Title: Infinity, and Beyond
Rating: PG-13 (for light swearing)
Theme: September 2010- Back to School
Beta: None (shh, don't tell...)
Author's Notes: Standalone; Bunniverse compatible. Thanks to Chris (whom I do not know) for the inspiration for the song at the beginning. Thanks to Lalaith Raina for the help with an elvish equivalent of 'wow' and for getting me to get this written in time. I really need to stop writing these the night before they're due... I'm too much like Elladan... that will make sense upon reading...
Summary: Elladan and Elrohir have a research paper and a final exam that are upcoming. Each takes their own approach to scholarly pursuits.
Word Count: 3148
“El-lad-en has got to ac-tually do some home-woooooork. El-lad-en is woefully far be-hiiiiiiiiiind. El-lad-en has got to ac-tually do some home-wooooooork---“
“Because Elladan’s driving Elrohir out of his mind!”
Grinning as he sharpened his quills (that really needed no sharpening from their lack of use), Elladan looked over the work that his brother was doing. “Come now, I thought you were good enough to write your papers in the midst of a war if you had to.”
“I want this to be perfect. Unlike you, my goal is not to simply pass my classes. I would like to maintain my position at the top of the class.” Elrohir dipped the nub of his pen into his ink carefully and slid it out from the jar. “I would ask you if you think eight references are enough for the final research paper Master Erestor is requiring for First Age History of the Eldar, but I have a feeling you plan to write yours without a single citation.”
“I will have you know I plan to use many citations,” rebuked Elladan as he pulled a fresh sheet of paper to settle over the guide paper that would allow him to keep his lines straight. Elrohir used no such guide, and had not since their younger days in primary classes. He dipped his quill with less caution and as he scrawled the title across the page, a few errant drops of ink found their way across the otherwise pristine sheet.
Elrohir shifted his paper a little more to the right, despite them having separate desks. “I never saw you check any books or scrolls out from the library,” he accused. “You are not using my sources, are you?”
“No.. should I?”
“NO!” Elrohir, who had stacked the books beneath his desk, put one leg to either side of the pile and kept his calves protectively gripped upon them, just in case his brother should think to grab for a book. “What are you using for references?”
“Glorfindel and Adar. I interviewed them. I asked grandmother a few questions, too.”
“Primary sources! Oh, buggers!” Elrohir stabbed his quill back into his ink disdainfully. “I completely neglected to find a primary source! Master Erestor will certainly take off points despite my efforts.”
“I could tell you about what I found out, if you like,” offered Elladan. “Maybe you could use some of that?”
“I doubt that.” Elrohir chewed his lip and stared at his document as he listed to Elladan scribble his last-minute paper and hum the melody of the tune he had sung earlier. “What is your thesis statement?”
Elrohir sighed. He really need not worry about his grade, especially if Master Erestor used a curve. Nonetheless, he still wanted to be sure his report was the best. “What is your paper about?”
“I am writing mine on the weaponry of the First Age.”
“So... you are taking more of an informative approach, then.” Elrohir peered over to try to see what his brother was writing. When another stray splotch of ink came dangerously close to his arm, he moved back. “I doubt I can use any of your information. Besides, then it becomes secondhand from them to you to me.”
“What is yours about?” asked Elladan. He sped through the rest of the page and grabbed another.
Instead of cautioning his brother to slow down, Elrohir replied, “The Dominance of Elvenkind in the First Age and the Diminishment of Elven Cultural in Subsequent Ages.”
Elladan paused. “How are you going to fit that into five pages?”
“Five pages is the minimum,” scolded Elrohir. “Thus far, I am at twelve.”
“Right. I should have known that.” Elladan looked down at his sheet. “Do you think I could get away with filling up one or two of the pages with drawings?”
“Erestor would call that supplementary, so, no.”
“Damn.” Elladan continued writing. “Maybe you could find Glorfindel before the Cosmology final exam tonight and ask him a few questions for yours.”
“Double buggers!” Elrohir began to clean up his desk, hastily putting away the various colors of ink he had been using to mark footnotes and examples. “I meant to meet with my study group before supper! I hope I am not too late! I really need to check over all of the equations and theories before that exam.”
“The exam is open book,” reminded Elladan, who looked much less concerned. “Besides, everyone knows that class is just an excuse to get out of a day class to have an evening class,” he added while Elrohir frantically scrambled about to gather the items necessary for his study group and anything else he might need later so as not to need to return to their quarters.
Elrohir yanked a drawer of his dresser out and fished around for a thick pair of stockings in case it was a cold night. “You might have taken the course for that reason, but I am actually interested in being able to apply science and philosophy to a subject that should be of interest to everyone.” He stuffed a scarf into his bag as well, just in case. “See you later, El.”
“Have fun with your study group, El.” Elladan waited until the door was closed, and then curiously pulled one of the books from the pile that Elrohir had been guarding. “Oh, ick, this is written in Sarati!” He tossed it back onto the pile and began writing again in good old Tengwar.
Several hours later, forty-three students were sitting upon long benches at tables that were situated beneath a large tent in the courtyard. There was a smaller tent not too very far away that was set up with one table and two chairs that looked very comfortable compared to the wooden benches. There was also a tall slateboad that had been wheeled out to the courtyard earlier. It was draped with a thin, dark sheet, just thick enough to muffle the words on the board, but not too heavy so that things might be wiped away accidentally.
“Before we begin,” said Glorfindel, “a few rules of etiquette. Obviously, cheating is not permissible. If you have need to leave the testing area for any reason, you must have one of the proctors escort you from the area. If you have any questions about one of the questions, direct your questions to either Master Erestor or myself, not to your fellow students.”
Master Erestor had been distributing the test booklets to everyone (he gave two to Elrohir before the pupil could ask), and now joined Glorfindel beside the slate board. “You will have three hours to write your essays. There are six questions; you are only required to write on four of them. If you write the additional questions, we will grade each one and throw out the lowest scores, so writing one or two extras might be to your advantage if you have the time. When you have finished, please bring your exam to us. We will be circulating until people begin to finish, at which time we will begin to grade the exams.”
“Finally, before we begin, you may have noted the commotion at the other end of the field,” motioned Glorfindel. “Since this is the final class for most of you, we felt it might be nice to have a little party afterward. For those of you who still have papers to finish for First Age History or Sociology of Ents and Elves, we have both decided to allow an additional week for those to be turned in.” There was applause from some, and relieved sighs from others. “So – no rushing, for I expect the festivities to continue well into the early hours, but we have cakes and sweet rolls and... what else did we order for the evening?”
“Marble cake with chocolate frosting, strawberry cake, raspberry sponge cakes, all sorts of sweets, and enough cheesecake to choke a horse. In fact,” added Erestor, “everyone is required to take something home with them.”
“I will be personally responsible for the cheesecake,” replied Glorfindel, helping to lighten the mood just a bit.
“Are we ready? Does anyone have any questions?” Erestor waited a moment, and then gave a nod. “Three hours; take your time,” he added before taking hold of the sheet and pulling it down from the board.
Elrohir took a deep breath and slowly read through all of the questions first.
Question One: There are two commonly accepted theories for the increasing distance between Arda and the Stars. Eresse’s Theory states that the Stars themselves are moving away from Arda. The Theory of Laurefinde assumes that the entirety of the Universe is expanding, and thus the Stars do not move, but rather are pushed away from the expanse of the Universe. Choose a theory and state at least two principles which support this theory, as well as one reason this theory could be disputed.
Question Two: Describe your personal belief as to the darkness that exists beyond the Stars. You may use scientific or religious beliefs, or a combination if you choose.
Question Three: Is the Universe finite or infinite? Explain.
Question Four: What is quintessence? Give an example.
Question Five: What is the curvature of the Universe? How do you know this? (Because Master Erestor or Lord Glorfindel told me is not an acceptable answer.)
Question Six: What is the most important object in the Universe?
As he read through them, Elrohir smiled a bit at the fifth question, and then frowned upon reading the sixth. The philosophical part of the course was not his forte, and he immediately decided against questions two and six to begin with. He worked through the first question and the third during the first hour, then quickly answered question four, checking in his text to be sure he had recalled the definition correctly. By the time he reached the fifth question, over half of the other students, including his brother, had already turned their exams in.
Elrohir looked back down to his booklet (he was on the second one already), and reread his answers on the four questions he had selected. He made a few minor corrections as he went along, then jumped into question two and answered it without thinking too deeply. Though he was confident with his other four questions, having an extra was always a good backup plan.
He closed the booklet and looked around. Only three others were still there, furiously writing and glancing up quite a lot to look down into the field where many of their peers were making merry. Elrohir smiled and his stomach grumbled slightly at the thought of food – he had intended to have supper, but skipped the meal to continue studying. He began to rise, and stretched his back and his arms as he did so, finding them stiff from sitting so long.
Then he looked at the slate board, where number six stood, like a lone orc in the distance.
He could ignore it. He had done enough already. Or had he? Would that one he let get away be the unanswered question that might have scored him higher? Did it matter? Did he have to do them all?
Elrohir sank back down as another student stood and hurried to the tent where their instructors sat. He picked up his quill and sat for a few minutes staring at the board.
He imagined what his brother might have written for the same question. Possibly, his brother had cheekily written his own name, or taken the accepted approach of naming Eru or Arda as being the most important. And this is why Elrohir hated such questions; there never seemed to be an easy answer, or for that matter, there never seemed to be an answer. Not one that could be graded as correctly, at least, for how arrogant would that be, to claim to know the answer to such a question?
Thus, his question was answered, and he wrote his thoughts upon the final blank page of the second book, then closed it again. Satisfied, he carried the books to the other tent, and waited behind another student to turn them in.
“Last, as always,” remarked Glorfindel as the booklets were given to him. “Do I hold here the best as well?”
“I certainly hope you do,” said Elrohir, finding himself more nervous now than he was when the test began.
Seeming to sense this, Erestor reached over and took one of the booklets from Glorfindel, pushing aside the one he had been reading. “Shall we grade yours now, and save you the trouble of coming in the morning to learn your grade from the posting?”
“Yes, please,” said Elrohir with a sigh of relief.
Erestor nodded. “Might you do me a favor to dismiss the proctors and finish the collecting of the ink and quills.”
“The board can also be wiped clean and returned to the house.”
“Yes, sir.” Elrohir walked away, the sound of his heart thumping in his ears as he approached Melpomaen and Lindir and gave them the message of dismissal from Erestor. They were only too glad to join the festivities going on elsewhere and leave their final duties to Elrohir. For his part, Elrohir was careful to check the caps of the ink and to wipe clean the quills and arrange them back into the trays they came from. He took these to the house first and delivered them to the office in the basement that was shared by Glorfindel and Erestor, then came back for the slate board. He even folded the cloth used as a cover and took this to the office as well.
When he had finished with all of these tasks, he walked slowly back to the table, though when Glorfindel motioned for him to join them he quickened his pace. “Good job,” he said as soon as Elrohir was standing before them. “A perfect score, as expected.”
“Good idea to write those extras, though,” added Erestor as he marked the grade on the front of the first booklet. “Your first question was thrown out, and your answer to the second question was written very hastily.”
“What was wrong with the first question?” It seemed unnecessary to ask considering his passing grade, but one never learns without asking questions.
Erestor opened the booklet and skimmed through it again. “You discount both theories, without giving a valid alternative. That hardly counts as choosing one.”
“But I think they are both... flawed,” he chose, realizing he was not just disputing an answer, but quite possibly was insulting them both. “Unfortunately, I am not enough of an expert to offer another solution.”
“Your brother was able to,” interrupted Glorfindel before Erestor was able to respond. Glorfindel looked quite smug about this, for it was well-known that while Erestor had taken Elrohir under his wing, it was Glorfindel who took responsibility for Elladan’s tutelage. It was thoroughly rewarding in moments such as this.
“My brother?” Elrohir shook his head. “What did he come up with?”
“Ask him; it is quite interesting. If it was meant to be a joke, well, it failed miserably and makes him look quite brilliant,” admitted Erestor.
“I see.” Elrohir could hear music coming from down the field now, as Lindir had brought out his lute and someone had begun a ring of dancers. Most likely, his brother. “Well, thank you.” He started to leave, but was called back again.
Glorfindel and Erestor exchanged a look as Elrohir stood questioningly before them. Finally, Erestor asked, “How did you decide upon your answer for the sixth question?”
“I...” Elrohir felt his face flush. Philosophy was indeed a believed weakness, and he wondered if his teachers suspected cheating in some way. “It just seemed like the right answer. Well, the best answer,” he corrected himself. “It seems like a question with no answer.”
“And that is what you have written,” agreed Erestor, opening the booklet. “ ‘I do not know.’ “
“The answer is brilliant,” Glorfindel assured him. “However, one does not often receive such an answer from one so young.”
Elrohir shrugged. “I just thought, well, Eru is the one who controls everything. Or rather,He created everything, and what He did not create, was created by something that created Him. So He knows everything that there is, and the importance of everything that there is.”
“Correct. Many of your peers would agree with your statement; thus, they named Eru as their answer,” revealed Erestor.
“I am not Eru. They are not Eru. While we might think Eru is the most important thing, only Eru knows if He is or not, and whether He wants to be or not. That is, we might believe Eru to be the most important thing, but we do not know. Only He knows. And only He can answer that question.”
Erestor leaned back in his chair, while Glorfindel turned towards his colleague with an expression that crossed disbelief with utter awe. It seemed that he had caused both of his teachers to become speechless, which finally resolved when Erestor said, “I am.. beyond impressed,” he settled on. “If you did not already have a perfect score, I would add points.”
“And he never gives extra credit,” explained Glorfindel.
“Are you certain you are uninterested in the Apprenticeship in Philosophy?” questioned Erestor. “Cirdan would love to have you study in the Havens, and I would be pleased to write your recommendation.”
“Perhaps someday, Erestor, but I admit, I do not derive the same satisfaction either of you do from sitting at a desk for long hours. I might be good at it,” he said, “but I need to be outside and I need to be doing things and traveling and fighting. I know that might sound primal in a way, but it is what it is. I hope I do not disappoint you with that.”
Erestor shook his head. “You need to choose your own path, Elrohir. Before you worry about your future, though, I think you should take the path to the field. I feel terribly guilty every time your stomach growls.”
“Thank you.” Elrohir grinned. “And thank you for the party, both of you.”
“You are welcome. Now go on, enjoy,” said Glorfindel, nodding towards the glade. Elrohir did as he was told, and Glorfindel pulled another booklet from the pile. “It is too bad he is not interested in furthering his studies.”
“He might change his mind someday,” said Erestor. “He reminds me of his great-uncle.”
“So who is your next candidate for the apprenticeship?” wondered Glorfindel as they continued their work.
Erestor smirked. “Three guesses.”
“Oh, with that expression, I only need one. But Elladan will not take it, either,” Glorfindel said.
“I know.” Erestor looked down towards the field where the party was in full swing. “Not now, but, maybe someday.”