This fic is more about Elladan, but it is meant to convey how Elladan needs Rian so he can continue on and function. Elladan and Rian are not two characters I write a lot about or even write a lot from their viewpoints anymore so this small story was a bit of a challenge, but also allowed me to revisit them.
Below there are spoliers for the future story, Darkness and Diamonds and for the end of A Journey Begins.
red_ajah, I hope you enjoy this and if you do not, the Ecthelion fic is coming very soon. I am also sorry this got posted so late. ::hugs::
Title: Fighting to Be Warm
Fandom: Tolkien Verse
Arc: Legend, Lore and Lullabies
Characters: Elladan, Elrohir, Rian
Warnings: References to violence.
Fighting to be Warm
'Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."
-Bob Dylan, “Shelter From the Storm”
Imladris, TA 2953
Elladan and Elrohir rode back into their river valley home, throwing silent signs to the sentries hidden in the trees along the way. It was dark, a late night even for elves, and most of the lamps in the valley in the house were either turned down to a shimmer or completely dark. Even the fires burned low at this hour.
The orc activity was increasing again and it required increased travels for information. It also required a heartier defense of the borders and an increase of activity they had not seen in Imladris for years. He and Elrohir were regaining skills they had lost in the peaceful years and learning even more ways of riding through the world undetected. On this past patrol it was not only orc and goblin they were forced to kill but men. Wildmen out of the forests who were taking up with the dark forces for a future they feared. It never sat well with Elladan, taking the life of a man, knowing they shared a similar ancestor, but as a warrior he knew that it was truly kill or be killed.
It did not make the blood any easier to wash off.
He was tired, soul weary to be honest, and all he truly desired was a respite from his duties.
“Go to the house,” Elrohir said, “I will take our horses to the stable.”
“Are you certain?” Elladan asked.
Elrohir smirked. “Give me your pack, brother, and go enjoy what is left of your night,” he said. He dismounted and held out his hands to take Elladan’s pack and reins.
Elladan eagerly gave both over. “I will repay your kindness one day,” he promised.
“Not for some time yet,” Elrohir murmured. “Shoo,” he said, “off with you.”
Elladan conjured up a wide smile for his brother before following his orders and sprinting down the walkways to the house.
Elladan walked the length of the quarters which held Erestor’s family, Morwen and Rian. Thalion once held quarters here before he moved. Tirnion’s rooms were here now, while Glorfindel’s own set were on the same wing as the immediate blood family. Security measures as Glorfindel term it, paranoia as Elrohir insisted. Still, it quite amused him to see the formality of their adult housing when they all came from the same nursery.
A low light burned under the threshold of Erestor’s quarters and soft whispers escaped through the door’s cracks. Eluialeth’s room also had a light under its door and the turning of pages could be heard. Morwen’s new quarters were dark and quiet, but with the coming of Autumn and a wound that flared up on cold nights, he would not be surprised if she slept in the Healing Halls, Tirnion as the ever watchful guide at her side.
He came at last to Rian’s door and knocked in a code developed long ago. Elladan held his breath as she opened the door. He was ever so thankful that she allowed him to have this familiarity again. He did not know how he’d get through nights like this without her.
“You look terrible,” she said. She pulled him inside and sat him down at her washing basin. “At least you refrained from falling into a mud pile this time.”
“Not for the lack of my horse’s trying.”
Rian huffed and poured water in the basin. She picked up a brush and stood behind him, pulling out the leather ties in his hair. She poked his arm. “You are more than capable of washing your face and hands while I brush out this bird’s nest that is your hair. Don’t make me do all the work,” she said.
Elladan laughed, but did as she said. He dared not to look at the dark swirls in the formerly clear bowl of water. He drowsed as she worked the brush through his hair, her movements swift and sure.
“Do you want to tell me about it?” she asked. She put the brush down and tilted his head up.
“You need a shave.”
“Later, on both accounts,” he answered. “I just wish to rest, with you, here.”
Rian stared into his eyes, seeming to do her best to gauge his mind. She nodded after a moment and leaned down, pressing a kiss to his lips. She pulled back and smiled down at him. “Get ready for bed, I will go down to the kitchens and gather some refreshments for us since you are not in the mood for company tonight.”
He nodded. “Thank you,” he whispered.
Rian traced his brow with a warm finger. “I am glad, as always, that you have returned to me, in safety and good enough health.”
He reached out and gripped her hand, the cool metal of her engagement ring pressing into his fingers. “I made you a promise and I intend to keep it.”
“Be certain you do,” she said. She squeezed his hand before making her way to the door and leaving.
He sighed, pressing his drying hands over his face. He regarded his road clothes with a look of disgust. Going to one of the chest of drawers, he pulled out a clean pair of wool hosen and changed for bed. Rian still had yet to return, so Elladan wandered the room. He had spent so much time in here, from his youth until now. There were items from both of their lives strewn all about, Rian’s embroidery mixing with his extra bows and knives. One of his cloaks sat over a chair, waiting to be mended since Arwen was again in Lothlorien. Turning from the room, he walked over to the balcony, pushing open the doors and surveying the land below.
He remembered well the stories of Imladris' founding. How his father, Erestor, Glorfindel, and Lindir ran throughout the countryside with a following of warriors and a group of survivors in search of a sanctuary. The tales of how the trees bent to reveal the path to the river valley, how the waters rose and increased in their noise to protect them, how the very earth answered their call for a safe place to rest filled his childhood. This land, the valley and its inhabitants, remained one of the best representations of what his father could and would do when it came to the protection of those he loved and for whom he felt responsibility. Elladan could not imagine how he bore that weight, when he found himself struggling with the requirements of protecting the people of Arda while killing his mortal cousins. He never imagined it could be so different when the blood he spilled was a familiar red rather than a dark and unknown ooze.
"I never understood why people stare off into the distance, as if the skies will reveal answers to their questions and worries. I have always been of the mind that there is more mystery present in a night sky than revelation," Rian said. She carried a small tray in her hands, shaking him off when he moved to help her. "Stay there contemplating the unknown, I must go back down for the drinks."
"Rian, I can help you," he insisted.
"Yes, you can, by staying here and contemplating your mood so that when I return you will be ready to talk and perhaps receive comfort."
Elladan smiled. "If you insist."
"I do," she said with narrowed eyes, "this is me insisting." She left the room with a flourish, leaving Elladan to laugh at her departure.
He turned back to the outdoors and did, finally, look up at the sky. If the tales were true, and having met Glorfindel and Mithrandir he had no reason to believe they were not, his grandfather was up there, driving through the night in a ship among the stars, navigating a whole different sea. So many relied on the light of his star to guide them, an act and a duty that apparently reverberated down the family line, all the way to Estel. Whenever he dwelled on the weight of his own title he found himself remembering that Estel bore in his care a fate no one would want or choose. To have to fulfill the promise and repair the foolish acts of events millennia in the past was almost too much to contemplate and ask of one young mortal. Was it any wonder that Estel spent so much of his time donning the names, lives, and disguises of other people? Ever since his majority he claimed to feel that his life was not his own and now, in an almost rejection of the cost of his fate, he assumed many different garbs, lives, names, tongues, and homes. Of all the Heirs of Isildur, Estel was the dearest to the whole household and having to admit that he was no longer their Estel, but Arda’s Aragorn as well, was becoming more difficult as the years passed.
Never had Elladan felt more weighed down by his elvish lifespan and what that truly meant. He was not yet ready to watch the funeral of another Heir of Isildur but he can only pray that went Estel went it would be with old age and a full life.
“Are you ready to talk now?” Rian asked.
Elladan turned to her. “I did not hear your return,” he confessed. “I am suffering too dark a mood on such a calm night with such beautiful company.” He walked back into the room, leaving the balcony doors open to let in the breeze off the trees and waters. He came to Rian, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his chin on her shoulder. “What delights have you scrounged up from the kitchens for us?”
“Some salted pork and the first batch of muffins for the morning,” Rian said. “Apparently your father’s sweet tooth is acting up again. I would not expect the kitchens to be making muffins so late at night or so early in the morning.”
Elladan laughed. “Father has always snacked on sweets while reading in late night or the early morning. I remember so many mornings waking up to my mother scolding him for getting crumbs in the rooms. By the time of your arrival he had learned to confine such behavior to his studies. I believe he still does it out of respect.”
“As he should,” Rian muttered. “We already have enough mice running through the halls.”
“I shall protect you from the mice,” he whispered into her hair.
“As you should,” she answered. She gestured to the tray. “Now, shall we?”
Elladan reclined on the bed watching Rian turn down all the oil lamps in the room. Knowing it was best to let the cares of his mind out before they both attempted to rest he made the decision to speak what had been darkening his mood for days.
“I had to kill men on this last pass,” he whispered to the room. “I know it is my duty, I know I was meeting them in a fight and they lost, but it does not change the fact that part of my heritage is also part of theirs.”
“You are not related to the Wildmen, Elladan,” Rian said from her armoire. She pulled out the ties of her hair, letting it loose long enough to put in a low and loose plait.
“Do we know that? Can we know that for sure? Surely somewhere along the way, the bloodlines have mixed.”
Rian turned to him, dressed in fresh bedclothes with a resigned but loving look on her face. She sat down next to him on the bed and said, “And yet thousands of years stand between you. Your closet mortal blood relations are the descendants of the Numenoreans, a blood line ancient before you were born. While I admit there is a possibility that some bastard offspring have carried that bloodline into the far corners of Arda, they are not your family. No longer.” Rian took a deep breath and continued, “You know my general feelings in regard to the Race of Men. They butchered my family, they cut Tirnion’s father into pieces, more than one has taken it upon him or herself to capture and torture an elf. That being said, I know there are great numbers of good mortals out there, and not just hobbits or rural warriors like Bard. You are allowed to feel regret for the taking of a life, as any creature mortal or elf-kind should, but you cannot let that regret consume you.”
“You abhor killing and violence and yet you still stay with me,” Elladan whispered. He ran a finger down her pale face, letting his hand tangle in strands of her red hair that had come loose. “I often wonder what good deed I’ve done in life to deserve you, or rather what horrid deed you’ve done to end up with me.”
Rian pressed her lips to his. “There is no one else for either of us,” she whispered, her breath warming him. “You are home, Elladan, and in our bed. Here there is no ranger, no warrior, no councilor, no lord’s son, no orphaned daughter. It is just us, just our world, and here we are both as unblemished as children.” She ran a hand through Elladan’s hair, pulling the tangles out. “Here we find rest and sanctuary.”
“Leave my cares at the door?” Elladan asked, tilting his chin up for another kiss.
“That is the general idea,” Rian agreed. She kissed him, pulling away from him only long enough to make sure the balcony doors were shut and secure. Joining him back in bed, she rested her head on his chest. “I wish you calm dreams,” she whispered, pressing a kiss right above his heart.
“I know they will be sweet dreams, since I share this bed with you,” he replied.
“Such a flatterer. Even if they are not so sweet, I hope you find rest tonight.”
“I am certain I will.”
He woke in the morning secure in Rian’s arms. It was a luxury he rarely experienced these days, as he wandered the world with the Dunedain and met out with Estel in the wild.
“Are you rested?” Rian whispered into his neck.
“Yes,” he said with a smile. “I wish we could stay here all day. For once I wish to just put aside my duties and rest.”
“Truly?” Rian asked.
“I think we have both earned a day of rest. I suggest you go seek out your brother to deliver a report to Glorfindel and your father. I will beg Eluialeth to take over my workload.”
“She will consider that a reward,” he muttered.
Rian nodded. “Some find great joy in their work, and surely Eluialeth does, but I believe she also uses it for an escape now that Tirnion is in residence and her conflicted feelings force her to avoid him at every turn.” She forced herself out of bed. “We have all day to linger, but let us give our notice now.”
He laughed and followed her movements, pressing a kiss to her cheek in passing. “I shall always do as my lady bids.”
Elladan stood in the doorway of his brother’s study. It had taken years for Elrohir to work up the nerve to ask for his own private work sanctuary, but as Estel spent more time out in the Wild, and as more of the Dunedain passed through Imladris on their own journeys, Elrohir had appointed himself the organizer and keeper of their knowledge. He finally understood why their father needed all those bookshelves, desk, and ledges.
“Is there a reason you are lingering on the threshold of my study?” Elrohir asked. He was sitting on the floor, leaning against his desk, organizing various bottles and tins of herbs and salves into the miniature emergency healing kits he often delivered to the Dunedain outposts and villages.
“Sometimes I find myself deriving joy from watching you at your tasks. It reminds me of the days when our mother used to stand to the side of your desk and scold you for sticking out your tongue as you attempted to complete a most difficult translation,” he answered.
Elrohir glanced up. “It is good to know I bring you such joy in our childhood recollections.” He picked up the wax tablet on his side and pressed in a mark with his stylus before moving on to the next kit. “Do you have any other reason for seeking me out so early in the morning?”
“I throw myself on your mercy and beseech you to remember our brotherly affection and ask you to deliver the report from out latest outing to Glorfindel, Erestor, and our father. I am eager for a day of rest and as Rian has decreed it shall be so, I would not dare to disappoint her.”
Elrohir laughed. “Oh no, we must never disappoint Rian. That way lies screeching and fire.” Elrohir tapped the stylus against his lips. “She does have magnificent aim with a flaming bag of herbs, to be sure. I wonder if we should work that into some sort of defense training.”
Elladan raised a brow. “That is your future sister-in-law you mock and you know how thin these walls are, it will get back to her.”
Elrohir nodded solemnly. “It is a risk I am willing to take. Rian is well acquainted with our family and knows that mocking comes with the membership. However, as I do believe you are in need of a rest I will agree to your pleading and Rian’s demands. Furthermore, it will allow another chance for Glorfindel and I to have a mock argument. I think this time I shall bring up his besmirching of Morwen’s virtue.”
“Oh, they both so dislike when you do that,” Elladan groaned.
“But it keeps the rumor mills turning and more and more believe that they are truly ended. It is what we must do for protection’s sake.” Elrohir stood and hugged him quickly. “I am glad to see you found rest and it is good to see you smile. Now go enjoy your day off.”
Elladan returned his embrace. “I intend to. Do not bother us for anything short of a kin slaying,” he said.
“I shall put the word out,” Elrohir promised.
Elladan left his brother to his work and headed back to Rian’s quarters.
“Look who decided to join the patrol,” Tirnion called out. He was gathered outside the stables with the other warriors for the patrol, loading up their horses and their packs.
He had agreed to take Elrohir’s place on this patrol as a favor for yesterday, but that was a decision he knew he was going to regret. Some patrols were nothing but long rides full of gossiping elves.“We all deserve a day of rest,” Elladan replied. He greeted his horse, the animal eager for another ride out after a day of idleness. Elladan to was ready. He felt rejuvenated and ready for another month’s worth of patrol after such a day in the presence of Rian.
“A day of rest with our fiancée, if gossip from the scribes’ quarters are to be believed. I do not know how truly restful that must be,” Crabanon said, passing them by with a sketchbook in hand.
“Shouldn’t you be painting something?” Elladan asked.
“Sketches first,” Crabanon answered. He walked up the staircase leading to the summer garden and left the soldiers beyond with no further comment.
“How did you meet Rian?” Halbarad, one of the visiting Dunedain, asked while he loaded up his own mount.
“We’ve known each other since our childhood,” he answered. “Her family was lost in an attack. Gildor Inglorion brought her to the house to be raised among myself and my brother, Morwen and Thalion.”
“Thalion?” Halbarad asked.
“He lives now in the Grey Havens with his wife and children. He does much with the forces there, while his wife makes beautiful tapestries for the homes and clothing for all those who seek refuge,” he replied.
“Her name is Eregeth, you may have heard her name in passing as she has fashioned many a ceremonial dress for the women of the Dunedain,” Tirnion continued.
“My mother speaks her name in hushed and holy tones,” Halbarad answered.
“She was quite the talent,” he agreed. “Though it took long years to gain it. She was once a simple seamstress, but it seems the sea waters agree with her.”
“So have you have been betrothed since childhood?” Halbarad asked. “That often occurs among my people.”
“No,” Elladan said with a laugh, “no, it was much more gradual and not so easy a journey due to my own misgivings and foolishness, but all is at is should be now.”
“I suppose it fits. Your brother and Councilor Morwen, yourself and Councilor Rian. It is good to know they are not marrying you for your title alone,” Halbarad said.
“I do not know how it is for my brother but for me, Rian is…” he trailed off and gathered his thoughts. “She is the only point of calm in the churning storm that is becoming my life more and more with each day,” he confessed, dropping his gaze to his horse’s mane. “It is my hope we all can find such a companion in their lives.”
“Be careful, Halbarad, if you continue with this line of questioning we will have no tale told on this ride but the great romance of Elladan and Rian,” Thandrog said.
“It was almost a tragedy,” Baineth muttered from her horse. “May we ride now?”
“Tirnion?” Elladan asked.
Tirnion surveyed the patrol group, their horses and their weapons. He gave a nod from where he sat on his mare. “Let us ride.”
“What does she mean, it was almost a tragedy?” Halbarad asked on the ride out.
“That, dear Halbarad, is a story for another night,” Elladan said. He looked up to the house as they rode out. He spotted Morwen and Elrohir from one of the healing room balconies, watching them. There was a flash of orange-red behind Morwen and then Rian appeared, waving them off. Elladan gave them a wave. He turned back to his fellow riders.
It was time to ride out again and he was ready to face whatever waited for them.