Ada's Jacket by WendWriter

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Story Notes:

Written for The Fireplace Writing Challenge: Turn a cliche on its head. I chose the Prankster Twins one.

Author's Chapter Notes:

"It's a big house, this, and very peculiar. Always a bit more to discover, and no knowing what you'll find around a corner. And Elves, sir! Elves here, and Elves there! Some like kings, terrible and splendid; and some as merry as children."

- Samwise Gamgee in Many Meetings, Fellowship of the Ring Book II.





The sun shone from a blue sky on the hidden realm of Rivendell. Elves wandered here and there in the gardens, making the most of the beautiful summer weather. Some of them had taken to the trees and were singing songs of praise to Yavanna the Fruitful. Others lay stretched out on the grass, breathing in the scent of the dog roses and honeysuckle that bordered the beech hangar and making garlands of the daisies and buttercups that flourished nearby.

One or two sat in shady spots under trees or on the verandah at the back of the Last Homely House reading books brought from the library.

Two little Elven boys were playing in the garden by the verandah under the watchful eye of Lothwen, their nurse. They ran around laughing and shouting in the sunshine without a care in the world. Eighteen year old twins, they looked to be about half that age because Elves came to maturity at fifty. They wore simple tunics and leggings, and were chasing butterflies with a net on a stick.

"Elladan!" cried one, "we already have a Painted Lady! Let that one go!"

"This one is bigger!" declared Elladan.

"Yes," said his brother, "but Ada told us to find as many different ones as we could, to write down their names and a description of them, and to let them go unharmed."

"Ai! Elrohir," pouted Elladan, "have we not found enough of them yet?"

"We have only caught five so far," said Elrohir. "Let us get at least five more."

"What about this one?" asked Elladan, pointing at a winged insect sitting on a buttercup.

"That is a moth," Lothwen informed them. "Do you remember what the difference between a butterfly and a moth is?"

The twins turned their identical faces towards her, frowning with concentration. "Moths rest with their wings spread," said Elladan.

"And butterflies rest with their wings closed," recited Elrohir.

"I am sure you will find another butterfly... look! There's one!" she called, pointing at a drab brown fellow who was fluttering towards her.

Elladan and Elrohir rushed headlong at the tiny creature, and Elladan swiped the net over it. "Got it!" he cried.

"Now bring it here, please," said Lothwen indulgently. Turning around, she went back to the verandah, where there there was a table and some chairs. On the table was a quill, an ink pot and two books. Both books were open. The larger of the two was illustrated with pictures of butterflies and other insects, and the other one was being used to log the creatures the twins were catching and releasing that day.

The twins rushed over with their prize and presented it to her.

"Do you remember what kind that one is without looking at the book?" asked Lothwen.

Elladan and Elrohir looked closely at the butterfly as it struggled in the net. "Spotted..." Elladan trailed off.

"Is it speckled?" asked Elrohir, hoping to be given a hint.

"You are right," said Lothwen.

"A Speckled Brown!" declared Elladan.

"Nearly there." encouraged Lothwen.

"A Speckled Wood!" Elrohir cried in triumph.

"Yes!" enthused Lothwen.

The lesson continued until the boys had caught a Purple Emperor, a Holly Blue, a Large Copper and a Clouded Yellow.

All too soon, the bell rang and they had to get ready for the midday meal.

Celebrían smiled as she put the last stitch in the embroidery on the neckline of the jacket she was working on. She was sitting on a large, comfortable chair on a balcony overlooking the garden where her sons were laughing and playing as they ran around catching butterflies. Words and phrases drifted up to her on the summer breeze: "Speckled Brown!" "Speckled Wood!"

Her mother's heart warmed with pride at her sons' growing knowledge of the world around them. Surely they would be as scholarly as her husband Elrond! They were little mirror images of him already. She looked critically at the jacket, checking for errors. No, it was perfect, every stitch in its place. The jacket was a pale fawn colour, and the threads were in different shades of brown. There were geometric patterns around the cuffs of the flared sleeves, on the collar and down the front. Elrond would wear this on ceremonial occasions - the work was far too fine for everyday wear. Regarding it critically, Celebrían decided that a little more embroidery around the buttonholes was called for, but the threads she needed to continue the work were not available yet.

While she was putting her needles and threads away, the dinner bell rang. She put the needlework box and the jacket away and made her way to the wash-room to attend to her sons.

"Nana, nana!" they chorused as she approached, "we caught ten butterflies and logged them in the book!"

"Did you catch five each?" she asked, knowing the answer already, but delighting in their pleasure and obvious sense of achievement.

"Yes!" said Elrohir, putting his small arms around his mother, his little face wreathed with smiles as he shared his enthusiasm with her. "I caught a Silver Spotted Skipper and a Painted Lady. Then I got a Swallowtail, a Wood White and a Brimstone."

"I caught a Speckled Wood, a Purple Emperor, a Holly Blue, a Large Copper and a Clouded Yellow!" said Elladan, clearly hoping not to be outdone. As he embraced her, his arms entwined with his brother's.

"They are very clever boys," Lothwen told her mistress. "And they were gentle with the butterflies, handling them carefully and releasing them afterwards."

"Well done, both of you," Celebrían said, hugging her sons, bending as she did so. Her fingers slipped into the ends of their long dark hair, which was braided in the style of their people. She kissed the tops of their heads, and took them by the hands to the wash-room to ready them for luncheon.

Afterwards, it was raining, and the boys found it hard to concentrate on their studies. They fidgeted all the way through their history lesson with Master Goledhel, who was teaching them about the Last Alliance.

"Then the high king Gil-galad... Elladan! What are you doing?" asked Master Goledhel, his tone betraying his exasperation.

"I dropped my quill, sir," replied Elladan, his grey eyes wide with innocence. He held up the item in question, hoping to be vindicated.

"Please be careful with your things," said Master Goledhel, his tone severe. "Gil-galad led his troops up the flanks of which mountain, Elrohir?"

"Orodruin, sir," said Elrohir, who was really not paying attention. He wanted to play. What good was all this dusty old history, anyway? Was it really that important?

"He led his troops up the flanks of the mountain and they took up offensive positions. Then who came out to fight?" asked the tutor.

"Sauron," said Elladan, whose memories of fireside tales had come to his rescue. He liked stories of battles.

"And who engaged him?" continued Master Goledhel.

"Elendil!" called Elrohir, taking some interest. Was there not a painting in the Gallery of Elendil in battle with Sauron?

Goledhel looked narrowly at the boys. "I will let you out early if you tell me the name of his sword, and what happened next," he announced.

"Narsil!" shouted Elladan.

"The sword was broken, but Isildur his son picked it up and cut the One Ring from Sauron's hand!"declared Elrohir.

"Hmm..." Goledhel drawled. "How was the sword broken?"

"Elendil fell, and broke his sword as he landed on it," Elladan called out, fidgeting. Master Goledhel had promised!

"Very well, then, you may go," said the tutor in defeated tones. "Tidy up before you leave, please."

The twins dutifully tidied up, accidentally smearing ink on their hands and the pages of their books as they hastened to leave the room. It was raining outside, but they might find something to do in the house.

Elrond was working in his study, and Celebrían had started work on a shirt for her husband. She and her ladies were in her work room, in which there was a spinning wheel, a loom, and boxes and baskets full of needles, threads, buttons and sewing tools. Lothwen was with her, waiting for the bell to chime the hour and alert her to her charges' lesson being over. Deep in conversation with her mistress, she was unaware of the twins peeping through the partly open door to see who was in the room.

"Lothwen is busy," said Elladan, "we should not disturb her."

"Yes," agreed Elrohir, "it is rude to interrupt adults when they are talking."

"What will we do? We have some time yet till the dinner bell rings," said Elladan.

"Hide and seek?" suggested Elrohir.

"Not that," said Elladan, with a pout. He pushed a door on the left of the corridor, but did not go into the room.

"What is that?" asked Elrohir, gazing at a pile of cloths of different sizes. He went inside the room, his curiosity pulling him in like a fish on a line.

"I do not think we are allowed in there," warned Elladan, but he followed his brother in there anyway.

Baskets of uniform size were lined up underneath a rack of shelves attached to the wall, laden with cloths of different shapes and sizes. Each basket had a label tied to one handle. Turning around, the boys noticed that the entire room was full of piles of cloths, some of which had been made into clothes and other items. Realms of possibilities opened in their young minds as they picked up some of the items. "Elladan," said Elrohir, "what do you think this long dark piece of cloth is for?"

Elladan looked quizzically at it, his little smooth brow furrowing. "It could easily be a cloak for a mysterious traveller," he declared. "A merchant? A warrior? A spy?"

Elrohir giggled. "Perhaps not. This bright yellow square might be made into a shirt for one of the princes here."

"This is a good game," Elladan told his brother. "Let us think of the uses these cloths could be put to."

"Yes!" agreed Elrohir. Now this was better than dusty old history! If Master Goledhel let them play the parts of Gil-galad and the heroes of the Last Alliance, they would enjoy his lessons, but as it was, he insisted they recite dates and write about their subjects.

At first they were cautious, putting each piece back where they found it, but as time went by, they grew bolder, dropping things wherever they pleased. Near the back of the room, they came across the jacket their mother had been working on earlier.

"Elladan!" called Elrohir, picking it up, "look at this!"

"It is beautiful!" beamed Elladan, taking the hem and holding it out. "A fine piece of work," he said, as if he knew what he was talking about.

"I shall try it on," said Elrohir, snatching it away putting his small hand into the left armhole. The more inquisitive and mischievous of the twins, he had less of the sensible reservation of his brother.

"I do not think you should do that, Elrohir," warned his brother, wary of the ink that stained their hands.

Elrohir ignored him and put it on anyway. "See how lordly I look in this!" he declared. He turned around, prancing proudly round the room as if he was a king or a great nobleman. "I need a headdress to wear with this - a crown of mithril, adamant and gold, sparkling with rubies, sapphires and... ai!" He looked at his brother for answers, a worried expression spreading across his face. "I have put ink stains on the jacket! I did not mean to! What can I do?"

Filled with horror, Elladan stepped back, then realized he was standing on an item dropped earlier. Wishing to rectify his error, he picked it up the cloth and, not knowing what else to do, he put it into one of the baskets in front of the shelves. "Take it off and put it in this basket," he instructed, pointing to the one he was referring to. "There are other things in here of a similar colour. Maybe it is for laundry."

As quickly as he could, Elrohir took off the jacket and put it in the basket, adding a few more pieces of cloth of a similar colour to cover it. "Let us go before we get into trouble," he suggested.

The two brothers raced to the door, opened it carefully, and looking furtively around, they exited as quietly as they could. They went to their playroom at once, and were innocently playing with their toy soldiers when Lothwen came in with their mother to ready them for the evening meal.

Later that evening, servants came to the room where the boys had been playing with the cloths and picked up the baskets to take them to the dyeing shed. Only the baskets that were full were taken, and one of the baskets they took was the one containing the fine jacket made by Celebrían for her husband.

In the dyeing shed were large tubs filled with water and dye. It was late in the evening, and the servants were eager to join their friends who were singing in the trees, so they did not look too closely at what they were dumping into the tubs. They certainly did not discern the fine jacket that fell into one of the two tubs in the shed that were being used that night.

The following day, the servants came to the dyeing shed to collect the cloths and hang them up to dry. One by one, the items were lifted from the tubs and draped over racks to dry. Baraha, one of the servants, lifted up the jacket Celebrían had made. "Ai!" she cried. "What can we do?"

The other two servants went over to see what the fuss was about. "What is it, Baraha?" they asked. "What is wrong?"

"Look!" Baraha wailed in alarm. She held the garment up with both hands, trembling. "Surely this jacket was not designed to be worn by a woman! The cut and shape are far too masculine. We will get into trouble when the lady finds out about this!"

"I can see why you might be concerned," said Dúlinn, trying to calm the situation, "but I believe it may well be considered acceptable for our lord. It is possible."

"No, I think not," said Gelir, "Baraha is right to be upset. I mean, can you imagine the conversation with our lady Celebrían about this?"

"Our lady..." began Dúlinn.

"Will be most displeased," said Baraha. "Gelir is right. This is how it will be: 'Ai! My husband's jacket! What have you done?' and we will say, 'We found it in the basket of cloths for dyeing, my lady.' And she will look at us like this..." Baraha did the best imitation she could of a furious Celebrían, squaring her shoulders and frowning fiercely, "...and say, 'Yes, but why in the world did you make it pink?'"

The End.


Chapter End Notes:

The labels on the baskets were to indicate what colour to dye the cloths. Those naughty boys didn't read the tag on the basket they put the jacket in. Besides, I couldn't think of any other way to use the compulsory end line. 



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