Usual story about a girl among the elves. Or maybe not.
Two elves And A Boat
The boat drifted into shore. Elladan stepped out into the water to grab the rope hanging from the bow. He shouted at his brother to come and help him.
"Where did this come from?" Elrohir asked, reaching down and taking the end of the rope. He glanced up and down the shore.
"I do not know, but I claim it and everything in it."
"Good luck with that." Elrohir looked at the less than sea-worthy craft. He wrinkled his nose. "It reeks! It smells as if an army of Orcs had sailed in it. It will never sail anywhere again. Moreover, if it did, what would you do with it then? You would be the laughing stock of the Rangers."
"Well, we can see what is in it."
"We do not have time for this. We are already late starting back. The commander expected us back two days ago."
"So, help me." He proceeded to start at the bow and search the small vessel.
Elrohir started on the other side. He had almost made it to the back when Elladan let out a yelp of pain.
"Find a fishhook?" Elrohir laughed at his joke.
"What are you doing here?" Elladan said softly.
Elrohir tried to look over his brother's shoulder. He could not see much, but gasped when Elladan pulled a small form up by its arm. It was hard to tell exactly what they had found. The being seemed bent on remaining where they had found it. It was struggling so that it took the both of them to get it ashore without any damage.
Elladan lay on his back trying to hold the creature. Elrohir moved back to get a closer look. What he saw was a small child.
"It is a girl." He looked around for signs of any others. "I cannot see where she might have come from. There are no settlements close. We found nothing in the boat. What do you want to do? We are already past due returning. Arathorn will be concerned." He laughed. "You should see yourself. You look like an Orc attacked you."
"Before you laugh at me, you should see yourself. You are not too pretty either. Help me get her up."
Elrohir reached out a hand to help the child up. He saw the eyes for the first time. They were an intense shade of blue. They regarded him for several moments.
"Are you going to help me or not. Quit mooning."
Elrohir took her hand and stood her up. It occurred to him that she had not made a sound the whole time. Not even a whimper.
"We have to get back. What will we do with her?" he asked.
Elladan shrugged. "Take her with us? We can take her to Imladris. Father will know what to do. He is always taking in strays, anyway."
"I will carry her, but she needs a bath first."
The child did not struggle as they cleaned her up. They were surprised to see her skin was lighter than theirs. Except for the hair and a spattering of spots across the face, she could be an elf...well, that and her less than mannerly behavior.
Elladan handed her up to his brother. She squirmed away from the horse.
"I think she is afraid of your horse," Elladan said.
"And they say you are the dumb one," said his brother, rolling his eyes. "Just give her here."
Elrohir set the child in front of him. He felt her lean back against him and relax. A small hand stretched out to touch his. He felt a stirring in his chest. He thought his heart stopped for a beat.
"This is not good," he muttered to himself.
They rode for the rendezvous with the other Rangers. They had been sent to scout the seacoast from the Bay of Balfalos north to the River GwathlÃ³. Elrohir was concerned as they had expected to be back by now. He hoped the rest of the company was not far from their appointed meeting place. The child would slow them down even more, but they could not leave her. He had fed her and it seemed she would never stop eating. He had no idea how long she had been in the boat, but it had to have been days. He had taken one of his spare shirts and fastened it on her as a gown. It was not pretty looking, but it was clean.
The first night Elrohir had fallen asleep against a tree. When he woke, he had found the girl lying next to him, her head in his lap. He looked up to see Elladan smiling at him.
"You make a good mother."
Elrohir threw him a disgusted look.
It took them a week to find the company.
Arathorn listened to Elladan give their report.
"We followed the coastline. We then followed the river back to Tharbad. We heard of no unrest through the White Mountains. We did hear that something is stirring in the Blue Mountains. However, if there were Orcs about, they kept themselves well hidden. We found nothing of import. Except this."
He nodded to Elrohir. His brother came forward holding a bundle. As Elladan unwrapped it, Arathorn saw it contained a child. He glanced at the brothers.
"Where did you find her?"
"On the coast. She was in a boat, a rather un-seaworthy boat. If not for Elladan's curiosity, we would not have found her. She was hidden in a compartment, under a tarp."
"There were no others?"
"We only took a couple of hours to look, but we found nothing."
"What do you plan to do with her?"
"We were thinking of taking her to Imladris. Our father should know what to do. If not that, we could take her to an Edain village. I know of one family that would care for her. But I really would like to ask my father first."
"Very well. You have leave to go. Give my regards to Lord Elrond. When will you return?"
"As soon as we can. Give us six weeks."
"Meet us at Bree. I want to circle north of the Shire. Gandalf is concerned. He cannot say why, but if he worries, I worry."
"We will leave as soon as we can get ready."
They spent the next hour getting provisions and gear packed. When all was ready, they went to Arathorn and bid him farewell.
"I have written out reports to date for your father. Be careful. You are skirting the south end of the Shire. I do not trust that area. There have been reports of sporadic raids on villages south of there."
"We have heard. I want to go into the Shire. I know a family there with a small daughter about this one's size. I think they will be able to help with some clothing." Elrohir looked back at his horse where the girl sat.
"Very well. That may be safer. I will see you in six weeks."
They mounted and started north.
A Rosa By Any Other Name Is Still A Prize
It took them four days to reach the Shire. They did not do much talking the first day. Before dark, Elladan found a campsite far enough off the road to go unnoticed. He saw to gathering firewood and starting a small fire while his brother unsaddled and took care of the horses.
They ate cold travel rations that night. The girl did not like them much, but hunger drove her to eat them. After she had gone to sleep, they sat by the fire.
"Where do you think she came from?" asked Elladan.
"I have no idea. My experience in finding humans in boats is minimal. I suppose it could have been a shipwreck."
"She does not look like one who has spent much time on the sea. Her skin is too fair."
"Well, wherever it is, I would venture a guess that she is alone now. We may never find out."
"If I had to guess, I would say Rohan. They are fair. And the hair is light enough, although an odd shade."
"What would a child from Rohan be doing on the west coast?"
"I thought we were guessing. That is my guess." He grinned.
"Do you think Father will send her to the village?"
"More than likely. She will be better off with her own kind. Benerd and his family will take her in. They lost their daughter last winter. I know Mares cannot have more children. She will be grateful for the opportunity."
Elrohir looked down at the sleeping child lying in his lap.
"How could anyone leave one so small?"
"Who can explain the ways of men? Those we know would not, but the world is filled with all kinds."
"Remember Arwen at this age?"
"Reluctantly. She followed me everywhere. I could not get rid of her. I miss her now. Maybe we can go to Lorien in the summer and see her."
"If all is settled here it is possible. I would not mind seeing her. Do you think she will ever go home?"
"She misses Mother too much. In Lorien, she can move without the constant reminder of her. You should talk. When was the last time we were home?"
"It has been a while."
Elladan stretched out.
"I would not mind sitting in the lap of luxury for a while."
"Even when you were sitting there, you would not sit still. You were always restless. You got me in such trouble."
"I think you have it twisted. You were the one causing trouble."
"I think Father would disagree with you."
"We will just have to ask him."
They both fell silent. It was peaceful watching the sunrise. They seldom took time to enjoy anything these days. There was too much to do.
When the child woke, they ate and resumed their journey. The next three days were repeats of the first. By the time they reached the Shire, they were so bored, they almost wished something would happen.
They rode several miles into the Shire before coming to their friend's home. People laughed and ran short distances with them along the way. The Shire folk seemed to have no worries. It was well they did not know what passed beyond their borders. The twins hated the thought of what could happen to these gentle folk. They at last came to the home of Gradin Took.
Elrohir dismounted and took the girl in his arms. He looked back at his brother.
"Are you coming?"
"And listen to you try to explain why you have a child? I would not miss it. It will prove to be too entertaining. " Elladan laughed as he slid off his horse.
Elrohir scowled at his brother's back. Entertaining, indeed. He turned and went to the round door set in the hill. Before he could knock on the door, it swung open and a small body wrapped itself around his legs.
He laughed at the tiny girl.
"Hello, Rosa. Is your father home?"
"He is in the garden. Did you bring me something?"
"Elladan did. Go ask him." He grinned as the girl attacked his brother. Now he would have to come up with something.
Elrohir went around the small hill to the rear of the dwelling. He found Gradin tending his roses. They were beautiful this time of year. The man took much pride in his garden, and with due cause. They were the finest roses in the Shire.
Gradin looked up as Elrohir came around the side of the hill.
"Greetings. And so unexpected."
"Greetings to you also. We had some time and I have a favor to ask."
"Where is your brother?"
"He was waylaid by a small Halfling. He must now come up with payment for entering her realm."
"Come, sit down. Would you like some tea?"
"That would be welcome."
By the time Gradin had returned with tea for everyone, Elladan had appeased the offended Halfling and came around to the back. Gradin set the tray on a wooden table. He poured three large cups and one tiny one for Rosa.
"How have you been, Gradin? We were much sorrowed to hear of the passing of your wife last winter. How is Rosa?"
"We are fine. She has done much to take my mind off the last few months. I do not know how her mother kept up with her. It is a full time job. But what do you have, Elrohir?"
Elladan sat back and relaxed.
"We found this girl on the coast. We are taking her to our father. I thought that maybe you would spare some clothes for her. She had nothing."
"She was alone? How could that happen?"
"We have no idea. She has not spoken. The boat she was in would not have made it past the shoreline if pushed back in."
"Let me see her." Gradin reached for the child. To the twins' surprise, she went to the Halfling. She grabbed him around the neck and started crying.
"Well, maybe she is a lost Shire child."
"I do not think so," said Elladan. "She is too big. I think she might be from Rohan. We disagree, but she has the looks."
"Wherever she is from, she was loved. Look how easily she came to me. Only a trusting child would do that. What will Lord Elrond do with her?"
"We are not sure. Probably place her with a family I know in a village east of Rivendell. They lost a daughter last winter. I think they would welcome her."
"Here," Gradin said, handing the girl back to Elrohir. "I will be right back."
He went into the house. Within minutes, he returned with a small bundle of clothes.
"You can try these. They are too big for Rosa. There is a good lady down the road who makes clothes for her. I think she has other than my daughter's welfare in mind, but I would not be adverse." He grinned. "She is kind and not hard to look at."
The twins laughed at their friend. Elrohir held up several dresses and trousers.
"I think these will do. I thank you for your generosity. Someday, you must visit us in Rivendell. I know my father would like to meet you. We have told him so much about you and your family."
"That is all well and good, but I think it will be a long time before it is safe to travel outside the Shire. There are rumors even here for those who listen."
Elladan was startled. "You have heard things?"
"There are words circulating concerning a certain land to the east. Not everyone listens, but those who do are worried."
"We thought you were well insulated against such rumors."
"They manage to seep in. Do not worry. Not all listen or believe. It is fortunate. It is also fortunate that a few do. Ignorance will kill as surely as a blade."
"That is an odd philosophy for a Shire man."
"I admit that it is, but I am in a minority. Most are concerned with the daily living of life. Other than Rosa and my roses, I have little else to fill my days. Therefore, I listen. I hear all sorts of things. I heard a tale the other day about a people from the far east. They settled in the White Mountains south and west of here. They have had dealings with few. A very tight and suspicious lot. Strange customs. You may want to check there for missing persons."
Elrohir looked down at the child who had climbed back in his lap.
"That is a great distance from Balfalos. How do explain the appearance of so small a child so far from there?"
"I am not explaining anything. I am repeating what I have heard. It may be best to forget what I have said. If they lost a girl child, she can only be better off. What little I have heard suggests their women are used mainly for chattel. Little status and no rights. I can only think she might fare better anywhere else."
"Father will know best what to do. I wish she would speak. Even if only her name. I would like something more than child or girl."
Rosa came over to Elrohir. She took the girl's hand and pulled her from his lap. They went into the house. The adults sat and drank their tea. Before long, they were startled by the sound of giggles coming from the house. When they emerged, both girls were smiling and wearing Gradin's shoes. The men laughed at the young ones trying to walk in boots that went well above their knees. The joy on the girl's face transformed her into a very pretty sight.
"Ela taught me a new game," said Rosa.
"Who did?" asked Elladan.
"Ela. She likes shoes."
"Is that her name?"
"Of course, silly. My name is Rosa."
"Ela," Elrohir said. He was rewarded with a look from the child.
"How did you get her name, Rosa?"
"She told me."
"The unknown language of children," interjected Gradin. "They will speak to each other when to no one else."
Elrohir switched to the Westron tongue and spoke to the girl. She tilted her head at him in confusion. He then switched to Elvish. She seemed to be sorting through what he said. Suddenly, she smiled and nodded. She understood some form of the tongue of elves.
"I guess our trip into the Shire was more than luck. Thank you for your help, Gradin. We must be getting on. We have only six weeks to get back to Bree."
He turned to Rosa. "Thank you for your help. Now we can call her by her name."
"You are welcome," Rosa said, very solemnly. "Good hunting. May butterflies always tumble your tummy."
Elrohir glanced at Gradin.
"Her own farewell. She made that up after tumbling down a hill. She said it felt good, so she did it all afternoon. You are lucky. She only says it to those she really likes."
"Well, Lady Rosa, I will look for butterflies everywhere. When I see one, I will remember you and your blessing."
He turned and started around the hill. Ela ran up and grabbed his hand. He looked down in surprise. He glanced back at Elladan. His brother was grinning like a besotted man.
They were met by Gradin, who had gone through the house. He handed Elladan a sack.
"You might find she likes these better than travel food. It is some of Rosa's favorite pastries and bread. There is also some cheese. Remember this, children get fussy when tired. Do not overdo it with her. Let her decide when you stop."
"Thank you for the food, and the advice. Also for the clothing and news. And you remember the butterflies."
"Come again. I enjoy our visits. The elves do not come into the Shire much anymore. You are all missed. I value and cherish our friendship."
"As do we. We will come any chance we get. And do not forget about our invitation. You would be most welcome in Rivendell."
"I will think on it. Come, Rosa. It is naptime. I feel tired."
The brothers laughed at him as they each gave Rosa a hug and she planted a kiss on each one. When Elladan put her down, she ran to her father.
"Goodbye, Ela. Remember the butterflies."
Ela nodded and turned to Elrohir. He picked her up and put her on the horse, then climbed up after her. When Elladan was mounted, they turned north to catch the Great East Road. They would make better time staying on the main roads than going cross-country with a child.
The afternoon was pleasantly spent riding through the Shire. People waved and children ran after them. It was unusual, but not unheard of for elves to ride through the Shire. They stopped in a small wooded area far from any dwellings for the night. Ela had not fussed, but they did not want to give her a chance.
Elrohir slid off his horse and lifted her down. She went over to a log and sat down. Elladan saw to the horses while Elrohir got their supper ready. They decided to have no fire, since they were still in the Shire. Ela turned from the food they ate and nibbled on the pastries Gradin had provided. She tried the cheese and ate every bit they gave her. When supper was finished, she went sat next to Elrohir and snuggled up to him. He smiled down at her.
"Ela," he said, touching her shoulder. "Elrohir," he said, touching his chest.
She cocked her head and said "Elf."
"Yes, but my name is Elrohir. That is Elladan," he said pointing at his brother.
"Elldan." she insisted.
"Very well. Elldan."
"Elf," she said pointing to him, again.
She said several words the elves did not understand. They picked out two that sounded familiar. Da and Elf.
"Well, at least she can speak. I was beginning to wonder," said Elladan.
"I do not recognize the language, but maybe Father will."
"We had better follow her example. We have a long ride tomorrow."
Elrohir looked down and saw she had fallen asleep.
Must The Past Always Catch Up With You?
Elladan woke the next morning to see his brother looking at something. He crawled over to the log Elrohir was resting against. Looking towards the woods, he saw Ela crouched down. Raising himself up for a better look, he saw she was petting a rabbit. He turned to Elrohir.
"How did she get so close?"
"She just walked up to it."
One of them must have made a movement the rabbit noticed. It jumped and ran. Ela stood and watched it go. Turning, she made her way slowly back to where the brothers waited.
Without a word, she picked up the small bag that had held her supper. She looked up expectantly at the men.
"Would you not like some breakfast before we go?" Elladan asked.
She did not understand what he had said. He pantomimed eating. She nodded. Putting down the bag, she sat on the log, waiting. Elrohir removed the food from his bag and offered her some. She shook her head.
"You must eat something." He tried again. She picked up her bag and stood. Well, they could not force it down her throat.
They finished eating and saddled the horses. She went over to Elrohir's and waited to be put on. He reached down and lifted her up into the saddle. They rode out to the path that led to the main thoroughfare through the Shire. Neither of them said anything. The girl sat quietly on Elrohir's horse.
"Maybe we could stop in Hobbiton for some food," Elladan finally broke the silence.
"I really did not intend to go that far north, but we may have no choice. Unless we can find something before then."
"Elf?" Elrohir almost missed the soft word.
She patted the horse. A string of nonsensical words came from her.
"Horse," he said.
She repeated the word several times. Getting a response from her, the twins were reluctant to let her lapse back into silence. They kept up the word game for several miles. It was almost noon when they came to a small cluster of buildings. Without a word, they stopped their horses and surveyed the tiny village. A woman leaving one of the houses finally decided them. Slowly approaching, Elladan called out a greeting. She glanced up at the strangers and smiled.
"Well, hello and welcome you are. Don't see many of your kind 'round these parts anymore. Fritzi, come here. See who's come a visiting."
A man came from around the back of the dwelling. He also smiled to see the elves.
"Welcome, welcome. What can we do for you?"
"Thank you for the kind welcome, sir. We would like to buy some food. It seems our small companion does not care for the hard and tasteless food of the traveler."
"I can't say as I blame her. Come, we can help you."
They dismounted and Elrohir lifted Ela down from the horse. She walked up to the woman and looked up at her. Something in the child's eyes must have spoken to the Halfling; she took the girl's hand.
"We will be back. Seems she has a need."
The twins looked at each other. Why had they not thought of that? How long would she have kept going?
"Come 'round back," said the man. "I think you will be more comfortable out there in the garden. House was built for wee folk. By the by, name's Fritzi, wife is Meri."
"My name is Elrohir and this is my brother, Elladan. Thank you for your kindness."
"Think nothing of it. We do not get many visitors here. How far do you go?"
"We are going to Imaladris. That is where our father lives."
"Imladris. That is one beautiful city. Don't care for the mountains, myself, but if I did, that is the place to live."
"You have been there?"
"Years ago. I went at the behest of Gandalf. He needed messages and such taken to Lord Elrond. I was free at the time, so a couple of friends and I offered to go. A most gracious and generous host, he was. I could never repay him for his kindness to us. I would wish all people were like him."
The brothers grinned at each other.
"I think we may know of a way to repay him. He is our father."
"You don't say. Well, fancy that. I did not know he had children, other than the girl."
"We travel much. Right now we are with the Rangers. We are taking time to deliver this girl to Lord Elrond."
He glanced at the door as his wife came out, carrying a tray of sandwiches and drinks. The girl followed her.
"Meri, these gentlemen are going to Imladris. Their father is Lord Elrond."
"Oh, that is grand. I love to hear him tell of the magnificent city there."
She handed each of them a plate of food and a mug of cider.
"I hope this meets your needs. It is all I have prepared."
"This will do fine. We had breakfast, but the child would not eat." They all turned to see her devouring her sandwich. She picked the mug up and sipped the liquid. Deciding that it would not hurt her, she drank all of the cider. She did not ask for more, but when Meri gave her more food and drink, she ate all of that, also.
"She does have an appetite," said Fritzi.
"When she likes the food."
"How is it you are traveling with such a small one, and human at that?"
Between the two of them, they told the story once again. Meri clucked her tongue.
"Such a sad tale. No one to care for her."
"I know a family that will take her in. If my father chooses not to keep her in Imladris," said Elrohir. He looked over at Ela. She sat on the ground, playing with some clay pots.
"I will be back," said Meri. She went into the house. Ten minutes later, she returned with a knapsack. She had a pile of things in her arms.
"Come here, child," she said. Ela immediately rose and came to her. Mari held up a couple of dresses and tunics. There was also a small pair of soft-soled boots. She had even found a rag doll.
"There were our daughter's. As she had three sons, they are of no use. I have also packed some cheese and fruit for her. There are some pastries and bread."
"How can we repay your kindness?"
"It is not you who are paying us, we are repaying your father."
"We thank you. I will be sure to mention you to him. We must go now. Again thank you for your hospitality."
"We are glad to be able to help."
They all walked around to the front of the house. Elrohir went to get Ela, but she ran back and gave Fritzi a hug, then Meri.
She rambled off some words. They managed to pick out 'butterflies' and 'tummy'.
"I see she has met Rosa."
"We stopped there yesterday. Graden is a good friend."
"He is indeed that."
Elrohir managed to get Ela on the horse and swung up after her. Elladan took the knapsack and placed it on his saddle. They turned and waved farewell to the Halflings.