By Any Means Necessary
Before knocking on the door to the twins’ rooms, Celeborn drew in a deep breath, trying to mentally prepare himself. After talking to Elladan, he had gathered that Elrohir would try to avoid opening up to him, but that was something he couldn’t tolerate. He would use all means at his disposal to find out why the half-Elf chose to fade. For he felt it was a choice that Elrohir had made. A *very deliberate* choice. /I wonder who he has fallen in love with that he thinks his love is unrequited./
“Elladan, go away. I am fine!”
Elrohir sounded frustrated, but Celeborn also noticed the resigned tone to the twin’s voice. “I am not Elladan.” He hoped his answer would pique Elrohir’s curiosity.
Celeborn smiled, hearing his grandson’s puzzlement. “Do you not want to welcome your grandfather to Imladris, Elrohir?”
The reaction was instant. The door was opened and Elrohir stood in front of him; hair in wild disarray, pale-skinned and eyes big with worry. /He has also lost weight./ Elrohir definitely looked haunted. “Ah, Elrohir, it is good to see you again!” Not giving the half-Elf a chance to react, Celeborn caught Elrohir in his arms and hugged him tight. That Elrohir tried to pull away from the embrace worried him and he didn’t allow it, holding him tight.
His gaze swept through the room and he fought for calm, seeing the packed saddlebags on Elrohir’s bed. Elladan’s worries were about to come true; Elrohir wanted to leave Imladris. /I won’t allow it./
“Ata’da, what are you doing here? We did not expect you!” Panic echoed in Elrohir’s voice. He had been so close to leaving the Last Homely House unnoticed when Celeborn had appeared.
“I wanted to spend some time with my grandsons,” said Celeborn in a soothing tone. Elrohir was rigid in his arms and he knew extreme measures were needed to get through to Elrohir.
He seldom used his powers. Galadriel’s wisdom and foresight were well known amongst the Elves, but his gifts were more subtle. Using a special tone, he whispered sweetly into Elrohir’s ear, “Your brother told me that you are worried.” At the same time, his fingertips made contact with Elrohir’s skin, caressing the half-Elf’s neck after sweeping away the tangled dark mane. “But there is no reason to worry, Elrohir. I am here and I will protect you. You are safe with me. You can trust me.”
Glancing into Elrohir’s eyes, he found that the pupils were dilating and the half-Elf’s breathing was slowing down, losing its panicky edge. “Aye, that is right. I am here to take care of you. You are safe with me, Elrohir. You can tell me and I will listen without judging you.”
Elrohir was growing heavy in his arms and he easily caught his grandson when the half-Elf swayed on his feet and then collapsed against him. Gently, he lowered his grandson onto the floor and then sat down cross-legged. He guided Elrohir’s head against his shoulder and cradled the half-Elf against him, rocking him like he had done when the twins had been mere babies.
/I hope that you won’t hate me later for doing this, but it is obvious that you won’t tell me what burdens your heart./ Celeborn seldom used his powers in this way. He wasn’t prone to taking advantages of others and when he had learned how hypnotic his voice and touch could be to troubled souls, he had kept himself in check, never abusing this gift. But now he felt it was necessary to attain his goal.
“You are calm now, Elrohir. You feel safe and cherished. You are not alone. I am with you and I will look after you.” Celeborn sought out Elrohir’s eyes and found that they were hooded with relaxation. “Aye, you can let go. All those tense muscles can rest now. You are in good hands.”
Elrohir sighed and his body went limp against him. Celeborn tightened his hold and continued to rock his grandson. /I will find out what you are hiding and then I will fix whatever is troubling you. I am your grandfather and in Elrond’s absence your well-being is my responsibility. I love you too much to let you fade. I could not save Celebrian, but I will save you./
Confident that Elrohir was in a deep trance, he stroked the long hair. “So you are in love, Elrohir. Is that true?”
Elrohir’s voice was barely audible, but Celeborn caught the affirmative. “And now you are fading. Why? Why won’t you tell your beloved?”
Celeborn caught the tremors that coursed through the half-Elf’s body. Even in spite of the enchantment his grandson was clearly uncomfortable discussing this. “Why can’t you tell him?” Trying to deepen their temporary bond farther, Celeborn rested his forehead against Elrohir’s brow, whispering softly. “Tell me why.”
A frown appeared on Celeborn’s brow. “Forbidden? Elrohir, you should know that loving a male is not forbidden. Your father might have preferred for you to fall for a maiden, as he would love for you to start your own family, but he will certainly not condemn you for loving someone of the same gender. There is nothing wrong with that. Love comes in many different forms and you should always treasure it. Tell your chosen one of your feelings.”
“Can… not… forbidden…” Elrohir’s voice took on a frantic tone.
/Can it be that…?/ An unsettling thought entered his mind. /I should have known this would happen!/ But this wasn’t the time to blame himself. First he needed confirmation. “Tell me your beloved’s name. Who has captured your heart, and is causing you to fade?”
Elrohir briefly struggled fiercely in his arms, and Celeborn reacted with more soothing words. In the end, his grandson calmed down and a resigned sigh left the half-Elf’s lips.
“Tell me,” said Celeborn again, using more authority this time. He had a good idea what name would roll from Elrohir’s lips.
“Elladan…” The moment he had whispered his brother’s name, Elrohir’s eyes closed.
/Aiya, I was blind. I should have known history would repeat itself./ It wasn’t the first time he held a heartbroken twin in his arms. “So you are in love with your twin.” He sighed deeply and continued to rock his grandson. /I witnessed such pain once before. I won’t witness it again!/ He would find a way to keep Elrohir from fading, but he also knew there was a price involved. Now he had to find out if his family was prepared to pay it in order to keep Elrohir alive.
Elladan couldn’t stop pacing his father’s study. His grandfather had left to talk to Elrohir and that had been an hour ago. He raised a hand, and began to bite his nails apprehensively. Would Celeborn succeed in finding out why Elrohir refused to tell his beloved of his feelings? But he did find some comfort in the fact that his grandfather was here with him. /Why isn’t Ada here when I need him? Or Glorfindel and Erestor? I do not know what to do! Please ata’da, find out how we can keep Elrohir here!/
Tasting blood, he stared at his abused fingernails and buried them quickly in the sleeve of his robes. He came to a standstill in front of the painting that Elrond had made long ago. Celebrian had still been here with them and Elrond had painted his family; Celebrian was holding baby Arwen, and Elrohir had his arms wrapped around his brother. That hug had been the only thing to keep him from running off when they had been forced to pose.
He had been so impatient that he had sneaked off several times, only to be brought back by either his father or Glorfindel. In the end, Elrohir had folded his arms around him to keep him in place and that was how Elrond had painted them.
It was a happy family portrayed on that painting, which had been created long before the Orcs had taken their mother away from them. /I cannot lose Elrohir as well./
The sound coming from behind him made Elladan spin around, and he hurried over to Celeborn, who now walked toward the chair beneath the window. He could tell that his grandfather was worried and gathered the Elf’s hands in his, squeezing them in an effort to reassure them both. “Did you talk to him?”
“I did,” said Celeborn thoughtfully, not wanting to burden Elladan with the way *how* he had found out what troubled Elrohir. “And now we need to talk.”
“Is Elrohir safe? Why didn’t you bring him with you?” Although he was dying to find out what Elrohir was hiding from him, knowing his brother safe came first. “I told you that I suspect that he wants to leave and—“
Celeborn cut him short. “Elrohir is fast asleep, Elladan.” Drawing in a deep breath, he wondered how to tell his grandson.
“Did he tell you who holds his heart and why he isn’t acting on his feelings?” Elladan shifted nervously on his chair, inching closer to his grandfather.
“He did.” Celeborn watched Elladan carefully and heard the twin’s sharp intake of breath. “But before I tell you his name, I need to know what your feelings are concerning your brother.”
“My feelings?” Elladan’s eyes widened. “I love him! I would die for him! He is the other half of my soul. Without him, I am incomplete. I cannot envision a life without him!”
Celeborn nodded. “But what I need to know is; *how* much do you love him? Do you love him enough to keep him on Arda?”
Elladan frowned deeply. “Ata’da? I do not understand.” He felt truly lost now. “What are you not telling me?”
“Did it never cross your mind that Elrohir could be in love with *you*?” Celeborn held Elladan’s gaze and rubbed the cold fingers in an effort to reassure his older grandson.
“What?” Elladan’s jaw fell, and he stared at his grandfather in utter disbelief and shock. “Me? He cannot be… Nay, that is…” Celeborn must have misunderstood when Elrohir had confided in him! “But he is my brother!” A wild range of emotions played through him, and he felt adrift on a sea of conflicting emotions.
Using a touch of his charm, Celeborn said, “It has happened before, Elladan. It is not that rare.” He chose to ignore Elladan’s questioning glance as he didn’t want to confide in his grandson concerning the past. “Elrohir loves you. Aye, it is not the love one brother should have for the other, but he cannot control who he loves. He is suffering because his love for you consumes him.”
Elladan was still trying hard to fully understand what Celeborn had just told him. /Elrohir cannot be in love with me!/ But it made perfect sense, didn’t it? “That is why he could not tell me his name. That is why he cannot act on his feelings.” Tears appeared in his eyes. “And I accused him of no longer loving me.” Briefly, rage threatened to rise inside him. What had his twin been thinking, falling in love with him? But his rational side prevailed. /Elrohir never wanted for this to happen./
Celeborn felt sympathy, as he had seen this inner struggle before. But this time, he was around to guide Elladan’s steps. “Elladan, I know this is a shock to you, but you must realize that Elrohir did not choose this fate.” He cleared his throat and gave Elladan a chance to recompose himself. Once he had his grandson’s attention again, he continued. “I had to create a temporary bond in order to get this information and I can assure you that his feelings are genuine. He truly loves you and he feels immensely guilty for desiring you in this way. Elrohir does not want to have these feelings for you. Please do not hate him for feeling the way he does.”
“But it isn’t right,” whispered Elladan, feeling emotionally conflicted. “He is my twin!”
Celeborn searched his grandson’s eyes. “I know that it isn’t right. Brothers are not supposed to feel that way about each other, but it has happened. We cannot undo Elrohir’s feelings.”
“It isn’t right,” repeated Elladan, trying to come to terms with what he had learned. “I thought Elrohir might be in love with Glorfindel or Erestor, Haldir maybe, but...” His voice trailed off, sighing. “What do I do now, ata’da?”
“Right now? Nothing.”
Celeborn’s calm reply slightly reassured Elladan. He looked at his grandfather and hoped the ancient Elf knew what to do.
“Elladan, you must understand that you now face a very serious choice.” Celeborn hated putting such an immense burden on Elladan’s shoulders, but the choice was ultimately Elladan’s.
“What choice?” Elladan shook like a leaf, believing he knew what Celeborn was hinting at, but he had to hear his grandfather say it.
“The only way to reclaim Elrohir is for you to accept him as your lover.”
“Aiya!” Elladan freed his hands from Celeborn’s, jumped to his feet and went back to pacing the study. “I cannot do that! That would be wrong! We are brothers! Twins!” He had grown pale and now his breathing quickened as well.
Celeborn remained seated. He had expected such an outburst. “It is the *very* fact that you *are* twins that is causing Elrohir to feel this way. The two of you are very close -- even for twins -- and a bond has been forged that goes deeper than being siblings.”
Elladan fiercely shook his head. “I cannot take my brother as my lover!”
“Then Elrohir will continue to fade and his fëa will travel to the Great Halls of Waiting.” Celeborn raised a hand and pointed a finger at Elladan. “In the meantime *you* will be all alone on Arda and even if you do find him -- should he be allowed to be reborn -- it won’t be the Elrohir you have always known.” Slowly, he got to his feet. The weight of Arda seemed to rest on his shoulders and he wished he had known earlier. Then he might have been able to stop Elrohir from falling in love with his brother.
Elladan’s eyes were the mirrors of his soul, reflecting all the pain, fears, and love he held for his twin. “What kind of choice is that? You paint a gloomy painting of our future.”
“I need you to understand the consequences of your decision.” Celeborn rested a hand on his grandson’s shoulder and forced Elladan to stop pacing and to look at him. “The choice that you have to make is painfully simple. Either you accept that Elrohir has these feelings for you and you act on them, or you reject your twin and he will fade.”
“Simple? How can such a choice be ‘simple?” His temper was getting the better of him. He was angry at Celeborn for putting him in this situation and with Elrohir for falling in love with him. A brother wasn’t supposed to have such feelings for his sibling! “’Tis all Elrohir’s fault!”
Compassion and understanding colored Celeborn’s blue eyes. ‘Tis no-one’s fault, Elladan. These things just happen.”
Elladan snorted angrily and pulled away from Celeborn. “How can you ask me to bed my twin?” Indignation echoed through the study. “I cannot lay with my brother! It is an abomination!”
Another sigh fled Celeborn’s lips. “You said you loved him.”
“But not in that way!” Elladan exploded with emotion. “Why do you put me in this situation? Why did Elrohir have to fall in love with me? Why isn’t brotherly love enough? Such love is forbidden!”
“Elladan, calm down.” Celeborn now grabbed his grandson’s shoulders and forced him to meet his gaze. “It is normal for you to be emotional about this. It is a shock and it is unexpected. That is why I told you not to do anything right now. You need to think this over and make a balanced decision. Remember, you hold the power over your brother’s life. You can condemn him to death or give him life.”
“How can you be this calm?” Elladan shook his head, as he stared at his grandfather.
“Because I have witnessed this once before.” Celeborn bit his bottom lip, uncertain if he should tell Elladan. But his admission had calmed Elladan and the half-Elf now looked at him expectedly. “I have seen it happen to a pair of twins before,” said Celeborn in the end. “One pined for the other, and never told him. Whilst his twin was dying of grief, the other had no idea he had the power to save him, to stop him from drifting away.” Oh, he was bending the truth a little, but he couldn’t afford Elladan to realize who he was talking about. “The younger twin was forced to watch his brother die.”
“He did not know?” Elladan felt entranced, listening to Celeborn’s soothing voice.
“He did not know,” confirmed Celeborn. “I do not know what his decision would have been, had he known. But he was never given the luxury of the choice that you have now. You have the power to keep Elrohir alive and on Arda with us.”
“But he is my brother!”
“And so we come full circle again,” sighed Celeborn. “I understand your worries and apprehension, Elladan, but you need to decide what is more important to you.” Seeing Elladan’s puzzled look, he explained whilst gently rubbing his grandson’s neck. “Bedding your brother is wrong… in most cases. I never condoned it in my realm and I never will, but this is an extraordinary situation. Elrohir and you are so close that you can read each other’s thoughts. There have been times when you felt one another’s pain. And when I look at the two of you I see one fëa, not two. I do not know why the Valar separated you at birth, but…” Celeborn had finally run out of words.
But Elladan understood what his grandfather was trying to tell him. “I must decide if I love Elrohir enough to accept him in that way. If I don’t, I will lose him.” He sighed deeply. “I do not know if I can take that step.”
“Only time will tell,” replied Celeborn, “But you have to realize that your time is limited. The signs of grief are very prominent in Elrohir. He might fade within the next few months. I doubt he has a whole year left.”
Elladan closed his eyes temporary. “I wished this had never happened.”
“Wishful thinking won’t save Elrohir.”
“Ata’da? What would you do if you were in my place?” Elladan realized it wasn’t a fair thing to ask, but he had to know, and Celeborn was the only one who could council him in this matter now that Elrond was absent.
/I should have known you would ask me that question./ Celeborn took his time to consider Elladan’s question, as he wanted to answer truthfully. “My brother Galathil and I were never as close as Elrohir and you are, so I find this question hard to answer. If I were not bound to Galadriel, and Galathil was about to fade because he had feelings for me…” He paused, sorting out his thoughts and feelings. Aye, what would he do?
“Ata’da? What would you do?” Elladan needed this answer now!
“I would do it. I would save him. I love him too much to let him fade.” Celeborn met his grandson’s challenging stare head on. “You must make your own decision, Elladan, but consider everything carefully. Elrohir is your brother, and I know no one will condemn you or your twin for taking this step. Your father will accept it because he loves the two of you dearly. And if you desire so, you can keep it a secret. No one except our family needs to know.”
Elladan wrung his hands. “I thought that knowing what you would do would help, but I still feel lost.”
“You could talk to Elrohir,” suggested Celeborn, “Or wait for your father to return and ask for his council, but I think he will tell you exactly the same thing as I did.”
“Maybe I will talk to Elrohir,” said Elladan thoughtfully. “Maybe we can reach a decision together.”
Celeborn didn’t share Elladan’s optimism. “What do you think he will say?”
Elladan averted his eyes, painfully aware of what his twin would say. “He kept this from me for a reason.”
“He did not want to burden you,” replied Celeborn. “He won’t encourage you to accept him as your lover. It is more likely that he will fight you over this. And that would make it easier for you to give up on him, as you are already reluctant to do this. You will have to fight for the two of you. Do you understand? Your road won’t be easy when you choose this path.”
Elladan understood and nodded his head. “You said I had a choice, but in reality I do not, because I cannot stand by and watch Elrohir die. I would fade as well.”
His heart went out to his grandson. “And how do you think your father will react when he loses the two of you? Is Elrond strong enough to cope with such a loss or will he fall into grief as well? Elrohir’s death will start a chain reaction and it’s impossible to say how many more will fade because of him.”
Ada…” Elladan whispered the word, realizing Celeborn might be right. Would Elrond survive losing his sons? They had already feared for him when Celebrian had been lost to them. “I know what I have to do, then.” But his voice lacked conviction. He would do what he had to do in order to limit the damage, but the mere thought of bedding Elrohir made him nervous. “I will try, but I cannot promise you that I will be successful.”
“Do not ‘try’, Elladan,” said Celeborn firmly. “You must be certain of your decision or else you will fail.”
“All right,” said Elladan in a slightly stronger voice. “I will do it. I will keep Elrohir from fading. I will do whatever is necessary to assure he stays on Arda.”
“That is better.” Celeborn nodded his approval. “I know this is difficult for you, but you made the right decision.”
“I have to see Elrohir now,” said Elladan in a frantic tone. “I have to tell him. He has to know that I want him to stay.” He was still afraid that his twin would give them the slip. Once Elrohir had left Imladris it might prove hard to find him. Elrohir was a trained warrior and tracker. His twin would use those skills to hide his tracks from them.
“Then go and tell your brother how much you love him.” But before letting Elladan go, Celeborn pressed a chaste kiss on his grandson’s brow. “You are very courageous to do this.”
“I am scared of losing him,” clarified Elladan. He briefly hugged his grandfather and then hurried out of the study.
Celeborn watched him leave; hoping Elladan would succeed where Elrond and Elros had failed.
Elladan didn’t bother to knock and simply stormed into the rooms which he shared with his twin. /It must have been so hard on Elrohir. I cannot understand where he found the strength to carry this burden for so long, but at last I can support him./
“Elrohir, where are you?” Looking about, his heart thundered madly. Elrohir wasn’t in the room. Maybe in the bathroom?
He checked, but no, his twin wasn’t there either.
Then his gaze fell on his brother’s closet. The door was ajar and he pushed it open. His breath caught, realizing that Elrohir’s warm riding cloak and leather boots were gone. “Nay, I cannot be too late! Ata’da said you were sleeping!”
Frantic, he ran down the stairs toward the stables. He ignored the confused looks the stable master gave him and headed straight for Elrohir’s mare.
When he reached her box, it was empty. He sank to his knees and released an angry scream. “Elrohir, damn you for running away!”
As he rose to his feet, his movements were mechanic and his gaze determined. He was going to find his twin, bring him back home to Imladris and then he would do what he had to do in order to keep Elrohir with him. Even if that meant bedding him.
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