The Stars of Harad

Chapter 20

by Cassia and Siobhan

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And like the rain that falls into the sea
In a moment what has been is lost in what will be.
When love takes you in
Everything changes...

--Steven Curtis Chapman

Legolas stepped quietly into the courtyard, followed by Aragorn. The human stopped, taken aback by the look on Lord Elrond’s face. The older elf stared wordlessly between the two young friends, half afraid he was simply imagining his son home, afraid his heart was tricking him once more, playing the last light of day into some twisted vision to suit his longings.

Legolas bowed slightly, touching his hand to his heart and sweeping it outward in the typical Elvish gesture of respect as Aragorn stepped hesitantly forward. Now that he was home, now that he stood before his father, he did not know what to say or where to begin. His hands shook with the adrenaline that the fear had spiked through his system and he simply bowed in an unspoken request for forgiveness, touching his fingers reverently to his forehead as he did so.

Not only had he threatened Arwen’s peace and happiness, he had run from his family, he had shut them out of his life and wounded their hearts in the process. Aragorn wasn’t sure they could ever forgive him. He wasn’t even sure how to ask.

Elrond stepped forward, testing the vision. It did not move although the human flinched almost imperceptibly at his advance.

Aragorn closed his eyes and held his breath as his adoptive father walked closer to him. The silence was unbearable and yet at the same time unbreakable. Legolas watched mutely as Elrond slowly slid his hands along the sides of the human’s face and tipped the ranger’s head up. The elf’s long graceful fingers brushed the tanned cheeks softly, his eyes searching the silver ones, memorizing them again as his own filled with unshed tears.

Brushing the hair away from the young man’s left temple Elrond gently turned the boy’s face and traced the slight mar near his eye, the remnants of the scar that decorated his son. Silently he fingered the tips of the long unkempt hair now streaked with deep red highlights from days spent working under the hot sun. And when the elf lord looked once more into the hesitant silver eyes that watched him so closely, Aragorn realized that his father knew. Knew where he had been and somehow without even a word passing between them knew what had happened.

"I’m sor..." The ranger started to apologize softly, but the elf lord pressed his fingers against the human’s lips, silencing him. Without another word he pulled the young man into his arms and held him tightly as he let out a deep sigh of relief. A sigh he didn’t even know he had been holding, a sigh that had been waiting for release for the past few years. Estel was finally home, he closed his eyes briefly as he felt Aragorn’s arms wrap around his back and tighten.

Elrond glanced up, seeking out Legolas’ face over his adopted son’s shoulder, and the elf prince could see the tears welling up in the elf lord’s eyes, nearly spilling over. There was no need to explain anything at the moment. It was just so good that they were home, safe, once more. Legolas nodded at the unspoken thanks.

Aragorn didn’t move from the embrace as his father hugged him tighter. He had forgotten how it felt to be treated kindly after so long, had forgotten the way his father smelled and the feel of the crisp cool air of Rivendell on his skin in the evenings. His shoulders shook slightly and could Legolas have seen the ranger’s face at that moment he would have noted the tears streaming down the young human’s cheeks as well.

All was forgotten, all was forgiven, and something in the fair halls of Imladris sighed in the sweet afterglow of reconciliation as the world of men and elves came together once more and the tiny mended family turned and walked back into the ancient vaulted halls.

The End

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