Written for the TORc Writer's Challenge:
Length: 500 words
I still own nothing; it's all Tolkien's. This takes place in the last year before the War of Wrath.
O, hark, O, hear!
How thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O, sweet and far from hill and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Even then he was not young.
Kementari's children had walked the earth for a long time, singing the songs that sounded through the land, speaking to their brethren. The years went on, and now it was Spring again.
The willow-meads were green, the drooping branches young, leaves delicate and soft. The Ent reached out one long woody hand and brushed them with the very tips of his fingers. The tree murmured in response.
Soft winds and deep water, brother. The earth here is good.
The Ent looked up to the sky. The Sun was rising still, clouds slowly giving way before her. The air was warm and hazy, and he breathed in as much as his lungs could hold. This was a strong place, a gentle place, and he would be sad to see it go.
Willows bend, he mused. Willows bend and return again, and give the young ones what they may, virtue of their bark and leaf, but still…even they shall not be able to come back from this.
Those woods were not so far from the shore, and the Ent knew what was coming. The Valar might love their world, but they did not always account for what might happen to it through their mighty protection. He had left but a few more seasons, and then eastward it would be. The wide days were nearly gone.
He left the tree, and walked slowly on, whispering to the others and listened to their soft replies. There is a child here, brother, a child of the First-Born who has been lost.
And the Ent kept on, attentive to their voices as they led him. These were kindly trees, who would look after one almost their own.
By the bank of the river Narog sat an Elf, gazing out over the water. To the Ent he seemed more out of place than was wont for his kind; his garb was dark and his face sober.
"Good morrow, cousin," rumbled the Ent. "My brothers say you are a child lost."
The Elf looked up, then stood and gracefully bowed. "I am not so young, cousin, nor so bewildered as your kindred thinks."
"Nevertheless," returned the Ent, gravely, "these willows are not easily led astray. You may not be lost, child, but you hardly seem found."
The Elf smiled, a little, and did indeed look younger for a moment. "That may be, but I shall find myself as well sitting here as anywhere else."
"So you are lost." The Ent smiled, a slow, serene, and tree-ish smile. "Is it just yourself you seek?"
"So I believe." The Elf paused, and then suddenly continued. "It is Spring, but ice fills my thoughts."
"I do not know much of ice," said the Ent. "We leave each other be."
The Elf smiled again, rueful. "A laudable arrangement, cousin. But I and mine crossed the greatest ice long ago, and it has stayed with us since."
"Oh, child." The Ent sighed. "Is it not enough that the sun is shining now? When you grow as old as I you will not heed the past so much."
"Indeed?" said the Elf.
"It is Spring," the Ent replied. "And soon enough it will be autumn, a last autumn, and you will be obliged to think of now."
"I hope so," said the Elf. "I hope so, cousin."
"You shall." The Ent smiled, and with a rustle he was back among his own. It was Spring, and there were songs to be sung. The past can only keep.
I adore the songs in Tolkien's works; this ficlet is a reference to Treebeard's poem beginning 'In the willow-meads of Tasarinan I walked in the Spring/Ah, the sight and the smell of the spring in Nan-tathran/And I said that was good' in chapter IV of The Two Towers, page 458 of my edition.