Mother had told them to hide.
Elrond pressed his cheek against the inside of the wardrobe. Elros was pressed against his side. They could hear screaming outside their tent. Mother had grabbed the pretty stone from her jewelry box and told the twins to hide when the screaming started, and then she left. She hadn’t come back. The screaming had only gotten louder.
She’ll come back, Elrond thought, squeezing his brother’s hand. She’ll come back for us.
The screaming died down after a while, leaving the boys sitting in silence. Elros tried to get up, but Elrond forced him to sit still.
“Let me go!” Elros hissed. Elrond shook his head.
“Nana said to hide.”
“Nana will come get us when it’s over.”
“Let me go, you big baby – “
The doors to the wardrobe opened suddenly, and the twins toppled out into a small heap on the floor. Elrond looked up – “Nana!” – and froze. Standing over them was not their mother, Elwing, but an elvish man with long black hair dressed in armor covered in blood. The man was holding a sword.
Elrond yelped and grabbed at his brother, attempting to back up back into the wardrobe. The man’s face was shocked, and his eyes softened a bit at the motion.
“I… I’m not going to hurt you. See?” He took his bloody sword and sheathed it before kneeling down to be at the twins’ level. “This… is Elwing’s tent, is it not? You… I did not know she had children.”
Elrond and Elros jumped back. Elros shoved Elrond behind himself, sending the grey-eyed elfing toppling onto his butt inside the wardrobe with a less-than-dignified squawk. The elven man – Maglor – did not rise as the new elf stormed into the tent, merely looking to the side so as to keep both the twins and the red-haired newcomer in his sights.
“Brother….” Maglor said in soft, warning tones.
“Come on,” the red-haired elf snapped. “We’re wasting our time here. Elwing the White has fled the field.”
Maglor closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. “She left?”
“She took the Silmaril with her. We’ve no reason to linger. Enough blood as been spilt in this pointless endeavor. We must regroup; find Amras – “
Maglor’s voice was almost too quiet to hear, but that didn’t stop Elrond from catching the soft “Amras is dead” that left the stranger’s lips, nor did he miss the way the redhead’s grip on his own blade laxed or the shutter in his breath.
The silence was broken by Elros raising his head high, grey eyes wild as he stamped his foot. “You’re lying! Mother wouldn’t leave us!”
The redhead’s eyes shifted and hardened, staring down Elrond’s dear sweet stupid brother. Elrond scrambled to get up, tugging on Elros’ sleeve to make him stand down, make him shut up –
“She’ll come back!” Elros would not be deterred. “She’ll come back for us, you’ll see!”
Elrond was watching the redheaded elf’s blade, watching his hand grip it’s handle tighter, watching his knuckles turn white and shake.
“Murderers!” Elros spat in Maglor’s face. Maglor carefully whipped the spit from his cheek. Was it careful? Or was it deliberate? Was this patience, or a warning? Elrond tugged on Elros’ sleeve again.
“Your mother,” the redheaded elf growled, “is a thief and a coward.”
“Elros, stop,” Elrond begged.
“Kano,” the redhead addressed the elf he’d previously called Maglor, “we are done here. Let’s go.”
Maglor or Kano or whatever his name was didn’t move. “We can’t leave them here, Maedhros.”
“Can’t we?” Maedhros snapped, pointing his sword at Elros and Elrond. “Let their own kin take care of them.”
Maglor spoke again in that soft tone, as if he thought speaking quiet enough might keep the twins from hearing or lessen the blow. “We killed their kin….”
“More elves will come through here. They’re not our business. You said it yourself, brother: we killed their kin. We're not taking them with us.”
Now Maglor looked angry. He finally stood, rounding on Maedhros. He shot a hand out, gesturing aggressively at the twin elflings. “Because that worked out so well the last time you let other elves care for twin children from the line of Lúthien Tinúviel,” the man snarled, sounding for the first time in this conversation cruel. Maedhros stepped back as if he’d been smacked.
“That – I never meant – “
“It doesn’t matter what you meant! I cannot bear to watch another set of twins die from our negligence - !” Maglor’s voice caught, and he tore his eyes from his elder brother. Silence stretched on.
Elrond knew one thing: the dark-haired elf was right. Their mother had left them. And he and Elros were clueless as to how to take care of themselves. If everyone was dead, who knew how long it would take for them to be found? They’d starve, in all likelihood.
Elrond wasn’t about to watch his brother starve.
“…She’ll come back,” Elrond broke into the silence, seeing that Maedhros was neither denying or acquiescing. His eyes snapped to Elrond, and the little elf held the kinslayer’s gaze. “She’ll trade you for us. She wouldn’t leave us, she’ll… she’ll give you your pretty rock. She’ll trade it for us.”
If Elrond didn’t know better, he’d think the look in the kinslayer’s eyes was pity.
“Please, Nelyo,” Maglor pressed, his back still toward Elrond and Elros.
“…They’re your responsibility, hánoincë….”