"It has come to this, gwador." Elrond pushed the missive bearing the High King's seal across the table so Glorfindel might read it. "I honestly do not know what I am going to do."
Glorfindel picked up the parchment, unfolded it and glanced over Gil-galad's flowing script. "He means to honor you with a visit."
"Honor me?" Elrond gestured to the window, whose new glass looked out over a courtyard whose paving stones were still being laid. "Nay, we have not suitable lodgings for him. He will be displeased and I will mortified—"
"Gwador!" Glorfindel's sharp voice silenced Elrond's protests. "Most of the buildings are finished and suitably furnished, and by the time Gil-galad arrives all will be ready for him. You have taken great pleasure in the building of this place, and no doubt he will see that and approve."
"And if he does not? This place is so small compared with Lindon."
"It is not a city you are building, but a refuge and stronghold," answered Glorfindel. "And may I remind you that you are the High King's herald and know his tastes as well as your own? You have served him long enough to know what will please him."
Sighing, Elrond rubbed his temples with an uneasy hand. "Aye, you are right. It is only that my efforts in this little valley have become strangely dear to me and I know not why."
* * *
All day, as he put his gweth through its paces in the dirt yard beyond the half-finished courtyard, Glorfindel noted Lindir spying on him from the foliage. Once or twice, he spared a wink for his foster son, but only when he finished and dismissed his warriors did he call the youngster to him.
"What is it, pen-neth, that you watch me so? Are you not supposed to be with Erestor, learning your letters?"
Lindir looked shyly up at him. "Yes, ada, but then Lord Elrond came and wanted him to write some very important letters. Master Erestor said I should go see if I could find some work to do."
"I do not think lurking in the bushes qualifies as work, yondo. Could you not find work among the crofters, or do you secretly wish to become a warrior?" Lindir was a small child for his age and was not likely to grow to be particularly tall or strong; he would never be a warrior, though Glorfindel never said this aloud to his foster-son. So much had the boy lost in the fall of Eregion, he should have some hope of a bright, useful future to sustain him.
Though I would not call being a warrior a particularly bright or glorious existence, thought Glorfindel. But Lindir had seen enough of how battle-hardened warriors and embattled refugees lived, and had no need to be reminded.
Not for the first time, Glorfindel wondered at the wisdom of not placing Lindir with one of the refugee families who had settled in Imladris. There were two or three couples who had lost their children to the enemy during the evacuation of Ost-in-Edhil and would welcome a new child under their roof. Lindir ought to have both a mother and father, and Glorfindel questioned his own selfishness at keeping the boy by his side.
The truth is, he admitted, the boy lightens my heart when he is near. He knew it was not in the boy's best interest to stay with him, even though Lindir said he did not want to live with anyone else.
"They already have people to help them. Norno said he would show me his harp, but not now. I want to learn how to play, ada, and he says he'll teach me, but right now he's busy sanding wood for the floor in the new building. He says it has to be very fine, because we're going to have very important visitors."
Glorfindel picked up the boy and held him against his mail-clad shoulder. "So news here travels as quickly as the swallow, is that it? Aye, we are going to have visitors. The High King is going to visit us for a few weeks in the summer."
"Master Erestor says he is a very great warrior and is very wise," said Lindir. "Is he like Lord Elrond, then?"
"They are distant kin, yondo, and Elrond is the King's herald."
"Is that an important job?"
"Aye, it is very important," said Glorfindel. "The King could not function without his herald."
"But what does a herald do, ada?"
"Many things, but I could not describe all of them for you. He helps the King make important decisions and makes sure the King's wishes are carried out. He sends letters on the King's behalf and receives petitions and even helps the King decide what to wear in the morning. As for the rest of it, you should ask Erestor, for he knows the workings of the court better than I."
"Do you think I could be a herald when I grow up?"
Glorfindel tousled the boy's dark hair with his free hand. "Why do you wish to be a herald, pen-neth?"
Lindir shrugged. "When I still lived with my parents, they were going to teach me how to be a scribe, because that's what they did, but they're gone now and I don't think I can be a scribe anymore."
"Do you not wish to be a scribe, then?"
The boy answered with a grim look and another shrug. "There isn't anybody to teach me. I don't think I can be a warrior like you, ada. I'm too small. All the other boys say so, and even Hallacár says so when I try to help with the building."
"Sawing and carrying planks is not suitable work for a child, pen-neth. But if you still wish to be a scribe, I am sure Erestor will be happy to teach you. I doubt the other boys know their Cirth and Tengwar as well as you, and I am sure none of them know any Dwarven runes as you do. If you wish my opinion, I think you would make a very good scribe, or perhaps a healer. Lord Elrond is both, did you know?"
"But I thought you said he was a herald."
"Aye, but he has many interests outside the court. He is a royal advisor and warrior, but he is also a great lore master and healer. Many times I have heard him jest that he could not decide what he wished to do and so decided to do all, but he has also said that it takes much work and dedication to master more than one craft, or a craft that is not dear to one's heart," Glorfindel explained. "You should not choose something that you do not love, and I do not think you would love being a warrior."
"Do you like being a warrior, ada?"
"Like is not a word I would use," said Glorfindel. Holding Lindir with one arm, balancing him against his hip, and carrying his sword with his other hand, he headed back to their quarters. "My father was a warrior and so was my brother. It was the only craft I was ever permitted to learn and the only one I know." He allowed himself a smile as he walked. "I do not think I would make a very good scribe, pen-neth."
"Ada?" Lindir snuggled against his shoulder, clearly wanting to ask him something. "When is your begetting day?"
The question was so unexpected that Glorfindel stopped on the path. "Why are you so curious about my arad en-edonnol all of a sudden?" In seven years the boy had never asked him, nor, he now realized to his shame, had he ever asked Lindir what his begetting day was.
"Because Hallacár had one a few days ago and everyone sang songs for him and gave him presents," Lindir replied.
"And you want everyone to sing songs for me and give me gifts, is that it? Child, I would be utterly embarrassed at such attention and I have no need of gifts." And, he also realized, he did not know how to answer Lindir's question even if he yielded his most carefully guarded secret, that he was truly Glorfindel of Gondolin reborn and not merely an Elda of Tol Eressëa named for the fallen hero.
Is my begetting the day I was first born in Valinor, or the day I was reborn out of Mandos? He did not know, for in his years in Valinor after his rebirth he had not celebrated his arad en-edonnol, allowing himself and all others to forget about it.
"Pen-neth," he said at last, "I am so old now I no longer mark the years."
* * *
gwador: (Sindarin) friend, associate
ada: (Sindarin) father
yondo: (Quenya) son
pen-neth: (Sindarin) young one
arad en-edonnol: (Sindarin) day of begetting. Big thanks to Ithildin for the translation.