Elladan's Trails…for Estel
Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh, be swift to love, make haste to be kind! Henri Amul
Elladan had just raised his bow for another shot when his keen elven hearing picked up the sound of Estel's cries. For one, brief horrified moment his eyes met Elrohir's before they both dropped their bows and ran for the last homely house.
Elrohir and Elladan reached the house just moments after Erestor had knelt at Estel's side. Estel's screams were piercing and like a dagger in the twins' hearts. "Erestor, what happened?" Elladan shouted over the hysterical cries.
"It appears that Estel fell down the stairs," responded Erestor. "He lost consciousness for a moment and his lip is terribly cut, but I can see no other injuries. Come, let us take him to the healing wing."
Erestor moved to pick up the child, but Elladan's arm on his shoulder stopped him. "I will take him, Erestor. Elrohir and I will take care of him."
Erestor hesitated for only a moment. He was no healer, but at the same time he knew what an ordeal it would be for either of the twins to have to work on their little brother. The elf lord inclined his head. "As you wish, but please let me know if there is anything that you need."
"I will, Erestor, and thank you." Elladan returned the elf lord's nod as he gently picked up the panicked child. Little arms went around his neck like a vise, and the twin could feel the child's blood soaking his tunic.
Elrohir had hurried to gather the supplies they would need as Elladan carried Estel, trying all the while to quiet the frightened and traumatized child. The sight of all the blood pouring from his mouth, combined with the pain and the remnant of the nightmare had made him frantic.
Elladan spoke in soft elvish trying to calm his baby brother. His heart was in his throat as he thought about what he was going to have to do. Laying the child onto the table that Lord Elrond used for examinations, Elladan and Elrohir stayed on each side of him trying to hold down his arms so that they could get a good look at his mouth. "Dinen, Estel, be still!" Elrohir begged the child.
The terrified screams were almost more than they could take. Elrohir soothed his brother while Elladan gently probed the cut that ran through Estel's top lip. "Estel, Sîdh, tithen pen, pận natha mae." Peace, little one, all will be well.
Estel's sobs turned to quiet gulps as he tried valiantly to be a big boy for his gwedeir. His bottom lip quivered and huge tears rolled down his face. Even though his lip hurt terribly, he wanted to be brave for his brothers.
Elladan met Elrohir's eyes above their brother. "Prepare a sleeping draught for him to drink, Elrohir. I will need to sew the lip."
Estel lost his fight to be brave when he heard those words. His wail of fright was not loud but it was heart rending to his brothers.
Elladan smoothed back his brother's hair form his forehead and soothed the frightened child. "Avo 'osto, Pen neth." Do not worry, young one. As his hand smoothed Estel's hair, he felt the lump that had formed just above the hairline. Concerned, Elladan began to probe the lump and look closer at Estel's eyes. He found what he feared; the child's eyes were slightly dilated. He also found bruising on the scalp around the lump.
Estel whimpered as Elladan probed the lump. "Dan, you look fuzzy."
"Elrohir, hold. We cannot give him a sleeping draught. He has a concussion."
Elrohir met his brother's eye as he slowly lowered the herbs he was mixing. "I will get some clove oil. We can deaden the lip with that."
"Good. While I tranquilize the lip, mix him a mild sedative. I would like him to be as relaxed as possible." He smiled down at Estel as he spoke to Elrohir. "It will be well, little one. You trust me don't you?"
Impossibly large silver eyes looked up at Elladan. They were watery from tears, but were gazing at him with absolute faith. The hope in those eyes humbled the immortal and Elladan was hard pressed to keep the tears from his own eyes.
Elrohir finished mixing the sedative and brought it over to the table. "Can you drink this, Estel?" Elrohir propped up his brother and helped hold the cup as Estel's little hands went around it.
Estel brought the cup up to his mouth, but then stopped as fresh tears fell from his eyes. "No, it hurts, Ro." Blood was still flowing freely from the cut which also interfered with the child's attempt to swallow.
"All right, little one, just lie back. The clove oil will have to do then." Elrohir leaned over the table so that he could hold Estel's arms as Elladan began to gently dot the clove oil onto the cut.
Estel tensed but didn't jerk. Never-the-less, Elrohir was prepared to hold down his arms should the need arise. Elladan would need the child to be as still as possible as he sewed the cut. Elrohir could see the dread in his twin's eyes as he prepared the thread. Neither one would hurt Estel for the world, but this would bring pain to their little brother and there was nothing they could do to prevent it. It simply had to be done so that the lip could heal properly. Now he understood the true meaning of the dreaded phrase, "This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you." Under different circumstances he might have laughed at the thought.
Suddenly Elrohir had an inspiration. "Estel, hold my hands. Hold them as tightly as you wish and squeeze them all you want if you need to." This would be much better than attempting to hold down the frightened child and would give Estel a feeling of control over the situation. Elrohir could still move to hold the child's arms if the need should arise, but he didn't now believe that it would. "You are brave, Estel. The bravest boy I know."
Pride shone through the tears in the boy's eyes.
Elladan looked down and Estel and smiled. "I'm not going to do anything to you without telling you first, Estel."
Estel nodded to his brother and let go of Elrohir's hand long enough to reach up and place his little hand against his brother's cheek. That simple gesture of trust was almost Elladan's undoing.
Sensing his twin's struggle Elrohir smiled at Estel and squeezed his hand. "You know, tithen gwador, with the scar that will leave you are going to look like a real warrior."
"Really?" breathed the boy. He would have smiled at the thought, but the injury to his lip made the motion impossible.
"Really," affirmed Elladan. "Are you ready?"
Estel sobered again, but nodded bravely to his brother.
"Hold my hands again, Estel," encouraged Elrohir. "Squeeze them as tightly as you can and don't move."
Elladan leaned over his brother and began sewing the lip. Estel stiffened but did not move his head as Elladan quickly put in the necessary stitches. He blocked out all else as he worked, intent on keeping the stitches small and even to prevent any more scarring than necessary and yet ensure proper healing. The lip would be a difficult place to heal with the constant moisture and movement of the site.
"That's it, Estel, squeeze tightly," Elrohir soothed and encouraged his little brother. "When did you get so strong, baby brother? With a grip like that you'll be ready for the long bow any day now."
Estel's eyes widened and flew to his brother, but he didn't move his head.
"That's right, little one, keep very still for Elladan. It's almost over now."
Sure enough, Elladan straightened and smiled at his brothers. "All done… You did very well, Estel. I'm proud of you, tithen pen." He picked up the child and enfolded him in a bear hug as he rocked back and forth. "All done, Estel, all done..."
Estel was content to rest his head on Elladan's shoulder and be soothed by the twin. He felt incredibly safe in his gwador's arms and his lip didn't hurt nearly so much now.
"Elrohir, please get me some arnica. I will need to apply that around the lump on this little fellow's hard head." He smiled as he said that last bit. "We'll also need a small wintergreen poultice to apply to the lip for a bit. That will help with the pain."
Elrohir moved over to his father's work area to secure the herbs. His strength was in the making of herbal remedies and he spent long hours being taught by his father. He loved working with the different compounds and learning about the plants and fauna and their natural healing powers. He turned back to his brothers with the arnica. "Here, apply this while I make the poultice."
Elladan took the arnica and sat Estel back on the table. "Here Estel, you hold the jar while I apply the salve. Does your head hurt?"
Estel nodded slowly.
"Am I still fuzzy?" inquired the twin as he gently massaged the arnica into the bruising and over the egg sized lump.
Estel nodded again.
Elladan smiled. "That is because of the blow to your head. It will pass, as will the headache. In the meantime this will help."
Estel yawned; his eyes were growing heavier with each passing moment. "I'm sleepy, Dan."
"No, Estel," Elladan and Elrohir responded at the same moment. They locked eyes and Elladan continued. He kept his voice even so as not to alarm the child. "You must stay awake, tithen gwador."
"Why don't we take Estel out to the archery field?" Elrohir suggested. "We can get our bows, and on the way back we can go by and look at the fishes."
"The bishes?" Estel asked excitedly. He forced his eyes open at the thought, for he dearly loved it when he was given the opportunity to visit the pond on the far side of the archery field. It was a small secluded pond that was brimming with gold fish, some of them were a foot long or more and Estel could watch their shimmering colors for hours at a time. Normally it was Glorfindel who would take the boy there while his brothers practiced their archery, so this was going to be a special treat for him.
"Yes, the BISHES," Elrohir assured. Normally the twins would try to correct the child's pronunciation, but today he could get away with anything and they would not care. He would learn to say his "f's" when the time was right, and at the moment they didn't care when that was.
It was late in the night when Lord Elrond and Glorfindel returned to Imladris. They were not expected for several days yet, and certainly not expected to arrive in the dead of night, but the elf lord had felt a premonition some days previously that all was not well at home, and had insisted that they leave immediately for Imladris.
If Glorfindel was surprised at their sudden leave taking he didn't show it. He was used to his friend's far sight and trusted his judgment completely. Besides, he thought ruefully, when the twins were involved it was best to expect the worst!
Upon entering the house Elrond went first to his youngest son's room. It was empty, though the bed was unmade. As Estel often came to either his or the twins rooms after having a nightmare, he was not overly concerned. However, when his anxiety raised a notch when he found the twins rooms empty as well.
It was then that he noticed a dim light coming from his own room. Moving quietly down the hall he paused in the doorway and sighed in relief. There, piled into his bed, were his three sons. The twins lay on either side of Estel. They had brought Estel's night light with them and it cast soft shadows on the wall as it gently illuminated the room.
Elrond was standing there smiling as Glorfindel walked up beside him and looked over his shoulder. "Now that is a scary sight. They look altogether too innocent."
Elrond raised his eyebrow and glared at his long time friend. "Are you impugning the character of my sons?"
Glorfindel just laughed softly. "Me? Never, my lord." He put his hand on Elrond's shoulder and squeezed slightly. "It would seem that all is well, my friend. I am glad, for all our sakes."
Elrond continued to smile at his sons, committing the sight to memory. He supposed he would hear the story of how they all came to be sleeping in his bed in the morning, but for now he would just enjoy the scene before him. For all of his days this would be a cherished moment for him to remember.
From the bed came a small whimper and Estel turned over onto his back revealing the horrendous injury to his upper lip. Elrond's breath caught in his throat as he surveyed the damage and realized who must have had to do the sewing. He silently berated himself for not being here when his youngest needed him.
Yes, there would be much to hear in the morning, but for now he would leave the young ones to their rest. Walking over to the foot of the bed, he inspected the cut as much as he could without waking the child. The swelling had nearly doubled the lip and there was a redness forming around it that he did not like. He decided to spend the night resting in a cushion filled chair by the bed in case Estel should wake and need him. In truth, he was loathe to leave Estel as well. Even though he could see that his sons were safe, if not wholly sound, right in front of him, he could not shake the feeling of unease which had brought him racing back to Imladris in the middle of the night.