Disclaimer: Nope. Not mine...Wish it was, but it's not...
A/N: Okay, I've decided to do something a little different, at least for me...This is A/U just for the record. So please don't tell me in a review because I already know. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this fic. I'm not sure how long it is going to be...Please let me know what you think in a review! Hugs and bunnies!
May Angels Lead You In
The small child shivered as a cold wind rattled the flimsy, hastily built walls of the orphanage. Many colored bruises peeked out from hole-filled clothing, barely more enough to cover the child, even as small as he was. His hands were red and chapped from work and cold and his feet were worse, unshod and nearly frozen off with cold. The boy woke and tried not to make a sound—he knew he'd be in for a beating if he woke anyone at this time of night.
It had only been a few months since he'd been found by a party traveling out of Bree, wandering on his own. They had taken him and left him at an orphanage in Minas Tirith. They would have been rid of him sooner, but there was nowhere to leave him in any of the small towns and villages the party had stopped in. He'd been found, clothes stained with blood and other foul things, hungry, tired, and alone. He did not remember how he had come to be there or where his parents were. He told the traders his name was 'Ara' but had spoken little even when asked questions. The traders were not cruel, but they had no experience with children and had determined that the orphanage would be better for him. They did not realize that such places were not always kind.
So, Ara was left at the orphanage. He was small for his age and the older children often picked on him, leaving bruises and calling him names. They delighted in making him miserable. Often they hid his blanket or tripped him as he carried his meal to the table, causing him to dump it on the ground. The caretakers were not much better. All of the children had chores and worked hard, Ara was forced to wash floors and dishes, and haul rubbish. If these things were not done to satisfaction, more bruises were added to those given by the children as well as welts left by a leather strap. When the poor boy was tripped as he went to table, the caretakers did nothing, scolding him for being so clumsy as to waste good food, refusing to give him more. So it had gone for several months.
The poor boy was hardly more than skin and bones, beaten in both body and spirit. It seemed to him there was no good in the world anymore, a sad state for a young child of no more than five. At night, he dreamt of a family who would love him, the only thing that kept him from giving up completely.
Elrond Peredhil sighed as he watched the snow falling outside his window. It was all so cold and dark since his wife had sailed West. He longed to see her beautiful face again, hold her close...His twin sons were so full of anger and grief, seeking vengeance on the terrible creatures responsible for their mother's pain. His daughter could not remain where such happy memories once dwelled, now turned to ashes, and had departed to live with her mother's parents. The world held no hope for him, for his shattered family. The wise Elven-lord knew not what to do to keep his family together, nor did he care. Grief weighed too heavily on him.
Ara stumbled as he lugged the bucket of soapy water down the hall, spilling it across the floor. "BOY!" roared Treneth, appearing from the doorway the water had seeped under. Ara shrunk back, slipping in the spilled water, and tripping over the bucket. The burly man towered over the tiny child, seeming larger than he was due to the anger that radiated from him. Ara let out a soft whimper as the caretaker grabbed his arm hard, "Get this mess cleaned up, filthy rats-spawn! Do it quick or I'll beat ye till ye wished ye're never born!" he snarled, his breath stinking of beer. Harshly, he half-threw, half-pushed the young boy toward the mess. Ara quickly began to do what he could with the threadbare rag he had for washing the floor, bending over his task and working feverishly as he heard the man's footsteps moved away. Tears slowly dripped down the child's chapped face, joining the soapy water on the floor. At that moment he wanted nothing more than to disappear. Somehow he had the feeling this was not how it was supposed to be.
It was late into the night before Ara finished his chores and was allowed to go to bed. He had been forced to work through the evening meal and his stomach growled with hunger. Knowing he couldn't sneak any food—to do so would garner Treneth's wrath for he kept close account of what the kitchens used—Ara sat on his bed in the corner, hugging his knees and watching the night sky through a large hole near the roof. He smiled as his eyes found the brightest one, the one he loved best. It looked so peaceful and safe, like nothing could bother it or hurt it. It was the one reason the young child kept his defiant, free spirit. To him, the star meant hope, hope that some family or another would come to adopt him or perhaps some distant, unknown relative would find him there and take him home. Slowly, Ara's eyes drooped until he fell fast asleep, face still turned upward to catch the pale, bright rays of the star.
A/N: Okay, so here it is. The first chapter. What did you think? Is it worth continuing? The identity of the boy will become more apparent soon and the pieces will fall into place, I promise. Please let me know if you want me to continue by reviewing! Thanks! Hugs and bunnies,