Hidden in the deep afternoon shade of a tall chestnut, Elrond smiled as he watched his young foster son shadow Legolas Greenleaf across the courtyard. Estel had been doggedly stalking the wood-elf since his arrival. Legolas was a new, and therefore wondrous, creature in Estel’s eyes, but the awe would fade soon enough. Such was ephemeral nature of a child’s attention.
Ephemeral - the word fit Estel much too well.
Elrond’s smile dimmed as he watched the child scramble onto the thick, interlaced branches of the ancient oak where Legolas now rested. Reposing as near to the wood-elf as he could manage, Estel donned his most serious, grown up expression before responding to something Legolas had said to him.
Elrond sighed. Estel wished so badly to be grown. Much too soon that wish would be granted. Much too soon Estel would fade away. Such was the ephemeral nature of Men.
Elrond started at the sound of Elrohir’s voice. Dragging his attention away from Estel and Legolas, he smiled wanly at his son. Elrohir reclined against the thick tree trunk beside him.
“You are troubled?” The twin asked, but it was not a question. Palpable waves of melancholy emanated from the elf lord’s wilting form.
“Nay. I am well, only lost in my thoughts.” Brushing away Elrohir’s concern, Elrond forced a more reassuring smile upon face.
Elrohir raised a dubious eyebrow but said nothing. Instead, he turned his attention in the direction his father had been staring. His gaze fell upon his little brother sitting high in an oak, deep in conversation with Legolas Greenleaf. Elrohir smiled. It had taken quite a bit of fast-talking to convince the wood-elf to return with them after he’d turned up to let them know of Estel’s safe return home. The effort had been worth it. Although the battle in Erebor had taken its toll on Legolas, dimming the light of wood-elf’s spirit, the peace of Rivendell was beginning to restore its brilliance.
Now, to figure out what was dimming his father’s spirit…
“May I ask what it is you ponder so deeply?”
Elrond followed Elrohir’s gaze, then bit back a sigh. He’d no desire to share the weight of his thoughts with his son.
“The ephemeral nature of caterpillars,” he finally answered, as his eye glimpsed one inching its way up the rough bark beside the twin.
Elrohir turned his head and studied his father, as Elrond reached out to capture the fuzzy green creature. He didn’t meet his son's gaze. Instead, Elrond focused on the caterpillar inching across his palm. Shifting his attention back to the child and elf across the courtyard, Elrohir suspected he understood what truly troubled his father’s thoughts.
“Their time is brief, that is true,” he began, fixing his gaze upon Estel. “But that does not lessen the beauty of the butterfly they become. Nor do we mourn the butterfly because it, too, quickly fades. Instead the sight of one lightens our hearts, for such is the nature of so ephemeral a gift. We appreciate it all the more for brevity of it.”
Elrond said nothing, but the hint of a smile tugged at his lips. My son has grown wise, indeed he admitted to himself. Elrohir was right. They had but a brief time to enjoy Estel’s beauty, but that did not lessen the gift.
Gently releasing the caterpillar, Elrond watched it inched up the rough bark, before looking at Elrohir, intending to thank his son. However, before his mouth could open, the elf lord abruptly noticed the bladder tucked beneath his son’s arm. It bulged with…something green. Frowning, he raised an amused eyebrow.
"Do I want to know what you're doing with that thing?"
Elrohir turned to meet his gaze, then glanced down at the bladder as though he’d forgotten he held it.
“Nay, it would be better for you to ponder the ephemeral nature of this peaceful day,” he replied, grinning mischievously as he pushed away from the tree. “Now, your pardon, father, I must be off.”
Shaking his head disapprovingly, Elrond merely watched the twin go, not quite able to manage the frown he intended. Smiling, he turned his attention back to the oak across the courtyard, deciding to heed his son’s advice. He’d have plenty of enough time to ponder the chaos about to erupt after this ephemeral moment of peace had passed.
A/N#1: The adventure from which Estel had safely returned may be found in "Aragorn the Mighty".
A/N #2: The battle referred to is The Battle of Five Armies from "The Hobbit" which was fought in early winter of 2941 Third Age.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.