Silmarillion Writers' Guild Hymn of the Trees and Stars by Lady Roisin  

“Papa, look.” Daeron furrowed his brow as he tried to focus upon the page of writing in front of him despite the childish voice calling out for his attention. The word he mentally searched for lingered just beyond his reach and the background noise served to only drive it further away.

“Papa, look at me,” The little girl’s voice became more insistant now. “Look at what I can do.”

“Meriliel,” Daeron sighed heavily, resisting the strong urge to raise his voice. He looked up from the page in time to see his daughter jumping upon the couch and disturbing the stack of papers upon it. It was all Daeron needed to cast a withering look the child’s way and point towards the door. His young daughter froze in place before scurrying from the room.

He returned his quill to the inkwell while the long silence provided Daeron the chance to temper his lingering irritation with a bit of guilt. Meriliel was regularly under foot, curious about his work. It was not her inquisitiveness that bothered Daeron. Instead his young daughter always seemed to have a barrage of questions for him at the exact moment a burst of inspiration for his manuscripts arrived.

A long time passed until the faint sound of awkward notes reached his ears. Daeron looked up, recognizing the familiar voice of his lute as it tried desperately to form a song. Daeron looked over his shoulder at the table where he regularly placed the instrument to find it removed from its perch. The realization of the missing lute was enough to pull Daeron permanently from his manuscript and into a search of every room within the house. Alataya shot Daeron a perplexed look when he burst into bedchamber and began to toss the cushions upon the floor aside.

“What are you looking for?” Alataya asked plainly without pulling her attention away from the book in her hands. She was used to her longtime lover dashing through the house in a wild search for a misplaced belonging.

“My lute,” Daeron muttered as he let a large pillow drop from his fingers. He knew it was likely to be a futile search, especially since he was certain he had heard someone playing it. However, Alataya always seemed to know where anything was within their home even when Daeron was uncertain if he was able to tell his right from his left.

Alataya looked up at Daeron with a wholly perplexed look as she snapped her book shut. “Meriliel has it. She’s had it all day.”

“What?” Daeron looked at Alataya.

Alataya’s face furrowed into a look of further confusion. “I thought you had given her permission to use it.”

The two fell silent before following the sounds of clumsy music coming from the porch adjoining the house.  Meriliel sat in a corner, cradling her father’s treasured instrument upon her lap. She had clearly paid close attention to her father’s playing, closer attention than Daeron anticipated for one so young. Meriliel’s fingers were still too small to properly reach the strings or press them down upon the fretboard.  Daeron’s anger over his daughter’s misbehavior slowly faded while he watched Meriliel hum to herself and try to match the pitch with the lute. Her notes were slightly flat to Daeron’s ear and needed practice, but he marvelled at the way she recalled each tone. He easily recognized the song she was attempting to play.

“Meriliel,” Daeron murmured as he stepped forward. He regretted that he had to interrupt his daughter’s playing but he still had a duty to her as her father. Meriliel looked up, startled by the presence of her parents.

“I’m sorry Papa,” Meriliel stammered, her eyes wide with fear. “I just wanted to play it so badly.”

Daeron crossed the porch slowly and knelt in front of the small girl, his hand reached out to smooth the raven hair away from her face. “You must always ask permission before borrowing another’s belongings,” he chided gently as he reached out his hands for the lute. Meriliel placed the instrument carefully in his waiting hands although Daeron easily saw the reluctance in her eyes. While he was required to correct his young child’s behavior, the reason behind her misbehavior left Daeron swelling with pride.

“We shall speak more on this tomorrow,” Daeron said as he reached out to take Meriliel’s hand and guided her back into the house. Together they made their way into Meriliel’s tiny room. Alataya had followed close behind, now fulfilling her motherly tasks in helping Meriliel prepare for settling into bed for the night. She gently scolded the girl for taking such a precious belonging from her father. However, once Alataya had pulled the covers up over Meriliel’s body both she and Daeron bent to offer their daughter kisses and heartfelt goodnights. Even though Meriliel had misbehaved, Daeron and Alataya always tried to follow any chiding or punishment with measured affection to remind their child that although their love for required them to be stern in order for her to grow, their love was never removed. 

“She takes much after you,” Alataya commented while pulling her loosened gown over her head.

Daeron turned a curious glance his lover’s way while reclining on the bed they had shared for many years. “Whatever do you mean?”

Alataya padded towards the bed before perching on the edge of the mattress, “Meriliel constantly mimics your behavior now. I caught her the other day seated upon the porch, listening or looking at something, what I do not know.” She looked down at her hands, almost as if she feared to speak the rest before returning her gaze to Daeron’s face. “Even though she is mortal, as I am, do you believe it is possible she shares a portion of that which your mother passed down to you?”

Daeron did not have to ask for clarification to know what Alataya referred to.  Like his sister, Daeron had also gained attributes from his Maia mother, ones that granted him powers to access the deep magic of the world, forces that had been imbued into it before time was known as such.  The songs that had sung everything into existence continued on, renewing the world and everything within it. Daeron had not become one of the greatest minstrels and loremasters by effort alone. He possessed the ability to reach out with his senses and listen to the music that others were unable to hear. Everything living had a song; the earth, the waters flowing through the world, and even the endless expanse of sky above them.

Even more than hearing, Daeron was able to feel the blending melodies as they coursed though his being, making him a vessel in which their songs were able to be heard by those who were only able to hear with their ears. At a young age the magic had frightened Daeron, at least until Melian taught him how to trust it, to let it come naturally. His mother had always been his most patient and wisest teacher. Although she had left Middle-earth in an age few remembered, she still was able to reach across the great dividing distance and guide her only son. She had been the one to help Daeron to accept his love for Alataya, and later the echo of that wisdom allowed him to love his daughter, even though one day she too would be taken from him, like her mother would be and his sister, Lúthien, had been.

The signs were there and Daeron wanted nothing more than to believe Meriliel carried Maia blood within her veins, that not even the heavy burden of mortality had quenched it from her spirit.  Hope swelled within his being. “I will be taking Meriliel into the woods tomorrow,” Daeron murmured softly as he rolled over onto his side and pressed his hand against the rounded swell of Alataya’s bare abdomen. “We may not return until dark.”

“Very well,” Alataya said with a great yawn. “I will pack the day’s provisions for you and Meriliel first thing in the morning.”

The sound of Alataya’s gentle breathing reached Daeron’s ears, indicating she had fallen asleep. Daeron closed his eyes and left his hand upon his lover’s midsection. He sensed the soft pitter patter of the tiny infant’s heartbeat, pulsing faster than its mother’s, creating a unique rhythm signifying their unique bond of motherhood and new life.  A smile pulled up the corners of Daeron’s mouth when he felt the child housed in his lover’s womb kick against his hand.  Lady Celebrian told them earlier that day that it would be only a matter of weeks before the little one made its entrance into the outside world. A sense of contentment washed through Daeron’s being, encircling him like smooth silk against bare skin. He had been alone for so many years, more than he was able to recall in that moment. And while it took time for Daeron to adjust to fatherhood and caring for a family of his own, it was good to be a part of one once again. Soon he slept, dreaming of the family he lost long ago and this new one that mended his heart. In his dreams all of those he loved were together again as they should be. 

Miriel rose early as she normally did and became a bigger ball of energy when Daeron told her they were going on an outing. His daughter cheerfully helped Alataya pack a small bag with Lembas and other supplies for the day. Meriliel’s excitement lasted well into the first couple hours of hiking into the woods of Imladris. But by mid morning enthusiasm began to fall away into sulking.

“Papa, my feet hurt,” Meriliel whined softly while tugging on Daeron’s hand. “Please, can we stop for awhile?”

Daeron smelled the crisp air, a scent that signaled approaching rain. He looked up in to see the sun veil itself behind swift moving dark clouds. “I think we had better.”

Large drops fell from the sky by the time Daeron found a large willow, its drooping foliage providing adequate shelter from the rain.  Meriliel scurried past the green curtain and plopped down near the tree’s thick trunk just as thunder rumbled overhead. Daeron settled next to Meriliel before pulling two bright red apples from the bag Alataya had packed for them.”We might as well have a little something to tide us over while we wait for the storm to pass.”

Meriliel took the fruit extended to her and began to devour it with the interest she had lost a bit earlier. Daeron turned his own apple in his hand, studying the small dimples in its thin flesh. “So tell me, Meriliel. Why did you really run off my lute?”

“I told you” Meriliel answered in between bites. “I wanted to learn to play music the way you do. A pretty lady told me I could.”

“Pretty lady?” Daeron looked at his young daughter curiously.

“Yes,” Meriliel mumbled with a shrug of her shoulders. “She comes to see me lots of times when I’m asleep. I was scared when I first saw her but the pretty lady told me she always looks after me, you, and Mama. And she told me I was special like you and could make the magical songs too, like the ones you sing to me when I can’t go to sleep or when I hurt myself and you make the pain go away.”

Daeron stared at Meriliel, awestruck by her confession. He did not have to wonder at the pretty lady’s name to know who she was. For many years his mother guided him through the wildest of the wilds of Middle-earth, helping him to stay alive when danger seemed to already be a half step ahead of him. Daeron should not have been surprised that Melian watched over Meriliel in the same manner, yet it astonished him all the same.

“Papa?” Meriliel enquired while inching closer to her father’s lap. “You believe me don’t you?”

Daeron nodded and laced his apple back into the bag before motioning for Meriliel to sit upon his lap. He listened to the soft notes of the rain coupled with the dull rumble of thunder as he wrapped his arms around his daughter. “Do you remember the stories I used to tell you about the beautiful queen who lived with her king in the woods?”

“Yes,” a happy glimmer shone in Meriliel’s soft green eyes. “And they had two children, a merry prince and a lovely and brave princess.”

Daeron laughed softly. If only he had known back then how his stories would be embellished into the wildly extraordinary tales told these days. He felt guilty knowing he had allowed the fairy stories to be told to his child, knowing one day he would have to reveal the true history of her heritage to her.

“That’s right; there was a prince and a princess. And while the prince may have been merry and the princess both beautiful and courageous, they were real people like you and I.” Daeron resisted the urge to laugh at the perplexed glance Meriliel threw his way as he began to pull back the layers of fantasy from the truth.

“It is true, the queen possessed magical abilities and she used it for the good of her people, and she taught her children to do the same. But she was also very knowledgeable in how to defend the land her people lived in.” Daeron smoothed the stray locks of hair from Meriliel’s face as he continued his story. “You see, the queen commanded the land’s marchwardens, men and women who guarded the borders of the land. But even more important was the special circle of women who served the queen as powerful guardians of the woods and they were an important part of the queen’s magical girdle that kept the woods safe from evil and harm, along with the queen’s children.”

“So there really was magic?” Meriliel interrupted while turning her chin upwards to meet Daeron’s eyes.

“Oh yes,” Daeron exclaimed. “But it’s not the kind your bedtime stories would have you believe. No one merely waves their hand and makes it happen.  The world has had magic woven into its very existence from its birth. One must learn to hear it, sense it, before they can wield it.”

Meriliel’s eyes widened in awe, “You know how to use it. I know you can. Teach me how to do it, Papa.”

Daeron smiled and took both of Meriliel’s hands in his. He guided Meriliel to slow her breathing and to clear her mind. Unfortunately such mindful activities did not last for long until Meriliel’s questions began anew.

“Papa,” Meriliel prodded, yanking gently upon Daeron’s hands. “What are we doing? I want to learn about the magic.”

“Hush,” Daeron whispered. “You must be very quiet and listen.”

“Listen to what?” Meriliel shot back. “All I hear is rain and thunder.”

“Be patient, you’ll know when you hear it.” Daeron smiled, keeping his patience intact. Fortunately Meriliel seemed more eager to learn than to continue questioning her father’s instructions. After several minutes passed Meriliel gasped and yanked her hands free from Daeron’s before darting off of his lap. She ran outside the shelter of the willow foliage and into the rain before Daeron had a chance to stand up.

“Papa, the trees are singing,” Daeron rushed out to see Meriliel standing in the rain with her hands outstretched to the ancient branches. “Can you hear them too?”

“Yes,” Daeron smiled. He was already soaked from the rain but he did not care. Any manner of discomfort faded in this special moment. His fatherly pride swelled upwards, far past the clouds overhead.

He walked towards Meriliel and took her hand. She looked up at him while trying to shield her eyes from the falling droplets. “Well, I did hear it. It’s gone now.”

“It’s still there, my child.” Daeron spoke thoughtfully, flicking his gaze briefly to the thick limbs reaching up to embrace the sky and its replenishing rains. “This world was made through music and the music still exists within it. The more you listen the more you will be able to hear it and it shall guide in your own music making.”

Despite the weather and the water saturating Meriliel’s clothing, all the joy in the world brightened her face. Daeron laughed and took his daughter’s hand once again. “I think it is time I taught you how to play that lute properly.” 

The tinker of random notes reached Alataya’s ears as they struggled to form a familiar melody. They were followed by peals of happy, childish, laughter, pulling Alataya’s head up from her pillow.  The sounds had pulled her from an afternoon nap. After rising carefully from the bed she walked across the short hall connecting the rooms of the suite she shared with Daeron and Meriliel, following the sound of music and voices into the sitting room.

A Music Lesson by Lyra

Daeron sat on a low cushion with Meriliel on his lap. Their young daughter held her father’s lute while he gently guided her small fingers upon the strings. He hummed each note, helping her learn to associate the individual sounds with the position of her hands upon the instrument. Daeron appeared every bit as enamored by the music the small child produced as Meriliel seemed in creating it. So it seemed that at least one of their children might give their father his dear wish of a child following in his legacy. Alataya stood in the doorway watching them, the scene tugging at her heart. For once she did not mind the clutter of strewn papers, toys, or the half eaten apple sitting on the middle of the floor.

The moment was broken when Meriliel suddenly pulled her right hand away from the strings and whimpered, “The strings hurt my fingers.”

Alataya took a step forward but Daeron took Meriliel’s hand before she had a chance to intercede. He inspected her fingers before placing a kiss on the pad of each one. “You will have to play for only a little while at time until they become used to it.”

Daeron carefully lifted the instrument from their daughter’s lap and put it aside before wrapping his arms around the little girl. His noticed Alataya standing in the doorway and smiled. “You see, even your mother came to hear you play.”

“Mama!” Meriliel cried out, a wide smile came to her face, showing gaps where her front teeth had fallen out to make room for the permanent ones that would soon take their place. “Mama, did you hear me playing? Papa showed me how.”

“I heard,” Alataya returned her daughters wide smile as she walked into the room. “You played very well for your first time and you should continue to practice so you can become even better at it.”

Meriliel’s eyes grew wide at the concept Alataya put forth. She turned and faced Daeron, “Maybe someday I could play with you Papa?”

“Of course,” the pride and joy shone brightly in Daeron’s eyes. “In time you shall have your own instruments of your choosing and we shall play together for the others in the Hall of Fire.”

The girl clapped her hands and hopped down from her father’s lap before skipping from the room, naturally forgetting the scattered toys or the half eaten apple. Alataya shook her head and laughed softly, her heart filled to the brim with happiness.

Later that evening the three of them sat upon the porch, admiring the stars and eachother’s company. Meriliel rested between her parents, staring up in awe at the stars overhead. Alataya drank in the warmth of the small outdoor hearth and the closeness of her family as Meriliel spoke up.

“Papa, I want to play that song again, the one about the stars.” Alataya turned to see a wide smile upon her child’s face. A similar smile upturned the corners of Daeron’s mouth. He stood from the pile of soft cushions and Alataya’s curiosity rose as Meriliel leaned towards the door in an attempt to see her father’s movement within the house. After a couple minutes Daeron emerged with his lute cradled in his arms. A closer look revealed that it was actually a different instrument, smaller and suited for a child’s hands.

Meriliel’s joyful cry rang out into the evening when Daeron held the smaller lute out to her. Their daughter took it into her hands, cradling it lovingly before gently strumming the new strings.

“A true musician’s instrument must become a part of them, an extension of their own hands.” Daeron began while he knelt in front of Meriliel and guided her small hands into the proper position upon the strings. “And even the youngest of dedicated students must have her own to play upon.”

“Thank you, Papa,” Meriliel cried out before covering her father’s face in high-spirited kisses. Daeron chuckled softly and tousled Meriliel’s hair.

“Now then,” Daeron said as he rejoined Alataya upon the cushions. “Play the song about the stars for your mother and me.”

Alataya sat back and watched Meriliel straighten her posture and place her fingers in the proper positions to play the first notes of the song. Despite the scattered mistakes her daughter made in the song, the child’s noble strains in her bearing began to show through and Alataya could not be any more proud or happy in this moment than to watch the beginning of greatness unfold within Meriliel’s praise to the stars and trees. 

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