Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
~ To the Virgins, to make much of Time by Robert Herrick
Gather Ye Rose Buds While Ye May
A dark haired Man and a tall Elf sat on a narrow bench against the wall of a small cottage. Estel was glad to be outside with Glorfindel for it was a pleasant spring morning and the house had been smoky and stifling. His Elven Brothers were still inside negotiating with village's headman, a Man called Amdir, for the supplies they wished to purchase for their return journey. The four of them had been scouting the outlying borders of Imladris for two weeks, training Estel in woodcraft and taking him to see the dwellings of Men whom lived in the northern most parts of the Angle.
It was the farthest Estel had ever been from home.
He had enjoyed himself greatly and learned much, especially in meeting the Dúnedain to whom he knew he was kin. He had known few Men save his Mother growing up and he found them strange yet fascinating. This little village was called Northdell by its inhabitants, nestled in a small glen a little over a league south of the East Road. This was the third Dúnedain settlement Estel had yet seen but the wooden houses with thatched roofs still seemed rustic and unlovely to his eyes. He supposed this was because he had spent most of his sixteen years in Imladris and was used to the Elven walls of stone and roofs of slate.
Estel was glad they were going home, much as he had enjoyed their trip. He desperately need a bath and would give much to never have to sleep in a habergeon and cuirass again. Moreover, he was now aware of how fortunate he was that his Father, Elrond, had agreed to foster him. After seeing their villages, he often wondered if all Men were so poor but he kept his thoughts to himself, not wishing to insult anyone. He hoped his Brothers would be done soon and that the Men would not insist they stay for midday meal.
Breaking the silence, Estel turned to his companion and voiced something that been bothering him.
"Why did you let my Brother's treat with Amdir?"
Glorfindel shrugged gracefully. "Your Brothers always treat with the Dúnedain when we are amongst them," he said casually.
"I know that. But why do you let them? You are the elder and hold the most authority among us," Estel pointed out, frustrated by what he suspected was deliberate obtuseness from the Elf.
Glorfindel sighed, gazing out to the center of the village. There, sitting in a loose circle, was a gathering of young girls, the eldest of them no older than seven years. They were plucking flowers and weaving them into garlands, watched over by a woman about Estel's age whom often glanced nervously in their direction.
"Have you seen how the Men we have meet treat me?" Glorfindel asked softly, not in Westron as he had previously, but in Quenya. Estel took this to mean he did not wish to be overheard and replied in the same language.
"They seem apprehensive," he admitted.
"Indeed. And how do they treat your Brother's?" the Elf asked.
"As if they are old friends," Estel answered honestly.
"That is because they are, Hinya." Glorfindel called him by the endearment he had used since Estel was a small boy. "Your Brother's have served with all of those whom are, or have been, Rangers. Even those whom are not Rangers know them for they often visit this village."
"Yet you are not friends with any of the Men?" he asked for he knew that Glorfindel frequently fought alongside the Rangers, if not as often as his Brother's.
"I have been friends with few Men," the Elf confessed.
"For the same reason I do not treat with the Dúnedain, unless it is necessary." Glorfindel replied drily.
"Because Men are uneasy around you," Estel nodded, understanding. He would not wish to deal with Men whom were nervous of himself, either. "But why do you daunt them so?"
Glorfindel laughed. "Look at me, Hinya. Can you not guess?"
Estel looked and tried to see the Elf as other Men might. Glorfindel's linen raiment was finer than any Estel had seen in the village. He had divested himself of his armor and was wearing an indigo tunic embroidered at the wrists and collar with green vines. His dark brown trousers were tucked into leather boots that ended at mid-calf. Glorfindel's intricately braided hair was the color of ripe wheat. This must seem strange to the villager's, all of whom were dark haired, and only their women kept their tresses so long.
Yet his Brothers also wore fine clothes and had long hair and that did not seem to disturb these folk.
Yet as he considered his mentor's face, Estel thought he could see what made Men chary around him. Glorfindel's countenance radiated an air of veiled power that Estel had never seen in another Elf. His azure eyes gleamed with an inner light and he had a presence of indescribable otherness to him. Sitting on a rough wooden bench and leaning against the whitewashed wall of a small cottage, Glorfindel did not look as though he belonged. He appeared as a handsome jewel shining from within a mire.
"You are out of place," Estel said quietly.
"Aye, that is a good way of putting it." Glorfindel smiled wryly.
"Do they know who you are?" he asked, for it seem unbelievable than someone could not know the famed Balrog slayer.
Glorfindel shook his head. "Nay, most do not. Yet they can sense it, I deem."
Estel nodded. Even if one did not know that Glorfindel was Reborn, and had returned from Aman, it was not difficult to descry the strange aura about him.
"Why do you not tell them?"
"Because as it is, I only intimidate them. But if they knew of my origins they would fear me." Glorfindel said solemnly.
"I know your origins and I do not fear you," he objected.
"That is because you have known me all your life, Hinya." Glorfindel laughed quietly, glancing at the group of girls whose minder was staring at them again. She blushed and looked away quickly.
"Folk often fear what they find usual or that which they do not understand." Glorfindel said softly.
"Are all Men like that?" Estel asked, feeling ashamed.
"I did not say it was only a folly a Men, Hinya. We Eldar have often been just as guilty."
"Many times, Hinya. As in the First Age, when we became aware if your race, many of the Eldar distained Men. They were disturbed by your mortality and your illnesses for it was something they did not understand."
"Were you one of them?" he asked cautiously, not wishing to offend.
"Nay, but I have always found the unusual to be more fascinating than frightening." Glorfindel said, voice tinged with amusement.
They were silent for time, watching two of the girls chase each other around the circle.
"Does it ever bother you?" Estel inquired softly.
Glorfindel understood what he meant and frowned thoughtfully.
"There are times I envy your Brother's friendship with the Ranger's. The Dúnedain are a noble folk and I admire their fortitude. Yet I have also seen how your Brother's hearts become heavy with grief every time one of their friends passes beyond the circles of this World."
Glorfindel sighed and shifted on the bench. "Perhaps I am fortunate not to have many Mortal friends. Your lives are so brief. You are as these flowers," he gestured to the yellow wood sorrel that grew thickly around their feet. "Blooming in Spring and fading ere Summer arrives. 'Tis a perilous thing to befriend a Man."
Estel frowned, feeling troubled. He had never before thought of how his Elven family would respond to his eventual death.
"Mayhap you should not have allowed yourself to become so close to me," he said wondering if he was worth the pain his family would feel at his death.
"Nay, Hinya. Do not considered such a thing," Glorfindel placed a hand on his shoulder. "I have never regretted any of my friendships, not even those with Mortals."
"Not even that time when I dyed your hair purple with blackberry juice? It took days before it all washed out," Estel reminded him, grinning.
"Not even then did I regret knowing you, Hinya." The Elf laughed, shaking his head. "Yet if you do it again I may have to reconsider," he added wryly.
Estel chuckled then sobered suddenly, his voice grave. "It still might have been wiser for you to have kept your distance. Now you will suffer at my death."
"That may sound like wisdom, Estel, but in truth it is selfishness. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly be broken. We do well not to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but accept them. That is part of what makes them so valuable." Glorfindel squeezed his shoulder before removing his hand.
One on the young girls approached them timidly. She wore a faded red dress and her chestnut hair was flying loose from its braid.
"What do you require, Mistress?" Glorfindel asked her gently.
The girl's shy smile was missing two front teeth.
"I made these for you," she handed the Elf two garlands of white clover flowers.
Glorfindel grinned delightedly and promptly put one of them on his head.
"Thank you, Mistress. That was very kind of you,"
The girl beamed and ran back to her companion's whom were watching them eagerly, tittering like a flock of sparrows.
"You look ridiculous," Estel said, laughing at the ragged flower circlet and imagining what his Brothers would say when they saw it.
"Aye, but do you still think I am out of place here?" Glorfindel asked with a wry smile, while attempting to place the other garland on Estel's head.
"If I say yes, will you cease?" he said, ducking to avoid the Elf's hands.
"I make no promises, Hinya!" Glorfindel retorted cheerfully.
"I see why Father calls you incorrigible," Estel muttered in defeat as Glorfindel managed to force the clover wreath onto his head.
"Elrond is renowned for his wisdom." the Elf said sagely, thought the effect was ruined by his laughter.
"As are you, it seems!" he snorted.
"Though doom and death shall separate us, Estel, my heart shall always be with you." Glorfindel said solemnly. "But let us not dwell upon the darkness to come while the days are yet bright."
"Thank you, meldonya." Estel said softly, stooping down to pluck the bright flowers at his feet so he might weave his own garland to gift to the girl.
"Tye-melin, Hinya. Elen sillë lumenn' omentielvo." Glorfindel replied fondly.
The Angle: a region in Eriador, south of the Trollshaws and to the east of Rivendell. A triangle of land formed by the River Hoarwell (Mitheithel) in the east, the River Loudwater (Bruinen) in the west and the East Road in the north.
Glorfindel (Sindarin): in the First Age, he was the Lord of the House of Golden Flowers in Gondolin. He is most famous for saving the lives of Tuor and Idril by slaying a balrog, whom also killed him. He was reborn in Aman after his death from which 'his spiritual power had been greatly advanced by his self-sacrifice'. The Valar sent him back Middle-earth in the Second Age to act as their emissary. Glorfindel's power was such that even the Witch King flew from him when he drove him out of Carn Dûm in 1975 of the Third Age. His named means 'golden haired'.
Hinya (Quenya): 'My child'. A contraction of 'hinanya'.
Habergeon (English): a sleeveless coat of mail.
Cuirass (English): a piece of armor formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or leather and consisting of a breastplate and backplate fastened together.
Aman (Quenya): 'Blessed Realm'. A continent to the west of Middle-earth across the ocean. It was the home of the Valar and three kindred's of Elves.
Eldar (Quenya): 'Elves'. This is the name given to the Elves by the Vala Oromë when he first discovered them. It means 'of the stars' as in 'the people of the stars'. The singular is 'elda'.
"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly be broken.": a quote from "The Four Loves" by C.S. Lewis (pg. 121). One of my all-time favorite books.
Meldonya (Quenya): 'My (male) friend'.
Tye-melin,hinya. Elen sillë lumenn' omentielvo (Quenya): 'I love thee, my child. A star shone on the hour of our meeting'. The past tense of the traditional greeting.