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The First Snowdrop
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Author’s Notes:
This is a fluffy romance story, written as an answer to the Edhellond group’s Valentine Day challenge. It is also a missing scene of my endlessly-ongoing story, “Innocence”, happening after Chapter 6: Stirring of Hearts – Lalaith. The year itself has been chosen randomly and is of no particular importance.
The flower’s name is borrowed from the Quenya Botany of David Salo and Helge Fauskanger. Regular readers of “Innocence” know that – due the unusual circumstances of his childhood – Quenya actually is Lindir’s first tongue, that is why I chose the Quenya names.
My heartfelt thanks go to Jenn for beta-reading.
Dedication: for Casey Toh, who wanted an Elven romance.


~~~

THE FIRST SNOWDROP
by Soledad


[Imladris, during the stirring season of the year 679 in the Third Age]

Elrohir had begun to ask himself if Lindir was deliberately avoiding him.

Of course, the young Elf was usually hard to find at this time of the loa anyway. Too many people wanted his help finding the first snowdrop to give to their beloved ones. For no one knew the hidden places of the Valley as well as Lindir – not even Elrond, who was the Master of it.

Yet Elrond had less time to stroll around his home and look into every little dell than did the young minstrel who had little else to do after finishing his appointed work as the Lord’s scribe and practicing his music. And he had an advantage over every one else: he was close friends with the birds of the Valley, and they told him of all the hidden places and tiny flowers that not even keen Elven eyes could have found without their help.

Particularly friendly was Lindir’s relationship with the thrushes of the Greenwood, who usually flew westwards over the Hithaeglir, to sit out the harsh winter in the better protected dale of Imladris. He understood their tongue, of course – that much could be expected from someone who had been raised by Aiwendil, the Bird-tamer in the years of his childhood. So, ‘twas no wonder that Lindir always managed to find the first snowdrop, before every one else.

This made him particularly sought after at this time of year. All male Elves wanted his help to find that very first “white tear” breaking through the frozen winter soil, for it had been an Ages-old custom among the Silvan folk, brought to the Valley by the Lady Celebrían, that every self-respecting male would try to gift this tiny symbol of new life upon his soul-mate.

Lindir usually let himself be talked into helping, and he chose a different Elf every year, so there would be no hurt feelings among his friends. The only ones who got their chance more than once were Elrond himself – and, of course, Elrohir, his closest friend, who had been floating on the clouds of a still-young love for quite some years. Thus he could reasonably hope that Lindir would aid him again in finding the first snowdrop for the Lady Aquiel.

Yet Lindir was no-where to find, and after a while Elrohir gave up his hopes of locating the minstrel. When Lindir wanted to become invisible, he could do so very well. He was more at home among the tree-branches than any one else in Imladris, moved without the slightest noise even upon snow, and beasts and birds cooperated with the trees and bushes in hiding him, if he asked them to do so.

Elrohir sighed, accepting the fact that he might not be able to gift Aquiel with the first snowdrop again. He turned back toward the Great House feeling a little dispirited and wondered to whom Lindir had decided to give his help this year.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In a far-away part of the Valley covered with a thick layer of snow remaining from the recent winter, Lindir of Rhosgobel kneeled on the frozen soil. He was clad in warm, fur-lined winter clothes, for the air still was very chilly, even in the hidden valley of Elrond, and the wind had kissed his usually pale cheeks shining red.

Reddened, too, were his slender hands, cradling a small, delicate flower that looked like a tiny silver bell hung on a green cord. The fresh green of its stem was so harsh, so full of life in the midst of the white snow desert of the winter landscape that it almost hurt the eye. The narrow petals were formed like white teardrops, indeed. It was hard to believe that this fragile little plant had been able to break through the frozen winter soil.

Nieninqe,” Lindir murmured lovingly, “you have come again. I have been waiting for you with longing. May your tears soften his beloved heart, frozen by too much loneliness and suffering. You shall be my herald in this very fight.”

With that, he pulled a broad-bladed kitchen knife from his belt and began to dig.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Later that same evening, Erestor, the seneschal of Imladris, was returning from the Feasting Hall where the community of the Valley had welcomed coirë into their lives again. There had been much guessing about who would be the one to receive the first snowdrop, for many of them had seen Lindir running back to the House with reddened cheeks, but shining eyes, yet no-one could answer this much-asked question, and the young minstrel himself would not tell them, his only answer being an enigmatic smile.

After the food had been eaten and all the songs had been sung, Erestor found that he did not even want to know. This particular feast was not his favourite, making him feel his loneliness even more than at other times. So at the first possible occasion he begged Elrond to be excused, saying that he needed to prepare some things for the next day.

Elrond, of course, knew well enough ‘twas not true, yet he allowed him to leave nevertheless. Erestor slipped out of the Hall unseen (or so he thought) and hurried down the corridor to the west wing where both he and Lindir had their chambers – he because he was considered part of the family and Lindir because he was Erestor’s charge and therefore needed to be near him.

He was surprised to see soft light spilling out from under the door of his study. He could not remember having lit the candles before leaving for the feast. Though between all the recent day’s work and his distracting feelings it could have happened, after all.

When he entered the room, his breath caught in a sudden gasp. The sweet scent of beeswax candles filled his study, their flames giving the otherwise sober room a misty golden glow. And in the middle of his cleared desk a small earthenware pot stood, not bigger than his two hands cupped together. It was filled with the black soil of the Lady Celebrían’s garden, and the calyx of the first snowdrop trembled in the golden light like a fragile silver bell just before its first ringing.

~Fin~

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
loa = the seasonal year of the Elven calendar; it has six seasons of different length
Hithaeglir = the Misty Mountains in Sindarin
Aiwendil = Radagast the Brown, one of the wizards
nieninqe = snowdrop (literal meaning: white tear)
coirë = the 54-day stirring season (between winter and spring)

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