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The Matchless Little Elfling

Title: The Matchless Little Elfing
Character: Erestor
Rating: G
Warning: I'm told tissues may be required. *grin*
Genre: Christmas, General

AN: Based on the Hans Christian Andersen story, "The Little Match Girl". Written for Christmas 2004.


In a cold dark street, in a city of Men, the little Elfling wandered barefoot through the ankle-deep snow. He pulled his ragged cloak tightly about him as a sharp wind blew through his threadbare clothing. He had been on his own since the death of his father two years ago and now he wandered from town to town, selling the small luminous stones his father had taught him to craft.

He longed to find a settlement of Elves for he was driven away by the Men who did not want the tattered Elfling sleeping in their doorways and begging for food outside their establishments. None dared take him in for they knew nothing of Elves and feared what they did not understand. Even the stones he sought to sell were looked upon as objects of suspicion and he had not sold anything in many months.

Now, tired, hungry, and nearly at the end of his strength, he trudged through streets where the smells of food wafted from the chimneys of houses shut tight against the winter, the lights of candles creating a warm, cozy glow to his weary eyes.

Unable to go any further, Erestor found a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other and offered a bit of protection from the wind, and he fell down and huddled against the cold brick, drawing his knees up to his thin chest and hugging them tight.

He wondered what it might be like to have strong walls and warm arms to keep away the cold that numbed his frostbit fingers and toes. Oh, for even a bit of warmth and crust of bread would he give all the stones in his patched pouch. He pulled one of the stones out and looked at it sadly. It glowed a bright, cheerful blue but produced no heat and he sighed and laid it down next to the wall, gazing listlessly into its crystal depths.

It seemed he saw within it a blazing fire and imagined himself to be sitting before a large open fireplace, ornamented with the figures of trees carved into the wood on either side of the firebox. He stretched his feet out and wiggled his toes to catch the warmth and as he did, a sudden keen wind blasted them and he hastily drew them up again, tears forming in his eyes at the cruel illusion.

Looking from the stone to the wall by which it lay, he saw the light glowed softly upon it and suddenly it was as if a veil had been lifted and Erestor could see into the room inside. A table with a linen cloth was prepared for a splendid meal, with roast goose stuffed with apples and plums, steamed vegetables, and multicolored pastries glazed with sugar. As Erestor looked on hungrily, the goose rose from the platter and danced before his longing eyes, spinning and twirling until it was close enough to touch. So real did it seem that Erestor reached out to grasp it, his chilled fingers touching only cold, damp brick.

Through his frustrated tears, Erestor looked up to where the stars twinkled in the wintry blackness above and he saw one fall and form a long tail of fire.

'An Elf has died,' he thought, for his father had told him that when an Eldar met with death, Nienna shed a tear that could be seen as a star falling in the heavens. He thought of his father and how kind he had been, how loving. His long, golden hair shone like sunlight and his eyes were blue as a summer sky. Erestor wanted so badly to hold on until he could one day sail for Valinor and be reunited with him, but that time was so far away and he needed his Ada now. Erestor favored his mother in looks with his dark hair and liquid brown eyes, but she had died shortly after his birth and he had never known her love.

Snow began to fall and Erestor shivered pathetically and wondered how much longer he could hold on before Nienna must weep for him also.

The stone beside him began to dim, its power running out as the stones did after a time. His father had known how to make them last longer but it was a secret Erestor had not mastered.

Now, in the last flickering light of the crystal, he saw a golden haired Elf lean down and peer at him with eyes of brilliant blue. He smiled weakly at the tall Elf and reached for him crying, "Ada! Take me with you! Do not vanish before my eyes like the warmth and food that do not sustain me, for they are only illusions cast by the light of the stone and my longing. I have tried so hard to be strong for you Ada, but my strength, like the light of the stone, grows dim and I am tired, so tired..."

He fell into a swoon as the golden haired Elf scooped him up and hugged him tightly to his chest, wrapping his cloak around the gaunt little Elfling to warm him.

"Rest now, little one," Glorfindel said softly as he carried Erestor to the inn where he had taken a room a few hours ago. He thought how lucky it was that he had decided to look for the chandler's shop to buy some candles for his journey back to Imladris. The glow from the stone had caught his eye and he had found the poor, orphaned Elfling huddled beside it, nearly dead from cold and hunger.

He kissed Erestor's forehead and the Elfling smiled peacefully, cradled at last in the strong, loving arms he had dreamed of for so long.




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