Elrohir yawned as he tumbled into bed. He was tired and worn out from the long but fun-filled day, and satisfied with the experience. It was another day he could add to his small well of happy moments.
“Goodnight,” Thranduil said, leaning over him to pull up the blankets. He walked around to Elladan’s side of the bed to repeat the gesture, and blow out the candle sitting on one of the bedside tables, plunging the room into darkness.
Elrohir lay awake, staring at the ceiling as he heard the door close, and soft footsteps make their way to Legolas’s room. He rolled onto his side and snuggled against Elladan.
“I like it here,” Elladan murmured.
Elrohir yawned and mumbled his reply, his words tumbling into an undecipherable slur as he fell asleep.
The dark was warm and comforting, Elladan’s back against his. Pleasant dreams floated around Elrohir’s head, and filled his sleep with smiles . . . until the nightmares came.
Elrond’s face swam out of the darkness, dripping blood from the long gashes on his cheek. His upper body was bare and filled with holes, revealing his insides. His bloodstained teeth leered at Elrohir, and his eyes held the stern look that meant impending punishment.
Elrohir tossed in his sleep and whimpered.
“You have been bad, Elrohir!” said the dream Elrond, his face looming closer. “Very bad indeed.” His hands came into view holding the strap across them. “This is for your own good.”
Elrohir cringed back. He was standing at the edge of a cliff, the drop behind him long and deadly. He stared wild-eyed at Elrond as he came toward him, beckoning.
“No!” Elrohir screamed. “No!”
“It is for your own good!” Elrond said.
Elrohir shrieked and struggled against the iron grip that took a hold of his hair. As the strap came down, the scene dissolved and he found himself tied down to the stone, staring up at the moon.
“Be gone, demon!” Kaiale yelled in his face.
Elrohir’s eyes stared up at him in fear, the ropes biting into his skin as he tugged and pulled, trying to escape. He wrestled his arms and legs free and ran. The stone faded from beneath him and he plummeted into darkness, screaming in protest.
Elrohir awoke with a jerk as he hit the floor, hot tears on his cheeks, the blankets he had dragged with him wrapped around his arms and legs. Elladan looked down at him from the bed with worry in his eyes.
“Nightmare?” he asked, climbing out of bed to look at his twin.
Elrohir nodded and sat up slowly. He leaned against the bed and rested his chin on his knees. He looked up, startled, as the door flew open and Thranduil rushed in, his dressing gown flung on untidily. Legolas stood behind him, his face puckered into a worried frown. A sleepy Harune and Landion, rubbing his eyes, stood beyond him in the hall.
Thranduil dropped to his knees in front of Elrohir and took the shaking elfling into his grasp. Elrohir leaned into the sleepy, piney scent and cried.
“It is all right, Elrohir,” Thranduil said, stroking his hair. “Nightmares are frightening things; it helps to talk about them.”
Elrohir gulped. He did not want to tell Thranduil about the nightmare. He did not want to say anything about the strap-wielding Elrond. He did want to think about home. But he had to say something.
“I-I dreamed about father,” Elrohir faltered. He opened his mouth to go on but Thranduil said, “I know he must have looked unlike the father you love, injured and bloody. Such sights are enough to give anyone nightmares.”
Elrohir sniffed. He did not say anything. He had not lied; Thranduil had drawn his own conclusions.
“I am sorry I woke everyone up,” he said.
Thranduil patted his back. “It is fine; we will go back to sleep. Come, I will tuck you both back into bed. If you would like, I will stay and sleep with you.”
“I-I would like that,” Elrohir said. The arms around him were strong and secure and, to his knowledge, though it had not been confirmed, they had never wielded a strap or spanked a red behind. Something about that was comforting.
Harune came into the room and untangled the blankets from the floor. He remade the bed, straightening the sheets, and left Thranduil to the twins, taking Landion and Legolas back to bed.
The sheets were cool by the time Elrohir tumbled into them, the nightmare fading into the well of memories he tried to shove down and not think about. Thranduil flopped down on his back in the center of the bed and invited the twins to snuggle against each of his sides. Elladan reached for the blankets and tugged them up until they were evenly distributed across the bed.
“Thank you,” Elladan mumbled.
Thranduil shifted his shoulders on the pillow under his head and murmured, “Of course. You are free to come to my room at night anytime you need me.”
Elrohir fidgeted. “But will Legolas not mind? You are his father, not ours.”
“Legolas is not jealous by nature,” Thranduil murmured. “He will not mind. Settle down and sleep, Elrohir. Is the nightmare gone?”
Elrohir turned onto his side and nodded, his head in the crook of Thranduil’s arm. Sleep came easily, and this time, it was un-haunted by images of his father. Elladan reached across the chest separating them and linked his fingers with those of his twins.
Thank you for reading; I love hearing from you at the close of each chapter.