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'L' for Love: 1. 'L' for Love
Celeborn ignored Daeron's protests and kept a firm hold on his elbow until they reached the wounded oak. "Are you telling me you aren't responsible for those cuts in the bark? Beleg swears he saw you make them."
"I meant no harm! Those marks are only... well, I call them 'writing.'"
"A permanent way of setting down ideas." Daeron caressed the scratches. "This part here is 'Luthien.'"
"Luthien?" Celeborn could not see it. "Looks more like a jumble of bird-tracks to me."
"The symbols represent not images, but sounds. A mere few dozen sounds can be combined to form any word. Here, let me show you your name." Daeron patted at his belt. "Oh dear. I seem to have misplaced my knife. May I borrow yours?"
Celeborn noted, but did not mention, the bone hilt protruding from Daeron's boot. "Why, so you can cut this fine tree up some more? Of course not. Use a stick."
Daeron picked up a fallen branch and stepped towards the tree.
"I meant, use it on the ground!"
"Right." Daeron leaned forward and drew more bird-tracks by the tree's roots. "Here. C-E-L-E-B-O-R-N. See? The 'N' at the end is the same. And this 'L'. Isn't 'L' a lovely letter?" He sighed.
"I... see." Celeborn glanced from the strangeness by his feet to the strangeness on the tree. Some bits did match. "So what does the rest of the tree-writing say? The part that isn't 'Luthien'?"
Daeron blushed. "'Daeron loves.'"
"Dae- Oh." So he had finally decided to tell her. Good for him. Still... "You do realize that Luthien won’t understand this declaration any more than I do?"
"I do not want her to!"
"Then why invent a way of setting the words down at all?" Celeborn glanced at Daeron's misplaced dagger. "As a reminder of what you feel, in case you forget?"
"I could never forget my feelings. No, I write them down as a monument to their timeless nature. I tried carving on stone, but..." Daeron held up a bandaged hand. "My chisel slipped."
"So you decided to attack a defenseless oak instead?" Celeborn clenched his fists. "Look here, Daeron, I know you're in love, but if I ever hear of you carving on a tree again, I'll... I'll carve something on you!"
When Daeron's eyes widened, Celeborn feared he had gone too far. Then the minstrel spoke. "Oh, would you? What a splendid idea! Trees fall, even stone may crumble, but I... I could wear 'Luthien' over my heart until the end of Arda. Just as I carry her in it."
Celeborn stared at him. "Well... just stay away from the trees, all right?"
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