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AN: Thanks for all the reviews.  I know this is different than the way Tolkien wrote it, but I couldn’t find my ‘Return of the King’ book until after Chapter 6 was up, so this is kinda AU, but its not.  Arwen’s showing up, so she’ll have a minor role, kinda.  This is a slash free story, just to remind you.

 

Chapter 7

When control is lost

 

                  Elladan just stared at the man.  Not Estel, anyone, but Estel.  He swallowed before licking his lips and then opening his mouth.

                  “ If Ada agrees, then so be it.”

Elladan brushed by.  He paused to glance back to see Aragorn enter the dining room.

* Please say no, Ada.  If he died during this trip, I would never forgive you.  Or me.

~*~

                  Aragorn strode into the dining room area, bending beside Elrond’s chair.  Arwen could see only the back of the Elf’s head.  She frowned.  He had rather short hair for an Elf.  She turned her eyes back to the meal, half-listening to the conversation.

                    Draw up a chair, nîn ion,” Elrond said warmly.

                  “ I am not hungry, Ada.  I simply wish to ask your approval to join the twins when they ride out again,” Aragorn began.

                  Elrond sighed, putting down his fork.  He knew this day would come.  Elrond looked down, then up.

                  “ Orcs again?” Elrond asked.

Aragorn nodded.

                  “ Please, Ada.  You have never let me go on any hunting or scouting parties,” Aragorn whispered.

Elrond finally nodded after a long pause.

                  “ Go on.  Tell Elladan I have approved.  I cannot believe I am letting you go,” Elrond sighed.

Aragorn sent him a smile.

                  “ You will not regret sending me, Ada.”

He rose and brushed by Elrond’s chair to the other side.  Arwen’s brow furrowed.  He had never turned so she could see him and her curiosity had been piqued.

                  “ Ada, I did not know I had another brother,” she said softly.

Elrond sent her an amused glance.

                  “ Your grandmother taught you everything, but she did not unteach your eavesdropping skills.”

                  “ Ada.”

~*~

                  Aragorn slipped out at duck, popping one last grape into his mouth.  He glanced at the silver birches and aeglos in the garden and joy seemed to rise up in him.  He was going on a hunting trip, his mother had promised to remain here since the orcs were attacking many Edain settlements and he just felt…well…happy.  He began to sing softly ‘The lay of Beren and Lúthien’, but softly, for though his voice was beautiful, it was nothing compared to the Elvin voices.  He fingered one of the aeglos’, tracing the pattern of the petals, before glancing up when something moved at the edge of his eye.  His eyes just widened and his jaw fell.  Lúthien herself glided among the birches in front of him unknowingly.  Before he could contain himself, he cried:

                  “ Tinúviel, Tinúviel.”

~*~

                  Arwen turned, ending the song of Lúthien she had just been singing.  Her gray eyes widened.  Glórhen?  It couldn’t be.  She scrutinized closer, noting the darker hair, even golder eyes and unpointed ears.  He was but a mortal, but still, he had Glórhen’s manner about him.  She moved towards him through the trees.

                  “ Why is it you call me that name?” she found her voice, laying a palm on the last tree between them.

                  Aragorn’s head snapped up.  He glanced around, making sure the vision was indeed speaking to him.  He licked his lips nervously before answering.

                  “ I sang of Lúthien, m’lady.  You looked to be the one I sang of.”

                  Arwen smiled softly.  He was speaking the truth expecting a reprimand.  Her lips spread a bit more.  He would not find one from her.

                  “ I am not Lúthien, though many say I am in her likeness.  Who are you, Stranger?”

                  Aragorn almost chuckled.  He was not the stranger here.  She was.

                  “ I am no stranger, m’lady.  I have lived here all my life.  Estel, I was once called, but now I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn,” Aragorn answered.

                  Arwen’s eyes widened.  This, this…masterpiece was the cause of Glórhen’s death.  She tilted her head slightly.  Ada had said all things work for good…

                  “ We are alike then, Estel.  I am Arwen, daughter of Elrond,” Arwen replied, “ Walk with me.  I crave a companion.”

                  Aragorn hesitantly complied, holding out his elbow and then placing a hand over hers when it rested in the crook of his elbow.  Every hair on the back of his neck stood at attention, feeling her touch.  He glanced down at her beautiful Elvin face and then she up at him.  The doom of which he had sang of fell heavily on his heart.

                  “ Will you be leaving when Legolas arrives?” Arwen asked, breaking the silence.

                  “ Aye, Ada agreed to let me go at dinner,” Aragorn answered.

                  “ That was you?  I wondered who you were, but I only saw the back of your head,” Arwen replied.

                  “ I thought you were just a counselor’s daughter,” Aragorn shrugged, “ Too many throw themselves at the next eligible one they see.”

                  “ And you thought I would?”

                  Aragorn glanced down quickly, his eyes searching hers quickly for any sign of disapproval.

                  “ Tis not just you, m’lady,”

                  “ Arwen.”

                  “ Pardon?”

Aragorn’s brow furrowed in confusion.

                  “ Please do not call me m’lady.  My name is Arwen.  I would be pleased if you would refer to me by my given name.”

                  “ Then,” Aragorn paused, his mouth forming the word hesitantly as it came out softer than the other words, “ Arwen, it is not just you I think or thought that about.  I make it my habit to keep myself hidden.  Lord Celeborn came here once and taught me many of his secrets.”

                  Arwen watched him gently place his free hand on the trunk of a tree.  She heard the tree’s quiet whisper upon the wind and smiled.  Nature had bonded to him.

                  “ Tell me then,” Arwen titled up her head to look up at him.

                  He had a beautiful speaking voice, low, yet understandable.  He eyed her suspiciously.

                  “ You would want to hear of such things?”

Arwen shrugged.

                  “ Have we anything else to speak of?”

Aragorn glanced back at her.

                  “ No, m’lady.”

                  “ Arwen.”

                  “ No, Arwen,” Aragorn corrected, smiling slightly at her insistence of her given name to be used, “ We do not.”

They faded into the darkness, her light robes illuminating their path.  Only time knew where this meeting would lead.

~*~

                  Aragorn sat up in his room, overlooking the beautiful waters that flooded through Imladris, glistening in the early morning light.  He watched her glide through the gardens, radiant in the dim light.  Her clear voice was beautiful and a bird lighted on the finger she held out to it when it joined in on her song.  Aragorn smiled.  A nightingale, a bird beautiful in voice and look, just as she was.  The piece of graphite he held flew over the paper.  A hand lighted on his shoulder when he paused.  He turned away from the quick sketch.  Êlenrana sat beside him.

                  “ She is beautiful.”

                  “ Am I that easily read?”

Êlenrana just smiled.

                  “ As easy as this portrait is drawn.  You need to take a few classes in keeping your emotions hidden.  Some should not know of this liking.  Elrond, most of all,” Êlenrana said softly, taking the picture.

                  “ He would not approve?”

                  “ That is his baby.  He does not care who you are when he tries to protect her,” Êlenrana replied, “ Elladan wished to see you.”

Aragorn rose.

                  “ Estel.”

He turned.

                  “ May I keep this?”

~*~

                  Aragorn half-listened to Elladan’s brief as the elder twin filled in Elrohir and Glorfindel.

                  “ Go and pack.  We leave at dawn in 2 day’s time,” Elladan finished.

Aragorn rose to leave also.  Elladan stopped him.

                  “ I wish you would reconsider going,” he said softly.

                  “ I will be fine.  It will be a good experience for me.  Do not worry,” Aragorn lowered his voice, “ Ada has told me that my end is not my father’s.”

                  Elladan looked away.

                  “ Or Glórhen’s.”

Elladan’s head darted up, his blue eyes almost black.

                  “ I will be watching you,” Elladan began.

                  “ Everyone will be watching me.  There will be no time to fight orcs since everyone will be worried about me.  I am not made of glass,” Aragorn interrupted.

                  The door was pushed open slightly.  Elladan turned and smiled in surprised at his sister.  The deep burgundy robes enhanced her natural beauty even more.  She lowered her eyes slightly, seeing Aragorn.

                  “ And what brings you here, Evenstar?” Elladan asked.

                  Even he was surprised at the almost nervous jumble of words that fell from his usually calm sister’s mouth.

                  “ I, I was just walking by and thought that I might as well find Estel to, to finish…our…” she paused, “ Conversation from last night.”

                  Elladan glanced between them.  He bit back a smile.  Aragorn’s eyes were attached to Arwen and hers to him.  This was quite interesting.  Arwen had never shown an interest in any male outside the family since Glórhen and certainly never did anyone think she would remotely like Estel.  And then there was Aragorn.  He hid when he could from the maidens, trying to escape their clutches.

                  “ Go then.  We are finished.  We leave at dawn in 2 days, Aragorn,” Elladan reminded.

                  “ Ai, I know.  I’m sure someone will be watching-”

                  Elladan crumpled up a paper and threw it at Aragorn.  Aragorn deflected it with a smile.  Arwen gently took his hand, leading him away.  Elladan watched them from the doorway.  Elrond walked up.

                  “ I would have never guessed,” Elladan chuckled, shaking his head and turning.

                  “ Pardon?” Elrond’s brows knitted together.

                  “ Arwen and Estel,” Elladan made a sweeping motion at the 2, “ I would have never thought that they would find each other…em…appealing.”

Elrond was left alone staring after the couple.

                  “ Arwen and Estel?  No…”

He glanced again, catching Aragorn’s admiring glance and then hers a little later in secret.  His fingers drummed his lips before he turned the other way abruptly, running into Erestor.  Papers went everywhere, but Elrond did not stop.  Erestor stared after him as Glorfindel ran down the hallway to help.

                  “ He’s in an ornery mood.”

~*~

                  Gilraen looked at the picture Êlenrana had asked her to finish since there was nothing else Elrond would let the woman do.  Gilraen glanced over at the gardens, her gaze landing quickly on her son.  She smiled, seeing a beautiful young Elvin maiden on his arm.

                  “ Êlenrana?” Gilraen called to the woman nearby.

                  “ Yes?”

                  Êlenrana was quickly by her side.  This morning had scared Elrond to Mandos.  They had almost not woke her up and Elrond was dreading the day Gilraen would not, for he would be the one to tell Estel.

                  “ Who is that woman?  The one with Estel.”

                  “ She is Arwen, Elrond’s daughter.  She returned from Lorien last night,” Êlenrana sat on the bench beside the mortal, worryingly pulling the blanket tighter around the woman’s shoulders.

                  “ This is her?”

Gilraen referred to the picture she was finishing.  Êlenrana nodded.

                  “ Estel drew it.”

~*~

                  Aragorn was only too aware of the whispers of the Elves as they passed them by as they walked over the bridge towards the forest.

                  “ Pay them no heed.  They will speak of it now and then no more.  We are both children of Elrond, foster or not.  None here wish to bring Ada’s anger upon them,” Arwen said softly.

                  “ You read my mind, m-”

                  “ Arwen, Estel.  My name is Arwen,” Arwen didn’t even let him finish.

                  “ Ada taught me my manners a bit too well, I guess,” Aragorn shrugged with a sheepish smile.

                  “ Let us hope I can unteach you that annoying habit,” Arwen replied.

                  “ You wish to unteach me the proper way to address a lady?”

                  Arwen glanced up at him with a smile, hearing the teasing tone in his voice.

                  “ Just for me at least,” she answered.

Aragorn returned the smile, his gold eyes brightening into beautiful orbs of light.  Arwen breathed in softly at the sheer beauty amidst his rugged face.

                  “ You have the prettiest eyes,” she whispered.

She reached up a hand to caress his face.  She paused her hand in mid-air, quickly puling it back.  She pushed her dark strands behind her ears, turning her head down and biting her lip.  Aragorn watched her in confusion.

                  “ I am sure maidens tell you that all the time,” she finished looking away.

                  “ I do not pay any attention to those compliments.  They are used only for selfish gain,” Aragorn shrugged.

                  Arwen glanced up at his strong profile, so unlike the Elves’ softer features.  He had an Elvin handsomeness about him, though he was Edain.  He was a descendent of her Elros’, Arwen thought smugly, as if her father’s brother was responsible for the beauty.  Aragorn glanced down at her.  A smile lit his face, his eyes attached to her hair.

                  “ You forgot to duck under that last blossom tree,” he said with a chuckle.

Arwen put a hand to her hair, pulling out a handful of petals.

                  “ So many things have changed,” Arwen shook her long waves, “ Come, and help me get them out before the noon-day meal.”

                  Aragorn settled on the bench behind her.  He nimbly began to free the remaining flowers from the silk she called hair.  Arwen was glad he could not see her face, feeling her cheeks warm at his touch.  He was a warrior by build, but right now, to her, he was so gentle.

                  “ They are all freed, m’l-Arwen,” Aragorn said.

A soft tinkling of bells made them both groan slightly.  They were going to be late to the noonday meal.

~*~

                  Elrond’s eyebrows rose when his daughter and Estel entered swiftly and silently.

                  “ Why were you late, Arwen?” Elrond asked, his tone unreadable as he cut the tender meat sat before him.

Arwen slipped her napkin over her lap, glancing at her brothers.  Both seemed to be waiting for her answer also.  Her eyes then fell on Aragorn, talking and smiling with his blood mother.  She turned her head back to her father, knowing he did not approve of tardiness.

                  “ I went for a walk and was farther from here than I thought.”

                  Elrond nodded.

                  “ And you, Estel?”

Aragorn’s head darted up.  A smile lit the edges of his mouth.

                  “ I’m sorry, Ada.  Nana was speaking to me,” he said innocently, “ What were you asking?”

Arwen hid a smile behind a bite to eat.  Aragorn had heard the question, but was playing around.  Only he could do that without getting into trouble.  Gilraen caught Aragorn’s eyes meet with Arwen’s as they shared a secretive smile.  Gilraen glanced over at Êlenrana, who merely smiled.  Elrond waved a hand dismissively.

                  “ Eat, my son.  Soon you will not have the luxury of a warm meal.”

Aragorn swallowed what he ate, sending Elrond a smile.

                  “ Thank you for that fact, Ada, but I am still going.”

Elrond sighed with a shrug.

                  “ I tried.”

~*~

                  Aragorn released his sword from its protective sheath.  Elrond had given it to him when he turned 17.  It had actually been the sword Ereinion Gil-galad had let Elrond use, but never had bothered to retrieve it.  A soft hand on his shoulder jerked him from his thoughts.  He spun around.  Arwen ducked, so not to be decapitated.  She rose, putting her fingers on the blunt side of the blade.  Aragorn’s eyes showed surprise.  She was in his bedchambers.

                  “ I did not hear you come in,” he quickly sheathed his sword.

                  “ We Elves do have silent feet,” she smiled.

                  “ Usually…” Aragorn shook his head, “ Never mind.”

                  “ Ada told me you have the eyes, ears and instincts of an Elf.  He does not deal out praise lightly.  I am surprised I startled you,” Arwen said, “ I thought you knew and was going to scare me to Mandos.”

                  “ I was remembering,” Aragorn explained.

                  Arwen looked around his room, unorganized due to his search for the weapons, no doubt.  Aragorn continued his search for his knives.

                  “ Did you come to speak to me?” Aragorn glanced up from his rummaging, all too aware of her presence.

                  “ Elladan sent me to tell you Legolas has arrived,” Arwen finally said.

Aragorn stood quickly, forgetting his search.

                  “ Are you coming, Arwen?” he asked, pausing in the doorway.

                  She took his hand.

                  “ I will be used to this by the time you leave.  I will hate to see you go,” Arwen said softly.

                  “ I will be back, Nightingale.”

                  “ Nightingale?” Arwen looked up at him.

                  “ That slipped.  Forgive my liberty,” Aragorn began, slightly flushed.

                  “ I like it.  It is a beautiful nickname,” Arwen swung his hand, “ I hope it will cure you of saying m’lady.”

                  “ Of course, m’lady.”

Arwen pushed him with a laugh.  Aragorn did not retaliate though he returned her smile.  Arwen reclaimed his hand, gazing up at him and smiling as they walked on.  Above them, Elrond turned from his window, not able to watch it any longer.