“Put away your drawings and come to the table,” Elrond said.
“In a minute,” said Elladan, studying the paper before him with intensity.
“Elladan, dinner is ready and waiting for us. Come now,” Elrond said from the doorway of the family living room.
Elladan applied his pencil to the paper. “Coming.”
“All right, fine!” Elladan flung down his pencil. He followed his father across the open room and into the dining chamber. He jerked out a chair and slammed himself into it opposite his twin. Both he and his twin were lithe elflings, with silky dark hair and big eyes often lit by the light of mischievousness and enthusiasm. He folded his arms and brooded, frustration tightening his chest as he thought of the drawing he had been ripped away from, like a page from a book. It was not always he could draw life-like illustrations for such things required a certain mood. And to be torn out of the mood for something as ordinary as dinner was infuriating for he knew when he went back to the picture, he would not be able to reenter the moment of genius.
The table was out on the open terrace. White pillars supported the terrace’s roof. Below them, the valley of Rivendell laid spread out. The wind blew gently as Elrond sat down at the head of the table.
“Behave yourself, Elladan,” Elrond said, turning his attention to the food on the table. “You may return to your drawing after the meal.”
“I do not see why I cannot draw!” Elladan cried in frustration. “I can always eat later! I was in the mood to draw and you ruined it all!”
“Now is the time for family,” Elrond explained simply, taking a bite of salad.
“I do not care! I am not hungry and I do not want to eat! I come to dinner every night without complaint. Surely I can be excused this once!”
Elrond put down his fork. “No, you may not.”
“Well, I am going, if only to weep in my room!” Elladan pushed his chair back and rose to his feet, glaring at his father.
Elrond looked down the table at his quiet wife and held her gaze. After a moment he pushed his chair back. “Come with me, Elladan.” He took his son by the arm and led him into the living room.
Elladan’s heart sank to the bottom of his bare feet and every ounce of courage left him. Father was about to punish him for his disobedience. Father hit hard and thought anything less then six of the best was a holiday . . . he swallowed.
Elrond let go of his arm and left him by the big armchair. Elladan considered fleeing the scene. His shoulders slumped and he knew he was stuck in the predicament. Running away only made the punishment worst when he was caught. His shoulders slumped further as he watched Elrond cross the room to the big bookcase set along the wall. He reached up and took down the dreaded instrument of punishment; the strap.
“I am sorry I yelled,” Elladan began, not above begging to escape the punishment though he knew from experience it never worked.
“And you should be,” Elrond said as he approached his son. “But you misbehaved and your mother and I will not tolerate insolence from our children. You need to learn to obey and respect us.”
It is hard to do that when you beat us, Elladan thought, as the tightness in his chest returned.
“I am going to give you a little reminder of what happens when you do not obey us,” Elrond said. “I love Elladan, and that will never change. I simply wish to see you grow up into a good elven being and for that you must be disciplined.”
Elrond took a hold of Elladan’s hair and raised the strap. His son bit his lip and closed his eyes as the leather hit him hard from behind. The fiery pain spread and the wave of memories of similar instances from the past flooded across him. He hated being punished and he tried out of fear not to get himself into situations like this but . . . fear and pain was a bad master.
When the last of ten blows had been struck, Elrond dropped his arms and went to put the strap back in its position. Elladan held back his tears and stilled the trembling of his hands before Elrond saw and reprimanded his weakness. As the half-elf turned away from the bookcase with empty hands, he smiled at Elladan as though the whipping had solved everything and erased his feelings.
“Come, ion nin,” he said, “Dinner awaits us.”
Elladan returned to the dinner table and sat down, clenching his teeth as the marks of the strap hit the wood of his seat and inflamed. He dared not voice the fury of confusion and anger within him for he knew it would invoke another punishment for speaking out of turn if he did. He sat in silence, looking up only to meet the eyes of Elrohir over the table. He gave a weak smile to settle the sadness he saw in his twin’s eyes.
When the meal was over, Elladan left the table after asking to be excused and returning to the family living room. He picked up his drawing from the floor and looked at it, feeling tears prick his eyes. The sketch of Elrond was incomplete and the likeness was a good one but the beauty of it was lost and all he felt was hatred for the elf that was supposed to and said he loved him yet had just beat him.
Elladan swallowed and walked to the hearth grate. As he prepared to let the flames flickering there eat the work, Elrohir’s hand on his arm stopped him. Elladan looked into his brother’s eyes.
“Do not destroy it,” Elrohir said. “It is a good picture. I . . . am sorry ada pulled you away from it and beat you.”
Elladan looked down at the drawing. “I will never finish it. And I cannot look at it without remembering this . . . incident.”
Elrohir looked over his shoulder to where Elrond and Celebrain stood outside the doorway, talking. He knew they did not like to have the punishments called ‘beatings’ and heavy scolding came down whenever the term slipped over tongues. But it was hard to remember the punishments as anything but that.
Elladan let the paper flutter into the grate and watched it ignite in the middle and burn into a small heap of ashes. He picked up his pencils and, holding them in a tight fist, made for the door leading out into the wide hall. Elrohir followed after him, and they took the stairs up to their room.
The twins shared a room. It was wide and square, with two twin beds in it covered in blue duvets. The carpet was blue with gold birds on it, stretching to the window and back over the marble floor. The window seat was a nice place to sit and look down at the great bridge arching over the river running through Rivendell, and admire the houses. Cool air blew through the open window, ruffling the curtains. There was a bookcase of books, a shelf covered in pads of paper, colored pencils, and folders, and a small table beside it.
Elladan sat down on the bed and flung down the pencils.
“I know your feelings are hurt,” Elrohir said, flopping down on the bed behind him.
“It is easy to have your attitude when you have not been whipped!” Elladan said bitterly, folding his arms.
Elrohir sat up behind his twin and draped his arms around Elladan’s neck. “But I am truly sorry for I know how it feels.” He hugged him. “And if I could make ada stop I would. But neither of us can so we have to live with it, no matter how wrong it is or how it makes us feel.”
Elladan sighed and reached up to pat Elrohir’s hand. He grinned as his twin pulled him into a wrestling embrace and felt his anger diminish into a puff of smoke as he rolled with Elrohir on the bed, his neatly combed dark hair and clothes rumpling and tangling beneath him in the fierce battle.