Summary: Thoughts of the twins when treason is threatening to tear them apart.
Disclaimer: The twins are not mine, their thoughts however…
A/N: This fic is build out of thoughts, it starts with Elladan's, then Elrohir's, then back to Elladan and so on. Only the things between "these" are spoken.
Written for the Teitho! challenge: White Lie
When we made this arrangement it was only a formality, nothing more. It was only in name that we decided that I would be placed above you in rank and status, only because an army cannot have two leaders and only because I am the firstborn.
We never thought of the power it gave me over you, we never even considered it. It was decided without speaking that I would never use it.
I doubt if you ever thought about it. I know I never did before this point.
But I am commanding this army my brother, and you, though you are my twin, are only the second in line.
And if you shall not listen to me any other way, I will force you to.
Forgive me my betrayal.
I watch how the blood soaks the fresh bandage and turns the white cloth into the deepest, darkest red. I watch the large pile of my shirts that have the same stain on them, and the small pile of shirts that haven't. Yet.
I have never bled so much before.
But I am fine.
My hands will wield my blades as they ever did, my feet will remember the dance of battle.
I will not be left behind when this army moves.
The one thing that is worse than dying on a battlefield, is being the one left behind to count the ones that did.
I will not be left behind.
Forgive me my stubbornness.
He wears his armour now and even through the metal plates it is visible he is losing blood. His face is pale, so pale it hardly looks like my mirror image any more, and still he insists he is fine without flinching. Still he lies without blinking.
Brother, you can hardly stand, how can you expect me to let you fight?
Why can't you just admit you are wounded, why can't you just stay behind?
No one will think you a coward, Elrohir.
We all know how you have fought.
It was not weakness that caused you to fail, Ro. The odds were impossible. You have done all you could and more.
Please allow yourself to heal.
I feel Elladan's eyes move over my armour and I know he can see through it, I know he can feel the wounds on my body.
I know it bothers him that I lie about their existence. I know he hates it when I tell him they are just scratches.
But what am I to do?
Brother, how can I join the fight when I confess that I can hardly stand?
If I admit I am wounded I will have to stay behind.
My fight is not over yet.
They came in large numbers, the odds were impossible, and yet I fought. I did all I could, but I still failed.
They still took him from me.
But this fight will not be over until I have brought him back.
Please allow me a second chance.
Your face is a shadow of what it should be, and I fail to see the light in your eyes. You look so tired, brother.
You look so small.
And I remember… I remember when I saw this Elrohir before. You sat there on the exact same chair you are sitting on now; shivering as you do now, from wounds you did not feel. Even your eyes rest at the point they rested at so many years ago, but she is no longer there.
She has sailed.
We failed to save her.
But this mission has not failed yet, my twin, and things are different now. We have an army. We have Estel. We will save Ada and bring him back and we will do all of that without you dying in the process.
This time we will not fail.
The worry in your eyes is the same as that day so many years ago when we brought her back. You look tired, brother.
Can you see her too?
Do you remember… do you see her body as I see her now, broken but not dead, alive but gone forever? I still see her, her blond hair red with blood, I still see her when I look at the place where she lay so many years ago, even though she is not there.
We failed to save her.
Those who stole her from us stole again, history is repeating itself. I failed to stop them when they came for him, but all is not lost yet.
We will ride out again, the two of us together as we did back then, and those orcs will curse the day they crossed our path.
We will save Ada and bring him back.
We will not fail this time.
As you sit there in your chair, brother, straight so your blood stains the furniture as little as possible, do you know I have already betrayed you? As we talk over the main strategy of tomorrow's fight, and your position as my second in command, do you read my face? You know me well enough to notice I am not comfortable. You know me well enough to see the signs.
But do you know me well enough to suspect Estel was here today? Do you suspect he was here just this afternoon, sitting in the exact same chair as you do now, discussing the exact same thing?
The main strategy and his place as my second in command.
Ro, whatever happens, you will not join tomorrow's fight.
This meeting is a lie as great as the one you made when you told me your wounds meant nothing.You will not leave the healing ward until I get back; that is an order.
Now all I need is the courage to give it to you.
This meeting is somehow different from the others we have had under similar circumstances. You speak as if you have practiced this conversation in front of a mirror.
Nothing I say seems to be important to you, you answer only out of routine, as if we have been over this before, as if all I want to say is already discussed.
I have never seen you so absentminded before.
Dan, what is the matter?
And don't tell me 'nothing' for I will know it is not true.
I want to erase those lines of worry from your face, my brother; they do not look well on you.
Please, please tell me what is bothering you.
Please just tell me what to do.
Maybe the healers will accidentally lock you in your room tonight and it will not be my fault.
Maybe if I let the army sneak away early tomorrow, you will not notice we are gone.
Maybe Ada will free himself and return before the army sets out to save him.
Maybe we could move fast, faster than your body will allow you, and you will understand that it would be smart to stay behind, and I would not be to blame.
As if that would ever happen.
Valar please, if you are able, end this lie I do not wish to tell.
Valar please, do something, anything to keep me from having to command my stubborn twin.
Valar forgive me.
I am betraying my brother.
I have stopped talking some time ago, but my brother has yet to notice.
It is a little funny to see him nod and make approving sounds to suggestions that do not exist, to hear him agree with words I did not speak.
Or at least, it would be funny, if it wasn't so horribly unnerving.
What is going on inside that head of yours, Dan?
What are those words that move your lips without a sound?
Was that 'stubborn' you were saying?
Is this about me somehow?
And that? Were you saying 'Valar' there?
Are you praying, my brother?
I feel his eyes on me, and suddenly I notice the overwhelming silence. Elrohir must have realized his words did not reach me. My brother is anything but stupid.
Or maybe it was the Valar, maybe they heeded my prayer and stopped the lie…
I watch my brother's worried eyes. Why is he worried? He is the one who is wounded; I should be the one that is worried…
Just tell him.
Let it be over with.
"Elrohir..." my voice sounds strange.
My brother looks up, searching my eyes. But I cannot look at him, not now.
I will betray him.
I will hurt him so much.
"Elrohir, you will not join the army. You will stay in the healing ward, where you are to heal. That is an order."
I hear my voice tremble in the end; an order has never been spoken with more despair and less determination.
But it has been spoken at last.
The lie has ended.
No matter how much Elrohir chooses to hate me, at least he will be safe when doing so.
Please, don't let Elrohir hate me.
Ro, even if you don't understand, even if you are angry, even if you choose to kill me now, please, please don't hate me.
How could he not hate me?
I have betrayed him.
I am a traitor.
Ro, forgive me, I am only trying to save your life.
Ro I am so sorry. I know what this battle means to you, I know he is your father too.
Ro, you did not fail him, you were hurt, the numbers where impossible, there was nothing more you could have done.
Elrohir, you did all you could. You need to rest now, Ada would have said the same.
Ro, I can't lose you.
Don't make me lose you.
Talk to me.
There is only silence in my mind.
Has my mind ever been this silent before? This empty of ideas, of things to do, of words to speak?
When we made this arrangement it was only a formality, nothing more. It was only in name that we decided that you should be placed above me in rank and status, because you were the first born, and an army cannot have two leaders.
We never thought of the power it gave you over me, I never even considered it. It was decided without speaking that you would never use it.
Valar, I am your twin, Elladan! How dare you try and command me!
I try to look you in the eyes, hoping against hope that this is only a joke, but you look away.
I trusted you.
It never mattered to me that you were considered the eldest, I never cared that you were to be the heir. If you wanted command over the entire world, I would gladly step down and let you have it, for you are my brother and I could not imagine a better ruler.
But you cannot rule me!
Elladan, don't you see, my freedom to do as I please is the only thing that stops me from being just a cheap, worthless imitation of you.
Ro; the lesser Dan.
I can feel your eyes on me when I look away, but if I seek yours they are always directed at the ground.
I know you want me to speak.
But how can I?
How can I speak when the wounds in my soul are worse than the wounds on my body?
How can I speak when anger rages through ever inch of me?
How can I speak now and make sure I do not speak words I will regret forever?
I hate you.
You took away my fight, you took away my revenge, you took away my chance to save Ada, and thus you turned me into a failure.
You knew what this battle meant to me.
And still you took it away from me.
You are a traitor.
But you are my brother still.
No, brother, I will not speak to you when my heart is so painfully broken. I think… it is best… if I just walk away.
Ro wait! You can't leave me! Shout at me, cry, tear me apart if you have to, but don't leave without a word!
I watch the stiffness of my brother's movements, the hard lines of his shoulders, the slight limp caused by his wounds.
I watch how he slams the door in my face when I try to follow him.
I see the hard lines of his jaw, as if he if biting his cheeks in order not to scream.
I see the hatred in his eyes.
And then he is gone and all I see is the thick wooden door.
And though I am not wounded, my legs cannot support me anymore. The grief of my heart is too heavy to carry; the load on my shoulders is big enough to break me.
I never asked to be in command. I never wanted to be the elder, I never cared for being the heir. If Elrohir had wanted to be any of those things I would have gladly stepped aside and let him have it.
I did not want to rule Elrohir. I will never think my brother as less than myself.
All I wanted was to save his life.
I smash the door closed behind me, but I cannot run away as I have planned. Even though my saddlebags are packed, my sword is sharp.
I could leave tonight, and arrive one day before the army, or hide and join them later.
There is still time to find a helmet and join the ranks without showing my face.
Elladan can't stop me.
But somehow my legs do not support me anymore and I fall to the floor.
When you are down on the ground you have lost your battle.
I remember Glorfindel telling me that when I lifted my wooden sword for my very first lesson, when all I had to do was to prevent myself from falling.
Never fall down.
I am down on the floor.
The blood from my wounds will ruin the carpet, but I cannot get up. My body has failed me. This battle is over.
I have failed.
And all I wanted was to save Ada.
I have won the battle and yet I am on the floor as if one defeated.
Fighting might seem difficult to you now, but in the end it is very simple. The one lying on the ground afterwards is the one who has lost.
I smile as I remember Glorfindel trying to teach the two little rascals we were back then to keep our balance. I remember that Elrohir was somehow always slightly better at it, and how much it frustrated me.
How I wish now that he had been even better. I wish now he had learned to fight so well that not even an army of a thousand orcs could hurt him, and none of this would have happened.
I was crazy to be so jealous.
The stain I am making on the carpet is slowly getting bigger, and I fear Ada will have to replace it if he gets back.
I had no idea there was so much blood left in my body to ruin the floor with. Haven't I lost too much of it already?
I wish I could get up. The armour I am wearing is too heavy on my chest. I can't breathe.
Valar I can't breathe.
What is this?
I can see the liquid flowing under the door, the stain on the carpet gets bigger and bigger. I thought it was wine before, I thought someone had dropped a glass red wine…
Deep red wine…almost too thick to drink..
It can not be…
It is not…
I don't think I have ever moved this fast.
It takes me less than a second to get up and move to the other side of the door.
A blink of the eye.
But who cares?
Ro is hurt.
He is not breathing.
Valar he is not breathing.
If I had had breath to laugh I would have.
He would have scared me to death the way he suddenly opened that door, if I had not been dying anyway.
That was not running Dan did. That was flying.
Oh Valar if I think my brother flew I must be in a pretty bad shape.
I was crazy to think I could fight.
My cursed hands race over the cursed clasps of my brother's cursed armour, but they shake too much. Ro has to get out of this stupid armour now and all my stupid hands can do is shake!
If I don't get him out of this armour… if I don't…
That will not happen. I must concentrate. I will get my brother out of this armour. My hands will stop shaking. Now.
Oh Ro, why did you have to be so stubborn and put this cursed thing on in the first place? I knew you were bleeding; you borrowed every dark shirt I owned and you changed way too much.
And even if I had not known it, don't you think wearing stupid, cursed armour is suspicious? Are you insane somehow? Why would you wear it a day before battle, on our own grounds if not to hide your wounds?
And why did you have to fasten every cursed clasp!
Valar if he dies…
Please don't let him die
Make him breathe again
There is room to breathe now Ro, you have room to breathe now.
I gave you space to breathe Ro! You can breathe!
Breathe, Ro! BREATHE!
Sweet Perfect Air.
You never really notice how wonderful it is until it suddenly disappears.
I have to catch my breath.
I have to say something. I have to…
I want to say more. I want to be angry with you and tell you to never do that again. I want to rip you to pieces for scaring me that way. I want to hug you so close, but that will rob you of the air you need so much, so I won't. I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to dance around the house.
I wish you could come with me when I leave tonight.
"Dan I… I can't fight."
I know you can't, my brother.
I tried to tell you.
It doesn't matter. Don't you remember?
You don't have to.
I am your second, Ro.
If you can't fight anymore I will take over.
"Don't cry, little brother. We have not yet lost.."
We have not yet lost.
We have not yet lost.
It feels like that has been all I have been thinking since Dan left.
We have not yet lost.
As if repetition of that sentence will make it true somehow.
We have not yet lost.
My wounds have healed while I stayed home and stared out of the window, waiting for his return.
Well not healed, but healed enough.
We have not yet lost.
I am as much his second as he is mine. If he does not come back soon, I shall have to take over the fight again.
We have not yet lost.
Dan, where are you?
Just this hill and I will be able to see it. Just this mountain and we will be safe.
I look at Ada and Estel next to me. Both bloody, but both are grinning.
We saved Ada.
Ro, we won your battle.
I am pushing them hard, I know. I should allow them to rest, as I should allow myself to rest.
I am not free of wounds though I will never tell them.
I guess I will just drop down in front of Elrohir for a change. See how he likes it.
No… We can ride faster…
We will reach home tonight.