Home is where the heart is
Elrond could hear his twin sons screaming this all the way down the hall. He stood up from his desk and walked out of the room, tired from working on foreign affairs for so long. "What in the name of Valar are you two..." He stopped and took in the scene before him. Elladan and Elrohir supported their foster sister between them. Aelinea was unconscious and bruises marred her fair features. Her arms were bruised less severely, but her wrists were raw and bruised; she'd obviously been tied up. Her tunic was torn, but the twins had both given her their cloaks. But her face...her face was awful! Her nose bled and more bruises lined her face. She had been punched in the eyes, cheeks and chin, which must have split her lip.
"Take her to her room quickly!" He said and the twins obeyed, half-dragging and half-carrying their sister to her room and placed her on her bed. "Get me my bag, some more sheets, a few towels and a basin with cool water." And the twins were gone.
Elrond looked at his daughter. Her eyes were half lidded and she looked only half in reality. "Aelinea?" He wiped her messy hair from her forehead and gazed into her eyes. "What happened Aelinea?"
She cringed under his touch and pulled away. "No!" She screamed and Elrond moved back. Tears poured down her face. "No." She repeated, softer and more quietly this time, but with force behind the word. Elrond stood up and walked over to a table. Quickly, he made a drug that would put Aelinea to sleep and walked over to her bed.
She sank heavily into the bed, as if trying to sink right through it. "This will make you feel better." He said and she looked at him. Finally she took the cup and drank a few sips before the drug made her pass out. Elrond took the cup gently and set it on the nightstand. He sighed.
The twins came in with all the materials that Elrond requested and set them on the bed, looking at their sister. They left at Elrond's request, closing the door behind them and sitting in chairs just outside the door.
= = = = == = =
Elladan and Elrohir looked up as the door opened and stood before their father could say anything. "She has bruises on her lower back and on the insides of her thighs. She also has open wounds there. Whoever captured her did more than just beat her." Elrond's eyes burned fiercely. The twins caught the meaning of the words and walked forward to embrace their father.
"Can we see her?" Elladan asked as the embrace was broken, wiping his eyes. Elrond nodded and followed the twins into Aelinea's room.
She was sleeping, her eyes closed, and any open wound had been cleaned. Elrond had put a cream on her face that would stop swelling on those bruises. Her face had been the worst and the bruises there had been the deepest. The rest of the bruises would heal with time. As would her emotions.
Elladan and Elrohir sat on their sister's right and Elrond took the left. "What happened? How did you find her?" Elrond asked.
"We don't know what happened, but we found her about two leagues from Bree. She was lying in the grass...we thought she was dead. Her horse was trying to wake her. I see why she loves that horse so much. He's loyal, fast and friendly." Elladan explained.
"Bree? She's been in Lorien for the past month! How in the name of Valar did she get to Bree...and why was she there?" Elrond was still fuming at the idea of what had happened to his daughter.
The twins shrugged. "We know as much as you do. What do we do when she wakes?" Elrohir looked to his father.
The older Elf sighed. He didn't know. He wanted her to stay asleep forever and mayhap she would forget it after a time with pleasant dreams. He wanted to take her fate and crush it with his boot. "Give her time. She needs to come into terms with what has happened to her. Let her be angry, for it will be so when she wakes. But her anger will not be directed towards you."
"But she'll die or...or go into the west!" Elrohir exclaimed.
"That is her choice. We will support whatever choice she makes. Let her yell at you, but don't yell back. Give her your shoulder to cry on and listen to her when she speaks." Elrond said.
Elladan nodded and Elrohir looked down at his sleeping sister.
"The time between now and when she is able to accept what has happened will be long, but it will be shorter if we are there for her." Elrond looked down at his daughter. She had been washed and placed in fresh clothing by one of the female healers after Elrond had cleaned her wounds.
"That is something we can do." Elladan said, nodding slightly.
= = = = = =
Aelinea woke slowly, met by the bright light of the sun. Her father had drugged her again, but why? Her face hurt and her arms too, but not badly, just a dull ache. Elrohir was by her side, his face hidden as he leaned his head against the edge of the bed. Elladan was sitting in the chair next to him, a book leaning on his chest as he slept also. On her left, her father stood at a table, his back to her.
Aelinea put her hand over Elrohir's and then looked back over to her father. "Ada?" The Lord turned quickly, coming over to her side. Elrohir woke too, feeling a hand over his.
"Aelinea?" Elrohir asked and she turned to him.
"Good morning." She said to them both, confusion half-hidden in her voice.
"Good morning." She received two replies.
And suddenly, without warning, it all came back to her. She knew what happened and she knew why she was here. "No!" She buried her face into her pillow, which became wet with her tears. Everything was coming back...
The knife was pressed so close to her throat that she feared to breathe, for the blade might cut her. He pressed her farther and farther into the dark alley and then she felt more hands on her. More men had come. She felt fear rip through her. They were going to kill her! They tied her hands tightly with rope and held her hands down roughly. They pressed her ankles to the ground. The knife stayed by her throat the whole time, reminding her not to scream.
Images of her father, brothers and sister smiling flashed through her, blocking out the men who invaded her. Her father was smiling, her brothers were smiling and Arwen was standing under a tree. She remembered her trip to Lorien. It was so much fun! She got to meet her grandparents again. She remembered the walk with Celeborn, her grandfather. And the sweet smell of Galadriel, her grandmother. The trees glittered with moonlight and...
Suddenly she was brought back to a painful reality as she smelled the hot breath of the current man hurting her. Which one was this? The fifth man to hurt her tonight? And there were seven of them. This man was heavier and more rugged than the others. He kissed her roughly, as the others had. She cringed slightly, wanting to scream. Scream with pain, scream with hatred, scream for help.
"No!" She screamed, but it was half-muffled by her pillow. "No!"
Elladan had awaken and was watching in sorrow with his father and brother. Elladan reached forward and placed his hand on his sister's shoulder gently. She screamed brokenly again and pulled the covers over her head, curling up into a ball. Elladan frowned.
"Ada..."She said brokenly, her shoulders shaking with sobs.
Elrond felt his eyes beginning to burn with oncoming tears and he blinked them back heavily. She had said his name, but it was only a remembrance. She wasn't really calling for him now. He couldn't comfort her at all and it was tearing him apart! Elrohir stood and walked quickly out of the room, unable to stand it anymore. Elladan looked at his father quickly and went to follow his brother.
"Aelinea, I'm here now." Elrond whispered, but if she heard him, she didn't reply.
= = = = = =
Elladan followed Elrohir out. "'Ro, wait." He said and the younger twin stopped mid-way down the hall, sitting in the chair by him. Elladan walked to his brother, taking the chair by the one that occupied Elrohir.
"I-I can't watch her go through this! She's in so much pain...a pain greater than the worst sword wound...and I can do nothing about it!" He said, tears reddening his eyes.
"We have to be there for her, 'Ro. Remember what Ada said? She would yell..."
"Not the yelling, El'! I can live with her yelling; I've been doing it for years now." He smiled slightly. "But did you see her eyes Elladan? Pain, confusion and nothing more! Do you know that light she always has in her eyes?" A nod from Elladan led him to continue. "Well, it isn't there anymore!" Tears cascaded from his eyes and down his face.
Elladan pulled his brother into a hug, whispering Elvish into his ear and letting his twin cry on his shoulder.
= = = = = =
Elrond looked up as the door opened and two Elves, identical in all appearance, stepped in. Elladan and Elrohir took their seats again and looked at their father. Their gazes read 'Any change?' clearly and Elrond shook his head. Aelinea was curled up with the covers over her head. She was shaking, but not screaming anymore.
Aelinea flipped the covers off of her and got out of bed quickly. She went into the washroom and emptied her stomach. She didn't feel good at all. And then she felt her father bring her hair back and she heard him whisper soft Elvish. "Melinyel." He whispered. I love you
"Gerich veleth nîn, ada." She whispered back. You have my love father
Elrond helped her back to bed and felt her forehead. She was burning up! He went to get a cloth and dipped it in the water basin. He brought it back and placed it on Aelinea's forehead, trying to cool the warmth that was coming. "Now rest." He said softly.
Come stop your crying
It will be all right
Just take my hand Hold it tight
I will protect you
from all around you
I will be here
Don't you cry
For one so small,
you seem so strong
My arms will hold you,
keep you safe and warm
This bond between us
Can't be broken
I will be here
Don't you cry
'Cause you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more
You'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You'll be here in my heart, always
Why can't they understand
the way we feel
They just don't trust
what they can't explain
I know we're different but,
deep inside us
We're not that different at all
And you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more
Don't listen to them
'Cause what do they know
We need each other,
to have, to hold
They'll see in time
When destiny calls you
You must be strong
I may not be with you
But you've got to hold on
They'll see in time
We'll show them together
'Cause you'll be in my heart
Yes, you'll be in my heart
From this day on,
Now and forever more
Oh, you'll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You'll be in my heart, always
= = = = = =
She was asleep. Not drugged, just asleep.
Quite in her dreams of peace where she could not be harmed.
What was she dreaming of?
Flowers and fields? Oceans and skies? Her friends? Family?
Elrond stood in her doorway, arms crossed and a small smile on his face. There was going to be a very long time ahead of the family as she dealt with what had happened. She turned in her sleep and the covers slid off her shoulder to drape over her side. But if she went into the west, Elrond would just be broken. If she went, they wouldn't have to help her through this ordeal, but they would rather help her than have her leave forever. They wanted to help her!
Aelinea moaned softly in her sleep, turning in her dreams. "No...Ada...Ada!" She pushed her pillow away from her. Elrond walked over to her bedside. Sweat beaded her forehead. "Mm...n-no...." She whimpered, clutching her blanket.
Elrond sat down and touched Aelinea's shoulder. She screamed, still in sleep, and swatted his hand away. "No!"
"Aelinea, wake up, wake up dear." Elrond said, but it was no use. She was locked in a memory and couldn't get out.
A cold object was pressed to her neck. "You're lucky Elf. We have no money. If we did, I could just take you to the Prancing Pony and keep you longer than I could in an alleyway. Scream and I'll cut your throat. When we're finished, tell and not only will you die, but so will your family."
Aelinea narrowed her eyes. "You don't know anything about me. You don't know my family."
She was backhanded sharply. "Did I ask for an answer!? Shut your mouth! And as for your comment, I do know who your family is. You have twin brothers, very identical no? They could have the same fate as you, you know. And you have a sister...looks like you somewhat. Your father is the founder of Rivendell is he not? And you are Aelinea."
"Holmelya ná ve orco!" She muttered defiantly, receiving another slap across the face. Your smell is that of an Orc!
"Shut up! None of that! Hear me!? None of that!" He said, pressing the knife closer to her throat. He pressed her back against the wall behind her. "Now cooperate with me." He whispered, using a second dagger to cut the front of her tunic open, moving down slowly.
She tried to fade back into the wall, but it was useless. The dagger cut the sides of her leggings and she drew in her breath. "No..." She whispered, realizing his intent. "Please...no..." He put the second dagger back and used his hands to rip the rest, ignoring her pleas.
"Please...just let me go...please..."
Elrond sat back by Aelinea's bedside. He couldn't wake her. She had settled though. She wasn't talking in her sleep anymore. Elrond had fixed her pillow so that it was under her head again and pulled the covers up to her shoulders.
Elrond was almost going to say "Aelinea, wake up, I'm here.", but he realized that it wasn't his daughter. Elladan and Elrohir stood at the door, dressed in their pajamas. "She's settled now. Go back to bed." He said, standing to walk up to his twin sons and let them out. They needed sleep.
Elrond felt dizzy for a moment and held Elladan's shoulder for support. "Ada!" Was the last thing he remembered before everything went black.
He woke moments later, lying in a bed away from Aelinea's room. Twin faces hovered over him "Ada?" Elladan asked, concern etching his features. Elrohir mirrored his concern. Elrond sat up. What happened? "Ada, you passed out. When was the last time you slept?"
Elrond sighed. "About a week ago. I had that letter to get to Mirkwood, the report to get to get done, and then Aelinea..."
"When was the last time you ate?" Elladan asked. His father had never passed out before!
"Same. I had some tea about three days ago, but you needn't worry. I'll be fine." Elrond pushed the covers back, but Elladan pushed his father back and pulled the covers back over him.
"No, you need rest and I'll go have the kitchen staff make something for you. Elrohir will go to Aelinea." Elladan said.
"Elladan, I'm just fine. I..." Elrond was cut off by a scream from the next room.
"Aelinea." He got out of bed and went to his daughter. Aelinea sat in the corner, knees drawn to her chest, her arms pressed to her waist and she rocked herself back and forth. She was shaking terribly and Elrond's heart broke. He kneeled by her, staying back about a foot and a half. But she didn't seem to notice him. She was humming softly and staring ahead.
"Nalye varna." Elrond whispered, for Elvish seemed to calm her a little more. You are safe.
"Ada?" She stopped humming and looked at her father.
Elrond smiled and nodded. "Tancavë, Meldanya." He whispered. Yes, my dear.
Aelinea leaned forward and wrapped her arms around her father's neck, tears flowing from her eyes. She leaned her cheek against her father's shoulder and looked at the twins. She held out a hand and the twins walked forward, kneeling also and holding her hand. Elrohir whispered something to her, but she did not catch it. "Mana quentel? Umin hanya..." She whispered. What did you say? I do not understand...
"I said I love you."
"I love you too."
= = = = =
"I-I can't do that Ada..." Aelinea whispered. Men were coming to Rivendell from Gondor to talk with Elrond. It was formal affairs and Aelinea wasn't interested.
"It's alright you won't even have to meet them. They are staying one night and leaving the tomorrow by noon. They won't even know you." Elrond said, smiling at his daughter. He knew it would be hard for her, but the men who hurt her were Bree-landers and not those from Gondor.
She considered his words and finally nodded slowly. "Alright." She trusted her father. She got out of the chair she sat on and walked to the balcony, breathing in the fresh air. "Here they come..." She whispered and Elrond walked out to her.
"You can stay here. I'll have the twins bring dinner for you." He left with a smile that was returned. Aelinea stared as the men came up. There were about ten of them on horseback. She walked off the balcony, closing the glass doors that led to the balcony and locking them. She locked her bedroom door and lay on her bed, staring at the intricate designs on the ceiling, following the patterns with her eyes.
She was glad that her father was quite understanding about the men coming. She couldn't stand sitting with them there. She would most likely get sick.
The last man had just "finished" with her and was standing up, pulling his belt back around his waist. Aelinea lay breathing raggedly on the cold stone floor, her hands clutching her cloak securely. She lay limp as one of the men dragged her to her feet and pressed her against the wall. It was the leader, her original captor. The knife was against her throat again and she closed her eyes, tears slipping past. He ran his finger down her cheek and then pressed the knife tighter against her neck.
He was going to kill her now that they had had their "fun". She just knew death was coming. He would slit her throat and leave her to die here. He pulled the hood of her cloak over her head, tucking her brown hair back so it wouldn't seen. "We are leaving. Scream or do anything stupid and you'll be dead before anyone can help you and then your family will meet you in Mandos, I assure you." He pressed the knife harder for emphasis.
She nodded. "Okay..." she choked out, nodding stiffly under the pressure of the knife.
"Good. Alright move out! I'll take her on my horse." He told the other men who stood in the alleyway.
Aelinea jumped when there was a knock on the door. She got up and pressed her ear to the door. "Yes?" She asked.
"It's us Aelinea." She heard one of the twins say. She breathed in and opened the door. The twins had brought dinner for her.
"Thank you." She said when he handed her the tray. They nodded, smiles on their faces, and turned to leave. "Um...wait." They turned. "Come in for a second. I need to ask you something...a favor." She gestured for them to enter, stepping back to let them in.
"Of course. Anything." Elladan said. Aelinea looked up and down the halls before closing the door.
"Alright, I need you two to see if any of the men have a dark blue...l-like a royal blue color...cloak with a dragon on the shoulder..." She said. "And see if one of the men has a scar over his left eye."
"Alright. We'll be back with something." Elrohir said and they left the room.
"Thank you." She whispered after them.
= = = =
She had barely finished her dinner when there was a knock on her door. She got up and opened it. The twins stood there and she quickly let them inside. "We found the cloak, but we can't find a scar. A few of them are wearing hoods or their hair covers their eyes." Elrohir said.
"If you found the cloak, the scarred man is bound to be here. Thank you so much." Aelinea said.
"Never a problem." Elladan answered and the twins left quietly.
They were here! The men had come! Aelinea locked the door again and went back to her bed. But she didn't tell! Her father found out. It was quite obvious though! She clutched her sword tightly against her and sat in the middle of her bed, staring at the door.
= = = = =
She woke up. Did she really fall asleep? The room was quiet and dark and her sword lay near her. She was thirsty and there was no fresh water in her room so she stood up, grabbed the dagger from her top drawer and headed for the kitchens. Nobody was up at this hour. The hallways were lit by the torches on the walls, allowing her to see.
Her Elven steps were muted as she walked closer to the kitchens. "So didn't sail into the west after our meeting." She heard behind her and she stopped dead, turning slowly and hiding her dagger. The leader of the gang that had hurt her stood there, the other men walking up behind him.
"I wouldn't do that. I have much more to live for besides thinking about the cruel things you all did to me." She said, fear ripping through her and she clutched her dagger for comfort.
"Cruel? I think not. In no way were we cruel! We could have taken you into the Prancing Pony and done much, much more for much, much longer. We could have done what we wanted with you and then I could have slit your throat and end your pitiful existence. We could have taken you home with us by horseback and done whatever we wanted with you until we were too old, but then give you to our sons. And we didn't, did we? But remember what I said to you about telling? Now, you'll die along with your father. And we are taking your brothers home with us." He said, brandishing his knife.
Aelinea was too terrified to remember her dagger and she choked on tears and fear as she backed away from him. She ran, unable to scream, and headed for her room. She could lock her door and she would be safe! She ran to her door and opened it, quickly getting inside and closing it. But the man's weight slammed into the door at the last second and she couldn't lock the door. 'No!' She thought, trying harder to close the door.
She resisted as long as possible, hoping someone would hear her struggle, but then the other gang members pitched in to help and the weight on the other end of her door increased to more than two times her weight. The door opened and she was thrown back. She held out her dagger as the leader came to her, but he was quicker and knocked it out of her hand. She opened her mouth to scream, but the cold steel against her neck told her otherwise.
One of the men locked the door and she felt all hope slip away from her. The leader forced her back towards her bed, undoing his belt at the same time. He pushed her back and she felt the soft mattress under her and the man was on her. He sat on her knees and used his dagger to slowly rip the sides of her leggings, smiling evilly as she melted under his touch.
She turned her head to look away from what was folding out before her and she held back a gasp. Hidden in the dark corner of her washroom stood Elladan and Elrohir, holding their swords protectively before themselves.
She felt safe again even as the man began to kiss her roughly. Her heart was tearing now, but she wouldn't have to endure much more. Like a flash of lightning, the twins ran out of the washroom and attacked the men, who were weaponless, for they had figured they wouldn't need weapons with the girl. The angry twins slaughtered them all and then pushed the leader off of their sister. They cornered him and Elladan brought his sword out, touching it to the leader's neck. "How does it feel to be on the other end of the blade?" the elder twin sneered as Elrohir went over to Aelinea.
Elrohir gave Aelinea his cloak and the girl stood, watching with menacing features as Elladan cornered and interrogated the leader. Elrohir stood protectively by her side, his blade drawn. "She is of our family and when one in our family is injured, it affects us all. What you did had no excuse, but it didn't ruin us. It made our love for each other stronger. You got nothing out of this, nothing! You..."
"Elladan, move back." Elrond's voice suddenly came from behind him. Matching Aelinea's menacing stare, he moved back and Elrond immediately stepped in the same spot.
"What good did this get you? You're sick and I hope you die the worst death, but I will have you know that you got nothing out of this except maybe a few minutes of fun and control. If you want control, control your bloody nose." With that, Elrond drew back his fist and punched the leader so hard in the nose that a sickening crack was heard and blood gushed onto the carpet. Aelinea, Elladan and Elrohir stood in shocked surprise, their mouths and eyes open with shock. Never had Elrond done something like that!
"Now listen and listen good, you sick beast, I could kill you here and now if I so choose and my sons would also be happy to do the honors. But I will make things tense for you and let Aelinea choose your fate. Oh, you don't know who Aelinea is? She is the sweet, loving, caring and kindhearted person you raped." Elrond stared at the man and called over his shoulder. "Elladan, give Aelinea your sword." He turned back to the man. "Your victim is now the one holding your life in her hands. If she kills you, she will not be put on trial. If she lets you live, you better think of something to do."
Elladan complied and Aelinea stared at the blade. She had control now. Control. She walked forward and stood in the spot where her father once stood, raising her blade to point directly at the jugular. The man looked terrified, but tried to hide it with a stare at the girl. She glared at him and considered what she should do.
The horses stopped and the leader of the group roughly brought Aelinea down. He threw her in the grass and kicked her in the sides, face and arms. He got down on his knees and began to punch her mercilessly. Aelinea cried out at the rough treatment a few times. She felt warm blood flow from her nose and she felt the bruises form on her face, back, arms, legs and stomach. Finally it stopped and the leader left her, a pile of bloody mess, in the grass.
She pressed it closer so he would have to still his breathing more in an uncomfortable way. "Doesn't feel good does it? It's worse when you have to slow your breathing while you are being raped. You breathe and you die, but you don't breathe and the rape is a whole lot worse. Pick and choose. It is also hard after you have been raped to slow your breathing, but that knife of yours made slowing my breathing so hard. You and your gang made me fear at first, but then I was home and surrounded by the love of my family. In my mind, now that I actually think about it, you got absolutely nothing from me. I am in control now."
She stopped to think about her next words. "Now that you are not in control, how do you feel? Trapped? Funny, I remember the same feeling when you and your gang toyed with me. I wasn't in control of my body anymore and now you aren't in control of your life. I can kill you and you would have had no choice but to die. I can let you live, but you will live remembering that the girl you raped and thought you could control with threats...has given you life, a second chance at life. Which do you choose? Oh, wait, that's right, I am in control. I would have chosen not to have been raped, but did I get my pick? No. You choose to live, I would think, but will you get your pick?" She leaned forward, thrusting her sword into his neck, but not killing him instantly. She wanted him to suffer. "No, you won't get your pick." She watched unmercifully as the man fell to the ground, dying ever so slowly.
The last breath left the man's body and Aelinea dropped the sword and it hit the carpeted floor with a short thud. She backed up, trembling with the thought that she had just murdered someone. Arms held her and she turned around to wrap her arms around Elrond's neck, pressing her forehead against his shoulder and closing her eyes.
He was gone.
And he couldn't hurt her anymore.
She felt a heavy burden lift off her soul as she realized that her words earlier were true. He got nothing from her except maybe a while of fear. But she had her family with her, even if they weren't biologically hers, they were hers in every other way. In her mind, soul and heart they were the only family she had...the only family she wanted.
A sister to share interests with her.
Elladan to keep her on her feet.
Elrohir to make her laugh.
A father to love her as his own, which was something not every foster parent could do.
It sounded like the perfect family to her. She couldn't ask for anything better. She didn't want anything to change and what happened to her wasn't going to change her family's love for her. Or her love for them.