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Hope in the Healing (PG-13) Print

Written by Susana

14 February 2011 | 36497 words | Work in Progress

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Title: Hope in the Healing, Part V
Author: Susana
Series: Desperate Hours; Young Estel story
Feedback: rosasusana7@…
Rating: PG-13, to be safe.
Warning: AU.
Beta: Thanks to Holly and Kaylee for their kind assistance, and thanks to everyone who has reviewed earlier parts. Remaining mistakes are mine.
Disclaimer: All recognizable elements are Tolkien’s.
Summary: In this chapter, the twins and Estel become reacquainted.

Part V

Strategy is a system of expedients; it is more than a mere scholarly discipline. It is the translation of knowledge to practical life, the improvement of the original leading thought in accordance with continually changing situations.
~ Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities.
~ Eric Hoffer

This was the first morning in many months that the twin sons of Lord Elrond were home at Imladris to take breakfast in the great hall. Siana had a special breakfast prepared in their honor, and many of the elves of the city came to greet their young Lords. Elrohir and Elladan had many friends in Imladris. Not only because they were the heirs of Imladris, but because they were kind, and fun-loving, and always ready with a joke or a plan. Life was just more interesting with the twins about.

Gilraen had greeted the twins, who were friends she had known since she was a small child, and later close companions to she and her husband. But she was distracted with supervising her son’s breakfast. Estel had not slept well, ending up spending part of the night in his mother’s bed for the first time in months. Her little Aragorn, now Estel, seemed to have finally realized that his father Arathorn was never coming home, if the twins were back, and his Ada was not. It was a hard lesson, and Gilraen found it difficult to blame her son for being less than his normally cheerful self this morn. Which didn’t make the morning less difficult, but at least her little son wasn’t in a sour mood without clear cause, as was sometimes the case with any toddler.

Estel frowned at the spicy sauce covering the eggs, and the onions and tomatoes and herbs mixed into the bread rolls. He didn’t particularly like spicy foods, although everyone from Ada El to his Nana and Samnolas the sculptor assured him he might when he was older. Even Siana the cook said his taste had yet to fully mature, but she said that with a smile, and she always made Estel a special egg, with no spices, just for him. But this morning, she’d forgotten.

“Here, ion-nin.” His mother offered, “Have some bacon, and some sausage and apples. You like those.” Estel accepted the bacon, and chewed on it with a sigh. He wanted eggs, but not these spicy eggs. He wanted bread, but not this bread. Estel’s head ached, and he felt upset. He wanted to go back to yesterday, when he had still thought that Ada Ada might be coming back, someday. He knew it wasn’t Elrohir or Elladan’s fault, but he was upset with them anyway. Upset that they were here, and Ada Ada wasn’t. Upset that Siana had made them their favorite foods, and forgotten his. Just upset.

Melpomaen smiled consolingly at Estel. “How about some fresh fruit, tithen-pen?” He offered, giving Estel some of the fruits grown in the famous hot-houses set on Imladris’ gardens.

Elladan observed Estel for a few moments, before commenting. “He should drink water.”

Preparing himself for one of those moments when he would both want to strangle his younger (by nine minutes) gwador, and simultaneously thank him, Melpomaen asked, “Oh?”

“He’s dehydrated, probably from too much crying last night. He has a headache from that.” Elladan explained, not noticing as almost every member of his family turned to glare at him for being insensitive, although Elrond looked more annoyed with himself, for not having realized that was what was making Estel feel poorly this morning.

Estel, who was not deaf, also glared at Elladan. He wasn’t sure what it meant to be dehydrated, but he most certainly wasn’t, whatever it meant. And he wasn’t going to drink water, or do anything, just because Elladan said he should.

Elrohir, who had had over three thousand years to become accustomed to his twin, didn’t even sigh. “Estel, I can drink my water in less than a minute. All of it.” Elrohir proceeded to prove that he could, indeed, do so, before asking, “Can you drink yours faster?”

Estel, distracted, thought he probably could, and rose to the challenge. Gilraen winced, but decided she could tolerate gulping water at the breakfast table, this once.

“Well done.” Elrohir complimented, before offering, “I know a way to make the eggs taste less spicy.”

Estel leaned over in interest as Elrohir sliced the top layer of sauce and egg away, and then applied a liberal amount of sweetcream butter and mild cheese.

“Here,” Elrond’s heir offered, “try it now. But have more water or juice ready, in case you still don’t like it.”

Gilraen, who normally tried to restrict Estel’s consumption of butter to a reasonable amount, winced again. But Estel was eating, and seemed to be feeling better already.

Elladan reassured her absently, “Its good for his growing mind, Gilraen. We’ve actually observed that…”

“Elladan.” Melpomaen interrupted sharply. When Elladan looked up at him, surprised, Melpomaen admonished silently, Gilraen is human, and may take offense to your talking about different human customs concerning the consumption of fat by young children, and how it affects their ability to learn quickly as adults. Perhaps you could save this lecture from some other day, and not at the table?

Elladan sighed, because he felt strongly that no one properly appreciated his efforts to understand how the world worked, but conceded the point. Instead he started mixing sweetened milk and cinnamon into coffee, which he then handed to Elrohir, who gently encouraged Estel to drink the concoction.

Gilraen raised an eyebrow, but Elladan explained before she could object, “Normally I wouldn’t give a child his age this much caffeine, but it should help with the headache. Coffee is at least as good as willowbark tea for curing headaches, and the taste is less objectionable.”

Elrond watched his sons interact smoothly, the one identifying himself as the “bad elf,” the other as a the “good elf,” and between them managing to convince Estel to eat a full breakfast, and sighed. He remembered, long ago, his twin sons using a similar routine, complete with drowning unacceptable foods in butter and cheese, to convince a young cousin Legolas to eat, after the death of his mother and siblings. Normally, it was Elrohir who was the more fierce of the twins, but with small children and animals, his heir had a softer way about him, and it was Elladan who played the “bad elf.”

Even with eating a full breakfast, Estel was done before anyone else. Melpomaen left his breakfast and took the little boy to play with his toys in the long gallery, so that Gilraen had a chance to eat and enjoy her tea. The twins excused themselves not long after, to follow their gwador and their young foster-brother.

Mel had finished helping Estel set up his toy soldiers, obediently following the little boy’s directions, amused by how definite the child was as to how the little wooden and metal men and women should be arrayed. Estel’s toy soldiers, the oldest of them, had first belonged to Amroth, son of the old King Amdir of Lothlorien. Amroth, when King of Lothlorien, had given his toy soldiers to his friend and adopted cousin Haldir’s younger brother Rúmil. The collection had expanded greatly when in Rúmil’s custody, as Haldir enjoyed whittling toys for his brother, and Orophin could be persuaded to paint them. Then, when Celebrian gave birth to the twins, her brothers sent the toy soldiers to Imladris, and they came into the custody of the twins, which most of them survived.

The collection actually grew to the size of an army while in the care of the twins, as Haldir was just as indulgent an uncle as he had been an older brother, and the elves of Imaldris could not be outdone by a Lothlorien soldier who was not an artisan by trade, even if he was their lady’s adopted brother. The twins received dozens of new soldiers each year from the elves of Imladris, until they were old enough that the new soldiers went onto a shelf for display, and then into boxes for storage. When the twins’ younger brother Belemir was several years old, the toy soldiers came out of storage, and little Belemir would spend hours setting them up and waging large-scale mock battles, often in the company of Glorfindel. Then Arwen came along, and she would play with Belemir, but Arwen demanded lady soldiers, and toy soldiers representing her brothers and friends. And the elves of Imladris obliged. After Arwen and Belemir were grown, the toy army was consigned to boxes for many years, until Elrohir sent them to Greenwood, for the young Legolas. When Legolas became a soldier himself, he sent the toy soldiers back to Imladris. Last Yule, Melpomaen had rescued Amroth’s Army, as the family called it, from its boxes again, for Estel to play with.

“Amroth’s army marches again.” Elrohir noted with approval.

“What a good idea, Melpomaen.” Elladan added.

Melpomaen and his gwedyr talked softly about the twins’ various mercantile and other endeavors, as well as the upcoming council meeting, while Estel played quietly with his soldiers. Melpomaen returned, silently, to his point that Estel was an exceptional child, and that something was going on. The twins listened, but appeared skeptical. Estel was more or less ignoring the twins, although he would ask Mel to help him reposition one platoon or another, from time to time. Melpomaen, quietly stubborn, showed the twins some of Estel’s schoolwork, from days when the little boy had actually been paying attention. When Estel wasn’t minded to be in lessons, he still appeared to learn, but his written work was, well, unremarkable.

Estel advanced a company of orc, as Melpomaen insisted, silently, Estel is different. Your father knows something he hasn’t told us.

He’s just a clever, attractive, little boy. Elladan argued.

Elrohir, in complete agreement with his twin, added, He’s a toward child, for his age, but Arathorn and Arantar were much the same.

He has a name, Mel retorted, annoyed.

Elladan sighed, and knelt to greet the child. “Hello, Estel. That’s an impressive battle you have going on – who are your knights fighting?” The younger twin inquired.

Elrohir’s face stiffened in incredulous surprise as he took a closer look at the way Estel had Amroth’s army arranged. “That’s…that’s the way that the Witch King’s forces were arrayed against us during our last foray prior to the siege of Imladris. In almost perfect miniature.” Elrohir leaned down to get a better look at the toy soldier Elrohir, leading a line of mounted elven toy soldiers. Ignoring Estel’s yip of protest, Elrohir picked up the figure of himself, and the one of the Witch King of Angmar, fixing their positions, as he recalled that the Witch King had not been in his direct line of sight. Not that it had mattered, as the being had later proved impervious to arrows.

Estel yelled something angry and incoherent, before snapping “Mine!!” at Elrohir, and snatching first the toy Elrohir, then the toy Witch-King, back.

Melpomaen had been waiting to see how this went, and now sighed and turned to his young friend, glad Estel’s self-control had improved enough over the past year that he had only yelled and snatched, rather than hitting Elrohir to express his displeasure. “You must share your toys, Estel, even though Elrohir did not ask, first.” Melpomaen instructed gently, but firmly, taking the toys from Estel’s grasp and handing them to the surprised Elrohir.

Estel yelled in angry protest. To the twins, it sounded like Estel said, “No. Isdertis.” The little boy’s cheeks were flushed, and there were tears in his eyes. Elrohir would have given the toys back, to avert the upset, except he remembered something faintly from Belemir and Arwen’s elfling days, about not encouraging this sort of behavior.

But Melpomaen seemed to understand Estel’s garbled complaints, as he lectured soothingly, “I know it is your soldier, not his. But even so, we do not yell incoherently and snatch toys away from our playmates, Estel. It is not nice.” Estel glared at Elrohir, his little fists balled at his sides as he sobbed. Mel sighed. “Do you need some time in your room to calm down, tithen-pen?” Mel asked gently, adding “Sometimes I do.” Mel meant that sincerely. He loved the twins, they were his best friends, like his brothers. But they could be really annoying. Sometimes Mel wished he could have a time-out. Or give the twins one.

“No, hesta not me! Mine!!” Estel babbled firmly, around tears.

Mel again seemed to understand what Estel had said, as he replied. “I know, Estel, he started it. Elrohir should learn to ask permission to play with someone else’s toys. He is still working on his manners as well.”

“Elrohir can be very abrupt.” Elladan confided to Estel. “He’ll give your toys back once he is done admiring them. In the meantime, what say we add a handful of battle-trained oliphaunts to the Witch-King’s line of battle?”

Estel, distracted, frowned thoughtfully. “The Witch-King didn’t have oliphaunts.” He sniffled.

“That’s one of the best ways to learn how a battle might have gone differently, by adding something new, or changing the mix of forces.” Elladan explained, as Elrohir rolled his eyes and muttered, “Oliphaunts, again, Elladan?”

Estel nodded perceptively as he calmed down, now more intrigued than upset. “But I don’t have any oliphaunt toys.” He said sadly.

Elladan snapped his fingers and ran off, explaining that he would be right back.

Estel, confused, looked to Elrohir and Mel. “I have no idea.” Melpomaen said.

“He’s gone off to find you an oliphaunt or two.” Elrohir explained, “There used to be several, in Amroth’s army, but they were Elladan’s favorites, and he kept them on a shelf, when the rest went into storage. In the meantime, Estel, let me show you how the Witch-King was actually positioned, relative to me. I recall it quite clearly, because I did not have a clear shot at him, but Glorfindel did. ‘Twas how we learned he could not be killed with arrows, even Elladan’s special fire arrows.” Estel cocked his head in interest as Elrohir explained, earlier upset forgotten.

Elladan returned with two carved wooden oliphaunts, one soft stuffed oliphaunt, Lady Ambraxiel’s little dog Tangent, Estel’s puppy Huan, and Erestor’s black cat Gailchend.

Estel giggled merrily, and Elrohir and Melpomaen laughed as well, as Elladan and the twins played out how a poorly trained squad of oliphaunts (Huan, Tangent, and Gailchend) would have been more of a disaster for the Witch King than the brave defenders. After Elladan’s live conscripted “oliphaunts” had escaped, the twins and Estel played through more seriously how well-trained oliphaunts (the toys) might have assisted the Witch-King to breach the defenses of Imladris.

Estel was having a wonderful time. It was an unexpected bright point, in a day which had begun so poorly. “You’re good at playing soldiers.” He complemented Elrohir and Elladan. “I wish you could play with me all the time.”

The twins exchanged unreadable looks. “Why do you say that with such resignation?” Elladan asked.

Estel frowned, not understanding the question.

“So sadly, he means.” Mel interpreted softly.

“Oh.” Estel replied, “Well, I’m not going to get used to having you two around to play with. You’ll just go away again because I make you sad.”

Estel went back to playing, as he couldn’t read the twins the way Mel could. The twins were both saddened and boggled by the boy’s perceptiveness.

“It’s not you.” Elrohir offered. Estel frowned and turned away, putting the toy oliphaunt aside.

Elladan sighed again. Too perceptive by half. “Estel, its connected to you, but its not you, ok?”

The boy looked back at them, and nodded finally. When Gilraen came to collect him, he was back to mostly playing happily with the twins, though he was more reserved than he had been when Elladan first brought the oliphaunts and dogs and cat.

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The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: Brandie , Robbie , Robbie , Callum , Houston , Kellye , Rena , Luz , Lauri , Tamela , Venus , Treedweller

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1 Comment(s)

NB: Comments span all chapters and may contain spoilers!

I really enjoyed this fic. I stumbled across it completely by accident when looking for a translation for “mellon muin nin” (which incidentally I read in another of your fics) The first chapter was my favorite because Faramir was in it. I LOVE your characterization of Faramir. I have been reading all your stories that contain Faramir over and over since I first discovered them last week.

One thing I think that you could do to make them better is to translate any elvish you use at the end of your chapters or at least put a glossary of terms somewhere. I don’t know about your other readers but I am not all that familiar with elvish. I can recognize a very few words and even those confuse me when they are used outside of the context with which I am familiar. I really want to know what all those terms of endearment mean exactly. :) Other than that, I love your stories and I love that you update so often! I can’t wait to read the rest of your series. (especially the stories about Faramir)

— firstar28    3 September 2011, 04:39    #

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