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A Remembrance of Trees
Summary: Some of the Fellowship share their earliest memories. Written for the ALEC challenge 'Remembrance' where it won first place.
"...a faunt of about two or three, I think," the Elves in Elrond’s train heard Frodo say as they approached the small group of Hobbits sitting at their ease underneath the flowering White Tree. Aragorn, Arwen and Mithrandir were there along with Legolas and Gimli.
"And what are we discussing?" Elrond asked as he joined them, smiling down at them. The Hobbits automatically started to rise but Elrond shook his head and gestured for them to remain seated while he took a seat beside his daughter. The other Elves — his sons, Glorfindel and the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood — ranged themselves in a semi-circle around the group, almost acting as a barrier between them and the rest of the Citadel, as if daring anyone to be so foolish as to interrupt them.
Frodo smiled at the Elves standing around them, giving them a brief nod in acknowledgment, which they returned, before addressing Elrond’s question. "We were comparing notes about our earliest memories. I was saying that my earliest memory was when I was about three. I remember sitting on my father’s shoulders while he and my mother were dancing at some party."
There were indulgent smiles from the Elves. "So, now that you’ve joined us," Mithrandir said with a twinkle in his eyes and the light of a challenge in them, "you’ll all have to tell us your earliest memories."
Several elvish eyebrows went up but Elrond frowned, his brows furrowed, as if he were in deep thought and then he shook his head. "I’m afraid my earliest memories are too dark for such a lovely day," he said quietly and several people gazed upon him with sympathy, though he did not see it, for his eyes were on his lap.
Mithrandir nodded, as if he’d expected no other answer from the Peredhel. Before he could comment, though, Glorfindel spoke up, casting an amused look upon the Wizard. "And what is your earliest memory, Mithrandir? Have you told them yet?" He nodded to the Hobbits.
"Well, for your information, Lord Glorfindel, I did," Mithrandir replied with a huff of annoyance that they knew was mostly for show. "They were rather impressed by the fact that my memories go all the way back to the Beginning."
"The beginning of what?" Glorfindel asked in counterfeit innocence.
"The beginning of your re-embodiment," Mithrandir retorted with an evil gleam in his eyes. "I well remember the day you wet...."
"Let’s not go there, old friend," the Balrog-Slayer said hastily, and the Hobbits — indeed most of the others — were treated to the sight of this self-assured paragon of Elfhood blushing to the roots of his golden hair and looking very embarrassed.
There were amused looks among the other Elves; even Elrond had a small smile on his lips as he listened to the banter between these two friends. Then Pippin gave Glorfindel a considering look. "What is your earliest memory, Lord Glorfindel? Mine was of swinging in an apple tree that was behind our farm and my father was standing there with his hands out waiting to catch me if I slipped and laughing because my mother was very upset to find me swinging in a tree and saying I was too young for it."
Glorfindel smiled down at the inquisitive tween who, along with his partner in crime, Meriadoc, had been the bane of the Elves’ existence while they had been in Imladris, though Glorfindel had found their antics amusing, reminding him of his escapades with Ecthelion and then later with Finrod. "I remember the Trees," he said simply.
There were knowing nods from a number of listeners, even from Frodo, Sam and Merry, but Pippin looked confused, glancing up at the White Tree that was shading them from the noontide sun and then back at the golden-haired Elf-lord who stood there in easy grace.
"But, what’s so special about remembering trees?" Pippin finally asked. "They’re just... trees."
"Well, you remember an apple tree," reminded the ever practical Sam.
Pippin gave him a scathing look. "I remember swinging in one," he said in retort. "It just happened to have been an old apple tree, but it could have been a maple or some other tree on our farm."
"Lord Glorfindel meant the Two Trees, Pippin," Frodo said with a fond smile at his young cousin.
If any there hoped that would answer the tween’s question, they were sorely disappointed. Pippin gave Lord Glorfindel a horrified look, which surprised all of them. "You only had two trees in all of Valinor?" he asked in total disbelief.
Frodo groaned and covered his face with his hands and started shaking, but whether from laughter or tears was anyone’s guess. Sam just threw up his hands and rolled his eyes while Merry sat there shaking his head in disbelief at his cousin. Everyone else was struggling not to laugh, recognizing that the young Hobbit was entirely serious. Glorfindel knelt gracefully before the confused tween, giving him a gentle smile.
"No, Little One," he said softly. "There are many trees in Valinor, but there were two very special Trees that gave off their own light, for these Trees were created by the Valar long before the Sun and the Moon were brought into existence. My first memory is of being taken by my parents to see the Trees. I was probably not any older than you were when you were swinging in the apple tree."
"I was four," Pippin said quietly, not quite looking up at the Elf kneeling before him, realizing he’d made a fool of himself in front of all these fine folk once again.
Glorfindel nodded. "Well, these two Trees were very special but they were destroyed by Morgoth a long time ago and for a time even Valinor lay in darkness."
"Is it still dark there?" Pippin asked, looking up, his curiosity getting the better of him.
"No," Glorfindel answered. Then he pointed skyward toward the Sun. "Do you see the Sun?"
Pippin nodded, refraining from pointing out that it was rather difficult not to see it, since it was shining so brightly down upon them.
"What you see is the last fruit of Laurelin the Golden," Glorfindel said. "When Morgoth destroyed the Trees and Valinor was plunged into darkness, many feared that the light would never return, but the Valar worked diligently and were able to rescue one last fruit of Laurelin which they turned into the Sun and they retrieved one last silver flower of Telperion, the elder of the Two Trees, and that became the Moon. So, you see, even though the Trees are dead, their light still shines on in their memory."
Pippin’s expression now became thoughtful and he nodded, glad that this terrifying Elf-lord was not mad at him for asking such a stupid question. Then he gave Glorfindel a shy smile, unable to resist one last question. "Did you ever swing in them?"
Glorfindel laughed. "No, I never did, though I wish now I had." Then he gave Pippin a conspiratorial grin and lowered his voice as if speaking only to the young Hobbit, but of course, they all heard. "But I know someone who was caught swinging in Telperion once." He turned his head to cast a grin at the Lady Galadriel who glowered at him. Everyone else stared at the Lady of Lothlórien with varying expressions, from amusement (Mithrandir), to surprise (Celeborn) to stunned disbelief (her three grandchildren).
"Daernana?" Elrohir finally asked, giving her an enquiring look, which she ignored, too busy glaring daggers at the unrepentant Glorfindel who was still kneeling. Everyone else held their breaths, waiting for the fireworks to begin, most of them wishing they were suddenly somewhere else.
Pippin, of course, paid no attention to the charged atmosphere around him. He gave the Lady of the Golden Wood an admiring look. "That must have been a lot of fun," he said in all innocence.
Everyone stared at the tween and then at Galadriel to judge her reaction to the young Hobbit’s statement. Galadriel rewarded them with a faint smile. "Yes," she said in her deep melodious voice, "it was a lot of fun."
"Is that your earliest memory?" Pippin asked.
The Lady of the Golden Wood laughed lightly, the sound of it setting the bells of the city gently pealing. "No, Little One. My earliest memory is of pushing Glorfindel into a fountain."
"Hey!" Glorfindel protested while others tried not to laugh. He stood and glowered at the Elf-lady, his hands on his hips.
"Did she really?" Pippin asked, sniggering, trying to imagine either of these terrifying creatures young enough to act like... well, like Hobbit children.
Glorfindel looked down at the young Hobbit, recognizing his glee for what it was, and started laughing. "Indeed she did, but I got my revenge eventually."
"What did you do?" Merry asked, intrigued in spite of himself.
Glorfindel gave Galadriel a cheeky look and the Lady of the Golden Wood raised an eyebrow in challenge. Glorfindel then turned to Merry. "I’m afraid that’s between Galadriel and me." Then before anyone else could speak, he turned to Celeborn. "So, my lord, what is your earliest memory?"
Celeborn wasn’t sure he wanted to participate in this discussion, but he realized what the Balrog-slayer was doing and gave them a smile. "Well, I remember playing besides the waters of Cuiviénen where we Elves first awoke and...."
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