Ithil bathed the lovers in silver light. The only sounds that broke the stillness of the night were the gentle whispering and the faint rustle of bed sheets. "I believe now," Elrond whispered.
"What do you believe, meleth?" Gil-galad asked. (Love)
"That the Valar did indeed send something back just for me," Elrond stated before he covered Ereinionís lips with his own once more. Then the soft night air was graced by tender moans and breathless sighs.
Over the next two moons, Gil-galad watched the gwanŻn closely but no opportunities for approach came to him. Not known for his patience, finally Gil-galad snapped, and walking determinedly towards the twins, he asked for a moment of their time. Leading the perplexed pair outdoors, he headed for a private corner of Imladris' vast gardens. Taking a seat, he waved edgily for the twins to seat themselves.
Gil-galad ignored Elladan and Elrohirís frowns and ran a hand through his hair, frustrated, and just started talking. "I have not the skilled tongue of Erestor or the patient wisdom of your Ada, so I am just going to say what is on my mind." At the pair's nod, he continued. "The Valar know of your love for each other and of your bond. They accept it and want you to choose the path of the Eldar and not that of Men." Gil-galadís breath left him in rush, the relief at finally being able to say that to the twins leaving him light-headed.
The twins said not a word, but regarded Gil-galad as if he had grown another head. They appeared stunned, disbelieving, and not a word passed their lips for several moments. Finally Elladan broke the silence, asking the question that was on both their minds. "How do we know this to be true? What if this is some kind of trap to get us to Valinor, only to punish us for our choice?"
Gil-galad flinched. What was he to say? Perhaps the Valar's exact words needed to be revealed. "I do not know what they would have me say to you. All I can do, it seems, is to break the rules they sent me back here under and reveal to you their exact instructions to me. But before I speak further, I must reveal some history. Will you listen?" Gil-galad asked.
Elrohir's face was blank, but Gil-galad could detect a hint of fear in the younger twin's eyes. Elladan, however, looked furious, the elder brother being well known for his shortness of temper. It was to him that Gil-galad's appeal was directed the most. It was Elladan's nod for him to continue that spurred Gil-galad on.
"You know some of the things I will mention, such as your Ada losing his parents at an early age, and that Elros chose the path of Men. Then Elrond faced loss again when I died at the Dark Lord's hands, and finally the passing of your Nana to her retreat over the Sea. The Vala VairŽ had spun heartache after heartache in the tapestry of your Ada's life. After so much loss she felt that it was time the Valar rewarded your Adar for all his sacrifices to Arda. When I was summoned before them, I was given specific instructions as to the reason for my return. I was told not to reveal the reasons to you, but to help you see why I believe that the Valar accepts your love for one another. I am going to break that rule." Gil-galad paused and looked closely at the brethren. They in turn were watching him closely and this time, he received the approval to continue from both Elladan and Elrohir.
"I was to be returned to Elrond because the Valar wanted to give him some happiness and someone to comfort him. Elrond's role in the future of Middle Earth is important, and the Valar could not afford his loss from grief. I speak, of course, of your sister's future choice. Arwen will choose to join her destiny to the world of Man, just as Elros did. Your Ada has seen this, as has Galadriel. You also have had some foresight regarding her future. But what troubled the Valar was that you both had not made your choice, or perhaps that you were hesitant to be counted among the Firstborn. Either way, this worried the Valar, so in addition to my presence providing Elrond with strength and comfort; I was also to seek you out and convince you to accept the gift of the Eldar." Gil-galad mentally winched at that last falsehood, but explaining the subtle manipulations the Valar had employed on him would be a mistake, and not inspire trust in the twin's.
Gil-galad lowered his head, pausing in his telling to gather his thoughts. He was unsure just how much to reveal to the Peredhil twins, but it was Elrohir who asked the question, and Gil-galad could not refuse to answer.
"How did you know of our bond? Elladan and I are careful, and I am curious as to how you discovered our love of one another," Elrohir asked.
Gil-galad regarded the brethren for a moment before he answered. "I had watched as another pair of twins struggled through feelings much like your own, and the aftermath was one of heartbreak. I could not do that once again. So to answer your question, to one who has seen the signs, the secret is known." Gil-galad watched as understand lit the twins' features, and he knew no more needed to be said; they knew of whom Gil-galad spoke.
"So you believe that the Valar truly desire us to choose the path of the Eldar based on their instructions to you upon your rebirth?" Elrohir asked.
"Yes," Gil-galad answered.
"We have longed to be reunited with our Nana someday." Elrohir looked to his silent twin, and something seemed to pass between them. "We will think on all you have said, Gil-galad, and we thank you for approaching us." Elrohir rose and held out a hand to his brother. Of the pair, it was Elladan who appeared the most deeply troubled, and Elrohir seemed to almost tenderly lead his older brother away.
Gil-galad sat silently, watching them depart. He was deeply troubled, wondering if he had handled this task correctly. He only prayed that he had not made the situation worse.
It was with a heavy heart that Gil-galad joined Elrond in their quarters that evening. He had been preoccupied most of the day, his mind turning about what had been said and not said. Gil-galad accepted Elrond's welcoming embrace; if he hung on a little longer and more desperately than normal, Elrond did not remark upon it. Gil-galad inquired of Elrond about his day and honestly tried to listen to what the half-Elf was saying. They both went about refreshing themselves for the evening meal. Gil-galad must have asked the right question because they were able to depart for the dining hall without Gil-galad's absentmindedness being addressed.
The evening meal was as succulent as usual and the company as congenial, with one marked absence; the twins did not join their friends and family that evening. Elrond did not seem upset at their absence, but did direct the servants to take a tray to the brethren's quarters. Gil-galad made it through the evening meal, the after-dinner entertainment in the Hall of Fire, and all the way back to their quarters before Elrond finally spoke of Gil-galad's distraction, but the half-Elf's words were not of inquiry; instead, Elrond shocked Gil-galad.
"So tell me, Ereinion, did you convince my sons to follow the path of the Eldar?" Elrond asked, moving away from Gil-galad to sit on the bed. He watched Gil-galad closely, a slight almost smile upon his face. "Did you think I did not know? I knew before my sons did of their bond and their love for each other."
Gil-galad stumbled towards Elrond sitting heavily next to the Peredhel. "I did not think you knew," he whispered.
Elrond reached for one of Ereinion's hands. "Just as you did not think I knew that the love Elros felt for me was not only the brotherly kind."
Gil-galad knew not what to say. He would have never guessed that Elrond had known of Elros' feelings, or that he would be as accepting of his own sons' relationship as he appeared to be. Gil-galad really did not want to ask, but he had to know. "You knew of your brother's feelings?" At Elrond's nod he continued. "But you did not return his feelings?" Gil-galad tensed, mentally bracing himself for the answer. He could not imagine that Elrond had not returned Elros' love. Never had he seen a bond like theirs, until he witnessed that of Elladan and Elrohir.
Now it was Elrond who looked down, unsure of himself, and so very sad at the memories this conversation invoked.
"By the time I realized what my twin was feeling, it was already too late for us." Elrond raised his eyes to meet Ereinion's gaze, frank honesty and heart-rending sadness in his pewter gaze. "I could not return his love, for I was all ready in love with someone else," he stated simply.
"Me?" Gil-galad whispered.
Elrond nodded and gladly went into Ereinion's embrace allowing those strong arms to comfort him.
To be continued...