1. The Love of the Sons of Elrond
In the vast hall, a tall black-haired elf walked slowly past the countless rows of books that lined the walls of the room way up to the ceiling high above his head. Though there were shelves of books placed in the middle of the room as well, with broad aisles to walk through, the library was brightly illumined by the daylight that shone through the huge windows on the south side of the room.
The elf was clad in a long but light robe of different shades of blue. The topmost layer of his long hair was held together on the back of his head by a silver ribbon. There was a book in his right hand and he seemed to be searching the shelf for another; but when watched from a close distance, it seemed like his sea-grey eyes that spoke of many things and seasons he had seen, were looking through the shelf.
When the door opened and two almost identical elves walked in, the other did not turn. "Hail thee, father," said one of the twins. He was clad in the green and brown apparel of a huntsman, as was his companion.
"Elrohir," said the addressed. "You arrive early."
"We had a chance meeting with Estel, about five miles into the woods," said Elrohir.
"He told us everything," said his twin, whose cheeks were slightly flushed as if he was in an excitement.
The other elf now turned from the shelf to face his sons. "He spoke to you about Arwen?"
"Aye," said Elrohir. "He seemed downcast. So we stopped our horses and asked him to rest with us for a while."
"Estel is as dear as a brother to us," said his twin, and it sounded like an accusation as he looked at his father with the very same sea-grey eyes.
"I know it well, Elladan."
The father of the twins started to walk towards the windows. Elladan and Elrohir followed him through a thin wooden door that opened onto a stone terrace overlooking a valley that looked like it had been delved into the surrounding rocks by a river. The three elves stood by an ornamented stone balustrade, looking down on the silver line that wound through the valley far below them. The bright autumn sun reflected on their raven hair.
"Estel is hard to read when he chooses to veil his thoughts to others," said Elrohir.
"What did he say to you?" asked his father.
"He would have said naught, had we not urged him to tell us why he would not stay longer at Rivendell," Elrohir answered. "Finally, after some persuading he said: for all the years that you have been as brethren to me, I shall tell you what burdens my heart: I seek for the hand of your sister in marriage."
"And Elrond has professed that he will not give the hand of his daughter to anyone less than the King of both Gondor and Arnor," Elladan took up the thread. "Thus he spoke to us."
Both of them looked silently at their father, who stood between them still looking down into the valley. When he did not speak, Elrohir said: "Is it true?"
Elrond sighed and looked at his son. "I do not know for which part of the story you seek confirmation, but I can tell you that all of it is true. Would you expect someone who is like a brother to you to tell you false tales?"
"We would not expect it," said Elrohir, and Elladan, whose cheeks were flushed deeper now, fell in: "But neither would we have expected our father to put such a heavy burden on his own foster-son."
"I thought you knew Estel as brothers know each other," said Elrond calmly. "To him, many things apt to undo a man are as easy as breathing. If anybody has the ability to shoulder this burden, it is him. It was meant to be."
"But you are hard on Arwen, too," said Elladan. "She would not have made such a choice for slight cause. She must love Estel dearly."
"I do not disagree," said Elrond.
"Now that I know your mind I wonder how she took it so calmly," said Elrohir. "She showed no sign of distress this morning."
"That is because Arwen better understands the matter of this," said Elrond.
"Explain it to her ignorant brothers then, father," said Elladan, "tell your reasons for sundering two that you love. For sending Estel to perils that Arwen might have wanted to face together with him. We forget too easily that she is the granddaughter of Artanis, just as she is the descendant of Lúthien."
"I have not forgotten it," said Elrond, and his forehead fell into creases.
"Then leave your daughter to the choice of Lúthien," said Elladan, "and swallow your pride, lord of Imladris."
"Soft, brother," said Elrohir and put a hand on Elladan's shoulder, "speak not so to our father."
"I am glad you have spoken, Elladan," said Elrond, "for I see now how little you understand."
Elladan was about to protest, but when his brother's grip on his arm tightened, he exhaled and was silent.
"There is a power stirring in the east," said Elrond, "as both of you should have realised, if you walked through the lands with waking senses. The race of Men cannot face this power in the state that it is in, and the power of the Eldar in Middle Earth is dwindling. Gondor needs a king, to kindle its people, to bring them back to hope. It needs a king of strength and wisdom that cannot be acquired in merely a few years.
"Her love he has, and that I cannot, nor will not, take from him. But to have her as a wife shall be his aim, his goal to pursue when all other hope has left him. The love for Arwen burns stronger in him than any desire of kingship or glory on the battlefield. It will help him to achieve his task, not hinder him."
The twins were silent. Elladan stared at the ornaments on the balustrade, but Elrohir looked at his father with a smile upon his face. "We should know better," he said, "than to judge our father's decisions so rashly."
"But you were right to doubt," said Elrond seriously, "for when I said the power of the Eldar was dwindling, I did not exclude myself. Some of my forebodings may prove wrong in the end." He furrowed his brow.
"But not in Estel," said Elrohir, still smiling with a sincerity that made him look young, young like the pale sun in the early morning. "He has the love of Arwen Undómiel, and he shall not fail."
"And the love of the sons of Elrond," said Elladan quietly, "he has that also."
"You speak honourably," said Elrond, "yet this shadow that I spoke of may rise to a power greater than that we have encountered before. It will be a time of testing for both the wise and the unwise, and it may lead to a bitter end for some of us."
"Nay, father," said Elrohir, "be comforted. For now we have a new hope. Estel he is indeed, and in time there will be a king in Gondor, and by his side shall be a queen, wise and beautiful, the like of which the world has not seen since the days of Lúthien."
Elrond could not help smiling at the unshakeable confidence of his son.
Elladan took a deep breath and said: "His fate lies not in our hands, but we will do what we can to defy the black power."
Upon those words, the twins took leave of their father, and Elrond followed them with his eyes, his face full of fatherly love and pride for his sons. But when they had vanished inside the house, his face fell again into lines of worry.
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.