Forward And Back

Fourth Age, sometime after Aragorn's death

Celeborn boarded last. It somehow seemed fitting that he should be the last elf to leave the soil of Arda. Elladan and Elrohir were already leaning on the railing, watching as the sails were unfurled and the ship moved slowly away from shore. The twins, Celeborn, and the last few elves from Eryn Lasgalen, Lorien, and Rivendell were finally sailing west on a vessel of Cirdan's design, though Cirdan himself had passed west centuries ago. The elves who had stayed behind built the ship and one of Cirdan's mariners had remained behind to captain the ship, and guide them to Valinor.

Celeborn remained at the railing, watching until even he could see nothing but water. He sighed once then looked at the bow of the ship, where two figures stood, looking forward. He joined them, each twin taking a step or two sideways to let him in between them. He reached out to their hands on the rail, and squeezed.

"Join me in my cabin for some wine after dinner?"

They answered almost as one voice. "Of course."

~*~

"No Elladan, you're remembering that all wrong! It was you who fell out of the tree and gave us away! I would have done nothing so clumsy!"

The three of them laughed over the memory of one of the twins' more mischievous escapades.

"That wasn't the only time we all thought you two had a very cavalier view of your own safety. Do you remember the sled?"

~*~

Rivendell, TA 159

"Elrohir! Wake up! It stopped snowing! We have to get out there to pick out the best place for our snow fort!"

Elladan stopped bouncing on the end of Elrohir's bed and pulled the blankets down, hoping to urge him out of bed faster. He laughed when he heard Elrohir's groan of protest, and started bouncing on the bed again. They had been promised the morning off from their lessons in order to play in the freshly fallen snow.

Celebrian managed to get them to settle down and eat at least a bit of breakfast, then she finally helped them dress in their warm boots and cloaks and sent them outside, with an admonishment not to go out of the back gardens.

The twins played most of the morning as they'd been told, until they'd rolled in or trampled most of the snow in the back gardens.

"Elladan. We need better snow. This is all used."

"We have to stay here. We can't leave the back gardens, Mama said so."

"But we need good snow. Let's go ask her if we can go sledding now. Even Mama knows we can't sled here."

Elladan saw the perfect sense in Elrohir's argument, and the two of them headed toward the house, fully intending to ask Celebrian about the sledding. They didn't quite make it.

Glorfindel came bursting out of the house, carrying a large wooden sled with shiny metal runners.

"Good day, Elladan, Elrohir! Your sled is just now finished, I tied the rope on myself!" He dropped the sled into the snow and waited while the twins climbed on squealing for him to hurry up and pull them. Fast.

He finally pulled the sled and its occupants out of the garden and started heading toward the more open ground where there were a few small hills just perfect for a pair of small elves and their sled. Glorfindel pulled them to the top the first time, then he stood and watched as they took turns riding down and pulling back the sled back up. When they'd each had several rides, and they were visibly tiring, Glorfindel suggested that they ride down one last time together, then wait for him at the bottom and he'd walk with them back to the house for lunch.

Elladan thought if this were to be their last ride of the morning, then it had better be good. He looked up at the much steeper hill just behind them and then at Glorfindel.

"Glorfindel, me and Elrohir want to ride down that hill. We'll walk up by ourselves and ride down. You don't have to pull us up it."

Glorfindel looked at the hill, then the twins and raised an eyebrow. Elrohir, sensing defeat, stuck out his bottom lip and clutched Glorfindel's knees. "Please? Oh pleasepleaseplease. Just once?"

He could slay a balrog, but nobody could stand up to the twins when they put on their charming faces. Just as Glorfindel said yes, one of the house-maids came running and yelled up the hill to the trio.

"Lord Glorfindel! You have an important message from the southern patrol. Lord Elrond said you should come at once!" She didn't wait to hear his answer, she turned and ran back to the house, sure that the warrior would be along soon after with the twins.

The twins were barely half way up the steeper hill.

Glorfindel had to call them down now. "Elladan! Elrohir! That's far enough, come down now, I must get back to the house!"

They glanced at one another and unspoken, decided to ignore Glorfindel. They wanted to ride down the whole hill!

"Elladan! Elrohir! You can climb up to the top, but stop until I get back or someone else comes. Don't ride down yet!"

Glorfindel knew they'd heard him. He figured there was a half decent chance that they'd actually listen too. He thought he could get back to the house, then send someone else to watch them before they finally got to the top. He yelled one more admonition for them to wait at the top, then he took off running, slipping and sliding down the smaller slope, and then back to the house.

The twins had heard him, but selectively ignored most of what he'd said.

They stood, looking at each other, when Elladan raised his eyebrow and looked down the hill, then back at Elrohir.

"No. Elladan, Glorfindel said we wait for him."

Elladan was about to argue when they were interrupted by the appearance of a hurried Erestor, nearly running to catch them.

"Elladan! Elrohir! You come down this minute! No! Wait! Stay there! I'll come up!"

Erestor realized that they'd come down, all right. They'd ride that sled down the mountain, and probably tip over, go rolling down the mountain and die after they crashed into a building or some other obstacle. Why did Glorfindel let them climb up that far?

The advisor nearly ran up the steep ground, arriving at the top, panting heavily and holding out his hand for the sled rope.

He managed to gasp out the command to turn the sled over to him. He planned on all of them walking down, then he'd pull the twins back to the house, where he intended to give Glorfindel a piece of his mind!

Just as he was reaching for the rope handle though, Elladan pulled it away, and Erestor, who was still dressed in his more formal robes, stepped on the hem of the robe, causing him to trip. He landed on his belly on the sled, and his momentum started the elf and sled down the steep slope at an almost terrifying speed.

The twins ran behind screaming, "Erestor!! We wanted to ride down! Erestor! Not fair!!"

Erestor couldn’t hear them. He was screaming too. And he had squeezed his eyes shut when it occurred to him that he needed to see where he was going, so he could steer the sled. He briefly wondered if the sled could be steered, then he reached way back into his memory and recalled that he needed to lean and steer with his body weight. Thank the Valar that it was mostly a straight path to the bottom of the hill.

One thing about snow is that it covers all the little dips and blemishes on the ground. It also covers humps and little hills. Erestor and the sled hit one of these little rises at just the right angle. He went airborne and let go of the sled. The sled came back down and continued it's run to the bottom of the hill, riderless. Erestor hit, rolled partway down the hill and landed on his face in the snow. He groaned, rolled over and tried to tell if anything was broken. Just as he was sitting up, the twins arrived, having slipped and slid down the same path that the sled had followed.

"Erestor! Do that again! That was the best ever! Me and 'Ro both think so!"

~*~

On the way west, FA

Celeborn snickered and asked, "And just how long was Erestor mad at Glorfindel that time?"

"Only until his cracked ribs healed, wasn't it, Elladan?"

"Well, that time he got over it fairly fast. That wasn't always the case with those two though."

"They did know how to annoy each other, didn't they? Of course, that wasn't nearly as dangerous as what the two of you did when your grandmother and I visited and brought the ponies for your twenty-fifth begetting day."

~*~

TA 164

Elladan and Elrohir were sitting on the top of the wide steps that led to the main entrance hall of their home. They were waiting for their grandparents to arrive with a small party of Galadhrim. Erestor had finally dismissed them from their lessons with the strict admonishment to go no further than the main stairs outside. Elladan had brought a toy sword with him and was now using it to stab at imaginary foes.

"Elro? Do you think father will let us learn how to sword fight or shoot bows now? We will be 25 in two days and he said we could when we're old enough. We've spent all this time learning history and reading and writing and drawing. I think we should be about done with that, don't you? I want to do something fun like ride and fight and track and hunt!"

"You don't want to read anymore? Ever? I like to read." At Elladan's almost horrified look, Elrohir continued. "But I want to sword fight and shoot arrows too."

"I'm going to ask father if we can start learning weapons. But I'm going to wait until Grandma and Grandpa are here because then father can't say no in front of them! What do you think we'll get for gifts?"

"I suppose Erestor will give us paints or ink or let us pick any book we want to read out of the library. And Lindir will sing a special song. And mother will give us clothes."

"I know all that! I meant from Glorfindel. And Grandma and Grandpa. I hope we get Lorien bows. Or real swords. Or maybe knives!" Elladan jumped up and danced and skipped along the top stair, still killing imaginary orcs and goblins when Lindir burst into the open courtyard on horseback, waving at the twins.

"Elladan! Elrohir! They're here! Go get your parents!"

The two of them ran shouting into the house, returning a few moments later dragging their parents. The courtyard was barely controlled chaos as Galadriel, Celeborn, and their escort arrived and their horses and luggage all seen to. Elrond and Celebrian led her parents to their room while Erestor and Glorfindel showed the guardians to their quarters. The twins followed their grandparents, hanging on to their hands, chattering non-stop.

After everyone was settled in, and dinner had been eaten, Celeborn pushed his chair back and stood up.

"Your Grandmother and I know that your begetting day isn't for a few days yet, but our gift can't be hidden for that long. Your mother and father agreed that we could give it to you tonight, and you can start using them tomorrow. So come with me, twins, we'll go get them."

Celeborn stuck out his hands and each twin took one, jumping up and down and asking over and over what the gift was. The other adults followed a little ways behind as Celeborn took Elladan and Elrohir outside, and toward the stables. Elladan realized first what that meant.

"Horses!! You got us horses!!"

"Well, ponies, actually, you'll be able to ride them for a while yet. But yes. One for each of you. Haldir helped us get some from one of the human settlements on our borders."

The two youngsters ran into the stable where Glorfindel stood holding two almost identical ponies. They were dark brown with brown manes and tails. One had a white blaze and the other had white socks. Elladan ran to one, then the other, giggling as the ponies snuffled into his face.

Elrohir pulled on Celeborn's hand and just stared. "Which one is mine?"

Celeborn pushed him forward and told him, "The four of you will have to decide that."

It didn't take long for Elladan and the pony with the blaze to connect, and Elrohir did likewise with the other pony.

Elrohir announced, "He said his name was Hobbit because he has socks but no shoes!"

Elladan giggled and spoke up, "This is Fire Dancer, because he has a blaze."

The adults left the twins alone with the ponies, though they were told only to talk to and pet them. Celebrian came back to get them for bed.

"Aww. I want to stay out here and sleep in the hay next to Fire Dancer! He'll be lonely the first night here if I don't!"

"If Elladan gets to sleep out here, I do too! Hobbit will be scared too!"

"Nobody is sleeping out here. Ponies sleep in stables. Elves sleep in beds."

"Warriors don't sleep in beds. And Grandpa and Grandma don't sleep in beds on the way here. And …"

"Elladan! That's enough. You will sleep in your bed or you will not get to ride your pony tomorrow."

Elladan and Elrohir both knew that when their mother used that tone of voice, she meant business. They were sure the night would never end, but somehow, it did. The next day dawned bright and clear. The twins were dressed and half way out to the stables when Elrond stopped them and made them come eat a little breakfast.

"Your grandfather is not done with his breakfast anyway. You can't do anything until he's ready, so come eat."

Elrond knew the limits of their patience, so he didn't scold them for not sitting down, he figured as long as they ate something, it didn't matter that they did it standing up. Celeborn finished and let the twins drag him outside. He spent most of the morning helping them ride slowly around the courtyard.

"You are both doing very well. After lunch, maybe I'll get my horse and we can ride down to the river and back, just the three…uh, six of us? But you have to eat a good lunch first."

The boys eagerly agreed and ran in to eat as soon as they were called. They were ready long before Celeborn finished eating and ran outside, promising to stay in the courtyard until he could get there. Elladan, as always, was ready to go further than that.

"But Elrohir, we can't help it if we don't know where the courtyard ends. The ponies want to go now!"

"Elladan, Grandpa will be mad."

"We won't ride far. I just want to go a little ways. Do you remember when Glorfindel rode Asfaloth under that tree and stood up and jumped into the tree? I think we should do that."

"Well…."

"We have to, Elro! We're warriors and warriors have to be able to jump into the trees from their horses' backs!"

Elrohir thought about that. They hadn't actually seen Glorfindel do it. They'd only heard the other guards talking about it. They'd mentioned some sort of wagers too. So Glorfindel must have gotten paid to do it. So that meant that warriors did have to know how to jump into a tree from a horse's back!

"We better go then, so Grandpa can't stop us."

It took them some time to find a tree with low enough branches for them to reach from the ponies' backs. The ponies weren't all that happy about having them stand up either. When they did, they'd clutch at their manes and pull hard if they started to fall. Fire Dancer thought maybe he'd buck once or twice and teach the elfling a lesson.

Somehow, Elrohir managed to scramble up onto the tree limb, then it was Elladan's turn. As he tried to stand up and grab the branch, Fire Dancer decided to enact his revenge. He bucked once, just a little, and Elladan screeched as he lost his balance, flailing his arms about. He was just able to grasp the tree before Fire Dancer ran out from under him, leaving him hanging. Elrohir reached down and grabbed him by the back of his tunic, holding him up. It wasn't a long fall, but Elladan could still get hurt.

They were shouting the whole time and that frightened the ponies into running off.

Elrohir watched them leave and sighed. "At least they went back toward the house. Someone will come for us soon."

"I hope so. Can you help me get up there?"

Though Elladan tried to pull himself up with Elrohir's help, he just couldn't swing his legs hard enough to get up that far. This wouldn't have been a problem except for the appearance of one of the wild cats that roamed the countryside, though usually not this close to the house.

"Elladan. Don't move. There's a big cat looking at you and you have to hold still. Remember? If you don't move, they might not attack."

"How can I not move? I'm just hanging here!"

The big cat circled around on the ground, sniffing the air, then it crouched, ready to jump. The same moment it moved, a yell shattered the air and an arrow hit the cat with a thud. It was dead before it hit the ground. Celeborn rode up, another arrow nocked and ready. When he was sure the cat was dead, he breathed a sigh of relief, his pale face finally getting some color back. He scooped both twins into his arms and started scolding them for riding off without him and for trying to do something as foolhardy and dangerous as…

"What exactly were you doing?"

A very subdued Elladan whispered, "Trying to get up into the tree from the backs of the ponies. We know that warriors have to, so we wanted to practice."

"Where ever did you hear that?"

"Glorfindel does it. We heard the guards talking."

Celeborn snorted. He'd be sure to give Glorfindel a piece of his mind.

~*~

FA, Sailing West

"I believe Glorfindel had to make up for that by mucking out stalls for awhile, didn't he?"

Elladan laughed. "Yes. Though he made us help him."

Celeborn stood and reached for the wine bottle. "More wine, either of you?"

Elladan shook his head and stood. "No thank you. I believe I'll turn in. You coming, 'Ro?"

"I think I will. Good night, Grandfather."

The twins walked back to their cabin, each resisting the urge to take the other’s hand. When they finally arrived, Elladan pushed Elrohir into the room and kicked the door shut behind him; then he pressed Elrohir up against the wall, hungrily kissing him before backing away, grinning.

"I’ve wanted to do that since dinner, but I wasn’t entirely sure Grandfather knows or approves."

Elrohir snorted. "I think he knows. And approves. Partially. I think he's known practically since the beginning."

~*~

TA 644

Elladan and Elrohir had just celebrated their 505th begetting day with the family. They were all in Lorien, having made the trip some weeks before so Celebrian could visit her parents and Elrond could attend a small council meeting with the other Elven leaders. The only elves present for the small celebration were the immediate family, Galadriel, and Celeborn; so it was rather subdued and of short duration. Everyone left shortly after a last glass of wine, most going to their own quarters. The twins arrived at their talan and silently gathered bedrolls and weapons . They planned to hike to a secluded cove near the lake and sleep under the stars.

They built a small fire and laid out their bedrolls, they knew they were safe enough not to post a watch. They were well within Lorien's borders and the guardians of the Galadhrim were famous for their abilities. Besides, nobody, man or beast, traveled into Lorien without Lady Galadriel's knowledge.

"Elrohir? Are you awake?"

"Yes. Why?"

"I have to ask you something and I don't want you to hate me."

Elrohir sat up to look at his twin in concern.

"No. Don't look at me. I need to say this and I can't do it if you're staring at me like that."

Elrohir frowned at his brother but lay back down, careful not to look at him. "Hurry up and tell me then, Elladan, you're scaring me."

Elladan took a deep breath and turned on his side so his back was to his brother.

"This is going to sound sort of bad, but I can't keep quiet any longer. But before I tell you, I have to ask you something. Do you remember at our coming of age celebration when all those girls were practically throwing themselves at us?"

Elladan laughed a bit, then answered. "Yes. Of course I do. I thought if I took advantage of all of those offers, I'd be busy well into the next millennium. I finally decided to turn them all down, so I didn't hurt anyone's feelings."

"Well, I didn't go with any of them for a different reason. I realized I didn't want to. I didn't want to be a with a female."

"There's nothing wrong with that, Ell. To tell you the truth, I've been with males too. I would never hate you for that."

"That's not all of it, Elrohir. I've been with other males too, and I know it's acceptable. But I don't want just any male. I want a certain one, and I don't think he'll want me."

Elrohir reached over and turned Elladan over so he could look him in the eye.

"Who wouldn't want you? They'd have to be crazy to turn you down."

"Well, I haven't exactly asked them yet. Elrohir, please, just let me tell this and get it over with."

Elrohir opened his mouth to say something, then snapped it shut and nodded for Elladan to continue.

The older twin sighed and moved away from Elrohir again, then started talking.

"I've been with other males, like I said. But none of them ever touched my heart. I thought it was just because I was young, and not ready to be attached. But one night I was walking out in the garden and I saw someone—two someones, actually, and they were, uh, intimate. I couldn't stop watching them. And when one of the elves, they were both male, turned around at one point, I felt like he stared right into my eyes, like he could see me, and I felt like I'd been kicked. I knew why I didn't want to be with anyone else permanently, I wanted that elf, the one that I saw that night, and who I'm sure saw me. Do you know who I'm talking about now?"

Elrohir was silent for so long that Elladan thought he'd fallen asleep, but he finally started to speak, emotion choking his voice.

"I saw you that night, Elladan. I knew you were there. And I pretended you were the one I was with. I always did that. It was so much better when you saw us though, because then I didn't have to pretend so hard. Why did you wait so long to tell me this? I've felt the same way, all these long years. I didn't know you did though. I tried to tell myself that when you saw me, and when I looked into your eyes that night that it was just shock on your part, at seeing me with a warrior."

Elladan was suddenly struck with the thought that he'd known it all along, known what Elrohir's feelings were, he'd just ignored them, like he'd ignored his own.

"All those years and years of denying ourselves, and our feelings. But then, it's not as if this is normal, in any way. Maybe we shouldn't even pursue it, Elrohir." Elladan sat up, turning his back on his twin, picking up a twig which he began to twist and shred. "I mean, if we stay together, we'll be damning ourselves. We won't be able to sail west. I wouldn't want to do that to you."

"I don't care, Elladan. What good is eternity if I'm only half of a soul? I'd rather stay here with you than have any forever without you."

"I feel the same. I want to be with you—even if it means staying here when father leaves, as long as we're together, I don't care either. I guess we've both suffered for far longer than necessary, haven't we? Do we tell anyone? I think mother might guess. And Grandmother. Should we deny it if we're asked? I really want to climb the highest mallorn and shout it to the world, but I don't know how realistic that is. Most elves understand two males being together, but I think we've probably crossed a line here."

"Elladan. Shut up and kiss me. We can work out all the details as we go."

~*~

FA, Elladan and Elrohir's cabin

"I think mother knew as soon as we got back that next morning. Actually, it's possible that most of Lorien knew. You were a screamer back then Elrohir. Still are, at times."

Elrohir grinned and tackled Elladan, knocking him onto one of the narrow bunks in the room.

"Oh? I think we'll have to test that and just see who screams now."

~*~

They both got up rather late the next morning, and when they finally emerged from their cabin to go eat breakfast, they tried not to blush too badly at all the snickers and indulgent smiles from the others aboard.

"I said you were a screamer, Elrohir. Look at everyone staring at us."

"They're staring at you, brother. You screamed much louder than I did."

As soon as they finished their meal, they found themselves gravitating toward the ship's bow again.

"You know, Elrohir, it's amazing to me that we're here at all. For so long, I planned on staying behind."

"I did too. I guess the Valar had other ideas though."

~*~

FA, soon after Elrond sails west, the twins are in Minas Tirith

Aragorn had risen early and eaten in his study so he could work on a few particularly sticky problems himself, before all his advisors arrived. That left Arwen alone to eat breakfast with her brothers. She entered the family's private dining room and sat down. The twins arrived shortly after. Once they'd all been served, Arwen cleared her throat and glanced at Elladan, then Elrohir.

"I had a dream about you two last night."

The twins looked at each other, then at Arwen, listening with interest.

"You were standing at the rail of a ship. The sun was going down and the ship was sailing toward the setting sun. You were sailing west. After a bit of time, the ship sailed into a thick fog. It was very thick and heavy. It must have been enchanted because it stopped the ship from moving."

Elladan began to say something but Arwen held up her hand, and continued. "Then it was as if someone drew back a curtain, pulling the fog back and allowing the ship to continue. It sailed in a beam of light, all the way to Valinor. I know, because I saw mother and father waiting for you on the dock, and when you got off the ship, they hugged you. I got the feeling that it was a sign that the Valar would welcome you into Valinor. I hope you'll wait though, before you go?"

Arwen had known from a young age that the twins had a relationship that was different, and more than just being brothers. To her, it had seemed natural. It wasn't until much later that she realized what their special bond meant—that they would have to stay behind, and die. Ironically, that made her own choice easier. She wouldn't lose her whole family. Or at least she hadn't thought so, until that dream.

Elrohir got out of his chair and went to kneel next to Arwen, hugging her. "Arwen, Elladan and I had the same dream. Only we've had it before too. We won't leave for a long while yet. We've already spoken to Grandfather. He's had the same dream."

Elladan joined the other two near Arwen's chair and kissed the top of her head, like he used to do, when they were young. "We were going to tell you, just not right away. But I guess Irmo thought you needed to know now."

"Do you know why they pardoned you? Why they will let you sail? There was another part to my dream. Have you seen it?"

The twins looked at each other, concerned and shook their heads.

"After mother and father led you away from the dock, it was as if I was watching the scenes of father's life passing before me. All the sadness, and sacrifices. All the losses he suffered. All the friends and lovers and family he lost, and all the burdens he carried. Then his sadness at my choice. And his grief knowing that you two would also stay here. Just as I saw him grieving though, starlight filled the sky, and a voice spoke and told me that for all of his suffering and sacrifice, father was granted one boon, he would get to see you two again, and keep you with him forever. Granting him this peace was more important than any punishment that might be deserved."

Arwen paused and smiled. "I'm glad you'll be seeing father and mother again, though I hope you wait for a long time before you leave."

~*~

FA, A small dock in the west

The ship arrived just before sunset. Elladan and Elrohir stood still, scanning the shore for familiar faces. They spotted Celebrian and Elrond at the same time. As soon as the gangway was lowered, they ran down, greeting their parents with undisguised joy. They all talked at once, the twins explaining quickly about the dreams, but Elrond quieted them. He and Celebrian already knew.

"When I came west, and saw your mother, I told her then that I didn't think you'd be here, but we both started having dreams in the last few weeks. We knew you'd be arriving soon. Welcome home."

They started for their house. Elladan and Elrohir held hands.

They were together. And they were home.

******

~End~

 

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