Tree Hugging by Zhie
One of many Lorien brother stories that came from boring evenings in the library my sister, brother, and I all worked at. Not particularly exciting, but we had fun with them.
“Wake up, Rumil. Come on, time to go.” A finger poked at Rumil’s shoulder.
Rumil, still with his head resting on his drawn up knees, backed up a bit more so that he was flush with the trunk of the tree. “Sleeping. G’way.”
“Get up, Rumil.” The voice was more commanding, and a hand tried to work under Rumil’s elbow to pull him up.
Rumil hunkered down, drawing up his legs nearer to his body. “’Night. Sleep now.”
“Rumil...” Haldir stifled his own yawn. “I do not envy you. It has been a long night,” admitted the eldest brother, waving his hand to the forest floor in the direction of where orcs had tried to break through the defenses to the city. “But the night guards need this post. Come along, Rumil, the other tree is not so bad.”
“Tree cold. Sleep here.”
Haldir stepped up next to Rumil, looking down at his brother. “Orophin, grab his legs,” he instructed, bending down to grab his little brother’s arms. Rumil twisted around, springing for the trunk of the mallorn. His arms just barely made it around, and he hooked what few fingers could reach each other together.
Orophin stood off to the side, watching with amusement as Haldir tried to pry Rumil’s fingers from the bark. Rumil swung his legs around and wrapped them around the trunk as well. Haldir let go in exasperation, landing on the hard wooden floor. “Rumil, I am no longer amused. We are leaving. Get up.”
Rumil did not budge, but Orophin strolled over to his brothers, helping Haldir to his feet. “I think we should leave the two of them alone,” suggested Orophin. “He seems very attached to the tree.”
“He is practically bonded to it,” growled Haldir, brushing off his uniform.
Orophin nodded. “Soon, he shall be calling it Nenniach and will stay overnight to keep it warm.”
Rumil lifted one eyelid slightly, peering out at Orophin. “You told me you would not tell anyone about that.”
“Correction, little brother,” said Orophin. “I said I would not tell Nana and Ada about that.”
Rumil pouted and loosened his hold on the tree. He looked up at the limbs that swayed above and pushed himself away from the trunk.
Orophin chuckled. “Poor Rumil, I hate to make you move,” he said, offering his brother a hand. “I can see how attached you are to sweet Nenniach here,” he teased, patting the tree with his free hand.
“It is just a silly tree, Orophin. I am not that attached to it,” Rumil said as he took Orophin’s hand and was pulled up, fully waking up now. Haldir rolled his eyes and headed for the hole in the floor that served as their door and kicked down the rope ladder. The tree did indeed hold special meaning for Rumil, for he and Nenniach would sneak away to this outpost when it was not in use. The guard shifted to various posts from time to time so that there was no pattern to the trees they used. Now, Rumil’s hiding place was back in the rotation, and carelessly forgotten wine bottles and blankets had alerted his brothers earlier in the week that the outpost had not exactly been left unattended.
“When we get to the other tree, I shall let you sleep,” promised Orophin, leading Rumil to the exit, “and shall sacrifice myself and eat your supper so that you can rest.”
“You shall do no such thing,” scolded Rumil, crouching down to the ground to climb out.
“Oh? And why not?”
“Because...” answered Rumil, “I shall get there first and eat your meal instead!” The two brothers fought their way down the ladder, and Haldir thought to scold them for being so noisy, but thought better of it. The captain would be one of the guards replacing them, it was best he reprimand Orophin and Rumil, thought Haldir. Best to hear them shouting at the edge of the border without Haldir’s voice thrown in.
Instead the young elf moved to the trunk of the tree and wrapped one arm around it. The other he pressed lightly on the bark and closed his eyes, whispering softly to it. The sounds he made were less like speech and more like hums, but his message was clear to the tree. “They do not know what they say. You are special, not silly. Tall, and proud, and kind to let us build in your branches and use them for protection.”
A sound came from the tree, something of a creaking and twisting noise. Haldir smiled and drew both arms around the trunk briefly before making his way down the ladder.
Below, he found that his brothers had been caught by the Galadhrim Captain, but instead of being lectured to, the pair, along with those who had come to replace them, were all staring up at the tree. Haldir landed lightly upon the ground and strolled up to his captain, bowing with respect. The captain acknowledged the warden, but returned at once to looking at the tree.
“No activity to speak of, not since last night,” reported Haldir, and the captain nodded, still looking at the outpost. “Shall we take our leave?”
The captain nodded once more, but waved a hand at Orophin and Rumil as they tried to leave. “No, not the two of you. I shall have a word with you about your behavior on the border.” The younger brothers slumped their shoulders, and Haldir gave a curt nod.
“I shall see you at camp,” Haldir said. Addressing his brothers as he passed them so that only they could hear, he added, “I am simply famished. I hope there is enough food to go around.”
Orophin crossed his arms and gave a little huff as Haldir walked off. Sometimes, he really wished his parents had asked the Valar for a second daughter.