He could feel the measure of the gazes. The steadiness and curiosity.
Glorfindel, carefully copying out a page of text to a new parchment, didn't look up. "The floors are chilly tonight, little ones. Why don't you come closer to the fire and out of the drafty entry?"
For in Imladris there are no doors to bar the way, or keep the fresh air from breathing through the rooms.
The patter of small elven feet on stone made the Elf Lord smile slightly as he dipped his pen in the ink. He knew without looking who had been spying on him. Slanting a look down, he let the smile show on his face as he beheld two pairs of very large dark blue eyes in round faces staring at him. "Here now…" Glorfindel set the pen down, wiping his hands on his leggings as he turned slightly to face the twin sons of Elrond. "What is the occasion for such solemn faces? Have you finally been sent out of Imladris for being naughty again?"
The small boys shook their heads, long dark hair drifting around their shoulders. Yet still, both were silent, only gazing at the Eldar.
Pursing his lips, Glorfindel considered the twins. "Has a dragon come in the night and stolen your voices?" For it was very late at night, and both boys should be long abed.
A tiny quirk of a smile appeared on Elrohir's face, dimpling a round cheek. He shook his head vigorously.
Glorfindel nodded thoughtfully, wondering what sort of mood had taken the two as Elladan slowly reached out to trace a very small finger along the back of the older elf's hand. They were usually unstoppable whirlwinds of energy, inseparable and rarely quiet.
Studying the sleep-flushed faces, noting the way Elrohir stood close enough to his brother to touch, shoulder-to-shoulder; the twitch of one small hand, still round with baby fat, as his thumb inched slowly, furtively, towards a tiny mouth ringed by perfect, rosy lips.
Well. There was something he hadn't seen since the child was two! Not that five was such a great age – it was but a blink in the long life of an elf – but both twins had long given up such behaviours as "babyish".
Something must have unsettled them, and badly.
And yet here they stood, dressed only in sleep shifts, dark hair tousled, watching him with huge, dark blue eyes.
Had he grown horns and everyone neglected to tell him? Glorfindel thought that unlikely, but wondered again at the fact the boys had come to him…not their father.
Casting his mind back through memories that stretched to the First Age to recall what could unsettle small elves, the Elf Lord slowly leaned forward, his voice quiet and low. "Was your father telling you tales tonight?"
Elladan nodded, not looking up from his perusal of the elegant long fingers.
Elrohir's thumb had found his mouth and the boy sucked once, then again, eyes pools of darkness as they gazed at the Eldar.
Glorfindel smiled gently, reaching out with the hand Elladan wasn't examining to trace a curve around Elrohir's head, cupping the tiny chin gently. He knew what tales the twins favoured; those of great battles and brave warriors. "Was there a fierce creature in one of those tales?"
Elrohir, unable to nod, pulled his thumb out long enough to whisper, "Yes." Before sticking it back in again. He leaned into the large warm hand as if seeking sanctuary, sidling closer as the older elf slipped his hand around the child's back. Leaning against the elf, the child rested his head against Glorfindel's thigh, watching his brother. He relaxed as Glorfindel began to rub his back gently in soothing circles.
"Which tale was it, Elladan?"
The elder of the twins, by scant minutes, but forever the leader, made a small moue of his mouth as he rested the entire of his hand atop Glorfindel's hand.
Slowly turning his hand so that the small elf had his hand resting in his palm, Glorfindel marveled at the perfection of the tiny hand. They had grown so much since their birth – twins were not that common among elves and the boys had been impossibly small to one unused to babies – but still the boy's hand took only a very small circumference of the Elf Lord's palm.
It wouldn't be long before this hand would be curling around a the bend of a bow, however. Already they had miniature bows that they mostly played with. Elves were born archers. They would learn swordsmanship from one of the finest swordsmen in Middle Earth, for their father, though he was more of a quiet scholar these days, had been a fearsome warrior in previous ages.
Glorfindel's attention was recalled abruptly as Elladan suddenly looked up, gazing directly into his eyes. "Did it hurt?"
The question took the older elf by surprise and he blinked once, trying to discern from the solemn gaze what wound the child was recalling. Glorfindel was no stranger himself to fighting and warfare.
He shook his head slightly, hair cascading around his shoulders in a silken fall of gold. "Did what hurt?"
Biting a tiny lip, Elladan suddenly frowned fiercely. "I would have leaped to attack it! I wouldn't let it hurt you!" The tiny hand curled with surprising strength around Glorfindel's index finger as the boy leaned against the older elf.
Holding the boy's gaze with a solemn look of his own, Glorfindel nodded. "I believe you, Elladan." He knew then which story their father had told them that night. "And with you both helping me, I doubt the Balrog would have lasted as long as it did."
Elladan nodded, face scrunched in a fierce scowl. He looked down suddenly, taking a heaving breath.
A little alarmed, Glorfindel left off rubbing Elrohir's back to stroke back the dark fall of hair covering Elladan's face. "Elladan?" He could feel the boy's chest moving as he drew in gulps of air.
"Fa-Father said…" The boy's lips trembled slightly despite his fierce scowl. "Balrogs are made of fire." He looked up suddenly, eyes brimming with tears and a misery that was palpable. He choked, "Did it hurt?"
Glorfindel's heart melted all over again for the boys.
As if he hadn't been lost from the moment the two had looked at him – truly *looked* and seen him – with their great, dark eyes so full of innocence and trust when Elrond had finally forced him to hold them. He, a great warrior of the First Age, sung of in ballads, killer of Balrogs, and one who had faced death, Mandos' Halls and returning. An Eldar, one of the Wise…
Had been afraid to hold two tiny babies.
Much like their father, however, the boys had worked their way into his affection and now… Now there was little he wouldn't do to keep the twins safe. He would offer his life freely to keep these two from harm and never once regret the choice.
With a sigh, he gathered Elladan up, setting the small elf on his leg before gathering up his twin to sit next to him. Wrapping an arm around each of the boys and holding them against his chest, Glorfindel surrendered to a mild frown.
This wasn't precisely a favoured subject of his. The memories, though old, were still sharp with the smell of acrid smoke and withering heat. The smell of his own hair and skin as it had caught fire, melting, was forever seared into his memory.
Shaking free of the pain, the elf nodded, seeing Elladan watching him with eyes that missed little. If anything.
Just like his father.
"Yes, it did." He wouldn't lie to them. Even at this age, they could understand and spot a lie. "But it was soon over."
That wasn't precisely truth, but there was no reason to go into gory details. Especially when the barest telling of the tale had led them here to him deep in the night.
Elrohir rested his head back against the Eldar's shoulder, eyes beginning to droop. "And the eagle came and got you." He patted the arm wrapped securely around him. "And carried you up to the others."
"Thorondor." Glorfindel nodded. Not that he recalled the event. He had fallen from the narrow mountain path with the Balrog, plunging to the bottom. He had been dead already though, soul and spirit fleeing his broken, burned body.
Elladan scrunched his little nose up, twisting his head to look up at Glorfindel. "Father said they buried you there." No small amount of confusion and the ever-present curiosity filled his expression. "Did you ever go back?"
Glorfindel shook his head. "No." He smiled softly. "That all took place a very long time ago. There would be nothing there to see but mountain soil and rocks."
"'Cause he's here now, so he can't be there." Elrohir patted the large arm again fondly, proud of his logic.
Elladan gave his twin a scowl that slowly faded as he clearly thought it out. With a tiny shrug, he looked up again. "Gofi, are there still Balrogs in Middle Earth?"
He hadn't heard the twins use that name for him since they had truly learned to speak. When they had been too young for such a long name, and still communicating with their own twinnish form of language, they had dubbed him 'Gofi'.
A name that had sent Elrond into a fit of laughter that the handsome and dashing blonde Elf Lord had not found overly amusing.
Sighing again for the many questions of young elves who ought to be in bed, Glorfindel cuddled the twins. "If there are, your father and I will keep them far from Imladris, I promise you that."
Pursing his lips, looking startlingly like his sire for a moment, Elladan nodded and leaned back, content in that answer.
Glorfindel found he was loathe to move, content to hold the small, warm boys against him, listening as their breathing slowed and deepened. Bending his head, he pressed a kiss to first one then the other's hair, closing his eyes to lock the moment forever in his memory.
A rustle of fabric alerted him to another approaching his room and he looked up to find Elrond in the arch of the entry.
Leaning against the carved wood of the arch, the Lord of Imladris regarded his oldest friend and sons with a soft smile. "I thought they might seek you."
"And you sent no warning?"
Shaking his head at the other elf's attempt to shake off his most obvious affection for the twins, Elrond crossed his arms. "Celebrian is unhappy with me for upsetting them with that tale."
The blonde elf arched one eyebrow in silent commentary but said nothing else. The downward turn of his mouth said all he felt on that matter.
"They were quite upset to discover the elf in the tale was the same as is living in their home." Elrond's expression softened to fondness. "Upset that their Gofi had been bested by a Balrog."
With a tiny frown, Glorfindel looked down at the twins he held. "I was not bested," he answered testily, mindful to be quiet. The blue eyes bored into Elrond, daring him to contradict the statement.
"No," Elrond agreed affably. "Gofi." A low rumble as the Elf Lord chuckled at his friend's fierce scowl.
The scowl turned to a wry smile as Elrohir sighed in his sleep, yet once again patting his arm, and mumbling, "Gofi."
Elrond spun away in a flurry of burgundy robes and dark hair, but Glorfindel could hear him as he fled out into the garden, laughing.
The elf sighed, shaking his head, looking up to where he knew Eärendil sailed the night sky, the silmaril bright on his brow. "Cannot you do something about your son?"
No answer forthcoming, Glorfindel slowly stood, carefully shifting the twins who slept blissfully on, unaware.
Odds were good these two would grow up to be just like their sire, with the same warped sense of humor.
"I came back from Valinor for this?" Plotting ways to get back at his friend, Glorfindel carried his two small charges back to their room, putting them in bed and kissing their foreheads before straightening.
Never one to stay in a foul mood long, Glorfindel smiled and left the room.
He stretched, reaching his arms up to ease the muscles in his back, as he considered what retribution to enact upon Elrond.
And yet…it was good to hear his often too solemn friend laugh.
Even at his own expense.
Glorfindel wandered back to his desk and stood, looking down at the text he was copying. Sitting, he carefully set the drying parchment aside and took up a new, fresh piece. With a small nod the elf dipped his pen in the ink and began to draw, carefully detailing the picture.
Beak that could crush elf and man with ease, open in a defiant, proud screel.
Under the drawing he wrote, 'Thorondor, Lord and King of the Eagles' in flowing Sindarin.
Glorfindel nodded. After it had dried he would hang it in the twins room for them to find in the morning.
A much better memory of the tale than a fiery Balrog.
Or the elf who had perished in the slaying of the creature.
A better memory for all.
Disclaimer: J.R.R. Tolkien created them and the heirs to his estate own the rights. I'm obsessed with the elf left out of the film who always seems to be there in the books, quietly waiting in the background, usually near Elrond. Written in 2002.