Returning Hope

Chapter Eight

Doubts

Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Estel was beside himself with excitement as he pulled on his tan leather training clothes. The long awaited day had arrived when he would finally begin his training with Glorfindel, so with his breakfast finished, his toys lay forgotten in scattered mess about his room. Estel carefully strapped on his sheath, gave Fluffy an obligatory scratch behind the ears, and started down the stairs to meet Glorfindel.

The Golden Elf was presently holding off the younger twin son of Elrond, who wanted to be there to watch his little brother's first training session.

"No," declared Glorfindel. "I did not allow Elrond to watch your training, and I will not allow an audience for Estel. He would be too distracted, thinking about doing well for you rather than concentrating on what I teach him."

"But Glorfindel," begged Elrohir, "this is such a big day for him. I cannot bear to miss it."

"You have shared many of the firsts in Estel's life, young one. This one you will have to miss." Glorfindel's eyes narrowed. "Where is Elladan?"

Elrohir's eyes clouded. "He is where he always is these days...either in his room or in the library."

Glorfindel could tell by the slump of the twin's shoulders that he was much troubled by the state of mind that shadowed Elladan's feä. The warrior clasped the twin's shoulder. "Your brother needs time to adjust to his injury."

"Are you saying that he will never fully heal?" questioned a horrified Elrohir.

"No, I am not saying that," responded Glorfindel calmly. "I am no healer. What I am saying is that neither you nor your brother is especially good at patience, so as the effects of this wound linger, you are both making it harder on yourselves."

"El is so sad," murmured Elrohir. "It breaks my heart that I cannot lift his spirits."

Glorfindel nodded his understanding. "It is hardest to see one we love suffering." He sighed. "Which brother do you think needs you the most right now?"

Elrohir smiled sadly. "Elladan."

"Then..." prompted Glorfindel

"Then that is where I must go," finished the twin.

"Good, for I see Estel approaching, and I do not wish to keep him waiting," teased Glorfindel. The golden warrior watched Elrohir trudge up the steps, pausing only long enough to give Estel a quick hug and wish him a good practice.

"I will spar with you later," called Estel as he descended the steps at too rapid a pace, his excitement nearly getting the best of him.

"Have a care, Estel," cautioned Glorfindel. "The last time you took the steps too quickly; you fell and cut your lip. I would not like to see that episode repeated."

Estel's eyes grew large as he remembered the painful aftermath of his accident. He immediately slowed down and took care to watch where he was placing his feet, much to Glorfindel's amusement.

"Come then, little warrior; let us begin your training."

"Here?" asked Estel, breathlessly looking around the foyer. "Restor does not 'llow me to run or fight in the halls."

"Does he not?" inquired Glorfindel, with a delicate lift of his eyebrow. "Oh, right, he does not allow me to run or fight in the house either." The warrior of Gondolin pretended to consider the predicament for a moment. "Perhaps we should move this to the training field. That is where I instruct the warriors of Imladris."

"Is that what I am?" asked Estel in awe, for he never expected to train on the field where Glorfindel daily trained with the defenders of Imladris.

"You will be, should you choose," answered Glorfindel. He led Estel outside and they began their walk well away from the Last Homely House to the sparing fields of Imladris. Glorfindel paused to look at the child. "Many choices will face you in life, Estel. You must trust yourself to make the correct choice or you will surely falter in the darkness of doubt."

Estel thought about this as he walked. "Have you ever doubted, Glorfy?"

A fragrant mist hung heavily in the evergreens and hardwoods causing delicate spider webs to glisten as the pair wove their way through the forest to the glen where all the training fields were located. Glorfindel nodded as he walked beside the boy. "In truth, most of us doubt at one time or the other. Only a fool never questions himself. The wise must learn to review the facts and then make a decision, for indecision can be fatal."

"How do you know what is the best choice?" pursued Estel.

Glorfindel stopped again, and knelt beside the boy. "Always choose the path of honor, young one, even when that path is most difficult. A leader cannot afford to doubt himself, and he will not go wrong if he chooses the path of honor."

"I will, Glorfy," said Estel solemnly.

"There is one more thing a warrior must remember, Estel," added Glorfindel, ever the teacher. "Keep your sword bright. An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil will never be overcome by fleeing from it."

Estel glanced down at his little training weapon and sighed. "My sword is not very bright."

"Do not fear, Estel, one day it will be, and men will follow you for the love the bear you. For now, however, you must trust my sword to keep you safe."

O-o-O-o-O

Elrohir lounged sanguinely in a comfortable chair on the terrace outside his brother's room, hoping his presence would buoy his brother. Beside him, Elladan sipped a crystal glass of miruvor, the restorative cordial that Elrond hoped would help his condition. With winter past and warmer weather approaching, both twins soaked up the saffron rays of the Anor. The pair had been silent for some time; Elrohir, because he did not know what to say to his brother, and Elladan because he did not wish to burden his twin.

"May I join you?"

Both brothers looked up at the sound of the familiar voice.

"Of course, Adar," responded Elrohir, rising to offer his father his seat, and then going to sit on the terrace railing facing Elrond and Elladan.

The twins looked expectantly at their father, and then back to each other when he sat quietly.

After many long minutes had past, Elladan could stand no more, for it was not like their father to simply sit so long in the daytime. "Adar, what is it that you want? Is there something we can do for you?"

"No," drawled the Elf Lord. "I am simply enjoying the company of my sons."

Extremely suspicious, the twins shared a glance, shrugged, and then settled in to enjoy the peace and quiet with their father.

Elrond called upon centuries of self control to keep the smile from his face, though had the twins looked carefully they might have seen a tell-tale twinkle in his eye. How easy these young ones were for him to read. They were both hurting in different ways, and he wanted to see them open a dialogue with him or between themselves. Elladan was withdrawing more and more as the effects of his injury lingered. The talk with Estel had eased his mind for a while, but as the weeks wore on without measurable improvement, his mood slipped back towards darkness. Elrohir, on the other hand, felt his brother's pain and was helpless to do anything about it. Elrond sighed. Neither of his sons handled helplessness well. He understood this and the reason for it.

"I received a missive from Arwen," began Elrond, after he deemed sufficient time had elapsed. "The passes are clear enough for the riders from Lothlórien to reach us."

"Is she coming home to visit?" asked Elrohir hopefully. "I really miss her."

"No," replied Elrond, thoughtfully glancing towards the younger twin. "Why do you not travel to Lórien to see your sister and grandparents?"

Elrohir hesitated. "I do not wish to leave Estel for as long as it would take. He was away from us too long as it is. He changes so much at this age, and…" The twin paused, unable or unwilling to continue the thought.

"And he will leave us soon enough," finished Elrond. "We accept this fact when we allow ourselves to love the children of Elros."

"Yes, there is that," agreed Elrohir, "but how could we do less?"

"We could not," declared Elladan. "Estel is mortal, and we all know what that means, but not to love him, no matter the pain, is not an option."

Elrond smiled softly. "No, it is not."

The silence continued for a while longer as each elf pursued his own thoughts.

"No offense, Adar," sighed Elrohir, "but if you came here to cheer us up, you have not succeeded. In fact, I believe I feel worse."

Unperturbed, Elrond turned his attention to his oldest. "Elladan, would you like to travel to Lothlórien?"

"No, Adar," Elladan immediately responded. "I…I do now wish for anyone else to witness my weakness."

"Thank you for admitting that to me, ion nín. You are a proud warrior, but remember that even the greatest warrior may be injured."

"I do, Adar," whispered Elladan, looking off at the horizon.

"It may be time for me to begin a more aggressive rehabilitation regimen with you," mused the healer. "We will begin tomorrow."

Elladan was doubtful, but did not give voice to his inner turmoil.

Elrohir wanted to enthuse about how successful this new treatment would be, but dared not for fear that his twin would listen to him and get his hopes up too much. Then, should it fail, Elladan would be lost to him. El could not bear to go thought that again. If his brother began to fade, he would take him and sail, no matter how much he wanted to stay here.

O-o-O-o-O

Glorfindel and Estel had trained for almost an hour and the boy was tired. The pair now rested on a blanket near the fish pond sharing a snack of cheese and bread that Erestor had sent out them along with a crock of cold milk.

"Did you enjoy your training session then?" asked Glorfindel.

"Oh yes, Glorfy," replied Estel, rolling over onto his tummy and propping his chin on the palms of his hands. "I wish Ada was here to see me."

Glorfindel nodded his head slowly. "Your Ada wished to be here, but he is spending time with your brothers. They need him at the moment."

"Is it because Dan is still sad?" asked Estel.

"Yes, little one," Glorfindel confirmed. "Your brother's injury is not healing at the speed he would wish."

"Is he sad because he cannot use his sword?"

"Why do you say that?" asked Glorfindel.

"He told me when we talked about me being a human."

"Elladan has always been a proud warrior. Being unable to defend his home wears on his heart."

Estel chewed on his cheese as he considered what Glorfindel said. "If he was a warrior again would he be happy?"

Glorfindel watched an animated look flicker across Estel's face, and wondered what he was thinking. "I think being a warrior again would make Elladan very happy, indeed."

Estel suddenly sat up. "I must find Ada, Glorfy. I have to tell him something important."

TBC