As the soft light of a balmy spring afternoon melted into the gentle golden glow of gloaming, the great gates of the Elvenking opened, loosing a flood of elves onto the narrow bridge spanning the forest river. Some were children; others, grown. Some carried baskets of food; others, weapons. All were laughing or singing or chatting merrily, and Brethilaes knew it for a sign that the eagerly awaited day had come at last.
The buds had blossomed prematurely this year, bringing with them rumors that the feast celebrating the new year’s arrival would also come early -- but the exact day could not be guessed. Brethilaes had feared it would come too soon, before the gift was ready, but she had finished it just in time.
She stretched tall, eagerly scanning the crowd spilling off the bridge to disappear into the deepening forest shadows. She was yet too small to see beyond the nearest of the approaching elves. Wearied by her efforts, Brethilaes relaxed her posture and attempted, valiantly, to wait with patience. She stood, after all, alongside the only path. He could not help but pass by her eventually; the king would not absent himself from the feast when even the wariest of his subjects ventured forth in celebration. Nay. He would come. He must!
A shiver of anxious doubt shuddered through Brethilaes, nonetheless, and she searched, once more. Swaying this way and that, she hoped beyond hope for a sight of blonde among the mass of brown….and then -- yes! There they were, long wisps of flowing gold playing upon the breeze.
She danced with impatient delight as he drew ever nearer, until -- all of a sudden it seemed -- he was upon her. Long, willowy fingers crept toward the sleeve of his silky, pale green tunic, seeking to catch his eyes before he passed.
On the brink, they hesitated. Her gaze slipped to the supple, reddish-brown twigs twisted with great care into an elegant crown for the king’s golden head. It suddenly seemed flimsy and frivolous -- not nearly grand enough to adorn
. He would surely laugh at it.
Pulling her fingers back, she ran them lovingly over the twigs. The crown they formed was, indeed, not nearly so grand as the crown of spring flowers normally placed upon the king’s head at the start of the new year feast. Yet the young leaves -- only lately emerged from their buds -- exactly matched the hue of his tunic, and the red in the wood would contrast beautifully against the gold of his hair. Nay, the Elvenking -- who could find beauty in the plainest leaf -- would not miss the beauty of this gift. She was certain of it.
Brethilaes swelled with pride and extended her fingers. They just managed to snag Thranduil’s sleeve as he passed, and the King’s head turned. She quivered as his gaze fell upon her, and she pulled her fingers back, but Thranduil caught them and held them gently.
“Good day to you, penneth,” he bade merrily and graced her with a benevolent smile that increased her trembling ten-fold. Thranduil’s grin broadened briefly, but then he schooled his features into a grave expression. “How is it that I may be of service to you?”
Brethilaes could find no words with which to answer, but she managed to pull herself together enough to present her gift. The benevolent smile returned to Thranduil’s face. Releasing her fingers, he took the crown gingerly into his hands and examined it closely.
“It is truly a beautiful gift,” he praised, sincere appreciation reflected in both voice and gaze. “And a great gift, for your branches are yet few. I am honored that you would grace me with such a sacrifice. I shall don it with pride!”
Brethilaes quivered anew as he placed the delicate crown atop his head and its pale young leaves seemed to glow in the reflected radiance of his golden hair. Thranduil smiled once more and tenderly caressed the smooth white bark of her slender trunk in thanks, before favoring her with a chivalrous bow of farewell and striding away deeper into the forest. Brethilaes swayed giddily with joy as she watched her beloved Elvenking until he vanished from sight.
Brethilaes = baby birch (birch sapling)
Penneth = young one
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.