A/N: Sorry if this chapter gets a little repetitive! I can’t figure out any other way of doing it.
Fëalas, as Arwen quickly learned, was a spirited Elfling of twenty-nine years (which, according to our standards, would be about fourteen) who had been given the reins of her childhood and, while she was very respectful of authority, had a defiance of normalcy that Arwen found delightful.
The young daughter of Imladris, just two years Fëalas’ junior, had been dreading that Fëalas would be a demure, prim maiden who preferred stitching to weaponry and dancing to riding. However, Fëalas was a balanced mixture of a warrior’s daughter and a lady, someone who readily went out to roll in the mud but cheerfully sat through hours of sewing.
As it turned out, Elrohir suggested that Fëalas and Arwen combine their swordfighting lessons, and he taught them both at the same time. This proved to be a wonderful bonding experience for the twosome, and afterwards they would hasten to clean their swords and then go to one or the other’s room to share more stories of their lives in the separate realms.
Hírilasea remained a mystery to the people of Rivendell. She would take her stallion, Lasseo, into the trees at the far end of the valley and stay for hours. Whenever Elladan saw her, he puzzled over the plaguing enigma that surrounded her. Probably the most disconcertingly unearthly facet of her pale face were her eyes.
The green was a color that Elladan had never seen before. He tried to compare it to emerald grass, evergreen leaves, unopened rose buds, even mallyrn leaves, but nothing would quite fit. He eventually decided that Yavanna had crafted another color just for her.
She spoke little but smiled often, an almost eerie smile that hinted that Hírilasea knew many things beyond normal wisdom. She always wore the native colors of her home, often electing to dress in a supple green tunic and loose brown pants on her lengthy, ever-unaccompanied rides out to the forest.
This day was no different when Elladan thought up a good excuse to go to the stables. Garbed in her roaming attire she was in one of the stalls, grooming the proud stallion she called Lasseo. She was whispering in his ear and the horse whinnied, almost in laughter, as she smiled.
“What did you tell him?” Elladan asked, leaning on the edge of the doorframe. Hírilasea did not cast her gaze upon him, but continued to brush Lasseo’s already-glistening pelt.
“He asked me why you were coming,” she said with a perceptive smile. “But I do not believe you would appreciate my reply.”
Elladan pondered this for a moment. He had always been very deliberate, and processed everything carefully before acting. “I do not think I would be offended.”
Hírilasea’s laughter was gripping in its beauty.
“You are so serious,” she said, getting the better of her mirth. “It really does amuse me, lord. Do not you ever dance beneath the stars or sing to the moon?”
“No,” Elladan confessed. “I do not have time for such frivolities.”
“Frivolities?” Hírilasea laughed again, now turning her captivating eyes upon him. “That it a harsh word. Will not you ride with me? Perhaps I can teach you what it means to sit beneath the trees or walk in the sunlight.”
“I will,” Elladan replied without thinking. He hoped he didn’t sound too hasty, in afterthought, but Hírilasea’s countenance was pleased as she turned back to Lasseo.
Elladan went for his mount, Rocconder. The horse was white, much like Arwen’s stallion, Asfeloth. Elvish horses were, like their owners, immortal, which helped the Elves in that they didn’t need to find a new horse every decade.
Rocconder was larger than Lasseo, Elladan noticed when he joined Hírilasea outside of the stables. The horses of Mirkwood bred to be small and light, so as to be able to move with agility through the trees.
“The trees in your valley are much like the ones at my home,” Hírilasea commented, mounting Lasseo’s bare back with dream-like grace. “Except one. There was a single shoot, still young, near the middle of the forest. It was silver and the new leaves were green edged in gold. I have never seen a tree like it.”
“Ah yes, the fabled mallyrn,” Elladan said as he mounted Rocconder. “Grandmother brought one to us on her last visit, when Arwen was born.”
Their horses were walking at a languorous pace in the direction of the forest, getting along surprisingly well.
“Mallyrn,” Hírilasea mused. “I have never seen, until now. I should like to see the forests of Lothlórien sometime, when the summer is full and the wind gentle.”
“You remind me much of Galadriel,” Elladan thought aloud. “You have her same aura.”
Many have compared me to the Lady of the Dream Flower. Some of my people, who are originally from Lórien, call me Artanis in her honor.
Elladan jumped when he heard her voice in his head. He glanced over to see her gazing ahead, an eloquent smile gracing her pale lips.
“So you speak like my grandmother, too,” he said.
“Yes, but not to many. Only my family.”
“I am not your family,” Elladan replied.
That was all she would say, and Elladan fell silent to puzzle out this enigma of an Elf-maiden. He wondered where she had learnt how to telepathically communicate, considering that the only form of that transmission was between husband and wife, and of course Galadriel’s ways.
Yet even as he glanced over at her, whispering again the Lasseo, he wondered why his heart would thud so in his chest when he caught the faint traces of her smile. Her very presence was enigmatic and still she unknowingly wielded a power over him that was slowly growing.
At last, the thick canopy of trees shaded them and Hírilasea and Elladan dismounted. They left their horses to roam freely, knowing that both would return upon a whistle from their owners.
Hírilasea immediately startled Elladan by disappearing behind him, and when he whirled around in disbelief he heard the sound of her soft laughter above him. He glanced up and cocked an eyebrow at her.
“Will you not come up?” she asked, her voice nearly girlish as she threw out her hand. Elladan took it, and marveled at her smooth skin. He had somehow thought that a woman who constantly forsook the normal activities of a maiden would have rough hands, but not so for Hírilasea. They were not the soft hands of a babe, but nor the callused ones of a seasoned warrior.
Being up in the tree limbs was an entirely new experience from being on the ground. Elladan rarely climbed trees, but Hírilasea became part of the wood itself as she nimbly danced from one branch to the next and gestured for Elladan to follow. He did so with hesitant care.
“If you fear falling, then you will never find your balance,” Hírilasea admonished.
“You should not be called just Hírilasea,” Elladan said, clearing his mind of as much worry he could as he lightly stepped around a trunk. “You should also be called Tavaril.”
Hírilasea was strangely motionless, and she avoided Elladan’s gaze. He could detect no sorrow in her countenance, but rather something that Elladan couldn’t register. . .until it hit him. She was blushing.
“Would you call me that?” her voice came to his ears, dulcet-toned and almost timid, a vast difference from her customary voice of insightful mystery.
“If it pleases you,” Elladan replied gently, moving closer to her. She glanced at him, her green eyes piercing his soul, but quickly looked away.
“It would,” she said before quickly angling between the branches and landing softly on the ground. A piercing whistle from her lips brought Lasseo and Rocconder as Elladan too alighted from the tree.
“I am sorry, my Lord,” she said apologetically as she mounted Lasseo, “but I fear I must return home.”
“Very well,” Elladan said, and desperate to get a smile back on her face, “but if I am going to call you Tavaril then you must promise to never call me `my lord’ again in your life.”
It worked and Hírilasea smirked playfully at him, all traces of the former shyness vanished. “Very well…my lady.”
Such was her sense of humor. She spoke to Lasseo and sent the horse cantering towards the stables before Elladan could even reply, and since he was still unhorsed, it took him a moment to catch up.
“That was not fair,” he cried to her, his strong voice carrying to her pointed ears easily enough.
“You instructed me never to call you `my lord’ so I came to the best conclusion that I could,” Hírilasea retorted good-naturedly. “I daresay that it was the most fair thing I could have replied with.”
“Hardly,” Elladan threw back into the rushing wind. The only response he got was Hírilasea’s silver laughter.
Elrohir watched in fascination as his mother’s nimble fingers stitched the tiny threads through two pieces of fabric. She was sewing a tunic and he had happened upon her as she sat in one of the gardens.
“How do you ever have the patience to do that?” he eventually asked, his eyes never leaving the grey cloth in her hands.
“It’s a learned skill, Elrohir,” Celebrían replied amusedly. “And one that you will have to study.”
A look of consternation flooded into Elrohir’s features.
“Now, Naneth,” (mother) he said, “that’s a little hasty. I don’t really need to sew, you do know that.”
“Yes, you do,” Celebrían countered. “There’s a great deal of stitching that anyone can do.”
“I beg to differ,” Elrohir protested. “I am a man, a warrior. Sewing is a woman’s work.”
Celebrían shook her head. “That’s not a good mindset, ion nin. A warrior must sew as much as any maid and needlework is definitely not solely a woman’s toil. When you are old enough and join the border patrol, your clothing will be torn and there will be need of mending.”
Elrohir digested this. “I suppose you are right,” he admitted at last with a heavy groan. “But please tell me that Elladan is doing it, too.”
Celebrían did not answer right away, and her younger son could tell that she was contemplating something rather extensively as she gazed up from the fabric beneath her hands.
“Naneth?” he asked gently, to see if she was willing to talk. “What is it?”
“Did you see Hírilasea and your brother yesterday morning?” Celebrían said after a pause.
“No. But the Lady from Mirkwood oft rides out to the forest. Did Elladan join her?”
“You are very perceptive, ion nin. Yes, he did. They returned early but I saw the care in the way Elladan assisted Hírilasea from her mount.”
“Not that she needed aid,” Elrohir muttered.
Celebrían smiled softly, thinking of Hírilasea’s unspoken tendency toward independence. “No, she did not. That is why I wonder…” Her voice faded as she let her thought trail away.
“What to you wonder?”
“No, I do not believe that Elladan will be joining you in your sewing endeavors. His mind is preoccupied – surely you have seen it?”
“Yes, last night he did seem rather pensive,” Elrohir replied. “…But why must I face the evils of a needle when Elladan goes free?”
Celebrían laughed at him as she turned back to her careful stitches. “Fear not, his turn will come. But perhaps his teacher will be different than yours.”
“And who is mine, might I ask?” Elrohir queried.
“Arwen.” Elrohir brightened at this, knowing that his little sister wouldn’t make it as torturous as most of the tutors in Rivendell undoubtedly would venture to do. “She made me swear that she could be your instructor after you began to teach her swordplay. I think it’s a fair trade-off and will be a learning experience for her as well as you.”
Elrohir sighed contentedly. The sun was beginning to set, casting its fading rays of glory about his mother who sat calmly sewing beside him. He was young, and eternity stretched before him. But then, in that moment, time had stilled and he was just a boy, leaning on his mother’s shoulder and watching her deft fingers move with the grace and dexterity that only Elf-kind can possess.
“Yes, ion nin?”
“Life will always be perfect, won’t it?”
Celebrían put down her sewing and turned to look at her son, gently ruffling his jet-black hair. “I cannot promise perfection, Elrohir,” she said gravely. “There will be much unrest, I believe. Nevertheless, that does not mean that you cannot be happy. Struggle is a part of life, just as much as peace. It makes us better. Life wouldn’t be too interesting, would it, if we all sat around sewing all the time?” Her cheerful smile drew a grin from Elrohir and he comfortably nestled back onto Celebrían’s shoulder.
Celebrían’s smile grew fond as she felt her son’s head against her neck. He was one hundred and twenty-seven summers and, but she thanked the Valar nightly that he still liked to be cuddled.
Even as very young children, there had been an evident contrast between her two sons. Elladan preferred to remain seated on his own, but Elrohir had always come crawling into her lap, sucking his thumb and curling contentedly within the gentle warmth of her arms. As adults, it appeared little different, despite the fact that Elrohir now elected to be beside her rather than on her.
“You know, ion nin, Legolas is frightfully bored,” Celebrían sighed, taking up her stitching once more and resting her head lightly on Elrohir’s just below her ear. “I’m afraid that there is no one his age here and all his friends are left behind in Greenwood.”
“How terribly sad,” Elrohir murmured noncommittally, his voice betraying his growing sleepiness. He shifted his body to a more comfortable position.
“Fëalas and Arwen are not suitable companions for him, I fear,” Celebrían went on, wondering how long it would take him to get her hint. Elrohir grunted from her shoulder, his grey eyes already half shut. He was listening only to hear Celebrían’s voice and wasn’t paying much attention to what she said.
Celebrían smiled faintly, feeling Elrohir slump against her and his slight weight leaning a little more on her form. His breathing slowed, and Celebrían could tell by how rhythmic it was that he had fallen asleep.
“I’ve always wanted a sister,” Arwen commented as they watched from their perch on a balcony Hírilasea and Elladan ride in. “Especially an older one.”
“Hírilasea is the best older sister anyone could have,” Fëalas said sincerely, letting her dark green eyes travel after the two as they went into the stables. “But your brothers aren’t annoying.”
“That’s true,” Arwen said philosophically. Legolas wasn’t as pesky as many brothers were, but he was, after all, a twin brother. It can only be so good. “But what’s Hírilasea like? I see so little of her.”
“She’s very tree-ish,” Fëalas said instantly. “The only reason why she isn’t Captain of the Guard is because Tauremardo has been the faithful commander for a long time. When she touches a tree, she almost becomes part of the wood. Even the best of our people cannot do that.
“She’s also the prettiest Elf in our realm,” Fëalas continued. “It’s her hair and eyes, I think.”
“Where does she get her eyes?” Arwen asked after Fëalas had fallen silent.
“Her eyes are from Mandos.” Fëalas’ voice sank to a whisper.
“Mandos?” Arwen exclaimed, jerking back in shock.
Mandos was the keeper of the Houses of the Dead, the summoner of the spirits of the slain. Vairë the Weaver was his wife, and she weaves all things that have ever been in her storied tapestries.
“Yes, Mandos,” Fëalas replied. “Hírilasea is not my blood sister. She was brought to mother and father one evening, the same day that Naneth’s mother died.”
“How strange,” was all that Arwen could muster.
“Hírilasea was sent from Mandos and Vairë,” Fëalas said, desperate to be understood. “She sees things that no Elf can. You have seen her smile? She’s always been like that because she can see the world as it was once, before Melker touched it.”
Arwen’s eyes betrayed her wonder. The Ainur, peers of the Valar, had created Arda through their music, formed by Ilúvatar in the beginnings of time, but Melker had tainted the world when the Valar, including himself, had come to it.
“She sees Arda through Ilúvator’s sight?” Arwen asked.
Fëalas nodded gravely. “That is why she has such eyes.”
“There is more to Hírilasea than I thought,” Arwen said, forcing a laugh.
Elrohir curled further into his bed, relishing every fiber of the soft sheets. He had a book on the table nearby, where a languishing candle burned, but he had little interest in reading tonight.
The hour was late, and a fierce summer thunderstorm had brewed after sunset. He could hear the tremendous orchestra of noise outside, mingled screaming winds and growling thunder. The sound of rain flaying on his windows soon joined the clamor and blaze of lightning shattered the thick black of the sky.
His failing candle gasped out its life and he was left in darkness, broken often by the slice of white lightning. Elrohir was not bothered by the persistent night, but remained silently thinking within the comfortable confines of his bed.
A particularly resonant crack of thunder reverberated soundly through the room and suddenly Elrohir felt a trembling, warm being pressed against him.
“Hush, my Undómiel,” he whispered, speaking softly to be heard under the din of the next crash of thunder. ” ‘Tis just a storm.”
Arwen had been terrified of storms ever since just a babe, and always had sought shelter from the nearest family member. When very young, this had been Celebrían and Elrond, but as she grew older she had needed a larger room and found herself closely situated near Elrohir. As a prolonged expedition through the darkened halls was far too much for her, she had coped with the situation well and now Elrohir was the only one who could effectively calm his young sister.
“It’s terribly loud,” she whimpered, and ducked against him as another thunderous tumult arose above them.
“Tell me a story,” Elrohir said in desperation. He recalled that it sometimes drew Arwen’s attention from the storm. She often made up her own tales, which always delighted him despite her quaking voice.
Arwen drew a shaky breath to steady herself. “There’s a maiden, with flaxen hair,” she began after a moment. “She has green eyes. This maiden can see things that no one else can. I mean, the world as it should be.” She paused as a blaze of lightning illuminated the room.
“Not many people can understand her,” she went on. “Even I don’t. She’s a mystery, because Mandos and Vairë sent her from their halls.”
Elrohir decided that this story was becoming exceedingly strange.
“What is the name of this maiden?” he asked.
Arwen’s voice sank to a whisper. “Hírilasea.”
“Hírilasea?” Elrohir said, disbelieving her. “Are you trying to tell me that Hírilasea is sent from Mandos and Vairë?”
“Fëalas told me so,” Arwen insisted. “Doesn’t it make sense? Her eyes! She has Ilúvatar’s eyes.”
“Are you playing with me, Arwen?” Elrohir asked, somewhat sharply. It was a great claim to say that someone had the glance of Eru.
“I swear I am not,” Arwen said. “Fëalas was sincere, too.”
Elrohir remained silent. The storm, as if according to his wish, had abated and the ferocious roars of thunder had faded to distant rumbles.
“I’m going back to my room,” Arwen commented, pulling herself out of Elrohir’s bed and setting her feet on the cold floor.
“Good night,” Elrohir said absently. “Sweet dreams. Don’t let Duinavar serenade you from the balcony without me knowing.”
Arwen picked up a pillow and threw it at him as a parting gift before she went out.