Some quick information about elven children and their equivalent ages:

A 10 year old elfling is equivalent to a 4 year old human.

A 35 year old elven youth is equivalent to a 14 year old human.

 

A Horse For Finda

By Nieriel Raina

 

Years of the Trees

Aman

Royal Stables in Tirion

 

Findaráto’s footsteps faltered on the hard-packed floor. His companion had not noticed him hesitate, and she continued down the wide aisle, her voice drifting back to him.

 

"I have something for you."

 

The words brought a rush of memories. He bowed his head as his fingers caressed the polished wooden door to his left. He was not quite sure he wanted to look inside at the emptiness beyond.

 

"Findaráto?"

 

Amarië had retraced her steps, and he could now feel her warmth as she came to stand at his side. Her fingers found his hand, and they tightened around his own. "You miss him."

 

Looking up, his gaze met her concerned blue eyes, and he inclined his head and turned. He found the resolve with her near to do what he had not found the strength to do before now in his grief. Lifting the latch and pushing open the stall door, his eyes took in the empty stall, which lacked a very important presence.

 

Blinking, he tried to stop the tears from filling his eyes. He had no desire to cry, not in front of Amarië. When they were children, it had been different, but now, something had changed between them. Something he still did not quite understand. But when she came even closer, gripping his fingers yet more tightly in support, he could not stop them. They slipped down his cheeks as he took a shuddering breath and gave into the memories from his early childhood, twenty-five years prior.

 

— o —

 

Silmë watched the elf-child slip through the door of the stable. Findaráto's disheveled golden hair partially obscured the twinkling blue eyes and flushed cheeks. For a moment, the boy just stood in the doorway, his eyes wide with awe of his surroundings. Small feet took hesitant steps first to the left, then to the right, before shuffling to a halt. Findarato screwed his face into a frown of childish indecision. Small fists came to rest on the child's hips as he looked down first the left aisle and then the right. Silmë could see the small mind turning over which to choose.

 

From his place down the left-hand route, Silmë whickered, then snorted. He raised his head over the stall door and looked at the visitor to the Royal Stables. He had seen the child before, in the arms of his master.

 

"Rocconya," the boy whispered, his decision made as the two of them locked gazes.

 

Grinning, the child trotted down the stable aisle until he stood before Silmë. The horse reached his elegant, albeit aged, neck towards him, sniffing his hair and face. Findaráto laughed as the whiskers tickled his nose, and he reached up to pat at the ancient head.

 

The old horse whickered again, allowing the awkward touches as he nuzzled the boy's wheat-colored hair. Silmë no longer got many visitors, and he delighted in this child who loved him so easily. He lowered his head further and made soft noises in his throat when the small fingers found the itchy spot behind his left ear. His eyelids slipped closed in bliss.

 

But the fingers suddenly stopped, and Silmë opened his eyes, curious, for what could be more important than a good scratching? Nothing Silmë could see, though the boy seemed intent on a door further up the wide aisle.

 

Flashing a grin at the horse, Finaráto darted across the aisle and lifted the latch to the door that had caught his attention, pushing against the heavy wood with all his might. The door cracked open far enough to allow him to squeeze into the dark interior. Silmë watched the door with patient eyes, his nose quivering in anticipation.

 

The light sifting into the room from the door partially illuminated the space inside. Dust hung in the air, dancing in the streaming light that allowed Findaráto to see several large containers. This was where they kept the food in barrels for the horses, but all were tightly sealed to keep out pests. Finda stomped a foot in frustration. He needed something to feed his horse.

 

Not one to give up easily, Finda found a small stool near one wall. He pushed it over to one of the barrels and climbed to tug on the lid. When it did not budge, he hopped down and moved to try the next one barrel, and then the next. The last lid gave way, surprising Finda, who had expected it to hold fast as had the others. He fell from the stool backwards on his rump, the lid landing on top of him. The rough wood from the edge of the barrel lid grazed the knuckles of one hand, causing a stinging sensation, and Finda blinked back the tears that welled up in his eyes.

 

He would not cry. He was a big boy now. Big and strong like his father!

 

Findaráto gingerly got back to his feet, his injured fingers in his mouth. With determination, he set the stool upright and stomped up on it, peering into the barrel he had opened. A sweet smell greeted him, and he immediately recognized the smell of various grains mixed with a sticky sweetener that the stable hands fed to the older horses. The big chargers, he remembered, got oats, but the horses not ridden often were given small amounts of this tasty food and lots of fresh hay.

 

Finda grabbed the scoop left in the barrel for measuring out the feed and dug into the mixture, getting a fair sized amount before realizing he had nothing to put it in. With a frustrated sigh, he dropped the scoop back into the barrel and peered around the dimly lit room again until he spied a shallow pan on the small table at the back of the room.

 

Hopping off the stool, he retrieved it and ran back to the stool and barrel. He quickly scooped some of the grain into the pan and headed for the door. A small squeak from the corner of the room stopped him in his tracks, and he set the pan down on the floor, rushing back to replace the lid on the barrel. No mice were going to eat his horse’s food!

 

Findaráto had to pull the door further open to give himself enough room to get through while carrying the pan, and he spilled some of the grain in the process. He ran back to the stall where Silmë waited for him, nickering softly. The dark, expressive eyes were fixed on the pan in his hands.

 

Findaráto held the pan for his horse, watching in fascination as the soft muzzle lipped up the grain, followed by munching sounds as the old grey slowly ground up his food. He giggled when Silmë snorted, chasing the last of the grain around the pan.

 

A cleared throat behind him caused Finda to jump and drop the now empty pan. Turning his head sharply, he gazed wide-eyed at the top of black boots. His eyes traveled up – way up – until they came to rest on his father's face.

 

Finda grinned. "Atto! Look, I found a horse! And I am going to take care of him; and I found some food and I got it all by myself, though I fell down; and a mouse tried to get in the barrel, but I remembered to close the lid and…"

 

"Whoa there child!" laughed Arafinwë. He crouched down so he could look his ten year old son in the face. "It would seem you have had quite the adventure."

 

Findaráto nodded, laughing again when Silmë's soft muzzle came to rest on top of his head, wiggling slightly before lipping at his hair. "Silmë is a nice horsey," he announced to Arafinwë as he reached up to pat the soft face. Silmë lowered his head into the small arms, and Findaráto laid his cheek against the horse's forehead, sighing contentedly.

 

"Yes, yes he is. But Findaráto," his father's voice took on a stern tone, and Finda winced before looking up to meet his father’s eyes.

 

"Yes, Atto?"

 

"Did you tell your Ammë you were coming to the stable?"

 

Findaráto cocked his head to the side as he tried to remember. Silmë's whiskers tickled his ear and he scratched at it absentmindedly. "Ammë told me to go ‘muse myself, but it was boring in the nursery! I told Arheston I was coming to see the horses."

 

Arafinwë hid a smile at his son’s name for the Captain of the Palace Guard. Hentinúr did not display amusement at Findaráto’s title for him as did the rest of the household, though the youngest Prince of the Noldor thought the captain secretly found satisfaction in it.  It was a fitting title, after all. Hentinúr was quite the noble captain.

 

Focusing on his son’s slightly perplexed expression, he said, "Ah, yes, but did you let the Captain know your Ammë was not aware of where you were going?"

 

"I thought he would tell her."

 

Arafinwë watched his small son transform into a princely heir of Finwë as the elfing raised his chin and sniffed.

 

"I said,, ‘Ammë said to go play, and I am going to the stable to look at the horses, Arheston.’" Then the child returned as Findaráto's lower lip poked out and his brow knit in an expression of childish uncertainty. "Should I have said something different, Atto?"

 

Arafinwë shook his head slightly, his lips quirking into a smile. Reaching out, he pulled his young son to him and the small boy wrapped his arms willingly around Arafinwë's neck. "You should have asked your Ammë for permission to come here, son. She was worried when you were not in the nursery. You know you are not supposed to leave the palace without an adult."

 

He could hear the frustration in his son’s voice." But she said ‘muse myself, and I wasn’t ‘mused all alone! I wanted to play with the horseys." The boy sniffed. "Am I going to be in trouble, Atto?"

 

Arafinwë knew Findaráto had not meant to be bad. It was so easy for the child to forget to tell his mother where he was going when he set his mind on something fun.

 

Sighing with resignation, Arafinwë nodded his head. "I am afraid so, son." He removed Findaráto's tight arms from around  his neck and stood. As he did, Findaráto grabbed him around his legs, and the boy began to cry. Findaráto hated to be in trouble. Arafinwë knew too well that the child wished to do what was right, but childish irresponsibility often distracted him from such noble pursuits. He sighed. Parenting, he was finding out, demanded a lot more thought and effort than he had originally imagined. He rubbed his son’s back, hating to punish him, but knowing the young one needed it to learn that there were consequences to disobedience.

 

A soft snort drew his gaze up to dark, accusing eyes. Silmë was not pleased with him for upsetting his new young master. He smiled at the horse as an idea came to mind.

 

"I think as punishment, you will need to learn more responsibility, Findaráto."

 

Without letting go of his legs, Findaráto looked up, resting his chin just above his Arafinwë’s knees. "’Spons’bility?" he asked, his tears gone as quick as they had come.

 

"Let go, son," Arafinwë commanded, and Findaráto released his grip and stood back, standing as he had been taught when being corrected: feet spread shoulder distance apart, hands clasped behind his back, and chin raised so he could see into the eyes of the one doing the chastising.

 

 "You will not be allowed to visit the stable for one week," Arafinwë explained to his son, understanding the boy's disappointment as Findaráto's eyes dropped. Opening the door beside him, he entered the box stall. Silmë welcomed him, though the horse pricked his ears back in the direction of his little master standing outside, apparently questioning the downhearted look on the boy's face.

 

Running his hands over the horse’s swayed back, then stooping to run them down the still strong legs, Arafinwë came to a decision. He knew just who would teach his son responsibility.

 

"Findaráto, I have something for you..Hang."

 

— o —

 

Findaráto wiped his eyes with his sleeve and stepped forward to enter the silent and empty stall. Amarië let him go, remaining respectfully outside the door. He needed to deal with this grief alone, at least for a moment.  He wandered the enclosed space, touching different parts of the stall as he continued to remember the years after his father had given him Silmë, pausing to touch the worn place in the wood where his horse had rubbed his rump to scratch his tail.

 

He remembered having spent a week learning about horse care without visiting the stable once, but after that, he had become engrossed in learning hands-on from his father, the stable master and from Silmë, as well. The old grey had been his first horse, and though well past his prime when gifted to Findaráto, Silmë had given him much joy in his younger years. The stable master had been surprised at how long the horse had lived.

 

Findaráto smiled, though an ache filled his chest. His father had commented on several occasions that the horse refused to leave his master until he was sure the boy was well raised. So Silmë had clung to life long past the normal span of years allotted his kind, even after his master could no longer ride him and Findaráto had been given a younger, more spirited mount.

 

Now Findaráto was no longer a child, but neither was he yet an adult, though he often chafed at the reins holding him in check in his race towards maturity. And it seemed to him that Silmë finally deemed him old enough to go on without him. This past spring Findaráto had reached his thirty-fifth begetting day, and shortly thereafter, his Silmë had left him.

 

"Namárië, meldonya," he whispered to the air still heavy with the familiar smell unique to his beloved horse.

 

Quietly, he slipped out of the stall and closed the door. Looking up, he found Amarië still standing nearby, and he smiled awkwardly at her.

 

Her smile was more confident than his own, though he sensed she was also disappointed, though he was unsure why. Remembering her words, the ones that had reminded him of that day long ago when Silmë had adopted him, he held out his hand to her. She stepped forward and took it, coming to stand in front of him as he asked, "You said you had something for me? Well, where is it?"

 

The girl's eyes dropped suddenly as her cheeks flushed pink. Puzzled at her strange behavior, he ducked his head down so he could see her face, grinning at her. "You cannot tell me you have something and then not give it to me!"

 

She giggled and hid her face behind a fall of her golden hair. Reaching out, he brushed it back so he could see her face, and was startled at her sudden intake of breath. "Amarië?"

 

"I-I…I just wanted to give you…"

 

He blinked, waiting but she ducked her head further, her cheeks flushing a darker shade of crimson. He thought it made her look pretty, but he could never tell her that. The thought made his own cheeks warm, and then he realized how close he was standing to her. He released her hand and started to step back, but she lifted her head.

 

Sparkling blue eyes met his and something jumped in his chest. Frozen in place, he could only stare as she, suddenly emboldened, moved even closer, and reached to press her lips to his.

 

The kiss was chaste and innocent, but Findaráto’s heart raced as she bit her lip then ducked her head again. "Just…that," she whispered, as she nervously twisted her hands in her skirts.

 

Surprised, he raised shaky fingers to his lips and grinned crookedly. Then feeling suddenly embarrassed and not understanding why, he backed up. "I like your gift," he whispered back to her, before spinning on his heel and dashing back up the stable aisle. He could hear her squeal of laughter as she set off in pursuit of him. The two were soon outside playing a merry game of chase, once again children for a time.

 

2nd Age

Royal Stables in Tirion, Aman

 

 "What are we doing here, Atar?" Finrod asked, looking askance at his father, who was now the King of the Noldor.

 

Arafinwë smiled and motioned Finrod inside, following him into the stable. "I have something for you."

 

The words caused two very distinct memories to surface in Finrod’s mind, two firsts in his early life. Since being returned to life, and more recently, returned to Tirion, he had yet to visit the old stable. Most of the palace’s horses were now housed in a new building for fires had destroyed most of the old one after the rebellion that had led him to other shores. When those memories had returned to him, he had feared to come, not wanting to see if a certain stall had been destroyed. He could not bring himself to ask, but now…

 

Arafinwë led him down a familiar aisle, and to his delight, Finrod saw that this side of the stable had remained intact. There were young horses stabled here now, and towards the end, an elegant black neck was stretched eagerly over a stall door. The horse’s bright eyes held an abundance of spirit but also held an intelligence Finrod had seen only once before.

 

"Rocconya," he whispered, striding down the aisle and taking the inquisitive face in his hands. A curious muzzle lipped at his fingers and clothing looking for treats, and Finrod laughed, glancing towards a familiar door across the aisle. He grinned at his father, and moved quickly to secure some treats for his new friend.

 

Arafinwë smiled as his son slipped into the feed room, coming to stand next to the black who looked bereft in Findaráto's absence. It was so good to have his son returned from Mandos and to see him once again where he belonged. Scratching the black's ears, he admired the shiny coat of the young stallion. Initially, he had hesitated giving this stall to another horse, but it had become necessary to use all available space. Seeing the blissful expression on his son's face as he exited the feed room, Arafinwë knew he had made the right choice. 

 

Findaráto easily pulled the door to the feed room closed with one hand, carrying a small pan of oats in the other. As he stepped back across the aisle, the young stallion tossed his head impatiently, pawing at the door and reaching his head towards the pan held too far away. The blue-black head tilted first left, then right, as the finely shaped muzzle quivered.

 

"What shall you name him, do you think?" Arafinwë asked his son, who stood just out of reach of the young horse. Loose black lips began to make a popping sound as the horse's impatience grew.

 

"Orc-bait, perhaps," Findaráto said with a straight face. The black's head shot up, his eyes rolling so the white's showed. Both father and son laughed at the look of indignation on the horse's face.

 

"Morchannas," Findaráto whispered, and the black ears pricked until they almost touched at the points. "Yes, I think that will do."

 

Morchannas bobbed his head and snorted, reaching once more for the pan Finrdaráto held. Arafinwë chuckled when the lip popping began again in earnest when his son did not give the horse his treat fast enough. When the black muzzle dipped into the pan greedily and Findaráto smiled, Arafinwe felt fatherly pride well up withsin him. He had missed his son.

 

A flash of gold caught Arafinwë's eye as another person entered the stable and slipped into a stall further up the aisle. Catching a glimpse of her face as the lady began to brush a bay filly, he knew it was time to leave. Quietly, the King of the Noldor slipped out the main door, a satisfied smile on his face.

 

 

Amarië finished brushing down her favorite filly, and after a last pat on the lovely cheek, she closed the stall door with the intention of retrieving a treat from the feed room. She stopped in her tracks, however, when she saw who stood further down the aisle, his fingers scratching behind the ears of the black colt. Her eyes met Finrdaráto’s, and after an awkward moment, they both smiled. Then he held out his hand, and she walked to him, placing her fingers in his.

 

Behind them Morchannas snorted again, but this time, his complaints were ignored as the couple strolled down the aisle, their fingers lacing.

 

CHARACTERS

 

Findaráto – Quenya name for Finrod

 

Amarië – Vanya lady who Finrod comes to love.

 

Silmë – (Quenya) ‘Starlight’

 

Finda –  Pet name for Findaráto (courtesy of Fiondil)

 

Arafinwë – Quenya name for Finarfin, youngest son of Finwë.

 

Arheston – (Quenya) ‘Noble Captain’, epesse given to Hentinúr, Captain of the Palace Guard, by young Findaráto.

 

Morchannas – (Sindarin) 'dark intelligence'

 

Elvish Translations:

 

Rocconya – (Quenya) ‘My horse’

 

Atto – (Quenya) Daddy

 

Atar – (Quenya) Father

 

Ammë – (Quenya) Mommy

 

"Namárië, meldonya" – (Quenya) ‘Goodbye, my (male) friend’

 

A/N – It is my belief that animals in Aman live longer than animals in Middle-earth, but not forever as some might claim. I don't think Tolkien thought that completely through, for how could the elves eat meat or Oromë hunt if nothing in Valinor died? And we know not even Mortals such as Frodo and Sam lived forever there, so it's logical to me that animals would have a natural life span but not be immortal except in such cases as Nahar or Huan, both of whom I strongly suspect to be Maiar in incarnate form.

 

Silmë died at the respectable age of ninety-seven. He was seventy-two when given to Findaráto. This is approximately double the lifespan of horses in Middle-earth.

 

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