Gandalf stared into the flickering flames, his mind apparently elsewhere. His ears, however, were trained upon the stiff silence of the man beside him.

As Gandalf heard the light footsteps approach the man, he leaned back against the tree, closing his eyes and attuning himself to their movements, their whispers, their emotions.

Sits down, light-hearted, beside the man.

Looks up.

"What troubles you, mellon nín?" A whisper, a hand on his arm.

Shoulders relax, silent sigh, weary, turmoil, doubt, fear. "I will be well in time."

Disbelieving glance.

Meets his gaze, sighs audibly. "I fear for the future."

Settles beside him. "What future?"

"The future of Arda, the future of the two kingdoms, the future of my family and myself. And the future I cannot change." Looks at him. Distraught. Ruined. Torn.

Silence. Shifts slightly. "All futures are fearful. That is the nature of the unknown. There is no reassurance to give, as there is no assurance. That is why the Valar, in their goodness, bring to the world those such as yourself. Every age needs Hope."

Looks to him. "And when Hope itself needs reassurance, he is given it." Smiles to him, relaxing further.

Laughs. "Let Hope give all of himself to others and keep none for himself. It shall be returned in time. Now sleep, Estel. It is far too late for this jibberish."

Laughs, banters, but lies down.

Lies beside him, humming a song to the stars.

Falls asleep to the voice.

Finishes song, falls into Elven Dream.

Gandalf smiles to himself. The Hope of Mankind, finding strength in the roots of those before him. There would be Hope for the race of Men.