“It is my horse. It is. It is! Give him to me…!”
“No it isn’t, it’s mine – see, his ear is broken…”
”You just did that now – your one has the other ear broken….”
The twin sons of Elrond of Imladris, small mirror images of one another, were equal in height and weight, but differences in temperament marked their approach to such a disagreement. Elladan was the more stubborn of the two, less willing to give ground, a miniature warrior reminiscent of his father who, long before their birth, had stood beside the High King at the final battle. Elrohir was normally of a more placid nature and open to reasonable discussion, a reflection in some way that had nothing to do with appearance of his mother, Celebrían of Lórien.
However, faced with his brother’s frustrating obstinacy, he finally did something his lady mother would never have considered, although it was an action that might have been familiar to his grandmother, Galadriel, the youngest of five children and the only girl. He bit. Hard.
The shrieks and tears that followed were interrupted by a firm voice that cut through to ask, loudly, “All right, what is this all about?”
Had it been their father, Elrond, they would have denied there was anything amiss, not wishing to trouble him. Had it been Erestor, their father’s senior advisor, who had silky black hair and clear, amber eyes that never, ever seemed to overlook a single one of their sins, they would have supported one another and told some vague tale of an accident.
The question came from Glorfindel, however, and the idea of telling him anything less than the truth would never have occurred to them. Firstly, he was a famous warrior, and had even killed a balrog. Secondly, he was a great lord, almost as great as their father who was lord of Imladris, so great that even the Valar respected him, so great that he could even tease Erestor into laughing when he should have been angry.
“Roh bit me…”
“Did not – he did take my horsey…”
“Is not your horse, is my horse, is got a broken ear…”
The voice, pitched so that it could have been heard above the roar of battle, silenced them with a word. They stood side by side, unconsciously seeking support from one another in the face of adult disapproval, and looked up at him – quite a distance up, in fact. Glorfindel was taller even than their Adar.
He seemed to have just come in from riding, for he was dressed in loose leggings, a belted tunic and worn-looking suede boots, and had his hair loosely tied back rather than braided, as he did when he was training or working. His golden hair, hanging over one shoulder, glinted in the sunlight, his dark gold brows were lowered in displeasure, and his summer blue eyes were thoughtful.
“Right. Now, one at a time, youngest first. What was that all about?”
“Dan took my horse to play with, and he breaks things, and I wanted it back, and he said it was his horse, but it isn’t, it’s mine.”
“Thank you, Elrohir,” Glorfindel said gravely, before turning to the tear-streaked face of the other child. “Now you, Elladan.”
He was confronted by sad grey eyes and a protruding lip and silence. Finally Elladan said, “Roh did bite me.”
Glorfindel nodded. “I see.Tell me, whose horse is it really, Elladan?”
The small head was bowed for a minute, and there were a few sniffing sounds. Eventually, in a low voice, Elladan said, “It b’longs to Roh.” He looked up then, and his voice and expression became urgent. “But I did think it was my horse first. But then I did see it was not but I wanted to play with it – and I do so not break things, Roh,” he added, turning to his twin. “Only sometimes.”
Glorfindel, standing with arms folded, raised a hand to stroke his upper lip, fortuitously hiding his mouth which was unable to refrain from twitching in amusement.
“All right, now,” he said. “Is there more to this or have you each stated your side honestly, as we would in a warrior’s tribunal?”
Two dark heads nodded in unison, two pairs of grey eyes were turned up to him again, waiting.
“Very well then.” he continued. “This in brief is how I see things at the moment, if you wish to have a piece of my mind as plain as possible. Firstly, Elrohir. You bit your brother. I do not know what put it into your head, or your heart, to do that. Biting is something animals do, never elves, and you are not to do it again.”
Elladan shot his brother a look of triumph from under long lashes, Elrohir glowered back at him. Glorfindel, however, was far from finished.
“On the other hand, you, Elladan, took something that was not yours to take and when asked to return it, you lied.”
The word hung between them in the air like a foul odour. Elladan’s eyes started to fill with tears again. Glorfindel sighed softly, and crouched down before them, a big hand on each child’s shoulder. Even crouching he was taller than they. He gave them both a gentle shake and said quietly,
“If you are going to go around biting and taking things that aren’t yours and being less than exact with the truth, people will look at you and say ‘ah, so this is the way Elrond and Celebrían of Imladris raise their children…’ Eyes will always be on you,” he continued, drawing them closer to him and wiping a palm across Elladan’s cheek to clear away the last of the tears. “So you must learn now, always behave in a way that brings honour to your family. That includes not only no more biting or taking things that aren’t yours… even if it does just belong to your brother, Elladan,” he added firmly before he could be interrupted. “It also means no more brawling in public. Clear?”
Two dark heads nodded. “Yes, Hîren.”
“Now I want you both to apologise,” the golden warrior said, looking from one to the other pair of clear grey eyes, so very like their father’s. “Do so as you would to anyone else you’d offended – just because he is your brother doesn’t mean you don’t have to show him the same courtesy you would to a stranger.”
Mirror images turned to one another, small hands reached out, clasped wrists.
As they spoke at the same time it sounded more like “SorryRon”, Glorfindel noted, with a snort of amusement. Rising to his feet, he ruffled dark hair with a return to the casual affection with which he normally treated them.
‘Now can I suggest you take that horse and go and find its mate? And perhaps,” he added, giving their shoulders a final, quick shake before pushing them lightly in the direction of the House, “perhaps it would be a good idea to ask someone with a fine hand to mark your names on things that might get mixed up?”
As the twins ran off to find the missing toy, a voice from behind a nearby tree asked dryly, “Never bitten anyone in the heat of battle before, Master Clean and Pure?”
Glorfindel strode over and stood looking down at Erestor, who was leaning back against the tree, a basket beside him containing scrolls, books, and bundles of notes. Across his lap he had a board, which was serving as a makeshift desk. The chief advisor had apparently decided the weather was too good to spend the day indoors, and had brought his work out with him.
Glorfindel grinned down at him. “Erestor, the only times I’ve ever bitten anyone, the battlefield was private. There might have been a few screams, but there were definitely no complaints about my conduct.”
Beta: Red Lasbelin