Disclaimers:This world and these characters belong to J.R.R Tolkien and his estate. I own nothing, intend no infringement of copyright, and am making no money from this.
Summary:Elves and alcohol after rooting the Mary Sues out of Imladris. An explanation for the singing in The Hobbit – which is otherwise just plain daft. Oh wait, this is just plain daft too. Oh well.
Thanks to Isis and Lalaith for betaing this. :)
Giggles and splutters of laughter from many throats echoed through the woods around Imladris. The venerable trees of the valley swayed as if in a high wind, as first one, and then another reveller nearly dropped from their branches in a drunken stupor. The dim twilight did nothing to hide the blush of alcohol rising even in their Elven cheeks, nor the stupid grins into which they contorted their wise features.
They had, all told, drunk enough this day to sink a flock of flying oliphaunts, and were nowhere near done. So perhaps it was a good thing that no flying oliphaunts could be found to be challenged.
So here they were; the wisest and fairest of all the Free Folk of Middle-earth, creatures of legend, their names woven with the finest threads in Vairë's tapestries. Between them, they had seen enough of war and death and suffering, of the fall of mighty kingdoms, to clothe the Marred World in darkness thrice over. And none of them were capable of telling their right foot from their left, much less working out what to do with either foot except for hooking another flask of wine off a nearby branch.
"I know one!" the only bearded member of the company proclaimed in a voice hoarse from too much salt-spray and yelling at particularly offensive seagulls. And as everyone knows, seagulls can be very offensive.
"We have heardddddddssssss it…" one of his companions riposted cheerfully between swigs from a flask which turned out to be empty. With a moue of disgust, he threw it away, braining a full score of squirrels in the process.
"How y'know, 'Ladan?" his brother protested.
"We heard 'em all." Elladan squinted at his twin, his grey eyes crossing and uncrossing at a rate of knots.
"I am your elder and know…" Círdan began. Miraculously, he was a little more sober than the rest of the company – although that was not saying much – about as much as saying that one Mary Sue might be slightly less irritating than another.
"Oh shush up and keep on drunkin'. Have we run oush of brandy?" Another Elf appeared upside down, dangling by one foot from the branch above with all the skill and daring of a stoned Avari acrobat. His long silver hair brushed the knapsack dangling from Elrohir's shoulder and, most unusually for an inanimate object, it twitched.
The upside-down Elf's eyes had once been renowned for their intimidating steely glare which seemed to pierce the very souls of those he questioned, bright with an arrogant pride matchless since the death of Fëanor – indeed he would have contended that the nutcase of all nutcases had nothing on his prideful arrogance. Why? Because it was worthwhile being better than Fëanor at everything, even mental derangement.
Now the grey eyes were pleasantly befuddled. Moreover, as was attested to by the shouts of laughter it roused from his companions, his collar was undone and a rather large lovebite presented itself on the pale, moon-touched flesh beneath.
"I's known your for aaaaaaaaages. Literally. I was there when you were born, Círdan. And everyone knows all your stories, because you tell the same ones to everyone. No wonder Olwë left…" His good natured exposition on the flaws in the Shipwright's character and narrative method was cut short as an unseen someone hauled on his leg, pulling him effortlessly out of sight. There was the sound of murmured voices, and then a soft silence. An item of clothing fluttered gently past. Círdan erupted into laughter once more, his giggles surprisingly high pitched, rather ruining his gruff reputation. The twins, however, looked vaguely nauseated – although in the younger's case, that could have had something to do with the playful jabs to the kidneys being delivered by his knapsack.
"Thash was a good hunt." Elladan squinted up at the darkening sky, looking for the first star to appear.
"Indeedy." Círdan retrieved a new flask of wine and uncorked it, inhaling the rich aroma rising from the dark liquid contained within appreciatively. "Ah…"
"We …" Elrohir fumbled for words, not entirely sure why he had started this sentence. "We are most graschful for the smoked haddock…"
"Nooo…" Elladan waggled a finger in disagreement. "No' for the sm'ked haddock. For the help."
"Are you sssure? I thought it was…" He trailed off, his head cocked to one side like a demented sparrow. "Nope, you's right. Help." He raised his flask in a crooked salute. "Thanks to our nobble vis'tors, we will be free from the fangirls, as will Adar, for at leas' a couple of months…"
"You are welcome, pen tithen," a beautiful voice echoed from above. The flasks in their hands were suddenly full again.
The three Elves burst into happy laughter, only interrupted by Elrohir's muted and extremely embarrassed conversation with his pack as to what precisely the fangirls wanted to do with the Lord of Imladris. Even excessive amounts of alcohol could not make some conversations anything but excruciating.
"Hold!" The same female voice as before hissed. "Someone is coming this way."
"No!" Elrohir groaned. "They cannot be back already… 'Twould be cruel indeed…"
His noble ancestor dropped lightly to the branch beside him and clamped one hand across his mouth. Her black hair shining in the first starlight, she listened intently. "No. Dwarves." She cast a worried look at the tree above her.
"WHAT?" The bellow should have been audible for miles around. Luckily, the approaching party was far too much involved in their own antics, the length of their beards, and the colour of their hoods to notice the noise made by an enraged Sindar Lord, albeit that he had managed to cause small avalanches a hundred miles away in the high peaks of the Misty Mountains. "I will…"
"No, dear, you will not," his wife replied in a sighing tone which suggested that this was a conversation that they had had many, many times over the years. "Leave it. You are no longer dead, are you?"
Elu Thingol mumbled something in the universal tones of a chastened child, and dropped his head onto her shoulder. "I am sorry, meleth-nín…"
"I know, Elwë, I know…" Melian smiled at him.
"C'mon. We have to do something fun. It is no use getting drunk if we don' do something, this day of all…" Elrohir cried gleefully. The small note of sorrow in his voice was quickly overpowered by the full symphony orchestra of his amusement.
Círdan stood up, swaying gently from side to side like a high-masted ship in a gale. "I know one…
"O! What are you doing,
And where are you going?
Your ponies need shoeing!
The river is flowing!
Here down in the valley!"
The others winced, wondering whether perchance the ancient Elf had learnt the song from Morgoth himself, such was the hideousness of both words and tune. And yet there was something strangely compulsive about it…
As the Shipwright launched into the second verse with the gusto of a drunken Hobbit, the others joined in, still wondering why.
"O! What are you seeking,
And where are you making?
The faggots are reeking,
The bannocks are baking!
The valley is jolly,
O! Where are you going
With beards all a-wagging?
No knowing, no knowing
What brings Mister Baggins,
And Balin and Dwalin
Down into the valley
O! Will you be staying,
Or will you be flying?
Your ponies are straying!
The daylight is dying!
To fly would be folly,
To stay would be jolly
And listen and hark
Till the end of the dark
To our tune
"How dish y'know their names?" Círdan blinked owlishly.
Melian smiled. "Because I did."
And that was all the answer she would give them.
Still singing, still so inebriated that none questioned the wisdom of this course of action, they followed the party of Dwarves down towards the Last Homely House, leaping lightly from limb to limb, and only occasionally falling down the gaping spaces in between to land in gorse bushes, or on an extremely startled piece of wildlife. Or in one case an even more startled sentry, who nearly impaled his lord's eldest child with his spear.
Their merry cackles seemed to be driving the wizard in the lead to distraction, as Melian noticed. She grinned at her kinsman through a gap in the trees and nearly ignited his beard with a shower of drunken sparks. Luckily, his companions took it for a display of his own.
Eventually, Elrohir took pity on the travellers, slinging his giggling knapsack across his shoulders and dropping deftly to the ground. "Welcome to the valley!"
Gandalf swung down from his stubby pony, and strode forward into the gaggle of Elves. "Hello, Melian."
"Hello, Olórin." The female Maia swayed and clutched her husband's arm for support. Alas, Elu Thingol was hardly secure on his feet himself and it took the Istar's staff hooked through their collars to keep them both upright. When had done so, he hugged her gruffly. "What are you doing here?"
"What a philosophical question…" Thingol examined the toes of his soft boots as if they might contain the secrets of life, the universe, and everything. Melian chose the best method to shut him up and kissed him into silence.
Somewhere in the midst of all this, Elrohir had managed to direct the party towards the House, between drunken peals of laughter, and so they moved on, the visitors stolidly plodding, the Elves swaying and weaving like fireflies in the evening light.
"Don't dip your beard in the foam, father!" Thingol cried to Thorin; Melian pinched him sharply.
"Mind Bilbo doesn't eat all the cakes!" Elladan hollered. "He is too fat to get through key-holes yet!"
Elrohir frowned. "Thash was not nice,"
His brother looked suitably chastened. "Shall I carry…"
But he never got to finish his sentence.
A long-fingered hand was clapped on his shoulder, and, swivelling his head, he found himself looking into his father's stern grey eyes.
"So?" Elrond lowered his head into his hands in exasperation.
Círdan patted the peredhel's shoulder uncertainly. "Don' worry, Elros. We were jus' drunk. I am sure they knew that."
"You are still drunk," Glorfindel observed acerbically from his seat by the window.
"I am?" the Shipwright inquired mildly.
In the next seat, the Maia and her Elven husband seemed rather too involved in watching the play of emotions across each other's faces and tangling their feet together to be of any use to anyone.
With a sigh, the Master of Rivendell turned his attention back to his two sons. "I have never known you to behave thus," he said gravely, his eyes scanning their features for some sign of their usual intelligence. When both merely grinned like demented beavers, he resigned himself to continuing. "Can you imagine what damage has been done to the reputation of our people? To be thought jokers and minstrels who care nothing for the world… The darkness comes…" He fiddled unconsciously with the ring hidden upon his finger, and then smoothed his palm reassuringly across the smooth band of gold on his other hand. "You knew it was wrong, and yet that knowledge did not stop you, pen tithin."
The bag clutched on Elrohir's lap gave an odd little quiver, as if the very fabric was nervous and ashamed at the words.
"I' was fun. And we got to know daer-whatever-number-adar and –naneth as well." Elladan beamed at his father. "An' it was a good song."
"And what, pray, were they doing here?" Elrond asked in exhaustion.
Melian disentangled herself from her husband very briefly. "We wersh going to h've a…" She struggled for words. "A dirty weekend…"
Thingol grinned even more. "But thens we got here and your shons shtumbled over us."
"Literally," Elladan muttered.
"…And we decidededed to help with your infestation of fangirls."
"And they taught us a very good song, along with Círdan," Elrohir insisted.
Elrond met Glorfindel's gaze and both Elves rolled their eyes simultaneously. The others had to be seriously plastered to believe that the song was anything but an execrable piece of nonsense. It was time to start brewing hangover cures using the entire Hall of Fire as the cauldron.
"I shall talk to you no more of this. Perhaps in the morning…"
But as Elrohir got unsteadily to his feet, he dropped the knapsack and it began to squirm across the floor. Elrond seriously considered throwing himself off a cliff to see if he had his mother's knack of turning into a seagull in times of stress. He might get to Valinor before the break of dawn… and he had heard of a shop in Tirion where one could buy excellent chocolate body paint…
Surely he must have gone mad if a bag was crawling across the floor of its own volition… Perhaps Sauron would burst out of it in a pink tutu and sing him happy begetting day, although his begetting day had been six months previously.
Bending down, he tugged at the strings loosely fastening the neck of the rather large bag.
A mop of dark, curly hair emerged. Followed by the rest of Estel, largely covered by a patina of chocolate stains.
Elrond decided it was not even worth asking why his fosterling had been in a bag.
"I asked Ladan and Rohir to take me with them," the boy chirruped guilelessly, conveniently relieving him of the necessity anyway.
"So they put you in a bag, Estel?"
"They did." He nodded, smiling broadly. "So I could go with them. It was very, very funny watching the fangirls run away." His voice dropped conspiratorially. "You must not be angry with them, Ada, because they were not happy until they got all drunkened."
Rising to his feet with the young Edain boy cradled on one hip, the elf-lord raised an inquisitorial eyebrow.
"I shink…" Elu Thingol began, rousing himself from his concentration on his wife. Fortunately for the discomforted peredhil twins, the Halls of Mandos had a strict no-visitors policy and the King of Doraith was still catching up, remembering how little abstinence had suited him, and Melian was only too happy to oblige.
"We…" Elrohir began.
"It is…" Elladan continued.
"Naneth passed over the Sea a housand yr's ago." Despite their slurred speech, the twins finished together, sorrow palpable in their faces.
"Nay." Elrond closed his eyes as the grief he had been restraining within himself burst into full flower. Indeed, it had been this day, but not a thousand years of the life of the world, much though it might seem so. He could feel every second of that time's passing fluttering against the bone of his sternum; he did not even need to count. "It has not been a thousand years, unless the Powers have suddenly changed the meaning to four hundred and thirty one years."
Estel pressed a chocolate-scented kiss to his cheek, and the spell of the moment was broken.
"You horrors," the elf-lord said softly, affectionately.
"Orclings!" the twins chorused in time with Estel.
Elrond was disturbed by the voice as he was drifting off to sleep. Startled, he bounded upright, reaching for his sword. When he had retrieved his left arm from its place wedged under the desk, and his head from the water ewer, laughter was ringing in his ears. Unmistakable, if drunken, laughter.
"I missed you, meleth-nín." The touch on his spine as he bent double, clutching his wounded fingers and cursing in numerous languages, came as if the hand of a ghost had settled upon him.
Flopping backwards onto the bed, the elf-lord abandoned all futile pretences of dignity. "Brí-nín…"
Again, he felt that touch, soft now against all the hidden surfaces of his mind. And she giggled, no more the wraith-maiden of that last year. And giggled. And giggled some more.
"You do not have to deal with them…" he grumbled, but not unhappily. "Nor do you have to deal with their hangovers…"
"I seem to remember a certain peredhel groaning because his head hurt all those years ago…" she teased.
"I only drank because you were flirting with Gil-galad," he complained.
"And I only flirted with Gil-galad because you paid me no attention."
"I was afraid."
"I needed you."
"Do not think that I cannot tell when you smirk so, Elrond Peredhil."
"And what is my lady's answer to such a grotesque travesty?" he settled back into the pillows, happiness suffusing him for the first time in weeks, his hands linked behind his head.
"I can think of many answers…"
And the rest is silence. Or not. Certainly Thorin's company would be able to testify before the law to the amazing qualities of the link between married Elves. But the narrator is willing to bet that they wished the rest was silence.
Especially after that song.
Meleth-nín – my love.
Brí-nín – my Brí.
Daernaneth – grandmother.
Daeradar – grandfather.
Pen tithen – little one.
Pen tithin – little ones.
Feedback is always very welcome.