Chapter 58: Why This Short, Coarse, Average-Looking Mortal?

He moved soundlessly through the brush of the woods. Not that he was attempting to conceal his presence from Elladan; it was just the way elves were. Elrohir found it awfully amusing how loud humans were; even his distant kin the Dunedain. Eru knows he enjoyed poking fun at Aragorn for such things, but such actions were certainly required of his role as a foster big brother. He grinned as he remembered Aragorn growing up. Never before had Elrohir seen or cared for such a rambunctious child; especially one that certainly wore out his father from time to time. Who would have thought that child would grow into the man that Arwen would fall in love with?

Elrohir loved his sister and Aragorn deeply but he could never fathom their love. It was true; he had witnessed their intense connection many times. But he was quite baffled at how one of elven-kind could allow themselves to fall for a mortal. Truth be told, he knew that Arwen had dismissed the youthful Aragorn in the beginning for such reasons. Eventually, she succumbed to her feelings. In many ways, Elrohir was genuinely happy for them both. If Aragorn fulfills his destiny (of which Elrohir did not doubt) they would wed and finally be allowed true happiness with each other. Yet, he grieved at the thought of Arwen leaving their family and to never go to Valinor with them. Instead she would shackle herself to the Edain, grow old, and die. Her spirit would go wherever the spirits of Edain go and she would never reunite with them.

There were moments where he wished he and Elladan had never brought Aragorn and his mother to Imladris after the death of Arathorn. If only…

But that is selfish thinking.

Unlike his actions on behalf of the Fëanturi. His role in separating Elladan and Sofia was for a greater good. Perhaps he did not fully understand why they needed to separate but he did not doubt the Valar.

A little voice betrayed another feeling about his role in these events… For he surely did not want to lose Elladan as he would someday lose Arwen… He feared he would diminish at such an occurrence to lose his twin whom he had shared one fëa in their mother's womb… That persistent little voice said that while he liked to think his actions were only on behalf of a greater cause…Well, perhaps that was a false mindset.

Stepping over a fallen tree, Elrohir spotted his brother leaning, arms crossed, against an elm tree. His expression was stony; eyebrows drawn together in deep thought, lips stretched in a thin line, and even in the relative darkness under the trees he noticed that Elladan's gray eyes were still awash in negative emotion. A mixture of anger and sadness.

It saddened him to see his brother so. If he opened up their connection Elrohir knew he would feel those emotions roll off Elladan in waves. Since they were so closely linked by blood and, in the womb, fëa their connection was unparallel among elves who were not wed. Each of them could feel each other's emotions and could speak between minds if they desired. However, since the arrival of Sofia that connection had been strained between the two. In the beginning Elladan had desired to keep his burgeoning relationship with Sofia a secret and afterwards Elrohir was too upset with his brother's foolishness.

He disliked the impact that Sofia had on their relationship. These past couple months had seemed lengthy in many ways but Elrohir was far too stubborn to reconnect with Elladan when his brother was being such a fool. If he were to do such a thing, the action could be interpreted as passive approval of Sofia. Therefore, he would do no such thing.

But now, looking at his identical counterpart, his heart felt heavy with that loss. Elrohir loved his brother dearly and until now he had not realized how much he had missed him.

"Elladan," he greeted him.

"Elrohir." Elladan's tone was clipped and angry.

Hmm. A second ago he missed his brother. Now he wished to be away from him. But, this conversation would have to occur sooner or later. Sooner would be best.

Elrohir braced himself mentally. "You wished to speak to me?"

"Yes," he growled and straightened his back against the tree. "We have unfinished business."

"I daresay we do. How would you like to proceed?"

His eyebrows furrowed in an almost comical way. "You're sounding awfully level-headed, brother. Usually in our arguments you're more much abrasive."

Elrohir hid a smile but couldn't subdue his other impulse. "Do I? I had no idea this was supposed to be an argument, brother. Even so, I suppose at least one of us should sound level-headed and it appears that comes down to me today."

Elladan's lips pursed. "Hmm. It looks like I spoke too soon for here you now display your infamous charm."

Elrohir gave him a dazzling smile and bowed slightly at the waist. "I humbly thank you for such a kind compliment."

"Your charm will not save you from this conversation." Elladan stepped closer. "Just what on earth where you thinking when you agreed to help Dawn?" His brother practically vibrated with anger.

Holding his hands up in defense, Elrohir let out a sigh. "Elladan, Dawn had explained to me about Erik/Damian and the previous magicks her coven had attempted to free Erik. She confided in me because she needed to speak from someone of this world and someone who would not betray her confidences to Sofia. Dawn was very afraid of failing and getting Sofia's hopes up for nothing." Inwardly, Elrohir grimaced at his lying. He detested lying, especially to one her loved.

"Why did she choose you? If she needed an elf, why not me? Or Haldir? Or Grandmother herself?" Elladan's face was a mask of frustrated emotions.

Elrohir continued speaking in a soft tone. Hopefully, he would be able to get through to Elladan. "Why would she tell you that she was planning on bringing back Sofia's husband? Honestly Elladan, do you really think you would be a good confidant?"

"Yes," he shot back defiantly. Elrohir gave him a stern look. "Okay," he breathed. "Maybe not," he admitted in a softer tone.

"And Haldir is obviously too close to Sofia." He found it interesting that annoyance and then guilt flashed across his brother's eyes at the mention of Haldir's name. "As for Grandmother, who knows? But if I was a budding witch of Dawn's age I would likely be intimidated by someone of Grandmother's talent and skill."

"Okay, fine. So she chose you. Why did you help her? Why didn't you tell me?"

He threw his hands up in frustration. "Why did I help her? Are you serious, Elladan? Are you honestly this blinded by infatuation that you think an evil man should not be destroyed and a good man should lose his life forever?" Elrohir was angry; Elladan was never this selfish.

Biting his lip, Elladan's shoulders slunk. "No, no. Of course not. It was a tragedy that Damian tried stealing Erik's life forever. From what Sofia has said of him, I am sure he is a good person. I just…" he sighed. "But how could you refrain from telling me? Do you not think an act as life-impacting as this deserved no notice? Do you realize how-" Elladan let out a frustrated sigh. "Sofia and I were in the tent together about to…," a smile tugged on the corners of Elladan's lip, "embark on a new and much desired level of intimacy when all of a sudden," here he lost his smile, "her presumed dead husband comes back for her! If you had imparted the knowledge of Dawn's spell to us then we could have avoided an extremely awkward moment."

"You were about to…What?" Elrohir sputtered.

His lips stretched into a sheepish grin. "Yes, we were."

Elrohir scrunched up his face in aggravation. "Brother, are you positively mad?"

"What? We both are guilty of engaging in pleasures of the flesh with females both of elven and Edain descent. Why would you expect anything different in my relationship with Sofia?" Elladan looked puzzled and mildly defensive.

Oh Eru help him. His brother was more of a fool than he had thought. "Yes, if this was just a fling of some sort. But each day you grow closer and closer to this girl. By sharing flesh that connection will only deepen and it will be much harder on you both when this must end."

Elladan shook his head vehemently. "No, it will not."

Elrohir let out a frustrated sigh and silently counted to ten in dwarvish, which was a *very* long language. "Elladan," he began calmly. He knew he could keep his brother listening if only he could control his temper. "Thuringwethil escaped and I am under the assumption that our Slayer acquaintances will stay here until we can take care of that problem. After that, however; they shall return to their home dimension. It is obvious that Sofia is strongly tied to her world through her family and calling and you two will be separated."

"No," he held up a hand to take over the conversation. "I have already figured that out."

"How?" Elrohir asked, exasperated. His brother had many good traits but stubbornness was certainly not one of this at the moment.

Elladan smiled reassuringly. "Well, we will spilt our time between our dimensions-"

"WHAT?!" Did his brother honestly decide to leave Middle-Earth in its greatest time of need to play with his mortal in that United States of Wherever the Slayers were from?

"-and I asked Sofia to be my wife."

A beat passed as Elrohir's mind struggled to come to terms with Elladan's words. Instead of warm blood, it felt as if ice ran through his veins. A dull pain grew in his chest and he found it suddenly difficult to breathe. He closed his eyes and begged the Valar that the next question he proposed to Elladan would receive a 'no' answer. "If she becomes your wife, how do you two plan on resolving her issue of mortality?" 'Please say no, please say no, please say no,' he begged silently.

Elladan was silent and appeared far too interested in staring at something in the distance. The silence that gulfed between the two brothers felt overwhelming and his heart beat erratically in trepidation.

"If Sofia accepts my proposal I shall choose the path of our ancestors Luthien and Elros."

Elrohir crumpled to the floor in shock and emotional agony. No! He was too late! His brother has already chosen the path least traveled! He felt a sob rising in his throat and he angrily pushed it away. He could not tell if it would be more satisfying to yell at Elladan or hit him.

Rising to his feet, he stared Elladan straight in the eye and opened up their connection. Elladan gasped as the full brunt of Elrohir's emotions of pain, sadness, and betrayal filled him to the hilt. As a tear slid down his right cheek, Elrohir felt grim satisfaction that a tear slid down his brother's left cheek. They appeared as mirror images facing each other in their internal torment.

"Are you really so eager to leave us, Elladan? To leave me? And Father? Are you so willing to allow our Mother to endure the pain at discovering that only one of her children will be meeting up with her in Valinor?" Elrohir realized bitterly that his words were similar to the first time he had warned Elladan of the negative impact that his relationship with Sofia would create. "Have you truly thought this through?" Elrohir practically screeched his final words. His calm demeanor be damned!

Instead of shouting back at him, Elladan pulled Elrohir into a tight embrace. Elrohir realized with a pang that there would be a day when he would not be able to hold his brother. He fervently wished that such a day would never come.

Elladan pulled him back and held Elrohir's shoulders. "Elrohir! Please! Please do not say such things."

"You would have me lie to you, Brother?" he said bitterly.

He shook his head. "I am in no way eager to leave you or Father or Mother. Please do not think that. In fact, I cannot imagine my life without you!" Elladan let out a deep breath and spoke softly. "But I cannot also imagine my life without Sofia. She is the one meant for me; I *know* it, Elrohir! I want to be with her in bad times and good, in youth and old age," Elladan spoke with conviction.

Pushing his arms off his shoulders, Elrohir scoffed. "Why? Why in all of Arda do you think this short, coarse, average-looking mortal is for you? How could this be?"

Something flashed in his brother's eyes and Elrohir thought he may have stepped too far with his last comment.

"You know, perhaps if you had spent time with us these last couple months instead of avoiding us like we were dwarves you would be allowed to comment on my feelings for Sofia. But since you have not and you have no idea who she really is nor any understanding about our relationship, you *will* keep your snide comments to yourself," Elladan growled.

Elrohir didn't know how to respond to that strong statement so instead he just nodded in acknowledgement. Elladan pivoted on his heel and began storming away. But he must have changed his mind because he paused and stalked back.

"Listen," he huffed. "I may be angry right now but this is not how I envision the rest of our lives carrying out. I know I may never get your blessing on this matter but I suppose I owe it to you to make you understand."

Elrohir winced internally. No, he did not want to understand this at all! Not only did he disapprove of it as a brother but he needed to stay against this pairing so the Valar would be pleased. 'Of course,' he thought slyly, "perhaps the key to breaking them up is to understand Elladan's true feelings for the girl." He nodded curtly. "Fine then, tell me. Try to get me to understand,"

Elladan sat down cross-legged and gestured for him to do the same. "I am not sure where to begin." He breathed in deeply. "Although for the last few months I have greatly desired to talk to you about this, instead of just listening to you lecture me about my foolishness." His brother looked him straight in the eye. "I know you think I am crazy and foolish. Rest assured that I am sane enough to know that my actions are some I would have trouble understanding if this had occurred to another elf."

"Start at the beginning," Elrohir offered. "Why did you decide to pursue her in the first place?"

He laughed softly. "Well, you were there when we first found her. Here was a young girl covered in the black blood of a fell beast, wearing strange, tight leggings, with her torso barely covered with a scrap of cloth. I found her striking to behold."

Elrohir raised an eyebrow questioningly. "Ah, yes. Who wouldn't have love at first sight with a dirty, blood-soaked girl?"

"Quiet, brother!" Elladan laughed. "I am certainly not saying I wanted to bed her at that moment but she was striking. A Haradriam-looking girl who obviously had slayed a fell beast all on her own? She was quite stunning and I was intrigued. I wanted to know about her, where she was from, and how on earth she came to learn the art of battle."

"So your warrior side was fascinated by her?" He grinned impishly. "That had nothing to do with the fact that we had been traveling for several weeks without any sign of an attractive female?"

"Elrohir! I am *attempting* to be serious here!" He paused. "Well, perhaps that had a minor impact eventually." Elladan smirked roguishly and Elrohir laughed in return.

"After Gandalf returned her to us; correction: *she* returned Gandalf to *us*, I was further captivated by her. I was amused by her forthright attitude and thought it was quite fun to tease her. Oh, you should have seen how she blushed when I flirted with her!" He let out a burst of laughter. "It was rather cute how her face flushed at the thought of me kissing her cheek."

Elrohir noticed how Elladan's eyes had that faraway look of a man in love reminiscing about his darling. This may be dangerous territory but Elrohir was quite curious about why his brother would choose to give up everything for this strange mortal woman. He gestured for his brother to go on but he wished that Elladan would get that goofy grin off his face; he looked ridiculous.

'Don't you think you look ridiculous when you are around Dawn?' a little voice whispered in his head. 'Quiet,' he hissed back. "Go on," he said out loud.

"From those two moments I was fascinated with her but it was at the next dinner that I got a glimpse into a different side of her. She was so adamant about her conscription to battle in her world that I was on one hand curious about her world further but I also saw a darkness in her. The darkness that each warrior who has seen too much death and hurt carries within them. I… I felt for her. She seemed to carry a great burden on her shoulders and something within me wanted to lighten that weight for her."

"Why?" Elrohir asked, confused.

Elladan shrugged. "Honestly? I did not realize it at the time but I think that was the first time my fëa connected to hers and truly saw her. A part of me wanted to lighten her burden in life because I think some part of me already fell in love with her."

Elrohir bit his lip to stifle an unkind remark. He was sorely tempted to say anything to make Elladan realize he and Sofia were not meant to be, but… Well, he had experienced such a thing before, long ago, and a part of him understood what his brother must have felt.

"Then when we talked," he shrugged and smiled. "It was an enjoyable banter and I gave into temptation and surprised her with a kiss. It was delightful. And delicious. She tasted of berries and earth. I could not wait to capture her in a kiss again. But instead," he began laughing, "she captured *me* in the creek!"

"Ah," Elrohir remembered. "When she thought you were an outsider and defeated you in battle?"

Elladan smirked. "Noble elf that I am, I allowed everyone to think that. In reality, we had an evenly matched fight until I threw her into the creek. I had to hold her against me to stop fighting so she would realize it was me and calm down. While that was necessary, it was also certainly pleasurable. In the heat of battle, both physical and verbal, I felt the fire of her passion and I longed to taste that heat." He smiled sheepishly. "Of course, it was a plus that she was only clad in her scanty undergarments."

"You rogue!" Elrohir exclaimed in mock outrage before he realized he should not encourage this. It was difficult to retain his uncaring demeanor when he and Elladan had discussed females so often. A conversation like this involuntarily brought back his typical reactions.

Holding up his hands in surrender, Elladan smiled innocently. "What can I say? I am only male." Regardless of his desire to not support this, Elrohir was compelled to join him in laughter. "And perhaps *you* may think she is average-looking, but I find her beautiful. Perhaps that is partly due to our deeper connection, but I do. I know that some may say no adanith could rival an elleth in beauty, alright perhaps I have even said that before, but I find her extremely lovely to behold."

"Because she is so different looking?"

"Hmm. Perhaps that is a part of it. She certainly does not look like any elleth or adanith I have ever seen before with her dark looks and I do find that difference to be attractive. But quite honestly, I can never tire of gazing into her brown eyes or running my hands through her curly tresses; and her body is certainly pleasant to hold and caress."

Elrohir rolled his eyes and gagged at his brother's level of infatuation. 'Except you were like that once,' that damn persistent internal voice spoke again. Well, perchance he had been but the world had taken that away from him. Idly he wondered if his heartbreak as a youth contributed to his cynical outlook at Elladan's love life. Hmmm. That was certainly a thought he did not desire to ponder at the moment.

"All right, I understand where your infatuation came from," Elrohir spoke to both interrupt his own thoughts and Elladan's simpering recollections. "But what makes you sure she is the one for you? Why?"

"As I said, we connected somehow in those first few meetings. When she was captured by Mavlar I felt an unknown level of darkness descend upon me."

"Yes, I remember. I had an inkling you were attracted to the Slayer and was a bit worried at your dismal demeanor during that time."

"I had just gotten to know this girl and I felt something in me mourn our separation, even though logically I knew we barely knew each other. To think that she was killed or abused both instilled anger and fear in me. Then when we arrived in Lothlórien and I saw her in bed with Haldir-"

"You never told me this!"

Elladan shrugged. "I wanted to in a way, but I feared your negative reaction if you knew how deeply I felt for the girl." He rolled his eyes. "Not that I had to worry about that, of course."

Elrohir gave him a deadpan look and motioned for him to continue.

"I reacted poorly seeing that and of course I found out later it meant nothing. The amount of jealousy Sofia brings out in me is far more than I would like."

"You have always had a problem with jealously." They both knew what Elrohir meant; that as youths Elladan had disliked Elrohir's meleth because of how much time she took the one twin from the other.

"At times I fear it will be my downfall, I know. I know the after-effects of the emotion are always negative. I have been trying, although I admit I am not making much progress. One would think after a few millennia I would be able to subdue such a coarse part of me."

Elrohir cracked a smile. "Perhaps. But then again, Glorfindel has been around forever and he still proves to be one of the most arrogant elves around."

"True, but then again I doubt he has attempted to suppress that part of his personality." The twins laughed together at the valid statement.

"Still though, Sofia manages to evoke strong reactions from me. I dislike the poor paths that jealousy has taken me down but I just-" he shrugged. "Anyways, that moment of seeing her with Haldir had me angrier than I have been in a long time. I didn't even want to talk to her. When she dragged me off into the woods for the dancing lesson that our dear sister forced upon me I confronted her. And found out that we both felt for each other. Needless to say, the night was a very good one. I liked how she matched me in my anger and did not back down because of it. And trust me, we certainly connected well on a physical level. After that night I knew I would be fine if I never kissed another female again."

Elrohir could not hold back any longer. "But she is only a mortal! How could you fall for someone so young and short-lived?"

"It is partly for that very reason I love her!" Elladan's shouted back and he ran his hands in exasperation through his hair. "Elrohir we have spent the last five hundred years dedicated to avenging our mother in our travels with the Dunedain. Have you never envied them?"

"Envy? They are our distant kin and I love them but I do not envy their lives."

"Well, I have upon occasion. And with Sofia life is lived in the 'here and now'. Because life is so short it tastes so sweet. Each day is full of excitement and passion. She is a challenge and I love it. With her, I never know what to expect next."

Pursing his lips, Elrohir replied sagely. "It may taste sweet right now, but soon that taste will give way to the bitterness of old age, decay, and death. How many times have we seen the ones we care for give in to old age or illness?"

Elladan sighed. "I know. But still… I cannot help but appreciate life more when I am with Sofia because she is mortal. Her fëa speaks to me, can you not understand? I love her. I know you do not want me to and rest assured I would give anything to share my immortality with her so we would not have to face such a harsh choice."

"You both appear to have more than one choice in front of you now. Tell me, how does Erik fit into your plans?"

His brother eyed him sharply and grimaced. "While life certainly would have been easier without his presence I suppose somehow we will have to accommodate it."

"Accommodate him? Damn it, Elladan! You do realize that he and Sofia are husband and wife?" 'Aha. Perhaps this is my avenue towards severing Elladan and Sofia's connection,' he thought.

"Well, yes, but-"

"But nothing. That is a sacred bond; you cannot be responsible for severing it."

"But I- We- You don't understand-" Elladan stammered.

"They are Man and Wife. It is not as if they were forced into their marriage. When they both got married they truly loved one another. By Mordor, by all the accounts that I have heard Sofia was severely depressed for a year because of Erik's supposed demise. Do you think you have a right to interfere?"

Elladan looked down at his hands and was silent. Elrohir waited with bated breath to hear some sign that he was getting through to his dense twin.

"I know you are partial to the question I am going to ask you, but I must ask it regardless because you have made me worried. Do you honestly believe that even though I love Sofia and I want to be with her until the end of the world that I should step aside all because Erik is back?" Elladan asked plaintively.

"Think of everything that poor man has gone through only to come back and find his wife with another male. Think of how much Sofia did love him. Think of all the hurdles life has put in the way of your future together: mortal and immortal, from two different worlds, both of you sacrificing your family and calling to be together. You may love her enough to marry her, but do you love her enough to let her go?"

Elrohir listened to Elladan's sharp intake of breath with grim satisfaction.

"I… I… Brother, it is as if you pulled my darkest fears out with that speech. I…" Elladan shook his head and continued in a melancholy tone. "I have much to think on. I thank you for your counsel." Elrohir reached out a hand tentatively to rub his brother's arm, but Elladan leaped up. "I'm sorry, but I need to be alone now."

Eying his worried face with a frown, Elrohir nodded. "Of course." Then he began walking back to camp, leaving his desolate brother alone.

What he had said was correct. And it was right for him to say it. He would not lose his brother as he would someday lose his sister! Their relationship would only cause grief to both of them eventually. Besides, the Fëanturi had commanded him and Dawn to lead those two apart for some greater good that he was not privileged enough to know.

Regardless, Elrohir rubbed his stomach gingerly to rid himself of the sharp pains of guilt.


A/N:

To all my peoples who love Sweet Baby Jesus~ Merry Christmas! :D To everyone else, enjoy having work off ;)

*Keep giving me your suggestions for 2 Buffyverse people to send into ME! Thanks to MistofRainbows and Swordstress for offering the ideas of Buffy & Xander or Xander & Giles or Giles & Faith or Faith & Xander. Haha… I am already thinking of possible funnies with those guys.

*I hope you enjoyed this chapter to see some Elladan/Elrohir interaction time. I'm curious as to what you think will happen after Elrohir's little lecture :) I'm kind of in the process of organizing how the story will tie up so please bear with me if the next update takes a while. Haha… I realized while writing this that I am too much of a softie and that's why I'm having a hard time abusing my characters anymore re: Sofia/Elladan/Erik. So I'll need some time to write their story as properly as they deserve.

*Starting with probably the next chapter we'll go back to Sofia's POV but I wanted to explore everyone else for a bit.

*So, when trying to think about how elves would discuss sex in their fancy elf-boy talk my mind kept going back to 'pleasures of the flesh' and I owe that all to CuriouslyWomabt and her 'Return of the Key' series (simply superb, please check it out). So Wombat, thank you for improving my vocabulary lol :D

Vocablario:

Eru- The One God of Arda (Middle-Earth)

Edain- race of men

Fëa - soul

Meleth- love