Disclaimer: I own nothing. Everything belongs to Tolkien.
Summary: Oneshot. Though he does not show it often, Erestor loves those twin terrors. From shelter from a storm to one of the darkest times of the twins' lives, he is there when they need him to be. No slash!
Characters: Erestor, Elladan/Elrohir, and Glorfindel, mentions of Elrond, Celebrían, and Lindir
Author's Note: Inspired by David Cook's "Permanent," thought not a song fic. I just got to thinking that our favorite, grumpy advisor can't be grumpy all the time, and this story was created. Can be kinda looked at as an Erestor character study. As a reminder, no slash at all here. Enjoy and review, but no flames please!
"Will you think that you're all alone
When no one's there to hold your hand
And all you know seems so far away
And everything is temporary, rest your head
-David Cook, "Permanent"
penneth– young one
hannon le– thank you
That day had begun as any other, at least for Erestor. Early rising at first light and a quick breakfast before taking his proper place in the library. Glorfindel, who was awake even before him, had berated him for his choice of diet as usual, which in the morning consisted of a piece of fruit and a couple slices of bread, stating that he was already too thin. Erestor paid no heed to his claim, knowing full well he was at his perfect weight. Aside from that, he did not have much time to eat that morning since it was unlike most other mornings, and he excused himself from the kitchens with his light meal. Lord Elrond and Lady Celebrían had left the previous night for Mirkwood to discuss some trade agreements, and there was much more work to be done in the Elf lord's stead.
So it was with this in mind that Erestor sat down at his table in the corner of the library, taking a bite of his apple as he began on the heavier load of paperwork. Though there was more to do, the chief advisor found he did not mind. Everyone knew he was busier than usual, so there were not going to be any distractions from the peaceful quiet of the room. He was away from Glorfindel's antics. Away from those twin terrors. Away from–!
Erestor winced when the door of the library suddenly crashed open, sighing when he saw the two small, identical, dark-haired Elflings running toward him. This was exactly the disturbance he had not needed. "Erestor! Erestor!"
"What is it?" he asked through gritted teeth. They were awake earlier than usual, and clearly, with a vengeance.
The twin sons of Elrond stopped in front of the table, their matching gray eyes wide. "Elrohir and I were going down to breakfast," Elladan began quickly. "And we wanted to race since the last one to the kitchens would be a rotten Orc."
"Mm-hmm." Erestor turned back to the paperwork that sat in front of him, dipping his quill in the full vial of ink as the older twin continued his explanation. This already did not seem like it would end well.
"And Elrohir fell on the carpet and skinned his knee!" Elladan finished, all in the same breath. The younger twin nodded in agreement, pointing to his redder left knee.
Erestor sighed as he paused in his writing and raised his gaze to the young Elves. "That is unfortunate," he said, setting his quill down. "But you simply must be more cautious." It was only a small injury which he knew would burn for some time, but it was not a matter of life or death, and therefore, he did not consider it a reason to bother him. "Now if you would excuse me–!"
"But, Erestor, it hurts!" Elrohir protested, an effective pout appearing on his young face.
At least, it was always effective on Elrond and Celebrían. Erestor had work to do. "The pain is only temporary, Elrohir," the chief advisor told him, continuing with the paperwork that needed to be completed. "I assure you, it will not last long. Now if you please–!"
"And what, pray tell, would you have me do about it?" A slightly annoyed smirk appeared at the corner of Erestor's lips. "There is not much to be done for such an injury, penneth."
Elrohir glanced at Elladan before both twins turned back to the dark-haired Elf, their eyes wide once more. "Will you kiss it and make it feel better, Erestor?" the younger twin asked quietly.
"What?" Erestor dropped the quill as he looked back at the twins in surprise. He could not have heard him correctly.
"Please, Erestor?" Elrohir pouted again. "That is what Naneth always does, and it feels better."
Instantly, Erestor inwardly cursed whoever had called Elrond and Celebrían away from Imladris and their twin terrors. Kissing an injury to make it feel better was a completely ridiculous idea. It was not uncommon for one or both Elflings to sustain some sort of scratch or bruise, but he had never been approached with this request. "Elrohir, I can assure you, that will not–!"
"My, my. What has happened to make my little Elflings so distressed?"
Erestor quietly groaned, putting his head in his hands. If there was one thing to make this disturbance even worse, this was it.
Elladan and Elrohir turned toward the door, spotting the familiar golden head that was now peeking into the library. "Glorfy!"
Glorfindel smiled as he stepped into the room, dropping to one knee and holding his arms out as the twins ran into his embrace. "Hello, Elflings," he said, looking from one to the other. "Now, what has happened? I could hear you from down the hall."
"Elrohir and I were racing down to breakfast," Elladan explained again, just as quickly as the first time. "The last one down to the kitchens would have been a rotten Orc."
Erestor had picked up his quill and had gone back to his paperwork, but he was once again stopped by Glorfindel's gasp. The twice-born warrior had always known exactly what to say when it came to the young twins and often shared in their enthusiasm, which was why they loved him so much. "Oh, no. You certainly would not want to be that," he muttered as he shook his head. "What happened then?"
"I slipped and skinned my knee on the carpet," Elrohir told him, showing the twice-born warrior his reddened left knee.
Glorfindel frowned as he looked at the minor injury. "Well, that certainly is not fun," he replied, his eyes slightly wide as he met the younger twin's gaze. "Does it hurt?"
Elrohir nodded. "Yes, Glorfy," he said quietly. "Erestor would not kiss it."
Erestor sighed to himself, attempting to focus on the paperwork as he dipped the quill in ink again before scribbling in the information that was needed.
Glorfindel's eyes gleamed playfully as he turned his gaze to the chief advisor. "He did not?" he asked. "Does he not know that a kiss makes everything feel better?" He chuckled quietly to himself when he saw his friend's noticeable irritation.
Elrohir and Elladan both shook their heads. "That is what Naneth does," the older twin stated. "And things feel better."
"Will you kiss it to make it feel better, Glorfy?" Elrohir wondered.
Glorfindel smiled at the Elflings. "Of course I will, penneth," he said. He then quickly kissed Elrohir's sore knee. "How does that feel?"
Elrohir smiled as he looked up at the Balrog Slayer. "It feels better!"
Erestor snuck a glance at the three Elves in the library with him, raising a curious eyebrow. Surely the simple action could not have actually made the younger twin's skinned knee feel better. It must have been the mentality of it that made Elrohir believe the kiss had healing properties.
Glorfindel's smile broadened, ruffling both Elrohir and Elladan's dark hair. "Good, I am glad," he told him. "Now come. Let us get you some breakfast."
"All right, Glorfy!"
The twins hurried from the room, laughing, as Glorfindel rose to his feet. Before he left, he turned to look back at Erestor, who had returned to the mountain of paperwork he had yet to get through. "Is there anything you need?" he asked. He knew how his friend could be when he was in the midst of his work. Caring for his own needs often came second.
Erestor sighed as he met Glorfindel's concerned gaze. "Nay, I am fine, Glorfindel," he answered quietly. He gestured to the half-eaten piece of fruit and two whole bread slices he still had. "This will hold me until lunch."
"If you are certain." Glorfindel moved his gaze from the small meal to the advisor's thin frame, shaking his head slightly before leaving the room to go after Elladan and Elrohir and shutting the door behind him. Erestor smiled to himself, relieved to be back in the peaceful quiet of the library which had always been his sanctuary.
The rest of the morning passed by without incident, and Erestor was able to work without being interrupted until the lunch hour. He raised his dark eyes to the door when he heard it open a crack along with quiet mutterings on the other side. He instantly knew Elladan and Elrohir had returned.
"Do not drop it!"
"I am trying not to!"
Wondering what they were up to that they were having such difficulty with, Erestor set his quill down and pushed himself to his feet. But he had only taken a step away from the table when the door opened completely, revealing a grinning Glorfindel on the other side. The twins stood in front of him, holding a tray with what the kitchens were serving for lunch that day and tea between them.
"You did not come down to eat, so the Elflings wanted to bring you lunch," the golden-haired warrior explained when he saw the chief advisor's confusion. He tapped Elladan's shoulder, and both brothers began to carefully walk the tray forward.
Erestor could not stop the small smile that appeared on his fair face at the gesture, and he walked forward to meet them so they wouldn't have to go as far. "Hannon le," he told them, taking the tray from their small hands so it would not drop. The last thing he wanted was a mess on the library carpets. "I was not paying attention to time."
"I assumed you were not." Glorfindel sighed, his eyes moving to the table Erestor had spent the day at. A couple pieces of crust and an apple core was the only evidence he had eaten at all. But then, a smile appeared on his face again when Elladan and Elrohir turned back to him with matching grins. "Come. I will bring you outside so Erestor can have his peace."
The twins shouted their thanks to their beloved Glorfy before turning back to the dark-haired Elf. "Please do not be angry with us for earlier, Erestor," the younger of the two muttered before they happily ran from the library.
Glorfindel chuckled, his smile lingering when he saw the small one appear on Erestor's face. "I am not angry with them," the chief advisor said.
Glorfindel nodded. "I am aware," he replied. "You are simply stressed with your work." He paused for a moment. "Please, rest for a time and eat. The paperwork can wait." Then, without giving Erestor the opportunity to argue, he left the library and shut the door behind him.
Erestor surprisingly took his friend's advice and leaned back in his chair as he ate the lunch the twin terrors had brought up for him– herb soup, bread, and tea. He had to admit it was refreshing to take a small break, but he also noticed that the room had grown a bit stuffy, something he had not paid any attention to while he had been poring over his work. After taking a sip of tea, the chief advisor crossed the room and opened the window to let in some fresh air. He sighed with content and closed his eyes when the sun's gentle rays fell on his face, the slight breeze feeling wonderful.
But then, he opened his eyes again when cheerful laughter reached his sharp ears. Erestor searched for the source of the sound, and a small smile appeared on his face as he watched Glorfindel chase Elladan and Elrohir through the gardens. From what he could gather, the twins were fighting a cave troll. He chuckled quietly at their imaginations, though he had to agree that the twice-born warrior fit the part of a cave troll well.
Soon, Erestor was back to work, his empty lunch tray testament that he had actually stopped. He continued to fill out paperwork, the twins' and Glorfindel's laughter still reaching him through the open window. But it did not bother him, and he worked peacefully for the next few hours. He glanced up when the smell of rain began to filter into the room, seeing the sun had disappeared behind a layer of gray clouds and a light rainfall had begun. Erestor ran to the window to close it since he did not want the carpets or any of the books to get wet, and he saw Glorfindel covering Elladan and Elrohir with his cloak as he brought them back toward the house. He could imagine the Elflings' disappointment at having to stop their play outside, but he was also sure they would figure out something to do inside. He just hoped he would not be a part of it.
A couple hours later, Erestor lit a couple candles so he would have enough light to continue working. The rain had not relented as night approached, making it harder to see inside the library. He then placed his hand on his stomach, unable to ignore the hunger he felt. It surely had to have been the dinner hour if it had not passed already, and he found it strange that Glorfindel or Elladan and Elrohir had not come up to remind him. But since his empty stomach was protesting to the dinner it was being neglected, Erestor took the empty tray from lunch and left the library, making his way down to the kitchens. Something light was all he would need, and then he could continue his work.
When he entered the kitchens, he found them to be nearly empty. He set his tray from lunch on the counter for the cooks to take, only getting a small bowl of soup and a slice of bread for himself before sitting alone at the table in the corner. His sharp eyes moved around to the other Elves who were still eating, not meaning to eavesdrop though he could hear snippets of their conversation since their voices were somewhat raised.
"Orcs drawing close to Imladris..."
"... a patrol was sent out..."
"... Lord Glorfindel was called to lead them..."
Erestor's eyes widened slightly at these last words, his hand stopping in midair before it brought the spoon to his mouth. Glorfindel had been called to lead a patrol against Orcs that were drawing near their borders? That would explain why he had not been up to the library to remind him about dinner. But dinner was forgotten about anyway when he felt a slight knot beginning to form in the pit of his stomach, and he set the spoon back into the half-empty bowl of soup.
Despite how he often drove him to his last nerve with his antics, Erestor considered Glorfindel to be his most trusted, closest friend. There were times when his jests and pranks bothered him, especially if they interrupted the important work he had to do, but at the same time, the cheerful, good-natured Elf somehow always managed to bring a smile to his own face. The golden-haired warrior was always there when he needed him to be, even though he never asked him to be, and was looking out for needs that he sometimes neglected to attend to, his presence never failing to bring him a sense of stability. And though he would not openly admit it, he was always worried about the Balrog Slayer when he was out on patrol. Glorfindel had already suffered death once, and though his strength and skill in battle was something he could and did not doubt, Erestor did not want the same fate to befall him a second time if he could prevent it. And though it was something he would never say, the possible demise that could await Glorfindel on any given patrol was one of his most prominent fears. He knew his mind would not rest until his friend had returned safely.
The chief advisor was brought out of his thoughts when someone approached him, and he watched as one of the cooks set a strawberry pastry next to his forgotten bowl. "Lord Glorfindel specifically told us to give this to you before he left," she said with a smile.
Erestor gave her a small smile in return, though the knot in his stomach tightened. "Hannon le," he muttered with a nod, and the cook returned it before leaving him.
Feeling as though he would not be able to eat any more, Erestor stood from the table and brought the soup bowl and bread back to the counters. He poured a glass of wine for himself and nearly left, but he paused when he remembered the pastry Glorfindel had wanted him to have. He swiftly returned to the counter and grabbed it before the cooks could take it back and left the kitchens, heading in the direction of the library.
However, before he made it to his destination, Erestor took a slight detour down the hallway that would bring him to the twins' bedroom. He knew they had been sent to bed before now, and he wanted to make sure they were resting well in their parents' absence before he continued his work. The dark-haired Elf found their door to be slightly ajar, and he opened it a little further to look inside. A small smile appeared on his face when he saw both Elladan and Elrohir appeared to be soundly asleep in their beds. He remembered when he and Glorfindel, with some help from Lindir, had arranged the room to fit two beds inside since the Elflings were now at the age where they no longer wanted to share one, but they also did not want their own rooms.
Feeling better that they were at least resting peacefully, Erestor shut the door as it had been before and continued on his way to the library. He entered the large room, seeing the candles he had lit had burned about halfway, and sat back at the table. The advisor took a bite of the strawberry pastry, admitting it did taste good, before setting it aside along with the wine before picking up his quill again and turning his attention to the large stack of papers he had yet to get through. At least it would provide some distraction from his worry for Glorfindel.
Though not much work was done as he instead turned to the many-paned window across the room from him, watching as the rain continued to drip down the glass.
Erestor gasped as he lifted his head quickly from the desk when a loud crash of thunder shook the walls of the house. He rubbed his tired eyes, not remembering that he had dozed off, and noticed the candles had nearly burned out. He would not be getting any more work done that night, he reasoned, and slowly stood to stretch his cramped muscles. The chief advisor looked at the completed stack of paperwork he had gotten through that day, satisfied with his progress, and though there was much more to do, he knew it could wait. He set the paper he had fallen asleep over in the incomplete pile since he had not gotten all the way through it, finishing off the last little bit of his wine as the pastry had been eaten a couple hours before. He chuckled quietly to himself as he organized the papers, remembering countless nights where Glorfindel would discover him asleep or nearly asleep at the same table as he tried to finish whatever work he had to do, assuring him it was something that could be done in the morning and coaxing him to bed.
But Erestor sighed as well at the thought, brushing some of his black hair behind his ear. He crossed the room to the window, seeing the steady rainfall that had persisted all afternoon had turned into a powerful thunderstorm as it now beat heavily against the panes. He hoped Elrond and Celebrían had managed to find a safe place to rest for the night as they continued toward Mirkwood, but the storm also increased his worry for Glorfindel. He had heard nothing of the patrol's return, and he was concerned about his friend in the elements while fighting off Orcs. The golden-haired warrior was skilled, there was no question of that, but it did not make him worry any less. Someone had to be concerned for Glorfindel's safety since the twice-born Balrog Slayer was often not.
Erestor left the window and went back to the table, picking up the empty wine glass before he blew out the candles. Ensuring everything was organized and nothing was out of place, he stepped out into the dark hallway, occasionally lit by a flash of bright lightning, and walked back to his room. He set the glass on the dresser before he removed his black tunic, folding it neatly and setting it on the end of the bed. He slipped into his light shirt for sleeping and pulled back the covers on his bed, trying to find a comfortable position on his pillow.
The strict advisor had never been bothered by rain. In fact, the sound always calmed him, whether it was a light rainfall or a steady downpour. That night was no different as the sound of the heavy rain hitting his window surrounded him, and though his mind was still burdened with worry, he was soon soothed into a light sleep.
What seemed like as soon as he fell asleep, though he had no way of saying for sure, Erestor was roused when he heard a quiet sound. He knew the rain had not awoken him, but he did not know what it could have been.
A minute later, he heard the sound again. Now that he was awake, he recognized it as a timid knock at his door. Grumbling in frustration under his breath since he didn't know what was so important that he had to be disturbed now, Erestor got out of bed and crossed the room. He threw his door open, ready to deliver a verbal lashing to whoever had woken him, but what he saw was not what he had been expecting.
Two small, dark-haired forms stood huddled together in front of him, their matching gray eyes wide and filled with fear. Erestor's expression softened, his frustration immediately leaving him. "Elladan? Elrohir?"
The twins looked up at the dark-haired advisor, but before they could say anything, a bright flash of lightning lit up the hallway followed by a loud crash of thunder. Elladan and Elrohir both jumped at the sound and whimpered quietly as it echoed around them. Erestor instantly knew what was wrong. They were afraid of the storm.
"Oh, Elflings." Erestor knelt on one knee and held his arms out to them, and the twins eagerly moved into his embrace and wrapped their small arms around his neck. He held them close to him securely when he felt their shaking frames in his arms. "Shh. Please, Elflings, calm yourselves."
"We... we are scared, Erestor," Elladan murmured, his voice trembling slightly.
Elrohir nodded in agreement. "The storm woke us, and we were alone..."
Erestor placed his hands on their heads when they rested them on his shoulders, closing his eyes as he willed them to feel peace. He knew the twins had always been afraid of storms, and he was not surprised that they had woken. But they had never come to him seeking comfort and shelter from their fears. Not knowing what else to do for them, Erestor began to quietly hum the lullaby that Elrond always sang to them since they had been newborns, and though his timbre voice was quiet, it was clearly heard over the fury of the storm raging around them since the twins' shaking became less violent until it stopped entirely.
"There now," he said, his voice calming to the Elflings. "That is better."
Elladan and Elrohir cautiously raised their heads from the chief advisor's shoulders, wincing when thunder echoed loudly around them once more. They both reached out, their small fingers getting tangled in Erestor's long, dark hair.
"Please, do not send us back, Erestor," Elladan begged, tears running freely down his youthful face.
"May we stay here tonight?" Elrohir wondered, almost seeming to be afraid of his answer.
Erestor gave them a reassuring smile. "Of course you may," he said gently. He lifted both Elladan and Elrohir into his arms and stepped back inside his room, shutting the door behind him with his foot. He set them down on his bed and crossed the room to the fireplace, kneeling down before it as he worked to get it started. He hoped the light would not only warm them, but would also drive away the shadows of the storm.
Elladan and Elrohir sat close together on the bed, their arms linked together. They both gasped as a bright flash of lightning nearly blinded them, concealing Erestor from view for a second, which was followed by an almost deafening rumble of thunder that shook the walls as darkness took its place. They leapt from the bed and rushed to where the chief advisor was knelt before the fireplace, wrapping their arms around his slender waist.
"It is all right, little ones," Erestor soothed, wrapping his arm around their small forms and holding them close as they whimpered. "You are safe here." He used his free hand to get the fire started, smiling when the heat and gentle light spilled into the room.
The twins rubbed their tear-filled eyes, their bodies relaxing as they gazed at the fire blazing in front of them. The quiet crackling and warmth calmed them, and they had matching small smiles on their faces as Erestor scooped them up into his arms and carried them back to the bed. He set them down a second time before he laid on his pillow, and Elladan snuggled close to his right side while Elrohir did the same on his left. The chief advisor wrapped his arms securely around them, smiling slightly when it didn't take them long to fall into a light sleep.
"Good night, my little ones," he whispered, though he knew they would not hear him. Though he often regarded them as the twin terrors, it was only a term of affection for them. They may have often bothered him while he was working, which was irritating, but it did not lessen his love for them. Ever since they had entered his life, the two Elflings who were sleeping beside him had given him great joy, and he cared for them as he would his own children. He did not openly show it often, though he had the feeling they knew.
Another bright flash of lightning lit up the night followed by rumbling thunder, and Elrohir whimpered as he stirred. Erestor turned his attention to him, running his thin fingers through the Elfling's hair. "Do not fear, penneth," he told him quietly. "The storm is only temporary. After the rain, there will be sun."
A small smile appeared on Elrohir's face at this thought, and he moved closer to Erestor's side before falling back into a light sleep. The chief advisor allowed the sound of the rain to calm him, and his eyes glazed over as he soon followed the younger twin into sleep.
It was nearly dawn by the time the patrol that had been sent out to disband the Orcs returned to Rivendell. Glorfindel walked through the hallways as he nursed a minor injury, covered with dirt and drenched from the storm that had prevailed throughout the night. Fortunately, coming back to the place he now considered home had been a bit more pleasant as the rain had finally stopped. There was nothing he wanted to do more than step into a hot bath and get some sleep, but he wanted to check on Elladan and Elrohir first since he knew the storm would have affected them.
But when he quietly pushed open the door of their room, Glorfindel's eyes widened with surprise when he saw neither twin was in bed. He hurried down the hallway to where the library was, finding Erestor was not at his proper place at the table in the corner. This unnerved the twice-born warrior slightly since his strict friend usually would not have left his sanctuary unless he forced him to.
Knowing there was one more place he could check, Glorfindel rushed to Erestor's room and softly pushed the door open. The sight that greeted him in the faint light filtering into the room brought a smile to his face.
Erestor was lying asleep in his bed with Elladan and Elrohir close to him on either side. He could tell the fireplace had recently been lit, even though it had now gone out, and not wanting to disturb them since they appeared so peaceful, he stepped back into the hallway and shut the door silently behind him.
Erestor walked down the dark hallway, his fair face containing no expression and his step with purpose as it always was as thunder rumbled quietly around him to accompany the sound of the light rain hitting the windows. Though this time, he realized, he was walking with a somber step.
Lady Celebrían had sailed. The news had hit him hard since it had been unexpected, and he had grown to be a part of Elrond's family over the many years he had served as his chief advisor. Now that one of them was no longer among them, there was a feeling of emptiness left behind in his heart.
He had hardly seen Elrond for two days, ever since his wife had left for Valinor. The times he had, he was consumed by grief and hardly spoke a word. He could not imagine how the Elf lord felt since his own sorrow was trivial compared to his. Elrond had done all he could to heal Celebrían after Elladan and Elrohir rescued their mother from the Orcs that had taken and tortured her, but after he had given his own soul and heart for her recovery, she had still sailed a year after the incident. It had not been enough to take away the torment she had suffered, though he knew it was something Elrond would have taken from her and onto himself had he been able to. He was deeply concerned for his lord and friend, but Glorfindel had refused to leave his side. The lord of Imladris was in capable hands. He would have stayed with Elrond as well, but there were things that needed to be done in his stead throughout Imladris. He also knew he was needed elsewhere.
Erestor came to a stop in front of a door and knocked twice before he pushed it open. Under any other circumstance, he would not have entered without being invited, but they needed him now.
The sight in the dark room nearly broke his heart.
Elladan and Elrohir were sitting close together on the bed in the older twin's room, their fair faces pale and their matching gray eyes empty. Erestor took a couple steps closer to them, able to see the stains left behind on their cheeks by tears in the light a flash of lightning provided. At first, they did not acknowledge his presence, but when he drew nearer, they slowly gazed at him with eyes full of sorrow and hopelessness.
Though he had watched them grow into mature warriors over the many years, the chief advisor was instantly reminded of the two small Elflings who had come to his room to seek comfort from the storm that had frightened them. They had left their rooms more often than Elrond had over the past couple of days, and though they openly tried to appear as though their mother's sailing had not affected them as much as it truly did, here they were in front of him, vulnerable and in search of that same comfort.
No words passed between them as Erestor slowly but steadily held his arms out. Without a moment's hesitation, Elladan and Elrohir got to their feet and crossed the small distance separating them, wrapping their arms around the chief advisor tightly. Erestor held them close, placing his hands on their heads when they leaned down to rest them on his shoulders and willed them to feel peace, just as he had done all those years ago.
"I am here, little ones."
He felt Elladan's body tense, and when he spoke, it sounded as though he was fighting to hold back tears. "I... I believed we had saved her," he said quietly, trying to restrain the nearly overwhelming emotion that threatened to spill from him.
Erestor felt tears form in his dark eyes as he tightened his arms around the twins, and he shut them in an effort to keep them back as he took a deep, calming breath. "You did, penneth," he assured him. "You rescued your mother from a terrible fate."
"But it was not enough," Elrohir protested, straightening up slightly as he gazed into Erestor's face as though he were searching for the answers he needed there, though the chief advisor knew he would not find what he sought. "After all we did, after everything Ada did, she still left us."
"She had no choice," Erestor replied as he looked up at him. "She was living in constant fear and was wasting away. Would you allow your mother to live that way?" He paused for a moment when he saw how his words impacted both twins as they looked away, and he could not stop a couple tears that escaped from his own eyes. "You did save her. And she did what she felt she had to."
Elladan and Elrohir turned back to the dark-haired advisor, the hint of his tears renewing their own. Here, they were safe with each other, allowed to show their grief and search for comfort. Erestor brought the twins closer to him again as their sobs shook them, quietly humming the lullaby Elrond had sung to them when they were Elflings. How he wished he could end their grieving, to take their pain from them and suffer it himself. But it would not be possible, he knew. They would have to discover their own ways to heal. They would have to be strong together.
Soon, Elladan and Elrohir stopped trembling as a rumble of thunder echoed around them, and they rested against Erestor, who supported them.
"The pain is temporary, my little ones," the chief advisor whispered, a small smile appearing on his face despite the tears that continued to form in his dark eyes. "Our hearts will heal in time."
Erestor was unsure how much comfort his words provided until he saw the matching slight smiles on the twins' faces. He knew there would be much more grief and much more anger to come, but that night, he had at least been able to give them some temporary peace.