"Don't make that face, Hal-nin." Rumil teased gently as one elder brother checked his armor, and the other his weapons. No matter that Rumil was an experienced soldier, had been for several thousand years. No matter that Faronglas, older than all of them, had already done the same. Haldir and Orophin had been father and mother to Rumil, as well as his brothers, for several years. It had been thousands of years ago, but once responsible for a life, always responsible for a life, Rumil supposed. That didn't mean he wouldn't keep trying to get them to relax, though. "After all, iaur-muindor, your face might freeze that way, and then you would terrify those elves who don't know you well all the more." Rumil joked lightly.
Haldir raised an eyebrow at his baby brother but didn't bother to reply aloud. If aid was to be sent to the Rohirrim, it had to be Rumil. So Naneth had said, and they did not doubt her. But Haldir didn't have to like it. And he didn't. But it was Rumil's call.
"Well, no real loss." Orophin, as always, was willing to respond to Rumil's weak jest with a cleverer one of his own. "Its well agreed I'm the fair one of the three of us, after all."
The fair one, the one who saw the future strangely strong, the one who could hear their Naneth's voice across the length and breadth of Arda. Aye, that was Orophin. And Haldir was their leader, and Celeborn's heir apparent as leader of Lothlorien's military. Both needed, in the days to come. Needed for prosaic reasons, and for reasons Rumil didn't even like to think of. But they all knew what would need to be, if Sauron gained the one ring while Naneth still wore Nenya. And Rumil feared he would hesitate...but his brothers would not. Haldir, because he met his fate without flinching, and because his faith in what their Lord and Lady believed to be true was absolute. Orophin, because he'd seen visions of those futures, where Sauron wrested control of Galadriel and her ring.
But Rumil could go to the aid of the Rohirrim, taking with him those elves who remembered and honored their auld alliance with the men of Middle Earth, and who could be spared from the defense of Lothlorien. Rumil had been the smallest of elflings when last elves and men fought side-by-side in great numbers, during the War of the Last Alliance. His and his brothers' own birth father, Emlyn, had laid down his life in the last Battle of the Last Alliance. Rumil, as a very young soldier, had dared to ride from Lothlorien to Arnor, carrying the warning of a dying messenger from the King of Gondor to the King of Arnor. Rumil had been knighted by the human King of Arnor for his valor in daring that trip, as unimpressed as his parents and his siblings had been with Rumil's behavior, at that time. But it made Rumil one of the dozen or so surviving knights of Lost Arnor. And that meant something, to Rumil.
Besides, the Lady Mithrellas had been been kind to Rumil once, and Theoden-King of Rohan was her long-son, as much as was Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth. And Prince Galador and Princess Gilmith, the children of Lady Mithrellas and Prince Imrazor, had been Rumil's friends. Imrazor himself had been the friend of Amroth, who had been Rumil's King, as well as his cousin, by adoption. That history of kindness and friendship meant something, to Rumil.
"That is your gift, ion-nin. That your heart will always see your path clearly." Galadriel said to Rumil in parting. Rumil wasn't startled; his Nana often had trouble remembering that it was polite to wait for people to speak aloud before replying to their thoughts. His Adar beside his Naneth gave a long-suffering sigh, but Galadriel worried was more likely to forget the social niceties. And it was clear his Naneth was worried.
His sisters-by-law, Silwen and Eilunwen, had accompanied his mother, and both smiled mistily to see Lady Galadriel abandon dignity and throw her arms around her youngest son. Rumil returned the embrace gladly, though he wasn't surprised by it in the slightest. His Naneth wasn't normal, but all of her children knew she loved them. And not everyone's Naneth would wake a child from a nightmare with hot cider and a favorite snack already prepared, as she'd known they were likely to have a foul dream that night.
Galadriel stroked his face and stepped back, and Silwen hugged Rumil fiercely. "Be careful, sweetling." She said into his ear, and "And remember, when you are with the humans, not to use the Westron words my husband says when he is angry." Rumil nodded and promised, grateful for Silwen's love and care. She had been married to Haldir for over two thousand years, and was almost like another, more practical mother to him, as well as an oldest sister-by-law.
And then Rumil's arms were full of pale-haired, delicate Eilunwen, his brother Orophin's wife of only a few centuries, and the youngest of all of them by the better part of two centuries. "Don't get killed, or hurt." Eilunwen warned in her breathy, teasing voice. "For if you do, they'll never let you go anywhere by yourself again, and then who will uphold the honor of the youngest siblings?" Rumil laughed merrily, glad for Eilunwen's camraderie. She and Orophin were often in Greenwood or Imladris, but when Eilunwen was in Lothlorien with him, Rumil had an ally he could depend on in family squabbles.
Then Eilunwen stepped aside, and Lord Celeborn looked on his youngest son with affectionate, worried eyes. "Listen to Faronglas, as well as to your heart." Rumil's Adar told him sternly. "For Faronglas has fought against Sauron's forces twice before, and may know tricks you and yours recognize not. Tell Estel to listen to Faron, too."
Rumil nodded obediently, clasping his Adar's arm and allowing himself to be pulled into a hug by the stern war-leader of Lothlorien. Few outside the family were aware, but Lord Celeborn was a loving father, as well as a great statesman and leader of elves. All around Rumil, the elves who were to accompany him were saying farewell to their own loved ones, but Rumil sensed surprise at seeing the Lord and Lady of the Wood acting like any other parents.
Then his parents and sisters-in-law withdrew a bit, and Rumil and his brothers were alone. At the same time, they reached out to clasp one another's arms, forming a small circle of brotherly love in the lee of the wood. At the beginning of this age, they had stood together, the three of them alone against all the world. This age had brought them joys and sorrows they could never have imagined, but they remained as close as brothers could be. Carys and Emlyn's sons, the adopted sons of Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn, the brothers of Celebrian, and by marriage of Elrond. The cousins of Ecthelion by blood, and the uncles of Celebrian's children, which by marriage would soon include Isildur's heir, if they were lucky. Always, the three of them together. Now Rumil's heart led him to make a separate stand, as this age ended.
"Be well, Ru, muindor-dithen. Be safe. You will be far away, but our hearts shall stand together." Haldir said softly.
Rumil nodded, and Orophin nodded. Sometimes big brother, though the least loquacious of them, still said it best. They embraced one last time, and Rumil departed at the head of his command, moving at the fast, fluid, mile-eating glide that was an elven march.
Rumil was a little glad to be past the part of their departure where his brothers acted like clucking hens. He gave Faronglas a look out of the corner of his eyes, to be sure Galadriel and Celeborn's long-time retainer and Rumil's own former elflinghood minder was not going to feel the need to play the role of all-knowing elder on this particular trip.
Faronglas grinned back at Rumil good-humoredly. "No, my young Lord, I long ago realized you had more or less learned to lace your own tunics."
Rumil rolled his eyes, but was grateful to know that Faronglas was here, to correct him if he made a mistake, or to tell him if Faron had a suggestion. But that Faronglas would back off and let Rumil lead, otherwise. And then Rumil paid attention to leading his column, for if Orophin's and his Naneth's visions were true, time was very short, indeed.
Pounding hooves drew Rumil's attention, but the horn calling a friend made the column relax, and continue at its best pace.
It was Orophin, and Galadriel's retainer Sendoron mounted with him. Orophin's eyes were glazed, a vision just retreating. "Listen when Estel calls out to you, my brother, please." Orophin pleaded with Rumil in Nandorin, the language of their earliest memories.
"I always listen to our nephews. Why wouldn't I listen to Estel?" Rumil asked, bemused. He was the least likely of any of him or his brothers to take someone less seriously, just because that person was human and younger.
"We'll listen, Orophin-lad. Don't worry." Faronglas soothed without pausing. Rumil caught his brother's eyes, and nodded firmly. Even Haldir didn't ignore Orophin, when he spoke from a vision.
Orophin nodded back, relieved, and then dismounted. He and Sendoron waited gravely until the column was out of sight, while Orophin's vision-sickness gradually receded. "Be well, baby brother." Orophin whispered one last time, before returning home. For this was a youngest son's gambit, and he and Haldir and the rest of their family would have to wait, and hope.