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Undo This Hurt by Michelle

It seemed like a good idea at the time!

Summary: Words he could not unsay. Things he could not undo... The thoughts of a father who sees his children drift away from him. Oneshot.

Timeline: TA 2957, the year in which Aragorn leaves Rivendell to start his travels.

Disclaimer: This vignette expands on happenings hinted at in the Appendices of LOTR. The characters and situations are not my original idea. They are Tolkienís, always have been, always will be.

Authorís Note: Written for the March Teitho Challenge "It seemed like a good idea at the time". Title taken from Toni Braxtonís song Un-Break my Heart.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Six years ago, it had indeed seemed like a good idea. In fact, Elrond had not even put much thought into the whole affair back then. The thought alone was outrageous and preposterous, and he voiced this opinion loud and clear. There was no mistaking his viewpoint.

He had done it before, more than once. Having a daughter like Arwen, with her raven hair and her piercing blue eyes, made a father cautious. She was high-born, beautiful to behold and of sublime character. Countless elves had surrendered to her loveliness. There had been many suitors over the years, noble elves each and every one of them, bending their knee before the Lord of Rivendell while asking for the hand of the Evenstar.

He had turned them all down. He was polite and understanding, but his refusal was always impossible to misunderstand. He saw a great future for Arwen, but not with any of those elves. And when it came down to it, he was simply a protective father who did not want to part with his only daughter.

Those dalliances had never lasted long. Arwen would be courted and her suitor would take her on long walks in the gardens. There would be whispered promises and coy smiles. And then Elrond would intervene and the walks and smiles stopped. Arwen would go back to her needlework without a word of reproach for her father.

And then Aragorn had come along, a mere babe of two years clutching Elrondís robe while he cried bitter tears for the father that had abandoned him. How could Elrond resist the innocent eyes, the naive questions and later the joyous smiles and loving hugs? Aragorn had found his way into Elrondís heart. Had invaded the fortress that was his affection and taken down barrier after barrier without even trying. And Elrond had given and nurtured and loved. And he had done it gladly.

And that is how the man thanked him! Setting his eyes on the one price Elrond could not Ė would not Ė give. He had noticed the secretive smiles and gazes. But Aragorn had only been twenty at the time, hardly old enough to bind himself. Elrond had believed it to be infatuation only, and had actually taken pride in the fact that Arwen seemed to be too gentle of heart to discourage the inexperienced young man.

Putting a stop to it all had been a footnote in the happenings of that day. There were patrols to take care of, two wounded rangers that needed surgery, the household in disarray because of a simple broken platter that had belonged to Gil-Galad. And between it all Aragorn had come up to him and asked for the right to court Arwen. His knee was bent, his eyes lowered respectfully, just like all the other suitors before him. And Elrond had forgotten it was the son of his heart before him, had rebuked him and made it all but clear that the world needed to be turned upside down before there could ever be a union between Aragorn and Arwen. He had asked the impossible of a man who was young and untried, just to stop Aragornís advances on his daughter.

Their talk was over in less than half an hour and only in the quiet of the night, when Elrond had nothing but his dark thoughts for company, did he feel the first sting of heartache.

What had he done! What had he been thinking, choosing his daughter over his son? Treating Aragorn like a stranger, dismissing him like that? Doubt took root in his thoughts and grew and festered like an untreated wound.

What had he done...? A thing he could not undo. Words he could not unsay. And the sting of guilt grew with each time Aragorn would not meet his eyes in the following weeks. With every time Arwen would skip dinner and instead stay in her quarters. They entered a dance, the three of them. For six years they danced a minuet where each step was predetermined. Every word between them was weighed, every gesture measured. And the easy understanding he had with Aragorn was gone, just like the deep trust he shared with Arwen.

Arwen had given up first, leaving Rivendell for Lothlůrien. He had seen the longing glances between Aragorn and her and if he had believed this would be a passing fancy; those gazes told him otherwise.

Aragorn instead had made himself useful, but scarce. He would go on patrols or ride with the rangers. He would never be anything but polite to Elrond, but the elf was not father, but lord now. Never again had he heard the affectionate term from his foster son. They would only meet on formal occasions, when Aragorn would address him with his full title and would be addressed thusly in return. They hid behind those empty words like they were shields to ward off hurts. Instead they were weapons and the wounds they caused never healed or stopped bleeding.

And now Elrond stood on the balcony of his study, overlooking Rivendellís courtyard; and in this courtyard, a lone ranger in elven garb. Six years had passed since that fateful day. Many days in which he could have attempted to say the words that would undo the rift between them. He had kept quiet, though, wallowing in his own hurt and guilt and hoping the human would simply outgrow his feelings and shed them like an old skin.

There he was, checking the tack of his horse and the gear that was attached to the saddle. Just last evening he had bowed formally before Elrond, asking him Ė nay, informing him Ė of his immediate departure. And the sad eyes of the twins told Elrond that they had known of this. Everyone had known; everyone but him.

Aragorn was still there. If Elrond went now, he could still speak with him. But what to say? Where to start rebuild the lost trust? This was a problem beyond his fabled wisdom and so he simply stood, rooted to the spot, memorizing how his sonís face looked when he was in deep concentration. Noting the grim set of his jaw and the stiff posture. Seeing Barahir on his finger. Realizing that he wore a shirt that was Elladanís.

Then Aragorn obviously decided he had tarried long enough. He swung up on his horse and took up the reins. There was no delegation to see him off, no family to kiss him on the forehead and wish him a safe journey. The courtyard was deserted and the horseís snorts sounded loud in Elrondís ear.

And then, Aragorn turned the horse and his eyes came to rest on Elrond as if he had known the whole time that the elf was there. He looked at him but for a moment and then was off; leaving the courtyard empty and still in the morning sun.

And Elrond, Lord of Rivendell, felt failure weigh heavily on his heart.

The End

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