The Heirloom - Part 1

My Fanfiction  ~*~*~  My Livejournal  ~*~*~  Main Page ~*~*~  My Links  ~*~*~  Email

'The Heirloom'

 

A.N: This fic did not deserve the amount of whimpering I did while writing it. Many thanks to my wonderful artist, Alex, for capturing the spirit of the tale in her drawings.

Part One
 
 

“I know they’ve been worn, my dear, but they’re in good condition and just the size for your boy. I don’t want them going to waste, and it would be a shame to cut them down for rags or patchwork.”

Meldis looked at the small bundle of clothing, all of which would fit Síladon who was growing like a dandelion; hardly any of last winter’s clothes fitted him now. She suspected he was teased about this in his study group, though he would never tell her, of course. Children could be so cruel to one another. He was still very young, but he understood there was no money for new clothes, not since war had come to Eriador and the beaded belts and wristbands she made could no longer be traded to Mirkwood over the mountains. 

There was enough food. No one went hungry in Imladris, and Thavron worked for the garrison, repairing weapons and sharpening swords, so they received the same allowance as the warriors’ families. Even so, there was nothing to spare for extras.

She had no idea what had possessed Thavron to go with the war band when they rode out to join Lord Círdan, but he said there had to be someone along to see to repairs, and he was still young and strong enough to wield a sword if needed. His father had studied smithcraft under Celebrimbor himself, but while they shared a love for metal, Thavron lacked the skill to create artefacts such as those of fabled Ost-in-Edhil. Sometimes it was as though he felt the need to make up for some lack in himself, though Meldis had always been proud of her gentle, softly-spoken husband…

She came back to herself abruptly with a murmured apology. She had almost forgotten Amdirien was still waiting patiently. The clothes were a most welcome gift, but Meldis had been raised not to accept charity. Still, if she turned down the offer, she would hurt her neighbour’s feelings. A conversation she had heard in the village square just a few days back came to her, Lord Glorfindel telling a group of young elves how barter had been much the order of the day back in Gondolin. Meldis liked Lord Glorfindel, he was quietly friendly and interested in their troubles, no matter how small. Tall and strong, hair like polished gold…

Gold. The answer came to her in a flash. Her face lit up. “I can’t take your son’s clothes and give nothing in return, Amdirien, but if you will, I can offer something pretty in thanks? And I am truly grateful, Síladon really needs new clothes.”

She hurried back into their tiny wattle and daub house as she spoke. In the corner of the bedroom, in the basket that held her clothing, was a little box, and in it were the few pretties their families had collected over time and that had not crossed the sea with his mother and her sister. It held her pearls, a string of amber beads from the north, a pretty topaz broach, chains of gold and silver, and a collection of earrings and rings, one of which lay in the bottom of the box, wrapped in a fragment of ancient green silk. Frowning a little, she picked up the silk and shook it out, and the ring fell neatly into her hand.

She had forgotten about it. Thavron had never really explained about the ring, just that his father had made it in Ost-in-Edhil, that it was a family heirloom, and he would rather she not touch it as it was – delicate. She had never thought it looked delicate, but something in the way he avoided handling it made her hold back questions. It had been kept in a little box, which lay off to the side, its lid open. The clasp must have worked loose and the ring fallen out when she began moving things around.

The band was gold, while the gem was blue streaked with greens and yellows, an opal she had assumed, though now she was suddenly uncertain. The lines seemed to be moving, which was surely a trick of the light, and the colours looked stronger than before. She was reminded of the uneasy way Thavron had looked at it before putting it away that first time he showed it to her.

The ring seemed to pulse, startling her badly and bringing her back very much to the here and now. She looked down at it sharply, and it lay in her hand, solid and a little heavier than the design would suggest. It seemed to be – waiting for something.

Meldis was not a fanciful woman, but there was something not right about this artefact; it had made her uncomfortable from the start. For a moment she was sorely tempted, but it belonged to Thavron’s family and had value for him. Perhaps if their need were greater… There was a silver ring set with a smooth, black onyx which Thavron seldom wore. Putting the gold ring back rather more hurriedly than was necessary, she selected that one instead.

Leaving the box open, she went back to where Amdirien was waiting at the door, her demeanour less patient now. After all, her expression said, if Meldis had no need for her children’s outgrown clothing, there were others who did. “I’m sorry I’ve kept you, Amdirien,” Meldis said hastily. “I had to find it. Here --- how about this? It belonged to my father. Would you like this?”

Amdirien took the ring, turned it around between her fingers, then smiled. “It’s a man’s design. Perhaps I can give it to my brother for his begetting day – I’ll have to see if it’ll fit. Thank you, Meldis. This will serve very well indeed.”
 

~*~*~*~*~


“Elrohir, will there still be a harvest festival this year, or did you cancel it and forget to tell me? I’ve had no details about the planning yet.” Erestor’s tone was mild, casual even, but the slight arch of his left eyebrow was a warning sign Elrond’s children had learned young to take very seriously.

Elrohir looked uncomfortable. He had impulsively offered to oversee the arrangements for the festival in between his work as a healer’s assistant and his ongoing studies in the care of animals, and must have been quite pleased with how much leeway his father’s seneschal had been allowing him.

Arwen was struggling with a piece of embroidery and spoke with her eyes on her work, her mouth twisted slightly in effort. “I thought we were waiting till the warriors came home to have it? I mean, it doesn’t matter if we’re a few days past the full moon, surely? Just this once?”

Elrohir looked worried. Arwen usually had a better idea of what was happening than he did. “I’ve already organised the fireworks, and…”

“These would be very tame fireworks that can’t be seen from beyond the valley, of course,” Elrond said, looking up with a frown. He had been reading, turned half away from them with the book tilted to catch the best light and had seemed to be ignoring the conversation.

“We need to go ahead, Wen,” Erestor explained as Arwen’s surprised look moved from her father to him. “If we don’t, someone will decide we’re hiding something, and that kind of attitude spreads too easily. Waiting for the men to return might look like an excuse.”

“It’s good for the community’s morale,” Glorfindel agreed. He had come over to them quietly, wine glass in hand, and was leaning against the mantle near where Erestor sat. They shared a quick smile, a greeting without words, before he turned to Arwen. ”You’re not enjoying that embroidery, are you?”

“I hate embroidery,” she told him very sincerely. “Mother says it’s important for me to learn all the ‘womanly arts’, but the needle always wants to go its own way. Riding a horse is much easier. Grandmother says the same.”

Erestor had once mentioned Galadriel’s example to Elrond, to which Elrond had replied that he was sure Celebrían was well aware of her mother’s views on the subject, and Erestor was free to go ahead and speak up on Arwen’s behalf. Erestor had been wise enough to keep quiet. He now caught Glorfindel’s eye and frowned a warning.

Hint taken, blue eyes twinkled before Glorfindel sobered and continued, “If there was no festival it would suggest we were in immediate danger, then whispers would start and fear would spread. And fear is a greater enemy than any orc or fighting warg.”

“Fighting wargs are easy to see off,” Elrohir said at once. “Caelian says you just get your spear in the side of the neck below the ear and they go right over.”

Glorfindel raised his eyebrows, amused. “Takes good timing and just the right angle, I’ve heard,” he suggested. “But yes, there are worse things than a half-breed wolf. What do you have planned for the festival then, besides fireworks?”

Elrohir visibly relaxed as he realised he wasn’t about to discuss the finer points of warg disposal with someone who had killed a Balrog. “Well, the usual things. A bonfire, food, singing, blessing the harvest – Father does that better than anyone,” he added, shooting a hopeful look towards his father who had retreated back into his book. “Then I thought fireworks before the music starts, and after that, dancing? Though if the fireworks aren’t a good idea, we can leave those off?”

“Smaller might be better,” Erestor said. “Your father’s right, we don’t want to act like frightened mice, but equally we don’t want to signal our whereabouts to anyone who happens to be up in the mountains. At least keep it tame.”

“Do you think they’re looking for us?” Arwen asked softly, her needlework forgotten in her lap. Her grey eyes were wide and troubled. 

“Of course they are,” Elrohir said, with the boyish eagerness of someone whose primary occupation was not military. “There’s fighting right across Eriador, the Men from Arthedain have been pushed right back to Fornost Erain. Angmar knows there are elves somewhere around here, they’ll have seen us fighting alongside Araphor’s men. Of course they’re looking for us. Dan says we should mobilise a force and go take them from behind while we still can.”

“And give away our position as surely as Turin did Nargothrond’s?” Elrond asked dryly, his eyes on his book. “This is a haven, Elrohir. People live here in the belief that they will be safe. Right now we need to stay quiet and let the war eddy around without touching us.”

“And while we’re doing that, we should keep to as much of a routine as possible,” Erestor finished off. “Life needs to go on as usual, or as close to it as we can manage.”

Glorfindel said nothing. He had come to perch on the arm of Erestor’s chair and was sipping his wine, his eyes on the fire. Elrond had refused to allow him to ride with the warriors they had sent to join Círdan’s men, sensing he would be needed at home rather than in the field. This had left Glorfindel a warrior without a war, with nothing to do except visit the various watch posts above the valley and encourage the men stationed there.

He made no complaint but Erestor suspected it was driving him slowly crazy, and that their current situation was bringing back all kinds of memories; this was not the first time he had lived in a hidden valley sought by a determined enemy. He moved closer and rested his head briefly against Glorfindel’s arm, trying not to be obvious about it. “No need to worry,” he told the two younger elves. “There have been other alarms, this one will also pass. Right now a good feast with some music and dancing is just what Imladris needs.”

 

~*~*~*~*~

Part Two

~*~*~*~*~
 

Beta: Red Lasbelin