The Stars of Harad


by Cassia and Siobhan

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And this love will never let you go,
There is nothing that will ever cause this love to lose its hold.

--Steven Curtis Chapman

Aragorn heard the snap and hiss of a fire sparking beneath the mantle on the far wall and smiled softly. It was early and the house was so peaceful that Aragorn just lay quietly under the pile of soft blankets that wrapped about him. It had literally been years since he had slept in his own bed and the softness and the comfort was a luxury that he had all but forgotten. The ranger burrowed into the warmth, relaxing into the pillow beneath his head, his face turned to the far wall and his mind still fogged with sleep.

He remembered how he had sat with his father and Legolas in the main room far into the night, retelling the tale of all that had happened to him and how the elf prince had found him and helped him to remember who he was. He shifted slightly under the blankets and lifted his hand out from under the heavy, warm coverings. On his finger, Barahir glinted softly in the warm light and he smiled as his thoughts drifted to Legolas. They had laughed at each other and spoken of all that had happened until Legolas had tiredly excused himself and sought out the ever ready guest room, collapsing down onto what had been fondly termed ‘Legolas’ bed’. It was then when they were alone that Aragorn had finally been able to apologize to his father. His brothers were out hunting, trying to fill the cellars before the storms of winter and had not yet returned. Their absence gave the father and son the time alone that they needed to heal.

His father. He had been so afraid of what he would find when he came home, and after last night he realized that what he had found were not the misgivings of his family but the hesitations and misunderstandings of his own heart and confused emotions. He had internalized all the pain and hurt and confusion that falling in love with a lady who was not only an immortal, but also his adopted father’s daughter, had brought on, and he had isolated himself from his family. If not for their love and the persistence of his friend, he would have lost them all forever, along with everything else, his identity and everything he ever was. He breathed in a slow, ragged breath as gratitude overrode the last tiny twinges of homesickness and gripped his heart tightly in its warm embrace.

Dark eyes were watching him carefully. Elrond knew the ranger was awake and had waited, simply allowing himself the luxury of sitting near the sleeping boy. No, he was a man; he kept reminding himself of that, although his elven heart laughed at the thought. The young human before him would always be a boy to him. At the soft sound of Aragorn’s hitched breathing, Elrond leaned forward and gently placed his hand on the ranger’s back.

Aragorn started and turned over, his sleep-hazed eyes locking onto the deep blue ones that stared back at him. He drew his breath in deeply, trying to ease the emotions that squeezed him.

A small smile tugged at the ranger’s lips as he watched the older man; "Isn’t that where I left you last night?"

Elrond tried to suppress his own smile.

"Father." Aragorn spoke the word softly and the sound of it fell like music on his ears. He smiled as Elrond’s lips turned upward mirroring his own. "Don’t tell me you stayed in that chair all night long," he teased the older elf.

"If I chose to watch my youngest son sleeping, where is the harm in that?" Elrond raised one elegant eyebrow as he answered, his voice soft and low. He reached out and brushed the wayward strands of brown hair out of the young man’s eyes. "Allow your elder the privilege he has been denied for so long. It is so good to have you home, my son."

My son... The words warmed Aragorn’s heart more than any he could remember hearing. His thoughts were broken as the downstairs door opened and closed and the sounds of Elrohir and Elladan resounded cheerfully up the stairwell as the two headed to the kitchens to find Celboril.

Motion at the doorway to his room caught Aragorn’s attention and he looked up to see Legolas standing on the threshold. The elf leaned against the doorframe, his slender shoulders draped in a thick blanket.

"Legolas." Aragorn smiled at his friend, "Come on in, take a seat near the fire where it is warm."

The elf nodded sleepily and silently acknowledged Elrond as he walked into the room, dropping down into a large chair near the fireplace.

"How do you feel this morning, Legolas?" Elrond turned towards the prince and graced the young elf with a small smile.

"Tired. Weary and tired. But very glad to be here with you," Legolas answered truthfully.

"You do realize you are wintering here with us." Aragorn spoke quietly, glancing at his friend from where he still lay, unwilling to leave the comfort he had missed for so long.

"I had hoped for it." The prince glanced between the father and son. "Can word please be sent to my father to let him know of my intentions and my safety?" The prince had given up worrying what his father would think. Thranduil would understand because he had no other option. But since he had left with his father’s blessing this time, Legolas was not overly concerned, even though his journey had taken... a little longer than expected.

"Of course." Elrond nodded, laughing slightly, "It will be good to have you both under the rafters once more. This house has missed the sounds of laughter."

Aragorn laughed softly and glanced at the door as the sounds of quiet footfalls echoed up the stairs.

Elrohir stopped at the head of the stairs and glanced at the open door at the end of the hallway. A deep, sad sigh escaped him. He knew his father had sealed Aragorn’s room only a few months ago. Fearing that the older elf had gone there to console himself again, he quietly approached the doorway. From his viewpoint he could see neither the bed nor the chair that Legolas occupied, only the large sitting seat that held his father.

"Father, why do you torment yourself like this?" The younger elf stood just outside the doorway in the hall, unwilling to enter the room he mistakenly thought was still unoccupied. "It is not good for your heart to continue to grieve so over Estel. Legolas will find him and bring him home. Please come down and eat something. Perhaps even this will be the day they return." Those words. Said so many times, they had almost lost their meaning, yet the young elf still clung to them, as he clung to hope, although both had grown faded.

Elrond glanced from the twin to his youngest. Elrohir’s admission of Elrond’s grieving pierced Aragorn’s heart, and regret for the sorrow he had caused shone in his eyes.

Elladan gained the stairwell and noted where Elrohir stood, his heart aching for his broken family.

"Is father in Estel’s room again?" he called down the hallway to his twin.

Elrohir glanced back quickly at his brother. "Yes, I was trying to convince him to come down to eat."

"Why don’t we all go down to eat?" Elrond questioned, a warm smile tugging on his lips.

He watched as the twins stood perfectly still. Elrohir, catching onto the meaning of his words before Elladan, grabbed the doorframe and stepped quickly into the room, looking to the bed just out of his line of sight.

Aragorn glanced up at the twin, unsure. His last words to his brothers had been in anger and hurt. He didn’t know how they would receive him back. He smiled softly and hesitantly at the elf.

"Estel?" Elrohir couldn’t believe his eyes. The sight of his younger brother brought a rush of emotions flooding his heart and he wasn’t sure how to respond.

"He is home?" Elladan pushed his twin out of the way and entered the bedroom. The older brother stopped near the bed glancing down at the sleepy-eyed ranger.


At the sound of his name the elf dropped next to the bed and pulled the human into his arms, holding him tightly. "I never thought to see you again. After what was said..."

"No. Shhh... It’s all right. Legolas found me. I-I didn’t mean to stay away, honestly I didn’t." He held the twin closely to him, "And it wasn’t your fault either. I was injured and forgot who I was and was unable to return."

Elladan pushed him back quickly and searched the young man’s eyes. "Injured?" His sharp eyes found the slight scar and the human allowed the elf to tip his head to the side and gently touch where the wound had been. "Who hurt you?" he whispered fiercely.

"It does not matter, they are dead now." Aragorn wrapped his hands around the elf’s arms and pressed his forehead against the twin’s. "All that matters is that you, Elrohir and father are still here and still well. I have missed you." His voice broke as he whispered the words softly.

"Estel?" Elrohir whispered the ranger’s name again.

Aragorn glanced up at the younger twin and smiled. "You were the one who gave Legolas Barahir." The man held up his hand, the ring fitted about his finger. "It helped me to remember. Thank you so much."

"I’m sorry." Tears spilled over the rims of Elrohir’s eyes and Estel held his hand out towards the elf, begging the other to come closer as he sat up.

Aragorn closed his eyes and relaxed into the warm embrace of his brothers. With his head buried on Elladan’s shoulder between the two twins he softly apologized, "I am so sorry." His grip on Elrohir’s tunic tightened when the elf shook his head trying to pull back. "Yes I am. I was wrong."

"You were not wrong to fall in love, you have no control over that." Elladan whispered. "We just reacted and acted on what we were feeling. We didn’t stop to listen to you... to see what you were going through too. We should have, Estel. I’m sorry."

"No, the heart does not follow the rules of elves or men," Aragorn conceded. "But I was wrong to speak to you so, both of you. Wrong for pushing you away and thinking I could not trust your love for me. You are my brothers and I could ask for no better. Please now, forgive me."

"Everything. Estel, everything is forgiven," Elladan answered softly.

"If you’ll pardon us as well," Elrohir added.

The ranger moved slightly and kissed the temple of each twin. "It’s already been done."

Elrond glanced back at Legolas who had remained quietly seated in the corner and smiled. The elf prince nodded knowingly at the older elf.

"Shall we all go downstairs and get something to eat?" Elrond’s deep voice broke through the quiet reunion.

Elladan glanced back at his father, wiping the tears from his eyes, then his gaze lit on Legolas sitting in the corner near the fire. The elf prince had a huge grin on his face, and his eyes sparkled more than usual, happy unshed tears in their depths gathered the light brilliantly.

"Thank you, Legolas." The twin nodded to the prince. It was not the first time the wood-elf had brought their brother home to them when he had almost been considered lost. If they weren’t careful it was going to become a habit.

Elrohir moved back and stared at the elf, his own smile matching that of Legolas’.

"None necessary. It is enough that everything has worked out. I even have some really good stories to tell you." The prince smiled wickedly at the ranger who was shaking his head. "Like Estel playing nursemaid to mûmaskil!"

"Legolas!" The ranger grabbed his pillow and flung it at the elf, smacking the prince in the face with the cushion. "You promised!"

"No I didn’t! I promised I wouldn’t tell about the time that you mistook the..." His statement was cut off as Aragorn shouted down his friend.

"Do not! Do not or I will tell of our time in Moria!"

Legolas immediately stopped speaking and glanced at the other elves in the room. "You wouldn’t." Aragorn had been pulling that threat on him since it happened.

"Oh try me, my friend. Surely there are other stories you could tell my family. Like say, how it was you who helped restore my memory."

"Now that would be a good tale." Elladan stood to his feet and reached down to pull his younger brother from the warm bed. "Let’s go eat. I would hear all that you have to say."

"I want to hear about the mûmaskil." Elrohir wrinkled his nose. "Tell me it’s not true. Did you really have contact with those nasty beasts?"

Aragorn swung his legs off the side of the bed and glanced at Legolas who had left the blanket behind now that he was warmed. The prince snickered softly and turned away as the ranger glared at him.

"Well for one thing, they aren’t nasty by nature." He glanced back at his bedside table and fingered the crudely made, tiny wooden oliphaunt toy that stood there besides the shell night-light. "Only if they are trained, or driven to be so. And you wouldn’t believe what truly tame animals they can be!"

"Well the ones we worked with anyway," Legolas muttered as he followed Elrohir out and down the stairs.

"We?" Elrohir glanced over his shoulder. "So you were a nursemaid too?"

"Heavens no!" Legolas laughed, "I was a sharpshooter. I protected the herds."

"Until he got caught and then he was just a slave like the rest of us." Aragorn laughed as his father’s strong arm curled around his shoulders and led him out. He grasped the small toy quickly off the nightstand and shoved it in his pocket, gracing his father with a small smile as they followed the others down the stairs. Gently he wrapped his hand around the strong one that rested on his shoulder.

"A slave!" Both Elladan and Elrohir stopped dead in their tracks staring open-mouthed between the elf prince and their brother.

Elrond pushed Aragorn between them and walked him down the stairs, trailing Legolas who was laughing at the elves’ astonishment.

"Wait a minute, what do you mean you were slaves?" Elladan was indignant as he caught up with his father and brother.

"I do believe I hear Celboril calling us." Aragorn laughed, reaching behind him and pulling Legolas with him into the dining hall. The small family tumbled into the warmly lit room, the conversation at a fever pitch. Elrond stood in the doorway and watched the four young beings as the twins plied the friends for answers faster than they could give them.

Silently he thanked Ilúvatar for bringing his family, all of them, adopted and borrowed alike, home for the winter. Shaking his head he walked into the room and entered the fray, laughing at the tale Legolas was attempting to retell around a fit of giggles as Aragorn sat shaking his head and denying it all, consumed with his own laughter. Yes it was good to be home. 


It would be many years before Arwen Evenstar decided to follow the leadings of her heart, but when she and Aragorn met again, this time in the beautiful woods of Lothlórien, she put her hand in his and they pledged their love forever. Their trials were just beginning and their road would be a long one but when the day came that Elrond placed the hand of his daughter in the hand of his foster-son, now King of Gondor, a family was united, not broken, and it was a day of joy for all of Middle-earth.

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