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AN: Thank you for the reviews.  They’re really motivating me to update this story.  And don’t worry.  Estel will beat up Legolas at something.  This is slash free too, just to add in that.

 

Chapter 4

Tomorrow will come too soon

 

                  Estel glanced at Elrond’s turned back.  The lord was mumbling under his breath and writing furiously, totally engrossed in what he did.  Estel softly closed his books and slid out of his chair.  He was almost out of the room to freedom.

                  “ Ada,” Elladan pushed the door open.

Estel flattened his now 7-year-old body into the wall as the door pressed into him.

                  “ Yes…” Elrond trailed off, seeing Estel’s empty seat, “ Where did Estel go?”

                  “ I did not pass him,” Elladan shrugged.

Estel slipped out behind their backs.

                  He picked up his bow and quiver, running towards his hideout.  He had spent hours there, just shooting or practicing knife throwing.  He would rather be outside more than anything.  Nature seemed to just engulf him, showing his its secrets.  He wanted to be a Ranger, just like Elladan and Elrohir.  Estel fitted an arrow into his bow, still far from the hideaway.  He slowed his run slightly, taking careful aim before letting the arrow fly.  His sharp ears let on to another’s feet.  He glanced back.

                  Elladan was at a full sprint, and quickly gaining ground on him.  Estel broke into a sprint, weaving in and out of the trees that seemed to move to protect him.  A tiny opening appeared and he leapt into it.  Elladan swept by.  Estel slowly crawled out only to run into Elrond.

                  “ So you try to evade me yet again, Estel?  Take me to this place so that I do not worry needlessly,” Elrond said, “ I know it is here somewhere because you shot an arrow.

                  Estel sighed, motioning for Elrond to follow.

                  “ Ada.”

Elrond looked down at Estel.

                  “ Why does everyone have pointed ears and I do not?  I mean, you are my father and your ears are pointed.  And Elladan and Elrohir’s are also, but mine are not,” Estel finished.

                  “ Those that have more than or half Elvin blood have pointed ears.”

                  “ What are you?” Estel asked.

                  “ I am half-elven.  Elladan and Elrohir are somewhere between half-elven and full,” Elrond answered.

                  What about me?”

                  Elrond paused.  The 7-year-old caught it, glancing up at him almost worriedly.

                  “ You are less than half-elven.  Your-” Elrond stopped abruptly.

Estel could not know of his bloodline.  Not yet.

                  “ Did I have a different nana?  I thought Nana was theirs too,” Estel said.

                  “ Elrohir, Elladan and Arwen’s mother already went over the Sea,” Elrond answered.

                  “ Then who is Nana Êlenrana?” Estel asked.

                  “ She is a foster mother, someone who cares for those without a mother.  She has always taken care of my children,” Elrond answered.

Thankfully the questions stopped.  Estel pulled back the branches of a low tree.

                  They stepped onto a flat place and Elrond surveyed the place with an expert eye.  He had forgotten about this place.

                  “ This is an old training ground,” Elrond said, “ How did you come about this place?”

                  “ Just wandering’,” Estel shrugged.

Elrond nodded, moving closer towards the makeshift cloth target.

                  “ This is your arrow?”

Estel nodded at the bulls eye embedded arrow.

                  “ You shot that halfway across the field.  That’s a good half-mile.  Legolas and Elladan have taught you well.  You have elvish eyes,” Elrond said, “ And light steps and sharp ears.”

Estel grinned at his father’s praise.

                  “ Guess I’m just your average Edain.”

Elrond simply shook his head with a smiled, turning Estel back towards the homely house.  That, he decided, was the worst way anyone could describe Estel.

~*~

                  Estel approached the training with Elladan.  The Elvish boys of 12 were there to begin their warrior training.  Elrond had wanted to begin Estel early since the process was quite long.  No one in Elrond’s family doubted that Estel was not up to the challenge.

                  “ Good morning, I do hope you all are ready to run because speed and endurance are absolutes in the makings of a warrior.  I am Master Elladan,” Elladan clapped his hands briskly, “ I will lead us.  We are going on a short run.”

                  The group of 10 to 12 boys jostled each other to be first behind Elladan.  Estel smiled to himself.  This was no short jog.  The last time Elladan had said that, they had jogged Imladris’ borders.  Estel paced himself accordingly, knowing he could and would beat the other Elves, no matter what they said.

                  Elladan glanced back slightly to see how the boys were doing ten minutes into the run.  Many were pushing themselves too hard, but Elladan smiled, seeing Estel at the end.  The boy was nowhere near exerting himself.  Elladan had made sure Estel could endure long distances of traveling.

* If he survives this whole run, then I will speak to Ada about more extensive training.  Estel must be the best if he is going to be the Edain’s hope.

~*~

                  Estel’s legs were turning to lead as he faithfully jogged beside Elladan.  The other Elves had fallen back, used to suing quick bursts of speed compared to this run.

                  “ How are you holding up?” Elladan asked.

Estel glanced up with a grin at the light sweat covering his brother’s face.

                  “ The question is: how are you holding up?” Estel retorted.

Elladan shook his head, chuckling.  Some of the other Elves frowned at the little mortal making their leader laugh even as he ran faster than they.

                  “ I see I will have to instill respect in you yet.”

Estel shrugged.

                  “ Nah, just call off this jog soon and you will have it.”

~*~

                  Elrohir joined his brother.  Elladan straightened, wiping his sweaty face on his sleeve.

                  “ They look dead.”

Elladan glanced at his group, all lying on the cool grass eyes closed.  Only Estel half-sat up on his elbows, watching the older trainees fight with swords.

                  “ They are supposed to be the best,” Elladan lowered his voice, “ Estel lasted the whole run which some of the Elves did not.  He has been trained well.  I wish to ask Ada about more excelled training.  He will make an excellent ranger.  Nature is kind to him.”

                  “ I have seen it also.  I believe Ada will agree to harder training.”

~*~

                  “Hey, hey you, Hopie,” a voice yelled.

Estel quickened his steps on the marble walkway, but so did his pursuers.  He cast a glance back with a silent groan.  He was not as tall as the other Elves in his class and of course, the biggest just had to single him out as their prey.

                  “ Hopie, come here.  You are not even Elvish, yet then name you in our language.  Cursed a good word, they did.”

Estel’s steps faltered as fury grew within him.  Elrond had named him and his father’s praise meant everything to him.  Estel whirled around angrily.

                  “ What did you say?”

~*~

                  Êlenrana quickened her steps down into the arched corridor, hearing a scuffle.  Her face hardened when she found 3 boys, 2 hold Estel while the one used him as a punching bag.  Fury burned in her as Estel struggled against them with no avail.  She laid an iron hand on the leader’s shoulder.  He stilled in mid-punch as the other 2 froze.  Estel fell to the ground in a heap, coughing and breathing raggedly.

                  “ What is the meaning of this, boys?  Elrond will not be pleased to hear of anyone abusing his son,” Êlenrana asked.

                  “ He is not Master Elrond’s son.  I heard-” one began.

                  Estel stood with a soft cry and ran off, clutching his right arm to his body.  Êlenrana glared at the boys, using all of her self-control not to whip them right there.  Glorfindel walked up uneasily, catching his wife’s fury.

                  “ Take them to their parents, Glorfindel and explain that their child tried to bully Lord Elrond’s youngest,” Êlenrana said.

Glorfindel nodded.  He had passed Estel in the hallway.  The boy had been a blur of blood.

                  “ Come on, boys.”

~*~

                  Elrond found Estel lying face down on his bed trying to muffle his coughs and sobs.  Elrond grimaced at the blood staining the pure white sheets, most heavily where Estel was coughing.  This had not been a fair fight.  He sat beside Estel, smoothing the boy’s slightly coarse hair.  Elrond was surprised when Estel jerked away, his gold eyes brimming with more tears.

                  “ Estel.”

                  “ Why am I so different, Ada?  Why can’t I just be like the other kids?” Estel’s bottom lip trembled before he broke into another fit of coughs.

Elrond’s brow furrowed.  The boy was coughing up blood.

                  “ Your destiny is different, Estel,” Elrond said softly.

                  Estel let Elrond tip up his face.  Black eye, a bloody nose and swollen lip marred the boy’s slightly tanned skin.  The boy’s slightly coarse hair, which had never been as smooth as the Elves, had its fair share of blood in it also.  Elrond began to stand, but Estel tugged on his sleeve.

                  “ I don’t wanna be different, Ada.”

                  Estel’s sad gold eyes tugged at Elrond’s heart.  Elrond wanted to strangle the Elves that had done this to his son.  Elrond drew in a breath quickly.  His son?  Elrond crouched in front of Estel, laying a hand on Estel’s knee.

                  “ Some things cannot be changed.”

Elrond went to making a poultice for the bruises.  He noted Estel’s right arms seemed to evade his care.  Elrond gently bound Estel’s waist.  They had just about busted the boy’s fragile ribcage.  Elrond began to move towards Estel’s arm.

                  “ Ada, they, they,” Estel began.

                  “ Yes?” Elrond’s eyes darkened.

                  First they terrorized him again and now what had they done?  This was not the first time Estel had been picked on and certainly not the last.  Though they had finally caught his tormentors, Elrond knew Estel would not say anything if they began again.

                  “ They said that you are not my father,” Estel whispered.

                  Elrond’s eyes turned as black as the shadows.  He was well aware that Estel adored him because he felt the same for the boy.

                  “ Do not ever let them make you believe a word they say.  We are related,” Elrond replied.

                  “ But are you my father?”

Elrond turned wordlessly to Estel’s arm.  He could not lie.  When the truth came out, it could turn Estel away from him.

                  “ Ada,” Elladan rushed in, “ Estel, are you ok?  Êlenrana told me what happened.”

                  “ I am fine,” Estel stood abruptly, “ Please excuse me.”

                  “ I am not finished.  Sit,” Elrond ordered sharply.

Estel did as told.  Elladan watched his father kneel before the boy.

                  “ Don’t you ever, ever listen to them.  They lie to get the best of you.”

                  “ So you are my Ada?”

The hopefulness in Estel’s voice made Elrond cringe.  Elrond glanced up at Elladan before sighing.

                  “ No.”

Estel jumped up, running by.  Elrond stood, trying to stop the boy, but Estel pushed his hands away.  Elladan let his father brush by silently.  He did not know what to say to ease the distress in his father’s eyes.  Elrond looked back sharply.

                  “ Well, do not just stand there.  Help me find him.”

~*~

                  Estel angrily pushed branches away with his left arm as he ran.  His other arm throbbed with every step.  He glanced at it.  The wrist was heavily swollen.  It was most likely broken.  They had smashed it between his and a marble pillar.  He collapsed upon entering the secret place, his slight body shaking with sobs he felt safe crying only here where no one would ever know.

* If Elrond is not my Ada, then who is?  And why is he pretending to be my father?  Do I even have a family?

Questions muddled his mind as he slowly cried himself to sleep.

                  Elrond bent beside the boy.  He looked so small and vulnerable with the gentle starlight settling upon him.  Elladan and Elrohir softly stepped into the clearing also.  Both saw their father’s pain as he cradled the sleeping 7-year-old.

                  “ Ada,” Elladan began.

                  Elrond brushed by them.  His son was broken and yet no herb could he offer that would mend it.  He swiftly set Estel’s arm in the safety of Estel’s room.  Estel whimpered as the soft sheet fell over him.

                  “ Ada.”

Elrond climbed back on the bed, pulling Estel close.

                  “ Cry, nîn ion.  Cry tonight.  Tomorrow will come too soon.”