Between Darkness and Dawn
Chapter 24: Son of Rivendell
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Night had finally descended and the stars were out. The valley
was quiet and the breezes had cooled slightly, lifting up from the
floor of the ravine and brushing through the trees as they rushed
”Thank Ilúvatar they are out.”
Elrond sighed softly, thinking the words to himself as he gazed up into
the dark sky adorned with silver pinpricks of light. Their
distant beauty did little to ease the tightness in his chest.
The elf lord was seated on the steps that led from the northernmost
balcony to the gardens below. He made no attempt to hide his
presence and made no excuse for it either. It was not often that
the steps made a good bench, but tonight it was as far as he had gotten
in his nightly walk of the grounds.
Another sigh escaped his lips as he subconsciously crossed his arms,
pushing his hands up underneath the overlarge sleeves of the tunic he
wore. He hadn’t slept in days and had taken less food than could
even support an elf. Elrohir and Elladan were out again. He
didn’t even know where they were, but they never could sit around and
wait. On the other hand that seemed to be all he ever could
do. They had had no word from Mirkwood since Raniean and Trelan
went home, but Elrond knew that, if they discovered anything, Thranduil
would inform him. It had been months since Legolas and Aragorn
had all but disappeared. Elrond felt each moment
It surprised the elf lord when he sighed again. All of Rivendell
seemed to be holding its breath, waiting on what he would do
next. Only, he had no idea. He was at a loss and his heart
was weary, more so than it had been in a long time. Tonight the
weight of the years pressed down on him and he did not resist.
Estel was going to be the death of him yet. He had never had
cause to spend so much time worrying and grieving over any of his other
Elrond watched quietly as Celboril lit the lamps situated about the
garden grounds. The servant was caught up in what he was doing
and not quite paying attention to his surroundings, so it startled him
when a soft voice requested that he kindly not light the glow globe
next to the winding staircase.
“My Lord?” Celboril questioned, stepping around the ivy that wound
about the stone balustrade. The greenery had blocked his view of
The elf lord smiled softly. A smile that did not reach his eyes.
“Are you ill? Do you have need?” Celboril hesitated in his
questioning as he saw the weariness that lined Elrond’s face.
“You have not eaten or slept in days. I know you are troubled,
but the whole valley grieves your absence. Come, take your
rest.” Celboril extended his hand, intending to help Elrond to
his feet, but the gesture was not accepted.
The ancient elf that sat before him simply refocused his gaze out into the darkness of the gardens and shook his head slightly.
“Not tonight.” The piercing gaze that Elrond laid on his old
friend touched Celboril’s heart. “I do not require food or rest at the
“No, what you require is your sons home... all of them. But,
denying yourself what you need will help no one and only hurt you and
those you love.” The elf pressed quietly.
With the barest hint of acknowledgement, Elrond shifted his gaze back
out into the night shrouded gardens. It was the same evasive
tactic he always used when he knew Celboril was right but intended to
ignore him anyway.
“I will be in later, Celboril,” was the nearly whispered answer and the servant knew he would get no more out of his lord.
Quietly, the house servant moved off to continue his rounds. He
would check back in with Elrond when he had completed them. He
had seen Elrond through many trying times, but he had never really seen
the Elf Lord manifest his distress by denying himself food and rest
this way. It worried the servant. He was not about to let
his old friend fade away for lack of the necessities. Perhaps he
could even slip some of Elrond’s own tea to him. He feared that
the elf lord was distracted enough that he might not even notice.
Elrond knew full well what his friend was thinking. Celboril
hadn’t served in the house of Rivendell as long as he had without the
elf lord learning his habits and ways. He smiled softly as the
servant moved off into the dark. It wouldn’t be long before the
Lord of Imladris would notice that Celboril had returned.
Celboril had a penchant for watching over his liege. The elf
would come out to look after Elrond, standing in the shadows of the
balcony where he thought his vigil would be unnoticed.
Elrond shook his head. He was fine. He just needed solitude
this evening and a chance to sort out the chaos in his heart.
Dread...and an overwhelming darkness...
They had been his companions for the past few months. Seething to
the top and receding to the farthest recesses of his heart, the
emotions had haunted his waking hours. Sometimes it felt as if
the weight of Middle-earth rested on his decisions, or lack
thereof. And yet the ones that caused him the greatest distress,
his sons, had minds and wills of their own. He had to learn to
trust them to let them go. Elladan and Elrohir were old enough...
but Estel? His head said yes, but sometimes his heart said
no. His dealings with the race of Men, a people that was
perpetually younger, had taught him that distrust was the best
choice. They never lived long enough to see the results of their
impetuous decisions, never were privy to the long-ranging effects of
their choices. They died too young, too swiftly and often too
brutally to ever know if they had been a hindrance or a blessing to
their race. Only those far older could ever recount their course
and weave it into the tale of humanity.
And how would that tale read...after all was said and done and his own
part in their history was told someday, far into the future?
Would he have helped, or would he have failed them?
Elrond let his head sink into his hands. No, it wasn’t Estel he
doubted. It was himself. He had treated Estel as an adult
for long before his brothers had been ready to accept him as such...
but he had to wonder if he had made a mistake somewhere, if he had fed
rather than tempered his youngest’s natural inclination towards danger.
Not too long ago he had been forced to re-look at all the pain
surrounding the loss of his wife, and the dull ache of that had only
just begun to fade. Now, faced with the probability of having
lost Estel, the grief was simmering just below the surface, waiting for
him to let his guard down. His wife, his brother, his parents,
maybe someday his own children, not to mention the countless
Dunèdain he had befriended and sheltered over the years...
Why? Why was he destined to always love and lose? Why did
he keep taking that hurt upon himself so willingly when he knew so
painfully well that, in the end, all humans perished?
//“Tell me, Peredhel, is your heart that calloused or do you simply enjoy pain?”//
Elrond had long ago forgiven King Oropher for speaking those unthinking
words to him shortly before the final battle of the Last
Alliance. He had to wonder with a wry smile what the elf would
have thought of his grandson. Yet at the same time, the former
King of Mirkwood’s words came back to him often, perhaps echoing with a
faint ring of painful truth.
Fishing in the pocket of his robe, he retrieved the Ring of
Barahir. It had been cleaned and polished and it sparkled
brightly in the palm of his hand. Closing his fist tightly about
the heirloom, he glanced back into the darkness of the garden.
Too much. It was all too much for his heart to consider, too much
for his mind to wrap its logic around. Another sigh punctuated
his weariness and he glanced upward, finding the twin stars above
Imladris and hoping they would guide his sons home. All of them.
The journey home had been a long one. When the great eagles
finally came to rest in the courtyard of Imladris Estel was asleep,
sprawled forward over Gwaihir’s shoulder blades and nestled into the
downy feathers for warmth. The repetitive motion and feelings of
weightlessness had lulled his tired mind and body into a deep peaceful
sleep, something he hadn’t experienced in many nights.
Legolas slipped quickly from Minhalthain’s back and walked to Gwaihir’s side.
“Your friend has fallen asleep.” The bird’s deep, soft voice finally stirred the ranger and he groaned slightly.
Aragorn’s mind was on the verge of deciding whether he should get up or
snuggle back down, when Legolas’ hand touched his shoulder and shook
him gently. Jumping lightly up onto the low retaining wall of the
courtyard, Legolas was able to reach his friend on the bird’s back.
“Estel.” Legolas laughed as the human frowned and tried to move
away, nearly falling off the other side of the great eagle.
Gwaihir compensated quickly, stretching out his wing and catching the man.
“Come on, you are not abed yet. Wake up.” The elf shook the
ranger harder, trying to lift the man into a sitting position.
The jostling motions finally woke Aragorn who pushed himself groggily
up and looked around, momentarily disoriented. His tousled hair
and confused gaze caused the prince to laugh lightly.
“We are home. Now come, quickly. Gwaihir tires of hauling your
dead weight around.” Legolas jumped back to the ground lightly
from his position on the courtyard wall.
Much slower than his companion and with far less grace, Aragorn slid to
the ground. He was finally pulled back to partial alertness when
his boots hit the stone walkway. He swayed slightly as he
reoriented himself to being upright. He didn’t even shrug off
Legolas’ hands as the elf gripped his arm tightly, keeping him on his
“Strider, are you awake?” Legolas asked quietly, turning the man to face him.
Silver eyes stared at the elf prince for several heartbeats before Aragorn drew in a deep breath and blinked several times.
“I’m awake,” the ranger responded softly as he followed Legolas towards
the house. It took him a moment to realize they were at Rivendell
and a moment longer to catch up with Legolas’ softly spoken thanks to
the eagles as they left.
“We’re home,” he stated flatly as his boot hit the first step.
“Strider, are you all right?” Legolas stopped. He still
fretted that the antidote hadn’t worked correctly. He reached for
the small vial he had brought back for Lord Elrond, fully intending to
make the human take an extra dose if he had regressed.
Sitting down slowly on the large step, Aragorn concentrated on his
surroundings. His sleep had been deep and peaceful. Nothing
had intruded on it, not even the night terrors he had suffered from
constantly in Angmar. His thoughts were sluggish and he was
having a hard time waking up his mind. He could still feel the
receding fingers of poison in his system and shivered slightly.
“That’s it! What’s wrong? You must tell me. Strider,
do you need more antidote?” Legolas was kneeling in front of him
now, uncorking the glass vial.
Legolas tried to banish the sick feeling that chased around the pit of
his stomach. He had done his best, but the fear that it had not
been enough, or that, Valar forbid, he had unintentionally created even
more problems was never very far away. The prince was glad that
he wasn’t really a healer by trade. He would never have been able
to take the nervous strain.
Aragorn’s fingers slowly wrapped around the elf’s, halting his movements.
Blue eyes focused intensely on grey, searching the ranger’s face.
“It is well, Legolas. I just... I had a hard time waking
up. I haven’t slept that soundly in over a month. And my
mind is still sluggish.”
“Is it the poison?” Legolas’ eyes were locked on his friend, his
gaze searching. “I knew we shouldn’t have stopped your treatments
“Yes,” the ranger answered simply. “But it is leaving my system,
slowly. So you can stop sounding like Elladan. Let us give
the sample to Ada and if I continue to need more treatment he can make
more with the extra lichen we brought back.” He smiled softly at the
elf. “Lets go in. It’s cold out here.” Aragorn rose slowly
to his feet once more.
Legolas was not at all convinced, but followed his friend into the main house.
Rivendell was quiet. The lights had been lit for the evening but
no one was about. In fact, it felt as though no one were home at
all. Legolas trailed a bit behind Estel and walked from room to
room looking for any occupants.
They found no one. Even Elrond’s study was empty, which was unusual. It was slightly unnerving.
“I think I’ll go look out back.” Aragorn spoke softly into the quiet
that surrounded them. “Will you be in your room?” He turned
to gaze at Legolas. His eyes were brighter and he appeared more
coherent than he had earlier. The wood-elf relaxed a
little. Perhaps everything would be all right after all.
With a small laugh Legolas stepped towards the hallway. “I think I
shall go see if Celboril is in the kitchen and has anything left over
from dinner. I could eat!”
“That’s because you refused to in Angmar! I swear Legolas, if you
always insist on skipping meals whenever you’re worried you will waste
away into nothing.”
“Whereas, if I followed your example, I would be able to punch holes in
the snow like a great, cloddy human. I see your point!” Legolas’
cheerful retort trailed off into laughter.
Aragorn shook his head, smiling as he headed for the northernmost balcony, hoping to find his father or brothers there.
The night had deepened and passed. Elrond realized with a start
that it had slipped by without his awareness, so deep in thought had he
When he pondered on what had drawn him from his thoughts, he felt the
small tug at the back of his mind alerting him that someone was on the
balcony behind him. Thinking it was Celboril come to draw him
back into the house, he sighed and spoke aloud.
“Yes, yes I know, I have lost all sense of time once again. As
you wish, I will...” Elrond’s smile faded as he stood and turned.
His gaze lighted on the slender figure that stood at the top of the
stairwell. It was immediately obvious that no elf had come to
That voice. That was the one he had hoped to hear every
night. Now that he could, the elf lord inexplicably felt a hot
ire rise in his heart. The emotion surprised him and he found he
had no voice.
Aragorn lived. His son was alive. With a start, he realized
that he hadn’t actually expected him to return home alive this time,
but here he was. He had come back, again...again after who
knew what had happened to him. Whatever had befallen his mortal,
human son, Aragorn had once again been beyond his reach, his aid, his
help. Perhaps it was destined to be this way for the rest of
Estel’s achingly short, human life. The elf lord didn’t know if
he could handle that. Turning on his heels Elrond walked out
towards the gardens, needing to clear his thoughts.
His father’s abrupt reaction surprised the human and he moved quickly
to follow. It was dark on the balcony and his eyes had not yet
adjusted to the lower level of light. He was simply fixed on the
gently glowing elf as he stepped forward. In his haste he stubbed
his boot against the edge of the balcony railing, throwing him off
balance and into the opposite wall. His wounded shoulder hit the
stone hard and he winced, sucking his breath in quickly and stifling a
The sounds of distress were not lost on the sharp, elven hearing.
Elrond turned quickly back and took the stairs two at a time, his ire
temporarily forgotten. When Aragorn opened his eyes, the elf lord
was standing directly in front of him. Things were moving much
too fast for the human this evening and he was having a hard time
keeping up with everything. So he was surprised when strong hands
gently took hold of his shoulders and moved him back into the dim light
of the nearest glow globe.
Before he could explain anything, Elrond had pushed back the ranger’s
tunic, exposing the still healing wound. The black tendrils of
poisoning were still easily visible beneath his pale skin.
“Estel...” Elrond’s voice held so much sorrow and horror that it nearly broke Aragorn’s heart.
“Ada, I’m...” His explanation and apology was cut short as the elf lord
pulled him quickly inside the house and drew him into the pantry where
he stored all his healing herbs and medicines.
Indicating he wanted Aragorn seated on the wooden table, the elf lord
kept up a running, one-sided conversation, his voice soft and inflected
slightly with the sadness in his heart.
“Estel, that wound has morgul poisoning in it. Do you know how
much danger you are in?” He shifted aside vials and pouches
looking for just the right one. He didn’t even want to ask how
the ranger had gotten the wound. Didn’t want to know why it
looked so dangerously old.
“Ada, I know...”
“No, you don’t! You are mortal, Aragorn!” Elrond’s tone of voice
took on a slightly harsher edge as he spoke over the top of the human.
The ranger cringed imperceptibly at the use of his name. It was
rare to see Elrond this upset. Aragorn had heard the ‘mortality’
lecture before, but never with quite as much pain or striking ire
behind his adopted father’s words.
“Mortal,” Elrond repeated the word as if it were either painful or
distasteful to him. At the moment, Aragorn couldn’t tell
which. “How much do you think a father’s heart can suffer your
adventures and escapades, never knowing if you are coming home or the
reason for your absences? Even your brothers are not as slack in
keeping me apprised of their whereabouts as you have been these last
few years.” Elrond’s anger had found a voice and it was fear and
worry for his youngest child that colored his words. He found he
was repeating himself out of total frustration at his helplessness the
past months. His worry vented on his youngest son, coming out
harsher than his hurting heart had intended.
“Then you show up in the middle of the night with morgul poisoning as
though nothing were the matter! And it’s not the first time
Estel, it’s not. Do you realize the darkness that has been my
companion the last few months? It was as though hope itself had
been extinguished in Middle-earth, and I feared for you.
Obviously I was right to worry! And what state is Legolas
in?” Elrond turned back to the human that sat behind him, causing
the ranger to pull back slightly. The hurt in the young man’s
eyes softened the heat in the elf’s lord’s heart, but it was the quiet,
elvish voice behind him that brought him up short.
“Legolas is fine,” the elf prince replied softly in the Grey
Tongue. He moved into the room, stepping in front of Aragorn and
staring up into the huge silver eyes that watched him carefully.
The ranger’s ragged breathing belied the fact that the man was near
tears and Legolas smiled sadly at him. Tonight, the human looked
as young as the elves around him truly believed him to be.
Aragorn hadn’t been prepared for the full force of his father’s
worry. He was still recovering from his time with the
Nazgûl and wasn’t handling Elrond’s response very well.
Legolas knew from past experience that this lecture had been coming and
it was only a matter of time. Elrond was infinitely more patient
than his own father, but that didn’t mean he worried for his children
any less, or was any less hurt by the nearly constant trouble Estel
seemed to have been in lately. Having lived nearly a thousand
years longer than the human, Legolas had the lecture down pat and could
recite it in his sleep, although he wished he could spare his friend
the experience this once.
Gently Legolas began untying the ranger’s tunic and pushed the leather
jerkin back off of Aragorn’s shoulders, providing Elrond with a clean
view of the ragged, black cut. Knowing how the rest of the speech
went, Legolas continued talking softly, trying to forestall it for the
“Nothing that has happened the past four months was Aragorn’s fault. In
fact, if the truth be told it was probably mine.” He shushed his
friend when Aragorn started to protest. “Something that has
haunted us from my past caught up with us again.” The elf
hesitated, realizing how much of their lives that phrase
described. He regretted always dragging Aragorn into the battles
of his past, another detriment of having lived so long.
“Be angry with me, my Lord, not him,” the prince said quietly.
Legolas turned his full attention to the elf behind him. Elrond
stood with his arms crossed, listening to the Silvan prince. His
face was set, not unlike Legolas expected, but he was listening, which
was more than the prince’s father would have been doing at this point.
“Go on,” Elrond prompted. He wanted to hear this story.
Legolas took a deep breath. It was just as well he had to tell it this time. He wasn’t sure Aragorn could have.
“We ran afoul of the Nazgûl, the Witch-king who took me so many
years ago and tried to enslave me. He wanted to interrogate
us.” He wanted...” Legolas had to stop a moment before
continuing. “He wanted to know who Estel was and why we protected
Elrond pushed past Legolas, his anger forgotten as fear gripped his
heart. Aragorn had remained quiet through the entire explanation
- too quiet. So that was the reason Elrond could not see his
son’s past or present the last few months. That was why Barahir
had been abandoned. The human had been wrapped in a dark void,
isolated from the elf’s ability to find him through the gift of
foresight. And that void had been a Nazgûl.
Gently the elf lord took the human’s face in his hands, looking deeply
into the silver eyes that gazed back at him. Aragorn swallowed
hard, allowing his father to search his soul.
“I’m sorry, Ada,” he whispered softly, finally finding his voice.
“Oh, Estel.” Elrond pulled the young man forward against him and
held him tightly. “Did he discover...?” the elf lord could not finish
the question. His arms tightened about his son as he felt the
tremors that chased through the human. If it was known, then
Aragorn was safe nowhere on Middle-earth. Yet the hounds of
Mordor themselves were going to have to come knocking at Rivendell’s
gates before they could have the human while Elrond had any say in the
“No.” Aragorn answered quietly, “But he tried.” It was enough of
an admission to make Elrond’s heart clench. He could well imagine
just how the Nazgul had tried to coerce confessions from his captives.
The elf lord stepped back, his hands resting on the ranger’s bared
shoulders. The fading bruises were easier to see now and Aragorn
dropped his gaze.
“I was coming right home, I swear, we both were,” he started to explain
when Legolas reappeared in the doorway, his departure having been
unmarked by father and son. The elf carried a blanket with
him. He knew that Aragorn was easily susceptible to the cold
while he was still healing. He moved forward and held it out
toward Elrond, but the elder elf was not paying attention to him at the
moment, his gaze still locked on the human.
“I never meant to worry you. I’m sorry,” Aragorn apologized again.
Elrond cupped the ranger’s face with his right hand and nodded in
response to the admission. He knew. He smiled softly when
Aragorn leaned forward wearily and rested his forehead against the elf
“I’m glad you are home.” Elrond whispered quietly. He did not
stay upset long, he never did. The hot, tightness in his heart
had dissipated, leaving behind the knowledge that perhaps he would have
to say goodbye to Estel someday, but not today. Perhaps he would
always love and lose, but to not love would be the true loss.
That was what his heart reminded him every time he looked into his
youngest son’s eyes.
“I promise not to leave for awhile. I will stay near.”
Aragorn answered just as softly. Truthfully, Aragorn had no
desire to go anywhere. If he never set foot outside of Rivendell
again for the rest of his days, he would be happy.
With a grateful nod Elrond withdrew the Ring of Barahir from his pocket
and held the silver circle out to Aragorn. “I do believe this is
yours,” he spoke softly as the human drew in a small breath.
“Your brothers found it when they were out searching for you with
Raniean and Trelan.”
Aragorn smiled slightly and slipped the ring on his hand. The
memories he had so long repressed in the Nazgûl’s keeping crowded
to the front of his mind and settled quietly once more deep within his
heart. He accepted them back as easily and readily as the
heirloom on his finger. His secrets were safe once more and so
was he now that he was back amongst his family. He realized that
both he and Legolas had totally forgotten that they needed to retrieve
the ring. He was glad his brothers had found it for them.
“I hid it so he would not find out who I was,” Aragorn spoke quietly
almost as though answering his own question. “And because of
Legolas he never did.”
“The poison still causes him to chill easily.” Legolas explained
after a moment, hesitant to break up the quiet conversation. He
had heard the softly spoken confession and smiled gently at the
ranger. Elrond realized Legolas was still standing there,
awaiting his attention. The elf lord turned towards him and
accepted the blanket, draping it lightly around Aragorn’s shoulders as
the prince continued speaking. Grateful for the warmth, Estel
held it tightly about him and listened as Legolas continued.
“The Witch-king poisoned Estel so that we had no choice but to go to
him in Angmar. He used this poison on many other people as
well. It is how he kept control of his servants. He
administered only enough antidote to keep them alive, never enough to
fully heal them. After we were free, we created an antidote and
administered it to all the infected. I fear Aragorn was worse off
than most however, for the Witch-king often lengthened the time in
between doses of the antidote and lessened his strength, trying to wear
him down. The servants took to the cure we created very quickly,
but I fear Aragorn needs more and all I have is this one vial with me
that I intended to give to you.” He passed the small corked glass
to the healer along with a bag of the mosses they had collected from
the cavern pool. The explanation was quiet, automatic
almost. Legolas was hiding behind his ample diplomatic training
and Elrond wasn’t sure why. Legolas was like family, but now he
couldn’t seem to bring himself to meet the older elf’s eyes.
“Estel provided the base, and the rest was simple enough, once I
figured out the ingredients.” Legolas turned to the bench behind
them and began pulling herbs from the cabinets that lined the walls,
assembling the necessary items on the counter. He was trying to
sound reassuring, but insecurity lay hidden just beneath the
surface. “But perhaps too simple... Lord Elrond, please, I would
that you examine what I have done. I fear it may not be
adequate.” The terrible thought that at any moment Estel, Yrin, Tinald
and all the others up north might simply drop dead because he had
miscalculated something would not leave the younger elf alone. He
had never considered the incredible weight of responsibility a healer
carried and he felt woefully inadequate under its crushing press.
Elrond nodded slowly. “Of course, Legolas. Tell me what you did.”
Legolas detailed each step of the antidote preparation carefully,
trying to make sure he forgot nothing, and sometimes indicating various
ingredients now on the table with a gesture. Often he glanced
hesitantly to the older elf, seeking confirmation that he had done the
Elrond stared intently between the ranger and the prince, surprised by
what the young, Silvan elf was saying. What Legolas had done in
creating an antidote from scratch was something that even experienced
healers found difficult.
He had not thought when Legolas said he made the antidote that it had
been such a complicated one to construct. The essential careful
balance of the elements alone was a staggering task for a beginner.
Legolas stopped speaking. He saw confusion in Elrond’s eyes and
his stomach tightened nauseatingly. “Did... did I err? Was
that not the correct thing to do?” Color drained from the
prince’s face and he felt ill at the thought.
“No, no,” Elrond shook his head quickly. “I will examine the
compound more closely to be sure, but as far as I can tell you did
everything exactly right Legolas. That was not what I... forgive
me,” he assured quickly, seeing the fear tugging at the wood-elf.
Legolas looked relieved, but Elrond was still puzzled.
“Legolas, you say Estel was unconscious. How were you able to
create the antidote? Forgive me for saying this, but I did not
think that the Silvan elves were as adept in the healing arts.
Have you had some degree of training?” There was something more
to what had transpired under the Witch-king’s care than they were
letting on and Aragorn’s wide-eyed stare told him volumes. “How
have you come by this knowledge?”
It was Legolas’ turn to drop his gaze. He stepped aside and
glanced at Estel out of the corner of his eyes, unsure how to
proceed. Leaning around his father, Aragorn gently touched
Legolas’ shoulder, reassuring his friend.
“Ada will understand,” he whispered softly. The blanket
shifted off his shoulders and he grabbed the edges, pulling them
tightly about him once more for warmth.
“Your wound should be bandaged so you can get back into some clothing.”
Legolas countered, trying unsuccessfully to change the subject.
“Legolas...” Elrond questioned again.
“Mellon-nín, he has to know.” Aragorn pierced the elf with
a gentle look. “You can say anything in this house and you will
be safe.” The ranger turned to his adoptive father, “Won’t he,
“Of course. There is nothing you cannot divulge here,” Elrond pressed, his voice gentle as he realized the subject must be
difficult to discuss.
With a simple nod Legolas assented. He had known that someday he
would have to tell the elf lord about the memories he carried. He
just hoped it wouldn’t have come so soon. He felt uncomfortably
as if he had somehow stolen the knowledge, as if he was an
offensive intruder in a private place he should not have been. He
wasn’t sure how Elrond would react to idea that someone else held
intimate glimpses into his mind and heart that no other being on Middle-earth really had a right to know.
“I have memories and knowledge that are not mine.” Legolas
glanced up at Elrond. He could have limited what he said, but he
opted to tell Elrond the whole truth. He respected the older elf
and felt he had a right to know. “Sometimes... sometimes they are
like a dream, barely remembered. As if I lived another life...
but I know I have not. I see a beautiful, golden-haired elf
maiden, and the emotions that go with the sight of her face are not
mine, for she passed onto the Undying Lands ‘ere I had chance to meet
her. Yet,” he faltered for a moment, wishing to be released from
having to explain all this and yet knowing he must go on. “Yet,
sometimes they feel like mine, and I miss her.” He touched his hand
to his heart absently. He chuckled mirthlessly, his eyes begging
understanding and forgiveness. It was uncomfortable to think that
he was having these feelings about the lady he knew had been Elrond’s
wife, and even more uncomfortable telling Elrond about it. “But I didn’t know her. Although I met her mate when he was younger
and his twin sons, younger still than myself.” He stopped
speaking when Elrond drew his breath in sharply. Legolas had to
look away. He couldn’t meet Elrond’s eyes and tell him all this,
he simply could not.
Almost hoarsely, the prince pressed on quickly. He had to get it
out in the open. If Elrond despised him for what he knew, what he
had somehow stolen from him, then that was as much as he deserved.
“I see battles in my mind's eye that I have never fought, although the
sorrow of them sweeps over me if I give them too much leave. I
miss a brother I never had...” he shook his head. “I thought I
was going insane. Most of the memories have faded but I find that
I also have knowledge that should be foreign to me. The craft of
creating medicines and knowing herbs that I have never had contact with
in my life.”
Legolas swallowed hard as he continued. “I wasn’t really aware of any
of this until I was trying to make the antidote. I was
desperate. Estel was dying and I did not know how to save
him. Knowledge came to me then, things I should not have known,
but I latched onto them and forced them to consciousness...
unfortunately I seem to have brought everything else forward with
them. When you saved my life, when I died... there was a point
where I did not know if I was you or myself, so jumbled together were
our thoughts and emotions. I fear I have some of your knowledge
now and retain some of your memories. It was this skill of yours
with medicines that saved Aragorn’s life, not mine.”
Elrond was shocked speechless for several moments. “I never
realized...” he glanced back and forth between the human and the
prince. “Although that would explain some of the strange dreams I
have had of late...” his voice trailed off quietly.
Actually, that explained a lot. The odd, random, out of place
thoughts he had occasionally, the child constantly crying in the dark
that wouldn’t give him peace; that had all been Legolas’ influence on
his mind. He had been troubled about Aragorn, but it had
obviously been manifesting itself through nightmares from the Prince’s
past. He understood now. It made sense. He was
relieved, rather than disturbed by the news. Now that he knew, it
would be simple to put the prince’s thought patterns aside when they
troubled him. He could see how deeply this situation was
disturbing Legolas and smiled faintly. He would have to teach the
prince how to do the same.
“I won’t retain the knowledge for long; at least, I pray I won’t.
Already most of what I remembered on waking is gone, faded, even as the
memories grow faint now. With time all that was not of my memory
will gradually disappear, of this I am sure,” Legolas tried to
assure. “I meant no intrusion, Lord Elrond...”
“No, of course you didn’t.” the older elf agreed, still somewhat
stunned by the knowledge that his memories were held by another.
It was surprising and perhaps a little embarrassing, but he certainly
did not hold it against Legolas, and he did not want the younger elf
thinking that he did. A small smile crept slowly across his face.
“Is that also why I desire to have ketrals in my house?” the elf lord was mostly joking.
Legolas laughed and shook his head, relieved that Elrond was not angry. “I am afraid so, my Lord.”
Leaning against the wooden table, Elrond nodded knowingly. “I
hadn’t given the after effects of what that type of healing would have
on another. The only time I used it before was on my wife and we
already shared an oneness of thought and mind because of the marriage
bond. I never realized there was any further blending that
occurred.” Elrond had to wonder now, if his own sense of
devastation at their parting had been heightened by unknowingly sharing
part of Celebrían’s pain.
When Aragorn returned his smile, Elrond turned his full attention on
the human. “Worry not, Legolas, it was not your fault. And
I am very glad you did retain that knowledge.” He patted the
human’s knee, noting the sleepy-eyed look the man was giving him.
“Let us administer a half portion to you, my son and we can make more
should the need arise.”
Aragorn complied, drinking down the foul tasting draught with an
appropriate grimace. He hated the stuff. One would have
thought that after being forced to drink it for so many months he would
have gotten used to it, but he hadn’t.
Elrond insisted on washing and dressing the slowly healing cut on
Aragorn’s shoulder. It looked much better than it had in weeks
but it was painful and tender to the touch. The elf’s
ministrations were gentle and careful. He smiled into the sleepy
eyes that watched him.
All the while Legolas explained the antidote’s ingredients and
measurements as he worked with the herbs, recalling the compound from
memory by now. He laid the various items out in heaps and mounds
so that the elf lord could experiment with them and look them over
later. By the time Aragorn was shrugging back into his tunic,
Legolas had another batch of the antidote nearly ready.
Celboril found the small family talking quietly in the pantry and
offered to bring food and drink into the Hall of Fire if they wanted to
move there for a bit more comfort. He was relieved to find that
the two had returned home and knew it would only be a matter of time
before his lord returned to his usual self. Already the sparkle
in Elrond’s eye was back as the elf lord easily accepted the offer.
The Hall of Fire was warm and comfortable as Legolas sat on the floor
near Aragorn, perched on a huge overstuffed pillow, recounting all that
had happened to them.
Aragorn lay stretched out on his right side propped up on a pillow and covered with the blanket he had brought with him.
The ranger had been content to let Legolas tell his father
everything. He was sure that Elrond would have questions for him
later, but tonight he was simply content to be home, warm and
safe. He added his agreement when asked, but remained happily
quiet for the greater part of the evening.
Elrond had been intrigued by Legolas’ information on the Togiuith,
although the reasons for its use bothered him greatly. For the
most part, the elf lord had listened intently, interrupting only now
and again for clarification or observation. He wondered briefly
exactly how much of the tale Thranduil would ever know and how soon he
would get it out of his son.
“But the people are free now, and the mountain is safe. Whatever
lived in the water is gone, perhaps killed when the volcano shifted as
it did. We do not know but it has not reappeared so the
inhabitants of Angmar will have fresh water. I don’t think the
Witch-king will be back anytime soon. He will not find a warm
welcome. Wouldn’t you agree, Aragorn?”
When the human didn’t respond, Legolas turned towards him only to find Aragorn fast asleep and breathing deeply.
“Let him rest.” Elrond answered, “He needs it. His system is not
yet rid of the poison, but with extra treatment that shouldn’t be a
problem. Tomorrow I will give him the last dose he should need.”
Legolas leaned over and gently pulled the blanket up higher around the
man. Aragorn stirred and shifted slightly. Turning towards
his friend he stilled as Legolas’ hand rested on his shoulder.
“He was weary when we left Angmar. I can’t imagine he will wake
“Your room is ready, should you want to retire yourself. Estel
can remain here tonight. Celboril and I will check in on him from
time to time,” Elrond offered, standing from his seat and indicating
that they should continue later. He knew that both his son and
the prince were more tired than either wanted to admit.
“If you don’t mind, Lord Elrond, I would just as soon stay here with
Estel myself.” Legolas glanced around them at the pillows and throw
blankets scattered here and there. The fire crackled brightly
warming the room and throwing light into the corners of the huge
hall. “I do believe I am too tired to climb the stairs myself and
if Aragorn should wake then there would be someone close by.”
Elrond smiled, “He will be fine, Legolas. You did well, gwaedh
ion-nín.” The elf lord praised the younger elf, fondly
including him into the family as a ‘son of the heart’. He could
see through the prince’s pretense and knew that Legolas was still
worried about Aragorn’s recovery.
Legolas’ eyes sparkled for a moment at the gesture of
Admitting he had been caught, the prince laughed softly, “Yes, my
lord. Then, to ease my heart, may I sleep here in the hall as
“As you wish.” Elrond consented, taking his leave. “I will see
that no one disturbs your rest until the two of you are ready to
waken. Good night, Legolas.”
“My lord.” Legolas nodded in respect as he stretched out next to
Aragorn, laying his head on the pillow he had just been seated
on. The warmth of the fire touched his back and he smiled,
relaxing against the cushions.
“And, Legolas?” Elrond’s voice cut through the fog of sleep that
was just beginning to steal over the elf. “Thank you,” he
continued as he crossed the room and knelt by his son, gently placing a
kiss on the human’s forehead.
Aragorn barely opened his eyes, subconsciously registering his father’s
presence. “Ada” he whispered softly, his left arm wrapped the
elf in an awkward hug before sleep reclaimed him fully and he relaxed
The fire in the great hall leapt and crackled in its alcove, the only
sound that broke the still night. It was in the doorway to the
large room that Celboril found Elrond. The elf lord stood
watching over the slumbering friends. His heart was light, his
burden gone. He knew the nameless darkness of his dread for Estel
would haunt his dreams no more.
Lightly Celboril touched Elrond’s shoulder, “My lord, it would do you good...”
He was cut off as Elrond raised his hand, silencing his words. “I
know, my friend, and I am going.” Blue eyes free from the shadow
that had clouded them gazed at the other elf. “You are
right. I do need rest. I believe will retire for the
evening. But, would you do you me a favor...”
It was Celboril’s turn to silence the elf lord, “It would be my
pleasure. I will see to it that they are not disturbed and should
anything go amiss, I will call you immediately.”
Elrond returned the smile that his long time friend gave him.
“Thank you, Celboril. You may want to warn Glorfindel so he can
keep the twins occupied should they come back early tomorrow.”
“Consider it done.” Celboril bowed as Elrond turned to
leave. He breathed a sigh of relief as he watched the elf lord
walk up the stairs. The cares of much in the world fell on
Elrond’s shoulders, but he was glad that the worries for his youngest
son had at least been relieved. It was a burden he had feared
would crush the elf lord.
Gazing back into the room Celboril watched the sleeping youths. “Young ones,” he muttered under his breath with a smile.
Tonight the house would sleep. Tonight Rivendell had peace once more.