2. The Widow
The boy and his mother had apartments in one of the smaller buildings close to the river. Gilraen set aside her needle and colored threads and rose when her son led Legolas into the room.
"Welcome, Legolas. We have much to speak of." She did not hold out her hand, and Legolas was oddly relieved at this. He did not entirely trust his ability to conceal the effect this lovely woman had upon him should he actually touch her.
She turned her attention to her son saying, "Estel, it is time for you to practice your letters."
Much to Legolas's surprise, the boy nodded and disappeared into the next room with only a slight wistful glance back over his shoulder. "He obeys you."
"For now," Gilraen replied
The room was filled with embroidered hangings depicting scenes from the history of Ennor. An unfinished tapestry stood in a frame by the chair the lady had just vacated.
"These are beautiful," Legolas said.
Gilraen shrugged, "The women of the Dúnedain usually have little time for such frippery. I would much prefer to be tending a fire and mending my husband's shirts. This idle pastime is all that is left to me now. That, and my son. I must thank you for the kindness you showed him today."
"It was no kindness," Legolas protested. "If you must know, I probably frightened him into the river to begin with." Almost getting her child drowned was not the best way to impress a lady, he thought ruefully.
"He told me the whole story," Gilraen said. "I ask your pardon for the misbehavior that provoked you. I am at my wits end with him. He has no playmates his own age and he has no older male to guide him."
"Master Elrond . . ."
"Master Elrond is busy with other cares. So is the wizard, Mithrandir. I think you are the first male who has said more than a few words to my boy in years."
"I am sure Elladan and Elrohir would be willing to guide him."
Gilraen tensed, and Legolas wondered if he had said something wrong.
"I watched my husband ride off to hunt orcs with those two, and I never felt a moment of fear. I was very young that day. My youth and my trust ended when they brought him home with an arrow through his eye. I know in my heart it was no fault of theirs. I also know the day must come when I must give my son to them to learn the skills of manhood. But, Legolas -- not yet. Not yet."
Legolas nodded. "I can well understand a parent's desire to protect a child." He could also sympathize with a child's need to slip the leash from time to time, although he was too in awe of this lovely woman to voice that sentiment aloud.
"You are young for an Elf, are you not, Legolas?" she continued. When he smiled wanly and dropped his eyes, she laughed. "I know -- not polite. You see, I can be as impertinent as my son if it suits me."
Legolas continued to smile but still made no answer. After years of dodging inconvenient questions, especially those concerning his age, with that tactic, he had smiling serenely down to a science.
"Such a strange people you Elves are, to be ashamed of the vitality of youth. I can see it in your eyes. The others are all so fair and untouched in beauty. But their eyes are old. I think Aragorn senses this in you too; that openness to the world and the curious spark that still exists. I think this is why he has taken to you so readily."
"You are very young too, Lady Gilraen," Legolas said, furrowing his brow. "Surely, you are younger than I am by many hundreds of years, so I find it sad that you should speak to me of youth as if your own had passed. I am told the people of the Dúnedain live to a great age for those of the Second Born."
Gilraen sighed. "I feel a great age is not for me. My son will soon grow to manhood and leave me, as he must, and then I shall be free to join my Arathorn beyond the circles of this earth. I have given hope to Men. I keep none for myself.
"But let us not talk of sad things. My son is all in eagerness that you should sit with us tonight at Master Elrond's table, and I know your presence would give me pleasure as well."
"In that case," said Legolas, hoping his unseemly joy at the prospect of an evening spent in this lady's company did not show on his face, "I should like that very much."
* * * * * * *
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.