Elladan cringed as he heard his father calling. He looked over at his twin from the pages of his drawing pad, from where he was studying with great intensity the drawing of the tree. He and Elrohir were back from the cliffs, after accomplishing the task of putting the tree on paper, and playing a rowdy game of warrior. But . . .
Elladan was not sure Elrohir could take what was probably coming after the staring events of the day. Elrohir kept his eyes on his paper and said nothing but Elladan could feel the clashing emotions rolling off him. He hoped Elrohir did not dissolve into another fit of screaming; he knew another exorcism would be the end of the beloved twin he knew.
The door to their room flew open and Elrond walked in. Elrohir and Elladan both looked up.
“I see you are back from the cliffs,” Elrond said, looking at the sketch before Elrohir. “Have either of you seen my letter opener? The one forged into the shape of a dagger?”
Neither twin answered. But Elrond saw the expression on Elrohir face and immediately knew he was responsible for the disappearance of the letter opener.
“Elrohir, where is it? Answer me now!”
Elrohir gulped. “I-I dropped it off the cliff. We were playing warrior with it and it—it was knocked out of my hand. I am sorry.”
Elrond frowned. “That was a prized piece of work, a gift on my wedding day and you had the nerve—come with me.”
Elrohir’s shoulders slumped. He scrambled to his feet with a grieved look over his shoulder at his twin. Elladan jumped to his feet. “I was the one who bumped into him, ada. It is my fault the letter opener was lost. Punish me instead.”
“Were you the one who took the letter opener without asking me?” Elrond asked.
“Yes,” Elladan said, looking at the floor as he spoke the lie.
Elrond let go of Elrohir’s arm. “Then come with me.”
Elrohir’s legs gave out under him as soon as the door closed and he fell to the floor. Burying his face in his hands, he cried, knowing what was about to happen to Elladan and hating it.
Elrond guided his son to the living room and left him in the center of the floor to fetch the strap. Elladan stood in silence. He was not going to beg. He thought of Elrohir, unharmed in his room, and the relief he felt was worth the pain about to come.
“Do you know why you are being punished?” Elrond asked.
“Because I lost your prized possession,” Elladan answered, unable to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
“Watch your tone!” Elrond warned. “You are being punished, Elladan, because you took something without asking and you lost it. You stole my letter opener. And I do not want you, my beloved son, to turn into a thief and a liar.”
Elladan swallowed, the calm tone of Elrond’s words stripping away his bravado. The calm words uttered in the face of punishment carried more weight then angry yelling or threats.
“It will not happen again,” he promised. “We did not mean to drop it! It was an accident.”
Elladan winced as the strap hit him with full force. It felt heavier then any blow he had ever received. His twisted in Elrond’s grip but the hold on his hair was tight and the wicked leather found a way to evade his struggles. He did not try to break free and run, knowing the punishment for that would be worst then this.
“You stole from me,” Elrond said. “Stealing is a very bad thing, Elladan, and I will not let it become a habit.”
“I-I did not—”
“Yes, you did.” The strap hit him again. And again, each time with more force. Elrond struck where he knew the pain would last. The lashes would make it impossible to sit without discomfort, impossible to walk without feeling the bruises. At least for a short while.
“Stop, ada! Please stop!” Elrohir screamed. “I promise never to disobey you or steal again if only you will stop! Please!”
Elrond hit him one last time before he released Elladan’s hair. His son stumbled away with a slight hiss.
“I love you, Elladan,” Elrond said, coming to hug the boy. “And I want only for you to be a good, honest person.” He kissed the top of his head.
Elladan wept. He knew how Elrohir felt and understood exactly what he had said about the great lie. He could not feel the love even if Elrond was giving it.
In bed at night, sore and frightened, Elladan snuggled close to his twin, tears leaking from his eyes.
“I tried to tell him,” he whispered. “I tried to tell him about what happened on the cliff. We tripped, and you had to let go of the letter opener or we would have both fallen to our deaths. I did try to explain to him how we lost it but—but he kept hitting me!”
Elrohir turned to hug Elladan to him, feeling deep sympathy for his twin.
“Thank you for taking the beating for me,” he whispered. “It was brave and kind of you to face the fury of the strap.”
Elladan nodded and reached up to pat Elrohir’s cheek. “You are welcome. It was worth it in the end to not see you hurting like I am now.”
As the twins slept, Elrond and Celebrian sat up in the living room.
“He will not steal again,” Elrond said, with a heavy sigh. “But I do miss the letter opener . . .”
“I was thinking,” Celebrian said, counting stitches on her embroidery. “I think the twins need some new company to take their minds off old matters. What if we invite some people to stay?”
Elrond groaned. “I mean no harm, my love, but I cannot take another visit from your parents. Galadriel and Celeborn would have been the end of me the last time they came. They do not have enough energy.”
Celebrian looked up with a smile. “I know, dear. Our sons are tired of them to. But . . . we have not seen Thranduil in many years, and the twins have never met him. I know he is full of energy; the word was made to describe him. And he has a son only a few years older then Elladan and Elrohir.”
Elrond looked doubtful. “Mirkwood is a ways away. I do not know if he will come. But I will write him a letter and ask him to come stay for a month or two. I would welcome the change, and I am sure the twins would welcome a new friend.”
“We will not say anything to the twins until we know he is coming,” Celebrian said. “I would hate to get their hopes up only to disappoint them. And if Thranduil does come, it will be a nice surprise for them both. Besides, it is time we renewed relationships with Mirkwood.”
Thank you all for reading. I appreciate it so much and I would love to hear from you.