I do not own any of J.R.R. Tolkien's works, characters, or the locations he set his stories. This work is for entertainments purposes only.
This story is written first-person. Legolas is recounting a memory of Aragorn when he was still growing up in Rivendell as "Estel."
Six-year-old Estel and I were walking through the gardens of the Last Homely House. It was early summer. The sun was warm. Far off, soft edged, clouds drifted in the high vaults of the sky. The flowers and herbs beds were covered in things that buzzed through them on translucent wings or fluttered over them on painted ones. The air was a mixture of a thousand perfumes. The song of Ilúvatar was sweet, slow, and calming. I was far too relaxed to expect anything.
Estel had a voice he used when he wanted to learn or do something he knew a grown up would be reluctant to allow him to learn or do. He began to speak to me in it and I did not notice until too late. "Adar says I have healer's hands." I nodded and replied without looking at him.
"That is a wondrous gift to have Estel." I had already learned this astonishing news from Elrond. I had been both surprised and awed at first, but the shock had long since passed.
The child continued. "He said I can feel the song of Ilúvatar through my hands and the ebb and flow of it in living things."
"Yes, but the healer's touch is more than that, Estel. It is not simply feeling the song. Healing hands can strengthen the song of Ilúvatar in living things they touch and so heal great harms."
"But I can use it to feel the song too, like you and elves, right?"
"Yes, Estel, you can." I answered with a half-grin.
"You use the song to speak with trees." Estel continued.
"Yes," I replied. I was beginning to fear how this conversation was being guided.
"Can I use my healer's gift to speak with trees?" Estel called up to me.
I stopped walking. Estel paused beside me, gazing up with bright, grey eyes. They shone like stars in his small face. I refused to look straight into them as I answered.
"I do not know Estel." I felt his small hand take mine and squeeze it.
"Can we try?" He wheedled.
"I'm not sure . . . I don't know if . . . you are . . ." I hesitated. It was already so hard for him to be human among immortals.
"Everyone always tells me to at least try when I think I can't learn something." He answered.
I sighed. I was certain this was not what his teachers had meant. He hoped to do what was believed impossible for mortals. I would not hear the end of this until he had tried. Only after he had broken his heart trying would he no longer ask.
I took him to our favorite tree. If we must try, we would not try half way, I decided. It was my favorite, because it was ancient and filled with a greater than usual amount of Ivultar's song. It had been planted three centuries ago in the gardens, by Elrond himself. It had healing properties. Therefore, he had planted it near the healer's ward. While it grew, the tree had had absorbed some of the sweet, awesome power of this place. Its voice was strong, deep, and clear after many visits by me.
It was Estel's favorite tree because it was close to the house and easy to climb. He told me it was the tree in which his brother's had taught him how to climb trees, "when he was small." "Smaller," his brothers had added.
Estel also told me he'd hidden himself in this tree's branches when he hadn't wanted a bath, was afraid of punishment, or simply wanted to be alone. He had ceased to hide from such things a few years back, after a solemn conversation with Elrond. Now the tree was his favorite place to think. He said when he was angry, sad or both leaning against it made him feel better.
I knew this was because he was sensitive to the song, for a mortal, and the tree loved him. I placed my palm on its trunk and explained our desire. The tree vowed to do all it could. I turned to the boy.
"Come here and give me your hand, Estel."
With focused eyes, the boy did so. I took his tiny right hand in mine and placed it upon the trunk. His form stiffened. He squeezed his eye shut. I smiled at his concentration.
"No, no, not like that. Do not strain your ears," I instructed softly. He opened his eyes and relaxed before looking up at me. His grey eyes bored into mine as he listened.
"Do not try to shut out everything but the tree's voice," I continued. "You must open yourself to all else that surrounds you first. That is what we do. The only time we Sylvan elves try to block something in the song, is when an evil is trying to crawl within us through it." And they do try, I thought, but did not say. Estel did not need to know about that, yet.
"Then will I hear the tree?" Estel asked. I sighed.
"If you can hear the song in everything else, you will also hear it in the tree."
"How do I hear it in everything else?" he persisted. I leaned back, and fell down to sit upon the soft earth that was spread around the base of the gigantic trunk. I crossed my legs and held my hands out to the child.
"Sit across from me Estel."
The boy copied my pose and took my hands. I smiled at him. "Now, look everywhere around us with your eyes and listen to everything with your ears. Feel everything upon your skin. Smell everything that is on the air."
He gazed about, now straining to make his eyes as big as they could stretch. I laughed at that. After many quiet moments, he began to chatter.
"I can smell lots of herbs and flowers in the garden, especially the mint, thyme, roses, and sage. I hear bees flying over them. I also hear the robins that live in the hedge and the sparrow that has its nest over the shed. They're singing. I hear the brook running through the gardens and a gardener whispering to the carrots as she weeds them. I see the gardens and the house, and the clouds that look like the mane and tail of Glorfindel's horse sailing over them."
He turned toward me. "I see you, I see you smiling and watching me, and hear you breathing, and feel your pulse in your hands." He looked up at the subject of our lesson. "I see the tree's leaves, branches, and trunk, I smell it and the dirt its growing in. I hear the wind in its leaves. Is that its voice?"
Now I did laugh aloud. "That is part of its voice." I affirmed. "Now be still and take in all these things you've told me about, but instead of making them a long list of separate things, try to think of them as a great picture, a painting, or the songs played by the musicians in the Hall of Fire, different instruments and musicians playing one song."
We were still together for a long while. I watched the boy's face and saw the fleeting expressions of concentration as he tried to hear. I whispered. "Do not try so hard. Do not try at all. Forget about yourself. If you must notice yourself, notice that you are part of the song. Hear your living chorus as a part of it. Let yourself flow out as it flows in."
Estel took a deep breath and let it out. I felt him go lax. I smiled. He became more and more relaxed as time flowed past and through us with the song. Then, to my own astonishment, a peaceful smile spread over his face and he whispered back "I hear it."
I was astonished to find the thrill of the song pulsing far more strongly in his veins. Not as strongly as in mine, but more of it was there than had been before. I took his right hand and put it on the tree again. He turned his head and smiled even wider at it as I held it there. His eyes and smile got so wide they almost burst through his face as he sat up and shouted in excitement.
"I hear it!"
We laughed together. I felt tears sting in my own eyes as I saw them glisten in his. This human child could hear the song! What a gift. What a child! What a blessing. I breathed a silent prayer of thanks for us both.
"Estel!" A familiar voice called out. We turned our heads and saw two familiar figures walk up. We waited, him not taking his hand from the tree, me not taking mine from his. Elladan and Elrohir came to us and as usual, Elladan spoke first. "Where have you been little brother?"
"Here," was the simple answer Estel gave with a wide grin. They both laughed. Elrohir crouched down to smile gently into the boy's face.
"What did you hear?" He joked.
"The song of this tree." The child answered.
Both twins started at his confident reply. I chuckled. Both were more capable than he of hearing the song, but they hardly bothered to hear any message. The two warriors only cared about hearing enough of the song to know if all was well around them. They paid no attention to what trees actually had to say. They often laughed at me conversing with the members of Imladris' orchards and woods. After hearing their little brother's reply, they glanced at each other and then both turned to me.
"He speaks truth," I assured them.
Elladan gave me a grin that said he still thought I humored his little brother. Then he asked the child "What does the tree say, Estel?"
"Ummmmmm . . ." the boy turned toward the tree. His mouth was scrunched up in uncertainty, but I felt how relaxed rather than stiff he was. He was a quick learner, not often making old mistakes. I was the one who tensed.
It was an unfair question! First one must learn to hear the song in the tree. It takes more time for even a sylvan elfling to learn the trees' language. I was as startled as they when Estel turned back to Elladan with a bright grin.
"She's saying, 'it's nice to meet you.'"
My head spun to gaze at Estel and my jaw dropped. That was . . . exactly what the tree was saying. Estel wanted to stay and continue learning to talk to his old friend. The twins left to speak to their father about his youngest son's new knowledge.
When evening came, I carried a tired, but happy, Estel up to the house.
"How did you know Estel, what the tree was saying to you before I even began to teach you how to understand its song?"
Estel yawned and replied, "She felt nice and friendly and a little excited, but polite. That's the way people are when they first meet you and shake your hand."
I chuckled, and then spoke with more seriousness. "You are a good student Estel." He snuggled closer into my chest and replied while falling asleep.
"That's what ada always tells me."