9. A New Life
He smiled back at her. "Your Ada told me that you have begun to learn your tengwar, and you seem to enjoy reading. I have gathered one of the largest collections of books in Arda here, and it is called a library." He put out a hand. "Would you like to see it?"
Would I like to see it? Oh yes! Please!
Still, habit made Ivoreth look over her shoulder at her little sister, playing catch in the afternoon sun with Celebriel and a small ball of fabric with dried beans in it. Raini wouldn't miss her, and to see a large collection of books sounded very interesting. Finally she nodded and put her hand in her Grandfather's.
"Grandmother gave me a book," she offered shyly as they walked toward the open doorway to the garden.
"Did she?" Grandfather Elrond asked, his dark eyebrows sliding up his face a little. "Perhaps you can show it to me later?"
"She said she helped Ada learn his letters from it, and Ada's Nan too," Ivoreth found herself explaining. It was easy to see that Grandfather Elrond liked books too, that she and this very grand, very kind Elf had something in common.
"Ah, yes. I know the one you speak of. She gave that one to you, did she?"
"She told me I was to help teach Raini her letters from it, and to take care of it for our family. She said she didn't think she'd need it where she was going." Ivoreth tipped her head up to look at the tall Elf. "Don't they have children in... that place?"
The question made Grandfather Elrond actually pause in walking, and he turned to look down at her in surprise. "You know, Ivoreth, I have no idea. It seems impossible that there one would not see at least a few children there, does it not?"
"I didn't see any children in Lothlórien, though," she told him somberly. "Did something happen to them?"
Grandfather's smile was kind. "I see what you ask after. Nothing bad happened to the children in Lothlórien, or even here, for that matter. You see, all the young Elves have long since grown up, little one," he answered, once more walking. "It has not been safe enough to have children for a very long time; and we Elves generally prefer not to have our young where they cannot be assured of their safety."
"Is it safe now?" She rubbed her sore arm. Maybe not.
"For the most part, yes; but for many of us, the time has now come to go West. Perhaps the children to come to us from now on will be born there instead." He steered her around a corner and headed toward a pair of very large doors. "Have you ever seen a library before?"
Ivoreth shook her head. "I never even saw a book before Ada started telling us stories out of one at night. And then Celebriel told me that the funny lines were ways to see the sounds of words."
"Ah." Grandfather Elrond seemed to simply absorb what she had to say. "Well, then, you should know that a library is a place where many, many books and scrolls are brought together so that knowledge is not lost over the Ages. As you grow older, you will spend a good deal of time here, learning about many things. It is well that you already enjoy books and learning."
"Do some of the books have pictures, like the one Ada had?"
"As a matter of fact, a great many of them do." He pushed at one of the doors. "Now, one of the things that you want to remember when you are in a library is that other people in here like to be able to think about what they are reading without interruption. So it is only proper that you speak softly and not disturb anyone else."
"I can do that," Ivoreth whispered, as much from awe as from her Grandfather's advice, as she stepped forward into another world entirely. The room was huge, larger even than the hall in the Citadel where King Elessar had listened to Samul tell his story. Many, many shelves filled with books and what looked like rolls of material lined the walls, with even more cases of shelving standing in neat rows in the middle of the room. The entire far end of the room was a window that allowed the light to fill the room. "Oh, my!" she whispered again, tightening her grip on Grandfather's hand.
I could get lost in here!
Grandfather Elrond chuckled, a low and warm sound that brought a smile to her face. "Do you like it?"
"Oh, yes!" She saw so many books that it looked impossible to even count them all. "When I learn to read, can I come here sometimes?" she asked, barely wanting to tear her eyes from the feast of books in front of her.
"Of course, you may." With a warm hand at her back, he guided her to one of the tables and pulled out a chair for her. "And while I may take some of the books with me when I go, there will be a great many that I shall leave behind for you and for those who follow you."
Ivoreth brought her gaze back to him, suddenly reminded of the fact that Grandfather Elrond, like Grandmother, was soon to leave for that mysterious West that was only for Elves and from which he could never return. That thought hurt, just as it had when Grandmother had explained it to her; but instead of wanting to run away now, all she wanted to do was to hang onto her new Grandfather with all her might and not let him go. "I don't want you and Grandmother to go away where I'll never see you again," she whispered sadly.
"Sweet little daughter, were it not that I have waited for far too long to rejoin my wife, your Grandmother Celebrían, there would be little that would make me happier than to stay and watch you grow." Grandfather Elrond took the chair next to her and turned to face her. "But, you know what? I am not leaving yet. We have many weeks to get to know each other before that day comes. So we need not be so sad as yet." His huge hand swept the rebellious tendrils of hair from her face. "Now, I would see your smile, and hear what kind of book you would like to see first."
Ivoreth stared at him with wide eyes. "There are different kinds?"
Grandfather Elrond's eyes crinkled a little at the corners when he smiled. "Yes, many different kinds. There are books that tell us history, the stories of what the great men and Elves of long ago did; books of poems, words put together very carefully to tell a story with rhyme and rhythm; books of maps, with the features of the lands drawn out so that others can find their way too..."
"Are there easy books - the kind that maybe even I could try to read - and in my own language, not Sindarin?"
"Hmmm." Grandfather Elrond looked out over the stacks and stacks of books. "There may be indeed some books in Westron, but those words are written differently from the tengwar you have been learning. I think I can find one or two that I can read to you for when we are together, but you should probably continue to learn Sindarin as your main course of study for now. It is the language spoken most often here; you will need to become comfortable in it very soon."
"Not all languages are written in tengwar?"
Grandfather Elrond chuckled again. "Not all Elvish is written in tengwar, Ivoreth; there is an older form that is very different. And Sindarin is not the only Elvish language. To read some of the older books here, you will have to learn to read and speak Quenya too; and although the tengwar is very similar, the spelling rules are very different than in Sindarin."
Ivoreth nestled her chin into the palm of her free hand and stared out into the books, feeling very small. "I never knew there was so much to know." She shifted her look to her Grandfather. "How long did it take before you knew everything here?"
"Oh, my!" Grandfather Elrond shook his head and his blue-grey eyes - so much like Ada's - twinkled merrily. "You give me far too much credit, little daughter! Most of the reason I gathered this library was so that I didn't have to learn everything. If I have all the knowledge I want gathered in one place, then all I need to know is how to search the books here to find what I needed at any one point in time." He rose. "And that is part of what I will teach you while I am still here; and what others will help you with later. Sit here for a moment. I shall return shortly."
Ivoreth nodded and found herself looking at the silent Elves moving amid the stacks of books, carefully pulling one out and then carrying it to a table where they would sit down to read. Such a quiet place this was - so peaceful! All of Imladris seemed to be quiet and beautiful in a way that she could barely understand, but this... library... was a special place indeed.
Maybe Grandfather Elrond will let me come here sometimes just to look at the pictures.
Movement to her right caught her attention, and Grandfather Elrond returned to her side with a thick book in hand - and with another Elf. "Ivoreth, this is Erestor. I have asked him to take over helping you learn your tengwar while he is still here. Your Ada is hoping that Celebriel - your new naneth - will resume that task afterwards; but he knows from experience that Erestor is very good at helping young ones learn. Erestor taught your Ada, a long time ago."
Ivoreth looked up into a new set of blue-grey eyes that were very serious, and yet held a look of restrained curiosity beneath dark brows. "I am pleased to meet you, young one," Erestor put his hand to his chest and bowed very formally, "and I am even more pleased to hear that you already have a love of learning."
Erestor? That was the other name King Elessar and Queen Arwen mentioned...
Ivoreth turned an anxious gaze on her Grandfather. "Grandfather? I have a message for Erestor too."
Again Grandfather Elrond's eyes crinkled at the edges. "From..." With a raise of his expressive eyebrows, he managed to finish the question without another word. Ivoreth nodded silently, turning her eyes to this new Elf for a brief moment before looking back. "Well, then, little daughter, you should deliver your message. I'm certain that it will be as appreciated as was the one you gave me."
"A message?" Erestor looked confused, and he gazed back and forth between Ivoreth and her Grandfather. "A message from whom?"
"King Elessar and Queen Arwen," Ivoreth answered, remembering that her Grandfather had asked the very same question.
"Indeed!" Erestor looked suddenly very concerned. "Is everything all right with them? Are they well?"
"They are very well," Ivoreth answered quickly, wanting to put this teacher Elf's worries to rest right away.
Grandfather Elrond bent suddenly to whisper in her ear, "If you tell him it is a secret, you might be able to get him to bend down so you can deliver your messages properly." He straightened, and Ivoreth could see the merriment in his eyes shining brightly before he startled her even further by winking at her.
Grandfather Elrond is enjoying Erestor's message as much as he did his own! Oh, I like him!
"But the messages were supposed to be a secret," Ivoreth added with a quick glance back at her Grandfather for just enough encouragement to follow his advice before turning her attention to Erestor. "You'll have to come here so I can tell you."
Erestor's gaze grew cautious, but he came closer and slowly bent down to put his ear close to her. Ivoreth took a deep breath and kissed the nearest cheek; and then, as she had done to her Grandfather, turned the startled Elf's face with her good hand so she could deposit another kiss on the other cheek. "They both send their love," she said softly.
Erestor stared at her with his face slowly turning a bright red, and then he straightened and hurried off into the many cases of books. "I'm sorry," Ivoreth called after him softly and sadly.
I can't do anything right...
"You have nothing to apologize for, little daughter," Grandfather Elrond told her with a soft chuckle, slipping an arm about her shoulder. "Erestor is a very private Elf who does not like emotional displays. He and Estel grew very close when Estel was here, because Estel was the first one in a very long time who genuinely enjoyed learning what he had to teach. And as for Arwen..." Grandfather's voice grew soft. "He doted on her, maybe because she reminded him of someone he had lost long ago." Grandfather dropped a light kiss on Ivoreth's forehead. "All you have done is touch him where he is vulnerable, and he didn't expect that. But I would be willing to guess that you have made a good friend this day."
"I didn't mean to hurt him," Ivoreth worried.
"You didn't hurt him, little one. You gave him something he thought he would never have again, a kiss from two people he cares about very much. You did very well, just as you did for me." Grandfather gave her a quick and very tight hug and then let her go. "Now, I believe there is a comfortable chair over by the hearth that might fit us both; and I found a book written in Westron that has stories you might enjoy hearing." Ivoreth looked up with a tremulous smile as the Elf beside her stood up again and extended his hand toward her. "Shall we?"
The late afternoon sun was warm on Ivoreth's face as she walked slowly through the garden toward the sound of Raini's laughter. She stopped, as she had done often since being allowed out of bed, and took the time to gaze around her, once more nearly overwhelmed by the difference between everything she had once known and the beautiful place her Ada had brought her to call her new home.
Imladris was like no place she'd ever even imagined. The trees were tall and obviously old, providing for shade if the summers here were as warm as the ones in Minas Tirith. The gardens held an even larger assortment of color and sweet smells than the little garden she'd come to know during her short time living in the Houses of Healing. And more than anything, there was a sense of peace and restfulness here that proved the biggest difference from the noise and clatter and bustle of the stone city.
The buildings - and Imladris, she'd discovered, was more than just the Big House where she and her new family lived - were built to look like a natural part of the gardens. Inside, large windows that overlooked the gardens made her believe she was out amidst the flowers while remaining inside. Graceful statues were everywhere, both inside and out, and benches had been tucked into every possible nook and cranny. And as in Lothlórien, the one sound that could be heard behind everything else was the sound of voices raised in song that soothed and added to the sense of peace.
There were no loud or angry voices, near or in the distance; no bustle or rush of workers or servants too busy with their own tasks, no clatter of metal. The green that seemed to be everywhere was warmer to look at than the cold, white stone and ever-present wood or brick or metal of the city. Nobody seemed to rush here; even when summoned, she'd seen her Ada or Elrohir walk, rather than use their long legs to go so fast that she'd needed to run to keep up. The sounds of the musical Sindarin being spoken here fit so much better than her own coarse Westron - that's what Grandfather Elrond had called her language - and Ivoreth found herself wishing that she could speak Sindarin too. She would have to ask Erestor to teach her that first.
Raini's laughter swelled, and Ivoreth started moving again with a smile blooming on her face. But her eye was caught by a small movement on an almost hidden bench, and she paused to look closer. There she saw someone who didn't look to be much larger than herself, wrapped in a warm-looking shawl, hunched as if overtired. A child? But Grandfather Elrond had said...
No, she decided as she stepped a little closer and studied the figure more closely, this was no child. The hair on the head was silver-white, and wispy in the way of the very old. The face, while still smoother than many of the ancient ones she'd seen begging at the upper gates of the stone city, was lined and a little pale. She blinked in surprise and a little fright as she realized that the figure had moved again, the head having lifted up; and now bright, dark eyes were trained in her direction.
"Hello there." The greeting was in a quavering, ancient voice, and the Westron was completely unaccented.
"Hello," she offered back shyly, trying not to stare at the odd sight of bare feet covered over with curling, silvered fur.
What kind of creature is this?
The strange creature raised an arm and beckoned her closer. "Come closer, so I can see you better." Ivoreth hesitated, but finally let curiosity pull her slowly forward. The creature straightened slightly and adjusted the warm-looking shawl. "Come closer, child. I don't bite." A small and bony hand patted the bench. "Come sit with me. I could use some company."
Again Ivoreth hesitated. Would Grandfather Elrond allow dangerous persons to take shelter here? Surely not! She seated herself very cautiously at the very end of the bench, as far away from the strange creature as she could get. "Wh...who are you?" she finally managed in a very small voice.
"Bilbo Baggins, at your service, and at your family's." The dark eyes sparkled with a bright wit. "You must be Elladan's fosterling! Master Elrond told me that children would be at Imladris again..." His speech faltered into a muttering she didn't understand as the being looked off across the garden; but then, just as abruptly, the face cleared and the eyes gazed at her again. "And what's your name, pretty child?"
"Ivoreth." Now that she was closer, she could see that Bilbo's ears came to a very graceful point, just like her Ada's and the other Elves. "Are you... a different kind of Elf?"
The bubbling laughter that broke loose made Ivoreth smile. "Me? An Elf? Goodness me, no! I'm only a hobbit, and an old one at that. Elves never grow old, don't you know..."
That's true. Grandmother and Grandfather and Grandfather Elrond are very old, but they don't look half as old as this person.
"I've never seen a... hobbit..."
Dark eyes danced beneath heavy silver brows. "You come from down there, down south, don't you?" Ivoreth nodded. "Frodo - my nephew - told me they call us 'pheriannath' where you come from."
Ivoreth's eyes opened wider. "I didn't know that there really were such things!"
Bilbo threw out his arms. "I'm here, aren't I?" He waited until Ivoreth had nodded again. "Then hobbits must exist, mustn't they?" He eyed the arm that was bound firmly to her chest. "Master Elrond also told me that you had been injured."
Ivoreth glanced down. "I'm feeling better, although Grandfather Elrond said I was not to use my arm for a long time, so it could heal."
"Then you need to do exactly what Master Elrond tells you, my dear. He's the finest healer in all of Middle-earth, you know. He even taught that Ranger that became King, you know..."
"Elessar?" Ivoreth gaped.
Didn't Elrohir say that Elessar was a better healer than he was? Grandfather Elrond taught him?
"I think that's what they call him now," Bilbo nodded and fingered his chin.
"Ivoreth, there you are."
Together, Ivoreth and Bilbo looked up to see Ada walking from between two shrubs. "Ada!" she exclaimed and without thinking jumped up to run into his open arms.
"I see you've met our most honored guest," Ada smiled at her.
"Your child is sweet, Master Elladan," Bilbo bowed to the Elf from the waist while remaining seated. "Forgive me for not rising..."
"Nonsense. You know better than to rise for me," Ada chided the ancient hobbit with an amused twinkle in his eye. "Now, Ivoreth, when you grow tired of practicing your tengwar or your reading, and if your Grandfather is otherwise occupied, you might want to convince Master Baggins here to tell you some of his stories. I have it from his nephew that he was much in demand as a storyteller before he retired here to Imladris."
"Do you like stories, girl?" Bilbo asked kindly. Ivoreth nodded. "Then come to me when you want one."
"And bring Raini. I'm certain you both would enjoy the telling," Ada finished, and then bowed to Bilbo. "And now, with your kind permission, I'm going to borrow my daughter and introduce her to someone I think she very much wishes to meet."
Bilbo waved at them. "I'm here most afternoons, Mistress Ivoreth," he called out to them as they walked away.
"Pheriannath aren't just bedtimes stories, Ada!" Ivoreth whispered to him.
"No indeed, sweetling," he chuckled back. "Much of what you have believed to be bedtime stories are reality. And when you have lived in Imladris long enough, you will have seen most of them with your own eyes. Come now. Someone you will very much want to know better is waiting for you in the Hall of Fire." Ivoreth looked up at him, confused. Ada merely grinned down at her. "With his harp," he added, and then laughed as Ivoreth began dragging him forward by the hand.
Pheriannath - Hobbits (as a race)
tengwar - flowing script, a written form of Elvish
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.