Tales of the North
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Homecoming: 1. Homecoming
December 2980, Rivendell
Finally, a moment to myself, Elrohir thought as he sat down and opened a book. He and Elladan had only come home from a patrol the previous day, and they would have to ride out again in a few days to meet Arwen as she returned from Lothlórien, but for now his time was his own.
He had barely finished the first page when the door opened. With an annoyed glare at the interruption, Elrohir looked over at Elladan standing in the door opening.
"Arwen is almost here," his brother announced.
"What? And no one thought to tell us?" Elrohir's irritation at being disturbed transferred seamlessly to whoever had been at fault. "When? How long..."
"She and her escort have already started the descent into the valley. The messenger only arrived now, barely ahead of them."
For a moment, Elrohir wondered at their sister's haste, for lately it had seemed as if she preferred Lothlórien over Imladris, but then he realised that she had ample reason to want to speak to their father. No doubt she hoped to catch Father unawares, or at least ill-prepared, for she could not be unaware that Elrond was less than pleased with her troth-plighting herself to Estel.
"Let her speak to Father first," Elladan said as Elrohir stood up.
"No," his brother said, "It will be better if we do not interfere."
Worst of it, Elrohir thought, Elladan was likely right, and there was naught either of them could do to ease the confrontation. He glared at his brother even so – even if Elladan was right, he did not have to like it – but gave in with a sigh he hoped was not over-dramatic. Elladan ignored both the sigh and the glare, and walked over to the other chair to sit down as well.
After a while Elrohir stood up again and stepped out onto the balcony. He was just in time to see Arwen turn into the path to the stables, and while she did glance up briefly, she did not further acknowledge him, but urged her horse onward. Despite her hurry, from how long it took until she re-emerged to walk towards the house, she had taken the time to unsaddle and brush down her horse at least. Now that it comes to it, she will rather do that than speak to Father, an uncharitable part of his mind observed.
Elladan had come outside as well, and now urged him back into the room. "She must do this herself," his brother said. "We cannot fight her battle for her."
At that, Elrohir said nothing, though he now wondered where his brother stood. Elladan had said very little in the months since Estel's return from Gondor, and it struck Elrohir that he might have been wrong to assume his brother shared his position.
Rather than sit inside for much longer, they had given in to their restlessness, and headed outside. Elrohir would rather have gone to the practice field and worked off his frustration there, but Elladan had not been so inclined. So now they sat on a bench in the garden, waiting in silence.
Suddenly, the angry tension that they had both felt from their father's rooms stopped and Elrohir realised Elrond must have finished speaking to Arwen. Elladan felt it too, but when Elrohir wanted to head back inside, Elladan remained seated. When Elrohir started to get up, Elladan again raised a hand to stop him.
"Give them both some time," his brother added.
It was not all that long after that they heard footsteps nearby.
Arwen, Elladan observed.
Yes, Elrohir replied, just as the footsteps stopped and retreated again.
Now Elladan stood up, but he did no more than start pacing up and down.
Arwen's footsteps wandered closer again, and as Elrohir watched, she came up the path to where they were sitting. At first, she did not notice them, and as Elrohir saw her face, he felt a twinge of sorrow stir him. He wondered whether he had perhaps been wrong in his condemnation of the betrothal. But no, true as their love appeared, naught but grief could come of it, and he hardened his heart again against his sister and his foster-brother.
"Oh!" Arwen looked at them, startled. "I... I did not see you."
Elladan moved forward, and without saying anything further, Arwen fell into his arms, laying her head upon his shoulder as he held her. As Elrohir rose as well, she moved away from the shelter of Elladan's arms, and stood alone.
"Father might as well have demanded a Silmaril in exchange for my hand," she exclaimed, her tone bitter. Elrond had told her the conditions he had placed upon the betrothal ever becoming marriage then.
Elrohir wondered, as he had done when he had first heard the conditions from Aragorn, why their father had set them. "It would have been kinder had he forbidden it outright," he said, then snapped his mouth shut as Elladan urged him to silence. He had not intended to speak out loud.
Arwen met his gaze. "You agree with Father?"
"Yes," he replied, looking away despite himself. "Father loves you, Arwen, and would not lose you to such uncertain fate."
She interrupted him before he could say more. "Estel loves me also, and I him. You know him well enough, brother. Are you saying Estel is not a worthy man, that he will not be a worthy husband to me?"
Elrohir hesitated as he met his sister's eyes again. "He is a worthy man, Arwen, but he is exactly that. Man, mortal, and Father would not lose you to mortality." He stopped himself from looking away again as he added, "Nor would I."
"Lose me? Have you yourself then made your Choice already?" she asked sharply, and now he did look away from her searching gaze.
To Choose his fate... He had not, not yet, and he hoped he would not have to for a long time. In truth he did not know which it would be, if it were not that he would choose the same as Elladan, no matter what. It had been a long time since they had even discussed it, and though he would not admit it to either Arwen or Elladan, he now knew that one part of his resentment of her betrothal was that it forced him to consider his own situation again.
He looked at her again as she stood before him, proud, certain, almost defiant. Her certainty made him feel as if there was something wrong about his own doubts.
"You may fancy yourself as Lúthien, and Estel as Beren, sister; but I ask you, is he not rather Túrin, to bring grief and strife to those who sheltered and protected him?"
Arwen said nothing, but her scornful look was enough to make Elrohir fall silent. Incongruously, he thought that, though her hair was dark as night, and their grandmother's as golden as the Sun, Arwen looked a lot like Galadriel right then. It was not a pleasant comparison, not when he was at the receiving end of her ire.
While he still stood in silence, trying to find a way to apologise, Arwen gave him a final disgusted look before turning around and leaving.
Could you be more of a fool if you tried? Elladan added and followed Arwen.
Elrohir could only stand and look after his siblings as they disappeared from view. But... he was right, was he not? Was he not?
A/N: written in response to the April 2010 Birthday Challenge, for Larner who requested a story about a quarrel between any two characters who ordinarily get along well.
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