Elrond still lay, looking as he had when Aragorn had
left his side
earlier that morning. He carefully grabbed an empty chair and
drug it over to the bedside, collapsing into it heavily.
Aragorn leaned forward and laid his head down on his
arms, resting on
the bed that held his father. He was weary in more ways than he
could recount. His heart ached from all the stress and worry of
the past few days and his body was sore from all the abuse and labors
of clearing out Rivendell and its’ residents.
The house was now empty save for his brothers and
Legolas had refused to leave and Gandalf had made it known that he
would stay on also. Celboril had remained behind to see to the
family’s needs. The sounds of the ever-rising river could be heard
rushing through the canyon – it was only a matter of time.
And still Elrond had not woken.
Aragorn heard the doors of Rivendell shut softly
when Moranuen left,
heading into Strayton to warn the people of the danger the river
presented and to help them prepare. He hoped the elf would find
his way easily to Taradin whom he knew would see to his friend’s
But Elrond still slept. And this troubled him
Legolas limped slowly down the hall, keeping as
silent as possible. Now
that all the preparations had been seen to and all the wounded cared
for, he knew exactly where he would find the ranger – in his father’s
room. He watched quietly as Aragorn pulled a chair nearer the
bed and rested his head lightly next to his father’s chest, his mind
completely worn, and for the moment, empty of all thoughts.
“I thought I might find you here.” The soft
whisper could have
been a shout for the reaction it garnered from the human.
Aragorn jumped and turned his face towards the
stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame for support, a slight
smile on his lips. “Has he woken?”
“What are you doing up? Come in here and sit.”
Aragorn started to
rise but the elf raised his hand, stopping the human as he limped
forward and carefully lowered himself into a chair.
“Gandalf said it was only a sprain.” Legolas
seeing the worry in his friend’s eyes.
“And did he say you could be up?”
“Do you think I would be if he had said otherwise?”
Legolas rolled his eyes and looked at the sleeping
form of Elrond. “How
“Changing the subject are we?” Aragorn smiled at his
laughed as the elf graced him with a humorless grimace. “Fine.
Subject changed.” The ranger chuckled slightly as he lowered his
head back on to the bed and gazed at his friend. “He is the same,
he has not woken.”
“I am sorry.”
Aragorn sighed and closed his eyes. It was
enough to just rest
here for now, in the moment that he had. If things did not
improve they would be forced to leave and Rivendell would be lost and
perhaps her master as well.
The sounds of slight movement caused the man to open
Legolas stopped, caught in the act of trying to sneak out of the room.
“Please stay.” Aragorn’s eyes locked on the
blue ones and the elf
“Of course. I thought you might want to be alone,
that was all.”
A soft chuckle accompanied the human’s smile as he
watched the prince
reseat himself. “No, I merely wanted to be away from Elladan and
Elrohir. Sometimes they can drive me to insanity, bickering about
whose fault it was that that Numenorean vase was broken in the guest
room. It was such an ugly thing. I don’t even know why my father
kept it.” He laughed slightly, “You’d think they had forgotten
that Elladan had nearly died.” He was quiet for a few minutes and
when Aragorn spoke again his voice was soft but the elf could still
hear him. “I wanted to be here with him for a bit with no one else
around.” Realizing how that sounded he smiled and amended the
statement, “except for you that is.”
Legolas nodded in understanding. There were no
words, and he
offered no useless platitudes, his presence was simply enough and he
“I know it’s not my fault. But in a way I still feel
Those are feelings I will have to deal with over time. We always
had a different relationship than he had with my brothers.”
Aragorn smiled as he thought back to times long past. “He always
remembered that I wasn’t elven, and never would be, and he always
treated me thus. As though I really was an adult when I turned
Legolas laughed quietly at the reference to the
long-standing joke that he
and the other elves had had with the ranger, ever referring to him as a
child and hardly an adult.
Aragorn’s eyes drifted closed and did not
open. Legolas contented
himself with dozing in the comfortable chair. The day had been
very long and he was more weary from his injuries than he cared to
Consciousness was slow to returning and he
half-wondered why it was
anyway until he felt the soft touch again. Opening heavy eyelids,
Aragorn glanced at Legolas sleeping soundly in the chair at the foot of
Elrond’s bed. A frown creased his forehead as his mind tried to
grasp the source of the touch that had wakened him. Again he felt
it, fingers gently touching the back of his head and combing slowly
through his hair, catching slightly in the tangled locks.
Carefully he turned his head and as he did so, Elrond’s fingers fell
lightly against his cheek.
Glazed blue eyes were watching him and a small smile
pulled at the
edges of Elrond’s lips as he stared at his youngest son.
Aragorn caught his father’s hand in his own, drawing
it towards him as
he leaned closer to the elf.
“Father? You’re awake.”
The older elf tried to speak but the words wouldn’t
quite form on his
lips. The human leaning over him shushed him gently, “No,
shh...don’t talk its all right. Its just good to see you awake,
Having none of being quieted by his son, Elrond
frowned up at the boy
and tried again, “Estel, you...are well?” The words were rough and soft
and he smiled as he spoke them, relief shining in his eyes.
Aragorn closed his eyes, nodding his head in answer
before he spoke,
“Yes. Yes I am. Because of you.”
The human shook his head in denial, “You should not
His protests were cut off as the elderly elf pressed
his fingers to the
boy’s lips. “All that matters is that you are well, my
Elrond sighed deeply as his body began protesting, his consciousness
taking in the fact that he was indeed hurting and hurting badly.
The soft conversation had wakened Legolas and he
stood quietly to his
feet, ready to help if needed.
Elrond’s eyes slowly glanced towards the young elf
standing at the foot
of his bed and he smiled. “And you are in one piece. I am
The softly spoken joke caused the prince to laugh.
“Yes, my lord, for
once I am.” Legolas looked to Aragorn who was watching his
friend. The elf caught the human’s attempt to brush away the
tears that fell from his eyes. Looking for a way to give them a
moment of privacy, he excused himself from the room, “Shall I go find
Mithrandir for you?”
“Yes, please,” Aragorn nodded. “Tell him to
“There is no hurry. I am not going anywhere.”
quietly from his bed, but the elf was already moving stiffly from the
room, seeking out the old wizard.
“He limps.” Elrond gazed hard at the human now
seated on the bed
next to him. “What have you two been doing?”
“What haven’t we been doing would seem to be the
father,” Aragorn laughed as he answered.
A deep voice interrupted their privacy, “That is the
indeed!” Gandalf entered the room and moved to the opposite side
of the bed, staring down at the elf lord. “These two are quite a
handful. I don’t know how you keep track of them without going
mad. I suppose it takes the younger generation such as yourself to keep
the likes of these in line.” The lines around his eyes crinkled
as he laughed.
“Younger generation?” Elrond raised one
graceful eyebrow and
stared up into the face of his longtime friend. It was a joke
between them because Elrond could track his age on Middle-earth to a
longer time than Mithrandir had been present, while none could count
the years of Gandalf's existence before he had been sent hither and it
was not a topic the wizard was prone to discuss plainly.
Gandalf tipped his head to the side and raised a
hand, staving off the
argument, “Don’t start that with me. I have already had to lecture
these two on the relevance of age and wisdom.” He sobered quickly
as he bent down closer to Elrond. “It is good to see you awake, old
friend. You gave us quite a scare.”
The elf lord smiled back at the wrinkled, time-worn
face that leaned
over him. “Is everyone all right?”
Gandalf straightened up and looked out the window
behind Aragorn. “Well,
we’ll get to that in a minute. For now there are a few other
pressing matters that need our attention.”
“And that would be?” Elrond tried to move into
a sitting position,
but was stopped by Aragorn who pressed him gently back down.
“Nothing you can't take care of while you lie in bed,” the young
human admonished him, glancing at Gandalf for support.
Ignoring the elf’s attempt to move the wizard
glanced back down at
Elrond and continued, “That river of yours has a mind of its own.
And when her master is not about, she can be quite unruly.”
“Has the Bruinen jumped its banks?”
“It is worse than that, my lord.” Legolas
spoke softly from the
corner where he had reseated himself.
Aragorn picked up the telling and continued, “When
the earth shook, the
river was dammed at the falls. There were heavy rains and the
water pooled in the gorge where it was contained until it
overflowed. Now it is rising by the moment and both the dams we
have raised against it and the one formed by the earthquake are ready
to give way. When it does it will destroy Rivendell and the surrounding
areas. We had no way to stop it.” He glanced worriedly at
his father, unsure if the elf had the strength to deal with the
Elrond glanced at Gandalf, gauging the seriousness
and validity of what
had been said. He did not doubt his son, but he also realized
they were asking of him and the resulting ramifications could be more
than simply a swollen river.
The old wizard nodded slowly in response.
There was nothing more
Brushing his son gently aside, Elrond pressed
himself up in his bed,
leaning back against the ornately carved wooden headboard. He
closed his eyes and thought things through, seeking the best path,
listening to his heart and weighing all the possibilities.
Unconsciously his fingers sought the ring on his left hand – Vilya,
Ring of Air.
“Very well. Let us stop this before it goes
The elf lord glanced at Gandalf.
“Then I will watch and make sure that you are not
wizard replied cryptically. However, Elrond understood perfectly
and nodded his thanks.
Looking out the large picture window on his left,
the elf lord began to
speak in the high tongue, calling to the winds, calling to the very air
and summoning it to him. He spoke to the river, quieting its mad
rush through the gorge. The angry, swollen waters began to slow
and the edges of the waterway began to recede slowly, falling back over
into itself and easing to a level below its banks.
The wind howled through the gorge, screaming down
the canyon as it raced
on its way to the riverhead and the dam that the earthquake had
As the force of the air hit the unnatural boundary,
it blew the rocks
and fallen trees out of the path of the river, destroying the dam,
unbinding the Bruinen and freeing her falls once more.
Had anyone been near the riverhead at that moment,
they would have been
surprised to see that the water held back by the rocks and trees did
not instantly fall to the floor of the rift as one might have
expected. The air itself became the barrier that held the choked
water at bay. Like invisible hands, the winds themselves
solidified around the lake and held the water firmly, allowing the
to refill slowly and the river to recede gradually until it just barely
crested its banks, lapping at the edges of the forests and towns that
it passed through, meting out the water a bit at a time until the
Bruinen flowed smoothly once more. The river was placid and
again, now that Elrond was back.
Aragorn watched spellbound as his father spoke to
the air and it obeyed
him. Subconsciously, he grabbed onto the edge of the bed as the
howling winds swirled around the house, causing the timbers of
Rivendell to creak and sway with the power of the unseen force as it
gathered outside around them. Gandalf was equally engaged, but
what the wizard was up to only Elrond would ever know and he never
spoke of it. The older man was concentrating so deeply that he was not
aware of what went on around them, his eyes closed tightly shut as he
kept focused on his task.
Legolas’ eyes widened and his mouth parted in awe as
he saw Vilya light
up from within. The ring glowed and tiny sparks of light seemed
to swirl in a tight spiral around the jewel, coalescing into the
interior of the sapphire gem. Within moments the ring dimmed and
for all outward appearances seemed to actually fade on the finger of
the elf who wore it, becoming almost unseen to the untrained eye.
Aragorn looked up at his friend who had observed
spellbound silence and smiled. He knew that Legolas was able to
see Vilya even now, even hidden as it was – for none who ever witnessed
the powers of the rings could do so and remain unchanged.
Elrond redirected his gaze at the two friends,
glancing between them,
knowing their thoughts. He smiled at the utter look of awe on the
young elf’s face, but quickly turned his attention to the older man who
stood next to him.
“Mithrandir?” He whispered the wizard’s name,
afraid to break into
Slowly the elderly man relaxed and opened his eyes,
gazing at the elf
lord for a few silent moments before speaking. “It is safe.
We were not observed.”
“Thank you, my friend.” Elrond let himself
sink back a little
further, exhausted and far weaker than he wanted to admit.
Wielding that kind of power in his current condition had been no small
Gandalf merely nodded and slowly seated himself with
a sigh, worn out
from his mysterious vigil. Glancing at the two youths he scowled
and leaned forward emphasizing his words, “Mark you now, neither of you
witnessed that. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, Mithrandir,” Legolas whispered as Aragorn
nodded his head in
Satisfied, the wizard leaned back and relaxed fully
into the large
seat. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his pipe and went
about lighting it. “I think that requires a nice long rest.” He
smiled, pulling in the sweet smoke of the weed and breathing it back
again. “Yes, that should just about do it.”
Elrohir ran into the bedroom breathlessly, grabbing
the doorframe to
stop himself. “Did you see...?” His words were cut short as
he took in the sight of his father sitting upright in bed.
“Father!” The elf ran to the side of the bed
and threw himself
down next to him, wrapping his arms around Elrond’s neck.
Aragorn quietly moved aside to give them a moment.
“It is well, Elrohir,” Elrond gently pushed
the youngest twin back
so he could look into the dark eyes watching his every move. “And you
also look as though you have fared well.”
“But...” Elrohir touched his father's hand, brushing
the now invisible
ring in silent question.
“Do not worry, young elf. No one noticed and
your valley has been
saved,” Gandalf spoke up from the seat he occupied, watching the whole
exchange with a smile on his weatherworn face. When Elrohir
turned to him, he raised his pipe to the window and motioned towards
the falls. “Go see for yourself. The Bruinen has found her place
once more since her master is awake now.”
“How long have you been up?” Elrohir asked his
“Long enough.” Gandalf growled, standing to
his feet, “Now be out
with you all. I need to look after my patient.” He shooed
them out the door, pressing Aragorn out last, “Go! Go! Who
can get anything done with the three of you underfoot? Out with you
When he had finally secured the door he turned with
a laugh and glanced
back at the elderly elf. Elrond was spent. What energy he
did have was fading fast and the aches in his body were beginning to
vie for attention.
“You look older than I do.” Gandalf laughed at his
joke and walked back
to the bedside, seating himself next to his old friend. “That was
close, you know.”
Elrond nodded, “Too close.”
“Yes.” Gandalf glanced out the window. “The
stronger by the day, my friend, and it is not so easily held back any
“Was it noticed?”
“No. Not this time. But I would advise against that
Gandalf closed his eyes, “Things are changing.”
“Things are always changing, Mithrandir.”
The old wizard opened one eye and leveled his gaze
at the elf. He
snorted at the comment and pressed his head back against the chair.
“Yes, but it’s different now and you know it too.”
There was no doubting that the darkness that had
been held at bay for
so many centuries was moving again. The elf lord knew it, had
known it for some time.
“It is as I have long feared, since you brought the
news that the Eye
had regathered itself in Dol Guldur. Too long did we tarry before
driving it from Mirkwood, I fear, giving him time to escape...” The elf
lord sighed as if willing the dark thoughts away. Now was not the
time to ponder the shortcomings of the White Council. “Thank you
for coming, old friend. How has everything else fared?” Elrond
questioned, changing the subject and eager to hear of the happenings
that had occurred, since he had obviously been absent for some time.
Gandalf eyed him casually. “Well your Numenorean
vase is broken. It
was my fault, but your twins had such fun arguing amongst themselves
about who broke it that I never told them.” He laughed at the
memory. “I can get you a new one if you like.”
The elf lord laughed. “Please no. I always hated
that thing. It
was given to me as a gift from the royal family when they took refuge
here. But honestly I think they just wanted to get rid of it, it was
“Yes indeed,” Gandalf laughed with the elf. “But
your sons are a
handful. How do you maintain your sanity?”
“You may have them if you like.” The elf
raised an eyebrow,
teasing the wizard.
“What and deprive you of joy in your old age,
“Then borrow them, please. I could use a bit
of peace around here
from time to time. There is never a dull moment under these
rafters unless Estel is taken ill or recovering from their latest
exploit.” Elrond chuckled as he thought of his sons.
“Yes...Estel.” Gandalf looked down in thought.
“What is it?” Elrond leaned forward. “Did something
happen to him?”
“Happen?” The old wizard chewed on the end of
thoughtfully. “Yes and no.”
“Speak plainly, wizard.” Sometimes Gandalf’s way of
“Well the boy has grown up amongst elves.”
When Elrond nodded
impatiently, Gandalf continued. “Imperfectly too, just like any human
would I might add.” He let his words hang in the air, idly
smoking his pipe and gazing out the window at the far side of
Elrond spoke quietly at length “I see. I
suppose I should
talk to him.”
“Hmm...I suppose you should.” The wizard
commented quietly around
the end of his pipe.
Elrond glanced at the older man darkly. “Wonderful
help you are.”
“Of course, that’s why I am here.” He smiled
brightly at the elf lord,
his eternally blue eyes sparkling.
The old friend’s conversation was cut short as a
soft rapping on the
“Yes! What is it?!” Gandalf boomed at the intruder
while smiling at the elf
lord, thoroughly enjoying himself.
The door creaked open and Aragorn pushed his upper
“May I come in for a moment?”
“Of course Estel.” Elrond answered quickly,
motioning the boy in.
Gandalf stood from his chair and walked around the
far side of the bed,
“I’ll be in here concocting a sleep potion, in case anyone should need
me,” he mumbled to the occupants of the room as he disappeared into the
refreshing room through an adjoining door.
“We are getting ready to go into town and call back
the servants and
the others who left when the flooding started. I just wanted to
make sure you were all right before we went.” Aragorn looked from
the door Gandalf had disappeared behind back to his father. He
gently touched the bandage that wrapped the elderly elf’s head. “Did
Gandalf say you are all right?”
“Yes, Estel. I will be fine. You and I
need to talk.”
“Talking is what got you hurt in the first
place.” Aragorn sat on
the side of the bed and looked down at the sheets beneath his hands.
“Is that what you think?” Elrond watched the
boy for several long
seconds as the human thought through all the emotions and feelings in
his heart and mind. “Estel?” The dark silver eyes looked up
and locked onto his own. “Is that what you think?” he questioned
“Not only I think so. Elladan and Elrohir do
Aragorn broke the eye contact and looked over his shoulder out the
window, “And they are right. If you had been in the house when the
earth shook, you would not have been hurt. Elladan was very angry
with me. I think... I think he's still avoiding me.”
“I think you misunderstand your brother, my
son.” Elrond touched
the side of the human’s face, forcing Aragorn to look him in the eyes
once more. “Your eldest brother is forever worrying over you. You
don’t need a mother, you have Elladan.” He laughed as the ranger
smiled and nodded. “Ever since you were little, Elladan took it upon
himself to be your protector. I think he believes he is
Rivendell’s protector as well, including my own. When things
happen outside his ability to stop them or protect the ones he loves,
he often responds in what seems to be anger. And it is, but it is
not directed at you, it is directed at himself. You just took the
brunt of it because you happened to be near.”
Aragorn did not respond. He just watched his father,
listening. Gandalf had reappeared in the doorway but did not
speak. He leaned against the frame and observed the elf and the
“I remember a time when you got very sick when you
You had gone to play in the rain and no one noticed. No one
noticed until dinnertime in fact. When we finally found you, you
were already sick and you had a high fever and I couldn’t get it to
break. Your brother Elladan was very angry. And he seemed
to be very angry with me, for letting you play outside when it was
storming.” Elrond smiled at Aragorn as he recounted the story.
“When I approached him later about it, he apologized and confessed that
in truth he was very angry with himself and blamed himself for not
watching you more carefully.”
“He blamed himself?” Aragorn asked in disbelief.
“But it wasn’t
“No, it wasn’t.” Gandalf moved from where he
had been standing, a
steaming mug of tea in his hands. He held the cup out and Aragorn
took it, handing it to Elrond. “Just as your father’s accident wasn’t
your fault. Seems that you are not the only one who blames
himself for other's miseries.”
The old wizard sat again in the chair and picked up
his pipe, refilling
it and smiling contentedly to himself as he lit it once more.
“It’s true Estel. You have all grown up with
the weight of a
world on your shoulders, you more than your brothers.” Elrond
sipped the tea before speaking, smiling softly, “I think the only one
of you who never quite realized the burden that we bear is
Elrohir. He always had more of carefree spirit than the rest of
Elrond turned to Gandalf and questioned him, “Is
this what I think it
is?” He held up the mug for inspection, glancing at its contents
“Yes it is. Now drink it all.” Gandalf pursed
his lips and
frowned at the elf feigning indignation. “You need to rest.”
“As if haven’t rested enough.” the elf lord
another sip of the sleeping draught.
“I see where your sons get their stubbornness.”
Gandalf glared at the
two of them.
The glare of the wizard set Estel to laughing.
He smiled at them
both, “Thank you. Both of you.” He ended the thanks with a
slight bow to the older man. “Now I probably should leave you and
let you rest. Legolas and Elrohir are waiting for me. We
need to rescue Mora, I sent him into town.”
“Alone!?” Elrond became instantly worried.
“I sent him to Taradin,” the ranger replied with a
be more than safe in the hunter’s company.”
“Off with you then!” Gandalf growled at the young
human. “We’ll be fine
here without you.”
Estel smiled and stood from the bed. Leaning
back down he gently
kissed his father’s forehead, “I’m glad you are all right,” he
Elrond smiled back at him and watched as the human
opened the door to
the room. Legolas stood from his seat out in the hallway.
Before he could leave, the elf lord called his son back, “Estel?”
Aragorn stopped midstep and turned back.
“I am very proud of you, my son.”
The smile that lit the boy’s face was reflected in
the ancient eyes of
his father and the wizard. “Thank you,.” he whispered and bowed
slightly before closing the door behind him.
Gandalf had been just about to speak with Elrond
when the door popped
open again. “Excuse me, Gandalf.” It was Estel who had interrupted yet
again, “Elladan is wondering if you could come and give him more of
those herbs? The pain has returned with a vengance, I fear.”
“What happened to Elladan?” Elrond questioned
realizing that it was unusual that his eldest had not been in to see
“Drink your tea.” Gandalf looked at Estel and
Legolas out of the
corner of his eye and shooed them out with a slight motion of his
Legolas laughed as Estel shut the door quickly, “We
will be back as
soon as we may!”