24. Family Matters
A gentle tap on the doorpost awakened Elladan a few short hours later. The sound did not permeate the consciousness of the deeply sleeping princess. Elladan pushed aside the diaphanous hangings at the door.
A serious-faced Elf-maid with merry eyes greeted him, “Good morning, Lord Elladan. I am sorry to disturb your rest. My Lord and Lady sent me to your rooms to ask you to join them for breakfast and beg that you invite the Princess of Dol Amroth. When I reported that I did not find you there, they instructed me to come directly here and fetch the princess.”
“Thank you, Tórasin. Please tell them you found me and that I will be along shortly,” Elladan said.
“Your sister and brother are already there,” she said with just a hint of a smile. He rolled his eyes expressively. “Your father also has arrived, but he will not join you until later.”
“Thank you again,” he answered. No time for a bath, no time for braids. He hurriedly dressed and set off for his own quarters, where he freshened up, using what water he could find, and donned fresh clothes.
Elladan found Galadriel, Celeborn, Elrohir and Arwen gathered around an elegantly set but rustic table in the small garden where his grandmother preferred to breakfast.
“You could not find Princess Lothíriel?” Arwen asked with patently insincere virtuousness.
“Good morning everyone,” Elladan said. “I am afraid you will have to meet the princess later, Arwen. She has had too little sleep and I had not the heart to wake her.” He shrugged his shoulder insouciantly, a familiar signal to his sister that he would not be provoked.
“Here, my dear,” Galadriel said, handing him a cup of tea. “You, however, are looking very well today--so youthful without your braids. Now, indulge your sister’s curiosity. I told her that I only met the princess briefly. Your brother deferred to you, as well, claiming that you know her much better than he does.”
“Best to get it over with, so we can speak of other things,” Celeborn said widening his eyes in sympathy in the direction of his oldest grandson. “It seems Estel also wrote a few lines to Arwen mentioning her, which raised more questions than they answered.”
Without even taking a breath, Elladan said, “She is betrothed to the King of Rohan. She is very young, but competent. She has run her father’s households in Dol Amroth and Minas Tirith for some years and worked in the Houses of Healing during the War. She has a worthy father and three strapping brothers, fine warriors all. Faramir, the new Steward of Gondor, Lord Boromir’s brother, is her first cousin. Her entire family counts itself among Estel’s staunchest supporters. Now, Galadriel informs us she is also half-elven.
"What more do you want to know, Arwen?” he asked, but not waiting for an answer continued, “She is beautiful. Speaks Elvish as her mother tongue and is learned without being bookish. She is frank and funny. Do not worry; you will like her.”
Four pairs of eyes fixed on him and he held their gaze, determined not to flinch under their scrutiny. Finally, after a long silence, Arwen spoke, “Do not play the fool with me, Elladan. What is she to you?”
After a pregnant pause, Elladan reached out and took his sister’s hand tenderly, meeting her eyes beseechingly, “Truly, Arwen, I do not know.”
“You love her,” Arwen stated.
“Arwen, it is hard that I have found someone that I might love only a bit too late. Please do not be judgmental,” he answered, looking not at his sister but to his grandfather, as though Celeborn might hold the solution to the troubles of his heart.
“What of King Éomer of Rohan?” Celeborn asked in a low, deliberately mild voice.
Elladan turned to his grandfather, “He is an admirable young man and intends to make her his queen. His soldiers in Minas Tirith respected her and Edoras received her well.”
“From her time in the Houses of Healing, no doubt,” Galadriel mused.
“He has not told you the half of Éomer,” Elrohir added, dropping his shoulders demonstratively and sighing. “He resembles a young Glorfindel—all blinding golden radiance and valor, but, in his case, coupled with the compelling intensity of his mortality. He is charismatic and adored by his people. He promises to be well qualified to lead his country ably into the new Age. Only Estel and Prince Imrahil, dozens of years his senior, surpass him in the respect he holds within the Armies of the West. If you had seen Lothíriel and Éomer together, you would truly wonder how Elladan would presume to interfere…”
“Elrohir, I accept that Lothíriel will be queen of Rohan. I know she loves Éomer,” Elladan said impatiently, tossing the sweet roll he held in his hand onto his plate. “I have lost my appetite.”
“For your breakfast?” Celeborn asked, with a dry smile.
“Enough of this for now,” Galadriel said in a silky, soothing tone. “Let him have a few days of peace. Stranger things have been resolved to good effect.”
Elladan slumped in his chair, but made no move to leave the company of his family.
“Or tragic effect,” Elrohir muttered.
“Estel asks me to befriend her,” Arwen said.
“You will not find that difficult. Elladan is right. She is a good sort. Unpretentious,” Elrohir said. “Legolas was quite taken aback when he first met Prince Imrahil, so Elven does he appear. The origins of her family are lost in myth. No one in Gondor seems to know the true history. Then last night grandmother asserts, to all of our surprise and that of the young woman as well, that she is half-Elven.”
“I know a bit of the history,” Galadriel said. “Celeborn does also. The heirs of Dol Amroth have numerous predecessors among Elvenkind. Most of them his distant kinsmen.”
“Strange. She has black hair. She quite resembles our sister in appearance. In fact, she is the exact type that Arwen was on the cusp of her maturity. Uncommonly tall, pretty, slim, small-breasted,” Elrohir added.
“That is her Númenórean blood, I would guess,” Galadriel commented. “I sense no Noldor in her background. I speculate Sindar or Silvan. She does, however, strikingly resemble an Elleth I once knew well.”
“Sounds as though you have done your research, grandmother,” said Elrohir.
“Not at all. I have an excellent memory. Remember your grandfather and I spent quite some yeni in that area before coming here,” Galadriel said.
“Are all of you intent on driving me away from my breakfast?” Elladan sulked. “Can you speak of nothing else? You sound like naturalists discussing different varieties of tree frog.”
“He is right, my dear,” Celeborn addressed his wife, “You say ‘enough’ and then you go on and on. Elladan needs to eat. He has been traveling for days.”
Elladan laughed, shrugging his shoulder and shaking his head. “Ai, the joys of family, but I expected nothing less. Let us speak of Arwen’s plans for a while. That is usually distracting. How long may we rest before we must set off again? How is Ada faring these days, sister?”
“Does Ada have to hear of your speculation about Elladan and his princess while we are here?” Arwen asked, anxiously looking around the table.
“Arwen, later,” Celeborn said warningly, leaning to place his hand comfortingly on Elladan’s knee.
After Elrohir and Elladan left to look in on Lothíriel, Celeborn, Galadriel and Arwen remained at the table.
Arwen looked at her grandfather pleadingly, willing him to comfort her. Celeborn, as though he read her thoughts, spoke. “Arwen, you are overwrought. You cannot single-handedly protect your father, your brothers, and Estel from every exigency of daily life. Much less, will your heavy-handed needling of Elladan result in any lessening of his predicament.”
“You coddle him. You call a ‘predicament’ what others might consider a potentially damaging scandal. I am worried. Estel said little, but I read between the lines that he is troubled. And what of Ada? How will he react?” Arwen asked, allowing herself to become increasingly emotional. “Did you see Elladan’s face when he admitted that he loves her?”
“Elladan sought your compassion. As for Elrond, he must find his own peace, Arwen. If you believe that knowledge of this liaison will cause him to fear that Elladan will not leave these shores, you should know that he has long wondered if either of your brothers could ever bring themselves to leave Arda,” Celeborn answered.
“He has?” Arwen asked surprised. “He never told me that.”
“It wearies me at times how everyone is so overcome with sympathy for Elrond. None of you seem to have any concern to spare for how I will fare leaving all of you behind me,” Galadriel said. Celeborn sighed, took her hand, and kissed it tenderly.
“You decide for yourself as always, my love. Whereas Elrond once again has had his fate presented to him,” said Celeborn. Arwen sighed. Must they always drag us into the middle of their endless sparring.
“That is your version, husband,” Galadriel said, placing the subtlest pejorative emphasis on the final word. She jerked her hand free of his, but then relented and placed it on his thigh.
“Your father did not want to add to the burden of your choice,” said Celeborn, turning his attention back to Arwen. “As for Elladan, I have had greater fear that he would never know love. It is far preferable to experience love than not, whatever pain may come with it.”
“What does he see in this young girl?” Arwen asked puzzled.
“Why he is attracted to a child of Moriquendi refugees and Númenórean nobility? Perhaps he mirrors the females of this family in his taste,” Celeborn said with a chuckle.
“Possibly he is attracted to her Elvishness, or to her humanity, or, more likely yet, the mixture of the two. He may feel less alien with her than he has with others who have sought to win his heart,” Galadriel speculated.
“Perhaps, but Elrohir also told me that they bicker and argue all the time,” Arwen said. At that remark, her grandparents exchanged knowing, affectionate looks, which Arwen did not miss.
“The two of you are impossible. The relentless airing of every petty disagreement is not a sign that two individuals are well-matched. Your marriage has been a strong one, despite that, not because of it,” Arwen exclaimed.
“Whatever you say, dear. You are the expert,” Galadriel replied with saccharine sweetness.
“So tell us, Arwen. What exactly did Estel ask of you in his letter?” Celeborn asked.
“He only said that my ‘generosity’ and ‘humor’ would be useful in coping with the two of them,” Arwen said with chagrin.
“You will have to retrace your steps a bit to achieve that, my sweet one. But I have complete confidence in you. I do have a feeling that there may be a future in this unlikely relationship, although what that may be is not obvious to us now,” Galadriel said.
“From whence comes this foresight, grandmother? Have you seen portents or omens?” Arwen asked. Celeborn turned his head away from Arwen, stifling a chuckle, which gained him a glare from his wife.
Galadriel answered, “Nothing of the sort. I observed a novel forbearance on the part of Elladan in the face of your hectoring and that of his brother. He looks rather well these days and I liked the young lady. They seem comfortable together and genuinely fond of one another, well beyond the margins of unguarded passion alone—not the usual earmarks of a tragic love affair.”
“Come along, Arwen. Show me how your gown is coming on,” Galadriel said rising. “Elladan will bring the princess to meet you shortly and then you can form your own opinions. Please try to remember what it is like to be young and exercise some patience. According to Elrohir, she flirts with everyone, even Estel. I well recall that you had the same failing when you were young.”
Elrohir and his brother stopped at the foot of the Mallorn that held Lothíriel’s talan. No sound but birdsong and the muffled ruffle of wind through leaves reached Elrohir’s ears.
“Would you like to go up and fetch her? I will wait here,” he said.
“I promise I will not be long,” said Elladan, his face lightening.
“Try not to be. Ai, what am I thinking. I know better than to place any credence in that pledge,” Elrohir said, cocking his head to one side. “I will accompany you since the morning grows old.”
“Suit yourself, brother,” Elladan said, climbing the winding staircase, his long legs taking two steps at a time. Elrohir followed him. When Elladan pulled aside the curtain that hung in the doorway of the room, Lothíriel opened her eyes and held out her arms to him.
“Elladan,” she said smiling winsomely. Elladan moved quickly to the bed, straddled her on top of the sheets, knees on either side of her thighs, and pulled her up into his arms.
“Good morning,” he said.
Elrohir shook his head in reluctant indulgence at the sight of the two of them. He wanted to be annoyed with his brother, but was unable to control his sympathy at the sight of his brother’s unabashed naturalness, the like of which he had not seen in Elladan since before the loss of their mother.
“Good morning, princess. I am glad I followed you up here, Elladan. You obviously would have stayed too long,” Elrohir said. “You will have time for all that later. Hurry now. There are those who want to meet you, Lothíriel. My sister, in particular, is most curious.”
“Your sister and father have arrived?” Lothíriel asked, her voice rising in anticipation. “Oh, she could not possibly be as curious as I am.” She fidgeted under Elladan, trying to slide out from under him without loosing the sheets that covered her.
“See what you have done,” Elladan complained cheerfully. “I did not even get a good morning kiss.” Elrohir watched fascinated as she somehow did manage to squirm free of his brother and pull herself into a seated position, clutching the sheet to cover her breasts.
“I think I can get dressed faster if both of you leave.” She paused then to plant a brief, but forceful, kiss on Elladan’s mouth.
Elladan shrugged and, smiling, joined his brother in the doorway. “We will be at the bottom of the stairs if you need anything.”
Instead of walking down the stairs, Elladan, in a manner that would not have reflected poorly on Legolas, grabbed an overhead branch, swung himself to within reach of a stronger lower one and dropped onto it. He lowered himself into a squatting position, gripped the limb with both hands and dropped himself to land with catlike grace on the ground. Walking sedately down the rustic set of stairs, Elrohir watched his brother, while heaving a heartfelt sigh, noting that he had not seen his brother execute such a stunt since they were youth—at least not without life or death motivation.
In the bright sunlight, the forest seemed spectacularly beautiful but not nearly as mysterious and lost in the time of the Elder days as it appeared the evening before. Elrohir thought for a moment that it almost could have been no more than one of the most beautiful woodlands in Arda if one did not look up at Malloryn. No, he thought, the grass is too brilliantly green, fine and level. Everywhere he looked, he saw something, like the smattering of the blossoms of elanor and niphredil at his feet or the perfect cloudless sky above, which revealed the enhanced beauty of their surroundings.
For a fleeting moment, Elrohir wished that they had not come to Lothlórien. He knew of how Lórien could enchant and captivate, driving away quotidian cares and concerns. He had not recently experienced that to any perceptible degree, so familiar was this place to him from his earliest childhood. However, on that day, it seemed to him that Lothíriel and Elladan existed in an alternate universe, removed from and out of kilter with the ordinary course of their lives.
Elrohir mused that neither he nor Elladan, nor Lothíriel for that matter, had ever experienced a life that was in any way commonplace. Maybe the unreachable hope, well beyond the range of their expectations, would be to simply love and be loved without it always being wrapped up in a weighty shroud of epic drama and destiny. One can almost smell that as a possibility in an Arda freed of the Shadow. But we have not reached that point yet.
He pondered the fact that Lothíriel, now so childishly impetuous, but intelligent, sensual, self-assured, was destined to become a beloved queen of Rohan and worthy consort to the young man who conceivably could become Rohan’s most illustrious warrior king.
Éomer undoubtedly will rank among the heroes of an Age. What possible role can my brother have in that? I hope this is not some Fëanorian misstep that will leave Elladan outside of the rhythm of his fate. Perhaps, there is a chance it is not, but instead this is compensation from the Varda for yeni of effort and sacrifice with little thought of himself. But, if that is the case, it would be paltry thanks indeed if it is to be but a few short days in Lothlórien.
But Elladan and I must return to help Estel secure and defend his reign, while we all engage in the work of reclamation and restoration of Arda. I hope this interlude will restore my brother’s spirits rather than crushing his heart.
At that moment, Lothíriel appeared at the doorway of the talan, smiling and eager. She skipped down the steps and grabbed Elladan by both hands.
“One more detail and we will be ready. Sit beneath me on the steps, Elladan. I will quickly braid your hair. I do not want you to meet your father after all of these months looking as though you made love all night,” she said grinning.
Elrohir groaned, but could not summon the appropriate impatience, overridden as it was by the look the simple contentment he read in his brother’s eyes when Elladan looked up and smiled at the princess.
When they reached the secluded garden where the rest family had gathered, they stood for a second or two before the others, who all seemed to be talking at once, acknowledged them. Lothíriel had the briefest chance to consider the four older Elves before they turned to her.
Her first glimpse of Elrond completely overwhelmed Lothíriel. Anyone who had studied history and lore had heard of the noble Elven-lord Elrond. She learned as child of how he had been sent by Gil-Galad, the last High King of the Noldor, to lead the attack on Sauron in Eregion. She knew he was the founder of the Elven enclave of Imladris and that he had been a great warrior and commander second only to Gil-Galad on the battlefields in the War of the Last Alliance.
Elrond was known even in these days, along with Celeborn and Galadriel, as the wisest and most powerful of the Eldar left on Arda. Lothíriel had cultivated a precise expectation of what he would be like and it fell wide of the mark.
She believed he would be fairer than fair, more Elven than his sons, and, above all, intimidating. Instead, if anything, he was far more human. Handsome he was, indeed. He surpassed Celeborn in fairness—yet more intense, a spirit of fire rather than starlight. His sons strongly resembled him with the same magnificent black hair and clear grey eyes. However, Elrond was even taller, more broadly built and ruddier of complexion, and far more youthful in appearance than Lothíriel had envisioned, except, of course, for the eyes. Therein she saw reflected the wisdom of Ages and the gentleness of a healer. His face, though a model of nobility, totally lacked Elven detachment. It was mobile, expressive. His human roots were undeniable.
Arwen was quite simply the most beautiful woman Lothíriel had ever seen. She shared the Elven radiance of her brothers and grandparents, combined with the high color of Elrond. She shared her brothers’ black hair and grey eyes with features more resembling those of her father than her grandfather. Unlike her father and the twins, her hair was not sleek and silken straight, but thicker and wavy like that of Galadriel. She radiated the intensity of the Peredhil, combined with the artless regality of her grandmother.
Like many in Gondor, Lothíriel had so immediately given her heart, soul, and loyalty to Aragorn that she assumed that any Elf or woman he chose would be fortunate to have won his love. However, when she first laid eyes on Arwen, as much as she admired the king, she was momentarily stunned at Aragorn’s utter audacity. Her second thought was defensive: Never mind that she is the daughter of Maia, Elves and heroes among Men, and surely looks the part, I hope that she is worthy of him.
At that moment, Elrond gave the three newcomers a quick sideways glance, met Arwen’s eyes and laughed aloud. “Here they are now,” he said.
Elrond then turned, smiling widely at sight of his sons and their guest. Lothíriel inhaled sharply. She instantly recognized the curve of that smile, that unique sound. Both brothers may have received Celeborn’s jaw line and cheekbones, and Elrohir his grandfather’s frank manner, but Elladan inherited Elrond’s laugh.
Elladan and Elrohir respectively pulled their father into strong embraces and were hugged tightly in return. Then Elladan turned to Lothíriel and drew her into their circle.
Lothíriel bowed and said, “Suilad, Lady Galadriel. Suilad, Lord Celeborn.” She looked wide-eyed at Elrond and Arwen, uncertain if she should speak first or wait.
“Ada, this is Lothíriel, Princess of Dol Amroth,” Elladan said.
“So, we finally meet, daughter of Númenor. I think your king sought to mislead me,” Elrond chuckled, eyes alight with all the warmth of summer. “He wrote to tell me that he was sending a noblewoman of Gondor to accompany my daughter to Minas Tirith and instruct us in its customs and politics along the way. What I know of Estel, tells he presumed I would envision a stern, wise, perhaps haughty, older woman.”
“Lord Elrond, I am honored to place myself in your service and that of the Lady Arwen,” she said merrily with a graceful Elven bow, “I may be young and unwise but, in my father’s house, my brothers and I were fed the specifics of the political affairs of Gondor along with our mother’s milk.”
Arwen stepped closer to Lothíriel and took hold of her hands, “You are most welcome, Lothíriel. Both Estel and my brothers have told me a great deal about you. I look forward to your company and learning to know you better.”
“Arwen, I have so longed to meet you. But Aragorn and your brothers know far too many awkward and embarrassing things about me. I hope you will keep an open mind.”
“I will do that if you will. You did not guard your thoughts well when you first looked at me. I read there a most gratifying and touching concern for Estel,” Arwen said with a grin. Lothíriel, both abashed and amused, warmly squeezed Arwen’s soft hands and looked up into her starry grey eyes. Perhaps she is worthy of him after all.
“Come and find a seat, Lothíriel,” Galadriel said. “Share with us some details of what we may expect in Gondor. We have planned feasting and merrymaking later for you and all our guests. But this afternoon is reserved for family and for us to become better acquainted.”
Later that afternoon, Elladan intersected Arwen on the way back to her quarters. He took his sister’s hand in his own and led her to a secluded bench.
“Take a moment and talk with me, Arwen,” he said.
Arwen looked at Elladan and was again struck by how well he did look and happy, if with a slightly frenetic edge. “I had nearly forgotten my handsome, funny, vain brother of days gone by. Well, not forgotten but it has been a long while since I have seen you like this.”
“Vain?” He asked, arching his eyebrows in pretended umbrage, while barely controlling his mirth.
“Well, you do look a bit smug, pleased with yourself today.” She reached up to touch his cheek in tender, sisterly affection.
“Pleased? Yes,” he said with a short laugh, “Not so much with myself, but with another.”
“I sense nothing of the grim, angry fea, we have been forced to endure . . .”
“What? Not still handsome? Only grim and angry?”
“Oh, Elladan, you are quite the buffoon today! It has been ages since I have seen this side of you.”
“Not that long, little sister. A couple of yeni or a bit more perhaps.”
“Now you sound completely Elven. Does time suddenly mean so little to you? Until recently you seemed so oppressed by it.”
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.