Returning Hope

Chapter Six

Path of the Peredhil

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is not safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

A/N "Twiglet" is the name created by Evendim for young Legolas. Erestor's honey pot is also courtesy of Evendim, a writer extraordinaire. My thanks to her for permission to play in her world from time to time.

O-o-O-o-O

Legolas was in the stables brushing Estel's new pony when Celeg came in the door. A new stall had been built closest to the door, beside Celos. Fluffy was currently perched on Celos' back, patiently licking his front paws. The pony, which had yet to be named, was a warm tan color with a dark mane. Aradol had earlier informed the prince that Celos was quite protective of the little one, a fact which greatly amused the stable master.

"Hîr nín," called the warrior. "I heard the horns. Belia said that they were calling the warriors. Are we under attack?"

"Belia?" questioned Legolas. The prince remembered the young elleth who had been widowed on his last visit. "She is Beling's sister, is she not?"

"Yes," confirmed the elite. "The brother and sister are most agreeable company."

Legolas smiled. "I am glad that you are finding a pleasant way to pass your time here."

Celeg cocked his head to one side. "You, my prince, are avoiding my question."

"Yes, I am," Legolas admitted. "I cannot tell you much, but I do know that Lord Glorfindel rode out with several warriors. More, I know not."

"I shall assemble our warriors," decided Celeg. "I will not have you unprotected should danger find its way to this place." The warrior shuddered. "I admit that I feel…exposed here. I find myself longing for the solid feel of rock at my back."

"That is not necessary," argued Legolas. "We are quite safe here."

"Humor me," smiled Celeg, before sobering. "I would not be the one to break my king's heart with the word that his beloved Twiglet was lost."

Legolas rolled his eyes. "I thought that name had been long forgotten," he complained good-naturedly.

As he turned, Celeg caught sight of the feline sitting on the stallion's back. "That," he said, indicating Fluffy, "is not normal!"

Legolas could not help but chuckle merrily, "Welcome to Imladris.'

O-o-O-o-O

Elrohir tended to the wounded while Glorfindel helped to build the four needed litters. The younger twin was a fine healer in his own right, and his skills were needed to stabilize Illuin, who was the most seriously wounded. The commander of outer defenses had been bitten on the back of his shoulder. Besides the other cuts and wounds, he appeared to have struck his head when the warg drove him to the ground. He kept slipping in and out of consciousness while Elrohir wrapped his wounds. He had already reset the warrior's shoulder, which had been dislocated by the huge teeth of the warg.

"Beling," called Glorfindel, as he maneuvering Asfaloth and a litter towards Illuin an Elrohir, "you will assume Illuin's duties until further notice."

Beling's eyes widened, and he automatically crossed his fist to cover his heart in salute, "You give me a great honor, Hîr nín. I will leave immediately to check that all sentry points are covered."

The Golden Warrior nodded. "Report to me as soon as you have finished."

"Yes, Hîr nín!"

Glorfindel knelt beside Illuin. "How is he?"

Elrohir stood, wiping the blood from his hands. "I cannot tell the full extent of his injuries here. We need to get them all back to the healing wing. Sariboril will have everything in readiness."

"The litters are ready. Let us get them loaded." Glorfindel helped Elrohir gently lift Illuin on the litter pulled by Asfaloth.

O-o-O-o-O

Elrond patiently watched his son's pacing, waiting for the twin to conquer his inner turmoil. Rather than press the issue prematurely, he walked over to stoke the fire in the fireplace. Two chairs were pulled close and the elf lord settled into one. He stretched out his hands towards the warmth, for they felt unusually cold. Perhaps, he mused, they simply mirrored his heart as he searched his mind for wisdom to share with his eldest while his second born was even yet facing danger. Elrond sighed. Ever did darkness encroach upon Arda, and – it seemed at times – his family in particular. Every father seeks to protect his family, and yet it seemed the path of the Peredhil would forever lead into danger.

Elladan stopped his pacing when he heard his father's wistful sigh, and walked over to sit in the chair beside him.

After several moments of staring into the fire, Elrond turned to look at his son. "Let us go to the kitchen, Ion nín. I find that I am in need of some tea."

Elladan was confused at his father's preoccupation, but nodded his agreement. "All right, Adar, tea would be nice." He followed his father to the family kitchen. It was a large room with two storage rooms opening from each side, though considerably smaller than the main kitchen, which served much of Imladris. In the dry goods storage area, bunches of lavender dried in the rafters, filling the room with sweet aroma.

Elrond put the kettle over on the wood stove and walked into the storage room, returning with the tea canister and Erestor's honey pot. The elf lord did not usually sweeten his tea, but felt the need today. While the tea kettle warmed, Elladan watched in astonishment as his father began to deftly peel and chop potatoes and onions, which he placed in a large pot.

Elrond smiled when he noticed his son's amazement. "When I was Gil Galad's herald, I would often cook potato soup for him after a day of battle. Glorfindel calls it my comfort food. I suspect that your brother might enjoy some when he returns."

"I did not know," stammered Elladan. Not only had he had never seen his father cook, but it was brought home to him anew that Elrohir was facing danger while he sat here useless. The water in the tea kettle was hot, so the twin busied himself making the tea so that his Adar would continue his cooking. Elladan scooped honey in the hot beverage, enjoying the scent. Then he added some of the dried orange peels that he had bought from traders in the human villages. Elrond particularly like the flavor the sweet peels added to tea.

Elladan set the tea pot on a small table in the corner where Glorfindel and Erestor often shared their tea and long conversations. The corner was cozy, with thick cushions on the chairs and a green plant potted in terra cotta on the center of the table. The twin felt of the leaves appreciating how Erestor loved growing things.

Elrond watched his son gingerly tracing the outline of the plant. The potatoes and onions were now bubbling gently, so the elf lord sprinkled in salt and spices. "Erestor used to tend the plants with your mother."

Elladan smiled fondly. "I remember. El and I would play in the garden while mother and Erestor dug in the dirt and teased each other."

With the soup simmering nicely, Elrond dried his hands on a cloth towel and then walked over to join his son at the table. He smiled and nodded his head at Elladan when he tasted the orange in his tea.

Elladan sat his cup down. "Adar, why will this wound not heal?"

"Ion nín…" He paused, searching for the right words. "The damage was more complex than just an arrow wound. Until now I have not shared with you what was involved because I wanted you to simply concentrate on healing."

"More complex?" Elladan repeated, trying to understand. "What else was is it?"

Elrond sighed. "There was an evil spell on the arrow. It very nearly killed you. Fortunately Mithrandir recognized it for what it was and we were able to save your life. You were too ill at the time to know what was happening, and I have not spoken of it since."

"Will it ever heal?" the twin asked uncertainly.

"I cannot answer that question. I have hope that, given enough time, your shoulder and arm will regain their full use."

"Hope?" Elladan asked bleakly. "That is not much to hold on to, Adar, when my spirit is clouded with doubt."

Elrond reached out to take his son's hands between his own. "Ion nín, hope transcends doubt as a candle illuminates the darkness."

His words hung in the air like the scent of lavender, soothing the twin's heart.

TBC