The Musician by Makalaure

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Disclaimer: I don't own The Silmarillion.

Many thanks to Linda Hoyland and Zopyrus for the beta.

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The Musician

On free afternoons, Ehtelion liked to sit on the edge of the old granite fountain outside his house and play his mother's flute. He enjoyed watching Laurelin's waning Light each time he set down the instrument, which he was gradually coming to think of as his flute. It was peaceful, and calming, and though Alqualondë was populous, hardly a soul walked through this little corner of the city. That was just as well, because his mother told him that his playing could have brought the dead back from Mandos.

One day, after playing for nearly an hour, Ehtelion frowned at his flute and turned it over in his hands. As lovely as it was, made of bright silver, it did not seem to like him enough to let him play like the Telerin minstrels. "You're a useless thing, aren't you?" he muttered, and gave it a little shake. "Do you not let me play because Mother has kept you so long? Well, I'm her son, so you jolly well ought to serve me, too."

A quiet, lilting laugh interrupted him, and he snapped his head up to see a tall, dark man with a harp on his back, leaning against a lamp-post with his arms crossed. His light clothes followed the fashion of the folk of Tirion, and he wore a bracelet of sea-shells that he must have bought off the nearby beach; they seemed incongruously brittle against his strong wrist.

Ehtelion clenched his fists and said loudly, "What is so funny? And why are you here?"

The man's chuckles subsided, though his broad smile remained. "You are. I was merely passing through; I am heading to the city square for a performance, and decided to take a long route." His voice had a distinct, otherworldly quality to it, as if it came not from his slender chest but a deeper, unknowable place, somewhere in Eä. Ehtelion was both captivated and disquieted by it, but he merely said, "Are you a singer?"

"Most certainly, little master. That is your mother's flute, is it not?"

Ehtelion flushed, and said, "That is not your business."

With infuriating cheerfulness, the man continued: "Even if you had not made it abundantly clear that it was not yours, I would have known. Your flute does not seem to have a good relationship with you; you could cut the air with a knife around here." He tilted his head to one side, an odd gleam in his eyes. "May I play it?"

Ehtelion choked. "No!" Then he balked. He bit his lip and abruptly thrust out the flute. "Here." Curse my curiosity, he thought, and ground his teeth.

The man took it, still smiling. He did not bend down, for which Ehtelion was grateful. "What is your name, little one?"

"Don't call me that. My name is Ehtelion, son of Raina and Moicandil."

"Well met, Ehtelion of the Fountain." His tone was half-serious, but Ehtelion started and felt something flicker in his chest. "I am Makalaurë."

Ehtelion's jaw went slack. "Not Makalaurë of the House of Finwë?" he said in wonder, all thoughts of his discomfort blown away like clouds on a breeze. A string of questions unfurled in his mind. Who was your tutor? When did you first learn to sing? Is it true you can make people weep just by running your hands once across the strings of your harp?

"I am he." Without waiting for further response, Makalaurë put the flute to his lips and began to play. It was an old melody, well-known and often played at festivals. Makalaurë closed his eyes, added his own embellishments here, tweaked the tune there. It was sweet, strong, and strangely haunting, and Ehtelion found himself swaying to the music.

When it ended, Makalaurë briefly examined the flute. "This is a good instrument," he said, and gave it back to Ehtelion. "One of the finest I've seen, in truth. Light, and easy to play."

"To you, perhaps," returned Ehtelion, rubbing the lip plate with his sleeve. He released a long sigh. "I suppose I am not meant to be a flautist like my mother."

"Well, no," said Makalaurë, raising his brows. "I would say you should aspire to be a flautist like you."

Ehtelion wiped his nose and studied the ground. He heard the cry of a gull overhead, the faint rush of the sea from the east. At length Makalaurë said, "I ought to leave. It is a distance away from the square." He picked some dirt from his nails, then walked over to the murmuring fountain and sat on its broad edge. "But first," he said firmly, making Ehtelion look at him, "I am going to teach you to play the flute, before you crack your house's windows."

"You can't teach me that quickly," said Ehtelion, shaking his head.

Makalaurë's expression grew solemn. "I promise that your music will be renowned across Aman. I know potential when I feel it. Do not insult me, Ehtelion of the Fountain. Come sit by me, and listen."

-----

F. A. -

Ecthelion heard shuffling feet and a little cough, and he looked up from his flute to see a small girl gazing at him in a way that was somehow both shy and assertive. "Can I help you?" he said, putting the instrument in his lap.

"I just wanted to know," said the girl, who Ecthelion now recognised as the daughter of one of Turgon's counsellors, "if you really did learn the flute from Maglor, son of Fëanor? They say he taught you in a very short time."

Ecthelion smiled. "Indeed. He taught me within what we would now consider two hours." He put his chin in his hand and shifted his gaze to Gondolin's highest tower, gleaming in the morning sun. "It was rather...like having the spirit of the One enter me through his words."

"It was like magic?" exclaimed the girl, eyes round.

"I do not know what you mean by magic," returned Ecthelion, looking back at her. "Nor do I fully understand what happened. I know that he gave all his love to his music and his teaching. And I think, if I do not sound boastful, that I gave all mine into learning from him."

The girl was silent, staring at his shoes and frowning. Then she nodded firmly, smacking her first in her palm, and ambled away. Ecthelion looked after her until she disappeared round a corner, and then shook his head.

"Telling children stories of your youth?" came a clear, deep voice from behind him. "You do relish being something of a personality."

"You say that as if I deny it," Ecthelion said, amused. Glorfindel sat by him on the edge of the fountain and dipped his hand into the cool water. Then he grinned and flicked a few drops into Ecthelion's face. "I'm going to ask you again: how true is that particular story?"

"As true as it can be."

Glorfindel laughed. "Stars, Ecthelion. You must take me for a fool."

"Well," said Ecthelion, and twirled his flute, "that is one thing we agree on."

- finis -


Chapter End Notes:

Ehtelion - Ecthelion
Makalaurë - Maglor

Maglor's statement, "I know potential when I feel it," as opposed to, "see/hear it," was deliberate, since it's his intuition, not his logic, that makes him teach Ecthelion.

Ecthelion's statement about magic was taken from this scene from FotR:

"Are these magic cloaks?" asked Pippin, looking at them in wonder.
"I do not know what you mean by that," said the leader of the Elves. "They are elvish robes certainly, if that is what you mean [...] for we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make."

From the Quenya Name Frame:

Moicandil - gentle friend
Raina - gracious



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