“I’m sorry you had to see that, sweetling.” Ada crouched down in front of Ivoreth after putting her down on a comfortably cushioned couch in the sitting room of the talan. “I’m sorry I frightened you.”
Ivoreth stared at him mutely. Is the Ada I know back now? She hoped so; the fierce Elf with the face of her Ada had been terrifying.
Very gently, Ada picked up one of her hands and held it in his. “I should have put a stop to his constant mutters days ago. I know this now. But I thought… I thought if I just kept quiet, he would eventually calm down about things. He usually does. I could even understand him not speaking to you for a few days – maybe a week – when we were elflings, that was how he settled things. But…” When he looked into her eyes, she could see his grey gaze was clear, and filled with sorrow. “I should have defended you better long before this night, my daughter. I am sorry.”
Defended me? But Elrohir is right – I am a thief…
Still Ivoreth said nothing. She could think of nothing to say that would help the situation at all, especially since the entire thing was all her fault. What was worse, for all she knew, it would only take a wrong word from her to bring back the fierce Ada that so frightened her.
Ada rose and then very carefully seated himself next to her on the couch, not letting go of her hand. “You must know that nothing Elrohir said would ever change the fact that I have made you my daughter, and that I’m proud of you.”
Proud of me? For what?
She looked down at where his huge hand swallowed her little one and shuddered. She was lost now, stranded among a people she would never understand, and there was no way home. There would be no new life for her.
Ada lifted her up and into his lap and held her to him very gently. His actions were of a kind that, only hours earlier, she would have found wonderful. Now all she could do was think about when he was going to erupt in anger again and whether she could move fast enough to get out of the way when he did. She was tired, very tired indeed. Her head, guided by a hand, came to rest on his chest. “You must believe me when I tell you that I would never harm you, or let another harm you. You are my daughter, and I have learned to love you very much.”
I thought I knew him, but I don’t think I ever knew him at all. He loves his brother too; so does that mean that if he gets really mad at me, that…
Still, because he seemed to expect it of her, she relaxed against him with a deep sigh despite the fact that her heart continued to pound in her chest as if trying to escape. She closed her eyes and hoped with all her heart that the quiet, peaceful moment would last long enough that she could calm and go to sleep here on his lap, and that he wouldn’t awaken her again in the process of putting her to bed.
A soft knock on the fragile wall near the entrance to the talan made her stiffen in surprise and her eyes jolt open again. “Elladan? May I enter?” Ivoreth closed her eyes and leaned against Ada again, although she didn’t relax. It was the Grandfather, and she had no idea what would happen next.
“Come,” Ada replied without moving.
“How is she?” the deep voice behind her asked in a very soft tone.
“In shock, I think.” Ada sounded strange, his voice shaky. “She isn’t responding to anything I say. All she does is stare at me with those big, brown eyes of hers, although I think she was finally relaxing a little before you came…”
“Your grandmother sent me to bring you some things that might help a little to support her body until her faer is willing to be strengthened as well.” Ivoreth could hear the Grandfather moving closer, and then there was a gentle touch on her shoulder. “Will you take a sip of this, little daughter?” Something cool was pressed to her lips.
Without opening her eyes, Ivoreth opened her lips enough to let the liquid in, and then swallowed in surprise when her mouth filled with something that tasted like warm sunshine through the golden leaves of the huge trees. In only moments, her heart was no longer racing quite so hard, and the worry that had filled her mind had backed away a little.
“Miruvor?” Ada asked.
“And lembas,” the Grandfather replied, now putting something else against Ivoreth’s lips. “Eat this, little one. You need it.”
It felt like a very smooth biscuit or a cookie against her lips, and once more Ivoreth obediently did as she was asked. The small bite she took didn’t make her stomach turn over, and she needed only to let the mass dissolve before swallowing. The biscuit settled into her stomach with a gentle yet satisfying fullness.
“Here – one more tiny sip,” the Grandfather urged, and Ivoreth had another small taste of liquid sunshine. There was movement, and then a warm blanket was tucked in around her.
The Grandfather began speaking to Ada, and from the tone of his voice and the tension in Ada’s, Ivoreth gathered that they were once more discussing what went on during the meal. Grateful that she didn’t understand what was being said and too tired to want to chase after the few words of Sindarin that she now understood, she turned her face toward Ada’s chest and sighed.
The Grandfather kept his voice even until, suddenly, it was filled with a sorrow and pain that even Ivoreth could sense without knowing the words. Ada’s hesitant response to that statement was almost as frightening as the sound of his fury had been.
What is going on? What is making them sad? I almost wish I could understand what they’re saying; but even when I do understand what they say, I don’t understand them.
The Grandfather broke into words that she could understand at last, words that made her tense again. “Give me your daughter now and go prepare her bed for her. She has eaten and now needs her rest to gather strength to face the new day tomorrow. While she rests, you need to think about what I said and decide what you are going to do. This cannot continue.”
“I will, daerada. Thank you.”
Ivoreth felt herself shifted carefully from one lap to another, and then a new set of strong arms was holding her close.
She opened her eyes and gazed up warily at the face of the Elf holding her now, and the Grandfather looked down and smiled at her. “Do not fade, little daughter,” the deep voice spoke softly to her. “You are loved, and you will have a place of your own in this family in time. Your Adar needs you more than he realizes, just as his brother does, even though he is in no place to admit it to himself yet. Find the straight path that leads away from the life you had before and keep your feet on it without fail, and you will deserve to belong to the House of the Peredhil. But for now, sleep in peace and safety, and awaken to a new day filled with promise.”
And then, to her utter amazement, the Grandfather began to sing softly. His deep voice brought forth visions of stars and glowing trees and a peaceful, green land where there was no sadness. Ivoreth couldn’t help closing her eyes to focus on the beauty the song was bringing to her, and barely even noticed falling to sleep.
Ivoreth stretched as she roused. The comfortable mattress beneath her and the warm blankets over her reminded her that they were in a new place, and her eyes opened to study the way the leaves and small branches over her head were woven so tightly that it was unlikely that any rain would come through in bad weather. She could hear the voices of birds very close by, and the intricate harmony of Elven voices lifted in a song that brought warmth and light into her mind. Living in the trees, in a talan, in an Elven city, was certainly different than living in Minas Tirith. Light curtains divided one room of the talan from the next, and they drifted slightly in the early morning breeze, making her pull her blankets just a little higher against her chin.
“Good morning, Ivoreth.”
And there was Ada, sitting in a chair next to her and looking much as he had the evening before. He’d changed clothing, however; he now wore a clean tunic and trousers, and a brush had rid his boots of the dust from the road. Ivoreth gazed at him, and she saw the same Elf that had loved her and cared for her for weeks now gazing back at her. The fierce and terrifying Elf from the night before seemed suddenly like a bad dream. “Good morning, Ada,” she offered tentatively.
Ada’s face broke into a wide smile. “You’re feeling better. Thank the Valar!”
Am I feeling better? Was I ill? I don’t remember; I don’t want to remember.
“Grandmother sent a light repast for us to break our fast. Would you like to join me?”
Ivoreth’s eyes swept the rest of the area set aside as her room. “Where’s Raini?”
“She stayed with Celebriel last night.” Ada had moved to the small chest at the end of the sleeping couch and pulled out one of her newer dresses. “Since we’re giving our horses the day to rest, you can wear one of your nice things for your grandmother. I’m certain she’d like to see her newest granddaughter looking like a proper lady.”
Her eyes caught his as he draped her dress over the end of her bed. “Are you still mad at Elrohir, Ada?”
Ada’s face flushed and then turned very pale, but he didn’t drop his gaze from hers. “I’m not sure yet, sweetling. I’m not so furious with him that I’m ready to tear him apart as I was last night, but he said some things…”
Ivoreth shuddered at the thought of the expression on his face the night before. “You scared me.” I do remember, I guess. I just don’t want to.
Ada came near and sat down next to her. “I know I frightened you, and I’m very sorry. Both Grandfather and Grandmother were very concerned about you and your reaction.” Ivoreth vaguely remembered a gentle face framed with silver hair over hers, and a deep voice raised in gentle song; and some quiet, simple advice that neither ignored the truth nor made it into an issue.
Is that what it’s like to have a Grandfather, Ada? He’s nice…
“That’s why you need to get moving now. Wash up and get dressed, and I’ll help you with your hair. You need to eat something; one bite of lembas last night doesn’t exactly qualify as having eaten well. And then you can show Grandmother and Grandfather that you’re doing better.”
“I’m sorry, Ada.” Ivoreth played with the hem on the blanket.
“Sorry for what?”
“Making you and Elrohir mad at each other.” It’s all my fault. If I weren’t here…
“No.” Ada pulled Ivoreth into his arms and held her tightly. “You had nothing to do with it. This is not your fault, Ivoreth. Don’t apologize for that. You made your mistake, and last night was not of your making. Last night was a mistake both Elrohir and I made together.”
“But it is my fault. You fought over me…” I still don’t understand.
“Only because you happened to be there, little one. The way things were going, we were bound to argue like that sooner or later. The only question was when and why.” Ivoreth could feel Ada shaking his head. “Things in our lives are changing too, and sometimes we’re not dealing too well with them.”
Ivoreth allowed herself to relax into her Ada’s arms, to feel safe again, at least for the moment. That feeling of love and safety, however fleeting, almost brought her to tears. “I don’t understand…” she began, finally trusting him just enough to tell him some of what she was thinking.
“I know you don’t, my little one.” He dropped a kiss on the top of her head. “Grandmother was right: you’re far from everyone and everything you’ve ever known or understood. I keep forgetting that you haven’t been a part of my life all along, and that living with Elves will be a shock to you for a while. You will come to understand us, in time.”
The Grandmother understands! The relief at being understood even a little made her lean into her Ada’s embrace with a small sob. Of one thing she was very certain now: she would do her best never to anger her Ada again. She never wanted to see the expression that had been on his face the night before aimed at her.
Ada cuddled her and folded himself around her as much as he could. “Be patient with me, Ivoreth. As old as I am, I’ve only been a son and an older brother; I’ve never been a father. I’m finding that it’s a lot harder than it looks, and that I have a great deal to learn.”
Once more, a soft knock on the fragile wall near the entrance to the talan brought Ivoreth’s wary gaze immediately to bear. Her hand frozen where it had been carrying a bite of bread and cheese to her lips. “Elladan? May I enter?”
“Of course, Grandmother,” Ada replied, rising. He went over to greet her with a gentle hug.
Galadriel hugged him back but soon made her way over to the table, and Ivoreth looked back down at her plate and busied herself with putting the next slice of cheese just so on the remaining slice of bread. “It’s good to see you up and eating, little daughter. Are you feeling better now?”
Ivoreth nodded silently, afraid to look at her.
“How pretty you look, in your gown. Is that new?”
Again Ivoreth nodded, uncomfortable. She sounds so nice.
“I am come to take Ivoreth with me to my garden, where we shall spend the day with the rest of the women of your family,” Galadriel’s voice held a hint of amusement. “Celebriel is already there with Raini – such a delightful child! Your grandfather has asked that I tell you he expects to see you at the training grounds after you’ve broken your fast.”
“The training grounds.” Ada didn’t sound very pleased, and a quick glance told Ivoreth that he was both confused and concerned by the request. “Did he say why?”
“No, and I didn’t ask,” the Grandmother replied. “I, on the other hand, intend to spend my day getting to know my new grandchildren. Celebriel tells me that Ivoreth has been practicing her tengwar. I thought maybe I might try my hand with a lesson for her.” That brought Ivoreth’s head up to look at the Grandmother, finding that grey gaze resting lightly on her with a smile in their depths. “Would you like that?”
Ivoreth nodded enthusiastically and popped the rest of her bread in her mouth before reaching for the mug of fruit juice that sat next to her now-empty plate. She had enjoyed learning the way sound could be seen and understood, and she missed her daily lessons with Celebriel. It would be a nice change from sitting on the back of a fast-moving horse to spend a day in a garden, learning more of the letters.
The Grandmother then spoke briefly to Ada in Sindarin, her voice firm but soothing, and answered by Ada in a quiet, almost defeated tone. Ivoreth looked to her Ada in alarm. “Ada?” she asked hesitantly, suddenly wishing for his arms around her again to tell her that both he and she were all right.
Immediately he bent over her and deposited a kiss on the hair above an ear. “Everything is all right, my daughter, and all will be well. Be good for your grandmother, won’t you?” He smiled down at her. “I will see you again later, perhaps for the midday meal.”
“Come.” The Grandmother extended her hand to Ivoreth, who rose from her seat and then took that hand shyly. “Elladan, we can walk partway together, and perhaps set your daughter’s mind at ease a little before parting.” She glanced at the table, with its used dishes. “Lainor will see to having your talan cleaned and the table cleared,” she promised.
If Ivoreth had ever thought the gardens in Minas Tirith to be beautiful, then the refuge to which the Grandmother had led her had to be the most spectacular place in all of Middle-earth. Everywhere she looked, something was blooming and filling the air with a sweetness that refreshed. Located at the bottom of a small hill and sheltered between three of the huge trees that the Grandmother called mellyrn, the grass was soft and that new-green that Ada had talked about.
At the Grandmother’s urging, Ivoreth had removed her slippers and then smiled as the thin blades of green had tickled their way up between her toes. Raini, also in bare feet and one of the new gowns, laughed and danced her way around and through the flowers. Surprisingly, the Grandmother sat down on the grass without the protection of any blanket or cloth, and patted her lap.
“Come, Ivoreth. We need to do something with your hair that is more appropriate to a young lady.”
Instantly wary, and uncomfortable at the implied criticism of her Ada’s efforts, Ivoreth moved slowly. “My hair is not right?” she asked finally, after taking a deep breath to steady her nerves to actually speak to the grand elleth.
The Grandmother’s face broke into an easy smile. “Your hair is fine for having been braided by an ellon who is more used to doing simple warrior braids than making a maid look pretty. I’m not going to bite you, little daughter,” she added, holding out a hand. “Come, sit with me.”
The hand remained outstretched and steady for the long moment it took Ivoreth to steel herself and give her hand to the elleth. Even then, the Grandmother took her time and let Ivoreth set the pace at which she neared and then finally settled into the waiting lap. She felt gentle fingers work at the thin leather strips that tied the bottom of the braids at either side of her head and then teased the braid loose again and then ran through the hair to straighten it. “What do you think, Celebriel?” the Grandmother asked the other elleth, who was patiently showing Raini how to link flowers together in a chain. “Should I give her a crown and put flowers in it?”
Celebriel’s smile made Ivoreth relax just a little bit. “That would look very nice with the new gown, don’t you agree, Ivoreth?”
“All right,” she agreed in a small voice. I thought she wouldn’t want anything to do with me.
The fingers moving through her hair were very careful, very gentle, and whatever they were doing felt far more complicated than anything Celebriel had done for her. “Raini, why don’t you gather some flowers for your sister’s hair?” the Grandmother called to the still dancing baby.
“F’ow’rs for Ivo?” Raini grinned and began dashing back and forth, gathering the blooms she chose in a tight fist.
“Already your little sister forgets the dark times, Ivoreth. That must bring you a great deal of peace,” the Grandmother said in a soft voice.
Ivoreth let herself watch Raini move about the garden with abandon and a smile of pure delight. “Yes,” she admitted finally.
“And you? Do you find your dreams and thoughts still troubled by the pain of what you left behind you?”
Daren! Ivoreth nodded carefully so as not to disrupt whatever it was the Grandmother was doing to her hair. Evien!
“And yet, that isn’t all that takes away your joy in living, is it?” the Grandmother persisted.
Stop! I don’t want to talk about it!
“I know that you suffer from Elrohir’s anger,” the Grandmother told her in a voice that was soft and comforting, “that you understand that you made a mistake and wish to make amends. You still grieve for your little brother and sister who were lost. Your life has been a hard one; and right now, it seems as if nothing is going right.”
Ivoreth caught back a sob and gave another careful nod. The memory of Ada's face, twisted in anger, was still very fresh and painful.
“I need to tell you a story, and maybe you will understand your Ada and his brother a little better. When Elladan and Elrohir were elflings, they were together always, and always competing at everything they did. From lessons to riding to sword fighting, each one was always trying to out-do the other. If one found or earned a reward, the other soon found a way to gain something very similar. They shared everything.
Then, many long years ago – long after your Ada and Elrohir were grown ellyn – their mother was traveling to visit me here and was taken by yrch. What was done to her was what almost was done to you, the day Elladan found you the first time; and it was Elladan and Elrohir who finally found her and brought her back to us,” the Grandmother continued, her voice bleak. Ivoreth stiffened, turned abruptly and stared up into the Grandmother’s face, who nodded slowly and sadly. “The yrch hurt her very badly; so badly that while her body became well again, her spirit was damaged beyond their father’s ability to heal. She left them behind and sailed away to Elvenhome, the only place where she would be able to find peace and the strength to heal.”
Ada lost his Nan too!
“Thank you, Raini, you picked some beautiful flowers for your sister,” the Grandmother interrupted her story to hug the smaller child and rescue the blooms she’d picked from a tightened fist. Then, as Celebriel caught Raini up into her lap and began tucking some of the blooms into Raini’s hair, the Grandmother continued.
“Your Ada and Elrohir both felt very guilty, thinking that their mother was hurt and had to leave them because they had failed to protect her; and after she sailed, they spent a very long time hunting down yrch and killing them. In all that time, they relied only on each other and their skill, much to their father’s and my worry. They would only come home for very short visits, usually when one or the other of them was hurt too badly for the healers out in the wild to care for them properly. It was like they were elflings again, competing to see who could kill the most yrch. Elrond was never certain he would ever see them alive again when they rode away.”
“Then, one day, they brought a young adan child and his mother back to Imladris with them, and their father adopted him as a son of the house…”
“Estel?” Ivoreth asked, completely caught up in the story. “I mean… King Elessar?”
“Yes.” The Grandmother nodded as she began tucking flowers into the braids she had made. “And at last, your Ada and Elrohir had a reason not to ride out to hunt yrch. They resumed their obligations in their father’s household, and yet competed for Estel’s favor and time.” The elleth sighed. “What one had, the other always wanted.” The grey gaze dove into Ivoreth’s. “Do you begin to understand why I tell you this?”
Ivoreth shook her head.
The Grandmother sighed and smiled. “Your Ada has you and Raini, and Celebriel. What does Elrohir have?”
Finally Ivoreth’s eyes opened wide as some of the Grandmother’s story began to make sense. “But…”
“You see, your Ada has gathered a new family for himself, a family that will help him bear with the idea that his father, and I, and several others whom he has known all his life will soon be sailing to Elvenhome. Elrohir, on the other hand, is still very angry, angry at those of us who leave, and now also angry at Elladan for choosing a family over sharing in that anger with him again like they did when their mother left. He wants to share in the family, but cannot also claim to adopt you or your sister.” The Grandmother smoothed her hand carefully over the braided coronet that held a rainbow of flowers.
“Ada said this morning that he and Elrohir were going to be arguing anyway, the only question was when and about what,” Ivoreth remembered aloud.
“Good. Then he was listening,” the Grandmother said with a brilliant smile. “Elrohir started listening last night as well. That means that the training grounds was probably the best idea…”
Ivoreth tipped her head. “What are training grounds?”
The Grandmother gave Celebriel a sharp look before answering. “They are a place where warriors go to practice their art, and sometimes to settle disputes.”
Ivoreth’s eyes widened. “Are Ada and Elrohir fighting then?” She felt sick to her stomach. It wasn't over after all. “With swords and knives? For real, this time?”
The Grandmother put a comforting arm around her and drew her close. “No, not ‘for real this time.’ On the training grounds, it’s called ‘sparring’. Don’t worry, though; both your Ada and Elrohir are very skilled. They will wear each other into exhaustion, but probably barely manage to scratch the other. And their grandfather is there to make certain things don’t get out of control and to make certain that they are listening to each other by the end of the exercise.”
“I don’t want them to fight over me,” Ivoreth worried, chewing on her bottom lip. What if Elrohir hurts Ada? What if Ada hurts Elrohir?
“They don’t fight over you directly, little daughter,” the Grandmother soothed. “They fight because that is the way they have worked out their feelings for a very long time, and they need these feelings worked out before they can go home to their father. Better they work them out here.”
The Grandmother’s face brightened, and Ivoreth wondered at the way she seemed able to move from one thought to the next so easily. “Let’s not worry about them anymore, however. Look: see what I have for you?” She reached into a small basket that sat on the grass not far away and drew out a slender book. “I helped your Ada’s naneth learn her letters and to read from this and then used it with your Ada when he would come to visit.”
The Grandmother opened the book, and Ivoreth bent obediently over the page to try to follow along, but the thought that Ada and Elrohir were fighting with real weapons, and that she was at the center of their fight, never was far from her mind.
“Ivoreth.” She looked up, and the grey gaze was understanding, but determined. “Your Ada will be fine, as will Elrohir, I promise. Don’t let their problems disturb your day. Today you are a child of the House of Elrond, visiting your grandmother’s garden and having a good and peaceful day free of riding horses.”
Ivoreth nodded obediently. This Grandmother was certainly a strange person, able to know what was going on in her mind all too easily, and swinging from very serious things to the very unimportant without pause. Still, the grey gaze that held her own didn’t accuse her, didn’t condemn her and seemed to invite her to let go of her troubles, at least for a little while.
A glance in Celebriel’s direction told her that the other elleth was smiling and waiting for Ivoreth to relax. “It’s all right, Ivoreth,” Celebriel offered. “For now, in this garden, there are no worries. Enjoy the flowers – and the tengwar lesson. It will be over eight days before you’ll get another, once we leave again.”
“And it will be hard for me to let go of my newest grandchildren,” the Grandmother said gently. “I get only a single day to spend with you before your Ada takes you away over the mountains, and I will not see you again until the autumn. I don’t want to miss a moment of our time together.”
Ivoreth took a deep breath and let herself relax in the Grandmother’s lap, leaning back against her. Already she was tired, as if she’d ridden the entire day in front of her Ada.
“Here. Let me hold the book, and let’s see how much of this you already understand.” The Grandmother put the little book in Ivoreth’s hands, and yet helped her support it. “Can you read to me?” she asked softly into Ivoreth’s ear.
Ivoreth bent over the book again obediently, determined to show the Grandmother that she’d been paying attention to Celebriel’s lessons. It was hard to keep the thought of Ada and Elrohir fighting out of her mind, but she would try.
adan - mortal, Man (pl. edain)
daerada - grandfather (some dispute this, but I like it, so there.)
elleth - female Elf (pl. ellith)
ellon - male Elf (pl. ellyn)
faer - soul, spirit
lembas - Elven waybread
miruvor - a restorative Elven cordial
talan - tree platform, dwelling of the Silvan Elves
tengwar - Elven writing system
yrch - orcs (sing. orch)
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.