Gilraen pulled Estel’s Elvish cloak around him tighter, pulling up the hood. She hated the winter, so wet and cold. Estel grinned up at her, his gold eyes glowing.
“ You promise to come in the Spring?” he asked.
“ And every Spring after that,” Gilraen smiled, kissing his forehead tenderly.
The month had been too short, but Elrond had to return to Imladris and she knew he was safer with the Elvin lord hidden away in the fortress. Elladan entered, his dark hair black with the rain beads in it.
“ It is time,” he said softly.
“ Be good for your father and brothers,” Gilraen ordered.
“ Im henin,” Estel said happily.
Gilraen glanced up, her dark eyes confused.
“ He understands,” Elladan filled in softly.
Estel mounted the beautiful horse, quickly becoming soaked in the rain. Gilraen waved as they thundered away. She sighed, turning back towards the city. Spring seemed so far away.
Estel dreaded returning to Rivendell. He quickly turned down a hall towards the library, hoping he would not run into anyone.
“ Well, if it ain’t Hopie, finally returned from Gondor. See your kin, Estel? See the animals? Where’s your Nana, Estel? Going to run crying to her again?” a hand pushed him slightly.
Estel remained silent, trying to move around them.
* Please Lady Varda, if you can hear me, make them leave
“ Mixed,” the hiss turned his head.
The 3 boys continued to jostle him, jeering all the while. Elrond watched from high above with a frown. He remembered how Estel felt all too well. Life was not easy when Elves and men considered you a half-breed.
Elladan angrily appeared from the shadows.
“ Again you bully my brother? I will not accept this. Again and you are expelled from my group,” Elladan said in a low voice.
“ We were just playing, Master Elladan,” the leader spoke up innocently.
“ Play with someone else,” Elladan’s blue eyes narrowed.
“ Yes sir,” the 3 slunk off.
Estel faced his brother.
“ Why did you do that? They will only continue even worse now.”
Elladan bent so they were eye to eye.
“ Because I will not let anyone hurt my baby brother the way they used to torment me,” Elladan whispered, “ Ada has agreed to let me and Glorfindel train you separately.”
“ Really?” Estel’s eyes glimmered.
Elladan nodded. Estel grinned.
“ I am sorry for snapping at you, Elladan,” Estel said.
Elladan ruffled Estel’s hair.
“ Come on, Estel.”
The 19 year old had drastically improved since his last watching, Glorfindel noted, watching Estel fight Elladan with the swords. The younger used his speed to his advantage, able to duck Elladan’s blows and tricks on a dime. A quick flick of Estel’s wrist caught Elladan off guard. Elladan dropped his sword with a loud curse.
“ When did you learn to do that?” Elladan shook his pricked hand, glancing up at his opponent.
“ Glorfindel taught it to me,” Estel grinned, “ I have bested you.”
Elladan collapsed to the cool grass with a sigh.
“ I give. What did Êlenrana feed you? Lembas?” Elladan said.
“ Nah, I just used a few of your tricks,” Estel grinned.
“ Get you to lunch, Estel,” Elladan threw a handful of grass up, only to get it in his face.
The boy still retained his childish feistiness. Estel caught sight of his mother and ran towards her, sweeping her up with a smile. Glorfindel’s eyes shadowed. Estel was so much like Glórhen. Elladan rose, taking the canteen from Glorfindel.
“ A 19-year-old beating up on you. Tsk, tsk,” Glorfindel chuckled.
“ Let me be. He is running me ragged. He remembers all the tricks I use and then he executes his own,” Elladan groaned, “ And now I have a class to teach.”
“ I will not tell Elrond that he is beating on you. I bet Estel could teach your class for you,” Glorfindel teased.
Elladan threw the canteen and the remaining water in it at Glorfindel before standing to hurry towards the large field where many Elves were gathered.
Gilraen slowly opened her eyes feeling the intense shaking. Elrond was bent over her, while a worried Êlenrana stood nearby.
“ Your handmaidens could not wake you. They feared you dead,” Elrond explained, “ Êlenrana, tell them I will be late to breakfast.”
Êlenrana nodded, leaving them without a word. Something was terribly wrong.
“ I am dying,” she whispered.
Elrond nodded, his eyes full of grief.
“ I am sorry.”
“ How long?” she asked.
“ A month, a year, decades. All I know from the symptoms from which Elros died from is that slowly it becomes harder to wake up, until one day, you fall asleep and you don’t wake,” Elrond answered, “ If there was anything that could be done, I would do it, but there is no cure.”
Gilraen grabbed his hand.
“ Estel’s 20th birthday is coming up. You will tell him of his lineage and pass to him the family heirlooms then?” she whispered.
“ I will-must live until after than,” she whispered.
“ You must tell him,” Elrond began to stand.
Gilraen grabbed his sleeve.
“ It will kill him, knowing one morning I will not awake,” she paused, “ Elrond, I forbid you to say a word of this to anyone. He must not know.”
Estel smiled cordially to the guests and such. He could not believe his father had thrown such an elaborate party simply because he came of age.
“ Estel,” a maiden called.
Estel inwardly groaned, forcing a smile, while all the while searching for someone, anyone that could help him. He caught Glorfindel’s eye. Glorfindel merely grinned and turned away. Estel groaned, forced to stay and let the many maidens his age crowd around him.
“ Estel is quite the hub of the ladies’ attention tonight,” Elrohir said with a grin.
“ Should we go save him?” Elladan asked.
Both looked at each other.
An intruder entered Estel’s room. It was well past noon and yet eh man slept on, drunk from the wine consumed last night. An evil smile lit the intruder’s face as he lifted….
Estel was brought to life as ice-cold water fell over his body. The intruder burst into laughter, before fleeing. Estel jumped to his feet.
“ Imuialion, get back here, Imuialion.”
Estel ran through the halls after the laughing Elf.
Estel paused, glancing over his shoulder. Êlenrana stood in a doorway, watching him, arms folded.
“ A good day to you, Nana Êlenrana. I trust you are well?” Estel jogged over to her, planting a kiss on her cheek.
“ I am. Imuialion and the twins planned that last night while you were drinking,” Êlenrana gazed at him.
He had only turned 20 yesterday. Êlenrana sighed, wishing for him to be a toddler again. They couldn’t protect him forever. Elrond had to tell Estel today of his identity. Gilraen was getting worse.
“ Have I done something?” Estel asked curiously.
“ Have you?” Êlenrana inquired.
Estel just grinned, turning to walk off. Êlenrana shook her head, turning to join her husband waiting in the room.
Estel found Elrond in the new library back to him. The lord seemed worried, his shoulders burdened with an unseen weight as he gazed southward.
“ You called for me, Ada?”
Elrond snapped around. Estel’s eyes flickered and he was immediately alert and wary. Elrond was not one to get caught up in his thoughts unless something was terribly wrong.
“ Come. Walk with a tired old Elf.”
Estel chuckled at Elrond’s mention of old. He knew his father was over 5 millennia’s old, yet he did not look a day over 40. Estel pulled slightly at the neck of the fine silks he wore. He would rather be in his traveling clothes than the soft, clean material. Estel glanced at the section of the hall. His eyes scrutinized a picture. He did not know Elrond had had a portrait done of him.
“ Tis my brother, Elros. He would have been about your age there,” Elrond read this thoughts.
Estel nodded, still staring at it. The first king of the Númenor looked a great deal like he did. Estel then noticed where Elrond had led them to: Elrond’s private study. None save Glorfindel and Elrond’s counselors were allowed in there. Estel’s eyes grew as he glanced around the enormous room decorated in silver and blue, the high king’s colors. A portrait of Ereinion Gil-galad hung centered on a wall and Estel’s jaw gaped as he gazed at the intricate Elvish circlet that served as the crown.
“ You have this?”
“ I was his heir.”
Estel turned and glanced at another set of items under a beautiful landscape of what Númenor must have looked like.
“ Name these.”
Estel glanced at them, knowing them by heart.
“ The Ring of Barahir, the shards of Narsil and the Scéptre of Annúminas. All are heirlooms of the house of Númenor. I thought they were lost,” Estel answered, his hand gently touching the scepter.
“ They are of your house, Aragorn,” Elrond replied.
Estel pulled his hand away from the scepter like it was fire as he searched Elrond’s eyes in confusion.
“ My house? Aragorn? Are you mad, Ada? I am Estel, your son. The son of Arathorn was lost,” Estel said.
“ The son of Arathorn was as lost as these heirlooms. He was merely concealed for a time from Sauron. You are Aragorn, son of Arathorn, descendent of my brother, Elros and the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor,” Elrond replied, “ And you know I do not jest in matters such as this.”
Aragorn was too stunned to say a word. He was the heir of Gondor? He was not Elrond’s son? His thoughts flew as Elrond spoke on without him listening. He could not take on these responsibilities. He wanted to be a Ranger, not a king in a gloomy old palace. He opened his mouth and then closed it.
“ Why am I so different? Why can’t I be like the other kids?
“ Your destiny is different.”
So this was his destiny? Aragorn shrugged slightly. Maybe it would hold a challenge in it. Elrond laid his hand son Aragorn’s shoulders.
“ You are truly the hope of men, Aragorn. Never forget your duty.”
Aragorn nodded, bowing slightly as he carried 2 of the 3 gifts.
Elrond turned his head.
“ May I still call you, Ada?”
Arwen dismounted, greeting her father with a kiss on the cheek. Elladan and Elrohir swooped down on her, engulfing her in a hug at the same time. Elrond smiled as her laughter -so much like her mother’s- rang clearly in Imladris as Elladan and Elrohir crushed her face with brotherly kisses on her cheeks in unison.
“ Glorfindel,” Arwen untangled herself from her brothers, giving the Elf a hug, “ I have missed you. And you too, Êlenrana. Imuialion, look how you have grown. It has been a long 18 years. I am glad to be home.”
“ Imladris is glad to have you here safe, Undomiel,” he said softly, Dinner is ready.”
Arwen took his hand. She looked up at him.
“ I believe Nana is smiling at us,” she motioned to the Gil-Estel already visible in the fading light.
Elrond kissed the top of her head amidst her dark hair. This was his baby and she had grown in beauty and grace since he had last seen her.
Aragorn stood outside the dining area. He made eyecontact with Elladan. Elladan quickly excused himself. Aragorn noted that someont resided the seat to the lef of Elrond’s chair. He shrugged. Either Elrohir had made a new maiden friend or it was an important dignitaries’ daughter.
“ What is it?” Elladan asked softly.
“ A messenger just arrived from Lindon. He speaks of the orcs terrozing Edain and Elvin settlements. Legoals will be joining us soon and Círdan will be waiting with a few more Elve sat the Havens.”
Elladan nodded. Aragorn grabbed his sleeve.
“ I wish to come.”