Mischief

by Mel Baggins

"Hurry up!"
"Relax, he’s not due back for another hour!"
"So? What if he’s early? Adar will kill us if he finds out…"
"Which is exactly why he won’t. Trust me, Elrohir."
"But Elladan…"
"Shh, someone’s coming…"

Glorfindel strode through the halls to his room, lost in thought. His report for Elrond had been well received and he was feeling rather pleased with himself. He decided to reward himself with a few choice delicacies from the bakery, but first he would pay a visit to his favorite advisor. He had to thank the author of his report, after all.

As he rounded the corner he found the twin sons of Elrond loitering in the corridor outside Erestor’s room. His eyes rested on Elrohir, who’s expression most definitely reflected guilt, if ever he saw it. The younger twin could always be counted upon for the truth- the elfling was not yet as adept at deception as his brother, who’s features sported a look of pure innocence.

"Good afternoon, Lord Glorfindel," the older twin greeted with a bow. The elder elf looked back to Elrohir and saw that the look of guilt was now thinly veiled with a smile that could cause cavities. He looked between the brothers, and then at the advisor’s door. Something wasn’t right here.

"And just what are you two doing?" he demanded.
"Doing?" said Elladan. "We aren’t doing anything, are we brother?"

"Nothing at all," agreed Elrohir. Glorfindel gave each of them a good long look, and they smiled all the more sweeter, if that were possible.

"Why are you lurking outside Lord Erestor’s room?" he asked. Something was going on, he could feel it. There was a pause, and Glorfindel was sure he saw Elrohir glance nervously to Elladan, but it was so quick that another might have dismissed it. A smirk graced the older brother’s face.

"What are you doing outside Lord Erestor’s room, Lord Glorfindel?" he asked craftily. The blonde warrior wasn’t phased in the slightest.

"I am here to pay a visit to the chief advisor," he retorted.
"Well, you are out of luck. He is not here," Elladan said, a bit too quickly. Glorfindel raised a delicate eyebrow.

"Really," he said. It wasn’t a question, more a statement of disappointment. Now he would have to search for him, cutting into his time at the bakery. He walked closer to the two elflings, pausing when he was nearly a handbreadth away from Elladan. He looked down his nose at him before moving to stand the same distance from Elrohir. "So what are you really doing out here," he asked. Elrohir shook his head nervously and shrugged his shoulders.

"Nothing," he said. "That is, we were...talking." Elladan nodded his head to back up his brother.

"That’s right, we were...discussing the decorum of this hallway. It could use a touchup, do you think?" Glorfindel narrowed his eyes at him and backed away from the younger elf.

"Have you two finished your work for our class tomorrow?" he asked authoritatively.

"Yes, seneschal," they said in unison. Yes, there was definitely something wrong here. He looked sternly at Elladan.

"Something is going on. You are plotting something."

"Why would you think that?"
"Because you are always plotting something!" he growled. He raised a hand to point sternly, first at Elladan, then at Elrohir. "Just because I can not prove my suspicions, it does not mean you are not hiding something." Elladan raised his eyebrows in what almost could look like genuine surprise.

"Hiding something? Surly you do not believe tha-"

"Just be warned," continued the blonde elf, "Lord Erestor will be told that some twins may have tampered with the door to his room." With that he made to leave, heading to his own room. As he did the twins smiled at each other until he was out of sight.

"Do you think he bought it?"
"He so bought it." The two left the corridor, snickering to each other. In the opposite direction, Glorfindel reached the door to his own room, not far away from Erestor’s. He produced a small key, fit it in the lock and turned. The door did not open. He tried again, putting the key in a different way, and still the door would not budge. Crouching on his knees, he examined the offending device and saw the telltale scratch marks around the metal plate affixing the lock to the door. The twice-born Balrog slayer let his head fall heavily on the door in front of him, letting out an enraged cry of frustration.

"ELLADAN! ELROHIR!!!"

Outside the two culprits ran away, giggling with glee. They could hear the angry shouts all the way outside which only made them laugh harder. They passed by many other elves who looked at them suspiciously, but did not hinder their escape. Finally they entered the stables and collapsed on a mound of hay, laughing until they were lightheaded.

"That was fun, Elladan, but I think it’s time for something far more devious," said Elrohir. The older twin raised himself up on an elbow and regarded his brother.

"What do you suggest?" he asked, more than interested. For the next two hours they sat in the far corner of the stables fleshing out their next plot and giggling wildly to themselves the whole time. Their plan was perfect- nobody would even know what was happening until it was too late. He would never find out.

"And you are sure we will not get caught?" asked Elladan. Elrohir grinned.
"How could we if all the evidence points to our dear cousin?" This sent them into another fit of laughter.
"Okay, okay," Elladan attempted to calm them down, "So what’s first?"

The next day Arwen sat by herself in the gardens reading a book. It was her favorite spot to be alone and listen to the birds, and the gentle wind, and the murmuring of the pond, and the giggling from behin-

She turned abruptly to find her two brothers watching her from behind a tree. Realizing they’d been spotted they walked up to her and sat, one on each side of her on the bench.

"Good day, dear sister!" said Elladan.
"Good day," she greeted, already aware that they wanted something.

"My, what a fine morning, is it not?" asked Elrohir.
"Why yes it is, my dear brother," she chided, closing her book and standing. Elladan pulled her back down to the bench. "You wouldn’t happen to...want something, would you?" she asked. Elladan performed his well practiced look of innocent shock.

"Whatever would make you think that, dear sister?"
"Because, you are only ever so formal with me when you require my services for one of your childish pranks," she said sweetly. Elladan spread his arms in supplication.

"I promise, it is nothing illicit," he vowed. Then after a moment of thought, he revised the statement. "Not excessively so." She sighed and rolled her eyes.

"Alright, what is it?"
"We just need you to keep Estel busy for a few hours," Elrohir explained. Arwen narrowed her eyes at them.

"Why?"
"It is a surprise," Elladan said with a grin.
"Hmm, a good one, I hope."

"My dear sister," said Elrohir as he draped an arm over her shoulders, "They are all good surprises!" She let out an amused grunt and folded her arms.
"Like the time Adar ended up with his hair full of honey?"

"We already told you, that jar was meant for Glorfindel," Elladan defended. "Elrohir heard someone say his hair was the color of the finest honey, so we decided to check if it was an accurate statement!" She sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, a habit that ever reminded the twins of their father. At last she looked up.

"Alright, what did you want me to do?" she relented. Her brothers’ faces brightened immediately.
"Like we said, just keep him occupied for a few hours," Elladan instructed. "‘Till midday should suffice." She nodded reluctantly and stood, looking around her.

"He’s in the library," Elrohir said, pointing to the right door. She pressed her lips into a thin line and then left, muttering something about why she does things like this for them. The twins grinned at each other and headed through the opposite door. For the next few hours the twins split up, so as to better execute The Plan.

Elladan stealthily slipped into Glorfindel’s room with the key to the new lock he’d installed the day before. After quietly closing it he looked around at his seneschal’s home with a playful grin before setting to work. Soundlessly he glided to the mantel where several beautiful hand-carved bows were displayed. Quickly and carefully, as the owner would be finished his morning meal soon, he took each one down and carefully ran his small knife over the string, fraying the delicate cord just enough to snap upon use, but to still appear whole to satisfy a cursory glance. His work done, he gently lay each bow back in place and exited the home. Lord Glorfindel’s archery practice was in one hour.

While Elladan was busy with the bows, Elrohir had slipped into Erestor’s study. He too had to be quick, for the meal was nearly over, and everyone would be resuming the previous day’s tasks within moments. He practically floated across the floor to the desk of extremely neatly stacked papers and row of quills, each feather of a different bird, each ink a different color. With a sly grin Elrohir reached into the small bag he’d brought with him for several small bottles, half were empty and half were full. Into the empty ones he poured the four different inks that Erestor used for the documents and manuscripts he ceaselessly worked on. Then, looking over his shoulder as he worked, he poured the contents of the other bottles into the ones just emptied. He then quickly stowed the evidence and replaced the quills in their pots and left as quietly as he’d come.

The meal ended and the two victims returned to their daily tasks. Elladan watched from his hiding spot down the hall as predictably, Glorfindel took his favorite bow and headed off for archery practice. Now in stealth mode, he shadowed the golden warrior to watch the fruit of his labors unfold.

Elrohir stood outside the door leading up to the study to greet Erestor as he approached. He bowed and made small talk, the advisor clearly attempting to avoid conversation with the known prankster in favor of his work. After several minutes of discussing the weather and the differences between their handwriting, the advisor finally got away and headed to his office. Elrohir waited for several heartbeats before following, sitting himself down outside the advisor’s door.

As Elladan looked on, Glorfindel raised his first arrow and took aim, as several elflings looked on, enamored by their teacher’s grace and perfect stance. As the arrow drew back, the twin fancied he could even hear the cords snapping under the strain. Further and further he pulled the arrow, until it finally reached the breaking point. The string broke and the arrow fell uselessly to the ground. The little elflings erupted in howling laughter and a rather sheepish looking Glorfindel collected his arrow and began to examine the string of his bow. Fixing a bowstring was no small task, and instead the Golden Lord retreated to his room. Elladan knew well that the Lord avoided such tasks like the plague, and he would be going to his room in search of another bow. He grinned as he left, remembering the beautiful display of fine elvish bows in the Seneschal’s room, every last one of which he had tampered with.

Elrohir could not see Erestor through his door, but he could hear the advisor humming as he got to work. His plan, he knew, would take much longer to happen, and he feared he would not have time to wait for the other elf to figure it out. They had other people’s days to ruin, after all. Just when he thought he would have to go without the pleasure of hearing the anguished cries, they came. On the other side of the door, Erestor crumpled a page he had just written in frustration. Again he set pen to paper. He wrote an experimental word- his own signature- and then put the pen down. Within minutes the dark ink vanished as if he had never touched it. The scream of frustration rang out through the halls. It would be some time before the advisor would find a jar of ink that hadn’t been tampered with. With barely stifled laughter Elrohir got up and ran from the hall, lest the advisor come out looking for someone to blame. With Phase One firmly established, it was now time for Phase Two.

This was little tasks meant to distract key people that may interrupt them in their real goal. Elladan snuck into Arwen’s room and took her favorite hairbrush, depositing it in Glorfindel’s room. Elrohir took Lindir’s harp and snuck it into Erestor’s room. In turn they gave Glorfindel’s diary and placed it in Lindir’s room, while taking Erestor’s favorite book and putting it beside Arwen’s bath. Phase Three.

Elrohir stood guard outside their father’s private rooms as Elladan slipped in. He swallowed thickly in fear, as this was the most risky part of the entire plot. Their father’s schedule was always erratic, and he could come back at any minute. Also, playing a prank on their father was never a good idea, but if they don’t get caught...

The young twin caught his breath as he heard movement down the hall, but released it again when he found it was just another elf, going on about their business. He heard sounds from the door behind him and felt excitement flutter in his belly. This was the best plan yet – their father was so attached to that sword. At last Elladan appeared with the item in question, a beautifully ornate, and very old, sword. The twin had wrapped it in a cloth until it was practically unrecognizable and carried it under his arm. The two looked around guiltily before setting off down the hall as stealthily as they could.

That afternoon all three Phases of their plan were realized. The two brothers lay languidly on the grass in front of the house, listening to the petty bickering between all they had entangled. While Erestor, Glorfindel, Lindir and Arwen were busy arguing amongst themselves about who took what, the unfortunate Aragorn walked in among them to try to break them up. In the ensuing scuffle, the blame was slowly but surely placed upon him, not for taking the items, but for being a ‘meddling human’.

At almost the same moment, Elrond returned home to find his precious sword missing. In his fury the first thing he did was check Elladan and Elrohir’s rooms, expecting to find it there. When he came up empty, and quite surprised, he then checked his daughter’s his advisors, thus being brought into the entanglement of their argument. After attempting to calm the others down he asked about his sword, and came up empty. He left to continue his search and almost as soon as he was out of sight, the arguing began anew.

Thus it was that after long searching, he found the sword in the most unlikely of places- Aragorn’s room.

"Now how did you get there," he cooed, lifting the blade from its perch on the ranger’s mantle. As he did, Aragorn opened the door, surprised to see the Lord in his room. He bowed, though taken off guard.

"My Lord Elrond," he said.

"Ah, Estel," he replied, "I believe you have been the target of some particularly cruel mischief." At Aragorn’s confused stare he held up the sword in his hands. "This sword belonged to my father Earendil long ago. It is my most prized possession, and this is well known to many in my house, except you of course." Rather than explaining things, the human looked the more confused. Elrond stepped closer and laid a hand on the human’s tense shoulder. "I had planned to give it to you for your coming of age celebration which is why you did not know of it. My sons, however..." he paused then, listening to the bickering in the hall. "Where are they?" Aragorn frowned at Elrond, but then slowly a smile spread on his face.

Elladan and Elrohir watched the house from the gardens below, enjoying a pitcher of lemonade between them. "Not a bad day’s work, is it brother?"
"Not bad at all,"

"I’d say it was terrible," they heard behind them. The two jumped and turned around to see Elrond standing behind them with crossed arms and an expression of mingled displeasure and amusement.

"Adar..."

"Don’t ‘Adar’ me, young elfling," he scolded as he strode forward. "Do you have any idea the trouble you’ve caused? Because of your foolish prank, Erestor and Glorfindel have hours of tedious work ahead of them, which you two will help them with." The twins slowly sank into their chairs, lemonade tasting decidedly sour all of a sudden. "Lindir will likely be sulking about the mistreatment of his harp for the next age, and on top of all that," he bent so that he was nose to nose with Elladan. "You left Arwen alone with Aragorn ALL afternoon! Do you have any idea what would happen if they were to...fall in..." the lord stopped, unable to say the word.

"But that is silly, Adar!"
"That could never happen!" Elrond sighed.

"That’s quite enough out of you two, now I expect one of you to be up there copying manuscripts with Erestor and the other helping Glorfindel re-string EVERY bow." When they didn’t move, he let out a long suffering sigh. "Now!" The twins jumped up out of their chairs and walked off.

"You help Erestor."
"Why me? The invisible ink was your idea!"
"But you pulled it off."
"So?"
"This is so unfair."
"I know. As if anything will happen between them!"
"He is acting as if it was our fault or something!"

As the two elflings disappeared into the house, Elrond sat back on the vacated chair sipping lemonade with a satisfied grin.