Author: Linda Hoyland
Theme: Adolescent Angst
Elements: Worry about personal appearance (Could be anything from worrying about a blemish, to fear of being too heavy or too thin, too tall or short, or anything that makes him or her different.)
Author's Notes: With thanks to Deandra
Summary: Gilraen is puzzled by Estel’s strange behaviour
Word Count: 1046
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
Gilraen studied her reflection carefully in the looking glass. Her dark blue gown complemented her grey eyes and she looked every inch the widow of a Chieftain. It was not often that she chose to join Master Elrond for dinner and for entertainment in the Hall of Fire afterwards, but when she did, she liked to look her best. She hoped Arathorn would be proud of her.
Today, the sons of Elrond had brought her letters from her mother and sister in the Angle and knowing that they were well made her feel that she had cause for celebration. She missed them dreadfully, but the letters made them feel less far away.
She made her way to her son’s rooms. At 13, her little boy was fast growing up and was already old enough for his own rooms and to escort his mother to dinner. She called to him, “Estel, are you ready?”
Estel’s voice called back. “I don’t think I want to come down to the Hall of Fire tonight. I have a great deal of studying to do. Please can I have a tray sent up to my room.”
Gilraen shook her head in bewilderment. Usually, Estel would make any excuse not to have to sit poring over his lesson books. She put her head around her son’s door, but could not see him. “Are you well, my love?” she enquired.
“I am quite well; I just don’t want to come down tonight.” Estel’s voice called from the small bathing chamber within. You should go now, Mother, you do not wish to be late.”
Still shaking her, head, Gilraen left her son to his own devices. Maybe it was his age? Her sister had a few years ago written about how her sweet-natured Halbarad had become a moody young man. In her latest letter, Inzilbeth had reported that such moods were now long since behind him and he was out patrolling with the Rangers and already a valued member of their ranks. Gilraen sighed. Estel had always been of a sweet nature and sunny disposition. She hoped that was not about to change.
She made her way to the kitchens and the cook readily agreed to send up a meal to her son. Gilraen tried to put his odd behaviour from her mind and concentrate on the fine foods and wines being served and then later on the minstrels’ sweet voices.
It was late when the evening’s entertainment was finally concluded. As was her custom, Gilraen went to bid her son goodnight. His rooms were in darkness, save for a single low burning lamp. Again, that was unusual, Estel never wanted to go to bed when told and always pleaded to be allowed to stay up longer to read the tales of the heroes of long ago.
Gilraen tiptoed over to Estel’s bed. He was lying concealed under the bedclothes. Gilraen bent to kiss the top of his head, the only part of him that was visible then made her way to her own chambers to prepare for bed.
The next morning, Gilraen awoke early. Her good mood from the day before still lingered and she dressed swiftly. It promised to be a fine day and she wanted to gather lavender from the gardens. She loved to make lavender bags to keep her clean linens sweetly scented. It reminded her of home.
She was surprised not to find Estel already at the breakfast table in the dining room they shared. On fine mornings, her boy liked to be up early to practise swordplay or archery before his lessons with his tutors. Perhaps he was sleeping later today, though. A growing boy needed plenty of sleep.
Gilraen began to eat the breakfast that a servant brought for her, expecting Estel to appear any moment. When she had finished eating and there was still no sign of Estel she began to get worried.
Leaving her final cup of tea untouched, she went to Estel’s rooms and called to him. “Estel, are you awake?”
“Hurry up and come to breakfast then or you will be late for lessons.”
“I would rather eat in my room and I ask to be excused lessons today.”
“Whatever is the matter?”
“Nothing, I just don’t want to leave my room.”
Gilraen did not reply. Instead, she pushed open the door and strode into the room. Estel sat hunched on the bed fully dressed. He did not look at her. “Estel, you cannot miss lessons without a good reason. If you are ill, tell me and I will fetch Master Elrond.”
“I can’t come out today.” Estel said in a woeful tone of voice. He still did not look at her.
“Look at me, Estel!” Gilraen demanded. Slowly and reluctantly, the boy turned to face her. “That’s better, now tell me what is the matter.”
“This,” said Estel miserably, pointing to a large red spot on his chin.
Gilraen supressed the urge to laugh. Instead, she drew her son close and hugged him. “It is just a spot, my love.”
“It looks hideous! The Elves never have any such thing! They will all laugh at me.”
“I doubt they will even notice,” said Gilraen. “I fear such spots are simply a part of growing up for Men. I recall having them all over my face when I was your age. It was the time of the Mettarë celebrations and I felt too ashamed to go, but my mother insisted I must. When I got there, I found several of the other maidens were also afflicted. You will be more fortunate than I, though, as I expect Master Elrond will have a salve that will make your spot go away quickly.”
“I am certain he will. My mother told me that I should rejoice when the spots appeared, as they were the first sign that I was growing up. Your spot is a sign that you will soon be a man.”
Estel smiled. “I want to be a man so I can take care of you and make you proud of me.”
Gilraen kissed his brow. “But, I am already proud of you. Now come and have some breakfast and then we will go to Master Elrond.”