Elf Up a Tree
Disclaimer: I own nothing pertaining to The Lord of the Rings.
The refreshing breeze called Lord Elrond outside. Sick and tired of paperwork, sick and tired of his study, and rather afraid of his two advisors, who were acting even less normal than usual, Elrond decided to seek an outdoor retreat. He pilfered an apple from the kitchens, saving it from being made into a pie later, and he brought a book with him, thrillingly titled, The Blood-stained Hand. He had found the book in Celebrían's old hoard of murder mysteries, and he had been wondering what made them so appealing to her for some time.
After a long day of work, Elrond felt like reading something violent.
The Lord of Imladris slunk unobtrusively out one of the many back doors, and strolled through the wild untamed gardens that bordered his home. The birds sang with unsubdued vigor, and the insects whirred cheerily in the shrubbery. Surrounded by such peace and contentment, Elrond felt the tenseness leave him.
Finally, he reached the tree. Its sparkling silver blossoms fell like drops of rain after each particularly sweeping wind. The smell of growing things danced among the boughs and strings of leaves fluttered and twisted in the spring breeze. Elrond had not been to the tree in a long time.
He pulled himself into it, careful to bruise neither the apple nor himself, and trying not to scuff the already worn book in his hand. Celebrían had loved to read, and she had returned to her favorite stories again and again, leaving the volumes rather tattered. He opened the book to the first page and began to read, munching the crisp apple happily, and savoring the lack of stiff, unforgiving schedules.
A few pages later, when the heroine already had a full-blown problem on her hands, another Elf traipsed into the garden, golden hair tangled as usual and blowing gracelessly in the wind. It was Glorfindel the Younger, come to wreak havoc in Elrond's life again. He swung himself into the tree, armed with a cat's confidence, a Vanya's charm, and the climbing abilities of a wood-elf.
"How are you, Lord Elrond?" he asked, perching comfortably in a forked branch, and flashing the other Elf a dazzling grin.
"I am well, Glorfindel," sighed Elrond, mentally kissing the peace and calm good-bye. "What are you doing here?"
"Talking to you," Glorfindel replied, as if it were perfectly obvious, which indeed it was.
"But why?" said Lord Elrond. "I was trying to read. Go and bother someone else."
"I have," Glorfindel answered. "That's why I'm up here."
Elrond scrunched up and buried his face in the book, trying not to imagine Glorfindel's potential misdeeds. He focused on the story, the nice relaxing murder mystery. He feared that if Erestor found Glorfindel, he would get to see murder committed right before his eyes. Though Glorfindel could make the other advisor scramble for cover most days, if Erestor worked himself up into a state of righteous rage, there was no standing against him. He decided to try and get Glorfindel to leave.
"You aren't very camouflaged," he pointed out. "You are wearing red."
Frowning, Glorfindel glanced down at his scarlet robes. Sometimes he had to pay for constantly wearing vivid colors. Then he turned sharply and gazed out across the garden, to where a figure dashed into view.
"We have company," said Glorfindel carelessly. He didn't have to worry, this newcomer was Estel.
"Valar save me," moaned Elrond, and peered down through his leafy abode.
Estel spotted Glorfindel first. "Glorfy!" he shrieked. "Elladan and Elrohir are after me!"
"Prepare to die!" Glorfindel yelled back.
Estel grinned. "Will you help me up?" he asked. He was only nine years old, and despite being a competent climber he disliked climbing trees in front of the more proficient Elves.
"No," said Glorfindel. "You try this time. I know you can do it."
His encouragement was all the child needed, and Estel scrambled up without incident.
"Father!" he squeaked with surprise, coming nose to nose with the Elf-Lord. Glorfindel caught the boy before he tumbled out of the tree.
"Hello, Estel. Have you come to join us?" asked Elrond.
"Yes. I didn't want to die," Estel said, with a rakish grin in Glorfindel's direction.
"That's very wise," Elrond replied. "Why are Elladan and Elrohir after you?"
"They want to tickle me," Estel explained. "They like to do things like that."
"Did you know that Elrohir is one of the most ticklish Elves in Imladris?" asked Glorfindel. "You barely have to touch him, and he'll keel over."
"How do you know that?" asked Elrond curiously.
"I am a fount of random knowledge," explained Glorfindel without batting an eyelid.
Elrond sighed. He wondered if Estel and Glorfindel could take a hint. He decided to try and see. The Lord of Imladris opened his book and began to read again with grim determination. Glorfindel went back to peering anxiously across the garden. A moment later he jerked back in horror.
"Erestor found me," he said.
"You must have done something dreadful to be so worried about him," Elrond said.
The other Elf flushed. He watched Erestor again, and could just imagine the innocent flowers wilting in front of Erestor's angry gaze. The insects falling silent. The birds dropping dead out of the trees.
Erestor stood underneath his friend's hiding place and smiled.
"Glorfindel," he said, "you ran away so quickly that you never gave me a chance to thank you."
Glorfindel ducked as a book came hurtling up through the foliage. The heavy volume knocked Elrond over the head. Beneath them, Erestor looked sad that he hadn't successfully delivered a blow to Glorfindel's head.
"Why did you do that?" yelled Elrond. "I'm merely an innocent bystander."
Erestor clambered into the tree. "I'm sorry, my lord," he said. "I wasn't aiming for you."
"That made me feel so much better." Elrond scowled. "The other Elves of Imladris would not take kindly to a murder attempt on their lord."
"It was not a murder attempt," said Erestor, grabbing Glorfindel by the hair as the Elf tried to evacuate the tree. "I only seek retribution for the snake I found in my desk drawer this morning."
"Dead or alive?" asked Estel with interest.
"Alive," Erestor said. Glorfindel wriggled. "At least," Erestor added, "it was briefly alive. I killed it with Glorfindel's letter opener."
"What?" Glorfindel said.
"You'll never be able to use it again, I'm afraid," said Erestor. He let go of Glorfindel's hair and plopped himself down on a branch, swinging his feet over the side. "So, what are you all doing up here?"
"Avoiding you," Glorfindel said.
"Avoiding Elladan and Elrohir," Estel said.
"Avoiding everyone," Elrond said, opening the book again and glaring over the top of it at the others.
"Here comes Lindir," piped Estel from his vantage point high up the top of the tree.
Lindir appeared to be chasing butterflies. He never killed them, but he liked to catch them with his large net, more suitable for snaring eagles than small insects. Then he would admire them, and finally Lindir would let the precious pollinators fly away. Perhaps he mistook the bright red of Glorfindel's garments for a butterfly of huge proportions. Perhaps he merely wanted to survey the gardens of Imladris for suitable victims. Perhaps he saw Estel waving cheerfully. As it was, Lindir decided to climb the tree.
Even for an Elf, climbing the tree while holding a butterfly catching net the size of himself was difficult. Lindir made a worthy effort. He tossed the meshed trap up into the branches of the tree, where it descended unexpectedly around Estel and enveloped him completely. The handle clonked Elrond over the head. Estel fell off his precarious perch and on top of Glorfindel. Erestor watched with interest as the net slid down the tree, gathering startled Elves as it went.
Lindir stepped back in amazement as Elrond, Glorfindel, and Estel almost, but not quite, fell out of the tree. The handle of the big net caught in the tree's hardy boughs, Glorfindel caught Estel, and Elrond shot Lindir his infamous Glare of Death.
"What are you doing, you clumsy Elf?" asked Elrond with dignity, despite the fact that one foot was tangled up in the net's shrouds and had been pulled skyward.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Lord Elrond!" cried Lindir. "I didn't mean to do that!"
"If you had meant to do this, it never would have happened quite so nicely," said Elrond. "If you had meant to do this, probably you would have been only person whacked on the head."
Lindir continued to babble apologies.
"Come on up," invited Glorfindel. "We've already managed to ruin Lord Elrond's afternoon."
Lindir hurried up the tree and kept on apologizing. Elrond recovered his book from where it had somehow lodged itself in some high branches. Estel removed a leaf from his mouth.
"I've never had such an exciting afternoon," he said.
"It's about to get better," Glorfindel announced.
Elladan and Elrohir bounced up the tree effortlessly.
"What's going on?" asked Elladan.
"Almost everything," Erestor answered.
Elrond took a vicious bite of his apple.
"Elrond got hit on the head with a book," Glorfindel said.
"A book meant for Glorfindel's head," put in Erestor quickly.
"Erestor killed a snake," Glorfindel said.
"A snake that Glorfindel put in my desk," Erestor said.
"Lindir caught me in a net," Estel said.
"I thought he was a butterfly," Lindir said.
"We almost fell out of the tree," Glorfindel said.
"I came up here so that you wouldn't tickle me," Estel said.
"Oh, yes," Elladan with a wicked grin. "We were going to tickle Estel, weren't we?"
Elrond whimpered, wondering what a tickling match in a tree would mean. More pain and suffering, he guessed. He did not want to see any more pain and suffering. He did not want to be involved. Elrond scampered down the tree and bolted back to his study as fast as he could manage without breaking his neck.
Elrond sank into his comfortable chair with a sigh of relief. Someone had set a pot of tea on his desk, and it was still warm. He poured himself a cupful and leaned back, smiling. Why had he ever left? He belonged in his wonderful little study.
He opened The Blood-stained Hand and read the same paragraph for the third time, in this instance, however, deriving new meaning from the words. All he could hear was blessed silence. He was very happy.
Glorfindel stuck his head round the door with a brilliant grin. "Why, there you are, Elrond!"