The sun had ridden half way through its course across the sky when
Aragorn finally convinced his brothers and Legolas to stop for a bite
to eat. The four had been out with the hunting parties since
early morning and had sent the other elves back to Imladris with their
catches only an hour ago. The game on the plateau they hunted now
was sparse, but their boredom had turned into sport as they took turns
hunting each other.
Aragorn had been the last one to play the part of the prey and none of
the elves, including Legolas, had been able to track the human.
When the three hunters had finally given up on finding him, their
quarry had leapt into their midst from the branches of the huge trees
that spread out a thick, leafy canopy over the elves heads. The
shock and surprise on the elven faces had given the human great
Elladan gave the ranger a shove as he recovered from the initial
“Estel, will you never grow up!?”
Attempting to sober, Aragorn straightened up and glanced amongst the
elves. “No,” the man answered with mock seriousness before
breaking into a huge smile. The twins had almost gotten over
their initial shock at the changes the years apart had wrought in their
human brother and Aragorn noted with amusement that he was once again
back to being their ‘little’ brother. And he liked it that way...
although he would never admit that to them. “Please, let us break
for food. I am starving. Please.” He eyed Elrohir, knowing the
youngest twin would have the most sympathy.
Shaking his head Legolas hooked his fingers in the ranger’s sleeve and
dragged the man with him, back through the woods, trailing the
twins. “There was a pond not far from here. We can eat
Aragorn was laughing as he stumbled after the prince, jogging to keep
pace with the swift being.
“Only if it is not near a cliff,” Elladan taunted, elbowing Elrohir who
joined in the teasing.
“Yes, you know how clumsy Estel is around them,” the youngest twin
“Or an orc encampment...” Elladan picked up the thread again.
Doing his best to ignore them, Aragorn shook his head and rolled his
eyes, walking next to Legolas who was trying not to break out
“Or dwarves...” Elrohir laughed.
“Or rivers, or cities...”
“Wargs or wolves or old mills that he could fall off of.” Elrohir
stopped talking and jumped back as Aragorn rounded on his
“Now, that was not my fault, and so long ago I can’t believe you are
even keeping score! I have not fallen off a building since I was
a child.” Aragorn advanced on the two who split up trying to stay out
“No, just waterfalls, trees and cliffs, things like that.” Elladan
ducked as the ranger turned towards him, playfully lunging at the
elf. He rather suspected that Legolas had told them about the
cliff incident in Mordor and that had helped set this off.
Legolas snagged the back of the ranger’s coat and jerked him around
forward. “Ignore them, they are just jealous because your father
gives you more attention. They only wish it was they who lived
such an exciting life.”
The taunt elicited a stammering of arguments and denials from the twins
but Aragorn had stopped listening. His war honed sense of danger
had kicked in. Something was not right and he began to search for the
source of the disturbance. Grabbing Legolas’ arm, the ranger
slowed the elf and glanced warily about them as they reached the edge
of the glade. The deep pool Legolas had mentioned sparkled on the
far side of the meadow, fed by a high mountain stream, but the ranger
did not proceed towards it.
Legolas held up his hand, silencing the elves behind him. Noting
the tenseness in the prince, they all began to listen to the woods
them and heard what Aragorn had first noticed: the forest was
“We are not alone,” the ranger barely whispered, turning slowly and
gazing into the cool recess of the woods.
He caught Legolas’ gaze as the elf glanced sharply his way.
Without words the two friends communicated. Aragorn
directed the twins to separate and head back the way they had
come. Legolas would head through the woods to the right and
Aragorn would take the left. With a curt nod of agreement, the elves
disappeared without a sound into the forest seeking what it was that
Aragorn slowly drew his elven hunting knife, the blade quietly singing
as the metal slid from its sheath. He stalked through the forest,
constantly glancing above him into the tree branches overhead, wary
and alert, every fiber of his being tensed and ready. There was
definitely someone or something out there; he could feel their
proximity. Slipping to the edge of the stand of trees as he
completed a full circuit around the meadow, Aragorn stopped at the
where he should have met up with Legolas, but the elf was not
His worry notched up higher in his throat and he stood very still,
straining to hear in the unnatural quiet.
The soft sounds of booted feet on the carpet of undergrowth caught his
attention and he swiveled to his right, running silently in the
direction that he had been alerted.
The trunk of a large old tree sheltered him from immediate view as the
ranger stalked up on Legolas. The elf faced away from his
position; he had just dropped his elven blade to the ground and slowly
raised his empty hands.
A man stood behind him, his features concealed by a hooded cloak.
One of the human’s arms was around the prince’s neck, the other holding
a thick hunting blade against the elf’s jugular. Whatever the
human was saying was blocked out by the rushing adrenaline that spiked
through Aragorn. He would not suffer his friend to be tormented
or hurt by any man every again if it was within his power.
What he could not see, however, was the smile that played across
Legolas’ lips and the relaxed cast of the proud shoulders as the elf
released the tension in his body; his ‘attacker’ was known to him.
Just as Legolas turned to greet the human who had so surprised him, he
caught a glimpse of Aragorn as the man lunged at the hooded figure,
roughly dragging the man back a few steps away from the prince and the
perception of threat. Pressing the elven blade hard against the
human’s neck, he drew close and questioned the other harshly.
“You think the elf is game? You like hunting elves?” Aragorn
tightened his death grip on the man’s neck, squeezing his airway
as gloved hands pried frantically at his arm. “You have chosen
your prey poorly. You are not welcome in these mountains, do you
understand?” The ranger growled angrily in the other’s ear,
giving his captive a good shake.
“Aragorn, no!” Legolas leapt forward, stalling his friend from hurting
the would-be attacker.
“Aragorn?” the human in the ranger’s grasp rasped as Strider quickly
released the man and stepped away from him, unconsciously placing
himself between the hooded figure and the elf prince.
“Estel, it is Halbarad. The rangers have been searching for you,”
Legolas explained, switching quickly into the elven tongue as his
friend caught up with all that had just transpired.
The ranger before him smiled brilliantly, rubbing his neck where it was
still tender from the attack. “Aragorn! I never even heard you
come up behind me, and look at you!” Halbarad gave the young man
before him a careful glance, “We have heard the tales of
Thorongil. It was my suspicion that is was in fact you.
When the rumors said that the great captain of the Gondorian army had
abandoned her, and that Estel had returned to Rivendell, I knew it was
Before Aragorn could respond, the ranger walked out in to the open
meadow and pressed his gloved fingers to his lips, releasing a long,
whistle. In seconds other rangers stepped out into the sunlight
of the small glade joining their leader. Elladan and Elrohir
raced to the edge of the glen and immediately began greeting the
newcomers that they recognized.
Aragorn turned to Legolas and looked the elf over quickly. “You weren’t
hurt?” He was still trying to reconcile the threat he had
perceived with what had really transpired. The elf prince stepped
close to his friend and lowered his voice, glancing at the human and
quietly reassured him.
“I am fine. Halbarad did not harm me, well other than my pride at being
surprised by a human.”
Concern quickly colored the elf’s formerly
teasing gaze. “Are you all right?”
“I thought you were in danger. I thought that...” Aragorn
sighed deeply, releasing his fears and pent up tension, not finishing
the thought. He hated the war-like responses that had been
drilled into him. This was the second time he’d nearly harmed a
friend because of an over-reaction. It would take time to hone
out those responses and not take reflexive action now that there was no
immediate threat in his life.
“You thought I was being attacked.” Understanding filled Legolas’
eyes. Understanding and compassion. Aragorn had set himself
up as the elf prince’s fierce protector during those long, hellish,
hopeless days in Mordor; that would not be easy to let go
of now that it was no longer necessary.
“Yes, again.” Aragorn’s voice was now only faintly edged with
With a small smile Legolas laid his hand on his friend’s shoulder, “It
is well. I am fine, although you scared the life right out of
me. If he had been an attacker I should fear for him with you
about,” the elf joked softly, trying to bring a smile to the
ranger’s face. His attempts were rewarded as Aragorn smiled and
shook his head, wrapping his hand around the elf’s arm and giving a
tight squeeze before he turned back to the others who were busy
conversing with the elven twins.
“Aragorn!” Elladan looked up from the conversation, “You must hear
The two friends quickly crossed the distance between themselves and the
knot of rangers that were talking quietly to the elves.
“They say it is a wight,” a younger ranger to Halbarad’s left
“Arendur, Elrohir was not challenging you, merely questioning.” The
leader of the rangers deferred almost imperceptibly to Aragorn as the
Dùnadan joined the circle, stepping aside lightly to allow him
in. “Though the barrow-wights are never up to any good, you are
correct, Elrohir; it is highly unlike that it is them.”
“You speak of barrow-wights?” Aragorn questioned, joining them in
the middle of the conversation. His question was directed to
Halbarad but he glanced around the group of men curiously, noting the
ones he recognized. His gaze landed last on Legolas.
“Yes.” Halbarad’s statement redirected Aragorn’s attention and he
raised an eyebrow in question, urging the other ranger on. “In
the hills east of the Shire there has been suspicious activity among
the Barrow-downs, or so they say. People have gone missing,
Hobbits have been taken from the paths that cross near there. All
of the little folk have been freed but their possessions are
gone. Rumor has it that a few of the humans who have disappeared
have never been found. Even animals have been reported as
“That does not sound like the scheming of a wight,” Legolas
“No, it is highly unusual, but the folk around there are adamant that
the barrow-wights have been stirred up. There are even stories
flying about that the wraiths have returned and are searching the area,
taking people as slaves for Mordor.”
Legolas shuddered involuntarily, his eyes momentarily clouding.
“That is highly unlikely; the wraiths are holed up in Mordor
itself. Or at least one of them.” Aragorn didn’t offer how
he knew that information, he simply made the statement, ignoring
Halbarad’s unspoken question.
When the Dunadan was not forthcoming, Halbarad nodded in understanding
and continued, “Others believe that it is highwaymen. Whatever
the cause, it is an evil venture and it needs to be stopped.
Someone must find out what is at the root of the disappearances and
thievery. If it is the barrow-wights, then we will need more help
than simply elves or rangers have to offer.”
“Are you headed there now?” Elladan asked from the far side of
Halbarad cast his gaze to the forest floor, hesitant to continue,
“Actually, that was why we came.” The ranger met Aragorn’s eyes
finally. “Our numbers have lessened the past fifteen years that
you have been gone. These are all that remain of my camp.
We were on our way to combine our forces with another encampment when
word was brought to us of the goings on in the Downs. The wars on
the borders of Gondor and Ithilien have drawn away some of our number,
stretching us thin, and the constant increase in reports of orcs and
wargs have kept the rest of us busy. There are none that I can
spare to keep watch over the South Farthing let alone the eastern
downs. I was hoping that since you were back...” Halbarad
let the question hang between him and the younger man. He had
heard some of what had happened to Aragorn during his stay in Gondor
and then the rumors that the ranger had passed into Mordor, following
Legolas. He was not sure that the man would want to take up the
challenge so soon to returning home. He knew he wouldn’t.
“If there were anyone else I could trust, I would ask them
first.” Halbarad’s voice dropped so that the request suddenly
became a thing between the two of them alone. “If you would
rather not, since you have just returned, I would completely
The older ranger stopped speaking as a wide smile crossed Aragorn’s
face. The man who he realized was no longer young stepped closer
to him and grasped his arm. “You do not need to worry,
Halbarad. I will go and look into this and if it is a
barrow-wight I know just whom I will call upon to help in the
it is others, then that person or persons will be dealt with but it
stop,” he reassured.
“I’ll accompany you,” Legolas offered.
“And we’re coming too!” Elrohir called to his younger brother.
“You hate the barrows,” Elladan frowned, glancing at his
twin. “You said they were more frightening than...”
“Shut up, Elladan.” Elrohir viciously jabbed his brother,
silencing him as the rangers turned to stare at the two elves.
The twin’s face reddened slightly as he barely caught the soft snickers
of the men around him.
“There, see?” Aragorn laughed returning his attention to
Halbarad. “It’s all taken care of. We’ll leave tomorrow at first
light. But first please be our guests tonight. Father would love
to have you spend dinner with us. He so enjoys hearing what you have
been up to. Besides,” Aragorn grimaced and pointed at the red
welt that had formed around the other ranger’s neck, “I feel I owe you
for that nasty bruise you are going to have. I am so sorry,
Halbarad. I truly did not recognize you.”
The ranger’s deep booming laugh filled the meadow. “Oh, Aragorn, if you
could have seen my face when you snuck up on me from behind. I
remember the days when you could never pull one over on me. I am
just very glad for Legolas’ help. You have grown quite adept in
your stalking techniques. I fear I can teach you no more.”
Aragorn’s face reddened and he glanced at the ground, rubbing the back
of his neck idly with his hand, slightly embarrassed at the mention of
how terribly loud he used to be when in the wilds.
“Well perhaps you can still teach me how it is that we have passed
fifteen years and you look the same as you did when last I saw you.”
Aragorn swatted at the long locks of dark hair that fell about the
other ranger’s shoulders, “Why if it weren’t for that graying in your
hair I would never have known the years had passed at all.”
Halbarad feinted at the younger man. “Why you...” He
laughed as Aragorn ducked and pushed Legolas forward. “You’re a fine
one to talk. Not all of us were born with Númenorean blood
in our veins. And I’ll have you know the wear of the years shows
in you as well, if not so much.” He followed as Aragorn began to
lead them back toward the rift that Rivendell had been built into. “I
see you’ve a few new scars to flaunt for the ladies.”
Choking on his laughter, Aragorn cast a quick glance over his shoulder.
“And you are as bad as Elladan. Come, we were just breaking for
food. Let us return home. Perhaps Celboril will be able to
scrounge us up something to hold us over until dinner.”
The small entourage of men and elves made their way off the mountain,
their cheerful banter filling the woods as they passed beneath the
The hunger of the guests had been sated and Elrond had invited the
rangers to remain into the evening and enjoy the hospitality of the
Hall of Fire. Already the great room was beginning to fill with
elves from the surrounding homes. They talked and laughed and
sang. More of them entered the large gathering place as the
rangers filed in. Some were producing instruments and in moments
the Hall filled with music that lifted the heart and hung in the air.
It reminded one of being outside gazing at the stars, hauntingly
beautiful and at the same time ageless and old.
The rangers were received warmly and immediately joined the guests,
dispersing through the room. There were small pockets of elves
and humans recounting tales on the east side of the room. There,
Elladan and Elrohir traded stories with their listeners
and trying to out do one another.
Legolas realized that he recognized few of the elves that filled the
hall besides Celboril and some of the serving staff that he had become
accustomed to seeing on his frequent visits. He followed Aragorn
as the human wound his way from one side of the great room to the
other, greeting neighbors and trading news. It seemed that most
of Elrond’s guests were familiar with the elven lord’s human son and
warmly welcomed him back.
The Sindarin elf was waylaid by Celboril who caught his sleeve and
him nearer. The older elf was laughing helplessly and begged the
prince to stay.
“You must help me.” He smiled at the ranger who stood next to
him, glowering. Halbarad crossed his arms indignantly and glared
at the laughing elf. “He sings like a lovesick elk. He cannot
keep a tune and swears he can. Help me teach this whelp what
singing truly sounds like.”
Legolas laughed in spite of himself. His spirit, still somewhat
recovering from his time in Mordor was lifted as he glanced between the
“I do not sing like an elk!” Halbarad sputtered. “Lesgalwen, play
that ballad again and we shall let Legolas be the judge of my singing
Aragorn, oblivious to his friend’s plight, slowly shifted through the
elves gathered in his father’s house. It had been years since he had
been in the Hall of Fire and still it was all he had remembered it to
be. The atmosphere was full of mirth and light. The musical
sounds of elven laughter buoyed his own flagging spirit as his mind
turned to the things they had discussed at dinner over and over.
His attention was captured as Lord Elrond entered the room. His
The smile that spread unconsciously across his face widened as the
elves cheered and welcomed the elf lord into their midst. It
seemed as though all the surrounding homes in Imladris had emptied and
their inhabitants had gathered here for the evening as was so oft their
want to do in the Hall of Fire.
Elrond moved easily among the many guests gathered under his roof,
serving them and seeing to their needs. The Hall of Fire was
indeed large enough to hold even more, but the company that gathered
tonight was plenty and easily entertained themselves.
The servants of the House of Elrond were never required to be such in
the Hall of Fire. They served their lord willingly, faithfully by
choice and some out of familial devotion like Celboril who had known
Elrond since his childhood days. Never did one of the Firstborn
serve another under duress and Elrond for his part made sure that they
were treated as guests at such gatherings. He handed Halbarad a
mug of heated wine as he passed by; it looked like the man could use
it. The elf lord’s laughter echoed through the hall when Celboril
winced as the ranger missed a higher note.
Clapping his hand on Legolas’ slender shoulder, the lord of Imladris
bent close to the Sinda elf, speaking loudly enough for those around
to hear as he teased. “Please, Legolas; teach Halbarad how to
the Ballad of Elendil before it is ruined forever.”
With a laugh and a mock bow the blonde-haired elf acquiesced. “As
you wish my lord.” Legolas had up to this point been simply
offering pointers and partially taunting Halbarad as Celboril attempted
to teach the ranger the elven song, refraining from singing the melody
Aragorn, having made his way through the large hall flopped down into
one of the soft, comfortable chairs that was situated on the far side
of the room and watched as Legolas began singing. The Sinda
elf’s voice started out softly, the notes pure and rich. The
musicians around Legolas picked up the song, their instruments a soft,
melodic backdrop for the elven voice. Remembering the words more
clearly and finding his courage, the elf’s voice strengthened. He
let his thoughts infuse the words with the images that he saw in his
mind as he closed his eyes and the song filled the room, silencing even
those in the far corner telling tall tales to one another.
Aragorn closed his eyes as well and sank into the comfort of the chair,
letting the rich elvish words and the sweet notes wash over his
restless soul. A smile touched his lips. Legolas sang like
one of the famed bards of old, never missing a note and singing with a
clear, pure voice that the ranger found soothing.
As the song slowly quieted and slipped away the room erupted in cheers,
quickly falling back into the low buzz of people talking and laughing
with one another. Stories were picked back up mid-sentence and a
dozen different tunes were taken up, as more instruments were
unpacked. Clapping Halbarad on the shoulder Legolas excused
himself and walked slowly through the hall, making his way to where
Aragorn lay sprawled in a deep, soft chair.
The elf seated himself quietly on the large, plush wing, pulling one
knee up to his chest and resting his chin on it. Neither friend
spoke. Aragorn had not opened his eyes but he knew that the elf
had joined him. He could smell the scent that was singularly
Legolas and had felt the slight movement of the chair as the prince
settled himself on the arm.
The warmth of the room and the light-hearted pleasure of good company
lulled the companions into a state of peace and contentedness.
The fire in the great hearth sparked and roared merrily as it was
constantly fed. Aragorn had always loved this room, he had found
it fascinating as a child to discover that the fire was continually
kept going and never died out. In fact, even when the Bruinen had
jumped its banks, now so many years ago, and the house had been almost
completely evacuated, Celboril had never let the fire go out.
The ranger’s thoughts turned to the past, remembering and embracing
once more his rich, elvish heritage that his adopted father had so
willingly and easily shared with him. Oh but in his heart he was
elvish, and he silently cursed his natural born lineage.
Men. Thoughts of the men he had known who had served under and
with him brought mixed feelings and uneasiness filtered quietly back
into his heart unbidden.
“You are ill at ease on such a pleasant evening.” The light
weight of Legolas’ hand on his shoulder stirred the ranger from his
reverie. “What troubles you, Estel?”
For long moments they sat, the elf content to allow the human the time
he needed to respond. When he spoke, Aragorn’s voice was soft,
meant for the prince’s hearing alone. The words surprised the
“Will you be wanting to leave for home soon?” Grey eyes finally
opened, fixing on the silver-blue ones that stared down at the human in
“I hadn’t given it much thought,” Legolas replied honestly, for
he had not. Time was a different matter among elves. And
although he knew Thranduil would desire word of his plans if he were
able to send it, his accountability to his father was not as it had
been when he was younger, or as it would have been were he human.
Aragorn nodded slowly and looked back to the intricately tiled
floor. He kept forgetting that Legolas and his father had a
different relationship than he and Elrond; due in no small part to the
very fact that time was perceived so diversely among the races.
“Why do you ask?” Legolas shifted slightly, turning so the
Dùnadan had his full attention. The celebrations in the
room were forgotten as the two friends talked quietly. “Do you
wish me to leave?”
“No! I mean... unless you want to.” Aragorn turned in the
large chair, drawing his feet up onto the cushion and resting them on
the arm near Legolas’ thigh. That was exactly the opposite of
what he wanted. “Actually, if you don’t mind, I would have you
stay on for a time. Even after we return from the Shire I
“Estel, I had no plans to leave anytime soon.” The prince glanced
up as a party of elves passed them by, exiting the large room.
Returning his stare to the open gaze of his friend he continued.
“I want to stay...” Legolas words faltered and softened and the ranger
was forced to concentrate on what he was saying. “My heart needs it
right now.” The elf lightly touched his chest, his thoughts far
away. He loved his home, but Mirkwood in general was no longer a
place of light, and Legolas wished to linger in the beautiful bliss of
Imladris for a time before he faced the journey into the dark
Concern colored Aragorn’s gaze and he started to speak when Legolas
glanced up at him once more, the shadow of remembrance passing swiftly
from the deep blue eyes. “It is good for me to be here with your
family, with you and with your father. And if it is also your
wish, then I would be more than glad to remain.”
Nodding slowly, it was Aragorn’s turn to shift his gaze anywhere away
from the searching glance of his friend. He knew the elf could
see into his soul in a way that most others never could, never chanced,
and weren’t allowed. Usually that was all right, but for some
reason it was hard to let the prince see his hesitancy, the indecision
that warred inside of him. “Yes, I would that you stayed on, but
I did not want to keep you if you wished to return to your
The light laughter of the elf surprised the ranger and he glanced up
“Oh Aragorn, these months I have been away from my father’s kingdom are
as days for him. He will not have missed me so soon although I
think I should wish to send him word that I am well and staying on in
Rivendell. Truly he has probably already guessed. We have
finally accustomed him to our ways, mellon-nín,” the prince’s
laughter was light. “When he learned I meant to visit you he
appointed a lieutenant to take over my patrols for an indefinite period
of time and started making long-term care arrangements for my
Ketrals. He won’t have them in the palace when I’m not
there.” Legolas’ hand on Aragorn’s shoulder tightened
slightly. “He does not expect me back immediately. I will
This was indeed what Aragorn’s heart was questioning that he had not
had the courage to ask. He was a leader of men, a captain in the
army of Gondor, a man raised among elves to be both human and elven;
the misgivings of his heart and the indecision that plagued his
thoughts bothered the ranger.
“Your heart needs the rest too, Estel.” Legolas read past the
walls and the closed, emotionless face that stared up at him.
“You are weary. Perhaps... perhaps it would be better if we told
Halbarad that we cannot go at this time? It is no slight to
“No.” Aragorn didn’t shift his gaze, allowing the elf to see his
fears and hesitancies; he trusted the prince with his life, with his
soul. “No,” he repeated with a sigh, “there is not the manpower to be
spared elsewise and the inhabitants of Bree and the Shire need
help. Something like this will lock the countryside up with
fear. They are simple people, Legolas, and they have had to live
with evils such as this for far too long. If you will go with me
I would be grateful for your company, my friend. And between you
and my brothers I have nothing to worry over.”
Legolas gazed up at the ceiling for a moment as though pondering his
reply, but the smile tugging at the corner of his lips betrayed his
thoughts. His hesitancy garnered the desired reaction as Aragorn
laughed softly and gave the elf a small shove.
“Yes,” Legolas laughed, dodging the playful smack. “I would enjoy being
out with you, Estel, and your brothers as well. It has been a
long time since we have all traveled together. It will be
exciting for me, as I have never been that far west yet. I would
love to go.” He smiled down at his friend, “And I will stay here
in Rivendell when we return for as long as you should wish. There
isn’t another Yén for a few years and seeing as father and I
parted on amicable terns for once, I have no pressing reason to return
home.” The elf’s smile reached his voice, softening the words in
Aragorn mirrored the smile the elf favored him with and pushed himself
up out of the deep cushions of the chair. Extending his hand down
he pulled the elf up and wrapped his arms around the prince’s slender
shoulders. “Hannon le, mellon-nín,” he whispered in
Legolas' ear. “That being the case, my dear elf, I am going to
retire for what remains of the evening. I have not the stamina that you
do and if we leave in the morning I wish to be fresh and ready.”
“Yes!” Legolas shoved the human towards the doorway. “I wish not to
have a grumpy ranger on my hands. Nothing is more intolerable!”
“Prissy elf!” Aragorn called the old taunt over his shoulder
“Filthy human!” Legolas called back in kind, “Bathe while you are
The room silenced a degree as the two old friends called the jaded
remarks to one another. Aragorn blushed deeply as he glanced at
his father, realizing the words spoken in jest had been heard by more
than just Legolas. Elrond gracefully crossed his arms across his
chest and raised an eyebrow in question.
“My pardon, gentle beings, but I must take my leave of you. As my
friend has so kindly pointed out, I am in need of a bath and a
bed!” the ranger called to their guests. He smiled widely
and pointed to the wayward strands of hair that fell into his eyes as
proof. His admission brought a round of laughter and a good deal
of teasing from the other rangers in the room. The voices of his
brothers could be heard over the tumult of the cheer and he glanced
once more at his elven father. The elf lord’s smile widened and
he shook his head fondly.
“Off with you then,” he mouthed silently, “I will be up later.”
With a nod Aragorn turned and left the great hall seeking out the
quieter places of the Last Homely House. He hoped his father
would wake him even if he had fallen asleep by the time Elrond sought
him out. He really needed to talk with the older elf.