Arc: Legends, Lore, and Lullabies
Pairings: Elrond/Celebrian,Glorfindel/OFC implied, Erestor/OFC implied.
Location: Imladris, Third Age.
Characters: Elrond, Celebrian, Erestor, Elladan, Elrohir, Arwen, Glorfindel, various elf and human original characters.
Under the Hunter’s Moon
Imladris, Autumn, Third Age
The smell of harvest time was in the air, the colors of orange and red in the sky and on the ground. Glorfindel took a deep breath of air as he walked through the fields, watching as the hay was gathered and earth tilled; the ending of the season coming closer with each morning’s frost. His path led him to the orchards, where singing could be heard as a familiar group of dark heads, a few red and blondes gathered in the bunch, ran around the apple trees. The movements of a game of tag could be seen, circles run around trees and laughter in the air. Even the Lord of the House was a member of the game.
“I thought you were harvesting,” Glorfindel yelled as he hopped over the stone wall of the apple orchard.
“One should always harvest in laughter,” Elrond called, running from his eldest son’s grabbing hands.
“Apple picking is now harvesting?” Glorfindel asked as he sat down beside Celebrian.
“He is an elf of lore, what do you expect him to think of harvesting?” Celebrian asked. Her hands were sewing together corn husks. Arwen sat beside her doing the same.
“Dolls for the village children?” Glorfindel asked, eyes tracking the large pile of finished dolls.
“They expect them,” Arwen replied before her mother could. “And we are happy to make them.”
“It is our long-standing tradition,” Celebrian agreed. “I may paint some this year and send them to my mother. She always find things like corn husks so fascinating.”
Glorfindel toyed with the piles of dried husks between the two she-elves. “It is not a crop they harvest. They do not have the soil to handle such heavy farming like we do.”
“They do not have to supply a refuge for so many people either,” Celebrian said.
Glorfindel nodded. “I remembering picking the stalks in my youth, both of them,” Glorfindel said as he caught Arwen’s look, “and remembered how sad I was that such tasks were forbidden to me in Gondolin.”
“They needed you as a warrior, not a farmhand,” Celebrian soothed.
“I still believe warriors can learn much from working the land. It keeps you in shape and makes you learn respect for the earth beyond whatever spiritual ideas we learn in youth.”
“I only wonder how it was able to grow in such a climate,” Arwen stated, putting aside a finished doll to start on a new one.
“Magic of the elves, they say,” Glorfindel answered.
“Glorfindel, catch!” Elladan yelled.
Blindly reaching up, Glorfindel caught the red apple lobbed at his head. “Elladan, how many times must I tell you, you need more force behind your throws. If that was aimed at an enemy, it would have bounced off of his skull rather than knock him out.”
“The thanks I get for trying to supply him with food,” Elladan grumbled. Morwen and Eluialeth nodded in understanding at his plight while Elrond and Elrohir approached with a bushel full of leaves.
Glorfindel smiled and took a bite of his apple as Elladan’s indignant yells filled the orchard. This was his most favorite time of year, when life seemed to blossom as harvest came to an end and winter began its slow crawl to dominance.
The councilor was missing, according to the scribes. She was not in her office working through correspondence, nor was she in the library studying the dwarf wars. There was no sign of her in the stables or the garden. She was not in the company of Elladan, nor hiding in the offices of Elrond and Erestor. Elrohir claimed to know nothing of her whereabouts. Rian had not seen her all day and Eluialeth was quick to remind anyone asking that the councilor’s business was her own. Glorfindel, of course, knew where the councilor was and found no need to share his information.
“Thandrog, why do you need Morwen’s input on this decision?” Glorfindel asked, putting down his inventory.
Thandrog’s words were as worried as his disposition. “Chief Councilor Erestor insists I remove the kittens from the barn before nightfall and Morwen is the one who knows all the best hiding spots for them. You know how Lord Elrond is Captain, if he sees the kittens in the house he will insist they stay inside where it is warm.”
“Which is why she always manages to hide them in the family’s study using the passage from the kitchens to that room,” Glorfindel answered. “See, no Morwen needed.”
“Captain, do you think it wise for her to be in an unknown location?” Thandrog asked.
“Your concern is noted, Thandrog, and appreciated, but I assure you I know where Morwen hides,” Glorfindel answered.
Thandrog’s eyes tracked around the room. “She is not here, is she?”
Glorfindel laughed. “No, no, she is not here.”
“Of course not, Captain,” Thandrog said and with a nod left the room.
Glorfindel laughed again before standing up. It was time to bring Morwen back to the house before Thandrog raised enough concern for the stirrings of a search party.
Glorfindel walked out of his office, giving nods to all the soldiers scattered throughout the barracks and turning a blind eye to the kitchen and chamber maids who appeared in the hallways. Through the twisting pathways, past the training fields, the stables, the public gardens and greenhouses, the orchards and the fields, Glorfindel took the path down to the river.
Morwen sat at the bottom, dragging leaves through a puddle on the stone path, eyes vacant and book abandoned at her side. The river’s loud voice brought news of the lands, the ever vacant tree branches bending to hears its words.
“You keep throwing books to the grass and Elrond will forbid you from taking them,” Glorfindel said.
Morwen smiled. “I copied the text onto the pages of this book, I think if anyone is to abuse the finished product it is me.” Morwen held the book out to him. “Besides, it was one of my first attempts and therefore is not meant for scholarly pursuit.”
Glorfindel scanned the pages within, noting the penmanship varying from the practiced and perfect lines of a newly skilled hand to the sloppy lines of a weary novice. He could feel the smile on his face as he said, “I suppose it is good for warriors that their first attempts are not rendered on the page for all to see.”
“I think it is better this way; it shows improvement over the years.” Morwen took the book back from him, her hands brushing his own.
It always intrigued him how her hands were not as soft as they should be, for an elf maiden of good standing. Calluses were worn on her hands from centuries of scribe work, the line of the quills embedded into her fingers and palms. They were not the calluses of sword-handles or knives, nor the markings of one who worked the land or wielded the needle for hours on end. Even the musicians had markings on their hands from their work, lines of string forever branded on their finger tips.
“You are doing it again,” Morwen said as she stood, leaves falling from her skirt.
“And what is that?” Glorfindel asked.
“Losing yourself in thought, you always do it during the festival times,” Morwen insisted.
Glorfindel smiled. “I am in a unique position of knowing the when the where and the how of the traditions for these times. I enjoy seeing how they change as the people change.”
“Do our traditions in Imladris have a unique twist?” Morwen asked.
“Oh yes; the apples for one, the large bonfires another. In Gondolin there was one, in the center city, not many scattered throughout the city and township. There was not so much music or dancing, nor were there such games as there are here. There were no thoughts turned toward the spirits walking amongst us,” Glorfindel said, fingers brushing through the fallen leaves and grass.
“You did not have Ages of dead to remember then, nor were you living on land where they once stood,” Morwen observed.
“And so many of us came from the Blessed Realm, a special few even learning from the Valar themselves. There was no need for this idea of separate realms, veils crashing down with the changing of the moon,” Glorfindel said.
Morwen smirked, scholarly knowledge in her eyes. “Your people revered Spring, the coming of life. We revere Autumn, a natural thing, where life begins to rest to survive what is to come, to emerge new and whole on the other side.”
“There were certainly no elflings running door to door, neighbor to neighbor, asking for provisions for the winter and food, drink, and trinkets to appease the souls. There were no young girls wearing crowns of autumn leaves and dried grain waiting for the boys wearing pendants woven out of straw to ask for their hands and praying for a good meeting under a Hunter’s Moon,” Glorfindel said.
“I always did wonder where that tradition came from,” Morwen said, holding a hand out to help him up.
“Rumors has it Cirdan spread the tale in order to get Gil-galad married off to someone. Gil-galad always mysteriously disappeared whenever that time of the ceremonies came up.” Glorfindel laughed as he stood, wrapping an arm around Morwen’s waist. “Lindir almost found himself married off to a farmer’s daughter that way. It was only Erestor’s quick thinking and Faeleth’s ability to act the wounded lover that saved Lindir from such a harsh fate.”
“What was so wrong with her?” Morwen asked while they started the walk back to the house.
“You have heard our dear Melui sing?” Glorfindel asked.
Morwen grimaced. “Oh, she has such a sweet speaking voice but her singing is not…” Morwen trailed off.
“Yes,” Glorfindel said. “This young maid was even worse and I do not think a minstrel could be with one who did not understand the music in their body and soul. She was also dreadful with the harp, even worse than you,” Glorfindel murmured into Morwen’s hair.
Morwen tapped a finger to Glorfindel’s nose. “Ah, but I do have some skill with the flute and the drum.”
“There is that at least,” Glorfindel agreed as their home came into sight. He could already smell the burning logs in the air as they prepared for the night.
The orange-gold of the fire shone against the black night. Winds whipped through the trees, stirring the leaves on the ground, making them dance in the firelight much as the elves and mortals did. Feet pounded into the ground and on wooden planks as musicians tapped out the beats to their songs and dancers followed their musical leads. Rosin dust flew from the bows as they were dragged over strings, hands thumped against drums and fingers worked fast over strings, flutes, and pan pipes while the old men and women on the side tapped their hands against their legs.
Glorfindel sat beside Balanauth, watching the group dancing around the fire. Elrond laughed as he led his daughter in a dance, while Elrohir and Elladan danced literal rings around their mother, each trying to one-up the other. Rian turned a jig with one of the scribes. Thandrog led Morwen in a dance, while Erestor and Faeleth twirled around to the fast beat. Eluialeth and Galueth danced together close to their parents, shouting encouragements and good-natured insults. A sudden change of beat, and the dance partners changed. Eluialeth in Elladan’s arms, Arwen in Erestor’s, Elrond and Celebrian together again. Morwen pulled a quiet mortal boy from the village into the dance, while Thandrog brought in the shy female the young boy had been eyeing all night. Even here, elves could not help but be match-makers. Elrohir dragged a group of children, up past their bedtime but too excited to sleep, to the dance.
Their guests from Mirkwood lingered around the fire, Tirnion absent from this bunch. The Mirkwood elves did not seem put off by the traditions of Imladris, as they shouldn’t. Glorfindel knew some things were recognizable to them. Glorfindel turned to speak with Balanauth when he noticed his Second’s eyes fastened to the image of one particular elf from Mirkwood. Glorfindel followed the gaze, memorizing her features and making a mental note to ask Morwen who she was; it was always good to keep these things in mind to support, or tease, one’s dear second-in-command.
There were, of course, those elves of Imladris who refused to participate in any celebration involving the mortals. They still attended for fear of Elrond’s wrath at the insult of their absence, but they knew well to stick to the shadows where their sneers could not be seen. Glorfindel was pulled from his musings as he felt a tug on his cloak. Glorfindel smiled down into the open face of the small mortal child with a crown of leaves and ribbons on her head.
Glorfindel leaned down, his sitting height still much larger than her standing one. “Yes, little one?”
She smiled, dark eyes shining in the fire light, opening her small burlap pouch. “Gift for the spirits?” she asked.
Glorfindel nodded, reaching behind him to pull out some of his wooden carvings and a small sack of candy. He knew his reputation among the mortal children for being only second to Elrond for giving the best treats. “Here you go,” Glorfindel said, depositing the gifts in her bag with a pat to her head. He whispered for her ears only, “If you go see the Lady Celebrian, she may have a lovely new pouch to gift you with.”
The girl’s eyes were wide as she leaned back, hopeful for something nicer than the burlap she most likely scrounged up from what her family could spare. Glorfindel nodded again and sent her off in Celebrian’s direction, knowing the Lady of Imladris kept the most special gifts for the lowliest of the villagers. They were prideful people, unwilling to accept charity, but willing to take gifts at the appropriate times of the year. It was by the silent agreement of all that these families received a larger portion of the crop and some gifts of money on these days, stating it was the gifts of the family’s dead for their reverence.
Glorfindel stood up and walked towards the fire, smiling as he saw the shy mortal boy dancing with his object of affection while Thandrog and Morwen smiled at them, kittens running around their feet as the dogs rolled around in the dirt.
“Glorfindel!” Morwen called over the music. “Come join us.”
“Yes, Glorfindel,” Elladan said as he grabbed Morwen by the arm and dragged her back into the dance, “stop lurking by the fireside and join us.”
Glorfindel shook his head in amusement, dropping his cloak off into the open hands of Faeleth who was resting for this round.
Celebrian held out her hand. “If you would, Glorfindel.”
“I would be honored, Celebrian, allowing that your husband will not be in a mood for weeks this time,” Glorfindel said, ignoring Elrond’s dark look.
“I will be sure to refrain from remarking how more skilled of a dancer you are in my husband’s presence again.” Celebrian laughed as Elrond let out a sound similar to a growl. “Oh dear me, it seems I forgot he was so near.”
Arwen slapped her father’s arm, her admonishment drowned out by the rising sound of the music. The climax of the night was soon to come, the pace of the music speeding up, the reels turning faster and faster. Balanauth and Thandrog were moving closer to the fire as the dancers stepped farther back, hands carefully holding small jars of black powder. Only a pinch each would be used for the brief ignition marking the height of the night and the winding down of the festivities. Glorfindel backed Celebrian father away, knowing this part always startled her.
The music worked to crescendo as the crowd silenced and the fires flared with the small black powder explosions. Small though the explosions were compared to the magic of Mithrandir, the children, both mortal and elf, were enthralled by the sight. The minstrels finished their songs, slowing down the pace and soothing the nerves, lulling the gathered crowds to rest. It was time for their mortal friends to retire for the night. As elven lamps went down into the valley, turnip lamps with their carved faces went up into the villages. The elves would celebrate into the morning, though those with morning duties would quiet down before dawn. Glorfindel guided Celebrian to Elrond’s side, keeping his spot as sentry while Elrond received the farewells and blessings from his people.
Glorfindel gave a nod to Balanauth and a group of warriors slipped away to make certain the mortals found their way home without trouble. The end of the harvest festival, more than any other, tended to dissolve into mischief. One year ago some fool, Glorfindel still convinced it was Elladan, had thrown blue dye over a flock of sheep. The amount of bleaching done that season on the sheared wool was unheard of in all elven practice. The dye used was, of course, one of the strongest of Imladris.
Elrond received the last member of the village before turning to Glorfindel and giving the signal to leave. The royal family proceeded back to the house, singing soft prayers for the coming months, while other elves took the back of the procession singing the harvest songs. Glorfindel watched as Erestor, his family, and a small group of older elves walked to the woods to honor even more ancient traditions. They were unique traditions to this land, unfamiliar to Glorfindel, but still he recognized the need to offer such respect to more powerful and ancient beings.
The Last Homely House loomed before him. Glorfindel took one last breath of the sweet air of the autumn night before passing through the doorways and into stone walls.
“Happy Harvest,” Morwen whispered into his ear as she handed him a warm mug of apple cider.
Glorfindel took a sip as he pulled Morwen down beside him. “Always good to know such a product can come from the work of ‘apple-tag’ as Elladan calls it.”
Morwen nodded, curling into Glorfindel’s side. “Elladan does have a unique take on things. Currently he has as many elves as he could find in the old root cellar, telling the most terror-filled stories they can remember.”
“Only the young elves seem attracted to such an act,” Glorfindel murmured.
“It is easy to make up a terrifying demon and a dark-lord when one has never seen a real one,” Morwen answered. “I find the desire to scare oneself through the most unbelievable tales imaginable quite humorous.”
“Most unbelievable?” Glorfindel asked as he put his mug down.
Morwen shrugged and spoke, “Headless horsemen with pumpkin or turnip replacement heads, magic bridges, widows who build their houses with doors to nowhere because spirits led her to it. Maidens in white standing at crossroads begging for rides home only to be disappear with the changing winds.”
“Everyone likes to ponder the unknown,” Glorfindel said, eyes tracing the shadows on the floor.
“I rather think the unknown likes to ponder us; or rather what we ponder of it. I think it is wise to be curious about the unknown, to be cautious of it, not to mock it.”
“Why?” Glorfindel asked, always curious to the workings of the councilor’s mind.
“The disrespect for it; the knowledge that some things come back to teach us in the most harsh ways,” Morwen answered.
Glorfindel patted Morwen’s head. “Far too melancholy a maiden under the Hunter’s Moon.”
Morwen shook her head at Glorfindel’s antics, dislodging his hands. “And what did you used to do under the Hunter’s Moon in Gondolin?”
Glorfindel was quiet for a moment, letting the silence fill the room. He turned to Morwen, placed a brief kiss on her lips, and then turned back to the night sky. He raised his mug to the stars and whispered one simple statement.
First posted online 10/30/2007