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Discretion  by Bodkin

Excuses

Arien’s rays tangled in the long silver tresses which sparkled like Mithrandir’s fireworks in ribbons of light.  Her face was in shadow as she looked down at her sons where they sat shoulder to shoulder on the grassy bank.

‘May I join you?’ she asked.

‘You will get grass stains on your gown.’  Elrohir opened out his robe to spread it wide between him and his brother.

‘It still seems bizarre to have you concerned about such matters as grass stains,’ his naneth observed as she squeezed between them, taking a hand of each and holding them in her lap.

Elladan smiled wryly.  ‘Are we not old enough yet to take some thought for such matters?’

Her hands were small in theirs, she thought, and they held her gently – as she had once held them: each of them a treasure to be cherished.  ‘Old enough,’ she agreed, ‘wise enough, courageous enough – you are more than sufficient for any challenge that faces you, my sons.  And I am sorry that I have been the cause of so many hurts for you both.’

Elladan slid his free arm around her waist and held her closely.  ‘You have been our inspiration,’ he said fiercely.

‘I would not have chosen to inspire your wrath.’  She stroked his palm gently.  ‘I would have you still as my joy-filled ellyn – to whom each day was a new adventure.’

‘We would not have been that whatever happened,’ Elrohir touched her cheek.  ‘Time passes, Naneth, even among elves, and experience shadows us all.’

‘And would you have it touch your children?’ she asked.

‘I would keep them safe if I could,’ he admitted, ‘but I know better than to think I can.’  He smiled.  ‘You showed us, Naneth, you and Adar: you guide them and you love them and you set them free.’

She sighed.  ‘And sometimes,’ she said ruefully, ‘you hurt them quite unintentionally.’   Her sons stilled.  ‘It was such a little thing,’ she added, ‘but it grew out of all recognition.’  Her clasp on their hands tightened.  ‘You were so young – so full of mischief.  It seemed hardly any time since Imladris had been on constant alert to try to thwart your waywardness.’

‘Our first real mission for Adar,’ Elladan agreed reminiscently.  ‘We thought we were so grown up.  Glorfindel showed remarkable courage in agreeing to be our escort.  Elrin is far less trouble than we were – but I would still think twice about accompanying him and his friends on a trip to Tirion.  They would not intend to get into trouble, but disaster follows adolescents as sure as night follows day.’

‘You always tried your best,’ his naneth said indignantly. ‘You both worked hard to make your Adar proud of you – you never intended to get into trouble.’

The twins’ eyes met.  It had been, at times, harder to live up to their naneth’s pride in them than to their adar’s expectations.  Glorfindel’s calm discipline had sometimes been a relief to two young Peredhel growing up as the heirs of their indomitable lines.

‘Well,’ Elrohir hedged, ‘we were not malicious.’

‘I doubt that anyone intended to allow the jest to extend this far,’ Celebrían sighed.  ‘It seemed funny – you had scarcely reached your majority and you felt you knew everything.’

‘We should have been suspicious,’ Elladan told her.  ‘Had we been a little older . . .’

‘Or younger,’ his brother interrupted.

Elladan nodded, ‘Or younger,’ he agreed, ‘we would have smelled a rat – but we were adult.  We were warriors.  Why would we suspect that these – representatives of an inferior race were fooling us?  With Glorfindel’s tacit consent,’ he scowled.

‘We thought we were being so clever,’ Elrohir shrugged. 

‘I thought it was adorable,’ Celebrían confided.  ‘Like elflings copying what they see and hear.  It made it seem as if you were still my fun-loving young sons instead of two warriors old enough for battle.’

Without thought, both twins leaned towards their naneth and pressed a gentle kiss on each cheek.

‘Your daernaneth was less certain of the wisdom of keeping the secret,’ she confessed.  ‘She felt that silence might make more of the matter.’  She looked at their linked hands.  ‘She was right.’

‘She makes a habit of it,’ Elrohir remarked.

‘None could have expected this foolishness to take on such a life of its own,’ Elladan declared.  ‘We do not blame you, Naneth.’  He lifted her hand and held it to his cheek. ‘If it afforded you pleasure, then I do not care what anyone else thought.’

‘There were times,’ she said in a low voice, ‘over the many years I waited on this side of the sea, when the afternoon spent with your daernaneth while you laughed in the water was one of the jewels on the thread of my life, taken out and savoured.’

‘Then I am glad,’ Elrohir told her, ‘that the secret endured so long.’

‘Just,’ Elladan added with a wicked grin, ‘do not tell Adar and Glorfindel.  We are not ready to let them off the hook so easily.’

 





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