7. A literary gift
One youngster sat a little aside from the game, watching the rough and tumble, smiling and occasionally cheering on one lad or another. Now and again the older lads would call back to him, involving him in the hilarity even though he wasn't taking part in the game.
Observing the lad earlier, Celeborn had noticed that he walked a little awkwardly, with a kind of twisted limp. He knew, from what Merry had told him, that the Thain's son had suffered a badly broken leg in a riding accident some years ago. That, together with the fact that the boy was wearing a waistcoat cut from the same deep blue cloth as Pippin's, assured him he was looking at Faramir Took.
He excused himself from the group of adult hobbits and elves, glad to escape from the pipeweed smoke. After a brief detour to his baggage he made his way to where Faramir was sitting.
"Excuse me," he said in the common speech.
The boy looked up in surprise, but replied in perfect Sindarin. "Greetings Lord Celeborn, I hope you enjoyed the feast."
Celeborn raised a silver eyebrow. Faramir's accent was almost flawless. How could he have managed that, learning from Meriadoc, who spoke the flattest elvish he had ever heard?
"Your uncle tells me you are a fine scholar," he said, hoping he was doing the right thing to reply in elvish. Obviously he was, for the boy's face lit with delight on hearing the language.
"I am sorry if I'm not very clear, I have never spoken with a real elf before," said Faramir, a little more slowly as he formed the words - this time in Quenya. He looked up, meeting Celeborn's eyes. The elf saw a fierce intelligence there, as well as a slightly panicked hope that he had got the words of the high tongue right.
"You speak beautifully," said Celeborn, seating himself on the grass beside Faramir and choosing to continue the conversation in Sindarin. "Do you enjoy reading Elvish too?"
"Oh yes, though there is little enough to read here in the Shire. Just a handful of books at Bag End really."
"Then I should imagine these will be a welcome addition," said Celeborn, holding out two small volumes in well-worn red bindings. Faramir took them and turned them over in his hands.
"The thicker one is one of the many versions of the story of the Necklace of the Dwarves - I think you will find it an interesting tale. The other is a book of poems about nature - written by my daughter Celebrian," said Celeborn.
Faramir gasped. "I cannot take that," he said. "Surely it is of great value to you."
"Indeed, I treasure my copy. But she made several copies as gifts one year. She has a talent for poetry."
"Thank you. I will enjoy reading it. The boy's formal words were polite - but his grin showed that he was thrilled beyond measure by the gift. Suddenly his smile was replaced by puzzlement.
"Your daughter - and the lady Galadriel and Master Elrond and the other elves of Lorien - they are all now beyond the sea?"
"Then." The boy faltered, evidently realising he was about to stray into awkward territory with the question that was on the tip of his tongue.
"Then why am I still here?" finished Celeborn with a heavy sigh. "You tell me, Faramir. I do not know exactly why I linger. I miss them all and long to see them again, yet I do not hear the call of the sea and I do not feel the unbearable yearning to leave this land which I have loved. I made a choice to stay here long, long ago and some strange reluctance binds me here still. It is quite a conundrum."
"A what?" asked Faramir.
Ah, he had strayed beyond the limits of the boy's language skills. It took him a moment to find the most appropriate word in Westron. "A conundrum."
Merry Brandybuck, Pippin Took and Sam Gamgee strolled together down to the paddock, having made the excuse that they wished to check all was ready for tomorrow's journey to the Fair. There was no real need to do so, for Merry knew Rob would have ensured the ponies were prepared before he departed to join the Rowtons with a basketful of supper treats provided by Rosie.
"Well," said Sam. "There's certainly something amiss with those four."
"Indeed. I see now why you thought they needed a little Shire-style cheering, Merry," added Pippin. "I've never seen such glum elves. They're fine as long as you're chatting with them - but as soon as they get a moment to think, you can see they go all wistful-looking."
Merry patted one of the ponies on the nose thoughtfully. "Yes," he said. "I think they feel trapped somehow between two worlds. The elves' time here is supposed to be over, but they aren't quite ready to go. I doubt it is something a day at the Fair can heal - but perhaps we can give them a day off from such sad thoughts."
The others nodded firmly and, despite the absence of their tankards, they raised a toast to distracting elves.
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.