“Thranduil would like to see you in his office, Elladan.”
Elladan looked up with a jerk as Harune’s voice echoed in his ears. He cast a quick look at his twin, sitting cross-legged beside him on the open balcony, bent over his sketchbook.
Elladan looked down at his own drawing; a sketch of the same tree but the pencil strokes layered with his own style and uniqueness. Elrohir peeked at him, and his eyes were wide.
“Elladan,” said Harune patiently from the doorway behind them.
A cool wind blew Elladan’s face as he put down his pencil on the top page of his sketchpad and stood up. He did not want to see Thranduil in his office. He tried to think of what he could have done to make Thranduil have to call him to his office to punish him but nothing came to mind. He swallowed as he followed Harune.
Left alone outside the dreaded door, Elladan stared at the wood, not sure what to expect when he opened it. He stared at it and finally knocked.
“Come in,” Thranduil called.
Elladan twisted the knob and peeked into the room, his heart racing in his chest as a dozen memories of being summoned to see his father flashed across his mind, each one highlighted by stings of pain.
Thranduil sat leaning back in his chair, one knee crossing the other, and a quill tapping his leg as he stared at a paper on his desk. Elladan’s eyes traveled in one quick glance around the room, searching for any signs of a strap before he edged his way into the room.
“You called me,” he said, his voice a hoarse whisper.
Thranduil tossed his loose hair over his shoulders and nodded. “Yes, I did. I wanted to make sure your ankle was not bothering you. Does it hurt?”
Elladan’s mouth fell open. He was not used to such a show of compassion. To be called in the middle of the workday by a busy king, for the purpose of being asked if he was all right was not something he was used to.
“Elladan?” Thranduil said, looking up.
The elfling collected his dazed senses. “I . . . am fine. Thank you for asking.”
Thranduil nodded. Elladan took the invitation to leave the room, closing the door behind him. He leaned back against it and let out a breath he had not realized he was holding. After his pounding heart had slowed down, he made his way back to the balcony.
Elrohir jumped to his feet as soon as his twin came through the door, his mouth half-open in question. Elladan held up a hand, and sat down by his sketchpad.
“He wanted to make sure my ankle was all right,” he said simply.
“Oh,” said Elrohir, and sat down. He stared at his finished drawing in silence, listening to the scratch of his brother’s pencil. “Were you—were you scared?”
Elladan considered. He leaned back on his hands and chewed on the end of his pencil. “I was terrified. I did not want to be hit. Not by him. Not by ada. Not by anyone.”
Elrohir flipped a clean, white page over the completed drawing in his sketchbook and looked out at the trees again, in search of an intricate leaf to put to paper.
“At least if you are called to his office, you will not feel the sickening churning we are used to when we are called to see ada,” Elladan said, taking the pencil out of his mouth.
Elrohir twisted his head to look at him. “That is one good thing, at least.”
“Where are Legolas and Landion?”
Elrohir shrugged. “I do not know. I have not seen them since breakfast. They went their way, and we came here. We have not had much time to draw . . .”
“We have had time,” Elladan argued. “We have not felt like drawing. Ever since the moment in the living room, when we were trying to finish our pieces of art, and ada whipped us, I have not been able to look at a pencil without feeling sick. And after the exorcism, I had a hard time seeing life or beauty in anything . . .”
Elrohir smiled. “But then we came here. And it is not hard to see life and love here, where ada and naneth’s shadows do not cloud the sun, and the sense of dread cover the moon.”
Elladan applied the finishing touches to his trees, and put in a few puffy clouds. “I agree. I feel free and happy.”
Elrohir picked up his sketchbook and moved closer to his twin, giving up the attempts at the leaves blowing in the wind. He tucked his pencil behind one delicate ear, the wind blowing his tresses.
” . . . I want to show you something,” Elrohir said. His gaze slid to the floor. “I-I kept it a secret after the exorcism. I knew you were worried and hurting for me, and I did not want to make you more worried, so I tried to accept my pain on my own.”
Elladan’s pencil slashed across the page.
“I am sorry,” Elrohir said. “But it is true. And it worked. I had to keep it hidden for fear ada would find it. It would have given him enough reason to put me through another nightmare, and I slept in terror every night, afraid he would find it, and . . . but I want to show it to you now.”
Elladan drew in a deep breath. “What is it?”
Elrohir slipped a leather-covered book out from under his robe and handed it to his twin. “I began drawing at night when I was upset to give a vent to my feelings. I wanted to destroy the walls around me, tear ada’s face to pieces, but . . . I did not have the courage to face the consequences of that.”
Elladan opened the book in his hands. It fell open at the first page, and he grimaced at the sight of the horned demon, drawn in dark, angry colors, spitting fire. A small, shrieking figure engulfed in flames was a bad, slashed figure of Elrond.
“I wish you had not suffered alone,” Elladan said at last. “I could have helped you bear it.”
“But I did not want to drag you into it if ada caught me awake at night drawing,” Elrohir said, his eyes studying Elladan’s. “You know he would have had something to say about it, and it would not have been good.” He leaned against his brother’s shoulder.
Elladan flipped through the next few pages. He felt a little easier as the horrors of the drawings slipped away from angry emotions to smoother, more peaceful ones. The last drawing in the middle of the book showed a full moon sailing in the clouds.
“I can tell you calmed down and . . . tried to focus on something else other then your angry emotions,” he said finally, closing the book and letting it rest in his lap.
“It helped,” Elrohir said softly. “And I stopped hating. At least, I tried to. I still feel angry sparks inside me sometime, but I have forced myself to control them. I do not want to be flung into another exorcism because I screamed my feelings to ada, and was rejected with the same coldness he treats us with every justice day.”
Elladan winced as he thought of Elrohir fleeing into the forest, and the events that had ensued and probably changed his brother forever. The feel of Elrohir’s soft hair on his shoulder, mingling with his brought a smile to his lips, and his heart lifted.
“I am glad you are happy,” he said.
Elrohir smiled. He snatched his book, and buried it in the folds of his clothes as Thranduil appeared behind them.
“Lunch is ready,” he said.
Elladan collected his drawing supplies and tucked them under his arm. “We are coming.”
Thank you for reading. Sharing this story with you and knowing it is touching lives means a lot to me.