Oh, the library...


4. Neldë


Picture this.
You will but be doing what I have done to write it, for I never saw the scene either. But I heard about it many times – once from the Lord Faramir, when I was a serious child of eight, and once from my mother, who had heard it from my father.
My father never spoke a word of this to me, except once – once, he mentioned his waiting, and he said that it was the hardest thing he had ever done.

The dark closes in around the city like a blanket, and my father sits atop the wall – sits, swinging his legs dangerously over the sheer drop beneath him, looking at the moon wistfully.
He is waiting, and he thinks that the whole world waits with him – it must wait with him. How can it not?
War’s over; work’s done, but still he waits and frets – because he has laboured long so that he may reach this waiting.
He sits there, above the world, but he is still worried, brow furrowed, eyes wistful, looking out towards the West.
“Will they come?” he asks, and it is not difficult to guess who it is he means. “Will they come?”

His waiting was long, but they did come at last – ah, and while I do not know how he greeted my mother then, I can guess.
Do you then need any more proof of his love for her?

Of hers for him – why, she was less reticent than he, and sometimes she told me what she had never said to anyone else.
And she said, one summer’s day, when I was young and more interested in the butterflies that fluttered past us:
“Son of mine, when your father and I are gone, people will talk, and they will say that we never loved each other. Do not heed them! I believe I know something of your father’s feelings, but those I may not say; but here are mine, that you may tell anyone who asks you: I met him, and he was young and fair and gloriously alive. For years he toiled, and was no longer young – but he was alive, not as the crawling beetle is alive, but as the golden glory of the summer’s sun – fair and joyous and hopeful and glorious. I could not live without him.”

And I believed her.

It was dark, and still, and quiet as the Silent Street.

Nothing moved – nothing stirred, and even the sound of a drop of water would have disturbed the air like a thousand battering-rams pounding at the wall.

And in the library – the great, soaring-ceiling, dusty library – a single candle burnt, wavering but still bright, and the wax from it dripped slowly onto a table groaning with books.

Here, the stillness was not unusual. Nobody liked to stay here, except the old historians, as dusty as the tomes they read, and twice as dry.

For the library had one grave fault – it was the past. To the people, the past was old and grey and withered, and more than half a fairy-tale already. The living present was far more interesting, even though some still mourned the departure of the Elves over-Sea, and told tales of their deeds in Beleriand, but less vehemently with each retelling, and only half-believing themselves.

And so the past was fated to die, not gloriously in a last brave stand, but slowly diminishing into faded, indistinguishable, dull grey, until nothing was left of it but a ghostly memory.

But what could people know of this now? Elrond had foreseen it; Elessar had guessed some part of it, but the wont of such declines was to be slow, slow and long, and the beginnings of it were barely seen. Gondor was great yet, and would remain so for some time to come.

Surely the common people, they who scorned the libraries and praised the king with the same breath, could not know.

Meanwhile, the library remained; now dark, and still, and filled with a cold silence, and Elentirmo’s soft breathing was scarce to be heard.

He slept, head rested on a pile of papers, weary yet unwilling to leave. He had work yet, and had not even known that he was tired – until he had fallen asleep.

The sky was lightening to grey now, in the first light from the east. It was strange, bitterly ironic that darkness could have come from the East where the Sun rose.

Outside, the first movements of a city, yawning and stretching as it woke. The crow of a cockerel, the cry of a merchant, the wail of an infant.

The sun rose swiftly now, brightening the sky from black to grey to rose to orange, and the bustle outside increased.

Another day, another time, the work’s never done.

And Elentirmo woke, and raised his head to look out of the window, gazing at the dawn with a sort of sleepy wonder.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.


In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Noldo

Status: Beta

Completion: Work in Progress

Rating: General

Last Updated: 12/03/04

Original Post: 09/13/04

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