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Comfort of a Father

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            Title: Comfort of a Father

 

Author:  washow

 

Rating:  G

 

Summary:  A happy reunion should be in store as Estel and the twins are returning from the young human’s first trip with the rangers.  However, something is amiss with the youngest member of Elrond’s family will he share his secret or will it haunt him his entire life?

 

Disclaimer:  I do not own Lord of the Rings nor am I making any profit from this story.  Any similarities to other fan fiction are purely coincidental.  I tried to remain as true to the books as I could but there may be a few discrepancies.  This is not slash but a tale of friendship and family love.

 

 

Comfort of a Father

 

 

From a shaded bench in the garden Glorfindel had a perfect view of the front door of the last homely house and therefore also had a perfect view of the lord of the manner who was standing on the stairs staring at the courtyard entrance with such intensity that Glorfindel momentarily wondered if the structure might spontaneously combust.  The state of Elrond caused the ancient elf lord to sigh because he could the anxiety of the half elf just beneath the stoic exterior.  Slowly the golden-haired elf got to his feet and made his way to his friend’s side, “Willing them to ride through that gate will not make them appear any faster.”

 

            Elrond turned and smiled sadly at his friend, “I know but they are late, they should have been here last night and I’m concerned about their safety.  In fact I’ve been concerned for them the entire six months they have been traveling with the rangers and want nothing more for them to be home so I can forbid them to ever leave again.” 

 

            Glorfindel put a reassuring hand on his friend’s shoulder, “They are fine Peredhil, they probably just got side tracked on the way home.”

 

            The lord of the manner narrowed his eyes at the entrance of the courtyard and replied darkly, “Or were waylaid by creatures of evil.”

 

            Glorfindel’s eyes opened in shock at the dark mood of his friend, “Elrond rarely have I seen you in such a dark mood!  The twins have been wandering the wilds for many years now so why the fowl mood this time?”

 

            Elrond abruptly turned on his old friend, “This time they have Estel with them who is barely an adult by the standards of men and an infant by the standards of elves and has not yet encountered the forces of darkness.”

 

            Glorfindel smiled gently at his friend, “You knew that he would have to encounter the forces of darkness when you took him in because as the son of Arathorn he is destined to become chieftain of the rangers.  It is for the best that he has begun his training now when he has the twins to comfort him and he can still come home to rest from the darkness.”  Suddenly there was a slight noise from the courtyard and Glorfindel’s eyes lit up, “I do believe your wayward children have managed to find their way home Peredhil.”

 

            Elrond quickly turned toward the gate and saw his three sons quietly leading their horses to the stable which caused the elf lord to fly down the stairs and across the courtyard toward his sons.  When the travelers sensed the presence of another the twins looked up and gave him weary smiles but the young human refused to meet his father’s eyes.  Elrond noticed Aragorn’s avoidance so he came to a stop directly in front of his youngest, “Welcome home my sons.”

 

            The human was startled out of his reverie and looked up at the elf lord with dark, troubled eyes, “ada” was all the man managed to mutter before he was swept up in a firm embrace by his father.

 

            Elrond held the human close and muttered into his hair, “I’ve missed you my son.”  Elrond than embraced each of his twin sons in turn before asking the question which was plaguing his mind, “Why did you not ride the horses?”

 

            Elladan shot his father a sheepish grin, “We had hoped to slip into the house unnoticed and thought it would be quieter to walk the horses in rather than to ride them.  I apologize if our lateness caused you to worry.”

 

            Elrond smiled, “No more than usual.  Now my weary sons I want you to bathe and refresh yourselves before the feast.”  The twins nodded enthusiastically to the idea of celebrating their return with family and friends but Aragorn barely acknowledged the elf lord’s words.  Elrond narrowed his eyes in order to study his youngest more closely, there were no signs of physical injury on the boy but something about the child bothered the elf lord deeply,  “Estel, I would have you come to my study after you’ve bathed.”  The young human’s head snapped up at the mention of his elven name and he noticed all three Peredhils staring at him as if they were awaiting an answer to a question.  His brain quickly replayed the last portion of the conversation until Aragorn realized his father wanted to speak with him which caused the young man to sigh internally, he really didn’t want to talk about what was bothering him - especially with someone as perceptive as his father.  However, he knew there was no way out of it so he slowly nodded his head to the affirmative and headed for his room to wash off the trail dust.  The twins were following the human to the house but just as Elladan was passing his father a hand shot out and stopped him in his tracks.  “Elladan what is wrong with Estel?  What has happened to him while you were away?”

 

            Elladan met his father’s concerned eyes, “Life happened to him ada.”  Elrond looked at his son quizzically so the elder twin continued, “The dark forces are growing in number and increasing their brutality which caused the last six months to be difficult on all of us but especially on him.”

 

            Elrond closed his eyes in defeat, the child he had been trying to protect from evil all these years had been fully emerged in the darkness of this world and it broke his heart.  The elf lord sighed deeply and released his hold on the twin, “Thank you my son.”

 

            Elladan studied his father for a moment, “This isn’t your fault.  We knew he would have to journey into the wild one day.  It isn’t for us to protect him his whole life but rather to guide him in the right direction.  Is that not what you told me once when I was trying to convince you to lock him in the cellar?”

 

            Elrond smiled at his oldest, “indeed it was my son and it was as right then as it is now.  Go now and get ready for the feast this evening.”  The twin nodded and went to his chambers while Elrond retreated to his study to await his youngest son.  Elrond didn’t have to wait long because shortly after he arrived there was a knock at the door, “enter”.

 

            The door opened admitting the young human, “You wanted to see me, ada?”

 

            “That I did my son.  I was hoping you would sit and talk with me about your first taste of ranger life.”  Elrond responded as he motioned for his son to sit on a settee by the window.

 

            The young ranger sat down but remained silent as he recalled the past few months and considered what information he was willing to pass along to his father.  Elrond watched his youngest closely and was greatly saddened to see the emotional toll the last months had taken on the young ranger.  Eventually the elf lord’s patience wore out and he decided to push the ranger into breaking his silence, “My son what troubles you?”

 

            The man didn’t even turn to look at his father but instead continued to gaze out into the valley, “Many things.”

 

            Elrond gently reached out and tipped the human’s chin up so their eyes met, “It helps to share the pain with others, it will make it heal faster.”  The man just gazed at him impassively so the elf lord tried using the man’s childhood name to get through to him. “Estel, what happened out there?”

 

            Elrond’s ploy worked and the man’s head shot up and he finally met the elf’s kind gray eyes with his own troubled eyes, “Estel – me, what kind of hope am I?  I couldn’t bring hope to the villages which had been burned to the ground by orcs!  Ten villages within fifty miles of each other completely destroyed and all we could do for them was bury any remains we found.  Then there was the village which had all of its livestock killed by a pack of wolves.  When we reached them they were starving to death because the wolves had not only eaten the livestock but scared away the wildlife so there was nothing for them to hunt.”  The ranger looked down a moment than again met his father’s eyes, “I suppose those destroyed villages did have a purpose because although the people were killed the livestock weren’t touched and we were able to move them to the starving village.”

 

            Elrond seized the glimmer of hope, “Yes, my son those burnt villages did have some use yet but it was you and the other rangers who provided hope to the starving village.  If you hadn’t been there those people would have continued to starve and would have died an awful death.”  Elrond gently reached out and stroked the man’s face,  “We can’t help everyone my son and if you don’t accept that right now you will be distraught  your whole life.  A group of men or elves acting alone can’t stop the darkness in this world we can only counteract the darkness where we see it and have faith that elsewhere there are other groups which are also fighting against evil.  Use the memories of those destroyed villages to fuel your fight against darkness in the hope that a day will come when all of Middle Earth is free from the danger of Sauron’s forces.  For a moment the man’s countenance lightened as he let his father’s words settle on his shoulders like a healing cloak but soon despair returned and the elf lord realized there was more troubling his son, “What is it my son, what is still troubling you?”

 

            Aragorn didn’t meet his father’s eyes, “I killed a man.”

 

            For a second Elrond’s breath caught in his throat but he quickly recovered and reached out to rest his hand comfortingly on his son’s shoulder, “What happened?”

 

            Slowly Aragorn raised his head and when his eyes finally met those of his father he began his tale, “We heard of road bandits who were attacking wagons along the road to Fornost so the rangers decided to use one of the ranger’s families as bait.  The back of the wagon was packed with rangers and covered with canvas before the wagon headed down the road in hopes of finding the bandits and bringing them to justice.  I suppose you could say were lucky because it wasn’t long until we encountered the bandits.  They were ruthless ada, taking the ranger’s daughter captive until the family handed over the goods.  The bandit holding the girl was standing right next to where I was hidden so I immediately threw back the canvas and jumped out of the wagon, surprising him enough that I could pull him away from the girl.  The bandit and I fought a long time and I kept trying to get him to give himself up but he was so fixated on getting whatever was in that wagon that he refused.   Late in the fight he broke left when I was expecting him to break right and I ended up with his sword to my throat.  I don’t know what happened but the next thing I remember is seeing my dagger sticking out of his stomach.  I . . I killed him ada!”  Aragorn completed his tale and stared at his hands in stunned silence as if he could still see the other man’s blood on his skin.

 

            Elrond slowly approached his son and gently took the man’s hands in his own, “You did what you had to my son.”

 

            Aragorn looked up at his father shaking his head vigorously and would have pulled away if Elrond didn’t tighten his grip.  “Ada, this wasn’t some fell beast, this was a man!”

 

            Elrond bent his head until he could once again meet the eyes of his son, “Yes it was a man but it was an evil man.  It was a man who would rather kill and steal than do an honest day’s work.  My son I’m proud of your actions not because you killed but because you protected the innocent.  There is no greater calling for man or elf than to protect those who are unable to protect themselves.  There is a great deal of evil in this world but as long as your heart remains true to the will of the Valar than you will remain worthy of being called hope.”

 

            Aragorn collapsed in the open arms of his father and spent long moments resting in the one place he had always found comfort.   Finally the ranger lifted his face, “Thank you ada.”

 

            Elrond smiled at his son, “You are most welcome.  Now come there are many eager to welcome you home and I’m sure your brothers are anxiously awaiting our arrival.”

 

            After the celebrating was over Aragorn remained in Imladris for many months while the power of the elves healed his soul.  Finally it was time for the ranger to head back out into the wild.  As the young ranger waved goodbye to his family he smiled because he knew that no matter what happened to him or what he did while he was away he would always be welcomed by his family who would help him get through all of his struggles.   

 

 

The End