Little boys, grief and water
Elladan and Legolas rode up slowly. Elrond was waiting, his dark blue robes billowing in the wind. Elladan wordlessly dismounted.
“ Glórhen?” Elrond asked softly, “ Elrohir told me, but made me swear not to tell the family yet.”
Elladan nodded. Arwen ran out, spying Glórhen’s horse.
“ Where…” she trailed off, seeing her brother’s and Legolas’ grim faces.
Elladan had only looked like this one time before: when Mother was found. Arwen shook her head in disbelief. Elrond reached her before she collapsed sobbing. He pulled her close, smoothing her dark waves.
“ Shh, nîn Undomiel,” Elrond whispered.
Glorfindel and Mithrandir galloped up beside the other horses. They were returning from Dol Guldur.
“ Did Glórhen already go inside?” Glorfindel asked, dismounting.
Elladan opened his mouth, and then looked helplessly back at his father. Glorfindel then took notice of Arwen’s tears and the wrapped bundle on Glórhen’s horse’s back. Glorfindel opened it slightly, and then moved away, shock deep in his eyes. 2 gold eyes stared lifelessly at him.
Êlenrana approached, carrying Estel. She put the boy in Elladan’s arms, moving towards her husband.
“ He is dead. He died trying to save Aragorn. Elrohir told us me that he died just moments before you two arrived,” Êlenrana said softly.
Tears shone in Glorfindel’s eyes. She engulfed her husband in a hug, pulling his head to her shoulder. Mithrandir watched the other child approach. The teen boy glanced over at the unwrapped face and then again at it. His eyes looked at his father in disbelief.
“ You sent him off and he was killed? How could you?”
Glorfindel ignored his younger son’s harsh words, pulling the boy close. Legolas shifted on his feet, not knowing what to do.
Elrond looked down at Estel. His beautiful cat-like eyes glanced up as he smiled happily. Arwen glanced at the child.
“ He died for that,” Arwen snapped.
“ Estel is the only hope left for the Edain. Do not shun him. Do you know the future like Manwë?” Elrond’s voice softened, “ Eru’s hand sometimes moves in ways we do not like, but it is always for the best.”
Arwen nodded mutely, still glaring at the little boy. He smiled up at her, and then the smile faded. He leaned more into Elrond, feeling the hate in her glare.
“ Go to your grandmother, Undomiel. She wished to speak to you.”
Arwen rushed off, glad to be away from the child. Elrond looked at Elladan. No emotion broke through the stone mask. Elladan glanced at his father emotionlessly before walking away with the horses’ bridles beside Legolas. Elrond looked at Estel.
*You best be worth all the grief you have brought.
Elrohir walked Imladris with his head down. Elrond noted his son’s black mourning clothes with a frown. It had been over a month. All 3 of his children had taken the death hard. Estel ran down the hall, laughing. Glorfindel’s form peered out of the door Estel ran from.
“ ‘Lrohear,” Estel giggled.
Elrohir’s face softened.
“ Hey, Estel.”
“ Hey, Unca ‘Lrohear,” Estel grinned a toothy smile.
Elrond watched it all with a smile. Estel was their joy here in Imladris. It had been so long since such a young child had been around. Estel reminded him vastly of Elrohir at that age. Elrond’s thoughts turned to his other 2 children. Arwen had left Imladris as soon as she could for Lorien. She found it too painful to face the memories every day. The one he worried most about was Elladan. Not one tear had the eldest shed, or one word spoken of the deceased. Elladan had pulled back into himself, just as he had when Celebrian was found.
Elrond’s head jerked. Elrohir and Estel were standing in front of him.
“ Deep in thought, Ada?” Elrohir asked with a smile.
Elrond returned the smile with a sheepish nod. Êlenrana entered.
“ Nana ‘Lrana,” Estel fell into her arms.
He planted a kiss on her cheek.
“ ‘Glofinel played tickles with me. I don’t like that game.”
“ Oh really?” Êlenrana watched the boy burst into giggled as she tickled him.
Êlenrana and Glorfindel were slowly losing the immense grief with the coming of Estel. He did not replace the son, but helped them take their minds off the one they had lost. Imuialion still had his moments and it was hard for the entire family. Deaths of Elves never came as a light thing. It was not expected.
“ How are you doing?” Elrond asked Elrohir as Êlenrana moved away with Estel.
“ Sometimes I still feel as if it is my fault since I did not turn fast enough, but, I know,” Elrohir held up a hand, knowing his father was about to speak, “ I know I could not predict what would happen.”
“ Then why do you still mourn?”
Elrohir looked at them sheepishly.
“ I have not given the servants my wash yet and this was all I had that was clean.”
Elrond chuckled. Elrohir’s face turned serious.
“ But, Ada, I worry about Elladan. Legolas says he is not taking it well and Legolas did travel with Elladan back to Mirkwood and then here. Elladan spent more time than I with the Dúnedain. He was the leader, Ada, and he lost 2, one being a very close friend,” Elrohir said softly.
Elrond nodded. Elladan had known Arathorn since the Edain was young.
“ I will speak to him. I have been meaning too. I believe he has not mourned for his mother yet either,” Elrond replied.
Elrohir stopped his father.
“ And take Estel also. Elladan refuses to acknowledge the boy and Estel tries so hard to get his approval.”
Elrond nodded, turning in search of his son.
Elladan threw rocks at the river, berating himself again for letting the group put their guard down before sunlight fully encased them.
“ Glórhen and Arathorn did not have to die if I had not been so foolish,” he muttered, throwing one even harder.
It skipped 7 times, hitting a rock on the other side and plopping into the water. A large rock plopped in by his feet.
A little dark head was bent beside him, the gray tunic that had once been his, falling into the water. Little dark ringlets fell over the boy’s shoulders. Elladan almost stiffened. Estel. The child who had no father because of him. Just as Glorfindel lost Glórhen.
“ ’Laddan, how you do that?” Estel asked, “ The rocks go-”
Elladan caught the boy as he splashed, almost falling under water. Estel looked shocked, then gleeful.
“ Again, Unca ‘Laddan, ‘Gain,” Estel clapped his hands.
“ Why do you not go find Uncle Elrohir, Estel?” Elladan asked, setting him down on the dry ground.
“ Why don’t you like me?”
Elladan just stared at the sullen little boy. Estel’s dark pout reminded him of Arathorn as a child.
* Why don’t I like him?
“ Go to Ada, Estel.”
Estel stamped his foot angrily, his sullenness increasing. Elladan sent him a warning look.
“ No, you are a mean man, Unca ‘Laddan and its not nice.”
Elrond watched from the shadows.
* Please let Estel say the right things
Elladan just stared at the boy for a second. He was being cruel to the boy. All the child wanted to do was play. He sighed.
“ Find a smooth stone like this, Estel,” Elladan held up one in his hand.
Estel nodded, a grin on his face as his hands groped underwater. Estel leaned over too far. Elladan caught the little boy, but the forward momentum sent them both into the river. Estel clapped his hands, splashing happily.
“ You’re all wet,” Estel giggled.
“ Nana Êlenrana will have your hide,” Elladan ruffled the boy’s wet curls.
“ Ada will ‘ave your ‘ide too,” Estel turned his head up.
Elrond smiled at the sight of his eldest sitting in the river, the water barely reaching his chest, while it reached Estel’s chin. Elladan swung up the boy onto his shoulders.
“ Can we go swimming ‘gain tomorrow, Unca ’Laddan?”
Elrond held his breath.
“ If Nana Êlenrana says you can.”
Elrohir and Legolas smiled at the sight of Elladan soaking wet as he carried Estel on his shoulders. Êlenrana rushed up.
“ Estel, why are you wet?” she demanded, looking up.
“ I went swimming,” Estel giggled.
“ And you too, Elladan?” Êlenrana asked.
“ He decided her wanted to learn to skip rocks and he bent over a little too far. We both kinda fell in,” Elladan shrugged, “ I’ll get him to dinner dry, Êlenrana.”
“ Go ahead and try, Elladan, but I bet you will be late.”
Elladan glanced up at Estel.
“ Come on, Estel. Let’s go get ready for dinner.”
And the 2 were early.