6. Starting to Belong
The melody being sung was familiar, and Ivoreth found herself humming in her dream even as she slowly moved to awaken. "There you are, little daughter. You slept a long time." She opened her eyes at a gentle hand smoothing the hair back from her forehead to find Grandmother sitting on the edge of the bed where Ada had sat to sing her to sleep. "Are you feeling better again?"
Ivoreth blinked. She isn't mad? "I'm sorry," she murmured guiltily.
"You've done nothing wrong, nethben. But perhaps you can tell me why you ran, so I can understand you better," Grandmother soothed.
Ivoreth's sadness caught in her throat again, making her have to swallow hard just to speak. "Nan died, Da died, Evien died, Daren died, and..." She began to tremble. "...and now you and Ada will leave too. Everyone I love..."
"No, no, little daughter." Grandmother smoothed her hand over Ivoreth's forehead again. "Your Ada isn't leaving; not for a very, very long time. Is that what you thought, that he would just take you to his home and then leave when I do?" When Ivoreth nodded, she just shook her head. "Your Ada has no intention of leaving you, Ivoreth. Quite the contrary. If I read him properly, he has every intention of bonding with Celebriel as soon as he can ask permission from her father. Soon you will have a naneth and an adar. Do you think he would do such a thing if he were planning to leave?"
Ivoreth frowned and thought. Celebriel had spoken of writing letters to her father and mother to be read long after they had gone West, so Celebriel wasn't planning on leaving. And if Grandmother were right, Ada wouldn't marry Celebriel just to leave her behind...
He isn't leaving yet?
"Tell me again now, little daughter, why did you run?" Grandmother pressed gently.
Ivoreth gazed up into the serene and beautiful face. "Because... " She tried to finish the sentence, but couldn't think of a good reason. She'd run because that was what she'd always done to put her pain behind her, when it came from the outside; because...
"Because you forgot one important difference between your life before and your life now," Grandmother filled in the silence, her eyes sharp and yet gentle. "You have been alone, with no one to lean on or ask for help, for a very long time. But Ivoreth..." The graceful hand cupped Ivoreth's cheek. "...you're not alone anymore. You have your Ada now to help you when the hurt inside gets too big to handle." The hand moved to Ivoreth's chest, as if Grandmother knew exactly where it hurt to think Ada would leave her like all the others. "You have Elrohir, and Celebriel; you even have me, for a little while longer, anyway. You are part of a family again, even if we are all still strangers to you. Because your Ada loves you, we love you too and want to help." The hand returned to cup and warm the cheek. "One day, you will remember that, and come to one of us to help you before you run, and you'll learn I'm telling you the truth."
Ivoreth's eyes filled. She didn't dare go to Ada, for fear of making him angry; she was too angry with Elrohir, and didn't trust him at all anymore. But Celebriel, maybe; and Grandfather... "I'm sorry," she said again, this time meaning it.
"I'm sorry too," Grandmother responded in a whisper. "I'm sorry for all that you lived through to make learning to trust in your new family such a difficult thing to do." She leaned forward and dropped a kiss on Ivoreth's forehead. "And now, I need to return something to you." A hand slipped into a hidden pocket in the flowing material of her skirt, and when it appeared again, it held the little book of words and letters. "Elrohir returned this to me - and now I return it to you. It is yours, you know."
Ivoreth stared at the book as if astounded that it kept coming back to her and then lifted sad eyes to the Grandmother. "But I don't deser..." Gentle fingers over her lips kept her from finishing her sentence.
"Your Ada told me that was what you would say, and I will tell you the same thing he did. I don't want to hear you say that ever again. You do deserve, because I say you deserve. I have guarded and cherished this book for a very long time; and when I gave it to you, I gave it to someone I knew would cherish it as much as I did and see it passed down to the little ones properly." Grandmother's storm-grey gaze pinned Ivoreth where she lay. "Was I mistaken?"
Ivoreth looked back at the book, and then back up at the elleth. Slowly she shook her head. She really wants me to have it?
"Then here." Grandmother placed the book once more in Ivoreth's hands. "Take good care of it for me."
Ivoreth pulled the book to her chest again and held her treasure tightly. "I will. I promise."
"And now, if you're ready, you can come down and join us in the garden for a little while before supper is served. I think I remember your Grandfather talking about continuing a game of draughts?"
Ivoreth felt as though the sun had just broken through thick, dark clouds. "He did?"
"He did," Grandmother confirmed. "And Raini spend a lot of time picking flowers for your hair and hers, so I'm certain she'll be expecting me to do your hair again. Will you mind if I undo your Ada's work again today?"
Of course not! I still don't understand, but I don't care. Having a Grandmother and Grandfather is wonderful! I just wish...
"No. No more sad thoughts," Grandmother said with a quick shake of the head, as if she had heard Ivoreth's very thoughts. "The sun is warm, it is a good day. Let's go enjoy the rest of it, shall we?"
Ivoreth smiled and sat up. She very carefully stowed her little book at the bottom of the bundle that she would be sitting on, where it would as safe as she could possible make it, before slipping her hand into Grandmother's.
Grandfather stood up from his seat at the table, and the two other conversations that were ongoing fell silent in expectation. "As this is the night before your leave-taking, we have gifts for our three new daughters," he announced as the servant cleared away the emptied plates of the evening meal. He looked around the table, his eyes lighting on Ivoreth and Celebriel, who held a wide-eyed Raini in her lap. "It is tradition that those who visit the Golden Wood for any time as friends take a piece of us with them when they depart. It is only more important when those visitors are new members of the family. We are pleased and proud to know our family flourishes once more."
Three young ellith entered the private dining area, each carrying a fold of grey cloth that seemed to almost shimmer in the candlelight. "These are Lothlórien cloaks. They will keep you warm and dry when the weather is foul, and in dangerous times will hide you from unfriendly eyes. Wear them and remember your time beneath our trees and know that you belong here, if nowhere else."
Ivoreth's eyes widened as one of the ellith came to stand beside her chair and carefully draped a fine and warm grey cloak over her shoulders. Ada bent with a smile and fixed the cloak with the silver and green leaf-shaped pin at the neck. "I remember seeing cloaks like these on Estel and Legolas and Gimli during the War," he commented.
"Indeed," Grandmother nodded. "We gifted all of the Fellowship with cloaks like these before they left us - and they served well, I have been told."
Ivoreth ran her hands over the tight, soft weave of the material. The cloak was very light, but she was already feeling warm and toasty beneath it. A quick glance at her little sister showed her that Raini was also feeling out her cloak.
"This is a beautiful gift, my Lord, my Lady," Celebriel said in a husky voice that betrayed her emotions. Ivoreth glanced at her in surprise - normally so little seemed to upset the pretty elleth that traveled with her. "I will treasure it always." Even Celebriel was touching the fabric of the cloak that now draped her shoulders with gentle fingers.
"And now, our grandsons have agreed to favor us with some entertainment to bring the evening to a close." Grandfather sat down.
"Ada?" Ivoreth asked, her eyes wide.
Ada just patted her shoulder and nodded at Elrohir. The two Elves moved to the back of the room for a moment and then came forward. Ivoreth's mouth dropped open when she saw that Elrohir had in his hands a harp much smaller than the one she'd seen the night before, and that Ada had a silver flute in his. The two of them moved to chairs that had been very quietly placed not far from the hearth, and sat. Elrohir toyed with the little pegs at the top of the harp, listening very carefully as he tuned the harp.
And then, with a simple nod, he ran his hands along the strings in the same waterfall sound that had so caught at Ivoreth's attention. Ada immediately broke into a jaunty and happy melody, which Elrohir made sound rich and full and beautiful when he joined in and once more filled in the holes in the music.
They were right - Elrohir can play the harp. And Ada's really good on the flute too!
Ivoreth's toe immediately began tapping in time, and she watched and listened as her Ada's brother smiled and seemed to know exactly what the flute intended. The flute wove the melody up and down, the music making her feel as if she were listening to birds singing high in the trees. After a while, it slowed and changed, and became somber and very stately; and suddenly, Celebriel started to sing the words to the melody, joined very shortly by Grandmother and Grandfather. The three voices broke quickly from melody into harmony: the Grandfather's deep voice giving depth to the music beyond even that of the harp, while Celebriel and Grandmother's voices wove the melody back and forth between them.
She didn't know what was being said, but Ivoreth could see in her mind's eye a beautiful maiden with hair as dark as night, wandering and being found by a very handsome-looking man. As the song progressed, Ivoreth found herself captivated by the musical pictures being painted in her mind. She leaned her elbows on the table and rested her face between her hands, closed her eyes and just listened with every ounce of her energy.
Songs in the inns back home never sounded anything like this!
The song was a sad one that, by the time it ended, had Ivoreth in tears, as much from the beauty of the music that had unfolded around her as from the tragic ending to the story. She felt comforting arms go around her and found that Grandmother had moved to the chair Ada had left, so she leaned into her side and sniffled shamelessly.
The music changed again, and this time to a melody that Ivoreth actually knew. Grandmother had taught her this song only the day before. And when the others began to sing the words, Ivoreth hummed along for a little bit and then, finally, dared open her mouth to sing with the others. It was very different, singing a melody and knowing that she was but one voice in a chorus of voices all singing together. She knew what to sing, when to sing it, and was a welcome addition; and for the very first time, Ivoreth got a faint glimmer of a feeling of what it might be like to belong in this new and very different world.
The music changed yet again, and Ivoreth glanced over at her little sister. Raini had stuck her finger in her mouth and leaned back against Celebriel and was now fast asleep. Celebriel caught Ivoreth's eye and smiled at her, then looked down at the toddler in her lap with obvious affection. Ivoreth felt Grandmother's arm tighten about her, and she leaned into the elleth even more, closing her eyes again and once more listening with her entire body as the voices and instruments painted pictures in her mind of dark skies, green fields, and two trees - one silver and one golden - that glowed so brightly that they could hardly be looked at. It was a vision both terrible and beautiful at the same time, one from which she couldn't draw herself away.
She never knew when Ada gathered her up into his arms and carried her off to bed.
"Little daughter, I have a gift for you."
At the sound of the deep voice, Ivoreth turned from where she'd been watching her Ada position her bundle with the precious book inside in the seat of the extra saddle that was hers, her eyes lighting on the Grandfather. He had come quite close to where she was waiting for her Ada to lift her up on Morrod, and he now squatted next to her so that they were almost seeing eye to eye. His face, which she thought so stern and emotionless when she'd first seen him, was soft and gentle; and his eye warm and kind.
Between his hands dangled a fine, silver chain, at the end of which hung a tiny clear crystal gem that caught the early morning sunlight through the mellyrn and tossed it back again. "Once, long ago, the Elves made many such jewels as this one. Most are kept now as family heirlooms. This one comes from the days when I tried my hand at jewel-craft, when I was very young. I have given another to your Ada to hold for your sister until she's old enough to understand and appreciate it."
Ivoreth held her breath as Grandfather reached past her and fastened the delicate chain about her neck and settled the tiny gem on her chest. "When it seems that all is dark about you, hold the jewel in your hands and let the thought that you are loved drive away the sadness, just as the jewel casts light into places it wouldn't go alone."
Ivoreth stared for a long moment at the tiny stone, touching it with tentative fingers to see how it would catch yet another beam of sunlight with every slight shift. "Is it magic?" she asked in an awed voice, stunned at being given something so beautiful to have for her very own.
"It only holds the magic of representing the love your family holds for you, Ivoreth, and of its ability to shine light into places where sometimes light has difficulty entering." His hand gently stroked her head. "You have to believe in it for it to work."
Ivoreth looked back up into Grandfather's face, her eyes full. "I will miss you," she admitted softly.
The tall Elf carefully gathered her close and held her tightly for a moment, giving the softest of sighs when Ivoreth looped her arms around his neck and hugged him back. "When I see you next, little daughter, we will play again at draughts; and I will see how well you have learned from your Ada, and your other Grandfather who waits to meet you even now." He kissed the side of her head above her ear. "Navaër, dear one."
She knew that word now, and she sniffled. "Good-bye," she whispered back.
When Ivoreth pulled back, Grandfather took one of her hands and wrapped it around the little jewel that now hung from her neck. "Remember, hold this when you are sad or the world seems dark, and think of the Golden Wood and those of us here who love you."
"I will." Too choked for her voice to work, Ivoreth mouthed her promise soundlessly, only to have Grandfather rise to his full height and move to take Raini from Grandmother while the beautiful elleth crouched down to her level. "I will miss you too," she whispered, tears that had been welling in her eyes starting their slow path down her cheeks.
"Little daughter, you will be in my thoughts often." Like Grandfather before her, Grandmother pulled Ivoreth into a tight embrace. "Remember all I told you, especially as you and Elrohir try to repair what has been damaged between you." Ivoreth sighed in frustration at yet another nudge to forgive Ada's brother, and Grandmother pulled away from her far enough that she could look into her face with those wise and sad grey eyes that saw too much. "He is family, my child. Do not seek to punish him more than he deserves. Do not make the same mistake he did."
Gentle lips touched Ivoreth's forehead. "Continue to learn your tengwar. I should very much like to hear to you read to me when I see you next."
"I will," Ivoreth found herself promising again. Her hand inched up her chest to find and then hold the tiny jewel she had been given. It hurt so much to know that it was she that was leaving these people behind; all of the other times she had been the one left behind.
"Navaër, little daughter." Grandmother straightened then and embraced Celebriel while Ada swung easily up into the saddle.
"Let me help." Grandfather lifted Ivoreth from behind and set her into her little saddle in front of her Ada. His huge hand held hers for a moment longer than necessary, and then lifted. "Navaër, ionnath vîn. May the stars shine upon your path and lead you safely home."
"Navaër, daeradar, daernaneth," Elrohir called from his mount. "Until Iavas."
Grandfather lifted his hand to touch his chest and then stretched it out, palm out, toward the six riders and began intoning a rhythmic chant. Grandmother joined her voice to his, raising her hand in a similar salute. Other voices from nearby Elves joined the chant one by one until it seemed as if the whole city were bidding them farewell.
Ada bent and whispered at Morrod, and then raised the hand not wrapped tightly around Ivoreth's waist in answer as the warhorse began to move forward. Ivoreth gave a small wave with the hand not wrapped firmly around the little jewel, and twisted around just enough to keep Grandmother and Grandfather in view for as long as possible before the horses turned a corner and put the base of the huge mallorn out of view behind other trees.
Ivoreth then looked back and forth staring all around her at the city as they rode slowly through it. Elves were peeking over the edges of telain and standing at the bottom of stairs and ladders, hands extended and singing. Finally Ada raised his voice in a melody that wove in counterpoint with the solemn chant from the Galadhrim, and the other Elves in their party joined him. When the melody Ada was singing seemed to repeat, Ivoreth tried humming along. Ada's hand tightened around her, and she twisted her head to look up into his face and found him smiling down at her.
I can sing good-bye too.
She turned around and faced forward again, humming the haunting melody to herself and holding tightly to her jewel.
adar - father
daeradar - grandfather
daernaneth - grandmother
ellith - female Elves (sing. elleth)
Iavas - autumn
ionnath - sons (sing. ion)
mallorn - golden tree of Valinor (pl. mellyrn)
Navaër - farewell
naneth - mother
nethben - little one
telain - tree platforms, living quarters of Silvan Elves (sing. talan)
tengwar - flowing script, an Elvish written form
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.