Categories > Books > Lord of the Rings > Exiled

Exiled V

by Elizabeth_Goode 1 review

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 - 2854 words

Sunlight poured through the window of Estel's chamber, bringing out the seldom-seen lights in his dark hair. The sleeping Ranger was the very image of peace and restful sleep. It had been a week and a half since his return to Rivendell, and Legolas had joked with his friend that if professional sleeping were an occupation, then Estel had indeed found his calling.

Seated in a comfortable chair at his friend's bedside, Legolas patiently waited for Estel to wake. He would be getting up and going down to dinner for the first time since his homecoming, and the elf knew that he would need help washing up and dressing with his broken arm. Legolas knew Estel well enough to know that accepting help from his father or brothers would only embarrass him, and so he had decided to volunteer his assistance.


At the sound of Estel's voice, the Prince of Mirkwood sat up straight and met his friend's eyes. "Yes?"

"I thought that elves were quiet and stealthy."

"We are."

"Apparently not. Your constant shifting about in that chair woke me up."

Legolas smiled, glad that Estel was feeling well enough to joke. "No, my friend. You awakened because you have been asleep all night long and into the late morning. It is nearly time for supper. Do not blame the elf, human. This elf has your best interest in mind."

Estel sat up slowly, wincing slightly as he straightened his tender back. "If you truly have my best interest at heart, elf, help me up. I feel as though I've been trampled by oliphaunts."

Knowing that to ask for help, Estel must truly feel terrible, Legolas moved to offer his assistance. The fever had left the young human thin and weakened, and for the first time, Legolas truly understood what it meant to be ill. Being an elf, he had never had to experience the fevers and colds and various other ailments that Estel had to contend with. The frailty of mortals had been weighing heavily on the elf-prince's mind ever since he had found his friend in the orc camp.

"What is wrong?"

Legolas shook his head. "Nothing. Here, let me help you with that tunic..."

"My friend, you cannot fool me. Something troubles you, and I would know what it is so that I can help you."

The Prince of Mirkwood sighed, sitting down beside Estel. "There are things that even you cannot fix, even if you will be the King of Men."

Estel shook his head. "You know I have no wish to be a king, but that is beside the point. What troubles you?"

"I feared for your life, Estel. When I found you and saw your wounds, my heart grieved, but I knew that eventually the flesh would heal. It was the illness that frightened me. I have seen you ill before, but not delirious. The fever made you say things..." Legolas stopped, looking down at the floor.

"I said things that made no sense and spoke to people who were not present, and it frightened you to see me that way. Of course it would. The Firstborn are strangers to illness. I can assure you that I am all right, and that it is thanks to you." For a moment, Estel's eyes were haunted. "I can tell you that I have never in my life been happier to see anyone than I was when I realized that you had taken me out of that place."

The image of Estel's battered body tied to that wooden post would not be quick to leave the Prince of Mirkwood's mind, nor would the sound of his screams as the orcs beat him mercilessly. He suppressed a shiver. "One question, my friend. How in the name of all that is sacred in Middle-Earth did you manage to kill thirty-five orcs in the condition you were in? You could barely stand!"

The haunted expression left the human's eyes and he laughed out loud, a sound that Legolas had truly missed. "The obvious answer to that question is that I must be an amazingly fearsome warrior. One look at me, and they fell upon their own swords just to avoid the justice I would deal out to them." The twinkle in his eye was the only outward sign that he was having fun at Legolas' expense. The elf did not mind at all.

"Is that why the Rangers know you as Strider, then? Because you strut about with the knowledge of your superiority?"

"Hmmph. An elf speaking of a human's superiority? Has the sky fallen while I have been ill?"

Legolas stood, helping Estel to his feet. "Let me help you get that tunic on. If we don't come down to dinner, your father is likely to send the twins after us. Arwen found you a tunic that buttons up the front so you don't have to raise your arms to put it on."

As the soft fabric brushed against his back, Estel winced slightly. "I am glad that she did. I do not think that raising my arms is an option just yet." He caught sight of his reflection in the mirror that hung on the opposite wall and frowned. The young man who stared back at him was pale and thin. His scraggly beard had been trimmed and his hair washed, but he still looked haggard. The cut that ran from his hairline to his jaw line was healing nicely, but the stitches still stood out in sharp contrast to his pale face.

"She will not mind, you know. Arwen will be so glad to see you standing under your own power that she will not even take notice of your appearance."

Estel looked away from the mirror, feeling a slight blush creep across his face. "That is not what I was thinking about."

"And oliphaunts may fly, my friend. Come, dinner waits and I begin to feel the pangs of hunger."

Rolling his eyes, Estel followed Legolas from the room. "Elves! Among the Rangers, I become used to hearing, 'Food's ready? Well, dish it up, I'm starving!'. With you, even mundane matters become poetry."

The elf smiled, shaking his head. "'Tis one of the gifts of the Firstborn."

"Well, are you coming or not? I would truly hate to keep dinner waiting, lest the 'pangs of hunger' plague me as well!"

Dinner went well. Estel was seated in one of the most comfortable chairs that would fit at the table, and Arwen sat right beside him. All throughout the meal, she would catch his eye and offer a smile or a wink to show him how glad she was that he was able to join the family for a meal. Elladan and Elrohir bantered good-naturedly with each other and with anyone else who could be convinced to participate. Several times during the meal, Estel caught Elrond watching him, concerned every time the young human so much as leaned forward to reach for his wine goblet. A feeling of intense relief filled him as he realized that his foster father was truly concerned for him.

Gandalf entertained them all with tales of his many travels, and more than once he glanced at Estel out of the corner of his eye. The wizard had always had a definite soft spot on his heart for the young human, and after the rescue, it had only grown.

After the meal, Estel was wearier by far than he had thought he would be. Arwen slipped her arm through his good one softly. "Let me walk with you back to your chambers. You are not yet healed, and you must be exhausted."

He accepted her offer gratefully. "I am glad for the help and for the company." Estel hesitated before continuing. "Elladan told me that you rode with he and Elrohir to search for me and for Legolas. I remember it now, if I think about it. Everything was so hazy, but you - you shot Ugblood through the eye. Thank you."

Arwen smiled, leaning in to plant a gentle kiss on his cheek. "I could not bear to think of you in danger. Of course I rode out to find you, beloved one."

"Shh! Do not call me 'beloved'. That is what angered Ada before. I have no wish to upset him again." More quietly, he whispered, "I do not think that I could bear to be cast again from Rivendell."

She shook her head, confused. "Then you do not love me? I heard you cry out in your fever, you have called me 'beloved' before!"

Estel frowned, his eyes misting over with tears. "You will always be my beloved, Arwen Undomiel. I only meant that knowing that your father does not approve of my feelings for you, I would be a poor guest to blatantly defy him."

"Guest? Estel, this is your home. Ada regrets the things he said to you, and he loves you!"

"I am no elf, Arwen. The choice of Luthien should not be your burden as well. I cannot make a choice that ends with the extinguishing of the light of the Evenstar."

Her pale cheeks flushed with emotion, and she straightened her slender shoulders. "Estel, you have missed the point. No choice that you make could cause that to happen. There is a reason it is referred to as the choice of Luthien, not the choice of Beren. If you fulfill your destiny, you will have many things weighing on your mind. The very last thing you will need is the added burden of my mortality. That is why it would be by my choice, not by yours."

They reached the doorway of Estel's chambers, and stopped. He stared into her deep blue eyes, wanting nothing more than to lean in to kiss her. Her words soothed his troubled mind, and not for the first time, he stood in awe of her wisdom. "May I?"

She smiled. "May you do what?"

"I would like to kiss you."

Arwen leaned close to him, mindful of his wounded arm. "Then that is quite fortunate for the both of us, for I very much want you to."

Estel sat on the edge of his bed, his mind still reeling from the kiss he had shared with Arwen. He knew that his body was crying out for rest, but unfortunately, it was also crying out with physical pain. His back throbbed unrelentingly, his chest was still quite sore, and on top of it all, his head was starting to feel fuzzy.

Someone tapped lightly on his door, and he heard Elrond's voice. "Estel? May I come in?"

"Of course, Ada."

The door opened slowly, and Elrond came inside, shutting the door behind him. "I've brought you some salve to relieve your back, and a tea to help you sleep."

This had been a routine ever since Estel had been rescued, but he had been so ill that he barely remembered any words that had been exchanged. He did not protest as Elrond removed his tunic and inspected his healing back, pressing gently in several places. When Estel winced and bit back a gasp, he stopped. "Your back will take time to heal, but until then, this salve should take the edge away. Lie down, my son."

There was a very good reason that Elrond was known far and wide as an excellent healer, even among elves. Within minutes, the tense, knotted muscles and sore, healing flesh relaxed under his gentle hands. Estel's breathing became deep and regular as he listened to Elrond's voice.

"I remember when you were brought to me. You were small and really quite rambunctious, but you loved it when I would put you to bed and read to you. Sometimes, when you had a nightmare or were ill, I would sit beside you much like this." The elf-lord sighed. "To me, it seems as though all of that was yesterday."

Estel was so deeply relaxed that Elrond paused, checking to see if his foster son was asleep.

"I am awake." Estel's voice was soft, tinged with sleepiness.

"Good, because there is something very important I wish to tell you." Elrond frowned as he felt all of his work at getting the young man to relax undone. Estel's shoulders tensed, his back again beginning to knot and ache. "Estel, my son . you have been through a terrible ordeal, and it is because of me and my foolish anger that you have suffered. I ask you to forgive me. You were a dear, sweet child and you have become a strong, considerate, and brave man. Your human parents would be very proud of you, and I know that I could not have more pride in how you have grown up."

For a long moment, Estel did not speak, and Elrond began to fear that he had gone so far in his anger that his human son would not be able to forgive him. Finally, the elf-lord leaned over to see Estel's face, and realized that he had not spoken because he was fighting the tears that welled in his eyes. Without a moment's hesitation, Elrond pulled his foster son into a gentle embrace, whispering soothing words and stroking the messy dark hair. A fleeting image of Estel as a laughing child with the very same untamed hair he had now passed through Elrond's mind, and he smiled at the memory.

"I was afraid."

Elrond nodded reassuringly. "Of course you were. Everyone is afraid of orcs. They are large, cruel, and depraved. They were created with the express purpose of inspiring fear in beings of light like you and I. The important thing is that your fear was not your master. You fought them and killed them, even after they hurt you terribly. And, you fought to protect Rivendell in spite of our bitter parting. For that, I thank you, my son."

Hesitantly, Estel asked, "You are no longer angry that I am in love with your daughter? I would stop if I could, for her sake and for yours, but the Evenstar's light does not wane, even in my heart."

"On the day that you fulfill your destiny as Isildur's Heir and take the thrones of Gondor and Arnor, my Arwen Undomiel may become your wife with my blessing. She explained to me many nuances of the choice of Luthien, the foremost being that it was a choice made by Luthien herself, not by Beren or any other." The elf-lord rubbed his temples ruefully. "She made her point so eloquently that I almost regretted allowing her to go and live with her grandmother for so long. Galadriel's mastery of language was, I had thought, unmatched."

Estel wiped his eyes and chuckled softly at the mental image of Arwen 'educating' Elrond on the finer points of Elvish history.

"She loves you, Estel. I will not bring her sadness by denying her heart's desire. And I love you as well and do not wish you to despair."

The herbal tea began to take effect, and Estel yawned sleepily. "You are forgiven, Ada. I am so very glad to be home and - and glad that you - " He yawned again, and Elrond adjusted his covers to make him more comfortable. "I love you too, Ada."

"Rest, young one."

The young Ranger slept again, and for a long while Elrond sat beside him, considering for the first time what it would have meant had Estel been killed or taken before Sauron by the orcs. He shivered at the thought.

"You did not call him 'Estel' simply because you were fond of the name. The fate of Middle Earth could rest with him." Gandalf had been standing in the doorway for several moments.

Elrond turned to look at the wizard. "Then Middle Earth is in good hands. He is a gift, Mithrandir. It pains me that his life will not be an easy one. I fear for his safety."

Gandalf nodded sadly. "I will look out for him whenever I can, and I know that you and your sons and daughter will do so as well. Legolas Greenleaf seems quite intent upon keeping Estel safe as well. If I do say so myself, that is a fairly impressive army of bodyguards for the boy."

Elrond gave his sleeping foster son a gentle pat. "Knowing Estel as I do, it will take all of us to keep him alive until it is time for him to fulfill his destiny. The boy seems to believe that he is invincible. No sane elf would attempt some of the stunts he has pulled. I suppose that is where Legolas and the twins come in. They still look out for him, even though he is no longer a child."

For a long while, the Lord of Rivendell and the wizard watched the sleeping human, both of the same mind that Estel should rest and take his time to recover while he still could, for the time would come when that would not be the case.

*Sequel is called "By Some Evil Spell"
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