Always Been There
Chapter Two

Erestor tried, he really did. But the scrolls and books he had found on archery just could not hold his attention. Of course he had learned numerous things about arrows and wind trajectory and how to make the best bows, but the information did not inspire Erestor to run out trimming branches and sharpening arrowheads.

Sighing, Erestor closed the volume. Looking about his Nana’s garden, his small shoulders slumped. He was bored and lonely. It had been several days since he had seen his friend Glorfindel, since Glorfindel and Ecthelion has laughed at his assertion that he could become an archer from reading books.

Erestor wondered what the other Elflings were up to. He had seen Glorfindel and Ecthelion and the others in classes this morning, but none had spoken to him, and he spent lunch alone with his book. Erestor was just about to return to the house when he heard the whistle and thud of his neighbor practicing once again. Carrying his heavy book, Erestor again stepped through the trees into the clearing where the older Elf was posed. Erestor had discovered that the ellon's name was Legolas and that he was Captain of the palace archers. Erestor stood as silent as a mouse and watched as arrow after arrow hit the center of the target.

Finally Legolas noticed his audience. Lowering his bow, he smiled at the advisor’s son. "Maer aur, Erestor," he said. (Good Day)

Erestor bowed as he had been taught. "Suilad, Captain Legolas. I am sorry to disturb you," Erestor turned to leave the clearing, but was halted by Legolas’ voice. (Greetings)

"Nay, pen dithen, you do not have to run off." Legolas waited until Erestor drew nearer. "You have some interest in archery then, Erestor?" he asked. (Little One)

Erestor held out the book for Legolas’ inspection. "Well, I have been reading about it," he said. Erestor’s voice was not that enthusiastic something, the older Elf picked up on.

Legolas glanced down at the book.  Reaching down, he picked up his practice bow and held it out to the Elfling. "You know, Erestor, reading about archery and actually trying it for yourself are very different. Here, hold this and tell me what you think?" Legolas took the book and watched as the small Elf gingerly held the bow, which was twice as tall as the Elfling. Legolas hid his smile, knowing that it would hurt the young one's feelings.

Erestor gazed in awe at the tall bow. It felt so different than what he had expected. He looked up at Legolas. "It is light," he said in wonder. Reluctantly, Erestor handed it back to its owner and accepted his book in return. "Thank you, Captain." Erestor bowed formally.

Legolas regarded the small Elfling curiously. He thought he had a pretty good idea why Erestor was not with the other Elflings. He too had been small for his age. His own slender build and agility had served him well later as he developed into an archer, but as a child, he had suffered through his fair share of teasing and taunts. "Erestor, did you know that I train Elves about your age in Archery over at the guards' training fields?" Legolas saw the brief flash of interest before the Elfling lowered his head. "It is only one day a week, and I know your Ada would grant permission, if you are interested?" Erestor still did not meet Legolas’ eyes, his tiny dark head still lowered. Legolas tried once more. "Maybe you could come by first and just observe, see if it is something you might like to try?"

Erestor’s head whipped up and he smiled at Legolas, nodding his head in acceptance. Legolas’ breath caught seeing the beauty of the little ones smile. "Oh," he thought, "this one will break hearts."

Erestor fairly flew back to his home, anxious to share his exciting news. Erestor had barely made inside the house before Firingë was shooing him upstairs to wash. "B-but Nana," he tried to say.

"Erestor, you must hurry. Your Ada will be home soon and we have to be ready!" Firingë had to smile at the blank look upon Erestor’s face. "You forgot, did you not?"

Erestor paused on the steps leading to his quarters and tried to remember what his Nana was talking about. Laughing, Firingë walked to her son and reached up to pull a large leaf from Erestor’s hair. "We are joining your Ada at the palace this evening for dinner, remember?" she asked. One leisure day a moon, King Finwë would have all his advisors, captains, and their families to the palace for dinner. He liked to know each of his people and what their home lives were like; it was just one more reason why the King was so beloved of his subjects.

Erestor hugged Firingë, and returning her smile, he rushed upstairs while calling, "Sorry, Nana, I will be ready."

Erestor sorted through his tunics looking for the blue one he liked so much. He enjoyed these stately dinners. The conversations going on about him were interesting, and the adults paid more attention to him than was normal for children. His Ada’s colleagues enjoyed talking to the Elfling and exchanging views and opinions on what Erestor was currently reading. Even better, in Erestor’s mind, was that he would see Glorfindel this evening, and perhaps share with him the meeting with Legolas that would impress his friend!

Erestor stayed close to his Ada as they mingled with the crowds in the hall. All about them citizens of Tirion talked and laughed together. Erestor spied a flash of gold and looked up at his Ada, tugging his robe to receive his attention. When Hlárleru looked down, Erestor pointed off to a section where he had seen Glorfindel disappear to. Hlárleru reluctantly nodded and watched anxiously as his son raced away.

Erestor slowed once he reached the corner where Glorfindel, Ecthelion and the others were talking and laughing. He stood on the fringes, listening, waiting for someone to notice him. His smile was unsure as Ecthelion poked Glorfindel in the ribs and leaned in to whisper something to the blond. The pair laughed and for one moment Glorfindel looked over at Erestor before saying something back to Ecthelion and turning away. Erestor’s smile slipped from his face and he turned away about to leave when Ecthelion’s Nana came to fetch her son.

She smiled at Erestor and called to Ecthelion. Ecthelion, did you invite Erestor to your party?" she asked. Ignoring her son's frown and grumbling, she laid a gentle hand on Erestor’s shoulder and looked down into his dark eyes. "It is this coming leisure day, and you are welcome, Erestor. Ecthelion is celebrating his Begetting day, and I know he would want all his friends there."

Erestor did not bother correcting her. He was not Ecthelion’s friend, and he doubted very much that the other Elfling wanted him there. But Erestor was polite, courtesy deeply ingrained in him. He mumbled a 'thank you' and bowed to the Lady before moving away. The other Elflings watched him go, no longer laughing.

The rest of the evening was a blur for Erestor. He ignored the many voices around him, only speaking when asked a direct question. He remembered to greet everyone, bowing before the King and answering the questions regarding his studies and health, but nothing else. The night had lost all precious excitement it had promised. Erestor was silent also on the walk home. His parents glanced at him concernedly several times, but he took no notice. He accepted the hugs and kisses good night and went to his room, heart and mind heavy in reflection.

Erestor lay in his small bed staring blankly at the ceiling of his room. He needed to face facts, it seemed, and listen to what his Ada and Nana had been trying to tell him. Glorfindel no longer considered him a friend; the blond did not want anything to do with Erestor any longer. Erestor’s chest and throat were tight, but he had no more tears to shed it seemed. Glorfindel had always been to Erestor larger than life, his joy contagious; his heart seemed big enough for all. But perhaps Glorfindel just did not care for him any longer. They had sworn life-long friendship one season, but life-long only lasted one short turn of the moon. Then the games had started; talk had turned to warriors and fighting, who could run fastest, who was strongest.  Those things became important to Elflings who had previously valued quieter pursuits.

Erestor just did not understand. He did not care less for his friend because Glorfindel now preferred wooden toy swords to books. He still wanted his friend's company for walks and stories and discussions on life’s mysteries. Erestor frowned and tried to think back to their last times together. Had he insulted his friend and not realized it? They had been playing with cards in Glorfindel’s kitchen, Erestor had been winning, but he always won. Glorfindel had never been mad before over that. Then Ecthelion had come in, talking excitedly about an Elf who was showing the younger Elflings how to thrust a sword or something like that, and Glorfindel had hopped up and run off with Ecthelion, without even saying goodbye to Erestor. After that day, all Glorfindel and Ecthelion spoke of was becoming warriors, fighting beast, being Captains of the guards…

Erestor breathed deeply, his small chest rising steadily. He would not bother Glorfindel any longer, he decided. Maybe his friend only needed to miss Erestor, to realize that Erestor was not around anymore? But, Erestor bit his lip, he would miss not seeing his golden friend every day. With that sad thought running through his head, Erestor drifted off to sleep.

********

Erestor kept his resolve. Over the next days he avoided Glorfindel and the others. No longer did he stand on the fringes waiting for attention that never came. Instead, he started eating with the other Elflings who enjoyed books and had advisors and scholars as Adas. Lessons were well under way one morning, when the instructor called upon Glorfindel to solve a counting problem for the class. Erestor looked on with the rest of the class as Glorfindel’s face turned red and he mumbled out an excuse for the impatient teacher. Erestor did not laugh with the other "smart" children as the instructor scolded Glorfindel; he could never laugh at his former friend.

Erestor walked home alone, carrying his scrolls and books. He was rounding the curve heading to the path toward his home when he heard his name shouted. Erestor turned and watched, amazed, as Glorfindel ran to catch up with him.

"Erestor, wait a moment," Glorfindel gasped, face red from his run as he stopped in front of the smaller Elfling.

Erestor could not help the smile he gave Glorfindel. Glorfindel wanted to talk to *him*!

Glorfindel wrung his hands nervously and looked anxiously down at Erestor, his blue eyes beseeching. "Erestor, I was wondering..." Glorfindel stopped and his chest rose and fell as he took a deep breath. "I was wondering if you had finished the assignment for the counting homework?"

Erestor nodded and shuffled the numerous books in his arms. "Oh yes, Glorfindel. I finished last evening. Have you completed yours?" he asked, excited. Glorfindel was talking about lessons! He found the scroll containing his finished work, proudly showing it to the blond.

Glorfindel looked down at the perfect rows of numbers and calculations. "Well, see, I was wondering if I could borrow yours to look over." He quickly went on before Erestor could say anything, hands reaching for the scrolls and pulling them free from Erestor’s grip. "I just do not understand all the instructions, and I knew you would help me out." Glorfindel folded the paper inside his tunic, not noticing that it became crumbled. He patted Erestor on the arm and turned, racing off, calling over his shoulder. "Thank you, Erestor."

Erestor stared after Glorfindel, a smile lighting his features, the first one in days he had offered to anyone. See, he thought, he had been wrong. Glorfindel was still his friend.

To be continued...