They found him lying at the foot of a pond one moonlit night.
Barely a month had passed since Cilyawen, the maiden of the passage, had wed Elrohir, son of Elrond of Imladris, and the entire Elven city of Rivendell found that it made for great sport to tease the couple. Arwen did not take part in the teasing, but she was in the miniscule minority. It was mostly to escape from the endless jokes and laughs that followed the obviously utterly in love pair that Elrohir and Cilyawen made their way outside that moonlit night and into the gardens.
“Finally, some privacy!” Cilyawen sighed happily and looked up at the sky. “This has got to be one of the most beautiful nights I’ve ever seen here.” Elrohir put his arms around her, and she relaxed against him. “Are you sure no one’s going to jump out of the bushes and ask if we can see anything besides each other yet?” she asked, tilting her head up so she could look at her husband.
“Positive,” Elrohir answered. “Arwen made this garden for herself, me, and Elladan, and we kept it a secret between the three of us. She’s nice enough to not tease, and if Elladan gets out of bed, I’ve gotten everything ready for him to make the acquaintance of a lovely bit of cold water.”
Cilyawen swatted his hand playfully. “I swear, you aren’t at all grown up! Are you sure you’re past your thousandth year?” Elrohir laughed, caught her hands, and pulled her over to a small pond, where a willow tree dipped its branches into the still water. Cilyawen caught her breath at the sight. “Elrohir, this is beautiful!” she breathed, unwilling to break the stillness with any sound above a whisper.
“Isn’t it?” he agreed happily. “It’s Arwen’s favorite part of this garden, but I thought you should see it.” Cilyawen smiled and stretched up to kiss him quickly. It turned into a much longer kiss, though, when both of them realized at the same time that this was the first kiss they had shared since marrying when they had been certain that they had complete privacy. When they finally let each other up for air, it was only a quick moment before they kissed again.
Then a piece of the pond’s ink-black shadows groaned, and they sprang apart, both scared and angry. Hands joined, they stared wide-eyed at the shadow as it stirred very slightly, and uttered another low groan.
It took only a few moments before Elrohir realized what it was. “Elbereth Starkindler!” he gasped, his hand tightening in shock on his wife’s. “Cilyawen, it’s a child!”
Cilyawen dropped Elrohir’s hand and ran over to the child. Elrohir heard her catch her breath, and when she turned back and looked at him, her face was white with shock and her eyes looked haunted in a way that they hadn’t been since she was newly rescued from Dol Guldur. “Elrohir, please – get Arwen, he needs help!” Confronted by Cilyawen’s pale face and shaking voice, Elrohir did not think twice before wheeling around and racing back to the house. Cilyawen watched him go. A cold fear slid over her, and she looked quickly around at the darkness. Don’t be stupid, she remonstrated with herself nervously. How could Orcs get here without anyone else having sent us a warning? It was scanty comfort when their handiwork was all too plainly laid before her eyes in this young boy.
She brushed the matted and sweat-damp brown hair off his temple, revealing a small pointed ear. Her horror increased – he was an Elf. Her eyes took in his emaciated body, his sunken eyes, and the plethora of bruises and slashes on his face. His left wrist was twisted at an odd angle – it was doubtless a souvenir of an Orc torture chamber. She had seen the effects of their work before. But this poor boy seemed to have been the showcase of the best torturing processes they could dream up. Save for a clumsy and filthy cloth bandage on his wrist, he was utterly naked, and caked with grime. Tear tracks ran down his face, which Cilyawen presumed would be quite finely featured were it not for the effects that hunger and agony had had upon it. Fierce fury welling up in her, she pulled off her cloak and laid it gently over him. A tiny breath eased out of him, and she thought he might have relaxed under the cloak, still warm from the heat of her body.
There were footsteps lightly running toward her, accompanied by a pinpoint of light – Arwen must have grabbed a lantern. She turned around and saw Arwen, followed closely by Elrohir. Each of them had brought a cloak, and Cilyawen spread both the new ones over the boy. “He’s been tortured by Orcs,” she whispered, her voice still shaking. “We have to get him inside – he’ll die otherwise.”
Elrohir leaned down and gently slipped an arm under the boy’s neck. “Wrap his arms around my neck,” he whispered; Arwen set down the lantern and hurried to comply, carefully lifting each limp arm and linking the boy’s fingers together behind Elrohir. “Cilyawen, get his feet,” Elrohir instructed, and his wife scooped them up carefully. “Here, Arwen.” Her brother handed her the lantern. “Lead the way.” Holding the lantern high, Arwen led Elrohir and Cilyawen back to Elrond’s house, picking her way along the barest paths to make it easier for the unconscious boy’s bearers.
“Go on in,” she whispered at last, pushing open the door. Elrohir and Cilyawen slipped inside – Arwen followed and locked the door behind them. They made their way up the stairs and into Elrohir and Cilyawen’s room. Once inside, Arwen set down the lantern as her brother and her cousin lowered the boy gently into their bed. Then Arwen turned – and her breath caught in her throat as she looked at the boy with the aid of light. Cilyawen too saw things she hadn’t been able to see in moonlight alone – the black “bruises” under both his eyes were in fact pockets of trapped blood, and his broken left wrist’s unnatural angle was much more obvious. She gripped Elrohir’s hand reflexively, every fiber of her being in unconditional sympathy for the boy. “What can we do for him?” Arwen finally asked.
“We can – we can take care of the wounds we can see,” Cilyawen said, thinking out loud. “We must keep him here until he recovers. That wrist – we need to see if it can be set, and we can probably find some kind of salve for those bruises.”
“He needs clothes,” Elrohir pointed out.
“I’ll go wake Father,” Arwen volunteered, and slipped out of the room. Cilyawen made instantly for her closet, pulled out one of her shifts, and started tearing it quickly into cloth strips. Elrohir prized up a floorboard, and between the two of them, they splinted the boy’s arm neatly.
“Are there any clothes he can have?” Cilyawen whispered, slipping the thick quilt out from under him and laying it tenderly over his thin body.
“There must be mine and Elladan’s old things,” Elrohir answered. “I’ll go see if I can find them.” He opened the door to find his sister and Elrond just reaching for the doorknob. “Go on in,” he said quietly, and slipped past them.
Elrond gave the boy a long look. He drew near to the bed and, gently removing the quilt and cloaks, examined the boy’s body. Cilyawen came to stand beside Arwen, clinging to her cousin’s hand for comfort. Arwen, knowing too well what the sight of the boy must do to her, gamely allowed Cilyawen to crush the bones of her hands to powder. Finally Elrond spoke. “I think he can make it,” he said hoarsely. Arwen, startled at the sound of his voice, looked closely at her father and understood the twist of his mouth and the tight line of his jaw. He was trying not to think of Celebrian, of the fact that this had been done to her as well as the unknown boy who lay unconscious before him. She pried her hands out of Cilyawen’s and took Elrond’s. The Lord of Rivendell gave his daughter a grateful glance before he went on. “He will need to rest, and to be tended at all times, but if he is strong enough and has good care, I think he will live to avenge himself.” Cilyawen let out an explosive gasp of relief at his words.
The door opened, and Elrohir came back in with three pairs of pants, two shirts, an overtunic, boots, and more cloaks. He quickly dropped his load beside the bed and shot a quick glance of inquiry at his father. “He may yet live,” Elrond repeated, and every muscle in Elrohir’s face loosened.
“I will take care of him,” Cilyawen said. Her voice was quiet, but no one thought for an instant to suggest that someone else have the job. “What must I do, Uncle?”
“Not alone, you won’t!” Elrohir reminded her with a touch on her arm. She looked up gratefully at her husband and revised her question, “What must we do?”
Elrond opened his mouth to enumerate the care that the boy must receive when Arwen jumped and pointed to the bed. The boy was sitting up, cloaks and quilt fallen from him. His face and chest were soaked with sweat, and his large blue eyes were as wild as any animal’s. “Naneth! Adar!” he cried madly. Arwen’s hand flew to her mouth – he was calling for his parents. He repeated his wild cries twice more, and then fell abruptly silent. He stared around the room, his chest heaving with the heavy breaths he took, and his eyes feral in their pure, instinctive terror.
Cilyawen stepped to the side of his bed. The boy flung out a hand at her face as she drew near, but she ducked under it and murmured soothingly. Slowly some of the wildness left his eyes, but he swallowed hard with barely-controlled fear. “Naneth?” he repeated, more confused than frantic.
“No,” Cilyawen whispered. “No, I’m not Naneth.”
“Where is she?” the boy demanded tremulously. “Where – where is…” He gasped suddenly, and sank back down onto the bed.
Cilyawen put out a hand and gently stroked his brown hair. Tears stung her eyes as she whispered, “Hush, you’re safe now. You’re safe, and we’ll find Naneth and Adar, I promise!”
The boy looked up at her, his eyes dulled. “No. No, you won’t. No one can find them now.”
Cilyawen closed her eyes tightly for a few moments. When she opened them, the boy was asleep as suddenly as he had woken.
She swallowed hard, then turned from the boy and looked back at Elrond. “We will tend to him,” she repeated. “What must we do?”