This is fanfiction. The characters, places and the like are not mine.
I thought that the little twins were being neglected of late.
In a small sitting room, some distance from the hustle and bustle of the halls Elrond, the Lord of Imladris, and Celebrían, his wife were sprawled on a wide bench in front of the fire. There was a book resting on Elrond's knee, but neither of the pair was reading, their attention instead being focused on the two small half-elves playing on the hearth rug before them.
For the moment at least, both boys were fully occupied with a number of carved wooden animals. The twins were just over a year now and in the weeks that had passed since they had found their feet they had been running their parents ragged. Any moment in which both twins were happy and stationary was cause for celebration – or at least a pleasant chance to sit down.
"Bear!" Elrohir reached for a handsome animal, made out of polished oak.
"Wolf." Elladan made his own animal trot across the rug and bang into his brother's. "Eat bear."
With both boys happily making their animals maul each other to death, Elrond surreptitiously reached for his wife's hand. It was rare now for them to have any time to enjoy each other's company during the day, and any spare minute was to be treasured.
"We will not be missed tonight, I feel." Elrond ran his fingers between those of his wife, tracing a circle around the slender gold ring she wore as token of their marriage. Although it was customary for them to attend the evening meal each night, Glorfindel was quite capable of covering for them if need be. Indeed their friend was apt to carry on conversations with himself if his audience was disinclined to participate.
"I should think not," Celebrían murmured, leaning towards her husband and brushing his cheek with her lips, "Perhaps we might..."
There was an all too familiar hammering at the door and husband and wife jerked apart as the door swung open. Both boys looked up with wide toothy grins as an all too familiar blond elf entered the room.
"Gor!" Elrohir waved his arms at the Balrog-slayer's knees, clearly eager to be picked up.
"'Fee!" Elladan pushed himself up onto unsteady feet and let out an astonishingly high-pitched squeal. "'Feeee!"
Glorfindel, once the famed Balrog-slayer of Gondolin and now Elrond's oldest friend, was a frequent visitor to the family chambers. He was a slender yet muscular elf, a good couple of inches taller than even Imladris' half-elven lord. His golden hair fell loose over his shoulders with a narrow braid running behind each pointed ear. Unlike most of the elves in the valley he favoured bright colours over those of a more subtle nature, and his scarlet tunics, gold embroidery and white leggings ensured that he was visible in all but the most crowded halls.
Not that the twins usually had any trouble identifying him. They were bright little boys and had quickly come to associate the golden hair and characteristic accent of their father's most frequent visitor with rough and tumble games, piggyback rides and much laughter. Even the very hint of an appearance was cause for an exuberant welcome.
"Master Elrohir!" The Balrog-slayer plucked one tiny half-elf off the floor and swung him upside down by the ankles, causing the child to squeal with laughter. "Or is it Master Elladan?"
Since both twins were dressed in rust coloured corduroy tunics and brown shorts it would almost have been a reasonable question, had Elrond not known that Glorfindel had no more trouble distinguishing the twins than he and Celebrían did.
"Me Elladan," Elladan said firmly from the floor, waving a wooden horse at his brother. "That 'Ro."
Elrond's elder son had only truly mastered his own name in the last couple of days, and he still had need to sound out each of the syllables slowly and individually.
"Indeed, so it is!" Glorfindel's fair face broke into a grin as he set down one elfling and picked up the other. Although the little boys were identical, with the same mop of dark hair and light grey eyes, they already had their own characters. While Elrohir preferred to be tickled and swung, his brother – the elder by some quarter hour – loved to be thrown high in the air and caught. He did this now; wincing slightly as the elfling shrieked his pleasure into his ear.
Finally, with both small boys back on the ground, Glorfindel ambled over to the bench and sat squarely between Elrond and Celebrían.
"Ah, that is better!" Ignoring the exasperated looks from his two friends, Glorfindel shuffled in his seat and applied judicious jabs of the elbow until he had as much space as he desired. "I have been on my feet all afternoon!"
"Is it not still the afternoon?" Elrond glanced suspiciously out the window. The light was fading fast at this time of the year, and the fog seemed heavier than it had this morning.
Choosing to rely on temporary deafness, Glorfindel held out a steadying hand to each of the twins who were making their wobbly way towards them. Turning to Celebrían with an invigorating smile he waved one hand lazily towards the twins, unfortunately causing it to be removed from reach of Elrohir's outstretched fingers. "You are as beautiful as ever, Celebrían. I must say that motherhood becomes you."
"Why, thank you." Eyes alight with laugher, Celebrían responded with equal pomposity. "I am glad to see that you too have suffered no blight to your fair face. Eilithen will be pleased."
Glorfindel flushed and he narrowed his eyes at the elf-lady as Elrond guffawed with laughter. Eilithen was the latest in a long line on maidens to take a rather pronounced fancy to the Captain of Imladris Guard and it was becoming difficult to wander down the hallways without having to endure the dubious pleasure of her company. Hoping to change the subject before the Lord of Imladris could add his own comments; he gestured once again at the twins and spoke cheerfully. "They learn quickly. Soon you will be running after them!"
As if in answer Elrohir lurched to one side and fell flat on his face, leaving his brother to toddle into the haven Glorfindel's knees alone.
Rising from the bench to dust her younger son down and cuddle away the tears, Celebrían smiled weakly. "Yes, they learn fast."
Elladan was especially quick in all things physical, and he had an undoubted talent of wriggling and squirming into small spaces to hide. Unfortunately he often neglected to consider how he would escape from such hidey-holes and Elrond and Glorfindel had once spent a memorable afternoon attempting to move the crockery cabinet to free a bawling child.
"Aye, they are already beginning to climb." Elrond grinned as Elladan attempted to scramble onto the Balrog-slayer's lap, reaching for a handhold that required rather urgent discouragement.
"Wait here!" Glorfindel sprang to his feet and pranced across the room to a dresser on which he had deposited a satchel and two small packages. "I have something for you!"
The blond elf was a generous soul and often brought small gifts for the young twins, but Elrond was wary enough to get to his feet to examine the parcels before his sons could develop too great an attachment to them. Glorfindel's idea of suitable playthings differed considerable from his own – and usually consisted of the very items a budding Balrog-slayer had wished for so many years before.
Elrond was very glad that he had never met Glorfindel as a child.
"It is not a sword?" Elrond eyed his friend dubiously and attempted to do a fast side step in order to see whatever the Balrog-slayer was brandishing. "It has no spikes? No blades? No thorns?"
Glorfindel danced neatly back and smirked infuriatingly at the foiled attempt to catch a glimpse of the gift.
"Nay, what makes you think I would do such a thing, Peredhil?" Glorfindel arched his eyebrows in mock surprise.
"I do not wish to have to soothe my sons, Glorfindel." Elrond sneaked a glance at the window, hoping to see a reflection of the gift in the glass. "Or mop up blood and tears."
The Balrog-slayer gave him what would have been a withering look had he had a little more conviction in his innocence.
"Here," Glorfindel said proudly, bringing out his surprise with a flourish - and Elrond had to admit that it was a good one. There were two sturdy blocks of wood drilled with smooth wooden holes. A variety of brightly coloured pegs of different sizes and shapes were arranged in those holes. And then there were those adorable little wooden mallets with which an elfling could bang those pegs into place.
"Is it not perfect?" The Balrog-slayer's voice was rich with self-satisfaction.
Elrond glanced quickly from the two mallets to the twenty tiny fingers and thumbs that he had in his care and groaned.
"Aye, quite perfect."
The Lord of Imladris smiled toothily at his friend.
"And do not think I have forgotten you, Peredhil!" Glorfindel beamed, reaching into the leather satchel slung at his side.
Elrond mentally prepared himself for a fresh onslaught, but was caught at unawares as the Balrog-slayer brought out three thick slices of a warm, moist fruitcake.
"I found it beside my door this very morning," Glorfindel shrugged and spoke through a giant mouthful of crumbs, "It seemed a pity to waste it..."
Having admirers numbered into the hundreds did have its advantages.
"Thank you," Celebrían beamed at the blond elf as she took her slice of cake, adding as a reminder, "Remember that the boys cannot have any. They are too small as yet to manage the nuts. . ."
Glorfindel was a firm believer that elflings were resilient little creatures that learnt best through experience. So far he had successfully fed Elladan a mouthful of un-boned fish, nearly choked both twins on cherries, and as far as Celebrían was concerned, held full responsibility for the incident with Elrohir and the garlic head. All mothers in the valley pitied the unfortunate youngling that would eventually be gullible enough to be wooed by the Balrog-slayer.
"Ah," Glorfindel gave Celebrían the rightfully proud smile of a highly organised elf, "that matters not! I have brought them this!"
He fished once more into the satchel and drew out two packages wrapped in green Mallorn leaves.
"I did not think that they had yet tried this." Glorfindel knelt down between the twins and unwrapped each a dripping golden block.
Celebrían cast a frantic eye over the room. She had spent hours checking that it was free from all temptation for toddling elflings, but she had not considered the risk of damage when the boys were armed with anything more sticky than their fingers. Embroidered cushions, priceless tapestries, and ancient manuscripts danced before her eyes.
She had never considered that anyone would be foolish enough to gift two such tiny boys with slabs of honeycomb.
"Oh!" Smiling brightly she shepherded both twins from the woven rug to the polished floor. "That is very thoughtful of you."
"It is a pleasure." Glorfindel licked his fingers and returned to sit between the Lord and Lady of Imladris with a smile. "I was always fond of honeycomb."
"Why does that not surprise me." Elrond grumbled under his breath, watching as a sticky trail of honey trickled down Elladan's arms and chin.
"'Da!" Elrohir said proudly from the corner. "Look!"
Honey gave small fingers magical powers that the twins were only to pleased to demonstrate. Parchment could be picked up without need to grasp, grey fur could be grown by sweeping one's hand in the dust beneath the dresser, pretty patterns could be drawn on the glass...
"Elladan!" Celebrían shook her head sharply at her small son. "No! Not the windows!"
The elfling turned to look at her, licking a mixture of grime and honey from his palms. Somehow the mixture had also got in his hair, and a number of dark locks were plastered stickily to his forehead and across his eyes.
"Come here, little one." She held out a hand to the little boy, and Elladan started moving precariously towards her, but Elrohir reached his mother first. The younger twin had made the intriguing discovery that honey could be fashioned into a beard and moustache that was both delightfully drippy and sweet tasting, and he was much taken by his new appearance.
"Kiss!" Beaming in delight he thrust his face against his mother's nose.
"Ask Glorfindel." Celebrían said grimly, hoisting Elrohir onto the Balrog-slayer's lap and trying not to sneeze.
Honey and pollen had always had this effect on her, but she could not have a sneezing fit, not now!
Despite his best efforts, Elladan was failing miserably to shake his hair from his eyes, and with his mop of dark hair becoming steadily stickier, he was rapidly becoming upset. If she did not get to him within the minute his whimpering would turn into sobs and then yells.
Bouncing Elrohir cheerfully on his knee and giving in to his demands to kiss and be kissed, Glorfindel surveyed the devastation he had wreaked with a complacent grin. Admittedly he was considerably stickier than either Elrond or Celebrían, but they were crouched alongside a bawling elfling and he had a chuckling one.
"Ah-iii!" Wailing, Elladan clambered into his father's lap, quite spoiling the clean council robes that the Lord of Imladris was wearing. Tears streaming down her face, Celebrían sneezed repeatedly, quite incapable of assisting her husband.
Elrond detached Elladan's hair from his forehead, soothed the sniffling elfling and then began the more difficult task of detaching his own hand from the tangled dark strands. The look he gave the Balrog-slayer as he did so was equally dark.
"Bubble baths!" Glorfindel smiled broadly and quite taken by his own brilliance gave Elrohir an extra bounce, causing the elfling to squeal loudly and both to become even stickier. "They will love bubble baths."
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