For those of you who have undoubtedly been becoming frustrated with my lack of posts, especially on A Night of Worry, I would like to apologize. I have recently lost three members of my family, and writing – especially for something as emotionally charged as the relationship between Aragorn and Gandalf – has become very difficult for me. Hence the general lack of updates for… *winces* eight months.
In reference to this tale – it is likely that it is a one-shot.
I, of course, do not own these marvelous characters, nor the world in which they inhabit. I just take them out to play every once in a while. *sigh* If only, if only…
Translations are as follows:
Gwador nín – my brother
Estel – hope
Ada – dad/father
Tithen mín – young one
Glorfindel had taken Frodo, sorely wounded and fading, to the House of Elrond only moments before. His three companions, stricken in terror – both of the Ringwraiths and for their friend – were barely able to stand, though they continued on at the Ranger's behest.
For too long had Aragorn been away from his home, and he longed to see his family once more. His life as a Ranger of the North left little time for the Dûnadan's own use, and he had not been in Imladris for… he didn't even remember how long. Had it been six years? Seven? Aragorn shook his head in dismay. Perhaps his brothers would know. A wistful smile flitted across his carven features at the thought, confusing poor Pippin, who had chosen just that moment to ask their guide what was going to happen next.
The remaining Hobbits were drenched and exhausted, but each of them dearly wanted to continue on so that they could reassure themselves that Frodo yet lived. "Strider?" Pippin wasn't able to put anything more substantial in the question; but the Ranger understood regardless.
"It is not far, now, Pippin," he said gently. "Imladris – Rivendell, as you would know it – lies just a few miles ahead." Aragorn gestured over the hill, showing both the true and false paths that were designed to confuse enemies. "This is our way," he said. "May it be quick."
And so they departed, Strider leading; for only he could see the true path.
Less than twenty minutes later, Strider paused, raising a hand to halt the Hobbits. After listening for a moment, he grinned and called out, "Nice try!" (in Westron, for the Hobbits' benefit).
To the three Shirelings' eternal shock, laughter was heard as the answer. Two figures dropped from the trees, landing just ahead and to either side of the Ranger. "But, Estel," one complained, "we hadn't even done anything!"
"Not yet, you mean," Strider replied with a grin, shaking his head in exasperation. "Will you two never grow up?"
"It's not likely," the other said in an identically inflected voice. The two stepped forward simultaneously, each gripping one of Strider's shoulders in a gesture of welcome. "It is good to see you well, Estel."
"And you as well, Elladan, Elrohir. It has been too long."
The brothers – for it was obvious to the Hobbits that they were related, if not twins – nodded, then the one on the left said, quietly, "Far too long."
There was a moment of silence, and then the other said: "Come, Estel, for it is obvious that you are exhausted."
Strider snorted. "If you think I am tired, you haven't been paying nearly enough to my companions!"
At this, the two looked beyond the Man, fixing all-too-bright grey eyes upon the Hobbits, who found their gaze impossible to hold. Merry shifted from foot to foot, nervous, while Pippin chose to look down. Sam stared at them, awed.
"I apologize, master Hobbits," the Elf on the left said. "I am Elrohir, of the House of Elrond."
"And I am Elladan. We will lead you to our father's home." Identical figures bowed, then turned their gaze back to Strider, who was now chuckling under his breath as the group moved off.
"I haven't seen you two do something so absentminded as to forget guests in years," the Hobbits heard Strider choke out under his laughter.
"Oh? Pray tell, when was the last time you were home to judge, gwador?" Elrohir asked indignantly.
"The last time he was home, he was only here long enough for Ada to set his collarbone," Elladan said quietly. "We weren't even home."
"Don't worry about it, Elladan. None of us are home very often, and you know it," Strider forced the Elf to look at him, then clasped his shoulder. "I'm glad we're all here, right now."
Elladan forced a laugh. "You're right, Estel. I begin to understand why Ada took you in."
Strider looked askance at him. "Oh? And why's that?"
"You make us live for each day."
"Only because he gets wounded every other day!" Elrohir laughed at his brother.
"Hey!" Strider seemed both indignant and joyful at the light teasing. "It's not like you two are any better!"
Elladan cocked his head at Strider. "Are you implying something?"
"Only that you've had nearly three thousand years to get into trouble. I shudder to think how many times Ada has patched the both of you up over the years. Just in the first eighteen years I was here, I can distinctly remember one of you dragging the other back here at death's doorstep thirty times. And at least five of those, I was the one dragging you home." Strider had lapsed into a language the Hobbits couldn't understand halfway through this dialogue, leaving them lost as to the conversation.
Elrohir reached over and ruffled Strider's hair in an affectionate gesture, only to have his hand batted away with an accompanying glare. "We've missed you, tithen mín. Please tell me you can stay, at least for a week?"
But Strider shook his head. "I can't promise anything, Elrohir, and you know very well why." He looked back at the Hobbits, noticing that he and his brothers had unintentionally pulled away from them with their habitual long strides. "I am sorry," he said in Westron when the Hobbits had caught up.
Merry shook his head, dismissing the apology. "It's all right, Strider," he said.
"Do they know how Frodo is?" Sam asked.
"We do not," Elladan answered him. "We know that he is now in Lord Elrond's care, but little more than that."
"Did Ada chase you out?" Strider asked them.
Elladan nodded. "Aye, he and Mithrandir both."
"Gandalf is here?" there was joy in Strider's tone.
"Aye," Elrohir growled, "he is."
"What have you done to earn his ire, Elrohir?" Strider sounded as if he were digging up blackmail rather than being merely curious to the Hobbits' ears.
The other Elf chuckled. "He helped Ada drug him."