Title: Rivendell Farm
Theme: Potluck: Back to School
Beta: None (I ran out of time to get it betaed)
Author's Notes: The first part of this story was inspired by Edwardian Farm - from which I learned everything I know about farming.
Summary: Estel learns some important lessons about hard work.
Word Count: 700
Elladan and Elrohir were trying hard not to laugh as they watched Estel run around the field with the cows. But they were here to teach him, not laugh at his mistakes. They'd set him the task of bringing one of the calves into the cow shed, but not told him how to do it. So Estel had decided to run after it. Unfortunately, the calf was faster than him.
"How does he plan to catch it?" Elladan wondered, as the calf changed direction once more and Estel struggled to keep up.
Elrohir had no answer, merely another question. "And what will he do when he does? It's as big as he is."
At last Estel thought better of his methods and broke off the chase. The calf went happily back to running around its mother and Estel was panting hard by the time he reached the twins. "I don't know how to catch it," he admitted.
"You only had to ask." Elladan passed him the bucket he'd brought out with them. Although Estel had given it a curious look at the time, he hadn't asked what it was for. So Elladan hadn't said anything about it either.
Estel frowned at the bucket and then looked back over the field. The twins said nothing, waiting for Estel to work it out for himself. It only took a few seconds before he took off back towards the calf. This time, he didn't chase it, but stopped to let it smell the oats in the bucket. Then it followed him obediently.
"He won't make that mistake again in a hurry," Elrohir whispered to Elladan. Elrohir was right - he didn't.
One of the sheep had died while giving birth and despite the Elves' best efforts, none of the other sheep would adopt it. So it had to be hand-reared and the task of feeding it fell to Estel. Once the initial excitement had died away his mother often had to remind him that the lamb was hungry. After two weeks, and a stern talking-to by Elrond, he had settled into the routine.
For Elrond, it meant that if he wanted to talk to Estel, there were times of the day when he could be certain where to find him. It was evening when he entered the barn. "I hear you have had a busy day," Elrond said, settling himself on a bale of straw.
Estel nodded, only briefly taking his eyes away from the lamb and her bottle. "It's hard working with animals."
Elrond managed not to smile. That had been the reason for the lesson. "Now you appreciate how hard farmers must work."
"Everyone works hard, I know that," he said earnestly.
Elrond raised an eyebrow.
"Please don't make me do the jobs of everyone here."
Over the years Elrond had needed to conceal what he was feeling from many people. The practise he'd had meant he was good at it. Except with Estel, it seemed. At his imploring tone, Elrond had to cough to hide a laugh. "It is important you understand the place everyone has in Imladris."
"So I can decide what I want to be when I grow up?"
He hesitated. Estel would have no say in his future, otherwise there would be no future for all of Middle-earth. But he could not know this, and nor would Elrond burden a child with the knowledge that his actions were so important. After a short time he said, "So you can grow up to be a learned man."
Estel appeared to consider that before he nodded. "I don't want to be ignorant."
Now Elrond smiled. "I am glad, my son."
Having drained the last drops of milk from the bottle, the lamb lay down and went to sleep.
"You must give her a name," Elrond reminded him.
"I know." Estel gave her a fond look before walking out of the barn with Elrond. "But it's hard, knowing she will have that name all her life."
"That is why we take such care over names." Estel had had plenty of suggestions from others, but Elrond would not interfere unless asked.
"And I will think of one that's just perfect for her."
Elrond smiled. "Of that I am certain."