"Hold still, penneth. There is still blood on your cheek." Elrohir carfully wiped his little brother's face with a damp cloth, "It looks like those branches did a nice job of missing your eye, Estel, but I think you will have several welts on your face for awhile."
"Will I get a black eye from them?" asked Estel hopefully.
Elrohir shook his head, "Not this time. I think we should try it again tomorrow."
"If Ada will let Estel out of the house for the next sevendays," proclaimed Elladan gloomily, "Here, Estel, hold the end of this bandage while I wrap the rest of it around your wrist. Relax your hand a bit, so."
"I can't be stuck inside," protested the young man from his place on the healing table, " Thurin has almost figured out how to let me ride with no saddle."
"By almost, do you mean the look on her face when you set her to trotting?" asked Elrohir.
"Or the way that you bounced around when she picked up the pace?" Elladan smirked as he tucked in the end of the bandage. His eyes met those of his twin and the two elves began to laugh.
"Maybe it was the look on your face when she started to gallop," chuckled Elrohir.
"Or the look on your face when you saw the trees were so close."
"Or when she stopped."
"And you didn't!" Elladan chortled, laughing until he gasped for breath.
"Oh, Estel, that was priceless!" affirmed Elrohir.
Estel glared at his brothers. "You won't think it funny when Ada asks why my wrist is bandaged. He told you to keep me safe!"
"Oh Estel, we don't mean to laugh at you, but it was so funny." The laughter of the elves was infectious, and Estel found himself smiling through his angry face. Soon the sound of his young laughter joined that of his older brothers.
Elrohir finally caught his breath and said, "He is right, you know, Elladan. What are we going to tell our father?"
Elladan sobered. "We must get you bathed and changed Estel. You will look a lot better with clean dry clothes. Quickly now, and perhaps Adar won't think you are so bad off that you need to stay inside tomorrow."
Much later that evening, after baths, supper and evening song, the three brothers sat with their father and Glorfindel in a secluded part of the private gardens. The last wisps of daylight still graced the garden paths; the warm midsummer sun lingered late into the evening. Estel was not watching the fireflies come out. He was nestled under Elladan's arm, fast asleep.
"Well," said Elrond finally, taking a slow sip of wine, "which of you has prepared the best story to explain Estel's face and wrist?"
"There is no story, Ada" said Elrohir, marshalling his face into wide eyed innocence, "We took Estel riding this afternoon and he tumbled from his horse. We were right there when it happened. Elladan checked him and the wrist is really just sprained, not broken."
"His face looks terrible," protested Elrond.
"He fell into some branches, Ada. That's all."
Elrond raised his eyebrows, "Do I want to know how he came to fall?"
"N'uma, Adar," said the twins in unison.
"Then perhaps you'd better get him tucked in tonight, before I start asking such questions."
Elladan scooped the sleeping boy up in his arms and quickly made towards the house. Elrohir made to leave with them then stopped and asked, "Does this mean we can take him riding again tomorrow?"
"Will you keep him safe?"
"Safer than we did today, Adar," said Elrohir respectfully.
"See that you do," replied Elrond.
Glorfindel leaned forward as the brothers departed. "Where do your sons get their propensity for misadventure?" he asked with mock seriousness.
"They come by it honestly," retorted Elrond.
"I'd say that that youngster took more than just a little spill off a horse today."
"I'd say that they've been trying to teach Estel how to ride without a saddle and he was thrown when his horse protested the idea."
"It's amazing how well you know your children," said Glorfindel.
"It's amazing how much you can learn by talking to the horsemaster," said Elrond with a smile.