12. Issues of Trust
Chapter 12 - Issues of Trust
Ivoreth hesitated at the door to the Healing Rooms. She knew she needed to have the arm looked at - there were places on the outer bandages that showed that the oozing had been more than the day before, and it ached more than it had for a while - but she was more worried that her Grandfather would ask her difficult questions again.
"I am sorry I am late, little daughter," the deep, gentle voice sounded behind her, making her jump. She whirled to see Grandfather Elrond walking swiftly down the hallway toward her, and backed up against the wall. He frowned as he drew near. "Did I frighten you, child?"
"No," she lied quickly, unsure of his mood from the frown.
He knelt before her and clasped her good hand in his. "Yes, I did," he corrected gently. "I did not mean to."
"I'm sorry," Ivoreth murmured softly, unable to meet his gaze.
"Ivoreth." When he said nothing else, but did not move, she finally dared to glance at him again. "I do not want you to fear me, nor do I want you to feel you must tell me an untruth to protect yourself."
"I'm sorry," she said again, this time more sincerely.
A finger lifted her chin. "I know, little daughter. I know." He looked troubled. "I can see that you and I will have to have a little talk about trust once we have seen to your arm."
Her eyes widened. Another talk?
"Is that such a bad thing?" He tipped his head and gazed at her evenly as he rose. "Or would you rather I call one of the other healers to take care of your arm? If you are afraid of me, then perhaps it would be better…"
"No!" He had taken her hand in his, but now she clung to it so that he couldn't pull away from her. "You do it. Don't leave me!"
"I'll be good, I promise," she begged, now anxious that he not push her away because of the way she was behaving. "I won't be afraid anymore…" All those wonderful days talking with him, learning about how some plants help people heal and taking walks in his private garden; she didn't want those to stop. "I'll even talk," she conceded.
"Oh, Ivoreth!" With that, Grandfather Elrond bent and slipped his hands beneath her arms and lifted her up as if she were much younger. His height made it easy to settle her on his hip so that her bandaged arm was not the one caught against him, and he carried her into the Healing Rooms to settle into the chair that he normally asked her to sit on, with her held securely on his lap. "Sweetling, it isn't a question of your being good, don't you see?"
"Please don't send me away, you said you wouldn't," Ivoreth whimpered, leaning her head onto his shoulder.
"I will never send you away when you wish to stay," he promised in a firm voice. "Is that what you thought I was going to do?" When she nodded, he shook his head. "Why did you think that?"
"Because I didn't want to have another talk?" she finally offered hesitantly.
"And why was that?" Grandfather waited, but Ivoreth couldn't think of a good way to answer his question. "Our talk yesterday was difficult for you, was it not?" She nodded. "Did you think that all of our talks would be as difficult?" he asked gently, and she nodded again.
"And yet, we are talking now - is this as bad as you thought?"
She lifted her head and looked at him in surprise as she shook her head. Things had not started off well, but his questions hadn't gone into things that made her feel bad.
He's trying very hard to make me feel better…
"Is that why you were afraid of me at first today too?"
She nodded. "I'm sorry," she said once more. He hadn't done anything wrong. I was being silly again.
"Shhhhh…" His hand cradled her head against his shoulder. "Yesterday's talk was difficult, I know. You had a great deal of pain that needed to be expressed so that someone could understand; and now that I understand some of these things, you feel unsafe. Is that not so?"
Again she nodded. He understands me better than Ada does!
Grandfather Elrond leaned his cheek against the top of her head. "Do you remember the first time you and I met? You had no idea who I was, and all you wanted was your adar. Remember?" Ivoreth nodded, listening closely. "And then the second time you awakened, once you gave me half a chance, I was able to tell you who I was and why it was I sitting next to you and not your adar. And finally you felt safe enough to give me my wonderful message from Estel and Arwen. You remember that as well, do you not?"
"I also remember your adar telling me the story of how you came to be with him, and how you ran away from him the moment his back was turned the first time you met, and how it took days before you weren't turning away. It has been a long time since you had people around you all the time that you were familiar with and could trust not to do you harm. You learned caution in your cold time in the cistern, slowly losing those you cared about. It was easier - and safer for you and your family - for you to be overly cautious and run away when something confused or frightened you. And you have learned that lesson well." He kissed the top of her head. "And that is what you just did once more, in the hallway with me."
"You aren't mad?"
He hugged her. "No, Ivoreth, I am not angry, nor even disappointed. I know I must be patient and let you discover for yourself whom you can trust, who will keep their promises to you. All I ask for is a little time and patience on your part to show you that I mean what I say." Ivoreth raised her head and looked at him again. "Trust is something that has to be earned sometimes."
"Like Elrohir said when he found out I stole the coins from him? He said that I had broken his trust and it would take a long time for me to get it back again…"
Grandfather Elrond nodded. "To a degree, yes. Every day that passes where you take nothing that does not belong to you adds to his trust in you. In the same way, every day that passes where my knowing what you fear causes you no harm will add to your trust in me. At some point, the days will stop mattering , because trust will be there - both for Elrohir, as well as for you."
It sounds so easy when Grandfather Elrond explains it…
"All right," Ivoreth said in a whisper.
"Now." Grandfather shifted into a more erect posture and set her back on his knee so that he could look at her. "We have had our little talk about trust after all - something that you thought would be difficult and frightening. Was it as bad as you thought?"
Slowly Ivoreth's head shook. It really wasn't!
Her Grandfather's hand cradled her chin. "I cannot promise that all our talks will be so easy to get through, Ivoreth, so I will not mislead you. Some of the things you told me yesterday will need to be examined more closely - probably more than once - and those talks will no doubt cause you some discomfort. But in time, I hope, you will know that I would cause you no more grief than is absolutely necessary to help you heal; and perhaps in that time, you will learn to trust me again. Does that make sense to you?"
"And when I am scared?"
"If you wish, one of the things we can discuss while we take care of your arm in the mornings are the things that have confused you or frightened you since last we spoke. If you will explain what the problem is and how it makes you feel, perhaps I can help you to look at the problem a different way. We can work on your fears together." He smiled at her. "How does that sound?"
Ivoreth's nod was more certain. "All right."
"Good." With that, he gently slid her off of his lap and got to his feet. "Then sit down, little daughter. It is time we take care of your arm…" He examined the bandaging. "And perhaps we should talk about some of the things you shouldn't do with that arm quite yet?"
"I'm sorry, Grandfather."
Hands beneath her arms lifted her into the chair in a smooth and gentle move. "It is you who suffers when you do more than you should, child, not I. You need not apologize to me." He carefully lifted the wrapped arm and placed it in a long basin in preparation for the daily soaking. "I am thinking that when we are done, you might indulge me in a game of draughts. Your Grandmother wrote and told me this was a game you enjoyed?"
The stick moved slowly in the patch of sand, and Ivoreth whispered each syllable to herself as she wrote the tengwar. "A El-b-er-eth G-il-th-on-i-el... oh, Mordor!" She leaned forward to smooth away the U tehta over the last tengwa. She looked back over her previous work and grimaced at the same mistake repeated two more times.
I'm never going to learn this...
"I can tell that Erestor will enjoy having you as a student, if you are this diligent in your free time."
Ivoreth jumped. After her busy morning of lessons and games of draughts, she hadn't heard anybody coming close; and this Elf was different from all the Elves she'd seen so far. Taller than Ada, and with hair like threads of shining gold and dressed in a tunic and trousers of nearly white suede, he was grander than anyone she'd ever seen, except perhaps Elessar on his throne. She looked around, but she could see nobody else nearby.
"I'm sorry," she said quickly, running her foot over her miserable attempts to write. "I didn't mean to do something wrong..."
"What? You figured out your mistake on your own, and that is a very good thing. You need not apologize when you do things right, you know. Be proud of yourself, as you should be." The Elf squatted down, and Ivoreth didn't have to crane her neck anymore to look at him. "I am just sorry I startled you so much you jumped. Your Ada told me that I would probably find you here. I am Glorfindel." He put out a huge hand to her.
Ivoreth looked from the hand to the face and then back again before carefully touching her fingers to his fingertips and then quickly withdrawing. "You were looking for me?"
What did I do this time?
"Yes. Your Ada came to me and suggested that I join the two of you this afternoon."
Ivoreth's eyes grew wary. "Oh?"
The ageless face crinkled into a broad smile intended to calm her fears a little. "Indeed, and I am most pleased to have been invited. I understand he intends to spend some time in the stables; but he said if we got to the stables before he did, not to forget to let you see Morrod, lest I get nipped the next time I pass his stall. He says that you and that monster are friends?"
Ivoreth ignored the question and shifted to put a little distance between them. "The stables?" She had no idea where the stables were, and she wasn't so sure she wanted to go anywhere with someone she'd never met before. Not even if he were an Elf and said that he had spoken to Ada. Besides, why would Ada want to spend the afternoon in the stables anyway?
The smile grew wider. "Yes, indeed." The golden Elf rose and then seated himself on the bench next to Ivoreth, and the smile faltered a little when she scooted as far along the bench as she could to put distance between the two of them. "But I think, perhaps, it would be better if we waited for your Ada to join us. Am I correct?" He accepted the tiny nod easily. "Do you mind if we wait together, then?"
Ivoreth shook her head and tried to figure out what to do with the little twig she'd been using to practice her writing while trying not to stare. Ada had mentioned someone named Glorfindel a few times since she'd started living with him, and she now remembered having seen someone that looked like him from a distance once or twice. Close up, though, this Elf had almost a halo of light and energy around him, more even than Grandmother had. Ivoreth felt very plain and ordinary sitting next to such a person.
"How do you like Imladris?" the golden one asked her in a gentle voice.
Again she nodded. What does he want me to say? "It's pretty," she offered finally in a tiny voice, hoping her response would satisfy.
"It must be very different from where you come from, I would imagine," he persisted.
"Yes." Ivoreth glanced around the garden and couldn't help comparing the beauty of the flowers and the trees to the stone and wood and metal that had been all she'd known in the White City.
"This garden is a favorite place of mine; really, of almost everyone here. The Lady Celebrían designed it and had the flowers brought in."
"Cele… Celebrían?" Ivoreth tripped over the unfamiliar name, although she was certain she'd heard it somewhere before. She looked over at the Elf, only to find him smiling softly, looking around the garden with pleasure.
"She is your Ada's naneth." He looked down at Ivoreth again. "I am certain she would be very pleased to see you here, enjoying yourself."
Ivoreth looked down shyly and studied her slippers. I don't know what to say to him!
"Ah, it is about time you got here, elfling," Glorfindel said suddenly, rising as Ada entered the garden from the house.
"I see you've met Ivoreth already." Ada bent to give Ivoreth a quick hug when she ran to him and clung. "Did Glorfindel tell you why he had come?"
Ivoreth shook her head as she pressed close. "He said you were thinking about going to the stables, and something about Morrod…"
"Remember I told you that your grandfather kept many horses, and that you would learn to ride once we got here?" Ada's eyes were twinkling. "I spoke to him after you had left the table a little while ago, and he told me that you had a reasonably good day so far; and I thought that spending the afternoon getting to know some of the ponies here would be a good way to make the rest of the day a good one as well."
"So, now that your Ada is here, shall we go greet Morrod and then see about introducing you to the four-leggeds who also call Imladris home?" Glorfindel rose from the bench.
Ivoreth slipped her hand into her Ada's and very deliberately put him between herself and Glorfindel. Ada gazed down at her. "You do not need to fear Glorfindel, daughter. He was one of my teachers when I was much younger, and he would never hurt you."
Ivoreth peeked around her Ada to see Glorfindel's blue eyes looking at her with nothing but kindness. "Indeed not," he affirmed. "I am sworn to protect and serve all the members of this house; and that now includes you, little one."
Even so, her grip on her Ada's hand tightened. Too many new people. Imladris is huge!
The stables of Imladris was a huge building, and Ivoreth's nose twitched with the smell of horse and fresh hay. "We should see Morrod first, before doing anything else," Ada stated and pointed the way. "I am certain that he is most anxious to see that you are well again."
"He knows I was hurt?"
Ada nodded. "He nearly spent himself getting you here as quickly as he could. He knew you were hurt badly."
When a familiar black face appeared over a stall door, and a familiar nicker reached her ear, Ivoreth hurried forward. "Morrod! Thank you!" She reached her good hand up as high as it could go to cup the rounded cheek that had been moved into reach, then giggled as the velvety black lips nibbled delicately at her fingertips.
"Here I thought you and your brother were the only people who could get close to that unholy beast," Glorfindel shook his head in surprise.
Ada chuckled as his war stallion gave a sniff at the wrapped arm and then lipped Ivoreth's cheek in a gesture of fondness. "He and Ivoreth made fast friends before we left Minas Tirith, and he has always been gentle with her. I dare say that when she grows, he would probably have no complaints about carrying her."
"Well, if I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it." Glorfindel shrugged at Ivoreth's questioning look. "The only other person Morrod has ever allowed close to him until now was Elrohir - and the same goes for Elrohir's monster. Are you friends with Nuath as well, then, young one?"
"Raini rode with Elrohir," Ivoreth replied shyly. Elrohir's stallion had never let her get close, and Ada had warned her away from trying to make friends with him before they'd left the White City.
"Did Adar tell you which we should ask?" Ada asked Glorfindel, taking Ivoreth by the hand again and leading her away from Morrod after letting her pet his cheek one more time and tell him goodbye.
Ask? Ask what? Who?
"He mentioned the ones in the meadow pasture - remembering that they are of the smaller breed that would be more appropriate." Glorfindel's thumb led the way out the back of the building and off toward a green field with a small stand of trees in the distance. There a small herd of horses were grazing in the fresh, new grass.
Ivoreth flinched and cringed when the golden-haired Elf let forth a piercing whistle, and then watched with wide eyes as the horses all seemed to raise their heads and then begin to trot towards the fence where she and her Ada and Glorfindel waited. Soon several reddish-brown faces gazed at them with interest from a semicircle a short distance away.
"You stay there for a moment, sweetling," Ada told her as he vaulted over the wooden fencing after Glorfindel. Ivoreth nodded, and then giggled as she watched the little horses close in and each try to press close to one Elf or the other, very obviously searching for pockets or pouches where treats could be stored. She'd watched Ada play with Morrod like that several times and always enjoyed the show.
Ada and Glorfindel began speaking Sindarin so quickly that Ivoreth could barely catch one word out of many, but they were pointing to this pony and than, examining hooves and chests. Finally, of the larger group, they led two ponies over to the fence. "These two were very interested in meeting you. Come," Glorfindel smiled at her, beckoning her forward. Before she knew what was happening, he had reached down and lifted her over the fencing the moment she was in reach with strong and gentle hands.
"This is Ivoreth," Ada said, as if the ponies could understand him. Ivoreth saw the ponies' ears twitch, turning to listen to his voice and then aiming forward at her. The ponies were much smaller than Morrod, both of them sleek chestnut brown. One face had a white patch on her face, between her eyes and just below the forelock; the other face was a solid color. The star-faced pony stretched forward and whiffled Ivoreth's hair, making her giggle. The other pony pushed very gently at her sore shoulder before sniffing at the bandage and wrapping in the same way Morrod had.
"What should I do?" she asked in a small voice, utterly enchanted by the attention she was getting.
"Stand very still," Glorfindel told her. "Touch them and speak to them so they can learn your voice. They have a decision to make."
What do the ponies have to decide?
Indeed, the ponies looked at each other and nickered back and forth softly for a moment over the top of Ivoreth's head, and then the brown-faced pony turned and rejoined the others, leaving the star-faced pony to lay her muzzle on Ivoreth's good shoulder.
"It looks as if you not only have a new friend, but one willing to dedicate herself to you daughter," Ada announced with a proud grin. "This is even better than I'd hoped - sometimes it takes several tries to find a pony or horse to agree to accept a person. And this little one is already showing her affection for you," he added as a healthy burst of pony breath through a nostril lifted the loose hair at Ivoreth's neck.
"What?" Ivoreth stared at her Ada, even as she stroked the soft neck so close by her face. "What does this mean?"
His smile was broad. "It means that once your arm is healed well enough, you have a four-legged friend with whom to learn riding skills. You have been accepted - all you need do now is accept the gift of friendship she is offering you."
Ivoreth turned and gazed up into the pony's face with wonder. The little mare's ears were forward, and there looked to be a twinkle of expectation in the dark eye. "Oh, yes!" Ivoreth breathed, hardly believing her luck. "Yes!" She threw her good arm over the pony's neck and hugged as best she could, and felt hugged back as the mare turned her head to press down on her back gently in the kind of horse-hug that she'd only known once or twice from Morrod.
No wonder they talked about four-legged friends! Ada didn't give me the pony, the pony accepted me as a friend.
"Such a good friend deserves the best of names, don't you think?" Glorfindel chuckled lightly. "What do you think you will call her?"
Ivoreth backed away a bit and stared at her new friend as she thought hard, then reached the fingers of her good hand up to scratch the stiff hairs of the white star on the pony's forehead. "How do I say Pretty Star in Sindarin?"
"Gílbain," offered Glorfindel.
"Gílbain," Ivoreth repeated to herself. "I like that."
As if understanding what was going on, the pony tossed her head as well.
Ada laughed. "Then Gílbain she shall be. Here." He reached down and caught Ivoreth under the arms and lifted her up so she could throw her leg over the pony's back. "Let her feel your weight for the first time. Wrap your hand in her mane like you used to with Morrod so you can ride her back to the stable, where we will find a saddle of the right size for the both of you."
Ivoreth wrapped the fingers of her good hand tightly in Gílbain's mane, but the pony didn't shift or act as if unhappy with her burden or the tug on her mane. At a touch to the pony's neck, Ada began the slow walk back to the stable; with Glorfindel on the other side, his hand on Ivoreth's leg to steady her. Ivoreth remembered enough of her days on Morrod to sit up as straight as she could, but found it much more comfortable to have her legs actually hang down the pony's side for a change. The ridge of the pony's back made for an unfamiliar seat, but it wasn't too bad.
"Can we show Grandfather Elrond, please?" she begged her Ada. "I want to show him Gílbain."
"I think we can arrange that," Ada replied, his smile wide. "And I think seeing you on a pony and happy will do him some good as well."
Ivoreth found she didn't need to hold onto the mane quite so tightly, for the pony's steps were smooth and easy, except for a single almost prancing step that having her legs hanging down properly allowed her to weather. When Ivoreth's fingers tightened on the mane in response, Gílbain tossed her head and turned about as if to reassure her rider; and the entire exchange made both Elves chuckle heartily. She leaned forward a little and took the chance to pat Gílbain's neck quickly before taking hold again. "A pony, for me," she repeated to herself, unable to believe her fortune. "Will Raini get a pony as a friend too?"
"Your little sister will have to be a bit older before she will be big enough to sit on a pony properly by herself, but in time she will have her own as well," Glorfindel answered her.
"Can I take Raini for rides with me until then - after I learn? Please, Ada?"
Raini's not going to believe this! I'm not sure I believe it yet myself…
Ada laughed. "In time, sweetling. In time. Trust me."
adar - father
Gilbain - Pretty Star
naneth - mother
Nuath - Shadow