13. Make the Autumn Precious
It was in the autumn that the enchantment of old returned to Rivendell. Elrond and the greater part of the Elves had left, and the power of the great ring Vilya no longer warded the valley. Rivendell had subsided into being a land of Middle-Earth, even with elves still dwelling there. Yet briefly in the fall, the hills flared with red oaks and yellow beech and birch, and the air carried the dry, spicy smell of fallen leaves. It was easy to forget that all the brilliant beauty was doomed to fade.
Drifts of gold and russet leaves curled along the floors of the Hall of Fire, blown in through the tall windows open between the pillars. The hall was bright in the afternoon sun. Elrohir walked through the leaves briskly, his arms full of wood from a fallen tree, going up to stoke the fire that was never supposed to go out. There were so few elves left in the final days of Rivendell that he had taken to stopping by three or four times a day to tend it.
Soon, Elladan entered, carrying some scrolls cradled against his chest, and greeted Elrohir. The two had agreed to meet there at that hour to discuss the works of the day. As Elrohir tended the embers, Elladan walked the Hall of Fire slowly, looking at the walls and carved pillars. They were almost covered with war-banners, shields, swords, and every other weapon known. Elves passing through Rivendell on their way to leave Middle-Earth had placed them there. It was said there was no need for such weapons over Sea, in peaceful Eressëa.
Elladan paused before the weapon-hung walls. Should he leave his sword? He decided not to. They had been through much together, he and his blade, although he had not taken it up as anything more than a proud ornament for fifty years. And, Elladan thought, he and Elrohir did not go over Sea to meet peace unbroken. They brought scrolls with news of sorrow; the last writings of their sister Arwen. One of the scrolls Elladan carried now, wrapped in white silk with black wax-seals, was for their father, Elrond. The other, heavier scroll was for their mother.
Would Arwen’s final words sadden their mother more than the pass her sons had come to, breaking the laws of the Elves as each other’s lovers? Had their kinswoman Galadriel kept her silence? She had been cool and neutral when last they saw her. In the West, they expected to face the judgement of the Valar, the gods who were but a name to them and yet had been beheld by the eldest High Elves. There was no way of knowing what their will would be in the matter of the twin-born lovers.
Elladan was calm as he thought on these things. He had attempted no scrying or forseeing in this matter. He and Elrohir had long agreed that they might endure any consequence of their willing incest, except to be parted. And there had been other things to think about. In the years since they had become the Lords of Rivendell they had been busy with much. They it was who ordered the Last Homely House, at need aiding dealings between the increasingly strange and distant Elves and mortal Men. Of late, they had taken to doing daily tasks, because not many hands were left to do them.
“Kindled at last,” said Elrohir, brushing his hands clean and looking with satisfaction at the fire.
“Once we pack these scrolls, what tasks remain for you? My works are finished,” said Elladan.
“Naught except helping tend the horses at sunset, and putting on brave faces at evensong,” Elrohir said. “Which will go all night, I think. Nobody will want to sleep, when we all ride out at dawn tomorrow, to go over Sea.”
“You mean we have some time free?” said Elladan. “What shall we do, then? It is sad to be at the very end. I have taken all my last walks, said goodbye to all our home.”
“Yes, I feel foolish to do it all again,” said Elrohir. “Last afternoon I went about and looked at all our works here; the bridge we had widened, the new road to Mirkwood, the dwellings of Men along our western border. Did I tell you that I saw the mortal Brandir? We traded words of eternal memory and fellowship yesterday, and then I ran across him this morning, too. My, we were clumsy, saying farewell again.” Elrohir looked around at the door, then out the open arched windows, where more leaves were blowing in from the sheltering trees. Nobody was nigh.
Striding through the leaves on the tiled floor, he gestured to Elladan to join him before the most westward window. Very swiftly, they kissed once, standing in the spot where the elves of Rivendell had by tradition stood to plight their troth.
“We have time…” said Elladan.
Elrohir understood immediately what he meant. “Your room? Or mine?”
Elladan was grave. “I would not go to my chamber again. It is too sad for me to look at my work-table, after the delight of having you upon it last night. Your room, if we might.” He handed one of the scrolls to Elrohir, and they left not by the doors, but by one of the windows, low to the ground. They only saw one or two other Elves on the path that had once been busy, going to the building where Elrohir still had his bed-chamber.
Neither of them had felt comfortable taking over Elrond’s austere rooms when he had left. They had flattered Celeborn when he came to join them in Rivendell by offering him the suite. However, Elrohir had quietly had a large mirror that hung there taken to his own west-facing room. The brothers entered to find the mirror reflecting the slanting sun and the creamy linens of Elrohir’s bed.
Elrohir packed the scrolls into their travel-bags, carefully, among the delicate items. One last time, they read the simple message that Arwen had sent to them, beseeching them to take these messages to their parents in the West, declaring her love and sorrow. She had had the least to say to them, at the end. But they had seen her happiness through the long years, through visits to her and in biding with her and Aragorn at Lake Evendim in the North.
When the last message was folded away, they sat upon the bed. The straw mattress had been crushed hard from bearing their shared weight many nights. Elladan looked up. He could see them both clearly in the mirror from the bed. “So here we are, at the very last,” he sighed.
“And we will seize what we can!” said Elrohir. “This hour is a gift. I had not thought that we would be free to touch one another again.”
Elladan said, “Of course, the question is; what can we do after last night? We left nothing undone!” They both began to laugh.
“That is right. Did I not say it was a good thing we did not ride out the next day, and that I would have a day to recover from your deep use of me?” said Elrohir.
“If we gain some reprieve in the West, I hear that all heals and springs fresh quickly. Something to look forward to,” said Elladan, with a sly smile. He cracked the knuckles of one hand.
With the haste of eagerness, they disrobed and embraced in front of the mirror. The twins knew how their bodies had become more different over time. Elrohir was more tanned by the bright sun of the Fourth Age, having spent much time that summer beating the bounds and tending horses. His hair was a shade or two less dark than it had been, with copper-tinged streaks. Elladan’s limbs were a touch lighter of muscle, since he had put by the sword for works of lore. Every mark of time and faded scar on their bodies was clear in the light that flooded the room. For all these intimate differences, others still mistook one twin for the other. Elladan looked into the mirror, saving their togetherness in memory, saddened at the sight that was so dear to him. “Is it hard-hearted of me to regret that once we go over Sea, we will lose the freedom we have had more than a hundred years? You know I miss our father. But, still…”
Elrohir finished the thought. “Still, it has been good to be the Lords of Rivendell in our own right, not eternally the sons of Elrond.”
“And to ride out without weapon or guard. Middle-Earth is grown very fair. Nonetheless, I am ready to part from it. The fading I have seen…” He lightly touched the sun-worn skin around Elrohir’s eyes, and then kissed him.
Elrohir folded his brother to him. “I do not think you cold to miss what we have had these past years. I fear to lose you; but I trust to mercy. You yourself spoke of reprieve moments ago, and how we might enjoy ourselves if it came to us. Let us take a taste of that now!”
They knelt on the hard-tamped mattress and its crumpled linens. Following five hundred years of closeting their passion when they were in the halls of Rivendell, even after their time of greater ease, it still seemed a luxury to be able to lie together in a bed.
“After last night, I owe you your pleasure first,” said Elrohir. Elladan sat up, with Elrohir lying between his legs, and looked into the mirror as Elrohir began to use his mouth to arouse Elladan. He watched and felt as Elrohir first nudged and nibbled at his scrotum, scarcely touching his shaft even as it was teased into blood-filled heat. Elladan leaned back, closing his eyes and bracing himself on his arms. The first touch of Elrohir’s tongue on the tip of his member made him arch his whole body forward. Elrohir did not deny him, and took Elladan’s cock in his mouth without delay.
When they had first done this, so long ago, Elladan had felt like to die from mingled shame and lust. At times, especially after their kinswoman had confronted them, their passion had been a dark revel in their incest. Now their shared determination and labours had drawn them as close as might be. They were never more aware of the brilliance of existence and the fullness of love than when they touched. Elladan breathed deeply, harnessing the energy of desire that pulsed through him.
When he felt his cock was close to bursting, he reached down and stopped Elrohir with a touch. “Wait. Please. I want to feel this way as long as I might. Let me bring you close, as well.” They slid along the linen to exchange places, Elrohir settling where the sheets were still warm from where Elladan’s body had been.
It was no surprise that Elrohir’s cock was already hard. Elladan slowly drew the length of it into his own mouth, savoring the taste, the first luxurious touch of its skin before it became slick from saliva. He heard Elrohir moan above him, and Elrohir’s hand rested lightly on the back of his head. Elladan continued to work slowly, taking the full length of it every time. Elrohir’s cock became even harder, contracting slightly. When Elladan felt Elrohir’s thighs tense like stone, he pulled away and sat up, enjoying the slithering linen bedding along his own hardness.
He smiled at the sight before him; the one he loved most caught at the moment most fair, flushed with arousal, grey eyes flashing, dark braid half-undone. “I wish you had never found the scroll that told you all the arts of delay for the love of the body!” said Elrohir.
Elladan’s smile was all contentment. “I wish I had found it long ago, instead of as we packed the final books of the library. Is it so onerous? I am glad to give some art of love back to you, who have given me so much.”
Elladan knelt up. They took each other’s hands and breathed deeply. Only their palms were touching, and only lightly, yet both closed their eyes to better feel the hot seal of energy that bound them. After a moment, Elladan asked, “Are you with me?”
“Always,” said Elrohir. He knelt up to match Elladan’s posture, and they kissed, pressing their bodies together, sweating slightly from arousal unfulfilled and from the sun-heated room. With deliberate art, they echoed each other’s gestures; the stroke of a hand down a back, a shift of legs and hips to press their shafts side by side, a searching kiss. What one began, the other continued, fluid and unbroken, the lightest of touches burning with life.
When even their breathing was in the same rhythm, Elrohir sat back and reached for Elladan. Elladan slipped his legs over and under his brother’s; they sat interlocked, very close and face to face. In a gesture of elvish care, they stroked each other’s cheeks. Elrohir looked into the mirror again, and then back at his twin. “Shall we?” he asked.
“Now, yes,” said Elladan. Very slowly, supported by leaning on their left arms, each moved his right hand down the other’s neck, along the muscles of the chest, along the waist and side. Then each clasped the other’s cock and began to stroke. They were so close, and at such an angle, that it almost seemed as if they might be grasping themselves. To each, his brother’s touch was as knowing as if it was his own hand self-caressing, with the extra lure of the touch of another.
Elladan realized that he had closed his eyes without meaning to and opened them again to look upon his twin; and their gazes had a searing spirit-meeting. Elrohir leaned to meet him, and Elladan moved forward into his kiss. They shifted so that they were now leaning with their left arms wrapped around each other, still working each other to the peak with their right hands.
One of them gasped, “My brother. With me?”
They could not remember later which one had asked, nor which one had cried out “Yes!” For they came together, in a merging, draining blaze.
The two stayed supporting each other: heads bowed together, embracing with a hard and fierce grasp, their skin still hot. They remained until their pulses had slowed and their over-wrought hardness had faded. Elladan was the first to speak. “Elrohir?”
“My left leg is going numb. Can we move?” The pair untwined, and Elladan shook his leg out over the edge of the bed until the sickly prickling sensation was gone. Elrohir retrieved a ragged linen towel from the depths of the sheets, and they cleaned themselves with swift swipes.
Elrohir leaned over and rummaged in the nearest bag. “An apple?”
“Thank you.” Elladan sat upright to bite into his apple, letting his legs cross over Elrohir, who had lain back down to eat. When Elladan was finished, he looked at Elrohir, still munching. “How can you swallow lying down?” asked Elladan.
“Practice,” said Elrohir, “much practice.”
Elladan hit his brother lightly across the arm, and the two laughed together for a moment. The silence that fell next as they looked at each other was too profound to break. Elladan lay down again and the two embraced face to face, feeling each other breathe. The room was warm enough that they were comfortable unclad. Slowly, the westering sunlight drew across the floor, becoming more rich and golden as it drew nearer to setting. Both watched the sun’s rays for a time, until they could not deny the passing of time in the change of the light. “We need to rise and go,” said Elrohir.
“I know,” Elladan said.
Neither of them moved.
“You may get up first,” said Elladan, starting to smile again.
“You are worse than when you delay your arising in winter,” Elrohir chuckled, sitting up. Their rising brought them naked in front of the mirror again, and they indulged in a final embrace. Then Elladan bent over and tossed Elrohir his tunic. As they dressed, they turned to their duties once again, speaking of horses, and packing, and reassuring the elves of Rivendell before the journey tomorrow.
“If they are sodden with sentiment for Middle-Earth, tell them some tales that will make them glad to turn about and go. The fall of Eregion, the siege of Rivendell, the Long Winter,” said Elrohir
“At least I was there for the Long Winter. If Celeborn starts hesitating again, you speak with him. He is fonder of you,” said Elladan.
Elrohir shook his head. “I cannot believe he is abandoning his axe in the Hall of Fire.”
“It is his fourth one.”
Speaking together, in the unending conversation they had found agreeable for hundreds of years, they left the room. The sun touched the tree-girthed horizon and the valley’s brilliance began to soften in the falling dusk.
That night, every elf remaining in Rivendell came to the Hall of Fire. They clustered close around the hearth against the empty space of the hall, against the absences spoken by the hanging swords. The elves told tales and sang songs through the night. Elrohir leavened the conversation with some merriment. Elladan reminded them of the dolor and sorrows of Middle-Earth, and brought out alluring lore of the isle over Sea. The two encouraged others to share their stories. The brothers sat by different people for most of the night, speaking to all there; but as the night paled to dawn, they were side by side. In that sad hour, no-one thought anything of it that they sat close enough to touch each other, a hand on an arm.
* This story takes place on September 21, 1541 (Shire Reckoning) or 118 (Fourth Age), 119 years after Aragorn became king and in the autumn of the year Aragorn died.
* In white silk with black wax-seals – In Tolkien’s unused epilogue to ROTK, scrolls sent by the court of Gondor were wrapped in white silk with black seals.
* At Lake Evendim – Again in the unused epilogue, 17 years after the end of ROTK, Aragorn went North, to Lake Evendim near the Shire, and lived there for a while. Sam, who told his children that the King was coming, mentioned, “And there will be Elladan and Elrohir, who still live in Rivendell.” Sam also mentions that Elves are grown elusive and difficult to talk to. The two versions of this epilogue, which focuses on Sam talking to his children and providing all kinds of useful post-ROTK information about the Fellowship, is in the book The End of the Third Age, History of Middle-Earth, ed. Christopher Tolkien.
* When Celeborn came – According to the Tale of Years appendix in ROTK, Celeborn tired of Lórien after Galadriel left and went to live in Rivendell.
* The sun-worn skin – This description of physical change is still canon. In several character descriptions of Elves (notably Cirdan at the end of ROTK and Gwindor in The Silmarillion) Tolkien expressed his idea that Elves’ physical forms in fact change over time or due to duress. The idea is expressed that the very slow change, or “fading,” caused by time increased after the end of the Third Age.
* Title source – Poem The Summons, J.W. Howe, quoted in part below:
“I expect you in September
With the glory of the year:
You shall make the autumn precious,
And the death of summer dear;
You shall help the days that shorten
With a lengthening of delight…
We, communing with twin counsel,
Each to other all in all.”
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.