Summary: Bad, bad Elladan!
Characters: Aragorn, Elrond, Elrohir, Elladan, Glorfindel, Erestor
Rating: PG (for mild gore)
Warning: No Legolas
Aragorn (Estel) is a little over 3 yrs. old.
Written for the Tietho "Family" contest.
Chapter 1 of 2
There was a dire threat hanging over Imladris. However, it was not caused by bands of marauding Orcs, or sinister dark wizards, or traitors from within.
It was Elladan; he was on stand-by.
This dreadful situation came about thusly: when Glorfindel was out leading wide-ranging patrols, he usually left an old, seasoned warrior, by name of Taurnil, in charge of the defense of the hidden valley. However, this wise and wily officer had tripped on his own cloak and now languished under the care of the healers. Thus Elladan, instead of being out with Elrohir working on their finely-tuned Orc Eradication Program (step 1 – find them; step 2 – kill them) was forced to remain at home as the next-in-command-in-case-of-emergency. This meant no fishing, hunting, riding, or even walking very far from the Last Homely House. He needed to be handy-by in case a messenger, having ridden his horse to death, came gasping out a cry for help as he collapsed in a heap on the front steps. Or, more likely, in case someone exceeded the strict limits placed on riding fast close to habitations in the valley.
Early in the morning of the sixth day of his imprisonment, Elladan paced the halls, frustrated with the constraints imposed on his energetic nature. Simply put, he was bored. Sadly for the smallest member of the House of Elrond, Estel was about to relieve Elladan's boredom.
As the joint-heir of the Lordship tried to think of a way to pass the time, a small body pelted from the room just ahead of him.
"Ada! Ada! Ada!" he cried at the top of his lungs. The newest addition to the family ran wildly, his eyes stretched wide in fright. He was headed in Elladan's direction but did not seem to see him. Elladan stretched out an arm and intercepted the human arrow. The toddler struggled fiercely.
"Let me go! Let me GO! I have to show Ada!" The boy was still dressed in his sleep shirt and tears streaked the ruddy cheeks.
Elladan kneeled and tried to get the child to look at him. "Estel! Estel, what is it? Stop crying and tell me—I will take care of whatever is wrong." He gathered Estel into his arms and stroked his hair and rubbed his back. "Shhhhh, hush little one. Gently now, gently." The sobs subsided into sniffles.
"Elladan, I am so scared! I found it this morning. I have to see Ada."
"What did you find? A monster under your bed?"
The boy jumped out of Elladan's arms and stepped back. He grasped the hem of his sleep shirt and hoisted it dramatically in the air, nearly over his head. He stood comically, with his little round belly bare over his night leggings.
Elladan pulled the shirt down just enough to see Estel's face. "This what, little man? I do not see anything."
Elladan quickly ran the phrase through his mind, trying to decipher child-speak.
"You mean your belly button?"
"Yes! It used to be there! Now it is gone! Where did it go!"
Elladan peered closely at the little tummy. Estel was right! Although, to be sure, it had not totally disappeared. Before this morning, Estel had had an 'outy'; now he had an 'inny'. While not common, it was hardly unheard of. Relief washed over Elladan. He had been quite worried that there was something seriously wrong with the child.
Unfortunately, with the relief came The Idea. At first Elladan fought it. How could he tease this little human so? But what an idea! After all, it would do no real harm and he would tell Estel the truth tomorrow. Quickly, before he could think it over and change his mind, he clapped one large hand over the now indented belly button. Estel yelped in surprise and tried to step back.
"No Estel! Do not move! I must keep my hand here until we can get you some bandages!"
The eyes widened again. "Why? I do not want a bandage!"
Elladan, still kneeling before the child, said with great seriousness, "Estel, you must listen to me. Your belly button has fallen out. If we do not cover it well, your entrails will fall out, too!"
"Your –er – guts, your insides!"
Estel's eyes grew even wider. Unbeknownst to Elladan, he had had the horrifying experience of seeing a dead rabbit, with entrails exposed, some weeks ago. He whispered, "Will I die?"
Guilt lanced through Elladan. Not enough to stop his horrid prank, but some. He at least assured his tiny brother that he would not die.
"No, no! It is true you could die, but I am here and nothing bad will happen. See? I am holding in your insides with my hand, and I will not let go until we find a bandage for you. If you let me carry you, I will keep my hand tightly on your tummy. Will you come with me?"
Now, Estel adored his brothers. He trusted them implicitly even though they often teased him. So he stopped sniffling and nodded his little head. Elladan carried him down the hall to a linen closet and told Estel to take a sheet since he could not remove his hand from the 'hole' in Estel's stomach. They dropped the sheet on Elladan's bed, and then made several trips up and down the halls collecting a knife, ointments, and other medical supplies. They had to make several trips because Estel could only hold one thing at a time and Elladan had to use one arm for supporting Estel and the other holding in the boy's insides. Finally there was a small pile of objects on the elf's bed and he sat down, with Estel still in his arms.
"Now we must trade places very quickly, Estel. I will take my hand away and you cover your belly button with both hands while I make your bandages. Soon we will have you safe and sound and able to run and play, just like always."
They made the exchange with Estel holding his hands against his tummy very tightly. He watched carefully as Elladan cut long, wide bandages from the sheet. Then Elladan spread an all-purpose ointment on a thin pad. The ointment would do the boy no harm and Estel was young enough to think that there had to be 'medicine' for any treatment to be helpful.
"I will put the bandages on you now, Estel. Do not move your hands yet. Wait until I tell you to."
Elladan placed one wide bandage all the way around Estel, just a few inches above the belly button. He then slipped the top of the pad under this band and said, "Quick, take your hands away!" He placed the pad firmly over the little dimple in Estel's tummy and began to wrap several bandages over the top of it. When he was done, Estel was swathed from armpit to groin in many smooth layers of white. The boy ran his hands over them, quite impressed with his brother's handiwork.
"Thank you, Elladan. How long will I have to wear these?"
"Only a few days. You have been very brave, Estel. I am proud to have such a brave little brother," said Elladan, throwing a sop to his conscience. Then he cautioned the child, "You must be very careful that the bandages stay in place. You came to me just in time this morning. The next two days the chance of your insides coming out will get even worse. So be very, very, careful! Do not let anyone take the bandages off and come and see me at once if they start to slip. Do you understand?"
Yes, Elladan. Can I have any food? I am very hungry!"
"Surely you may. You may eat anything you like. Just be careful the bandages do not slip."
"I will be very careful, I promise."
"Good boy! You go along and have breakfast…er…just one more thing. I would not tell anyone else about this—they will worry and probably make you stay in bed. When your belly button heals I will take off the bandages and no one will be the wiser."
"Ada worries all the time. He worries about me, 'specially; I do not want to worry him even more. And I do not want to stay in bed! This will be our secret." So saying, Estel ran out of the room and headed for the kitchen.
Elladan lay back on the bed and laughed aloud as he imagined Elrond's astonishment when he went to bathe the child and put him to bed. Guilt smote him again but he brushed it away. At worst, Estel would be set straight about belly buttons by bedtime tonight. Elladan, in spite of hundreds of years of experience with Elrond's opinion on such things, blithely assumed his father would think the prank amusing once he got over his initial annoyance. This was Elladan's first miscalculation.
The second occurred because Elladan was certain nothing would happen while he was the commander of Imladris' defenses. However, in spite of the odds against it, Elladan was summoned to take out a party of warriors that very afternoon. In all the flurry of organizing and planning, Elladan totally forgot Estel's tummy. Off he rode, his troop trailing behind him, leaving no one at home who knew about the 'hole' in a little human stomach.
The chaos that overtook the Last Homely House that night began innocuously enough. In the library, a weary Elrond was becoming exasperated with Erestor. The councilor was searching for a rare volume that he was certain some underling had misplaced. He worked his way through the tall bookshelves, climbing up and down the ladders placed there. Up and down; complain, mutter; up and down; complain, mutter. Elrond very gently laid down his quill and loosened his clenched teeth.
"Erestor, the book will turn up eventually. I am still not finished with this document, which must be dispatched tomorrow at first light. May I impose upon you and ask you to start getting Estel ready for bed? I will be along shortly."
Erestor sniffed but was secretly pleased. Everyone always assumed the councilor would not like children and tried to keep him and Estel from interacting as much as possible. Not only that, but with Elrond, Elrohir, Elladan, and Glorfindel (in that order) all wanting to put the child to bed, Erestor was rarely able to spend private time with him. His public interactions with the little human were gruff and distant, but when they were alone, a new Erestor emerged. He was a wonderful storyteller, as well as knowing all the tickle places. He could be counted on to help sneak treats from the kitchen, and his hugs were warm, loving, and neither too tight nor too loose. Therefore, Estel occasionally astonished everyone by saying he loved "his 'Rester."
Erestor set off down the hall, trying to decide which of Glorfindel's less-than-heroic exploits Estel would like to hear about as a bedtime story. He found Estel drawing on the floor of his room (not sitting on the floor and drawing; drawing on the floor.) Estel jumped up and ran to hug his friend about the legs, demanding to know if Erestor had come to ready him for bed and if there was a story in the offing.
"Yes, manling, I have come to put you to bed. Bath first, stories after. Then your Ada will come to tuck you in." Erestor began to draw the little tunic over the boy's head but stopped when he saw the bandages.
"What on Arda happened, Estel? Are you well? Where did you get these bandages?"
Estel, remembering Elladan's warning, said nothing. Erestor inspected him carefully for blood or any other signs of injury, and finding none began to remove the white bands to see what they covered.
A blood-curdling shriek from Estel rang through the entire house. While Erestor pleaded with the child, trying to discover what caused him such terrible distress, Elrond threw aside his quill and knocked over his chair as he started for his son's bedroom.
Meanwhile, a tired and filthy Glorfindel began to walk up the front steps, slapping his dusty gloves against his leg. He wanted a bath, dinner, and bed, preferably all at the same time. Just at that moment, Estel's screams rang through the halls. Every nerve in the golden legend's body jangled to full alert. Pulling a sword from the scabbard strapped to his leg and his dagger from his boot, he ran toward the commotion.
Elrond skidded into Estel's room to see Erestor (as he thought) hurting the child. Erestor's hands were fastened to the boy's middle by the tangling bandages which were now half off and half on.
"NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!" screamed Estel, his little hands pounding on Erestor's arms as he tried to get to the hole in his stomach so he could cover it. Elrond saw his tiny child fighting fiercely against the large assailant. A strange buzzing was in his ears and everything in his view turned red. He sprang across the room and floored Erestor with one tremendous blow. Estel, terrified by his father's unaccountable behavior as well as the fear his insides would fall out, scrambled on to the bed and stood there howling like a banshee. His hands clutched his stomach and his bandages drooped around him.
Glorfindel ran into the room with a weapon in each hand. He took in the incredible scene. The mighty warrior felt somewhat at a loss as the only beings available for impaling were his lord, his best friend, and a tiny mortal he had sworn to protect.
Elrond, on his knees, was straddling Erestor, a fistful of robe in each hand, demanding to know what the councilor had done to his son. Feeling that the astounded elf was being recalcitrant, he punctuated his questions with firm thumps of Erestor's head on the floor. Estel, showing remarkable lung development for a child his age and size, screamed on and on without seeming to need to draw breath.
Glorfindel remained stunned. He watched with incredulity as the Ruler of Imladris beat the Chief Councilor's head against the floor. Estel looked like someone who had escaped during the early stages of mummification. His hands indicated that some dreadful injury had occurred and his screams would give Sauron nightmares. Unnoticed by the flabbergasted warrior, his hands fell to his sides and his sword clanged to the floor. Unfortunately, he had not also loosened his grip on his razor-sharp dagger. His attention was refocused when the blade sank smoothly into his thigh.
End Chapter 1