Daughters of Elrond
“So,” Buffy began, leaning back against the headboard of her bed. “You and Arwen?”
It was the first chance Buffy had gotten to talk with her, just the two of them, since her sisters had arrived in Lorien with their parents.
“Truce declared,” she said with a roll of her eyes. “You’re slow. Elrohir asked the night of your party.”
They’d slipped back into English for this, although Buffy could speak passable Sindarin. Tindomiel was far better at it- and only answered to Dawn anymore if it was Buffy or the Scoobies. It was almost like someone had hit ‘reset’ in her brain, the way she was absorbing the languages and lore of Middle Earth. Not that Buffy wasn’t absorbing things too- it was just that what she was picking up fastest tended to be more hands on and involve weapons.
“Arwen won, didn’t she,” Buffy snickered knowingly.
Everyone was still in Lothlorien, though she suspected that would not last much longer. While Arwen and Nana were happy to stay, Ada was anxious to be back to Imladris, and Buffy herself was starting to get a nebulous feeling of impending bad that she would once have chalked up to Slayer, but here was taken for granted as a gift some elves had. It had started out faint, but it was growing. She was fairly sure it meant she wouldn’t be allowed to remain either.
“Did not,” Tindomiel grumbled.
Buffy raised an eyebrow, aware she was not yet up to the standards of her brothers in this gesture, but hey, practice makes perfect.
“Ok, fine, she totally won,” Tindomiel sighed. “It’s really not a fair fight when someone has thousands of years advantage on you!”
Buffy couldn’t help the giggle. What little she remembered of Arwen from before California could be summed up as ‘best one at playing innocent’. She almost regretted letting their brothers drag her off to Lorien instead of staying to watch their sisters try to game each other without getting busted by their parents.
“She’s not as bad as I thought,” Tindomiel said. “Just… different, I guess. I was used to you, and the twins aren’t that different.”
Buffy nodded. That was the common consensus of everyone who had met all the children of Elrond and Celebrian. She was the surprise, because for the centuries she and her mother had been missing from Middle Earth, everyone had fallen into the habit of imagining her as a miniature Arwen. That she was more like a tiny blonde version of her brothers had come as a shock to many.
“So you’re not unhappy?” Buffy asked. “You really do like it here?”
Tindomiel gave her a long, searching look.
“Oh, god, you’re freaking out about us, aren’t you?” she demanded. “You really need to learn how to relax. Everybody’s happy here, even Anya! I love Middle Earth. There’s no crazy hellgoddess trying to kill either of us, we have Nana and Ada, Arwen and the gwenyn, we even have the Scoobies here. Sure, I miss Giles and Spike sometimes, but it was their choice to stay behind. We can’t make other people’s choices for them.”
Buffy blinked. Tindomiel had been picking up more than just language while she’d been away.
“I’m not freaking out,” she reassured her sister. “Just… concerned.”
Tindomiel waited patiently- another new trick, one Buffy suspected she’d picked up from Arwen.
“Did you know we’re actually half-elven?” Buffy asked.
“Duh,” Dawn replied. “Well, part-elven, anyway. Nana is edhil, but Ada is peredhil. But he chose to be counted with the Eldar, so we have the life of the Eldar unless we choose otherwise.”
“Have you thought about what that means?” Buffy said carefully.
“Not really. Do I need to? I think we’ll all remain among the Eldar. Ada’s brother chose to be Edain, that’s how we’re kin to Estel, but I think it would be awful to be separated from the rest of your family forever. Why would anyone choose that?”
“Love?” Buffy suggested. “You might fall in love with a Man, like Luthien did.”
Even as little attention as she had paid to the many songs and sagas, she couldn’t miss the tale of Beren and Luthien. It was strange to think that they were her great-great grandparents.
Tindomiel shook her head with a certainty Buffy hadn’t expected.
“Maybe that would be a reason for Arwen or the boys, but even if I fell in love with one of the Edain, what happens to the Key if I die? Would it be released for something else like Glory to use? I mean, think about it. If I die like a mortal, I’m no longer bound to the circles of the world- would that mean the Key isn’t either? And if it isn’t, does that mean Morgoth can get his slimy claws on it? Not happening. Not when I can prevent it.”
Buffy regarded Dawn- no, Tindomiel, she reminded herself- in a new light. Even in the short time since their return to Arda, she had already left behind the helpless young girl she had been.
“Tindomiel? You will remain among the Eldar? Truly?”
Both Buffy and Dawn turned to find Arwen had climbed up to their talan so quietly they hadn’t noticed. Her eyes were shining, and deep within them, Buffy could see the relief.
“Of course,” Tindomiel replied, slipping easily back into Sindarin. “Wait- since when do you speak English?”
“I did not mean to eavesdrop. I asked your friend Tara to teach me when I first came home, and I have been practicing with her ever since we arrived in Lothlorien. It is not the same as the Common Tongue, and I did not like to think there might be things one of you wanted to say to me that I would not understand. I do not think I speak
very well, but I understand
a good deal. Did I understand right? You will not go with the Edain?”
Buffy glanced at her younger sister before nodding.
“Neither of us will. Dawn could still change her mind, I guess, but my choice is already made and I don’t think the Valar do backsies.”
Tindomiel snickered at the confused look on Arwen’s face before she took pity and explained what ‘backsies’ meant. She was pleased to note Buffy was paying attention as well, filing the Sindarin words away for later.
“But how could you know-“ Arwen stopped suddenly, her eyes widening.
She did not pale as the boys had, but suddenly Buffy found herself pulled to her feet in a hug so tight she dimly understood why people had always been yelping at her to mind the Slayer strength.
In that moment, heart to heart with her sister, Buffy abruptly learned much that would have been difficult to put into words. She knew that elflings were rare east of the sea, every one a precious treasure. Arwen had been so proud to be an older sister, even for that brief time before the baby had disappeared with their naneth. She knew that Ada, although he had put on a brave face, had privately feared the worst. That it had terrified Arwen that she might never see her adored baby sister again. And then a small blonde stranger had returned with Nana, accompanied by mortals…
The hug was only broken when Tindomiel started to giggle, although even then, Arwen did not let go.
“It is not funny!” Arwen scolded, but she smiled as she said it. “Do Ada and Nana know? Adar worries…”
“Um, not exactly,” Buffy mumbled. “It didn’t really seem like the sort of conversation to have. ‘Hey, Ada, it's good to be home, did I mention I died while I was away?’”
“Buffy never really told Nana,” Tindomiel said with some asperity. “I mean, ok, she knows there’s another Slayer, so she must have worked out that something happened, but never in any detail.”
“I didn’t want her to worry. It’s done and over with, and there’s nothing she could do to change it. Besides, the way you and the boys reacted, Ada might have a heart attack at the idea I was technically dead for a few minutes.”
Arwen sank down in front of the bed her sisters had been sitting on earlier, leaning against it, pulling Buffy down with her. As if this was something they did all the time, Buffy and Tindomiel snuggled in on either side of her. Tindomiel hauled a blanket down from the bed, and Arwen arranged it over the three of them.
“I doubt Ada would have a heart attack. Does this being dead for a few minutes have something to do with why they boys are suddenly so much more attentive to Xander?”
“He’s the one who revived her.”
“We owe him much. But as to not worrying, you are worried. I feel it. If it is not telling Ada and Nana that worries you…” she paused, considering. “It is your friends.”
“That whole not quite telepathy thing is cheating,” Buffy mumbled.
“You’re being silly,” Tindomiel declared from Arwen’s other side.
“How is it silly?” Buffy protested. “I brought them here, to a place where everyone else is immortal, and now I am too. They’re going to grow old and die and we’re going to stay just as we are.”
“I think Tindomiel still has some growing to do before the ‘just as we are’ applies to her,” Arwen mused, playing with the end of one her youngest sister’s braids. “Were it not for Adar’s explanation of what happened to you in that California
, I would say you did too, Anariel.”
Buffy stuck out her tongue.
“Distraction doesn’t work.”
“Yes, but Buffy, they knew that when they chose to come here,” Tindomiel pointed out. “They decided to come anyway. They thought it was worth it to spend what time they could with you instead of being parted forever immediately.”
“Yes, but knowing I could have chosen differently-“
“It is as you said before, Anariel,” Arwen interrupted gently. “It is done and over with. I think you are right about ‘backsies’. Having refused the Gift once, you will not be offered it a second time. All you can do now is make the most of the time that is given them.”
Buffy said nothing, but she did not move from the safe harbor at her sister’s side. She would never say so out loud, but she suspected that sharing thing went both ways, so Arwen would know that Buffy felt sometimes it was good not to be the big sister anymore.
All three daughters of Elrond were still curled together several hours later when Haldir arrived to summon them to their grandmother’s council chamber.