Screeching and jumping the twins returned from the gardens with their nanny Glorfindel in tow. They stormed into my Lord's living room whilst I was urging him to go to a meeting with Gandalf the grey. The wizard had come to Imladris just this morning and wanted to see the Lord. Elrond was just leaving when the twins stormed in, leafs in their hair, their clothing dirty and their faces stained. I looked down at them, then over at Glorfindel. "Nice work," I said sarcastically.
But the blond beauty of Gondolin only smiled. "They're children, Erestor. We should not restrain them. They want to play freely, without thinking of avoiding mud or soil."
"What we really should do is bathing them, I think," I said and wrinkled my nose.
"Excellent idea. Come, little ones. Off into the bathroom with you. Will you prepare the tub, Erestor? I will fetch fresh clothes." And off he went without even giving me the chance to decline. I sighed. Well, alright, I could spare half an hour and the twins were obviously very pleased by the thought of having a bath. So I followed them into the bathroom, turning on the tap as the twins stripped eagerly out of their clothes.
I filled the tub halfway and poured a nice foaming bathing oil into the warm water. The twins were now old enough to use the small bathroom stool and Elladan was already perched atop it when I finished. "Wait!", I said. "Not yet." Sitting on the edge of the tub I began picking at the clinging leaves, listening patiently to his grumblings as I combed his messy hair.
Then I washed his dirty hands and face with a washcloth before I allowed him in. "You don't want to bathe in dirty water, do you?" I asked whilst lowering the pouting twin into the warm water. Elrohir got the same treatment but didn't whine. I was actively involved in combing his dark mane when Glorfindel returned and was thankful for the distraction as I struggled not to gape.
He had stripped out of his doublet and shirt, leaving his torso bare. His swelling muscles were finely shaped and round, his skin tanned. The flat stomach had a deep cleft down to the navel, the dark nipples stood out from the cold and the golden hair framed him in long waves. Such beauty should be forbidden.
I steeled myself against the walking seduction and lowered Elrohir into the bathtub beside his brother.
"I'd take off that robe," said Glorfindel and it made me blush like an innocent elfling. Oh stupid warrior! There was nothing I could say, so I stayed silent on this subject but never tried to undress. Robes, wide and shapeless, were perfect to hide a sudden and unwelcome erection. Just like now.
"Will you manage on your own?" I asked Glorfindel. "After all, it was you who brought them back in such a state."
"I won't. It's impossible. You'll see. Celebrian once made the mistake to bathe them without help and swore she would never ever do it again." Just in that moment a fat portion of wet foam hit the side of my head. It dripped down and wetted my shoulder. Yes, fine, let me guess who that was. My well-behaving Elrohir or Glorfindel's ill-raised monster Elladan?
My cold glare caught the twins and both looked up at me with innocent eyes. Damn it, I always thought I knew elves. But these two were perfect in pretending. Not even I could discern which of them was trying to deceive me.
Though, I was rather sure the attack had been from Elladan, my conclusions were called into question when I observed my Elrohir scope a large dollop of foam and throw it at Glorfindel with enviable accuracy and a screech of joy. It hit Glorfindel's chest and dripped down to his navel, wetting his... Erestor! Do not think that way, it will only get you into more trouble!
I turned back to the children with the intent of scolding them. The lecture was effectively cut off when Glorfindel knelt down beside me, joining his laughter to theirs as he dipped his hands into the warm water and began returning the barrage of foam back at the squealing elfings.
They jumped in the tub with joy, attacking Glorfindel with water, foam and wet hands and soon he was just as wet as they were.
I stared at the scene in disbelief. It saddened me. Somewhere along the long road of my life I had lost the capability of being spontaneous and joyful. Simply doing things without thinking of the consequences. Without bothering if it suited me. And now I saw how easy it was for Glorfindel, playing big bad whale, sea monster, letting it "snow" on the twins and giggling and joking.
I couldn't change it. I turned and fled, leaving them to their merry play. Returning to the study, knowing Elrond was not there, I gloomily thought of my hopeless fate. I was much too aware of myself. Always calm and serene. How boring. I bit my lip. How I wished I could be charming and amusing like Glorfindel! But it was impossible for me. Too much thinking. Thinking about how I affect others, how they might react, how I do everything best. I simply was not a social being
Drowning in my work I hoped it would distract me from my depressive thoughts. But that horrible warrior didn't leave me alone. Later that day he showed up in my study, pretending he wanted to fetch a scroll, but I suspect he only did that to have a reason to come here. "Why did you suddenly leave?" he asked boldly.
"I had the impression you got along with them rather well alone."
"Well, alright, it worked. But still you could have helped."
"I had no time for it."
Glorfindel frowned and I feared he suspected that it had been a different reason that drove me away. Quickly averting my eyes to the reports I had been reading I showed him I didn't wish to continue this talk. And eventually he sighed and left. Why did he sigh? He seemed to be annoyed. But why? I didn't harm him, did I? I didn't know the answer to that question until much later, and much there was to come before that.
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