Mistaken Identity

Part 10

by Cassia and Siobhan

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    A highly un-amused Lord Elrond found himself once again having to patch up Legolas and his foster son. At first Legolas’ stab wound and Aragorn’s concussion had him a little too concerned for levity but, once the true danger was past, he did not miss an opportunity to note the reoccurring irony of their situation.
    "You know, Estel," the elf lord remarked as he changed the dressing on Aragorn’s shoulder wound. "Until you came along, I lived many generations in the contentedly mistaken thought that Elladan and Elrohir were as much trouble as a father could ask for."
    Aragorn grinned around a wince. "They’re just better at hiding it."
    Elrond chuckled despite himself. "Considering I didn’t have to remove an arrow from either of them until they were well over 100 years old, and I have taken three out of you in the first twenty years of your life, not to mention concussions, stab wounds and the odd assorted poison oak incidents..."
    Predictably, Aragorn protested that that been his brother’s fault, and Elrond quietly ignored him. "...I would have to agree with you," the elf finished, tightening the bandage.
    "It’s not fair to compare us, elves age slower and live longer." Aragorn pointed out.
    "And watching you I begin to understand why!" Elrond shook his head. "Estel, given what I have seen of you thus far, if you had the life span of an elf, I would hate to see what kind of shape you would be in by the time you reached your brothers’ age."
    Aragorn gave into his father’s teasing and settled back against the headboard of his bed. "With your excellent care? I’ll be fine."
    Elrond smiled somewhat softly. "The world is changing and many things are drawing near in the mist-shrouded future. I cannot say what they portend, but I feel that the wheels which shall turn them have already been set in motion. I may or may not always be here, Estel. Someday my time to pass over the sea shall come and I will leave Middle-earth as so many have already done."
    Aragorn sobered and nodded. "Would I sound selfish if I hoped that it did not come too soon?" he said quietly.
    "Fear not, young one," Elrond assured. "I will not depart and leave these fair lands to the creeping darkness. If the elves do not oppose the evil one, who will? But things must soon change, for better or worse. Besides," his gaze turned warmer, "I would not leave until I have seen you come into your destiny, Estel, wherever it may lie."
    Elrond rose from the bedside and passed to the door. "Now, Estel, I have some good news for you. Moranuen has recovered almost fully from the injuries the townsfolk dealt him. He woke up several days ago and has made rapid progress."
    Aragorn sat up once more, a happy smile lighting his face. It eased his heart to know that his old friend was going to be all right. "Can I go to him?"
    "No," Elrond shook his head and Aragorn looked slightly crestfallen. "Young one," the elf lord smiled gently, "You are not well yet and I am still concerned about the after-effects of your concussion. You need to remain still for a time and take it easy. However..." Elrond opened the door. "There’s no saying he can’t come to see you."
    A dark-haired elf, slightly shorter than Aragorn’s brothers, entered the room. One arm was still in a splint and carefully tucked into a sling across his chest, but his merry eyes were smiling and alert, a thing which did Aragorn’s heart good to see.
    "Mora!" Aragorn said when the elf seated himself on the edge of the bed and gave the ranger a careful hug. "They didn’t tell me you were up and about. I’m so glad you’re doing better."
    Moranuen smiled. "Which is more than I can say for you. What happened to you, Estel? You look like a cave troll got at you!"
    Aragorn rolled his eyes. "It’s a long story..."


    Two or three days passed uneventfully, which, as Elrond saw fit to remark, was unusual with Aragorn around. Aragorn was finally released from his enforced bed rest on the conditions that he take it easy yet until Elrond told him otherwise.
    Legolas was also able to be up and about and right now he had found a moment alone in the great Hall of Fire. The elf sat cross-legged in the corner, perched easily on the high, thin, decorative shelf that spanned the upper half of all the walls of the room. He was staring thoughtfully at the fire when the young ranger entered.
    Aragorn wondered how his friend had gotten up there, but had finally given up paying much attention to the elf prince’s penchant for taking repose in unusually odd places and flopped quietly down into the seat of a chair below.
    "Better view from up there?" he inquired of the elf above his head with a small smile.
    Legolas jumped down gracefully, lighting almost weightlessly next to the young human’s chair. "Quieter. You should try it sometime." The elf was incredibly mobile considering that his injuries were still so fresh.
    It was late and the great hall was empty except for the two friends and the many roaring fires. Shadows danced and flickered across Legolas’ face and Aragorn watched his friend with concern.
    "I didn’t mean to interrupt," Aragorn apologized. "If you want to be alone..."
    Legolas shook his head as he took a more normal seat next to his young friend, reassuring the human that no intrusion had been made.
    "Thinking of Hebrilith?" Aragorn queried softly after a few moments of silence. He immediately wondered if it had been a wise thing to say, but before he could tell Legolas to ignore the question, the prince spoke quietly.
    "Yes, I was. Of him... and other things," Legolas’ eyes were distant, still seeking the fire. "I’m glad he is at peace now. He was right about some things, you know."
    Aragorn’s brows knit tightly. "Legolas... the things he said to you... they weren’t-"
    Legolas raised his hand for silence, his eyes finding his friend’s at last. "He was right that I had not let go of what happened to me as much as I told myself I had. The pain was still there if something prodded deeply enough to disturb it, but I didn’t realize that. It took you, and he, for me to really see what I’ve been carrying around all these years. But he was wrong about what it meant. My pain did not poison my soul as his did."
    Aragorn remained silent. There was nothing he could think of to say. Legolas’ frank confession to him was startling. He would never have dared ask for, or expect his friend to be so entirely candid with him about the very personal hurts of the prince’s past.
    "As strange as it may sound Estel," Legolas shook his head slowly, "I am glad for everything that’s happened. And I’m glad I met Hebrilith, even under those circumstances. He forced me to look at things I didn’t want to look at. But I needed to see them, so I could finally let go of the hurt... and let go of my own fear that it had somehow changed me deep inside, planted something dark there that I needed to fear..." Legolas had never admitted that secret fear to anyone in all the hundreds of years of his existence. Until now, he could not have.
    Legolas stopped and couldn’t help smiling at the very serious, almost overly-intent look on his friend’s face. "I’ve lost you, haven’t I?" he chuckled lightly.
    "No, no!" Aragorn shook his head. "I understand completely..."
    Legolas’ smile widened, but it was gentle. Aragorn was too young and unburdened to understand the effects of long-buried pain like Legolas had had to deal with. "No, you don’t, and I’m glad for it. All too swiftly the world will rob you of your innocence and I would not see that happen too soon."
    Aragorn was used to essentially being told he was too young to understand things by the elves around him and sighed good-naturedly. "Well considering I shall never have your hundreds of years of experience, I suppose I shall have to take your word for it," he replied with a puckish grin. "But I already knew that something was working for the better inside that elvish head of yours."
    "Oh?" Legolas raised an eyebrow inquiringly. "And why is that?"
    Aragorn’s eyes softened a shade. "Because when I checked your bandages earlier, you did not pull away from me when I touched you," the young human said quietly. "And when I looked in your eyes, you were only seeing me, not ghosts of the past."

    Legolas was taken by surprise. He had never realized that Aragorn was aware of the involuntary reaction he sometimes had to the human’s touch. The elf blinked several times as he absorbed that. "It was never because of you."
    "I know," Aragorn nodded simply.
    Legolas smiled softly. "Maybe you understand more than I gave you credit for."
    "Finally!" Aragorn smiled playfully at the elf, trying to lighten the mood. "I've been trying to tell my family that for years."
    The elf shook his head confused momentarily, "What?"
    "That I understand more than I am given credit for!"
    "Oh, right." Legolas moved a pace back from the human before continuing. "That same old argument, 'I am older than you think I am'. Is that the one?" He smiled openly at the ranger.
    "The one he will never win." Elladan had quietly entered the room, hearing the tail end of their conversation. He walked up behind Aragorn and ruffled the young man’s long brown hair as he passed him.
    Aragorn tried to move out of the way, but he still ached severely from the abuse he had taken from Hebrilith and his actions were noticeably slower. He glowered at his elven brother and graced his friend with the same scowl, knowing the elves were taking advantage of his weariness.
    "So what makes you think you are suddenly so much older than you were two days ago?" The eldest twin seated himself out of the range of the human’s reach. He knew full well that his taunting would have garnered him a good fight if the man had felt any better.
    "I don’t recall anyone addressing you during our conversation," Aragorn growled at his brother.
    Legolas stepped back near Aragorn and seated himself on the chair’s large arm, his eyes locked onto the human's. "No, I do believe it is true. You understand more than you are given credit for, human." The elf smiled at the dark eyes, watching him carefully. "And you are able to teach more than you realize. Without your help, I would have been defeated by Hebrilith. It came very close."
    Elladan smiled and stood to his feet, leaning down as he passed by the young human. "I guess Father was right in keeping you, Estel, instead of selling you to the traders." He teased the ranger, knowing full well Aragorn wasn’t up to the challenge.
    "Yes, it's you I question Iluvatar on, Elladan." Elrond entered the room, smiling at his eldest son, caught in the act of tormenting his younger brother. He had heard the old taunt throughout the many years the human had been under the roof of their house.
    Elladan's face turned red, having been found out. Aragorn smiled wickedly up at the twin. "Told you he always liked me best," he whispered fiercely at the elf.
    Legolas couldn’t help himself as he started laughing at the easy banter and the look on Lord Elrond's face as he barely overheard his youngest son's taunt.
    Elladan leaned down on the armchair pressing in close to Aragorn, speaking so low that Legolas had to strain to hear him, "It’s a good thing, young human, that you are still wounded or Elrohir and I might have to take you out for a little trip into the hills."
    "Why? So I could beat you again?" Aragorn smiled innocently back up at the elf.
    Legolas easily grabbed the human and pulled him back against the arm of the chair he sat on, out of reach of the twin. Aragorn tipped his head back so his gaze was redirected. "Perhaps you would be safer if you accompanied me home. Raniean and Trelan should be here any day now. You might live longer that way."
    The offer of protection caused the human to laugh. "They can’t kill me. Father would have their hides."
    "No, but it does seem that they do try from time to time." Elrond moved away from the window he stood near and approached his sons, smiling at the eldest twin and interrupting the conversation.
    "Sorry, Father, we failed again." Elladan smiled sweetly at the elderly elf.
    "That’s not funny!" Aragorn glanced at Elrond who simply shook his head.
    "Out, Elladan." Elrond motioned towards the door. "I need to see to these two for a few moments, alone and without you aggravating them."
    "I'd love to stay and help. Perhaps I can change Estel's bandage for you." He smiled at the human knowing the offer was only in jest.
    "Out, now." Elrond turned to the elf. "You may take him out later when he's well and finish this conversation then. But not in my house or while they are still wounded."
    "Yeah. Gives you an unfair advantage," Aragorn cocked his head to the side thinking, "although you may need it."
    "Enough!" Elrond pushed the twin out the door and glared at the prince who was still laughing at the whole exchange. "Estel, you do not help your situation at all."
    "And you." The elf lord approached the young prince and guided him over to a chair, seating the elf in it and carefully looking over his nearly healed wounds.
    "Forgive me, my lord." Legolas glanced at Aragorn. "I miss the banter, being an only child."
    "Lucky, that’s what I call it," Aragorn murmured.
    "Estel, hush."
    "He's still outside the door. I can hear him breathing out there," Aragorn argued.
    Elrond walked over and kneeled down in front of the human, his eyes smiling as he worked gently with the man. "You keep me young, my son. But you also take years off my life coming home as you do."
    "I'm sorry, Father. Truly I am." The ranger turned serious. "You know we were only teasing."
    "Yes." He stared at the man. "And so does Elladan. You scared them more than you can know. Both of you did." He turned and glanced at the prince, who dropped his gaze. "But I sense something different about you, both of you. You are older, Estel, somehow calmer. And you, young prince, " he turned back to the elf seated across the way, "You are free." His smile was sad. "It has been many years, but I can see the difference in you. It is a welcome one."
    Legolas' smile was bright and he nodded once in understanding as Elrond stood. "If you would remain our guest, I will send to your father. It is spring and the mountains are beautiful this time of year. It would please us if you stayed on a few more weeks."
    "Stay." Aragorn leaned forward. "You haven’t seen the best parts of Rivendell yet." A small smile played across the ranger’s lips. "Besides I think I could use the protection."
    A soft snicker could be heard just outside the door.
    "Elrohir!" Elladan’s hushed voice came to their ears.
    "He's right! He's going to need protection from you!" Elrohir protested.
    "Be more loud would you?" the elder twin’s voice was exasperated.
    Elrond glanced at the friends and pressed his finger to his lips, silently walking back near the door. "Both of you are loud! Have neither of you anything better to do?" He stepped into the hallway, startling the eavesdropping twins.
    "I wanted to make sure Estel and the prince were all right." Elrohir's face came into view around the edge of the door. "You will stay, won’t you?" he addressed the question to the prince. "There is a great pool that we swim in, in the summer. We would love to show you."
    Aragorn glanced at Legolas. "What about it? Stay a bit. Let me show you my home. There is more to do here than get into trouble."
    The prince smiled back at him from where he sat. "I would love to stay longer." He looked to the elderly elf. "Lord Elrond, I would take you up on your offer. Would you please inform my father that I will be staying?"
    Elrond nodded and was about to speak when Elladan's voice could be heard from the hallway, softly muttering, "Good that should even things up a bit."

    "He's teasing, Father," Elrohir spoke quickly as the lord of the manor turned a dark glare upon the twin.
    "No I'm not."
    "No he's not," Aragorn spoke at the same time his brother answered the retort.
    "This will be fun," Legolas laughed from his seat.
    "Yes, maybe you can teach them how to shoot too. They are, after all, Noldor elves," Aragorn spoke up.
    "What!?" The chimed response set the friends to laughing.
    "Iluvatar help us," Elrond rolled his eyes. "I’ll need to keep an eye on you, after all. Hopefully we can return you to your father in one piece someday, young prince."
    "Just not today." Aragorn smiled at the elf, ignoring his brother’s threats.
    The summer would prove to be very full and interesting indeed with an extra young elf under Rivendell’s roof.

But we get ahead of ourselves for that is another story entirely...

The End

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