Elrohir pulled another row of books from the top shelf, blew the dust off them, and sneezed.
Elrohir scowled. “Shut up, El. This is all your fault. If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be cleaning the library like this.”
“It was your idea – why do I always get blamed as well?” Elrohir continued in a well-worn complaint.
“Erestor thinks you should have stopped me,” Elladan pointed out.
Elrohir snorted. “Does he know what ‘impossible’ means?” he enquired, as he passed another pile of books down to Elladan. “Dust these,” he ordered. “And pass me the cloth.” He cleaned the shelf, wiping away years of dust and cobwebs. A large spider scuttled away from him, retreating into the deepest recesses of the shelf. He retrieved it carefully in cupped hands and dropped it onto Elladan’s head, ignoring the squawk that rose up from the foot of the ladder. “No one has dusted behind these books for years! It’s filthy up here – spiders and cobwebs and everything.”
“I noticed,” Elladan said sourly.
Elrohir grinned, and reached into a dark corner to retrieve a stray book that had fallen to the back of the shelf. Wiping off a thick layer of dust, he grimaced. “Ugh. This is going mildewy.”
“Well, get rid of it, then. It will affect the others.”
“In a moment.” Elrohir opened the book cautiously, wondering how badly damaged it was. It was old, the pages thin and brittle. The ink was so faded it was almost illegible, and the cover was worn and stained. Some of the pages were loose where they had come away from the binding.
It was a book of ancient poetry, clearly much read and once much loved. He peered at the writing, wondering who it had belonged to, and how it had come to be forgotten here. Some of the verses were familiar, but others were unknown, and he hungered to read more. As he turned it in his hand the pages fell shut and he saw the inside of the cover. There was a name inscribed there, in a round, youthful hand – the original owner, perhaps. He squinted at it – and nearly dropped the book in his surprise.
Elrohir slid down the ladder, landing in a cloud of dust at the foot. “Look at this!” he exclaimed, showing the fragile book to Elladan. “I have just had a brilliant idea – but we will need Erestor’s help.”
“Erestor? I think he is unlikely to agree to anything we ask him at the moment,” Elladan pointed out.
“He will for this,” Elrohir assured him. “Look.” He pointed to
the name. “I know what to give Glorfindel for his begetting day.”
Cornered in his office, Erestor eyed them both with grim disapproval. “And why would I do anything to help you?” he enquired.
“Not for us – for Glorfindel,” Elrohir explained. “Please, Erestor?”
Erestor regarded them for a few long moments, his mouth twitching. Then he sighed and nodded, as Elrohir knew he would. No matter how annoyed he might be, Erestor could generally be persuaded – usually against his better judgement – to help them. “Very well. What is it you want me to do?”
Glorfindel’s begetting day came two weeks later. Elladan and Elrohir entered the hall late to find Glorfindel sitting alone among the deserted tables, enjoying a last cup of tea.
“Good morning, Glorfindel. Happy begetting day!”
“We would have been here before,” Elladan continued.
“But we wanted to catch you alone,” Elrohir finished.
Glorfindel looked up at them with a smile. “Good morning, Elrohir, Elladan. Will you join me?”
Elrohir nodded, and he and Elladan sat on the opposite bench. He slid a flat, rectangular parcel across the table “Happy begetting day!”
He watched anxiously as Glorfindel unfolded the stiff parchment to reveal a small book bound in leather and embossed with gold leaf. Glorfindel traced the emblem of a golden flower with one finger and smiled at the twins. “Thank you. This is lovely.”
“Open it!” Elrohir urged.
Glorfindel opened the book as instructed, and Elrohir held his breath. Over the last two weeks each poem in the book he had found had been carefully and painstakingly transcribed, and each page illustrated with birds, animals and flowers, or with scenes from the verses. Glorfindel began to read, then turned to another page, and another. Finally he looked up. “Thank you,” he whispered, and Elrohir let out his breath in relief. “You cannot know what this means to me. But how …”
Elladan gave him the book they had found. “El found this when we were cleaning the library. We realised it was yours, and had this idea. El copied the poems and I did the drawings. And Erestor helped us to bind it for you.”
Glorfindel took the stained, tattered book from Elladan, turning it carefully in his hands. “This was mine in Gondolin – a gift from my parents,” he breathed. “I carried it everywhere with me.”
“But how did it come to be here?” Elrohir asked.
Glorfindel stared into the past at a distant memory. “I lent it to Idril. She must have brought it with her at the end – people snatched up whatever was nearest to hand when we fled, not necessarily the most vital things. And somehow – despite everything – it came here.”
He fingered the crisp, new pages lovingly, and then turned to the front page. There, as before, was his name; simple and succinct – but with a warming, welcoming change.
Glorfindel of Gondolin
Glorfindel of Imladris