5. A Beautiful Thing
Although Elladan and Elrohir had returned to Rivendell from the wild in the midst of a feast, there had been little rest and no revel for them. They had both been galled to find that their father would wait until after the feast to speak with them beyond a fond greeting. At least Aragorn had given their news of the wilds its due. Their endless errantry and long absences, which kept Rivendell a refuge and not a prison hemmed by enemies, lessened their power in their home. The irony of it was bitter to him more than to Elrohir. But this time, even Elrohir had been annoyed and saddened. “Sometimes the little things mean the most,” he had said, and Elladan had been aggrieved all the more.
The next day, at the Council of Elrond, Elladan read the tensions among the mingled people there, understanding why his father had chosen diplomacy in the great halls over his sons. But politicing was set aside for wonder when the Halfling, Frodo, took out the One Ring. When Elladan saw it, his face betrayed none of the hope that struck him for a moment. It had not been difficult to be discreet. Elladan was used to hiding the passions that moved him.
He was glad of this as the Council progressed and the Ring’s strangeness was made clear. He had thought that Mithrandir might take up the Ring; then that Aragorn might claim it; then that it might be sent to the Sea. Then Elrond and Mithrandir laid their curious plan to have a Halfling carry the ring to Mordor to be destroyed. Elladan ached to protest, haunted by a sense that there was a better way, if only they sought hard enough. He kept his seat and his silence among the counsellors of Elrond’s household. In fealty to his father, he did not feel it was meet to disagree with him before so many strangers. Others had been quiet as well, and he sensed more buried differences of opinion than his own. The Dwarves took Elrond’s word gruffly, and the man of Gondor was visibly sceptical.
Everyone dispersed quickly when the Council was closed. Elladan took the daymeal with the other loremasters, then went to his study, thinking all the while. Much of the lore at the Council had been new to him. He had volunteered to add the new tales to Rivendell’s records of Sauron’s darkness, and he set his worktable to the ready swiftly. As soon as he was done, he would tell Elrohir everything that had happened. If nothing else would do, he thought, he and Elrohir might guard and guide the desperate errand with Aragorn. Their errantry had fitted them for that much, at least. He cut a fresh tip to a quill, dipped it in ink, and began to write.
In a fresh folio, he wrote the strange tale of Gollum, and the news from south, east, and west. Lastly, he wrote down Isildur’s words about the One Ring, as translated by Mithrandir. For this rare tale, he used the calligraphy of fine legends, strokes caressing each letter he wrote. The final lines of Isildur struck him powerfully. But for my part I will risk no hurt to this thing: of all the works of Sauron the only fair. It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain. The phrases evoked his passionate love for his twin Elrohir. He knew it a transgression, a sin of incest, yet his heart still found it fair. “Precious to me, though I buy it with great pain,” he murmured, understanding how Isildur could value the fell jewel, see its beauty despite its evil provenance.
Elladan put the quill down. Was he only projecting his long conflict about their passion, and his and Elrohir’s desire to fix and change things in the wider world, onto the Ring? At the Council, it had been said that only one might wield it. In contradiction, it was also said that no one will could master it. It came to him that he and Elrohir had joined their wills together for many deeds. The two had acted as one for a very long time. If they bent their two wills to master the Ring, they could succeed.
It seemed the perfect solution.
He tidied his worktable carefully before he strode off, considering anew much of what had been said at the Council. It was time to find out what Elrohir thought. Somehow, it slipped Elladan’s mind that the Ring was powerful enough to draw even Saruman into temptation and a deep fall by merely thinking of it.
Just as Elladan had immediately gone to his father’s councils that morn, Elrohir had joined in the work of the scouts and warriors, debriefing guards and giving scouts advice about the lands and paths. This work was done out of the guards’ house and stables. When Elladan arrived, he was told that all the work there was done for the day. Elrohir had gone where further tasks waited, the horse-doctoring stable.
Elladan walked a little way to come to the small building, half stable and half surgery. Six horse-stalls, their paraphernalia ordered around them, led into a broad tiled space equipped with the tools of surgery and a pharmacopoeia of salves and herbs. A few odd sticks of furniture were scattered around. Elrohir was shaking out a sack of pine wood-shavings in one of the stalls. A shaggy pony that had been quiet on its tether nickered when Elladan entered.
“Well met! Let me just settle this little fellow. He was so ill-used at one time that he thinks any straw is feed, and will eat straw bedding. I think Aragorn’s got him sound, but I want him away from the other horses a few days more.” Elrohir untied the pony and it trotted after him into the stall, then turned to watch as he shut the stall’s half-door. “The hostler left the stall bare, to save himself this work. Nor did he leave me a note as to why, so I set a stable with straw, and must clean it out now that I know what this lad does. I know they have been busy these past days, but still - not the way I like to do things.” He nodded towards a stable that had a bed of fresh oat straw laid down, then turned to Elladan.
“Your mood matches mine. I was thinking much the same,” said Elladan, leaning on the doorframe between two stalls. “Hearken to this; you heard that Bilbo’s kinsman was stabbed with a morgul-blade? They were so hasty to destroy the evil metal pieces that the blade’s fragment and hilt were melted in the main smithy, not in a separate brazier – and the largest forge was tainted. Father and Erestor both had to go there and clear the place of the malfeasance.”
Elrohir shook his head, frowning. “That poor Halfling. What a terrible ordeal, to endure the servants of Sauron. It is a marvel he is not dead.” Elrohir would not shadow his stable with even one word of the Black Speech, not even the word Nazgûl.
“I think the ring he carried gave him the strength to endure it,” said Elladan. “It was brought out before us at the Council today, for but a moment. Isildur bore it once, we were told; his weregild seized from Sauron. Never have I sensed such power, not in the oldest swords or jewels.”
“It must be mighty to help a mere Halfling endure the Ringwraiths.” Elrohir looked at Elladan, expecting the Council’s news from him.
Elladan delivered. “The Council is going to send it to Mordor, that it may be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. But nothing was decided, save that the hapless Halfling shall bear it thence.”
“What!” cried Elrohir, outraged. “He’s this tall! He looks like a lad! It will be his death and our failure! This – this is simply typical of the Elves here, is all, shunting the errantry of our times onto others. First the Dúnedain and now even the Halflings of the West.”
Elladan leaned back, equally exasperated. “This deed is meant to be a feint. Sauron expects it not, says Mithrandir.”
“And Father agreed with this? And you?” said Elrohir. “Elladan, it is too cruel!”
“I have a different idea. But I wanted to speak with you, first.”
“You think we should be the ones to take it,” Elrohir said. Elladan smiled silently as his brother went on. “Yes! Our time has come. We will go with it, and face the Wraiths, and…” Their eyes met, and they paused; it felt almost as if thought flew between them. Elrohir went and stood by Elladan. “Our father wields a ring of power, too, bound to our home. Would it destroy Rivendell to ruin the Halfling’s ring?”
“I do not know,” Elladan said. “At the Council, they hoped it might free the Elven-Rings, but it is more likely that you are right. The One Ring is bound to the power of the rings Father and our grandmother bear.”
Elrohir raised one brow and said, “How does it work, this Ring?”
“It is beyond elvish creations, for the power of a Maia is bound to it. A very great Maia. I think the Ring would give that Maia’s power to every deed, turning the world’s will to the wielder. It was said it gives the bearer power according to his stature.” They stared at each other, two identical warriors, strong-thewed yet lean, tall even among the Elves, sprung from the noblest lines of Elves and Men.
“We might do great works with such a thing,” said Elladan, standing beside his brother. “The two of us. I felt its might. It only waits for direction. They said at the Council that no one will could master it, but what about the two of us, together? Backed by this Ring, our twinned wills might cleanse the lands of evil. It would be easy to persuade others to our banner, with the Ring gilding our words. What do you think?”
Elrohir’s thought flew to what he most wished to fulfil, and he frowned. “Why us, and not Aragorn, Isildur’s heir? It would be good to see Aragorn raised to his kingship – and him and Arwen free to wed at last.” Elrohir paused briefly. “Mind, the realm that is Aragorn’s due is wide. We might aid them here in the North.”
Elladan smiled, slyly. “That would be good, but why merely aid? Are we not of the same line? Is not Middle-Earth wide enough for two great realms? I am weary of being ever the son of Elrond; I would be a lord in my own right. Do not misread me; I love our father. But I envy mortal princes in this, that they know kingship comes to them in time.”
Elrohir shrugged, uneasy. “Some of that could come to us if Aragorn gains his birthright. I am content to aid him.” He shifted. “Not that I would not do some things differently, if I might. I...” He fell silent as Elladan slid beside him, far closer than they normally dared in such places.
Elladan reached up and caressed Elrohir’s face, a gesture they had shared many times before, but he let his hand linger sensuously. He whispered, “But if we wielded it instead of Aragorn, had we that lordship, we might change a law or two.”
His brother froze. Then, very slowly, Elrohir smiled. “You mean it.”
“Yes,” Elladan breathed.
Elrohir grabbed a fistful of his twin’s tunic, pulling him close. “At last, at last you understand me. Our love is unblemished save for the laws that forbid it.”
Elladan exulted, “We would have our love and more; our oath to our mother’s honour fulfilled, the realm of Arnor restored, our friend of long years and our sister joined in love’s joys. Between their union and ours, there shall be a double dynasty for Middle-Earth, with the mingled blood of Elves and Men to rule both kindreds! The world will have peace and order thereby.”
“Order.” Elrohir smiled again, guileless yet fell. “I like that. So many run their lives so foolishly. Idle elves here, ignorant men to the West of us. It is one thing you and I always agreed on, not to waste the days.”
Elladan raised his eyebrows. It was not like Elrohir to speak so bluntly. It came to him that his brother had a certain appeal when he was forceful. “Exactly so. Our lands might surpass the rich realms of old, were affairs managed well.”
“With the most important affair of all,” said Elrohir, closing the gap between them, “being ours.”
They stared at each other, both lost to deep hungers. Elladan parted his lips and tilted his head slightly, in invitation, and Elrohir fell upon him. They staggered down together into the stable still bedded with hay. The fresh golden straw curled and rustled around them as they clung to each other, heedless of the straw’s harshness and the slight breeze through the open stable door.
After breathless, wet, throat-deep kisses, Elladan collapsed back into the hay. “Nobody understands me as you do, for all our differences. I should never have touched anyone else in all my time.”
Elrohir thudded down beside him. “That’s right, you’re mine.”
“And you are mine, every hard inch of you. I never knew both love and passion until you turned to me, until you took me as I asked…”
“I’ll take you again now; some of what we shall have when we bear the Ring,” said Elrohir. He leapt away and roughly pillaged the cupboard with the horse-doctoring supplies. He eyed some of the things that lay there, and had wicked thoughts of how to use them later, when their first lust was spent. In a moment, he was beside Elladan again, carrying a jar of grease laced with numbing herbs, used when doing embarrassing yet necessary things to mares and stallions.
Elladan looked to be lying there for the taking, dark, fey lust in his face, his shame and pride burned away by the desire for the Ring and for their consummation. Elrohir kicked Elladan’s legs open. “Are you going to play your taunting games with me?” he snarled.
“Maybe I will, if it means you use me hard.” He spread his legs further before Elrohir slammed down onto him, flattening him in the golden nest of straw.
“I’m sick of it!” Elrohir shouted, inches from his brother’s face. “Sick of you denying me with your mind all the time, you wretched hypocrite. You gut me every time you start with all that.”
Elladan shouted back, “Hypocrite yourself! You ignore what doesn’t suit you, you tell yourself half-lies. We’ve been so wrong, so wrong…but we won’t be, any more.” He opened his eyes wide, light kindling in their depths, and dropped his voice to whisper, “We shall be beautiful.”
And for that moment a terrible beauty did illuminate the pair of them, a glimpse of what they would be if they took up the Ring. Strong with virile strength to make an elf despair, bright with fairness to make a mortal weak in envious worship, their perfection too much for being doubled and united in passion, their love beyond law, their united will impossible for any to defy. They saw it in each other’s faces, and an awful confidence came to them both. If they were so fair, they thought, who would deny or blame them? In one of those moments when it was impossible to say who had reached first for the other, they kissed. Their desire for each other was magnified with their want of the Ring, and lustful fury took them both.
Again they grappled, writhing against each other, feeling themselves painfully erect. Elrohir pulled his brother’s tunic again. “Take it off,” he growled. Elladan stripped it off, then yanked his leggings down, a few buttons snapping loose. Elrohir flipped him over before he could take his boots off and free his legs entirely. Elladan knelt still after he was hauled up onto all fours, shifting as he waited for the familiar pleasure of being entered. This, this was the first thing he wanted. Once they were done, he knew Elrohir would aid him for the second. In that gilded hour, it felt delicious to be so shameless, to arch like a pleased animal when Elrohir ran a hand down his back. He heard the click of Elrohir opening the jar he had carried, followed by a wet, sliding sound. “Feel beneath, Elrohir, I am as hard as stone for you,” he panted.
“Doesn’t matter if you are or not,” said Elrohir, behind him. “I’d use you anyway.” Elladan convulsed in shock as Elrohir stabbed his cock in at one go, greased and buried to the root, and they both cried out.
Elrohir thrust in three times, hard, and then looked down. He was collected enough to say, “I must have torn you going in, hit you at an angle inside. You’re bleeding.”
Elladan spat hay out of his mouth to say, “I don’t care. All the better.”
Elrohir seized Elladan’s braid and pulled to see his face. “Are you – you are serious. You like that.”
Elladan gasped, “I’ll take anything from you, corrupt or perverse, all of our incest is beautiful to me.”
Elrohir let go of the braid to pin Elladan beneath him, flattening him again, far less articulate as he thrust. “I’m nigh-forcing you – and you like it – I should have, long ago – we were born for this.” Elladan moaned in assent, and Elrohir threw his restraint aside, hammering the tight body beneath him. Every past coupling of theirs seemed as nothing, over-gentle and childish, before this physical fury on the brink of power. Elrohir thrust as if to punish his brother for every word of hesitance or denial, and Elladan whimpered beneath it as if he had yearned for this chastisement. Lost in their lusts, neither understood this side of what waited for them if they took the Ring; corruption from their own shadows unfettered by ethics, love set aside, hunger and grudges fermenting evil.
Suddenly, Elladan twisted with a cry, torn beyond what the numbing cream would hide, and he spent half in pleasure, half in pain. At his tightening, Elrohir shuddered and came, groaning loudly. He drew out so suddenly that Elladan felt empty and nauseous. The pain seemed worth it when he saw Elrohir’s sated expression. “That was fantastic,” Elrohir gasped, “I can scarce wait to take you like that when wearing the Ring.”
Elladan sat bolt upright. “I knew it would come to this. The Ring called to me first. It wants me as its bearer.” He reached out and touched Elrohir’s throat, tender yet threatening, and silence stretched, grew thin. Elrohir reached up to grasp his brother’s wrist, his face starting to cloud with anger.
They were both shocked by the sound of a sharp bang, the scream of the alarmed pony. Looking up, they saw the stall half-door swinging, blown hard by the wind from the open main door. Elladan, appalled, cried, "No! I forgot to lock –" He dragged his breeches up, then staggered and slammed the stable’s door to, closing its latch with fumbling fingers. Elrohir stood up in the straw. “Ai, Elladan! If anyone saw, we would be lost!” he said, fastening his own clothes again.
Elladan’s eyes were dilated as far as could be. Shaking with fear, he still pinned the latched door closed with his body. “Maybe someone did see.”
Elrohir peered into the stall beside him, where the pony glared. “I – I don’t think so. That pony, he hears an elf, he neighs. I think we’re all right. Are you all right?”
Elladan shook his head, for all the Ring’s evil had come home to him through the heedlessness it had inspired. “About that Ring, it would not have been only us that was lost, if we were seen.”
Elrohir leaned weakly against the stable’s dividing wall. “Father! It would have destroyed him to find out about us now.”
“As we stand on the brink of war. Thinking about the Ring, I forgot everything else.” Elladan stood away from the door. “I was wrong. Forget, forget everything I said. We shouldn’t.”
“The Ring, you mean?”
“No. I mean, yes, the Ring. Like the man of Gondor, I did not believe what Father and Mithrandir said, that the Ring corrupts.” He stepped over to Elrohir, cupping his brother’s face in his hands. “Corrupts that which is not evil. After my foolishness, you were drawn in, too. Elrohir, forgive me!”
Elrohir touched him gently, all mercy. “If you forgive me. I was ready to fight you for it.”
One thought came between them as they drew close again; that to forswear the Ring was to forswear any possibility of redemption, to remain mired in their sin. Elrohir shook his head, as if to clear it. “The Ring might make our love lawful. But we would hate each other, in the end.”
Elladan nodded. They both stood, brushing the glittering golden straw from each other’s garb and hair, until their clothes were simple and grey again. As Elladan pulled his tunic back on, he said, “For the time being – instead - perhaps I should ask if Father needs errand-riders while he decides his counsel.”
“I will ride with you, if need be,” said Elrohir.
Elladan stood silent, absorbing that. His voice was steadier when he said, “I will ask him tomorrow. Speaking of aid, do the march-wardens need any extras this evening? I would rather not go back to the House, just yet.”
Elrohir said, “A double watch is on, they’d be grateful for it. You have keen eyes for the dark.”
“Too keen,” Elladan said, his face still shadowed.
Elrohir forced a smile. “Same as mine, really; we are twins.”
Elladan glanced at the door, making sure it was still locked, and gripped his brother’s arm. “Elrohir. That you do not turn from me, after what I would have done this day—“
“I would have done it with you,” Elrohir reminded him. “You thought twice, not I.”
“I do not know about that,” he said. But he squared his shoulders again as they went together to unlock the door.
* Set on October 25th, 3018, the same day as The Council of Elrond in FOTR.
* Was Elladan at the Council of Elrond? He might have been. He and Elrohir arrived back in Rivendell the night before, and not all the “counsellors of Elrond’s household” present at the council are named. They were in Rivendell while the Council took place and left soon after on their errand riding down the Silverlode. Part of this story is based on the fact that their “schedule” of activities in Tolkien canon might, possibly, be construed as them avoiding the presence of the One Ring.
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.