Elladan sat by the light of a candle and read; sometimes he would look up over the edge of the book at his brother. Elladan leaned forward to listen to Elrohir’s breathing, had it changed? He shook his head at his own folly, he was imagining things – or maybe hoping for things was more accurate. In the light of the candle Elrohir looked deathly gaunt.
Softly Elladan closed the book and placed it on the bedside table, reaching for his brother’s hand, it was warm, and besides the fact that it was limp, it felt completely normal. He knew that Elessar’s wedding was eminent, but it was hard to look forward to the event when his twin was laying here all deathlike. He knew that their father had declared that he would bring Elrohir with him back to the undying lands once the wedding was over. Elladan had been furious and had lashed out at his father, how dared he to make that that decision on Elrohir’s behalf, they had promised each other to make the decision together. And now Elladan was left with following his brother or breaking his promise – he was left with no real choice.
The door opened and Legolas stepped inside, he looked tired and worn. “Your father is looking for you.” He said in a hushed tone that seemed to fit the stifled mood in the room.
“I have no desire to speak to him.” Elladan answered flatly, “or you.”
Legolas nodded and fell silent, he walked over and sat on the opposite side of Elrohir’s bed gently brushing hair from Elrohir’s pale cheek. “I’ll stay for a while if you want something to eat or sleep.”
Elladan smiled weakly, and looked up at Legolas. “Are you leaving for Arwen’s wedding with Father’s cortege?”
Legolas seemed to ponder the question for a moment, “Are you?” He then asked softly.
“No.” Elladan said.
“Oh.” Legolas smiled a little sadly, “Are you even going to attend Arwen’s wedding?”
Elladan looked down at his twin, “Elrohir is the one who loves parties, loves the wine and the dancing. Not me.” Elladan’s face was emotionless but his eyes were sad and tired. “I always hated parties and he would make me attend.” He looked up at Legolas, “It just doesn’t seem right that I attend.”
“Elladan.” Legolas said in a stern but soft tone, “He is your twin, but Arwen is your sister and I’m sure she would be terribly disappointed if you don’t attend her wedding.”
Sighing Elladan nodded, “Did my father send you?” He whispered.
“Yes.” Legolas said, “and no.” He idly corrected the hem of Elrohir’s sleeve of his nightshirt. “He asked me to talk to you because you refuse to see him, but my words are my own.”
A long moment of silence followed until Elladan sighed again, he looked down at his hands in his lap. “Your words are true, I would be a terrible brother wouldn’t I?” He grabbed the edges of the book in a white knuckled grasp, “I can’t stop my father from bringing Elrohir to the undying lands.” He bit his lip, “Legolas, ever since I was a child both Elrohir, Arwen and I knew we would be faced with a choice one day, to belong to the firstborn or not. Arwen made her choice out of love, but it destroyed our father much more than you will ever imagine. He was so afraid that Elrohir and I would chose to linger with her and die like mortal men, and while I understand why he would be afraid, he now took that choice from me. I swore to follow Elrohir, and he swore to follow me so that we would never go through what father and his twin did.”
Legolas just sat listening, his blue eyes trained on Elladan in the light of the candle.
“All my life I was afraid of that choice, all my life I tried to pretend it wasn’t ever going to matter.” Elladan stopped talking and his face contorted in a grimace of anger and sorrow.
“You feel betrayed.” Legolas whispered, “I understand.”
“Yes,” Elladan nodded. “Everyone wants to make this choice for me, and a part of me wants to just chose differently, but now that I sit here by Elrohir’s side I wonder if that even ever mattered, the illusion of free will.”
“We don’t want to make the choice for you.” Legolas said softly, “But we love you, and I – I’m sorry I didn’t come here to fight again.”
“But you do.” Elladan’s eyes turned hard as he looked up at Legolas, “Both you and father, and in a roundabout way Elrohir too. You are all trying to convince me that I should follow you to the ships. Father with his angry words, you with your gentle smiles and Elrohir with his silence.”
“Not true.” Legolas said, and for the first time his voice didn’t sound calm and collected. “I worry, that is all.”
“Liar.” Elladan said, but his lips curled up in a little weak smile.
Legolas stood from his side of the bed and walked around the foot of the large bed where Elrohir lay to come to Elladan’s side. He sat down on the bed and reached for Elladan’s thigh with his hand, squeezing it gently. “Elrohir did not chose to fall off that horse.”
“Your father lost his parents, his foster father, his twin, his wife and in some ways his daughter too, can you really blame him for not wanting to lose his sons?” Legolas asked, his grim expression letting up as Elladan placed a hand on his. “I love you,” Legolas said, “If you chose to stay here with Arwen I will stay for as long as you shall breathe, you know this.”
“I know.” Elladan mumbled, “And I wish you wouldn’t.” He looked up at Legolas. “But I also know you; nothing I say would change your mind.”
Legolas smiled sadly, “Right you are.”
“Are you really going to leave with my father’s cortege?” Elladan asked.
“No.” Legolas said scooting a little closer, “I will leave with you.”
“I’m still angry with you, and my father.” Elladan said sourly. “You are pressuring me into making the choice that you’d want to see me take.” He turned sideways to look Legolas directly in the eyes, “You want me to come because you don’t want to be alone, father wants me to come because I’m his child, and Elrohir is silently holding me to a stupid childhood promise.”
“Oh Elladan.” Legolas sighed and finally looked away from the steel grey eyes. “Let’s not fight, please.”
“You want me to speak, but I cannot speak my mind?” Elladan asked, “I fail to see how this solves anything.”
Legolas slowly took his hand back from between Elladan’s thigh and hand, and sat up straight. “I am not afraid of being alone,” He stated, “We are not wedded, I am not even sure you are my lover anymore.” Legolas took a deep breath, “And you are right, I do want you to come with me, I do want us to have the things we dreamed of when the war ended.”
Elladan looked down at his twin for a long while, and then up at Legolas, “I want that too, but not like this.”
Legolas stood from the bed and straightened his tunic, “Time is not a luxury you have.”
“I know.” Elladan mumbled.
“Are you sure you don’t wish for me to stay here for a while so you can sleep?” Legolas asked, already knowing the answer before Elladan shook his head.
Elrohir was collected and placed carefully in a beautifully ornate cart that would take him to the grey havens and wait for Elrond’s party to arrive after Arwen’s wedding. Elladan did not budge, he didn’t come see the wagon leave.
Elrond came to Elrohir’s chamber and found the door locked. He unlocked it only to find Elladan still in the chair. “Son.” He said, “The last elves of Rivendell are leaving, and none are returning.” When he didn’t answer, Elrond continued, “Elrohir was taken to the havens, if you’d rather wait there I am sure that-“
“Father.” Elladan said, “Do you find me cruel?”
“No I do not.” Elrond answered confused, but did not step further into the dark room.
“I think Legolas thinks me cruel.” Elladan stated.
“I think Legolas is waiting for your answer.” Elrond answered. “Who are you punishing, son? You? Him? Me?”
“I didn’t know I was punishing anyone.” Elladan sneered, “I am just trying to figure out what I want.”
“What you want is your love, and your family.” Elrond said.
“Don’t tell me what I want.” Elladan shot back like a petulant child. “It is my choice, and I don’t have to please any of you.”
“True.” Elrond said with a slight nod. “Arwen’s wedding is in seven days, I hope you come, and I hope your rid yourself of which ever evil mood has fallen over you and see reason.” Elrond turned to leave and then stopped. “Legolas is staying behind with you, if nothing else you owe him and answer.”
Elladan didn’t answer, he just waited for his father to leave.
Legolas was in the big empty kitchen, it was strange without the staff he had known since he was a boy and visited with his father. So empty and eerie. He had slept in Elrond’s study because the empty halls and corridors frightened him. A couple of times he had asked himself what he was still doing here, why he was waiting, and what he was waiting for – and for how long he would continue to wait.
He had stood outside the door to Elrohir’s bedchamber, and listened to the door and Elladan’s breathing, sometimes he could hear him crying or maybe it was the wind, he wasn’t sure.
On the third day as Legolas stood in the kitchen and tried to cut some bread that had been left behind for them, he saw a figure out of the corner of his eye. At first he was startled, but soon realized it was Elladan. “Hungry?” He asked and gestured towards the bread.
“Famished.” Elladan answered.
Legolas cut some more bred and handed it to Elladan, “Rivendell is scary when it’s empty, I keep imagining it as an overgrown ruin.”
Elladan nodded, “Someday there won’t be anything left.”
“No, probably not.” Legolas said sadly.
Elladan sat down on a chair left in the kitchen, and looked up at Legolas, “I made up my mind.” He stated, “I will come with you.”
“To Arwen’s wedding?” Legolas asked carefully.
“Yes,” Elladan said as he broke his bread over in two pieces. “And to the havens.”
“That is the –“ Legolas took some long strides towards Elladan and then stopped dead in his tracks. “Thank you.” He said softly. “I won’t ask you why or how, I am just happy that you made up your mind.”
“Took me some time.” Elladan shrugged, “Had to be sure.”
“I understand.” Legolas said with a happy grin, unable to keep the relief out of his voice. And when Elladan took his hand and pulled him down for a kiss, he knew that he had waited for all the right reasons.