1. Chapter I: Reluctance
The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like a five-year-old.
* * *
Pungent... that was the word for it: a smell that was a blend of earthy mud, sweat and something fowl. Something, the elf lord thought, worryingly familiar. Elrond looked from one small elfling to the other - if that indeed was what they were beneath all that grime - with one eyebrow raised in his typical expression of questioning, "You have been into the old bog again, have you not?"
"It was Elladan's idea!" Elrohir pointed an accusing finger at his brother.
"Elrohir wanted to get across the bog." Elladan said, imitating the gesture.
"He fell in first."
"You pushed me in!"
"I tripped!" Elrohir cried.
"Ada, you believe me do you not?" Whined Elladan.
"Why would he believe you? You always lie, Elladan!"
"I do not!"
"Yes you do!"
"Stop this instantly!" Elrond cried loudly, his face turning red.
The twins looked up, dark, slimy globs rolling down their faces. The old bog was one of the most famed, and forbidden, places for elflings in all of Imladris. In fact, it was probably the fact that it was forbidden that made it so famous. It was actually a peat bog, and the ground was highly unstable. This made it a very dangerous place, for it was easy for one, especially an elfling who was perhaps less sure on his feet than, to sink into the soft mud. Elrond had told his sons this a million times, but now he repeated it again, "You should not go to the old bog. It is very dangerous."
"We know ada." Elrohir said.
"But it’s the best place to catch frogs."
"You did not bring any home, did you?" Elrond asked.
"Of course not." Elladan said, putting a hand in his tunic pocket as if he were trying to hide something.
Elrond chose to ignore that gesture. "Your naneth will be home this evening, with a party from Lothlorien, so I am going to draw a bath and clean the both of you. You do not want to be seen this dirty in front of formal company, do you?"
Instantly, two pairs of gray eyes widened in horror. He had just said the 'b-word'! That was a very dangerous proposition. Too bad Elrond didn't realize how dangerous it was to mention the 'b-word'.
"Wait here. I do not want you walking through the corridors in the state you are now." Elrond, very foolishly, turned on his heel and left them in the hallway. If he were a mother, he would have been wise enough not to; but alas, their nursemaid had found herself with child. As happy as Elrond was for her, when Celebrian had left to visit her parents, he had been left alone with the ‘Morgoth-spawn’ known to others as their sons.
The 'Morgoth-spawn' nodded mutely. Once Elrond's back had turned, a wicked gleam came into their eyes and a silent agreement passed between them: Flee!
Both came in from the doorway, making a point to remove their muddied boots before they split, Elladan taking the corridor that branched left, and Elrohir the one that branched right.
* * *
Elladan made a mad dash down the corridor, splattering mud along the walls and floor. His bare feet made a splattering sound as he went, but somehow he remained sure-footed and did not stumble or slip on the no-doubt slick sludge. After reaching the window at the end of the corridor where Glorfindel's chamber was, Elladan realized that he was cornered. Why did he go into that corridor? There was nowhere good to hide!
Suddenly, Glorfindel's doorknob started to rattle, a sign that it was about to open. Thinking fast, Elladan jumped onto the ledge and climbed out the window, pulling himself onto the roof that hung directly above the window. From there he had an almost birds-eye view of the back gardens, but was effectively hidden by the interlacing branches of a nearby aspen. Once on the roof, he stretched out his limbs and relaxed, certain that he was safe.
Hearing a squelch, Glorfindel blinked and looked down at the floor. 'What is that?' he thought in disgust. He would just have to call someone to clean it up. (Far be it from Glorfindel to resort to the level of a serving maid!) With a disregarding shrug, he continued along the corridor. Abruptly he felt the ground give way beneath him, and his equilibrium being thrown off.
A disgraceful 'Thud!' sounded when the almightily Glorfindel's rear-end hit the hard, still muddied, corridor floor. He gave a yell, and then looked down the corridor. It was clear. He sobbed and stood up, quickly dashing back into his room to get changed and nurse his wounded pride and derrière. That really hurt!
* * *
Elrohir noticed the mud that his clothes were spreading across the floor, and decided that the one way to avoid this would be to strip them off. So he did, allowing them to lie in a stream along the corridor. Then he took a passage to the left, and wandered into one of the storage rooms where he effectively hid himself in a cupboard among some rolled linen. Having left no evidence to raise suspicion, and taken a particularly winding route, Elrohir grinned smugly: he would not be found!
* * *
When Elrond returned to where he had left his sons standing he found them to have vanished, leaving dark bits of stringy muck on the floor. Elrond groaned. The muck though, led in two very definite directions. Now the question was whether to take the left corridor or the right. Which had which twin taken? Elrond was not certain. They had been difficult to tell apart with them as thoroughly soiled as they had been. He hadn’t known it was possible to carry so much grime on one being, much less two so small.
On a sudden impulse, Elrond dashed down the left corridor. This one led near Glorfindel's chamber, and Elrond knew he was within, preparing for the troupe from Lothlorien. Perhaps the other elf-lord had managed to catch one of his 'Morgoth-spawned' sons. Oh, he could only hope...
* * *
Without warning to Elrond, Glorfindel opened his chamber door again. Elrond barely prevented himself from running into it, and when he attempted to stop, he instead slid on the mud and still hit the door in a move most ungraceful and unbecoming of the Lord of Imladris. Pain flared up in his nose and he clutched it with one hand, crouched on the floor. Glorfindel looked down. (He rather liked looking down.)
"Lord Elrond," He asked attentively, staring at Elrond.
Elrond looked up, blood trickling from his left nostril, "Whad?"
"Oh dear. I really am quite sorry." Glorfindel tried to sound apologetic. He really did. But his heart just wasn't in to it.
"No you aren'd."
“Believe what you will." Glorfindel paused, "If I might ask you, Elrond, why exactly were you running in the corridor as such?"
Elrond gave a sniff, "I am trying to find my sons. Have you seen either of them?"
"Nay, I have not."
"This mud..." Elrond looked at it, and stood up at the realization that he was kneeling in mud on the corridor floor before Glorfindel, "this is from one of them."
"I must find them..." Elrond hissed.
Glorfindel paused again, bracing himself to hear of the latest escapades, "What have they done this time?"
"They were in the old bog - and are covered head-to-toe in slime. They fled when I told them that they were to take a bath." Elrond frowned, "Celebrian's parents are here from Lothlorien."
Now, although Celeborn and Galadriel had allowed Elrond to take their daughter's hand in marriage, this did not necessarily mean that they approved of it. True, Elrond and Galadriel could get along quite well. Even Elrond and Celeborn had gotten on for some time. Yet now, there were looks that Celeborn cast upon Elrond that gave him chills. He had a feeling that it was a level of contempt for stealing away his 'precious little girl' and quite probably the reason she so frequently visited Lothlorien. Even when Celeborn congratulated them on their first children there was a strange disapproval to his words, directed towards Elrond.
'There are two of them.' Celeborn had said, casting a sympathetic glance at his daughter for having to endure a particularly hard labor. She had smiled calmly and proudly at him, beaming like the new mother that she was.
'Look at their dark hair and Edain features!' he had exclaimed. Just then Elladan, or at least the one Elrond thought was Elladan at the time, had decided to give one of Celeborn's braids a good tug. 'They resemble their father so.' Celeborn then observed. Elrond eventually decided that this was an insult.
Either way, Elrond knew that he did not want Celeborn 'nor Galadriel to see his sons in their current state, and he knew that he must find them. Elrond was decided to enlist Glorfindel's help, whether he was willing or not.
* * *
They had been running up and down the corridors for several minutes, calling when there was no one else in the vicinity, but had found no trace of the twins. Eventually Elrond and Glorfindel met up in the corridor where they had been initially, standing outside of Glorfindel's chamber. Elrond followed the mud with his eyes, watching the maid mopping by the window.
"They would not..." Glorfindel began.
"They would." Elrond said. "These are my sons."
* * *
To be continued...
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.