Unable to Cope

By: Eleniel

Rating: PG

Warnings: Angst, confusion on the part of the character. If you don't like Erestor, be warned: Erestor is a good, fairly major secondary character in this. If you DO like Erestor, be warned: Erestor is a good, fairly major secondary character in this.

Summary: AU. Celebríän has not survived her meeting with the Orcs of the Redhorn Pass. What will her volatile son do, overwhelmed and alone, with no way to cope? Will he join her in Mandos? COMPLETE.

Spoilers: none.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognize; the idea is all that's mine.

Feedback: Rowen_Chan@hotmail.com (PLEASE put 'review' or the story title in the subject box, or I will delete the email). The review button also works well.

A/N: This story, like its sister-story, "Elf?", was written very late at night when I was half asleep and feeling unsafe. It is meant first as a coping mechanism, second as a good story. This story was thought of and written within the same hour. It took me more time to think of a title than write the actual story (lol). I apologize for any mistakes. Constructive criticism is more than welcome.

If you don't like the way I portray Erestor, I'm sorry, but I wanted to give the poor Elf a boost; after all, he isn't really that bad *pats Erestor on the head*.

I know this story isn't as...good? powerful?...as "Elf?", but I am more concerned about the way I feel right now (my emotions are projected onto the main character here).

All right, enough rambling, on with the story.

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She's dead.

That's all I can hear, all I can see, all I can think. She is dead. The most beautiful thing in the world, murdered by the ugliest.

I can't bear it. I can't take this pain. This anger, this hate, this...flood of emotion I can't even seem to imagine, let alone encompass with words. I can't stand it anymore. If I did not have my brother and sister to live for, I would let go. Simply give up, and join my Ammë in the Halls of Mandos.

But I cannot do any such thing. Ada, Elrohir, Arwen...they all need me too much. Arwen is already nearly dead from grief; Elrohir is also cracking under the strain. If Arwen leaves us (like I know she feels like doing), I fear this family may meet in Mandos within the week.

I can't get the images from my mind. Ammë, her body broken and bloodied, marked with days of torture...her beautiful blond hair matted with painfully fresh, bright crimson blood. Her amazing, near perfect eyes, empty. Closed, never to be opened again.

The pain is fresh, striking through my heart. I almost drop my cup of tea I am drugging myself with, to try and rest.

Glorfindel is not much better than I. His heart is broken; he swore upon his return to protect Ada and our family, no matter the cost. Obviously, he has not been able to fulfill this. He feels responsible. He feels guilty. I heard him screaming to the sky this morning, when he went off alone in the woods after we'd found her body. He thought he was far enough away, but grief must have clouded his thoughts. I still heard him.

It is not Glorfindel's fault. No one holds him responsible. No, I curse myself. I blame myself. I should never have let her cross the Misty Mountains alone. My hands are shaking now, as the anger rages through my veins.

I am actually glad for it. Happy that I am finally feeling something, anything, anything more than the blackness that has been holding my feä hostage for the past twelve hours. But, quick as it came, the anger is gone. I simply cannot feel anymore. Not the velvet of my robes, not the coldness of my sister's hands as I hold her. I can't handle all the emotion; I can't handle the breaking of my heart. I simply feel...nothing. I feel as dead as Ammë is. My heart cannot handle any more abuse; neither can it handle happiness and joy. It simply wants to be left alone, left alone to die, perhaps.

"Elladan, you know you can't just sit there. You need to let yourself grieve; sitting there, not allowing yourself to feel anything is not going to help," a quiet voice behind me whispers. I spin around to face the voice.

To my surprise, it is not Glorfindel standing in the doorway to my room, but Erestor.

"Erestor? But how..."

"How did I know how you felt? I too have been through the loss of a loved one as dear to me as Celeb was to you," he stated simply, using Ammë's nickname. My expression, which had been unguarded for a moment, was now back to its rigid, emotionless mask. Erestor continued after a moment, "my mother was taken by the Orcs. So were my sister and my brother, and father. I am the only survivor of my family. I know how it hurts, I know how it feels like you can't touch the flood of agony and anguish, or you might break. I don't know exactly how you feel, but I can get a pretty close estimate, and I promise you that leaving that hurricane locked up inside you will kill you. Let it out."

"I cannot," was the only reply I could manage. He is right; I cannot allow myself to feel the pain of her loss. It was like a burning hot monster that I couldn't stand up to; it would crush me.

My mind tells me that Erestor is correct. I know I have to let it all out, one way or another, but I can't seem to. There is a block, a blackened wall between me and the hurt and I can't knock it down.

After a few minutes of silence, I supposed that Erestor would leave. He did not, though; instead, he began talking once more. After his act of compassion, I was expecting a little more comfort, but I was in for a rude awakening.

"Fine. If you want to wallow, that's your choice. What of Imladris? Do you not care? Your father is injured; it is your responsibility at this time. I suppose I shall go tell the citizens to start packing; Elladan does not wish to deal with you anymore," he said mockingly, turning on his heel. Anger flashed in my eyes.

"I never said that," I growled. "Erestor, now is not the time; my temper has been worn to a thread."

"Well then, remind me never to break that thread," he said over his shoulder, still walking away.

In a flash, I am running after him. I always thought of Erestor as a book person. He wasn't very good with the three of us, my siblings and I, when we were small, and he has never been wonderful with emotions, but this is only proving my point. He is angering me greatly.

"What are you doing? My mother is dead, and all you can do is pretend to be compassionate when in reality you know *nothing* about how I feel," I growl between my clenched teeth when I catch him. I hold him against the wall. A passing by servant wisely chooses not to interfere, but stops, walks back in the direction he came from, and lets us alone. I may do something I would regret if someone interrupts.

"Really? Well, Elladan, I can't know how you feel, not until you do. And you're too cowardly to face up to your own feelings, so I guess no one will ever know," he spits back, wrenching out of my grip. I feel my face grow red.

"I AM NOT A COWARD!" I roar, not caring who hears me. Probably all of Imladris can, but it doesn't bother me.

Erestor stops. Turning around again, he walks back toward me. "Prove it to me, Elladan. Until you can prove it, I won't believe it," he hisses. My face is growing redder and redder, and my eyes are hot with tears.

"I can't! All right?! I CAN'T! I cannot do what you want me to. I can't feel, I can't do anything right now," I rage. I've reached the breaking point; the dam holding back all the fear, hate, pain, guilt, it's all flowing out in the burning tears racing down my face. I wipe them away, ashamed. Erestor is merely listening now. "It is my fault she's dead; it's my fault because I didn't go with her. I didn't protect her, and I couldn't even get there in time to save her!"

My breathing grows more ragged until I break down into sobs, and Erestor leads me into his study. It's smaller than Ada's, but still rather large. Erestor sits me down in an overstuffed chair, listening to me pour my heart out. When I am finished, I find that Glorfindel has been standing at the door for some time now, summoned by the strange sound of my tears. I rarely cry-at least, now that I am an adult. I cried at the birth of my sister, and I cried when Elrohir was seriously hurt on a visit to Mirkwood (which I still take the blame for), but I have not cried any other time since I was an Elfling.

"Elladan, you can't blame yourself. You could not know there was a new opening at the Pass, and I am certain that if you had moved any faster getting to her, you would have been flying. I know it hurts; it will hurt for a long time, but you will see her again. She would not want you to blame yourself, and you know she did not want you to go with her in the first place. That was her decision. You can't blame her for that, and you can't blame yourself either. It was no one's fault. I know that doesn't help much right now, but holding in your tears will only make it worse. Emotions are like poison; if you don't let them out, they will kill you. Now, I will let you go back to your room, and I will make sure all of Imladris' affairs are in order for tonight. Elfling, remember that you are not alone, and do not hesitate to call either Glorfindel or I if you need a release."

I nod. "Thank you, Erestor. I did not realize, at first, what you were doing, but I see it now. Thank you," I say once more. Oh yes, I do realize what he did; he provided me a target for all of my anger and grief. Even now, there is compassion in his eyes. He is a much better friend as an adult than as a child, I muse, for he is not exactly what you would call 'talented' with children.

Glorfindel is still standing by the door, and he puts his hand on my shoulder as I pass him by. We lock eyes for a moment, and I begin to understand just how much they care. It is true; I am not alone in my pain. I will live. There are people to help and support me.

I will see my mother again, in Aman, when she is released from the Halls of Mandos. I can only look forward to that day.