfindel would let him ride him.
“Maybe when you are older and more experienced. Now watch carefully.” Glorfindel placed a saddle on Gell’s back and fastened the girth. “In time you will saddle her yourself.” Looking at Elladan, he found that the Elfling was still pouting. “Maybe I will let you sit in front of me later? Then you still get to ride Asfaloth.” Elladan instantly smiled at him, happily. Glorfindel complimented himself on solving a potential dangerous situation. Elladan had quite a temper and had been known to throw tantrums which only Elrohir could soothe.
Glorfindel lifted Elladan and placed him on Gell’s back. He placed the reins in the Elfling’s hands and said, “Let Gell lead you. She knows what to do. Let her teach you.” Elladan’s smile faded once more, and Glorfindel quickly mounted Asfaloth, telling Elladan to follow him.
Elladan began to cheer up again now that he was finally riding a horse. Looking up at the window to his father’s study, he caught Elrond’s image and proudly waved at him. Elrond waved back and Elladan straightened his shoulders, proud that he was the first to ride a horse. Oh, he would tease Elrohir mercilessly later!
Elrohir glanced at Erestor, who was lost in his reading. They had studied Tengwar for the last two hours and Erestor had allowed him to take a break. The truth was that he didn’t need a break. What he wanted was to spend more time with the dark-haired Elf, so he sat down at Erestor’s feet, rested his elbows on his knees and cupped his chin in his palms, staring at the elder Elf. /One… two… three… And yes, he looks up!/ Erestor never managed to endure his stare for longer than a three-count.
“Is something wrong, pen-neth?” Erestor frowned worriedly. Why was Elrohir looking at him like that?
“I miss Elladan,” said Elrohir, honestly. “I miss having him close. Now I cannot keep an eye on him.”
Erestor sighed worriedly. “You will often be apart in the future, pen-neth.” He disliked seeing Elrohir distressed. “It is part of growing up. When you reach your majority you will both go separate ways.” He cursed privately, seeing tears appear in the large eyes. “Oh, I am sorry, Elrohir, I did not want to upset you.” He felt helpless, seeing tears flow down the Elfling’s face. “Please do not cry.”
“But I miss him!” Elrohir now sobbed in earnest, wrapping his arms around his waist and rocking slowly. Usually Elladan would soothe him, but his twin was out riding with Glorfindel. “He deserted me! Elladan does not love me anymore! He wants to spend time with Glorfindel instead of me!”
“Aiya, pen-neth, Elladan still loves you. You are his brother; he will always love you. But he needs some time alone as well.” His hands itched to wrap Elrohir in a tight hug, but the half-Elf was too old now and he was afraid to reach out; still scared to get hurt again.
“Gwador?” Elrohir wrapped his arms around Erestor’s knees. “Why does my heart hurt?”
Erestor tightly held onto his book. He wanted to reach out so badly, but couldn’t. His fears were keeping him back. “Would you like to go back to studying? It will distract you.” Seeing Elrohir’s wet face, he added, “And maybe the pain in your heart will lessen slightly.”
Elrohir squeezed against Erestor’s knees, wishing his tutor would bury him in a hug like his father always did. But the dark-haired Elf didn’t move. Dejectedly, he nodded. “Aye, maybe it will help.”
Erestor’s heart felt heavy, guiding Elrohir back to the desk. They sat down, he uncovered the scroll they had been studying, and told Elrohir to read aloud. The Elfling’s voice was raw with sadness and Erestor sat on his hands; it was the only way to refrain from reaching out to Elrohir. /Glorfindel, bring Elladan back quickly. I cannot bear to see Elrohir in this much pain./ He could only hope Elladan felt sad at being separated as well and would hurry home.
Hours later, Elrohir had curled up on his bed, hiding beneath the sheets and crying his heart out. Glorfindel and Elladan hadn’t returned in time for dinner and now he felt abandoned. Elladan had forgotten about him! He had been right earlier; his brother no longer loved him! Erestor had tried to convince him otherwise, but his tutor was wrong; Elladan didn’t want to be close to him any more!
His frame shook, crying even harder. Why didn’t Ada or Nana hear him? They were his parents and supposed to know he was hurting! Why weren’t they here with him? Consoling him? Releasing a strangled choke, he angrily wiped his eyes, but the tears continued to flow.
Erestor’s voice took him aback and, surprised, he stopped crying. Feeling tense, he pulled down the sheets and peeked at his tutor. What was Erestor doing here? “Gwa…dor?” he stuttered, sobbingly. Instinctively, he opened his arms, begging Erestor to hold him close.
Erestor sighed and gave in. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, he enfolded the Elfling in his arms and allowed Elrohir to snuggle up to him, constantly suppressing the shivers that threatened to shake his body. It had been years since he had held Elrohir this intimately and he wasn’t sure just what he was feeling. There were so many emotions rushing through him that his eyes began to swim as well.
“Hush now, pen-neth. Elladan will be back shortly.” Erestor rocked Elrohir gently, humming softly. He let Elrohir cling to him for long moments and eventually the sobs began to fade. Intent on cheering the youngster up, he whispered, “There is a bunny in your room.”
Elrohir, puzzled, looked at his tutor. “A bunny?” Scanning the room with his eyes, his brow furrowed. “There is no…” His eyes widened, seeing a bunny made of shadows projected on his wall. Pleased, he stared wildly at Erestor, who was using his hands to project the form onto the wall. “More! More!”
Erestor smiled, relieved that the sadness was leaving Elrohir’s features. Next was a wolf and then a goat. Elrohir was now applauding him, still demanding more. Suddenly, he heard movement behind him; Elladan had returned and now sat cross-legged on his bed, watching Elrohir intently.
“Now that Elladan is back I can leave,” said Erestor, smiling warmly. Elrohir reluctantly released his hand. “Lie down and try to sleep.” He tucked the youngster in, making sure he was warm. Soundlessly, he left the room, knowing the twins wanted to talk.
Elladan had felt guilty, realizing Glorfindel and he had lost track of time when the blond had finally allowed him onto Asfaloth’s back. He had felt so proud in the Elda’s arms, tightly holding on to the stallion’s mane, that he had completely forgotten about his twin. Later, guilt had set in for leaving Elrohir alone that long. But seeing the dark-haired Elf at Elrohir’s side, distracting him and making him laugh, he had felt grateful that their father had comforted him.
Now that Elrond was gone, he hesitantly addressed his twin. “Elrohir? I am sorry… I did not realize it was that late and Glorfindel…” Unable to finish, he left his bed and walked over to Elrohir’s, sneaking into it.
Elrohir opened his arms, and by doing that, he showed his twin that he needed him close. “I do not like it when you are gone. I want you close.” His tears had dried when Erestor had entertained him with the shadows dancing on the wall, but now they returned.
Elladan cringed, seeing the tears in his brother’s eyes. “I won’t leave you alone again. The next time I will make sure Glorfindel will take us out riding together.”
Elrohir nodded, thankfully, and then pulled Elladan closer. His brother’s arms tightly enfolded him and he finally felt safe enough to go to sleep. His last thought however, was for Erestor. /Thank you for comforting me, gwador. And I love you too./
Gwador - trusted friend.
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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