"It was a dream. Just a horrible," he shuttered in remembrance, "horrible dream." He sighed as he looked out at his balcony. Sliding off the mattress, Elrond walked towards his balcony. He wished to gaze upon the stars, his long-departed father among them. He had always done this; the simple action could calm his troubled thoughts as he watched the silver specks float through the night sky. However, tonight did not appear to be a good night to stargaze. He pulled back the curtains, opened the doors, stepped out onto the balcony, and looked up. He did not find what he had expected to see; instead the stars were hidden by storm clouds. A cool breeze ruffled his hair as if in warning of the storm that would soon feed his river and forest. The trees were silent, their leaves turned up to accept the precious rainwater. Animals of the night had already taken cover. Walking back into the room, he closed the balcony doors and locked them tight to prevent the wind and rain from throwing them open.
Elrond then made his way back to bed and settled down for sleep, but sleep still was not possible. Seeing he would find no rest with the memories of the previous nightmare looming over his head. Getting out of bed for the second time, he slid into his slippers and pulled his robe over his nightshirt. Once he was fairly presentable (at least to sleeping eyes), Elrond headed down the hall to where his sons walked their dreams. The only sound made was the slight rustling of his clothes as he briskly walked down the hallway.
His first stop was Elladan's room. Listening outside, he heard his son's deep, even breaths and content sighs that his dreams brought him. Elrond entered the room and smiled at the sight that greeted him.
Elladan was asleep on his stomach staring with half-lidded eyes staring in Elrond's direction. His sheets had been kicked to a large clump that covered from his feet to his waist, and one arm was hooked under his pillow; the other draped limply over the side of the bed. The older twin's face was one of happiness and peace. He was having pleasant dreams, whatever they were.
He's probably dreaming of breathtaking young maidens, Elrond thought wryly, remembering having such dreams when he was young (and occasionally when he was married—though he would certainly never tell Celebrian of those particular dreams).
Elrond, with the silent strides of the Firstborn, walked into to his oldest son's room. He gently lifted Elladan's arm from the floor, placing it at his side. Straightening out the rumpled blankets, he lifted them up to Elladan's shoulders and gently tucked them around his oldest child. He paused for a moment when Elladan shifted, rolling onto his side and destroying Elrond's careful efforts to making his son more comfortable and prevent him from becoming tangled in his sleep.
Elrond simply rolled his eyes and readjusted the blankets, tucking them in once more. His task complete, the Elf gently stroked Elladan's cheek and placed a light kiss upon his brow. With this he left, easing the door into place so as not to disturb his slumbering son. He would that he could stay longer and watch his oldest sleep, but he had other children to look in on.
Elrohir was no different from his twin, except his feet were wrapped around the sheets (or the sheets were wrapped around his feet; Elrond couldn't tell). His mouth was open and soft snores escaped his throat; his arms were at his side, turned at an odd angle. Elrond let out a soft barely audible laugh. Truly, his children slept in the oddest positions.
His joints will pain him in the morning if he stays like that all night, thought Elrond, adjusting the younger twin's hands and arms into more comfortable and natural positions. Giving the sheets gentle tugs and turns he pulled them in the right direction and placed them at his middle son's shoulders. Placing a hooked finger under the boy's chin, he gently closed his mouth to prevent him from drooling all over his pillow and having a dry mouth in the morrow. Elrond then stepped back and watched Elrohir walk through Elven dreams.
After a few moments in the room, he closed the door and walked across the hall. This was where his youngest slept. As he listened outside the door, he picked up the muffled breathing of its inhabitant. Entering the room, he saw what he longed to ever since his dream. A small lump of blankets rose and fell, curled up near the top and almost resting on the large pillow on the clearly too big bed. Already knowing what he would find under the bundle of blankets, he sighed. He was happy to know that the young human was in fact still with them, not lost and forgotten as he had been in the Lord of Imladris' dream. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Elrond slowly peeled back the covers to reveal a small, curly-haired human boy.
Elrond sat back and watched the bundle of blankets. Estel he was called to the Elves of Imladris. How could a five-year-old human come to live within a city of Elves, many asked. Elrond told the story, omitting only Estel's true name. Only three years ago, when Estel was still called Aragorn and resided with his true parents and the band of Rangers they rode with, vile creatures of the night had attacked. The goblins and Orcs were numerous enough to destroy the band of Rangers, but Gilraen had hidden her son in time to save him. Days later he had been found by Elladan and Elrohir, seeking to join the Rangers.
Estel was in the House of Elrond for another reason, as well. He was in hiding from one of the greatest threats Middle Earth had ever seen. Sauron, he was called; he was responsible for the death of little Estel's parents, who had been heirs to the thrones of Gondor and Arnor. Their lineage could be dated back to Isildur, and further still to Elrond's own twin brother, Elros. Estel, whose birth name was Aragorn, was now the only survivor of heirs of the Kings of Men. If he were to ever claim the throne, he needed to be kept out of the eyes (or eye, in Sauron's case) of the enemy, so as not to jeopardize the boy's life. Elrond had also found a third reason for keeping the child under his roof. It was no secret to Rivendell (or any elves) that knew the family that Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir had grown to love the young one as if he were one of their own. Even Erestor had been swayed by the child's innocent charm. Glorfindel loved him as well and looked forward to the boy's daily lessons.
In the distance he heard a low rumble of thunder. The storm would soon start. Elrond settled himself in the rocking chair near the youngster's bed. It was a well-known fact amongst the Rivendell elves that little Estel was afraid of storms. The twins hadn't helped either, playing pranks on their younger sibling and making him believe the monsters under his bed would eat him on stormy nights. Oh, how they'd regretted it when Elrond got a hold of them, and never again was a cruel joke played on the youngest member of the family. No, instead they were using him in their clever ploys.
Elrond was brought from his musings when Estel shifted restlessly in his sleep. The storm was coming closer and becoming louder as it approached. Rising, Elrond turned up the flame on the oil lamp on the mantel, lighting up the corner. He would it were closer, but it might wake Estel up. That, he wanted to avoid at all costs; it wasn't that Estel was a problem when disturbed, just that Elrond hoped he would soon grow out of his fear of storms as most children do. He was a little tired of waking up to the boy coming into his room and climbing into bed, and he knew the twins were tired of it as well.
No sooner had a fairly large flash of lighting streaked across the sky followed by a crash of thunder that seemed to shake the whole house had the human shot up in bed. All traces of sleep disappeared from his features as he jumped off the bed to head straight for the door and to the safety of his Ada's room.
Elrond had no doubt that was where the child would've headed, had his feet touched the ground. However, Elrond caught the boy as he jumped out of the bed, afraid he would hurt himself upon landing. Estel struggled in his father's grasp; he wanted to get away. If he didn't, the monsters would come! He didn't want them to come; he just wanted his ada.
"ADA!" the struggling Estel screeched for his 'father' in fright.
Elrond held the child to his chest, attempting to hush him before he woke the whole house.
"Estel, hush I'm here!" Estel kept struggling, unaware it was his father who cradled him. "Estel!" barked the Elf Lord. The boy immediately ceased his fighting, recognizing the voice.
"Ada?" he sniffled.
Elrond shifted Estel to his hip as he brought the oil lamp to the nightstand and brightened its flame. "Yes, ion-nin, it is I."
Another bolt of lighting sent Estel deeper into his father's hold.
Elrond held him close and whispered words of hope and happiness into his son's ears. As the storm passed through the night Elrond finally managed to get the child back to sleep, himself not far behind. There the two sat, Estel comforted by his father's arms and Elrond comforted by holding his son once again.
Before the gentle grip of sleep took hold, he glimpsed two shadowed figures in the doorway. The twins had woken at Estel's cries. Nodding to his sons, a signal that he had it under control, they left.
The next morning was bright, the air comfortably warm and still holding the scent of rain from the previous night. The family of half-elves and their little human boy headed to breakfast. Erestor and Glorfindel were already at the table, waiting for others to arrive. Upon the sight of the twins, they noticed they were dressed in identical clothing.
Upon seeing this, Erestor groaned; they were planning to make someone's morning miserable. It was not widely known, but whenever Elrond's twins willingly wore the same clothes, hairstyles, and speech patterns and body language were shared, someone was bound to have a prank pulled on them. It was a trick of theirs; it was very difficult, if not impossible, to tell them apart, and one could easily take the place of the other. He would need to examine his food and drink before he so much as touched it. Erestor looked across the table at Glorfindel, who apparently was thinking the same thing. Since they were the twin's favorite targets, they would need to be careful today.
Elrond walked trailed by a freshly washed and dressed Estel. Looking upon his sons and advisors, he knew it would prove to be a most interesting day. Being the third favorite, though it was uncommon to have a prank pulled on him, he decided to make himself busy for the day to avoid any pranks and resulting complaints.
Elladan looked over at his little brother. "Good morning, Estel." The older twin's smile made Erestor cringe; oh yes, they were up to something.
Estel let out a big yawn. "Morning El'dan," he replied sleepily.
Elrohir grinned slyly and asked, "What makes you think he's Elladan?"
Estel shrugged, "I just know."
Elrond smiled at his youngest son. He was impressed that he could instantly tell the twins apart, even when they dressed the same and adopted the each other's mannerisms.
Breakfast was served when Elrond took his seat at the head of the table. It consisted of crispy, fresh baked bread, which filled the room with the sweet smell of butter and warm, tender slices of bread. Fresh eggs had been scrambled; smelling their favorite food of old had the twins (and Estel's) mouths watering in an instant. They had to wait until the rest of the food was served, however, before they could attack the eggs. Bacon and sausage was soon added, along with a jug of fresh juice.
The food finally served and ready, everyone immediately grabbed for what they want wanted. Elladan and Elrohir went first for the eggs, then bread and sausage. Elrond threw them disapproving glances for creating such a fuss. Honestly, one would think I have been starving them for years, he thought.
Seeing their father's glance, the twins stopped and took on the manners that had been (in their opinion) forced upon them at a young age.
Glorfindel fought to hold back a laugh. He couldn't remember seeing them react that way in a long time. Even he had to admit, it was slightly amusing seeing the famous glare sent their way; he'd never known they could turn around and behave so angelically in that short a time.
Elrond spooned a few eggs onto Estel's plate, along with some toast and a little bacon. The dress of his older sons did not remain unnoticed—he knew they were up to something and he didn't doubt for a moment they would get young Estel involved in one way or another.
"What are your plans for today boys?" He doubted they would answer truthfully, but it was always worth a try. Who knew; they might surprise him one day.
"The usual," said Elrohir, as if it were the obvious answer.
"And what would that be?" asked Glorfindel as he calmly finished his eggs.
"What we always do—running around causing all sorts of mayhem," answered Elladan
"Our day will consist of a healthy dose of havoc, mayhem, chaos, and many victims." Elrohir looked at Glorfindel and Erestor. They knew that stare; it had been dubbed 'The-Evil-Twin-Mischief-Look'.
Elrond chuckled, quickly covering it with a cough. He was somewhat glad they would torment his advisors and not him. "Only chaos, mayhem, and havoc. You're going easy on your victims today."
"Well, I suppose even they need a break every once in a while," replied Elrohir between bites of toast.
"But we do have to keep them on their toes, or they might come to think we've forgotten them…" started Elladan with a reasonable expression.
"…Or worse, grown out of our habits," continued Elrohir, shaking his head ruefully.
"I have another idea. Why don't you give everyone a proper break and go out today? The cooks have alerted me; they are low on fish. Why don't you go fishing for them?"
Estel spoke up at this, "Ada, can I go with them? Please?" Even if Elrond had wanted to, he couldn't have said no to the little boy's puppy-eyes.
"Of course you can and while they are there they can teach you to swim. You may all leave after you eat and prepare. I'll tell the cooks o get a light lunch for you ready."
With that said and done, everyone went back to their meals and light conversations. Elladan and Elrohir exchanged glances.
"'Ro, what just happened?"
"I believe it was decided we should fish today."
"Before or after our pranks?"
"I think it's an alternative. What will Estel be up to during this?"
"I believe are to take him with us."
"Did we agree to this?"
"Yes you did." said Elrond not looking up from his plate. "And I would hate to have to inform your very excited, happy little brother of your sudden change in plans. I believe he would be terribly heartbroken." Elrond gently nudged Estel's foot. He had been listening to his father and brothers and understood instantly what his father wanted him to do.
Schooling his expression to look as sad and pathetic as possible, he stared at the twins with huge, watery eyes and pouty, rosebud lips. The twins caved instantly.
Later that morning, the twins set off with their brother between them, a delicate hand in each of the twin's larger hands. Elladan carried his little brother's fishing pole in his other hand while Elrohir held the bait and their lunch.
Elrond watched as his sons set out for their afternoon of fishing. Finally, peace would be restored for the day, even if it would only be a temporary fix.