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Discretion  by Bodkin


‘They know,’ Celebrían murmured.

‘How do you know they know?’ Glorfindel objected.  ‘They may just have developed sufficient maturity – now they are proud adars – to keep such indiscretions discreet.  They would doubtless prefer their own offspring not to thicken the air around them with dwarvish curses.’

‘They know,’ she repeated with certainty.  ‘But they do not know that we know.’

Elrond raised an eyebrow.  ‘How can they not be suspicious?’

‘Oh, they are suspicious,’ she conceded, ‘but they have chosen to believe in our innocence.’

‘How refreshingly naïve,’ Glorfindel mused.  A smile brightened his fair face.  ‘Should we disabuse them of the notion that they can successfully deceive us, do you think?’

Galadriel watched her grandsons’ faces in the golden evening light.  ‘Why?’ she asked.  ‘What they do not know cannot hurt them.’

‘In other words,’ Celeborn raised his glass, ‘they may expect the worst of us, but you would prefer them not to believe that their naneth and daernaneth have been party to the jest from the beginning.’

‘And I will have to have a word with young Thranduilion,’ the Lady said serenely.  ‘It seems to me that, for no good reason, he has foolishly stirred up a great deal of mud that would have been better left undisturbed.’

Amid the groups of chattering elves that moved backwards and forwards across the broad lawns in constantly changing patterns of colour, Elladan and Elrohir watched their elders with practised discrimination.

‘They are all in on it,’ Elladan said incredulously. 

‘Be fair,’ his brother advised.  ‘Remember that they were not the – the spawn of Morgoth’s corruption who taught us those revolting expressions.’

‘But they did not stop us.’  Elladan altered his position with apparent carelessness while continuing to watch the parley among his closest family.  ‘A word from Glorfindel at the time – and we would never have been in a position where we humiliated ourselves in front of more people than I care to remember.’

‘Glorfindel, yes,’ Elrohir frowned.  ‘I think his actions call for revenge.’  He brooded briefly.  ‘But Naneth . . . Daernaneth . . . they could have . . .’

‘We would have been mortified had they said anything,’ Elladan declared. 

Elrohir opened his mouth to suggest that the task of speaking to them could have been passed on to others whose participation would have been less embarrassing, but then closed it again.  The last thing he wanted to do was to sway Elladan into thinking that they should be angry with their naneth.  ‘It is our own fault, really,’ he said instead.  ‘We should have smelled a rat.’  He sighed.  ‘A whole sewer full of them.’

‘We were too pleased with ourselves – and sure we were getting away with something,’ Elladan told him ruefully. 

‘Do you think,’ Elrohir asked suddenly, ‘that there could be a problem if any of those with whom we have shared the finer points of our vocabulary were to be revealed –  casually employing some of the – er –  more graphic turns of phrase?’

Elladan turned to look at him.  ‘Others?’ he enquired, turning his brother’s words over in his mind.  ‘Do you know,’ he said slowly, ‘it could cause complications, could it not?  Especially once they discovered how we had been cruelly deceived by those who should have known better.’

‘How many would there be, do you think?’

Elladan’s smile widened.  ‘At least a dozen or two,’ he considered.  ‘Among elves, that is.  I know not how many among men might have acquired the expressions.’

‘I think it might be rather more,’ Elrohir mused.  ‘And several score more who would have picked up the phrases from them.’

‘Do you think that group of conspirators is aware that the use of our preferred Khuzdul curses has cascaded down over the years to a plethora of young elves?’

The brothers’ eyes met.

‘Should we tell them, do you think, of the consequences of their attempt at humour?’

‘I believe it to be our duty,’ Elladan replied maliciously.  ‘Now we know the truth, we cannot let our elders go in ignorance of the unfortunate results of our lack of knowledge.’

‘Just as long as they do not then detail us to go and reveal the meaning of that which is much better forgotten,’ his brother warned.

‘They would not do that.’  Elladan’s initial confidence faded.  ‘Would they?’

‘They might,’ Elrohir said.  ‘But would that matter, seeing that the situation is not, in fact, quite what it seems?’

‘Perhaps not,’ his twin agreed.  He smiled at his brother.  ‘Shall we tell them?’

The sons of Elrond, shoulder to shoulder, approached the group of suddenly quiet elves, their features in shadow as they looked intently at the blank faces before them.  ‘Adar,’ Elladan stated sombrely, ‘we have a problem.’

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