Author: Virodeil PM
For Teitho June 2011. Estel escapes to the Bruinen, and Gildor is set to take him home without much ado. But when they meet, the inevitable happens: Young mind wishes to know why Gildor is "Inglorion of the House of Finarfin." — Would "Finrod" be better?Rated: Fiction K - English - Drama/Humor - Aragorn - Words: 2,823 - Published: 07-28-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7229161
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Point of View: First Person Limited, Present Tense
Nobody likes to be cooped up indoors for too long, and nobody likes to be watched too closely – even by good-intentioned people. An eight-year-old Estel living with his mother and foster father in Imladris has the same opinions, at least, and one afternoon his dream of visiting the Bruinen alone comes true…
Gildor wishes to rest awhile in the hidden valley from his wanderings, but his current visit to Elrond's abode is troubled by a missing certain young Adan…
What happens when they meet? Can Gildor's past, painstakingly hidden, stand the onslaught of a young, sharp, inquisitive mind?
The story takes place at Rivendell. Aragorn (Estel) at that time is around 8 years old. And since the child practically grows up in a place speaking Sindarin (and Quenya, perhaps), the language spoken in this story is Sindarin, not Westron. And in the child's point of view, "Nana" refers to Gilraen while "Ada" refers to Elrond.
And here's also to celebrate the anniversary of my participation in this contest! Admitedly, it is a rather sparse participation, but oh well. And thank you very, very much for my beta-reader Elleth – without whom this story will never see the daylight!
Elrond has been quite worried about his latest charge, and it is only because the little imp has vanished for half a day. I would say that he worries needlessly; but indeed the boy looks so much like his deceased brother Elros, and minions of the Enemy are still searching for the heir of Isildur far and wide according to our intelligence. Still, I would be glad if I were not roped into searching for the child, just when I thought I could relax a little and enjoy this hidden valley to the fullest. My companions in all weathers and conditions, my people so to say, have offered their assistance, but I demurred. Estel is a Secondborn child, and he cannot have the skills to hide and avoid notice that a Firstborn child usually does. There is no need to rope them into this too.
I do not want to admit defeat now, although I have spent more than an hour searching for the said child. I have checked what people say are his usual haunts, and I have even initiated checking some other places that a child might be interested in, but Estel was not in any of those spots. In all my experience, searching for a Secondborn child never took this long. Elladan and Elrohir must have taught the little one quite well…
Now, where must I seek? I have scoured the gardens and meadows and small woods contained within the valley, and even taken a look at the falls and the caverns hidden behind some of them. But the child remains elusive, and worry begins to creep into my spirit. What has he done? Where has he hidden himself? Elrond can be a stuffy protector, I know, since his children have often confided in me about that in the past. And now that Estel is the only child in the settlement, he might have poured it all onto the poor little one. And now I am dragged around trying to find the said little one because of it…
There is only one more place I have not searched at: the river. But surely Estel knows better than that? Surely Elrond and other adults have warned him – or ordered him – against visiting the river alone?
Valar! Do I not know how children behave? I was one not much long ago, not in the standard of the Firstborn at any rate, and I loved visiting the river Narog (which was no less wide, and no less swift, than the Bruinen is), terrifying my foster father and nearly everyone else in Nargothrond in the process.
Warmth retreats from my face on that thought, and I hastily retract my steps from the way to the house. Now I realise how Atar must have felt when he knew I had gone against his wishes to spend the day at the river. – Little imp! When I get to that child…
The swirls and sprays and currents of the river are quite an entrancing site; beautiful, dangerous, and so, so alive. I love spending time just watching them, trying to follow the ever-changing, convoluted patterns, whether with someone else or by myself – like now.
But the foam and bubbles and rushing lines are no longer so blindingly white; in fact, they are tinged as if by twilight…
Oh. How much time have I spent sitting here on the riverbank? Nana and Ada must have been searching for me!
And there is going to be quite a talking-to later from everyone…
Why did I spend so long here? I have never done so before! I have to return home before someone thinks to search here. Nana and Ada and Glorfindel and the twins – and practically everyone in the valley – will have a fit if they know.
I shudder. I have to go while there is yet time.
I turn around, about to vacate the protruding boulder I have been sitting on,
And a hand – an Elven hand, it seems – seizes my shoulder in a firm grip. I gulp, feeling my muscles stiffening in fearful surprise. I thought I had time…
Timidly, I raise my eyes to meet my tall captor's,
And just gawk. A stranger! I have never seen him around the valley. Who is he? Does he mean well to me and this settlement? Or is he—
The ellon chuckles softly. My inner ranting is cut short. I can see mirth in his dark eyes, now, not only the stern displeasure he displayed before. "I do not mean ill to you and others who settle here, child," he says. Then, with his eyes void of the laughter again, he adds, "But you might do ill to yourself and those who love you if you visit this place without supervision. Even adults can fall into harm with careless footing on the riverbank. Then what would your parents say?"
I want to say that Elves cannot possibly slip on anything, meanwhile not conceding that I am not an Elf and thus vulnerable to that, but the rebuttal lodges in my throat. He is right. Nana would be quite upset; and probably Ada too.
But I wanted to come here, and nobody was available to accompany me…
The ellon raises an eyebrow. I want to shrink away, but cannot. Belain – he must be reading my thoughts!
Amusement once more flits past his eyes, and he says, "Still suspicious of me, Estel? Then know that I am not reading your mind, or something to that effect. Your look tells me everything." He lets out another soft chuckle, and invites himself to sit on another boulder situated by the one I am sitting on, but closer to the water.
Is he going to give me a talking-to, then? But he has not even deigned giving me his name! What right does he have to reprimand me, a stranger – probably a guest of Ada? Not to mention that I shall get a bunch of admonishments from various people after this anyway…
"Who are you?" I ask. A little belligerently, perhaps, for he once more raises an eyebrow, accompanied with the stern displeasure I am beginning to associate with him. I am not in the mood to be overly polite, though. Besides, I shall get harangued by Nana and Ada and everyone anyway.
It never crossed my mind that he would instill the rule himself.
"Please repeat the question, little one? And this time please do as your instructors have told you to do."
"Sorry," I say grudgingly. "Who might you be, and from what House?"
A gleam of approval passes over his eyes now, and I relax slightly. With some luck, he will not tell Nana and Ada about my transgression.
"My name is Gildor, son of Inglor, of the House of Finarfin, child. — And it would do you well to behave. Good bearing and intelligence need to be tempered by courtesy and sincerity."
Ah, he has not forgiven my rudeness to him, then. But I can continue with his unspoken sentence: "—like my father often told me, a long time ago." His gaze certainly reflects that!
And, fortunately or not, the sense that we might have shared this moment in spite of the great age different mollifies me a little, making me like him more. He is no longer quite a stranger in my eyes, more solid than the few Elves in the valley I do not often interact with, and I like that notion – somehow.
I am still curious though. (Ada and Erestor and Glorfindel sometimes say that a curious me can be a big danger to everyone, especially after an experiment gone awry, but I would rather forget it for now.) Gildor mentioned his father's name and his House, but as far as I know there was never a mention of someone named Inglor, especially under the banner of the House of Finarfin; and since Erestor had me memorise it all under the threat of a week's grounding, I made sure I could recall all the names of Finarfin's children and his lords and ladies to his satisfaction. Who is Inglor, then, and Gildor? Dare I ask? But that can mean more admonishment from him and Nana and Ada… Is it worth the risk?
Gildor is looking at me with what might pass for regret in his eyes. Does he rue a possible slip of his tongue, then?
That settles it. I have to know.
He opens his mouth, perhaps to prevent me from asking, but I beat him to it. "Does your father have another name? Or perhaps he has a Quenya name?" And now that I get on this little quest, I cannot stop – not for nearly everything in Arda. I have to know. "Inglor" is not a Quenya name, as far as I know; perhaps it is "Ingalaurë"? But I do not know any Elf by that name either, save for Finarfin himself. (It is his mother-name, according to the boring book on family trees Ada had me read when I was grounded for pranking Glorfindel a month ago.) But it does not make sense! Gildor son of Finarfin of the House of Finarfin? Unless Gildor was playing tricks on me, undermining me like some Elves do?
The ellon frowns, but I have steeled myself against it. (Ada frowns more horribly, and Nana's upset look is quite… upsetting.) Then, remembering his earlier lecture on politeness, I rework my question, while giving him a puppy-dog look. "Might I know your father's other names? I am greatly curious about it, since neither Ada nor Erestor ever said about a person named Inglor in the House of Finarfin that ever dwelt in Beleriand." I do not wish to be thwarted so soon!
But Gildor looks bleak and defeated that, for a moment, I strongly think of retracting my inquiry. (He can very well best me in eliciting pity through look only!) But then an image of the House of Finarfin's badge passes through my mind and I refrain from doing so. (I found it emblazoned on a page in the emblem section of the book of family trees Ada had me read. The image of two serpents included in the coat-of-arms intrigued me greatly, and it still does, for everyone always says that serpents – from dragons to adders – are the symbol of Morgoth and thus detested. But the Elves always avoid answering my inquiry about why serpents are etched on the emblem of such a noble House, and Nana only smiles mysteriously at me when I ask her.) The temptation to seek the answer from him is too great, as now I have two questions pertaining to his heritage.
His acute stare bores into my spirit, but I am desperately determined not to flinch under the onslaught. – Belain! Now he is scarier than Ada when he is most displeased!
A wan smile tugs at the edges of his lips, then, and I give him a wavering tilt of my own. His sharp countenance dissolves slowly but surely, and now I can see that he is losing his composure also, leaving him vulnerable. I nearly turn back from the inquiry.
But I do not, in the end, and he gives in at last.
"My father has three names, little one," says he. "Four, if you count the one bestowed on him by the Dwarves; and five, if you count his Sindarised name."
I perk up. Is he…?
His smile becomes shadowed, pained. It is like the one time I saw of Erestor when I got very curious about the subject of Gil-Galad, asking him if the late High King liked a particular meal like me and fruit cakes. Does this expression signify fond feelings for deceased people, or is it something else? But Gildor said "has," not "had," when telling me about the names of his father…
I fidget on my perch, and the smile vanishes from his fair face. I smile a little at that.
But when he finally discloses the matter I dearly wished to know, I can only gape, stunned.
"His father named him Ingalaurë after himself, while his mother named him Ingoldo for some foresight. The Dwarves named him Felak-gundu to honour his skills and passion for stone-carving, and his – so to say – foster grandfather bestowed him the name Findaráto for reasons of his own. He is known as Finrod in the Grey Tongue, and he bore it proudly when he lived – in the lost Beleriand."
Too much information. It is as if some spring tide on the river breaks the dam and sweeps me on its merciless currents, bashing me against hard and sharp objects on the way.
I have loved and admired Finrod since the first time I knew of his tale – when Nana read me a heroic bedtime story, as I requested, not long after we came to live here. But despite his being my favourite figure ever, he was just a character of legend, distant, unreachable, nearly unthinkable. But now…
I gaze fiercely at the ellon sitting gloomily in front of me, imploring – for what, I do not know. My eyes feel like they are going to pop out their sockets, and I am quite aware that my mouth is still hanging open. (But I cannot close it!)
– Finrod! –
And I am in the presence of his son now…
The wan smile returns to Gildor's visage; I can see that, but it does not register instantly in my mind. – Finrod! I think; speechless, even without spoken words to hinder me.
But then Gildor speaks again, and I am pulled from my stupor. "I am not of his blood, Estel, however deep our love to each other is. He saved me when we were crossing the Grinding Ice, when my own father abandoned me on the ice to try to save his drowned wife. He never abandoned me, not until Beren came to collect the life debt my father owed his."
I shiver, as if I were experiencing the bleak, chill memory and its consequences for myself. He sighs and, not quite looking at me, gathers me into his arms and lap. Does he know or guess why I shuddered so? But regardless, after such a tale, I am glad I am within a friendly someone's embrace, however reluctant the gesture is.
We sit in an awkward silence for a long moment. Meanwhile, I notice that twilight is really setting now, giving the river a beautiful and other-worldly tinge – with all those reds and yellows and oranges and purples and dark-blues. The nature around us seems to be settling for the night to come, and I feel the sense of peace that only comes to me in the dawn and dusk.
Strange, after such a momentous… moment. But I cannot say I do not welcome it. It is the opposite, in fact. But that also makes me refrain from asking Gildor about what the badge of his foster grandfather means, afraid of more stunning revelations coming my way.
Foster grandfather… Who could he be – Finrod's foster grandfather? I have never read any mention of such a relation in the House of Finarfin in the book of family trees, or in any other books for that matter. Perhaps he was never recorded in any people's history?
I look up, meeting Gildor's wary gaze. Hopefully, I ask, "Who is your father's foster grandfather?"