Bend in the Wind - Ch3: Insight

Disclaimer: see chapter one

Names/Pronunciations will come at the end of each chapter.

`*' signals a footnote
"text" signals dialogue
`text' signals thoughts

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Chapter 3.) Insight

***
Some day I shall rise and leave my friends
And seek you again through the world's far ends

- Rupert Brooke
***

July 31, 12 Fourth Age


Celeborn and Elrohir ate their breakfast in companionable silence. They had not been joined that morning by the other half of their family, but did not wonder at it. Oloriel was beginning to grow uncomfortable from the load she carried, and it was not an uncommon occurrence if sleep escaped her during the night. She would therefore try to rest when and where she could, and her husband often rested with her.

A clatter echoed down the hallway outside the private dining chamber. Both Elves looked up and then glanced toward one another. An amused smile flitted across Celeborn's face.

"You don't suppose someone has finally tripped over the abundant sprawl of begetting gifts that has begun to pile up in our residence?" The elder chuckled softly.

Elrohir smirked. "By the time the child is born I doubt that anyone will be able to even move about in the nursery."

Another silence settled between them, accented only by the gentle clink of dishes or the ruffling breeze that came into the open room.

"You are looking well, grandfather. I believe that the thought of a new young one does you much good."

Celeborn smiled wistfully. "Aye, perhaps it does. I long for your grandmother, just as I long to remain in the only home I have ever known. And yet, the knowledge of a coming child does bring peace to my torn heart. It seems very fitting."

"I am glad," Elrohir replied in a subdued tone. "I must confess that it frightened me to see you look so weary when you came to us before. That was certainly not fitting. I hope that you shall be well again."

"And I hope the same for you."

Elrohir looked up from his honeyed porridge and eyed his grandfather critically. "What do you mean?" he finally asked, nibbling at the remainder of a small green apple.

Celeborn smiled and stood up from the table. "You do not really want to speak of it, so I will not speak of it either. Do you still take exercise in the morning?"

The younger Elf nodded. "But if you are bent on coming with me, I hope that you will not be so obscure and mysterious: it will hardly make for pleasant conversation."

Stepping gracefully through the arched walls into a shower of morning sunshine, Celeborn turned back slightly and pinned the half-Elf with his gaze. Elrohir paused and waited for what would come next. As he watched his grandfather he was struck anew by the age and wisdom behind the older Elf's eyes, as well as the enduring strength and settled poise of his ageless body. Though weighed down with heavy grief, his grandfather was still lordly and high, and this brought a steady comfort to Elrohir's heart. Some things were just as they should be, and he hoped fervently that they would never change.

Finally the silence was broken: "I think that you have been much too preoccupied of late with matters of the heart and mind." Celeborn's voice was clear and low. "You were not meant for delegation or for careful inaction. If your spirit does not grapple with life and push against its currents then it will become dissipated. Come, no more books and papers for you. We will go out into the world and see what the trees and the grass have to say to us. And when you are ready, perhaps you will begin to speak as well."

Celeborn's final words sparked an unbidden thought to spring up in Elrohir's mind, but he quickly pushed it aside. Of course he had no wish to speak of Nessúlë. She and he had settled into an amiable friendship once more. He was happy. He was content.

Silver hair danced in the wind as Celeborn shook his head slowly. "Come, ion nín {my son}. Come out into the sunshine."

Elrohir obeyed willingly, trying to bury his confusing thoughts. As he stepped out after his grandfather a guilty pleasure raced through him as he thought of all the things he would not review, contemplate, or sign that day, and of the quill that would lie listlessly on his father's desk.

`Grandfather is right,' he mused as the jumbled greens and browns of the valley began to fill his senses, `idleness does not suite me.'


*~*~*~*~*~*~*

July 25, 12 Fourth Age

Nessúlë carefully adjusted her knapsack upon her horse's withers and then patted the stallion affectionately. Hithui was only four years old, but he had been well trained and was possessed of a good temper. Nessúlë felt confident in her choice of steed: he would go swiftly and fearlessly should she encounter any danger along the way.

Lantél walked up behind Nessúlë and placed a gray cloak around her shoulders. She thanked him softly and then turned round to bid him a proper farewell. Her one grief in leaving the woods was that he would not be coming with her.

"I shall miss you, gwador nín {my brother}, ever so much," she whispered in his ear as he embraced her.

"And I shall miss you, tithennaug {little dwarf}."

Nessúlë laughed softly as she pulled away. It reminded her of Elrohir's first letter. When he had addressed her in such a way she couldn't seem to find it within herself to be aggravated. In fact, his gesture had produced quite the opposite affect. Somehow it had seemed right that he should speak to her in such an affectionate, teasing manner. It was comforting.

The elleth shook her head slightly as she realized that her thoughts had wandered. Her sister-in-law was placing a kiss on each of her cheeks, and she roused herself in time to return the kiss.

"I leave him in your care, muinthel {sister}. I do hope that he does not impose upon your gentleness while I am away. If he misbehaves I will have to deal with him."

A sharp cry rose up from Nessúlë's throat as she was picked up by the waist and swung once around by her brother.

"How can you speak so of me?" Lantél asked innocently. "You will teach my wife to be as cynical as you are." He laughed and pecked Nessúlë on the nose. "I cannot have that. She is gentle indeed, and that is her greatest defense - don't spoil her."

Vírtuima began to say amiable when Nessúlë absently spoke her mind: "Am I really cynical?"

Lantél and Vírtuima exchanged puzzled looks. Was that the proper way to describe her?

"I believe that Lantél would have done better to say `practical'," Vírtuima spoke softly. "You are so very discerning and independent, and your judgement so forceful and clear..." The she-Elf did not finish her sentence. But she momentarily broke into a brilliant smile. "And yet you are also so kind and courageous. Did not think of what your brother says. He is merely teasing."

Nessúlë was in a mood to accept this non-explanation. The day was promising to be radiant, the air was filled with the scent of the forest, and an unknown road lay before her. There was simply no reason to brood.

"Very well then, I shall set my ponderings aside and be off. Come Bainsúl."

The young hawk, you had been perched on a nearby branch came down to alight on the blanketed rump of Hithui, just as Nessúlë settled herself across the horse's back.

"Until next we meet," Nessúlë smiled at the two remnants of her family and nudged her horse into a brisk trot.

"Do not forget that you are mine," Lantél called after her, "So you're not allowed to lose yourself. You must come back, or I am afraid I will never forgive you."

Nessúlë smiled brilliantly and flashed a final glance over her shoulders. She did not reply; her brother knew her heart.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*

July 31, 12 Fourth Age

"Will you stand against me?" A spark of challenge leapt into Celeborn's eyes as he stood in the middle of the clearing, facing his grandson. A hard gleam flashed off his sword and his limbs tensed in readiness.

Elrohir smiled slowly and drew out his own sword. It had been many centuries since he had raised a blade against his grandsire. He could still remember the encounter. The experience of a warrior had not yet descended upon his shoulders and his defeat had been swift and sound. He wondered briefly if the scales had begun to level out in his favor.

These thoughts did not have a long life as Elrohir's mind was quickly thrown into a face-paced dance. Apparently Celeborn's skill had not dulled with age. And yet, at the same time, Elrohir's had certainly increased. This made the game infinitely more interesting.

For several moments the two Elven blades were caught up in a flurry of thrusts, feints, and parries. Had the bout taken place in the training yards a great many onlookers would certainly have gathered, but as it was, only the trees stood witness as the grandfather and grandson met each other with steel and exultation.

Elrohir smiled broadly as he allowed the ancient dance to take him over. He had already received one knick on his arm, but no pain reached him. In the midst of the battle the only things that mattered were movement and wit and life. His worries could not withstand the onslaught of Celeborn's mighty sword, and his doubts could not stand against the honed quality of his own deadly movements.

Even as Elrohir let the world slip away the steps came to an abrupt halt. But still the pattern remained uninterrupted. Celeborn's sword and come toward Elrohir's left side. With a swift and powerful motion, the dark-haired Elf had swung his own blade underneath that of his grandfather's and twisted it upwards. The two Elves now stood face to face - strung taut as bow strings - with their blades locked between them at the hilt.

Time stood still for a brief moment and Elrohir was absurdly conscious of how a bird in the branches above them was singing to wake the dawn. In an instant Celeborn had twisted away and thrust once more towards his grandson. Without missing a heartbeat Elrohir ducked past the tip of the blade and into close range once more. The sharp edge of Celeborn's blade bit lightly into his side, but he now held the handle of his blade low, with the tip pressing against his grandsire's neck. The older Elf smiled broadly.

"Well done - very well done. You are much improved since last we met."

Elrohir chuckled. "I should hope so."

The two Elves stepped away from each other and eyed their handy work. Elrohir's tunic had a red patch of blood on the right sleeve and a clean slice along the left side. Celeborn was also sporting a wound on his hand and blood was spilling onto the pommel of his sword. Both of them started laughing at the same time. The tenseness of the past few weeks and flown out of them, and if a few scrapes and bruises had been required for the healing, then they both felt that it was well worth it.

Celeborn's mood seemed to ebb and flow with the seasons, and there were still sorrowful memories that haunted him in the lands of Middle Earth. Of Elrohir, some has already been told, and much may be assumed. He had written several letters to Nessúlë over the past month and was still in a tedious state of unrest. His mood seemed to ebb and flow with the coming of her letters.

Sitting down on a nearby fallen tree, Elrohir smiled quite genuinely. "You were right, granddad, the morning outdoors has done me much good."

Celeborn smiled fondly, choosing not to point out that Elrohir had not referred to him as "granddad" since the coming of his majority. There was no harm in reverting to old habits, as long as they brought one to a better state of mind. Elrohir had developed the propensity of trying to be everything at once, when he could only ever be himself. And so it was a step in the right direction if, for a moment, he could think like a child again. Children were straightforward and could be wonderfully perceptive.

"I am glad that you are feeling better; it eases my mind."

At this statement Elrohir raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "You keep alluding to my some ill state about me? What do you mean by it?"

Celeborn's eyes twinkled merrily. If he had been speaking to Elladan this conversation would have been much more long and involved, consisting of half-questions and insinuation. Twice already Elrohir had pointedly asked what he meant to say. There was something pleasantly stark about such a manner.

"I mean that you have not been so very well of late," Celeborn finally answered, moving over to sit next to his grandson. "You have been brooding, and if you continue to do so I shall soon be unable to tell you apart from Elladan. Elladan sits when he is perplexed - you brandish a sword. You have neglected your sword of late, so something must be grievously wrong."

To his surprise Elrohir laughed out loud, making the glade ring and shimmer. "Thank you, I believe I needed that. I have been rather sullen lately, haven't I?"

Celeborn made no reply but merely eyed the younger Elf pointedly. Elrohir's face fell slightly.

"Do you really want to know?" He asked self-consciously

Silence.

"Ah... well then... I suppose it all began at i'Merendë Enyalië before the War."

~~~

"And you never told her?" Celeborn asked incredulously.

Elrohir nodded his head in the affirmative. "It wouldn't have been right-"

"Foolish man!" The elder elf spoke resolutely, though not unkindly, standing up and taking several paces across the green space before turning around. "Do you not remember the words that your grandmother spoke over you when you were born?"

Elrohir, knight of Elves and Men*
A champion you will be and a hero
A doer of deeds and a singer of songs
Do not sleep when the sun is on your face
Do not sleep when the night is young
For you are like the wind, fair and strong
Forever seeking and forever finding

Elrohir spoke the words softly and steadily, familiar with their flavor. He knew what his grandfather was about to say.

"Inaction does not sit well with you. You cannot hide within yourself - you were made to fight or to fall."

Placing his head in his hands, Elrohir grimaced. "I would rather harm myself than harm Nessúlë. She is much more valuable."

"You think to highly of yourself, young one."

Elrohir was startled by Celeborn's blunt statement, and so he did not respond. Instead he merely listened as the wise Elf continued.

"I think it is rather pretentious to believe that an honest confession of love would have any negative effect on that lady. She is strong and high-minded. Either she will find it in herself to return your love or she will feel sorry at your sadness and move on, believing fully in her own obliviousness to matters of the heart that you will heal and find someone else in time. In many ways she is like your grandmother: you will never be capable of hurting her until she loves you in return."

A thoughtful look passed across Celeborn's face and a few moments of silence passed before he continued. "Do not lie to yourself, Elrohir. You choose not speak because you are afraid. But I do not see how a rejection can hurt you more than the slow and steady decline which has been sweeping away your joy for these past few years. You must tell her."

Elrohir's shoulders slumped. Neither one spoke again until it was time to return for the noon meal. As they walked back toward the halls Celeborn noticed resolution in the set of Elrohir's face.

"So you understand now?" he inquired gently.

"I think that I do... I hope that I do." Elrohir looked rather helplessly at his grandfather. "But I would prefer meeting and enemy straight on in battle. It would be less nerve-wracking."

Celeborn laughed good-naturedly. "Well, at least you have some time to prepare."

As the Elf-lord spoke the screech of a hawk sounded above them and moments later a handsome bird landed on Elrohir's shoulder. At first the pale aspect of Elrohir's face confused Celeborn, but he soon came to a realization.

"Another letter from the lady?"

Elrohir nodded numbly, taking the young hawk in his hand and retrieving the note.

"Hannon chin, Bainsúl. {Thank you, Bainsúl}," Elrohir quickly murmured was he opened the note. It was short and did not take very long to read. If it was possible, his face grew paler.

"What? What it is?" Celeborn asked with concern.

"Perhaps I do not have as much time to prepare as you thought," Elrohir finally muttered, "She will be here in two days."

***

1. i'Merendë Enyalië = "The Festival of Remembrance" - Elvish New Year Celebration.

2. Elrohir means "Elf knight"


Things to Know:

Nessúlë: "young spirit"
Lantél: "falling star"
Vírtuima: "rose bud"
Hithui: "Novermber"
Bainsúl: "fair wind"


ion nín: "son my"
gwador: "brother"
tithen-naug: "little-dwarf"
elleth: "she-Elf"
muinthel: "sister"
hannon chin: "thank you"

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