Disclaimer: If I told you I own it all would you believe me? No? Then there you go. Not beta'd (so all mistakes are mine), and some of the idea for this comes from reading Dragon Confused's "The Prince and the Shipwright", which I highly recommend. 7/09/04This Ereinion
Círdan often walked along the beach alone with only the waves, creeping up the sand with soft whispers, the seabirds, and the wind as companions.
They were enough, had always been enough, ever since he had first come to the ocean for that very first time so long ago.
He had never left, nor had he ever wanted to go anywhere but where the song of the ocean filled his ears.
The absurdity of the situation was doubled for all that; he had been thrust into the role as guardian of an infant. An infant! Not even an adolescent, that would have been bad enough, but at least he could have put the lad to work and taught him something. What did he know of raising children? He had none, and had never been one himself. In fact he had never wanted children, their noise or the messes they brought to life. The thought made Círdan shake his head, long silver hair whipping about his face as the wind played against his face.
He had left the house early that morning, fleeing really, before any of his household was awake, and sought solitude. A measure of peace before the deck shifted and left him floundering again, but the ocean had no answers for him either.
Fingon. What had he been thinking in sending his only son to a Falathrim Shipwright? A Noldor prince. Ah...there was some deep irony in that.
Círdan made ships. They were his craft, his life, and the shaping of fine vessels to bear his people took much of his time. The rest was often spent in dealing with various small things around the Falas or in communing with the ocean. If you wanted to know what wood was best for shaping a hull, or for a strong mast to hold steady in storms, he could help. He knew how much stress a hull could take, how deep she would sit in the water. His hands read the wood and shape of his vessels as surely as a lover knew the contours of his beloved's body.
Sails. Why could they not ask him about sails? He could have told them what cloth best caught and held the wind without ripping. Or rope -- his people wove amazing ropes that would hold in the strongest of gales, and yet release any knot when bade like a hound brought to a master's heel.
None of that expertise, ages of experience, would help him with the waif of an elf who had been delivered to his door. Oh, he wished it was. Certainly he would far rather be on his way to the shipyards than reluctantly tracing his own footsteps in the sand back towards his house. The shipyards were home; the scent of wood, of resins, the beat of hammer and Elven voices raised in song even as they fashioned ribs to the skeleton of a frame.
Ereinion left him floundering, adrift, or cast up on some rocky shoals, so far from all that was familiar that his own home nearly became an alien land.
There had been toys in his hall this morning. Toys! A whole regiment of them, toy soldiers that the child had brought from he knew not where, but Círdan did know the hallway was not the place for such things! He had nearly run headlong into the wall in trying not to step on the ridiculous things -- bits of carved wood and metal, painted to resemble great warriors.
Great warriors. Círdan snorted. Being a warrior had not saved Ereinion's father, nor had it saved any of the other hot-blooded....
Shaking his head, he stalked faster, as if he could outpace the memories taunting him. Fingon alone, of all the Noldor, had been a friend. Despite all that had happened between their kin, despite the burning and killing, Fingon had come to them, to him, and become a friend.
So why had the ridiculous lout sent Ereinion to him? Yes, he had said they could all those years ago, but had he ever really expected them to send a child? No. No parent in their right mind would send a child to him for keeping!
Stopping, he stared out at the ocean, seeing an echo of his inner turmoil in the heave and crash of the waves against the sullen grey sky. Had Fingon been in his right mind? Had the curse finally taken him? Perhaps in sending Ereinion away, far away, he had hoped to spare his son.
There was no choice. Círdan bowed his head as that fact sunk in. Fingon was gone, and his son, his far too young son, was now the Shipwright's ward.
Ereinion had no choice either; if anything, the lad had less a voice than the adults in his fate.
That sparked a bit of pity from him, for he was not made of salt water as so many claimed. He was not entirely immune to the large grey-blue eyes of a small elf, sitting in a cloak that was clearly not his, and yet clutching it as if it was the father he longed to be holding rather than merely the cloth.
Lifting his gaze, Círdan stared at the horizon, where grey sky merged with the blue of the ocean. Change was coming, not just for him, not just for the boy. Change was coming that would shake the foundations of their world...and he had much to do to prepare for it.
He built ships. That was what he did. Not boys, not soldiers, not future kings. Ships.
Ereinion was not a ship. Not a thing to be molded and fitted, wood to be bent and nailed. Nor was he sails, to be heaved up or let down as the wind blew.
Or was he? Ships had to be steered, be given good, strong rudders along with sails, or they would run wild, without direction. Perhaps that was all the child needed, a basic grounding in.... No, it would not be simple. No sense making it seem easy. This was a new course charted for both of new in unfamiliar waters.
Ereinion was a new challenge, one the Shipwright had not foreseen.
Círdan drew in a deep breath, watching a bird fearlessly brave the topmost waves, skimming along to spear a fish out of the water before catching an updraft and climbing back into the sky, fish clutched in its talons.
The ocean was a temperamental lover. She could toss a ship along the waves like a tiny bit of wood, or give you a wind that gently pushed you along the calm seas. You could never forget to respect her, and the power, the freedom her winds and waves brought.
You never knew until you lifted anchor and left the shore. Anything could be waiting out on the ocean. Anything.
Was a child so different from that? Unknown, still largely unformed in character and knowledge, a child was uncharted lands. Círdan frowned, shaking his head. He still was not the guardian Ereinion needed, but he was all the lad had for now.
But there would be some rules about where and when toys would be played with and kept. Even a house needed to be ship-shape.
Nodding, steps far more confident and firm than when he had set out, Círdan strode back to his home. It would be a lifelong endeavour no doubt, this Ereinion.