One can find the strangest creatures deep in the woods.
I hear him before I see him. A bass woody rumble of tune, without words. The sound of a man content and busy with his task. The song is wholly familiar, I form the words silently to myself as I step carefully forward. I edge though the trees as though I hunt deer, not him.
My halt-gait betrays me, my foot slipping on a stone and turning under me. I try so hard to be slient in the woods but there are times when a chance pebble or branch will undo me. A tiny sound in amongst the flowing birdsong and the rustling of autumn leaves - but enough for him. Just as I finally see him, broad back bent over his work, his great shaggy head comes up. Without turning around, after more than a decade apart, he names me in his deep earthy voice,
The sun comes dappled though the autumn leaves, the richness of the colours echoed in the russets and browns of his worn clothes. He turns towards me slowly and I see with a little dismay how the years have used him. As much silver as sable now in his hair, the toil of his long watch finally etched upon his nut-brown face. He smiles, the lines of care worn as proudly as any younger man's battle scars.
He looks as a man in his fiftieth year, mayhap. Seasoned, the years adding a grace to him that youth did not. Yet he and I know that his years are closer to twice that. Swiftly my heart enters my mouth and I begin to weep for the joy of him. My brother, Ciryadan, old before I was born, returned again as infrequent and unexpected as ever.
He walks steadily forward to me, the yellow fallen leaves kicking upward from the glade floor and takes my fingers. I laugh awkwardly through my happy tears as he bows formally over my hand. We are kin, we are strangers. My laugh fades to a sigh as he embraces me, wrapping me in his strong bear-hug, the years taking no toil upon his strength.
I bury my face into his broad chest, his scent as endearing as home. He speaks into my hair, breaking the solemnity of the moment.
'and so ... married yet?'
I laugh again, shaking my head, repeating the words I used to Amloth only a few weeks ago
'Too busy. And you?'
My brother snorts with amusement as he replies,
'Too old. Who wants a man of my years when they can have a seventy year old stripling?'