Categories > Books > Lord of the Rings > Exiled

Exiled IV

by Elizabeth_Goode 0 reviews

What will happen when Elrond discovers Arwen and Estel's love? Will father and son be reconciled?

Category: Lord of the Rings - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Drama - Characters: Aragorn, Elrond, Gandalf, Legolas, Other - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2006-06-23 - Updated: 2006-06-23 - 3167 words

The wizard crouched beside Estel's still form and placed a hand on the young human's chest, speaking softly in a tongue neither Elven nor Human. With a shuddering gasp, Estel began to breathe again, although he did not wake.

Elrohir let out a long breath, having forgotten in his distress that he had been holding it. Arwen clutched Gandalf's hand, gazing up at him with a gratitude that was eternal. Elladan sighed, closing his eyes in relief and twining his fingers around his foster brother's as though lending him support.

"Thank you, Mithrandir. I feared that Hope would be lost." Elrohir spoke, his tone relieved.

"Do not thank me just yet, son of Elrond. Estel is still in terrible danger. It is good that Gwaihir alerted me to the situation, or Estel might be dead right now. The Lord of the Eagles was soaring overhead, keeping an eye on a party of orcs who had captured a young human. He thought that it was too close to Rivendell to mean any good, and so he fetched me from my visit to an old friend in the Shire. It seems that I have arrived just in the nick of time."

Gandalf lifted the young Ranger gently and carried him with an ease that belied his aged appearance to the back of the massive Eagle.

The bird squawked loudly, extending his wing to facilitate getting Estel onto his back, then turned his great head, nudging him softly, as a mother bird does her young.

Gandalf smiled. "Yes, Gwaihir. This Man is exactly who you think he is."

Turning to the twins and Arwen, Gandalf became serious again. "The Lord of Rivendell rides with the Prince of Mirkwood. They have killed all of the rest of the orcs, and are searching for you and for Estel. Find him and tell him to make haste to Imladris. Gwaihir and I will get Estel there and I will tend him until Elrond arrives." The wizard climbed onto the Eagle's back, wrapping his arms around Estel's waist to keep him from falling.

Elladan nodded. "We will do as you ask, Mithrandir. We will see you and Estel soon in Imladris!"

He had the strange sensation that he was flying. Of course, he knew it was ridiculous. Probably just some manifestation of the fever that gripped him. Estel was aware of someone behind him. Someone strong, holding his body upright.

"Rest, Estel. You are safe. We will soon be home."

The voice sounded so familiar ...


The wizard gently brushed tangled hair from the young human's face, exposing a long, jagged cut that he had not noticed previously.

"Yes, it is Gandalf. Don't try to talk, young one. Your throat is injured and you are wounded and unwell."

"Where?" Every word exhausted him, but he had to know where he was being taken.

"Rivendell. I am taking you home. You are flying on the back of Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles. He was quite happy to be of help to you, my young Dunadan. He is a predator, you see. He can smell Numenor in your blood."

Gandalf expected any reaction other than the one he got. Instead of relaxing, of being glad that he was being taken home, the overwrought young Ranger began to sob. These were not the cries of frustration or of pain that one might hear from anyone under the kind of physical stress Estel was in. The sobs that shook the badly wounded young body seemed to break forth from his very soul. Between gasping sobs, Gandalf could make out only a few words.

"Can't .... Rivendell .... Exiled .... Ada won't - won't ... Ahhh!" His frenzied attempt to speak while his body seized with powerful sobs caused his already battered ribcage to explode with pain. Gandalf had to hold him to keep him from falling.

The most important order of business was to calm the young human before he hurt himself further. The wizard spoke comforting words in Elvish, gently easing Estel's head back to rest on his shoulder. After the sobs had quieted, Gandalf asked quietly, "Now, that's better. I am sorry that something I said upset you, but unless you tell me, I cannot guarantee that I will not make the same mistake again."

Turning his head slightly to bury his face in the gray robes, Estel began again to descend into the grips of delirium. "Hurts, Gandalf. Please, make it stop!"

The only thing the wizard could do was again put the young Ranger to sleep. Although he was curious to find out why the mention of Rivendell caused Estel such anguish, it was too cruel to allow him to remain awake when pain and illness had such a grip on him. Gandalf felt Estel go limp again, and could not help but frown with worry.

Upon their arrival at Rivendell, Gandalf again carried Estel, wrapping his cloak around the shivering form. At the door of the House of Elrond, a guard stopped him.

"Mithrandir! It has been some time since your last visit here, and Lord Elrond will be glad to see you, I am sure. However, you cannot bring him here." The elf gestured to Estel, who was now lost in delirium.

Gandalf drew himself up to his full height and narrowed his eyes at the elf. "And why not? Is he not Estel, the Hope of Men? The child Elrond chose to raise as one of his own?"

The elf eyed the angry wizard nervously. "Yes, Mithrandir, he is Estel. The problem is that Lord Elrond has proclaimed him an exile. His presumption in accepting the heart of the Evenstar has angered Lord Elrond. Estel can no longer enter Rivendell or Lorien."

Tapping his staff on the ground in agitation and looking more and more angry with every passing second, Gandalf took a step forward. "That is folly, and I will tell Elrond so myself. Surely you know that I am not merely an old man. One way or another, Guard of Rivendell, I assure you that I will pass through these doors with Estel. He needs immediate care or he will die."

The elf spoke hesitantly, "Lord Elrond is away. He has gone to fight a band of orcs nearby ... "

Impatiently, Gandalf interrupted him. "Estel stood guard over the border of Rivendell and killed nearly thirty-five orcs all on his own. You owe your current safety to him. Let us pass, Guard of Rivendell, or you will be forced to do so."

With a sigh, the guard stepped aside. "Take him inside, Mithrandir. I cannot bear to see him so. Estel has always treated me with the utmost respect."

Gandalf passed through the door, Estel in his arms. "There will be no hard feelings, my friend. You were only obeying the orders of Elrond. Which are usually quite sound. It is no fault of yours that he chose this time to change that."

Leaving the guard behind, Gandalf made haste to Estel's chambers, where he lay the young Ranger down on his bed and began the unsavory task of beginning to tend to his wounds.

The ruthless cruelty of the orcs was laid out before him in all of its ghastly glory. Estel's back was marked from shoulder to waist with cuts from the whip the orcs had used on him. The unbroken skin was a rainbow of bruises from various hits, kicks, and beatings. His chest was one solid bruise of varying shades of black, purple, blue, green, and yellow, punctuated by the occasional cut from a dagger or sword. Blackened bruises around his neck in the shape of massive orc hands showed where he had been strangled, no doubt causing the difficulty in speaking Estel had shown. The cut that ran from hairline to jawbone needed to be stitched, and Gandalf hoped that the blade had not been poisoned. Worse than all of the other injuries was the unnatural angle of Estel's arm. Setting that bone would be an ordeal in and of itself. On top of it all, Estel literally burned with fever, his young body shivering convulsively.

"Oh, my poor boy. You never do anything halfway, do you?"

Legolas rode swiftly back to Rivendell in the company of Elladan, Elrohir, Arwen, and Elrond, along with all of the warriors that had gone with them to hunt the orcs. Since the twins and Arwen had found them and informed them of Gandalf's arrival and subsequent spiriting Estel off to Rivendell, no one had spoken. It was just as well, for tempers were still too high for words to be a useful tool.

When they finally arrived at Imladris, all of them hurried to Estel's room, hoping to find that Gandalf had cured him, that he was on the mend already. They were sadly mistaken. The wizard sat at Estel's bedside, speaking Elvish words of comfort to the delirious young human.

"Ada, Ada! Please, help me! The fire - the shadow and the flame - they are too close, Ada! The shadow freezes and the - the flame burns me!"

Elrond felt his heart contract painfully in his chest at the desperation in his foster son's voice. What had he done?

"Arwen, I am sorry, beloved. I did not understand. Do not wait f-for me in this place of death! Go, Arwen, go to the Havens and be with your mother. She will have missed you. How could she not?"

Elrond removed his riding cloak and sat down beside the wizard. "How long has he been like this?"

"Like what, Elrond? In despair? He has been that way since you exiled him from his home and the only family he has ever known! Fevered? I know not. Legolas, was he feverish when you found him?"

The prince of Mirkwood nodded solemnly. "When I freed him from the orc camp, he was muttering in his sleep, crying out for his Ada, his brothers, and his beloved. He became more lucid the next day, but when he decided to fight the orcs, he was still burning up. I fear it was the wound on his face. I fear it was poison." Legolas took the cool cloth from Gandalf's hand and gently wiped his friend's forehead. "Oh, Estel. I should not have left you, my friend. I am sorry."

"Sorry ... " Estel echoed faintly.

Elrond took over. "All of you leave us. Mithrandir, if you would, stay and help me tend to him. The rest of you will be alerted if there is any change at all."

Legolas frowned, hesitant to leave. "You are no longer angry with him?"

"I am angry only with myself, Legolas. I will save him, but I need space to do so. Go and get some much-needed rest. Mithrandir is here, so even if you do not trust me, you may trust in him."

It was only when Elladan tugged gently at his sleeve that Legolas reluctantly agreed to leave Estel's side. Before leaving the room, Arwen leaned down to plant a soft kiss on Estel's bruised cheek. "Rest, beloved. Rest, and when you wake, I will be here."

At Arwen's touch, Estel ceased his fevered mumblings, settling back into the pillows.

With everyone out of the way, Elrond finished the work that Gandalf had started. When he saw the damage inflicted upon Estel's back, he gasped aloud. Tears welled in the Lord of Rivendell's eyes as he daubed a healing salve on each cut.

A poultice of the correct combination of herbs was placed on Estel's forehead to reduce his fever, and Elrond began preparing athelas to deal with the poisoned wound that was gouged into Estel's previously unmarred face. If Elrond had anything to say about it, the wounds would not scar. He did not want Estel to be left with physical reminders of his father's foolishness.

"Oh, my son, I am sorry. I did this to you, as surely as if I had dealt each blow myself!"

To his surprise, Estel opened his eyes, squinting slightly to see. "Ada?"

Elrond was so happy to hear Estel's voice that he could not hide the grin that lit his face.

Estel's eyes were still fever-glazed, with a hint of confusion, but it was his voice and his words that broke the elf-lord's heart. "I died, didn't I?"

"Why would you say that, my son?"

"You're not real."

"Estel, I am here! Ada is here, and he will make sure that you get well."

"No, you can't be real. I betrayed his trust, and he would not be speaking to me softly, as you are." He closed his eyes, whispering, "Though I am grateful the Valar gave this to me, illusion that it is."

With that, Estel again drifted into a fevered sleep, leaving Elrond sit at his bedside, stunned at the damage he had done to the young man's soul.

He was interrupted from his grief by Gandalf. "The athelas is ready, old friend. The faster it begins its work, the faster you can begin to heal the rift between Estel and yourself."

Elrond sighed, rising to begin his fight against the poison and the illness. "Thank you. I suppose you think me an old fool?"

"Am I wrong?"

"No, you are not. When I saw my Undomiel kneel beside him and call him beloved, something inside of me became irrational. All I could see was Celebrian's face when I finally go to her in the Undying Lands and tell her that her daughter is lost to us." He shook his head sadly. "I reacted badly. I reacted in a very human way. I suppose there is a reason that I am called Elrond Half-Elven. I seem to forget that my own dear brother was as mortal as my Estel."

Gandalf laid a hand on the Lord of Rivendell's shoulder. "Mistakes are not a purely human trait, my friend. I have made errors in judgment, and certainly many Elves have as well. That does not mean that we cannot mend what we have done."

Elrond looked thoughtful. "I believe that Celebrian might have made a mistake in leaving the way she did. Her sons bear enormous guilt, and her daughter feels abandoned. She did not even tell them goodbye! Right before my children left to search for Legolas and Estel, Arwen said as much to me."

"But you still wish to be with your wife again. Her mistake did not make you cease to love her?"

"Of course not! You are wise. After living for more than three thousand years, one would think that I would be wiser than I am."

Gandalf shook his head. "No one can be wise at all times with matters of the heart. The important thing is that you have realized your mistake and intend to set things right. After all, it doesn't really matter how much time one has. It is how you use that time that makes all the difference."

Elrond smiled faintly. "Those are good words of wisdom. Let us pray that Estel makes it through this so that his short time on Middle Earth is well spent. If he fulfills his destiny, I will give him my Undomiel with a smile in my heart."

"And if he does not?"

"Well, do not tell Estel this, for I intend to inspire him to the greatness he is capable of by dangling the Evenstar before him like a carrot before a horse, but even if he does not become the King of Men, I will not deny him or my daughter their heart's desire."

It was three days before the fever broke. Three days that Elrond kept a vigil at Estel's bedside, while Arwen, Legolas, the twins, and Gandalf rotated in and out of the room as well. The wounds on Estel's back had begun to heal under Elrond's constant care, and it seemed that very few scars, if any at all, would remain. The poisoned head wound began to improve after only a day of exposure to athelas, and the many bruises began to fade. His broken arm had been expertly set, and was now bound firmly in a sling to prevent further injury.

Legolas sat in a chair beside his friend, reading aloud to him from a book of Numenorean history, recounting to him tales of the heroism of Men. The elf found that reading was a good way to speak to someone who was unlikely to answer. If Estel should awake, he would hear a friendly voice, but not feel obligated to strain himself to speak. After his major wounds were tended and his fever at least under some control, Elrond had examined Estel's bruised throat and found that his windpipe had swelled badly from the trauma. A draught of herbs and a cool poultice brought the swelling down and began to heal the injury, but speaking too much before it was healed would aggravate the problem.

The elf was so engrossed in his reading that it took him a moment to realize that Estel had squeezed his hand. Putting the book down, Legolas stared into a pair of clear, lucid gray eyes.


"Legolas." The young Ranger's voice was still hoarse.

"Don't try to speak just yet, Estel. Your throat was injured."

Reaching up to hold a hand over his throat, Estel nodded in surprise when he felt the poultice there.

Estel turned his head to the side and his eyes widened at the sight of Elrond asleep with his head resting on the bed.

"Yes, you are home, and your father has come to his senses. Lord Elrond has lifted your exile. In fact, he has not left your side since you have been here. He is most grieved by his behavior."

With his good hand, Estel reached out to touch the elf-lord's hand softly.

Elrond opened his eyes blearily and sat up. When he saw Estel watching him, his jaw dropped. Tears of joy welled in his eyes and trickled down his cheeks. "Estel! My son, you are awake!"

"Ada ... "

"Shh, my son. You have been very ill. You very nearly did not make it."

"Sorry ... "

Elrond placed a finger gently against Estel's lips. "There will be time for talking later. Do not apologize, Estel. It is I who have done wrong."

To Elrond's surprise, Estel's eyes began to swim with tears.

Legolas frowned in concern. "Estel! Why do you weep, my friend? Is the pain too much to bear?"

Estel shook his head and struggled to a sitting position and leaned his head against his foster father's chest. "Ada ... "

Placing his arms carefully to avoid aggravating his wounds, Elrond embraced Estel and gently rocked him back and forth. Legolas crept silently from the room to tell the others the good news, that Estel had awakened and that father and son had at last been reunited. As he closed the door to give them privacy, the Prince of Mirkwood felt as though a leaden weight had been removed from his heart.
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