"Ada? Will you come to the library right after break of fast," pleaded Elladan, staring earnestly up at his father's serene face as the household servants began to distribute bowls of fruit and trays of bread on the long, linen-draped tables.
"Please, Ada?" Elrohir chimed in, "It's important!"
Elrond exchanged a quick glance with Erestor, who gave him a smile and a slight nod. He looked back at his 20-coronari-old sons and smiled. "Certainly, I will accompany you to the library, ion-nin."
The elflings beamed and Elladan even bounced excitedly in his seat. Elrond didn't rush his meal, but he made certain not to dawdle, and shortly, he was being pulled from the hall by his sons, each clasping one of his hands and chattering like magpies.
Their voices went silent as they approached the library door, and Erestor, who had trailed them, cleared his throat, and slipped around them to block their way. "My lord, I'm afraid you'll need to close your eyes."
"And promise not to open them until we say, Ada," Elrohir chimed in.
Elrond was highly amused by this but kept his face serene as he nodded and then closed his eyes. "I promise."
He curled his fingers around his sons' hands, and felt the smooth polished wood of the corridor under his soft house shoes give way to the thick carpeting that helped to preserve the quietness of the library. The scent of parchment and leather came strongly to his nose, accented by the perfumes of the blossoms that bloomed riotously beyond the windows that overlooked the river and the steep valley walls beyond.
He could hear his sons giggle as they guided him between the chairs and work tables that filled the spaces between the innumerable shelves of codices, scrolls and books that he'd collected over the Ages, and he quickly realized that they were leading him to one of the small rooms that held collections devoted to particular events or peoples.
"I am getting more and more curious about this so very important surprise," he said aloud. "And I thank you, younglings, for not leading me to stub my toe on a table or a chair," he added.
"Just turn left, now, Ada, and stop!" Elrohir directed, and the Peredhel did so, feeling the ellyn's hands slide from his fingers.
"May I open my eyes now?"
"Not yet!" Erestor's voice was accented by the rustle of parchment. Quite a lot of parchment, Elrond estimated, for the signature sound seemed to go on for several minutes before stilling.
There came another giggle from one of his sons, quickly stifled, then Elladan said, "You can open your eyes now, Ada."
Elrond did so, and gasped as he saw the piece of parchment that completely covered the top of the table in the middle of the chamber. On the far side of the display, the elflings stood, each clutching a sheaf of parchment leaves, their grins wide, although their eyes held a trace of anticipatory anxiousness. Erestor stood between them, his hands tucked up inside the long flowing sleeves of his outer robe, and his wise face glowing with pleasure.
The Lord of Imladris moved closer to the table to look at the intricate network of branches, twigs and leaves that filled the parchment in delicately drawn green and silver ink. Tengwar, painstakingly lettered in, told the tale of why his sons had frequently come to table with ink stains on their fingertips over the past season.
"Do—do you like it?" Elladan blurted out at last as Elrond's eyes found his own name at the base of the tree, with Celebrian's close by, and the names of his sons inscribed upon the roots that were surrounded by slips of nephridel and elanor.
"It's beautiful, Elladan. I can't imagine how you two managed to keep it secret from me for so long!" He smiled gently at his son.
"Erestor helped," Elrohir told him seriously. "Can we tell you the rest, Ada? We worked ever so hard on it."
"Of course." Elrond bent over the immense family tree and followed along as Elrohir and Elladan took turns reading from their notes. He swallowed a lump from his throat as he saw his long dead twin brother's name neatly written on a leaf that was shaped an exact mirror image of the one upon which his own name lay. His father, Eärendil, and his mother, Elwing, rested at the first fork of the trunk and, one by one, the familiar names rang in his head as they were repeated in young, light voices, moving further into the past.
His grandparents, Tuor and Idril, who escaped the fall of Gondolin.
Her parents, Turgon and his wife, Elenwë, who had been killed during the crossing of the Helcaraxe, to his great-grandfather's grief.
Fingolfin and Anaire.
Finwë and Indis.
And Indis' was sister to the High King Ingwë Ingweron.
Elwing's parents, Dior Eluchil, the heir to Elu Thingol, and Nimloth, who had both perished in the Sack of Doriath by the Fëanoreans.
Beren and Lúthien, the first instance of the mortal blood that made him, Elrond, and his sons Peredhel.
Lúthien's Adar, Elu Thingol, once called Elwë Singolo, was brother to Olwë who ruled in Alqualonde in Aman. And Elwë espoused the Maia Melian.
Elrond felt a sudden shiver of awe at the thought that he and his sons carried the blood of a Child of Ilúvatar's Thought made corporeal. One day, he knew, he would be called to Aman, and he hoped that he would then be privileged to meet with his unique foremother.
He brought his attention back to his children to discover that they were now following the lines of the mortals who had crossed into Beleriand and whose lives had been intertwined with the Sindar and Noldor from the time that Finrod Felagund had stumbled upon the Edain.
Tuor. Huor. Galdor. Malach Aradan. Marach…
Hareth. Halmir. Haldan. Haldar. Haldad…
Beren. Barahir. Bregor. Boromir. Boron. Baran. Beor…
Eleven generations lay between Elrond and Beor the Old. Ten generations to reach Marach who had led his House out of the east. Names out of legend echoed in his heart and in his ears, and as Elladan recited the final name of the furthest known of their forefathers who had lived and died, and gone on beyond the Circles of Arda, it seemed for a moment that Elrond was surrounded by heroes; all of them, mortal and immortal, their lives and loves and pain and sacrifices focusing down the centuries to this one room, where the next generation was coming to an appreciation of all that had gone before.
He looked up from the family tree, to find his cheeks wet with tears, but he could not stop smiling as Elladan and Elrohir dropped their parchments and rounded the table to half tackle him with their hugs. He wrapped his arms around them and held them close. "This was a wonderful surprise, and I'm so very proud of you."