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The twins teach young Estel a culinary trick or two. Rated General Audiences.
Estel’s stomach grumbled as he trudged down the valley after the twins. His boots slid about in the mud, and branches beaded with fresh rain hung over his head.
“Smile, young Estel,” Elladan called. “Soon we shall feast!”
“How?” Estel felt tears sting his eyes. “We didn’t catch anything! It was a waste of time!” He’d been longing to impress the twins by gutting a deer alone, but they hadn’t seen so much as a rabbit. To make matters worse, he was wet from his cloak to his privates.
“There will be other hunts, little brother – and this one has not been in vain.” Elrohir patted the cloth sack that hung from his belt.
Estel scowled, knowing well what the pouch contained. “I don’t like mushrooms.”
Elladan lifted a finely-groomed eyebrow. “We’ll see about that.”
When they arrived they did not take him back to his mother’s quarters, as he had expected, but instead whisked him off to the kitchens. Elladan spread their cloaks in front of a fire to dry, and Elrohir emptied their spoils onto one of the large wooden tables. He pushed the small mushrooms to one side and lined up the bigger, flat ones in front of him. Some of them were the size of his hand, Estel marvelled – though the sight of the exposed brown gills made his insides turn to jelly. He watched as Elrohir carved slices off a cheese with an orange rind and laid them on top of the mushrooms. “What are you doing?”
“Preparing your dinner.”
“I know you do not like mushrooms. Prepared this way, they taste much better.”
If the other Elves found it odd that the sons of Elrond had commandeered the kitchen, they did not say so. Estel thought of running back to his mother while the twins were busy and so avoid eating the mushrooms, but he knew that would be rude, and besides, he liked watching his foster-brothers. Elladan handled a knife just as deftly when chopping herbs as he did when practising hand-to-hand combat, and when Elrohir pulled the mushrooms from the oven he looked as proud as if he’d slain a troop of Orcs.
“There.” Elladan slid two of them onto a plate, scattered fresh herbs over the top, and handed it to his young foster-brother. “Even you could not dislike that.”
Estel raised one of the mushrooms to his lips, breathed in the meaty smell of the cheese mingled with the pepper of the herbs, closed his eyes, and bit down.
In years to come he would learn to appreciate mushrooms – in the wild there was often no other food substantial enough to sustain him when bread and meat were scarce. For now, though, he choked in disgust and sprayed his mouthful all over Elladan’s tunic.
“I’m…sorry,” Estel coughed as Elladan’s lips pursed and Elrohir roared with laughter. “I just…I can’t eat them!”
“Estel,” Elladan said, “I think it is time that you learned to do laundry.”
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