Note: I have used many lines directly out of Appendix A, but had to bend some, as I was not content with them. I humbly ask for forgiveness.
Thus Narsil came in due time to the hand of Valandil, Isildur's heir, in Imladris; but the blade was broken and its light was extinguished, and it was not forged anew. And Master Elrond foretold that this would not be done until the Ruling Ring should be found again and Sauron should return; but the hope of Elves and Men was that these things might never come to pass.
From the Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien
Chapter 18 Revelations
Three pair of footsteps on their way up to the library, three tall young Lords, dark-haired, handsome and all of them able to claim their lineage to Eärendil, though two of them less far removed than the third.
And, deep in his heart, he loved them all as sons, Elrond mused, as he watched them ascend the stairs. He had been informed of their arrival a little while ago, and they did not seem too hurried to come into his presence.
'And what brings such loudness into Imladris, pray tell?' He called to them with a broad smile, only increasing their volume when they called their greetings up to him, quickening their pace.
'We were only travelling by, and we thought we would visit the Wise One who inhabits the Valley.' Elladan called, the first one to reach the top of the stairs where Elrond waited, embracing his father.
'And while doing so, ask him for some much-needed hospitality.' Elrohir chimed in.
'A bath and a meal, and we shall be gone.' Estel added.
'I should have known,' Elrond grinned as he welcomed the other two in the same manner as the first. 'Are you certain it is not just to set my mind at ease?'
Three voices rose almost as one.
'Not really…' Elladan replied, nimbly evading a playful sweep of the hand his father directed at him.
'Why would one say such a thing?' Elrohir queried innocently.
'There is no need, is there?' Estel joined.
Elrond shook his head, smiling, and motioned them inside.
'It is good to see the three of you… And a meal you shall have.' He nodded, calling for lunch to be made ready.
They had been gone for almost a year, no, Elrond corrected himself, it had been nearer to two years… Had it really been so long? He watched the young ones eat and speak at almost the same time. As his gaze rested on Estel, he established it had to be so. The last time he had seen the son of Arathorn, he had been a boy, ostensibly only comprised of elbows and knees, while now, a young man sat at his table, not easily discernable from either of his sons, while they were both many years his senior.
As he listened to their stories, which were told as if one person had been given three bodies to speak through, he could do nothing but smile at their enthusiasm.
'But where shall you go when you leave Imladris?' He asked them, and Elrohir narrowed his brow.
'Is it true the Úlairi have returned to Dol Guldur?'
Elrond nodded pensively. 'And that which took the Last Alliance over seven years to throw down is being rebuilt as we speak.'
'Then I assume you had rather we stay near, for errantry and such?'
'You know I would rather have my sons with me, than trailing unknown paths in distant lands.'
Elladan sat back and folded his hands.
'We shall stay a while, if it pleases you.'
Elrond pursed his lips and sent a warning frown to his son.
'I suspect you would stay, even if it did not.'
'True.' Elrohir nodded, getting on his feet. 'And before you grow tired of us and throw us out, I am taking a long bath.'
'You said you were going to help me sort the maps we have collected…' Elladan called, his brother already halfway down the hall.
Elrond raised an eyebrow as he watched a second son leave and looked at Estel.
'I assume you wish to see your mother?'
Estel smiled and nodded.
'Glorfindel told me she would be waiting for me, after I had seen you.'
Elrond rose and made an acquiescing movement with his arm.
'I do not wish to keep you. But there is something of which we need to speak…'
Grey eyes met his, friendly, strangely familiar. It made the Lord of Imladris almost lose the sentence he was about to utter, but he was able to regain it just in time. 'It concerns an important matter.'
As they walked down, Elrond led him into a corridor Estel had never been before. The young man did not ask about it, he had learned early that patience, especially in Imladris, was a great virtue.
'You know of the line of Isildur?' Elrond asked, and Estel was surprised, since it had been Elrond himself who had taught him of that history.
'I know he shares a common ancestor with you and your House, since he descends from your brother Elros. I also know his line is dwindling, and that there is only one heir left, but none know where he is.'
'If I revealed to you, that the heir was raised in this house, would that surprise you?' Elrond scanned the boy's face for anything, but if he saw through it all, he was hiding it well.
'It would not, since the heirs of Isildur have been living at Imladris for many generations.'
He nodded in compliance.
'You have long known you are not my son, and perhaps you have long suspected Estel is not your true fathername…'
An enquiring look was cast into Elrond's direction.
'It was you who bestowed that name upon me, my Lord. That makes it a fathername of sorts.'
'But you are Aragorn, son of Arathorn, son of Arador, and of Gilraen Dírhael's daughter and through both lines can you claim your heritage to Isildur, he who cut the One Ring from Gorthaur's hand and claimed it. You are Isildur's heir.'
The young man's face was expressionless, and Elrond had to motion him into the next hallway, where he opened a door that had been closed for almost eighteen years.
In the shimmering light lay the heirlooms that rightfully belonged to the son of Arathorn, though, at the moment, it did not seem very likely the boy would take any of them, so perplexed he looked.
Elrond took up the small ring that lay upon the silken covering of the table.
'This is sometimes also called the band of Felagund, for with this Elven-ring Finrod pledged his aid to Barahir and his kin.' Elrond handed it to Aragorn. 'Here is the ring of Barahir, the token of our kinship from afar.'
As the son of the fifteenth Chieftain of the Dúnedain took the property of his family, Elrond went on to the next item. 'These are the shards of Narsil.' He paused, recalling the place where the sword broke, and it's light extinguished, though he was too stricken by grief to notice it actually come to pass. He was still very much in that place as he continued. 'With these you may yet do great deeds; for I foretell that the span of your life shall be greater than the measure of Men, unless evil befalls you or you fail at the test.' Again his mind took him by surprise, taking him back to when Isildur failed a similar ordeal; when he himself failed, unable to persuade Isildur towards destroying the Ring, which was now lost. Yet even then, when he had been informed of the news of its loss, something had told him it would be found, he had felt it would be, so long ago already. 'But the test will be hard and long.' He added. Was it not pride that led Isildur to keep the Ring, against their better council? He looked at the next piece, so familiar. 'The Sceptre of Annúminas I withhold, for you will have yet to earn it.'
Aragorn looked at it with large eyes, knowing most of the history behind all these objects, thought perhaps not yet realising their importance to him. Elrond smiled, beckoning Aragorn to come towards the last heirloom resting on the plateau.
'I saw Elendil wear this diamond, when he came to Imladris with Ereinion Gil-galad… It is said to represent the Star of Eärendil, which guided the ships of him and his sons, when they sailed to Númenor.'
'So it represents a Silmaril?' Aragorn asked, carefully taking it up.
'I imagine it does.'
Aragorn looked up at him.
'Narsil… And yet, it seems pointless to keep the shards of a sword… Should it not be reforged?'
Elrond slowly shook his head.
'It is foretold that this shall not transpire until the Dark Lord rises again, when the One Ring is found. Let us hope this shall not come to pass.' Both were silent until Elrond smiled and motioned Aragorn outside.
'Now go and see your mother, she has missed you greatly, and I should not take up anymore of your time.'
Elrond watched Estel, now Aragorn, exit the hallway with large strides, and only then recalled the words he had just spoken, strangely lingering.Let us hope it shall not come to pass…
Then what are you still here for? He asked himself. Why are you biding your time, waiting for something you do not wish to happen? And what if it never will? Would you stay forever? Shaking his head he retraced his way to the library.
How many times had he been this close to leaving, to go to the Grey Havens and simply sail? Once a month? Or every single day?
As he ascended the stairway, someone called to him, much as he had called to his sons before.
'Ada! Where were you?'
That voice… With a broad smile, he caught her as she ran towards him. She flung her arms around his neck, and though the embrace much resembled the ones he had given only a little while ago, it was different in many ways.
'I missed you, so much, Arwen.' He whispered, closing his eyes and holding her tightly.
'And I you, ada. Grandfather is not nearly as much fun when angry as you are.'
Elrond withdrew a little and smiled down at his youngest child.
'Who has unanimously decided to make this a day to tease your father?'
'Perhaps it is because you are such a grateful subject to it. I hear my brothers have arrived as well, Glorfindel told me. I assumed you would be here, but found you gone, where did you go?'
Elrond released her and shook his head as she caught his arm.
'Simply some matter I needed to take care of. But tell me, you have not travelled here alone?'
Arwen looked at him and smiled, raising an eyebrow.
'Do you truly believe grandfather would let me? He came with me personally, and bid me tell you he would come and see you after helping Elladan. I believe it had something to do with maps.'
'Yes…' Elrond mused, resting his hand on that of his daughter. 'Tell me, how did you leave Lórien?'
'I left it as beautiful as ever, though grandmother worries over the reappearance of the shadow…'
'We shall have time enough to speak of that… Now tell me how you are…'
With a peaceful feeling warming him, he listened to his daughter, suddenly so much wiser and mature, even more beautiful and fair, and he was pleased.
'There is something that worries you.' Glorfindel said, as he sat down across the table. Elrond narrowed his brow.
Glorfindel nodded thoughtfully.
'Without a doubt there is.'
Elrond shook his head, pensively touching his lip.
'Seeing many things, reading many hearts has never seemed a blessing to me, mellon-iaur*.'
'I thought it might be Celebrían…'
Elrond smiled and leant forward.
'Celebrían is well, and though with each passing day I look forward to joining her more, she is not whom I worry about, if indeed there is something that does.'
'Is this about Aragorn?'
Elrond observed the other Elf, careful not to let his face betray any emotion.
'What makes you ask?'
Shaking his head, Glorfindel looked at Elrond.
'He can pretend it cannot be perceived as much as he likes, and so can you. But neither of you fool me.'
Elrond smiled weakly.
'What is there to say?'
So much, Elrond reflected, and yet so little. He had noticed Aragorn, turning more and more silent, not long after Arwen told him of their meeting, in the most casual of ways. It had been her approach to telling her father not to worry, he suspected. It had accomplished the complete opposite of course.
'Shall I send for him?' Glorfindel asked, already rising. Elrond looked at him in surprise.
'You have a great deal of trust in my ability to speak now, without hostility.'
'Of all people, I trust you to be able to understand his position. Owing to your ancestry, and to the fact you know what it is to wait for love, all the while being aware of one's responsibilities.'
Elrond studied Glorfindel's expression, before a weak smile began to play around his lips.
'It is a most un-Elvish custom to give advice, my friend. And yet you always seem to be the one to do so…'
'I'll go call Aragorn.'
Elrond was uncertain as to how to address the son of Arathorn concerning this matter, for fear speaking something he did not wish to, hesitant of breaking something he held dear. Taking a deep breath, he met the other's eyes.
'Aragorn, there is a great doom that awaits you, and either you shall rise above the height of all your fathers since the days of Elendil, or fall into darkness with all that is left of your kin.' Waiting a little to see how the words sank in, Elrond made sure of a gentle and gracious tone before he continued, for he knew the words themselves to be harsh. 'Many years of trial lie before you. You shall neither have wife, not bind any woman to you in troth, until your time comes and you are found worthy of it.'
The last sentence made the grey eyes grow large, his cheeks red.
'Can it be that my mother has spoken of this?'
Elrond shook his head, realising he had indeed perceived it rightly.
'No indeed, your own eyes have betrayed you.' He watched Aragorn avert his gaze, and he spoke softly upon continuing. 'But I do not speak of my daughter alone. You shall be betrothed to no man's child as yet. But as for Arwen the Fair, Lady of Imladris and of Lórien, Evenstar of her people, she is of lineage far greater than yours, and she has lived in the world already so long that to her you are but as a yearling shoot beside a young birch of many summers. She is too far above you. And so, I think, it may well seem to her. But even if it were not so, and her heart turned towards you, I should still be grieved because of the doom that is laid on us.'
With those words, actually speaking them out loud, Elrond drifted off. The last with whom he had discussed the subject had been Celebrían; first when expecting the twins, and many times, after their birth, while watching them sleep. But Arwen… Daughters are different… Was it Celeborn that had said so to him? All had been said long before she was born. To be truthful, neither he nor Celebrían had wished to go into a detailed discussion over what would happen if one of their children would fall in love with a mortal.
But from what he had understood from Arwen, she had not given away her heart. As yet, this appeared a one-sided issue. Aragorn's voice forced him back from thought.
'What is that doom?'
Elrond sighed to himself, as he sat down.
'That so long as I abide here, she shall live with the youth of the Eldar, and when I depart, she shall go with me, if she so chooses.'
Aragorn bowed his head, chin resting on his chest.
'I see, that I have turned my eyes to a treasure no less dear than the treasure of Thingol that Beren once desired. Such is my fate.' For a moment, Elrond wondered how true the words rang, and why they stung him so. But at the same time he truly regretted the young man's situation, felt remorse for bringing up the subject. Glorfindel had been right; he understood the feeling well, too well… He wanted to speak, but Aragorn lifted his head.
'It seems to me, Master Elrond, that the years of your abiding run short at last, and the choice must soon be laid on your children, to part either with you, or with Middle-earth.'
Another perceptive statement, one of many Elrond had not considered in such a way. Ever since Celebrían left, he had looked forward to the moment when he would depart from Middle-earth and exchange it for Aman, the Blessed Realm, together with his children. In his eyes, it would be a joyful occasion, since a family would be reunited…
The way his foster-son now spoke of it, relayed the sadness he had been unwilling to consider himself. He would be leaving the shores where he had been born, where he had lived so many years. He would depart from the home where he had loved, where his children had been born, where they had been raised in such happiness. And he would be leaving people behind, some dear to him, dear to his children… Suddenly, as if he had needed to be told, it became very pressing.
'This is true… Yet it shall take many years of Men, though to us it will seem only a little while. But there will be no choice before Arwen, my beloved, unless you Aragorn Arathorn's son, come between us and bring one of us, you or me, to a bitter parting beyond the end of the world. You do not know yet what you desire of me.' Indeed you have no idea…
Grey eyes met grey once more, and Elrond was aware he was raising his defences against someone he loved as dearly as his own sons. He clearly discerned the apprehension in Aragorn's eyes, but could not bring himself to reassure his foster-son.
The Lord of Imladris had not intended, had not wished to turn to anger, and even though the emotion had not leaked audibly into his words, his own discovery of the mood was worse enough. Finally he sighed.
'The years will bring what they will. We speak no more of this until many have passed. The days darken, and much evil is to come.'
Elrond rose, and looked at Aragorn, who looked slightly uncertain.
'But this will always be your home… Never worry about that.'
Aragorn seemed a little less anxious when he returned Elrond's look.
'I shall take my leave of you fondly, Master Elrond. And I shall endeavour to become worthy of your daughter's heart, and of your pride.'
Elrond nodded and smiled, as much a smile as he could muster.
'Deri-band, Estel ned I-Edain.*'
Then he turned and made his way to the window, not because he wished to appear detached, but simply to hide the emotion that had so suddenly surfaced. He listened to nearly Elvish footsteps leave, and before long, he discerned the silence of another entering.
'I would presume it went well…'
Elrond, standing by the window, his back still turned towards the rest of the room, watched Aragorn sprint through the garden below.
'I am not sure if you would be correct. Though at least I have not driven him away as much as I feared I would.'
Glorfindel smiled and placed a reassuring hand on Elrond shoulder.
'I think you did well.'
'Did I?' Elrond pensively returned, still staring down, though no one could be seen there now.
mellon-iaur: (Sindarin) old friend
Deri-band, Estel ned I-Edain: (Sindarin) Stay safe, Hope of the Dúnedain
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.