“El! El, wake up!” The elfling bit his lip and then hissed at his twin brother again, shaking his shoulder. “Eh-ehl, wake uh-uhp.”
“Hush, El, go back to bed.” The elfling yawned and pulled his blanket over his head, but his brother tugged on it.
“El, the moon it high in the sky, and there are no gifts left yet. We can still wait for Adar Rhiw and catch him!”
With a little whine, Elros tugged his part of the quilt back. “Elrond, go to sleep. Adar Rhiw will not come if you are awake, and if you stay awake, we will have no treats in the morning.”
At the fireplace, which was glowing with the final embers of the flames that had been present hours earlier, two pairs of identical boots were against the wall. Once a year, at the onset of winter, Adar Rhiw was said to come to all of the homes of all of the elflings. If they had been good that year, they would awake the next day to find fruits, nuts, and candies filling their boots, and perhaps a small toy wrapped in colored paper and tied with a bow. Disobedient elflings, however, would be gifted with boots filled with coal, dirt, or twigs.
Elrond let out a puff of air and pouted. Every year he planned to stay awake long enough to catch a glimpse of the mysterious elf who rewarded good elflings, but every year he never managed to keep his eyes open all night. This year, he had taken a nap early in the day, and was wide awake now.
“Go to sleep, El, I have been especially good this year and I want my candy,” declared Elros.
The slightly younger elfling nestled against his pillow, but left one eye open just a little, squinting at the fireplace.
“Go to sleep all the way, El,” Elros scolded. “Please, El? Pleeeeeease? I have been soooo good, you will ruin it!”
“Fine.” Elrond’s little arms tucked his pillow beneath his head and he snuggled into it.
“Thank you, El. Good night.”
“’Night.” Elrond kept his eyes closed, trying now to fall asleep. He would hate to disappoint his brother, and really, wasn’t finding the treats in the morning more important that finding out what Adar Rhiw looked like?
Elrond was just starting to drift off to sleep when he heard the creak of the door. Opening his eyes blearily, he listened as someone padded across the floor, hearing the rustle of a sack as it was opened. In the dim light filtering in from the hall, he was able to make out the shape of their guardian, Maglor. The older elf filled their boots with all kinds of unseen goodies, and then placed a small wrapped package for each of them at the end of the bed.
Just as he was about to leave, Maglor stepped over to the elflings. Elrond squeezed his eyes closed tight, not wanting to give away that he was awake. He knew that Maglor was leaning over him, but not quite what was going on. Then he felt the familiarity of being kissed on the forehead, and of someone tickling him under the chin. Elrond couldn’t help but let out a little giggle, and he bit his lip again, opening one eye.
Maglor shook his head with a smirk, placed his finger to his lips and gave Elrond a wink. Picking up his empty sack, Maglor left the room, closing the door behind him.
Elrond sat up and reached over to wake Elros and tell him of what he saw- but then he recalled Maglor’s gesture. Grinning to himself, Elrond decided it was best for him to keep the secret of Adar Rhiw’s identity to himself.
- - -
Elrohir clutched his stuffed puppy and tried not to peek at the door. Every year it was the same: He would try to stay up, but he would always fall asleep before Adar Rhiw came. Across the room, Elladan snored lightly, no doubt drooling on his own matching stuffed animal.
He was nearly in a state of slumber when Elrohir heard the handle of the door click. He shut his eyes quickly and listened to the shuffle of someone entering. He could hear the boots being filled, and anxiously listened as a package was placed beside him in his bed, and then another on the other side of the room where Elladan slept.
Curiosity got the better of him, and Elrohir opened one eye. In the dim light from the full moon, he gasped when he saw his father leaning over Elladan, kissing his brow.
Elrond made a soft tsking sound. “Adar Rhiw does not leave gifts for little elflings who do not go to sleep,” he whispered, but he did not sound entirely serious.
Elrohir, his eyes squeezed tightly shut, felt the dip in the mattress when his father sat down. He felt the kiss on his forehead and a tickle under his chin, which caused him to giggle. Looking up, he watched his father place a finger to his lips and wink before retrieving the empty sack and silently sneaking out of the room.
Smiling to himself as he hugged his stuffed toy, Elrohir drifted off to sleep, keeping the secret of Adar Rhiw’s identity to himself.