Elrond’s dining area was filled with people when he
entered it and he
couldn’t help smiling as the atmosphere of the celebrating beings
banished the darkness that had settled in his heart, sweeping away the
worry the events of the day had brought with them.
Estel was seated next to his brothers and across
from the Silvan
warriors. He had changed and cleaned himself up, but the bruises
and the dark circles under his eyes attested to his weariness.
The younger elves were entertaining themselves teasing the human.
It wouldn’t be long before the ranger got back at them. Presently
he was laughing helplessly and shaking his head, protesting whatever
Elrohir was saying. However, the empty seat beside the young man
worried the elf lord.
At the other end of the table sat the elves that
served in Elrond’s
household. They were talking quietly amongst themselves.
Marean accompanied them; she had quickly taken to the female elves and
seemed to truly enjoy their presence. Elrond had even considered
allowing her to stay in Rivendell if her husband was not found.
Curious, he looked closer and caught sight of Estelle beside her in a
basket on the floor; the baby was sleeping contentedly. He smiled
at the girl and nodded in acknowledgement of her presence. It cheered
his heart to see their table so full.
The opposite end of the hall erupted in laughter and
Elrond turned his
attention back to the elves that were talking animatedly amongst
themselves, arguing. Shaking his head, the elf lord approached
Estel stopped laughing and turned in his chair
looking up at the elf
lord, when his father placed his hand on the ranger’s shoulder.
“Where is Legolas?” Elrond questioned quietly.
With a start the ranger realized the seat next to
him was empty.
“I’ll go see.”
“If he is sleeping, let him rest, Estel, we’ll bring
him something to
eat later,” the older elf called after his son as the human
swiftly climbed the stairs. Aragorn smiled as he listened to the
laughter coming from the large hall; he loved being with his family.
At the top of the steps, Aragorn turned right and
walked past his room
towards the guest quarters. He knocked softly on the closed
door. When Legolas didn’t answer right away, he quietly entered
the room. The chamber was dark save for a small glowlamp in the
corner. At first glance he didn’t see the elf and concern gripped
“Legolas?” Aragorn whispered softly into the
Stepping into the interior, his eyes lighted on the lithe form.
The prince was asleep, sitting in the overstuffed
chair that occupied
the corner right behind the door. He must have sat down to just
rest for a few minutes, but his injuries and the stress of the past
month had caught up with him and overwhelmed him. He was finally
safe, he could finally let his guard down.
Aragorn smiled down at his friend. Legolas had
changed from the
dirty clothes he had been wearing and had slipped into his silver
leggings and matching tunic. He had had every intention of
joining them for dinner. It was the only dress outfit he had
brought with him and he often wore it for mealtime. Silently
Aragorn moved to the bed and pulled the extra blanket from the foot of
it where it was neatly folded. He shook out the soft fabric and
gently laid it over the sleeping elf, trying not to disturb the
prince. Tucking the edges around the elf he turned to the
darkened fireplace and quickly started a small fire to warm the cool
room and give his friend light throughout the night. He
remembered Legolas telling him how dark it had been where he was and
the ranger remembered how he had first felt when he had returned home
after escaping the cave.
When the fire was stoked enough to satisfy him,
Aragorn turned to
leave. He glanced at his friend before heading for the door and
smiled softly; the elf was watching him.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you,” the ranger
“It is all right.” Legolas returned the smile
and stiffly sat
up. “Did I miss dinner?”
Aragorn stifled a soft laugh. “No, not yet. But you
might wish you
had. Elladan and Elrohir are giving Trelan and Raniean tips on
bowhunting.” He laughed in remembrance of the argument.
“Father says you may stay up here and he’ll have dinner brought to you
later if you like. He thought you might be overly tired.”
“I’m not,” Legolas lied, pushing himself into a
with a soft moan. “I’ll join you.”
The elf stopped and stared at his friend.
Aragorn was glaring at
the prince, one eyebrow raised in accusation.
“WHAT!?” the human stalked towards him, “You can
Stay here and rest.”
“I am going down there to eat with your father. You
may join me if you
like.” Legolas stared stubbornly at the ranger.
“You are the most stubborn creature I have ever
frowned at his friend as they moved towards the door.
“And you and your kind are the most intrusive.”
Legolas turned back
towards him and feigned an indignant glare. “Now, I really am hungry. I
can't remember eating decent food in...” the elf stopped and glanced at
the ranger, “Well I can't remember eating!”
Aragorn’s laughter was interrupted as they reached
well. An insistent knocking on the huge doors of the house echoed
up to them.
“I wonder who that is?” The human quickly
descended the stairs,
followed more slowly by his elven friend. The laughter and talk
about the dinner table covered over the sound of the persistent rapping
as Aragorn pulled the wooden doors open.
Moranuen stood in the entryway with Taradin and
another man that
Aragorn did not recognize.
“Mora! Taradin!” The ranger pulled the elf
into the house,
pounding his friend on the back, and motioned for the hunter and his
companion to enter. “How are you?” He looked the older man
over and smiled. “You look well.”
Taradin stepped back and eyed the ranger and
frowning at the two of them. The elf prince had slowly joined the
small group, a smile on his bruised face that didn’t quite reach his
“Well you look like wargs got the best of the both
of you,” Taradin
observed. “What happened?”
“Uhm, it’s a rather long story.” Aragorn
looked sheepishly at
“And it would bore you to tears,” the elf quickly
picked up, unwilling
to speak of it and wanting only to be near others and around cheerful
“Right.” The hunter smiled a lopsided grin at
the friends. “Well
knowing the two of you I highly doubt that, but I’ll leave it for
later.” He quirked a bushy eyebrow at the ranger and continued,
“But don’t think you’re getting out of it. A tale as good as whatever
beat the stuffing out of the two of you is worth waiting for.”
Aragorn laughed and clapped the man on the back. “As
you wish. I
wouldn’t dream of depriving you of the only entertainment you ever
get.” The human smiled devilishly at the hunter.
Taradin let out a booming laugh as he cuffed the
younger man good-naturedly on the shoulder, pushing the ranger back a
Aragorn winced and sucked his breath in, his hand going instinctively
to his bruised arm.
“It’s all right. It's all right,” he reassured as he
shoulder lightly. “Just a bruise,” he commented quickly as
he caught sight of the slight smile on Legolas' face, his look the very
epitome of feigned innocence. The ranger tried to quickly change
the subject and leaned around Taradin to glance at the man standing
behind him. “Who’s this you brought with you?” The human smiled
impishly back at Moranuen, “Don’t tell me, he’s the one?”
“That he is!” Taradin answered for the elf.
“He heard you got
something that might belong to him.”
“More like two of them.” Legolas smiled at the
understanding of what they spoke.
“This is Erron,” Taradin introduced the man who had
until now remained
quietly behind him. “I picked him up over a month ago. He’s been
working with my company, right useful with a sword I might add.”
Erron couldn’t have been older than Aragorn. In fact
the young man
looked to be two or three years his junior. He was taller and
more filled out than the slender ranger and he towered a good head over
his host. A thick mop of curly brown hair spilled about his face;
it was cut short and neat and his green eyes held an excitement to them
that couldn’t be contained.
“Is it true? Maraen lives?” His voice
was soft and deep and
Aragorn smiled up into the open face.
“Yes, she does at that.”
“And not only she but your child as well.”
Legolas stepped near
Aragorn and addressed the young man.
“I thought she was dead or, worse yet, taken by the
orcs. Blasted beasts
almost got the drop on me after I left her. Had to hide in a
cave, only to get trapped by a bit of a rockslide. When I finally
dug my way out again... I-I couldn’t find her.” His eyes misted
over slightly as he thought back to the past month. “I tried
but... well, Taradin was good enough to take me in and give me a job
and a place to stay.”
Aragorn smiled conspiratorially at the older man,
“What?” The hunter shrugged his shoulders and
glanced away as though
indifferent. “You take in one orphan, you take in another, makes no
difference. One, ten, they're all the same.”
“Right.” Aragorn rolled his eyes, and began
walking them slowly
towards the dining hall. “Speaking of orphans, where is Garith?”
“He’s back home, minding the trading post. I’m
long. Just here to drop this one off and set back out.”
Erron stopped and glanced at the man. “Taradin, are
Maraen and I still
welcome with you? I mean, may we stay until I build a new
house?” The young hunter seemed suddenly at loss. “You and
Garith’s the only family we have now.”
The older hunter smiled as he answered, “What did
you think I was going
to do? Throw you out? Of course you’re staying - you and that
little family of yours. Why Garith would never forgive me if I left you
here. But winter’s coming on fast and we’ve still to stock the basement
good. We’ll be needing to get back at it right soon.” He leveled
the tall hunter with a serious stare.
“But what he didn’t tell you,” Aragorn interrupted
glibly, “is that now
that you’re in Lord Elrond’s house you won't be able to leave until he
says so.” He smiled wickedly at Taradin.
“Taradin says he’s an elf lord,” Erron whispered,
half in awe.
“Yes, he is,” Aragorn answered, glancing quickly at
before laying an open, questioning gaze upon the older hunter.
Leaning in close to the ranger Taradin whispered,
“He ain’t never seen
an elf before. Well not a lordly one if you get my meaning.” He
nudged Aragorn and glanced back at Moranuen.
The elf rolled his eyes and walked past the two
humans. “I think I’ll
inform Lord Elrond that he has guests.”
“That would be good. Thank you, Mora.” Aragorn
shook his head and
pushed Taradin away from him. “Legolas is a prince.” The ranger
nodded at the elf that stood next to him, watching with uncontained
humor as Erron’s eyes grew wide.
“Thanks a lot, Strider. Shall I tell him who
you are?” Legolas
glared at the human who was helplessly laughing next to him.
Aragorn turned so that he faced the elf and quietly
whispered, “If you
think he’ll believe you, go ahead.” His smile was a dare in
“Didn’t think s,.” the ranger taunted when Legolas simply glared
back at him.
“Well shall we all go in now that we have been
Aragorn ushered them down the hall to the spacious dining room.
Elrond had stood from his seat and was listening
intently as Moranuen
explained how he had found Taradin who, in fact, had only a month ago
employed a man who claimed to be the only living person to escape
Maraen quickly jumped to her feet as the room
quieted listening to the
elf’s tale. “Did he give you a name?” she questioned.
A shift in the shadows behind him caught Moranuen’s
attention before he
could answer and he glanced into the darkened hallway catching sight of
Aragorn out of the corner of his eye. The human had raised his
finger to his lips; a twinkle of merriment lit his eyes. The elf
knew that look well and easily played along with the man.
“I am afraid that he did not, my lady. We have
brought the trader
and one of his men here in hopes that they could shed more light on the
man from Holswollow.” Moranuen quickly dropped his gaze to the
floor and wouldn’t return Elrond’s stare.
It took only seconds for the elf lord to realize
what was going on as
Elrohir snickered quietly from his seat, his eyes fastened on his human
brother out in the hallway, whispering into the ear of a tall man that
the twin had never seen. Elrond glared at his sons, shaking his
head slightly – they never lost the opportunity to play lighthearted
jokes on whomever was unfortunate enough to be near.
Moranuen stepped aside as Taradin walked up next to
him, removing his
hat and twisting it nervously between his huge hands. He bowed
slightly, the movement awkward and stiff. “Lord Elrond.”
“Taradin. It is good to see you again, please join
us for some
dinner. Perhaps you can shed more light on this man you
hired. His wife has done nothing but weep for him the entire time
she has been here. I fear that her heart will break if you do not bring
some good news with you.” The older elf cast a quick small smile back
towards the doorway, he knew full well what he had said was not the
full truth but he also knew that Maraen’s husband would not be able to
stand the thought of the young girl crying over him.
Aragorn stood just beyond the arch, his mouth
dropped open in total
surprise. Never in all the years he had lived in Rivendell had
his father teased anyone nor played along with any of the teasing of
the younger generation. And he couldn’t help laughing out loud as
Erron roughly brushed him out of the way, bursting into the hall.
“Now I know where you get it from.” Legolas
leaned against the
doorframe and glanced at his friend, a cocky smile on his face.
“I can not believe he just did that.” Aragorn
couldn’t help smiling as
he shook his head at his father who simply returned the look of
disbelief with a satisfied grin. He followed Legolas’ lead and
leaned into the room to watch the reunion of Maraen and Erron.
“He really got you,” Legolas quipped. He
couldn’t help smiling as
the large hunter knelt on the floor next to the basket that held his
sleeping daughter and gently scooped the tiny bundle out of the
makeshift crib. Maraen was crying with joy and Legolas was glad that
this moment was possible and that he was able to witness it. At
least some good had come out of the nightmare of the past month.
“He did.” Aragorn turned away from the sight
of the reunited
family and carefully watched his friend. Legolas eyes were
half-lidded and he winced slightly, moving his wounded shoulder to a
comfortable position against the hard wood doorframe. The elf was
worn out but too proud to admit it. Aragorn realized with some
surprise that he himself was rather weary. They both needed rest.
“Let's let them have their time.” Aragorn
steered his friend away
from the bright hallway, “We can eat later. I mean, really, are you
Legolas allowed himself to be led away, thinking
over the question his
friend had just asked him. Oddly enough it took a bit for him to
answer. “No. I’m not hungry now, not really. What I really
am is tired.”
Celboril entered the hall just ahead of the two as
they slowly walked
its length. “I saw the both of you leave.” He held out
steaming cups of warm, sweet, amber colored liquid. “To keep your
strength up and help you heal.”
“And put us to sleep I’ll wager.” Legolas
glanced warily at the
“Not this time, good prince. It looks like you have
no need of help
there.” The servant laughed at them, pressing the cups into their
hands. “Now go on upstairs with the both of you. I’ll bring you
They had just reached the foot of the stairs when a
soft voice behind
them stopped them both.
The two turned towards the speaker. It was Maraen;
Erron stood behind
her, his large hands resting on her slim shoulders.
“I just wanted to thank you...” She hesitated and
glanced back over her
shoulder at her husband.
to thank you,” Erron finished the statement, “for all that
you did for us. I am in your debt for protecting Maraen and
Estelle with your life. And to you ranger, for bringing them to this
house of healing where they were safe.”
“It was my pleasure to help.” Aragorn replied softly.
“Mine as well,” Legolas answered with a smile, “and
it was worth it. I
am glad that you were able to find one another again. Life is a
precious gift and you have been given a second chance. Iluvatar
has been watching over you all.”
“Will you not eat with us?” Maraen questioned
They were spared from answering as Elrond walked up
behind them and
stepped into the entryway. He smiled at his son as he released
the two friends from attending dinner, “Legolas and Aragorn have just
made it back to Rivendell. I imagine they are weary from their
travels. I will have food sent up to the two of you.
Celboril will attend you should you have any needs.” The elf lord
turned back to Maraen and Erron, “As for you, the food is getting cold.
Please make yourselves at home.” He escorted the couple back to the
Aragorn and Legolas had made it to the first landing
reappeared at the bottom of the stairwell.
The ranger stopped and gazed down. “Yes, Father?”
there were black
circles under his eyes and he yawned as he spoke.
“Are you and Legolas all right? You both look
worse than you did
“Thanks.” Aragorn rolled his eyes and smiled.
“I, for one, am just tired my lord.” Legolas leaned
balustrade resisting the desire to yawn after Aragorn just had.
Elrond doubted that weariness was the younger elf’s
only problem but,
given the circumstances, that was understandable. “Very
well. Go get some rest. Tomorrow morning you may say your
farewells to Maraen and Erron. They will be leaving with Taradin.”
“We should be leaving as well.” Legolas glanced at
Aragorn who only
nodded because to speak would have required more effort.
“Neither of you are going anywhere until I say so.
Is that understood?”
Elrond glared at the elf and the human.
“I must return as quickly as possible. My father
will be beside
himself,” Legolas argued halfheartedly.
“And I have to go with him to help explain about
happened. I have to, I promised.” Aragorn realized he was
finding it difficult to finish his sentences.
Elrond stood in the entryway, the intensity of his
unwavering. Anyone could see that the ranger and the prince were
nearly exhausted and he knew that arguing with Estel in the shape he
was in would get them nowhere. Tomorrow he would enforce his ban on
their leaving until the prince was fully recovered from his poisoning.
“We’ll discuss it in the morning,” he answered them.
“That just means no.” Aragorn looked over at
what he says when he doesn’t want to argue.”
Elrond laughed lightly at the human, “Exactly,
Estel. Besides no
one is crossing the northern pass until I am sure that the orcs are
well away from the area. The southern pass will take longer and
require more traveling so you will need to be well to journey that way.
I will send message to your father by carrier hawk, that you are well
and will be returning to him by the southern route so he can expect
your delay. But until I say so, no one leaves this house. Now off
with the both of you and get some rest.”
“I’m not arguing with him. You can if you like.”
Aragorn glanced at
Legolas and mounted the last flight of stairs to the bedrooms.
“I’m not arguing with him either.” Legolas
followed his friend up
the stairs, dragging himself into the warm, softly lit guest room, “It
makes sense to me. I don’t think I want to leave for a bit
anyway. I’m glad I can't. Father will be just as angry if I get
home tomorrow or a year from now, he can wait.” The elf set his
mug down on the nightstand and dropped down onto the bed, asleep before
his head hit the pillow. His ordeal had pushed him far past his limits,
strong though his elven endurance was. Elrond was right; he
needed to regain the strength he had lost before attempting the long
journey home over the southern pass, down through the Gap of Rohan and
Aragorn picked the blanket up off the floor and
draped it over his
friend. He threw a few more logs on the fire to keep the room
warm through the night and then headed for his own room. The
interior was dark and he stumbled awkwardly about trying to find the
small shell light he had since a youngster.
“Looking for this?”
The ranger jumped and turned at the sound of his
Elrohir entered the room balancing a tray of food and the tiny light,
its wick trimmed and burning. “I borrowed it yesterday and forgot
to return it.” The twin set the food down and placed the light on
the mantel at the foot of the bed, lighting the room with its soft glow.
“Thanks. I don’t think I am hungry though,”
rubbing his eyes and blinking a couple of times. He carefully balanced
his mug on the tray, making sure it wouldn’t tip over.
Elrohir laughed softly, “Well it really doesn’t
matter. Father said
bring you food and so we have.” He motioned with his head back towards
the door, “Elladan brought some to Legolas.”
“He’s sleeping.” The ranger spoke around another
yawn as he sat down
heavily on his bed.
“I know.” Elrohir seated himself across from the
ranger and leaned
forward talking quietly as Aragorn pulled his boots slowly off his
“So tell me Estel what
was it that you and Legolas ran into out
Aragorn glanced up quickly before busying himself
with the other
boot. “It was a Nazgûl.” He looked at his brother to
watch his response.
Elrohir only nodded. They both jumped when Elladan
spoke from the
doorway. “I thought it had to be worse than orcs, the way Father was
Their human brother only nodded, looking to the
floor and absently
wondering if he should even bother taking his socks off.
Elladan motioned to his twin. As Elrohir
stood, Aragorn looked up
at them both. “I’m sorry. I’m just tired.”
The elves nodded. “Its all right. Get some rest.”
Elladan smiled at the
“Yeah. When you’re better, Elladan can beat it out
of you.” Elrohir
ducked as his twin swatted at him. “I do remember him saying there were
a few things he wanted to beat into you.” Elrohir laughed as he
moved out of the way back towards the staircase.
“Really?” Aragorn raised an eyebrow and grinned
mischievously at his
Elladan suppressed his own laugh and rolled his
eyes. “You know
Elrohir, he makes things up. Like how big that warg was that he took
down last week. Stuff like that.”
Aragorn could hear Elrohir protesting in the
“Get out of here, both of you, and hush him up
before he wakes
Legolas.” The ranger laughed at them both walking slowly to the
door and shutting it.
Elladan pressed his palm against the smooth wood and
held the door open
a second longer. “Estel, it is good to have you home, even if Father
has to enforce it for a bit.” He smiled at the human who laughed
“It is good to be home.” Aragorn answered
honestly. His smile
turned devilish as he tightened his grip on the door knob on his side,
“And I look forward to you trying
to beat anything out of me. It’ll
be a nice challenge for you in your old age.” He shoved the door
firmly shut and pressed his weight against it, laughing as Elladan
tired to push the door back open.
When it grew quiet outside, he pressed his ear to
the door and cracked
it slightly open. “Just you wait, my little brother, and I will show
what an old elf can do to the
likes of you,” his brother whispered
through the crack in the door.
Elladan heard the ranger laugh softly at his comment
as he descended
the stairs. The celebrations in the dining hall could just be heard as
he joined Elrohir at the foot of the stairwell. Together the two
walked back to the festivities. Things were well in the House of
Rivendell this night and it was time for celebrating.
Upstairs the ranger pulled himself wearily into bed,
a huge smile on
his bruised face as he recalled his brother’s threats. He was
looking forward to that immensely and with Legolas here it would be
even more fun. They would leave as soon as his father allowed it
but until then...he laughed as he blew out the small light. Until
then he would enjoy being home with his family.
And things were good that night in the Last Homely
However things do not always remain