In fall, they hunted hart and boar; come winter, they hunted the orcs. Winter made the evil creatures desperate, both more of a threat in their daring and less hardy. Coming down from the pass of Caradhras, the pair of warriors had cleared out several orc-dens already, with arrow, fire, and sword. Two might seem few for such deeds. But these were the twin sons of Elrond. They were elf-kin lean and strong, riding on wise horses that were weapons and allies themselves. And they had sworn an oath together that any orc that dared block the path to Lorien, who might be of the kin who had snared and tormented their mother, should die.
Now, they were destroying a third orc camp. The ground was wet and stony, and they had not been able to trap the orcs with brushfire. They harried them with broad swords and wordless cries of anger. Whoever watched would have thought it a cruel slaughter, save for the loathing that twisted the goblins' faces further. Those that did not flee fought against inevitable defeat because they wanted to spear the hated warriors' bright eyes.
As the crebain-crows flew down to await the carrion, the two elf-kin slew the wounded and stabbed each corpse one last time. Before they rode away, they cleaned their swords and swiftly checked the camp's tattered remains. Astonishing plunder had been found in the hands of the orcs at times; swords of old, jewels of name, books whose pages were half gone from foul use but that were worth saving. But they found nothing of note, and left after little time, riding fast and far.
From the foothills of the mountain Caradhras, they rode over bare highlands, down into brushwood of pine and holly. Before the two riders were born, this had been a country of the High Elves, the land of Eregion. There had been more trees then; still enough remained to give good shelter. They found a hollow in the hills where they had camped before, ringed in wit h thick holly trees and bushes, a blessed shield from the winter wind. There was even some grazing for the horses.
Elrohir spoke first, and to his horse, as he undid his gear. "Arroch, good one, strong one, our hunt is done. You may rest this night, and then we ride back to Imladris." The horse Arroch whickered and nudged his shoulder happily, and the other horse, Losbrind, tossed her mane.
Elrohir turned to his brother. "Yes, our hunt is done, and ill done this day. If half that clan did not elude us, I am an orc myself. I told you we should have ventured fire!"
"Fire with what? The carrock of their camp was bare and wet; all the brush went to their own goblin burnings. Not all my lore can kindle where there is nothing to burn. We did the best we might." Elladan's grey eyes were sharp in the blue dusk.
"We'll find them there again in the spring," growled Elrohir, "and we must do our work twice."
Elladan shrugged. "Of course we will. That is the best camp on that trail. I say we take them again next year, in the waning summer, when the hills will burn at our bidding."
"It is ill hunting in summer. They have too much cover from the gorse and thorn."
"Elrohir. I am too tired to quarrel. No fire for our camp tonight, do you think? We're still close to the pass." As his brother made a noise of agreement, Elladan took off his helm, then bent at the waist to peel his mail-shirt off over his head. Elrohir began to remove his own gear of war. They were arrayed alike, both dressed in grey, and each had braided the other's long, dark hair in one solid plait. The only way to tell them apart by looking at them was to watch their movements and how thoughts showed in their handsome faces. Elrohir pounced like a hunting hound. His twin Elladan was more cautious and slow, like a great wildcat.
"One thing is certain," said Elladan, "I am not telling Father how badly that went. He will seize any excuse to keep us bound to Rivendell."
Elrohir nodded. "Especially since we rode to the war in Rohan against his wishes. Perhaps we might meet him in the middle, and take more riders with us. If any are brave enough to come. Mother was the Lady of Rivendell. Men and Dwarves start wars for the honor of their kin. Why shouldn't we?"
Elladan moved to a sheltered spot in the hollow and sat down, speaking clearly. "We two are young beyond the youth of our fading people. There are hardly enough warrior-hardy in Rivendell for a muster, and Lorien barely maintains its own marches. Besides, I am loth that another should die on our errand of revenge."
Elrohir came and sat beside him. "You are always right," he said.
Elladan placed his hand upon his twin's shoulder. "My heart agrees with you, even if my thoughts do not."
"Just as when we were children." Elrohir covered the hand on his shoulder with his own. Looking at his twin's warm glance, and feeling the hand resting peacefully beneath his, intuition rang in him. This was the night to venture his desire, with all the wilds to guard them. Even if he failed, there was still the long ride home on which to make amends.
"I still owe you an apology from our youth, you know; for the time Lindir came on us close together and chided us."
"I'm surprised you remember that particular mischief," said Elladan, "considering all the times Lindir had cause to scold us."
"No-one is here to chide us now. We may be as close as we please. Do you take my meaning?" He folded his hand around Elladan's, rubbing his twin's wrist sensuously with his thumb.
Elladan took his hand back with a frown. "You are only hot-blooded, Elrohir."
"No! It is more than that. I am not as fine-tongued as you, so I thought long before I spoke. It has come to me many times when we lifted swords, that I prayed it would not be your death."
"I am glad you are so confident in me," Elladan snapped.
Elrohir went on, though his voice dropped to a whisper. "And when I touched others, my thoughts turned to you, whether I would or no."
"There are so many others for you," said Elladan. He turned his face away so that his twin would not see the yearning behind his harsh words.
Elrohir stood up. "No! Maybe. But you do not listen to me. I -- I -- forget I spoke!" He drew in upon himself and stalked away to stand by the horses, pulling his cloak tight around him.
Elladan watched him. Elrohir looked very fair; tall and sad, framed against the deepening dusk and the bright-burdened holly. The two horses did not hesitate, but came up to their friend, and he greeted them with gentle touches. The blue evening was silent around them. Elladan saw the peace and beauty before him clearly, and plumbed the depths of his own spirit. He breathed deeply and stood, having made his choice.
"If our good steeds do not turn from you, perhaps it is because you seem innocent to them." Elrohir looked up at his twin's forgiving words, and bounded over to where he stood. Elladan did not meet his eyes or move away. Elrohir embraced him, trying to warm the one with the willing heart and the chill mind with his caresses.
Elladan closed his eyes as his brother's hands roamed over him, and though his shoulders were rigid, he leaned towards Elrohir. The smooth planes of their faces brushed together. Elrohir turned his twin's mouth to him with a gentle hand. The two sank together into a deep kiss, drinking of the pleasure of kissing until they reeled. They did not feel the cold, or the hard ground when they sank down in their rib-cracking embrace.
Elrohir was nearly wild to cram his body against Elladan's and feel their shared arousal. He flung his fur-lined cloak upon the ground beneath a great holly and urged Elladan down with him. Without preamble, he grabbed Elladan's crotch and rubbed the hardness he felt through the grey winter wool. "You, too," he said, drawing his twin's hand towards him. Instead, Elladan came forwards and lay on top of him. Elrohir was charmed to see what a tight match they were, inch for inch, able to press their hardnesses beside each other like pieces of a sundered cup. Elladan was stricken by the intensity in Elrohir's face, until his brother smiled and rolled away.
"This is ever the awkward part," laughed Elrohir, as he pulled away as little of his clothing as he might, between desire and the cold night.
"Oh, come now," chuckled Elladan. "You ease disrobing with some words. I fain wouldst see every inch of you; I must have at thee now; do not deny me; wait, I have a few other old chestnuts to make flour of for these moments…"
"Take them down! There are my words!"
Once Elrohir had his will in this, he grasped Elladan at the root. Even this was strangely like to himself. Curious after seeing his twin shudder at the same touches he himself preferred, Elrohir leaned over and used his mouth for something he thought better than speech, more delicious than song. Lordly though he was at all times, there was always a joy in this sensual act for him. To bend so to Elladan primed the well of a deep hunger in him.
"Turn about, lie over here, and we shall please each other thus," said Elrohir. As soon as they lay head to feet, they slid closer along and each took the other in orally. Elrohir was doubly delighted to be caught into such a circle of pleasure. For all Elladan's discretion about whatever lovers had come his way, he was skillful, using his mouth and hands equally. Even as Elrohir reached up to add his own hands to his twin's pleasure, he jolted in unexpected, hot release, overwhelmed by the long desire made real.
Elladan did not demand his own satisfaction. He turned beyond the cloak on which they lay, and coughed and spat, throwing a guilty glance at his twin as he murmured an apology. "It is no matter," said Elrohir, pulling the sad one back into his arms to lean sitting against the bole of the holly-tree. They looked at each other, faces pale against the darkness.
Elrohir tucked one of his arms around Elladan's shoulders, and tried to kiss the mouth that had given him release. Elladan first shied away, thinking that such a kiss would besmirch his brother, and then his eyes lit with an idea. Out of a pocket he pulled a flask of miruvor, the cordial of Imladris, and freshened his mouth with a small sip of it. Now he came willing to another kiss. The heat of the clear metheglin-liquor gave his lips extra fire and sweetness.
"Your mouth is hot to burning," said Elrohir, sending his embracing arm's hand burrowing under his brother's tunic, to stroke the top of his chest. He sent his other hand below the waist, to find that Elladan was still yearning and needful. Elladan's shoulders were still tense in his circling arm, and his eyes were closed again. So Elrohir spoke to ease his new lover's heart first, hoping to pass the wards of his inhibitions. "I am sorry now for all my other lovers, for they only made my path to you longer. Nobody else feels like you, so balanced between smooth skin and a touch of pelt."
"There is one other, and that is you. There are none like us of mingled blood and twinship. We are alone in kind, save for each other."
"That is why I would have no other, even though we are kin. You are so good to me, to accept this."
"Think you that you stood alone in this wanting, deep-seeing one? I spoke of innocence before, as if our lust was some play from boyhood. But I have mused on this long as well, with the hot and brooding mind of a man. My thoughts are scorched with desire for you!" Elladan opened his eyes, and they were dilated dark in the shadows.
"Elladan!" said his brother. The clasped elf-man melted into the transgressive embrace, and joined his hand to the hand that held him so intimately.
"Yea, my dreams marred my thought. I reasoned against our laws that little could be ill about the love of one so close to me, that like should turn to like. My twin, my self made braver and warmer in you!" Elrohir kissed him gladly at that, but Elladan turned to speak more, soft and fierce. "That is only a pretty lie. It is wrong, for you are my brother." Elladan's breath steamed the cold air for moment, as he drew courage. "But since you turned to me, I am beyond heed of laws. My heart and body will never be sated with anything but our incest."
Shaken, Elrohir whispered, "What did you think on for so long?"
"I searched the books of lore, seeking a tale of any twain such as we who loved with any blessing. There were none. So I lost myself in visions of what your touch might be; sweetest hallow of passion, compelling curse of lust. How I ached to hold your strength and boldness in my arms! I longed to have every part of you to the full, wanted you to pin me down and take me. Yes, to have you take me hard. Elrohir, Elrohir, do not deny me. Do not leave me!"
Elrohir felt his twin's arousal come near the peak as he spoke, heated by his own words. He crushed Elladan's shoulders to him with the embracing arm, and let his stroking hand pace fast. "Leave you - never. I will not let you go! I will take you, and please you, until you will have no other. I'll take you this very night, though I pain you, to show you I speak true!" Elladan turned his face into his brother's shoulder, and moaned his brother's name as he came.
They stayed still until they felt the chill of the winter night again. For the first time, they wrapped both their cloaks around both their bodies together, craving the warmth of each other's closeness. "Whence from here, Elrohir?" sighed Elladan.
"We go on," Elrohir said, picking a dead holly leaf out of Elladan's hair. "With everything; our oath and our love." They both fell silent for a moment, at the soft, momentous word there was no denying.
"And the one will strengthen the other," agreed his twin. They kissed again. "We may be discreet in our father's house, when we have all the wilds for our pleasure on our errantry," said Elladan.
"You are right yet again. At least we have a long journey yet, and being free to hold you, I do not feel the cold. I should tell Arroch we will be riding slow and easy."
Elladan gave him a lambent look. "Especially if you mean to keep your promise to me." The crisp holly-leaves beneath the cloak whispered and crackled as they moved together again, even as the first stars were full-lit in the sky.