A Father's Promise by Ithilgael|
Rating: K+ (I think)
Warning: Sad, but fluffy
Disclaimer: I sadly own nothing, and I do not make any money with it. Please donít sue me. (Not that you would get very much...)
Authorís Note (1): Written for the Teitho Challenge "First Sentence"
Authorís Note (2): The Story is written from Elrondís point of view
Imladris, the Eve of Winter Solstice, 2951 Third Age
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now as he was watching his youngest son among his foster brothers and his sworn brother he was no longer so sure ... They all laughed, but the laughter was not reaching Aragornís eyes ...
It had been decided, when Estel had started to live in the last Homely House, that they would tell him on the day after his 20th birthday, the day after he had reached his majority...So that he would be able to celebrate before he knew about his burden.
At that time it had seemed a good idea, but now ...
Gilraen and he had told him, on that fatefull day ...of his heritage, ... his duties as the heir to the throne of Gondor, ... his obligations to the Dunedain, the Rangers of the North ...
His little Estel had entered his office on that day, 9 months ago, with a smiling face, answering the question of his oldest brother whether he would join them on the hunting trip in the afternoon with the sentence "Only when you do not use a bow Elladan, I donít want to end up in the Healing Wing." He had not heard the answer of his oldest son, he had just watched his youngestís smiling face, hoping it would still be able to smile so innocent and happy after this conversation ... Then they had told him ... The smile had been gone when his little Estel had left his office.
His sons had not left for a merry hunting trip that day, nor in the next nine months.
Nobody knew how, but Estel had left the Last Homely House instantly after the conversation, had packed a few belongings, saddled his horse and left into the wild. Nobody had seen him. He had just vanished ... And with him the laughter that had once lived in Imladris ...
His brothers had tried to find him in the following months, with countless search troups, but they had been unable to do so. It seemed Estel had had good teachers ... They all had teached him well, Glorfindel, Erestor, Elladan, Elrohir, Legolas, and he himself ... It had been the first time that he had wished to not have educated his son so well.
Then Aragorn had returned. In the first week of Rhiw (1). Everybody had been happy to have him back. They all had tried to ask him what he had done in the months of his absence, but he had refused to answer their questions, just saying that he had needed time to think.
Now, the Hall Hall of Fire was decorated as it should be on the Winter Solstice (2) eve. The fires burned merrily, mistletoes hang over the tables, the walls were decorated with evergreen, the delicious smell of the Winter Solstice meal was still hanging in the air.
The other members of the household had retired to their chambers to celebrate the rest of the evening with their families. Only the family of the Lord of Imladris was still in the Hall of Fire.
Lindir was playing all their favourite Winter Solstice songs. Nearly everything was as it should be, just Estelís smile and pure laughter was missing.
They had already given each other their presents. Aragorn had gotten a lot this year. Everybody had tried to show him through their presents just how much they loved their little Estel. He had thanked them all, but there was still no smile in Aragornís eyes.
Now he was watching his son, who was claiming that he had had too much wine, ... although he had just nipped on his glass the whole evening, ... that he needed a bit of fresh air.
His son had returned thinner from his trip in the wild, and still he would not regain his weight, as he was not eating properly, something a father would always notice...
He watched his son as he went straight to the balcony doors, opening them, striding through them with confidend steps, inhaling deeply the cold winterís breath, ... and then he watched how his proud sonís shoulders crumpled in defeat.
He turned his gaze to the other occupants of the room, hoping against all odds that they had not witnessed his strong and proud sonís weakness. His son wouldnít want them all to see ...
Glorfindel, the reborn balrog-slayer, observed his former student with great sympathy, maybe remembering the time when he had returned to a world he no longer knew, so similar and yet so different to Estelís situation entering his fatherís office as Estel Elrondion and leaving it as Aragorn, son of Arathorn.
A vision came into his mind, ... Estel about 10 years old ... in his first weeks of weapons training with Glorfindel. It was early in the morning, Estel had already drawn his sword waiting patiently for Glorfindel to do the same. But the Blond had had problems, the blade just didnít want to leave its sheath. After a short while nearly every present guard and trainee at the grounds watched a furious Glorfindel trying to draw his unwilling sword and at the same time chasing after a giggling boy, running away from the big blond warrior straight to the Last Homely House. The boy somehow managed to enter the House and flee directly towards his fatherís office ... with a balrog-slayer at his heels. That incident had led to four weeks of stable duty and the translation of an old, and very long script in Quenya into perfect Sindarin under Erestorís strict oberservation.
His gaze traveled to Erestor, his stoic advisor, who had helped his little boy through the difficulties of ancient Quenyan grammer, the finer structures of Sindarin lyrics, and the correct way of declination in the Westron language.
... He was sitting in his office working on a very important trade agreement with Mirkwood, when suddenly his door crushed open and a furious advisor stormed into his room. He could swear that steam was leaving the nostrils and the ears of the advisor. While he desperately tried to remove the paper that covered his robe and hair. Then he noticed the quill which was attached to the adivisorís hand. While the advisor tried to shake it of, but it wouldnít move.
"Which one, I have three, four if you add the prince of Mirkwood", while he raised his eyebrow and tried not to burst out in laughter. While Erestor tried fruitlessly, his normally very tidy hair a mess, to free himself from the insistent supply lists...
"The little son of a warg, which looks like an innocent human child, which has been educated by your wayward twin sons."
"Ah, that one ..."
"Yes, THAT one."
Estel never told them how he had managed to cause the paper to attack the stoic advisor...
His gaze traveled further to his minstrel, who had stopped playing a happy Winter Solstice song when Aragorn had left the room.
They were sitting together after the evening meal, Glorfindel and Erestor occupied in their usual game of chess, Gilraen reading a book, and the boys sitting together and re-calling the last successful mischief they had committed. Elladan, Elrohir and Legolas were very proud of their recent deeds (During the day the angry cook, the furious stable master, and a hysterical young chamber maid had appeared in his office). And all four sinners were doubling over in their laughter. Gilraen and he had given up to chastisize them. It was futile ...
When they were done laughing like young elflings and were behaving again like what was acceptable at their age ... At least the elves in that group had reached their majority about 2500 years ago ... Estel asked Lindir to play a very sorrowful old song, and all looked up from what they were just doing. Estel ... asking for THAT song? But as Lindir saw the hopeful innocent look in Estelsí eyes he could not reject the plea and started to play the sad song. He made it through the first strophe without problems, establishing the mood of the song perfectly in the Hall of Fire. Then he started the refrain ... and there was a certain mis-tone which gave the beautiful sad song ... a funny note. Lindir made it through the song, establishing with each new strophe the sad atmosphere, which would be crushed by the refrain again and again and again. When the silver haired minstrel at last ended the song the four orcs had tears of laughter in their eyes and three elves were looking admiringly at the human child ...
It was the blond prince who giggled through his laughter: "Estel you have won our challenge, and now run or Lindir will skin you alive!"
His gaze returned to his three other sons, all of them had stopped their laughter.
Elladan with green hair and pink ribbons, ....
Elrohir, clothed only in his sleeping trousers, his bare chest decorated with very interesting multi-colored, small bumps, ...which strangely seemed to move...over his breast down to his abdomen and back up again ... running after a small form which disappeared behind a corner screaming "ESTEL, wait till I get you!" ...
The Prince of Mirkwood with a beard that would have made Gandalf the Grey very proud ...
He locked his eyes with that of the beautiful human woman. The book forgotten in her lap.
Gilraen laughing with her tiny little two year old boy in her lap. Her beautiful white silken dress all covered with marmelade in the form of tiny little hands.
He started walking over to his youngest son.
His boy sitting on a bed in the Healing Wing covered in mud and sniffing. And he himself trying to hold back his tears, only showing his stern healer face while he had to set his sonís arm. Only wanting to hold his little boy and not to cause him any more pain...
He stepped through the doorway.
"Estel, ion nin, come back inside. Itís cold."
Aragornís shoulders straightened, he had not heard him approaching....
"Am I your son, Lord Elrond? Or was Estel always just an illusion?"
His heart hurt as he heard his little boy address him with his title.
"You are my son, you will always be my son. You will always be Estel Elrondion. My little ion, my little Estel never was just an illusion." and after a pause he added: "Aragorn, son of Arathorn may have duties and destinies to fulfill, but Estel Elrondion can always come back to his ada."
He stepped closer to his son and embraced him carefully from behind. "Come back to your family, Estel, we need you back. Leave Aragorn to the wilds, where he belongs. Come back home."
Hopeful silver eyes met his "Will I always be your son, ada? Even when I am not able to fulfill my destiny?"
"You will always be my little Estel, I promise. ... And as for Aragornís destiny, ... maybe you will never have to face your heritage ... but if you have to, you will be victorious, you will be a good king, the best of all, and I will be proud of you, I promise. But in my heart, remember that well ion nin, you will always be my little Estel, with his broken arms, and his head full of mischief, I promise."
They turned around facing the Hall of Fire where seven pairs of swimming eyes awaited them.
His son was stepping forward slowly, unsure how his family would react. His brothers embraced him, taking him back inside. Back to his family.
...at that time it had seemed a good idea to tell Aragorn son of Arathorn of his heritage the day after his birthday.
Now his little Estel had to carry a heavy burden, much too heavy for his little boyís shoulders, because that he would always be, his little boy. But as he watched his youngest son among his brothers and family, he saw it, the spark had returned to his sonís eyes. And his laughter was genuine.
Aragorn son of Arathorn had gone back to the woods. HIS Estel was home.
(1) Rhiw the elvish winter season, which starts on the 1st december in the human calender.
(2) Winter Solstice, the shortest day/longest night of the year.