Flet Building

by Jay of Lasgalen

Stories > Jay's Quick List

The sound of uncertain, uneven hammering, punctuated by identical voices raised in furious discussion drifted through the still evening air.  Celebrían listened idly, wondering what new venture her sons were planning now.

She had long since recognised a familiar pattern to the twins’ hobbies.   One of them would embark on a new interest, and then enthuse, coerce or browbeat the other into joining in – who then participated with all the zealous fervour of a convert.  Then, before long, the exciting activity lost some of its appeal – usually when they found they could not become expert players of the harp in the space of a week, or could not learn enough Khuzdul to be able to read the Dwarvish histories now; and by mutual agreement – interspersed with fierce argument and disagreement – the idea was abandoned.    As they grew older, the schemes were growing more ambitious and sometimes a little more dangerous, but the underlying patterns changed little.

The careful hammering was replaced with a softer, fleshier sound, and a yelp of pain.  Celebrían’s eyes widened as a stream of colourful curses reached her.  “Elrohir?  she called sharply.  “Is that you?”

There was a heavy silence, then:  “Mother?  I didn’t know you were there.”

“Obviously not,”  she responded dryly.  “What are you doing?”

A head appeared through the leaves above her.  “We’re building a flet,”  Elrohir explained.

“Like the ones in Lórien,”  Elladan added, appearing beside his brother.

“But it’s not working,”  Elrohir concluded with a scowl.  “And I hit my thumb with the hammer.”  The last words were muffled as he sucked the end of his abused thumb.  “It was Elladan’s fault.”  He jerked the uninjured thumb over his shoulder at his brother.

“It was not,”  Elladan protested amiably.

Elrohir grunted.  “You distracted me when you dropped that plank.”

“I didn’t drop it, it fell,”  Elladan retorted.  “There’s a difference.”

Celebrían interrupted hurriedly, before the dispute could degenerate into an argument.  “Why are you building a flet?”

Elladan and Elrohir regarded her with identical expressions of surprise.  “Why not?”  Elrohir asked simply, with his usual devastating logic.

“We want to be able to sleep in the trees and look at the stars,”  Elladan continued.

“Like we did when we were in Lórien,”

“When it’s the Mid Summer festival,”   Elladan concluded.

Elrohir sighed.  “But it won’t be finished in time if we can’t build it properly!”

Celebrían stared up at them in exasperation, wondering if they were truly her offspring.  “You cannot build a flet?  Why not?  It is a simple enough task!  Let me see.”  She joined them in the tree and surveyed the chaos.  There was a tangled spider’s web of rope, a jumble of planks and oddly shaped pieces of wood, and a scattering of nails, hammers and saws.

“I made a sketch of what it should look like,”  Elrohir added, as he salvaged a few crumpled sheets of paper from the debris.  “And I drew a plan.  But he says it doesn’t make sense!”  He scowled at Elladan again.

“Let me see,”  Celebrían repeated.  She took the sketch from Elrohir and studied it.   The drawing showed a walled structure nearly as grand as the great hall of Imladris.  Elrohir had drawn a view of the interior of this magnificent flet as well.  The chamber was filled with a soft light; its walls were green and silver and its roof of gold.   It was beautifully detailed, worthy of a king of men – and totally impractical.  Elrohir had always had marvellous ideas, but they tended to be a little over-ambitious.

Elladan joined her, peering over her shoulder.  He waved Elrohir’s plan at her.  “You see?”  he demanded.  “It doesn’t make sense!  That,” – he indicated a mark on the plan – “should be over there!”  He pointed to a Y-shaped branch next to them, then gave Elrohir a superior look.  “You cannot even design a flet, little brother!”

Celebrían studied the diagram with a frown, comparing it with the reality before her.  She had to admit that it bore little resemblance to what she saw.  Then her expression cleared, and she turned the plan around.  “Elladan,”  she said sweetly.  “Does this make more sense?  It helps if you have the plan the right way up.”

Elrohir gave a crow of laughter.  “He had it upside down?  No wonder it didn’t make sense!"

Celebrían ignored him.  Stepping carefully from one branch to another, she discarded the complicated plan and studied the tree itself.  “Your drawing is wonderful, but it will never work.  The idea is too complex,”  she announced.  “You need to keep it simple.  You will need supports here and here,”  she instructed, pointing to four sturdy branches.  “Then attach the planks for the floorboards to the supports, not to the branches themselves.  That way, you will not harm the tree, and the flet will be stronger.  You do not need walls – this should not be a house.   And you will not need a railing – the tree will not let you fall!”

Elladan and Elrohir regarded her with identical expressions of astonishment.  “You know how to build a flet?”  Elrohir asked in disbelief.

“I grew up in Lothlórien,”  she pointed out.  “Of course I know how to build a flet.  Most of the children there have built their own.  You do not need plans or diagrams – you need to look at the tree!”

Elrohir cast a last longing look at his drawing, then shrugged.  “Your idea sounds easier to build,” he admitted.

“And it would be quicker!”  Elladan agreed.  “We could finish it tomorrow, and sleep up here tomorrow night!”

They turned away, and began to work together – harmoniously for once – to fix one of the support cross-beams in place.  “Thank you, mother!”

Celebrían left them to their task as the sound of hammering resumed.  She had barely reached the ground when there was a thud and a yell of pain.  She winced.

“El, you idiot!  Be careful – that was my thumb!”

The End

Stories > Jay's Quick List