The small clearing was the definition of idyllic. It was covered in bright green grass that shone like emeralds, and water droplets from the recent rain looked almost like diamonds on each stalk. The trees that surrounded it stood tall and proud, their branches rustling in the warm summer breeze while birds of all types sung their songs.
Then the stillness of the clearing was broken by a quiet sneeze.
It wasn't very loud in the grand scheme of things, but it was enough to send the birds resting on nearby tree branches flying up into the air and away. The small girl who'd made the sound clapped her hands over her mouth, watching wide-eyed as the meadow settled back into stillness, this time without the birdsong that it had previously been filled with.
"I didn't mean to scare them away," Arwen whispered, her words muffled slightly by the hands covering her mouth. Her eyes filled with tears.
One of her older brothers laughed, the sound almost as melodic as the birds' songs had been. "Do not worry," Elrohir said, crossing his legs and sinking down onto the green grass at the edge of the clearing. "If we wait, they will return."
The girl brought her hand down from her face as she turned towards him, her tearful expression immediately shifting into a hopeful one. "Promise?"
Her other brother dropped down to the ground beside him, his movement almost as graceful as that of his twin. "We promise," Elladan told her. "Sit with us and watch."
Her frown twisted upwards, replaced almost instantly by a smile that threatened to outshine the sun. Without a word, she plopped down on the grass between them and immediately started turning her head from side to side, clearly trying to find the promised birds.
Both of her brothers shared a look, their mouths twitching in amusement as they carefully hid their laughter. They shared a long look, an entire conversation happening without a sound, before Elrohir nodded in acquiescence.
Elladan reached down to pull lightly at their Arwen's hair.
She turned towards him instantly, an affronted look on her face that looked almost exactly like their father's. Combined with her slightly chubby cheeks, with years still to go before she grew into maidenhood, it was an almost comical combination. It took some effort, but the twins quickly schooled their faces, hiding their amusement.
"You must be patient," Elladan said, smiling down at her. "Here, would you like me to braid your hair as we wait for the birds to return?"
Arwen bit her lip, playing worriedly with it for a moment as her gaze drifted around the still-silent clearing. Then she nodded. "If you must," she said, as if she was granting him a boon by allowing him to help her with the ornate braids that she loved but was usually judged too young to wear. The slight air of impatience gave her away, though.
Elladan nodded at her seriously, pretending that he didn't notice. "I insist."
She shifted, crawling forward from her position beside him to just in front of him instead. Her knees would be a mess of grass stains and mud by the time they made it home that evening, and both of her brothers knew it. Still, it was worth it to see her smile.
There wasn't nearly enough to smile about lately, after all.