Not for the first time, Elladan wished he had his brother’s facile tongue. Despite the bright smile that she held on her face, he could quite easily read the wistfulness that clouded her hazel eyes. He cursed his own clumsiness in handling her admission that her mother had been scheming towards Tindomiel’s marriage to either he or his brother. He wondered briefly if Tindomiel was telling the truth about neither of them being her mother’s primary focus, or if she was merely too embarrassed to admit to either. He quickly abandoned this unproductive train of thought, and cast about in his mind for a comment to banish the sadness from her eyes.
“I am certain my mother felt much the same about us,” he said kindly, “Hardly a day went by we were not up to some mischief or another.”
A squeal of laughter caused hazel eyes and grey to glance again back in the direction of Elrohir.
“Come to think of it,” Elladan continued wryly, “Some things will probably never change.”
“Perhaps,” Tindomiel said, her eyes twinkling beguilingly. No wonder her mother named her for the dawn, Elladan thought bemusedly. “But you must admit that mischief is much more kindly looked upon among the males of the species rather than ladies.”
“No one could look upon you, my lady Tindomiel, with anything but kindness,” he said quietly, uncertain whether or not she heard him, until he looked again into her eyes, and saw the pleased surprise that rested there. He reflected that she would never be able to hide her emotions. She was far too open, and every nuance of emotion radiated from her eyes. “But you are probably right,” he said briskly, “It is a pity. I know Arwen was always punished for much smaller infractions than we were.”
“Arwen got into mischief?” Tindomiel asked, wide eyed in astonishment, though she could not hide the amused glitter in her eyes. “My dear staid Arwen? It cannot be! I always had to coerce her shamefully to get her to accompany on my . . . adventures.” She grinned impishly, revealing the slightest of dimples at the corner of her pink lips.
“I’d imagine that Arwen’s view of mischief was quite tame compared to yours,” Elladan laughed at her, sending another thrill through her body.
“I suppose you could call trying to run away to Imladris wild. You see, she told me so much about it that I was positively dying to see it. I was all of seventy, and by that time I was quite desperate for a real adventure. She was just as excited as I when I suggested we go visit, until that is, I formed the intention of going just the two of us. For some reason she balked at that. Something about Orcs in the mountains, I can’t imagine why that would bother her.” Tindomiel grinned broadly now, openly courting his laughter. “Unfortunately my parents got wind of it, and informed my Lord and Lady that their granddaughter was planning to run away.” She paused thoughtfully, “I am really quite amazed that Lady Galadriel tolerated my friendship with your sister. For there was never really any doubt in anyone’s mind that I was the force behind it all.”
“Perhaps because Arwen adamantly insisted that on this occasion it was she who formed the plan,” Galadriel’s calm voice drifted back to the two younger Elves, who looked up, Tinel with no little astonishment. “She claimed that it was her dreadful homesickness which made her talk you into taking her home.” She paused and continued wryly, “As my granddaughter usually did not hesitate to incriminate you, we believed her.”
Tinel knew her mouth was hanging open rudely, but she could not at the moment help it. Arwen had lied for her?
One of the reasons that Tinel had been so shocked at Arwen’s choice in a husband had been the fact that in order to do so she had to go against her parents and grandparents. Compared to Tinel Arwen had been incredibly timid, and retiring. More than once one of the lower court ladies had discovered this meekness in the granddaughter of the Lady of the Wood, and tried to use it to their advantage. Tinel had not stood for that, defending her friend against all attempts to walk over her. Therefore it had come as a great shock to her that Arwen had the resolution to stand in the face of her family’s disapproval to marry a mortal, and give up her immortality with it.
The lady followed Tinel’s thoughts quite easily, “Indeed, you were not the only one surprised by her sudden resolution. But it appears now that it had been growing steadily. Probably under your influence.”
Tinel flushed, unsure how to interpret this remark. If it was indeed her influence, then Lady Galadriel could hardly be pleased, for that resolution had led her grandchild to choose to die.
Her shame must have shown, for Elladan spoke up, “Lady Tindomiel, you must not blame yourself in any way!”
“My child, I am grateful for that fact,” Galadriel said softly. “Undomiel’s choice was hers to make, and I am glad she had the strength to make the choice that would bring her the most happiness, for it was a difficult path to choose. No, I do not regret at all that you were such an influence on my dear Undomiel.”
Tinel looked up to see those intense blue eyes smiling softly into hers, and could not help but smile in return. “I am glad. I should not like to think that it was because of me that she chose so disastrous a course.”
“Lady Tindomiel, it would have been even more disastrous had she chosen otherwise,” Elladan said softly. “But don’t tell my brother or father I said that, for they do not see it that way.”
“Lady Tindomiel is it?” said a playful voice from just behind Elladan, who turned to see his brother, sitting nonchalantly upon his palomino stallion, an angry glitter deep in his grey eyes, though he hid it much better than Tinel would have. No one but Elladan would have remarked it. Elladan sighed heavily, Elrohir had obviously heard his remarks. “Very formal aren’t we?” Elrohir continued lightly, belying the light in his eyes, “After all, our mothers were the best of friends. Give me leave, my dear, to use your charming name, Shining-Star.”
“Gladly my lord,” Tinel laughed, mercurial in her mood, “Since you have, unless my memory fails me, already made free with it.”
“And my brother also,” Elrohir, his voice hardening nearly imperceptibly on the word brother, though again only Elladan noticed. “I know he will not ask, so I must do it for him. And let us have no more of this ‘My Lord’ business either. We are Elladan and Elrohir to you, nothing more.” He paused and continued with mischief in his gaze, “Though if you can think of anything better than the “Dan” and “Ro” Arwen gave us, you are quite welcome to use less.”
“El?” Tinel suggested, her eyes wide with mock innocence, drawing loud laughter from Elrohir, and a smile from Elladan. Why doesn’t he laugh again? she wondered, before her attention was again taken by Elrohir.
“Have you ever been in the Misty Mountains before Tinel?” he asked gaily.
“No, save for the occasion of Arwen’s wedding I have never been beyond Lothlorien.”
“What never?” he cried in mock horror, “Well, it is good that you are come now. It is almost a pity that Elessar has done such a good job of getting rid of the orcs. We have had some good sport in the past, have we not Elladan?”
“Indeed,” Elladan said.
“You shoot, or use knives Tinel?” Elrohir asked.
“I actually know a bit of swordplay, but I prefer to shoot,” she replied, “My father taught me at first, though lately I’ve been working with Rumil and Orophin.”
“You’ve been doing what?” Lady Galadriel inquired, turning gracefully in her side-saddle.
“Er . . .” Tinel floundered helplessly.
“Come now Grandmother,” Elrohir cried grandly, “Don’t tease Tinel so. You know that you are a very good shot yourself!”
To Tinel’s astonishment Galadriel smiled at his audacity. “Ah, but what I do is far different from what her mother would approve,” that lady said gently.
“My mother could not disapprove of anything you do, my lady,” Tinel said earnestly, “In any case I did start my training with my father.”
“Did your mother know of your training with your father?” Galadriel asked, still smiling, “And somehow I think that your mother’s approval carried little weight with you.”
Tinel flushed, “I would much rather have it than not,” she said quietly.
Galadriel’s smile grew, “That is good child,” she said, and turned to her grandsons, “Elrohir, Elladan, come keep me company. I believe my lord wishes to speak a while with Tindomiel.”
The brothers exchanged glances, and urged their mounts forward as Celeborn let his white stallion fall back. He smiled at Tinel.
“Well Tinel,” he said gently, “I gather from your question to Elladan earlier that you have not reconciled yourself to crossing the Sea.”
“No Uncle, I am afraid I have not,” she hesitated, “I cannot even say for certain why. To be sure there is much that I have not seen, and would wish to, and there is much that I love, but it is not only that. Valinor is so . . . final. Perhaps if I had lived when we could come and go I should not be so anxious, but . . . I love this land too much still to wish to leave it behind forever.”
“You heard that the sons of Elrond intend to remain. Their father wishes to go to my daughter, so he shall sail, but I find . . . that I too . . . am not ready to abandon Middle Earth. I shall not remain long, for I do not wish to be long separated from my lady but . . .” He stopped as Tinel cried out impulsively.
“Oh Uncle! You mean I can stay!” her eyes were glowing, and if they had been standing on solid ground she would have flung her arms around him. “Thank you!”
He smiled in amusement, “If nothing else, Valinor would be decidedly dull without your brightness,” he said tenderly, “For even if I were not staying, I would not bid you come until your heart says it is time. But I will stay, and perhaps, when it is time for me to depart as well, you will at last be ready.”
“I love you Uncle,” Tinel said happily, her eyes glittering with tears of joy, and her affection radiating from her whole countenance.
I wonder which of my grandsons will capture that affection, thought Celeborn, who had realized immediately that both Elladan and Elrohir had been much affected by his little adopted niece. He only hoped that whatever decision she made in the end, it would not drive the brothers apart.