Rhymes For Little People by Amy Fortuna

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B2MeM 2015 Challenge: Rivendell: tell us about a book/scroll/manuscript from Elrond's library.

The new library of Imladris was taking shape at last. Boxes of books, hoarded carefully over hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years, were being moved one by one into the large room. Elrond himself was unpacking one of the boxes, one that held books he considered his very own.

At the bottom of the box, carefully wrapped to preserve it, lay a book that was little more than a manuscript, with no covers. Yet the pages were beautifully illuminated with small hand drawings of animals, birds, and the Free Peoples. Elrond smiled to see it there, Rhymes For Little People, recalling days very long ago, in the small remote house he and Elros shared with Maedhros and Maglor. He picked it up, turning the pages very carefully to the title The Lore of Living Creatures, and looked at a very tiny drawing of an Elf holding a small child in his lap, both of them smiling. Gently, he caressed the picture with his thumb, smiling softly, eyes distant with remembrance. 

Ten-year-old Elrond was bored. Elros had insisted on going with Maedhros to visit the Sindar who lived not far away, and Maedhros, never able to refuse either of them anything, had taken him along. He’d asked Elrond if he wanted to go too, but Elrond had been busy reading at the time and had refused. But that was hours ago, and the book was done now. 

The house was very quiet. The few members of their household - only five left to Maedhros and Maglor now, when once they had commanded thousands between them - were clearly busy in various tasks. Two of them had gone with Maedhros, the other three were nowhere to be found.

Elrond wandered through the living room and stood before the large fireplace, warming his hands. He could hear the birds outside, singing merrily in the trees, and for a moment, considered going out and playing. But that was little fun without Elros to play with him. 

In the midst of the birdsong, another series of notes rose. Somewhere close by, Maglor was humming to himself. Even Maglor’s humming was incredibly beautiful and delightful to listen to. Elrond wandered in the direction of it, through the door of the living room into the small room behind, where Maglor and Maedhros kept a little space for themselves, and a rough-hewn desk or table, for writing letters. 

Maglor was sitting at the desk, a sheaf of paper in front of him, writing. He turned his dark head as Elrond entered, giving him a warm smile. 

“Elrond!” he said, dropping his quill and reaching out a hand. “Come in, little one.” Elrond took the offered hand and Maglor pulled him up on his lap, sitting back in the chair and cuddling him. “What have you been doing? Have you been lonely today with Elros gone?” he said, brushing the hair out of Elrond’s eyes. 

“A little,” Elrond said, laying his head against Maglor’s shoulder. “I was reading that book you gave me, the one about the Great Journey, but I finished it.”

“And what did you think about it?” Maglor said, kissing Elrond’s forehead.

Elrond frowned. “It doesn’t make much sense. Why would Eru create the Elves in Endor if we were meant to live in Aman?” 

Maglor laughed. “A very good point, Elrond! I doubt even my father could have put it so well. But that’s it, isn’t it, we were meant to live here in Endor, but the Valar changed the fates of our people by bringing us to Valinor to dwell among them.”

“Why?” Elrond asked. It was his favourite question. 

Maglor thought for a moment, brow furrowed. “That’s very complicated to answer, Elrond, and it depends on who you ask.”

“What do you think?” Elrond said. 

“I think they wanted to protect us,” Maglor said after a little, slowly. “Endor is very beautiful, but it is also very dangerous and difficult. It is hard to live here, but in Aman, they said, everything is given you, everything is perfect and always will be.” He took a deep breath. “But of course, that was not true.”

“Why did they say it, then? Why did they lie?” Elrond looked slightly stern, like he wanted to give the Valar a telling-off. 

Maglor sighed. “Do you remember when I found the two of you on the roof, planning to jump into the pile of hay next to the house last autumn? I was very frightened and told you to get down slowly and at once? Do you remember what you said?”

Elrond thought for a moment. “I said ‘we’ll be fine, I figured out how to do this, don’t worry!’”

Maglor smiled, clutching Elrond a bit closer. “Yes, that’s what you said. And I’m sure you thought you had figured it out and you knew what you were doing. But you were wrong, and if Maedhros hadn’t caught Elros, he wouldn’t have hit the haystack at all.”

“No,” Elrond said, remembering. “He would have hit the ground.” He shivered, thinking of Elros’ terrified face as he realised that the trajectory was all wrong, seconds too late. Maglor looked at him and then hugged him close for a minute. 

“No harm came to him, dear one. But, here is the point - when you said you had figured it out, you did not lie, did you?”

“No,” Elrond said. “I didn’t know.”

“That’s right,” Maglor said. “You didn’t know. It’s the same. The Valar are not all-knowing beings to be worshipped, Elrond. They make mistakes too. They make promises in ignorance, and have to learn better. We are not their subjects or their pets, we are Children of Eru, the same as them, the four Free Peoples.”

Elrond scrunched up his face in thought. “But didn’t Aule make the dwarves, and Yavanna the Ents?” 

“Yes,” Maglor said, “but Eru adopted them as his own, and takes care of them too.”

Elrond’s arms went around Maglor’s neck. “Like you do us,” he said. 

“Quite a lot better than that,” Maglor answered. “But look, you should see what I’m making, because it’s for you and Elros.”

“Ooh, what?” Elrond said, releasing his hold on Maglor’s neck and looking over at the desk. Still with Elrond on his lap, Maglor leaned forward, picking up his quill again. 

“I’m writing down all the songs for children that I’ve made up over the years,” he said. “I’m making a book of them for you, so you can teach them to your own children someday.” 

“I know that one,” Elrond said, pointing to the top of the page. “Learn now the lore of living creatures...,” he sang softly. 

“Yes, that’s it,” Maglor said. “See, I’m drawing pictures of people and animals all around the edges of the pages - that’s a deer, and that’s a bunny, and there’s a fox, and here’s a bear, and that’s an Ent.”

“There should be a picture of us in here,” Elrond said. “There’s no Elves.”

“Here?” Maglor said, gesturing to the corner of the page. Elrond nodded. “Right, I’ll draw a little picture of you and me, just as we are now.” The picture took shape quickly under Maglor’s quill, a small figure of an Elf with dark hair, holding a young boy on his lap, both of them looking happy and contented.

“Very nice,” Elrond said when the picture was finished and Maglor set the quill down. “Can you teach me how to do that?”

“To draw?” Maglor said. “Of course. It’s easy, here.” He handed the quill to Elrond, and pulled across a piece of scrap paper. “You just start with this.” He put his hand over Elrond’s and together they traced figures on the paper, until darkness fell. 

Elrond’s eyes were far away, gazing out the window of the library but seeing nothing, the manuscript still in his hand. With a start, he came back to himself, and held the book up to the light. It was complete, and only needed a cover to be able to go into the library. 

In the end, Elros had never seen the book, seemingly growing up a lot faster than Elrond. But Elrond had loved the rhymes taught to him by Maglor, and had vowed to keep the book safe and pass it on to his own children. 

With a smile, he set it down on the table. Passing it on to his own future children someday would be a wonderful experience. He would be sure to bind the book in the best covers that could be made, and forever it would have a place in the library of Imladris.

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