Dinîf en Qualen
Thranduil marched straight to the quarters where his personal guards were staying and ordered two of them to secure Eridhren’s chambers, making sure the Elf couldn’t leave unnoticed.
Still angry, he continued to his own guest rooms where he exchanged his formal robes for his leather uniform. He girded on his sword, fastened his cloak and left again, this time heading for the wood instead of the gardens, for he wanted to avoid running into Elrond again at all cost. He felt incredibly hurt and furious, and although part of him realized he was acting like a spoiled brat, he didn’t care. Elrond had broken his heart millennia ago and not even Aewithôn had been able to heal that wound. Although he had loved her dearly, part of his heart had remained scarred.
He marched into the woods, drew in a deep breath and explored his surroundings. Living in Mirkwood required his constant alertness. Countless dangers lurked there, but here, in Imladris, he had conceived no threat, and so he let his guard down a little. Encountering a stretch of waving grass, he drew his sword, focused inward and began his routine exercises.
The only noise that betrayed his presence was the soft swoosh of air, as his sword continued to move. Repeating exercises that had become second nature to him, he managed to calm down and get his feelings back under control.
He succeeded in labeling the two things that worried him most. His first and most important problem was Eridhren. He had to find a way to deal with the Elf once and for all. He didn’t want Erestor to live in constant fear now that Eridhren knew his whereabouts.
And then there was Elrond. His motions began to slow down, ending his exercises. Elrond Half-Elven… Thranduil sighed. He had lost his heart millennia ago and had regretted being so naïve ever since. His father had warned him not to trust the Peredhel, but he had assured Oropher that Elrond was different, that Elrond loved him. He had been such a fool!
Ending his routine, he sheathed his sword and sat down on the grass, cross-legged. Closing his eyes, he tried to clear his head, but failed. Involuntarily, his hand dipped beneath the leather armor to uncover the silver necklace that hung around his neck. He opened the medallion that was attached to it and reverently took out the single lock of dark hair.
Elrond had cut off a lock of his hair when they had made love for the first time, as a sign of their eternal love, and he had cherished it ever since, even though it now mocked the half-Elf’s former promises. Elrond had never loved him.
Elladan knew he shouldn’t be watching Thranduil, but his curiosity had been piqued, seeing the Elf leave the Last Homely House in such a hurry. He had also wondered about the angry expression in those green eyes and had followed him here. His heart had pounded, seeing Thranduil going through his training exercises and he wished he could handle a sword like that. There was an incredible fluency and elegance to Thranduil’s moves, which he had never managed to master. But then again, Thranduil had millennia of fighting experience to draw from.
His curiosity increased when Thranduil opened a silver medallion, revealing a dark lock of hair. Was it his wife’s? Elladan felt like an intruder and began to back away, but then a branch snapped beneath his feet, betraying his presence.
Thranduil’s head snapped up as he realized he wasn’t alone. “Show yourself!” He was back on his feet in a second and his hand rested on the hilt of his sword. His sharp eyes searched the thicket where the noise had come from.
Elladan stepped away from the coppice and stared guiltily at the earth. “I did not mean to spy on you.”
Thranduil relaxed; he had been worried that Eridhren had followed him. “Why are you here, Elladan? I was under the impression that you rarely left your brother’s side.”
“How would -you- know?” Elladan had made eye contact at hearing his name, surprised that Thranduil could tell him apart from his brother. The moment he had spoken the words, he realized how insolent they sounded. He was about to apologize when Thranduil raised a hand, signaling for him to remain silent.
“It may be hard to believe, but your father and I were friends once and I regularly make inquiries about his family. There are always Elves traveling through Mirkwood and they told me about you, your brother and Arwen.”
Thranduil’s interest in his family surprised Elladan. But Thranduil had said something else that had also caught his attention. “Ada and you were friends once?” Elrond had never mentioned such a thing.
Thranduil's smiled saddened and he sat down on the grass again. After a moment Elladan joined him, sitting down as well, and Thranduil was struck by the resemblance Elladan bore to his father. There was not a single trace of Celebrian in the half-Elf’s features. Oh, how Elladan reminded him of a young Elrond Peredhel!
“My lord?” Elladan frowned, seeing the distant expression in Thranduil’s eyes. Glorfindel was right; Thranduil was definitely a mystery!
“I was lost in thought,” offered Thranduil apologetically. “Aye, we were friends once, but that was before the Battle of the Last Alliance.”
Elladan suddenly remembered something and blurted it out. “Your father died at—“ Shocked that he had actually said that aloud, he quickly covered his mouth with his hand. What had possessed him to bring up such a painful memory?
Thranduil’s heart ached, recalling his father’s death, but he maintained eye contact with Elladan, knowing that the young half-Elf hadn’t meant any disrespect.
“I am sorry,” offered Elladan in a guilty tone.
Thranduil forced himself to smile weakly. “I accept your apology.”
Relieved, Elladan drew in a deep breath. There was now a tension between them that hadn’t been there before, and that was his fault. How could he make up for his stupidity? Maybe there was a way. “I watched you earlier and… You have great control over your sword. Would you teach me?”
Thranduil watched Elladan from under a raised eyebrow. “Teach you?”
“I am sorry - I am being forward, but—“ He stopped talking, realizing the ancient Elf was probably not interested in teaching him. Thranduil’s sparkling laugh took him aback and he stared at the blond. “What?”
“You remind me of Legolas,” said Thranduil, bemused. “Fetch your sword, then, and we will spar. Maybe I will even teach you one of my moves.” It was true; Elladan did remind him of his youngest. Legolas also had a way of winding him around his little finger, and Elladan possessed the same charming quality.
“I will be back in a few minutes!” Elladan jumped to his feet, a bundle of sudden energy. “Don’t go away! Stay here!” Enthusiastically he sprinted back to the Last Homely House, hoping Thranduil wouldn’t change his mind.
Thranduil shook his head in amusement, watching Elladan run. He had postponed visiting Imladris for millennia, afraid he might take a liking to the twins - and it was as he had feared. He liked them. They were full of life and energy, much like his own sons, but they also possessed Elrond’s charm. Grinning madly, he wondered what he had gotten himself in to by offering to teach Elladan.
Surprised, Glorfindel noticed that the door to Elrond’s study was ajar. Pushing it open, he scanned the room and immediately met Elrond’s gaze. The half-Elf seemed upset, maybe even nervous as he continued to pace frantically. “Is something wrong?”
Elrond came to halt, drew in a deep breath and then nodded his head. “So much is wrong. But what brings you here, mellon-nîn, when you should be watching over Erestor?” He had already instructed his guards to watch Eridhren’s quarters closely. Eridhren’s attempted assault still unnerved him. He had been able to get away from Eridhren, but he was afraid that Erestor hadn’t.
“We talked.” Glorfindel closed the door behind him to make sure no one could eavesdrop and then sat down in front of Elrond’s desk. He waited for the half-Elf to seat himself and then updated Elrond, telling him everything he had learned about Erestor.
Deep lines appeared on Elrond’s forehead whilst listening to the horrid tale. “I always suspected something very traumatic had happened to him in his youth. You have gained Erestor’s trust; he would not have confided in you otherwise. I am glad you managed to befriend him.”
“So am I.” Glorfindel had studied Elrond and had reached the conclusion that something else was upsetting the half-Elf. “What is troubling you? I can see it in your eyes. What is it?”
“Eridhren tried to assault me.”
Glorfindel’s eyes widened. “What?”
“He made suggestions that left little to the imagination.”
Finally Glorfindel understood. “He tried to sexually assault you? How insane is he? You are the Lord of Imladris!” He had seen Elrond fight. Eridhren was fortunate to be still alive.
Elrond raised a hand in an attempt to calm Glorfindel. “Nothing happened. Thranduil suddenly appeared and ordered Eridhren to return to his rooms. What happened after that incident was also interesting, however.”
Glorfindel felt lost. “Elrond, please, make sense!”
“Thranduil told me he is keeping Eridhren close to make sure he does not commit more horrible deeds. He is very much aware of Eridhren’s vile nature… And learning that Thranduil helped Erestor escape surprised me.”
“I understand your surprise. I felt the same way when Erestor told me his side of the story. If it had not been for Thranduil, Erestor might not have survived his father’s abuse.”
“I ordered for Eridhren’s rooms to be guarded,” said Elrond in a thoughtful tone.
“Thranduil has already stationed some of his guards there as well.” Glorfindel exchanged a worried look with the half-Elf. “How do you want to proceed?”
Elrond rose to his feet, paced momentarily, and then came to a halt in front of the window to carefully consider the question. Staring out of the window, he said, “I want you to return to Erestor. He needs someone who he trusts close, and I hope you can deepen this beginning friendship between the two of you.”
Glorfindel nodded his head once. “I still blame myself for never looking behind the mask he used to wear. If only we had realized earlier how much he was hurting!”
“I tried to get through to him, but I failed.” Elrond looked over his shoulder at Glorfindel. “He decided to trust you. Use that to your advantage. He needs someone to confide in, to share his pain with. He might reconsider when the emotional pain he is in fully registers, but you cannot let him turn away again.”
“I will stay close to him at all times,” said Glorfindel, reassuringly. “And what about Eridhren?”
“I won’t allow him to leave his quarters until I have conferred with Thranduil. I want Eridhren to leave Imladris as quickly as possible, and I will forbid him to ever enter again.”
“A wise decision,” said Glorfindel, pleased. “And how will you proceed with Thranduil?” He knew he had to be tactful, having suspicions about Elrond’s past where it concerned Thranduil. Elrond had never confirmed his suspicions, but he felt strongly that their fallout could be the result of a lovers’ quarrel. It would also explain the tension he had sensed during Elrond and Thranduil’s sparse meetings.
“I will deal with Thranduil. Do not concern yourself with that.” Looking out of the window again, he frowned deeply, seeing Elladan leave in a hurry, carrying a sword. /Where is he going?/ Feeling the strong urge to find out, he dismissed Glorfindel. “Return to Erestor and guard him well. There is a matter I want to investigate.”
Glorfindel got to his feet. “I will keep you informed about Erestor.” After seeing Elrond nod, he stepped into the corridor and headed back to Erestor’s quarters.
Elrond gathered his robes around him and left as well, intent on tracking down Elladan and finding out his son’s intensions.
Elladan ran back to the clearing, hoping Thranduil was still there, waiting for him. Searching his surroundings, he sighed, relieved, seeing the blond seated on the grass. Suddenly he recalled the medallion he had seen Thranduil open earlier; he still wondered whom that lock belonged to. But he put that thought aside as he came to a halt in front of Thranduil, panting softly. “You stayed.”
Thranduil smiled and rose to his feet. “You asked me to.”
“I was not sure you would.”
“I always keep my promises,” said Thranduil, bemused. Elladan was staring at him, wide-eyed, and now presented his sword. Thranduil rose to his feet, took it, and wielded it to test its balance. “It is a good sword,” he said, returning it to the half-Elf.
“Ada gave it to me when I reached my majority,” said Elladan in a proud tone, taking firmly hold of the sword and waiting for Thranduil to tell him what to do.
“Did he also teach you how to use it?” Thranduil drew his sword, studying the young half-Elf and seeing much of a younger, passionate Elrond in Elladan.
“Glorfindel did. Ada was too busy with formal matters.” Elladan assumed his position and blocked Thranduil’s attack, launching one of his own.
Thranduil easily warded off the blow and used one of his own patented moves to drive Elladan back.
Elladan started slightly when he was backed up against a tree. Thranduil moved too quickly for him and suddenly his sword flew through the air. Not even Glorfindel had ever managed to disarm him this quickly! Awed, his eyes sparkled and he greedily stared at the blond, hoping Thranduil would teach him that particular move!
Thranduil recognized Elladan’s eagerness to learn, and was inclined to indulge the young half-Elf and teach him; but then everything changed. Suddenly his trusted sword was knocked out of his hand, and he was flung hard onto the ground. Rendered speechless, he tried to catch his breath and stared at Elrond, who had grabbed Elladan’s sword and had now placed it against his throat.
Elrond glared at Thranduil. When he had arrived he had seen Thranduil threaten Elladan, and his instincts had taken over. “That is low, even for you.”
Elladan stared at his father in shock. Why was Elrond threatening Thranduil? He wanted to explain everything, but Elrond silenced him by raising his hand.
Elrond kept his attention focused on the blond and his features contorted in loathing from looking at Thranduil. “Your quarrel is with me, not my son. Don’t ever try to hurt Elladan again.”
“But Ada!” Elladan moved toward Elrond, but his father’s glare froze him in his tracks.
Thranduil’s anger rose. Ignoring the fact that the tip of Elladan’s sword was cutting into his throat and drawing blood, he returned Elrond’s glare. “I suggest you remove that sword now.” His tone was bitter and his eyes had turned cold..
“Ada, listen to me!” But Elladan didn’t get the chance to explain. Suddenly Thranduil was on his feet and Elrond had been disarmed. His sword was in Thranduil’s hand now. How had the blond done that? His father looked shocked as well.
Thranduil handed the sword back to Elladan and then faced Elrond. He could tell by the look in his former lover’s eyes that the half-Elf was raging inwardly, and only kept back because Elladan was present. “That fact that you think me capable of intentionally hurting your son is…” Lost for words, he shook his head. “I would never hurt him! Why would I?”
Elrond lost his patience. “When you cannot get to me you hurt them instead! I know you!”
“You do not know me at all,” said Thranduil in an oddly soft, almost gentle tone.
Elladan’s confusion was growing, watching the two of them. They looked like they were ready to tear each other apart and yet… There was something else hiding beneath the anger. He had never felt such a particular tension!
Thranduil’s tender tone caught Elrond off guard and he actually calmed down. Whilst still glaring at Thranduil, Elladan’s words finally registered.
“Ada, we were sparring. He agreed to teach me some of his maneuvers. It was not for real!” Elladan grabbed his father’s arm, finally getting Elrond to look at him. “I wanted to learn from him and he agreed to teach me!”
Elrond stared at Elladan in disbelief. “He was not--?” Now that Elladan’s words proved him wrong, he didn’t know how to react. Had he falsely accused Thranduil? “But I saw him—“
“I disarmed him to demonstrate one of my maneuvers. Elladan never was in any danger.” Thranduil’s eyes were frozen ice and all emotions were gone from them. “I think it is best when I discuss our plans for joined border patrols with Glorfindel tomorrow morning, instead of you. That way we do not have to meet again. I will leave tomorrow evening, and I will take Eridhren with me.”
Elrond only now fully realized his mistake, but he refused to apologize. He didn’t want Thranduil to gloat. “That would be best, yes.”
Thranduil nodded, and then smiled reassuringly at Elladan. “You will be a great swordsman one day. Just keep practicing.”
Elladan, lost for words, nodded as well, regretting the fact that this sparring match had caused such an argument between Thranduil and his father. He just couldn’t understand why Elrond had overreacted like that! Surely his father didn’t really believe that Thranduil was capable of hurting him? He knew his father well enough to realize that Elrond would never have allowed Thranduil to visit if he’d had doubts. What was this argument really about?
Thranduil no longer paid Elrond any attention and marched away from the two half-Elves, returning to his guest quarters. Any thoughts of possibly rebuilding some sort of friendship with Elrond were gone now.
“Ada? Why did you do that? You did not really think he would hurt me, did you?” Elladan struggled to understand, but failed.
“Aiya, Elladan…” Elrond sighed, dejectedly. “I made a mistake in judgment.”
“Then why do you not admit you were wrong? Why blame Thranduil?”
Elrond shook his head. He couldn’t tell Elladan the real reason behind their animosities. He didn’t want his son to know he’d had a brief affair with the blond.
Frustrated that his father wasn’t answering, Elladan shuffled his feet and saw that Thranduil’s sword still lay on the ground. He reverently picked it up. A thoughtful gleam appeared in his eyes. “Someone should return this to him. And I think it should be you. You owe him an apology, Ada.” The pleading expression in his father’s eyes took Elladan aback. “Why are you acting so strangely? I do not know you like this!”
“Don’t ask me to explain this to you.”
Elladan frowned. “Thranduil told me you were friends once. Why can you not be friends again? I do not know what happened between the two of you, but I think he would like to rebuild that friendship. There was a sad note to his voice when he spoke of the past. And why did you think he would hurt me? I do not understand you.”
Elrond slowly curled his fingers around the hilt of Thranduil’s sword and sighed, distressed. “There is a lot of history between us, much more than you know.”
Elladan’s hands dropped, forcing his father to take hold of Thranduil’s sword. “You take it back to him.” Stubbornly, he locked gazes with his father. “You chased him away, you give it back to him.”
Elrond wondered about Elladan’s stubborn streak. Celebrian would say he had inherited it from his father. “I will talk to Thranduil.”
“You should do more than talk. You should apologize for your behavior. You completely overreacted.”
“I did,” admitted Elrond slowly. “But I had my reasons.”
Elladan rested his hand on his father’s shoulder. “Ada, I do not know what happened between Thranduil and you in the past, but it must have happened centuries ago. Maybe it is time to talk about it and to let it go?”
“How did you go from stubborn to wise in seconds?” Elrond laughed warmly. Elladan never ceased to amaze him. “Would you like to spar with him again? He is a great warrior.”
“I would love to, but only if you can deal with it. I do not want you attacking Thranduil again.” Frustrated, Elladan wished his father would tell him what this was really about, but he knew Elrond well enough to know he wouldn’t confide in him. His father was good at keeping secrets. He nodded once and then left, figuring Elrond needed a moment to sort out his thoughts.
Elrond stared at Thranduil’s sword. The blond had named it before riding into battle at the Last Alliance. Nîn doll caun… My dark prince… Thranduil had named his sword after him. When he had found out he had laughed at Thranduil, and now that he recalled that moment, Thranduil had looked hurt. But that hadn’t registered with him at the time.
/I really hurt you in the past and I hurt you again today. That was never my intention. I do not know why I thought you were about to hurt Elladan. I should know you better. You might have an arrogant air about you, but you would never hurt my son./
Elrond hated himself for thinking that badly of Thranduil. /Elladan is right. I need to apologize. And we need to do more. We need to talk about the past and let it go, just like Elladan said./
Elrond turned around and walked toward the Last Homely House. Elladan was right; Thranduil and he needed to talk.
It was time he faced his past choices.
Beta read by Ilye, thank you!
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