“Now, let’s see if we can sing it together, shall we?”
Ivoreth nestled close in the Grandmother’s arms, closed her eyes and concentrated. “A Elbereth Gilthoniel,” she added her voice to the elleth’s, following the melody and words that she had learned over the course of the afternoon, “Silivren penna míriel…” It was a beautiful song, and the time the Grandmother had spent teaching it to her had been very special and peaceful. The Grandmother was good at teaching. Ivoreth had mastered several new tengwar and sounded out several pages of the little book that had been used as examples, and now she was learning what the Grandmother called a favorite Elven hymn – whatever a hymn was.
“Hiril nîn,” a male voice broke into their song, and Ivoreth tensed as she opened her eyes to a hefty, silver-haired ellon wearing the grey and green of the Lórien guard. His eyes were on the Grandmother, however, and he spoke in quick and terse Sindarin. A soft gasp brought Ivoreth’s gaze to Celebriel, who was staring at the warrior in concern.
“What’s wrong?” Ivoreth looked from Celebriel to the Grandmother. “What’s happened?”
“Le hannon, Orophin,” the Grandmother nodded, and the Lórien guard bowed his head in respect before leaving the garden. Celebriel was already in motion, flowing to her feet and then handing down a dozing Raini into the Grandmother’s waiting arms before hurrying after the guard. Ivoreth shifted to make room for Raini, but patted the Grandmother on the shoulder to get her attention. “What is it?”
“Nothing serious,” the elleth replied with a sigh. “Your Ada wishes to speak to Celebriel, that’s all.” Ivoreth gazed into the Grandmother’s grey eyes, only to find her gazing back evenly. “It appears he is going to need to see a healer before he joins us for the evening meal, but…”
“Ada’s hurt?” Ivoreth gaped and stiffened away from the gentle embrace that had been holding her close. “What did Elrohir…”
“Shhhhh…” the Grandmother soothed her, pulling close again. “These things happen when warriors spar, especially when those warriors let their emotions rule them, as your Adar and Elrohir have lately.” The arm that held Ivoreth might have been slender and delicate-looking, but it was easily as strong as Ada’s had ever been. “Elrohir needs to visit the healer as well, you know, but neither of them is seriously hurt. Just a few bruises, a few scrapes…”
“You said they wouldn’t fight for real,” Ivoreth tipped her head back and accused the Grandmother with narrowed eyes.
“Ivoreth.” The Grandmother’s voice was soft, but had a tone to it that made Ivoreth shudder. “If either your Adar or Elrohir had really wanted to hurt the other, we wouldn’t be sitting here in my garden. Do you truly believe I would not wish to be with my grandsons if they were seriously injured?”
I don’t understand her. Ada needs a healer, and so does Elrohir, and she thinks it’s nothing serious?
The grey gaze softened, and a gentle hand smoothed Ivoreth’s hair. “I know this is hard for you to understand, little daughter. This is the way of the Elves - the way of warriors – and your Ada and his brother have been Elven warriors for a very long time.” She smiled down at Ivoreth’s look of disbelief. “It isn’t that I don’t care, or am not concerned that both of them probably are bloody right now. That was why their grandfather was there with them, to make certain that things did not get too far out of hand or that their emotions didn’t get so out of control that they forget with whom they were sparring. And although he does not raise a blade often anymore, your grandfather can still best either or both of them quickly enough with the kind of practice weapons they’d be using to put a stop to things before any serious injury occurs.” She smoothed Ivoreth’s hair again. “I know it is hard to trust, when you have only just met me; but when you see your Ada, you’ll see that what I’m telling you is the truth.”
“I want to see Ada.” Ivoreth was determined. “I want to see he’s really all right.”
“I know,” the Grandmother soothed. “Celebriel will not doubt tell him where we are, and he will come here when he has finished at the healer and taken the time to change…”
Ivoreth thought about insisting that she wanted to see her Ada now, but something in the Grandmother’s gaze told her that such defiance would accomplish little – indeed, that it would be wiser to say nothing – so she slumped. “This is all my fault,” she murmured with a hitch in her voice.
“No, little daughter, this is not your fault,” the Grandmother whispered. “Do you not remember the story I told you this morning?” She kissed the top of Ivoreth’s head. “Never doubt that you are loved, and wanted, by the both of them, and by your grandfather and myself. All children are precious, even,” she nuzzled Ivoreth’s ear, “when they take coins that don’t belong to them.”
“But they fought over me,” Ivoreth remembered the argument at the table all too clearly. “If I weren’t here…”
“Shhhhh…” The Grandmother began to rock her gently. “If you weren’t here, both your Ada and Elrohir would grieve terribly, and I would miss you as well. And now that they are done sparring, I would wager that much of the ill feeling between them is settled, and perhaps even Elrohir has found it within him to forgive you your mistake now.”
“He hurt my Ada.” Ivoreth’s voice was flat and unforgiving.
“Your Ada hurt him too,” the Grandmother reminded her. “Neither of them are blameless in that.”
I still don’t understand. How can it not be Elrohir’s fault that Ada is hurt?
“Ivo all right?” Raini asked, rousing, her little hand patting Ivoreth’s cheek worriedly.
“She’s worried about your Ada, little one,” the Grandmother soothed, shifting so that she could cradle both girls against her.
“I’m fine, Raini,” Ivoreth put out an arm and held her little sister as she leaned against the Grandmother.
No, I’m not.
Raini stayed within the joined embrace for a short while before fussing her way free and toddling out to explore the garden and pick more flowers. The Grandmother began humming the melody to the hymn she’d been teaching Ivoreth before they were interrupted, and peace returned to the garden. Ivoreth closed her eyes and let the soft and clear tones of the Grandmother’s voice lull her to a place where warriors fighting and her own faults no longer mattered.
The soft voice intruded into her dreams, and Ivoreth shifted in complaint.
“Ivoreth. Look who’s here.”
Slowly Ivoreth let herself waken to the Grandmother’s gentle urgings until her eyes fell open of their own will, and she found herself gazing into her Ada’s face.
“There you are, my daughter. Did you enjoy your day in the garden?” he asked with a smile.
“Ada!” Ivoreth straightened immediately, her eyes scanning her Ada for the slightest sign of where it was that he’d been hurt. His robe was fresh, his hair still slightly damp from a washing and newly braided. His eyes were clear, and his smile warm. There was also a slight cut and swelling to the side of his left eye, and a bruise on his chin. “Where else?” she demanded.
“Where else what?”
“She was very concerned when we heard you needed to visit the healer,” the Grandmother told him in a serious tone.
Ada’s hand went to his side, and he winced slightly. “Only some bruised ribs and a few bumps and scrapes, little one. Grandfather insisted on the healer wrapping the ribs after applying some salve to ease the bruising.” He put out his arms and gathered her to him, albeit his movements were slow and painful. “I am well, my daughter. Have no fear. I have suffered much worse with no ill effect.”
“E’rohir!” Ivoreth heard Raini exclaim, and she stiffened in her Ada’s embrace.
“He hurt you,” she stated flatly and lifted her head to glare at Elrohir over her Ada’s shoulder.
“Peace,” Ada chuckled. “I gave as good as I got, and Elrohir needed his own time with the healer. And now I think he has something he wishes to say to you.”
Elrohir had Raini firmly in hand and settled on a hip before limping close to where his brother crouched with his older daughter in his arms. With a look, he surrendered Raini to his grandmother’s arms again and then crouched down next to his brother with a wince of his own. His face also bore signs of conflict, with a nearly matching bruise at the lips and a hint of a much larger bruise peeking up his neck from under the collar of his robe; and his movements reflected the same slowness and pain as his brother’s. “Ivoreth,” he said, his voice calm and as serene as it had ever been. “I owe you an apology.”
Ivoreth turned her face away and into her Ada’s neck. Now he wanted to talk to her, now that he’d hurt her Ada?
“Ivoreth.” Ada patted her back. “You need to hear what Elrohir has to say to you.”
He wouldn’t listen to my apology; why should I listen to his?
“Ivoreth?” Ada insisted, patting her again to get her attention.
“I’m listening,” she murmured reluctantly so that Ada could hear. She felt him give a small nod.
“Can you look at me, Ivoreth?” Elrohir’s voice sounded sad.
No. I don’t want to.
She shook her head and buried her nose deeper into her Ada’s hair.
A gentle hand landed on her back. “I suppose I deserve this too,” Elrohir’s voice admitted. “You tried so very hard to apologize to me, and I wouldn’t hear you either. I had a right to be angry for a little while, but I had no right to be cruel for so long. And I had no right to say the things I did last night.”
You hurt Ada. That’s worse than stealing.
“I was and still am upset about many things, but it was wrong to make you the target all the time. I am very sorry, Ivoreth, please forgive me. I used you very badly, and I’ve hurt both you and your Ada, and even Celebriel. I’ve apologized to both of them; now tell me what I can do to make it right to you.”
Ivoreth’s arms tightened around her Ada’s neck as she tried to pull herself away from that warm hand at her back.
“Elrohir,” she heard the Grandmother say from behind her, “you must realize that this is not going to be something that will settle as quickly for Ivoreth as it has for you. What you have done is take an already fragile faer to the very edge of fading, where even now she remains. It is well that you have finally set aside your desire to punish her further, but the damage you have already caused will take time to heal. And remember, Ivoreth doesn’t understand the ways of warriors; all she sees right now are the bruises. Don’t expect more of Ivoreth than you yourself were willing to give her in her turn.”
“And Ivoreth?” The Grandmother’s voice held that tone again, the one that made Ivoreth shudder and lift her head from her Ada’s shoulder to turn and look down at the elleth. The gaze that met her eyes was piercing. “Remember how you felt, wanting so much for Elrohir to forgive you and having him ignore or abuse you no matter what you said or did. Would it be any more proper for you to cause that kind of hurt to Elrohir than it was for Elrohir to cause it to you?”
Ivoreth’s gaze slid unwillingly over to Elrohir’s face, finding his grey eyes clear of all the anger that had been in them, and filled with a sadness and regret almost painful to see.
I don’t want to. He hurt me, and he hurt Ada. He needs to hurt too, and not just bruises.
With a sigh, she settled her head back on Ada’s shoulder again, her nose buried in the fragrant, black hair so she didn’t have to look at Elrohir anymore. This was the only place she had felt truly safe, and even that was no longer assured. “Ada,” she whimpered, once more trying to shift away from the hand still touching her.
When the warm hand at her back dropped away with a soft sigh, she felt a small twinge of satisfaction.
“You’re safe, my daughter. All is well.” Ada was quiet for another long moment. “You know what? I think we all would do well with an extra day of rest before going on. One day without conflict would do us all good – if you don’t mind, Grandmother?”
“I would like very much an extra day with my grandchildren,” the Grandmother replied in a warm voice. “The feast tonight will be a celebration indeed.”
Ivoreth would never have imagined such a huge hall could be sheltered so high in the branches of a tree, but the massive mallorn held the room with ease. She also had never seen so many Elves before; hundreds of tall and beautiful people gathered at large, round tables that spread across the huge hall. Oddly, she saw no children, and she wondered at it. In Minas Tirith, it had been hard to find any place that did not have at least one or two urchins underfoot somewhere. What had happened to the children here?
Ivoreth glanced up and down the raised table at which she sat with her Ada, Elrohir, Celebriel, Raini and the Grandmother and Grandfather. She sat between Ada and Celebriel, who had Raini in her lap again. Beyond the Grandmother and Grandfather sat Elrohir, whom Ivoreth had been pointedly not looking at all evening. Once more, the conversation at the table was taking place in Sindarin; although, unlike the previous evening, there was no trace of anger present.
So this is a feast.
The food was certainly plentiful – more than enough to feed the entire crowd of Elves that had come to the hall – and smelled delicious. What bits Ada had put on her plate were in very small helpings, but still far more than she wanted to even think of eating. Remembering her Ada’s lesson from the previous evening’s meal – before the argument had broken out – she took small bites from everything. As before, the food was tasty and tempting, but she’d learned her lesson. She ate very sparingly, and even a cajoling frown from Ada couldn’t make her eat more. Even then, the food in her stomach made her sleepy, until the activity in front of her caught her attention. Elves were carrying things across the room, one of which she’d never seen before.
Funny, I didn’t see them bringing that stuff in. What is it?
What was even more amazing was the group effort that went into clearing many of the round tables from the floor of the hall, with those carrying the strange thing moving to another slightly raised platform on one side. Ivoreth stared with fascination at the tall and bulking wooden frame with many strings of different lengths, the squat, wooden drum with rawhide covering both open ends with the attached bag of sticks, and the glint of silver pipes being drawn forth from protective bags. Her eyes widened when the wood and rawhide tambour began a happy beat that soon had a single flute joining to sound an intricate melody. Then, with a finger running down all the strings to make a sound like falling water, the elleth seated at the strange thing joined in and filled in many of the holes in the sound that Ivoreth hadn’t even realized were there.
“Ada.” Her hand patted his arm to draw his attention to no effect. “Ada!” she tried again.
Finally he bent to her. “Yes, Ivoreth?”
She pointed, remembering to use her thumb in the Elven manner, the way she’d seen her Ada do many times, rather than her forefinger. “What’s that?”
“You mean the music?”
I thought music was just singing and sometimes flutes and a drum.
Ivoreth shook her head, her eyes glued to the way the harpist was moving her hands across the broad expanse of strings. “The tall thing with the strings,” she explained, her voice almost a whisper as she listened very carefully.
“Ah. The harp.” Ada’s voice smiled at her. He gazed at her face. “You’ve never seen one before?”
She shook her head, all of her attention aimed at that one instrument. Harp? She closed her eyes, the easier to focus on the sounds of the plucked strings amid the pure tones from the flutes and the rollicking beat from the tambour. Such wonderful sounds were pouring happiness into her as if out of the air, and she found that her toe was dipping in time with the tambour. Ivoreth knew she wasn’t the only one astonished and delighted; Raini was clapping her hands and laughing.
“You will have to talk to Elrohir, then,” Ada continued. “He’s the one who took the time to learn the harp when we were young. I preferred the flute, to be honest.”
That brought Ivoreth’s eyes wide open again, both in surprise as well as consternation. “Elrohir can play the harp?” she asked, not certain she’d heard correctly.
“Indeed,” Celebriel agreed from behind her. “He’s really very good. At home, he’s often playing in the Hall of Fire after the evening meal, when he’s home, that is. It’s a shame he didn’t bring his lap harp on this trip; you’d have heard him play long before now.”
Ivoreth looked up into her Ada’s face questioningly, and he nodded at her. “Lindir often claimed that Elrohir was one of his best students. Perhaps we will have the chance to hear them play together a few times before Lindir leaves.”
“You don’t play harp?” She really didn’t want to have to talk to Elrohir about it. She was still angry with him, and didn’t want any more to do with him than he’d wanted to do with her.
“No, daughter. I play the flute, Celebriel plays lute, and Elrohir the harp.” Ada’s face grew thoughtful. “Elrohir was always the quieter one of us; he preferred reading, where I preferred helping the archers make arrows. I could carry my flute with me, even when we rode with the Dúnedain against the orcs, but Elrohir preferred his harp. He has a small one he sometimes takes with him when we travel; although, like Celebriel said, he left it at home this trip – and he has a big one like that at home too.”
Ivoreth stared across the floor of the hall at the huge harp that would probably be taller than she was if she were to stand next to it. Her very fingers itched to touch the strings, to learn to bring out the music like the elleth playing it had. She turned her head slightly and glanced at Elrohir thoughtfully. “Will Lindir teach me to play?” she asked then, looking back up at her Ada.
Ada ran his hand over her hair and landed it on her shoulder. “I certain he would be happy to teach you for as long as he remains in Imladris, but he intends to go to the Havens with my father and the others in the autumn. That means he will not be there long enough to teach you all he knows, for it takes a very long time to learn to play properly and well, my daughter. If you truly wish to learn, you will have to ask Elrohir to teach you.”
Ivoreth closed her eyes again as the harpist executed another of the trickling runs of notes that sounded like a waterfall. I want to learn to make music like that!
I just wish I didn’t have to ask Elrohir to teach me.
The beat of the tambour changed, followed by a new melody from the flute and harp sounding as if they were talking to each other. Ada said something to Celebriel over the top of Ivoreth’s head in Sindarin, and suddenly the two were getting to their feet, with Celebriel dropping Raini into the Grandmother’s arms. Then the two of them joined the other Elves in moving to the music. Ivoreth stared at the way Ada and Celebriel spun and twirled around each other, sometimes with Ada lifting Celebriel into the air. Then Ivoreth stared even harder when Elrohir retrieved Raini from the Grandmother’s care and carried her out – and began the same kinds of steps with the toddler in his arms. He didn’t leap as high or spin quite so fast, but Raini didn’t mind; she was squealing with delight and surprise.
“Would you care to dance, little daughter?” a very deep voice sounded at Ivoreth’s side, and she turned to find the Grandfather standing very close.
“I don’t know how,” she answered him in a very small voice.
The serious face softened into a smile. “I don’t think that will be a problem,” he responded and held out a hand. “Your feet will never need to reach the floor. Come.”
Ivoreth gazed at the Grandfather for a long moment, remembering the gentle care she’d received at his hand the night before; and then she laid her hand in his. He let her find her feet, and then scooped her up into his arms in much the same way Elrohir had caught up Raini. “Are you ready?” he asked softly.
Wide-eyed, she nodded, and then found herself moving to the music of the harp and flutes, dipped and twirling in the Grandfather’s arms. The happiness that had poured into her from the music itself grew until it exploded from her in a laugh that startled her. “That’s good, little daughter,” the Grandfather chuckled at her, twirling her faster. “Let the music fill you and give your faer wings for a little while.”
Ivoreth’s arm tightened around the Grandfather’s neck and clung tightly as the ellon moved with the rest of the couples in dipping, twirling, spinning, swaying and leaping into the air. It was a magical moment where Ivoreth forgot who and where she was and became a part of the music, and the laughter continued to bubble up from someplace deep inside.
“Grandfather?” she asked as he carried her back toward her seat when the music paused for a moment, and many couples moved to sit back down again for a moment’s rest.
“Yes, little daughter?”
“Can we do that again?” she asked in an excited voice. “That was fun.”
“I tell you what,” he chuckled as hands claimed her from the back and startled her until she recognized her Ada’s touch. “Let’s let your Ada dance with you a few times, and then we’ll see. All right?”
“I can’t let you have all the dances with the pretty girls, daerada,” Ada laughed back and then spun Ivoreth in his arms until she could loop her arm around his neck as she had with the Grandfather. “It’s good to hear you laugh, sweetling,” he whispered to her as the tambour began yet a new beat.
“What about your ribs?” Ivoreth worried and bent to see if he was bleeding now after noting a hitch in his steps as he walked toward the other dancers.
“Elves heal quickly,” Ada replied, not letting her get too far out of reach. “Already I forget that anything has happened, provided you don’t squirm too much and hit a sore rib.” Ivoreth immediately straightened in his arms, fearful that it had been she to give her Ada cause to hurt this time, or to grow angry again. He shook his head and kissed her cheek gently. “Nay – none of that now – think only happy thoughts this night, my daughter.” He dipped her unexpectedly, drawing a surprised squeal from her and then twirled faster and higher than even the Grandfather had.
I think I like feasts.
A/N: The two Sindarin phrases at the top of the chapter are the first two lines of a hymn to Elbereth from canon.
daerada - grandfather (some dispute this, but I like it, so there.)
elleth - female Elf (pl. ellith)
faer - soul, spirit
Hiril nîn - my Lady
Le hannon - thank you
mellyrn - golden trees of Valinor (sing. mallorn)
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.