Tell Me About Brotherhood.
Author's note; As usual we start pretty slowly...
Most conversations between elves take place in Sindarin, most conversations with non-elves use the Common Tongue - and Dawn/Tindómë tends to think in a mixture of both, with a good sprinkling of Californian English still in there too...
Few words of Sindarin to start you off - Ellon=male elf, ellyn is the plural; elleth=female elf, ellyth is the plural; gweneth is virginity. Other translations are given at the end of the chapter. Chapter One - Tell me about Brotherhood
Tindómë, previously known as Dawn Summers, was feeling just a little bored. The preparations for her Coming of Age celebrations, the arrival of guests from miles away, the celebration party itself, had all been so exciting that now life in Lothlórien seemed rather quiet.
She really missed shopping, Starbucks, her CDs and watching old movies. She missed Scooby meetings (even though she’d only ever been on the fringes), school and, surprisingly, the houseful of Potentials. Even a few demons and a couple of vampires would be welcome right now, Tindómë thought, to add a bit of excitement.
Legolas and Gimli had left within a couple of weeks of the party. Gandalf had gone at the same time but promised that he would return to see her again before he sailed West. Tindómë had been shocked that he seemed to be planning on doing this in the near future; somehow she had expected him to be around, acting as her surrogate grandfather, for many, many, years to come.
Of course her relationship with Rumil, now a proper ‘courtship’ and very satisfying thank you, was exciting. However he was often absorbed in his illustration work for Lord Celeborn, staying in the library, continuing long after Tindómë had finished her studies for the day.
It still should not have been all that quiet; Elladan and Elrohir had remained in Lothlórien. They had, however, primarily stayed to be with their grandmother. It was clear to everyone who saw her that, since the destruction of the One Ring, Galadriel was looking tired and positively fragile; the twins reported, sadly, that the same was true of their father. Soon both these ring-bearers would have to leave, and sail West, or begin to fade.
Elladan and Elrohir had, however, seemed unable to simply spend time in Caras Galadhon; despite their laid-back attitude to life they were not used to being idle for long periods of time. Perhaps, Tindómë thought, it was also just too painful for them to see Lady Galadriel so weakened. For whatever reason, within days of the departure of Tindómë’s other visitors, the twins had accompanied Orophin as he returned to his warden’s patrol on ‘the fences’.
After Orophin and the El twins had left the city Tindómë had had a serious conversation with Rumil. It was only days after their ‘first night’; which had been wonderful, Tindómë thought, as had other nights, and occasional afternoons and mornings, since. Rumil’s lovemaking was gentle, caring, and a little less gentle often enough that things were interesting.
On the evening in question, as they lay together in his bed, Rumil had reminded her of the conversation that night in Minas Tirith when Legolas had found the copy of a book called ‘Lore and Customs of the Eldar’ and caused great amusement. The book had said ‘The Eldar wedded for the most part in their youth and soon after their fiftieth year.’
The ellyn had all said that such an early marriage was unusual; now Rumil said that he thought Tindómë should spend some time as a single adult before they got betrothed, including spending time with other ellyn, if she wanted.
He would be happy for her to decide when they would actually get betrothed – although, he had added with that totally straight face, should she not have mentioned it by the end of two or three yéni he might feel the need to try and hasten her decision.
The twins had arrived back a couple of days ago, and today a message had arrived for Tindómë inviting her to join them in their talan if she had no other plans. She was now seated, fruit-juice in hand, happy to spend time with the two ellyn that she thought of as ‘sort of like older cousins’.
“So,” said Elrohir, a master in the art of elegant lounging, “our intelligence tells us that, while we were visiting the fences, you and Rumil have been swayed by the desires of the body and you have lost your gweneth.”
Used, by now, to such opening gambits from the twins, Tindómë rolled her eyes at him and answered “I didn’t lose
it, I gave it to Rumil!” She paused, then added, “or, as he hasn’t actually got
it, you could say we chose to get rid of it together.”
“Well, we were pleased to hear that the joint effort brought you both much, much
, pleasure,” Elladan continued the conversation from where he lounged, equally elegantly, on the other side of the room.
“M’kay… I am so beginning to guess who your ‘intelligence’ is,” Tindómë said slowly. “Did you wine, dine, and whatever, both of them last night, or just the one?”
“Both,” said Elrohir.
“It would have been bad manners to show a preference,” his brother continued.
“And we learnt all that we wanted to know by wining and dining,” the conversation passed back across the room to Elrohir.
“Any ‘whatever’ was purely for pleasure,” Elladan finished the verbal rally.
Feeling, as she often did when the twins were in this mode, like the net in a tennis match, Tindómë could not think of an immediate riposte. The delay was caused, for the most part, by her wondering exactly what the ‘whatever’ involving her ‘room-mates’ had been.
Before she said anything, therefore, the verbal tennis resumed. This time Elladan served.
“Actually, beautiful one, we did some of our intelligence gathering whilst we spent time with the wardens out on the fences.”
Over the net to Elrohir; “There are fewer and fewer orcs, the Valar be praised, indeed we saw none and so there was plenty of time for conversation.”
“Gossip!” Tindómë interjected.
“Conversation!” Elrohir continued firmly.
“I do not think that Orophin would consider himself to be a gossip…” Elladan lobbed from his side of the court.
Elrohir had the ball now. “Indeed, he can be almost as taciturn as Haldir was,” he volleyed, “if it is something that he doesn’t think you should know.”
“But the nature of this particular information meant that keeping it secret would have been contrary to the spirit of the thing.” Elladan sounded quite serious.
“Although Orophin did not only impart this information to us,” Elrohir played a short ball.
“But he certainly did not exclude
us!” Elladan concluded the rally.
“C’mon guys! What is
the word on the fences then?”
Tindómë was getting slightly exasperated. If there was gossip amongst the wardens about her, she wanted to know!
“The word on the fences,” Elrohir picked up the conversation, “is that Rumil is not going to sweep you off to his talan and insist that you become betrothed now that you have attained your majority.”
“Although,” the conversation crossed the room again, “many had expected your betrothal to be announced at mid-summer.”
“Rumil wouldn’t insist
on me doing anything. We
have not made any plans for getting betrothed. But I don’t see why we should be a topic for gossip amongst the wardens, or why Orophin would be in the middle of it.
“Unless,” it suddenly occurred to her, “he is taking bets on when we might get betrothed! In which case I am so pissed at him that his life might not be worth living.”
Before either twin could answer an even worse thought crossed her mind.
“And if I find he, or you two, or anyone else, was making bets on when Rumil and I would, uh, get physical, the offenders will find themselves in Mandos’ Halls so quickly that Lord Námo won’t have time to make a bed up for them!”
“No, no, little warrior,” Elrohir answered her quickly, “no-one was making bets on such a thing at all.”
“Well, as far as we know,” Elladan added, “and I am sure if anyone was we would have found out.”
“You certain?” Tindómë asked, not completely reassured. “And, if there’s no betting, why were you all discussing my love-life?”
“I am absolutely sure,” Elrohir said, quite gently. “But, tinu, you are beautiful, desirable, and full of life. Now that you are of age there are many ellyn who would like to persuade you to go starlight bathing with them or attempt to sway you in some other way with the ‘desires of the body’.”
While Tindómë considered that, Elladan continued “Orophin was ensuring that the other wardens knew that Rumil thought you should have time to live the life of a single elleth, so that they would not hold back from approaching you in that way.”
If Elladan had expected that statement to reassure Tindómë he was mistaken.
“You... you mean Orophin has been pimping me around the wardens?” She was not sure whether to be upset or angry at the idea.
An even worse thought occurred to her. “Rumil didn’t ask
him to pimp me, did he?”
Elladan looked puzzled and repeated “Pimped?”
“A pimp is a man living as a parasite on a woman who sells sex,” his twin explained. “I have heard the word in Gondor, but never amongst the Dúnedain or the Rohirrim – if their women sell their huch at least they earn their money for themselves!”
“Orophin was not asking for money!” Elladan said sounding as if, now that he thought he understood what Tindómë meant, he was more shocked that she had insulted Orophin.
“That so does not make it okay,” Tindómë was both annoyed and upset now. “I thought it was something Rumil and I decided between us. I didn’t think he was going to discuss our love-life with his brother even before he discussed it with me. Or that Orophin would spend his down-time saying to all his friends ‘Hey! Rumil’s had first shot! You can all go and try to fuck his girlfriend now!’”
The more she thought about it the more upset she became. She’d thought she understood Rumil. She hadn’t thought that Rumil meant his brother was going to offer her services to all the unattached ellyn he knew.
Suddenly she felt very out of place. She wanted to go home. Except that she didn’t know where that was any more, and even if she was annoyed at Rumil she didn’t think she really wanted to be cut off from him for ever. A tear slowly ran down her cheek.
She felt two hands cup her face and tilt it upwards until she was looking straight into Elrohir’s eyes.
When either of the Els looked serious, as he did, the playboy ellyn disappeared and they were clearly their father’s sons. Tindómë felt as if all his years were in that gaze, and she shut her eyes tightly. (It occurred to her later that that was a very childish thing to do and just showed how upset she was!)
“Orophin really didn’t say anything like that, Tindómë,” Elrohir said gently.
“Well it sounds as if he might as well have!” Tindómë was not going to give in on this without a fight – or at least an explanation she could understand. “I just, I thought I understood Rumil, and I thought I understood elves and how things work, and then I so don’t.”
Elladan, looking equally serious, had come to sit beside them. He passed Tindómë a handkerchief.
“I am sorry that we upset you. Elves never forget anything,” (‘Like elephants,’ Tindómë thought, ‘must go with having interestingly shaped ears…’) “but,” Elladan continued, “sometimes it is easier to ignore how recently you came to be amongst us, rather than to remember how you arrived here and from where. So we do not always allow for, what was it you called them? Cultural differences.”
The fleeting thought went through Tindómë’s mind that she hadn’t really been
brought up in the Californian culture, that was still her main point of reference for things, but she didn’t mention it.
“We would not want to make you think ill of Rumil or Orophin because of something we said,” Elrohir said, still serious. “Their behaviour seems normal to us; where does it differ from what you believe is right, little warrior?”
Tindómë pause for a minute to decide where to start.
“I don’t know what’s hardest to be cool about…” she said slowly. “I mean I guess I’ve got used to the attitude to nakedness, and bodies, and it’s cool. But sometimes I’m still a bit wigged about the way that having sex, joining, whatever, is the central part of your most sacred bond, but then you all do it for fun, and it’s something to chat about over afternoon tea!”
The Els looked at each other for a moment or two and then Elrohir answered.
“Glorfindel once explained to us that ‘having sex, joining, or whatever’, before bonding is like sword practice. It is pleasurable, it keeps the body fit, and improves your skill – regular practice means that you will be proficient and not falter when called upon to use either skill in deadly earnest!”
His face was still totally serious but Tindómë was close enough to see the hint of a twinkle in his eye.
‘I so must meet Glorfindel,’ she thought; the twins seemed to have learnt a wide variety of things from the great warrior lord.
Before she could say anything Elladan spoke, still looking and sounding serious.
“To be absolutely honest, we do not all
do it for fun; there are some elves who choose to wait until they are speaking their bonding vows. But it is very rare amongst the Sindar and the Sylvan, and almost as rare amongst the Noldor or even the Vanyar. Glorfindel is of Vanyar stock and he is certainly not waiting till he is bound…”
Tindómë and Elrohir spoke at the same time.
“Do they have, like, chastity rings?”
“It is a good job the Vanyar do not wait – Glorfindel’s grond would have withered from disuse, elf or no elf…”
Suddenly all three were laughing and the level of tension was much reduced.
Elladan spoke again, “We do not always join for fun; sometimes it is for comfort.”
He did not elaborate and Tindómë thought about what he had said for a minute.
Elves did not usually touch each other casually, but they did use touch for comfort – when she was injured Rumil, and sometimes Orophin, would hold her hand, or stroke her hair, to comfort her. Later Legolas had actually hugged her and, over the last three years, so had Rumil and even Lord Celeborn on one occasion. She could see that joining would be the closest two bodies could get. Yes; she could see how it could be used for comfort.
She nodded slowly.
“But we never, ever, use our bodies that way in anger,” Elrohir was being serious again.
“When our mother had to sail West, I am sure you have heard the tale and I prefer not to tell it, we were consumed with anger; we burned with it. Until we finally overcame that anger we had
no desires of the flesh.”
Tindómë could not imagine anybody she knew back in California ever being so totally up-front about having or not having sex – especially not a male admitting to not doing it for… well… years.
She nodded again. Eriathwen had said that elves never had sex in anger; or without both, or all, agreeing.
She wondered just how long the Els, who the Galadhrim regarded as seriously enthusiastic about bodily pleasures, had been celibate after Celebrian’s ordeal. It was probably not a question to ask right now.
“You wonder how long,” Elrohir said, almost as if he had heard her thought. “Others have asked…” he continued with a wry half smile.
“A yén, two yéni, more, we hardly know, even now,” his brother answered Tindómë’s unanswered question.
“Some would say,” Elrohir’s smile was wider now, “that we have more than made up for lost time…”
Elladan picked up the conversation again. “Your other world, they do not talk there about what gives them pleasure? Or is that they would not talk about such pleasures over afternoon tea, but happily at breakfast?”
Tindómë gave him a hard stare. “You’re making fun of me now,” she began, and then looked at him again. “You’re serious, aren’t you? No, I mean it’s not a topic of everyday conversation.”
Anya came to her mind, and how embarrassed people always were when she talked about her and Xander’s sex life; Tindómë thought again that Anya would probably be much happier with the Els, pity she hadn’t been swept down the Hellmouth too.
“We were given lessons about sex at school, and Mom told me… well, the basics, but usually we only talked about it in general. People don’t talk about exactly what they’ve been doing, or with whom. Would you chat about who you’ve been boinking to Lady Galadriel? Just trying to get my terms of reference here…”
“Grandmother? Certainly, if she asked. Why not?” Elrohir answered.
Tindómë tried to imagine being Dawn and discussing who she had been making out with, in detail, with Buffy – who wasn’t even her mom or her grandma, just her sister – but she couldn’t. With Janice, maybe, possibly with Anya, but not Buffy, and certainly not with Mom if she had still been alive.
Actually the idea of discussing orgasms and ‘forms of pleasure’ with Lady Galadriel was less weird than discussing them with Buffy…
Slowly she answered what may have been a rhetorical question, “Because she’s family, I think. I don’t think we ever really discuss things like that with family… I think that’s why I can’t believe that Rumil would discuss, well him and me, with Orophin before
he even spoke to me.”
The twins both looked at her with raised eyebrows. “But surely you would talk of such important things with your sister?” Elrohir asked.
“I… I don’t know, I don’t think so,” Tindómë answered thinking about it carefully. “She would probably not have wanted to think about me joining with anyone.”
“Why ever not?” Elladan sounded shocked. “You are an adult, and you said that it was not only not forbidden, but common practice, in Sunny Dale. Did you not say, when you told us of your history, that she had a lover when she was about the age you were when we first saw you?”
“I… maybe we would have… now. But I don’t know.”
She thought a little longer. “Guys – what does it mean to be brothers, for elves? Really?
“I mean I was really upset when Buffy was killed. Okay, it didn’t stick, but she was totally dead, and I really grieved. But I never thought of not living myself because she was dead.
“But you told me that Haldir’s death had such an effect on Rumil and Orophin that they might even have faded. I never really thought about it, except to be glad that they hadn’t, but are you bonded to your brothers or sisters like you are to your husband or wife?”
“We may not be the best elves to ask,” Elladan answered. “We are unusual. You told us that your word for twins such as ourselves means ‘formed from one fertilised egg’, yes?”
“Yes. Monozygotic,” Tindómë quoted, from memories of eighth grade biology back in Sunnydale.
“Elves are begotten fëa first,” Elladan continued, “the parents choose to have a child, the child’s fëa is formed from theirs by the grace of The One, and the hroar by the act of joining.”
‘Hmm – weird way of looking at it, and not one I can totally buy into,’ Tindómë thought, ‘but I’m not going to argue about it!’
“So when one ‘egg’ splits into two, as you described, and they become two separate elflings rather than one, the fëa must split in two as well. So Elrohir and I were, briefly, one fëa not two, before we split apart. This makes us closer than most brothers. Perhaps you should just ask Orophin and Rumil,” he finished.
“M’kay, I hear what you are saying, but I, well I don’t want to ask Rumil something that maybe he thought I knew. I could ask Eriathwen or Boroniel, but they are both only children so they might not really know, or it might be different for ellyth. I would’ve asked Legolas, if I’d realised that I didn’t know something that I should, although he got a bit embarrassed when he thought he might have to explain the birds and the bees to me, but…”
Elrohir interrupted “Why would Legolas think he would have to explain birds and bees to you? Do they not have them in your other world? And I cannot think of any reason for a wood elf to find birds and bees embarrassing!”
“Gaaah! Uh – culture clash thing here guys… ‘The birds and the bees’ is a euphemism for teaching children about ‘how babies are made’ or,” Tindómë thought about the way Elladan had just explained the elven take on that subject, and elaborated “how bodies join together for pleasure and procreation!”
“Birds and bees?” Elrohir still sounded puzzled.
“As in – everything reproduces; flowers and trees, birds and bees!”
“I hope they do not start the explanation with flowers and trees then birds and bees!” Elladan snorted, inelegantly, “Or there must be a lot of little mortals panicking every time a bee lands on them in case they get pollinated!”
As his brother joined him in laughter Tindómë tried to throw a cushion at him, but he was too close and she ended up in a tug-of-cushion, finally collapsing with the giggles herself.
Eventually she calmed down and tried again. “Brothers, guys. Just how important is it that Rumil and Orophin are brothers?
Elrohir stopped laughing and, apparently realising that they were not going to escape these questions, answered.
“In our case we have been together for all our lives, we know if the other one is hurt, happy, or… well we are never totally alone even if we are many miles apart. We would always discuss anything that is important together. But we are an exaggeration of the usual bond between brothers.”
“We are also aware of Arwen,” Elladan joined the conversation again. “But to a lesser extent. We expect to know of her pains when she births her child, but we did not have any sense of the pleasure she had in the begetting!”
Again two voices spoke together.
“I didn’t know Arwen was pregnant!”
“Estel was relieved to know we had no awareness of her pleasure!”
Then, “And why would he think you two might have been aware of her pleasure? You don’t mean that when one of you… the other one… no! You mean Orophin would have known when… that’s gross! You cannot be serious! Tell me you are joking?”
“You aren’t joking?”
“Not exactly,” Elladan answered, “but I did say that we are not a good example.”
Elrohir could see that Tindómë looked shocked, and he explained further. “When we are near each other, in the same building or the same campsite, then yes we are all too aware of each other’s ‘desires of the flesh’.
“I do not think the same level of awareness exists between other brothers, but there may be some sort of echo of it, because it is not all that unusual for other brothers to also enjoy, what did you call it, making out, by sharing the same bed with an elleth or ellyth.
“You do know this? Eriathwen or Boroniel has explained it? Sisters will do it too. As I said before, obviously we two have been together all our lives – but an ellon will have know his elder brothers all his life – they have always have been there, they have shared all their years. It is not so strange that they should sometimes share such pleasures, is it?”
Tindómë had known for a long time that the twins had threesomes or foursomes – she had once heard them tell Merry that they were not bound because they had never found an elleth willing to take them on! She still didn’t think they were being totally serious about that but it meant that she had not been surprised when she had noticed, before she even got to Caras Galadhon, that they often hit on one female between them.
She knew from her ‘room-mates’ that Rumil, Orophin and Haldir had been known to tag-team too. The ellyth had worried in case she was shocked, as they were not sure if it happened in her own dimension, but more worried that she might be totally shocked if she found out from some other elleth in passing.
She had preferred not to know if Rumil and Orophin had still done it during her three years ‘minority’ but, from a couple of things Rumil had said, she thought he had probably not ‘indulged’ a great deal in that time.
“Yes, uh, I did know, I mean I know Rumil and his brothers, uh, but I didn’t really think of why…”
“It is very pleasurable for an elleth to go starlight bathing, or whatever, with ellyn who have spent so many years sharing their lives; they are used to being in harmony in many things. Brothers can be in demand…” Elrohir said seriously.
Just as Tindómë’s mind was turning towards this aspect of the effect of Haldir’s death on his brothers’ lives, Elrohir suddenly grinned and added, “If you want to find out why, as you are not betrothed, we would be most happy to spend some time showing you!”
“Uh – are you serious El?” She wasn’t sure how to react, whether to be amused, shocked or flattered, if he really was serious.
“Little one,” Elladan answered, “as Elrohir said earlier, you are beautiful, desirable, and full of life. We are… almost totally serious.
“It would certainly be no hardship!”
‘Well’, Tindómë thought, ‘pass me a dog in a basket, because this sure as hell ain’t Kansas…!’
Out loud she said “I can sort of see the attraction, but you two feel kinda like family, I really don’t think I could…”
She did wonder if they might be insulted – there were still big holes in her knowledge of this society, like heffalump traps, and she wasn’t sure if she might just have fallen down one of them.
“Family is good!” Elrohir said, cheerfully. “Perhaps we shall treat you as we did Arwen, when she was young, and veto some of the ellyn whilst trying to encourage you to indulge, at least a little, with others.”
“You did?” Tindómë was slightly distracted again – she could totally imagine a Californian male vetoing his younger sister’s boyfriends, but not doing any of the encouraging.
“But of course,” Elladan said.
“Uh – I remember you telling me that Arwen spent a lot of time here in Lorien while you spent a lot of your time in Imladris,” Tindómë smiled sweetly, “Did it never occur to you to wonder why?”
The twins looked at each other and then turned innocent faces towards her.
“Surely not?” Elladan said.
Then, before Tindómë could say anything more, Elrohir grinned and said “Actually that was only in the last thousand years or so,” then, more seriously, “And for much of that time we were too busy fighting yrch to question, advise or tease. If you wish to know if she has cause to have an opinion on Rumil and his brothers you will have to ask her.”
Tindómë thought her brain might explode. She could just imagine a conversation with the Queen of Gondor that included ‘and have you ever been swayed by the desires of the body in the company of my not-exactly-betrothed and his brothers?’ Somehow it would have needed a clipboard, ticky boxes, and a pencil...
It suddenly occurred to her that Aragorn was, in some ways, in the same position that she was. Even though he had spent his childhood and teens at Imladris, he had spent the rest of his life amongst various human societies and, as far as Tindómë could understand, in Middle Earth all of these were more restrained in their attitude to sex than her own original society was.
She had realised that the different attitude of the elves was in part due to their immortality – they had an awfully long time to find ways of not being bored – but she thought that, to a large extent, it was also due to the same thing as ‘the Swinging Sixties’ that Anya had told her about. Elves only got pregnant if they wanted to; all the mortal races, as far as Tindómë could tell, had a reasonable chance of getting pregnant every time.
Aragorn would know that Arwen must almost certainly have had lovers before they were betrothed, before he was born, for that matter. He must have kept something of an elven attitude to it or they would have some very strained moments. Tindómë wondered how much Gondorian high-society knew about elven attitudes to the body in general…
She suddenly realised that Elladan had been speaking whilst she was lost in her thoughts.
“… is why, despite that, brothers usually fight alongside each other. Although sadly many ellyn who learnt to fight alongside their brothers ended these past dark yéni alone, as so many have gone to the Halls of Mandos, and they will not be reunited this side of the seas.
“Even though the time of the elves on these shores is coming to an end, there are still pockets of yrch left and we will not shirk from destroying them, but these last years should be time for more pleasure and less battle.”
‘Bummer!’ thought Tindómë, ‘I hope I didn’t miss anything important there.’
Conversation moved on, and the subject of ‘brothers’ was left behind. Tindómë was still not happy about Orophin suggesting that she might be open for offers, but at least she was less annoyed with Rumil for discussing their relationship with his brother.
Little did she realise, at the time, how relevant some of the thoughts and conversation of that day would be over the next few months.
Huch – vulva.
Grond – slang term for penis.
Tinu – little star.
Fëa – spirit, soul.
Hroar – physical body.
Yén – 144 years
Yéni – plural of yén.
Yrch – plural of orc.
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