Song For A New Tomorrow

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'Song For Tomorrow II'


Song For A New Tomorrow


"All right, enough." 


Erestor laid aside his quill and glared. Two pairs of grey eyes looked up at him, serious startlement on baby-round faces that were each the other's mirror image. It was early afternoon on a cool spring day, occasional sunlight touching the big windows that looked out over rainbowed mist and an endless vista of green treetops, new leaves spreading fresh and bright down the valley. Elrond's twin sons sat on the floor of Erestor’s office on a priceless rug that was coloured and patterned in the fashion of the South, an assortment of small toys scattered around them. Their mother was gone to visit briefly with her own parents, their father was involved in giving one of his rare lectures to aspirant healers, their nurse had family concerns down the Valley...


The task of caring for them seemed to have fallen upon Erestor without warning; he was unaware of having volunteering for it. In the last hour he had been called upon to mediate in five sibling altercations, fetch three cups of water, wipe one nose and answer innumerable questions. Finally he was prepared to admit defeat.


When he was certain of their attention, he said, "Go to the bookshelf - not the main one, the low one over there - and select a book. Anything with pictures. Perhaps we can read a while?" And perhaps, he thought, you will grow sleepy and your eyes will close and I will be able to settle you on the couch outside in the general office and get on with my work? 


Erestor loved Elrond’s children dearly, although he tried not to let it be too obvious to the casual observer, but their company paled when he had a desk piled with work to be completed before nightfall.


Two faces lit as one. "Will read a story, Restor?" asked the one on the left - Erestor suspected this was Elladan, slightly broader around the belly than his brother. 


"I will read you one story," he agreed, his tone firm. "One only. And then I will continue with my work and you two will either rest or play quietly." Please, rest, he thought.


There was a scramble for the bookcase, a degree of shoving, a great deal of the clumsiness natural to the young and uncoordinated. Not unexpectedly, argument ensued.


"This one. This nice. Pretty."


"Is flowers. Flowers smells funny."


"Nana likes flowers." Offended.


"Dis. Got a dog!"


"Ooh! Dog!"


"No, no, look - big birds... and, and... fightings ..."


Erestor raised an eyebrow and hid a smile. The shelf held his personal reading, a selection of old favourites - and a couple of books suited for children, put aside for emergencies rather like this one. An agreement had apparently been reached as the boys returned to him in complete unity, holding between them a large book with a dusty, blue velvet cover. Erestor smiled to himself - the last few comments now made sense.


"P’ease?" the twin who was probably Elrohir said as they offered it to him, being too small to heave it up onto his desk. As they grew older, Erestor was finding it easier to tell them apart, but some days were less sure than others. Celebrķan tried to dress them and style their hair in such a way as to make them easily distinguishable, but she was away from home and the nurse apparently failed to see the need for imagination.


Erestor took up the book and glanced about. Chairs for visitors, comfortable enough but not cosy, bookshelves, maps, plants - he liked a couple of plants about the place. It was not a room set out for the entertainment of small children. Shrugging to himself and hoping his assistant had no cause to enter the room, he took the book, cleared a space amongst the debris on the carpet and sat, crossing his legs and settling his robe around him. The twins on cue dropped down on either side of him and sat waiting, quietly expectant.


He first wiped dust off the cover where it had adhered to the velvet, then opened the book and began to flip through it. Brightly coloured drawings adorned the pages, the script was large and easy, set out so that a new reader would be able to follow the well-chosen words. Birds, dogs, horses. A mountain. A seaside idyll. Rolling plains under a wide, pale sky. 


“Dat one!!” two voices said together. The twin on the left patted anxiously at his arm. The twin to the right bounced urgently.


‘Dat’ was an involved picture of a cliffside, a straggling line of people traversing a narrow path, many pointing back over their shoulders. Flames leapt from buildings far below, an impressively drawn creature of smoke and flame glowered, and a great warrior, golden haired, armour clad, faced it with sword aloft. Written small above him were the words “You shall not pass!” 


“Ah,” Erestor said, nodding. “Gondolin. Very well then. Make yourselves comfortable. The last time we shared this tale you were considerably smaller and I was singing to you.”


Two pairs of eyes gazed up at him, awestruck. 


“Restor did sing for us?”


“Sing again, Restor? P’ease?”


Erestor rolled his eyes and wondered how he had managed to get himself into this one. “First the story,” he insisted firmly. “Then, if you still want me to, I’ll sing to you of Glorfindel the Golden.”


Two dark heads nodded enthusiastically and the twins curled their legs under them and settled down quietly, waiting to be entertained. Erestor gave good value when he read stories, taking on different voices for the various characters, his mellow tones rising and falling expressively. He read slowly, pausing occasionally to ask simple questions or express opinions. Soon both children were leaning against him, their eyes on the picture of the flight from the burning city, their concentration wholly on the tale being woven for them. Celebrations were curtailed, the dragons roared, terrified citizens fled. Idril, wise, brave Idril, led the way to the secret exit through the mountains, followed by mighty Tuor, a mithril-clad Eärendil on his shoulders. In the fire-shot night, the roar of the Balrog; a warrior to the fore, hundreds of lives in the balance.


When the tale was told, the final word dropping into a soft, breathing silence, Erestor slowly closed the book and looked down at the two sleepy heads, one resting against either of his knees. With a small sigh, still caught up in the story of a time and place long past, he cleared his throat and began to sing, his slightly husky voice mellow as brandy, lilting as falling water. 




Elrond entered the outer office on his way to collect his sons from his hard-pressed chief councillor and was immediately hushed by Melpomaen who stood close to the inner door, a finger pressed to his lips. Elrond raised his eyebrows but obeyed, moving silently to join him. As he neared the door he realised the reason he had been signaled to silence and smiled at the young assistant, nodding complicity. He took up station behind the shorter elf and watched over his shoulder as Erestor, no longer radiating contained efficiency, sat on the floor, hands caressing sleepy dark heads, while he sang honour to the hero whose loss had bought life for their line.


Some quiet frisson of foreknowledge shivered Elrond’s skin. Time and events moved, lives unexpectedly collided, joined. For a moment he found himself smiling, feeling a tug of warm anticipation. Somewhere in the future he sensed an echo, an answering tune played in counterpoint. For an instant it seemed another voice lifted and joined with Erestor’s. Out on the edge of time it was as though he heard a new lyric; a song for a new tomorrow. A song that would one day enrich all of their lives.