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History Lessons  by Nilmandra

Chapter 16: Things Learned in the Library

Elrond left the twins’ room as they settled peacefully into sleep.   Their words hung as a weight upon his heart, and now the words spoken by the Valar 3000 years earlier, burned into his mind then, had renewed their fires in his soul.   His choice to be counted among the Eldar had opened a door for his children to make a choice as well. He wished with everything in him to slam that door and seal it shut, never to be opened again.  

The pain of Elros’ choice was fresh again this night. He had spoken of it little since the day Elros had announced his fate. Their choices had driven them apart, Elros to Númenor and the kingdom he would rule, and Elrond to Lindon, where he had served Gil-Galad.   The final sundering of their bond at Elros’ death, long expected, had been less painful in many ways than the knife-blow that had separated their dooms that day before the Valar.   Tonight the words of his sons, still too young to fully understand, had given rise to a creeping fear that one day Elrond would face such a separation again, this time from one of his children.

He leaned against the wall in the empty corridor, his head resting against his hands on the cool plaster. He swallowed hard, pushing his fear down deep within himself.   He willed his body to comply with his wishes for control, slowing his heart and controlling his breathing. Thus he stayed for several minutes.

“Do not borrow trouble from the future.” Galadriel’s soft voice interrupted his thoughts.

Elrond felt the cool touch of her mind upon his, and he willingly allowed her access to his thoughts and fears.   His memories and his pain were easily read so close to the surface of his thoughts, and his fears as well.

“If it were possible to take away your pain, I would.”

Her words were soothing, cooling the fiery ache.

“You must understand, Elrond Peredhil, that your fate and the fates of the ones you love are tied to the fate of Middle-Earth. This is not by your choice, but you have a responsibility to see it through to the end, as do I.”

Elrond felt the steely determination in her words, but also an undercurrent of pain as well.   He lifted his head from the wall and opened his eyes to face his mother-in-law.   Suddenly he was five years old again, and looking upon the most beautiful female elf he had ever seen.   He had known even then that she was powerful and had kept his distance from her.   Elros had not. He would crawl up into her lap or sit next to her, and demand her attention for all that he had to say.   But as they grew older, Elros would seek out her wisdom less and less, while Elrond gladly absorbed all she could teach him. He knew of her gift of foresight, and as his eyes met hers he saw her pain, and his fear flared suddenly.


One word and one slender hand rose to silence his questions. He knew she could read his thoughts, that she knew his question.

“Why did you allow your daughter to bind herself to me knowing that this choice would stand before our children one day?” he asked.

“Allow?” Galadriel laughed softly.

She reached forward and stroked his cheek gently for a moment, then slipped her hands back into the folds of her gown, and began to walk slowly down the corridor. Elrond fell wordlessly into step with her.

“You loved my daughter, and she you, from the moment you first laid eyes upon each other,” Galadriel answered. “I would not deny my daughter the one she desired because I feared pain for her, or for her father and me, in the future. Celebrían loves you and bound herself to you for all eternity.” Galadriel paused, then laughed softly again. “She is my daughter, Elrond, but she is her own person.   She made her choice to marry you with clarity of mind.   She knows that your children could make a decision such as that of Elros or Lúthien. It did not cloud her love for you, or her desire to spend all the time she was given with you.”

Galadriel stopped near the entrance to Elrond and Celebrían’s chamber, and turned to face him. She studied him for a moment, and Elrond met her gaze unflinchingly.   At last she spoke.

“Wise and powerful you have grown, Elrond. Great responsibility you have taken upon yourself, and greater responsibility yet has been entrusted to you.   Our choices leave us bound to Middle-Earth, and her fate, perhaps, is wrapped up in that which we carry.   Evil remains, and the curse of the Valar still stands. Together we will stand until the fate of this age is met.”

With those cryptic words, Galadriel turned and glided away, turning the corner of the corridor and disappearing from Elrond’s sight.   He pondered her words again and was struck by how deftly she had turned his personal fears and concerns to the broader fears and concerns of Middle-Earth.  

He entered his chamber to find Celebrían waiting for him.   Tangible signs of her love for him were evident, from the prepared bath with warmed towels and goblet of his favorite wine, to the unspoken message in her eyes.   A smile crossed his face as she rose from their bed, a short dressing gown draped loosely about her that fell open as she wrapped her arms about him.

He returned the embrace, momentarily both annoyed and amused that his concerns could be so quickly brushed aside by the temptation that was his nearly naked wife in his arms.   He kissed her tenderly and then laughed as her nimble fingers began to unfasten the clasps of his robe.

“You promised me that we would practice, meleth-nín ,” she whispered between kisses.

Elrond’s mind danced back through the last several days to recall his wife’s desire for a daughter and his promise to practice conceiving her until the time was ripe for the actual begetting to occur.

“Glorfindel will be so pleased that we managed to do so in the privacy of our own chambers,” he whispered in her ear as he decided that the ear in question was in need of being nibbled.   “Do not expect perfection for some time.”

“Nay,” Celebrían breathed with a small cry of pleasure as his tongue danced upon the sensitive flesh. “I suspect it will take us many years of practice to make perfect.”

* * *

Galadriel entered the Hall of Fire as a crescendo of the minstrel’s song rose and filled the air about her.   She lowered herself gracefully on to the pile of cushions next to her husband and relaxed into his side as his arm pulled her close.   Glorfindel sat just beyond them, his long fingers preparing his harp for a turn with the minstrels.

“Where are Elrond and Celebrían?” Celeborn asked quietly.

“Practicing,” answered Galadriel cryptically.

Celeborn’s brow arched in question, but he was distracted by a laugh on his other side.   He watched as Glorfindel rose with his harp, a knowing smile upon his face, and joined the minstrels.   The hall quieted as he began a romantic ballad telling the tale of enduring love.

* * *

Their breakfast was finished and their parents had not been seen yet that morning, so Elladan and Elrohir slipped quietly away from the dining hall before another adult decided how they would spend their day, and headed for their classroom.   Their passage went unnoticed as Elrohir was now moving so well on his cast that the plaster made barely a sound as he walked on the hardwood floors.

“Which book has the maps?” Elladan asked as he looked at the books lining the shelves on the side of the room.

“This one,” Elrohir pulled out a large tome and carried it to the table.   He carefully opened the pages and began searching for the map he wanted.

Elladan tapped his fingers impatiently as Elrohir patiently turned the pages, then finally turned his attention to their experiments of the week before.   He liked how Istuion had taken some of their toys and showed them how or why they worked.   He looked forward to Ada taking the splint off his arm, for then he would be able to use both hands and could try building one of the things Istuion had shown him.

“It is not in here,” Elrohir finally said.   “There must be a map of Beleriand in the library.   Come on.”

Elladan watched as Elrohir maneuvered his big heavy foot around the table and walked down the hall.   He stayed several steps behind his brother, giggling at nearly every step.

Elrohir finally stopped and turned to him, his arms crossed over his chest and a frustrated look on his face. “Why are you laughing at me?”

Elladan giggled again.   “I am not.   I am laughing at the worm on your foot.   Every step you take he pops up and smiles at me.”

“Oh,” Elrohir laughed then too.   He looked as far over his shoulder as he could and tipped his foot up so he could see the bottom.   The worm smiled up at him. He giggled and the two laughing youngsters made their way to the library.

Elladan pushed open the heavy door as they reached their ada’s favorite room.   The room was warm and smelled of paper and parchment and ink.   Shelves lined the walls, filled with books with all different kinds of bindings, and scrolls, rolled and tied with soft leather thongs.    More bookcases made aisles in the room, and tables and chairs were placed in corners and nooks for secluded study.

“The maps are over here,” Elrohir whispered as he headed for the far corner of the library.

“Why are you whispering?” Elladan asked.

“Because we are in the library. You are supposed to be quiet in the library because someone might be reading,” Elrohir whispered, exasperated.

“We are the only ones in here,” Elladan reminded his brother.

“Oh.   Well, be quiet anyway. It is good practice,” Elrohir admonished him return. “Come on.”

Elladan followed his brother obediently, for he seldom helped Istuion pick out or carry the items they were to study from the library to the classroom, and thus did not know where certain items were most likely to be found.   Elrohir loved the books and maps and had their adar’s permission to come to the library to pick out books to read.   He had had permission too, until Ada found out that he was using the books he borrowed to make bridges and towers for his pretend village.    Elladan frowned at the memory of his ada finding his books all over the floor, haphazardly piled where they had fallen after a particularly violent battle in his little town.   He had been scolded, then had to carry each book back to the library, one trip per book, and then had to sit on his bed for the rest of the day.   Elrohir had joined him in his punishment, bringing of all things – a book.   But it had been a book about battles and they had read it aloud to each other for the whole evening.   Ada had found them and nearly sent Elrohir away, for he said it was hardly punishment when Elladan enjoyed it so much, but Nana had pulled Ada from the room and winked at them, so Elrohir had guessed that Nana had taken Ada off to kiss him.

Elladan stuck out his tongue at the thought.   He still did not believe Elrohir about that.   Why would Ada and Nana go off to kiss? They kissed all the time in front of them.   Elrohir said sometimes parents kissed more passionately alone.   Elladan rolled his eyes at his brother’s back as he thought of that big word.   He knew what it meant, or at least he thought he did.

“El, over here,” Elrohir whispered and motioned for his twin to hurry up.

Elrohir carefully spread out the old yellowed parchment on the small table in the corner of the room, securing the edges with two heavy books.   He swatted Elladan’s hand away when Elladan reached to touch it. “Wipe your hands on your tunic.   You do not touch old parchment unless your hands are very clean and dry.”

Elladan rubbed his hands against his tunic, but refrained from touching the parchment again.  

“This is Beleriand,” Elrohir said quietly.   “See, here is Sirion, where Ada was born.   And here is Balar, where King Gil-Galad and Círdan the Shipwright lived. I cannot tell where their house was, though.   But, look this symbol means cliffs, so maybe Uncle Elros jumped off this one with the sail.”

Elladan leaned over the map carefully.   “Look, ‘Ro!” he whispered excitedly.   “This is Angband, Morgoth’s stronghold! This is where the War of Wrath was fought.”

Elrohir traced a line on the map with the tip of his finger.   “This is where the elves of Aman and the Valar marched to go to war with them. Do you think Ada will continue to tell us about Elros and how they grew up and went to war?”

Elladan shrugged.   “If we ask him to, I am sure he will.   Glorfindel will tell us too.”

“Glorfindel was dead when all this happened,” Elrohir reminded him.

Both children were silent as they considered this sobering fact.   “I want to know why Uncle Elros chose to die like a Man and why Glorfindel came back here,” Elladan finally said.

The sound of the door opening interrupted the twins and they heard their ada’s voice, followed by their nana’s voice. Elladan put his finger to his lips to silence his brother, who would have called out a greeting to them.   They would surprise them instead. They crept silently forward to the edge of a bookcase and then peered around it.

* * *

Elrond laughed softly as Celebrían pinned him playfully against the now closed library door.   His eyes swept the room but saw no one. He allowed her to tug his head down and capture his lips, her tongue seeking entrance to his mouth.   He let her play dominant for a moment, but then reached his hands down to cup her backside and press her firmly to him.

“You are insatiable,” she murmured.

“You instigated this,” he playfully responded as he freed her breasts from the constraints of her bodice, then lowered his head to indulge his desire to taste her.   Her head was thrown back as he held her with one arm that had crept under her skirts to hold her about the hips, and the other aided his lips in finding what they were seeking.

Voices in the hallway stilled their passions, and Elrond quickly allowed his wife’s skirt to fall gracefully about her hips again, while her fingers swiftly closed up her bodice.   As the voices faded, he pulled her close once again and kissed her deeply.

“Now, I must gather the scrolls I need and meet with Erestor,” he said regretfully.

Celebrían smiled in return.   “I shall go see where our sons are off to this morning. Thank you for a most wonderful night. And morning,” she added.

With one last kiss she slipped out the door, and Elrond turned to find the scrolls he had been seeking.   A slight noise caught his attention and he walked to the far bookcases.   He leaned over and his eyes met those of his sons, Elladan’s reflecting shock and Elrohir’s accompanied by a grin. With a sigh he lowered his head to the top of the bookcase.

* * *

Elladan watched in shock as his Nana and Ada kissed and fondled each other.   He could feel Elrohir’s silent laughter next to him and knew his brother would be saying ‘I told you so’ as soon as their parents left.    They heard voices in the hall too, and suddenly their ada dropped their nana’s skirt and she fastened up her gown, and then left the room.   Elladan watches his adar’s feet disappear behind some bookcases and he clutched Elrohir’s hand, hoping Ada would find what he came for and then leave.

He heard a noise then, and looked up with shocked eyes to see his father looking at them over the bookcase.  

Elrohir laughed and nudged his brother.   “I told you so. Come on, El, lets ask Ada about the map!”

Elrohir got to his feet with a grace unexpected while wearing the cast, and moved back to the table.   Elladan stood slowly, staring at his adar until finally Elrond raised his eyes to meet those of his son.

“Ada,” Elrohir interrupted them,   “where on this map were you when Elros jumped off the cliff?”

Elladan watched his adar sigh and walk towards him.   He put an arm around Elladan’s shoulders and walked with him to the table.

“I need to go meet with Erestor and give him these scrolls,” Elrond finally answered.   “I will be back in a few minutes and show you then.   Wait for me here.”

* * *

Elrond closed the library door behind him and leaned against it for a moment.   His chagrin at being caught by his children soon turned to amusement, and a chuckle came from deep within him and he laughed aloud.

“A fine morning, then?” Glorfindel approached him from behind.

“Very fine,” Elrond grinned.   “Take these to Erestor. I will join you later.” Elrond entered the library again as Glorfindel took the scrolls with a bemused look and left to deliver them. Elrond paused to listen to the twins, who apparently had not realized he had returned.

“But how did you know they did that ?” Elladan was asking.

Elrohir laughed, and from the breathlessness of the laughter, Elrond knew he had been laughing.   “They do it all the time, El!   You just never see it.   I am sure other parents do it, too.”

“But Ada was kissing Nana’s breasts !   And she liked it!” Elladan exclaimed.

Elrond felt warmth rising in his cheeks at his son’s comment, and was torn between wishing they had not been behaving in the manner witnessed by their sons, and remembering how much he had been enjoying it too. He cleared his throat to announce his presence.

“Ada!   You were fast.   Now can you look at this map with us?” Elrohir asked, already leaning over the map again.

Elrond sighed and sat down at the table by his sons.   Elladan was still watching him with a dubious look, and Elrohir was waiting for him to start poring over the map.   He did not know which disconcerted him more.

“In a moment, Elrohir,” he answered, turning instead to Elladan.   “Elladan, I am sorry that your mother and I were not more careful about showing our affection where others were present.   We did not know you were in here.”

Elladan stared at his father for a moment. “We were going to jump out and surprise you,” he said after a moment, reproach in his eyes.

Elrond laughed.   “Yes, and you would have surprised us.”

Elrohir giggled, and Elladan glowered at him.   Elrond sighed.

“Elladan, what in particular upset you?” Elrond tried a different approach.

Elladan kept his head down, picking at the wrap on his splint.   “Elrohir knew that you did that and I did not.”

Elrond bit his lip to keep from laughing.   “So, you are not upset that I was kissing your naneth, but that Elrohir knew that we kissed like that?”

Elladan nodded and Elrohir giggled again.

“Elrohir, how exactly did you know that we did that ?” Elrond inquired.  

Elrohir grinned.   “I have seen you and Nana before, Ada.   And sometimes out in the gardens there are elves kissing, but not like you and Nana just did.   They only kiss on the face.”

Elrond nodded while biting the inside of his mouth to keep his laughter from bursting out.   Elrohir was very perceptive!   He turned his attention to the map.   “What did you want to know?”

“Ada, did you ever see something you were not supposed to see, like we did?” Elladan interrupted his father’s and brother’s musing over the map.

Elrond stopped and thought for a moment.   “Yes, Elros and I were once in Círdan’s library when we overheard something that was not meant for our ears.” He smiled as his sons sat at attention, waiting for him to continue. “It was not about kissing though…”

 ~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

“Quiet!” Elros whispered, laying a restraining hand on his brother’s arm.  He sank against the wall, pulling Elrond down with him.   He watched as several elves streamed in the open door, gathering around the large table in the middle of the room.

Elrond sat motionless, his keen eyes and ears focused on the powerful elves seated around the table.   They did not seem to know that the two peredhil were present, and curiosity to hear what would be discussed led the youngsters to not disclose their presence.  

“. . . men on the shores near Sirion,” Círdan began.   “More and more men are arriving from over the Blue Mountains, and they have traveled far even to come into Ossiriand.”

“Are they in league with Morgoth?” asked a voice unknown to either of the twins.

“By all appearances, yes,” Gil-Galad answered.   “Scouts have tracked them on a course to Angband. Men loyal to the Elves remain, but their numbers diminish, and they, like us, are pushed ever to the sea.”

“Morgoth will strike us when he senses the timing is right,” Galadriel spoke quietly.   “We are a small remnant of what used to be, gathered here on the Isle of Balar.   His Dragons and Balrogs increase in number, his orcs multiply and more men are drawn to serve him.   The day will come when they will seek to exterminate the last of the Elves from Middle-Earth.   Those of the Edain who stand with us shall fall with us.”

“Then what hope have we?” asked the unknown voice. “Do we sit and wait for our doom? Wait for death to claim us and our souls to be summoned by Mandos himself?”

Círdan stood.   “Our plea for help has been heard and help will arrive. We must continue to fortify our defenses here on Balar and aid the Edain who gather at the shores.”

“When, Círdan?   Do you receive any foreknowledge of when the Valar may come to aid us?” Gil-Galad asked, already knowing the answer but asking for the sake of those who did not.

“What confidence have you that the Valar will come?   Aye, a new star rose and you say in this there is a message of hope, a sign that your messenger was favorably received.   But what proof have you that this is true?” another unknown voice spoke.

“One who has seen a Silmaril in its glory knows that this is the star that sails the night sky,” Círdan answered simply.

“Messages may come by sea and by dream, by means that mortals may not comprehend and perhaps many an Elf cannot comprehend either,” Galadriel answered. “Aid shall come.   I agree with Círdan that defending this Isle and our allies until help arrives is the only course of action we can take.   We have not the strength to fight Morgoth, not even if everyone on this isle could bear arms and fight valiantly.”

“Then this is your council?” the unknown voice was incredulous.   “This is what the fair beings of Balar have to offer?”

“Men have not the strength to fight Morgoth, nor even to stop the flow of men turning to his side,” the first unknown voice answered.   “We sent for aid one who could speak for both kindreds. I believe the message has been received and we have only to wait for the Valar to act.   I shall council my people to wait.”

“Your people are welcome on Balar,” offered Gil-Galad.

“Your offer is kind and will be considered,” the voice answered, now distinguishable as a Man’s. “We will continue to reside in our own lands unless danger draws near.   Our scouts will continue to aid yours, in the hopes of extending the reach of our knowledge.”

There were other voices of agreement, and then chairs were moved and everyone stood as the visitors were escorted from the room. The room was soon quiet and dim, as the lantern had been extinguished. Elros finally shifted and spoke.

“Those were men from the mainland,” he said quietly. “I have seen some of them at the shipyards.”

Elrond was silent for along moment.   “Elros, nearly all of the Noldor elves that came to Middle-Earth have died.   Only Maedhros and Maglor and some of their followers, and Galadriel are left.   Gil-Galad is High King, but he was born here.   All of the great strongholds are destroyed – Nargothrond, Doriath, Gondolin, the Falas, and Sirion. We are all there is left.   Morgoth will come to destroy us. How do you think Círdan knows that help will come from Valinor? What does the sea tell him?”

Elros shook his head.   “I do not know what the sea tells him.   He has some power over it, for I have seen him raise his voice and silence the tumult.”

“Gil-Galad, Galadriel and Celeborn all believe him,” Elrond mused.

“What will Middle-Earth be like if it is rid of Morgoth and all who serve him?” Elros wondered.   “I would build a great port on the westernmost shore.   If the Valar do come, perhaps we can go to them when we want.”

“Do you like sailing the ships, Elros?” Elrond changed the subject.

Elros sat up straight against the bookshelf, his head leaning back to touch the bindings.   “I love the sea, Elrond.   I love the ships and sailing.   I have seen villages of men along the coast, and we speak to them and fish with them.   Someday I will build ships like Círdan and maybe even my own port.”

Elrond was silent again, deep in thought.  

“You have begun training with the sword,” Elros stated.

“Gil-Galad said all will be trained in the sword and defense, no matter what other craft they may practice,” Elrond answered.

“I think you will be quite good,” Elros turned to face his brother. “I watched you from the ship yesterday.”

“It is odd being the age we are.   The others in training are so much older than we are,” Elrond   spoke as he stood.   He held his hand out to his brother, and pulled him gracefully to his feet. “They are more skilled as well.”

Standing side by side the differences in the two was most remarkable.   Elros was taller by several inches, broader through the chest and shoulders and heavily muscled all over.   His skin was bronzed from long hours working under the sun at sea or in the shipyards.   His mind was astute and Círdan and others tutored him in the sciences and the craft of shipbuilding.

Elrond remained slender, his muscles lean and his skin pale.   His mind was very sharp, and while elflings of sixteen years played and learned at the rate of elven children, Elrond served in Gil-Galad’s court with elves more than twice his own age. Their long years of gathering knowledge and experience shamed and frustrated him at times, for their depth and breadth of knowledge far exceeded his own.   

Elros eyed his brother up and down, noting the fatigue and weariness that seemed to infuse his very being.   He felt suddenly angry, wondering why Gil-Galad could not see this in one who lived within his own household. “You are tired, brother,” he said suddenly.

Elrond yawned and then shook his head sharply.   “I am glad for the swordplay, for it is a good skill to have and I wish to defend our people should the need arise.   But the others are more advanced, so the master works longer hours with me.   All of the young elves serving in Gil-Galad’s court have studied the arts of healing and history and lore, whereas I have barely begun them.   I have much to learn yet,” he admitted ruefully.

Elros was silent for a long moment, reflecting upon the differences in circumstances between them.   “At sea I am able to do what others my size can do, and they readily teach me what I have not yet learned.    I think perhaps they ask more of you, brother, than might be possible.”

Elrond bristled at Elros’ words, and Elros stepped back a pace.   “Come, Elrond, you are weary, as am I. Let us go beg a snack from the kitchen and then lie on the beach under the stars.   If that star is the Silmaril, perhaps our father or mother is with it, and we can think of them this night.”

Elrond allowed his brother to lead him to the door. “I wonder if our father and mother felt as we do, having both mortal and immortal blood,” he mused as the door closed behind him.

* * *  

Círdan sat silently in the corner until the twins had left the room, and then rose to his feet and left himself. A small smile caught at the crook of his mouth, for he well recalled the way Eärendil and Elwing had risen as Lord and Lady to their people, when by age they were still children in the eyes of the Eldar. Eärendil had been the pride of both kindreds, and in Elros Círdan saw the same fiery determination to build and explore and succeed.  

But about Elrond he would speak to Gil-Galad, for in this child the mortal blood ran thin. His desires and skills were of elven-kind, and could not be mastered in the short years of a mortal life. A picture of Ereinion at sixteen, less than half the height Elrond now stood, playing in the shallow waters of the Falas came to his mind.   The child had explored everything deeply and thoroughly – much as the one he mentored longed to do.

* * *

Gil-Galad strode into the dining room with his characteristic flare and smile to notice that only two places were set.   Círdan grunted in reply to his greeting and continued eating and perusing the scroll in his hand.

“Where are Elros and Elrond?” Gil-Galad finally asked.

“Sleeping,” Círdan replied.

Gil-Galad waited for further explanation, then sighed in exasperation when none was forthcoming.   He rose to go wake the wayward youths.

“Let them sleep,” Círdan ordered.

Gil-Galad resumed his seat and stared expectantly at the gruff old mariner.   Círdan finished his review of the document and then neatly rerolled it and set it to the side.  

“You are pushing Elrond too hard,” Círdan stated without preamble.

Gil-Galad looked surprised, then narrowed his eyes in suspicion.   “He has not come to me with complaints of his education and training.”

“Nor has he come to me,” Círdan informed him.   He stared at Gil-Galad for a moment, garnering the picture of him as an elfling.   “How did you spend your days when you were sixteen, Ereinion?”

“I hardly think that Elrond would be content to play with elflings half his size in the pools near the beach,” replied Gil-Galad dryly.

“I agree,” replied Círdan amiably.   “Yet he has started swordplay with elves who have been swinging a blade since before he was born.   His strength nearly matches them, but his grace does not.   So he works many more hours to try to match their skill.   He is one of the brightest minds I have known; yet his schooling is many, many years less than those he serves in court with.   So the child reads late into every night, absorbing all the knowledge he can to be on equal ground with the others.   He is but a child, Ereinion, and a very weary one at that.”

Gil-Galad was quiet for a moment.   “If you saw all this, why did you not speak of it before?”

Círdan snorted.   “I did not know, because I am as blind as you.   They overheard our conversation in the library last evening, and I then overheard theirs.”

“Why has Elrond not spoken to me?” Gil-Galad asked curiously.

“Because he does not see this himself.   Elros has returned from two weeks at sea, and much was clear to his eyes, for he loves his brother.”

“How is it that you convinced him to sleep this morning?”

Círdan flushed slightly, but none but one who knew him well would notice.   “I convinced him without his permission.”

Gil-Galad laughed aloud.   “You sedated the child!   Círdan, what possessed you to do such a thing?”

“I looked deep into his eyes and saw a weariness that should never be seen among children.   It is the weariness I saw in you when you came to the Falas, the weariness of children who are pushed to their limit. I regret that I had not seen it before,” admitted Círdan.

Gil-Galad sobered at the statement.   “I will adjust his training and schedule, Círdan.   Perhaps I will take a few days with him to determine where we must alter his course.”

* * *

Gil-Galad stood in the doorway to the twins’ room.   They still preferred to share a chamber, and Elros sat now on the edge of his brother’s bed as Elrond slept. Elros turned to meet Gil-Galad’s eyes.

“Why is he still sleeping?” Elros asked, confused. “It is long past noon and soon evening will be upon us. He will be most upset that he missed lessons and training.”

Gil-Galad sat on the other side of Elrond’s bed and gently stroked the dark hair away from his face, tucking it behind an ear.   The youngster did not stir.

“Círdan sedated him,” admitted Gil-Galad, a slight smile tugging at the corner of his mouth as he saw Elros’ eyes widen.   “Elrond pushes himself past endurance and we did not notice, Elros.   You are both yet children.”

Elros grinned.   “He wants to know everything.   He wants to who everybody was, and everything they did, and why they did it, and how. He wants to know why things work, and what plants are good for, and how to heal the sick.   He wants to know about men and dwarves and why Morgoth is here and all about the Valar and Maiar in Aman.”

Gil-Galad smiled back at Elros.   “One day he will be my greatest councilor for all those reasons.”

“Gil-Galad, how long will we live?”

Gil-Galad did not even pretend to not understand the question.   “I do not know, Elros.   You and Elrond are the only Peredhil in Middle-Earth, your mother and father left while still young, and your grandfather Dior died when he was still young by the reckoning of either kindred. I do not know, once you are fully grown, whether you will age only slowly as the elves, or quickly as do the mortals.”

Elros was quiet for a long moment as he watched the slow rise and fall of his brother’s chest. “When do you think the Valar will come?” he asked quietly, not daring to meet Gil-Galad’s eyes.

Gil-Galad laughed softly.   “So you did overhear that.   I do not know, Elros. Ask Círdan, for his knowledge comes through the sea – perhaps from Ulmo himself.    He is very confident that they will come, as is Galadriel.   Of those living in Balar, they are the only ones to have met the Valar face to face.” He rested his hand briefly on Elrond’s chest, then rose.   “Come, he will not wake for some time yet.   I hear that you visited a sea-village of men.   Come and tell me what you heard and saw there.”

Gil-Galad escorted Elros from the room and shut the door softly behind him.

~ ~ ~* * *~ ~ ~

Elrond looked at the somewhat troubled faces of his sons as he finished the story, and paused when Elrohir seemed to gather his thoughts to ask a question.

“Ada, you and Uncle Elros were fast growing, like the mortals?” Elrohir finally asked.

“Yes, we grew very fast.   We were fully grown by the time we were twenty years old, whereas the elves were fifty years old before they were fully grown.”

“Ada, are you glad you chose to be an elf?” Elladan asked.

“Yes, I am glad.   If I had not, I would not have met your mother or had you for my sons.”

Elrohir flashed a grin and giggled.   “Then you would have no one to kiss like that .”

Elrond rolled his eyes and tugged on a black braid.   “Now I must join Erestor and Glorfindel.   I will see you at lunch.”

As the door shut behind him, Elrond heard laughter and a final snippet of, “Someday I am going to kiss an elleth like that.” He pressed his palms to his forehead and massaged it, then looked up as he heard footsteps approaching.

“Elrond, have you seen the twins?” Celebrían asked as she neared him, concern in her eyes over his apparent headache.

“Yes, they are in the library.   I would not go in there, meleth-nín ,” he warned.  

She looked at him quizzically, and he grinned lecherously at her.   “They have been in the library all morning, melethril .”

“Oh,” she murmured, then patted his hand and began to lead him away.   “You have answered all their questions, I trust?”

“For now, Celebrían.   Might we strike a bargain, dearest? When we have this daughter, you will answer all such questions.”

“Certainly, Elrond. I agree to answer all questions she asks me,” Celebrían clarified with a smile.

* * * * *

Meleth-nín-------------my love
Melethril---------------lover (f)


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