Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A/N: Written for the Teitho Fan Fiction Contest. This is a little inspired from the story The Giving Tree.
The Noldorin Tree
I watch in bitter grief as they come and go, carrying belongings and transporting to the horses that are patiently waiting for them. There is the sadness that gleams within the depths of their eyes, but underneath that anguish is the eternal hope that they would soon be reunited with their loved ones upon the shores of Aman.
The Elves of Imladris are sailing.
Why should I be left behind?
I am just as a Noldorin Elf as they are. I was the first one here, yet why should I be the last to stay?
I've been here through the ages, watching the foundations of the hidden vale grow so gloriously, offering as a safe haven to all. I've served the lord of the Last Homely House just as well as any other Elf who resides in this sacred valley. I've watched the Peredhel family flourish into the beauties they were ultimately promised from their comely sires, their countenances consisting blood of both Edhel and Edain. To Elrond's family, I was much more.
Protector I consider myself to be. A shelter I would always offer should someone need it. Countless times I was the shield that covered the little twins whenever they were on their escapades. It was always one of their pranks—the comedic relief of this valley. I always though they were humorous, but most others, particularly the subjects of these so-called pranks, found them nuisances. I would always protect them whenever a disheveled Erestor would threaten their lives, or a stern Lord Elrond would search to lecture them. My branches would be sturdy to hold them tight so I would never let them fall from my grasp as my leaves camouflaged them into my earthy nature.
Don't worry, pin nith, I would always reassure, looking down at their usual scheming faces, taken aback to see fear in their eyes at what punishment they had to endure. Hopefully you'll get off easy, but nevertheless, I will protect you.
I was also a listener. I would listen to Lady Celebrían's gentle voice as she read aloud from one of her favorite tales, or the amusing chattering from Elladan and Elrohir, or the melodious singing of the tiny and dainty, little Evenstar. The least I can do is seclude them under my shade, so that not one light of burning sun would taint their lovely, pale faces.
When Lady Celebrían sailed to the West, it was a trying time for all of us.
I bore the brunt of attacks when either Elladan or Elrohir would strike me with a blade in attempts to douse their anger. I watched the bloodlust slip into their eyes as they continued to hit, not at all merciful when some of my aged bark would fall off at the effect of their frustrations. When Arwen came to me in the desperate times, I shed tears with her, my leaves slipping away from their hold. Seldom times Lord Elrond would lean against me, sitting silently and gazing at empty space. I would rather endure the twins' enmities than this, because for the first time, I do not know how to comfort my lord.
And just like that, I had been forgotten.
But before the silver lady had left, she had come to me, rubbing her shaking hand against my cracked bark. She had looked at me with unshed tears and she had whispered: "Take care of them for me."
Ai, my lady, I have failed you.
I watched the twins' rage consume them as they ride out to seek vengeance for their naneth. I watched as Arwen mentally deteriorated whenever something reminded of her mother, and was forced to seek solace in the mallorn trees of her grandparents' home. Not even Lord Elrond would come to me in the midst of my own solitary grief, for he would delve deeply into his works and escape the reality of this harsh world we live in.
For centuries I have been untouched, beginning to fade away like myths and legends. I miss having the presence of someone climbing upon my branches, or someone leaning against me to relish in the dark shade I offered.
And then I met him.
As a babe, he had abstractly reunited the broken Peredhel family upon his coming. He had brought the twins back, he had brought Arwen back, and he had even given Lord Elrond another reason to live. For that, I loved this child.
Gone was my loneliness for I had a new friend to play with. The little boy came every day, Estel he was called, and he would play hide-and-seek with me or swing upon my branches. When he was bored, I would willingly drop my leaves down and teach him how to make leafy crowns, so he could be the king of the forest. Little did he know that he was going to be a much greater king later on…
He grew older, therefore making his daily presence starting to disappear. But he never forgot me. In his free time, he would sit under my shade like his brothers and sister have done before, and he would either peruse through a book or eat into the apple as he lost himself into his pensive thoughts.
Why so serious, Estel? I would ask him. Are you uncertain of your future?
He would tilt his head at me, as though he had heard me. But then he would smile to himself, and shake his head, probably thinking: A tree speaking to me? What am I thinking?
The next time my Estel visits, he is Estel no longer. His true heritage is revealed to him and he is now Aragorn, son of Arathorn. He is rugged and weary, and he looks so worn out as a Ranger. Of course, I would offer him any comfort as I have always done.
"I joined the Fellowship," he had said to me quietly. He speaks to me, stroking the branches because he is too tall to climb upon them. "I must be crazy, aren't I?"
No. I shake myself. A leaf falls. You are doing the right thing.
He laughs ruefully, as though he can understand me.
Aragorn, son of Arathorn, you will succeed.
The Fellowship takes him, and once again, I succumb to my loneliness. It is a year later when news finally reaches my ears, whooping happily when I realize the war is over. The Hobbit, Frodo, has done it! Yet even while in jovial festivities, no one comes to celebrate with me. Nothing has changed.
The Peredhel family is breaking once more. My family is breaking again. Although the twins have chosen the fate of the immortals, they wish to stay back and travel the distant lands of the new and free Middle-earth. Arwen has chosen the doomed Gift of Men so that she could be with Aragorn, now King Elessar. Lord Elrond is sailing, and he is bringing most of the Noldorin Elves with him. He is not bringing me.
Soon, Imladris will pass into history.
But I shall remain.
Over time, my oaken bark begins to wither and it becomes brittle upon the brink of death. It is not the same sturdy bark that I was born with. I fade like an Elf would, when overcome with grief. All my leaves have fallen and died away against my feet, and there is but one leaf left sitting upon my withy branch. I am the only one left in this hidden vale—a place that had been my home for four long ages.
I am the last Noldorin.
But then a sight greets my eyes, and one I fully welcome. Alas, it is King Elessar that slowly strides over to me. I am heartbroken to see that his hair is white and sparse, and he relies on a cane that is reminiscent of the sword he used in the olden days. He is dying just as I am. Even with old age, he is as tall and as virile as ever. But my happiness at his unexpected arrival surpasses my sadness. The lines around his eyes crinkle when he sees me, happy that me—his old friend— is still here.
In a most languid manner, he sits and leans against my blackened bark. He looks up, his grey eyes befitting melancholy at the sight of me because I have no leaves left save one. I am the image of one who has lived long enough, and is ready to pass on. My duty here is done and I am ready for Mandos to take me.
King Elessar sighs. "Ah, meldiren. A beautiful life it has been, has it not?"
I respond back: Aye, a wondrous life it has been.
I realize that his breathing has become slower and shallower, but I cannot do anything. Even I do not have the power to stop death when it calls. He swallows thickly as he closes his eyes, but before he does so, I look down upon those grey orbs one more time before that chance is gone. His eyes, so vibrant and aged with memories, it seems as though he was the only one that considered me as another being. Another companion. Another Elf.
The moment his lifeless hand falls limply from his cane, I too, welcome the darkness that is trying to control me. We die together, just as it should be. And soon, Arwen will join us and we will dance among the circles of this world.
The Peredhel family, including Aragorn, will always be in my heart. I may have not made an impact on them, but they certainly have made an impact on me. They will always be with me wherever I shall go.
As my spirit leaves, my last leaf falls.
Edhel - Elf
Edain - Man
pin nith - young ones
naneth - mother
Estel - Hope
meldiren - my friend