Tittlepin by elwen of the hidden valley

[Reviews - 0]
Table of Contents
Printer Friendly: Printer Chapter or Story
- Text Size +

Jump to

Within the bathing room warm water and kind attention was also working its magic upon the Lady Gilraen, who gradually became aware of her surroundings.  For one moment her heart stopped when she realised that she had no sight of her only son.  Then she heard his reedy voice in the next chamber, exchanging words with a male’s rich baritone.  She drew in a deep breath, recognising that they were both safe in Rivendell at last.

The elven lady assisting her held wide a large bath sheet and Gilraen stepped into its welcoming folds.  By the time she was dry her helper returned with a long, thick robe.

“Thank you.  Please forgive me.  I am afraid I do not recall your name.”  Gilraen tied the sash.

“I am called Faerwen, Lady.  Lord Elrond asked me to assist you until you become familiar with the ways of the house.  Would you care for something to eat?” 

It was difficult to tell with elves but this one appeared young in their terms, which made Gilraen feel a little less like a child herself.  “I am not hungry.  But I am certain my son will be.”  With those words she strolled to the open door and found herself in a large, well appointed bedroom. 

“Good evening, Lady Gilraen.  Are you feeling a little better?”

She spun about to find a lordly elf, with long hair the colour of midnight, sitting at the side of a small, high sided bed; in which her son was sleeping soundly.  Here was the owner of that beautiful voice.  From the similarity of features this must surely be the father of Elrohir and Elladan, Elrond Halfelven himself. 

“I feel clean at least, and grateful for your care, Lord Elrond.”  She noted the incongruous sight of the elf lord holding a small double handled cup.   Aware of his fame as a healer Gilraen stepped closer.  “You have given my son something?”

Elrond arose, holding up the cup with a wry smile.  “Warm milk only.   He is exhausted and requires no aid from me to find sleep.  I judged him too tired to make best use of any other nourishment at present.”

When he handed over the cup to Faerwen that lady departed and Gilraen found herself alone with this ancient and powerful being.  She had grown used to Elrohir and Elladan but their father was a different matter altogether and she felt like a very little girl in his presence. Trying to cover her awe, Gilraen bent to stroke her child’s dark curls, finding them damp, like her own.  He also appeared to be wearing a fresh gown and the grime of travel had been washed from his little face and hands.

“You have not fully answered my question,” Elrond noted calmly as he waved her to one of a pair of comfortable chairs by the fire. 

Gilraen noted a faintly unpleasant odour and her gaze dropped to the pile of linens on the hearth.  Clearly her son had messed himself at some point and tears sprang to her eyes of a sudden as she realised that she had been so deep in her own grief that she had not noticed her child’s needs.

Elrond was at her side at once, settling her into the chair and then removing all the linens and a small tub.  When he returned he held out a fine white handkerchief and Gilraen used it to wipe her face and blow her nose.  He took the chair opposite and waited patiently.

“I am sorry, Lord Elrond.  I do not know why I am crying over such a small thing.” 

Elrond watched as she turned to check on her son.  “He is well and safe and in no distress at present,” he assured her.

Faerwen returned silently and set a small tray on the table at Gilraen’s side.  On it was a selection of simple foods and some mint tea.  Gilraen’s stomach grew unsettled at the mere smell of food.  She had not eaten since  . . . since before the twins had returned with her husband’s body.

“At least try a little tea.”  Once again Elrond understood, adding softly, “The mint will help.”

Gilraen inhaled and then took a sip.  The tea was fresh in her mouth and had been laced liberally with a fine honey.  Whether it was laced with other things she did not know but it seemed to clear her mind and soothe her innards.  Elrond watched silently and Gilraen wondered if he expected her to fly apart at any moment.  Ruefully, she acknowledged that such was indeed possible.  Her fae had sundered at the sight of Arathorn’s body thrown over the back of his horse and she was still scrabbling to draw all the pieces together again.

“How are you feeling?” Elrond persisted.

Gilraen fought back the returning tears, replying almost peevishly, “I feel shattered, bereft, frightened, angry, lost; overwhelmed.  It is impossible to list all my feelings at present.”

Elrond only nodded.  “That is to be expected.  Grief is a strange beast.  Do not try to push down those emotions.  Only through acknowledgement can you move through them.”

Already feeling a little stronger Gilraen took another sip of tea before looking across at his face.  “Do you speak as a healer?”

She was surprised to see him grimace.  “As a healer but also as one who has personal experience of that particular beast.  I have lived a very long time, Lady Gilraen.  One does not reach my age without feeling the demise of many others.  My own brother took the path of mortality and as a healer I have helped ease many through mortality’s final door.”

Then Gilraen saw his eyes unmasked for a moment.  ‘Deep wells of sadness’, was a phrase she had once heard used to describe elven eyes and now she saw the truth of it.  Her own son was descended through generations unnumbered from Elrond’s brother, Elros.  Indeed, she had been told that was why he so often offered succour to her people.  Now she caught a glimpse of what it had cost him.  She saw him blink and the pain was gone.

“I apologise.  It is too easy to believe that I am the only one suffering.”  She refilled her cup.

“You have every right to your grief.  But you need not suffer alone.  I and my sons cannot begin to know fully your pain but we do also feel Arathorn’s loss.  He was not very much older than your son is now when he came here for safety and tutelage.  Life made him grim but I remember a laughing and willing child with a thirst for knowledge.  When you are ready, we are here to listen.  If you do not care to talk we will accept that too.”

“Thank you.”  Gilraen took a deep breath and let it out on a slow sigh, feeling some of her pain expelled with it.  “Did Aragorn ask after his father?”

“He did.  I was unsure what he had been told so I merely implied that his father was elsewhere.  I do not believe he has yet grasped the concept of mortal death, although I understand that he was present at Arathorn’s interment.”

Gilraen dabbed at her eyes as tears overtopped her dam once more.  “I tried to make him understand but I think he does not want to.  I have not the energy to force him, nor the heart to see him hurt.  He is still a babe.”

Elrond nodded.  “There will come a time when he is ready.  And when he is I think he will surprise you with his resilience.  A child encounters ten new things every day.  They adapt to change more readily than adults.”  He added gently, “Which is not to say that he will feel no anguish, but with much love he will come through.  I will offer you both all the support I can, then and in the years to come.”

“Do you assume we will remain here for some years, then?  I may wish to return to our people and my family,” Gilraen pointed out. 

“You are free to stay or go at any time,” Elrond assured her.  “But I will point out that the borders of this valley are well protected against the darkness gathering without.  Your husband’s death was no chance and it is known that you bore Arathorn a son.  There are those who will seek him out in order to end the direct line of the kings.”

Gilraen was beginning to feel stronger now that she had something other than her grief to occupy her.  “Your borders are protected.  Of that I have no doubt.  But they are not closed.  Your house offers shelter for all races.  Can you promise me that no-one who comes here has a secret pact with our enemy?  I think not.  Even elves are not the perfect beings some would believe them.”

Elrond tilted his head in acknowledgement.  “My people have a chequered past.  In response I will say that although your hamlets are defended by sword and bow, there too all manner of folk may enter and leave at whim.”

“And yet what can you offer that his own cannot?  I am grateful for this respite but will my son be any safer here than amongst his own?”

A flicker of emotion crossed Elrond’s calm features.  “He is amongst his own here too.”  Then he paused in thought, considering his hands.  “We can hide his identity and give him a new name until he is of an age to be advised of his inheritance.”

“That too, can be done in my home,” Gilraen replied firmly.  “Forgive me, Lord Elrond, but I worry that he will grow up not knowing the people he will one day have to lead.”

“He will have time for that.”  When the lady pursed her lips Elrond sighed, holding out his hand, palm down.  “And my borders are protected by more than bow and sword.”  With his words a pale blue glow formed upon his finger, coalescing into a fine gold ring bearing a sapphire cabochon the deep colour of a midnight winter sky.

Gilraen gaped openly now.  “Is this  . . . is this one of the Three?”

“It is.  This is Vilya, the ring of air and mightiest of the Three.  Of the others I am not permitted to speak but Gilgalad passed this to me before the Dagorlad.  Few outside my immediate family know of its existence here, but know that little happens within the borders of Imladris that are not whispered to me through this.”  He clenched his hand and the ring faded from sight.

“And now you have entrusted that knowledge to me?”  Gilraen and many others had assumed that the Three had been lost to legend long ago, for nothing had been heard of them in many mortal generations. 

“It was not my intention.  I had hoped to convince you to remain without its revelation.”  His lips quirked in a wry smile.  “But I had not reckoned with the keen mind of the Lady Gilraen, even in her grief.”

The lady gave a delicate sniff.  “You forget that, although I am not of direct descent, the blood of Elros flows through the veins of many of my people.  If I stay you will discover that illusion and sweet words hold little sway against intellect and a strong will.”

Elrond smiled openly now.  “Peace, Lady.  We should not fence with each other but join illusion with intellect against the common enemy.  Our peoples have been allies before.  Can we not be so again?  Allies in the protection of your son . . . my nephew?”

Gilraen glanced aside at her sweetly oblivious babe.  The power Elrond wielded was undeniably great but it was, “My nephew,” that finally decided her.   “Agreed.  My son and I will accept your protection indefinitely.”

Rising, Elrond drew Gilraen across the room with him to stand at little Aragorn’s bedside.  Both looked down at the still innocent face. 

“Have you thought of his new name?” Gilraen asked.

“Estel.”

“Hope?  I think I like that.”  Gilraen ran a finger down her son’s soft cheek.

Elrond smiled.  “Welcome Estel; the hope of your people.”

 

 




[Report This]
You must login (register) to review.