Ere you drift off to sleep
1. A Rhyme for Elboron
all through the Riddermark this horse goes.
Prancing, and gliding, and eating, and biting
For up and down goes this regal rider!
Hop, hop, the child smiles and jumps,
up to the stars in a climb he goes.
Hiking, and climbing, and running, and riding
Until he touches the moon!
Faramir opened his arms, throwing his son in the air in the middle of a fit of giggles and laughs. Elboron rose and as lightly fell, as his father caught him, tickling him in the stomach and under the arms. "No, papa!" he pleaded, but Faramir knew that he wanted more.
"You want me to stop now, do you?" he laughed along with his son. "Very well, then. I guess we've had too much of a good time today, and we do not wish to spoil it. The sun is getting low, Bron." Pulling the boy closer to him, Faramir pointed to the horizon, where the orange day was sinking under the blue sea of night. "Far away, in uncle Imrahil's land, the Sun is saying good-night to the water before retiring to bed. Shall we run and bid the Sun farewell, too?" the child shrieked and nodded in delight. "And then, my dear lad, it will be time for you to be off to bed, as well."
“But, papa!” Elboron pleaded, the small face looking forlorn and sad. The day had been a pleasant one, and at last he was on his father’s arms, playing. He wanted more of it; but, there was something on Faramir’s gesture that told him that he’d much rather take advantage of one last game, instead of being sad and having to go to bed afterwards anyway. His eyes quickly lighted as he was lifted on his father’s shoulders while they ran toward the West, where the sun always slept.
“That’s my lad!” Faramir yelled as the wind caressed their faces. “Now, tell me, how does the Sun’s Song go? I seem to have forgot-”
“That’s not true!” Elboron declared, as he clung even tighter to his father’s shirt. “You know it by heart! You sing it all the time, papa!”
“All right, all right. You better sing with me, then. Now, how does it begin? Ah- Rising up above-“ Elboron’s eager voice quickly joined his father’s, singing along as much as he knew of the song he so dearly liked.
Rising up above in the skies to my right
(Elboron and Faramir point to their right)
The Sun sets up on her road through daylight.
(They move their arms, making a circling motion)
Six in the morning she rises and greets-
Little boys bow, and girls gladly sing.
Nine o’clock comes, my breakfast is fixed!
The Sun is hungry, too, so she stops and eats.
(Makes the motion of eating with hands and mouth)
Way by eleven the day’s cool no more,
The Sun needs refreshing, so clouds help along.
(Fans himself with the right hand)
At one and at three the sky looks just the same,
and soon the bright morning has melted away;
(Arms fall limplessly to both sides; Bron sticks out his tongue)
the horses are feeding, and all men are eating,
and looks like the world has all stopped on its spinning!
(Faramir and Elboron twirl round and round)
Then at five o’clock, oh, I take such delight!
For mama allows me to play and to prance;
(Hops like a rider on a horse)
Then even the rangers all stop in their skulking
to grab a quick bite before night comes a-lurking.
(He narrows his gaze like a skulking ranger, shielding his eyes with one hand)
At seven it’s dusk and I have to realize
that the Sun is tired and so must be I!
(Runs hand over forehead and makes a whistling sound)
So papa comes quickly to get me to bed
And singing together we say our “Farewell!”
Both father and son waved away as the sun’s last rays sunk over the world, leaving them two lone figures against the dark of evening. Elboron snuggled closer, placing his head between his papa’s neck and shoulder a little too strongly in the way that boys usually do, and Faramir winced.
“What is‘t?” Elboron asked.
“It is an old wound,” Faramir replied without blinking, running his hand over his son’s dark head, either ruffling his hair or caressing it.
“Was it when you fought against the dark wings?” he asked, the eyes suddenly turning very bright and lively.
Faramir's voice caught in his throat, his hand stiffened on Bron's head, and for a moment or two, only his hair and clothes moved in the wind. The child must have sensed something was wrong, for he shifted on his father's hold. At length, and after a few uncomfortable moments, Faramir began to breathe again, and slowly turned and asked, "And, who may have told you about that?"
"Mama," Elboron said softly, leaning closer to his father's ear; the dampness of his son's breath made Faramir giggle. "She spoke of the great battle and how the black wings came whirling by, and then you took your sword high to stand against them, and-"
"And, then,” a melodious voice interrupted, “your good father became a hero to his men, for it was his strength that made them hold a while longer when all hope was lost."
"Oh, Leg'las, Sir!" the child yelled in glee as his father's friend issued from behind the shadow of a few trees. There was a faint shimmer around his person, as usual, and his eyes shone almost as bright as Faramir's. Elboron quickly found a way into the Elf's arms.
"Good night, my friend," Faramir said, bowing slightly, seemingly grateful that he had come to the rescue. "I am very glad to see you, although I suspect this visit might make the job of putting this young man to bed a harder one."
"Ah," Legolas said, touching the tip of Bron's nose with his slender finger, "but, I am sure that this seven-year-old needs not any help on that department."
"I'm not seven!" Elboron laughed, truly and excitedly, "I will be five next week!"
"Only five!" Legolas exclaimed, putting up an air of surprise. "Who would've thought? A sturdy boy, this one," he winked and glanced briefly at Faramir, but a shadow passed through the Steward’s face; it quickly vanished, but left a tinge of sadness and a rueful smile.
"Sturdy, indeed," Faramir sighed, "unlike his father."
Legolas gave him a knowing nod, and fell into his own thoughts. He was brought back by a tug on his sleeve, "Will you sing again, m’ster Elf?"
"Ah, not tonight, Bron," Faramir was quick to add, kneeling beside his friend and his son who had sat under a tree, "It is high time that you were in bed. Your mother will not be pleased if she knows I am indulging you so."
"Please, papa, just one!"
Faramir was about to protest, but Legolas raised his palm and bid him wait, grinning. He could not do more but curl his lips, shrug his shoulders, and lean back, ready to be amused.
"Do you know," Legolas asked innocently, "what happens to little boys who do not go to bed when they are told?" The boy shrugged his shoulders and frowned, an exact mimic of his father's gestures. Legolas laughed, "I guess I ought to tell you, then. That way, you cannot say you were not warned." Elboron gazed intently at his father, who silently signaled for him to listen. Biting his lip, he fixed his stare on Legolas. After a few moments allowed to build suspense, the Elf cleared his throat and began, "When I was but a youngster, all I ever wanted to do was play. Even when the Sun had already sunk and could no longer be seen above the roof of leaves that was my home, I still wasn't tired. Whenever my mother came to fetch me for bed, I enjoyed hiding from her until she became upset," here Legolas grimaced, bringing a grin to the faces of both father and son. "One day, my mother did not come, but my Sire; he grabbed me by the shoulders and sat me on his lap. 'This' he said in the sternest voice he could manage, 'is so you learn to mind your mother. Now listen what happens to boys who roam away in the wild forest at night.'" The Elf held the child firmly by the waist with one arm, and with the other started to make circles on his ankle:
‘Creak, crack,’ you hear at night.
In the dark forest where shadows are.
‘Quark, frack,’ don't walk too near
Because her bright eyeballs will make you sneer.
Fangs like the boar's and legs full of hair,
Red balls for eyes that pierce with their glares;
Legs like the thousands that slither and fiddle
All wearing fine points that would make your skin prickle;
Weaving so deftly her chords strong and hard
She will distract you from foul stench and such.
Tying her strings tight around feet and hands,
the spider will lull you... To take you with her!
Legolas had slowly been running his hand on Bron's ankles and hands, the eyes fixed steadily on the child's grey ones, until, at the end of the rhyme, he had pinched the boy's forearm and brought his face close, close, closer... then, he yelled the last phrase. Elboron cried in a fright, and both Steward and Elf had to laugh upon seeing the child's baffled expression. However, there was something on Legolas' pitch of laughter, or perhaps it was the odd twinkle in the wise eyes, that told Faramir that his friend had been mild in the ending of his little tale; it may have been that King Thranduil was less lenient when he told his son about the spider's deadly bite. Faramir impressed in his mind the need to comment on this later. But now, he felt compelled to come in his son's rescue.
"Do not be frightened, Bron," he said, patting the pale cheek. "You will be all right. And, so you are completely assured that Legolas is still a friendly fellow, I will let him sing one last song before going to bed. But, just one." This short speech worked marvels, for the boy smiled again and nodded.
"Very well, then," Legolas said, his musical voice back, "one last song ere your drift to the land of dreams.” Faramir gasped upon hearing that phrase, and turned intent, his features becoming solemnly serious. Legolas looked at him for a mere moment in which some sort of knowledge passed between them, for at last Faramir swallowed hard, then bit his lip, and the Elf smiled kindly. “I will sing to you, then,” he said. Closing his eyes, he began:
One final song ere this child gladly drifts
To the sweet land of wonderful dreams.
There the clouds float like magical birds
Carrying my little one swift on their wings.
Off you go, off you go, look at the star
Glittering bright on the dark, distant night.
And then, Faramir interrupted to sing the final verse:
Close your eyes, little one, hurry and sleep!
So you won’t be late when the swan’s ship comes here.
After a brief pause, his mouth curled into a wide smile, and he whispered, “Thanks,” then squeezed his son’s hand. “Now, my big lad, it is time that you were in bed. Say good night to Legolas, and let us go find mama.”
“Good night, Leg’las,” Elboron said, and rubbed his eyes. Faramir and Legolas exchanged a look of pleasure, or it may have been relief! “Will you sing again tomorrow?”
“Only if your father allows,” he said, and bowed, “and if you go to bed at once. I bid you a fair evening, young one. May the stars shine on you tonight, and all nights!.” Then, turning to the father, “Rest well, Faramir. I will see you in the morning.”
Faramir nodded, gave his friend a parting smile and a wave of the hand, and turned, hand in hand with his son. As they walked away, the wind hissed behind them, and the leaves rustled. The elf leaned back to rest his head against the trunk of the tree, smiled, and above the breeze’s song and the steps of both father and son, he thought he heard the child’s voice ask, “Papa, how do you know the song of the Elves?”
“I learned it a long time ago,” came the soft reply. “My mama used to sing to me, and my brother...”
“Will you tell me?”
“Someday I will, my love. Someday I will.”
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.