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Tales of the Telcontars (PG-13) Print

Written by Susana

19 September 2011 | 56124 words | Work in Progress

Title: Star of Hope
Author: Susana
Series: Desperate Hours (set during Desperation’s Gift)
Rating: PG-13
Warning: AU.
Disclaimer: All recognizable elements are Tolkien’s
Beta: None, please forgive the errors.
Summary: Aragorn telling Eldarion about Gil Estel, the Star of Hope, with assistance from his elder twin brothers and his Steward.
A/N: Set during Desperation’s Gift, after Faramir (and Éowyn) are aware that Faramir is Aragorn’s son, but before Aragorn (or anyone else in the royal family) has any idea.


“Beaui’ful.” Commented year and a half old Eldarion, pointing at Gil Estel, the star of hope. The crown prince smiled, delighted by the natural light show in the velvet dark sky above Minas Tirith. Eldarion’s gray eyes shone as brightly as the stars, and his dark, wavy hair was a dramatic contrast to the pale blue velvet that lined his warm woolen cloak. From the outside, the little Prince’s cloak was an exact replica in miniature of his father’s; a rich midnight blue, with the symbols of his house embroidered in white and silver.

Aragorn smiled tenderly at his small son, still in awe that this wonderful child was his own. “It is beautiful.” He agreed, “My edair thought so, too. Your Daerada Arathorn told me about that star when I was a little younger than you, and your Daerada Elrond called me by that star’s name, Estel, for many years.”

Eldarion snuggled happily against his adar. “Story?” He asked winsomely. Eldarion loved his night-time walks with his busy father. Everything smelled good inside the citadel, of green pine and delicious foods. But there were lots of people, and outside in the garden was lovely too, quiet and still. With the new snow on the ground, and the stars in the sky.

Aragorn laughed. “Yes, that star has a story. Would you like to hear it, ion-nin?”

“Story.” Demanded Eldarion. He was an only child and grandchild, as well as a Prince. Needing to ask for something more than once was an unusual occurrence, for the boy.

“What do you say, when you want something, my ‘Darion?” Aragorn prompted gently. He wasn’t going to get into trouble tonight for forgetting to ask that. Arwen had ears everywhere. Besides, their son was by nature kind and charming, but also demanding. Ingraining politeness in their little Prince struck the King as a sound strategy.

Eldarion frowned in thought. What did Ada want, he wondered.

“Edair and nenith are more likely to do as you ask when you say “Please,” Eldarion.” Faramir prompted gently, as he came into view on the garden path, the Lady Éowyn leaning more heavily than usual on his arm.

Aragorn smiled in welcome but shook his head at his two favorite patients, the Prince and Lady of Ithilien, also walking in the garden on this cold night. Still, Faramir was well recovered from the excessive demands he had put on his body defending Ithilien from an aborted invasion. Éowyn, too, had recovered from the difficult start to her first pregnancy. And Aragorn was sympathetic to his most important officer’s wanting to escape the demands of the Great Hall for a few hours. As Éowyn met her King’s eyes in mute appeal, Aragorn nodded. Yes, he would ignore that Éowyn’s healer, mentor, and good friend Elladan had not thought she needed to be about in the cold air. At least for awhile.

Eldarion, too, grinned to see Faramir and Éowyn. “How is baby?” He asked Éowyn. Eldarion found babies fascinating, and was excited that there would soon be another in the royal apartments.

Éowyn made a funny face. “Awake. I don’t think she sleeps.”

“Neither does her father, so she comes by that unfortunate trait honestly.” Aragorn teased, though he was half serious, and knew Faramir would pick up on the gentle chide. Whether the Prince of Ithilien would heed it, Aragorn quite frankly doubted. He was, in fact, planning to slip a sedative into Faramir’s wine tomorrow night, if his Steward and honorary younger brother didn’t appear more rested by tomorrow. Faramir’s exhaustion was understandable, Aragorn knew full well. Between his Steward’s normal duties, the continuing aftermath of the recent invasion of Ithilien (including arguing with his King about the necessity of Faramir’s personally touring his lands again before Yule, and the subsequent fast-paced tour upon Faramir’s having won that argument), and the social press of the Yuletide season for Gondor’s second ranking officer (after the King) and junior Prince (after his uncle, Prince Imrahil), the dark circles under Faramir’s eyes needed no further explanation.

Still, Aragorn also knew well that his Steward’s resilience was remarkable. Faramir was nowhere near the point where being overtired and overburdened would cause him to collapse, or withdraw into himself in grief. Not that Aragorn – or Éowyn or Arwen, for that matter – had any intention of ever letting Faramir, whom they all held so dear, reach such an extreme again. Faramir was, however, at the point where exhaustion and worry would cause him to make little mistakes, the kind few others would even note, but that would upset Aragorn’s perfectionist of a Steward.

Of greater concern to Aragorn was that Faramir had reached the point this past morning where he began making little mistakes in arms practice. Not at a level where Aragorn, or Elrohir, who had been Faramir’s sparring partner, could in good conscience ask the Steward to leave the field. But mistakes that Faramir would not normally make, these days. Errors that had caused Elrohir to leave the Steward with bruises, and scold him sharply. Aragorn wasn’t sure he would have noticed it, had it been anyone else. Elrohir, and Glorfindel and Magordan, for that matter, were of the opinion that leaving a bruise where an enemy could have left a wound taught a valuable lesson. Aragorn did not disagree, per se, but he himself was generally more careful with Faramir, given what he knew of his Steward’s difficult childhood. Elrohir would never have taught a small child with an unblunted blade, let alone left bruises on a child as he did his grown, seasoned pupils. And Faramir seemed to have realized that, as he was not upset by the bruises he received in practice bouts with Elrohir, or no more upset than the mistakes which had resulted in them would merit. But Aragorn did not like that Faramir’s tiredness was causing him pains, even small ones.

Unfortunately for Aragorn, Faramir didn’t think his being tired, if it didn’t detract from his official duties, was any of his King’s business. Aragorn had tried, in one manner and another, to “fix” that, but Faramir, when he wished, could be a very stubborn man. So Aragorn had to approach these matters obliquely. Hence, the teasing, before the sedatives, and the sedatives, before the rare orders. Faramir would obey an order, but Aragorn didn’t like to have to rely on his authority as King in his personal relationship with his young friend. Denethor’s ghost stood between Faramir and any male authority figure save Imrahil. It was at moments like this that Aragorn missed Boromir, keenly. Boromir would have relied heavily on Faramir’s willing help to be a good Steward, but he would have known what to say to Faramir, to get him to take better care of himself. Aragorn had to either appeal to Faramir’s common sense (which was nonexistent, in regard to Faramir’s own health, or at least so far as Aragorn had ever been able to tell); make Faramir feel guilty that he had worried Aragorn (which sometimes worked); trick Faramir into ingesting a sedative (which sometimes worked); or wait until Faramir became so exhausted that Aragorn could and should justifiably call him to account for it. Which neither of them liked. Another alternative, when Imrahil was in residence, was bringing the matter to his attention. But it irked Aragorn to have to do that, though he would, to avoid seeing Faramir worn even just as thin as this.

At this point, Faramir thought Aragorn was worried over nothing, and looked like he wanted to roll his eyes at the King, though he did not. Probably because Faramir was trying to set a good example of proper behavior for Eldarion, and that didn’t include, in Faramir’s world view, offering lese majeste to Aragorn in front of Eldarion. Aragorn was taking advantage of this, by seeing how far he could annoy Faramir before his friend would tease him back. It was an amusing game, in the King’s opinion, even if his inability to get Faramir to listen to him on these matters at times bothered him greatly.

Éowyn did shake her head tolerantly at Aragorn’s needling of her husband, before offering to Eldarion, “Our baby is saying hello now, by kicking. Would you like to feel?” The Lady of Ithilien had taken a seat on a stone bench beside her husband, and Faramir arose chivalrously that Eldarion might sit beside her.

Eldarion nodded eagerly, and Aragorn put him down next to Éowyn. The little boy giggled as he felt the active babe’s movements even over Éowyn’s dress and Faramir’s green cloak, which Éowyn wore.

Faramir shivered ever so minutely, but Aragorn noted it. The King sighed and draped his own cloak around the younger man, ignoring his Steward’s polite protest. For a Númenorean, Faramir felt the cold oddly much. Aragorn disliked thinking of how his dear friend had survived so many winters in scant comfort at Henneth Annûn.

“Arwen is going to gift you with yet another cloak, if you keep borrowing her husband’s.” Éowyn observed in amusement.

“Hmm, and why is that?” Faramir gently teased his lady back.

Aragorn chuckled. Éowyn, well into the second half of her pregnancy, normally felt overly warm. But the air was rather chill on this night before Yule, and Faramir’s cloak had evidently been appropriated by his wife. “It is no matter, tithen-gwathel.” He reassured Éowyn, “I find this weather only pleasantly brisk, after my time in the north.” That, and Aragorn wore his cloak only to set a good example for Eldarion.

“Please, Ada, tell me the story about Gil Estel?” Asked Eldarion, remembering his previous request, and settling down with his dark head resting gently on Éowyn’s rounded stomach. The White Lady wrapped her arm around the little Prince, and turned to her King with a soft smile, a mother’s smile, and one new to her.

Aragorn smiled back to see it, pleased his friends would soon be parents themselves. Putting an arm around Faramir, who stood at his side, the King began, “Long ago, in the first age, the men and elves were very afraid, because Sauron and his master Morgoth had taken over almost all of Middle Earth. They had enslaved almost all of the men and elves who lived there, save those men who became their allies. The people of Middle Earth had all but lost hope.”

“Like Middle Earth before Frodo destroyed the Ring?” Eldarion asked in his piping voice.

“Even worse, or so says your Daerada Celeborn.” Aragorn explained, “all of the free elves and men had fled to a single island, off the coast, and Morgoth and his minions, the orcs and the dragons, held sway over nearly all of Middle Earth.”

Faramir, and Aragorn, half turned at a faint noise in the same instant. This was unfortunate for Faramir, who had been in Elrohir’s line of sight, and now was wearing half of a snowball, having dodged the missile only partially.

“Really?” Aragorn asked the elder of his two elven twin foster brothers with some asperity as he helped Faramir to dust off the cold powder. “Snowballs, Elrohir?”

“‘Twas meant for you, Estel.” Elrohir protested, blushing faintly. “Faramir, wearing your cloak, looks too much like you.”

Aragorn and Faramir exchanged a look, then shrugged. They’d been told that before, but neither particularly saw the resemblance.

“And why, were you throwing a snowball at me?” Aragorn asked with a crooked smile.

“Because you never paid attention in lessons as a child.” Elrohir lectured, “The men and elves were in Lindon, on the coast, at the end of the First Age.”

“No,” Faramir spoke up in support of the King, “They were on the Isle of Balar, in a city called Lindon. Gil-galad’s Kingdom in the Second Age was also called Lindon.”1

Elrohir and Aragorn both paused to the stare at the Steward. They had both been educated by elves who had known elves who had walked Arda at the end of the First Age. Faramir had been educated by humans, so his knowledge of these esoteric facts was always a surprise to Aragorn and his family.

Faramir flushed, and explained, “I was Mithrandir’s research assistant, remember. I once made a mistake about which Lindon a certain scholar had lived in, and was subjected to a rather… pointed, ah, lecture, from the wizard about carelessness. Trust me, it was a point upon which I made sure I was clear, in the future.”

Aragorn chuckled and squeezed Faramir’s shoulder, “Only you, my Steward. Still, I am glad you survived. Mithrandir’s annoyance when he feels someone has made an error which cost him time…”

Elrohir gave Faramir a sympathetic look, “He was not always so irascible, Mithrandir. In fact, when he first came to Middle Earth, he was rather light-hearted in manner, much of the time. More often as he still was, when he sailed, with the littlest ones. But the years weighed on Mithrandir. His task was not an easy one.”

Faramir shook his head, giving them a rueful smile, “It was no matter. He was a kind friend, as well as an irascible researcher. I learned a great deal from him. And spending as much time in the archives as I did, I knew much more difficult taskmasters.” Unspoken was that one of them had been Faramir’s own father, though Denethor was not often found in the archives.

Eldarion, who alone of the group did not grasp the subtext, asked innocently, “What happened next, Ada? To the men and elves, during the First age?”

Aragorn smiled, holding his arms open. Eldarion leaped from beside Éowyn into his father’s warm embrace, and Aragorn continued, “Earendil the mariner, son of an elven Princess and a human hero, sailed all the way to the undying lands, to ask the Valar for help. And the Valar consented. Together with elves from the undying lands, they came to Middle Earth. The host of the Valar fought beside the men and the elves of Middle Earth. After 42 years, longer than our Faramir has been alive, they finally defeated Morgoth. But first, several years before the Host of the Valar arrived, the elves and men of Middle Earth saw Gil Estel, the Star of High Hope, appear in the sky.”

“How did it get there?” Eldarion asked, in awe but still trying to understand how his world worked.

Elrohir, who actually remembered Arathorn telling this story to a very small Aragorn, put in “The Valar asked Earendil to sail the night sky, with a jewel that had belonged to his wife bound to his brow.”

Aragorn smiled in thanks, more familiar now with analyzing the battle strategies used against Morgoth for possible lessons, than explaining the Mariner’s tale, before explaining “Our ancestors saw the star, and knew we had not been forgotten, or forsaken. That hope remained.”

Eldarion smiled in wonder, “Like a promise, a promise in the sky.”

“Very much like.” Elrohir nodded approvingly, “and you and your Ada, and your Naneth and I, are all descendants of Earendil. Even Faramir and Éowyn are, through the Dol Amroth line.”

Elladan, approaching from the warmth of the ball still on-going at the Great Hall of the Citadel, acerbically remarked, “And all of you are toast, if Arwen has to entertain Lord Andasond’s dragon of a wife by herself for much longer.”

Éowyn meekly accepted yet another cloak from her frowning mentor, as Faramir protested with a chuckle, “The Lady of the Stonewain valley isn’t that bad, at least not compared to Nessa’s grandmother, the old dowager Lady of Lossarnach.”

Aragorn stifled a laugh of his own, as he remembered old lady Ioreth well, and knew Faramir’s statement to be quite true.

Eldarion filed away for future reference that it was insulting to refer to an older woman as a dragon, and asked winningly, “Ada, the story isn’t done. Please, why did Daerada Elrond call you Estel?”

Elrohir and Elladan exchanged a look, and then Elladan explained, “We all called your Ada so because he was all of our hope, Eldarion-nin. Our hope that the the twilight of the Third Age was not the end of all the ages of men, that the Fourth Age could dawn with men still free, and not slaves of Sauron.”

“Much was sacrificed, by many brave and wonderful people, so that your Ada could grow up safe, nephew.” Elrohir explained, fighting tears. Unaccountable, after all of these years. But not unnoticed by Eldarion, who held out his arms to be cradled by his Uncle Elrohir. Elrohir found holding Arathorn’s grandson to be a blessing, though he still missed his friend, and many other cousins and friends, and a brother, as well, lost over the years. Fallen, guarding Isildur’s heirs.

Elladan put an arm around his younger brother Estel, and the family that had lost so much shared a moment of respectful silence, in the snow under the stars, the night before Yule. Faramir and Éowyn held hands and stood quietly, witness and welcome, but tactfully outside the circle of grief.

“Does Gil Estel still stand for hope, now that Sauron is gone, and Morg… that other one is gone?” Eldarion asked.

Aragorn pondered that, as he’d never considered it, before. Elladan and Elrohir also had no answer, though Elladan corrected absently, “‘Mor-goth,’ Darion-nin. He was… well, its complicated, but he was Sauron’s master.”

It was Faramir who answered Eldarion’s question, “Gil Estel still stands for hope, tithen ernil. At least,” Faramir smiled gently, “I like to think it does. Only now it is the hope that we, your Ada and Nana and you, and all of us who are your people, can make something of this world that the Ringbearer helped us to win, this world free of Sauron’s malignant power. That we can work together to make Middle Earth in the Fourth Age a place where all beings can grow up free of fear and hunger, and work to pursue their calling.”

“Well-said, Faramir.” Aragorn complimented his Steward with a proud smile, before giving his heir a tender look, “I would agree, ion-nin. Gil Estel is a hope that we can have peace with our neighbors, and not have to march to war against them again.”

The adults are shared a look of worry. The Haradrim were pressuring the southern borders, on and off. And the Easterlings were growing restive again, as well. War would not come this year, but it might well be that Gondor would find itself marching to battle again, ‘ere Eldarion was much older. And Mithrandir had warned them all, before sailing, that he was worried his former colleagues the Blue Wizards might have been up to no good, in the East and the South.

But Eldarion didn’t know anything of that. “Uncle Elladan told me that I could wish on Gil-Estel, and tell Adar Rhiw what I would like to receive as a gift for Yule.” :The little boy explained.

Aragorn, who hadn’t known how Elladan had learned that a soft toy eagle would be the perfect gift for his young son, cast a look of gentle approbation on the younger of his twin foster brothers, before turning back to his heir. “Oh, really, Eldarion.” He replied evenly to his son, “And what did you ask for?”

“I asked for an eagle,” Eldarion chattered ingenuously, “but its not what I most want. I most want a brother, but Uncle Elladan says I may not have one yet, that I am lucky to be getting a friend in Fara’s and Wyn’s baby soon, and that I should not ask Nana about brothers or sisters because it would hurt her feelings.” It was clear that Eldarion was rather hoping that his uncle was wrong, and that Adar Rhiw might bring him a brother, after all.

Aragorn, who remembered having asked Adar Rhiw for a brother his own age or younger, sympathized, but wasn’t sure how to reply. Fortunately, Elrohir had anticipated this gambit, or remembered, perhaps, what he had said to distract a much younger Aragorn, “A brother isn’t the type of gift one can ask for and just receive, my dear nephew. Now, a puppy, or perhaps a kitten…”

Eldarion’s eyes shone, “A puppy or a kitten of my very own?” He asked joyfully.

“Smaug will have kittens before my baby is born, ‘Darion.” Éowyn pointed out kindly, “Let’s you and I speak to your Naneth, and perhaps you can get to know Smaug’s kittens, and maybe take one back to your apartments with you when they are old enough.”

Aragorn mentally resigned himself to Eldarion’s acquisition of one of Smaug’s many kittens, as his disloyal Steward chuckled. “Just remember, Fara-nin, you will have a child of your own soon enough,” Aragorn warned, “and I could breed Wreck or Ruin, and give her a puppy.”

“Only if Éomer does not beat you to it.” Faramir said, his eyes laughing.

“True enough.” Aragorn conceded, as Eldarion asked Faramir, “Fara, what do you hope Adar Rhiw will bring for you?”

“Ahh…” Faramir was struck momentarily speechless, Aragorn noted with amusement. It was quite a feat, though this wasn’t the first time Eldarion had managed it. “I’m not sure, Eldarion.” The Prince of Ithilien answered honestly.

“Uncle Elladan says one should think about these things ahead of time, and let Adar Rhiw know.” Eldarion explained helpfully, turning back to explain to Elrohir again why Eldarion himself would make a very good custodian for a kitten.

“Does your answer indicate that you don’t know how to ask Adar Rhiw to package a long-term peace on your hostile border, or something else, tithen-gwador?” Pressed Aragorn gently, keeping Faramir back as the rest of their party proceeded into the warmth of the Citadel.

Faramir’s gray eyes met Aragorn’s in shared worry, “Mostly the first, iaur gwador.” Faramir tried to shake off his worry, and lighten the mood, “Though I don’t know as I shall be on Adar Rhiw’s good list, as much as I was in your bad graces this year.”

Aragorn chuckled and clapped Faramir gently on the back. “You need have no fear on that count, Faramir-nin. I told you when last we spoke of the matter that I had forgiven you for being excessively assiduous and cursedly reckless in defense of your people, and I know for a fact that Adar Rhiw has not forgotten you.” In fact, Aragorn knew that Arwen had enlisted Nessa’s and Éowyn’s help to commission a lap-harp that was large enough to produce an acceptable sound, but small enough to make the journey back and forth between Ithilien and Minas Tirith easily enough.

“Oh?” Faramir questioned, not quite immune to a child-like curiosity, and even less so to a desire to tease his friend and King in turn, “Are you and Adar-Rhiw on good terms, then?”

Grinning, Aragorn teased back, “Of course, tithen-nin. We edair have a special relationship with Adar Rhiw, after all.”

Faramir looked toward Eldarion, visible through the long windows as he bravely went to rescue his mother from a repetitive courtier. “Your son is wonderfully perceptive and kind for his age, Aragorn mellon nin. You must be very proud.”

“I am, and I love him well.” Aragorn agreed, choosing his words very carefully, “But that does not mean I could not love another, just as well.”

Faramir drew back as if stung, and Aragorn sighed. But he also noted his young friend’s eyes moving fleetingly in Éowyn’s direction, and a tinge of gratitude in Faramir’s eyes as he noted that the White Lady was not present. Twice, Faramir had refused the honor of being adopted into Aragorn’s family, as an adult heir of the King’s and Queen’s, junior to any other heirs of their body, but regent by right after Arwen for any underage sibling who inherited the throne. Once before Eldarion’s birth, and once since. Refused on the grounds that Faramir would not be an usurper, and that the Steward as an heir of the King’s was too much power for any one man. Faramir’s looking to see where Éowyn was told Aragorn that Éowyn had come to disagree with Faramir’s continued refusals. Aragorn couldn’t use that, yet. But it was useful information, in this dance of love and limits that he and Faramir were continuing.

At length, Faramir replied softly, “I thought you had said you would not bring that up, again.”

Aragorn smiled tolerantly, “I didn’t, Faramir. You did. I only meant that I would welcome future children, after Eldarion’s asking Adar Rhiw for a brother.” Aragorn paused as Faramir looked at him disbelievingly, then proposed, “Perhaps, my dear young Steward, you have a guilty conscience, for as my son, I could order to drink something which would ensure sleep tonight. But, as you have taken great pains to point out, you are not my son, so I have not that right.”

Faramir looked away uncomfortably, but did not say again resentfully that Aragorn was not his father and had no right to comment on his sleeping habits, or lack thereof. Aragorn supposed this was progress. At length, Faramir offered, “I’ll take something, tomorrow. If I’m still having trouble sleeping. Sometimes on the eve of Yule I have visions. I wouldn’t want to miss one, if its important.”

Aragorn nodded, aware that this was as good as he was going to get, and pleased to have gotten even that much agreement. Faramir could be difficult, but he would do as he said he would, barring unforeseen developments, like another invasion of Ithilien. Aragorn paused a moment outside, after Faramir had bid him a rather stiff farewell. The King paused to ask Eru and the Valar to protect his son, and his son of the heart. And to hope that the Fourth Age would see their hopes realized, rather than their fears.


1 Additional A/N: Faramir’s explanation about Lindon being a city on the Isle of Balar is not canon. It is something I made up for the DH AU, to explain an arguably inconsistency in canon, where certain elves (including Galadriel and Celeborn) were in Lindon during the end of the First Age, but elsewhere it is stated that Lindon was founded by Gil-Galad in Year 1 of the Second Age.

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6 Comment(s)


NB: Comments span all chapters and may contain spoilers!

Oh these are wonderful. Eldarion is such an astute child :)

— Maria    14 October 2010, 01:28    #

A very interesting beginning. I look forward to reading more!

— Ria    14 October 2010, 03:05    #

I love these father-son moments, they’re so perfect and heartwarming.

— Anna    20 December 2010, 17:55    #

Just lovely!

— Linda    11 January 2011, 09:58    #

This is so lovely to read! It’s light and bright and makes me smile or chuckle during reading. Very enjoyable, I hope you update soon.

A.

— Aneyrin    2 February 2011, 15:56    #

Cute, cute, cute story.
Thank you for sharing it with us.

— lille mermeid    16 May 2011, 15:50    #

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