Author: Calenlass Greenleaf
Disclaimer: I don't own anything pertaining to LOTR. I only own copies of the books and DVDs.
Spoilers: LOTR in general
Warnings: None. Minor angst, but that's about it.
Summary: What do little glowing insects and a six-year-old boy have in common? Inspired by OAA Prompt #162—Innocent, but went over the 500word limit. Written for Cairistiona. Elladan's POV.
A/N: Thoughts are in italics.
For Cairistiona, because I promised to write a fic for her birthday (Which was months ago) but was detained by RL and writer's block. I finally pulled myself out of the hole after writing for the May 2009 Teitho. Frankly, I'm frustrated with myself for my slow updates, but it's better than no activity, right?
Anyway, I hope every reader who clicks on this story enjoys this.
It is a pity that there is only one child in Rivendell.
Elladan sat with his back to a tree, playing tune on his flute. He watched as Estel ran about, a net in one hand. Small, glowing insects evaded him as he swung the net about, trying to catch them.
I remember those days when Elrohir and I played freely, with no worries or concerns…
He suddenly leaned forward, ducking an apple tossed at his head. He easily caught it and looked up at the tree, somewhat amused.
"What is it, Elrohir?"
The peredhel peered out of the tree, another apple in hand. "I thought you would be hungry after an hour or so."
"Hannad." After rubbing the apple on his sleeve, he took a bite of it, savouring the taste.
"…how is the view up there, muindor?"
"Pleasant. It would be more pleasant from the rooftop, though."
"We have to wait until Estel is little older, lest he wishes to follow our example and coming climbing after us and give Adar a heart attack."
They shared a laugh at this before their attention was directed to the giggling boy traipsing after the flickering lights in the gardens. The summer nights were warm, and Elrond had allowed Estel to stay up past his usual bedtime. He even allowed him to go outside, given that there were at least two adults with him.
"He is not having much luck at catching them, as he?" Elrohir leapt out of the tree, landing next to his brother, watching as Estel abandoned his net in favour of his hands, crouching underneath a bush.
"The fireflies?" His twin shrugged. "Oh, he will get one sooner or later."
"He had been at it for already an—"
"Dan! Ro! I caught one!" Estel came running towards them, his face dirty but bright with a smile.
Elladan shot his brother an "I-told-you-so" look before he sat up. "Did you," he crossed his arms, resting them on his knees. "Let me see."
Estel opened his fist to show off his prize, but as he looked down at his hands, he frowned.
"What is the matter?"
"It's—it's not moving." He poked at with a finger. "But it was moving when I caught it."
"Maybe you accidentally crushed it?"
He shook his head. "I was really careful!"
"Was it lit up when you caught it, Estel?" Elladan peered at it.
He thought for a moment. "No; it was on a leaf. I was trying to get another one, then I saw this one just sitting there. But it was moving!"
Elladan understood. "Fireflies have very short lives," he explained. "They usually live for only two or three weeks. Tonight must have been its last one."
"Two or three weeks?" Estel's eyes widened. "Not even a month?"
Elrohir answered him. "That was the way they were made by Eru."
"Oh." Estel looked down at the firefly in his hand. "But maybe I really did accident'ly hold it too tightly."
"You did not," his oldest brother assured him, "because it was not glowing when you found it." He patted the boy on the back. "How about you put it down now?"
Estel nodded and stooped down, laying the dead insect on a leaf. "Do-do fireflies go to the Halls of Mandos?"
The twins half-grimaced at this question. "There are fireflies in Valinor," Elrohir finally replied. "Many of them—more than those here."
It was a rather poor answer, but Estel accepted this, sighing a little. "Can we go back in?"
"You do not want to play anymore?"
"…yes, but…" He looked at firefly.
"Estel," Elladan broke in. "Would you like to see something?"
He smiled. "How about Elrohir and I show you a lot of fireflies?"
Estel looked up at him. "Really?"
"Yes, but you have to be very, very still." Elrohir knelt down next to him. "Can you do that, tithen-pen?"
The child eagerly nodded.
"Watch." Concentrating on a firefly that was flitting about the tree they were sitting under, Elladan whispered a few words in Quenya, and Elrohir did the same. The firefly flew about them for a while. Estel watched, mouth slightly open as he sat still, trying not to move. The firefly was joined by another, then another, until the area under the tree was bright with numerous little glowing insects, as if one were holding a lantern.
Elrohir held out a hand, and a firefly landed on his finger. He brought it towards Estel.
"Open your hands," he said softly, smiling at the grin on his brother's face.
Estel did as he was hold, cupping them together. Elrohir then used more Quenya to coax the insect into the boy's hands, where it began roaming about, its light flickering.
"It…tickles!" he whispered, eyes on his hands.
Elladan smiled as Estel giggled a little. "Are you glad you stayed out a little longer?"
"Yes," he breathed.
Elrohir gently blew a firefly off his shoulder. "The last time we did this…"
"…was a very long time ago." Elladan finished, his smile growing a little nostalgic. They had done it for Arwen, who had insisted she had no fear of insects. True to her word, she had not run when the fireflies were called; she had sat as Estel was sitting now, eyes glowing.
So long ago…He watched one of the glowing insects fly off. It has been so long ago since we have last done this for a child…
"Um, Ro?" Estel's voice broke into their thoughts.
"How do I make it fly?"
"You blow on it—gently, and it will leave your hands." Elrohir demonstrated.
Estel did so, and watched the little insect fly away. "Nav'er," he called out before yawning.
"Are you ready to go inside?" Elladan smoothed the child's hair down, brushing away a firefly that had landed there. He received a nod in reply. The peredhel swung him up with one arm. Elrohir followed him, saying a few words and letting the fireflies scatter.
"How did you do that?"
"All creatures of Eru understand Quenya in one way or the other," Elladan replied.
"Would they listen if I said those words?"
"I am sure they would," Elrohir said, "Once you learn Quenya."
"But…it's so hard…" Estel blinked his eyes.
His brother chuckled a little. "In time, you will learn."
"Mm…" he pressed his head into Elladan's shoulder.
Elladan nudged him. "Don't fall asleep yet—you need to wash your face and hands."
A soft sigh. "Do I?"
The child looked rebellious at this, but he raised his head, rubbing his eyes with his sleeve as Elladan carried him up the stairs.
"I'll go first," Elrohir said, moving a little faster up the steps.
His brother nodded at this, his eyes on Estel.
I wish you could stay like this. He smiled faintly. Or, stay like this a little while longer—
A child. Innocent…with no burdens of this world. Carefree.
He reached Estel's room and set him down on his bed. He sat down next to him as Elrohir brought a washcloth and cleaned Estel's face and hands.
But that is not possible, is it? Innocence is fleeting…like a firefly. It is there for a little while, brightening a life for moment, and before you realize it, it is gone.
He sighed a little as he handed Estel his nightclothes, helping him with some of the buttons.
One day, he will grow up. One day, he will he be a warrior…
Elladan smiled when Estel tussled with Elrohir over a pillow, trying to grab it out of the elf's hands.
One day, he will be told of his heritage. One day, he will lead his people…
Elrohir settled the boy down, pulling the covers over him. "Rest well, Estel."
And perhaps, one day, he will be the one to bring back the glory that was lost so long ago. Perhaps one day he will sit on the throne.
"'Gnight," came the sleepy reply.
Elladan pressed a kiss to the boy's forehead as his twin blew out the candle. Elrohir left the room, but Elladan lingered a little while longer, gazing down at his youngest brother.
But for now, just be Estel Elrondion and our brother. A child, innocent of conflicts upon this earth.
He closed the door behind him, heading for his own room.
Enjoy your childhood while you can, Estel.
And outside, a firefly flew about, glowing brightly.
Hannad – thanks
Muindor – brother
Adar – father
Tithen-pen – little one
Nav'er (Navaer) – farewell
I have no idea if animals understand Quenya. But considering wood-elves have an affinity with trees, I'm assuming that all elves have some affinity with animals (And in TTT EE, there was Aragorn and Brego—I borrowed from that).
In Japanese culture, fireflies are sometimes used to symbolize the fragility of life, due to their short lifespans. I've tweaked the meaning of that symbol so that fireflies stand for the ephemeral quality of innocence and youth.
A/N: I'm finally writing again. :) I'm still working on the last chapter of Apostate's Ruse, and after I'm finished with that I'll pick up Edraith Gwador. In between that, don't expect too many updates—I'm juggling three fandoms at the moment, because it's more refreshing for my muses that way.