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A Little Misunderstanding
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
One

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognizable characters; I am only borrowing them for fun for a little while. They belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.

Many thanks to J, Fiondil, and Marsha for beta reading this chapter for me.

Probably AU as I doubt that Elladan and Elrohir would have returned to the Dúnedain villages while Aragorn was growing up in Imladris, or if they did, then they would not have spoken about Aragorn. There would have been too much risk involved and they were trying to keep his existence a secret. Dolomar is a Dúnedain village from my Brothers at Heart story.


~~~

A Little Misunderstanding


Halhigal and Halbarad looked up at the cry of welcome that rang out, breaking the quiet of the late afternoon. A brief smile crossed the lips of the man at the sight of the two elves riding through the village gate while the little boy just stared. Carefully setting aside the sword he had been sharpening, Halhigal left the smithy and hurried towards the gate with his son trotting alongside him.

“Who are they, Ada?” Halbarad asked, glancing up at his father and then back at the elves who were dismounting.

“The Lords Elladan and Elrohir, sons of Elrond, Lord of Imladris,” Halhigal replied automatically but somewhat absently as a frown creased his brow.

“Oh,” said the boy, his face almost an exact replica of his father’s as he tried to remember when he had seen the elves before; they looked so familiar to him. But he knew that he would have to ask his father later because he seemed very worried about something. The elves were so tall that Halbarad had to tilt his head way back to see their faces. It was then he realized that they looked the same and his frown deepened into a scowl.

“Well met, my lords,” Halhigal greeted the brothers with a slight bow before tightly grasping their arms in turn.

“Well met indeed, Halhigal,” said Elrohir, Elladan echoing his greeting as he glanced around the village.

“Gilost, Baisael, come and take their horses,” Halhigal called to the two young men who were lingering at the gate.

Elrohir turned his gaze down on Halbarad and a soft smile graced his lips. “It is good to see you again, young one. You have grown much since I saw you last.”

Halbarad’s eyes widened as he stared at Elrohir. His gaze flicked to Elladan and then back to Elrohir. Fear overcame him as he slowly remembered who they were and when he had seen them before. They had taken Aragorn away! His ada had said that Aragorn would come back someday, but now these elves were here and Aragorn wasn’t with them. Halbarad began backing away from Elrohir. What if they wanted to take him this time? He was not going to go with them; he did not want to leave his ada and his nana and his friends. With a small cry, Halbarad turned and dashed away, aiming for his favorite hiding place in a small shed at the back of the smithy.

0-0-0-0-0

Halhigal stared after Halbarad, absolutely shocked. What had gotten into the boy, he wondered. He’d never seen him act that way before; his son had appeared absolutely terrified. He glanced back at the elves to see dismay reflected in Elrohir’s eyes while an expression he could not read graced Elladan’s face.

“We will see to the horses ourselves while you see to your son,” said Elladan, turning and following the young men who were even now leading the horses into the stables.

“Forgive me…”

Halhigal held up his hand to interrupt Elrohir’s apology. “There’s nothing to forgive; we don’t even know what’s wrong,” he said, shaking his head a little. “Come to the house when you’ve settled your horses.” Elrohir gave one short nod of his head before following his brother to the stables.

As he walked in the direction Halbarad had run, Halhigal tried to think of anything that might be bothering his son. He had seen the elves before; they’d been in Dolomar several times in the past six or seven years, though not since they’d taken Aragorn and Gilraen to Imladris almost two years ago. That thought gave him pause. What had brought the elf-lords to the village? Was something wrong with young Aragorn? No, he quickly decided, neither elf had appeared ill at ease or unduly upset as if they were the bearer of bad news. Halhigal well remembered the day Elladan and Elrohir had brought home the body of Arathorn son of Arador. Never had he seen elves as visibly emotional or distraught as he had that day. He stopped near the smithy, frowning, and looking around.

“If you’re looking for Halbarad, he went around the back of the smithy.”

Halhigal turned his gaze to Faelon who was sitting nearby on a wooden bench with his injured leg propped up on a small piece of firewood. His young daughter, Braniell, was sitting cross-legged on the grass in front of the Ranger, playing with her doll. But she paused and stared up at the acting chieftain for a brief moment before returning to her play.

“Thank you. How do you fare?” Halhigal asked, gesturing towards the bandaged leg. Faelon was fortunate that the orc’s blade hadn’t been poisoned; the long, deep, ragged gash ran from his upper thigh to his knee. He owed his life to the competent hands of the patrol’s healer and to his patrol captain who had pushed their horses hard to get them home quickly enough that the village healer was able to complete the job the young healer had begun.

“I’m doing well. I won’t be re-joining my patrol for awhile though.”

“Ladreníl’s patrol will be back in a few months and…”

“Halbarad was crying,” Braniell interrupted Halhigal and he looked down at her, startled by her words. His son was crying? When he wasn’t injured in any way? The boy was seven years old… he shook himself from his thoughts. He wouldn’t find the answers to his questions standing here.

“I best go find him then,” he said with a swift glance at Faelon who gave the smallest of shrugs. Puzzled, and wondering if he should get Nimrie – a thought he quickly dismissed – Halhigal continued on his way.

0-0-0-0-0


Elrohir silently brushed Caranor as he waited for the boys to finish their chores and leave the stables. He did not want them to overhear his conversation with Elladan regarding Halbarad. While Men were often uneasy, even fearful, around him and other elves, never had he seen such terror as he’d seen in the little boy’s eyes. That the child was Dúnedain made it even more unusual, especially as Halbarad had seen him before. Elrohir glanced toward the door as the boys left and then turned when his brother spoke.

“We should not have come,” said Elladan, a hard edge to his voice that Elrohir seldom heard.

“Perhaps not,” he conceded. “Yet Gilraen asked that we…”

“One of the patrols would have passed on word of her and Estel’s well being,” Elladan interrupted. “You know that. We should not have come back,” he repeated softly, one hand tightly clenching the brush he was holding, the other wrapped in the thick black mane of his horse.

Elrohir set his brush down and went to his brother, opening the stall door and stepping inside. He absently patted Pilimor as he placed a hand on Elladan’s shoulder. “It was not your fault, Elladan,” he said, repeating words he had spoken many times over the past year and a half, words that had fallen on deaf ears. “Not even Adar could have helped him.”

“But the orcs would not have had a chance to shoot Arathorn if I had returned earlier with the scouting party. There would have been enough of us to protect him and he would still be alive,” said Elladan, staring down at the straw covered floor.

Elrohir stared at him, nonplused. So that was what was truly upsetting his brother. Always before had he indicated his grief and anger was because of his inability to do anything to heal Arathorn. An arrow to the eye was not something anyone recovered from and so Elladan’s self-recrimination had confused Elrohir. It had never occurred to him that his brother believed his mere presence earlier in the battle could have saved their friend. He was simply thankful that Elladan and the others had returned and driven off the remaining orcs before many more of the Rangers had been killed or wounded.

“You cannot truly believe that, Elladan!” he finally said, tightening his grip on his twin’s shoulder. “Those orcs fell on us unexpectedly and nothing you could have done would have saved Arathorn. He died in the first few minutes of the battle and no one could have protected him from an arrow – you know that. Why do you persist in believing it was your fault, my brother?”

Silence filled the stables; the only sounds the shuffling of horses’ feet on the straw in their stalls and an occasional snort or low whicker from one of the animals. Elrohir was quite content to simply wait for Elladan to speak, knowing full well that he would as soon as he had gathered his thoughts. It took longer than Elrohir thought it would and he had begun wiping down Elladan’s saddle when his brother began to speak, his voice low as if to make sure that no one overheard him.

“Before we left Imladris I had a dream that showed Arathorn in danger.” Elladan looked up and stared hard at his brother. “I did not believe it to be a vision - you know I do not have the gift of foresight such as Adar has, but I was uneasy nonetheless. I did not see him dying, just in some sort of grave danger… it was not a clear picture,” he said, shaking his head slightly. “I swore that I would not leave his side while we were on that patrol, but someone needed to scout ahead…”

“And I was injured,” Elrohir interrupted his brother. It had not been a severe injury, a small slice to his calf that had required stitches, but Elladan had insisted he stay behind. “Do you blame me for Arathorn’s death then?” he asked, watching his brother closely and seeing his twin’s eyes widen in surprise.

“You? Why would I blame you?”

Elrohir gave a small shrug. “Why would you not? If I had not been so foolish as to let that orc’s sword slice open my leg, then I would have been out scouting and you could have protected Arathorn as you had planned.”

Elladan simply stared at his brother for a long moment. He finally took a deep breath and turned away, leaning against the wall and staring at the back of the stall. “It is foolish of me to think that I could have stopped it, but…”

“But you were close to Arathorn, and now you see Gilraen without a husband and young Estel without a father and wish you could have done something different,” Elrohir said in a quiet voice. “It was not your fault, Elladan, you know that is true.” He studied the back of his brother, uncertain as to what else he could say to convince him.

“I do know that,” Elladan finally replied, turning around as he did so. “I have known it since it happened, Elrohir, but, still I feel I should have done more. Though,” he said with a soft sigh, “I know not what that is.”

Elrohir embraced his brother tightly; there were no words he could offer in comfort. Elladan clung to him for a moment, then stepped back a pace, a wan smile on his lips.

“Perhaps we did need to come here, my brother.”

“Perhaps,” Elrohir agreed as he left the stall to return to his own horse. “But you would eventually have confided in me no matter where we were,” he said as he began brushing Pilimor again. Elladan did not dispute that. “Hurry, though, I am anxious to see why we caused young Halbarad such terror, and to do what we can to relieve it.”

“It seems my work is almost finished,” Elladan replied, a trace of amusement in his voice and Elrohir glanced over at him.

“You can come and help me then,” he retorted, relieved to hear even the slightest lessening of the pain that had been in his brother’s voice for well over a year.

Elladan said nothing but he was soon at Elrohir’s side and the two of them made short work of cleaning Caranor’s tack before leaving the stables and heading for Halhigal’s house.

0-0-0-0-0

Standing just inside the door of the shed, Halbarad angrily rubbed at his eyes with the palms of his hand before using his sleeve to wipe his nose. He was much too old to be crying, but he couldn’t help it. He didn’t want to leave his nana and ada and his friends. But they were so much bigger than him and he knew if they found him they’d make him go. Tears began trickling down his face again and he hiccupped a couple of times. Maybe if he stayed hidden until the elf-lords left they wouldn’t bother coming back for him.

It was dark in the shed, but Halbarad knew where every piece of discarded equipment lay. He often played here, either alone or with Rilost and Lamaen and sometimes even with some of the girls. There was a broken plow in the back corner of the shed and Halbarad made his way to it, sinking down behind it with his back against the wall and his arms locked around his pulled up knees. It wasn’t a perfect hiding place but it was the best there was in the small building. He’d wait until dark to seek out someplace better.

Halbarad rested his chin on his knees. Why did the elves want him, he wondered. What would they do with him? His ada was still alive, not like Aragorn’s ada. Maybe he’d get to see Aragorn if the elves took him away. That would be nice; he missed his younger cousin. He sighed and leaned his head back against the wall as he wondered how much time had passed. His stomach rumbled noisily and reminded him how long it had been since the noon meal and that supper would soon be served. Perhaps he could sneak out later and find something to eat. A faint noise alerted him that someone was at the door just before it swung open and sunlight flooded into the dark room.

“Halbarad?”

It was his ada and Halbarad slumped down even further in an effort to hide himself, almost curling into a ball.

0-0-0-0-0


Halhigal heard the rustling in the back of the shed and he stepped inside, squinting until his eyes adjusted to the gloom. He could hear the loud breathing of his son and he briefly pondered commanding Halbarad to come out, but remembering the terror he’d seen in the boy’s eyes, Halhigal carefully made his way through the small piles of equipment and scraps from the smithy. He found Halbarad cowering behind an old plow. The boy had his back to him, his hands clasped around his knees as he lay on his side on the hard packed dirt.

Suppressing a sigh at the sight of Halbarad, Halhigal crouched down next to his son and gently touched his shoulder. He was not prepared for what happened next. The boy jerked away from him and sat up, scrabbling back into the corner, his eyes full of fear. Words poured out of his mouth; words that made no sense to Halhigal.

“I don’t wanna go, Ada. Don’t let them take me. What did I do? Was I bad? I’ll miss you. I’ll miss Nana. Don’t let the elves take me, Ada.”

These words and similar ones were repeated numerous times – mostly incoherently and interrupted by stutters and hiccups as Halbarad began crying. He sat down and pulled his son onto his lap as the boy continued for some time. It was not until Halhigal heard the boy clearly say something about elves and Aragorn that it dawned on him. He shook his head and let out a quiet sigh.

“Hush,” Halhigal said, putting his fingers to the lips of the boy. Halbarad took a couple of deep, shuddering breaths and leaned his head against his father’s chest.

“Halbarad, do you think I’m sending you off with Lords Elladan and Elrohir?”

“Yes,” came an almost inaudible whisper from the boy.

“Why?” Halhigal asked, truly curious to hear his son’s reasons.

“They took Aragorn away and you said…” Halbarad’s voice trailed off and he fidgeted.

“What did I say?” he prompted.

“You said he’d come back and he didn’t,” Halbarad said accusingly, sitting up and staring at his father.

“He didn’t come with them today, no,” Halhigal agreed, brushing the tear stains away from his son’s cheeks with his fingers. “My son, it will be many long years before your cousin will be able to return to us. You’ll be a grown man when that day arrives.”

“Oh.” Halbarad looked down briefly and then back up at his father. “Th-they won’t take me away?”

“No,” he replied firmly. “You are not going with them. What would your nana and I do without you?” he added, with a ghost of a smile. The little boy shrugged.

“W-why are they here?” Halbarad whispered, staring at his father’s shirt.

“I do not know,” he replied and the boy’s head shot up, his eyes filling with fear once again. Halhigal worked to keep from frowning. “Halbarad, I do not know why they’re here because I came looking for you. But, you must believe me when I say that I will not let them take you. You must trust me, son.” He looked searchingly at the little boy, wondering what else he could do or say to reassure him. Halbarad took a long deep breath.

“I do, Ada,” he said in a low voice.

“Good,” said Halhigal, embracing his son who wrapped his arms around his neck and squeezed him hard in return. “Now, before we go home for supper, I want you to promise me something.”

A smile lit up Halbarad’s face and he nodded. “Yes, anything you want, Ada!”

“I suggest you wait until you hear what I’m asking before you give me your word so easily,” said Halhigal as he set the boy on his feet and stood up. He brushed the dirt from his leggings as best he could and then helped Halbarad do the same. Outside the shed, Halhigal crouched down in front of his son so they were at eye level.

“Halbarad, I want you to promise me that you won’t run off like that again. If you are so frightened by something that is happening that you want to run away, then you ask me. Or, ask Nana if I’m not in the village. Will you do that for me?” The young boy nodded.

“Good. Now,” Halhigal said, frowning slightly as he stood and the two began walking toward home. “We need to explain to the elf-lords what happened. Lord Elrohir was quite… dismayed at seeing you so upset.”

“H-he was?” Halbarad asked, glancing up at his father, who nodded.

“He knew he had frightened you but did not know why.”

“Oh.” They walked quietly for a time and then Halbarad asked, “Will you tell them why?”

Halhigal looked down at his son for a moment, considering. He was young yet, but not too young he deemed to explain his behavior. “Perhaps you should tell them,” he suggested. Halbarad stopped in his tracks, looking up at his father with disbelief.

“Me?” he squeaked.

“Well, I did not run away,” Halhigal reminded the boy, nudging him in the back to move him along. Watching Halbarad’s face grow pale, Halhigal relented. “Perhaps I could help you explain,” he said, smiling inwardly at the look of relief that crossed his son’s face.

“Thank you, Ada!” he said, both joy and relief in his voice.

“You’re welcome. Now, come, Nana is waiting.”

0-0-0-0-0

Halhigal pushed open the door to his home to find not Elladan and Elrohir, but his parents – evidently anxious to hear what news the elves had brought of their daughter and grandson. His father was sitting near the hearth while his mother was helping Nimrie prepare supper. He tugged on Halbarad’s hand to pull his son through the door, an action that did not go unnoticed by his father. Dírhael gave him an inquiring look but a small shake of his head turned his father’s attention to Halbarad and he called his grandson to him.

“Come and see what I made you, Halbarad.”

The boy shook loose of his father’s hand and ran to his grandfather, leaning against him, his small arm wrapped around the man’s neck. Halhigal watched for a moment as Dírhael pulled a small carved deer out of his tunic and handed it to Halbarad who grinned with delight as he examined it carefully. After reminding his son to thank his grandfather, Halhigal walked across the room to the kitchen area where Nimrie and his mother were working, slicing bread and cheese and making some sort of berry tart. He grabbed one of the large black berries and popped it into his mouth, ignoring his wife’s disapproving look.

“We barely have enough of those,” Nimrie said sharply. He smiled slightly, unrepentant and she smiled, shaking her head. “I suppose one won’t be missed.”

“Where are Lords Elladan and Elrohir?” Ivorwen asked him. Halhigal could hear the fear in her voice and he went to her, placing a hand on her shoulder and squeezing it gently.

“They went to the stables to care for their horses, Naneth, but they’ll be here soon. While I do not know why they have come, I did not sense that they carried bad news with them.”

“How can you tell anything with elves?” she asked almost scornfully and Halhigal sighed inwardly. Ivorwen had always been suspicious of elves and since Gilraen and Aragorn had gone to Imladris that had only increased.

“I know those two elves very well, Naneth,” he replied before changing the subject. “What are we having for supper?” he asked Nimrie, but before she had a chance to answer, there was a knock on the door. Nimrie asked Halbarad to open it, but the little boy turned pleading eyes to his father.

“I’ll go with you,” he said to the boy. He stopped Nimrie’s question with a whispered promise to explain later. Standing behind Halbarad with his hand on the little boy’s shoulders, Halhigal urged his son to open the door, which he did after one last pleading glance up at his father, but he held firm and the boy slowly opened the door to face Elladan and Elrohir.

0-0-0-0-0

Elrohir looked at Halhigal and only down at the little boy when his friend gave him a nod and imperceptible smile. There was still fear in Halbarad’s eyes, but not the terror that had been there before and he smiled at the child. At the mumbled words of welcome from the boy, Elrohir and Elladan entered the house. Keeping one eye on Halbarad as he greeted the others, Elrohir noticed that the little boy tightly gripped his father’s hand and kept his wide eyes fixed on him and his brother.

Remembering Ivorwen’s disapproval and anger when they had taken Gilraen and Aragorn to Imladris, Elrohir greeted her first; leaving Elladan to greet Dírhael. He did not sense any anger in Ivorwen today, only fear and worry lurked in her eyes and Elrohir hastened to reassure her.

“Be at peace, Lady Ivorwen,” he said. “My brother and I do not come bearing ill news, but only to give you Lady Gilraen’s assurances that she and her son are doing well.”

“When she heard we were joining the Rangers for a time,” Elladan spoke up from behind him, speaking now to Dírhael, “she asked us to speak with you.”

“Did she send a letter?” Ivorwen asked. Elrohir heard the longing in her voice and he grimaced inwardly. There had been a long discussion about this with his father when Gilraen had asked to send letters to her kin. Elrond had not entirely approved of their visit to Dolomar.

“No, she did not,” Elrohir replied, glancing at his brother, wondering if he should tell her why they had decided not to allow it, for Gilraen had not been pleased either. But Dírhael spoke up.

“It wouldn’t be wise to send letters,” the old man said as he slowly stood up and limped heavily across the room to his wife. He placed his hand on her arm and squeezed it gently. “Letters get lost and picked up by people that shouldn’t see them.” Dírhael looked at the elves in turn. “I’m surprised that you even came here. I didn’t expect to see you again until Ara…” he glanced down at Halbarad before finishing, “until many years had gone by.”

“Adar was not pleased with our coming here,” Elrohir admitted, “but, your daughter asked and I saw no harm in it. We have been coming here for centuries and it might seem stranger if we…”

“Well, you’re here now and I want to hear about her and my grandson,” Ivorwen declared, interrupting the elf.

“I suggest that we do it over supper,” Nimrie said from where she was opening a small cask of ale. “The food’s ready and if someone will carry this to the table, we can eat.” She looked pointedly at Halhigal, but he shook his head.

“Halbarad and I need to speak with Lords Elrohir and Elladan before supper. It won’t take long,” Halhigal said to Nimrie, leading the boy over to the far corner of the room away from the table and gesturing for the elves to follow.

Casting an apologetic look at Nimrie, who was frowning at her husband, Elrohir followed the others, joining Elladan on the low couch. Halhigal pulled a chair up close to the couch and sat down in front of the elves, pulling Halbarad to a stop beside him where he stood leaning on his father’s knee. The man laid his arm across the fidgeting boy’s shoulder before speaking.

“Halbarad wants to tell you why he ran from you this afternoon. Go ahead, son,” Halhigal whispered into the boy’s ear after a moment of silence. “You say what you can and I’ll explain the rest.”

Elrohir clearly heard what Halhigal said to Halbarad and took a quick glance at the others in the room. Nimrie, Ivorwen, and Dírhael were clearly listening while trying to appear not in the least interested. The women were setting food out while Dírhael was pouring ale. Elladan only watched the boy and it occurred to Elrohir that they still must seem frightening to Halbarad and, smiling, he leaned forward on the couch.

“Forgive us, young one, for frightening you. Neither my brother nor I would ever intentionally do so. However, you must tell us what we did so that we do not frighten you again.” Elrohir watched the little boy glance up at his father, take a deep breath, then one more, before speaking in such a low voice that if he had not been an elf he would never have heard him.

“Y-you came and… A-aragorn… and I didn’t want to go-go with you.” Halbarad took another deep breath and smiled at a very confused Elrohir and then looked at Elladan whose brow was furrowed in a thoughtful frown. The older elf sat forward on the couch.

“Halbarad, are you saying you thought we were going to take you with us?” Elladan asked. He glanced at Halhigal who nodded and explained.

“I had told him that you would bring Aragorn back someday and when you didn’t have Aragorn, he thought you were here to take him away to…” Halhigal’s voice trailed off and his hand lifted and fell in a helpless gesture. There was a quiet gasp from one of the women.

Elrohir looked at Elladan for a moment but his brother gave an imperceptible shake of his head and he turned back to Halbarad who was tightly gripping his father’s brown leather leggings. He held out his hand to the boy, waiting patiently until he took it and then drew the boy closer until he stood right in front of him. The elf could feel the slight trembling of the child but there was more uncertainty than fear in the grey eyes that looked back at him.

“Halbarad, you must trust me when I tell you that we will not take you away from your family. We came to speak with your family about your Aunt Gilraen and about Aragorn and how well they are doing in our home.”

“They live with you?” Halbarad interrupted him, his eyes widening.

“They do. You did not know that?” The boy shook his head. “They live in a very safe place, Halbarad. We took them there to keep them safe and when Aragorn is older he will come back here.”

“Isn’t it safe here?” Halbarad asked with the keen insight of a seven year old.

Elrohir paused, glancing at Halhigal who gave a small shrug, willing to let the elf answer the question. There was no completely safe place in all of Eriador. He did not want to lie to the boy, yet he did not want him living in fear either. He compromised. “Aragorn did not have his Ada anymore to protect him, Halbarad, and you do.” Halbarad nodded, satisfied.

“You will protect him?” the boy asked and the elves nodded. Halbarad frowned. “Then why are you here?” he demanded, his clenched fists on his hips.

Fighting to keep a smile from his lips, Elrohir began to explain but Elladan spoke first. “There are many, many elves guarding him, young Halbarad,” Elladan said, “and our home is hidden from prying eyes.” He paused and glanced at his brother. Seeing a desire to return home in Elladan’s eyes, Elrohir nodded his acceptance and Elladan continued. “However, I believe you are right. Elrohir and I should be at home and protecting Aragorn and we will return there in the morning.”

“Good,” said Halbarad, a wide grin lighting up his face. He looked around the room and then ran over to his mother asking her when they were going to eat. She embraced him and told him she was ready as soon as his ada was and he skipped back over to tug on his father’s hand. Halhigal stood, shooing his son back to the table before turning to the elves.

“It surprises me how he can so quickly turn from one thing to another,” he said with a rueful smile. “As if he had never been frightened at all.”

“He is much like his ada,” said Dírhael, who had joined them. He laid his hand on his son’s shoulder. “He trusts you,” his gaze took in the elves as well, “and knows he has nothing to fear. Now, come and eat.” He steered Halhigal toward the table. Elrohir turned to Elladan and spoke quietly.

“You cannot protect young Estel any more than you could protect Arathorn.”

“I know. However, we can teach him all the skills he needs to protect himself. At least we can do that, Elrohir,” Elladan said, his grey eyes darkening.

Elrohir nodded his agreement. “Yes, and, perhaps,” he glanced over at the little boy impatiently waiting for his supper, and he thought back to Imladris and Estel having no one his age to play with. “Perhaps we can stand in for Halbarad until we can return Estel to his cousin.”

Elladan glanced at Halbarad and gave a small nod. “Estel appears to have a fierce protector awaiting him.”

“He will need someone like that for we will not always be there for him.” Elrohir gripped his brother’s shoulder briefly and turned him toward the table. “They are waiting and I am hungry,” he said, a faint smile on his lips. “And now I intend to enjoy the rest of my one evening here with friends before I have to leave for a very long ride back home.” Elladan simply shook his head slightly and followed his brother to the table, as eager as Elrohir to enjoy the company of Halhigal and his family.


~ The End ~

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